Bihar we are not
Review by Padam Ahlawat
Bihar is in the
Eye of the Beholder by Vijay Nambisan. Viking-Penguin Books New
Delhi. Pages 286. Rs 395.
today is known for all the wrong reasons. It is taken to be the
state in which administration has collapsed, where crime and
ganglords call the shots and scams are of a gigantic scale.
however, once the capital of the Mauryan empire, the heart of
the most fertile region. In 2500 BC it was the region where
wheat and rice were cultivated. Rice cultivation was then not
known in South India and it was from Bihar that rice cultivation
spread to South India.
Bihar is one of the most fertile regions, irrigated by numerous
rivers. Vijay Nambisan writes: "The first winter we were
there, potatoes and onions sold for a rupee a kilo. I have seen
roses and dahlias the size of cauliflowers and cauliflowers the
size of footballs. Bihar is equally fortunate in its coal and
mineral deposits (when this book was written the separate state
of Jharkhand had not been carved out). South Bihar has a number
of large industries.
What then ails
Bihar? It is the lack of a work culture and its lawlessness that
have made Bihar synonymous with a sick state. "Its
irrigation is positively medieval. There are no canals to drain
away the vast quantities of water which stands in the fields to
places where they might be more useful.Neither are there many
tubewells in operation in the dry months."
tubewells are a rare sight in the fields. The landlord does not
like to waste money on mechanised farming since labour is so
plentiful and cheap. Even the old fashioned wells are operated
concentrated in the hands of a few while the teeming population
has not seen any land reforms. Labour is not paid in cash but
only a fraction of what is harvested, perhaps a kilo or two of
dal or a small bag of grain.
takes time off from journalism to live in a small town, some 100
km east of Patna. The town on the banks of the Ganga has a large
missionary hospital where his wife has come to serve as a
surgeon. Nambisan discovers Bihar from his 18-month-long stay
and this delightful book is a result. For once, the reader is
spared the diadactic sermons with loads of facts and data. And
yet one can make a point and present the conditions without
recourse to data.
time crowds of the village poor flock every morning to the
field, to slave in the sun and bring home a small fraction of
what they picked. Not a paisa is paid in cash.
It is this
servile attitude that Laloo Prasad Yadav has tried to demolish
by his one-point programme of upper caste bashing. In this
regard, Bihar is following the anti-Brahmin feelings prevalent
in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu. And it seems that the
same feeling is spreading to Uttar Pradesh. In smashing the
power of the upper castes, Laloo Prasad has been successful.
But Bihar has
remained poor without a work culture and a lawless society, in
which caste wars leave women and children massacred every now
comes to Mokhama Ghat, a small mean little town, where his wife
Kavery is to work as a surgeon in the missionary hospital. He
finds the town has two gangs both of Bhumihar, they being the
dominant community. He was warned not to go out after dusk and
not to go to town too often.
In Patna, the
only people who seem to be active are rickshaw-pullers and even
their body language suggests they would rather laze around
chewing tobacco. Married women are mostly addicted to chewing
paan. Lazy and inactive people is the author’s dominant image
of rural Bihar. The mass of men and women squatting, idly
talking, doing nothing.
enduring image of Bihar is its teeming population. As the Kurla
Express pulled into Patna, he saw hardly any of the train was
visible. "Roofs, couplings, windows were all one
struggling, writhing mass of people."
Nambisan had a
pleasent stay at M........ where he lazed around the house,
supervising work of the maid servant while Kavery went out to
work. The maid was hard-working and docile. The milkmaid was
cunning and dishonest. The hospital was a pleasent place to stay
and despite the rare case of rape and murder of a missionary,
the Christians were left alone to do their work at the hospital.
Pushpa, the maid, comes out as an endearing person who toils
from early morning, accepting all injustice as part of life and
cheerfully going about her job. She is honest and conscientious,
refusing to demand things which she could have easily asked for.
others likethe sensitive school teachers who have concern for
the poor people. Mrityunjay Kumar Sharma, the Brahmin teacher in
a Musahar school, defied his caste leaders to work among the low
caste people. Dedicated to his job, he wanted in his own way to
Yadav started with many new ideas but all have fizzled out. His charwa
schools for the cowherds has failed and crores of rupees has
gone down the drain. The same is true of his idea of giving the
poor a bath and a set of clothes.
relationship with the missionary staff is not all pleasant, as
they soon found out, when he and his wife are denied promised
perks. He also writes about the missionary activity and the
tribals, who had embraced Christianity and were undergoing
training to become nurses.
On the whole, Kavery enjoyed
her work at the hospital and Nambisan found Bihar not so
unpleasant to live.
to Shakargarh with
Review by Gobind Thukral
Splits — The Birth of Bangladesh by J.R. Saigal. Manas
Publications, New Delhi. Pages 216. Rs 495.
NUMBER of retired army officers have taken to writing. Mostly
on defence matters. Some are indeed proving to be quite
prolific. Some do serious research and using their military
experience, provide not only much sought after information but
also a deep analysis. They try to be objective and present an
informed view. The people and the nation always benefit from
this kind of effort. Since security issues are receiving a lot
of attention in the media, this has encouraged many retired
officers to also write regular columns.
India fought with China in 1962 and with Pakistan in 1965 and
1971 have inspired many retired soldiers to take up the pen.
There is a plethora of books. One such book, "Pakistan
Splits — The Birth of Bangladesh" is by J.R. Saigal, a
retired Lieut-Colonel. The jacket of the book claims that
‘‘No one has written till date about the Pakistan army in
detail as also why the Kargil intrustion took place. The book
explodes the myth of a stalemate in the western sector, which
was largely responsible for Pakistan having miscalculated the
Indian strength in the Kargil. There would have been no
intrusion in Kargil sector had the 1971 war with Pakistan been
fought professionally in the western sector.’’ This is
indeed a major comment on our security concerns. One looked
forward to some kind of credible answer to this claim in the
book, despite its poor style and errors.
opens with the growth of the Indian Army and is followed by a
chapter on Pakistan army. One could reasonably expect a
sharply focused analysis of the forces of the two countries
which have fought two full-scale wars and could start another
any time. But the writer is too obsessed with why officers and
men of the Indian Army were influenced by western ideas.
