Short Takes

Elders, empires and education
Reviewed by Randeep Wadehra

Perceptions and Problem of Elderly in Old Age Homes
by Gurjeet Virk Sidhu
Arun Publishing House. Pages: 184. Rs. 316

The aged in India have seldom been on the radar of our researchers and policy makers. Little has been done to understand their problems, let alone arrive at solutions. For long, the argument has been that in our society the aged are well looked after by their respective family members and hence are not a part of the social problem. This myth stands debunked now. The old familial and social structures have more or less disintegrated. With frenetic transformation in the country’s socio-economic and demographic profiles the traditional joint family has been replaced with the nuclear one – and single-parent family becoming more conspicuous. This leaves the old people extremely vulnerable to economic hardships and other deprivations. Sidhu says that by 2030 the elderly population in the world would be about 1.4 billion, of which a significant number would be in India – in 2001 it was 29 million and growing. Obviously, there is a need for the government to formulate a structured approach towards institutionalising care for this section of the population that has already contributed its share to the nation’s progress and now needs to be provided with dignified existence in its twilight years.

Apart from providing us with illuminating statistics regarding the plight of the aged, Sidhu has given thought-provoking case studies. This book is a must for our policy makers and think-tank.

Brick by Red brick
by T.T. Ram Mohan
Rupa & Co. Pages: xiv+281. Rs. 495

After India gained independence, building of educational institutions became a top priority because the educational system bequeathed to India by the British was good enough only to churn out clerks. India needed a system that would groom leaders in different walks of life. Therefore, setting up of centres of excellence acquired urgency. But persons of calibre and vision were needed to head them. Luckily, India had its share of such personalities.

This book narrates the story of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad – arguably the most prestigious institution of its kind in the country and among the best in the world. It focuses on the pioneering work done by Ravi Matthai, to whom goes the credit for making IIM-A what it is today. He was entrusted with the job by Vikram Sarabhai, Kamla Chowdhry, Kasturbhai Lalbhai and Prakash Tandon. The Ford Foundation, the Harvard Business School and the MIT, too, were actively involved in varying capacities. While underscoring Matthai’s commitment to turning IIM-A into a world- class institute, the narrative provides an account of various events and personalities associated with giving it its present stature – an autonomous centre of excellence. This tome must be on your bookshelf.

The Princely State of Jind Revisited
by Rajeev Jindal
Gulab Publications. Pages: 134. Rs. 500

After Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, turmoil hit the Mughal Empire. In Jind, Jats, Rajputs, Ranghars and Ahir chiefs stopped paying taxes/tributes to the Delhi Durbar. `A0Gajpat Singh, a great grandson of Phul, the founder of the Phulkian Misl, one of the 12 confederacies of the Sikhs in the 18th century, took advantage of the above situation and joined in the attack of the Sikhs on the province of Sirhind in 1763 in which Zain Khan, the Afghan governor of the province, was killed. Gajpat Singh occupied a large tract of land comprising Jind and Safidon as his share of the spoils. He made Jind his headquarters and built a large brick fort there. Thus was formed the princely state of Jind. This book dwells in detail upon the history of the princely state, its various rulers from medieval to modern times. However, it requires diligent and expert proofreading and editing.