With malice to Francis Bacon
you plant, so you reap; well, fruits
Why families abandon their homes
and what they really mean
With malice to Francis Bacon
FEW individuals in history have demonstrated in their literary works such a firm grasp of human knowledge as Francis Bacon. His range of human interest is extraordinarily wide. He laid a sound foundation of inductive sciences. His contribution to English law, both as a theorist and a reforming judge, has stood the test of time. In historiography and English literature he had few peers.
Writing to Lord Burleigh at the beginning of his 32 year, he wrote: "I have taken all knowledge to my province; and if I could purge it of two sorts of rovers, whereof the one with frivolous disputations, confutations and verbosities, the other blind experiments and auricular traditions and impostures, had committed so many spoils, I hope, I should bring in industrious observations, grounded conclusions and profitable inventions and discoveries; the best state of that province."
These observations show that Bacon had set out his path clearly to charter new courses by emancipating himself from the fetters of the traditional mould of compliance to authority, which medieval scholars had been following with fanatical devotion on the lines laid down by Aristotle.
The book under review is "Hostage to Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon (1561-1626)" ( Gollanz, p 637, £ 25 ) by Lisa Jardine and Alan Stewart. The authors claim in their introduction that "they have largely set aside the substantial body of posthumous apologetics and have elected to tackle the great Verulam from scratch as he servives in archives and contemporary printed texts". Jardine is a professor of English literature and Alan Stewart is a social historian; both scholars have used literary and historical skills to produce this study which has taken them about a decade to complete. The authors have used exhaustive source material, including the bulk of manuscripts deposited in Lambath Palace Library, which issued in 1974 a comprehensive index relating to Bacons brother Anthony.
This work covers some of the major episodes relating to Bacons life and letters. The whole study is cluttered with long quotations which are irritating; and the idiom used in the narrative is rather jauntily too modern which somewhat seems incongruous and odd with the spirit of the Elizabethan and Jacobean times. The object of the study was to pepper and enliven the text, but the results are otherwise.
The main focus in the work is on Bacons political and private life which has been the favourite theme of quite a number of versatile biographers. This ground has often been covered, so there remains little scope for saying anything startlingly new, although some new interpretation is offered here of Bacons early background, particularly on his association with Grays Inn, his financial difficulties and his connection with Elizabethan espionage.
Too much space has been given to the life of Bacons brother Anthony, particularly on charges of homosexuality for which he was arrested, his French travels and his activities as an agent of Essex. Such a treatment distracts the reader from focusing on Bacon; subsequently this work reads like a chronicle with the authors flitting from one theme to another. The account of Bacons parliamentary life where he opposed King James I is sketchy but takes up 25 pages. Naturally in such a hurried account too much is taken for granted which is apt to confuse the reader. This study does not help us understand the nature of corruption for which Bacon was indicted. Corruption was endemic in the Jacobean Court. The authors completely fail to realise that contexualisation is absolutely necessary for understanding a historical situation or a milieu.
This work fails to provide any sustained analysis of Bacons character or personality. It does not even attempt to explain why Bacon persisted in serving the monarch who far from recognising his merits as a man of great learning, completely ignored him, kept on dangling unfulfilled promises and finally abandoned him. Possibly the explanation is that in the teeth of all experience, Bacon clung to the Renaissance ideal of the intellectual taking part in vitae activa to the best of his activities. "Yet, will I serve my prince, my lord," as Kent does in King Lear. Bacons father, Sir Nicholas, was Queen Elizabeths Lord Keeper for 20 years and Bacon was born into a tradition of public service with its own explicit norms.
Jardine and Stewart ignore deep-seated motivation in their analysis and emphasise not Bacons commitment to serve the monarch but his crude ambition. They highlight his customary lobbying for favour which was "unabashed" or "inexhaustible" and ascribe purely self-regarding motives to Bacon. Bacon knew quite well the moral danger that beset a public danger. But he had laid himself out to get on in the world; and success was hard to attain without "servility, adulation and complacency". In one of his well-known essays, "Of Great Places", Bacon wrote, "All successes is by a winding stair".
