cyclone lashes again, in this book
Review by Padam Ahlawat
Tragedy: A Cyclone’s Year of Calamity by Ruben Banerjee. The
India Today Group, New Delhi. Pages 198. Rs 225
Orissa cyclone of October, 1999, devasted several costal
districts and claimed 8500 lives. It flattened all houses,
barring a few pucca ones. Telephone and electric poles were
uprooted and even railway lines were twisted as if they were
made of ropes.
In its wake the
cyclone brought 30 feet high tidal waves, bringing rain and
floods. The people had nowhere to go except perch themselves on
rooftops or cling to coconut trees for two days. There was no
relief from the rain and no dry ground to stand on.
The cyclone and
the recent earthquake in Gujarat have exposed the state
government’s failure to promptly and adequately respond to
calamities. The people were left to fend for themselves. The
governments’ apathy to rush to the aid of the grief-stricken
people was evident in both cases. The international and national
aid that poured in for the earthquake victims was not evident on
the same scale in Orissa.
a journalist based at Bhubaneswar, brings out this illustrated
volume on that tragedy, which he himself experienced in
more devastating in its effect and totally unpredictable.
Cyclone, on the other hand, is predictable and its course can be
charted out. Its build-up can be seen from satellite photographs
and its direction and speed can also be known. Consequently it
is known where and when it would strike. The Orissa cyclone had
been detected on October 25, four days before it struck. It was
building up and early warnings were issued. By October 28 it had
grown stronger and moved towards the Orissa coast. The Union
Cabinet Secretary called the Orrisa chief secretary on October
28 to warn him of the impending disaster.
and the supernatural had failed to save Orissa from the cyclone
which had struck 12 days earlier. Girdhar Gamang, Orissa Chief
Minister, hoped that prayers and havans would deflect the
cyclone away from Orrisa. So he spent his time with the tantriks
who assured the credulous Chief Minister that the cyclone would
weaken or be deflected.
Nobody in the
state secretariat had an Internet connection. The Balasore
district collector, an engineering graduate, was constantly
downloading the latest on the cyclone from the US Navy website,
which he sent to the chief secretary.
clear direction from the political leadership, the state
administration was clueless. All that the bureaucracy did was to
alert the coastal districts that lay on the cyclone path.
Strangely, however, no warning was given to Khurdah district
which also lay on the cyclone path and in which the state
capital was located.
As radio and
television continued to flash cyclone warnings, it had begun to
drizzle in Bhubaneswar. By the afternoon of October 29 it was
pouring down and a violent storm was raging. Soon the roads were
blocked by uprooted trees and electric poles. The Secretariat
rooms were flooded as rain came through broken window.
By night the
bureaucrats were trapped in the secretariat without electricity
and without any communication link. The police wireless too went
had been made for such an eventuality at the secretariat. The
state’s nerve centre had been cut off from the rest of the
far away from the sea and consequently would escape the cyclone
were not given any instructions to provide rescue and relief to
the cyclone affected districts. All that the bureaucracy could
come up with was to call for Army help. The once fabled steel
frame, it seemed, was now more of a wax frame. The state has all
the resources that an Army has. They have engineers, police,
revenue and administrative staff. What they lacked was the will.
however, lay 100 km away from the coast and was at the periphery
of the cyclone. After 24 hours of rain, the coastal districts
were battered by howling winds blowing at 200 km an hour. Winds
brought in 30-feet-high waves which swept away everything in its
path for 20 km inland. Those who had climbed to roofs or trees
were swept away along with the houses and trees. Only a few in
cyclone shelters or pucca school buildings escaped. Orissa had
only 23 cyclone shelters compared to 200 along the Andhra coast.
Arti Kandi, 13,
saved herself by clinging on to a coconut tree and saw her
family being swept away. Erasma was the worst hit and over 7000
died there. For the next two days Arti could not climb down as
20 feet of water lay beneath. On the third day, when the water
level subsided, she climbed down. There was no relief for her
even on the third day.
commissioner was himself stranded in Bhubaneswar, while not one
of his 270-strong staff reported for duty. The DG of police did
not report for a whole day. Yet there were some common people
who displayed remarkable courage. On a small crucial bridge, a
lone railway gangmen kept his vigil. He refused to desert his
post despite the terrible storm until the wind swept him and
smashed him against a concrete pole.
Even after a
week the government was conspicuous by its absence. There was no
relief for people in Erasma. The Jaipur collector could not
reach his district. The Kendrapara collector refused to leave
his residence. One IAS officer, S.K. Jha, did organise relief
and medical teams.
Relief and help
arrived from outside. There were cases of looting and in one
case a consignment of blankets vanished from the airport. The
Army helped rescue and relief operations in Erasma.
long-term reconstruction and financial aid, it was the
government that took a leading role. A sum of Rs 271 crore was
distributed for house building, while about Rs 34 crore was
given as ex gratia. The government rebuilt schools, roads,
hospitals and would build two lakh houses, while all the NGOs
would construct only 5000 houses.
The recent earthquake in
Gujarat is a repeat of the Orissa tragedy. The cover photograph
shows a massive uprooted tree in front of which stands an old
emaciated man looking pleadingly.
Sealy-ed is this
Review by Manju Jaidka
Hero: A Fable
by I. Allan Sealy. Viking, New Delhi. Pages 248. Rs 125.
1988, when I. Allan Sealy’s "The Trotter-Nama" was
published, critics were unanimous in hailing it as the year’s
best Indian novel in English. London Magazine praised its
effusiveness, calling it an extravaganza and the Chicago
Tribune described it as richly imaginative. The general
agreement was that there were few parallels to the book. Sealy
was compared with Hogarth and Joyce. He was accepted as a
leading Indo-Anglian writer.
reputation did not wane through the years. Ten years later,
with the publication of "Everest Hotel: A Calendar",
a novel shortlisted for the Booker which ultimately got him
the Crossword Prize, we heard of Allan Sealy again. Once again
critics were univocal in their opinion. The noted critic Shama
Futehally described the novel as "iridescent".
