Salman Rushdie reads at PEN World Voices Festival's opening night (© Beowulf Sheehan/PEN American Center)
As a people living under an occupation [in Kashmir] which is camouflaged within a patina of democratic set-up and draconian laws, there is a constant erasure of our bodies, memories, and identities. We are inflicted with active forgetting in order to survive. At the border where the direct gaze of prose is constricted with barbed wires of multiple coercions, poetry spurts forth. Poetry makes one a witness, rather than just an archivist. One’s life-blood, all that is political and emotional; lived, remaining, and forgotten coagulates into a poem.
Nearly a half a century ago in Vietnam, a photograph taken on a Saigon street shocked people around the world. At the center of the photo was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk sitting uptight in a lotus position; his entire body was engulfed by flames. This image reportedly prompted then President John F. Kennedy to reconsider his Vietnam policy.
by Ananya Vajpeyi
From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals who Remade Asia
by Pankaj Mishra (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012)
In the past sixteen years, over 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India. That's one suicide every thirty minutes. By the time I finished watching a documentary about the sad epidemic, three more farmers had taken their lives.
BEIJING - About a week and a half ago a co-worker sent a message in Chinese that army vehicles were spotted in east-central Beijing near where I used to live. That day and the next rumors swirled, in no part due to the fact that Bo Xilai, the Mayor of Chongqing, the largest city in China had recently been dismissed. In subsequent days there have been articles in a multitude of news sources about Bo Xilai, following earlier articles about Wang Lijun, his dismissed police chief who created news by fleeing to the United States Embassy in the nearby city of Chengdu.
According to a report in Foreign Policy, sales of the Nano automobile in India have been disappointing. Launched with great fanfare just two years ago and billed as the “world's cheapest car”, the Nano has been equal parts savvy marketing campaign and act of social responsibility on the part of its creator, Tata Motors. A marked transition has been underway in Indian society as the population becomes more affluent and more urban. Unfortunately, the infrastructure of most Indian cities has not been able to keep up;
Since 1947, Kashmir has been subjected to three full scale wars between India and Pakistan. The last one occurred as the two nations were poised to become nuclear powers. Until the late 80s, the nature of tension in the valley between these full scale battles can be viewed as latent violence. This period was dogged by rigged elections, corruption, dissent, and awry political coalitions, which led to shaky governments. It was in 1989 that the armed militancy broke out. Since then a burgeoning Indian military presence has been engaged in counterinsurgency policies.