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Impact of globalisation on agriculture. A study

Manju Gupta

$img_titleEconomic Liberalisation and Indian Agriculture: A District-Level Study
, GS Bhalla & Gurmail Singh, Sage Publications, Pp 360, Rs 795.00
This book, written by renowned agricultural economist, Prof GS Bhalla and his colleague Prof Gurmail Singh offers insights into the functioning of Indian agriculture under district policy regimes, bringing out its transition from pre-to post-Green Revolution and the deceleration from pre-to post-liberalisation period. It makes an assessment of the performance of crop production, crop diversification and geographical spread of growth over a period of time, ranging from 1962 to 2008. 
The growth and productivity performance of agriculture at the national, regional and district level during the post-reform method is analysed with those of the Green Revolution period. The authors explain that long-term (1962-2008) growth rate of crop production at 2.46 per cent per annum was achieved mainly due to the cropped area and irrigation expansion in the pre-Green Revolution period, adoption of seed-fertiliser-based technology along with irrigation expansion and shifts in the cropping patterns from low value to high value crops in the post-reform period. This pace of growth, however, could not be maintained in the post-reform period. So it declined from 3.17 to 2.77 per cent per annum in almost all the states except for Gujarat, Maharashtra and Jammu & Kashmir. “The slowdown is due to decline in public investment and the failure to make fresh breakthroughs in technology,” the authors claim.  
Thus the main focus of the study is to analyse the changes in the regional patterns of levels and growth of agricultural output at the disaggregated state and district levels in the post-reform period from 1990-93 to 2005-08 as compared with those during the pre-reform period from 1980-83 to 1990-93 as well as with those of the initial period of Green Revolution. This constitutes the major thrust of the first chapter.
The second chapter analyses the spatial pattern of changes in Indian agriculture at the state level, during various periods, as also the growth in the cropped area, output and yield of major corps and the changes in the cropping patterns at the all-India and state levels.
The third chapter analyses the yield levels of all the crops taken together at the disaggregated district level in order to study the problem of spatial variation in agricultural productivity and examines the association between the levels of productivity and use of modern farm inputs at the district level.
Chapter 4 carries a district-level analysis of tfhe spatial patterns of growth. 
Chapter 5 compares the levels and growth of agricultural workers’ productivity at the state and district levels. Besides comparing the spatial patterns of levels and growth, attempt is made to analyse the nature of association between levels and growth of agricultural workers’ productivity and the use of modern inputs. 
Chapter 6 presents the conclusion and recommendations. 
The authors’ advice is that in view of the serious implications as expounded upon in the earlier chapters, policymakers should adopt policies to reverse the trend towards deceleration of agricultural growth and rejuvenating agriculture in different regions of India. 
This is a very subject-specific book meant for agricultural scientists and policymakers.
(Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd, B1/I-1, Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area, Mathura Road, New Delhi–110 044; www.sagepub.in)

Draupadi of Mahabharata or Shruti of 21st century Woman has to fight

Manju Gupta

$img_titleThe Edge of Desire,
Tuhin A Sinha, Hachette India, Pp 321, Rs 195.00
Here comes a novel portraying male chauvinism and how a woman struggles to fight against it. It presents her very moving and touching emotional journey.  The protagonist in the novel is named Shruti Ranjan, who is a former journalist from Delhi and who, after finding her boyfriend in bed with her best friend, moves back to her hometown to live with her parents. They persuade her to move on and get married. She is stunned at this, but one day she receives a call from her boyfriend Abhay saying that he is getting married to Antara, her best friend that she agrees to meet Rohit, an IAS officer. Due to constant pressure from her parents, Shruti succumbs to their suggestion and agrees to an arranged marriage with Rohit, Deputy Commissioner of Kishanganj. This is a small town in Bihar that’s not ruled by the state government but thugs instead and with the local authorities helping them. Shruti gets married and events take place that lead to the most traumatic period in her life. While living with her husband Rohit, she remembers how she had been ditched by Abhay despite living together for five years as soon as both of them had completed a course in Mass Communications. She admits that “living with him I so enjoyed the comfort zone that his company provided that I never realised we were growing apart. We had our differences, some, but by then, my emotional attachment to him was so strong that it didn’t matter what kind of man he really was.”One day she finds that an even takes place which eventually ends in her taking a completely different direction than the one she ever could have imagined. She is brutally raped by a “politically sheltered local goon”. Her attempts at getting justice are crushed by a corrupt and complicit state government. That’s when the charismatic Sharad Malviya, a leading member of the Opposition party, offers an unlikely solution – his party’s ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections.Left with little to choose from, Shruti agrees only to realise that being catapulted to an enviable position of power in an all-man’s world comes at a price. (Hachette Book Publishing India Pvt Ltd, 4th/5th, Floors, Corporate Centre, Plot No. 94, Sector 44, Gurgaon–122003. www.hachetteindia.com)

