Review by Surinder S.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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
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
Review by Deepika Gurdev
The Year of
Living Dangerously by Christopher J. Koch. Penguin Books.
London. Pages 278.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Review by H.P. Sah
Demonology by N.N. Bhattacharya
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
help understand the depth of mythology and develop a new insight
into hidden facts and messages in the literature of ancient
"Indian Demonology" is worth reading indeed.
Review by Minakshi Chaudhry
Cook Book by Tahlina Kaul. Fusion Books, New Delhi. Pages 104.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
In a few dishes
the oil mentioned is half a teaspoon.
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
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
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
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.
A pro-marketeer’s hopes
Review by Abnash C. Julka
World Trade Organisation: Planning and Development by P.K.
Vasudeva. APH Publishing Corporation, New Delhi. Pages
xxi+345. Rs 800.
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
state-dependent mindset could not have reacted differently to
the new policy pronouncement espousing free competition.
Ideological baggage and vested interests also contributed to
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.
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
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
Godrej who started
Review by Jai Narain
Victory: The Life and Death of Naval Pirojsha Godrej by B.K.
Karanjia Viking, New Delhi. Pages 243. Rs 395.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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".
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.
abandoned by homeland and disowned by world
Review by Deepak Kumar
Chimni (ed.), International Refugee Law: A Reader, Sage
Publications, New Delhi, 2000, pp.613, Rs.695.
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
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
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".
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".
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.
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
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".
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.
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.
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
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.
unplanned and chaotic
Development and Change by I. Mohan. APH Publishing, New Delhi.
Pages 177. Rs 500.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Gandhi out of sync
Review by Randeep Wadehra
Morality and the Mahatma by Madhuri Santanam Sondhi. Har Anand,
New Delhi. Pages 244. Rs 395.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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....".
"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
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
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
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."
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.
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...."
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.
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.
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.
* * *
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.
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.
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
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
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."
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
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