Book Review Folder - 2005/2006/2007

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Postby Sonugn » 17 May 2006 17:54

SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN on RajaMoha's book :) ... 391500.htm
In the book, Raja Mohan is convinced that the Indian insistence on keeping the fast breeder out of safeguards would be a deal-breaker. Subsequent events have proved him wrong. Earlier, he was convinced an Indian abstention on the Iran issue at the IAEA would have derailed the nuclear deal. It would not have. As a result of that ill-advised vote, New Delhi has more or less destroyed what would have been a promising energy relationship with Teheran. One only wished the advocates of closer ties between India and the U.S. had a better appreciation of India's strength and a clearer understanding of the reasons Washington is so keen to recruit Delhi on to its side

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Postby Gerard » 19 May 2006 04:05

Caroe's lessons
The book dips into archival material to trace the strategic thinking of Sir Olaf Caroe, a distinguished Foreign Secretary of the Raj.
Contrary to an Indian myth, India's "partition represented the failure and not the fulfilment of imperial design. Pakistan as the keystone of an Islamic alliance was a rationalisation of partition, not a motive. Indeed Caroe's geopolitical thinking weighed heavily against such a step. Supposedly one of its primary architects, Caroe in fact endorsed the creation of an independent Pakistan only in the difficult last resort, offering compelling evidence of the instinctive aversion that officials of the Raj generally felt toward partition."
"In the modern world it is inevitable for India to be the centre of affairs of Asia." Caroe wrote on August 18, 1944: "All who look forward to the emergence of India as a Great Power must assume and work for her unity." He was a true friend of India whom Nehru woefully wronged.
India's High Commissioner in London, B.K. Nehru, wrote a note of thanks to Caroe on February 1, 1975, for his support to India's absorption of Sikkim within the Union of India.
Brobst fully demolishes the myth which Selig S. Harrison and Chester Bowles fostered that the United States arms aid to Pakistan was inspired by Caroe's Wells of Power. Caroe's visit to the U.S. State Department in May 1952 left him feeling insulted.

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Postby svinayak » 23 May 2006 20:50

The Great Wall : China Against the World, 1000 BC - 2000 AD (Hardcover)
by Julia Lovell

"On 26 September 1792, King George III dispatched the first British trade mission to China, a 700-strong party that included diplomats, businessmen, soldiers, scientists,

There is no Great Wall of China, argues Lovell, who teaches Chinese history at Cambridge University. Instead, there are many Great Walls—physical, mental, cultural, military and economic—separating China from the outside world. The 4,300-mile-long wall is far more complex than any of the thousands of tourists taking a photo along its famous battlements realizes. Indeed, to the Chinese themselves, their wall has variously signified repression, freedom, security, vulnerability, cultural superiority, economic backwardness, imperial greatness and national humiliation. Still, myths about it abound. Far from it being unbreachable, Chinese emperors relied on the wall only as a last resort to fend off their enemies. (The Ming dynasty, for instance, found it useless against the victorious Manchus, who merely bribed the gatekeepers to let them in.) "As a strategy that has survived for more than two millennia," Lovell writes, "China's frontier wall is a monumental metaphor for reading China and its history, for defining a culture and a worldview...." Lovell tells the gripping, colorful story of the wall up to the present day, including a perceptive discussion of the "Great Firewall"—the Internet, which has replaced nomadic raiders as the most threatening of China's attackers. And no, you cannot see it from the Moon. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
Young British historian Lovell narrates the history of China's preeminent national symbol, its Great Wall. Dubious about its defensive efficacy, she points out the fortification's repeated failure to save the dynasty that built it. Apart from its physicality, Lovell is also intrigued by the wall as a metaphor for historical Chinese attitudes toward the exterior world. And driving her wonderful chronicle of the wall is her will to dispel visitors' impressions, shared alike by Richard Nixon and backpacking tourists, that the Great Wall is a continuous construction of great antiquity. Informing readers that though the earliest long walls do date to the Qin dynasty (about 220 BCE), the crenellated, watchtower-crowned marvel of today was built by Ming emperors in the 1600s. Along the way, Lovell instills an appreciation for how the Chinese self-conception of civilized superiority vis-a-vis raiding barbarians of the steppe induced periods of wall-building. Amounting to an overview of imperial and postimperial Chinese history, Lovell's account of the Great Wall is a supremely inviting entree to the country. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

A young English scholar interprets much of Chinese history as a struggle between internationalism and isolationism, reflected in the repeated efforts to wall out invaders from the north. Frequently contrasting official rhetoric about the efficacy of the glorious walls with the reality of their constant failures and treasury-draining costs and occasional perspectives from common people, she surprises the reader with accounts of how European and Japanese incursions strengthened the idea of the Great Wall in the Chinese consciousness. By abbreviating specific incidents and omitting character portraits, Lovell successfully compresses almost 4000 years of history into a narrative with very few boring passages. But with so much time to cover, almost no room is left for comparisons with other civilizations. She does mention Israel's fence a couple of times; another interesting comparison would be with the US borders.
Highly recommended as a source of insight into the folly of empire and insularity.

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Postby svinayak » 23 May 2006 20:56

The Great Transformation : The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions (Hardcover)
by Karen Armstrong

For a comprehensive view of the beginning of religious traditions ins four spiritual centers--Greece, Middle East, India, China--this is it. It is a tour de force of the First Axial Age and a prerequisite for all who see humankind in the Second Axial Age.

Starred Review. Having already recounted "a history of God," the redoubtable Armstrong here narrates the evolution of the religious traditions of the world from their births to their maturity. In her typical magisterial fashion, she chronicles these tales in dazzling prose with remarkable depth and judicious breadth. Taking the Axial Age, which spans roughly 900 B.C.E. to 200 B.C.E., as her focal point, Armstrong examines the ways that specific religious traditions from Buddhism and Confucianism to Taoism and Judaism responded to the various cultural forces they faced during this period. Overall, Armstrong observes, violence, political disruption and religious intolerance dominated Axial Age societies, so Axial religions responded by exalting compassion, love and justice over selfishness and hatred. Thus, the central Buddhist and Jain practice of ahimsa, doing no harm, developed in India in reaction to the self-centeredness of Hindu ritual, and Hebrew prophets such as Amos proclaimed that justice and mercy toward neighbors offered the only correct way of walking with God. Accounts of the world's religions often present them as discrete entities developing apart from each other in a vacuum. Armstrong's magnificent accomplishment offers us an account of a violent time much like ours, when religious impulses in various locations developed practices of justice and love. (Apr. 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The Washington Post's Book World/
In 1948, the German philosopher Karl Jaspers coined the term "Axial Age" to denote an astonishing era, from roughly 900 B.C. to 200 B.C., in which the foundations of the world's great religions were laid. This was the time of Socrates, Elijah, Siddhartha, Confucius. In her magisterial new exploration of the era, Karen Armstrong argues that all Axial Age traditions emphasized justice and were committed to the practice of "disciplined sympathy" and compassion. The Great Transformation is Armstrong at her best -- translating and distilling complex history into lucid prose that will delight scholars and armchair historians alike, drawing connections between the distant past and our own religious practices, suggesting that the antidotes to some of contemporary religion's excesses lie in the roots of the religious traditions themselves.

The Axial Age was anticipated, Armstrong writes, by the prophetic priest Zoroaster. Outraged at the violence of the Aryan warrior culture, Zoroaster conceived of the cosmos as a battle between the forces of good and evil, and he envisioned a great judgment that would eventually culminate in a world of peace and justice. Zoroastrianism is now known to us largely as a historical relic, but his "passionately ethical vision" and his determination to find a spiritual idiom that promoted peace bore fruit in the religious traditions of the Axial Age.

Other sages also emerged from the conflicts of the era: In India, the Axial Age coincided with the collapse of the Harappan civilization; in Greece, spirituality and philosophy flourished as the Mycenaean kingdom gave way to the Macedonian empire. Socratic philosophy was forged in the brutality of the Peloponnesian War. Breaking sharply from the Greek tradition of vengeance, Socrates argued that retaliation was always unjust and that the key to enlightenment and social virtue was acting with forbearance toward everyone, friend or enemy. The Buddha similarly taught that focusing on the self led to envy, conceit and pride; only a movement into "no self" would lead to "non-distress" and "unhostility."

When the kingdom of Israel, profitably allied with Assyria, failed to care for its poor, the prophet Amos warned that God would turn against his chosen people if they did not clean up their act. Amos, Armstrong writes, exemplified kenosis, or self-emptying: He believed that "his subjectivity had been taken over by God," so it was not Amos offering radical prophecies but God himself. God had experienced the injustices committed by Israel as painful and humiliating acts against him -- so Amos was calling the Israelites to feel, as their God felt, the sufferings of others.

Though this is a study of ancient history, Armstrong has a present-day agenda. We also live in a time of great social transformation and unrest, and, like the Axial sages, we should foster compassion, self-emptying and justice.

She notes that compassionate spirituality leaves room for doctrine: "This is not to say that all theology should be scrapped or that the conventional beliefs about God or the ultimate are 'wrong.' . . . The test is simple: if people's beliefs -- secular or religious -- make them belligerent, intolerant, and unkind about other people's faith, they are not 'skillful.' If, however, their convictions impel them to act compassionately and to honor the stranger, then they are good, helpful, and sound. This is the test of true religiosity . . . . Instead of jettisoning religious doctrines, we should look for their spiritual kernel."

Armstrong's emphasis on the things that unify Hinduism
, Socratic philosophy, Judaism and Confucianism has just a whiff of the old colonialist approach to "world religions," reveling in religions' resemblances without sufficiently acknowledging their particularities. (The Brits who "discovered" Hinduism cast it, and every other religion, in terms that looked a lot like Christianity. Armstrong does much the same thing in reverse, casting Judaism and its spiritual descendants in terms that look a lot like Buddhism.) This approach fails to recognize the ways in which Buddhist compassion and Hindu compassion and Christian compassion and Jain compassion may meaningfully differ. Without an honest appraisal of those differences, it is hard to evaluate, say, the difference between the morality of the euthanasia advocate and the radical pro-life Catholic. Whose compassion trumps, that of George W. Bush or of John Paul II?

And yet, Armstrong's call to rededicate our religious selves to compassion, other-directed love and service is downright rousing. People from many different faiths will close this book reminded of the value their tradition places on compassion and recommitted to expressing it in their own religious idiom.

