The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, July 29, 2001

Lacking in old world charm
Review by Deepika Gurudev

A total view of Asian reality
Review by P.K.Vasudeva

An Indian scientist’s odyssey to Antarctica
Review by Randeep Wadehra

A quirky tale, but interesting
Review by Bhupinder Singh

The power of prayer for the soul
Review by Kuldip Kalia

The first corruption case in India
Review by V.N. Datta

Coping with a chaotic future
Review by Ashutosh Kumar

Politics of Buddha philosophy
Review by G.V. Gupta




Lacking in old world charm
Review by Deepika Gurudev

A New World
by Amit Chaudhuri. Picador, London. Pages 200. 2.99 pound stering.

WHEN I read "A Strange and Sublime Address" there was this amazing experience that could possibly be dubbed enchantment. Then there was the romance of the "Afternoon Raag", cannot say much about the "Freedom Song" since I have not read it. But the LA Times Book Award that it bagged in 1999 bears testimony to some of Amit Chaudhuri’s magic in print.

If it is with anticipation of the same magic being recreated in "A New World" that sets you off on the Chaudhuri voyage, then beware. This offering is in a whole new genre and as one progresses through the slow opening of the novel, one cannot but help think — not quite Chaudhuri..

The strange cynicism, the unquestioned marriage, the failing marriage, the dark flat, the Calcutta summer, the painfully slowly unfolding holiday somehow does not quite capture the essence of his earlier work.

Possibly the attempt to do so is deliberate. This is the story of Jayojit, a semi- successful writer settled in the USA. He has been recently divorced from his wife who as the law and luck would have it has been granted custody of their son. On a vacation to blank out parts of his rather forgettable past, Jayojit comes expectedly in search of his parents and attempts to find solace in the dark Calcutta flat that belongs to his parents. a retired Admiral and his wife. The Admiral retains all the qualities of a retired armed forces man. His wife who has had the best years of her life travelling with the Admiral and the two children, a good homemaker but not quite the best of cooks.

As the fierce summer sun takes hold of Calcutta, Jayojit goes back and forth in time. Between India and America, between his life with his wife and life without his wife, between having his son now and knowing fully well that he will have to be returned back to his mother as soon as they land in America.

The unrelenting force of the summer sun has a significant impact on Chaudhuri’s text as well, the edges and the noon glares are stark, to say the least. There are the unquestioning details in his parents married life, which just seems to have lasted year after year promising it to be one of the marriages in the "till death us apart" genre. Then there is his brother somewhere in the distance, possibly happily married and there is Jayojit’s own marriage severely severed into two. While critics have dubbed all of this as sentimental, moving accounts…"reading some of these passages, you can be reminded of reading Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’ for the first time, where every sentence can seem a small act of beauty", I find it hard to agree with that.

It is quite logically a difference in perspectives. Maybe growing up in India takes away the magic of fine balances. The Admiral’s life hitting like the recalcitrant tale told before. Do‘nt I remember that constant fretting pre-retirement, oh we have not got a home. Now where is the pension money going to go, NOIDA, Doon or closer home Chandigarh. Don’t get me wrong, the travails Chaudhuri describes are real, possibly because they are so uncannily real they seem to have missed out on the magic of some of his earlier prose.

Then there is the question of the marriage itself. It all seems to boil down to the fact that there was a significant other who kind of just walked into his wife’s life, their conversations ended abruptly and then he had his huge house, his car and his lawn and his ex-wife had another man and to make matters worse, their seven year old son.

While the author attempts to grapple with the issue of dislocation, the book is not as brave as it should be. Sure, marriages fail — globally. But is that reason enough not to analyse why it happens. In this novel one just gets the sneaky feeling it is all the womann’s fault – that of course is purely a matter of perspective and depends on which side of the fence one is viewing the issue from.

What troubles me most is the whole issue of the infallibility of love that rings loud and clear. "The womb is no longer the perfect place to be."

Then there are the gleaming hints of alienation to come. Jayojit’s wants to be absorbed by his parents’ present world but doing that is next to impossible, even for the length of his brief stay. There are some moments of his mother’s evocative tenderness, his father’s largely inarticulate affection, and his son’s brittle peace threatened by the distant image of his mother.

What lasts though are the images of ghar ka khana or home food: "Home food was safe and insipid and had a tranquility about it...It was an honest, even joyful, effort by his mother, though it had not quite worked; but it was not wholly tasteless either."

So if you’re in a mood for roti daal mix sans murg masala go for this.

And don’t complain you weren’t forewarned about it.

Of course, established critics tell me that I should enthusiastically accept it as ""the brilliance of ‘A New World’s’ words that lie couched in simplicity and sheer implicity" – whatever that means.



A total view of Asian reality
Review by P.K.Vasudeva

Asia Internal 2000
edited by J.K. Ray. Shipra Publication, New Delhi. Pages 253. Rs 450.

"ASIA Internal" is a cross-disciplinary study,by the Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad Institute of Asia Studies, Calcutta. It is a centre for research and learning with its focus on social, cultural, political, and economic development in Asia from the middle of the 19th century onwards. It lays special emphasis on the links with India and on the life and works of Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad. This volume seeks to explore the complex interconnection between cultural and socio-economic structures of society and provide a critical dialogue on the question of ethics, analysis and related themes. It includes a summary of Asian events in 1999.

The first article "Maulana Azad: a great intellectual, scholar and visionary" is by Froze Bakht Ahmed who says the Maulana was a great intellectual, scholar and visionary. The author points out that there is a necessity for re-examining the relevance in the present context.

Surinder Gopal’s note on "Indians in Central Asia" in 19th century explores the presence of Indian traders in the towns and market places the between Aral and the Pamirs in the 19th Century. While Indian trade with this region had a long history, this article brings out the changes in the activities of the Indian traders in the light of developing capitalism in Europe and the expansion of European colonial powers in Asia and Africa. The author explains that the entrepreneurial skills of Indian traders allowed them to cope with the technical, economic, political and administrative changes which affected the course of commerce in the era of the "Great Game".

The "Great Game" also provides the background to Indrani Chatterji’s paper on "Mannu mission" and "Colonialism design in Central Asia". It focuses on the exploitation of Xinjiang and the British government of sending Indian indentured labour in what was called Mannu Mission.

It points out that the British efforts at securing, trading privileges, lowering octroi and greater sales of Indian goods, significantly influenced the Mannu Mission policy in the region.

