The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, June 24, 2001

The mysterious world of patents
Review by P. K. Vasudeva

The roots of regional tension
Review by Randeep Wadehra

Writing, Himachal and society
Review by Satyapal Sehgal

Mind your mind please
Review by Kuldip Kalia

Reading classics with today’s sensibilities
Review by D.R. Chaudhry

The head-strong vs the scheming
Review by V.N. Datta

Disagree, don’t be disagreeable
Review by Roopinder Singh

Growing up with age
Review by Jaspal Singh


The mysterious world of patents
Review by P. K. Vasudeva

Gearing up for Patents: The Indian Scenario
by Parabuddha Ganguly, University Press, Hyderabad. Pages 288. Rs 205.

TECHNOLOGY is increasingly becoming a valuable commercial or tradable asset, and a dominant factor in determining international competitiveness. The strength of the industrialised world is shifting to knowledge-based industries and "intellectual" goods. These countries have a clear and decisive lead in new and frontier technologies such as information, communication, and biotechnology, which are witnessing dramatic advances. Piracy in the pharmaceutical, chemical, film, and computer software sectors is a common phenomenon, causing huge losses to the owners of these intellectual goods. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) have therefore assumed great importance in the world today.

With liberalisation, globalisation, modernisation and privatisation in India, IPR has taken a The front seat in the international business. The author in this volume offers a thorough knowledge of IPR tools, which are essential to secure a competitive edge in both local and global markets.

The essential features of the book are a definition of the aspects and process of patenting in India; a simple, comprehensive and user-friendly treatment of the subject; case studies and examples to illustrate the issues involved; and guidance on effective communication with a patent attorney.

In the introductory chapter, the author has explained the scope of IPR. He has also explained how the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Rights (TRIPS) agreement became part of the of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The author has described in detail all branches of TRIPS agreement, patents, copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs, geographic appellations, integrated circuits, and trade secrets.

In another chapter, "Patents in historical perspective" he reveals that the patent was first introduced in the 15th century in the Republic of Florence Venice in 1421. Statutes of monopolies proposing grant of exclusive rights to inventors for a period of 14 years came in Great Britain in 1623, In India patent was first introduced in 1856. At present patents are governed by the Indian Patent Act 1970 the amendment Bill of 1999 of this Act is in Parliament.

In a chapter "Patenting in India" an overview has been given. It is sufficient for a novice to understand the nitty gritty of patents. This is an important chapter that gives details of the filing of patents, the offices, the details of organisations like Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, which have 40 laboratories and are doing a tremendous work regarding patents.

This chapter has a large number of graphics, charts and figures that explain the whole gamut of patents.

The author has explained in a chapter on "Patents: some basics", what is patentable and what is non-patentable. They are frivolous claims contrary to well-established natural laws, anything contrary to law or morality, or injurious to public health, a method of agriculture or horticulture, inventions relating to atomic energy, and products made by chemical synthesis foods, and medicines. On the other hand, "art", "process" method or "manner of manufacture" must relate to making of something, which could be a substance, an article, or a machine are all patentable. It can utilise known principles, substances, equipment, etc., but ultimately the "invented process" must result in either a "more efficient" or a "cheaper" way of making the material or could even lead to a "purer" product or "more useful" end result.

In most cases, inventions are "incremental improvements" of existing practices products but to be patentable they must satisfy the basic requirements stated above.

The author has given in detail the stages of patenting laid down by the Indian Patent Act 1970 and identification of patent opportunity during project progress. Is the invention has novelty, non-obviousness and utility? Other guidelines are; prior search; filing of patent application in India with provisional specification before any public disclosure of the invention, consider matter for international filing; generate further examples to support the invention; technical examination by patent office; acceptance of patent and publication in the Gazette; and opposition by competitor, if any.

The opposition to a patent has been dealt in detail by the author and a separate chapter has been devoted for the same, as it is one of the most important in finalising the patent. Case studies have also been given at the end of the chapter. Restoration of lapsed patents and surrender of patents have also been dealt in this chapter.

In the concluding chapter "Patenting as a Strategic Tool" the author looks at the process of technology mapping to arrive at broad conclusions on business focus, research and patenting policies through an anlysis of patent information available in international databases. Patenting is a result of business needs of an organisation, its technology focus, research concentration, and proactive and reactive response to its competitors.

In the end of the book the author has attached nine appendices regarding example of a selection patent, example of main patent, the Gazette of India, sample on-line research, list of WTO convention countries, collection centres and glossary. Case studies and examples to illustrate the issues involved in patenting are the most attractive features of this book.

It is a useful volume for all those who are interested in filing the patents and carry out international business at a large scale with proper R & D.



The roots of regional tension
Review by Randeep Wadehra

Stability in South Asia by Ashley J. Tellis. Natraj Publishers, Dehra Dun. Pages 113+vii. Rs 250.

THE probability of a conventional war between India and Pakistan triggering off a nuclear conflagration is chillingly brought home by various films and television serials made in India and abroad, thus corroborating the scenarios conjured up by serious defence analysts. That it is not a fictional fantasy is amply proved by what is happening in Pakistan today where scores of Islamic terrorist groups are openly recruiting young men and even children to train as jehadis.

The quest for stability in South Asia is bedeviled by several imponderables. Partition-related memories that nurture mutual distrust; the economic, military and geographical disparities; individual ambitions of dictators in Pakistan and politicians on both sides of the fence; and power play by outside forces are some of these.

Since this book purports to be a "Rand Report prepared for the US Army" its perspective is bound to be at variance with those viewing things from Indian or Pakistani point of view.

