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Victims of genocide or victims of history: 10 facts you did not know about the Rohingya crisis and the roasting of Aung Sang Suu Kyi


A profoundly ignorant chorus of denunciation has descended upon Aung Sang Suu Kyi over the treatment of the Rohingyas — while ignoring the historical baggage of colonial policies that created this tragic conundrum. And critics ignore the role of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which mounted coordinated attacks on police stations, army posts and civilian targets in November 2016 and August 2017. Here are some facts for your to consider:

1. It all goes back to the 1932 election in Burma (then part of British India); the Brits wanted to separate Burmese from India, and propped up the Separatist League, but the Anti-Separatists (led by Ba Maw) won. They wanted to remain loosely federated with India. Nonetheless Burma was separated from India in 1935. When Ba Maw won the next election too in 1937, the British policies of Divide and Rule were stepped up — and led to anti-Indian rioting in 1938 in Rangoon (after the Brits imprisoned Ba Maw for seeking Japanese support for his campaign of full independence from the Brits).

2. When Japan liberated Burma in March 1942, Ba Maw was restored to power (formally becoming Prime Minister or Adipati in August 1943), with Aung San as his DPM and Defence minister. The British had ensured that the British Burma Army contained no Burmese (instead comprising Karen, Kachins, Shans and Chins) while the bureaucracy contained mainly Anglo-Burmans and Indians. The majority Bamars only got opportunities in the military and bureaucracy in alliance with the Japanese.  Continue reading

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Book Review: Knowledge, Mediation and Empire: James Tod’s Journeys Among the Rajputs by Florence D’ Souza

By Chetan

knowledgeJames Tod, the British army official and administrator, came to Bengal in 1799. Within the span of twenty years, the East India Company entrusted Tod with the responsibilities of Political Agent in the states of Western Rajputana. During his residency, he surveyed the regions of Bundi, Mewar, Kota, Marwar and Sirohi to collect material on Rajput rulers. In 1829, Tod published his research on Rajputs in Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan or the Central and Western Rajput States of India.

Florence D’Souza re-analyzes the literary production of Tod in her book titled Knowledge, Mediation and Empire: James Tod’s Journeys Among the Rajputs to set the parallel and contrast between Rajasthan and Europe. D’Souza embarks on this project to uncover the multifaceted talent of Tod.

Chapter 1, “Tod as an Observer of Landscape in Rajasthan and Gujarat” captures the aesthetics of landscape for which Tod seems to have abandoned the primitive frameworks, including “Sublime” and “Beauty” and rather expresses his confidence in the novelistic “Picturesque” technique to draw an analogy between India and Scotland. D’Souza explains that Tod invariably uses the Scottish terms to describe the Bondi Mountain Range in Rajasthan but he engages in collecting and sampling of data for creating an accurate topography of the region.

In the second chapter – “Tod as an Anthropologist: Trying to Understand,” D’Souza sheds light on Tod’s endeavor to carry out surveys and gather information of historical artifacts and bards. Tod creates records of Rajput manners and customs with the aid of his Indian assistants and Indian gurus. He observes and records the history of nearly all the Rajput communities for the purpose of setting a parallel and contrast with the cultures of Europe. The author establishes that Tod, though a colonel and administrator later, tries to bridge the ambiguous gap between myth or legend on the one hand and factual history with genealogies of flesh and blood on the other.

Although Tod is untrained in cataloguing, enlisting, segregation and other scientific processes common to the classification of wildlife, yet his succinct description proves him a person of valuable knowledge. With a brief sketch of scientific trends in the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth century, the author ventures into the territories relating to the institutionalization of Botany and Geology in British universities. This is also the time when many geologists, botanists, anthropologists, surveyors and cartographers of Scottish origin came to India. In chapter 3, the author gives details of how Tod is helped by his subordinate Patrick Waugh (1799-1821), his Indian guru – Yati Gyanchandra, Brahmin assistant – Balgovind, and some Indian artists in cataloguing and classification of data collected from different princely states. While Tod prefers to use the western scientific instrument for land surveys in India, he willingly acknowledges certain scientific acumen of Indians.

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Book Review: Genghis Khan and the Quest for God: How the World’s Greatest Conqueror Gave Us Religious Freedom by Jack Weatherford

By Simon Winchester

genghis

Thirty-one years ago, while on a railway journey between London and Hong Kong, I stopped off in Mongolia and to a briefly illustrative encounter.

At the time the British had the sole Western embassy in Ulan Bator — at 30 Peace Street, if I remember — and I thought I might interview the ambassador and present him, as it was early December and he was said to cut a lonesome and homesick figure, with a Christmas plum pudding. I rang the mission’s doorbell and must have looked faintly taken aback when it was opened by a young man of evidently Caribbean origin.

“Don’t be startled,” he said cheerfully, in a broad Welsh accent. “I’m Trevor Jones, first secretary. From Cardiff. I think I’m the only black man in the diplomatic service, and look see, they pack me off to bloody Ulan Bator!”

Back in 1985 that set the tone. Mongolia. Utterly out there. Grass. Ponies. Wrestling. Forgotten. Of no importance. Genghis Khan maybe. A brute. Otherwise, a place consigned to geographical oblivion in the minds of most. Read more

Source: The New York Times


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New Release: Thing to Leave Behind by Namita Gokhale

leave-behindThings to Leave Behind follows the intertwined story of spirited Tilottama Uprety, whose uncle is hanged during the ‘Mutiny’, her troubled daughter, Deoki, missionary Rosemary Boden and Deoki’s husband, Jayesh Jonas, into Boden’s utopian Eden Ashram where artist William Dempster seeks out new Indias. At its heart lies one singular painting: a portrait of love, longing and courage.

Set in the years 1840 to 1912, Things to Leave Behind chronicles the mixed legacy of the British Indian past and the emergence of a fragile modernity. The book is published by Penguin.

Illuminated with painstaking detail, told with characteristic narrative skill, this compelling historical novel—the final one in the Himalayan trilogy, after A Himalayan Love Story and The Book of Shadows—is Namita Gokhale’s most ambitious work yet.

About the Author

Namita Gokhale has authored thirteen books—seven works of fiction and six works of non-fiction. She is founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, and the Bhutan literary festival, Mountain Echoes.

 


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UK: Asian writers say it’s getting harder to get their work adapted for screen

British Asian novelists are struggling to get their work adapted for television because the lack of representation in the creative industries has “paralysed” the process.

Three rising star novelists last night discussed how the tag “British Asian” affected them as writers and in the wider creative industries, with one saying it took “10 times as long” for a book to get adapted for television.

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