Short Takes
Anna and adventures
Reviewed by Randeep Wadehra

Anna Hazare: the new revolutionary 
by Prateeksha M. Tiwari
Diamond Books. Pages: 135. Rs. 95

He is an extraordinary person — honest, upright, fearless, and, above all, a selfless giver. He is a social activist who has decided to take on various vested interests by applying Gandhian methods of protest. That he has successfully taken on the governments in Maharashtra and the Centre is a tribute to his unwavering courage of conviction. What harm can anyone do to a person who gives away his land, property and pension for the good of the society? This message reached home, rather belatedly, to the powers that be.

This book is perhaps the quickest of the quickies that I have reviewed over the years. Yet, it gives a comprehensive picture of the man and the sociopolitical environment wherein trillion-rupee scams have become commonplace. Dauntlessly Anna, whose total possessions are worth only a few thousand rupees, is struggling for the betterment of his countrymen. Tiwari also provides pen portraits of Anna’s associates like Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, Justice Santosh Hegde and the Shanti-Prashant duo, etc. We also get to know of his environmental conservation work in his village, as well as of his philosophy. But to call him a revolutionary is, perhaps, unfair to him because the term "revolution" has violent connotations, like overthrowing of governments and causing upheavals in society. He is more of an "evolutionary" — if I may be permitted to use the term here — who patiently works for change in the society through negotiations and satyagraha by placing moral posers to the government(s) of the day. If Mahatma Gandhi were alive today he would have been proud of Anna.

For having an idea of the man, his mission as well as methods this book is a great help.

Jack Patel’s Dubai Dreams
by P. G. Bhaskar
Penguin Books. Pages: 233. Rs. 150

After completing his studies Jaikishan Patel refuses to join his family business at Chennai and signs up with a firm in Mumbai. Just when his life appeared to be stagnating, commuting in the local trains from the suburbs to the megalopolis, he gets an offer from an American finance company to join its Dubai office as Financial Advisor. Things go like a dream for him. His career takes off and soon he is minting money through commissions and incentives from his firm, thanks to the multimillion investment deals he is able to swing across the countries ranging from Kenya and Uganda to various Emirates; he acquires a new name, Jack. Then comes the Lehmann-induced Great American Meltdown; prosperous investment portfolios worth millions plummet below even their book/face values. He loses his job, gets abused by the very clients who used to fawn on him. But, there is a happy ending.

This book is a good light read if you consider the fact that the author has relied solely upon his sense of humour and has not even attempted to build upon the various dramatic elements that exist in this novel which could have given us a classic, maybe not another Moneychangers but something close. Que ser`E1 ser`E1!

The Last Post
by K. J. S. Chatrath
Pages: 148. Price: not mentioned

The first French expedition to India is believed to have taken place in the first half of the 16th century when two ships were fitted out by some merchants to trade in eastern seas; in 1642 La Compagnie Fran`E7aise des Indes Orientales (French East India Company) was formed. The Company’s first factory was set up in Surat in 1668. Although it tried to outsmart the British France remained a peripheral power in the subcontinent.

This book provides details of various French cemeteries in India — along with interesting photographs; could be useful as a resource for research scholars.