Khushwant Singh called it one of the best books of the year.
remains, however, that much of Allan Sealy’s reputation has
been limited to India. Critics abroad have not been as
enthusiastic as their Indian counterparts. In a preface to the
1999 IndiaInk edition of his "Trotter-Nama", Sealy
recalls that his book was "published abroad but its
reputation was made at home….Where the foreign reader was
quite baffled, the local reader was delighted. Indian critics
rescued what the foreign press had ignored or written
Hotel", too, which received very warm reviews in India,
was for a long time virtually ignored by reviewers abroad and
by literary portals like amazon.com. Now, however, it is being
translated into other languages.
one of midnight’s children, born in post-independence India
exactly half a century ago, Allan Sealy grew up in Lucknow,
graduated from Delhi University, and later studied and worked
in the USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Something of a
globe-trotter, frequently on the move, he has a home in Dehra
Dun where he stays in between his travels.
Trotter-Nama: A Chronicle" was Allan Sealy’s first
successful book. Dedicating it to "the other
Anglo-Indians," his professed intention was to write a
comic epic in prose of the minority community in India to
which he belongs. For the background to this novel he draws
upon his knowledge of Lucknow. A book that declares its debt
to Laurence Sterne, it is often seen as inspired by G.V.
Desani and Salman Rushdie, using their mock-epic style,
combining history with fantasy, the real with the imaginary.
When it first appeared its success in India was astonishing
and it soon went out of print.
novel form as one alien to the Indian ethos, Sealy tries to
give it an indigenous appeal. "Trotter-Nama" has a
sprawling, ambitious structure, spanning two centuries, two
cultures and seven generations. It brings together a vast
variety of characters in diverse situations ranging from the
ludic to the somber, the amusing to the pathetic, celebrating
the infinite richness of human existence against a backdrop
that is undeniably Indian. The narrative cuts across time,
crosses social and cultural boundaries and traces the lives of
characters that are very contemporary, very hybrid.
Hotel: A Calendar" is stylistically perhaps his finest to
date. The story is told entirely in the present tense,
suspended in time, precipitously hanging in a here-and-now,
with neither before nor after. It seems to move with the
cyclical motion of the natural world, gradually bringing to
life the fictional world. Subtitled "A Calendar"
this sensitively crafted book tries to link the world of
nature with that of human aspirations.
weaves in and out through summer, winter, autumn and spring,
drawing the reader’s attention to little noticed, minute
events of the natural world, pausing for a while to look at
life again, at the many landmarks and cross roads that come
our way, at choices one is required to make, and at the need
to simply move on, like the seasons.
Fable", is again mock heroic in tone, reminiscent of G.
V. Desani’s "All About M. Hatterr". Bolder than
the first book in its linguistic experiments, it toys with its
medium, playfully twisting it out of shape. The English
language comes to acquire a very local, very Indian flavour,
bringing slang and colloquialism into the written text. The
narration has a sardonic, often scathing, kind of humour. The
backdrop is again the vast Indian subcontinent teeming with
its people and their problems. This time Sealy finds his
source of inspiration in the Indian "masala movie".
Hero of the book is a filmstar-turned-politician, a character
familiar enough on the Indian political scene. A villain
called Nero is the hero’s side-kick; there is a biographer
called Zero, a heroine called U.D. Cologne, and a cabaret
artiste called Flora Fountain. It is not hard to spot the
laughter underlying these names which have local and humorous
protagonist of the novel is a South Indian movie star who
relocates himself from Bombay to Delhi, gets himself a pair of
dark glasses, and becomes a politician. He gets his taste of
authority in the crazy corridors of power with all the rampant
games of intrigue. Pitted against him is a villain from North
India, Nero (born out of wedlock and vindictively christened
Anirodh by his father), who follows the hero around, looking
for an appropriate moment to gun him down.
The story is
told by Zero, who has sacrificed his career, his ambitions,
and even his mistress. He is now writing the ultimate script,
"Star", for Hero:
camera, which has come over to follow Hero’s back downhill,
turns about and zooms in on Nero’s face. There are beads of
sweat on his forehead. He puts his dark glasses back on and
looks steadily after the departing figure. Camera moves still
closer till Hero is a pair of tiny dwindling homunculii
reflected in Nero’s smuggled Ray-Ban."
unfolds in a style that can best be called filmi, complete
with Entrance, Intermission and Exit. The description of a
physical combat includes a thain, dhish, dhish; echoes
figure as bhooan, bhooan; there are ‘dilaags’
quoted from "flims"; there is action, combat, chase,
rape, cliffhanger action, and whatever makes a good Bollywood
claims to be a fable and there is no doubt that it has fabular
elements as the story leaps from the real world into the
fantastic. But it is a novel on which it is hard to pin a
generic label. It may be taken as a genial satire in the way
it good-naturedly critiques the socio-cultural milieu of
India, or it may be called a spoof on the film industry. Or it
may be taken as a narrative in the picaresque tradition, with
the protagonist moving from one comic situation to another.
Closer home, we may pin the behroopia tradition tag on
it as the characters flit in and out of diverse situations,
changing roles from time to time, donning different masks and
changing their personas.
style remains, for the most part, idiosyncratic and the reader
is required to cooperate with its whimsicalities. The message
being passed on to the reader is a tongue-in-cheek one, an
invitation to play the game with the narrator and enjoy it,
too. The novel has something that is missing in "Everest
Hotel": a sense of fun of the desi variety which
surfaces in Sealy’s carnivalesque world, his comic
descriptions, his linguistic frolics, and in the proper nouns
he uses. For example, names like "Golgappa Sahab"
and titles of serials and films: "Aag, Aansoo, aur
Sughandhit Sten Gun", "Anandmayee Sati", "Zameen,
Aasman Aur Sarson ka Beej", and the like.
"Hero" today it is hard to suppress a chuckle.
However, the text and its narration makes certain demands on
the reader, requiring one’s active participation, a willing
suspension of disbelief and a preparedness to go along with
the story. Sure, there are absurd elements, but that is part
of the game. Don’t we have them in our masala movies, too?
digression, it is possible to cite the recent Bharat Shah film
in English, "Snip", with VJs Sophiya Haque and
Nikhil Chengappa in the cast, which is in a similar vein —
the same filmi masala, the same satirical dig at a film
personality of yesteryears.)
authored other works, too, some short fiction and a travelogue
called "From Yukon to Yucatan: A Western Journey",
which he describes (in a personal note to this reviewer) as
"a journey down the spine of North America from top to
bottom, looking incidentally at what is western in me (and
them)". He has recently finished writing a novel, using
the form of a puppet play, located in New Delhi and St
Petersburg which, he says, is "about love and loss".
