The weak & strong
during World War-II
Review by V.N. Datta
week at a dinner attended by a section of Delhi’s
glitterati, a rich, professionally well-educated and well-travelled
businessman asked me, "Why should we study history any
more when so much of it has already been produced and
implication was that events which are indisputable do not
change and since their certainty is well-established, what is
the point in further digging up the past by using archival and
other tangible material.
Such a naive
attitude towards historical knowledge astonished me; possibly
such a view is shared by a number of people who are ignorant
of the value of history as a discipline.
interpretation of the past history is never a dogma or a fixed
notion. Each age has its own historians! That is why a variety
of interpretations on a particular theme add to our
understanding of the past. Diversity of views sharpen our
perception, widen our perspective, and bring us closer to a
sympathetic comprehension of the world we live in.
of World War II enriched by American, Soviet, German and
British scholars has given us valuable insights into the
traumatic events and its impact on world politics during
1940-46. The reputation of leaders who held key positions and
made decisions on crucial issues has gone up and down. Before
the war Churchill was condemned as a war-monger and Neville
Chamberlain was lauded as a peace-maker but after the war
Churchill was hailed as a hero and Chamberlain as a dismal
failure. How reputations soar and tumble which baffles
commonsense! Such a perspective is provided by Graham Stewart
in "Burying Caesar: The Churchill-Chamberlain
Rivalry" (Overlook, pages 553).
British Prime Minister from 1936 to 1940, is identified with
the policy of appeasement of Hitler’s Nazi Germany in the
period immediately preceding the war. In the earlier part of
the book, Stewart dilates on the early life of Chamberlain. He
belonged to an aristocratic family. He was the son of
statesman Joseph Chamberlain and the younger brother of Sir
Austin Chamberlain. During World War I Chamberlain joined
David Lloyd George coalition government as director-general of
national services but because of his indifferent health,
resigned. As a Conservative member of the House of Commons, he
held various positions such as Postmaster-General
Paymaster-General of the armed forces, Minister of Health
(1923, 1924-29, 1931), and Chancellor of Exchequer (1937). He
became the Prime Minister in March, 1937.
At a personal
level Chamberlain was well-meaning and of amiable disposition.
He meant no harm to anyone and was ever willing to accommodate
others. He recognised Italy’s supremacy in Ethiopia with a
view to avoiding a conflict with Italy. Similarly, he thought
it prudent to keep Britain out of the Spanish civil war
between 1936 and 1939.
embarking on a sinister policy of redrawing the map of Europe
by his aggressive expeditions. In the House of Commons strong
pressure was exerted on Chamberlain to abandon his policy of
"drift" and "vascillation". Winston
Churchill was the leader of this group which criticised
Chamberlain’s handling of the grave situation confronting
In the course
of a spirited debate on Chamberlain’s policy, Churchill
said: "The Prime Minister (Chamberlain) looks foreign
affairs through the wrong end of a municipal drainpipe".
Again, "At the depth of that dirty soil there is nothing
but abject surrender." Condemning Chamberlain’s policy
of appeasement, Churchill described an appeaser as one
"who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last".
vehement opposition to his policy, Chamberlain stuck to his
policy, and refused to budge from his decision to negotiate a
settlement with Hitler through peaceful means. So by Munich
agreement, Chamberlain and Premier Daladier of France granted
almost all of Hitler’s demands and left Czechoslovakia
attacked Poland on September 1, 1938, Chamberlain declared
war. Chamberlain remained Primer Minister during the period of
sporadic military action and took Churchill into his Cabinet.
But after British expedition to Norway in August, 1940,
Chamberlain lost the support of many Conservatives and
resigned on May 10, the day of German invasion of the low
striking feature of this work is that Stewart follows Plutarch’s
model of biographical writing in which he had analysed some
ancient Greek and Roman personalities by comparing and
contrasting them by focusing on their ideas and actions. In
this highly stimulating study, based on a detailed analysis of
private source-material hitherto unpublished and written with
verve and passion, Stewart raises the fundamental issue of
"rivalry" between Chamberlain and Churchill who
greatly influenced major diplomatic and political issues of
that Stewart grapples with is why Chamberlain preferred the
policy of appeasement. In other words, why did he want to
avoid war? Wat it that Chamberlain failed to understand
Hitler? Or was he acting as a sly fox marking time because he
had been strongly advised by the British service chiefs that
Britain was not adequately equipped and strong enough to fight
at the moment.
Cambridge man, who studied history and has not lived through
the war period, campares the family backgrounds of these two
antagonists. The families of these rivals were luminaries of
Victorian and Edwardian politics, but both of them were
frustrated. Churchill’s father, Lord Randolf Churchill died
of tertiary syphlus and failed to revive and revitalise the
Tory party along neo-Disraelian lines.
emphasises how the elder Joseph Chamberlain had cemented the
Empire by a programme of "imperial preference,"an
institution of tariffs that favoured imports from Commonwealth
countries. Within this perspective Stewart now turns to
Churchill and Chamberlain.
difficult to summarise Stewart’s analysis of Chamberlain’s
policy though he endorses the view that Chamberlain was
deceived by Hitler and he almost come close to mortgaging the
future of his country. Stewart points out that Chamberlain and
Churchill did not oppose each other initially and collaborated
in war against Nazism. Stewart questions a number of received
opinions of both the personalities. Temperamentally, Churchill
could be magnanimous and he showed due deference to
Chamberlain. Stewart stresses that Chamberlain as Chancellor
of Exchequer was a highly competent fiscal manager than his
counterparts in Paris or Washington.
clears Churchill of the usual charge that he tried to exploit
the great battle over India in 1933 or the abdication of
Edward VIII three years later. He argues that both parties to
the abdication believed in what they said and did. Both were
men of strong convictions, patriotic, highly self-respecting,
and committed to decency and finer values of life.
not view Chamberlain as a blundering fool who refused to see
the reality. In such a perception Stewart shares David
Charmley’s view that Churchill was impetuous and aggressive,
and was entirely responsible for pushing Britain into war and
liquidating the empire. On other controversial issues, Stewart
defends Churchill, particularly his dismissal of some of his
In a nutshell, Stewart’s
view is that Chamberlain was naive in the game of realpolitik
and dithered when the occasion demanded prompt action.