Karen Armstrong's thesis depends on all these ideologies/religions arising within one 700-yr period, as well as their all being compassionate, loving ideologies that arose in response to violence. I'd like to point out that Judaism began much earlier; according to the Torah, some seven hundred years earlier. It was not in response to violence as far as I can tell. Christianity and Islam arose much later, and certainly not from Judaism but from the multitude of savior-mystery religions present in the region at that time. Hinduism is an artifact of modern times. Its Vedic parent was probably developed a good seven hundred years earlier than her Axial Age. And Greek rationalism certainly did not lead to love and tolerance--at least not toward women, children, slaves, Jews, foreigners, or anyone they conquered. The Greeks from this period were responsible for the invention of full-fledged anti-Semitism in the form we "celebrate" it today. They were loving and tolerant only among Greek men.

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Postby ramana » 17 Jun 2006 04:00

In the book review Caroe's lessons a name appears Maj Gen Cawthorn. He is the Aussie who founded ISI. Now makes sense. We need to read the book and then deconstruct it to see what was the history of the post 1947 India.

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Postby Paul » 17 Jun 2006 04:05

Per General S K Sinha, Maj Cawthorne also led the Pakistani side on deciding the CFL line post 1948 ops during the Karachi talks.

He was exceedingly hostile to the Indians during the talks.

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Postby ramana » 30 Jun 2006 23:32

Crusader extraordinary: Krishna Menon and the India league, 1932-36 By Suhash Chakravarty, India Research Press, Rs 995


With Nehru in London
Crusader extraordinary: Krishna Menon and the India league, 1932-36 By Suhash Chakravarty, India Research Press, Rs 995

The shadow of Krishna Menon’s career as India’s defence minister falls inevitably on his life. This distorts perspective and judgment. His early political career in London, where he was a key figure in the India League, was nothing short of remarkable. Suhash Chakravarty must be congratulated for retrieving this phase of Menon’s life and for doing so in great detail. Menon always saw himself as being larger than life, and it is perhaps apt that a really huge book, running into over 800 pages, has been devoted to only four years of his life. The book, like the man, is a trifle overblown.

One reason for the size of the book is the range of Chakravarty’s research. He has really mined the archives, and has looked at the official documentation as well as the relevant private papers. The research is staggering and this book could not have been an easy one to write on the basis of that voluminous research material. Too much material, as any historian knows, is an embarrassment of riches, which leads to an embarrassment of size.

The volume begins when Menon, along with others, was asked by the India League to proceed to India, and ends with his coming under the influence of Jawaharlal Nehru when Europe is poised to be overrun by fascism. The history of the India League and the sterling role that Menon played in it is a part not only of India’s struggle for freedom but also of the left movement in Britain. Menon’s work in the India League helped focus attention on Indian issues and on the impact of British rule on the Indian economy and society. That Britain’s work in India began to be questioned at all within Britain was largely the result of the work of the India League.

There is one question that the author does not address at all. The question is: how important was the work of the India League in the overall context of the Indian freedom movement? A band of very dedicated and passionate men and women worked in Britain and in Europe to campaign for India’s freedom and to expose the grievous harm that British rule was inflicting on India and the Indian people. They worked to rouse the conscience of the Western world. But they worked most of the time outside India. What impact did their campaign and their propaganda have? Did it, in any fundamental way, further the cause of India’s freedom from British rule?

The impact was marginal and the contribution of the India League to India’s freedom movement was negligible.
Chakravarty accepts the India League on its own terms and refuses to question its assumptions. One consequence of this shortcoming is that the book lacks a conclusion. It is a narrative, a very detailed one, that stops some time in 1936 on the note that Krishna Menon was more attracted by Nehru’s ideas and personality than he was by those of Mahatma Gandhi. This is neither a new nor a profound point. In fact, the point is so obvious as to border on the banal.

One other question does not seem to bother the author. As a patriot and as a socialist, why did Menon believe that he could best serve these causes by working out of Britain? Menon was a thinking man and it is reasonable to expect that he had made the choice after some consideration. It is difficult to accept that he had deliberately taken the soft option. Menon, like many of his generation, was attracted by what was happening in the Soviet Union in the Thirties. How did he reconcile his values with the tyranny of Josef Stalin? Did he, like so many left-minded persons of that time, will himself to be duped?

These are all complex and vexed questions that Chakravarty chooses to ignore. Consequently, his book is heavily tilted towards paraphrasing and narrative at the expense of analysis. Despite this, the narrative is rich. This is a competent book, not a great one; a solid book but not one that radiates light. It is a book that all institutional libraries should have on their shelves. Only the genuine Menon acolyte (if there are any!) will venture to buy it.


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Postby ramana » 30 Jun 2006 23:33

I think Menon's real work started after 1936. Wasnt he still in UK during the war years?

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Postby Paul » 30 Jun 2006 23:52

If I recall correctly, it was the India league that published the full page ads detalining Pakistan and Mush's perfidy in the major US newspapers during the Kargil war.

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Postby Gerard » 04 Jul 2006 04:11

Fearful Symmetry: India-Pakistan Crises in the Shadow of Nuclear Weapons

by Sumit Ganguly and Devin T. Hagerty
University of Washington Press, 223 pages, $55/$25
Reviewed by Ashok K. Mehta

The state of South Asian stability in general—and Indo-Pakistani tensions in particular—depends on who you ask. Pakistan has consistently highlighted the instability factor owing to the long-standing Kashmir dispute. In this way, it keeps Kashmir in the news. The U.S. has periodically exaggerated the nuclear flashpoint theory, initially to cap and roll back India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear programs and later to establish a nuclear restraint regime. India, caught between the two, has contended that instability stems from Pakistan and Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir, not from possession of nuclear weapons.

The situation is actually more stable than it is usually presented. But why is this so? In 2004, officials from both India and Pakistan stated that nuclear weapons are a factor in the region’s stability. Messrs. Ganguly and Hagerty claim that nuclear deterrence prevailed in all but the first two of a total of six military crises between India and Pakistan—in 1984 and during the Indian army’s Exercise Brasstacks of 1986-87. However, from an Indian perspective, only two of the six—Kargil and the military confrontation of 2001-02—really fit the bill.

This book examines the crisis behavior of the two nuclear neighbors in the light of three propositions: nuclear deterrence, conventional deterrence and the role of U.S. intervention. India and Pakistan may have fought three wars and had several border skirmishes, but the authors forget that these were rather short and civilized affairs. For example, population centers were never bombed, and each side recognized the other’s tolerance level. Neither side enjoyed a decisive military superiority that allowed a blitzkrieg or heavy attrition. Most of these crises led to initiation of confidence-building measures.

At the heart of the 1984 crisis was the fear in Pakistan of a preventive attack on its nuclear facility in Kahuta by Indian Air Force Jaguars. Inherent in the implied threat was the possibility of retaliation, or even pre-emption, by Pakistan, which would put at risk India’s nuclear reactors and reprocessing plants, creating grave danger of radioactive contamination in population centers. The authors argue rather strenuously that both India and Pakistan were dissuaded by what is known as “boosted conventional deterrence.â€

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Postby putnanja » 15 Jul 2006 02:54

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

I got this book from a local library. Just read the first few pages on how Ecuador was plundered by the US and other MNCs and governments. A very interesting book on how all the IMF/World bank etc experts force the countries to "globalize" their economies so that they can make more money off them, with potentially harmful effects for the victim country. Will post a full review once I finish the book.

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Postby rsingh » 15 Jul 2006 03:10

There was an interview with author .......I think on BBC. Speaks about how Lula was pacified etc etc.

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Postby svinayak » 03 Aug 2006 22:31


Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya (Hardcover)
by Caroline Elkins

Some claim that the British Empire was run well and handed over peacefully, unlike the Belgian Congo or French Algeria (both backed by the British state anyway).

This outstanding book exposes those lies, showing how colonial government forces in Kenya killed between 200,000 and 300,000 people in the 1950s. Elkins details the government `campaign of terror, dehumanizing torture, and genocide' marked by detention without trial, forced labour, collective punishments, deprivation of medical care, systematic starvation and murders.

The colonial government stole the Kenyan people's land, starved them and then blamed them for not feeding their children properly. Using the same tactics as in South Africa and Malaya, the imperial forces torched the homes of a million Kenyans then forcibly resettled them into compounds behind barbed wire.

The people resisted and fought for their freedom. The judge at the nationalist leaders' trial, who got 20000 for his verdict, admitted that it was a national liberation struggle when he denounced `this foul scheme of driving the Europeans from Kenya'.

The British government demonised all who opposed colonialism as `terrorists'.
It detained without trial up to 320,000 people in punishment camps, where the official policy was systematic brutality, using sexual violence and humiliation. Guards were indoctrinated into a fascist mentality, describing and treating Africans as animals. The assistant police commissioner said that camp conditions were worse than he had experienced in Japanese POW camps.

Critics asked how many camps were run by British forces. How many people had been arrested and detained? On what charges? Were they made to work in the camps? If so, for how long and in what conditions? Was there any disease or malnutrition in the camps? Were there any deaths?

The British government tried to maintain the absolute virtue of its rule by admitting nothing, lying systematically. `Incidents' of abuse were always `isolated', carried out by the lowest members of the colonial hierarchy. It set up powerless internal inquiries run by those responsible for the atrocities. It smeared nationalist leaders, witnesses and critics as `self-interested' and `prejudiced'.

The Empire was no civilising mission; it was a way to steal other people's land and labour power and murder them when they resisted.

British colonial history
Mau Mau and the bodysnatchers

Dec 29th 2004
From The Economist print edition
How not to run an empire

THE common image of the Mau Mau fighter is hard to erase: dirty, sullen and intransigent, with hair matted into dreadlocks from his months on the run in Kenya's equatorial forests. From the start, Mau Mau was cast as a throwback from a dark and primitive past, with its blood oaths and its disembowellings. Not since the Black Hole of Calcutta did a single phrase so instantly conjure up the forces of evil that Britain's civilising mission abroad was supposed to be doing its best to overcome. Elspeth Huxley, the white settlers' literary spokesman, wrote in 1957 that Mau Mau was the “yell from the swampâ€

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Postby ramana » 08 Aug 2006 20:38

Pioneer Book review, 8 Aug 2006
Rising for a lesser cause

If one believes the account of Field Marshal Lord Roberts, the revolt of 1857 was nothing more than the last and desperate attempt by Muslims to reimpose their superiority over Indian politics, write Prafull Goradia and KR Phanda

An Eye Witness Account of The Indian Mutiny, Field Marshall Lord Roberts of Kandahar; Mittal Publications, $60

This book, An Eye Witness Account of the Indian Mutiny, by Field Marshal Lord Frederick Roberts of Kandahar needs to be read for more than one reason. First, it proves that the 1857 uprising was a sepoy mutiny. Second, it was the last attempt by Muslims to recover their own rule from the British. The epicentre of the mutiny was the erstwhile kingdom of Oudh. The role of the Hindu princes was only peripheral. Third, the decision of the Government of India to celebrate now the Mutiny as the First War of Independence would amount to heaping insult on the sacrifices made by the Rajputs, the Marathas, the Jats and the Sikhs to throw out the Muslim invaders from India.

