Excerpt from The burning Forest by Nandini Sundar

“In Max Weber’s classic formulation of what it means to be a ‘state’ or government, the state is defined as having a ‘monopoly over legitimate violence’. The reason why the state’s violence is ‘legitimate’ is because it is employed to protect citizens. Internationally, human rights activism focuses on violations by the state, because anyone else who takes law into their own hands is already acting illegitimately and is liable to be punished by the state. The government, however, seems not to want to accept this grown up and superior role, insisting truculently that human rights activists act as umpires and scold both sides equally.

However, the civil liberties movement also needs to understand the reasons for the widespread perception of its being sympathetic to the Maoists. In the post emergency phase, many groups sought to differentiate between revolutionary violence and other kinds of violence- caste, communal- terming the former legitimate and the latter illegitimate. Revolutionary violence, they argued should be treated differently even in a liberal framework because ultimately, it was aimed at implementing the democracy promised by the constitution. Even today many groups are ambivalent about disowning the Maoists, fearful that by criticizing them, they are forsaking the ‘people’ who evidently support them in large numbers.

Ultimately, all sides have contributed to the simplification of an intricate issue. The state refuses to recognize critical voices within its own ranks and reduces all opposition to the Judum and operation green hunt to the work of Maoist sympathizers. Maoist sympathizers adopt an equally stringent ‘with us or against us’ attitude. Sections of the professional human rights community choose to focus on celebrity cases at the expense of the larger conflict.”


As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon-don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon-you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when, 
with what pleasure, what joy, 
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time; 
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations 
to buy fine things, 
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind- 
as many sensual perfumes as you can; 
and may you visit many Egyptian cities 
to learn and go on learning from their scholars. Keep Ithaka always in your mind. 
Arriving there is what you’re destined for. 
But don’t hurry the journey at all. 
Better if it lasts for years, 
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way, 
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich. 
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey. 
Without her you wouldn’t have set out. 
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
C.P. Cavafy
Translated by 
Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard


Endless and wasteful discussion..

Mangish: mysticism , altruism and collectivism


 Saurav: what does that mean??

   three totally different things??


Mangish: three over-rated tenets which ought not be there in the perfect society


Gaurav: perfect society at the first place is bullshit

and they might be over rated but can’t say that they are not required


Mangish: yes it is.. the attampts can be made to get closer to that end of the spectrum ..


Saurav: perhaps…..But I am not sure…..What is at the end of spectrum…something in our fancies may exist whch is virtual


Mangish: realism individualism and perfectionism


Gaurav: now what are these??


Mangish: being practical .. serving individual needs first .. not crushing individual rights in the mask of the “common good” and progressing continually


Saurav: yes definately…agreed

true very true


Mangish: these are the other end of the spectrum ..one where the society should graduate to..


Saurav: I don’t know…perhaps two ends don’t exist…

the nature points towards circle…perhaps both these ends converge to same end…


I don’t know anyways



Mangish: if two ends dont exist then you can make them meet in the first place


Saurav: ???

in circle where is the end??

its cyclic

no end



Mangish: no but in order to complete the circle you need continuity


Saurav: yeah…so whats the problem…?

continuity can be assured

and, by the way, there can be moments of emptiness….where even continuity is not required

electrons jump from one shell to another…and I think there is nothing in between two shells.


Mangish: if there is a gradual change in any attribute from one end to the other then obviously two extreme ends exist. Although they may converge cyclically but that doesnt refute their existence


Saurav: ya.. perhaps…but if they are converging…so how can one be superior to another….both yielding to same result

isn’t it??

 Mangish: then i guess it boils down to what stage of the cycle you are present!!

 Saurav: as in???

please explain a bit

 Mangish: same with business cycle.. simply beacuse we know that recession and boom woud come cyclically doesnt mean that we stop making attempts to minimise the recession time and maximise boom time..

all macroeconic policies are infact directed towards that end

 Saurav: yeah….right…..but macroeconomics is subset of ilfe…so I feel we need to refine its principles before generelazing…

anyways forget it

endless and wasteful discussion it is…


Mangish: yeah !! it surely is 😀



Note: This was actual gtalk chat between two individuals, one of them is my good friend and if I quote his words, he was “just gassing around”. Mangish and Saurav are not real names 🙂

I am not as I was under the reign of the good Cynara

The title of this poem was taken from a verse by ancient Roman poet, Horace.
Translated from Latin it means, ‘I am not as I was under the reign of the good Cynara.’


Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine
There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed
Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat,
Night-long within mine arms in love and sleep she lay;
Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
When I awoke and found the dawn was gray:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, all the time, because the dance was long:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,
Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine;
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.


Ernest Dowson

Making the Most of Life

Not all who seem to fail have failed indeed;
Not all who fail have therefore worked in vain;
For all our acts to many issues lead;
And out of earnest purpose, pure and plain,
Enforced by honest toil of hand or brain,
The Lord will fashion in his own good time
(Be this the laborer’s proudly humble creed),
Such ends as in his wisdom, fitliest chime
With his vast love’s eternal harmonies.
There is no failure for the good and wise;
What though thy seed should fall by the wayside,
And the birds snatch it?–Yet the birds are fed;
Or they may bear it far across the tide,
To give rich harvests after thou art dead.”

By J R Miller

Kiran Bedi on Young Sub-inspectors in Delhi Police(one side to it)

The Young officer does not know when he will be able to go back home. He does not know when his day will be over. As soon as he reports to the police station for the posting, he gets a huge number of case files of predecessors who got transferred elsewhere. So he begins with the arrears from his day one. He does not know what has been recorded in case files so far, but he becomes responsible for all the errors of omission and commission. Alongside, he get new cases for investigation every day. He has no assistant. He does not even get enough time to investigate, as there is no separation of investigation duties from law and order work. His whole day is spent in courts(which insist on his presence), with the prosecution branch(which repeatedly calls him), visits to Doctors(who also expect repeat visits), and the forensic science laboratories(which exercise great discretion). He has to conduct inquiries on a number of complaints received daily at the police station, attend law and order duties(demonstrations/possessions/VIP routes), be on emergency duties, and even do night or day patrolling. He has no official transport. He does it all on his own scooter. On his return to the police station, his SHO(Station House Officer) questions him about what he has done the whole day. He is asked about the cases pending with him, because the SHO has to answer to his own seniors. He, therefore, rushes to complete his case files, at times contrary to rules, in order to meet the deadlines. Alongside, he spends money out of his own pocket for meeting investigation costs, some legitimate some not. He gets no advance money even when sent on outstation duties. To recoup his own money, he has to prepare still more papers and answer many queries. Often, he just gives up. The experienced young officers do not even ask for reimbursements. They make the complainant or someone else pay. For any wrong detected, the young officer can give no excuse. He gets punished.


Taken from ‘Indian Police… As I See’ by Kiran Bedi

The Fish who saved my life by Paulo Coelho

Nasrudin is walking past a cave when he sees a yogi, deep in
meditation, and he asks the yogi what he is searching for. The yogi

‘I study the animals and have learned many lessons from them that can
transform a man’s life.’

‘A fish once saved my life,’ Nasrudin replies. ‘If you teach me
everything you know, I will tell you how it happened.’

The Yogi is astonished; only a holy man could be saved by a fish. And
he decides to teach Nasrudin everything he knows.

When he has finished, he says to Nasrudin:

‘Now that I have taught you everything, I would be proud to know how a
fish saved your life.’

‘Very simple,’ says Nasrudin, ‘I was almost dying of hunger when I
caught it and, thanks to that fish, I had enough food for three days.’

Taken from Paulo Coelho’s blog,


The Guy in the Glass by Dale Wimbrow

When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,

And the world makes you King for a day,

Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,

And see what that guy has to say.


For it isn’t your Father, or Mother, or Wife,

Who judgement upon you must pass.

The feller whose verdict counts most in your life

Is the guy staring back from the glass.


He’s the feller to please, never mind all the rest,

For he’s with you clear up to the end,

And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test

If the guy in the glass is your friend.


You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,

And think you’re a wonderful guy,

But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum

If you can’t look him straight in the eye.


You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,

And get pats on the back as you pass,

But your final reward will be heartaches and tears

If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass.


by Dale Wimbrow (1895-1954)


If— by Rudyard Kipling

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

[English] Khol do by Saadat Hasan Manto

The Return (Khol do)

by Saadat Hasan Manto

THE special train left Amritsar at  two in the afternoon, arriving at Mughalpura, Lahore, eight hours later. Many had been killed on the way, a lot more injured and count-less lost.