Churchill was the man of the hour who met the challenge by
united strength of allied powers.
feminist and anti-racialist
Review by Shelley Walia
of an African Farm
by Olive Schreiner. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Pages
Raymond Hoffenberg, Professor of Medical Ethics and President
of Wolfson College, Oxford introduced me to Olive Shchreiner’s
"The Story of an African Farm". He had been a
resident of South Africa in his young days and because of his
active anti-apartheid involvement, his entry had been banned
by the white regime. One afternoon, discussing the works of
the radical socialist and homosexual emancipationist Edward
Carpenter, he mentioned how a young writer, Olive Schreiner,
born at Wittebergen, Basutuland, in 1855 had travelled to
England in 1881 and had enrolled herself as a nurse at
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and soon developed intellectual
relationships with Edward Carpenter and George Moore, the
Irish exponent of naturalism, who in fact proposed to her but
African novelist, political activist and radical feminist had
sent the manuscript of the first great South African novel,
"The Story of an African Farm" (1883), to Browns but
it was not accepted. In 1883, it was on the recommendation of
George Meredith that Chapman and Hall published it and 15
editions were to follow during her lifetime. It was published
under the pseudonym, Ralph Iron, but it was not good enough to
hide the woman of 28 behind the writer who would soon be
involved in most of the radical and progressive socialist
movements in Britain. Indeed the novel transformed the shape
and course of the late Victorian novel.
I picked up a
recent reprint of this daring and intellectual novel published
by Oxford University Press in the series Oxford Classics from
Heffers at Cambridge.
a forceful intellect, aggressive feminist and open-minded
views on politics and society, and great vivacity that was
somewhat weakened by asthma and acute depression. In Britain
she came to be accepted in literary and political circles and
became a leading campaigner of women’s rights. Her
friendship with Cecil was brief as she caused a literary and
political storm in relation to his activities with her book
"Trooper Halkett of Mashonaland" which condemned the
colonisation of Rhodesia. In 1911 she published "Women
and Labour", in which she called men as sexual
bloodsuckers. A gutsy and avant-garde woman, she broke new
ground in her handling of women, and made numerous discerning
comments on the political prospect of South Africa, chiefly
the condition of blacks under apartheid.
title of the novel gives no idea of its content, it raises
simple questions of human nature and action. Apart from the
growth of the human mind, it deals with Orthodox Christianity,
Unitarian Christianity, woman’s suffering, dissolution of
marriage and women’s social and political independence. The
novel tells a disquieting story set in 1860s of a girl on an
isolated farm in the veld who fights back for her independence
in the face of rigid Boer social conventions. It is a story of
the hard life of Lyndall, Schreiner’s articulate and strong
willed young heroine, representing the contentious New Woman
of 19th century fiction.
Raised as an
orphan and a strict Calvinist amid a rough and ready family in
the plains of South Africa’s high Karoo, Lyndall observes
the ruthless world of colonial expansion and exploitation. Her
only true friends are Em and Waldo. Longing for a life of
proper education, she leaves the miserable and distressing
farm for a boarding school only to return after an ill-fated
relationship. She retires worn out to a secluded life in a
house in Bloemfontein where she is nursed back to health by a
farmer masquerading as a female nurse, the original prototype
of the sensitive and responsive New Man that Schreiner
Story of an African Farm" has a strong episodic structure
quite relevant to the fragmentary overtones of modernism. It
is full of instances of undeserved outcomes, forestalled
aspirations and sheer bathos. This is the acrid reality and
compassionlessness of life on the farm. Economic necessity
overwhelms filial ties; the disempowered are the only ones who
have some affection for one another, and paradoxically they
are the losers in the end.
deals with the agnostic and feminist concerns of Lyndall and
Waldo. Both children realise at the outset that they cannot
fit into a society based on institutions like Christianity.
Their attitudes and views, very much Nietzschean in spirit,
are harbingers of a brave new world where good and evil no
longer exist in any transcendental way. They do not believe in
a world of absolute values or divine sanction. Waldo is afraid
of the ticking of the watch that for him symbolises the
brevity of life, sending shudders. "Dying, dying, dying!/
Said the watch; "dying, dying, dying!"
This is an
anguished response to 19th century scientific developments
where the world becomes too chaotic and inhuman for a child;
old religious and political certainties collapse and undermine
much of orthodox Christian teaching. The subconscious motives
of Christianity and its slave morality are questioned as they
are taken as an attempt to emasculate the will power. Human
beings, it is argued, create truths for themselves that are
functional; concepts are never objective.
apparatus for conventional knowledge is an apparatus for
abstraction and simplification, directed not towards the
attaining of knowledge but taking possession of all things.
Indeed there is only falsehood and mendacity in all Christian
interpretations of history and the world. The individual,
therefore, has to take responsibility for his own actions in a
godless universe and make his own values in unfettered
freedom. Morality is nothing but the herd instinct and
represents those who are individually weak but collectively
strong; it is an evolutionary urge to survive.
aims at a life of free spirit and a daring venture for
knowledge where meaning is not fixed or timeless.
often claimed by imperialists to be a pagan continent without
a history, has a store of cosmography and meaning that
perplexes western forms of knowledge. This has a peculiar
allure for Waldo. Taken together, these particular elements of
Schreiner’s novel certainly emphasise a disjunction between
prevailing "Victorian precepts about history, religion,
and culture and the never-ending world of Karoo where the
stark ‘primitive’ farmlands and its seemingly ‘civilised’
European inhabitants do not cohere." Stretching out
towards the horizon, Africa surpasses the explanation offered
by the worldview transported by those invaders who have
originality, assured handling of narrative and description,
exotic background, and vigorous expression of feminist,
anti-Christian views on religion and marriage give it both
notoriety and wide appeal. Lingeringly and poignantly elegiac,
it became the first distinctly feminist narrative in English.
It stands up against conservative marriage, against frilly
frocks and the brutality of imperialism.
20th century occurrence of urbanisation and the separation of
the black and white races by government policy have
significantly affected the psychosomatic composition and thus
the literary expression of such English- and
Afrikaans-speaking whites, as well as of Africans. The moral
and artistic challenges inherent in South Africa’s situation
enthused Schreiner and kept her preoccupied with race
The novel displays impressive
technical abilities in bleak depictions of desolate landscapes
and alienation; the melancholic experience of individual
desolation are combined with a probing depiction of South
African political realities that almost succeeded in
smothering the craving for self-assertion and a social
identity. Restraint and wry humour are characteristic of the
novel. But Schreiner has dealt sympathetically with rural
Africa and is definitely the most eloquent voice of South
African liberal humanism as characterised by rhythmic prose, a
compassionate and incisive scrutiny of South Africa’s
tormented race relations and irony.
