The Tribune - Spectrum

Recent but grim history of Pak
by Parshotam Mehra

Pakistan:A Modern History by Ian Talbot. Oxford University Press. New Delhi. Pages, xvi + 432. Rs 675.

THE historian’s by no means enviable task of viewing the past in perspective so as to hold a mirror to the present becomes doubly difficult, if not well-nigh impossible, when dealing with contemporary events. For one thing, there is a complete absence of primary source material. For another, if the tumultous span of years he is surveying is sadly riddled, as in the case of Pakistan, by "conspiracy theories, allegations and unresolved mysteries... (relating) to election rigging and attempted coups, massacres and assassinations", the enormity of his undertaking becomes truly onerous.

Essentially, therefore, what emerges may best be regarded a pretty tentative assessment which, in due course, could be materially modified when government archives and private papers, of individuals and institutions, become more readily available. And those wielding the levers of power can speak out without undue restraint, if also greater freedom.

His constraints notwithstanding, Talbot tries "to make sense" by examining the interplay between Pakistan’s colonial inheritance and its contemporary strategic and socio-economic environment. And also between its regional and national levels of politics.

The hallmark of Pakistan’s deeply rooted past, he avers, has been its "weak" political institutions and "viceregalism".

To put it in perspective, the study has been divided into four nearly equal parts: the historical inheritance; the destruction of Pakistan’s democracy and unity (1947-71); the eras of Bhutto and Zia, to 1988; and the tumultous period of a decade and a half that has elapsed since.

Of the historical inheritance, the author makes two significant points. One, that for Pakistan, the Kashmir conflict constituted the "most maleficient" legacy from the climacteric of the British transfer of power with the consequential war with India (1948-49) providing its "defining moment". To start with, it sought to counterbalance New Delhi’s greater material resources first by calling on British and later American assistance. And insofar as Washington had its own political agenda for intervention, it led to "eventual strains" in its relations with Pakistan.

Again, on the domestic front, Islamabad’s suspicions of New Delhi supported the need for a strong central authority even if it flew in the face of the loose federal structure envisaged by the Lahore Resolution (1940). No wonder, the country was taken further away from a democratic set-up and centralism imposed on its plural society.

Of the first nearly quarter century when democracy was successfully suborned and a military dictatorship under Ayub Khan emerged, and later foundered, with the eastern wing becoming a separate state, the author has some sobering things to say. Pakistan, he heavily underlines, born not so much of the Lahore Resolution as of the exigencies of 1945-47 discovered that Islam was an "insufficient" bond to hold its two wings together. The primary responsibility for this falling apart, however, was neither Bengal’s "primordialism", nor yet Indian "machinations" but Islamabad’s "chauvinism" manifesting itself in the "dangerous denial" of Bengali democratic urges.

Of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s tenure (1973-77), two facts stand out. One, his failure to regard political opposition as legitimate, a fact that cost him the vital support of small traders, merchants and shopkeepers who had initially given him support and later sustained him in power.

In the final analysis, the "weak institutionalisation" of his Pakistan People’s Party was to prove a crucial factor in the regime’s inability to provide "a counterweight" to the military and the bureaucracy.

Whether Zia-ul-Haq’s "Islamisation" may be viewed as a "legitimisation" of a "repressive, unrepresentative" martial law regime or an attempt to fulfil Pakistan’s raison d’etre, it fanned sectarian divisions. And revealed the difficulties in achieving any scholarly interpretation of the Quran and the Sunnah. In the event, the General bequeathed to Pakistan a political process distorted by the eighth Amendment which enabled his successors to dismiss elected Prime Ministers with impunity and generated an atmosphere of "bigotry, fanaticism and distorted values."

With Zia’s violent death and Benazir Bhutto’s return to power, democracy was restored. But her first tenure in office (1988-90) was noticeable for its dismal failure to live up to expectations which given the economic and constitutional constraints, she was unable to fulfil.

Benazir’s fall however had far more to do with the fact that she had "stepped on the army’s toes" than the charges of corruption and political horse-trading held out against her. More, her privatisation and pro-US policies made the regime "barely distinguishable from its Muslim League rivals. Under Nawaz Sharif (1990-93) it was more of the same: confrontationist politics, a crisis in Sind and charges of corruption, all of which had dogged his predecessor. The disparate character of his Islami Jumhoori Ittehad (IJI) coalition with such incompatible constituents as the Pakistan Muslim League and the Awami National Party, the Jamat-i-Islami and both the Mohajir Qaumi Mahaz and the Jamat-i-Ulema-i-Islam made the government rickety, unstable.

Ultimately Nawaz Sharif found that there were too many circles to square. While his attempt to reconcile the twin goals of economic liberalism and Islamisation trapped him no end, his Gulf War policy and the Shariat Bill drove the last nails in his political coffin. During her second administration (1993-96), Benazir was politically in a much stronger position than in her first tenure and seemed headed for a full five year-term. Sadly, besides the endemic civil war in Sind, Punjab again proved to be her nemesis.

Hot on her heels, Nawaz Sharif was to return to power with a "crushing victory"; an overwhelming, absolute majority in the National Assembly with 135 seats in the bag against the PPP’s measly 19. While Punjab was his key area of support, both in the NWFP and Baluchistan, the PML made impressive electoral gains.

Initial successes in repealing the notorious eighth Amendment, ousting an unsympathetic President, browbeating a recalcitrant Supreme Court into submission and manoeuvring a change in Army House made him no dearth of enemies.

In sum, he squandered his political capital somewhat recklessly. All the while glaring social inequalities, deepening incidence of poverty and massive inequities in access to power made the state increasingly vulnerable. Pakistan’s five nuclear tests (May, 1998) brought their own compulsions for the impact of sanctions on an economy teetering on the brink of collapse led remorselessly to the declaration of a state of emergency (July, 1998). That is where Talbot’s narrative draws to its close.

The crowded 20 months since then call for a brisk canter through recent history. The Kargil operations (April-July, 1999) gave Pakistan a bloody nose nearer home and abroad mounting opprobrium. Part of the result was a burgeoning mistrust between the Prime Minister and his army chief which culminated in General Pervez Musharraf’s coup (October, 1999).

Despite the latter’s promise to restore democracy, the political scenario remains somewhat grey and grim: the ousted Prime Minister has been charged with high treason while a former Prime Minister languishes abroad in political wilderness.

