Showing posts from March, 2009

Sri Lanka

Arundhati Roy writes in the Times of India about the massacre taking place in Sri Lanka.

The horror that is unfolding in Sri Lanka becomes possible because of the silence that surrounds it. There is almost no reporting in the mainstream
Indian media — or indeed in the international press — about what is happening there. Why this should be so is a matter of serious concern.

From the little information that is filtering through it looks as though the Sri Lankan government is using the propaganda of the ‘war on terror’ as a fig leaf to dismantle any semblance of democracy in the country, and commit unspeakable crimes against the Tamil people. Working on the principle that every Tamil is a terrorist unless he or she can prove otherwise, civilian areas, hospitals and shelters are being bombed and turned into a war zone. Reliable estimates put the number of civilians trapped at over 200,000. The Sri Lankan Army is advancing, armed with tanks and aircraft.

Meanwhile, there are official repor…

Facebook are all your friends, really your friends?

Huffington Post has an article that alternet picked up about facebooks and friendships.

I'd like to explore why social networking in general has touched a collective nerve. Do sites like Facebook stand as viable communities, and are the people on your home page "real friends?" Many of you say no. It's the brick and mortar, sit-face-to-face-and-talk that counts. Some expressed feeling leery of all the myriad new drains on time and energy with texting, tweeting, facebooking and so on. They lament the discourtesy of people constantly texting while out to dinner, or using twitter to reply to Facebook to send you an email to ask a simple question. They fear we are losing ourselves.

Yet, this prism has many sides. Plenty out there are believe these sites are solid and viable resources for maintaining connections, and the wave of the future. Some of you spoke of how you enjoy the broad networks you can manage easily, as well as nostalgic components of finding old friends and …

Dawn Johnsen- Justice department appointee

Scott Horton writes in the Daily Beast about the woman who could nail Bush about even more torture memos.

Until recently, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, often considered the “brains” of the department, has been known mostly to legal experts. But for the past eight years, it was the epicenter of allegations of political manipulation and, worse, the source of infamous memoranda on torture. In tapping Eric Holder as attorney general, President Obama has promised to restore standards of professionalism to the department. For Republicans, this is tantamount to a declaration of partisan war.

On March 19, the nomination of Indiana University law professor Dawn Johnsen to head the OLC was endorsed by the Judiciary Committee with every Republican voting against her and Sen. Arlen Spector (R-PA) abstaining. The nomination was to have been brought to the Senate floor for a vote on Monday and then again on Wednesday, but it has been held back. Republican leaders, it appears, are …

The Indians

Jabberwock reviews Sudhir Kakar's latest book, The Indians. I just finished reading it and found the book fascinating, especially the differences between Indians and Westerners.

Ask Sudhir Kakar how he feels about having been named “one of the 25 major thinkers of the world” by French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur and the psychoanalyst-writer waves his hands in a self-deprecating gesture, looks mildly embarrassed. “Oh well,” he says when pressed further, “it was nice to be one of two Indians on the list.”

This is an apposite reaction, given that one of the aspects of “Indian-ness” Kakar examines in his new book The Indians: Portrait of a People is the subsuming of individual identity to group interests. “A Westerner,” he says, “is more likely to say ‘I want to achieve this’ – whereas in India individual achievement gets tied up with family pride or, at a wider level, with community.”

A casual glance at The Indians, co-written with his wife Katarina Kakar, might suggest a collection …

Pen World Voices festival

My favourite festival in NYC starts April 25th.

Saturday, April 25

Pictures + Words: The New Literature of Graphic Narrative
2 p.m.: The Rose O’Neill Literary House, Maryland

Monday, April 27

Neil Gaiman in Conversation with Joshua Wolf Shenk
7:30 p.m.: The Prince Theater, Maryland

Meir Shalev: The State of Israeli Literature
8 p.m.: Columbia University's Altschul Auditorium

Tuesday, April 28

Resonances: Writers on the Great Works
1 p.m.: Baruch College

The Rattapallax/PEN World Voices Literary Film Feast
7 p.m.: Instituto Cervantes New York

A Thousand Deaths Plus One
7 p.m.: The Americas Society

Evolution/Revolution in European Arts and Letters
8 p.m.: State University at Albany

Wednesday, April 29

The Inspired Scientist: A Program for High School Students
10 a.m.: Instituto Cervantes New York

The Voyage of the Reader: Using Children’s Books to Create a Lifelong Love of Reading
4:30 p.m.: Instituto Cervantes

Anagrama: Celebrating 40 Years of Independent Publishing in Spain
6 p.m.: Instituto Cervantes N…

Quote from Lama Surya Das

A renowned Thai Buddhist-monk & master I once studied and meditated with named Achaan Cha said:
"Try to do everything with a mind that lets go.
If you let go a little you will have a little peace.
If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.
If you let go completely, you will know complete peace and freedom.
Your struggles with the world will have come to an end."

