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The Books I read

The Survival For The Sickest – A Different Perspective to The Origin, Spread and Extinction of Any Disease

The Survival of the Sickest 

A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease

(Rechristened as The Surprising Connections Between Disease and Longevity in the later editions)

By

Dr. Sharon Moalem with Jonathan Prince

Publisher — Harper Collins, New York, NY 10022
© 2007 Sharon Moalem

The first reading of the title would make it reread it, for we think our eyes have erred in falsely reading The Survival of The Fittest as The Survival of The Sickest. Even though the book is indeed a work of non-fiction, it is written in the style that is even racier than a thriller fiction. So the authors want to ensure that your attention remains riveted to the contents of the book, from cover to cover.

The book is as much about medicine as it is about myth. Dr. Sharon Moalem, the author, posits the book that wonders why, by simultaneously asking why not. The book is presented as ‘magical medical mystery tour’ that seeks to explore how we got here, where we are heading to and can we do anything about it.

Dr. Sharon Moalem challenges to fundamentally change the way we think about our bodies, our health, and our relationship to just about every other living thing on earth. In a fresh and engaging examination of our evolutionary history, spread over around 208  pages, through the three section of the book – Introduction, Eight Chapters and The Conclusion, Dr. Moalem reveals how many of the conditions that are diseases today, have actually given our ancestors a chance in the survival sweepstakes. But the book also seeks to demonstrate just how little modern medicine really understands about human health. Through The Introduction, forcefully offers us a new way of thinking that can help all of us live longer, healthier lives.

The eight chapters, each dealing with a separate disease or a hereditary disorder, examine in detail the basic proposition of the book – ‘Evolution likes genetic traits that help us survive and reproduce -it doesn’t like traits that weaken us or threaten our health. That preference for genes that gives us a survival or reproductive advantage is called natural selection’. In other words, ‘if a gene produces a trait that makes an organism less likely to survive and reproduce, that gene won’t get passed on, at least not for very long.

However, this detailed tour comes with a few covenants that requires us to discard a few preconceptions –

  1. We are not alone. We are always in the constant company of thousands of bacteria, insects, fungi and what not.
  2. Evolution does not occur in its own. Every single living organism is heard-wired to survive and reproduce. Evolution occurs when the organisms try to improve the odds to survive and to reproduce. Some times evolution in one organism may mean death to other organism – like the spread of COVID at the expense of it carrier human beings. This can unleash a chain of cascading wave of evolution in hundreds or thousands of other species.
  • An organism’s interaction with another organism is not the only influence on their evolution; their interaction with the planet also plays equally important role.

A briefest review of the contents of the eight chapters in a book review by a layman, for the laymen, would be not only be incongruous but also will be inadequate. So here is a list of  each of the chapter titles and the topics covered in the chapter –

  • Chapter 1: Ironing it out – Hemochromatosis, bloodletting, and human iron consumption
  • Chapter 2: A spoonful of sugar helps the temperature go down – Diabetes, climate change, and brown fat
  • Chapter 3: The cholesterol also rises – Sunlight, vitamin D, cholesterol, and the physiological makeup of race
  • Chapter 4: Hey, Bud, can you do ma a Fava – Vegetables, fava beans, and the spread of malaria
  • Chapter 5: Of microbes and man – The virulence of bacteria, Guinea worms, and parasitic diseases
  • Chapter 6: Jump into the gene pool – Mutating DNA and “jumping” genes
  • Chapter 7: Methyl madness : road to the final phenotype -Genetic suppression and childhood obesity
  • Chapter 8: That’s life: Why you and your iPod must die  – Cancer cells and childbirth

While Concluding, the authors expect that we shall have appreciated three things –

  1. The life is in a constant state of creation. Evolution never stops, it keeps changing with passage of time.
  2. Nothing in this world exists in isolation. All types of living organisms on the planet keep evolving together.
  3. Our relationship with the disease is far more complex than we have ever realized.

Life of every organism is a miraculous whole, so much greater than the sum of its parts. Also, the nature is so inherently bent towards creating a disorder that seeing a small figment of our life in order should treated as a miracle. That miracle id the miracle of evolution. Under such circumstances rather than taking our health for granted, it is time that we appreciate it with reverence that it deserves. It needs to be appreciated that diseases do not exist in isolation. The origin, spread and extinction of any disease is a function of interconnectedness of life, in any and all forms, on the earth.

May be such an appreciation may lead us to search for ways to direct the evolution of infectious agents away from virulence, towards harmlessness – instead of waging an antibiotic war that we may never be able to win.

The bottom line is that while evolution is amazing, it is, inherently, not perfect, and every adaptation comes with a compromise. The riveting reading of ‘The Survival for The Sickest’ should help you to change your perspective on disease and the role genetics plays in our lives.

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Other books by Dr. Sharon Moalem:

  1. How Sex Works: Why We Look, Smell, Taste, Feel, and Act the Way We Do (published: April 2008)
  2. Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives—And Our Lives Change Our Genes (Published: April 2014)
  3. The Better Half: On the Genetic Superiority of Women (Published: April, 2020)

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Acknowledgement: Dr. Dileep Andhare sends a monthly knowledge enhancing e-mail broadcast to his all the DNVGL Business Assurance India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh Region professional colleagues. The subject of each e-mail is his current experience relating to the field of occupational health and safety. His April 2020 e-mail MHG broadcast had referred to this book ‘The Survival for the Sickest’ as he was addressing the lessons that OHS professional should take home in these times of pandemic. I am grateful for the motivation that e-mail provided me to immediately reach for this book and read it.  Dr. Dileep Andhare is a practicing occupational and environmental health specialist.

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The Books I read

Prakash N Shah – In Conversation With Urvish Kothari

In the “Saarthak Conversations’ series, Urvish Kothari presents the multifaceted public persona of Prakash N Shah, from Parakash Shah’s own retrospective perspective, in a book that is based on his interviews with the Prakash Shah.  Prakash N Shah is presently the founder-editor of a Gujarati fortnightly, Nireekshak, which essentially is a journal representing the liberal civil ideological thinking, and a respected columnist of Gujarati edition of Divya Bhaskar. Apart from the liberalist civil society strata, he is also read by those who are on the lookout for a fresh, incisive. angle on any current subject.  His articles cover a wide range of subjects such as politics, social and economic issues. The book serves to reveal the deep inside of the iceberg of the persona of Prakash N Shah, of which one sees only the tip in his writings.

We undertake a quick glance at the different facets of Prakash N Shah in his conversations with Urvish Kothari:

Prakash N Shah would call himself as someone who cherishes all the facets of life by understanding the joy of living. He does not fit into ant traditional definition of any party, or organization or any ‘ism’. His priority is to be a natural participant in the public activities that help shape the creation of a fair and just society. His reading habit has been inculcated into his personality from his childhood maternal side upbringing.

After completing his B.A., Prakash N Shah got to read The Hindu Way of Life (Dr. S Radhakrishnan), Hind Swaraj (Mahatma Gandhi) and Swadesh (Rabindranath Tagore). These helped build the base of his core thinking. Prakash Shah further elaborates that his understanding of Gandhiji matured after reading Ram Manohar Lohia and that of Marx matured after reading Jaiprakash Narayan. However, the conviction, expression and feelings in his thinking have remained his own.

When he was in the first year of M.A. Prakash Shah spoke in favour of direct action in a parliamentary democracy while participating in Mahadevbhai elocution competition. This was about a decade before he was to develop his ideology-shaping actual contacts in the public life. That also was the first indication of the way his own preferences and understanding – of the persona of those public figures – were to shape up in the years to come.

