Showing posts from July, 2022

Akhtar Balouch: Why did Qurratulain Hyder leave Pakistan for India?

NB: Today we learn the sad news of Janab Akhtar Balouch's passing . I have not been able to find an obituary and am posting some of his writings as a tribute. This is the first article of his that I posted:  Daya Ram Gidumal of Sindh .  Here are some more , including a fascinating account of Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan's assassination  in October 1951. The piece below is of especial interest, given that we are now witness to literary censorship that India has never seen before. Rest in Peace Akhtar sb. You loved humanity irrespective of religion and nationality; yours was a heart of gold. DS Why did Qurratulain Hyder leave Pakistan for India? She departed this world in August 2007, but continues to live on in her fluid writings since then. After Partition, Qurratulain had migrated to Pakistan and lived here for a few years before deciding to return to India; eventually, she took up Indian citizenship. It was during her stay in Pakistan that she penned her masterpiece novel

Mark Zuckerberg is having a ‘Pearl Harbour’ moment. By John Naughton

The great thing about history is that it often repeats itself – though not necessarily as Marx envisaged it. Here’s a story about the tech industry that illustrates the point. Act one begins in the spring of 1993, when Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina released the first graphical browser for the emerging world wide web. They called it Mosaic and it was a runaway success because it was the thing that enabled ordinary people to understand what this internet thingy was for. In 1994,  Andreessen and Jim Clark set up a company that eventually became Netscape and in October that year released a new, improved browser called Netscape Navigator, which in three months had 75% of the nascent browser market. In August 1995, Netscape went public in a frenzied IPO that triggered the first internet boom. As their company thrived, Andreessen and co started to muse about an even brighter prospect. If web browsers really were the future, they reasoned, and since the operating system (OS) of a PC was effe

Gautam Bhatia - The Executive(’s) Court: Notes on the Legacy of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar

NB: To this excellent commentary on justice I will add a few lines from J.P. Stern's book, Hitler: The Fuhrer and the People (1992). They are taken from pages 113-114; a chapter called The Spirit of National Socialist Law: "National Socialist law is not, as in Dickens, 'an ass': that is, extravagant, purblind, and pompously remote from the true interests of the litigants and the community at large. It is the exercise of objective-seeming power in support of purely arbitrary and subjective decisions, its true character on no way hidden but emphasized by the mock-formality of its wordings. It is the law as it informs Franz Kafka's unfinished novel, The Trial (1914-15). 'Someone must have falsely denounced Josef K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one morning', runs its famous first sentence; and from this opening to Josef K.'s execution at the end, neither he nor anyone else in the novel ever asks the obvious question as to what

Chris Hedges: The Dawn of the Apocalypse

The past week has seen record-breaking heat waves across Europe. Wildfires have ripped through Spain, Portugal and France. London’s fire brigade experienced its busiest day since World War II. The U.K. saw its hottest day on record of 104.54 Fahrenheit. In China, more than a dozen cities issued the “highest possible heat warning” this weekend with over 900 million people in China enduring a scorching heat wave along with severe flooding and landslides across large swathes of southern China. Dozens of people have died. Millions of Chinese have been displaced. Economic losses run into the billions of yuan. Droughts, which have destroyed crops, killed livestock and forced many to flee their homes, are creating a potential famine in the Horn of Africa. More than 100 million people in the United States are under heat alerts in more than two dozen states from temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s and low 100s. Wildfires have destroyed thousands of acres in California . More than 73 p

"Criminal Justice Machinery Relentlessly Employed Against M Zubair": Supreme Court

NB: These remarks in the SC order are gratifying, and show that some of our judges are diligent in their duties as defenders of citizen's freedoms against the misuse of state power. I hope judges and magistrates in lesser courts take a lesson from this judgement and refrain from succumbing to the authoritarian impulses of the regime now in power. DS New Delhi: Fact-checker Mohammed Zubair, who got bail last week, was "trapped in a vicious cycle of criminal process where the process itself has become the punishment," the Supreme Court has said, warning that arrest "cannot be used as a punitive tool". The detailed judgment in the case that was released today contained a series of extremely strong remarks. Muhammed Zubair had walked free last week, after more than a month in jail, days after Chief Justice NV Ramana flagged the matter of "hasty and indiscriminate arrests, difficulty in obtaining bail, and prolonged incarceration of undertrials". "Ar

Igor Torbakov: No empire without end

Over the last 30 years, Russia’s principal strategic goal had been to maintain its quasi-imperial dominance in the post-Soviet space. Not any more. Moscow’s inability to quickly achieve regime change in Kyiv has transformed both the Kremlin’s war aims in Ukraine and the very nature of the Russian state. When Vladimir Putin sent Russian tanks rolling into Ukraine in late February, he still presided over an imperial-like polity largely privileging the methods of indirect rule. Four months later, Russia looks more like an aggrieved and aggressive nationalizing state focused on the ‘gathering of lands’ than a benign, regional hegemon. This dramatic shift will have profound consequences for Russia’s immediate ex-Soviet neighbours, the European Union and the world at large.... Sergei Loznitsa, the Ukrainian film-maker who refuses to be cancelled Don’t cry for me, Dostoevsky Book review: Day of the Oprichnik, 16 Years Later THE CANCELLATIO

