An American Perspective on Race and Civil Liberties in the UK

By: on 28 Mar 2009

I. I saw a programme today on the tele which interviewed young people about what they thought of a school programme that allows them to pay for their food with their fingerprint.  The fingerprint is hashed into a number, which is then stored in a fairly unsecure room on a server, according to a school official.  The school official said that it would be impossible to reconvert the number back into a fingerprint, which the show later pointed out has already been done by a team in Japan.

My Meeting With a Former ULFA

By: on 22 Mar 2009

Imagine my absolute happiness when a former wannabe ULFA and actual AASU Agitator who got packed off to study architecture in Chandigarh (and so didn’t join ULFA), was more than happy to introduce me to his friend, S.

The Redundancy of the Sri Ram Sene

By: on 22 Mar 2009


The right-wing group (Sri Ram Sene) also urged police to ban Valentine's day celebrations across Karnataka. "Celebrating Valentine's Day is a vulgar culture. We will not allow it. We will attack places where it is celebrated," Sene's state secretary Krishna Gandalekar told reporters here.

The Re-telling of a Conflict

By: on 22 Mar 2009

It is now winter and the mist of the morning cloaks cop and robber alike. There is a distance between man and mortality at this point. There is nothing left of the previous night, but between the daylight and the dying light of the moon, there exists the dark and the people who dwell in it; cop and robber alike. Perhaps I should be more specific. Cop and insurgent. Robbers are welcome here. They are the lesser criminals. The self-interested idiots who think only of small gain, not concerning themselves with matters of state and government, regime change and gun-running.

Situating Slumdog Millionaire

By: on 22 Mar 2009

I saw “Slumdog Millionaire” months ago, before the Oscars but after its appeal had risen to fever-pitch in the more multi-cultish corners of the US, like my very own Bay Area. I arrived early with my friend and the theater was packed with well-heeled, wide open-minded Berkeleyans, and this was well before the previews. And the next two hours were very enjoyable – the plot, if a bit saccharine, was also snappy and well-executed, the supersaturated colours were beautiful and it was not Bollywood length: all positives. By the time the credits came around and there was all that dancing at VT, I realized that that was the first and last dance number, also a major appeal. I liked it. I felt like Danny Boyle had given me a good time: it was Bollywood-ish enough not to feel completely fake, not Bollywood enough to require Excedrin before the intermission. But with enjoyment came some unease. 

Pakistan and Its Future: A Response to Wajiha Ahmed

By: on 21 Mar 2009

Wajiha Ahmed recently wrote a refreshing post on Pakistan on Sepia Mutiny.   Here are the two key points for me:

democracy is not an event, it is a process.

a structural reality: prolonged military rule (for more, read Ayesha Siddiqa’s Military Inc or Ayesha Jalal’s Democracy and Authoritarianism).

The State Department, the Media, and "Human Rights in South Asia"

By: on 26 Feb 2009

I. A few years ago, I was walking down the street near the East Village with some colleagues from various organizations when a woman came up to us and stopped us.  "Have you heard about Gujara?" she asked me.  She did this without saying hello, introducing herself, or saying her name--which all makes sense, because she was, in fact, a total stranger.  She just happened to want to talk to me about the emotionally loaded topic of the Hindutva pogroms in Gujarat without knowing me, where I come from, or what my views might be.

Many People Die in Boat Collision...Again

By: on 22 Feb 2009

A few years ago, when I used to do anti-sweatshop work focusing  at an American-union funded organisation, a sociologist confronted me about how we came up with our demands.  She asked something like why we focused on disclosing the locations of factories or a living wage in Bangladesh, rather than river boat safety, drawing attention to the failure to pay attention to the local. 

War in Northern Sri Lanka: A brief respite, but not quite?

By: on 30 Jan 2009

Here at Pass The Roti, we had a self-imposed moratorium on posting while our brilliant webmaster readied the blog for some major changes. But as I readied myself for bed last night, I found I could not sleep. After some pacing, I become suddently aware that my brow is furrowed, much as it has been over the past two years, since the (most recent) war between the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) began in 2006. So I write in an attempt to unfurl some of that worry.

Satyam: Oops, Our Bad

By: on 7 Jan 2009

Hot on the heels of an article that argued that state regulation of India's financial sector stopped a similar bubble from being created in India as was created in the U.S. (though I still say the jury's out), we have yet more word from NYT that neoliberalism-as-an-actually-existing-system is not exactly a magical land of privatization fairies and anti-corruption dust sprinkled upon the ordinary investor, let alone the median-income (poor) Indian:

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