#kerala

  • India coronavirus: How Kerala’s Covid ’success story’ came undone - BBC News
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-53431672

    Kerala took 110 days to report its first thousand cases. In mid-July, it was reporting around 800 infections a day. As of 20 July, Kerala’s caseload had crossed 12,000, with 43 reported deaths. More than 170,000 people were in quarantine, at home and in hospitals.One reason, say experts, for this sharp uptick is that nearly half a million workers returned to the state from the Gulf countries and others parts of India after the grinding countrywide lockdown, which shut businesses and threw people out of their jobs. Some 17% of Kerala’s working-age population works outside the state. Unsurprisingly, more than 7,000 of the reported cases so far have a history of travel. “But when the lockdown travel restrictions were lifted, people came flocking back to the state, and it became impossible to curb the re-entry of infected cases,” says Shashi Tharoor, a senior Indian opposition politician and member of parliament from Trivandrum. Mr Tharoor remembers a conversation he had with Chief Minister Pinayari Vijayan soon after the first repatriation flights carrying Keralites working in the Gulf countries landed in Kerala. “He lamented that not only the virus was coming in, but infected people were transmitting the contagion to fellow passengers on the plane.”"I think this was unavoidable, since every citizen has a constitutional right to come home to India, even if they are ill. But that made a major difference," Mr Tharoor told me. The influx has possibly sparked a surge in local community transmission - since early May, reported cases without any travel history have gone up. More than 640 of the 821 new cases reported on Sunday, for example, were contracted locally, officials said. The source of 43 of them is untraceable

    #Covid-19#migrant#migration#inde#kerala#travailleurmigrant#rapatriement#sante#etatdugolfe#contagion#confinement#frontiere

  • Le passé nauséabond de l’industrie textile suisse

    Bien qu’elle n’ait pas eu de colonies, la Suisse a profité du colonialisme. C’est ce que montre l’histoire des #indiennes_de_coton imprimé. Le commerce de ces #tissus colorés avait des liens avec l’#exploitation_coloniale, le #prosélytisme_religieux et le #commerce_des_esclaves.

    Au 17e siècle, le #coton imprimé venait d’#Inde – la seule région possédant le savoir-faire nécessaire. Mais bientôt, cette technique de production d’étoffes imprimées de couleurs vives fut copiée par les Britanniques et les Néerlandais qui, grâce à la mécanisation, les produisaient à meilleur prix. Ils supplantèrent l’industrie textile indienne. Les « indiennes » claires et abordables produites en Europe connurent une telle vogue que, sous la pression des producteurs de laine, de soie et de lin, Louis XIV, le Roi-Soleil, dut interdire leur production et leur importation.

    Cette interdiction fut une aubaine pour la Suisse du 17e siècle. Des #huguenots français qui s’étaient réfugiés en Suisse pour fuir les persécutions religieuses dans leur pays fondèrent des #usines_textiles à #Genève et à #Neuchâtel, d’où ils pouvaient écouler les indiennes en France par #contrebande. La demande atteignait alors un sommet : en 1785, la #Fabrique-Neuve de #Cortaillod, près de Neuchâtel, devint la plus grande manufacture d’indiennes d’Europe, produisant cette année-là 160’000 pièces de #coton_imprimé.

    Le boom en Suisse et le commerce des esclaves

    Le commerce des indiennes a apporté une énorme prospérité en Suisse, mais il avait une face obscure : à l’époque, ces étoffes étaient utilisées en Afrique comme monnaie d’échange pour acheter les #esclaves qui étaient ensuite envoyés en Amérique. En 1789 par exemple, sur le #Necker, un navire en route pour l’Angola, les étoffes suisses représentaient les trois quarts de la valeur des marchandises destinées à être échangées contre des esclaves.

    Les entreprises textiles suisses investissaient aussi directement leurs fortunes dans la #traite des noirs. Des documents montrent qu’entre 1783 et 1792, la société textile bâloise #Christoph_Burckardt & Cie a participé au financement de 21 #expéditions_maritimes qui ont transporté au total 7350 Africains jusqu’en Amérique. Une grande partie de la prospérité des centres suisses du textile était liée au commerce des esclaves, que ce soit à Genève, Neuchâtel, #Aarau, #Zurich ou #Bâle.

    Un projet colonial

    Au milieu du 19e siècle, la Suisse était devenue un des plus importants centres du commerce des #matières_premières. Des marchands suisses achetaient et revendaient dans le monde entier des produits tels que le coton indien, la #soie japonaise ou le #cacao d’Afrique de l’Ouest. Bien que ces marchandises n’aient jamais touché le sol helvétique, les profits étaient réalisés en Suisse.

    L’abolition de l’esclavage aux États-Unis à la suite de la guerre de Sécession a conduit à une crise des matières premières, en particulier de la production du coton qui était largement basée sur une économie esclavagiste. Le marché indien prit encore plus d’importance. L’entreprise suisse #Volkart, active aux Indes depuis 1851, se spécialisa alors dans le commerce du #coton_brut. Afin d’étendre ses activités dans ce pays, elle collabora étroitement avec le régime colonial britannique.

    Les Britanniques dirigeaient la production et, sous leur joug, les paysans indiens étaient contraints de cultiver du coton plutôt que des plantes alimentaires et devaient payer un impôt foncier qui allait directement dans les caisses du gouvernement colonial. Combinée avec l’extension du réseau de chemins de fer à l’intérieur du sous-continent indien, cette politique oppressive permit bientôt à Volkart de prendre en charge un dixième de l’ensemble des exportations de coton vers les manufactures textiles d’Europe. Volkart avait son siège à #Winterthour et occupait ainsi une situation centrale sur le continent européen d’où elle pouvait approvisionner les #filatures installées en Italie, dans le nord de la France, en Belgique, dans la Ruhr allemande ou dans toute la Suisse.