When the plane hijack standoff (beginning on December 24 and ending on December 3, 1999) was keeping the Indians on tenterhooks, and world press attention was focussed on the proceedings, Osama bin Laden made a grandiloquent statement listing India, Russia and the USA as Islam’s biggest enemies. One might dismiss such bombastic verbiage as a madman’s rhetoric. However, we have seen in the past that it is perilous to ignore Bin Laden and others of his ilk. A large section of the Islamic world clings to his words as it would to a messiah’s pontification. Osama bin Laden is suspected to have been behind blasts targeting western country embassies in general and American property in particular the world over. After India released Maulana Masood Azhar, the ideologue of the Pakistan-based terrorist Harkat–ul–Mujahideen he resumed his jehad cry against India and the USA, forcing the latter to warn Pakistan against encouraging such tirades.

The cry of Jehad is not really limited to the subcontinent. You can understand the whys and the whats of this phenomenon if you place it in the global context. Apart from Chechnya and the Balkans in Europe, this war cry rings loud and clear in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, the north-west China and several parts of Asia and Africa. Truly, the fundamentalist monster has gone out of control.

The subcontinent’s "nuclearisation" has encouraged Pakistan to continue training and patronising terrorists in a brazen manner. In fact so emboldened the Pakistani establishment felt in May, 1999, that it thought nothing of conducting an undeclared war in India’s Kargil sector. It managed to defy world opinion for uncomfortably long time, raising visions of a nuclear holocaust.

Will the new millennium herald the much-feared Armageddon? Is Kashmir on the way to becoming Asia’s cockpit?

The Indian subcontinent is being increasingly looked upon as the trigger, and theatre, of nuclear holocaust in the none-too-distant future. The flashpoint may well be provided by the Kashmir problem, or as the writer states, the security competition between India and Pakistan. Ashley paints a grim picture, "...unconventional conflicts will continue to be the primary form of security competition in the near and near-to-medium term, analysts should watch for any developments that might result in an escalation to conventional conflict. Such an escalation would represent deterrence breakdown, which could open the door to an all-out war, including threats and even nuclear use".

Ashley has tried to analyse the reasons behind the mutual animosity. Chiefly, he contends that since both countries are "dissatisfied states" in the context of what they got from partition, stability is bound to remain a distant dream. He observes, "India viewed partition as unnecessary and tragic, but essentially complete. Pakistan viewed partition as inevitable and necessary, but fundamentally incomplete because Kashmir, a Muslim- majority state, remained with India. The loss of Kashmir was highly significant because it was the last component necessary to complete the vision Pakistan’s founders had of a cohesive republic composed of all the erstwhile British India."

But events have moved much beyond the Kashmir issue even when both countries habitually project this as the only unresolved issue. Both countries aspire to play a role beyond the confines of South Asia. There was a time when Pakistan considered itself as a natural leader of West Asia merely on the strength of its technological superiority over the Arabs. Those ambitions were put paid to soon enough. The Soviet Union’s disintegration has triggered Pakistan’s ambitions for a pivotal role in the Central Asian region now. It hopes to nurture and sustain its economy by exploiting the region’s natural wealth. India, on the other hand, sees itself as a global player with a potential to checkmate China’s ascendancy to the superpower status.

One might find observations like, "If Pakistan initiates conflict, it has the advantage but only in a short war"; "If India initiates conflict, it can surmount numerical but not operational deficiencies"; "IAF does not contribute operationally"; and "Indian Navy is irrelevant except as a ‘risk fleet’" quite thought provoking. Surprisingly, Ashley does not deride India’s defence technology which he finds "without peer" in the Third World. It is the overall operational capabilities that he finds wanting. Is the top brass listening?

However, Ashley has not given due weightage to big powers’ role in influencing stability in South Asia. During the cold war the rivalry between the western and Soviet camps spilled into the subcontinent. The introduction of sophisticated weapons led to an arms race that has now culminated into a nuclear stand-off between the two South Asian neighbours. Today it is the antagonism between Uncle Sam and The Dragon that is pushing the region towards irreparable destruction.

This book is timely. With the dialogue between Vajpayee and Musharraf imminent, it puts the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two states in perspective. Garnished with tables and relevant information, the book is an excellent value for money.

* * *

Making India Innovative by Lakshman Prasad.
Centre for Industrial & Economic Research, New Delhi. Pages 160. Rs 280.

It is true that innovations help improve a society’s quality of life. Therefore one can safely deduce that one of the surest indices of progress is the pace at which inventions/innovations take place in a country. In this respect India is far behind others. We can at best cite Sir CV Raman in recent times. Who else? Hargobind Khurana and Chandrashekhar achieved success in the USA. So what is wrong with our society that it fails to nurture men of ideas? Plenty.

However, this book does not pause to rue our drawbacks. Instead it seeks to promote innovative spirit among the youth. It starts on a positive note by declaring, "...all have to make efforts to create an atmosphere of innovation, adventure, high ambition, and high achievements in every area of science and technology..."Here one is reminded of Francis Bacon’s words, "As the births of living creatures, at first, are ill-shapen: so are all innovations, which are the births of time."

One need not take failure as the end of all activity but as a challenge to improve the quality of our efforts and inputs. Fortunately, we had a man of vision as our first Prime Minister. Prasad points out, "Even before India achieved independence in 1947, Nehru was one of the very few top political leaders with scientific background... (he) looked upon the chain of national laboratories set up just after independence as temples of science built for the service of the motherland and regarded the sites of dams as the new places for pilgrimage..."

However, today these temples are unable to meet the nation’s aspirations. The author rightly says that inventions and innovations can neither be made in isolation nor without proper infrastructure and environment conducive to research and development activities. Here one would like to point out that even among the so-called enlightened segments of society it is not easy to get a new idea accepted. "Play safe" has been the mantra of our ruling classes that believe in clinging to the tried and tested way of doing things even if it has become outmoded. Our men of ideas and letters have to first get the certificate of legitimacy in the West – preferably the USA – before they are recognised in India. To wit John Maynard Keynes, "The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds".

