Monday, December 29, 2008

A United State Of Palestine? Yes. Now.

We know no people without a land of their ancestors.

We know no people who do not share land, live with each other and share each others' culture, though their governments may not support them.

Therefore the United State of Palestine can and must became a reality during our lifetime. And our lifetime is NOW.

The Arc of Justice bends towards The United State of Palestine.

Chithra Karunakaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

29th, 2008 6:36 pm
We can out a spin on it, but the responsibility for this latest (but not last) bloodbath rests on the government of Israel.

The State of Israel is both illegitimate and unethical.

There can be no 2-state solution. There is no road map. The US has no business propping up Israel's militaristic solutions to the Palestinian Problem. This problem will not go away and it cannot reasonably be resolved unless Palestinians are accorded the Right to Return. And that means no State of Israel,as we currently know it, but instead the United State of Palestine in which Jews live peacefully, oh yes with the usual tensions, side by side, as they have done throughout history, with all the other residents of Palestine.

Israel is just about as ethically defensible as Pakistan or Saudi Arabia-- their political trajectory is different and contemporary problems appear superficially, as different but their common origin in the 20th century as ideologically constructed mono-religious states,mono-ethnic, mono-cultural nation-states, raises troubling questions about human rights that are being vigorously answered by post-colonial, liberatory multiethnic, multireligious nation-states like India, Ghana South Africa and many others. More power to them in this emerging global multipolarity.

Chithra Karunakaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
December 29, 2008 8:31 am

EthicalDemocracy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Recommended by 44 Readers
Israel Reminds Foes That It Has Teeth
New York Times copyright


Tamil Nadu Politicians Support LTTE Terror?

The election frenzy here in Tamil Nadu is providing the context for disturbing new comments by the DMA AIADMK and their adherents. Both are calling for the Centre to send Pranab Mukherjee to Sri Lanka to intervene in Sri Lanka's internal affirs and to weaken the SL govt hand in its dealing with LTTE terror.both major parties contesting the elections and their coalition partners are playing the Tamil card to capture votes.
Sri Lanka is a sovereign nation-state. India needs to butt out.

more on this later as my blog is now traveling in South Asia

Ethical Democracy and The Challenge for India's Media

Israel Strikes as India Dithers.
That was the headline in the "new' Indian Express newspaper.

more on this later

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Bigger & Better State Department Under Clinton?

NYTimes copyright

My Comment #155 on NYTimes
December 23, 2008 11:42 am


Will a bigger budget and and a more expanded role for State mean a substantive reordering of US foreign policy priorities?

It should cost LESS not more to pull out rather than continue to occupy Iraq; have Israel and the Palestinians work it out between themselves; India and Pakistan are fully capable of developing relations between their nation-states; let Afghanistan manage its own affairs, messy though they might be for some time.

And don't start any new budget-busting conflicts, please.
Defense! Defense! Does not mean going on the offense.

NYTimes readers and posters and everybody else will have to work overtime to keep this new administration focused on making the nation safe, with integrity.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

— EthicalDemocracy, New York, NY

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Shoe-ing Bush Out Of Office

Bombing is so passe. Will shoe throwing replace bombing as device du jour?

That relief is urgently needed by a weary and wary polity especially in South Asia and West Asia.

Civil society, on the path to building discursive democracy, cannot possibly accept the throwing of shoes as appropriate and effective political strategy. Instead, we can choose to talk; listen; speak out; protest peacefully non-violently; take legal action; vote; approach our elected representatives; persist and persuade; speak and perform Truth to Power until progress towards the Greater Collective Good (GCG), becomes real and enduring.

Yet, the shoe as powerful political projectile has caught the popular imagination.


Because in the faltering progress towards civil society and discursive democracy, the flung shoe has to be particularized and contextualized:

Where did the shoe-throwing occur?

By whom?

At whom?

At what event?

What was accomplished?

At a press conference, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, reportedly called the visiting US president and author of militarism against Iraq, "a dog" (a disparagement of our wonderful canine friends) before throwing both his shoes one after the other, at him. Bush displayed his reflexes by ducking them in time. The journalist was wrestled to the ground by security and is now in police custody, without an announced release date.

Most concerned persons know the answers to the above critical-thinking questions.

My immediate sense is flinging footwear is perhaps going to catch on in the US and elsewhere. Just yesterday an elderly, disgruntled subway transit rider bent down and attempted to remove his shoe for the ostensible purpose of throwing it at Metropolitan Transit Authority executives at a public hearing in my city. He was immediately removed by NYC cops.

Shoe-throwing, or at the very least, the shoe as political dissent metaphor, may become part of the idiom of resistance against seemingly intractable forces of U.S. militaristic and now criminally irresponsible financial opportunism.

How aptly ironic.

The American electorate (of which I am one but as a vigorous dissenter against US hegemony) and their elected representatives in Congress, who bear responsibility for supporting the invasion and occupation of Iraq will hopefully be joining hands, some time in the not too distant future, with their Iraqi victims.

That moment of recognition of a common humanity and common aspirations cannot come a moment too soon. The shoe is now on the other foot. Exit from Iraq, Reparations for Iraq.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Comment #36.
December 22, 2008 10:39 am

These are Two Shoes for Dignity.

We have to speak Truth to Power. Occasionally, as in this case, especially when the marauding superpower just doesn't get it, we have to perform Truth to Power.

The US has a long way to go, especially after these last eight years, before it can dare to lecture anyone, anywhere, about Democracy.

The journalist was discourteous. But the US is criminal.
Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy as Lived Practice

— EthicalDemocracy, New York, NY
by 2 Readers
NYTimes copyright

CNN copyright:

AP copyright
Iraqi shoe thrower released; says he was tortured
09/15/2009 3:46:23 AM
By HAMZA HENDAWI Associated Press Writer

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former President George W. Bush was released Tuesday after nine months in prison, and he said Iraqi security forces tortured him with beatings, whippings and electric shocks after his arrest.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi, whose stunning act of protest last December made him a hero around the Arab and Muslim worlds, said he now feared for his life and believed that U.S. intelligence agents would chase after him.

"These fearful services, the U.S. intelligence services and its affiliated services, will spare no efforts to track me as an insurgent revolutionary ... in a bid to kill me," he told a news conference at the TV station where he works.

"And here I want to warn all my relatives and people close to me that these services will use all means to trap and try to kill and liquidate me either physically, socially or professionally," he said.

The 30-year-old reporter's act of protest deeply embarrassed Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who was standing beside Bush at a Dec. 14 news conference when al-Zeidi suddenly shot up from his chair had hurled his shoes toward the podium.

Bush, who was on his final visit to Iraq as American president, was unhurt but had to duck twice to avoid being hit.

Al-Zeidi was wrestled to the ground by journalists and al-Maliki's security men.

The reporter said Tuesday that he was abused immediately after his arrest and the following day. He said he was beaten with iron bars, whipped with cords and was electrocuted in the backyard of the building in the Green Zone where the news conference was held.

"In the morning, I was left in the cold weather after they splashed me with water," he said.

He promised to reveal the names of senior officials in the Iraqi government and army who he said were involved in mistreating him.

He explained that his actions were motivated by the U.S. occupation and said that while he is now free, his country is still "held captive."

"Simply put, what incited me toward confrontation is the oppression that fell upon my people and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by placing it under its boots," he said.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blog the Nation, Blog the State

I want to discuss the narrative structure of the Blog and its objectives before I venture on how the Blog format supports unpacking the diverse, visceral meanings of PARTITION.

Unlike the pages of a book, articles in a newspaper, or the visualized narrative of a documentary, a Blog, despite its inelegant name, is a valuable, quietly discursive, you-can't-pay-me-for-it, community-building process that may be vitally necessary for our private-is-public, personal-is-political clamorous discontent. The medium is the message. So is the extended, endlessly editable, narrative moment of the Blog. The narrative moment here is 1947.

The Blog's fluid architecture permits self-discovery and exploration, no less than mindless stupidity, a private voice actively engaged with an imagined public in a public space. One may think aloud and be heard. One may think aloud and never be heard. That is no loss either to the speaker or the imagined gathering. Indeed much may be gained from speaking words that don't yet have resonance. On a blog, unheard words take a definite shape only to give way to other words in a journey of error and erasure but always in the direction of possibility.

The Blog encourages inquiring uncertainty on its way to possibility.

I have much more left to muse about the daily, nightly piecework of blogging but I don't have the words yet, even these few are written in time snatched away from students, sons, friends, kitchen, crochet, computer.

In this era of digital social networking YouTube is my virtual grandmother from whom I can learn some lost art.
In contrast, this personal-is-political Blog is my page my muse my companion, a space for fragments of truth that have yet to cohere but yet must not adhere. For truth is inconvenient, perilous, tenuous, lacking in conviction, anchored in skepticism, at the very moment that it catches a softly luminous ray of enduring light. Such a one is worth cultivating as a mentor.

In this reflective frame of heart, I thought I might embark, in my private-is-public, personal-is-political, virtual-is-real space, on the diverse meanings of Partition.

A people in a vast peninsular, dramatic, land, forever fabled, known to the rest of the world by the river where they were first (in recorded history) met by travelers from Greece. Or on a sea coast dotted by dhows, catamarans and later the vessels of Empire. Ancient, multiple, world- embracing, composite, inclusive beliefs with no name. Peoples of expansive beliefs and incessant feudal fighting, of a world danced into being. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The world is a family.>Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam An ancient warmly embracing idea with an acrid contemporary ring called globalization.

Would that were still so -- A people known mainly by their river. Indus. (H)Indus. But no. A BORDER runs though it.

