Sunday, August 20,
as a thriller
Satya P. Gautam
World translated by Paulette Moller.
Solitaire Mystery translated by Sarah Jane Hails.
Anybody There? translated by James Anderson.
Glass, Darkly translated by Elizabeth Rokkan.
Jostein Gaarder and published by Phoenix Books, London.
was during the late eighties that Jostein Gaarder, a young
Norwegian philosophy teacher, felt a deep sense of disquiet on
noticing a swelling unconcern towards abstract questions of
philosophy among his teenage students. As a teacher who cared,
devising an effective antidote was the only imperative for
Gaarder. He had to script a therapeutic remedy for the
epidemic of insusceptibility towards seemingly esoteric but
indispensable questions. We can escape them, he was convinced,
only by forfeiting our claim to any share in our common human
heritage. To regenerate the diminishing interest in enduring
philosophical questions, he decided to meet the challenge by
offering a "strange and wonderful book" for the
to reveal the life of western philosophy from its origins in
the form of a mystery novel running into 400 pages. In writing
this novel, "Sophie’s World," he accomplished a
rare feat — a creative fusion of the crafts of magical
fiction, cultural historiography and philosophising. Authoring
this novel was, for Gaarder, a novel way of sharing with the
readers his perspicacious retrospections into some of the most
difficult and brilliant arguments about the mysteries of life,
world and existence.
home after the day’s work at school, a 14-year-old Norwegian
school girl, young Sophie is surprised to find a mysterious
envelope for her in the mailbox. It contained only a slip of
paper no bigger than the envelope. It read: "Who are
you?" ("Sophy" or "Sophie" or
"Sophia", as no elementary textbook writer on "philo-sophy"
forgets to remind the initiate, "is Greek term for
"wisdom" and "philosophy" means "love
that she did not know who she was, she goes to the mailbox
again and she finds another similar envelope. She tears it
open, and finds another note of the same size as the first
one. "Where does the world come from?" It
said. For the first time in her life, Sophie felt it wasn’t
right to live in the world without at least inquiring
where it came from.
strange letters in Sophie’s mailbox is the first move by an
eccentric teacher, a mysterious hermetic, in giving a unique
present to Sophie for her forthcoming 15th birthday — an
exceptional correspondence course in philosophical issues and
arguments. While Sophie is eagerly looking forward to the
plans, her mom has made for the celebration of this birthday
which means so much to her, the unseen source of these unusual
letters remains a secret. Many curious happenings are
intertwined with Sophie’s anxious search for and the
eventual encounter with the quaint recondite teacher, Albert
its playfulness and delightful in its well-structured
explorations, "Sophie’s World"
achieves an invaluable interweaving of three levels or kinds
of mediations related with distinctive human faculties –
memory (history), imagination (literature) and reason
(philosophy). This novel is an amazing tour, very well
conducted to the diverse cultural roots of contemporary
western thinking as it has evolved over three millennia.
cogently shows that the western philosophical heritage is an
integral but a small part of the larger natural history of
mankind. It is an invitation for an exciting and fruitful
engagement in the discourses which wise sages from all
societies and cultures have found significant to venture into.
The novel stimulates a craving for thinking about the meaning
and purpose of life, the role and place of human beings in the
world. It sensitises us towards the potential of our own
thinking. The intricacies of the past and current debates
about the place and significance of knowledge, culture,
science and values in our everyday life are focussed in a
clear, lucid and fascinating form within the narrative web of
The novel was
received so well, to put it mildly, by Norwegian readers that
it was soon translated into English. Within a year of the
publication of the English translation, more
than a million copies were sold. It remained in the best
seller list for many years. With his very first novel, Gaarder
had become an international celebrity. The abundance of
Gaarder’s accomplishment is amply reflected in the pace at
which his unique narration of the history of western
philosophy has been translated into 40 languages in less than
ten years. One of the reasons for such success could be its
explicating the specific unfolding of human thinking in the
western hemisphere without any misplaced Euro-centric bias or
an unwitting neglect of the local specificity in undue
preference for the allegedly global or cosmic universals.
subsequent novels, the author of "Sophie’s World"
continues to pursue his original project of reminding us of
the urgency of humanising our sensitivity towards the sources
and repercussions of the cryptic and dark dimensions of our
circumstances and situations. Gaarder’s more recent novels
reveal the possible ways of reaching a graceful reconciliation
with the dissonance of our human finitude. There are limits to
our knowledge, will and existence. Our aspirations for
immortality, omniscience, omnipotence and absolute perfection
are beyond reach in the human realm. We must learn to live
within human limits and come to terms with our ignorance,
imperfection, failures, sickness, death and separation. The
most crucial obstacle to this course of learning, however, is
that the boundaries of human limits are so indefinite that the
inhuman act of crossing the boundaries, violating the limits,
cannot be judged before hand. We have no other option but to
live with the constant strain of defining the indescribable
limits for ourselves – limits bound to remain beyond our
To bring to
light the inescapable plight of our being human, Gaarder spins
the narrative structure of his novels around irreparable
conditions and circumstances. The themes of belonging and
separation, remembrance and forgetting, fantasy and
imagination, acknowledgement and recognition, promises and
commitments, betrayals and deceptions, solidarity and
communion, distancing and disowning, conflict and harmony,
alienation, sense of emptiness, riddles of life, creation and
death are re-enacted anew to bring home the same truths.
and philosophy, unlike technology and science, we neither
invent nor discover any new truths. We only discern the same
truth time and again, whether we are able to restore it as
carefully as our predecessors did, this is for others to see
universal themes, characteristic of the eternal human
condition, have been illustrated with uncanny narratives
closely drawn from the distinctive historical, cultural and
religious contexts of everyday life in Norwegian and European
societies. The superficiality and emptiness of the crowded
megalopolises of the post-world war Europe has come under
critical scrutiny in these narratives. Significant historical
events such as the spread and rise of Christianity in Europe,
German occupation of Norway during World War II, fear of
another war and nuclear holocaust serve as a setting for the
narrative constriction of Gaarder’s fantasy universe.