Prakash N Shah came into direct contact with Acharya Kripalani sometime in 1968-69, when Acharya had stayed at Ahmedabad. Prakash Shah was assigned duty to give company to Acharya Kripalani by reading books to him at Gujarat Vidyapith. It was then that Prakash Shah got ‘tuned’ with Acharya. While reading or listening, Acharya Kripalani may fall into deep thoughts and may not utter a word for a long period. But when he was in jubilant mood, he would intervene with a sweet injection of a Sindhi adage or folk song line or some subtle observation based on his own experiences. His love for his wife Sucheta Kriplani was more ethereal and deeper than what was appeared on the face. He had deep respect for Sardar Patel but would not hesitate to spell out his difference of opinions, without mincing the words.

During the Emergency (declared by Indira Gandhi during 1975-77), Prakash N Shah had had the longest imprisonment period, along with a few of other active members of the politically non-aligned organizations. One of main probable reasons for this imprisonment was his direct contact with Jaiprakash Narayan and with the Gujarat end of his movement. He spent most of his time with reading from the jail library. His writings mainly confined to his personal letters to his wife and his daughters. He had several occasions to hold intense discussions with other inmates who were from the RSS or the Sarvodaya movement. Thus, he could very closely observe these two ideological thought processes. When he was on a four-day parole, he had had first contact with Narendra Modi as one of the many callers on him. Ever since then, they have an arm’s distance relationship that is characterised by a critical eye on each other’s activities.

Prakash N Shah had had occasions to meet Lal Krishna Advani during a few years in 1990s. In one such meeting, L K Advani, in response to a question about the basic difference the thinking of Congress and that of BJP, stated that Congress and BJP have almost an identical approach in so far as the economic reforms are concerned, but BJP’s identity is in its ideology of Hindutva. It is but natural that such basic undercurrents of the thinking would put the independent-minded Prakash N Shah into the role of the opposition.

Jaiprakash Narayan was as radical-minded Dr. Rama Manohar Lohia However according Dr. Lohia, JP was ‘worn out’ once he had joined the Sarvodaya movement. Dr. Lohia also further believed that, however it was only JP who may be able to bring any change. In one of the public discourses, sometime in 1972/1973, Prakash N Shah has noted that, in his journey for the such of newer dimensions, from Congress to Socialist Party to Sarvodaya Movement, JP now seemed at the cusp of a new turn in his life.

These varied experiences and exposures seemed to have some effects on the ideology of Parakash N Shah. He started writing from his school days. Later on, he used to write articles on different subjects in journals associated with different ideologies, which now has culminated into his writings in Nireekshak, the fortnightly newsletter that he now edits. Between these two mileposts of his writings, his professional experiences got transcribed into wide choice of the subjects of his articles in Vishwamanav , then Gyangangotri series and then, as a journalist, in Gujarati newspapers of Indian Express group and Times of India group. This also helped shape Prakash N Shah‘s very unique style of writing.

Prakash N Shah had had occasions to establish a direct contact with the active politics as well during the whole process of Gujarat and Bihar (JP) movement [~January- March, 1974], the Janata Front in Gujarat [~June 1976], Emergency [~1975-1977] and the rise of Janata Party [~1977]. This was also the period of rise and development of responsible and recognizable civil society movement. Prakash N Shah and his like-minded colleagues fought the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation elections in 1987 on this civil society platform. Based on these experiences, he has co-founded the Movement for Secular Democracy. The organization has been putting across its secular-veined memoranda on the events like Godhra [~2002] and post-Godhra issues to Human Rights Commission, Krishna Aiyar Commission and similar other current issues of national ethos.

As much debated, interesting and important as the public issues that Prakash N Shah has gone through in his life is his unique writing style. He easily coins terms that are usually not used in the present-day journalism or literature. Profusely interspersed with such ‘Prakash Shah’ian terms, his writing style also provides enough cause to the opponents of Prakash N Shah’s ideology.to oppose the expression of his ideology as well. Even the fans of his writing style, too, do smart from their inner races while wading through such terms in his articles.

As Prakash N Shah enters the eighth decade of his eventful life, he talks about his dreams – then and now. He recalls that during his youth, he aspired to write a novel on Tolstoy, narrated form the point of view of the Countess. In the period of 1975 to 1990, when he was active in the JP Movement, he aspired to write a novel, based on the subject of Gandhiji starting his movement afresh with JP and Dr. Lohia as his follower-soldiers, as if Gandhiji wereand Nehru and Sardar Patel active in the government However, at the present juncture of his life he would like to put his thoughts, expressed in his varied oral discourses, in to an organized documented order. He dreams that the very basic understanding that would emerge from the retrospection of such writings may help the coming generation in addressing their issues, in whatsoever little way it could.

On the whole the conversations of Urvish Kothari does help the reader of the book to draw up a fairly meaningful picture of the multi-faceted personality of Prakash N Shah, a liberal, humanistic and plain-spoken civil rights torch-bearer, an independent minded ideologist and a lucid-and-flowing-styled unorthodox writer.

‘પ્રકાશ ન. શાહ’ [Prakash N. Shah – In conversations with Urvish Kothari]
Author: Urvish Kothari © July 2019
ISBN: 978-93-84076-37-5
Pages – 160, Listed sales price – Rs. 150/ –
Publisher: Saarthak Prakashan, Ahmedabad
Principal Distributor, Bookshelf, Ahmedabad

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I Liked The Books I read

Flashback into the film careers of unwept, unsung 35 personalities of the early Golden Period: इन्हें न भुलाना – Harish Raghuvanshi

As a meticulous curator, dedicated researcher and an occasional author, Harish 500th postRaghuvanshi is not an unknown name to the loyal Hindi Film Music followers. He has painstakingly collected a vast treasure of huge, and highly valuable, data relating to the film history. But he remains zero error perfectionist at the core when it comes to sharing any information to others. As a result, he has been very frugal when it comes to publish his work in the print media.

His one such work of immense value was a book, Inhe Na Bhulana, published in Gujarati in 2003. It is a compendium of crisp career notes of 35 film personalities of the early golden period of the Hindi Films, who had had carved a niche in their days, but not much has been authoritatively documented about their work. The book is now out of print for many years.

To the good fortune of the documented Hindi Film history, Sunderdas Vishandas Gohrani has undertaken the task of translating Harish Raguvanshi’s original Gujarati work into Hindi. Sunderdas Gohrani’s Hindi translation id now published as Inhe Na Bhulana (इन्हें न भुलाना).

In the history of 106+ years, there is a vast number of people who have been directly associated with the Hindi films on, and off, the screen.  Most of these people, while being highly dedicated to their respective profession, certainly not very commercial in their overall outlook. Discussions of the film personalities normally remained confined to private discussions in parties and clubs. As a result, many of the most noted aspects of even the-then-well-known personalities did not last long once these persons went inactive.

Barring a few, the 35 film personalities that Harish Raghuvanshi has chosen in the book, do not belong to the miniscule minority of well-documented on-screen personalities. But, each of the person discussed does have a well-defined place, known and etched into the minds of their fans. Harish Raguvanshi presents such details in very lucid style, with his known zero-error-accuracy.