Between Lord Roberts and his father Major General Sir Abraham Roberts, they had spent almost 90 years in India. Frederick was in India from 1852 to 1893. He participated in quelling the mutiny at several places including Delhi. In his own words:

"The first threatening of coming trouble were heard in the early part of 1857. During the months of February, March and April rumours reached us at Peshwar of mysterious chapattis (unleavened cakes) being sent about the country with the object, it was alleged, of preparing the natives for some forthcoming event. We heard that the 19th Native Infantry at Berhampore, a military station about 100 miles from Calcutta, had broken open the bells-of-arms... that a sepoy named Mangal Pandey at Barrackpore had wounded the Adjutant and Sergant Major of his regiment; and that Sepoys at the Schools of Musketry had objected to use the cartridges served out with new rifles" (p-34).

As the news spread, the native regiments based in Peshwar, Naushera, Umbala, Mian Mir (Lahore), Multan, Ferozpore and other places were disarmed. The happenings at Meerut triggered the revolt elsewhere; and, it is from there that the sepoys marched to Delhi and declared Bahadur Shah as badshah. Soon, thereafter, some 85 soldiers refused to receive the rifle cartridges on the suspicion that these were greased with lard and cow fat. On enquiry, they were found guilty and punished severely. In retaliation, the British officers, their wives and children and every European on the outskirts of the Meerut Cantonment were massacred. Meanwhile, Delhi fell into Muslim hands. It took three months before General Wilson established his headquarters at the Red Fort. "Every eye," Lord Canning wrote, "is upon Oudh as it was on Delhi.''

The Gurkhas and the Sikhs helped in the recapture of the Imambara in Lucknow. The city was recaptured on March 14, 1858. But for the sagacity of diplomacy and the cleverness of strategy, the British would not have been able to recapture north-west India. They received cooperation from the Amir of Afghanistan, the Sikhs and the Gurkhas of Nepal. Commissioner of Lahore Division Sir John Lawrence had strongly advocated the policy of trusting the Maharaja of Patiala and the Rajas of Jind and Nabha. Douglas Forsyth, the Deputy Commissioner of Ambala, met the Maharaja and addressed him thus:

"Maharaja Sahib answer me one question: Are you for us or against us?" The Maharaja's reply was: "As long as I live, I am yours."

To the question what brought about the cataclysm, Roberts says: "The causes which brought about the mutiny were so various and some of them of such long standing, that it is difficult to point them out as concisely as I could wish. Mahommedans looked back to the days of their empire in India but failed to remember how completely. Their maulvis taught them it was only lawful for true Mussalmans to submit to the rule of an infidel if there was no possibility of successful revolt, and they watched for the chance of again being able to make Islam supreme. The late Sir George Campbell says that the mutiny was a sepoy revolt, not a Hindu rebellion" (p-231-24).

The annexation of Oudh by the British was considered unjust by Muslims. Their other grievance was the treatment meted out to Bahadur Shah, the last Mughal emperor. In this context, it needs to be pointed out that when Lord Lake captured Delhi in 1803, it was made clear to him that his place of residence would be shifted out of the Red Fort; and his successors would not be called badshah. Thus, the Muslims were aggrieved on several counts and the Meerut mutineers marched to Delhi and proclaimed him as the badshah of India.

Indian historical episodes have seldom been looked upon from the Hindu, as distinct from the Muslim, view point. Most of the time studies have been as if the communities were incidental and they were actually one people with a common heritage. If anything, it is the British who did not hesitate to make distinction. For example, Roberts quotes Sir John Campbell summing up that the mutiny was not a Hindu rebellion. On the other hand, the author himself has highlighted that other than the sepoys, the two great political causes were Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah and the Nawab of Oudh, both Muslim and both perceived to have been deprived of their hereditary thrones.

Although it was not the soldier's business to analyse politics, a professional historian should not miss the point that the primary losers at the hands of the British were Muslims and not Hindus. Most of north India, except Rajasthan, was ruled by a badshah or a nawab who, in turn, had gifted large tracts of lands to his allies and satellites who were also mostly Muslim. The Hindu, on the other hand, had benefited from the advent of the East India Company, which demonstrated since the Battle of Plassey, 1757, that it had the military capability to defeat nawabs.

True, the sepoys must have had their grievances such as the new Enfield cartridges, but the substantive economic interests that were lost had belonged to Muslims. Due to the permanent land settlement of Lord Cornwallis, most of the zamindaris that were auctioned were taken up by Hindus, although earlier most of the land had been the jagirs of Muslims.

The book is, in any case, a ready diary on the basis of which those decades of Indian history can be interpreted by students of history.

It is in this context that W.W. Hunter's later book about the Indian Mussalman becomes significant and leads to Edmund Blunt's book and and the Pakistan project.

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Postby Paul » 11 Aug 2006 07:30

X-post from Islamist thread

A new book 'The Shia Revival' by Vali Nasr has come out. I chanced to read it at Barnes & Noble today. This book is a must read to understand terrorist Islamo-facist Islam and the influnce Shia Islam has played in reveving this cult.

This is probably the first book that focusses exclusively on the Shia Revival in the last 20 years and covers comprehensively the events and thoughts that impact the current Islamist war between revivalist Islam and the Kufr and also sunni/shia conflicts.

What I found refreshing about this book is that it covers the Indian subcontinent's influence on Shia Islam in detail and also talks about the Shia Bahmani, Awadhi, and other Shia influences fom India. The Ismails, Khojas, Bohras, etc. have all been included as being part of Shia Islam.

Couple of interesting points:
1. Khomeini was not happy about Bhutto being hanged by Zia as Bhutto came from a Shia family. After coming to power he even threatened Zia with a similar fate as the Shah.

2. The ideological fathers of the Iranian revolution, Dr. Ali Shariati and Mahmoud Talegami (not sure about their names) had deep intellectual discussions with Marxists in Iranian Jails where they were imprisoned by the SAVAK. Their thoughts and discourse was influenced by Marxist thought and has also impacted the current Islamist madness sweeping the Middle east.

IMO in addition to the wahabi and Deobandi school attention should also be given to how the so called moderate muslims like the Ismails played a key role in moulding muslim perceptions in pre-independent India and Iran.

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Postby John Snow » 11 Aug 2006 08:58

Jon Stewart interviewed this guy on Comedy central

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Postby ramana » 18 Aug 2006 20:54

Pioneer book review, 18 August 2006
Making mountain of a molehill

The playwright composed a soulful drama; the reviewer got stuck in a minute footnote and damned it with an erroneous epilogue, as in ages has come a classic study of events in India with such linguistic merit by a diplomat and former Army officer, says MV Kamath

A Call To Honour: In Service of Emergent India, Jaswant Singh; Rupa & Co, Rs 495

There is something wrong with our media. Judging from the hours of airtime and reams of newsprint wasted on whether or not there was a mole in PV Narasimha Rao's PMO as hinted in Jaswant Singh's delightful memoirs, A Call To Honour, a mountain was made out of a molehill when a more sensible approach would have been to review the book on its own, which surely would have paid rich dividends to the reader. For it is years since a diplomat and a former Army officer has written such a classic study of events in India, especially in the last three decades, with such fluency and linguistic merit.

The book is not, by any means, an autobiography in the strictest sense of the term.

When Jaswant Singh describes his work as belonging to a 'distinct genre' he is eminently believable, considering that a great deal of the work is devoted to an analysis of events such as Pokhran II and the implosion of nuclear apartheid, the troubled times that India went through in its relations with Pakistan, China and the US.

Born in 1938, Jaswant Singh was too young to truly appreciate the trauma of partition. His joint family lived with Muslim neighbours for years in a long-standing tradition of goodwill that nothing could break. In his concept of India's treacherous neighbour there is no sense of ill will. He says, Pakistan may aspire to be "a modern extension of the Mughal dynasty" but it is no more than a gross misreading of historical reality. Pakistan, for Jaswant Singh, unfortunately is no more than a "rented state" and its cultural links with Central Asia (which India had through centuries) do not make Pakistan "a boundary land". And what is keeping Pakistan together is "only hostility towards India".

Jaswant Singh has no illusions about India either, whose independence, he says, was won "not by any account peaceful" but as a result of "a hastily abandonment of imperial authority by an utterly fatigued Britain, drained by the Second World War" - true even if not very flattering of the independence struggle non-violently waged by thousands.

Most admirable, however, is Jaswant Singh's brief but intensely relevant references to secularism which, in India, he insists, "is not and cannot be a separation of the church and the state", considering that in sanatana thought "there can be no such thing as an all-embracing, all-powering church". As Jaswant Singh sees it, "Religion is an essentially semitic enterprise." Sanatana dharma cannot discriminate, it is sanatana for all living on India's soil and accepts everything whether atheism, non-duality or self-obliterating faith.

Accommodation is not incorporation which gives India its "all inclusiveness". He adds, "That is what 'Hindutva' is and that is why it is so vital that we do not jib at the very thought of it." Further, he argues, "The word 'Hindutva' is, in reality, an extension of 'Bharatva' rather than any flanking manoeuvre by this often derided 'Hindu nationalism' as an anti-Islam/ Christianity, etc., thought." Very well, and clearly stated.

To that he adds, "Hindutva has gathered an totally 'undeserved' imagery of extremism. This is sad. 'Hindutva' in its essence is so profoundly humanist that its reality will remain, it cannot be altered, no matter what the prejudices, the propagated imagery or the wrong practices... There is only one culture in India. It is Indian, thus Hindu or Bharatiya - choose what name you will. But to separate, to discriminate and then, simultaneously, wish to integrate does great injustice to the essence of India." Never before has Hindutva been so beautifully, and accurately, defined.

As Union Minister of Defence, External Affairs and Finance in the BJP-led NDA Government, Jaswant Singh invariably trod many paths, handled several issues with panache and was a major player in the release of 166 passengers aboard the Indian Airlines plane, which was hijacked and flown to Kandahar, Afghanistan. The latter is a traumatic story in itself. But what is touching is the praise levied on some passengers whose "stoic reserve and courage'' came for high praise by other passengers. Jaswant Singh exposes the hypocrisies of the Americans, the deceitfulness of the Pakistani leaders led by Gen Musharraf, especially in the matter of Kargil and the bravery of Indian soldier who fought in the mountains and drove the Pakistani thugs out.

