Friday, 4 December 2015

Is democracy working for the Arab World ?

*     It has not been long since the famous Arab spring took place. Much euphoria was created and the entire world was hopeful that the dictators would be thrown out and democracy would bring joy and smile on the million faces. But nothing of that sort happened, nothing positive seems to be happening. In most countries the dictators have been removed leaving behind a political vacuum, turning the strife-torn nations into nurseries for terrorists. Iraq and Libya are examples of the failed western policy.

*    The U.S. invaded Iraq, removed Saddam without having a contingency plan of governance for that country. It resulted in the power struggle amongst the Shias, the Sunnis and the Kurds. The vindictive politics of the Shia rulers added to the misery. The Sunnis who under Saddam had enjoyed the fruits of power were left disillusioned with the present political system. 

*    The situation became perfect for the birth of Islamic State terrorists. The situation in Syria and the U.S.'s short sighted policy and one-point agenda of removing Assad from power proved to be a policy disaster. But the Americans have a history of committing one blunder after another. From Vietnam to Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria to Libya, they have destabilised one nation after another. To fight the Russians in Afghanistan they created the Taliban, which created Al-Qaeda 

*     The rise of the ultra-right, or the conservatives in Turkey and some other countries has poured water over the growth of  liberal democracy in the Muslim world. And tacit support of some countries to the Islamic State has made the world more dangerous than it was ever.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Exodus................ mankind's eternal fate !!!


*    Since the dawn of the civilisation the world has always been at war with itself, resulting into oppression of the minorities and the weak. And the women and children have suffered the most at the hands of the tormentors. Many centuries, it  was Moses who with thousands of Israeltis escaped the tyranny of Ramesses II, making it perhaps the mankind's first exodus. 

*  Sadly the mass migration of people from their homelands still continues in some form or the other, because the human beings, unlike the animals refuse to live in peace and harmony with one another. It's indeed sad when one reads or sees people being driven out of their ancestral homes. Imagine the plight of the sick and old folks thrown out of their homes at gun point.    

*    If today it's Syria, yesterday it was Iraq, and day before yesterday it was Afghanistan. Tomorrow it will be some other war torn country. Wars are fought in every continent, but what wrong the common folks have done to deserve such a fate. 

*      Moses would have thought several centuries ago that he had saved the weak and the underprivileged by taking them out of the clutches of a tyrannical Pharaoh forever, but his soul would now be crying in pain to see the similar conditions existing in every war-torn region. 

*     Exodus is the mankind's eternal fate, because in every century in many countries the tyrants, elected leaders or otherwise continue to unleash the forces of terror on the minorities and the weak, and thus force them to leave their native country and head towards the west. Unfortunately Moses was never reborn and earth has no vacant land where such people could settle down permanently. For them its a sub-standard existence in the adopted country. 

*     Wish Gods have solutions  for their problems !!!!!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The Yazidis.............ethnic cleansing of

                                                                (Photo credit - Joshua project)

                                                                    (Photo credit -

*  The Yazidis are a distinct and independent minority community who have their own religion and culture. They live primarily in the Nineveh Province of Iraq. They are a distinct ethnic group and don’t consider themselves as Kurdish. Since Aug 2014, they have been targeted by the Islamic State, the deadliest militant group hell bent to eliminate non-Islamic minority groups in Iraq and Syria.  

*    The Yazidis live primarily in the present-day Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, and also in significant numbers in Armenia and Georgia. The bulk of the Yazidi population lives in Iraq, where they make up an important minority community. Their emigration has resulted in establishment of large diaspora abroad, mainly in Germany, where more than 100,000 Yazidis live. Some Yazidis also live in Belgium, Denmark, France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia. 

*    In August 2007, about 500 Yazidis were killed in a series of bombings in Qahtaniya. In August 2009, at least 20 people were killed and 30 wounded in a double suicide bombing in northern Iraq. Two suicide bombers carried out attacks at a cafe in Sinjar, west of Mosul. 

