The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, May 13, 2001

The emerging regional federalism
Review by Pradeep Kumar

24-carat "Sholay" rediscovered
Review by Vikramdeep Johal

The historic schism in India
Review by Ivninderpal Singh

Gurus as they really taught
Review by M. L. Sharma

Tension of transition in Asian economies
Review by Jawahar Lal Dwivedi




The emerging regional federalism
Review by Pradeep Kumar

Coalition Politics and Power Sharing edited by Akhtar Majeed. Manak Publications in association with the Centre for Federal Studies, New Delhi. Pages 198. Rs 400.

AKHTAR Majeed’s edited volume under review is a serious attempt to analyse the various factors resulting in the aggregation and desegregation of interests. The book is a collection of articles of his colleagues at the Centre for Federal Studies at Jamia Hamdard, a centre established by that reknowned scholar of Indian federalism, the late Prof Rasheeduddin Khan.

The articles analyse at length the power sharing arrangements that coalitions are; identity formations as a result of articulation of political interests; emerging party system(s) as a consequence of electoral configurations; and the working of coalition politics in India since the holding of the fourth general election in 1967.

The central thrust of the editor’s argument is that "as long as democracy is treated as an elitist gift to the masses, only the political freedom aspect would continue to be highlighted at the cost of economic equality aspect... rival elite... would have to bring along the masses as well to broaden their support base... (the) at least they have started sharing ideals and values."

Coalition in fact reflects a growing resentment of the politicians with the rural base representing the middle peasantry and the backward castes, against the elite domination that characterised democracy till some time back. The leaders who were then prepared to play second fiddle to the upper caste urban leaders have come of age and are increasingly responsible for the denominational formations called "regional" parties.

The latter have become crucial as dominant partners in most alliances, influencing and even deciding their functioning. In short it is this regionalisation of politics that has also compelled the national governments to go in for broad coalitions comprising socially extremely heterogeneous and politically incompatible partners.

Akhtar Majeed has very carefully compared the Indian experience of the past one decade with those of the European countries which have had longer familiarity with coalition experiments.

Kumar Suresh has discussed three types of broad political formations that are competing for centre stage in Indian politics. These are largely woven around support from among (i) newly empowered intermediate castes, dalits, minorities, etc. mobilised on the ideological plank of secularism, pluralism and multiculturalism; (ii) the upper caste Hindus and the upwardly mobile middle castes, the most backward castes and a section of dalits under the dispensation of Hindutva identity; and, (iii) the one mobilising the voters around its somewhat "out dated" political ideology of nation-building.

It is the horizontal mobilisation and "fusion" of smaller caste groups that has made it possible for some of these "bigger" castes to become numerically significant, not only to be taken note of, but even to become dominant partners to decide the nature of the coalition itself.

Thus in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Gwalas, Gopals, Ghosis, Mandals, Dharonds, Dhurias, Gaolis, Kamarias, Ahirs, Abhirs and Dudhias, etc. have all been "Yadavised" over the years, and the Awadhias, Mahtos and Dhanuks have become "Kurmis". This "fusion" of smaller jatis and further their social coalition with similar other bigger jati groups have made these social formations increasingly relevant for capturing political power.

Since the composition of these social formations varies from region to region, it is a very large conglomeration of apparently diverse regional political formations that bargains and stakes its claim for political power at the national level, often looking like a great confederal arrangement of local or regional formations.

The Hindutva plank often picks up such "leftovers" from among some of these backward and dalit castes for mobilisation, as are alienated from the backward castes mobilised on social justice plank. The "nation-building" formation (obviously referring to the Congress politics) has gradually but steadily been appropriated by the other two formations. Thus secularisation, politicisation and deritualisation have made caste an instrumental category which today is ironically being invoked by those who earlier suffered discrimination at the hands of the upper castes who are now, in turn, arguing against continuation of caste identity markers.

Kumar Suresh’s analysis is comprehensive but quite obviously does not successfully explain the independent assertion of dalit power in states like Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu where the backward formations have not been able to take these along, resulting in a four-cornered contest in some places.

Ajay Kumar Singh characterises the politics of elections held since 1989 as regionalisation of the electoral process and the party system. This in turn has been a result of the "participatory upsurge" among the marginalised sections of society, leading to the decline of the dominant party system of the Congress and the consequent rise of the BSP. This regionalisation was further helped by the total fragmentation of the Janata Dal into several local and regional outfits, and the splits in the already marginalised Congress party on regional lines in West Bengal (Trinamool), Tamil Nadu (TMC) and Maharashtra (NCP).

Singh has also divided the catchment area of the major political parties into four zones — namely, minimised performance zone (5-10 per cent votes), intervening zone (10-20 per cent), consistency zone (20-40 per cent), and the high performance zone (40 per cent and above). This exercise has been done for all the 15 major states (with 10 or more Lok Sabha seats) with regard to major national and regional parties.

Arshi Khan has done good work in making a survey of the coalition experiments in several states ever since the "turning point" in this regard came in 1967. Khan, like Singh, also talks about four models, but on somewhat different bases. For him, more than the number, the motive of parties leading to coalition is equally, if not more, important. Thus his fourfold classification replaces the third and fourth categories of Singh by those where likeminded parties come together to keep at bay their common rival, and those where the parties come together to form a national government to face an overriding national crisis.

Khan has taken the clue from the European experience in this regard but has largely, even if not entirely, ignored the social bases of coalition to give primacy to ideological, personality and political factors. This is understandable as other contributors emphasis, almost exclusively on social factors.