This shift to a foreign locale is a departure from his earlier
novels which have confined themselves to an Indian backdrop.
possible to place Allan Sealy in a literary tradition which
includes writers like G.V. Desani, Salman Rushdie and
Arundhati Roy, moving away from the self-conscious narrative
style of earlier Indo-Anglian writers, towards greater freedom
and spontaneity, thus proving to the world that Indian writing
in English has finally come of age. Often Sealy is seen as
influenced by Rushdie. But Sealy’s "Trotter-Nama"
was already knocking at the doors of publishers when Rushdie’s
"Midnight’s Children" came out. On at least one
occasion, when the similarities between the two books were
pointed out, Sealy denied any "influence", saying
that he and Rushdie were simply "two writers responding
to the same historical moment. They have read the same book,
but the book is India. India is dictating, the country is
doing the ‘thinking’. We do not write but are
Despite the lack of hype and
other public relations paraphernalia, recognition has come to
the author in the form of prestigious awards. Sealy is the
recipient of the Commonwealth Fiction Prize, the Sahitya
Akademi Award, and the Crossword Book Award. In India he is
recognised as a major talent among contemporary writers in
English. Abroad he is less celebrated than some of his better
known but less talented contemporaries. Perhaps the reasons
may be found somewhere in the marketing politics and
promotional sales of publishing houses.
not sinning but sinned against
Review by Deepika Gurdev
The Air-Conditioned Nation: Essays on the Politics of Comfort
and Control 1990-2000 by Cherian George. Landmark Books,
Singapore. Pages 223. Singapore $ 20.50.
one of my favourite columnists bid adieu to The Straits Times
(Singapore’s leading newspaper), I suffered a severe
withdrawal symptom because it was hard to come to terms with
the fact that the insight and clarity that journalist Cherian
George offered on everyday issues would now be hard to come
by. Therefore, like several others, I was more than thrilled
when the author, who is now pursuing a doctorate at Stanford,
was back in town to launch his "Singapore: The
have followed George’s insightful commentaries on Singapore’s
politics would welcome this significant addition to the island
nation’s contemporary history. Others who have never read or
heard of him are bound to enjoy this brilliantly researched
and thought-provoking book which analyses the very nature of
the Singapore system and the dynamics that have played a
crucial role in shaping it. While it is hard to agree with all
of his views on politics and nation-building, a fair bit of
which border on scepticism, it is hard to put down the book as
the style is distinctively engaging.
comprises 25 cogently woven essays that begin with
"Climate control: politics under the new guard" and
end with "A place in the sun: race and national
identity." The essays arranged by themes draw upon
columns which were written during his 10-year-stint as a
journalist with The Straits Times.
is not just a simple rehash of those articles. The author has
done a lot of research to categorise all ideas and
developments into clearly demarcated themes. The essays are
wideranging in their concerns from the ruling People’s
Action Party government’s "new guard" leadership
to opposition leaders to cultural policy and something that
absolutely refuses to go away from the news: the foreign
however, is not intended to be a comprehensive review of
governmental policies; rather it "is a book for every
thinking Singaporean" or for every other reader who wants
to know about the contemporary developments in Singapore. This
book does fill a vacuum as it falls perfectly somewhere
between the academic and historical writing by reaching out to
the common reader in a style that blends the best of
journalism and academia.
The core of
the author’s argument is the comfort that has been achieved
through subtle controls. He talks at length about
air-conditioning. "Air-conditioning is a selfish
technology: One of its paradoxes is that its net effect is an
increase in heat. As a prodigious consumer of energy — it
accounts for one-third of Singapore’s electricity use — it
contributes significantly to global warming. Furthermore, at
the micro level, it works basically by transferring heat from
inside the building to the outside."
parallels between the regular servicing required to keep
air-conditioning going, he explains how Singapore’s
development model follows a similar "total systems
approach to economic management. It is highly
infrastructure-intensive and demands fine planning and
constant management," he adds.
also addresses other issues that have been closest to his
heart. They range from political openness, civil society and
national identity. But George carefully steers away from
knocking out Singapore just because everybody does. Growing up
in Singapore has its advantages and it shows in his work.
the loudly proclaimed T-shirt claims about Singapore being
"a fine city", the air-conditioned nation does have
its moments of warmth and a larger than life hint of reality
than most writers choose to tell their readers. George manages
to capture some of those. He admits that living out of
Singapore "highlighted some of the things I took for
granted". One of which is a fairly extensive analysis of
homegrown Sintercom in "Dot-Community: In search of an
oasis in cyberspace". Sintercom happens to be an
excellent case study of a local citizen initiative in a
global, technological age.
20-odd volunteers based in Singapore, Asia, Europe and North
America, it was a pioneering Internet venture that also showed
the quiet evolution of a civil society. As the author
succinctly puts it, "capitalism can seduce and
governments can coerce, but in the end, people pick the way
about Singapore miss these finer details that make
"Singapore: The Air-Conditioned Nation" stand out.
They get all taken over and hung up on things like gum control
or what has been lost in the planners’ zeal to turn what was
a colourful but multicultural mosaic into a combination of
Woodfield and Epcot. Forget what it was. Give it up. It is
what it is and it works.
I can vouch
for the fact that there is no easier place in Asia to visit or
to live in. The vegetable seller in the nearest wet market is
my best friend, my neighbour readily offers me a lift to the
bus stop, I know at least half the people who live in my block
and I hope one day, not too far away, my daughter will help me
learn a little bit of Mandarin.
like Singapore. The air is breathable, the traffic tolerable,
the dining admirable and the shopping unavoidable. The
air-conditioning does irks me sometimes but in the office I
switch it off and at home we stick to fans — plain and
simple. So as George tells us, life in Singapore is all about
choices, choices that every Singaporean or everyone who
chooses to visit and live here can make. And contrary to
popular belief — air-conditioners are not part of government
Of course, change is ongoing.
Which isn’t unique to Singapore at all. It is what one would
call work in progress.
in Germany obsessed with mother tongue
Review by R.P. Chaddah
Way of Wearing a Saree: Poems by Sujata Bhatt. Penguin Books,
New Delhi. Pages 108. Rs 150.
the last decade of the 20th century a number of women of
Indian origin settled abroad have taken to diaspora writing.
The expatriate Indian poets who regularly come out with their
collections of poems are Uma Parmeshwaran (Canada); Chitra
Divakarani, Ketu Katrak, Panna Naik (USA), Melanie Silgardo,
Ketaki Kushiari Dyson, Debjani Chatterjee (UK) and Sujata
That many of
the new poets were born after 1947 means that Indian English
poetry is likely to develop in unexpected ways. A case in
point is Vikram Seth’s use of humour and his use of
traditional poetics as a defence against what he sees as the
self-destructive introspection of romanticism and modernism.
