Showing posts from December, 2020

Khurram Husain: What’s up in Gwadar?

SOMETIME around the first week of December, the residents of Gwadar woke up to find work taking place to build a large metal fence that would stretch from just north of the old airport and extend westward along a road known as the Balochistan Broadway Avenue. The total length of the fence would be 24 kilometres, and according to what the locals were able to gather, it is planned to extend in a straight line along the central divider of Broadway Avenue and then cut straight south to the sea. Along the way, it will cut two habitations of 30 to 40 houses into two parts, one part inside the fence and one outside. The master plan for Gwadar includes three special zones, known as the Gwadar Port Free Zone (2,280 acres), GIEDA Industrial Zone (3,000 acres) and EPZA export processing zone (1,000 acres). As part of the infrastructure development programme for these three zones, a series of projects are envisioned, including construction of roads, utilities, warehouses and security. In the pro

Didier Fassin: The blind spots of left populism

NB : Aside from its useful political reflections, the most important theoretical insight in this essay is this one:  ‘Populism is not an ideology but the discursive strategy that sets up an opposition between the elite and the people and is therefore able to accommodate various institutional frameworks.’ In other words, populism is a rhetorical style that employs a clear cut if undefinable binary opposition; and is employed by variegated ideological projects. DS In the profusion of essays recently published on populism (Müller 2016, Moffitt 2017, Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser 2017) one stands out for its claim of the term, the idea and the program:  Chantal Mouffe ’s (2018) manifesto  For a Left Populism , which has received much attention from political scientists as well as politicians. Whereas most authors writing on this timely topic distance themselves from what they regard as a nefarious ideology or a treacherous disguise, the Belgian political theorist promotes it as the only way,

What happened to democracy in 2020?

There are some positive dimensions to the current situation. While we see democratic declines, including inside the EU, we also see  very high levels of protests globally . These are motivated by all kinds of issues, but corruption remains an important factor. For me, what’s important here is that people are recognising and acquiring ownership of their power and are becoming important political players - reclaiming democratic processes of contestation, political conflict resolution. This parallel trend of protests, whether beautifully expressed in Belarus right now, or Armenia’s 2018 Velvet Revolution is important. Both of these cases demonstrate that there is significant grassroots capacity and willingness of people to demand participation. The challenge is how to translate this mass-scale political activity through institutions. Essentially, what we're learning, once again, is that the ability of institutions to manage this democratic breakthrough, or people power, is key. We s

Subir Sinha: COVID has blurred the lines between waged, coerced and trafficked labour in India

Numerous news outlets and activist groups in India have reported an increase in trafficking, bonded labour, and slave-like working conditions in the past weeks. The two main stories were the rescue of young boys from a basement bangle factory in  Rajasthan  and  Gujarat  and the rescue of young girls from  sex work  and domestic servitude. Instead of seeing increases in trafficked and coerced labour as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown imposed in March, I suggest that it is located in a longer story of labour’s weakening position vis-a-vis their employers and the erosion of their existing rights. The pandemic and the lockdown did not  create  the conditions for the subjection of labour or for trafficking. They  deepened  existing asymmetries. The popular view of the ‘India success story’ is that of sustained high growth rates on the one hand and record reductions in absolute poverty on the other. But in fact high growth was delivered on the backs on hyper-exp

Timothy Garton Ash: The future of liberalism

in many relatively free countries we have something close to a corporate-plutocratic-oligarchic stranglehold on the state. This needs to be broken, by democratic means, or else the electoral procedures of democracy will continue to be exploited to subvert liberalism, as populists (sometimes themselves plutocrats) stir up unhappy majorities..    Faced with creeping authoritarianism, liberals need to craft a new agenda—learning from their serious mistakes, and shaking shibboleths of both right and left. The victory of Joe Biden in the US presidential election gives a fragile opening for liberal renewal, but more than 70m Americans voted for Donald Trump. In Britain, a populist Conservative government faces a Labour Party with a new, left-liberal leader, Keir Starmer. In France, Marine Le Pen remains a serious threat to Europe’s leading liberal renewer, Emmanuel Macron. In Hungary, the EU has an increasingly illiberal and undemocratic member state.  The likely economic consequences of the

