Weekend Edition

March 24th, 2017

Kajol avoided the Sun and turned white

March 24th, 2017


Actress Kajol PHOTO/Google & Youtube

Actress Kajol and actor Shah Rukh Khan at a fundraiser in March 2017 PHOTO/Bollywood Life

the white color not only rules our great planet earth
but also forces many to lose their own color’s worth

many people use any means to change the tone skin
then go to great lengths to refute by giving it a spin

it’s their personal life so outsiders should stay out
it’s their pick, let ‘em be happy on their chosen route

but when people seen as role models dislike their hue
the fans/followers will jump on that bandwagon too

this is a world wide phenomenon but not very right
is harmful to millions suffering from complex white

actress Kajol’s dusky/earthy complexion is no more
now you just look at her charming photos of yore

“its not a skin whitening surgery” she claimed
I “stayed out of the sun! [which is to be blamed]”

she should tell South Asians to avoid Sun to become fair
it’ll save millions of dollars and emit the natural flare

B. R. Gowani can be reached at brgowani@hotmail.com

Theresa May wants British people to feel ‘pride’ in the Balfour Declaration. What exactly is there to be proud of?

March 24th, 2017


Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Foreign Office, London, on 6 February 2017 PHOTO/Getty

Balfour initiated a policy of British support for Israel which continues to this very day, to the detriment of the occupied Palestinians of the West Bank and the five million Palestinian refugees living largely in warrens of poverty around the Middle East, including Israeli-besieged Gaza. Surely we should apologise

Theresa May told us that Britain will celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration this summer with “pride”. This was predictable. A British prime minister who would fawn to the head-chopping Arab autocrats of the Gulf in the hope of selling them more missiles – and then hold the hand of the insane new anti-Muslim president of the United States – was bound, I suppose, to feel “pride” in the most mendacious, deceitful and hypocritical document in modern British history.

As a woman who has set her heart against immigrants, it was also inevitable that May would display her most venal characteristics to foreigners – to wealthy Arab potentates, and to an American president whose momentary love of Britain might produce a life-saving post-Brexit trade agreement. It was to an audience of British lobbyists for Israel a couple of months ago that she expressed her “pride” in a century-old declaration which created millions of refugees. But to burnish the 1917 document which promised Britain’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine but which would ultimately create that very refugee population – refugees being the target of her own anti-immigration policies – is little short of iniquitous.

The Balfour Declaration’s intrinsic lie – that while Britain supported a Jewish homeland, nothing would be done “which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” – is matched today by the equally dishonest response of Balfour’s lamentable successor at the Foreign Office. Boris Johnson wrote quite accurately two years ago that the Balfour Declaration was “bizarre”, a “tragicomically incoherent” document, “an exquisite piece of Foreign Office fudgerama”. But in a subsequent visit to Israel, the profit-hunting Mayor of London suddenly discovered that the Balfour Declaration was “a great thing” that “reflected a great tide of history”. No doubt we shall hear more of this same nonsense from Boris Johnson later this year.

Although the Declaration itself has been parsed, de-semanticised, romanticised, decrypted, decried, cursed and adored for 100 years, its fraud is easy to detect: it made two promises which were fundamentally opposed to each other – and thus one of them, to the Arabs (aka “the existing non-Jewish communities”), would be broken. The descendants of these victims, the Palestinian Arabs, are now threatening to sue the British government over this pernicious piece of paper, a hopeless and childish response to history. The Czechs might equally sue the British for Chamberlain’s Munich agreement, which allowed Hitler to destroy their country. The Palestinians would also like an apology – since the British have always found apologies cheaper than law courts. The British have grown used to apologising – for the British empire, for the slave trade, for the Irish famine. So why not for Balfour? Yes, but…. Theresa May needs the Israelis far more than she needs the Palestinians.