This work suffers greatly from the crude tendency of passing moral judgement on Bacon and his conduct without examining his actions in the context of accentuating circumstances in which he was placed. It seems as though these writers credit themselves as Bacons public prosecutors in a trial, the attitude which Lord Macaulay in his brilliant essay on Bacon had condemned. Bacon shows great respect for high office and aesthetic response to intellectual and social hierarchies at all levels, but strangely enough for this attitude which was in conformity with the standard of the times, Bacon is described in this study as "ever the dandy", which is gratuitous. At the behest of Elizabeth I, Bacon prosecuted the Earl of Essex, one of his earliest and principal patrons. Alexander Pope, the poet, never forgave him for this betrayal, and called him "the brightest, wisest and meanest of men".
Bacons legal philosophy was one of absolute duty to the sovereign, which could not have hindered his rise to the position of Lord Chancellor. In 1620 he was disgraced for bribery and spent his remaining years in seclusion. His collected works run to 14 volumes and include "Essays" (1597), "The Advancement of Learning" (1605), "Ovum Organon" (1620) and "New Atlantis" (published posthumously in 1660).
It is a pity that Jardine and Stewart have paid scant attention to Bacons ideas. Bacon was a man of outstanding intellect, and it was in the realm of ideas that his unique contributions lay. His religious beliefs which are of considerable interest, particularly in an age torn apart by ideological conflicts, are completely ignored. Only on two themes there is considerable focus: buggery and corruption "two charges that Bacon would not be able to silence", the authors claim.
They ignore to mention that Bacon publicly admitted charges of accepting gifts from litigants (although that never affected his decisions); he was accused by suitors who had given presents but lost their case).
The charge of buggery has never been made by any reliable authority. The authors allege that at the end of his life Bacon showed remorse, but there is no evidence of him doing any such thing. The authors object is to expose the guilty secrets of Bacon in which task they have failed.
In this work Bacon is condemned for his shameful vice of homosexuality. This theme has been dealt with crudely but not in scholarly and level-headed terms, and much of the evidence cited is illusory. The intimacy of homosexual relationship is emphasised on the basis that no letters remain to bear witnesses. This is a flimsy ground to build up a case.
Jardine and Stewart occasionally comment on the many intellectual areas in which Bacon excelled but in a dismissive way. They do not come to grips with the main problems. They emphasise that Bacon was doubtless a man of vision, but they themselves give no clue to what that vision was. They have merely offered brief summaries of some of Bacons works. They do not explain what Bacon meant by "natural history", to which he gave special importance in the scheme of human knowledge. His project for reforming philosophy is also lost sight of.
Bacon was probably the earliest western philosopher to formulate a concept of the law of nature which has now become basic to science. He tried to understand nature solely by physical reasons and explanations. The authors make no effort to explain his attitude to nature. Nor do they evaluate his contribution to history writing. Bacon published "History of the reign of King Henry VII", the first product after his fall. In this work Bacon tried to unravel the interconnectedness of things, thereby offering cogent casual explanations of some key episodes in his cryptic style. He also shows rare insight by entering the thoughts of Henry VII through imaginative and conjectural reconstructions.
Very little is said about Bacons "Essays" in this work. "Essays" consistently present the character and goodness of nature without which man is no "better than a kind of vermin", and present self-love as destructive of social good; "be so true to thyself, as though be no false to other". For Bacon, striving to excel in the social world is legitimate, but all the same. "a crowd is not company; and faces are a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love".
Bacon evolved his method of induction in Part II of "Novum Organon", which is a forerunner of John Stuart Mills method. It takes cognisance of negative instances. Bacon was perhaps the first writer who attempted to delineate the proper methods of successful science, to enable science to become industry, producing benefits for humanity rather than the haphazard pursuit of occasional eccentricities. He made the study of science a serious business and a subject of primary importance in the scheme of knowledge for the benefit of humankind.
How self-doubt was born in this region
The Making of a Nation: Indias Road to Independence by B.R. Nanda. Harper Collins, New Delhi. Pp. xxxiii + 362. Rs 500.