Here is the list of the film personalities discussed in the book:

प्रेम अदीब; रुपहले पर्देके राम

Prem Adib: Ram of our silver screen

निगार सुल्ताना: पिन अप गर्ल

Nigar Sultana: Pin Up Girl

श्याम: रंगीन तबीअतका जाम

Shyam: Peg of a colorful life

कुलदीप कौर: क़ातिल नज़रकी कटार

Kuldeep Kaur: Dagger of deadly gaze

कन्हैयालाल: मदर इण्डियाका अकेला सुखालाल

Kanhaiyalal : The only “Sukhalal of ‘Mother India’

नसीम बानो : परी-चेहरा

Nasim Bano: ‘Fairy-face’

मज़्हर खान: पुलिस विभाग से रुपहले पर्दे तक

Mazhar Khan : From police force to silver screen

लीला मेहता: स्लीवलेस ब्लाउज़ वाला रोल ठुकराने वाली

Leela Mehta :  Rejected a sleeveless bloused role

नूर मुहम्मद: चार्ली  पलट तेरा ध्यान किधर है

Noor Muhammad Charlie : Where is your inverted attention

शक़ीळा: बाबूजी धीरे चलना

Shakeela : Babuji Dheere Chalana

मास्टर निसार: अब वो मुक़दर नहीं रहा…

Master Nissar : When that destiny

दुलारी: साढे पांच दस्गक का फ़िमी सफर

Dulari: A film journey of 5 ½ decades

पी. जयराज : ऐतिहासुक पात्रोंके रुपमें इतिहासमें स्थान बनाने वाले

P. Jairaj: Created a place in the history through historical characters

क़मर जलालाबादी: इक दिलके टुकडे हज़ार हुए

Qamar Jalalabadi: Ik Dil Ke Tukade Hzar Hue

कृष्णकान्त  उर्फ के.के.: चिरवृध्द अभिनेता

Krishnakant a.k.a. K.K.: Eternally old actor

भरत व्यास: तुम गगनके चन्द्रमा हो

Bharat Vyas : Tum Gagan Ke Chandrama Ho

रंजन: तलवारबाज़ के रुपमें मान्य प्रतिभाशाली

Ranjan: The recognized talent in the form of swordsmanship

खुमार बाराबंकवी: तस्वीर बनाता हूं

Khumar Barabankvi: Tasveer Banata Hun

महीपाल: फिल्ममें गीत लीखनेवाळे एकमात्र राम

Mahipal: Only ‘Ram’ to pen lyrics for films

पं. नरेन्द्र शर्मा: ज्योति कलश छलके

Pt. Narendra Sharma: Jyoti Kalash Chhalake

नासिर ख़ान: ट्रेजॅडी-किंगका भाई होनेकी ट्रेजेडी

Nasir Khan : Tragedy of being the brother of tragedy-king

प्रेम धवन: गीत, संगीत और नृत्यकी त्रिवेणी

Prem Dhawan: Three-way confluence of song, music and dance

याकूब: रहे नाम अल्लाह का

Yaqub: God’s name shall prevail

मास्टर फिदा हसैन बने प्रेम शंकर नरसी

Master Phida Hussain becomes ‘Prem Shankar Narasi’

गोप; मेरे पिया गये रंगून

Gop: Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon

माधुलाल मास्टर: संगीतके नींवके पत्थर परन्तु संयोगो के समक्ष कठपूतली

Babulal Master: Corner stone of music, but puppet against circumstances

करण दीवान: चाक्लेटी हीरो

Karan Diwan: Chocolate hero

वी. बलसारा: सात दशकका स्वर-संसार

V. Balsara:  Seven decades of world of notes

जयन्त: गब्बर सिंह के पिता

Jayant: Father of Gabbar Sinh

अल्ला रखा अर्थात तबला

Alla Rakha means Tabla

वास्ती: एक याद किसीकी आती रही

Vasti: A continuing memory of someone

द्वारकादास सम्पत: मूक फिल्मों का गुजराती मान्धाता

Dwarkadas Sampat: Towering Gujarati personality of silent films

डी बीलीमोरिया: र्रुपहले सलीमकी सुनहरी सफलता

D Bilimoria: Silvery success of sliver-screen Salim

मोहनलाल दवे: हिन्दी फिल्मोंकी पटकथा के गुजराती पितामह

Mohanlal Dave – Grandfather of Hindi film screenplays

ई. बीलीमोरिया डोर कीपर से हीरो

E. Bilimoria: From door-keeper to hero

 

 

Of the 35 career-sketches presented in the book, 18 sketches are of the actors, 6 those of actresses, 5 those of lyricists, 1 character actor, 3 music directors, 1 producer and 1 screenplay writer.

Each career-sketch is highly informative and is packed with all important details, including birth date, birth place, death date etc. too. And yet, none of the article becomes a drab documentary record. Each sketch is very concise. The title of each sketch has quite a pithy subtitled adjective, which creates a full picture of the concerned personality in the mind of the reader.  The simple, fluent writing style of the author makes reading of the book as much interesting as it make rewarding. The Hindi translation of such a unique style must have been a major challenge for the translator, Sunderdas Gohrani. But we must give full credit to him – the Hindi text never appears clichéd or contrived.

For the generation who have seen the films of (even some of) these artists, the book is a nostalgic trip. To the new, and the future, generations, the book will be torch that will shed the light on the type of pioneering work that generation of the film personalities have done to help create one of the most productive film industries of the world. For the researchers and the historians, the book will be an invaluable source of authentic references.

Once you read this book there is bound to be a deep urge to look out for more works of Shri Harish Raghuvanshi. Fortunately, there appears a ray of light at the end of tunnel – all efforts are being made to get his all-time classic, Mukesh Geet Kosh, and Gujarati Film Geet Kosh reprinted. His 103 articles on the contribution of the Gujarati community in Hindi cinema is also under advanced stage of getting printed under the title Hindi Cinema Gujarati Mahima.

How one would wish that along with Inhe Na Bhulana as well as these potential reprints be available for online purchase, and ideally in the digital formats.

However till that becomes a reality, these publications (and of course the Hid Film Geet Kosh volumes of Har Mandir Sinh ‘Hamraza’ and his coauthored with Harish Raghuvanshi book on K L Saigal, Jab Dil Ji Toot Gaya) can be purchased from the publisher:

Mrs. Satider Kaur,
H.I.G-545, Ratan Lala Nagar, Kanpur 208 022, India ║ Mobile / Whatsapp No. – +91 9415485281 ║ E-mail: hamraaz18@yahoo.com

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Inhe Na Bhulan | Pages 155 | September, 2018 | Price – Rs. 300.00

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Email Contacts:

Harish Raghuvanshi: harishnr51@gmail.com
Sunderdas Vishandas Gohrani: sundergohrani@yahoo.co.in

Categories
The Books I read

Business Management Books to Read in 2017

On the very first day of 2017, I thought fit to collate a list of business management books to read, as observed on just the first page of Google search.

Jena McGregor recommendation on The Washington Post:

Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace By Christine Porath, Dec. 27

Stretch By Scott Sonenshein, Feb. 7

Madame President By Helene Cooper, March 7

Eyes Wide Open By Isaac Lidsky, March 14

Radical Candor By Kim Scott, March 14

Option B By Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, April 24

The Captain Class: The Driving Force Behind the World’s Greatest Teams By Sam Walker, May 16

The Push By Tommy Caldwell, May 16

Gorbachev: His Life and Times By William Taubman, Sept. 7

Shana Lebowitz recommends 10 books every new manager should read @ Business Insider India.

‘Drive’ by Daniel H. Pink

‘The One Thing You Need to Know’ by Marcus Buckingham

‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman

‘Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader’ by Herminia Ibarra

‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie

“Mindset’ by Carol Dweck

‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius and Gregory Hays

‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe

‘Now, Discover Your Strengths’ by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins

Four Business Books To Read In 2017 @ Eric Jacobson On Management And Leadership

 The Elegant Pitch: Create a Compelling Recommendation, Build BroadSupport, and Get It Approved, by Mike Figliuolo

Leading the Unleadable – How to Manage Mavericks, Cynics, Divas, andOther Difficult People, by Alan Willett

Extreme Ownership, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Lencioni

Twelve Business Books to Read in 2017 by Natalie White

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t By Jim Collins

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers By Ben Horowitz

Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention That Launched the Military-Industrial Complex By Michael Hiltzik

Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior By Jonah Berger

The 10 Laws of Trust: Building the Bonds That Make a Business Great By Professor Joel C. Peterson

Lead and Disrupt: How to Solve the Innovator’s Dilemma By Professor Charles O’Reilly and Michael Tushman

Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least By Jessica Jackley

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World By Adam Grant

The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu By Dan Jurafsky

The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It By David Weil

Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks By Ben Goldacre

All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis By Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera

These may certainly not be the only ones to be the recommended books. But, indeed it makes a very good beginning for a New Year.