A gripping study of Shivaji in modern context

Manju Gupta

$img_titleShivaji va Suraj (Hindi),
Anil Madhav Dave, Prabhat Prakashan Pp 231 (HB), Rs 500.00
This book presents the story of the great Maratha warrior, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who was a capable administrator and successful ruler. By helping to build the Hindu society on the foundation of just and able rule, Shivaji has left an indelible mark on India’s history. The book highlights those qualities of Shivaji which made him into a great ruler and speaks of the improvement that his policies brought about in the lives of his people. It is said that a ruler is called a leader on the basis of how successful he is in overcoming all adversity. Since childhood, Shivaji had dreamt of making his country independent. At the young age of 16, he fought his first battle and occupied Torna fort. This gave a boost to his morale and he captured many other forts subsequently. He defeated generals like Afzal Khan and laid the foundation for Maratha rule after working hard to win freedom for the country. With his extraordinary personality, he encouraged ordinary men to do exceptional work as he possessed the ability to judge the inherent talent in a person and assist in development of multifarious skills in him.This book presents a comprehensive account of Shivaji’s life, his style of rule, his ministries, his mode of judging social problems and his views on democratic rule. Shivaji lived for only 36 years and if the time he spent on fighting wars and conquering regimes is taken into account, then his peaceful rule lasted only six years. The remaining 30 years he spent in building the framework for establishing swarajya.Shivaji owned more than 300 forts as the end of his life but not even one fort belonged to his relatives or friends, whereas Aurangzeb had put up his relatives, both close as well as distant, as owners of the forts he had conquered. What is more notable is that while Aurangzeb was proud of his Turkish heritage, Shivaji was proud of his beliefs, tradition and language. The kingdom that he established was not called Konkan or Maratha kingdom; he called it Hindu swarajya. For the maintenance of these forts of which he was very fond, he chalked out five rules and regulations. Moreover, as he spent nearly 70 per cent of his life in these forts, he is known also as the ‘ruler of forts’. Is it any wonder that historian Prof. Sircar had written an article titled ‘The Legacy of Shivaji’ in Modern Review of 10 January 1910, saying, “Each and every item of his entire kingdom, both moveable as well as immoveable, had been preserved with exceptional care, which depicts his serious endeavour to maintain public property.”Another important aspect that the book highlights is Shivaji’s respect for women whom he never dared to trouble even a wee bit. While Adil Shahi, Qutub Shahi or the Mughals captured the women to keep them in their harem or married them temporarily before handing them over to their general and others subordinates, Shivaji ensured that the women prisoners whom he released were sent to their respective homes with respect and honour. The French traveller Francis Bernier has said that Shivaji did not believe in communalism or any narrow-mindedness. Shivaji saw to it that security was provided to all, more so to a Dutch widow and other women in her family when her husband died. He appointed soldiers to keep guard and promised “to ensure that they were allowed to live in peace, free of worry.”Another unusual feature of the book is though incidents from Shivaji’s life and his qualities are stressed upon by giving a detailed account of his life, some very interesting articles on economic, political and social issues of today are interspersed between the texts of Shivaji’s life. (Prabhat Prakashan, 4/19, Asaf Ali Road,, New Delhi-110 002; prabhatbooks@gmail.com)

