Forgotten Prophet
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Forgotten Prophet
The name of Amaury de Riencourt is known in academic circles for The Soul of India and The Eye of Shiva. His earlier books, The Coming Caesars and The American Empire, are hardly ever mentioned. They were published over 40 years ago. Amaury, whom I have known for 43 years, lives in an enchanting house, overlooking Lake Geneva. He has now become a recluse. He is 85, comes from a prominent aristocratic French family and can trace his ancestry to the 12th century.

Amaury had predicted four decades ago that in the US, the President would assume powers which the US Constitution had not bestowed on the Executive. This is precisely what has happened after September 11, 2001. Amaury had also predicted that the US will be the singlemost powerful country in the world, with a reach unknown and unheard of. Here again, he has proved right. The Coming Caesars and The American Empire are out of print. Some publishing house should reprint them.

Song In The Vale
During the past decade and a half, Jammu and Kashmir gradually turned into a political casino where elections were rigged and the bad guys won. At last the long-suffering and courageous people of the state have breathed new life into the political and electoral process in that unhappy and incomparably beautiful land. The voters defied death threats, the candidates ignored calls for their assassination. The ramifications and long-term consequences of this momentous electoral earthquake are gradually beginning to sink in. The Congress received 31 per cent of the vote and increased its tally from four to 20. The party lost at least six seats with margins ranging from 40 to 500. Party president Sonia Gandhi took a grave risk by going to Srinagar. She inspired party workers and promised good governance to the people. No other national leader visited the Valley during the election campaign.

The NC got 28 seats. Down by 29. Farooq Abdullah is wonderful company, is witty, irreverent, ebullient, courtesy personified, hospitable and a good friend. Sitting in an office and poring over files is not his forté. Beyond a point, his free-wheeling style, his frequent jaunts abroad earned him the title of NRCM or Non-Resident Chief Minister. When the cat is away, the mice have a free ride. The state bureaucracy could ask for nothing more congenial. They ruled or misruled as they pleased. I'm confident the new dispensation will end the administrative high-handedness and make the bureaucracy an instrument for efficient and honest governance.

An offshoot of these elections is the Vajpayee government's intention to include Abdullah senior into the central cabinet and as of today also allow Abdullah junior to continue as minister of state. The sensible young man has resigned, but our laid-back PM refuses to let him go. This is nothing short of a tragic farce.

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Delhi Diary
K. Natwar Singh

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