Wishing The Best of 2017…..

Categories
Music from films The Books I read

More Than Bollywood: Studies in Indian Popular Music

–Guest Article by  Tadatmya Vaishnav#

More Than Bollywood - Studies in Popular MusicI recently had opportunity to read through most of the book titled “More than Bollywood: Studies in Indian Popular Music “. It is a collection of essays on popular, film and non-film, Indian music. The book is edited by musicologists Gregory D. Booth and Bradley Shope. The essays are in a scholarly style and were meant to be a formal study of Indian film music as well as certain non-film music genres, such as pop, rap and rock.

‘More than Bollywood’ includes many of the leading scholars currently working on Indian popular music and culture. The volume offers a wide perspective on contemporary and historical popular music in India, and confronts the inescapable importance of the Indian film song; but it also offers the largest collection to date of research on “non-film” popular music in India. It can be treated as one of the most comprehensive single volume on a subject that is of growing interest to scholars and students in music, ethnomusicology, film studies, popular music studies, and South Asian studies. It is intended to stand on its own as a work of scholarship, but it is also simultaneously intended as a fundamental resource for courses on popular music and music in India.

All the chapters were not, in fact, interesting, as far as I am concerned. So, I take up the three chapters that I did find interesting.

Chapter 1 – A Moment of Historical Conjuncture in Mumbai

In this chapter, Gregory Booth presents an interesting case of how the Hindi film song, as we knew it until 1990 or so, was shaped substantially in the five year period of 1948-52, immediately after Independence. He treats the 1931 – 1947 period as a period of aesthetic and professional transition. Among major changes, he identifies growing sophistication in cinematography of song sequences and a change in the sound of the female voice in film songs. During this period, the film song also got to occupy the role of the most important form of popular song. He has taken a set of three representative music directors – Naushad Ali, Shanker Jaikishan and C Ramchandra- and two arrangers – Antonio Vaz and Sebastian D’Souza and only one full-time playback singer (Lata!) as having played a major complementary role in shaping the Hindi film song. Collectively, they effected sophistication of film song orchestration, explicit engagement with classical Indian and foreign popular music and redefinition of the sound of female playback singing, among others. Destiny seemed to have chosen them as ‘right person in the right place at right time.’

The musical and professional patterns that were established during 1948 and 1952 remained almost unchanged till at least until 1970. For a further 20 years, the rise of a new generation of musicians took over major roles. The shift in the basic structural composition of the film music is seen by examining the proportion of composers who composed more than one film in a year. Only a few, generally two or three, music directors dominated the year in terms of those soundtracks that were ‘most heard’. By 1952, the percentage of music directors with multiple releases had increased to 62%. For the next ten years this figure hovered around 50%, declining back to 30% in in 1967. The corresponding figure for 1932-1947 was seen in the range of 60%. Of the 60 highest net grossing films during 1947 to 1957, 32 % were during 1948-1952. Of these, Naushad, SJ and C Ramchandra had 68% share.

The rise of an oligarchy in the world of playback singers was also equally pronounced. Among male singers it was Mohammad Rafi who ruled the roost before Kishore Kumar took over in 1969. Nevertheless, the number of important male singers was greater as compared to that of female singers. In the case of female singers, the shift was far more dramatic and extreme. 1952 was the year that virtually brought an end to the richly textured and individually timbred voices of the earlier era. Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Geeta Dutt collectively recorded slightly over one-third of the songs recorded in 1951. With the fading away of Geeta Dutt, by end of 1950s, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle shared between them more than one-third of all songs. Having given a quantitative background, the author has taken up the examination of more interactive musical, aesthetic and industrial practices in this chapter.

One may disagree, as I did, with some of the conclusions – that it was Naushad who “tightened” the concept of a ‘film song’, as distinct from ‘singing in the film’, by way instrumental interludes, tempo, orchestral size, recording techniques and professionalization of the singers. Or, that the style of the male voice in Hindi film songs followed mainly from Saigal’s style while the style of the female voice changed radically with Lata (I agree only with the latter part).

The statistics quoted at various places are useful and some of the points do note important conclusions. The last point about the technology that enabled separation of on-screen voice and playback voice and the emergence of the playback singer as a distinct role, is well-made and pivotal to Hindi film music.

Chapter 2 : Global Masala – Digital Identities and Aesthetic Trajectories in Post-Liberalization Indian Film Music is written by Natalie Sarrazin.

It is a very well-written account of how globalization, as well as new technologies, has influenced the creation of popular music, mainly film music, in India since the 1990s.

The author goes into a very detailed, second-by-second, analysis of the prelude music of the title song of Roja, in order to show how digital recording techniques can marry the audio to the video much more effectively than in the past.

Another good section is the one titled “Aesthetic Decisions”. It shows how the role of the music director has changed and how the sound engineer may be the most influential person behind the final finished song. This change may be revolutionary, but like many revolutions, the outcome may not be anything to be proud of. The author seems to take this major change in her stride, perhaps because she is a Westerner and does not have emotional ties to old music.

In her concluding remarks, the author notes that ‘Hindi film must project carefully crafted identities and desires onto the world stage, embodying Indian values in musical idioms palatable to an international music market and appealing to interesting non-Diaspora audiences. India’s active embrace of and enactment upon the promise of globalization require new Indian sonic agents, ones that portray India’s current energy, as well as image as a suitable global economic partner. Such music, to be successful, must create space for dreams and desires of Resident Indians and NRIs, while offering up musical fantasy escapism to the rest of the world.’

In Chapter 10: Latin American Music in Moving Pictures and Jazzy Cabarets in Mumbai, 1930-1950 Bradley Shope explores the period between mid-1930s and early 1950s when Latin American music in Hollywood films influenced jazzy cabarets that some of the Indian communities like Goans, Anglo – Indians and Parsis. The first half of the chapter traces the popularity of a native Brazilian dance, the Carioca – introduced to the world in the 1933 release Flying Down the Rio[i] in Mumbai and explores the relationship between this film and development of Hindi film songs containing Latin American sounds and images. The second half of the article uncovers the relationship between live cabarets in Mumbai and the development of Hindi films songs containing Latin American sounds and images.

The film Flying Down to Rio (1933) was successfully screened in urban India in 1934. The carioca dance shown in this films attracted vast audiences in Mumbai in nightclubs, restaurants, hotel ballrooms, social clubs and cabarets. Audiences learned the dance by watching the film or through lessons at local dance schools. By the 1940s, many jazz orchestras understood that learning Latin American repertoire could help secure jobs in a larger scope of avenues. It was no coincidence that when C Ramchandra composed Gore Gore O Banke Chhore (Lata Mangeshkar, Amirbai Karnataki, Samadhi, 1949),

he heavily borrowed from Chico Chico from Puerto Rico (Doll Face, 1945).

Latin characteristics were heard as early as in Naushad’s score for 1943 film Kanoon in the song Ek Tu Ho, Ek Main Hoon (Suraiya). The staged cabaret sequence Deewana Yeh Parwana from 1951 film Albela showcased great fusion of the chief arranger of ‘His Music Makers’, Chic Chocolate, and C Ramchandra. Chic Chocolate and his orchestra are dressed in stylized Latin American costumes in this song.

Carmen Miranda’s song sequence of ‘Week-End in Havana’ from 1941 film of the same name bears noticeable similarities to this song. And that includes not only the music, sounds or dance, but even Geeta Bali’s costumes as well.

One can find a similar beat of three+two clave (Dil Dhadake Nazar Sharamaye) or a music sound of rolling piano (Mere Dil Ki Ghadi Kare Tick Tick) in some other song sequences of ‘Albela’. Since the audiences of Hindi films were not typically exposed to these Latin American films or songs. That helped in creating that tantalizing element of fantasy in the Hindi film songs which brought up the entire effect far above real-life limitations of mundane restriction in the Indian society.

