Sunday, June 25,
What constitutes race,
by Rumina Sethi
Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities by Etienne
Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein. Verso, London.
Pages 232. £ 10.95.
IT is not often that two
authors who disagree quite vehemently with the
premises of each other produce, by collaboration,
and inspired and remarkable piece of criticism.
Etienne Balibar, a French philosopher, and an
American sociologist, Immenuel Wallerstein,
together address the ambiguous nature of
nationalism, racism and class-consciousness and
its contemporary ramifications despite their
academic divergences. "Race, Nation,
Class" attempts to raise questions about the
fundamental issue of the growing nature of
nationalism, and seeks a reconciliation between
class division and the creation of a nation-state
under the auspices of the influential work done
by Louis Althusser and Fernand Braudel.
Racism manifests itself
in various forms and disguises. The need for
purification, the desire to prevent interbreeding
or invasion, or simply the effort to preserve a
culture-specific identity exhibits itself as a
"true social phenomenon" (Balibar)
resulting in the oft-discussed polarity of
"self" and the "other". A
combination of essentialist practices, discourses
and representations, in other words, forms a
racist community among whom there exists a bond
of "imitation" across distances. Those
who do not find themselves part of this large
clique become, in turn, the victims of the
community of racists.
How far from
racism are the claims of nationalsim? The
discourses of racism and nationalism, says
Balibar, are never far apart. In terms of
meaning, racism would be the excess of national
zeal. In other words, while nationalism implies
"normal" ideology and politics, racism
would amount to an inflation of that very
sentiment. In fact, civic spirit, patriotism,
populism, ethnicism, ethnocentrism, xenophobia,
chauvinism, imperialism and jingoism are terms
whose meaning can never be unequivocally fixed.
Indian national struggle, for instance, both
Hindu revivalism, as witnessed in the early
decades of the national movement, and the
proponents of nationalism had common cause in
resisting imperialism. By the late 1920s,
however, there was a discernible turn towards
strengthening Hindu interests which arose mainly
as a reaction to a sense of growing insecurity
among Hindu resulting from Gandhis
even-handed policy towards the minorities, and
the attempts of the British to woo Muslims
The emphasis on
the "purity" of an
"emasculated" Hindu race, and its
capacity to maintain its identity, thus, became
an important force in generating nationalism
despite obvious differences, the revival of Hindu
cultural tradition corresponded, to a large
extent, with Gandhis nationalism.
The emphasis on
the Orientalist opposition between the spiritual,
traditional East and the materialist, modern West
was shared both by Gandhi and the revivalists.
The consequent need for spiritual revolution and
personal regeneration was also common to both
sides, especially in the conflict with socialism
and the issues of class-conflict. The difference,
however, lay in their response to the ideal of
"unity in diversity". While the Hindu
revivalists emphasised the absorptive nature of
Hinduism, and the forcible eviction of the
threatening dissenters, Gandhi treated unity in
terms of a single God who was not
right, thus, in maintaining that "the notion
of the nationalism is constantly dividing"
there is "one which tends to construct a
state or a community and the one which tends to
subjugate, to destroy; the one which refers to
right and the one which refers to might".
Essentially, then nationalism and racism would be
distinguished within an understanding of the
different aporias of "dying for ones
fatherland" and "killing for ones
country". The proliferation of neighbouring
terms is merely an exteriorisation of this split.
racism makes for a "super-nationalism"
exemplified in the panic development of
nationalism. Pan-Slavism. pan-Germanism,
pan-Turanianism, pan-Arabism. pan-Americanism are
signifiers of purism" which overtly expel
the false, "exogenous",
"cross-bred", or the
"cosmopolitan" elements. Purism in
language, religion, or the past becomes an
eternal and visible badge characterising a
Indeed, to speak
a foreign language introduces artifice in speech
and results in contamination of the very idea of
nationalism. Fichte always believed that the
French, who were originally Teutons, abandoned
German for a neo-Latin idiom, and so lost a
living language. Original, primitive languages,
asserted Fichate, were superior to composite,
derived languages which suffer from
impoverishment, being indebted to a culture that
is foreign and unstimulating. It follows that
German is an unalloyed and pure language in
contrast to the derivative French and English
of an authentic culture ordered through a
tactical interpretation of tradition, however,
recreates an elitism, whereas the aim of
nationalism is to found populism. In an inverted
fashion, racism, in fact, destabilises the
historical nation in attempting to seek the
"core" of authenticity. This can often
lead to the fabrication of Nietzschean
Uberemnsch or the "higher man",
misinterpreted as a belief in Nazi eugenics.
In a similar
manner, Wallerstein dismantles the categories of
race, nation and ethnic groups, believing them to
issue from a pliant an flexible past. Wallerstein
suggests, for the first time, the presence of an
agency in the prevailing political milieu which
is instrumental in shaping tradition, generally
taken as a fixed-referent. While tradition is an
identifiable repository of past culture, in
actual fact, its alleged qualities of uniformity
and homogeneity are very interpreted by the very
exponents of tradition in changing political
consciousness of nationalist sentiment thus rests
very strongly on the capacity of the
intelligentsia to provoke the people into belief.
links this agency to the genesis of races
(genetically continuous groups), nations
(historical socio-political groups) and ethnic
groups which he locates in the historical
structure of the capitalist world economy that
creates core-periphery antionomies.
Where the two
authors strongly disagree is the participation of
the ordinary people in nationalistic schemes.
While Balibar allocates excessive significance to
the willingness of the masses in accepting the
premises of a dominant ideology, Wallerstein
questions the role of the minority of the elites,
whom he calls "cadres", in fashioning
this ideology in the first place. He argues that
the motives of the cadres and those of the mass
of population are more or less obverse of each
other in the realisation of the hypocrisy of the
coexistence of universalism and inequality,
brotherhood and material/social polarisation.
In the last
sections of the book, the two authors trace the
relationship of racism, as a supplement of
nationalism, to the displacement of class
conflict in society. The text poses the
paradoxical and commonly debated dilemmas of
nationalism and class: whether the nationalistic
unity of an imagined community runs up against
the formation of classes, or whether it is class
struggle that leads to the formation of
But nowhere have
Balibar and Wallerstein dismantled the notion of
false consciousness, commonly accepted as the
nirvana of the masses, and believed to spin out
of any dominating ideology at work. How do
religious attitudes or an appeal to the past
become potent self-definers? Is there any reality
in the nationalism or racism created by its
proponents? Is it true that any national movement
finds sustenance by establishing a link between
the past and the future? Undoubtedly, this is
implied in the idea of destiny, in a belief that
"history will not let us down", and
that no disaster is irrecoverable.
the excess of it) engenders the illusion of an
identity of interests between the government and
the governed by appealing to a sentiment akin to
what an individual feels towards his family in
order to build the impression of a motherland.