This volume has chapters on indigenous innovations, innovation oriented S&T education system, scientific and industrial research organisations, etc. It is a must for students and teachers. Even a lay reader can benefit from this book.

* * *

Madhyam Marg by Anil Kumar.
Krantz Publications, New Delhi. Pages 160. Rs 175.

Periodically one comes across a book that promises to help you attain sublime peace and even moksha or nirvana. They tell you how organised religion is turning out to be a nursery for prejudices, superstitions and all things evil. The more charitable ones merely dub religion an anachronism. Then they proceed to offer you a scientific solution that would do you and your mind (soul is so archaic) a world of good.

If you read such books, you find that in fact these are nothing but a rehash of ancient scriptures repackaged in modern jargon. So manah-shakti becomes mental strength, atma gyan is self-realisation, etc.

The book under review too draws its inspiration from scriptures and claims that what it offers is something different — albeit for achieving essentially material success. There is a case study, mentioned in the book, of a film actress code-named Alice who had several affairs. "One of her husbands was a big industrialist" who committed suicide after a tiff with Alice. No analysis of the reasons is provided. The author says, "...if Alice and her husband had used their intelligence, then they could have found the solution to the problem..." Such simplistic treatment of complex human situations is futile. And there is no insight offered into the problem for which a solution is being sought. There are other case studies too which are in similar vein..

However, to dismiss this book as of no value will be unjust to the author. Even if he has recycled traditional wisdom it can certainly be used for further development of the idea; it promotes some useful values like benevolence, gratitude, respect, dynamism, etc. through "Madhyam Marg" or the middle path.



Writing, Himachal and society
Review by Satyapal Sehgal

TO me Himachal is a state of great hills and of feelings of envy among litterateurs. Shouldn’t that be natural, normal? What else should a hill state be except hills, and why not writers who constantly seek glory and fame be envious of each other? More so, in a state like Himachal which one prefers to call a "fringe Hindi state". When somebody is as marginalised as a Hindi writer of Himachal, with respect to the main stream of Hindi literature, the external reality of being marginal may turn invert, changing into a negative emotion, souring interpersonal relations a little more! And whatever the difference between ideological moorings of Himachali writers, as that is considered by some as one big reason for covetousness in a literary society, this psychologically oriented explanation of peers’ interaction demands attention. It also hints that a larger literary sociology is to be blamed, having its centre outside Himachal like Delhi?

Oh, those inventing blames often seek defence mechanisims. That is another aspect of the same "literary situation" which illustrates how being marginal is being complex. So, let these analyses be left unsettled here. These acts are of hard thinking. Let us talk literature, let us talk poetry as straight, as simple as possible.

For record, here is this "History of Hindi literature of Himachal Pradesh" written by Sushil Kumar Phull, a well known short story writer of the region and a professor of Hindi at Palampur Krishi Vishavavidalaya. The importance of such a history apart, the present-day observer of Hindi poetry being written in the larger Hindi belt, concerns himself with Hindi poetry of the state during the past 20 years or so. (As a matter of fact, Himachal got statehood only in 1972.) It was not only the time when Himachal became one political unit from Kangra to Kinnaur, but also a period when the state saw an upsurge in literary activities, particularly in the state capital Shimla. As a result, we find a large number of young writers clamouring for a place in the greater Hindi literary map. To a degree, they succeed. They are seen, heard and recognised better. Some leave their mark, others show potential.

That is true more of fiction writers. Poets too could have matched them. Why didn’t they? It needs a lengthy answer. Here there is a small point to ponder over. No other time in the modern period of Hindi poetry has witnessed so much poetry being written and published as during the past 25 years. Three generations of Hindi poets had been writing simultaneously. For any upcoming Hindi poet aspiring to be established, it was a tough task..Specially for poets of a state which does not even have a news daily of its own, leave aside the more powerful means of publication and publicity. (It is not, even inadvertently, a comparison with the worth of fiction writers and poets of the state. It is the sociology of literary evaluation and distribution that is being looked into.)

More to that period of "literary history". This enhanced visibility of the works of Himachali writers owes much to the efforts of Maharaj Krishan Kao, secretary culture in the Himachal government at that time. What Ashok Vajpayee did in Madya Pradesh in the same capacity through the institution of Bharat Bhawan in Bhopal, might have inspired him. Kao was instrumental in shaping state policies favouring writers like bulk purchase of their published books, institution of new awards and a chair for creative writing in the name of legendary Hindi fiction writer Yashpal, establishment of Writers’s Homes, infusing some vibrancy into the Art and Culture Academy of the state and in the publication of literary journals brought out by the state government. In addition to that, holding of national level literary symposia at regular intervals was also a hallmark of these policies. Writers from all over India started visiting the state, even if on an excursion (and why not?).

Though controversial at times, these decisions created a favourable environment in the state for literary activities to make an advance.

Kao himself is a creative person. Apart from being a short story writer, he is also a poet. He certainly has a flair for writing and showed good promise before he left for a posting in Delhi (he was involved in a controversy recently, accused of writing some communally objectionable chapter in a text-book).

Tulsi Raman, editor of the well-produced "Vipasha", a literary journal of the language and culture department, was supposed to be his favourite man in the literary circles of Shimla. And for good reasons. A son of the soil, Raman could give his poetry a touch of the locale of Shimla city and what is called upper Shimla belt of Himachal. He could create a language which had both the creativity and discipline and pleasently lacking dominance in the Ganga-Jamuna basin Hindi diction.

As a whole, the poets of Himachal had not been writing about mother nature as may do. None of them aspired to be another Sumitra NandanPande.



Mind your mind please
Review by Kuldip Kalia

For the soul: The Mind — A book on self Empowerment, compiled
by M.M. Walia. Sterling publisher, New Delhi. Pages 64.
price not mentioned.

