Showing posts from 2021

George Orwell: Literature and Totalitarianism (1941)

I said at the beginning of my first talk that this is not a critical age. It is an age of partisanship and not of detachment, an age in which it is especially difficult to see literary merit in a book with whose conclusions you disagree. Politics - politics in the most general sense - have invaded literature, to an extent that does not normally happen, and this has brought to the surface of our consciousness the struggle that always goes on between the individual and the community. It is when one considers the difficulty of writing honest unbiased criticism in a time like ours that one begins to grasp the nature of the threat that hangs over the whole of literature in the coming age. We live in an age which the autonomous individual is ceasing to exist - or perhaps one ought to say, in which the individual is ceasing to have the illusion of being autonomous. Now, in all that we say about literature, and (above all) in all that we say about criticism, we instinctively take the autonom

Mrinal Pande: A land where no one speaks truth to power

Ram, the crown prince of Ayodhya, was born in Chaitra, the first month in the lunar Hindu new year. Ever since, chaiti songs have Ram’s name woven into them. His mother’s lament still resounds all over the Indo-Gangetic plains in popular chaitis: “Kin more Awadh ujaari ho, bilkhain Kaushalya/ Ram bina mori sooni Ayodhya, / Kou samujhavat naahin … (Queen Kaushalya cries, ‘Who has ruined my Ayodhya and banished my Ram?/Why is no one trying to talk sense?’)” After being banished to the forest for 14 years, Ram’s life begins to correspond to the life cycles of most epic heroes, from Odysseus to Beowulf to Gandhi. The young hero goes on a long journey to alien lands to defeat a monster or wild beast. He kills the demon, rescues a captive lady, and is rewarded with a throne. But now he must rule over near-strangers, constantly squabbling among themselves and gossiping about him. Ram created a Ram Rajya as Gandhi created independent India — at great personal cost. Finally, he handed his thr

Citizens, armed forces veterans write to President, PM Modi on hate speech / Aditi Mittal: Deafening silence in a year of hate speech

Five former chiefs of the armed forces and a number of other prominent citizens including bureaucrats have written a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister  Narendra Modi  on the  recent incidents of hate speeches  and urged them to take appropriate measures.  In a letter, the group of over 100 people also referred to the communal comments  made at an event in Haridwar  recently and condemned “in no uncertain terms” such “incitement” to violence. “We cannot allow such incitement to violence together with public expressions of hate – which not only constitute serious breaches of internal security but which could also tear apart the social fabric of our nation,” they said in the letter. Aditi Mittal: Deafening silence in a year of hate speech 2021 was a year of speech – free speech, hate speech, funny speech — and a year of silence. I grew up during India’s Mile sur mera

P. B. Mehta: Can 2022 be a year of cooperation?

 The modern world has been animated by two important impulses. The first is a drive to a mastery over nature, where we can remake and engineer the natural world, this planet and even our bodies, to serve human desire and imagination. Nature, in this view, is not a binding constraint but an obstacle to be overcome. The second impulse is the remaking of our social world so that it is justified to all those who inhabit it. There is nothing providential about our social institutions, and the power and hierarchies they embody. These have to be rearranged to acknowledge a degree of earthly moral equality. They need to appear legitimate to the citizens who inhabit them. One of the paradoxes of our political life is that we have thought it easier to remake nature than to remake the social institutions that are constructed by us. When it comes to nature, we overcome the empire of necessity by more and more technological progress. There is a temptation, after each human calamity, whether a pan

Brian Eno: Spinning Away / Gulzar: आहिस्ता चल ज़िन्दगी / Eliza Shaddad: Waters

Brian Eno: Spinning Away Up on a hill, as the day dissolves With my pencil turning moments into line High above in the violet sky A silent silver plane - it draws a golden chain One by one, all the stars appear As the great winds of the planet spiral in Spinning away, like the night sky at Arles In the million insect storm, the constellations form On a hill, under a raven sky I have no idea exactly what I've drawn Some kind of change, some kind of spinning away With every single line moving further out in time And now as the pale moon rides (in the stars) Her form in my pale blue lines (in the stars) And there, as the world rolls round (in the stars) I draw, but the lines move round (in the stars) There, as the great wheels blaze (in the stars) I draw, but my drawing fades (in the stars) And now, as the old sun dies (in the stars) I draw, and the four winds sigh (in the stars) Gulzar : आहिस्ता चल ज़िन्दगी आहिस्ता चल ज़िन्दगी कई क़र्ज़ चुकाना

