Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

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Vikram Rathore
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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Vikram Rathore » 25 Feb 2011 09:25

Found an interesting read on the Amazon Kindle page. A thriller called Line of Control that seems to be based on an India-Pak war and had some rave reviews from the likes of Jasjeet Singh and Gen V.K. Sharma (COAS, Retd) and at $2.99 (the best part of the Kindle store for me)- was an easy decision to try. Sharing the blurb and some of the reviews below. Have just downloaded it on my Kindle and will post a review as soon as I'm done.

It is 2012, and the world is a more dangerous place than ever before. Revolutions have swept aside one Middle Eastern regime after another. A regime allied to Al Qaeda has swept to power in Saudi Arabia, and uses its oil wealth and modern arsenal to further spread Jihad around the world. Yet another military coup brings a fundamentalist regime to power in Pakistan, which initiates an audacious plan to strike the first blow in this new global Jihad. As unprecedented terror attacks stun India, the stage is set for a conflict that brings the Indian subcontinent to the brink of a nuclear apocalypse.

With a broad cast of characters that puts the reader into the thick of the unfolding crisis, a fast-paced storyline ripped from today's headlines, and explosive action, Line of Control is a thriller uniquely suited to the times we live in.

Praise for the Indian paperback edition:

"An outstanding book. Better than Tom Clancy any day. I wish I had/could have written such a book." - Air Commodore Jasjeet Singh (Retd.) Director, Institute for Air Power Studies

"Captures very well the cut and thrust of combat. A thrilling read."
- General V.N Sharma (Retd.) Former Chief of Army Staff, India

"Dhar brings us a scenario that seems possible yet apocalyptic."
- The Hindustan Times

"Other than being a great plot, the author seems know how weapons work, which is a great relief to the readers and spices up the novel." - Frontier India

"The characters seem real, with abundant mention of various historical characters and national heroes. Dhar has done equal justice to characters from both sides of the border. By placing readers in the thick of action, similar to the circumstances that we find ourselves in today, Dhar has actually managed to find a connect that cannot be missed easily." - HT City

"A page-turner right the word 'go', Line of... is also very timely. With utter chaos all around and many internal battles fought in the name of religion, Line of ... couldn't have been timed better. This racy war-thriller is exciting, to say the least, as the reader is drawn deep into the action of war. Mainak Dhar's characterization deserves a special mention too, as each character, be it the Pakistani or Indian, is sketched in detail, complete with their eccentricities and ordinariness." - Deccan Herald

"The spine-chilling war scenario entertains, by all means, with skilful plot, well-drawn variety of characters, thrilling action, a high degree of intrigue, suspense and tension, grim humour...There is no gainsaying the fact that in the wake of recent Mumbai terror strikes, "the war thriller", delineating serious and topical concerns - fundamentalism fuelling terrorism, burgeoning instability in Pakistan, reaction of other countries to the chronic and mounting tension between India and Pakistan - will attract much wider readership." - The Tribune

The link to the details:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004P1J0Y2

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby abhishek_sharma » 25 Feb 2011 10:48

Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power (Video)

http://booktv.org/Watch/12050/Monsoon+The+Indian+Ocean+and+the+Future+of+American+Power.aspx

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby svinayak » 25 Feb 2011 22:01

abhishek_sharma wrote:Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power (Video)

http://booktv.org/Watch/12050/Monsoon+The+Indian+Ocean+and+the+Future+of+American+Power.aspx

Thanks for the post.
Lot of point not correct in the authors statement

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby JE Menon » 26 Feb 2011 17:26

Isn't Mainak Dhar the son of former IB Joint Director Maloy Krishna Dhar?

I think he is, but maybe someone can confirm it.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Vikram Rathore » 26 Feb 2011 20:37

JE Menon,

I think he is...saw his site from Amazon- at www.mainakdhar.com. Seems to be a pretty prolific writer. For my review of Line of Control:

As a long time lurker (being a member since 1999 or so) and occasional contributor to BR, and with a lifetime passion for the military, I always hungered for an honest to goodness technothriller from an Indian writer, writing with an Indian perspective, not a Tom Clancy or Dale Brown, whose work will always be US centric. Line of Control hits the spot! It is very topical and timely- building off another military coup in Pakistan and the chaos it unleashes. What I found most enjoyable was the well researched and detailed military engagements and technology- and the simple fact that the central characters and setting were from an Indian perspective, not a Westerner writing about India. The author does bring in sympathetic characters from both sides, but it's very clear where his heart is- and for an Indian reader, that's a refreshing change- compared to the likes of Tom Clancy, who in books like Fighter Wing and others, somehow portrays India and Indians as being on the `wrong' side. The action is very well paced, my favourites being the experiences of a Su-30MKI pilot and of an infantry platoon holed up in Uri. Any criticisms? Well, to be honest, the kind of canvas the book paints makes it hard to believe that the US would not be more involved, and the lack of Chinese opportunism to take advantage of the situation is conveniently disposed of with a fictional spat with Taiwan but on the whole, Well worth a read for any jingo.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby JE Menon » 26 Feb 2011 23:41

OK based on that take, it goes into my Amazon cart... Thanks.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby abhishek_sharma » 02 Mar 2011 11:28

Osama Bin Laden: Michael Scheuer (Video)

http://www.booktv.org/Watch/12240/Osama+Bin+Laden.aspx

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Anujan » 04 Mar 2011 12:51

Acquired a new kindle and to test it out, purchased "Lightning Bolts" by William Yengst about Maneuvering re-entry vehicles. It has a section on India's capabilities as well. I will do this review in 3 parts (the last part also containing my impressions about reading books on the Kindle). This is a book review cum summary.

This book is written by an engineer. Someone who was intimately involved with the development of Maneuvering re-entry vehicles in the US. The tone of the book is that of an engineer who warmly recollects his days spent with other engineers. He goes into great (but accessible) detail about Missile warheads and the difficulty they faced in designing Maneuvering re-entry vehicles. What a revelation! The engineering complexity of Maneuvering re-entry vehicles is enormous! India should truly be proud of having mastered this technology.

The story starts with the Germans, who decided that they needed a missile which could reach the USA. Two competing designs were proposed (A-10 and A-9). A missile with larger motors and a missile which would boost a glide vehicle which would then achieve range through gliding. The author says:

German artillery scientists had observed early in the war that mountain-top launches of high-fineness (long and slender) projectiles traveled much faster and further than would be predicted by classical ballistic theory. This led to tests of hypersonic lift and drag of the projectiles, because of their troublesome tendency to fly, which created a major problem in predicting
artillery impact accuracy. Consequently, the Alpha Draco concept of a high lift-to-drag, spinning projectile was identified as a candidate for the A-9 reentry vehicle.


As fate would have it. Germany lost the war and its scientists were captured. Russians got the A-10 scientists (and went on to build larger and larger rocket motors) whereas US caught the A-9 scientists and went the boost-glide way. Initial "dumb" RV design by the US had large errors. This was because of trajectory errors due to: diurnal (day-to-night) variation that an RV experiences as it passes from the dark-to-light side of the earth, winds at extreme altitudes and small discrepancies in ablative shields causing imbalances in the RV, variation in the gravity field of the earth. So much so that every Minuteman Silo was surveyed carefully to estabilish their precise location and their gravity fields so that the Gyros could be set properly. :shock: To correct for all these, 2 programs were initiated MBRV (Maneuvering Ballistic re-entry vehicle) and BGRV (Boost-glide RV). In author's own words:

MBRV was intended to be an evasion vehicle that during reentry could `out duel' enemy interceptor missiles by performing "jinking maneuvers" (i.e., abrupt turns or changes in direction within the atmosphere) to "fake" interceptors out of position and thereby, prevent engagement. Abrupt turns could require MBRV to experience very high accelerations [e.g., l00 times the pull of gravity (g)] {It is to be noted that the kinetic energy of a re-entering vehicle is far in excess of any ABM that can be fired at it, so it can make higher G turns to out-duel interceptors.}....By contrast, BGRV was intended to be an efficient glide vehicle to fly long ranges (i.e., avoiding enemy defenses by flying around, past, or under their coverage) and requiring relatively low accelerations (e.g., 10-20 g) but resulting in large radius turns.


Going into how BGRV would work {Anyone recall how Shaurya "Spins to evenly distribute temperature" ?}

After being boosted onto its glide trajectory at an altitude of 120,000 feet and speed in excess of Mach 18, four small and base-mounted gas jets would spin the vehicle and establish its initial few-degree angle of attack to offset gravity. BGRV would roll continuously (few revolutions per minute) to maintain even heating of the nose and airframe throughout its 45 minute flight. Vehicle control was accomplished with io interleaved and hinged flare panels (each panel about 6.25 inches wide at the hinge, 2.25 inches wide spacer, and 18 inches long). I recall the hydraulic actuators powered the panels like segments of an umbrella. As the vehicle rolled, the flare undulated in and out to maintain its angle of attack or change attitude when a programmed trajectory turn was required.


