vivek's blog

Call for Papers: "Postcolonial" Futures in a Not-Yet Postcolonial World (UC San Diego)

By: on 2 Dec 2007

A friend of mine at UCSD is organizing the following conference. If you know of any people who might be good to speak at this conference, especially to speak about indigenous issues in South Asia, please contact her at rashne.limki[at]


Locating the Intersections of Ethnic, Indigenous, and Postcolonial Studies


March 5-7, 2008
Ethnic Studies Department
University of California, San Diego

What About Development in Gujarat?

By: on 1 Nov 2007

This is a common refrain launched against anyone who has the audacity to bring up the Gujarat executive's complicity in the brutal killing of thousands of its own citizens. Here's an example of the rhetoric which usually accompanies it:

It is reprehensible that instead of highlighting the development of Gujarat, the media is going on and on with the stale gujarat riots, which was the spontaneous outburst to the gruesome Godhra train carnage (via Prem Panicker, who discovered this particular gem in his inbox and shared it with the rest of us).

So what about development in Gujarat? The much-touted hustle-bustle Vibrant Gujarat we see today can attribute most of its success to the liberalizing economic policies of the early 1990s. Gujarat was a little slow to join the party, but nevertheless at an aggregate level, the state showed significant gains in the 1990s compared to the previous decade. But while the annual growth in the state's gross domestic product is certainly impressive and makes for a sexy statistic, the newly generated wealth has largely skipped over what remains Gujarat's largest industry in terms of number of people employed: agriculture.

Tidbit: Tweedledee and Tweedledum

By: on 10 Oct 2007

I realize I'm late in the game on this one, but I have a fair bit of catching up to do after going AWOL for a while...

I don't have much more to say about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than that he seems to be a few apples short of an orchard, if you will, and that his mad ravings across the world probably don't reflect the views of many of those he supposedly represents, and that it's sad, because it's this crazy talk which finds its way to CNN and the like, instead of the crazy talk (in the form of a lifeless joke, possibly lost in translation) about the desire for nuclear weapons being, um, "retarded." Anyhoo, here's another joke:

Man Arrested in Chennai for Carrying... BOOKS!

By: on 4 Sep 2007

via the Sepia Mutiny news tab:

The police has arrested a man in Chennai for attempting to fly to Kuala Lumpur with 20 books.

<strike>Beshi</strike> Aaro Lajja

By: on 21 Aug 2007

Or, so I'm told, "More Shame" in Bangla...

Members of the Muslim fundoo party Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh attacked Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin last Thursday, forcing her to hide in a room while media-people fought them off. Nasrin was in Hyderabad for the release of the Telugu translation of her book, Shodh.

"I was attacked earlier too but it was never like Thursday's attack. There was no police for help because the organisers had not foreseen anything of this kind. If I have returned alive to Kolkata it is because of mediapersons who fought those men for half an hour and got injured to save me," Nasreen told IANS in her first interview after the incident at the Hyderabad Press Club on Thursday.

"I was wondering how they would kill me. Would it be with a knife or a gun! Or would they simply beat me to death. They had encircled us. After I escaped from a back door and took shelter in a room, they even broke down one of the doors. I thought I would be dead," said the 45-year-old writer (Hindustan Times).

The assailants (some of whom, incidentally, were Members of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly - yes, elected officials) were acting on a fatwa issued in 1994 in Bangladesh for Nasrin's heinous crime of having been misquoted by an Indian daily. On May 9, 1994, the Statesman of Calcutta quoted Nasrin in an interview as saying the Quran ought to be revised. In the following days, Nasrin explained publicly that this was not, in fact, what she had said, and the following rejoinder was published in the Statesman on May 11:

I would like to clarify two comments attributed to me which appeared in the interview I gave to your correspondent. I do not hold the view that "the Koran should be revised thoroughly" because I think it is impossible to revise the Koran. As I said in the interview, "anyone who proposes to bring in changes is a kafir". Why should we try to change a text which is sacred by many (wluml [pdf*])?

Despite these clarifications, her public vilification continued, and on June 10 at a public meeting Maulana Nazrul Islam announced an award of Tk 100,000 for her assassination.