China has kept its counsel and relations with Washington are a little less than cordial. And with New Delhi, thanks to mounting violence in Kashmir and the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane (December, 1999), under heavy strain. In both cases, the new military regime appears to be upping the ante.

What the future forebodes is uncertain, but as the Economist of London recently put it, South Asia would be lucky to keep the violence at "its current horrible pitch".

Overall, Talbot’s conclusions are unexceptional. Pakistan’s ability to meet future challenges lies, he insists, in the transformation of the security state bequeathed by the Raj into a participatory democracy in which the previously marginalised groups — women, minorities, and the rural and urban poor — have a role to play.

That prospect, sadly though, looks "bleak". For the image of "failed" state mired in violence, corruption and economic crisis persists. And yet, as not unoften in the past, Pakistan may confound its obituary writers. One very much hopes it does.

Ian Talbot, who is Reader in South Asian studies at the Coventry University in England, has two earlier Pakistan-related studies to his credit. The book under review shows considerable hard work in rummaging through an impressive array of printed sources apart from some private papers and records at the India Office Library, the National Archives of India and the Freedom Movement Archives in Karachi. There are biographical notes on prominent figures in Pakistan’s political life and vital details about its political parties and organisations. All in all, an important, and useful study on Pakistan.Top


Trust Fukuyama to say the oddest
by Shelley Walia

Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity by Francis Fukuyama. Hamish Hamilton, London. Pages 457. 25.

FOLLOWING the two devastating world wars and the rise of oppressive ideological dictatorships in the early years, the 20th century has been overwhelmed by pessimism, both for the future of mankind, and for the potentially catastrophic effects of natural science. A few years ago Francis Fukuyama’s "The End of History and the Last Man" sparked off a notable debate on the future of the world after the end of the cold war.

Fukuyama uses the early 19th century thesis of Hegel and earlier optimists to argue that there are two powerful forces at work in human history: he calls them "the logic of modern science" and the "struggle for recognition". The forces that he identifies eventually lead to the collapse of ideological tyrannies because they find it impossible to sustain themselves on popular consensus. Fukuyama’s thesis rests on the premise that the historical process finally culminates in a universal capitalist and democratic order.

With ideology dead, the conservative historian expands this theme in "Trust...," a study marking out the historical and philosophical setting for the next century. He emphasises that there are "general patterns, interrelationships between state and civil societies, showing the importance of distributed political power. These are all broader principles by which you can categorise the jumble of particular social and economic circumstances."

He goes on to ask why some countries are more successful than others. Why do the economies of the Pacific Rim surpass those of the West, including the USA and Britain?

Fukuyama examines the art of association in a wide range of national cultures in order to show the reasons that make a prosperous society. He maintains that at the "end of history" social engineering is not enough to achieve further improvement. Stable social institutions cannot be legislated and it is only the habits, customs and ethics that are responsible for the creation of a dynamic civil society, on which depend liberal and economic institutions.

Economic life is pervaded by culture and is dependent on moral bonds of social trust; only societies with a high degree of social trust will be able to create the kind of flexible, large-scale business organisations needed for successful competition in the emerging global economy and international order.

Since the end of the cold war, countries are gradually becoming aware of the highly different cultural attributes which separate them. For instance, the USA is conscious of South Korea’s difference from its own economy as it follows norms of buying and selling within the country rather than from a foreign company even though it might offer more profit or better quality. The "socially cruel" competitive individualism of America at the expense of greater good is at odds with many Asian economies which point to aspects of their own cultural inheritance such as "deference to authority, emphasis on education and family values, as sources of social vitality" which influence economic growth.

Taking the examples of Mazda, Daimler-Benz, the Toyota Motor Company, among many more, Fukuyama shows how in all these cases the economic actors the (Deutsche Bank or the Sumitomo Trust along with factory workers and the management) supported one another because they believed that they formed a community based on mutual trust. The banks and suppliers that engineered the Mazda and Daimler-Benz rescues felt an obligation to support these auto companies because the latter had supported them in the past and were bound to do so again in the future.

Managements in Japan trust the workers and give them power to stop the assembly line and the workers repay this trust "by using that power responsibly to improve the line’s overall productivity". And all this is possible because the community in such cases is formed on the basis of "ethical habits and reciprocal moral obligations internalised by each of the members".

These rules and habits give the members ample grounds for trusting one another, especially in "familistic cultures" of Hong Kong or Taiwan. Selfish economic interest is never the motive. "Solidarity within their economic community becomes an end in itself." On the other hand, in France or in many companies in the USA there is no mutual trust unlike in the case of South Korea where successful business is organised around family ties and "rotating credit associations within the broader ethnic community".

It is the opposition between western individualism and Asian emphasis on habits of religion, community and family that Fukuyama bears in mind when trying to bring the two models together for the ultimate economic prosperity in the 21st century. Though the Americans are known to have opted for the benefit of a community at the cost of individual interests, this is not always the case as in many Jewish and Afro-American companies.

It is also true that the same industrial policy will work in one society and be an utter failure in another. In a recent interview Fukuyama explained why this is so: "It is the underlying cultural foundation, not the state policy, that is usually the critical factor in success or failure. Rather than pursue the essentially fruitless debate about state policies, it is more important to look at the intermediate layer of society, the cultural terrain between the individual and the state."

Societies like in China and Hong Kong, based on the Confucian hierarchical system, do find it rather difficult to evolve huge corporates owing to a lack of trust for anyone outside the kin group. Fukuyama’s thesis seems to overlook the Singapore model however, where the state plays a significant role in governing the economy despite its free market policy. Japan, on the other hand, would not hesitate to share interests with strangers and put full trust in them for economic gain. It is an interesting analysis of societies like the Chinese and Japanese which seem similar and yet are so different in their attitude to outsiders.

Fukuyama clubs Italy and South Korea with the Chinese model, which leaves us with the corollary that to develop large corporations, these societies would need state intervention. Thus in China the state would play a major role than, say, in America, in the evolution from the family business to modern corporation. What is needed in this country in the days to come is political stability "born out of a basic legitimacy of its political institutions and a competent state structure prone neither to excessive corruption nor to outside political influence".

Taking the case of Italy, family ties in southern Italy are very strong resulting in the least trusting attitudes which hamper economic development. This is in contrast with the north, where large corporations like Fiat, etc. are born out of trust. This thesis collapses when we study the South Korean model of the private sector which does succeed in setting up big corporations yet has its origins in family ties. And what of Tatas and Birlas who have built massive empires through an allegiance with the state bureaucracy and simultaneously retained their joint family status.