Marvels of new medical, electronic, communication and
spacecraft technologies with all their dark edges form the
backdrop of action situations in these dazzling narratives
A father and
his young son are in search of the woman lost to them in her
fascination to find herself. A mysterious young visitor from
the outer space lands in a house where a new baby is expected
in a family. An angel converses on the secrets of heavenly and
earthly life with a girl lying sick in bed while her family is
preparing for Christmas celebrations. These are some of the
situations from which Gaarder has constructed his fascinating
narratives of mysterious happenings.
glittering frivolity of the fashion-world, shallowness of
tourist industry, hopelessness of aimless consumerism, hubris
of modern science, the deep gulf between the external rituals
of religion and the inner life of the soul provide the ground
for a peep into the depths of human condition.
very keen eye for the details of location, character,
situation, and a rare brilliance in speculating the unforeseen
course of events, Gaarder shows his fine-tuned facility to
reach the bedrock of eternal human concerns from very earthy
contexts. It would not be difficult for a reader to find some
close parallels or resemblance to these settings in one’s
own socio-historic-cultural context.
constructing the narrative structure of "The Solitaire
Mystery," the metaphor of the pack of 52 playing cards
has been very deftly handled for illustrating the magnitude of
innovative capacities and powers of the human mind. Its 52
chapters, starting with the ace of spades and concluding with
the king of hearts, string the adventures of a 12-year-old
Norwegian boy Hans Thomas. This young boy is the son of an
"illegitimate" child from a German soldier. Hans
accompanies his father on a long journey across Europe all the
way from Arendal in Norway to Athens in Greece. The father and
the son are on a mission to search for the young boy’s
mother who "went away to find herself" when Hans
Thomas was just four.
Later, it is learnt that she
had been lost in the world of fashion in search of herself.
The young boy’s "advice to all those who are going to
find themselves is: Stay exactly where you are. Otherwise you
are in great danger of losing yourself for ever." The
young boy couldn’t really remember
what his mother looked like. But he just remembers that
"she was more beautiful than any other woman". And
his dad adds that "the more beautiful a woman is, the
more difficulty she has in finding herself".
Hans is in
for a series of bizarre happenings during the journey. A baker
gives him a bun containing a miniature book. A dwarf gives him
a magnifying glass with which to read the miniature book. And
thus begins a fantastic time-travel into the past along the
ongoing spatial journey towards an uncertain future. From the
miniature book, Hans learns about Frode, a German ancestor.
Shipwrecked in 1790, en route from Mexico to Spain, Frode had
been forced to land on a deserted island. Left in total
isolation, Frode breathes into his pack of playing cards a
life of its own.
different sets of cards, spades, clubs, diamonds and hearts,
symbolise the four main seasons. The red and black colours
start signifying life and death. The total number of cards
represents the 52 weeks of a year. Each card in the different
sets, excluding the ace, symbolises the different months of a
year. The numerical value or the nomenclatural designation
assigned to a card marks its value or status in a hierarchical
structure; and so on. In this imaginary creation, once having
come to life, every character functions smoothly, like a
dwarf, without any ruffle. But a joker’s entry disturbs this
well-organised taken-for-granted order.
52 figures were all different, yet there was one thing they
all had in common: none asked any questions about who they
were or where they came from. In this way, they were one with
nature. The old man breathed deeply and sighed. ‘One morning
the joker jumped out from round the corner … and said, There
are four families in the village, with four kings, queens,
jacks, aces and twos to tens. ‘That’s right, ‘So there
are four of each kind but there are also 13 of each kind,
because they are all either diamonds, hearts, clubs or spades.’
…But ‘I am the joker!’ he exclaimed. ‘Don’t
forget that, dear master. I am not as clear-cut as all the
others, you see. I am neither king nor jack, nor am I diamond,
club, heart or spade. Who am I?’ he pressed. ‘Why am I the
joker? Where do I come from and where am I going?’".
the spirit of questioning with the entry of this joker. A
sense of uncertainty sets in the world where everything had
gone on in a tranquil and orderly routine earlier. The
questioning spirit of the joker ruptures the bliss of
ignorance. (And remember Socrates was one of the greatest
desecration of natural human curiosity by the convenient habit
of "taking the world for granted" has been very
effectively articulated in a conversation between the young
Hans and his father. " …Dad didn’t stop there. He
gestured towards all the tourists swarming out of the tour
buses far below and crawling like a fat trail of ants up
through the temple sight. ‘If there is one person among all
those who regularly experiences the world as something full of
adventure and mystery. Do you know why most people just
shuffle around the world without marveling at everything they
see?’ I shook my head. ‘It’s because the world has
become a habit,’ he said, sprinkling salt on his egg. ‘Nobody
would believe in the world if they had not spent years getting
used to it. We can study this in children. They are so
impressed by everything they see around them that they can’t
believe their eyes. That’s why they point here and there and
ask about everything they lay their eyes on. It’s different
with us adults. We have seen everything so many times before
that we take reality for granted."
Solitaire Mystery", along with Hans and his dad, we are
on a constant move between the post-war Europe’s world of
fashion and tourism, new media blitz, and the ancient Greek
world of Delphic Oracles, King Oedipus and Socrates. But this
transition is never without passing through the deserted
island inhabited by Frode and his animated cards.
It is in this
movement between the world of the ancient Greeks and the
contemporary times that we learn along with them that
"Time doesn’t pass and Time doesn’t tick. We are the
ones who pass and our watches tick. Time eats its way through
history as silently and relentlessly as the sun rises in the
east and sets in the west. It topples great civilisations,
gnaws at ancient monuments and wolfs down generation after
generation. That’s why we speak of the ‘ravages of time.’
Time chews and chomps – and we are the ones between its
Hans, we also learn from his dad that "shapes and masks
come and go and new ideas are always popping up. Themes are
never repeated and a composition never shows up twice …
There is nothing as complicated and precious as a person, my
boy – but we are treated like trash… We skip around on
earth like characters in a fairy tale. We nod and smile at
each other as if to say, ‘Hi there, we’re living there at
the same time! We’re in the same reality – or the same
fairy tale …’ Isn’t that incredible, Hans Thomas? We
live on a planet in the universe, but soon we will be swept
out of the orbit again. Abracadabra – and we’re
had lived in another century, we would have shared our lives
with different people. Today we can easily nod and smile and
say hello to thousands of our contemporaries: ‘Hi, there!
How strange we should be living at exactly the same time.’
Or perhaps I bump into someone and open a door and shout: ‘Hi,
soul!’ We’re alive, you know, but we live this only once.
We open our arms and declare that we exist, but then we are
swept aside and thrust into the depths of history. Because we
part of an eternal masquerade where the masks come and go. But
we deserve more, Hans Thomas. You and I deserve to have our
names engraved into something eternal, something that won’t
be washed away in the great sandbox."
It is this
longing, emphatically expressed by Hans’s dad for surviving
beyond our lives, the human ambition to cross the limit of
mortality, which inspires us to try, in whatever ways that we
can find for ourselves, going beyond our present reach. It
makes us, humans, different from the rest of the living
creatures. It makes us what we are.
Is Anybody There?" narrates young Joe’s encounter with
a strange young boy from another world in the outer space.
