The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, July 20, 2003

When it’s foreign policy, ‘change’ is the key
V. P. Malik
Crossing the Rubicon: India's Foreign Policy Transformation
by C. Raja Mohan. Penguin, New Delhi. Pages 321. Rs 450.
IN a recent talk, Mr Brajesh Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and India’s National Security Adviser, enumerated his four principles for pursuing India’s foreign relations and national security. These are: (a) know the ground realities, (b) there is no place for sentiments, (c) the only interest is national interest, and (c) never hesitate in engaging anyone.

Exotica from the Orient that jells
Cookie Maini

Brick Lane
by Monica Ali. Doubleday, London.
Pages 413. Rs 495.

ERE comes one more curative dose for the occidentals afflicted with orientalism. The sun-baked fields, the shimmering tropical seas lined with palm fronds or the teeming masses jostling with chaotic traffic are a marvellous diversion for the inhabitants of colder climes, a dull and grey yet streamlined and sanitised landscape. It is in this genre of exotica from the orient that Brick Lane fits in.

Studying place of women in Sikhism
Belu J. Maheshwari

Relocating Gender in Sikh History: Transformation, Meaning and Identity
by Doris R Jakobsh. Oxford University Press. Pages 296. Rs 625.

HE place of gender in religion has come in for a lot of academic research and discussion, especially with reference to Sikhism. As Sikhism represents an attempt to break free from the shackles of orthodoxy, caste, class and gender divides, it becomes imperative to examine the social history of Punjab before the advent of Guru Nanak and take cognisance of the changes that his philosophy brought about.


Ambition, lust and fudged scientific data
Kamaldeep K. Toor
Of Moths and Men
by Judith Hooper. 4th Estate, London. Pages 377. 'A3 8.99

UDITH Hooper makes it clear at the very beginning that lepidopterists are boring and that one cannot empathise with them unless one shares their interests, but she weaves such a fascinating story about their personal and professional lives that it leaves even the layman besotted. Of Moths and Men is an account of the deceit and fraud in scientific treatises, of how personal agony like a troubled childhood or illness and complexes influence scientific data.

Healing wounds of violence
Padam Ahlawat

Healing Streams
by Sushobha Barve. Penguin,
New Delhi. Pages 240. Rs 295.

HIS is a work of non-fiction based on the aftermath of riots and an effort to heal the wounds of violence. The author witnessed the orgy of violence against Sikhs in 1984 while on a train from Mumbai to Barabanki. That event was the most frightening for her, which transformed her whole life. Sharing her second-class compartment were two Sikhs, taking back goods for their shops in Kanpur. In essence, the book is their story.

A saga of self-disclosures
Arun Gaur

Unforgiving Heights
by Betsey Barnes
Penguin, New Delhi. Pages 371. Rs 350.

NE may call this novel a tragi-comedy of disclosures, but only tentatively, since the tenor of the novel does not permit such a formulation. The elements of tragedy that are present here are too posed, self-chosen and, therefore, too fine to be depressive, or even purgative. And comicality is to be inferred only as it does not break through the surface until the orgy of the final act.

From Shahjahanabad to Old Delhi
Pankaj K. Jha

Shahjahanabad/Old Delhi: Tradition and Colonial Change.
edited by Eckart Ehlers & Thomas Craft. Manohar, Delhi. Pages 134. Rs 600.

T is a measure of the sweeping ways in which history reconstitutes memory that few know even in Delhi today that Shahjahanabad was the name by which the Mughal walled city of now Old Delhi, stretching from the Red Fort in the east to Turkman Gate in the west and Daryaganj in the south to Kashmiri gate in the north, was known.

High on rhetoric, low on logic
Harbans Singh

Blueprint of Political Reforms
by Subhash C. Kashyap. Shipra Publications, Delhi. Pages 316. Rs 550.

HIS book is the result of a Ford Foundation-funded research project undertaken by the Centre for Policy Research (CPR). The feedback and suggestions, which form the core of the book, came from workshops, seminars and conferences conducted by the CPR in various parts of the country and they were "concrete and actionable suggestions."

Waxing lyrical on the Prime Minister
Randeep Wadehra

A Man With Lamp: A.B. Vajpayee
by P. Rathnaswamy. Bookwell, New Delhi. Pages 133. Rs 225.

VER the last few years Vajpayee’s public image has undergone a metamorphosis. As long as his party was in the opposition he was known as a politician-poet with a penchant for oratory characterised by dramatic pauses and little else. He first displayed statesman-like traits as India’s foreign affairs minister in Morarji Desai’s government.

When God talks
Shalini Rawat

God on God
by Scott Macgregor. Penguin, New Delhi.
Pages 186. Rs 195.

LOUDS, pearly gates, winged angels and the staple ‘bright white light’ images usually sum up what most of us think of life after death. But still most of us wonder what really happens after death. This quizzing about the end-of-the-road scenario is probably what prompted the author to choose the format of the book.

Titbits on India
Harpreet Kaur

Indian Geographical Facts
by S M Mathur. Rupa, New Delhi.
Pages 139. Rs 150

S essential book of knowledge, this is a unique information bank for those who want to know India. This is a book of reference that deals with both the physical and human geography of the subcontinent. Mathur covers a wide array of topics on which information is not easily available, and he aims to provide a non-technical account of certain aspects of India, thereby developing an understanding of different geographical features and entities that interest today’s readers.