He considers the Kargil war "to be the most outstanding demonstration of infantry assaults in mountain warfare anywhere, by any army, at any time''. And he adds, "Long after this conflict was over, when students of military craft from other countries visited the Kargil region, they found it impossible to believe that this simple, unassuming Indian soldier, not always equipped with the most advanced of personal weapons, had scaled these heights, mostly in the dark so as to avoid direct, aimed fire - and had fought battle after battle, winning each of them and gaining back each of those heights." Just for this account of the Kargil war and how Gen Musharraf cheated everyone, this book is worth reading.

However, what comes though shinning is the sophistication with which Jaswant Singh faced the double-faced Americans, be it Madeline Albright or Strobe Talbott, or the Chinese with whose officials he had to deal with, and some personal reminiscences. This makes the book an outstanding work of political and diplomatic reminiscences.

To run Jaswant Singh down on the remote issue of a 'mole' is not only an unworthy exercise but also calls for condemnation. He does not reveal much but what he does - as for example, in the instance of Pokhran II - carries the mark of a true statesman and gentleman politician. In the matter of Jaswant Singh, what the Army lost, India as a whole has gained. Strobe Talbott admitted as much to it, though Jaswant Singh remained reticent. Kudos to him.

This book should be recommended reading to all - the ugly media included.


Wonder that was India

Utpal K Banerjee

India: Through The Ages, Bharat Bhushan Gupta; Niyogi Offset Ltd, Rs 395

The magic of India has myriad manifestations. To capture this magic in a span of about 400 pages, beginning from the earliest of times and rounding up with the transfer of power, and then even attempt some crystal gazing into the future may seem too daunting a task to many a scholar. The admirable objective of this book is quite breath-taking, namely, to provide a panoramic view of its history and civilisation and bring "the saga of her sages and scientists, warriors and vagabonds, poets and philosophers, who, at various periods scripted the destiny of the Indian subcontinent".

To the credit of its erudite author, a substantial lot has been achieved, - highly reminiscent of Jawaharlal Nehru's magnum opus Discovery of India: In the elegance of style, in the passion for widest coverage and in the thematic arrangement - with even the present title borrowed from Nehru's Chapter Five. But where it scores is in the wealth of material not perhaps available seven decades back and the accent on historicity throughout the present tome.

The overall adulatory tone adopted on evolution of human thought process in India would have indeed met with Nehru's approving nod. The latter had admiringly cited Max Mueller's Cambridge speech of 1882: "If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them, which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant - I should point to India... But even Homer nods." Where Nehru would have frowned upon will be the present author's confidence in dating some highly uncertain events and life-spans in history, for, Nehru had admonished: "It is true that Indians are peculiarly liable to accept tradition and report as history, uncritically and without sufficient examination."

The author, right in the beginning, dilates upon 'Permanence of Change' and attempts a conjectural diagram on 'Cycle of Change'. Immediately, eminent historian Arnold Toynbee comes to mind whose dialectic on the historical time-cycle is worth noting. Similarly, the progress of society from agricultural to industrial, then to service, and finally to leisure society - with concerns for land, material, capital and information - have been extensively dealt with by Herman Kahn and Alvin Toffler elsewhere and need a cross-referencing for any generalisation as done here. The author's 'Introduction' urges the reader to look at the enigma: "That makes Indian society one of the happiest on earth, although the majority of people remains poor!" How about the flip side: Large-scale suicides of farmers and the easy preying and killing by the Maoists in large tracts?

On the positive side, the author provides well-researched accounts of Indian heritage, in the form of a connected narrative - from Vedas and Upanishads to Buddha and Mahavira to Nanak and Kabir to, finally, Vivekananda and Gandhi.

Ignoring some minor errors of omission and commission in a far-ranging work like this, the author needs encomium for both his depth and breadth. The only regret is that brevity is a great virtue and some prudent editing of the material to sift grain from the chaff would have been highly called for. In fine, three basic points need be noted. One, there should be a comprehensive bibliography where the authenticity of the very large number of facts outlined and inferences drawn could be linked for substantiation, and areas drawn for further reading. Two, an index is very essential for search and reference of the points made.

Finally, it seems a largely north-centric account and, barring the story of Sankaracharya, the history of south India seems to have gone by default, which is a pity.
The low price is decidedly a boon to the reader, but an absence of visuals tends to make the reading an effort.

Looks like a worthwhile book despite its minor quibbles.

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Postby Paul » 19 Aug 2006 01:04 ... /dia.htm#5

Question for SBajwa and other Punjab experts.

I read somewhere that former West Punjab CM, Arif Nakai is a descendant of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Why they have to convert to Islam?

Are there any descendents of Maharaja Ranjit Singh living in India today?

Punjab in colonial times

By Dr Tahir Kamran

Punjab was a latecomer to the imperial fold of the British Empire (1849). Yet it did not prevent the region from securing a large quantum of scholarly attention during the 98 years (1849-1947) of British rule. Therefore Punjab came under close scrutiny of the British who tried to appropriate vast corpus of information and knowledge about the region.

The colonisers instituted census, conducted ethnographical surveys, brought out settlement reports and initiated studies on castes, kinships and religious communities. Orientalist texts like 'Punjab Castes' by Sir Denzil Ibbetson, 'Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt' by Malcolm Darling, 'Punjab Peasants and the Moneylenders in the Punjab' by S S Thorburn, 'A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of Punjab & NWFP' by Denzil Ibbetson, E D Maclagan and H A Rose and 'Legends of the Punjab' by R C Temple were composed with the aim to ascribe new definitions of the history, culture and sociology of the Punjab. Thus by accumulating all possible knowledge about the annexed region, the colonisers could reconstruct not only its past but deploy it as best as they could to establish and then consolidate their hegemony -- in the Gramcian sense -- over the Punjab.

As a logical consequence, a vast majority of works on the history and sociology of the Punjab bear profound imprints of these colonial texts. History of the Punjab, like the one written by Syed Muhammad Latif, had as a leitmotif blessings of the British rule and demonising its predecessors.

Colonial control over the Punjab was unremitting. It was deprived of its own language, Punjabi. Urdu was accorded the status of the vernacular immediately after the British took over the reins of power in the Punjab. Along with taking such measures that wrought tectonic changes in the cultural landscape of the Punjab, the administrative officers assumed the responsibility of conducting anthropological surveys of the region. A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of Punjab & NWFP by Denzil Ibbetson, E D Maclagan and H A Rose is one such exhaustive survey that was based on the census carried out in 1892 and published for first time in 1911. That account consists of three large volumes, which has been translated into Urdu by Mr. Yasir Jawad and published by Book Home, Lahore. The Urdu translation too comprises three relatively abridged volumes namely Zatoon ka Encyclopedia, Punjab key Rasm o Rawaj ka Encyclopedia and Punjab: Mazhabi Firkon aur Sufi Silsalon Ka Encyclopedia.

The customs and conventions of the Punjabis are quite thoroughly studied and minutely described on the exact pattern that was adopted while conducting census from 1855 onwards. Hindu customs have been dealt with separately than the Muslim customs -- driving the communal wedge between the two communities who had been living side by side for centuries. They did not waste much time in getting to work.The methodology and treatment of the subject employed in the book succinctly suggest the typical way the colonialists viewed the colonies. They dissected the region under their control through variegated instruments and religious difference had been the most conspicuous among other differences like ones emanating from the caste, kinship and tribal heterogeneity etc. The rites and rituals sanctioned by religion and approved by the time honoured cultural practices form the central theme of the 'Punjab key Rasm-o-Rawaj ka Encyclopedia'. It covers pregnancy rites to the birth of the child and practices employed on the occasions of marriage to the death of Punjabi Hindus and Muslims respectively. It makes valuable reading for those interested about the sociology of the Punjab during the colonial period.

The essential ethos of the Punjabi culture is implicit in Sufism and the message of universal love that it disseminates. Any study on the sociology and the culture of the Punjab is not deemed complete with out alluding to the Sufi order operating in the region from time to time and also the poetic idiom which was deployed quite effectively. Thus the last volume 'Punjab: Mazhabi Firkon aur Sufi Silsalon Ka Encyclopedia' is devoted to the detailed description of various Sufi orders like Chishtia, Qaderia and Madariah etc. -- who did not lay much stress on Shariah. The plural polity of the pre-partition Punjab could create the subtle social and cultural balance only through the flexibility that these orders warranted. Sufi orders like Suhrawardia and Naqshbandia, with their orientation towards shariah, have been casually touched.

Impact of Sufism on Sikh religion forms the most interesting part of the book. Evolution of the Sikh religion within the political and social context makes that study worthwhile -- not only for the students of social sciences but also for general readers. The translation is adequate. Although their value for the Urdu readers is immense, it must be remembered that these are basically colonial texts originally written as reference books for the Punjab administrator.

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Postby ramana » 19 Aug 2006 01:26

Book Review from the Telegraph, 18 August 2006

The ambit of Islam in the days of Ibn Batuta

Muslim Networks: From Medieval Scholars to Modern Feminists
Edited by Miriam Cooke and Bruce B. Lawrence,
Orient Longman, Rs 695

The book under review consists of articles written by thirteen Islamic scholars. The contributors are both Muslim and non-Muslim, ranging from Ibn Batuta of the 14th century to contemporary scholars.

Networks existed much before the advent of Islam. For instance, there was a trade network across the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Chinese trade links with the Arabs can be traced back to the second century BCE. Muslim traders, in fact, came to use these networks and give them added value. It is historically true that Muslim traders ventured into Asia immediately after Mohammed’s death in 632.

{BTW the spread of Islam was along these networks and the extent of their expansion was the area defined above. I also think that the ban on sea travel for Hindus came about due to this conversion business. I dont have evidence but my own intution.}

Their first Asian journey was to China where, apart from trading, they helped the Chinese emperor to quell local rebellions and thereby earned his patronage. Not only did they strengthen the existing commercial activities and cultural ties but they also ensured that some people were converted to Islam to benefit from these trade networks.

Ulema, the men of the pen, played an important role in networking. Travelling through the transnational networks, the ulema disseminated Islamic knowledge to Muslims throughout the world and created a cohesiveness and uniformity in value and culture. Besides, a sense of togetherness was created spanning thousands of miles across the globe at a time when modern communication systems were non-existent.

However, Zaman, in his article, points out a lacuna. He mentions that ulemas could communicate only with their elite counterparts. They failed to reach out to the pre-modern Muslims who were villagers and rural agriculturists. Nevertheless, their elite colleagues in different parts of the world used to communicate with fellow Muslims about judicial values and the custodians of the values, the ulema.

