Book Review of “VICTORY INDIA” by Col Vinay B Dalvi (Retd)

A Key to Quality Military Leadership

A bold and trail blazing exposé of 65 years old selection & training system of the Indian Armed Forces Officer Cadre

A Campaign, A Crusade, A Commitment, An Inspiration…

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Amongst my latest reads is Victory India, by Col. Vinay B. Dalvi (Retd.) and what an eye-opener this one is!

We civilians, look up to the Officers of the Armed Forces. We admire and respect their brilliance, their courage, their strength and everything associated with them. But do we really know what goes behind the gates of the IMA and the NDA, and the other training and selection institutes? Barely.

For those who only see smart cadets walking around in crisp uniforms, this book will reveal a whole new world of pain that the “men” endure (physically and mentally), and the national leadership crisis that the nation is currently facing therefore.

An eye-opener for aspiring to join such prestigious institutes will know the truth behind their selection and training process and maybe (collectively) help in filling the gaps and loop-holes.

Having been a part of the armed forces, the author shows deep insight and a well-rounded research regarding the training and selection process of the cadets. The book offers suggestions towards effective Military Leadership Training – something a nation would always feel incomplete without.

The book is a rare compilation of articles, views, comments and recommendations of specialists and experts of various fields (serving and retired) connected with the entire selection and training system of the officer cadre. This combined, coordinated and cohesive effort by the contributing authors is indeed commendable. Their sense of concern and responsibility to the uniformed fraternity reflects in the rich and diverse insight offered in a holistic manner.

The book contains the necessary ingredients to formulate a practical, meaningful and effective course of action. It is an earnest, fervent and collective endeavour to attract, select, train, groom and promote our budding and dynamic youth into inspiring, effective and quality military leaders.

It is thus left to the highest leadership in the country – Political, Bureaucratic and Military to take note of the glaring shortcomings and drawbacks confronting the Nation and the Armed Forces, and search for solutions. May the issues be addressed and resolved, thus strengthening the ”military leadership” – the most important principle of war for any nation.

The book was released by Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC, Chief of Air Staff & Chairman COSC, in the presence of Maj. Gen. (Dr.) G. D. Bakshi, Mr. Rajan Arya, CEO Pentagon Press, Author & Editor Col. Vinay B. Dalvi, Lt. Col. Anil Bhat & Air Marshal T. S. Randhawa on 20th November, 2012 at ‘Vayu Bhavan’, Air Headquarters, New Delhi.

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Book Review of “2012 Nights” by Vipul Rikhi

2012 Nights

by Vipul Rikhi

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2012 Nights by Vipul Rikhi

Would the world really end as predicted by the Mayans in December 2012? And if it does we have a handful days to live life to the fullest and read as many books as possible.

Vipul Rikhi’s book, 2012 Nights, revolves around this (supposed) doomsday.

A paranoid and drunk writer, with a belief in the Mayan theory, begins the month (of December 2012) by telling a series of tales to his cat (Schahriar). Each night he spins a yarn of beautifully crafted stories – of Aladdin (with a mention of his brother Biladdin); of Abdullah; of Sindbad the sailor; of King Solomon; of Alibaba and the forty thieves; but all with a twist and a contemporary view. History, mythology, politics and a whole lot of wisdom become the weaving points of all the stories.

His wife (Karuna) has left him and he has no friends left (given his attitude and behaviour). All he is left with is a cat and thus the series of monologue that follow. The tales of greed, compassion, destruction, loss and search have a unique USP. You might feel you know all the tales of yester years, but reading it with the author’s perspective and narrative brings about a new experience.

The author captured my interest initially. But come fifth night and thereafter there was a massive drop. But then soon, his style picked up pace and I was hooked again. Most stories, you would realize, do not end on the night they start. That’s the connect…the temptation that keeps you hooked. The twists and turns are, no doubt, super. But at places it gets overtly preachy and makes you want to skip it all.

Totally worth a read.

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Book Review of “The Asocial Networking” by Dhiraj Kumar

The Asocial Networking

By Dhiraj Kumar

Social Media has intrigued me, more in the last couple of years when I realized the potential it holds. And on receiving a book review request from Dhiraj about his book I was more than happy to do it!
Thankfully, the book proved to be interesting enough for me to complete it, and not like a text book for dummies.