The volume on coalition politics is a good supplement to the earlier volumes brought out by the Centre for Federal Studies on social and cultural federalism which essentially characterises the Indian polity. Coalition-making should be seen as the logical culmination of the democratic process resulting in the unfoldment and assertion of the federal nature of the Indian polity.


24-carat "Sholay" rediscovered
Review by Vikramdeep Johal

Sholay : The Making of a Classic by Anupama Chopra. Penguin Books, New Delhi. Pages 194. Rs 295.

THERE is this photograph in the book, both eye-catching and mind-boggling. It shows Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar and Amjad Khan, standing together like good friends, smiling at the camera. Amjad looks as harmless as a lamb; his right hand rests unthreateningly on the left shoulder of Sanjeev, who stands relaxed with his arms crossed. For a real "Sholay" buff, this photo is most unreal. A sadistic Gabbar demanding "Yeh haath mujhe de de Thakur," a vengeful Veeru pouncing on Gabbar — now that is reality. Well, precisely in this wonderful illusion lies the magic, the aura of "Sholay".

The book under review aims at telling the story of "The greatest story ever told". By no means an easy task, since many tales about "Sholay" are quite famous and have become part of filmlore. Most film aficianados know, for instance, that Gabbar Singh’s role was initially offered to Danny Dengzongpa, that foreign stuntmen were called in to choreograph the action sequences, that the villain-is-killed ending was changed because the censor board wanted Gabbar zinda. However, Anupama Chopra, special correspondent with India Today, not only pulls it off but also makes you realise that what you knew about the making of "Sholay" was just the tip of an iceberg.

The author brilliantly narrates one interesting anecdote after another related to the genesis of the storyline, the casting, the two-year-long filming, the pre-release and post-release hiccups, and, finally, the resounding, unprecedented success.

Who hasn’t had a hearty laugh watching Dharmendra’s performance in the film? His offscreen antics, according to the book, were no less amusing. Here is the ploy Dharam bhaaji devised to get intimate with his sweetheart : "When he and Hema shot romantic scenes, he paid the light boys to make mistakes so he could embrace her again and again. They had a perfectly worked-out code language : when he pulled his ear, the light boys would mess up the trolley movement or make a reflector fall. . . The fee was Rs 100 per retake. On a good day, the light boys returned from the day’s shooting richer by Rs 2,000." The plan worked — "Lag gaya nishana", as Jai (Amitabh) put it!

The scene in which Jai brings Veeru’s marriage proposal to Basanti’s mausi was inspired by a real-life incident. Scriptwriter Javed Akhtar, who was in love with actress Honey Irani, requested his partner Salim Khan to meet her mother Perin Irani on his behalf. The conversation that took place between Salim and Perin was incorporated, almost verbatim, into the film’s script. (Javed, however, didn’t resort to climbing a tanki to clinch the issue!).

A stroke of luck — Danny’s refusal — got Amjad Khan Gabbar’s part. Realising the importance of this big break, he prepared for the role thus: "Amjad devoured ‘Abhishapth Chambal’, a book on Chambal dacoits. . . He marked out the pages on the real-life Gabbar. . . He remembered a dhobi from his childhood days who used to call out to his wife : ‘Arre O Shanti.’ The lilt in Gabbar’s ‘Arre O Sambha’ came from this dhobi."

While on-camera it was Gabbar who spread terror among the people of Ramgarh, off-camera it was Nefertiti, an Egyptian mare, who proved a nightmare for crew members. Renamed Nafrati for her ferocity, she threw almost everyone who tried to mount her, including Amjad Khan and Dharmendra. (The poor fellow who bore the brunt of her tantrums was Viju "Kaalia" Khote.)

"Sholay" was Sippys’ greatest gamble, which, against heavy odds, paid off handsomely. Made at a staggering budget of around Rs 3 crore, the film grossed approximately Rs 35 crore during its first run. It ran for about five years at Mumbai’s Minerva theatre (a record only recently broken by "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge" at Maratha Mandir in the city). Among the actors, the biggest beneficiary was Amjad Khan. By playing, rather living, the role of Gabbar, he rocketed to stardom overnight. Even actors who had minuscule roles became quite popular. Macmohan (Sambha) uttered just three words in the film, "Poore pachaas hajaar" — but they were enough to bring him instant fame.

Significantly, Anupama Chopra lauds the contribution of the unsung heroes, the faceless behind-the-scene people without whose efforts the film might not have become such a spectacular success. These include cinematographer Dwarka Divecha, art director Ram Yedekar, action directors Azeembhai and Mohammad Hussain and construction manager Aziz Hanif Sheikh. Not to forget Jim Allen, Gerry Crampton and Romo Commorro, the stunt directors from London, and Suresh Malhotra, the Bangalore distributor, who played host to the crew during its stay in the city.

True, the tone of the book is hagiographic, as the author keeps singing the praise of those involved in the making of the film, particularly director Ramesh Sippy and producer G.P. Sippy. However, it doesn’t seem out of place when one considers that Indian cinema has never seen anything like "Sholay". It is a masterpiece which has been repeatedly copied, more often than not badly, but never equalled, not even by the man who made it.

A remarkable thing about the book is that it enhances the magical appeal of the movie. After reading it, one feels an irresistible urge to watch and appreciate the film yet again. Go ahead then, rediscover the 24-carat classic called "Sholay".


The historic schism in India
Review by Ivninderpal Singh

A Narrative of Communal Politics: Uttar Pradesh, 1937-39, by Salil Misra. Sage Publications, New Delhi. Pages 362. Rs 295.

COMMUNALISM is a modern phenomenon, rooted in the modern social, economic, political and colonial structure. It emerged out of politics based on mass mobilisation and popular participation.