In the past, Fukuyama has been accused of western capitalist triumphalism, of underplaying the obvious challenges to his version of liberal democracy from radical Islamic politics. His totalising thesis has been rejected by the Left which take him to be oblivious of the potential of revolutionary socialism.

Though some have sought to coopt him for revisionist progressivism, political thinkers like Wallerstein do not accept his opinion of progress in the face of the overall human decline since the 14th century. In a post-modernist climate, Fukuyama’s universalism, his vulgar interpretations of the end of history, along with his assertion of progress within the renaissance of liberal democracy, seems rather incongruous and inordinately optimistic.

History is here to stay, and no amount of the Hegelian idea of linear progress can bring about an understanding of the divergent ways in which history moves. It is possibly for this reason that Fukuyama now switches to the cause-and-effect approach of Max Weber. He tries to see reason behind the successful development of corporates in economies where selfish economic ties are the only bond, whereas many economies succeed with the help of the state.

Lord Meghnad Desai of the London School of Economics finds his emphasis on large-scale enterprises surprising since "time is past for really large-scale vertically integrated enterprises in this post-Fordist days of Benetton-type corporate structures."

Subcontracting global sourcing, the revival of a modern version of the putting-out system, the de-layered slimmed-down corporation, the spectacular downsizing of machines in information technology and so forth, may indicate the obsolescence of the large private corporation.

Now that collectivism has passed into history, its replacement by liberalism is no less problematical as, in the words of David Walker, "it undermines the family, subverts voluntary effort". Nevertheless to says, the aim of Fukuyama’s book is to put ancient and modern, or the post-modern and the pre-modern together, an unquestioning trust combined with family-based capitalism. Fukuyama clearly sees a problem with social trust in the USA and maintains that "it is not a problem you can fix except through cultural struggle".

Apparently, habits of sociability cannot be created through state action though states can educate the citizens; but "school as a form of socialisation can’t really be manipulated very easily".

Trust and mutual dependence are intrinsic to a civil society and its culture born out of inherited habits and ethics. As Fukuyama notes, "These habits guarantee that human beings never behave as purely selfish utility maximisers postulated by economists."Top


Terrorist phase revisited shortly
by Jaspal Singh

SHORT story in world literature has some illustrious names like Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekhov, Maxim Gorky and so on. Though Punjabi does not have somebody equally famous to flaunt, it does have some accomplished short story writers of pan-Indian reputation. Mention may be made of Kartar Singh Duggal, Gurbaksh Singh Preetlari, Sant Singh Sekhon, Sujan Singh and Kulwant Singh Virk.

Close on their heels are Santokh Singh Dheer, Mohinder Singh Sarna, Ram Sarup Ankhi, Prem Parkash, Mohan Bhandari, Gurbachan Bhullar, Gulzar Singh Sandhu, Jasvir Bhullar, Prem Gorkhi and others.

Now the younger generation led by Waryam Sandhu is deploying still better craftsmanship. After "Lohe de hatth", "Ang sang" and "Bhajian bahin", Sandhu’s "Chauthi koot" (Chetna Parkashan, Ludhiana), a collection of five stories, has appeared after a somewhat long incubatory period. Behind the first four of these stories lurks the shadow of terrorism in Punjab and they are splattered with gory stains all over.

The first story "Chauthi koot", which lends its name to the title of the collection, is located in the heyday of terrorism during the early nineties. Two government employees, Jugal Kishor and Rajkumar, have to go back to their homes at Amritsar after their work in a Chandigarh office late at night. But the last bus to Amritsar has already left so they reach Jalandhar from where they plan to reach Amritsar by train.

With very great difficulty they are able to board an empty train with the help of a hesitant train guard who agrees to accommodate them in his own cabin where a few other passengers are travelling. Jugal and Raj are particularly scared of a middle-aged Sikh with a flowing beard and his young Sikh companion.

They take the Sikhs for terrorists and fear that they may whip out their weapons any time on the way.

As soon as the train approaches the Amritsar railway station and slows down, they are asked by the guard to alight just outside the railway station. Now both Jugal and Raj walk brisky down to their homes.

They are followed by the same two Sikhs who want to go along with them at least for some distance till they are out of the railway premises. But the scared Jugal and Raj run for their lives. In fact the Sikhs need the protection of the Hindus to save themselves from the para-military forces patrolling near the railway track.

The grim atmosphere of mutual distrust with ever-present danger to innocent lives is vividly recreated in all its multiple shades.

As a flashback Raj Kumar fondly remembers the glorious days of amity and mutual understanding that existed before the terrorism phase.

"Parchhawan", the second story, juxtaposes two turbulent periods of Punjab history — namely, the days of the 1947 partition riots and of the recent turmoil. The partition days are reconstructed by a unique device. The children in a family ask their grandmother to narrate some incidents of their father’s early life. The old woman narrates a gory incident of Muslim killings during those horrible days when Punjab witnessed a blood-bath.

The second incident is of the eighties when indiscriminate shooting of Hindus takes place in the village and those killed were intimate friends of the protagonist.

"Mai hun theek thaak han" again dilates on the problem of terrorism. It is a long story about an average Jat peasant living in his farm house during those dark days. His is a typical family which is caught between two structures of terror — the militants and the state apparatus.

Joginder, the main character in the story, has tonnes of affection for his dog Tomy which the terrorists want him to eliminate since the dog does not let anybody pass that way during the night. The terrorists want all the people living in farm houses to stay inside with the lights off and their dogs killed so that they could move about freely during the night.

After a few days, following a tip-off, the police raids Joginder’s house after a visit by the terrorists and he is badly roughed up.Joginder wants to poison the dog but his love for it holds him back. Ultimately in desperation the dog is hit with a club by the master and it dies the next day. But its death causes the entire household unbearable grief and remorse.

The next story "Chhutti" throws light on the failure of educational institutions during the decade of militancy when the school system in the rural areas broke down. Baldev Singh is an extremely dedicated teacher who cannot bear any loss of studies even in those turbulent times. But his own son is sucked into terrorist activities and is killed in an encounter.

The story unfolds the paradox that someone’s dedication to his duty fails to yield any positive result in such times.