Then the world danced into Being became less energetic in the face of zeal and acquisition.

Other words took precedence.

Among them, the word forever spelled by certain subcontinentals like myself with a capital P.

Curzon and 1905. Bengal. The Partition of Bengal. Did Jinnah learn nothing whatsoever from that first wound dealt by Empire? Did he not fatally accomplish what Curzon began? Was he not the pawn, the peon of Empire?

Did Jinnah hate history? He was educated therefore he could not possibly claim ignorance of the study of history. Therefore it must logically follow that he rejected the lessons of history. Was he therefore condemned to repeat it? Was he ripe for exploitation by the divide-and-rule strategy of Empire?

Did Jinnah turn his back on ethical possibility and cause irreparable harm to the common weal?

Mountbatten and 1947. First Partition then LoC.

P for Pakistan, P for Partition, P for Pure. The land of the Pure. Oh really? As my most beloved, revered freedom fighter of that tumultuous period, Maulana Azad, born in Mecca, dying in Delhi wondered, and of course I am paraphrasing, what does that make everybody else -- impure?

Everyone else forever the impure, hated Other?

Gandhi pleaded: "You can cut my body into two but please don't cut India into two."

That is a vastly different sentiment than the cruel sentiment of Partition, of severed wounding, liberatory but tragic statehood(s), harshly imagined borders congealed with the blood of innocents of every faith, occupation, aspiration who had shared the same well and had had their family differences as well as shaped each others' minds and hearts over centuries of living together.

A Cut-and-Paste Nation Becomes a Failed State 1947-2008

Was Jinnah's 'vision' murderously flawed? Who is a "Mussalman"? (see below, Cowasjee 2001). What happened to the Others, who were not? Jinnah in fact paved the way for Liaquat. Jinnah's wretched non-vision was logically elaborated in 1949. And ever logically onwards -- to Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Was his argument for divisive statehood a logical fallacy? Can division become the basis for tolerance?

How could Partition and fraternity possibly be reconciled in one breath? Isn't one relentlessly opposed to the other?

Is it any wonder that Jinnah's logical fallacy prevailed and became a living nightmare for sisters and brothers sharing blood, separated by a line spilling blood?

Did Jinnah's political ambition override humane concern he should have expressed, for the Greater Collective Good of ALL the people?

How cruelly different Jinnah was from my beloved Maulana Azad who was a critical lover of ALL the people. No wonder Gandhi called the Maulana "my conscience keeper." In fact Gandhi would have done well to have paid greater attention to the ideals of the Maulana.

Can Religion or even ethnic identity ever become the basis of a modern state where 'others' also live? Where are the Others in a so-called Islamic republic? What about their othered desires? Can Religion ignore Culture? Isn't Bangladesh the lesson that Pakistan bitterly learned, that Religion cannot trump Culture, that divided geographies cannot sustain the modern state?

Can Secularism flower when everyone else by definition, is The Other? When linguistic, ethnic, religious, sexual minorities are made faceless, voiceless, dreamless, altogether LESS?

When faith is deployed rather than devout?

My musings on Partition and the LoC are a continuing, flawed journey that began in collective memory in the last millennium. The Children of Midnight still alive are often resigned but always yearning, never daring to voice a dream of family picnics on the LoC. Perhaps their children may be the ones to dream again, spread the cloths and lay out the delicacies precisely on that selfishly imagined, yet made terrifying real, Line of Horror, Line of Tears. LoH. LoT.

Not a moment for LoL.

So it is for now, for me.
My aim in my blog is that my heart may grow in ethical possibility shaped by diverse, interdependent, ethical community.

Chithra Karunakaran
Ethical Democracy as Lived Practice
Dawn newspaper copyright

The way of Jinnah

By Ardeshir Cowasjee

Mohammad Ali Jinnah, at Lahore, October 24, 1947: "I would like to impress upon every Mussalman who has at heart the welfare and the prosperity of Pakistan, to avoid retaliation and to exercise restraint, because retaliation and violation of law and order will ultimately result in weakening the very foundations of the edifice you have cherished all these years to erect. Do your duty and have faith in God. There is no power on earth that can undo Pakistan."

Wise words of warning, that went unheeded or unheard. Jinnah's Pakistan died with him, with the death knell of September 11, 1948, and it took his talented countrymen a mere 23 years to undo what remained. By December 1971 the nation lay sundered in half.

Now, after the passage of over half a century, we have a leadership that is attempting to rebuild the country and the nation in the mould as visualized by its maker, Jinnah. Speaking to the people from Jinnah's Mazar on December 25, commemorating the 125th anniversary of his birth, President General Pervez Musharraf told them that the way forward, the way he was attempting to take them, was Jinnah's way, as defined by him. But to move forward "we will have to step very cautiously." Whatever decisions he takes, said Musharraf, are taken with Jinnah's vision of Pakistan in mind. Jinnah's vision encompassed a welfare state drawing inspiration from the tenets of true Islam, built on the foundations of democracy, with respect and protection for the individual, with equal rights for men, women and children irrespective of their religious faith or political views.

He quoted from the speech made long ago, in 1941 by the country's maker to the Punjab Muslim Students Federation :

"There are at least three main pillars which go to make a nation worthy of possessing a territory and running a government. One is education. Next, no nation and no people can ever do anything very much without making themselves economically powerful in commerce, trade and industry. And lastly, you must prepare yourselves for your defence, defence against external aggression and to maintain internal security."

In tune with Jinnah's enunciation of his creed in his never to be forgotten and always to be repeated time and time again speech of August 11 1947, Musharraf asked his countrymen to "sink all religious and sectarian differences and show tolerance of each other's beliefs, views and thoughts, to shun religious differences," as had the nation's father when addressing the members of the Constituent Assembly. Religious intolerance, said Musharraf, has utterly blurred Jinnah's vision. The nation has deviated from that vision to the extent that aside from being unable to tolerate other religions, "we refuse to accommodate the views of the various sects of our own religion. We are killing each other for differences in fiqhs and maslaks. We have undermined Islam to a level that people of the world associate it with illiteracy, backwardness, intolerance, obscurantism and militancy."

And what was it that Jinnah told his assembly members ? "You are free, free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of state. As you know, history shows that in England conditions some time ago were much worse than those prevailing in India today.

"The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some states in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state.

The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country and they went through that fire step by step. today, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist, what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the nation. Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal ".

Now, from the very beginning, from the outset, the leaders of Pakistan who have followed Jinnah have distorted his words to suit their immediate expedient self-serving purposes. This particular passage from his most important address has been subject to deliberate distortion and misinterpretation, having inspired the dishonest dogmatists who misappropriated the country after his death. In the official biography of Jinnah commissioned by the Government of Pakistan, written by Hector Bolitho and published in 1954, it was brutally bowdlerized to falsely read: " You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state. Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal ...".

We had to wait for an American, Professor Stanley Wolpert, to write what is the definitive biography of the man Jinnah as he really was - and he was commissioned by no one but himself. Yet, when the book was published in 1984 its distribution in Pakistan was proscribed because of one passage he had quoted from M C Chagla's book, 'Roses in December' which referred to Jinnah's eating and drinking preferences.

Wolpert was put under much pressure (as he reminded us when he spoke at the Aga Khan University auditorium this December 26) when the government of General Zia-ul-Haq offered to buy thousands of copies of his book were he to excise that particular passage. Of course, he refused. The amount of research Wolpert has put into his book can be gauged from the 40-odd pages of Notes and Bibliography.

Back to MAJ and February 19, 1948, when he again stressed : "But make no mistake, Pakistan is not a theocracy or anything like it. Islam demands from us the tolerance of other creeds and we welcome in closest association with us all those who of whatever creed are themselves willing and ready to play their part as true and loyal citizens of Pakistan."

As he was to say a few days later: "In any case, Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims - Hindus, Christians and Parsis. They are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.

What he tried to make clear on August 11, 1947 to the future legislators and administrators of his country is that "the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the state." He told them he would not tolerate the evils of bribery, corruption, blackmarketeering and "this great evil, the evil of nepotism and jobbery," the daily bread of powermongers. Little did he know that day that these prime evils were to become prerequisites for the survival of the politicians in and out of uniform and of the administrators of all ranks and grades for the maintenance of their power.

Musharraf admitted this on December 25 that "corruption and nepotism have eaten the nation like termites from within". He made an appeal to the so-called 'elite', the rich elite (most of them undeserving of the appellation) : "Let society treat the corrupt with contempt so that the fear of God is put into them and they at least hide and feel ashamed instead of showing off their ill-gotten riches." Yes, general, you are right. But then would Mohammad Ali Jinnah approve of your National Accountability Bureau when it makes 'deals' with the corrupt, with the robbers, and rather than extracting what it can from their ill-gotten gains, and then letting them stand trial and be sentenced and hopefully be sent to jail, it frees them, as reportedly is happening with the former chief of our Navy?

However, and whatever may happen, Jinnah's enunciated vision for his country cannot be changed, no matter how invasive the censorship and bowdlerizing of his words. If we do now have a man intent upon focusing upon that vision, and with the strength and support to see that the vision becomes reality, we should be a grateful nation.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Unpacking U.S. Hegemony via Mumbai Terror 11/26/08

In the aftermath of Mumbai's date with terror 11/26 it feels important to analyze a 60-year phenomenon -- a growing U.S. hegemony in South Asia. This process of U.S. dominance began just at the precise moment in the late 1940's (no accident of timing) that South Asia was emerging from centuries of exploitative British colonial rule. That 60+ year process in which British colonialism morphed into U.S. neoimperialism, has brought South Asians all the way to that fateful day in Mumbai last month.

