mysterious world of patents
Review by P. K. Vasudeva
for Patents: The Indian Scenario
by Parabuddha Ganguly, University Press, Hyderabad. Pages 288.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
has a large number of graphics, charts and figures that
explain the whole gamut of patents.
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.
cases, inventions are "incremental improvements" of
existing practices products but to be patentable they must
satisfy the basic requirements stated above.
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
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.
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
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.
roots of regional
Review by Randeep
in South Asia by Ashley J. Tellis. Natraj
Publishers, Dehra Dun. Pages 113+vii. Rs 250.
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
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.
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.
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?
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".
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."
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.
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?
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.
* * *
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.
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
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
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".
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.
* * *
Marg by Anil Kumar.
Krantz Publications, New Delhi. Pages 160. Rs 175.
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
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.
Himachal and society
Review by Satyapal Sehgal
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
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.
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
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?).
controversial at times, these decisions created a favourable
environment in the state for literary activities to make an
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).
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.
your mind please
soul: The Mind — A book on self Empowerment, compiled
by M.M. Walia. Sterling publisher, New Delhi. Pages 64.
price not mentioned.
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
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".
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
(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.
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).
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
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
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
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.
classics with today’s sensibilities
Review by D.R.
Difference — Imaginary and Semiotics of Dickens
by Deepinder Jeet Randhawa. Ajanta Publications, Delhi. Pages
x + 302. Rs 395.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
head-strong vs the scheming
Review by V.N.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
don’t be disagreeable
Review by Roopinder Singh
Way, A Pilgrim’s Progress
by I. J. Singh. The Centennial Foundation, Ontario, Canada.
Pages 189. Price not stated.
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.
We 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.
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
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
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
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."
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.
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.
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.
up with age
Review by Jaspal Singh
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.
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
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
"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
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.)
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
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.
"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.
"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
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