All posts by Ravi Sundaram

Chinese memories

Suddenly the other day, on the 3 of June 2009, in a bizarre flash of memory I went back two decades ago, June 3 1989. As is well known, hundreds of students in Beijing had begun a protest a few months ago with wide-ranging critiques of the regime – more democracy, end to corruption and workers rights. They were joined by workers, office goers, Beijing residents, local party officials, just about everyone else. Soon the protests had spread all over China, there were demonstrations everywhere. A Chinese friend of mine was in Tiananmen Square, the main centre of the protests. He later told me – “we were all giddy, everyone traveled free in trains to Beijing, people helped us with food and water on the streets, we sang the Internationale and all the old revolutionary songs, suddenly they felt real not false…” All went to Beijing.

For many on the left in India, China occupies a peculiar, proximate place. The events of 1956 in Hungary and 1968 in Czechoslovakia, when Soviet tanks crushed uprisings, did not cause the storms they did in the European left. But China was different – it was in Asia, a large peasant society with an old civilization, and the site of one of the great revolutionary transformations that had begun in the nineteenth century. China had to be different. When the Naxalite militants scribbled ‘China’s path is our path’ or ‘Listen to Radio Beijing’ on the walls of Calcutta in 1969, they were probably out of their mind, but only just.
Continue reading Chinese memories

Equality of dead Souls

There is a terrifying equality of the dead in Mumbai last week. The provisional list of 169 dead carried in various papers has people from every faith (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish), and from all over the world, bourgeois and proletarian. It’s a chilling archive of dead souls, many without a name.


1. Hemant Karkare (Police)
2. Ashokrao Kamthe (Police)
3. Tukaram Ombale (Police) Continue reading Equality of dead Souls

The Millennium that Never Came


by Mike Keefe - The Denver Post
by Mike Keefe – The Denver Post


One day the story of the decade gone by will be unpacked by others. This was a decade that was bizarre and terrifying – cluttered with event-scenes: massacres, spectacles, war, endless staged media events, and a mysterious violence with shadow perpetrators whose names changed every day in police stories – a million changing acronyms of ‘terror’ groups.

Continue reading The Millennium that Never Came

Pakistan’s student movement

I saw this first in an incredible Pakistani blog on the matrial law shared by fellow Kafila-ite Mahmood Farooqui.

Lets face it, right now the Indian media can learn a few things from its Pakistani counterparts, let alone all of us…

This report is about Punjab University terrorised by Jamaat goons for many years, this is a turning point, when students rallied against the JIT, whose local leaders had grabbed Imran from a demo at the University and handed him over to the police…

Students rise for Imran, against IJT Unprecedented campus march

By Mansoor Malik

LAHORE, Nov 15: A large number of Punjab University students on Thursday held a protest demonstration against Islami Jamiat Tulaba (IJT) for its manhandling of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf Chief Imran Khan.

The event was unprecedented in the history of campuses in Punjab, which have been under the Jamiat’s rule for decades. Continue reading Pakistan’s student movement

Mashelkar, The Indian Express and me

I guess like many in this blog, I have a sadomasochistic relationship to the Indian Express. I hate the neo-liberal campaign strategy of the Express and cannot stand its crass advocacy of a bizarre ‘let the market decide’ logic, but, and this is important – secretly enjoy its city reporting. Its strange coverage on the Mashelkar report falls squarely in the first – neo-liberal advocacy.  A quick recap.

Some days ago activists Chan Park and Achal Prabhala ‘outed’ the report of the Mashelkar committee. Essentially the report gave a thumbs up to the international pharma industry in its recommendations. Not surprising – given the current climate, the power of lobbyists, and rule by ‘expert’ committee. (Though neo-liberal rhetoric targets the state, it works perfectly through it). Anyway Park and Prabhala showed that so eager was the committee to please the international industry that it copied verbatim a part of the submission made by Shamnad Basheer, whose own research had been supported by a consortium of multinational firms. This is what Park and Prabhala write about the Mashlekar innovations:

Continue reading Mashelkar, The Indian Express and me

Exiles from the Republic of Numbers

I was watching news television a few nights ago – it was a programme on the Afzal death penalty. As the CNN-IBN anchor aggressively postured on screen, the viewers were invited to SMS their vote on the hanging, which was updated constantly on screen. This seemed the most natural thing to do – people are asked to vote instantly on TV contests, social issues, sports etc. Telephone companies make massive profits in this system, which is shared with TV networks. That seems obvious. There is another story here, behind the obscenity of like sending in your votes on the issue of the death penalty. Never mind that many of these polls in news television are often carefully staged, a friend of mine who works at a network told me that when ‘voting’ is low, staffers are asked to reach for their phones or call their friends… Continue reading Exiles from the Republic of Numbers