Book Review Folder - 2005/2006/2007

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Postby ramana » 17 Oct 2007 19:54

I think we should apply microtrend spotting to the TSP to watch for markers for its progress or otherwise.

Micro Trend watch is a powerful tool if used sensibly otherwise it will become a 'sky is falling' or 'one swallow to herald a summer' type deductions.

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Postby svinayak » 23 Oct 2007 06:53

Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations
by John Bolton (Author)

# Hardcover: 496 pages
# Publisher: Threshold Editions (November 6, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1416552847
# ISBN-13: 978-1416552840

With no-holds-barred candor, the straight-talking former ambassador to the United Nations takes readers behind the scenes at the UN and the U.S. State Department and reveals why his efforts to defend American interests and reform the UN resulted in controversy. A veteran of three Republican administrations and a nominee for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, Bolton shows how the U.S. can lead the way to a more realistic global security arrangement for the twenty-first century and identifies the next generation of threats to America.

The son of a Baltimore firefighter and the first person in his family to go to college, with scholarships to Yale University and Yale Law School, John Bolton studied with preeminent conservative thinkers Robert Bork and Ralph Winter. After law school, he experienced the "Reagan Revolution" firsthand in Edwin Meese's justice department -- where the American judiciary was fundamentally reshaped. His diplomatic skills were honed working with Secretary of State James Baker during the presidency of George H. W. Bush, and serving in the administration of President George W. Bush as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs.

In this revealing memoir, he candidly recounts his appointment in 2005 as Ambassador to the United Nations, his headline-making Senate confirmation battle, which resulted in his recess appointment, and his sixteen-month tenure at the United Nations. Bolton offers keen insight into such international crises as North Korea's nuclear test, Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, the genocide in Darfur, the monthlong negotiation that produced the controversial end of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, and more. Recounting both his successes and frustrations in taking a hard line against weapons-of-mass destruction proliferators, terrorists, and rogue states such as North Korea and Iran, he also exposes the operational inadequacies that hinder the UN's effectiveness in international diplomacy and its bias against Israel and the United States. At home, he criticizes the pernicious bureaucratic inertia in the U.S. State Department that can undermine presidential policy.

A fascinating chronicle of the career of a distinguished lawyer and diplomat who has fought to preserve American sovereignty and strength at home and abroad, Surrender Is Not an Option is the candid memoir of one of America's outstanding statesmen that is sure to become required reading for everyone interested in international affairs.

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Postby svinayak » 23 Oct 2007 07:35

ZOOM: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future
by Vijay Vaitheeswaran (Author), Iain Carson (Author)

# Hardcover: 352 pages
# Publisher: Twelve (October 1, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 044658004X
# ISBN-13: 978-0446580045

A stirring call to arms urging Americans to demand that the government act now to meet the challenges of global warming and to tackle the country's addiction to oil. Carson, former industry editor of The Economist, and Vaitheeswaran, who for ten years reported on environmental and energy issues for that magazine, take to task the automakers of Detroit and Big Oil, dubbing them "dinosaurs" facing extinction unless they change their thinking soon. The authors' closeup look at the workings of the auto industry is sharp and pulls no punches. They credit Toyota with taking the lead in the race to develop the successor to the internal-combustion engine, calling the Prius a stepping stone to the car of the future. The chapters on oil trace the story of America's dependence on Mideast oil from FDR's pact with Ibn Saud of Saudia Arabia in World War II to the terror-threatened market of the present day, and they consider the serious problems now facing the Western oil giants, especially the restricted access to reserves as competition from national oil companies increases. But there's also good news, note the authors. Employing religious terminology, they envision a "Great Awakening" under way in the form of a new awareness of the need for energy reform and some specific actions being taken to achieve it. They offer engrossing stories about a variety of technology innovators and entrepreneurs with fresh ideas about clean energy, including the use of hydrogen to power cars that have clean fuel cells instead of dirty gasoline engines. The authors conclude with a manifesto stating five principles for a smart energy policy, including the necessity of individual action and a grassroots rebellion that will prompt action from the country's leaders.A timely, authoritative book written in a punchy, easy-to-read style.

Book Description
"Zoom goes zero to sixty in nothing flat.It's an exciting ride into the future of the world's favorite physical object, the automobile."-Gregg Easterbrook, author of THE PROGRESS PARADOX"Zoom offers a new way to think about cars and energy that's key to understanding the forces shaping business today. It's smart, well-informed and insightful--exactly what one would expect from two of The Economist's best journalists."-Chris Anderson, author of THE LONG TAIL"Zoom puts oil in its sights and squeezes off one telling round after another.Car lovers will see a sunny future with other fuels; OPEC a steadily darkening twilight."-R. James Woolsey, VP, Booz Allen Hamilton; former Director of Central Intelligence"An incisive analysis of the end of the petroleum age, including all its repercussions and opportunities."-Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures"Oil is the problem. Cars are the solution." Those two simple sentences by the authors of Zoom define the scope of their illuminating and important book, an examination of a transformation in business and culture that is occurring before our eyes. We are living in the midst of a Great Awakening.People are seeking environmentally-sound alternatives to gas guzzlers. Detroit's reign is over. Oil companies, despite their billion-dollar profits, could be on the brink of extinction if they don't adapt. And citizens, all too aware that these industries have lobbied politicians into gridlock over energy policy, are mobilizing to support leaders who advocate new policies. In Zoom, Iain Carson and Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran, award-winningcorrespondents for The Economist, show why and how geopolitical and economic forces are compelling the linked industries of oil and autos to change as never before.Drawing on years of industry research-including dozens of interviews with motor and energy executives, top policymakers, and latter-day Fords and Edisons-Carson and Vaitheeswaran explain: -How Toyota became the world's largest automaker through innovation and superior performance.-Why American politicians have, for decades failed to address our energy issues and global warming-and how grassroots movements, along with individual entrepreneurs, innovators, and outsiders, are making real reform possible.-How these Green revolutionaries are creating new products powered by hydrogen, electricity, bio-fuels, and digital technology.As political leaders debate our energy, environmental and economic future, Zoom offers a lucid and visionary portrait of what that future could be.Anyone planning to vote will find compelling truth in its assertions and conclusions.

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Postby svinayak » 24 Oct 2007 10:03

The Ruling Caste: Imperial Lives in the Victorian Raj
by David Gilmour (Author)

# Hardcover: 416 pages
# Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (February 7, 2006)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0374283540
# ISBN-13: 978-0374283544

How much do we really know about the lives of the British in imperial India? Gilmour's deftly organized, encyclopedic account of the day-to-day existence of the members of the Indian Civil Service (ICS) upends the view of the British rulers as tyrannical, racist philistines, an image born out of such works as E.M. Forster's A Passage to India and advanced strenuously since postcolonial studies emerged in the 1970s. Gilmour, author of highly regarded biographies of Rudyard Kipling and Lord Curzon, assembles a wealth of light, amusing anecdotes on an astounding range of topics concerning the members of the ICS, including their college days, bad habits, job duties, gripes about the weather and courtship practices. Though lacking in analysis, the sympathetic general portrait gives a good insider's view of how these men fared in an unfamiliar and sometimes dangerous region. A firm understanding of the British mindset and playful characterizations of its idiosyncrasies provide entertainment and insight, but, lacking a central thread or thesis, the book often feels inessential. The flatness of its prose may make reading wearisome, though the breadth and care of the scholarship merit esteem. Maps, b&w photos. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
Biographer of Lord Curzon and Rudyard Kipling, Gilmour deepens his study of British imperialists with this tour of lives and careers in the Indian Civil Service (ICS), the bureaucratic bulwark of British rule of India. Within the chronological brackets of the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, Gilmour tours topics such as recruitment into the ICS, the experience of adjusting to India, and advancement up the ICS ladder. An intriguing theme is the way a civil servant was both an exile from England and a benevolent despot in India. The career of one Alfred Lyall, who arrived in 1855 and retired to England 32 years later, illustrates every topic Gilmour takes up, whether social life, methods of rule (Lyall topped out as a lieutenant governor, one tier beneath viceroy), or attitudes about the propriety of empire. Administrative history aside, social history readers have more to savor here, as Gilmour richly recovers the workaday aspects of an imperial career, from finding a wife to managing servants to seeking distractions in lonely postings. Gilbert Taylor

A sparkling, provocative history of the English in South Asia during Queen Victoria's reign

Between 1837 and 1901, less than 100,000 Britons at any one time managed an empire of 300 million people spread over the vast area that now includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma. How was this possible, and what were these people like?
The British administration in India took pride in its efficiency and broad-mindedness, its devotion to duty and its sense of imperial grandeur, but it has become fashionable to deprecate it for its arrogance and ignorance. In this balanced, witty, and multi-faceted history, David Gilmour goes far to explain the paradoxes of the "Anglo-Indians," showing us what they hoped to achieve and what sort of society they thought they were helping to build.

The Ruling Caste principally concerns the officers of the legendary India Civil Service--each of whom to perform as magistrate, settlement officer, sanitation inspector, public-health officer, and more for the million or so people in his charge. Gilmour extends his study to every level of the administration and to the officers' women and children, so often ignored in previous works.

The Ruling Caste is the best book yet on the real trials and triumphs of an imperial ruling class; on the dangerous temptations that an empire's power encourages; on relations between governor and governed, between European and Asian. No one interested in politics and social history can afford to miss this book.

About the Author
David Gilmour is the author of many works of literary and political history, including Curzon: Imperial Statesman (FSG, 2003) and The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling (FSG, 2002). He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and four children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Excerpted from The Ruling Caste by David Gilmour. Copyright © 2005 by David Gilmour. Published February 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.


During their brief momentous period of collaboration, Joseph Stalin and Joachim von Ribbentrop agreed that it was absurd that so much of the world should be ruled by Great Britain. In particular, the Russian leader told the Nazi Foreign Minister, it was ‘ridiculous…that a few hundred Englishmen should dominate India’.1 He was referring to the men of the Indian Civil Service (ICS).

The statistic alone seems ridiculous. In 1901, when Queen Victoria died, the ‘few hundred’ numbered just over a thousand, of whom a fifth were at any time either sick or on leave. Yet they administered directly (in British India) or indirectly (in the princely states) a population of nearly 300 million people spread over the territory of modern India, Pakistan, Burma and Bangladesh.

