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Diary

Carol Singh: While Britain Burns, 21 November 1985

... it to get to the Labour Exchange on time I don’t linger to admire the scenery. Every time I go past the fountain, near where Henry Royce’s statue used to stand, I mutter and tick away to myself: ‘Fkin bastids fkin bastids fkin bastids’. I saw that on a wall once and it seems to express something inchoate and furious. The Council came and took away ...

Oppressors

V.G. Kiernan, 18 September 1986

What’s happening to India: Punjab, Ethnic Conflict, Mrs Gandhi’s Death and the Test for Federalism 
by Robin Jeffrey.
Macmillan, 249 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 333 40440 8
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Lions of the Punjab: Culture in the Making 
by Richard Fox.
California, 259 pp., £25.50, January 1986, 0 520 05491 1
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... or neglected sons, such as he shows various Sants in the recent limelight to have been – Fateh Singh, Longowal, Bhindranwale. Of this last and most colourful figure, head of the extremists who perished in the Golden Temple, he gives a convincing description. Bhindranwale, like most others of his calling, had a limited education, and little knowledge of ...

Pretty Good Privacy

Brian Rotman, 1 June 2000

The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography 
by Simon Singh.
Fourth Estate, 402 pp., £16.99, September 1999, 1 85702 879 1
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In Code: A Mathematical Journey 
by Sarah Flannery.
Profile, 292 pp., £14.99, April 2000, 1 86197 222 9
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Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption 
by Whitfield Diffie and Susan Landau.
MIT, 346 pp., £10.50, April 1999, 0 262 54100 9
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... The English mathematician G.H. Hardy, who worked in the purest of all mathematical fields, the theory of numbers, used to boast in his patrician way that nothing he did in mathematics would ever be useful. He must be turning in his grave at developments in the ‘science of secrecy’ over the last quarter of a century ...

Diary

Audrey Gillan: The drubbing of Mohammad Sarwar, 22 January 1998

... the girls’ brother Nadeem, and when I told him what I had learnt in Pakistan, he said he would go there himself if he had to in order to secure the girls’ safe return. I contacted the editor of the BBC’s Frontline Scotland and suggested that they might want to film the journey. Within a few days Sarwar, a television crew and I had secured visas thanks ...
India’s Economic Reforms 1991-2001 
by Vijay Joshi and I.M.D. Little.
Oxford, 288 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 19 829078 0
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... seats to form a government. The unlikely coalition that did, made up of the Janata Dal under V.P. Singh (Rajiv Gandhi’s former finance minister who’d resigned in disgust at what he claimed had become pervasive corruption at the top), the Bengal Marxists and the now lively and strikingly well-organised BJP, split within the year. The BJP could not accept ...

The View from Malabar Hill

Amit Chaudhuri: My Bombay, 3 August 2006

Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found 
by Suketu Mehta.
Review, 512 pp., £8.99, September 2005, 0 7472 5969 0
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... makes me restless and resentful when I find myself invited to other cities, but with no excuse to go to Bombay. It’s presumably what drove Mehta, who moved to New York when he was 14, to go back. It’s what made the poet Arun Kolatkar, author of the classic Jejuri, set out every Thursday from his small apartment in ...

Modi does it again

Tariq Ali, 6 June 2019

... the new parliament. As the results started coming in, a veteran Congress leader in Bhopal, Ratan Singh, had a heart attack and dropped dead. A tragedy overlaid with symbolism. There was some resistance to the BJP, especially in the south: in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the BJP didn’t win a single seat. But overall the results showed ...

A Necessary Gospel

Sean O’Brien, 6 June 1996

Dear Future 
by Fred D’Aguiar.
Chatto, 206 pp., £14.99, March 1996, 0 7011 6537 5
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... party of government, bent and in hock to the IMF, seizes on a national tour by the great wrestler Singh to represent its own prowess and symbolise its forthcoming triumph at the polls. Singh, wooed away from the Opposition, has never been known to lose: indeed his attraction lies in the fact that his victory is only ever a ...