Independent for more

How to laugh at God

March 24th, 2017


Michelangelo’s Pietà (1498–1499), Jesus’s dead body on the lap of his mother, Virgin Mary after the Crucifixion in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City State, Italy PHOTO/Wikipedia

Friedrich Nietzsche’s comical perspective of God

It’s hard to know exactly what moment we occupy in regard to the New Atheism and its concomitant backlash. Are we in the backlash of the backlash? Or the backlash of the backlash of the backlash? As Tim Whitmarsh shows in his recent Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World, this debate is about two thousand years old; I don’t propose to resolve it today or tomorrow. I do, however, have a modest suggestion: Instead of riling up ourselves and our antagonists any further, we atheists might direct at least some of our righteousness into good-humored mockery of a perfectly harmless figure whose feelings can’t be hurt: God.

Admittedly, it’s almost impossible not to rile up people on this subject, but short of taking a vow of silence, atheists don’t have much choice. While muzzling ourselves in deference to the sensitivities of believers is not a reasonable expectation, expressing full-blown contempt for those same sensitivities isn’t much better. Might there be a middle path between excessive deference on the one hand and hurtful belligerence on the other? Yes, there is, and Friedrich Nietzsche marked it out in his gloriously intemperate polemic The Antichrist.

Aside from jeering at the cloddishness of his fellow Germans — keeping it in the family, so to speak, while avoiding criticism of other families — Nietzsche mostly left ordinary believers alone. He understood that atheism was and always will be a minority position. He wasn’t seeking converts. For those already persuaded or perhaps sitting on the fence, he offered a savagely funny critique of priestly obscurantism, less as prescription than as description. Nietzsche was no populist. One of the attractions of atheism was that the masses could be counted on to reject it. It’s not one of the more appealing aspects of his philosophy, but the alpine air that he preferred to breathe was for the few, not the many. Nevertheless, the form that religious observance takes is always a matter of public interest, and if that form seems to reduce the human spirit to servitude, a German philosopher — or for that matter, a barroom drunk — has the right to say so. Of course, some of those religious forms do more than reduce the human spirit to servitude: some of them torture and kill people. Then again, secular or atheist forms of power have been known to do the same. Whoever gets the worst of this argument — your atrocities are bigger than my atrocities — it’s rarely worth having in the first place. If you really need to dump on religion, wouldn’t it be wiser to beat up on the safely dead St. Paul, for example, who roused Nietzsche to some of his most inspired ad hominem attacks? While there’s no end of error in Christianity, Nietzsche didn’t waste his time on easy targets like miracles or relics. He went after the guy who, basically, invented the religion. It’s still exhilarating to read his attacks on St. Paul, partly because of his refusal to moderate his scorn into the sort of balanced critique one might expect owed to any important historical figure, let alone a saint:

Paul is the incarnation of a type which is the reverse of that of the Savior; he is the genius in hatred, in the standpoint of hatred, and in the relentless logic of hatred. And alas what did this dysangelist not sacrifice to his hatred! Above all the Savior himself: he nailed him to his cross. Christ’s life, his example, his doctrine and death, the sense and the right of the gospel — not a vestige of all this was left, once this forger, prompted by his hatred, had understood in it only that which could serve his purpose. (Trans. Anthony M. Lucovici.)

The Smart Set for more

The revolution in Russia

March 23rd, 2017


Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) PHOTO/Wikipedia

(This article was published in the Russian-language New York newspaper Novy mir (New World) on March 16 , 1917. It was published in Russian in Trotsky’s 1923 Voina i Revoliutsiia (War and Revolution), Vol 2, pp. 432-434. It is translated here in full for the first time. Editor – World Socialist Web Site)

What is now happening in Russia will go down in history for all time as one of its greatest events. Our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will speak of these days as the beginning of a new epoch in the history of mankind. The Russian proletariat has revolted against the most criminal of regimes, against the most despised of governments. The people of Petrograd have risen up against the most disgraceful and bloodiest of wars. Troops of the capital have assembled under the red banner of rebellion and freedom. The tsarist ministers are under arrest. The ministers of Romanov, the sovereign of old Russia, the organizers of the all-Russian autocracy, have been placed by the people into one of the prisons which until now have opened their iron gates only for champions of the people. This fact alone gives a true evaluation of the events, of their scale and power. The mighty avalanche of the revolution is sweeping ahead—no human force will stop it.

