No, I donít accept that. In the Shadow of the Pines,
which is set in the mid-nineteenth century, deals with one manís
dream of changing the destiny of the entire subcontinent. Lord
Dalhousie, who had laid the railway network in England, was
fiercely determined to create an enlightened, urban-based
society in India. He laid the foundations of the modern Indian
state. He built more roads and townships than anyone before him
or after, integrated the Sikhs into Indian Society and opened up
the Civil Services to the Indians. Working with a missionary
zeal, he took the society from the Medieval Ages to the modern
era. All this definitely impacted the present-day reality.
So also, in No
Friends, No Enemies I have brought out very starkly that if
the Americans had not disrupted the Paris Conference of the Big
Four, the Cold War might well have ended in 1960. Imagine, there
would have been no Cuban missile crisis; no Vietnam War and
certainly the proliferation of nuclear weapons would have been
curtailed. And if there had been peaceful co-existence with the
Communists, perhaps Islamic fundamentalism wouldnít have
assumed such threatening proportions.
dwell on either the Raj or Europe of the Cold War period. Why
this fascination for Europeans, their history and the so-called
heroes of those eras?
I donít think I
have any fascination for Europeans as such. Both my published
novels are very different from each other. The only common
feature is that they are both historical novels, where the
known-half of things has been accurately portrayed and an
attempt has been made to unearth the unknown-half of things. The
third novel When the Vulture Descends is set largely in
India and the characters are predominantly Indian.
Do you think weíd
be better off if the British were still around, ruling or
No, I donít
think so. After World War II the British had to leave. Perhaps
if they had left ten years earlier, Pakistan would not have
emerged. Yes, the British did establish very efficient
administrative and judicial systems and gave India the finest
civil service ó Indian Civil Service ó in the history of the
As a government
officer do you feel completely free (in the real sense of the
term) to write whatever you wish to or do you perceive any
Yes, I feel
completely free. The government lays no restrictions on creative
writing. Having said that, I would like to say that serious
writing has to be handled in a responsible manner and creating
controversy for the sake of controversy is not right.
Do you write to
fill up some vacuum or a void or to unearth those lost facts or
is writing a getting away from files and figures?
My writing is like
a fountain erupting ó thoughts often flow so fast and in such
profusion that my pen can scarcely keep pace. If I did not write
I would feel incomplete and unfulfilled. If there was a void it
doesnít exist now.
The lives of most
writers are rather turbulent, because their minds donít really
follow the conventional path.
No, so far I have
led a very placid and settled life. Iím not rebellious or
frivolous by nature.
At some point down
the line do you see yourself quitting your job to pursue a
full-time writing career?
I have been
anxiously waiting for an international break. The day I get it I
will bow out of government service and take up a full-time