"OUT of sight, out of mind," is an old proverb. But what exactly is the mind In simple words, it "thinks, knows and feels," It is made up of thoughts and doubts. It works very fast. The vastness of its range and comprehension is beyond the comprehension of a common man. In fact, it is the "conscious of an object." The consciousness virtually establishes relation between the subject and the object.

The body, mind and soul are the three prime but closely related elements of the so called "human creature on this earth, popularly known as ‘man’. The body and mind, primarily, influence each other in every action but it is always the mind that ‘directs’ and the body that ‘obeys’. Normally all verbal and physical actions are motivated by the subjective mind".

Astonishingly, the human mind is ‘exceedingly small" but it can comprehend this vast universe. At times it is a mischief maker and jumps from doubt to doubt. Most of the time, it moves on the right path but the senses and the outer world drag it "astray". It has a tendency to weave a net and to get entangled but proper control and training can turn it into an "obedient servant." Swami Chinmayananda rightly says, "The mind can make a hell of heaven or a heaven of hell". More over the mind operates on different planes: Conscious and sub-conscious. It can even go beyond, which is called "super conscious" and where the feeling of "egoism" vanishes. In such cases, it identifies with "Atman".

"Sattva" (purity, knowledge and joy), "rajas" activity, desires, restlessness "tamas" (inaction, dullness and delusion), the so-called substantive forces, are said to be the basic constituents of mind.

Listening, adulation, remembrance, showing respect, ceremonial worship, paying obeisance, self-surrender are the well-accepted and well recognised nine lamps that can free the mind from darkness. When we speak of functional aspect of mind, it has four kinds of faculties. These are: manas (thinking faculty); buddhis (the well). Ahamkar (egoism) and chitta (the substance through which all faculties operate).

The mother has beautifully explained the five phases which have to be ventured out for the development of mind. In simple words, the power of concentration, the capacity of expansion and richness, organising ideas around the central idea, thought control, including rejection of undesirable thought, and, above all, the mental silence, receptive to inspirations development.

The other school of thoughts translates the development of mind into two kinds: "Samatha bhavana" and "vipassana bhavana" The former signifies "calm" and such calmness, tranquillity or serenity help to concentrate. By virtue of this, one gets the psychic power. However the latter personifies insight and wisdom which would ultimately lead to "nirvana". This is how one obtains peace of mind. The peace of mind leads to happiness and a happy person always makes others happy.

Here is a warning from Swami Vivekananda. When the desire takes place, jealousy overtakes and the demon of pride enters the mind, then it becomes difficult to control the mind. In other words, impurities like urges, impulses, and emotions like hatred greed, conceit and temptation are to be kept at a distance; otherwise these will destroy tranquillity. That is why it is often send, "the pure the mind, the easier to control". So the mind must be full of high thoughts and noble inspirations because baselless fear, meaningless and purposeless speculation will make you a victim of worries.

At the same time, one must understand that the mind has to be controlled by the mind itself. No artificial means can control the mind. Therefore, deliberate, patient, intelligent, systematic hard work and, above all, strict discipline is required. It has to be done gradually and systematically. It must be supported and strengthened by slow but continuous and preserving drill. Through yoga, the mind can be made "one pointed". In such a situation, it can be applied to any sphere of activity. One must live in the present and any kind of absentmindedness is conditional and there by subject to making "mindful".

Swami Buddhananda has helped us to create the inner climate favourable by accepting the undeniable facts of life. Also suggested the ways to control the mind. "When in crisis, turns to God and implore his mercy and his help," he points out. But that is not an end itself. Here is a remedy for non-believer of God, "If cannot cry to God, then turn to nature, a flowing river or towering cliff to mountain". Better than all is to communicate "to a wise, trust worthy and selfless man and seek his advice".

At the same, when we speak of thought control in the initial stage, it does not mean keeping completely free from any kind of thought. In fact it is an attempt to develop the capacity to think good and desist from bad thinking because "we are what our thoughts make us". So be careful of what you think. Once the person understands the very essence of "repetition" through "samskaras" and, above all, the basic principle of "molecular vibration", mental and physical obstacles automatically start diminishing.

Ironically, we know what is right and what is wrong. However most of the time, we fail to act accordingly. We make good resolutions but always sway to feelings and emotions. If you can, keep away from all the "attachments, aversions and delusions". Let me repeat, create "a favourable inner climate by accepting certain inevitable aspect of life". Never forget what Swami Chinmayananda says, "A well trained and controlled mind stands a man in good stead better than armies". So in unequivocal term, controlling the mind is no less than conquering the world.



Reading classics with today’s sensibilities
Review by
D.R. Chaudhry

Carnival of Difference — Imaginary and Semiotics of Dickens
and Dostoyevsky
by Deepinder Jeet Randhawa. Ajanta Publications, Delhi. Pages x + 302. Rs 395.

PROF Gurbhagat Singh, a well-known scholar of post-modernism, in his foreword to the book under review has characterised the work "not just semiotics or literary criticism" but one that "has assimilated contemporary thinkers of post-modern disciplines relevant to the topic like Derrida, Levinas, Kristeva, Lyotard, Jameson and some others". It would not be out of place here to attempt a brief comment on the concept of post-modernism. There is no unanimity on what it is but there is a broad consensus on what it is not.

The Enlightenment project lasting from the latter part of the 18th century until well into the 20th century, was based on its belief in linear progress with the help of science and technology in the social field and reason and rationality at the intellectual plane. Utopia was its core, giving hope to mankind that all problems could be solved if man learnt to look at things in a rational way.