A debut novel of grit and style

Jayant Patel
$img_titleThe Quest of Gold, Atul Sehgal, Ocean Books Pvt Ltd, Pp 184, Rs 250.00
This is a fiction in which the protagonist is Rajeev Prakash, who is nicknamed Raju by his parents, who hail from a low middle-class family of Delhi. Raju is their youngest child. Both his elder siblings have done well in life while Raju is made of different stuff. He is fiercely independent and adventurous, being invariably dissatisfied with stereotypes. He is turned off by narrow and conservative attitudes and loves being a free bird. For him, life does not mean treading a beaten track as a 16-year old. He completes his schooling and subsequently his college to obtain a Bachelor of Commerce degree. One day he sees an advt in the newspapers on a vacancy in an export house. He approaches the concerned person for a job at this export house called Vishal Overseas as a documentation assistant. Here his routine is hard and strenuous. 
While working here, he becomes a permanent employee and gets to meet an American buyer called Peter Brown. He starts his own business on encouragement from Peter Brown and by the age of 24, Raju is a well-established businessman with an average monthly income which is five times more than that of his professionally qualified elder brother Arun. 
Money changes things and Raju’s style of living undergoes a metamorphosis. Business by now becomes a game of contacts. He gets to know a young girl of 20 called Radhika, who is a cousin of his best friend Anil. Their horoscopes are matched but the priest says that only 13 gunas (traits) match when it should be 16 for approval of a marriage. Raju in his blunt fashion tells the priest, “Panditji, how much donation would you accept to give the proposal the green signal?”  Though shocked at Raju’s bluntness, the priest gives in to the lure of money. Raju realises that “money makes the mare go; whether it has legs or not!” Ultimately Raju and Radhika get married.
This is the story of how determination and sheer hard work help an ambitious and hardworking individual to rise high in life and become a wealthy businessman. But after having realised his childhood ambition of acquiring wealth, he experiences a void within, which wealth cannot fill. He turns to politics to serve the destitute and have-nots, but meets stiff resistance to his plans and actions from the corrupt political and bureaucratic class.                      
(Ocean Books Pvt Ltd, 4/19, Asaf Ali Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi– 110 002; www.ocenanbooks.in)

The amazing double life of an Hamas activist

Jayant Patel
$img_titleSon of Hamas, Mosab Hassan Yousef with Ron Brackin, Jaico Books, Pp 284, Rs 295.00
Before reviewing the book, it may be remembered that after the World War I ended, the Palestinian territories, the national home of the Palestinian people for centuries, fell under the mandate of Great Britain and the British government. With its unusual notion for the area, the British government stated in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, “His Majesty’s Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine a national home for the Jewish people.” Encouraged by the British government, hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants, mostly from Eastern Europe, flooded into Palestinian territories. Clashes between Arabs and Jews were inevitable. Israel became a state in 1948. However, the Palestinian territories remained just that – non-sovereign territories, without a constitution to maintain a semblance of order and the religious law became the highest statutory and everyone was free to interpret and practice the law as he deemed fit. As a result, since then, chaos has ensued.  In this book, we get to know about the life of Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of Sheikh Hassan Youssef, who was a charismatic founding leader of Hamas, internationally recognised as a terrorist organisation responsible for countless suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel. Mosab, the oldest of five brothers and three sisters, was born in Ramallah, a city 10 kms north of Jerusalem. As his father’s eldest son, he was seen as his heir-apparent and became an important part of the Hamas organisation. In this book, the author and the protagonist reveal the amazing double life that Youssef led while trying to prevent the killing of innocents by working with Hamas’ enemies. He decided to accept the Shin Bet approach and became an informant. Since his release from prison in 1997 and till 2007 he worked as an undercover agent for Israel’s security service. (Jaico Publishing House A-2 Jash Chambers, 7-ASir Phirozshah Mehta Road, Fort, Mumbai - 400001; www.jaicobooks.com)

Meditation removes mental fetters

Jayant Patel
$img_titleDaily Meditation on the Divine Spiritual Life, Dr BN Mathur (compiler), Devotees of Swamiji Maharaj, Pp 426, free distribution
In this book, Swamiji Maharaj highlights the importance of meditation and its multifarious benefits in the form of reducing physical and mental strain, improving health and fitness, enhancing sound sleep which is conducive to a positive and optimistic attitude to life, removing mental fetters – negativities; improving relationships and conveying an overall sense of well-being and happiness. According to Swamiji, in the midst of the above-mentioned benefits of meditation, the highest goal is God realisation and that is the focus of all the utterances of Swamiji.Swamiji offers very simple and practical methods of meditation for each of the 31 days in a month and these can be followed even by lay persons. He says that leading a life based on noble principles, one should eliminate one’s negative traits one by one. Adoption of a moderate diet regulates breathing by resorting to pranapan samriti. One needs to sit in solitude as it helps in meditating and reaping rewards in plenty. Swamiji’s mediation has its roots in the Advaita-Vedanta philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya and is reflected in the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti and Sri Aurobindo “as well as the Buddhist forms of meditations, such as Zen and Vipassana.” Incidentally the Buddhists have developed dhyana or zazen with great precision like Swamiji. His technique of mindful respiration (pranapan samriti) is quite like anapanasati as practiced in Buddhist mediation. Swamiji goes beyond formal meditation and advises that meditation should be made a way of life. He emphasises the following points as requisites for a meditative life: •Healthy and simple living•Mindful respiration •Regular practice of solitude•Study of good books and cultivation of noble thoughts•Contemplation and introspection•Conscious renunciation of negative attitudes and vices •Conscious substitution of positive attitudes and virtues•Choiceless awarenessHe chalks out the plan for meditation, food, sleep, exercise, etc. from day one to the thirty-first of the month to explain that overeating, over-indulgence in sensual pleasures, over-activity, tend to weaken and exhaust the body.(GC Garg, 99, Preet Nagar, Ambala City–134 003)