"Interest in wine, women and parties dominated the life
in the officers mess (during the British times).......this
trend has taken roots in the Indian Army.’’ He finds the
Army to be less committed and somewhat devoid of patriotism.
Western influence and the penetration foreign agents even at
higher levels is perhaps responsible.
sweeping statements mark the assessments throughout the book.
One is entitled to such observations. These could be true also
but the author offers no evidence. One or two reports are
discussed. By and large the treatment is sketchy whether the
subject is Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw or officers like Lieut-Gen
Sagat Singh. One could agree with him on the British
recruitment style and also the contribution by the INA in
fighting for freedom. He says, "Politicians seem to lack
both character and understanding to remove the iron curtain
between (sic) the armed forces, press and the public’’ and
it has a grain of truth in it. But it has to be substantiated.
How the two
countries fought in 1971 and how Generals and soldiers fared
is now well documented. In-depth studies by the two
governments are also out. Recently Hamidur Rehman report on
the role of the Pakistani army and political masters has been
released. So any writer on defence affairs has to take those
reports into consideration. But it cannot be evaluated on the
strength of what happened in the battle of Shakargarh or other
small details thrown up here and there.
makes sweeping statements like "India is at present in a
position to fight a war for an indefinite period depending
entirely on its indigenous resources. While Pakistan forces
are likely to grind to a halt within two weeks if its supply
of ammunition and other essentials were cut off." Any
country in the world were not even the mighty USA, can fight a
war for an indefinite period, much less an underdeveloped and
poverty stricken country like India. What happened to France
in Indo-China and to the USA in Vietnam proves this. Both had
to pull out. War is as much an economic proposition as a
military one. There is only casual mention of nuclear
capability. The two countries are now nuclear powers.
How the press
has covered last two wars does not satisfy Col Saigal. But to
say that the press is ignorant is a little too much. The
writer has every right to like or dislike some Generals. But
his prejudice dominates his observations when he broadly
condemns Field Marshall Maneckshaw (despite half-hearted
praise here and there) or when he praises Lieut-Gen Sagat
Singh. One can also agree with the author that parochialism
and communialism are rampant in the Army. But he should
support it with case studies and not by just writing one
though titled "The Birth of Bangladesh", mainly
talks about the operations of I Corps in the Shakargarh
sector. The author seems fairly confused about what he wants
to present or convey. Written in a "vernacular"
language style, the book aims at exploiting the
"anti-higher military hierarchy" sentiment, a post-Kargil
conflict development. Uncharitable, unsubstantiated and
irrelevant references to Field Marshals Carriappa and
Maneckshaw are in bad taste and so are comments about the
decorated heroes of the Shakargarh battle as well as about his
own regimental officers.
of the subject is devoid of depth and content as expected of a
well-researched book. Chapters on the growth and evaluation of
the Indian and Pakistan Armies and analyses of the terrain,
space, relative strength and nuclear capability are often
factually incorrect and amateurish. It will be apparent to
students of military history that the author obviously lacks
the ability to historically comprehend the geo-strategic and
national compulsions and complex strategic planning at the top
level. Even in recounting operations of I Corps he ends up
trying to create an impression that probably he was the only
fearless and rational senior officer and all others were
panic-stricken professionals. They were fighting among
themselves rather than with the enemy.
It is an
established fact that the operation of I Corps in Shakargarh
was not as swift as the North African assault by Rommel, yet
to see an international conspiracy in the slow progress is
unjust. The demand of the author for an inquiry into it after
30 years of the event is whimsical. The book is more an effort
to wash dirty linen in public than a coherent analysis of a
major military operation.
"The Birth of
Bangladesh" is a book based only on the author’s
personal perceptions and infrequent and informal personal
interaction with some, mostly insignificant players in the
battle of Shakargarh. The analysis is thin and skimpy.
tall and talented
Review by G.V. Gupta
Economics — A Historical Commentary from the Classic Angle by
P.R. Brahmananda. Himalaya Publishing House, Bombay. Pages 424.
book, probably the first of its kind, studies the post-war
developments in economic science by way of critically looking at
the work of 38 Nobel laureates starting with Frisch and ending
with Amartya Sen. A chapter is devoted to the thoughts of Nobel
peers — Kalecki, Harrod, Robinson, Kahn, Kaldor and six
And all this is
founded on a brief but very valuable survey of the thoughts of
leading economists of England and other countries of Europe
during the inter-war period. Major economic theories in the post
war period are summarised before taking up the thoughts of
individual economists. The relevance of these thoughts to the
developing countries is also critically examined and new light
is thrown on the tradition of classical economics by an
exclusive study of Sraffa. Chamberlain’s study of
"monopolistic competition" is also taken note of. It
is a work of large dimensions and monumental scholarship.
Treatment throughout is abstract. Virtually no economist of
importance of the 20th century has been ignored even though the
focus is on Nobel winners. A bibliography of 1350 references is
a virtual library of economic theory.
tradition is the tradition of utilitarianism as represented in
the writings of Marshall, Pigue, Robertson and Sraffa. Largely
it accepts the principle of diminishing returns. On this is
founded the theory of general equilibrium as an aggregation of
partial equilibrium. It is this general theme for which is based
maximisation of consumer surplus.
the author, Schumpeter visualised the history of economic
analysis as a linear development from the "implicit
marginalism of Ricardo, the matrix of production transactions of
Quesnay’s tableau economique", the invisible hand
coordinating mutual exch-anges at decentralised levels to
aggregate harmony as in Smith, etc. to the fully developed
marginal utility and marginal productivity theories of Jevons,
Marshall, J.B. Clark et al of modern times, the
input-output matrices of Leontief and the general equilibrium
model of Walras and his successors.