Joe, left behind by parents gone to a maternity hospital since
another baby is expected in the family, is alone in the house.
Mika, who has fallen out of his spaceship, lands on an apple
tree in Joe’s garden. Gaarder has created, relying on
children’s natural curiosity and related exploratory
activities, a very engaging dialogue between Joe and Mika.
Much of what
they have to ask and tell each other has been drawn from the
recent findings of contemporary astronomy, geo-physics,
artificial intelligence, linguistics, philosophy of language,
philosophy of mind, evolutionary biology and biotechnology. In
talking to each other, Joe and Mika discover that their ways
of being born into the world, perceiving the world and sense
of time are vastly different.
In trying to
know more about each other, Joe discovers that very many
differences between their thinking are rooted in the different
ways in which we categorise our experiences of the world.
Notwithstanding so many differences in their evolutionary
history and bio-chemical composition, they also find out how
similar they are. Joe learns from Mika that, "Nothing in
the world is ordinary. Everything that exists is part of a
great riddle. You and I are too. We are the riddle no one can
And Mika also
underlines the most significant feature that they both share.
"Maybe asking questions, particularly questions without
answers, is most important of all the likeness we share, said
Mika with a big grin". Joe learns from Mika that much
times "an answer was worth much less than a
familiar with the writings of the great philosopher Ludwig
Wittgenstein may notice very loud and clear echoes from his
writings in Joe and Mika’s conversations. It may be relevant
to allude here that from the very first novel "Sophie’s
World" onwards, Gaarder’s writings have consistently
displayed a very deep influence of Wittgenstein’s way of
Is Anybody There?" enthuses not only children to be
curious about the mysteries of the universe but also provokes
the grown-ups to think anew about the wonders of the world.
This conversation amongst two young people from different
worlds raises the most basic questions about the very sources
and goals of our lives.
A Glass, Darkly" carries on the tradition of mystery
novels that Gaarder started with "Sophie’s World".
Its setting is a family preparing for Christmas knowing fully
well that their young daughter Cecilia is unlikely to recover
from her illness. Cecilia is not just mildly ill, for months
she has been lying on bed on the upper floor of the house
sensing happenings below from the sounds she could decipher.
Her family cares for her and provides her the best possible
medical help. But Cecilia feels helpless when she compares her
lot with other people in a mood of celebration.
moments of despair, she has tears welling up in the corners of
her eyes. She wipes a tear drop with her finger and draws an
angel on the window pane. Realising that she has drawn the
angel with her own tears, she wonders about the difference
between "angel tears" and "tear angels".
She remembers her grandma telling her once that she looks like
In the middle
of the night, Cecilia suddenly wakes up to find that an angel
has stepped into her room through the window. The angel
introduces himself as Ariel. He is no ordinary angel. Cecilia
finds him to be very different from what she had heard or read
about angels. Slowly, Ariel and Cecilia get involved in a
series of spirited conversations about heaven, God, life,
death and the universe. In some of these conversations,
Gaarder’s injunction to be forever humorous is manifest very
sharply. "Angels don’t grow on trees," he said.
"In fact, we don’t grow at all. So we can’t be ‘grown-up’
either". ‘D’you mean grown-up angels don’t exist?’
He went into peals of laughter.
A fighting tale by a soldier
Review by Rajinder Nath (Major-Gen, retd)
The Falcon in
My Name: A Soldier’s Diary by Kuldip Singh Bajwa. South Asia
Publications, New Delhi. Pages 402. Rs 495.
Bajwa (retd) has been writing for The Tribune and The Indian
Express and has now authored his first book. He traces his
ancestry to the Bhatti Rajputs from Jaisalmer who established
a small kingdom in Jhang (West Pakistan) in the Middle Ages.
Fighting is in his blood as his ancestors had been taking part
in military activities for so many years. Hence the author and
his family members are known as men with the falcon.
not ignore the call of the falcon in his name either and so
joined the IMA Dehra Dun in 1946. He was commissioned into the
Corps of Engineers, but was transferred in 1949 to the Jat
Regiment at his request. Then in 1956 he was drafted to the
Regiment of Artillery.
He has taken
part in all wars fought by India since independence and has
developed deep respect for the brave, and dedicated, soldier
of the Army who he feels has not been given his due. He
states, "The politicians have distrusted and disdained
him, the babus of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have muscled
him over, and the people have not displayed sufficiently
sustained concern to force the application of
hopes that his "Soldiers Diary" will convey the
essence of soldiering and the dynamics that shape the life of
soldiers. Anybody who reads the book will readily agree that
the author has achieved his aim in this comprehensive book.
Writing in his inimitable style, he has described various
events in his career which highlight the qualities of the
soldier and leader, the officer. In a way, the book is an
autographical account of his 35 years in the Army and his
refers to many fascinating incidents throughout his service
starting from his training at the IMA, his various
appointments till his retirement as a Major-General. These
incidents bring out the flavour of the Army, its functioning,
its customs and peculiarities which make it distinct from
Falcon in his name" was very much present in his career
as the author had strong views and offered to resign more than
once whenever he felt that the interests of the service
demanded it. The book ends with some useful articles dealing
with India’s Constitution which he feels needs to be
reviewed, the functioning of various political parties at
present and his views on the security of the country.
refers to the prophetic words of Lord Wavel that "the
stability of the Indian Army may perhaps be the deciding
factor in the future of India". The author bemoans the
inability of the political masters to grasp the essentiality
of national security in a holistic manner. He feels that a
close proximity of the bureaucrats to the political executive,
and the quid pro quo between them, have made the
soldier continuously lose ground by way of status and
the author, "We lionise our men in uniform but secretly
we fear the organised military power that they represent and
distort them for our own double standard." That is why a
vast array of para-military forces has been raised, the author
feels. He further states: "One of the calculations
believed this move was a philosophy of counterpoise to the
armed forces. This is obviously the result of a myopic vision.
No semi-military organisation led by officers with a dominant
police philosophy could ever hope to match well-trained and
well-led armed forces." Any way, the time has come when
our rulers, both politicians and bureaucrats, should shed
their fear of a military coup, for India and Pakistan are
totally different countries as far as development of
democratic systems are concerned.
dwells on the poor prospects of the soldiers after retirement.
Retirement at an early age, his postings in far-flung borders
of our country, lack of interaction with civil servants and
erosion of his status make his post-retirement life difficult.