To be sure, other thematic, such as Hawaiian, Island, Spanish, Arab, French and the like, also suitably found way into Hindi films songs. Barring a few cases, the credit should also be given to director or music director that these adaptations were seen as highly innovative depictions that completely fused into the Indian cultural environment.

To illustrate each chapter author’s points, and to make available music not easily accessible in North America, the book is ably and vividly supported by Oxford web music companion website of audio and video tracks.

Bibliographic Information:

Print publication date: 2013 ǁ 380 pages ǁ Print ISBN-13: 9780199928835

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

Paperback edition: Published: 12 December 2013 | 384 Pages | ISBN: 9780199928859

Other books:

Behind the curtain: making music in Mumbai’s film studios – Gregory Booth

American Popular Music in Britain’s Raj – Bradley G Shope

# Tadatmya Vaishnav can be contacted @ tavaishnav@gmail.com

[i]

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Super Economies: America and India – Where Do We Go From Here?

In the first part, we looked at the preamble that Raghav Bahl builds for his case for India’s potential case in the coveted SuperEconomy club. In the second part, we then looked at the Raghav Bahl’s separate chapter-wise exploration of the past events of the international stage, wherein the involvement US, China and India, translated into the future case of ‘Shall it or shall it not ?’ for India’s Super Economy status. In the third and penultimate part, we looked at how Raghav Bahl views the points of common heritage, common systems of governance, a critical mass of Indian Americans and examines whether these two great parallels will ever, if at all, converge.

Raghav Bahl thus completes his panoramic analysis of the factors that brings India at the present critical junction of its future journey to the SuperEconomy status. In the concluding part, we join Raghav Bahl to see Where Do We Go From Here?

Super economies 4Geopolitics seemed to be the driving force in the 20th century. That dramatically underwent a change in 1989 with the fall of Berlin Wall. By the end of the century, Japan was failing to deliver on the great post-WWII promises expected of it.EU, established in 1993, was not ticking as economic powerhouse as was anticipated. The reforms undertook in China, as well as in India, had seemed to bring in a flurry of development, and hope.

9/11 attack, at the dawn of 21st Century, changed all that…Almost imperceptibly; the forces of globalization began to change the nature of geopolitical power, once primarily exercised through the State’s military might. The sphere of influence was getting increasingly leveraged by citizens, businesses and non-governmental agencies through economic, cultural and humanitarian channels.

While the SuperPower era was characterized by a cold war of estrangement and impassivity, The Age of SuperEconomies engenders a much ‘warmer’ kind of interaction during the moments of conflicts. In citizen-to-citizen interactions too, the Age of SuperEconomies is unrecognizable from those of SuperPower era.

It is this extraordinary level of integration that distinguishes the Age of SuperEconomies from the SuperPower era….And yet, today’s world mirrors the Superpower Era in one crucial way : The one-party states like Soviet Union or China have continued to flourish under rigid government controls.

What Europe was to 20th Century, Asia will be for the 21st Century : the core theatre of global commerce and conflicts, where aspirations and political ideologies collide. For the first time in 500 years, the bulk of global power resides not in Europe or America but in Asia.

Globalization has precluded of a ‘cold war’; countries are economically so interdependent that no trading partner can be ignored, isolated or quashed without wrecking the entire global order in one or more major ways.

Just as no one could envision the Age of SuperEconomies arising from the remnants of Cold War, we probably have no way of knowing how the geopolitical landscape will unfold going forward. Of all the possible developments that would transform the world by mid-21st Century, these five seem most likely to happen:

  1. The birth of NATO and NAFTA for Pacific will help stabilize Asia. The economic Integration among Asia’s democracies will counterbalance China’s hegemony.
  2. Robust growth of India, combined with America’s success in the recovery of its own economy will help the combined growth of the two economies dwarf that of China.
  3. China will reclaim Taiwan and strengthen its foothold in the South China Sea.
  4. America, China and India will unite to forestall Islamic terrorism.
  5. China will become ‘near-democracy’, thereby becoming a more open society.

Most of the considered reviews that were published when the book was released had, more or less, painted Raghav Bahl’s version of Indian Turtle vs. Chinese Hare race as the one painted by having put on Rose coloured glasses. But, like him, every one of us knows pretty well what is wrong with the way have been approaching our destined economic, and thereby social, pre-eminence. In more than the two years that the book was published, the economic and political landscapes in the three principal theatres of USA, China and India have scripted quite different, unexpected and certainly the unintended ways.

For India it is no more question of whether it will be able to size the opportunities available at this most interesting phase of its journey. The question that every Indian must ask and answer is what everyone should do to enable India leapfrog the economic growth and thereby, social and humanitarian challenges that will come up on this journey. India has to clearly identify forces that can help it to remain the game and sustain its staying power over the long haul. The plot that is being etched is quite tantalizing. But it is a once-in-a-lifetime, Do or Die situation for India. Every Indian should do every thing that he or she should to realize this, if not for themselves, if not for becoming a Super economy, at least for its generation that will come in the future.  That is the cross of responsibility that the present generation carries on its shoulders.

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Super Economies: America and India – Heritage Link, Democratic States – Positives Enough for Convergence !?

Super Economies

America, India, China and The Future of World

By Raghav Bahl

ISIN: 978-06-7008-812-6 ǁ Publishers: Random House ǁ Price: Rs. 699/-

In the first part, we looked at the preamble that Raghav Bahl builds for his case for India’s potential case in the coveted SuperEconomy club. In the second part, we then looked at the Raghav Bahl’s separate chapter-wise exploration of the past events of the international stage, wherein the involvement US, China and India, translated into the future case of ‘Shall it or shall it not ?’ for India’s Super Economy status.

In this third and penultimate part, we will see how Raghav Bahl views the points of common heritage, common systems of governance, a critical mass of Indian Americans and examines whether these two great parallels will ever, if at all, converge.

Super economies 2Foetal Siblings or Estranged Democracies?” draws on the pre- and post-independence America and India. The first common challenge both nation faced was to create a federal union out of the group of separate, sometimes disparate, states. Indeed, like America 150 years before, India was blessed at birth with a set of wise and principled leaders who guided the country with their foresight and courage. America’s experience in tackling the challenges that arose during its first century of free-market democracy can be instructive to India, from its transition from an agrarian economy to largely an industrial one.

As America grew and prospered in the nineteenth century, the Puritan ethics of simplicity, hard work and fair play gave way to a more materialistic, aspirational mind-set of what came to be known as “robber barons’. First used to describe medieval nobleman who ambushed traveling merchants and demanded payments or confiscated their goods, the term “robber baron” initially carried a negative connotation, implying ruthless, lawless money grabbing. As the America grew in its economic strength, the term got tagged to the ruthless new class who gained in the riches. This was partly as a result of technological innovation, boosting efficiency and competition which asked nothing of ideas of art and science, but the application towards ends of use and profit. The influx of some seven million immigrants between 1820 and 1870 only heightened the shift.

America’s first generation titans of industry started poor and scrappy. They found themselves torn between the national doctrine of ‘equality for all’ and the rise of ‘free-booting citizen’ who by his own efforts, by whatever methods, had wrested for himself a power that flung its shadow upon the liberties and privileges of others.

With the Government committed to free-market capitalism, it became frightfully easy for these industrialists to expand their holdings, in the process building up properties that East India Company would have envied.

Like the excesses of East India Company, which prompted London to step in, the behaviour of Gilded Age (end of 19th century period) tycoons spurred new legislation to help modulate America being free-market economy.