Then the author goes into the design of RVs. RVs can either be blunt (Low Ballistic coefficient) whereby they will get considerably slowed down at the upper atmosphere and travel at subsonic speeds in the lower atmosphere. So passive heat sinks are enough to keep them cool. On the other hand "sharp" nosed high Ballistic coefficient vehicles travel at hypersonic speeds at the lower atmosphere and require complex cooling/shielding. MBRV necessarily had to have high kinetic energy to achieve maneuvering and to defeat ABMs. However, the greatest challenge faced by his team was vibration:

One RV had radio-transmitted the signal from an acoustic sensor during reentry and when played, it sounded like a freight train :shock: ...Vibration was to become our greatest single engineering challenge during the program...The computer Random Access Memory (RAM) and integrated circuits, supplied to Univac by Westinghouse (Pittsburgh), broke into particles under the intense random noise pounding it had to endure for a half minute.


Coming back to MBRV, to test it out {Anyone recall APJ saying Prithvi warhead could follow 6 different trajectories which could be controlled by software}

Four trajectories were formulated: (1) mild pull-out or range extension from a ballistic path, (2) longer pullout range extension followed by a dive to target, (3) significant cross-range maneuver, and (4) maximum 8o-g dive short of the ballistic aimpoint...Depending on flight range (i.e., reentry velocity and angle conditions), MBRV would have sufficient kinetic energy and aerodynamic lift to fly roughly 250-300 mi. downrange and over 150 mi. crossrange in either direction from its ballistic aimpoint. This led to a heart-shaped footprint capability


But doing so is not easy. Each flap in the MBRV would experience nearly 60,000 pounds of force and to actuate these flaps, GE Locomotive Division had developed hydraulic actuators of that capability for use on diesel railroad engines. :shock: And after overcoming all these challenges when they were about to test, they found 4 soviet trawlers waiting near the impact point. :mrgreen:

As an ending note: For all the TFTA-ness of Amreekis, just before the launch:

Dr. Krause's face turned ashen, then red with anger. "Why had we allowed the vehicle to be painted?" The paint would burn off during reentry and chemically destroy the vehicle's optical and radar signatures. This would cause increased plasma and was totally counter to ABRES program goals of suppressing all signatures. We had no option but to take the vehicle down and back to its hangar. GE managed to acquire crushed walnut shells and preceded to "nut-shell blast" all the paint off. :D

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 05 Mar 2011 21:57

Kyriaki Kosmidou, Michael Doumpos, Constantin Zopounidis , "Country Risk Evaluation: Methods and Applications"
Sp..ger | 2008 | ISBN: 0387766790 | 120 pages


Financial globalization has increased the significance of methods used in the evaluation of country risk, one of the major research topics in economics and finance. Written by experts in the fields of multi criteria methodology, credit risk assessment, operations research, and financial management, this book develops a comprehensive framework for evaluating models based on several classification techniques that emerge from different theoretical directions. This book compares different statistical and data mining techniques, noting the advantages of each method, and introduces new multicriteria methodologies that are important to country risk modeling.

Key topics include: (1) A review of country risk definitions and an overview of the most recent tools in country risk management, (2) In-depth analysis of statistical, econometric and non-parametric classification techniques, (3) Several real-world applications of the methodologies described throughout the text, (4) Future research directions for country risk assessment problems.

This work is a useful toolkit for economists, financial managers, bank managers, operations researchers, management scientists, and risk analysts. Moreover, the book can also be used as a supplementary text for graduate courses in finance and financial risk management.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 09 Mar 2011 07:56

Martin Jacques, "When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order"
Publisher: Allen Lane | ISBN 10: 0713992549 | 2009 | 576 pages |

For well over two hundred years we have lived in a western-made world, one where the very notion of being modern is inextricably bound up with being western. The twenty-first century will be different. The rise of China, India and the Asian tigers means that, for the first time, modernity will no longer be exclusively western. The west will be confronted with the fact that its systems, institutions and values are no longer the only ones on offer. The key idea of Martin Jacques's ground-breaking new book is that we are moving into an era of contested modernity.

The central player in this new world will be China. Continental in size and mentality, China is a 'civilisation-state' whose characteristics, attitudes and values long predate its existence as a nation-state. Although clearly influenced by the west, its extraordinary size and history mean that it will remain highly distinct, and as it exercises its rapidly growing power it will change much more than the world's geo-politics. The nation-state as we understand it will no longer be globally dominant, and the Westphalian state-system will be transformed; ideas of race will be redrawn. This profound and far-sighted book explains for the first time the deeper meaning of the rise of China.


Even if China is the center of this system, it has no core as China has no core. The good thing is the world will be more balanced in its views with superior ideas all down the drain of history.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby chackojoseph » 09 Mar 2011 09:01

Proliferation and Emerging Nuclear Order in The Twenty-First Century

Essentially it is a collection of papers presented at the Tenth Asian Security Conference in the IDSA in 2008, where, the then Pranab Mukherjee was the Chief Guest. Very readable and of much import for its opposing view points as well as the standard of analysis and dissection, it is bound to be a hit with the intelligentsia.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Rony » 10 Mar 2011 01:00

The Passion of the Greeks: Christianity and the Rape of the Hellenes

by Greek author Evaggelos G. Vallianatos

One of the reviews in Amazon

Vallianatos' book addresses a crime of the past that still affects us today, and whose rectification could facilitate a more humanistic future. He reveals the censored history of the conflict between Christianity and ancient Greek culture ("Jerusalem versus Athens") in late antiquity.Though the "conversion" of the Greeks is traditionally presented as peaceful and pious, in fact, it was a bloody and brutal conquest, where Christian monks (and even Goths) were funded by Christian Roman emperors in an attempt at forced assimilation of the Greeks into a Judaeacized Latin Empire. Per Vallianatos, the Greeks resisted Christianity for centuries. In the war against the Greeks, the Christians branded the Greeks as "pagans" and, in the guise of "fighting paganism," defaced or destroyed their temples, academies, sculptures and art, in sum, their culture. Vallianatos makes a convincing case that the "conversion" of the Greeks was, in fact, a conquest and despoliation no less than the later Turkish conquest.

Vallianatos contrasts Hellenic values with Christian values, art and government. The Greeks valued democracy, freedom, piety, and the struggle for the good, the brave, and the beautiful. In sum, they had an appreciation of and enthusiasm for life. Zeus is a good god. The Christians valued austerity, harshness, conformity, dogma, despotism, sin and hell, the exploitation of guilt and fear, intolerance, a hatred for Greek literature, philosophy, and art; a cult of death, with life only "after death." The Jewish/Christian god is a jealous god.

Per Vallianatos, Greece today is still colonized by medieval Christian thinking. Christianity is the state religion in Greece. The clergy is a bureaucratic class, maintained by the taxpayer, who resist the educational and archaeological restoration of ancient Greek culture. He concludes that Christianity must be detached from the government and the educational system, and that much of the Church's extensive landholdings should be confiscated to help finance an overdue Greek Renaissance, by restoring Hellenism to Greece.

There is much to commend in Vallianatos' innovative and controversial book. He is definitely a Greek nationalist with an overt ethnocentric bias. Yet, he challenges current leaders to re-learn the wisdom and tolerance of the ancient Greeks to help deliver us from the disastrous choices, based on monotheistic religious ideologies, that have led to the current crisis in the world today. By urging us to return to the rationalism and tolerance of the ancient Greeks in place of the superstition and intolerance of Christianity, I think Vallianatos has made a valuable contribution to the Science-versus-Religion issue so prominent today.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 19 Mar 2011 09:38

Andrew Muldoon - Empire, Politics and the Creation of the 1935 India Act
Publisher: Аshgate | 2009-08-28 | ISBN: 0754667057 | 290 pages |

The 1935 Government of India Act was arguably the most significant turning point in the history of the British administration in India. The intent of the Act, a proposal for an Indian federation, was the continuation of British control of India, and the deflection of the challenge to the Raj posed by Gandhi, Nehru and the nationalist movement. This book seeks to understand why British administrators and politicians believed that such a strategy would work and what exactly underpinned their reasons. It is argued that British efforts to defuse and disrupt the activities of Indian nationalists in the inter war years were predicated on certain cultural beliefs about Indian political behavior and capacity. However, this was not simply a case of 'Orientalist' policy-making. Faced with a complicated political situation, a staggering amount of information and a constant need to produce analysis, the officers of the Raj imposed their own cultural expectations upon events and evidence to render them comprehensible. Indians themselves played an often overlooked role in the formulation of this political intelligence, especially the relatively few Indians who maintained close ties to the colonial government such as T.B. Sapru and M.R. Jayakar. These men were not just mediators, as they have frequently been portrayed, but were in fact important tacticians whose activities further demonstrated the weaknesses of the colonial information economy. The author employs recently released archival material, including the Indian Political Intelligence records, to situate the 1935 Act in its multiple and overlapping contexts: internal British culture and politics; the imperial 'information order' in India; and the politics of Indian nationalism. This rich and nuanced study is essential reading for scholars working on British, Indian and imperial history.


