Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Magic of Thinking Big

The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr.David Schwartz
Review by: ilaxi

Think Big! Mind is a Thought Factory!

"As one thinketh in his heart, so is he" Think big and you'll live big. You'll live big in happiness. You'll live big in accomplishment. Big in income. Big in Friends. Big in respect.Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz is full of promises to turn dreams true! When one starts dreaming, thoughts create action and this is when one realize 'Thinking power' is more effective than one's intelligence! All one need to make another big Resolution is to eliminate the word `Impossible' which is a failure word. "Won't work", "Can't be done", "It's useless", "It's stupid" and such thoughts should never let a person shrug off helpless but instead "I-can-do-better" attitude makes a big difference. The author says, Some people have a belief "You-can't-get-ahead-so-don't-bother-to try' but this is absolutely a lame excuse and if you `Think Big', there is a sure way that lets you climb a few steps grabbing in the moments of opportunities and experiences that come your way. And believe me, I adopted this Magic - Sure stepped me up 'Thinking Big' Dr. Schwartz cover all factors, to sum up:

1.Be likeable. Practice being the kind of person people like. This wins support and put fuel in their success-building program.
2.Be friendly. Take initiative and introduce yourself to others at every opportunity. Scratch out the negative influence from your records.
3.Accept human differences and limitations. All people cannot be perfect. So, don't anticipate perfection and don't criticize. Each person has a right to be different.
4.Tune into `Good Thought Station' Think Positive.
5.Practice conversation generosity. Act like successful person and you are! Encourage others to talk. Let others talk to you about his views, opinions, and accomplishments. Just Ask! In process, you get your own answers to your questions too.
6.Practice courtesy. This makes others feel better and you feel better too.
7.Don't blame others when you receive a setback. This will lose your own determination to face challenges.

Let this be a 'New Year 2005' Resolution!

- Books @

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Hoax : Why Americans are Suckered by White House Lies

HOAX: Why Americans are Suckered by White House Lies
-by Nicholas Von Hoffman
Review by: ilaxi

Satirical and barbed, a distinguished read by the New York Observer columnist and author of several books. Hoax stands out to be a controversial pick as the Author hits on the Bush Administration for its diversionary tactics for invading Iraq.

Nicholas Von Hoffman begins his book with a quote from former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser: "The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves." The Author’s son is currently in Iraq in the United States Army to whom the book is dedicated. Due to his temper tantrums, the author was fired many times by editors and TV Executives and he even lost the Pulitzer prize. Hoax is the hot stepper in the best selling list of post Iraq War Books.

Nicholas Von Hoffman criticizes the Bush Administration and this may hurt the blind patriotic faith of Americans who believes that its government does little wrong than many others. In the beginning chapter ‘The Big Lie’ Von Hoffman speaks of the super rich and power image of America and reveals how the American people have been gulled into cheering for a gigantic hoax by the Bush administration. "It happened because America has manufactured its own reality. A dome has slipped over the country, turning the nation into a unique biosphere, which causes Americans to see, hear, and interpret every event and each happenstance as no other people do. Poisoned by recycled, un-refreshed air, Americans think differently." The Bush Administration invaded Iraq with the terrorism threat hanging on as the world watched over with make belief feel that Saddam is the present ‘Hitler’ and Osama Bin Laden lured in the oblivion. Nicholas confirms Saddam as the butcher of Baghdad and was a ruthless dictator responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iranians, during the Iran-Iraq war, Kurds, and the random butchering of Iraqis whom he suspected as enemies of the Baath regime. Von Hoffman says that America’s mission to curb the Islamic world and bring terrorism to its knees has proven unsuccessful inspite of its so-called victories over Afghanistan and Iraq. The US Government reputation shatters in the eyes of International community and even Tony Blair, the British PM’s political future hangs in the balance. Von Hoffman says, “US coalition is busy converting Iraq into a "free world, "Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda still remain at large” and this is so very true and raise questions to Bush Administration. American vision gets blurred as citizens get trapped into white lies and belief ‘We are right, you are wrong’.

A saying goes ‘you can fool some people some time but you can’t fool all people all the time’ and perfectly this applies to Bush Administration and the US. Blunt, bold and outspoken, Von Hoffman the Author/journalist is well informed and has presented a Book that sure is a great Pick and if you have been reading M.J.Akbar’s Bylines, you will definitely find a similarity to many topics covered up in the Hoax.

-If you've read the Book, Send your Review.

