The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, February 25, 2001

Off the shelf
An unnatural border, but real divisiveness
Review by V. N. Datta

Nationalism: cultural and spiritual
Review by Rumina Sethi

Fear can really be killing
Review by Kuldip Kalia

Pop culture study this
Review by M.L. Sharma

Short story is not editorial writing
Review by Jaswant Kaur

Punjabi literature
A volley of self-doubt from Dun valley
Review by Jaspal Singh

Punjabi Literature
A poet writer with mystical leanings
Review by Satya Pal Sehgal

Inward look at Indo-Anglian works
Review by Akshaya Kumar

The rise and rise of the PIL


the shelf
An unnatural border, but real divisiveness
Review by
V. N. Datta

GENERALLY speaking I am weary of using travel accounts in writing history. I am surprised at senior researchers producing full-scale studies on them or using them as the main source material in their doctoral theses.

Of course, there are a number of travel accounts which are of immense value, but these are very few. Tavernier and Mannunci are unreliable on the Mughal period, though Bernier is fairly accurate in his assessment. Reginald Heber, the first bishop of Calcutta, produced a reliable account on the social and political conditions in the early 19th century India. Jacquement’s narrative on Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his court is most revealing.

Mostly travellers are handicapped due to the short duration of their stay in this country and the inadequate knowledge of the language of people with whom they communicate. In such circumstances, they are likely to depend on hearsay or tittle-tattle. Though travellers show a lamentable lack of instinctive understanding of the country they visit, this deficiency is somewhat compensated by their and detachment in recording their observations.

The book under review "Amritsar to Lahore: Crossing the Border between India and Pakistan" by Stephen Alter (Penguin Books, London, pages 240, Rs 250) is different from the general run of travel accounts and is likely to startle and stupefy the general reader by the novelty of the impressions recorded in it. Travellers share their experience of what they see, observe and note.

The author, born in Srinagar, studied in the Mission School, Mussorie, and is married to an Indian, Ameeta, whose family migrated to India from Lahore after partition in 1947. Alter’s parents were missionaries who had spent a good part of their life in Rawalpindi, preaching the Gospel.

In 1997, Alter visited the cities of Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and the hill station of Murrie in Pakistan. Crossing the border by train, he retraces the legendary route of the famous Frontier Mail and after reaching the Khyber pass and Torkham, a border town between Afghanistan and Pakistan, he returns by bus by the Grand Trunk road that was once the lifeline of the undivided subcontinent, and is still part of our cultural heritage, a national highway at least in the Indian part of the territory.

Sher Shah Suri had built the first route from the Khyber pass to Delhi, later the British followed the same alignment and gave the highway its present name, G.T. Road.

A novelist, Alter teaches at MIT. In this work he claims neither to be a scholar nor a journalist but simply a traveller who bears a longstanding grudge against borders because they are barricades that "choke the flow of radical discourses and discussions between countries". The author kept a diary in 1997 recording his observations which he has worked into the book under review. Though he thinks the border drawn between India and Pakistan is something to be rejected as falsehood and a tragic mistake of history, he found in Pakistan a strong feeling for the border which the people regarded as a symbol of identity and pride.

The book opens with a synoptic review of the Indo-Pak relations since 1947. The author assails Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, for the rise of terrorism in Punjab and holds her responsible for the tragic Operation Bluestar by adopting a short-sighted policy. Initially she helped boost the influence of religious militants like Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, which backfired, and Bhindranwale’s campaign escalated into a fiery separatist movement which precipitated the Indian army’s attack on the Golden Temple.

The author focuses on the 1984 killing of Sikhs after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, and the destruction of the Babri mosque on December 6, 1992. Consequently, secularism, which the Congress had professed so eloquently as its cardinal and devoutly-cherished principle, became a casualty.

Alter is convinced that the partition of India was a grave blunder, which instead of settling contentious issues, has multiplied them, and brought the possibility of a nuclear war between the two countries which are spending enormously on their military. He argues that the best course to settle the Hindu-Muslim question is to evolve some sort of federation or confederation. The question is whether in 1947 Jinnah and the Muslim League would have accepted any such proposal. Throughout this work a vision of unified India persists in the mind of the author.

Though Alter has given vivid and lively accounts of the places of interest he has visited in Pakistan, particularly the sites of ancient monuments and Mughal architecture, it is his insightful observations on Pakistan and its people which are of special interest and significance for the reader.

The creation of Bangladesh had dealt a severe blow to Pakistan’s identity as a nation. Also regional conflicts pose a serious threat to the integrity of the country. Alter emphasises that due to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the minorities in Pakistan are subjected to persecution. The author laments: "It is the darkest irony that a nation founded on the concept of unity among Muslims in South Asia is now torn apart by serious strife and violence."

Christians constitute nearly three million of the country’s 140 million people. About the treatment of Christians in Pakistan, the author writes: "The Christians in Pakistan are among the poorest and most disadvantaged citizens of the country and are exploited because of their social class and their faith."

The Shia-Sunni conflict has became the fulcrum of Pakistani politics. During 1991-96, at least 38 places of Ahmadi worship were damaged and 15 graves damaged.

The Hindus, mostly concentrated in Sind, are targeted on account of burgeoning fundamentalist activity. After the destruction of the Babri mosque at least two dozen Hindu temples were destroyed in Pakistan. In its annual report in March, 2000, the Human Rights Commission observed that "Pakistan’s religious minorities are stalked and persecuted". Things have come to such a pass that the Forman Christian College, Lahore, which was once one of the finest educational institutions, has now been taken over by Islamic fundamentalists.

Time and again the author emphasises that borders are of no consequence in the ultimate analysis. For nations, he maintains, what is important is not geography but history, which raises the question of identity. The foremost question that faces the citizen of Pakistan is, "who am I? A Pakistani, a Muslim or a mohajir from India?" Such vital cultural issues which influence the life of the people are swamped by the rising tide of Muslim fundamentalism. But questions of race, religion and identity raise different situations which tend to defy solutions inimical to the interest of the country.

Alter does not see any possibility of a settlement of the Kashmir dispute which remains festering and unresolved. He attacks Nehru for betraying his friend Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who, despite strong opposition from some of his colleagues, had made the state of Jammu and Kashmir accede to the Indian Union subject to the holding of a plebiscite. Nehru did not hold the plebiscite and went further in arresting the Sheikh. This trial proved nothing, but only brought political instability in the state leading eventually to militancy in the state.