Somnath & Bji,
I think you will glean more than a lot of us from this book.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 20 Mar 2011 21:56

Martin Lings - Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources

Publisher: Innеr Trаditions | 1987 | ISBN: 0892811706 | 359 pages |

In his smooth, narrative style, Martin Lings presents a biography of Muhammad, using sources from the eighth and ninth centuries, including some passages never before translated. Here are the words of the men and women who heard the Prophet speak. This is the first paperback edition of this important work, which sold 7,500 copies in the cloth edition. The Muslim population of the U.S. is on a strong growth curve. It is estimated that there are now between 4 and 7 million Muslims in the U.S.
A Reflection of Islamic Tradition
It would seem that Muhammad is gradually succumbing to the same fate as Jesus, in that each generation feels an urgent need to reinterpret him in light of their own understanding. Quite a few biographies of the prophet are already on the market, from such diverse writers as the military man John Glubb to the atheist Maxime Rodinson.
This one is different. As the title indicates, it is a life of Muhammad based on the earliest sources. The "sources" in question here are the sirat, or biographies of the prophet, which were written a couple of centuries after his death. These original biographies were compiled based on the traditions handed down regarding what the prophet did, much the same as the hadith are a transmission of what the prophet said. The contents of these biographies are canonical; their position in Islam is somewhat analogous to works of the fathers of the church in Christianity.
Which explains the air of piety about this book, which unfortunately may throw some readers off. What this book achieves, and achieves greatly in my opinion, is a reflection of how the Muslim world traditionally thinks of Muhammad. It does not attempt to break new ground or provide new interpretations of Muhammad's life and mission; rather it assists the Western reader in understanding the traditional interpretation of his life and mission. I would recommend this book highly to anyone interested in understanding Islamic belief and the position that Muhammad occupies in traditional Islamic values; I have come across no other book in English that conveys it as well as this one does.
The finest traditional biography available in English
Martin Lings, scholar of both English and Arabic, has gone back to the original Arabic sources for this biography. It is fortunate for English speaking readers because he has been able to translate the Arabic himself including some writings not previously translated into English. The man knows his stuff.
It is told in the form of a story that is nothing short of mesmerizing and there is an air that borders on myth that radiates through the book. This is not to say it is false; this is to say that there is a very high degree of reverence. Those unfamiliar with his life may not get this but at least the reader comes closer to understanding.
This is not your typical scholarly biography though it quite obviously does not lack the credentials. Extensive footnotes tracing the sources can be found throughout. What is also remarkable is the way the verse from the Qur'an are woven into the story. If you've read the Qur'an and are baffled by its non-linear structure, this will help immensely.
What is refreshing about this book is his life is presented for what it is. There is no apologetic, no 'modern' scholarship attemtping to dismantle and dissect the sources and no attempt to ease a Western audience through this material. The Prophet is revered for who he is and what you find here is the traditional Muslim view and reverence of his life. It is what it is. Anyone genuinely seeking to understand Muhammad and how he is viewed by those who follow Islam must start here.


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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 23 Mar 2011 01:26

AOA!!!


Mordechai A. Friedman, "India Traders of the Middle Ages: Documents from the Cairo Geniza "India Book""
Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers | ISBN 9004154728 | 2007 | 957 pages |

The India trade in Oriental spices, pharmaceutical, dyeing and other materials was the backbone of medieval economy, especially in the Islamic world. A unique source of documentation is now available in 11th-12th century Geniza letters, written in Judeo-Arabic (Middle Arabic in Hebrew characters), by participants in this activity. The documents are presented in translation with an introduction and notes. They deal with economic history and material, social, and spiritual civilization. Besides illuminating the activities of the traders of the Jewish Indian Ocean and their families in the territories from the Far East to southern Arabia and Egypt, the letters contain valuable information on Jewish and Islamic culture, relations between Jews and Arabs, Mediterranean culture, and Judeo-Arabic.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 23 Mar 2011 05:28

Four books:
1)
Merchants, Traders, Entrepreneurs: Indian Business in the Colonial Period
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan | pages: 320 | 2008 | ISBN: 0230205984 |

This book deals with three main aspects of the history of Indian business: The relationship between business and politics, the position of merchants and businessmen in the economy and society of late colonial India, and how particular merchant networks extended the range of their operations to the entire subcontinent and the wider world.




2)
Nicholas B. Dirks "The Scandal of Empire: India and the Creation of Imperial Britain"
Belknap Press | 2008-04-30 | ISBN: 0674027248 | 416 pages |

Many have told of the East India Company’s extraordinary excesses in eighteenth-century India, of the plunder that made its directors fabulously wealthy and able to buy British land and titles, but this is only a fraction of the story. When one of these men—Warren Hastings—was put on trial by Edmund Burke, it brought the Company’s exploits to the attention of the public. Through the trial and after, the British government transformed public understanding of the Company’s corrupt actions by creating an image of a vulnerable India that needed British assistance. Intrusive behavior was recast as a civilizing mission. In this fascinating, and devastating, account of the scandal that laid the foundation of the British Empire, Nicholas Dirks explains how this substitution of imperial authority for Company rule helped erase the dirty origins of empire and justify the British presence in India.

The Scandal of Empire reveals that the conquests and exploitations of the East India Company were critical to England’s development in the eighteenth century and beyond. We see how mercantile trade was inextricably linked with imperial venture and scandalous excess and how these three things provided the ideological basis for far-flung British expansion. In this powerfully written and trenchant critique, Dirks shows how the empire projected its own scandalous behavior onto India itself. By returning to the moment when the scandal of empire became acceptable we gain a new understanding of the modern culture of the colonizer and the colonized and the manifold implications for Britain, India, and the world.


3)

Mary E. Hancock, "The Politics of Heritage from Madras to Chennai"
Publisher: Indiana University Press | ISBN 0253352231 | 2008 | 296 pages |

In this anthropological history, Mary E. Hancock examines the politics of public memory in the southern Indian city of Chennai. Once a colonial port, Chennai is now poised to become a center for India's "new economy" of information technology, export processing, and back-office services. State and local governments promote tourism and a heritage-conscious cityscape to make Chennai a recognizable "brand" among investment and travel destinations. Using a range of textual, visual, architectural, and ethnographic sources, Hancock grapples with the question of how people in Chennai remember and represent their past, considering the political and economic contexts and implications of those memory practices. Working from specific sites, including a historic district created around an ancient Hindu temple, a living history museum, neo-traditional and vernacular architecture, and political memorials, Hancock examines the spatialization of memory under the conditions of neoliberalism.


4)
Claude Markovits "The GlTraders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama"obal World of Indian Merchants, 1750-1947: :roll:
Cambridge University Press | 2000-07-03 | ISBN: 0521622859 | 344 pages |

Claude Markovits' book charts the development of two merchant communities in the province of Sind from the precolonial period, through colonial conquest and up to independence. Based on previously neglected archival sources, it describes how the communities came to control trading networks throughout the world, throwing light on the nature of these diasporas from South Asia in their interaction with the global economy. This is a sophisticated and accessible book that will appeal to students of South Asia, as well as to colonial historians and economic historians.



Bji and others these are a treasure trove of information

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 26 Mar 2011 01:51

FRONTIERS WITHOUT MAPS


India-China Boundary Problem: 1846-1947 History and Diplomacy By A.G. Noorani, Oxford, Rs 795

“Boundary-marking is the task of a surveyor”, B.R. Ambedkar once wrote, “boundary-making is the task of a statesman.” After endless rounds of discussions by the earlier joint working groups and currently the two special representatives, India and China are no closer to a solution of the boundary disputes between them.

China has always argued that India lacks the political will to find a solution that the latter can sell to the Indian public. In recent years, Beijing too hardened its stand, not only on the western sector but also in the east, claiming the whole of Arunachal Pradesh to be a disputed territory.

The British found boundary-making between the two countries, especially in Aksai Chin, just as intractable. “Let the matter drift”, E.H.S. Clarke, assistant secretary in the foreign department in London, advised British officials in India in 1897. The issue remains adrift more than a century later.

After India’s independence, the problem became even more difficult to solve with New Delhi withdrawing or altering maps and suppressing or distorting facts about treaties. Beijing too complicated the scene with its occupation of Tibet and by signing a contentious boundary agreement with Pakistan.

A.G. Noorani has written extensively on the India-China border issues over the past four decades. Nationalistic prejudices never stopped him from telling the story as it unfolded during these years. He has been critical of Jawaharlal Nehru’s inconsistent policies on the boundary issue vis-à-vis Zhou Enlai’s and later Deng Xiaoping’s realistic offers for a package solution based on the Chinese perception of the “historical truth” and the “objective realities”. :roll:

This book, however, looks at the India-China boundary problem as a legacy of an earlier era when potential threats from imperial Russia, rather than the Manchu empire, influenced the frontier policy of the British Indian government. In fact, the British were once too eager to let China take control of the vast and barren wilderness of Aksai Chin as a buffer against a possible Russian advance towards India.

This historical backdrop helps one understand the nature and complexity of the boundary issues between India and China. Noorani shows how issues of history, law, diplomacy and politics combined to make the boundary problem a challenge in statecraft.

British attempts to define the India-China boundary had much to do with the Russian scare, but the author maintains that they were also born of a genuine concern for clarity about the frontiers. He cites Lord Curzon’s Romanes Lectures on Frontiers at Oxford to make his point about the intrinsic British policy of having clear, linear boundaries.

The beginning of the problem, he argues, dates back to 1846, when Britain added to its vast Indian empire the state of Jammu and Kashmir. As a result, when India became independent in 1947, it acquired a latent boundary dispute with China in the east — the McMahon Line — and a more complex one in the west. The book looks closely at the Indian Independence Act, 1947 and the Orders following from it to claim that the Act left many grey areas about India’s boundary with China and about the new republic’s international treaties.

Several of the treaties which are crucial to an understanding of the border issues are among the book’s twenty-two appendices. These, together with fourteen old maps, make it an invaluable addition to the ever-multiplying literature on the subject.

