Kashmir-The Road Ahead

“Recent India Pakistan scheduled bilateral talks were called off by India, as Pak High Commissioner Basit meets Minwaz Umar Farooq ,Syed Ali Shah Geelani,Shabir Ahemed Shah and Yasin Malik.”-it’s a small piece of news. But enough to estimate the respect 0f GOI towards the free will of Kashmiris. Enough to estimate what Azadi means to a common shepherd boy of the valley of Kashmir? What does Azadi means to the people of the valley, where for 18 people one security personnel is deployed?

Kashmir’s accession to India is based on four principles- defence of the state, protection of life, honour and property. India has failed miserably in discharging any of the duties. Activist Arundhuti Roy rightly commented-“to continue its occupancy in Kashmir, India has made its forces minimum from every law there. If evil society of India and other human rights activists don’t take appropriate steps after going through the report of APDP, we will feel ashamed in future.” Still in 4 th July, 2014 the spokesman of external affairs ministry proudly declared that-“Jammu and Kashmir remains and will remain an integral part of India.”
To the external Affair’s ministry’s comment that people of the state are using the language of bygone era, deserted roads welcomed the new P.M. of India, Mr. Narendra Modi in Srinagar. It’s a separate issue that 240 MW hydroelectric Power Uri-II project inaugurated by him has no license to operate and constructed in violation of Jammu and Kashmir water reservation act.
It is said that high turnout was observed in 2014 Parliamentary elections, completely overlooking the fact that people voted for issues like road, water ,electricity and other amenities and not for settling the Kashmir dispute. In a state of merely 18 million population deployments of more than 600,000 troops is not in any way synonymous with the fact that Kashmiris are living in a very conducive environment.

Historical perspective
From times abode, the state of Jammu and Kashmir remained independent except for short spans under Maryuas (3 rd century B.C.), the Mughals (16 th to 18 th century), the Afghans (1752 onwards). The Afghan rule was replaced by Sikh rule under Ranjit Singh. The autocracy of Sikhs lasted for 28 years after being replaced by the colonial rule. Gulab Singh was offered the throne of the state, by the Amritsar treaty signed on March 16, 1946.Lahore treaty signed on Mach9, and 1946 recognised him as independent princely ruler of the state by the British. Ghulab Singh was succeeded by Rambir Singh (1857-85), Pratab Singh (1185-1925), Hari Singh (1925-1949) respectively, unleashing a region of terror in the state. Anger of people smoked until on July, 1931 a mass leader named Abdul Quadeer led an uprising against the tyranny. The movement of people was suppressed by the ruler and the leader was put on trial.
1932 saw Kashmir’s first political party-The All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference (renamed as National Conference in 1939) established under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah. In 1934 the Maharaja bend a little-limited democracy was established by the constitution of a Legislative Assembly. In 1935, Jinnah visited Srinagar to extend his support to the Nationalist movement
During the time of partition, there were 568 Princely States or quasi sovereign states, ruled by princes under the “suzerainty” of the British. As per the Mountbatten Plan, the provinces were given two options, in accordance with two nation theory-either to amalgamate with India or with Pakistan. The princely states were allowed the third option –to remain independent.
In Kashmir-the Maharaja was on two minds. Ram Chander Kak, the prime minister of Maharaja advised Kashmir to be independent for at least one year before taking decision on accession. The majority Muslim population on the face of an Indian aggression took to the streets. Pressure on the part of Neheru, Sheikh Abdullah and Mountbatten compelled Maharaja to sign the “letter of Instrument of Accession of India” on 20th October, 1947. On 2nd October, 1947, the prime minister of India Mr. Nehru announced on all India radio that “the fate of Kashmir will be decided by plebiscite”. The letter dispatched by Mr. Mountbatten on 27th October, 1947 to Maharaja Hari Singh echoed the same view.
In 1947, India and Pakistan went on war over the Kashmir issue. During the war, the issue of Kashmir was first floored on the UN General Assembly on 1 st January 1948 by India. The representative to the UN, Gopalswamy Ayenger commented in the UN that “As the Security Council is aware, the Government of India is fully committed to the view that after peace is restored and all people belonging to the State have returned there, a free plebiscite should be taken and the people should decide whether they wish to remain with India, go over to Pakistan or to remain Independent if they choose to do so.”
On 1 st January, 1949 the UN helped enforce a ceasefire, between the two countries on a mutually consented Line of Control. UN Security Council and UN Commission for India and Pakistan have passed several resolutions in the subsequent years. One of such UN resolution in 21 st April, 1948 state that-“both India and Pakistan desire that the question of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite”.