According to the author, it is futile on the part of India and Pakistan to fight over the Siachen glaciar where not even a blade of grass grows. Both the countries regard this place of considerable strategic importance. The issue has become one of prestige costing much both in terms of lives and material.

Both the countries got involved in Kargil but refrained from declaring war, though army commanders described "warlike conditions" in the region, and a thousand men were killed before the fighting ended. The Pakistan government withdraw its support to the insurgents after diplomatic pressure was exerted by former USPresident Clinton. The author thinks that the Kargil episode has established for Atal Behari Vajpayee a more secure tenure as Prime Minister. On the other hand, in Pakistan Nawaz Sharif was branded as a traitor for having capitulated in Kargil.

Alter sees no possibility of the cessation of hostilities between the two countries. He concluded wryly, "Through all this upheavel and conflict runs the border, an artificial fault line that has created a rift in the subcontinent, an unstable and invisible barrier that stands between people who have shared the same Indianness for more than a millennium".

This work is written in a breezy and limpid style evoking memories of the past that still haunt those who had migrated from West Punjab and now live in India.


Nationalism: cultural and spiritual
Review by Rumina Sethi

Mapping the Nation edited by Gopal Balakrishnan. Verso, London. Pages 329.

THE good number of books on nationalism since Benedict Anderson’s "Imagined Communities" underscores the lively debate on its nature, its global spread, its role and its potential in pursuing historical, sociological, economic and political inquiry. Studies of nationalism, more than in any other area, have had a marked impact on the sphere of cultural politics and overturned our understanding of what we commonly believe to be a kind of national sentiment identified quite simply by a homogeneity of interests. Cultural nationalism derives its strength from the past — mainly folk traditions, religion, rural dialects, as in Herder — in order to show one’s cultural uniqueness and thereby stimulate national consciousness.

The invoking of the past and maintaining a productive link between the past and religion become important for initiating a nationalist upsurge. Tradition, generally taken as a fixed referent, is repeatedly shaped and restructured to suit the prevailing political temper. While tradition is identified with past culture, its alleged qualities of uniformity and homogeneity are variously interpreted by the very exponents — both imperialist and nationalist — of tradition in changing political contexts. The consciousness of nationalist sentiment rests very strongly on the capacity of the intelligentsia to provoke the people into belief.

It is another matter, however, whether there is any truth in the nationalistic environment created by the proponents of nationalism. In fact, what is strikingly apparent is the type of history that is evoked, a history which draws on floating myths, local legends and folklore, and could easily be faulted. The essays in the present volume have, generally, such an intent: nationalism is exposed as a selective and partial category in which imagination and manoeuvre play a vital role in fashioning a national consciousness and cultural uniqueness.

When culturally reified structures collide with the processes of modernisation and social reform in the attainment of political ends, nationalism shows its regressive aspect. The requirements of a modern state and the aspirations of the masses are hardly compatible with a nostalgic retreat into culture. This is very relevant in anti-colonial struggles where a culturally imagined unification must work side by side with mass mobilisation, the primary motive being the establishment of an independent nation-state. The emerging nation-state, consequently, witnesses rapid appropriation of workers, peasants, minorities, and the lower orders, and enlists their participation.

In Gellner’s view, it is the necessity of moving from static agrarian society to modernity and industrialisation, and the consequent necessity for homogeneity, that is responsible for nationalism. Cultural homogeneity does not constitute even a small part of agrarian society. The formation of political units is not based on a shared culture but on cross-cutting memberships and loyalties, not on "nationality" but on linguistic and cultural differentiation.

However, expanding technology and the consequent new society do create a certain standardisation which makes for a materialist, but not Marxist, theory of nationalism. Thus it is only possible to determine the nature of nationalism after the revolution; the nation does not "awaken" from already existing cultural standards.

Even as the perspective of modernisation cannot be ignored, the "romance" of nationalism cannot be altogether explained away through Gellner’s diagrams depicting the transition of societies. Nationalist political doctrines can exist in societies which are still in their pre-industrial stages or, on the other hand, be missing from industrial societies where mobilisation of the masses has been effected. Nationalism, as we know, is a populist phenomenon and its motivating force comes from the intelligentsia, often making it an urban movement of intellectuals, involving the concept of an idyllic culture of the past presumed to be enjoyed by pre-industrial, rural groups. Aided by "inviting" the masses into history, nationalism may even be "squeezed" out of nationality (to use Tom Nairn’s phrase). As the essays in this volume show, the views about nationalism are as manifold as the critiques on them.

John Breuilly has contributed substantially to the idea of the political formation of nation-states by dismissing as "misleading" the notions of nationalism as a manifestation of national consciousness, as something embodying a national interest or even its relation to class interests. His view would refute Kohn’s early argument that the political formation of the nation-state is linked to the consciousness of nationality. In other words, Breuilly’s "fundamental" point that nationalism is "above and beyond all else, about politics" opposes Kohn’s idea of a cultural entity that first forms largely in the consciousness and then gets transformed into the political nation-state. Such a premise as Kohn’s does not consider those who, in Hobsbawm’s view, are "the objects of (the elite’s) action and propaganda".

"Mapping the Nation" is marked equally by essays belonging in spirit to the future, that is, essays which focus less on the origins, rise and nature of nationalism and more on the period after the collapse of the Soviet Union, such as Gopal Balakrishnan’s contribution towards establishing a relationship between nation and class. Balakrishnan here treads the grounds covered earlier by Immanuel Wallerstein in "Race, Nation, Class" (with Etienne Balibar) where agency is linked to the genesis of races (genetically continuous groups), of nations (historical socio-political groups), and of ethnic groups (culture groups), all of which he locates in the historical structure of the capitalist world economy that creates core-periphery antinomies.

Balakrishnan critiques Benedict Anderson’s emphasis on print capitalism to usher in the new nation. In Anderson’s view, it is the literary culture which fixes and makes permanent the fluidity of the conceptual nation-state and stabilises it into a sacral image. In his view, the print medium helps increase the awareness of countless readers and creates a particular, invisible but nationally imagined community. Balakrishnan’s subtle critique is based on Anderson’s emphasis on religion and language as the defining marks of national communities. By focusing on kinship bonds, Balakrishnan voids the creation of national affinities based primarily on religion.

