The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, February 4, 2001

Why are Christians different?
Review by Surinder S. Jodhka

Reversal of history
Review by Deepika Gurdev

Demons demystified
Review by H.P. Sah

What is cooking?
Review by Minakshi Chaudhry

WTO: A pro-marketeer’s hopes
Review by Abnash C. Julka

The Godrej who started it all
Review by Jai Narain Sharma

Refugees: abandoned by homeland and disowned by world
Review by Deepak Kumar Singh

Delhi’s unplanned and chaotic progress
Review by Ashu Pasricha

Write view
Gandhi out of sync with modern morality
Review by Randeep Wadehra


Why are
Christians different?
Review by Surinder S. Jodhka

The Christian Clergy in India: Social Structure and Social Roles (Vol. I) by T.K. Oommen and Hunter M. Mambry. Sage Publications, New Delhi. Pages 375. Rs 450.

CHRISTIANITY is a very well-organised religion. Most of the Christian churches in India are, for example, linked to some or the other "denominations" that operate at the national or global level. Becoming a priest in the church or joining the clergy requires the aspirant undergoes a long process of formal training. Christian ministry work is like a profession. In fact in western society, it was considered as one of the four "great traditional professions", the other three being medicine, law and teaching at the university level.

The Christian clergy also has a structure of professional hierarchy. Its members occupy different positions depending on their professional experience and level of training. Theological colleges and training institutions are almost as important for the faith as the Churches are. Unlike in Hinduism, Christianity does not have a distinct social stratum whose members can claim priesthood on the basis of their birth or caste. Any member of the church could become a priest provided the person undergoes the required training.

The Christian Church not only requires that those aspiring to join the clergy undergo formal training, it also undertakes studies to examine the functioning of its training institutions. The book jointly authored by T.K. Oommen, an academic sociologist from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and Hunter P. Mambry, visiting professor at the United Theological College, Bangalore, is one such exercise. Perhaps the most important aspect of the study is that though sponsored by an arm of the church and meant primarily as a critical self-examination, it has been brought out by a well known publisher of academic books and is made available to the wider public as well.

The study was carried out using the popular sociological techniques of fieldwork and data collection such as interviews, questionnaire, observations and content analysis. Apart from providing a brief historical introduction to the Christian communities in India, the book provides an elaborate account of the social characteristics of the Indian clergy and its value orientation. Using the framework of role-analysis, the authors provide an account of the manner in which the members of Christian clergy relate to the church and look at the different aspects of their profession.

Giving an account of the Christian communities in India in the introductory chapters, Oommen and Mambry point out that though Christians account for only a little less than 3 per cent of the total population of India, their numbers are quite substantial in some states of the country. Like other minority religions, they are concentrated in certain pockets. Nearly 65 per cent of all Indian Christians live in the southern states with Kerala having the maximum number (around 32 per cent of all Indian Christians and nearly 20 per cent of the population of the state). The other pockets of Christian concentration are the North-East India (where nearly 13 per cent of the Indian Christians live) and the tribal belt of Chhotanagpur (where they are around 11 per cent of the total Christian population of India). Although Kerala has the maximum number of Indian Christians, it is in some of the North-Eastern states that they are in a majority in the state. For example, they are over 80 per cent of the total population of Mizoram and Nagaland and over 52 per cent in Meghalaya.

Despite these pockets of influence where they not only constitute a substantial segment of the population but also own property, the Indian Christians, according to the authors, are not part of the mainstream of Indian society. According to Oommen and Mambry, it is the Hindi-speaking, Hindu-dominated north of India that essentially constitutes the Indian mainstream and the Christians population is very small in the Hindi-speaking belt of the North. Further, with the exception of a small section of an upwardly mobile educated middle-class among them, a large majority of the Indian Christians are economically weak and are engaged in low prestige occupations. Nearly 75 per cent of them live in rural areas.

Another disability of the Indian Christians is that "usually they do not assume an overall religious identity". They are highly divided not only denominationally but also linguistically. According to one estimate, the Indian Christians are divided among 148 denominations. Their identities are crystallised either as Catholics or as one or another of the numerous Protestant denominations; or as Anglo-Indians, tribal Christians or Syrian Christians. They are usually absorbed into the regional-linguistic milieu. Their attitude towards politics has also been "non-communal". There are, for example, no Christian political parties in India.

Oommen and Mambry also contest the popular view that Christianity in India was a colonial import. Christianity, they contend, was not a western but an eastern religion in that it originated in Asia and not in the West. Moreover, it had come to India much before it went to Europe. More importantly, the Christians living in India today did not come from outside. Virtually all of them are local converts. There were some Christian denominations in India, which were completely autonomous and had consciously rejected westernised Christianity. The plea for indigenisation of Christianity ignored these obvious historical facts and thus was completely misplaced. A phenomenon called "Indian Christianity" was already there.

It was in this context that a study of the Christian clergy, their social background, the nature of their training and their value orientation in relation to the issues concerning contemporary Indian society assumes significance.

Apart from providing a broad perspective on the social structure of the Christian communities in India and a social profile of the members of the clergy, the authors also offer an empirical examination of the professional aspirations of individual clergyman and different dimensions of his role relations. These include issues such as their training, motivation, commitment, role preference, role performance and their relationship with the Church. They also discuss some of the critical issues that concern contemporary Indian society, in particular the minority communities — namely, secularism, communalism, gender equality and the attitudes of the clergy to these issues.

Secularism "is often perceived as the onward march of rationality aided by science and abetted by technology. The scientific temper is believed to be displacing religious values." However, they argue that there was no evidence to suggest that religion was being displaced by science. "What happened in actuality was that certain aspects wrongly attributed to religion disappear or weaken. To be sure, challenged by science and technology religion necessarily underwent a refined definition; it took on new forms and meanings. But it did not disappear." All human experience was at once sacred and secular, spiritual and material.

They confine their empirical exercise to the popular definition of secularism where it is viewed as a process that relegates religion to the private sphere. Their study reveals that the Indian Christian clergy had negotiated the idea of secularism quite well. Though a large majority of the clergy reported that belief in the divinity of Jesus was very important, more than 90 per cent of them believed in the idea of a "personal God". Belief in the existence of a "personal God", according to the two authors, implied lesser emphasis on public rituals which went well with the modern values of secularism.

However, a large majority of the Christian clergy in India advocated a "pro-active" role for the clergy on the question of social justice. Though some of them felt that human beings should worry more about life after death, a large majority of them were for the involvement of the Christian clergy in the programmes of social transformation. Though they advocate social change, not all of them subscribe to modern values. On the question of gender equality, for example, their attitudes were quite ambivalent. While they agreed that men and women should have equal rights in society and that both should participate in the governance of the local congregation, a large number of them also endorsed the view that women ought to be subordinates of men.