Ballad on bloody past
mua re kaun mua" is a disturbing text. Gurnaib Singh from
Garhangan village in Ropar district, now a teacher at Punjabi
University, Patiala, has done this by reliving those dark days
which most of us today shudder to remember. Think of Punjab
between 1984 to 1995! If one’s faculties are intact and if
one does not suffer from amnesia, he or she will not have a
sound sleep at least for a night or two.
like grass immediately strike roots after uprooting, start
growing, turning arid lands into oases. Punjab, in its
turbulent history, has seen many a great crisis but the one
faced in 1947 was perhaps the severest of all since it tore
the people apart not only physically but also socially,
psychologically, culturally and spiritually. Such a fractured
existence is almost unheard of in the history of the human
wrongs were committed by the forces that be — Germany,
Vietnam, Korea and so on — they have been either undone or
are in the process of being revoked. In the recent past the
second such crisis, when Punjab again had a bloodbath and a
schizoid psyche leading to physical and psychological atrophy
was in the eighties of last century.
has tried to capture those "days of despair" when he
was doing his honours degree in Punjabi literature in Panjabi
University, Patiala, and was deeply involved in student
politics that opposed Khalistan and militancy.
mua re kaun mua" (Ravi Sahit Parkashan, Amritsar) is a
book-length ballad (kaavgattha) on the arduous journey
of a village boy from a family of marginal farmers to become a
university teacher and a budding intellectual. While a
student, the boy comes in contact with Left student activists
but is soon overtaken by the events of 1984.
With the rise
of militancy in Punjab the boy figures prominently on the
terrorist hit list. A number of student activists and teachers
who did not subscribe to the Khalistan ideology were done to
begins at midnight and the protagonist is planning to go to
his village on the eve of his sister’s marriage. The village
is in the grip of terrorism. Bands of armed militants prowl
the fields where they stay at the tubewell shelters for the
night. For a man on the hit list it is extremely dangerous to
venture into the countryside where his opponents rule.
thinks of the various hit lists prepared by different tyrants
at different stages of history in Germany, Kabul, Lahore or
Delhi. He asks a rhetorical question: "What is the
difference between the hit list of ‘Singhs" made by the
later Mughal rulers and their cohorts to wipe out the entire
Sikh community and the other by the English to exterminate
revolutionaries during the freedom struggle and now the one
being carried by the Khalistani terrorists?"
avers: "Nindak han mai/ katal, kaatal/te hit list da/ Is
badle naam hai jekar mera/ hit list utte/tan mainu afsos nahi
wades through various hurdles and hassles that one has to face
if the family is caught in a debt trap and makes it difficult
to meet both ends after a day’s gruelling labour. The son is
sent to university to do his graduation, post-graduation and
then his research with the hope that one day he will become an
"officer" and would liberate the family from the
debt trap. Both his parents and his sisters have great
expectation from him but the boy instead becomes a student
activist belying all their hopes and gets a job as a
university teacher only when his three sisters have been
married off and his parents have grown old.
Operation Bluestar takes place, the Sikh psyche was badly
wounded, leaving a deep scar behind. There were myths galore
which the folk mind concocted such as, "The sant has not
been martyred. He has just escaped. He had the blessing of the
Gurus. He is now in Pakistan... Tanks failed to move and the
shell froze in the barrels. The Singhs repulsed the attack.
The Indian Army and the Delhi government were smitten by God’s
It was the
time when the people would switch off their radio and throw
away the newspaper. The author’s mother and father would
allege, "Dhakka hai Punjab naal/ Beadbi keeti hai Dilli
ne Guru ghar di." (Punjab has been wronged. Guru’s
house has been desecrated.)
people would have a lump in their throat and they would have
tears welling up in their eyes. They slept on the floor for
many a night. Then somebody would declare, "The sant
would appear on Pakistan TV. The entire village would have its
eyes glued on the only TV set (a dowry gift) that one
household proudly flaunted. When electricity failed at night,
they alleged, "This is a government of cheats. They cut
off the electric supply so that people should not have a
glimpse of the sant."
Punjab sank still deeper. There was a daily toll of lives.
There were daylight depredations and docoities which were soon
followed by rape and other crimes. The people would refuse to
see the truth. They would proclaim, "These are the
misdeeds of government touts. The militants have nothing to do
professors in university grew long beards. Some would plan
emigration to the West, others would advise their students to
lie low for some time till bad days are over.
protagonist goes to his village, he is shot in the back by
terrorists. He shouted, "I am not an Arjun but I know for
certain that you are an Abhimanyu who has entered the ‘chakarviyu’
and will not come out of it alive." Today we know many
militants were initially innocent boys who were sucked by hard
times into the whirlwind of ghastly events. Their escape route
was through the valley of death. Thousands of innocent people
perished. The inexorable dialectics of history has its own
logic which certainly is beyond the individual
"will". The ballad then passes through Anandpur
Sahib and via Chamkaur, Sirhind and Machhiwara reches Khadrane
of 1947 makes its grisly visitation. The long caravans of
uprooted and wretched people in utter despair are heading
towards an unknown destination on both sides of the Radcliff
Line. The events of 1947, though were more devastating, they
passed over swifty like a hurricane. But the events of the
eighties and the mineties had a rise, a climax and a
denouement that took more than a decade for things to come
back to normal.
There are two
superimposed woman characters in the balled — Amma Devki and
Bibi Fatima, the former is the grandmother of the protagonist
and the latter is supposed to be a daughter of Mohammed. They
have been introduced to fill the gaps in the narrative in the
manner of chorus in a Greek play.
question remains unanswered for the reader to meditate on —
"Why does a Punjabi become a rebel: a Ghadri, a Babber
Akali, a Bhagat Singh, an Udham Singh, a Naxalite, a comrade
or a Sikh militant?" The question needs an answer not a
death sentence or oppression or imprisonment.
If you don’t
answer this question it may appear in a different garb at a,
different time in any country of the world. The poem in a
nutshell gives a vivid description of the Sikh struggle since
the days of the Gurus. Then this struggle undergoes several
transformations, including that of the freedom struggle and
the trials of 1947 and the eighties.
perennial metaphors like the Sutlej, Sirsa, Bibi Fatima, Amma
Devki, Akal Takht, Machhiwara and Sirhind occur with all their
seven movements of the poem and they ramble through different
times and places with a back and forth movement trying to
capture the spirit of different epochs. In fact the past is
cast in the mould of the present in order to make it more
There is a
sharp focus on the state of peasantry in Punjab at the present
moment when farms do not generate a surplus. The education of
children, their marriage and other social and domestic
obligations eat up every-thing they produce, pushing many
farmers into a debt trap.