ASHIS CHAKRABARTI


I am always at a loss at AG Noorani's mindset. He seems to take a particlular inteirest to ensure Indian state is diminished.

He always praises everyone out side India and has special hate for Nehru. How can Britsh Policy be clear and intrinsic but when Nehru follows it its vague and bad?

What does he really want? Give up more land to China and throw in Kashmir to TSP?

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby svinayak » 26 Mar 2011 23:16

Is he secretly anti national.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 27 Mar 2011 05:11

Edwin Bryant, "The Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History"
Publisher: Routledge | ISBN 0700714634 | 2005 | 536 pages

The major questions considered in this book are these: Are the Indo-Aryans outsiders or insiders? Did they migrate into India from Central Asia, and if not, where did they originate? Even more crucially, what is at stake in these accounts of ancient history? What issues of South Asian identity are involved? Can those of Indo-Aryan descent claim indigenous status? To what extent are the accounts of colonial historians valid? What is the role and authority of Indian scholarship in the post-colonial period? The scope and purpose of this volume is not to resolve this debate, but to survey the field and to include major figures from differing points of view, from archaeology and philosophy as well as political and intellectual history.



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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 29 Mar 2011 00:17

Pioneer Book Review:

Indian shrinking

India shrinking

March 29, 2011 12:26:49 AM

Kumarajiva’s story is a reminder that the nation hasn't shrunk territorially in 1947 alone; the process has been going on since the past two millennia at least, writes BB Kumar

Kumarajiva: The Transcreator of Buddhist Chinese Diction
Author: Nirmala Sharma
Publisher: Niyogi
Price: Rs 2,000


The story of Kumarajiva is important to understand two things we Indians, pretentiously aping to be ‘liberals’, prefer to ignore. One, India hasn’t shrunk territorially in 1947 alone; the process has been going on uninterruptedly since the past two millennia at least. Two, historically, India never had problems with Buddhist/Confucius China. It had — and continues to have — problems with communist China; remove this perverse ideology, and India and China are bhai-bhai. Herein lies the importance of Nirmala Sharma’s Kumarajiva: The Transcreator of Buddhist Chinese Diction, which not only talks about the Buddhist scholar’s religious activities, but also highlights his translation — or transcreation — works.

Kumarajiva’s life shows that 2,000 years ago, the cultural India wasn’t confined to the Himalayas. In fact, it flourished to the north of the Himalayas as it prospered within India.

So, who was Kumarajiva? Son of Kashmiri father Kumarayana and Kuchean mother Jiva, Kumarajiva was a great transcreator of the Buddhist Chinese diction. He developed a new translation methodology. Of course, the translation of Sanskrit texts into Chinese was a joint enterprise. Among the translators of Buddhist Sanskrit literature in Chinese, six or seven were Chinese, six Indians, and 16 Central Asians.

Kucha, from where Kumarajiva’s mother came, in northern Tarim basin, exists in the present-day Xinjiang/Chinese Turkistan and was a centre of Buddhist learning. Such was the importance of Kucha that it was from here that Indian music had spread to China. The place also excelled in painting and dance. Hundreds of Sanskrit manuscripts, murals and scrolls have been discovered from Kucha and elsewhere in Tarim valley. Here, it needs to be mentioned that Yarkand and Khotan in northern Tarim valley were centres of Mahayana Buddhism, while Kashgar, Kucha, Turfan and Shan Shan near Lobnor were centres of Hinayana Buddhism.

Central Asia, like India, had great centres of learning. No wonder, Kumarajiva, after learning Buddhist scriptures in Kashmir, studied four Vedas, five sciences, Brahmanical shastras and astronomy in Kashgar. This shows that the scholarly environment was not of Hindu-Buddhist dichotomy, but of continuum, as the scholarship was not confined to the study of the Buddhist scriptures.

Kumarajiva, like scores of other Central Asian scholars, contributed immensely towards the dissemination of Buddhist religion and thought in Central Asia and China. However, the tradition of translation of Sanskrit texts in China was well-established before he arrived there. A Parthian crown prince, An Shih-kao (Chinese name), had abdicated his throne in favour of his uncle, and dedicated his life to Buddhism. He went to the East (China) and settled in Loyang in 148 AD. He ended up translating up to 170 Sanskrit texts in Chinese.

Kumarajiva was a great scholar. The “nations of the west” (India and Central Asia), in Chinese parlance, acknowledged his genius. Soon, his fame spread towards the east, provoking Chinese king Fu Chien to first dispatch an envoy and then an army to bring Kumarajiva to China. Kumarajiva advised the king of Kucha not to fight the Chinese, but the king ignored his advice, and was killed in the battlefield. Kumarajiva was taken to China as a captive, but was honoured by the emperor.

In China, Kumarajiva translated a large number of texts into Sanskrit; many of them have been lost and only their references are available today. However, he is particularly famous for the translation of Lotus Sutra, completed in 406 AD, and The Treatise on the Great Prajnaparamita. Kumarajiva improved the technique of translation prevailing in China. The procedure was simple but rigorous: First Kumarajiva used to explain the meaning of the text twice; the monks then discussed the same among themselves and translated it in literary Chinese. Thereafter, Kumarajiva would repeatedly compare the translation with the original Sanskrit text, thus arriving at definite version both in terms of thought and Chinese aesthetics. Being concerned with the essence of the text, he avoided word-to-word translation; he shortened the text by deleting repetitions and ponderous verbosity intolerable to Chinese literati, making the final version more appealing to Chinese literary tastes.

Kumarajiva, it is said, had more than 3,000 monk disciples, including Tao-sheng, Sheng-chao, Tao-jung and Seng-jui. Shramana Seng Jui, the biographer and constant companion of Kumarajiva, possessed extraordinary talent and wisdom. Whenever the two disputed about the rhythmic structure of the Indian language, and its common features and differences, Jui would say: “The national custom of India emphasises the literary form and considers those forms good whose music and rhythm suit that of stringed instruments.” In this case, a remark about the Chinese translation is worth mentioning: “When one translates the Indian language into Chinese, it loses its elegance. Even though the general meaning is reproduced, the style is to a large extent lost. It is as if one (first) chews the rice before giving it to another; not only does it deny him the taste, it also makes him spit it out.” :mrgreen:

This reviewer shares the view expressed in the book that “Kumarajiva’s charismatic diction has cast its sheen on the succeeding centuries in East Asian lands”. His style has been the radiance of Buddhism. And it was his translation of Satya-Siddhi Shastra that gave rise to Hsieh-ho’s Six Principles of Chinese Painting, which still remains the basis of theoretical discussions on the aesthetics of poetry, painting, sculpture and calligraphy in East Asia.

The book must be read by one and all.

--The reviewer, editor of quarterly magazine Dialogue, is co-author of the book, India and Central Asia

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


and comment:

Kumarajiva: India shrinking
By N.S. Rajaram on 3/27/2011 5:19:07 AM

The reason for shrinking India was the onset and growth of Buddhism with its emphasis on pacific monasticism and neglect of the Kshatriya virtues. Afghanistan and much of Central Asia which were Buddhist fell to Islam without much fight. The same thing happened in India. Bengal and Bihar, which were the strongholds of Buddhism fell to Islam in a single campaign by Bakhtiar Khilji.



The comment is not germane.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 29 Mar 2011 01:09

I saw this author on Book Tv last night:

Overview - A Nation of Outsiders

Product Details
Pub. Date: February 2011
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Format: Hardcover , 400pp
ISBN-13: 9780195393132
ISBN: 0195393139

Synopsis

At mid-century, Americans increasingly fell in love with characters like Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye and Marlon Brando's Johnny in The Wild One, musicians like Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, and activists like the members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. These emotions enabled some middle-class whites to cut free of their own histories and identify with those who, while lacking economic, political, or social privilege, seemed to possess instead vital cultural resources and a depth of feeling not found in "grey flannel" America.

In this wide-ranging and vividly written cultural history, Grace Elizabeth Hale sheds light on why so many white middle-class Americans chose to re-imagine themselves as outsiders in the second half of the twentieth century and explains how this unprecedented shift changed American culture and society. Love for outsiders launched the politics of both the New Left and the New Right. From the mid-sixties through the eighties, it flourished in the hippie counterculture, the back-to-the-land movement, the Jesus People movement, and among fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christians working to position their traditional isolation and separatism as strengths. It changed the very meaning of "authenticity" and "community."

Ultimately, the romance of the outsider provided a creative resolution to an intractable mid-century cultural and political conflict-the struggle between the desire for self-determination and autonomy and the desire for a morally meaningful and authentic life.

Publishers Weekly

Hale (Making Whiteness) explores the mainstreaming of outsider status in a sweeping, thought-provoking study of America's postwar political and cultural counterculture. Although Americans have a history of appropriating from minorities, from the 1950s on white Americans began identifying with them, imagining that "people living on the margins, without economic or political or social privilege, something vital, some essential quality that had somehow been lost from their own lives." Like Elvis Presley and Jack Kerouac, the white middle class borrowed the black and working class blues and critical stance toward the establishment. "Rebellion" went mainstream and lent romance, moral weight, and authenticity to movements as diverse as beat literature, rock and roll, the Jesus Freak movement, even prolife activism. Hale is able to explain, at least partially, the failure of so many 20th-century social movements: fantasies about the authenticity or purity of blacks or the poor became more persuasive than doing the "hard work of creating a system of economic justice." While sometimes slow-moving and too secure in the validity of its central argument, this polemic offers a refreshing take on recent cultural history. (Mar.)