Though the first of its kind, this is an extremely useful work that would be of interest not only to those working with the Church, but also for the students of Indian society in general. The sociological perspective used for understanding the process of professional socialisation of the clergy makes it a useful work for students of professions in India.

The book should motivate leaders of other religious communities in India to undertake similar studies of their clergy and make them available to the general public. Such exercises would go a long way in removing some of the misgivings in the popular Indian mindset about the "other" communities.


Reversal of history
Review by Deepika Gurdev

The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher J. Koch. Penguin Books. London. Pages 278.

ALMOST 17 years after the controversial film ‘‘The Year of Living Dangerously’’ was banned by the then Indonesian President Suharto, there has been a role reversal of sorts.

The book written by Tasmanian author Christopher J. Koch attempts to be a fictional account of what was happening in Indonesia but the parallel to the regime that reigned was too plain to miss. So the controversial book that took the avtar of an even more controversial movie was banned by President Suharto even before it was made.

Now the film and the book are in spotlight yet again with the lifting of the ban on its screening. The book that is a compelling tale of romance amid the political turmoil of the 20th century Indonesia attempted to capture the former President’s tumultuous rise to power.

The year was 1965 and the fiercely nationalistic government of god-king Sukarno had brought Indonesia to the brink of chaos. The political commentary woven into a tale of romance tells readers how events in Indonesia were shaped in that telling year and how thousands of suspected communists were almost wiped out from Indonesia.

Journalist Guy Hamilton of the Australian Broadcasting Service (ABS) is sent to report on Indonesia in times of change. "Indonesia was once again the major story on the world file, as it so often was in that era before the Vietnam war swallowed everything." On arrival he meets the hard to miss Chinese-Australian cameraman Billy Kwan. "There is no way, unless you have unusual self-control, of disguising the expression on your face when you meet a dwarf." That is Billy Kwan for you. But let not his height be a give away. He understands the wayang (drama) that is unfolding in the country perfectly well. In addition to his impeccable contacts, he also maintains a dossier on almost all correspondents and key players in Indonesia.

Kwan not just opens the doors for Hamilton when it comes to the government; he also shows him the places and people he needs to meet to understand the full impact of the events in Indonesia. His disillusionment with his hero Sukarno propels him to encourage Hamilton report on the poverty and misery in Indonesia. By reporting about Indonesia beyond Jakarta, which Kwan firmly believes only Hamilton can do, driven as he by his fresh perspectives and his recent arrival in the country, Kwan hopes to fulfill his social responsibility. So it is that Kwan injects romance into the novel by ensuring that Hamilton continues to meet Jill Bryant who was introduced to him at a party. "Privacy was difficult to find in Jakarta," even though Jill happens to be the woman both he and Hamilton love.

With this begins the complex drama of loyalty and betrayal that is played out in the eye of a political storm. "Swift evening spreads across Jakarta….explosions, flames of overturned cars, satisfying smash of glass. Konfrantasi in action. Fear." Even as Hamilton acquires information about the dramatic changes that are taking place, Jill who has access to key information through her job at the British Embassy providing assistance to Colonel Ralph lets it slip that something "terribly important happened tonight".

It all happens as Jill apologises to Hamilton for being late. One thing leads to another. In this case love leads to trust that is only to be betrayed. Jill knows she would lose her job if the news leaked and lets Hamilton know of it as well. The news that she breaks up would end up breaking a lot of other things as well. Breaking news, breaking relationships.

So to prove she believes in Hamilton she lets this information slip: "Our Hong Kong people have passed on some information about a ship that’s just left Shanghai. Apparently, its on its way here with some secret consignment, courtesy of the Chinese Government." This only goes to reveal that the take-over has some major backing. Hamilton is thrilled with the news but disappointed that he cannot use it. Not for long though.

Jill tells him about the uprising and insists he leave the country with her. But Hamilton has a change of heart, the reporter speaks and he ends up leaking the information to the world. Despite the looming perils, he does not leave but moves up north to face mobs and find out more about the uprising. Here he ends up losing an eye when bashed in the face by a rifle weilding soldier.

In the end though there are happy endings as Hamilton gives up the biggest story for love. When the communist coup fails and the Indonesian military starts its infamous massacre of communists, Hamilton returns to his love and his child with a new vision of the future.


Demons demystified
Review by H.P. Sah

Indian Demonology by N.N. Bhattacharya

THE rationality of science lies in its objective methodology which is governed by the rules of logic. This logical character of scientific reasoning is signified by the suffix "logy", which is added to many sciences or branches of science like biology, sociology, topology, etc.

So in a strict sense, all sciences are logical. But in a derived sense any systematic study, which tries to explain specific events of a particular field with the help of some general laws or principles, can also be called a science.

It is in this derived sense that theology, Jainology and the like are deemed to be science. "Demonology" can be added as a new entry in the list of sciences or systematic studies. Perhaps N.N. Bhattacharya is the first to do this kind of study.

Prof Bhattacharya’s new work "Indian Demonology" at once draws one’s attention although it may seem quite objectionable to many pedagogues who always become restless on the coinage of a new term. Well, it may be doubtful whether "Indian Demonology" is a scientific study but it is a very systematic study of a particular area of Indian mythology and there can be no doubt about it.

Three of the most easily recognisable demonsA further objection can be raised against "Indian Demonology". One can question its utility and worth. Methodological correctness and elegance cannot make a study useful or worth pursuing. One can ask: in what respect is "Indian Demonology" a useful study? Obviously one cannot expect that this work will bring some demons to a scientific laboratory to be desected or help one to find them in a fossil form.

In fact, it is a survey of Indian mythology from a specific point of view and in this respect it can prove to be a step to understand the structure of our ancient culture and throw light on the "myth-making tendency" of human beings which helps them shape their surrounding in which all cultural and cognitive activities take place.

Human psyche creates legendary heroes to set ideals of life and inspire people to follow them in public and private life. But these heroes will lose all their valour and glory if no villains are created to challenge them and to make occasions to show their power and wisdom. Thus demons are needed to make gods gods.

Moreover, the character of these demons manifest those levels and aspects of human psyche which people hate overtly but which they also want to enjoy as forbidden fruits. A study of demonology may help us understand those hidden aspects and tendencies of human psyche which deeply contribute to the structuring of specific features of a particular culture. So, "Indian Demonology" certainly has some worth, it is not totally useless.

A classification of demons as "transparent", "translucent" and "opaque" from morphological point of view, or again, as celestial, atmospheric, terrestrial and abstract, from the point of view of the habitat, may appear very funny in the beginning. But if one penetrates the subject with patience, one will understand the reason behind such classifications.