11/26 still feels like today, not yet yesterday, as I write from home in New York, enroute next week to my home in Chennai, remembering my own twenty less-than-something Mumbai home of Haji Ali, Cuffe Parade and the dubbawallahs whose names I carelessly failed in my class privilege, to ask when they unfailingly brought my lunch to my desk in an office not far from VT.

Where you stand depends on where you sit. I am a U.S. citizen, I am classified as an NRI. I consistently fail to be dazzled by US hegemony. I find it abhorrent and ethically unsupportable. Indeed the US stance towards the world is in dire need of CHANGE, that charged word-of-the-moment in US, and in the Mumbai terror, South Asia contemporary geopolitics.

The NAM, the Non-Aligned Movement of newly free sovereign nation-states mainly in Africa and Asia soon found their hard won political liberation rapidly undercut by the geo-economic machinations of the World Bank and the IMF, both within the sphere of US control represented by the Federal Reserve. Nyerere's Tanzania became a debtor nation despite Nyerere's commitment to Ujamaa pan-African socialism. So did India despite Swadeshi and NAM.

The divide-and-rule strategy perfected by the colonial Brits was now given a virulently new lease of life by the neo-imperial US. across much of the Global South. The Mumbai terror attack must be framed within this larger world-system, in which the US invented the Cold War, produced and still maintains the largest number of nuclear warheads, controlled the work of the UN Security Council, satellitized a pro-Zionist Israel in West Asia (the Middle East to some) and made the world safe for Coke, not Democracy.

Last year in New Delhi US Secretary of State Condoleezza arrogantly disparaged NAM stating non-alignment has "lost its meaning".
Rice further suggested that India "move past old ways of thinking and old ways of acting." In other words, the diverse and unique historical trajectory of sovereign states struggling their way out of colonial oppression and emerging into liberatory democracy, has to be set aside to serve US strategic and market interests.

Pakistan, rendered vulnerable at the Mountbatten-engineered Partition (with the assistance of collusional, homegrown elites) particularly has felt the full impact of US meddling. That divisive meddling dates back to the Dulles era of the State Department in the Eisenhower administration with SEATO and CENTO ( both of which Pakistan became a member as an 'ally' of the US). Don't allies have to somewhat equal or equivalent? This unequal 'ally' relationship continues today, to the detriment of Pakistan.

The longstanding, invasive U.S. engagement in Afghanistan (within which Pakistan became enmeshed) is too well known to require cataloging here. Mumbai no more and no less than Islamabad or Kabul or London or Madrid or New York are global or glocal megacitities that stand at the intersection of dominant, yes hegemonic unipolarity represented by US capital and military shock and awe. The rest of the world is awakening to multipolarity and the US is still unipolar. How 20th century!

My point is not at all to externalize the terror that took our breaths away that recent November day in Mumbai. In fact my point is to affirm the need for continuing crossborder people-to-people civil society exchanges, exchanges that are made ever more difficult and divisive when Condi Rice and Mike Mullen pop in and out to "mediate" in South Asia, own "the road map" to illegal Zionist settlements in Palestine, threaten and sanction against Iran.

So long as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan don't shed their colonized, dependent mindset; allow the US to triangulate and dictate their historic and contemporary relationship; fail to look within ourselves to braid the bonds that bind us as blood-sharing kin; do not ensure that the arc of justice can bend proudly and surely towards all our peoples,
we may find ourselves continue to be restive as we cross the street in Mumbai.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blog on a Roll: Go Green & Hold the Vinegar until 2009

I began my modest Blog without a great deal of forethought. I had a vague idea that I wanted to write empirically about democracy. And, as it turns out, I began my Blog somewhat auspiciously, on Mahatma Gandhi's Birth Anniversary Observance on October 2, 2007 in Union Square Park, New York City.

On that Blog-less fall day in Manhattan I protested, alone, but not heroically, the use of Gandhi's birthdate and observance, as a subterfuge to promote sectarian divisions in India by Hindu political fundamentalist, antinationalist, antisecularist NRIs, deploying religion as a political weapon.

My protest did not incur the approval of the Indian Consul who continued to officiate the event and did not ask the self-ascribed Hindutva demonstrators to not politicize the memorial observance, to not use Gandhi's birthday to advance their pseudo-nationalist, anti-secularist agenda.

The consular officials' (there were two) passivity was not tolerance of dissent but its undemocratic, unethical opposite -- the craven acceptance, possibly even membership, in 'Hindutva' sectarianism, by India's official consular representative in New York. Ah the perils of self-serving civil service bureaucracy in emergent democracy. What were the consular bureaucrats thinking? If the BJP came to power in the next election, they would be counted as supporters?

At this Gandhi commemoration event in Manhattan, the Hindutva elements of the BJP and the RSS were advancing their agenda of anti-Muslim and Hindu supremacist ideas. What was even more surprising was that the event was actually sponsored by the Indian Consulate, New York. Speaking as a field-based postcolonial sociologist, I was once again struck, but only in a predictive sense, by the fact that government machinery of the sovereign nation-state especially abroad, could easily be usurped by vested extra state actors. (see blog entry)

Being Hindu (not so much by religion and ritual, in which I don't participate but by personal philosophy, family culture and informed inclination), a lover of Islam and its ideals and a supporter of all faiths, including and especially various indigenous pantheisms of Africa, I can see the need to stand up in the public square of ideas,(not the marketplace, as the disgraced Wolfowitz would have us believe) to challenge and dismantle such faith-state distortions of secular multiethnic democracy.

Until I got to Union Square Park that early October day, to participate in what I initially thought would be a celebratory observance of Gandhi's life and work, I didn't realize how easily the ethical ideals of democracy might be distorted and subverted by extra-state actors acting against the GCG -- Greater Collective Good
(see blog entry).

Born in the early Independence period and raised in a family that discussed politics and culture, in the world's largest and most vibrant democracy, an unprecedented post-colonial democracy with ethical origins if not current ethical practice,

I saw at first hand, in India and later in my adopted home and my geopolitical democratic context of the USA,

the importance of empirical investigation of the Question:

What is Ethical Democracy?

This is why I am hoping in the upcoming year (if not next year, same time year after next) to take my Blog on the road in South Asia. Blog on a roll. I want to find out, to learn at first hand, from ordinary people like myself, across the sovereign nation-states of South Asia, what it means to us and what effort we collectively think it will take,

to accomplish the development of a society that is consistently both free and ethical.

The above two-part construction of participatory democracy could deliver some cautionary as well as optimistic lessons, for US democracy in particular and others, as well as learn from the ones just unfolding in South Africa and continuing to unfold in Ghana.

In my research (based upon 45 years' lived experience concurrently in the US and South Asia), US democracy is many things -- originating in slavery and genocide; privileging the racialized commodified discourse of Systemic Whiteness; neo-imperial expansionism and hegemony; collusional power elites of the military, industry, politics and media (what C. Wright Mills called "power elites"); a nation-state in which the distracting, inalienable and unlimited right to shop, mainly for worthless, throwaway goods may well trump the urgent need for ethical development of global democratic participation, environmental sustainablity, economic/ social justice and health. That is my critical thinking in US hegemony on its own wavering meandering path to ethical democracy.

Growth and development, we know from empirical evidence, overlap but are NOT identical or interchangeable.

Particularly at this time, I think we recognize that the development of Ethical Democracy in South Asia

is critical to the dissemination of civil society in our regions and nation-states, as well as with our neighbors.

We are learning every day the grave dangers to the flowering of democracy in South Asia, posed by state-sponsored terrorism as well as extra-state terror actors.

Unjust and inequitable allocations of resources, the selective denial of opportunity to come to the table, within the world-system context of U.S. hegemony, may well ignite intermittent, widespread and ongoing pathological retaliation.


In conclusion, my Blog is now ready, after more than year of research and writing, to travel by foot (Gandhi's "padyatra" )and public mass transit, Go Green,

to attempt to make a breakthrough, to discover the roots (if any) of what Erik Erikson has called "ethical capacity", in the lived lives of diverse South Asian as
they, sometimes painfully, construct democracy.

Through these travels, I am hoping my Blog will morph into an Ethical Democracy Reader for use in South Asia and U.S. schools, an Ethical Democracy YouTube

Adventure in New Media for a new generation of Gandhian Swadeshi ethicists, Maulana Azad Indianists and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan Frontierists.

The Blog and its spinoffs as decribed above may perhaps be worthy of the new generation of the orphaned 2-year Moishe Holtzberg, whose heartrending wails at the funeral of his slain parents, are also my inspiration (see blog entry)
Moishe's parents, courageous and hopeful young rabbis, were slain in Nariman House Mumbai, because they were guilty of the crime of lovingly practising their faith and caring for their Chabad Lubavitch community in Mumbai, New York and Palestine.

As Yeats noted in his poem Easter 1916, one of my all time favorites since the time I was a Calcutta schoolgirl, a "terrible beauty is born" when political protest wages long and without rest. No matter how just the cause, how high the principle, the voice becomes shrill, the features become frayed, the smile becomes vinegary, loses its lustre.
That moment, in my understanding of Yeats' poetic caution, is the moment to put away the vinegar and develop in myself that feathered thing called hope (Dickinson). "Sheer plod makes plough down sillion shine" but it is (equally) the "dapple dawn-drawn" flight of "the windhover" (Hopkins)that bears watching and learning from.