    Les collaborateurs de Volkart devaient éviter les comportements racistes, mais cela ne les empêcha pas d’adopter en Inde certains usages de l’occupant colonial britannique : les Indiens n’avaient pas accès aux salles de détente des employés européens.

    Ardeur missionnaire

    Une autre entreprise prospère à l’époque coloniale fut la #Société_évangélique_des_missions_de_Bâle, ou #Mission_bâloise. Fondée en 1815 par des protestants suisses et des luthériens allemands, son but était de convertir les « païens » au #christianisme. Elle a connu un certain succès au sud de l’Inde dans les territoires des États actuels du #Kerala et du #Karnataka, en particulier auprès des Indiens des couches sociales inférieures qui accédaient ainsi pour la première fois à la formation et à la culture.

    Toutefois, en se convertissant à une autre religion, les autochtones prenaient le risque d’être exclus de leur communauté et de perdre ainsi leur gagne-pain. La Mission de Bâle a réagi en créant des filatures afin de donner des emplois aux réprouvés. Elle résolvait ainsi un problème qu’elle avait elle-même créé et en tirait encore des bénéfices : dans les années 1860, la Mission exploitait quatre filatures et exportait des textiles aux quatre coins de l’#Empire_britannique, de l’Afrique au Proche-Orient en passant par l’Australie.

    L’industrie textile a largement contribué à la prospérité de la Suisse mais de nombreux déshérités l’ont payé au prix fort dans les pays lointains. La Suisse n’était peut-être pas une puissance coloniale indépendante, mais elle a énormément profité du colonialisme.

    https://www.swissinfo.ch/fre/indiennes_le-pass%C3%A9-naus%C3%A9abond-de-l-industrie-textile-suisse/45862606

    #histoire #histoire_suisse #industrie_textile #textile #colonialisme #colonisation #Suisse

    –—

    Ajouté à la métaliste sur la Suisse coloniale :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/868109

  • The coronavirus slayer! How Kerala’s rock star health minister helped save it from #Covid-19 | Coronavirus outbreak | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/14/the-coronavirus-slayer-how-keralas-rock-star-health-minister-helped-sav

    On 20 January, KK Shailaja phoned one of her medically trained deputies. She had read online about a dangerous new virus spreading in China. “Will it come to us?” she asked. “Definitely, Madam,” he replied. And so the health minister of the Indian state of #Kerala began her preparations.

    Four months later, Kerala has reported only 524 cases of Covid-19, four deaths and – according to #Shailaja – no community transmission. The state has a population of about 35 million and a GDP per capita of only £2,200. By contrast, the UK (double the population, GDP per capita of £33,100) has reported more than 40,000 deaths, while the US (10 times the population, GDP per capita of £51,000) has reported more than 82,000 deaths; both countries have rampant community transmission.

    #PIB #santé_publique

  • Inde : l’État du #Kerala refuse à son tour d’appliquer la loi sur la citoyenneté

    Ce sont désormais les États qui refusent la loi sur la citoyenneté, jugée discriminatoire contre les musulmans. Après le #Bengale-Occidental et le #Punjab, le Kerala a annoncé qu’il n’appliquera pas cette mesure. Le #Maharashtra menace lui aussi de rejoindre ces États rebelles.

    Après les citoyens, les dirigeants ? Plusieurs États Indiens ont annoncé qu’ils refusaient la loi sur la citoyenneté facilitant l’accueil de réfugiés non-musulmans. C’est le cas du Bengale-Occidental, directement concerné puisque voisin du Bangladesh, du Punjab, frontalier du Pakistan, mais aussi à la pointe sud de l’Inde, du Kerala.

    Avec ses 35 millions d’habitants, cet État est connu pour être dirigé par des partis de gauche à forte tradition laïque. Jeudi dernier, son ministre en chef a été clair : « Cette loi fait partie d’un plan pour communautariser l’Inde. Elle n’a pas sa place au Kerala et n’y sera pas implémentée. »

    Le Kerala abrite une proportion de musulmans importante et les manifestations y sont particulièrement violentes. Ce mardi, 230 personnes ont été arrêtées par la police. Dans la foulée, 20 stars du cinéma Kéralais ont exprimé leur soutien à ces opposants

    Après le Kerala, le Maharashtra ?

    Les regards sont maintenant tournés vers l’État du Maharashtra, avec 115 millions d’habitants et la capitale économique Bombay. Son ministre en Chef a déclaré ce mardi qu’il pourrait bien lui aussi ne pas appliquer la loi.

    La confusion règne cependant sur ces déclarations de rébellion politique : il est en principe impossible pour un État de ne pas appliquer une loi votée par le Parlement national.

    http://www.rfi.fr/asie-pacifique/20191218-inde-etat-kerala-refuse-son-tour-appliquer-loi-citoyennete?ref=tw_i

    #résistance #Inde #xénophobie #islamophobie #citoyenneté #nationalité #apatridie

    –-------

    Les manifestations et résistance des citoyens :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/815991

    La source des protestations : le « Citizenship (Amendment) Act » :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/799546

  • How India is resisting #Citizenship_Amendment_Bill (#CAB) : A story in powerful pictures

    One of the pictures that have come to define the protests is of three girls standing on a wall and addressing a sea of protesters at Jamia Millia Islamia.

    India is currently witnessing two kinds of protests against CAA or the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. In the northeast states of India, the protest is against the Act’s implementation in their areas, as many fear it will cause a rush of immigrants that may alter their demographic and linguistic uniqueness. In the rest of India, like in Kerala, West Bengal and New Delhi, people are protesting against the exclusion of Muslims, alleging it to be against the values of the Constitution.

    The protests erupted across the country after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by both houses of Parliament and received Presidential assent soon after. The Act, which gives citizenship to non-Muslim refugees who escaped religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and entered the country before December 31, 2014, has been widely criticised. The amended Act has put the entire Northeast region and West Bengal on the boil as people fear that it might exacerbate the problem of illegal immigration.

