Book Watch

An alternate lexicon

AS the title suggests, C. Venkat Krishna's maiden book is more a wordbook than a dictionary. Charting a course that is his own, this chartered accountant-turned-budding lexicographer has picked up 500 words of English at random and explained them without making any attempt whatsoever to arrange them in an alphabetical order.

There appears to be no logic to the arrangement of words. But then Venkat Krishna is of the firm belief that a word by itself provides undiluted pleasure, and stringing them together in sentences distorts their meaning. But conscious as he is that not all his readers will be able to share the joy he derives from English words without some help, Venkat Krishna has sought to explain his "labour of love" to the reader through four essays that punctuate a collection of words.

And in one of these essays on "the lingua franca of the world", Venkat Krishna has come up with a theory that opponents of English - particularly those within the Sangh Parivar - might find curious. For, he finds a similarity between English and Hinduism in the fact that the strength of both lie in their power of assimilation.

In Other Words: An Anti-dictionary Wordbook, C. Venkat Krishna, Cotlak Books, Rs. 150.

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Economics of Indian vintage

REVERTING back to Kautilya's treatise on governance - the Arthashastra - the noted economist, Dr. V. R. Panchamukhi, has used his command over Indology to counter the popular belief that economic thought in India is a Western import.

Keen to see some of the salient features of classical Indian economic thought influence the economic policy of the country, Dr. Panchamukhi has begun by highlighting the fundamental difference between the desi model and Western economic science. While the "rational economic man" forms the basis of the latter, Indian economic thought has a more holistic approach; targeting the material and spiritual aspects of a human being.

Advocating an integrated model of welfare, Dr. Panchamukhi's book makes out a strong case for a value-based society; a sound, transparent and selfless political system and governance; an environment of promoting knowledge and learning; orderliness in social relations; and adoption of a scientific approach for the realisation of optimum welfare.

But aware as the author is of the fact that there can be no divorcing the existing economic model in this world of globalisation, Dr. Panchamukhi has called for evolving new approaches by blending the wisdom of modern economic science with the perceptions of classical Indian thought.

Indian Classical Thoughts on Economic Development and Management, Dr. V. R. Panchamukhi, Bookwell Publications, Rs. 325.

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A case for Sikh symbols

WHY they sport a turban and keep long hair is a question that confronts every member of the Sikh diaspora. While some take the easy way out to melt into the crowd, most prefer to hold on to the traditions that have just entered their Fourth Century.

But it has never been easy for the Sikhs who in places like Manchester have waged legal battles against the host community to retain their traditions. Similarly, a California-based school's objection to Sikh students wearing the kirpan was settled in favour of the community.

With such cases and some letters of NRI sons writing home to their parents seeking an explanation for Sikh symbols serving as a backdrop, Mohinder Singh has picked up a number of articles to explain the symbolism attached to Sikhism. In particular, this book is for the generations born overseas for whom adherence to symbols might prove to be a trying exercise. And given the fact that catching the eye and retaining the interest of Generation Next is a difficult task, the editor of the book has been cautious in his approach.

Sikh Forms and Symbols, Edited by Mohinder Singh, Manohar Publishers, Rs. 350.

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A festering wound

WHEN a solution to the Sri Lankan crisis has defied successive efforts from various quarters over the past decade-and-a-half, it only stands to reason that a journalist who covered it should abstain from any suggestion while chronicling the 17-year-old civil war.

Written during the spurt in violence in April this year, Apratim Mukarji - who reported from Sri Lanka for The Hindustan Times for six years from 1990 - has sought to show how history has been repeating itself over and over again during the past 17 years.

It is one of the bloodiest conflicts of modern times and Mukarji's narrative is pessimistic as he himself has been witness to several abortive attempts by the Lankans to break out of the vicious cycle of sectarian disaffection. At the same time, he is of the view that the Sri Lankan authorities should cash in on the international opinion that has been building up against the Liberation Tigers Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after it was branded a "terrorist group" by the United States.

Into his narrative on the festering wound that is Sri Lanka, Mukarji has woven in criticism of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-led Government's approach to the most recent crisis in the island; particularly, as in his opinion, national interests were sacrificed at the altar of domestic politics.

The War In Sri Lanka: Unending Conflict?, Apratim Mukarji, Har- Anand Publications, Rs. 250.


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