Some modern novelists who have tried to rewrite the story of the Ramayana from a different perspective have tried to completely humanise demons. However, the detailed study of these creatures of Vedic and puranic mythology presented by Prof Bhattacharya enables us to see that a forced humanisation of all these demons leads to certain misgivings regarding their nature and suffuse our vision to understand some of them as truly human. Rakshasas, for example, were originally human beings and represented a particular way of life or culture which found abominable the Aryas and before long they were denounced by the latter who called them non-human demons. If Asuras, Daityas and Pisachas — all are placed in the same class with Rakshasas — it will be impossible to understand the functions of these other type of mythological beings and some important aspects of the development of Vedic culture will remain shrouded in this misgiving. That is one of the needs of classifying demons into various types.

Rama is against Ravana, and Vritra is against Indra, but the two pairs are very different from each other in their nature. Ravana is a real human being. Vritra, the atmospheric demon, according to Bhattacharya, is not a real human being. His enmity with Indra — the Aryan leader — is to be conceived in a symbolic way within a certain historical background.

Such nuances help understand the depth of mythology and develop a new insight into hidden facts and messages in the literature of ancient tradition.

Prof Bhattacharya’s "Indian Demonology" is worth reading indeed.


What is cooking?
Review by Minakshi Chaudhry

Non-vegetarian Cook Book by Tahlina Kaul. Fusion Books, New Delhi. Pages 104. Rs 100.

THIS book has some innovative, mouth-watering non-vegetarian recipes which are simple and easy to cook and will have a universal appeal. In all, there are 101 recipes, mainly of chicken, mutton, prawns and fish.

"Any chef must include India’s mouth watering non-vegetarian dishes in his repertoire. Just the aroma of steaming Hyderabadi biryani, the sight of sizzling tandoori chicken or a succulent prawn vindaloo is enough to make the most jaded taste buds demand instant gratification," the author says.

Amusingly none of these three dishes are included (at least under the same names) in the recipes of the book! After writing down these recipes in the introduction, the author seems to have forgotten about them, leaving the reader high and dry.

The author was probably in a hurry to jot down the non-vegetarian recipes as some very basic facts and ingredients have escaped her mind. I say "escaped her mind" because she is not a novice in cooking. As mentioned in the back cover of the book, Tahlina Kaul grew up in Delhi in a household where the kitchen was a melting pot of cuisine from all over the world. Armed with this early exposure, she soon made it to the world of food. First by running a successful catering venture, "Mirch Masala" and subsequently by holding cookery classes for specialised cuisine like the Kashmiri, Thai and the Italian. India’s top notch company BPL put her in charge of holding special classes for microwave cooking.

The recipes have not been arranged properly in separate sections such as chicken, mutton, fish and prawn. If a person wants to try a fish dish, he or she will really have to fish in the contents or index to find out what he or she needs.

In some recipes punctuation is so bad that it misleads and confuses the reader. For example, in "patra ni macchi" a (Parsi dish), the second last sentence in the method is mind-boggling. ("In a steam pan boil water along with, vinegar, oil and curry leaves. On the steam wrack. Put the packets of the fish and simmer...".)

Unfortunately in many of the recipes, certain items are missing from the ingredient list but are mentioned in the method and vice versa. For example, in the first recipe of the book prawn fried pulav one tsp red chilli garlic paste has been listed but in the method it is not mentioned! In "varta" masala (of South India) and "balchao" prawn, oil is not mentioned in the list of ingredients but in the method it is there! In "patra ni machhi" green coriander is mentioned in the method; however the list of ingredients does not contain it.

A glaring miss in many recipes is the amount of oil used. Most of the dishes are prepared in two tblsp (approximately 30 ml) of oil. The writer states that one kilogram of mutton or chicken or fish and onions, ginger, garlic and dry spices can be sauteed brown (even fried) in a mere two tablespoon of oil! (I don’t think this is possible.)

In a few dishes the oil mentioned is half a teaspoon.

Lamb Kolhapuri style would be an ideal recipe for me to discuss. "One kg mutton cut into two small pieces" (I don’t think the two pieces thus cut would be small! It can be a printing mistake, maybe the author means 12 or 20 pieces.) The recipe mentions two separate marinade mixtures whereas there is only one marinade mixture. It appears that the list of ingredients is wrongly titled as marinade mixture. (It would surely confuse the beginner).

Further the recipe lists half a teaspoon of oil. This oil is so much that it is impossible to heat oil in a pan and add to it the dried red chillies and the cinnamon. She says, "Saute for few seconds, drain from oil and keep aside. To the same oil add cardamom, cloves and the coriander seeds. Roast till a bit dark and fragrant, drain and keep aside with the red chilli...In the same pan add a bit more oil and add to it the onion and saute till golden. Add the ginger and garlic. Saute..." It appears unbelievable.

Malai chicken has just one tblsp oil that is used for the marinade mixture as well as to saute the chicken pieces. In chicken "varta" curry, one kg chicken pieces are to be sauteed till golden, two onions, ginger, garlic are also to be sauteed till golden in three tblsp of oil. In "dahi raan", one kg mutton and onions along with other masala have to be sauteed till golden brown in two tblsp of oil. And there are many such recipes which make you disbelieve in them in view of the little oil used in their preparation.

The methods of some of the recipes are not clear and lack complete guidelines. For example, in mutton biryani, the food colours — red, green and yellow — have not been explained as how they are to be used. In fish "kofta" curry, which fish has to be used is not mentioned. It has been stated that "remove bone" but how? What about the fins? Is there a specific method of removing these before mashing the flesh?

The book is an effort by the author to uphold the virtue of a non-vegetarian diet and demystify cooking good food which is thought to be a complicated and cumbersome process.


WTO: A pro-marketeer’s hopes
Review by Abnash C. Julka

India and World Trade Organisation: Planning and Development by P.K. Vasudeva. APH Publishing Corporation, New Delhi. Pages xxi+345. Rs 800.

THE second half of the 20th century witnessed progressive integration of the world’s economies through a phenomenal expansion of international trade flows, rising direct foreign investment, and an explosive growth of international finance. Such internationalisation of capital and accumulation has been attributed to policy initiatives and the multilateral framework of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD or the World Bank).

As a matter of fact, in the aftermath of World War II another international economic institution, the International Trade Organisation (ITO), was envisaged but it did not materialise. Issues related to liberalisation of trade were sought to be taken up at the GATT Rounds till the new institution, the WTO, emerged.

Formally effective from January 1, 1995, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is built on the legacy of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). It marked the culmination of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, concluded on December 15, 1993, after seven years of protracted negotiations. The Final Act was signed on April 15, 1994, at Marrakesh (Morocco) and the WTO was conceived as a world governing body to oversee international trade.

Its main task is to make the multilateral trading system credible and transparent. Having quasi-judicial bodies to adjudicate disputes, the WTO has privileges and immunities similar to those accorded to specialised agencies of the United Nations.