It is particularly so as most of them have to seek gainful
employment and have to start a second career. "Tending
roses and gracefully fading away has become a pipe
dream", the author remarks with justification.
artillery officer, he highlights the schedule of training of
gunners with earthy, and pragmatic, lessons. The planning for
war and realistic conduct of battle are not easy. The
execution of plans is equally demanding. The complexity of
this task requires thorough training to develop proficiency in
individual and group skills, and conditioning of troops is
needed to develop proficiency in handling equipment. The
conditioning of troops to modern high risk environment and the
close integration of diverse units and formations into a
battle-winning combination require competent leaders.
the operations of the 115 Infantry Brigade in the Shakargarh
salient in the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The author states that in
spite of the fact that the 115 Brigade had armour under its
command, while Pakistan had none in the early days in this
sector, the advance of the brigade was very slow. According to
him, it was because the brigade’s tactical HQ and its
commander were well behind, near the river Ravi. During the
war, the commanders should be well up to see the situation for
themselves and give timely instructions. The author remarks,
"This was not a performance to be proud of despite what
has been portrayed in official records and regimental
histories, including the citations for gallantry awards and
decorations that were written."
Well, in a
war the truth is the first casualty! He recounts the exploits
of brave and daredevil officers like Major Pradeep Gaur, an
air observation pilot who was shot down while bringing the
Shakargarh sector under effective fire in 1971. He was awarded
the Maha Vir Chakra (posthumous).
has analysed the attitude of Pakistan and Indian soldiers. He
states: "After independence, Pakistan and Indian soldiers
presented a sharp contrast in emotion, attitudes and behaviour
towards each other." To start with, the Pakistan soldier
took his cue from a historical perspective of the Muslim
invaders who plundered and eventually ruled India for over 10
centuries. He invested himself with a feeling of superiority
out of this historical memory. He was generally aggressive,
overweeningly confident, overbearing and as time passed,
treated his counterpart with supercilious superiority.
Indians, conditioned by the Hindu karma, loath to
deliberately kill without the justification of war, not so
easily provoked and their trigger fingers tightly controlled
by the votaries of Panchsheel in Delhi, seemingly came
off the second best in border confrontations. This made them
look rather meek and passive against his over-blown Pakistan
counterpart, whose intransigence had increased in direct
proportion to the size of his lethal arsenal ..."
There is a
lot of truth in this statement. Well-known Pakistan author
Altaf Gauhar in a recent article entitled, "Four Wars and
One Assumption", has stated that Pakistan started all the
wars on the assumption that India could not match it in
rightly states that the leadership plays a very important role
in the army. Recalling his serving under Field Marshal
Maneckshaw, he quotes many instances where the leadership
aspect was fully brought home to him by the way Maneckshaw
took decisions and the trust he reposed in his staff.
The book also
contains the author’s views on various national and
international issues confronting India, national security and
Indo-Pakistan relations. He writes in a logical and lucid
It is a
well-written study of a soldier who has gone through the trails
and tribulations of soldiering in a long and fairly rewarding
career. His views are thought provoking and require
Review by D.R.Chaudhry
and Culture by John Tomlinson. Polity Press, London. Pages 238.
is really nothing new about globalisation. Capital always tends
to have a global reach, making capitalism a worldwide
phenomenon. Now rapid technological changes and the resultant
shrinkage of time and space have rendered capital hyper-mobile.
The demise of the Soviet Union and its satellites, accumulation
of surplus capital in some developed countries, increased
possibility of foreign investment in many Third World countries
which are in the midst of the development process, all these
factors together have given rise to the phenomenon of
There are two
positions about globalisation. Its supporters treat it as
"the open sesame", to solve all economic and social
ills which afflict mankind today. Its detractors see it as an
unmitigated evil, sure to spell disaster for the Third World.
The process has acquired a rapid pace during the past one-decade
Human Development Report (HDR) is reliable to assess the impact
of globalisation on the Third World. The HDR, published in 1990,
characterised people as the real wealth of a nation. The HDR,
1999, devoted to globalisation, gives details of a widening gap
between the developed and the backward parts of the globe,
growing North-South hiatus and worsening condition of the people
at large in developing countries.
Besides the HDR,
numerous reliable studies show a highly adverse impact of
globalisation on Latin America, Asia and Africa. One major cause
seems to be speculative capital which flies in and out of
developing countries in search of quick profits. Globalisation
is not an altruistic project, a value-free and neutral
phenomenon. There are winners and losers.
of globalisation cannot be confined to economy alone. It has
serious civilisational and cultural implications. Every
civilisation has its own rhythm, defining the existential
concerns of man. Any forced change in this rhythm — a distinct
possibility in the process of globalisation — can be
disastrous. Change without snapping continuity in tune with the
genius of its people, defines the strength of ancient
civilisations like India. The mobility of finance and human
capital has eroded the cultural frontiers. This has an in-built
tendency of homogenisation. The process has a dual impact. It
can reinvigorate local cultures by stripping them of their
ossified accretions if the process is gradual, mutual, creative
and imaginative. If it is sudden, one-directional, paternalistic
and hegemonic, the consequences can be very bad.
brings with it the worldview, life concerns and value system of
its dominant players. The life-style of the affluent partners
has a blinding effect on the acquisitive elites of the poor
countries and whets their appetite for riches by means fair or
foul. In spite of all their modernistic trappings, their
conservative core is intact. Modernity stands equated with
superficiality. This is fast breeding a bastard culture.
bastardisation of the elites in developing countries has its
reaction. Fundamentalism in Muslim countries and Hindutava and
cultural nationalism of the Sangh Parivar are typical examples
of this reaction. This often seeks expression in xenophobia (the
recent attacks on Christians in India provides a telling
illustration). The mass culture promoted by the mass media
controlled by transnational concerns leads to commodification of
culture. The bastardisation of culture along with its
commodification is playing havoc in many developing countries.
There is a
plethora of books on the economic aspect of globalisation but
material on its cultural dimension is scarce. Tomlinson’s book
dealing with the relationship between globalisation and culture
is an important attempt to narrow this gap. It lays stress on
the relationship between the globalisation process and cultural
change. It makes a searching analysis of the complex, ambiguous
"lived experience" of global modernity. Globalisation
brings about a general dissolution of the links between cultural
experience and territorial location. The author deftly discusses
the uneven nature of this experience in relation to the First
and Third World countries, along with the process of
hybridisation of cultures, and the special role of
communications and media technologies in the context of "deterritorialisation".
implies a rapidly developing network of interconnections and
interdependencies, increasing global-spatial proximity,
time-space compression. All this has resulted in a shrinking
world. The process has been defined by the author as complex
connectivity. The compression of time and space leaves one
temporarily disconnected and one has to adjust to the new
reality. Overcoming the physical distance is to be matched by
that of cultural distance. Since culture has always been
associated with the idea of a fixed locality, the globalisation
disturbs the way we conceptualise culture.
network of social relationships characteristic of globalisation
requires modern institutions of capitalism, industrialism,
urbanism, a developed nation-state system, mass communications
and so on. Modernity, as a nexus of these institutions, is the
historical context of globalisation. Modernity is treated as the
foundation of rational and scientific thinking in the age of
globalisation but its gains are distributed along the familiar
line of entrenched social divisions.
