Sunday, June 20, 2004


New light on old problem
Shastri Ramachandaran
Maoist Insurgency in Nepal. The Challenge and the Response
by S D Muni. Rupa & Co in association with Observer Research Foundation.
Pages 134. Rs 195.

T
his
tract is more than a useful addition to the clutch of books on the subject. It breaks new ground in one more than one respect. The author does not conceal his sympathy for the Maoists and makes a strong case, howsoever debatable, for talking to them not only to end the unremitting spiral of violence that has besieged the Himalayan kingdom for over seven years but also to draw them in to legitimate politics.

Books received: Hindi

A playful reinvention
Shelley Walia

Marx in Soho
by Howard Zinn.
South End Press, Cambridge, MA, USA. 
Pages 77. $ 12.

I
t
is the second coming. If Christ could not make it, Marx has, and he is back in Soho, not of London, but of New York. The spectre of Marx haunts us again in the play by historian/activist Howard Zinn. Marx is resurrected so that he can speak to the contemporary audience in Soho, urging them "to get off their asses" and remember that to be radical is to "simply grasp the root of the problem and the problem is us."

Petri-dish terrorism
Jayanti Roy

Bio-Weapons: The Genie in the Bottle
by Ajey Lele.
Lancer Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi.
Pages 190. Rs 595.

T
he
threat of using biological organisms to cause casualties to the enemy or bio warfare burst upon the world as a terrorising reality with the anthrax attacks in the US immediately after 9/11. A whole series of anthrax events shockingly highlighted the unpreparedness of the most advanced country in the world in curbing a bio-weapon attack and the 1ack of know1edge of the general masses about bio-terrorism. It can be due to the fact that the bio-defence programme has always been dominated by the nuclear and chemical defence projects.

Bittersweet hope for secularism
G.S. Cheema
Will Secular India Survive?
edited by Mushirul Hasan.
ImprintOne, Gurgaon. Pages 399.

T
his
book was received shortly before the recent parliamentary elections. The timing of its publication and its provocative title seemed to have the then forthcoming polls in view, hence the reviewer decided to await the results. Against all expectations, the BJP and its allies lost, and secular India appears to have survived, at least for the time being.

Eternal truth for a new age
B. S. Thaur
Sayings of Guru Nanak
by Harnam Singh Shan. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar.
Pages 636. Rs 701.

W
ho
would not, with a pulsating pen and a bit of religious awakening, like to write or say something about the bani of Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion. Already much has been written on the subject and it will be an ongoing exercise for scholars and writers to explore this "Infinite".

Peep into urban life
Kamaldeep Kaur Toor

The Matchbox
by Ashapurna Debi. Translated by Monabi Mitra.
Rupa and Co. New Delhi.
Pages 147. Rs 195.

T
his
compilation of short stories delineates the stark reality of urban lower middle class families whose life is made up of one deprivation after another. The author describes their pitiable lives shorn of any contentment, unable to cope with the daily life, which is a constant struggle against insurmountable odds.

Punjabi review
Verses for the beloved
Shalini Rawat
Mehakde Pal
by Sukhdev Singh Grewal. Chetna Prakashan.
Pages 104. Rs 100.

"If ghazals burst forth from turbulent hearts/ knowing Persian is not a must.." Writing ghazals in Punjabi can, indeed, be a daunting task, as there seem to be more writers than readers for the genre in this tongue. Sukhdev Singh Grewal, however, is convinced that he has found his Muse.

Feast for an emperor
Samra Rahman
Nuskha-e-Shahjahani: Pulaos from the Royal Kitchen of Shah Jahan translated by Salma Husain.
Rupa & Co., New Delhi.
Pages 71. Rs 395.

P
ulaos
have a long and fascinating history. In Ain-e-Akbari (1602), there is a mention of Keema Pulao. That there was also a bewildering variety of pulaos is evident from the writings of British traveller Sir Thomas Herbert. He wrote in 1638: "The feast begins; it was compounded of a hundred sorts of pelo.

  • Short takes
    Optimum output
    Randeep Wadehra

    Performance Management and Appraisal Systems
    by TV Rao. Response Books, N. Delhi. Pages 330. Rs 350.

  • Corporate wars
    Strategic Management
    by Biswanath Ghosh. Sterling. Pages 423. Rs 190.

  • Do it now
    The On-time On-target Manager
    by Ken Blanchard & Steve Gottry. HarperCollins.
    Pages 126. Rs 125.

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