The article concludes that the British efforts at suppression of slavery was part of the project of the conquest and consolidation in the North and North-East of India and not related to Xinjiang or slaves.

Suchandana Chatterji’s paper on "Shared identity: Iran and Tajikistan" examines similar questions pertaining to ethno-cultural links. It shows how linkage of the Tajikistan identity with Persian identity is a stereotype and subsumes other identities in Tajikistan.

Linkage is also the central theme of Anita Gupta’s paper on "Geopolitics or geoculture redefining pan-Turkism in Central Asian context". While the previous papers had examined the linkages in a historical context, this paper re-examines the continuing significance of one such linkage in the light of developments in the region. The paper moves away from an examination of economic relationship between Turkey and Turkish-speaking people of the region that is defined as pan-Turkism.

Arpita Basu Roy in her paper "Afghan refugees: A case study of the largest refugee population of the world", examines the largescale cross border movement of people during 1979-99 across the borders of Afghanistan. Delineating the Afghan civil war into a number of stages, this paper presents an analytical and the tabular account of this transborder flow.

The paper also focuses on the needs, perceptions, and management of these refugees in their two largest host countries — Iran and Pakistan. Jyoti Bhushan Das Gupta in his paper "The rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan" chronologically examines the rise of the Taliban and its growing influence and power after Kabul fell into their hands in 1996. It also focuses on the policies of other powers as a reflection of foreign intervention at critical moments, shaping or destroying indigenous political moments aimed at reconciliation and peace.

Mohammad Azhar‘s article on "India and Iran; trade in nineties" examines the details of Indo-Iran trade and its import and export structure. The paper also examines the prospects of enhanced trade between the two countries in a period of economic liberalisation.

Similarly, the need for strengthening regional, economic cooperation between India and China is examined by Wang Dehua in "Globalisation and revitalisation of theSilk Route". The paper argues that for the emergence of this sub-regional cooperation among India, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh, the revitalisation of the silk route is a historical necessity. This would also be beneficial for good political involvement for economic cooperation.

This book focuses on a range of issues pertaining to Asia in the year 1999 and provides a summary of events during that time. It is a useful volume for all scholars who are interested in political, economic and socio-cultural relations in Asian countries.

* * *

Industrial Espionage (Causes & Cure) Volume I"
by S. Subramaniam. Manas Publication, New Delhi. Pages 455. Rs 995.

Industrial espionage is gaining ground in the world to secure trade secrets of competitive business houses through unethical means and theft. This is now widely practised in almost all countries but is seldom admitted. Industrial espionage is against fair business competition and there is need for competitive business intelligence. Liberalisation, privatisation, modernszation and globalisation have brought in its wake a sea change in the profile of Indian trade and industry.

Many industrial giants and multinational corporations are coming to India for joint ventures and strategic alliances in manufacturing items for export to the Third World countries and share their know-how and technical expertise. It is for the first time that Indian entrepreneurs are sharing some of the closely guarded and exclusive process formulae and trade securities with the western and other advanced countries. Most of these are exclusive proprietary items developed at a heavy cost. These should require to be protected from unethical competition within the country and from outside.

In the introductory chapter, "The evolution of industrial espionage" the author has illustrated a number of cases from USA, UK, Malaysia, South Africa and so on. In intelligence gathering through ages, it has been explained that the intelligence denotes information that has been verified for its reliability, assessed for its accuracy, processed for its veracity and valued for its utility and is ready for use after a nod from the decision maker.



An Indian scientist’s odyssey to Antarctica
Review by Randeep Wadehra

Breaking the Ice in Antarctica
by Satya S. Sharma. New Age International, New Delhi. Pages: x+323. Price: not mentioned.

THE Antarctica is one of the last frontiers on this planet that man is straining to conquer. The author terms it as the "most mysterious" of the seven continents. According to geological studies, roughly 140 million years ago, East Antarctica formed the Gondwanaland’s central block. The other parts of Antarctica were South America, peninsular India, Australia and New Zealand. Today the frozen continent poses a strong challenge to man’s endurance and ingenuity.

Whatever begins as a scientific curiosity ultimately ends up becoming a tool for the newly conquered territory’s exploitation – be it the oceanic depths, the Himalayan heights or the vast frozen stretches at the two poles. Antarctica covers 14.5 million sq km of frozen land on the South Pole. This area is as big as the combined size of China and India. It experiences the lowest temperature on the planet at –89 degrees Celsius, is buffeted by wind velocities of over 300 km/ph, contains 90 per cent of the world’s fresh water in the form of ice, and yet is the driest continent on earth.

Sharma, a Major-General, says that during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the area’s main attraction was commercial exploitation of its marine life – especially, whales and fish in the surrounding waters. Minerals are speculated to be in immense quantities, but barring sedimentary iron, no proven deposits have been mapped as yet. The southern ocean is full of marine life like krill, seals and whales. And of course you can watch penguins in their natural habitat.

This book, a revised edition of Sharma’s earlier effort titled "Citadel of Ice: Dakshin Gangotri", is a more comprehensive account of various expeditions to the frozen continent. It gives a graphic account of the first-hand experience of setting up the first Indian Research Station in 1983-84 on a floating ice shelf along the Princess Astrid Coast in East Antarctica. It also gives details of the author’s stay for more than one year in the station till March, 1985.

It all began in October, 1981, when Sharma was working as a snow scientist in the Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) at Manali. Dr Raja Ramanna, the then Scientific Advisor to the Minister of Defence, visited the establishment and announced the plans to send an expedition to the Antarctica. He also said that the Government was interested in including a defense scientist from SASE. Eventually Sharma was selected for the trip.

Talking of the various expeditions and the Indian camp at Dakshin Gangotri, the author feels that a variety of scientific experiments conducted there will enable the Indian polar science to advance by leaps and bounds. The research done on glaciology, meteorology, microbiology, engineering, communication and related fields is expected to pay rich dividends.

He points out that Antarctica expeditions have begun a new programme of science that has a direct bearing on mankind’s existence. The abundance of mineral wealth, availability of vast fresh water resources in the form of icebergs, sea ice, etc, and the fact that it is still a virgin landmass hold out vast economic potential. Though India made a late entry into this area, "the drive and seriousness with which the programme was commenced and the results which have been achieved, have borne fruit in various disciplines of science and related exploration. Consequently, India has acquired the status of a full-fledged member of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research and the Standing Committee on Antarctic Logistics, and a party to the convention of Antarctic marine living resources".