*     ISIS which considers the Yazidis devil-worshippers, captured Sinjar in August 2014, forcing about 50,000 Yazidis to flee into the nearby mountains where they face starvation. Their plight initially received international media coverage, leading the western leaders to carry out humanitarian air drops of food and water in the Sinjar Mountain. Limited air strikes against the militants in support of the Yazidis was also carried out but it has not been able to prevent the genocide of the Yazidis out on the Mount Sinjar. 

*    However, the military action by the westerns powers leaves much to be desired. The Yazidis and other minority groups are still being killed and their women taken as sex slaves. What hold the US and its allies to go all out against the Islamic State? I fail to understand!

Monday, 24 August 2015

U Tirot Sing.............India's Unsung Hero.

*      U Tirot Sing, was one of the Khasi chiefs in the 18th century drew his lineage from the Syiemlieh clan. He was Syiem (chief) of Nongkhlaw, part of the Khasi Hills. He shared authority with his council, representatives of leading clans within his territory. He fought against the British to prevent them from taking over control of the Khasi Hills. 

*   The British gained control of the Brahmaputra valley after concluding the Treaty of Yandabo in 1826. They wanted to construct a road through this area to connect Guwahati with Sylhet to save weeks of travel. David Scott, the agent of the British Governor-General for the Northern Territory, found that U Tirot Sing wanted to regain the duars (passes into Assam) in return for the permission for the road project. 

*   But when the news came that the British were deploying forces in Assam, U Tirot Sing convened a Durbar and passed orders for the British to evacuate Nongkhlaw. The British refused and the Khasis attacked the British garrison in Nongkhlaw in April 1829 and killed two British officers thus inviting the British retaliation against U Tirot Sing and other Khasi chiefs. In the Anglo- Khasi Wars the Khasis lacked firearms and fought with swords, shields, bows and arrows. Unable to engage the British in open battle,the Khasis resorted to guerilla warfare that  dragged on for about four years. 

*      U Tirot Sing fought with with native weapons such as a sword and shield. He was shot at by the British and hid in a cave, but was eventually captured by the British in January 1833 and deported to Dhaka. The location of his hiding place was given by a Khasi chief who was bribed with gold coins by the British. He died on 17 July 1835. His death anniversary is commemorated every year as a state holiday in Meghalaya.

*      Only a few Indians outside the North-East know about this great hero of India's freedom struggle. It's high time he gets his due recognition. 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

A Greek tragedy ?


*   Every lover of history and literature today would be feeling the pain and anguish at the economic condition of Greece that 2000 years ago was not only a great economic power but also a great military power which defeated the mighty Persian army, and won a decade-long Trojan war. 

* Greece was the place where a great and mighty civilization flourished for centuries. It gave the future Roman civilization and other civilizations the literature, theatrical culture, drama and democracy. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, the world's two of the greatest books inspired Virgil, Chaucer, Shakespeare and thousands of writers across the world and till date continue to inspire millions of budding writers. The four famous ancient Greek dramatists: Aeschylus, Sophocles, Eurides and Aristophanes inspired the latter day Latin and English dramatists. 

*  The battles of the Thermopylae, the Salamis and the Marathon still inspire and baffle the military leaders. 

*      Greece gave the world the 'Olympics', which today has become the greatest sporting extravaganza. 

*  So much was the power of Greek civilization that Augustus, the Roman emperor had asked Virgil, to write the book linking the Roman lineage to the Trojans. Thus a great book, Aeneid was written. In the ancient times no country could escape the magic of Greece.  

*  Greek mythology and Greek Gods are revered and admired by people of all religions. Every woman aspires to acquire the beauty of a Helen and a Penelope. The millions of girls have been named after them.   

*    The nation that taught the rest of the world how to live deserves a better fate. Greece may not regain the glory it lost two thousand years ago, but she at least deserves to live in dignity.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Rohingyas.........the Landless People

*       The Rohingya people have become the forgotten people. The world leaders and superpowers preoccupied with the Middle-east and the Islamic State terrorists have almost forgotten the persecution of this minority group, thousands of which have perished in the sea, and thousands are seeking asylum in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and other Asian countries.