With this development, the troika of the IMF, World Bank and the WTO resumed work in unison to further speed up the process of globalisation. The Final Act explicitly stated, "With a view to achieving greater coherence in global economic policy-making, the WTO shall cooperate, as appropriate, with the International Monetary Fund and with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and its affiliated agencies."

A concerted effort would thus continue to be made to create a commercial environment which is more conducive to the multilateral exchange of goods and services and also promote other elements of globalisation.

The ensuing international regime, with all its inequities and asymmetries, is touted to benefit all participants in this game. While the gains for advanced capitalist countries are guaranteed for obvious reasons, even the developing economies are promised rich dividends. They are supposed to gain market access for their exports and new technology through international transfers.

A continuing reallocation of manufacturing activities from industrial to developing countries and the spread of international production networks hold the promise of "catching up" by the lesser mortals.

When India signed the WTO agreement, closely on the heels of the Narasimha Rao-Manmohan Singh policy of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, a nationwide debate followed. Not only the subject experts but even other sections of society reacted. The response varied from pure rhetoric to hard politico-economic logic.

The reasons for the outburst are not hard to find. For over four decades India remained insulated from internal as well as external competition. Dependence on an artificial/captive market distorted investments and produced a low-quality, high-cost economy in most areas. A non-performing and inefficient system survived on populist measures and a culture of doles.

In spite of an enviable rate of saving, the rate of growth remained low for some three decades. And, when a slightly higher growth trajectory was attained, it was thanks to heavy borrowing, both internal and external.

A state-dependent mindset could not have reacted differently to the new policy pronouncement espousing free competition. Ideological baggage and vested interests also contributed to the turmoil.

However, it does not follow that all is well with the new policy regime. Objective studies have been, and are being, undertaken to understand the reality and answer complex questions emanating from India’s honeymoon with globalisation.

The book under review is an attempt in that direction. In the main, the work seeks to analyse the effect of WTO agreement on the agriculture, textiles and clothing sectors in India and suggest future course of action with respect to these areas. After the necessary preliminaries, developments from GATT to the WTO are traced in a comprehensive manner. It is pointed out that promotion of trade without discrimination continues to be the guiding principle of these organisations. The WTO is projected as a system of rules dedicated to open, fair and undistorted competition.

Since competition forms the bottom line of the proceedings, the author quickly moves to gauging India’s competitive advantage. Michael Porter’s 4-D model is used for bringing out the competitive advantage in relevant sectors. "Factor conditions", "demand conditions", "related and supporting industries", and "firm’s strategy, structure and rivalry" are listed as the determinants of national advantage.

As a theoretical framework, the model might sound esoteric but, to this reviewer at least, its applicability and operational utility in the chosen context appears limited. However credit is due to the author for a systematic presentation of the case and modification of the framework to arrive at his conclusions.

And, the conclusions should bring cheers to the sagging Indian spirit. May it be agriculture or textiles and clothing, Dr Vasudeva sees "tremendous potential" for India on the completion of the implementation period.

In the case of agriculture, it is contended that tariffication and subsequent reduction in the bound rates, coupled with the removal of production and export subsidies, would work to India’s advantage. Mammoth export potential for fruits and vegetables and processed food is visualised. As a policy input, integration of processing with cultivation is suggested.

The author feels that by developing branded rice of consistent quality, the world market can be captured. In the case of wheat, he recommends durum instead of low valued break wheat. Recommendations for tapping wheat, poultry and dairy potential in the home market also figure. In particular, the development of food industry is advocated for triggering growth and creation of jobs.

However, for translating opportunities into achievements, the author repeatedly stresses the role of technology, infrastructure and appropriate institutions. Here common sense and expertise merge. He does well to cite various provisions in allaying widespread fears relating to maximum possible support to agriculture, market access and patenting. One only wishes that additional analytic support for the same were available.

At places he states the obvious and even makes recommendations which do not seem to immediately follow from his analysis. Since considerable space has been devoted to the agricultural sector, it was expected that the likely movement of terms of trade would be projected in the event of India becoming a major exporter of the listed agricultural products. The issue is significant because all calculations of future gains revolve around it; the small country assumption does not hold in this case.

In the case of textiles and clothing, once again Porter’s "diamond" model is applied. Here the analysis is more convincing. The author observes that due to domestic rivalry, India is maintaining a competitive advantage in this sector. The availability of cotton, cheap labour, educated supervisory staff, technical and managerial skills and lax pollution control norms have been identified as India’s strengths. India has done well in the past but removal of quotas (when the WTO accord comes into force) would bring greater competition at the doorsteps and the situation calls for a greater degree of preparedness.

The entire scenario is imaginatively captured by the author. In his own words, "Be it in the international market or be it in the domestic market, the implication of the GATT (WTO) agreement is greater competition. And the moral is also very simple. India has to become an efficient producer of textiles and garments to face up to competition."

To improve textile and garment exports, he suggests technological upgradation, strategic alliances and setting up of joint ventures. He sees no major threat to the existence of small manufacturers in the garment segment because of the presence of significant diseconomies of scale in production, if not in marketing. In addition, they (the small manufacturers) can form strategic groupings for retail sales in large export markets, he goes on to add.

Undoubtedly, the work espouses the reformists’ cause and flaunts a pro-market philosophy. Guarded optimism about India’s economic future is amply reflected in the entire description. One should not expect definite statements, and should discount those when made, to sum up a situation in a flux. The methods of analysis in social sciences are not versatile enough to capture the consequences of change wherein even the givens tend to change unpredictably.

On the whole, this work is a welcome addition to the literature on economic liberalisation, globalisation and India’s prospects. There is something for both students and policy makers in it. Well done Colonel! But there is enough scope for improvement in the next edition.


The Godrej who started it all
Review by Jai Narain Sharma

Final Victory: The Life and Death of Naval Pirojsha Godrej by B.K. Karanjia Viking, New Delhi. Pages 243. Rs 395.

THIS is the story of an industrialist who achieved what very few industrialists are able to do — win the esteem and regard of his workers so that they came to believe that he could cause them no wrong. A bond was established between him and them that was almost legendary. He had an eye for the most scarce resource of all — talent; and he could bring out the best in his team. No one worked under him; everyone worked with him.

Emperors rule, but leaders motivate. He could motivate the workforce to the highest pitch where they became emotionally involved in the company. He could galvanise them into action and make the job exciting. This was the secret of his success in the Godrej.With him as the head of the organisation, every worker was made to feel that he was not merely a cog in a wheel and he was not attending to a forge or a furnance but was helping to build and advance a great industrial enterprise, to errect a national monument.

He was deeply involved in the well-being of his workers and dealt with their problems with compassion. No industrial family has shown greater personal involvement in the problem of housing and education, medical care and welfare of its employees as the house of Godrej. Mrs Lillan Carter, the mother of the former US President Jimmy Carter, who worked for two years at Vikhroli as a Peace Corps member, had said that what was being done for the Godrej workers was comparable to the best achieved in the West.

