Friday, June 08, 2007

from The New York Review of Books

Pankaj Mishra has a rambling essay on India in the new NYRB. All familiar stuff though I wish he had spent more time discussing the book than rehashing the familiar recent Indian history. He also makes this claim, strange and rather optimistic I think:

Fortunately, a large majority of poor and religious Indians do not live within the modern culture of materialism; they are invulnerable to the glamour of the CEO, the investment banker, the PR executive, the copywriter, and other gurus of the West's fully organized consumer societies. Traditional attitudes toward the natural environment make Indians, like the Japanese, more disposed than Americans to pursue happiness modestly.[15] And almost six decades after his assassination, Gandhi's traditionalist emphasis on austerity and self-abnegation remains a powerful part of Indian identity.

There is also an article about a right-wing witch hunt in Poland which gives me an excuse to plug what I think one of the funniest and the most alarming news headline I have come across in the last few days, "Goethe and Dostoyevsky Escape Poland's Literary Cull". How gratifying to see that the text-book politics is not confined to India... More on this from Literary Saloon, which also mentions some Polonised names of western writers like "Wiliam Szekspir", "Karol Dickens"...

Another source of mild amusement was this paragraph from a letter exchange about the 1956 Hungarian revolution:
The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 went through many major anniversaries but not until its fiftieth did it attract the attention of the media, the universities, and many political leaders. Last June, for instance, when visiting Budapest, President Bush greatly praised the Hungarian freedom fighters, comparing them, somewhat awkwardly, to the Iraqi freedom fighters, by which he meant not the opponents but the supporters of the American occupation. Repeating almost verbatim the Soviet justification for sending tanks to Budapest on November 4, 1956, and for installing the pro-Soviet government of János Kádár, Bush promised continued fraternal aid to the Iraqi government in its struggle against "the enemies of freedom."

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