*       The Rohingyas Muslims are people of Indo-Aryan race from Rakhine state in Burma. Some historians believe they are indigenous to Rakhine, while the others claim they have migrated to Burma from Bengal, primarily during the British rule. After the first Ango-Burmese War in 1826, the British annexed Arakan and encouraged the Muslims from Bengal to work as the farm labourers there. The Muslim then constituted 5% of Arakan's population which in 2015 has shot up to almost 29% in the state. 

*       During the World War II, the state witnesses a series of communal violence after which the region became ethnically polarized. In 1982, General Ne Win’s government enacted the Burmese Nationality Law, which denied the Rohingya Muslims the citizenship. About 735,000 Rohingyas live in Burma, mainly in the northern Rakhine townships, where they are 80–98% of the population. 

Genesis of Problem

*      The British encouraged the Muslims from the adjacent regions to migrate into the then thinly populated and fertile valleys of Arakan as farm labourers. There was no international boundary between Bengal and Arakan and thus no restrictions on migration between the regions. In the early 19th century the Muslims en mass migrated from the Chittagong and settled in Burma seeking work. The impact of immigration was more acute in Arakan, the least populated region. 

*      During World War II, the Japanese forces invaded Burma, then under the British rule. The British forces retreated and as a result communal violence erupted between the Arakanese and the Muslim villagers. The British armed Muslims in northern Arakan to create a buffer zone to protect the region from a Japanese invasion. 

*     At the time of independence movement in India, the Rohingyas in Burma formed a separatist movement to merge the region into East Pakistan. Before the independence of Burma in January 1948, the Muslim leaders from Arakan approached Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and asked for his help in merging Arakan’s Mayu region with Pakistan considering their religious affinity and geographical proximity with East Pakistan. The proposal never materialized since it was turned down by Jinnah saying that he was not in a position to interfere into Burmese matters. 

*      After Jinnah's refusal, the Rohingya elders founded the Mujahid party as a jihad movement in northern Arakan in 1947 with the aim to create an autonomous Muslim state in Arakan. Ne Win carried out military operations against them for over two decades. As a result, many Muslims in the region fled to neighboring Bangladesh as refugees. Rohingya Mujahideens are believed to be still active within the remote areas of Arakan.

Immigration Over the Years

*      The post-war illegal immigration of the Rohingyas into that area was on a vast scale, and in the northern areas they replaced the Arakanese." From 1971 to 1973, saw an exodus of ten million Bengali refugees to neighbouring countries. From 1971 to 1978, a number of Rakhine monks and Buddhists staged hunger strikes in Sittwe to force the government to tackle immigration issues which they believed was causing a demographic shift in the region. Ne Win's government requested UN to repatriate the war refugees and launched military operations which drove off around 200,000 people to Bangladesh. In 1978, the Bangladesh government protested against the Burmese government concerning "the expulsion by force of thousands of Burmese Muslim citizens to Bangladesh." The Burmese government responded that those expelled were Bangladesh citizens who had resided illegally in Burma. In July 1978, after intensive negotiations mediated by UN, Ne Win's government agreed to take back 200,000 refugees who settled in Arakan. In 1982, the Bangladesh Government amended the citizenship law and declared all "Rohingyas" are non-nationals.

The 2012 Rakhine State riots

*       The 2012 Rakhine State riots were a series of conflicts between Rohingya Muslims who are majority in the northern Rakhine and ethnic Rakhines who are majority in the south. Before the riots, there were widespread and strongly held fears circulating among Buddhist Rakhines that they would soon become a minority in their ancestral state. The riots erupted because of gang rape and murder of a Rakhine woman by Rohingyas and killing of ten Burmese Muslims by Rakhines. From both sides, whole villages were "decimated". The government responded by imposing curfews and deploying troops in the region. 

The 2015 Rohingya Refugee Crisis

*        In 2015, to escape systemic violence and persecution from Burma government thousands of Rohingyas migrated from Burma and Bangladesh, collectively dubbed as the 'boat people' by international media. About 25,000 people have taken to boats from January to March in 2015. About hundreds of boat people perished during the journey. An estimated 3000 refugees from Burma and Bangladesh have been rescued or swum to shore and several thousand are believed to remain trapped on boats at sea with little food or water.