"Nau bharan das" is one of the most intricate stories in Punjabi literature. It is a gruesome tale of caste-based alienation afflicting a very large section of the Indian population.

A Mazhbi boy Ninder in the story becomes a neurotic after having seen a number of Hindi films. The family where he works as a farm hand feeds him on the illusion that he actually is a son of Dharminder and that one day he would be married to Sridevi, his dream girl. Everyday his illusion is strengthened and he starts having hallucinations a la Cervantes’s Don Quixote.

The Jat farmer and his family members keep adding to his neurosis and do not let him come out of his world of fantasy since he works with greater vigour energised by his illusory wish fulfilment.

For sometime he comes back to his real self when a girl Dhanto from his own community makes use of him by taking fodder, etc. from the fields where the works. In the absence of the farmer he has to look after the farm all by himself so he could afford to be generous to the girl. But she deserts him when tempted by "better treatment" by a college-going son of a neighbouring farmer.

Ninder again falls into the psychotic pit. His poor parents are now worried and they take him to the seat (dera) of a "holy man" (sant) for divine benediction. He asks him to visit the place and pay obeisance every Sunday. He regularly goes there and in the process starts helping in the common kitchen at the dera where he takes fancy to a girl Seeto who also visits the place for similar reasons.

She responds to Ninder and they become intimate. After this romantic encounter he is weaned away from his hallucinations. Seeto belongs to a Jat Sikh family and when she learns about Ninder’s caste she withdraws and he again enters his neurotic world. But soon he breaks out of his illusion and comes back to the harsh reality of poverty in a caste-ridden society.

Now from one kind of alienation he is thrown into another kind of alienation. After this he becomes an extremely hard-working farm labourer and this is precisely what suits his employer.

The boy finally realises his situation as a member of the poverty-stricken low caste family in rural Punjab. He cannot escape his destiny through illusions and hallucinations.

This long story by Sandhu is a fine example of his craft as a writer. How a dalit is crushed by penury and caste relations in Indian society and how he is tossed about like a shuttlecock between illusion and reality is realistically delineated by the perceptive author.

As a discourse of a neurotic, this story has a lot for the psychologists and as a tragic tale of caste relations in the country, it invites the attention of sociologists as well.

After his initial success as a fine short story writer, Waryam Sandhu slowed down a bit and recently has been doing some "casual" writing. But he has a lot of talent to spin out sensitive stories on sociological and psychological themes and it is precisely here he can make a lasting contribution.Top


Laloo’s Bihar is beyond redemption
by Kuldip Kalia

Bihar in Flames by S.K. Ghosh. A.P.H. Publishing, New Delhi. Pages 139. Rs 300.

BIHAR has rich mineral deposits. It was once the centre of cultural renaissance, democracy and learning. It is the land of the Buddha, apostle of compassion and nonviolence. But the state with this proud legacy is bogged down by opportunistic or illiterate politicians, soulless bureaucrats, and ruthless and unscrupulous elements. Biharis need both vision and a holistic approach to tide over the virulent environment and to break out of the unholy nexus.

Poverty is a byproduct of the backward-looking administration. It is so bad that some individuals have killed themselves to put an end to their misery. About 270 persons out of every 1000 people are said to go to bed without a meal. There are instances of mothers selling their children for a few hundred rupees. Unemployment stares the rural poor for more than half the year. But the most shocking aspect is that heartless bureaucrats and contractors steal from the fund meant for poverty alleviation.

Bihar has also achieved the dubious distinction of being a crime-prone state, particularly during the LalooYadav regime. Name any crime, say, murder, kidnapping, rape or financial seam, it is there in Bihar in a big way. Criminals are said to enjoy the patronage of both the police and politicians. Ironically, the capital of the state, Patna, where both the Chief Minister and the district magistrate are women, women feel insecure. Rapists move freely and enjoy protection.

Making of guns and crude bombs is mushrooming as a cottage industry and extracting money is a big business. Kidnapping for ransom has jumped by nearly 25 per cent but the conviction rate is nil. Even the police force is politicised making it helpless and hopeless and thereby encouraging crime to flourish. Policemen are divided on caste lines; it influences their postings and transfer.

The population-police ratio is the lowest. It is poorly equipped and understaffed. Despite this, thousands of policemen are reportedly working either on farm houses or as domestic servants in the houses of officers. They use the weapons and wireless sets of World War II vintage. Most police stations are without telephones. They are housed in unsafe structures. The vehicles are no better than mobile metal scraps and perhaps "decorative antiques".

The classic example of the police brutality is the blinding of 33 persons in police custody in Bhagalpur in the seventies. It also tops the lists of deaths in police custody. There are instances where policemen are said to be involved in the rape of dalit women. At times, they do indulge (directly or indirectly) in looting and killing. Not only this, they are suspected of having taken the help of the Ranvir Sena to counter the naxalite movement. What could be more illustrative than the fact that the district magistrate of Gopalgunj was stoned to death by a mob!

The most affected is the dalit community. They are doubly cursed because of economic and social inequalities. They constitute a large section of landless labourers. They live under the constant fear of being killed by powerful landlords. They are organised by naxalite groups. Since then, massacres and retaliatory massacres have become a routine. About 30 cases of mass killing have been reported during the Laloo Yadav regime. The regime is suspected to be in league with mobilising criminals on caste lines. Landlords hire mercenary groups. The Ranvir Sena was banned in 1996 but it grew into a formidable army because the government never tried to disarm the Sena.

In the violent history of Bihar, perhaps the worst carnage occurred on December 1, 1997, when 61 villagers of Batan Tola in Jehanabad district were gunned down by the Ranvir Sena. The services of other private senas are also utilised during elections. That is why incidents of violence, booth capturing and rigging have become part of the election process in the state.

As many as 8719 persons were involved in the electoral offences during the 1995 elections. More than 995 criminal cases were registered. Again not a single case ended in conviction. It is not surprising that the author terms the state Legislative Assembly as nothing but a "shouting and brawling" house. Moreover about one-third of the MLAs are either criminals or have links with the underworld.

About corruption the less said, the better. Bihar has also achieved the distinction of being the most corrupt state. There are a number of scams like the fodder scam, bitumen scam, forest scam, medicine scam, travel scam and land scam, involving crores of rupees. Sick people are warned not to go to government hospitals because medicines are "scarce". It is tragic that 90 doctors working as CMOdid not get their salaries for over two years.