Stalin’s grumble contained perhaps a touch of tacit admiration. More explicit praise came from earlier foreign leaders who, like him, had been in search of empires to rule. Bismarck thought Britain’s work in India would be ‘one of its lasting monuments’, while Theodore Roosevelt told the British they had done ‘such marvellous things in India’ that they might ‘gradually, as century succeeds century…transform the Indian population, not in blood, probably not in speech, but in government and culture, and thus leave [their] impress as Rome did hers on Western Europe’. 2

It is not difficult to find foreign eulogies of British civil servants in India, from the French Abbé Dubois, who in 1822 extolled their ‘uprightness of character, education and ability’, to the Austrian Baron Hübner who in 1886 ascribed the ‘miracles’ of British administration to ‘the devotion, intelligence, the courage, the perseverance, and the skill combined with an integrity proof against all temptation, of a handful of officials and magistrates who govern and administer the Indian Empire’. 3 Similar tributes can also be found in unexpected places in Britain. Lloyd George, the Liberal leader, lauded the Service as ‘the steel frame’ that held everything together, while John Strachey, the Labour minister, judged it the ‘least corruptible…ablest and…most respectable of all the great bureaucracies of the world’. 4

The same words recur again and again, even from Indian nationalists and their newspapers at the end of the nineteenth century: impartial, high—minded, conscientious, incorruptible. The ICS may have had its critics—even within its own ranks—but about its elevated standards there was no argument. N.B. Bonarjee, a member of the Service but also an Indian nationalist, praised ‘its rectitude, its sense of justice, its tolerance, its sense of public duty’, as well as ‘its high administrative ability’. 5 After independence in 1947, the new nations of Pakistan and India each displayed pride in its traditions. While in Karachi a Government pamphlet proclaimed that the Pakistan Civil Service was the ‘successor’ of the ICS, ‘the most distinguished Civil Service in the world’, in Delhi the Home Minister, Vallabhbhai Patel, used it as a model for the Indian Administrative Service, a body that played a crucial role in the integration and unification of the new state. Even at the beginning of the twenty—first century retired members of the IAS were recalling the exploits of their British predecessors with almost embarrassing effusiveness. 6

The high reputation of the ICS was never reflected in the literature of the country where most of its members were born. This was no doubt partly because civil servants do not make exciting characters in fiction, even when they do much of their work on horseback. During the existence of the Raj they sometimes appeared in the novels of largely forgotten authors such as Alexander Allardyce, Flora Annie Steel, W. W. Hunter, Edward Thompson and A. E. W. Mason. More recently they have featured in the fiction of three winners of the Booker Prize, although not in any leading role except in J. G. Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur, a historical novel about the Indian Mutiny. In Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s Heat and Dust the civil servant is a hapless figure whose wife has an affair with the local nawab, while in Paul Scott’s The Jewel in the Crown he is an uncomfortable liberal who disavows his predecessors and is limited to a brief appearance in a single volume of the Raj Quartet.

Scott’s work, criticized both by Indian nationalists and by British conservatives, is a brilliant portrait of the Raj in its closing years. Yet it is limited not only in time but also in the range of its British characters, who (apart from some missionaries) are nearly all connected to the Army. Rudyard Kipling painted a fuller and richer picture of the Raj at its zenith, but this too is restricted in scope, mainly because he lived nearly all his time in the Punjab and left India at the age of 23. He also took most of his characters from the military (with a preference for NCOs and Other Ranks), and distributed his civilians in professions as diverse as forestry and engineering. Some of Kipling’s few civil servants are strong men, dedicated paternalists obsessed with duty and the welfare of Indians. But others are pedantic or frivolous or impractical. In his story ‘Tod’s Amendment’ he gave a 6—year—old boy more understanding of agricultural tenancies than the Legal Member of the Viceroy’s Council.

Although Kipling was the principal chronicler of British India, the most enduring effigy of its administrators was carved by E. M. Forster in A Passage to India. The two writers approached the Subcontinent from angles that could hardly have been more different. Kipling was born in India and returned at the age of 16 to earn his living as a journalist in Lahore. Forster had already published most of his novels by the time he sailed for Bombay in search of India and Indian friendships. There was nothing in his background, character or outlook that predisposed him to look favourably on the Raj. Indeed several of his friends in the Bloomsbury Group had abandoned their traditional family links with imperial rule.[*] They even persuaded one of their members, Rex Partridge, the son and nephew of ICS officials, to change his name to the less regal—sounding Ralph. 8

A Passage to India is a subtle and in certain ways sensitive work, a well—crafted drama with an evocative sense of place and some plausible Indian characters. But its author’s loathing of the British in India—a feeling he confessed to in private9—turned it into a tendentious political novel, at any rate for many of his contemporary readers. Kipling was fascinated by other men’s professions and wrote numerous stories about work; so was Scott, who diligently carried out research into how the British had administered India. But Forster was seldom interested in writing about work; he preferred portraying people at their leisure or in their domesticity in Florence and the Home Counties. He did not see civil servants inspecting hospitals or canals but witnessed them relaxing at ‘the Club’, where he judged them philistine and stupid. Then he turned them into caricatures. His District Officer, Turton, is pompous and absurd and wants ‘to flog every native’ in sight as soon as there is a crisis; his memsahibs are even worse, crude stereotypes, compounds of nothing but snobbery and racial prejudice. Their actions are seldom more credible than their characters. Forster makes them react to an obscure incident in a cave as if it had been a minor massacre. They gather at the club and make semi—hysterical suggestions about calling out the Army, ‘clearing the bazaars’ and sending the women and children to the hills. There is almost nothing believable about the scene at the club or about the arrest and trial of Aziz, where Forster’s ignorance of administration and judicial procedure let him down again. Yet these events, described in fiction and depicted in film, form one of the most abiding images of British India.

The principal historical portrait is a kinder one. Fifty years ago, a former civil servant, Philip Mason, published (under the pseudonym Philip Woodruff) his two volumes of The Men Who Ruled India, The Founders and The Guardians. They are the work of a wise man and a talented writer who wrote affectionately yet sometimes critically of a Service which had on the whole, he thought, justified its reputation for altruism and benevolent rule. Although regularly and unfairly denounced by post—colonial critics as hagiography, it is the work on the subject best known to non—academic readers.

Two historiograpical developments in the late 1970s changed academic attitudes towards the Service. The most important was the publication in 1978 of Edward Said’s Orientalism, a hugely influential book that spawned legions of disciples, in India and elsewhere, who took it for granted that colonial rule was always evil and colonialist motives were invariably bad. The other was a sudden interest shown by a number of North American historians in demolishing the reputation of the ICS. In 1976 Bradford Spangenberg published a thesis claiming that the Service was obsessed with status and promotion and declaring that, as a result of his ‘scrutiny of the characteristics and motivations of British officials’, he had destroyed the ‘myths’ of its efficiency and ‘self—sacrificial esprit de corps’.

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Postby svinayak » 24 Oct 2007 20:04

A History of Modern India 1480-1950
Edited by Claude Markovits

A History of Modern India
Hardback 9781843310044

Paperback 9781843311522
Publication Date: April 2004


This volume concerns the social, economic and political history of India from the Mughals to the Raj.

'A History of Modern India' provides a comprehensive chronological analysis of India's vibrant and diverse history. As well as examining the evolution of the relationship between the society and the state in its various economic, social, cultural and political forms, 'A History of Modern India' analyses the major empires in modern India from the Moghuls to the Raj, and discusses the economic, social and intellectual dynansm that accompanied intervening periods of political fragmentation. The book explores the difficulties confronting the rise of Indian nationalism and the consequent confrontation between religious communities: what should have been the crowning victory of a pacifist anti-colonial movement was instead brutally resolved with the violence of Partition in 1947.

'A History of Modern 1480-1950 the best single volume of South Asian history currently available.'

'This darkly original text deserves to be on every reading list on Indian history.'
History: The Journal of the Historical Association

'An impressively scholarly and immensely detailed chronological text of the rich and diverse history of India from the Mughuls to the Rajï a welcome and strongly recommended contribution'
Library Bookwatch

‘An ambitious textbook collection … there is a wealth of material in A History of Modern India.’
The Round Table.


As well as analysing the major empires of modern India, from the Mughals to the Raj, A History of Modern India considers the economic, social and intellectual dynamism that accompanied intervening periods of political fragmentation, such as the 80 years that separated the Mughal and the British regimes. Finally, the book explores the difficulties confronting the rise of Indian nationalism and the consequent confrontation between religious communities: what should have been the crowning victory of a pacifist anticolonial movement was instead resolved tragically with the violence of Partition in 1947.

About Authors, Editors, and Contributors

Claude Markovits is Director of Research at CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) and is Director of the Centre d’Etudes de L’Inde et de L’Asie du Sud, L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes Sciences Sociales, France

Dr Genevieve Bouchon, Director of Research (CNRS Paris), Doctor in History (Paris Sorbonne), Associated Professor and Doctor Honoris Causa Universidade Nova (Lisbon Portugal).

Marc Gaborieau, Director of Research at CNRS, Director of Studies at EHESS.

Christophe Jaffrelot, Research Coordinator at CNRS (CERI).

Christophe Jaffrelot, Research Coordinator at CNRS (CERI).

Jacques Pouchepadass, Director of Research at CNRS.

Jacques Weber, Master of Conferences at the University of Nantes.

Table of Contents
List of maps
Contributors to this volume

At the turn of the sixteenth century
I A changing world
II The Indian states: the sultanates
III The Indian states: the kingdoms
IV The newcomers


The Mogul Empire (1556–1739)
V Akbar and the construction of the empire (1556–1605)
VI Mogul splendour: The successors of Akbar (1605–1707)
VII The empire in its prosperity
VIII Maritime economy and the trading companies
IX Society and culture
X The disintegration of the Mogul Empire (1707–39)

India between two empires (1739–1818)
XI The successor states (1739–61)
XII French India and Franco-British rivalry (until 1761)
XIII The British conquest of Bengal (1757–84)
XIV The birth of the British Empire in India (1765–1818)

India in transition (from the end of the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century)
XV The beginnings of the Raj (1818–58)
XVI The agrarian economy and rural society (1790–1860)
XVII Merchants and cities (1760–1860)
XVIII Cultural and religious transformations (1780–1857)

From the British Indian Empire to Independence (1858–1950)
XIX The Colonial state and Indian society (1858–1914)
XX The decline of the empire and the rise of nationalism (1914–42)
XXI Princely India (1858–1950)
XXII The world of the countryside (1860–1950)
XXIII Trade, industries, cities (1860–1950)
XXIV Socio-religious reforms and nationalism (1870–1948)
XXV The end of the British Empire in India

On the margins of the Empire
XXVI French India (nineteenth–twentieth century)
XXVII Sri Lanka: specificities and similarities

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Postby ramana » 25 Oct 2007 00:19

Nicolas Taleb on Randomness

You Can't Predict Who Will Change The World
Nassim Nicholas Taleb 05.24.07, 6:00 AM ET

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Before the discovery of Australia, Europeans thought that all swans were white, and it would have been considered completely unreasonable to imagine swans of any other color. The first sighting of a black swan in Australia, where black swans are, in fact, rather common, shattered that notion. The moral of this story is that there are exceptions out there, hidden away from our eyes and imagination, waiting to be discovered by complete accident. What I call a "Black Swan" is an exceptional unpredictable event that, unlike the bird, carries a huge impact.

It's impossible for the editors of to predict who will change the world, because major changes are Black Swans, the result of accidents and luck. But we do know who society's winners will be: those who are prepared to face Black Swans, to be exposed to them, to recognize them when they show up and to rigorously exploit them.

Things, it turns out, are all too often discovered by accident--but we don't see that when we look at history in our rear-view mirrors. The technologies that run the world today (like the Internet, the computer and the laser) are not used in the way intended by those who invented them. Even academics are starting to realize that a considerable component of medical discovery comes from the fringes, where people find what they are not exactly looking for. It is not just that hypertension drugs led to **** or that angiogenesis drugs led to the treatment of macular degeneration, but that even discoveries we claim come from research are themselves highly accidental. They are the result of undirected tinkering narrated after the fact, when it is dressed up as controlled research. The high rate of failure in scientific research should be sufficient to convince us of the lack of effectiveness in its design.

If the success rate of directed research is very low, though, it is true that the more we search, the more likely we are to find things "by accident," outside the original plan. Only a disproportionately minute number of discoveries traditionally came from directed academic research. What academia seems more masterful at is public relations and fundraising.

This is good news--for some. Ignore what you were told by your college economics professor and consider the following puzzle. Whenever you hear a snotty European presenting his stereotypes about Americans, he will often describe them as "unintellectual," "uneducated," and "poor in math," because, unlike European schooling, American education is not based on equation drills and memorization.

