Fabian Blog
December 16th, 2017

Book Review: AN UNCERTAIN GLORY

An Uncertain Glory – India And Its Contradictions
by Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen
Penguin Books, London
433 pages; Rs 503 

An Uncertain Glory

Tale of inequality

An Uncertain Glory is an indictment of the Indian state for failing the poor by not addressing the disparities between the privileged class and the rest despite its stated aim.

I found it difficult to put this book down. I read it with a unique mixture of pleasure and pain: pleasure, because the book is a study in lucid writing and public reasoning; pain, on seeing the pathetic picture of the human condition in India that emerged.

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September 12th,2013   category: Book Reviews, Uncategorized   | tags: , , , , , , |    No Comments

Book Review: INDIA’S FOREIGN POLICY

India’s Foreign Policy - Coping with the Changing World
by Muchkund Dubey
Pearson, New Delhi, 2012
306 pages 

India's Foreign Policy

Foreign policy lessons

This book is refreshingly different from what most other retired diplomats have written. There is no sharing of personal experience or boasting of being present on momentous occasions. There is no attempt at esoteric theorising. The author shares with the reader his lucid thoughts on the evolution of India’s foreign policy. He also makes cogent recommendations for action. The title says it all. Is not foreign policy all about how the country copes with the changing world around it and takes care of its interests?

The author is much more than a retired diplomat. After retiring in 1991, he was Professor at the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University for eight years. He is an economist and is quick to spot the economic considerations behind foreign policy decisions.

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August 15th,2013   category: Book Reviews, Uncategorized   | tags: , , , , |    No Comments

Book Review: SAMUDRA MANTHAN

Samudra Manthan: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific
By C. Raja Mohan

On the United States and the strategic rivalry between India and China in the Indo-Pacific region. samudra-manthan

This is an important contribution to strategic literature by an author whose credentials are well known. He invokes ancient mythology to explain what is happening in the Indo-Pacific. “In the Hindu fable of Samudra Manthan, angels and demons churn the ocean in search of an elixir that will give them immortality. Lord Vishnu intervenes at every stage to tilt the long quest in favour of the angels and ensure they emerge victorious in the end. The legend of Samudra Manthan lives again as the United States shapes and is shaped by the rivalry between China and India in the waters of Asia.”
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Book Review: MANAGING INDIA’S NUCLEAR FORCES

Managing India’s Nuclear Forces
by Verghese Koithara
Routledge New Delhi, 2012
294 pages; Rs.795

Managing India's Nuclear Forces

Managing India's Nuclear Forces

VICE-ADMIRAL Verghese Koithara examines, critically and with clinical thoroughness, India’s nuclear doctrine and the management of its nuclear forces. He points out the shortcomings and proposes remedial measures. His style, free from jargon, is a study in plain, robust English. His logic is sharp and he never misses the big picture. India acquired nuclear weapons primarily to take care of its security needs. The political leadership of the day might have wanted to make a political statement or to derive domestic political advantages. But, the primacy of the security consideration cannot be questioned. If the nuclear weapons in India’s possession are to add to its security, it should manage the nuclear forces more rationally and coherently. This is the fundamental message of the book. It should be read by those who are responsible for India’s nuclear policy. The strategic community and the general public interested in security questions will find in it much food for thought. Koithara does not practise circumlocution even for a moment. “For a variety of political and organisational reasons, India is saddled with a nuclear force management system that is seriously inadequate for the work it needs to do,” he writes (emphasis added throughout). The author mentions two reasons for such a state of affairs.
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India’s diplomacy is textual, not contextual

Ambassador K.P. FabianUnderstanding the rationale behind India’s diplomatic decisions is essential for policymakers and citizens alike, so as to take better decisions in the future. Gateway House interviews former Ambassador to Italy, K. P. Fabian, to discuss how India’s assessment of policy values the spoken word over context.

In his book, ‘Diplomacy, Indian Style,’ Fabian writes that “according to Greek mythology, Athena came out of the head of Zeus, fully grown and fully armed. There is a popular notion that India’s foreign policy came out of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s head in a similar fashion. That notion is wrong.”

K. P. Fabian, former Indian Ambassador to Italy, shares his insights with Gateway House’s Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy on how the formulation of India’s foreign policies depends on the written word over circumstances.
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DEVELOPMENT, JUSTICE, AND DEMOCRACY: SOME REFLECTIONS

The Indian ParliamentAs I am writing this essay on the Republic Day 2011, naturally my thoughts wended their way to the Constitution of India adopted on January 26, 1950. Till then King George VI was the head of state of India. India’s ambassadors till that day carried their letters of accreditation from the King. On that day, Dr. Rajendra Prasad took over as President. Therefore, January 26, 1950 completed India’s journey to political independence.