*         Bangladesh has become overpopulated and it has failed to provide its citizens with basic needs and therefore, the people are entering illegally into neighbouring countries. It's important that Bangladesh controls its population. This would solve not only its problems but also of other Asian neighbours.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Kausani..............a traveller's delight !!!

*     Kausani is located about 50 km north of Almora in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand in India. There are very few places in the Himalayas that can compare with the beauty of Kausani. This picturesque hill station is famous for its scenic beauty and spectacular 300 km wide panoramic view of the Himalayan peaks like Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchchuli. Kausani lies atop a ridge at an altitude of approx 1900 m in the midst of dense pine trees overlooking the Someshwar valley on one side and the Katyuri valley on the other. The place inspired Mahatma Gandhi so much that he called it the 'Switzerland of India'.



*   The birthplace of the famous Hindi poet, Sumitranandan Pant is a quaint place that draws thousands of people each year. Kausani is travellers’ delight. Ten years ago during the vacation this place inspired me to write a novel, a love story. I can't reveal more than this. In my earlier posts under ‘writing fiction’ I've posted a few excerpts from the book. The place simply sweeps you off your feet.  

*       Who knows? It could inspire you too. So, what are you waiting for. Pack your bags and soak your soul in the tranquillity of the place yourself.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Writing Fiction.....................................

 ............ from inside pages of my book, (yet to be titled).

*        The pines, some greener and softer than others, and one taller than the next, vying for visitors' attention stood resigned to the fact that the holy mountains grabbed all the attention. But they drew comfort from the fact that once a while a few leisure travellers would walk in their midst and sit under their shadow, a writer would gaze at them for hours appreciating their individual and collective beauty; children would pluck their leaves and brush them against their tender cheeks and feel them between their palms. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Train to Tinsukia !

Vinayak Gadgil arrived rather early at Guwahati railway station and he was disappointed to learn that the train to Tinsukia, the farthest town connected by rail in Assam, was running an hour late. There was little he could do. So he picked up the latest novel of John Grisham and sat on a chair in the waiting room. Reaching a place early had been his habit he had acquired since his training days in the Officers’ Training Academy (OTA) at Chennai in south India to avoid those extra duty punishments, which he hated so badly.
          How and why did he join the army when he wasn’t interested in a career in uniform? He had his story. His grandfather, a colonel, had served both in the British and later in the Indian armies, and had fought all three wars with Pakistan. His father, a major, had died on the icy heights of Siachen Glacier foiling the enemy’s attempt to overrun the important post of Bila Fondla on the Soltoro Ranges. He was barely ten years old when he was told that his father had laid down his life fighting for the country in the best traditions of the Dogra Regiment. Those high sounding words of valour and sacrifice had meant little to his juvenile mind. What he understood, though, was that his dotting father would be no more around to play cricket with him and pamper him with ice creams.
          His father’s loss had meant different things to different people, he had learnt later. To his mother it had meant a long and lonely life without the assuring embrace of her loving husband. To his grandfather the loss had been profound more in professional terms. The old man always nourished the dream that his son one day would rise to the rank of a brigadier and command an infantry brigade, his own unfulfilled ambition.

.........(for complete story go to short stories section).............

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Michael's House

One often doesn’t get what one wants in life. Sridhar knew and understood that saying well and therefore he never complained about the raw deal he often got in his job. Though initially he used to grumble a lot, he had given it up soon realizing its futility. And he was happy since the moment he had acquired a positive attitude towards his job and life as a whole.
     His job as a reporter with a reputed news channel was challenging and most importantly, well paying, which had taken care of his financial insecurities. With hardly any worries he had begun enjoying his work, which took to him to places he had never been to or ever dreamt about them in his life. He was often sent on difficult assignments, which other reporters normally avoided. 
       And so when he was asked to report on a Mizo tribe, which called itself one of the lost tribes of the Jews and wished to migrate to their promised land in Israel, he readily accepted the task. For a moment though he too was surprised to learn that such a tribe existed in India, which claimed its antecedent to Jews. As a keen student of history he was hardly able to contain his excitement to find more about them and see some of them in person.  And in his enthusiasm he had glossed over the fact he was being asked to undertake the arduous journey in the northeastern India during the rainy season when everything from the flights to the road journey became uncertain due to the vagaries of the nature.

