Posts Tagged ‘Minority’

China – 3: Lessons from Tibet

July 25, 2009

China has a problem in Tibet. What can South Asians learn from it?

A lot, if we want and can keep our prejudices out of the way.

Reflect on the following:

There is no enemy country intervening in Tibet. There are no militants infiltrating from across international borders into Tibet. There are no Muslims in Tibet. There are no rogue leaders in Tibet. China has poured immense amount of development money into Tibet.

And yet, there is a problem in Tibet. Why? Is it because Tibetans are ignorant, ungrateful and unaware of what is good for them? (more…)

Them Versus Us

May 16, 2009

The first part of this thought experiment was intended to test if my perception of the ‘Other’ was a reflection of nothing more than my own prejudices. It had me revisit repeatedly the same set of objects arranged in different ways to see how my reactions varied in response to the arrangements.

In the second part of the experiment I want to see the picture from the other end. This time I imagine myself to be a member of the set of objects and try to sense how I would feel in the various scenarios.

The setting is still the same – a classroom of children being visited by an outsider. (more…)

Ghalib Says – 11

October 3, 2008

Justice delayed is justice denied:

ham ne maanaa kih taghaaful nah karoge lekin
khaak ho jaaeNge ham tum ko khabar hote tak

we accept that you will not show negligence, but
we will become dust by the time of the news reaching you

In the conventional reading, the lover (ham) is addressing the beloved (tum) and a number of ways of interpreting the text are possible as described by Frances Pritchett in A Desertful of Roses.

We will transpose the domain of the verse and let ham represent the citizen and tum the state. What does that yield us?

Well, for one, we can explore the entire gamut of the relationship between the citizen and the state in South Asia in modern times.

Does the citizen (really) believe that the state acts in his or her interest?

Does the citizen believe that the state knows what his or her interests really are?

Does the citizen believe that if the state knew what his or her interests were, it would not neglect them?

If the citizen believes that the state is negligent of his or her interests, what are his or her options?

How long ought the citizen to wait for the state to respond to his or her needs?

Is it the fate of the citizen to turn to dust unrequited?

At what point does enough become enough?

Now replace the citizen with the minority citizen and the entire picture of South Asian governance would be crystal clear before your eyes.

Call it the magic of Ghalib.

The question is: How do you look upon the state now and what can you do about it? Remember that, unlike the lover, the citizen does not need to suffer alone and in silence.

Back to Main Page

As always, there is another take on this verse at Mehr-e-Niimroz, our partner in the Ghalib Project.