Since then, the period has undergone dramatic historic revision. After all, one man’s ‘robber baron’ is another’s ‘visionary entrepreneur’. The term ‘political entrepreneur’ who used government subsidies and patronage to build their empires and stifle competition and ‘market entrepreneur’ who simply built superior product at a lower cost now gained recognition.

Thanks in the large part to their legacy; today’s entrepreneurs operate in a drastically different world – one that is not only more global, but vastly more competitive, inclusive, regulated and democratic.

Post-1991-opening of the then regulated economy, Indian tycoons can be classified as ‘reform barons’, who seized the opportunities afforded by the economic liberalization. India now also has ‘first-generation barons’ who have built widely respected businesses from scratch.

Unfortunately, it is neither first generation nor reform barons who are dominating the headlines today. It is the another class, so-called less principled ones, the crony capitalists, who use corruption and cronyism to disproportionately benefit from the allocation of the country’s natural resources at stage-managed low costs.

Rather than allow similarities to let them take one another for granted or needless criticizing each other for the apparent flaws, America and India should use the core likeness and advance the self-correcting powers of the democratic form of governance.

In “The Centre Will Hold “ with a sub-title of ‘Democracy and Law’, Raghav Bahl takes up the subject of similarities in the forms of governance in USA and India, as the modern states, with respect to India’s tryst with the status of being (or failing) a SuperEconomy. George Bernard Shaw allegedly once quipped that America and England are ‘two counties separated by a common language’. Making a parallel comparison can also be made between America and India, Ogilvy & Mather’s India vice-chairman, Madhukar Sabnavis considers two counties separated by a common political system. Furthermore, both countries are home to multi-cultural populations. America’s diversity is largely the result of immigration of from across the world, whereas India’s diversity has grown out of its long history as a sprawling collection of isolated, highly territorial regional populations. That makes US qualify as traditional nation-state, while India is better defined as ‘state-nation’. While the traditional federal system is ‘symmetrical’, India’s is asymmetrical.

Holding together a collection of disparate factions requires far more strategic savvy and collective will….whatever the difference in form or style, however, American and Indian democracies share an essential character and spirit.

A successful democracy depends on achieving a balance between centralized and decentralized forces and serving the interests of powerful without excluding the disenfranchised. In this, both, US and India have largely succeeded.

A democratic system may not guarantee upstanding conduct, but it does guarantee demanding transparency, checking the power and pursuing the justice… the ability to speak freely is perhaps the most essential check on runaway power….In a democracy, no matter what goes wrong, the rule of law ultimately prevails…But no process better highlights the connection between US and India – and their disconnect with China – than the peaceful transfer of power. In a democracy, protocols exist to handle even the most unforeseen circumstances…The good news for China is that if it ever does decide to embrace democracy, India, more so than US, can provide a shining example of successful, multi-national state….In the meanwhile, India and US will draw closer, driven by a mutual appreciation of their democratic institutions, their drift towards centre, and the desire to overcome the diplomatic obstacles still blocking their way.

In “Treading Softly”, with a very speaking subtitle of ‘The Race to Win Investors and Other Admirers’ Raghav Bahl takes a very close look at the grass-root economic factors that can make, or unmake, India’s foray to the SuperEconomy club. In atmosphere that sometimes it takes more than three days just to transport goods across a state boundary…. Investors driven strictly by short-term bottom-line considerations would chose China. Gurcharan Das says that, ‘India is rising from below, unlike China which is rising from above. From below is more enduring, happens irrespective of who is ruling, the people make it happen’. What India needs, Gurcharan Das says, is a strong liberal state. Such a state would have the authority to take quick, decisive action; it would have the rule of law to ensure those actions are legitimate; and finally, it would be accountable to the people. But achieving this will not be easy, says Das, because India has historically had a weak state and a strong society.[ Reference: India Grows at Night : A Liberal Case for a Strong State][1] . In a Goldman Sachs Report “Ten Things for India to Achieve its 2050 Potential’ (Jim O’Neill and Tushar Poddar, 2008) notes that India could be 40 times bigger by 2050. For this to happen, it needs to implement many changes like improve the governance, control inflation, introduce credible fiscal policy, liberalize financial markets, increase trade with neighbours, raise its basic education standards, increase quality and quantity of its universities, boost agricultural productivity, improve its infrastructure and environmental quality……Hard power may still come more easily to China than soft power, but as it settles into the role of SuperEconomy, it will eventually figure out how to win hearts and minds naturally, instead of by cold calculations.

The Ties That Bind” is the Raghav Bahl analysis of The Power of the Indian Diaspora. In the globalized Age of SuperEconomies, the diaspora populations hold unprecedented economic and diplomatic advantage. Of all the America’s diaspora populations, Indians are the highest-earning ethnic group, in the fields from media to medicine….Other immigration groups view unparalleled success of America’s Asian Indians with a mix of admiration ad envy….Americans’ attitude towards Asians in their midst are inseparable from their feelings about Asia itself…Indian Americans may be the secret key to securing India’s future both as a twenty-first century SuperEconomy and as a steadfast US ally.

Raghav Bahl thus completes his panoramic analysis of the factors that brings India at the present critical junction of its future journey to the SuperEconomy status.

In the concluding part, on 6th March, 2016, we will join Raghav Bahl to see ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’.

[1] India Grows at Night: A Liberal Case for a Strong State

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Music from films The Books I read

Melodies, Movies & Memories – Nalin Shah

Movies, Memories and Melodies - Nalin Shah

Melodies, Movies & Memories – Nalin Shah © 2016
Publisher: Saarthak Prakashan, Ahmedabad ǁ Price: Rs. 300
ISBN: 978 – 93 – 84076 – 17 – 7 ǁ Buy Online

 

 

 

“The act of writing on vintage Hindi Music is akin to documenting the Ganga without having any idea of Gangotri”, writes Urvish Kothari in the preface to a well – known writer of film history-related articles, Nalin Shah’s maiden book Melodies, Movies & Memories.

nalin shahHowever to Nalin Shah, the obsession of the vintage Hindi films and its music is rooted in his early boyhood, when he wrote articles for various Gujarati periodicals on the subject of vintage film music. Later on, his writings for Filmfare, G (a film magazine of Vaju Kotak’s Chitralekha group), Playback & Fast Forward, The Pioneer, The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Hindu, Mid-day etc. attained the stature for their authentic content, objective point-of- view and accurate analysis. ‘Writing for press enabled (Nalin Shah) to reflect on artistes as people and their place in the wider world. As a Development Officer at Life Insurance Corporation of India, in his primary professional career, Nalin Shah also had had frequent opportunities to travel to different cities all over India. These helped him to clarify his thought-process, as well as to check (and many times cross-check and re-check) and to verify “facts”. All these experiences and interactions then were distilled into lucid and engrossing stories, covering a wide panorama of subjects. He has conducted lecture-demonstrations on the history of film music and staged audio-visual shows on KL Saigal, Naushad, Khemchand Prakash, New Theatres, Mehboob Khan, Bombay Talkies. We now get to read these stories between the two covers in the present book.

In spite of relatively active publishing of film related works, the fact remains that over the years, different communication channels of the industry, like Gramophone companies, or the public communication media or the film correspondents or journalists, as a whole has not enough to preserve or document the multiple facets of the film-making, its music and its history. The advent of internet and the evolving digital platforms have been now very imaginatively been put to use by some of the very dedicated, little-known film enthusiasts to supplement the very pioneering and path-breaking works in the print media in so far as the first two decades of the Hindi Films and its world of music. Nalin Shah’s present book is not simply a documentation of history nor is it the plain narratives of stories. While maintaining very high standards of reporting, he develops story in quite an interesting style of writing. He has also been very particular in maintaining a professional arm’s length objectivity even with people, events or songs for which he has developed a deep personal like or proximity. Here is one typical illustration, picked up from the very first chapter – In Search of Gold – of the book:

I find the music of 1940s more enchanting than anything heard before or after. The music of 1950s too was extremely melodious though more ostentatious. The decline started in 1960s….However, the relevance of term ‘Golden’ to a musical age is dependent on many factors including the time and the environment. But the academic question cannot take away the appeal of any music composed at any time if it has an inherent charm.