In modern India, communalism evolved through three broad stages. The first stage was "communal nationalism" in which people belonging to different religious communities had similar secular interests — that is, all matters which had nothing to do with religion affected all of them equally. The next stage was "liberal communalism", in which communities had different interests in secular spheres (economic and political).

And the final stage was "extreme communalism" in which religious communities not only had different secular interests but these were also incompatible and antagonistic to each other. Thus, the communal problem had been motivated more by politics than religion.

In pre-partition India, the two major religious communities were Hindus and Muslims and their interests were advocated by the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League. Being a party of a minority community in India, the Muslim League (formed in 1906 at Dhaka) tried to get concessions for the Muslims.

There was communal response by the majority community which set up militant organisations like the Hindu Mahasabha (established in 1915) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS established in 1925).

As Bipan Chandra says, "The modern political consciousness was late in developing among the Muslims. The Hindus and Muslims fought shoulder to shoulder during the revolt of 1857, but the latter asked for a separate homeland in 1940." This explanation of a time "lag" between the socio-economic development between the Hindus and the Muslims became a widely accepted theory among historians.

The book opens with a brief description of early 20th century events related to the growth of communal politics. The author discusses instances when the Congress and the Muslim League interacted, sometimes amicably (as at the signing of the Lucknow Pact in 1916) and sometimes with hostility, for instance, at the all-party conference in 1928.

The stage for developments during the period 1937-39 was set with the promulgation of the Government of India Act, 1935, which was formulated after the series of round table conferences (RTCs). Federation at the Centre and autonomy in the provinces were the main feature of the Act. But this Act gave extraordinary powers to the Governor. Paragraph VIII of the Instrument of Instructions of the Government of India Act, 1935, provided the Governor with the power to "act otherwise than in accordance with the advice of his Ministers". And the removal of this feature later became the major demand of the Congress for joining the ministries.

In Uttar Pradesh, there was a triangular contest for power between the Congress, the Muslim League and landlords. The Act also increased the franchise manifold, thus many tenants also got the franchise which was opposed by the landlords. Nominated representation was also completely withdrawn from the provincial Assembles and was replaced by representation through elections. Thus a landlord-tenant conflict was bound to develop. Moreover, the Congress also launched a no-rent campaign against the landlords. All these factors led to the growth of class consciousness among the landlords regardless of the religion they professed.

After the victory, a debate started within the Congress on whether to accept the proposal to form a government or not. As the Act was to come into operation from April 1, 1937, the Nawab of Chhatari, the leader of NAPs (National Agriculturist Parties), was invited to form his Cabinet. He accepted the offer. But finally by May-June, the Congress accepted to form a Ministry. The formation of the government by the Congress thus set the ball rolling for the events with long-term consequences for both the Congress and the Muslim League.

Jinnah wanted to create a separate identity for the League, different from the Congress and the British, as he was not ready to accept a satellite status on Indian political scene. And this confusion was finally laid to rest at the annual session of the League in Lucknow in October, 1937, where the League leadership asserted its identity as distinct from that of both the British government and the Congress. At Lucknow, Jinnah demonstrated what was meant by the third force and declared that full independence was the political objective of the League. And the author opines that from here the League started chartering a "politically independent communal course for itself". So now the League was not fighting for concessions as in the 1920s but wanted an independent recognition and it formally demanded a separate homeland in 1940.

Though the author has claimed that his work is not intended to be an explanation for the partition of India, still many times indirect references have been made. Moreover, it is very difficult to describe the struggle for power between Hindus and Muslims and partition in two water-tight compartments.

The author admits that a lot of research work has been done on the political history of Uttar Pradesh and it is very difficult to be new and original. Still he has attempted to give the topic a different angle. However, the book will be beneficial more to a researcher than to a common reader.


Gurus as they really taught
Review by M. L. Sharma

Educational Philosophy of Guru Nanak Dev Ji by Amrit Kaur Raina. Lok Geet Prakashan, Chandigarh. Pages 136. Rs 125.

THE educational philosophy of Guru Nanak Dev occupies the foremost position. He is the beacon light. Although the mind of a pupil has great powers, it blossoms with the help of a real teacher. "The gems, the jewels, the rubies are in the mind. If one were to find them should hearken to the Guru’s call, ‘tis who giveth to each and all (on Him, on Him, O let me call)/Yea in the guru’s words are the jewel’s (of wisdom)/And whosoever seeketh findeth these’."

In no educational system, even the latest one, there is stress on the predominant role of a teacher. He is seleced if he fulfils the requisite conditions set by universities or academic bodies but according to the first Sikh Guru, a teacher has a challenging task as "only the guidance of the guru imparts light and restores confidence. It offers direction and purpose to one’s life". The role of a teacher is not only to impart education but also to inculcate social and civic virtues so that the pupil with a fully developed personality is able to lead a disciplined life and is ready to do selfless service to mankind.

In brief, physical development, moral uplift and spiritual regeneration are possible through the institution of a worthy teacher or guru. About the challenging role of a teacher or guru the first Guru says,"When the true guru is merciful/ faith is perfected/ When the true guru is merciful/ There is no grief/ When the true guru is merciful/ Nine treasures of nam are obtained. The true guru helps the disciple to overcome his weakness. The guru is an ocean, a mine of jewels," from whom are abtained the five blessings of truth, contentment, compassion, dharma and patience. He calls the teacher "Guru Gopal".

The book under review is by Amrit Kaur Raina, who holds a doctorate degree in education. She has done extensive studies in the field and her first book "Educational Philosophy of the Sikh Gurus" was well received by educationists. The book offers a kaleidoscopic view of the Sikh philosophy and only four chapters out of 11 deal with the actual subject. In the fifth chapter she focuses on the concept and aims of education, in the sixth on curriculum, in the seventh on methods of education, and in the eighth on the role of a teacher.

