Books

Quotes from The Discovery of India – Jawaharlal Nehru – Part 1

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Cover Page

Chapter 1 – Ahmadnagar Fort

The Past in its Relation to the Present

I suppose I have changed a good deal during these twelve years (between writing his Autobiography and The Discovery of India). I have grown more contemplative. There is perhaps a little more poise and equilibrium, some sense of detachment, a greater calmness of spirit. I am not overcome now to the same extent as I used to be by tragedy or what I conceived to be tragedy. The turmoil and disturbance are less and are more temporary, even though the tragedies have been on a far greater scale.

Is this, I have wondered, the growth of a spirit of resignation, or is it a toughening of the texture? Is it just age and a lessening of vitality and of the passion of life? Or is it due to long periods in prison and life slowly ebbing away, and the thoughts that fill the mind passing through, after a brief stay, leaving only ripples behind? The tortured mind seeks some mechanism of escape, the senses get dulled from the repeated shocks, and a feeling comes over one that so much evil and misfortune shadow the world that a little more or less does not make much difference. There is only one thing that remains to us that cannot be taken away: to act with courage and dignity and to stick to the ideals that have given meaning to life; but that is not the politician’s way.

Someone said the other day: death is the birth right of every person born – a curious way of putting an obvious thing. It is a birthright which nobody has denied or can deny, and which all of us seek to forget and escape so long as we may. And yet there was something novel and attractive about the phrase. Those who complain so bitterly of life have always a way out of it, if they choose. That is always in our power to achieve. If we cannot master life we can at least master death. A pleasing though lessening the feeling of helplessness.

Life’s Philosophy

What was my philosophy of life? I did not know. Some years earlier I would not have been so hesitant. There was a definiteness about my thinking and objectives then which has faded away since. The events of the past few years in India, China, Europe and all over the world have been confusing, upsetting and distressing, and the future has become vague and shadowy and has lost that clearness of outline which it once possessed in my mind.

This doubt and difficulty about fundamental matters did not come in  my way in regard to immediate action, except that it blunted somewhat the sharp edge of that activity. No longer could I function as I did in my younger days, as an arrow flying automatically to the target of my choice, ignoring all else but that target. Yet I functioned for that urge to action was there and a real or imagined coordination of that action with the ideals I held. But a growing distaste for politics as I  saw them seized me and gradually my whole attitude to life seemed to undergo a transformation.

The ideals and objectives of yesterday were still the ideals of today, but they had lost some of their luster and, even as one seemed to go towards them, they lost the shining beauty which had warmed the heart and vitalized the body. Evil triumphed often enough, but what was far worse was the coarsening and distortion of what had seemed so right. Was human nature so essentially bad that it would take ages of training, through suffering and misfortune, before it could behave reasonably and raise man above the creature of lust and violence and deceit that he now was? And, meanwhile, was every effort to change it radically in the present or the near future doomed to failure?

Ends and means: were they tied up inseparably, acting and reacting on each other, the wrong means distorting and sometimes even destroying the end in view? But the right means might well be beyond the capacity of infirm and selfish human nature.

What then was one to do? Not to act was a complete confession of failure and a submission to evil; to act meant often enough a compromise with some form of that evil, with all the untoward consequences that such compromises result in.

*

Some vague or more precise philosophy of life we all have, though most of us accept unthinkingly the general attitude which is characteristic of our generation and environment.

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Reading List for 2014 – India List

Biographies & Autobiographies

  1. Great Soul – Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India
  2. Gandhi Before India – Ramachandra Guha
  3. My Country, My Life – LK Advani
  4. The State of the Nation by Fali S Nariman
  5. Leadership In The Indian Army : Biographies Of Twelve Soldiers First Edition by Maj Gen V K Singh
  6. Walking with Lions: Tales from a Diplomatic Past by K. Natwar Singh
  7. Wings of Fire: An Autobiography – AP J Abdul Kalam
  8. Turning Points: A journey through challenges by A. P. J Abdul Kalam

 

History

  1. India A History Revised and Updated John Keay

 

Ancient

  1. India – A Sacred Geography
  2. The Difficulty of Being Good – Gurcharan Das
  3. A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India by Upinder Singh
  4. A History of the Sikhs 1469-1839 (Volume -1) by Khushwant Singh
  5. The Arthashastra by Kautilya, L. N. Rangarajan, L. N. Rangarajan

 

Medieval

  1. India – A Million Mutinies Now (Vintage International) – V.S. Naipaul
  2. The Agrarian System of Mughal India, 1556-1707 – Irfan Habib
  3. The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple
  4. White Mughals : Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India by William Dalrymple
  5. A History Of The Sikhs 1839-2004 (Volume – 2) by Khushwant Singh
  6. Emperors of the Peacock Throne : The Saga of the Great Mughals by Abraham Eraly

 

