Category Archives: News

Journalism as Genocide: Are journalists like Rahul Kanwal, Arnab Goswami & Sudhir Chaudhary entrepreneurs of hate in India?

In the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in India, mainstream Indian journalists like Rahul Kanwal of TV Today (owned by India Today), Arnab Goswami (founder of Republic TV) and Sudhir Chaudhary (TV anchor and editor, Zee News) have come under fire for promoting hate against a particular community for spreading the Covid-19 virus. Of late, the targets of their programmes have been the Nizamuddin Markaz of the Tableeghi Jamaat in New Delhi and Madrasas.

According to Suchitra Vijayan, a lawyer and founder of The Polis Project, who says that hate is a big business, this kind of journalism could fall under the category of Genocide journalism, as it establishes a “… pattern of presenting and commenting on the news” that “transforms political debate into righteous passion against individuals and groups that disagree with the status quo.”

The modus operandi of this sort of journalism is as follows: “The targets of violence are marked with precision, taken as public hostages and accused of being enemies of the state. Later they explain what has to be done to this enemy. Through constant repetition, they construct a political, moral and historical alibi that eventually becomes the accepted truth. In this steady journey into the abyss of intolerance, journalists and news anchors become agents of the state and even annihilators of society. All the ingredients for conditioning a democratic alibi that existed in Nazi Germany and Rwanda exist in India today.”

Read the full text of the essay here.

Kitaab announces new Editor

Namrata copy

Kitaab has appointed Mumbai-based writer Namrata as its new Editor with immediate effect.

Namrata is not new to Kitaab and she has been writing for the website for a while now.

She replaces Mitali Chakravarty who recently announced her departure from Kitaab to found an online journal of her own. Kitaab wishes her all the best in her new venture.

Namrata is a published author who enjoys writing stories and think pieces on travel, relationships and gender. She is a UEA alumni and has studied travel writing at the University of Sydney.

She is also an independent editor and a book reviewer. Her writings can be found on various sites and magazines like the Asian Review of Books, Contemporary South Asia Journal of King’s College-London, Mad in Asia, The Friday Times, The Scroll, Feminism in India, The Brown Orient Journal, Inkspire Journal, Moonlight Journal, The Same, Chronic Pain India and Cafe Dissensus.

Her short stories have been a part of various anthologies and has also published two short story collections of her own. She is currently working on her debut novel. She loves travelling the length and breadth of the world and enjoys capturing the magic of life in her words. She is always in pursuit of a new country and a new story. She lives in Mumbai.

A dissident Chinese novelist finds echoes of Mao, and Orwell

(From the New York Times. Link to the complete article given below)

HONG KONG — Ma Jian, an exiled Chinese novelist who lives in London, took the stage at a packed Hong Kong theater last month and asked the audience a question: Who among them had read “1984”?

Mr. Ma, 65, was at the annual Hong Kong International Literary Festival to promote “China Dream,” his satirical novel about President Xi Jinping’s eponymous domestic propaganda campaign. He told the crowd that the book, published last month in English (Counterpoint will offer it in the United States in May 2019), showed how the dystopian future that George Orwell’s fiction once warned about had become a reality in the Chinese mainland under Mr. Xi’s leadership.

“I’m going to carve this book in stone and bring it to Orwell’s grave,” he said, before reading a passage from it that he had copied onto his iPhone.

“China Dream” is a sharper political allegory than Mr. Ma’s earlier novels. It crackles with bruising satire of Chinese officialdom, and an acerbic wit that vaguely recalls Gary Shteyngart’s sendup of Russian oligarchs in “Absurdistan,” or even Nikolai Gogol’s portraits of Russia’s provincial aristocrats in “Dead Souls.”

Yet even for Mr. Ma, whose work is banned in mainland China, the novel is especially provocative because it makes a critique that is rarely uttered aloud these days by ordinary Chinese: that censorship and repression under a Xi-controlled Communist Party bears an eerie resemblance to that of the Cultural Revolution.

Read more at the New York Times link here

News: Launch of Miniya Chatterji’s Indian Instincts

Indian Instincts

Indian Instincts

Indian Instincts by Miniya Chatterji was launched at the Google headquarters, Singapore on June 29, 2018. The launch included a panel discussion with authors Eunice Olsen, Miniya Chatterji and Zafar Anjum, journalist, filmmaker and chief editor, Kitaab, Singapore. Indian Instincts is a collection of 15 essays that offer an argument for what the book describes as ‘greater equality and opportunity in contemporary India’.  The essays cover issues of paramount importance to India and its residents, from what could be the possible beginning of human advent in India to love, sex, culture, money, values, current ideas around nationalism, democracy – in short, it seeks to address all things Indian in the current scenario.