Partha Chatterjee’s criticism of the formation of nationally imagined communities as deriving from Anderson’s premises is more forced. Referring to Anderson’s argument that the nationalist elite had only western "modular" forms to choose from, he points out that if this were so, what would nation-states be left to "imagine"? Anti-colonial nationalism was characterised by its difference from the existing "modular" forms of national society which are believed to have been already provided by the historical experience of nationalism in western Europe. As Chatterjee writes, nationalism would be reduced to a "caricature" of itself if the indigenous elite had not created a divide between the spiritual and the material.

In spite of borrowing ceaselessly on the level of materiality, it was on the spiritual plane that nation was already "sovereign", even though the state was controlled by a colonial power. Although Chatterjee’s own familiar categories of spiritual/material may be easily traced to Orientalism, and are thoroughly essentialistic, he does provide a ground where there was enormous scope for invention, and space for the nation to be imagined. Within such an argument, any experiments in indigenising or nativising may be seen as an expression of the "inner domain of cultural identity" from which the rulers are kept out.

He writes: "The point, therefore, is no longer one of simply demarcating and identifying the two domains in their separateness, which is what was required in order first to break down the totalising claims of a nationalist historiography. Now the task is to trace in their mutually conditioned historicities the specific forms that have appeared, on the one hand, in the domain defined by the hegemonic project of nationalist modernity and , on the other, in the numerous fragmented resistances to that normalising project."

As the contributions in this volume show, nationalism remains a topic of particular interest because it has often largely developed through the cultural realm and therefore constitutes perhaps the major historical form of identifiable cultural politics. The arguments are marshalled with much scholarship from diverse fields enabling an understanding of the heroic tendencies of nationalism which are often largely developed through cultural exigencies and stereotypes, thereby constituting perhaps a dominant form of cultural politicking.


Fear can really be killing
Review by Kuldip Kalia

For the soul fearlessness: a Book on Self-Empowerment compiled by M.M. Walia. Sterling Publishers. New Delhi. Pages 63. Price not mentioned.

ARE you frightened? Do you feel scared of viewing something which is unpleasant? Are you afraid of hearing sad or bad news? Are you horrified at the sight of mass death in a natural calamity. These are nothing but symptoms of fear psychosis and, in such a situation, try to strengthen the feeling of faith within you, reaffirm the faith in the creator and, above all, develop an outlook against fear.

The book under review inspires, encourages and strives to achieve excellence; helps in seeking thoughts and actions which generate knowledge and ultimately visualise the characteristics of fearlessness.

Lack of faith and a sense of guilt are the prime ingredients of fear. Past mistakes and misfortunes are a springboard and thus any recollection or looking back causes fear. The mind is occupied by things which are yet to happen or possibly would not happen at all. Fear, by all means, springs front ignorance. Most of the time it thrives on frustration and the most unfortunate thing is that it not only persists but continues to grow over time.

Fear of poverty, fear of criticism, fear of ill-health, fear of loss of someone’s love, fear of old age and fear of death are some of the so-called "ghosts" of fear which haunt almost every human being. However, fear of failure is the deepest among young ones and adults who have yet to prove themselves.

Fear sometimes, creates an imaginary terror and thereby leads to stress and strain. Initiative is discouraged, enthusiasm is undermined and there is an atmosphere of uncertainty all around. Not only this; it causes sleepless nights, leads to miseries and unhappiness. In certain cases it prevents one from doing and seeing the right thing in right perspective. Presence of mind gets sidelined. It can even kill. A long-sustained fear tends to keep one away from God. It creates conflict within. If such a conflict is not resolved, it weakens the personality.

But there is nothing to be ashamed of fear. As somebody said "Fear is a temporary state of mind." It is controllable. However there is a warning from the Mother who points out, "Fear is slavery, work is liberty, courage is victory." At the same time, Maurice Freehill asks,"Who is more foolish: the child afraid of darkness or a man afraid of light?" For courage to face any situation, one must heed to John F. Kennedy when he says, "Each man must look into his own soul."

There can be good or bad fever. Any fever which produces a healthy attitude is good. Precaution is always good. However it becomes bad when it overpowers us. So, "fearlessness" is the most virtuous characteristic or trait of one’s personality. Vinoba Bhave rightly commented that "fearlessness has always had the first place amongst the six divine virtues of man listed in the Bhagavad Gita."

Swami Vivekananda goes one step further and says that it is fearlessness that "brings heaven in a moment. Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached."However Swami Nischalananda made it clear that "fearlessness is not a characteristic feature only of a spiritually elevated person. It can become a necessary day-to-day attitude of life of every individual."

So the most important thing is to develop an attitude which can help fighting fear. For that the word "fear" has to be relegated to the background and "faith" must take its place; otherwise nothing can prevent fear and everything appears to be "illogical". Of course, the best course of action would be to look upon fear as a "red light in complicated traffic".

Nothing is better than caution so long it does not transgress rationality.

Whenever there is any danger of fear overpowering the mind, it is always better to ask the mind to summon reserve forces to fight it.

Thus never feel afraid of discovering the truth. Another important thing is to "learn to attack the thing which makes you afraid". Once it is done, it mens half the battle is already won.

Moreover fever emerges when one loves "self" because the "love of self always feeds fear but love of God destroys it(fear)". That is why, the Mother said, "one must be truly consecrated to the Divine; all fears vanish immediately like a dream."

Discipline, of course, is a friend in need. Habits make fear less effective. Calm behaviour, a sense of humour, good companion, loyalty, physical wellbeing, instinct of knowing or discovering the truth help to lessen the intensity of fear. "Weakness and cowardice are worse deaths than physical death." This is how the Upanishads give the message of fearlessness.

Swami Vivekananda rightly pointed out, "The moment you fear, you are nobody." One wonders what could be better said than this to dispel the effect of fear.


Pop culture study this
Review by M.L. Sharma

Atlas and Survey of South Asian History by Karl.J. Schmidt. Vision Books, New Delhi. Pages 165+xv. Rs 550.

THIS book is an exhaustive survey of a large expanse of historical events right from pre-historical and Aryan times to modern times covering India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, SriLanka, Nepal and Bhutan. The book has mainly covered four topics: (a) political and military history from ancient to modern times; (ii) geography, climate and languages; (iii) economic developments, including trade and industry; and (iv) social and cultural history — religions, education, population and urbanisation.

