Understanding Gandhi through Autobiography : A Review

Understanding Gandhi through Autobiography : A Review

  We have failed Gandhi-the man of the millenium. We have failed his principles of truth and non-violence. Gandhi to a majority of us today just means enjoying a holiday on his birthday (october 2). The Story of ‘My Experiments with Truth’ is a massive but attractive volume, written by Mahatma Gandhi only at the insistence of his friends. It has five major parts and each part with certain chapters enlightening chronologically on his life’s experiences in one way or the other. The first part with twenty five small chapters, mainly deals with Gandhi’s birth, parentage, childhood, marriage, schooling, chronicling, in addition, his childhood mischief’s and mistakes, his consciousness about the significance of truth, his studies and travails in England and so on and so forth. Attractively presented and moderately priced, the translator of the book, Mahadev Desai, succinctly informs us in the preface that this thought-provoking book was published in 1927 for the first time. As for the title, it is eminently suitable as the whole book revolves round Gandhi’s encounters with life’s different experiences – both sweet and bitter – and the title itself speaks a lot about the book. One of the major underlying themes that capture one’s attention in the book is Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of truth and his experiments with it, which justifies the title to a greater extent. He discusses at length his conception of truth through out the book but his implementing it so prominently it in the title, connotes the meaning of sovereign, supreme and absolute. He seems to be the desperate searcher of truth as he says, “I am prepared to sacrifice the things dearest to me in pursuit of this quest”(selected works of Mahatma Gandhi,vol.6,page 95) and at the same time he argues about the absolute and relative truth, which speaks of his intellectual vision. In a difference worth learning for the students, he argues,” but as long as I have not realized this absolute truth so long must I hold by the relative truth as I have conceived it”(ibid.p-95) as for him absolute truth is truth “as it is’ and relative truth is as it appears to us. The beauty of the whole autobiographical...

Women and the Wind of Change

Women and the Wind of Change

Book Review by Nikita Mandhani Author: Dr. Vinita Kaul  The women of India have witnessed both minor and major transformations in their status and position over times immemorial. Many books have been written on the subject of Women and a plethora of women issues and movements brought forth for their resolution. But, Dr. Vinita Kaul handles an extensive array of women related discussions in this book that was first published in the year 2000. ‘Women and the Wind of Change’ extends to roughly 500 pages that will compel you to picture the conditions of women from prominent old days of Sati, extreme prejudice and conservatism to the era of developments and enhancements that came about as an effort of some great leaders and the common populace. What I like the most about her writing is that it is simplistic and undeviating in its approach and comprises of comprehensive descriptions concerning subjects varying from the part of women in the freedom movement to the augmentation of female education and employment. Kaul tries to draw attention to the ancient practices of purdah, child-marriage, pitiable dealing of widows and the pivotal role of men like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekanand and Mahatma Gandhi in this struggle for women’s equality. The book covers particulars of efforts carried out by Margaret Cousins and Annie Besant along with organizations like the Indian Women’s Association, the All India Women’s Conference etc. Thus, what this book provides you with is a thorough historical background ranging up to the year 2000 mentioning facts that are commonly unfamiliar or neglected. There are full-fletched chapters on Women’s education, empowerment, employment, the inheritance laws, the crimes that they face, the constitutional rights that they own, their position in the politics of India, health issues, gender bias, women’s services in the Armed forces, the tale of the Dalit women, various NGOs and reforms and the rising status of women in different realms. It cites examples of various striking incidents and events imperative to the women’s circumstances and quotes statements from different people at diverse levels to portray the opinions and views of the masses. What’s remarkable is the technique in which the author analyzes the past...

