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Posts Tagged ‘stereotypes’

In search of post-racial fiction

Elephants in the room!

Elephants in the room!

The Help has its heart in the right place, and its “White” imagining of the Black women’s voice springs from an authenticity which only a personal experience could have supplied. In a moving afterword, Stockett reveals how she never understood the silent suffering of her own Black maid until long after her death which happened when Stockett was 16.

However, the book must be accused of borrowed characterisation. Consider Aibileen who matches every stereotype one may harbour about Black people, not seeing the irony of her observation when she meets one of the White kids, now grown up, she tended to:

“And how I told him don’t drink coffee or he gone turn colored. He say he still ain’t drunk a cup of coffee and he twenty-one years old. It’s always nice seeing the kids grown up fine.”

This description, and many such, made me uncomfortable, because they play into the mythologised image of the long-suffering Black — the gentle sacrifice, the immense capacity for self-denial. Why are Blacks, unless they drive the plot, so devoid of ill will in novels about racism? How does Aibileen stand being good to the children she raises, knowing fully well that they will grow up to become dyed-in-the-wool racists? (via In search of post-racial fiction).

This observation I like. Elephants in the room! Very similar to the myth of the ‘non-violent struggle for Indian independence.’ I wonder how much this works.

When tribal women came out and take on the might of the Indian State, one thing you can be sure of! India(ns) does not believe in non-violence – at any cost. There is point beyond which, Indians will not look at the cost and price – but only the value.

Lalgarh proved that!

China is now an empire in denial – Gideon Rachman /FT.com / Columnists /

August 10, 2009 11 comments

The Soviet Union ultimately fell apart because of pressure from its different nationalities. In 1991, the USSR split up into its constituent republics.

Of course, the parallels are not exact. Ethnic Russians made up just over half the population of the USSR. The Han Chinese are over 92 per cent of the population of China. Yet Tibet and Xinjiang are exceptions. Some 90 per cent of the population of Tibet are still ethnic Tibetans. The Uighurs make up just under half the population of Xinjiang. Neither area is comfortably integrated into the rest of the country – to put it mildly. Last week’s riots in Xinjiang led to the deaths of more than 180 people, the bloodiest known civil disturbance in China since Tiananmen Square in 1989. There were also serious disturbances in Tibet just before last year’s Olympics.

In a country of more than 1.3bn people, the 2.6m in Tibet and the 20m in Xinjiang sound insignificant. But together they account for about a third of China’s land mass – and for a large proportion of its inadequate reserves of oil and gas. Just as the Russians fear Chinese influence over Siberia, so the Chinese fear that Muslim Xinjiang could drift off into Central Asia. (via FT.com / Columnists / Gideon Rachman – China is now an empire in denial).

Cheap thrills

The Western media takes great and vicarious delight in predicting such break ups. It feeds their innate (though false) sense of superiority. With Scotland wanting to breakaway, Belgium on the verge of splitting into two, Czechoslovakia split into two, Europe itself on the brink of reverting to internecine squabbles.

Chopsuey

That said, a break up of China should be no surprise.

Much like USSR’s break-up, the Chinese monolith is more fragile than apparent. Apart from the usual suspects of democracy, economic disparities, social upheavals, etc, there are 3 factors, which most Chinese analysts miss.

One, the Tibetan’s are held together by force – and no one imagines that this holding them together by force, can be in perpetuity. The Muslim provinces of Xinjiang (another one-third of China) is usually ignored. These issues are usually minimized by the current strength with which China holds these provinces together.

But possibly, the biggest issue is the share of revenues of the Chinese central governments.

Secondly, the Chinese Central Government commands less than 25% of the total tax revenues – and the 75% goes to provinces. This, possibly is why the Chinese Government cannot reduce cigarette usage in China. Most expenditures on health, education, pension, unemployment, housing etc. are borne by the local government – and hence there is patchwork of systems which run across China. Most of executions and imprisonments of bureaucrats (including the Mao’s Cultural Revolution) is to demonstrate central authority. The PLA is the only factor that keeps China together. A Chinese Lech Walesa or a Nelson Mandela could unwind China very quickly.

Significantly, and thirdly, the Chinese diaspora and Western MNCs are biggest investors in China – and also the main beneficiaries. This currently keeps resentments of the local Chinese under control – as the neighbour is not getting much richer. But at one stage the domestic Chinese will want to greater say and control over the Chinese economy. He may not be happy with just a well paying job and abundant, low quality goods.

