Tag Archives: Europe

Book Excerpt: Billionaire Raj by James Crabtree


Title: The Billionaire Raj

Author: James Crabtree

Publisher: Oneworld

Year of publication: 2018



Links: https://singapore.kinokuniya.com/bw/9781786075598

At the port, the facility’s amiable chief executive, Captain Unmesh Abhyankar, talked excitedly about the mechanics of the place: a world of berth occupancy, throughput rates and turnaround times. Mundra had an unusually deep harbour, allowing it to attract some of the world’s biggest cargo ships, he explained, giving it an edge over rivals elsewhere along India’s western coast. ‘We focus on the three Cs: coal, containers and crude,’ he said of the cargoes the ships brought in. Exports were more of a mish-mash, including everything from bauxite and cars to iron ore and wood. India’s dilapidated road network made it hard to move this in and out, so industrialist Gautam Adani built a 60-kilometre private freight line to the main rail network. Most Indian ports were state owned and inefficient, taking a couple of days or more to unload a ship. At Mundra, however, cargo was mostly whisked in and out over a morning. Abhyankar expected his facility to become the country’s largest port later that year, handling 100 million tonnes of goods, the first in India ever to do so.

Even at dusk the giant container cranes were easy to spot from the window, as our plane took off that evening and flew us back to Ahmedabad, ready to meet Adani the next day. The day’s last light glinted on the grey of the Gulf of Kutch in the distance. A few years earlier a team of oceanographers had found an ancient stone anchor lying 50 metres below the waves, of a type used by merchants more than a millennium before. For centuries, those same waters had been India’s trading artery, bringing wooden dhows and then steamships across from Africa and the Middle East. Through such trade and commerce, India had been an early pioneer of globalisation, at least until Nehru launched his new age of self-enclosure in the aftermath of Independence in 1947. Read more

Hanif Kureishi: The migrant has no face, status or story

Immigration has become a prison of cliche in Europe: The Guardian

Hanif KureishiThe immigrant has become a contemporary passion in Europe, the vacant point around which ideals clash. Easily available as a token, existing everywhere and nowhere, he is talked about constantly. But in the current public conversation, this figure has not only migrated from one country to another, he has migrated from reality to the collective imagination where he has been transformed into a terrible fiction. Read more

Pallavi Aiyar: ‘If You Can Earn From Unemployment Benefits, Why Would You Toil?’

Is Europe’s wariness of Asian immigrants rooted in its fear of losing out on a certain sense of Western entitlement? In her new book, ‘Punjabi Parmesan: Dispatches from a Europe in Crisis’, journalist Pallavi Aiyar argues that it isn’t about what the Indian or Chinese workforce is doing wrong. Rather it is about what Europe is not doing right: Tehelka

Punjabi Parmesan is a rather unusual title for a book on Europe and the crises it faces. What inspired it?

pallaviThe title comes from Punjabi immigrants in Italy. In the second chapter, I look at Indian economic immigrants to Europe up and down the value chain. I start off by looking at Gujrati diamantaires, who are high up, and then at agricultural workers primarily from Punjab whose presence can be traced back to the 1990s. There is a saying in Italy, if these workers were to go on a strike for a day or disappeared, the production of Parmesan cheese in the world would come to a grinding halt. It might just be an overstatement, but it goes on to show how in a span of a decade and a half, Punjabi agricultural force has become intrinsic to Italian agriculture.

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