Kategoriarkiv: Indien

Indian callings and entanglements by American- Indian authors

Two writers of Indian descent but brought up in USA has captured my interest, Anand Giridharadas and Sadia Shepard.

Anand was the first IHT correspondent in India in 2004 and wrote his narrative non-fiction India calling 2011. There he tells the story of his family leaving India in 1960s due to its poverty but also its traditions, rustic partiarchial life patterns and inability to nurture dreams. Anand did the opposite in re-entering India in 2004 to write about the emerging India for the world´s largest international daily. He gave a talk at Google recently about the background of the writing. The style is close to newpapers columns and very easy to take to, but there is a depth below the surface that gives a much more complicated feeling of what it is to live in India today with your eyes open.

Sadia Shepard has a more complicated family background that gives her reason to settle back in India (Anand is Tamil-Punjabi, stange but still imaginable): American Christan father, Muslim mother with Jewish roots. Sadia wrote in 2009 her book The girl from foreign about her search for the small Jewish congregation of Beth Israel, which are said to have come to India over two thousand years ago. She is a documentary film maker which gives her a reason to find her family roots around Pune and Mumbai, travelling with her brother and other film students. She was brought up in USA not knowing that her grandmother was Jewish until her late teens and the story unfolds into a remarkable identity puzzle. The style is personal but not sentimental, keeping the tearful American kind of huge feelings at bay.

Both books give new personal insights into the Indian identity as it expands into Western culture without losing its Hindustani distinct voice. Another generation of writers of Indian heritage has emerged, totally Westernized yet loyal to the land of their families.

Annonser

The difficulty of being good and uphold dharma in the modern business world

Gurcharan Das is an Indian intellectual and businessman that makes you test your present ethical choices against the Mahbarat tradition of Krishna and the family feud of 2500 years ago. His book The difficulty of being good was an introduction to Hindu ethics for me in 2010 when I worked under his leadership at CCS, a liberal think tank in New Delhi. I was reminded of him last night and listend to an interview with him that is a good introduction. Das was CEO of Procter and Gamble in India but left early to pursue his spiritual and scholarly ambitions. Thank you.

Debating school legislation in Delhi

 Aug 10, I was moderating a discussion on teacher accountability through the Right to Education Act in New Dehli, India. I had done this last year many times as associate director of the School Choice Campaign at Centre for Civil Society, New Delhi’s best and oldest liberal think tank.

It was good to see friends again and the discussions were familiar matter to me.  Sorry to note, the well reknowed educationist Vinod Raina could not attend the discussion. He was instrumental in shaping the RTE Act. I had already interviewed him last year for the Student First Magazine, but alas could not see him this  time.

From the minutes taken by the new young SCC team:

”Chaired by Jan Sjunnesson, former Associate Director, School Choice Campaign with Surendra Nath Dubey, President of All India Awardee Teachers Association and Shashank Shukla, Teach for India Fellow, Chairman at Gurukul Education Society and member of the National Advisory Council Working Group as panelists, the discussions explored the means through which the RTE Act addresses the issue of teacher accountability and looked at possible solutions. Jan outlined the major problems in relation with teacher accountability before introducing the panelists. He summarised the principal problems in India such as the absence of teachers and the shortage of educators that the government is facing while trying to implement RTE Act. In addition he mentioned that the RTE Act is vague on the issue of teacher accountability. He commented on the lack of a direct correlation between teacher salaries and student learning outcomes in India.”

Keep up the SCC spirit guys and gals  : )

Indisk kamp mot korruptionen med fasta

Idag gick jag till den stora demonstrationen mot korruption i centrala New Delhi. Aktivisten Anna Hazare har slagits mot regeringen i veckor nu och haktats i omgangar men inte givit upp. Hans lagforslag innebar att alla tjansteman inkl riksdagsman och regeringsledamoter inkl preminarministern ska kunna atalas for korruption, nogot som idag ar svart pga deras immunitetsskydd. Han vill infora  Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizens’ ”Ombudsman”, den svenska beteckningen anvands i hela varlden!)

Anna Hazare lag pa en brits  i den gula byggnaden ovan medan 1000tals satt runt om och hade trevligt. Folk strommade till och pa eftermiddagen var 100 000tals demonstranter dar.Tal och sang avbrot varann, mat och dryck delades ut gratis och stamningen lag pa topp. Mera folkfest an politik, mera Woodstock an Norra Bantorget. Valorganiserat och trevligt med mojligheter att ordna egna demonstrationer i landet och att donera pengar, som jag.

Kampen med fasta och offentliga massdemonstrationer ska fortsatta till sista augusti 2011. Far inte Anna Hazare igenom sitt forslag kommer han stalla till med ett helvete i hela Indien sager han. En fd chauffor, 70 ar, som jamfors med Gandhi forstas dar han ligger pa en  brits och fastar. Sedan  19 aug har han inte atit nagot och har darmed tagit upp samma metod som forebilden Mahatma, den Stora Anden. Skrivet pa min huvudbonad (sk Nehru cap) star det Me Anna hu! Jag ar Anna. Vi ar Anna ! Jai Hind !!