Spread over 69 chapters, the book gives a detailed account of all important events in a socio-politico-geographical perspective of the Indian subcontinent. Some of the important chapters are: "Harappan culture", "Growth of the Maurayan empire", "Growth of Islam in South Asia", "Growth of the Delhi Sultanate", "Growth of the Moghul empire", "Growth of the Marathas", "Anglo-French conflict in south Asia", "Growth of the British Army in India", and "India, Pakistan and Bangladesh today". With as many as 96 newly drawn maps, the author has dealt with all important aspects of the historical cultures of six countries. He has extensively drawn from other sources also. He has tried mostly to present the commonly accepted versions.

The first chapter deals with the geography of South Asia.The author believes geography has a significant effect on the overall development of human culture. He divides the mountain ranges into three groups — the Hindu Kush, Karakoram and the Greater Himalayan ranges. He says theIndo-Gangetic plain is the product of the alluvial deposits of three major rivers — the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra.

In the chapter "Growth of Islam in South Asia" Schmidt recounts the events in graphic details that led to the victory of Muhammad bin Qasim, who launched an offensive against Sind in retaliation against the plundering of the Arab ship by Sindhi pirates. About the success of Mahmud Ghazni’s raids, he says: "Although Mahmud never claimed any territory in South Asia during his raids, preferring only to destroy, kill and loot, his raids did highlight the military and political weakness of the indigenous Hindu kingdoms of the time: the Hindus used inferior strategy and tactics. Their armies were disabled by caste distinctions and their rulers never seemed to able to unite to repel the invaders, relying instead on their own individual efforts — a policy, which in the end proved disastrous."

Mahmud Ghazni’s main purpose, he says, was to plunder and loot. It was Mahammad Ghori whose ambitious designs to conquer and rule that had led to the foundation of the Islamic rule in India. He has recounted the events that let do the downfall of the Delhi sultanate.

In the chapter, "Mughal South Asia", the author has given only a brief sketch of the great Mughals, ignoring their eminence in Indian history. Akbar and Shahjahan have not received proper treatment.Noor Jahan who had the reins of power in her hands, hardly finds mention in Jahangir’s account. He describes Aurangzeb as an "extremely devoted and orthodox follower of Islam", who was a fanatic and just the opposite of secular rulers like Akbar. To call him an extremely devoted follower of Islam is an overestimation.

"The Growth of the Cotton Textile Industry 1854-1947" traces its history in India. This will help textile experts in the study and growth of the industry. The chapter, "Economic Development in Pakistan since 1947" provides material for researchers in history and economics. He describes the economic situation of Pakistan before and after the creation of Bangladesh.

The chapter, "Separatism and Irredentism in South Asia since 1948" gives a totally different version of the formation of the two states. He says "In 1960s the Indian Government sought to accommodate Sikh separatists in Punjab seeking the creation of independent ‘Khalistan’ by dividing Punjab into two states, a predominantly Sikh state (Punjab) and a predominantly Hindu state (Haryana)". This version appears to be controversial and is not based on facts. The division was on the basis of language.

The attractive features of the book are its fine printing, authentic maps, a large expanse of themes, dealt in systematic and non-partisan judicious manner. The book will prove useful to students of advanced history, researchers and those appearing in IAS and allied examinations.


Short story is not editorial writing
Review by Jaswant Kaur

Shock Therapy by Subhodh Ghose.Orient Longman, New Delhi..Pages 220.Rs 200.

JOURNALISTS are not very successful as creative writers because they have neither the academic understanding of any social problem nor the senstivity of a story teller. They normally write editorials based on the day’s development and tend to repeat this method in short stories also.If one had been a journalist for a longer time, this malady grips one as it has the writer of this anthology, an assisstant editor of a leading Bengali daily Ananda Bazaar Patrika.

The book under review "Shock Therapy" contains18 short stories written originally in Bengali by Subhodh Ghose and translated into English by several persons. Being a journalist, he fails to fully fathom current social issues. He merely attempts to give the contours of these.His treatment of people’s hardships is somewhat superficial. Though he has an engaging style, the stories revolving around the common man lack liveliness.This is like mistaking a slice of bread for the whole loaf.

In "The darkness covered them" the author narrates the condition of hardworking peasants who are not able to earn enough to provide their wives and daughters sufficient clothing. They work in the fields during the night. The darkness of night helps them to hide their predicament.

"A change of caste" throws light on the problem of unemployment and its adverse effect on the life of a well qualified man Sanjoy. He gets a job only after pretending to change his caste.

"Fossil" is about those foreign visitors who exploit a prosperous kingdom and turn it into hell and is also a tale of fruitless efforts of a young educated man to save the kingdom from the clutches of the wicked.

"The nectar" brings about the selfish nature of human beings. It is about a girl who is ready to bring bad name to herself in her thoughtless chase of a dream for wealth and fame.The story can be extended to the fashion conscious girls who are prepared to take risks to become famous.

Similarly,"Cactus" is another story which presents the indifferent and inhuman nature of a welloff man towards a poor man who is desparately trying to help his mother out of her poverty and illness.

"The heart of a lovesick bird" covers the basic emotion of life - love. It reveals that love can neither be forced on someone nor it can be felt by following certain tips.

"The sweat cheat" is about a girl who marries boys only to rob their parents of their wealth. The story takes a serious turn when she traps an innocent and loving boy whom she marries and runs away with him.. The story reveals a dramatic change in the attitude of the girl.

Short stories play an important role in the development of language and literature.They usually reflect a slice of real life. They should have nothing to do with wild imagination. In other words, it is rooted in the present with a relevance for tommorow. Subhodh Ghose’s stories are deficient in this context. The theme of the stories like "The sweet cheat ", "The Impostor" are far too unreal .The incidents described in these stories normally do not take place in day-to-day life.


Punjabi literature
A volley of self-doubt
from Dun valley
Review by Jaspal Singh

PUNJABI literature has recently acquired a cosmopolitan character. There is a very strong contingent of writers settled in England, Canada and the USAwith a fair sprinkling of them in Europe as well. Of course, South-East Asia, Africa and Latin America do not boast of a significant Punjabi writer.

In India, Delhi is home to a large number of Punjabi writers, some of them with nationwide reputation. Surprisingly, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh even with a large Punjabi speaking population have not added to the galaxy of Punjabi writers.

When somebody living in a different lingual environment writes in Punjabi the result sometimes is pointedly sanguine and the writing tends to be reflective and introspective.

