All posts filed under: Reviews

Book Review: ‘The Sabarimala Confusion: Menstruation Across Cultures: A Historical Perspective’ By Nithin Sridhar

The whole issue of menstruation and related matters came to the fore during the recent Supreme Court Judgement which allowed women of the reproductive age to enter the sacred hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala in the state of Kerala. The self branded liberal intellectuals viewed this judgement as a step towards the ‘empowerment’ and ‘emancipation’ of Hindu women. Women, especially those hailing from Kerala itself showed great resentment towards this judgement and initiated the ‘Ready to Wait’ Movement which was a clear indication that the Hindu women of the menstruating age had patience to visit the Sabarimala Temple after crossing this stage. There were a lot of misconceptions- many of them deliberately generated by the so called liberals about the Hindu view of menstruation and the entire issue of Sabarimala Temple Entry came to be linked to menstruation alone. Against the background of such rampant misconceptions Sri Nithin Sridhar’s book titled ‘Menstruation Across Cultures: A Historical Perspective’ has been published at the opportune moment to give a fitting reply to the wrong ideas …

Book Review: Londonistan

As Britain becomes more multi-cultural and more heterogeneous a society, it has also had to face a most unfortunate consequence of this intermingling. People – immigrants – who have turned against their motherland. The London terrorist attacks of 2005 brought this problem to the forefront for much of Britain – “The realization that British boys would want to murder their fellow citizens was bad enough.” What some have perceived as a lax and permissive attitude among the intelligentsia to the sprouting of Islamic fundamentalism has led to the coinage of a pejoration: “Londonistan” – “a mocking play on the names of such state sponsors of terrorism as Afghanistan”, and the despair that London itself has become “the major European center for the promotion, recruitment and financing of Islamic terror and extremism.” This book, then, is a scathing look at the players that have led to, in the author’s view, a surrender to the forces of Islamic fundamentalism in Britain. In the author’s view, and backed by considerable data, such a pejoration – the term ‘Londonistan’ …

The Tashkent Files – A Review

One of the sad narratives of the modern India is that of a ‘disconnect’ – the disconnect between what most know instinctively as the reality and what is presented as part of a faux narrative in textbooks, public discussions, etc. This disconnect is visible at many levels in Indian discourse. One of them, undoubtedly, is history telling and it is also one of the most glaring one. What we know as ‘common knowledge’ in history has been willfully omitted from historiography and what is taught in history textbooks doesn’t really reconcile with what most common folks grow up knowing about those facts.  Several scholars, authors, public intellectuals including Dr. Meenakshi Jain, Sanjeev Sanjyal, Rajiv Malhotra, Arun Shourie, etc., have publicly talked about this ‘disconnect’ in their scholarly works as well as in public discourse. Vivek Agnihotri’s recently released film The Tashkent Files attempts to bridge that very disconnect on the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri through the popular art form of cinema and does it really well. Independent India’s second Prime Minister Sri Lal Bahadur …

The Tashkent Files

Do you know: Who founded the National Dairy Development Board that started Operation Flood? This move made India not only self-sufficient in milk production but also the largest producer of milk in the world, thereby leading to socio-economic development of the rural public. Who started the green revolution to make our nation self-reliant in food production? Who raised the morale of the armed forces after the debacle against China in 1962? Who shared a birthday with Mahatma Gandhi? Who gave us the slogan “Jai Jawan! Jai Kisan!”? Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri The second Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri was a simple person and a dedicated leader. His tenure as Prime Minister was from 9th June 1964 until his death on 11th January 1966, which is barely 19 months. Shastri was a short man but as they say “good things come in small packages” In the short duration of his stint Shastri ji achieved many things that are having a lasting impact on the development of our nation. A simpleton by nature and lifestyle …

Flight Of Deities: A Tale Of Dharmic Resistance

प्रतिष्ठायां सुराणां तु देवतार्चानुकीर्तनं | देवयज्ञोत्सवं चापि बन्धनाद्येन मुच्यते || One must know the true nature and power of divine murthys while consecrating them; By worshipping such images through utsavas and yajnas, one obtains liberation from this world – Matsya Purana Meenakshi Jain’s latest book “Flight of Deities and Rebirth of Temples, Episodes from Indian History” is an extraordinary narration of an unfortunate part of Hindu history. It documents the struggle and, in some cases, survival of Bharata’s splendid temples and their revered deities. It is the product of a painstaking effort on the part of the author to gather information from primary sources and observation of the remnants of the heroic struggle of the Hindu community to protect their temples and murthys in the wake of centuries of attacks by Islamic invaders and other non-dharmic civilizations. By covering every part of the country, the author highlights how the problem of iconoclasm affected every nook and corner of this great civilization and brings forth an interesting truth about how a common zeal and belief bound …