This book does
not see the developments in a linear fashion. It views the
post-war theoretical developments as multi-dimensional with
multiple approaches to the same analytical problem. "Strong
causality could not be a characteristic of economics. Probably
that was why the Nobel Committee used the term economic
sciences". The author regards the selection of Nobel
winners as fairly representative of the main trends in
theoretical developments and has, therefore, chosen to view
these through a critical assessment of the works of Nobel
laureates from the standpoint of classical economics.
developments have been in the areas of mathematicisation,
economitricisation, and specialisation.
characteristic of modern economics, according to Prof
Brahmananda, is its drift towards investigation of pure problems
which are independent of time and space contexts. New frontiers
have been opened in theories of utility maximisation, demand,
general equilibrium, value and production theories, welfare
economics, market failures and increasing returns. Growth
economics has itself now many theories.
developments in international trade, financial flows and
currency standards have created new knowledge areas. It is a
tribute to the genius of the author that he has tried to create
a common theme through all this.
Let us see it
through the example of Amartya Sen, the only Indian Nobel winner
in Economics. It all starts with diminishing marginal utility
and utility maximisation for the individual. The problem of
measurement takes us to indifference curves and revealed
preferences. But an aggregation of individual preferences for
social choice is not possible. Pareto parity creates some field.
We then come to Arrow’s theory of impossibility. Arrow’s
assumptions were: Pareto optimality, non-dictatorship,
individual and collective rationality and independence of
excluded alternatives. Enters Rawls with his theory of justice.
We have a new consensus on an index of human development
demarcating certain minimum areas of social choice.
achievement of Sen was to create a degree of universal
acceptance of this index by relaxing the conditions imposed by
Arrow. In common with Rawls, he emphasised the importance of
increased information and bringing in of generally acceptable
ethical considerations. Sen developed the concept of
capabilities as a better index of wellbeing than the concept of
utilities or commodities.
defined by Sen as the ability to transform Rawlsian primary
goods to the achivement of wellbeing. Rawls's primary goods are
"things that every rational man is presumed to want and
include income and wealth, the basic liberties, freedom of
movement and choice of occupation."
conditions even this can be doubted. The action programme of
dalit formations such as a the BSP lays no emphasis on education
or health. Therefore, the most important axiom in favour of
state action — "I know better than they as to what their
interests" — continues to be valid. But the author’s
comments on the theory of capabilities are worth quoting from a
classical point of view:
is a normative concept...(it) involves costs to
society...therefore, falls in the dimension of social
cost-benefit analysis...If capability is ...a commodity.., (it
will be) a consumption and/or capital goods... If capability is
defined as a measure of surplus in human beings, classical
economic analysis can be applied to it. The precise bundle of
goods to be identified with capability acquirement is itself
subject of dispute.
We may have
conflict between the specific types of functioning desired by
individuals and what society wants to endow them with. The
heterogeneity of human beings in their desires...creates
difficulties in operationalising the minimum equal capabilities
of all. The case of Kerala is a prabable illustration of how the
measurement of poverty as defined in India cannot be positively
corelated with high per capita capabilities." We get back
to the good old marginal utility theory.
along with C.N. Vakil and B.R. Shenoy, was a strong critic of
Mahalanobis model followed for the second Five Year Plan. He
argued for priority to the production of wage goods in a labour
surplus economy. In this volume he positions it as a further
development of growth theory in the context of the ideas of
Ricardo and Piero Sraffa. This is in the pure classic tradition
and can be regarded as a significant contribution of the author.
the author, "Classical economics has its own tradition in
the theories of value, distribution, development, money,
international trade, public finance and economic policy. This
tradition has been revived and rehabilitated by a number of
economists in the post-fifties, the most prominent among them
being Piero Sraffa. Sraffa’s book on ‘Production of
Commodities by Means of Commodities’ (1960) has opened new
possibilities of an alternative and more universal approach to
presenting the bare essentials of Sraffa’s approach, he
provides a brief account of wage goods paradigm, as he calls it,
which seeks to open a new door to the economics of developing
countries. It is not possible to present this paradigm in any
meaningful way in a review article except to say that its
essentials have been crisply summarised in articles in two pages
of chapter 17 of the book. This has been developed into a very
versatile and useful tool.
Reasonabley priced, this book
should find a place in the bookshelf of every student of
economic theory and history along with Schumpeter’s
"History of Economic Analysis".
Review by Vikramdeep Johal
of Women in Sports compiled by Satinder Sharma and Indra Sharma.
Reliance Publishing House, Delhi. Pages x +365. Rs 395.
to the compilers of the book, it is a pioneering work. To some
extent they are right. The idea of bringing out a book of
profiles of well-known and little-known Indian as well as
foreign sportswomen is novel and the task is, challenging.
Unfortunately, the Sharmas have made a complete hash of it. The
book is a huge disappointment, especially when one compares it
with their previous work, "An Encyclopaedia of
Sports", which was a useful compendium. The book under
review is bad in almost every department. It is shoddily
compiled and poorly edited (if at all edited), in spite of the
fact that the compilers have a library science background.
encyclopaedia ought to be a reliable source of information. Not
this one. Almost every chapter contains dozens of spelling
mistakes, some of them appalling. Tennis star Chris Evert Lloyd
is repeatedly mentioned as Christ Evert ("In 1972 Christ
turned Professional"). Monica Seles appears time and again
as Monica Sales. Long jumper (Heike) Dreschler becomes Greschier.