{The Ashraf-Ajalf divide. The ulema would communicate with their kinfolk the Ashrafs and also improve their worth in the eyes of the Ajalfs.}
Travel played a significant role in Muslim networks. Way back in the 14th century, when Sufism was in its ascendancy, zawiyas, that offered accommodation and set no time limit on the visitor’s stay, and madrasahs were opened in many places around the world to facilitate travel and the dissemination of knowledge respectively.

Trust was perhaps the most important ingredient in Islamic spirituality. Islam expects submission to the creator, the guide and arbiter of all human existence. One of the five pillars of Islam is zakat or almsgiving. Hospitality and charity were measures of one’s trust in god. Muslim rulers extended their generosity to foreign travellers, an important practice which is the social code of Muslim travel.

Ibn Batuta’s Rihla is an eloquent testimony of the life and times of Muslims. In 1325, at the age of 21, he left Tangiers and travelled through most of the world. His first journey was to Granada where he enjoyed the hospitality of the last Muslim kingdom of al Andalus.

Until the 20th century, men were the only beneficiaries of Muslim networks. Only during the annual haj were women allowed to pray along with men. But with the benefit of the internet and other electronic gadgets, Muslim networking has changed fundamentally. It is interesting that Muslim women’s associations, such as Women living under Muslim Laws, and other similar organizations are connecting Muslim women globally. Established in 1986 by the Algerian Marie-Aime Helie-Lucas, the WLUML provides information and guidance to women both in countries governed by Islamic laws and in those that are not. During the Nineties, the WLUML undertook the “Women and Lawâ€

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Postby Yerna » 19 Aug 2006 03:57

Paul wrote:Are there any descendents of Maharaja Ranjit Singh living in India today?

Duleep Singh
He was taken by the britishers after the fall of sikh empire and converted to christianity and his descendants were born to european women and probably never visited India.

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Postby Paul » 21 Aug 2006 10:16

Covergae of Indian Mutiny by the British Press

On the same date, July 18th, The Spectator continued its attack of the previous week, on the failure of the European officers to "study Native character". In a separate column of the same date, the attitude noted above with regard to the character of Hindus was again stated and this time the allusion to animal like qualities was even clearer than before; "...the Hindoo is a tractable animal when he is managed with intelligence, intractable when his European managers are negligent or indiscrete." In this edition, the paper takes the description a little further though, in describing the mutineers as "half children in understanding.... actuated by the same spirit that animates schoolboys in the "barring out."" It may at least be said that the Indians have reached human status, though only that of inferior children. This is much the same attitude as Disraeli had toward Asians. Further, in a letter to the editor published on the same date, there is evidence for just how far this notion of the Hindu character had spread. Written by an individual who claims to have been a veteran of thirty years in India (no mean feat when one considers the mortality rate) this letter reiterates the notion that Hindus are children and that it [b]has been through gross mismanagement that the insurrection occurred. This letter also calls for more equitable treatment of native officers in the form of increased pay and prestige. The theme of mismanagement as the cause of the mutiny does indeed seem to be widely accepted. However, the paper did see cause for optimism because of the dispatching of Campbell and the increase in the strength of British forces though [b]there was still concern that enough had still not been done because no one capable of settling the Hindus down through diplomacy had been dispatched.

The Indian Caste system and the British

The censuses forced the Indian social system into a written schematic in a way that had never been experienced in the past. While the Mughals had issued written decrees on the status of individual castes, there had never been a formal systematic attempt to organize and schedule all of the castes in an official document until the advent of the British censuses. The data was compiled on the basis of British understanding of India. This understanding was deeply affected by British concepts of their own past, and by British notions of race and the importance of race in relation to the human condition. Further, the intellectual framework, such as that provided by anthropology and phrenology, that was used to help create the ideas surrounding the concept of race, was foreign to the intellectual traditions of India. These concepts endured well into the 20th century and affected the analysis of the censuses throughout this period. Risley, for example, used anthropometric measurements, which were directly descended from anthropological and phrenological methodology, in his ordering of castes following the census of 1901. These same notions led to a classification of intelligence and abilities based on physical attributes, and this in turn led to employment opportunities being limited to certain caste groupings that displayed the appropriate attributes. Indians attempted to incorporate themselves into this evolving system by organizing caste sabhas with the purpose of attaining improved status within the system. This ran contrary to traditional views of the purpose of the caste system and imposed an economic basis. With this, the relevance and importance of the spiritual, non material rational for caste was degraded and caste took on a far more material meaning. In this way, caste began to intrude more pervasively into daily life and status became even more coveted and rigid. In a sense, caste became politicized as decisions regarding rank increasingly fell into the political rather than the spiritual sphere of influence. With this politicization, caste moved closer to class in connotation. The actions of the Indian people that contributed to this process were not so an much acquiescence to the British construction as they were pragmatic reactions to the necessities of material life. In expropriating the knowledge base of Indian society, the British had forced Indian society and the caste system to execute adjustments in order to prosper within the rubric of the British regime.

While the original intent may have been to gather data to assist governments in dealing with natural disaster and famine relief, the effect of the analysis of that data went far beyond these goals. Ultimately, the census provided data that allowed the British to have a much deeper effect on Indian society than might otherwise have been possible.

It will take one hundred years to rid ourselves of this virus injected into our society by the British. :(

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Postby ramana » 25 Aug 2006 20:49

Telegraph, Friday 25 August 2006
Alternative DiscourSes in Asian Social Science: Responses to Eurocentrism
By Syed Farid Alatas,
Sage, Rs 550

A short poem in Ladera Este, Octavio Paz’s book of poems, speaks of a man who “invented a face for himselfâ€

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Postby Neupane » 27 Aug 2006 23:49

Last edited by Neupane on 28 Aug 2006 00:25, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Neupane » 28 Aug 2006 00:22

Neupane wrote:The British author Douglas Murray's latest highly Controversial Book "Neoconservatism: Why we need It- paint a bleak picture of the survival of the Western civilization and it's values on the backdrop of rising intolerant Islamic terrorism -



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Postby svinayak » 28 Aug 2006 05:18

NeoConservatism: Why We Need It (Hardcover)
by Douglas Murray

Douglas Murray begins by stating that "neoconservatism is not a political party, or a social set, but a way of looking at the world. It is a deeply rooted and relevant philosophy which only seems to be out of kilter with modern thought because there is so little modern thought.

In this book, we see quite a few examples of what is supposed to pass for modern thought, so what Murray says is not really a joke.

There is a chapter on the theory and roots of neoconservatism. And we see Allan Bloom react to the university student culture of the 1960s. Bloom is quoted as saying (about this culture) that "never in history has there been such a marvelous correspondence between the good and the pleasant." And in fact, that is clearly one of the drivers for the neoconservative reaction.

Obviously, one major aspect of liberalism is the notion of equality of opportunity. However, that concept can simply degrade into the idea of "equality" in all things. And that's not a reasonable or practical political philosophy. Murray quotes William Kristol's complaints about a philosophy of equality here.

Murray cites one major incident that brought neoconservative ideas into the political forefront, namely the absurd and wicked United Nations resolution that (in 1975) equated Zionism with racism. Daniel Moynihan spoke as UN ambassador in opposition to this travesty. He explained that if there were no General Assembly, this could never have happened. And that the UN had just granted amnesty and more to the murderers of six million European Jews. And that the UN would now be regarded by many as "a place where lies are told."

Murray, to his credit, points out some aspects of this resolution that were especially significant to neoconservatives. First, it supplied surprisingly strong evidence that "world government was a dangerous and potentially tyrannical concept, giving, as it did, equal significance to freedom and tyranny, equivalent significance to right and wrong." Second, it was clear evidence that a "moral inversion" was indeed taking place; "vast swathes of the West's population, as well as their representatives, were proving incapable of telling truth from lies." And third, many supposedly reasonable people appeared persuaded by this nonsense, which allowed aggressors to "masquerade as victims."

There is some interesting material on America's reaction to the terrorism of September 11, 2001. Here, Murray quotes Robert Kagan, who says that American did not change that day; it just became "more itself." I pretty much agree here. Meanwhile, some opponents of neoconservatives have represented neoconservatism as a Jewish conspiracy (this seems strikingly like an old idea that some thought had gone out of fashion in 1945). And these sorts of accusations have been common within the anti-war movement, with some people blaming the war on a pro-Israeli lobby. My feeling about all this is that such comments ignore the three major facts: America's top policymakers are not Jewish, America's Jews tend to be more anti-war than the non-Jews, and the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq have done little to benefit Israel.

Murray then gets into the topic of moral relativism. This is a serious issue where I think both conservatives and liberals can go astray. Conservatives do risk becoming too intolerant of different (but possibly useful or enlightening) ideas. Liberals want to be more inclusive and tolerant, but that puts us at risk of becoming overly tolerant and refusing to oppose outright falsehoods or totally counterproductive behavior.

The author reminds us of the importance of valuing truth, quoting Marianne Talbot, who warns us against believing that "to suggest that someone else is wrong is at best rude and at worst immoral." Yes, one should always "be alive to the possibility that one is wrong," but one should avoid falling into the trap of thinking that "one should never be so arrogant as to believe that one is right." That's good advice.

We go from there to obvious concerns that those who fall into this trap are failing to discern the difference between "cultural defense and cultural aggression." And Murray quotes Francis Fukuyama as warning that this could create "no barriers to a future nihilistic war against liberal democracy on the part of those brought up in its bosom."

Plenty of "peace activists" have strongly criticized the war on Iraq. That's fine, but where are their counterproposals? As the author explains, they had no solutions to the Iraqi menace. That is a controversial statement, but I agree with Murray here. On the other hand, maybe there is a solution proposed by peace activists. John Pilger has recommended supporting the Iraqi "resistance." Well, that's an easy way to avoid fighting terrorists! But it seems to me to make one a Hawk: the terrorists favor a gratuitous war against the West. Not all true peace activists might want to do that! The fact that some "peace activists" do take this position merely convinces me that they were Hawks from the start.

We also see Murray criticize a similar "solution" to the problem of what to do about the Arab aggression against Israel: join it!

Murray does have some recommendations. My favorite of them is his warning that the UN is not the answer to any of these problems.

The author says that in Rotterdam, a painting of a dove with the comment "Thou shalt not kill," designed to protest the murder of Theo van Gogh, was ordered removed by the local police on the grounds that "the message was an incitement and racist." I think that incidents of this sort show that we all have some work to do in figuring out how to defend not just "Western" society but global society against those who would wreck it.

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Postby shyamd » 28 Aug 2006 13:50

RaviBg wrote:Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

I got this book from a local library. Just read the first few pages on how Ecuador was plundered by the US and other MNCs and governments. A very interesting book on how all the IMF/World bank etc experts force the countries to "globalize" their economies so that they can make more money off them, with potentially harmful effects for the victim country. Will post a full review once I finish the book.