(b 1956) in Ahmedabad studied in the USA where her family
settled when she was just 12. She now lives in Germany with
her poet-husband Michael Augustin and daughter, and the book
is for "Michael and Jenny Mira". Her first
collection of poems "Brunizem" (1988) won for her
the Commonwealth Poetry Prize. She has since published three
collections of poems. Bhatt is the only poet of Indian origin
to make it to the Harvill Book of the 20th century poetry
edited by Michael Schmidt and published in Great Britain in
and the biographical notes tend to stress Bhatt’s
multiculturism and bilingualism. She writes of the anguish of
immigrants when they start to lose their first language. Her
use of Gujarati, German and Sanskrit in the oeuvre of her work
does attract unkind remarks from the literati and lovers of
under review contains more than 50 poems divided into five
segments. Over the years, a number of these poems have been
commissioned and broadcast on the BBC world service, BBC Radio
Drama, the universal Declaration of Human Rights (Voice of the
Unwanted Girl), and for an exhibition of sculpture in Germany.
poems she opens windows to real and imagined land — and
cityscapes. Shards of memory, history, language and love
continue to be the poet’s common themes. She finds
contradictions in her past and present and confronts them in
mythic landscapes, but India — past and present—remains a
necessary obsession. Her reading of Indian English poetry
comes out loud and clear in her poem "A memory from
Marathi". The poems remind us of Nissim Ezekiel’s poem
"Night of the scorpion". The only difference — in
Bhatt’s poem it is the snake which is killed by her father
in the dead of night when a "three-year-old gets thirty
and father encounters the snake near the kitchen".
"The dream", "A swimmer", "The snake
catcher", etc. speak of her fascination for snakes.
Virologist" talks of a typical son, the poet’s father,
who obeying his mother goes to take a bath in the Ganga almost
into the holy river did not make him feel pure/there must be
something more/he was certain."
is a broken narrative" is a poem about language.
"Where you make your language when you change it."
Further on, she says, "It will give you time — time to
gather up the fallen pieces of your language."
hole in the wind" appears to be Bhatt’s macabre modern
version of Coleridge’s "Ancient Mariner".
seven days the storm kept us thirsty and I watched two sailors
below/feast on their dead mates. Their pockets/were still full
of human flesh....."
quite discernible has come to the notice of this reviewer and
that is Bhatt feels shy of conclusions to most of her poetic
sallies, which was never the norm till her second collection
of poems "Monkey shadows" (1991).
Asparagus" from this selection has been given the status
of the only successful erotic poem in Indian writing in
English. In the poem, the poet moves between objective and
subjective feelings in ways that catch both the singularity of
the object and the fascination it inspires. Bhatt gives
expression to the thoughts of a pregnant woman and her strong
desire to indulge in sexual peccadillos et al.
Bhatt’s poetry is one of
sharp contrasts: single figure in foreign landscapes moving
between yearning, memory and disappointment, listening and
watching everything intently with a witty attention. She
excels in intensity of her thoughts, strength of her feelings
and a certain simplicity of her expression.
a film is different from
making a meal
Review by Manmant Singh
Meals: The New Indian Cuisine for Fearless Cooks and
Adventurous Eaters by Ismail Merchant. Penguin Books, New
Delhi. Pages 312 including Index. Rs 395.
best way, maybe also the only way, to review a cookbook is to
try out some of the dishes it carefully lists as being
delicious and mouth-watering. This book just goes a lot
further and calls them "passionate meals".
Merchant, known better for things other than cooking, decided
to write a book on cooking, I as a normal male connoisseur of
good food, had all the right to try out some of these
passionate meals on the kitchen board. Some of these
experiments in the kitchen worked but as it turned out, most
did not. Either Mr Merchant was talking about the meals
turning out passionate or the necessary mental ingredient
required to cook these!
But then the
author had forewarned the reader that these meals were for
fearless cooks and adventurous eaters. "I consider myself
qualified to write a book for fearless cooks not only because
I am self taught but also because I disobey all conventions
and laws of cooking, preferring to improvise and make new
discoveries all the time," says Mr Merchant. But after
having said that Mr Merchant goes ahead and lists recipes
which end up looking, smelling and tasting like all normal
Indian food with those particular ingredients in those
After one has
glanced through the first few recipes of meethi and namkeen
lassi, minted Vodka tonic, beer and lemon, one comes to
the recipe for setting curd and opposite that page is the one
which tells how to make garam masala, and then it
strikes you that Mr Merchant is clearly addressing an audience
which is largely non-Indian. Telling an Indian how to set curd
is like insulting him. And this is true of both North and
realisation dawns on that the reader is a non-Indian, a large
number of recipes like that of vada raita, kheere ka raita,
bundi raita, pakoras, masoor dal shorba (soup), baigan
bharta, hare matter ki curry, matter paneer, bhindi, etc
in a book you bought for Rs 395 seem unjustified.
At times, I
found that the recipe was too brief to facilitate cooking
without having to imagine how much of what goes in, while at
times there were some exotic, I must say, some very exotic
ingredients which my bhaji wallah had not even heard of
not to talk of procuring them.
Then there is
this whole section which deals with potatoes and the various
kinds of food one can prepare with them. But after the glowing
introduction to this section again the author lists dishes
like jeera aloo, aloo ki tikki and gobi
aloo as the passionate meals made of aloo.
on pulses is again a list of the routine dals an
average Indian home cooks all the time. But one does
experiment with the besan wallah channa dish and that
too ends up as being a gooey mixture of channa and besan.
certainly fares much better in the second half which deals
with the cooking of chicken, meat and fish. Here one feels
like experimenting with some of the dishes listed and some of
them have a distinctively different but welcome flavour to
them. Consider for example, chicken liver baked in spicy
yogurt, this was a dish which did turn out rather well.
these lists of recipes which are much richer than the
vegetarian ones have their own set of problems. Most of the
dishes are baked and not cooked on fire which is the
traditional way of Indian cooking and, considering that many
middle class Indians still consider a microwave oven a luxury,
most of the recipes turn useless since the writer does not
suggest an alternative method of cooking. Then there are some
strange ingredients like rosemary leaves, parsley flakes,
dijon mustard, etc. which might be almost impossible to
The basic oil
which Mr Merchant uses for cooking is olive oil. Only when
there is any meal which requires deep-frying does he list
vegetable oil. Olive oil? Chances are that these very
passionate meals might also turn out be very expensive meals.