The principle of self determination has been echoed by Mr. Nehru on Indian parliament on 12 th February, 1951- “We have given our pledge to the people of Kashmir and subsequently to the United Nations; we stood by it and we stand by it today. Let the people of Kashmir decide.”
In the Tashkahand and Simla agreement too, peaceful solution of the dispute has been prioritized. The Simla agreement on 2nd July, 1972 stated in Para 6 that a-“final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir “as one of the main issues. Para 4(ii) defines of a line of control different from international border.
Human right violation
In this “Jannat e jahan”, life of common people is brutalized every moment. Most of the crimes are committed by Indian army in the clout of a ‘proxy war’ against Pakistan and termed as “unavoidable”. After the election of 1987, a state of despair stated looming over the valley from 1989, leading to common Kashmiris on the streets of Srinagar from January to May 1990. These peaceful protests were rewarded with indiscriminate firing during Jagmohon tenure. 2477 civilians have been killed by security personnel on the period 1990-1989(PTI release, September 13, 1998).
In 1995, Amnesty International reported 706 cases of custodial killings in the period of 1990-94 . Indian Government rubbished 519 of these deaths mentioning them as “encounter killings” despite eye witness reporting on the contrary. During the turbulent period of 1989-99, 1000 persons reported disappeared without any trace, by Amnesty on August, 2000.
Hundreds of women are subjected to barbaric torture by the Indian men in uniform. The mass rape of nine women at Sophian in 1992 or mass rape of 20 women at Konan Pashpura in 1991 was investigated by the same army unit charged with the crime. Despite medical evidences these charges are being dismissed every day in collusion with army and police, seriously threatening the dignity of Kashmiri sisters.
In March 2000, unidentified persons massacred 35 Sikhs at Chittisinghpora, and GOI blamed foreign militants. A few days after the killings five villagers were shot dead by Indian army at village Panchalthan on the plea that they were those militants. Later in 2002, DNA testing proved that they were civilians. The relatives of the civilians killed held a series of demonstration for public exhuming. A mass protest of 5000 unarmed civilians at Brakpora was fired upon, nine more men died. When the bodies were finally made public, they were discovered to have been burnt and defaced and dressed in army uniforms. The Pandian Commission investigating Brakpore killings recommended trial for three officers. Till date justice is not only delayed but also justice denied.
Several activists and dignitaries sympathetic to the free Kashmir movement were killed in recent past like Jalil Andrabi, H.N.Wanchoo, Dr. Farooq Abdullah Ashai and Dr. Ahad Guru etc. were killed either by Indian forces or by renegade militants by GOI.
Extraordinary power have been vested to the police vide Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 and Disturbances act 1976. Under the provisions of these acts violation of human rights occurs every day, every minute, every second in the “valley of happiness” which has now turned into a “valley of tears”. These acts need to be repealed.
Self determination
A normal Kashmiri has a strong sense of socioeconomic and religious identity. “Azadi” or self determination has a very strong connection with that distinctness. Ask any Kashmiri about Azadi, more so in rural areas. The response will be spontaneous. It may be argued that whether that distinctness boosts of a very strong religious character. But to be precise, every movement of self determination like Algerian movement or Sin Fin movement of Ireland consisted of issues from various spheres including religion. Now the point is whether such religious identity can safeguard the interest of the minorities like Dogras, Pandits, and Sikhs etc. There is plenty of hostility against India, but not much of hatred against Hindus as such. To an average Kashmiri Islam is humane and tolerant approach towards other religions as interpreted by Kashmiri Sufis, whose influence is manifested by the “Zizarats” that prevails through the valley.
Now when an average Kashmiri is asked whether liberated Kashmir will be a secular democracy or Islamic country, majority answer will answer for the former. Indian army sponsored counter insurgents, mostly erstwhile criminals, proclaimed worldview is the synthetic and tolerant culture called the “Kasmiriyat’. These insurgents are of the view that groups like Hijab-Ul-Mujahidin are enemy of the valley, as they want to destroy the tolerant culture. It has been rightly pointed out by JKLF leader Yasin Malik that these people probably don’t believe what they say. They forget any insult to the Islam may result in violent protest like that occurred in 1963-64 and 1973.
The UN Charter and the 1960 Declaration of Granting Independence to colonial countries declared the right of self determination, the right to freely choose their political status and to freely pursue their socioeconomic and cultural development. The human right violation of Kashmir also entitles the Kashmiri people their right to choose their political destiny as much as Yugoslavia’s human right violation and ethnic massacre resulting creation of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Macedonia and east Timor’s independence in 1999 from the colonial rule of Indonesia since 1975.
Sponsorship of pro Indian counter insurgence gangs to promote a region of terror on the border areas is a tactical move of GOI. Physical suppression coupled with renegade militant activity is primarily India’s main answer to border disputes. In the north east ethnic diversion has been used with evil effect. The state’s pact with these renegade militants, intelligentsia or even with human rights activists like late Parag Kumar Das of Assam or Jalil Ahmed Andrabi of Kashmir is that as long as they perform state work ,they will be provided with a free license to do most heinous works like rape, murder, robbery and so on. This vicious cycle not only jeopardise India’s intention but also gives birth to criminalization of society.
To ease off the tension in the sub continent between two nuclear powers, a relationship of trust by withdrawal of forces, by allowing activists in the valley is a priority.

Plebiscite is the only answer to Kashmir issue. Under the fear of gun the consciousness of people can never be suppressed. It is time for us to speak up, to protect the basic principle of democratic governance from future degradation. Or we will have to be content in letting Kashmiris, Nagas or other people similarly situated continue to hate us, being contended with the fact that in the interest of secularism their dreams of freedom is worth shattering.