As far as syntax is concerned, the Sharmas don’t seem in the
goof-ups of other kinds too. The US hurdler Gail Devers is
included in the high jump category. Olympic long jump champion
Jackie Joyner Kersee’s name does not figure in that event
list. Disgraced German sprinter Katrin Krabbe is also
conspicuous by her absence. Just two lines are devoted to
swimmer Kristin Otto who won six gold medals at Seoul
Olympics.To top it all, Sergei Bubka and Linford Christie are
listed as sportswomen (!)
are more often than not full of banal and superfluous
information. Some of them appear to be lifted from newspaper
reports. A typical example is the profile of hockey player
Surinder Kaur, which mostly contains irrelevant details of the
49th women’s hockey championship at which she represented
Punjab. The one-line profile of javelin thrower Gurmeet Kaur
reads : " Jurmeet Kaur (sic) and the women’s 4x400 relay
team also could not do anything considerable." Inexcusable.
All we are told
about several of our distinguished kho kho players like Achala
Parikh and Sushma Sarolkar is that they have won the Arjuna
Award. Similar treatment is meted out to outstanding Indian
The book goes
from bad to worse in the chapter on the SAF Games. Why over 30
pages are wasted on detailing the performance of Sri Lankan
women in the games is beyond the reviewer’s comprehension.
Pray, of what use would the resumes of obscure Lankan athletes
be to the reader?
Last but not
the least, the chapter on sports officials features Princess
Diana (!) and Mother Teresa (!!). The former is included,
according to the authors, because she used to watch matches at
Wimbledon, the latter because she had once met some South
African cricketers in Kolkata.
worthwhile chapters, like the ones on hockey, cricket and lawn
tennis, fail to compensate for the flaws of the book.
In its present
form, the compilation is unacceptable. Only if the errors are
rectified, which is a herculean task, can its next edition prove
to be of some use to sports buffs.
varsities guide book
Review by M.L. Sharma
of Universities and Colleges of India compiled by Manish
Bhatia and Geeta Saxena, and edited by S.K. Bhatia, Reliance
Publishing House, New Delhi. Pages 880. Rs 1500.
there is no dearth of standard works providing useful
information on careers and job opportunities in India and
abroad and on various competitive examinations conducted in
all states, a need was felt for a comprehensive compilation
for guidance on various academic institutions, universities
and colleges throughout the country. Reliance Publishing
House, which has specialised in the production of such works
providing valuable guidance on this subject, has fulfilled
involves strenuous efforts in approaching all institutions
spread in different states and even countries to get the
relevant and of course the latest information with regard to
the courses, faculty and the staff and other conditions. The
publishers have done a yeoman’s service in providing all
relevant information useful for students seeking admission.
lists over 240 universities and 9500 colleges throughout the
country. Each entry in the book contains (1) the name,
address, telephone and fax numbers, (2) year of enlistment,
(3) key personnel, (4) list of affiliated, constituent,
colleges, aided and non-aided colleges and attached
institutes, (5) names of college principal, professors,
readers with their fields of specialisation, and (6) state,
the information with regard to Birla Institute of Technology
and Science is provided in the following way: Its address is
Pilani, Rajasthan, cable BITS Pilani, phones 42090 42192, Fax
01596-42184, website: http/www.bitspilaniac.in/, chairman
K.K.Birla, Registrar J.L. Arora, Director S. Venkateswaran,
Deputy Directors I.J. Nagrath, Dean Vice-Chancellor R.N.
Singh. Then follow the names of all deans.
All names of
professors, associate professors and assistant professors,
lecturers and assistant lecturers of different department like
engineering and technical groups, chemical engineering, civil
engineering, computer science, electrical and electronic
engineering, engineering technology, etc. are provided.
The names of
librarians are also mentioned. The figures for enrolment are
also provided in all courses.
The names of
those universities which have been declared fake by the
government of India have been given. However, on a closer
examination, the book is found to be not containing the latest
or uptodate information on staff members, say, in Panjab
also gives an introduction to the universities of the UK,
universities of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh
with the names of staff members. This has enhanced the value
of the directory. A general reader can get the relevant
information about the number and names of universities, say,
in Pakistan. There the universities are: Agha Khan University,
Karachi, University of Karachi, Lahore University of
Management Sciences, University of Peshawar, NWFP Agriculture
University, NED University of Agriculture, University of
Agriculture, Faisalabad, Allama Iqbal Open University,
Islamabad, the University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir,
Muzzaffarabad, Bahauddin Zakraity University, Multan, the
University of Baluchistan, International Islamic University,
Islamia University, Bahawalpur, University of Punjab, Lahore,
Quaide-e-Azam University, Shah Abdul Latif University, The
University of Sindh, Sindh Agriculture University, etc.
publications by the same house are the Directory of Indian
Book Indstry, Directory of Libraries in Delhi, Directory of
LIS Education in the India, Directory of Scientific and
Technical Libraries in India, Directory of Libraries in South
India in three volumes (i) Tamil Nadu (ii) Andhra Pradesh and
(iii) Karnataka, Kerala and Pondicherry.
work is exhaustive, authoritative, standard and the latest
(fifth edition). It will prove immensely useful to students
seeking admission in faculties throughout India, the UK and in
SAARC countries. The directory is a must for libraries as its
higher cost will be a constraint on several students.
* * *
Melody by S.R. Garg. Published by the author. Pages 36 Rs 20.
