Along with the choking fumes and piles of putrid waste, sound systems and a constant bombardment of honking horns from cars, lorries and screaming buses assault residents and the unprepared in towns and cities throughout India. Loudspeakers are used to spread political propaganda; celebrate and circulate expensive arranged and prolonged weddings; and, mounted outside temples and mosques, loudly proclaim the jargon of the just and the righteous path to salvation. Continue reading →
democracynow.org – As voting begins in India in the largest elections the world has ever seen, we spend the hour with Indian novelist and essayist Arundhati Roy. Nearly 815 million Indians are eligible to vote and results will be issued in May. One of India’s most famous authors — and one of its fiercest critics — Roy is out with a new book, “Capitalism: A Ghost Story,” which dives into India’s transforming political landscape and makes the case that globalized capitalism has intensified the wealth divide, racism, and environmental degradation. “This new election is going to be [about] who the corporates choose,” Roy says, “[about] who is not going to blink about deploying the Indian army against the poorest people in this country, and pushing them out to give over those lands, those rivers, those mountains, to the major mining corporations.”
A suffocating patriarchal shadow hangs over the lives of women throughout India. From all sections, castes and classes of society, women are victim of its repressive, controlling effects. Those subjected to the heaviest burden of discrimination are from the Dalit or Scheduled Castes, known in less liberal democratic times as the ’untouchables’. The name may have been banned but pervasive negative attitudes of mind remain, as do the extreme levels of abuse and servitude experienced by Dalit women. They experience multiple levels of discrimination and exploitation, much of which is barbaric, degrading, appallingly violent, and totally inhumane.
You can see it glistening in colours red, white and blue, smell its choking fumes through the fogs of ambition and greed and mac-taste its convenient food; fast and furious, no time to waste, to pause, to question and wonder. Market fundamentalism pervades all areas of contemporary civilization, has saturated every corner of the world, and created what Pope Francis recently described as the “Globalisation of Indifference”, a world in which “we have become used to the suffering of others. Continue reading →
Participation is a cornerstone of the democratic ideal. It sits alongside those other marginalized tenets: social justice, freedom and equality. Forgotten principles in a world of corporate politics driven by the quest for endless economic growth and maximum market share. Hailed as the world’s largest democracy and touted as ‘an emerging economic powerhouse’, India’s economy is beginning to cough and splutter with the rupee trading at an all time low, and the ‘current account’ showing an $88 billion deficit.
To be born poor in our world, is to be born vulnerable and in danger of exploitation of one kind or another; to be incarnated female and poor is to greatly intensify the risks. If you are born a girl to parents of tea-pickers in Assam in North Eastern India (earning as little as US $1.50 a day) there is a good chance you will be sold to a local recruitment ‘agent’ by your loved ones for around $50, he will sell you on to a city ‘employer’ for up to $800 and into a life of abuse and suffering. Continue reading →
In part two of Reality Asserts Itself, Paul Jay and Vijay Prashad discuss the limits imposed on questioning the roots of inequality and how those who own the majority of property set the terms for everyone else. Continue reading →
On the second episode of Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay, Vijay Prashad talks about growing up in India and coming to the realization that liberalism could never eliminate poverty. Continue reading →
The primary colours of any civil democracy are we would agree, social justice, freedom of expression, freedom to protest and participation. India, with a population of 1.3 billion people is regularly hailed as the largest democracy in the world. At first glance the governments pretentions to democracy would appear to be justified, after all there is, on paper at least, an independent judiciary, a free press – freely owned from top to toe by corporations – a thriving civil society and, of course, the cornerstone of any democratic state: the haloed parliamentary elections, totally funded and (therefore) fully owned, top to toe, by the same corporations that count the national and regional newspapers, radio and television networks as their own, as well as growing portfolios of natural assets; rivers, forests, water supplies, mountains (full of bauxite), and other mineral resources.
Consistent with the unjust, decaying economic model of our deficit times, the commodification of everything and everyone proceeds apace in India. The commercialisation of the land is shattering the lives of millions of India’s poorest, hungriest most malnourished people, who are being murdered and raped, violently displaced and falsely arrested as huge multi-nationals, financially favoured and militarily armed by the Indian government, ravage the land.
Ancestral land that for generations has served as home and livelihood for hundreds of thousands of indigenous people in Ethiopia is being leased out, on 99-year renewable contracts at nominal sums to foreign corporations. The land giveaway or agrarian reforms as the government would prefer to present them began in 2008 when the Ethiopian government, under the brutal suppressive Premiership of Meles Zenawi invited foreign countries/corporation to take up highly attractive deals and turn large areas of land over to industrial farming for the export of crops. Continue reading →
France’s claim of combating terrorism in Mali does not add up. Re-conquest of this former French colony and control of rich natural resources in West Africa are some of the more plausible reasons for this criminal offensive that began on 11 January.
Yet another plausible reason is to showcase the Rafale, France’s new fighter-bomber.
Upon a foundation of deep spirituality and philosophical treasures, proclaiming unity, justice and service, New India, horns honking in violation of the good; is racing, no time to spare towards the Alter of Materiality and Market Fundamentalism.
Under the careful guidance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the Indian government has for the last twenty years or so, (during which time the BBC 7/12/11[i] found “inequality has doubled”), embraced market liberalization and the global market; garlanded corporations with all manner of subsidies and damned the poor to greater poverty, destitution, suffering and, suicide in the case of farmers: Continue reading →
India has the largest number of smallholder farmers in the World, 600 million by some estimates. From this army of workers one impoverished desperate man, or indeed woman, with a noose of debt around their neck takes his or her own life on average every thirty minutes, A statistic barely comprehensible, representing the tidal wave of suicides that has swept through the farming community in the last 15 years.
In the ancient land of India, where female deities deeply revered, Kali and Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Parvati, are held high upon the alter of Hinduism, where each day thousands of Hindu’s ritually bathe in the Holy waters of the Ganges, cleansed within and without by the Goddess Ganga, women and girls; in the forests, cities, villages and towns, on buses and trains, in the street, the office, at school and in the home are being violated, abused, raped and trafficked into prostitution and domestic slavery. Continue reading →