Standing in power, as the telegraph wire announces, is the Provisional Government made up of representatives of the Duma majority, under the chairmanship of Rodzianko. [1] This Provisional Government—the executive committee of the liberal bourgeoisie—neither came to the revolution nor summoned it, nor does it lead it. The Rodziankos and Miliukovs have been raised to power by the first great wave of the revolutionary upsurge. What they fear most of all is drowning in it. After taking the places that had not yet grown cold after the ministers were taken away to solitary prison cells, the leaders of the liberal bourgeoisie are prepared to consider that the revolution is finished. Such is the thought and the hope of the entire bourgeoisie throughout the world. Meanwhile, the revolution has only begun. Its driving force is not those who have chosen Rodzianko and Miliukov. And the revolution will not find its leadership in the executive committee of the Third-of-June Duma.

Hungry mothers of starving children indignantly raised their emaciated hands toward the windows of palaces, and the curses of these women of the people resounded as the voice of a revolutionary tocsin. That was the beginning of events. The workers of Petrograd sounded the alarm; hundreds of thousands poured out of the factories onto the city’s roadways, which already know what barricades are. Here is the strength of the revolution! A general strike has shaken the powerful organism of the capital, paralyzed the state power, and driven the tsar into one of his gilded dens. Here is the revolution’s path! The troops of the Petrograd garrison, as the closest detachment of the all-Russian army, responded to the call of the rebelling masses and made possible the first major conquests of the people. The revolutionary army—that is who will have the deciding word in the events of the revolution!

The information which we have is incomplete. There was a struggle. The monarchy’s ministers did not leave without a fight. Swedish telegrams tell of blown-up bridges, street battles, uprisings in provincial cities. The bourgeoisie, with its Colonel Engelhardts and Gronsky censors, remained in power in order “restore order.” Those are their own words. The first manifesto of the Provisional Government calls upon citizens to remain calm and engage in peaceful activities. As if the purifying work of the people is done, as if the iron broom of the revolution has already completely swept away the reactionary filth which has accumulated for centuries around the Romanov dynasty that is covered in disgrace!

No, the Rodziankos and Miliukovs have spoken too soon about order, and calm will not arrive tomorrow in agitated Rus’ [old Russia]. The country will now arise, layer by layer—all the oppressed, the impoverished, those robbed by tsarism and the ruling classes—in the entire and boundless expanse of the all-Russian prison of peoples. The Petrograd events are only the beginning.

At the head of Russia’s popular masses, the revolutionary proletariat will carry out its historical work; it will drive out the monarchist and aristocratic reaction from all its places of refuge and extend its hand to the proletariat of Germany and all Europe. For it is necessary to liquidate not only tsarism, but the war as well.

The second wave of the revolution is sweeping over the heads of the Rodziankos and Miliukovs, who are worried about restoring order and compromising with the monarchy. From its own depths, the revolution will advance its own power—the revolutionary organ of the people marching to victory. Both the main battles and the main victims lie ahead. And only then will a full and genuine victory follow.

World Socialist Web Site for more

Utopia Inc

March 23rd, 2017


The Bray family reading bedtime stories at the Family of the Mystic Arts Commune PHOTO/John Olson/LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

Most utopian communities are, like most start-ups, short-lived. What makes the difference between failure and success?

At 16, Martin Winiecki dropped out of school and left his home in the German city of Dresden to live full-time at Tamera, a 300-acre intentional community in the rolling hills of southwestern Portugal. His mother and father – a doctor and a professor of mathematics – were reluctant to let him go. ‘It was quite a shock for them,’ Winiecki remembers. Born in 1990, just a few months after the collapse of the Berlin wall, Winiecki came of age in a society in limbo. The atmosphere of the former GDR still clung to people. ‘It was a culture that was so formal. So obligation-oriented. That had no heart. No love,’ Winiecki explained. At the same time, in Winiecki’s eyes, the capitalist alternative was creating a ‘system of deep economic injustice – of winners and losers’. Neither story encompassed a humanity he wanted part of. Tamera offered an alternative.