Value of computer education

Just think of the famous commercial which states, with the advent of mobile internet (of course of a particular service provider) India is no longer going to be fooled. Exaggerated it may sounds, but in today’s world a normal human being, is surrounded by hundreds of computer related applications, literally like “Abhimunyu” within “chkrabuhya.(enough to make you crazy if you don’t know computer). That’s why one of my colleagues once jokingly remarked that if you don’t have any computer knowledge, you are going to be rubbished.
In the last two or three decades, computer and ICT (information and communication technology) has revolutionized the way we work, the way we think and even the way we breathe. Almost all spheres of our life are encompassed by some applications of computer. Consider some of these applications-
1. Modeling-right from designing a logo to creation of a 3-D model of a house, computer can work wonder at the stroke of a mouse. Calculating a cost effective way for optimum profit and production, to making school projects, applications are versatile.
2. Communication-chatting with my friend via world wide spidery web spun through satellites and optical cables to lightning communications through e-mail, computers have opened new horizons in communication aspect- a giant leap forward from snail mail era.
3. E commerce-using the internet platform for buying and selling at the click of a mouse is all set to change the traditional business concept.
4. Information-gone are the days, when we have to go through an entire library of references in order to find some information. Now internet has made it possible to have the best possible information in a whisker. So much so, that legendary Encyclopedia Britannica has scrapped their book edition to resort to CD-ROM edition and for update through internet.
5. Office management-computer has literally revolutionized this sector. Even traditional functions like booking a railway ticket or storing the record of a patient in a hospital has become hitch less with the advent of a computer. With a single click detailed records of every computerized database (say that of property tax of a particular holding) are available, which earlier would have taken a long battle with files and ledgers to trace out.
6. E governance- Information and communication technology (ICT) has the potential for efficient service delivery to citizens across the state with transparency, communicating with citizens in respect of their participation in governance, streamlining the business in responsive governance with strong institutional back up.
Service deliveries to citizens in areas like land related matters, death and birth certificates, taxation; trade and commerce related areas are now a child’s game using ICT.
Now, a small trader to a travel agent can run their business in a more purposeful and integrated way-thanks to computer application software.
Not only ICT in today’s context is essential to be fittest for the struggle of existence, but also education for generation Y has made epoch making approach with modern advancement of computer applications. It is no longer “chalk and talk” process, but a combination of information, education and communication (IEC).some of the benefits of computers in classroom are-
1. Information storage-large chunk of data finds its way in a mini USB drive. A 500GB hard disk drive is sufficient to store all the books of Library of Congress, the U.S.A. notes, answers, presentations, projects all just can be compiled and then can be stored into a hard disk. Students and teacher alike can get benefited from judicious use of computer. Data saved are more durable due to electronic format. Also, electronically erasable memory makes data storage capacity robust and recoverable.
2. Futuristic teaching aid- one old Chinese proverb says-‘I read and I forget. I perform and I remember.” a tiring topic like “influence of Latin on English literature”, can be made very lucid if explained through presentation software like PowerPoint or animation software like Flash. Computer aided teaching is a fun way to learn today, it facilitates the interaction between teacher and student. with animation and audio visual representations dead monarchs of history comes alive, hard grammar suddenly has a note of music added to it, difficult mathematics comes out to be a cake work. With colour, sound and movement- a different perspective is added to the same old boring geography or civics or education or any subject of study. Explanation is better and remembrance is easier.
3. Internet- with internet, data can be accessed on almost all the topics with minute details. “Easier to access and easier to store”-you are not going to be fooled any more. For reference and better understanding of the subject this vast database can be used by teacher and student alike. Teachers can set papers, frame questions and students can make better project report with the bliss of computer.
4. Distance learning-in a vast country like India, internet enabled classroom teaching can only bridge the barrier of distance and status. Student from a hamlet can now access the teaching of same faculty, as in metro cities. Thanks to video conferencing, these classes are no loner a one way traffic, student and teacher can communicate with each other now. Many distant learning technical and mainstream courses are there, which helps students to learn at their convenient timings.

The United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) two and three- are about achieving universal primary education and promoting gender equality. Despite Government’s constant endeavour in this direction through schemes like mid day meal, Sarba Sikha Abhiyan etc, the drop out ratio in India at primary level (class i to vii) is as alarming as 46%, wheras in secondary level (class ix to x) it is 60%, as against enrollment rate of 53 %( 2006-07 data). There are many obstacles in respect of pedagogical, curricular and institutional but to reach out to a large number of students, ICT use in distance education mode is a fantastic tool. Although the upfront investment is far greater than traditional teaching, but the recurring costs are minimal in comparison to traditional teaching. Through this method of teaching, new vocational avenues can also be opened to interested students.
Indian government has launched initiatives such as “Vidya vahini” and “Gyan bahini” to facilitate connectivity across schools and building up ITC infrastructure in higher studies institutes respectively. “Sankhya vahini” another initiative of Indian telecom is all set to connect 100 universities, school, colleges and corporate establishments.
A study conducted by the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) indicated that 80 percent of its participants felt more aware and empowered by their exposure to ICT in education, and 60 percent stated that the process of teaching as well as learning were directly and positively affected by the use of ICT.
Computer education has potential to enhance the options, access, participation and achievement of all students. Backward, marginalized and gender specific groups can greatly benefit from ICT, especially those who hail from remote rural areas, have special learning needs, are specially abled and so on.
However, the high student teacher ratio in Indian schools coupled with insufficiency of infrastructure for ICT, high drop out rate of female students for lack of basic amenities like latrine, high drop out rate of children for earning of wage etc. raise a question mark on effective implementation of computer education to all strata of Indian society. It is argued that computer education has the potential danger for widening the gap between haves and have-nots.
But we must remember ICT is only a tool for effective implementation of education and success of the same depends on policy initiatives of the government not some cosmetic measures like distribution of some tablets to vulnerable section or making some remote villages internet hot spots.
Computer can cause wonder at the hand of a judicious and creative mind. It is a very good soldier who can win you a loosing battle, but a bad general who can give you reverse outcome. It’s never to be forgotten that the intelligent quotient (I.Q) of computer is zero. So the golden rule is -never make computer the driver, always you drive and use computer as your steering.
Today computer has a deep impact on not only educational sector, but it embraces every sphere of our life. This underlines the importance of computer education. Computer is a propelling force of career, given it’s penetration in all the segments of industry today. We have already discussed both about the extensive fields and the way computer can make learning a fun. So, strike the iron when it’s hot, introduce computer early in education. It is as essential as mainstream education. Learning English and learning computer-can be put under the same bracket.
As prologue of this essay, I must confess that in order to write I gathered information from the Google search, typed the essay in my old laptop and then just e mailed it to submit. Without my knowledge of computer, will it ever be that easy?
Life is just like that.