Thus this autobiographical
ballad becomes a tale of the most representative section of
the people of Punjab for whom the times have gone awry and
life utterly out of gear.
of Punjabi nationalism
Review by Roopinder Singh
and Nationalism in India: The Case of the Punjab
by Harnik Deol. Routledge Studies in the Modern History of
Asia, Routledge, London, New York. Pages 200. Rs 1,400.
is a term that means different things to different people at
different points of time. Trying to pin down the concept can
be a daunting task. Add to it a touch of religion and the odds
et this is
what the writer of this book has done, and managed to come out
unscathed rather well. In its simplest sense, nationalism is
the devotion to the interests or culture of a particular
nation. For the author nationalism represents an ideology and
movement on behalf of the nation and incorporates both
political and cultural dimensions.
that many scholars like the historian J. D. Cunningham argue
that the Sikhs constituted a nation during the time of
Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The way the notion of nationalism
developed in India is different from the historic developments
in Europe, which is seen by scholars against the backdrop of
the Industrial Revolution. In India, nationalism had a
cultural and religious context and "religion dominated
the social bond that defined the characteristics of the
with Deol in that it would be misleading to examine the
emergence of Hindu nationalism as a single phenomenon.
Religious groups have subsections and are divided on caste,
regional, linguistic and other lines. She traces the recent
resurgence of religious nationalism to the weakening of
political instituitions and loss of faith in secular
institutions. One would also add here a general weakening of
the moral fabric that has lead to divisiveness where religious
masks masquerade as moral exemplars.
the historical routes of Sikh consciousness, the author
maintains that Guru Nanak's emphasis on Gurbani, and not on
personal devotion to himself was of great significance,
especially in the egalitarian community that he established at
Kartarpur. The tradition of combining religious and social
aspects, the establishment of the instituition of langar at
Kartarpur, the compilation of the Adi Granth by Guru Arjan Dev
are all significant to the establishment of a common communal
consciousness. With the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev under the
orders of Mughal Emperor Jehangir, who was concerned about the
growing influence and the expansion of the Sikhs, Guru
Hargobind, his son, proclaimed the Miri-Piri doctrine under
which religious and temporal aspects were bonded.
after the Gurus, till the annexation of Punjab (1706-1849),
saw the rise of the 12 "misls" and the Sikh kingdom
of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Sikhs were only 10 per cent of the
population of this kingdom, with Muslims constituting 80 per
cent and the Hindus 10 per cent. Sikh rule was secular and it
gave the Sikhs a successful institutional framework for
articulating political aspirations.
advent of the British came fresh challenges, especially in the
form of state-supported Christian missionaries that gave rise
to reform movements like the Arya Samaj and the Singh Sabha.
It was during this period that the Sikh voice for a
distinctive identity took the form expressed in Bhai Kahan
Singh's book Ham Hindu Nahin! This was also the period
of the gurdwara reform movement when mahants were
removed from gurdwaras and eventually the Shiromani Gurdwara
Parbandhak Committee came into being. The handing over of the
keys of the toshakhana of Darbar Sahib to the SGPC by
the British authorities was greeted by Mahatma Gandhi with the
following telegram: "Congratulations, first decisive
battle for India's freedom won" (The Tribune, January 17,
The SGPC gave
the Akali Dal, which has dominated it since its inception, a
considerable hold over Punjab politics. The Akalis
participated in the nationalist campaign for Independence,
though they had their grouse with the majority communities,
especially the decision to grant 33 of the 175 seats in the
Punjab Legislative Assembly to the Sikhs, which constituted an
18 per cent representation.
that the interplay between the general growth in literacy,
communications and the expansion of imperial bureaucracy, on
one hand, and the socio-religious reforms on the other, gave
birth to religio-linguistic nationalism at the end of the 19th
century in Punjab; print capitalism facilitated the historic
formation of languages of everyday life to the sacred
languages of scriptures.
Independence, the demand for "Punjabi Suba", or a
Punjabi-speaking state, dominated the politics of Punjab from
1950 to 1966. During the linguistic re-organisation of states
in 1956, the demand of Punjabi being the basis of such
reorganisation was not initially recognised. The prospect of
having little political leverage as a minority community
raised Akali apprehensions as they sought to protect the
language and religion in a Hindu-dominated society. The Arya
Samaj protagonists aggressively promoted Hindi as the language
amongst the Hindus and opposed the adoption of Punjabi as an
official language in Punjabi-speaking regions of the state.
This lead to
confrontation and much acrimony. The Akali demand was rejected
by the State Reorganisation Commission and the Akali Dal
launched its Punjabi Suba agitation and eventually it resulted
in the trifurcation of the state in September, 1966, and saw
the emergence of the Akali Dal as the ruling party.
Sahib resolution of 1973 became the subject of considerable
controversy, though various Akali leaders have gone on record
saying it had no secessionist overtones, though this is what
the Congress alleged. The prolonged and often acrimonious
negotiations for socio-economic demands of the Akalis and the
Central government, to which they were opposed, are
"partially responsible for beginnings of the Sikh armed
that the lack of tacit support for guerrilla resistance by a
broad cross-section of the rural and the urban Sikh population
lead to the virtual disintegration of the movement."
that the Green Revolution was an agent of change for the Sikh
peasantry and the new agricultural technology was unfavourable
to the lower strata of the population.
the role of the vernacular Press, Deol says it has
"played a critical role in heightening religious
identification in recent years by reinforcing the linguistic
basis of religious identity. Consequently, a composite Punjabi
identity, shared by all religious communities failed to emerge
in Punjab. This underlines the widespread support that the
Sikh movement for Khalistan elicited from the Sikh
point out that there is a distinct Punjabi identity that
emerges at many forums, including various interactions amongst
the Punjabi diaspora. The divisive politics that had overtaken
the state at the time did find reflection and support among
elements of the diaspora, it did not obliterate the
commonalities, and they were merely swept under the force of
the vents and have re-surfaced.
Deol has undertaken, as noted
in the beginning, a difficult task. She has covered a vast
canvas in this study, which is a revised version of her PhD
thesis on sociology presented at the London School of
Economics in 1996. She is now based in Geneva and works for
the United Nations Council for Trade and Development, UNCTAD.