    (for complete story please go to story section)..........

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Rani Gaidinliu.....................India's Unsung Hero.

* Gaidinliu was born on 26 January 1915 at Longkao village in the present Tousem Sub-division of Tamenglong district in Manipur. She was the fifth of eight children, six sisters and a younger brother. The family belonged to the ruling clan of the village. She did not have a formal education due to the lack of schools in the area. 

* In 1927 at the age of 13, she joined the Heraka movement that aimed to end the British rule and establish the self-rule of the Nagas. It attracted a number of followers from the several Naga tribes. With the arrival of guns from Cachar, it turned into an armed rebellion against the British policies of forced labour and ruthless oppression. In three years by the age of 16, she became a leader of Guerrilla forces fighting against the British rulers. 

* In October 1932, Gaidinliu moved to the Pulomi village, where her followers started building a wooden fortress. While the fortress was under construction, an Assam Rifles contingent headed by Captain MacDonald launched a surprise attack on the village on 17 October 1932. She along with her followers was arrested without any resistance near Kenoma village. She denied that she had any role in the attack on the Hangrum post of the Assam Rifles or the construction of the fort. She was convicted on the charges of murder. She was sentenced to life imprisonment. Most of her associates were either executed or jailed. Nehru met her at the Shillong Jail in 1937, and promised to pursue her release. He gave her the title of ‘Queen’. 

* In 1946, Rani Gaidinliu was released on Nehru's orders from Tura jail, having spent 14 years in various prisons. She continued to work for the upliftment of her people after release. She stayed at Vimrap village of Tuensang till 1952 after which finally moved back to her native village. In 1953, Prime Minister Nehru visited Imphal where Rani Gaidinliu met and conveyed to him the gratitude and goodwill of her people. In 1993, Gaidinliu died on 17 February 1993 at the age of 78. 

* It's indeed a sad tale that people in other parts of country hardly know, or care to know about her.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Honest Politics.............a Pipe dream !

*  The common folks living under the tyranny of 'Democracy' across the world for hundreds of years have been dreaming just one dream; 'Honest Politics' in their countries. Years ago when nations fought the colonialism, dictatorship, autocracy, communism, and other evil forms of governments, the democracy had brought them a ray of hope. 

*     But over the years the democracy has acquired all the evils of other forms of governments, and in some countries it has become worse than the dictatorship. The poor citizens disgusted by the rampant corruption in their nations regularly raise the banner of revolt. Thus are born revolutions.   

*    And out of every revolution emerges the leadership which gives hope of clean and honest politics to millions, but soon after this new leadership assumes power forgets its vows and walks upon the path of its predecessors. 

*    The birth of every revolution gives a new hope to people and its culmination results in a new political dispensation, which also betrays the hopes and aspirations of millions who are left to dream again. 

*     Thus the cycle of hope and betrayal continues............

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Writing Fiction.......


 ............ from inside pages of my book, (yet to be titled).

*     The fiercest battles are not fought on the fertile farmlands, but in the human heartlands, where the battle between the wife and the 'other woman' is one of the oldest and bitterest. Often the fate has been unkind to the wife. Once a while, though, it, taking pity on her, does make her victorious, but the victory always comes at a huge price. In every age, in every nation, in every city, in every street and in every house the wife fights this battle every moment of her life; sometimes with relation's help, but often alone...........

*     Wife had the bone and flesh of her man to contend with, as the 'other woman'  had  walked  away  with  her  man's  heart and soul. Nothing could be a greater  tragedy for the wife than to spend her life with a man whose heart and soul have been robbed by another woman............

Friday, 13 March 2015

Haipou Jadonang........................... India's Unsung Heroes.

*     Haipou Jadonang was the youngest of the three sons of Thindai (father) and Tabonliu (mother) and was born in the year 1905 at Kambiron (Puilon) village in Tamenglong district of Manipur, India. He was one year old when his father died. He organised his people into an effective resistance against the British rule. His movement popularly called the Naga Raj spread like wildfire and engulfed the whole region and further widened its influence to neighbouring areas.

