The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, June 25, 2000
What constitutes race, nation?
Review by Rumina Sethi
Sights and scent of faded villages
Review by Jaspal Singh
History denied him his due
Review by V. N. Datta
Women’s lib, Indian style
Review by Kavita Soni-Sharma
English scholar’s Vedic offering
Review by P.D. Shastri
Hear this masterly advice
Review by Kuldip Kalia

What constitutes race, nation?
Review by Rumina Sethi

Race, 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.

During the 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 Gandhi’s even-handed policy towards the minorities, and the attempts of the British to woo Muslims politically.

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 Gandhi’s 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 necessarily Hindu.

Balibar is 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 one’s fatherland" and "killing for one’s country". The proliferation of neighbouring terms is merely an exteriorisation of this split.

Nevertheless, 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 nation-state.

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 tongues.

The construction 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 contexts.

The consciousness of nationalist sentiment thus rests very strongly on the capacity of the intelligentsia to provoke the people into belief.

Wallerstein 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 nation-states.

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.

Nationalism (and 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 devotees.

The nationalist 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 the folk.

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 nation-states.

By analysing 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.


Punjabi Literature
Sights and scent of faded villages
Review 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.

He has translated for the National Book Trust and the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, a few books from Marathi into Punjabi. Mention may he made of "Bangarwadi", "Brahman 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 Didn’t 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 sprawling wilderness.

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), he’ll 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).

The stranger 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 come.

Before partition 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.

The spinning 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 moments.

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 "trinjan".

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 husband’s cousin filed a "suit" against her in the "court" of Ishar Singh.

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 husband’s cousin Sadhu has complained against you. He is a chronic bachelor. Why don’t you start living with him?"

Shehro lifted 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 ready."

Ishar Singh 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 wouldn’t have stepped across to the third house."

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 Singh’s 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.

Change of 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.

The changing 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; they’ll 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).

The present-day 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!


Off the shelf
History denied him his due
Review 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 Carlyle’s 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 Marx’s 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. Wasn’t 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.

Second, the 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.

The British 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, 29).

Cripps was 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 country’s economic recovery in the post-war years.

Simon Burgess 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 Cripp’s secret dairies in four volumes which have recently come to light.

Like Cyril 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 today’s 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 highly successful.

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 Churchill’s 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 Churchill’s leadership. In October, 1942, he appeared to be the only one to question Churchill’s conduct of the war, and he soon afterwards resigned at Churchill’s instance to become Minister of Aircraft Production.

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.

Churchill and 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 people’s 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 doctor’s advice and died at the age of 62.

Watching Cripps leave so soon, Churchill commented: "There but for the grace of God, goes God". But with his usual magnanimity, Churchill said, on Cripps’s 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 1938.

The Japanese 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 India’s 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 Cripps offer.

It is not clear that Mahatma Gandhi’s 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 country.

The Mahatma 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.

Nehru’s 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.

The Cripps 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 India’s 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 India’s 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.


Women’s lib, Indian style
Review by Kavita Soni-Sharma

Small 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 don’t really help. These are only "small remedies to counter the terrible disease of being human, of being mortal and vulnerable".

Madhu is 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". Madhu’s own story is partly interwoven around the lives of these two women.

Savitribai, a doyen of Hindustani music, belongs to the Gwalior gharana. Madhu’s personal association with her is brief and dates back to her childhood years in Neemgaon, when she knew her as her friend Munni’s 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 Bal’s biography.

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.

Munni however 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 to be.

Leela, Madhu’s 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 complained.

Nor did 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.

Madhu’s own 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 father’s 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, Bai’s 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 scholar’s Vedic offering
Review by P.D. Shastri

The 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.

Dr Radhakrishanan’s 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.

The upanishads 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 returns—the 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 enquiry.

The upanishads have been recognised as India’s 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 world’s most influential creative works. The Vedas are set in rural society, the upanishads in one that was being urbanised.

Since the 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 unliveable.

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.

The upanishads — 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.

The divine 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.

Our writer 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 anyone’s wealth."

God permeates 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 Radhakrishnan’s 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."

The importance 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 deeper.

"Those who worship ignorance go to hell. Those who worship godless knowledge without action, go into dark hell.

"The face of truth is concealed by a vessel made of gold.

"Too much 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.

These mantras 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.

Yagyyavalkya had 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 become immortal?"

"No, your life would be as the life of the wealthy".

She said, "Blessed one, teach me what you know."

And again, "Yagyavalkya came to Raja Janak. The king got down from his throne and said "teach me."

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.

And again, "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 Guru’s teaching.

The Aitreya 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.

The Prashna 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. Shankara’s 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 death)."

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 himself there.

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.

This upanishad 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 writer’s excepted (12th) upanishad—Maitri 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.


Write view
Munims of past and present: analysing
final accounts
Review by Randeep Wadehra

Balance 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.

Things have transformed beyond belief since then. If secrecy was the hallmark of the Lalaji’s 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 company’s standing in bourses. Therefore, blance-sheets and related statements are published in newspapers, often with special emphasis on the the organisation’s 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 company’s 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 share’s market price is determined as much by the annual growth rate of business as by the state of a company’s assets.

This is where Dani’s 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 company’s dissolution. However, individual members can buy or sell their shares in the market.

Apart from 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 current assets.

One accountant 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 liability.

Using 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 concern’s stocks.

This is an excellent book for the students os accountancy, business management and prospective investors.

Marriage Matching Astrologically by T.M. Rao. Pustak Mahal, Delhi Pages 142. Rs 40.

Are marriages made in heaven? The answer would depend on serveral factors, the most important being one’s 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 astrologer.

Even the 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 computer’s 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.

The explanations 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.

Frankly, after 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 interpreting horoscpoes.

Multipolar World, Globalisation and Khalsa, by Sawraj Singh. Panjna Publications, Jalandhar. Pages 86. Rs 50.

Contents matter. 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 one’s religious identity even when one is writing on secular topics. For example Nirmal Singh writes on the book’s back cover, "We all are proud of Dr Sawraj Singh’s 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 won’t inflict this on you any further. After all, dear reader, I need your indulgence for my next review too.

The honorific "Dr" before the author’s 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 Khalsa’s role in the contemporary worle.

Fortunately, 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
Review by Kuldip Kalia

The 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 potential.

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 another."

Truly speaking, 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 your’s nor another’s." But in the same breath, he adds: "All compulsory action is immoral. True morality is voluntary action."

However this 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 life."

Emphasising the 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 ."

Thus "truth 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."

Ideas never 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."

It always 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’."

Similarly, never 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 mediocrity."

One must "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."


Tribals, travails
Review by M.L. Sharma

Dynamics 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.

Kailash S. Aggarwal’s 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.

Mrinal Miri 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.

V.K. Nuh 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.

Monirul Hussain 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.

Lal Dena 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.

Changsan has 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.

Amar Yumnam 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.

Lal Bahadur 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.


Method behind Pak’s Kargil madness

This 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 this sector.

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.

The developments 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.

The nearest 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 army regulars.

Intrusions 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.

Such an 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.

In retrospect, such an expectation was unreal. The Pakistani estabilishment has a long and consistent history of misreading India’s 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 Bhutto’s advice that India would not cross the international border to deal with Pakistan’s 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 India’s 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.

Successive Indian Chiefs of Army Staff and Directors-General of Military Operations told the committee that bringing to bear India’s 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 Army’s involvement in counter-insurgency in Kashmir and its perceived degradation as an effective fighting force.

Several 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 Musharraf’s 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 frustrated.

Some Pakistani 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 Sharif’s 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 Lahore.

Influential 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.

The Committee 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 Lahore process.