The past, then, becomes a convenient tool for a
like future, and its attendant gods bind the
members of the nation-state into a mass of
construction of false consciousness, however,
tends to indicate that the ordinary peasant or
the subaltern does not have any active role in
terms of agency. Although it can be said that the
generalising, transcendent nature of the symbols
used by the elite is a construct, it is obviously
built on the pre-existing notions of religion,
sacrifice or workship that already exist among
There is, thus a
possibility that the participants have their own
projects, and are not subservient to nationalist
ideology in any way. The importance of creating
space for the masses, particularly, in
ideological matters, is diminished in the
projects of homogeneous nationalism deconstructed
by the two authors.
Even though they
may not be faithful representations of reality,
ethnic communities are, undoubtedly, the most
important determinant of national identity. But
there is no inevitability about the rise of
nations, races or classes from a shared language,
religion or history, an issue, again, the writers
do not focus on, for many of these shared
assumptions are presuppositions by emerging
existing social structures like the nation-state,
division of labour, and the core-periphery
dichotomy, Balibar and Wallerstein succeed in
pointing out the deeply contested and constantly
restructured nature of racism in its relation to
a capitalist world economy and class struggle.
and scent of faded villages
by Jaspal Singh
SWARN SINGH is from the
village of Bheora near Ropar. Many years ago he
went to Delhi, did his post-graduation in Punjabi
literature and became a lecturer at Guru Teg
Bahadur Khalsa College from where he recently
retired as a reader.
translated for the National Book Trust and the
Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, a few books from
Marathi into Punjabi. Mention may he made of
Kanya", "Mai" and a biography
"Namdev". His own original writing in
Punjabi consists of "Navan Challe
Theerthi", an interesting travelogue to
Pakistan (reviewed in these columns in 1990), a
biography of Sardar Bhagat Singh, two books on
rural culture of Punjab and a collection of lives
of a few freedom fighters.
In addition to
this he brings out a Punjabi fortnightly,
"Qaumi Wangaar", from Delhi. He has
written two books, "Things They Didnt
Know" and "Path of Revolution" in
English as well.
His latest book,
"Mohrhi Gaddi Pind Vasya", has appeared
which is a unique experiment in narrative
technique. It is a story of the birth of a
village, its evolution and growth over a period
of time followed by its disintegration and
dissipation amid sharp contradictions of the
epoch. The first part of the book begins with the
founding of the village a few centuries ago. Two
elderly men on horseback come to a place in
wilderness teeming with big and small wild
animals and birds. The men cut a big bough off a
tree and plant it in a plain tract of the land.
Then they go on their horses to take possession
of the wild land around which they planted
markers, thus setting out the borders (juh) of
the village. This done, they bring their kith and
kin and their clansmen to settle there; reclaim a
part of the land for cultivation and reserve a
larger wild part for grazing their cattle.
Houses are built
with mud, reed and wood and a veritable village
throbbing with life is raised in the midst of
The author has
introduced a perennial character in the form of
Ajnabi (literally a stranger) who watches things
taking shape, changing and disappearing as time
passes. This central character moves both in time
and space, recording and narrating the movement
of things and phenomena.
The stranger too
is interested in setting up a village for his
people and for this purpose, he visits a few
villages to see for himself the unfolding of life
social, economic, religious and cultural.
He visits different villages and recounts his
impressions of life in its various
manifestations, particularly the variegated
colours of the cultural life of people. On
fullmoon nights the girls perform
"giddha". Its powerful beats evoke
strange feelings among the boys of the village.
When in the rainy season girls on the swings sing
melodious songs with a vibrating lilt, boys at a
distance go ecstatic and spontaneously break into
dance bhangra to the beat of a drum.
The songs would
go like this: "Tian nu bhejin maye veer nu
ni, auga nadian cheer ke..." send my
brother, O mother, in the days of
"tian" (a rainy season festival),
hell reach crossing rivers on the
way. The mother responds: "Keekan
bhejan dhie veer nu ni, nadian ne malle sare
rah" (How should I send your brother, O dear
daughter, all the rivers are swollen).
records folk beliefs, superstitions, marriage
rituals, customs and ceremonies and folk songs
associated with them. The village was home to
people of all castes and professions and thus all
basic needs of the village were taken care of.
The author details the fate of a
"ragi", Bhai Bishan Singh, who was
highly respected and even worshipped by the
people as a selfless reciter of the Gurbani. But
in course of time he became very greedy,
demanding a heavy fee for recitation. He had now
totally commercialised his work and would sing
only in the houses of the rich and the powerful.
He built an
imposing house on the western side of the village
where a "choe" (rainy season drain)
flowed. Once during heavy rains the
"choe" was in spate and it washed away
the house of Bishan Singh, leaving no trace of
it. The ill-gotten wealth went the way it had
the village school was only a pastime. As soon as
the children were a little older and fit to work
in the fields, they were withdrawn from the
school and sent to farms along with their elders
or they would start herding cattle in the
pastures. Most of the village children never
entered the school. There were no fixed timings
for the school. Whenever the teacher came, he
would start the class and it was closed when he
decided to leave. As soon as the teacher
announced the closure of the school, the students
ran in all directions as if they were prisoners
suddenly freed from jail.
sessions of girls at night ("trinjan")
used to be an important cultural event in the
days of yore. Women would spin on the wheels till
past midnight. They would sing songs of
separation, pining for their departed lovers. The
intimate friendship of the "sisters of the
spinning wheel" had its own passionate
In a few years
all the girls would get married and the group
would never spin together again. That is why the
song, "Jehrha pani ajj patno langhda, oh
pher no aunda bhalke/Berhi da puur, trinjan dian
kurhian pher no baithan ral ke" (As the same
water does not flow again in a river and as the
same passengers shall not ride the same boat
again, the same girls shall not spin together in
There is an
interesting portrait of Namberdar Ishar Singh who
was a man of immense authority and dignity and
all villagers held him in high esteem and awe.
Most of the disputes in the village were settled
by him. Once a widow named Shehro was presented
before him for leading an adulterous life. She
had given birth to an illegitimate child. Her
husbands cousin filed a "suit"
against her in the "court" of Ishar
He called the
woman to his presence in full view of the village
folks. "Who sired this baby?" he
yelled. "Santu, sir", she replied
calmly. "Why do you sleep with him?" he
thundered again. "Whom should I then sleep
with?" she asked humbly Ishar Singh fell
silent; he thought for a moment and then said,
"Your husbands cousin Sadhu has
complained against you. He is a chronic bachelor.
Why dont you start living with him?"
her veil a little and said, "One drowns only
when one cannot breathe. I was ready to live with
him. I sent him secret messages. Even now I am
asked Sadhu to come forward. But he got up with
folded hands; his legs were trembling. He
stuttered "Forgive me, Sir. Had I been
capable of maintaining woman, I would have
married long ago." Ishar Singh shouted at
him, "Had you been of any use, she
wouldnt have stepped across to the third
Then he gave his
verdict. "Hereafter she will live with
Santu, her paramour". Santu was married and
had children. He was shocked. He could hardly
look after his own family. He implored the
lamberdar to spare him of this infliction. But
Ishar Singhs verdict was irrevocable.
As a punishment
Santu was made to take care of two wives and feed
two families. What natural justice!