Post-modernism, in brief, is a passionate critique of the Elightenment project. It seriously questions concepts like objective knowledge, reason, rationality and progress, laying emphasis on pluralism and indeterminacy in the world. It boldly renounces completeness and certainly so naively assured by the Enlightenment project. It rejects all utopias and meta narratives or grand discourse about the main direction of history. Local narratives come into prominence. Truth was earlier revealed or found. Now it is socially constructed. All belief systems emanate from interaction between human mind and the cosmos. Language is an important in the construction of social reality.

Earlier it was believed that with the revolutionary transformation of sociey, all problems would be taken care of. However, the dream went sour and things turned out to be otherwise. Even after several decades of communist rule in the erstwhile Yugoslavia, there is ethnic cleansing with the ghastly spectacle of former communists acting as savages, mercilessly participating in mass killing, plunder and rape.

Now it is recognised by many Marxist that areas like gender, ethnicity, ecology, environment, etc. have their own importance and cannot be postponed till revolution takes place. Indian Marxist did not give caste the importance it deserves. As a consequence, caste leaders have hijacked the labouring people who were thought to be the kingpin in the revolutionary transformation of Indian society.

Its importance is being recognised, albeit grudgingly. Post-modernism raised a host of questions and here lies its importance. However, it has no clear cut answer to many complex issues, especially in the present globalised world and the charge of escapism and nihilism laid at its door by some does not seem to be completely without substance. The debate goes on and there is no finality.

Post-modernism as a thought process is not confined to philosophy or social sciences. It covers every aspect of life—culture, religion, literature, fine arts, music, architecture and so on. The book under review is a laudable, taking one novel each of Dickens and Dostoyevsky as case studies. It investigates the semiotics of Dickens and Dostoyevsky and comparative difference with special reference to Dicken. "The Great Expectations" and Dostoyevsky’s "The importance it deserved.

In the post-modernist technique, it is primarily the text that matters. Ronald Barthes proclaimed the death of the author. Derrida, the guru of post-modernists these days, rules out any authorial presence. He is of the view that it is the play of the text, which produces dissemination of meaning. However, the author of the book under review believes that to free a creating work from the author means that all cultural and biographical factors that go into the making of a text are erased, the text is autotelic, which it is not. The authorial subject is not to be seen as a sign of direct presence. However, it is a trace that is dispersed in the narrative presence.

She gives due importance to the historical background and biographical factors in case of both the novelists while analysing their works. She grants fictive autonomy to the novels under study but is of the firm opinion that the depth and complexity of their signs can be appreciated properly only if the contemporary social, political, economic and religious structure are taken into consideration.

To appreciate Dickens better, it is necessary to take into account his age. The Victorian sensibility was largely shaped by industrialisation resulting in shift of power from feudal nobilty to the hands of the capitalist class. This adversely affected agriculture and cottage industry, establishing the hegemony of the emerging capitalist class. The exodus from the countryside to towns in search of work, proliferation of slums, rise in crime, horrible working conditions for the nascent proletariat, especially women and children, poverty and disease were the outcome of early industrialisation in England.

However, Randhawa complains that there was no class-consciousness in the Marxist sense for an active revolt against the ruling class and England never went through a revolution in Marxist sense and remained within the "legitimate" discourse. She ascribes this to a crisis of leadership. In the opinion of this reviewer, this does not explain much. Was "a crisis of leadership" a cause or an effect of a certain phenomenon? Why did revolution take place in a backward country like the Soviet Union and not in advanced countries like England and Germany, as envisaged by Marx? Lenin provided the answer in his tract "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism."

Dickens’ personal life played an important role in shaping the aesthetic signs in his novels. Psychological violence at the hands of his father, his work as an apprentice in a warehouse, putting an end to his studies, his unhappy love affair with Maria Beadnall, his unhappy marriage with Katherine ending in separation and such factors went a long way in shaping his world view and this finds a reflection in his work.

Dickens’ novel "Great The Expectations" deals with the life of an individual and the turmoil in a society in a state of transition from feudal to the capitalist value system. The blind faith in the Christian dogma, which was a sustaining force earlier, came under questioning on account of scientific discoveries. One suffered agonisation deprivations and hardship in this age of transition. Eash character in the novel is a sign revealing submerged structures of dehumanisation. The problematic of Pip, the protagonist of the novel, is that he belongs to a lower stratum of society and aspires to be a gentleman. The dehumanising and debilitating face of capitalism is shown through all major characters in the novel like Pip, Magwitch, Miss Havisham, Estella, Jaggers andMrs Joe. The loss of authenticity of human being is portrayed with remarmable intensity in the novel.

The commodification of human relationships in the capitalistic world of exchange values devalues human essence, deforms social institutions and dwarfs human authenticity. The authenticity is restored only when human relations acquire true warmth and fellow feelings. This happens when love and faith mark Pip’s relationship with Magwitch.

"The Brothers Karamazov" is one of the classic of literature. Russia during Dostoyevsky’s times went through a series of transitional conflicts in the fields of economy, culture, religion, politics and philosophical crosscurrents. All this finds due reflection in his semiotics. As correctly analysed by Randhawa, this novel is Dostoyevsky’s ultimate penetration into the problematic of a fragmented transitional psyche a searching probe into various dimensions that led to the erosion of Russian culture, its centre and its God. It was an era that saw the worst exploitation of peasants and serfs under the despitic rule of Cardom and nobility. Radical ideas caused a churning in Russian society under the impact of the French Revolution, resulting in the emergence of several radical groups. Moscow University was the hotbed of radical ideas. The orthodox Christianity was a tool to strengthen the oppressive structures in the Russian society.

However, the European ideas of rationalism and secularism dealt a severe blow to it. Several groups emerged that questioned the status quo. Dostoyevsky belonged to one such group. The Narodniks constituted a group of revolutionaries who believed that Russia could have socialism, bypassing capitalism. Anarchism preached autonomy for small communities. The Russian society was in a state of ferment in those and this produced a large number of creative giants like Tolstoy, Herzen, :Pushkin, Gogol, Charnyshevsky, Turgnev and others.

