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LITERARY CORNER: “Jallianwala Bagh: An Empire of Fear and the Making of the Amritsar Massacre,” by Kim A Wagner.

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    Time doesn’t dilute the scars of hateful crimes. I’m pointing at the “Jallianwala Bagh” massacre, a crime perpetrated by Brigadier General Reginald Dyer. People who died in that slaughter, I’m sure, must be turning in their graves on each anniversary of the crime that was unleashed on April 13, 1919 by this devil. With that logic the victims by now must have turned at least a hundred times in their proverbial grave. But the apology from the British is yet to come. This monster, Brigadier Dyer later died on 23 July 1927. Winston Churchill called him a rotten apple simply to disavow his own responsibility.

    But then the rotten apple grew in his own backyard colony called India. General Dyer is also called, “the Butcher of Amritsar,” because of his order to fire repeatedly on a crowd of peaceful protesters. This resulted in the murder of at least 500-600 people and injuries to over a thousand more. Subsequently, Dyer was removed from duty and widely condemned both in Britain and in India. But he became a celebrated hero among some with connections to the British Raj. Some historians argue the episode was a decisive event towards the end of the British rule in India.

    Many books have been written on this particular massacre. Latest being “Jallianwala Bagh: An Empire of Fear and the Making of the Amritsar Massacre,” by historian Kim A Wagner. Wagner teaches, the history of colonial India and the British Empire at Queen Mary, University of London. He has written extensively on the subject of ‘Thuggee,’ the Indian Uprising of 1857, and resistance and colonial violence more generally in 19th and 20th century global history. The book has been published by Penguin, and the price is below Rs 500 in Amazon. Even though it has been a century since Brigadier General Reginald Dyer ordered Indian Army troops to open fire upon an unarmed crowd at Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919, the memory of it is still painful for Indians. British historian Kim Wagner has taken a fresh look at the incident in this book. There are some advance praises about the book, a couple of them are as follows:

  1. “In the cautionary tale provided in Jallianwala Bagh, it is enduring racist fear that lies at the heart of precipitate violence. Analytically sharp but gripping to read, the book is a page turner.”—says Barbara D. Metcalf, Co-Author of “A Concise History of India.”
  1. In the compelling yet exacting study Kim Wagner combines the intimacy of the storyteller and the distance of the historian to evoke the “micro story” of the massacre while understanding it as the “final stage of the much longer process”, stretching back to Sepoy Uprising. Mining a variety of sources—diaries, memoirs and court testimonies—he uncovers fresh perspectives and examines the relation between colonial panic and state brutality with sophistication, sincerity and style rare in published accounts of this much-trodden ground.”–says Santanu Das, Author of, “India, Empire and First War Culture.”

    The book gives a good overview of the massacre from all corners and all stakeholders. Was Jallianwala Bagh massacre a one-off incident, as portrayed back then and even today by many? The book tries to answer that. The author feels rather than being an unprecedented event, the Amritsar massacre revealed the racialized logic of a colonial violence, and we find the exact sentiments expressed by British officers involved in the suppression of the Indian Uprising of 1857, for instance.

    An apology that describes General Dyer as a rotten apple, which is, essentially what Winston Churchill said in 1920, is not an apology at all but rather an attempt to disavow any form of responsibility in terms of the Raj and the British Empire in general.

    There is often a debate about the troops who open fired. Some say they were Gorkhas and Pathan troops. The author with his research tries to clear the air when he says. There probably were a few Sikh troops also present but we have to remember that the British at the same time did not think of the local population in communal terms. Dyer refers to the protesters simply as ‘rebels.’ The composition of the force he took with him to ‘Jallianwala Bagh’ was largely accidental.

    To a question about Indian Army veterans who had served in World War-I, being among the unfortunate crowd that got killed and injured the eyewitnesses describe how veterans called out for people to lie down to avoid being shot, so there were clearly demobilised soldiers in the crowd.

    British Empire apologists often dismiss the Indian National Congress’s findings about the tragedy and settle for government estimates to save their skin. The Indian National Congress actually estimated that 500 had been killed but that 1,000 might not be an exaggerated estimate—based on the door-to-door inquiry made by local agencies, some 540 names were found, and the author feels that somewhere between 500 to 600 were killed and, perhaps, three times that many wounded.

    As per the book it was not a pre-meditated plan. Dyer believed he was entering a war zone and was fully prepared to shoot at anyone who defied his ban on public meetings. He did not know what the layout of the city or Jallianwala Bagh was. Once he arrived at the Bagh, he did not care much about who was actually present but simply open fired without using his brains.

