Anna Hazare and Corruption

After talking about corruption and Balram’s entrepreneurship in escaping the system last week, I thought Anna Hazare’s hunger strike against corruption was representative of this battle. Not only is the hunger strike representative of Gandhian principles in practice in modern India, but also of the Two Indias, one of democratic principles and one of continued corruption. Here’s an article that describes the situation in more depth:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903639404576517653773437260.html

Another aspect of this protest that is interesting is the increase in support through social media, which resonates with my experience because of many of my cousins’ statuses regarding the issue.

The White Tiger and Crime and Punishment

Although the narrators in The White Tiger and Crime and Punishment both proclaim themselves murderers in the opening chapters of the books, I thought their narrative, experiences, motives, and outlook were drastically different. Balram seems to accept his amorality as the only way to escape the chicken coop. In this way his motivation is clear. On the other hand, Raskolnikov, the narrator in Crime and Punishment, seems like a product of society and is unable to grapple with his crime. While Balram feels he has escaped the chicken coop and his murder was justified, Raskolnikov can’t find meaning in his murder or in his life and ultimately becomes a slave to the systems set up by society when he turns himself into the police. Balram is able to escape and eventually navigate and profit from the corrupt systems in India, but Raskolnikov, despite his opportunity to defy the system, falls prey to his own fear of being discovered.

Two Indias

In The White Tiger the narrator differentiates between a Dark India and a Light India.

“Please understand, Your Excellency, that India is two countries in one: an India of Light, and an India of Darkness. The ocean brings light to my country. Every place on the map of India near the ocean is well off. But the river brings darkness to India—the black river (12)”.

I’ve found that recently this theme has been pursued on multiple levels. For example, in this campaign, the famous Bollywood actor, Amitabh Bachchan takes measures to make a distinction between the two. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP-TwHwLc98

Additionally, it seems like there is truly a diversity of income level and life style choices in India. I came to know of the Maharaja Express, which is a luxury train trip that takes travelers across prominent cities in India. The stark contrast between this luxurious vacation package and the poverty of so many in India is just one example of the gap between the rich and the poor.

Maharaja Express: http://www.rirtl.com/

Kipling

I know we primarily talked about Rudyard Kipling at the beginning of the quarter, but I came across this quote of his the other day.

 

“Now it is not good for the Christian’s health to hustle the

Hindu brown. For the Christian riles and the Hindu smiles

and weareth the Christian down ;

And the end of the fight is a tombstone while with the name of

the late deceased and the epitaph drear ,

‘A fool lies here who tried to hustle the east’ “.

 

I was surprised that he characterized those who tried to hustle the east as fools. His belief that it’s harmful towards “Christian’s health” to get involved in Indian’s affairs seems to oppose his argument in The White Man’s Burden, which says that despite the harm incurred from trying to help it’s worth the effort. He seems to be defending the Indian’s ability to resist the colonizing power in this quote. Any other interpretations?

Divorce in China

In class yesterday we talked about how marriage can often times be an economic arrangement. I thought this article about divorce in China brought up some really interesting points about that. The article talks about how money can contribute to these quick marriages and divorces.

“Given these money worries, young people may see economic benefits of moving in together as soon as possible, to get out of the parental home and to save money. Even after marriage, many couples remain financially dependent on their parents, causing more problems.”

Additionally, the article mentions the one-child policy’s role in marriages and divorces. It mentions the problems that arise when neither parent wants to take custody of a child after the divorce. Often times the parents don’t want to take custody because they want to ensure family security in their next marriage with a child. This seemed particularly interesting to me because not only are people seeking economic and individual freedom through their marriage, but also are looking to secure familial relations as is apparent from the one-child policy’s role in divorce. It seems like they’re trying to achieve individual freedom, yet hold on to the stability of a family structure. I also thought it was interesting that a non-Western country is seeing an increase in divorce rates, which is typically thought of as a Western problem.

 

http://www.npr.org/2010/11/09/131200166/china-s-me-generation-sends-divorce-rate-soaring

Muslim Majority in Europe

I’m sure everyone has heard about the recent attacks in Norway this weekend. Many of the articles I’ve read on it are suggesting that the suspect went on an anti-Muslim crusade. With an increasing number of Muslims in European countries and predictions that France will be a majority Muslim country in 20 to 30 years, with many countries following the trend in the near future, it will be interesting to see how European countries will re-identify themselves and come to view “us” versus the “other”. I also found an article from 2008 that states that “Now the wearing of the burqa has been ruled ‘incompatible’ with French values—and nationality.” Thoughts?

http://www.economist.com/node/11751650

Manto and Vonnegut

After reading Saadat Hasan Manto’s Black Margins, I found the satirical nature of his writing similar to that of Kurt Vonnegut’s writing in Slaughterhouse-Five. Both authors seem to jest at the intelligence of the characters depicted and the general sanity of the given scenario. I think this is particularly interesting when you consider the context of these texts. Black Margins is written during India’s independence and the devastating partition of India and Pakistan, while Slaughterhouse-Five is written about World War II experiences. This makes me wonder how large of a role the historical backdrop plays in these texts and if the similar writing styles and devices are a result of the circumstances.