Pankaj Mishra

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de febrero de 2009. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

Cómo sedujo Modi a la India con envidia y odio

El 26 de febrero, antes del amanecer, Narendra Modi, el primer ministro nacionalista hindú de India, ordenó un ataque aéreo contra el vecino Pakistán, un país dotado de armas nucleares. Esa mañana había espesas nubes sobre la frontera que preocupaban a los asesores de Modi. Pero, según afirmó este durante su campaña electoral, él decidió no hacerles caso. No sabe nada de ciencia, reconoció, pero se fio de su “sabiduría primitiva”, que le dijo que las nubes impedirían que el radar paquistaní detectara los cazas indios.

Durante los cinco años de gobierno de Modi, India ha sufrido variadas consecuencias de esa sabiduría primitiva; el caso más gratuito fue el de noviembre de 2016, cuando su gobierno retiró de pronto casi el 90% de los billetes de banco en circulación.…  Seguir leyendo »

La maligna incompetencia

Al describir la desastrosa manera que tuvo Gran Bretaña de salir de su imperio indio en 1947, el novelista Paul Scott escribió que los británicos “llegaron al final de sí mismos tal como eran”, es decir, al final de la elevada imagen que tenían de sí mismos. Scott fue uno de los sorprendidos por lo apresurada e implacablemente que los británicos, después de gobernar India durante más de un siglo, la condenaron a la fragmentación y la anarquía, por cómo Louis Mountbatten, certeramente calificado por el historiador de derechas Andrew Roberts como un “embaucador mentiroso e intelectualmente limitado”, dirigió como último virrey el destino de 400 millones de personas.…  Seguir leyendo »

From left seated at the table, Jawarharlal Nehru, vice president of India’s interim government; Earl Mountbatten, viceroy of India; and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, president of the Muslim League discuss Britain’s plan for India, June 2, 1947.CreditMax Desfor/Associated Press

Describing Britain’s calamitous exit from its Indian empire in 1947, the novelist Paul Scott wrote that in India the British “came to the end of themselves as they were” — that is, to the end of their exalted idea about themselves. Scott was among those shocked by how hastily and ruthlessly the British, who had ruled India for more than a century, condemned it to fragmentation and anarchy; how Louis Mountbatten, accurately described by the right-wing historian Andrew Roberts as a “mendacious, intellectually limited hustler,” came to preside, as the last British viceroy of India, over the destiny of some 400 million people.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman posing for a selfie at a business conference in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Tuesday.CreditCreditBandar Al-Jaloud/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Oil is flowing again into the free markets of the world,” The New York Times declared in 1954 as Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, visited the United States. The previous year, a C.I.A.-backed coup had overthrown Iran’s elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, and within a few years the C.I.A. would help found Savak, the shah’s diabolical security agency, responsible for the torture and disappearance of countless dissidents. According to The Times, however, Mossadegh was “where he belongs — in jail,” and Iran under its monarch was open to “new and auspicious horizons.”

The following year, The Atlantic Monthly hailed the shah as “an articulate and positive force,” summing up the tone of the American press coverage of a ruthless usurper decades before politicians, investors and journalists in the United States began to praise another oil-rich potentate and American ally: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who now stands accused of unspeakable crimes including the murder and dismemberment with a bone saw of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pennsylvanian white supremacists’ fear was reflected in this 1866 poster attacking the Radical Republican politician John White Geary for his support of black civil rights.CreditMPI/Getty Images

“White men,” an obscure Australian academic named Charles Henry Pearson predicted in his 1893 book “National Life and Character: A Forecast,” would be “elbowed and hustled, and perhaps even thrust aside” by people they had long regarded as their inferiors — “black and yellow races.” China, in particular, would be a major threat. Pearson, prone to terrors of racial extinction while living in a settler colony in an Asian neighborhood, thought it was imperative to defend “the last part of the world, in which the higher races can live and increase freely, for the higher civilization.”