The list of
recipes on sweets has the regular gajar ka halwa, sooji ka
halwa, feerni, seviyaan, kheer shrikhund and some fruity
which looks very beautiful, is organised even better with a
general introduction in the beginning followed by a brief
introduction before every section. Also interesting are the
anecdotes and experiences which the author relates every now
and then about the various movie shoots. And like any other
professional cook book, the author has the very essential
element of the index in it.
But all said and cooked, this
experiment of a producer-director of films turned cook would
look best in the drawing room rather than the kitchen because
I can assure you there is nothing in there which you already
did not know.
Review by Gobind Thukral
in Punjab by Satya Pal Dang. Gyan Publishing House, New Delhi.
Pages 561. Rs 700
more than five decades, veteran trade union leader Satya Pal
Dang has been in the forefront of the Left movement. He along
with his equally active wife Vimla has fought bravely to
establish proletarian rule and bring justice to the people.
They have lived like fakirs in the Chheharta area of Amritsar.
his commitment, this veteran communist leader has also been a
serious commentator on important events. He has not only
opposed the Khalistani militant movement in Punjab, but wrote
extensively in newspapers and has now come out with a
compilation of his articles from various Hindi and English
language newspapers. There is also an introduction by a senior
journalist, V.D. Chopra. This is essentially a book by a
Marxist leader who has never rested on his oars. It has all
the advantages or disadvantages of the views of a committed
Left leader who has been lavish in his appreciation or blunt
introduction dealing with the historical roots of terrorism in
Punjab and Kashmir moves on a trodden path. As in Kargil,
Chopra builds up a case of an imperialist conspiracy in both
the states. But he fails to answer one fundamental
question:the imperialists never wished to have peace in
Punjab, but by and large peace has been established. Have
these imperialist forces been defeated squarely or have they
withdrawn or has there been any deal with this "foreign
hand"? One expected some credible and convincing answer.
Mr Dang also talks repeatedly of what he says "the main
common factor is the imperial conspiracy against India".
Well, he may be right. But he needs to build a strong case to
prove the point.
The book is
essentially a collection of Mr Dang’s articles upto 1994.
Though published in May, 2000, there is no updating and at
times the information is sketchy. He has added a concluding
chapter and an article — "We are Punjabis but Indians
too" — which he wrote in October, 1998. Take the case
of profiles of the Akali leaders. The author provides some
details about Longowal, Badal, Tohra, Balwant Singh, Simranjit
Singh Mann et al. The account is thin. There is no
mention of the death of Longowal or Balwant Singh at the hands
of the militants. Mr Dang’s party colleagues have described
them as martyrs.
profiles were written in March, 1983. At best the description
is partisan and does not go beyond what is often talked about
and seldom understood.
In the same
way while presenting a balanced assessment and analysis of the
then Punjab police chief K.P.S. Gill, Mr Dang in one or two
places showers restrained praise with which not many in his
party or in the Left movement would agree. Broadly speaking,
the assessment of the role of the late Beant Singh and former
supercop Julio Riberio are well done.
The book is
divided into several chapters. It provides coherence to the
book. Mr Dang has touched upon many facets of militancy in
Punjab. There is a good deal of discussion on the nature of
politics in the country and the state and its communalisation
over a long period. There is also a long chapter on the rise
of terrorism — the objective and subjective reasons. Wrong,
opportunistic and adventurist policies of the Centre and the
Congress and Akali politicians are very well detailed. A
surprising element is the near absence of the economic causes
that too were at the root of violence in the state. There is
also much emphasis on the role of the police in curbing
discussing the lessons of Punjab for Kashmir, Mr Dang says:
"First Riberio and then Gill motivated the police and
Beant Singh removed the fear that Manochahal or Mann could
come to power.....A similar policy in relation to the Kashmir
police is needed," he concludes. "In Punjab Mann
nearly came to power when he captured a majority of the Lok
Sabha seats. An Assembly election immediately could have got
him power in the state."
simple is the fight against terrorism in the valley! The
police there is highly motivated and is making huge
sacrifices. What is the result?
Singh came to power through sheer chicanery. That was a rigged
and sham election, the worst in the history of Punjab. He
could gain legitimacy only later. Mr Dang at one time (perhaps
in 1988) had opposed the holding of the election when some
academics and researchers had issued a public appeal, yet when
such a sham election which was boycotted by the Akalis was
stage-managed, a committed democrat like Mr Dang spares it the
kind of criticism it deserves.
ugly face of terrorism" is a well documented chapter
wherein Mr Dang lists the gory events in great detail and how
brave people fought back. He repeatedly pays compliments to
the patriotism of the Sikhs while lashing out at the Akalis
with whom he and his party once shared power. For those in the
profession and those who closely monitor the media in Punjab,
three articles on the role of media are honest comments. The
author has not spared the official media, Doordarshan and AIR,
but has shied away from naming names of newspapers except the
Hind Samachar group and the leading Punjabi daily Ajit. In any
case, while one particular newspaper gets a little more than
what it deserved in terms of praise another gets a little more
of bashing. Nevertheless, the comments are in order. It is
time Mr Dang wrote more dispassionately on the role of the
media. A section of the press did play with fire.
articles on subjects like law, police and human rights offer
an insight into how the judiciary and the police either
buckled under pressure or perpetrated violence and injustice.
This is notwithstanding a certain degree of softness towards
the police. This strong arm of the state proved to be the most
ruthless during the fight against the militants and it is now
so well-known. How many innocents fell to the capricious
misdeeds of the trigger happy or greedy police officers is
also now known. One fails to understand why an official like
Ajit Singh Sandhu should get a word of praise. A frustrated
Sandhu committed suicide, but his gory deeds were well
documented by many journalists.
chapter on the role of Left parties like CPI, CPM and groups
of Naxalities too is detailed and gets well deserved mention.
Much could be forgotten and lost but for the writings of
authors like Mr Dang.
In the same
way, the author’s last chapter, "Following correct
policies" deals with how the battle was won. He may have
many critics but his assessment cannot be ignored. In fact,
this issue deserves much more attention and debate. Mr Dang
also warns that if the outstanding political issues are not
sorted out, militancy could stage a come back. Here Mr Badal’s
misrule can just provide fuel to the militant fire. This also
needs an open debate.