It is claimed
that globalisation gives rise to global modernity, which is
further supposed to throw up a global culture. Global culture in
the sense of one single culture embracing everyone on the earth
has yet to arrive. The clever talk of global culture is a device
to lend legitimacy to the attempt of the affluent North to
impose its hegemony on the developing countries in the field of
of power structure at the global plane is basic to the
understanding of the phenomenon of globalisation in which some
are more powerful than others. It does not imply leveling out.
The gap between the First and the Third Worlds is not gradually
closing. Rather, it is widening. There are all kinds of
structural inequalities at the level of political economy,
access to technologies, etc.
What is the way
out? The author does not provide any definite answer. In the
opinion of this reviewer, total isolation is neither feasible
nor desirable. No country can be impervious to large-scale
changes taking place across the globe. But the mindless
assimilation is an equally bad option. A Buddhist "middle
path" must be found. Mahatma Gandhi’s metaphor of keeping
one’s windows open without being swept off his feet can be of
great help in this context.
The rulers in developing
countries must jointly strive to keep their feet firmly planted
in their native soil while trying to adopt globalisation. This
is possible if there is pressure of the massses on the ruling
elite. In the present unipolar world, the non-aligned movement
(NAM) has become redundant. But there is need for another NAM
— a consortium of developing countries — to fashion a joint
strategy to bargain with the dominant players of globalisation
to reap the maximum economic benefits and ward off cultural
Key to get rich
Review by Bhuvnesh Nauhria
Guide to Personal Finance by Ashu Dutt. Penguin Books, New
Delhi. Pages 220. Rs 250.
the sweeping reforms in Indian financial markets, numerous
investment instruments have emerged. A variety of mutual funds
have added to the complexity. The scene is set to get more so
due to the imminent entry of private insurance business and
introduction of exotic trading options such as derivatives,
index funds, futures, etc.
Of late, a
growing proportion of the Indian population has a surplus income
seeking saving and investment avenues.
In our setup,
where meticulous personal finance management is still frowned
upon as a manifestation of moneymindedness, Ashu Dutt’s work
is a timely offer. It may serve as a bridge between the two
visible trends — rising household earnings and a variety of
financial products available to individuals.
in the USA, reviewed Charles Schwab’s ‘‘Guide to Financial
Independence" saying, ‘‘If the small investor is the
locomotive of current market, Charles Schwab, more than any
other single person, is the guy laying the tracks." Ashu
Dutt, seems to be levelling the road for Indian investors
through this his first book.
The book has
been written especially for Indian readers who miss much in
modern finance writing. It dwells on the basics of personal
Set out as a
primer, the book highlights the importance of planning and the
all too common financial mistakes. Thereafter, Dutt lists out
all investment options presently or potentially available to an
In one broad
brush stroke, he describes mutual fund, debentures, stocks, real
estate, and what you have. What distinguishes this book from
other tomes in Indian context such as Prasanna Chandra’s
"Managing Investments" is that it is not about
The section on
investments is preceded and tempered by a section on
fundamentals of personal finance. This section has a moralistic
tone to personal money management. Laced with homilies such as
"children are your best investment", "do not buy
non-productive assets on credit", etc. This chapter puts
the whole issue in proper perspective.
drives home the importance of being conscious of the investment
goals. "Keep a clear perspective of your financial
goals," advocates the author. Instead of adopting a crash
course on "how to" maximise your money, the author
pragmatically starts his discourse from the level of the
investor’s current income. Then he gently prods the reader to
save out of it, to build an emergency fund, cover risks,
contribute the maximum to the PPF and to pay off debt. And if
one cannot save enough, he suggests an increase in income, say,
by doing a part-time job and start investment.
This book is in stark contrast
to others focused on a particular segment of finance — ‘‘Stock
Market Logic" by Fosback or "Value Investing" by
Janet Lowe. The author’s approach is wide ranging. He has
endeavoured to cover every conceivable area of personal finance.
One full section is devoted to protecting and preserving what
the investor has. Under this head,
wills and trusts have been discussed. At the end, various
financial terms are explained and some useful addresses of
market regulators given.
This range of
the book, covered in just 220 pages, has also become its major
weakness. In his eagerness to touch every investment avenue, the
author is not able to elaborate on any theme. Even so, essential
details about stocks and debentures and the emerging investment
instruments could have been accommodated. The last section is
merely a repetition of the tit-bits available elsewhere in the
book. Interesting nuggets from internationally acclaimed gurus
appears to be the first of its kind in India and brings to mind
Suze Orman’s "The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom".
The author has done justice to the lietmotif of the book.
But the presentation is uninteresting. The monotonous running of
the text, in the absence of tables, charts, quotations or other
practical illustrations adds to weary reading. There are some
mix-ups also like clubbing post office savings with tax saving
Ashu Dutt has
endeavoured to demystify handling of personal finance. In the
absence of a wide choice his work may be of help to a layman or
a young employed person. A reading of the book may be similar to
witnessing a planetorium show. Which take you round the
universe, arousing interest, a craving for feeling the heavenly
fiefdom and to accost the stars. But......there the show ends!
You come out gasping and slavering for more insights. This book
similarly evokes such a quest.
I hope to see more from Ashu
Dutt on focused topics with better presentability.
All about Net
by Randeep Wadehra
by Christina Haylock, Len Muscarella and Ron Schultz. Adams
Media Corporation, Massachusetts. Pages xvi +320. $ 24.95.
term information technology used in conjunction with commerce on
the Internet might prompt an amateur economist to presume that
at last the utopia of perfect competition market is within the
realm of the possible. After all, it would be now feasible for
buyers and sellers to be fully informed of a product’s
quality, demand, supply and other factors that influence market
price, thus enforcing uniformity in the product’s quality as
well as price. But let me disabuse you of any such illusion at
the outset. No matter how much information is available on the
various websites, a human being is just not capable of keeping a
tab on all aspects of market transactions.
begun more as an upper middle class fad. The baba log, who would
not like to have their shoulders rubbed with those of the hoi
polloi, could not do all the marketing from their homes. Yet not
all the upper class denizens seem enamoured of Internet
shopping, at least till 1996. And then the floodgates opened up,
The dot com
revolution has changed the lifestyle of people around the globe.