Kashmir and Sher-e-Kashmir: A Revolution Derailed

Kashmir and Sher-e-Kashmir: A Revolution Derailed

Parimoo, PL. D. (2012). Kashmir and Sher-e-Kashmir: A Revolution Derailed. Ahmadabad: Chinar publishing. Pages 312+Viii, Price 600 INR.   Reviewer: Adfar Shah Author’s Introduction Pyare Lal Dinanath Parimoo (P Parimoo) also writing under the name PL.D Parimoo and Peejip, was born in Srinagar and completed schooling and graduation from Srinagar before moving to Mumbai for training as a textile engineer. Since the beginning of his career, he mostly remained outside Kashmir but did his best to keep in touch with his roots and also to keep the traditions of Kashmiriyat alive in his home. As a part of his profession, he lived in Germany for several years and also travelled extensively across the world before shifting from a corporate culture to the arena of Historiography. While his earlier book Kashmiryat at crossroads focused exclusively on the contemporary socio political history of Kashmir, his second book, Passion, power, perfidy highlighted the ancient cultural intercourses between Kashmir and other parts of the Indian sub-continent including Afghanistan. Book Review: ‘Kashmir and Sher-e-Kashmir: A Revolution Derailed’ is PL. D. Parimoo’s dense work based on his extensive exploration of historical literature, is actually a narrative of Kashmir’s prolonged suffering and amidst that rising of an avatar like a bright star to revolutionize the bruised landscape. Parimoo dives deep into Kashmir’s political history but tactfully, thereby pioneering a new approach to the study of Kashmir politics via his comprehensive commentary on political and social history since Sheikh’s rising as an active and transforming political player. The book is composed of fifteen massive chapters describing various interconnected themes and appears more a fine chronicle of critical and turbulent events that occurred since 1931 to the recent past like the Amaranth land row in 2008. The book starts with author’s description of Sheikh’s being born as a leader and unfolds a narrative in detail of the saga of sufferings that Kashmiris faced throughout the turbulent history. Also the author maintains a fine balance between the themes on Kashmir’s political happenings and role played by the Sher-e-Kashmir, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. Author’s discussions on almost all significant happenings, protests, accords, treaties, etc, in Kashmir politics and society reflect his keen interest in Kashmir and...

Kashmir and Sher-e-Kashmir: A Revolution Derailed – PL. D. Parimoo

The slogan that used to echo from the majestic Himalayan mountains of Kashmir-“Ala kari ya waangan Kari-Sheikh kari,Sheikh kari” translated roughly meaning whatever needs to be done(decided)Sheikh will do! Sheikh will do! Such was the absolute degree of trust of Kashmiri masses on one man, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, reverentially called Sher e Kashmir. How far the trust of people was rightly placed on him, the Sheikh, is written about with neutrality that leaves the choice of judgment to the reader. This book entails the lives of several enigmatic personalities of the Sub continent that are inextricably entwined by their, beliefs, actions, and by fate. It analyses Gandhi\'s religious pluralism adopted by Sheikh Abdullah and moves on to talk about the fall in Sheikh’s reputation, particularly after his death. National Conference and its founder Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah have long been praised and blamed for things they never did. The author draws upon intimate understanding to illuminate the afterlife of the revolution NAYA KASHMIR.  Kashmir and Sher e Kashmir spans from Kashmir to Delhi, moving from Lahore in Pakistan’s east through Algeria, and leading Capitals of West. The result is a shimmering literary examination of the ghost of Naya Kashmir – no longer Sheikh’s “specter to come” but a haunting presence of the past. In Kashmir and Sher e Kashmir,a revolution derailed P.Parimoo has written a deeply reported generational biography teeming with fresh insights and revealing information, a masterly narrative drawn from a trove of letters, journals, diaries, and other documents. Right from 1770’s history was made for the flesh trade enforced by the ruling colonisers in Kashmir. The later rulers Mughals who had named Kashmir as Baag-i-Khas (special garden) used the valley as a pleasure garden to entertain their guests in the Mughal gardens…it also became a practice during their era to procure beautiful Kashmiri girls for their Subhedars, Mansabdars, and nobles of the court.”    The book unfolds in the small towns and the remote hamlets of Kashmir, before and following the personal struggles of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah and lesser leaders through the swirl of the twentieth century. The places where  In its greed, the State had stooped low to demeaning and dehumanized levels of...

Our Moon Has Blood Clots – The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits by Rahul Pandita

Our Moon Has Blood Clots –  The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits by Rahul Pandita