Founded by the psychoanalyst and sociologist Dieter Duhm in Germany in 1978 and re-founded in Portugal in 1995, Tamera aspired to dissolve the trauma of human relationships. Duhm, heavily influenced by Marxism and psychoanalysis, came to see material emancipation and interpersonal transformation as part of the same project. Duhm had been deeply disillusioned by communes where he’d spent time in the 1960s and ’70s, and which seemed to reproduce many of the same tyrannies that people were trying to escape: egoism, power struggles, envy, mistrust and fear, while practices of sexual freedom often engendered jealousy and pain. In Duhm’s eyes, communes had failed to create a viable model for a new society. In Tamera, he hoped to begin a social experiment that allowed for deep interpersonal healing.

Communitarian experiments such as Tamera are nothing new, although its longevity – almost 40 years – is unusual. Generally,  intentional communities fail at a rate slightly higher than that of most start-ups. Only a handful of communities founded in the US during the 19th century’s ‘golden age of communities’ lasted beyond a century; most folded in a matter of months. This golden age birthed more than 100 experimental communities, with more than 100,000 members who, according to the historian Mark Holloway in Heavens on Earth (1951), sought to differentiate themselves from society by creating ‘ideal commonwealths’. The largest surge in communitarian ‘start-ups’ occurred during the 1840s and 1890s, coinciding with periods of economic depression. But it would be a mistake to see intentional communities merely as a knee-jerk response to hard times.

In historic terms, a broader discontent with industrial society has led to people flocking to communes, utopias and spiritual settlements, from eco-villages and ‘back to the land’ style settlements designed to create sustainable lifestyles and a stronger relationship to nature, to communities founded with spiritual or idealist visions for transforming human character and creating new blueprints of society. Of course, the ‘cult’ label is never far behind. Many intentional communities have had to fight their own public-relations battles in the wake of negative or sensational publicity.

But regardless of our suspicions, our appetite for communitarian living might even be evolutionarily hard-wired. Some sociologists have gone as far as to suggest that we are mal-adapted in modern society, and that ‘tribal’ forms of life are more viable. Theories of neo-tribalism suggest that instead of mass society, human nature is best suited to small, caring groups. The anthropologist Robin Dunbar at the University of Oxford claims that humans can comfortably maintain no more than 150 stable relationships, which suggests that communitarian living might not be so much of an ‘outlier’ or ‘experiment’. From an evolutionary perspective, modern society itself might be the anomaly. As the cultural critic Daniel Quinn writes in The Story of B (1996), for 3 million years the tribal life worked for us: ‘It worked for people the way nests worked for birds, the way webs work for spiders, the way burrows work for moles … That doesn’t make it lovable, it makes it viable.’

Aeon for more

Freedom Rider: When America interfered in a Russian election

March 23rd, 2017


All of the news is fake when corporate media connive with the powerful to produce their desired ends.”

There is still no evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election. What substitutes for proof is nothing but an endless loop of corporate media repetition. The Democratic Party has plenty of reason to whip up hysteria in an effort to divert attention from its endless electoral debacles.

What no one mentions is that the United States government has a very long history of interfering in elections around the world. Since World War II American presidents have used electoral dirty tricks, fraud and violence to upend the will of people in Italy, Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam and Honduras to name but a few nations. If possible brute force and murder are used to depose elected leaders as in Haiti and Chile.

Amid all the hoopla about Russia’s supposed influence in the election or with Donald Trump directly, there is little mention of a successful American effort to intervene in that country. In 1996 American political consultants and the Bill Clinton administration made certain that Boris Yeltsin remained in the Russian presidency.

