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Showing posts from June, 2009

Amity & Enmity

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I was traveling to Calicut and Palakkad for holidays last year, the trip was via Singapore airlines and there was (at that time) no Singapore – Calicut connection. So we went to Cochin, reaching there after a long trans-pacific flight just around midnight. My brother in law was there to receive us and we had decided to take the road route from Cochin to Calicut. It was an eventful trip. The road taken was via Kodungallur and I was lost in historic thoughts as we crossed the terrain, for I had been reading heavily on Muziris and the Moplah riots some days back. I pointed out one of the first mosques of Kerala from the 9th century (gifted by the Perumal to Malik ibn Dinar) to my sleepy BIL, he was not too keen to see all this in the middle of his slumber and I could see my wife & second son smiling. They know that I can be a bit crazy with history. As we traveled on, the otherwise empty road seemed full of people. There were a number of Moplahs on the road, and most were dressed ver…

Sardar KM Panikkar, a luminary

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I had come across this illustrious person some years ago while researching VK Krishna Menon and subsequently while studying Portuguese & Dutch presence in Malabar. I was very impressed with the language and narrative used by Panikkar in his books ‘Malabar & the Portuguese’ and ‘Malabar & the Dutch’. When I found later that he was the person behind India’s oft quoted naval strategy and that he had collected considerable notoriety over the Chinese debacle, I decided to find out a bit more of the person.

Krishan Menon’s comment about Panikkar, sums up quite a bit of the person Panikkar was. “He can write”, said Krishna Menon, “a history book in half an hour which I could not write in six years”. The soundness of this thesis has been borne out by his numerous historical works, several of which have profoundly influenced contemporary thought and perceptions. Now you must remember that it was extremely rare for Krishna Menon himself to hold another in high esteem.

“It was the tam…

Grain for books

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This tidbit from history comes thanks to a reader friend Vijay who passed by to say hello. As we discussed history through the evening hours, he mentioned in passing about a big gift of books provided by India to USA during the PL 480 program when the USA supplied India, much needed wheat. I did not have the slightest clue that we had supplied something in return for the wheat. After Vijay left, I checked out the details. Here it is, and I must add here that while the PL 480 is well reported, the details on the Indian supply of books are shrouded, at best.

But first a recap on the PL 480 deal. I had written briefly about the wheat deal some time ago, for not only did we get wheat, but as reported, also the famed Congress grass weed (a debated fact, see US rebuttal) which is growing wild in many places and causing untold allergic suffering.

After partition, Western Punjab, India's wheat bowl had gone to Pakistan. A spell of successive bad monsoons added, there was a severe food crisi…