The situation in educational institutions is no better. School teachers are starving. Colleges are controlled by politicians and criminals. Children have "Laloo chalisa" to read in the classroom. At the same time, it is perhaps for the first time in India that the CBIraided the official residence of a Chief Minister. Anyway, Laloo Yadav has given a new status to the jail. Jails, in fact, are dens of vice. Name anything — home-cooked food, foreign liquor, expensive cigarettes, cellular phone, colour TV,women, VCR— and it is available within the jail premises provided you have the ways and means to procure it. Moreover, these are over-crowded. But for academic interest, the Beur Central Jail near Patna is identified as "luxury" prison.

So "lawless Bihar" desperately needs a revolution by making people conscious of their rights and responsibilities.


How united is United Kingdom?
Off the shelf
by V. N. Dutta

IN the pre-partition days study of British history was compulsory in schools and colleges. This was so because the Britain ruled the country. And the text had several passages extolling the virtues of British rule in India, which made us uneasy.

After independence, there was a radical change in the curriculum and in most of the universities the study of British history as a compulsory subject was done away with; and in some it was not even taught as an optional subject.

I have regarded it as a retrograde step. British rule is an integral part of our history and we can ignore it only at our peril. British history and British rule are interconnected, and it is well-nigh impossible to understand the nature of British rule without an understanding of the influence of British politics and thought on the developments in India.

There are many books on British history. Lord Macaulay’s "History of England" was perhaps the most popular work in the 19th century. Its third chapter is regarded as brilliant on social history. Macaulay’s history stirs our imagination but is devoid of speculative thought. He disparages the past in comparison with the present.

French historian Elie Halevy’s six-volume work, "A History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century (1815-1914)", published in 1923 deals with the philosophical, political, economic, moral and religious history of England. This magnum opus is marked for its erudition, quiet analysis and meticulous presentation of facts. Its object was to describe British civilisation and society as a whole, and to show how differing orders of social phenomenon combined with one another.

Winston Churchill was not a trained historian but was deeply interested in history. He wrote a number of historial works. In "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples" (Chartwell edition, 1956) he presents a personal view of the processes whereby English-speaking peoples throughout the world have achieved a distinctive position and character.

In this general work of history, Churchill’s focus is on the British empire and its civilising mission. The term "the English-speaking peoples" applies both to the inhabitants of the British Isles and to those in independent countries, who derived their language and many of their institutions from England. G.M. Trevelyan, formerly the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, modelled his "Social History of England" on his great-uncle Macaulay’s history, which became a best-seller in his time. It was social history with "politics left out".

The book under review, "The Isles: A History", by Norman Davies (Macmillan, pages 1222, 20) is a pretty kettle of fish. Its focus is on the British identity formation whose crystallisation took all of two centuries. According to the author, there were two landmarks — the Roman occupation of the isles (55BC-407AD) and the Act of Settlement (1707) — in the process of identity formation. Before these there was no such place as Britain.

Under Roman rule many key roads were built, transforming the country and helping development of industry. These developments stressed the bonds of identity between the imperial Britain and ancient Rome.

Thus from the time of the Roman conquest and more decidedly after the Saxon invasion in the fifth century, the history of Britain branches off into the history of the southern part of the island, later known as England. From this period began the history of the United Kingdom and it was Rome that "provided the model of the civilising mission of multinational empire". Norman Davies writes, "The conditions had been created where England, Scotland and Wales could begin the initial and most tentative phase of their crystallisation."

Davies emphasises that Britain "is a brief artefact, not a continuous entity" and it is a profound falsehood that generation after generation should have grown imagining the opposite! The author has challenged the traditional view of the image of English history that British historians have reconstructed from the past.

He firmly believes that British historians have given a distorted picture of British history due to false assumptions, selective records and prejudices. He thinks that "the Englishing of history has really been a betrayal of scholarship."

Davis writes, "The English have been taught for centuries that their civilisation is superior to that of the Celts — the weight of popular admiration and indeed a strong sense of identification has been attached to the Roman occupation of Britain rather than to the native British!"

The author is pessimistic about the future of Britain. He is a prophet of doom in that he believes that Britain is doomed because it has to look either to the USA or the European Union for its survival. The Empire is gone, with it the symbol of glory and power.

Davies attacks the Whig interpretation of history like his teacher Sir Herbert Butterfield did. But, surprisingly, Davies admires Macaulay, who was a staunch protagonist of Whig ideals. He criticises strongly the writings of Henry Hallam, F.W. Maitland and William Stubbs which nurse a narrow view of nationalism and party spirit. He thinks that the framework which these "reputed" historians have used deserves to be thrown out. These historians were erudite and dedicated but their work was no good, because their perspective was fuzzy.

The only historian, according to Davies, who has done justice to the writing of British history was a Catholic priest, John Lingard, who produced an eight-volume work "History of England"(1818), a solid work of scholarship free from the canker of nationalism and protestantism. Davies emphasises that the chief merit of Lingard’s work lies in "producing a global perspective". Lord Acton wrote on Lingard’s work that "he never gets anything wrong."

Davies has produced a big work which is based on secondary sources which is not reprehensible in a historical work. Some of the distinguished histories have published remarkable historical studies by relying on secondary sources. Braudel is one of them.

Davies’s study shows immense scholarship, critical acumen and elegant writing. It provides a wider canvas and thus acquires the status of general history.

His approach is strikingly unconventional. He writes that "this mongrel country, as a dependency of Denmark, became little more than on expansion of France."

About England’s fight again Catholicism, Davies comments that "the English had little choice to take pride in their isolation and eccentricity. Indeed, they have resisted it as a virtue." Such a view challenges the traditional assessment of the Reformation being acclaimed as inaugurating a new era in the social and cultural life of England. Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy had created an independent Church of England as its head.

The earlier portion of Davies’s work is valuable as it deals with the period which has remained obscure, and to which historians have paid insufficient attention. However, the second part of the book is sketchy, replete with facile generalisation. Nevertheless, the approach throughout has been to challenge and be iconoclastic. His conclusion is that "Scotland may have united with England in 1707, and Ireland may have united with England and Scotland in 1800. But England has never been united." Thus, there has been no long-lasting British nation and that English have never been a nation-state.Top


Dump your old beliefs; here is new hypothesis
by Kuldip Dhiman

The Vedic People: Their History and Geography by Rajesh Kochhar. Orient Longman Limited, New Delhi. Pages 259. Rs 425.