According to the author, Guru Nanak’s conception of education is not one-sided as it encompasses the entire vista of man’s life on the earth. The Guru has said, "That teacher alone is educated/who enlightens his mind with divine knowledge/Through right reflection in a spontaneous way."

Without the attainment of self-realisation and enlightenment, education is incomplete. An educated person, according to the Guru, is one who wears the garland of Ram nam. Ram stands for all-pervading universal spirit and nam for truth, life, joy, beauty, purity, righteousness and heroism. It is, therefore, as the writer would like to impress upon the reader, (Ram nam is a special word with an implication of right education leading to self-realisation which is the ultimate goal of life:The aim of education is thus to liberate. This view has been upheld by Gandhi, Vivekananda and Tagore.

Book learning is ridiculed by the first Sikh guru in the words he spoke to Dharam Das, a Kashmiri Sanskrit scholar: "We may read and read books/ And fill carts with their loads./....Yet, says Nanak./That all our education will be a mere prattle of ego/unless we realise the philosopy of unity of God through it." It is a paradox that the Guru with no formal education has played a vital role in spreading education, just like Prophet Muhammad, Akbar the Great and Kabir.

The 12 fundamental principles of the Guru’s educational system are (i) knowledge is strength; (ii) knowledge leads to wisom and insight; (iii) knowledge elevates mind, body and soul; (iv) knowledge of virtue; (v) wisom leads to spiritual consciousness; (vi) education as unfolding of potentialities; (vii) formation of character and influsion of piety; (viii) cultural, emotional and aesthetic development; (ix) physical development; and, (x) education for harmonious development.

In the chapter, "The curriculum" the writer deals with the contents of education, which embody the following: (1) religious and moral education; (2) teaching of mother tongue; (3) study of arithmetic and book-keeping; (4) music and poetry; (5) physical education; (6) manual labour, art and crafts and; (7) informal programme.

Primary schools attached to gurdwara followed this syllabus but with the chaging time there was expansion with a wider programme. Guru Har Gobind was imparted knowledge in astronomy, agriculture, administration and other sciences. With the establishment of seats of education at Anandpur Sahib and Damdama Sahib in the time of the 10th Guru, teaching courses comprised a study of Sanskrit, Punjabi, literature, philosophy, politics, astronomy, mathematics and literary criticism. Guru Gobind Singh was well-read and had studied all these subjects. He was a literary genius and a great educationist.

In the chapter, "Methods of education" , she shows how education was imparted. To adult students, the methods employed included kirtan, telling stories addressing congregations, fairs and festivals, adapting dramatic techniques and employing a sense of humour, discussion and debate, quest and inquiry, psychological studies, etc. Children’s education had a different pattern. The methods of education included oral-cum-memorisation, poetry and songs, recitation and repetition, monitorial system and story-telling.

In the 10th chapter she sheds light on the concepts which are even today accepted and followed by the modern educational system. These are humanism, idealism, pragmatism, naturalism and realism.

Guru Nanak Dev had laid stress on the unity of godhood and he had been the most secular and universal in his approach to life. He enunciated the principles of true education and was averse to the prevalent social practices of isolation and ceremonial imparting of education. In those days and till recently the doors to the Vedas were closed to the lower caste Hindus but the Guru showed to people the path of equality by stressing on universal brotherhood. He was a protagonist of value-based education inseparable from ethics and a quest for spiritual life. The Guru was a fearless person who donning the dress of a Hindu sadhu and a Muslim darvesh trodded even the untrodden path, including the holy Mecca and went through the whole length and breadth of the country, teaching unity of godhead, raising his voice against oppression, tyranny, formalism and too much stress on ritualism in religious practice.


Tension of transition in Asian economies
Review by Jawahar Lal Dwivedi

Understanding Business Systems in Developing Countries edited by Gurli Jakobsen and Jens Erik Torp. Sage Publications, New Delhi. Pages 260. Rs 225.

THIS book focuses on the development of market economies in industrialising countries in Africa and Asia. Although many of these countries have adopted similar state-led industrialisation policies over the past four or five decades, there have been significant differences in the organisation and role of the state across these economies that have together led to contrasting kinds of market arrangements.

To understand these differences and the process generating distinct patterns of economic coordination and control, most contributions have used parts of the comparative business systems framework.

This book aims at contrasting and elaborating these approaches to the study of contemporary business transformations and developments in the South in order to re-examine critically the business system approach as an appropriate theoretical framework which can help us further understand the dynamics and trajectories of the private sector in the developing countries.

Private companies in developing countries have come to play a prominent role following the greater say given to marked forces. The contributors to this volume challenge the assumptions of classical business economics about the universal nature of the firm. They show that the embeddedness of firms in the larger social context of nations impacts on their ability and ways of adjusting to current forms of international competition.

The key theoretical approach highlighted in this book is the concept of a "business" system as defined by Richard Whitley and his associates. Whitley defines business systems as particular arrangements of hierarchy — market relations which become institutionalised and relatively successful in particular contexts. This approach assumes that there is a way economic actors are organised which are characteristic of and peculiar to a given country or region.

Clarifying the purpose and nature of the comparative business system framework, Whitley underlines its intention to describe significant differences in the market economics and explains them in terms of variations in the nature of dominant social institutions.

In general, there are important differences between market economies in terms of: (a) the overall level of organisational integration of economic activities; (b) the extent to which such integration is achieved through ownership-based hierarchies; (c) through alliances and networks between ownership-based units; and (d) whether coalitions and agreements between firms are predominantly personal or organisational, fragmented business systems are endemic in many developing economies.