    Violent protests were seen in New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia; parts of Assam are on lockdown; several peaceful demonstrations against the Act were held in various parts of the country; and more have been planned in the coming days across the country.

    While registering their protests, the protesters have been shouting slogans, singing songs and reading the Constitution as well.

    One of the pictures that have come to define the protests is of three girls standing on a wall and addressing a sea of protesters at Jamia Millia Islamia. But there are several other powerful pictures of the protests across the country that underscore why people from all sections of society consider the Act unconstitutional.

    https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/how-india-resisting-cab-story-powerful-pictures-114137
    #protestation #manifestations #résistance #Inde #xénophobie #islamophobie #citoyenneté #nationalité #apatridie

    –-------

    La source des protestations : le « Citizenship (Amendment) Act » :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/799546

    ping @odilon

    • Inde : cinq morts dans des manifestations contre la loi sur les réfugiés

      Cinq personnes ont péri depuis le début des manifestations dans le nord-est de l’Inde contre une loi facilitant l’obtention de la nationalité indienne par des réfugiés à condition qu’ils ne soient pas musulmans, ont annoncé dimanche les autorités.

      Dans certaines zones, internet a été coupé et un couvre-feu a été imposé pour tenter d’endiguer la contestation.

      La tension demeurait forte dans la plus grande ville de l’Etat d’Assam, où une nouvelle manifestation était attendue dimanche.

      La nouvelle loi facilite l’attribution de la citoyenneté indienne aux réfugiés d’Afghanistan, du Bangladesh et du Pakistan, à condition qu’ils ne soient pas musulmans. Elle concerne des minorités religieuses dont les hindous et les sikhs.

      En Assam, trois personnes sont décédées à l’hôpital après avoir été touchées par des balles tirées par la police. Une quatrième a péri dans l’échoppe où il dormait qui a été incendiée. Une cinquième personne a été battue à mort, selon les autorités.

      La circulation des trains a été suspendue dans certaines parties de l’est du pays à la suite de violences dans l’Etat du Bengale occidental où des manifestants ont incendié des trains et des cars.

      Le ministre de l’Intérieur Amit Shah a de nouveau lancé dimanche un appel au calme en affirmant que les cultures locales des Etats du Nord-Est n’étaient pas menacés, alors que certains redoutent un afflux d’immigrants du Bangladesh.

      « La culture, la langue, l’identité sociale et les droits politiques de nos frères et soeurs du Nord-Est demeureront », a déclaré M. Shah lors d’un rassemblement dans l’Etat de Jharkhand, selon la chaîne de télévision News18.

      L’opposition et des organisations de défense des droits de l’homme estiment que cette loi fait partie du programme nationaliste de M. Modi visant selon elles à marginaliser les 200 millions d’Indiens musulmans.

      Le vote de la loi a donné lieu cette semaine à des flambées de colère dans les deux chambres du parlement, un député allant jusqu’à la comparer aux lois anti-juives promulguées par le régime nazi en Allemagne dans les années 1930.

      https://www.courrierinternational.com/depeche/inde-cinq-morts-dans-des-manifestations-contre-la-loi-sur-les

  • How to Think About #Empire

    Boston Review speaks with #Arundhati_Roy on censorship, storytelling, and her problem with the term ‘postcolonialism.’

    In her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017), Arundhati Roy asks, “What is the acceptable amount of blood for good literature?” This relationship between the imagination and the stuff of real life—violence, injustice, power—is central to Roy’s writing, dating back to her Booker Prize–winning debut novel The God of Small Things (1997). For the twenty years between the release of her first and second novels, the Indian writer has dismayed many—those who preferred that she stick to storytelling and those who were comfortable with the turn of global politics around 9/11—by voicing her political dissent loudly and publicly.

    Her critical essays, many published in major Indian newspapers, take on nuclear weapons, big dams, corporate globalization, India’s caste system, the rise of Hindu nationalism, the many faces of empire, and the U.S. war machine. They have garnered both acclaim and anger. In India Roy has often been vilified by the media, and accused of sedi- tion, for her views on the Indian state, the corruption of the country’s courts, and India’s brutal counterinsurgency in Kashmir. She has, on one occasion, even been sent to prison for committing “contempt of court.” In spite of this, Roy remains outspoken. In this interview, she reflects on the relationship between the aesthetic and the political in her work, how to think about power, and what it means to live and write in imperial times.

    Avni Sejpal: In your book, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire (2004), you identify a few different pillars of empire: globalization and neoliberalism, militarism, and the corporate media. You write, “The project of corporate globalization has cracked the code of democracy. Free elections, a free press and an independent judiciary mean little when the free market has reduced them to commodities on sale to the highest bidder.” How would you update this today?

    Arundhati Roy: That was fourteen years ago! The updates now would include the ways in which big capital uses racism, caste-ism (the Hindu version of racism, more elaborate, and sanctioned by the holy books), and sexism and gender bigotry (sanctioned in almost every holy book) in intricate and extremely imaginative ways to reinforce itself, protect itself, to undermine democracy, and to splinter resistance. It doesn’t help that there has been a failure on the part of the left in general to properly address these issues. In India, caste—that most brutal system of social hierarchy—and capitalism have fused into a dangerous new alloy. It is the engine that runs modern India. Understanding one element of the alloy and not the other doesn’t help. Caste is not color-coded. If it were, if it were visible to the untrained eye, India would look very much like a country that practices apartheid.
    Another “update” that we ought to think about is that new technology could ensure that the world no longer needs a vast working class. What will then emerge is a restive population of people who play no part in economic activity—a surplus population if you like, one that will need to be managed and controlled. Our digital coordinates will ensure that controlling us is easy. Our movements, friendships, relationships, bank accounts, access to money, food, education, healthcare, information (fake, as well as real), even our desires and feelings—all of it is increasingly surveilled and policed by forces we are hardly aware of. How long will it be before the elite of the world feel that almost all the world’s problems could be solved if only they could get rid of that surplus population? If only they could delicately annihilate specific populations in specific ways—using humane and democratic methods, of course. Preferably in the name of justice and liberty. Nothing on an industrial scale, like gas chambers or Fat Men and Little Boys. What else are smart nukes and germ warfare for?

