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.