UNTIL about 100 years ago it was conveniently believed that India was originally inhabited by Asuras or pagans, as some would like to put it, and it was later invaded by the civilised Aryans. But the chance discovery of Harappa in 1826, and the subsequent researches conducted by Alexander Cunningham in the 1830s and R.D. Banerji and Sir John Marshall in the 1920s, turned the accepted theories of India’s historic past upside down.

As these scholars excavated the sites, they soon realised that these finds predated the Rigveda and, what is more, they showed that the people who lived there were far more advanced than the Rigvedic Aryans. By 1946, 37 Harappan sites had been found, and now the number is about 2,500.

The awesome expanse of the greater Indus valley civilisation spreads over an area of more than a million square kilometres, with its westernmost site in Sutkagen Dor on the Iran-Baluchistan border, and the easternmost site in Alamgirpur on the banks of the Yamuna’s tributary, the Hindan, 45 km north-east of Delhi.

More than the extent of this ancient civilisation, it is its urban character and sophisticated townplanning that has surprised researchers. These cities were so carefully laid out that they remind you of modern cities like Chandigarh. Incidentally, one Harappan site was discovered in 1969 while digging up the foundation of the city centre is Sector 17, Chandigarh!

But more than 150 years after the excavation of Harappa, scholars have still not been able to solve the mystery that shrouds it: who were the Indus valley people? Were they the original inhabitants of India, or were they too invading migrants like the Aryans? Another thing that confounds historians and archaeologists is the sudden demise of this thriving civilisation. Were the invading Aryans responsible for it? And who were the Aryans, and when did they invade India, if indeed the did? Which came first, the Ramayana or the Mahabharata?

Since the date of the Aryan invasion of India (2000 BC) neatly coincides with the demise of the Indus valley civilisation, it was assumed by scholars like R.D. Banerji and Wheeler that the Aryans actually destroyed the Indus people in the "battle of the kings". Wheeler was quite clear about his verdict: "On circumstantial evidence, Indra stands accused."

The latest scholar to join the debate is Prof Rajesh Kochhar, Director, National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies, New Delhi. In his book "The Vedic People — Their History and Geography", he argues that far more significant than the speculation on the origin of the Harappan cities was the speculation about their death. He refutes Wheeler and the rest strongly by declaring: "Even if Indra stands accused, he cannot be prosecuted in a Harappan court."

To prove his point, Kochhar goes about his business in a scientific fashion, basing his hypothesis on archaeological remains, Vedic and Zenda Avestan texts, linguistic comparison of the Sanskrit, Prakrit and Persian languages, geomorphology, astronomy and satellite imagery. He demolishes the argument that the Indus valley civilisation was an incidental extension of the developments of west Asia, by pointing at the discovery of Mehrgarh, about 250 km north-west of Mohenjodaro in the Kachi plain between the Indus and Baluchistan hills. Archaeological evidence there shows that the twin cities grew independent of any central or western Asian influence.

The other point he makes is that the Aryans were certainly not the original inhabitants of India, and that the Rigveda was composed in south Afghanistan. The main clue to the geography of the Rigveda is provided the river Saraswati on whose banks many hymns were composed. We must, Kochhar cautions, distinguish between the celebrated Saraswati of northern India and the river mentioned in the Rigveda, because the Harappan and the Rigvedic Aryans couldn’t possibly have inhabited the heavily forested Gangetic plain. To clear the forests they would have needed tools made of iron, and since iron was unknown to them, this was beyond the capacities of both the Harappans and the early Rigvedic Aryans. Large-scale settlement on the east of the Yamuna-Ganga doab had to wait until after 900 BC, when iron came to be used in India.

Now, if we take it that the Rigveda is a pre-Iron Age document, then the Vedic people could not possibly have been familiar with the territory east of the Ganga. "This territory contains three rivers," says Kochhar, "whose names figure in the Rigveda: the Ganga itself, the Gomati and the Sarayu. The Ganga is an inconspicuous river in the Rigveda. Its name appears in a very late hymn. It has been accepted for a long time on contextual grounds alone that the Rigvedic Gomati is not the Gomati of east Uttar Pradesh but the present-day Gomal, a tributary of the Indus in Baluchistan. If the present-day Gomati is not the Rigvedic river, most probably it was not known to the Rigvedic people at all. This makes it even less likely that a river further east would have been known. The present-day Sarayu (Sarju) of the Ganga plain cannot therefore be the Rigvedic Sarayu. Where then was the Rigvedic Sarayu?"

Could the insignificant Ghaggar, then, be the mythical Saraswati? Basing his observations on satellite imagery of the region, Kochhar tells us that the Ghaggar is important not only from the Vedic point of view but also from that of the Harappans. The Ghaggar was the lifeline of the Harappans, because out of a sample of about 1,400 Harappan sites, more than 75 per cent are situated on the banks of the Ghaggar-Hakra channel.

Hence, to learn more about India’s pre-historic age we must study "the hydrological history of the River Ghaggar. Even if it turns out that the Ghaggar was a powerful river in 2000 BC, it would not automatically prove that the old
Ghaggar was the Rigvedic Sarasvati, because every mighty river need not be Sarasvati. But if it turns out (as is likely) that the Ghaggar has been more or less in its present state for say 10,000 years or more, then the Ghaggar would automatically be ruled out as a candidate for identification with the Rigvedic Sarasvati."

Let us now direct our attention to the Aryans. Since they are silent about their origins and their society, we are forced to look for evidence elsewhere, and Kochhar directs us to the Parsi text Zenda Avesta. Even a casual reader will be struck by the linguistic similarity of Sanskrit and Avestan texts. It has been suggested for a long time that both the Aryans and the Avestans (Parsis) were of the original Euro-Aryan descent. Here one might argue that is it not possible that the Aryans and the Avestan peoples were originally from India and migrated westwards later? This is quite impossible because India does not figure in the Avestan and Pahlavi literature; it is safe to conclude that "India could not have been the original home of the Avestan people. Secondly, the Avestan people do not exhibit any cultural layer preceding the Aryan. This shows that as in the case of the Indo-Aryans, the Aryan-ness of the ancient Iranians is intrinsic and not acquired."

