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Sectarian politics and rising violence against women, a primer on why businesses fail, rediscovering Akbar (IANS Books This Weekend)

New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) You may like to read about an important aspect regarding violence against women; gain insights on how and why the once mighty giants of the corporate world have fallen by the wayside; and finally find out why Mughal Emperor Akbar earned the title of The Great.

There’s much to be discovered on the IANS Bookshelf This Weekend. Read on.

1. Book: The Silence And The Storm – Narratives Of Violence Against Women In India; Author: Kalpana Sharma; Publisher: Aleph; Pages: 199; Price: Rs 599.

Refusing to recognise that the concept of “family honour” is premised on the suffering of women, Kalpana Sharma, a Mumbai-based media veteran of four decades, writes that sexual violence against women in India is also inevitably linked with the kind of politics that dominates.

“Today, sectarian politics feeds on, breeds, encourages and inflames societal divisions. As a result, in the battle between two or more warring groups, women pay the price. They are collateral, the ones who are ‘punished’ by one side or the other. The reality of communal conflict only emerges after the fighting is over, when women find the courage to speak up,” Sharma maintains.

Similarly, in conflict zones – be it Kashmir, the northeast or the Maoist belt that extends from Nepal deep into South India – men take up arms on behalf of the State or an ideology “but the cost is not just loss of life on both sides, but also what happens to the women caught in the middle”.

Holding that our understanding of violence must extend beyond sexual assault, the book asks: What of the violence that developmental policies wreak on women – on their health, workload and mobility? “Although there are millions of such women, their collective voices are not heard. It is this silence that obscures a deeper and more pernicious form of violence that women must endure,” the author writes.

This is the seventh book that Sharma has authored, edited or co-edited and is a welcome addition to the narrative on a subject that is increasingly taking centre-stage in India.

2. Book: Who Blunders And How? The Dumb Side Of The Corporate World; Author: Robin Banerjee; Publisher: Sage; Pages: 263; Price: Rs 550.

There have been any number of books on how corporate honchos and the businesses they lead have made it to the top. But, have you ever wondered why once household names like Saridon, Premier Automobiles, Ranbaxy, Kodak, Xerox, Dunlop, PanAm, Enron and Lehman Brothers have bitten the dust?

“Not adapting to changing consumer habits, inefficient management, debt over-load, unresolved conflicts, unethical behaviour, lethargy, over-confidence and a myriad of other reasons of business blunders lead to curtailing of an organisation’s life cycle. No reason is unfamiliar, yet business basics are often not adhered to, leading to organisations tripping sooner than later,” writes Banerjee, the managing director of the Indian arm of a leading MNC.

It is no secret that success is often built on a bed of fiascos and flops. Unless you fall, you do not learn; unless you try, you cannot fail; and unless you fail, you cannot grasp, the author adds, pointing to a cardinal rule that businesses that have toppled over have failed to understand.

“Mistakes and failures will never disappear howsoever hard you may try. But the good news is they are enlightening. You can learn as much from failures, oversights and howlers as you would from your trials and triumphs,” is another mantra worth remembering,” the book says.

If only the two brothers who once presided over a pharmaceutical empire had kept all this in mind!

3. Book: Allahu Akbar – Understanding The Great Mughal In Today’s India; Author: Manimugdha S. Sharma; Publisher: Bloomsbury; Pages: 305; Price: Rs 599.

Even though Akbar has been omnipresent in folk tales, comic books and even serious academic works, he isn’t really that visible to all at a conscious level. And what’s not visible or properly understood is often ridiculed, dehumanised and violently rejected – as is happening in India right now, says the author of this book, a journalist with a leading Delhi-based newspaper.

“My work doesn’t pretend to be a definitive biography of Akbar or a chronology of his reign, even though it traces the overall contours of his reign…This is an attempt to understand Akbar in his own time and examine his relevance in our own time,” Sharma writes.

The book, he says, is a common man’s attempt “to understand a great man who was inarguably ahead of his time, straddling a spiritual realm and a violent, mortal world, always delighted and troubled by both…I hope Allahu Akbar will be a small step towards understanding this ruler exemplar of his time in our supercharged times”.

A caveat, though: One would need an absolutely open mind to absorb what this book has to offer.




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