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Book Talk: Ice Station Zebra by Alistair Maclean

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Ice Station Zebra

Alistair Maclean

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.

    Ice Station Zebra is a 1963 thriller novel written by Scottish author Alistair Maclean. It marked his return to Arctic setting. After completing this novel, whose plot line parallels real-life events during the Cold War, Maclean retired from writing for three years. In 1968 it was loosely adapted into a film by the same name.

Plot

    Drift ice Station Zebra, a British metereological station built on an ice floe in the Arctic Sea, suffers a catastrophic oil fire. When, several of its men die, and their shelter and supplies are destroyed. The survivors hole up in one hut with little food and warmth.

    To salvage the situation. The (fictional) American nuclear powered submarine USS Dolphin is dispatched on a rescue mission. But just before it departs, Dr. Carpenter, the narrator, is sent to accompany it. Carpenter’s background is unknown. But he claims that he is an expert in dealing with frostbite and other deep-cold medical conditions. And, he carries his orders from the Chief of Naval Operations of the United States Navy. Commander Swanson, the Dolphin submarine captain, is suspicious of Carpenter. He calls in his superior Admiral Garvie. Garvie refuses to allow Carpenter on board without knowing his mission. So, under duress, Carpenter finally reveals that the ice station is actually a highly equipped listening post, keeping watch for nuclear missile launches from the Soviet Union, a statement that convinces both the commander and the admiral.

    The Dolphin reaches the Arctic ice-pack, and dives under it. It surfaces in a break in the ice and succeeds in making a tenuous radio contact with Ice Station Zebra. Carpenter confides to the Captain that the commander of the station is his brother. Having obtained a bearing on the station, the Dolphin dives again, and succeeds in finding a lead five miles from the station and breaks through a crack in the ice above. Carpenter, Executive Officer Hansen, and two of the crewmen are put above on the ice-pack. They make the journey to the station through an Arctic storm on foot. Taking with them as many supplies as they can. They reach Zebra after a near-impossible trek, only to find that eight of the men on the station are dead, while 11 others are barely alive. While investigating the corpses, Carpenter finds that one of them has even been shot. They find that their radio has been damaged, and so Carpenter and Hansen return to the Dolphin. The US submarine moves close to the station, and finding no open water, blows a hole in the ice using a torpedo.

    The sick men are taken care of by the Dolphin. Carpenter does some more investigation, and finds that the fire was no accident. In fact it was only a cover to hide the three dead men who were murdered, one of whom was his brother. He also discovers several unburned supplies hidden at the bottom of a hut, while Swanson finds a gun hidden in a petrol tank. The surviving members of Zebra are now brought on board the Dolphin, and the station is abandoned. While still under the ice, a fire breaks out in the engine room and the submarine is forced to shut down its nuclear reactor. Finally, the crew succeeds in saving the ship, after several hours of hard labour, where Swanson’s ingenuity plays a big part.

    Carpenter calls a meeting of the survivors, and announces that the fire was no accident. He reveals that he is an MI6 (British Intelligence) officer, and that his real mission was to retrieve photographic film from a reconnaisance satellite that has photographed every missile base in the US. The film had been ejected from the satellite so that Soviet agents operating under cover at Zebra could retrieve it. Carpenter’s brother had been sent to the station to prevent this. Carpenter finally reveals the identity of the Russian agents, and successfully retrieves the film.

Synopsis written by Kamlesh Tripathi

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

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now 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

(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

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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Short story: LEGACY OF INVENTIONS

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    What might be good for you may not be good for your nation, and what might be good for your nation, may not be good for humanity. What is good for today, may not be good for tomorrow, but may be good for day after, and again a disaster for the day- day-after.

    Thinkers, scientists, innovators and inventors may create something with a noble intention. But crooked minds traversing mother earth may hijack it for sinister motives. To come to think of it, inventions leave a legacy behind. Where, some may turn out to be the serenades of life, while some the hounding baggage, difficult to carry.

