A Critic of Civilization

ONE: The Story of the Ultimate Myth

by Mansoor Khan

Harper Collins India, 2023, Pp. 145

Available at Amazon Rs. 449/-


It is a gem of a book! It is a small book, 145 pages. It is a fiction, a novella. Very satisfactory reading! Reminds me of the feeling I got after reading some of the great novellas – Lu Hsun’s ‘The true Story of Ah Q’ or Rajinder Singh Bedi’s ‘Ek Chadar Maili Si’. It has the touch of a film editor – not a single wasted word.


Mansoor Khan wore many hats in his 65 years of life. Born in Hyderabad, Telangana, in 1958, he is the son of Nasir Hussain, a filmmaker. He attended IIT Bombay, Cornell and MIT to study electronics, before joining his family profession of film making. He directed the award winning blockbuster ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’ and four years later produced another successful film: Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. He moved to Coonoor in the Nilgiris and had a 30 acre farm and ran a home stay and produced cheese. In 2012 he published his analysis of the current crisis of capitalism, ‘The Third Curve: The End of Growth as we know it’.


In the present book he takes his analysis further. His thesis is that civilization is the single human culture behind the convergent global crisis often erroneously blamed on all humans. By the word civilization he means man’s control over nature, modifying it for his own benefit, beginning with agriculture some 10,000 years ago. This he contrasts with indigenous culture of hunter gatherers.

OneThere is a long tradition of it, starting with Henry David Thoreau’s nineteenth century book, ‘Walden’. So powerful is the tradition that Walden is still in print. More recently as the author himself acknowledges is the book by Fukuoka, ‘One Straw Revolution’ and the strain of primitive anarchism by Zerzen and others.

The beauty of the book lies in the fact it is that he does it through fiction. There are two protagonists in it. One is Sonal, a professor of social anthropology who, while supporting the Indian movement of the Param Nadi Bachao Andolan loses her mind. The other is Abhay, a plant genetic engineer who, confronted by an anti GMO activist realizes that his research on GMO, instead solving the world hunger problem, may end up harming as did earlier chemical agriculture. He loses his job and becomes a paranoid fugitive.

They come together and put together a theory, attempt to apply it in a practical way and in the process cure themselves also. However there is a dramatic tragic end to the story.

There is a book within the book, called ‘ONE’.  It is Abhay’s book on his theory. It is beautifully explained with the help of graphics. That makes it a special feature of the book.

The fiction form and the background to contemporary Indian movement make it easy for the Indian activists to relate and make the book credible and convincing. Thus it is addressed to the Indian ‘green’ activists, but as the author, ‘truly believes that this book must be ‘seeked’ and not given.’ So, do go and buy it if you think it resonates with your ideas! And if you are intrigued with these ideas, reading the book may enlighten you too!

About the Author

T Vijayendra (1943 – ) was born in Mysore, grew up in Indore and went to IIT Kharagpur to get a B. Tech. in Electronics (1966). After a year’s stint at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, he got drawn into the whirlwind times of the late 60s.

Since then, he has always been some kind of political-social activist. His brief for himself is the education of Left-wing cadres and so he almost exclusively publishes in the Left-wing journal Frontier, published from Kolkata. For the last ten years, he has been active in the field of ‘Peak Oil’ and is a founder member of Peak Oil India and Ecologise. Since 2015 he has been involved in Ecologise! Camps and in 2016 he initiated Ecologise Hyderabad. In 2017 he spent a year celebrating the Bicentenary of the Bicycle. Vijayendra has been a ‘dedicated’ cyclist all his life, meaning, he neither took a driving license nor did he ever drive a fossil fuel-based vehicle.

He divides his time between Hyderabad and organic farms at several places in India, watching birds and writing fiction. He has published a book dealing with resource depletion, three books of essays, two collections of short stories, a novella, an autobiography and a children’s science fiction story on the history of the bicycle, apart from booklets on several topics. His booklet, Kabira Khada Bazar Mein: Call for Local Action in the Wake of Global Emergency (2019, https://archive.org/details/kabira-khada-bazaar-mein) has been translated into Kannada, Bengali and Marathi and is the basic text for the emerging Transition Networks in these language regions. His last book ‘Vijutopias’, which has 12 short stories, is an entertaining book full of hope and energy in these dismal times.

Email: [email protected]


Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News