    AS: How does the rise of ethnonationalisms and populisms change your diagnosis?

    AR: Ethno-nationalism is only a particularly virulent strain of nationalism. Nationalism has long been part of the corporate global project. The freer global capital becomes, the harder national borders become. Colonialism needed to move large populations of people—slaves and indentured labor—to work in mines and on plantations. Now the new dispensation needs to keep people in place and move the money—so the new formula is free capital, caged labor. How else are you going to drive down wages and increase profit margins? Profit is the only constant. And it has worked to a point. But now capitalism’s wars for resources and strategic power (otherwise known as “just wars”) have destroyed whole countries and created huge populations of war refugees who are breaching borders. The specter of an endless flow of unwanted immigrants with the wrong skin color or the wrong religion is now being used to rally fascists and ethno-nationalists across the world. That candle is burning at both ends and down the middle, too. It cannot all be laid at the door of resource-plundering or strategic thinking. Eventually it develops a momentum and a logic of its own.

    As the storm builds, the ethno-nationalists are out harnessing the wind, giving each other courage. Israel has just passed a new bill that officially declares itself to be the national homeland of Jewish people, making its Arab citizenry second class. Unsurprising, but still, even by its own standards, pretty brazen. In the rest of the Middle East, of course, Israel and the United States are working hard at sharpening the Sunni–Shia divide, the disastrous end of which could be an attack on Iran. There are plans for Europe, too. Steve Bannon, a former aide of President Donald Trump, has started an organization, The Movement, headquartered in Brussels. The Movement aims to be “a clearing house for populist, nationalist movements in Europe.” It says it wants to bring about a “tectonic shift” in European politics. The idea seems to be to paralyze the European Union. A disintegrated EU would be a less formidable economic bloc, easier for the U.S. government to bully and bargain with. Yet, at the same time, uniting white supremacists in Europe and the United States is an attempt to help them to retain the power they feel is slipping away from them.

    Enough has been said about Trump’s immigration policies—the cages, the separation of infants and young children from their families—all of it just a little worse than what Barack Obama did during his presidency, to the sound of deafening silence. In India, too, the pin on the immigration grenade has just been pulled. In the spirit of the globalization of fascism, U.S. alt-right organizations are good friends of Hindu nationalists. Look to India, if you want to understand the world in microcosm. On July 30, 2018, the state of Assam published a National Register of Citizens (NRC). The register comes in lieu of a virtually nonexistent immigration policy. The NRC’s cut-off date of eligibility for Indian citizenship is 1971—the year that saw a massive influx of refugees from Bangladesh after the war with Pakistan. Most of them settled in Assam, which put enormous pressure on the local population, particularly on the most vulnerable indigenous communities. It led to escalating tensions, which have in the past boiled over into mass murder. In 1983 at least 2,000 Muslims were killed, with unofficial estimates putting the figure at five times that number. Now, at a time when Muslims are being openly demonized, and with the Hindu nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) in power, the unforgiveable policy lapse of half a decade is going to be addressed. The selection process, sifting through a population of millions of people who don’t all have “legacy papers”—birth certificates, identity papers, land records, or marriage certificates—is going to create chaos on an unimaginable scale. Four million people who have lived and worked in Assam for years, have been declared stateless—like the Rohingya of Burma were in 1982. They stand to lose homes and property that they have acquired over generations. Families are likely to be split up in entirely arbitrary ways. At best, they face the prospect of becoming a floating population of people with no rights, who will serve as pools of cheap labor. At worst, they could try and deport them to Bangladesh, which is unlikely to accept them. In the growing climate of suspicion and intolerance against Muslims, they could well suffer the fate of the Rohingya.

    The BJP has announced its plans to carry out this exercise in West Bengal, too. If that were ever to happen, tens of millions of people would be uprooted. That could easily turn into yet another Partition. Or even, heaven forbid, another Rwanda. It doesn’t end there. In the Muslim-majority State of Jammu and Kashmir, on the other hand, the BJP has declared that it wants to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which gives the state autonomous status and was the only condition under which it would accede to India in 1947. That means beginning a process of overwhelming the local population with Israeli-type settlements in the Kashmir Valley. Over the past thirty years, almost 70,000 people have died in Kashmir’s struggle for self-determination. Any move to eliminate Article 370 would be simply cataclysmic.

    Meanwhile vulnerable communities that have been oppressed, exploited, and excluded because of their identities—their caste, race, gender, religion, or ethnicity—are organizing themselves, too, along those very lines, to resist oppression and exclusion.
    While it is easy to take lofty moral positions, in truth, there is nothing simple about this problem. Because it is not a problem. It is a symptom of a great churning and a deep malaise. The assertion of ethnicity, race, caste, nationalism, sub-nationalism, patriarchy, and all kinds of identity, by exploiters as well as the exploited, has a lot—but of course not everything—to do with laying collective claim to resources (water, land, jobs, money) that are fast disappearing. There is nothing new here, except the scale at which its happening, the formations that keep changing, and the widening gap between what is said and what is meant. Few countries in the world stand to lose more from this way of thinking than India—a nation of minorities. The fires, once they start, could burn for a thousand years. If we go down this warren and choose to stay there, if we allow our imaginations to be trapped within this matrix, and come to believe there is no other way of seeing things, if we lose sight of the sky and the bigger picture, then we are bound to find ourselves in conflicts that spiral and spread and multiply and could very easily turn apocalyptic.

