The False Promise of Multi-Polarity in International Relations

16 09 2008

 

With the collapse of the USSR and other socialist States in the late 1980s and early 1990s, multipolarity became the much sought after ideal for almost all progressives as they sought resources to counter the rampant global strides of the sole superpower, the USA. Today when a return of the former socialist States is neither possible nor perhaps even desirable, multipolarity is seen as perhaps the only option to hedge in the arrogant brutality of the US war machine. I would like to argue that multipolarity is like the “opium of the masses”, it is merely a “sigh of the oppressed creature” which provides fleeting relief in times of trouble, but like opium it is a poison which may even prove fatal in the long run. Read the rest of this entry »





The Zanjeer on Devdas

9 09 2008

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The idea for the present column first came to me after I watched (again) the 1975 Bollywood cult movie, Zanjeer.  As most would know, Zanjeer is the story of the angry-young-man-Amitabh Bachchan who is witness to the traumatic twin murders of his parents which orphans him as a child and how he takes revenge for that in his youth. Zanjeer established the hegemonic genre of “angry young man” films and put Amitabh Bachchan firmly on the road to superstardom. So domninating was this genre that it rapidly led to the eclipse of the romantic hero and forced everyone with “heroic” aspirations in Bollywood to enact “dhishoom – dhishoom” roles. In the post-Zanjeer era of Bollywood, only the angry-young-man character could deliver blockbuster hits. Exceptions like Love Story or Ram Teri Ganga Maili were precisely that – exceptions. Almost all other genres and characters were confined to niche audiences or forced to become supporting characters to the angry young man. Other hero-aspirants quickly learnt the new rules of the game and moulded themselves into similar screen personas. Read the rest of this entry »





A brief history of nagging

26 08 2008

The nagging wife is the universal villain of married life. From the earliest pages of human history there is perhaps no literature and folk tradition where the character of the nagging wife is not found widely. Along with the sacrificing mother, forsaken lover, tragic hero and evil lord, the nagging wife will be found in all societies and cultures at all times in history. Even in today’s world, irrespective of the differences of race, wealth, religion, culture, language and social reform, the character of the nagging wife is universal. She keeps popping up in jokes, films, songs, novels and other cultural cultural creations.

Socrates, the famous Greek philosopher, is supposed to have had a nagging wife who drove him to spend his time in the city squares and gymnasia, much to the benefit of philosophy. The figure of the nagging wife finds mention in the Bible, (indirectly) in the Quran and is a crucial moment in the story of the Ramayana. She is to be found in renassaince Italy, in medieval England, on the expanding border of America’s “wild west”, in the bedrooms of colonial India and in the sit-coms of post-modern Europe. Read the rest of this entry »





Lenin’s Epitaph: Lessons from the Russia – Georgia War

19 08 2008

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Now that the war between Russia and Georgia is over, it is a good time to learn a few lessons. This war holds out important lessons for all concerned – for the Georgians, for the Russians, for the Americans and NATO, for the world at large. Moreover the lessons are political, military and economic. Let us see what some of these lessons are. Read the rest of this entry »





India – US nuclear deal: a left critique

5 08 2008

The India-US nuclear deal, which faced stiff and unprecedented opposition inside the country was finally smuggled through the Indian Parliament by the ruling combine. It is quite interesting that the main opposition to this deal came from within the country and not from the international community. The passage of the deal, despite the stiff resistance from the Left in India, also marks a watershed of sorts in the political landscape of the country and will have implications well into the future. Read the rest of this entry »





Under the Nuclear Shadow: Reviewing one decade of nuclear weapons in South Asia

20 05 2008

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Ten years ago, on the occasion of the birth celebrations of India’s own prophet of peace – Gautama Buddha – the Indian State exploded nuclear warheads under the sands of Rajasthan. Pakistan responded to it in a predictably unfortunate manner by exploding a set of nuclear warheads of its own. We complete a decade of living under the nuclear shadow in the sub-continent of South Asia and it’s a good time as any to remind ourselves of what this means. Read the rest of this entry »





The Greatest Genocide in History (Part III): The Way Ahead

6 05 2008

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In the past two weeks, this column has tried to understand why is it that China and South Asia (historical India) account for a 92 million out of the 100 million “missing women” of the world. Patriarchy is common to all historical societies yet it is the civilisations of these two regions which have developed this ghastly tradition and not others. While the reasons may be numerous, it seems that there was something common in particular forms of feudal culture which developed in these two civilisations which have promoted this particularly vicious and murderous form of patriarchy. Read the rest of this entry »