Mr Dang deserves appreciation
for having brought out a compendium of articles grouped in
several subjects. But he himself admits that the senseless
violence for 12 long years which claimed thousands of innocent
lives in Punjab needs a more serious debate. A more serious
study of the roots of violence, the politics behind it, the
path of development that has sharpened contradictions and
heaped injustice on the people should be more dispassionately
studied by scholars and politicians. That would be a great
service to the cause of peace. This kind of effort can make
people more vigilant.
the time of your life
Review by M.L. Sharma
Serenade of Bliss by Surinder Singh. Platinum Publications,
Chandigarh. Pages 200+xvi. Rs 200.
does not flow any more than
It is we who are flowing,
a four-dimensional universe......
In nature all
is given; for her the past and the
Future do not
exist; she is the eternal present;
She has no
limits either of space or of time"
— Quoted by
P.D. Ouspensky in Tertium Organum.
is like the Holy Grail which the intellectual world is moving
to grasp and penetrate. New physics has appeared on the world
scene and scientists like Fritjof Capra are relating the
findings of new physics with spiritual knowledge, especially
Zen and Taoism (pronounced Daoism). Ouspensky in his
celebrated works, "In Search of the Miraculous",
"Tertium Organum" and "A Model of
Universe", has gone very deep discussing all aspects of
space, time and infinity or timelessness.
says what is perfectly perceived is space and what is
imperfectly perceived is time and that time is the fourth
dimension and there is a space-time continuum. Surinder Singh,
who has to his credit about a dozen books, has joined the fray
but his field of discussion is quite different from the
scientific quest — spiritualism. Dr Sampooran Singh is the
only contributor who has stuck to his guns and follows a
scientific approach. Others revel in literature and philosophy
but, of course, with a stamp of scholarship.
three parts with 30 essays and 29 poems, the book reproduces
the views of enlightened thinkers about time — present, past
and future. In order to make the discussion lively, the
writers have taken different perspectives to express their
"Towards the starlit dome", the writing is in a
dialogue form, the book asked scholars to express their
experience and thoughts in any style and diction.
starts the discussion with the words "Know thyself"
and "Nothing more". "To me," he says,
"these four words seem to convey a complete message to
humanity to understand its true nature and path leading to
that elusive and unknowable "Ultimate reality" or at
least a fraction of it, which "mankind has been
strenuously exerting to find for thousands, millions or more
of man years".
earlier work, he had explained what he wants to reaffirm here
— namely, science and spirituality are not antagonistic but
complementary, they are a single dynamic web of the wholeness
of life. The universal core which all great religions preach
is the symbiosis of science and spirituality. The late Prof
P.D. Shastri, Prof D.S. Maini, Dr Sampooran Singh and other
writers have shed light on all shades of time.
Shastri in a scholarly way and quoting from Shakespeare,
advocates the principle of "A battle to the last",
which principle he followed till his end. Joginder Singh and
G.S. Bhatia "Arif" lay stress on living in the
present with firm faith in God. The essay self-surrender —
"The key to timeless bliss" — by Surinder Singh
who retired as a Judge, is a masterly exposition of the
oriental thought, especially self-surrender and love. Prof
D.S. Maini’s concluding remarks in his essay are: "Now
only to live in the present is to live, like a hedonist, in a
pleasurable illusion, to live only in the past is to live on
faded dreams, and to live in the future is to become an
isolate, an alien to one’s reality. So to remain
authentically alive is to live simultaneously in the
Sharma holds the view that the best way to utilise one’s
time is to dedicate it to the service of humanity, the service
of the poor and the deprived.
Singh goes on to discuss all aspects of existence, religion,
love and eternity and synthesises scientific knowledge with
Indian spirituality. In telling sentences he expresses his
views: "The meaning or aim of human life is to make a
quantum jump from symbolic-dualistic frame of reference to
non-symbolic, non-dualistic, non-conceptual frame of reference
of mind spectrum. It implies a paradigm shift from isolation
to relationship, or from knowledge (information gathering) to
intuition and spontaneity. Peace and love can be found only in
action, which is relationship."
Capra to support his point that the mental concepts limit
natural process. One should have an undifferential, unlimited
outlook and move towards integration and unity rather than
multiplicity and dualism. Physics and metaphysics go hand in
In his essay,
Prof Tanjeet Singh, quoting from the Gurbani, "Thith war
na Jogi jane, rut mah na koe", gives a religious answer.
For a true yogi, the vagaries of time lose significance and
the ups and downs of life become immaterial.... The true
master has been, is now and will ever be with us, as is clear
from the first bymn of Japji Sahib."
Singh implies divinity by word timelessness and he expresses
his creed of divine love in the following poetic lines:
"My religion, O lord/ Is to pray to thee/When creeping
like a caterpillar/I come to thy abode/To plead for mercy/For
the sins galore, past and present/To permit me a peep, just a
peep/Into thy golden mansion."
lays stress on creativity or what he calls contemplative,
proactive creativity which is a progressional extension of the
human person into the entire universe. Tejambra quotes
extensively from scriptures and is content with the belief
that in order to get out of the binding shackles of time, we
should aspire to realise our true identity in this life. He
says: "Events do not take place in the space or in time
but in the space-time continuum, every event being a universal
situation and not an isolated occurrence. All events are
factors in four-dimensional reality, of which the
three-dimensional reality is like a shadow cast by the real
substance. The universe perceived by us is infinite."
B.S. Tyagi underscores the need for meditation to conquer
Kaushik quotes from his ghazal the following lines to
substantiate his theses:
Kalam sar ho,
ya zaban ko tarash de duniya
Kisi bhi haal
mein neechi nigah mat karna
Nahin to waqt
bhi samjhega aapko buzdil
magar rooh se aah mat karna.
in sticking to the truth in all circumstances.
"Taseer" expresses his views in a quatrain (rubbai):
koi sayat, nahin milne wali,
Aaj ke baad
ye mohlat nahin milne wali
Aao is lamhe
ko tareekh bana dein, ae dost
Waqt se aur
ijazat nahin milne wali.
stress on the value of time and urges others to make the most
of the present moment and make it a historical event.
