RACISM & NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS | NEWS/COMMENTARY


Democracy’s Failing Light: Is democracy a hit with humans because it mirrors our myopia? | Arundhati Roy

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3 July 2009

Source: Outlook India

While we’re still arguing about whether there’s life after death, can we add another question to the cart? Is there life after democracy? What sort of life will it be? By democracy I don’t mean democracy as an ideal or an aspiration. I mean the working model: Western liberal democracy, and its variants, such as they are.

So, is there life after democracy?

Attempts to answer this question often turn into a comparison of different systems of governance, and end with a somewhat prickly, combative defence of democracy. It’s flawed, we say. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better than everything else that’s on offer. Inevitably, someone in the room will say: ‘Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia…is that what you would prefer?’

Whether democracy should be the utopia that all ‘developing’ societies aspire to is a separate question altogether. (I think it should. The early, idealistic phase can be quite heady.) The question about life after democracy is addressed to those of us who already live in democracies, or in countries that pretend to be democracies. It isn’t meant to suggest that we lapse into older, discredited models of totalitarian or authoritarian governance. It’s meant to suggest that the system of representative democracy-too much representation, too little democracy-needs some structural adjustment.

The question here, really, is: what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasised into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the Free Market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of Continue reading

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Partitioned Selves, Partitioned Pasts: A Commentary on Ashis Nandy’s “Death of an Empire” | Vinay Lal

india-pakistan-partition-genocide

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Source: Manas

Outside South Asia, the partition of India evokes little recognition. As the British left India, the largest single migration in history took place: well over ten million, and perhaps as many as fifteen million, people crossed borders, and a million or more became the victims of murderous assaults. Both the Governments of India and Pakistan established commissions for the “recovery” of abducted women who numbered in several tens of thousands. Numbing as these figures are, they barely register in world histories: perhaps that indifference to the calamity that afflicted India and Pakistan betokens the view that Continue reading

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THE DEATH OF AN EMPIRE – Ashis Nandy

partition-genocide-india-pakistan1

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Source: Sarai

Independence did not come to South Asia as a single, identifiable event in 1947, though that is way most South Asians like to remember it. The slow, painful process of dismantling British India began with the great Calcutta riots and ended with the genocide in Punjab.

I was Continue reading

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A psychological study of India’s Partition – A sketch of Ashis Nandy’s recent lecture at UC Berkeley

india_partition_genocide1

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Source: Sanhati

A sketch of Ashis Nandy’s recent lecture at UC Berkeley. March 13, 2009

It was not hatred, but a strong undercurrent of humanity, that was the surprising finding of research on the traumatic bloodbath of the Partition, iconoclastic Indian researcher Ashis Nandy told an audience March 3 at the University of California.

Nandy made some unconventional points: Even in the terrible bloodbath that claimed the lives of millions, as many as one in four people among survivors said they were saved by the other community, and their fondest memories were still of Continue reading

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The Monster in the Mirror – Arundhati Roy

The Mumbai attacks have been dubbed ‘India’s 9/11’, and there are calls for a 9/11-style response, including an attack on Pakistan. Instead, the country must fight terrorism with justice, or face civil war.

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12 December 2008

We’ve forfeited the rights to our own tragedies. As the carnage in Mumbai raged on, day after horrible day, our 24-hour news channels informed us that we were watching “India’s 9/11”. Like actors in a Bollywood rip-off of an old Hollywood film, we’re expected to play our parts and say our lines, even though we know it’s all been said and done before.

As tension in the region builds, US Senator John McCain has warned Pakistan that if it didn’t act fast to arrest the “Bad Guys” he had personal information that India would launch air strikes on “terrorist camps” in Pakistan and that Washington could do nothing because Mumbai was India’s 9/11.

But November isn’t September, 2008 isn’t 2001, Pakistan isn’t Afghanistan and India isn’t Continue reading

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