    When Sir Alexander Fleming, Scottish biologist and botanist discovered Penicillin in 1928, he shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine the same year. Penicillin later developed into antibiotics used for killing microorganisms; and since then it has saved many lives and has reduced the agony of so many sick people. Fleming therefore must have left the world with pleasant memories about his invention.

    Realising what he had created—Dynamite! A high intensity explosive that could have been a bane for the society. Alfred Nobel bequeathed his fortune to institute the Nobel Prize for noble causes. Perhaps, he could visualise in his lifetime the ominous calamity that could be struck with dynamite that he had invented. And to offset that he instituted this prestigious award.

    While Eadweard Muybridge commonly referred as the ‘father of the motion picture’ must have exited the world with pleasant memories. The same can’t be said about Lieutenant General Mikhail Kalashnikov the inventor of AK-47 assault rifle, even when he invented it for his country. He was born to a peasant woman and was an Orthodox Christian. He rose to be a Russian General with sterling innovative attributes, but on hindsight his inventions appear to be for the wrong causes.

    Approximately 100 million AK-47 assault rifles were produced by 2009, and about half of them are counterfeit, manufactured at a rate of about a million a year. Kalashnikov maintained in his lifetime, that his rifle was a ‘weapon for defense and not a weapon of offence.’ Yet countless unwarranted killings must have taken place through this invention.

    Kalashnikov claimed he was always motivated by service to his nation than money. But then, what was once good for the nation could have been used by myriads of terrorists in illegal and dreadful killings.

    In the final years of his life he was saddened and anguished over his awry responsibility for the millions of deaths that his invention caused, reveals his published letter to the head of the Russian Church.

    In his various public interviews, Kalashiikov who died at the age of 94 insisted that he created the AK-47 assault rifle and dozens of other firearms as a means to protect his country, and rejected the responsibility for killings, perpetrated by militants and terrorists using his weapons.

    “My soul ache is unbearable and has one irresolvable question: if my rifle took lives, does it mean that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov, aged 93, a peasant woman’s son, an Orthodox Christian in faith, is guilty of those people’s deaths, even if they were enemies?” the leaked letter reads. He wrote the letter sometime before his death.

    Even when he was baptized as a child, he spent most of his life as an atheist, living in an officially atheist country. It was only at the age of 91 that he felt the call of faith and answered. And as he was approaching the end of his life some doubts lingered in his mind. That perhaps, through his invention he gave a chance to millions of miscreants … to massacre innocents.

    Surely, inventions do leave a legacy behind, and some legacies are insurmountable for the soul. But sadly the inventor only realizes this when its too late and when he is at the twilight of his life.

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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:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

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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Only a skilled nation can create national wealth

Copyright@shravancharitymission

 

 

Analysis: 50% of the world’s wealth remains with 4-5 countries

    “National wealth” refers to the total value of wealth possessed by the citizens of a nation at a set point in time. That is, the total value of wealth and goods generated by all economic activity in a particular nation.

    It is also referred as the national (net) wealth, or the national net worth, or even the gross national wealth (GNW); summing up to the total national wealth and is the total sum value of wealth possessed by the citizens of a nation at any given point of time.

    This figure of national wealth is an important indicator of a nation’s ability to take on debt and sustain spending. It is influenced, not only by real estate prices, but also by the stock market, human resources, technological advancements which may create new assets or render other worthless. It is also steered by the national infrastructure and exchange rates. Remember, for value creation optimum skill levels are a must for any nation and therefore skill building is an important ingredient, required to augment national wealth.

    The most significant component by far among most developed nations is commonly reported as household net wealth or worth, and also reflects infrastructure investment. National wealth can fluctuate, as evidenced in the US data (to follow) following the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent recovery.