The argument could go on and on, and we might still not come to a satisfactory conclusion because though we have rich Vedic literature, we have nothing material to prove the existence of the original inhabitants of India, especially of the Aryans. One scholar, Prof S.R. Rao, has been claiming for some time that he has deciphered the Indus valley script. He also, it appears, has excavated an underwater site in Gujarat, which is purported to be the ancient city of Dwarka. Unfortunately, Prof Rao has so far not been able to convince serious historians and archaeologists of the veracity of his discoveries.

Rajesh Kochhar’s book is a welcome addition to the ever-growing literature on the subject. He does not propose any bold new hypothesis, but does succeed in giving credence to the theory that the Aryans came to India from Central Asia. What sets his book apart from the others is the author’s command on the language, and the sheer felicity and brevity with which he writes, making his point sharply, concisely, and clearly. Research papers should be written like this. But he should have included some photographs of the archaeological sites, especially that of Mehrgarh.

Coming to the debate itself, Rajesh Kochhar has been bold enough to admit at the end that in "scientific interpretation, there is no last word."Top


Meet old lovers in new version
by Kavita Soni-Sharma

Layla and Majnu by Nizami and translated by Colin Paul Turner. Bluejay Books, New Delhi. Pages 256. Rs 295.

IN this age of short attention span where love stories often talk of love that is consummated, it is good to have a re-telling of Layla’s love for Majnu which was full of danger, had a strong element of sexual attraction and yet tried not to cross the boundaries of the legitimate. Unfortunately, society did not look at their relationship for what it was. In the end both died yearning for each other and buried in the same grave. The epitaph to their unrequited love reads: "Two lovers lie sleeping in this tomb/ United at last in death’s dark womb/ faithful in separation, true in love:/one heart, one soul in heaven above."

Majnu was a love-mad poet, Layla a celebrated desert beauty. Another poet, Nizami, was commissioned by the Caucasian ruler, Shiranshah in 1188 AD, to write their story.

What Nizami told came to be one of the most famous love stories of all times. It continues to evoke the imagination of people in love all over the world and tells them of the dangers they might be letting themselves into.

Nizami’s tale brings forth the lightness of heart that falling in love can bring. The sheer thrill of being in love, the sorrow of separation, the stabbing pain of doubt and jealousy, and the bitterness and grief that come with loss or apprehensions thereof. He maps the world of love in profound lines of poetry.

The story is briefly this. In Arabia of old there once lived a great lord who had a son born to him after years of prayers, fasting and giving alms. The boy was named Kais.

Mindful of the boy’s need for education, the Sayyid placed his son under the tutorship of a renowned scholar. Before long, Kais had outshone his peers in every subject. But then something quite unexpected happened. One day a new girl joined the class, a girl of such dazzling beauty that Kais, along with every other boy in the class, was smitten instantly. Young Kais more passionately than any of his peers. The girl’s name was Layla.

Layla, for her part, fared no better, for she too had fallen in love with Kais before she even knew what love was. A fire had been lit in the heart of both, one reflecting the other. "They drank deeply from the cup of love both night and day, and the more they drank, the deeper they became immersed in each other. Their eyes became blind and their ears became deaf to the school and the world beyond the classroom. Both Kais and Layla had lost themselves... and found each other."

Soon the word spread around and for Layla’s people, the entire situation became intolerable. Not only Layla’s honour, but also the honour of her whole tribe was at stake. They put a ban on her leaving home.

In the absence of Layla, Kais lost all interest in life and those around him. Friends, parents, relatives all found that Kais had cut himself away from them. If Layla wept in private, Kais displayed his sorrow for all the world to see.

The longer his suffering lasted, the more he became what people were already calling him: Majnu, the mad one. In his separation from Layla he began composing the most beautiful odes and sonnets in her name.

Quite unable to witness the plight of his son, Kais’s father approached Layla’s father for her hand in marriage. But Layla’s father had no desire to have his daughter married to a mad man, whatever his love for the daughter.

On the advise of relatives Kais’s father decided to take Kais to Mecca to seek God’s help and forgiveness. But Kais hammered on the doors of the Kaaba and beseeched God to let his love for Layla grow. "Love is all I have, all I am, and all I ever want to be." Such mad love was even beyond the arbitrating skills of God.

Kais now retired into the desert wastes of Najf to be alone in his grief. But people from far away came to visit him regularly to hear him recite his verses. Layla too was one of those who heard Kais’s verses and promptly committed them to memory. She also began to compose her responses in ornate rosaries of verse, put them on bits of parchment and cast them into the wind. These bits of parchment found their way to Majnu. The two lovers continued to be in touch even when they were separated.

In the meanwhile Layla’s father married her off to Ibn Salaam, a man of considerable renown and wealth. But Layla continued to pine for her true love. Ibn Salaam too could not find any pleasure in his beautiful wife. "To her husband, Layla was a jewel of unparalleled beauty; to Layla, her husband was a venomous serpent coiled around her." Thus both he and she suffered. He in his love for her and she in her desire to be with Majnu.

In the desert wild animals took to the reclusive Majnu. He had come in peace and love, and this they recognised immediately even though other humans had much difficulty in understanding Majnu’s love. Gradually in the company of Majnu even wild animals lost their lust for blood and urge to kill. The wolf no longer tormented the lamb, the large cat lost its appetite for the gazelle, the lioness suckled the lost fawn.

Ibn Salaam never forced himself on Layla and continued to remain grateful to her for whatever little that she chose to do for him. Eventually he died. Layla was now free to weep. Others thought she was mourning for Ibn Salaam. She knew that the tears were for her true love. Yet fate did not want the lovers to meet. Layla died consumed by a fever. Unable to live without Layla, Majnu too died.

Such a haunting tale has been well told once again. Even the publishers have made an effort to match the design of the book with its content.

The cover of the book is red, for passion, with an iron heart, which was required of the lovers in the face of adversity. The language of the original tale may be that of the 12th century Persia but Collins has brought his skills as a scholar of Persian to bear on this translation and makes it very rewarding for the present-day reader.Top


Love and simple labour a cure-all for ageing
by P.D. Shastri

Ageless Body. Timeless Mind — A Practical Alternative to Growing Old by Deepak Chopra. Rupa, New Delhi. Pages 342. 10.99.

THE title cover says, "By the best-selling author of Perfect Health" (his previous book). Time magazine chose him as one of its 100 heroes and icons of the 20th century. Recently he was having rather a bad press on account of his "connection" with a prostitute — it is all blackmail, he pleads, because he is indescribably rich.