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 Book launch of Indian Instincts with Eunice Olsen, Miniya Chatterji and Zafar Anjum

The book is readable and accessible to everyone while simultaneously retaining its intellectual rigour and philosophical depth. Here is contemporary India and its myriad hues from a writer who explores the institutions we have created and their stranglehold on our lives, or what we have allowed them to become.

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Panel discussion – Zafar Anjum, Miniya Chatteriji, Eunice Olsen

The panel discussion covered many burning topics including social impact of economic development, nationalism, gender equality and violence against women, education and its role in developing rational thinking among the masses. Olsen emphasised that there is need of more awareness on gender equality in Asia. Chatterji advocated women in India should not be seen or judged through parameters of males. She said that an education system that encourages critical thinking, rationality and debate is the key to many of the problems plaguing India.

Linguists discover previously unidentified language in Malaysia

Linguists working in the Malay Peninsula have identified a language, now called Jedek, that had not previously been recognized outside of the small group of people who speak it.

The newly documented language is spoken by some 280 people, part of a community that once foraged along the Pergau River. The Jedek speakers now live in resettlement area in northern Malaysia.

Jedek was recognized as a unique language by Swedish linguists from Lund University, who ran across the new language while studying the Jahai language in the same region.

“Jedek is not a language spoken by an unknown tribe in the jungle, as you would perhaps imagine, but in a village previously studied by anthropologists,” Niclas Burenhult, associate professor of general linguistics and the first researcher to record the language, said in a statement released by the university. “As linguists, we had a different set of questions and found something that the anthropologists missed.”

Doctoral student Joanne Yager spent four years doing intensive fieldwork and studying the language.

“There are so many undocumented, undescribed languages that nobody has worked with,” Yager told NPR. “But the difference here is … we didn’t know that it existed at all. Most languages that are undescribed and undocumented, we know that they exist.”

One possible reason the language went undetected for so long, she says, is that the formerly nomadic people who spoke it didn’t have a single consistent name for it. (The name Jedek comes from one of several terms the speakers use.)

Research by Yager and Burenhult was published in the latest issue of Linguistic Typology and publicly announced by Lund University on Tuesday.

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Long and short of writing: Kitaab at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet

Short fiction writers Suzanne Kamata, Wan Phing and Monideepa Sahu were joined by author-publisher Zafar Anjum as they spoke about their love for writing.

Both authors explained why they write about what they do. “Most of my work is meant to be parts of novels that I was working on but that I abandoned. I tend to put everything that I’m preoccupied with into my fiction. I put my Japanese mother-in-law into my story, as well as my intrigue as to why Marilyn Monroe spent her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio in Japan,” Kamata told the audience at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet, co-organised by Victoria Memorial Hall in association with The Telegraph.

Kamata’s approach to her her work is to “write scenes, then go for a walk to put them all together, to come back to them a week or month later”. Wan Phing called her works “pretty organic”, adding: “I’m quite an intuitive writer”.

The panel had some tips to share on becoming published, with Wan Phing admitting that “getting published is the best assurance for sure, but it can be quite hard”.

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Divya Marathi’s Marathi Literature Festival, Nashik

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Independent thinking includes the ability to engage in reflective and critical thinking. This ability to think independently without any bias is the very foundation of our democracy. To strengthen and promote this very idea of independent thinking, Divya Marathi organized the second edition of Marathi Literature Festival under the theme ‘Confluence of Independent Thinkers’ in Kusumagraj SmarakThe 3-day festival concluded on 5th Nov 2017 with a live performance by neo-fusion rock band Kabir Café. This rock band successfully fused the mystic saint’s age-old independent philosophy with a modern outlook. The festival also witnessed entertainment packed live performances of Music Maestro Hariharan and Illusionist Abhishek Acharya.

This 3-day festival comprised of 72 eminent speakers participating in 26 sessions and 6 workshops on diverse subjects ranging from Democratic Polity, Literature, Mythology, Medical Ethics in Literature, Literature and Social Movement, Graphic Arts, Tea and Book Pairing, Fake News and even Food Archaeology.

Mr. Girish Agarwal, Director, Dainik Bhaskar Group said, ‘We are happy that Marathi Literature Festival has been able to entice our Marathi readers by marking a confluence of independent thinkers and achievers. This will surely give impetus to our efforts of enabling our readers to think independently without being prejudiced and influenced.’