Quote from J. Krishnamurthy

Transformation can come only when every problem is immediately understood.

What do we mean by transformation? Surely, the cessation of all problems, cessation from conflict, confusion, and misery. If you observe, you will see that the mind is cultivating, sowing, and harvesting as a farmer cultivates, sows, and reaps. But, unlike the farmer who allows the field to lie fallow during winter, the mind never allows itself to lie fallow. As the rains, the storms, and the sunshine recreate the earth, so during that passive yet alert fallowness of the mind, there is rejuvenation, a renewal, so the mind renews itself and the problems are resolved. The problems are resolved only when they are seen clearly and swiftly.

The mind is constantly distracted, escaping, because to see a problem clearly might lead to action which might create further disturbance; and so the mind is constantly avoiding facing the problem, which only gives strength to the problem. But, when it is seen clearly without disto…

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is interviewed about the five kinds of minds needed in the 21st century. The five kinds of minds are disciplined (depth), synthesizing (breadth), creative (stretch) respectful and ethical.

LEHRER: Your most recent book argues that we need to dramatically re-think the way we think, especially when it comes to learning. What's the problem with our current models?

GARDNER: As many people have pointed out, our educational system basically prepared individuals for the 19th and 20th century. In Five Minds for the Future, I describe the kinds of minds that will be at the highest premium going forward. Although our existing models of learning are reasonably good for developing a disciplined mind, they have almost nothing to say about the synthesizing mind, though it is arguably the most important mind for the 21st century. I don’t think that any of us knows how best to cultivate the creative mind; but our current ways of thinking and teaching are excellent at quashing the cre…

Wendy Doniger

Wendy Doniger on Hindu history from a balanced perspective.

Thanks to CM for the link.

The Battle over Hindu History
For years, some Hindus have argued that the 16th century mosque called the Babri Masjid (after the Mughal emperor Babur) was built over a temple commemorating the birthplace of Rama (an avatar of the god Vishnu) in Ayodhya (the city where, according to the ancient poem called the Ramayana, Rama was born), though there is no evidence whatsoever that there has been ever a temple on that spot or that Rama was born there.
On December 6, 1992, as the police stood by and watched, leaders of the right-wing Hindu party called the BJP whipped a crowd of 200,000 into a frenzy. Shouting "Death to the Muslims!" the mob attacked Babur's mosque with sledgehammers. In the riots that followed, over a thousand people lost their lives, and many more died in reactive riots that broke out elsewhere in India. On the site today, nothing but vandalized ruins remains, and, in a dark …

Birthday Wishes

MadMomma wrote a beautiful post for her daughter's brought tears to my it and see..

My darling little baby,

As I sit to write this post, the pressure gets to me. How do I tell a two year old what she’s done to my life? Will you read this at 15 and roll your eyes in disgust? Or will you read it at 30, which is my age now, and smile fondly? Will you understand why this mad woman has been cranky and fighting with your father for days now? Will you know what it feels like for my little teeny baby to turn into a pre-schooler? I sure hope so. Its been amazing being a young mother and I hope you’ll let me be a young grandmother!! What??? Don’t roll your eyes at me young lady, I did it for your grandmother!

So much is running through my mind as I type this. You’re the baby I planned more than 15 years ago. The one I just knew I would have. The beautiful, spirited little girl who would be everything I was hoping to be and much more. And then when I was expecting the Br…

Relationships and Conflict

Ken Mcleod has a great podcast on Relationships and Conflict. According to him Conflict is the experience of resistance to change when two or more worlds interact.
The four stages of conflict are
1. Passification what is the issue, give each other space.
2. Enrichment- use a third party to help figure out the situation.
3. Magnetization-use personal energy to compel a resolution.
4. Destruction- Unilateral action that ends a relationship.

Questions we should ask when in a relationship.
1. What am i doing here?
2. Being present for and to the other person.
3. Opening up and serving whats true to our perception
4. Recieving the result and Deep listening.

