Gaza Links

Sam provides a quick summary of events leading to the invasion of Gaza Strip by Israel:

Far more ominous is the suppression of information that directly affects the present conflict:

1. The ceasefire of the last 6 months was based on Israeli promises of lifting the crippling economic seige imposed since 2006, when Hamas won the elections.

Tony Kamron interviews Avrum Burg, former speaker of the Israeli legislature who takes a refreshing, introspective and long term view of what Israel has come to be:

I have very low expectations of new thinking and insight emerging from the mainstream Israeli and Jewish establishment. Their role is to maintain the status quo. Israel is bereft of forward thinking. We are experts at managing the crisis rather than finding alternatives to the crisis. In Israel you have many tanks, but not many think tanks. One of the reasons I left the Israeli politics was my growing feeling that Israel became a very efficient kingdom, but with no prophecy. Where is it going?

(link via Ve Balaji)
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Book Links

There has been a hiatus on this blog as far as books are concerned. Part of the reason is the great financial crisis that has engulfed the world capitalist system, a phenomenon that vindicated my youthful reading of Marx and communist thinkers and has consequently occupied most of the space here. Another is that immersed in another project, I have been relatively away from reading. The only book that I have been able to spend some time on is Ivan Turgenev’s ‘Fathers and Sons’ (correct translation: ‘Fathers and Children’). This time it is not so much as an unabashed reader, but as one trying to understand the narrative structure of the novel. Probably a short post on some of the key observations will follow. As of now, here are a few book related links to stuff I have been surfing.


Iceland is in the news for the wrong reasons- for the country’s total economic collapse. But Iceland is also the home to a very rich Nordic tradition in story telling, and the most famous name that comes to mind is that of Halldor Laxess, who wrote 51 novels in his lifetime, very few of them available in English. This is a review of one of his recently translated novels- the Great Weaver from Kashmir.
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Ghalib in the 21st Century and other links

Amit Basole has a fascinating series of posts analyzing Mirza Ghalib’s couplets where he not so much dissects them as use them as a starting point to pose contemporary questions, on the question of faith, for example, and what it means to be human.

One thing sometimes does lead to another. Our post on Milton and Ghalib has culminated in a partnership with the blog Mehr-i-Niimroz (the noonday sun). Every week or so we will together select a couplet from Ghalib: Mehr-i-Niimroz will provide a translation and commentary; The South Asian Idea will use the couplet to pose questions and start a discussion. The objective will be to explore how much we can learn from Ghalib about the world we live in.

Justice Markanday Katju of the Supreme Court of India explains why Urdu is part of his ancestry and offers a number of insights into the state and fate of the Urdu language in India today.
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A Murder in Asom and other links

Aruni Kashyap writes on the brutal murder of a local CPI leader by the Asom Police, an incident that by and large went unreported in the media:

Manoj Deka’s brutal murder by Asam police in the name of counter insurgency operation holds multiple shocking implications about current politics in Assam. Manoj Deka was a senior leader of the Communist Party of India, Assam and held the post of the Morigaon district CPI General Secretary. On 1st July 2008 he was stopped by the Assam police while returning home from the market and searched. He showed his bags and let him be checked. This was lead by the Officer in charge Kamal Bora and a PSO Rafikul Hussain.With the pretext of ‘searching’ the commodities bought from the market were poured down on the road and when Deka protested he was insulted, pushed with great force that he hit a nearby electric pole and fainted.

A report in Down To Earth on how one man went against the hybrid grain, and cultivated an indigenous variety of wheat that needs just one or two rounds of irrigation, as compared to six or seven required by hybrid varieties. (link via email from Rahul)

Soji Ram sowed Amrita wheat in the beginning of rabi season last year; it is a contemporary version of the indigenous Malwi strand, over 0.3-hectare (ha) last rabi season. Amrita has been developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) at its Indore wheat research station. Amrita does not need much soil preparation; what it needs is only two rounds of irrigation.

Over at the State of Nature, Girish Mishra writes on globalization’s impact on culture.

The on-going process of globalization lays great stress on technology, which implies two things, namely, “machinery and the mental habits conducive to a dead thinking.” “Examples of such thinking are everywhere. We build mechanical connections between people and we call that the” infrastructure of community. “We convert the natural world into massive data sets, and we call that “ecological understanding.” We send trillion-dollar capital flows streaming daily through the world, seeking nothing more than their own mathematical increase, and we call that ‘social development.’ This is machine thinking.

Did you know?
The first communist Speaker of Indian Parliament Somnath Chaterjee is the son of one of the founders of the Hindu Mahasabha- NC Chaterjee.

Tajmahal Ka Tender

An email alert from those good folks at IPTA, Mumbai announces the staging of the play Tajmahal ka Tender this Sunday. From its description it looks to be an entertaining one, and if you happen to be in Mumbai, might be a good idea to go and watch it over the weekend.

For the IPTA folks who might happen to be reading this post: for those like this blogger who will not be able to make it to Mumbai, much less go and watch the play, would it be too much to ask for a video recording to be available on the internet, at least some snippets?

About the play

Tajmahal Ka Tender is a very interesting portrayal of the present political and bureaucratic setup in India. The writer tries to explore the possibility of Shahjahan coming alive and giving orders to construct the Taj Mahal in today’s day and age. The bureaucratic machinery along with its infamous RED TAPE comes into action and takes the emperor for a long roller-coaster ride. Whether the Tajmahal is finally made or not, is a thing to be seen. The play is full of wit, humour and sarcasm. It provides non-stop laughter and the audience is in rip-roaring splits.

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Tamil Pulp Fiction

Mukul Kesavan in the Outlook in a superb review of an anthology of Tamil Pulp fiction, wonders why India apparently lacks popular ‘pulp’ fiction.

This has something to do with the narrowness of the social class that reads English for pleasure in India. But even within this sliver, publishers seem to aim their books at the tiny minority that’s willing to be bored witless in the name of art. The idea of fiction as guiltless diversion where the reader turns pages in search of reliable narrative pleasure, doesn’t seem to exist.

This is because all the popular fiction produced in India is published in Indian languages.

Which brings me to this anthology, a riveting collection of stories written by 10 bestselling Tamil writers. They are real professionals who make Stephen King and Barbara Cartland look like amateurs. Indra Soundar Rajan, who is represented here by a splendid story on the theme of reincarnation, has written 500 short novels. If that sounds like fiction manufactured on an industrial scale, wait till you get to Rajesh Kumar, who has published 1,250 novels and 2,000 short stories in 40 years.

Related Posts:

Tamil Dalit Poetry
Rajan Iqbal

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