A special segment ‘Celebrating the power of Independent Thinking’ saw 12 independent thinkers of Maharashtra being felicitated for their passion and being change drivers. Eminent speakers included Mr. Devdutt  Pattanaik , Ms. Savi Sharma , Mr. Sheshrao More, Mr. Rajiv Dogra , Ms. Sheela Reddy, Ms. Neelima Dalmia Adhar, Mr. Nilotpal Mrinal, Mr. Aabid Surti , Mr. Niranjan Chapalgaonkar, Mr. Sambhaji Bhagat, Mr. Uday Deshpande, Mr. Virag Gupta, Mr. Ashish Chaudhary , Dr. Neelima Chauhan, and Mr. Mahesh Kothare.

This festival also hosted interesting sessions on the disappearing traditional games of India by Sreeranjini (Founder-Kavade), Blind Photography by Partho Bhowmick (Founder-Blind with Camera) and Tea & Book Pairing by Snigdha Manchanda (India’s first and finest Tea Sommelier). Workshops on Blogging, ‘Kavya Katta’ and Reading Pleasure added vigour to the literary sessions. A Special edition tea, Landour Gold Tea, was released  as an ode to the beautiful mountains that is the home and inspiration of legendary author Ruskin Bond. Honouring his love for nature, pure green tea was blended with herbs and blooms native to the Himalayas – chamomile, sage, and lemongrass.

To know more visit http://marathiliteraturefestival.com/en/

The Representation of the Syrian Revolution in Literature

“These literary works depict the political, social and religious realities of Syria before and after March 2011 in order to draw a more comprehensive picture of Syria’s culture. These cultural details lay the foundation and act as necessary components for the development of the narratives and their relation to the current situation in Syria.”

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The need for writing

It would be inaccurate to assume that the literature centering on Assad’s family regime only started with the outbreak of the 2011 revolution. Some Syrian authors and dramatists have always addressed Assad’s politics in their works despite the fact that their criticism was indirect. They employed historical figures and events, constructing allegorical works so that they met the expectations of the censor. For example, some works were crafted to revolve around an event in pre-Islamic, Islamic or medieval Arab history and they exposed the ways the Arab kings ruled the masses. Through the interactions between the masses and the king, the monopoly of power alluded to the current politics of Syria and its corruption. Authors such as Mohammad al-Maghot, Mamduh Udwan, Sadallah Wanus and Zakaryya Tamer did not miss a chance to criticize the Syrian regime. however, there were not any explicit attempts to condemn that regime or its head.

With the outbreak of the revolution, the allegorical style would be abandoned because of the flooding of news of demonstrations, attacks, shelling and most importantly, the daily killing of innocent Syrians. Such incidents brought a radical change to literature. Due to the pace of news coming out of Syria, the media had to handle it in a way that served the needs of its audience, delivering the most up-to-date news without necessarily pinpointing the background of the revolution or taking into consideration the different constituencies that supported the revolution.

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Media centre: Study in Europe 2017 — EU’s Annual Education Fair in Singapore on September 30

In its 11th edition, Study in Europe (SIE) seeks to connect students in Singapore with universities in Europe and provide them access to information about institutions they might be interested in studying at, the application process together with details of various bond-free scholarships. Nations from across Europe will be represented at the annual Study in Europe education fair that presents the many diverse study programmes on offer throughout Europe and highlights a range of scholarship options that could make studying in Europe easier for students.

Study in Europe 2017 will be held in Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre. Organised by the European Union (EU) Delegation to Singapore, this fair brings together 13 European countries. The countries represented at the fair are Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

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How the bestseller ‘The Vegetarian,’ translated from Han Kang’s original, caused an uproar in South Korea

Before publishing his famous Chinese poetry translation “Cathay” in 1915, Ezra Pound apparently had no knowledge of Chinese at all. Instead, he worked from second-hand notes by another translator, boldly imposing his Imagist vision on classical Chinese poetry. Not surprisingly, he made quite a few errors in the process. And yet today, “Cathay” has become a deeply admired modernist classic; “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter” appears in many poetry anthologies. The work is hardly considered a translation at all. A classics professor recently told me that he feels the same way about Pound’s “re-creations” of the elegies by the Latin poet Sextus Propertius: “I don’t even the think of the changes as errors,” he said. The translator’s version has become canonized.

Would Pound’s free interpretations have been just as praised had he translated novels? Or if he published his works a century later?

The question came to mind as I pondered the recent controversy in South Korea over Deborah Smith’s brilliant but flawed translation of Han Kang’s novel “The Vegetarian.” Originally published in 2007, Han’s work received critical acclaim but didn’t enjoy a particularly wide readership. Many South Korean readers initially found the novel to be bizarre: a dark, surreal tale of a woman who refuses to eat meat and descends into madness.

All that changed when “The Vegetarian” won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. The award landed the book on American and British bestseller lists as media attention focused on Smith, a then-28-year-old British graduate student, making much of the fact that the translator had started to learn Korean only six years earlier.

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