His prescriptions for racial self-defense thunderously echoed around the white Anglosphere, the community of men with shared historical ties to Britain.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rahul Gandhi, center, with his mother, Sonia, and family at the funeral of his assassinated father, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, New Delhi, May 24, 1991. Nickelsberg/Liaison/Getty Images

The bomb that killed Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991, blew his face off. India’s former prime minister, and scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, was identified by his sneakers as he lay spread-eagled on the ground. Some Indian newspapers, refusing dignity to the dead and his survivors, published a picture of Gandhi’s half-dismembered body. I remembered the image recently when I read about the reaction of Rajiv’s son, Rahul Gandhi, which he related earlier this year, to a similar image of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the mastermind behind his father’s assassination.

In 2009, Sri Lankan ultra-nationalists had exulted in photographs of the lifeless Prabhakaran, the much-hated terrorist chief of the Tamil Tigers, who pioneered suicide bombings; he was allegedly tortured by the Sri Lankan military before being executed (his twelve-year-old son was certainly murdered in cold blood).…  Seguir leyendo »

Donald Trump’s election last year exposed an insidious politics of celebrity, one in which a redemptive personality is projected high above the slow toil of political parties and movements. As his latest tweets about Muslims confirm, this post-political figure seeks, above all, to commune with his entranced white nationalist supporters. Periodically offering them emotional catharsis, a powerful medium of self-expression at the White House these days, Trump makes sure that his fan base survives his multiple political and economic failures. This may be hard to admit but the path to such a presidency of spectacle and vicarious participation was paved by the previous occupant of the White House.…  Seguir leyendo »

August 15, 1947, deserved to be remembered, the African-American writer W.E.B. Du Bois argued, “as the greatest historical date” of modern history. It was the day India became independent from British rule, and Du Bois believed the event was of “greater significance” than even the establishment of democracy in Britain, the emancipation of slaves in the United States or the Russian Revolution. The time “when the white man, by reason of the color of his skin, can lord it over colored people” was finally drawing to a close.

It is barely remembered today that India’s freedom heralded the liberation, from Tuskegee to Jakarta, of a majority of the world’s population from the degradations of racist imperialism.…  Seguir leyendo »

Modi’s Idea of India

India, V.S. Naipaul declared in 1976, is “a wounded civilization,” whose obvious political and economic dysfunction conceals a deeper intellectual crisis. As evidence, he pointed out some strange symptoms he noticed among upper-caste middle-class Hindus since his first visit to his ancestral country in 1962. These well-born Indians betrayed a craze for “phoren” consumer goods and approval from the West, as well as a self-important paranoia about the “foreign hand.” “Without the foreign chit,” Mr. Naipaul concluded, “Indians can have no confirmation of their own reality.”

Mr. Naipaul was also appalled by the prickly vanity of many Hindus who asserted that their holy scriptures already contained the discoveries and inventions of Western science, and that an India revitalized by its ancient wisdom would soon vanquish the decadent West.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is fond of boasting that not one of India’s almost 180 million Muslims has been discovered to be a member of al-Qaeda.

He could underscore an even more remarkable fact: None of the foreign jihadists caught fighting alongside the Taliban has turned out to be from the country with the world’s third-largest Muslim population.

Indeed, Indian Muslims haven’t bothered to lend even moral support to the anti-Indian insurgency in Muslim-majority Kashmir that has claimed more than 50,000 lives in the past two decades.

According to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, this is because Indian Muslims “are the product of and feel empowered by a democratic and pluralistic society.”

A more prosaic and less ideological explanation is that Indian Muslims have many of their own problems to deal with, largely stemming from the swift decay of democracy and pluralism.…  Seguir leyendo »

The recent slaughter of Shiites in Pakistan is another grisly reminder of the perilous condition of its minorities. Indeed, in Pakistan and Indonesia, the two largest Muslim countries, both of which are in the midst of a fraught experiment with electoral democracy after decades of military rule, murderous assaults on Shiites, Christians and Ahmadis by majoritarian Sunni fanatics have become routine.

As a report last week by Human Right Watch claimed, the Indonesian government has shown a “deadly indifference to the growing plight of Indonesia’s religious minorities.” Political leaders in Pakistan, too, are guilty of the same.