There is no need for conjecture in this case. The story was discussed quite openly at the time and included a Time magazine cover story with the guilty parties going on record about their role in subverting democracy.

“In 1996 American political consultants and the Bill Clinton administration made certain that Boris Yeltsin remained in the Russian presidency.”

Polls showed that Yeltsin was in danger of losing to the Communist Party candidate Gennadi Zhuganov. The collapse of the Soviet Union had created an economic and political catastrophe for the Russian people. Oligarchs openly stole public funds while government workers went without pay. Russians lost the safety net they had enjoyed and the disaster resulted in a precipitous decline in life expectancy and birth rates.

The United States didn’t care about the suffering of ordinary Russians. Its only concern was making sure that the once socialist country never turned in that direction again. When Yeltsin looked like a loser the Clinton administration pressed the International Monetary Fund to send quick cash and bolster Yeltsin’s government with a $10 billion loan.

Clinton had an even more direct involvement. Led by a team connected to his adviser Dick Morris, a group of political consultants went to work in Moscow, but kept their existence a secret. One of the conspirators put the case succinctly. “Everyone realized that if the Communists knew about this before the election, they would attack Yeltsin as an American tool.” Of course Yeltsin was an American tool, and that was precisely the desired outcome.

The Time magazine article wasn’t the only corporate media expose of the American power grab. The story was also made into a film called “Spinning Boris.” One would think that this well known and documented account would be brought to attention now, but just the opposite has happened. The tale of Clinton administration conniving has instead been disappeared down the memory hole as if it never took place.

When Yeltsin looked like a loser the Clinton administration pressed the International Monetary Fund to send quick cash and bolster Yeltsin’s government with a $10 billion loan.”

The supposedly free media in this country march in lock step with presidents. After Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton made Russia bashing a national pastime the media followed suit. The reason for the hostility is very simple. Russia is an enormous country spanning Europe and Asia and has huge amounts of energy resources which European countries depend on. Its gas and oil reserves make it a player and therefore a target for sanctions and war by other means.

The American impulse to control or crush the rest of the world is thwarted by an independent Russia. While Americans are fed an endless diet of xenophobia Russia and China continue their New Silk Road economic partnership. Of course this alliance is born of the necessity to protect against American threats but no one reading the New York Times or Washington Post knows anything about it. Nor do they know that Vladimir Putin’s mentor stayed in power because of Bill Clinton’s meddling.

Black Agenda Report for more

Homo faber

March 22nd, 2017


Stephan’s Quintet is a visual grouping of five galaxies of which four form the first compact galaxy group ever discovered. The group, visible in the constellation Pegasus, was discovered by Édouard Stephan in 1877 at the Marseille Observatory. PHOTO/NASA/ESA/the Hubble SM4 ERO Team/BBC TEXT/Wikipedia

Discovering the infinite universe.

Evolution has arranged that we take pleasure in understanding—those who understand are more likely to survive.
—Carl Sagan


I’m sorry I know so little; I’m sorry we all know so little. But that’s kind of the fun, isn’t it?
—Vera Rubin

A probable contender for a Nobel Prize at the age of eighty-one, Vera Rubin had been asked if she was troubled by the near-infinite expanse of human ignorance. The question was not gratuitous. Rubin’s eminence as an astronomer rested on her finding in the universe five, maybe ten times the mass of energy dreamed of in the cosmologies of Albert Einstein and Max Planck. Not only was the universe more infinite than previously imagined, but the newly discovered bulk of it was composed of dark matter destined to remain unknowable because not formed of the same atomic fairy dust as all things animal, mineral, and vegetable, celestial and terrestrial, to which mankind gives the names of nature ceaselessly creating itself.