Another important feature of many developing economies is their dependence on international agencies and companies. The economies discussed here have mostly been more open to foreign direct investment by multinational companies. All these points have been highlighted in this book.

The Indian economy is becoming more genuinely competitive. Management in large firms is often hierarchical, centralised with some gestures in the direction of Japan. Decision-making is decentralised among small and medium enterprises and forms of cooperative networking or flexible specialisation are emerging in places.

The labour market is polarised and is likely to remain so far a long time. A large part of the workforce is well educated with access to training or experience with new technologies and has bright prospects and rising incomes.

The impact of liberalisation on Indian business has been modest. The economy is opened to imports. This raises the quality of Indian goods and helps to make them more competitive in world markets. Multinational companies are welcome, but are feeling their way cautiously in the new environment. There is still widespread suspicion of them.

Discussing all these aspects Mark Holmstrom presents an analysis of Indian business conditions. His is a theoretical dilemma that is valid for several of the less developed countries which have combined a strong state planning of national economic life with a capitalist market economy and gone through liberalisation of economic restructuring in recent years.

The market organisation characteristics of the Indonesian "Jamu" industry reflect the mutually reinforcing nature of three key social institutions; authority, trust and the state. The high degree of centralisation and personalisation of authority in Indonesian society apparently does legitimise the peternalistic behaviour of "Jamu" firms towards their weaker business partners.

"Jamu" is the Javanese name for a wide range of herbal medicines. It can be used as a cure for several ailments, but people also use it as a stimulant, health restorer, cosmetic or aphrodisiac. The "Jamu" industry is based on traditional knowledge about the healing power of herbs and both the wide variety and availability of raw material in Indonesia.

In earlier days, the receipes for "Jamu" were secret and only shared among medicine men and royal families. Nowadays, there are thousands of street vendors and shops that sell either industrially produced or home-made "Jamu".

Although, this industry was not taken very seriously earlier, at present it is receiving greater attention. The results of the author’s analysis of the market organisation in "Jamu" industry show that long-term relations in this industry are common but also that these relations are not cooperative in mature.

In another chapter Peter Wad has considered important contributions to the business system debate and then applied a dynamic sector business approach based on the triple explanatory logic of business, institutions and international business actors (transnational corporations) aiming for an understanding of the changing Malaysian auto industry and its potential as a business proposition for the overall Malaysian economy.

The changing Malaysian auto industry indicates that state-led construction of a national business system challenges and is challenged by domestic and international force not least private domestic and transnational firms. In order to grasp this dynamic, Whitley’s business system approach needs to be expanded and made dynamic.

Chapter five deals with the Korean electronic industry. Dieterernst points out that nothing is predetermined about the impact of globalisation. The author says that the main determination of firm behaviour is competitive dynamics and not national origin. By choosing an evolutionery perspective, the author discards some popular misconceptions. This applied in particular to Whitley’s comparative-static theory of national business systems.

Olav Jull and John Kuada examine the impact of different national contexts on international business relations based on an African case study. The essay centres on the study of the institutional context for internationalisation of Ghanaian firms. The foundational concepts of this essay are "interaction" and "perception". The authors advocate that individual and shared perceptions established through daily interactions are among the critical factors that shape the dynamics of business systems and the economic growth capabilities that they generate. Ghana being another case of a semi-planned economy becoming liberalised, this research also give evidence of how extremely difficult it is to repair the damage and restore mutual confidence in government business relations when they have been characterised by mutual suspicion and discontent over several decades.

Firms in the private sector of developing countries are increasingly seen as the main drivers of development dynamics. However, local structures and global integration constitute major challenges for such an endeavour. The last chapter "Firms in the South" has discussed how the business system approach can be applied to the development of private sector business in developing countries and examined how an international perspective contributes to explaining the formation and operation of business in a world of global economic activities. The recent economic crisis in Asia has fundamentally shaken the belief that the business systems of the region were stable and could produce continuous growth. The crisis demonstrated how the global financial system had deeply penetrated into local business, flooding local firms with cheap but short-term and mobile credit in foreign exchange.

The strength of using the business system approach in developing countries is that it moves the debate of industrialisation in developing countries away from the stereotype in which industrialisation is seen as a universal process with fixed policy recommendations. The approach focuses attention on the specific social and institutional formations and thereby follows the present trends in other areas of development studies. The business systems in developing countries must be studied using a framework that considers the international aspects: external actors, markets and institutions.


Meditate in the name of Buddha
Review by B.S. Thaur

Vipassana Meditation by B.S. Tyagi. Pages 128. Rs 70.

TILL recently meditation was considered to be the domain of Bhagva cult only. If you look a little deeper into our history, your thoughts would go to the hills conjuring up images of holymen in their loin cloth sitting and praying in hermitages. However, nowadays "meditation" has been brought out from the places of God and other sanctified confines. Even yoga in which meditation is an important part, has various techniques in several schools by different teachers and acharyas. They are included in the curriculum of known and schools as modern as the Doon School.

Meditation sessions by boys and girls in their bright dresses are a common feature in TV programmes. In fact, the development in medical research, a rational approach to life and, above all, the pace of modernity have changed the meaning of meditation. It is now used to cure the stress and strains of life rather than as a route to reach God.

Meditation sessions, apart from being held in city parks, are also recommended in offices to be practised during the lunch recess. Recently a well-known hotel in Goa arranged meditation sessions after it found that the guests were exhausted after day-long merry making. Interestingly, the merrymakers were "singles", 25 each of both sexes converting into "twos" converged from different parts of the country.