*   The British took action to bring down Jadonang and crush his Naga Raj. The Political Agent of Manipur State arrested Haipou Jadonang on 19th Feb 1931. A month later, he was taken to Imphal and imprisoned in the Imphal Jail as prosecution against him and his followers went on in the court of the Manipur Political Agent.

*  On 29th Aug, he was hanged by the British Government on the banks of the Nambul River. Jadonang dedicated his life to freedom of his people. Outside Manipur, this valiant soldier of Indian freedom movement is hardly known. It's sad commentary that most of freedom fighters like him from little known corners of India go unsung, unread and unremembered. 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

India's Unsung Heroes.................U Kiang Nangbah.

*       U Kiang Nangbah was born at Tpeppale in Jowai, Meghalaya. He was a child when the British had annexed the Jaintia Kingdom in 1835. He was a common farmer. Though young, he was greatly disturbed by the atrocities committed by the British. The story of his uncle, U Ksan Sajar Nangbah, who fought against the British, greatly inspired him. 

*      The British had left the Jaintia people to themselves for more than two decades. The anti-British feelings in him started when the British attempted to impose taxes and interfered with the custom and religious activities of the people. These acts were viewed by the folks as an attempt by the British to impose their authority.

*      In the darbar, Daloi Tyngkaen had informed the people that the British had imposed a House Tax. U Kiang Nangbah gave a befitting reply there, “Natives do not pay taxes to the foreigners”. When the British officials attempted to collect tax from a Jaintia, he refused to pay the tax. Anger by refusal, the British officials entered and ransacked the house. U Kiang Nangbah arrived there and fought against the armed officials. 

*       A police station was established at Jowai in 1855, to establish the government authority over the hills. The setting of police station near the cremation ground was resented by the people. The British administration took additional measures to control the Jaintias. Deputy Commissioner asked the people not to burn the dead near the military outpost. The clans were prevented to cremate in their traditional cremation sites. 

*      The resistance was triggered by the incident that took place at Yalong. On the occasion of traditional dance, ‘Pastieh Kaiksoo’ the police confiscated the weapons meant for the festival and burned them before a large number of people gathered to witness the dance. This forced the Jaintia to rise in arms and protect their land, customs and religion. 

*     In 1860 when a police constable shot dead a monkey in the sacred forest, the government official and missionaries made people to believe that sanctity of the sacred grooves was a superstition. This political and religious interference of the British ignited the fire of mass movement which started with the calling of the Darbar of twelve Dalois to apprise people about the need to resist the alien rule. The Darbar was held at Madiah Kmai Blai on the bank of river Syntu Ksiar where U Kiang Nangbah  was unanimously elected as the leader. 

*     U Kiang Nangbah and his men built barricades, stockades, stored grains and manufactured weapons and firearms. They attacked the Police station at Jowai and destroyed it completely, and burned down Christian settlement and besieged the military post. The attack spread to other part of the Jaintia Hills. The British launched a full scale military operation against U Kiang Nangbah and his men. 

*       Meanwhile U Kiang Nangbah fell ill and retreated to Umkara. On 27th December 1862, Lt. Sadlier led by Long Sutnga captured U Kiang Nangbah in the early hours. He was brought to trial and on 30th December 1862 and hanged at 5.00 P.M. at Yawmusing in the present of troops and villagers.

*     U Kiang Nangbah faced gallows with courage and made his prophetic massage. He told his people, “Brothers and sisters please look carefully on my face when I die. If my face turn towards the east, my country will be free from the foreign yoke within 100 years; if it turns towards the west my country will remain in bondage for good.”  And in less than 100 years, on 15th August 1947 the British had to leave the country making U Kiang Nangbah's prophecy come true. 

*    I chanced upon this tale while researching my novel.  It was one story that filled my heart with sadness and anguish. Like so many, this tale about one of India's greatest patriots goes unsung. What a tragedy?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

A Masterpiece missing from Many Lists.

*     What a tragedy? A masterpiece misses from many lists. 

*     'And Quiet Flows the Don' is arguably one of best books of all times but sadly it doesn't find its deserved place in many  lists. It seems most writers/book lovers who have made those lists, either haven't read it, or have undervalued its worth. 