Routlegde is to be commended for publishing a work that is
sure to be a reference point for further studies as a part of
its modern history of Asia series.
end of an empire
Review by Rumina Sethi
Granta Books, London. Pages 300. £14.99.
in Russia would often frighten their children by saying,
"Behave yourself or they will deport you to
Siberia." For them, Siberia was not only a freezing, icy
space but a land of oppression. In more democratic countries
like Canada or American Alaska, one does not hear parents
frightening their children by saying they will send them to
the freezing north. This is because there is no dictatorship
here. In the latter countries, there is only one antagonist
— the cold. But in Siberia, there are three: the cold,
hunger and the armed force. Such notions of fear, torture, and
suffering became integral to the Russian psyche and were used
to advantage in imperialist ventures..
impressions of alien dominance captured the mind of Rysard
Kapuscinski who had his first brush with Soviet power as a
child in Poland when Stalinist terror was at its peak. It is
unfortunate to have one’s homeland occupied by an outsider.
In the eyes of a growing child, this often leads to trauma,
especially when his father is forced into captivity and his
close relatives, friends, and classmates pushed into
"deportation" — a strange word that the child does
not understand. He asks his mother who wants to answer the
question but only breaks down.
As an adult,
Kapuscinski returns to the USSR, again to witness the
fragmentation of the Soviet Union. One of the world’s
greatest foreign correspondents, he was born in Pinsk, then
part of Poland, and now Belaru. During the 1950s and 1960s, he
worked for the Polish Press Agency, bringing out heart-rending
accounts of 27 revolutions and coups around the world. His
other book, "The Soccer War", brought him wider
fame. His writings have spurred agencies upholding human
rights to even more diligently protect the citizens of the
world from oppression and safeguard fundamental human rights
such as free expression, freedom from discrimination and a
fair trial under the due process of law.
occupation in Poland had left an indelible impression on the
mind of young Kapuscinski, which finally became the force
behind the writing of "Imperium" that recounts
Russia’s compelling and horrifying tyranny:
first encounter with the Imperium takes place near the bridge
linking the small town of Pinsk, Poland, with the territories
to the south. It is the end of September, 1939. War is
everywhere. Villages are burning; people are taking shelter
from air raids in ditches and in forests, seeking salvation
wherever they can. . . . Crowds of refugees, fleeing in dust,
dirt, panic. What do they need so many bundles for, so many
suitcases? Why so many tea kettles and pots? Why are they
cursing? Why are they constantly asking questions? All of them
are walking, riding, running somewhere — nobody knows
soldiers, aiming their rifles at the fleeing people, the child
Kapuscinski saw his mother as well as other women and children
crying and begging for mercy, kneeling on the road, sobbing
and stretching out their arms. All of it seemed so dreadful
and incomprehensible to him at the age of seven.
is a collection of essays which begin with memories of the Red
Army’s entry into Kapuscinski’s home village of Pinsk. It
then covers his repeated trips to the USSR right up to the end
of the Gorbachev period. Growing up in the terribly harsh and
troublesome environment, Kapuscinski became a curious citizen
who could not help but question the history of occupation
where people have no freedom to question its legitimacy. This
curiosity took him to the northern "circle of hell"
where the Soviet power ruthlessly employed Polish labour force
for economic benefits from coal and gold mines. Kapuscinski
writes passionately: "More constructions of barbed wire
clasping together the sky and the earth, clinging to every bit
of frozen field, to the white landscape, to the icy horizon.
On the face of it, this thorny, rapacious barrier stretching
along the border seemed like an absurd and surreal idea, for
who would force his way through here?"
difficult to penetrate the Red Army’s barbed wire in this
area but Kapuscinski fearlessly forced his way through. He
later went on to join the rebels in the Nagorny Karabakh
region by disguising himself as an Armenian pilot.
It is this
boyish energy that compelled him to risk his life in his
search for facts under the very nose of the brutal and
invincible overreacher that Russia had become. The book "Imperium"
comes out of these tortuous and solitary travels across his
country and Russia. It is as fascinating as his previous book,
"The Emperor", which is a very definitive account of
the last leg of Haile Selassie’s rule. All dictators,
irrespective of epoch or country, have one common trait: they
know everything, are experts on everything. Be it Gaddafi or
Ceacescu, Idi Amin or Alfredo Stroessner - there is no end to
their profundity and wisdom.
is a diatribe against Stalinism, highlighting the spectacle of
Stalin’s architectural mutilation of the old Moscow. It is
an account of cruelty which exists only for the sake of
cruelty that is institutionalised so visibly in the torture
and humiliation of new recruits to the Red Army, leading to
their unbearable deaths at the hands of their own countrymen.
The very form of the book is a case of "parataxis"
— a fragmentary account of the erstwhile Soviet Union which
finally went to pieces. The promise of a unified account comes
to a disappointing break-up symbolising the collapse of all
notions of humanness; this is the very content of a form that
brought about havoc in the wake of tyrannical imperialism..
Kapuscinski sees nationalism, racism, and religious
fundamentalism as the "three plagues" responsible
for the inhuman and violent conditions in pre- and post-Soviet
Union era. Russia has often been described as the last
European empire which apparently lasted the longest and also
disintegrated faster than all previous imperial enterprises.
Russia was no more than a colony in the same pattern as the
non-Russian republics where people lived under oppressive
conditions of injustice, violence and dispossession.
Kapuscinski is not interested in arguing why the Soviet Union
disintegrated. He merely takes political snapshots of a
country falling apart. He is not a political analyst but a
writer who uses his imagination along with his experience of
history and knowledge of human behaviour to depict a nation
"in pursuit of suffering" As he writes of his
teacher who disappeared one day, "Why did they take our
teacher? He was constantly nervous and looked out of the
window frequently. He was always serious and seemed very sad.
He was good to us and if a student stammered while reading
Stalin, he didn’t shout and even smiled a little."
speaks of a Russian nation which is vast, where the road that
a traveller takes seems to have no end. One can walk along it
for days and months but the landscape stretches forever. The
plains and forests and rivers are endless. It was such a large
state that the Russian wanted to rule over, to maintain. And
thus the Russian had to burn up all his energy "for
organisation, for husbandry and so on." He expended his
energy on a state that both enthralled and oppressed him.
believes that this limitlessness of Russia has a negative
effect on the thinking of its citizens. It does not demand of
him concentration or the creation of a dynamic, vigorous
culture. Everything drowns in a formless, ungraspable expanse
that leaves room for little else but a crushing sense of
according to Kapuscinski, gave "some victims a special
opportunity to become villains" leaving millions of
people orphaned and hungry. The children of such nations who
learn stealing and wander barefoot through the country learnt
violence and hatred "holding the nation in the grip of
bestial fear". Drawing attention to the mess floating on
the floors of airport lavatories, Kapuscinski foregrounds the
squalor which is the very essence of "Imperium".