In the entire history of India there have been very few families which singlehandedly and without public participation in share capital have done as much as the Godrej family for the industrialisation of the country.

Naval, had no formal education but managed to take his enterprise to the top and compete successfully with large public companies with lakhs of share-holders. He was chosen by his father to join the business straight out of high school. Working from the shop floor upwards, Naval opted for a hands-on approach in tackling problems, never expecting others to do what he would not undertake himself. His affinity with machines led him to develop the Godrej Tool Room and to initiate the highly successful typewriter and refrigerator that made Godrej a household name.

It also fell to Naval to transform Godrej from a household name into a strong brand name in a few decades. As a voracious reader, particularly of business periodicals, he was aware of buzz words like building and managing brand equity, brand awareness, and so on.

There is little evidence to suggest that Ardeshir Godrej, the pioneering founder of the Godrej enterprise, who began with the manufacture of locks in 1897, was aware of brand as a strategic asset and as a company’s primary source of competitive advantage. Remarkably, however, with the prescience that was characteristic of the man, he instinctively put into practice several concepts that today go into building brands and managing brand equity — self-reliance as the key to freedom, making goods as good as if not better than the British makes, the unpickability of his locks, the fire-resistant quality of his safes and soaps made out of vegetable oils instead of the socially unacceptable animal fat. Thus slowly but steadily Godrej became a name to reckon with synonymous with quality. It implied certain values that made its production programme unique.

Naval’s contribution to larger society was in line with the concept of trusteeship of wealth. This concept was again initiated by his uncle Ardeshir who donated way back in 1921 a sum of Rs 3 lakh to the Tilak Swaraj Fund. Mahatma Gandhi was deeply touched by this gesture and said this was the highest amount he had received, that too from a Parsi. Given the time, it was certainly a daring thing to do. It evoked the wrath of British rulers who considered it an act of defiance. They issued a secret circular prohibiting government departments from purchasing Godrej products. Mahatma Gandhi was so enraged by this that he wrote: "Because Mr Godrej contributed to the Tilak Swaraj Fund, the ‘just’ government has boycotted his safes. How should the people deal with such a malicious and vindictive government, if not by resorting to non-cooperation with it?"

Brought up in an atmosphere of social contract, Naval contributed expertise, energy and funds for housing not only for his employees, but eventually for the general populace. One of his few unfulfilled goals was a model township for the less privileged to be constructed by the Soonabai Pirojsha Godrej Foundation, named after his mother.

Naval not only shared his wealth, but gave generously of his time and energy for the causes dear to him. Indeed, he got so involved, particularly in research projects that his friend Vasant Sheth of the Great Eastern Shipping Corporation recorded this as an "extraordinary part of his character. Pure research takes years and requires large funds. Naval realised that without this research there cannot be any real development. In this matter he was very different from common business people who think only of immediate profits and not of long-term real developments."

About one-third of the dividends declared by Godrej, the holding company, went into the Pirojsha Godrej Foundation.The income from the dividends is utilised for promoting the objectives of the foundation, which include funding medical relief to victims of natural disasters. Apart from promoting culture and fine arts (through the Godrej Dance Academy), aid has been given to sea cadets (Boating Station), libraries, schools and blood banks. The Godrej Baug for low income people, the Red Cross Disaster Centre at Vikhroli and the Pirojsha Godrej Memorial Wing at Breach Candy Hospital are all born of this Foundation.

Eminent jurist N. A. Palkhiwala recalls how the last time he met Naval at Godrej Baug. Naval had arrived driving his small car, attired as always in simple clothes: Not for him the posh cars in which lesser mortals move. "I felt proud to be in the presence of a man who had created such enormous wealth for the nation and spent so little of it on himself".

Rich in detail, the book brings out Naval’s humility and simplicity, his tremendous drive and energy, his quick anger at perceived injustice, his mischievous wit and love of sports, especially sailing. Full of anecdotes, this lively account of an extraordinary life, affirms Naval’s place as one of the builders of the House of Godrej.

Biographies of legends make absorbing reading. But when the story is told by an expert like B. K. Karanjia, the noted journalist and author, perfect cameos emerge and the past comes back to life.


Refugees: abandoned by homeland and disowned by world
Review by Deepak Kumar Singh

B.S. Chimni (ed.), International Refugee Law: A Reader, Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2000, pp.613, Rs.695.

THE changed post-Cold War world order is marked by an apparent contradiction. While the advocates of globalization constantly harp on the ever increasing need to do away with ‘artificial’ boundaries in pursuit of free flow of capital and goods, they are busy erecting ‘walls of protection’ to prevent the unwanted from entering or seeking asylum leading to the establishment of what has come to be called the non-entrée regime. Ironically, this is truer of the industrialized west than the developing world. Illegal migrations, for example, are being viewed by European governments as their biggest problem. In Europe, race is a major factor and non-whites face discrimination. Across that continent, once home to political and economic refugees, especially from the Communists nations, the walls are going up on the boundaries of ‘Fortress Europe’. Moreover, the industrialized West is currently focussing all its attention on providing humanitarian assistance and protection to potential refugees inside their countries, thus pointing to the "anachronistic nature of the concept of sovereignty".

Such fundamental shifts in the Western perceptions of the refugee issue in the post-Cold War period have clearly inflicted a severe blow to the original purpose of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – the principal international agency concerned with the assistance and protection of refugees. As the author himself observes, "Under pressure from the powerful and rich donor countries, it is presently being metamorphosed from a refugee to a humanitarian organization reflected in its growing involvement with internally displaced persons (IDPs)". It is this underlying reality, among others, that the author seeks to address in this book by sharing the concern of the Third World countries that such a shift may provide a pretext for the developed West to intervene in their internal and external affairs.

B.S. Chimni, a Professor at the School of International Studies, J.N.U. who specializes in the field of International law in general and refugee studies in particular is well known to the students of migration studies as a prolific author. Intended as an introductory book on refugees, which is what Readers generally do, this book far surpasses its original intent and ends up debating issues of critical importance relating to the everyday world of refugees whom the author rightly calls "the truly wretched of the earth".

Some of these crucial issues relate to the uneven quality of refugee law literature indicating huge gaps and dominance of positivist tradition treating the domain of international refugee law as an abstract system of rules which can be identified, objectively interpreted and enforced. The author argues that while certain issues like the elements which constitute the 1951 Convention definition of refugees have attracted wide attention there are considerable gaps in other areas of crucial concern such as, the distinction between refugees and economic migrants, the rights of refugees, legal aspects of the solution of voluntary repatriation and the law of state responsibility for causing refugee flows. The dominance of positivist school in International refugee law scholarship is seen as a serious problem by Chimni for it has resulted in the absence of a tradition in the literature on refugee law of debating issues from a wider social science perspective leading to what he calls the "fragmentation of social sciences". As he himself puts it "The domain outside the system of rules is designated as politics which may assume the language of either power or morality. This failing to engage with the world beyond rules is rendered deeply problematic in the case of international refugee law by the fact that there are few rules in areas of critical importance like the responsibility of states causing refugee outflows or solutions to the global refugee problem".