Pain is the sensation and suffering is how we react to pain. One of the marks of existence is to be present and open to the pain and suffering of the other. See where the resistance is and ask yourself, do I need to resist?, what am I resisting and do I need to resist at all? See where the resistance is, and open up to the totality of experience,…

The Long March

The Long March is an excellent article giving background information about the struggle in Pakistan.

Thanks to CM for the link


The Long March is a set of upcoming protests and rallies of thousands of Pakistanis demanding the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and other judges who were deposed by Gen. Musharraf in Nov 2007. Protesters will begin marching towards the capital Islamabad on March 12th. Activists from Karachi and Quetta are expected to arrive in Lahore on the 14th, and converge on the capital by March 16th for a dharna (sit-in). This is an independent, grassroots movement for democracy led by the Pakistani lawyers movement that includes lawyers, activists, students and workers. The term “Long March” refers to Gandhi’s march against British colonialism. The Pakistani government has reacted defensively to this broad-based movement by shutting down the capital and arresting hundreds of activists. Bans on gathering are in effect in several…

Engaging the Muslim world

Juan Cole is asked 6 questions by Scott Horton about his new book Engaging the Muslim World.

Juan Cole is one of the nation’s leading historians focusing on the Middle East. Over the past decade he has emerged as a commentator on Middle East policy and a reliable source for new ideas that may enable the United States to pursue its foreign policy objectives more effectively in the region. For millions, his frequent posts at the Informed Comment blog provide a daily update on press accounts from the Islamic world, often including translations from Arabic- and Farsi-language sources in close-to-real time. His new book, Engaging the Muslim World, will be published on March 17.

1. What are the three biggest misperceptions Americans have about the global Islamic community?

Prof. Juan ColeOne: If you watch American television, you see the most extreme charges against Muslims set forth by pundits. Some allege that Muslims are inherently violent and commanded by scripture to attack infidels. In f…

Johann Hari

Johann Hari wrote this article in the Independent.

He then defended his article and the arrest of the Statesman editor, Ravi Kumar and publisher here.

Here’s how it happened. My column reported on a startling development at the United Nations. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights has always had the job of investigating governments who forcibly take the fundamental human right to free speech from their citizens with violence. But in the past year, a coalition of religious fundamentalist states have successfully fought to change her job description. Now, she has to report on “abuses of free expression” including “defamation of religions and prophets.” Instead of defending free speech, she must now oppose it.

I argued this was a symbol of how religious fundamentalists – of all stripes – have been progressively stripping away the right to freely discuss their faiths. They claim religious ideas are unique and cannot be discussed freely; instead, they must be “respected” – by which they m…

all of us xxxx


Bhagwant Singh on Connaught Place

Connaught Place, regarded as Delhi’s best-known business and shopping district, is an intrinsic part of the city’s rich heritage.

An air of expectancy pervaded the Great Royal Durbar. The occasion was a celebration to commemorate the coronation of His Majesty King George V as the Emperor of India on December 12, 1911. Whispers did the rounds that the King-Emperor would make an important announcement on the occasion, but nobody could guess what it would be. And when it came, the dramatic announcement took everyone by surprise-the capital of British India would be shifted from Calcutta to Delhi!

Work on the project began immediately after the durbar concluded. A foundation stone was hastily laid by King George V. Later, Britain’s renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens-in charge of the project-toured the area on elephant back. Lutyens felt the site was unsuitable for the Imperial capital, meant to epitomise British glory and grandeur.

So the Viceroy chose another site at Raisina Hill in so…

Sita sings the blues

Nina Paley has done a brilliant job of describing her breakup through using Indonesian puppets, the Ramayan story and set to Jazz.

SlumDog Review

Arundhati analyzes the slumdog millionaire movie.

The night before the Oscars, in India, we were re-enacting the last few scenes of Slumdog Millionaire. The ones in which vast crowds of people – poor people – who have nothing to do with the game show, gather in the thousands in their slums and shanty towns to see if Jamal Malik will win. Oh, and he did. He did. So now everyone, including the Congress Party, is taking credit for the Oscars that the film won!

The party claims that instead of India Shining it has presided over India 'Achieving'. Achieving what? In the case of Slumdog, India's greatest contribution, certainly our political parties’ greatest contribution is providing an authentic, magnificent backdrop of epic poverty, brutality and violence for an Oscar-winning film to be shot in. So now that too has become an achievement? Something to be celebrated? Something for us all to feel good about? Honestly, it's beyond farce.

And here’s the rub: Slumdog Millionaire …