Blogs

New: Samar Issue 29

By: on 13 May 2008

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Issue 29: Our Rights, Our Stories
Check out the latest in SAMAR Magazine
http://www.samarmagazine.org/ May 13, 2008
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Featuring:

** Svati Shah explores anti-trafficking laws through the recent walk out by South Asian migrant shipyard workers in Mississippi

** Two pieces explore strategies for storytelling. Linta Varghese reviews a theatre performance put together by low wage workers from the organization Andolan in New York City. And stories from Aakash Kishore and Alicia Virani were written in a writing workshop by Satrang in Los Angeles for members of the LGBTIQQ South Asian community

** Nadine Murshid questions how a rape and murder is still not tried in court in Bangladesh even though there are laws to prosecute such cases

** S.P. Arun sees an alarming trend of detaining human rights activists in India; the recent case of Dr. Sen is being countered with worldwide vigils this week

** Plus, fiction by Sharmila Mukerjee that is a Tale of an Indian Lesbian

**And, the latest political cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Industrialisation Hai? (2)

By: on 11 May 2008

In the first post, I gave you an overview of what I've learned about the political economy of development in India. This post covers the first of three related major debates that I'm interested in or are overly discussed:

1. market vs. state
2. what empirically leads to industrialization
3. the difference between "development" and "development"

I would argue that number one is a red herring. Ideologies come and go--before, it was socialist planning, now it's liberalization. It masks two, more real, arguments, I'd say, in the same way that ideological disputes among the Indian statebuilders at independence masked the fact they were ALL part of the Indian elite (caste-wise, education wise, power-wise). However, in the interests of laying out the details:

In short, markets are good at providing discipline (i.e. you go out of business if you can't compete) but bad at long-term investment in creating or upgrading industries in terms of their technological and organizational competitiveness. The Indian state, at least, proved good at providing long-term investment in industry, but not good at ensuring that the subsidies didn't become monopoly perqs for businesses, rather than an incentive for industrialization.

The minimal amount of looking into India's political economy I've done has exposed exactly how flawed the recommendations of neoclassical economists have largely been. The idea so prevalent today that if you just 'remove' political interference and let the market work ignores basic realities of developing countries (like they might not have a functioning market or state yet and that they're condemned to remain extremely poor if you focus on sectors that they have a 'comparative advantage' in because there's a difference between growth and industrialization, as kawaa pointed out earlier)

Tidbit: Shoot Me Now and Shoot Me Later?

By: on 6 May 2008

...in separate conversations last week, no fewer than four McCain staffers and advisers mentioned as a possible vice-presidential pick the 36-year-old Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal. They’re tempted by the idea of picking someone so young, with real accomplishments and a strong reformist streak.

It might also be a way to confront the issue of McCain’s age (71), which private polls and focus groups suggest could be a real problem. A Jindal pick would implicitly acknowledge the questions and raise the ante. The message would be: “You want generational change?

Caption Game: Bon Voyage!

By: on 5 May 2008

Thanks for the link, Cenan.

Review: Rushdie at the Pen American Festival

By: on 5 May 2008

This Friday, a friend and I braved the crowds at the 92nd Street Y to see Mario Vargas Llosa, Umberto Eco, and Salmaan Rushdie say smart things on stage.  The event was part of the Pen American Festival, an annual New York City gathering of Writers Who Care About Stuff.  The center was founded to promote freedom of expression and to celebrate courageous authors who stand up for their right to write.  Rushdie shows up at the festival every year - undoubtedly as a result of his authorial history - ready with his sharp jokes and blunt comments.  I had seen him speak once before in college, and had been impressed, and was excited to see him again, particularly because he has a new book coming out next month.

Industrialisation Hai? (1)

By: on 1 May 2008

You hear a lot about liberalization, India Shining, etc. This is at best a simplified and overly ideological (Americanized) version of the story of how India is changing, and is probably more reflective of the ideological predilections of the Indian elite class--which includes the so-called "middle class" that is, at best, around 20% of the population and probably much closer to 8 to 10 million people among over 1 billion.

Since the conversation about the broad topic of Indian industrialization and its history has come up in the comments thread for another post, I'm going to use blogger's prerogative and boost it to the main page since it's an important and current issue. Please feel free to offer in-depth critiques and simple questions, because this series of posts will be in-depth and I'm too caught up in jargon a this point to remember that not everyone has spent too much time reading debates about class structure in India in the 1960s.

