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South Asia

The End of Cash in India?

Late in the evening on Nov. 8, Indian President Narendra Modi made an unscheduled appearance live on TV. Effective immediately, he said, all banknotes of 500 rupees ($7.50) and higher were invalid and must be turned over to banks, in order to fight corruption, terrorism and forgery. Abruptly the entire Indian economy was forced to subsist on nothing but the equivalent of $1 bills, at least until new currency could be rolled out.

Sudhir Panwar was caught up in a strange, chaotic situation on Wednesday afternoon.

Bilingual, Bipolar, and Deeply Schizophrenic: Diagnosing Pakistan’s Press

The language Pakistani newspapers are published in dictates the very way reporters and columnists look at facts, writes C.M. Naim in Tanqeed. It’s a cynical calculation: even when two newspapers are published by the same tycoon, or, absurdly, two columns by the same writer, the “posture of moderation” in the English papers is matched by the unabashedly extremist opinions of the Urdu papers.

An editorial—‘Into the Open’—in the Express-Tribune of December 16, 2014, begins:

Checkpoint Beard

Power, masculinity, maybe a certain kind of ethnic pride: Taimoor Shahid writes that he is not entirely sure why he wears his problematic Pashtun beard in the educated middle class Lahore milieu he inhabits. But like a black teenage boy in a white suburb, he is noticed.

It is the check point of Lahore Cantt on Shami Road. I am standing there surrounded by soldiers in close vicinity: one to my left, one to my right, and one before me.

Who Needs Toilets Anyway?

Narendra Modi’s Clean India Mission, and his focus on sanitation are central to the new prime minister’s push for a more modern looking India. But as these essays from Hardnews make clear, caste attitudes, gender politics and other peculiarities bring their own obstructions:

To pee is to be. That’s what we are, Hoo Ha India, superpower nuclear India, floating on public spectacles of yellow swimming pools of male piss.

The Radical Vegetarians Are Coming For Your Steak Knives

The growth of militant Hinduism in India, which this year swept the BJP nationalists to power, is expressed in numerous and occasionally unexpected ways. In Open Magazine, Lhendup G Bhutia writes that militant vegetarianism is on the rise around the country.

Vegetarian activism in India, unlike the West, is not limited to spot-shaming celebrities wearing fur or the token protest over a dinner table.

The Unburied

For Muslims, the mandate to wash and bury their dead immediately is very strong. So, while the sight of hundreds of women camping out in the road for days with the corpses of their murdered children would be shocking anywhere, the mothers’ protests that paralyzed the Baloch regional capital of Quetta earlier in the year were particularly jolting for Pakistanis: the vigil an almost blasphemous demonstration of the Hazara community’s rejection of the orchestrated campaign of murder against Hazaris that the Pakistani state has allowed to prosper.

On 10th January 2013, Rukhsana Bibi lost three sons in twin bomb blasts at a snooker hall on Alamdar Road, Quetta.

Drones Above, Knives Below

In the Pashtun regions of the northwest, writes Asad Hashim in Tanqeed, the Pakistani state rules like an occupying imperial force. Collective punishment, limited rights to legal defense, rule by appointed ‘political agent’: a system almost unchanged from colonial Britain’s 19th century Murderous Outrages Regulations. Life among the Pashtun in Bannu, Pakistan:

The history of Bannu, a sleepy little town of about a million inhabitants in the south of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and adjacent to the Tribal Areas, is long and littered with conquests, banditry and more than its fair share of violence.

Put a Beard on it

‘Not Pakistani enough,’ a prominent Lahore art critic said of miniaturist Shahzia Sikander. But what makes an artist a national artist? asks Taymoor Soomro in Newsline. To be accepted as a Pakistani artist, it seems that one must either channel some ancient style of art, or critique (usually from a Western perspective) some aspect of Pakistani culture. Put a beard or a burka on it!

There's something thrilling about public brawls. The unlikelier the brawlers, the better they are.

A Prime Minister for All of India’s Corporate Lords

If Hindu nationalist politician Narendra Modi wins power in India’s vast parliamentary elections this spring, writes Siddharth Varadarajan in Seminar, it will be a victory for crony capitalism as much as it is for sectarian Hindus. A decade ago, Modi’s name was synonymous with sectarian bloodshed and backwardness.

Who does Narendra Modi represent and what does his rise in Indian politics signify?

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