Play it like Virat

Winning Like Virat: Think and Succeed like Kohli by Abhirup Bhattacharya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The last ball of the last over has been bowled long time back.
There was nobody in the field- even the grounds men have long been gone. Only a slender boy was there-in the empty stadium-with a vacant look in both his eyes. He has scored duck in this match, too!
This is his third consecutive duck. His friends are talking about three consecutive tons-and here he is-with third consecutive duck.
His gleaming eyes have transformed-transformed completely-all roads before him have been closed. Will there be any way out?
Well- it is not my intent to write a tragic story-although the initial lines may sound a little dramatic. My intent is to say that even when the world seems to be against you- you can win. The boy has two avenues before him-either to succumb to the pressure and to let his cricketing career dies a natural death or to fight it out bravely-with grit.
Everything is imaginary here- the boy, the stadium, the match and even the duck-but not the eternal person within the boy. At the crossroad of life we all feel like the boy at some point of time-perplexed –unable to find the right way-the right direction.
Often we forget that there is no short cut to success!
Honestly speaking I was a little nervous When I first got-‘Winning like Virat-Think & Succeed Like Kohli’ by Abhirup Bhattachrya-a NIFT alumni with management background-after peeking into the book. The book is full of figures that resembled like Venn diagram-and there are lots of graphs. Now I bade adieu to mathematics a long way back and to be modest everyone around me has a frightful impression about my strength in mathematics. So much so-that once I asked my plumber that I want to install a five liter reservoir in my house- how much will it cost. But soon I saw there are no scales attached to graphs. I got assurance. These must be hypothetical graphs aimed at mathematical genius like me. And I started reading the book. Abhirup has written the book in a way as if he is giving a classroom lecture and keen eyes are watching him. So it is easy to go from one topic to another-in the intermediate phase he has tried to answer probable questions that might arise in reader’s mind.
Virat Kohli has become synonymous with the face of Indian cricket for quite sometime- both in and out the ground. These days he is the Czar of the social media-he is the third most followed Indian on Facebook and 12th in Twitter. But his success did not come so easily. There were days when he scored single digit runs in international cricket. There were days when he was not considered an automatic choice of Indian squad. These were days of hard struggle for the current Indian ODI skipper. He overcame these days with dedication, hard work and temperament. Abhirup seeks to find the key to Virat’s success from the perspective of management. In his words, the aim of the book is to –“attempt to unravel the reasons for the phenomenal success and his philosophy towards life. It is an attempt to decode and unleash the success of the consistent performer so that we all can learn from him and improve our lives.”
The idea is innovative- instead of writing a plain book on being successful in life from the viewpoint of management -Abhirup used Virat as a role model to elaborate the success mantra of life explained from the angle of virat’s quest for excellence. It is easily understandable why he used a cricketer as his set piece example. In a country where cricket is considered a part of life- success story of an iconic cricketer-who is heartthrob of billions will bring far greater readership than a formula one driver or a medal winner Olympian. But why Virat? There are no dearths of stars in Indian cricketer. That toohas been answered by Abhirup himself .Virat is not as talented as Sachin Tendulkar-his technique is not as perfect as Rahul Dravid. He did not have a spectacular debut in Indian cricketing arena either. But he knew his limitations and his relentless quest made him come closer to perfection. He is self-made man. But how? That’s the main theme of the book.
The book is divided into seven sections and each section is attributed to certain quality of Virat explained from cricketing point of view as well as from the view point of management. Although the book begun with a brief life sketch of Virat –by no means the book can be dubbed as his biography. Qualities of Virat have further been elaborated with examples and discussions on real life business world and hypothetical business situations. Although Abhirup made sincere efforts to match them perfectly- they are not always very corroborative. Take the example of discussion on importance of sacrifice in success. Abhirup begun his discussion citing the example of Flipkart co founder Sachin and Binny Bansal-who used to stand outside Gangaram Book Stores in Bengaluru –and distribute bookmarks to the persons near the store or who had made a purchase to promote their brand. Point of the author is that not everyone can sacrifice their self esteem in zeal for success. Abhirup correlated this quality with Virat’s quest for perfection- his relentless practice to make his shoots improve-his sacrifice of once his favourite food in his endeavour to be a consistent performer. Although both does not fit properly-one is physical sacrifice and the other is emotional -but Abhirup made it sounds correct. His message is clear –if you want to achieve something in life-you have to be ready to sacrifice something. Another quality of the book is that Abhirup summarises his findings in a nutshell as learning tips- these one sentences may be proven really useful when the reader is in a hurry!
I was particularly curious what Abhirup makes out of Virat’s aggression on and off the field. He discussed it under the discussion topic-Ethics makes a difference. The idea is that Virat has controlled his aggression to a large extent and now uses it as a tool for improved performance. That resulted in Virat turning out to be one of the most respected batsmen. Abhirup concluded his discussion by saying
“In corporate life we are often faced between choices of doing what is right for us and doing what is right for the company. If one is talented enough, one can find another job no matter how good the current opportunity is. One should never forget the fall from grace of the ex-McKinsey chief Rajat Gupta who was found guilty on charges of insider trading. The point is, how should we wish to be remembered?”
To prove his points-(as I have mentioned earlier) Abhirup has taken help of diagrams, charts, graphs, theoretical discussions throughout the book. His English is fluent and writing style modern-so it will be rather easy for reader to finish the book in one go!
But do not think that overnight this book will not transform you from a dejected soul to a person beaming with confidence. Success is not an instant noodle. What you can achieve is confidence at your heart that yes, I can win!
You can-because you have miles to go before you sleep!
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Book information
Paperback: 141 pages
Publisher: Rupa Publications India (24 April 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 8129146061