AMONG the plethora of publications commemorating the half century of Indias independence not many may survive for long. Half-baked, slipshod, shoddy efforts by pseudo-scholars, whose knowledge and competence in the field of their endeavour leaves a lot to be desired, may, by definition, have a short span of life. In sharp if striking contrast, the book under review will outlive and for many a long summer to come. And for two good reasons.
To start with, it offers an excellent survey of the crowded half century before the British left our shores. Again, few would dispute Professor Nandas profound scholarship, acute observation and a thorough understanding of the period.
Even though themetically the author goes back to the revolt of 1857, his real starting point is the last decade of the 19th century and what he calls "the emergence" of an educated elite. Its two pillars, the Maratha free-thinker and rationalist Gopal Ganesh Agarkar and the Bengali Swami Vivekananda whose exposition of classical Hinduism not only "thrilled" his countrymen but satisfied "a deep and long-felt" psychological need of the Hindu intelligentsia.
The rest is an oft-repeated tale, whose familiar landmarks may be briefly recapitulated. To begin with, there is the "moderate era" dominated by the likes of Dadabhai Naoroji, Allan Octavian Hume, Pherozeshah Mehta and Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Coming to a boil as it were with the "extremist challenge" posed by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Aurobindo Ghose. And drawing to a close with the near fiasco of the Home Rule movement and the famous-infamous Rowlatt Bills.
The early 1920s were witness to the non-cooperation movement and its aftermath in Chauri Chaura. The Khilafat agitation and the forging of links with the Muslims opened a vista of possibilities. Sadly, like all good dreams, these too soon vanished into thin air.
The Lahore Congress (1929) marks a heady restart with the salt satyagraha in tow. To blunt its widespread impact, the "Christian" Viceroy Irwin negotiated a deal with the Mahatma (1931) which, sadly, provided only a temporary truce. Followed another bout of repression which, as earlier, proved abortive if inconclusive. In the meantime the Congress was beset with its own "crisis". There was the socialist "challenge" followed by Subhas Chandra Boses decision to part ways with the Mahatma and the Congress.
The last decade of British rule, 1937-47, was for too crowded, and confused, for comfort. With the Congress in and out, of office and Jinnah and his Muslim Leagues meteoric rise in popularity and power. The momentum which the demand for Pakistan (1940) soon acquired was difficult to arrest, especially with the Congress abdicating its control over the provinces and literally walking out of the power game.
Followed the Quit India movement (1942) and the Mahatmas open revolt. By the time the impasse was broken (1945), the Muslim League and its Quaid had become virtually unassailable, leaving the country, and the Congress, little choice except to agree to their demand for partition. And Pakistan.
What has been telescoped into the preceding paragraphs is familiar ground which the book has woven into a gripping narrative. Given the constraints of time and space, it is a virtuoso performance, the more so as no major strand in the fast-moving drama seems to have been missed. Barring one. Insofar as the authors forte is political history, those looking for any meaningful discussion of the social, economic or cultural facets of a fast evolving polity may be keenly disappointed. And have to look elsewhere to satisfy their curiosity.
To give the reader a feel of the authors depth of analysis and perceptive judgement, it may be useful to reproduce a few of his comments on men and events.
Vivekananda heavily underlined the fact that the "great national sin" was the neglect of the masses. For no amount of politics would be of any avail until the masses were "well-educated, well-fed and well-cared for".
When its members were in residence at Pune under Gokhales "benign eye", the Servants of India Society resembled "a political academy" with a course of instruction in history, economics, public finance, law and journalism. It follows that the Society was "very different" from the ashrams which Gandhi had set up at his Phoenix and Tolstoy farm in South Africa.
Tilak had always an anti-British, almost on anti-western streak. His conservatism, critics maintained, was the result of calculation, rather than of conviction: "He trimmed his sails to catch the winds of popularity."
Aurobindos analysis of Indian politics (in 1893) was "ruthless, his logic irrefutable and prose evocative" but he was "wholly out of tune" with the Indian political elite.
The beginnings of Muslim separatism may be traced to "a quaint mixture of self-praise and self-pity" which became a part of the Muslim psyche in India. It "accentuated" the isolation of the Indian Muslims from the main currents of society and politics in the country and added to their "sense of frustration and insecurity" vis-a-vis the Hindus.