Cardigan Arrest

Robert Potts: Poetry in Punglish, 21 June 2007

Look We Have Coming to Dover! 
by Daljit Nagra.
Faber, 55 pp., £8.99, February 2007, 978 0 571 23122 5
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... and argues with these reactions, while deliberately not resolving them. In ‘Booking Khan Singh Kumar’, for example, he directly asks the audience whose applause he seeks: ‘Did you make me for the gap in the market/Did I make me for the gap in the market . . . Can I cream off awards from your melting-pot phase . . . Do you medal yourselves ...

Enemy Citizens

Siddhartha Deb: The Story of Partition, 1 January 2009

The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan 
by Yasmin Khan.
Yale, 251 pp., £9.99, October 2008, 978 0 300 14333 1
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The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories 
by Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar.
Columbia, 288 pp., £29.50, October 2007, 978 0 231 13846 8
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... Toba Tek Singh’ is one of a number of stories about Partition by Saadat Hasan Manto, a brilliant, alcoholic Urdu writer who himself moved from Bombay to Lahore in 1948. It is set in a Lahore asylum whose inmates are about to be split up according to their religion. When they are taken to the border for the exchange, the story’s Sikh protagonist – known as Toba Tek Singh after the town he comes from – refuses to co-operate ...

Other Eden

Amit Chaudhuri, 15 September 1988

Tigers, Durbars and Kings: Fanny Eden’s Indian Journals 1837-1838 
edited by Janet Dunbar.
Murray, 202 pp., £13.95, April 1988, 0 7195 4440 8
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... her brother, the Governor-General, to the court of the last great King of the Sikhs, Ranjit Singh. The mixture of scepticism and humour, unwillingness and curiosity, with which she set out is recorded early in the journals, and prepares us for what is to come: ‘Do you think we shall get safely back again? I have my doubts because the wild beasts in ...

Bitter Chill of Winter

Tariq Ali: Kashmir, 19 April 2001

... clashes between Sunni and Shia Muslims. Worse lay ahead, however. In 1819 the soldiers of Ranjit Singh, the charismatic leader of the Sikhs, already triumphant in northern India, took Srinagar. There was no resistance worth the name. Kashmiri historians regard the 27 years of Sikh rule that followed as the worst calamity ever to befall their country. The ...

Other Indias

Walter Nash, 15 September 1988

Ice-Candy-Man 
by Bapsi Sidhwa.
Heinemann, 277 pp., £11.95, February 1988, 0 434 70230 7
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Mistaken Identity 
by Nayantara Sahgal.
Heinemann, 194 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 434 66612 2
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Baumgartner’s Bombay 
by Anita Desai.
Heinemann, 230 pp., £10.95, July 1988, 0 434 18636 8
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... sells popsicles), of Imam Din (who cooks and polygamises), of Hari (a gardener), of Sher Singh (a zookeeper), of Sharbat Khan (a knife-grinder) – all of them rich personalities in their own right, and all, for the purposes of the story, representative of the religious and ethnic mix, Hindu and Sikh and Muslim, of India before partition. This ...

At the Atlantis Gallery

Peter Campbell: The Survey of India, 6 November 2003

... but one of them did do the kind of secret work Kipling describes. He was a schoolmaster, Nain Singh. In 1865 he entered Tibet – forbidden to foreigners on pain of death – disguised as a lama, and mapped Lhasa. Like Kim, he had learned to measure miles by walking without ever altering his stride; like Kim, he used a rosary to keep count of their ...

A Bottle of Ink, a Pen and a Blotter

Amit Chaudhuri: R.K. Narayan, 9 August 2001

... around without any apparent purpose. Here, for instance, is the novelist and journalist Khushwant Singh on a visit to Mysore forty years ago: ‘Being with Narayan on his afternoon stroll was an experience. He did not go to a park but preferred walking up the bazaars … He would stop briefly at shops to exchange namaskaras ...

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