There are quite
a few other village characters like Bhaiji,
Chaudhari Kamraj Singh and Giani Ude Singh
imaginatively woven into the narrative and they
represent different aspects of rural culture.
seasons in the village, festivals and
celebrations and sad and bad days are brought
into focus to portray a composite picture of
village life in one of the representative
villages of Punjab in the Puad region.
face of life is also commented upon: "Chakki
chhut gai chulle ne chhut jana raaj aa gia tivian
da". (The women no longer run the quern;
theyll get rid of cooking as well, it is
the age of women.) Now the spinning wheel does
not drove any more in the village. The wells and
ponds, the great community places of yesteryears,
have disappeared. "Khuhan tobhian te
milnon reh gae, chandre lavaa lae nalke"
(Wells and ponds are no longer the meeting places
as taps carry water to every house).
vulgarisation of culture and the rampant
commercialisation of human relations in villages
have also been commented upon with anguish.
When Swarn Singh
comes to these recent drastic changes in the
village structure and sensibility, he falters a
little. He has nostalgic feelings for the life
that existed half a century ago but he fails to
understand the intricate dialectic of changes
which are so devastating in their range and
sweep. Only if he could reason out the multiple
contradictions of this post-modern age!
denied him his due
by V. N. Datta
THERE are two important points
which are essential for understanding the
developments preceding the partition of India in
1947. I must emphasise first that Thomas
Carlyles notion of great men making history
is out of date, and has long been discarded. But
there is no denying the fact that certain
individuals occupying key positions at a given
point of time considerably influence the course
of history by virtue of their foresight, tactical
skills and strength of their personality. Karl
Marx made a significant observation on the role
of individuals in history. In Marxs view,
great men cannot make history because of the
limits to possible historical changes, which are
set by the (unconsciously) impersonal economic
limitation established by class interests. Thus a
great man can only determine when change occurs
and to which he reacts in his own light.
It is difficult
to explain the Russian revolution if one takes
Marx very seriously. The Russian revolution did
not move towards Communism through developed
capitalism. Wasnt Lenin a great man in that
sense? Thus there is a clear interaction between
the individual and historical changes in
proportion to the potentiality of the forces
working separately or in tandem.
partition of India has been studied from social,
political and economic angles. It has also been
sufficiently emphasised that the British
colonialists as the ruling power, motivated by
their imperial designs and their policy of divide
and rule made the creation of Pakistan
inevitable. I fear that sufficient historical
work has not been done in this country on the
struggle for power between the Congress and the
Muslim League which adopted different strategies
in their fight to achieve their mutually
antagonistic goal. The Congress wanted freedom
and unity of India, but the Muslim League
demanded partition before independence.
rulers, forced by circumstances, devised various
constitutional plans to resolve the bitter
communal problem, and in this venture, none
played such an important, significant and
decisive role as Sir Stafford Cripps, which is
the subject of a new biographical work,
"Stafford Cripps : A Political Life" by
Simon Burgess (Gollancz, London, Pages 374, £
widely respected for his integrity, brilliance in
law and diplomatic skills. An intellectual in
politics, he was a highly principled politician
who tended to ignore short-term gains to further
his political advancement. Along with Clement
Attlee, Ernest Bevin and Herbert Morrison, he was
easily one of the pillars of the post-war Labour
Government. He played a crucial part in the
government as a force guiding the countrys
economic recovery in the post-war years.
provides a blow-by-blow account of one of the
most outstanding and influential politicians who
left a profound impact on some of the important
events of the time. The study is informed,
authentic and lucid though, of course, the author
did not have access to Cripps secret
dairies in four volumes which have recently come
Radcliffe and Sir Walter Monkton, Cripps was a
brilliant lawyer. His legal practice brought him
an annual income of £31,000 (nearly a million in
todays value). His pro-Communist sympathies
took him to the left of the Labour Party and he
helped Tribune weekly to the tune of £ 1000 a
year. In January, 1939, he was expelled from the
party for pursuing a plan for a coalition with
the Liberals. His work as Ambassador to the
Soviet Union in the early years of the war
from May, 1940, to January,1942 proved
Linked in the
public mind with the resistance of the Red Army
at the most critical time, his prestige as a
statesman soared. He entered Winston
Churchills reconstituted Cabinet in
February, 1942, as Lord Privy Seal and Leader of
the House of Commons. He was seen as a leader who
could challenge Churchills leadership. In
October, 1942, he appeared to be the only one to
question Churchills conduct of the war, and
he soon afterwards resigned at Churchills
instance to become Minister of Aircraft
Cripps became a
household name in India. We bump into him almost
at every turn of political development between
1942 and 1947 which shaped the destiny of the
country with India becoming free but spliting
into two independent countries. In its obituary
on him, The Times, London, wrote that Cripps was
completely unconcerned with rewards of office
even while convinced of his capacity to change
the course of history. In fact, the success of
Lord Mountbatten in the transfer of power was
built on Cripps ideas and leadership.
Cripps deferred both ideologically and
temperamentally. They often wrangled at Cabinet
meetings. Churchill was impatient and well known
for his abrasive manners and explosive temper,
while Cripps was reticent and cool-headed.
Churchill was a firebrand imperialist white
Cripps was fully committed to democratic ideals.
Churchill, a fat, old man, enjoyed his cigar,
champagne (other peoples too) and brandy
and lived to the age of 92.
On the other
hand, Cripps was austere, ascetic, simple in
habits, a vegetarian and a teetotaller who gave
up his smoking on the doctors advice and
died at the age of 62.
leave so soon, Churchill commented: "There
but for the grace of God, goes God". But
with his usual magnanimity, Churchill said, on
Crippss death. "He shone through life
with a remarkable indifference to material
satisfaction and worldly advantages."
As Cripps is the
key man in the solution to the Indian
constitutional problem, I shall focus on his role
in Indian political developments. Cripps
association with India went back to the early
thirties, when he acted as the constitutional
adviser to the Nizam of Hyderabad for a short
period. Because of his Left leanings he
befriended Jawaharlal Nehru through Krishna
Menon. It was with Nehru and Menon that he put
together the Filkins scheme in the summer of
victory in South-East Asia and the fall of
Singapore and Rangoon followed by the entry of
the Japanese navy into the Bay of Bengal posed a
serious threat to the security of India. The
Labour members of the War Cabinet demanded a
constitutional step that would rally the support
of the Indian parties to the British war efforts.
Roosevelt and Chiang Kai-shek also pressed the
British government to enlist Indias support
for the war through constitutional concessions
promising self-government in India. On March 9,
1942, the War Cabinet accepted an offer made by
Cripps to take his draft declaration to India and
seek cooperation of the Indians. At one stage, it
seemed there was likely to be an agreement on the
It is not clear
that Mahatma Gandhis telephonic
conversation with Nehru and Maulana Azad on April
11, 1942, which was intercepted by the British,
scuttled the Cripps plan.
I think the
Congress rejection of the Cripps offer was a
grave blunder, which cost the country dearly.