Completely coincidentally (yeah, right), Nasrin's novel Lajja (meaning shame), an account of the persecution Bangladeshi Hindus faced following the destruction of the Babri Masjid in India by Hindu fundoos, had been published earlier that year. The book is a hastily-written patchwork of newspaper clippings and history lessons woven together by the story of a Hindu household of four living in Dhaka; that said, it rips hard into the state, political parties, and liberal Bangladeshi Muslims for their roles in the violence, and condemns communalism and constitutional attacks on secularism.

After the controversy surrounding Nasrin's alleged statement to the Statesman exploded in Bangladesh, the government charged Nasrin with blasphemy (BBC) and, from what I can tell, capitalized on the convenient opportunity to ban Lajja. Nasrin went into exile and has lived in Kolkata (Calcutta) for the past few years.

Rajeevnath is at it Again...

By: on 8 Aug 2007

You might have heard that Kerala director Rajeevnath is remaking Casablanca in Malayalam, and that none other than Mandira Bedi is playing Ingrid Bergman's character - as a Tamil Tiger.

A Blogging Disaster in Three Acts

By: on 8 Aug 2007

Act III: Someone finds the Asian Tribune story and posts it on the Sepia Mutiny News Tab, where it's picked up by one of the bloggers, who writes:

Manmohan Singh Won't Visit Crawford

By: on 7 Aug 2007

I realize this story is an off-shoot of the finalizing of the US-India civil nuclear deal, but here's a quick one while I work on that:

After the successful wrapping up of the civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the U.S., Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has declined U.S. President George Bush's invitation to visit his ranch later this month, said a senior U.S. diplomat who had earlier disclosed the invitation to The Hindu.

Instead, the Prime Minister was likely to meet Mr. Bush on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September, he said.

Has Anyone Seen Our Weapons of Individual Destruction?

By: on 7 Aug 2007

First, they lost lots of money in Iraq. Now, it seems they've lost lots of weapons:

The US has lost track of about 190,000 weapons issued to Iraqi security forces since the 2003 invasion, some of which will have ended up in the hands of insurgents, according to an official report published in Washington.

Shivaji Panikkar Attacked in Ahmedabad

By: on 7 Jul 2007

Background: Stop Locking Up the Wrong People.

The Sangh Parivar’s “moral police” on Friday attacked the former acting dean of the fine arts faculty of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Vadodara, Shivaji Panikkar.

Mr. Panikkar, who was the acting dean and is still leading an agitation by the university students fighting for their right to freedom of expression, was here to inaugurate a painting exhibition. It was organised by the Delhi-based voluntary organisation, Anhad, on the themes of communal harmony and unity in diversity. The paintings are a collection from school students from all over the country and a selected few are on display here.

As soon as Mr. Panikkar arrived at the venue, about 30 Parivar activists armed with lathis and stones attacked his car and damaged it. Both the driver and Mr. Panikkar received lathi blows.

They escaped serious injuries as the driver sped on the advice of Anhad convener Shabnam Hashmi (The Hindu).

The following is an excerpt from a statement from Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad, copied in full below the fold:

Mob had already broken all our festival hoardings which were outside the gate. Now they forced their entry into the compound raising slogans Modi amar rahe, desh ke gaddaron wapas jao and bharat mata ki jai ( all in Gujarati) and started breaking and vandalising the display in the compound (outside the exhibition hall) mobbed and threatened Sarup Ben, Zakia Jowher, Bina ben (from aman samudaya) and me. They used highly abusive, sexist and filthy language. Their body language and gestures were highly aggressive and vulgar. The attack on Bina , Zakia and Sarup ben was of being 'gaddars' (traitors). The attack on me was of insulting gujarati asmita being an outsider and entering Gujarat. This continued for about 20 minutes. Then suddenly a signal from one of them (which later I realized was a police man from local intelligence- who was part of the mob) that police was coming, made all of them leave suddenly.

After the police arrived, the man in plain clothes was standing with them and I went and told the police that this man was part of the mob, which they ignored and said he is from the police. Later in the police station I again showed the man to the Police Inspector Desai, but he also ignored it completely.

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