Saturday, November 20, 2004


BIAS by Bernard Goldberg
Review by
  • ilaxi

  • An Emmy Award Winner, CBS Reporter Bernard Goldberg has come forward to expose how liberal Bias pervades the mainstream media. Think! Media are biased? Conservatives have been crying foul for years but here, Bernard reveals bare truths.

    Bernard Goldberg, narrates his Liberally biased outbursts of the very secrets of the television network media. Bias is bottomless Intellectual corruption revealed by fearless and courageous reporter. Goldberg has revealed the blunt truth, inside scoop of stories and dared to come forward to portray how liberal Bias infuse bias reporting in network television and trigger hindrance to reporting facts. Issues ranging from homelessness to aids, reporters are going over the misinformation of pressure groups they favor, to the harm of honest reporting. Fairness, balanced and integrity disappeared with changing times in network television. There has been one-sided nature of reporting of the news coverage tilting to the left as Goldberg mentions; which is close minded and journalists honesty have become pawn to liberal opinion. Goldberg tried to voice his say from post to pillar but his critics considered him a disgruntled Reporter and his bitterness with the management made him write the WSJ op-ed story that ruined his career! The television news business is far different from the media print world and far often the primary objective is overlooked with bias reporting in television network. Political correctness in network television creates a sensation ahead of the facts and enthusiasm of the reporters mis-fires the message, often misleading the viewers to create waves over the issue. An example is the Riots of Gujarat, the whole print and television media journalists focused on the one major issue and harp over the incidents to raise the heat of news reporting. Balance reporting fell out of gear and the news that shoot and create waves chart to the top and the biggest scoop story of the time would probably not be heard in the evening news. The bias really affect on how people view to see the world! Goldberg's CBS reporting experience made him opine his voice boldly about the truth that pervade the business and his trials led him to pen down Bias with the opening harsh critics of Dan Rathar who regards criticism of liberal bias as disloyalty and after working in network news for 30 years as CBS reporter Goldberg comes out with Bias with names, quotes, reports n facts. Certainly a pick and a concern for every Journalist in network television or print media, Bias by Bernard Goldberg would turn a new leaf in reporting facts.

    Another Great Pick of the same author who lives in Miami, Florida is 'Arrogance' - Rescuing America from Media Elite.

    If you've read this book, why not share your review in comments?

    Wednesday, November 17, 2004


    Germs by Judith Miller
    Review by:
  • ilaxi

  • Bio Terrorism becomes a Nightmare, Indeed!

    A frightening and unforgettable narrative of cutting-edge science and spy craft. In the groundbreaking investigation journalism, Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg, and William Broad of The New York Times uncover the truth about biological weapons and show why bio-warfare and bio-terrorism are fast becoming our worst national nightmare. Germs shows why advances in biology and the spread of germ weapons expertise to such countries as Iran, Iraq, and North Korea could make germs the weapon of the twenty-first century. Germs sprayed in shopping malls, bombs that let scars in battlefields, plague spread in Times Square and all is a common man's hydrogen bombs, hideous weapons of mass destruction that can be made in a simple laboratory.

    There are some startling revelations found in the Book Germs and these shows bio-warriors, past and present at their trade. There is the American scientist who devoted his professional life to perfecting biological weapons, and the Nobel laureate who helped pioneer the new biology of genetically modified germs and is now trying to stop its misuse. The Germs focus on former Soviet scientists who made enough plague, smallpox, and anthrax to kill everyone on Earth and whose expertise is now in great demand by terrorists, rogue states, and legitimate research labs alike. Germs shows how a small group of scientists and senior officials persuaded President Bill Clinton to launch a controversial multibillion-dollar program to detect a germ attack on U.S. soil and to aid its victims, a program that, so far, is struggling to provide real protection. Its Terrorism everywhere! The world combats to fight the fury of man man weapons leading to endless destruction and violence.