This paved the way for the Quit India movement,
which proved a disaster for the unity of the
rejected the Cripps offer, believing that the
British were going to lose the war. Being a
staunch pacifist,Gandhi was determined to keep
the country out of the war. He lost himself in
the tangle of inconsistencies which baffled some
of his close associates.
prison diary which is often neglected by
historians shows clearly how he and Maulana Azad
felt that the Mahatma was wrong on some crucial
issues. His Quit India movement left the field
open for the Muslim League to consolidate itself
while the Congress leaders were in jail for more
than three years.
mission broke down with the Congress insisting
that the Viceroy be made the constitutional head
which was dismissed as impossible by the British
in the midst of the war.
This work also
deals with the role of Cripps during 1946. The
Labour Government was in power then and there was
no Churchill in the Cabinet to scutle the
proposals for Indias constitutional
advancement. Thus Cripps had a decisive voice. He
was in a tearing hurry and would not give in. He
evolved various formulas to solve Indias
constitutional problem. In fact, he provided the
key to the settlement of the Indian problem. But
it is a different matter whether the settlement
he thought of was the best or the worst way of
doing things. Some say that he was hasty and
others believe that he was not firm in dealing
with big issues. There is no denying the fact
that he played the role of constructive
statesmanship, for which India needs to be
grateful for all time to come.
Womens lib, Indian style
by Kavita Soni-Sharma
Remedies by Shashi Desphande. Viking, New Delhi.
Pages 320. Rs 395.
THIS book is about women
in search of their identities who dare to live
their dreams and fulfil their ambitions. The
narrator of the novel, Madhu, begins with the
presumption that what is gone is lost forever.
Time moves on relentlessly and you have to go
along with it. The basic premise of life is the
philosophy of duality life and death,
light and darkness, sorrow and happiness. One
cannot get one and escape the other.
The Ganeshas in
niches, the decorated thresholds, the mango leaf torans,
the "Oms", the
"Swastik" as charms and amulets, are
all devices to keep disaster at bay. They
dont really help. These are only
"small remedies to counter the terrible
disease of being human, of being mortal and
grieving the loss of her only child, Aditya, who
is killed in a senseless act of communal
violence. The process of coming to terms with his
death teaches her that there is little point in
wishing for amnesia to wipe out painful memories,
for as long as there are memories, there is
always the lurking possibility of retrieval and
the loss is never total.
As the story
unfolds, Madhu travels back and forth in time,
drawing out, reminiscing and retelling the
stories of Savitribai Indorekar and Leela
two women of remarkably independent spirit, who
gave up their conventional, tradition-bound
families to seek fulfillment in public life. It
is the story of these two women which forms the
core of "Small Remedies". Madhus
own story is partly interwoven around the lives
of these two women.
doyen of Hindustani music, belongs to the Gwalior
gharana. Madhus personal association with
her is brief and dates back to her childhood
years in Neemgaon, when she knew her as her
friend Munnis mother. The locals then
derogatively reffered to her as "the singer
woman". Now Madhu comes as a bereaved mother
to Bhavanipur, where Bai had taken up residence
to be close to her mentor, Kashinath Buwa, to
take on the work of writing the Bals
As a young woman
Savitribai had lived a shattered life as the
daughter-in-law of an affluent Brahmin family.
But she abandons her husband and child and moves
out of her class in search of her destiny as a
singer. What makes her life even more
controversial is that this married Hindu woman
elopes with her Muslim lover and accompanist
Ghulam Saab. The two have a child out of their
adulterous affair, Munni.
turns her back on her parents in a desperate
desire to conform as she has a difficult time
growing up in a society which is not very
understanding. She wants respectability and
therefore she rejects everything associated with
her mother music, genius, ambition and
freedom. She chooses an ordinary life as Shailaja
Joshi, the result of Munni beating herself into
shape with savage determination a long way
from the uninhibited and impulsive girl she used
Madhus aunt, was also a rebel who rejected
the conventions of her times. Herself a Hindu
widow, she remarries a Christain widower with two
children only for love. A love so
passionate it transforms not only their lives but
also the lives of those close to them. She was a
firm believer in the communist ideology, a
dedicated party worker who worked among factory
workers of Bombay and was also part of the
resistance to the emergency. She breaks out of
conventions of widowhood and reaches out from her
small room in a crowded chawl among the cotton
mills to the world, looking for justice for the
weak and the oppressed.
Leela was a
woman who lived entirely in the present, she
never clung to the past, never dreamt of a bright
future. She does secure for herself the measure
of freedom she needed but that was after she
earned it by working for it. She wholly accepted
the consequences of her actions. When she married
Joe, she knew she had taken on the problem of
Paula her hostile step-daughter. She never
complained. In her work too though she never
reached the top of the hierarchy, while men who
had worked under her got there, she never
Savitribai protest about the problems she had to
face in her professional life even though she
knew how difficult it was for a woman to reach
the top and the obstacles they faced on their
way. The two women simply accepted the barriers
of the roads they had chosen and overcame them.
story is very touching. Her mother dies in her
infancy and she is brought up by her father and
their man servant Babu. After her fathers
death Leela and Joe take her in and make her part
of their lives. But it was not a proper family
the kind of family little girls evoke in their
"house" games. Joe and Leela were a
couple, but they were not father and mother.
Paula draws a line around Joe and herself while
her brother Tony is elusive.
The book ends on
a note of hope with Hasina, Bais Muslim
student as well as her companion, performing at
the local temple in Bhavanipur despite communal
opposition. The event goes off peacefully.
It is an
interesting work of fiction. Shashi Deshpande
deals with an array of human emotions with
sensitivity and subtlety. She talks of feminism
and gender discrimination without making the text
seem contextualised. Her style of writing is
simple and she effectively explores identity,
gender and violence in "Small
Remedies". It is by turns a gentle and
moving novel, defintely worth reading.
English scholars Vedic
by P.D. Shastri
Upanishadds by Valerie Roebuck. Penguin Books,
New Delhi. Pages 503. Rs 395.
THE writer, a British
lady, has brought out an English translation of
13 principal upanishads in a 503- page work. She
deserves credit for it. The upanishads are some
200 in number; out of them 11, on which
Sankaracharya (788-820 A.D.) wrote his famous
commentary, are regarded as the chief upanishads.
She has added two more to that list
namely, Kaushitiki and Maitra upanishads.
Radhakrishanans famous work "The
Principal Upanishads" deal with 47
upanishads. There are any number of commentaries
on the upanishads by reputed scholars of the East
and the West (the bibliography mentions over 27
such works). So our author had the advantage of
several standard translations.
are the highest works of philosophy, dealing with
such fundamental questions as the purpose of
human life, the mysteries of life and death, the
hereafter that unknown country from where
no traveller returnsthe nature of this
universe and from where it has originated and
where will go, the problem of both of good and
evil, reincarnation and a dozen other topics to
which a thinking person seeks out an answer in
his moments of higher throught and spiritual
have been recognised as Indias greatest and
unique gift to man. Man is a rational animal,
said Aristotle. A person why does not think (of
higher value, moral ideals and purpose of life
and the divinity of human personality) is no
better than an animal.