One such attempt has been made by Gurdeep, a resident of Resham Majri near Doiwala in Dehra Dun district of Uttaranchal. He has already published five collections of ghazals including "Rangeenian",: "Nakash Peerhan de", "Rangan di Mehfil", "Do Bol Tere Joge" and the latest, the subject matter of this piece "Dharhkanan nu khat" (Singh Brothers, Amritsar).

Gurdeep writes very sensitive ghazals in which he tries to capture certain universal facets of life. Under the thin veneer of ostentation the poet finds a tragic streak and he feels that there is something amiss somewhere that has created an imbalance in society.

The irritating imperfections and flaws in social propriety are the source of constant pique and peeve. The poet says: "Hunde hunde shor ne mehfil te kabza kar lia/Mai ikkalan vich beh ke, naghmian nu khat likhe." (By and by noise dominated the festivities so I withdrew into myself to write songs of solitude.)

Every celebration begins on a subdued note but as the night progresses, the din booms breaking all barriers of formal sobriety and self-restraint. At such times a sensitive man like Gurdeep has no choice but to withdraw into his cocoon.

Nevertheless, the urban crowd overwhelms the poet and he goes on a self-exploratory trip. He says, "Labhia jad mai gvachan baad apne aap nu/Shehr ton mai apne nikee gran nu khat likhe." (As I got lost in the crowd, I wrote letters to my tiny village to rediscover myself.)

The rediscovery of an individual usually takes him back to his roots. The city, however, bruises his being which can be partly cured by going back to the past.

The poet is unsure of himself when he faces the daunting crowd of the city. He avers, "Kise da jurm tere sir kite vi lag sakda e/shakki shehr hai tera, shanakhat naal lai ke tur." (Any time you can be falsely implicated in a crime. Your town is very suspecting, you must always carry your identity card.)

The apprehensions of the poet are not however allayed and he says, "Whether you bow to justice or to inequity, the nature of adjudication remains the same in the present."

Obviously the gulf between virtue and vice has lost its conspicuous dividing line. Many social, cultural and moral categories need a new definition. The modern way of life and social mores have shaken many a traditional soul. But the poet in his own innocent way tries to understand the subterfuges of the modern world.

He states, "Tusin apnat vich dhao, jan dhao ho ke begane/sitam da na sitam rahina hai, edan vi te udan vi." (Whether you torture me as a friend or as a foe oppression is oppression all the same.) The poet considers himself to be suffering from a little ill omen. He says, "The departing autumn stayed put for sometime more in the garden when it found me out of place there."

The desire to liberate himself from the pedantic formality overwhelms the poet. He craves for the company of bohemians to do away with filters of prudery. He declaims, "Rindan nu es shahr de kuche azeez ne/Saki nu sare shahr da hakam bana dio." (The boozers love all the lanes of the town; let the barman be the ruler here.)

Gurdeep is a poet who shuttles between absolute freedom and absolute socio-cultural bondage. Dream and reality keep on interacting in his poetic discourse. His metaphors are drawn from the social fabric and the world of objective nature. But he fuses them in such a manner that the metaphors do not easily break their figurative shell.

The reader has to meditate hard to reach the imminent semantic kernel. In one of the couplets he states, "Aarzu de panchhian de par barhe rangeen ne/eh khirhaunde jaange jis shakh ute behnge." (The birds of desire have colourful feathers, every bough blossoms as they perch on it.)

The poet being an agonistic, time and again challenges the sermonisers and other custodians of the spiritual order of society. He states, "zahd na hor gal kar dozakh bahisht di/Tere miaar hor ne mere miaar hor." (Don’t talk of hell and heaven any more O’preacher! Mind it, your and my parameters are different.)

Despite all this, the author does not blatantly combat the established social norms. His protest is subdued and it does not signal a social revolution. In fact Gurdeep stands more for social reforms than for a radical transformation of the social order. Many years ago he worked in the editorial staff of the leftist Punjabi paper Nawanzamana before he moved to the Dun valley as a farmer which is why he still holds on to."Ik zarabakhtar purana pehan ke/Suurma shuhrat lukai phir riha." (Clad in an old armour, the gallant is stashing away his past glory).

Now in the beautiful Dun valley, with all his successes and failures as a farmer Gurdeep, the carefree fakir, maintains, "Rang de rahan te sanu mehak wang/Zindgi da chaa udai phir riha."(The jubilation of life is carrying us over like fragrance on the flowery paths.)

Away from the sylvan glade there is the over-congested city with all the vices of urban life in India. The poet in his solitude cannot afford to be completely insulated from its vicious spill-over. He confesses, "Shehr vich beaahru mai hi nahin/dharam vi izzat lukai phir riha." (I am not alone to be degraded in the town, even religion is totally disgraced here.) The city is lost in the smut of public life, wallowing in its own garbage. The poet observes, "Rah jaande ne bohut bahar nu bhawen shahr ton/Apne aap ton bahar inn kadi auna nahi." (There are many outlets from the city but it will never come out of itself.)

Gurdeep’s poetry is self-exploratory and from the self he tries to reach out to the world where he finds enigmatic inconsistencies, contradictions and inexplicable paradoxes.Despite all this, life goes on, through the uneven terrain of existence, weathering all kinds of adversities. The poet concludes it thus, "Kadi jagdi rahi mehfil, kadi bujhdi rahi raunak/Kite jande rahe tare, kiton aunde rahe tare."(The celebration of life goes on and off and the stars keep on joining it from somewhere in order to leave for unknown destinations.) As a poet with deep commitment to life, Gurdeep through his poems tries to understand this paramount riddle of life.


Punjabi Literature
A poet writer with mystical leanings
Review by Satya Pal Sehgal

GAGAN Gill’s (born in 1959) memoirs "Delhi Mein Unidien"does not have much to do with Delhi. Except for the first memoir which has the same title as the anthology itself. Almost all other memoirs take up journeys, outside and within, Delhi. Oh yes, the last and lengthiest memoir (60 pages) "Pita samay, mritue samay", a sequence of dreams, a digging up of childhood, a history of the identification of history, the roots! Of course, Delhi is where the writer’s family is presently settled in! For Gagan, it is obvious that Delhi is just the name of a city. The symbolism of Delhi, if any, is not ostensibly marked in the prose. But there can be and would be readings of the book which would define Delhi as the central metaphor of this work and explain away everything abstract, abstruse, mystical or pathetic in these unique memoirs from that angle.

