Bombay based Anil Goel is a writer of a rare genre in India. He is passionate about anything associated with technology and enjoys writing tech thrillers. “Exit Point”, which is his second book, was recently launched and is based on real technology but stretches the limits of what are currently available and future possibilities.
He saw a computer for the first time in the Asiatic Supermarket at Churchgate and thus began his lasting passion for computers and anything technology related. Two decades later, he is currently the Vice President of Media and Entertainment for Accenture in Mumbai itself.
Mr. Anil Goel was born in Benaras and grew up in Mumbai. His passion and knowledge for technology is exceptional. He went on to graduate as “the best outgoing student” from his college in the 90s. Anil sees the miracle of technology in everything, including the universe itself and that is what awakened in the form of creative writing around technology.
His first novel “Release 2.0: The Bangalore Imperative” was a first of its kind and was widely appreciated in the media for its fast pace, imagination and understanding of the IT industry. “Exit Point” is a tech thriller that takes us into a dark, mysterious online world where an ancient mystery is finally unraveling after centuries. The investigation into the baffling death of a teenage girl takes on chilling proportions when it turns out that the girl had committed suicide a year ago and snowballs rapidly into a global crisis spreading across all of humanity via the internet.
He plans on writing at least three more tech thrillers in the foreseeable future.
By Nasim Yousaf
December 16, 1971 was a dark day in Pakistan’s history. On this day, Pakistan lost its east wing (now Bangladesh). The 1971 war and the separation of Pakistan’s two wings could have been avoided if then President of Pakistan, General Yahya Khan, had followed the advice of Air Officer Commanding, Air Commodore M. Zafar Masud, then the top Pakistani Air Force officer in East Pakistan.
Air Commodore Masud was a highly respected, brilliant fighter pilot. He was widely regarded as a potential future Chief of Air Staff for the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). In 1965, as Base Commander of PAF Base Sargodha (now PAF Base Mushaf), Masud became a war hero for his outstanding performance in the 1965 war with India. The pilots under his command, inspired by Masud’s courage and the tactical training he imparted, performed brilliantly during the war; these pilots included: the legendary M.M. Alam, Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui, Munir-ud-Din Ahmed, Alauddin Ahmed, Yunus Hussain, Mervyn L. Middlecoat, Cecil Chaudhry, Aftab Alam Khan, M. Anwar Shamim, Syed Saad Akhtar Hatmi, Syed Nazir Ahmed Jilani, Yusuf Ali Khan, and Jamal A. Khan.
In April of 1970, Masud was sent to Dhaka as the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) commander of the East wing. Masud arrived in Dhaka during a particularly trying time for the nation, as there was ongoing political turmoil and strife between the East and West wings of Pakistan. To provide a bit of background, during the general election of 1970, the Awami League political party (led by Sheikh Mujibur Rehman) had won the majority of seats in the National Assembly (NA). But President Yahya and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (Founder of the Pakistan People’s Party) were not in favor of Mujib emerging as Head of the Government. Yahya was concerned that if Mujib became the Prime Minister, then Yahya would have to relinquish the Presidency. Meanwhile, Bhutto, whose party had won the majority of seats in West Pakistan, was concerned that Mujib’s strong showing in the election would block his own path to becoming Prime Minister. Therefore Bhutto stated, “Udhar Tum, Idhar Hum” (“You rule there, we rule here”). Dawn (March 15, 1971) newspaper wrote, “Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto…said in Karachi yesterday that if power was to be transferred to the people before any constitutional settlement…it should be transferred to the majority party in East Pakistan ‘and the majority party here [West Pakistan]’” Bhutto’s statement can be interpreted to mean that he wanted a separation of East Pakistan, presumably so that he could become Prime Minister of West Pakistan (he publicly stated that he wanted a united Pakistan, but his actions indicated otherwise).