Says our writer:
"In the past two centuries, they (the
upanishads) have begun to influence religious and
philosophical thought outside Asian cultural
areas. Perhaps at least half the people in the
world have been affected by the ideas of the
upanishads." The pre-Buddhist upanishads had
a marked influence in shaping Buddhist thoughts.
The author calls them the worlds most
influential creative works. The Vedas are set in
rural society, the upanishads in one that was
weakening of the hold of God and religion on the
minds of the people, the world has taken to
violence, immorality all for money by fair
means or foul. The new trade in kidnapping for
ransom and extortions and dozens of other evils
have proliferated. People find the present world
Science goes on
making discoveries and inventions without
bothering whether they would do good or harm to
humanity. They split the atom and the dark
prophets warn us that an atomic war would spell
the end of the human race.
as also the teachings of prophets like the
Buddha, Christ, Muhammad, Guru Nanak Dev and
their tribe, bring hope and happiness to
humanity. Countless temples, churches, mosques
and gurdwaras, and the large crowds that throng
them, proclaim the glory of spiritualism and
higher and nobler values of life.
philosophy of the upanishads makes angels of
human beings, rid them of fear of death and help
them lead a life of equipoise, nobility,
happiness and peace.
starts with "Ishavasya Upanishad" (it
belongs to the Yajur Veda). Its first mantra,
which is supposed to be the epitome of the entire
Hindu philosophy, she translated thus: "All
this everything that moves in this moving
world/Must be pervaded by the lord/Enjoy what has
been abandoned/Do not covet anyones
everything. All belongs to God, nothing belongs
to you, not even your body. "Enjoy what has
been abandoned" live on food that has been
freely given to you". Dr
Radhakrishnans translation seems more to
the point. "Find your enjoyment in
renunciation (tyaga) by sharing what you
have with others."
Some other mantras
are: "You must seek to live a hundred years
just doing wok (karma) here."
of karma (work) is stressed. "Never
be workless; else nature would fill the vacuum
with disease, worry and fear." Those worlds,
covered with blind darkness are sunless by name.
"There go people who are self-slayers.
Self-slayers kill their soul by evil deeds. They
who workshop ignorance/ enter blind darkness/They
who delight in knowledge/enter darkness, yet
worship ignorance go to hell. Those who worship
godless knowledge without action, go into dark
of truth is concealed by a vessel made of gold.
wealth makes us forget God or truth. Agni, led us
on a god road to prosperity."
The last three mantras
are the prayer of the dying man to the (funeral)
fire to lead him to God.
are used by the Hindus in their funeral rites.
Next our author
takes the Briharanaka Upanishad. Rishi Yagyavalka
is the teacher. It is the longest upanishad. Just
for a taste.
two wives Maitreyi (highly spiritual) and
Katyayini (wordly woman). Yagyavalkya told
Maitraiyi: "I am about to go forth from this
state. I want to settle my property between you
and Katyayini." Maitreyi said, "If I
had the whole earth filled with riches, would I
life would be as the life of the wealthy".
"Blessed one, teach me what you know."
"Yagyavalkya came to Raja Janak. The king
got down from his throne and said "teach
Janaka offered a
sacrifice with munificent gifts for the priests.
He gifted 1000 cows with 10 gold pieces attached
to the horns of each. These he would give to
anyone who taught him secrets of self (atma),
Brahma, etc. Yagyavalkya asked his pupil
Shamasravas to drive these cows to his hermitage.
Other priests loudly objected. In the debate that
followed, Yagyavalkya came on top.
This shows the
value attached to spiritual learnings.
"Gods, men and demons spoke to their father
Prajapati. Teach us father". He just
spoke the enigmatic word DA. What do you
understand? The gods said, da means dama
or self control. Human beings said, da means daan
or charity. The demons said, da means daya
- compassion. Each class puts his own
interpretation on the Gurus teaching.
upanishad belongs to the Rigveda. God created the
deities. They were afflicted with hunger and
thirst. "Find us a place (body) where we can
settle and eat food." God showed them a cow
or a horse, etc. At least he showed them the body
of man. They were happy.
Lesson: man is
the best of all creations.
upanishad belongs to the Atharva Veda. The
seekers ask six questions and answers are given
by Rishi Pipllada. The first question is: from
where are all these creations born? The second:
how many gods maintain the creation? The third:
from where is the breath born? Still another
mandukya upanishad is assigned to Atharva Veda.
They say this alone is enough to secure
salvation. Shankaras guru Gaudapada also
wrote a commentary on it.
A very important
upanishad is Katha upanishad (related to the
Yajur Veda). Vajasravas offered his all in
charity, including 100 cows. His son Nachiketas
said, "These cows have no milk; they can
neither eat grass nor drink water; they will be a
terrible trouble to the recepients. Offer
something worthwhile, myself, for instance."
The father in
anger said, "I offer you to Yama (god of
The boy went to
the abode of Yama. Yama came home after three
days and offered to answer three questions, one
for each day of waiting.
First: When I
return home, my father should receive me with the
old love. Granted.
Second: How to
go on the path to the heaven. "The
sacrificial fire will be named Nachiketas fire,
after your name."
Third: Teach me
the mysteries of recurrent births and deaths.
Yama tried to entice him with the gifts of
limitless wealth, kingdom, loveliest women and
other allurements. The boy stuck to his guns. Who
could explain the mystery of death better than
the God of death himself? Yama had to give that
most secret knowledge.
It is the body
that does the good and evil deeds, not the soul.
The body is cremated and finished; it is the soul
that wears new bodies (births). Why so? This
Upanishad gives the answer. "Know the self
as a chariot owner/the body is the chariot."
The senses are the horses; mind is the rein.
Wherever the horses and the driver pulling the
reins take the chariot, the chariot-owner finds
A word about
Mundaka upanishad (related to Atharva Veda). Mund
means to shave; the sadhus have their heads
tonsured (shaven). Shave not the hair but the
filth of the mind.
speaks of apara vidya (lower knoledge) and
para vidya (higher knowledge). In
lower knowledge he lists the Vedas and the six
Vedangas. That shows there is no dogmatism; the
mind in its adventures can arrive anywhere.
Another mantra: two birds companions and
friends / cling to the same tree/ One of them
eats a sweet berry/the other looks on without
eating (self and Ishwara).
A word about the
writers excepted (12th)
upanishadMaitri Upanishad. This being a
later upanishad speaks of the new gods of the
trinity Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesha. The vedic
gods Mitras, Varuna, etc are
departing and soon new gods (the present ones)
would take their place.
of past and present: analysing
by Randeep Wadehra
Sheets: Contents, Analysis and interpretation ,
by Hemant Dani Vision Books, New Delhi. pages
224. Rs 145
ONCE upon a time,
book-keeping was considered a secret art. There
were specialised castes that were considered
competent to maintain accounts. Known as Munshis
or Munims, they kept accounts in the single entry
system. The language used was so codified that
only they could understand the meaning of entries
made in ledgers. "Lande" was the script
used in Punjab by the book-keepers. An outsider
would never be able to decipher the jargon.
transformed beyond belief since then. If secrecy
was the hallmark of the Lalajis vahi
khata, today commercial houses go out their
way to publicise their final accounts through the
media. The double entry system has replaced the
single-entry accounting practice. Language has
become alluringly simple. Alluringly, because now
tycoons are eager to reach out to the common man,
who not only decides the fate of his product in
the market, but also his companys standing
in bourses. Therefore, blance-sheets and related
statements are published in newspapers, often
with special emphasis on the the
organisations financial achievements.
