Sunday, January 20, 2019

Book review - 'The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism

The Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power: Shoshana Zuboff
Reviewed by John Naughton

We’re living through the most profound transformation in our information environment since Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of printing in circa 1439. And the problem with living through a revolution is that it’s impossible to take the long view of what’s happening. Hindsight is the only exact science in this business, and in that long run we’re all dead. Printing shaped and transformed societies over the next four centuries, but nobody in Mainz (Gutenberg’s home town) in, say, 1495 could have known that his technology would (among other things): fuel the Reformation and 
undermine the authority of the mighty Catholic church; enable the rise of what we now recognise as modern science; create unheard-of professions and industries; change the shape of our brains; and even recalibrate our conceptions of childhood. And yet printing did all this and more.

Why choose 1495? Because we’re about the same distance into our revolution, the one kicked off by digital technology and networking. And although it’s now gradually dawning on us that this really is a big deal and that epochal social and economic changes are under way, we’re as clueless about where it’s heading and what’s driving it as the citizens of Mainz were in 1495. That’s not for want of trying, mind. Library shelves groan under the weight of books about what digital technology is doing to us and our world. Lots of scholars are thinking, researching and writing about this stuff. But they’re like the blind men trying to describe the elephant in the old fable: everyone has only a partial view, and nobody has the whole picture. So our contemporary state of awareness is – as Manuel Castells, the great scholar of cyberspace once put it – one of “informed bewilderment”.

Which is why the arrival of Shoshana Zuboff’s new book is such a big event. Many years ago – in 1988, to be precise – as one of the first female professors at Harvard Business School to hold an endowed chair she published a landmark book, The Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power, which changed the way we thought about the impact of computerisation on organisations and on work. It provided the most insightful account up to that time of how digital technology was changing the work of both managers and workers. And then Zuboff appeared to go quiet, though she was clearly incubating something bigger. The first hint of what was to come was a pair of startling essays – one in an academic journal in 2015, the other in a German newspaper in 2016. What these revealed was that she had come up with a new lens through which to view what Google, Facebook et al were doing – nothing less than spawning a new variant of capitalism. Those essays promised a more comprehensive expansion of this Big Idea.

And now it has arrived – the most ambitious attempt yet to paint the bigger picture and to explain how the effects of digitisation that we are now experiencing as individuals and citizens have come about... read more:


Saturday, January 19, 2019

Remembering Rabindra

Remembering Rabindra

Rabindra Ray, who taught sociology at the Delhi School of Economics till his retirement a few years ago, died on January 15, 2019. For 52 years I called him Lalloo (with two l’s). His death has led to an outpouring of memories from his friends and students. This is one such –it’s not an obituary.  I would never be able to encompass his rich life in words.

I first saw Lalloo being led by his goatee from his room into the veranda of Allnutt North block at St Stephen’s College by a senior. We were neighbours, two rooms separated us. He was not exactly a fresher, having spent a year in a pre-med course in Hindu College before migrating to SSC to study English. As part of the Xavier’s Patna contingent, he had a stream of Bihari visitors shouting out Lalloo! I soon became an honorary Bihari. His circle was wide-ranging. He was a stellar actor for the Shakespeare Society; a bridge player, and a junkie, hence an attraction for the ‘hippie’ crowd. And I know of at least three of his teachers who said he was the most brilliant student they had ever taught.

One of his close chums was Arvind Das, the first and last Naxalite president of SSC Students Union. When, after a trip to Palamau in the midst of the famine of 1967, I too became a ‘commie’ (Arvind being the prime mover), Lalloo was contemptuous. Commies tell lies, he would say. The next two years all of us fought over communism and revolution, but it would always end in the Science Faculty Coffee House, where we would gossip, drink coffee, eat coffee jelly, and keep an eye out for young ladies.

In 1970, our gang enacted a lampoon called ‘India 69’, a multi-lingual spoof on Indian politics. Lalloo played many roles, one of them Soviet Prime Minister Kosygin claiming the right to marry Indira Gandhi. Kosygin had two hangers on: CPI and CPM. I was the latter, Shahid Amin the former. In another, he was a sinister thug, asking a cowering man if he was a Muslim. In the background was the election symbol of the Jana Sangh with the caption Mein Lampf. A third featured an Indo-Australian Test at Eden Gardens, in which he was ‘Lalloo the bowler’. Our performance brought the house down. Soon afterwards, the CID visited our campus, asking for the author. No one was, but Lalloo had contributed vastly, not least by his acting and sardonic style.

Lalloo stood second in the university in his BA. He got abysmal marks in some papers, and distinctions in most. In his MA Previous, the English department students began agitating over a newly introduced semester system. The university’s attitude angered him so much that one day he decided to become a revolutionary. That was Lalloo all over – once he was convinced that the ‘system’ was incorrigible, he could change his mind in a second. It became difficult to hold him back. He and Arvind were the first to go underground.

But it was a shared sense of the absurd that bound us. We founded the SSC Wodehouse Society – Lalloo was president and I the secretary. Often he would walk into my room cackling about some Wodehousian gag. I can still hear him repeating ‘Lemuel Gengulphus, Bart’ and sniggering away for hours. We edited a cyclostyled rag called Spice with cartoons on its cover, and doggerel and fantastical tales inside. No one found it amusing except us, and a few faithful followers. Arvind used to say that the only good Spice was Old Spice. On our part, we roared with laughter writing them, and continued to do so for years whenever we recalled what we’d written. (NB: It was Anand Doraiswamy and Vinod Vyasulu who were  the first President and Secretary of the Wodehouse Society. I stand corrected, and my thanks are due to Vinod for refreshing my memory. DS)

A sense of the ridiculous was what enabled us to survive the Naxal underground. Even his departure for a revolutionary contact address in North Bihar was tinged with hilarity – he was dropped off at the Old Delhi Railway station by comrade Ajay Singh, but late that night Ajay’s window was hit with some gravel. It was Lalloo, who had fallen off the train. Maybe it was an omen for the fate of the revolution.

The only time we met during ‘UG’ days was in Purnea, in December 1971, in the midst of the Bangladesh war. Few would have recognised him at the Purnea bus stand–Lalloo was just another North Bihari peasant: white vest, indigo lungi and drooping moustache. We drank toddy, walked through the lanes and slept on a wooden takht. We decided he ought to get out: there was no police warrant out on him, and he had a nasty lung infection. And we were disgusted with the CPI (ML)’s dogmatic adherence to the Chinese line over the Pak army action in East Bengal. It took me some months to opt out as well. Lalloo went home to Kanpur. I visited him there once; it was the first time I met his dear mother.