Yahya and Bhutto had a common interest in blocking Mujib from assuming power, and it seemed they were willing to use any means necessary to do so. When people began protesting Government attempts to block Mujib, the Government forcefully suppressed them. Meanwhile, on February 28, 1971, Bhutto demanded a postponement of the previously scheduled National Assembly session in Dhaka (originally planned for March 3, 1971). The purpose of the session was for Assembly members to vote on a new Prime Minister (presumably Mujib). The day after Bhutto’s demand, Yahya announced that the Session would indeed be postponed (Dawn, March 02, 1971); a few days later, he announced a new date of March 26, 1971 for the session. There was no justification for this postponement, other than to try to block Mujib from assuming the Prime Ministership.
On March 02, 1971, Mujib issued a statement deploring the postponement of the Assembly session and called for a public strike across the whole of East Pakistan (Pakistan Times, Lahore, March 03, 1971); the Bengalis observed the strike. The Government again responded to demonstrations with brutal force and violent suppression.
The Government’s strategy of trying to resolve a political issue with force was causing great dissension within its ranks. On March 01, 1971, Vice-Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan (Governor and Unified Commander of the Pakistan Armed Forces in East Pakistan), who was not in favor of using force, resigned in protest of Yahya and the Government’s handling of the situation in East Pakistan. Ahsan was replaced (on the same day, March 01, 1971) by Lieutenant General Sahabzada Yaqub Khan (Pakistan Times, March 02, 1971). Four days later (March 05, 1971), Yaqub Khan also resigned for the same reasons as Ahsan. Air Commodore Masud was then appointed as the Unified Commander of Pakistan Armed Forces in East Pakistan. Meanwhile, Lt. General Tikka was appointed as the Governor and Martial Law Administrator, Zone B.
The situation in East Pakistan was now reaching a boiling point, but the Government continued using force to suppress protestors. On March 7th, in a public speech Mujib called for independence from West Pakistan, although still leaving the door open for negotiation.
Despite the precarious situation, Yahya still had not realized the gravity of the circumstances. He didn’t bother to visit Dhaka to review the situation firsthand and try to resolve it. Masud was unhappy with the way President Yahya was handling the political turmoil. He felt that the uprising in East Bengal could not be suppressed through guns or violent means. Masud and others convinced Yahya to travel to Dhaka on March 15, 1971. Finally, Yahya arrived in Dhaka and held a meeting at the President’s House along with Masud and top brass from the Pakistani Army.
During the meeting, Air Commodore Masud briefed Yahya and the attendees of the meeting on the complexity and seriousness of the situation. Masud told President Yahya:
“The situation is very delicate. It is essentially a political issue and it needs to be resolved politically, otherwise thousands of innocent men, women and children will perish.”
Yahya replied, “Mitty, I know it…I know it…” Air Chief Marshal Jamal A. Khan further wrote in an article entitled, “Mitty Masud folds his wings” (Dawn, Karachi on October 13, 2003):
“Air Commodore Masud…for well over an hour gave a candid, fact-filled evaluation of the civil-military environment. He forcefully argued that the turmoil in East Pakistan could never be resolved with military force…”
Masud thus apprised President Yahya of the grave situation and explained the consequences of using violence to suppress the people, recommending a political solution instead. While in Dhaka, Yahya also held meetings with Mujib and on March 22nd a joint meeting with Mujib and Bhutto. But nothing fruitful came out of these meetings. To further block Mujib, Yahya once again, on March 22nd, announced a postponement of the National Assembly session without giving any rescheduled date (Pakistan Times, March 23, 1971).
Instead of coming up with a political solution to the situation in East Pakistan, Yahya and the top brass in the Pakistan Army decided to intensify their efforts against the Bengalis with the power of their guns. Prior to his departure for Karachi from Dhaka, Yahya issued orders to launch full-fledged, immediate army action. At Dhaka airport, Masud spoke to the President and again reminded him of the repercussions of using force.
Nevertheless, General Tikka followed President Yahya’s order and, on the night of March 25-26, 1971, launched an aggressive military operation to suppress the Bengali uprising. The military also arrested Mujib. Prior to his arrest, Mujib issued a declaration of Bangladesh’s independence:
“This may be my last message; from today Bangladesh is independent. I call upon the people of Bangladesh wherever you might be and with whatever you have, to resist the army of occupation to the last. Your fight must go on until the last soldier of the Pakistan occupation army is expelled from the soil of Bangladesh. Final victory is ours.”