"Meditation" has even gone to the jail. A social organisation has held meditation classes for prisoners in the Patiala jail to help defuse their tension and mould their thinking.

In the thin volume under review the author has tried to explain the Vipassana type of meditation. Vipassana is a Pali language word, the equivalent of Vipashyana in Sanskrit, which means seeing deeply inwards, to see things not as they appear but as they really are. The author avers that Vipashyana finds a mention in the Rigved. However, reinitiation of the Vipassana type of meditation he attributes to Gautama the Buddha (chapter 3) as the one way to achieve nirvana (emancipation).

The book is divided into eight chapters and the first three deal with the terms and techniques of meditation (Vipassana). The other chapters tell us about the life of the Buddha, his experiences and teachings. The spell of Buddhism appears all pervasive throughout the book which gently and latently tends to induce the reader interested in learning the technique of meditation to become a believer in Buddhism.

Spiritual insight and flow of language come easily to the author despite the fact that the narration is interspersed with terms in the Pali language. The narrative also attests to the knowledge and involvement of the author in Buddha dharma as he has dedicated the book to his acharya in Buddhism.

Fast living, invasion of western culture and economic stringencies in every walk of life have increased the incidence of mental, emotional and physical stress and strain. The prohibitive cost of medicines and heavy doctor fees are compelling people, particularly the middle and lower middle classes, to seek natural remedies like yoga, of which meditation is a vital part.

The appeal of this book is therefore wide. If the reader is interested in Buddhism, he or she will be doubly blessed — learning meditation and also becoming a follower of the Buddha.

However, if his interest is only in meditation, the chances are that the reader may be scared away because the book essentially drips with the Buddha’s teaching of which meditation can be said to be an initiation rite.

At least in this part of the country except the Dalai Lama’s camp in Dharamsala (Himachal) and one or two centres in Delhi, Buddhism is almost non-existent and Vedantic type of meditation in one form or the other is popular and in that many publications in the form of booklets, meditation sessions and discourses by known swamis and their shishyas have sprung up, which are moderately received in cities and towns to seek solace and peace out of their sick life style laden with emotional, mental and physical stress and strain.

Certain very interesting do’s and don’ts for meditators which could be useful in all types of meditations brought out by the author are: spending too much time in meditation at the cost of one’s duties to the family, society, employer or himself may add misery to his life. "Meditation should be done with grace and thankfulness, not as a drill."

"Meditation is the search for inner strength, it should not degenerate into an ego-building practice which leads to spiritual arrogance."

"One should not try and learn anapana or any other meditation, certainly not Vipashyana by reading this or any other book. The proper thing to do is to attend a ten-day course at a Vipashyana camp under qualified teachers."

With a view to elaborating the objective of meditation and the Buddha’s teachings, the author has not hesitated in borrowing quotations of Swami Vivekananda, Krishna from the Bhagvad Gita. Mohd Iqbal, the poet is referred to while explaining the term "renunciation" of the Buddha, thus: wa-iz-kamal-e-tark se milti hai yan murad/Duniya jo chhor di hai to ugba bhi chhorde ("Oh, preacher! one gets the final goal here by extreme renunciation. It is not enough to leave the world, leave the desire to get to heaven also".

Interestingly while describing "the Buddha and Buddhism", the author has brought out certain aspects vis-a-vis Hinduism though with a positive intention but it may not please hard-liners in Buddhism and Hinduism alike. "Hindus have accepted the Buddha as the ninth avtar of Vishnu. They have thus placed him in the category of Krishna, Rama and Parshurama thereby giving his being a mythological colour... Sidhartha Gautam belonged to the Vedic dharma, the Sanatan dharma, which the modern term Hindu appropriately signifies... Although he did not support the theory of transmigration of the soul, the Brahmins whose pre-eminent position depended upon this theory had no hesitation in accepting him as their teacher. Many of the most distinguished members of his order were Brahmins. The Buddha did not deny or denounce the theory about the soul. He just refused to say anything on it."

Rhys Davids has this to say: "We should never forget that Gautama was born and brought up and lived and died a Hindu. His teaching, far-reaching and original as it was, and really subversive of the religion of the day, was Indian throughout. Without the intellectual work of his predecessors, his own work, however original, would have been impossible... we need only claim that he was the greatest, wisest and the best of Hindus." So much regarding Hinduism.

About Islam, the author in the context of Buddhism states: "It seems undeniably true that in whatever part the population was largely Buddhist, the Muslim invaders had comparatively easier task in capturing and proslytising its people. Perhaps the argument that patriotism and nationalism in India can only be Hindu patriotism and Hindu nationalism has some weight.... The followers of the three great religions of the world, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism, have three different attitudes towards nationalism and patriotism. To the Hindus, it is geography that has given them this name... To the Muslims, there is only one passion, one bond — Islam. If nationalism and patriotism clash with it, these should be sacrificed... He cites a couplet of Mohd Iqbal. To the Buddhists, nationalism and patriotism are too mundane a matter which found no use in the teachings of the Buddha. Man’s concern is to eradicate his vikaras and seek nirvana and not waste time in these unwholesome sentiments."

However, the views of the author on patriotism of Hindus are contested by learned analysts who hold that nationalism and patriotism have political intent and spirituality is incompatible with it. In the context of the demand for Indianisation of Islam and Christianity by a section of Hindu enthusiasts, the author’s views become debatable these days.

On the whole, this small book is a succinct and lucid narration of the Buddha and Buddhism.


Satire here and there, then and now
Review by Bimal Bhatia

Making India laugh by M.S.N. Menon. Reliance Publishing House, New Delhi. Pages 165. Rs 250.