Datt has a message of non-dualism: "Mystics and
materialists need not fight. In the greatest harmony of life
the Buddha and Omar Khayyam are next door neighbours.... They
co-exist, cooperate, embrace each other and celebrate
existence..... The Buddha smells the soil of the earth and
Omar Khayyam tastes the vastness of the sky. Let us enjoy time
like the one and master it like the other."
essentially a "faith development" book like M. Scott
Peck’s "The Road Less Travelled" wherein he
advocates the principle: "Do not seek understanding that
you might have faith; seek faith that you might
subject matter of the book can be summed up in the words of
Mikhail Naimy: "Love integrates. Hatred disintegrates...
Love is peace athrob with melodies of life. Hatred is war agog
with fiendish blasts of death. Which would you: love and be at
everlasting peace? Or hate and be at everlasting war? The
whole earth is alive in you. The heavens and their hosts are
alive in you. So love the earth and all her sucklings if you
were to love yourselves."
variety of poems and wise sayings culled from the eastern and
western sources, the book is an anthology of prose and verse.
Major-Gen Jaswant Singh has described the book as an anthology
of deep thoughts, a bouquet of flowers and a garden of
variegated fruit trees.
The discussion on the main
theme of the book relating to time, however, seems to be an
inconclusive debate. When time is a mental category, it is
evident that there is eternity. The Kantian dictum "Moral
law within and starry firmament up above" best sums up
the whole philosophical approach of the East and the West.
of correspondence course
Review by Minakshi
Education in the Twentyfirst Century by Aruna Goel and S.L.
Goel. Deep and Deep Publications, New Delhi. Pages 279. Rs
growing population and the inability of the formal system of
education to cater to the demands of millions of students for
higher education have resulted in a phenomenal growth of open
universities and distance education system all over the world,
establishment of the first open university in the UK in 1969,
there has been a steep rise in such institutions. According to
data, there are 1026 institutions in more than 100 countries
offering 31,752 courses. India has eight open universities and
50 distance education institutions which offer both general
and special courses.
education is all the more important for a country like India.
Our formal education system is not in a position to meet the
demands and challenges of the future. Besides, the distance
education system is required to reach out to millions of poor
and under-privileged people who have no access to the formal
system due to a variety of reasons.
well-designed, professionally managed system of distance
education can fulfil these requirements. But the question is:
can we do it?
through the skies has thrown up many opportunities and
challenges. Universities have started offering degrees on
line. Distance education has acquired a new dimension in the
present-day e-world of ours. Are our universities and centres
of distance education equipped to meet the challenges?
under review examines the status and role of distance
education in India and tries to visualise its future.
feel that our present system is not equipped to deliver the
goods. They have listed many limitations, both external and
internal, which make distance education a mismanaged affair.
point out that leaving aside two or three open universities,
other institutions are good for nothing. The book is an
attempt at analysing the causes for such a situation and
suggest solutions. It tries to answer questions such as: why
distance education institutions are not adopting standard
practices to maintain quality of education? Why are we
creating a bad image of the system? Why are we diluting the
quality of higher education?
It is not
easy to find answers to questions such as these. They cover
the entire sphere of our socio-cultured activity. But an
attempt has been made to analyse the ills of our present
The book is
divided into 11 chapters. The first two chapters focus on the
nature, scope and challenges of higher education and distance
education respectively. These chapters highlight the problems
in these areas.
The next two
chapters analyse the instructional material given to students.
Three chapters are on personal contact programmes, student
assignments and student support services. There are three
chapters dealing with financial administration, organisation
and management of the distance education system. The last
chapter lists recommendations to improve the system in the
and politics of distance education are discussed by the
authors in detail.
management of distance education is much more difficult than
the formal university system. It needs specialised knowledge
and competence in a variety of fields. Our present system does
not have the competence to meet the challenges. One of the
needs today is to diversify distance education to new areas.
It should not remain confined to traditional areas and it
should not stop at providing printed learning material alone.
It has been brought out very clearly in the book that at
present the study material and the student support activities
are far below the standards.
have emphasised the need to diversify and expand the areas
covered under the distance education. It should focus on
development of entrepreneural skills. The example of open
learning programme in entrepreneural (OLPE) being implemented
in Karnataka has been given to stress the point.
importance of education as a means of development cannot be
underestimated. In fact, education enables a person to compete
in this complex world of today. But formal and informal
systems of higher learning must impart the best education. But
quality is the first casualty in the country today.
Institutions of higher learning have become the breeding
ground of party politics and are marked by mediocrity.
Distance education is the poor cousin of mainstream formal
education. Second grade treatment is meted out to the
institutions of distance education. The students are treated
as second best.
have expressed concern about such a situation. They point out
that the new millennium is the time for optimising the
inherent potentialities of the fast growing information
technology, scientific development, general education,
professional growth and administrative competence through
distance education and usher in an era of socio-economic
development to equip India to face the new millennium with
courage and determination.
At the same
time they feel that unless some corrective measures are taken,
we may not be in a position to meet the challenge. They have
identified lack of professionalism, motivation and training
among the persons associated with the distance education
system, lack of clarity, even knowledge, among the personnel
responsible for delivering distance education, monopoly of
vested interests and politics, expansion and diversification
without any rationale as some of the problems of distance
it is necessary to give more powers to the Distance Education
Council (DEC) and set up a networking of open universities and
distance education institutions and to use new technology.
have also highlighted the dangers of commercialisation of the
distance education system. In order to be self-sufficient in
financial matters these institutions demand very high fees.
But they do not improve the quality of reading material etc.
This defeats the basic idea of providing quality education to
the disadvantaged groups.
demand, more enrolment, ill-managed student support system,
outdated study material, non-professional contact programmes
and the greed to make distance education institutions "milch
cows" for generating funds are some of the crucial areas
of concern, according to the authors.
recommend that the Distance Education Council set up in 1992
to promote coordination and setting uniform standards
throughout the country should not be an appendage of IGNOU and
it should be an independent body properly empowered to handle
distance education. The faculty of distance education
institutes should be motivated by way of a training programme
to take up the challenges of distance education in the new
century. Student-centred and learner-friendly material should
be produced and more effective control over the resources
should be exercised in order to make distance education
institutions really productive.
To provide a
road map for an expanding field such as distance education is
not an easy task. The authors have attempted to examine,
diagnose and prescribe in one volume the complex subject of
distance education. The book brings out the most serious ills
affecting distance education institutions in India and
suggests measures to meet the challenges.