In 2009, my modest Blog will I hope grow in critical humility. I want to make uncertain, meandering yet steadfast progress in expectation that the ARC of Justice may bend slowly but it will bend surely towards us all in South Asia and everywhere.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Friday, December 12, 2008

Unpacking U.S. Hegemony 11/26/08

My comment in response to Arjun Appadurai's post (see pasted below my post) from the SSRC website.

Appadurai's skilfully layered analysis (see below) completely fails to mention, much less analyze, the significance of a growing U.S. hegemony in South Asia just as the latter was emerging from centuries of British colonial rule, bringing South Asians all the way to that fateful day in Mumbai last month.

11/26 still feels like today, not yet yesterday, as I write from home in New York, enroute next week to my home in Chennai, remembering my own teenage Mumbai home of Haji Ali, Cuffe Parade and the dubbawallahs whose names I carelessly failed to ask when they unfailingly brought my lunch to my desk in an office not far from VT.

Where you stand depends on where you sit. I am an NRI and I fail to be dazzled by US hegemony.

The NAM, the Non-Aligned Movement of newly free sovereign nation-states mainly in Africa and Asia soon found their hard won political liberation rapidly undercut by the geo-economic machinations of the World Bank and the IMF, both within the sphere of US control represented by the Federal Reserve. Nyerere's Tanzania became a debtor despite his commitment to Ujamaa pan-African socialism. So did India despite Swadeshi and NAM.

The divide-and-rule strategy perfected by the colonial Brits was now given a virulently new lease of life by the neo-imperial US. across much of the Global South. The Mumbai terror attack must be framed within this larger world-system in which the US invented the Cold War, produced and still maintains the largest number of nuclear warheads, controlled the work of the UN Security Council, satellitized a pro-Zionist Israel in West Asia (the Middle East to some) and made the world safe for Coke, not Democracy.

Pakistan, rendered vulnerable at the Mountbatten-engineered Partition (with the assistance of collusional, homegrown elites) particularly has felt the full impact of US meddling. That divisive meddling dates back to the Dulles era of the State Department in the Eisenhower administration with SEATO and CENTO ( both of which Pakistan became a member as an 'ally' of the US).

The longstanding, invasive U.S. engagement in Afghanistan (within which Pakistan became enmeshed) is too well known to require cataloging here. Mumbai no more and no less than Islamabad or Kabul or London or Madrid or New York are global or glocal megacitities that stand at the intersection of dominant, yes hegemonic unipolarity represented by US capital and military shock and awe. The rest of the world is awakening to multipolarity and the US is still unipolar. How 20th century!

My point is not at all to externalize the terror that took our breaths away that recent November day in Mumbai. In fact my point is to affirm the need for continuing crossborder people-to-people civil society exchanges, exchanges that are made ever more difficult and divisive when Condi Rice and Mike Mullen pop in and out to "mediate" in South Asia, to own "the road map" to illegal Zionist settlements in Palestine, to threaten and sanction against Iran.

So long as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan do not shed their colonized, dependent mindset; allow the US to triangulate their historic and contemporary relationship; fail to look within ourselves to braid the bonds that bind us as blood-sharing kin; do not ensure that the arc of justice can bend proudly and surely towards all our peoples, we may find ourselves continue to be restive as we cross the street in Mumbai.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

================== - 31k
Is Mumbai’s resilience endlessly renewable?

posted by Arjun Appadurai:

I grew up in Bombay (now Mumbai) in the 1950s and early 1960s. I spoke Tamil with my mother, a combination of English and Tamil with my siblings and my father, and various brands of Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi with friends, domestic helpers, neighbors, bureaucrats and shopkeepers.

I studied with the Jesuits in St. Xavier’s School, in Dhobi Talao, no more than two kilometers from the Taj and the Oberoi Trident. We had the most recent reunion of the Class of 1965 at The Ritz Hotel in January 2008, only about five hundred meters from the Taj and the Oberoi. This reunion brought together a group of “old boys” near their sixtieth birthdays. They included Goan Catholics who are now engineers, hoteliers and priests; Marwari, Gujarati and Sindhi classmates who are now portly magnates or diabetic executives; Parsis and Iranis in various walks of business and commercial life; and Tamil-speakers who are about to retire from the software, medical and academic worlds. Some had come from California, some from the Persian Gulf, some from New York, many from other cities in India, a few from London. But the majority was still in Mumbai, though they now lived in places further away from South Mumbai than before. It was a riotous polyglot event, to which spouses were not invited for reasons of space and cost. A drunken set of singing, reminiscing “boys,” joking about their bald heads and big bellies, making plans to see each other again in Dubai, or Toronto, or San Francisco or perhaps Mumbai again, in another five years.

No one at the reunion talked about Hindutva, or Islamic terror, or Mumbai’s class cruelties or about the poorer members of our graduating class, who could not afford the $25 fee for the food and drinks, or were too ashamed that their lives and careers had gone nowhere. The night was a palace of memories, a requiem for our dreams of a Bombay of mixing and fixing.

In the mid 1960s, I attended a great colonial institution, Elphinstone College, the academic jewel of the University of Bombay. It is hardly a hundred meters from the Café Leopold, whose customers were butchered by the gunmen from the sea, a hundred and fifty meters from the Taj, and perhaps three hundred meters from Nariman House where Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were re-enacted in miniature. Those were magic years too, where seventeen and eighteen year old boys and girls from high schools across the city discovered Tennyson, Ionesco, calculus and joyous libidinal upticks. My college had magazines and “wallpapers” (early versions of blogs) in English, Marathi, Urdu and Gujarati, and our beloved “canteen,” a filthy little hangout, was the scene of political banter about Marx and Mao, chit-chat about the theatre of the absurd, loans of tattered copies of The Waste Land and the latest James Bond novel, as well as of feverish efforts to prepare for exams in logic, Indian history, development economics and much else. The high-end South Mumbai flaneurs among us fancied ourselves the envy of the “vernaculars” (who still were most comfortable in various Indian languages) but some of these boys and girls from humble and unglamorous backgrounds ranked first in the examinations and put the South Bombay slickers to shame. Elphinstone College was an aristocracy of the mind. We hardly knew anything about Delhi, and almost none of us had heard about St. Stephen’s College, which we only learned to envy when we met the Delhi Dons in Oxford, or Cambridge or Berkeley or New York, years later.

We lived blissfully in the cocoon of South Mumbai, roaming past the Taj, wandering through the cafes of Colaba Causeway, including Café Leopold, sneaking away from classes to the Regal cinema to watch re-runs of Rock Hudson and Doris Day, hoping for own nights of pillow talk. Our cosmopolitanism extended from Satyajit Ray to Ingmar Bergman, from Raj Kapoor to Charles Bronson, from Encounter to Photoplay, and from Bakri-Id to Diwali. I grew up thinking that Jews were a sect of Muslims and that the distance from Vohras to Bohras was no more than a typo.

Our parents also thrived in this golden period of friendships and business relationships which cut across differences of language and food, religion and neighborhood, though always restrained by the exclusions of caste and class, which we Anglophones were privileged to ignore. I left Bombay for the United States in 1967 and though I visited regularly thereafter, I soon knew that things had begun to change. The first big sign was the 1984 attack on the Golden Temple by the Indian Army, which led to a nationwide and shocking series of attacks on Sikhs, inspired in part by the regime of Indira Gandhi, who had been killed by some Sikhs among her bodyguards. This was the first major ethnic trauma of India’s still young secular democracy after Partition. Sikhs were painted as India’s enemies, in effect a fifth column of faux Hindus, Muslims in disguise. The rape, burning and brutalizing of poor Sikh populations, especially in Delhi, was the first sign that any Indian minority could henceforth be the “other” and that Hindu mobs were capable of organized bestiality on a grand scale.

The mid 1980s also saw the rise to respectability of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its sister organizations committed to Hindu nationalism, some of whom had already won their colors in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. The BJP rose to national prominence at the very same time that Rajiv Gandhi (the son of Indira Gandhi) opened up India’s markets and laid the foundations for free market competition, state capitalism and cyber-technology, even before the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In India, 1989 marked the moment when the Hindu Right became politically legitimate and launched its major nation-wide campaign of mobilization, propaganda, revisionism and violence against Muslims, which culminated in the now notorious destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, which could have been prevented by the Government had they had the will and the courage. This led to a wave of Muslim mobilizations and reactions across the country and created a powerful link in the minds of young Muslims between the devastating nature of Indian state violence in Kashmir and the growing terror against Muslim religious institutions, identities and organizations across India from the Hindu right, both official and informal.

The late 1980s, widely seen as the period when Islamic fundamentalism went global, also witnessed the birth of an aggressive global Hinduism, sponsored by traveling Hindu ascetics, youth camps, newspapers, and fund-raising campaigns that connected overseas Hindus, especially in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom to their models and teachers in India. Their message was simple: India is Hindu; all non-Hindus in India are potentially treacherous minorities; Muslims are especially dangerous because they substantially support Pakistan; and Pakistan is armed, dangerous and belligerent, especially in Kashmir. Muslim militants in Kashmir, meanwhile, linked their struggles to Palestine, Chechnya, Kabul, as well as to London, Europe and elsewhere in Asia. Today, the global Hindu Right is forcefully represented in the United States by Indian lobbying groups, pseudo-academics, cultural cover organizations and bland philanthropic para-organizations, who work assiduously to peddle soft Hindutva even as they whitewash genocide and cultural terror in India. This twenty-five year process today threatens to sneak by even the sharp eyes of President-elect Obama’s transition team.

