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Mainstream, VOL XLIX, No 51, December 10, 2011

America is Already Here making Subtle Inroads

Monday 12 December 2011, by Humra Quraishi


Obstacles staring right in the face. Revolts brewing from different quarters. No I’m not referring to Team Anna, with the Gandhian leader almost set to go fasting once again before the year ends. But the gravest danger comes in the wake of the Central Government giving the okaying nod for Foreign Direct Investment in the retail sector. Quite obviously it’s bound to hit the local retailers and along with them the medium-rung traders, farmers and producers. Reactions could compound as there are more than hints of American lobbies pressuring the government of the day to allow FDI to flow in and with that pushing the local retailers towards near-disaster.

Till date the average businessman or trader of this country wasn’t quite anti-American. No, he didn’t seem to dwell much on those security anklets getting clasped on our students’ limbs or the fact that Dr Kalam, the former President of India, was frisked at the American airports or that American troops are notorious for bombarding civilian locales and that it’s an intruding Army, slowly making headway here. But, now, if the Foreign Direct Investment does make its presence felt here in the retail sector, perceptions are bound to change overnight. For this move alone will hit where it hits the most.

And as the semi-starving amongst us will sit and stare at those sprawling, gaudily lit multi-national outlets, there’s bound to be a revolt of sorts. Getting whipped by the news of drone attacks and those senseless killings that America and its allies have been indulging in for the last several years. Peaking now, as never before. Those expansionist designs of the Americans, that Noam Chomsky has been detailing in his volumes, are here, for us to see and sense as they are being well executed under so many garbs. Be it those nuclear treaties or multinationals making their entry here, the passage seems clear. In fact, as I have been writing, America would not have to invade our borders with or without drone attack killings, because it is already here, making further inroads in those subtle ways… So, let’s see what happens next. As they say, when more characters or actors come on stage, there could be furthering of the chaotic situation …

Indira Goswami Passes Away …

BEFORE Assam and its emotional people could recover from Bhupen Hazarika’s death, comes the news of the passing away of writer Indira Goswami. She had been seriously ill for the last two years. In fact, she had even shifted base, from New Delhi to Assam, so that her relatives could look after her. Widowed within months of her marriage, she went through an emotionally turbulent phase which actually paved way for her writings. One book after another. With her autobiography—The Unfinished Autobiography—baring much and with that getting her closer to her readers.

I had first met her almost ten years back, when she was teaching at the Delhi University, had peaked as a writer, and was conferred with awards by Sahitya Akademi and Jnanpith (2000).

I‘d gone to her apartment on the DU campus, requesting her to release my short-story collection. And now, looking back, that first impression that has stayed with me is the warmth in her place, in that neatly done-up living room where she’d sat and had ordered tea and snacks. And as the conversation took off she’d seemed not just spontaneous but forth-coming—telling me about the harsh turns in her life, the depressive phase she went through after her husband had died in a car accident and how she managed to survive. In fact, more than hinting that it was writing alone that had kept her going...writing seemed to take care of the emotional vacuum in her life and though there were rumours that she had found a companion, she was always alone and by herself.

Thereafter we’d met on several occasions and each time she gave me long and short lectures, focusing on the fact that writing alone can take care of the emotional upheavals and fill in those vacuums. Perhaps, she had witnessed much and gone through immense pain and that alone made her connect with her people and with the rebels—remember, she had offered to hold those peace talks with the ULFA cadres. In fact, I still recall her words when I‘d asked her the outcome of those talks and she had quipped: “Those boys are like my children and it’s my duty as a writer to halt senseless killings and the disasters spreading out …we have to save our children and bring them back to the mainstream and see that sense prevails …I want to see peace prevailing in my State.”

What are You Doing on this Upcoming Human Rights Day?

THOUGH human rights violations could be lower here, as compared to the conflict zones, women living in New Delhi are all set to focus attention on the harassment they face day after day. Yes, it gets almost impossible for a young girl to commute alone. And at night even a group of girls would find it difficult to move around, without being teased or semi-molested.

And on this International Human Rights Day—December 10—Delhi women are organi-sing an after-dark walk—‘Claim Your City by Night’, to relay the message that women can walk or rather should be allowed to move about freely, here and there and all over.

But the reality is quite obviously dark and dangerous. No, it isn’t safe for even the middle-aged to move around after dusk, even if they are escorted, for some of the latest incidents go to show that their male companions were attacked and thrown aside, before they were pounced upon.

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