    AS: You once wrote that George W. Bush “achieved what writers, scholars, and activists have striven to achieve for decades. He has exposed the ducts. He has placed on full public view the working parts, the nuts and bolts of the apocalyptic apparatus of the American empire.” What did you mean by this, and ten years and two presidents later, is the American empire’s apocalyptic nature still so transparent?

    AR: I was referring to Bush’s unnuanced and not very intelligent commentary after the events of 9/11 and in the run-up to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. It exposed the thinking of the deep state in the United States. That transparency disappeared in the Obama years, as it tends to when Democrats are in power. In the Obama years, you had to ferret out information and piece it together to figure out how many bombs were being dropped and how many people were being killed, even as the acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize was being eloquently delivered. However differently their domestic politics plays out on home turf, it is a truism that the Democrats’ foreign policy has tended to be as aggressive as that of the Republicans. But since 9/11, between Bush and Obama, how many countries have been virtually laid to waste? And now we have the era of Trump, in which we learn that intelligence and nuance are relative terms. And that W, when compared to Trump, was a serious intellectual. Now U.S. foreign policy is tweeted to the world on an hourly basis. You can’t get more transparent than that. The Absurd Apocalypse. Who would have imagined that could be possible? But it is possible—more than possible—and it will be quicker in the coming if Trump makes the dreadful mistake of attacking Iran.

    AS: There is a marked stylistic difference between your two novels, The God of Small Things and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, published two decades apart. While both speak of politics and violence, the former is written in a style often described as lyrical realism. Beauty is one of its preoccupations, and it ends on a hopeful note. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, on the other hand, is a more urgent, fragmented, and bleak novel, where the losses are harder to sustain. Given the dominance of lyrical realism in the postcolonial and global novel, was your stylistic choice also a statement about the need to narrate global systems of domination differently? Is the novel an indirect call to rethink representation in Indian English fiction?

    AR: The God of Small Things and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness are different kinds of novels. They required different ways of telling a story. In both, the language evolved organically as I wrote them. I am not really aware of making “stylistic choices” in a conscious way. In The God of Small Things, I felt my way toward a language that would contain both English and Malayalam—it was the only way to tell that story of that place and those people. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness was a much riskier venture. To write it, I had to nudge the language of The God of Small Things off the roof of a very tall building, then rush down and gather up the shards. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is written in English but imagined in many languages—Hindi, Urdu, English... I wanted to try and write a novel that was not just a story told through a few characters whose lives play out against a particular backdrop. I tried to imagine the narrative form of the novel as if it were one of the great metropoles in my part of the world—ancient, modern, planned and unplanned. A story with highways and narrow alleys, old courtyards, new freeways. A story in which you would get lost and have to find your way back. A story that a reader would have to live inside, not consume. A story in which I tried not to walk past people without stopping for a smoke and a quick hello. One in which even the minor characters tell you their names, their stories, where they came from, and where they wish to go.

    I agree, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is fragmented, urgent—I love the idea of a novel written over almost ten years being urgent—but I wouldn’t call it bleak. Most of the characters, after all, are ordinary folks who refuse to surrender to the bleakness that is all around them, who insist on all kinds of fragile love and humor and vulgarity, which all thrive stubbornly in the most unexpected places. In the lives of the characters in both books, love, sorrow, despair, and hope are so tightly intertwined, and so transient, I am not sure I know which novel of the two is bleaker and which more hopeful.

    I don’t think in some of the categories in which your question is posed to me. For example, I don’t understand what a “global” novel is. I think of both my novels as so very, very local. I am surprised by how easily they have traveled across cultures and languages. Both have been translated into more than forty languages—but does that make them “global” or just universal? And then I wonder about the term postcolonial. I have often used it, too, but is colonialism really post-? Both novels, in different ways, reflect on this question. So many kinds of entrenched and unrecognized colonialisms still exist. Aren’t we letting them off the hook? Even “Indian English fiction” is, on the face of it, a pretty obvious category. But what does it really mean? The boundaries of the country we call India were arbitrarily drawn by the British. What is “Indian English”? Is it different from Pakistani English or Bangladeshi English? Kashmiri English? There are 780 languages in India, 22 of them formally “recognized.” Most of our Englishes are informed by our familiarity with one or more of those languages. Hindi, Telugu, and Malayalam speakers, for example, speak English differently. The characters in my books speak in various languages, and translate for and to each other. Translation, in my writing, is a primary act of creation. They, as well as the author, virtually live in the language of translation. Truly, I don’t think of myself as a writer of “Indian English fiction,” but as a writer whose work and whose characters live in several languages. The original is in itself part translation. I feel that my fiction comes from a place that is more ancient, as well as more modern and certainly less shallow, than the concept of nations.
    Is The Ministry of Utmost Happiness an indirect call to rethink representation in the Indian English novel? Not consciously, no. But an author’s conscious intentions are only a part of what a book ends up being. When I write fiction, my only purpose is to try and build a universe through which I invite readers to walk.

    AS: Toward the end of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness a character asks: “How to tell a shattered story?” The novel is teeming with characters whose lives have, in some way, been curtailed or marginalized by the limits of national imaginaries. And yet their stories are rich with humor, rage, agency, and vitality. How do you approach storytelling at a time when people are constantly being thwarted by the narratives of neo-imperial nation-states?

    AR: National imaginaries and nation-state narratives are only one part of what the characters in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness have to deal with. They also have to negotiate other stultified and limited kinds of imaginations—of caste, religious bigotry, gender stereotyping. Of myth masquerading as history, and of history masquerading as myth. It is a perilous business, and a perilous story to try to tell. In India today, storytelling is being policed not only by the state, but also by religious fanatics, caste groups, vigilantes, and mobs that enjoy political protection, who burn cinema halls, who force writers to withdraw their novels, who assassinate journalists. This violent form of censorship is becoming an accepted mode of political mobilization and constituency building. Literature, cinema, and art are being treated as though they are policy statements or bills waiting to be passed in Parliament that must live up to every self-appointed stakeholders’ idea of how they, their community, their history, or their country must be represented. Not surprisingly, bigotry of all kinds continues to thrive and be turned against those who do not have political backing or an organized constituency. I recently saw a Malayalam film in the progressive state of Kerala called Abrahaminde Santhathikal (The Sons of Abraham). The vicious, idiot-criminal villains were all black Africans. Given that there is no community of Africans in Kerala, they had to be imported into a piece of fiction in order for this racism to be played out! We can’t pin the blame for this kind of thing on the state. This is society. This is people. Artists, filmmakers, actors, writers—South Indians who are mocked by North Indians for their dark skins in turn humiliating Africans for the very same reason. Mind-bending.

