Tuesday, April 30, 2002

I am posting this as a test because i just re-designed the blog. It still has some kinks in it that will hopefully be worked out soon.

Why Must Everyone "Hate" On Arundhati Roy

I was going to wait to post on this until exams are over, but after seeing Andrew Sullivan's quite immature response to Ian Buruma's scathing review entitled "The Anti-American," of Roy's new publications "Power Politics," and "The Algebra of Infinite Justice," I had to comment immediately.

"Yes, it all comes to down to ressentiment. It's true in the Middle East as well. How must those failed Arab polities feel when they look at tiny little Israel, a country that started from scratch, is minuscule in comparison in population and land-mass, and yet has left all its Arab neighbors in the dust. Talk about humiliating. And what more familiar panacea for humiliation than envy and violence? It was ever thus, and ever will be. But it doesn't make it any more defensible. Or any less pathetic."

Sullivan suggests that Roy's prose is symbolic of her resentment towards the West. I cannot say that resentment was not part of her motivation, but is it unbearable, or out of the ordinary for a writer to want to present to the world an argument that is not being promoted or given the time of day in American media? While I am not imploring everyone to agree with her, I must say this, Arundhati Roy never ceases to amaze me. Whether it is her writing on nuclear tests, globalization, the U.S. war on terrorism, or even the carnage in Gujarat, her prose is encapsulating to say the least. Of course she offers no solutions, no remedy to the problems, but what she does do, what every good writer must do, is be persuasive and eloquent in his/her arguments, and she does accomplish that task quite brilliantly.

Here is a link to another "hater," Amrit Dhillon's peace from The Spectator entitled "Dam Hypocrite"

I have a lot more to say on this, but alas, exams are calling.

Saturday, April 27, 2002

Under the Guise of Media Coverage of Terrorism

The Center for Indic Studies from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth held a briefing of sorts yesterday at the National Press Club. The premise of the talk was supposed to be Fair and Balanced coverage of terrorism in South Asia by the media. Unfortunatley, the recurring theme of many of the panelists, three of whom, really had no business discussing the media, was more an indictment of Pakistan and Muslims, rather than actual coverage of terrorism in the media. One of the panelists, Dr. Rita Frenchman, who is a medical doctor and a member of the AAPI governing body, spewed total rhetoric and propaganda in her 5 minute address. It seems that many expatirate Indian Hindu's and especially those that are Gujarati are oblivious to the fact that India is a secular country, encompassing all types of religions. Terror attacks on India are not attacks against only Hindu's, indeed Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, and Christians have all been victims of terror. At one point, Professor Romesh Diwan from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute spoke of ethnic cleansing in Pakistan during partition by comparing the numbers of Hindu's and Christians in Pakistan before and after Partition. Professer Diwan seemed oblivous to the notion that as partition forced Hindu's and many Christians to flee Pakistan for India, many Muslms fled India for Pakistan. I think he left that bit out of his logic. Despite some good remarks from Selig Harrison, who I have had as a professor during my undergrad years at GW, and Ambassador Dennis Kux, who has recently (I think 2001) published his book entitled The United States and Pakistan, 1947-2000 : Disenchanted Allies, the briefing and panelists were a disappointment and almost scary. I thank god, that all South-Asians and South-Asian Americans aren't so one-sided. Fair and Balanced was the premise, and I hope both the media, and the South Asian community can pick up some of this quality.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

More Bad News from Gujarat

It now seems that perhaps the Gujarat government had planned the violence there in efforts to purge the Muslims from Hindu areas. If this is true, then it will give merit to the attempts by expatriate Indians to get Gujarat Chief Minister Modi held for Genocide or Crimes against humanity in the International Court of Justice. According to the BBC, this internal report suggests "the violence, far from being spontaneous, was planned, possibly months in advance, carried out by an extremist Hindu organisation with the support of the state government. If true, this is quite damning not only to Modi's Gujarat government, but to that of A.B. Vajpayee as well, since he has allowed Modi to stay in power.

