Book Review: THE TALIBAN CRICKET CLUB

 

 

MOHAMMAD RUBAIYAT RAHMAN

Book Details

Book: The Taliban Cricket Club 
Author: Timeri N Murari

Nature: Fiction
Publisher : Aleph Book Company
Page: 325 pages
Price: Rs. 595

MEDIA REVIEWS

“A lovely, diverting and moving tale of contemporary Kabul, about love, courage, passion, tyranny and cricket. Murari has an uncommon tale to tell, and does so with imagination and empathy.”

– Shashi Tharoor, award-winning author of The Great Indian Novel

“A moving, splendidly realized story of courage and grit in modern-day Kabul. I was won over by Murari’s uplifting and vastly entertaining sporting tale, which reaffirms the power of friendship, fellowship, and love in the face of all forms of tyranny.”

Vikas Swarup, author of Slumdog Millionaire and Six Suspects

 

Story Outline:

The author’s 18th book is inspired by the Taliban’s actual and unprecedented promotion of cricket in 2000 in an attempt to gain acceptance in the global community. The fiction story uses cricket as a metaphor to stage a story of courage as well as determination in the backdrop of daunting odds.

The story brews centering an affair between ‘RUKHSANA’, a dauntless young journalist working for the Kabul Daily and ‘VEER’ from Delhi. The story approaches with nail nibbling twist and daunting events. Author brings a fictional character, Zorak Wahidi, a minister who is trying to uplift the image of Taliban-ruling Afghanistan in the international arena and at the same time posing a bulwark between the life chemistry of Veer and Rukhsana.

The fiction reveals from time to time the images of erstwhile Taliban regime that tried to veer Afghan culture and society grind to a halt. However, the plot is very simple though. Rukhsana masquerades herself as a  beard male, to coach a team of her male cousins, none of whom knows anything about the game, so that they win the tournament and the prize — a sponsored trip to Pakistan for training; in reality, a means of escape to the West and, in her case, India to meet her Delhiite lover VEER.

Links for details:

http://southasiamonitor.org/detail.php?type=lite&nid=3287

http://www.bookbrowse.com/bb_briefs/detail/index.cfm/ezine_preview_number/7292/the-taliban-cricket-club

http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/review_book-review-the-taliban-cricket-club_1708892

http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/review_book-review-the-taliban-cricket-club_1708892

 

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Scholar’s Introduction: Sir Hersch Lauterpacht

 

Sir Hersch Lauterpacht was an iconic international lawyer of the last century. Following his death, MacNair opined that:

“his (Lauterpacht) prominence and success … were due to his passion for justice, his devotion to the relief of suffering, his transparent sincerity and his gifts of persuasion, both in writing and in speech.”

Philippe Sands, a Professor at University College London and student of Lauterpacht’s son Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, places his homage to him in the following words:

‘His writings and professional activities, including as a judge, presaged the foundations of today’s international legal order.”

The following texts are garnered from ‘Sir Hersch Lauterpacht: 1897-1960’, which is written by Sir Elihu Lauterpacht and published in European Journal of International Law [2 EJ1L (1998) pp. 313-315].

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Hersch Lauterpacht was bom on 16 August 1897 at Zolkiew in Galiria, then part of Austria-Hungary but later to revert to Poland When he was still quite young his family moved to the nearby town of Lwow (Lemberg), where he pursued his secondary studies. From his earliest years he demonstrated that seriousness of mind, wide reading and the moral purpose which were to be the marks of his scholarship throughout his life. An exercise book survives containing detailed manuscript notes of some of his reading during a three-month period from September 1915 to February 1916. It comprises ten major works in German, English, French and Polish.1 It shows his voracious appetite for books, bis linguistic ability and his remarkable powers of concentration. His university study was carried out in Vienna in the years immediately following the First World War. There he obtained two degrees, first Doctor of Laws and then Doctor of Political Science. His doctoral thesis, written in German, was on the then entirely new subject of Das vdlkerrechtliche Mandat in der Satzung des Vdlkerbundes (The International Mandate in the Covenant of the League of Nations’)- It was to form the basis of his first major work in English, Private Law Sources and Analogies of International Law, published in 1927, when he had been in England no more than four years.

 

During his time in Vienna he met Rachel Steinberg, who was studying the piano there. They married in 1923 and very soon afterwards came to England, there to make their permanent home.