Yet the person making these statements will likely be addicted to his iPod, wearing a T-shirt and blue jeans, and using Microsoft Word to jot down his "cultural" statements on his Intel-based PC, with some Google searches on the Internet here and there interrupting his composition. If old enough, he might also be using ****.

America's primary export, it appears, is trial-and-error, and the innovative knowledge attained in such a way. Trial-and-error has error in it; and most top-down traditional rational and academic environments do not like the fallibility of "error" and the embarrassment of not quite knowing where they're going. The U.S. fosters entrepreneurs and creators, not exam-takers, bureaucrats or, worse, deluded economists. So the perceived weakness of the American pupil in conventional studies is where his or her very strength may lie. The American system of trial and error produces doers: Black Swan-hunting, dream-chasing entrepreneurs, with a tolerance for a certain class of risk-taking and for making plenty of small errors on the road to success or knowledge. This environment also attracts aggressive tinkering foreigners like this author.

Globalization allowed the U.S. to specialize in the creative aspect of things, the risk-taking production of concepts and ideas--that is, the scalable part of production, in which more income can be generated from the same fixed assets through innovation. By exporting jobs, the U.S. has outsourced the less scalable and more linear components of production, assigning them to the citizens of more mathematical and culturally rigid states, who are happy to be paid by the hour to work on other people's ideas.

Let us go one step further. It is high time to recognize that we humans are far better at doing than understanding, and better at tinkering than inventing. But we don't know it. We truly live under the illusion of order believing that planning and forecasting are possible. We are scared of the random, yet we live from its fruits. We are so scared of the random that we create disciplines that try to make sense of the past--but we ultimately fail to understand it, just as we fail to see the future.

The current discourse in economics, for example, is antiquated. American undirected free-enterprise works because it aggressively allows us to capture the randomness of the environment--the cheap Black Swans. This works not just because of competition, and even less because of material incentives. Neither the followers of Adam Smith nor those of Karl Marx seem to be conscious of the prevalence and effect of wild randomness. They are too bathed in enlightenment-style cause-and-effect and cannot accept that skills and payoffs may have nothing to do with one another. Nor can they swallow the argument that it is not necessarily the better technology that wins, but rather, the luckiest one. And, sadly, even those who accept this fundamental uncertainty often fail to see that it is a good thing.

Random tinkering is the path to success. And fortunately, we are increasingly learning to practice it without knowing it--thanks to overconfident entrepreneurs, naive investors, greedy investment bankers, confused scientists and aggressive venture capitalists brought together by the free-market system.

We need more tinkering: Uninhibited, aggressive, proud tinkering. We need to make our own luck. We can be scared and worried about the future, or we can look at it as a collection of happy surprises that lie outside the path of our imagination.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is an applied statistician and derivatives trader-turned-philosopher, and author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

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Postby ramana » 31 Oct 2007 00:26

Book Review Pioneer, 31 Oct., 2007
Drawing the line of distrust

The book analyses how subedars, saudagars and sufis have influenced India's relations with Pakistan, writes Atul Mishra

India and Pakistan: Pathways Ahead, Amitabh Mattoo, Kapil Kak and Happymon Jacob (ed), KW Publishers, Rs 840

For observers and students of international politics, the final quarter of the 20th century was truly overwhelming. It was impossible to remain focussed on either a region or an issue given the sheer scale at which almost every incident seemed connected to every other.

Fresh from a debacle in Vietnam, the US soon lost its 'policeman of the Gulf', the Shah of Iran, who was overthrown by the Islamic revolutionaries of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. Two years earlier, Gen Zia-ul-Haq had come to power in Pakistan. And few weeks after Khomeini became Islamic Iran's supreme leader, the sclerotic Leonid Brezhnev gave in to the age-old Russian temptation -- Afghanistan.

South Asia had once again become the chess-board of great-power politics. As in the past, Afghans resisted. The US furtively ensured that the Soviet Army, too, suffered its 'Vietnam'. It was well assisted by Gen Zia, who was equally sceptical of Pakistan's religiosity quotient. As the Afghan adventure took its toll on Moscow, Mikhail Gorbachev caved in. The Soviet Army withdrew. Soon the USSR collapsed, the Cold War ended and the theatre of conflict changed capitals: From Kabul to Kashmir.

Insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir, which began in 1989, was a new chapter in a series of crises that the Indian state had been facing through the decade. As the conflict matured, the early 1990s inaugurated what many have reasonably called the "organic crisis" of the Indian state. Pakistan-India relations, hyphenated for over four decades, had stooped to an all time low.

The diplomatic push of 1996-97 was neutralised by the nuclear tests of 1998 and the Kargil conflict of 1999, which came barely months after Atal Bihari Vajpayee's bus ride to Lahore. Gen Pervez Musharraf ousted Nawaz Sharif in October that year, honouring the Pakistan Army's tradition. The Agra Summit of July 2001 produced little results. It took two terrorist attacks, one on the US and another on Indian Parliament in September and December that year for a decisive and positive shift in the relationship between the two countries. The hackneyed "eye-ball-to-eye-ball" positioning of the two Armies in early 2002 notwithstanding, Pakistan and India have since displayed a remarkable patience and understanding as they craft a common ground for reconciliation.

At this juncture, questions beckon us. What is the nature of this peace process? What are the two countries willing to forego to achieve a lasting peace? Why and how will this peace process sustain? Are the two countries finally getting rid of their historical baggage, and for good? What role has the international community to play in this ambitious effort? And what is in store for the people of Jammu & Kashmir?

India and Pakistan: Pathways Ahead is a compendium of essays that thoroughly discusses these questions. With contributions from some of the most ardent and insightful Pakistan students in India's strategic, academic and journalistic communities, this is a very useful collection. A contribution each from Pakistan's distinguished nuclear physicist and peace activist, Pervez Hoodbhoy, and French expert on South Asia Frédéric Grare add diversity to the book.

Traditionally, Amitabh Mattoo informs us, the debate in India about its approach to Pakistan has been informed by three shades of opinion: The Subedars (the realist soldiers), the Saudagars (the neo-liberal economic elites) and the Sufis (the idealist peaceniks).

While the subedars have supported the policy of aggressively countering Pakistan, the saudagars have suggested that India must ignore Pakistan and move ahead to reap the benefits of economic globalisation. It is only the peaceniks who have consistently argued for an active peace process with the difficult neighbour.

Historically, the hyper-realists have dominated India's policy vis-à-vis Pakistan. The neo-liberal view gained currency after the country's impressive economic advance. Mattoo suggests that all the three opinions will have to converge to produce a "grand reconciliation" with Pakistan.

The Indian strategic community now finds itself confident enough to back the state's peace initiatives. This could only happen, as various contributors to the edition point out, because the peace process that began in early 2004 has become self-sustaining. Indeed, despite allegations of Pakistan's continuing support to terrorists and Kashmiri insurgents and terror blasts in New Delhi, and last year's Mumbai train bombings, India and Pakistan have continued the composite dialogue process.

This change, the editors point out, is due to two specific developments between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir front. One, important stake-holders in the conflict have ruled out any alteration of the border. Two, parties to the dispute have sketched out a rough map of the settlement of the Kashmir issue. It is in this light that Gen Musharraf's "out-of-the-box" solution and the two countries' insistence that the peace process is "irreversible" must be viewed.

It is also admirable that most contributors have given due credit to historical legacy of the relationship. Kalim Bahadur's restructuring of the evolutionary narrative of the conflict provides a swift look at the events of past century, though he despairs the Pakistan Army's hold over its politics. Similarly, Malini Parthasarathy engagingly capsules the Pakistan policy of the current UPA and the previous NDA Governments. From strategic perspective, Jasjit Singh's comprehensive treatment of nuclear stability in the region and its complexities and Rajesh Rajgopalan's analytical treatment of the security discourse emerging from India and Pakistan are exceptional.

Despite the vastness of literature on India-Pakistan relations, most books showcase crass polemics rather than analytical rigour. Even if polemics are kept aside, nationalism often prevents writers from offering a fair account. India and Pakistan: Pathways Ahead avoids both impediments with some degree of success. Its analysis is both lucid and intelligible.

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Postby Paul » 31 Oct 2007 00:59

Ramana: What is the background of the authors.

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Postby ramana » 31 Oct 2007 01:16

Amitabh Mattoo is JNU prof of Inlt Relations. He was on first NSAB. Kashmiri by birth. He was against the tests in 1998 but once he saw the intl opposition against the tests he was for them.

Dr Kak is former IAF officer. Probably Kashmiri.

The last person I dont know.

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Postby JE Menon » 31 Oct 2007 01:43

Happymon Jacob is almost certainly a mallu - no one else would dare name their son that.

Happymon translates roughly into "Happy boy". Never heard of this chap before.

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Postby hnair » 31 Oct 2007 01:48

JE Menon wrote:Happymon Jacob is almost certainly a mallu - no one else would dare name their son that.

Happymon translates roughly into "Happy boy". Never heard of this chap before.

JEM-saar, isnt "mon" or kutty more like "son"? Eg: Johnson or Abrahamson type.

But Happymon. That is new territory even for malluland, where 80 year old "Baby Thomas"es roam freely :D

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Postby JE Menon » 31 Oct 2007 02:04

Happy son? Sure, just as applicable.

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Postby ramana » 31 Oct 2007 02:13

JEM He is legit. Good man

HAPPYMON JACOB is currently a Lecturer at the Centre for Strategic and Regional Studies, University of Jammu. He was formerly a Research Associate with the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation. He was also a part of the Human Security in India project at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.


Rise, Fall and resurgence of Taleban

The Taliban were god-like figures for a war-torn country's war-weary people. They promised to rid the country of anarchy, lawlessness and disintegration and thus earned the support of Afghans. The Talibans were defeated, or so we were told, by the Americans when the Frankenstein came back to haunt them. The Taliban were consigned to the dustbin history, or so we thought, when Hamid Karzai was anointed as the newest ruler in Kabul.

However, if lessons of history, canons of geo-strategy and reports from Afghanistan are anything to go by, Taliban were not done away with, not by default or by design. The author rejects the widely-believed argument that the Taliban movement has been defeated once for all.

The author claims that the endgame in Afghanistan is likely to be an eventual induction of the Taliban elements into the Afghan government by way of a consensus reached among Pakistan, the US and Karzai. However, in the course of time such a status-quo is unlikely to ensure. Pakistan's internal and geo-strategic compulsions will prompt it to advocate for more and more space for the Taliban in the Afghan government.

In short, this study is an in-depth analysis of the reasion d'etre of the rise, fall and resurgence of the Taliban.

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Postby kshirin » 04 Nov 2007 23:04

Assault on Reason by Al Gore, an excellent dissection of the dumbing down of America and the subseuqent ease of manipulation.

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Postby csharma » 05 Nov 2007 01:07

Any good books on Indian history by Indian authors? What do people think of John Keay's book on Indian history?

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Postby kobeyashi » 05 Nov 2007 01:18

kshirin wrote:Assault on Reason by Al Gore, an excellent dissection of the dumbing down of America and the subseuqent ease of manipulation.

That would be an interesting read, given that the Democrats/Liberals have lead the dumbing down of America in a big way. Sure, many of the things they supported have been instrumental in Americans enjoying liberties irrespective of colour or ethnic origin (Civil Liberties for eg), but the extreme political correctness and dhimmification is also a result of Gore's brand of politics.