At this juncture, Tikka asked Masud for Air Force support; this was an incredibly difficult decision for Masud. He could see the ground reality that launching a ruthless and barbaric Air Force operation to massacre Bengali civilians would clearly lead to the separation of East Pakistan. So, Masud took what he felt was the only moral and honorable course of action: in the interest of saving Pakistan and avoiding a massacre of the Bengalis, Masud decided not to comply with Tikka’s demand. He sacrificed his brilliant career in the PAF for the future of the nation and its people.
On March 26, 1971, Masud handed over command to Air Commodore (later Air Marshal) Inam-ul-Haque Khan. Masud traveled to West Pakistan, where he was offered another assignment, but he refused and resigned from the Pakistan Air Force. Upon his resignation, the media attempted to obtain his views on East Pakistan and the reasons for his resignation, but Masud was barred from commenting (His views are not available in the published Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report. It is unknown whether Masud’s statement was recorded and omitted from the published report or if it was not recorded at all).
Meanwhile, in early April of 1971, Lieutenant General A. A. K. Niazi was sent to East Pakistan and took over from Tikka. With each day passing the situation deteriorated further. Towards the end of 1971, India intervened, and in December of 1971 a full-fledged war between Pakistan and India began. The Pakistan army ultimately lost the war and on December 16, 1971, Bangladesh emerged as an independent country.
Masud’s refusal to comply with the army operation showed incredible foresight. While the overall separation movement had begun right after the creation of Pakistan (see additional details in the book entitled “Air Commodore M. Zafar Masud: A Pioneer of the Pakistan Air Force”), perhaps the parting of East Pakistan in 1971 could still have been avoided, had the leadership listened to Masud and others who were against military action. Masud’s heroic and principled stand is commendable; he sacrificed a promising career in support of what he felt was right for the people and the country. He is – and will remain – a true hero of the Pakistan Air Force.
The windows of my soul I throw
Wide open to the sun.
The modern thinking man is leading his life just on the superficial level, so much so that the concept of self-development or of reaching the soul is simply out of place. Instead, what dominates is the egoistic feeling os the self as man is just busy feeding his ego. The masked identities veil the real self that is greedy, selfish, jealous and so on. The serenity and a calm mind is what is lacking in the modern man, living in a society torn apart by frequently occurring acts of violence. We have had two World Wars but things haven’t stopped at that. A continuous war has been going on in the form of cold war or bickering on several other fronts.
Mata Amritananda Mayi in her speech at the United Nations on August 29, 2000 exclaimed that ‘we stepped into the new millennium with great hopes and expectations of change. But though numbers denoting years are different, essentially nothing has changed. The real change must happen within us. What we are faced with today is that phenomenon, which is termed as erosion of values. This erosion has emerged out to be a process that has come to stay in our lives. We, especially the youngsters, have been so overpowered by the foreign cultures that we are continuously drifting away from the traditional moorings, leading to our alienation. The tendency of self-understanding and introspection is a trend that has been long abandoned by the generation X – every individual of which has come to be nothing more than just being one of the crowd.
Wordsworth has rightly pointed out in his famous sonnet:
“The world is too much with us
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.”
We, as humans, often waste our energies over trifles like choosing our materialistic ideals and goals. And it is often in such type of pursuits in which we are so much engrossed that we are cut off from our own selves. This is precisely why we are unable to hear our conscience’s words of warning at the time of committing a wrong deed. The face of it can be seen in the degradation of the moral standards, especially in the youngsters, who love everything that is fast – be it swanky cars or racy bikes or the urge of making fast money.
Hindrances on the way of Self-development
Before we take steps for the development of self-concept we must first of all identify all the hindrances that block the path of self-development – because only then will we be able to chalk out a targeted plan of action to reverse the damaging process in operation First of all, let us have a look at the much talked of term, that is, modernization. Often being modern is taken to the blind imitation of the West – call it slavish mentality or the weakness of character but we are always trying to adopt the western values no matter how damaging they may be for us and we are always ready to relinquish our own, howsoever cherishable and practical they may be. This very nonchalant adoption of Western values by the youngsters construes that they live their life on a superficial level – trying to be something what they are not. So there is no question of self-development.