Here is a book that offers lots of invaluable information. The "I" factor does not overwhelm the main thesis of the book. Worth keeping in your bookshelf for ready reference as well as for an interesting read. And, it has some beautiful photographs too! One wishes there were more of these though.

* * *

Development and Change
by I. Mohan. APH Publishing, New Delhi. Pages xv+177. 500.

Mikhail Gorbachov once remarked, "And if the Russian word ‘perestroika’ has easily entered the international lexicon, this is due to more than just interest in what is going on in the Soviet Union. Now the whole world needs restructuring i.e. progressive development, a fundamental change." Could parivartan have gained similar currency if our leaders were adventurous enough?

Restructuring involves drastic change – something that is anathema to Indian psyche. Yet the common man does realise that transformation is as inevitable as any natural law. Change is a vital input in an organism’s development process – be it biological, social or any other. Thus if a town ceases to evolve in consonance with the demands of time, it tends to rot. This often happens in the case of what are generally termed the walled cities. While new localities outside the medieval wall proliferate and prosper, an unmistakable stench of decay emanates from behind the wall.

In this book Mohan has portrayed Shahjahanabad – one of the several settlements that form part of the national capital. The book "projects the galaxy of street patterns of Shajahanabad". It takes a close look at social relations among the various settlements there. "Each street has its own identity. There are monuments, schools, shopping areas, residences, mosques and temples everywhere."

Mohan has studied the economy and social dynamics of Chandni Chowk, Lal Kuan, Maliwara, Ballimaran (where Ghalib once lived), Matia Mahal, Khan Baoli, etc. The list is rather long, but the volume is readable, at least for those who would like to know how the once isolated settlements have changed over the years to cope with densely populated urban communities that surround them.

* * *

Hinduism at the Crossroads
by H.N. Bali. Om Publications, Faridabad. Pages 218. Rs 300.

One of the beauties, indeed the salient feature, of Hinduism is that it is not a static concept bogged down in rigid dogmas. It has no founder and owes nothing to any book or event for its existence. It is like a primordial river; its mainstream getting periodically rejuvenated by various "feeders" or tributaries, and in return it branching out into various streams that have their distinct identities and yet borrowing crucial inputs from the mother source. Sarvepalli Gopal describes Hinduism as a religion that is "without circumference, an amalgamation, under the impact of extraneous influences, of a large variety of religious beliefs with similar structures…"

This religion embraces the traditional caste based Brahaminical order with the same facility as it does the Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj and other protestant movements.

Thus it never really faced any threat to its existence, as it was capable of taking periodical reformist movements in its stride. Instead it has been attracting admirers and followers from as far away as Philadelphia – remember Satyanand Stokes – in the recent past, and other civilisations for ages. Hinduism is a dynamic concept that defies a definitive explanation. Whether one worships Shiva, Vishnu or Kali, one is a Hindu, an animist is a Hindu and so is an atheist. Again, the Hindu ethos tends to celebrate the "humanizing" of divinity.

In Ramayana Rama is at once the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as well as an obedient son, a loving brother, a husband, father and king with all the attendant human frailties. Similarly one can choose Krishna the lover, Krishna the butter thief, Krishna the supreme being or Krishna the param yogi. Such catholicity is this religion’s major strength. This is precisely why fanaticism has not been able to grow in the Hindu society despite desperate efforts of some elements.

Alas, today this vibrant organism is sought to be weakened by shackling it with all sorts of regressive dogmas.

Whenever someone writes about India, Hinduism or a related topic he somehow ends up or even begins with berating the western "ills" as Bali has done in this book. No doubt the West, like any other civilisation, has its downside. But it also has its positive aspects like its work culture, its dedication to bettering the quality of life, its social ethos and ethics et al — the qualities that have taken it to the pinnacle of material and cultural progress. We somehow feel more comfortable while highlighting its drawbacks in the same fashion as perhaps a hag feels after detecting a microscopic wart on the face of attractive lass. Little do we realize that accepting and assimilating the best from other cultures has been a hoary and rejuvenating tradition of Hinduism..

Bali is right when he asserts that self-renewal is the greatest strength of Hinduism. He goes on to aver, "Every time it faced a grim challenge there emerged an exponent who restated the imperishable core of its thought with greater vigour. Adi Shankara in his time revitalised Hinduism by retrieving from obscurity the principal Upanishads and the Gita…" The problem is that no one wants to acknowledge that the reforms undertaken were without targeting other religions like Buddhism, though he did enter into debates with their followers. Adi Shankara was solely worried about the rot that had set in the precepts and practices of the Hindu society.

Unfortunately Bali would have us believe that Hinduism is standing on the crossroads today solely because of the influence of western consumerism. He conveniently forgets that the sati and other evil practices were abolished thanks to the substantial influence of the western liberalism. Despite the fact that we thump our chests to claim credit as the original home of democracy – citing the gana rajyas of yore – we know that the Westminster system has helped us shed many, though not all, of our feudal propensities.

Though one might tend to endorse Bali’s prescription for our contemporary ills, we must have a homegrown system of governance, it should be liberal enough to assimilate all dissent and be dynamic enough to evolve constantly to meet the people’s aspirations. One would not mind if the saffron brigade or any other nationalist outfit takes the credit for developing such an edifice.



A quirky tale, but interesting
Review by Bhupinder Singh

Driving Mr Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein’s Brain
by Michael Paterniti. Delta Trade Paperbacks, New York. Pages 211. $10.95.

ON April 18, 1955, as Albert Einstein lay dead in a Princeton hospital, a 44-year-old pathologist with impeccable Ivy League background, Dr Thomas Harvey was called to perform the autopsy. He did so, and in the process also removed the brain of the great physicist. Not only that, he decided not to hand over the prized piece to anyone, including the hospital and state agencies. A few years later, he was fired from his job on apparently flimsy grounds.

Harvey spent the rest of his life hiding the brain in his house, moving from one job to another, losing his medical licence along the way and ending up working as an extruder operator in a plastics factory, doing a measly eight-dollar-an-hour job. In 1995, the author accidentally realised his true identity as the latter chatted with his landlord in New Mexico. It lead to his developing a kind of friendship with the doctor, further leading him to act as his chauffeur as Harvey expressed his desire to visit, and ostensibly hand over the relic brain, to Einstein’s granddaughter, Evelyn, living in Berkeley, California.

