OUTGROWN FLAWS

This is Shashi Deshpande’s first novel, but it has been published after two others, The Dark Holds No Terrors and Come Up and be Dead which is a mystery thriller. For a reader who is familiar with The Dark Holds No Terrors, this new novel is of interest as having a similar theme and similar strengths but containing flaws which the author had obvi¬ously managed to outgrow by the time she wrote The Dark.

BEYOND THE VORTEX

In the last two lines of Mahapatra’s final poem (‘In the Fields of Desolate Rice’) he tells us:
In the end
I come back to the day and to the rain.

This is good news, though distant in tone and spirit from the rest of this volume.

At first reading, Life Signs impressed me with its techni¬cal qualities, the fluidity of the style and the power of the imagery; attributes strong enough to still, if not dissolve, a certain latent disquiet.

Rambling Reminiscences

This publication is part of the Oxford Series on India-China Studies which aims to develop interdisciplinary research on historical and contemporary relations between the two countries. In so far as the effort is to bring to light scholarship beyond the current preoccupation with geopolitical issues, Thakur Gadhadhar Singh’s self-published travelogue from 1902 seems, at first glance, an excellent choice. Thakur Gadhadar Singh was a member of the 7th Rajput Regiment mobilized in 1900 as part of the British contingent to fight the Qing dynasty in the wake of the Boxer Uprising in China. Published in Hindi on Singh’s return to India, Chîn Me Terah Mâs, is a catalogue of his experiences and thoughts during the China sojourn.

Account Of A Decaying State

Tariq Khosa, a former Director General of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Pakistan, grabbed the attention of the Indian media for a brief moment for an article he wrote in the Dawn newspaper on 3 August 2015 on the Mumbai attacks trial. In that article he pointed out how the investigations in Pakistan had been able to find strong evidence that the Mumbai attacks were planned and launched from Pakistani soil and that Pakistan should face the truth and admit mistakes and ensure that the perpetrators and the masterminds of the terror attacks were brought to justice. But the Indian electronic media misread that article as an exposé of the involvement of the Pakistani establishment. However, nowhere in the article Khosa had said as much. What he had acknowledged was that there was strong evidence against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants but the reason the trial process had stalled was due to the difficulties in conducting it in a different jurisdiction.

A Critical Appraisal

Over the years, the different aspects of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and its fallout on Pakistan and the wider world have been discussed threadbare. Yet, books are being written on it and the book under review is one among such books published in 2017. As the title of the book indicates, the author of this book Imrana Begum discusses the various dimensions of the intervention of the erstwhile Soviet Union in Afghanistan and its multiple impacts on Pakistan. This book covers not just the period of Soviet presence in Afghanistan but also its legacy which is continuing even now in many ways.

What Constitutes National Security

Under the assault of social media, attention spans have contracted somewhat. But that is not any reason to worry. There are short introductions available to catch up on weighty matters, such as in the case of national security. These help in gaining a working understanding of issues outside a reader’s usual beat and on the quick, being small handbooks intended unambitiously as ‘introduction’. The Oxford series comprises some 30 paperbacks covering daunting topics such as monetary policy and capital flows and exchange rate mechanisms, alongside appealing titles such as Bollywood and Mughal painting. These are a mite bigger than OUP’s Very Short Introductions, paperbacks smaller in size, but not on that account any less in academic content. Placed strategically at airport bookstalls they provide intellectual fare to last a flight, given India’s distances.

A New Lease On The Utopian Imagination

The book under review, Another South Asia! orbits around a simple but ambiguous premise of what South Asia is. While the answer to this question varies academically, politically and discursively, Dev Nath Pathak, through this book, has tried to provide an alternative conceptualization or imagination of this region. The work is a product of Pathak’s engagement with this question in the South Asian University (SAU), where he teaches sociology and more specifically a product of a seminar sponsored by the Japan Foundation, held at SAU in 2015. Therefore, the thread that binds the contributors is their dissatisfaction with the existing understanding and treatment of this region within the framework of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

An Insider’s Ringside View

In his memoir Neighbours in Arms, the former U.S. senator, Larry Pressler, advances a simple theme: ‘India’s democratic government [and] location … make it a natural … geopolitical ally. We should decisively choose India … We must downgrade Pakistan and treat it as it is: an irresponsible, dishonest, rogue state’ (pp. 53–54). His book focuses on his legislative efforts in the eighties and Pressler claims that if a law bearing his name—the Pressler Amendment—had been enforced, Pakistan ‘would have been forced to shut down its [nuclear weapons] programme’ (p. 198). While Pressler’s viewpoint may resonate with sections of the Indian security establishment, these positions—like Pressler’s book—are naive and gloss over historical facts.

Why Wars Happen

In 2006, AC Grayling, a well known and respected British philosopher stirred up a lot of discussion with his book Among the Dead Cities: Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in World War Two a Necessity or a Crime? The book delved into the aerial bombing of German cities by the British and the Americans. Grayling termed the bombing as a crime against humanity as he saw it as causing disproportionate harm to civilians, being militarily ineffective in defeating the Axis Powers. Whether one agrees with his conclusion or not is a matter of a separate debate, nevertheless, it is very clear that Grayling has no issues with stating his convictions without much regard for any controversy it might create.

Integrating Ideas From Islamic And Abrahamic Faiths

Most books written on the history of philosophy tend to remain confined to a consideration of the more prominent and iconic philosophers, looking upon them as isolated islands that loom out in a vast sea that itself remains unexplored. In a history of Islamic philosophy, the familiar big names are the Mutazalites, Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes, Al-Ghazali, Ibn Arabi, Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Khaldun, to name just a few. It is here that Peter Adamson’s book stands out as it is able to fill out the vast oceanic gaps between these figures by informing us of the lesser known, yet crucially vital philosophers who contributed to the continuing course of Islamic philosophy.

Brief Wondrous Life Of The Bhadralok

Years ago I was told by a friend that if only Jyotibabu had become Jyotida, the Left would not have declined (and nearly disappeared) in West Bengal. In other words, had prominent bhadralok (babu) leaders—Jyoti Basu, for example—of the Left cared a little less about preservation of their self-image and more about ‘connection’ with people things would, perhaps, be different today. Readers, of course, will know that there is much more to the story of the end of Left rule in the State.

A Slice Of Kerala’s Social History

Sandwiched between Sahyadri (Western Ghats) and the Arabian Sea, Kerala had always attracted migrants from different parts of India and from outside India. The peace and tranquility in the region, tolerance and hospitality towards aliens and, above all, its location in the midst of major international trading routes encouraged the movement of peoples and the emergence of a pluralistic society.
Saga of Kalpathy narrates the story of a small community which migrated from the Tamil country to Kerala. The early migrants settled in the village Kalpathy in Palakkad. Kalpathy continues to have a sizeable concentration of this community. They can also be found in other parts of Kerala. The trials and tribulations the community underwent led to their migration to other parts of India and across the globe. But, the community is still known as Palghat Iyers and the name has stuck firmly whether they live in Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, New Delhi or in faraway cities like New York or Toronto. The author has retained the anglicized name Palghat, though the town is known today by its Malayalam name Palakkad.