Melody" is the author’s latest collection of poems,
including some new ones. Garg, a staunch believer in humanism,
pragmatism and universal brotherhood, does not write in
Byronic vein of bleeding heart, in Keatsian vein of beauty and
love and like Urdu poets on woman and wine but on nobler and
inspiring themes on the lives of great men in words brimming
with wisdom and insightful experience to inspire the youth as
their friend, philosopher and guide. Garg’s poems have also
appeared in several American and Canadian newspapers and
The book has
30 poems set to music on Jesus Christ, George Washington,
Abraham Lincoln, Emerson, Einstein, William James, Roosevelt;
Helen Keller, Dale Carnegie, UNO, art of living, etc. Most of
the subjects relate to America. In sheer beauty of verse they
are unparalleled, especially when written on non-romantic
themes. He is didactic but far from being pedantic. But unlike
Toru Dutt, he does not write on oriental themes but having a
cosmopolitan and secular outlook, he draws inspiration from
He seems to
be inspired by Longfellow’s "Psalm of Life". His
"Global Melody", "a treasure house of
knowledge, specially for students of school and college",
and the earlier one, "Khalsa Melody’ written to
commemorate the tercentenary of the birth of the Khalsa were
well received, especially the latter one by the devout Sikhs.
In a verse he has expressed his wish and motive for writing
the present book: "This is my most earnest desire/To
ispire many before I expire".
educationist with two US awards, "Poet of Merit
1989" and "Poet of the year 1995" to his
credit, writes spontaneously as is illustrated in his poem on
Ernest Hemingway: "Hemingway’s life was full of
pains,/Adventures, sufferings and strains/Not only a world
famous novelist,/Also an enterprising great
humanist/possessing a personality versatile/Living a
philosophy of his own style." His poem on Marilyn Monroe
brings to light many new facts of her life as, "From her
infant tender age, she lived in an orphanage/The manager raped
this girl at eight/So she had to leave it at any rate".
On Emerson he
muses: "He was hooted at Harvard College,/And shouted off
for lack of knowledge/He minded the ridicule for his
defeat,/But patient, confident he did not retreat".
How finely he
lauds George Washington in these words!
peace, first in war/A statesman shining like a star/Master of
sword and master of pen/He was first in hearts of countrymen.
The poem ‘Art of Living’ is a masterpiece written in the
style of ‘Essay on Man’ by Alexander Pope. It contains the
wisdom of Bacon’s essays.
Dedicated to Americans and
NRIs, the book of poems (even with footnotes in verse) will be
useful to students of all ages and readers of secular
of health and cure
Review by Uma Vasudeva
Remedies: A Handbook of Herbal Cures for Common Ailments by
T.V. Sairam. Penguin Books, New Delhi. Pages 344. Rs. 250.
research in various systems of Indian medicine under the
patronage of the Government of India commenced in 1969 with
the establishment of the Central Council for Research in
Indian Medicine and Homeopathy (CCRIMH). In 1978 this body was
split into four research councils; one each for ayurveda and
sidha, unani medicine, homeopathy and yoga, and naturopathy.
A recent WHO
estimate reveals that around 80 per cent of the global
population consume phyto-medicine, and documents a shift in
emphasis from the underdeveloped to the developing countries
of the world. This trend has both a negative and positive
fallout in society. While the prices of useful herbs skyrocket
in the developing world as their main sources are depleted,
the rural poor who have long been dependent on them find them
unaffordable when compared to synthetic drugs and medicines.
Even in remote corners of rural and tribal India, we notice
that branded synthetic medicines manufactured by MNCs have
begun to percolate.
says that the Indian subcontinent contains about 25,000
species of vascular plants, of which 7500 are used by folk
with other traditional systems of medicine. Many plants are
common to all traditional systems. Several of them are used
either alone or in combination with other plants. The current
regulations state that if these drugs are prepared in exactly
the same way as laid down in ancient literature and if they
are preserved as detailed by the texts, such drugs do not
require approval of registration. The drug will however be
treated as new when a different method of preparation is used.
has used 40 commonly used herbs in the subcontinent, some of
them familiar kitchen and spice box staples that are
invariably accompanied by some minimal knowledge of their
therapeutic properties even in urban homes. The majority of
these herbs are indigenous, though some were brought into the
country by invaders, colonisers and migrants. Over a period,
they have merged so much with Indian gastronomy and medicine
that their place of origin appears to be irrelevent.
with each herb, the author records its traditional use along
with recent scientific information, particularly its efficacy
as a drug. A list of references from scientific research work
indicating the composition and efficacy of herbs and their
constituents will enable the readers to arrive at his or her
own evaluation of the relevance of both the traditional
practices and the scientific literature. The "In
Tradition" pagers record the accepted remedies for
specific ailments that draw upon each herb’s unique
therapeutic properties. The author in the alphabetical order,
as usually classified in medical terminology has arranged the
records traditional medicinal remedies that are in danger of
falling into disuse in forms in which they have been handed
down through generations of practitioners. Traditional
household practices regarding dosage, application and
combination of herbs for alleviating symptoms and curing
ailments were gathered by the author from hundreds of
housewives, illiterate grandmothers, vaids, and ojhas, who
voluntarily came forward to reveal them, including specialised
tips derived from lifetime experience. The author has included
certain herbal preparations which serve as inexpensive
substitutes for their chemical-based substitutes in the
be some confusion regarding the preparation of home remedies
for lay readers. The author has attempted to explain the
various procedures, processes and preparations dealt with in
traditional system of medicine, particularly the ones
prevalent in South India, one often comes across the practice
of mixing honey with almost every herbal powder or bhasma.
Honey is regarded as an essential vehicle that aids easy
digestion and assimilation of a drug. Whenever honey is not
available, other sweet substances such as jaggery, sugar
candy, etc. are powdered and mixed with the drug. As in
ayurveda, balancing of taste is an essential phenomenon and
drugs, which are bitter, sour or astringent are often mixed
with sweet substances and administered.
has given details for the preparation of resin, gums, jam,
medicated oil and fat, nasal and eye drops, application of
leaves, burning of plant material and so on. For example,
resins and gums exude from branches of several trees,
especially acasia. They are generally harvested in the dry
season, by making cuts on their branches and trunks. The
liquid exudate, which solidifies quickly, is then scrapped off
the tree with the help of a knife.
are solid or semi-solid preparations. The herbal paste or
powder is cooked in liquid (water or milk), and ghee, sugar
syrup, etc,. are added while cooking. A jam is ready when it
achieves single or double thread consistency and when a dollop
sinks into water without spreading. A jam made of fresh ginger
is a common household remedy used to strengthen the digestive
fire, while another made of dry ginger powder is used as a
winter tonic. There are a variety of jams used therapeutically
for digestion, diarrhoea, piles, bleeding, disorders,
respiratory problems, reproductive disorders, etc.
