Rushdie’s visit to Jaipur; censorship and illiberalism in India

Things are getting hairy at the Jaipur Lit Fest, with protests and threats surrounding Salman Rushdie’s visit. For many writers–myself included–this is yet another sad chapter in what feels like a rising tide of intolerance and illiberalism in the country. Will threats of violence succeed in keeping Rushdie away? I hope not. See this artice on the Jaipur controversy; and this earlier piece, by Basharat Peer, on “India’s Free-Speech Crisis.”

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Jaipur Lit Fest

This year’s Jaipur Literature Festival looks absolutely wonderful. I’m honored and excited to  be part of it. Check out the list of speakers and the program. What a lineup. My events on are on March 21st.

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Why didn’t Raj Rajaratnam take a plea bargain?

A great piece by Suketu Mehta in this week’s Newsweek.  A couple of exclusive interviews really offer insight into Raj Rajaratnam the man, and particularly how his South Asian background and milieu have shaped him. I’ve often wondered, while watching this case, why Rajaratnam didn’t take a plea bargain. Now I think I understand better.

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Blistering Barnacles! Spielberg’s Tintin on the way

I still own some of the Tintins that my father used to read to me when I was a boy. I grew up on the exploits of this intrepid and mysterious (because we know so little about his private life) reporter. I find myself laughing at Calculus or Jolyon Wagg or the Thompson twins as hard today as I did thirty years ago. Few things give me as much pleasure in life as reading Tintin to my two boys every night before they go to sleep.

So it is with some trepidation (but tremendous excitement) that I intend to go see Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” this winter. My trepidation is heightened by the contradictory reviews I’ve been reading–some glowing, others scathing. I plan to take my boys–but I hope that the Hollywoodization of these comics won’t spoil the sense of innocence and purity that I (and I think they) still attach to these books.

In the meantime, for those less ambivalent about the whole thing, here’s a brilliant preview. And, for Indian readers, did you know that Tintin has now been launched in Hindi?

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Falling Man: A portrait of Manmohan Singh

Great, in-depth political reporting. An excellent profile of Manmohan Singh and his government, from Vinod Jose in Caravan Magazine. You rarely get to read such behind-the-scenes political reporting in India. His account of the discussions and debates within the government during the summer of 1991 is particularly interesting. It would be great to see a whole book on that fateful summer–a kind of Bob Woodwardian analysis of the key players (and their compunctions and interests) who so radically remade India.

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Rural India Disappears

Blog Post, The New Yorker Online

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, famously described the country as an “ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer” of history had been inscribed, without ever fully effacing the previous ones. Sometimes, though, I can’t help feeling that this place is less a palimpsest than a brutal, erasable slate: layer upon layer of newness, the past a commodity, disposable and easily forgotten.

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Podcast

The New Yorker Out Loud

Podcast
NY Online
I talk to Blake Eskin, Online Editor at The New Yorker, about changes in the cow market, the rural economy, and growing up in a world that’s gradually slipping away.

I talk to Blake Eskin,  Online Editor at The New Yorker, about changes in the cow market, the rural economy–and growing up in a world that’s gradually slipping away.

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From the FT: Brics asked to bail out Euro-zone

Oh, I like this: now the developing world is going to bail Europe out. German taxpayers feel resentful about bailing out their fellow-Europeans, so it’s upto Indian and Brazilian taxpayers. (But of course, try applying for a visa to these countries as a BRIC member….)

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NYT blog on India

The NYT launches its very fine India blog, India Ink. I still remember the days when I had to beg American editors to let me write about India. They were convinced the country wasn’t relevant and, as one editor told me, “didn’t fit into any American narrative.” I guess a little capitalism and lots of new money changed that.

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Corruption: India’s Defining Challenge

Ram Guha’s very fine piece in the FT on corruption in India really sets out the scale of the problem, and the stakes involved.

A great–if depressing–conclusion: “[India] is not a rising power, nor even an emerging power. It is merely a fascinating, complex, and perhaps unique experiment in nationhood and democracy, whose leaders need still to attend to the fault lines within, rather than presume to take on the world without.”

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