It is important to realize that what was gained in 1947-50 was only political independence. Economic independence was yet not there. Economic independence implies that all Indians can live with dignity, eat well, be literate, afford to send their children to schools where there are good and competent teachers, have access to good and affordable health care, have an adequate income , and, above all, hold their heads high without fear, and proud of their motherland and its position in the comity of nations. In the first half of the twentieth century India’s per capita income grew at 0.1% annually.  We should note, en passant, that per capita income as such is a misleading indicator of the true state of the majority of the people. Yet, it is historically important to take note of the growth rate of income under the British Raj.
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NIXON, INDIRA AND INDIA: Politics and Beyond

Nixon, Indira and India: Politics and Beyond
By Kalayani  Shankar
Macmillan, Delhi , 2010
Pages 443, Rs.445

indira_gandhi_and_richard_nixon-300x222

At a time when India is seen, rightly or wrongly, as intensely  engaged in an effort to get closer and closer to United States, it is useful  read this book by the well- known journalist and author Kalyani Shankar. The principal theme is how Indira Gandhi was crafty enough to outwit Richard Nixon ,himself a superb practitioner  of the wicked  art of real politik, in the context of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan bringing into being Bangladesh. Those of us who are old enough do  have an idea of how Indira Gandhi did it. But Shankar by accessing the declassified US material and using her contacts with some of the major actors, including Henry Kissinger, has given us a  reasonably  comprehensive account of what happened and why it happened the way it happened.
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Book Review: JINNAH AND TILAK: Comrades in the Freedom Struggle

By A.G. Noorani
Oxford University Press, Karachi
Pages 465, Rs. 795 

Comrades in the Freedom Struggle

     The book under review by the eminent scholar- cum- advocate A. G.  Noorani was published in Pakistan and it will attract much attention and debate in India. Noorani’s thesis, argued with formidable skill and compelling documentary support, is that Jinnah started as a secular nationalist. The British considered him one among their most formidable opponents. Gandhi did not treat Jinnah courteously. Jinnah was opposed to Gandhi’s political philosophy and importing of religion into politics. Yet, Jinnah showed remarkable tact and patience and tried hard to work with the Congress till the Hindu fundamentalists in the Congress made it impossible for him to remain there with dignity.
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Book Review : JINNAH : India-Partition Independence

By Jaswant Singh
Rupa and company
Pages 669, Rs. 695

India-Partition Independence

India-Partition Independence

As I completed the enjoyable navigation through the ponderous, pompous, and pontificatory prose of Jaswant Singh, I was reminded of three other famous writers:

Oscar Wilde: The only duty we owe to history is to rewrite it.

Benedetto Croce: All historiography is contemporary historiography.

Voltaire: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

To put the last quotation in context, Voltaire is said to have said this to Helvetius after his book De l’esprit was burned in 1759.That was 30 years before the French Revolution began. One wonders whether Gujarat under Narendra Modi is in a pre-Revolutionary situation.
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A talk about Mahatma Gandhi

gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi Society of Ottawa, 1984. Speech during the symposium held on Monday January 30, 1984 at St. Paul University, Ottawa.

It is singularly appropriate that a symposium on Mahatma Gandhi should take place within the precincts of St. Paul University. Gandhi applied the Sermon on the Mount in a large socio-political setting; perhaps the largest in history as far as application of the Sermon is concerned. The Church departed from the Sermon on the Mount fairly soon after she was accepted by the Roman establishment, and, subsequently, propounded the Doctrine of Just War.
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March 5th,2009   category: Speeches   | tags: , , , , , |    2 Comments

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September 12th, 2013

Book Review: AN UNCERTAIN GLORY


August 15th, 2013

Book Review: INDIA’S FOREIGN POLICY


July 21st, 2013

Book Review: SAMUDRA MANTHAN


May 5th, 2013

Book Review: MANAGING INDIA’S NUCLEAR FORCES


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India’s diplomacy is textual, not contextual


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DEVELOPMENT, JUSTICE, AND DEMOCRACY: SOME REFLECTIONS


November 10th, 2010

NIXON, INDIRA AND INDIA: Politics and Beyond


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Book Review : JINNAH : India-Partition Independence


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