This is a very difficult book for me to review without becoming part of the story. My forefathers were saved by Maqbool Sherwani during their exodus from Baramulla where they had reached from Waziristan under the weight of Pakistan army backed Mujahideen attacks against all non Muslims in 1947. However, they couldn’t save my grandmother and all the gold that the family hid with her in the St Joseph’s hospital considered safe. However the marauders massacred all the women in the gynecology ward – one of them being Motiya Devi, my grandmother. Apart from her 21 other members of my extended family were massacred as they made their way to the safety of Srinagar and then on to Delhi. Therefore, this would be a narration of a victim upon the story of a victim of the same conflict though separated in time at the same place. My grandmother’s grave still exists at the St Joseph hospital Baramulla – a grim reminder of agony of displacement of my forefathers. I digress. To Rahul’s story. Our Moon has Blood Clots is a powerful and emotive saga of the travails of Kashmiri Pandits(KP) and other minorities from Kashmir. The story of their persecution  in contemporary history, since India gained independence, was repeated in 1947 and 1990 where they were given three choices – to convert, flee or die. Each time many perished and many more displaced – each with a saga of untold misery. Today as the world was beginning to forget their misery, Rahul has relived the traumas he and scores like him faced which first made them refugees within their own state and sixty years later in their own country. Things have only gone from bad to worse in the valley as Kashmir now turns from Sufi to Salafi as the hapless government looks on. Or is it that they have no control over this radicalised imported version of Islam from a Wahabi Saudi with Pakistani activism. Maybe they don’t care. The book tells the untold and heartbreaking story of ‘ethnic cleansing’ (some don’t agree to this definition of the exodus) of the KPs in Kashmir – a story that has increasingly got buried in story tellers either describing the...

Joseph Anton – A Memoir – By Harini Calamur

Joseph Anton – A Memoir – By Harini Calamur

When I was younger, and far more hard headed and terribly more cynical, i found the realm of Magic Realism to be strange. Maybe growing up with Hindi films with God in special appearance, or a dream sequence did that to me. I was not yet a teenager when Salman Rushdie’s first book Midnight’s Children was released. One summer vacation, I must have been around 13 maybe even 14, someone gifted us a copy. I tried reading it, and naturally, did not understand it. I trudged through it, hated it and went back to reading whatever it is that I was reading at that phase in life. Later on I discovered the works of Isabella Allende and her magnificent House of Spirits, Marquez and even the later works of Rushdie. But I never really got back to reading, what most critics considered to be his finest work,  Midnight’s children. A few months ago, i got an eBook version of Midnight’s children. But, before i could start it, Joseph Anton was released. Joseph Anton tells the story of Salman Rushdie and how his life is impacted by the fatwa declared by Ayotollah Khomeni. Joseph Anton is a the name under which Mr.Rushdie lived during the fatwa period – an amalgamation of the names of two authors he admired – Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekov. The memoir is told in the third person. A form in which the author almost becomes a bystander in his own life. Things happen to him. It never seems that he is actively involved in any of them. Marianne Wiggins chases him, marries him and dumps him. Elizabeh West breezes into his life, loves him  and wants to have his baby. His friends pull out all stops to fight for him. His enemies pull out all stops to want to kill him. The press vilifies him. The politicians are unsure of him. The cops are there like a brick wall for him. And, in all this the protagonist Joseph Anton is almost an observer.  He participates sometimes, but the support cast are far more interesting than he is. Among the more fascinating characters is his father, Anis – who woke the genie of story telling in a young Salman,...

Terror and Consent

Terror and Consent

Terror and Consent by Professor Phillip Bobbit is a 2008 account of the market states (post Westphalian borderless states led by seamless market economies offering more choices) preparing to fight the scourge of terrorism perpetuated by “Al Qaeda” (a name he choses to define Islamist terror networks). This dense book traverses the history of warfare since the Treaty of Westphalia and flags the current phase as one in which the market states have to transcend the conventional means of war fighting and homeland security to meet the challenges of hybrid wars unleashed upon the world by non government terror net works as also state sponsored terror. These are enemy of this newly emerging market-based system, and the main focus of this book, are (naturally) terrorists. Terrorists, Bobbitt claims, fight us because they hate the choices provided to us by this emerging market-world. The book is West focused and Bobbit, acknowledging the dangers of terror in a post 9/11 America, has strong prescriptions for a western alliance, complete with international laws to tackle this menace. He believes that the  war against terror is real; that civil liberties assume a new dimension to win it; that it must all the same be fought within the rules of law; and that the United States cannot win it alone. To refine his argument, Bobbitt introduces a distinction. Both the market-states and the nation-states of the West are democratic; they are “states of consent,” in which the rule of law exists to uphold individual liberty and rights. The “terror” modules (both state and non state) aim to replace this consent-based order with a “state of terror.” That is the main argument of the book as it seeks to find prescriptions for the market states to contest the “states of terror”. As per Bobbit, today’s terror networks are largely considered “Islamist” – an idea which, through political Islam, aspires to fight the “kafirs” (infidels). The Arab Spring has revolutionised the idea of “Islamic Ascendency” where secular Arab and African muslim states are fighting the west towards establishment of an Islamic “Caliphate”. The fissures with in various forms of Islam such as Shia- Sunni divide and the various sects has accentuated the situation where violence to achieve political objectives has become the...

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