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By: on 20 May 2008

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By: on 20 May 2008

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Press Release: Delhi High Court Begins Section 377 Hearing

By: on 19 May 2008

From the Queer Media Collective:

Final arguments have begun in the Delhi High Court on the petition seeking decriminalisation of homosexuality in India by reading down of Section 377 IPC to exclude private sexual acts between consenting adults.

Review: Unaccustomed Earth

By: on 19 May 2008

Jhumpa Lahiri's first book, The Interpreter of Maladies, came out when I was in college. I didn't have many desi friends at the time, ad I was skeptical when my non-desi friends raved about the book and insisted that I try to read it. The title and the cover made me skeptical - I was sure that the stories would be full of weeping women in saris lamenting the lack of romance in their lives while the scent of frying cardamom hung heavy in the air. And although there were some saris, and there was more than a little bit of cardamom, there was also something else, something I devoured hungrily and eagerly: there, on the page, was my life. I am not Bengali. My father is not a professor from New England. We do not eat fish. But in some inexplicable way, the characters on the page might as well have been members of my family, both real and adopted, here in the United States. It was the first time I had seen myself in a book, and I sat in the library and read the whole thing in one sitting.

When The Namesake came out, I was pretty sure that it would be annoying at best, and cloying at worst. I heard about the male narrator and suspected that the voice that worked so well in Lahiri's short stories would devolve into self-pitying nonsense in a novel. Instead, once again, I found myself and my family between the pages, and once again, I read the whole thing in one sitting.

Last night, I started Unaccustomed Earth with the same trepidation with which I had approached Lahiri's other books. Would it be full of whiny stories about how awful it is to be an immigrant? Would there be cable knit sweaters and chicken curry and all of the other classically Lahiri elements that, in most other work, would be irritating beyond redemption? Would I read it and think that it deserved its place at the top of the best seller list?

As predicted, I picked up the book at 6 p.m. and went to bed after finishing it at 2 a.m. Also as predicted, I loved it, despite my initial doubts.

Tidbit: Dead, White, or Canadian?

By: on 18 May 2008

I was reading an article on possible first women presidents of the United States now that Hillary Clinton's almost definitely out.  Buried in the article is the name of the San Francisco District Attorney, Kamala Harris, whom I had never heard of before.  She's listed as an "African-American" woman but more specifically, she's mixed race--half Black and half Indian.  Harris was raised from age 5 by her Tam Bram mother Dr.

Industrialisation Hai? (3)

By: on 16 May 2008

The last two posts discussed an overview of political economy in India and why the market/state dichotomy is largely irrelevant to understanding it.  This last one covers some ideas about what might be more relevant to understanding what leads to industrialization if it's not "the market" or "the state" or the precepts of any overarching ideology imposed from somewhere else, as well as some brief comments about social structure in India.

What leads to industrialization?  This question is more important than the ideological debates among (elite) statists and (elite) market fundamentalists and extremely sensitive to local history, politics, social structure, etc. (by local, I mean the bounds of a particular state, not a particular town). In this vein, I'd highlight the importance of policy autonomy for developing countries - the ability to shape their own ideas; it's not a coincidence, imo, that India and China are the largest and most powerful among the developing countries; that they both staked out non-aligned policies in different ways during the U.S.-USSR rivalry; and that India didn't wholeheartedly pursue socialism and China (and India) haven't wholeheartedly pursued liberalism. To put it slightly differently, ask yourself why they were among the last to be able to resist the demands of the IMF/World Bank/U.S.-led global system and why they are the ones that are succeeding the most now in terms of GDP growth and hype. Coincidence?

Times Blames Pakistan for Blasts in Jaipur, (The) Hindu Begs to Differ

By: on 14 May 2008

I awoke this morning to a slew of nearly identical emails in my inbox. All of them contained a link to this morning's article in the New York Times about the seven bombs that went off in Jaipur last night. "Did you hear about this?" Most of them said. (Not until this morning.) "Isn't this where you're going this summer?" The less South-Asia savvy emailers asked. (Yes, I am.) "Hope your parents don't read the paper," some of them said. (Of course my parents read the paper. Who do you think trained me to be so vitriolic about the Western press?)

(Speaking of the Western press...) Perhaps predictably, the coverage of the bomb blasts in the Times was remarkably different from the coverage in the other sources I checked. Specifically, author Somini Sengupta was quick to allude to the possible Muslim-terrorist angle, and to imply that the Muslim-terrorists were from (you guessed it) Pakistan, the punching bag of the current election, the Republicans' and the Democrats' favorite new source of terrorist threats. Sengupta's article groundlessly and irresponsibly supports Pakistan's image as the new haven for Bin-Laden-wannabes.

For Dr. Binayak Sen

By: on 13 May 2008

Hi folks, there are events going on around the US today to mark the one-year anniversary of the detention of Dr. Binayak Sen in Chattisgarh. Sepoy wrote about it last year. Yesterday, twenty-two Nobel Laureates called for his release.

More on him soon. I realize I'm late on posting this, but some of the planned protests haven't yet happened. View them below the fold...

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