The most challenging task, perhaps, in piecing a Reader together is to place it in a broader historical perspective and that is precisely what Chimni does the best. By locating the International refugee rights regime within the dominant power discourse in the international system, Chimni emphasizes the need to go beyond the apparently humanitarian language of international refugee law for it so conveniently camouflages its deeply political character. It is in this context that the politics of language becomes critical since the powerful states "exercise dominance in the international system not by means of brute force, but through the medium of language, with the language of the law playing a crucial role. International laws do not evolve in vacuum but reflect the power relations which inform the international system enabling the dominant actors to write their interests into law. International refugee law, notwithstanding its humanitarian core, is no exception to this systemic reality".

Chimni begins with what can be truly called the most comprehensive treatment of the concept of refugee by delving deep into its multifaceted nature for he believes that " the definition of a ‘refugee’ in international law is of critical importance for it can mean the difference between life and death for an individual seeking asylum". However, he is quick in cautioning the readers that "while definitions help ‘impose finite limits on human problems’ they often ‘tend to raise form over substance, class over need and characterization over purpose’. At this point they become ideological or political devices to arbitrarily delimit or extend the problem". The obvious reference here is to the manner in which the 1951 Convention definition of refugee was used by the developed Capitalist West during the cold war to score ideological victory over the rival Communist regimes by being willing host to those fleeing their Communist ruled states and the manner in which it is presently being used by them to prevent their entry into their countries.

Drawing upon a huge body of literature both from refugee experts and International Law specialists, Chimni provides an overview of the development of International refugee rights regime starting from the League of Nations period through the Cold War era to the contemporary phase of post- Cold War world order by drawing our attention to some of the most fundamental changes which have brought about a radical change in the very nature of the protection regime created in the aftermath of the second world war. The most significant development in this context is the emergence of what has come to be called the idea of a ‘safe heaven’ or ‘safety zone’. The notion of a safe heaven or a safety zone which originated during the Kurdish problem in the aftermath of the Gulf war symbolizes the restrictive practices of developed countries towards the asylum seekers since it leaves the internally displaced or the prospective refugees with no option but to look for a ‘safer’ place within the country of origin. Citing the example of Iraq and former Yugoslavia, Chimni demonstrates how the idea of a ‘safe heaven’ was conceived and conceptualized by those for whom the ideological underpinnings of the cold war now made no sense in the vastly changed contemporary world. Refugees, particularly from the developing world, now had no ‘ideological’ or ‘strategic’ value for the Western democracies. Elaborating upon the concept of safe heaven in the context of the Kurdish issue, Chimni uncovers the hidden agenda of the West by showing how the Western countries connived with Turkey in order to prevent the kurds from seeking asylum in Turkey. The denial by Turkey to provide asylum to the Kurds and its decision to provide ‘humanitarian aid’ at the border - an outcome of civil war instigated by the Western powers – was condoned rather than condemned by the West. The same story was repeated in former Yugoslavia a year later in mid-December 1992 when the towns of Gorazde, Zepa, Tuzla and Sarajevo were declared as safe areas by the Security Council thus formally legitimizing the institution of safe heaven at the cost of the right of people to seek safety outside.

Chimni draws interesting parallel between a safe heaven and a prison house by highlighting the helplessness of the internally displaced in seeking refuge into the world outside. One can not do better than quote him at length, "It is a prison because escape into the world ‘outside’ is not a serious possibility; the choice that it offers is between the confines of the zone and an unsafe world in which survival is a distinct impossibility. There is no available space which is ‘outside’ the ‘outside’. Rather, the prison house is constructed and maintained by those outside the outside".

The last chapter dealing with the Legal Condition of Refugees in India draws upon a number of important writings on the subject and raises important questions for considerations of the policy makers as well as those specializing in the area. It covers the entire gamut of India’s experience with different kinds of refugee flows right since its independence.

While India enjoys the reputation of being a very generous host to asylum seekers the world over, most contributors feel that its generosity is not matched by its commitment to provide long term solution to such problems. This is argued on the basis of the fact that India is neither a party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol nor has it evolved any domestic legal or legislative framework to deal with refugees. In the absence of such frameworks both at the national and international level, the critics argue, India deals with such problems at the politico-administrative level by preferring bilateral negotiations than binding itself to multi-lateral international treaties which might constrict its freedom of action. All this has resulted in the lack of a clear and coherent policy towards refugees who enjoy no better a status than that of the aliens under the Indian Municipal law. Resultantly, different groups of refugees are treated differently in India.

Despite such limitations, however, the contributors agree that Indian courts have creatively and judiciously made use of the provisions of the 1951 Convention and other international human rights Covenants to uphold the rights of refugees particularly when such acts are not in contravention with Indian Municipal law. The Supreme Court has consistently upheld the principle of non-refoulement (the right of refugees not to be returned forcibly) – the cardinal principle of international refugee law. For example, the 1996 Supreme Court verdict in the National Human Rights Commission V. State of Arunachal Pradesh and another is hailed as a landmark judgement in the area of protection of refugee rights. However, a question frequently asked in the refugee studies circle is whether such instances of judicial activism can be a substitute for legislative framework. As observed by Justice J.S. Verma, former Chief Justice of India "The attempt to fill the void by judicial creativity can only be a temporary phase. Legislation alone will provide permanent solution".

While it is difficult to disagree with the view that India must have a domestic legal and legislative framework to help guide its response to refugee issue, one is not sure if India should go ahead and ratify the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees when the international refugee rights regime itself is in a state of great influx.

The major strength of the book lies in laying out an impressive framework, which makes it possible for the author to undertake what can convincingly be called the most comprehensive compendium on refugees till date. Remarkable for its range of issues and depth of enquiry, this Reader is sure to remain as the most significant entry point in the life world of refugees for a long time to come.


Delhi’s unplanned and chaotic progress
Review by
Ashu Pasricha

Delhi: Development and Change by I. Mohan. APH Publishing, New Delhi. Pages 177. Rs 500.

MANY thousands of years ago man emerged from a shadowy background, of which we know little, to become a farmer. From living as an animal he appears to have become gradually something more than an animal, indeed beginning to exercise quite unanimal-like powers of choice and judgement. And yet man was, and still is in a wide sense, an animal amongst other animals in a setting of natural phenomena.

As Carlo Cipolla reminds us, there are nine planets in the solar system which we know, although this may be only a small part of the universe of unbelievably large dimensions that we are just beginning to discover. One of these nine planets is the earth, and it seems to be the smallest of these nine, but has a relatively high density. This earth planet is covered with a thin film of matter which weighs perhaps one thousand-millionth of that of the planet itself, a hardly detectable phenomenon in planetary terms. And yet this thin film of living things is to us the fundamental circumstance of our existence.