You want something from the USA, and don’t want to tap your
snooty relatives there? No problem. Ride the electronic mouse to
your destination in the cyber space and order the stuff for home
delivery. Even for local purchase, one can do window an shopping
sitting at home before placing an order for the goods and
services, thus saving time and effort.
No wonder there
are portals galore on the Internet, promising a hassle-free
access to whatever you wish. Today, the e-commerce turnover is
worth $ 200 billion, and growing. There are many, many success
stories. Happily these stories do not pertain to merely a few
countries and communities. The information technology has done
the impossible; it has initiated a process wherein the East-West
and North-South twains have met on equal terms.
book under review is not an ode to the latest technological
marvel. In fact it is a lucid enunciation of the enormous
commercial potential that the Internet has in creating wealth
transcending political and geographical barriers. The authors
point out that the Internet is a multipurpose medium. It can
serve the corporate world in various ways, enabling it to reach
the previously inaccessible markets, improve the quality of its
customer service that helps gain long-term customer loyalty,
facilitate productivity and creativity by promoting
collaboration and information-sharing, etc.
facilitates free enterprise as never before. Unlike the
traditional organisational structures, there are no
predetermined slots for assorted corporate functionaries.
Basically, it is one’s imagination and enterprise that
determines the extent of one’s decision-making powers and
commercial success. The multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary
nature of the Net makes it highly adaptable to different market
situations, and changing global trends.
have also dealt with such subjects as virtual communities,
health care, Internet advertising, banking, publishing, etc.
Considering the detailed information regarding different aspects
of web-commerce, this book is invaluable for those who want to
migrate to the cyberspace, or at least visit it for pleasure or
business. The book conjures up images of instant riches with
hardly any investment, as had happened during the gold rush in
the past. No doubt there are numerous success stories featuring
the previously unknown NRIs who have blazed a golden trail in
stories deal with only the brighter aspects of web trading.
There must be a darker side too with tales of woe and failure;
there is bound to be a flip side to the Internet economy hype.
There are several websites where people can get registered which
enables them to buy goods online using credit card. For
registration vital personal information like name, address,
e-mail address, credit cards number, etc. have to be furnished.
This makes consumers vulnerable to frauds, especially in the
Indian context, because the Central Board of Direct Taxes has
amended the income tax rules. Now a taxpayer is required to
furnish his bank account number, the name and address of his
bank, as also the details of his credit card. The risk factors
thus multiply. Therefore, an unscrupulous person who knows these
details can easily buy goods from the website where the taxpayer
is registered, rendering the latter vulnerable to sharp
sufficient safeguards for the consumer’s interests? What about
the security aspect while one is dealing with an unknown person
or organisation on the Internet? These and several other related
questions need to be answered before one can trust the Internet
tycoon. I for one will prefer to deal with the friendly
neighbourhood retailer for my needs. Perhaps those experts are
right who aver that the web-commerce is more suitable for B2B
(business-to-business) transactions than the business to
individual (consumer of finished products) dealings.
ISI: Network of Terror in India by S.K. Ghosh. APH Publishers,
New Delhi. Pages xix+267. Rs 600.
country has a foreign intelligence agency as its bugbear. The
Arabs have the Mossad, the Soviets had the CIA and the Americans
the KGB. Pakistan has the RAW, and conversely India’s
favourite whipping boy is the ISI. It would be wrong to say that
most of the accusations against the ISI are mere propaganda,
though an element of creativity on the part of our ruling elite
and some sections of the media does manifest itself when even
ordinary crime is attributed to the dark deeds of the foreign
hardly a day passes when one does not hear of the ISI hand in
such anti-Indian activities as fake currency racket, drug
smuggling, gun running, bomb blasts, especially in churches in
South India, communal riots and insurgency. Irrefutable evidence
often accompanies such news.
One of the
standard practices of intelligence agencies is to look out for
discontented persons and groups in their target countries. Then
fuel is added to the fire, and finally disturbances on
large-scale are engineered. This is precisely what the ISI has
been doing in Punjab, Kashmir, the North-East and, going by the
media reports, the South.
Every trick to
discredit the government is used like making the government look
helpless in the face of blackmail as had happened during the
hijack drama which began at about 4.40 p.m. on Friday December
24, 1999, when the Indian Airlines flight IC 814, an Airbus
A300, was hijacked soon after it took off from Kathmandu’s
Tribhuvan international airport. It culminated in the Indian
government giving in to all demands of the thugs.
the ISI is doing its worst to derail the peace process in
Kashmir by killing innocent pilgrims and labourers. Clearly the
detente between Hizbul Mujahideen and the Government of India
has raised the hackles of the Pakistani establishment.
By smuggling in
RDX and weapons the ISI is keeping the pot boiling in various
trouble spots dotting the country. Ghosh has done well to
enumerate the various causes of terrorism. He has given
substantial details of the Pakistani agency’s nefarious
activities in our country. However, one wishes some effective
suggestions to counter the destabilising efforts too were given
by the author.
Life and Legacy by M.M. Juneja. Modern Publishers, Hisar. Pages
328. Rs 400.
Jamshedji Tata, Ghanshyam Das Birla is considered the father of
India’s industrialisation. Born in a village in the then
princely state of Jaipur’s Jhunjhunu district, Birla, a
Maheshwari Vaishya, carried forward the tradition of
"dynamic entrepreneurship"of his family, ultimately
rising to be the doyen of Indian industry. But the career graph
was not always a smooth upswing.
There were many
glitches in the rosy scenario that the young Ghanshyam Das had
set out to create for his industrial empire. During the
pre-independence time he had to reckon with the British
prejudice, especially since he was associated with the
nationalist movement. After independence, his empire building
efforts had to contend with strong trade unionism and the
socialist ideology that influenced the economic policy of
successive Indian governments.
several details of Birla’s family, his personal life and his
relationship with politicians, especially Congressmen in this
biography. Juneja’s tome could be of interest to those who are
curious to know what makes a successful tycoon. Incidentally,
Jhunjhunu is famous as a nursery of the most enterprising
businessmen who have been given the generic term "Marwari".
Next time you call a Marwari
parsimonious, think of Birlas who have, along with Tatas,
contributed so much to the country’s quest for self-reliance
and kept the Indian industry alive and kicking during its most
trying phase. As for the philanthropy angle, at least Birla didn’t
believe in combining it with business. Read the book for more.
Review by P.K. Vasudeva
Trade Organisation and India’s Trade Policy in Services by
Neela Mukherjee. Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi. Pages 186.
book is based on research undertaken by the author on
"trade in services" during 1996-99. The author has
examined commitments to market access by member-countries of
the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the General Agreement on
Trade in Services (GATS) under the Uruguay Round. The focus of
this study is on India’s export of services through movement
of service providers.