"The horror, the
horror!" As one recalls, it was a Russian who steered
Conrad’s Captain Marlowe to the heart of darkness. From this
imperium emerges no good news. Only a void full of "the
uselessness of suffering". Here is a sensitive attempt by
Kapuscinski at evoking an assembly of experiences of Russia
and its dominions. Like Conrad, he has told the Russian story
of the "brutal destruction of dignity, of truth, of
rectitude, of all that is faithful in human nature".
speaks like a Bohemian
Review by M.L. Sharma
The Act of
Living by Anita Duhan.
APH Publishing, New Delhi. Pages 300. Rs 200.
Act of Living" teaches the art of living. The author is
not a well-known essayist and her genre of writing is
different from others. She does not follow the style of either
Vincent Peele or Swett Marden and there are no references of
successful people who followed certain principles and ascended
the ladder of glory. The book consists of pithy sentences
written after much meditation or reflection on the deeper
aspects of life. Her approach is pragmatic and in that way she
is close to William James, the well-known American
Her style is
also quite different from Francis Bacon, Hazlitt or Charles
Lamb but in her expression she bears distant resemblance to
Walter Pater and George Santayana in some of her "gems of
thoughts". She is rational in her approach. She has given
expression to a main thought on each page followed by allied
thoughts, explaining the main thought. She is of course
original and has not drawn from other sources.
and Shiv Khera, world famous writers, do not seem to have
inspired her. She is not religious in her approach to several
significant or spiritual issues in providing guidelines for
living in the present situation and milieu. To her prayer is
exalted begging". But still she is thoughtful in several
ideas just as: "Our cheerfulness and happiness, our
depression and sadness, are tides high and low. Both are must
as part of the flow. A turn from one to the other may be
desirable or not but that makes us know that we are
She does not
offer any kaleidoscopic view of the world scenario. The
hallmark of her writing is originality, deep meditation and
reasoned treatment of issues and ideas, however cynical they
may sound. Instead of calling the world maya or illusory or
describing people as passengers in the train of life, she has
quite a different view and approach and considers them as
guests posing as hosts. In a few telling sentences she
explains this truth. "We are guests in the world but are
trying to be hosts. Thereby, we are even endangering our
respect of being the responsible guests. Moreover, the guests
are always free and cheerful and the host hesitant and
fearful." The last sentence is quite poetic in
In her first
meditation on page 1 she lays stress on individual freedom and
takes man not as a particle or a bubble in the ocean of
existence. Unlike Gurdjief, she believes that man has his own
history. She would not relish the thought of Gurdjief
appearing "In Search of the Miraculous": "Man
should realise that he can lose nothing because he has nothing
to lose." She says,"Everybody is a page of your life
history. The good thing is that you are the writer. Whatever
you write or keep that blank it is up to you. But the bad
thing is that the page is daily turned over."
philosophical subjects of origin and creation she has her own
way of understanding. She maintains that light is uncreated or
a priory. "Every phenomenon," she muses, "in
the world starts from the past and pushed forward. Light was
there, eyes originated, sound was there, ears
Like Osho she
believe in the power of sex and condemns celibacy as a sign of
sickness. "It is disloyalty to future life, misuse of
present life and faithlessness for past life." For her
celibacy is a "living fullstop".
cynical and agnostic when she talks about God. "Don’t
thank God for your well-being... The idea of God makes us
instantly strong but permanently weak."
that nothing is free in nature and there is no free will.
Everything, including birth, in nature is accidental. She does
not approve of significant role of saints in life. "The
various saints and swamis... give fake fantasy but receive
real respect. Beware of their sweet but spurious
her, is the cheapest means of entertainment. Man to her is
selfish by nature and her understanding of man resembles that
of Thomas Hobbes.
thoughts she sounds naive but, of course, interesting. About a
woman behind every successful man, she says, "What a male
superstition conspired by female obsession that there is
always a woman behind the success of every man. But what about
the successful woman? Are they all lesbians". Apparently
these sentences appear sarcastic but they conceal a truth. For
happier living she counsels self-dependence and reliance on
one’s own self. The feeling of hopelessness, she says, may
cause a heart attack and of helplessness cancer.
expect good from others nor accept your ill. Practice
enthusiasm and be cheerful, to always feel thrill."
Self-reliance, enthusiasm and cheerfulness are most vital in
life and one should not feel small in the presence of
successful men. She does not favour family planning. "It
is a deadly conspiracy against the future generations."
She is not
happy with adult fascination for sports. "Ball is meant
for a child." She holds the view that adults should mind
their own business and leave the playground for children.
The book will
delight the reader who does not seek any serious thought for
his uplift, mentally and spiritually, but only wants to have
an inkling of practical wisdom in all walks of life. In her
obsession with sex she has surpassed Byron, Osho, Shobha De
and Kamla Das and her advice on page 203 is deleterious to
social morality: "A healthy man should have desire for
sexual intimacy with all the beautiful women of the world. But
a healthy man should have desire only for one or two handsome
men." Even Byron could not dream of intimacy with all the
beautiful women of the world. His obsession was restricted
only to the British royalty. Even Casanova would blush hearing
such words emanating from the pen of an Indian lady!
permissiveness and belittling of the role of spiritualism in
life are her main characteristics. She is pan-sexualist like
Freud. For instance on page 124 we come across the following
sentence: "We like flowers apparently for their beauty
but actually and deeply for their resemblance to the sex
organs of the females."
Her philosophy pertaining to
sexuality can be summed up in the words of Will Durant:
"In the midst of our machines we have lost sight of the
fact that basic reality in life is not politics nor industry
but human relationship — the association of men with women
and parents with a child. About these two focii of love —
mate love and mother love — all love revolves." The
book is a bold attempt at original thoughts (opinion?) and
makes interesting reading.
Sick public health policy
Review by Randeep Wadehra
Health and Poverty of Reforms by Imrana Qadeer,
Kasturi Sen and K. R. Nayar.