Chavanaprasa, the most famous and well known among jams,
consist of mainly amla in addition to as many as 40
herbs and at times, is fortified with even minerals. Is is a
rejuvenator and a remedy for debility and old age.
Nasal and eye
drops are preferred for the purification in all diseases of
the head, lungs, throat and eyes. A good daily routine
includes introduction of a couple of drops of medicated oil or
ghee into the nose or eyes as the case may be. Whenever any
fresh juice is required to be introduced, sufficient caution
is to be exercised to avoid any contamination. Sterilised
cotton and clean hands are necessary.
has given details of the dosage of herbal medicines to avoid
ill-effects. Prescribing the optimal dosage of the plant
material for a particular ailment and for a particular
constitution of the patient has always been a challenging task
for any herbalist. The main reason for this is the fact that
the content of the so-called active principle of a plant part
varies widely due to factors such as climate, altitude,
latitude, soil type, nutrition, temperature, relative
humidity, season, time of plucking, packing, storage and so
on. Determining the constitution of the patient has also been
a crucial factor for determining dosage of the drug.
has also given detailed notes on the preparation of plant
parts. For example, roots, rhizomes and bark are collected in
late autumn or early spring when vegetative growth has ceased.
Leaves and flowering tops are collected at the time of
development of flowers and before maturing of fruit and seed
as the photosynthetic activities at this time matures. Fruit
are collected when fully grown but unripe. The seeds are
collected when fully matured and, if possible, before the
fruits open for dispersal. Seed-like fruits such as coriander,
saunf, ajwain, etc are harvested a little before they are
fully ripe to retain their fresh and bright appearance. The
author has given details of packing, storage and preservation,
infusion, decoction, cold extracts, syrups, powders and so on
of the herbal drugs.
Comprehensive bibliography of
scientific articles, separate glossaries of English and
non-English technical terms, a multi-language index of plant
names and detailed illustrations make this volume an
illuminating rediscovery of herbs that have come into their
own as purveyors of a health and happiness increasingly hard
to come by.
and war memories
Review by M.L. Raina
Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural
History by Jay Winter. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Pages x+309. £ 12.95
which does not cease to hurt remains in memory. — Nietzsche
pitched his burden in the muck/Muttering O Christ almighty I
am stuck. — Siegfried Sassoon.
her dead sons sprawled on the battlefield of Kurukshetra,
Gandhari could only mutter curses on those who brought about
the carnage. In Homer’s Iliad the brutal killing of Hector
evokes a similar disgust. In Henri Barbusse’s "Under
Fire" and Hemingway’s "A Farewell to Arms"
the experience of actual battle with its attendant gore and
blood is a reminder that war can never be romanticised. Even
the cynicism of Bertolt Brecht could not hide the tender grief
of Katrin’s death in "Mother Courage", harsh
though Brecht’s satire is on the perpetuators of suffering.
from Richard Aldington’s novel "Death of a Hero"
(an egregious omission from Winter’s otherwise richly
endowed book) should give us an idea of what the actual combat
is like. "Men were killed by direct hits, and wounded by
pieces of flying metal... All that night and far into the
misty dawn the stretchers went down the communication trench
carrying inert figures with horrible foam on their
mouths." This cures the hero Winterbourne’s idealism
and brings him face to face with the grime and misery of
warfare. In much war writing scenes like these are noted for
the stark factualness of their presentation.
such as these form the crux of Winter’s book. Jay Winter is
a cultural historian, not a literary critic. On the basis of
this book I can confidently compare him with Peter Gay whose
five-part study of bourgeois imagination "From Victoria
to Freud" is a model of cultural history of our time. He
also shares with Paul Fussel ("Great War and Modern
Memory") and Samuel Hynes ("A War Imagined")
the distinction of writing a broad-sweep history of the
non-military aspect of what historians such as A.J.P. Taylor
and more recently John Keegan have called "The Great War
achievement, however, is that he does not confine himself to
literature, as does Fussel, but also takes in his ambit
non-literary sources from British, German and French archives.
He is at ease with everything from church records,
architectural structures, memoirs of surviving soldiers,
paintings, musical compositions, films and literary works.
Here we have a veritable embarrassment of riches in that his
research draws no distinction between the kinds of sources he
uses. Hynes also uses contemporary paintings, but Winter’s
canvas is much larger and extends to countries beyond Great
Britain. Fussel concentrates chiefly on British writing.
Winter is a
historian with the patina of religious sentiment. He does not
see the history of the great war as the unfolding of a divine
scheme of sin and retribution. What he does in this book is to
study how the survivors of the war and their families and
other kin came to terms with their losses. Considering that
casualties were heavy and the mutilations of numerous
survivors beyond relief, it was natural that returned soldiers
and grieving kin should find means of alleviating their sorrow
in mutual sympathy and help.
forms of the healling process are Winter’s theme and he
pursues it with the frenetic enthusiasm of a committed
scholar. What impresses one in Winter’s presentation is a
combination of the historian’s need for evidence and the
humanist’s belief in the restorative power of human empathy,
concern and understanding. The result is a history replete
with insights into the working of the human psyche under
stress. Since Winter’s provenance is wide enough, his
findings acquire the quality of general statements that could
well be true in all ages and times. In this way he rescues the
history of the great war from the condescension of
ideologically motivated grinders of personal axes.