    Trying to write, make films, or practice real journalism in a climate like this is unnerving. The hum of the approaching mob is like a permanent background score. But that story must also be told.
    How to tell a shattered story? is a question that one of the main characters in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Tilo—Tilotamma—who lives in an illegal Guest House in a Delhi graveyard, has scribbled in her notebook. She answers it herself: By slowly becoming everybody? No. By slowly becoming everything. Tilo is an architect, an archivist of peculiar things, a deathbed stenographer, a teacher, and the author of strange, unpublished tales. The scribble in her notebook is a contemplation about the people, animals, djinns, and spirits with whom she has ended up sharing her living quarters. Considering the debates swirling around us these days, Tilo would probably be severely rebuked for thinking in this way. She would be told that “slowly becoming everyone,” or, even worse, “everything,” was neither practical nor politically correct. Which is absolutely true. However, for a teller of stories, perhaps all that doesn’t matter. In times that are as crazy and as fractured as ours, trying “to slowly become everything” is probably a good place for a writer to start.

    AS: In addition to writing novels, you are also a prolific essayist and political activist. Do you see activism, fiction, and nonfiction as extensions of each other? Where does one begin and the other end for you?

    AR: I am not sure I have the stubborn, unwavering relentlessness it takes to make a good activist. I think that “writer” more or less covers what I do. I don’t actually see my fiction and nonfiction as extensions of each other. They are pretty separate. When I write fiction, I take my time. It is leisurely, unhurried, and it gives me immense pleasure. As I said, I try to create a universe for readers to walk through.

    The essays are always urgent interventions in a situation that is closing down on people. They are arguments, pleas, to look at something differently. My first political essay, “The End of Imagination,” was written after India’s 1998 nuclear tests. The second, “The Greater Common Good,” came after the Supreme Court lifted its stay on the building of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River. I didn’t know that they were just the beginning of what would turn out to be twenty years of essay writing. Those years of writing, traveling, arguing, being hauled up by courts, and even going to prison deepened my understanding of the land I lived in and the people I lived among, in ways I could not have imagined. That understanding built up inside me, layer upon layer.
    Had I not lived those twenty years the way I did, I would not have been able to write The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. But when I write fiction, unlike when I write political essays, I don’t write from a place of logic, reason, argument, fact. The fiction comes from years of contemplating that lived experience, turning it over and over until it appears on my skin like sweat. I write fiction with my skin. By the time I started to write The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, I felt like a sedimentary rock trying to turn itself into a novel.

    AS: In Power Politics (2001), you wrote: “It’s as though the people of India have been rounded up and loaded onto two convoys of trucks (a huge big one and a tiny little one) that have set off resolutely in opposite directions. The tiny convoy is on its way to a glittering destination somewhere near the top of the world. The other convoy just melts into the darkness and disappears. . . . For some of us, life in India is like being suspended between two of the trucks, one in each convoy, and being neatly dismembered as they move apart, not bodily, but emotionally and intellectually.” For nations around the world that have had abrupt and accelerated introductions to globalization and neoliberalism, would you say the convoy headed for the top of the world has crashed? And what has become of those who are being slowly dismembered?

    AR: It has not crashed yet. But its wheels are mired, and the engine is overheating.

    As for those who are being slowly pulled apart, they have been polarized and are preparing to dismember each other. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the personification of what you could call corporate Hindu nationalism. Like most members of the BJP, he is a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Hindu nationalist cultural guild that is the most powerful organization in India today. The BJP is really just the political arm of the RSS. The aim of the RSS, which was founded in 1925, has long been to change the Indian constitution and to officially declare India a Hindu nation. Modi began his mainstream political career in October 2001, when his party installed him (unelected) as Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat. In February 2002 (at the height of post 9/11 international Islamophobia) came the Gujarat pogrom in which Muslims were massacred in broad daylight by mobs of Hindu vigilantes, and tens of thousands were driven from their homes. Within months of this, several heads of India’s major corporations publicly backed Modi, a man with no political track record, as their pick for prime minister. Perhaps this was because they saw in him a decisive and ruthless politician who could ram through new economic policies and snuff out the protests and the restlessness in the country that the Congress Party government seemed unable to deal with (meanwhile delaying the implementation of the hundreds of memorandums of understanding signed by the government with various corporate entities). It took twelve years; in May 2014, Modi became prime minister with a massive political majority in Parliament. He was welcomed onto the world’s stage by the international media and heads of state who believed he would make India a dream destination for international finance.

    Although his few years in power have seen his favorite corporations and the families of his close allies multiply their wealth several times over, Modi has not been the ruthless, efficient free marketeer that people had hoped for. The reasons for this have more to do with incompetence than with ideology. For example, late one night in November 2016, Modi appeared on TV and announced his policy of “demonetization.” From that moment, 80 percent of Indian currency notes were no longer legal tender. It was supposed to be a lightning strike on hoarders of “black money.” A country of more than a billion people ground to a halt. Nothing on this scale has ever been attempted by any government before. It was an act of hubris that belonged in a totalitarian dictatorship. For weeks together, daily wage workers, cab drivers, small shop keepers stood in long lines, hour upon hour, hoping to get their meager savings converted into new bank notes. All the currency, almost to the last rupee, “black” as well as “white,” was returned to the banks. Officially at least, there was no “black money.” It was a big-budget, razzle-dazzle flop.