Unlike Tolstoy and some others, Dostoyevsky led a life of deprivations and hardship. He was perpetually in debt. His exile to Siberia and his narrow escape from death had a deep impact on his sensibility. His age was an age of conflict and tension and this finds due reflection in his semiotics. The Russian psyche as depicted by Dostoyevsky was completely dismembered. Love and faith alone could provide a ray of hope.

The Karamazov family as depicted in the novel under study epitomises the decay and degeneration Russian society. The abyss is virtually bottomless and this renders almost every character in this masterpiece of Dostoyevsky abnormal. Rather, normalcy in such a milieu would be highly abnormal.

Dmitri Fyodrovich, the protagonist of the novel, is a complex being, conditoined by numerous repressive agencies and interpersonal conflicts. His unhappy childhood and unrealised adulthood seek manifestation in hared, aggressiveness and reckless sensuality. Other characters too suffer fromn abnormality of one kind or the other and their existential problem is rooted in what Lacan calls "organic insufficiency". The interaction and conflict between these atomised alienated and fragmented individuals as portrayed by Dostoyevsky often assume epic dimensions.

Deepinder Jeet Ranshawa has done a remarkable good job in analysing the creative process in case of Dickens and Dostoyevsky by placing them in the framework of post-modernism. Post-modern jargon may sometime frighten a lay reader and decoding the terminology poses its own problem. However, the attempt is duly rewarded if one shows a bit of patience. The book is highly valuable for those who want to understand the application of post-modernist tools in analysing literary works.



The head-strong vs the scheming
Review by V.N. Datta

REGRETTABLY, Indian historians have not taken enough advantage of the western investigations in their research work. In this connection, the use of psychoanalysis in understanding human motives and actions has generally been neglected. In my work "Madan Lal Dhingra and the National Movement" I had tried to apply the psychological method in unravelling the complexity of Dhingra’s conduct and behaviour, but my critics accused me of being anti-nationalist quite ignorant they were of the of fact that a historian has no nationality. A historian’s field is humankind, his method is scientific, and his object is to seek and find truth and not to bow or yield to any authority which hampers his inquiry into grasping the reality of things.

There are perhaps very few fascinating subjects to study from the psychological angle than the personality of the Kaiser William II, the German emperor, and yet seldom has he been studied from this point of view. And even the latest work on him, the book under review, is not free from this flaw: Christopher Clark’s, "Kaiser Wilhelm II" Longman, London, 271 pages, 14.99) William was born with a defective left arm, handicap for and he was conscious of this all his life, which caused him frustration and bitterness. At 24 he became the Kaiser. Otto von Bismarck, the legendary founder of the Reich was the chancellor: Soon both the Kaiser and Bismarck came into conflict on the renewal of the reinsurance treaty to be signed between Russia and Germany. This was in 1887.

Bismarck was determined to renew it for the maintenance of balance of power in Europe which was an article of faith with him, but the Kaiser was opposed to it on moral grounds because he believed that the signing of such a treaty would betray Germany’s staunch ally, Austria. The Kaiser drove out Bismarck, and became the sole authority in shaping German foreign policy.

On Bismarck’s dismissal, Punch weekly Punch of London noted that the "Pilot was dropped." The Kaiser’s hasty and ill-conceived act of non-renewal of the reinsurance led to the Franco-Russian alliance in 1891. Bismarck remarked in dismay that 20 years later Europe would be plunged into a great crisis. How true his prophesy proved to be .

Clark brings out clearly the striking differences on policy matters between Bimsmarch and William. Bismarck’s head was packed in ice — he was cool and calculating, and knew how to weigh and consider, while the young Kaiser was rash, impetuous, hotheaded, impulsive and irasicable. Bismarck knew the limits of power and desisted from coming into conflict with England; for the Kaiser the sky was the limit and he embarked recklessly on what came to be known as "weltpolitik", world policy. The author emphasises that William was a man of liberal disposition, who had read a good deal on British model of parliamentary democracy, but he had serious flaws in his character as perceptively noted by Daisy, Princess of Pless, who who saw him often felt that and "he means so awfully well, and everything he does is intended for the best, and still he is so completely destitute of tact that everything turns out exactly opposite to what he intends." Perhaps the princess exaggerated the goddness of his intentions, but about William’s lack of tact she was absolutely right.

Clark emphasises that the issue of William’s career and character played no role in the great debate about the origins of the German catastrophe that engaged historians in the 1960s and 70s. It is a pity that Calk has little to say about William’s psychological condition and almost nothing about his erotic adventures which his earlier biographers had exposed. But he does examine the institutional setting and available options on key problems that shaped the emperor’s policies. Clark recognises that William’s character, especially his "lack of consistency and self-discipline," contributed to the way he exercised power, but his main focus is on "what is rational" in the light of the context in which his decisions were made.

At the centre of the book is the much debated question of William’s political significance in shaping the course of German diplomatic and military policy. In his more extravagant moments he presented himself as all-powerful suffering from the sin of self-righteousness and human presumption. William was too confident to be prudent. "I am," he (once told his cousin, the future Edward VII), "the sole master of German policy and my country must follow on wherever I go." Such rhetorical flourishes he was often used to brandishing which represented him as a self-loving ruler of enormous personal vanity who was out of tune with public opinion. He built his caste of fantasies and wove his wild schemes for the glorification of Germany.

Invariably William was a poor judge of men and human affairs. Replying mainly on his instincts, he was impatient of criticism from others in his assessment of state polices. He missed opportunities and had no sense of occasion. A first-rate speaker, he had mastered the art of oratory. He could invent marvellous phrases on the spur of the moment. Carried away by the magic of words, he would explain the German foreign policy which stirred hostile reactions in England and Russia. There is always a danger from stupid rulers, and more so when they are intelligent and clever but lacking in condour.

