POSTED BY Omar Ali ON Apr 05, 2014 AT 17:04 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 05, 2014 17:04 IST

Someone on twitter suggested collecting stories of where you were when you heard the news of Bhutto's execution. I hope others will post their stories below, I have a couple. And some random comments:

I was at home because our board exams had been postponed in anticipation of the hanging. I woke up to see Ami (my mother) crying.

She just said, "They have hanged Bhutto".

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POSTED BY Omar Ali ON Apr 05, 2014 AT 17:04 IST, Edited At: Apr 05, 2014 17:04 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jul 29, 2011 AT 23:40 IST ,  Edited At: Jul 29, 2011 23:40 IST

Now that the redoubtable Mr Digvijaya Singh has jumped into the fray ("It's a very bad article and it is seditious also") after the Harvard students who wanted that the university "end its association with religious extremist Subramanian Swamy"  for his distasteful  op-ed of July 16 in the DNA, it is perhaps time to compile our old short-takes and also revisit Salil Tripathi's article in the Mint on July 20:

If the secular, liberal, and leftist Indians want views like Swamy’s to be restricted, then the right-wing nationalists will want views like Arundhati Roy’s to be restricted. This is not to suggest that Roy and Swamy are in any way comparable, except to suggest that both arouse visceral responses of similar intensity among different types of Indians, and India is a better society if it aggressively protects free speech. Disagree with them by all means; challenge them, debate them. Don’t stop them from speaking. Otherwise, as the late Behram Contractor, who wrote as Busybee, astutely observed about the emergency, the only safe topics left to discuss will be cricket and mangoes.

As Sandip Roy points out in the Firstpost, more than anything else, hounding Mr Swamy out of Harvard would only make him a "freespeech martyr".

The Harvard petitioners had better be careful that they don’t make Swamy a political martyr in their zeal to kick him off campus without real debate. That would allow him the perfect excuse to retreat to the safety of yet more newspaper op-eds, where he can sit on a pedestal and lob incendiary monologues.

Let Subramanian Swamy defend his ideas instead, and the whiplash-inducing twists and turns in his ideology, in an open forum...

Swamy clearly does not believe in a pluralistic “open” society. But that is no reason for the rest of us to cede those values in the name of opposing him. To repeat what he once said about Saudi Arabia: “We are not going to imitate them. Our society is different.”

Harvard students should hoist Swamy on his own words. Instead of sending him into exile, they should remind of this inconvenient truth: There is no democracy without debate.

Meanwhile, Mr Swamy seems to be revelling in all the attention that he has never perhaps got before in his life, not even for all his 2G activism, or so it would seem at least going by his tweets of the past few days, where he can of course choose to be selective in what he responds to:

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jul 29, 2011 AT 23:40 IST, Edited At: Jul 29, 2011 23:40 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Aug 21, 2009 AT 05:56 IST ,  Edited At: Aug 21, 2009 07:19 IST

Jaithirth Rao in the Indian Express joins issue with Amartya Sen's recent expressions of "closeness, attachment, even fondness, for the leftist parties in India’s polity":

Contemporary Indian leftists represent their own selfish party interests and their sense of misplaced historical determinism which is locked in a time-warp. They do not care for underprivileged citizens and certainly do not care to improve the lot of the poor. In Sen’s own paradigm, Indian leftists pursue purist, ideologically correct “Niti”. They have no concern for “Nyaya” or just consequences...

...The final nail in the coffin of leftist pretensions has been driven in by two recent data points. The Sachar Commission tells us that Muslim citizens in West Bengal are on every count worse off than their counterparts in most other states, not excluding much-maligned Gujarat. And West Bengal has been virtually the last state in implementation of the NREGA. So much for the Left’s concern for “Nyaya” for Muslim citizens or the rural poor!

Read the full piece: Set the record straight

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Aug 21, 2009 AT 05:56 IST, Edited At: Aug 21, 2009 07:19 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jun 25, 2009 AT 05:20 IST ,  Edited At: Jun 25, 2009 05:24 IST
Tapas Majumdar remembers the Calcutta of 60 years ago with great fondness in the Telegraph:
I think Right and Left have always been a very inadequate description even of political activity.

...The right wing and the left wing, as many will know, were descriptions first defined by the way members sat in the French National Assembly of 1789-91: the nobles in the wing to the right, the common people to the left, of the president of the Assembly. In course of time, as parliamentary democracy unfolded, the left wing came to be referred to as “a group or party favouring radical, reforming or socialist views”, as the Oxford Dictionary succinctly tried to put it...

...But from all I can surmise from a distance, for many among the intelligentsia, the bonding with manush (human being), to use the more modern term for Tagore’s janagana (people), has not been lost.

I cannot make out how exactly today’s manush, in turn, relates to Calcutta’s intelligentsia. But one can see how the state’s political apparatchiki can take on the teachers, the doctors, the poets, the artists on the assumption that connections between such people and Manush have simply vanished.

...the Right-Left dichotomy is old and difficult to dislodge — but why not redefine Right and Wrong from the standpoint of social justice and responsibility, and in that light redefine Crime and Punishment in the Indian Penal Code? That may yet set the cat among the pigeons — of all colours.
There is a lovely story about PC Joshi too. More here
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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jun 25, 2009 AT 05:20 IST, Edited At: Jun 25, 2009 05:24 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jun 21, 2009 AT 03:59 IST ,  Edited At: Jun 21, 2009 05:16 IST

Rudrangshu Mukherjee in the Telegraph:

In 1964, when the CPI split and the CPI(M) was born, the latter, at least in West Bengal, got the giant share of the party’s resources save the intellectual ones. The intellectual cream remained with the CPI. The CPI(M) was born under the sign of mediocrity. Its leadership promoted anti-intellectualism and the cult of mediocrity. This, it was assumed, would bring the CPI(M) closer to the people. Promode Dasgupta, the redoubtable head of the party apparatus in West Bengal, was the driving force behind this kind of thinking. Under his successor, Anil Biswas, this tendency was aggravated. Biswas personally controlled educational institutions and intellectual organizations. This brand of nepotism alienated real talent. Many came under the flag of the CPI(M) lured by the loaves and fishes of office, but numbers did not make for quality. The moral and intellectual high ground that communists had once enjoyed in West Bengal gradually came to be eroded. Today, the CPI(M) stares at a moral and intellectual vacuum....

...The transformation of society will never occur through the brutal use of State power and the deployment of terror through cadre. It demands a more sensitive handling by a leadership that is confident enough to be broadminded and open.

Read the full piece: Cult of Mediocrity. And staying with West Bengal,  MJ Akbar has a word of caution:

Nature, and political nature, abhors a vacuum. The space vacated by the CPI(M) retreat is being visibly occupied: those who vote are with Mamata Banerjee; those who don't vote in rural Bengal are gravitating around the Maoists...

...It would also be unwise to forget the game-changer of the 1960s, the riots. Violence is an infectious plague, and demographic tensions always have a fuse in the tail. Bengalis believe that they are not communal. No one is communal, except in that brief moment of madness when the civilized mind crumbles.

The drama of Bengal is full of actors making powerful speeches. We need a plot, very quickly.
Read the full piece: West Bengal: Next time, the volcano
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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jun 21, 2009 AT 03:59 IST, Edited At: Jun 21, 2009 05:16 IST
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