After Cold War the Americna middle-class are going for new age religions and Americanising Yoga. A new micro trend is a foot in Eastern cities: vegetarianism, plain living, simple clothes, yoga, meditation and high thinking.

Its called Brahminism!

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby svinayak » 29 Mar 2011 03:00

ramana wrote:
After Cold War the Americna middle-class are going for new age religions and Americanising Yoga. A new micro trend is a foot in Eastern cities: vegetarianism, plain living, simple clothes, yoga, meditation and high thinking.

Its called Brahminism!

Why do they want to follow what Indians are doing or Indians are following. Why cant they leave Indians alone!

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 29 Mar 2011 03:19

Maybe they are realizing that Indians do have something to give them than only 'communicable diseases' as one famous US Ambassador said!

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 29 Mar 2011 05:20

Ian Morris, "Why The West Rules – For Now: The Patterns of History and what they reveal about the Future"
Publisher: Profile B o ok s | 2010 | ISBN: 1846681472 | 608 pages |


Sometime around 1750, English entrepreneurs unleashed the astounding energies of steam and coal, and the world was forever changed. The emergence of factories, railroads, and gunboats propelled the West’s rise to power in the nineteenth century, and the development of computers and nuclear weapons in the twentieth century secured its global supremacy. Now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, many worry that the emerging economic power of China and India spells the end of the West as a superpower. In order to understand this possibility, we need to look back in time. Why has the West dominated the globe for the past two hundred years, and will its power last?Describing the patterns of human history, the archaeologist and historian Ian Morris offers surprising new answers to both questions. It is not, he reveals, differences of race or culture, or even the strivings of great individuals, that explain Western dominance. It is the effects of geography on the everyday efforts of ordinary people as they deal with crises of resources, disease, migration, and climate. As geography and human ingenuity continue to interact, the world will change in astonishing ways, transforming Western rule in the process. Deeply researched and brilliantly argued, Why the West Rules—for Now spans fifty thousand years of history and offers fresh insights on nearly every page. The book brings together the latest findings across disciplines—from ancient history to neuroscience—not only to explain why the West came to rule the world but also to predict what the future will bring in the next hundred years.


Wow need to see how this differs from Stratfor type books,

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby svinayak » 29 Mar 2011 06:26

I have seen the book. In one chapter it has the growth of the christians vs the Buddhists. It tries to prove that there is some connections to religion. The book is more of trying to prove that they are still in control

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 30 Mar 2011 06:54

Joya Chatterji, "Bengal Divided: Hindu Communalism and Partition, 1932-1947 (Cambridge South Asian Studies)"
Publisher: C a mbri dge University Press | 2002 | ISBN: 0521523281 | 324 pages |

Whereas previous studies of the end of British rule in India have concentrated on the negotiations of the transfer of power at the all-India level or have considered the emergence of separatist politics amongst India's Muslim minorities, this study provides a re-evaluation of the history of Bengal focusing on the political and social processes that led to the demand for partition in Bengal and tracing the rise of Hindu communalism. In its most startling revelation, the author shows how the demand for a separate homeland for the Hindus, which was fuelled by a large and powerful section of Hindu society within Bengal, was seen as the only way to regain influence and to wrest power from the Muslim majority. The picture which emerges is one of a stratified and fragmented society moving away from the mainstream of Indian nationalism, and increasingly preoccupied with narrower, more parochial concerns.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 30 Mar 2011 07:04

Ancient Indian Leaps into Mathematics by: B.S. Yadav, Man Mohan
1st Edition. (2011) | ISBN: 0817646949 | 233 pages



amberG, Published by Birkhauser.

This book presents contributions of mathematicians covering topics from ancient India, placing them in the broader context of the history of mathematics. Although the translations of some Sanskrit mathematical texts are available in the literature, Indian contributions are rarely presented in major Western historical works. Yet some of the well-known and universally-accepted discoveries from India, including the concept of zero and the decimal representation of numbers, have made lasting contributions to the foundation of modern mathematics. Through a systematic approach, this book examines these ancient mathematical ideas that were spread throughout India, China, the Islamic world, and Western Europe.


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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 02 Apr 2011 08:10

Matt Jones, "After Hiroshima: The United States, Race and Nuclear Weapons in Asia, 1945-1965"
Cambridge University Press | 2010 | ISBN: 0521881005 | 514 pages |

By emphasising the role of nuclear issues, After Hiroshima provides a new history of American policy in Asia between the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan and the escalation of the Vietnam War. Drawing on a wide range of documentary evidence, Matthew Jones charts the development of American nuclear strategy and the foreign policy problems it raised, as the United States both confronted China and attempted to win the friendship of an Asia emerging from colonial domination. In underlining American perceptions that Asian peoples saw the possible repeat use of nuclear weapons as a manifestation of Western attitudes of 'white superiority', he offers new insights into the links between racial sensitivities and the conduct of US policy, and a fresh interpretation of the transition in American strategy from massive retaliation to flexible response in the era spanned by the Korean and Vietnam Wars.



Need to think if the idea to constrain India which was ahead in the 50s was part of this strategy to accommodate PRC?

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby devesh » 02 Apr 2011 08:27

ramana wrote:Maybe they are realizing that Indians do have something to give them than only 'communicable diseases' as one famous US Ambassador said!



we should be careful here. i've seen and interacted with some of these types. there seems to be some weird mix of proto-marxism, genuine belief in peace (as against fake liberty/freedom argument of imperialists), and a feeling of unbelonging to the mainstream.

also seen some other type of people without the marxist leanings. they don't have any problems with mainstream, but just not inclined towards eating meat, etc.

but it's too early to say which direction this "movement" will take.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 02 Apr 2011 09:26

We usually dont reply to comments in this thread.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Rony » 02 Apr 2011 16:13

A 16th Century Clash of Civilizations : The Portuguese Presence in Sri lanka

Three centuries after Portuguese colonialism in Sri Lanka ended, Portugal lost Goa, their last stronghold in South Asia. That was in December 1961, when their garrisons surrendered to Indian Forces after less than two days of fighting which ended 450 years of alien rule. Today Portuguese people have the courage to face squarely their country's dark colonial past in Asia and Africa and the brutal killings of so-called heretics.

However ironically in Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist country, it is a different story. A section of the Catholic community, primarily the Church, seems very uncomfortable when reminded of its connection with Portuguese colonialism. The topic is the subject of Dr. Susantha Goonatilake's book A 16th Century Clash of Civilizations - The Portuguese Presence in Sri Lanka.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby Rony » 02 Apr 2011 16:31

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell.

A Review in New York Times.

Pastor Stirs Wrath With His Views on Old Questions

A new book by one of the country’s most influential evangelical pastors, challenging traditional Christian views of heaven, hell and eternal damnation, has created an uproar among evangelical leaders, with the most ancient of questions being argued in a biblical hailstorm of Twitter messages and blog posts.

In a book to be published this month, the pastor, Rob Bell, known for his provocative views and appeal among the young, describes as “misguided and toxic” the dogma that “a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better.

One leading evangelical, John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, wrote, “Farewell Rob Bell.” R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in a blog post that by suggesting that people who do not embrace Jesus may still be saved, Mr. Bell was at best toying with heresy. He called the promotional video, in which Mr. Bell pointedly asks whether it can be true that Gandhi, a non-Christian, is burning in hell, “the sad equivalent of a theological striptease.”

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby svinayak » 05 Apr 2011 01:58

The Graying of the Great Powers: Demography and Geopolitics in the 21st Century
Richard Jackson (Author)

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Center for Strategic & International Studies (May 23, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 089206532X
ISBN-13: 978-0892065325

The Graying of the Great Powers offers the first comprehensive assessment of the geopolitical implications of "global aging"--the dramatic transformation in population age structures and growth rates being brought about by falling fertility and rising longevity worldwide. It describes how demographic trends in the developed world will constrain the ability of the United States and its traditional allies to maintain national and global security in the decades ahead. It also explains how dramatic demographic change in the developing world--from resurgent youth bulges in the Islamic world to premature aging in China and population implosion in Russia--will give rise to serious new security threats. While some argue that global aging is pushing the world toward greater peace and prosperity, The Graying of the Great Powers warns that a period of great geopolitical danger looms just over the horizon. Neither the triumph of multilateralism nor democratic capitalism is assured. The demographic trends of the twenty-first century will challenge the geopolitical assumptions of both the left and the right.


This book is a prophetic warning. It provides an education on demography, the science of vital and social statistics. Regarding the big trends of populations and their makeup, there may be nothing most of us can do except begin to understand what it all means. Some bright people might figure out how to invest based on the information in this book, but that would require anticipating tax policy and other government policies.

Ideas expressed in The Graying of the Great Powers are based on research. Most of the research is easy to understand because the findings agree with common sense. We've seen the pronouncements in newspapers for a long time: When work forces age and stagnate or contract, economic growth declines. Economic development leads to a shift from high mortality and high fertility to low mortality and low fertility. Social costs of economic development include environmental resource depletion, increased income inequality and rapid-urbanization-related problems. Countries with an extremely young population are more likely to experience state failure.