Successful mass mobilizations against autocratic rule in Indonesia and Pakistan, followed by free elections, raised hopes of a new civil society.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Friday afternoon, public spaces across north India were flooded with policemen and paramilitaries. Thousands of alleged “troublemakers” were arrested. The sending of bulk text messages from mobile phones was banned. These precautions had nothing to do with the opening on Sunday of the Commonwealth Games, the athletic competition among the nations of the former British Empire that so many Indians have hoped would be their country’s symbolic coming out as a world power.

Rather, the police were out in force because an Indian court had pronounced its verdict on the site in the town of Ayodhya that has been long claimed by Hindu nationalists as the birthplace of Lord Rama.…  Seguir leyendo »

Meeting George Bush at the White House to discuss Afghanistan, the Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid once marvelled at how a «US president could live in such an unreal world, where the entire military and intelligence establishments were so gullible, the media so complacent, Congress so unquestioning – all of them involved in feeding half-truths to the American public».

The masters of war and delusion are still flourishing. Widening his campaign of extrajudicial execution by drone missiles within Pakistan, Barack Obama seems far from abandoning an anachronistic American faith in superior firepower; the militarism of our new Nobel peace laureate seems constrained only by its steep financial costs.…  Seguir leyendo »

On the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, I hurried through a dark apple orchard to the nearest television in this Himalayan village. My landlord opened his door reluctantly, and then appeared unmoved by the news I had just received by phone. I struggled to explain the enormity of what was happening, the significance of New York, the iconic status of the World Trade Center — to no avail. It was time for his evening prayers; the television could not be turned on.

I did not witness the horrific sights of 9/11 until three days later. Since then, cable television and even broadband Internet have arrived in Mashobra and in my own home.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last month Richard Holbrooke, the US state department’s special representative, met students from Pakistan’s north-west tribal ­areas. They were ­enraged by drone attacks, which – ­according to David Kilcullen, counterinsurgency adviser to General Petraeus – have eliminated only about 14 terrorist leaders while killing 700 civilians. One young man told Holbrooke that he knew someone killed in a Predator drone strike. «You killed 10 members of his family,» he said. ­Another claimed that the strikes had unleashed a fresh wave of refugees. «Are many of them Taliban?» Holbrooke asked. «We are all Taliban,» he replied.

Describing this scene in Time, Joe Klein said he was shocked by the declaration, though he recognised it as one «of solidarity, not affiliation».…  Seguir leyendo »

In his memoir, Secrets, Daniel Ellsberg describes how he decided to risk years in prison by leaking the Pentagon Papers, the top-secret record of American decision-making on Vietnam, to the New York Times. Hoping that his wife, Patricia, would help him make up his mind, Ellsberg showed her a few memos on bombing strategies crafted by his former superiors at the Pentagon. She was horrified by some of the phrases in the documents: «a need to reach the threshold of pain»; «salami-slice bombing campaign»; «the objective of persuading the enemy»; «ratchet»; «one more turn of the screw». «This is the language of torturers,» she told Ellsberg.…  Seguir leyendo »

1.- An End To Extreme Poverty

Our generation’s unique challenge is to live peacefully and sustainably on a crowded planet. I commit America to work with all the world to end extreme poverty in our generation, convert to sustainable energy and ecosystem use, and stabilise the world’s population by 2050, before our numbers and resource demands overwhelm the planet and our fragile capacity to co-operate. Our wars are distractions from these challenges; today’s enemies will become tomorrow’s partners in shared prosperity.

By Jeffrey Sachs, professor of economics and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also a special adviser to United Nations secretary-general on the millennium development goals.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Pankaj Mishra, the author of Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond (THE GUARDIAN, 07/08/08):

In the past five years bomb attacks claimed by Islamist groups have killed hundreds across the Indian cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Varanasi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. An Indian Muslim was even involved in the failed assault on Glasgow airport in July last year. Yet George Bush reportedly introduced Manmohan Singh to his wife, Laura, as «the prime minister of India, a democracy which does not have a single al-Qaida member in a population of 150 million Muslims».…  Seguir leyendo »