It is taken for granted that everyone must wear out, grow old, fall sick and die. People grow old and die because they see others grow old and die. We cannot escape the ravages of time.

The author strikes the opposite note. He says our body is ageless, our mind is timeless. The accepted way of viewing the physical world is false. Our bodies are composed of energy and information; 99 per cent of this energy is untouched by ageing. We are slaves of the old ideology which is false.

A correct mindset and right awareness are the way out. We are trapped in traditional, old conditioning. His advice is to discard old notions.

The central idea is: people don’t grow old; when they stop growing, they become old. Impulses of intelligence create our body anew every second. Whatever is rigid and non-adjusting withers away and dies. A person of awareness says, "Iintend to experience more energy, more alertness and more youthful enthusiasm." So, the brain calls for fresh experience, new mindset, new ideas from journals and books, novelty and freshness. The body must live on the wings of change.

After 50, we feel it is time to grow old and die. Growing old happens in the mind; reshaping of the ageing process is within our control. Scientists could possess control over the switch; controlling immortal cells. Growing old and dying offer escape from unfulfilling life. The old adage is: a man is as old as he feels and a woman as old as she looks.

The emotional age may not be the same as the calendar age. Some old folks look and feel young. Some young men look prematurely old.

Our tissues, the author says, could easily last for 115 to 130 years.

We have firm delusions caused by centuries of delusions. We could create the physiology of eternity. The author quotes the results of hundreds of scientific studies the world over on how to postpone old age and achieve longevity.

He seems to be nearer to the spiritual outlook of ancient Hindu seers and sages. For instance, he says the body and mind are not separate but one. There is no objective world outside the observer.

Einstein said physical body like all material objects is an illusion. He burst the bubble of spacetime as illusion. Newton too maintained that gravity and all other forces were thoughts in the mind of God.

The unseen world is real. To us all things appear to be real. There is no proof of their reality. The outward world, perceived through the five senses is not the reality. The accepted way of viewing the physical world is false.

Despite the appearance of our being separate individuals, we are all connected to the supreme intelligence governing the cosmos. (Vedanta says countless men are different shapes of one God. We are all one.) The writer refers to doing selfless good to others, with detachment in the true Gita style.

In fact the writer’s whole philosophy seems to echo Vedanta philosophy, India’s greatest gift to the world thought. Sankaracharya (788-820AD) epitomises Vedanta thus:"Itell you in half a verse that has been propounded in crores of books. God is the only reality; the world is false (like pictures seen in dreams that seem real at that time) and man is no other than God."

It was said that the ancient guru and his gospel seemed to pump power, purpose of life, bliss and a new outlook on life into his disciple. Some of the inspiring ideas in this book seem to do something similar.

The author casually quotes Sankaracharya and Swami Rama. He quotes the Rig Veda to say, "You defeat the withering of death."

Ancient India knew the secrets of eternity. Our sages Vishwamitra and Vashishtha were almost everlasting. Vishwamitra was present at Raja Harishchandra’s time in Sat Yuga (golden age) and also at the court of Rama in Treta Yuga. In the Mahabharata time, Bhishma Pitamaha was the vigorous commander of the Kaurava armies at the age of 170.

Of course, our author depends mostly on modern scientific researches on longevity.

We humans are no ordinary creation. In the four trillion cells in our body, six trillion reactions are taking place every second. Our skin replaces itself in a month and the skeleton every three months; all is ever in a flux. We can create our awareness to create the body which we want.

The new-born baby’s 50 trillion cells give it immunity; it is as limpid as a rain drop without a trace of toxic debris.

A bout of depression can wreak havoc on our immune system. Falling in love boosts it. Some are always occupied with the fear of death. They invite it. Love your life; it is meaningful. Feel that we have achieved major goals, that is optimism.

Other positive factors that promote youth and health are the habit of ready laughter (it works wonders); doing anything physical is better than remaining inactive; also helpful are gladness of heart, nutritious food and deep sleep. The negative factors are smoking (it causes heart trouble), malnutrition, drugs, worrying, loneliness, job dissatisfaction, financial worries and pessimism. Anxiety blocks memory; old persons talk of memory lapse.

If you can’t get what you think is the best for you, firmly hold to what you have got as the best for you.

There are 25 tribal societies in which cancer, heart trouble and other modern diseases are unknown.

What do the long-living persons consume? Milk, cheese and other dairy products like curd, green vegetables (raw or boiled, not fried)and fresh fruits. What should we avoid? Smoking, drinking, heavy eating, fast foods and artificial items. They love plenty of fresh air, outdoor life — sunlight, pure water and positive loving emotions.

Seventy per cent of the long-living are moderately rich; 80 per cent of the short-living are poor; 95 per cent of the long-lived were married; 80 per cent of them women (a housewife never retires, she works till the end); 75 per cent of them were widows.

Quality of medical aid and medicines, unadulterated foodstuff and disease-free water also make a difference. In America, in 1900, the average age was 49 years; today it is 70 or 80 despite so many negative factors. One man out of 10,000 is a centenarian.

He who gives up physical activity and work invites disease, worries and death. Work, work, work. Nature fills the vacuum of empty time with worries, diseases and death. Take pleasure in common daily activities.

Abkasia, a remote mountain region in Russia, is famous for its old persons. It is said to have five times more centenarians than the combined score of the rest of the world. They have a word for the living great-great-great-grandparents. They live in the invigorating climate of the Caucasus mountain and lead a simple strenuous lives. A man aged 117 easily climbed a steep mountain daily to reach his farm, on which he worked. An American doctor took the blood pressure of a 106-year-old; it was 120-84.

The author mentions a Japanese named Isimi; he died at the age of 120 years and 237 days. He was born in the year when Lincoln was assassinated. Many others, claiming a long life did not have authentic birth certificates. The communists when in power, burnt church documents, including baptismal certificates.

The writer preaches the gospel of love. No one is too old to love or be loved. All prophets were great lovers of humanity. Gandhi said he represented love in every fibre of his being. Replace the killing sensations of hate, jealousy, worry and anxiety with love. Think of love. Write love poems in praise of the imaginary beloved (as poets do) though these need not be posted or published. The actors who make love on the stage or screen feel heaven on earth.

Use love as the mirror of the timeless. God is love, said Christ.

The last words of the book are: Come out of the circle of time; get into the circle of love.