Where India meets China
The changes we are seeing [in Burma] are unprecedented and represent the biggest shift in Myanmar politics since the army takeover of 1962 … And to see them as taking place because of a desire to gain more international credibility or even seeing sanctions would be to miss the point entirely. They are taking place because everyone in their right mind realises that the country has to enter the 21st century and that a military dictatorship is both unsustainable and inimical to the interests of the overwhelming majority. Politics starts at home, even in Myanmar.
But Myanmar politics has long been only about one man’s idealism against another. For years politics centred on the 1935 India Act and separation from India, then on independence, then only whether or not communism was the best way forward, and now on democracy as an ideal. Many were willing to go to prison or die for separation, for independence, for communism, for democracy. I’m not saying these things are not important. But Myanmar is a country where tens of millions of people are impoverished, in debt and without a proper
livelihood or access to the most basic healthcare. Taking an idealistic stance and fighting for principles is fine, but then I would argue that the need to practically and urgently address the needs of the country’s poorest is at least as important.
– Thant Myint-U, The Hindu
Heroes in jail
For years Pakistani cricket fans have chewed their fingernails as a game reached its conclusion, eventually pulling their hair out as their side fell agonisingly short. The Sydney Test in 2010, last year’s World T20 against Australia and this year’s World Cup semifinal provide recent examples. For fans, such losses are bearable (though often after a few hundred curses and a shattered teacup). ‘They tried their best,’ we say. ‘Win some, lose some.’ And that divine consolation: ‘There’s always next time.’
Knowing – for a fact – that the players did not actually try their best, that the loss had been pre-planned or that next time they may have more sinister plans, renders the whole enterprise a sham. We are made mugs for getting up in the middle of the night, lunatics for investing deep emotional attachment, and fools for arguing with friends in deadly comic earnestness our take on a team’s strategies.
The very reason we play and watch organised sporting contests, and have done so since the dawn of civilisation, is to express our natural urges for aggression, skill, play and wonder – in the knowledge that everyone takes it seriously, even though it’s just a game. We do our utmost to ‘kill’ the opposition – but nobody dies. What our fallen cricketers – Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir – did was to shake our approach to sport at its very foundations.
– Imran Yusuf, The Express Tribune
It was about 10:30 pm and the stretch outside Amboli Bar and Kitchen, where we had dined, was bustling with life. The nearby cafe, a regular haunt for local youths, was doing brisk business, and the doors to a political party’s office, to our right, were wide open.
After dinner, we were taking a leisurely stroll and had stopped for paan, when the goons who had harassed us a while ago returned with 17 other men, brandishing knives, bamboos and daggers. Keenan, my boyfriend, pushed me into the restaurant; he and my friend Reuben took the blows till they dropped. All the while, I kept dialling 100 on my phone, to seek help from the cops. Even when Keenan collapsed, I was still on hold. No one answered my call.
I rushed to Keenan’s side. He tried to speak but lost consciousness. His abdomen had been torn apart. We had planned our entire future together. He was building the foundations of our life together, and was about to embark to Dubai to work as a bartender. But those hopes and dreams have lost all meaning, just because some men insisted on having their way with women, and couldn’t stomach the slap that they received in return.
10:30 pm is not an unearthly hour. There are girls in this city who work in BPOs and return to their homes in the wee hours of the morning, when the streets are deserted. What will happen to them? Who will fight for them? Will those who defend women be slaughtered as well? Should no one stand up to protest what is wrong? We dined at that restaurant every week. We walked through those streets every day. But none of the restaurant employees and not one of the local security guards came forward to help us.
– Priyanka Fernandes, ndtv.com
My mother has cooked potatoes and eggs
I don’t want to eat them,
I find them bad
I will eat a piece of chicken,
with bread where yeast has risen,
even if chicken is unreasonably expensive
The Kojaks are hanging on kites.
In [Imran] Khan’s darkness, the CJ [Chief Justice] is the last light
With such hullaballoo about the extension,
the [military] chief has gone into hibernation.