    While America Sleeps

    While America Sleeps by Donald Kagan
    Review by:
  • ilaxi

  • A Book by Donald Kagan is the perception of self delusion, military weakness and threat to peace today. As said by Wall Street Journal "They have produced a riveting piece of diplomatic history with lessons for the present, but their method harks back to an earlier age, when historians wrote with an ideological purpose.At a time when neither political party seems quite certain about America's role in the world, a case worth taking seriously." While America Sleeps" is an engaging, insightful work of comparative history. Using Great Britain between the wars as a point of comparison for the US today, the authors outline the great dangers faced as a nation. The book refers that US has taken a huge "peace dividend" and gutted it's military since the end of the Cold War. Furthermore, US foreign policy has been consistently erratic, misguided and timid over the same period. It has well known examples like Iraq, North Korea and the Balkans, the authors illustrate how the US has failed to make a strong stand when confronted with aggression. Furthermore, when a stand is made, it is usually ineffective and half-hearted.
    Bush administration had many of the right ideas about the role of a lone superpower, but failed to implement them. This was due largely to a failure to educate the public, and a lingering "Vietnam Syndrome" that continues to plague the military. They go on to lambast the Clinton administration for both failing to understand the dynamic of global relations, and for utterly misapplying military force. The book is a thought-provoking treatise on the role of military power in foreign policy and authors' foreshadowing of impending doom, challenge the lack of will in political leaders and controversially disturbing warning against over reliance on air power and technological superiority.

    Monday, November 01, 2004

    Indian Muslims:Where have they gone Wrong?

    Indian Muslims:Where have they gone Wrong?

    Indian Muslims

    The Book sparkles experiences of Indian Muslims-Individually & collectively. He has used the image of a prism for Ghalib and a mirror for Akbar Allahabadi.

    "Paamal hain magar hain sabit kadam wafa main
    Hum misl-e-sang-e-dar kay is aastaan par hain"
    (Through crushed, we are firm in our loyalty;
    we are like a rock at the threshold of our country.)

    Muslims in the Mughal rule, despite being away from the power centres such as Agra and Delhi, never considered themselves as a minority despite being less in numbers. That was because they were empowered. Indian muslims must redefine their status.Indian Muslims went into despair after 1857 and are yet to come out of it. They must change their attitude and should enter into a struggle for empowerment.

    At the launch of the Book in September, Goolam Vahanvati asked Muslims to join the national mainstream. I think, it’s a canard that has been there for too long and we must discard with it. We are mainstream, we are not living outside it!!

    Lately, Population statistics, and particularly the alleged "leap" in the Muslim population of India, have entered the public discourse. When I asked Dr.Saheb whether family planning was unIslamic. He said,"There was absolutely no justification for such a claim in either the Holy Quran or in the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet)". He pointed out that every single Muslim country, including Saudi Arabia, had signed the United Nations charter on population control.

    - Read More

    Thursday, October 28, 2004

    M.J.Akbar's Books & Reviews: Nehru-The Making of India

    M.J. Akbar's Books & Reviews : Nehru-The Making of India


    Amazon Reviewers Say:
    Great Book:This is not only a great book about Nehru, but gives an excellent explanation of historical events that shaped Nehru's life. The reasons behind the events are explained very well. A must read, if you are interested in Jawharlal Nehru.

    Accurate Portrayal of a Great Freedom Fighter: A refreshing comprehensive biography by one of the formost scholars in India about one of India's great freedom fighters. If one wants to avoid orientalist lies such as Stanley Wolperts biography, then MJ Akbar's book is for you.

    Excellent Biography: Akbar's book is one that captures the gist of this great man's life and it is a joy to read.

    This books has been published in the centennial year of Jawaharlal Nehru's birth, this massive biography of India's first prime minister Nehru.Critics have charged Nehru with a loss of nerve in 1947, when he rejected Gandhi's stance of "no freedom without unity," It is that Nehru agreed to the partition of India and Pakistan because he was convinced that Muhammad Ali Jinnah, chief Muslim separatist, was capable of setting a torch to the whole subcontinent. Jinnah, pushed for partition in order to further his own political ambitions. The book also reveals glimpses of Churchill's vicious hatred of Indians, his unholy alliance with Jinnah and the famine the British did little to alleviate in the early 1940s. It's the biography of Jawaharlal Nehru with the history of the Indian Independence Movement from 1890 to 1948. It focus on relationships between the British and Jinnah's Muslim League and a read to know the Facts!

    Wednesday, October 20, 2004

    M.J. Akbar's Books & Reviews: India:The Siege Within

    M.J. Akbar's Books & Reviews: India: The Siege Within

    Traces the history of India since the Partition in 1947, and analyzes the current political situation and India's future : Synopsis

    India: The Siege Within is the account of achievements of India’s secular democracy as well as its vulnerability and failures. I've elaborated the origins and nature of the strains on Indian unity which have deep roots in history.

