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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



BJP Minister caught urinating in public near campaign poster, Calls it ‘Old-age Tradition’



Ajmer, Oct 8: A picture of Bhartiya Janata Party minister urinating near a wall, next to a campaign poster featuring chief minister Vasundhara Raje is making rounds on social media.

The minister, Shambhu Singh Khatesar, justified himself by saying that urinating publicly was “an age-old tradition” and he had done nothing wrong.

Speaking to media Khatesar said, “There was a wall and some posters stuck at some distance on it. I hadn’t paid attention. It isn’t right to urinate in open but it’s a natural call. Urinating in a crowded area, is wrong”.

On the Narendra Modi government cleanness drive the minister stated “As far as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is concerned, urination alone doesn’t contribute to uncleanliness. That place did not have urinals for kilometers at a stretch”.


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IMD issues cyclone alert for Odisha



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Bhubneshwar, Oct 8:  The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday said a depression over the Bay of Bengal is likely to concentrate into a cyclonic storm during the next 48 hours.

Under its impact, several parts of Odisha will receive heavy rainfall starting from October 9.

Fishermen have been advised not to venture into deep sea areas of the Bay of Bengal from October 9 to 12 as the sea condition would be rough.

While rainfall at many places with heavy downpour at isolated places over south coastal Odisha is likely to occur on Tuesday, heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places over coastal Odisha is likely to occur on Wednesday.

It further predicted rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy downpours at a few places and extremely heavy downpour at isolated places over coastal and adjoining interior Odisha on Thursday.

The IMD said squally winds with speeds reaching 45-55 kmph to 65 kmph are very likely along and off north Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal coasts from October 9.

It is very likely to increase gradually, reaching 70-80 kmph to 90 kmph from October 10 evening onwards along and off south Odisha and adjoining districts of north Andhra Pradesh coasts, said H.R. Biswas, Bhubaneswar Met centre Director.


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Russia, Pakistan sign MoU on gas pipeline from Iran



Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline

Moscow, Sep 28 (IANS) Russia and Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding on implementing a project to build an underwater gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and India, the Russian Energy Ministry said in a statement Thursday.

“The memorandum provides for the identification of authorized organisations through which the project will be supported, including during the development of a feasibility study, identification of the resource base, configuration and route of the gas pipeline,” the statement said, Xinhua reported.

Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky and Pakistan’s Ministry of Energy Additional Secretary Sher Afgan Khan signed the document in Moscow.

Now Russia will have to inform Iran and India about the signing, after which it expects to sign a similar document with India, Yanovsky said in the statement.

The project was frozen in 2013 due to the imposition of sanctions against Iran, but its revival started in 2017. In November 2017, Russia and Iran signed a memorandum that envisaged Russian support for gas supplies from Iran to India.

In March, a Russian-Iranian working group on the implementation of the project had its first meeting.

According to Yanovsky, Russia and Pakistan were holding consultations on another project of building the 1,100 kilometer North-South Gas Pipeline (NSGP) between Pakistan’s Karachi and Lahore to transport 12.3 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

The implementation of an agreement signed in October last year between Russia and Pakistan on Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies “can become a promising direction of cooperation,” he said.

The governments of the two countries were also considering signing an agreement on Russian oil products supplies to Pakistan, Yanovsky said.

In addition, Russian electric power industry has shown interest in the Pakistani market, he said.

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