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Baba Ramdev-Told & Untold Story

The Baba Ramdev Phenomenon: From Moksha to MarketThe Baba Ramdev Phenomenon: From Moksha to Market by Kaushik Deka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

He was returning home from school-with his friends- like the other days.

But that day was destined to be a lot different than the other days- a day that perhaps changed the course of his life. He suddenly felt that his left foot is unable to carry his body- he fell on the ground- grappled with pain. His face is twisted.

He was taken to a government hospital-where the doctors declared that the young boy had a paralysis attack. For his parents the future dream was broken like glass. But it was not so for the boy.

Is he an ill fated boy for whom all roads are closed? Not exactly!

It was rise from the ashes like the phoenix.

His physical disability channeled his life to a new course- a course that made him phenomenon in India. Constant stirring of his physical and mental strength not only helped him to conquer his deformities but also He became synonymous with healing with yoga-he became the face of Indian entrepreneurship in the backdrop of aggression of multinational FMCG corporate- he became a prominent face in the civil society movement against corruption-and the list is endless!

‘The Baba Ramdev Phenomenon-From Moksha to Market’– by Kaushik Deka-a senior Associate Editor of India Today, is an account of the transforming life of the famed Yoga Guru. It is his debut book and he chooses his subject wisely. A full length cover story on the famed person on India Today inspired him to make an honest attempt to search for the success mantra of this monk turned enterprenuer. Not only his proximity with Baba Ramdev enabled him to judge the actual man but also helped him to judge the mettle in which the ‘Corporate Sadhu’ is made of!  Kaushik in this book recollected-‘Despite all his success, business acumen political connections, he is still childlike in his in his enthusiasm and probably opens up too early to strangers. He is still the village boy at heart. He is emotionally charged and goes carried away, often inviting trouble. As time passed, I witnessed more of the later.’

Kaushik narrated well the inspirations behind the making of the Baba. Ram Kishen –The name, by which the small neighborhood of Saidalipur knew Baba Ramdev, was not to be defeated so easily. Maharshi Dayanand Swarasati gave him mental courage while his decade long struggle against physical inability finally bore fruit. In this connection I must say    Kaushik wrote in good journalistic English-has a natural flair that keeps his readers engaged till the end. So the joy of reading doubles itself.

Baba Ramdev went to the Himalayas-perhaps to seek enlightenment within him. But there he realized consciousness of different kind altogether-from the smaller world of ‘me’ he breathed into the bigger world of ‘us’-he realized it is better to work for the benefit of others rather than being a parasite. And the journey started. The fire was ready to be ignited.

It begun humbly-but begun steadily. The yoga camp became the stepping stone of Baba’s career. What begun with two people-soon started to attract more and more people. Kaushik wrote- “The number of camps and people attending those camps started increasing. His ways was simple- thirty minutes morning breathing exercises coupled with a few yoga postures promising faster results, even within a month. He knew what people wanted-continuing good health was not appealing enough, but they were desperate to get rid of common ailments-diabetes, heart issues and obesity .He packaged his offering well-much like instant noodles –and is fitted perfectly with the busy schedule of modern life. What made his success easier was his natural gift of the gab and a sense of humour. He continued in a language that the mass understands.”

Controversies and obstacles are both part of Baba’s life. But as Kaushik has pointed out, these obstacles only acted as catalysts to his success. Perhaps like Kabir Bedi in Kranti, Baba too had murmured-‘Log jahan par soochna band kar dete hai … main wahan se soochna shuru karta hoon’ (where people stop thinking- Where people stop thinking … I start thinking from there). And Kaushik made a very neutral detailed narrative of those controversies. It is a journalist’s true way of describing events- never getting carried away by personal relations. The mysterious disappearance of Swami Shankar Das-co founder of Divya Yog Mandir is one of these controversies. Then who can forget the allegation coined by CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat that Divya Pharmacy is using   animal bones in some of its Auyrvedic products. But as Kaushik has rightly pointed out, these obstacles only helped Ramdev to go from strength to strength. He too has complete control over his words and works- always beaming with confidence! Commenting on his success of amla juice he recollected-‘Many had suggested (to) make pickles, but juice was a better option. There was scepticism if people would accept amla juice, but I knew they would trust my wisdom. I became the brand ambassador of amla Juice and the rest is history.” If you think how a monk can talk in such corporate language- well, you have to rethink. Because not only this monk has been able to make MNC’s such as Hindustan Unilever to rethink their business strategy in the face of ‘Carpet Bombing’ (as Kaushik has aptly pointed out) of Patanjali group of industries-but also cut the market shares of corporate savages. Kaushik presented a detailed statistical analysis of high and low tides of Patanjali Empire and other MNCs. Analysis has been backed by extensive research and contemporary news synthesis. What is noteworthy that at the footnote there is mention of web pages where that particular news piece had appeared.