    There are 196 countries in the world today. If we compare the national wealth figures of the first 30 major countries we will come across an interesting paradigm as below:

ANALYSIS … HOW CHINA FORGES AHEAD

  • The world’s wealth has grown from 117,225 billion USD in 2000 to 171,577 in 2005, up to 216,374 in 2010 and to 250,145 in 2015. This is a cumulative growth of 113% over the last 15 years and an average annual growth rate of 7.5%.
  • USA remains the richest in terms of national wealth and also a consistent performer since 2000 to 2015. In 2000 it had a national wealth of 42,941 billion USD which has grown to 85,901 billion USD in 2015. This is a cumulative growth of 100% over 15 years and an average annual growth rate of 6.67%.
  • The national wealth of the US in 2000 was 42,941 billion USD, a little more than the national wealth of Japan, UK, Germany, Italy and China, put together.
  • The national wealth of the US in 2005 was 59,664 billion USD, a little more than the national wealth of Japan, UK, France, Italy and Germany, put together.
  • The national wealth of the US in 2010 declined from 59,664 billion USD by 4.27% to 57114 on account of the economic crisis, but it still remained more than the combined national wealth of countries such as Japan, China and France, put together. China by 2010 had become a major skill development country and thereby started generating wealth. It would not be wrong to say that 50% of the wealth of the world is controlled by only four or five countries.
  • By 2015 the national wealth of the US had increased to 85,901 billion USD, a little more than the combined wealth of five economic super powers such as China, Japan, UK, France and Germany.
  • China’s policy of underscoring on skill development under the banner of human resources gave encouraging results when its national wealth from 4664 billion USD in 2000 went up to 8674 in 2005 and to 17505 in 2010 and finally to 22817 in 2015. And from 6th position in 2000 it has jumped to 2nd position in 2015 in terms of national wealth.
  • India on the contrary from 14th position out of 196 countries in 2000 jumped marginally to 12th position in 2005 and to 11th position in 2010, but slumped back to 14th position in 2015. Its national wealth was 1163 billion USD in 2000, 2142 billion USD in 2005, 3788 billion USD in 2010, and 3447 billion USD in 2015. It has cumulatively grown by 196% with an average growth rate of 13%. But it is not enough when we compare it with world standards and our political establishment needs to understand this. India requires wide spread skill development if it wants to grow its national wealth. A lesson we need to learn from China where there is no opposition when it comes to policies affecting national wealth.
  • 50% of the world’s wealth in the year 2000 was with super economic powers such as the USA, Japan and the UK. This changed somewhat in 2010 where 50% of the world’s wealth was held by the USA, Japan, UK and France, and this further changed in 2010 when 50% of the wealth of the world was held by USA, Japan, China (China replaced UK) and France. In 2015 the scenario further changed when China jumped to the second position next to the US leaving behind Japan to a close third.
  • Canada with 35 only million people has maintained a steady 8th position in the world. In 2000 it had a national wealth of 2,469 billion USD. This rose to 4277 in 2005, to 6212 in 2010 and finally to 6872 in 2015. Its cumulative growth in 15 years has been 178% with an average growth rate of 11.88%. But it has failed to take a quantum leap because it doesn’t have great reserve of skill bank which it is largely importing from other countries now. It also has a huge geographical territory and it remains to be seen how in times to come it will manage its huge assets with such a meagre population.
  • South Korea has turned into another industrial giant by lifting its skill levels. It rose from the 16th position where it had a national wealth of 1089 billion USD in 2000, to 2149 billion USD in 2005 at 11th spotBut it slumped back to 14th position in 2010 even when it increased its national wealth to 2791 billion USD. But in 2015 it jumped to 12th spot with a national wealth of 3545 billion USD.
  • Greece with its economic crisis, a typical example has crashed to the 30th spot in 2015 with 743 billion USD from the 23rd spot in 2000 with a national wealth of 493 billion USD.
  • Russia with the roots of once a super power has stagnated from 3150 in 2000 to 1284 USD billion in 2015 but has gone up notches from 30th to 23rd

    The point of essence—mere size of population doesn’t increase national wealth. One has to individually create it for the nation. And you can create, only if you have the skill. The US remains the leader in this field with a population of 310 million people which is less than one third of the population of India. Even Canada with only 35 million people generates more revenue than India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is by far on track by underscoring on skill development in India.

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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

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)

*****