The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Information replaces knowledge
A. J. Philip
Knowledge, Power & Politics: Educational Institutions in India
edited by Mushirul Hasan. Roli Books. Pages 463. Rs 495.

N a visit to Santiniketan early this year, a lecturer there showed me rows of university quarters which remained vacant not because there were no takers but because they were unliveable. It was indeed difficult to believe that it was the same Viswa-Bharati, founded by Nobel-laureate Rabindranath Tagore, which had as its Chancellor the Prime Minister of India. As I took round of the university, set in sylvan surroundings, what struck me most was the neglect all around.

Quake astrology
Peeyush Agnihotri
Predicting Earthquakes and Calamities
by Lachhman Das Madan. Bharat Press, New Delhi. Pages 256. Rs 1,400.

CIENTISTS the world over are working overtime to figure out foolproof methods of earthquake and natural calamity prediction. Since these disasters are governed by neither arithmetic progression nor geomorphological rationale, any forecast of such events can at best be mere conjecture. The realm of scientific and logical prediction is limited. No harm then if such natural devastating calamities, which bring untold miseries along, are predicted through the ‘supernatural.’

Eastern exotica through western eyes
Arun Gaur

Neem Dreams
by Inez Baranay . Rupa. Rs 295. Pages 278.

RIENTAL is me — this is an outsider’s appropriating view of the Orient. The outsider may be an Australian novelist like Inez Baranay born of Hungarian parents in Italy, who presents a composite set of personae — Andy, Pandora, Jade in the novel — on a probing mission to India. The author wishes to create a new surface-discourse, to weave a new romance about India, its people and places.

Coelho’s experiment with the truth of sex
Manisha Gangahar

Eleven Minutes
by Paul Coelho. HarperCollins, London. Pages 275. £ 8.99.

NCE upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria" begins Paulo Coelho, and one would, undoubtedly, find it tremendously difficult to put away his new novel before having read the final sentence. Even before the narrative gets into motion, Coelho makes it a point to justify the use of fairytale terminology in a story that does not belong to that genre. The story is about the bitter reality of the materialistic world of human beings.


Duggal’s comic attempt at translating Kabir
Rana Nayar

So Spake Kabira
by Kartar Singh Duggal. UBSPD. Pages 201. Price not stated.

F late, there has been a sudden spurt in the intellectual and critical interest in Kabir as a poet. In 2002, Linda Hess and Shukdeo Singh had published a critical edition of his poetry in English rendering, The Bijak of Kabir (OUP). Some three years ago, Winand M. Callewaert, Swapna Sharma and Dieter Taillieu had come out with The Millenium Kabir Vani: A Collection of Pad-s and now we have K. S. Duggal, an eminent Punjabi writer, exerting his skills as a translator of Kabir’s padas and shlokas.

Moral allegory of early Soviet writing
M. L. Raina

The Life of the Automobile
by Ilya Ehrenburg. Translated from the Russian by Joachim Neugroschel.
Serpent’s Tail Press, London and New York.
Pages IX + 209. $ 12.99.

T was during those adrenalised glory days of ‘Hindi-Russi Bhai-Bhai’ that Ilya Ehrenburg, addressing a gathering at Delhi University, became starry-eyed about life in the Soviet Union. When students asked him why Russians couldn’t afford a car while most Americans drove freely, he replied, "The mere possession of a car means nothing, all that matters is what you talk inside."

Fast-paced, but Bunker 13 stretches credibility
Aradhika Sekhon

Bunker 13
by Aniruddha Bahal. Faber and Faber. Pages: 356. £ 4.99.

HIS book is for reader who enjoys spy stories with plenty of guns and ammunition, drugs nexus and some dark hints about illegal activities in the Army. If, on the contrary, murders in the sky, while para-jumping at that, and inexplicable murders in the National Defence Academy and other such activities don't excite him and he is looking for something more than a desi James Bond book, he'd better search further up the bookshelves.

Short takes
Buddha’s appeal to logic won him mass following
Jaswant Singh

Gautama Buddha
by Kadambari Kaul.
Rupa, New Delhi. Pages 67. Rs 95.

HE story of Siddhartha Gautama, a Sakya Rajput Prince, whom his father, King Suddhodhana, kept isolated from the miseries and sufferings of human beings, is well known. How he broke away from the luxuries of the palace, left his wife and son sleeping, clothed himself in a single garment and set out in search of the ultimate truth and salvation is also narrated in textbooks. His wanderings, the sufferings he inflicted on himself and his final enlightenment are also recorded.


Of labour markets
Ashu Pasricha

Labour Market and Institution in India: 1990s and Beyond
edited by Shuji Uchikawa. Manohar, New Delhi.
Pages 183. Rs 400.

HE dominant view in today’s world is that a flexible economy, one that can readily adjust to the needs of time, will achieve faster development than the economy with a rigid structure. While an inflexible economy is more easily prone to bottlenecks due to mismatch of demand and supply, leading to inflationary pressures and other economic dislocations, the flexible economy, in which individuals, firms, organisations and institutions efficiently adjust their goals and resources to changing constraints and opportunities, involves flexibility in all markets, i.e. land, capital, financial, labour and product markets.

Women who showed the way
Ranjay Vardhan

Women Pioneers in Indian Renaissance
edited by Sushila Nayar and Kamla Mankekar. National Book Trust.
Pages 447. Rs 115.

HE role of women in social, educational, cultural, economic and political spheres is gaining impetus with the publication of books on issues relating to women. However, there are few studies on women’s role in national development, and the few there are unable to emphasise the importance of the role played by women in socio-religious reform movements and the freedom struggle.