But how would
the uninitated know that he is not being taken
for a ride? What is an asset and how does one
interpret the existence of tangible and
intangible assets in the statement? How do
liabilities affect a companys financial
health? And, even if one takes a crash course in
basic accountancy, can one really understand the
data laid out in a tabulated form? These
questions become relevant when we consider that a
shares market price is determined as much
by the annual growth rate of business as by the
state of a companys assets.
This is where
Danis book comes in handy. It acquaints the
reader with the rudiments of a blance-sheet and
its uses to different groups of people and
organisations. He explains the whats, whys and
hows of raising share captial in a manner that is
strikingly simple yet effective. The meaning of
reserves and the need for having them becomes
clear after reading Chapter V.
A company raises
at least some portion of the initial capital
required to finance its undertaking from the
owners, who are, generally, faimly members. This
is done by the issue of shares of a specific
value. The law has prescribed the minimum number
of shareholders for private limited and public
limited companies sparately. This share capital
is permanent in nature and can be repaid only on
the companys dissolution. However,
individual members can buy or sell their shares
in the market.
raising share capital, a company also borrows
from banks, from the general public through
debentures and similar other instruments. In the
eyes of the law a company is an individual having
a distinct identity, and is capable of entering
into binding contracts. If you read the statement
of accounts published in various periodicals and
dailies, you will find a wide divergence in the
treatment of items of current liabilities and
may treat the instalment of long-term loan
payable within next 12 months as a current
liablity, while another accountant might lump it
along with the long-term loans and indicate the
amount repayable during the next financial year
in the footnote to the blance sheet. This
difference arises due to the experience of
individual accountants and their belief that
their is the best possible interpretation of a
interpreative techniques like ratio analysis,
cash flow statements and other instruments, one
can not only arrive at the net worth of a
company, but also make a safe prediction
regarding its future performance. This enables a
small investor to decide whether it is worth his
while buy a particular concerns stocks.
This is an
excellent book for the students os accountancy,
business management and prospective investors.
Matching Astrologically by T.M. Rao. Pustak
Mahal, Delhi Pages 142. Rs 40.
made in heaven? The answer would depend on
serveral factors, the most important being
ones belief system. Nevertheless, the
astrologer has come to play a crucial role in the
match-making process in a majority of Indian
faimlies. Earlier it used to be the family
purohit, and now it is the professional
instruments for accessing the divine will have
changed a bit. Earlier the panditji pored over
yellowing pages of the almanac, cross-referred
the horoscopes of the prospective bride and
groom, and then gave his verdict regarding the
suitability of a particular proposal. Now he gets
the requisite data, and even the verdict, with a
mere click of a mouse.
We all know that
the purohits are not infallible, and the
reliability of a computers output depends
on the quality of the data fed into it. Moreover,
those who go to the astrologer can nerver
understand the intricacies of a horoscope. Thus
Rao has broutht out this book with the specific
aim of putting in a concise form all the
essential astrological principles related to
marriage. He is himself a practicing astrologer
and has first hand knowledge of the doubts and
desires of people who have to marry their
children, especially daughters, off.
Rao has lucidly
explained the significance of the various
astrological signs, their mutual compatibility,
the types of nakshatras that are harmful,
the auspicious as well as inauspicious periods,
etc. He has also listed some measures to ward off
the evil effect of certain harmful nakshatras.
given are exhaustive and readable. The
presentation is attractive enough to hold the
attention of even a person who is skeptical about
this mumbo jumbo like yours truly.
reading this book I have started wondering
whether astrology should not be taken more
seriously as a science. Perhaps, further research
will give it a scientific outlook. However, I
commend this book as intersting and useful
reading for onluy one reason. the presentation is
done in a systmatic manner, it makes no tall
claims, and gives congent reasons for its
conclusions and the methodology adopted for
World, Globalisation and Khalsa, by Sawraj Singh.
Panjna Publications, Jalandhar. Pages 86. Rs 50.
So does the package. This marketing adage is
tellingly proved by this book. When a book is
written, the anthor normally targets a particular
readership. Some churn out pulp fiction that
delights the juvenile, others write philosophical
tomes that interest only the high brow.
Accordingly, their works are packaged, such as
the title, the coveer design, etc. One has only
to browse through a bookshop to realise this.
From a distance
you can make out whether it is a Wodehouse,
Ruskin Bond or a Khushwant Singh that is
beckoning you. One fails to understand the
compulsion of asserting ones religious
identity even when one is writing on secular
topics. For example Nirmal Singh writes on the
books back cover, "We all are proud of
Dr Sawraj Singhs genius as he has surpassed
most of the previous Sikh and punjabi scholars
and acedemicians. He has been able to bring our
Punjabi and English journalism at par with the
most advanced in the world..." No I
wont inflict this on you any further. After
all, dear reader, I need your indulgence for my
next review too.
"Dr" before the authors name
suggests a treatise on some serious matter (s).
On the other hand, the title suggests a
rhetorical tract targeting the Sikh community.
However reading through the book suggests that it
is a collection of essays on various topics
ranging from health care, international affairs,
spiritualism, religion and journolism. There is
also an article on the Khalsas role in the
hyperbole has not been let loose
indiscriminately, and some interesting points
have been raised in the book. For example, Sawraj
Singh contends that Islam is the leading rligion
of the 21st century. Coming from a Khalsa, this
is interesting. Or is it?
Hear this masterly advice
by Kuldip Kalia
Little Book on Living by J. Krishnamurti edited
by R.E. Mark Lee. Penguin Books, New Delhi. Pages
142. Rs 75.
LIVING is an art but
learning it is not easy. Once that art is learnt,
life gets a new meaning, a new spirit and new
inspiration. Thus new energy is infused so one
begins pushing his aims and objectives towards
the ultimate goal.
This little book
discusses the issues of life from a spiritual
angle and teaches us how to develop an optimistic
outlook and shows a new direction to those
seeking a better way of living. Its inspiring
dialogues help us in achieving our true
The first and
foremost advice from the learned philosopher is
to keep away from authority because "the
worship of authority destroys all
understanding". Not only this.
"Authority is evil. Authority destroys,
authority perverts, authority corrupts."
Moreover, "the follower destroys the master
as the master destroys the follower". Always
keep in mind that "direct perception frees
you from authority".
It appears harsh
and odd but one cannot ignore the basic fact of
life that once a person seeks help from others,
he virtually invites others to exploit him and as
Krishnamurti rightly points out, "By wanting
to be helped, you create that class known as
guides, masters and saviours. Thereby you create
an exploiter and then become the exploited."