What is alarming to me is that the Central government has still taken no action against the VHP (World Hindu Council) or any other organization belonging to the Sangh Parivar. Nothing says more about the groups secular credentials that actually being able to enforce laws against your own sister organizations. My understanding of the 2001 Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance is that any group that undermined the integrity of India so as to act as a destabilizing force is indeed a terrorist. Well nothing has been more devastating, or distraughtful to India, then the violence that has occurred in Gujarat since the end of February. Groups like the VHP are indeed to blame, and should not be held in a higher regard than other terrorist organizations like the Jaish-e-Mohammed or Lashkar-e-Toiba, as all three, in my eyes, are terrorist organizations.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

News of the Strange and Weird

I want to delve into some of these topics a bit more, but for now (as a result of having a few final papers to complete) I am only gong to paste links to these crazy stories. I guess I will start out with news of the sick. I thought the Catholic church was in trouble, but now, i find out that shady occurences happen in nursing homes??
75-year-old man charged with impregnating 10-year-old I would think that this kind of thing gets made up in the onion, or other satirical papers, but this seems real. Talk about life imitating art.

Abercrombie and Fitch
I never liked this store, the clothes were allright, but i had trouble spending a hundred bucks on some cargo pants that you could find at JC Penney's or even the Gap for a lot cheaper. I thought they were catering to the suburban rich who wanted to imitate urban styles at rip-off prices. Now it seems they are catering to the Asian American crowd by selling T-shirts and other apparel, as the San Francisco Chronicle puts it, featuring "slanted eyes and rice-paddy hats." The surprising thing to me is that the Abercrombie and Fitch management did not think shirts with slogans like "Wong Brothers Laundry Service -- Two Wongs Can Make It White," would not be offensive to minorities, especially those of the Asian persuasion. I admit, i laughed when i first read that but i say really poor and really stupid management decision.

thanks to my homie andrew li for pointing me in the right direction.

Monday, April 15, 2002


This past weekend marked the ninth annual Bhangra Blowout competition, party, and what has happily now become the South Asian Homecoming. Started by the South Asian Society at George Washington University, BB, as it is also referred to is the largest student run event in the country, attracting over 4000 people, many of them desi's from around the country.

i will post more about this later

Friday, April 05, 2002

Angry and Ashamed, Indian Prime Minister Tours Riot-Torn State

Great story from the NYT on Indian PM Vajpayee's first trip to riot torn Gujarat .

"People were burned to death just yesterday," he said angrily. "I can't imagine such a thing. In our country the funeral pyre is used after death. But a person being burned alive is beyond my imagination. Have we forgotten our human qualities? Are we human beings? Have we become shameless?"

The rest of the country, especially the majority Hindu's, need to heed his words. All Indians should feel shameful of the way communalism has enthralled Gujarat. India is for Indians, not just Hindu's, not just Muslims, nor is it solely for Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Jews, Zoroastrians, Tribals, whatever. The Idea of India, to steal Sunil Khilnani's book tititle, is so much more than one religion. So of course PM Vajpayee's statement is long overdue and welcomed, but he has not yet done enough: he should have condemned Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and he should have banned the VHP under the <">Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance,
but I am glad that he is offering compensation to the victims and their families. I just hope it doesn't turn into a scandal, and I hope the money actually gets distributed to the people who need it.

Middle East

There really is no way to avoid this subject anymore. This past weekends attacks on Arafat's compound signifies to me, that Ariel Sharon is enacting the Plan B strategy-- to force Arafat into exile, or at least leave Israel/Occupied Territories. The official U.S. position, to not really demarche Israel on its increasing violence is almost hypocritical, but hopefully strong U.S. engagement will be beneficial to the process.

What I am curious about is, how come there is no discussion about human rights abuses by Israel, not just of the Palestinian people, but against people protesting the Isreali action. Plenty of newspapers (including the Washington Post) have been posting pictures of police beating down protestors.

I cannot stop writing on this subject either without condemning the killing by Palestinian suicide bombers of innocent Israeli's in very public places. I have heard on numerous occaisions that the ratio of killed Palestinians vs. killed Israeli's has now changed from 10 to 1 to 3 to 1. I guess what I am not so eloquently stating is that, it would be very easy for the Palestinians to shame the Israeli's into action as the numbers and capabilities between the two forces are staggering. I think it would be wise for Palestinians to begin a campaign of civil disobedience, and if persons feel so dissilusioned as to want to martyr themselves, i think, enacting Gandhi's Satyagraha-type actions in public places (which would not necessarily include self immolation), without harming innocents would make a greater statement than any suicide bombing ever could.

Here are some links
Did The Press Push Bush? howie kurtz
Chiding Arafat, But Challenging Sharon as Well a good analysis by the Post
Might is Right in the Middle East interesting analysis from the independent satyacircle's dave sidhu
India: the Ideal Peacemaker an interesting article from Tehelka.com suggesting India as the ideal peacemaker (shouldn't India first have its own internal peace?)
Bush Says U.S. Is to Assume Stronger Role in Ending Violence David Sanger from the nyt