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Posts Tagged ‘Rathore’


Beautiful Country
Sayeda Hameed & Gunjan Veda| Harper Collins| Rs 399

“Sayeda has the ability to make things come alive in a way that government reports festooned with official statistics can never do,” writes deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia in the forward to the book. We agree. This beautifully written book tells the story of the country’s inability to deliver basic human rights and facilities, in a manner that makes you feel as if tremendous achievements have been made. That takes talent. And so we learn that MNREGA, despite its flaws, has provided assured livelihoods; Sarva Shikha Abhiyan, has increased school enrolment; and, the National Rural Health Mission, is reaching out to all. History of the rulers always rings sweet to establishment ears.

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The Maharajas of Bikaner
Rajyashree Kumari Bikaner | Amaryllis| Rs 695

When members of a royal family write books about their kingdom they present their families in glorious aura. This book, written by daughter of Dr Karni Singh, is no different except for one detail, which runs into two chapters at the end of the book. These chapters deal with the drama of succession that rocked the Rathore clan in 2003, in which the royal faction insisted that history of Bikaner would be obliterated if a male successor was not chosen, the rest, including the female members of the royal family, opposed it. “Mercifully,” she writes, “the rights of women are enshrined in the Constitution of India” giving them the right to ancestral property and history. Clearly, it pays to be part of world’s largest democracy.

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The Average Indian Male
Cyrus Broacha | Random House | Rs 199

There are two parts to this book. In author’s own write, “Book One contains letters from various anguished people thirsty for answers, which is interspersed with witty and profound observations from me. Book Two lists my experiences about being around.” In the first part, Cyrus explains why Indian men have thin legs (it’s because they are obsessed with feet and chest); are irritable (it’s all due to short height); and, smile stupidly (when you don’t understand you smile, even Obama does it). The latter half, he tells us why his father wears boxers and he underwear, and why meeting fellow Indians on the street is never a meeting of equals.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 15 April 2012)

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The Two-Second Advantage
How We Succeeded in Anticipating Future – Just Enough

Vivek Ranadive & Kevin Maney | Hachette India | 256 pp, Rs 499

Sometime back, America’s prime retailer, Wal-Mart noticed that certain products, among them, pre-    baked toaster pastries made by Kellogg flew off the shelves just before a hurricane hit a region. Armed with this information it now regularly rushes these snacks to the stores in the hurricane’s path. The authors, Vivek Ranadive and Kevin Maney, call this ‘the two-second advantage’. Most people, they argue, can be divided into two types – those born with natural talent and those that hone their skills over time. The two represent how our brain works, an area that is being studied and co-opted by neuroscientists to develop predictive technology in areas as diverse as google search, increasing wine production to managing GPS based traffic snarls. Enterprises need to seize this advantage, even if it violates privacy issues. After all, hasn’t the use of surveillance cameras, mobiles and other tech solutions made our neighbourhoods and countries safer, they ask? Not all may agree.

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Silent Scream
Kishin R Wadhwaney |Siddharth Publications| 172 pp, Rs 400

Veteran cricket journalist, KR Wadhwaney takes on Ruchira Girhotra case to highlight “the over all sexual morality obtaining in the country.” Sadly, Wadhwaney makes no attempt to study how people in position of power sexually exploit young sporting talent in India. Instead, he focuses on retelling the sordid Ruchira saga while making not so charitable remarks about modern women. He notes that today’s woman is no longer symbol of ‘Sati-Savitri’ and that she’s more readily inclined towards pre-marital sex than a boy is. By dropping her guard, he argues, women invite trouble and pain. Today a woman, “Enjoys freedom of speech, dress and actions but all this should not be at the expense of safety, morality and chastity.”His empathy towards Ruchira and how the case unfolded, including how former Haryana IGP SP Singh Rathore exploited the political, bureaucratic and judicial system to serve his ends, however, saves the book from dissolving into a rant on modern day mores.

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The Turning Point
516 pp,
Rs 499

The Web of Life
320 pp, Rs 399

The Hidden Connections
272 pp, Rs 399

Fritjof Capra | Harper Collins India

When ‘The Turning Point’ was first published in 1982, Fritjof Capra was basking in the limelight of ‘Tao of Physics’ – a seminal book on how scientific ideas merge with mysticism. With ‘The Turning Point’ he examined how important areas of contemporary life including medicine, psychology, economics, political science and ecology would inevitable guide modern day science. Then came ‘Web of Life’ and ‘The Hidden Connections’ where Capra discarded the thinking of Descartes and Newton, in favour of a more holistic, ecological view. His radical synthesis of scientific theories including Gaia theory and chaos theory paved way for an extraordinary new foundation for ecological policies that would allow us to build and sustain communities without diminishing opportunities for future generations. Ever relevant, the reissue of his work in paperback by Harper Collins comes as a pleasant surprise. It’s a pity though that all three books have been reprinted in a tiny, non-reader friendly, compressed typeface.

(An edited version of these reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 16 October 2011)

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