   There is no evidence about the 120 bodies that were recovered from the well. Eye-witnesses describe one or two people falling in it, and Motilal Nehru and Madan Mohan Malviya thought they saw one or two bodies floating in the well, later that summer—which was nothing more than a clay-pot and some old clothes floating in the well. There was a merging of the canal feeding with the holy tank, which runs under Jallianwala Bagh, since we know that some people climbed into that to flee the bullets and that several bodies were later recovered.

    Lastly, Churchill denounced Dyer in 1920 but it was not because he found indiscriminate violence in the Empire unacceptable, but rather because Dyer’s actions made it so difficult to defend British rule in India. That is also why he was eager to depict Dyer and the massacre as ‘un-British.’

    The massacre has been portrayed in several movies, starting with Attenborough’s Gandhi. But author Kim Wagner thinks none of them make more impact than re-enact the set of visual tropes first deployed by Attenborough. There is almost a checklist of recurrent motifs, including Dyer ordering his troops to fire, and people throwing themselves into the well or getting crushed against a locked gate, crying kids sitting next to their dead parents. To break new ground in this respect would require a break from these filmic conventions.

    Jallianwalla Bagh is often the least talked about episode in the British circles but yes to an extent or rather to quite an extent during the trial it helped in understanding the British colonial policy. The Hunter Commission was set up partly to assuage moderate Indian nationalists and Montagu, the Secretary of State for India, never expected it to reveal the things it did. The fact that this was such a large inquiry, which elicited so much evidence, not least Dyer’s own testimony, means that this was probably the best-recorded colonial atrocity within the British Empire up till that point.

    Well if you’re interested in history and the sad chapters of Indian history this book is for you. Well written and great in detailing and largely unbiased barring certain chapters where you get some eerie feeling it sails through in the Indian Ocean without turbulence. A historians prime job is to lay down history in proper perspective where the author I think has not failed. I would give the book seven out of ten.

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi

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GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

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ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

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Rendezous with Yogendra Singh Yadav-Param Vir Chakra Awardee

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PARAM VIR CHAKRA AWARDEE—YOGENDRA SINGH YADAV

You cannot meet a better Indian.

     I had a rare opportunity of meeting Subedar Major Yogendra Singh Yadav on 11th February 2018, at Gorakhpur, while participating in the Lit-Fest there. Believe me. Yogendra is an electrifying, ironclad personality that is full of inspiration. 

    Param Vir Chakra (PVC) is the highest gallantry award for officers and other enlisted personnel of military branches of India. Which is given for the highest degree of conspicuous valour shown in the presence of the enemy.

    Introduced on 26th January 1950. This award can also be given posthumously.   As of January 2018 the medal has been awarded 21 times. Out of which 14 were posthumous and 16 arose from actions in Indo-Pakistani conflicts. Of the 21 awardees, 20 have been from the Indian Army, and one from the Indian Air Force. There are only three surviving PVC awardees today. Out of which only two recipients are still in active duty: Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav and Naib Subedar Sanjay Kumar.

     Subedar Major Yogendra Singh Yadav is a Junior Commissioned Officer of the Indian Army. He was awarded the highest military honour of India that is Param Vir Chakra, for his 4 July 1999 action during Kargil War—battle of Tiger Hill in the Dras sector.

    He was born on 10 May 1980, in district Bulandshahr of Uttar Pradesh. He is currently 38 years old. He is from the Grenadiers and his service number is 2690572.

    The actions of the fictional war hero Karan Shergill played by Hrithik Roshan in the Bollywood film Lakshya on Tiger Hill. Are a screen adaptation of the heroic deeds undertaken by among others, the platoon of Yadav, and give a vivid description of their arduous journey to capture the strategically placed bunkers on the 5307 metre high Tiger Hill from Pakistan.   

    Only two Param Vir Chakra recipients are still in active duty: Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav and Naib Subedar Sanjay Kumar.

    A big salute to them.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(Archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. Book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

Story of an Indian salesman who is lowly qualified but fights his ways through uncertainities to reach the top. A good read for all salesmen. Now available in Amazon.com

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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STONE PELTERS IN KASHMIR VALLEY

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Few lines on Kashmir Valley that is undergoing the worst of turmoils

“Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast”,

Which, translates to

“If there is ever a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here in Kashmir.”

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What should have been the valley of smiles,

Has turned into a stone pelters den,

A misguided nuisance,

Not in the interest of anyone.

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When Kashmir bleeds,

Separatists are relieved,

But when there is serene,

Separatists feel the demean.

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From valley to the mountains,

From lakes to the rivers,

From tourism to winter sports,

You have a whole lot of things.

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Nesting in between,

Korakoram and Zanskar,

Pir Panjal and Himalyas,

And in and around,

 Hazratbal, Mata and Amarnath,

You have so much to pride and revere.