 

Lauterpacht entered the London School of Economics as a research student His teacher was Dr. Arnold McNair (later to become Lord McNair, the first British Judge of the International Court of Justice after 1945). On the occasion of their first meeting, Lauterpacht’s spoken English was so poor that McNair advised him to take immediate steps to improve it. Three weeks later, so McNair recalled,  Lauterpacht returned speaking tolerably fluent English, having devoted the intervening period to intently listening to the wireless and to every possible lecture at the LSE. However, notwithstanding the elegant mastery of the language that he acquired so rapidly, he was never entirely able to shed his foreign accent – not that that in any way diminished the wit or effectiveness of his lectures, testified to by many students over the ensuing thirty years. He spent the years from 1923 to 1937 at the LSE in unremitting research and teaching. Private Law Sources was followed in 1933 by the immensely important Function of Law in the International Community.

 

 

Lauterpacht always eschewed topical subjects in favour of those which he deemed to be of enduring value. Indeed, it is striking that these two books can still be read with profit, having scarcely dated with the passage of years. The same is true of the lectures he delivered in 1935 on the Development of International Law by the Permanent Court, which he subsequently expanded into The Development of International Law by the International Court, published in 1958.

 

In the meantime be had in 1945 published An International Bill of Human Rights, a pioneering work advocating the desirability and possibility of the protection bytreaty of fundamental human rights. The influence of this work was real and virtuallyimmediate, being directly reflected in the European Convention of HumanRights adopted in 1952.

 

 

Another major work which also appeared in the immediate post-war period was his pioneering study on Recognition in International Law, published in 1947. This was founded on in-depth research into state practice, particularly that of the United Kingdom as evidenced by the Opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown. Of all his writings this is the one that has given rise to most controversy since its basic doctrine of the legal character of recognition has been largely abandoned in state practice over the half-century that has followed.

 

These major contributions to the literature of international law formed only a part of a constant stream of writing. In 1935 he became the editor of Oppenheim’s International Law, producing three editions of Volume I on Peace and two of Volume II on Disputes, War and Neutrality. Earlier yet, he had initiated the collection of international law decisions, of both international and national courts, that first bore the title Annual Digest and Reports of Public International Law Cases and later became the International Law Reports. For the first two volumes he co-edited the work with Sir John Fischer Williams and for the third with Dr. McNair. Thereafter, Lauterpacht  was the sole editor. The series, which continued after his death, now extends to some 104 volumes. To all this he added the revision of Chapter XTV (the laws of war) of the British Manual of Military Law and, from 1944 onwards, the editorship of the British Year Book of International Law. He also wrote many articles, virtually all of which have been reprinted in his collected papers (extending so far to four volumes) under the title of International Law. From 1951 to 1954 he was a member of tbe International Law Commission. As its Special Rapporteur on the Law of Treaties he produced a number of learned and influential Reports.

 

His active academic career was crowned, and brought to an end, by his election in 1954 as a Judge of the International Court of Justice. Throwing his energies into this new task, he applied his deep understanding of international law and his great literary talent to the production of a number of separate and dissenting opinions which still stand as landmarks in international legal theory. Amongst these will be particularly remembered bis separate opinion in the Norwegian Loans Case, which no doubt had a major influence in diminishing the insertion by states of so-called ‘automatic’ or self-judging reservations in their declarations made under the Optional Clause.

 

Lauterpacht’s years on the International Court were cut short by his death on 8 May 1960, little more than five years after he assumed his seat there. His eminence in the field had been recognized by his membership of the lnstitut de Droit International as well as by his election as a Fellow of the British Academy and as a Bencher of Gray’s Inn. He was also awarded honorary doctorates by the Universities of Geneva and Aberdeen.

 

A number of excellent accounts of his life and work have been written, particularly the collection of tributes in the International and Comparative Law Quarterly, two of which are republished in these pages. Of particular note are articles by C.W. Jenks, ‘Hersch Lauterpacht – the Scholar as Prophet’, 36 British Year Book of International Law (1960) 1-103; Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice, ‘Hersch Lauterpacht – The Scholar as Judge’, 37 British Year Book of International Law (1961) 1-71, Idem, 38 British Year Book of International Law (1962) 1-83 and Idem, 39 British Year Book of International Law (1963) 133-188; and Shabtai Rosenne, ‘Lauterpacht’s Concept of the Task of the International Judge’, 55 American Journal of International Law (1961) 825-862. As yet, no full-scale biography has been written.