    The name India derives from Indus, the great river born in the Himalayas which sweeps down the north-west on its way to the Arabian Sea. ‘Indus’ itself is a variation of the Sanskrit word sindhu, meaning river. The Oxford English Dictionary. pointing out that King Alfred mentioned India in his manuscripts. notes that the name has, from before the birth of Christ, defined ‘a large country or territory of southern Asia, lying east of the river Indus and south of the Himalaya mountains' In 1947. The British left this large country free but divided And the Indus which gave this land its name was now in the new nation of Pakistan.

    It took more than five decades of struggle, sacrifice and determination to persuade the British to grant Indians their freedom. It took just seven years to create the country called Pakistan;. Before 1940, even the hard— liners in the Muslim leadership used to stress that all they all wanted was coexistence with honour, not a separate country. The idea that Muslims were a separate nation was dismissed as absurd over kind over again by Muslim leaders of all shades of opinion. In December 1915 the man who presided over the Muslim League session, Mazharul Huq, put it succinctly: We are Indian Muslims. These words, "Indian Muslims’’. convey the ideas of our nationality and of our religion ... When a question concerning the welfare of India and of justice to Indians arises. I am not only an Indian. but an Indian alone. an Indian next and an Indian last, an Indian and an Indian alone The famous Mohammad Ali told the first round-table conference. Where God commands I am a Muslim first, a Muslim second and a Muslim last, and nothing but a Muslim . . . But where India is concerned, where India’s freedom is concerned . I am an Indian first, an Indian second, and an Indian last. 'Or to quote the President of the Muslim league in 1931, Khan Sahib Mohammad Abdulla. addressing the 22nd session which commenced on 26 December: At the outset I must frankly state that we claim to be and are as much Indians as any other community in India and are as keen to see our country achieve freedom .. . Troubles really begin when we are accused of Pan Islamism or for planning Muslim rule in India merely because we demand certain safeguards ... I take this opportunity to assure my Hindu brethren that we the Mussalmans belong to Indian soil and that our outlook is essentially Indian... We must strive in unity to develop a common Indian culture and build a happy and progressive Indian nation, which should be composed of all that is best in the varied cultures that have found their way into India. But so long as one community strives for domination over the other and dreams of Hindu or Moslem Raj . . . there is little hope for speedy realization of our legitimate aspirations to become a great. and tree nation.' Pakistan was the dream of but a handful of commited theocrats.

    A strong section of the Muslims remained.In fact,with Gandhi and the nationalist mainstream till the bitter end. The greatest of them was Abul Kalam, whose scholarship in theology enabled him to use the title Maulana and whose spirit was such that he to on the honorific ‘Azad (meaning free). The quintessence of his philosophy was summed up in the moving speech he gave to the Ramgarh session of the Congress it; 1940, where he was elected president of the party in the same week that the Muslim League passed its Pakistan resolution in Lahore: I cannot quarrel with my own convictions: I cannot stifle my own conscience ... I am a Mussalman and am proud of the fact. Islam’s splendid tradition of 1,300 years Is my Inheritance. The spirit of Islam guides and helps me forward. lam proud of being an Indian. I am part of that indivisible unity that is the Indian nationality. I am indispensable to this noble edifice and without me this splendid structure of India is incomplete. I am an essential element which has gone to build India. I can never surrender this claim.

    Read the Book & send here your comments!

    -Read More @ M.J.Akbar's Main Blog site

    Sunday, October 17, 2004

    M.J.Akbar's Books & Reviews: Kashmir Behind the Vale


    This book delves deep into the past for the roots of Kashmiriyat, the identity and culture that has blossomed within the ring of mountains for thousands of years.Kashmir lies at the edge of India’s borders and at the heart of India’s consciousness. It is not geography that is the issue; Kashmir also guards the frontiers of ideology. If there was a glow of hope in the deepening shadows of a bitter partition, then it was Kashmir, whose people consciously rejected the false patriotism of fundamentalism and made common cause with secular India instead of theocratic Pakistan. Kashmir was, as Sheikh Abdullah said and Jawaharlal Nehru believed, a stabilising force for India. Why has that harmony disintegrated? Why has the promise been stained by the blood of rebellion? The Book shows Kashmir’s struggle in the century to first free itself from feudal oppression and then enter the world of modern India in 1947. Placing the mistakes and triumphs of those early, formative years in the perspective of history, the book says how the 1980s have opened the way for Kashmir’s hitherto marginalised secessionists. Both victory and defeat have their lessons; to forget either is to destablise the future. Kashmir and the mother country are inextricably linked. India cannot afford to be defeated in her Kashmir.