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So, in those blessed and scenic surroundings,

What made you pick up stones?

What made you devastate your own home?

And what made you surrender to those rogues?

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What makes you feel India is not your own,

And Pakistan is your home,

The grass is not greener on other side,

Take it from someone who is known.

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Use the stones to build the valley,

Use the stones to preserve the valley,

Use the stones to kill the enemy,.

Use the stones to rip the separatist.

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India is your home,

Where you’ve grown,

So leave Pakistan alone,

And fight for your country’s throne.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

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Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(Archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. Book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

Story of an Indian salesman who is lowly qualified but fights his ways through uncertainities to reach the top. A good read for all salesmen. Now available in Amazon.com

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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CAUSERIE–AERIAL SIGNALS OF LOVE

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    I was young then. My uncle used to stay in Niralanagar, a posh colony of Lucknow that was not very far from my home. He had an adjacent neighbour. Who, happened to be a Flight Lieutenant with the Indian Air Force. His name was Palta. Attached to the transport squadron where he flew Dakotas, and was posted in Bakshi-ka-talab, the defence airport of Lucknow. His chic and suave wife was Rita. Good looking and quite in line with the upbeat image of the armed forces wives.

    He often used to pilot the morning flight at 7 a.m. to Guwahati. It used to take him about five to six hours. Because, enroute, he used to off-load cargo at Bagdogra airport in West Bengal. Next day he used to return in the same manner from his sojourn. Where, he normally used to take-off from Guwahati at seven. And, after touching Bagdogra again, he used to reach Lucknow by around 1 P.M.

    I often used to go to my uncle’s house those days, to meet my cousins. He had a huge terrace where we used to go and play. And, whilst on it. I often used to notice Rita aunty, sitting in one corner of the adjacent terrace, alone, with her umbrella open, under the hot sun. And, I used to wonder why. But I never bothered to ask.

    One day, when the suspense became unbearable. I decided to break it. So I asked, ‘Aunty, why do you come and sit under the hot sun?’ she smiled at me and asked.

    ‘Who are you?’

    ‘Well, I am Bina’s cousin. I often come here, to spend time with her. But each time I came here. I saw you sitting in that corner with your umbrella, under the hot sun. So, I thought of asking you.’ She looked at me and smiled and then said.

    ‘I must say you are very observant beta. I’m waiting for your uncle. He should be coming any moment now.’ And with that she grinned again. I didn’t quite understand what she meant. I began to mull, ‘waiting for uncle and that too on the terrace in the peak of summers.’ It really wasn’t making any sense to me.

    ‘But is he going to fall from the sky that you’re waiting here aunty?’ I asked a bit loudly. She laughed in amusement.

    ‘You want to see him coming?’

    ‘Yes aunty.’

    ‘Then just wait here.’

    The suspense was beginning to get interesting now. So I decided to wait. Even when it was lunch time and I was hungry. After about ten minutes I could hear the faint sound of an approaching aircraft. Soon, it grew louder. Is when, aunty stood up and closed her umbrella, and started waving at the aircraft that was now descending into the nearby airport and wasn’t very high. I then saw, the pilot had dipped the left wing of the aircraft. And after a little while it vanished behind the tall trees. Skyscrapers had not come up then so the view was clear. After the sound of the aircraft subsided, she looked at me and said. ‘That was your uncle.’ I asked.

    ‘How do you know Aunty?’

    ‘Didn’t you see? He dipped the wing of the aircraft until it went behind the trees. That signal was for me.

    ‘Aunty, but why did he do that?’

    She smiled again and said, ‘Beta to announce his arrival. Now I need to go and cook for him.’

    ‘And what will you cook?

    ‘That’s a good question. If he dips the left wing, it would mean non-veg. Right would mean veg. And, if he doesn’t dip either, that would mean no lunch. So bye for now as I need to get into the kitchen.’ And with that she went away.

    I was dazed for a moment. I too went down for lunch. And after about forty five minutes. I could hear the sound of Mr Palta’s bike.

    Many years have passed since then. I don’t even know where Mrs Palta is. But, I could never forget this small and sweet incident that reflects so much about her love and concern for her husband. And, last but not the least. How they learnt to communicate from the sky, with each other—like in semaphores. When, mobile phones were not invented and even landlines had a long wait.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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BOLLYWOOD, CRICKET & loc

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

indian-jawan

    At times it appears the Indian Army Jawan, who fights terrorism at the Line of Control is only fighting to save his own house, but in reality he is fighting for all of us. But the tragedy with Indians is that they show no solidarity with him. Our Prime Minister preaches so much about terrorism in all international forums. But back home India is a divided and selfish lot. People from all professions are only self-centered about themselves and their professions. We don’t realise by behaving in this insensitive manner tomorrow, people may desist from fighting for the country. What will happen then? There is indeed a greater need to feel for our brave jawans and we must perennially keep their morale high. Colonel Anil Chawla puts it quite beautifully.