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Postby Atish » 05 Nov 2007 01:38

Al Gore is a mental pygmy himself. His diatribe on global warming is itself a contributor to dumbing down by emphasis on emotion over facts and reason.

A long time ago I had a Saudi friend who said Al Gore was the worst candidate possible. At that time it was his vested interests speaking. Only now I realize the wisdom in his words.



Postby Raju » 05 Nov 2007 18:28

Among the believers
An expatriate Pakistani intellectual's flawed speech for the post-September 11 Islamic soul

Journey Into Islam: The Crisis Of Globalization
By Akbar S .Ahmed
Brookings Institution Press

By Saeed Naqvi

Folks from the subcontinent, who take up residence in the United States and within a few years begin to refer to themselves in their public pronouncements as "we Americans", never fail to amaze me. Akbar Ahmed, author of Journey Into Islam: The Crisis Of Globalizatin, is a Pakistani who has yielded to this temptation. Ahmed has been Pakistan's High Commissioner in London for a few months, prior to which he was dabbling in a fawning documentary on Jinnah.

In indicating a preference for London, Ahmed follows a long tradition of Pakistani politicians, intellectuals and poets. Journey Into Islam came to fruition after Ahmed made Washington DC his home. It was while he taught there that 9/11 happened. He had the brilliant idea of picking up two of his students of Jewish and Christian extraction, to travel with him to Muslim countries of the Middle East, South-East Asia and South Asia. Some trusts coughed up the money and off the trio went, incorporating other young scholars along the way. Ahmed begins the narrative from the famous Islamic seminary, Deoband in Uttar Pradesh. Take this description of his journey: "I began my journey on this isolated, narrow road, several hours from Delhi. If we were taken hostage or chopped up into little bits, I whispered to my young American team, no one will know about it for atleast two weeks." What a horrible cliche of a joke. On the drive to Deoband, seated in front is on eof the institute's important functionaries, Aijaz Qasmi. Hally Woldt, on of Ahmed's companions (the other is Frankie Martin) scribbles a note to Ahmed in indignation: "He won't look at me." This gives Ahmed the opportunity to explain, "As a Muslim I understood that for him this was orthodox."

There are some fixations Ahmed cannot avoid: one is himself. Across the pages we are reminded on countless occassions what various interlocutors thought of him. His second fixatin is Jinnah. He cannot resist the temptation of asking all and sundry if Jinnah fits the bill as a modern Muslim leader. Maulana Azad does not figure in his calculus even as an intellectual. Ahmed has very neatly (in some way innacurately) drawn up three Muslim models: Deoband, Aligarh and Ajmeri. Even for uninitiated
Americans, the classification is inadequate. By Deoband he means wahabbis, the source of all our Jihadi troubles - Osama bin laden et al. But he does nto say it in so many words. By Aligarh model, he means Sir Sayyad's pursuit of western education as salvation for the community. the Quran, Sir Sayyad implied, is God's word for all ages and can therefore be reinterpreted in the light of contemproray circumstances. When Mustafa Kamal Pasha Ataturk adopted Swiss Law as the Personal Law for Turks, he meant exactly this: the Prophet would have recommended the most enlightened law available. By the Ajmeri School he means Sufism. The reference is to Moinuddin Chisti, the great Sufi saint, whose shrine is in Ajmer, Sufism, which spread in India alongside Bhakti from the 12th century, became the earliest powerful Islamic influence on the subcontinent.

Ahmed lumps Maulana Maududi, founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, with Deoband, which is a mistake. he is shy of elaborating on Wahabism: the does not even name Saudi Arabia as the country of origin of the 9/11 hijackers. Nor does he enlighten us about Iran, currently in the eye of a storm. In his concluding chapters he establishes how Muslims in various Islamic countries are out-of-sync with their rulers.

What is the solution? Well, more such travels by Ahmed. The remarkable conversion of Qasmi of Deoband is a result of Ahmed's exertion. When Qasmi first guided the trio to Deoband, he though of killing of American and Israeli women and children was part of Jihad. But during the following week he heard the voice of sanity, i.e. Ahmed addressing variuos Muslim gatherings in India. Just when the author was about to depart, a transformed Qasmi offered to translate into Urdu Ahmed's earlier book, Islam under siege.

This book is a fund of useful conversations with various leaders and muslim clerics. But the ultimate cure for our troubled times is for Ahmed to hit the road with his students, throughout the muslim world, and one by one transform many more Qasmis into interfaith specialists. He does not say so, but he means it.

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Postby SSridhar » 11 Nov 2007 09:02

Book review: by Khaled Ahmed

Shopping for Bombs:

Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity and the Rise and Fall of the AQ Khan Network

By Gordon Corera

Foundation Books New Delhi 2006


Correspondent for BBC News, Gordon Corera, may have provided in this book the first clue to the death of General Zia in 1988. The most important disclosure is that AQ Khan sold his first nuclear secrets to Iran in 1987, quite possibly without the permission of ruler of Pakistan, General Zia, who was then siding with the Gulf Arabs against Iran after the latter had begun to threaten them upon coming to power in 1979. He also discovers that while Zia may not have been privy to the sale to Iran, some others from within his military establishment could be involved.

General Zia-ul Haq came to power in 1977 and was killed in an air-crash in 1988 at the peak of Shia killings in Pakistan. It was widely believed in Pakistan that his death was engineered by the Shia community in revenge. Zia began Islamising the country under the tutelage of Saudi Arabia. By 1980 the first Islamic laws of the sharia he enforced were backed by Saudi Arabia who sent special advisers at the time of framing them. In 1979, Iran went through its Islamic Revolution. Around the Gulf, the Arab states feared this development because most of them had Shia minorities they were not treating well.

Gordon Corera says Pakistan’s nuclear scientist and head of the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) Dr AQ Khan was using Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as a base for meeting his suppliers. It is here in 1987 that he made a sale of crucial drawings and designs of a tested nuclear plant and received three million dollars in Swiss francs from the Iranian party (p 59-60).

Was this deal with Iran concluded with the consent of General Zia who was in the process of ‘reining in the Shias’ in Pakistan? If he had given AQ Khan the go-ahead, did he realise that Saudi Arabia might get wind of it and retaliate against him? Is it possible that the nuclear sale was made without his approval, that he came to know of it or was about to know it and might have acted against AQ Khan and his allies in the military establishment? And that he died because he had got close to the information in August 1988 about who had made the deal?

Corera wonders if the deal with Iran was ‘official’ or done without the knowledge of the ‘government’ — which was General Zia in 1987, prime minister Junejo being more or less a puppet by reason of the 8th Amendment in the Constitution passed by parliament which allowed Zia to dismiss him at his discretion. He records the official Iranian delegations — there was one led by President Ali Khamenei who was very keen to build the Iranian bomb — which must have clearly asked Zia for ‘cooperation’. But the ‘deal’ in 1987 was concluded by a relative of AQ Khan in Dubai. This might point to Zia’s reluctance to give the Iranians what they wanted in full public view, especially that of the Arabs, who had already reacted with alarm to the nuclear ambition of a friendly Shah in the 1970s.

Corera makes the following interesting observation: ‘But would Pakistan really want to see a neighbour with nuclear weapons? A few individuals might but not the whole government over an extended period. In essence, it appears that Khan could have received tacit approval and support from a small number of senior individuals but may have continued and deepened the relationship on his — or his network’s — initiative’ (p.73).

Then he provides a pen-sketch of General Aslam Beg: ‘During the mid to late 1980s, when Pakistan and Iran were moving closer together and nuclear dealings began, General Mirza Aslam Beg was first vice chief from 1987 and then from 1988 to 1991, chief of the army staff...As soon as he became vice chief he was ‘made privy’ to the nuclear programme for the first time. He supported a more overt nuclear policy and greater distancing from the United States and the West. According to his own writings, Beg thought in terms of ‘democratising’ the global nuclear non-proliferation order and moving to a multipolar world, which he believed would be safer than either a bipolar Cold War world or a unipolar world of American power...Beg and AQ Khan were close friends and political allies and shared many of the same views’ (p.74).

The dossier published by London’s International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) this year on AQ Khan takes note of the fact that he told his interrogators that he proliferated in favour of the Islamic world, but it rejects the claim because of his proliferation efforts in North Korea. What the dossier finds more convincing was the tendency to proliferate in favour of those states that defied the United States in particular and the West in general. This brought his thinking close to the ‘strategic defiance’ doctrine of General Aslam Beg. In the case of both men, the general ‘guiding principle’ did not prevent them from personal enrichment. In the case of AQ Khan, two reprimands administered by General Zia to him for boasting about enrichment to the weapons’ level in 1984 and 1987 may have strengthened his tendency to defiance based on resentment against Zia.

After the death of General Zia, his son kept accusing General Aslam Beg of having killed his father. In 1993, the Justice Shafiur Rehman Commission Report on Zia’s death — now classified as secret — was inconclusive, pleading obstruction from the army. The ISI, under the new COAS General Asif Nawaz, published its own 34-page ‘parallel’ findings in a Karachi weekly Takbeer (20 August 1992), which its editor Muhammad Salahuddin — assassinated mysteriously in 1994 — submitted to the Justice Shafiur Rehman Commission as evidence that ‘senior army officers were involved in the killing of General Zia in an air crash in Bahawalpur in 1988’.

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Postby ramana » 11 Nov 2007 23:48

Book Review
India's Defining Decade

Sreeram Chaulia
October 31, 2007

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Postby svinayak » 12 Nov 2007 00:58

ramana wrote:Book Review
India's Defining Decade

Sreeram Chaulia
October 31, 2007
It was clear to Talbot, writing in 1950, that "hatred of India is the cement that holds Pakistan together" (p.368). Confronting restlessness in Pakistan's northwest, officials confided in the author that "it will be easier to let the tribes go again into Kashmir than to hold them in leash" (p.373). Pakistan considered it beneficial to "beat the drum of resumption of war," since "the more frightened other nations became, the more likely they are to apply pressure for an early solution of the Kashmir problem" (p.388).

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Postby sanjaychoudhry » 12 Nov 2007 00:58

csharma wrote:Any good books on Indian history by Indian authors? What do people think of John Keay's book on Indian history?

I am reading it currently. There are some subtle undercurrents. One is his obsession with caste of every Hindu king from Alexandar's invasion onward. This is hilarious since no one has any idea how and when the caste as we know it today began or how rigid was caste system in the past. Caste system was not there in ancient or medieval or Mughal ages.

He often mistakes varna for caste and imagines that caste was as rigid and sharply defined since beginning of Vedic age. Adn then he starts interpreting or guessing caste of every king of ancient India. In my view, the Brits made Indian caste system rigid and hierarchical as they mistook it to be a similar system as classes in 19th century Europe.

Second is Keay's subtle pooh-poohing of India's classical age, especially of the Guptas. I have only reached till India's early Muslim invasions.

It is a well written book but he does indulge in kite flying at places, trying to cram his pet "caste system" into everything. The guy assumes that caste as we know it today existed since existed like it is today since the last 3000 years and never evolved.

The most inusfferable quote of his I found to be when he claims that India's properity and social stability during Gupta times was based on a suffocating caste sytem. Then he is trying to translate Hindu "Dharma" as "Dhamma" of Buddhists. He is quite confused at places as if he cannot comprehend the complexity of India's society and culture.

IT is a pity we are forced to read half-baked history books written by outsiders of other races, while our natioanlist historians are not articulate enough while the insititutional historians are all communists writing ideologically motivated garbage.

