April 1, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The Victorian period, often viewed in the West as a time of self-confident progress, was experienced by many Asians as a catastrophe. As the British gunned down the last heirs to the Mughal Empire, burned down the Summer Palace in Beijing, or humiliated the bankrupt rulers of the Ottoman Empire, it was clear that for Asia to recover, a vast intellectual effort would be required.
Pankaj Mishra, author of From the Ruins of Empire, explores the historical fallout of the end of the Qing, Ottoman and Mughal empires with historian and filmmaker Michael Wood. (See Pulse’s review of Mishra’s book)
March 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
In the following interview, recorded in 1983, Salman Rushdie speaks about his book Midnight’s Children, winner of the Booker Prize in 1981 and the Best of Booker award in 2008.
August 31, 2012 § Leave a Comment
by Saffi Ullah Ahmad
In what is a bitter irony, whilst reaping the PR benefits of association with the 2012 Paralympics, the Dow Chemical Corporation is directly responsible for wave after wave of disability in faraway lands.
Today begin London’s 2012 Paralympics, set to be opened by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. For another two weeks, we will hear Lord Sebastian Coe and other LOCOG officials’ lofty statements not just about the games’ alleged spirit of inclusiveness but also about their role in the empowerment of disabled people and the challenging of misconceptions around disability. Such pomp and pageantry however, is disingenuous to its core, something recognised by many disability rights campaigners.
Dogging the games for several months now has been controversy relating to corporate sponsorship from a variety of the world’s murkiest companies. The Paralympic games allow for what The Nation’s Dave Zirin has termed ‘corporate sin washing’ more than any other athletic spectacle.
As many have noted, from McDonalds and Coca-Cola, partly responsible for obesity epidemics worldwide, to British Petroleum, notorious for off-shore drilling and funding climate change denial, the list of sponsors leaves one bewildered.
August 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
On 18 July 2012, P. Sainath talked about “Slumdogs vs. Millionaires” at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS) of Göttingen University. P. Sainath is a distinguished journalist and critical observer of society and politics in today’s India. He is Rural Affairs Editor at the English-language newspaper “The Hindu”, but also publishes extensively in other media worldwide.
March 12, 2012 § 1 Comment
This is a recording of a speech made by Arundhati Roy as a part of the 4th series of lecture under the Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Trust Lecture that was delivered on the 20th of January, 2012 at Xaviers college, Mumbai, India.
March 1, 2012 § 1 Comment
by Arif Ayaz Parrey
This piece first appeared in the Honour newsmagazine.
Every night, when she drops the slightly bluish liquid into a glass of water, Nisaare feels pride more than embarrassment, or even disgrace. The liquid is a sedative drug. The glass of water is meant for her husband. She feels reassured that she has dealt with the loss of their son much better than he has.
Nine years have passed since the death of their only child in an ‘encounter’ with the Rashtriya Rifles. He had been a bashful young man; not the kind you would easily associate with militant revolution. He had gone ‘across’ for ‘training’ simply because everybody in his peer group had, and he did not want to be the only one left behind. Any other motives he had are buried with him and will surely be summoned back to life one day. On his return, he was of little help to the group because he would not shoot to kill. He had been barely audible when he had expressed his ideological opposition to ambush. He had stated that he would much rather fight the soldiers openly. The commanders assigned him the role of a donation collector during the day and a patrol at night.
February 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
Our friend Paul Woodward of the indispensable War in Context asks some pertinent questions about the attacks on Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia:
Have we reached a quite predictable moment where counter-terrorism needs redefining? In other words, that when car bombings initiated by one state-sponsor of terrorism provoke a counter-attack of the same kind, that we should call such an attack an act of counter-terrorism?
Only last week there was confirmation from U.S. government officials that Israel is a state-sponsor of terrorism, having trained and deployed Iranian dissidents to conduct car bombings killing civilians in Iran. By internationally accepted definitions of terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism, there’s no question these were acts of terrorism and Israel’s role in instigating them makes it a state-sponsor of terrorism.
Now it would appear that Israel is reaping the reward for its own actions as Israeli diplomats have been targeted in India and Georgia. The attack in Delhi appears to have involved the use of the same method favored by Mossad — a magnetic bomb attached to the Israelis’ car by a passing motorcyclist.
January 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
by Pankaj Mishra
Growing up in India in the 1970s and 80s, I often heard people in upper-caste middle class circles say that parliamentary democracy was ill-suited to the country. Recoiling from populist politicians who pandered to the poor, many Indians solemnly invoked the example of Singapore’s leader Lee Kuan Yew. Here was an Oxbridge-educated and suitably enlightened autocrat, who suffered no nonsense about democracy, and, furthermore, believed firmly in the efficacy of publicly caning even minor breakers of the law. Devising his wise policies with the help of experts and technocrats, he simply imposed them on the population. Lee Kuan Yew’s success in transforming a city-state into a major economic power was apparent to all: clean, shiny, efficient, and prosperous Singapore, the very antithesis of corrupt and squalor-prone India.
Such yearnings for technocratic utopia may seem to have little in common with the middle class protests against “corruption” that recently gained much attention before abruptly losing steam at the end of the year. Led by Anna Hazare—an army veteran described in the foreign press as a “simple man in a Gandhian cap” when he went on a hunger strike last summer— the movement was presented by sections of the media in both India and the West as a long overdue political awakening of the middle class, even as India’s “second freedom struggle.” With his unambiguous denunciations of venality in public life, Hazare seemed to have alerted tens of millions of otherwise apolitical Indians to the possibilities of civil society, mass mobilization, and grass-roots activism.
January 17, 2012 § 3 Comments
by Mohamad Junaid
[This essay is a response to the emerging discussions over the ‘appropriateness’ of the use of the word ‘genocide’ in the context of the Indian military occupation in Kashmir on PulseMedia and elsewhere on Facebook.]
But, which language? Which one language expresses all joyous, exhilarating, or traumatic experiences?
When Kashmiris are told to be precise in their language there are largely two positions involved: one, a sympathetic (if inadequate and self-censorious) one, which suggests that following ‘the convention’ will allow for legalistic interpretation and some form of retributive or ‘restorative’ justice. Often such a position traps itself in legal discourse, and by seeking to bottle people’s experiences into tight categories, fetishizes those categories, and in the end reduces the depth of traumatic experiences to mere data points on the grid of classification. This compliant and self-disciplining position forgets the origins of law in violence (and the inverse), and how ‘law’ serves to maintain ‘order’—which is, in other words, the systematized, legally endorsed structure of oppression. The peculiar claim to universalism (to create a universal system of law) that drives this position pays no heed to where, and for whom, these supposedly ‘universal’ categories of law are created, and what connection law has with power or ‘international’ law with the empire. « Read the rest of this entry »