Pakistan: Moving the Economy Forward Publisher: Lahore School of Economics, 2013 Edited by Rashid Amjad and Shahid Javed Burki
Ishtiaq Ahmed’s interesting book demonstrates how and why a weak and apolitical army evolved into the most powerful institution in Pakistan, virtually having de facto veto power over politics. It also controls Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and formulates its domestic and foreign policies. The circumstances that turned the Pakistan army into one of the most pampered armies in the world and the “custodian of Islam” are interesting. The author has beautifully narrated the story in historical and contemporary perspectives as to how Pakistan has become a Garrison State.
A Sri Lankan constitutional amendment done with Indian backing to devolve autonomy to provinces remains "historically significant and indispensable", says a new book by a well known political scientist from the island nation.
Ishtiaq Ahmed’s latest book is another outstanding piece of scholarship by an erudite scholar. This intellectually stimulating work is an important addition to the corpus of writings on modern and contemporary Pakistan, which by design and default has emerged as a ‘Garrison State’.
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.
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…
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.
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
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.
Title: Bollywood Boom; Author: Roopa Swaminathan; Publisher: Penguin; Price: Rs 399; Pages: 221
Title: Defeat is an Orphan: How Pakistan Lost the Great South Asian War; Author: Myra Macdonald; Publisher: Penguin Random House India; Pages: 328; Price: Rs 599
The story of Afghanistan -- of the war against the Soviets and of terrorism that has gripped the landlocked country ever since -- is in many ways also the story of diplomat Masood Khalili, who motivated his people and led them...
Title: The Golden Legend; Author: Nadeem Aslam; Publisher: Penguin Random House; Pages: 376; Price: Rs 599
Over the Years, a collection of 106 short articles, offers us interesting sidelights on the currents and cross- currents in the public life of India during two distinctive periods: (I) 1987 to 1991 and (II ) 2010 to the present.