I read it a while back, got to tell u, its a very interesting book, lots of info comes to light. It gets more interesting in the middle about Saudi Arabia.

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Postby Paul » 30 Aug 2006 02:33

A New Book on India

India in the new World Order

By Baldev Nayar and T P Paul is on the bookshelves.

Spend about 45 minutes going through it. It cover the options and choices India made in some detail. The Author thinks Nehru's ideas were good but was poor on execution as he did not pay enough attention to building of capabilities. Author very clearly points out that the P5 countries are are still very much engaged in tieing down India with Pakistan and trying to confine India to the subcontinent.

Couple of interesting snippets:

1. US was concerned and even resentful at the speed and efficiency of the integration of Princely states into the Indian Union. In a SD paper published in 1950, the possibility of India being successor to Japanese Imerialism and an obstacle to western ambitions in Asia was discussed.

2. The Asia society in 1975 conducted a study of over 300 school textbooks for negative stereotypes in the US, and found that India received the most -ve representation.

3. Majority of the US Bureaucracy has a Kiplingesque view of India.

Interestingly the Brookings Institution, Stephen Cohen and Ayesha Jalal's 's advice has been sought in writing this book.

I think this is a good book. Very different from the colonial tinted drivel churned out by Stanley Wolpert or Romila Thapar.

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Postby Atish » 30 Aug 2006 05:51

Can somebody please describe the Kiplingesque attitude mentioned?


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Postby ramana » 31 Aug 2006 21:56

Google Book- India in the New World Order

Get a google e-mail account and read the book. I am buying the book. B. R Nayar is one of fav authors settled in Canada.

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Postby ramana » 31 Aug 2006 23:02

The Good Empire

Should we pick up where the British left off?

Vivek Chibber

Colossus: The Price of America's Empire
Niall Ferguson
The Penguin Press, $25.95 (cloth)

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Postby Anand K » 31 Aug 2006 23:03

Kiplingesque view:

"White Man's Burden". We-HAVE-to-save-these-wretched-untermenschen-by-lording-over-them.

These types respected the "noble savages", loved the untamed frontiers, the gilded cage and the tiger hunts, doted on the loyal martial tribes, ogled at the exotic tawaifs and the nautch girls..... hated the pesky Bengali intellectuals (there was this satirical poem on an intellectual Bengali demanding gun license I forget right now)..... hated and grossly misunderstood the Indian culture and religion. Most of all they were dismissive and most unimpressed by (sometimes ignorant of) India's past, her wisdom and her contributions.

Kipling spent his impressionable years in India.... he was very influenced by the power of the Raj, the servitude of the "rao Bahadurs" and Rajas towards even a Gora Asst DM fresh out of the ICS school. He wasn't the first one of this kind..... but he was the one who said it best. Ryder haggard comes a close second.... but that's on Africa.

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Postby svinayak » 09 Sep 2006 11:46

Critique of Pure Reason (Paperback)
by Immanuel Kant, Paul Guyer (Editor), Allen W. Wood (Editor)

"Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is one of the seminal and monumental works in the history of Western philosophy

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is considered one of the giants of philosophy, of his age or any other. It is largely this book that provides the foundation of this assessment. Whether one loves Kant or hates him (philosophically, that is), one cannot really ignore him; even when one isn't directly dealing with Kantian ideas, chances are great that Kant is made an impact.

Kant was a professor of philosophy in the German city of Konigsberg, where he spent his entire life and career. Kant had a very organised and clockwork life - his habits were so regular that it was considered that the people of Konigsberg could set their clocks by his walks. The same regularity was part of his publication history, until 1770, when Kant had a ten-year hiatus in publishing. This was largely because he was working on this book, the 'Critique of Pure Reason'.

Kant as a professor of philosophy was familiar with the Rationalists, such as Descartes, who founded the Enlightenment and in many ways started the phenomenon of modern philosophy. He was also familiar with the Empiricist school (John Locke and David Hume are perhaps the best known names in this), which challenged the rationalist framework. Between Leibniz' monads and Hume's development of Empiricism to its logical (and self-destructive) conclusion, coupled with the Romantic ideals typified by Rousseau, the philosophical edifice of the Enlightenment seemed about to topple.

Kant rode to the rescue, so to speak. He developed an idea that was a synthesis of Empirical and Rationalist ideas. He developed the idea of a priori knowledge (that coming from pure reasoning) and a posterior knowledge (that coming from experience) and put them together into synthetic a priori statements as being possible. Knowledge, for Kant, comes from a synthesis of pure reason concepts and experience. Pure thought and sense experience were intertwined. However, there were definite limits to knowledge. Appearance/phenomenon was different from Reality/noumena - Kant held that the unknowable was the 'ding-an-sich', roughly translated as the 'thing-in-itself', for we can only know the appearance and categorial aspects of things.

Kant was involved heavily in scientific method, including logic and mathematical methods, to try to describe the various aspects of his development. This is part of what makes Kant difficult reading for even the most dedicated of philosophy students and readers. He spends a lot of pages on logical reasoning, including what makes for fallacious and faulty reasoning. He also does a good deal of development on the ideas of God, the soul, and the universe as a whole as being essentially beyond the realm of this new science of metaphysics - these are not things that can be known in terms of the spatiotemporal realm, and thus proofs and constructs about them in reason are bound to fail.

Kant does go on to attempt to prove the existence of God and the soul (and other things) from moral grounds, but that these cannot be proved in the scientific methodology of his metaphysics and logic. This book presents Kant's epistemology and a new concept of metaphysics that involves transcendental knowledge, a new category of concepts that aims to prove one proposition as the necessary presupposition of another. This becomes the difficulty for later philosophers, but it does become a matter that needs to be addressed by them.

As Kant writes at the end of the text, 'The critical path alone is still open. If the reader has had the courtesy and patience to accompany me along this path, he may now judge for himself whether, if he cares to lend his aid in making this path into a high-road, it may not be possible to achieve before the end of the present century what many centuries have not been able to accomplish; namely, to secure for human reason complete satisfacton in regard to that with which it has all along so eagerly occupied itself, though hitherto in vain.' This is heavy reading, but worthwhile for those who will make the journey with Kant.


Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (Hardcover)
by Robert Pape

Suicide terrorism is rising around the world, but there is great confusion as to why. In this paradigm-shifting analysis, University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape has collected groundbreaking evidence to explain the strategic, social, and individual factors responsible for this growing threat.

One of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject, Professor Pape has created the first comprehensive database of every suicide terrorist attack in the world from 1980 until today. With striking clarity and precision, Professor Pape uses this unprecedented research to debunk widely held misconceptions about the nature of suicide terrorism and provide a new lens that makes sense of the threat we face.

FACT: Suicide terrorism is not primarily a product of Islamic fundamentalism.

FACT: The world’s leading practitioners of suicide terrorism are the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka–a secular, Marxist-Leninist group drawn from Hindu families.

FACT: Ninety-five percent of suicide terrorist attacks occur as part of coherent campaigns organized by large militant organizations with significant public support.

FACT: Every suicide terrorist campaign has had a clear goal that is secular and political: to compel a modern democracy to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland.

FACT: Al-Qaeda fits the above pattern. Although Saudi Arabia is not under American military occupation per se, one major objective of al-Qaeda is the expulsion of U.S. troops from the Persian Gulf region, and as a result there have been repeated attacks by terrorists loyal to Osama bin Laden against American troops in Saudi Arabia and the region as a whole.

FACT: Despite their rhetoric, democracies–including the United States–have routinely made concessions to suicide terrorists. Suicide terrorism is on the rise because terrorists have learned that it’s effective.

In this wide-ranging analysis, Professor Pape offers the essential tools to forecast when some groups are likely to resort to suicide terrorism and when they are not. He also provides the first comprehensive demographic profile of modern suicide terrorist attackers. With data from more than 460 such attackers–including the names of 333–we now know that these individuals are not mainly poor, desperate criminals or uneducated religious fanatics but are often well-educated, middle-class political activists.

More than simply advancing new theory and facts, these pages also answer key questions about the war on terror:

• Are we safer now than we were before September 11?
• Was the invasion of Iraq a good counterterrorist move?
• Is al-Qaeda stronger now than it was before September 11?

Professor Pape answers these questions with analysis grounded in fact, not politics, and recommends concrete ways for today’s states to fight and prevent terrorist attacks. Military options may disrupt terrorist operations in the short term, but a lasting solution to suicide terrorism will require a comprehensive, long-term approach–one that abandons visions of empire and relies on a combined strategy of vigorous homeland security, nation building in troubled states, and greater energy independence.

For both policy makers and the general public, Dying to Win transcends speculation with systematic scholarship, making it one of the most important political studies of recent time.

About the Author
Robert A. Pape is associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago, where he teaches international politics and is the director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism. A distinguished scholar of national security affairs, he writes widely on coercive airpower, economic sanctions, international moral action, and the politics of unipolarity and has taught international relations at Dartmouth College and air strategy for the U.S. Air Force’s School of Advanced Airpower Studies. He is a contributor to The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, and The Washington Post and has appeared on ABC’s Nightline and World News Tonight, National Public Radio, and other national television and radio programs.

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Postby Gerard » 11 Sep 2006 02:08

Examining India
Edward Luce’s In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India isn’t that sort of book. It doesn’t make overreaching judgements; it’s content to observe and chronicle, which is often the best anyone can do with a country this vast and complex.

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Postby Paul » 12 Sep 2006 05:36

From DC....So what's next? 007 or Tintin come to Kerala on a secret mission...looking for Aishwarya Rai's sister perhaps. Mangalore is not far from Mallapuram.

Kerala jihad hotbed in book 9/11/2006 11:49:12 PM
- By K. Venugopal

Thiruvananthapuram, Sept. 11: Master thriller writer Frederick Forsyth’s latest novel Afghan presents Kerala as a hotbed of Islamic extremism.

Once a fertile land for communism, Kerala had now become a terrain receptive to Islamic extremism, says the author of the world-famous The Day of the Jackal in his new fast-paced novel.

Forsyth, known for meticulous research and deft plot-weaving, focuses on a major attack being planned by the Al Qaeda and the attempt by Western intelligence agencies to foil it in his new thriller.

To infiltrate the Al Qaeda, a veteran British intelligence operative is substituted for an Afghan Taliban commander in US custody, and is "allowed" to escape.

He finds his way into the inner circles of the terrorist network where the plot to attack a summit of Western leaders if being given final shape.