To Rubin’s examiners, the discovery of a never-to-be-seen abyss was news unfit for man, machine, or beast. Was the dear lady not aghast? She was not. To the contrary. She stands in awe of her unknowing as if in Xanadu before the stately pleasure dome of Kubla Khan, where runs the sacred river Alph through caverns measureless to man, down to a sunless sea. Isn’t that kind of the fun, the looking into the vast darkness ripe with wonders that will never cease? The limitless expanse of human ignorance Rubin sees as the fortunate provocation that rouses out the love of learning, kindles the signal fires of the imagination. We have no other light with which to see and maybe to recognize ourselves as human.

The pleasure in the undertaking is the impassioned will to understand that embarks Darwin on his voyage to the Galápagos, prompts Shakespeare to write the plays, and in this issue of Lapham’s Quarterly urges the searchers for signs of life to venture into the morass of history, wander the roads of science, religion, and philosophy—Marie Curie sifting pitchblende in a Parisian storage shed, Seneca mapping a field of stars, Claude Lévi-Strauss collecting native myths in Brazil. At no matter what degree of latitude or longitude, the excitement is the act of discovery. Not the numbering and storing of the dots, but rather the connecting of the dots in what Leibniz conceived as a “preestablished harmony,” the suddenly seen things that were always there, allowing Simone Weil, twentieth-century philosopher, to regard “the entire universe” as “a great metaphor.”

Which is how it appeared to Alexander von Humboldt, nineteenth-century natural scientist and visionary explorer, who recognized planet Earth as one great living organism “animated and moved by inward forces.” His voluminous notes and observations (of trees and toads and ocean currents, of glaciers, birds, and ecosystems) preview by 150 years the sight of earth from space in 1968 awakening the nations of the earth to the state of environmental consciousness that supports the hope for the survival of human civilization.

Humboldt was a Prussian aristocrat educated as a young man in Jena and Weimar by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who directed his reading and lines of laboratory experiment. At the age of twenty-nine in 1799, accomplished as a botanist and zoologist, equipped with a knowledge of geology, history, and astronomy, Humboldt set forth on a five-year exploration of the Americas. Armed with reference books and intent upon perceiving “the connections between the physical and the intellectual worlds,” he brought with him “precise instruments” (barometer, hydrometer, artificial horizon) to measure, among other things, the variable intensity of magnetic forces, “the periodical oscillations of the aerial oceans,” the blueness of the sky. In the jungles and mountains of New Granada and Peru, the investigation’s mules were burdened with “forty-two boxes containing an herbal of six thousand equinoctial plants, seeds, shells, and insects, and geological specimens” gathered from the banks of the Amazon and on the ascent of Chimborazo, the volcano then regarded as the highest mountain in the world.

Lapham’s Quarterly for more

New Zealand’s neoliberal drift

March 22nd, 2017


A homeless person in Auckland, New Zealand PHOTO/Peter MacDonald/Flickr

In New Zealand, neoliberal reforms have widened inequality and undermined the country’s self-image as an egalitarian paradise.

few years ago, when the 2008 global financial crisis was just one or two years old, a coworker and I were talking about the increasingly common sight of homeless people in Auckland, New Zealand. While homelessness in Auckland was nothing new, we agreed that we were seeing more and more men and women curled up in doorways, draped in layers of old clothes and blankets, and holding up tattered signs asking passers-by for money on Queen Street, the city’s main commercial hub.

It was sad, I remarked, that while the problem seemed to be getting worse, the government seemed to be doing very little to help these people escape poverty. She too expressed sympathy for the poor and stressed the importance of giving them a leg up, but confessed she found it difficult to feel bad for homeless people. After all, New Zealand had a generous welfare state that made sure no one was left behind.

“I mean, if you can’t make it in New Zealand,” she said, “then there must be something really wrong with you.”

Her attitude is not particularly unusual — millions of New Zealanders share it. The image of New Zealand as a kind-hearted social democracy, a Scandinavia of the South Pacific, is deeply engrained in its culture.

In fact, this view extends far beyond the country’s borders. A Kiwi in the United States is likely to field three common queries: questions about the country’s natural beauty, about The Flight of the Conchords, and about how much more progressive New Zealand is than America. (There’s an occasional fourth that has something to do with Lord of the Rings.)