A related trend that is being observed in society is the vulgar display of wealth. In this way the economic progress of particular section of society leads to dissatisfaction, frustration and a lacking feeling among the have-nots, it even promotes crime. Self-development is not a narrow concept. It includes the development of peace of mind, feeling of satisfaction and a sense of completeness; rather the reverse is happening.
Healthy competition among fellow beings (whether students at school or persons in a job) is a must. But too much of it can cause problems. While talking of students, too much of academic pressure exerted upon them by either parents or teachers can cause more harm than good. It can prove to be a major hurdle on the path of the development of ‘self’ as it generates negativity.
Lest we forget, the changing lifestyle is also a major stumbling block. Today’s kids no longer play the games the earlier generation used to. There is lack of physical activity – video games being the most popular recreational activity, thus hindering the physical development. And self-development is not possible until and unless there is harmonious development of all the aspects of one’s personality. The teacher should encourage participation of more and more students in physical activities at school and also spread awareness amongst the students.
Our society structure is in a flux at present. The institution of joint family system is fast giving way to the nuclear family system. The growing number of old age homes is a strong indicator of the degeneration of our society. The parents are busy with their jobs with little time to spend in company of their kids. All this leaves the child with very few options as far as expressing his emotions is concerned. The teacher, along with the peer group, can play a dominant role. The proper channelization of emotions will mean constructive use of energy otherwise the child might stray from the right path. Simply lending an ear in the time of crisis can work wonders. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan has rightly remarked, “One good schoolmaster is worth a thousand priests.”
Education is the best means through which we can boost the positive image of students, overcoming all the hurdles that obstruct the path of self-development. Kahlil Gibran in his famous book, ‘The Prophet’ writes in the chapter ‘Self Knowledge’:
The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.
But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.
Therefore, we can say that we cannot measure how much the self has been developed. Moreover it is an inner journey and it is the teacher who can influence the child in treading the path of self-development in a more effective way. “A teacher affects eternity, no one can tell where his influence stops”, says Henry Adams. So let us all as educators pledge today to do our bit honestly. Remember every drop counts!
By Amritbir Kaur
Mukhopadhyay, Aju. The World of Sri Aurobindo’s Creative Literature. New Delhi: Authors Press, 2013. ISBN: 978-81-7273-696-5. (HB) pp. 161. Price: Rs. 600.
The World of Sri Aurobindo’s Creative Literature is one of the finest books written on Sri Aurobindo. The book is a comprehensive study of the seer-poet’s literary creations which are the gems in Indian English Literature. The book has total twelve chapters divided into four sections: Introduction, Poetry, Dramas and Short Stories.
The introductory part has detailed description of Sri Aurobindo’s life and works. From his being a true poet since his childhood to dour days in his education and qualifying in the ICS examination for the satisfaction of his parents. The author discusses “the Himalayan heights of his personality” and justifies him as “a classical scholar” like Dante.
Sri Aurobindo was inspired by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Anandmath and PB Shelley’s The Revolt of Islam as well as Swami Vivekanand. Being a voracious reader, Aurobindo studied the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and India’s all sacred texts. It was the influence of these scriptures and his time that he believed in “Spiritual Nationalism”. It is his highest order of spiritual perception that he “lives in the minds of the people mainly as a yogi and philosopher, at the most as a great thinker.”
The author illustrates various poems of Sri Aurobindo (nature, romantic and mystic). By thorough study of his poetry, the author finds that Sri Aurobindo was greatly attracted by the English poets like Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, Matthew Arnold, Lord Tennyson, Swinburne, Stephen Phillips and the Greek poetry.
Besides his first volume of poetry, Songs to Myrtilla, having fine poems written between 1890 and 1892, the present book has a detailed analysis of Aurobindo’s greatest creation Savitri. The author makes comparison between Savitri and The Life Divine and asserts that “One is a poem and the other is a philosophy in prose.” Savitri has “spiritual content in poetic form, … , it is really not poetry in the usual sense but spiritual poetry of the future.”
