An Open Letter to United States

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There was a time, not long ago when I used to think that people in United States are super affluent who can buy anything their heart wishes for. Be it bungalows or luxury cars or fashion accessories, that there is absolutely nothing which can dodge your purchasing power. And despite all the spending you still have money left to wage wars and to donate charity organizations. Somewhere in the middle, I read the novel “The Street lawyer” by John Grisham and understood that like every country there are people extremely poor who can’t even afford a house even in US. But, even that I imagined to be as something of past rather than present. As I grew and had become more accessible to Internet, I understood that the country is deeply divided between the advantages which I had always imagined it to uphold and the problems which even India as a developing country doesn’t face. I intend to break this post into three paragraphs which I also believe are the current burning issues faced by your country.

Your Expenditures:

When I know that I have just the sufficient money either to buy a play station CD or to buy groceries for the upcoming month I would choose the latter. As a matter of fact any rational person would do that. But as a country why do you choose to spend money on the sustenance of 7000 odd nuclear war heads when the cold war has ended instead of subsidizing the tuition fee for graduates who struggle big time to clear back their loans. Why do you choose to operate 800 military bases around the world with tens of thousands of troops not in countries like Iraq or Afghanistan but in countries like Japan, South Korea and Western Europe instead of bringing down the market prices of medicines which are way too expensive than any other developed nation on the planet. How can we be strong from outside when we are crumbling from inside. How are we proving that capitalism and democracy are the efficient and ultimate ideals for the governance of any nation state ?

Your Foreign Policy:

Picture me as a person who owns dozens of advanced rifles. Now, imagine me bullying someone who wants to buy a shot gun arguing over him that he is damaging peace in the society. That is exactly how you appear to be like when you argue over Iran that it shouldn’t possess nuclear weapons. Now, that doesn’t mean I want Iran to hold nuclear weapons but I want every country on this planet to dismantle their arsenal (including my birth country India which hasn’t signed the non-proliferation treaty) so that no other country in this world would feel insecure (like Iran right now which is completely normal when the country which has overthrown their government is nuclear enabled) or find the necessity to build a bomb. You are the only country who can begin that change and it is not confined to this particular aspect. Countries will follow if you make a move towards energy efficiency and renewable energy or towards Internet freedom or any other progressive idea. Such vital is your leadership.

Your Political Attitude:

To the 50% of the people who do not vote in the elections: Politics is not like a luxury item in a mall where you get to choose either to pick it or not. Instead, it is a basic need like the food you eat or the clothes you wear daily. Your involvement could define the future history. To the 30% of the people who are either democratic or republican leaning: A political party is not a football club where you say Forever Blue or Forever Red. You may naturally have a predilection towards a party’s ideals. But how can you support the Democrats when national debt is mounting and smaller businesses are struggling to survive or the Republicans when the environment is degrading and gun violence has become rampant. Your ultimate decision should depend on the candidate and his leadership capability rather than his/her party affiliation. To the remaining 20% swing voters: The country is in your hands and it needs you more than ever !!

Conclusion:

You may be a country of 17 trillion dollar economy but you will have a scar on your prestige when you don’t address basic issues like maternity leaves which BTW is what I was referring to as a problem which even India doesn’t face in the introduction. Now to the big question, why am I even bothered about all this ? Because, when 2008 recession happened it is not just you who suffered but it is also us who lost jobs, incentives and privileges. India’s problems are India’s. Pakistan’s problems are Pakistan’s. But your problems are literally everyone’s. And the fact that your Debt-to-GDP ratio is at a dangerous 104% worries me that history might repeat itself. Made my point, I guess.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment !

CODE TO ZERO

Author      :  Ken Follet

My Rating :  3.4 / 5

220px-CodeToZeroCold war and particularly space race are often one of most discussed topics in the subject of History. Based on this theme, the way how CIA and KGB operate discreetly trying to steal information from each other through double agents is focused in this novel. Ken creates an air of tangible tension throughout the book which is obvious to the genre and storyline he has selected. Usually I mention the highlights of the book in my reviews but this time I would like to mention the things which I learned or felt during my reading.

