‘I’m craze for foreign. Just craze for foreign’, said a character (Mrs Mahindra) to V.S. Naipaul, which he recorded in 1964 in An Area of Darkness. This irra¬tional admi-ration for anything from the West in post-colonial India is only the crudest manifest-tation of one side of a behaviour pattern that had started in different parts of this sub-continent with the onset of the British rule, and the emergence of an English educated elite.
Once, not so very long ago, a land not so far away gained freedom. Its people were righteous, and so its rulers, harking back to legends of forest dwelling sages and their paths of peace, laid claim to the spiritual leadership of the world. Being peaceful, they had no armies and fought no wars.
To the generation that was born around the time of India’s independence, Jawaharlal Nehru was an enchanted figure, an embodiment of the idealism that had gone into the struggle for free¬dom. Clearly etched on childhood’s memory is the unstinting affection and trust that India’s masses gave to their leader. So is the intense sense of urgency Panditji radiated to pull India out of the mire of poverty, ignorance and backward¬ness and launch her as a shining new star into the world firmament.
The Peace Trap is ‘dedicated to the memory of all Indians and Sri Lankans—both Tamils and Sinhalese—who lost their lives in the tragic sequence of events that have taken place in Sri Lanka since 1983’. This brings out the author’s deep sensitivity to the tragedy that has over¬taken both Sri Lanka and India in the wake of the Sinhala-Tamil ethnic strife in our neighbouring southern state and more particularly after the Indo-Sri Lanka accord of July 29, 1987 (which saw a larger number of persons being killed on both sides since the outbreak of the ethnic conflict).
The Gorbachev phenomenon has ceased to be news; it is now a part of the inter-national scene, as much a part as lame duck presidents blooming late into glori¬ous swans or aged leaders from another generation running a revolution in a counter-revolutionary environment.
‘Today’s children want everything about everything—and right away too. Keeping this in mind, Pustak Mahal of Delhi has brought out the Children’s Knowledge Bank in six volumes…. The question and answer format with an illustration is one of the best ways, to give young children basic information on various subjects and thus develop a healthy interest in books and reading’—Pioneer, Lucknow.
Small, insignificant provincial towns enjoy brief moments of prominence when they are catapulted on to the centre-stage of the country’s attention. The reason is a combination of people and events which culminates in outbreaks of violence in previously peaceful environs. M J. Akbar’s book is an attempt to report on the gene¬sis of violence in post-Independence India, and to study the scars that remain long after the events have been erased from the ephemeral memories of our whimsical rulers.
It has been well and truly said: Bhagwan Rajneesh is his worst enemy. He is the agent provocateur of the first order. It is not that he is out to provoke people for the sake of provoking them, though, one suspects that he does, too, for effect. Plainly, the man believes in what he says. And there lies the difficulty of all those who want to take him seriously. He seems to say: ‘Don’t take me too seriously. I am enjoying myself watching your discomfiture’.
It is intriguing as to why Penguins chose this book for inclusion for the first lot of six books with which they started their operations in this part of the globe last year.
First, this book was originally published by Vanguard Press Inc., in New York five years ago. This particular publisher is one of the many book-publishing (packaging) racketeers in New York. This outfit for purely mercenary considerations lends its NY.
A handy paperback version of the original collection published in 1973 by the Uni-versity of California in 1973, this collec¬tion remains neither modern nor truly representative of the short story trend in Modern Hindi. Perhaps the ‘modern’ in the title could have been defined in a subtitle indicating the years which this collection represents.
We have from the author of Circle of Reason (1986) a square, a cube, a tantalizingly misarranged Rubik Cube of Emotion. Action and reaction in Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines do not follow or justify each other. They are caused by and influence events that are widely dis¬tanced in space and time. Relationships are established and broken by acts, feel¬ings and thoughts that belong to other arenas, other theatres, other times.