In 1972, I went to the UK for six months. When I returned, I stayed with Lalloo and Achintya (Monju) Barua in a garage in Tagore Gardens in North Delhi. I was canvassing permission to complete my MA; and god knows what he was up to. Monju was trying to pass his Hindi subsidiary. The garage was like a shelter for vagrants and unspeakably dirty. I was considered the Stalinist, always chasing comrades to behave. I once flushed their stash of grass down the toilet, which caused much consternation. I would wash his clothes, but he refused to wear clean clothes. ‘Dirt is mans natural element’, he would say. When we finally left the garage we went to a hole-in-the-wall photo studio in Kamala Nagar. The seat was tiny, so we sat with one of us in the middle and the other two straddling the bench sideways, looking over the middle one’s shoulder into the camera. We looked like a bunch of unemployed pickpockets.

In the late 70’s Lalloo underwent a psychotic break. He was ailing for some time. Some comrades visited him and noticed there was a problem. In the winter of 1977, he came to Madhu Sarin’s and my place in Defence Colony – we climbed up the stairs one night to find him standing by himself in the dark. It was a jolt to see him like that. He wanted to stay ‘a couple of days’ – and ended up staying over four months, nearly driving us crazy as well. We were scared to leave him by himself, but also begged him to stay awhile with other friends, but he refused. Finally his family took him away for treatment.

We last met in Siliguri district in November 2015. It took me two years to convince him to accompany me and Monju to Naxalbari. We had never been there, even though the place meant so much to us. (Lalloo had published his thesis under the title The Naxalites and their ideology, in 1988. As far as I know, it was the first characterisation of Naxalism as an essentially nihilist doctrine). We wanted a photo of us in Naxalbari. I travelled to Bagdogra with my friend PritaTrehan. Monju had picked up Lalloo from Darjeeling, and we all met at the airport. We got into the cab and said chalo Naxalbari. The driver thought we were nuts. But we finally located Kanu Sanyal’s house in Sephtulajote village – Lalloo knew that it had been converted into a memorial. We spent two hours chatting with a comrade who was bemused to see us. I posted a small account of our visit on my blog. It was the happiest I had seen Lalloo in a long time. Being at home and looking after his mother had done him a world of good.

Lalloo could laugh at himself and that was what made his company so enjoyable. Years ago, he gave me a book of philosophical essays. One was called The Futility of Theory. Since his ruminations would go on for two or more pages without a full-stop, the next time I met him, I said yaar, you made your point by the middle of page two. Theory is futile. He began his usual cackle. In one of our last conversations, he told me his new philosophy book in Hindi had been published. I asked him if there were riots outside the book stores; and we both laughed for several minutes.

It doesn’t sound right to say ‘rest in peace Lalloo.’ Always provocative and mischievous, Lalloo was never at peace, nor did he let anyone else be so. I loved him as a brother. Goodbye Lalloo, you always inspired all around you and made the world shiver. Till we meet again my friend. Adieu


This poem was sent me in 1996 by Laloo


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Jonathan Freedland - After this staggering defeat for May, our country is left lost and adrift

This was a defeat on a scale without precedent in the era of universal suffrage... For at least three decades, “Europe” served as the all-purpose bogeyman of British politics. Cheered on by a Europe loathing press, itself fuelled by an endless flow of straight banana-type lies, many of  them concocted by a Telegraph correspondent in Brussels by the name of Boris Johnson, politicians of all stripes found it convenient to blame Brussels for any and all ills.

How easy it was for British politicians to say they’d love to act on this or that issue, but their hands were tied by those villains in the EU. Every summit was a “showdown” pitting plucky Britain against the wicked continentals. Both of the main political parties played this game. Recall Gordon Brown’s reluctance to be photographed signing the Lisbon treaty. (In the end he signed the treaty in a small room, alone – an early metaphor for the Brexit to come.) Given how long, and how bitterly, the fight against Europe had been fought, what’s remarkable is not how few Britons voted remain in 2016 but how many.

Or you could go further back still. The Suez fiasco of 1956 was meant to have cured Britain of its imperial delusion, but what’s clear now is that many Britons never quite made that adjustment. Underpinning Brexit, with its belief that Britain should separate itself from its closest neighbours, is a refusal to accept that we are one part of an interdependent European economy. For the Brexiteers, Britain remains a global Gulliver tied down for too long by the Lilliputians of Little Europe. It is a fundamental misreading of our place in the world.

Perhaps, though, the seeds of the vote were planted in the rubble of Britain’s wartime experience. Never occupied, many Britons never understood the intense need for the EU as continental Europeans feel it. In 1984, at a ceremony to honour the fallen of Verdun, François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl held hands, in a powerful gesture of Franco-German reconciliation. According to her biographer, Margaret Thatcher was unmoved, instead mocking the sight of two grown men holding hands.
This has been Britain’s European story, repeatedly seeing what was a project of peace, designed to end centuries of bloodshed, as a scam designed to swindle the Brits of their money. .. read more:

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Oscar Holland: Rare 19th-century images show China at the dawn of photography


Before the arrival of photography, the Western imagination of China was based on paintings, written travelogues and dispatches from a seemingly far-off land. From the 1850s, however, a band of pioneering Western photographers sought to capture the country's landscapes, cities and people, captivating audiences back home and sparking a homegrown photography movement in the process.

Among them were the Italian Felice Beato, who arrived in China in the 1850s to document Anglo-French exploits in the Second Opium War, and Scottish photographer John Thompson, whose journey up the Min River offered people in the West a rare look into the country's remote interior.

These are just some of the figures whose work features in a 15,000-strong photo collection amassed by New York antiquarian and collector Stephan Loewentheil. His 19th-century images span street scenes, tradespeople, rural life and architecture, showing -- in unprecedented detail -- everything from blind beggars to camel caravans on the Silk Road.

A rare book dealer by trade, Loewentheil has spent the last three decades acquiring the pictures from auctions and collectors, both in and outside China. They form what he claims to be the world's largest private collection of early Chinese photography. (And given the number of artworks and artifacts lost in the country's turbulent 20th century -- during Mao's Cultural Revolution, in particular -- the claim is entirely reasonable.) Now, he has put 120 of the prints on display in Beijing for the first time. 