Some of the findings expressed this book are not immediately simple to understand. For example, will population growth decline likely lead to a safer world or a period of wars? Both sides of the argument of presented, with findings that such transitions are dangerous. Historical examples are provided but my guess is that historians will be divided on the issue.

Interestingly, demographic trends of the U.S. aren't that alarming, at least relative to other developed countries. I hardly find good news these days, but there are some good findings for the U.S. in this book. There was little though to mollify concerns about many looming problems such as the provision of elder care, energy policy or what to do to improve education. Surely as our population ages, public policy will be increasingly informed by demographics.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 09 Apr 2011 09:00

David Blackbourn, "The Long Nineteenth Century: A History of Germany, 1780-1918"
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA | ISBN 0195076729 | 1998 | 624 pages |

In the late eighteenth century, German-speaking Europe was a patchwork of principalities and lordships. Most people lived in the countryside, and just half survived until their late twenties. By the beginning of our own century, unified Germany was the most powerful state in Europe. No longer a provincial "land of poets and thinkers," the country had been transformed into an industrial and military giant with an advanced welfare system.The Long Nineteenth Century: A History of Germany, 1780-1918, is a masterful account of this transformation. Spanning 150 years, from the eve of the French Revolution to the end of World War I, it introduces readers to crucial areas of German social and cultural history -- demography and social structure, work and leisure, education and religion -- while providing a comprehensive account of political events. The text explains how Germany came to be unified, and the consequences of that unification. It describes the growing role of the state and new ways in which rulers asserted their authority, but questions cliches about German "obedience." Drawing on a generation of work devoted to migration, housing, crime, medicine, and popular culture, Blackbourn offers a powerful and original account of a changing society, trying to do justice to the experiences of contemporary Germans, both women and men. Informed by the latest scholarship, this book provides a complete and up-to-date alternative to conventional political histories of this period.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 11 Apr 2011 00:05


Joseph Gies, Frances Gies, "Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel: Technology and Invention in the Middle Age
s"
Publisher: Harper Perennial | ISBN 0060925817 | 1995 | 368 pages |


In this account of Europe's rise to world leadership in technology, Frances and Joseph Gies make use of recent scholarship to destroy two time-honored myths. Myth One: that Europe's leap forward occurred suddenly in the "Renaissance", following centuries of medieval stagnation. Not so, say the Gieses: Early modern technology and experimental science were direct outgrowths of the decisive innovations of medieval Europe, in the tools and techniques of agriculture, craft industry, metallurgy, building construction, navigation, and war. Myth Two: that Europe achieved its primacy through "Western" superiority. On the contrary, the authors report, many of Europe's most important inventions - the horse harness, the stirrup, the magnetic compass, cotton and silk cultivation and manufacture, papermaking, firearms, "Arabic" numerals - had their origins outside Europe, in China, India, and Islam. The Gieses show how Europe synthesized its own innovations - the three-field system, water power in industry, the full-rigged ship, the putting-out system - into a powerful new combination of technology, economics, and politics. In their lively history of medieval technology, the Gies team writes of such advances as the heavy plow, the Gothic flying buttress, linen undergarments, water pumps, and the lateen sail. During the medieval millennium, they suggest, a great technological and social revolution occurred "with the disappearance of mass slavery, the shift to water- and wind-power, the introduction of the open-field system of agriculture, and the importation, adaptation, or invention of an array of devices, from the wheelbarrow to double-entry bookkeeping." Many of those inventions or adaptations, brought into Europe from China and the Middle East, have scarcely been improved on today.From the expansion of medieval man's capabilities, the voyage of Columbus with all its fateful consequences is seen as an inevitable product, while even the genius of Leonardo da Vinci emerges from the context of earlier and lesser-known dreamers and tinkerers. Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel is illustrated with more than 90 photographs and drawings.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 11 Apr 2011 00:10


Tzvetan Todorov, "The Fear of Barbarians: Beyond the Clash of Civilizations
"
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press | ISBN 0226805751 | 2010 | 240 pages

The relationship between Western democracies and Islam, rarely entirely comfortable, has in recent years become increasingly tense. A growing immigrant population and worries about cultural and political assimilation—exacerbated by terrorist attacks in the United States, Europe, and around the world—have provoked reams of commentary from all parts of the political spectrum, a frustrating majority of it hyperbolic or even hysterical. In The Fear of Barbarians, the celebrated intellectual Tzvetan Todorov offers a corrective: a reasoned and often highly personal analysis of the problem, rooted in Enlightenment values yet open to the claims of cultural difference. Drawing on history, anthropology, and politics, and bringing to bear examples ranging from the murder of Theo van Gogh to the French ban on headscarves, Todorov argues that the West must overcome its fear of Islam if it is to avoid betraying the values it claims to protect. True freedom, Todorov explains, requires us to strike a delicate balance between protecting and imposing cultural values, acknowledging the primacy of the law, and yet strenuously protecting minority views that do not interfere with its aims. Adding force to Todorov's arguments is his own experience as a native of communist Bulgaria: his admiration of French civic identity—and Western freedom—is vigorous but non-nativist, an inclusive vision whose very flexibility is its core strength.The record of a penetrating mind grappling with a complicated, multifaceted problem, The Fear of Barbarians is a powerful, important book—a call, not to arms, but to thought.

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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby ramana » 13 Apr 2011 05:44

Robert E. Sullivan, "Macaulay: The Tragedy of Power"
Publisher: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press | 2009 | ISBN: 0674036247 | 624 pages |


On the 150th anniversary of the death of the English historian and politician Thomas Babington Macaulay, Robert Sullivan offers a portrait of a Victorian life that probes the cost of power, the practice of empire, and the impact of ideas.
His Macaulay is a Janus-faced master of the universe: a prominent spokesman for abolishing slavery in the British Empire who cared little for the cause, a forceful advocate for reforming Whig politics but a Machiavellian realist, a soaring parliamentary orator who avoided debate, a self-declared Christian, yet a skeptic and a secularizer of English history and culture, and a stern public moralist who was in love with his two youngest sisters.
Perhaps best known in the West for his classic History of England, Macaulay left his most permanent mark on South Asia, where his penal code remains the law. His father ensured that ancient Greek and Latin literature shaped Macaulay’s mind, but he crippled his heir emotionally. Self-defense taught Macaulay that power, calculation, and duplicity rule politics and human relations. In Macaulay’s writings, Sullivan unearths a sinister vision of progress that prophesied twentieth-century genocide. That the reverent portrait fashioned by Macaulay’s distinguished extended family eclipsed his insistent rhetoric about race, subjugation, and civilizing slaughter testifies to the grip of moral obliviousness.
Devoting his huge talents to gaining power—above all for England and its empire—made Macaulay’s life a tragedy. Sullivan offers an unsurpassed study of an afflicted genius and a thoughtful meditation on the modern ethics of power.

abhishek_sharma
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Re: Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

Postby abhishek_sharma » 13 Apr 2011 12:37

A Different Gandhi: Anita Desai

Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India
by Joseph Lelyveld
Knopf, 425 pp., $28.95

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/apr/28/different-gandhi/?pagination=false

Even in his lifetime the legend of Mahatma Gandhi had grown to such proportions that the man himself can be said to have disappeared as if into a dust storm. Joseph Lelyveld’s new biography sets out to find him. His subtitle alerts us that this is not a conventional biography in that he does not repeat the well-documented story of Gandhi’s struggle for India but rather his struggle with India, the country that exasperated, infuriated, and dismayed him, notwithstanding his love for it.

At the outset Lelyveld dispenses with the conventions of biography, leaving out Gandhi’s childhood and student years, a decision he made because he believed that the twenty-three-year-old law clerk who arrived in South Africa in 1893 had little in him of the man he was to become. Besides, his birth in a small town in Gujarat on the west coast of India, and childhood spent in the bosom of a very traditional family of the Modh bania (merchant) caste of Jains, then the three years in London studying law are dealt with in fine detail and with a disarming freshness and directness in Gandhi’s Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Lelyveld’s argument is that it was South Africa that made him the visionary and leader of legend. He is not the first or only historian to have pointed out such a progression but he brings to it an intimate knowledge based on his years as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times in both South Africa and India and the exhaustive research he conducted with a rare and finely balanced sympathy.

Having accepted the brief of assisting as a translator in a civil suit between two Muslim merchants from India, Gandhi presented himself in a Durban magistrate’s court on May 23, 1893, just the day after his arrival, dressed in a stylish frock coat, striped trousers, and black turban, and was promptly ordered to remove the turban. He refused, left the courtroom, and fired off a letter to the press in protest. This was his first political act, predating the incident of being thrown off a train by an Englishman who objected to traveling with a “colored man” made famous by Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi and Philip Glass’s opera Satyagraha. Remarkably for an Indian, this seems to have been his first encounter with colonial arrogance and in his autobiography he said it made him resolve to stay and “root out the disease” of “color prejudice.” It was the start of what Erik Erikson was to call his “eternal negative” but it is also a simplification, Lelyveld points out, of a much more convoluted attitude toward race, color, and caste that he brought with him from India.


It was a shock to Gandhi to find that in South Africa he was considered a “coolie”—in India the word is reserved for a manual laborer, specifically one who carries loads on his head or back. In South Africa the majority of Indians was composed of Tamil, Telugu, and Bihari laborers who had come to Natal on an agreement to serve for five years on the railways, plantations, and coal mines. They were known collectively as “coolies,” and Gandhi was known as a “coolie barrister.”

