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Showing posts from January, 2014

Marina Hyde - Here's how Tony Blair really can face the judgment of history

The great thing about the judgment of history is that the defendant is never around for it. It is handed down in absentia, and unless Earth has an extradition treaty with the 357-room celestial palace in which Tony Blair's idiosyncratic brand of faith presumably leads him to imagine he will spend eternity, then the former prime minister is safe to continue telling every second interviewer that "history will judge me", or that he is "prepared to be judged by history". If only it were possible to leave someone else's body to cryogenic science, instead of being limited to freezing oneself in the hope that medical advances could effect reanimation at some moment down the line. By means of a whip-round, I'm sure we could soon raise the necessary funds to keep the Blair corporeal form on ice in some secret Alpine lab, to be awakened at whichever vantage point in the future even he would concede might be lofty enough to survey his works. And then … well, then…

Judith Butler - Hannah Arendt's challenge to Adolf Eichmann

In her treatise on the banality of evil, Arendt demanded a rethink of established ideas about moral responsibility


Fifty years ago the writer and philosopher Hannah Arendt witnessed the end of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the major figures in the organisation of the Holocaust. Covering the trial Arendt coined the phrase "the banality of evil", a phrase that has since become something of an intellectual cliche. But what did she really mean? One thing Arendt certainly did not mean was that evil had become ordinary, or that Eichmann and his Nazi cohorts had committed an unexceptional crime. Indeed, she thought the crime was exceptional, if not unprecedented, and that as a result it demanded a new approach to legal judgment itself. There were at least two challenges to legal judgment that she underscored, and then another to moral philosophy more generally. The first problem is that of legal intention. Did the courts have to prove that Eichmann intended to commit genocide in…

Dan Falk - William Shakespeare, the 'king of infinite space’

Shakespeare spoke of “the inaudible and noiseless foot of time” – but the revelry will likely be quite audible indeed when the playwright’s 450th birthday arrives in April. A major anniversary is a good excuse (as if we needed one) to celebrate his life and legacy. But we may also wonder: after four and a half centuries, can there possibly be anything left to say about Shakespeare that hasn’t already been said? The genius from Stratford-upon-Avon has worn many hats over the years, with imaginative scholars casting him as a closet Catholic, a mainstream Protestant, an ardent capitalist, a Marxist, a misogynist, a feminist, a homosexual, a legal clerk and a cannabis dealer – yet the words “Shakespeare” and “science” are rarely uttered in the same breath. A surprise, perhaps, given that he was producing his greatest work just as new ideas about the human body, the Earth and the universe were transforming Western thought. But a re-evaluation is on the horizon. Scholars are examining Shakes…

Arunachal student dies allegedly after being beaten in south Delhi market // Friends have alleged it was a racist attack.

The family of an 18-year-old college student from Arunachal Pradesh alleges that he died after being beaten by a group of men in the crowded commercial locality of Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi. Nido Taniam, a first-year student, had reportedly gone to Lajpat Nagar with three friends on Wednesday evening and was looking for an address, when someone at a sweet shop allegedly began mocking him. According to a member of the Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union, Nido was teased about his hair.

Police sources say a fight erupted, in which Taniam broke a glass at the shop. A group of seven or eight local men then allegedly beat him with sticks and iron rods. The police was called in and they took the four students away, but inexplicably dropped them back at the same place after a while. There they were allegedly caught by the men and beaten again, say sources.

Nido Taniam's family says he was found dead the next morning in his room in Green Park Extension. They allege that he died of his i…

Kashmir - 16 yrs on, Wandhama victims await justice // Text of Sanjay Tickoo's press statement on Chief Ministers 'tweets'

The Wandhama massacre happened on the eve of Republic Day 1998 and two years after the return of elected government in J&K. It was the third major massacre of Hindus in the state since the election of Farooq Abdullah's party into power. The separatists blamed Indian soldiers since the culprits were disguised in Indian combat uniforms.
Omar Abdullah has recently tweeted that justice has had its way in the Wandhama massacre since all those involved in planning and executing it were eliminated by the security forces. Mr Sanjay Tickoo's press-release of January 27, 2014, states otherwise. There is no credible information on who these terrorists were and who their local guide was. Vinod Dhar's testimony establishes that residents of the village knew what was going to happen. Omar Abdullah cannot escape his responsibility. The man known as Bitta Karate is free today - he who confessed to the killing of at least 20 people, most of them Pandits. When the judge released him on b…

Christophe Jaffrelot - The sultans of Pakistan

How a few wealthy dynasties dominate the nation’s politics, and get even richer. Last month, the Election Commission of Pakistan, manifesting its independence, declared  Nawaz Sharif one of the country’s richest parliamentarians and revealed his assets: six agricultural properties, a house in Upper Mall, Lahore, Rs 126 million in seven bank accounts, and other properties under the name of his wife, making him a billionaire. This may be explained by the fact that he belongs to an affluent family of businessmen. His father, Muhammad Sharif, a Kashmiri from Amritsar who moved to Lahore in 1947, had slowly built up a smelting works. He was stripped of his property in 1972 by the wave of nationalisation ordered by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but the privatisation decided by Zia-ul-Haq (who blessed the elevation of Nawaz to the post of Punjab chief minister in 1985) helped the family recover its assets. The Sharifs also benefited from the investments they made abroad, including in Saudi Arabia, whe…

Delhi University professor denies link with Chhattisgarh Maoists // Nandini Sundar - Everywhere, a Maoist plot

Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar on Thursday denied Chhattisgarh Police's claim that she is associated with a Maoist body in the state. "Meeting Maoists is no crime. Whatever meeting I had was for my research work on the Bastar region," said the award-winning sociologist.  

Sundar, who is not the first Delhi-based teacher to be accused of Maoist links, was caught in the controversy after Congress member Badri Gawde, whom Chhattisgarh Police paraded before the media, claimed he arranged meetings between Sundar and the Maoists, and that she had formed a committee at their behest to oppose all rail and mining projects in Kanker.  Sundar said, "I did meet Gawde, but once, and that for an interview. My opinions on Maoists, the Constitution and democracy are pretty clear. So what crime have I committed?"  She said she supports the cause of the Rowghat Sangharsh Committeebut is not connected with it. "The claim that I have been spearheading (the movement)…

The music of humanity

January 30, 2014 is the 66th anniversary of Gandhi's assassination
This article has appeared in the Asian Age this morning

The music of humanity The force of love is the same as the force of the soul or truth. We have evidence of its working at every step - M.K. Gandhi
One of the most famous anti-fascist films was Charles Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, which subjected Hitler’s fantasies of global domination to withering satire. Less well-known was his first post-war movie, Monsieur Verdoux (1947), about a genial family man who makes a living by marrying and murdering wealthy widows. Upon being caught, this anti-hero says ‘Clausewitz said that war is the logical extension of diplomacy; Monsieur Verdoux feels that murder is the logical extension of business.’ 
All distinctions notwithstanding, this is where the common trajectories of modern history show themselves. A large segment of our official elites, businessmen, opinion-makers and middle classes are accustomed to the view that some a…