Discussion will be incomplete without mentioning of role of Baba Ramdev in contemporary politics. He came to the political arena as a crusader against corruption. Then his journey continued –he became near to somebody –went away from somebody-continued with his ideology with ‘bold’(well-readers have to judge themselves)moves-went on to became the kingmaker(  ?)-some fun packed incidents-   Kaushik made it all too enjoyable.  There are information, information and more information- but written in an intriguing way. Reader’s boat will sail freely without getting struck in sand pile of dry information.  But I personally think that it would be fantastic if Kaushik garnishes his platter with a dash of humour and wit!

In the same way as Baba Ramdev does!



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Other information
Pages: 216 pages
Publisher: Rupa Publications India
Price- INR 252
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In life and in death

Unns-The CaptivationUnns-The Captivation by Sapan Saxena
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After so many years –they met again. This time they met thousands of miles away- in a different continent.
But one thing remained in common between them- she is still the fairy princes of his dreams. And what about her? Is he still the prince charming whom she always cherished?
To be or not to be-that is the question?
Is it sheer luck that arranged their reunion or is there deeper play inside-is they puppets at the hand of destiny or is it not probability, but calculated movement?
A pretty straightforward story of romance and heartbreak at the first part and a sizzling story of mystrey with many twists-this is how the book UNNS-The Captivation by Sapan Saxena can be summed up. The story may be a simple single layer story in the first part but in the second part he story becomes multilayered. As the storyline progressed thrill increases- and there is everything in the story- crime, suspense, romance, betrayal, suspense, patriotism and of course-action-lots of it!
Atharva- the protagonist of our story and a brilliant student too- found the girl whose presence is enough to play the chord of violin in his mind in his school days. She was Meher- a girl full of innocence –a girl whose father was an army officer. Both got attracted towards each other-and as the story will progress we will see both have fallen for qualities of the character of the other sex. Although I think both fall for each other a bit too quickly- but whoever ever have heard love follows the logical route. And Sapan created magical moments at the time when he proposed to her. A quote from the scene will be worth quoting-‘”wait, what? Did she just? Propose?’ He asked himself. She likes me?’ wait, yes! She was waiting in the class alone for me to come out and talk. She missed the selection for me. Am I dreaming? ‘He said as he pinched himself.
‘Meher likes you, Atharva! ’He jumped out of joy and punched his fist in the air.
‘This is the greatest day of my life ’he said, beaming with happiness.’’
The book has been written in an epistolary form- where our protagonist Atharva is with the diary. The flashback love sequence has been duly complimented by an environment where Atharva is in- snow falling all around- it is chilling cold outside contrasting picture of spring and winter- warmth and cold-love and heartbreak!
But the story in real always does not end in and they lived happily ever after ‘mode. Destiny compelled them to be separated and they did separate. After all, life is a stage where the characters have their entry and their exit. But what I can say is that to me their separation seems to be a little artificial.
Their lives flowed in different channels- she went to an alien country-with her in laws. And he remained in his land. Simple profanity tells that their chance of reunion is heavily odd. But god had other intentions.
So curtain once again rose after so many years. This time in a country far away from the motherland of Atharva. He is no longer the wide eyed student he used to be- but a responsible officer of the Indian secret service. He is in the far away country in a secret mission- a mission that concerns the security and sovereignty of his motherland.
In this land –far away-Atharva found Meher. He discovered-that even after so many years his memory of her is still as bright as yesterday-time has failed to make it dusty.
It all makes senses now’ Said Meher, still stunned and shocked by the realization of truth ‘why, it’s the 2nd time you saw me this way. Why you practiced and perfected chilly chicken the last fifteen years. My interest that I used to have in history, and of course, the colour of the roses. You remember it all.’
Atharva remained standing silently for a few minutes ‘what could I do ,Mehjer? You fished me out of your memory, so I made your entire memories mine.
‘Why Atharva,why? How could you?
Í never tried anything else,never had the option.’
After all this years? ‘She asked, her voice getting deeper.
Always. he replied.”
It would have been wonderful if it ends like the fragrance of spring flower. But almighty had other wishes- so the suspense and the thrill builds up and so did the relation between the two. In the words of the writer-they crossed sevens stages of love. May be consciously- may be unconsciously!
Never forget that the ultimate stage of love is death.