Through the 1980s and 1990s, Indian Hindus and Muslims became globalized together. Muslims were brought together by fundamentalist messages from the radical elements of the Sunni world, by funds from Saudi Arabia to build mosques and madrassas in India, by the opportunities for smalltime Arab men from the Persian Gulf to purchase poor Muslim brides from India, and above all, by the increasing brutality of India’s military forces in Kashmir. Pakistan, meanwhile, steeply morphed into South Asia’s most dangerous failed state, provoked Muslim anger against the West in India, Afghanistan and elsewhere, helped to breed the Taliban in its Northwest provinces, hosted Al Qaeda in the late 1990s and after, and has recently discovered that it is now a hostage to Islamic terror itself.

These parallel globalizations met fatefully in Mumbai on November 26 and that too in multiple ways. Global Islam seems the easier to describe. The suspects clearly had ground support in Pakistan, quasi-official elements in Pakistan must have known of the plan, Kashmir was invoked by the lone survivor among the gunmen, and other evidence exists not only of Pakistan-based support but also of India-based human infrastructure for the attack. All this is clear, and in coming weeks the forensic wheat will be separated from the chaff.

What of the Hindu side? On the face of it, Hindus (and Muslims, Jews and Christians) were apparently just victims. But global Hindutva was also implicated, at least in two ways. First, Mumbai is the major site where global finance intersects with the major Hindu fascist party of the last 40 years, the Shiva Sena. The Shiva Sena, which began as a bunch of lumpen Marathi-speaking thugs who took advantage of the linguistic chauvinism of Marathi-speakers has grown into a forceful, protean and sustainable source of vile anti-Muslim propaganda from the 1960s until today. Second, Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, perhaps the most dangerous and persuasive BJP ideologue in India today, an aspirant for the Prime Ministership, and a remarkable blender of genocidal Hindu nationalism and soft development-speak in Gujarat, has been to Mumbai regularly in the last few years, including since the recent terrorist attack.

Not only is this a God-given opportunity for Narendra Modi, few analysts have observed that Modi’s recurrent appearances in Mumbai over the last decade and his highly publicized appearances with major Mumbai-based business leaders in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi and elsewhere remind us that Gujarat never forgave Marathi nationalists for successfully annexing Mumbai to their side after the linguistic riots of 1956. Gujarati-speakers still regard Mumbai as their city, usurped by the Maratha peasantry and the Marathi-speaking lumpenproletariat of the city. Among other things, the recent events in Mumbai are a struggle between the Indian Ocean (the Arabian Sea) and the Marathi and Gujarati hinterlands for control over Mumbai. Modi is the voice of the Gujarati jihad against the Islam of the Arabian Sea, just as Bal Thackeray is the voice of lumpen Maharashtra against its land-based enemies from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, U.P, Bihar, etc., all now telescoped into the battle against land-based Islam in India.

Atop this deep struggle, which could arguably be read back into the geo-politics of the Indian Ocean for at least the last five centuries, lie the interests of New Delhi, which sees Mumbai as a homegrown Shanghai in its aspirations for global economic stardom. In addition, Mumbai is the home of the Western Command of the Indian Navy, by far the most powerful base for Indian ships, sailors and naval strategists, all of whom have a massive presence within a few hundred meters of where the terrorist visitors landed on the night of November 26, 2009. Mumbai is also the home of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (in Chembur) perhaps 30 kilometers from the major attacks, and a key part of India’s nuclear apparatus. A vast proportion of Mumbai’s real estate is directly or indirectly controlled by the Indian Navy, the Indian Army, the Mumbai police and various other military or security agencies. Mumbai is armed to the teeth, though it is primarily seen as India’s commercial hub. This makes the terrorist attacks an amazing kick in India’s military teeth.

Last, but hardly least, Mumbai has been the cosmopolis of criminal interests in gold smuggling, arms smuggling and other forms of oceanic crime linking the Persian Gulf, Pakistan and the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra for at least a few centuries. Inland from the West Coast of India, and on the Eastern side of the hills known as the Western Ghats, Maharashtra and Gujarat have massive differences, a history of ethnolinguistic conflict and a classic struggle between elites based in commerce (Gujarat) and elites based in warfare and agrarian control (Maharashtra). But on the West Coast of India, looking out to the Persian Gulf, it’s a different story, in which smugglers, pirates, fishermen and politicians, as well as ship-owners, dhow captains, commercial brokers and policemen have seamlessly crossed the lines between coastal languages, castes, classes and ethnicities.

Mumbai is where this coastal world meets the Mumbai underworld and it has long been a meeting place between communities of Hindus and Muslims from as far afield as Tamil Nadu, Afghanistan, Goa, Konkan, Kerala, and the island world surrounding Mumbai. True, the major criminal figures who have long been involved in linking smuggling, gold, cinema and real estate in Mumbai, famously Dawood Ibrahim, have been Muslims. But beneath this religious identity lies a complex patchwork of identities and biographies that range across much of the West Coast and peninsular India. In short, the links between Mumbai, Pakistan and the Gulf are now profoundly multi-lingual and do not easily match the tensions between speakers of Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil and Hindi that constitute the land-based politics of the Shiva Sena. Thus it is not a minor matter that Dawood Ibrahim is a Muslim from the Konkan region, between Goa and Kerala on the West Coast of India.

In other words, as we learn more about the deep geo-politics behind the terrifying attacks on Mumbai earlier this month, we need to recognize that there is a tectonic struggle going on in and near Mumbai on at least three axes: the deepest axis (from a historical point of view) is the struggle between the Indian Ocean commercial/criminal nexus and the land-based nexus that stretches from Mumbai to Delhi to Kashmir. The second, more recent struggle is the struggle between political and commercial interests now located in Maharashtra and Gujarat for control over Mumbai, a struggle that was superficially resolved in 1956, when Bombay was declared the capital of the new state of Maharashtra. The third, most subtle, is between a land-based, plebeian form of Hindu nationalism, best represented by the auto-rickshaw drivers and small street vendors of North Mumbai and Greater Mumbai, who would be happy to see South Mumbai destroyed; and the more slick, market-oriented face of the Bharatiya Janata Party, whose elite supporters know that South Mumbai is crucial to the mediation of global capital to India, and where business tycoons like Mukesh Ambani are building homes larger than many global hotels.

The gunmen who struck Mumbai are probably unaware of these tectonic struggles. Those who answer the call to self-immolation in the cause of war rarely are. But the way they arrived on Mumbai’s shores, the sites of their targeted violence, the fact that they could blend into the local population a few hundred meters from the might of the Indian Navy, and the fact that they struck sites where both upper and lower class Mumbaikars rub shoulders with each others most, should give us two kinds of pause. The first is to be sure to place the politics of the world after 9/11 in various longer histories of Mumbai and its terrestrial and oceanic hinterland. The second brings me back to my fears as a child of Mumbai in its magic years.

Many well-meaning observers have stressed the “resilience”, the mutual generosity, the quotidian heroism and the remarkable resistance of Mumbaikars to jump to quick conclusions or hasty reprisals. I too congratulate and celebrate these facts. But I fear that all resilience is historically produced. And what history gives, history can take away. Yes, we are all Mumbaikars now. But in a world that links Mumbai, Kashmir, Karachi, Madrid, Peshawar, London, Wall Street, Washington and Faridkot, that is not necessarily a source of comfort. Resilience is a public resource. But, unlike terror, it is not indefinitely renewable.

Truth Serum in Terror Questioning: Satyameva Jayate with a Twist?

The police in India are reported to be planning to inject the lone captured Mumbai terrorist, Mohammad Ajmal Amir with a so-called "truth serum" sodium pentothal, to get him to talk. (btw, the Mumbai police apparently gave him the last name Kasab, which means butcher because Ajmal said under interrogation that his father was a butcher).

Of course the murderer has to be questioned. But 'truth serum" injections?

Satyameva Jayate with a twist?

I am not aware of even one scientific study, in India or anywhere else, that demonstrates confessions elicited through injections of psychoactive drugs, are more reliable and timely than information elicited through conventional, humane interrogation methods.

Shouldn't we and our elected leaders take note of the lack of scientific evidence about the efficacy of injecting psychoactive drugs into a human in interrogations?

Have the police in Mumbai administered the injections already? Is the young man 'talking' ? No one except the police can claim to have heard him say anything whatsoever. Is he talking because he was injected? Or because he fears being injected, tortured, starved, beaten? Do we, the People have to defer to the veracity of the police on this matter?

Why is the India government completely silent on this issue? What are the Centre's policies and practices in interrogating detained persons suspected of terror activities?

Is the India government being vigorously queried by the media in India or elsewhere, whether the gunman is being tortured and/or making what appears to be almost daily confessions, under duress?

No. The media is silent, instead of investigative.

I have not seen even one report in the India media that has raised questions about the physical and mental condition as well as treatment of this prisoner.

Is this ethical and humane? Should a democratic civil society remain silent when its government and its law and order apparatus reportedly use interrogation methods against a prisoner that may not be humane?

What the terrorist did was both pathological and criminal. But the responsibility of a democratic civil society and its govt is to make ethical progress in its treatment of everyone within its borders and outside of it.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

A Scientific American article follows on my topic:

Indian officials plan to inject captured Mumbai terrorist with the "truth serum," sodium pentothal, but history tells us that the technique isn't up to the task

By Brendan Borrell

INTERROGATION CHAIR: Can "truth serum" make criminals fess up?
© iStockPhoto / Stefan Klein

The baby-faced gunman of Mumbai, Azam Amir Kasab, now in the custody of Indian police, is the sole surviving attacker in the three-day rampage that began on the night of November 26 and left more than 170 people dead and scores of others injured.