There are various references of different writers and critics: AB Purani, Ann Margaret Robinson, P Lal, Keki N Daruwala, KD Sethna, Satprem, KR Srinivasa Iyengar, Nissim Ezekiel, Sisir Kumar Ghose, Ronald Nixon, James Cousin, Sir Herbert Read, Peter Heehs, Prema Nandakumar, Bernard M Jackson and some more in which Ann Margaret Robinson hails Sri Aurobindo as “A supreme master of English poetic expression and the greatest innovator in this language since Shakespeare.” Being honest to his work the author does not forget to put the criticism on Sri Aurobindo’s literary creations in which P Lal stands first.
Among dramas Perseus the Deliverer, Rodogune, The Viziers of Bassora, Eric and Vasavadutta have been discussed in depth and detail. The author describes that the first two plays have Syrian background and they are the results of Greek influence. The third play has the story from the Tales of the Arabian Nights told by Shahrazad in six nights to the king. It is a story that made the king spellbound, forgetting to kill the teller for her stories which continued for a long time. Eric, a romantic comedy, has setting in Norway and deals with different small kingdoms and earldoms fighting with each other for supremacy without paying heed to national unity. In the play Eric emerges as the most powerful king. In all these plays love and fate play a dominant role.
Vasavadutta is also a romantic play but this has setting on Indian soil. In this play “love triumphs against the regal power. It is a very sweet love story where the hero and heroine win against all ods by the force of love. It is taken from Somadeva’s Sanskrit storehouse of stories, Kathasaritsagara, a favourite source of Indian romance and drama.”
The last section of the book “Short Stories” covers a number of stories written by Sri Aurobindo. Some of them are: “Svapna” (A Dream), “Kshamar Adarsha” (The Ideal of Forgiveness), “Karakahini” (Tales of Prison Life), “Golden Bird”, “The Phantom Hour”, “The Devil’s Mastiff” and “The Door at Abelard”.
The author, Aju Mukhopadhyay has done a good job by producing such book, The World of Sri Aurobindo’s Creative Literature, which is comprehensive on its subject. He has approached every aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s literary world with plenty of relevant references that make the book a must read for the teachers and researchers interested in exploring Sri Aurobindo’s life and works in particular and Indian English literature in general.
Reviewed by Dr. Vijay Kumar Roy
A bilingual poet, writer, editor and critic
New Delhi, INDIA.
History bears testimony to the fact that art plays a crucial role in life. Art is universal and is everywhere. We experience art on a daily basis from the houses we live in, to the movies we see and to the books that we read. It expresses ideas beliefs in more than one way. It can record the experiences of people. Art pieces have given historians valuable information about the standards of beauty, fashion, society and beliefs of the artist’s time. They can also make statements and provoke serious thought about the current issues. Art immortalizes people, places and events, clearly evident in our vast treasure of paintings and sculptures. A very famous example, are the enchanting frescos depicting life of Lord Buddha at the Ajanta caves.
The critically important role of art in the academy, as in life, is to enable us to see the world and the human condition differently, and in seeing the world through a particular work of art, to see a truth we might not have understood before. Imagination and a sense of discovery are often as important as knowledge. Composing a song, writing a play, creating a painting, or writing a poem forces us to think in alternative ways, to hold different assumptions and to entertain different and often more instructive ways of making connections and ways of looking at all that surrounds us. A good artist advances culture and civilization by provoking thought, introspection, and discussion.
Art can be a key to a child’s mind. Art, being a natural expression, gives children an easy and smooth outlet to express their emotions, ideas and thoughts. Plenty of therapists recommend art as a form of therapy to help children open up and to build self-confidence. It also lends itself to physical development and enhancement of fine and gross motor skills. Children should be encouraged to play and connect with colours and enjoy the radiance of life and hence celebrate their childhood.
Art is a great medium of meditation. Great art can invoke many positive mind states in a viewer. It can ease stress and renew energy. Each time we look at a painting or a sculpture, or watch a good play or movie, of listen to a certain music, it connects us to emotions and inspires us to dive deep within. In this way art can serve as a catharsis, or help us uncover feelings of which we were previously unaware. Colours used on the canvas can bring colour and brightness to our otherwise mechanical and mundane lives. Art makes people happy and happiness is what we all strive for.