Interestingly enough, two members of the suicide squad deputed by the Al Qaeda to attack the ship hosting the summit are Keralites. It is here that Forsyth muses about the radicalisation of Indian Muslims and Kerala being a breeding ground for Islamic fundamentalism.

Noted Malayalam writer N.S. Madhavan has contested Forsyth’s portrayal and said that the author had no idea of Kerala’s psyche.

"It is not that there are no extremists in Kerala, but the peace-loving people of Kerala have perfected the technique to keep them within bounds," he said. "No type of extremism will be tolerated by Malayalees."

However, according to a senior police officer, the spread of Islamic extremism has been strongly evident in Kerala ever since the demolition of Babri Masjid and the alienation of Muslim youth from the mainstream Indian Union Muslim League.

"Recent raids have proved beyond doubt that the Students Islamic Movement of India is active in the state and that its workers had infiltrated other organisations."

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Postby svinayak » 13 Sep 2006 23:43

The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims (Hardcover)
by Andrew G Bostom

See video of the author

THis is a copy of Sita Ram Goel book

The politically correct would have it that Islam is a religion of peace, but in this far-ranging collection of Muslim and non-Muslim eyewitness accounts, theological treatises by great Muslim scholars and jurists throughout history and historical surveys of superb historians, Islam has in fact practiced a grisly jihad campaign against non-Muslims from its earliest days, in the hope of satisfying the Prophet Mohammed's end goal---forcing the "one true faith" upon the entire world.

In 759 pages, divided into eight parts, Dr. Andrew Bostom has provided a fantastic compendium of historical surveys; jihad literature; classical Muslim scholarly treatises; historical overviews from important 20th century historians; foldout, color-coded maps; eyewitness accounts of jihad campaigns from the Near East, Asia Minor, Europe and the Indian subcontinent; historical and contemporary accounts of jihad slavery; and Muslim and non-Muslim chronicles and eyewitness accounts of jihad campaigns.

It is hard, after viewing these compelling accounts and histories, to continue to believe that radical Islamists are in fact all that radical. For Islam, at its core, seems to be a faith bent upon the conquest and subjugation of non-Muslims.

In part two, Bostom collects many jihadist teachings in the Qur'an, for example, Qur'an chapter 9, verse 29, "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the last day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and his apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of truth even if they are the people of the book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and fell themselves subdued." These teachings fill all of two pages in the text.

But Bostom does not stop there. The third chapter is devoted to classical and modern teachings of Qur'anic commentators on Chapter 9, verse 29. Al-Suyuti (d. 1505 CE), for example, writes "Fight those who don't believe in God nor in the Last Day [Unless they believe in the Prophet God bless him and grant him peace] nor hold what is forbidden that which God and His emissary have forbidden [e.g. Wine] nor embrace the true faith [which is firm and abrogates other faiths, i.e., the Islamic religion] from among [for distinguishing] those who were given the Book [i.e., the Jews and Christians] until they give the head-tax [i.e., the annual taxes imposed on them] (l'an yadinl) humbly submissive, and obedient to Islam's rule."

Also commenting on the Qur'anic chapter 9, verse 29 are al-Zamakshari (d. 1144), al Tabari (d. 923), al-Beidawi (d. 1286), Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966) and al-Azhar, al-Muntakhab Fii Tafsir al-Qur'aan al-Kariim, 1985. Let no one say that Bostom has taken these teachings out of context, for the classical and contemporary commentators interpret the passage in precisely the same way as it appears.

Chapter 4 is then devoted to jihad in the Hadith, with commentary from Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.

Part 3 presents the classical writings of Muslim theologians and jurists on jihad. This 110-page section spans the entire history of Islam, beginning with commentators from the 8th century and continuing through the 20th century. Bostom has gleaned writings of Malik B. Anas (d. 795) from the Muwata, as well as a 1915 Ottoman Fatwa.

He also includes several works translated into English for the first time. For example, Ibn Qudama (d. 1223), writes, "Legal war (jihad) is an obligatory social duty (fard-kifaya); when one group of Muslims guarantees that it is being carried out in a satisfactory manner, the others are exempted." Almost everywhere in this text, the author is belligerent. "It is permitted to surprise the infidels under cover of night, to bombard them with mangonels [an engine that hurls missiles] and to attack them without declaring battle (du'a)."

Similarly, the renowned Sufi master al-Ghazali (d. 1111) writes (now in English for the first time), "One must go on jihad (i.e. Warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year... one may use a catapult against them [non-Muslims] when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and drown them." The marriages of slaves, al-Ghazali continues, are automatically "revoked. One may cut down their trees.... One must destroy their useless books." This belies the notion that Sufism is peaceful.

Al-Hilli (d. 1277) appears for the first time in English on the traditions concerning the tax on certain infidels, who have not been enslaved or murdered. And the Persian scholar Muhammad al-Amili (d. 1621) has been translated from Farsi concerning Jihad holy war: "Islamic holy war against followers of other religions, such as Jews, is required unless they convert to Islam or pay the poll tax."

The 117-page Part 4 includes overviews of Jihad by important 20th century scholars, including Edmond Fagnan, on jihad according to the Malikite school, Roger Arnaldez on the holy war according to Ibn Hazm of Cordova, Clement Huart on the law of war, Nicolas P. Agnides, on the classification of persons under Islamic law and John Ralph Willis on the jihad ideology of enslavement.

As Ibn Warraq notes in the forward to this monumental study of Islamic jurisprudence and prosecution of war, Dr. Bostom (a non-specialist from the field of clinical medicine) is the first scholar to have had translated from Arabic into English the works of al-Bayadawi, al-Suyuti, al-Zamakhshari and al-Tabari, as well as works by Sufi master al-Ghazali, Shiites al-Hilli and al-Amili. He also includes representatives from the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence-Averroes and Ibn Khaldun (Maliki), Ibn Taymiya and Ibn Qudama (Hanbali), Shaybani (Hanafi), and al-Mawardi (Shaafi).

Ibn Warraq continues: Some contend that Dr. Bostom is right to expose history hitherto denied, but this was not the right historical moment to do so. But, as Isaiah Berlin once noted, from the ideologue's willingness to suppress what he suspects to be true has flowed much evil.

--Alyssa A. Lappen

When we speak of the expanse of the Roman empire, the Persian empire, Alexander, the Isralite nation or the formation of nation states in Europe we do not shy away from dwelling on and in fact reveling in the nature of these movements. Nations don't simply take over parts of the world by mistake or overnight. People in general do not convert en masse to religions other then their own. However when we address the history of Islam we have become conditioned to believe that Islam just existed, it sort of magically came into being and 1/3 of the world magically came under its sway overnight. Then we are told that barbarous Christian's intent only on greed and murder assaulted peaceful Islam through crusades from Spain to the Holy land. This evil crusading didn't stop until colonialism extended over almost all Muslims. This is the classic western and Islamic narrative. But its not the whole story. There was a time when Muslims too reveled in their accomplishments, their great campaigns against infidels and the great booty, then they realized that such stories didn't read well in the new anti-war tolerant secular west and they presented the rise of Islam differently. There was a time when accounts reveled in Mohammad of Ghaznis destruction of thousands of `idolatrous temples' in India and his `200,000 slaves' that he took back with him in the 11th century. Now we are told that Islam is basically indigenous to India, it never colonized India, it just mushroomed up suddenly. History books today wont tell any readers that the ottoman empire was a colonial empire that colonized Arabs in the middle east and Christians in Eastern Europe, instead we are told that the Ottoman empire sort of peacefully conquered  of Europe and then it was the evil Europeans who had designs on carving up that `sick man of Europe' and forcing the ottomans to enact laws that protected minorities and ended slavery.

This book opens our eyes. This book dares to ask the questions "How did Islam expand?" and "what happened to non-Muslims in conquered areas?". In a sense what is being asked also is `how did north Africa and the middle east become Arabic and Anatolia Turkish?' Without war and genocide its not possible that any of these regions would look as they do today. In the 7th century when Islam conquered parts of Persia and Byzantium the region was 90% Zoroastrian and Christian. Today it is roughly 1% of those two faiths. What happened to them.

This book shows that the Islamic treatment of non-Muslims amounted to the fate of those conquered in the new world by Europeans. Non-Muslims were discriminated against, made slaves, raped and then became second class citizens. In an insatiable thirst for slaves and women for harems(places of sexual slavery) Islam declared Jihads deep into Africa and Europe, depopulating Eastern Europe and the coast of Africa. The experience of natives was the same as the fate of native in the Americas...genocide and eventually conversion, with a few hold outs. An excellent sobering account.

Seth J. Frantzman

Having recently read Paul Fregosi's excellent book on this subject entitled "Jihad in the West; Muslim Conquests from the 7th to the 21st Centuries", I resolved to investigate this subject further and this study did not disappoint me in it's depth and encyclopaedic content.

Spanning over 700 pages, the amount of detail provided here is breathtaking and the references are innumerable but the text is commendably readable.

As with Fregosi's work, the writer also strives to provide an objective analysis wherever possible without attacking the fundamental aspects of the Islamic religion - instead attempting to concentrate on the context of it's implications & relationship to the furtherance of Jihad itself.

However, this extensive study includes essays and commentary from many learned scholars of Jihad, and it's early claim to provide comprehensive and meticulously documented research soon becomes substantiated as the reader is confronted with realms of evidence and eyewitness accounts, amid an abundance of Muslim theological and judicial texts etc..

Among eight different parts, separate sections are also provided giving direct reference to Jihad in both the Koran and the Hadith, together with an appropriate exegesis by what are cited as the greatest classical and modern commentators, that dispel the argument that Jihad has only been justified by an alleged misinterpretation.

The book begins by providing the reader with the context surrounding the cover illustration which depicts events surrounding the surrender of the Jewish Qurayzah tribe to Muhammad and it's alleged treatment at the hands of the Islamic Prophet.

The text describes how the Jewish tribe were purported to have aided the forces of Muhammad's enemies and how they were subsequently isolated and besieged. The study proceeds to cite how all pleas for mercy, were rejected and how the Jewish tribe were henceforth delivered for judgment in Medina.

The ensuing judgment described as resulting in some six to nine hundred Jewish men purportedly being beheaded in front of Muhammad and their decapitated bodies buried in already excavated trenches.

Further context being provided as to how the young Jewish males, women and children were allegedly sold into slavery and their property and land confiscated. Muhammad himself is also cited as having taken a Jewish captive for his wife. Conversely the book illustrates how the Jewish tribe of the Qurayzah ceased to exist.

The book then proceeds to examine the worldwide impact of a multitude of named Jihad campaigns over 1300 years against non-Muslims which the book declares were characterised by massacre, enslavement and pillage, whereby the reader is confronted with how such military conquests have subdued millions of indigenous peoples and the expropriation of vast expanses of land.