Explaining the secret of Gandhis "phenomenal rise to power" (1919-22), Nanda dilates on the post-World War I social and economic discontent, the disillusionment of the intelligentsia with the existing political parties and the accidental vacuum created by the decline of Annie Besant and the prolonged absence of Tilak. "Yet all this" would not have taken Gandhi very far had it not been "for the sudden, almost elemental impact of his personality" on the imagination of the people. The Mahatmas "real achievement" lay in that he had "intuitively" stumbled upon the truth that "no government, least of all a foreign government" like the British, could rule "without the cooperation" of the Indian people".
Jinnah had "a superior, almost supercilious air" and his usual attitude to those he encountered was one of "withering scorn" His relations with Motilal Nehru were friendly partly because he found it easier to understand a fellow lawyer treating politics as a practical game. Much unlike the Mahatma who "professed to spiritualise" politics.
At Tripuri (1939), Bose had "played for high stakes" and lost; "grossly overrating" his capacity for effecting changes in the national leadership singlehanded. He had a rebellious streak which made it difficult for him to function as member of a team. Besides, Gandhi was strongly persuaded that Bose lacked "restraint and tact" and that his earlier stewardship of the Calcutta corporation and the Bengal Congress had been "a byword for factionalism and corruption".
That Jinnah was a superb tactician may not be denied but he failed to foresee the "long-term" consequences of his campaign. In the event, the Quaid managed to achieve just the opposite of his professed goal: "He had stressed the need for Muslim unity; in fact, he was destined to split Muslims. The partition did not solve the Muslim problem; it only internationalised it."
The view that the British handled Gandhi and the Congress "softly" has "no basis in fact". Nanda reveals inter alia that New Delhi had sought Whitehalls assistance to stop royalties accruing to the All India Spinners Association from the sale of a gramophone record containing a talk by Gandhi on the existence of God!
The British saw the Mahatma as a wily politician and the Congress, his pliant tool. In the event, they viewed Indias political problem as a purely administrative exercise requiring "timely and judicious use of force". Gandhi and his followers moral superiority was "simply an additional irritation."
The British colonials thought poorly of the winding up of the empire: "Glamorous Dickie (Mountbatten) and Attlee, with their three months knowledge between them, breaking up in half a year what it took us centuries to build."
Gandhis uniqueness lay in that he "symbolised" in his person the basic unity of India nationalism for over a quarter century providing thereby "a prophylactic against the fatal tendency" of nationalist movements towards schism. Additionally, the Mahatma showed great consideration towards his political opponents stressing the "points of contact more than those of conflict". His objection to violence stemmed not only from a belief that an unarmed people had little chance of success in an armed rebellion but also because he considered violence "a clumsy weapon" that created more problems than it solved. Besides, it left a trial of bitterness which made "genuine reconciliation" impossible.
A few brief comments. The book is largely a recap of the authors earlier works, with each chapter starting with an excerpt or two culled therefrom. It should follow that for those familiar with these works, there is nothing new or fresh in these pages. Which is not to gainsay that it provides a succinct, summary statement that is refreshing to read and cogitate.
The final chapter, "Nehru and nation-building", offering a brief overall assessment of his stewardship as Prime Minister does not strictly fall within the parameters of the freedom struggle. It hangs out on a limb as it were and does not quite mesh with the rest of the narrative.
Two small points. There is an unfortunate misspelling of Gokhales initials on the dust-jacket: these are G K, not C K.
The publishers, a reputed house, could do with a little more attention to binding; the last 10 pages of this reviewers copy have already fallen apart; the rest hang loosely together! This with a new book, and a prestigious title!
|As you plant, so you reap; well,
Fruit Growing by J.S. Bal. Kalyani Publishers, New Delhi. Pp. 425. Rs 180.
Fruits are natures gift to mankind. These are not only delicious and refreshing but are also a major source of vitamins, minerals and protein, which are essential for physical wellbeing and developing resistance to pathogens. It may not be an exaggeration to say that about 80 per cent of the problems caused by undernutrition and malnutrition can be managed with indigenous medicines, and fruits are an important ingredient of these.