GATS, two obligations — namely, the "most favoured
nation" treatment and "transparency" (prompt
publication of all laws and regulations) apply to the entire
universe of services. The other two commitments — namely,
"national treatment" and "market access"
apply only to services, which are opened according to specific
negotiated commitments. It is noteworthy that the agreement
places on equal footing all four modes of delivery of service,
including "commercial presence" and "movement
of natural persons". The agreement also contains specific
provisions for increasing the participation of developing
countries in services trade, including the "liberalisation
of market access in sectors and modes of supply of export
interest to them."
has divided this volume into eight chapters and provided
tables for easy understanding.
deals with global trade in services, GATS and India. It gives
an overview of global trade in commercial services, regional
trade patterns and major players in services. India’s export
of services in the context of world trade has been highlighted
together with its significance, followed by a sectoral
overview of India’s tradable services.
deals with GATS’s commitments and movement of natural
persons. The author has analysed the specific commitments in
GATS in the area of movement of natural persons. She has
described the concepts related to specific commitments and its
significance concerning movement of natural persons. A method
has also been suggested for a comparative assessment of
horizontal commitments across member countries. The results of
application of this method have been interpreted to arrive at
a matrix of scores attributed to the member countries of WTO.
deals with sectoral commitments in business services by India.
The author here discusses the selected conceptual issues in
tradability of business services. An analysis of India’s
competitive base in business services has been presented. The
sectoral offers in GATS in professional and other business
services have been analysed in detail. A discussion on the
future shape of global market and some policy implications for
augmenting India’s exports of business services has been
discussed in this chapter.
deals with sectoral commitments in computer services in India.
The author has described the nature of computer and related
services and provides an overview of India’s export of such
services and rival countries’ strategies. The author has
examined the nature of sectoral offers under GATS in computer
and related services. She has also analysed India’s export
position in this regard and discusses some implications of
policy-making to earn foreign exchange.
deals with sectoral GATS commitments in tourism services by
India. The author has provided an outline of the world tourism
industry and India’s relative position therein. It contains
the pattern of sectoral commitments of member countries in
tourism and travel-related services under GATS. Market access
offers under GATS and the implications for India have been
analysed in detail. In conclusion, it has been found that
India has a great potential in the tourism industry, which
must be tapped and exploited to the maximum.
deals with sectoral GATS commitments in transport services and
India. Here the author has focused on India’s air transport
services and specific commitments under GATS. India’s
maritime transport services and negotiations at GATS have also
been discussed in detail in a separate section. The author has
taken pains to explain transport services, which include
services by maritime transport, internal waterways transport,
air transport, space transport, rail transport, road
transport, pipeline transport and so on. However, the present
study discusses air and maritime transport services in the
context of exporting services for these are the two most
important services as far as India’s exports are concerned.
deals with sectoral GATS commitments in telecommunication
services and India’s exports. In this chapter the author has
dealt with liberalisation of the telecommunication sector
under GATS negotiations which were completed in early 1997. It
deals with the significance and status of negotiations in
telecommunication services, definition and recent trends in
privatisation. The author has described the GATS offers in
basic value-added telecom services, their patterns, and India’s
potential as a service provider in export of telecommunication
Eight, the concluding chapter on movement of service providers
under GATS and India, the author has reviewed the major
aspects of GATS commitments regarding movement of natural
persons as a mode of delivery. The options, which India can
exercise in the matter of movement of natural persons, have
also been discussed in detail. In the end, the author has
given recommendations and concluding remarks, which are worth
keeping in mind by policy-makers on services.
It is worth
remembering that it will be our manpower that will be
predominantly used even when it has commercial presence in the
service sector of our country. The beneficial effects of the
expansion of the services sector will go beyond the additional
export earnings that we may gain from the temporary movement
abroad of our personnel.
In two appendices, the author
has given details regarding service trade data coverage,
compatibility and services sectoral classification list, which
will be useful for researchers on services and scholars.
At the end of Nehru-Malraux
This is from
"The Meaning of India" by Raja Rao.
is something childlike about great men I have observed. So it
was with Gandhi. So to a larger degree it was with Nehru — a
punky innocence. Malraux too had this childlike innocence. He
at once understood — dive into his destiny — to know Nehru
was at least his equal. Nehru was shy, almost as if he would
hide his face, with his trembling hands, from himself. Malraux
faced the world to hide himself there. He, Malraux, needed
men. The world was a theatre — a theatre of war, not
Waterloo but St Helena. There was yet no St Helena for him.
Bangladesh was his St Helena.
Nehru, on the
other hand, quiet, self-turned, his face dipping into his
chest, withdrawn, with almost a lisp as he spoke, as if he to
himself? Whereas Malraux shot his words, as in an artillery,
left, right, centre or down. Nehru, on the other hand, seemed
too far away to know if anything was happening at all. Was he
thinking of Kamala Nehru in the hospital, or was he wondering
what sort of man this was, so supremely arrogant but shy with
an innocent university student’s smile?
understood some French and Malraux some English. I was to be
their interpreter, but a poor one. Besides Malraux spoke with
such concentrated rapidity, no one, and so many have tried,
could follow what he said. Symbol pursued another symbol,
broke it to bits, and reconstructed, the camel became a beast,
a man an angel and then a deacon, and afterwards a king, and
finally a buffoon.
So that Nehru
himself would correct me sometimes here and there, when a
French word had not the same significance as its English
vocable, both with similar origins. For example vested
interests. I said interests investies, but he said, no.
We left it at that. But Malraux was impatient. The war had to
go on, for the world is a battlefield.
question — hands firmly clasped in one another and laid
heavily on the table, he said looking straight at Nehru —
was, "I am, as you know, interested in Gandhism. I can
understand any intelligent man’s aversion to violence. It is
a sort of human castration. But I am an occidental man. I
believe in action, in the Act. We in Europe are all in a
hurry. But you, you of the East, and especially India, you
have the window on eternity. So that my question is, Monsieur
Nehru, what relation has metapsychosis with non-violence?
never anticipated such a question. And with those words? What
does he mean? "I am afraid," he replied in his very
gentle way, "I am afraid I have never thought of
became polite, and explained himself. "Europe is
destructive, suicidal. Europe, like Nietzsche understood, and
who understood Europe better than Nietzsche did? — so he had
to go mad. You remember what Dostoevsky said: Europe is a
cemetery of ideas — yes, we cannot go beyond good and evil.