The book apparently does not have very specified divisions, in terms of the subjects of the contents of the stories. But a little more analytical view reveal a few discerning patterns of presentations of the subject matters.

Subjects, like travails of the artistes through the days of glittering Sunrise adulations to abject poverty or loneliness of the Sunset days or A Matter of Inspiration behind a particular song have been dealt with in fairly insightful details.

Nalin Shah’s discerning choice of songs to illustrate or emphasize the matter of the subject, on one hand imparts high clarity to the point of view being presented, and on the other hand helps the reader to rekindle memories of some of very rare gems of that era.

The book also has very judiciously enriched the memories of the era with the help of some very rare photographs of the artistes with whom Nalin Shah has maintained personal contacts. References to these rare songs and use of these photographs elevate the book to a level of a collector’s prized trophy.

Nalin Shah with Naushad at Viramgam where Naushad wanted to revive his past in Viramgam before the start of his career as music director
Nalin Shah with Naushad at Viramgam where Naushad wanted to revive his past in Viramgam before the start of his career as music director

When the author takes up the subjects of reasons and aftermath of break up music duos or the First Lady of Hindi Film Music directors (Saraswati Devi), the Rhythm in Songs, or the legendary tales of Peti- masters (as the music directors were then known), he seems to have chosen a very concise narrative format to drive his point of view home.

The articles, like The End of an era – Studios and Institutions, Vintage Music – The Saviour or Radio Ceylon: Jane Kahan Gaye Who Din, not only place some of the otherwise hazy or misattributed or misinformed records straight, but also have documented some of the pioneering and path-breaking roles played by several individuals. Some of these endeavours reached the status of the institutions that left profound impact on the industry. It would not be out of place to record at this stage, that articles of this stature, and any other representation for that matter, can go a long way in building up the right type of public opinion about the different aspects of films.

The role of lyricists also has been given its due recognition in the book. The portrayal of how different lyricists tackled the themes for a particular song or the how the use of the original literary works of the poet-lyricists have been used with or without modifications or the role of a lyricist or the music director or the star who enacted in on the screen is spread over different articles – The Writer’s Dominance, The Poet’s Lament and The Song, ShAIR and the Star.

In any historical perspective analysis, the topics like how much role the destiny played in making the preeminent position of Lata Mangeshkar in the post-partition years or how would the music scene have taken shape if Noorjehan had chosen not to migrate to Pakistan have always remained quite contentious and thorny issues of the debate among film critics, historians and fans. In ‘Daughter of Destiny – Why a Lata Can Not Be Reborn’ and ‘Noorjehan, Lata and Partition’, Nalin Shah has succeeded in balancing the facts with perceptions and opinions.

We also get the taste of Nalin Shah’s considered forthright views on the subjects of film awards in ‘A Matter of Awards’, ‘Phalke, Who ?’ or ‘An Award named ‘Lata Mangeshkar’’.

The author also opines that ‘Moral Values’ in films not necessarily reflect the times but the degeneration in the minds of the films maker. Whilst on the subject, he does not miss the opportunity to record ‘the irony that delinquent film-makers welcome the controversy that can help generate some free publicity for a product which may otherwise may not be that sale-able on its own merits.

The book also finds adequate space for other contemporary subjects of Menace of Remix or The Genesis of Piracy, which underscore the fact that no one can claim to be holier than thou. The big service can be made if the original (genuine) music is ‘made available at an affordable price to the public.

‘Melodies, Movies and Memories’ must have scratched only the tip of vast treasure of treasure of documents, photographs and memories of insightful anecdotes that Nalin Shah has very assiduously built along with his “enviable storehouse of 78-RPM records”. We fondly hope that when the book is published in a digital format of e-book, addition of the soundtracks of the songs that have been referred to in the book also (as far as possible) be added on to make this book as the most memorable and immortal gift that a person who has been witness to more than half of the life span of the Hindi Film industry can bequeath the future generations.

We join the publishers in wishing that the present book “is just a precursor to many more”.

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Super Economies: The Settings of an International Plot: Shall or Shall Not?

Super Economies

America, India, China and The Future of World
By Raghav Bahl
ISIN: 978-06-7008-812-6 ǁ Publishers: Random House ǁ Price: Rs. 699/-

In the first part, we looked at the preamble that Raghav Bahl builds for his case for India’s potential case in the coveted SuperEconomy club. In this second part, we look at the Raghav Bahl’s separate chapter-wise exploration of the past events of the international stage, wherein the involvement US, China and India, translated into the future case of ‘Shall it or shall it not ?’ for India’s Super Economy status.

Super economies 2In “From Falling Towers to Falling Tickers”, Bahl sees “The Dawn of Super Economy Era”. The events of 9/11uninteionally created the new opportunities for the developing nations, hastened the levelling of global playing field, ushering in new geopolitical order, whose contours would be boldly sharpened by the collapse of Lehman Brothers seven years later. The three most important words of the decade following 9/11 turned out to be not ‘war on terror’ but ‘made in China’ – be it supply of cheap goods or pouring in of Chinese savings into US Dollar….It was no accident that ubiquitous term now used to describe the first wave of globalization – BRIC(S)- was coined in aftermath of 9/11. The customised model of these countries, based essentially on free-market capitalization, allowed India and China to heal quickly from the wounds of 2008 financial meltdown.

Raring to Go” focuses on “A Growing Concert of Democracies” in the face of newly assertive China’s experiment to strengthening its grip over trade and diplomacy. Rare Earths became the symbol. By the turn of 20th century, China was supplying over 90% of world’s rare earth metals, even though its own resources were of the order of third of the global reserves. The true extent of China’s stranglehold on rare earth became alarmingly clear after a show-down with Japan in September, 2010. Even as it denied any official embargo, the shipments of rare earths to Japan drastically dwindled. China’s efforts to improve order and price leverage unintentionally driven the revival of global rare-earth production in the US and allied democracies. The united economic power of the democratic world proved to be an antidote to China’s combativeness.

Neutral No More” portrays the developments in Burma during the end-of-20th-century-beginning-of-21st-century. During the course of mid-20th century, Burma’s relation kept swinging between India and China. However nullifying the results of 1990 elections, the Military Junta sought to isolate Burma back towards democratic reforms by way of series of trade and economic sanctions. That gave China a right window to enlarge influence in the resource-rich land. However, by mid-1990s, India’s leadership began to adopt a ‘strategic realistic policy’, which favoured the limited engagement with Burma’s military rulers. Burmese military leadership’s wariness of Chinese-backed Maoist insurgency in the hills went on to aggravate over a period of time. So the Junta started diversifying its support system. India went on balancing its relationship with autocratic regime on one hand and the pro-democracy movement on the other hand. By 2011, the Junta was disbanded and was replaced by nominally civilian government. The new government hardly lost any time in unchaining Chinese shackles over its economy. Burma was now deftly playing the same multi-alignment game, mastered by the countries such as Kazakhstan in trying to escape the Soviet-Russian sphere of bear-hug influence. With most recent win Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD the sense of transformation is now palpable.

The Burmese Story reinforces the efficacy of rare-earth showdown coordination of the democratic nations to counteract Chinese adventurism. India’s new strategic ties with countries, as varied as Japan, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam, erstwhile Soviet-bloc countries as well as its neighbours continues to gain its strong impetus against the mighty dragon under PM Narendra Modi’s present central government too.