Man is but a part of this film matter, a very recent arrival in it, too, and although he has vastly superior powers and abilities to those of his fellow animals and plants. Like them, too, he cannot live without water. Even at his most mobile he is firmly attached to the earth; like the birds he may use as a platform for flight, but cling to it he must. Despite his fertile inventiveness he is lost without the products of the earth, for food, for manufacture. He cannot survive without vegetation, without the products of successive layers of the earth’s crust, without the rain, the sun, the wind, which form his changing and yet changeless setting just as much as they form the setting of all other animals and all other plants. Man is part of the ecology of the earth: a system of relationships between the earth, its atmosphere, its climate, its vegetation, and its inhabitants of all kinds, which is of great and stunning complexity, and which is yet and everyday experience for all men.

The occasion to ponder over this subject is the book ‘‘Delhi: Development and Change’’ by scholar-bureaucrat I. M. Mohan. This is the history of Delhi, the Capital of India. Starting with Indraprastha of the Mahabharata legend, its history usually takes a gigantic leap of almost 2000 years into the eighth century AD. Then the Tomara Rajputs moved into the hills of south Delhi to found the settlement of Anangpur and later the citadel of Lal Kot. Little is said of what was happening in the Delhi area during the thousands of years before the terrible Mahabharata war (if the war ever happened, that is) and what transpired during the centuries between this war and the coming of the Rajputs.

There is, in fact, enough available evidence for us to weave a connected account of Delhi’s ancient past. This evidence reveals that the history of Delhi is not simply a story of cities built at different sites at different times but a history of many settlements, some urban, many more rural in nature. In its earliest part, it goes back to a distant time before cities or settled villages emerged.

As ancient and modern boundaries do not coincide, it is a good idea to be liberal in demarcating the region. This will include not only today’s Old and New Delhi but also neighbouring areas such as Faridabad district of Haryana and Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pardesh. The selection of this broader area can be justified on geographical grounds and has the advantage of giving us a wide canvas to work on.

Ever since human settlements started on this planet; the concept of living in groups started. When they became overcrowded an organic form of growth revealed the formation of street pattern with residential and commercial areas and consequently so much was reduced the street width, in greed of encroaching land that thoughts started creeping in about merits and demerits of a street with solutions in the form of urban renewal by techniques of enveloping and conservative surgery. On account of poverty and lack of employment, the residents for their livelihood started opening shops on the front, a tradition that still exists in the developing countries, created chaos for which authority became more vigilant. Whether that was in the era of 3000 BC, of Mohenjodaro city or in the context of the present-day cities, the emotional concepts of living along streets is identical.

Every street acquired a monumental status, the remembrances of which never die, which gave a concept of preserving cultural heritage for which the higher courts are intervening to keep many such spots of historical importance for conservation. The example of this is the great Ghalib residence at Ballimaran which has been ordered by the courts for preservation despite hindrances of removal of a commercial set-up there. It is revealed from the map of the Walled City that maximum conservation sites exist in the area. Imagine the fate of Queen Razia who ruled Delhi once lies in a grave in a small room-size area in a street near Turkman Gate and is preserved. Over the graves of poet Zauk, toilets were built in the Nabi Karim area of Pharganj which when it came to its notice the apex court ordered the removal of encroachments to an alternative site and to clear the grave of the late poet.

The author has witnessed tram services moving along Nai Sarak and other areas in the Walled City during the early sixties. The MRTS under consideration shall also pass through this area.

Will it help the system? This question cannot be ruled out but let us hope for the best at this stage. Pedestrians generally feel difficulty in moving along corridors. The author offers a few suggestions on traffic issues like slow and fast traffic needs separation and pedestrians being given more prominence.

The word kuchas, katras, chajjas and phatak appear to be very familiar in the Walled City. The katras haVE been put after the name of a male buffalo calf. The gateways called phataks are as old as 500 years or more. But could these be retained in all areas where urban renewal surgery has been proposed? As per the zonal plans, it is desired to prepare an integrated scheme and provide space for car parking and greenery.

The various streets bear the names of the activity that took place earlier there. Among these are Chandani Chowk, Ballimaran, Shardhanand Marg, Maliwara, Frashkhana, Lalkuan, Nai Sarak, Churiwalan, Bazar Shah Turkman Gate, Sita Ram Bazar and Matia Mahal. In the adjoining areas, the streets Pahar Ganj and Sadar Bazar are quite famous. Those are so well linked with historical events that every small door may even require protection. The eatables sold from those ends find no synonym. An analysis of the distribution of shops reveals several interesting details.

Written in a style aimed at accuracy as well as clarity, the book will be of interest to historians, students of history, general readers — in fact, anybody who is interested in Delhi’s development.

Apart from providing for the first time an account of Delhi’s history which is both scholarly and accessible to the general reader and non-specialist reader, the book also demonstrates how the history of an area is not only what historians prise out of literary and archaeological sources. It includes looking at different ways in which the past is remembered and recreated by people. ‘‘Development and Change of Delhi’’ from this perspective, the book projects the galaxy of street pattern of Shahjanabad where social relations exist among settlements that reflect the high economic status of the residents.


Write view
Gandhi out of sync with
modern morality
Review by Randeep Wadehra

Modernity, Morality and the Mahatma by Madhuri Santanam Sondhi. Har Anand, New Delhi. Pages 244. Rs 395.

INDIA today is a strange mosaic of different time spans. Its various populations (yes, they have to be plural) live in such divergent stages of civilisational evolution as the ancient, the medieval, the modern — and a miniscule bit in the post-modern. This gives birth to the problem of coherence in setting ethical standards. It becomes impossible to define the contextual parameters for analysis.

Yet social scientists have been trying to unravel the riddle that our society is. It is precisely the Indian society’s complexities that make it imperative to study the decline of our ethical standards.

For this purpose the author has made 1947 as the watershed year as far as making a comparative study of declining moral standards is concerned. The author clarifies that the selection of 1947 should not mean that India lacked its share of criminality and immorality before that date.

The leadership of free India started with a high, almost exaggerated, sense of self-righteousness. A radical break was sought from the political, social and economic decline of the past, with an avowed plan to "usher in a vigorous, modern, prosperous and egalitarian democratic order". Unfortunately, these plans remain a pipe dream even after more than half a century.

The author notes, "....whatever the achievements or setbacks in various fields relating to economy, defence, education, social reform et al, the initiation of significant policy changes appears to have been accompanied by a marked deterioration of norms in public and social life; worse, a shared discourse on ethical behaviour gradually, and later rapidly, has retreated from the public space. Today, it is almost completely absent, except with regard to certain categories."

