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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Iran: fear of foreign plotters may be justified | Simon Tisdall

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18 June 2009

Source: The Hindu

The paranoia about interference from the West is worrying — but it may also be justified.

Long-term instability in Iran is an alarming prospect for western countries keen to resolve disputes over the country’s nuclear programme and other contentious issues. But continuing political weakness in Tehran is also likely to produce the opposite effect — increased regime concern about external attempts to interfere, destabilise, and exploit its vulnerabilities. This paranoid trend threatens unpredictable, even dangerous consequences – but may be justified.

Pinning blame for Iran’s post-election turmoil on Continue reading

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Who are the “Taliban” in Swat? | Humeira Iqtidar

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( Dated Piece | 30 April 2009 )

Source: Open Democracy

The distorting glare of the mainstream media obscures a more complex reality in restive Pakistan

Who are the ” Taliban” in Pakistan? Islamist militants in the country have won significant international attention after wrestling control over the Swat Valley, the restive region in northern Pakistan where elements of sharia law are now in place. Yet these militants do not self-identify as “Taliban”, unlike the Afghan Taliban who chose the name for themselves, and preferred it to the then generic term “mujahideen”. The term “Taliban” means students; the original Taliban were educated in madrassas, religious schools. Groups and individuals that are being labelled the “Taliban in Pakistan” (TIP) are very different from their Afghan counterparts in important respects. It is pertinent not just to think through the implications of these differences but also to raise questions about why distinguishing details are being lost in the media frenzy of recent months.

In Swat, the group that has gained the most notoriety in recent months calls itself Tehreek Nifaz e Sharia Mohammadi (TNSM).  This can be roughly translated as the “Movement for the 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

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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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Obama endorses missile attacks – Anwar Iqbal

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Source: DAWN

WASHINGTON, Jan 24: Hours after US missiles killed 22 people in Fata, President Barack Obama convened a meeting of his top national security advisers and endorsed the decision to continue drone strikes into Pakistan.

The US media, quoting unidentified official sources, reported that the first meeting of Mr Obama’s National Security Council focused on Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The New York Times reported on Saturday that the decision to attack alleged terrorist targets in Fata on Friday “dispelled for the moment any notion that Mr Obama would rein in the Predator attacks.”

The Washington Post noted that the strikes Continue reading

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