 

 

….

Links:

 

http://www.lcil.cam.ac.uk/about_the_centre/sir_hersch_lauterpacht.php

http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/nov/10/my-legal-hero-hersch-lauterpacht

http://www.ejil.org/pdfs/8/2/1434.pdf

Review Essay: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber

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Jerry Moses

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Max Weber in his book has two themes; one is to establish a historical link between the growth of the Protestant religious doctrines and the development of modern capitalism. The other is to establish a line of continuity between the protestant ethical maxims and the path of development taken by Western capitalism in its regulation of economic conduct by the imposition of restraint and rejection of luxury. The fundamental aim of his study was to outline the impact of John Calvin’s religious doctrine and a series of practical motives and religious precepts that became incentive to the regulation of life.

Weber’s begins his introductory chapter called the “Religious Affiliation and Social Stratification” in which observes the religious demographics of the population in Europe. He observes that most people in highly skilled and trained professions were Protestants. He also takes note of the fact that a large number of the richest and most economically developed areas turned protestant in the 16th century. A majority of the wealthy cities were protestant.  He brings to light certain aspects of the Catholic faith that he believes were the reasons for the lesser demonstration of Catholics, he found that the Catholics emphasised on learning of languages, Philosophy and history while the Protestants chose more technical fields of study. Catholics preferred more skill oriented jobs and were lifelong craftsmen whereas Protestants engaged with industry and moved up the career ladder to become factory managers. The Catholics in Germany were however an exception to this proposition.

Weber points out that though faiths exhibited unbearable form of control on the believers life, the reformists contented that the church had too little domination over life rather than too much. Protestants sought economic rationalism as an inner quality which was criticised as being material by the Catholics, While the Protestants criticised the Catholics for their “other worldliness”. Weber asks the question that whether earning one’s living under capitalism can ever have an inner affinity? He postulates a two part solution for this, one there has to be business sense and the second, a strong sense of piety.

In the second chapter Weber tries to define the phrase “The Spirit of Capitalism”. He provides an illustration of the spirit of capitalism by reflecting on Benjamin Franklin’s piece on Money, Credit and Man. Weber is not concerned with the capitalism of the Ancient and Middle ages that which occurred in China, India and Babylon. He is interested in Modern Capitalism that occurred in Western Europe and America. Thus the acquisition of money coupled with the idea of saving was the root of Franklin’s thought. As long as a business is carried in a legal manner the acquisition of money manifested competence and proficiency.  The duty to have a vocational calling was not an idea only in modern capitalism but it became a social ethic of the modern capitalistic culture, Weber argued that it was during this time that the capitalist economic world order turned to a vast cosmos into which a person is born. He felt that any trader in order to be successful in the market eventually had to adhere to this ethic of capitalism. In one of the examples he states how the economic traditionalism when people wished to live as they have been accustomed to and to earn as much as required gave way to capitalistic ideas, in a traditional market the customers had their orders placed via letters to the peasants and subject to availability they would collect their orders  by travelling to the city, this practice however was slowly replaced by the introduction of an agent where he would travel to the villages and find goods as per the customer preferences and would deliver it to the customers themselves.  He advocates importance to the frame of mind that Benjamin Franklin propagated in his article.

The third Chapter is concerned with “Luther’s Conception of the Calling”, which forms an important aspect of the vocational ethic as it served as a good motivator to keep people engaged in their work. The word calling means a task given by God. It carried with it the notion of duty and piety to one’s individual work. The concept of the calling was a product of Reformation period, for the first time the worldly activities acquired a moral justification and attained religious significance; it was a concept that was alien to the Catholic faith. Luther developed these ideas in the course of the first decade of the reform activities. Weber however believes that Luther did not have the spirit of capitalism and that he was a traditionalist. Thus, the idea of the calling in Lutheranism was of limited importance to his study. What he meant was that the development of capitalism cannot be derived directly from Luther’s attitude to the worldly work. It is in this context that he highlights the importance of Calvinism.