    Friday, October 15, 2004

    M.J. Akbar's Books & Reviews: Riot After Riot


    Earlier, I visited numerous riot- torn cities , towns and villages -Jamshedpur, Moradabad, Sarthupur, Meerut- to discover what lay behind the outbreaks of communal and caste violence that have taken place in India after Partition . In riot after riot, I pen down my findings that the basic cause for the communal frenzy is the same: poverty , economic deprivation and a history which has been perverted and misused by religious zealots.

    Here is a chapter from Riot After Riot:

    Riot After Riot

    Have you ever heard the silence of a city? Curfew time is five o’ clock but long before that the silence has been building up. The city stopped roaring on 11 April 1979, but now as the sun enters the last quarter of its daily journey even the half-raised voices of the morning have hushed. The daylight is strong still. A cat drops quickly from a parapet onto Masjid Road and the eye, in reflex, catches the soundless movement for nothing else stirs, nothing else moves, there is no one on the street. Our car moves on, a window quickly shuts, soundlessly. Even the huge, squat, serried factory structures that fill the skyline of Jamshedpur seem afraid of making any noise. Dogs, scampering in the rubble of destruction, do not bark so much as whimper. The one sound that follows us is of the police; they are present at each street corner, neat and deadly guns in their hands, each picket with a plainclothes magistrate, and each picket stopping our car to check our curfew passes : the bold “Press” signs taped on the car are not sufficient proof of our innocence, and rightly so: stranger things are happening here than gun-running by fake journalists. A Muslim was nabbed carrying weapons in a Marwari’s car; traders have no religion, as we have all heard, particularly traders in illegal arms. Chickens, owned by nobody now, are wandering about busily in deserted, broken, burnt and looted homes. Jagged bricks pockmark both sides of the road, bricks which are witnesses, weapons and finally victims of battle. A single slipper lies in the middle of the street. A lone cyclist, a Sikh, passes us, stares at us; he is on his way from work. The street lights are on; they have been on for the last few days as no one, in fear, has gone to switch them off; they become a little more noticeable in the gradually weakening sunlight, as dusk seeps towards this silent city. From the boundary walls of Agrico factory, Rajesh Khanna and Rekha promise Prem Bandhan. A bunch of crows sits on a speedbreaker; as our car nears, the crows trot off together, literally trot off. Now to less deserted streets; or seemingly less deserted — the shops and signs on either side make this street less forlorn. But in the shadows there is movement; beggars, without a home, stuck against the drawn shutters of the shops, wearing black rags, staring at the empty roads. Beggars and guardians of the law and a handful of journalists; that is all that moves in a curfew.

    There is curfew too in the narrower lanes of Jugsalai, the business centre of the city, but here there are signs of life. This is where the merchants live and earn, and they are spending these unproductive evenings chatting on the verandahs, looking at the streets. It is getting dark now, and our car winds through lanes and bylanes in search of mood and battlefields. At one turn a loud ‘Halt’ stops us abruptly. Police scamper down from a rooftop. We are on the border of a Muslim area. The officer of the law is sceptical about our verbal assurances. He demands to see our curfew passes, and is not totally convinced by them. S. P. Singh, the editor of Ravivar is in our car. The policeman looks hard at S. P. Singh who wears a beard; ‘Are you S. P. Singh?’ he asks, and his voice has disbelief in every syllable. The editor of Ravivar has to show his identity card with his photograph to prove his point, and then the policeman almost reluctantly gives us back our curfew passes. We are two Muslims and two Hindus (purely by chance) in the car, and the two Hindus both wear beards that would do a Muslim proud. The picket thinks we are carrying arms for the Muslims. And in case we have any doubt that their attentions are only routine, one of them calls out as we depart: ‘I hope there is nothing lethal in the boot’.

    Law and order have two enemies: the Full Truth and the Complete Lie. When people realize the truth, they start revolutions. When they are fed lies they begin meaningless riots. Lies are the staple of every communal disturbance. They are spread by people who have a stake in this stupid violence, who have something to gain out of impoverished Hindus and Muslims fighting each other. Businessmen, traders, politicians, goondas, leaders of ‘cultural organizations’(like the Hindu Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh —RSS) feed the people with lies, watch these lies become convictions in people’s hearts, watch the passions build up, and then these leaders actually set up the events which will provoke a conflagration. They simply stick a pin into the nerves of people, and it is only a matter of time before the people explode. Then, when the first round of violence is over, when the initial steam has been let oft the lies keep on circulating. The people must not realize that they have been fooled or they will tear down their false heroes. There is fuel already in the murky events that make up communal violence, and upon this more lies are heaped and spread. After all, if the Hindu and Muslim live in peace, how will the RSS find another convert? How will the trader sell arms? How will a shopkeeper have the pleasure of seeing a rival’s shop burn down? How will the goonda loot? How will the communalist kill a fellow human being? Keep the lies floating friends!