his purpose in a brief statement: "The backward gaze of
so many writers, artists, poets, politicians, soldiers and
everyday families... reflected the universality of grief and
mourning". This universality of grief is embodied in what
Winter calls the traditional languages of mourning. These are
languages of religious sentiment—ritual, ceremony and
observance—through whose mediations, communities and
societies have sustained themselves in their hours of loss.
calls them "languages of rememberance" of which art
is one. As he says in answer to Adorno’s belief in the
failure of language to account for the Holocaust,
"Literature must resist this verdict... The language of
real suffering tolerates no forgetting...it is now virtually
in art alone that it finds its own voice, consolation."
discusses how different art forms such as sculpture, painting
and writing confronted the horrors of war, he evokes the
communal rituals in the communities of soldiers’ next of
kin, rituals that refreshed the memories of the slain soldiers
by evoking their presence individually and collecively. In
this context he analyses Gance’s 1919 film "‘J’accuse"
in which dead French soldiers rise up to visit their
communities to see that their sacrifice has not been in vain.
As it is,
"J’accuse" is a moving film in which the rhetoric
of patriotic sentiment is weighed against the realities of
suffering and pain endured by all. I happen to have seen it
recently and can confirm the sheer force of Gance’s
condemnation of the war. Apart from the film there are
references of war diaries of the dead as well as to church
records to suggest that the "dead had come back".
not tell us whether "the dead" have come back in the
nightmare experiences of the survivors or as a ritual of
expiation of their memories. There is a whole tradition of
religious and secular lore in which the resurrection of the
dead is seen as a warning to the living. The Hindu practice of
shrad is a means of remembering the dead ancestors on
their anniversaries. By this practice the immediate grief of
their departure is mitigated.
details similar evocations in France, Germany and Britain to
suggest that rememberance of the love ones is for the families
an act of filial piety.
believes such practices became common after the great war.
What he does not tell us and what should be common knowledge
is the fact of rememberance as a permanent source of catharsis
for the bereaved families. Our experience of the aftermath of
Kargil is a reminder of the ubiquity of such practices. The
building of memorials to the dead is a way of making their
best pages are given to analysing war memorials such as the
Cenotaph in London, Monument to the Missing at Thiepval in
France, Vietnam War Memorial in Washington and other such
emblems of commemorative piety.
Here again we
find parallels in India, particularly in the commemorative chhatris
built by Rajput kings in Rajasthan. The purpose of these
structures is to offer sustenance from religious art as well
as redemption of the sufferings of war and, at a further
remove, some hope of transcendence. Winter’s strength is in
reading the traditional motifs in their specific relevance to
the present grief. In the process older forms of art were
rediscovered and found answering the modern needs for
consolation and cheer.
sees them war memorials enforce a collective meaning,
distancing personal grief and merging it in collective
remembrance. "In the constructed war memorial death is
deconstructed: its horror, its undeniable individuality, its
trauma and the ignominy often associated with it, are
memorials also present the state’s view of martyrdom in the
service of the country, an event that ignores the gruesome
fact of individual death and its impact on the bereaved
families. As experience shows, abstractions cannot replace the
pain of personal loss. Winter seems rather indifferent to this
aspect of the institutionalisation of remembrance.
At this stage
Winter lays special emphasis on the relevance of the movement
for spiritualism that spread across Europe in the immediate
aftermath of the great war. Research in parapsychology and
other non-rational modes of being were taking place in the
19th century but received a boost immediately after the war.
The reasons for this are obvious. People found relief from the
memories of the conflict. Madame Blavatsky rediscovered Indian
mysticism and in the popular form seances became
frequent occurrences in the drawing rooms of the rich.
scholars would conjure up visions of Madame Sosostris in Eliot
and Mrs Viveash in Huxley’s "Antic Hay" (to say
nothing of Yeats’s own experiments) who seek their own ways
of coping with the dead. I would be skeptical about
attributing the emergence of spiritualism solely to the great
war, and I would want some other explanation such as disgust
with scientific temper itself to account for it.
descriptions of war paintings and war literature do not offer
any new perspective but confirm his own belief in the
traditional nature of the means of recuperating normal life
after the war. In the chapter "Mythologies of war"
he studies films, paintings, sculptures by contemporary
artists to support his view that remembrance of the war dead
and confrontation with the very fact of death are
contextualised in traditional imagery and myth. In this
respect his detailed analysis of "J’accuse"
reveals the complexities of memorialisation itself.
references to "All Quiet on the Western Font" and
other films are designed to buttress his point about the
traditional basis of remembering the departed. "From
Gance to Kurasawa films have entered the realms of the
mythical by telling stories about the eternal themes common to
all cultures", he remarks. This is not true of films
designed for nationalistic propaganda, such as Soviet films,
which extol the heroism of Soviet soldiers alone, like
"Battle of Stalingrad", "Fall of Berlin"
and "Cranes are Flying".
study is packed with detail and is in the best tradition of
history that derives not from officially designated sources
alone, but from popular sources and oral evidence as well. But
it has importance for literary scholars. It revises our
notions of modernism and makes us look afresh at our
assumptions about what literary historians call modernism. A
break with the past, disjunction in language, a questioning of
the foundations of belief are attributes commonly given to the
modernist movement in Europe. Winter thinks that far from
rejecting the old, the modernists (he includes the art of the
period in it) retained traditional and customary symbols to
explain and make sense of the traumatic modern experience such
as the great war.
the war poets, he maintains that "their modernism was the
product of a recasting of traditional languages, not their
rejection". Though this will not be the final judgement
on the modernist movement, it does make us rethink our
position. Granted that Eliot, Joyce and Yeats were
traditionalists in spite of their characteristic modernistic
methods, we cannot ignore the fact that the great war was a
typically modern event both in its ferocity and its
Similarly, World War II was
equally grim what with thermonuclear weapons wreaking
unspeakable destruction. Winter has yet to convince many that
the 1939-45 cannot be accommodated the way 1914-18 can be into
acceptable traditional terms. Contrary to his belief that the
real rupture took place in 1939-45, historians would continue
to regard 1914-1918 as an irrevocable point that, to quote
Giles Winterbourne from Aldington’s novel mentioned earlier,
"ended our innocence for good". It also provided
continuity between Ypres and Somme, on the one hand, and
Dachau and Treblinka, on the other.