Despite the debatable moral implications of some aspects of the pre-Islamic Indian society’s dharma, there was at least a commonly subscribed code. Islam added new norms and strictures without in any way subverting the dharmic conscience. The British jurisprudence later on created new institutions while ensuring the continuation of the dharma-related social traditions and sanctions.

The post-independence leftist influence helped add a more humanistic dimension to society’s outlook. Yet jarring trends soon manifested themselves. Free-marketeers and their individualistic ethos began to promote self-indulgence, leading the populace away from moral restraint.

Modernity in India, according to Sondhi, came in the form of transplanted concepts and a worldview which was not in consonance with the traditional perspective. "As the 20th century progressed, polarisation gradually developed between transplanted modernity and defensive tradition....".

This "defensive tradition" while rejecting radical individualism was, however, amenable to the introduction of "hard" features of modernity in order to refashion arrayed groups and castes according to norms of greater justice.

An essential ingredient of new modernism — as exemplified by Nehru — is the concept of secularism, which was born in Europe, thanks to the struggle for separation of the temporal power from the Church. With independence the Indian government, committed to developing a civil society, felt impelled to define its stand as the approach of freedom emphasised the communal conflict leading to partition on the two-nation theory basis. The likes of Gandhi and Aurobindo were "driven to concede that religious bias and practice must be kept out of the conduct of government...."

While enumerating the problems of modernity, Sondhi feels the four most relevant are (i) the impact of science and technology on individuals and society; (ii) problems and contradictions of democracy and representative government; (iii) nationalism and the nation-state; and, (iv) the loss of cultural and moral authority.

She asserts that generally scientists would not acknowledge the existence of a crisis of science, not even in its social role. She goes on to say, "The philosophical problems emerging from within science concern the nature of scientific truth, including its epistemic foundations, from Kant through Heidegger to the quantum physicists; the historicity of science, in that its successive paradigms are not strictly cumulative.... All these serve to modify the once believed ultimacy of scientific explanations... though the absolute has shifted from truth to method, the anthropocentric primacy of scientific enterprise remains unaltered."

The French Revolution was powered by the "myth" of the "general will"; later on this was implicitly retained by the East European communist regimes. The "rule by people" concept helped spread democratic institutions in different parts of the world. Yet at any given time a substantial chunk of a country’s electorate remains "apathetic" to the election process. Thus the so-called people’s representatives, in fact represent only a portion of the populace. This can lead to minority rule.

Sondhi observes that the recent emerging crisis in various segments of the modern paradigm have aroused scholarly interest in Gandhian prescriptions of nonviolence, technology, ecology, holistic living and moral dialogue, which are rooted in the alternative civilisational and philosophic framework. "The failure to guarantee survival is a good enough point at which to question a prevailing paradigm, and this threat arises not merely from the dangers of a nuclear holocaust which in the post-cold war world has receded but not disappeared, but also from the violent nationalism, ethnic conflicts, terrorism and civic violence...."

She also enumerates other problems like the failure to tackle the drug menace; the insidious sociological and other effects of the essential and intrinsic processes of modernity which are powerful enough to cripple the possibilities of eliciting remedies from within its own problematic.

The Indian polity is in a state of flux. Thus, it is only natural that the question of ethical evolution should confront and confuse our social scientists. Sondhi has handled this aspect with remarkable deftness. This volume is a brilliant attempt at refashioning the concept of modernity, keeping the Indian perspective in mind.

The pitfalls of western experiments in forging a cohesive ethos and transplanting the results of such experiments onto the Indian social consciousness have been diligently enumerated and analysed. A thought provoking treatise.

* * *

Among Insurgents: Walking Through Burma by Shelby Tucker. Penguin Books, New Delhi. Pages xxx+386. Rs 295.

How does one feel when one walks, yes walks, through an unexplored territory of a hostile country? Unknown hazards and unforeseen dangers can break anyone’s spirit. But once in a while an intrepid soul decides to take on the challenge and is richly rewarded with experiences that get translated into an eminently readable and unforgettable work of literature. The volume under review is one such example.

Tucker, convinced that his right to roam supercedes a country’s right to close its borders, vows to walk across Burma, now Myanmar. Disguised as a native he enters Burma where communist insurgents capture him, who later on pass him on to the Kachin Independent Army. This book describes the Kachins, the most important of Burma’s "hidden colonies". It also gives an interesting account of the Burmese civil war, depicting the coactive relationship between the conflict there and international narcotics trade.

The author points out that until the recent opening of the land route via Tachilek to Kengtung, paths into and out of Burma were closed to foreigners and Burmese visas restricted foreigners to specified areas which the Burma army controlled. "These considerations may have contributed to our sense of adventure."

You can have the feel of this adventure in such statements as "We departed from Pan Lawng Yang Mare late next morning....." A man was sent ahead as a look-out. Seng Hpung said that our porters, all KIA irregulars, would be with us for several days.... "A section crossed by outriggered dugout to scout the opposite bank. The rest of the column hid in the forest..."

Tucker makes some interesting observations about the Kachins, the hill tribesmen who also live in India and China. He says that younger brothers rank above older brothers in the Kachin order of inheritance, and similarly, ultimogeniture governs precedence between clans.

He also finds their rules regarding matrimony exotic! "Marriage between a ‘sister’ born in the Shan State having the same surname as a ‘brother’ born in the Hukawng valley is prohibited as incestuous, although relationship between them may be likened to that between a Smith born in Wales and a Smith born in Texas..." Somehow, the Orient never ceases to surprise the occidental mind.

* * *

Be the Best by Joginder Singh. Indian Publishers Distributors, Delhi. Pages 289. Rs 395.

It is a truism that there is no set formula for success. However, success has evoked different responses among different people. For example, the Austrian novelist and philosopher Elias Canetti looks upon it as the "space one occupies in the newspaper. Success is one day’s insolence". The US poet Emily Dickinson says it all in a quatrain: "Success is counted sweetest/By those who ne’er succeed/To comprehend a nectar/Requires sorest need."

But not all are as alienated in their outlook vis-a-vis success. Irving Berlin, a US songwriter, once remarked, "The toughest thing about success is that you’ve got to keep on being a success. Talent is only a starting point in this business. You’ve got to keep on working that talent. Some day I’ll reach for it and it won’t be there."

Joginder Singh’s message in the book under review is somewhat similar. He feels that one should never become inactive. It is activity that stands far better chance in achieving success, although it does not absolutely guarantee it. He says, "You should condition yourself to success. Think about the success while eating, sleeping or living..." Nothing unusual in what he says but when one is feeling low one tends to forget this simple recipe for success. Hence the need for reiteration.

This book is ideal for those who are at the beginning of their career. They will find chapters like "Organise yourself," "Reward for success", "Live to the full", "You can win", "Ticking for success", etc. quite interesting.