1. Capitalism vs Communism:

                   “It is something which happens in your childhood, otherwise never”

Well, I should say that I disagree with Ken in this issue. As a kid I was inclined towards Russia and communist ideologies but as I grew I felt that true equality between people in a society can never be achieved even under the control of totalitarian government. Nevertheless, the idea of US born citizens getting influenced by the communist ideology and preparing themselves to deceive their country-land was marvellously narrated by the author. It almost seemed like the author was expressing his idea that sometimes basic instincts and notions dominate personal life and patriotism. I should admit that though I didn’t feel that his idea was practical – the dialogues between the characters were convincing enough.

2. Coup d’etat:

Though I personally believe that capitalism is a better ideology, I shall also note that this is exactly where US loses its points. I knew about the Taliban uprising and Iraqi regime change (partially before reading this book) but when the country of Guatemala was mentioned I came to know that Iraq and Afghanistan were just two of the many coup d’etat missions conducted by America for the benefit of its economic interests. Apparently it was evident how a large section of the society would raise their voice against government actions. But still, how come banana be the reason for a regime change ?!?!?!

3. Swinging relations:

As the story progresses, the hero of the story finds that the man whom he considered as a best friend tries to murder him and the woman who was his college love deceives him in marriage. Also, he comes to know that the man who he chooses to distrust and the woman who he has ignored turn out to help him at the right time. Well sometimes those misunderstandings happen in our lives too, don’t they ?? However, the lead of the story has lived with it for over a decade, too large time to avoid shock – common in espionage activities I guess.

Who can buy this book ?

If you are a person who love spying activities, secret missions, double agents and counter-fights, you will love this book. However you shouldn’t be expecting someone breaching into a foreign country and bringing down a criminal or an organization, rather you should settle with far less than that. Still, the book with its engrossing narration is worth a read if you are a lover of this genre. For others, go for it if you are too bored.

The Street Lawyer

Author: John Grisham

My Rating: 3.7 / 5

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One thing for sure to be known by all the readers of this book after its completion: “Basic attributes of Law”.  I had never read a novel ever before which puts you into engaging excitement right from page 2. Such was the impact left by Grisham but however you will never find that rush of adrenaline again apart from several minor occasions. The entire mood is primarily based on the lifestyle of squatters and the suffering of homeless people. Grisham too like Archer kept the vocabulary simple, perhaps to impress readers like me. I would like to mention the highlights of the book.

1. Trivial nature of money:

I loved this theme used by the author when the hero of the novel moves away from a million-dollar firm to a non-profit organization as a result of several circumstances faced unexpectedly. Ultimately he finds the joy in helping the dying and the destitute. The greediness of rich people and the unwillingness shown by them in helping the homeless is highlighted by the author. However, the lead of the story finds a radical change within himself from the extent where he used to charge a thick amount for his clients at the old firm and to the extent where he whole-heartedly refuses to charge even a single penny at his new firm. He recalls the memories from his graduation where all of his classmates promised to use their law education to help the righteous side without the lust for money. Money which once made him to stand up on his heels and chase down anything and almost everything has slowly become trivial to him.

2. Tenderness of relationships:

Probably, one of the common scenarios which we seldom observe in our own lives. In my opinion relationships get anchored when you spare and spend time with the other person and will break when you fail to do it. More or less this is what that happens to the hero of the story, he aims to become a partner at the firm and works hard and in order earns a lot from his billings but fails to better his relationship with his wife Claire. Claire, who works as a doctor doesn’t succeed in finding time as she too like her husband runs back of money and finally gets divorced to end an unsatisfying marriage. However, the hero finds an another woman later in the story but nevertheless, the author gives a beautiful message regarding the effects of uncompromising attitudes and imbroglios in relationships.