The exhibition's scope runs from the 1850s, the very genesis of paper photographs in China, until the 1880s. It features examples of the earliest forms of photography, such as albumen print, which uses egg whites to bind chemicals to paper, and the "wet plate" process, in which negatives were processed on glass plates in a portable dark room... read more:


Monday, January 14, 2019

KASHMIRI PANDIT SANGARASH SAMITI - Urgent Letter to President of India and Other High Officials

Dated: 14.01.2019
To: His Excellency the President,
Union of India, Rashtripati Bhawan, New Delhi – 110004

Reference: Our last communication dated 24.11.2018.

Subject: Initiation of slaughtering of 808 Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandit families began with the issuance of communication no. PS/Adv(S)/2019/250-51 dated 09.01.2019 by Advisor(s) to the 
Hon’ble Governor.

Esteemed Sir,

With reference to the communication referred above we had already submitted a detailed Communication / Memorandum dated 24.11.2018 to your Excellency’s office, by fax (011-23011689/ 011-23011949 at around 5:30 P.M.) on 25.11.2018, wherein the Grievance about “Political Slaughter of 808 Non Migrant Kashmiri Pandits / Kashmiri Hindu Families who chose not to leave Kashmir Valley in 1990 by State Government” was made in bold letters. 

That a communication is enclosed with this representation which stands issued on 09.01.2019 by Advisor(S) to the Hon’ble Governor forwarded to 1) Principal Secretary to the Government, Planning, Development & Monitoring Department and 2) Secretary to the Government, Department of Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.

The Communication in itself is self explanatory. It is pertinent to mention here that the matter is still subjudice before the Hon’ble High Court and for the record on 31.12.2018 the matter stands reserved for orders / judgment by the Hon’ble High Court after hearing all the parties in length. 

That the communication dated 09.01.2019 mentioned supra has been issued under the vicious influence of the “Political Migrants”, who are political workers of various political parties living in Kashmir Valley and are hell bent to cause damage to the Kashmiri Pandit / Kashmiri Hindu Community living in Kashmir Valley to achieve some vested and malafide interests. 

That despite the fact the matter is subjudice before the Hon’ble High Court, it is irony of the situation, the Advisor (S) to the Hon’ble Governor not waiting for the orders / judgment to be pronounced by the Hon’ble High Court uses his office to influence the matter in favour of persons i.e. “Political Migrants” for the reasons better known to him only. This attitude only shows that how much respect and credibility the person shows towards the Judicial System and is behaving above law of the land to benefit the “Political Migrants” on whose behest he has issued the said communication dated 09.01.2019 which is part of this communication.

That the said communication dated 09.01.2019 is a visible proof that the State Administration under Governor Rule is trying to slaughter Kashmiri Pandit Community living in Kashmir Valley (Non-Migrant) on the behest of some persons / political parties who actually are the main cause of exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in year 1990 and they are not comfortable with the presence of Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits living in Kashmir Valley who continued to live in Kashmir Valley even after mass exodus of the Kashmiri Pandit Community and are trying their best to push us towards wall so that we too are forced to leave Kashmir Valley of our own.

As such, it is humbly prayed that the matter be treated as most important and necessary instructions be issued to the Governor House, State of J&K to take action against the person(s) who is/are playing deliberate and intentional role to cause harm to the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits / Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley and also issue necessary directions to all the officers / officials of the Governor House, State of Jammu and Kashmir to maintain the dignity of the Judicial System and not to intervene in the instant matter till the Hon’ble High Court pronounces orders / final verdict in the Petition in the larger interest of justice and obliged.  

Yours faithfully

(Sanjay K. Tickoo)
President, KPSS
9906564741

Copy to the:
1. Hon’ble Prime Minister, Union of India, Raisina Hills, South Block, New Delhi - 110011 
2. Hon’ble Minster for Home Affairs, Union of India, North Block, New Delhi - 110011
3. His Excellency the Governor, State of Jammu and Kashmir, Raj Bhawan, Jammu 
4. For Press.

(Sanjay K. Tickoo)
President, KPSS

Previous messages



GEERT LOVINK - Sad by design

‘Solitary tears are not wasted.’ René Char – ‘I dreamt about autocorrect last night.’ Darcie Wilder – ‘The personal is impersonal.’ Mark Fisher  – ‘Swipe left and move on.’ Motivational speaker  – ‘I’m easy but too busy for you.’ T-shirt – ‘Why don’t you just meet me in the middle? I am losing my mind just a little.’ Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey – ‘As the spirit wanes, the form appears.’ Charles Bukowski – ‘I don’t care, I love it.’ Icona Pop – ‘Percent of riders on Shanghai subway staring at their phones: 100%.’ Kevin Kelly – ‘When you get ignored long enough you check peoples ‘last seen’ status to make sure they aren’t dead.’ Addie Wagenknecht – ‘I don’t feel like writing what I have just written, nor do I feel like erasing it.’ Kierkegaard – ‘The very purpose of our life is to seek happiness.’ Dalai Lama.

Try and dream, if you can, of a mourning app. The mobile has come dangerously close to our psychic bone, to the point where the two can no longer be separated. If only my phone could gently weep. McLuhan’s ‘extensions of man’ has imploded right into the exhausted self.1 Social media and the psyche have fused, turning daily life into a ‘social reality’ that – much like artificial and virtual reality – is overtaking our perception of the world and its inhabitants. Social reality is a corporate hybrid between handheld media and the psychic structure of the user. It’s a distributed form of social ranking that can no longer be reduced to the interests of state and corporate platforms. As online subjects, we too are implicit, far too deeply involved. 

Social reality works in a peer-to-peer fashion. It’s all about you and your profile. Likes and followers define your social status. But what happens when nothing can motivate you anymore, when all the self-optimization techniques fail and you begin to carefully avoid these forms of emotional analytics? Compared to others your ranking is low – and this makes you sad... read more:

Modern slavery: The Indian village where child sexual exploitation is the norm

Many families in India still mourn the birth of a girl. But when Leena was born, people celebrated.
Sagar Gram, her village in central India, is unique that way. Girls outnumber boys. When a woman marries, it is the groom’s family that pays the dowry. Women are Sagar Gram’s breadwinners. When they are deemed old enough, perhaps at the age of 11, most are expected to start doing sex work.
India officially abolished caste discrimination almost 70 years ago. 