The Courage of bell hooks

The hills of Kentucky are enveloped in a legacy of resistance — first against the white colonizers who touched the Indigenous land we call America, and later against a state that confined an increasingly nonconformist working class, derogatorily designated hillbillies. It’s in the crevices of Appalachian dissent and Southern discontent that bell hooks, née Gloria Watkins, was born, in the small town of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in 1952. Her chosen name is an homage to her great grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks, styled in lowercase to decenter herself in deference to her family and the work she would go on to produce, publishing over 30 books and scholarly articles — a lodestar for decades of Black feminist writing and scholarship — before  her untimely passing at 69 . hooks would eventually leave Kentucky, citing her family’s move away from the hillside and into the fabric of mainstream society — as well as the racialized violence that framed her childhood in the 1950s and ’60s — as the i

Los Angeles police murder a 14-Year-Old Girl

The shooting death by Los Angeles Police of 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta, who died in a changing room of a Burlington Outlet store while with her mother trying on a dress for her coming 15th birthday celebration, is an atrocity beyond comprehension. I don’t care what kinds of excuses are made by the cop or cops who fired shots, one of which tore away this young girl’s life as her horrified mother had to watch and desperately try to save her. There is simply no possible justification for firing police guns in a crowded store. I cannot even bear to try and imagine the agony her family is now suffering, especially listening to the tired police excuses and lame platitudes that always accompany such all too frequent monstrous acts by America’s centurions. News reports quoting police officials say that the police were called because a man was attacking a store customer with a “heavy duty” bike lock and “threatening to destroy store property.” That in itself doesn’t sound terribly

काशी विश्वनाथ मंदिर के महंत ने मोदी, योगी पर लगाया बड़ा आरोप, सुनकर रह जाएंगे हैरान!

काशी विश्वनाथ मंदिर के महंत ने मोदी, योगी पर लगाया बड़ा आरोप, सुनकर रह जाएंगे हैरान! पंकज श्रीवास्तव से टकराई रिपोर्टर, फिर जो हुआ वो खुद देख लीजिए हमसे ऐसे जुड़ें - FORUM4: यूट्यूब लिंक: इंस्टाग्राम: ट्विटर: और फेसबुक: (लगातार खबरों के अपडेट पाने व मनोरंजन के लिए और सोशल मीडिया पर जुड़ने के लिए लिंक पर जाकर Follow व Subscribe करें) आप हमें खबरों की जानकारी भी दे सकते हैं। कोई रिपोर्ट भेज भी सकते हैं। इसके लिए आप पर ईमेल से संपर्क कर सकते हैं।

Eastern European countries adopting authoritarian measures in face of Covid

Europe’s political approach to the coronavirus pandemic has divided down stark east-west lines, a Guardian analysis has found. Five of 18 eastern European countries have registered major violations of international democratic freedoms since March 2020, according to  research  conducted by the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute, compared with none of 12 western European countries. The research also shows that eastern European countries have been more likely to turn to abusive enforcement, disinformation and discriminatory measures, with the most common violation being restrictions  on the media . The worst violations were observed  in Serbia , which recorded a violations score three times higher than the European average. Under a special regime implemented in a declared state of emergency, refugees, migrants and asylum seekers were selectively targeted and put under strict 24-hour quarantine, controlled by the military. They were banned from leaving the centres, while support st

Juan Cole: Jesus and Mary in Paintings of the Mughal Court

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Here’s a Christmas entry. The Mughal dynasty, originating in what is now Uzbekistan, ruled India from 1526 until the 18th century, though the dynasty continued under British rule until 1857. Some of the members of the royal family were remarkably open-minded about religion, being a Muslim minority in a sea of Hindus and members of other religions. Indeed, most people in the Mughal bureaucracy were Hindus, and the Rajput Hindu cavalry was a key element of its military. It was not so much a Muslim empire, though Muslim rulers were at the top of it, as a multicultural one. The ruler Akbar (r. 1556-1605), a contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I, invited to his court holy men from the Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Zoroastrian communities where they held dialogues on the truth. When Akbar conquered Gujarat, he encountered Portuguese Christians based at the colony of Goa, and invited some Jesuits to his court. At one point he commissioned them to write a Persian ac