Still, he had a touching faith in Queen Victoria’s proclamation of 1858 that formally extended British sovereignty over India and promised its inhabitants the same protections and privileges as all her subjects, voicing her wish that her Indian subjects “be freely and impartially admitted to offices in our service.” So when the Anglo-Boer War broke out in 1899 and later the Zulu rebellion of 1906, he led the Indian community—he had joined the Natal Indian Congress—in offering its service to the colonial power “as full citizens of the British Empire, ready to shoulder its obligations and deserving of whatever rights it had to bestow.” He was proud of his command of the unit of Indian stretcher-bearers—not, one would think, a likely start for one who came to be regarded as the man who inspired India’s struggle, and struggles elsewhere in the world, for freedom.

It was when the so-called Black Act was passed in 1906, forcing Indians living in the Transvaal to register, that he held meetings and urged his fellow men to burn the permits they were required to carry and found himself being marched off, as he wrote, to

a prison intended for Kaffirs…. We could understand not being classified with the whites, but to be placed on the same level as the Natives seemed too much to put up with. It is indubitably right that the Indians should have separate cells. Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized—the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals.

Africans could hardly ignore Gandhi’s disparagement of them: Zulu newspapers took note that the Indians volunteered to work for the “English savages in Natal” and even an Indian publication in England called Gandhi’s readiness to serve the whites “disgusting.” It was only much later—and with the judicious addition of hindsight—that Gandhi claimed that “my heart was with the Zulus” and claimed that the cruelty he had witnessed against them was “the major turning point of his life spiritually,” the one that made him turn to nonviolence as a strategy for resistance. This came to be known as satyagraha, which translates literally as “truth force” or “firmness in truth.”

This was the strategy he used in 1913 when he launched a campaign against the so-called “head tax,” the payment required of every Indian who had completed the terms of his agreement and wished to remain in the Transvaal. It did not involve the native population at all but it ignited a rebellion by indentured labor, a turn unforeseen by Gandhi himself. Indians walked off plantations, railroads, mines, and whatever services employed them in the cities, creating a strike on a scale that made it the first significant event in Gandhi’s career. “I was not prepared for this marvelous awakening,” he said. Becoming “a self-propelled whirlwind,” Lelyveld writes, he traveled by rail from one rally to another, exhorting the strikers to allow themselves to fill the jails to overflowing. (Africans were to take note and use the same strategy of passive resistance in their own struggle to come.) General Jan Smuts called out the army to suppress the strike, which it did with ferocity.

When the strike was called off, Gandhi was hailed by crowds of thousands and now saw himself as the representative not only of Indian settlers of the merchant class but of the lowest of castes, the indentured laborers he had once ignored. He had found his vocation but the outcome—the Indian Relief Act of 1914—fell far short of what the agitation had called for. Lelyveld points out, as did critics at the time, that Indians still had no political rights in South Africa—and did not for another century. The system of indentured labor eventually ended, but that had not been one of Gandhi’s demands.

While these huge public turmoils were taking place, Gandhi was experimenting with personal and domestic changes as well: first by establishing a small, self-reliant, rural commune near Durban, Phoenix Farm, with his family and a few friends. Here they were expected to share equally in all duties—editing and printing his newspaper, Indian Opinion, as well as working on the land. He set forth his principles of the ideal life—vegetarianism, nature cures for all ills, home schooling for his children, extreme austerity in all spheres of life. “Meagerness” was the standard by which diet was to be measured, a full meal being “a crime against man and God.” He decided that “no man living the physical or animal life can possibly understand the spiritual or ethical” and took the vow of celibacy; his wife concurred.

Gandhi did not follow the traditional Indian formula: his ashram was based not on religion but on universal humanistic thought. How had this come about? Lelyveld believes that “if there is a single seminal experience in his intellectual development,” it was reading Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God Is Within You. The Hindu revolutionary Sri Aurobindo went so far as to say, “Gandhi is a European—truly a Russian Christian in an Indian body.”

Lelyveld found that he now more or less abandoned his wife and children in Natal for months at a time, despite bitter complaints of neglect from his wife and eldest son Harilal. (“He feels that I have always kept all the four boys very much suppressed…always put them and Ba last,” Gandhi wrote dispassionately.) When Gandhi’s brother Laxmidas complained that he was failing to meet his family obligations, he replied serenely, “My family now comprises all living beings,” and proceeded to assemble a surrogate family made up of mostly European Theosophists who shared his enthusiasm for Tolstoy and Ruskin. He lived for a while with the young copy editor Henry Polak and his wife Millie, then moved in with the East Prussian Jewish architect Hermann Kallenbach. Together they created another rural “utopia,” Tolstoy Farm, southwest of Johannesburg, and Gandhi seems to have been happier there than he had been anywhere—enjoying bicycle rides and picnics and the friendship of Kallenbach.

This friendship was close—even romantic, Lelyveld suggests—and Kallenbach would have followed Gandhi when he left for India in 1914 if World War I had not broken out, barring him from entering British territory. All Gandhi’s efforts to obtain a visa for him failed, and the two were not to meet again for twenty-three years, by which time Kallenbach had become a Zionist and joined a kibbutz in Israel.

Gandhi had taken a vow to spend his first year back in India traveling throughout the country to acquaint himself with conditions there. He did so by rail, in a third-class compartment. This was to be his lifelong habit and it was required of all his entourage, which became enormous (the Indian poet Sarojini Naidu quipped, “You will never know how much it costs us to keep that saint, that wonderful old man, in poverty!”). His fame as leader of satyagraha on behalf of Indians in South Africa had preceded him and crowds of between 10,000 and 20,000 mobbed him wherever he went, bending to touch his feet to show respect in the Indian way, a habit that annoyed him intensely. “Oh God,” he groaned, “save me from my friends, followers and flatterers!”

What he saw on these journeys made him take up the cause of exploited peasants on the indigo plantations of Bihar and in drought-stricken Kheda where farmers were suffering from high taxation and land confiscation, and of the mill workers in Bombay and Ahmedabad. No longer the natty lawyer, he now dressed like a laborer himself. He had of course been acquainted with the caste system since childhood but the injustice of it that condemned the lower castes to live in poverty and degradation struck him most forcefully when he first attended an Indian National Congress meeting in Calcutta and saw how the Brahmin delegates from South India secluded themselves in enclosed kitchen and dining areas to avoid pollution by the lower castes, and how the public latrines could only be cleaned by scavengers, the “untouchables,” or were left filthy.

Image
Gandhi with his grandnieces Abha and Manu, whom he called his ‘walking sticks,’ Birla House, New Delhi, 1947



The eradication of “untouchability” became a cardinal point of his campaign; the other three of the “four pillars” being the alliance of Hindus and Muslims, promotion of handloom fabrics to promote a self-sustaining industry, and nonviolence in both tactics and discipline. This was to be his dharma, what the historian Judith Brown has called “morality in action.”

In his usual way, he established an ashram, a commune, with family and friends, in Wardha, where he insisted on his rules being observed scrupulously, but there were many rebellions: his wife Kasturba found it hard to live with members of the “untouchable” caste and especially objected to cleaning their chamber pots, a defiance Gandhi found unforgivable. He also berated her severely for entering a temple that refused admission to “untouchables.” He himself rarely visited a temple and never to pray. He led a march to the ancient temple of Vaikom in Travancore that not only forbade “untouchables” from entering but from walking on roads that led to it. Gandhi could not even get past the signs excluding them. He was granted an audience with the priests but it had to be held elsewhere and his demands were firmly set aside. He left defeated and it was more radical leaders like T.K. Madhavan and George Joseph who carried on the campaign.

Ironically, too, Gandhi failed to make a partner in the fight against “untouchability” of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, himself an “untouchable” but a highly educated one with degrees in law and economics who was, like Gandhi, invited to a Round Table Conference on India in London in 1931. Gandhi immediately alienated him by offering “to share the honor…of representing the interests of untouchables.” Ambedkar responded icily, “I fully represent the claims of my community.” He believed that “untouchables were keepers of their own destiny and deserved their own movement.” Gandhi could not approve of a separate electorate for them. He feared that “special representation for untouchables would work to perpetuate untouchability…. ‘Will untouchables remain untouchables in perpetuity?’” In exasperation, Ambedkar finally advocated mass conversion to Buddhism as a solution since it is a religion with no caste system; this only baffled Gandhi.

As chief executive of the Indian National Congress, Gandhi saw that to create a national party with one national aspiration it was necessary to include the Muslim minority in pursuing the common ground of swaraj, or self-rule. In South Africa he had had good relations with Muslims, but in India he struggled. He had, Lelyveld writes, acquired early Muslim supporters in the Ali brothers, Muhammad and Shaukat, and sympathized with their cause, the return of the Ottoman Caliphate, although this was considered quixotic even by some Muslims and certainly displeased the British. They put the brothers in jail, and in Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk dissolved the Caliphate and sent the last sultan into exile, spelling the end of the so-called Khilafat movement in India. As for Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League, a partnership could have developed—both men were from Gujarat and had been trained as lawyers in England—but they had little else in common and Jinnah could not conceal his suspicion that the Congress Party was interested only in the establishment of the Hindu raj.