Modern

  1. Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity – Akbar Ahmed
  2. The Discovery of India – Jawaharlal Nehru
  3. Indian Summer The Secret History of the End of an Empire
  4. Freedom At Midnight 13 Edition  by Dominique Lapierre, Larry Collins
  5. The History of Assam from Yandabo to Partition by Priyam Goswami
  6. The East India Company: The World’s Most Powerful Corporation by Tirthankar Roy
  7. Economic History Of India, (1857-1947) by Tirthankar Roy
  8. A Tale of Two Revolts: India 1857 and The American Civil War by Gandhi Rajmohan
  9. His Majesty’s Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle against Empire by Sugata Bose

 

Contemporary

  1. Working a Democratic Constitution An Indian Experience by Granville Austin
  2. Our Moon has Blood Clots: The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits by Rahul Pandita
  3. Himalayan Blunder: The angry truth about India’s most crushing military disaster : The Angry Truth about India’s Most Crushing Military Disaster  by J. P. Dalvi, Frank Moraes
  4. The Meadow  – The Kashmir Kidnapping that Changed the Face of Modern Terrorism by Adrian Levy, Cathy Scott Clark

 

India’s International Relations and Security Policies

  1. The Blood Telegram Nixon Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide by Gary J Bass
  2. Pax Indica: India and the World of the 21st Century – Shashi Tharoor
  3. Everyman’s War : Strategy, Security and Terrorism in India  by Raghu Raman, M. K. Narayanan
  4. India at Risk : Mistakes Misadventures and Misconceptions of Security Policy by Jaswant Singh
  5. Everyman’s War : Strategy, Security and Terrorism in India  by Raghu Raman, M. K. Narayanan
  6. The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane – B Raman

 

Contemporary Writings on India

  1. Development as Freedom  Amartya Sen
  2. Why Growth Matters – Jagdish Bhagwati
  3. The Indian Renaissance – India’s Rise After a Thousand Years of Decline – Sanjeev Sanyal
  4. The Siege – 68 Hours Inside The Taj Hotel – Cathy Scott-Clark & Adrian Levy
  5. A Better India: A Better World – N R Narayana Murthy
  6. Imagining India: Ideas For The New Century– Nandan Nilekani
  7. Reimagining India : Unlocking the Potential of Asias Next Superpower by Company, McKinsey
  8. Accidental India: A History of the Nation’s Passage through Crisis and Change by Shankkar Aiyar
  9. The Service Of The State: The Ias Reconsidered by Bhaskar Ghose
  10. Corruption in India: The DNA and the RNA by Bibek Debroy, Laveesh Bhandari

 

A P J Abdul Kalam

  1. India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium [1998.]
  2. Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India [2002]
  3. Mission India [2005]
  4. Target 3 Billion [2011]
  5. My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions [2013]
  6. Squaring the Circle : Seven Steps to Indian Renaissance

 

Ramachandra Guha

  1. The Last Liberal and Other Essays (Permanent Black, 2004)
  2. Makers of Modern India (Viking/Penguin) (Editor, 2010)
  3. Patriots & Partisans (Penguin) (2012)
  4. Gandhi Before India (Penguin) (2013)

 

Shashi Tharoor

  1. Reasons of State (1982)
  2. India: From Midnight to the Millennium (1997)
  3. Nehru: The Invention of India (2003)
  4. Bookless in Baghdad (2005)[84]
  5. The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cell Phone: Reflections on India – The Emerging 21st-Century Power (2007)
  6. India: The Future is Now (2013)

 

Arun Shourie

  1. Worshipping False Gods: Ambedkar and the Facts that Have Been Erased by Arun Shourie
  2. The World of Fatwas Or the Sharia in Action by Arun Shourie
  3. We Must Have No Price And Everyone Must Know That We Have No Price by Arun Shourie
  4. Missionaries in India:Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas by Arun Shourie
  5. Governance and the Sclerosis That Has Set In by Arun Shourie
  6. Are We Deceiving Ourselves Again by Arun Shourie
  7. Where Will All This Take Us? by Arun Shourie
  8. Will The Iron Fence Save a Tree Hollowed by Termites:Defence Imperatives Beyond the Millitary  by Arun Shourie
  9. Self Deception : Indias China Policies Origins, Premises, Lessons  by Arun Shourie

 

Mark Tully

  1. No Full Stops in India – 1992
  2. The Heart of India – 2000
  3. India in Slow Motion – 2003
  4. India’s Unending Journey: Finding balance in a time of change – 2008
Book Review

Reading List for 2014

As the year draws to a close, I recount my first blog  of 2013 where I had listed a few books which I had intended to read.

  1.  A History of South India from Prehistoric Times to the Fall of Vijayanagar – KA Nilakanta Sastri
  2. India Grows at Night: A liberal case for a strong state – Gurcharan Das
  3. India Unbound
  4. India after Gandhi: The history of the world’s largest democracy Ramachandra Guha

 

The above listed books are four of the twenty books I had listed, which I had completed. Despite not reading the other 16, I in fact, managed read a decent number of many other books. It is my bad that I did not list them properly. May be I should I have done it. Rookie mistakes are so annoying! (Read that in Frank Underwood’s voice.)

