The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, August 20, 2000

Philosophy as a thriller
Review by
Satya P. Gautam

A fighting tale by a soldier
Review by
Rajinder Nath (Major-Gen, retd)

What price globalisation?
Review by

Key to get rich quick
Review by
Bhuvnesh Nauhria

All about Net profits
Write view by
Randeep Wadehra


Philosophy as a thriller
Review by
Satya P. Gautam

Sophie’s World translated by Paulette Moller.

The Solitaire Mystery translated by Sarah Jane Hails.

Hello? Is Anybody There? translated by James Anderson.

Through A Glass, Darkly translated by Elizabeth Rokkan.

All by Jostein Gaarder and published by Phoenix Books, London.

IT 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 young reader.

Gaarder chose 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.

On reaching 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 of wisdom").

Finding odd 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.

Putting these 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 Knox.

Magical in 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.

Gaarder 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.

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.

In his 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 reach forever.

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.

In literature 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 and tell.

These 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.

The 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.

Displaying a 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.

In 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.

The four 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.

"These 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?’".

Thus dawns 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 jokers!)

The 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."

In "The 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 jaws."

Along with 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 gone."

"If we 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 are disposable.

"We are 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.

"Hello? 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 guess."

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 question".

Readers 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 doing philosophy.

"Hello? 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.

"Through 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.

In her 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 an angel.

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.

MAJOR-GEN 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.

Bajwa could 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 correctives."

The author 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 reminiscences.

The book 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 other organisations.

"The 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.

The book 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 emoluments.

According to 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.

The book 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.

Being an 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.

He discusses 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).

The author 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.

"The 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 military power.

The author 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 manner.

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 introspection.


What price globalisation?
Review by D.R.Chaudhry

Globalisation and Culture by John Tomlinson. Polity Press, London. Pages 238. $ 14.

THERE 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 globalisation.

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 or so.

The UNDP’s 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.

The discourse 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.

Globalisation 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.

The 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".

Globalisation 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.

A complex 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 culture.

The mechanics 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 threats.


Key to get rich quick
Review by Bhuvnesh Nauhria

The Penguin Guide to Personal Finance by Ashu Dutt. Penguin Books, New Delhi. Pages 220. Rs 250.

AFTER 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.

Money magazine 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 finance.

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 Indian investor.

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 investments only.

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.

The author 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,

insurance, 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 are missing.

This book 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 instruments.

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 profits
Write view
by Randeep Wadehra

Net Success by Christina Haylock, Len Muscarella and Ron Schultz. Adams Media Corporation, Massachusetts. Pages xvi +320. $ 24.95.

THE 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.

E-commerce had 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, and how!

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.

However, the 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.

It also 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.

The authors 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 the cyberspace.

Yet these 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 practices.

Are there 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.


Pakistan’s ISI: Network of Terror in India by S.K. Ghosh. APH Publishers, New Delhi. Pages xix+267. Rs 600.

Almost every 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 agency.

Nevertheless, 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.

More recently 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.


G.D. Birla: Life and Legacy by M.M. Juneja. Modern Publishers, Hisar. Pages 328. Rs 400.

Along with 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.

There are 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.


What WTO really stipulates
Review by P.K. Vasudeva

World Trade Organisation and India’s Trade Policy in Services by Neela Mukherjee. Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi. Pages 186. Rs 395.

THE 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.

According to 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."

The author has divided this volume into eight chapters and provided tables for easy understanding.

Chapter One 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.

Chapter Two 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.

Chapter Three 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.

Chapter Four 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.

Chapter Five 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.

Chapter Six 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.

Chapter Seven 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 services.

In Chapter 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.


Book extract
At the end of Nehru-Malraux encounter

This is from "The Meaning of India" by Raja Rao.

THERE 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?

Nehru 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.

His first 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?

Nehru had 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 it."

Malraux 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.

You remember 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."

"But," 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."

"Would Gandhi say this to the British?" interrupted Malraux.

"You 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..."

"But if 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.

"Not merely Krishna but the Vedas as well. We are a rational people. Time is of the mind. The mind is of what..."

"Of 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."

"But we too have death," said Nehru almost in a whisper. "But you mock at death with fire" .

"And you?"

"The cemetery, that is with wood and cement. And that’s Europe," concluded Malraux.

Such 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.

"Monsieur 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.

Bhishma is 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."

"But," said Nehru gently, "evil is only misunderstood good, is it not?"

"Then why do you fight the British?"

"Not I, but Gandhi would say, to convert my enemy! Like Bhishma in fact."

"But Bhishma fought a battle."

"We 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."

"Of 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 saint."

"No, 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."

"Yes I 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."

"If Europe is Goya," picked up Nehru, after a moment of deliberation, "what then Monsieur Malraux is — is my country — India?"

"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 Shiva."

"Yes," interrupted Nehru coming back to himself slowly — the prison was gently fading — "but there is Rodin."

"Yes, 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 indelible silence.

The 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.

"I was 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 die?"

"Why 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?