What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how ex¬press and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
This is one book which can be judged by its cover. The attractive red-on-cream design is a facsimile of a certificate of honourable discharge from the British army, a torn and folded Britannia seated before her guard of honour. The book contains five pieces of writing about Anglo-Indians. I hesitate to call these stories, for they have a poetic quality. The characters are not com¬placent pawns of plot and circumstance, but voices which will find an echo in each of us.
The threat of a global crisis, specially on the economic front, looms large over the world today. The former industrial giants are no longer in the happy position of dic-tating the ways of the world. This is primarily due to the emergence of another force on the world stage, which has begun to assert its rights—and, more important, has acquired the bargaining power to do so. This force emanates from the oil-exporting coun¬tries of the Third World Jean-Jacques Servan Schreiber’s The World Challenge analyses this crucial state of the world, while also suggesting remedies for some of the ailments that plague it.
Dr. Rajan’s book is an educative documentation of the centrality of UN’s role despite the fetters attached to it. The expansion of the juris¬diction of the United Nations can only be a slow process established by precept and example and by practical appli-cation in specific events. The book deals with this accretional process and argues its irrever¬sibility.
Telengana is part of the mythology of the Indian Com¬munist movement, transmitted to the youth from one generation to the next through a kind of oral tradition. What-ever little literature exists about the movement can be classified into five categories: first hand accounts in the form of a mass of pamphlets, book¬lets and books of the period, almost all of which are in Telugu and remain untrans¬lated; creative literature, especially novels which capture the movement authentically; memoirs relating to the move¬ment by its detractors—leaders of the right wing of the Andhra Maha Sabha (AMS) and the state Congress; the chronicles and memoirs of its participants which are a part of the polemics which suddenly erupted from the late sixties when the Naxalbari movement reopened the debate on armed revolution; and a growing number of academic works, part of the ‘peasant studies’ which have their own models and theses to advance.
Hence, ‘food aid’ is no aid. And he is correct in demonstrating that the food problem just cannot be blamed on population increase. The rise in our food production has each year, for the last quarter of a century, been more than one step ahead of the rise in our population.
Why, then, the rising trends in our levels of hunger and mal¬nutrition, as illustrated by the simple fact of the rise, over the years, in the number of people living below the poverty line in both absolute and proportional terms? According to Ramachandran’s perception, this is due to the alarming in¬crease in the ‘fad’ of animal food consumption and, second¬ly, due to protein losses in the food refinement process.
The development of capitalism in agriculture continues to be the subject of controversy in contemporary India, a situa¬tion reminiscent of the 19th century debate in Russia. Various viewpoints that are being propagated range from insistence on the continuing existence of feudal relations in Indian agriculture or the distorted character of capi¬talist development to the rela¬tively liberal attitude that India is well on the road to complete capitalist tranformation. The book under review provides one of the most ex¬haustive documentations of existing literature on these con-troversies.
In the light of the 1981 Census return and the ques¬tions it raises about the impact of family planning program¬mes (FP) in India, this book acquires a new significance. The persistent high growth rate of population makes one wonder why the ample funds, the elaborate organization, and the large man-power deployed to implement family planning have delivered so little. This book attempts to look at the question in a com¬prehensive manner by identi¬fying the factors which are responsible for poor imple¬mentation of the programme in rural India, and for the poor response of the people to the programme activities.
The problems of poverty and development in the Third World have activated neo-Malthusians since the early 1960s into blaming the poor for their poverty and repro-ductive capacity, notwithstand¬ing the loss of credibility of much of what Robert Malthus propounded in 1798 in his famous Essay on the Principle of Population. Neo-Malthusian enterprise has found expres¬sion in a number of sophisti¬cated models, and has been able to raise a sympathetic echo in the family planning establishments of many Third World governments.
Seeing the population ‘ex¬plosion’ in the country as the root of all evil is fairly in-grained today among politi¬cians, policy makers and the vocal elite. Every half-baked industrialist can be heard making speeches drawing a link between the country’s population growth and its economic backwardness. And the media are full of articles in which the population bogey is a convenient central point around which are built pom¬pous theories and analyses. It is this section (with its hang¬up about population ‘control’) that needs to read and be enlightened by Professor Pethe’s excellent book.
Confronted with this fat book with its not too pre¬possessing title, encased in a glossy Punch-cartoon-style coloured dust-cover depicting, inter alia, President Johnson demonstrating his gall-bladder operation scar to George Washington, who is scrutini-zing it with all the concentra¬ted attention that he reputedly devoted to the study of his field-maps during his War of Independence campaigns against the British; President Truman thumping away on an upright piano with a supreme, almost inane degree of self-satisfaction; Richard Nixon with his famous crooked kris-proboscis extended like an antenna, slyly playing smug¬gled tapes; and President Eisenhower grovelling on the ground in desperate search of an errant golf ball, your reviewer was frankly not enthusiastic about the task entrusted to him.
The principal author of this book, David Holden, who was the chief foreign correspondent of the Sunday Times, was shot dead in Cairo in November 1977 when he was barely half¬way through the book. To this day the mystery surround¬ing his murder has not been unravelled. His co-author, who completed the book, feels that this summary departure had nothing to do with his researches into the House of Saud and assures us that Holden was not a part of the paranoid world of intel¬ligence and subterfuge. But the story of the House of Saud as it unfolds contains so much intrigue and violence that one may be forgiven for doubting this.