Watch out: WTO is
coming this year
This is a
chapter from the book "WTO and its implications" by
P.K. Vasudeva, published by Minerva, London.
Human Development Report, 1999, which was released recently
talks a lot about the developing and least developed countries
(LDC), especially about the pitfalls these countries face, if
they do not have good governance and proper regulatory
machinery. It has also been brought out in the report that the
gap between the rich and the poor is increasing, which should
have been the other way round. The report has given a detailed
analysis of Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights
Agreement (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which
came into effect on January 1, 1995.
industrialised world, led by the USA, brought the subject of
intellectual property rights (IPRs) for the first time within
the ambit of GATT in 1986 during the eighth round of Uruguay
talks. Even as the industrialised world was losing its ground
in traditional manufactures to low cost competitors, its
strength was rapidly shifting to knowledge-based industries
and "intellectual goods". They had a clear and
decisive lead in new and frontier technologies such as
information, communication and biotechnology and investment
cost in R & D was rising rapidly, with growing standards
in health and environmental protection.
On top of all
this,there was the clamour of their industry, especially in
the pharmaceutical, chemical, film and computer software
sectors, over the piracy of their IPRs as they perceived it,
and it was causing them huge losses in the world market.
of international trade can be adversely affected if the
standards adopted by countries to protect IPRs vary widely
from country to country. Furthermore, the lax or ineffective
enforcement of such rights can encourage trade in counterfeit
and pirated goods, thereby damaging the legitimate commercial
interests of the manufacturers who hold or have acquired the
agreement lays down minimum standards for the protection of
IPRs as well as the procedures and remedies for their
enforcement. The agreement includes copyright, patent and
industrial designs, trademark, service mark and the
appellation of origin (or geographical indications).
further says that big corporations define R & D agendas
and tightly control their findings as enunciated in the TRIPS
agreement as a result of which poor people and poor countries
risk being pushed to the margin in this proprietary regime
controlling world knowledge.
says, "From new drugs to better seeds, the best of the
new technologies are priced for those who can pay. For poor
people they remain far out of reach. Tighter property rights
raise the price of technology, blocking developing countries
from dynamic knowledge sectors. The TRIPS agreement will
enable the MNCs to dominate the global market even more
easily. New patent laws pay scant attention to the knowledge
of indigenous people. These laws ignore cultural diversity in
the way innovations are created and shared. In addition, there
is diversity in views on what should be owned and by whom,
from plant varieties to human lives. The result: a silent
theft of centuries of knowledge from some of the poorest
communities in developing countries."
has given a large number of positive features of the TRIPS
Agreement, but it has also given some of the negative
features, which have perverse effects undermining food
security, indigenous knowledge, biosafety and access to health
care. It has strongly suggested reviewing the TRIPS agreement
during the next ministerial talks. Some of the suggestions for
the developing and the LDC and the strategies they should
adopt to counteract the ill-effects of unequal multilateral
agreements are as under:
(i) Poor and
small countries should actively participate in global dialogue
on multilateral agreements.
should link negotiations on IPRs with rights to limit emission
of carbon into atmosphere and to link environmental assets
like rain forests, to negotiations on trade, debt and
(iii) The WTO
dispute settlement mechanism can only be fair when the parties
to disputes have access to expert services of equal calibre to
argue their case. An independent legal aid centre (LAC) is
needed to support poor countries.
ombudsman should be appointed to respond to grievances and
investigate injustice to the developing and LDCs.
(v) There is
requirement for a support policy research for poor countries.
Countries of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) must arrive at multilateral forums with a
battery of policy research to formulate and defend their
positions. The UNDP South Centre set up to support the
developing countries, is still under-funded.
developing and LDCs need to rely more on regional solidarity
and regional institutions to develop common positions for
multilateral code of conduct needs to be formulated by the
Human Development Report 1994, proposed a world antimonopoly
authority to monitor and implement competition rules for the
global market. That authority could also be included in the
mandate of the WTO.
take up these issues at the next WTO review talks and bring
out the negative features of the TRIPS agreement in
consultation with other developing and LDCs. Because
imposition of the capitalist order on the entire globe,
exemplified by a free flow of capital, trade in goods and
services, protection of IPRs by MNCs and the silent theft of
centuries old knowledge should not be allowed under the garb
of unequal and inequitable agreements.
The report is
silent on the plants and the plant breeders’ rights (PBR)
system. The exercise, sovereignty and control over biological
resources, establishment of an inventory of biodiversity, free
exchange of germ plasm among scientists of the world of
strengthen global food security,preservation of genetic wealth
and protection against genetic erosion, strengthening of
quarantine capabilities, certification of seeds which can be
marketed and so on, should be taken up at the review
also remember that patenting of micro-organisms
(biotechnological inventions) and protection of new plant
varieties through a PBR system are closely interlinked. In the
industrialised world, the gene sequence gets patented upstream
and the transgenic plant variety incorporating them gets
protected downstream. That protection exists from the raw
material stage to the finished product. India and the other
developing countries should not deal with these issues in
isolation. Biotechnology patenting and plant variety
protection should be carried out in a coordinated manner,
including the protection of environment.
India was one
of the first developing countries to recognise biotechnolgy as
the key technology for the future, much before it became
established in western countries. In the process, the
Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Indian Council of
Agricultural Research (ICAR) and other agencies, have
established world class (R&D) infrastructure. India should
capitalise on it by focusing policies and evolving specific
objectives, as it has a reservoir of biodiversity treasure.