To be clear, New Zealand has earned this reputation. Its quality of life is consistently ranked among the highest in the world. In metric after metric — whether examining corruption or life expectancy — it rates well above average. Perhaps most significantly, New Zealanders themselves report extreme satisfaction with their lives.

All of these accolades cover up another truth, however: New Zealand hasn’t been a social-democratic paradise for a long time now. Often considered a “social laboratory,” New Zealand eagerly adopted radical neoliberal reforms in the 1980s like few countries before or since. Nevertheless, its kindly image persists, in and out of the country.

A Social-Democratic Laboratory

Jacobin for more

Politics behind the scenes

March 22nd, 2017


June 23, 1948: Lord (left) and Lady Mountbatten chatting with Prime Minister Clement Attlee after their arrival in London. An Indian representative is also present. PHOTO/The Hindu Archives

Lionel Carter was a member of the team that produced the 12 volumes of Documents on the Transfer of Power in India, which the British government published. He brought to bear the same exacting standards of selection and annotation in the 14 volumes on Mountbatten’s Report on the Last Viceroyalty, Reports by Governors of United Provinces and Punjab, Partition Observed (August-December 1947) and the two earlier volumes, companion to these, comprising Weakened States Seeking Renewal. All were published by Manohar with exquisite care. These volumes are sold in a box, as were the ones on Weakened States. One wishes Carter would do a similar work on Kashmir in the British archives for the period between 1946 and 1950—on papers of the British Resident in Srinagar, the High Commissioners in New Delhi and Karachi, and at the headquarters in London. He would render a service hard to estimate, for the discourse is saturated with partisanship all round. His objectivity and integrity are beyond question.

The volumes under review provide a fascinating portrayal of the times. Occasionally, they prod one to ask whether anything has changed fundamentally. The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the Congress, communists, secularists, India’s Muslims, Islam in Pakistan and Kashmir form the subjects of the despatches. India’s Governor General Lord Mountbatten was in close touch with the British High Commissioner Sir Terence Shone, and his Deputy, Alexander Symon. So were they with the High Commissioner in Pakistan, Sir Lawrence Grafftey Smith. Through Mountbatten, India’s former rulers knew what was afoot.

Maurice Zinkin, ICS, held that Jawaharlal Nehru was a bad Foreign Minister for India but would have been a good one for the West. He was wrong. Nehru’s ideas were woolly. Shone took a visiting Foreign Office official to Nehru on May 2, 1948.

“On the Japanese peace settlement Pandit Nehru was non-committal and full of doubt. He seemed concerned lest a conference to consider a Japanese treaty should lead to further estrangement between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. On the other hand he had no suggestions to offer as to what should be done if there was no peace conference.” Russia’s Nikita Khrushchev told him that the Soviet Union was wrong in not signing that treaty.

On the CPI

There is a detailed report by Shone to London, dated June 18, 1948, on the Communist Party of India’s (CPI) second party congress in Calcutta. “Immediately preceding it in Calcutta was the South East Asia Youth Conference (about which separate reports have already been sent) which was almost entirely Communist in character and was attended by a number of foreign Communist delegates. These later naturally formed the closest contacts with the leaders of the Communist Party of India and played their full share in the complete reversal of former party policy which was the dominating characteristic of the party congress itself. The party’s enthusiastic support for ‘Nehru’s National Government’ gave place overnight to an extremist programme aimed at their immediate overthrow as representing a ‘Government of national surrender and collaboration’ which was supporting the Anglo-American bloc. This volte-face in policy necessitated some scapegoat and it took the form of change in the party’s secretary. P.C. Joshi, a moderate Communist (if such a relative term can be applied to any Communist at all) who had held this office since the period of cooperation with the government during the latter part of the war, was replaced by a complete extremist in B.T. Ranadive. The estrangement between Russia and the Western democracies certainly seems to have been one of the causes of this major change in Communist tactics as was to be seen from the lengthy resolution explaining it.”

Frontline for more