To lay my cards out on the table, the trajectory of Indian development as I have been taught it is as follows:

Pesky Priya, What Have You Done?

By: on 30 Apr 2008

Snarkers, start your engines. My friend sent me this link about one of our own suing her students for, as the headline states, "being mean to her." The article includes a couple of embarrassing emails and some classic Gawker snark.

I have to admit, my first reaction was, "Now that's what I call privilege." Just some background: I have spent approximately five years teaching students of various difficulty levels, and have had stuff chucked at everything from my face to my soul by students who harbored varying degrees of anger at the fact that they had to learn chemistry at all / the fact that they had to learn chemistry from me / the fact that I was giving them a failing grade (which I'd like to think they earned, but they might argue otherwise) / the fact that I existed. While some of what they did was definitely mean, and while my time in the public school system was also the time when I had the lowest self-esteem EVER, I would never have sued these kids. Education in this country can be a nightmare, particularly in the places where I was teaching (or, more accurately, attempting to teach with questionable success). Suing someone else for pain and suffering generated from my inadequacy in the classroom seems whiny and spoiled, the kind of thing you do if you have too much money and not enough humility.

Add to that our recent discussions on race on this very blog, and I kind of wanted to give it to comrade Priya good. The giving it would go something like this, excessive punctuation included:

"What are you doing?! People already think of us as the race without the street cred to complain about racism. Why are you giving them more evidence? Why are you making us look like we're the weenie minority? For the love of god, woman, cease and desist! BUS! BUS!"

But then I thought a little harder, and I wasn't so sure if my first reaction was the right one. Maybe (gasp) this is not a time for snarkiness, but for contemplation.

Tidbit: Vote For Your Favorite Intellectuals!

By: on 29 Apr 2008

Foreign Policy / Prospect is conducting a poll of your favorite public intellectuals.  I was frankly pleased by the number of people from the global South they had there (Ashis Nandy?  Abdolkarim Soroush?  Who knew?), given the circumstances.  You can also write in anyone you want at the end, in addition to (or perhaps in lieu of) your five choices.

Here it is.

Grading the Editors: NYT Editorial On Pakistan Barely Passes

By: on 29 Apr 2008

Grade: D

suggestions for improvement: awareness of recent events and familiarity with U.S. politics is good; in comparison, your discussion of the structure of the Pakistani government/politics could benefit from the same level of detail given to the U.S. (see Jalal, Alavi, Siddiqa for specifics on social basis of politics, role of the military, and implications of U.S.-Pakistani relations; and Talbot and Jaffrelot for basic background); writing that is a bit less polemical and has more careful word choice would improve the piece; deeper analysis was required--you have too many conclusions that rest on unsubstantiated and at times challengeable assertions--but a good start!!!!

Editorial
Making Their Own Mistakes [this sounds pejorative--another phrase?]

When Pervez Musharraf was running Pakistan he repeatedly cut deals with tribal leaders intended to calm the country’s lawless regions [generally speaking, it's misleading to describe any single person as running the government of Pakistan, rather than some combination of military, bureaucratic, and civilian leadership; also be careful with language "tribal" and "lawless" evoke Orientalist depictions]. The results were always disastrous [always? would be good to include background here and what you mean by "disastrous"]. The Taliban and Al Qaeda used the time to regroup and launch attacks both inside Pakistan and against Afghanistan [be careful of conflating in your discussion the interests of the Pakistani state, the Afghan government, the U.S., and the people of the respective areas].

The Separation of Reason and State

By: on 28 Apr 2008

My first teaching job here in the city was at a small high school begun with the aid of a new visions grant. Although ultimately I lacked the chops to stay in the public school system, I have only great things to say about the New York City small schools movement, and, in particular, about the small school where I taught. Most people I met who wanted to start small schools had visionary ideas about education, and were willing to take risks to create non-traditional spaces where all kinds of learning could take place.

Of course, some schools were riskier than others: just ask Debbie Almontaser, who was just forced to resign from her school amid a storm of accusations questioning her patriotism and intentions. In some ways, the article tells the now familiar story of a progressive Muslim woman who critics attack based on poorly-substantiated stories about her ties to radical jihadist and terrorist organizations simply because she wears a head scarf. Naturally, this story infuriated me. But what I found even more maddening were the anecdotes in the article that critics used to prove Ms. Almontaser's radical bent, mostly because I've experienced all those things in the public school system...from Christians.

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