"HUMOUR writing sells more than other serious subjects," our mass communication professor advised during the period on feature writing many moons ago. That is one piece of wisdom all journalists will readily nod at.

As the editor extended this book towards me, that bit of homily on writing in lighter vein came back. M.S.N. Menon’s is a familiar byline for readers of The Tribune. Menon had his early education in Kerala and later in England, where he specialised in economics. But his heart was in the human condition, which drew him towards Marxism and journalism. His foray into the world of satire was short-lived. He has since been writing on international affairs and economics on which he has authored several books.

This book is a compilation of Menon’s writings and poems, 47 pieces in all. And though not all the poems in it are satirical, the author avers that poems are more suitable for expressing satirical thoughts.

"In the rat race" has Menon taking a dig at Indians consumed by the passion to possess. Money never made a man happy ever. But no man’s credit in heaven is as good as his cash here. And if you want to come by cash, know that the two cannot go together — honesty and cash. You have to give up honesty. The Greek god Hermes, messenger of gods, was patron of both, traders and thieves. They go together.

But not all of us can have the patronage of the good god Hermes, for most of us are not in trading and thieving. How do you make a success of your profession? There is only one way: you must create your own patron saint, says the author.

Menon takes you to the land of Yahoos, a la Gulliver, and spoofs the Hindu karma theory, caste system and philosophy. "The Yahoo must have a woman for his delight, and he must have a son to continue this delight. It is, therefore, the duty of every male among the Yahoos to produce sons to prevent a break in the chain... Which is why they kill their female children if there are too many of them."

More of this: "The Yahoo marriages are arranged by parents. No love marriages are allowed among them. Karma plays a great role among Yahoos. So also the horoscope. If ever a donkey was born to carry the load of the washer-woman till eternity, here is one which will take it willingly and gladly and attribute its good luck to its karma."

Thrown in between are chapters on forms of humour and satire, the purpose of satire, history of Sanskrit humour and satire, and humour and satire in vernacular languages. These contain useful material for those who want to understand the theoretical aspects of humour and delve into a spot of such writing.

The true end of satire, says Dryden, is the "amendment of vice". To Johnson, the end of satire was to "censure wickedness and folly".To Daniel Defoe, the end was reformation of man. Jonathan Swift, the greatest of satirists, says: "The chief end I propose to myself in all my labour is to vex the world than divert it."

Menon thinks that Swift was nearer the truth; for the end of satire, unlike that of humour, is not to divert people, but to "vex" them, to purge their evil through ridicule, and to affront the tyrants. This is why great satires came to be written in times of great oppression or folly. The 17th century was such an age in England, and it was an age of all great satires. The Restoration was an era full of anger and bitterness.

Evil is a constant in society and satire has a perennial role. Apart from a few exceptions, it is a pity India has denied itself this powerful weapon to quell the evil in society, rues the author. In India, satire became part of the dramatic tradition, but the main aim of Indian drama was to divert the people, not to vex them.

Horace Walpole says that life is a comedy to a man who thinks, and a tragedy to one who feels. Only when feelings begin to hurt, satire is born. And a great satire is born only when thinking and feeling combine in an explosive mix.

Satire is not always the outcome of moral indignation, as is often the claim. Other factors also play a part. Dryden and Pope were motivated by hatred. Others might have been outraged by injustice, hypocrisy and wrongdoing. Orwell’s "1984" was inspired by hatred of the system that denied freedom and dignity to man. Great satire, according to J. Wight Duff, must be universal. "It transcends the limits of its own period by virtue of its truth to human nature," he says.

Provided by satire is a salutary correction to our blind faiths. But people given to blind faiths cannot produce satirists. Happily, we are not among them. India has a long tradition of critical enquiry, Menon says.

Explained in three pages are the forms of humour and satire: parody, travesty, burlesque, wit, ridicule, irony, sarcasm, cynicism, sardonic, invective and so on.

Irony can be mild and ferocious. Swift’s "Modest proposal" was a fierce irony. In that he proposed a cure for the growing population of Ireland by systematically carving up the children for the tables of the wealthy. "Will any Indian editor even today dare to publish such a satire?" the author questions.

Erotica is a highly controversial area, but sex has been funny throughout the ages and in all countries. It is also frowned upon. So erotica can produce both humour and satire, Menon says. There is a vast collection of pornographic, obscene, bawdy and erotic literature in Greek, Latin and English. Erotica was, however, not "popular", though it sold furtively more than other forms of literature. But in India, erotica played an important role in the life of people, high or low.

The locale of many bawdy stories was Italy, just as many of the bawdy plays in Sanskrit had their locale in Varanasi and Ujjain. One cannot help admire Menon’s erudition, mainly when he details the history of Sanskrit humour and satire. which can be traced back to the Vedas.

The victims of wit, humour and satire in Sanskrit literature were rather stock characters, as in almost all civilisations. In Sanskrit they were first of all priests (Hindu, Jain and Buddhist) and mendicants. Then there were prostitutes (courtesans), kings and courtiers, generals, hypocrites, kayasthas (civil servants), doctors, merchants and many others. But in each age different people came into prominence. In our times it is the politician, Menon says.

Women have constantly been the butt of riducule by our writers and thinkers. Bhartrihari describes women as "a tornado of problems, an abode of mischief, a city of impetuosities, a vessel of sins, a field of doubts, ...a snare to all who live." Menon can’t recall a satirist who had a good word for women.

Does the feminist brigade see a challenge in the field of satire to undo this wrong?