    - If you feel interested Buy Here

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    M.J. AKBAR'S BOOKS & REVIEWS-Shade of Swords



    Blending world history over 15 centuries
    -By Robin Elsham (Reuters)

    Once it lands in your book store, spare a moment to leaf through The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the conflict between Islam & Christianity. Despite its unwieldy sub-title, the book has several excellent chapters on the conflict between Muslims and Hindus in South Asia, now a major flashpoint in this complex battle.In the crowded category of works on the historical forces behind September 11, Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, this book stands out. It’s one of the few not written by an instant expert on the conflict, nor, more significantly, by a Westerner.

    Its author is M.J. Akbar, who brings two special qualities to the task of explaining the origins of a conflict which started long before September 11, and now threatens to escalate into nuclear war between India and Pakistan.First, Akbar is a Muslim scholar, infusing his account of the ancient origins of jihad - and its convoluted re-emergence - with an understanding of its power over Muslims the world over.
    "The power of jihad pervades the mind and soul of Islam," he writes. "The mind is where the current battle will be fought, and this is why it will be a long war.

    Secondly, Akbar writes well, turning what in fact is an immense work of scholarship - blending world history over 15 centuries, Islamic theology and a trenchant analysis of current geo-political tensions - into a page turner."The Shade of Swords has done the impossible for this Westerner who, like far too many in Washington, did not know enough about the far too complicated Islamic world, Pulitzer-prize-winning writer Seymour Hersh wrote in a review. "M.J. Akbar has produced an innovative and lucid history of ideology, idolatry, vitriol and violence that is amazingly well written..."Akbar writes with a flair that already has won him acclaim.

    Born in Kolkata, at 51, he is one of India’s most distinguished journalists, founder and editor-in-chief of The Asian Age newspaper and author of two previous books.The New York Times called his 1989 book, Nehru: The Making of India, "a brilliant portrait." The Sunday Times praised his other book, India: The Siege Within, as "the best and most accessible explanation of the new Indian crisis."In The Shade of Swords, Akbar blends that trademark scholarship with a novelist’s story-telling power as he analyses the spread of fundamentalist fervour in the Islamic world.The book was chosen as book of the month for June by Blackwells, one of Britain’s largest book store chains.A Dutch edition is in the works, and negotiations for translation into other languages are planned, according to Roli Books, the publisher in India where it was first released. Roli Books Pvt Ltd, the book’s Indian publisher, says 14,000 copies have been sold in India so far, and the book is into its fourth edition.The Shade of Swords charts the evolution of jihad from the very beginning of the Islamic faith in the seventh century, when a group of 300 Muslims defeated a vastly better-equipped army three times its size. The Battle of Badr spawned jihad, a concept of heroic defence of the faith.Jihad "is not an invitation to kill; it is an invitation to die," Akbar writes in the introduction. "Peace is the avowed aim of Islam, but from time to time Islam also demands the blood of the faithful in defence of the faith. This is jihad."In an interview before leaving for the book’s British launch, Akbar said he had decided to write the book more than a decade ago, prompted by the rapid re-emergence of Islam he observed during a Central Asian trip soon after the Soviet Union collapsed.An essay he wrote then is depressingly prophetic now. "The West’s next confrontation is definitely going to come from the Muslim world. It is in the sweep of Islamic nations from the Maghreb to Pakistan that the struggle for a new world order will begin."That passage was quoted by Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington in a 1993 article in the US monthly Foreign Affairs, summarising the ideas he developed in his book, The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order.In The Shade of Swords, Akbar describes the appeal of jihad to Muslims living in countries ruled by inept, corrupt or brutal regimes - often propped up by the United States - or in lands where the suppression of Islamic fundamentalism with political aspirations has fuelled theocratic nationalism."The West’s inability to look beyond friendly dictatorships and despots is becoming the biggest problem for the West" by breeding Islamic radicalism, Akbar said.The defeats suffered by Arabs in three wars with Israel, the humiliation and persecution of the Palestinians, and the economic stagnation of many Islamic nations compound Muslims’ feelings of anger and despair. (Reuters)