A debut attempt, this book somewhere reflects the author’s angst for the virtual world. This is one aspect I appreciate and would expect writers to keep in mind: Write what you truly feel- with convictions (but backed by strong facts/stats and data!)
The 150 odd essays (the author’s experiences) running over 300 pages reflect the debate between the real and the virtual world and how being offline is now a thing of the past. For those who aren’t online, they are as good as non-existent!
The author has some really stern views and I respect those, but maybe the virtual world is gaining prominence for a reason. Going all out and unleashing fury might not help at this stage. #justsaying
A slower evolution would do the trick, if everyone realizes the commercial propaganda that the virtual circle has in fact created around everyone one of us.
Many points in this book were too basic for me (sorry about that but I have read quite a bit in to social media) and thus felt repetitive at many places.
Most of the author’s points/experiences do make for a good read- given the style of writing. Like decoding personalities with the kind of status updates or pictures or activities one indulges in.
My only woe was the fact that towards the end it wasn’t all that intellectually stimulating or arousing. Too much of repetition got me disheartened. New approach yes, but the freshness fizzled out.
Had he supported his views “against” social media with staunch proven facts/stats-I’d be more than a fan! Certain points mentioned here were an #EpicFail. Really.
Another very prominent point is: the author talks majorly about FB as his point of reference for Social Media. More prominence to twitter or linkein or google plus would’ve made this more interesting.

Social Media has a lot many advantages for those who can harness its powers. And for those who suck the life out of it, they only see the short comings. Maybe Dhiraj hasn’t had good experiences on FB but he should give it a fair chance. And other social media sites too. There are successful stories floating around too!

Yes, quite a few of us are hooked on to it (for various reasons) but the smart ones do know where to draw the line. I say, newbies should give it a read. They are the ones who need to know where to stop and think about the effects of social media.

Overall, it did make for a good read for me – as it gave me a chance to notice the opinions of a social media critic.
I would recommend it to youngsters more so who still aren’t very clear about the Social Media assets and short-comings. This book will reveal quite a lot to them.

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Book Review of “And God Made A Mistake” By Mohit Gupta

And God Made A Mistake
By Mohit Gupta

Let me begin by apologizing for not posting reviews for so long. Globe-trotting doesn’t leave me with much time to write online.

But none the less, here are a quick few reviews that I was supposed to post long back.

Mohit Gupta’s debut sci-fi novella lives up to quite a bit of our expectations.
The story of a scientist trying to figure out a way to achieve immortality by transferring knowledge and feelings from one brain to another (scientifically) got me hooked a few pages down the first chapter. And then it built a retreat of sorts for me to escape in to each night as I dreaded the end of the book.

Quite a riveting concept and ideation, with sound research it seems. Engrossing points in the book saw me admire the writing skills of the author, wondering how such thoughts of unimaginable consequences brewed in his mind. After 12 years when Ayaan traces the steps to reveal the truth behind the mystery and certain inferences, the climax gets more intriguing and fascinating.

Overall, this one was a pleasure to read.
If there is another off-beat writing spree the author wishes to embark up on- count me in to read that too!

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Book Review of “The Ordeal” by Mangesh Jadhav

The Ordeal

 by Mangesh Jadhav

We know that USA is capable of quite a lot. Or so it projects in movies and books. But interfering with nature…who would’ve thought!

Mangesh Jadhav’s first offering, a sci-fi one at that, (The Ordeal) is quite entertaining and thrilling. I wasn’t sure how well my mind would receive it- but I was zapped at being hooked on to it from the very first page.

So what’s the story like- you ask? Well we have NASA and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) working on a satellite that can be used for military purposes. And then you have Russia with its undercover agents reporting the secret to its country, and them coming up with plans to counter it, and therein lies the fantastic plot. How it is brought forth and faced makes for a great read.

For a debut writer, Mangesh has used crisp, clean and very free flowing language that is not only easy but also grammatically fine. (Such relief there.)

The characters are very strong and impactful. Michael Jones, the lead protagonist is a CIA agent. His personality almost reflects through the pages. He is in charge of keeping the mission a secret, and what a fine job he does.
Then we have Suzanne Owen (Private Secretary of CIA’s Director) –a beautiful young lady and Michael’s love interest.
The other cast includes: Dr. Nina Portman, the greedy scientist who can’t but keep a secret for the country and sells her soul to the devil (read: Russians); Dr. Stephen Wilson of NOAA, the one to begin the experiment in the first place, and a bunch of Russians (Alexander Kofman, Andrei Yavlinsky, Vladimir Ivanov, Sergi Nemstor, etc.) who complete the picture in a splendid way.

Another good thing about the novel is the ease of reading it brings- well spaced lettering and smooth language- makes reading sort of uninterrupted and the 400 odd pages did not seem a task, really. The narrative is quite linear. Which is a good thing I guess.