After the attacks, Indian officials immediately began pointing fingers at longtime rival, Pakistan, as the source of the 10 militants—a charge that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari disputed last night on CNN. During police interrogations, Kasab himself claimed to hail from the Punjab region of Pakistan and to have trained with the Pakistan-based extremist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Of course, Kasab could be making this all up. The only way that interrogators can tap a man's memory is to ask him. But what if the person is unwilling to spill the beans or, at least, the real ones? If only there were only a way to plug a USB cable to the back of Kasab's head and just download the experiences.

While such technology may be the stuff of science fiction, Indian government officials have announced they will employ another technique that seems to leap from the pages of a 1940s pulp novel: truth serum. Also known as narcoanalysis, administering psychoactive drugs for interrogation purposes has been around for just under a century, but it has been viewed with skepticism from the start. Indeed, the practice is banned in most democracies, and evidence obtained from such an interrogation would have a hard time making it into an American court.

But could "truth serum" reliably extract the truth from this man and other criminal targets? We asked Alison Winter, a science historian at the University of Chicago, who has studied the origins and applications of truth serum.

What does the term "truth serum" mean?
That's a term that was used to describe the use of certain drugs, most commonly barbiturates like sodium amytal and sodium pentothal, to try to extract truthful statements from people about their past experiences. What the term really meant was that the people who used the serum believed that it made people unable to censor themselves and they would just empty their memories into a narrative statement.

Who discovered these effects?
In the mid-1910s, Dr. Robert House was an obstetrician who noticed that the popular obstetric anesthetic drug, scopolamine, also known as twilight sleep, would put his patients into a state where they would deliver information in a way that seemed automatic.

He didn't want to use it in interrogation, for the purpose of getting people to admit to criminal acts, so this is a quite different beginning from the association we have now. At the time, he wanted to use it to provide support for claims people made about their innocence -- not their guilt. If somebody said 'I wasn't at the crime, I was in the library but nobody saw me,' then, perhaps, this would give support for the claim, because you would think they could not lie under the drug's influence.

It was only later when other people used these drugs that they got the reputation for having the power to force people to provide information against their will.

How did they begin to be used for interrogation?
In the 1930s, there were these committees to evaluate corruption in American policing, and it first came out that police were using these drugs in interrogations to get suspects to incriminate themselves. But there's not a lot of documentation of that.

During World War II, these drugs were used in a very different way. They were the first intravenous anesthetics and were used to treat traumatized soldiers who had lost their memories or had aphasia [loss of the ability to speak or process language due to brain injury]. Doctors found that using these drugs would make it easier for people to say what happened, and this helped them feel better.

As a result, a lot of doctors who had been in the military during the war were familiar with these drugs. Sodium amytal and pentothal were no longer just used as surgical anesthetics, although that was their most common use, but they were sometimes used for this psychiatric purpose of getting people to talk. In most cases, the drugs were not used in interrogations, but to help people talk about their memories in psychiatric consultations. However, some of these military doctors eventually became consultants for police forces or they did psychiatric research for the government and began exploring different ways of using these drugs for interrogation.

Do experts believe they really work?
The idea of a "truth serum" has never been widely accepted. Although there have been waves of enthusiasm for the idea of a drug that can extract information reliably, there has been even more skepticism. Ever since the 1920s, many judges, psychiatrists, and scientists have rejected the idea that there is a drug that can get memories out intact. They have claimed, instead, that it makes people feel like talking, but it also puts them in a state of extreme suggestibility: people will pick up on cues about what questioners want to hear and repeat that back. This is one of the reasons that statements made under the influence of these drugs have never, as far as I know, been accepted in an American court.

After 9/11, there were discussions in the national papers about whether it's a good idea to interrogate suspects using these drugs. Every time there is a desperate need for information from people, you get speculation about whether these drugs are going to get that information. But you also get consistent warnings that the information may be less reliable than what you would get without the drugs. That skepticism was there right from the start 80 years ago.

Further Reading

* Terrorism database sheds light on the history of attacks in India

Thursday, December 11, 2008

State Sponsors of Terror & extra-State Terror Actors: the Challenge to Ethical Democracy

What the article below fails to note is that the U.S. is a state sponsor of terror.

So is Pakistan.

So is Saudi Arabia.

Money flows freely among these three to fund terror. It's been flowing for at least 60 years.

And as you can see China is playing a subversive balance-of-power role in the UNSC vote, by offering limited strategic support to Pakistan. While it quietly executes so-called Islamic militants, the Uighurs, Turkic Muslims, in China.

However, the US action, acting on India counterterrorism intelligence, in the UNSC while long overdue is a welcome step in the right direction.

Only when (white) Americans died in Mumbai, did the US take action against Pakistan. Corpses of color don't count in US racialized discourse, whether in Iraq or at home.

But even though the US has acted in the UN Security Council, the US will continue to contribute to terror on the ground in South Asia and West Asia because the US govt is currently a terror agent in Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and in the past, other places, Greece for example which recently had riots.

The ordinary people of Pakistan want prosperity, health and peace just like all the peoples of South Asia and West Asia (btw, I never refer to this area as the Middle East, a colonial and later US neo-imperial geopolitical construct). However the Pakistan government has been a terror pawn of the US ever since the US-led action against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

The US sponsorship of terror, at the same time as it is selectively fighting terror, will have to change fundamentally (double entendre intended), before we see any substantive progress in the so-called US-led war on terror.

Chithra KarunaKaran

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — A United Nations Security Council committee put three Pakistani leaders of the group Lashkar-e-Taiba and a Saudi operative on a terrorist watch list Wednesday as new evidence surfaced that the group blamed for the Mumbai attacks has expanded its activities and its fundraising well beyond South Asia.

A U.N. document obtained by McClatchy said that LeT has sent operatives to attack U.S. troops in Iraq, established a branch in Saudi Arabia and been raising funds in Europe. The group may also have received money from al Qaida, suggesting that it has close ties with Osama bin Laden's terrorist network based along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, the document said.

Although Pakistan's government outlawed LeT in May 2002, it "continues to operate and engage in or support terrorist activities abroad," the document said.

"Is there real concern about Lashkar trying to expand its footprint? The answer is yes," said a U.S. counterterrorism official in response to questions about the document, which the U.N. committee reviewed before voting to add the four to the watch list. He requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

U.S. intelligence officials worry that as the U.S.-led campaign against al Qaida has taken a toll on its leaders, restricted the movement of its members and curbed its financial support, bin Laden and his second-in-command, Ayman al Zawahiri, have cultivated ties with other militant Islamist groups, especially non-Arab ones such as LeT.

The U.N. document, which describes some of LeT's activities and fundraising, names LeT founder Muhammad Saeed as the group's "overall leader and chief," and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged military coordinator who was arrested by security forces on Sunday on the Pakistan-held side of the divided Kashmir region.

The U.N. Security Council al Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee also added Haji Muhammad Ashraf, whom the U.N. document calls Lashkar's finance chief, and Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahariq, whom it describes as a key propagandist who once coordinated fund-raising activities in Saudi Arabia, to the watch list.

The committee said in a statement that three of the four reside in Pakistan: Saeed, who insists that he left LeT to run a charity that the U.S. considers a LeT front organization, Lakhvi and Ashraf. It said that Bahariq is from Saudi Arabia.

Individuals and groups placed on the U.N. list are subject to international sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans. LeT was included on the list in May 2005.

The U.S. and India sought to have the U.N. designate the four as part of an crackdown on LeT, which is accused of training and sending the 10 gunmen who attacked two luxury hotels, a Jewish center, a train station and other targets during a three-day rampage earlier this month in Mumbai. More than 170 people died, including six Americans.

India also sought to have the U.N. committee include on the list Hamid Gul, a retired Pakistani Army general who headed the country's main intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, in the late 1980s. However, China, a close ally of Pakistan that has veto power on the Security Council, apparently blocked Gul's inclusion.

Gul, a harsh critic of the U.S., insists that he has no connections to any extremist groups.

The U.N. document said that Saeed plays "a key role" in LeT's operational and fundraising activities.

"In 2005, (LeT founder) Saeed determined where graduates of an LeT camp in Pakistan should be sent to fight, and personally organized the infiltration of LeT militants into Iraq during a trip to Saudi Arabia," the document said. "Saeed also arranged for an LeT operative to be sent to Europe as LeT's European fundraising coordinator."

Lakhvi, the group's alleged military coordinator, "has directed LeT operations, including in Chechnya, Bosnia, Iraq and Southeast Asia. In 2006, Lakhvi instructed LeT associates to train operatives for suicide bombings," the document said. "In 2004, Lakhvi sent operatives and funds to attack U.S. forces in Iraq, having directed an LeT operative to travel to Iraq in 2003 to assess the situation there."

The document alleged that Lakhvi has also been involved in fundraising activities, "reportedly receiving al Qaida-affiliated donations on behalf of LeT."

Ashraf has overseen Lashkar's finances since 2003, the document said. It alleged that he traveled to the Middle East to collect money and help the "Saudi Arabia-based LeT leadership with expanding its organization and increasing fundraising activities."

Bahariq was "credited with being the main financier behind the establishment of the LeT," which was founded in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, said the document. He then went on to become the group's leader in Saudi Arabia and coordinated fundraising with Saudi non-governmental groups and businessmen, it said.

"As of mid-2005, Bahaziq played a key role in LeT's propaganda and media operations," it continued.

The Mumbai attacks have fueled serious tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

The Bush administration has been pressing Islamabad to crack down on Lashkar and other extremist groups in an effort to dissuade India from launching retaliatory military strikes against Pakistan.