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Postby svinayak » 12 Nov 2007 01:02

sanjaychoudhry wrote:
csharma wrote:Any good books on Indian history by Indian authors? What do people think of John Keay's book on Indian history?

I am reading it currently. There are some subtle undercurrents. One is his obsession with caste of every Hindu king from Alexandar's invasion onward. This is hilarious since no one has any idea how and when the caste as we know it today began or how rigid was caste system in the past. Caste system was not there in ancient or medieval or Mughal ages.

His book is a revisionist history and a colonial view of India. That is the real problem.

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Postby csharma » 12 Nov 2007 01:11

Actually John Keay's agenda becomes known in the last chapter in which there is a section called saffron revolution. He thinks there was actual dissent as far as nuclear tests of 98 were concerned and cites Arundhati Roy's case.
I should not have bought this book. That's why I am looking for a history book from a balanced Indian author.

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Postby svinayak » 12 Nov 2007 05:59

The Story of the Integration of the Indian States

Book by V. P. Menon; Longmans, Green, 1956. 511 pgs.
Story of the Integration of States

Free Online Book


I Setting the Stage 1

II Spokes in the Wheel 20

III The Parting Gift 46

IV Prelude to Chaos 70

V Stopping the Gap 92

VI Junagadh 124

VII The Orissa and Chattisgarh States 151

VIII Saurashtra 175

IX The Deccan and Gujarat States 199

X Vindhya Pradesh 211

XI Madhya Bharat 223

XII Patiyala and East Punjab States Union 240

XIII Rajasthan 250

XIV Travancore-Cochin 274

XV Mysore 292

XVI A Miscellany of States 297

XVII Hyderabad I 314

XVIII Hyderabad II 337

XIX Hyderabad III 369

XX Jammu and Kashmir State 390

XXI Baroda 416

XXII I Administrative Consolidation 435

II Incorporation of the States Forces
into the Indian Army 446

XXIII Financial Integration 452

XXIV Organic Unification 463

XXV The Cost of Integration 476

XXVI Retrospect and Prospect 484

Appendix I 495

Appendix II 497


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Postby svinayak » 14 Nov 2007 03:52

[quote]An American view of Partition
An American witness to India’s Partition; Phillips Talbot; Sage Publications, New Delhi; pp 440; Rs 720.00
By M.V. Kamath

PHILLIPS Talbot is almost a legendary figure in Indo-American relations. In 1938, the New York based Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) awarded the then 23-year of youngster a fellowship to undertake almost an unbelievable task: To visit South Asia, then struggling against the British, and learn about the intricacies of life in India. This was at a time when India hardly mattered to the United States and the vicious writing of Katherine Mayo—which Gandhi had described as a gutter inspector’s report—summed up the average American’s knowledge about that, to them a far-away land. At the time when he won the Fellowship he had just graduated in political science and journalism and had joined the Chicago Daily News as a local reporter. He aspired to be a foreign correspondent but was considered too young for the job. Happily, Walter S. Rogers, the ICWA’s Director, felt that Talbot was bright enough to go to South Asia and report on the “dynamics of contemporary Indiaâ€

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Postby vsudhir » 15 Nov 2007 15:21

Return to India: One Family's Journey to America and Back

For decades, it was widely assumed that the brightest Indians would go overseas to study and eventually settle there. Today, signs have begun to appear that the tide may be turning. The fact that global companies are setting up operations in India makes it easier for non-resident Indians to return home, often while remaining with the same employer. Indian students are not leaving the country as eagerly as they once did, and if they do, they go back home much faster because of the attractive professional opportunities there. Others return because they feel they are losing a connection with their past. In this special section, India Knowledge@Wharton offers one family's experience as a microcosm of the larger trend -- Bangalore-based writer Shoba Narayan's account of her family's decision to return to India, after living in the U.S. for 20 years.

Full PDF available for download at the site.

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Postby svinayak » 19 Nov 2007 01:55

The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America
by Ronald Brownstein (Author)

# Hardcover: 496 pages
# Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (November 1, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1594201390
# ISBN-13: 978-1594201394
With this intelligent and expansive book, Los Angeles Times political correspondent and columnist Brownstein dissects the hyperpartisanship that he believes has unnecessarily inflamed our differences and impeded progress against our most pressing challenges. The first half of the book examines the roots of this hyperpartisanship, beginning with the 1896 election of William McKinley, which the author argues ushered in four decades of fierce partisan division. The 1938 resurgence of the Republican Party marked the start of the age of bargaining, with presidents and legislators crossing party lines to govern through consensus. The author believes both parties became more ideologically consistent during the 1960s, resulting in a sorting out of the electorate that eventually led to today's partisan divisiveness. This thorough history lays the groundwork for Brownstein's incisive analysis of the contemporary Republican and Democratic parties. He resists blaming any one party or president for the state of contemporary American politics, instead attributing partisan divisions to interest groups, changes in congressional rules and practices and the realignment of the parties and electorate. This sophisticated though lengthy book lays out a complex history with lucid precision, painting a damning portrait of contemporary politics that's sure to provoke and captivate readers interested in American politics and history. (Nov. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

"In this vital, deeply-felt and well-argued book, a superb journalist combines his unexcelled knowledge of current-day American politics with his strong sense of history to show us how our system has degenerated - and how we might climb out of the mess."
-Michael Beschloss

"This is a masterful work - a unique blending of first-rate historical writing with penetrating contemporary analysis, which, taken together, provide fresh perspectives on how we might move beyond the partisan divisions that plague us."
-Doris Kearns Goodwin

Hooray! A clarion call for common sense. This is an important, timely, and fascinating book. Ron Brownstein describes how American politics became so polarized and partisan, explains why this is so damaging to our nation, and suggests ways we can reverse this trend. Every voter should read it right away, for the sake of our democracy. (Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute)

"For over a decade now, Los Angeles Times reporter Ron Brownstein has set the pace for smart, cutting-edge, political journalism. Now, in The Second Civil War, he delivers a sobering analysis about how shrill hyper-partisan bickering has hijacked public policy. This is a truly important Centrist Manifesto which deserves a wide audience. With all the hatred going on, this fair-minded book is a lonely bugle call from the Washington Battlefield."
-Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of The Great Deluge.

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Postby svinayak » 19 Nov 2007 02:02

Curveball: Spies, Lies, and the Con Man Who Caused a War
by Bob Drogin (Author)

# Hardcover: 368 pages
# Publisher: Random House (October 16, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1400065836
# ISBN-13: 978-1400065837
[quote]In 1999, an Iraqi refugee, soon code-named Curveball, told German intelligence agents of his work on an ongoing Iraqi program that produced biological weapons in mobile laboratories. His claims electrified the CIA, which had little good intelligence about Saddam Hussein's regime and was fixated on the threat of Iraqi WMDs, which later became a centerpiece in the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq. It was only after American occupation forces failed to find any mobile germ-warfare labs—or other WMDs—that prewar warnings about Curveball's heavy drinking and mental instability, and the nagging gaps and contradictions in his story, were taken seriously. In this engrossing account, Los Angeles Times correspondent Drogin paints an intimate and revealing portrait of the workings and dysfunctions of the intelligence community. Hobbled by internal and external turf battles and hypnotized by pet theories, the CIA—including director George Tenet, whose reputation suffers another black eye here—ignored skeptics, the author contends, and fell in love with a dubious source who told the agency and the White House what they wanted to hear. Instead of connecting the dots, Drogin argues, the CIA and its allies made up the dots. (Oct. 16)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book Description
Curveball answers the crucial question of the Iraq war: How and why was America’s intelligence so catastrophically wrong? In this dramatic and explosive book, award-winning Los Angeles Times reporter Bob Drogin delivers a narrative that takes us to Europe, the Middle East, and deep inside the CIA to find the truth–the truth about the lies and self-deception that led us into a military and political nightmare.

In 1999, a mysterious Iraqi applies for political asylum in Munich. The young chemical engineer offers compelling testimony of Saddam Hussein’s secret program to build weapons of mass destruction. He claims that the dictator has constructed germ factories on trucks, creating a deadly hell on wheels. His grateful German hosts pass his account to their CIA counterparts but deny the Americans access to their superstar informant. The Americans nevertheless give the defector his unforgettable code name: Curveball.
The case lies dormant until after 9/11, when the Bush administration turns its attention to Iraq. Determined to invade, Bush’s people seize on Curveball’s story about mobile germ labs–even though it has begun to unravel. Ignoring a flood of warnings about the informant’s credibility, the CIA allows President Bush to cite Curveball’s unconfirmed claims in a State of the Union speech. Finally, Secretary of State Colin Powell highlights the Iraqi’s “eyewitnessâ€

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Postby svinayak » 19 Nov 2007 04:50

The Practice of Power: U.S. Relations with China Since 1949.

Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995. viii + 291 pp. Bibliographic references and index. $35.00 (cloth),
ISBN 978-0-19-829292-0; $18.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-19-827878-8.
Reviewed by: Stephen G. Craft , Wen Tsao College.
Published by: H-USA (June, 1998)

Rosemary Foot, who has written two books on the Korean War, tries to explain why, after years of hostility, the United States reached a rapprochement and normalized relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the 1970s. The origins of both U.S.-PRC hostility and rapprochement were influenced by their perceptions of one another's power.

In the post-1945 period, the United States was clearly the hegemon in the international system because of its hard (military and economic strength) and soft power resources (American culture and institutions). America's resources far outweighed those of the Soviet Union. Borrowing from political scientists, Foot writes that the United States also possessed "cooptive power" in which the United States determined the rules of the system and coerced other powers to internalize American norms: "Such an internalization of norms could come about as a result of a hegemon's repeated ability to dominate events and situations, or more indirectly because of its ability to control the structure of values and meanings in a given social system" (p. 6). For example, the United States used this cooptive power as hegemon to deny the PRC legitimacy and equality of status.

Why did the United States use its power in the 1950s and 1960s to deny the PRC legitimacy and equal status? The crucial event was the Korean War in which the PRC became directly involved, throwing American forces into a humiliating retreat. Although many in Washington despised Chiang Kai-shek, the United States recognized his Republic of China (ROC), now in Taiwan, as representing all of China, and blocked PRC representation in the United Nations. As hegemon, the United States willingly and reluctantly made political concessions to its allies, some of which recognized or leaned toward recognition of Beijing, in order to secure their backing for its policy of PRC exclusion. The United States imposed and maintained a trade embargo against the PRC even though the measure was opposed by its allies and President Eisenhower, who believed the effort futile and harmful of Japan (who needed the China market) and the American taxpayer (who had to subsidize Japan's economy). Eisenhower, however, refused to rescind the trade embargo out of fear of angering Congressional leaders, especially the powerful China Lobby, who gave their full support to Chiang Kai-shek. As Foot shows, American public opinion in the 1950s overwhelmingly supported nonrecognition of Beijing, the PRC's exclusion from the United Nations, and the trade embargo because of Beijing's intervention into the Korean conflict.

In addition to Beijing's direct involvement in the Korean War, Americans were troubled by Beijing's policies which were designed to enable China to have great power status. When the PRC was established in 1949, Chinese leaders believed that the Chinese people had finally stood up after years of foreign oppression and humiliations. As Foot correctly notes, when the Chinese Communists came to power, they brought with them "a concern with concepts of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and status in the global system, a strong desire to right past wrongs, and a powerful need to be treated as an equal by the major powers" (p. 10). They also brought with them a belief that China had "to form a united front" against the power they perceived as hegemon and "contain its ambitions and ensure its decline" (p. 9). The United States was such a country since it was the power that encircled the PRC with its forces and denied China legitimacy and equality of status.

