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No Valentine’s Day: Love’s tortured course in Cold War



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Valentine’s Day is coming and as love blooms or advances for many young in age or heart, consider its course in difficult situations. Truth is the first casualty in wars, but so is romance. The conflict doesn’t even need to be a shooting war – even undeclared conflicts like the Cold War can be daunting and hazardous for lovers – particularly if they are on opposing sides.

But like many other human misfortunes, love in the Cold War with all its travails, tragedies but (some) triumphs too, makes for some memorable but haunting stories. Most were adapted for the screen and have become iconic films but also remain equally well-read books too.

Love is always not genuine – initially – in some cases, being either an amoral tool for different, usually sinister, motives or even accidental. But then the best-laid plans, or even intentions, of humans can (and do) go awry, for love, true to its overpowering nature, can subvert all other reasons and motives, make hardened men (and women) act atypically or recklessly, and can achieve unexpected outcomes.

The most famous arguably, though not the first of its kind, was a bleak story by a retired intelligence operative who went on to become a most celebrated writer of the espionage genre.

“The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” (1963) was David Cornwell alias John Le Carre’s third novel but successful enough to convince him to turn a full-time writer, earn him renown (especially after the 1965 film adaptation) and remain a major influence on the genre.

It is about Alec Leamas, a burnt-out spy, being sent to (the then) East Germany for a mission, whose motive only becomes evident in the narrative progresses – and offers a sharp look at how amoral even liberal democracies can be in security matters. It, however, strikes a more deeper, mournful chord, in its cynical manipulation of romance, especially when this draws in Leamas’ oblivious English girlfriend.

Liz, an idealistic Communist, ultimately ends up paying a price for the operation’s success and Leamas unhesitatingly chooses his own course too from atop the Berlin Wall.

And possibly the first Cold War novel to use romance as a key plot element was Ian Fleming’s “From Russia With Love” (1957). The fifth in his James Bond series and purportedly among US President John F Kennedy’s 10 favourite reads, it sees the British spy service receive an intriguing offer.

A young cipher clerk, Tatiana Romanova, posed in Istanbul, has fallen in love with Bond – after seeing his photo in a file and wants to defect. She makes the offer irresistible by promising to bring out a Spektor, a Russian decoding device much desired by the British, but has a condition – she wants him to come there and escort her.

Though we come to know of what the fiendishly intricate Soviet plot this masks right away, the thrill is in reading to know if Bond and his agency will fall into the trap, how it will play out and what will happen eventually. It also became the second Bond film.

Another classic where love is used to seek other motives, though much more positive, could be seen in Frederick Forsyth’s “The Devil’s Alternative” (1979) – one of his rare, early books not to be adapted into a film. It sets a fiendish set of interlocked options before the US President, with each promising to lead to a major disaster, before British secret agent Adam Munro, who is getting some vital information from his former Russian lover, steps in. And it is the only at the end where Munro learns how he was set up.

But there are also those where the individuals concerned seek to make their own destiny, and there are some helpful people around. In this strain is the neglected classic – Evelyn Anthony’s “The Tamarind Seed” (1971), which inverts the usual order by having a Soviet male character.

British Home Office employee Judith Farrow, holidaying in the Caribbean after a failed affair with a married British minister, meets vacationing military attache Feodor Sverdlov and they fall in love, despite the hackles it raises on both their sides. Will they have a future together – or even survive for it is the crux of this pulsing adventure, which also became a noted film starring Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif.

Then the last in this series, for it came as the Cold War was winding down was Le Carre’s “Russia House” (1989), made next year into a film starring Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer.

British publisher Bartholomew “Barley” Scott Blair, visiting Moscow for a book fair, meets an enigmatic Russian man who is impressed with his views and chooses him as a recipient for some secret information. The conduit is Katya with whom Blair falls in love. But pressed to obtain more information while his source and Katya are in danger, our hero must decide whom to betray – his country or his love?

What would you do?

By Vikas Datta



Unhappy Naresh Agarwal joins BJP, says SP prefered Bollywood actress over me as RS candidate



Naresh Agarwal
Naresh Agarwal joins BJP (Photo-ANI)

The Samajwadi Party leader, Naresh Agarwal on Monday joined BJP in the presence of Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal and BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.

While joining BJP, Naresh Agarwal who is currently the Rajya Sabha member of Samajwadi Party said, “I am joining the BJP as I think that until you are in National Party, you cannot do anything for the society. I am also impressed by PM Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and UP CM Yogi. I still respect Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav, but the current scenario in SP where it is doing a coalition with Congress and sometimes BSP is very sad.”

The leader joined BJP after the Samajwadi party nominated actor and politician Jaya Bachchan for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election in April. The party had to choose between Naresh Agarwal and Jaya Bachchan as they don’t have enough legislators in the assembly to support their candidate.

Talking about Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha candidate, Jaya Bachchan he said, “My comparison was drawn with those working in films… I was rejected for those who dance in films, work in films. I found it not proper. Nobody found it proper.”

Agarwal became tv channels and newspaper’s headline for making controversial statements. In July 2017, he courted controversy in Rajya Sabha by associating Hindu Gods with alcohol, while speaking on the issue of mob violence related with cow protection. However, after his statement, he was made to apologise by BJP.


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India, Pakistan should decide to think of peace: Farooq Abdullah on ceasefire violations



Farooq Abdullah
National Conference party leader, Farooq Abdullah (File Photo)

Kashmir:  National Conference party leader Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday spoke about the situation on the India- Pakistan border in Kashmir. 

The leader speaking on the continous ceasefire violation said,”this will continue to happen.”

The leader urging both the countries to find a diplomatic solution said,”firing will continue to happen on both sides unless the two nations decide to think of peace.”

“The sooner they think about it, the sooner it will stop,” he added.

However this is not the first time when Abdullah has asked for diplomatic solutions, earlier the leader stated that war is not the solution of the Kashmir issue.


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Kabul seeks closure of Taliban’s Qatar office



Taliban office in Qatar
Taliban office in Qatar (Photo- The Newyork Times)

Doha, Feb 24: Kabul has started discussions with the Qatari government to close the Taliban office in Doha as it has had “no positive consequence in terms of facilitating the peace talks with the group in Afghanistan”, a senior government official has said.

“There is no need to keep the office open”, said Mohammad Hanif Atmar, National Security Advisor to President Ashraf Ghani, in an interview with Middle East newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat earlier this week.

“The aim behind opening (Taliban’s) Qatar office was to start official peace negotiations with the terror group from the address, but so far no official negotiation from the office has been started with government. Even a single step has not been taken forward in the peace process through this office,” Qadir Shah, a spokesman for Atmar’s office said.

“It had no benefit for us even after seven years… It is better to close it,” Atmar said.

He also said that Kabul has so far witnessed no sign of “sincere” cooperation from Islamabad in counter-terrorism efforts.

The Taliban had earlier reached out to the US with an offer for talks and urged people to pressurize Washington to bring an end to the invasion of Afghanistan.

The Taliban had said that they preferred to resolve the conflict that began in 2001 through peaceful dialogue and warned that the use of force alone would complicate the problem in Afghanistan.

The group had called on the “American people and the peace-loving Congressmen” to pressurize US leadership to end the occupation of the Asian country, a precondition that Taliban has always maintained to begin any negotiation.


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