    Demonetization and the chaotic new Goods and Services Tax have knocked the wind out of small businesses and ordinary people. For big investors, or for the most ordinary person, this sort of caprice on the part of a government that says it is “business-friendly” is lethal. It’s a bald declaration that its word cannot be trusted and is not legally binding.

    Demonetization also emptied the coffers of almost all political parties, since their unaccounted-for wealth is usually held in cash. The BJP, on the other hand, has mysteriously emerged as one of the richest, if not the richest, political party in the world. Hindu nationalism has come to power on mass murder and the most dangerously bigoted rhetoric that could—and has—ripped through the fabric of a diverse population. A few months ago, four of the most senior judges of the Supreme Court held a press conference in which they warned that democracy in India was in grave danger. Nothing like it has ever happened before. As hatred is dripped into peoples’ souls, every day, with sickened hearts we wake up to Muslim-lynching videos put up on YouTube by gloating vigilantes, news of Dalits being publicly flogged, of women and infants being raped, of thousands marching in support of people who have been arrested for rape, of those convicted for mass murder in the Gujarat pogrom being let out of jail while human rights defenders and thousands of indigenous people are in jail on charges of sedition, of children’s history textbooks being written by complete fools, of glaciers melting and of water tables plummeting just as fast as our collective IQ.
    But it is all OK, because we are buying more weapons from Europe and the United States than almost anyone else. So, India, which has the largest population of malnutritioned children in the world, where hundreds of thousands of debt-ridden farmers and farm laborers have committed suicide, where it is safer to be a cow than it is to be a woman, is still being celebrated as one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

    AS: The word “empire” has often been invoked as a uniquely European and U.S. problem. Do you see India and other postcolonial nations as adapting older forms of empire in new geopolitical clothing? In The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, you show us how the Indian government has developed strategies of surveillance and counterterrorism that are, to put it mildly, totalitarian in their scope. How can we think of empire now in the Global South, especially at a time when postcolonial nations are emulating the moral calculus of their old colonial masters?

    AR: It is interesting that countries that call themselves democracies— India, Israel, and the United States—are busy running military occupations. Kashmir is one of the deadliest and densest military occupations in the world. India transformed from colony to imperial power virtually overnight. There has not been a day since the British left India in August 1947 that the Indian army and paramilitary have not been deployed within the country’s borders against its “own people”: Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Kashmir, Jammu, Hyderabad, Goa, Punjab, Bengal, and now Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand. The dead number in the tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands. Who are these dangerous citizens who need to be held down with military might? They are indigenous people, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, communists. The pattern that emerges is telling. What it shows quite clearly is an “upper”-caste Hindu state that views everyone else as an enemy. There are many who see Hinduism itself as a form of colonialism—the rule of Aryans over Dravidians and other indigenous peoples whose histories have been erased and whose deposed rulers have been turned into the vanquished demons and asuras of Hindu mythology. The stories of these battles continue to live on in hundreds of folktales and local village festivals in which Hinduism’s “demons” are other peoples’ deities. That is why I am uncomfortable with the word postcolonialism.

    AS: Talk of dissent and social justice has become mainstream in the age of Trump—but social media hashtags often stand in for direct action, and corporations frequently use the language of uplift and social responsibility while doubling down on unethical business practices. Has protest been evacuated of its potential today? And in such an environment, what kind of dissent is capable of cracking the edifice of empire?

    AR: You are right. Corporations are hosting happiness fairs and dissent seminars and sponsoring literature festivals in which free speech is stoutly defended by great writers. Dissent Is the Cool (and Corporate) New Way To Be. What can we do about that? When you think about the grandeur of the civil rights movement in the United States, the anti–Vietnam War protests, it makes you wonder whether real protest is even possible any more. It is. It surely is. I was in Gothenburg, Sweden, recently, when the largest Nazi march since World War II took place. The Nazis were outnumbered by anti-Nazi demonstrators, including the ferocious Antifa, by more than ten to one. In Kashmir, unarmed villagers face down army bullets. In Bastar, in Central India, the armed struggle by the poorest people in the world has stopped some of the richest corporations in their tracks. It is important to salute people’s victories, even if they don’t always get reported on TV. At least the ones we know about. Making people feel helpless, powerless, and hopeless is part of the propaganda.

    But what is going on in the world right now is coming from every direction and has already gone too far. It has to stop. But how? I don’t have any cure-all advice, really. I think we all need to become seriously mutinous. I think, at some point, the situation will become unsustainable for the powers that be. The tipping point will come. An attack on Iran, for example, might be that moment. It would lead to unthinkable chaos, and out of it something unpredictable would arise. The great danger is that, time and time again, the storm of rage that builds up gets defused and coopted into yet another election campaign. We fool ourselves into believing that the change we want will come with fresh elections and a new president or prime minister at the helm of the same old system. Of course, it is important to bounce the old bastards out of office and bounce new ones in, but that can’t be the only bucket into which we pour our passion. Frankly, as long as we continue to view the planet as an endless “resource,” as long as we uphold the rights of individuals and corporations to amass infinite wealth while others go hungry, as long as we continue to believe that governments do not have the responsibility to feed, clothe, house, and educate everyone—all our talk is mere posturing. Why do these simple things scare people so much? It is just common decency. Let’s face it: the free market is not free, and it doesn’t give a shit about justice or equality.

    AS: The vexed question of violent struggle against domination has come up at different moments in history. It has been debated in the context of Frantz Fanon’s writing, Gandhi, Black Lives Matter, Palestine, and the Naxalite movement, to name a few. It is a question that also comes up in your fiction and nonfiction. What do you make of the injunction against the use of violence in resistance from below?