So try to assess
the potential and judge your capabilities. For
knowing yourself, "You need not go to any
book, to any priest, to any psychologist.The
whole treasure is within yourself." To
Krishnamurti, "A man who plays with the
understanding of himself will perceive far more
than (one) who preaches to others." Moreover
the moment you realise what you think, it means
"you will be free of the thoughts of
compassion, and compulsion are two intrinsic
aspects of living but both are mostly used in
different contexts. Krishnamurti believes,
"compassion is not the shadow of thought but
it is light, neither yours nor
anothers." But in the same breath, he
adds: "All compulsory action is immoral.
True morality is voluntary action."
educationist and great philosopher does not find
any material difference between the
"materialist" and the
"spiritualist". According to him,
"The materialist is as the so-called
spiritualist. Both have security, one in his God,
in his beliefs and the other in many possessions.
The difference lies only in the object of their
security. Both are slaves and there is no joy of
importance of understanding, he says, "A
mind rich in understanding is not burdened by the
memory of yesterday, as it is ever renewing
itself". So try to understand life; once it
is done, it means you understand death too. That
is why, "Conquer life, you will conquer
death. Have no fear of life and you will have no
fear of death." Contrary to the general
belief, "Sorrow is not in death but in
loneliness and conflict comes when you seek
consolation, forgetfulness, explanation and
illusions." He further explains,
"Beware of explanation; for what can be
explained is not truth." Moreover,
"When all explanations have ceased, then
truth is ."
is ultimate and it is the truth that frees",
and "not your efforts to be free".
However one must realise, "Truth is a
pathless land. There is no guide, no law and no
tradition which will lead you to it but your own
constant and intelligent awareness."
Undoubtedly, "Truth is more in the process
than in the result."
Thinking of life
without a sensitive mind is something
unimaginable because, "It is intelligence
that brings order, not discipline". It is an
undeniable truth that "intelligence is the
immediate adjustment to truth in which there is
no self-analysis or self-discipline." Here
is a warning to those who believe in escapism
because. "Escapism destroys the intelligent
functioning of the mind."
transform the people and those who speak in its
favour must listen to Krishnamurti. To him
"what brings about transformation is freedom
from ideas". "Transformation is not in
the future, can never be in future, it can only
be now, from moment to moment."
depends on how you perceive "ambition"
because it acts like a double-edged weapon. It
destroys enlightenment. The philosopher has
crisply explained: "Ambition is like a
lovely rose. In the hands of a poet, it awakens
the delight of eternity. In the hands of a fool,
it is a worthless thing."
Are you an
"egoist" too?Do you know that "the
ego is an illusion". It lacks inherent
existence of its own. In fact "It is the
result of impeded or incomplete action".
Always kindle the spirit of love because,
"In the flame of love, all fear is
consumed". Regarding love life,
"Neither the beginning nor the end knows
whence it comes, for it has no beginning and no
end. Life is."It is love "that matters
in life. It is something special, not the
ordinary way to lead life." That is why
Krishnamurti says, "Love is that
extraordinary thing that takes place where there
is no me."
feel disturbed when someone flatters or insults
you because, "Flattery and insult are born
out of ignorance. Receive them both
kindly."This is the real stage when a person
gets the real lesson on living and "lack of
ecstasy in any pursuit is the essence of
"meet all things of life fully, without a
bias. The truly cultured man is free from all
laws; he acts from aloneness." The crux of
his sayings on the art of living is summed up in
these lines: "You are the world and your
relationship with another is society."
by M.L. Sharma
of Identity and Intergroup Relations in
North-East India edited by Kailash S. Aggarwal.
Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. Pages
266. Rs 350.
THE book under review is a
compilation of 15 papers presented at a seminar
held at Shimla from November 12 to 14 four years
ago. The basic purpose of the seminar was to
"develop perspectives and frameworks"
for an in-depth study, academic debate and
discussion on various issues related to tensions
in the North-East, comprising Arunachal Pradesh,
Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and
Tripura. The seminar concentrated on basic issues
like identity, ethnicity and language.
Aggarwals main contention is that the
existence of the North-East as well as the crisis
within are products of a historic system of
relationship that operates at the level of the
Indian state and the state governments, on the
one hand, and native communities and opposition
groups, on the other hand.
laments that the "mainstream India" is
not reciprocal in responding to the friendly
sentiments of the North-East Indians, who
sincerely felt that "India is theirs".
B.S. Mipun and D.K. Nayak deal with the
geographical background. They believe that the
geographical pattern of the ethnic distribution
in the North-East provides valuable clues to the
dynamics of their interaction.
In his paper,
Morning Lyngdoh observes that in Meghalaya issues
of ethnicity and identity pertain to the nature
of relationship between the Khasis and the plains
people, the so-called outsiders. The nature of
their conflict has led to the formation of
different insurgent groups.
observes that Tripura people have been reduced to
a minority. "It was a demographic tragedy by
which the indigenous people have lost their
homeland". The identity of the people of
Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya
was also under threat. No solution seems to be in
sight despite several accords.
dwells on the theme of post-colonial terrorism in
Assam, compelling people to live in constant fear
of death. Udayon Misra traces the transformation
taking place in the Assamese community and
touches upon the subject of demographic changes
which have led to substantial changes in the
status of the state.
discloses that the Naga-Kuki conflict is
primarily an elitist conflict over land and the
right to self-determination which in the case of
the Nagas implied complete secession from India
and the Kukis want total autonomy within the
framework of the Indian Constitution.
given a detailed account of the early history of
the tribal-ethnic groups the Kuki and the
Chim-Mizos. They are believed to have come out of
a big cave during the prehistoric period.
contends that the recent emergence of ethnic and
inter-group "tension" in Manipur is
caused by an institutional collapse in the
context of a stagnant economy.
Varma is most vociferous: "It is the
hypocrisy of the class that has imposed the
Indian Constitution in the name of We the
people of India and is now playing all
kinds of tricks to sneak out of its obligations.
In terms of culture the Indian state is not able
to creatively keep a balance between unity and
diversity, between self and the other." In a
telling way he says, "In North-East
geography unites and political geography divides,
history and ethno-history cross sword and put the
people at the cross roads."
The book will
prove useful to patriots, researchers and
scholars who are really interested in defusing
the tenslow and tackle the North-East problems.
behind Paks Kargil madness
is an edited chapter from the report of the
Kargil Review Committee.