It was at 10 O’clock the next morning that Sirajuddin regained consciousness. He was lying on bare ground, surrounded by screaming men, women and children. It did not make sense.

He lay very still, gazing at the dusty sky. He appeared not to notice the confusion or the noise. To a stranger, he might have looked like anold man in deep thought, though this was not the case. He was in shock, suspended, at it were, over a bottomless pit.

Then his eyes moved and, suddenly, caught the sun. The shock brought him back to the world of living men and women. A succession of images raced through his mind. Attack… fire… escape … railway station … night … Sakina. He rose abruptly and began searching through the milling crowd in the refugee camp.

He spent hours looking, all the time shouting his daughter’s name …Sakina! Sakina!… but she was no where to be found.

Total confusion prevailed, with people looking for lost sons,daugh-ters, mothers, wives. In the end Sirajuddin gave up. He sat down, away from the crowd, and tried to think clearly. Where did he part from Sakinaand her mother? Then it came to him in a flash – the dead body of his wife, her stomach ripped open. It was an image that wouldn’t go away.

Sakina’s mother was dead. That much was certain. She had died in front of his eyes. He could hear her voice:“Leave me where I am. Take the girl away.”

The two of them had begun to run . Sakina’s dupatta had slipped to the ground and he had stopped to pick it up and she had said: “Father, leave it.”

He could feel a bulge in his pocket. It was a length of cloth. Yes, he recognised it. It was Sakina’s dupatta, but where was she?

Other details were missing. Had he brought her as far as the railway station? Had she got into the carriage with him? When the rioters had stopped the train, had they taken her with them?

All questions. There were no answers. He wished he could weep, but tears would not come. He knew then that he needed help.

A few days later, he had a break. There were eight of them, young men armed with guns. They also had atruck. They said they brought back women and children left behind on the other side.

He gave them a description of his daughter. ”She is fair, very pretty. No, she doesn’t look like me, but her mother. About seventeen. Big eyes,black hair, a mole on the left cheek. Find my daughter. May God bless you.”

The young men had said to Sirajuddin: “If your daughter is alive, we will find her.”

And they had tried. At the risk of their lives they had driven to Amritsar, recovered many women and children, and brought them back to the camp,but they had not found Sakina.

On their next trip out, they had found a girl on the roadside. They seemed to have scared her and she had started running. They had stopped the truck, jumped out and runafter her. Finally, they had caught upwith her in a field. She was very pretty and she had a mole on her left cheek. One of the men had said to her:”Don’tbe frightened. Is your name Sakina?”Her face had gone pale, but when they had told her who they were, she had confessed that she was Sakina, daughter of Sirajuddin.

The young men were very kind to her. They had fed her, given her milk to drink and put her in their truck. One of them had given her his jacket so that she could cover herself. It was obvious that she was ill-at-ease without her dupatta, trying nervously to cover her breasts with her arms.

Many days had gone by and Sirajuddin had still not had any news of his daughter. All his time was spent running from camp to camp, looking for her. At night, he would pray forthe success of the young men who were looking for his daughter. Their words would ring in his ears “If your daughter is alive, we will find her.”

Then one day he saw them in the camp. They were about to drive away.“Son,” he shouted after one of them,“have you found Sakina, my daughter?”

“We will, we will,” they replied all together.

The old man again prayed for them. It made him feel better.

That evening there was sudden activity in the camp. He saw four men carrying the body of a young girl found unconscious near the railway tracks.They were taking her to the camp hospital. He began to follow them.

He stood outside the hospital for some time, then went in. In one of the rooms, he found a stretcher with some-one lying on it.

A light was switched on. It was a young woman with a mole on her leftcheek. “Sakina,” Sirajuddin screamed.

The doctor, who had switched on the light, stared at Sirajuddin.

“I am her father,” he stammered.The doctor looked at the prostrate body and felt for the pulse. Then he said to the old man: “Open the window.”

The young woman on the stretcher moved slightly. Her hands groped for the cord which kept her salwar tied around her waist. With painful slowness, she unfastened it, pulled the garment down and opened her thighs.

“She is alive. My daughter is alive,” Sirajuddin shouted with joy.

The doctor broke into a cold sweat.

(Translated by Kavita Chiranji for Manushi) 

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