India is the third largest producer of fruits and production has shot up by over 300 per cent in the past three decades. About 65 per cent of this increase has come from the adoption of high-yielding cultivars, improved cultural practices and protection from insects and diseases. The total area under fruit in India is estimated to be 3.23 million hectares. Mango ranks first in area and production followed by banana and citrus. The area under grape is small but it is marked by high productivity. Sapota has emerged as an important commercial fruit and the country tops the list in its production. In last decade some minor fruits like ber, pomegranate, amla, etc. have emerged as suitable for dry land horticulture.
The standard of living of a people is linked, among other things, to per capita consumption of fruits. Inspite of the fact that India is climatically ideal for production of a variety of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate fruits, per capita consumption is the lowest (60g a day) relative to the developed countries (250-450g) and even developing countries (100-200g) The present availability of fruits in India is less than the minimum dietary requirement of 85 g. There is thus great scope for increasing the area and production of fruits in the country.
With growing urbanisation, demand for fruits in the cities is fast increasing. However, fruits are costly and are not within the reach of common people.
Earlier, fruit production was confined to the pleasure gardens of kings and nobles. However, commercial production emerged after World War II and it has been adopted as a profession by enterprising farmers. Fruit cultivation is labour intensive and is therefore ideally suited for an over-populated country like India with per capita cultivated land holding being less than one hectare.
Like all other branches of horticulture, fruit production involves specialised skills in harvesting and marketing, canning and processing. Fruit plants per unit area yield returns comparable to any agricultural crop. The multiple cropping system in orchards also generates more jobs and additional income.
Developing orchards calls for long-term investment and special skill. One should plan a new orchard with utmost care and should consult books. Major fruit areas in India still depend on traditional lines of cultivation, Plants are produced using old techniques without caring for the proper use of rootstock and scion and without adopting improved production and protection methods. Plant propagation has become a vastly specialised industry. It is essential to adopt appropriate technologies to obtain high yields of superior quality fruits. In recent years rapid progress has been made in different fields of horticulture. There is lot of information in different research journals. Unfortunately this information is scattered.
Most of the books on horticulture are written by foreign scientists and are more relevant to their conditions.The present book "Fruit growing" has focused on and given special consideration to the Indian situation. J.S. Bal has done a commendable job in providing detailed information on fundamental aspects of fruit cultivation keeping in view the Indian needs. He has incorporated the latest research findings, particularly those useful to this country, while discussing the cultivation of temperate, sub-tropical and tropical fruits.
The basic chapter on selection of site and soil for planting an orchard, preparation of land and layout, cultural practices and flowering and fruiting are dealt with in the light of recent recommendations. The chapter on propagation provides fundamental information necessary for raising a fruit nursery. Modifications of standard practices and accepted methods for the commercial propagation of specific fruit plants are also given in detail. Exhaustive information is also available on tropical, sub-tropical and temperate fruits grown on commercial lines in various agro-climatic conditions of India.
The book will prove highly useful for graduate and post-graduate students in horticulture in India and neighbouring countries. It is also of utmost value to fruit growers, nursery men, kitchen gardeners and extension workers in the field of horticulture.
|Why families abandon their homes
Rural-Urban Migration: An Economic Interpretation by T. Babi Reddy. Reliance Publishing House, New Delhi. Pp. XI+212. Rs 250.
IS migration a rationally planned action? Is it a social problem or an economic phenomenon? Is it the movement from areas of lower opportunity to those of higher opportunity? Whatever it may be, it is certainly a change of residence often associated with occupation. It is a sort of mechanism which transfers labour from the surplus to deficit sectors. Ultimately migration affects the structure of population. It is part of the process of adaptation to the socio-economic and ecological environments.
The book under review investigates the rapid growth of suburban settlements with rural migrants in Anantapur town of Andhra Pradesh. It deals comprehensively with the fundamental characteristics of migrants by focusing attention on the process and pattern of migration; critically analyses the pattern of occupation, savings and debt of migrants; explains in detail the consequences of rural-urban migration. Also highlights the consumption pattern of migrants. Suggestions given at the end enhance the value of the book.