But millennia of tradition is not easily erased. For most Indians, caste still has a defining influence on who they marry and what they eat. It also traps millions in abusive work. The exploited and trafficked children of Sagar Gram, and dozens of other villages across India’s hinterland, are one of its most disturbing manifestations. “It is caste and gender slavery,” says Ashif Shaikh of Jan Sahas, an advocacy group that works with members of India’s lowest castes, communities that used to be called “untouchables”. “We estimate there are 100,000 women and girls in this situation. But there are likely more we haven’t identified. It’s an invisible issue.”

Girls in Sagar Gram grow up hearing a story. Sometime in the misty past of Hindu myth, a king fell in love with a dancer. His enraged queen issued the woman with a challenge: if she could walk a tightrope across a river, she could join the royal family, and permanently raise the status of her caste.

As the woman neared the opposite bank of the river, a step from success, the queen suddenly cut the rope. “Up until now, we lured your men through dancing,” the woman told the queen. “From now on, we will take your men from you with our bodies.”.. read more:
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/jan/14/indian-village-where-child-sexual-exploitation-is-the-norm-sagar-gram-jan-sahas

see also








Saturday, January 12, 2019

This is huge: British-trained Belgian mercenary admitted the killing of UN Secy General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961

Jan van Risseghem was only a teenager when his mother ordered him to flee Nazi-occupied Belgium for her native England with his brother Maurice. After hiding in a convent, and an epic journey across the war-torn continent, they reached safety in Portugal, then took a ship north. Once in England, the pair signed up with the Belgian resistance, and with the help of an uncle enrolled for flight training with the RAF, a decision that shaped not just their war, but the rest of their lives.

Half a century later, flying skills he learned in Britain would also make the younger van Risseghem internationally notorious, when he was publicly linked to the plane crash that killed Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN secretary general, in 1961. His plane, the Albertina, came down in forest just outside the town of Ndola in present-day Zambia, then Northern Rhodesia, just after midnight on 18 September, as it approached the town’s airport. 

Fifteen people on board died immediately, and the only survivor in hospital a few days later. The same day, a US ambassador sent a secret cable – one that stayed buried in files for decades – speculating about possible sabotage and apparently naming Van Risseghem as a suspect. But his name would not be connected with Hammarskjöld’s in public until many years later, after the Belgian pilot had returned to his quiet hometown of Lint with his British wife, raised two sons and mourned the death of one, retired, and then died a war hero himself. This may be because, as the initial shock and suspicions about Hammarskjöld’s death gradually faded, so too did interest in the crash.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta - The biggest casualty in the Alok Verma affair has been the SC’s authority

NB: A timely comment on the creeping decimation of the Indian constitution and rule of law; the most alarming feature of which is the manner in which the suspicious death of Judge Loya was taken over from the Bombay High Court by the SC under the last CJI and then dismissed. We have short memories, but let us remember that two of Loya's friends, Advocate Shrikant Khandalkar and retired District Judge Prakash Thombre also died mysteriously. A third, Mr Uike, narrowly escaped death. Read the details here. Loya himself had complained of pressure, and was fearful enough to ask his friends for their advice. He was deprived of security from November 20, 2014 till December 1, the day he allegedly died of a heart attack. More may be read below:
Investigate The Death Of CBI Judge Who Was Hearing The Sohrabuddin Sheikh Case, Says Justice AP Shah. (The silence of India's mainstream Hindi and English media is deafening)
If our op-ed writers and garrulous TV anchors continue to skirt the issue of the possible murder of a judge inquiring into killings that took place allegedly at the behest of a senior politician, all I can say is that they, along with the judges who pulled the case out of the Bombay High Court and then dismissed it; have made a pact with evil. Whatever be the status of their formal authority - about which this article has many pithy things to say, the moral authority of the bench that dismissed the Loya case is zero. Satyamev Jayate, Bharat Mata ki Jai etc. Sleep well gentlemen. DS

Pratap Bhanu Mehta - The biggest casualty in the Alok Verma affair has been the SC’s authority
The ouster of Alok Verma is another step in the cavalier destruction of institutions. Each step to use the law to resolve the CBI crisis has led not to the reinstatement of the rule of law but the extension of an arbitrary rule by law. And no institution comes out of this crisis with its reputation intact. It has to be said, with all due respect to the Lordships, that the Supreme Court of India has, in this entire episode, returned one of its most cringe-worthy performances in recent memory. The interventions of the Court have produced opaqueness rather than transparency, and the continued subversion of due process, ironically in the name of due process.

Terrifying implications of the SC's Staines Judgement
RSS and Modi brazenly intimidating the Supreme Court
Delhi Police Archive on RSS activity in October-December 1947

In retrospect, the chain begins with Vineet Narain, a well-intentioned judgment that produced a range of anomalies, not the least of which was making the Chief Justice (or his nominee) part of the appointment process of a CBI director. But more proximately when Alok Verma went to Court, it could not decide whether it wanted to merely rule on the question of the CVC’s powers, or go into the substance of the allegations against Verma. The Court said it wanted to rule on the question of powers. But if so, the entire process was mysterious. It could have ruled on that question in two minutes. Why ask for a CVC report under sealed covers, when that is irrelevant to settling the jurisdiction question? Why appoint Justice A K Patnaik to oversee the CVC’s report?

Launch of the digital archive "The Long Emergency. Media and Democracy in India"

Launch of the digital archive The Long Emergency. Media and Democracy in India: Karin Klenke
Reposted this from H-Announce. The byline reflects the original authorship.

The government of India declared a national emergency citing internal instability in June 1975. By June 26th, the day after emergency had been declared, media outlets in the country had received instructions on news that must be censored. Some newspapers ran blank editorials as protests. In the eighteen months that followed, the press censorship rules remained in effect and additional forms of pressure were exerted on the media. These ranged from the withdrawal of state advertisements to income tax raids on media owners and phone calls to journalists conveying “helpful suggestions” about the news they might (or might not) carry. Many journalists were arrested for protesting the emergency, or for holding views that were considered inimical to state authority. Many others supported the emergency as a necessary measure. Most, however, lay low until the emergency was lifted and the media began reporting actively on the news that they had not covered in the years of the emergency, in a burst of “new journalism” that would shine a light on post-emergency abuses of power as well.