    'Ink of a Scholar is more holy than the blood of Martyr'
    Blossomsmile ilaxi, Reviewer

    Prophet Mohammed's wisdom 'Ink of a Scholar is more holy than the blood of Martyr' is right said! Great Faith, Great Reveleations, Great Concern, Great Efforts and a 'Bold, Outspoken Voice by MJ, the Shade of Swords traces the roots of Jihad - 'It is not an invitation to kill; it is an invitation to die'. Islamic faith demands in a holy war, the blood of faithful in the defense of their faith and this is Jihad. MJ traces the origins of Jihad, a research of hard work that has a fantastic, gripping story journeying across across centuries and continents, written after the fall of Moscow.

    Saturday, September 18, 2004





    An Intellectual Among Journalists
    - By Sreeram Chaulia (Columnist, Asia Times)
    A review of MJ Akbar’s Byline, Chronicle Books, New Delhi, 2003. ISBN: 81-8028-003-9. Price: 450 Indian Rupees / US$ 9.50. 404 Pages

    MJ Akbar is a legitimate wearer of several hats. Each hat has plumed feathers that keep accumulating over time. As a scribe, he kick-started the current affairs weekly Sunday in the mid-1970s to launch modern magazine journalism in India. In 1982, his Midas touch was lent to another new venture, the newspaper Telegraph aimed at “those who wanted to change India rather than those who had merely inherited it.” In 1994, he founded India’s first global daily Asian Age and remains its much-toasted editor-in-chief today. As a historian, Akbar’s two books on Jawaharlal Nehru and militancy in Islam and Christianity have received critical acclaim and mass readership. As an astute socio-political commentator, he has authored best-selling books on Kashmir, religious minorities and riots in India. As an intellectual among journalists and one-time Member of India’s Parliament, he has also made outstanding contributions to public life and opinion.

    Byline is his sixth full-length book, a collection of short essays and Op-Eds composed over the last decade. Such is the variety and acuity of prose presented here that it is bound to go into many reprints and editions like all MJ Akbar products. So varied is the landscape of themes in Byline that it is impossible to categorise it under one genre. Akbar’s full range of interests, from cinema to limerick to politics to cultural tourism, finds space in this volume.

    Journalism has permitted Akbar global travel. His post-September 11 jaunts to the United States capture the many moods of a shaken superpower. Guardians of the West at airports transform into Cassandras seeing Muslim names on passports. Akbar wonders what reaction is apt when his religion is ground for discriminatory treatment. “Glare back? Grovel? Rage? Try the sniffy is-this-the-America-I-once-knew tactic?” (p.5) Speaking in Arabic or wearing a Muslim skullcap is dangerous, an invitation to tough security. “Right now, Americans cannot tell the difference between Islam and Osama bin Laden.” (p.17) Paradoxically, New York seems to have grown into a kinder and gentler place and the “sudden intimacy-wavelength” is back on the streets.

    Akbar’s sojourn in Turkey unveils little-known trivia. Biblical Noah’s ark landed on Mount Ararat, making the primeval navigator a “naturalised Turkish citizen.” St.Paul, the missionary, came from Adana in southern Turkey and Paris, the son of Priam in Greek mythology was also a Turk. Even Homer, the balladeer, was a Turk, living most of his life in Izmir (Smyrna). Akbar has an uncanny ability to relate India with whichever part he is visiting through obscure facts. The daughter of the last Ottoman Sultan married into the family of the last Nizam of Hyderabad. The wife of Napoleon’s foreign minister, Talleyrand, was an Indian from Calcutta. The Begum of Awadh sought and received refuge in Kathmandu after defeat and expulsion by the British. Bihari workmen in Mauritius speaking pidgin Bhojpuri-French arouse “volcanic emotions” in his heart. Indians in post-apartheid South Africa are wedging themselves above an emerging African middle class by lapping up posh residences.