Uppdatering via Voltaires blog 25 aug 2011

 

Indiens 65 arsdag – grattis men fortfarande bekymmersam ekonomi

Idag firar Indien sin 65:e sjalvstandighetsdag. Robert Gustafsson skriver pa Voltaire om landets historia, sa las dar om ni vill ha glada tillrop och sluta lasa har. Jag surar.

Visst vill jag gratulera  men vill i alla fall beskriva detta min andra hemland som ett land i fritt fall och utan styrsel under NPA II (2008 – 2012 regering).  Reformtakten inom ekonomi och politik efter 2004-2008 har kommit av sig. Exempelvis,  indiska progressiva valfardsekonomer talar om att mata fattigdom men gor mycket lite for att skapa forutsattningar for tillvaxt. Reformerna i denna andra regeringsperiod  har gatt i sta pga band till vanstern, regionala partier och statapparatens ovilja till forandring. Samtidigt vill man bli en supermakt men korruptionen ar ett alltfor stort hinder. Och med korruption i staten, ingen reell marknadsekonomi, ingen tillvaxt, inga pengar.

Kapitalism och liberalism ar alltsa fortfarande skallsord sedan Nehrus sjalvstandighetsforklaring 1947. Indiens Hogsta Domstol skrader inte orden utan skyller problemen med revolutionar terrorism, sk naxalism,  pa ”neoliberalismen”. Landets hogsta juridiska instans ar politisk till sin natur och foretrader socialism som finns inskriven i konstitutionen. Landet har en slags marknadsekonomi men ocksa 5 arsplaner och starka regleringar som hindrar utveckling. Landet ligger pa 124:e plats i ekonomisk frihet.

Var ”egen Indienexpert” Jan Myrdal ar inte till nytta for att utveckla ekonomin som vi vet, utan ar ogenomtankt och revolutionsromantisk i sin analys av vansterterrorismen i sin senaste bok. Patrick Frenchs nya bok India – A portait verkar dock ge mer realism ang upproren, an Myrdal.

Ska man forsta de senaste decenniernas otroliga utveckling av tillvaxtfaktorer i de fattigare landerna kan man istallet ta del av Johan Norbergs utmarkta rapport till regeringens Globaliseringsrad (2007). De 100-tals miljoner som lyfts ut fattigdom sedan 1990-talets liberaliseringar i Indien  och annorstades har marknadsekonomi att tacka, inte socialism visar Norberg. Avregleringar skapar valstand och tillvaxt sa det blir mer att fordela till de fattigare. Indiska politiker har inte orkat ta detta till sig utan tvekar. Under tiden springer Kina, Brasilien, Turkiet, Sydafrika m fl forbi.  Sura gratulationer.

 

Terrorism in India and Scandinavia

Scandinavia and India are usually very far from one another in culture, values and life styles. Looking at the  World Values Survey map we see Sweden at the extreme end (how many Swedes know that?), Norway slightly less secular and individualistic –  and then India quite  far down in traditional, survival values with little self –expression.

Still in the last weeks with Norway’s terror massacre in July 2011, our regions are afflicted by same cold terrorism. In Sweden during Christmas 2010, an attack was averted in central Stockholm, but the same logical and violent behaviour was present; calculating for years, buying tools, posting on Internet just before etc.

In India terrorism seems less rational, as when three bombs exploded this summer 2011 and no one claimed responsibility. BBC, Wall Street Journal’ India blog and our Per Andersson commented.The attacks were on the open multiculturalism of Mumbai/Bombay they claimed. Indian Muslims were  being persecuted before and now they retaliated. I am not so sure about that. There is little evidence of poverty being the cause of terrorism,  as Foregin Affairs claims.

The causes behind these attacks are of course very hard to disentangle, but two stand out for me; the ideology and the individual. Not material wealth or social structures.

Firstly: In Norway, the madman tried to link his terrorist outlook to Indian nationalism, which have been involved in their own attacks on Muslims and, most likely, in attacks that they want to pin on Muslims. The Hindu nationalist party BJP does not want further investigations in these links.

If ideology can be a cause of terrorism, and we all know that, what can be done? The ideological scenes where such views are visible must be confronted openly and fought down with arguments and actions. No dismissal anymore as almost all Swedish ddebaters want to do now after Norway’s sad event. Time to talk with the not so politically correct.

Secondly, the individuals that hold these terrorist leaning views must be surveyed and monitored. Nothing illiberal about that. All societies must defend themselves and here the last years’ heated discussions about screening the telecommunications and internet (FRA-lagen) in Sweden will have to take a second thought.

Going back to the map of values. Neither traditional nor  modern societies can be safe for madcaps and their violent ideologies. Globalization makes all fluid, flat, interdependent – including negative actions. Modern day jihadists and anti-jihadists are in a sense more open and reachable today with our networks. We must talk, convince and confront them. Even kill them yes as OBL was.

I go out  in the mad Indian traffic in South Delhi. Terrorism seems far away but the police fences by the road reminds me as I chew my breakfast of poris and tea. As in Sweden, these roadblocks are mostly useless and should be replaced by net savvy intelligence officers, an enlightened public and good psychatric outdoor facilities.