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Showing posts from November, 2007

Who wants to be a Fascist?

BudhdhadevBhattacharya, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, commented upon the recent violence of Nandigram - 'they have been paid back by their own coins' - commenting upon his party-workers' recent assault on Nandigram, an unremarkable village in West Bengal where an unique people's resistance movement to the Government's land acquisition took form. The resisting few had outside help - from an assortment of opposition parties and left-wing guerrillas - and they have fought for their corner. They managed to cut off the roads, and embarrassed and terrorised police, who managed to torture and fire upon innocent civilians in some cases. Then came the CPIM Cadres, armed and facilitated by the state machinery, while police stood by and in fact blocked everyone else from reaching the village. The Governor of the state lodged a protest, but CPIM created a huge ruckus on his comments. The cadres invaded Nandigram and flushed out the resistance - while scores of central sec…

The Reluctant Fundamentalist - A Review

I read this novel by Mohsin Hamid non-stop, over a few hours this Sunday. It is written in a witty, engaging, conversational style, telling the story of a Pakistani boy who studied in Princeton and worked for a highly esteemed financial services company, only to find himself at odds with America in the wake of the tension of India-Pakistan stand off after the attack on Indian Parliament, 9/11 and the tragic turn in his love life.

There is a lot to like this novel. It is easy to identify yourself with the central character, the ambitions, constraints and reservations very familiar. Its style is engaging, and wit, disarming. The novel contains a subtle description of life in Lahore, its oldness, its markets and its people. It depicts New York too, may be with less conviction, but with no less love.

However, it suffers from - in my view - one crucial drawback. Conviction. It remains difficult to fathom why Changiz - the central character - does what he does. There is a certain unreasonable…

Emergency in Pakistan

President Musharaf has made history by being the only Pakistani president in history to impose emergency twice. Lot of commentators say that the situation is alike Martial Law, which has been imposed on the country no less than five times in its sixty year history.

However, what’s interesting to me is what the President said in his TV speech – “I appeal to my critics – give us time! Your democracies have matured over centuries, but ours is a new one and needs time. We are making great progress, but it is necessary, from time to time, to correct the course.”

It is very similar to what a prominent Bangladeshi blogger wrote, in defending the martial law in Bangladesh: “Over the last thousand years, Bangalees have not had much autonomous democratic control of their destinies. We have been ruled during this time from Delhi or London or Islamabad. Even since 1971, our political leaders have often been autocratic leaders. So theoretically speaking we have had at best 15 years in the last 1500 …

Indian English

I visited an IELTS Training centre in Hyderabad today – Institute of Articulate Communication! Or, was it “Articulative (!) Communication”? Don’t remember, but this proves a point.

The point is – something new is happening to Indian English. Consider this: “The fast-growing, developing world uses the home as a sleeping bag and the office cubicle as a garden of courtship. Skin to skin is no sin, it helps to relax and truly pluralistic relationships are polygamous. Fidelity has many definitions and it is an insult to human heart when it is divided into categories in a reductionist manner.” I quoted that paragraph from India Today magazine’s round-table discussion on marriage and infidelity, and this is Dr. Harish Shetty, a psychiatrist.

Or, this – the anti-nuclear deal parties are ‘stone age obscurantist’ and pro ones are ‘stooges’ and ‘sell-out-ists’! Recently, in a business presentation, a very senior doctor was trying to impress my British associates by telling them that they can succe…

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