Sage Publications, New Delhi. Pages: 547. Rs 700.
is it so difficult to bring about necessary structural changes
in our society in order to facilitate better health facilities
for all? What prevents us from ensuring a smooth transition
from the present chaotic social health sector to a more
poverty, social backwardness, inequitable distribution of
wealth, skewed power structure and several other similar
problems of colossal dimensions faced the newly independent
South Asian countries. To these, add rising import bill,
increase in real interest rate and foreign debt and you have
some idea of the misery of these countries which are trying to
modernise themselves. Consequently, all developmental efforts
face daunting financial crunch. Out of the total South Asian
external debt of $ 150 billion in 1999, India’s share was as
high as US $ 98.87 billion. The authors trace the genesis of
this huge debt burden to the 1973 oil crisis.
attempts to provide a global context to the health sector
scene in South Asia. "It moves away from the prevailing
neo-classical framework of analysis of health sector reforms
to look at the health sector through epidemiological, health
and social sciences, rooted in alternative theoretical
moorings." The authors look at the health sector beyond
traditional concepts of markets, medical technologies,
overpopulation, etc. and give due weightage to social
processes born out of conflicting and complementary economic,
political, social and cultural realities.
concentrates on "complexities and processes and on
unraveling the internal and external linkages of the health
sector in order to draw attention to the challenges of health
planning in South Asia."
Banerji in his paper states that in the recent past there has
been a distinct tendency among some "responsible
international organisations and aid agencies" to describe
the conditions prevailing in the region as being worse than
they actually are. He dubs their database "dubious".
He strongly feels that there is need for incorporating
important political, historical, socio-cultural,
epidemiological and related dimensions in the analysis of
Bennett cautions, "Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs)
are not simple instruments for rectifying macro-economic
imbalances through the imposition of policies, such as
currency devaluation, privatisation, trade liberalisation, and
cuts in government spending, as proclaimed. They may be viewed
instead as carefully engineered projects for generating social
and economic transformation in the interests of the countries
of the North."
out that both the World Bank and the IMF give loans to poor
countries in the name of development. Then they are told that
in order to be able to pay off the loans and be eligible for
more they should undergo structural adjustment reforms. This
sets off a vicious circle. Instead of resolving their economic
crisis, such programmes cripple the Third World economies.
referring to the situation in Bangladesh, avers that the
health and social sectors there are a product of donor-driven
development strategy led by the USA. She goes on to say,
"East Pakistan had been an internal colony of West
Pakistan. The agrarian surpluses of the former have been
expropriated to meet the needs of industrial development of
West Pakistan. A particular form of military-bureaucratic
state structure and the powerful alliance between feudal,
commercial, trade, military and bureaucratic forces, more or
less, can be seen as the consequence of a particular
development strategy adopted in the post-colonial
that lack of relevant tradition and historiography has
prevented careful scrutiny and analysis of developmental plans
that decide the fate of millions.
Koivusalo, however, observes that a close scrutiny of the
public sector reforms taking place in Europe reveals
similarities with the structural adjustment and health sector
reforms that have been implemented in developing countries.
She goes on to say, "These changes may be related to the
ideological domination of right-wing policies backed by
neo-liberal economic prescriptions, all of which have altered
the focus of policy action and understanding of the role of
the state." Does this observation have any relevance to
the present BJP-led NDA dispensation in India?
Here is a
book that takes a comprehensive view of health care and
poverty amelioration related programmes in South Asia. The
focus is unrelentingly on the roles of the state and
international agencies. Statistics have been provided wherever
needed. Tables and charts make this book invaluable for social
scientists and policy makers alike.
Business Systems in Developing Countries
by Gurli Jakobsen and Jens Erik Torp.
Sage Publications, New Delhi. Pages 260. Rs 225.
It was taken for
granted that development was a state function. In fact most of
the literature concentrated on development-related functions
with focus solely on the state. Things are changing now. It is
being increasingly recognised that business, especially of the
private sector, too has an important part in the progress of a
developing economy. The authors observe, "...the changes
which have taken place during the past 15 years in the
macro-economic setting and in the role of the various economic
actors have led to new types of societal dynamics..."
into sharp focus the role of local companies as "socially
embedded and acting economic organisations".
point out that in the wake of structural adjustment and
liberalisation a number of new and important questions should
be raised about the role of local companies. This may very
well lead to a reexamination of the existing notions of
relations between private companies, the state and society.
In order to
understand the various processes involved in development
efforts in "the South" it is important to be aware
of various theoretical approaches to the study of business
development. Since the theoretical field of such study is vast
one might confine one’s investigation to a critical review
of the business systems approach. This approach, developed
over the past decade, is "based on the practical and
empirical experience of a number of East Asian
seeks to highlight the concept of "business system"
as elaborated by Richard Whitley and associates. According to
Whitley, business systems are "particular arrangements of
hierarchy-market relations which become institutionalised and
relatively successful in particular contexts... They develop
and change in relation to dominant social institutions,
especially those important during processes of
assumes that there are some features of the way economic
actors are organised that are characteristic of and particular
to a specific country, and are the result of historically
the business systems approach, this book also examines other
theories. One such is what Kaplinsky calls the "Easternisation"
theory that studies the Japanese-oriented techniques and
management practices. A third approach is the old research
focus on TNCs. In fact this one has been revived owing to the
increasing direct investments by TNCs in the developing world,
and the impact that they have had on such countries.
seeks to present, contrast and elaborate on various approaches
to the study of contemporary business transformations and
developments in the South "in order to re-examine
critically the business systems approach as an appropriate
theoretical framework which can further the understanding of
the dynamics and trajectories of the private sector of
developing countries in the 1990s".
Humanism by Manjit Kalra.
Unistar Books, Chandigarh. Pages 204. Rs 140.
economists have been trying, quite successfully, to keep the
human angle firmly in focus while formulating various economic
theories. Adam Smith, Robert Malthus and Karl Marx are some of
the names that one recalls in this context. Today one talks of
Amartya Sen as the latest heavyweight champion of welfare
economics who recommended concerted public action in the 1960s
in order to avert the possibility of famines and social
that market-led growth cannot ensure freedom from misery and
want. He refers to the five freedoms enunciated by Sen –
namely, creative freedom, participatory freedom, transactional
freedom, procedural freedom and protective freedom. Failure to
ensure these freedoms result in illiteracy, gender inequality,
child labour, bonded labour, political restrictions,
corruption and similar other ills.