In order to fight power with power, Mao Zedong made the decision in 1949 to "lean to one side," that is, toward the Soviet Union, and soon after signed an alliance with Moscow which provided China with military assistance and Soviet advisers. China tried to play the role of a great power by increasing its international status, becoming a model of political and economic development for Third World countries as well as sending aid to African and Asian countries. Beijing was intent on increasing its power and influence in order to win legitimacy and equality. The results were mixed. On the one hand, the United States did perceive China as having "considerable military power potential" and as a "candidate great power" (p. 143). On the other hand, the PRC's increase in power only intensified American fears that China would use that power against the United States. Although America's allies increasingly wanted to recognize and engage in trade with the PRC and although there were signs that some Americans were changing their opinions of China, Foot argues that "Kennedy personally seemed to view China as a more aggressive and dangerous foe than a Soviet Union increasingly interested in detente..." (p. 96), especially when it was clear that Beijing was intent on building its own nuclear weapon. So concerned was Kennedy that he sought and failed to secure Soviet cooperation (the Soviets and Chinese had parted ways by this time) in halting China's nuclear program. (May be the reason why he was killed)

In 1964, China exploded its first atomic device. Much like the reactions of Indians and Pakistanis of late, the Chinese reaction was one of euphoria. China was now a major power to be treated with respect and not to be threatened with nuclear blackmail. Indeed, China's successful atomic test produced a number of positive effects for the semi-isolated country. Nearly all of America's allies called for the PRC's entry into the United Nations and were ready to push ahead with greater trade ties. Although initially the Johnson administration opposed flexibility toward China in light of the test, by 1967, Johnson was speaking of the "free flow of ideas and people and goods" between the United States and China. Americans increasingly supported recognition of China out of fear of Chinese power, and they wanted to reduce the Chinese threat to world peace by establishing closer ties. And in his famous 1967 Foreign Affairs article, Richard Nixon wrote that China could not remain outside the family of nations forever nor left in angry isolation.

If China's possession of nuclear weapons influenced perceptions abroad, so did the PRC's decline in power change the perceptions of American policymakers. By 1970, Washington no longer feared the PRC as a political-economic model after the failure of the Great Leap Forward in which Mao Zedong attempted to industrialize China overnight contributing to the starvation of millions of Chinese. Moreover, China's break in relations with the Soviet Union in 1960 moved the Russians to withdraw their advisers and cut off military aid, leading American military analysts to conclude that the PRC's conventional military was not that advanced and would need U.S. assistance in fending off the Soviet Union, which almost went to war with China in 1969. And China went into political isolation as a result of Mao's Cultural Revolution, which sent the country into turmoil.

By 1972, the United States was interested in seeking rapprochement. After years of expending political capital to keep the PRC out of the United Nations, the Americans were defeated in 1971 when the PRC replaced the ROC on the security council. Foot argues, though, that while this defeat reflected hegemonic decline in that the United States no longer could coerce its allies on the issue, the PRC's presence in the United Nations actually worked in America's favor because the Chinese were anti-Soviet, did not support Third World militancy, and, despite its previous revolutionary rhetoric, were quite passive (p. 51).

Then in 1972, President Nixon, who had already lifted restrictions on travel as well as the trade embargo on nonsecurity goods, made his historic visit to China, the former enemy, with a view to getting an ally against their common foe, the Soviet Union. For the Americans, taking on China as an ally meant that "U.S. containment policy had shifted from the containment of communism to containment of the Soviet Union" (p. 141). Because the PRC was a regional power, Foot argues that the alignment with Beijing "helped to return the United States to a central place in the global system" (p. 142). She concludes that China did much for American power. The United States was no longer isolated by its China policy, which had undermined many postwar norms, including the viability of the United Nations, but was now brought "into line with the approach of its major allies," which had all along wanted to grant the PRC legitimacy and equality of status (p. 263). The alignment also enabled the Americans to pull out of Vietnam with much of their prestige and many of their bilateral ties to the region intact (p. 142).

For their part, the Chinese were willing to seek rapprochement as well because they believed that the Soviet Union had replaced the United States as hegemon. And after years of trying to become a self-reliant nation with only mixed results, the PRC's leaders could see that a relationship with the United States would enhance their country's power, prestige and security.

In 1979, President Carter, ignoring American public opinion which supported Taipei, switched recognition to Beijing. In the years that followed, Americans generally had a favorable impression of China even though there was still apprehension over the cutting of ties with Taiwan. Deng Xiaoping dispensed with many of Mao's policies in favor of market reforms, increased bilateral trade and expressed support for Western norms and rules for regulating international behavior. Then in 1989, the Tiananmen Square Massacre occurred as student democracy movement was literally crushed by tanks of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Although Americans were generally appalled by these events, the Bush administration refused to isolate China, a policy that paid off during the Gulf War when the Chinese cast their votes in favor of American initiatives brought before the United Nations. However, Iraq's defeat at the hands of an American-led coalition with their high-tech weapons struck fear in some Chinese leaders "that the United States might arrogantly bestride a unipolar world, making China the special target of its displeasure" (p. 248), especially with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. As in the 1950s and 1960s, the Chinese feared the hegemonic power of the United States, forcing the country to seek to increase its own power as a balance to American power.

The strengths of this book is its thematic treatment and synthesis of secondary interpretations. The book does not rely solely on secondary sources but includes manuscript collections and other primary source materials, including a smattering of Chinese language works. One weakness of the book is its reliance on state-to-state analysis. Foot brings in the other allies when she can, but with her analysis focusing on China and the United States, she cannot take into account all the changes in the international system that affected U.S.-PRC relations after 1949. And by relying on state-to-state analysis, there is little flesh and blood on the Americans and Chinese that appear in the reading. Another weakness is Foot's use of power to understand U.S.-PRC relations since 1949. Although an important concept, one would have liked to have seen more discussion of the role of ideology and culture in the calculations of policymakers. However, Foot probably worked under publishing constraints to keep the book tight, which may account for why she makes certain conclusions at the end of several chapters without ever discussing them in the text. For example, on page 164, Foot mentions Peng Dehuai's removal as Defense Minister in 1959 and its effect on American assessments of the PLA, but this goes unmentioned earlier even though she discusses the importance of Peng's attempts to professionalize the army. Despite these weaknesses, The Practice of Power is a highly readable account that is a very good starting place for students who want to understand the high politics of two countries whose coexistence has not always been amicable.

`Rosemary Foot's sophisticated and impressively documented reflection on the practice of power and depiction of US relations with China since 1949 is to be ranked as a reading "must" in the abundant but oft-fragmentary historiography of the subject. The author has accomplished a rare scholarly feat in view of the complexity and extent of the research material, that of tackling all aspects of the difficult Sino-American relationship. The result is an illuminating study which both synthesizes and enlarges previous treatments, a forceful illustration of America's world leadership during half a century ... One of the great merits of the book is that it helps to better understand the subtleties of triangular diplomacy between Washington, Beijing and Moscow.' Professor Serge Ricard, University of Provence

`This solidly researched and scholarly well-crafted book succeeds in making a significant contribution to the already well-ploughed field of Chinese-American relations. The Practice of Power offers a compellingly cohesive analysis, one that significantly broadens the narrow Realist perspective.' Matthias Maass, Free University, Berlin, Pacific Review, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1997

`Foot attains a high level of authority through her use of an extraordinary array of U.S. documentary and published and unpublished sources.' Gordon H. Chang, Diplomatic History, Vol. 21, No. 2, Spring 1997

`A closely researched and written study which can be read by selected chapters separately or as a whole...Her forecast follows logically from her very sophisticated and finely nuanced analysis. This is a valuable addition to the small but growing number of studies that offer multifaceted understanding of a highly complex and cotroversial relationship' The China Quaterly

Book Description
This absorbing study examines the change in American relations with China after 1949 from hostility to rapproachement, and to full normalization of the ties in 1979. Rosemary Foot goes on to examine the relationship after normalization, a period when the United States has come to view China as less of a challenge but still resistant to certain of the norms of the current international order. The book begins by examining US efforts to build, and then maintain an international and domestic consensus behind its China policy. It then looks at changing US perceptions of the capabilities of the Chinese state. It shows how American positions on Chinese representation at the UN and on the trade embargo were subtly eroded, not least by changes in US domestic public opinion. The author argues that previous explantions of American relations with China have dwelt too single-mindedly on ideas associated with the strategic triangle and that instead we need to embed our understanding of the evolution of American relations with China within a wider structure of relationships at the global and domestic level. Reviews: `A valuable interpretative analysis of US-People's Republic of China relationships...she substantially contributes to post-Soviet era theoretical understanding. Strongly recommended for courses in foreign policy, diplomatic history, and international relations.' Choice `contains much that is valuable to those whose interests are primarily on the other side of the Pacific...The chapter on American public opinion and Chinese policy is also something which is not readily found in existing accounts of China'a post-1949 foreign relations' Times Higher Education Supplement `her analysis remains cautious and astute' The Economist

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Postby svinayak » 19 Nov 2007 05:21

Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law
by Marjorie Cohn (Author)

# Paperback: 191 pages
# Publisher: Polipoint Press (June 28, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0977825337
# ISBN-13: 978-0977825332

Book Description
In Cowboy Republic, Marjorie Cohn offers a penetrating analysis of the six most important ways in which the Bush administration has weakened the rule of law. Cohn, a respected legal scholar, details the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq; the policy of torture; war crimes; Guantanamo’s kangaroo courts; unconstitutional laws; and the unlawful surveillance of American citizens. She concludes with practical ways to strengthen the rule of law domestically and internationally, including both political and legal remedies.

Marjorie Cohn, a law professor from San Diego and the head of the National Lawyers Guild, lays out the evidence in a scathing indictment of the current president and his administration. Professor Cohn explains step by step so that anyone, with or without a legal background can understand just exactly what is happening to our country. She explains how the president and his minions lied to the American people to "sell" the war in Iraq, how the executive sanctions torture and murder, how our civil liberties are being threatened and actually taken away and most importantly, in my mind, how the president refuses to enforce the laws he disagrees with and sets himself up as a constitutional scholar interpreting the law to decide which laws are constitutional and which are not. This is a usurpation of power that is unprecedented in this country and is startling in the fact that Congress has become complicit in this "crime." The president has refused to enforce more than 750 laws acording to one article cited by Professor Cohn, by using signing statements in approving laws he objects to rather than simply vetoing them. These statements have been used by other Presidents to explain how the law in question will benefit the American people but in Bush's hands they are used interpret Congress's intent, a violation of the separation of powers, among other problems. Please read this book. Nothing could be more important, regardless of your political affiliation.

Professor Marjorie Cohn provides a much needed review of the Bush administration's legal record - from launching a "preemptive" war on the basis of palpable falsehoods, to advocating and even practicing torture at Guantanamo and by proxy through "extraordinary renditions," to warrantless wiretaps and spying on Americans, to overreaching claims of executive power that ignore validly passed laws and upset the framers' careful balance of constitutional powers.

Professor Cohn's book shows how an administration that claims a high regard for democracy and the rule of law has in truth demonstrated a deep-seated contempt for both -- explaining why the rest of the world is so fast losing faith in America and her ideals.

Professor Cohn's book should help Americans to come to terms with the harm that the Bush administration has done so far. And that, I believe, is a critical step to restoring our national decency and honor.