The Long Emergency Collection was primarily conceived as a series of oral history interviews documenting journalistic praxis around the time of the Indian emergency (1975-1977). To convey a sense of the “spirit of the times,” the collection also includes a selection of material from this period such as films, cartoons, news clippings, government documents, and court judgements.

The oral histories collected here suggest some of the many ways in which the ‘Long Emergency’ resonates for readers and researchers today: they are clearly shaped by retrospect—the act of recollection and reflection some 40 years after the fact. Many of the narratives unravel the threads that link the political discourse of the past four decades to the events of the 1970s. Some also recall the ‘prehistory’ of conflicts around press freedom in even earlier events.

The Long Emergency Collection seeks to develop the conversation and understanding of this significant but under-examined rupture in modern Indian history. The Emergency is too often dismissed as a straightforward cautionary tale of authoritarian hubris vanquished by righteous democrats. We hope this project will help deepen the discussion of the politics of the 1970s—and the present. The Long Emergency Collection is a project of the Merian-Tagore International Centre of Advanced Studies: 'Metamorphoses of the Political in the Long Twentieth Century' (ICAS:MP), an interdisciplinary forum for intellectual exchange. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Higher Education and Research (BMBF).

Project Coordinator: Srirupa Roy, University of Göttingen
Senior Consultant: Kai Friese
Oral History Researchers: Sopan Joshi, Farah Yameen, Rajender Negi
Archiving Consultant: Farah Yameen
Technical Consultant: Janastu (TB Dinesh, Shalini A, Bhanu Prakash G S)

Contact Info:
Srirupa Roy

Contact Email:
sroy@gwdg.de
URL:
https://www.longemergency.demx.in/

Friday, January 11, 2019

Advertising Exiled Bangla poet Daud Haider refused India visa

Exiled Bangladeshi poet Daud Haider had to cancel his scheduled India trip this month after the Indian Embassy in Berlin told him that it would not be possible to give him a visa. The Embassy told Haider, who holds a special UN visa as a “stateless person” and has travelled to India several times in the past, that he would need a clearance from the ministry of home affairs as he does not hold a regular visa. Haider was to travel for literary events throughout the month. Later he was to have been in Kolkata for the launch of his book at the Kolkata Book Fair.

“I had applied in December. I called up on Thursday to enquire about the status. There is no official communication but I was told there is no way I could get a visa,” Haider told The Indian Express.
In reply to a query on the status of Haider’s visa, Rajiv Bajpai Attache(Cons) Embassy of India, said: “Mr Haider may apply for visa. However, visa would be issued on receipt of MHA clearance as Mr 
Haider does not hold a regular passport and intends to visit to attend literary events.”

Haider was exiled from Bangladesh after his poem criticising radicalism and bigotry in the country was published in a Bangla daily in 1974. Haider has lived and worked in India in the past. He had last travelled to India on the special passport in 2014. Haider moved to Berlin in 1987 with the special passport. “I have lived in India after leaving Bangladesh, I have worked there in several newspaper offices, I have also paid taxes to the government of India. This special UN passport is a valid travel document. I could have taken a German passport but I wanted the word Bangladesh to remain on my identification document. Now it says stateless (Bangladesh). When people ask me here why I have not taken German citizenship I say I am a Bangal (person from Bangladesh), an Auslander (outsider). I will remain that,” Haider said from Berlin... read more:
https://indianexpress.com/article/india/exiled-bangla-poet-daud-haider-refused-india-visa-5534485/

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Book review - Normal People: how Sally Rooney’s novel became the literary phenomenon of the decade. By Sian Cain

NB: The comments beneath the article are worth reading too..DS

... why has it become the novel of the moment – and, arguably, the decade? Normal People is a quiet, literary novel – but it is a zeitgeist novel too (despite being set five years ago). It’s hard not to emerge from Rooney’s book about two young people navigating adulthood in post-crash Ireland and sense that, somehow, the author has spotted something intangible about our time and exposed it. Like other zeitgeist novels, from Gone With the Wind, when mass-fiction began booming in the 1930s, to Franzen’s post 9/11 tome Freedom, Normal People has trapped a moment – in this case, our new sense of collective precariousness – whether individual, economic or political.

It is the first novel I have read that has convincingly captured what it is to be young today: often overeducated, neurotic, slightly too self-aware. So much can be read into the aspiration of the male character Connell to one day “start going to dinner parties and having conversations about the Greek bailout” – a dream for a young man with preconceived ideas about what successful adults do. Or, indeed, to fellow protagonist Marianne’s sense that “her real life was happening somewhere very far away, happening without her, and she didn’t know if she would ever find out where it was or become part of it”.

“Hysterical realism” was the name the critic James Wood once gave to the mid-2000s boom of novels ostensibly deliberately setting out to capture the moment. He was not a fan of novels he saw as overstuffed with symbolism and real world events. But what Rooney does differently from Ian McEwan’s Saturday (the Iraq war) or Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (multiculturalism and globalisation) is to ensure it never feels like a lesson... read more:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/08/normal-people-sally-rooney-novel-literary-phenomenon-of-decade

Rahaf al-Qunun: Saudi teenager given refugee status by the UN. By Lisa Martin and Naaman Zhou

Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun has been found to be a refugee by the United Nations, and the Australian government will now consider her asylum request, according to the Department of Home Affairs. The 18-year-old woman barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room on Sunday to prevent her forcible return to Saudi Arabia, where she claims her family will kill her because she has renounced Islam.

On Wednesday, the UN high commissioner for refugees assessed Qunun, found her to be a refugee and referred her to Australia for resettlement. The Department of Home Affairs said it “will consider this referral in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals”. A UNHCR spokeswoman told the Guardian that Qunun would remain in their care until a long-term solution has been found. “She remains in a safe location in Bangkok for the time being,” she said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Australia’s home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, had warned there will be “no special treatment” for Qunun, despite a groundswell of support for the woman. The Australian director of Human Rights Watch Australia, Elaine Pearson, said the Australian government should “act quickly” to bring her safely to Australia.  “She is a young Saudi woman whose face has been plastered around the world,” Pearson said. “She’s more at risk than other refugees, not just from her family but threats she has faced online and from her own government.