The book is an outcome of the journey — part travelogue, part autobiography and part a biography of Harvey. Einstein stands mostly on the sidelines, as his brain resides in a Tupperware container in the back of the Buick Skylark car — popping out of its trunk abode once in a while to serve as an anchor to the driver and the irascible Mr Harvey, sometimes providing a beacon of enlightenment and sometimes as an introspective voice. The result is an eclectic, sometimes funny but a downright original and immensely readable travelogue.

On the road, driving from New Jersey to California across the vast mid-western states of Ohio, Indiana and further on in Idaho and Arizona, the writer struggles to strike conversation with his uncommunicatively eccentric passenger ("a man of silence after silence") who drops in unannounced to see one of his three former wives and a host of children and grandchildren. Nearly half a century separates the driver and the passenger, the author and the 84-year-old Harvey, just about the time that separated Harvey from Einstein. Einstein, the genius and eccentric, Harvey, the eccentric and a talented doctor.

This kind of a journey can be expected in America where the weird and the whacky can be your next door neighbours, existing as much in flesh and blood as in fantasy. "Only occasionally can you glimpse through the embrouses of an otherwise perfectly polite person to see the cannons aimed out, only in a certain glint do the eyeteeth become fangs. We are driven by desire and fear. Only in our solitary hungers do we find ourselves capable of the most magnificently unexpected sins," the writer remarks somewhat out of place but piquantly as he drives out of Ohio.

Later, in Lawrence city, he observes, "As will happen in this single day, we will live through four seasons. Which can occur when one drives long enough with Einstein’s brain in the trunk. Time bends, accelerates, overlaps; it moves backward, vertically, then loops; simultaneity rules." Such flights of fancy to see America through the eyes of Einstein are not unusual in the book — indeed it is not without its flaws. Bathos dominates at places..

Elsewhere, Paterniti brings alive a good humoured, skeptical look at Einstein and his adopted country, often quoting Einstein or picking up anecdotes from his life. "The last 30 years of his life, he might as well have gone fishing," he remarks referring to the relativity theorist’s unfruitful attempts at formulating the unified field theory, on which he continued to work hours before his death — as if the three decades of hard labour may culminate in a triumphal breakthrough in his final moments..

After his initial success in theoretical physics, Paterniti observes, Einstein was known more for his moral opinion than scientific success.

Einstein condemned war. "I appeal to all men and women to declare that they will refuse to give any further assistance to war or to preparation of war," he wrote in a 1931 statement to the War Resisters International. Later, he wrote, "My pacifism is an instinctive feeling, a feeling that possesses me, because the murder of people is disgusting. My attitude is not derived from any intellectual theory but is based on my deepest antipathy to every kind of cruelty and hatred."

In 1952, responding to questions about the atom bomb, he said: "You are mistaken in regarding me as a kind of chieftain of those scientists who abuse science for military purposes. I have never worked in the field of applied science, let alone for the military. I condemn the military mentality of our time just as you do. Indeed, I have been a pacifist all of my life and regard Gandhi as the only truly great figure of our age."

His Left-leaning views made him an object of suspicion. His closeness to Charlie Chaplin lead to at least one FBI agent swearing that Einstein was at the centre of a communist plot to take over Hollywood. Because of such suspicions, Einstein was not associated with the Manhattan Project leading to the making of the atomic bomb.

The preservation of the physical brain of Einstein, doggedly saving and hiding it from powers of all sorts, including the government — at tremendous cost and suffering to him, makes Thomas Harvey an anarchist hero of sorts. Who knows that the brain which may have been otherwise lost forever, may still lead to some discoveries. Maybe, one day, posterity may even clone it.

Others may differ — and consider it at best undignified and at worst unethical, to treat the mind of any man, let alone Einsteinn’s, as if it were a floppy disk or a wax tablet (Plato likened the human mind to a "wax tablet", even as Freud compared it to a "mystic writing pad" made out of wax paper and celluloid.) In other words, to dissociate it from the flesh and blood of the living man.

However, as of now, like in much of the journey described in the book, Einstein — the great mind of science, reason and morality, is cast away in the back of the car, at least metaphorically. It rides, silently floating in formaldehyde, as a baseball aficionado and a cantankerous octogenarian drive across America, trying to find a home for something that is forever in danger from predators of all sorts.



The power of prayer for the soul
Review by Kuldip Kalia

For the soul: prayer;
A Book on Self-Empowerment
compiled by M.M. Walia. Sterling Publishers, New Delhi. Pages 63. Price not mentioned.

SINCERE efforts, honest working and better performance are the necessary ingredients for achieving success in life but do not bother about the results. Without divine grace, a person can achieve nothing. Anyway miracles do happen in life with the power of prayer. So prayer is the starting point to the realm of grace. An effort must be made to establish contact with the sources of all power. In fact, for attaining strength, it serves as "a means of communication between the self (atma) and the higher self (parmatma)".

Rabbi Ariel Josque Heschel rightly says, "A soul without prayer is a soul without a home." That is why someone has emphasised that "Some people say prayers, others pray". There is always a desire somewhere in the core of the heart that someone should teach the method of praying. However, there is a Serbian proverb that "good deeds are the best prayer". So there is no need to worry or to express anger but always respect elders and live by honest means.

Above all, be grateful to God. Neither one needs a specific place and time, nor does one require a particular posture. The prayer can be offered anywhere and everywhere, at any time and there is "no prescribed posture". In the words of Gandhi, "As food is indispensable to the body, so is prayer indispensable for the soul ." The ability to serve others is the highest strength to reckon with.

Petition (asking for ourselves), intercession (asking for others), adoration (worshipping God in the true form), and contemplation (a condition of alert passivity) are different types of prayer. At the same time increased physical buoyancy, greater intellectual vigour, moral stamina and deeper understanding of the realities underlying human relationship are the terms used for measuring the influence of prayer on the human mind.

However, praying in the morning but spending the day in a sinful manner and resorting to prayers only when in trouble are meaningless exercises One should make prayer "a way of life". Rightly said, "Like cooking, eating, walking, working and sleeping" — it should be a part and parcel of routine activities. Moreover, prayer is considered to be "indispensable for the fullest development of personality". Also develops a sense of moral obligation and intellectual humility. A leading physician in the USA, Alexis Carrel, acknowledges the power of prayer. It is said to be a "force as real as terrestrial gravity." So open your heart to God. "Joy is within you, you just need to enjoy it,"

In an introduction to Jaap Saheb, Baba Virsa Singh explains the way the prayer acts. At the spiritual level, one starts feeling closer to God’s grace, begins to realise the splendour of God and thereby prepares for the divine experience of his vision. At the material level, it helps to face the challenges of life and thus one gets strength and fortitude to meet any eventuality and difficulty. Not only this; prayer can transcend the consequences of karma. It breaks the "shackles of karma" when one seeks forgiveness and compassion. Thus the man is free.