We must realise that the
future of education lies more with distance education system
than formal educational institutions. The book is a welcome
attempt to analyse the present system. It also offers some
very practical and valuable suggestions.The bottom line is we
should take distance education seriously.
the land mines that kill
Review by N.K. Pant
in South Asia: Lurking dangers by Suba Chandran D. Mallika
Joseph A. Landmine Monitor, New Delhi. Pages 126. Price not
cold war era has been a mute witness to the loss of countless
civilian lives and limbs by indiscriminate use of landmines in
different parts of our strife-torn globe. Even in this
unipolar world, these killer devices deployed by the state and
non-state actors (NSAs) in border clashes, acts of terrorism
and militancy continue to butcher and maim human beings in
terribly large numbers. The South Asian region where
state-sponsored terrorism and militant movements of various
kinds are being waged, has not been fortunate enough to escape
the horrifying effects of anti-personnel land mines.
and Mallika Joseph of the New Delhi-based Institute of Peace
and Conflict Studies through their recently published book,
"Lethal Fields — Landmines and IEDs in South
Asia", have done yeoman service in bringing out the grave
dangers to human life looming large in our region.
the book is the result of an in-depth study undertaken by the
authors for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
If the purpose of the study, funded by the Landmine Monitor,
an initiative of the ICBL, was to put the problem of landmines
in the region in the right perspective by identifying the
fiendish operators and their modus operandi, the authors seem
to have been successful in their noble aim.
which contains a brief narrative on the militant groups
operating in Kashmir, north-eastern India and Sri Lanka,
classifies the NSAs that are using mines and IEDs in South
Asia into three categories — militants, naxalities and
irregular groups. Naxalite — groups like the PWG in Andhra
Pradesh, Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) in Bihar and Maoists
waging war in parts of Nepal also figure in the description.
There is evidence of some sort of nexus among these diverse
basically include some type of explosive with shrapnel packed
in containers together with fuses and detonators. Even a small
amount of explosive can cause a in explosion capable of
throwing a jeep up to 50 feet in the air or completely
destroying a bridge. Despite the security forces being the
primary targets, there has been significant collateral damage
to civilians in the vicinity of the blast. Among all military
explosives, RDX is the most used material in India and happens
to be the ultimate killer explosive available to militants.
IED is closer to the landmine in its technology, detonation
and damage caused by other device in the family of military
landmines and IEDs have found wide application by the armed
groups in their acts. The militants with the active help from
the ISI are using anti-personnel mines against human beings
and anti-tank mines against vehicles in Jammu and Kashmir. The
mines are usually planted at night and exploded at day-break
when security convoys start moving. During the last days of
the Kargil conflict, retreating Pakistani forces had resorted
to indiscriminate laying of mines causing causalities to the
advancing Indian soldiers. Militants in Jammu and Kashmir have
had a liberal supply of landmines manufactured by Pakistan
Pradesh, till the end of 1999, 178 policeman have been killed
and another 224 injured by landmines planted by PWG
terrorists. In March, 2000, they killed state Law Minister
Madhav Reddy in a landmine blast. The devices employed by the
PWG are usually explosives assembled by the terrorists
themselves to work as mines. The group has also extended its
area of operation to south Madhya Pradesh and Orissa where
IEDs have liberally been used to cause dath and terror.
NSAs, hitherto unknown irregular groups have also sporadically
resorted to the use of IEDs with deadly RDX as explosive. The
devices have been detonated with the help of complex
electronic timers with telling effect causing widespread
damage to lives and property. The series of blasts in Mumbai
in 1993 followed by similar acts in Coimbatore in 1998 are the
instances involving well-organised mafia gangs with the active
connivance of the Pakistani ISI. Use of RDX in lieu of
gelatin, feel the authors, transforms the issue from just
being a law and order problem to one of sponsored terrorism.
The book also
carries a countrywise report on the stand taken by governments
in the South Asian region on the Mine Ban Treaty and Amended
Protocol II of Convention on certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).
As regards India, it voted in favour of the 1966 UN General
Assembly resolution urging states to vigorously pursue the
international agreement banning anti-personnel mines. But it
has been among the small number of nations to abstain on the
pro-Mine Ban Treaty resolutions.
produces two types of anti personnel landmines — M16A 1
bounding fragmentation mine and APNM M-14 pressure-initiated
blast mine. However, in the light of enlightened world
opinion, stockpiles of M-14 are being converted to make it
detectable. The authors’ rough estimate puts Indian
stockpile of mines between four to five million pieces.
according to the book, has been one of the stronger advocates
internationally of the continued possession and use of
anti-personnel landmines and hence has not signed the Mine Ban
Treaty. The country produces six types of anti-personnel mines
and has earned a sizable foreign exchange by their export. The
country is believed to have a stockpile of six million mines.
citing security considerations due to the ongoing conflict
with the LTTE, has not signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Both
the LTTE and the Sri Lankan armed forces extensively use
landmines. While the Tamil Tigers produce their own mine
called "Jony", Sri Lanka imports its entire
requirement. The use of these devices is largely confined to
the northern and eastern regions of the island nation where
the government forces and the LTTE are locked in a do-or-die
was curiously the first country in South Asia to sign and
ratify the Mine Ban Treaty despite the fact that there are
mines along its border with Myanmar planted by the Myanmarese
army to put an end to cross border guerrilla activities.
However, the country which never produced and exported mines,
has a stockpile possibly for training and contingencies.
Nepal has not
signed the UN Treaty though the government appears to support
the ban. The reluctance to sign may be due to the increased
mayhem caused by Maoist insurgents. On the other hand, Bhutan
does not produce and use anti-personnel mines but has not
signed the Mine Ban Treaty or the Amended Protocol of CCW. In
the South Asian region, the Maldives was the second country to
have signed and ratified the treaty. Since, this tiny island
country has no army, it has obviously no requirement for
unlike in the West, enlightenment has not dawned on the South
Asian region on the harshness and extremity of the dangers
posed by landmines.
and Mallika Joseph deserve praise for brilliantly analysing
the subject and focusing on the severity of the problem in
conflict areas where landmines, IEDs and booby traps regularly
kill and injure not only security personnel but a large number
of civilians. In Jammu and Kashmir alone landmines have caused
death to 889 civilians and severe injuries to 7798 persons.
The book should prove to be a
great help in rousing public conscience in favour of banning
all anti-personnel mines in our region. Time has finally
arrived for the human rights groups in the subcontinent to
pressurise their respective governments not only to sign and
ratify the Mine Ban Treaty but also sincerely abide by its