“We all know what the Saudi government is capable of doing on foreign soil. I would hope that, once her claim has been assessed, the Australian government will act quickly to get her out of Thailand and to safety.”.. read more:


see also
More posts on Khashoggi's murder
More posts on Saudi Arabia

Richard Wolffe - Border wall speech: Trump is losing the macho game of staring himself down in the mirror

The Oval Office is an iconic space in American political life. Televised addresses from the seat of presidential power have marked historic moments of national anxiety: JFK and the Cuban missile crisis, Ronald Reagan and the Challenger disaster, George H. W. Bush and the start of the Gulf War.
To that august list we can now add Donald Trump and the most pressing crisis facing this commander-in-chief: the disastrous damage already inflicted on his own ego by his dopey idea of a beautiful border wall.

This is a very real crisis inside one man’s cranium and it’s playing out in the living rooms of a weary nation. That crisis is called reality. At every campaign stop in 2016, Trump promised to build a wall that Mexico would pay for. Soon it became clear that Mexico was laughing too loud to pay for anything. Somewhere along the way, the wall became a series of steel slats.

At this point, it’s hard to know which one of his many delusions are winning the day. When Trump’s lapdog Republicans controlled all of Washington, he couldn’t get Congress to pay for his wall. Now the Democrats control half of Congress, he thinks he can force Congress to pay for his wall. His forcing mechanism is to shut down his own government, claim credit for the shutdown, and then blame everyone else.

Now he looks like a fool both before and after he loses this macho game of staring himself down in the mirror. A genius move nobody has ever dared consider. Until now. These desperate times call for desperate measures. If reality won’t bend to Trump, then Trump will have to bend reality.

Sitting behind the Resolute desk where he sometimes poses to sign blank pieces of paper, Trump reframed his indiscriminate crackdown on immigrants as “a growing humanitarian and security crisis.” Summoning the shallow reserves of human empathy that lie buried deep within, he lamented how families were suffering at the border... read more:

Julian Borger - Journalist Pelin Ünker sentenced to jail in Turkey over Paradise Papers investigation

A Turkish journalist has been sentenced to more than a year in jail for her work on the Paradise Papers investigation into offshore tax havens, because it revealed details of the business activities of the country’s former prime minister and his sons. Pelin Ünker, a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was found guilty in an Istanbul court of “defamation and insult” for writing about companies in Malta owned by Binali Yıldırım and his sons. Yıldırım was prime minister from 2016 to 2018, when the post was abolished, and is now the speaker of the country’s national assembly.

After the sentence was issued, Ünker told the ICIJ she intended to appeal, pointing out that the Yildirim family had admitted that articles about their Maltese businesses were accurate. She said: “This decision is not a surprise for us. Because the result was certain from the beginning. There is no criminal offence or defamation in my articles.  “The fact is Binali Yıldırım’s sons have Maltese companies. Binali Yıldırım had already accepted that they have these companies. In the indictment, it is also accepted.”

Turkey has the world’s worst record for jailing journalists, with 68 in prison at the end of last year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. All the jailed reporters are facing charges of crimes against the state. The Paradise Papers revelations stemmed from a mass leak of documentation on the offshore financial industry published by a consortium of 90 media outlets around the world,  including the Guardian. The investigation has sparked new or expanded criminal investigations in Switzerland and Argentina and accelerated the process of reform in the European Union.

The ICIJ’s director, Gerard Ryle, condemned Ünker’s jail sentence of 13 months, as the latest in a long series of attacks on free speech in Turkey. “This unjust ruling is about silencing fair and accurate reporting. Nothing more,” Ryle said. “ICIJ commends Pelin Ünker’s brave and truthful investigative reporting and it condemns this latest assault on journalistic freedom under Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s autocratic rule.”


more posts on 



Tuesday, January 8, 2019

When the ice melts: the catastrophe of vanishing glaciers. By Dahr Jamail // Katharine Hayhoe: 'A thermometer is not liberal or conservative

As global temperatures rise, shrivelling glaciers and thawing permafrost threaten yet more climate disruption. How should we confront what is happening to our world?

The fall lasts long enough that I have time to watch the blue ice race upward, aeons of time compressed into glacial ice, flashing by in fractions of seconds. I assume I’ve fallen far enough that I’ve pulled my climbing partner, Sean, into the crevasse with me. This is what it’s like to die in the mountains, a voice in my head tells me. Just as my mind completes that thought, the rope wrenches my climbing harness up. I bounce languidly up and down as the dynamic physics inherent in the rope play themselves out. Somehow Sean has checked my fall while still on the surface of the glacier.
I brush the snow and chunks of ice from my hair, arms and chest and pull down the sleeves of my shirt. Finding my glacier glasses hanging from the pocket of my climbing bib, I tuck them away. I check myself for injuries and, incredibly, find none. Assessing my situation, I find there’s no ice shelf nearby to ease the tension from the rope, so Sean will not be able to begin setting up a pulley system to extract me. I look down. Nothing but blackness. I look at the wall of blue ice directly in front of me, take a deep breath and peer up at the tiny hole I made when I fell through the snow bridge spanning the crevasse – the same bridge Sean had crossed without incident as we made our way up Alaska’s Matanuska Glacier towards Mount Marcus Baker in the Chugach Range.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Nayantara Sahgal's Invitation To Lit Meet Withdrawn, Draws Criticism // Nayantara Sahgal’s speech for Marathi Sahitya Sammelan: In some cases, our duty to hurt sentiments

Nayantara Sahgal's Invitation To Lit Meet Withdrawn, Draws Criticism
Political leaders and authors on Monday condemned the decision of the organisers of the All India Marathi Literary Meet to withdraw the invitation extended to noted author Nayantara Sahgal.
The decision to withdraw the invitation to Sahgal (91), who was earlier at the forefront of the “award wapsi” campaign, was taken after the MNS threatened to disrupt the function, the organisers said on Sunday. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray issued a statement on Monday, admitting that one of his local party workers had opposed Sahgal’s presence at the literary meet. However, he added that “as the party chief, I am not against inviting her”.