At this stage the "sanskar" feels a wonderful transformation. Fear and anxiety fade away, thereby giving a place to "courage and tranquility". Similarly, falsehood and pride are replaced by truth and humility. Furthermore, a feeling of renunciation and detachment nourishes the soul with a wonderful experience. Ultimately it is the grace of the almighty that helps.

We must realise this fundamental truth. Collective prayers are said to be more powerful. There is an old saying that, "A family that prays together stays together". God understands our silence better than our words. We do not need any special language. Norman Vincent Peale proves the point when he says, "Talk to God in your own language. He understands it." Somehow, it is the recognition of "oneness with the universal soul’ or what may be called the "union with the supreme spirit".

At the same time, Swami Visudha Chaitanya warns that "prayer should not be degraded into a contract between you and God". One must listen to the guru when he says, "Prayer does not necessarily change things for you but it definitely changes you for things". So close your eyes and shut out the world. All the hurdles are over. You will certainly feel God’s presence. Whether it is from the Gita, the Bible or the Quran, prayer is universal. Remember Gandhi. According to him, "without prayer, there is no inward peace".



The first corruption case in India
Review by V.N. Datta

THE trial and impeachment of the first Governor-General of India, Warren Hastings, appointed by the East India Company (EIC) to regulate the affairs of India, was conducted in England for about eight years. It had a decisive impact on the administration of India. It served as a warning to all EIC men that however high and mighty they might be, while governing large territories and weilding wide influence, they were not above law, and had no business to use arbitrary power by infringing on the norms of customary rules of governance.It had a salutary effect on company officers, set high standards of conduct by civil servants and administered a warning to them against violations of rules and regulations.

The book under review is by Jeremy Bernstein "Drawing of the Raj: The Life and Trials of Warren Hastings" (Aurum, London, pages 319, £ 199). Bernstein is the latest biographer of Warren Hastings. A professional journalist of long standing, he has mainly focused on India and Tibet. He has taken a distant attitude to the predominantly British perspectives on India. The dust jacket refers to Hastings’s role during the period "when a small European island became the master of a subcontinent spanning Indian Ocean and the Himalayas."

Penderel Moon, for some time a fellow of All Souls and a member of the Indian Civil Services, had produced an elegantly written short biography of Hastings in 1947. G.R. Gleig’s three-volume biography of Hastings had exonerated Hastings of any blemish in view of the dangers that threatened the British dominion in India. According to Gleig, Hastings’s actions were politically justified and there was no reason to condemn him on moral grounds.

Lord Macaulay wrote a very influential essay on Hastings in 1841 and took the view that Hastings, having failed to meet what his enemies called "natural law", still had rendered great services to the Raj in laying its foundation at the most critical time.

Hastings joined the East India Company in India as a writer in 1750 and served at Moorshadabad from 1754 to 1766. He became a member of the Supreme Council of Calcutta and the first Governor-General of India in 1773.

Bernstein gives a blow-by-blow account of the circumstances that led to Hastings’s impeachment. He does not say anything startlingly new in his interpretation but goes over the familiar ground with a sure touch. In 1776 the directors of the East India Company petitioned the government seeking Hastings’s removal from service on account of his flagrant abuse of power and acts of oppression. Hastings 1777. Since one member of the Council died, Hastings used casting vote to withdraw his resignaiton, and return to office.

He went on to strongly resist the dangerous moves of the Marathas, the Nizam of Deccan and Hyderabad and Hyder Ali of Mysore. For meeting this critical situation, he needed money. He took recourses to seizng by force the wealth of the begums of Oudh. Such a reckless act of extortion led to his recall to England by a motion moved in the House of Commons. Fox’s East India Bill in 1783 designed to curb corruption in India was thrown out, but next year Pitt’s bill establishing a board of control was passed.

Hastings resigned and left India in 1785. He was impeached by Edmund Burke in 1786 charged with acts of injustice, oppression, gross maladministration and receiving huge bribes. On the credit side, Hastings had founded a modern polity. He had run the government and conducted wars better than the French statesman Richelieu. He introduced widespread reforms. A skilful diplomat, he had genuine interest in governing India through the recently complex legal interest. His land reforms and taxation policies despite inherent limitations were productive.

A scholar of Persian and Urdu he had promoted Oriental learning; overseeing translation of works on Hindu and Muslim laws and Charles Wilkin’s pioneering translation of the Bhagvad Gita. He was the first president of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. He was a towering personality and would not give in and would meet dangerous situations with firmness and confidence. A realist in politics, he would not mistake shadow for substance.

According to Bernstein, the decision to impeach Hastings was taken largely due to Prime Minister William Pitt’s attitude. Pitt had been an admirer of Hastings, though he feared that he might become his formidable rival in the Cabinet due to his popularity. Prof R. Coupland maintains that Pitt was greatly influenced in his attitude to Hastings by the evangelical William Wilberforce’s strong reaction to the callousness shown by Hastings towards the begums of Oudh. Wilberforce thought that Hastings’s conduct called for utmost condemnation. He felt outraged and spoke about it to his old friend Pitt behind the Speaker. Thereafter the tide turned and Hastings had to appear before the bar of the Lords to defend himself.

The Nawab of Oudh was dependent on the British rulers because of a defence alliance. The money was with the begums who were in charge of the late Nawab’s treasure. Hastings extracted money by imprisoning the begums, whose stewards, the eunuchs, were starved and put in fetters. The EIC servants went on looting and plundering and amassed a fortune.

On the outbreak of war with the French, Chait Singh, Raja of Banaras, was asked to pay more than the fixed tribute of £ 2,25,000, a special sum of £ 50,000 to meet war expenses within five days. Chait Singh sought more time but was refused; instead a fine of £ 2000 was imposed. He paid £ 2000 as entertainment money which Hastings used in the Company’s service. The Raja was asked to provide 1,000 horses. Because of his financial difficulties, the raja had no means of meetings these demands. He was humiliated and removed from his estate.

Edmund Burke who opened the impeachment debate described his treatment of Chait Singh as one of impoliteness, severity and inhumanity. Warren Hastings was impeached by the greatest orators and the finest brains of England, Edmand Burke, William Pilt, Charles James Fox and the silver-tongued Sheridan. These celebrities were assisted by Sir Philip Francis, a former member of Warren Hastings Council at Calcutta, who provided massive material to Burke for building his case against Hastings.