Fences and neighbours

Modern nationalism (of the political variety) is a European construct. National boundaries have historically been ephemeral. The value of national boundaries is the ability to wage war – and disturb the boundaries of other countries.

Good fences create bad neighbours!

India Pakistan Cricket – new light or old wine …

Shadows across the playing field : 60 Years of India-Pakistan Cricket By Shashi Tharoor and Shahryar Khan

Shadows across the playing field : 60 Years of India-Pakistan Cricket By Shashi Tharoor and Shahryar Khan

Shashi Tharoor and Shahryar Khan in Shadows Across the Playing Field tries to provide answers by analysing 60 years of this intense cricketing rivalry, one, which has, on occasions superseded the intensity of the Ashes. (via something to hope for, and look forward to).

Nearly a year ago, 2ndlook wrote how Cricket administrators in India and Pakistan had managed to sustain a healthy business relationship for nearly 20 years.

This India Pakistan Cricketing relationship is very healthy – and has been managed by four people. Of course, there has been no case study, or a book or even a news report on this partnership. So some of this is my perception based on media interaction.

The four people in this complex relationship have been Jagmohan Dalmiya and Shahriyar Khan at the administration level. Between these two, they have managed a consensus between the Asian cricketing countries and South Africa. Jagmohan Dalmiya has a business background – and a career in cricket administration. Shahriyar Khan is a career diplomat and also a cricket administrator.

The other two are Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan – two well known and respected players in each of the countries. Between, these four, they have managed this complex cricketing relationship. Some of it is visible – but mostly, below the line. Especially, significant is the management of agreements.

Are things changing

This new book will probably throw some light on how this relationship was sustained and maintained – in spite of a adverse political climate and sometimes negative public opinion.

Islamic group gets online video game removed – USATODAY.com

May 11, 2009 1 comment
Gamers Hell

Gamer's Hell

An influential Islamic group branded an online video game depicting religious figures fighting each other as offensive to Muslims and Christians and successfully demanded Tuesday that it be taken offline.

In the game Faith Fighter, caricatures of Jesus, the Prophet Muhammad, Buddha, God and the Hindu god Ganesh fight each other against a backdrop of burning buildings. God attacks with bolts of lighting and pillars of fire while the turbaned Muhammad can summon a burning black meteorite. (via Islamic group gets online video game removed – USATODAY.com).

I grew up on a staple diet of these jokes – and I thought it was all harmless fun. But, then in India, jokes remain, just that – as jokes. They don’t become stereotypes, or attempts at demonization.

Australian online game encourages children to kill Muslims

But sometime back when a violent game targetted Muslims, the same religious leaders did not see the need to do anything about  – at least that I know of!

A free online game wherein a player has to kill as many Muslims as possible has sparked an uproar in Australia, with members of the community accusing the government and police of double standards in their efforts to stop the game.

Islamic Friendship Association’s president Keysar Trad wrote to the Attorney-General Robert McClelland expressing outrage over the game — ‘Muslim Massacre’– saying it teaches young people to “further hate Muslims” and encourages them to carry out “acts of discrimination, vilification or outright violence against Australian Muslims”. (from DNA – World – Online game sparks outrage among Muslims – Daily News & Analysis).

And this aint the lowest …

Things will get worse – and I am not sure when they will get better.

The West can speak from both sides of the mouth – tell Indians to respect foreign missionaries who want to convert Indians to their religion – and the West can continue with this demonization of Islam.

This is freedom – from both sides. For the West.

Breaking News – Dinosaurs Still Exist …

February 7, 2009 Leave a comment

The result will be that spurious and substandard drugs will continue to be widely sold in the market, affecting the poor the most. These drugs, which have poor brand positioning, are usually sold over the counter (sometimes even prescription drugs are so sold) by pharmacists who push them (spurious drugs) because their sale earns a hefty trade margin. State-approved drugs with less than the required efficacy, often manufactured by small-scale units, get included in state procurement programmes and form the staple of medicines distributed through the public healthcare system. No wonder that there is a widespread notion that sarkari medicines do not work and if you want medicines which will then go and buy them from private shops. (via Subir Roy: Let a hundred spurious medicines thrive – underlined text mine).

A contradiction within the same paragraph. A dinosaur who cannot differentiate between his pet peeves and propaganda – and his stereotypes.

This dinosaur alleges at the start that ‘pharmacists’ are selling spurious drugs – and at the end of the paragraph, he ends up claiming that genuine drugs can only be got at ‘private shops’!

Though he does make a good point on abdication by the Indian regulator.

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