Most of the historians who have made a significant contribution to the study of German history have reduced William to a symptom rather than a cause of Germany’s problems which were to lead to disaster during World War I. John Rohl, who produced a monumental work of the last Hohenzollern portrayed William as the driving force of Germany’s political life and one of the main, architects of its foreign and domestic travails. In contrast to Rohl, Clark adopts a moderate position. He emphasises the profound institutional limits on the emperor independence, even during the 1890s when the case for personal rule was strongest. But Clark does not show William as insignificant, having no say in determining state policy.

Clerk maintains that on some crucial diplomatic matters, William’s influence was considerable, particularly in those personnel decisions that were his constitutional rights. His record of performance was not entirely bleak as has been made cut. On vital diplomatic issues, he exercised his influence and could not be faulted such as in opposing Holstein’s policy of Tangier for which be made amends, and in promoting the Baghdad Railway. It must be emphasised that the army and navy were not responsible to the government, though constitutionally he was the supreme war lord. His support for Germany’s naval programme launched by Tirpitz was considerably important during the war when he had been pushed to the sideline by the high command. He was involved in several key decisions of which the most fatal was the resumption of submarine welfare in 1917.

It is difficult to ignore the role of individuals in history, though their actions have to be seen adjusted to the context of impersonal forces that operate in history. Marxist historians have tended to dismiss the individual’s role in history as insignificant, though Marx was conscious of their influence within the limits of historical forces. The career of William II raises this issue with particular force. His role ended in Germany’s defeat and his own abdication, and finally his death in 1941 in the Netherlands. The issue is whether the Emperor could have avoided the catastrophe that fell on Germany. Clark is convinced that William’s options were limited, and due to the circumstances, he had not much room to manoeuvre.

He concludes "our task has been to explain why again and again the options available to Germany’s last Kaiser seemed so depressingly narrow!" In his studies of German history, Sir Lewis Namier had emphasised that German militarism and the traditional authoritarian state system devoid of liberal values had left no alternative for Germany but to embark on aggressive military and foreign policies that led to two world wars.



Disagree, don’t be disagreeable
Review by Roopinder Singh

The Sikh Way, A Pilgrim’s Progress
by I. J. Singh. The Centennial Foundation, Ontario, Canada.
Pages 189. Price not stated.

THERE is no point remembering the past only to glorify it. The glorification of the past amounts to ancestor worship and that has no place in the Sikh view. For a Sikh to recount the heroes of yesteryears in his daily prayer is meaningless if the only purpose is to praise them…. If traditions are accumulated knowledge of generations past, the study of history makes that knowledge portable and makes it available to the present. Keep in mind that no man is dead until he is forgotten and that history speaks through you and me.

The Sikh Way, A Pilgrim’s Progress, by I. J. SinghWe too make history, whether or not we like the history we make.… When history speaks through the lives of ordinary people, it becomes their heritage that shapes and sustains them. That is why we should remember history…. History is to turn you on, not to wallow in. Santayana reminds us that those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat its mistakes.

Dr Inder Jit Singh is an unconventional author, he writes on a wide variety of subjects, from anatomy to literature to religion. This Guggenheim Fellow who went to the USA in 1960 is a PhD in Anatomical Sciences and a DDS. He teaches at New York University and when needed, uses his analytical mind to dissect through what is often intangible, especially the Sikh religious ethos, with a focus on the experiences and issues that concern the diaspora.

Whether it is "Sikhism, History and Historians" from which the excerpt cited above is taken, or a Sikh perspective on bioethical issues, what is to be seen in I. J. Singh’s writing is a refreshing life, an examination of the subject at hand that includes views that may be different from the author’s perspective, a willingness to project the teachings learnt during a life-long pilgrimage to fresh areas.

Examining the relationship between science and religion, he says, "When religious interpreters fail to explain science and to include it in the reality of human existence, science becomes threatening. Scientific evidence and scientific facts clearly change with new facts and new evidence. Religious revelations, on the other hand, even though made at a point in time and space, are made for all time; it is their timelessness that gives them their worth. …Conflict becomes inevitable when we interpret literally what needs to be understood perhaps metaphorically."

He explores the issues that arise in bioethics and maintains that they can be examined and resolved with a deep, non-literal understanding of the basic Sikh thought. God seems to be alive and well and can be found in cyberspace, says I. J. Singh, who refers to the electronic Sikh sangat. Though he confesses to enjoying surfing the Net, the writer says that he misses the sangat of live faces which he cannot see on this electronic superhighway. The cyber sangat is not all that sangat can be; it is not like being there. Virtual reality is only virtual; it is not reality after all.

In answer to the old question of whether Guru Nanak intended to start a new religion or was he simply a reformer, Singh maintains that Guru Nanak very consciously and deliberately laid the foundation stone of Sikhism, — an edifice that reached completion under the care of Guru Gobind Singh more than two centuries later.

Speaking about the growing pains of Sikh institutions, the author says that they are in, to put it mildly, disarray. He points out that in the past five or seven years, more than 20 of the nearly 100 gurdwaras in the USA and Canada have faced election-related violence on the gurdwara premises. His pain at the devaluation of the institution of the Akal Takht over time is obvious, as is his anguish over a number of controversial pronouncements made a few years ago. He seeks a new role for the Akal Takht and his suggestion of drawing parallels in rights and duties beaten the jathedars of Takhts and the justices of the Supreme Court of the USA is worth considering.

When he asks if the Sikh diaspora is adrift or in focus, Singh addresses an important issue. "In exploring a religion in the diaspora, it is important to separate cultural and political realities from matters of doctrine. Such delineation is not always easy, however. Religion and culture are often intertwined."