I have made a list for 2014 – a mixed bag of books dominated by non-fictions . The list is pretty long and I intend finish reading them, because the topics are so interesting. I am going to list them here based on various genres.

2014 – Reading List

Self Development and Human Psychology

  1. Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  2. The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
  3. Gretchen Rubin – The Happiness Project (epub)
  4. The Irrational Bundle – Dan Ariely – Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty
  5. Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell
  6. Daniel Pink -Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
  7. A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers – VS Ramachandran
  8. Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (Paperback) Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein

 

International Relations and World History

  1. The End of History and The Last Man by Francis Fukuyama
  2. The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman
  3. Why Nations Fail – The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty
  4. Forbidden Nation – A History of Taiwan Jonanthan Manthorpe
  5. Liberal Fascism The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning Jonah Goldberg
  6. Glimpses of World History Jawaharlal Nehru
  7. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – William L. Shirer
  8. The World Until Yesterday – What Can We Learn from Traditional Socities – Jared Diamond
  9. Currency Wars – The Making of the Next Global Crisis by James Rickards
  10. Mao’s Great Famine – The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958 – 62 – Frank Dikotter
  11. D- Day The Battle For Normany by Antony Beevor
  12. Lawrence in Arabia, War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East – Scott Anderson
  13. The Darker Nations A People’s History of the Third World- Vijay Prashad
  14. The Revenge of Geography Robert Kaplan
  15. On Liberty – John Stuart Mill
  16. Water for Sale: How Business and the Market Can Resolve the World’s Water Crisis by Fredrik Segerfeldt
  17. China A History (Paperback) by John Keay
  18. The Prabhakaran Saga by S. Murari
  19. Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan by William Dalrymple

 

Must Read Books on International Relations and World History

  1. Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs, and Steel–The Fates of Human Societies
  2. Karl Polanyi – The Great Transformation
  3. The Tragedy of Great Power Politics – John J. Mearsheimer
  4. Man, the State and War – A Theoretical Analysis – Kenneth N Walktz
  5. Perception and Misperception in International Politics by Robert Jervis
  6. Red Capitalism The Fragile Financial Foundation of China’s Extraordinary by Carl E Walter and Fraser J T Howie
  7. Seeing Like a State How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed + James Scott
  8. The Tragedy of Great Power Politics John J Mearsheimer
  9. Unbroken – A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand

 

Specialised History

  1. The Age of Oil: The Mythology, History, and Future of the World’s Most Controversial Resource [Leonardo Maugeri]
  2. Plutonium A History of The World’s Most Dangerous Element
  3. Salt a World History
  4. Spice – Jack Turner
  5. The Prize – The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, & Power by Daniel Yergin
  6. The Emporer of All Maladies – A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  7. The Nothing That Is – A Natural History Of Zero   Robert Kaplan

 

Military, Wars and Conflict

  1. On Killing – The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman
  2. Confronting Tyranny Ancient Lessons for Global Politics Edited by Toivo Koivukoski and David Edward Tabachnick
  3. The Origins of Violence Religion, History and Genocide by John Docker
  4. Dirty Dealing – The Untold Truth About Global Money Laundering, International Crime and Terrorism – Peter Lilley
  5. Terrorism and Global Disorder  Political Violence in the Contemporary World by Adrian Guelke
  6. Enemy Combatants, Terrorism, and Armed Conflicts A Guide to the Issues – Edited by David K. Linnan
  7. The Psychology of Terrorism – John Horgan
  8. The Mind of The Terrorist – The Psychology of Terrorism from the IRA to al-Qaeda

 

Books on Pakistan

  1. Pakistan: A New History Ian Talbot
  2. Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan – M J Akbar
  3. Magnificent Delusions Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding
  4. The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League, and the Demand for Pakistan; by Ayesha Jalal
  5. Jinnah: Creator of Pakistan, by Hector Bolitho
  6. Jinnah of Pakistan, by Stanley Wolpert
  7. Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic identity: the Search for Saladin; by Akbar S. Ahmed
  8. The Idea of Pakistan, by Stephen P. Cohen
  9. The Oxford Companion to Pakistani History Edited by Ayesha Jalal
  10. The Murder of History: A Critique of History Textbooks Used in Pakistan by K.K. Aziz
  11. New Perspectives on Pakistan Visions for the Future Edited, by Saeed Shafqat
  12. The Enigma That is Pakistan : Travel Memoirs from the ‘Land of the Pure’  Shivendra Kumar Singh
  13. Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb  by Feroz Hassan Khan

 

Miscellaneous

  1. Conversations with Myself – Nelson Mandela
  2. Basic Writings of Nietzsche [trans. Kaufmann]
  3. Midnight’s Children
  4. Haruki Murakami – Hear the Wind Sing, Pinball, 1973, A Wild Sheep Chase, Norwegian Wood