A very biased view

The review by Jaspal Singh of my book in Punjabi ("Jin Prem Kiyo") carried in the Sunday Tribune of 29.4.2001 is not only derogatory but is full of uncalled for, out of text and out of context insinuations of the reviewer aimed at slighting the author.

The very heading"Neurosis as spring of contemplative poetry" is disparaging: the totally uncalled for statement after statement reeking of vilificatory intent has compelled me to write this rejoinder.

First of all, let me introduce myself to the readers of The Tribune. I am the recipient of National Sahitya Academy Award for my poetry as also the Shiromani Kavi Awardee of the year 1999. I am the author of seven collections of poetry. The reviewer does not seem to be aware that "Uneeda Vartman" won for me the prestigious Sahitya Academy Award. But the reviewer strangely makes no mention of this book which has remained prescribed for MA Punjabi classes in Delhi University for the past 14 years. A number of Ph.D and M.Phil theses have been written on my poetry. My book "Savitri" has been included in the masterpiece of Indian literature by the National Book Trust of India.

My book "Jin Prem Kiyo" has been prescribed for M.Phil classes in Delhi University. I have been teaching psychology to college students for the past 25 years. I have done Ph.D research on "A study of personality, self-perception, alienation, anomie and values of hundred creative writers of northern India".

Now I come to the review itself.The review says that "if she were not a poet, she would have been in a lunatic asylum". Now the use of very word "lunatic asylum" is highly defamatory and uncalled for, particularly with reference to a person of my calibre who has won recognition for her work at state, national and international levels. Further, the reviewer must know that nemesis cannot by itself produce good poetry. Creativity is not a byproduct of neurosis or the consequence of it.Rather it is the very opposite mental condition which gives birth to durable poetry.

Also the reviewer should know that I have a good grip not only on my poetry but also on my life and my subject of teaching psychology. Wherefrom the reviewer has discovered my neurosis? It could at best be the manifestation of his own dream work as he himself seems to be seriously suffering from lack of critical ability and poetic sensibility, from where creativity springs.

Then the reviewer writes: "Her neurosis is manifested more prominently when she compares herself with God". But the lines he quotes by way of illustrating his point nowhere say so as I am talking here of creativity and not of comparing myself with God. So the reviewer has manufactured his statement with a clear bias in his mind, again an evidence of his myopic vision.

"Jin Prem Kiyo" is a long poem on the theme centring around the journey of self in this world. This journey which is more in the nature of Odyssey is a long and arduous one: Full of varag leading through self-realisation to redemption of self.

So this poem is about a spiritual journey rather than a temporal one. Obviously the reviewer is not competent enough to do justice to contemplative poetry as his so-called progressivism stands in the way of doing so.

In the end, I would like to say that it was quite easy for the reviewer to plant his own motives to the text on the plea of decoding the text but the fact remains that the gap between what the text intends and what the reviewer has made it to say has on the contrary, widened the gap which makes the whole task of the review a mockery.

Manjit Tiwana,



Words as metaphors

Jaspal Singh responds: The reaction to my literary analysis of "Jin Prem Kiyo" by Manjit Tiwana makes interesting reading, particularly in the light of the uncalled for pulls and pressures exerted by the author to get a write-up about her poetry published in these columns. She in fact specifically wanted herself to be interviewed by this writer because of the critical objectivity which this column is known for. She even visited the reviewer’s house a couple of times once with a senior staffer for this consideration. Apart from this, she rang me up several times for the favour of a review.

Well, this is besides the point. As far as the present review is concerned about 80 per cent of the text of the review is a faithful English rendering of the Punjabi text as given by the poet in her introduction of the book and in the poem itself. She is particularly piqued at the use of the word "neurosis" used in the headline and the words, "If she were not a poet, she would have been in a lunatic asylum". She claims that "poetry is more important than breathing" for her, this means she would have died had she not written poetry. I think the question of any journey to the asylum does not arise. "Lunatic asylum" is a conditional assumption which could have "happened" if at all it was to happen had she not been a poet.

Since she is a poet and a "great one" she should not have any fear of such a thing. The use of the word "neurosis" has not been made in a clinical sense. I hope as a psychologist Manjit Tiwana must have read Michel Foucault’s "Madness and Civilisation" and Freud’s "Civilisation and its Discontents". She must also be aware of Freud’s concept of "sublimation" which is very important for the creative process for channelising one’s anarchic instinctive energy (neurosis) into socially acceptable forms like poetry and so on.

I think she must also be aware of Jacques Lacan’s concept of "lack" and its role in feminine creativity and also of Jacques Derrida’s concept of "difference" and the "gap" between the "ideal" and the "real". I have used the term neurosis in this post-modern sense which a psychologist must be conversant with. Even otherwise, no creative writer, painter, sculptor, dancer, musician and so on is free from some deviation from the "norm" or he/she is not a poet or a painter at all.

I hope Manjit Tiwana remembers what Plato says about poets in his "Republic". He believes that when they compose poems they are possessed by the Muses and, therefore, are not in their right sort of mind. Hence he banishes all poets from his "Republic".

Well, I do not subscribe to Plato’s views here; nevertheless, I do believe that all creators whatever be their field are in some way "distractors", "deviators" or at least "different" from the ordinary normal people or they are not creators at all and in that case they should give up such pretensions.

Once a work of literature is released, the author loses all control over it. Technically it is called the "liberation of the text". After this, it belongs to the reader since it is carried by language which is a social institution. The author has no right to engineer the reader’s response. The words and sentences used in the discourse have their own semantic logic in a specific socio-cultural mechanism.

Therefore, the terms used in this write-up are absolutely innocuous. There is no intention to run down the author. In fact she has been given more exposure both visually and textually then much greater writers have ever got.