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Showing posts from December, 2018

Timely Meditations: Comrade Corbyn's Brexit

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There are times in politics when being in opposition isn't a bad thing. With Brexit tearing the Tory Party, and with it, politics as usual, apart, Jeremy Corbyn feels lucky to be sitting on the opposite side, watching the hapless Prime Minister trying to achieve the unachievable. So far, he has played the usual political game of obfuscation, never really taking a stance, letting the Tory Brexit fall apart on its own. Self-consciously, he stood up every day at the PMQs and got through it never really challenging the Prime Minister on the subject, almost making the point that her incompetence is self-evident. 
It was a clever stance. It is hard to do what-ifs, but one can possibly argue that Corbyn's lack of stance unleashed the Tory civil war in full view. The political calculation of the Labour front bench was perhaps to enjoy a period of calm, after all the Blairite sniping of the past couple of years, and keep everyone guessing. Without this, Jacob Rees Mogg's antics wo…

Timely meditations: The revolt of the elite

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It is always poor people's fault.
The world seems precarious at this moment. The neo-liberal activism since the 80s have destroyed the foundations of the Liberal system, its system of nations sustained by the welfare state: The neat structures of the world order seem to be withering away. 
A Russian president openly talks about the possibilities of nuclear war; the leaders of Britain and Germany precariously hang on to power in the face of right-wing revolutions while the prospect of a left revolution looks real in France; in the United States, private interests of the President trump his public duties. At the turn of 2018, chaos reigns.
If the newspapers have to be believed, it is all due to immigrants or poor people. In fact, it is immigrants AND poor people: Globalization unleashed people movements - from South and Central America to North America, from North Africa and the Middle East to Europe and from East to West Europe - and this has made the poor people in the developed …

Coming of the Non-MOOC

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With EdX's announcement that they have finally decided to search for sustainability by limiting the access to their online courses, the much awaited moment of normalisation of MOOCs has arrived. The euphoria that accompanied the launch of Coursera and EdX - that these 'free' lectures from professors of world's best institutions would completely transform learning in mediocre institutions and particularly in developing countries - is finally and truly over. 


Its contemporaries have long abandoned the road: Udacity turned itself into a paid platform of profitable ambition long time ago, and Coursera, the most popular, have limited graded assessment to paying students (along with verified certificates) almost three years ago. Futurelearn, the late-coming British counterpart, in keeping with 'shop-keeping' culture of British universities, never indulged much in world-changing rhetoric, but rather kept itself to the promotion of 'brand Britain' with unapolo…

Timely meditations: Indians and their cows

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The cow cartoons explaining politics has now been greatly expanded (see the impressive range here) and an Indian version has become available. The joke, however, is timely, though slightly misdirected: The title should have been Indian ideology, rather than Indian corporation. [Indian corporation version, if one must try, would be - you have two cows. You outsource them. You buy back their half-diluted milk 25% cheaper. But then you build a dozen flats where the barn used to be.]
A lot of people ask me whether Indians really worship the cows. While the fact that Hindus don't eat beef was well-known, the recent news about cow vigilantism and cow-urine retail packs have brought the question to the fore. And, also, the other aspect of this debate is Hindu/ Indian distinction. Some parents in a local primary school petitioned 'Indians don't eat beef' and almost convinced everyone, until more enthusiastic ones tried to take this one step further - Indians don't eat mea…

Timely meditations: India at the time of great change

India is among the most conservative countries in the world. Its republican constitution and democratic politics are misleading, as are its shiny IT service metropolises. The day to day life in India, and of Indians all over the world, remains tradition-bound. In a curious way, Indians reconcile science and superstition, and technology and theology in a curious way that would leave most observers baffled. India may shine and emerge, but to the Indian mind, it is just a turn in the cycle of time and it is only gaining its rightful historical place rather than being renewed.
But, then, India is a desperately poor country. Its poverty, which the opulent Bollywood movie sets and slick corporate districts look to underplay, is a stark, persistent reality. Regardless of the brilliance of Indian CEOs of various global corporations, Indian companies are badly governed as fiefdoms. The resilience of the Indian domestic economy somewhat diverts attention from the country's lack of global …

2018: A somewhat final note

I am psychologically there already, to the end. Or, rather at the beginning of the next. 
But, it is different this year. Since I migrated, I always measured my progress asking a question to myself - have I done better than the previous year? In most years, the answer was yes. Except in 2017, which started badly and ended indifferently for me, and I had this distinct sense of going backwards rather than forward. Remarkably for a single year, not one but two projects that I spent time on failed to take off; I lingered on unnecessarily in a job even when my wages were in arrears; I still had my dreams intact but it seemed I was chasing shadows interminably. So, at the end of 2017, I was not sure - I was drifting and dabbling, not paying attention, not making progress - and I wanted the year to end, quickly.
In that sense, this was a completely different sensation. 2018 has been a good year for me, not just in terms of recovering from my mini mid-life crisis, but also to regain a direct…

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