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Postby Sadler » 22 Nov 2007 01:50

India by Michael Woods

Publisher: Basic Books Inc.
Publication Date: November, 2007

Looks like a brand new book. I'd appreciate any feed back from any one who had read it or intends to buy.

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Postby SriKumar » 03 Dec 2007 07:57

I am looking for a book on history of India. I saw the recommendation made to Sadler, a 10-volume(?) set by Majumdar (how's that working out?).....but I dont think I can do justice to such a large corpus, so the question is: Is there a 1-volume book out there that's recommended? I was thinking of John Keay but saw the negative comments above. I have cut my teeth on the NCERT stuff (yikes!) they taught us in schools, and I thought it was time to do a bit of new reading on the subject.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

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Postby JaiS » 16 Dec 2007 14:05

[url=]Winning India’s Next War
by Group Captain T. D. Joseph VM. Pages 261. Rs 820.

Budgeting for Indian Defence
by Wing Commander V. N. Srinivas. Pages 230. Rs 720.
Both titles by K.W. Publishers and the Centre for Air Power Studies.

Reflections of an Air Warrior
by Group Captain Arjun Subramaniam. K.W. Publishers. Pages 150. Rs 460.[/url]

three senior serving officers of the Indian Air Force and the publishing house concerned have set a welcome trend by bringing out professional books that even a layman could read with considerable ease. Admittedly, all the books here pertain to service matters only, yet the time has come to open up all genres of writing for all those in uniform, endowed richly as they are, with plenty of experience and the propensity to call a spade a spade. It is people like Joseph, Srinivas and Subramaniam who will one day facilitate the wiping away of the cobwebs of secrecy and undue interference by our ‘babudom’, which often does not want the truth to see the light of day.

Winning India’s Next War is all about the nature of wars of the future, whether they would be "limited", as the author terms them, or sub-conventional in form like the ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’, where similarities with it and the messy war in Vietnam are already beginning to emerge as the Iraqi conflict drags on with no end in sight. Discussing the role of air power as a match-winning factor in a war, Joseph does reiterate the oft-repeated Air Force line that in the 1962 war with China the "non-use of the IAF in the offensive role against the invaders was an opportunity missed", without mentioning that the IAF then had hardly any assets on the ground in the northeast to be able to create such a capability.

In the Kargil war, the IAF did prove its mettle where the precision bombing along the LoC did save the Indian Army a good deal of unnecessary casualties. The modernisation of China’s PLA Air Force with its capability of "designing and producing the fourth-generation combat aircraft" with Russian assistance should be of considerable interest to Indian defence planners.

The Sino-Pakistan military collaboration, with specific reference to the development of the Gwadar port, providing the former with a "strategic footprint in the West Asian region by positioning itself close to the Strait of Hormuz", a worrying development of considerable military import for India, assumes added importance when examining a policy of strategic encirclement being resorted to by our powerful northern neighbour. Added to this is the disparity with China on the infrastructural development of the border road and communication network in Arunachal Pradesh, a matter referred to recently by the Indian Defence Minister. And all this definitely points to some serious catching up that we have to expeditiously achieve in our defence preparedness.

Budgeting for Indian Defence discusses defence fiscal planning and allocation, indigenous arms production versus imports, trends in the military expenditure of China and Pakistan as best known to us, and the "cost of military manpower" as seen by Srinivas who is basically a man from the Accounts Department. He raises some pertinent points that the Defence Minister needs to take note of. For instance, "presently, the defence planning process is predominantly confined to Service HQs, with limited involvement of the MoD. In certain other democracies such as the US, UK and Australia, the planning process commences in the MoD." Another one of his observations is faultless, "While the nation’s R&D set-up has gained considerable expertise in designing and developing weapon systems, what has been achieved hitherto is far too short of meeting the nation’s defence requirements."

Unfortunately, for a number of years, the real worth of the R&D has not been openly commented upon. It is no secret that the users on the ground have not been overly impressed with this unwieldy organisation’s output—the much-hyped Arjun tank is one such example. In another recommendation, the author suggests a reduction in the military manpower expenditure by "outsourcing the non-core military functions". However, in any debate on the matter of manpower holdings, especially in the Indian Army, the teeth to tail ratio can only be disturbed at a very high operational cost. There is a need to enhance the country’s defence outlay if our modernisation is to keep pace and operational voids are to be avoided. Budgeting is a serious book about serious issues. In spite of all the figures, it makes for an interesting reading.

Fighter pilot Subramaniam has penned a humorous, practical and useful booklet for budding air warriors. Quoting primary signs of fatigue like sleep deprivation, excessive weight loss and sudden tendencies to take shortcuts, he recommends a ditty which says it all: "If you are tired, mate—speak up/or else you may be fighting to/save your skin that/demands your superior skill./On the flip side mate/don’t make it a habit to say you are tired/coz that makes you a sissy and we don’t/need no sissies in cockpits."

He counsels wisely many of the over ambitious (you find these categories all over in any organisation) that, "Do not seek any personal glory; personal satisfaction—yes!" The author’s suggestions to the flying leaders to fly in marginal weather, and not to promise the moon but to deliver what is promised, are service truths that cannot be denied.

Empathy as a leader in feeling the pain of others is essential in today’ low-intensity conflicts, where a unit may often suffer grievous casualties. He quotes the Chinese system of engagement where all male citizens on reaching the age of 18 are eligible for conscription, a measure which I feel needs to be strictly enforced in India for the good of our own youth. There is little talk of women officers in the Chinese armed forces and the few women NCOs that there are only get one term of three years. India please note.

Cutting across the usually well-guarded individual Service turf, all the three books are of contemporary relevance in matters of security and should be of considerable interest to both those in uniform and those who never opted for this exceptional profession.

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Postby ramana » 19 Dec 2007 04:26

I will start new thread after first to the new year.

Pioneer Book review, 17 Dec 2007

Road to Mandalay and beyond

The book demonstrates how Burma, well connected with the rest of the world up to the early 1960s, suddenly fell into the deep gorge of isolation and hanged itself on the 'Tiger's Tail', writes Swapna Bhattacharya

The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma, Thant Myint U, Faber & Faber, Rs 495

The book under review is unique, for, no other author ever before drew such a brilliant image of historical events of Burma in such a passionate and evocative way as Thant Myint U has done. The author successfully describes the profile of Burma with rich cultural traditions, introduced into that country by Buddhist monks, Hindu priests, Chinese businessmen, Mughal fugitives and, of course, Western traders, diplomats and emissaries.

Burma's state-building process began in the early centuries of Christian era, thanks to its contacts with Buddhist India. The foundation of the Pagan empire in the ninth century is a unique event in Burmese history. Aniruddha (Anawrahta), considered to be the most powerful king of that country, laid the foundation of modern Burma with a strong Buddhist identity during the mid-11th century; society, however, was mixed, with a strong representation of Mons.

Medieval and pre-British Burma had a number of great statesmen and martial leaders -- king Tabinshweti and his General, Bayinnaung of Toungoo; Aluangpaya and Bodawpaya of Konbaung dynasty -- whose kingdoms covered not only the areas of modern Burma, Thailand and Laos, but also Manipur, Kachar and Jaintia Hills of modern India.

Lying on the southern silk route, Burma became the meeting point of various people and ideas. When China and Nanzhao kingdom allied with each other against Tibet, Burma allowed its land for the displaced people. Other narratives like Mughal prince Shah Shuja's flight to Arakan in 1660 AD, Panthay (Yunnanese Muslims) rebels' quest to turn to Burma when they were being executed by the Chinese, Konbaung king Mindon Min's (1853-73) sagacious diplomacy of good relations with all find mention in the book.

The history of British Burma (1824-1948) has received due attention by the author: The step-by step subjugation of this country -- through three wars fought in 1824-26, 1852 and 1885 -- has been placed properly in the context of empire-building ventures of the British. Even the little known stories of a large number of Burmese royal personalities coming to India along with the deposed king, Thibaw, is quite interesting.

As a long-time researcher on British Burma and author of a recently published book, India-Myanmar Relations 1886-1948, I may humbly add that the anti-colonial nationalist struggle in Burma did draw much of its inspiration from India's nationalist leaders like CR Das, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, among others. The sessions of the Indian National Congress were regularly visited by the members of the GCBA, the most important political organisation of colonial Burma. The book, however, talks little about this. The British policy of exclusion and the administrative devices of separating the mainland from the frontier areas, too, have been treated in an apologetic manner.

The author is the grandson of U Thant, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations. U Thant's personal friendship with U Nu occupies a considerable place in the book. The mention of the United States and New York comes several times in the book, not only because the author has spent much of his time on the American shores, but also because Burmese leaders like U Nu and Ne Win went there whenever situation so demanded. The book also gives due attention to the challenges faced by U Nu (who ruled between 1948 and 1958 and again between 1960 and 1962) and Gen Ne Win (1962-1988).

The chapter 12, "Tiger's Tail", aptly demonstrates how a country, which was well connected with Europe, Asia and the US up to the early 1960s, suddenly fell into the deep gorge of isolation and hanged itself on the "Tiger's Tail". Communist China's involvement had its strategic and economic dimensions that could best be understood in the context of many other political events of South-East Asia during the 1970s and the 1980s.

The author's concern is not necessarily to find an answer as to whether Burma will in future be more oriented towards China, or will tread a pro-American path; or, will it rediscover its Buddhist-socialism along with its Asian neighbours, including India? His priority goes beyond finding political alternatives for Burma; he wants to trace back the lost footsteps of history when Burma not only took the lead to globalise the world, but also achieved it.

The book is an essential reading for all. Readers expect from such an important piece of work an index and a bibliography. The endnotes corresponding to each chapter, however, are quite useful, though one misses references to quite a few important works. The pictures of the author's family along with that of Aung San Suu Kyi and the map in the beginning of the book add to the academic credence of the work.
-- The reviewer is Reader (former Head), Department of South & South-East Asian Studies, University of Calcutta

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Postby vsudhir » 20 Dec 2007 22:43

A Kargil Fable
Author: Amir Mir
Publication: Outlook
Date: October 27, 2003
Introduction: It is Pakistan's version of the Kargil war. A new book says they successfully countered India's 'adventurism'.

You think Pakistan occupied the Kargil hills in the summer of 1999. You believe it was an operation Pakistani generals planned on the sly and then prime minister Nawaz Sharif didn't know about it until the bullets started flying. You're absolutely sure about India emerging victorious and the Pakistani army deeply embarrassed.

Hold on, history can be rewritten. And to know how, read Dr Shireen Mazari's book, The Kargil Conflict 1999—Separating Fact from Fiction, which was launched in Islamabad recently. The slim, 162-page book claims, inter alia: Kargil was an operation planned to counter India's insidious designs; Sharif was aware of it; he failed to convert Pakistan's "tremendous military success" into a politico-diplomatic victory. The book concludes, "Had Nawaz Sharif not dashed to Washington to give in and had the Kargil tactical operation been allowed to sustain itself for a few more weeks (till the end of August 1999), it would have led to an Indo-Pak dialogue."

But just who's Dr Shireen Mazari? Answer: she's more influential than what her calling card—director general, Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad —suggests. In the Pakistani establishment, they trust her more than anyone else. She confesses in the preface that the book would not have been possible "without the support and access given by President Musharraf to all manner of data and information".

