Songs of freedom
Reviewed by M. Rajivlochan
1857: The Oral
By Pankaj Rag.
Rupa. Pages 212. Rs 395.
book adds an important facet to the studies on the revolt of 1857.
Pankaj Rag collects various folk renditions of the memories of 1857
and gives us a unique picture of how the people of Awadh and central
India felt about the events of 1857. Towards this end, he
painstakingly collects folk songs to weave a poetic tapestry much akin
to that of another famous one found in Bayeux. His effort has been to
bring together a large body of hitherto ignored literature that has
documented the local traditions of central India, match it with the
archival reconstruction of the times and place before us the soul, as
it were, of the people.
Varied and incisive reportage
Reviewed by Aradhika Sharma
By Adam Clapham.
Rupa. Pages 272. Rs 295.
documentary-maker can never be off-duty in India because there are too
many stories waiting to be told." Adam Clapham made documentaries
for the BBC at a time when the BBC was the voice of truth and
veracity. When Indian people would listen to the BBC, rather than the
local stations, to get the true and unbiased picture of things that
were happening in India. As Sir Mark Tully says in his foreword to the
book, it was a time when, "a foreign broadcaster became more
important than a domestic broadcaster with far more powerful signals
and more extensive coverage". Clapham is the producer of classics
like, Human Bomb (1998), Good King Wenceslas (1994) and Doomsday
Gun (1994). He was also the first foreign journalist to have
interviewed Rajiv Gandhi after he became Prime Minister.
What it means to be Indian
Reviewed by Pankaj K. Singh
Sons of Babur: A Play in
Search of India
By Salman Khurshid.
Rupa. Pages xx + 121. Rs 295.
A debut play by a Union Minister
and dedicated to Congress president Sonia Gandhi may make one approach
it with a bit of scepticism. But as one reads on, one finds it a
serious engagement with several pressing contemporary issues, with
some very gripping scenes. Emerging from some unfortunate happenings
in the last nearly two decades, including Ayodhaya and Gujarat, and
from his own experiences of dealing with complex questions of
identity, communalism and a composite culture, Salman Khurshid’s
play takes a fresh look at the idea of India or Indian identity.
Translating the pejorative "Babur ki Aulad", used by those
stressing an exclusive notion of Indian culture or identity into the
positive "Sons of Babur", the play deals with the role of
the Mughal Empire in the development of the modern idea of India.
Reviewed by Jayanti
Life Competencies for Adolescents: Training Manual for
Facilitators, Teachers and Parents
By Devendra Agochiya.
Sage. Pages 351. Rs 495.
THE aspect of bringing up children is
one of the most neglected parts in our society. It is assumed that
persons who become parents or teachers will also automatically know
everything about how to bring up children in the best possible way so
as to make them useful members of society, competent in life skills
and ready to take up challenges. However, this assumption is costing
us dear as the number of "not at peace with themselves or the
world"—adolescents—is on the rise and it is needless to
mention that an ill-adjusted youth will not grow into a mature and
The Blind Side of the Heart
By Julia Franck.
Trans. Anthea Bell. Vintage.
Pages 432. £7.99.
JULIA Franck’s novel opens with
an unforgettable sequence. Amid the chaos of the German withdrawal
from Stettin in 1945, Peter, a seven-year-old boy, clings to his
mother, Helene, while they are carried along by the crowd at the
railway station. She sits him down on the platform with a reassuring
smile —and then abandons him.
Improving the quality of governance
Reviewed by V. Eshwar Anand
World-Class Civil Service For Twenty-First Century India
By S.K. Das
Oxford University Press.
Pages 269. Rs 675
the years, people’s perception of the Indian Administrative Service
(IAS) officers has been such that they do not speak of civil servants
or administrators but of bureaucrats. The late L.K. Jha, an able
administrator, once said in a lighter vein that "the bureaucrat’s
public image is of a creature who sits on files, sleeps over
reminders, turns a deaf ear to complaints, cannot see beyond the tip
of his nose, smells a rat in every proposal and, at times, eats his
Zafri Mudasser Nofil
WSJ journalist S. Mitra Kalita reconciles many faces of the country in her new book
had been tinkering for years with a book on the Indian economy and
struggled with how to tell it and now S. Mitra Kalita’s My Two
Indias lucidly reconciles the many faces of India — separate,
unequal, inextricably and dependent. "I approached it
(the book) as narrative non-fiction, where our journey is shared and
contextualised with the reader. I often take a step back to more
critically examine anecdotes and offer research and statistic to keep
Eatables have a story to tell, as Ratna Rajaiah explores in
How the Banana Goes to Heaven
was once a good word. It symbolised fulfilment, nutrition and
well-being. But when did it all change? When did we become such
guilt-ridden unhappy eaters? Food writer Ratna Rajaiah explores many
such questions in her new book, How the Banana Goes to Heaven. "As
our cells are nourished and replenished, rejuvenated, our noses should
exult in the embrace of a hundred aromas. Our taste buds should laugh
joyously at being tickled by all the six tastes," Rajaiah says.
Back of the book
Rock retelling to racy thrillers
By Jeff Abbott
Hachette. Pages 499. Rs 295
Sam Capra is living the
life of his dreams. A young American in London, he has a perfect flat,
a perfect job with the CIA and a perfect wife, Lucy --- who is seven
months pregnant with their first child. But one sunny day, it
all goes up in flames. Sam receives a call from Lucy while he’s at
work. She tells him to leave the building immediately, which he does
— just before it explodes, killing those inside. Lucy vanishes, and
Sam wakes up in a prison cell.
& Roll Jihad
By Salman Ahmad
Jaico. Pages 226. Rs 395
Noah’s Ark Quest
By Boyd Morrison
Hachette. Pages 565. Rs 295.
The House with Five
Govind Mishra translated by
Penguin. Pages 269. Rs 299.