The trial of Hastings began in the Westminster Hall on February 13, 1788, and dragged on for eight years until April 23, 1795, when he was acquitted of all charges, including the main charge of corruption and those favouring conviction on other charges ranged from two to six.

According to Burke, the legal and moral standards applied in England should also apply in India. As the trial was to begin, Burke declared, "I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured and oppressed in both sexes, in every age, rank, situation and condition of life." There were dramatic scenes during the impeachment. The House was packed when Sheridan delivered his brilliant speech on the begums of Oudh. Sheridan was offered £ 1000 for a copyright of his speech and 50 guineas were paid for a seat in the gallery.

On the ladies reaction to Sheridan’s speech, Macaulay wrote, "Handkerchiefs were pulled out, smelling bottles were handed round, hysterical sobs and screams were heard and Mrs Sheridan was called out in a fit."

Throughout the eight years of impeachment Hastings stood before the bar of peers and maintained his equanimity despite the odium poured on him. It began to be felt strongly in Westminster Hall that Hastings was already under mental and material strain In the long-drawn battle waged against him and he had been brought to the verge of ruin. The impeachment was a severe punishment in itself. The length of the trial had already made him an object of pity. He had been subjected to the ordeal of prosecution suffered by any person occupying a position of responsibility.

Burke’s tirade against Hastings couched in strict moral tone did more to gain public sympathy for Hastings than anything the disgraced former Governor-General had to say for himself. And the press, though initially sympathetic to the trial, rapidly grew weary of Burke’s obssessive denunciatotry tone. When Hastings was acquitted he said, "I gave you all and you repaid me with impeachment."

His defence was that all his actions were motivated by his concern for the defence of the British dominion in India. It was the raison d’etre that had governed his policy in India. In short, whatever errors he had committed were of a statesman facing imminent peril amidst a hostile people in a foreign country.

The Court of Proprietors wanted to give a pension to Hastings but Pitt and Henry Daudas, president of the Board of Control, vetoed it. The Court of Directors gave an adequate allowance to Hastings to maintain himself in his estate of 650 acres at Daylesford. An annuity for life of £ 4000 was also settled.

The impeachment set out a standard of conduct for British administrators that while discharging public responsibility, they were required to observe high norms of equity, justice and propriety. That is not unfortunately the case at present in this country.



Coping with a chaotic future
Review by Ashutosh Kumar

Another Millennium
edited by Romila Thapar. Viking, New Delhi. Rs 395.

IN the new millennium the world is undergoing the processes of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. These processes have been hailed as revolutionary expected to take the world to an era characterised by "end of history" and also "end of geography".

In this post-communist era the ideological concerns have given way to the concerns of the empowerment of the individual and groups living on the margin. They arise primarily due to the withdrawal of the state from the social sector under the influence of market forces. Post-materialist concerns are also becoming significant as is manifested in new social movements like Green Peace, human rights groups, etc.

Concepts like nation state, sovereignty and nationalism are no longer dicussed by the privileged. The process by which multiculturalism is replacing the monoculturism of an exclusionary nationalism can be attributed to the upsurge of various identities in an increasingly liberalised and democratised world with emphasis on equality, dignity and democratic rights. The assertion of civil society has given a new meaning to the democratic functioning of post-industrial set-up, be it the issue of the autonomy of the media or the ecological conservation or gender justice or the human rights.

All these, the book under review argues, encompass a sense of progress and hope for a better future for a democracy like India. However, they also provide a new context to the age-old problems like widening social and economic disparities accompanied by violence — both caste- and class-based; ethnicity-based autonomist and secessionist violence and terrorism; empowerment of marginalised communities, etc. threatening India today.

And then there are new concerns as diverse as saving the Indian landscape, gradual withdrawal of the Indian state from social sector under new economic policies and autonomy of the media in the face of the IT revolution.

Fourteen of India’s leading social analysts have presented their views on these and other related issues of great significance in this edited work. Broadly speaking the essays take up "issues relating to identity, social and economic inequalities, democracy, the role of marginalised groups such as dalits and minorities, the meaning of culture, education, technology of communication, media and environmental problems".

While holding differing ideological predilections, the contributors make efforts to explore the possibility of a better society for "questioning the inevitability of given patterns".

Krishna Kumar observes in his essay that "no better proof of India’s indifference to the future needs to be found than (in) the neglect of children and their education throughout the half-century of independence". Kumar argues that the virtual exclusion of the two-thirds of the Indian population living in villages from the benefits of higher education can be explained in two ways. One is the colonial legacy of education being treated as "an investment to enrich the elites." The other is the fear of an educated electorate of the traditionally downtrodden groups, which explains the unconcern for educating the peoples.

In the years to come, however, with the regionalisation and localisation of politics the scenario is likely to change for the better. However, the challenge to the state control over the education system which disfavours independent and critical thinking and also adds to the privileges the privileged would come in the form of youth protest and student politics as the first generation school entrants flood the system.

In another essay relating to the emerging education system, Dhruv Raina argues that unlike Nehruvian India, universities have increasingly ceased to remain the premier centres for research even in the field of social sciences. "The freedom to choose subjects for research often determines the preference that scientists have for research institutes that are outside universities." If the trends continue, it will mean a change "in the directions the study of the sciences in India is likely to take in the future". The parallel strands of knowledge one represented by traditional universities and the other represented by research centres "may not cohere unless the social processes create a different dialogue".

Essays relating to the expected change in the socio-political processes follow with a paper by Bina Agarwal taking up the issue of gender equality in the new millennium. She argues that "to build an economically and socially equal partnership between women and men, we will need to re-examine our assumptions about key social institutions, in particular the family, and about men’s and women’s roles within the home and in society". Legal reform measures like granting woman the right to property as equal heir are positive development "enabling women to alter the norms of our patriarchal society". But are they sufficient for the emancipation and empowerment of women? Given the patriarchal character of society, one hardly notices any recognition of the contribution of women in the construction of Indian culture. Such recognition would have helped understanding "the largest spectrum of cultural diversities in the world".

Rustom Barucha’s paper attributes the lack of understanding of our culture to the very attempt of the state "to retain the authenticities of different cultures, and thereby keep them apart". What has followed as a consequence is the reduction of the concept of multiculturalism to a mere "geographical contiguity of different cultures which co-exist in mere spatiality without interpenetrating". For counterpointing this statist projection of diversity which breeds the culture of indifference what is needed is to launch a movement towards plurality in the new millennium. Plurality, Bharucha argues, would mean recognition of "the interactivity of cultures across difference" and not merely a "registration of variety".