The thriller was thoroughly enjoyed. Crisp plot, remarkable twists, pretty good detailing (sometimes a bit too much of it), it felt more real than just a story. Certain places the author could’ve/ should’ve left open-ended sentences/plots for the reader to interpret or assume or imagine. This would’ve engaged the reader more.

But overall, this is a MUST read- esp. coming from an Indian author- a great debut here!

Kudos!

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Book Launch of “Sun Tzu- The Art of War”

Thursday, 5th April, 2012
RSI, Pune

But life takes you places – and mine saw me attend an informal book unveiling and discussion event at the RSI, amidst renown and senior (in rank and age) Armed Forces Officials on a pleasant Thursday evening.

Col. Vinay B. Dalvi‘s debut non-fiction “Sun-Tzu: The Art of War” is dedicated to the Indian Army. For those who don’t know, Sun Tzu wrote the Art of War in China 2500 years ago!
It is the earliest known treatise on the subject of war which has never been surpassed in comprehensiveness and depth of understanding.

The evening saw Col. Vinay B. Dalvi give his audience an outline of the 13 chapters and as many as 389 thoughts penned in the book.
“But the one thought I’d like to share with you all is this: If you know your enemy, you’ve won 50% of the battle; If you know yourself you’ve won 50% of the battle. So if you know your enemy and yourself, you’ve won 100% of the battle,” he pointed out.

He had the audience in splits when he commented, “Oh and yes, this doesn’t work on your better half!”

We then saw Vice Admiral SCS Bangara and Lt. Gen. Ashok Joshi unveil the book, along with the author and Mr. Rajan Arya (CEO- Pentagon Press).

The noted dignitary spoke about the book and its content to quite an extent, and it indeed was enlightening. Though I don’t have an army background, I have a lot of friends who do. And I could relate to a lot of their stories about life at the NDA. The discussion saw the veterans speak about Leadership amongst Officers and how the NDA is a platform to groom and polish and recognize them. Maj Gen V.K. Madhok’s absence was extremely noticeable (due to unavoidable personal reasons he couldn’t make it to the launch), but his support was heartily appreciated by the author in his address.

 

(L-R: Vice Admiral SCS Bangara, Lt. Gen. Ashok Joshi, author Col. Vinay B. Dalvi, Mr. Rajan Arya- CEO Pentagon Press)

 

One noteworthy thing about the evening was the presence of Mr. Rajan Arya at the event. Its not often that publishers accompany the author for a book launch, but having read about Mr. Arya I was pleasantly taken aback at his modesty and enthusiasm of promoting new authors, and his willingness to publish books that are essentially non-fiction, and more so of political/relevant issues of concern today.

Maj Gen (Dr) G.D. Bakshi, SM, VSM (Retd) has written the foreword while Maj Gen Raj Mehta, AVSM, VSM, (Retd) has written the afterword for the book. And both of them have provided quite a clear and comprehensive idea about The Art of War, summarizing with its influence and applications.

I personally feel this book is beyond boundaries of any particular subject. It should be read by all. After all, Leaders are not just born. Sometimes they need to be groomed and polished and guided.

This (book) does go up in my “to read” list right away!

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Book Review of “The Fallen Love” by Rashmi Singh

The Fallen Love

By Rashmi Singh

The word love has such a mixed connotation. And bringing its nuances is Rashmi Singh’s latest fictional novel- The Fallen Love.

It spans the love that the main protagonist Rohan feels – for his mom, his first crush Shilpi, then Radhika and towards the end Madhuri. His fate makes him experience the pain of losing people he loves the most, or so he feels. So when it comes to Madhuri, Rohan pledges to strive for it and make it last…forever.

The story moves back-n-forth in time detailing Rohan’s present affluent status and his highly underprivileged background, during his growing up years. The dramatic and horrendous circumstances that bestow misery and grief are well highlighted by the author. And so are the sensually arousing love scenes, described quite finely without a hint of sleaze and disgust.

Life isn’t as simple as we want it. And it shouldn’t be. Without trying moments of misery and depression how are we to enjoy the happiness and joy of success and prosperity and love, of course!
The story shows many facets of the human nature- greed, friendship, relationships, compassion, benevolence…all tied by the thread of love.

I would suggest you pick it up and give it a read. The story has twists that will make you sit up and take note of the adversities Rohan faces and the trials he undergoes and how he realizes that love doesn’t come easy- and that giving up is not the way to go. Fighting for the one you love shows courage and real strength and dedication.

The author has put in a new perspective. The story shows growth for the author and her writing skills. The language used in this one shows a bold face of the modern contemporary youth. It makes you ponder on a lot many aspects, only to then realize – it is all but a story.
An enjoyable read.

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