A Region at Sea” maps, primarily, South China and, secondarily, the Indian Ocean, as the main theatres of rivalry for the 21st century Super Economies. The fact that 80% China’s oil imports travels through the crowded Strait of Malacca across South China Sea partly underscores the strategic importance of the erstwhile historic events. China appears keen to expand its presence not only in South and East China Seas but also in Indian Ocean, where it has ‘helped’ in ramping up the ports in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

China’s increasing marine power has spurred small littoral states like Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia to bolster their naval capabilities. Though, albeit tentatively. India keeps backing their tiffs with China.

China’s actions in South China Sea have tested the alignments of 21st century in much the same way its approach to Burma and rare-earth metals did. Deterring China in the South China Sea has proven far more challenging for Team Democracy than solving rare-earth crisis or winning over Burma. For one thing, many Chinese harbour an unshakable conviction that their sovereign claims are legitimate. At the same time, it also believes that US has absolutely no legitimate claim to the region, and is merely using its power to egg on China’s rival claimants….Fortunately, China is not eager enough incite actual military conflict in Asia’s waters.

In the age of Super Economies, the most promising bulwark against Chinese creep comes not from US but from the rapidly strengthening bond between Japan and India. Outwardly, Asia’s two largest democracies have little in common, but their cultural and religious connections stretch back to centuries.

To be sure, India and Japan have gone out of their way to reassure China their goal is not containment. As their bond solidified, the language of Indo-Japanese partnership grew less circumspect….To hedge its bets, China has explored broad new west-oriented foreign policy.

The fact remains that the today’s world powers don’t need to choose between being rival or allies; they can be both, or neither. Managing such bifurcated relationship requires a revolutionary kind of teamwork, careful coordination of policy, purpose and rhetoric among the like-minded countries.

Aligned With India, But Allied With Pakistan” is ‘The Great American Paradox’. The 9/11 incidents linked Osama Bin Laden’s liquidation, US presence in Afghanistan and similar incidents led to sinking of Pakistani public opinion of America to the lowest. Correspondingly, Americans too did not think much better of Pakistanis…The imploding US-Pakistan alliance heartened – or less surprised – India. The cross border sponsoring of extremist terrorism seems to have accelerated the convergence of US-India strategic interests. For America, the old adage – India can be friend, but not ally and Pakistan can be an ally but not a friend – was seen to be turned upside down. Pakistan was behaving neither like a friend nor like an ally and India was suddenly exhibiting signs of becoming both.

With Osama Bin Laden dead and Afghanistan’s future uncertain, what was left of US-Pakistan partnership quietly unravelled…One of the tensest issues between them was nukes – or rather, the security of nuclear armament in the hands of Pakistan. As the only Muslim-majority country in the world with a successful nuclear weapons programme, Pakistan would be the first stop for Islamic radicals looking for nuclear option. Pakistan’s continuing ability to secure nuclear arms remains suspect in US eyes.. As Pakistan’s behaviour grew increasingly defiant and irrational, the US found itself looking more and more to India. While preparing for departure from Afghanistan, India seemed more in place to occupy the US space. So far, India’s assistance to Afghanistan has been entirely economic and humanitarian…The continued instability in Afghanistan seems to raise the risk of India – Pakistan (probably nuclear, this time) war. The best option to try to reduce Pakistan’s India-obsession is to increase the cross-border trade and transit between the two countries. Another option is for India to rise above squabbling and push for progress on the Kashmir issue, fostering the dialogue while reducing it military presence and addressing humanitarian abuses…But the best hope may yet come from another giant presence lurking on the border – China. China has remained on the side-lines for most of the Afghan conflict; however it has started adopting a more active role once the present theatre starts to wind down. China also continues to exert subtle pressure on Pakistan t crack down harder on terrorism if its wants their economic relationships to grow.

Afghan region could end up being the first great theatre of Super Economic collaboration among US, China and India. Unlike in South China Sea or the Indian Ocean, where they play a competitive game of brinkmanship, their strategic interests align in seeing an orderly, growing AfPak as their best chance for curbing terrorism and advancing peace and prosperity in the region, and beyond.

We will continue with Raghav Bahl’s detailed background analyses in the next part – Super Economies: America and India – Heritage Link, Democratic States – Positives Enough for Convergence !? on 21st February, 2016………………….

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Super Economies: A New Century, A New Power Dynamics

Super Economies

America, India, China and The Future of World

By Raghav Bahl

ISIN: 978-06-7008-812-6 ǁ Publishers: Random House ǁ Price: Rs. 699/-

Super economies 1Our times are characterized not by estranged superpowers building formidable arsenals, but by engaged societies building a robust global economy. Emerging countries are redefining the geo-economical (and geopolitical) dynamic in the new world order; a soaring GDP and a booming population are the new indicators of a nation’s strength.

The 21st century will be led by a handful Super Economies – large, prosperous counties with a fairly high growth rate, ranking among the world’s top trade partners, commanding 15 to 20 % of global GDP; having nuclear arms but using economic leadership to effect significant changes.

A New Century, A New Power Dynamics

The WWII rearranged geopolitical landscape to produce the Age of Superpowers. From ‘50s through end of ‘80s was the period of great Cold War conflict between the Soviet block and US and its allies. Even as the political conflict pivoted around ideological – communism vs. democracy or capitalism – eyeball-to-eyeball real ground realities were played through nuclear arms race. Only when Berlin Wall fell in 1989 did the Cold War end, and with it the bipolar Superpower era. For quite some time, USA ruled supreme.

Between 9/11 attack and subprime meltdown of 2008, America’s place as numero uno power of the old world was deeply shaken. BRIC(S) economies had started to emerge as alternative power centre in the beginning of 21st century. If the 20th century power rested mainly on in the hands of bureaucrats, country’s military was its main instrument of influence. This is now replaced by power of the marketplace in which economic prowess emerged more influential than the military strength in driving the global agenda. What Superpowers achieved with missiles and warships, The Super Economies seek to achieve with economic leadership, organising multilateral trade dialogues, setting the terms of inter-country engagement and using tough negotiations to establish everything from exchange rates to climate policy.

The Super Economy recognises the superior value of ‘soft power’ – what Joseph Nye defined as the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments[1] – and is adept at deploying its economic and cultural assets to win influence.

Even after the major disasters of 9/11 and 2008 financial meltdown, USA has recovered economical as emotional Super Economy leadership role. Even as large part of old economic activities or low-end activities of current times remaining off-shore, US has carved out its prowess in high-tech fields like nanotechnology and digital manufacturing, advanced software(s), composite materials or 3-D printing to name a few. Crumbling big-city infrastructure has spawned creative public-private partnerships to undertake the repairs and reconstruction. Otherwise erstwhile advanced economies of Europe or Japan are beset with varying degree of structural constraints.

Of all the emerging economies, China has earned the spurs of Super Economy. Its Purchasing Power Parity adjusted GDP has surpassed that of USA, for the first time in 40 years. The recent surfacing of some major issues and too rapid economic growth has given birth to a hot new debate on the US-China race outcome. Most of the Western economists firmly bet for American supremacy in the foreseeable future. However it should be noted that they do not manifest confidence, in equal measure, in pushing aside the long term Chinese dominance of world affairs.

While the Europe dominated the 20th century, the Indian Ocean is clearly accepted to occupy the centre of attention, in military and economic terms. For the first time in 500 years, the bulk of global resides in Asia.

That puts India in the right place at the right time. Raghav Behl bets strongly in India taking over as Super Economy in wake of decisive mandate in favour in wake of decisive mandate in favour of the present Narendra Modi led BJP/NDA government. This is in spite of India being critically hobbled by among other things political extremism, corruption and expanding rich-poor divide. [2] China’s rise an economic superpower has unintentionally helped India and USA into a closer strategic alignment.

Raghav Behl goes on to trace India’s potential journey to Super Economy status through several happenings and factors, each one being presented as a separate chapter, which we will take up on 2nd February, 2016,  in the next part of this article.

[1] Joseph Nye on Soft Power

[2] Will India become a Superpower? – Ramchandra Guha