*   The book depicts the life of the Cossacks living in the Don River  valley during the early 20th century, just prior to World War I. The plot revolves around the Melekhov family of Tatarsk village, descendants of a cossack who had taken a Turkish captive as his wife during the Crimean War. Accused of witchcraft the  superstitious neighbours try to kill her but are fought off by her husband. Their descendants, the son and grandsons often nicknamed "Turks". Nevertheless, they command a high respect amongst the folks  in Tatarsk.

*   The second son, Grigori Melekhov, a promising young soldier falls in love with Aksinia, the wife of Stepan Astakhov, a family friend. Stepan regularly beats his wife. Grigori and Aksinia's romance and elopement raises a feud between her husband and his family. Against the backdrop this romance, the best young Cossacks fight in two of Russia's bloodiest wars. In the battle Grigory saves Stepan's life, but that doesn't end the feud. 

*   No book has so beautifully captured the lives, culture and traditions of the Cossacks living on the banks of the Don river. The Cossacks were a warrior race who contributed immensely to growth of Russia as a military superpower through centuries.

*   It's important that people across the world should read about such a wonderful race.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Afghanistan....the Graveyard of the Foreign Powers

*  A nation perpetually at war with itself. This is the common perception about Afghanistan the world over. 

*    With the exception of the introduction of Islam in 642 AD, it took almost two–centuries to finally embed Islam in Afghanistan, no foreign power has been able to establish a social contract between the central Government in Kabul and villages across the rural heartland. 

*  The reason is that the western powers, who considered Afghanis little less than barbarians, never understood the psyche of the common folks in Afghanistan. The Afghanis through ages have resisted any foreign attempts to bring about change in their social life. Why are they averse to change? this will boggle any human mind.

*   Alexander faced fierce resistance in the Afghan tribal areas and he is said to have commented that Afghanistan is "easy to march into, hard to march out of.” Genghis Khan had applied the most brutal measures during invasion in 1220, but failed.

*    The British forces faced a disaster during withdrawal at the end of the first Anglo-Afghan War (1839-1842). During retreat over the mountain passes outside Kabul, about 4,500 British soldiers and 12,500 civilians died. 

*    During the second Anglo-Afghan War a young British soldier, Winston Churchill fought in the battle. Churchill wrote of British exploits in Afghanistan, as “Financially ruinous, morally wicked."  

* The Russians during their ten-year occupation of Afghanistan learned the lesson the harder way and paid with the lives of thousands of their soldiers. They faced humiliation and defeat before they took the decision to withdraw.  

*   It seems that the foreign powers get trapped by Afghanistan in their quest to improve the social structure in that country, and have a foot in this strategically located nation. 

*    Often the foreign powers suffer from a notion that their choices are correct, and thus invest so much in there. But in the end they leave Afghanistan, empty handed. The fate of the NATO forces doesn't seem to be any different that of their predecessors. 

* Sadly, Afghanistan remains a graveyard for the foreign powers.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Magic of Mikhail Sholokhov..

*    The books describes about the lives and struggles of the Don Cossacks during the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the Russian Civil War. Arguably it is the best book written about the race that has captured the imagination of readers from across the world. It's Sholokhov's masterpiece and he deservedly got the Nobel for this. 

*   Not even Leo Tolstoy, Russia's greatest writer (no offence meant to him and one of my favourite authors) could depict the lives of cossacks better in his book, 'The Cossacks'. I don't wish to spoil your mood by writing more about this classic. 

*     A must read for book lovers......

Thursday, 1 January 2015

A New Year of Challenge !

*     Wishing you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

*      While this year brings hopes and aspirations for millions of us who live in safety of our homes, the year poses a great challenge for thousands of people living in Iraq and Syria where the Islamic State is butchering human beings. The women are being  abused, and then sold. The young boys are forced to join their ranks, and trained to kill.

*    Since the World War II, the innocent civilian population has never been so threatened. What's worrying is that the efforts of the civilized nations so far haven't been able to contain the menace of the Islamic State. 

*     People who are suffering and fighting the atrocities of these newest and cruelest terrorists, deserve our prayers.

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