Where [Mumtaz] Qadri is treated like a royal
where Ajmal Qasab is a hero most loyal
where the Mullah escaped in a veil
where Abdus Salam is a forgotten tale
My mother has cooked potatoes and eggs …
[Placard 1:] Nawaqz Sharif Bye Bye | Papa Kyani No likey you!
[Placard 2:] Free Judiciary = PPP Hanged
[Placard 3:] Tehrik-e-Insaaf = Goodlooking Jammat-e-Islami
[Placard 4:] This video is sponsored by zionists
[Placard 5:] your money + my pocket = We’re still enemies haha …
[Placard 6:] Mullah + military = Zia-ul Yuckee
White sugar is sold in black lots.
Political macaws have hit the jackpot.
Why take Backwater’s tension?
This is where attacks happen from within.
However much you roll out the dough,
It’s going to remain smaller than the stove.
Where you kill off every thief,
Who is going to check the police’s mischief?
I will eat a piece of chicken …
[Placard 7:] If you want a bullet through my head, ‘like this video’.
– Beygairat Brigade, youtube.com
Reconciliation or revenge?
The ongoing Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal serves as a terrible warning of the way in which the ideals of universal justice and accountability can be abused. It pretends to be applying universal principles – that is implicit in the name of the court – but in contrast with other recent ad-hoc tribunals, there is no external input, because none has been allowed.
I was one of three British lawyers whose help was sought by the local defense team. I was retained on behalf of Delwar Hossain Sayedee, Jamaat-e-Islami’s leading cleric, who went on trial for his life on 20 November. Although I managed to pay one visit to Dhaka last March, where I was tailed by security operatives, neither I nor any other British lawyer has been allowed to participate in the trial or enter Bangladesh while it is happening.
The Bangladesh government has made some extravagant claims on behalf of the trial. Kamrul Islam, the state minister for law, said in October that the tribunal would be ‘exemplary for the world community … working with full independence and complete neutrality.’ A fair trial would indeed have been a landmark: the court could have set an example to the developing world, showing how to end impunity while also cementing reconciliation.
But the court prosecutor, Rana Dasgupta, seems not to anticipate any real deliberation by the court. ‘One can say that 2012 is the year of the verdict of the war crimes trial and 2013 the year of verdict execution,’ he has ominously predicted. If he is proved right, the result will smack not of reconciliation but revenge.
– John Cammegh, The New York Times
Soil of the motherland
In late-October, Tibetans in Dharamsala walked on 20 tonnes of soil smuggled from Tibet by artist Tenzin Rigdol. His art installation was entitled ‘Our land, our people’.
Thank goodness we lost!
The decision taken on the island of St Kitts in the Caribbean by the Commonwealth Games authority has saved Sri Lanka billions of dollars. With an expected revenue of USD 10.2 billion and an estimated expenditure of USD 19.3 billion (more than the USD 4.1 billion that New Delhi reportedly spent in the last Commonwealth Games), the national debt would have been over USD 43.9 billion. (The requirements for the Commonwealth Games boggle one’s imagination!) It seems that the Rajapakses, along with Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal, cockier than a second-hand car dealer, were attempting to topple Greece in the international debt-crisis competition.
The interesting thing was that Governor Cabraal believed that, in reality, Sri Lanka’s suffered no defeat: Sri Lanka lost 37 votes to 45 garnered by Australia. Had we received eight more votes, it would have been tie! I wonder if General Sarath Fonseka could claim that in reality Mahinda Rajapakse never defeated him in the last presidential election. An eight percent swing of votes from Rajapakse would have made it a tie, after all! If that had happened, we would not be in this mess.
– Gamini Weerakoon, The Sunday Leader
Image: Penguin India
Penguin India withdraws The Hindus
On 11 February 2014, Penguin India decided to recall and destroy all remaining copies of Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History. The decision was part of an agreement between them and Shiksha Bachao Andolan, a Hindu campaign group that filed a case against the publishers in 2010, arguing that the book was insulting to Hindus and contained “heresies”.
From our archive:
Diwas Kc reviews The Hindus: An Alternative History. (March 2010)