    In the Arab lands, Akbar dons Islamic historian specs and comments on the “fragrant memory” of Muslim rule over Andalusia that lingers. Spain is “an incessant part of popular consciousness” here, just as the Spanish have constant reminders that Arab Africa is only a few miles of sea away. Nearly 4000 Arabic words have entered Spanish vocabulary and signboards on Spanish highways are written in both Spanish and Arabic, the latter using original phonetics. A parallel influence of the colonised tongue on the former master’s language is Goa, which “continues to live in the Portuguese language.” (p.152)

    Japan startles Akbar with its insularity. No foreign mobile phone works there and he sees “invisible Japanese walls to shut off the rest of the world’s economy from their market.” (p.87) Pakistan appears to be sinking in front of the author’s eyes. “When the civilians looted the country, the army served as a bulwark of reassurance. But if the army fails as well…the fundamentalists are waiting with an answer.” (p.120) Bangladesh under Sheikh Hasina was, in contrast, empowering women with jobs, credit and housing ownership, but the social reform work has now run into rough weather with an Islamist backlash under Khaleda Zia. Kabul, Afghanistan’s battered capital, wears a transient look after the Taliban’s fall. “The present lives uneasily between yesterday’s and tomorrow’s wars.” (p.130) When the next war will start is anyone’s guess.

    France offers mild shocks. In the classroom, cafĂ© and coiffure, “a second French Revolution is taking place. The French are speaking English.” (p.157) The British may have lost their empire, but their lingo still lords over the world. Scotland is subject to a new invasion from the Bangladeshi restaurant selling Indian food. Down south in England, Indian cuisine is a chart-buster. Akbar adventitiously notes the problem of new confidence among British Asians that translates easily into belligerence and aggression.

    Kashmir enthralls Akbar like no other place. In this greenest of valleys, “time becomes a pattern inside a kaleidoscope”, provided Pakistan gives it some respite. Since 1947, the Pakistan army’s strategy has not changed. “Send in troops, call them freedom-fighters and follow this up with a formal war if the ‘freedom-fighters’ fail to bring freedom.” (p.202) Bitterness against India or complaints against Allah will not give Pakistan answers to its profuse internal afflictions.

    Moving to India proper, Akbar wonders what economic liberalisation is doing to the poor. “Indifference to public spending has been converted from an embarrassment into an achievement” by World Bank devotees. Change should not come at the expense of the hungry and democracy has to be a “daily business of incremental benefit” and “an economic fact” that travels in a positive direction for all classes in society. Social inequalities in the name of caste are no less degrading. Akbar quotes the heartless lawgiver Manu, “a man of inferior caste is not set free from slavery; for since that is innate in him, who can take it from him?” (p.211) Caste is a relationship loaded with “implicit violence and explicit cruelty.” Gender violence and “our biased and merciless male-centric culture” (p.385) also come in for some stick.

    In one delightful exercise of counter-factual history, Akbar speculates that Hindu-Muslim amity could have survived on firmer footing had revolutionary nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose remained in Gandhi’s Congress and led the nation after independence. “Hinduism is synonymous with humanism. That is its essence and great liberating quality.” (p.237) Indian culture is “so open and flexible that it permits every outside influence some space with its cavernous folds.” (p.318) Akbar has stern words for those threatening inclusive India. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi ironically deserves the Nishan-i-Pakistan for trying to destroy the idea of an India where every citizen is equal irrespective of her faith.

    On the lighter side, Akbar grieves multiple declines in the gentleman’s game of cricket. If cricket between India and Pakistan is a surrogate for war, Australia uses the sport as an “undeclared part of its struggle for independence from England.” (p.290) English fans continue to taunt Australia as their ‘colony’ populated by ‘rejected felons.’ Money is a germ that is sprouting greed in modern commercial cricket, leading to match fixing and other unimaginable crimes. “Cricket is money, not national pride. If money can work over ground, it can also work underground.” (p.312)

    Akbar’s love for “our India” shines through the book, though never the blind ‘my-country-always-right’ sort. It is “destiny’s draw whether you are born into a generation of peace or a generation of horror…millions of us can be Indians. That is a lottery worth winning.” (p.333) Humbugs who delight in putting India down are given short shrift. “The instant assumption that Indians mess it up all the time invites suspicion.” (p.172)

    The book’s final pages are dedicated to memories of famous personalities and places that are no more. “The present is a flickering illusion, everything lies in the past, for each fraction of time coverts the previous fraction into the past.” (p.367) Akbar recalls a Calcutta that once understood art, loved music and believed in books. With the angel of death going about her business cruelly, he pays homage to a growing list of personal friends-cum-public figures departing untimely. Every death leaves traces of one’s own mortality and impermanence.

    Byline is no-holds-barred, quintessential MJ Akbar. Those who have only read his scholastic works may be startled by his rip-roaring sense of humour and facility with puns. Those who love intellectual journeys along unhindered thought chains must buy a copy straightaway.