Otherwise, the title of the book does not justify the most remarkable memoir — namely, "Pita samay, mritue samay". Is it an elegy? A requiem? Hindi literary scholars would have to find another example in prose, for this sacred, moving text written by a daughter for a father, gone forever ! Suryakant Tripathi Nirala’s "Saroj Smriti" (1934), a poem though, haunts readers still, but that was a sigh of a emotionally drenched father who saw the passing away of his young daughter at the age of 17.

This tribute of Gagan strives to be in that class. For its raw intensity. And for this that a daughter has written it.

A desire to belong to one’s parents has been the hallmark of Hindi poetry in last 15 years or so. Hindi poetry had a shift in sensibility and this longing for basic relationship surfaced strongly. Gagan Gill’s prose "Pita Samay, Mritue Samay" may be studied in this juxtaposition. But why study it? It’s so personal! Why did Gagan publish it? A complex aesthetic question! How does it help the person and the writer Gagan Gill? How does the reader relate to it? Isn’t this the paramount meaningfulness of "Pita Samay, Mritue Samay" that it raises naive but fundamental questions? That it touches naivity itself, inside us!

And the real characters in the story of the father look fictional! The father acquires somewhat mythical proportions! The prose questions its own limitations and turns lyrical and poetical. No, poetry itself. Did the writer experience the father and the family as fiction, a myth, poetry, or, the space within her itself has a grandeur of fiction and myth!

The narrative of childhood memories has psychoanalytical undertones as well. It may have a practical task on hand – healing the "adult". Remembering the dead father may be a struggle. In fact, it is. The non–linear structuring of this particular memoir reflects this.

Yes, there are failings too. Subtle ideological failings. There are bits of appreciation for the spruced up feudal past. The overlooking of caste, class undertones! A non-critical indulgence in faith and its practice. It is the naivety and innocence therein which saves the memoir from this. And because a daughter has written it. It still haunts. It will go into the annals of Hindi memoir writing, still.

* * *

"Ek Kankar Sanshay" is a memoir of sorts of a pilgrimage from Delhi to Leh in Ladakh (Jammu & Kashmir) via Keylong in Himachal Pradesh. Another accomplished piece of prose-writing with remarkable qualities of story telling and details. Gagan’s fascination for the Buddhist faith, also quite obvious elsewhere in the book , takes her to centuries-old Gompas (Buddhist temples) of Himachal and Ladakh. And a road journey to the ancient land of Ladakh in state roadways buses, trucks and on foot is much more, apart from the adventure involved. Oh yes, this may well be the very first travelogue of a woman writer in Hindi who went to explore the mysteries of inner Himalayas almost all alone but for the company of a foreign friend Lara. And Gagan Gill may well be the first poet of her generation who openly desires to "bow before something like God , something devine". That apart, Gill’s "Ek Kankar Sanshay" shows how far she has arrived in prose-writing and what possibilities she has in store. And with Teji, Manglesh Dabral ("Ek Bar Ayova") she underlines what is in store for prose writing in Hindi in general.

From Laddakh to Bangkok and Paris. She calls these other memoirs "Diary and Notes". In between she is at Krishnamurti’s place at Madras, at Jagannath Puri, at Cochin, Kanyakumari and Trivandrum. Well, in one way or the other, these writings predominantly show Gagan’s growing interest in the mystical and the mystic. Like Nirmal Verma, the celebrated Hindi fiction writer, she provides the reader with information on sects of Christianity, Buddhism and western music, art and architecture. Her effort is more at the level of curiosity, questioning, and a wide-eyed innocence of a young woman (or poet?). This "humane" attitude is what provides her language with melody, a character, a semblance of authenticity. It makes this particular work of literature special. Gagan believes that she owes this to her father who was also a wanderer and aptly names this section of the book "Tumahre Paon Mein Mera Paon".

A comment on this Gagan’s book of prose writing would be incomplete without a mention of the memoir "Ek Bhikshu Ki Anupasthti Mein". Gagan’s mystical inclinations are in full display here. The readers who have followed Gagan Gill’s poetry in her three collections know that her obsession with virag has only strengthened with time. That it still retains a sense of curiosity, an awe, adds charm and poetry to her otherwise debatable position. This abstract monologue, an effort to understand the existential predicament of someone who has chosen to be a bhikshu, and his glorification as well, underscores the nature of "the spiritual" trying to surface again in modern Hindi literary consciousness. Her deep interest in Buddhism is quite evident and she acknowledges it too.

* * *

Gagan hints at some unpleasent sociological facts about Budhism i.e. how poverty and parent’s choice forces very young children become lamas. Gagan could have digged into that further. Finally, an overpowering romance with being a bhikshu takes over as evidenced by memoirs on J.Krishnamurthy’s place, and journeys to Bangkok and Paris .

Uninde" is about an auto-rickshaw driver, a poor displaced man from Uttar Pradesh, who attracts the writer’s compassion and whom she interviews for a radio programme. His is a touching story – how poverty destroyed every thing including his parents and he had to leave his ancestral village for Delhi, to make his both ends meet. And he is lonely and totally alone in his middle age. He comes like a central character of a play being staged and vanishes back into wings as it gets closer to the end. A sense of guilt grips up the writer but then every question which follows is left at the alter of the God ! The writer imagines auto-rikshaw driver to be a God himself ! A God in disguise ! The very next memoir ‘Ek Kankar Sanshay" is about a kind of pilgrimage to the Gompas of Himachal and Laddakh . What should one read in this arrangement ? How does it help Raja Ram, the auto-rickshaw driver? Further, all ‘choices’ of the writer observed in these memoirs are rooted in ‘personal’. Though crude conclusions should be avoided, but, there is valid ground to pose quarries to Gagan’s philosophical beliefs ! And the way Gagan gets comfortable with what is common parlance are called superstitions make a reader like me slightly apprehensive! How far is obstrunism? And how far are its socio –political fall-outs ?

It is an ‘Ek Kankar Sanshay’ of a reader. And I would not be the only one.


Inward look at Indo-Anglian works
Review by Akshaya Kumar

Towards A Poetics of Indian English Novel by Makarand Paranjape. IIAS, Shimla. Pages 143. Rs 200.

INDIAN critical climate is brimming with immense possibilities — possibilities which are yet to be fully explored and theorised in a sustained manner. Broadly Indian criticism is divided into three streams of desi, videshi and margi. Desi critics are nativists who insist on rediscovering native parameters to evaluate the merits of a text; margis invoke classical Sanskrit approaches, and videshis are the fashionable full-throated postmodernists/post-colonialists who are out to deconstruct everything they get hold of India as a nation or civilisation is so checkered and plural in both time and space that no one stream can totalise the critical space.