“If Sahgal’s presence at the All India Literary Meet is transcending into a cultural exchange, I or my party will not oppose it,” Thackeray said, adding that he regretted the annoyance caused to the supporters of such literary events. Sahgal, a noted English-language author, was to inaugurate the 92nd literary meet on January 11 in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Yavatmal district. Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam criticised the decision to cancel Sahgal’s invitation, alleging that it was done at the behest of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)... read more:
https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/nayantara-sahgals-invitation-to-lit-meet-withdrawn-draws-criticism_in_5c332b7fe4b0d75a9832baf4?utm_hp_ref=in-homepage

Nayantara Sahgal’s speech for Sahitya Sammelan: In some cases, our duty to hurt sentiments
Written by Nayantara Sahgal
This is an emotional moment for me and I feel privileged to be here with you. I feel I am standing in the shadow of great Maharashtrians – Mahadev Govind Ranade who founded this sammelan, and whose name is part of the modern history of our country, and the distinguished Marathi writers who have chaired its conventions, and all the writers who have taken part in its sessions and whose writing has enriched the great creative enterprise known as Indian literature.

It is also an emotional moment for me because of my own connection with Maharashtra through my father, Ranjit Sitaram Pandit. I would like to tell you a little about him. He was a Sanskrit scholar from a family of distinguished Sanskrit scholars and he translated three Sanskrit classics into English: Mudra Rakshasa, Kalidas’s Ritusamhara and Rajtarangini. Rajtarangini is the twelfth-century history of the kings of Kashmir by Kalhana, and it had a special fascination for my father because his two great loves were Sanskrit and Kashmir. He worked on this translation during two of his jail terms during British rule and dedicated it to his Kashmiri father-in-law Pandit Motilal Nehru. His brother-in-law, Jawaharlal Nehru, wrote an introduction to this work when it was published. I am deeply grateful to Dr Aruna Dhere and Shri Prashant Talnikar for their great labour of translating this massive history into my father’s, and their own, native tongue, Marathi. I know that nothing would have made him happier.


Both my parents took part in the national movement for freedom under Mahatma Gandhi. My mother, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, was imprisoned three times and my father four times. During his fourth imprisonment he fell seriously ill in the terrible conditions and environment of Bareilly jail, and was given no medical treatment and my mother was not informed how very ill he was. Yet he had refused to ask for his release. When she was finally informed of his condition she was allowed to have a twenty-minute interview with him. It took place, according to the rule, in the office of the jail superintendent and under his watchful eye, which gave a political prisoner no privacy with his visitor. 

It shocked my mother to see him brought in on a stretcher. His head had been shaved and his body was emaciated. She almost broke down at the sight of him but somehow she held back her tears because she knew he would not want her to cry in front of the jailer. He told her why he wouldn’t ask for the favour of being released. He said “I have fought with the lions, Gandhi and Nehru. Do you want me to behave like a jackal now?” She knew she couldn’t change his mind so she controlled herself and sat near the stretcher and held his hand, and gave him news of home and the children, and what was growing in the garden he loved. When the government released him at last, it was only to die about three weeks later. Many years later, after independence, my mother was India’s High Commissioner in Britain and sat next to Prime Minister Winston Churchill at a lunch, and he said to her, “We killed your husband, didn’t we?” It was an admission that took her by surprise... read more:
https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/nayantara-sehgal-marathi-sahitya-sammelan-speech-5527383/


Asom Gana Parishad pulls out of BJP-led govt in Assam over Citizenship Bill

In yet another setback for the BJP before the General Elections, the Asom Gana Parishad on Monday withdrew support from the saffron party-led government in Assam over Citizenship Bill. The announcement in this regard was made by AGP president Atul Bora. 

“We made a last ditch attempt today to convince the Centre not to pass the Bill. But Singh told us clearly that it will be passed in Lok Sabha tomorrow. After this, there is no question of remaining in the alliance,” PTI reported Bora as saying after meeting the home minister. The AGP, which is in alliance with the BJP (along with the Bodoland People’s Front), has been threatening to break ties with the alliance ever since the BJP announced its intention to table the Bill.

“We told the Home Minister in categorical terms that this Bill will violate the Assam Accord, it will hinder the ongoing NRC updation process. We told him: ‘Please don’t do this for votes’,” said Bora.

The announcement followed AGP leader and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta’s statement here that the party would withdraw support to the government in the state if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in passed by Lok Sabha... read more:
https://indianexpress.com/article/india/agp-break-alliance-bjp-assam-citizenship-bill-5527118/

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Peter Bradshaw: They Shall Not Grow Old review – Peter Jackson's electrifying journey into the first world war trenches

To mark the centenary of the first world war’s end, Peter Jackson has created a visually staggering thought experiment; an immersive deep-dive into what it was like for ordinary British soldiers on the western front. This he has done using state-of-the-art digital technology to restore flickery old black-and-white archive footage of the servicemen’s life in training and in the trenches. He has colourised it, sharpened it, put it in 3D and, as well as using diaries and letters for narrative voiceover, he has used lip-readers to help dub in what the men are actually saying.

The effect is electrifying. The soldiers are returned to an eerie, hyperreal kind of life in front of our eyes, like ghosts or figures summoned up in a seance. The faces are unforgettable. Watching this, I understood how the world wars of the 20th century are said to have inspired surrealism. Thirty or so years ago, there was a debate in film circles about the sacrilege of colourising classic black-and-white movies. This is different. The colourisation effect is artificial, as is 3D (as is monochrome, too, of course), and the painterly approximation of reality presents a challenge to what you consider “real” on film. After a few minutes, I realised that force of cultural habit was causing me to doubt what I was seeing, because colour means modern. The colourisation, and everything else, is a kind of alienation shock tactic as well as a means of enfolding you in the experience. It is an indirect way of reminding you that this really did happen to people like you and me.

They Shall Not Grow Old is arguably limited in scope: it is just about the western front and there is nothing about the German point of view, or about the war elsewhere: say, the Dardanelles. Yet this is because Jackson was working from specific archives – the BBC and Imperial War Museum – and spreading the net more widely might have meant a loss of focus and intensity. As it is, the focus and intensity are overwhelming. This is a film to fill you with an intensified version of all the old feelings: mostly rage at the incompetence and cruelty of a governing class that put these soldiers through hell in their mechanisation and normalisation of war. In Russia, the grotesque slaughter was a very important cause of the revolutions of 1917. Not in Britain.

The title is taken from Laurence Binyon’s pious and patriotic poem For the Fallen, although The Old Lie, from Wilfred Owen, might have been better. Certainly a better approximation of the tough, savvy spirit of Owen’s presentation comes over the closing credits, when the song Mademoiselle from Armentières is performed in its brutally cynical entirety. The details are harrowing, as is the political incorrectness of what the soldiers recall: some express their candid enjoyment of the war, others their utter desensitisation to what they experienced. When the end came, many felt only disappointment and anticlimax: “It was like being made redundant.” And in the war itself, there is nauseous acceptance of horror. You could die simply by stumbling off the duckboards and sinking into the mud. There were the fat rats (“and you knew how they got fat”), the trench foot, the lice. This film also shows you something no Hollywood production ever would: the latrines – a trench over which men would have to squat, sitting precariously on a pole, some inevitably falling in.

