India is in the throes of what Salman Rushdie rightly calls a “cultural emergency.” Writers and artists of all kinds are being harassed, sued and arrested for what they say or write or create. The government either stands by and does nothing to protect freedom of speech, or it actively abets its suppression.
This year, the world’s largest democracy ranked a miserable 140th out of 179 countries in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index — falling nine places from last year. Today, Afghanistan and Qatar have a freer press than India.
In recent years, the government has cast a watchful eye on the Internet, demanding that companies like Google and Facebook prescreen content and remove items that might be deemed “disparaging” or “inflammatory,” according to technology industry executives there.… Seguir leyendo »
In the Mumbai kindergarten my son went to, the children never had to clean up after themselves; that was the servants’ job. So I really liked the school my son attended when we moved back to Brooklyn, where the teachers made the children tidy up at the end of the day. “Cleanup time, cleanup time!” my 6-year-old sang, joyfully gathering his scraps. It’s a wonderful American tradition: you always clean up the mess you made.
This is the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster, an epic mess that started one night when a pesticide plant owned by the American chemical giant Union Carbide leaked a cloud of poisonous gas.… Seguir leyendo »
My bleeding city. My poor great bleeding heart of a city. Why do they go after Mumbai? There’s something about this island-state that appalls religious extremists, Hindus and Muslims alike. Perhaps because Mumbai stands for lucre, profane dreams and an indiscriminate openness.
Mumbai is all about dhandha, or transaction. From the street food vendor squatting on a sidewalk, fiercely guarding his little business, to the tycoons and their dreams of acquiring Hollywood, this city understands money and has no guilt about the getting and spending of it. I once asked a Muslim man living in a shack without indoor plumbing what kept him in the city.… Seguir leyendo »