No wonder, the book's being viewed in these circles as Pakistan's official version of Kargil. Her idea was to explode a few 'myths'. One of these pertained to media reports that there had been a long-standing 'Kargil Plan' but it was never executed because army chief Gen Jehangir Karamat (1996-1999) and then PM Benazir Bhutto had rejected it.

Fine, you accept there was no long-standing Kargil plan (leaving aside one awkward fact: Benazir claims otherwise). So then why did Pakistan decide to launch the 1999 operations? Mazari says there were suspicious movements in the Shaqma sector, north of the LoC at Kargil, in the late 1998-early 1999. The Pakistan high command asked the Force Command Northern Areas (FCNA) to evolve a plan to counter possible Indian incursions. Even this defensive planning is dated March '99, and not during Vajpayee's visit earlier in the year, as India claims. "No movement across Burazil Pass was possible prior to mid-March. By keeping two well-equipped Indian brigades at Maskoh/Dras, India possessed the capacity to occupy positions in the Shaqma sector," writes Mazari.

The FCNA did plan a defensive action with its troops. Replenishment was provided only after Indian attacks on Pakistani posts. "This fact alone is sufficient to debunk the claim of a so-called strategic offensive operation planned by Pakistan at Kargil. Any major offensive would, obviously, have entailed some sort of additional troops and logistic build-up...."

Refuting the Indian assertions that Pakistan's operation was essentially planned across the LoC, she says, "If that had been the intent, the Pakistani troops would have attempted to recapture the Marpola and Bimbet posts that were established on the Pakistani side of the LoC by Indian troops in their many incursions across the LoC in 1988. How could Pakistan allow these Indian posts to remain intact even as Pakistani troops bypassed these positions, went across the LoC and occupied vast, inhospitable areas?"

What sparked the Kargil war then? India's adventurism, she says. "India, as per its plan, moved its troops to the watershed on their side of the LoC and initially came across those Mujahideen who were familiar with the terrain and had moved to occupy some of the heights across the LoC to interdict the Indian supply route along the Dras-Kargil road".In other words, the guerrillas had been deployed to nix India's plan.She says the FCNA took defensive measures by "positioning troops on the heights/features, overlooking Indian routes, which in fact had been mostly unoccupied previously. But as a result of the Indian counter-attacks, numerous new posts were established and fighting patrols were pushed ahead for early warning and depth and flank protection." Conclusion: Pakistan was successfully countering India's possible adventurism.

She arraigns Sharif's regime with this line of attack: it wasn't in the battlefield but in the diplomatic arena that Pakistan was worsted
. "India managed to portray its lack of success in the military operations as restraint and adroitly played on Western fears of a nuclear war in South Asia. The central line being pushed was that it was Indian restraint that had prevented a nuclear conflict."

Simultaneously, India widened the military operations to Pakistan's disadvantage. She argues, "It got sucked incrementally into a larger military operation by India with the latter's induction of reinforcements, the Bofor guns and the use of the Indian Air Force. Pakistan had not anticipated this since its objective was simply to preempt suspected Indian military actions along the LoC. In any case, from the Pakistani perspective, no grand strategic plan was envisaged because it would have been difficult to employ large-scale forces in Kargil, in a sustainable manner."

The book refutes Sharif's claim that he wasn't briefed on Kargil. She says he was briefed repeatedly in '99, beginning with a session in Skardu on January 29. Mazari writes, "The isi gave him a briefing on March 12, 1999, while the Military Operations Directorate at the GHQ gave him briefings on May 17, 1999; June 2, 1999 and June 22, 1999. On July 2, 1999, at a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, the chiefs of the army, navy and air force gave a briefing on Kargil. A further meeting was scheduled for July 5, 1999." It wasn't held: Sharif suddenly left for Washington on July 4.

His trip to the US transformed the situation. For, Mazari claims, India was prepared to negotiate with Pakistan around mid-June 1999, courtesy backchannel diplomacy. "Apparently, it was reported on June 27 that an understanding had been reached on the final settlement of the Kargil conflict, which was to be signed in New Delhi by the prime ministers of the two countries. That is why at the time of Sharif's visit to China on June 27, 1999, the Indian side had suggested that Sharif make an 'impromptu' stop in New Delhi on his way back from Beijing. This is probably why Sharif cut short his visit to China.... But once he did this, the Indian offer was suddenly cancelled.... So somewhere between these developments, an external factor came into play which further impacted the Kargil dynamics."

That external factor was the Clinton administration. It interceded on India's behalf. She writes, "Many military commanders, in interviews, insisted that it was the US that prevented India from coming to the negotiating table with Pakistan at the time of the Sharif visit to China. The US administration was of the view that despite repeated warnings not to take any action along the LoC, Pakistan was playing a game of brinkmanship against the American wishes."

Mazari blames Sharif for mishandling the political and diplomatic dimensions of the conflict. He dashed to Washington without even informing his cabinet. Once there, he gave in to US pressure and committed himself to the army's immediate withdrawal. It turned "the whole Kargil episode into a political victory for India, while Pakistan saw a successful tactical operation—albeit one which was not accompanied by a coordinated politico-diplomatic plan—turn into a politico- diplomatic setback." In other words, the battle that had been won was thus lost.

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Postby svinayak » 25 Dec 2007 19:50

A Century's Journey: How the Great Powers Shape the World
by Robert A. Pastor (Editor),
Robert A. Pastor Emory University (Author)

# Paperback: 415 pages
# Publisher: Basic Books; New Ed edition (January 15, 2000)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0465054765
# ISBN-13: 978-0465054763

For all the claims of globalization, says Robert A. Pastor, a handful of countries still define the world at the end of the 20th century--and will continue to do so in the 21st. Along with six other foreign-policy scholars, Pastor examines the recent history of the world's seven "great powers" (France, Germany, Russia, Great Britain, China, Japan, and the United States) to demonstrate how they have influenced--and adapted to--the upheavals of the 20th century. They also offer some thoughts on what the "Liberal Epoch" to come will bring: if Russia and China are not fully welcomed into the community of great powers, Pastor warns, conflict is inevitable. And while international law and tribunals will continue to play an important role, they will require strengthened means of monitoring and enforcement if they are to be effective. A Century's Journey is a bit policy-wonkish for the general reader, but it does offer some carefully considered insights into how the nations of the world will deal with each other in the coming decades. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

To understand business in the new century, we need to understand the political and cultural forces shaping global power. Pastor and his six other renowned foreign policy co-authors argue that the key to understanding the world's future lies in how the great powers shaped the 20th century. This book helps us understand the recent history of political influence on markets. Pastor adds to his own important chapters contributions by six of the world's leading experts on their respective powers, e.g. China, Japan, Germany, etc. The book is clearly written and Pastor does an admirable job integrating both the contributions from the separate regional experts and the lessons from the past that aid our forecasts for the future. This book teaches us much about the political and cultural issues driving power relationships and leadership in the global economy.


Postby Raju » 25 Dec 2007 20:08

Welcome back Acharya.

Posts: 1058
Joined: 26 Nov 2004 20:03

Postby p_saggu » 25 Dec 2007 21:22

A Kargil Fable
Author: Amir Mir
Publication: Outlook
Date: October 27, 2003
Introduction: It is Pakistan's version of the Kargil war. A new book says they successfully countered India's 'adventurism'.

I was hoping to issue a point by point rebuttal of her claims, but the forum doesn't have enough Icons, so one will suffice
Shrileen Mazari is musharraf's biggest chamchi, the slippery kind who fawns attention from the leadership of the day, all in order to prolong her seeming importance and position. Her version will change soon enough when the current regime in pakistan changes.

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Postby Paul » 26 Dec 2007 08:56


Who killed Gen Zia-ul-Haq?

Corera's book links the death of the Pakistani dictator with the nuclear trafficking between Pakistan and Iran, says Mahesh Prabhu

Shopping for Bombs, Gordon Corer,Foundation Books, Rs 1295

Is it possible that the Pakistan's nuclear sale to Iran in the 1980s was made without Gen Zia-ul-Haq's approval and that he died because he had got close to the information in August 1988 about who had made the deal?

Gordon Corera, correspondent for BBC News, has provided the first clue to the death of Gen Zia-ul-Haq in 1988. The most important disclosure is that AQ Khan sold his first nuclear secrets to Iran in 1987, quite possibly without the approval of the then ruler of Pakistan, Gen Zia-ul-Haq. The General was well-known to be in favour of the Arabs against Iran after the latter had begun to threaten them after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Corera also discovers that while Gen Zia-ul-Haq may not have been privy to the sale to Iran, some others from within the military establishment could be closely involved.

Gen Zia-ul-Haq came to power in 1977 and was killed in an air-crash in 1988. At that time, Shias were severely persecuted in Pakistan. It was, therefore, widely believed that his death was engineered by the Shia community.

The Pakistani dictator began Islamising Pakistan under the tutelage of Saudi Arabia. By 1980, shari'ah was enforced in that country, backed by Saudi Arabia.

In 1979, Iran went through its Islamic Revolution. The Arab countries, however, feared this development, as most of them had Shia minorities, who were shabbily treated in their respective countries.

Corera says Pakistan's nuclear scientist and head of the Khan Research Laboratories, AQ Khan, was using Dubai as the base for meeting his suppliers. It was here in 1987 that he sold crucial drawings and designs of a tested nuclear plant and received $ 3 million in Swiss francs from the Iranian party.

Was this deal concluded with the consent of Gen Zia-ul-Haq, who was in the process of "reining in the Shias" in Pakistan? If he had given AQ Khan the go-ahead, did he realise that Saudi Arabia might get wind of it and retaliate against him? Is it possible that the nuclear sale was made without his approval? And that he died because he had got close to the information in August 1988? The book deals with these questions.

Corera wonders whether the 'deal' with Iran was 'official' or done without the knowledge of the 'Government'. He records the arrival of several Iranian delegations in Pakistan -- one was even led by Iranian President Ali Khamenei, who was keen to build the Iranian bomb.

The 1987 'deal' was concluded by a relative of AQ Khan in Dubai. This might point to Gen Zia-ul-Haq's reluctance to give the Iranians what they wanted in full public view, especially that of the Arabs, who had already reacted with alarm to the nuclear ambition of a friendly Shah in the 1970s.

Corera writes, "Would Pakistan really want to see a neighbour with nuclear weapons? A few individuals might, but not the whole Government over an extended period. In essence, it appears that Khan could have received tacit approval and support from a small number of senior individuals but may have continued and deepened the relationship on his -- or his network's -- initiative."

Then Corera provides a pen-sketch of Gen Aslam Beg: "During the mid to late 1980s, when Pakistan and Iran were moving closer together and nuclear dealings began, Gen Mirza Aslam Beg was first Vice-Chief from 1987 and then from 1988 to 1991, Chief of the Army Staff... As soon as he became Vice-Chief he was 'made privy' to the nuclear programme for the first time. He supported a more overt nuclear policy and greater distancing from the United States and the West. According to his own writings, Beg thought in terms of 'democratising' the global nuclear non-proliferation order and moving to a multipolar world, which he believed would be safer than either a bipolar Cold War world or a unipolar world of American power... Beg and AQ Khan were close friends and political allies and shared many of the same views."

After the death of Gen Zia-ul-Haq, his son kept accusing Gen Aslam Beg of having killed his father. In 1993, the Justice Shafiur Rehman Commission report on Gen Zia-ul-Haq's death -- now classified as 'secret' -- was inconclusive, pleading obstruction from the Army.

The book is an interesting take on illegal nuclear proliferation in one of the most difficult regions of the world.

Are they cooking up another hatchet job on Iran??

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