Book Review – Draupadi by Sai Swaroopa Iyer

“Guru Patni must be having the same grief as mine; I do not want her to suffer the way I have suffered. Release Him.” With these words, the queen ( Sai garu, I should say Samragni right) releases the man who murdered her sons. Yes, it the mother Draupadi who thought of the grief of another mother when her kids were killed in cold blood. Perhaps, the most complex and the most intriguing person of Mahabharatha is Empress Draupadi. The lady who was brought up with a dream of being the darling wife of the best Archer of the world had to be the wife of 5 brothers. The lady who did the Abhibrudha snana and got her hair tied while Veda mantras were being recited after the RajaSuya Yagna, was dragged by the same hair into a royal court and an attempt was made to disrobe her. That lady who had thousands of servants at her disposal had been a hairdresser during the agnata vasa. That lady who could have made a maid a queen …

Book review – Supreme Whispers: Conversations with Judges of the Supreme Court of India (1980-89)

‘Supreme Whispers’ is the kind of book that is really hard to review. This is because the book is a result of efforts of two different people at two different points in time. George H. Gadbois Jr., a scholar of Indian law and judicial behaviour, conducted over 116 interviews with more than sixty-six judges of the Supreme Court of India, and others like senior lawyers, politicians, relatives of deceased judges and court staff. Gadbois made meticulous records of these interviews in his handwritten notes which he later typed out on a typewriter. Before passing away, he sent these notes to Abhinav Chandrachud, his student and the book’s author, after he had himself extracted a book out of them. The present book is justified by the author citing the fact that he had been granted full freedom towards the use of Gadbois’ notes by the man himself, and that Gadbois’ book barely scratched the surface on a few important details, perhaps due to the time period that it had been written in. It is with these …

Shyam Saran

Book Review: How India Sees The World from Kautilya to the 21st Century

How India Sees The World from Kautilya to the 21st Century is a part memoir, a part history and a part description about India’s foreign policy that has been shaped because of this history. Written by one of India’s foremost diplomats Shyam Saran who served as the Foreign Secretary of India between 2004 and 2006, it takes a historical worldview of India and describes the tenets of foreign policy of the country. The book is basically divided into three parts. In the first part, the author gives a historical background regarding the foreign policy and statecraft in ancient India built upon ancient texts such as the Arthashastra which he describes as undoubtedly the most important Indian treatise on statecraft. Kautilya or Chanakya was the counsellor and guide to Chandragupta Maurya, one of India’s greatest ever emperors and the founder of the Maurya Empire. The author observes that the Arthashastra dedicates quite a large section in it to foreign policy and the backdrop is highly suited to the modern, multipolar or multistate world that we are …

Book Review: 26/11 Unforgiven

जैसा कि पुस्तक का शीर्षक अपने आप मेँ अभिव्यक्त करता है कि 26/11 का बर्बरिक आतँकवादी हमला अक्षम्य है| लेखन की विधा एक कहानी की तरह है| कहानी का मुख्य पात्र एक भारतीय है जो सँवेदनशील,घोर पारिवारीक और कोमल हृदय का है| नायक के पिता की सैन्य पृष्ठभूमि उसे सेना के उस स्वरुप की अनुभूति करवाती है जो एक सामान्य नागरिक की कल्पना से परे है कि सेना के अधिकारियोँ और सैनिकोँ के बीच किस तरह का पारिवारीक सूत्र बँधा होता है| कहानी का नायक विक्रम अपने परिवार अपनी पत्नी कीर्ति और बेटी मेघा को 26/11 ताज पर हुए हमले मेँ खो देता है| विक्रम 26/11 का प्रत्यक्षदर्शी है| यह कहानी नायक के जीवन मेँ घटित इस घटना के बाद उसके भीतर चलने वाले कोहराम और उसके जीवन मे घटित घटनाओँ के बारे मेँ विस्तार से समझाती है| मूल रुप से पुस्तक अँग्रेजी मे लिखी गयी है| पुस्तक की भाषा बहुत सहज, सरल और निर्बाध गति से बहने वाले गद्य की तरह है, लेखन की शैली पाठक को कहानी के पात्र से जोडे रखती है| …

Fadnavis Years – The Game Changer

The Fadnavis Years charts the rise to political prominence of the youthful, ambitious, current Chief Minister of Maharashtra, and his governance models. It’s by first- time author Ashish Chandorkar, corporate honcho, Puneri via Indore, Calcutta and Chennai, and prolific Twitter user. Geopolitics, historicity, and socio economic pawns align differently in each century or so on Maharashtra’s chessboard, causing unplanned moves across the country. Fadnavis’ elevation was one such move, and Mr. Chandorkar tracks it from his early student days, through an ABVP tenure, to being mentored by Messrs. Mahajan and Munde for the big break. I grew up in a household directly concerned with Cooperative elements in agri processing in UP, and gaps in my personal experience are plugged in by the book. Aashish is in his elements when tracking the Maharashtra Cooperative movement, and the numerous infrastructure projects that Fadnavis actively lobbied for and won for his state. In data dense, cannily crafted sentences, Aashish writes how over 40 years, *active Govt. control replaced a market oriented sugar industry value chain with a politician …