Culture and tradition are closely linked to each other as a "tradition is created through the selecting and interpreting of cultural items". Generation after generation tends to do this "filtering out". Invariably in the process the culture of dominant groups emerge as hegemonic in nature. The need is to protect culture from such a negative development by promoting multiple cultures in the above sense. The divergent cultural expressions in India bring focus on the issue of modernity relating the marginalised groups — women, OBCs, dalits and minorities.

The essays by Dipankar Gupta, Sunil Khilnani, Gopal Guru, Javeed Alam and P. Sainath take up related themes and concretise them in the context of the emerging shape of Indian democracy in the new millennium. Gupta in his study argues that "the more privileged classes who seem best suited to usher in modernity are not all that well equipped for this project". The project of modernising India would be essentially carried out by the underprivileged masses who would take over in a radical manner within the unfolding of "the liberating potentialities of the nation state, and the forces of industrialisation and urbanisation" in the coming decades.

Khilnani argues that politics remains central to the post-colonial Indian society despite the assertion of market forces in the aftermath of "new" globalisation. India as "an intensely political society" is revealed in the form of the new social groups’ increased participation in the democratic electoral politics. What does it hold for the nascent democratic institutions of India? Khilnani holds that greater electoral participation may be necessary but not a sufficient condition for the success of democracy as "elections can be reduced to providing patrons rather than electing representatives". Indeed the greater political participation has coincided with "the dissipation of political institutions and procedures".

How to combat this process and ensure accountability of the political class? Non-elected agencies and institutions like the judiciary and judicial agencies can play a larger role in this context. Freedom of information in the present era of global information revolution would also be of help. Khilnani opines that "law and information are likely to be more important to the future of democracy than resort to a sentimental picture of civil society". It follows that relations between citizens and the state in the "new" Indian democracy would be of crucial importance, especially for the marginalised groups such as dalits, adivasis, OBCs and also for Muslims and Christians as they all are increasingly involved in the "politics of struggle for equality, security and democratic rights".

Guru echoes this sentiment by succinctly putting it: "For dalits, the 21st century would see a history full of contestation with opponents of all varieties and mediation and negotiation with the forces which have a genuine stake in transforming the structures that renew and underline the condition of inequality".

Alam, writing in the context of the nature of Muslim socio-political presence in India observes in his study that the struggle of the vulnerable sections of society, including Muslims, around the issues echoing human concern — dignity, empowerment and emancipation — is going to become "more and more central to Indian politics as the ruling classes drag the country into subservience to international financial capital with all the disastrous consequences for the everyday life of common people".

Sainath expresses his apprehension that the processes of globalisation are going to worsen the prospect of a meaningful democracy as the economic inequality would increase with the growing privatised control of resources, including common property resources.

Is there any role left for marxism as an ideology, philosophical position or a way of life in the post-communist era marked by the ongoing project of modernisation and globalisation? Prabhat Patnaik while emphasising the need to transcend capitalism and developing an alternative social arrangement, argues that marxism with its central concern being realisation of human freedom remains very much relevant "especially at a time when the depredations of international finance capital are inaugurating over much of the Third World yet another dark chapter of human history". Patnaik expresses hope in "a new upsurge of praxis for liberation" in the form of reconstruction of marxism.

Kaushik Basu and N.R. Narayana Murthy in their essays foresee the prospect of prosperity and growth of the Indian economy in the new millennium. Basu refers to the factors like major economic reform measures undertaken in the nineties, the IT revolution sweeping the country thanks primarily to the institutes of technology and higher education founded in Nehruvian India, ever increasing saving rates, increased investment into financial markets all of which augers well for Indian economy.

Murthy presents a rosy picture of India’s progress in the field of information technology, a fact accepted by the whole world. Basu, however, strikes a note of caution when he argues that appropriate government policies would be required to curb rising inequality and the resulting tensions by creating an opportunity to improve the conditions of society’s most deprived and downtrodden. Such policies would involve, among others, a check on the fiscal deficit, promotion of literacy, direct role of the government in the redistribution of income to the poor, etc. Making and implementing policies should also be concerned with the future of environment.

Like other Third World countries, India increasingly becomes a site for dumping toxic waste by the advanced industrialised countries. Mahesh Rangarajan suggests "a new vision of society that can live in peace with nature while providing equitably for all peoples of this land".

Most of us would find it really impossible to look at the full millennium as such but it would seem easier to confine our attention to the foothills of it — the first century.

This book with a brilliant introduction by Thapar not only enables us in such an endeavour but also "compels us to look at the hard choices before India".



Politics of Buddha philosophy
Review by G.V. Gupta

God as Political Philosopher: Buddha’s Challenge to Brahminism
by Kancha Ilaiah. Samya, New Delhi. Pages 244. Rs 400.

KANCHA Ilaiah, a "dalit bahujan" activist and scholar, has tried to retrieve the Buddha as a political philosopher in the materialist tradition though softer than the Lokayat. He thinks that both colonial and nationalist historiography has treated the Buddha only as a religious thinker and has not paid any attention to his political thought. This has been to the disadvantage of the dalit bahujan as the space of ancient Indian political thought has come to be occupied exclusively by Kautilya and Manu.

He takes James Mill as a representative colonial thinker who thought that ancient Indian polity was totally hierarchical and dictatorial with no rational or liberating thought. Altekar, Bhandarkar, Jayaswal and Saletore have been taken as representative nationalist scholars who took pains to show democratic traditions in the thoughts of Kautilya and Manu even by twisting the text and arguments. They have even appropriated the thinking of the Buddha as part of Hindu thought to buttres their argument.

Ilaiah rightly laments the almost total absence of Buddhist studies in Indian universities and the dominance of Kautilya and Manu. The present rise of Hindutva is the immediate provocation for this book. Ilaiah takes the assistance of historians of materialist dialectic tradition such as Kosambi, D.P. Chattopadhyaya, Romila Thapar, R.S. Sharma and B.R. Ambedkar, above all, to critique Manu and Kautilya and to establish the validity of democratic republican thinking of the Buddha. He relies on Pali texts and "Jataka" tales to understand the social context of the rise of Buddhism and its political philosophy. The Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, Manusmriti and Arthashastra are the Hindu texts he relies on.