Migrant women staying behind

Millions of internal migrants were sent back to their homes across India since the first coronavirus lockdowns. By the time restrictions lifted, many women had already lost work, and faced compounding layers of inequality.  Sunita Devi’s life is a study in contrasts. On a cold February morning, the 35-year-old daily wage worker turned the wheels of a chaff cutter in her village in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. If ‘things had not changed’, Devi would have been 400 kilometers away quarrying stones instead in the neighbouring state of Rajasthan. For more than 15 years now, Devi and her family have been inter-stiate migrants who travel to more than half a dozen cities from Mandi Mirza Khan village in search of work. Her migration, like most of India’s informal workforce, is seasonal and often   circular  (to earn and remit money back), lasting anywhere between six to ten months in a year. She has led a hardscrabble life of manual labour to earn just 9,000 rupees or INR (rough

William deBuys: Welcome to the Pyrocene

In case you hadn’t been paying attention, it’s hot on this planet. I mean, really hot. And I’m not just thinking about Europe’s worst heat wave in at least 200 years . There, fires in Spain, Portugal, and France rage , barely checked. Nor do I have in mind the devastating repeated spring heat waves in South Asia or the disastrous drought in the Horn of Africa . It’s burning right here! Scarcely noticed in the rest of the country (or in national news coverage), the American Southwest and parts of the West are in a megadrought of historic proportions. And parts of New Mexico, as naturalist and TomDispatch regular William deBuys describes so vividly today, have been burning in jaw-dropping fashion. (As a poor state, its fires don’t get the attention that those in wealthier southern California might.) And yet, right now in what Noam Chomsky recently suggested could be “the last stage in human history,” the question is: When it comes to climate change, who’s really paying attention?..

Book review: Wittgenstein at war

“ If to will good or evil has an effect on the world, it can only have one on the boundaries of the world, not on the facts, on what cannot be portrayed by language but can only be shown in language ...  There are two godheads: the world and my independent I. I am either happy or unhappy, that’s all. One can say: good or evil do not exist. Death is not an event in life. We do not live through it in the world. If eternity is understood not as infinite temporal duration, but as non-temporality, then one can say that he lives eternally who lives in the present.” Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) appears to be the only major work of philosophy to have been composed while the author was an active military combatant. René Descartes was serving in the Thirty Years War as a volunteer with the Dutch and then Bavarian armies when he first developed his philosophical ideas, but we don’t know whether he saw combat. Wittgenstein enlisted as an infantryman in the Austro-Hun

Amanda Ripley: I stopped reading the news. Is the problem me or the product?

I have a secret. I kept it hidden for longer than I care to admit. It felt unprofessional, vaguely shameful. It wasn’t who I wanted to be. But here it is: I’ve been actively avoiding the news for years. It wasn’t always this way. I’ve been a journalist for two decades, and I used to spend hours consuming the news and calling it “work.” Every morning, I read The Washington Post, the New York Times and sometimes the Wall Street Journal. In my office at Time magazine, I had a TV playing CNN on mute. I listened to NPR in the shower. On weekends, I devoured the New Yorker. It felt like my duty to be informed, as a citizen and as a journalist — and also, I kind of loved it! Usually, it made me feel more curious, not less. But half a dozen years ago, something changed. The news started to get under my skin. After my morning reading, I felt so drained that I couldn’t write — or do anything creative. I’d listen to “Morning Edition” and feel lethargic, unmotivated, and the day had barely begun

S Anand: I wondered why we weren’t singing such fabulous poetry from Bhakti movement with our ragas

Back in the 14th century, Sant Soyarabai was writing and  singing  abhangs about Vitthal, her god whom she could not visit in a temple because of her Dalit identity. Her abhangs were not just proclamations of her predilections towards god, they were also lessons in understanding caste hierarchy and the pain that was caused by untouchability and Brahminical systems. S Anand, co-founder of Delhi-based publishing house Navayana and author, came across Soyarabai through T he Ant Who Swallowed the Sun , a book by musician Neela Bhagwat and author Jerry Pinto, which translates and explains  poetry  by 10 women saints of Maharashtra from the Bhakti movement.  Kiti kiti bolu deva, kiti Karu aata heva  (O god how much more do I plead The jealousy I must bear till you heed)  Anand uses Jaijaivanti, a raga from Guru Granth Sahab that’s mostly represented as a combination of joy and sorrow, to convey this abhang, which talks of a god who does not care for her, but does for all the others. Soyaraba