What we need is a composite frame which does not compromise or reduce the complexity of "Indian experience", and at the same time does not border on gross post-modern playfulness. Indian experience needs to be contextualised in the everevolving collective experience of its people. Makarand Paranjape, in his book under review, uses phrases like "broader issues of cultural inter-action", "broader cultural formations of our country", "broader civilisational perspective" etc to underline the continuity and consolidation of this collective experience. This experience, though hard to define in clean empirical terms, forms the vey stuff of Indian consciousness both at macro and micro levels of existence.

Paranjape invokes this indefinable, yet real Indianness to study the cultural dynamics of contemporary Indian English novel. His basic argument is that Indian English novel cannot be studied in a descriptive, value-free and pure aesthetic context. The cultural or civilisational specifics of Indian novel demand indigenous frames of inquiry and analysis.

While not discounting the western foregrounding of Indian English novel altogether, he underlines the necessity of locating Indian novel in the rich narrative traditions of the nation. "Locating the modern Indian in such an older civilisational master narrative will give us the framework to understand and evaluate it the better".

He holds dharma as the keynote of our civilisation. And that "all narratives must directly or indirectly explore and expound dharma, and help to uphold it". Dharma is not sectarian, but for want of better word, the author identifies dharma in the Indian context with Hinduism. This is a highly contentious position that point towards an unmistakable rightist orientation of the writer.

With dharma as the driving force of Indian civilisation, Paranjape goes on to explain its inner dialetics in terms of tension among marga, desi and videshi. He does not see any exclusive clash among these three cultural categories, rather he insists on their interdependence and interpenetration. Dharma in this sense becomes an assimilative construct which has the capacity to subsume or resolve divergences of experience. Also it becomes a critical paradigm to differentiate different writings in terms of their distinct styles and attitudes to life. Dharma emerges both as a boundary and a perspective simultaneously.

There are many problems in this very thesis of dharma. Dharma, the way he defines it, becomes essentialy a principle of universal values — values which every religion, every civilisation aspires for. Dharma, he says, "is common to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, the indigenous religions, and to Zoroastrianism, Islam and Christianity..." He adds that "even modern secular religions like humanism and Marxism have a dharmic element in them."

If dharma is so ubiqitous or what he terms as so eternal or sanatana, one wonders what kind of cultural-specific Indo-centric poetics (as against the Euro-centric poetics) does he aim at. His seemingly nationalistic project lapses into a universal one.

Caste has always posed a problem to the monolithic vision of a dharma-based undivided social fabric. On the basis of some of the representative anthologies of Indian English writings, Paranjape finds that in terms of numbers the domain of Indian English writings too is heavily monopolised by Brahmins. But instead of underlining the overtly marga orientations of these writings, he chooses to underplay them by way of attributing elitism in these writers to factors such as their urban upper middle-class background, their foreign stay, and their preference for English as their medium of expression, etc.

In fact he believes that such factors de-brahmanise these writers sufficiently and therefore in terms of their attitude they are hardly casteist or conservative. One wonders as to how can one dismiss the reality of caste as a living institution in Indian society so easily. Paranjape who espouses the cause of civilisational distinctness, should also have upheld the functional value of caste at sub-civilisational or what new historicists say, at subaltern level at least.

Post-independence Indian English writers are no different from pre-independence Anglo-Indian novelists in terms of their rather "orientalist" attitude towards India as a nation. If Anglo-Indian writers like Forster, Kipling, Orwell, etc. represented India as exotica of the Orient, Indian English writers subscribe to the same methodology to sell in the West. They scramble to repossess the fictional territory of India that was once the sole preserve of the erstwhile Anglo-Indian writer without really challenging the colonialist agenda of their English predecessors.

Paranjape divides Indian English writers in three categories in terms of their different location in and out of India. Non-resident Indians lose touch with the objective reality of India and tend to portray India either as purely metaphysical entity (like Raja Rao) or as a fantastic Third World place (Rushdie). Using Dhirubhai Seth’s phrase resident-non-Indians, Paranjape puts writers like Firdaus Kanga, Upamanyu Chatterjee and Pratap Sharma under this category of RNIs. These writers "are Indians merely in nationality and race, but western in habits, modes of thought, cultural mores and moral conduct." Then there are border-line writers like Hanif Kureishi, Farrukh Dhondy, Michael Ondaatje and Dabydeen who having undergone several mutations return to India in their writing.

Irrespective of the categories to which these writers belong, India is more often than not represented as "an unhappy, gloomy, even doomed place where there is little laughter and joy, but much sorrow, violence, and cruelty". The function of India critic at present is "to uncover distortions, to expose falsehoods, to attack various kinds of untruth" perpetuated by Indian English writings.

Paranjape invariably holds that there is a civilisational boundary between India and the West, and no amount of mimicry and ventriloquism can undo this gap. He does acknowledge that there is not pure Indian past which can possibly invoke to counter the falsehood of Indian English writings, but this does not mean that we continue to evaluate these writings as merely culturally neutral, apolitical artifacts.

A subversive or an oppositional reading based on the civilisation paradigms of Gandhi and Aurobindo, as the author espouses, could provide us critical frame to decipher these writings in our attempt to understand the cultural distinctness of India as a nation. However, he does not elaborate on the possible contours of Gandhian or Aurobindonian frame of critical estimate.

There are problems with regard to the application of dharma as a critical tool. Unless he provides us categories or definite schemata, the usability of dharma for critical evaluation remains half-realised. Though he aims at a "broader" structuralist analysis of Indian English novel, his project tends to become quasi-philosophical. In fact in each chapter he begins with some well-known critical topologies only to underline the limitations of each one. The civilisational paradigm as broad perspective is not adequate enough to equip the reader-as-evaluator with a well-worked out detailed taxonomic model.

Makarand Paranjape’s critical enterprise sends strong signals to Indian academics the cultural necessity of re-inventing our own critical frames and civilisational paradigms in our effort to understand ourselves and the rest. Such an exercise entails enormous challenge and may not yield satisfying results immediately, but one cannot dismiss the cultural logic of undertaking it at all. If Indian critic has to redeem himself from the image of "an eternal rag-picker of the West", it is time he looks inward and re-discovers the distinct ontology of his self. In this sense, criticism is nothing short of a spiritual process. It is doubtful whether Paranjape’s effort which lapses into rhetoric at times, does really rise to this level of spiritual re-discovery.