It is possible that, if and when the technology used in it becomes commonplace, They Shall Not Grow Old may not be considered to have contributed much to what we already understand about the first world war. Maybe. Trench warfare and its horrors have arguably become a subject for reflex piety, while soldiers’ experiences in the second world war, or other wars, are somehow not considered poignant in the same way. But as an act of popular history, They Shall Not Grow Old is outstanding.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem? BY JASON HICKEL AND MARTIN KIRK

There’s something fundamentally flawed about a system that has a prime directive to churn nature and humans into capital

ours is a system that is programmed to subordinate life to the imperative of profit. For a startling example of this, consider the horrifying idea to breed brainless chickens and grow them in huge vertical farms, Matrix-style, attached to tubes and electrodes and stacked one on top of the other, all for the sake of extracting profit out of their bodies as efficiently as possible. Or take the Grenfell Tower disaster in London, where dozens of people were incinerated because the building company chose to use flammable panels in order to save a paltry £5,000 (around $6,500). Over and over again, profit trumps life. It all proceeds from the same deep logic. It’s the same logic that sold lives for profit in the Atlantic slave trade, it’s the logic that gives us sweatshops and oil spills, and it’s the logic that is right now pushing us headlong toward ecological collapse and climate change.

In February, college sophomore Trevor Hill stood up during a televised town hall meeting in New York and posed a simple question to Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. He cited a study by Harvard University showing that 51% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 no longer support the system of capitalism, and asked whether the Democrats could embrace this fast-changing reality and stake out a clearer contrast to right-wing economics. 

Pelosi was visibly taken aback. “I thank you for your question,” she said, “but I’m sorry to say we’re capitalists, and that’s just the way it is.” The footage went viral. It was powerful because of the clear contrast it set up. Trevor Hill is no hardened left-winger. He’s just your average millennial—bright, informed, curious about the world, and eager to imagine a better one. But Pelosi, a figurehead of establishment politics, refused to–or was just unable to–entertain his challenge to the status quo.

It’s not only young voters who feel this way. A YouGov poll in 2015 found that 64% of Britons believe that capitalism is unfair, that it makes inequality worse. Even in the U.S., it’s as high as 55%. In Germany, a solid 77% are skeptical of capitalism. Meanwhile, a full three-quarters of people in major capitalist economies believe that big businesses are basically corrupt. Why do people feel this way? Probably not because they deny the abundant material benefits of modern life that many are able to enjoy. Or because they want to travel back in time and live in the U.S.S.R. It’s because they realize - either consciously or at some gut level - that there’s something fundamentally flawed about a system that has a prime directive to churn nature and humans into capital, and do it more and more each year, regardless of the costs to human well-being and to the environment we depend on.

Because let’s be clear: That’s what capitalism is, at its root. That is the sum total of the plan. We can see this embodied in the imperative to grow GDP, everywhere, year on year, at a compound rate, even though we know that GDP growth, on its own, does nothing to reduce poverty or to make people happier or healthier. Global GDP has grown 630% since 1980, and in that same time, by some measures, inequality, poverty, and hunger have all risen... read more:
https://www.fastcompany.com/40439316/are-you-ready-to-consider-that-capitalism-is-the-real-problem

see also
Travis Waldron - Brazil Is About To Show The World How A Modern Democracy Collapses



Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Jair Bolsonaro launches assault on Amazon rainforest protections

NB: Two things arise from these and related developments for us to think about: 1./ The nation-state as an institution is detrimental for the health of the environment. Environment and ecological issues are global, but nationalism makes us think that natural resources like clean air, water and forests are somehow the property of 'nations'. We have forgotten that the national state is a recent phenomenon.

2./ In the last chapter of The Rebel, Albert Camus reminded us that 'real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present'. This was the clue he gave us for understanding ideologies - thought systems that motivate us to focus on an ever-retreating Glorious Future, while we destroy the Present. (It is also related to the obsession with reducing presence to transience, as in 'being is becoming). 

But we must be careful not to be deceived by the misuse of this warning. Ideologies like that of Trump and Bolsonaro can also, in the name of respecting the present and the immediate interests of their voters, play havoc with the very possibility of a sustainable future. The ideological trick is to pretend that not only cultures and peoples, but even space and time are 'national'; that we can have global warming in one country, and no-risk climate in another. The health of the Amazon delta or the Tibetan plateau or the Arctic ice, or the Himalayan river systems is not merely the business of the countries that exercise  sovereignty over these places, their health concerns all the species that depend upon them. Nuclear contamination and the ozone hole are not national phenomena.

To give all to the present becomes meaningless unless the idea of the present embraces all of us who live in it, not just those who voted for these mindless demagogues. We cannot nationalise time: DS

Hours after taking office, Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has launched an assault on environmental and Amazon protections with an executive order transferring the regulation and creation of new indigenous reserves to the agriculture ministry – which is controlled by the powerful agribusiness lobby. The move sparked outcry from indigenous leaders, who said it threatened their reserves, which make up about 13% of Brazilian territory, and marked a symbolic concession to farming interests at a time when deforestation is rising again.

“There will be an increase in deforestation and violence against indigenous people,” said Dinaman Tuxá, the executive coordinator of the Articulation of Indigenous People of Brazil . "Indigenous people are defenders and protectors of the environment.” Sonia Guajajara, an indigenous leader who stood as vice-presidential candidate for the Socialism and Freedom party (PSOL) tweeted her opposition. “The dismantling has already begun,” she posted on Tuesday.  Previously, demarcation of indigenous reserves was controlled by the indigenous agency Funai, which has been moved from the justice ministry to a new ministry of women, family and human rights controlled by an evangelical pastor.


The decision was included in an executive order which also gave Bolsonaro’s government secretary potentially far-reaching powers over non-governmental organizations working in Brazil. The temporary decree, which expires unless it is ratified by congress within 120 days, mandates that the office of the government secretary, Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz, “supervise, coordinate, monitor and accompany the activities and actions of international organizations and non-governmental organizations in the national territory”.