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other information of the book
Paperback: 220 pages
Publisher-Inspire India
Price -INR 189
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The Man who fooled them all

The Indian Spy: The True Story of the Most Remarkable Secret Agent of World War IIThe Indian Spy: The True Story of the Most Remarkable Secret Agent of World War II by Mihir Bose
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is a sort of comedy of errors!
Two persons ,clearly desperate, to contact the Russian Ambassador of Afghanistan- neglecting the January frost bite of Kabul landed themselves in all sorts of trouble. First they discussed among themselves at length how to evade the notice of patrolling Afghan policeman in front of the Russian embassy. The short, lean man from the duo was after finding a person from the embassy who is Russian –hand him a letter meant for the Ambassador. But in reality it proved out to be a tricky job- first day he encountered a person and told him in Dari- a version of the local Persian language that he wanted to hand a letter to the Ambassador. The person assumed him to be a local Afghan and avoided him. The second day he encountered two women who were not even bothered to speak at him.
Is it a scene from a Charlie Chaplin movie sequence? It is not exactly so!
History will remember This short and thin man as the man who had escorted Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in the Great Escape from Kolkata (the then Calcutta) to Kabul-the capital of Afghan territory an act that ultimately threatened the British Lion during the second World War. The man was Bhagat Ram Talwar –a Hindu Pathan from the North West Frontier Province of British India –who had done his bit as a member of the Kirti Party in the India’s struggle for freedom.
Is that all? Is that the total identity of the unimpressive looking man?
Who was he actually? Friend or foe? Betrayer or helper?
The pendulum continues to swing.
‘The Indian spy- The True story of the Most Remarkable secret Agent of World War II’ by Mihir Bose- a London based author and journalist is the pioneering effort to bring out a full length biography on the man who according to contemporary records and secret files acted as a quintuple secret agent acting for Britain, Italy, Germany, Japan and the USSR. His story is sure to bit the wildest imagination of any spy thriller writer. Bose made extensive research from archives of British, Japanese, U.S.A and the U.S.S.R. and had made a series of interviews with the persons concerned. He consulted secret war documents, and then made a sketch of the person. The writer made very detailed study of the contemporary politics and international relation -to arrive at a neat and perfect study of the character who dared to fool them all.
The story of Talwar-who was lovingly given the name ‘Silver ‘by his British Secret Service bosses, first caught the fancy of the writer while working on the full length biography of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Talwar- the Hindu Pathan from the British North West Frontier province was a follower of the Communist ideology. Still he preferred to work for the Fascist Powers during the war days. Apart from the fact that both Communism and Fascism were derived from Hegel-there was nothing in common. It does not make sense either. So the Writer made an obvious conclusion- Talwar acted as a double agent- both for the Allied and the Axis powers during the turbulent days. In his words-‘How I wondered, was it possible that by 1942 all Silver’s associates had been arrested by the British but he was free to on with his spying. I concluded that ‘even when we have allowed for (his) extraordinary brilliance at deception we are left with some doubts….the record is so murky that a clear answer is impossible.
The book started with a detailed study of the socioeconomic scenario of the North West Frontier study. The study continued with a quick recollection of India’s quest for freedom in between the time period from the end of First World War to the rise of extremist period in India or we may say-more broadly a transformation from moderate to extremist challenge in India. Talwar was from a family background that participated actively in the extremist movement-in the words of the author-‘the Silver family were now rebels in British eyes and several of his family members, including Jamuna Das were arrested. Silver himself was released in September when he had served his sentence but was then immediately rearrested under the Frontier Crime Regulation Act.’ Although Talwar hailed from a well off aristocrat landowner’s family- his association with the peasant movement allowed him to come closer to the socialist segment of congress and ultimately to Subhash Chandra Bose. This association ultimately paved the way for Talwar to become a spy. The writer commented-‘ Silver decided to follow Bose and became the NWFP propaganda Secretary of the party. In India at that time the word propaganda was seen in a positive light and Silver gloried in the title.’
War had changed the life of Talwar- and his story begun! As an escort of Netaji to the roads of Afghanistan he discovered his true worth or rather the world discovered this hidden treasure. His association with Netaji gave him ample opportunity to come closer to the Axis powers and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Further he had the added advantage- Netaji himself had nominated him to work as his agent. The unimpressive looking impressive character won the confidence of the axis power-swindled 2.5 million pound in today’s valuation from the Axis nations. Not only was that he given transmitters for setting up operating station inside India to create insurgency. Needless to say-those valuable equipments and money have been used for the benefit of soviet and British power. As a spy he supplied them with baseless information which was ultimately used for the benefit of Allied troops. Not only had he deceived Axis powers- he also deceived Netaji by creating a false impression of his organizational set up in India.
But why he did so? According to the writer his first and foremost commitment was to the communist party. Soviet power allowed him to work for the British power- and he fulfilled his promises. Even in his book the master spy had made a false impression that he worked diligently for Netaji. The writer rightly commented-‘’Silver was a wonderful tool for proving that not all communists worked against Bose. Why, here was a man who had helped him escape, and throughout the war worked for him in league with the Italians, the Germans and Japanese.’’
This book as we have earlier said was not only a full length biographical sketch of the spy- but also a treasure trove of contemporary events-particularly of wartime days. The book is written in a lucid way- which transformed the book to an enjoyable read from a dry book of information.