…………………………………..

Col Anil Chawla, a serving soldier of the INDIAN ARMY wrote this:

Will sending Pakistani artists back, stopping cricket and business with Pakistan actually end terror from Pakistan?

No, it most certainly will not.

BUT there is an emotion called solidarity.

YOU CANNOT MAKE FILMS, PLAY CRICKET, AND DO BUSINESS AS IF EVERYTHING IS FINE, BECAUSE IT IS NOT.

indian-jawan-3indian-jawan2

It makes the soldier wonder aloud, “Why should I alone bear the weight of conflict?”

This conflict between India and Pakistan is not the soldier’s personal war. He is dying and killing for you and me. Imagine a situation in which the soldier felt, and behaved, like Salman Khan, Karan Johar and Mahesh Bhatt? Imagine if a soldier walked up to his superior and said, “Sir, while I am dying on the Line of Control, these people are going about as if everything is absolutely fine between the two countries.”

Why should he alone sacrifice for India, when others were making merry?

Patriotism and sacrifice is not the sole responsibility of the soldier.

The United States boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980, and the Russians did likewise when they boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. This is what happens when national interest is held paramount. And this is what must happen now.

18 families have been shattered like glass … But the pain of Fawad Khan’s departure is too much to bear, it seems …”

…………………………………

    Film Stars have nothing to do with terrorism…

    Singers have nothing to do with terrorism ….

    Writers have nothing to do with terrorism …

    Directors have nothing to do with terrorism …

    Performers have nothing to do with terrorism …

    Journalists have nothing to do with terrorism …

    Activists have nothing to do with terrorism …

    Cricketers have nothing to do with terrorism …

    Politicians have nothing to do with terrorism …

    Businessmen have nothing to do with terrorism …

    Professionals have nothing to do with terrorism …

    Lawyers have nothing to do with terrorism …

    Then for whom are the Jawans sacrificing their lives for?

    Jai Hind.

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POETRY: THE MIGHTY ABDULS OF INDIA

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abdul hamid abdul kalam indian flag

THE MIGHTY ABDULS OF INDIA

There is no alarm,

As India has the might of,

Abduls, Hamids and Kalams,

And so, there is no alarm.

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From battlefield to the drawing board,

From LOC to missiles,

They knew it all,

And all knew them,

For they dared all,

But no one dared them.

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In the line of duty,

Hamid laid himself,

And while leading the nation,

Kalam was way ahead.

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Kalam gave India the throb of missiles,

That could stare at the dare of any hostile,

And all drenched in technology and science,

He placed India in the rare club of nine.

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A teacher at heart,

A scientist by mind,

A genius by birth,

A politician not inclined,

A President by merit,

And a noble by credit.

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And epitome of simplicity,

Role model of youth,

Every bit an essence,

To India’s presence.

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You towered India,

To the scales of excellence,

But your job was not over,

When you suddenly left for heaven.

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While India will miss you,

India salutes you,

You rest in peace,

But bless young India to reap,

More Abdul’s and Hamid’s

For Mother land’s peace.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(Archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. Book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

Story of an Indian salesman who is lowly qualified but fights his ways through uncertainities to reach the top. A good read for all salesmen. Now available in Amazon.com

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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‘SIGHING’ OF GENERAL V K SINGH- IN PAKISTAN HIGH COMMISSION

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21

General V.K. Singh should have avoided sharing the stage with Hurriyat leaders in the Pakistan High Commission. For he shouldn’t have forgotten in his prime years he had served and commanded the prestigious Indian army that has thousands of martyrs who fell to the bullets of terrorists emanating out of Pakistan soil. And, his current position- the ministry, towards the twilight of his career is just an off shoot of his meritorious past.

He says he was asked to attend, as a protocol exercise, and, as an ardent and dutiful soldier, who refuses to disobey orders he attended. But sadly, it is not all that simple, especially when you’ve led one of the most reputed armies of the world.

And after having performed this imprudent duty he now should accede to his soldier conscience, which may well prick him now; and if it doesn’t I have no hesitation in calling him a turncoat. And, with all the soul searching humility and humanity at his command he is within strike range and has the option to resign for he must have made many war widows weep, with this one single gesture of his.

And as far as GOI is concerned, it humiliated Indians and especially the Indian Army by sending the Ex-Army chief who is supposed to battle it out; to a stage, shared by anti-nationals, when it could have sent someone much junior, only if it was a must; which it wasn’t.