Deep caste conflicts in evangelical firmament

Ashish Joshi

$img_titleGod’s Own Untouchables, Ulahannan Thoppil, Vitasta Publishing Pvt Ltd, Pp 305, Rs 299.00
In this novel, the author, an alumnus of FMS, Delhi and chief editor of Yuva Sabdam, a publication of the Youth Congress in Kottayaam, depicts the story of Bishop-designate Aaron Micah who is elevated to become a bishop even as he replies to a query from the special correspondent of a Malayalam daily if he is a Pulaya, “Yes, I am one as the colour of my skin perhaps testifies but not certainly by my blood that has little to distinguish between.”
A septuagenarian nun, called Sister Thomasina is about to die and sends for Aaron Micah to make her last confession to him. She tells him about her infatuation for a young army man, a Pulaya by caste and who had come to see her when she was a young girl. He agrees to marry her without a dowry and her people are thrilled at this because they were so far unable to get her married due to their inability to give a dowry. It is here that Thomasina’s (who is called Mariachi before becoming a nun) grandfather discovers that the young man who wants to marry his granddaughter is a Pulaya. He gets livid and refuses to agree to the marriage because how can a Syrian Christian marry a Pulaya, who are neo-converts and treated as untouchables in the community.
Thomasina even tells the bishop that the young man’s name was Pathrose. At this the bishop’s curiosity is aroused because he finds that even his father name was same. He decides to pay a visit to his village to find out the true story about such a coincidence – the name Pathrose Micah and his inability to marry Mariachi. 
The proliferation of private education shored up by the charisma of the church and the brand attraction of ‘missionary school’ which elevates the church to a commanding height in the field of education, is no longer so.
(Vitasta Publishing Pvt Ltd., 2/15 Ansari Road, Daryaganj, 
New Delhi–110 002; info@vitastapublishing.com)

Heal your mind to keep fit

Ashish Joshi
$img_titleReverse Your Thoughts, Reverse Your Diseases: Retracing Your Path Back to Health, Anil Bhatnagar, Global Vision Press, Pp 357, Rs 245.00
It has been proved by various studies, particularly in the ancient system of alternative medicine called Ayurveda that any negative thought can trigger a certain emotion which gets translated into a physiological response in our body. Such a response manifests itself in the form of an illness or disease. There is a strong connection between thoughts, emotions and health. The key to unlocking one’s power and health lies in positive affirmations. So to remain healthy, continuously repeat positive and empowering affirmations to spread healing energy through your body, rejuvenate yourself, boost your immune system, strengthen your health and cure any disease you may be suffering from. Here the author cites advantages of positive affirmations, which become the most important steps to changing the physical state of one’s body and improvement of health. To give a chronological review of the book, the first part shows that when we suffer from any illness, we start taking medicines and gradually as days pass, we become dependent on them. We get stuck in the world of medicines whereas the body knows how to heal from within, if only given a chance. We need to take responsibility for our health and examine our will to bounce back to optimum health; doctors and medicines are a poor excuse for not doing so. Nature gives us disease to teach us the lesson we need to learn and that is, we must “correct our inner software – our thoughts, emotions, imagination and beliefs.”The second part of the book shows how to develop emotional awareness and control them. Made up of six chapters, the first three chapters raise awareness about the nature of emotions and the other three discuss proactive, reactive and ‘emotion-specific’ strategies to manage our corrosive emotions.The third part comprises two chapters of which the ninth helps to diagnose the symptoms, emotional causes, metaphysical reasons and affirmations for nearly 150 diseases which are detailed in the last or tenth chapter. It also provides dietary and other suggestions for each of the diseases to help accelerate our journey back to health. It also shows how, when we practice affirmations along with emotional awareness, we can regain our physical health and integrate our spiritual lessons to evolve further. (Global Vision Press, 4855/24, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi–110 002)

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