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An epic in Black and White

Saint Teresa of Calcutta: A Celebration of Her Life & LegacySaint Teresa of Calcutta: A Celebration of Her Life & Legacy by Raghu Rai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My work schedule as a teacher in a Government School demands that I have to ply through the busiest railway station of the planet- twice daily, once in morning and once in evening-once at the beginning and the other, at the end of a day’s work. When I do come home –at the evening, exhausted –after a day long crusade with the children, colleagues, my Head Mistress…well, the list is endless – I see that fine arts students throng the corridor of the station –with art papers and pens in their hands – making sketches on the white canvas. They do different kinds of study-figure study from different angles, action study .pose study and so on! For the last eleven years I am so used to the obvious scenario that these days I hardly took a glance at the daily frame of the station. But on that day- back after with a tussle with my fellow teachers over the mid day meal issue I found something -that in my unconsciousness made my pace completely sloth. A young lady-probably in her mid twenties- in a wheelchair – was weeping. An elderly looking man- may be her father, may be someone else was trying to console her. Another elderly looking lady was looking at the duo with a vacant look- her face telling me something that is hard to describe- as if her world soon going to fall apart.
It is a moving scene – beyond doubt. And have materials to be a perfect story. I started thinking- how lucky are a clan of people called the painters. They will watch the movement-the emotions- the people- and then can make the fabric of the story with their own imagination and as Charlie Chaplin puts it-‘perhaps with a drop of tears.’ They are lucky enough. I started thinking- the same issue that I have previously thought at least a hundred times over-the group of people called the photographers are not so lucky. They are merely engineers compared to these imaginers! They have a real canvas to work upon. How can reality beat imagination? After all one photographer at his best can lens everyday story-the world around us- where the falling of winter leaf is only falling of winter leaf- not any indication of death. It is the world where the movement of the wrinkles of an old person is only wrinkle movement- not any indication of joy of a free man who had spent his life in chains.
My sudden thought was proved wrong every time I had the gushing thought and this time it was no exception- amid a bit of spicy touch. When I returned home- I found that the copy of ‘Saint Teresa of Calcutta- A celebration of Her Life & Legacy’ by Raghu Rai has been delivered to my house. I just looked at the cover of the book and for the hundred and first time I mentally slapped myself. The upper cover portrays an old lady- with wrinkles all around her face and at her hands-dressed in the classic outfit of a nun- everything in behind her is blurred- only she is prominent in the foreground-and her face-her posture reminds me of a hymn of Upanishad-‘From ignorance, lead me to truth;/ From darkness, lead me to light;/ From death, lead me to immortality/. Let there be all prevailing peace.’ ‘Saint Teresa of Calcutta- A celebration of her Life and her Legacy’ is the fruit of the association of Raghu Rai with Mother spanning over three decades and for over two decades after her demise. He first met her in the 70’s,in connection with a feature story for Junior Statesman- and had taken some of the most iconic pictures of mother since then. This is the fourth book on Mother by the eminent photographer. The collection of photography is divided in three board categories- the Canonization ceremony of the mother, her life and work and her legacy along with a well knit study of chronological events in her life. The book has been enriched with recollection of the memories of the holy figure – written in a spontaneous manner. The collection has been conceptualized in an innovative way-first the pictures of Canonization Ceremony have been arranged sequentially with a little introduction by the master photographer. It is temping for me to quote a little from the memoir-‘When Pope Francis arrived there was pandemonium all around. Everyone was screaming –‘Papa Francis we love you’ and in the confusion I was able to begin shooting with my larger cameras. The pictures that appear in the section are from the shoot. They show the incredible reverence with which Saint Teresa is regarded. ‘Although my friends often tell me that the snaps I do take are almost invariably out of focus- still in my limited ability I can tell pictures of page 17, 23, 25 are outstanding (all the pictures are excellent ,but to me these pictures reached the zenith of perfection) . And who can forget the classic of page 14- the iconic figure of the city of joy.
When Raghu Rai conceptualized this book on mother –he confessed he was hesitant due to two reasons- first he was a male and second he was not a Christian. In his eloquent way he continues in this book-‘I was extremely sensitive and careful in the way I photographed her and the sisters and she eventually said ‘ Let me do my prayer and I shall let you know.’ I said ‘Mother I have done my prayer and the answer is YES.’ At this she looked at me and said simply.’ Okay, let’s do it.’
The second section of the book –Her Life and Work seems to me the most interesting collection of photographs-with most of the photographs telling more than a thousand words while remaining in mere black and white silence. It began with a bit of flashback –reminding us how she had to begin her journey in an alien city-in an alien condition. Almost all the photographs have a touching story to tell. The collection begun with some snaps of the city of joy and continues with the work of the mother and Missionaries of Charity to wipe out tears from the eyes of the nameless inhabitants of the city where ‘life is fragile but the human will is indomitable.’ There are unpublished as well as famed photographs. Some of the photographs of Mother capturing her in different moods done by the famed photographer are really astonishing- catching emotional vivacity of the mother and her mental aura at large.
But the photographs of the prayers of the nuns require a special mention as there is a nice little story behind. Mother herself was against the idea of capturing prayer moments in lenses and rightly so. The photographer insisted and the logic he placed before Mother may prove intriguing to readers-‘Mother, you often say that you nurse the poorest of the poor because you not there when Jesus was suffering and thus while nursing the poor, you actually nurse Jesus. This is one of the two routes through which one can establish direct contact with him. The other one is prayer. I have never met him. Never seen him. But when see him only when you do your prayers. Jesus comes to dwell in your eyes. If I can’t photograph this, then how can I establish this connection and share it with others. My story will remain incomplete.’ The third section –The Legacy of Mother is collection of the photographs covering her last rite, and the Continuation of the sisters of her organization on the path shown by her. Coupled with a detailed chronological study of the events of her life this pictorial biography gets completed. The binding, printing quality and paper quality are truly of international standard making the book a must for a collectors –not to mention about persons who are passionate about photography.
Before I conclude I was a little confused about the title of the review. My brain was telling name it as –An epic in Black and White’-what else we can call her life-rather than epic?
But deep inside me somebody was telling –name it as –Light in darkness.
The brain ultimately wins-but it is a different story.

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Other details
Hardcover: 148 pages
Publisher: Aleph Book Company (1 April 2017)
Price- INR 1499
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Raghu Rai