Kalra goes on
to claim that such social rot can lead to revolution. One
thought that the era of revolutions is long over. Today’s
international climate is certainly not conducive to such
radical upheavals. However, social and political conflicts do
crop up as a result of economic injustice. These lose their
momentum due to lack of ideological ballast. Witness the
conflict in some of the African states and one realises what
ideology could have done by providing direction to the
exploited. Alas! The age of ideology is over. As an editorial
put it, we live in the era of junk ideology.
Sweet and saltish
Review by Darshan
of Love and Humour: (Punjabi bolian) transcreated by
Ajit Khullar. Virago Publications, New Delhi. Pages 70. Rs
art of translating poetry has received an insightful and
erudite attention in the past few decades as, indeed, is the
case with other genres and forms of verse. Increasingly, it
has been evolving its own aesthetic or poetics, and the
emphasis has shifted from rendering to recreation. The 19th
century concepts of translating verse were found inadequate in
reproducing the aura, the local colour, the ambience and
indeed, the spirit of the original poem into another tongue.
preamble is intended to point out the directions which Ajit
Khullar’s muses have taken to bring about the happiest
"effects". No wonder, he has had to do a fair amount
of poetic vaulting and joy-riding to keep the steeds in hand,
even as they kicked up a lot of dust and heat en route.
Considering the nature of his enterprise — putting Punjabi
folk songs into a racy, juicy and jocund idiom — it was, I
think, the right thing to use a mixed lexicon of native idiom
and English-American folk language, slang and new, innovative,
under review carries a select, though varied, sampling of an
overflowing trove of Punjabi bolian. 222 in all, a
number that itself seems to suggest something to the
imagination of patterns. Khullar has judiciously spread his
fare to include many a dish from the Punjabi cuisine of milk
and meat and one finds the sense of abandon in these little
folk songs of love and humour. All, of course, in apposite
It may be
observed that bolian are only one striking form of
Punjabi songs which comprehend various and colourful skeins of
phulkari. From songs of harvesting, seasons, fruit and
flowers to wedding ditties, mock, satirical couplets directed
against the groom’s folks and friends called sithanian such
as the songs accompanying the two dominant male and female bhangra
and giddha forms, ensembles of dance and other
aspects of creature, diurnal life, all rich in humour and
indicative of the Punjabi spirit of buoyancy, or joie vivre,
there is an ever-expanding genre, spontaneous and generally
anonymous, incremental, absorbing new life-styles, new idioms
as a result of commercialisation, entertainment industry, etc.
sense of plentitude and expansiveness in Punjabi folk songs,
in this case, bolian, has a compulsive touch about it.
Moving round the axis of Eros in all human — and
"mystic" aspects — these love ditties have
structured a palace of pleasure and dalliance in which the
honey and salt of love, the aroma of "the body’s
rapture" in a miniature manner have enacted for us the
story of the great Indian temples and frescoes rich in detail,
asanas and postures of love where the earth and the
heaven come together in nuptials.
This is high
praise not for the volume under review (which has its own
limitations alongside its beauties), but for the folk poetry
of these parts. I have seen some earlier attempts to render bolian
into English, and I find Khullar’s effort deeply
rewarding. Yes, two strong "cheers" for it — like
raising a mix of wine and vinegar to the lips in a ceremony of
theme is too large to be contained in a review of this nature,
and I can at best only pick up a few strains from Punjab’s
racial, immemorial consciousness, a corporate entity
conditioned by history and geography, and thus, by that border
state existence which in generations helps create sinews, not
only of the body and heart, but also of the spirit.
So, there is
now the occasion or the moment to savour some of those
inebriating bolian, preserved in the cellars of people’s
consciousness and now recreated by Khullar, preserving as well
as he could the tang, the saltishness, the stinging sweetness,
the tilt and swing of the Punjabi songs — now a rage in the
entertainment industry and a passion even in those countries
abroad where Punjabis are settled in large numbers.
There are so
many frames of idyllic to erotic love before me, and
therefore, the selection is intended as an aperitiff.
It is not
surprising to find the imagery and the metaphors drawn from
the daily business and traffic of life in rural Punjab. Wine
and viands, meat and masala, milk and curds etc. are
turned into a joyous feast for the ear. Here is the call of
the aching body in the monsoon-megha days.
luscious levities/Of the raintide spell/My bedstead
posts/Weep, weep like hell!"
thighs are perfectly bottle green/Full of red red wine/Who the
devil keeps you fro’ then,/Your bashfulness or mine."
lover or husband is out on duty somewhere, chiefly in the
army, and the unlettered wife or beloved is longing for his
miles away, my dear,/Your letter gets, all the share/Of my
bosom’s warm fair,/My crazy love my care.
reminds me of one of my own favourite couplets (not included
in Khullar’s volume):
letter’s deciphered by others;/I’m content to kiss the
of dawn I go to pick/cottonheads in the field!/do come after
me stalking,/won’t you pick your yield?
scores of such suggestive, erotically inviting, naughtily
provocative, teasing bolian:
man is rather/Annoyed with you,/Who will plough/Your patch,
And shades of
dark sexuality, of illicit amour:
is so tall and stout/Besides being single, horny, bullish;/He’s
a real lady-killer, I find,/He scares me, he’s, frankly,
young filly, Lacchi (a popular name in folk music), is thus
sketched many a bawdy song:
is a shrew who flirts;/Lout-lovers haunt her skirts".
male symbols of lusting sexuality are openly named, and at
times the line between candidness and abscenity does get
structure of rural society too is mirrored fairly frequently
in between these love songs. Here the caste-consciousness of
Jats who consider themselves a cut above the rest showing
residues of feudal culture, and lording it over, their women
folk cannot but be thus oriented!
a retailer’s/Child nuptially tied/To a tardy trader,/A
"I am a
cussed carpenter’s wife/Who’s to broom and sweep aside/His
pushy planer’s crypto-doings/Instead of the sweet soft
I may at this point observe
that Khullar does seem to create "the effect", and,
in the process, lose control over the idea. For instance, the
use of a modern world like "crypto", appears to me
to strike a forced, if not false, note. And there are some
other such examples in the volume. But I repeat, no one can
find the right phrase for the right occasion, chiefly because
as even the Marxian critic, Maxwell Caudwell put it in his
classic "Illusion and Reality", poetry is,
fundamentally, "untranslatable". For no translator,
whatever his endowments and skill, can re-create the same
order of words with their own unique aroma and ambience.