G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Civil Wars- India’s and American

Some say India has been fighting a civil war for last 40 years.

India Today February 11, 208 reported:

“…Left wing extremism (LWE) or Naxalism has killed thousands of people to emerge as an immediate threat to internal security. Worse still, more than a year after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged the severity of this threat by calling it the “single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country”, there is no holistic initiative to tackle the bloodlust.

The militants, who launched an armed movement in 1967 claiming to fight for the rights of poor peasants and landless labourers, are active in at least 16 of the country’s 33 states. Of the total 12,476 police stations in the country, Maoist violence was reported from 395 in 11 states in 2006.

What was confined initially to pockets in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh in the early 1970s has not only spread in a virulent manner but emerged as a major political force in the tribal woods of Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand.

They strike at will with accurate planning, ambush police teams, break into jails and hit select targets to create a fear psychosis as is the wont of terror groups everywhere.

Despite the improvement of the information gathering networks in the affected areas, the range and intensity of the Maoist violence spirals upwards…”

But this pales compared to American civil war that remains one of the bloodiest in the history of mankind.

“…Americans had never endured anything like the losses they suffered between 1861 and 1865 and have experienced nothing like them since. Two percent of the United States population died in uniform — 620,000 men, North and South, roughly the same number as those lost in all of America’s other wars from the Revolution through Korea combined. The equivalent toll today would be six million…”

(GEOFFREY C. WARD’s review of “THIS REPUBLIC OF SUFFERING/ Death and the American Civil War” By Drew Gilpin Faust. NYT January 27, 2008).

India has never seen a war like this on its soil. Bloodiest battle of modern times in India perhaps was Panipat 1761 where estimated 50,000-100,000 people died.
What about the battle of Plassey, which supposedly changed the subcontinent’s history?
“…The nawab began the battle with fifty thousand troops, against three thousand for the British. Of the fifty thousand, only twelve thousand actually fought for him, and these withdrew so quickly that they suffered only five hundred casualties. British losses numbered four Europeans and fourteen sepoys….”

What was India’s population in 1761?

“…We have no censuses, but one estimate gives the figure of 100 million for the late sixteenth century, and this may well be low…” (“The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” by David S. Landes, 1998)

Even if we take the figure of 100 million for 1761, we are still talking about 0.1% deaths at upper end of the band.

GEOFFREY C. WARD: “…Little wonder. Some 7,000 corpses lay scattered across the Pennsylvania countryside, alongside more than 3,000 dead horses and mules — an estimated six million pounds of human and animal flesh, swollen and blackening in the July heat. For weeks afterward, townspeople carried bottles of peppermint oil to neutralize the smell…”

Panipat 1761’s aftermath would have been comparable to this though thankfully it was a cold winter of January. If it were to be during a monsoon month, it surely would have triggered an epidemic.

Drew Gilpin Faust: “Death created the modern American union, not just by ensuring national survival, but by shaping enduring national structures and commitments”

Civil war brings Abraham Lincoln's speech at Gettysburg to mind.


Artist: Jack Ziegler The New Yorker 18 December 1989