The Fourth Chapter is called “The Religious foundations of Worldly Asceticism”.  In this chapter he discusses the major forms of ascetic Protestantism i.e., Calvinism, Pietism, Methodism and Baptists. He discusses Calvinism in great detail as it forms a fundamental part of his analysis for the birth of the ascetic life. The fundamental doctrine among the Calvinists was the doctrine of predestination, that is the belief that the world has been segregated into two, the ones who are going to heaven and the ones who aren’t. Therefore, living an ascetic life in the worldly activities became an important aspect of the faith as it was the only way one could reassure themselves of their salvation. It dominated their thoughts and actions. The important aspects of Calvinism was the methodological organization of lie, testifying to belief in the worldly vocational calling, a puritan goal of leading an alert, conscious and self aware life, Rejection of the importance of sacraments and emotional aspects of culture and religion. Calvinist interaction with god was carried out in spiritual isolation even when one belonged to a specific church; it advocated a systematic self control and provided no opportunity for forgiveness of weaknesses. Calvinism thus according to Weber had magnificent consistency and it encouraged systematic living.

The above Calvinist values stands in contrast to the Catholics who believed in redemption through confession and attaining salvation through sacraments, which were a mechanism that compensated one’s own shortcomings. Lutheranism, on the other hand did not give importance to the doctrine of predestination, its believers advocated the availability of grace. According to Weber, this left no push in Lutheranism and thus it had lesser penetration of asceticism. Pietism on the other hand according to Weber had still stricter rules of the organized life in one’s calling but not everyone was predisposed to have that experience. The focus of the Methodists according to him was of emotional character especially in America. The belief in undeserved grace and the certainty of forgiveness were the foundation of the Methodists; difficulties remained within the Methodists because the doctrine of predisposition was muddled by the concept of Christian freedom. The Baptists, another form of the Protestants believed in the personal awakening of an individual, such members were to avoid the worldly pleasures. They also propagated the notion of living life with the basic necessities or with as much required, this was not in keeping with the capitalistic notion of growth.

The final chapter seeks to link the aspect of asceticism and the spirit of capitalism. He reflects on the writings of Richard Baxter (a puritan) in his final chapter, who writes of his moral objection to idleness and relaxation as they keep away the faithful from pursuing the righteous life. Baxter propagates the need for mental and bodily hard work and considers wasting time as a sin in itself.

Weber argues that asceticism’s disengagement with the pleasures of life was most conducive to the capitalistic way of life. He felt that a life with pleasures pulled people away from their work and calling. The puritan concept of using money only for the service of god was another ascetic character that guided the notion of the Protestants.

In conclusion Weber talks of the other areas of life which the concept of asceticism could have influenced that is not yet studied. He also contends that there could be many other factors influencing the spirit of capitalism and that his interpretation should not be studied as the single theory of causal explanation of culture and history.

My thoughts:

The Protestant Ethic was an interesting read because Weber not only builds his arguments throughout his book but he also constantly guides the reader along by explaining what he does not intend to say. This is a characteristic feature of this book, it thus avoids the pitfalls of the reader interpretation i.e., often readers read by trying to understand what they think the author is saying. This helps to clarify a lot of the ideas that he presents for example he states that he does not intend to say that the rise of capitalism is a result of the reformation period in the Catholic Church. Another thing that he states that helps to understand his theory is that he is only concerned with the analyses of modern capitalism and not with that of the ancient and middle ages that occurred in India, China and other places.

Weber’s arguments are well thought through and his linking of values to the understanding of capitalism is what impressed me most about this book. Normally when one thinks about capitalism one just thinks about the effects of it and all the economic characteristics associated with it not necessarily the mechanism of capitalism in terms of values and ideas shaping it. I however disagree with the notion that only Calvinist principles were driving a work ethic that is conducive to the growth of capitalism, Weber himself in the end of the book restates this very claim. Weber’s guiding principles in which he defines the Calvinist principles are the necessity of a business ethic and peity, I agree with this understanding, but I don’t think that this is only vehicle for the growth of modern capitalism. Overall, The book is a good read, especially if you are interested in understanding the link between religion and economics or just interested in reading prominent work in Sociology.

… …. ….

Jerry Moses is a student of M.A (IR, Semester I) at SOUTH ASIAN UNIVERSITY.

N.B. The review essay has already been submitted by writer as TERM PAPER.

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