Dina Matar - 2021: a grim year for Free Speech as hundreds of Journalists are arrested in an increasingly authoritarian World

Hundreds of journalists killed or arrested, rising numbers of female media workers targeted, floods of misinformation and hate speech and ineffectual or hostile governments unable or unwilling to protect the public’s right to know. The 2021 press freedom index released recently by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) makes for grim reading. The report reveals that 488 journalists were detained in 2021 – an increase of 20% compared to the previous year – while a total of 46 were killed and 65 held hostage. Of those detained, 60 were women (33% higher than 2020). As you might expect, it tends to be autocratic regimes with dismal records for freedom of speech and human rights which crop up once again as the worst offenders. The latest report notes an upturn in repression against journalists in Belarus – where opposition politicians and commentators have been targeted in the government crackdown since the August 2020 election – as well in Myanmar, where the military coup of February has bee

Andrew Roth: Rights group’s closure is part of rapid dismantling of Russian civil society

In a terrible year for human rights in Russia, beginning with the imprisonment of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the  closure of International Memorial  stands out for its ruthlessness. Founded in the late 1980s by Andrei Sakharov and other Soviet-era dissidents, the group took the new freedoms offered under Mikhail Gorbachev and used them to reveal raw truths about the fate of millions of victims of Stalin’s repressions. It was a poignant symbol of Russia’s new openness, but for many the meaning was anything but abstract: Russians discovered the tragic fates of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents after decades of secrecy and official cowardice. Memorial’s closure is also a potent symbol – one of Russian civil society being dismantled at lightning speed. Its leadership had hoped that public support, including from prominent Russians such as Gorbachev, would stay the Kremlin’s hand. Or that closing down an organisation dedicated to uncovering Soviet atrocities wo

Hannah Ellis-Petersen: Statue smashed in spate of attacks on India’s Christian community / Sunita Viswanath: How do we break the cycle of religious violence in South Asia? / Mukul Kesavan - Magic and mayhem: The death cult at Haridwar

Festive celebrations were disrupted, Jesus statues were smashed and effigies of Santa Claus were burned in a spate of attacks on India’s Christian community over Christmas.Amid growing intolerance and violence against India’s Christian minority, who make up about 2% of India’s population, several Christmas events were targeted by Hindu right wing groups, who alleged Christians were using festivities to force Hindus to convert. In recent years, Christians have increasingly faced harassment around Christmas but this year saw a notable surge in attacks. In Agra in Uttar Pradesh, members of right wing Hindu groups burned effigies of Santa Claus outside missionary-led schools and accused Christian missionaries of using Christmas celebrations to lure people in.... Sunita Viswanath: How do we break the cycle of religious violence in South Asia? Over the last few months, South

रूस ने गुलाग इतिहासकार की सजा और बढ़ाई / Gulag historian, activist Yuri Dmitriyev sentenced to 15 years

रूस के गुलाग शिविरों पर शोध करने वाले इतिहासकार यूरी दमित्रियेव   की जेल की सजा को 13 साल से बढ़ा कर 15 साल कर दिया गया है . उनके समर्थकों का कहना है कि उन्हें उनके काम की वजह से सजा दी जा रही है .  65 साल के   यूरी दमित्रियेव के समर्थकों का कहना है कि उन्हें इसलिए निशाना बनाया जा रहा है क्योंकि उन्होंने सोवियत काल की विभीषिकाओं को उजागर करने की कोशिश की थी .  दमित्रियेव देश के सबसे जाने माने अधिकार समूह ' मेमोरियल ' के स्थानीय प्रमुख भी हैं . संभव है कि इसी सप्ताह ' मेमोरियल ' को भी बंद कर दिया जाए . पिछले साल उत्तर - पश्चिमी रूस में एक अदालत ने   दमित्रियेव   को एक विवादास्पाद यौन अपराध के तहत 13 साल कारावास की सजा सुनाई थी . सोवियत काल की विभीषिकाओं के खिलाफ:  फिर दिसंबर में अभियोजकों ने अदालत से गुजारिश की कि उनकी सजा को और दो साल बढ़ा दिया जाए . सोमवार 27 जनवरी को पेत्रोजावोद्स्क शहर की एक अदालत ने इस अनुरोध को स्वीकार कर