Washington fears that Indian retaliation could spark a fourth Indo-Pakistan war that would free al Qaida and other Islamic militant groups to intensify their insurgency in Afghanistan.


Read the press release of the U.N. Security Council al Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee


U.S. forces mistakenly kill 6 Afghan policemen

India says Pakistan must sustain resolve

Pakistan has made start but must do more

Video Report: Pakistan under pressure over terrorists
McClatchy Newspapers 2008

U.S. Secretary of Hunger & Food Justice?

My published comment,` #36:

December 11th, 2008 5:34 am

Why not a Secretary of Hunger & Food Justice?

Tell it like it is. That way US foodways would be linked to the world which is what we need in our collective, globalized, interdependent lives.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

— EthicalDemocracy, New York, NY

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Answering Challenges to Processes of Ethical Democracy

This comment was posted on Bill Moyers' Journal comments page today, in response to my post there on Ethical vs. Strategic interests in making and maintaining democracy and the importance of aligning them, as vital to expanding Ethical Democracy civil society processes within and across nation-states.

Stanley Wrzyszczynski (see below) has speciously elected to mis-characterize my core ETHICAL point, namely that the SOVEREIGN nation-states, even failed or failing states, of the South Asia region have the right to conduct relationships among themselves, without the self-serving interference of a hegemonic capital-driven aggressive and invading superpower. Therefore, my point about ETHICAL geopolitical interests vs. the above-described US geopolitical stance is NOT, as SW disparagingly notes, "nationalistic" (what's wrong with that anyway?), but I am arguing on ethical grounds, for an intra-regional, neighborly approach among South Asia nations. Neighbors have mutually overlapping interests. India, Pakistan and Afghanistan are neighbors. Iran and Russia are neighbors are also neighbors. The US is not.

SW, What would you advocate? U.S.-directed Pan-Zionism for our South Asia region? That prescription has disastrous consequences in West Asia (to us), Middle East to you!

And also as usual, we need to be guided by the enlightened and progressive US how to treat women in our countries, as your additional gratuitous comment seems to imply. This is absurd paternalism.

[Please note I don't reply to posts to my post on any site in which I participate. Instead I post my replies to your comments right here on my own Blog].

Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran
City University of New York
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

FROM: Stanley Wrzyszczynski

Chitra KarunaKaran,
What you say cannot be disputed. In the absence of US imperialism, do you believe other mega rich nation states will not intervene (such as China, Russia, the EU, etc.)? Alas, you elide certain aspects that are “strategically” left unmentioned; internal factional violence runs concurrent with imperial hegemony (Shi ite /Sunni, Hindu/Moslem, Kurds/nearly everyone else, etc.). This is not unusual within the context. The disappearance of imperial hegemony will not eliminate these, for this animosity pre- exists any imperial presence. What you ascribe to imperial hegemony may have more to do with the wonderfully clichéd “globalization.” The interdependence and inter-effecting of all areas of the world with each other through electronic technologies and immediate communications (for transfer of goods and services) may be masked by what you ascribe as imperial hegemony. Most agree that the imperial hegemony of the US, like the British before, is on the wane. Yet the rise of immediate access to goods, information, cultural influences, climate change, education, armaments, etc. due to “globalization” continues and increases. This underlying reason for the vehement animosity may be displaced by what you describe as imperial hegemony. After all, keeping women barefoot and pregnant is a lot easier to do if they are not privileged to know what other women in the world can be or do. Much of the restlessness is on account of access to what previously was denied. Cell phones originally were designed for easy and readily available communication, not as triggering mechanisms for roadside bombs. The nationalistic solution to the strife, that you advocate, is a bit outdated and inadequate, some would say even reactionary.
Posted by: stanley wrzyszczynski | December 7, 2008 10:15 AM

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ethical Concerns vs. Strategic Interests: The US in South Asia

The U.S. political system, in which all discourses (including my blog), are commodified and branded, has a core problem. This commodified political/economic system is UNABLE TO ALIGN its strategic interests with its ETHICAL interests.

US history has demonstrated that this govt and her people have ethical interests. That is a very good thing. However, ethical concerns are nearly always overturned by perceived US strategic interests.

I will highlight the South Asia case as an example:

1. The US has no ETHICAL interest in India or Pakistan or Afghanistan.

2. The US is primarily interested in advancing what the US considers its own narrowly defined, completely self-interested strategic interest in the subcontinental region.
This strategic interest of the US does NOT coincide with the strategic, intra-regional or domestic interests of Pakistan, India or Afghanistan each of whom have mutually overlapping ethical and strategic interests, which are not shared by the US.

3. The US strategic interest benefits from a compliant India, weak Pakistan and weak Afghanistan, ALL of whom can then serve as a base for US ground and air intelligence operations.
India's alleged "belligerence" against Pakistan, serves the US strategic interest, because the US can then continue to maintain an ostensibly mediating strategic presence on the ground in the region, as well as have a hold on the Security Council in the UN and other intergovernmental agencies, on the question of peace and stability in South Asia.

4. The US strategic interest is part of a longterm, but not necessarily consistent or well-reasoned policy strategy, which began in the State Department of the Eisenhower administration, under Secretary of State John Foster Dulles(1953-1959) with the creation of SEATO and CENTO, to counteract NAM -- The Non Aligned Movement, an historic alliance of formerly colonized and therefore oppressed, newly liberatory sovereign nation-states of Africa, Asia and Latin America, with rich natural resources.

5. The US strategic interest in South Asia is to maintain a dominant presence in the region to counteract the influence of Russia and now Iran, on the Western sector adjoining the South Asia region.

6. The US strategic interest in South Asia is to maintain a dominant presence in the region to counteract the influence of China on the Eastern sector adjoining the South Asia region.

7. The satellitization by the US of Pakistan and now Afghanistan is consistent with and linked to the US strategic interest in West Asia, where Israel has been voluntarily satellitized, to confound and impede stability, peace, civil society development and democracy in West Asia (constructed as "The Middle East" first by imperial Britain and now by the neo-imperial US). Middle of What? East of Where? The intentional construction of the Middle East as a non-place serves the US strategic interest, just as in the period of U.S. slavery and plantation economy, the construction of the slave as Negro, made him/her a non-person without a place.

8. Ethical Democracy in South Asia is best advanced by mutual collaboration among India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and all other sovereign nation-states of the South Asia geopolitical region.
People-to-people crossborder civil society development exchanges are a vital strategy for the accomplishment of this objective.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Precious Child, A Community in Mumbai and New York

Recently I wrote a comment to the pages of in response to an article on the terror murders at Nariman House, Mumbai

My comment:

Nariman House Will Rise Again
The heartrending sobs of little Moishe Holtzberg at the funeral ceremony of his slain parents (whose only crime was to love their faith, their family and their community) should be enough to silence the terrorists.

Sadly it will not be so. I have made a modest donation to support Chabad Lubavitch Nariman House in my beloved city of Mumbai, a city that has given so much, suffered so much and has the gritty courage to continue.

That precious child is my inspiration. Ethical Democracy starts and keeps going, with the least among us, the most vulnerable among us.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

The Beginning of the End of U.S. Unipolarity and Exceptionalism?
Gloom But Not Doom
NYTimes unsigned Editorial
Published: December 3, 2008
My Commment: #49.
December 04, 2008 9:52 am


December 4, 2008 1:30 am
"Dreaded multipolarity?" The New York Times "dreads" many and diverse faces and voices at the table of the 21st century?

The writer(s) of this editorial confound cause with consequence (example coercive power, greedy consumption, unrelenting meddling can ignite pathological retaliation) and the writers fail to recognize that US supremacist unipolarity and exceptionalism are the root cause of much dissent and suffering across geopolitical regions and within sovereign nation-states.

The NYTimes editorial concludes:
Their (NIC) report on the concept states that “leadership is not an entitlement; it has to be earned and sustained. Leadership that serves common goals is the best way to inspire the many different peoples of the world to make shared commitments.” That is a good place to start.

But this conclusion reiterates what has gone before, instead of repudiating U.S. exceptionalism. The US continues to see itself as a pre-emptive leader instead of engaging in empathic consensus for the Greater Collective Good. Does the rest of the world need to be "inspired" by the U.S. sitting at the head of the table, or can we project the possibility that even the least of individuals, groups and nation-states can get their fair share when they come/are allowed at the table?

In fact, the beginning of the end of the "dreaded" unipolarity of US exceptionalism is cause for cautious celebration and audacious hope.

Are we there there yet?

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy as Lived Practice

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ordinary Indians, Ordinary Pakistanis & Ethical Democracy

Calling All Pakistanis

Published: December 2, 2008

See my comment #92
Dear Mr. Friedman:
It is regrettable that you describe the BJP as "nationalist."
Is it "nationalist" to divide and even conduct pogroms against communities, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, even immigrants into Mumbai, from other Indian states, who share subcontinental history and tradition? No, the BJP and its affiliate the RSS (whose member assassinated Gandhi) pose a grave domestic threat to Indian democracy. No they claim to be nationalists and you are buying into their self-promotion by ascribing nationalist aspiration to them. Deeds speak louder than words.

On your major point about the need for ethical protest by ordinary persons, I agree with you. But I would not put the onus only on the ordinary persons of Pakistan, as you do.

Perhaps the U.S. State Department could use some ethical introspection for its meddling in Pakistan since the Dulles era?

Ordinary Indians including myself have responsibility in maintaining our unprecedented democracy. Ordinary Indians must persevere in rejecting the BJP and other divisive political elements. Ordinary Indians must speak out against Indian army atrocities in Kashmir.

