January 1, 2009

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Asian Window has moved to a new home.

And we also have a new look.

Please do update your bookmarks.

We look forward to your visits.

Have a great year!


Salman Rushdie: provoking people is in my DNA

December 31, 2008

Twenty years after the Ayatollah Khomeini called for his execution, Salman Rushdie is still alive – and still making enemies. John Preston in the Telegraph:

rushdieA car pulls up outside a Georgian house in Soho. Out steps Salman Rushdie. He’s dressed entirely in black – black overcoat, black scarf, black jacket, black sweater, trousers, shoes… The only thing not completely black is his shirt and that’s only because it’s got a few white stripes on it. He looks – actually, he looks just like a hit-man.

In his hand he carries a polythene bag full of books. When he comes upstairs, I find myself peering through the opaque plastic trying to make out the titles. One of them turns out to be the French version of his last novel, The Enchantress of Florence – now out in paperback. The book, declares Rushdie with satisfaction, has done terrifically well in France, getting ‘the sort of rave reviews you find yourself making up in the bath’.

Over here, it had a more mixed reception, but then, as Rushdie says of himself, ‘I’m not the sort of writer who ever gets five out of 10 reviews. I tend to get 11 out of 10, or minus one out of 10. That’s all right, though; it shows that people are having strong reactions.’

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End of the Kashmir Jihad

December 30, 2008

Aakar Patel in Hindustan Times:

Having predicted that Kashmiris would boycott the election, Indian liberals are now urging the government to act to resolving the Kashmir issue with some sort of geographical solution.

They are wrong.

Elections are the solution. Secular democracy is the only goal: It is what Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah wanted. Kashmiris already have that.

When elections were announced on October 19, Kashmir’s leaders thought they would fail, given the heat generated over the failed transfer of land to the Amarnath Shrine, and the Hurriyat Conference’s boycott.

Few believed the elections would be this successful: The highest polling at 69 per cent, the lowest at 55 per cent.

The communist Yusuf Tarigami said “elections were no solution to the Kashmir problem”.

The secular Yasin Malik said his group, the JKLF, would campaign actively “to boycott the elections (which) was every Kashmiri’s right”.

Sheikh Abdullah’s grandson Omar said his party, the National Conference, would contest, but he worried that “turnout would be low”.

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Men who ‘shot’ the Mumbai terrorists

December 30, 2008

Thomas Fuller in International Herald Tribune:

When the gunfire started at Mumbai’s main train station last month, Sebastian D’souza was well placed to respond. From his office directly across the street, D’souza, the photo editor of The Mumbai Mirror newspaper, grabbed his Nikon and two lenses and headed out into the blood-soaked night of Nov. 26. Peering from behind pillars and running in and out of empty train cars, he emerged with the singular iconic image of the attacks: a clear shot of one of the gunmen.

“I was shaking, but I kept shooting,” D’souza said as he scrolled through his pictures of the attacks in a recent interview at his office.

D’souza’s photo of Muhammad Ajmal Kasab confidently striding through Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus carrying an assault rife with one hand, finger extended toward the trigger, has been printed and reprinted in newspapers here and flashed daily on television screens.

Four weeks after the terrorist rampage that left more than 160 people dead, the memories of victims are blurring. Some witness accounts remain contradictory. But D’souza and another newspaper photographer, Vasant Prabhu, have millions of pixels of evidence that will remain part of the indelible record.

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India, exporter of priests, may keep them home

December 30, 2008

As families have fewer children and the Indian economy offers more career options, the West may need to look elsewhere to fill its empty pulpits. Laurie Goodstein from Aluva, India, in International Herald Tribune:

“]Students at St. Paul's Minor Seminary in the Irinjalakuda Diocese in India taking a ministry trip. [NYTimes photo]

In the sticky night air, next to a grove of mahogany trees, nearly 50 young men in madras shirts saunter back and forth along a basketball court, reciting the rosary.

They are seminarians studying to become Roman Catholic priests. Together, they send a great murmuring into the hilly village, mingling with the Muslim call to prayer and the chanting of Vedas from a Hindu temple on a nearby ridge.

Young men willing to join the priesthood are plentiful in India, unlike in the United States and Europe. Within a few miles of this seminary, called Don Bosco College, are two much larger seminaries, each with more than 400 students.

As a result, bishops trek here from the United States, Europe, Latin America and Australia looking for spare priests to fill their empty pulpits. Hundreds have been allowed to go, siphoning support from India’s widespread network of Catholic churches, schools, orphanages, missionary projects and social service programs.

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Unparliamentary expressions

December 30, 2008

India’s Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament) secretariat has published a 900-page tome that governs speech in Parliament. It lists words and phrases not allowed not only in the Indian Parliament, but also in various state legislatures as well as some parliaments of Commonwealth countries. From Mint:

The book tells you that one cannot be “ashamed” in Parliament and cannot address a lady presiding officer as “beloved”. Neither can one simply say “hello” to catch the chair or Speaker’s attention.

Among the more touchy and no-no phrases: “foreign money”, “true colours”, “for Christ’s sake”.  And some surprisingly unparliamentary expressions include expressions that are commonly used such as delusion of grandeur, clients, barbarian, common sense, fathers-in-law, joke, giggle, laugh and malpractices.

And in the din of Parliament if one suspects that the presiding officer is not listening to him, he cannot complain, “you are not listening to us”.

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The leftist and the leader

December 29, 2008

From 3quarksdaily:

ben1

An imagined conversation between Tariq Ali and Benazir Bhutto.

By Maniza Naqvi

Act I: The Leftist and the Leader:

Scene/Stage: There is a screen at the back of the stage which plays the clip, of General Zia-ul-Haq, declaring Martial Law, on July 5, 1977.

When the speech ends, two spot lights have searched, found and trained themselves on two people on the stage. Two actors playing Tariq Ali and Benazir Bhutto stand a couple of feet apart from each other. They are a young Tariq Ali, in jeans and a young Benazir Bhutto also in jeans. Tariq Ali, stands, legs apart, and grabs his head in anger and frustration. Benazir crouches—holds her head and then reaches out her arms as though reaching for someone in grief and pain.

TA: Arghhhhhhhhhhh

BB: ———Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh.

Stage darkens.

Lights go up. In the middle of the stage, there are two podiums at a short distance from one another. Tariq Ali stands at one and Benazir at the other. Benazir wears a white dupatta covering her head -and a green colored shalwar-kameez. Tariq Ali is dressed the same way as before, in jeans. They have their backs to the audience and they face two screens at the back of the stage. In the foreground there is a single chair.

The screen in front of Benazir shows one of her typical political rallies. There are massive jubilant crowds of people waving banners and chanting slogans. The screen in front of Tariq Ali shows either at a clip of a talk, or Tariq Ali leading the February 2003 anti war demonstrations.

There is the sound of people cheering and shouting her name. Her fists punch the air she makes movements that show that she is delivering an impassioned speech. There are cheers and slogans in both crowds. Benazir and Tariq Ali turn away from the screens and look at the audience and then turn around to face each other. They stand for a moment just looking at each other. Benazir adjusts her dupatta, in her characteristic way with both her hands. She moves forward away from the podium waving. A flash goes off-from a camera-then another and another. With each pop of the flash, the sound gets louder, till it segues into the sounds of explosions and gunshots.

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