One notable historical example described in the text is that of the massacre of the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks. The extent of the indiscriminate slaughter described in the text is disturbing with the perpetrators cited as allegedly respecting no surrender, bayoneting the men to death, raping the women and dashing their children against the rocks (page 667).

The exhaustive study also reveals how the teaching of Jihad ultimately determines the relations of Muslims & non-Muslims in the present day.

The reader is frequently confronted with a concern that many governments and religious bodies in the present day, are allegedly prepared to ignore what is cited as voluminous but inconvenient historical data in order to
whitewash the realities of Jihad wars, with a view to purportedly explaining away the warlike expeditions and conquests of Islam as "defensive wars" in order to interpret Jihad as merely a "bloodless striving to spread the Islamic religion".

The writer stressing the significance of how historians in free countries have a moral and professional obligation to provide the veracity underlying such issues, and pleading that these individuals should not submit to what is called any voluntary censorship in the face of those in authority who would expediently wish to falsify the record of the past and to re-write history as they would wish it to have been. (Page 22)

Fears being expressed in the text that by so doing, a distorted, revisionist history may arise which could be purportedly used as a tool of propaganda by many governments and religious bodies who would readily avail themselves of to suit their own agendas by suppressing the truth .

Political leaders and the media in general are described as being worried about the public's perception of Islam and subsequently are cited as usually only being prepared to invite the opinions of those who believe in what is cited as the `myth' of Islamic tolerance. Many such entities are described as, for various reasons, also wishing to play down the history of the dhimmi (non Muslims living under subjugation under Islamic rule).

The revelations provided in this book pertaining to Jihad and militant Islam are both eye-opening and disturbing at times and undoubtedly will be seen by many readers as controversial and contentious. Having said that I personally consider that the book definitely needs to be read and will be a welcome addition and essential reference to anyone with an interest in the Middle East conflict and how Islam is perceived at this time within the world's current landscape.

In fairness, it must be remembered that throughout the Middle Ages and well into the Modern Era, Christiandom offered the very same choices to Muslims and Jews:


Pay special taxes and suffer various legal And social disabilities.


Tolerace, throughout the above period, rose and fell like the tides; roughly corrosponding with (local) social peace,good order and economic prosperity.
The same appllied to Islam: When the Moorish civilization in Spain was at it's noontide, Christians and Jews had an easy time of it.
With the coming of the fanatical Berber Almohids in the 11th Century, that changed...very rapidly.

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Postby Ananth » 14 Sep 2006 22:30
[quote]Under a Ford Foundation grant, the Regional Centre of Strategic Studies of Colombo has brought out a two-volume study on “Terrorism in South Asiaâ€

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Postby ramana » 15 Sep 2006 00:08

S.D. Muni is friend of Inder Gujral and was his Ambassador to Cambodia. Gujral had an idea of appoint academics to some countries so they could get hands on experience. Didnt sit well with the folks- babsu and politicians.

Muni has been wrting about Nepal and SE Asia. Good thathe now taking up some serious stuff.

I was wondering if some folks on BR would like to work on collating the Google news on such activities related to India from 1989 in a database like Access.

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Postby svinayak » 15 Sep 2006 05:06 ... d=6&sid=20

Book Review: "India Doctrine"
Isha Khan - 8/29/2006

Adorned in a saffron red jacket and embellished with a detailed map of South Asia the concept of an India Doctrine has been introduced to the readers in Bangladesh recently. The book 'India Doctrine' has been published by the Bangladesh Research Forum and edited by Barrister M.B.I. Munshi and is priced at Tk. 300. Munshi's contribution to the book constitutes the largest section with several other writers from Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka providing some useful and informative chapters.

The book comes complete with a foreword written by a esteemed a scholar Professor Ataur Rahman of Dhaka University who sets the theme of the book. We are reminded by Prof. Rahman that while India might have its own rationale for framing its regional policy compatible with its national interests, the fact remains that constant apprehensions, mistrust and tensions between India and the smaller neighbors including Bangladesh had its negative effects on any meaningful cooperation and security in the region.

This introduction neatly moves us into the chapters written by Munshi which are a series of discussions that covers the relations between India and East Pakistan/Bangladesh from 1947 to the present. It attempts a historical and geo-strategic appraisal of relations between the two countries but also offers a more wide ranging analysis involving the Indian external intelligence operations in Bangladesh and outside. The central idea of the chapters when taken as a whole appears to be that the India Doctrine as implemented by succesive administrations in India is not limited to simply harming the economic interests of the nation, but also has a historical and intellectual underpinning that comes from the thoughts and writings of Jawaharlal Nehru and Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar amongst others. The idea of a United India (or an 'Akhand Bharat') according to the author is still a goal of Indian policy making in South Asia.

Prof. Rahman is forced in his foreword to contend that this thesis may seem implausible and 'far-fetched' but also points out that Munshi supplements his ideas with an exhaustive and elaborate set of references and notes to back up his argument. However, a defect in this intricate framework of references is that the chapters lack a bibliography which would have made it easier to verify the arguments advanced by the author. The chapters also seems to be hampered by the fact that they were written originally as a 3 part article and the author clearly has had some difficulty in framing his arguments within this constriction. However, as we all know Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington both started their seminal works in a similar manner with articles in prominent journals before they were rendered into book form and this does not seem to have affected the stream of their discussion and thoughts.

As this may be, the principle cause of disquiet will certainly be Munshi's interpretation of significant historical events and his commentary on the motivations of characters such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ayub Khan who are all now long dead. I was certainly surprised by some of his findings but it was difficult to find fault here as most of his views are backed-up with thorough research and investigation. His chapters on the 1971 war and the insurgency in the CHT are probably the most tantalizing in terms of historical data and comparisons.

Some of Munshi's arguments are further buttressed by a short chapter by Khodeza Begum who makes reference to events that occurred during the 1990's related to clandestine meetings held in Dhaka concerning the reunification of the subcontinent. In her chapter, there is an extensive discussion on the policies being pursued by the Indian government that according to her is detrimental to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bangladesh. She analyses the concept of a United Bengal that has featured in some of the Indian political literature in recent years.

She has also summarized the tactics and strategies adopted by the Indian government and its intelligence agency to undermine the unity of Bangladesh and to inculcate the population of the country with a perspective adverse to the nations integrity.

Although solidly written there is a problem with the length of the chapter as well as the dated materials used by the author. A more contemporary approach may have served better but the evidence seems irrefutable and the author should update her research before a second edition is considered.

In a sudden change of location Brig.-Gen. M. Sakhawat Hossain inexplicably takes us all the way to the Indian Ocean and the emerging strategic scenarios being played out in the area. One may legitimately question the relevance to the overall context and theme of the book but the author makes this abundantly clear when he remarks that rivalries in the South Asian region are primarily based on events in 1971 and India's intent on dominating the region has had to appreciate the ground realities that this cannot be achieved alone. Hossain expertly explains the intricate alliances being forged in the region and the importance of the Indian Ocean in the strategic thinking of India, China, the USA and Pakistan. His comments on the North-East insurgency and the recent uprising in Nepal are highly commendable and very insightful especially in the latter case where he had visited prior to writing the chapter.

Following the chapters by the Bangladeshi authors mentioned above come the section written by the Nepali writers. In the case of Madan Prasad Khanal, Nishchal Basnyat and Sanjay Upadhya their contributions to the book are highly articulate, elegant and almost near impeccable. Each author discusses differing aspects of Indian interference and intervention in Nepali internal affairs and in some cases provides possible solutions to these problems. But with a clear conception of the implications of Indian domination on Nepal Dr. Shastra Dutta Pant appeared a little confused in his expressions.

The final chapters of the book are by two Sri Lankan writers Dr Rohan Gunaratna and Arbinda Acharya. Both writers collaborated to produce a single chapter on the Sri Lankan attitude to Indian interference or as the authors themselves put it, "India's involvement in Sri Lankan ethnic imbroglio has been one of the most controversial, ironic as well as tragic aspects of New Delhi's foreign policy." While concentrating on the Sri Lankan situation the writers also manage to draw in examples from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan to back up their case on Indian aspirations in South Asia. Of significance is the Indian involvement in the protracted and apparently insoluble conflict with the Tamils. The chapter also involves a geostrategic appraisal of Sri Lanka and its growing relationship with China and Pakistan. It is unfortunate therefore that the authors were not as forceful about Indian interventions in Sri Lanka especially during the time of the premiership of Rajiv Gandhi.

The chapter seems somewhat apologetic about Indian intervention rather than condemnatory which would have been an appropriate response from Sri Lankan nationals.

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Postby svinayak » 15 Sep 2006 05:59

Strategic Consequences of India's Economic Performance (Hardcover)
by Sanjaya Baru

"These are superbly crafted and insightful writings on economic and security issues....Buy, read, profit, and enjoy." —Professor Jagdish Bhagwati, Columbia University

"These essays can serve as a guide to anyone seeking to have a better understanding of what is happening." —Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics, Harvard University, and President and CEO, National Bureau of Economic research, Cambridge, Massachusetts

"The only [compilation] that provides deep insights into the complex interplay of global, Asian, and national dimensions of...policy." —Y. Venugopal Reddy, Governor, Reserve Bank of India

"Baru is a vital voice in our public argument....Anyone interested in India's global role must read this book." —Sunil Khilnani, author, The Idea of India

"Timely and unique...No one could have done a better job of exploring this relatively uncharted territory than Dr. Baru." —Bimal Jalan, member of Parliament and former Governor, Reserve Bank of India

"Sanjaya Baru is one of the bright lights of modern India." —Fareed Zakaria,
editor, Newsweek International, and author, The Future of Freedom

"This is an eloquent inside-view of India's evolving strategic and economic role." —N. R. Narayana Murthy, chairman and chief mentor, Infosys Technologies Ltd.

"A rare, yet exciting, contribution to the political economy of power." —Ashley Tellis, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C.

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Postby Paul » 21 Sep 2006 08:04

There is new Book by Stanley Wolpert on "Partition of India" at B&N.

I read the foreword in some detail. He is primarily blaming MountBatten and Gandhi for the partition massacres by acquiscing in breakup of Punjab and Bengal. Mountbatten is held responsible for moving up the independence date by 10 months and not anticipating the commnual hatred.

Will post a more detailed summary after my next trip to BN. No point wasting my money buying this chameleon's books.

I think Anglo-Saxon Historians like Wolpert can sense the growing self confidence of the Indians and are repositioning themselves accordingly. Jholawalas will obviously listen to HMV and change their tune as well.

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