    AR: I am against unctuous injunctions and prescriptions from above to resistance from below. That’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Oppressors telling the oppressed how they would like to be resisted? Fighting people will choose their own weapons. For me, the question of armed struggle versus passive resistance is a tactical one, not an ideological one. For example, how do indigenous people who live deep inside the forest passively resist armed vigilantes and thousands of paramilitary forces who surround their villages at night and burn them to the ground? Passive resistance is political theater. It requires a sympathetic audience. There isn’t one inside the forest. And how do starving people go on a hunger strike?

    In certain situations, preaching nonviolence can be a kind of violence. Also, it is the kind of terminology that dovetails beautifully with the “human rights” discourse in which, from an exalted position of faux neutrality, politics, morality, and justice can be airbrushed out of the picture, all parties can be declared human rights offenders, and the status quo can be maintained.

    AS: While this volume is called Evil Empire, a term borrowed from Ronald Reagan’s description of the Soviet Union, there are many who think of empire as the only sustainable administrative and political mechanism to manage large populations. How might we challenge dominant voices, such as Niall Ferguson, who put so much faith in thinking with the grain of empire? On the flipside, how might we speak to liberals who put their faith in American empire’s militarism in a post–9/11 era? Do you see any way out of the current grip of imperial thinking?

    AR: The “managed populations” don’t necessarily think from Ferguson’s managerial perspective. What the managers see as stability, the managed see as violence upon themselves. It is not stability that underpins empire. It is violence. And I don’t just mean wars in which humans fight humans. I also mean the psychotic violence against our dying planet.

    I don’t believe that the current supporters of empire are supporters of empire in general. They support the American empire. In truth, captalism is the new empire. Capitalism run by white capitalists. Perhaps a Chinese empire or an Iranian empire or an African empire would not inspire the same warm feelings? “Imperial thinking,” as you call it, arises in the hearts of those who are happy to benefit from it. It is resisted by those who are not. And those who do not wish to be.

    Empire is not just an idea. It is a kind of momentum. An impetus to dominate that contains within its circuitry the inevitability of overreach and self-destruction. When the tide changes, and a new empire rises, the managers will change, too. As will the rhetoric of the old managers. And then we will have new managers, with new rhetoric. And there will be new populations who rise up and refuse to be managed.

    http://bostonreview.net/literature-culture-global-justice/arundhati-roy-avni-sejpal-challenging-%E2%80%9Cpost-%E2%80%9D-postcolo
    #post-colonialisme #terminologie #mots #vocabulaire

    • A propos du #Cachemire (et un peu d’#israel aussi) :

      The BJP has announced its plans to carry out this exercise in West Bengal, too. If that were ever to happen, tens of millions of people would be uprooted. That could easily turn into yet another Partition. Or even, heaven forbid, another Rwanda. It doesn’t end there. In the Muslim-majority State of Jammu and Kashmir, on the other hand, the BJP has declared that it wants to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which gives the state autonomous status and was the only condition under which it would accede to India in 1947. That means beginning a process of overwhelming the local population with Israeli-type settlements in the Kashmir Valley. Over the past thirty years, almost 70,000 people have died in Kashmir’s struggle for self-determination. Any move to eliminate Article 370 would be simply cataclysmic.

      It is interesting that countries that call themselves democracies— India, Israel, and the United States—are busy running military occupations. Kashmir is one of the deadliest and densest military occupations in the world. India transformed from colony to imperial power virtually overnight.

      Et 6 mois plus tard :
      https://seenthis.net/messages/796004

      #Arundhati_Roy #Inde

    • peau noires ...

      I recently saw a Malayalam film in the progressive state of Kerala called Abrahaminde Santhathikal (The Sons of Abraham). The vicious, idiot-criminal villains were all black Africans. Given that there is no community of Africans in Kerala, they had to be imported into a piece of fiction in order for this racism to be played out! We can’t pin the blame for this kind of thing on the state. This is society. This is people. Artists, filmmakers, actors, writers—South Indians who are mocked by North Indians for their dark skins in turn humiliating Africans for the very same reason. Mind-bending.

      #racisme #Inde #Kerala

  • Understanding the 42-year-old Idukki dam which is now saving Kerala
    https://theprint.in/opinion/in-monsoon-battered-kerala-idukki-dam-has-stood-tall-to-prevent-floods/97579

    (article publié avant la catastrophe, d’où le titre…)

    In #Kerala, 14 dams, two weirs and a barrage have been constructed to tap the potential of this river, while Tamil Nadu has built a dam and a weir.

  • Montagnes et montagnards des Suds dans la mondialisation touristique : imaginaires et pratiques
    Isabelle Sacareau
    Montagnes et montagnards des Suds dans la mondialisation touristique : imaginaires et pratiques [Texte intégral]
    Mountains and Mountain Dwellers of the Global South and the Globalisation of Tourism : Imaginaries and Practices [Texte intégral | traduction]
    Etienne Jacquemet
    Pourquoi vient-on voir l’#Everest ? Représentations collectives et pratiques touristiques dans la région du #Khumbu [Texte intégral]
    Why Do People Come to See Mount Everest ? Collective Representations and Tourism Practices in the Khumbu Region [Texte intégral | traduction]
    Lucie Dejouhanet
    Le tourisme dans les montagnes du centre du #Kérala (#Inde du Sud) : à la croisée des regards posés sur les populations forestières [Texte intégral]
    Tourism in the Mountains of Central Kerala (South India) : at the Crossroads of Attitudes Towards Forest Populations [Texte intégral | traduction]
    Evelyne Gauché
    Mise en tourisme d’un village shui dans la province montagneuse du #Guizhou (sud de la #Chine) : imaginaires et instrumentalisation politique du paysage [Texte intégral]
    Tourismification of a Shui Village in the Mountainous Province of Guizhou (South China) : Imaginaries and the Use of Landscape for Political Ends [Texte intégral | traduction]


    https://journals.openedition.org/rga/3827
    #revue #montagnes #montagnards #tourisme