Then there was Gandhi’s ardent espousal of the spinning wheel as an instrument of release from the enforced import of British-made cloth. It provided a popular symbol, but it also set off violent riots when mobs took to burning imported goods, and, as Lelyveld writes, no less a patriot than the poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore pronounced it a misguided and doomed campaign. It was Tagore who had given Gandhi the honorific of Mahatma—Great Soul—and Gandhi in return had named him the Great Sentinel, but for all their praise of each other, they had little in common—one an artist and aristocrat, the other an ascetic and a populist. Tagore was appalled by Gandhi’s illogical and unscientific claim that the earthquake that struck Bihar in 1934 was punishment for the sin of untouchability.

As leader of the Congress Party it was for Gandhi to reconcile all these factions and their jostling demands and conflicts. An occasion for unified action was provided in 1919 when British police fired on an unarmed gathering of protesters in Jallianwalla Bagh, an enclosed space in Amritsar, killing many hundreds. The reaction was widespread, and Gandhi launched his non-cooperation movement, asking judges and lawyers to boycott courts, students their schools, and soldiers their units while recipients of medals and honors were asked to return them—as Tagore did his knighthood forthwith. In their effort to halt the movement the British placed Gandhi in prison.

They continued to do so for his acts of defiance, but this in no way diminished his influence. He would start to fast in prison and the nation would hold its breath till he agreed to suspend it. As his body dwindled, Lelyveld observes, his political and spiritual power increased. The fast joined the spinning wheel as a distinctly Gandhian symbol of protest. In 1930 his genius for the inspired and inspiring gesture made him lead a march of two hundred miles from his ashram to Dandi on the Arabian Sea, crowds lining the road to cheer him. With “the beauty and simplicity of a fresh artistic vision,” Lelyveld writes, he bent to pick a handful of salt on the beach in defiance of British taxation of even so lowly and indispensable a commodity. Sarojini Naidu cried, “Hail, Deliverer!” The police arrived with batons, heads were cracked, and Gandhi was sent back to prison in May 1930. Jawaharlal Nehru, the future leader of the Congress Party and India’s first prime minister, commented, “What the future will bring I know not, but the past has made life worth living and our prosaic existence has developed something of epic greatness in it.”

Moments of triumph contain in them the seeds of disintegration. Gandhi, released from prison in January 1931, could not hold the movement together with such gestures, however powerful. A weary Gandhi sought a kind of self-imposed exile, retiring to a small village in the west of India in the summer of 1936, but an ashram (Sevagram, or “Village of Service”) quickly sprung up around him.

At the outbreak of World War II he proposed to support the British war effort, but this was rejected by the Congress Party, which offered no more than support conditional on Britain granting India independence. That was turned down by the Tory government, Churchill making his famous comment that he had not become prime minister to preside over the disintegration of the British Empire. Calls for the British to “Quit India!” then became the rallying cry for one last hard push to obtain freedom. Gandhi was once again placed in detention—in the Aga Khan’s former palace near Poona; his poor wife, still loyally following, was to die there.

Gandhi was released in 1944 and the British government, exhausted by the war and now under a Labour cabinet, hoped for a compromise to which all factions in India would agree. Gandhi left immediately for Bombay to negotiate with Jinnah, who now saw a separate Muslim nation as the only solution. Crowds stoned the train carrying Gandhi, trying to prevent him from making concessions; but Jinnah remained adamant and the partition of India became inevitable. Riots and mob violence between Hindus and Muslims raged through the country. Instead of staying in the capital for the victory celebrations set to take place in August 1947, Gandhi left for Calcutta, leaving it to Nehru to unfurl the national flag at the Red Fort and give his famous speech about a “Tryst with Destiny,” saying that the joyful cries of “Jai Hind!“—Glory to India!—”stink in my nostrils.”

One of the last and most moving sections of Lelyveld’s book has Gandhi in early 1947 walking barefoot from village to village—forty-seven in all—in the Muslim-majority area of Noakhali with his followers, now a small band, singing the Tagore song “Ekla Chalo”—”If no one answers your call, walk alone, walk alone.” The strangest act in this drama, as Lelyveld makes clear, is Gandhi’s choice of such a time for one last “experiment with truth”: he requested the presence of a nephew’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Manu, to come to the stinking, blood-stained scene of carnage and minister to his physical needs—overseeing his diet, giving him his daily bath and oil massage, but also to sleep beside him on his cot, wearing as little clothing as possible, if any, to test his commitment to celibacy. He seems to have thought that if he could subdue the impulse to animal arousal in his body, then the country could subdue its lust for violence. Unable to follow the connection Gandhi had always made between sex and violence, abstinence and nonviolence, even his most devoted followers were shocked, and many left.

The end came in 1947 when Manu asked for permission to leave and Gandhi was persuaded to travel to Delhi, where the new constitution was being drawn up—under the guidance of no other than Dr. Ambedkar. Gandhi seemed to have no interest in making a contribution. Instead, he spent his time praying and fasting in the house of his old friend, the rich industrialist G.D. Birla—for security reasons, he could not stay as he usually did in the scavengers’ colony—while outside Sikhs who had lost their lands to Pakistan were chanting “Death to Gandhi!” and “Blood for blood!” At the nightly prayer meetings that he held in the garden, the orthodox Hindu editor Nahuram Godse, who had been writing fiery articles denouncing what he saw as Gandhi’s pandering to Muslims, brought with him a concealed weapon—Gandhi had refused to let the police search those who attended these meetings—and, pushing aside Manu, who accompanied Gandhi, shot him point-blank. It is said that he fell with the name of God, “Rama, Rama,” on his lips as he had told Manu he hoped to; in fact, he had seemed to be courting death. If ever there was A Chronicle of a Death Foretold, it was his.

He was cremated amid scenes of unparalleled chaos, confusion, and grief, millions attending his funeral—the ultimate irony: it was a state funeral with full military honors—and his ashes were scattered across India and, in 2010, a small portion off the coast of Durban in South Africa. Nehru took over the leadership, making it clear that “Congress has now to govern, not to oppose government.” Central to his vision were a modern military and rapid industrialization. But even he could not have foreseen how thoroughly his vision would overtake Gandhi’s.

When Lelyveld went in search of what might remain of Gandhi, what he found, aside from many archives and letters, were a few pathetic objects in dusty museums—a creaky spinning wheel, garlanded photographs of “The Father of the Nation”—and a few loyal Gandhians still living lives of sacrifice and service against all odds. Yet much remains that Gandhi would recognize as the “eternal India” of poverty and tradition. In the state of Noakhali Lelyveld found the village of Srirampur, where Gandhi had taken refuge, becalmed as if time had come to a halt. Sunlight filters through the palms, rice paddies surround it, men lounge around the tea shop. At the mention of Gandhi’s name, someone steps forward to point out the sites associated with him—this was where his hut once stood, this the shrine under a banyan tree where he had lingered:

Voices become hushed. His name evokes a formal reverence, even among those who have never known the details of his time here…and the killings are remembered as a long-ago typhoon, another kind of disaster.



Lelyveld has exploded so many myths and heaped up so many defeats that his life of Gandhi could easily be read as an ultimately critical one, however judiciously and carefully constructed. After all, in spite of his name being linked with the struggle for freedom in South Africa, Gandhi had practically no contact with Africa or its people. His campaign against “untouchability” in India had limited success even within his own family and circle. The new constitution did make “untouchability” illegal and did provide a system of “reserved” places for untouchables—in schools, colleges, and government jobs—but this has led periodically to heated debate and violent clashes with those who consider such advantages unfair. The traditional attitude has not vanished and the living conditions for the very poor and for many manual workers have not improved much since Gandhi’s lifetime.

Most grievously, Gandhi could not halt Hindu–Muslim antagonism; it morphed into India–Pakistan hostility, which has led to several wars and enduring suspicion between India and Pakistan. Lelyveld describes in detail Gandhi’s inability to build productive relationships with other leaders like Jinnah and Ambedkar, while little is said of the happy and successful collaboration with others, for example with Nehru.

One might think that Gandhi’s legacy on the whole has been depicted negatively and yet there is no denying Lelyveld’s deep sympathy with the man. The picture that emerges is of someone intensely human, with all the defects and weaknesses that suggests, but also a visionary with a profound social conscience and courage who gave the world a model for nonviolent revolution that is still inspiring. It was a model for revolution both on the vast political level and on the personal and domestic one: nothing was unimportant in Gandhi’s eyes, and nothing impossible. He set an almost impossibly high standard and struggled personally to meet it. So if it is all seen as ending in tragedy, it was, Lelyveld writes,

not because he was assassinated, nor because his noblest qualities inflamed the hatred in his killer’s heart. The tragic element is that he was ultimately forced, like Lear, to see the limits of his ambition to remake his world.

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Re:

Postby sampat » 13 Apr 2011 22:46

SwamyG wrote:I am sorry, I did not know where else to ask. What would members say should be the top 3 or 5 books on India on one's book shelf?


I just came back from India with loads of books. I would recommend
1) Myth= Mithya by devdutt pattnaik (http://devdutt.com/myth-mithya/)
2) Becoming Indian by Pavan K Verma (http://www.penguinbooksindia.com/catego ... 83466.aspx)
3) Breaking India by Rajiv Malhotra (http://www.breakingindia.com/)

Can anyone recommend good book on Chanakya Niti. I would like to get that on my next trip. This time I got a copy of corporate Chanakya.


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