3. Uncertainity of future:

30 days is all that takes for the lead of the story to change his life drastically between two ends of his life. It thrilled me when I realized the fact about how unsure the future is and we never know what tomorrow holds for us. But, we do believe change is good and it happens for good reasons. We may lament for several events which occur in our lives but as our life progresses we realize that everything happens for a reason and it starts making perfect sense to us. The same theme is applicable to the hero who is initially bewildered by the circumstances he had faced but at the end he turns out to be a happy man, in fact a lot better than what he actually was !!!

Who can buy this book ?

The reason why I rated this book below 4 is due to the belabouring of the author on the lifestyle of homeless people which appeared unnecessary to me. Apart from that the book had a very good story-line with essential elements mixed up to keep the reader engrossed. All the newbies and first-time readers can buy this book due to the simple usage of vocabulary. Also, voracious readers looking for a slight change of genre can opt for it.

KANE & ABEL

Author       :  Jeffrey Archer

My Rating :  4.3 / 5

Kane and Abel

My first book of Archer and most probably the lengthiest novel I had ever read. The best part of it is that the level of the language used is not too high and would be appealing to any moderate speaker. A story spanning around 60 years including the struggles,  challenges, love, success and revenge of two men, one a native to America and the other, a Polish immigrant starting from their childhood spirits to youthful ambitions and to old age regrets and wishes. The historical incidents of The Titanic, World-war 1, 1929 depression, World-war 2 along with the parallel presence of U.S presidents from Hoover to Kennedy keeps the novel interesting and gives a gripping read. I want to mention the highlights of the book:

The Harvard Debate:

One of the splendid part of book, where the issue of the debate is primarily between the quality of life benefits and sustainability benefits of capitalist and socialist ideologies respectively of which one of the two heroes is a part. Four people with four different styles of representing themselves, some conventional and some unconventional, some taking a good initiative and others giving a good conclusion, one of them who had let his emotional intelligence come in rather than rational thinking, one of them who logically attacks the political platform, one of them speaking well to the point and the other with a gentle and persuasive presentation. From the incantations of American radicalism to failure of democratic socialism, the debate had a lot of aspects covered along which makes it one of the striking features of the novel. I kept wondering what it would be like being a part of such an intellectual session !!!!

 Struggle of prisoners:

The second hero of the novel, a native to Poland struggles himself against the fear of death and apprehensive future who has been kept in the dungeons for three years by the Germans during the World-war 1, later captured by the Russians and taken to the prisoner camps faces many brutal treatments in his life and finally reaches America to begin his new career full of hope and optimism. The author sharply points to the dealings of the prisoner camps and the pains and humiliation faced by the Polish people from both the sides during the war conditions. Can you believe that combining the fatalities of both the world wars, Poland has the highest number of human loss more than any other country on the planet including Germans? Even I was not aware of it till reading the novel……!!!!!

The ’29 depression:

I first came across this terminology during the 2008 recession period and all that I knew was depression is the next stage of recession and the situation in 1929 was worse than what we were facing in the early 21st century. Never before has such an interest been invoked into me particularly while reading a novel, which made me to browse the social and economic conditions during the Great Depression and the factors which have lead to it and how the situation has been pulled back completely. The author, of course, highlighted the mental disturbances faced by people during the period where many cases have even ended up into miserable suicides, how people changed from something to nothing within a matter of days, heavy growth of unemployment and nevertheless the struggles of both the heroes to fight for themselves and their trusted ones. This phase of chronology acts as a key changing point to the rest of the novel where the two heroes actually meet each other in person.

Who can buy this book?

As the age of both the leading characters ranges from birth-death, this book would be suitable for all the age groups. Some readers wish that the novel should never end. For such voracious readers, the good news is that there is a sequel for this book named as ‘The Prodigal Daughter’. Even I am looking forward to read it at the first opportunity. If you are a reader who imagine yourself as one of the characters in the book, then go ahead because I bet this one will not disappoint you and that’s for sure.