He regards the question of dating and later interpolations in these texts as of no relevance for his purpose and does not want to fall in the trap of creating confusion regarding the contribution of the Buddha. Therefore, the Hindu polity is a varna ashrams polity with the Brahmin at the top and the Shudra at the bottom. He regards the Vaisya as slightly above the Shudra. He treats varna as class which was in the process of becoming caste. Caste is signified by endogamy.

The first three classes/castes are clearly identified by their profession and hierarchy. But this system, Ilaiah thinks, has divided the Shudras into various jatis by professions and this subdivision of Shudras has made it impossible for them to come on a single platform. The author also feels that Marxist thought has to be modified in the Indian context and caste has to take the place of class.

The first millennium BC was a period of great flux and change in India. In the sixth/seventh century BC India had about 16 tribal political units, of which the majority had become monarchical though some were still republics. Of these Magadha was emerging as the empire gobbling up these tribal entities. Plough had been invented and the Vaisyas and Kshatriyas were handicapped in the further development of agriculture because of the Brahaminical sacrificial requirement of draft cattle and their habit of beef eating.

Buddhism rose to revive and defend the system of tribal democracies in the structure and organisation of its sanghas and propounded the thesis of ahimsa to protect the interests of the Vaisyas and Kshatriyas in the growth of agriculture. While the Lokayat stoutly and openly denied the existence of God, the soul and transmigration in its materialism, the Buddha avoided the controversy by saying that these did not concern him. The Buddha was a rationalist believing that misery and pain have a cause and there is a remedy. For that he propounded the eight-fold middle path of righteous worldly conduct. This concerned material conduct and was hierarchy neutral.

The author argues that the Buddha was the originator of the contract theory of the state. Contrary to that, Hindu theory, as the story of Prithu shows, believed in its divine origin. He also criticises the dominance of danda (punishment, use of force) as a sanction in Hindu theory and the neglect of compassion, reform and consent. Hindu theory of punishment was also highly discriminatory in favour of the Brahmin who was immune from corporal harm. A charge of murder could at worst result in his banishment.

Kautilya recommended all underhand means to destroy republics and to facilitate the expansion of empires.The organisation of sangha was, on the other hand, a model of republican/democratic functioning. Every decision had to be taken after free discussion in the sangha assembly and, if necessary, by a majority decision. Minutes of the meetings were kept in full and a complete record of voting was maintained. There was a regular seating arrangement and a designated officer to ensure proper record and other arrangements.

Admission to the sangha was non-discriminatory as regards caste or professional background or criminal record. Every member of the sangha was equal to the other. Vegetarianism was part of ahimsa but there was no ban on meat eating. Therefore, this had no relationship with Brahminical purity. Except for a small bundle of personal clothes, all property belonged to the sangha and was managed democratically. The Buddha, who originally was not in favour of admitting women to the sangha agreed to do so on democratic principle advocated by Ananda.

It is, however, interesting to note that the Buddha did not admit army deserters and debt defaulters to the sangha. This was a concession by the Buddha to emperor Bimbisara and his own Vaishya supporters whose goodwill he wanted to retain against the Brahmins.

Ilaiah has, thus, been able to establish the democratic/republican aspects of the Buddha in his political management. However, his refusal to deal with the dating of Manusmriti and Arthashastra as also Jataka tales is problematic. It is now well recognised that these two documents were compiled around the first century AD. There is no historical evidence to suggest that there was any sort of Brahminical dominance during the reign of Bimbisara or his son Ajatashatru whom both Buddhist and Jain sources claim to be adherents of their religion.

Contemporary Buddhist literature is more contemptuous of Brahminical sacrificial rites and sorcery than critical of the caste system. With the imperial Sisunaks firmly in control, it is difficult to imagine any firm doctrine of varna being followed.

Thus while his comparison of Buddhist and Brahminical doctrines is valid, his dialectical argument that the growth of Buddhism was a movement against the beef eating practice of the Brahmins is not very convincing. Related to this is the question of the disappearance of Buddhism from India. Ilaiah will have us believe that later Brahminical violence against Buddhists and the Hindu appropriation of the Buddha as the ninth reincarnation of Vishnu were the prime reasons for this. There is no doubt about later Buddhist literature blaming Pushyamitra Sunga of massive violence against them; yet Nalanda continued to flourish till much later and the last Gupta emperor Kumar Gupta is believed to have generously funded it.

The caste system was well established by the time of Pushyamitra when the Gita was probably composed. The Gita is critical of the Vedas and regards nishkama karma yoga; in a way, the core of Buddhist philosophy, as a sure way of reaching and being one with God. This philosophical appropriation could be more relevant along with the probable large conversion of followers of Buddhist practices among the higher segments of the Shudras to Islam.

He is right in complaining about the absence of Buddhist studies in India, when such an important event of Indian history as that of the vanishing of Buddhism remains totally unexplored. The rise of Buddhism could be materially related to the agricultural change of creating a tradable surplus, necessitating and making possible the rise of empires. Ahimsa probably divided the grahapati into two — the vegetarian trader and the not so vegetarian cultivator. By refusing to admit deserters and debt defaulters into the sangha the Buddha clearly aligned himself with the rising trading and imperial interests.

In religion and philosophy, it helped develop the doctrine of individual salvation in place of communal sacrificial rituals. Caste is definitely a post-imperial phenomenon. By validating Manu’s doctrine of varna as practising Hindu political philosophy, the author is differentiating between the status of the Brahmin and the power of the king and placing the status above power. This seems to be non-materialism. As argued by Quigley, king is in the centre of caste interrelationship, the jajmani relationship of accepting dan, the ritual payment. Only the trader does not accept dan and the king periodically performs dan to achieve ritual purity.

This eliminates the duality of power and status by making the king supreme and makes Manu a partisan propagandist rather than a law giver. No political structure delinking power and status and putting the later above the former could survive two millennia.

Ilaiah understands the political philosophy of the Buddha through the structure of the sangha. This being a non-productive organisation sets obvious limits on its application to relations of production. Placing Manu at the core of Indian political thought is a colonial construct. It is colonialist understanding of Hindu hierachy which was enforced through census and legal interpretations of Hindu law. Hindu nationalists simply adopted it. Of course, with karmic interpretation. It is here that Manu requires to be attacked. It is false consciousness.

The author deserves thanks for bringing back the Buddha as a political thinker in materialist tradition. As an activist, he has a constituency to serve. This will arm his constituents well.