THE Kargil Review
Committee had before it overwhelming evidence
that the Pakistani armed intrusion in the Kargil
sector came as a complete and total surprise to
the Indian Government, Army and intelligence
agencies as well as to the J&K State
Government and its agencies. The committee did
not come across any agency or individual who was
able clearly to assess before the event the
possibility of a large-scale Pakistani military
intrusion across the Kargil heights. What was
conceived of was the limited possibility of
infiltration and enhanced artillery exchanges in
A number of
former Army Chiefs of Staff and Directors-General
of Military Operations were near unanimous in
their opinion that a military intrusion on the
scale attempted was totally unsustainable because
of the lack of supportive infrastructure and was
militarily irrational. In the 1948, 1965 and 1971
conflicts, the Indian Army was able to dominate
the Pakistani forces on these heights. This area
has been the scene of fierce artillery exchanges
but minimal cross-LoC military activity. These
factors, together with the nature of the terrain
and extreme weather conditions in the area, had
generated an understandable Indian military
mindset about the nature and extent of the
Pakistani threat in this sector.
of 1998 as reported in various intelligence
inputs, notably the increased shelling of Kargil,
the reported increased presence of militants in
the Force Commander Northern Area (FCNA) region
and their training were assessed as indicative of
a likely high level of militant activity in
Kargil in the summer of 1999 and the consequent
possibility of increased infiltration in this
area. The Pakistani reconnaissance mission in
August, 1997, in Gharkun village was noted and a
patrol base established in Yaldor. An operation
was also planned to apprehend the infiltrators if
they returned in the summer of 1998. They
apparently did not do so.
approximation to the events of May, 1999, was a
15 Corps war game in 1993 which envisaged a
Pakistani long-range penetration group
positioning itself south of NH-1A and bringing
the Srinagar-Leh highway under fire from both
sides. Even that assessment did not visualise an
intrusion to hold ground by hundreds of Pakistan
across the LoC are not uncommon. Pakistan had in
the past intruded into the Indian side of the LoC
and the Indian Army had responded adequately.
There had, however, been no intrusion since 1990.
An attempt to capture a post or two on the LoC
was, however, anticipated as revealed in the
press briefing of the acting GOC, 15 Corps on
January 11, 1999. Even this was not the kind of
intrusion that actually took place in the
Mashkoh, Dras, Kaksar and Batalik areas.
The terrain here
is so inhospitable that the intruders could not
have survived about 4,000 metres for long without
comprehensive and sustained re-supply operations.
They were even running short of water at these
heights towards the end of the operations. Though
heavily armed, the intruders did not have rations
for more than two or three days in many forward
"sanghars". Re-supply could have taken
place only if there was no air threat and the
supply lines could not be targeted by Indian
artillery. In other words, it would appear that
the Pakistani intruders operated on the
assumption that the intrusions would be under
counter-attack for only a few days and thereafter
some sort of ceasefire would enable them to stay
on the heights and be re-supplied.
assumption would be totally unsustainable in
purely military terms. It would only be logical
on the expectation, based upon political
considerations, that Pakistan would be able to
engineer international intervention, to impose an
early ceasefire that would allow its troops to
stay in possession of the territory captured by
them. Such an assumption could not have beenmade
without close consultation with the Pakistani
political leadership at the highest level.
General Musharraf has disclosed that the
operations were discussed in November, 1998, with
the political leadership and there are
indications of discussions on two subsequent
occasions in early 1999. The tapes of
conversations between General Musharraf and
Lieutenant-General Aziz, Chief of General Staff,
also revealed their expectation of early
international intervention the likelihood of a
ceasefire and the knowledge and support of the
Pakistani Foreign Office.
such an expectation was unreal. The Pakistani
estabilishment has a long and consistent history
of misreading Indias will and world
opinion. In 1947, it did not anticipate the swift
Indian military intervention in Kashmir when it
planned its raid with a mix of army personnel,
ex-servicemen and tribals under the command of
Major General Akbar Khan. In 1965, it took
Zulfikar Ali Bhuttos advice that India
would not cross the international border to deal
with Pakistans offensive in the Akhnur
sector. In 1971, it developed high but totally
unwarranted expectations about the likelihood of
US-Chinese intervention on its behalf. The same
pattern of behaviour was evident this time too.
This is presumably the price the Pakistani
leadership has paid for its inability to come to
terms with the military realities. It has
obviously been a victim of its own propaganda.
It is evident
from Pakistani pronouncements and the writings of
those with access to the highest decision-making
levels, that at least from 1987 onwards, when Dr
A.Q. Khan conveyed a nuclear threat to India in
an interview to an Indian journalist, Pakistan
was convinced that its nuclear weapons capability
would deter Indias superior conventional
forces. Written accounts of foreign observers
have highlighted that since 1980, the Pakistani
military establishment had entertained ideas of
deterring Indian nuclear and conventional
capabilities with its nuclear weapons and of
carrying out a brash, bold strike to liberate
Kashmir which would go unchallenged if the Indian
leadership was weak or indecisive.
Indian Chiefs of Army Staff and Directors-General
of Military Operations told the committee that
bringing to bear Indias assumed
conventional superiority was not a serious option
in last 10 years for a variety of reasons;
commitments in Sri Lanka, subsequent deployment
in Punjab, the North-East and Kashmir, and a
drastic reduction in defence outlay. Pakistani
writings over the years have highlighted the
Indian Armys involvement in
counter-insurgency in Kashmir and its perceived
degradation as an effective fighting force.
Pakistani writers agree that the "Kargil
plan" was formulated in the 1980s in the
last years of General Zia-ul-Haq. There are
different versions on whether it was sought to be
operationalised during the tenure of Benazir
Bhutto and General Jehangir Karamat, Chief of
Army Staff. General Musharrafs disclosure
that it was discussed with the political
leadership in November, 1998, soon after he
assumed office has been referred to in an earlier
paragraph. It is difficult to say whether the
initiative for this move came from the Army or
was politically driven. There was a heady
combination of circumstances and personalities.
Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister, had
successfully removed from office the President,
the Chief Justice and then Army Chief General
Karamat, in whose place he appointed General
Musharraf who superseded two others. General
Musharraf himself served in Afghanistan and had
ties with Osama bin Laden and other extremists.
He is a Mohajir and an ambitious, hard driving
man. He had served in the Northern Area for
several years and had been associated with the
crackdown on the Shias. He had commanded the
Special Services Group (SSG) which launched an
attack on Bilafond La in Siachen but was
newspaper columnists claim that Nawaz Sharif
thought that if he succeded in seizing a slice of
Indian territory in Kashmir, he would be hailed
as a "liberator" and thereby enabled to
gain absolute power through amendment of the
Shariah law. There is no clear evidence on the
basis of which to assess the nature and extent of
Nawaz Sharifs involvement in the Kargil
misadventure. The balance of probability suggests
that he was fully in the picture. This is borne
out by the tapes referred to earlier and the
repeated assertion of General Musharraf. Those
who know Nawaz Sharif personally believe that he
has a limited attention span and is impatient
with details. Accordingly, it is reasonable to
assume that Nawaz Sharif was at least aware of
the broad thrust of the Kargil plan when he so
warmly welcomed the Indian Prime Minister in
sections of the Indian political class and media
have been outraged at the duplicity of the
Pakistani leadership. Some argue that Nawaz
Sharif could not have been so duplicitous and
therefore tend to absolve him and lay all blame
on General Musharraf. However, having a
declaratory policy different from that actually
pursued is not unknown in international
realpolitik and diplomacy. This existentialist
divergence between the two necessitates
diplomatic interaction, continuous political
analysis, track-II diplomacy and intelligence
collection, collation and assessment.
has not come across any assessment at opertional
levels that would justify the conclusion that the
Lahore summit had caused the Indian
decison-makers to lower their guard. This has
been confirmed by the discussions the committee
had with a number of concerned officials.
Nonetheless, there was euphoria in some political
quarters, among leaders in and out of office,
though some others saw serious pitfalls in the