Tag Archives: AL Jazeera

The voices we didn’t hear: K.S. Narendran

Guest Post by K.S. NARENDRAN

As I write this, we are entering the ninth month after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. I would not want it to be forgotten soon. My wife Chandrika Sharma was on that flight.

Over the past few months, as public attention has shifted to other issues, the long-drawn search for MH370 has seen many developments, ranging from the disturbing to the outrageous. The ineptitude of the Malaysian authorities was on public display, particularly in the early weeks of March 2014, and so merits no further comment. What is intriguing, even worrisome, though is that relevant institutions have been inaccessible or indifferent, be it in terms of pushing for the truth and seeking accountability, or in responding to the affected families’ needs. What follows is my own experience, my take.

The Indian Government: Mute and invisible

In the first week following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines’ Flight 370, I had asked whether our government had any view on the incident, and any role in responding to it. After all, Indian citizens were involved. This evoked an interesting, if not distressing, set of responses. Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, E Ahmed, deemed the election campaign a higher priority, and opined that the Indian Embassy (at Kuala Lumpur) ought to have stepped in. In informal conversation, many were sympathetic with this view. The Ministry of Civil Aviation and the DGCA seemed similarly indifferent, or saw no role for themselves in responding to the incident or in assisting the affected families. Even the state governments, otherwise quick to take offence at any perceived slight or injury to sons and daughters of their ‘soil’, remained untouched, conspicuous by their silence. The only face of the government that I saw were the CB-CID Special Branch of the Police, the Indian arm of the Interpol and the Intelligence Bureau.  Each asked the same set of questions, suggesting that they work in silos,  that they don’t trust each other. Continue reading The voices we didn’t hear: K.S. Narendran

End of Postcolonialism and the Challenge for ‘Non-European’ Thought

A lively debate has been going on lately in Al Jazeera, following the question posed by Hamid Dabashi in an article provocatively titled “Can Non-Europeans Think“? Dabashi’s piece, published earlier in January this year was a response to an article by Santiago Zabala, Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of Barcelona. Zabala’s article, entitled “Slavoj Zizek and the Role of the Philosopher”, was actually on an entirely different issue, as will be evident from the title. Zabala attempts, in this article, to read in Zizek’s persona and oeuvre, the possible implications for the philosopher as such. He dwells on Zizek as a figure who is at once a philosopher and a public intellectual – a role not very easily available, according to him, to academic philosophers.

If most significant philosophers become points of reference within the philosophical community, he says, “few have managed to overcome its boundaries and become public intellectuals intensely engaged in our cultural and political life as did Hannah Arendt (with the Eichmann trial), Jean-Paul Sartre (in the protests of May 1968) and Michel Foucault (with the Iranian revolution).” Zabala explains this rare ability/ possibility by invoking Edward Said on the ‘outsider’ status of the intellectual and by underlining the direct engagement of the thought of such philosophers with contemporary events. He says:

These philosophers became public intellectuals not simply because of their original philosophical projects or the exceptional political events of their epochs, but rather because their thoughts were drawn by these events. But how can an intellectual respond to the events of his epoch in order to contribute in a productive manner?

In order to respond, as Edward Said once said, the intellectual has to be “an outsider, living in self-imposed exile, and on the margins of society”, that is, free from academic, religious and political establishments; otherwise, he or she will simply submit to the inevitability of events.

Read the full essay here at Critical Encounters.

Journalism of the People: You Feel Like You Gettin’ Real Noose!

And Director General of the al-Jazeera network explains why al-Jazeera could see the Arab revolution coming when the WEstern media could not: Continue reading Journalism of the People: You Feel Like You Gettin’ Real Noose!