Evaluating China’s Role in Tibet

18 03 2008


The recent protests in Tibet have again put the spotlight firmly on China and its politics. By global standards, both the violence and the Chinese Government’s efforts to control it are not unprecedented. More people die in the US colonies of Iraq and Palestine in a week than have been reported killed in Tibet over the past week by even staunchly pro-Tibet information sources. Even the information clampdown and externment of foreigners ordered by the Chinese authorities, pales in comparison to the track record of the US and its allies in media manipulation. Moreover, it is also likely that Governments and media in the US and Europe are encouraging a bigger coverage of the events in Tibet for clearly political reasons. It is easy to do this since unorganised citizen protestors facing heavily armed soldiers and armoured personnel carriers readily lends itself to heroic adulation. Read the rest of this entry »

Left Writing Pakistan’s Elections

11 03 2008


At the beginning of the new year, just a few days after the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto, this column had written about why democracy has been structurally weak in Pakistan and the threat of religious fundamentalism gaining power in Pakistan. This column had argued that the dominance of landed property, the weakness of an independent industrial capitalist class and the merging of the armed forces with the landed ruling class had created conditions where it would be near difficult for democracy to strike roots. It had further argued that this array of conditions made the likelihood of a fascist takeover of power a credible threat in the near future.

It was a gloomy prognosis to say the least and it is with undiluted glee that I have welcomed the resounding defeat of the religious fundamentalists and those political parties which were aligned to military rule. These electoral results have reverberated all over the world and have been seen as the beginning of a new chapter in the political history of Pakistan. It truly is a moment for democrats and progressive forces all over the world to savour when the people of Pakistan, braving the bombs, bullets, sundry threats and inducements of the establishment and of the fundamentalists, comprehensively voted both out. Read the rest of this entry »

The Strange Case of Patriarchal Feminism

5 03 2008


Some months ago, during the Lal Masjid standoff in Islamabad, the world was treated to sights of burka-clad women with sticks coming out to impose their version of morality on the city streets as well as to defend the Masjid from the police. In neighbouring Iran, women have been in the security forces and participate in public activities, albeit under segregation from men. Over India, a significant number of women have come out to actively work in the public sphere for militant Hindu nationalist organisations like the Durga Vahini and other such organisations. Similar examples can be found in almost every country of the world where women have become active in the public sphere on an agenda that is conservative and celebrates the traditional roles assigned to women in society. Read the rest of this entry »