The cultural baggage that emigrants carry, the time warp that they get caught in, often lands them in peculiar situations where they seem out of sync. As incongruent as this are attempts to impose the socio-cultural order of the mother country abroad. There has to be a dynamic examination of the core values, which must remain unchanged, and have to be protected, just as certain practices sanctified as traditional have to be re-evaluated. It is this dynamism that will give vitality to the religion in the diaspora. In fact, the author goes on to maintain that Sikhism is a religion that is constituted and suited for existence outside the territorial bounds of Punjab.

One would have to but agree with the statement made in "Religion, Morality and Leadership" that "leaders need to operate from a level of trust, and religious leaders need to operate from a higher level of trust because they have to answer to a higher authority." How true, and how unfortunate the situation that we see today is.

One would recommend a thorough reading of "On Fences and Neighbours in Religion" and "Tolerance in Religions: How Sikhism Views Other Religions" where the author combines a scholarly approach with common sense and sensitivity, a combination which one does not commonly come across.

Whether it is discussing death and dying or faith, grace and prayer, Singh is lucid and persuasive. One could pick up certain statements of the author and pick a bone with them, however, one would be wrong in doing so because they have to be seen in the right context. In any case, the author loves disagreements, provided you are not being disagreeable. As long as he provokes thought and discussion, as his book will, I. J. Singh should be content.



Growing up with age
Review by Jaspal Singh

WELL-KNOWN historian and Punjabi poet Surjit Hans in the past few years has been writing about old age and the existential problems associated with it. "Hun Tan", "Lang Chali", and now "Nazar Saani" (Lakeer Parkashan, Jalandhar) are his three collections of poems which are entirely devoted to the old-age syndrome when enemies no longer seem hostile and friends seem unusually charming and affectionate.

Hans says this is the time of life when you do not weep at your failures or even at your decline and fall into an infernal pit. One does not now laugh at one’s youthful pranks nor at one’s raw sentimental fixations. All such passions are replaced by an innocuous gentle smile. When you are young you are bubbling with initiative and drive. Consequently your own nature and the customary ways of the world around you tend to overlap. All fields of life are routinely "violated" and transgressed maybe for the sake of curiosity. One’s sense of adventure and zest for life make a person more holistic and structural in behaviour, sometimes at an instinctive level.

In old age, however, one is surprised to learn that one’s brush with life and the natural flux of life are essentially different. This is precisely the cause of a sense of futility in life. Some kind of physical activity becomes an addiction in old age since the body needs constant repair during this time of disintegration. Only at this juncture one realises the importance of the difference between the "being" and the "body".

Hans states that this is the time when one should indulge in introspection and retrospection. The entire life journey needs a reappraisal so that the individual can properly wind up his worldly affairs and peacefully withdraw from the scene without making a fuss.

Sometimes "lang chali" is not "lang gai". Therefore one is obliged to throw another look around though from a different angle. In the grace years of life one’s perspective changes even if there is not much change in the basic socio-cultural and political categories.

Hans in his unique convoluted style watches the "fair of the world" from a distance that lends some objectivity to his observation. The reader is required to exercise a lot of patience to get the hang of the underlying satire and sarcasm. The poet avers, ki laga si/Jehrha bhar dashira jagg da/kinjh mela rang te barang da/Beendian te/Vahna da zor si/Dhidd viche ladduan da shor si/ Munh-hanere/Jo Vibheekhan mar gia/Diggia ki Meghnad/Pher pakki raat de jikken hanera varh gia / Oh churahe vich datia/Raun hai agge kharha / Kalla...."(Today the Dushehra fair of the world is in full swing. People throng the place on all kinds of vehicles and consume all kinds of eatables. Early in the morning Vibheekan died and Meghnad too fell. Then deep in the night Ravana alone stood his ground at the crossing.)

Fair is a favourite metaphor used by Hans in several poems. But he also invokes symbols from myths, legends and epics to impart perpetuity to the fair. The quixotic actions of the epical figures fighting their lone battle of survival brings out the poignant tragedy of the situation.

In the poem "Sadma" (shock) the poet lays bare a different kind of tragedy which the flux of time imposes on existence. The transitory nature of phenomena makes the poet nostalgic about his past glory. He states, "Jo apna vi kaal si/Turda naal samaa/Haal jadon khushaal si/Hunda sach guman." One is proud of the days when one carries one’s time along, keeping pace with all the developments in the world.)

But time flows like water through an outlet. The years cannot be arrested or stored. The gone days were glorious. When one departs from this world one feels the shock of soil like an uprooted plant.

"Dhand" is an autobiographical poem in which the poet goes on a back and forth journey delineating his chequered life story. But the events in this tale are relevant to many others. The poet says, "Eh tan bilkul theek hai ki /Umar saari/Pittia mai dhand hai." (No doubt throughout my life I have been doing routine monotonous work as most people in their lives.)

The poet in his childhood goes to school following his neighbour’s children, playing the same childish and boyish pranks. In his youth he also indulged in absurd activities like passing silly comments at the girls and so on.

The poem "Darpan"(mirror) gives details of the changing phases of life that the mirror faithfully reflects. The poet says that a "ghost" is hiding in the mirror that keeps on changing its form as the life passes.

Poems like "Vasah", "Bhuut", "Besurat", "Amar Pushap", "Shakk", "Pattan", Pakka ghar", "Shakal", "Nazar sani" and "Jaan ton pahilan" move like dark winding tunnels dotted with inscrutable paradoxes of life.

Hans does not give any solution to the problems of life. He only lays bare the relentless movement of time and its impact on things and phenomena around us. The poet is very fond of using Persian and Arabic words which is why he has given their meanings in footnotes.

These poems are not meant for kavi darbars. They are essentially elitist in nature, meant for a select readership which is addicted to short bed time reading.