We can never go, as the Indians can, beyond duality. India had
Shankara. France had Descartes. Aristotle made a mess of
Europe — he created good and evil. He created science and
distanced us from Socratic wisdom. So it took almost 2000
years for Nietzsche to come and say: the Truth is beyond good
and evil. But you know better than I do, advaita of
Shankara is not Nietzsche’s non-duality. Thus our cemetery
even when we grow roses in them.
that is why, our cemeteries are on hilltops, so that we look
up always at death. But you in India have grown a civilisation,"
and here Nehru looked up, "You, sir, you have created the
Upanishads, and the Gita, where Sri Krishna says, standing
beyond duality, you Arjuna kill and be killed, for there is
neither the killer nor the killed."
started Nehru, slowly, with a deliberate voice, "but
Krishna tried every politic way to stop the war,
non-violently. He said to the Kauravas give the Pandavas five
provinces, five districts, five villages, or even five houses,
as they the rightful heirs to the kingdom."
Gandhi say this to the British?" interrupted Malraux.
know, I am sure, how Gandhi, the prophet of non-violence, how
he offered to raise volunteers for the British army, during
World War I. He always believed: The adversity of your enemy
should never be your opportunity. But the British..."
you believe in metapsychosis, you have the whole of eternity
before you. Good is good because there is eternity. Time
creates duality. You Indians will die because Krishna taught
you there is no death.
merely Krishna but the Vedas as well. We are a rational
people. Time is of the mind. The mind is of what..."
Brahman," shouted Malraux, pressing down his cigarette on
his plate. Yes, that is it. Death makes man a man. Man does
not make death. Death is a mask man wears. A mask as we wear
at the carnival. But at the end of the carnival is the
crucifixion. For the Indian there is no resurrection."
too have death," said Nehru almost in a whisper.
"But you mock at death with fire" .
cemetery, that is with wood and cement. And that’s
Europe," concluded Malraux.
fireworks was not for Nehru. Not only speech came to him with
difficulty. But even his thought process seemed to have become
more quiet and grave. He had been facing silence in jail —
death in Badenweiler. Guehenno was an observant man. He
realised there was no dialogue possible with Malraux. It could
only be a royal monologue. Yet he loved Malraux. But he felt
reverence for Nehru. His gentleness, his sheer nobility seemed
almost desecrated with an European violence. So, Guehenno
asked for the bill. Nobody remembered we had been eating
Chinese food. For Malraux we were in history. For Nehru we
were in a disturbed silence.
Nehru, you know I love India," started Andre Malraux
following his own thought. "I even learnt some Sanskrit
to read the Bhagavad Gita. It’s a great book, a
revolutionary book — that is, a bible for the real
revolution. Man’s aim is to achieve his destin. Everyman,
as the Hindus believe, has his dharma, the
leather-worker, the Minister or the king, like dharmaraja. I
love the way Bhishma, on his deathbed, gives advice to Arjuna,
his adversary in battle, but a nephew of his. That is what I
admire in India. The destin d’homme.
great, for, having fought with the Pandavas, he it is when
fallen, asks Arjuna to bring him a glass of water on his
deathbed of arrows. Now, that to me is India. India has no
enemies. She only has adversaries. That is what Gandhi is
about.I admire him. I cannot follow him. For the Indian will
follow his dharma, like Bhishma did against the Pandavas,
though these were almost like his own children. But I, the
occidental man, need to fight, fight against evil. Take away
evil, and there is nothing to fight for."
said Nehru gently, "evil is only misunderstood good, is
why do you fight the British?"
but Gandhi would say, to convert my enemy! Like Bhishma in
Bhishma fought a battle."
fight our battle too. You fight with guns, we with wills and
hearts. Do you think it is easy to stand before a towering
police horse, and be crushed like a hen? We Indians, Mr
Malraux, are not cowards."
course not. Look at the way Alexander treated Porus. By the
way that is the first confrontation between the occidental man
— and the Indian, the Indian, the Indian, shall I say the
king," corrected Nehru, with his thin voice. "You
have to see Gandhi, dressed like a peasant, but walking erect
as no emperor in India has ever walked. We believe in the
saint king in India, like we believe, we believe in
poet-sages, kavis. Dharma binds them both."
have often thought, Gandhi before Clive would be like
Alexander before Porus. Europe," continued Malraux,
smoking away, and following his smoke, "Europe, I said,
is a cemetery. That is true. Look at Goya."
Europe is Goya," picked up Nehru, after a moment of
deliberation, "what then Monsieur Malraux is — is my
country — India?"
is Ajanta," shot back Malraux, with a delighted childlike
smile, "Ajanta, where Shiva is the dancer of the
crematorium, and the Buddha starts his compassion on the other
side, with a lotus in hand, and looking down on our poor
humanity with a blue benignance. That, sir, is why Europe is
enamoured of the Buddha, and has so little understanding of
interrupted Nehru coming back to himself slowly — the prison
was gently fading — "but there is Rodin."
and there is also Picasso," smiled Malraux between his
whiffs. "But Picasso might have to live another life for
his supreme vision of Shiva. To understand Shiva one has to
meditate and not act. The western man can invent any manner of
action. That is why for the early Buddhists, the Buddha was
symbolised by his two feet — the two feet of the acharya
— the guru. The Greeks brought in their St Sulpician
sculpture and gave the Buddha of the Lahore museum, his
moustache and his coiffeur of Apollo. The western man can only
live in duality," said Malraux and went into a deep
restaurant was emptying out. The waiters were cleaning up the
table. There was activity on the Boulevard St. Michel, the
buses were making the proper noises, and students were teasing
someone or the other. The world was alive — but Andre
Malraux was not there. He was with his Buddha. It was a moment
of recognition for Nehru. Here indeed is the man he had read
about as a hero, a man who upheld violence — indeed violence
in modern literature seemed invented by him in his condition
humaine, but here was the other side of this strange
creature. He could die into his silence, and stop playing
mischief with himself. He could be true.
thinking," Malraux began, "I was thinking of a
princess or queen of some sort, in Egypt, her eyes shining
through the water of a well, someone so dead but she was
absolutely alive, as only the Egyptians can make one believe.
She belonged to the 22nd dynasty, if I remember right, and she
lay there, in this deep fountain, in Nubia. That was death to
us, but not to her. She wanted to live forever, and for some
unknown reason, her eyes glowed. Indeed like Parvathi’s.
Shiva had conquered her death. How could a wife to Shiva
not?" asked Nehru, somewhat angrily.
"Because, because, as
your Shankara says," smiled Malraux, "because, in
your dream you can see your own dead body. So is one alive
when awake or asleep in sleep? Or is all, all like that girl
in Nubia ever awake — and so out of death? sir,"
continued Malraux, with a quiet passion, "sir, that is
the greatness of your country. It can turn defeat into
victory. Wait till the British go. I prophesy they want you
back, not as empire, as, as — say, their?