Overall, the book does throw up many intelligent, if not very profound, questions about the very cultural authenticity of Indian English writings. The perspective of Anglo-Indian as Indo-Anglian, the debate of inside and outside the whale, the use of Namade’s tripartite model of kriti, prakriti and riti to describe different styles of Indian English novelists are some of the significant features of the book. Paranjape’s effort to divide the history of Indian English fiction in four historical phases — colonial, 1835-1900; nationalist, 1900-1950; modern, 1950-80; post-modern, 1980 onwards — might appear too reductive, yet it does provide the basic drift of Indian English fiction in terms of its thematic and structural shifts. After Kapil Kapoor’s "Literary Theory: Indian Conceptual Framework" (Affiliated East-West, 1998) and T.R.S. Sharma’s "Towards an Alternative Critical Paradigm," (IIAS, Shimla) Makarand Paranjape’s book is a welcome addition to the ongoing search for alternative indigenous paradigms of critical evaluation.


The rise and rise of the PIL

The is an extract from the book "The Blue Club" by Chandra Mohan.

LIGHT at the end of the long tunnel had started becoming visible by 1988. Customer confidence in Swaraj 735 had been regained. Market share was on the recovery trail. Overall market had also resumed growth and sales were at the 90,000 level. Re-launch of age-old Swaraj 724, a model preferred in some regions, had been well received. Swaraj was moving towards customer preference.The renewed national focus on agriculture promised accelerated growth. Exponential increase in profits, as predicted, was strengthening the financial muscle. An era of sustained growth could be foreseen.

The time to expand was ripe. Expansion at the Mohali plant in graduated steps began in 1991 and increasing confidence led to acceleration of the pace. This was supplemented in 1993 by the decision to set up a greenfield second plant to raise the combined capacity to 60,000. The combine division was selected to bring it to permanent viability as an independent business unit. R & D capability was strengthened on parallel lines.

Another important step in 1988 was the setting up of Swaraj Engines in Mohali as a joint venture with Kirloskars of Pune. It was far too distant to meet the growing engine needs: logistics costs, inventories. From its beginning in 1989 and dividend in the very first year, Swaraj Engines has grown to become the second bluechip in the PTL Group. Through a major expansion its capacity has been raised to 40,000 in three years.

Learning from the past, customer response, productivity and quality have remained paramount in every action. The greenfield tractor plant in the Combine Division and postexpansion Swaraj Engines reflect this overriding priority. Expansion outlays of over Rs 200 crore, all coming from internal generation, reflect its growing financial strength. It has been debt-free for the past few years. All along it has been the endeavour of PTL to share prosperity.

With the quality focus priority being on Swaraj 735, our principal model, signs of market recovery had started becoming evident by 1988. It became the largest selling model of the country in 1998 and the top preference of the country.

The relaunch of Swaraj 724, discontinued a decade earlier because of low contribution, added to the product line against competition.

Competitive armour was further strengthened in 1999 with major upgrade of all models, which included styling and aesthetics. It was drawn sheet-metal this time; volumes and financial resources could sustain the switch.

Swaraj 855 also started regaining dealer and farmer confidence through step-by-step improvement in performance and reliability. By 1995 its market share had started picking up once again. A totally revamped Swaraj 855 with radical interior and styling changes launched in 1999 should provide an added edge.

Alongside were introduced two other models in the lower segment to reach mechanisation to a wider spectrum of farmers. There were no short-cuts this time: products were only launched after extensive testing which included protracted tests by customers in their field. As a consequence PTL’s market standing rose steadily and climbed to number two in 1999.

The battle for customers is however endless. Continuing success lies in vigilance and being one step ahead of competition and competitors do not sit idle.

The phased introduction of three incentives — individual productivity, self-responsibility for quality and group productivity — has already been mentioned. Exponential increase in profits via focus on productivity through elimination of waste and manufacturing technology was shared with employees through a generous wage increase. PTL has become the highest wage payer in the region. The original goal of 4 or 5 per cent increase in real wage has been met.

Signs of increasing prosperity are evident in the ownership of a house, 2-wheeler, TV and refrigerator by every employee of the mother plant. Employees of other divisions who joined later are on a similar track.

With more than 300 ancillaries already set up, a decision was taken as early as 1983 not to add any more. The bitter phase of 1982 had made us conscious of the responsibility that we carried. Subsequent growth has provided the opportunity for growth. Entrepreneurs with ambition and initiative have taken full advantage and expanded into turnover bands of Rs 15 or 20 crores. Support has been provided for modernisation and TQM.

Till today, PTL remains the most outstanding success of Indian technology, and that too with the origin in a national laboratory. Success has also been achieved against intense competition of the best of global brands names and foreign knowhow. Original knowledge has been upgraded, enlarged and extended into other domains year after year.

The returns, even in financial terms, have been rewarding. Royalty payment to NRDC under the licensing agreement which ended in 1984, exceeded Rs 2.4 crore, a phenomenal figure in money-values of those days. It remains its largest royalty-earning till date.

PTL has been acutely conscious of the faith reposed in it by the promoters, PFI’s, central government and the share holders. Maiden dividend was declared as early as 1978, a bare four years after commencement of production. Increasing dividends were followed by a 2:5 bonus Issue in 1981. Stock price of around Rs 50 (face value Rs 10) reflected fair appreciation in a regime when equity pricing was dictated by the government.

The unbroken dividend track was sustained, though in a subdued fashion, even in the post-1983 years of distress. This lag was covered by rapid escalation after the four-wheeler sector by the Financial Express, the national financial paper, in successive years lifted shareprices upwards of Rs 100 by 1989, even though equity had been tripled through two rights issues in the mid-eighties.

Exponential growth of profits after 1991 gave confidence for a 1:1 bonus in 1992, followed by another 1:1 bonus in 1997. Sharply rising dividend took it into the league of top dividend payers. The 1991 economic reforms, where freedom to foreign investment and free equity pricing were key planks, raised PTL stock prices to the sky.

Having completed a quarter century of operation in 1999, PTL ranks among the blue-chip favourites of the stock market: sustained growth through 25 years, compound stock-appreciation of 26 per cent through 25 years and the highest dividend payer. It is on the ticker tape of Bombay Stock Exchange and the CNBC channel from Singapore.

Stock appreciation of Swaraj Engines has crossed 140 times in a bare decade of operation.