The heartrending wails of little Moishe Holtzberg at the funeral ceremony of his slain parents (whose only crime was that they cherished their faith their family and and their community), should be enough to soften ALL our words and our actions at every step in the current tragic situation.

Sadly, it will not. But we can work towards such an ethical moment in South Asia.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

A pro-Zionist Dream Team for Obama?

A team of Whizzes by Bob Herbert

Let me predict that the NYTimes will censor my comment and fail to publish it.

December 02, 2008 12:45 am
Do you detect a pro-Zionist subtext to Obama's appointments?

It seems like every appointee must prove they are Israel loyalists.

And they are. No fresh faces, no out-of-the-box thinkers on Human Rights for Palestinians whose homeland was cruelly appropriated by imposing the State of Israel in West Asia (I never refer to West Asia as The Middle East).

And the 'settlements' (illegal encroachments?) that continue to be developed.

The US cannnot sow the wind, reap the whirlwind and call it foreign policy.

The Arc of Justice........

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Monday, December 1, 2008

South Asia's Stability vs. U.S. Hegemony: What India Can Do

India must continue to 1) talk with Pakistan, 2) initiate confidence-building measures with Pakistan 3) increase people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.
This is not because our heart bleeds FOR Pakistan, (our anger and frustration against the U-S-trained and funded ISI are justified), but because the above 3-point defensive strategy would be strategically the most effective policy to further India's stability and prosperity in the region and elsewhere.

At the same time India must increase its vigilance and security a thousandfold. An "If You See Something Say Something" defensive strategy that directly involves We The People. This is the most urgent priority. Security at home and confidence-building across the border must go hand in hand.

Let the India Govt. DECOUPLE the recent terror act from its admirably resolute policy to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan.

Q. Which is the country that continues to destabilize South Asia? The USA.
The US will continue to exploit its "special" relationship Pakistan, which dates back to the creation of SEATO in the Dulles era of the U.S. State Department. Pakistan, being vulnerable to terror within its own borders (masterminded by the Soviet-era, US-trained ISI & Taliban) and because Pakistan is now bankrupt as well, a weakened Pakistan will play to the spin of the U.S. The Pakistan Govt. has fewer policy options and the Pak govt. is allegedly controlled by "rogue elements" within the ISI.

The flagrant U.S. abuse of Democracy in South Asia (Afghanistan and Pakistan) and West Asia (I never call it the Middle East) during the Bush-Cheney regime is hard evidence that the U.S. is neither a proponent nor emissary of Democracy and cannot be trusted or collaborated with by the world's largest and most vibrant democracy.

It is up to India to deploy, display and demonstrate its superior foreign policy expertise and thereby outmaneuver the neo-imperial US in our own geopolitical region.

India's foreign policy expertise was honed by long and consistently ethical post-colonial Global South membership experience dating back to the Non Aligned Movement (an historic coalition of formerly oppressed revolutionary liberatory nation-states of Africa and Asia, disparaged by who else? Condoleezza Rice last year in New Delhi).

Let's take 3 and continue to be free.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Outsourcing the Rose Bowl? New Media, New Labor

Maureen, your generally wonderful and nearly always witty column as usual raises so many interesting questions about our diverse MULTIPOLAR world, not just about journalism. That's the keyword -- multipolar. Unipolar is so 20th Century! The US including its journalists need to wake up to this fact. It will be healthy for US journalism, because there will be fresh and diverse perspectives through this new paperless glocal new media.

The quote about the Rose Bowl, I could see, being of Indian origin myself, was accurate -- it was in ONE of the scores of vibrant not necessarily grammatical Indian Englishes that are spoken and written in India.

EVERY country is outsourcing and ("insourcing"?) some product or service to and from someplace else. China and India both manufacturing and service powerhouses, outsource their commerce between themselves and with other producers.

New Media and New Labor (not Tony Blair's I-am-Bush's-poodle brand) are inextricably intertwined.

The Pasadena news is being 'contented' in India only because India is English-speaking, has an IT knowledge surplus, lots of workers and a 'free' market still controlled by the G-8

Now, where do you think Le Monde is being produced? I am not sure, but hopefully soon in Cote d'Ivoire!

Frankly, I'm waiting for Pasadena newsmaking to be outsourced to Palestine, where they desperately need the work, non-intervention by the U.S. and not a moment too soon -- PEACE.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice



This is the slogan that has protected us in New York City, since 9/11. This is the mentality, the thought process, the active public engagement we in India need.

The 72-year old harbor official in Mumbai who SAW the young men getting out of a speedboat at night with overloaded backpacks, should have SAID something because he SAW something. This is EVERY citizen's obligation.

Don't leave it to the politicians especially the rightwing, antisecular, anticonstitutional Hindutva elements, or sluggish, status-preserving lifetime salaried bureaucrats.

It's up to The People to say something, to kick the butts of their elected leaders, these paid/bribed political hacks, to DO the PEOPLES WILL.

NDTV and other media, Stop talking to the talking heads. Step aside and let The PEOPLE speak. Let the People Engage in vigilant antiterrorism, for the Greater Collective Good (GCG).

That is a critical and preferred path towards a People's
Democracy. We aren't there yet, either in India or the U.S. or South Africa or Brasil or anywhere else.


Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Global South Journalists -- Two Sellouts to U.S. dominant mainstream media
Chithra KarunaKaran

South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA),8599,1862650,00.html
a Time magazine article partly contributed by two journalists of South Asian origin.

Malcolm X had an excellently apt phrase which describes the standing of these two journalists vis a vis the dominant mainstream US media. Those who do not know X's accurate but often censored phrase, should look it up in his autobiography, as narrated to Alex Haley.

My comment:
South Asian colonial history is more critically appraised by subaltern writers -- Time magazine and its writers do not qualify.

Britain's role in West Asia (I never refer to it as the Middle East) and South Asia continues, particularly through its "special" relationship with the U.S.

It is interesting to note that in this article rightwing Time completely fails to narrate the U.S. neo-imperial distortion of West Asian and South Asian sub-continental geopolitics,
beginning all the way back from the imposed establishment of the state of Israel in West Asia and the creation of SEATO in South and South East Asia in the Dulles era of the U.S. Sate Department.
That constitutes the more recent and therefore relevant 60+years' U.S. dominant-power context update of the present terrorist activity, that Time cleverly (intentionally?) fails to provide in the above-mentioned article partially written by two Global South Journalists

The US took over from the Brits and expanded its own supremacist control over these regions, deploying a combination of the old divide-and-rule strategy & new capital gained from exploiting Global South natural resources.

Of course the subcontinental elites colluded, no doubt about that. They continue to collude to advance their own narrow profit-centered interests, at the expense of the Greater Collective Good -- food, shelter, health for The People.

The US 'model' of 'democracy' founded on and enriched by the profits from slavery and genocide and advanced through 'free' market exploitation of emerging post-colonial sovereign liberatory nation-states, needs to be emphatically and critically rejected in policy and practice by Global South regional economies and nation-states.

South-South cooperation is essential, real and already underway.
The Times of India feeds and the BBC reports are far superior to anything coming out of the NYT or any section of the US media. However I have been writing comments on NYT, especially on the Lede blog.
I also listened to a terrific audio on The Times of South Africa website describing a dramatic rescue of 150 guests from the Taj by a South African "close protection" security specialist. Check it out.

Even though Bush is despicable, he had apt words in response to the horrific Mumbai events. Obama went one better and both focused on India's diverse democracy.

My suggestion is Let us all keep our Eyes on the Prize -- Indian Democracy. Indian Democracy is the prize the terrorists are really after.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in contrast spoke as if he had been recently mummified. No sense of emotional connection to his suffering fellow citizens. Modi was his usual brash condemnable self and Patil was smirking about the Indian security response. Why does this fool still have a job?

I also picked up a story in Time magazine which I posted on my blog along with my comment which is pasted below:,8599,1862650,00.html
by aryn baker, With reporting by Jyoti Thottam / Mumbai and Ershad Mahmud / Islamabad

Jyoti Thottam and her Pakistani colleague both work for rightwing Time. Malcolm X had a choice phrase which describes their standing. Time and saja censorship would prevent me from using his phrase here, but it is an excellently apt one for these two sellout so-called journalists.

South Asian colonial history is more critically appraised by subaltern writers -- Time magazine and its writers do not qualify.

Britain's role in West Asia and South Asia which continues particularly through its "special" relationship with the U.S.

It is interesting to note that rightwing Time completely fails to narrate the U.S. neo-imperial distortion of West Asian and South Asian sub-continental geopolitics,
beginning all the way back from the imposed establishment of the state of Israel in West Asia and the creation of SEATO in the Dulles era of the U.S. Sate Department.
That constitutes the more recent 60+years' dominant-power context update of the present terrorist activity, that Time cleverly fails to provide.

The US took over from the Brits and expanded its own supremacist control over these regions,
with a combination of the old divide-and-rule strategy & new capital gained from exploiting Global South resources.

The US 'model' of 'democracy' founded on slavery and genocide and advanced through 'free' market exploitation of emerging post-colonial sovereign liberatory nation-states, needs to be emphatically and critically rejected in policy and practice by Global South regional economies and nation-states.

South-South cooperation is essential, real and already underway.

It's time Global South journalists located in the US stopped selling out/embedding with US mainstream media.

Oops, wrong place to make this observation, SAJA is part of the problem because it is located within the entrenched dominant U.S. media perspective that cravenly goes along with US foreign policy.
Chithra KarunaKaran

Posted by: Chithra KarunaKaran | November 29, 2008 at 09:03 PM

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice