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Books
Wisdom Tree
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Contrary to popular wisdom in India, a new book on Ravana, the 'demon king' in the Ramayana epic, says he ruled a rich and vast kingdom in ancient Sri Lanka, wrote books and built a maze of underground tunnels to protect his empire.

 
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A courageous, comprehensive and no-holds-barred account, by a veteran journalist, of a 66-year-old nation that is still trying to find its identity and fighting its own demons…

 
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The 30-year-old ethnic conflict in the Sri Lankan state, an essentially Sinhalese majoritarian preserve, and the uncompromising and relentlessly violent Tamil leadership claiming a separate state, Tamil Eelam, on behalf of the Tamil minority of north and east Sri Lanka, culminated with a comprehensive military defeat of the Tamil Tigers at the hands of the Sri Lankan military and paramilitary forces. However, it also turned out to be a terrible example of collective punishment for the Tamil minority. This is the tragedy that the political scientist, former political activist with a strong Marxist-humanist commitment and a Sri Lankan diplomat, who till recently was serving the UN in Geneva and France and UNESCO, analyses with courage and insight. After the British transferred power in 1948 virtually without a freedom struggle being waged against them, the ruling elite, Sinhalese and Tamil, initially adhered to the pluralist model bequeathed by the British based on liberal constitutionalism. However, that did not last long and Sinhala ethno-nationalists, lay and clerical, began to assert a majoritarian Sinhalese-Buddhist identity and ideology that sought to marginalise the Tamils. The adoption of the Sinhala only bill in 1956 as the sole national language literally rendered the hitherto more advanced Tamil intelligentsia illiterate. The moderate Tamil leadership failed to dissuade the majoritarian Sinhalese nationalists to accommodate the legitimate interests and concerns of their group. As a result, disappointment, frustration and despondency spread among the Tamils. The leadership then passed into the hands of extremists, and the Tamil Tigers, led by Velupillai Prabhakaran, emerged in 1976 as the most uncompromising and ruthless protagonists of Tamil separatism and secessionism. Jayatilleka convincingly demonstrates that in the armed conflict that ensued, exclusive ultra-nationalism took up uncompromising positions on both sides. However, whilst the Tigers never relented, the Sri Lankan government on a number of occasions sought a compromise granting autonomy/devolution within a formally unitary state. He especially regards President Ranasinghe Premadasa as the leader who was most forthcoming to accommodate Tamil concerns including those related to the national language. He was pitilessly assassinated by the Tamil Tigers, who rejected all such overtures as their goal was to create a sovereign and independent Tamil Eelam. The Tigers also assassinated Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and several Sri Lankan ministers and politicians including Tamils. The author is at his masterly best when he applies his vast theoretical and conceptual knowledge, including normative political theory, to distinguish a freedom fighter from a terrorist. He defines terrorism as deliberate policy to target innocent civilians. In this regard, the review of Marxist theory and practice associated with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara is especially instructive, because although they resorted to armed struggle they considered it a necessary evil. Prabhakaran made a virtue out of violence and terror and personified that cult.

 
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Book: India's Foreign Policy: A Reader; Edited: Kanti P. Bajpai and Harsh V.Pant

Critical Issues in Indian Politics Series; Publisher: OUP Price: Rs 1095; Pages: 464

 
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Such a massive tome (663 pages) on a country that calls itself India’s only permanent friend in South Asia demands serious attention. Bhutanese scholarship is so rare and scholarship on Bhutan has been so scanty since Michael Aris’s death that Karma Phuntsho’s The History of Bhutan is especially welcome.

 
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India and China have shared historical ties and, as immediate neighbours, have seen many ups and downs in their relations. As a result, bilateral ties between the two countries are not only of concern for the countries in question, but are under the scanner from the other countries in the vicinity as well as the world, as any skirmish between the two has a direct impact not only on the region and the larger geopolitics of the world.

 
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Delhi-based poet Sudeep Sen has been invited to address the Nobel Laureate Week being held in Saint Lucia, a sovereign island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea, in January. Mr. Sen is the first Indian, and the only one thus far from the Asian, Australasian-Pacific, African, South American region, to be chosen for the honour. He will deliver the Derek Walcott Lecture and present his own poetry. Saint Lucia is home to Nobel Laureate and noted playwright Derek Walcott. 

 
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Book: Fountainhead of Jihad Author: Vahid Brown and Don Rassler Publisher: Hachette India Price: Rs 650 Pages: 320
 
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'Imperialists, Nationalists, Democrats: The Collected Essays of Sarvepalli Gopal'  edited by Srinath Raghavan. Permanent Black, 444 pages, Rs 895. Sarvepalli Gopal (1923–2002) was the most respected Indian historian of his time. His biographies of Jawaharlal Nehru and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan remain the finest political portraits written in the country. His writings on Indian history and politics are admired for their flair, elegance, insight and thoroughness. The present book gathers together 30 pieces ranging from analyses of imperialists such as Curzon and Churchill, to nationalists such as Nehru, Gandhi, Ambedkar and Patel, to novelist-democrats such as EM Forster and Rabindranath Tagore.
 
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Samudra Manthan: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific Author: C. Raja Mohan Publisher: OUP Price: Rs 895 Pages: 329

 


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(total 145 results)

Review
 
 
 
 
The first India-China strategic dialogue is to be held on February 22, 2017. This dialogue was proposed during the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in August last year and it was propagated as a new mechanism for a more comprehensive dialogue between the two countries. 
 
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The Islamic State (IS)  and its ideological affiliates  in Pakistan have claimed responsibility for this attack and threatened that this is only the beginning of such an anti-Sufi /Shia  campaign to exterminate the apostate – or ‘non-believer’ writes C Uday Bhaskar for South Asia Monitor.
 
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spotlight image India has vital interests in the Middle East and going by the spurt in political engagements since May 2014, the region is a top priority for Prime Minister Narendra Modi writes Md. Muddassir Quamar for South Asia Monitor
 
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The recent violence that took place in Nagaland against the 33 per cent reservation given to women is not only sad, but it would certainly hurt the holistic development of the entire State. The recent violence that took place in Nagaland against the 33 per cent reservation given to women is not only sad, but it would certainly
 
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Society for Policy Studies in association with India Habitat Centre invites you to a lecture in the Changing Asia Series by Dr.Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President and Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research on Asia: Hope for the Future or Prisoner of the Past?    ...
 
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spotlight image Earlier this week, just after United States President Donald Trump’s top adviser on national security resigned in controversy, a European intelligence official asked a reporter the question on everyone’s mind: “I was hoping you could tell me what’s going on over there [in the US].”
 
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It is high time that Taiwan differentiated its position from Beijing’s claim on South China Sea, writes Namrata Hasija for South Asia Monitor.
 
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At the moment, Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari is able to stop the violence by pushing the Islamists to the vast Sambisa forests of the Borno State At the moment, Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari is able to stop the violence by pushing the Islamists to the vast Sambisa forests of the Borno State
 
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Every year during the budget, many defence and strategic experts start clamouring for a higher budgetary allocation for the defence sector and this year was no different. The allocation of Rs 2.74 lakh crore (excluding defence pensions) is being perceived as “too less”. Every year during the budget, many defence and
 
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India remians the inflexible bête-noir for Pakistan, yet there are few books by Indian authors that have sought to interpret the prodigal neighbour in a holistic, informed and empathetic manner.

 
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The line that Mortimer Durand drew across a small map in 1893 has bled the Pashtun heart ever since. More than a century later both sides of that line remain restless. But the mystery behind what actually happened on 12 November 1893 has never ...

 
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What went wrong for the West in Afghanistan? Why couldn't a global coalition led by the world's preeminent military and economic power defeat "a bunch of farmers in plastic sandals on dirt bikes" in a conflict that outlasted b...

 
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What will be Pakistan's fate? Acts of commission or omission by itself, in/by neighbours, and superpowers far and near have led the nuclear-armed country at a strategic Asian crossroads to emerge as a serious regional and global concern whi...

 
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Some South African generals, allied with the British forces, sought segregation from the enlisted men, all blacks, after being taken prisoners of war. The surprised German commander told them firmly that they would have to share the same quarte...

 
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