Robert Reich on America's broken windows

Nearly forty years ago, political scientist James Q Wilson and criminologist George Kelling observed that a broken window left unattended in a community signals that no one cares if windows are broken there. The broken window is thereby an invitation to throw more stones and break more windows. The message: do whatever you want here because others have done it and got away with it. The broken window theory has led to picayune and arbitrary law enforcement in poor communities. But America’s most privileged and powerful have been breaking big windows with impunity. In 2008, Wall Street nearly destroyed the economy. The Street got bailed out while millions of Americans lost their jobs, savings, and homes. Yet no major Wall Street executive ever went to jail…. Americans’ acceptance of Trump’s behavior will be his vilest legacy Robert Reich Most of the 74,222,957 Americans who voted to re-elect Donald Trump – 46.8%of the votes cast in the 2020 presidential election – don’t hold Trump accoun

Bharat Bhushan: The Kashmir valley has rejected PM Narendra Modi's 'Gram Swaraj'

Prime Minister Modi has described the just completed third tier local body elections to the District Development Councils (DDCs) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) as realisation of Mahatama Gandhi’s vision of “Gram Swaraj”. However, they are hardly likely to satisfy local Kashmiri aspirations for the restoration of basic democratic freedoms or dampen international criticism. The DDC’s governance mandate is limited to just five subjects– welfare, health, education, finance and public works. The Kashmiri is far too savvy to be taken in by limited municipal ‘democracy’ while larger freedoms, including that of electing legislators are denied. They are aware that if political activists continue to remain in jail, security forces remain widely deployed with no legislative checks or accountability and even the freedom to communicate freely is curtailed, then such “elections” cannot lead to a revival of democracy, leave alone to the restoration of limited autonomy. Equally misplaced is the re

Watch/hear stinging denunciation of Modi regime and its sabotage of justice at Kisan protest

Watch Bhanu Pratap Singh 's stinging  denunciation of Modi regime and its sabotage of justice   at Kisan protest.  Bhanu Pratap is an Advocate practicing in the Supreme Court of India.. Indian Farmers' Protest - Work in progress videos Amit Bhaduri: Faces in mirror held up by farmers’ protest   Discussion on Indian Agriculture and the ongoing Kisan agitation Navsharan Singh: A million reasons to march Jairus Banaji on the Indian corporate strategy of subordinating farm households and family labor Listen to this kisan's views on the Modi Government STATE OF RURAL AND AGRARIAN INDIA REPORT 2020 Why should Indian agriculture be liberalised when in most countries governments subsidise it? By Christophe Jaffrelot , Hemal Thakker 'The law related to Agricultural Produce marketing is a death warrant' / P Sainath

Avani Bansal: Raid on Mehmood Pracha’s Office: India’s Hans Litten Moment?

The Indian legal community seems to have witnessed its own ‘Hans Litten’ moment as Advocate Mehmood Pracha’s office was raided by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police this week.  Hitler hated lawyers , but one lawyer whose name couldn’t even be mentioned in Hitler’s presence was that of Hans Achim Litten. He opposed the Nazis at political trials between 1929 and 1932, and was most notably known for his cross-examination of Hitler for about three hours in May 1931 in the Tanzpalast Eden Trial. Of course, it didn’t go down well with Hitler, and in 1937, at the age of 34 years, Litten was sent to a concentration camp. On February 5, 1938, he committed suicide, frustrated by the continuous torture, interrogations and a failed attempt to escape the concentration camp. Watch stinging denunciation of Modi regime and its sabotage of justice at Kisan protest Indian Farmers' Protest - Work in progress videos What’s interesting is that in spite of his legacy, it took Germany a long time to t

Chinese journalist who documented Wuhan coronavirus outbreak jailed for 4 years

An independent Chinese journalist who reported from Wuhan at the height of the initial coronavirus outbreak has been jailed for four years by a Shanghai court, her lawyer said Monday.  Zhang Zhan , 37, was found guilty of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble," according to one of her defense lawyers Zhang Keke, who attended her hearing. The offense is commonly used by the Chinese government to target dissidents and human rights activists. A former lawyer, Zhang traveled some 400 miles from Shanghai to Wuhan in early February to report on the pandemic and subsequent attempts to contain it, just as the authorities began reining in state-run and private Chinese media. For more than three months, she documented snippets of life under lockdown in Wuhan and the harsh reality faced by its residents, from  overflowing hospitals  to  empty shops . She posted her observations, photos and videos on Wechat,  Twitter  and  YouTube  -- the latter two of which are blocked in China.  He