Migration from the rural to urban areas is the most distinctive and fundamental characteristic in India. The quest for livelihood, aspiration for higher wages and income and better living conditions, better utilisation of skill and unemployment in the rural areas are some of the reasons for migration. Generally, migration is permanent but to a town at short distance. Among the severely drought-prone areas, Anantapur district ranks 13th in the world, second in India and first in Andhra Pradesh. It is the most economically backward area where dryland agriculture is the main economic activity. It is rich in mineral resources but it is not yet fully exploited, thereby forcing migration to towns.
Young men are more mobile. They are rushing out in search of employment without bothering about the facilities available or the prevailing conditions at the new place. Illiteracy in no way hinders migration. The same is true of caste. The factor which ultimately decides the flow of migration is economic opportunity.
Undoubtedly, the so-called "migration network"that is, kin, relatives, friends and caste membersplay a significant role in the process of migration. In fact, it acts as a channel, and provides information required for migration. Normally, the migrants have to wait for about a month for an opportunity to get a job. Thereafter, they go on changing their occupation to increase their income and improve living conditions.
The informal sector is a major source of jobs. A majority of migrants work as casual labour in petty trade, construction and the service sector, but the wages are comparatively high in the construction sector. The competition among migrants themselves is keen and the job situation becomes difficult when the stress is on technical know-how and skill. This is particularly so when urban dwellers enter the competition.
Despite all this, they are able to save money and invest in productive fields. Possession of consumer durable goods serve as an index of their better standard of living. There is noticeable improvement in the quality of food they eat. The consumption pattern also changes with an increase in income. By and large, migrants maintain their social (marriage, family rituals) and religious (festivals and rituals), economic (helping family members during drought or in repayment of debts, purchasing land, etc) links with the rural people. But their economically better position makes them vulnerable to certain vices such as consumption of alcohol, smoking, matka and gambling which adversely affect their physical and economic health. Moreover, agricultural production suffers because of the transfer of human capital.
Large and unending influx has led to large-scale growth of hutment colonies where the living conditions are appalling. Squatters do not have adequate public utilities and services. Inadequate supply of drinking water is a health hazard. The lack of sanitation, electric supply and drainage facilities make these slums unlivable. Children are the worst victims. Like mosquitoes, crime too breeds in such an environment and a law and order problem is born.
All the same, largescale influx is the major factor contributing to the growth of small towns. So the author rightly suggests that migration must be regulated. The government should chalk out a strategy for socio-economic development of the migrants. Such a programme will certainly help in the systematic and healthy growth of urban centres.
|Words, and what they really mean
Sterling Dictionary of
Abbreviations by I.B. Verma. Pp. 546. Rs 175.
UNTIL recently, it was a monopoly of foreign publishers to produce standard dictionaries in English language. Now Indian publishers have undertaken the task to bring out standard dictionaries which do not lack in quality and are as good as foreign ones, at least in get-up and printing.
Experts in lexicography say a dictionary should pass four tests. It should fulfil the needs of students and general readers; it should concentrate on different moods of the readers and should have a fair degree of accuracy and its printing should be satisfactory. It should be handy and offer relevant information and use lucid expression.
Judged by these norms, Sterling dictionaries are useful and handy although they do not excel foreign publications.
"The Dictionary of Economics" is a must for students of all types and is reasonably priced. Most of the terms have been clearly explained with graphs wherever required. There are hardly any mistakes in the book.
"The Sterling Dictionary of Abbreviations" offers valuable guidance and help to those who seek information on the terms used in an abbreviated form. Earlier, one had to consult several dictionaries to expand abbreviations. This dictionary reduces this effort to a minimum and one now needs to consult only one book. I.B. Verma, a senior college librarian, laboured for five years to prepare this dictionary and visited several libraries. Despite some minor flaws, the dictionary is a useful help-book with over 5000 entries.
"The Sterling Dictionary of Idioms" has been finely printed, with an attractive title page. However, there are several words which could have been easily omitted in order to make room for more important words which have been left out. The dictionary can help students up to the graduate level.
"The Dictionary of Literary Terms" is a valuable addition to the available literature and offers very useful information to students upto the post-graduate level. The terms which one comes across in these books have been clearly and lucidly defined.