Author Archives: Pubali Ray Chaudhuri

Proposed manifesto for Indian parents

Challenge to Indian Parents: Do we dare take this vow, or a vow that contains similar tenets? If not, please let us accept that we are misogynists and wish proudly to remain so. Continue reading

The empire within: India’s imperialist misogyny, a response to Madhu Kishwar

Tehelka, a leading investigative Indian news magazine, has just published an article “Rape, and How Men See it,” that I hope will become an important resource for readers and researchers alike looking for the views of Indian men on women. Continue reading

She is dead. But can we be said to live?

I am in mourning. No, not for the dead 23-year-old victim of one of the most brutal rapes our woman-hating country, India, has yet seen. To her the cease of struggle, the sleep and rest after unbearable suffering. To us the questions, the self-criticism, the challenge to step up. To her the end of agony; to us, the beginning of agonizing, and, though I say it with no great assurance, the promise of a better tomorrow. We can make it happen. But will we? Continue reading

Being female in India: A hate story

India hates women. It is with this bald fact that I wish to begin—and end—my response to the horrific crime that occurred this week in Delhi, the rape, by multiple perpetrators, of a young woman on public transport in our capital city. She was raped by a gang of men, and she and her companion were both severely beaten, stripped naked and thrown from the bus in which they had been travelling. The young woman, to whom this response is dedicated, now lies fighting for her life, her uterus and intestines ruptured from the brutal attack, in a Delhi hospital. Continue reading

Reflections: Divided we’re conquered

From a justly frustrated African-American Bhai (Brother): “It seems like I am posting about the same issues every fucking year.” Well, here’s part of the story: Because “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”—John Steinbeck. Continue reading

The spectre at the feast: A letter to White America

This essay is a work in progress, because my life here in the USA is itself a work in progress—or so I should like to think. You will probably receive such letters from me as long as I continue to be a South Asian (I do not see that changing any time soon) and certainly as long as I continue to be an American and to live in America. I will add and edit as time goes on, but I wanted to write about this particular event while both it and the response it evoked are fresh in my mind. No real names have been used. Continue reading

Not so much of the Shock and Awe: How an American born outside the U.S. responds to the NDAA

The U.S. is now giving itself powers to capture American citizens and hold them indefinitely in military detention without trial. Apparently I am meant to be very shocked by this, because Americans are such a special rara aves, such a unique species, so it must be a tremendous earth-shattering blow when one hears that this noble race of thoroughbreds is to be treated like the rest of the non-American world—like criminals even though they have never committed any crime. Continue reading

After Troy Davis: The questions about us remain

In spite of an international outcry to spare his life and concerted efforts by many ordinary people both within this country and abroad, Troy Davis is dead. It is pointless now to write about Troy Davis the individual human being. He has been sent to that undiscovered country where neither friend nor foe can reach him. We must concern ourselves with what survives, what is left to us to contemplate for the future. The same question that confronted us before Davis’ execution confronts us still after it: what does the Troy Davis story tell us about ourselves? Plenty, if we care—or dare—to look unflinchingly and deeply enough. It’s mirror, mirror on the wall time. Continue reading

Film noir: Troy Davis and the American way

In another few days yet one more miserable insect—pardon me, where are my manners? One more black man will be put to death by the greatest country with the greatest justice system in the world, the U.S. of A. Continue reading

While the sun shines

Ian McEwan’s latest novel, Solar, takes as one of its primary subjects a very contemporary, urgent issue that impinges upon the lives and the consciousness of each of us—no less than our very future as a race, the question of whether or not we will survive the depredations we have inflicted on our environment. The answer, of course, depends on whether or not we are going to stop our mad rush to consume the earth’s resources as though they were to last us forever. On the other hand, compelled perhaps by a certain perverseness in our natures, we persist in continuing those very behaviours that have brought us to our current predicament. Continue reading

The quiet Indian: Vandana Shiva

Chances are that if Vandana Shiva had been a mass killer, you’d all have heard of her by now because she’d have received the Nobel Peace Prize, an honour evidently reserved for that august category of people—think Henry Kissinger, Barack Obama. Being only a preserver of life, and not a warmonger and dispatcher of machines that incinerate children in the night, she is less likely to have come to your attention. It is always dull to work for life; to work for death attracts so much more attention and infinitely more sound-bites. Continue reading

African writers and Western reviewers

When I read the work of non-white authors, especially those whose writing has dealt in any significant way with issues of colonialism, I find myself paying special attention to the blurbs at the back of the book. For these blurbs, should the author be globally known and respected, are often written by Western reviewers, or at least reviewers with a Western sensibility. Now Western reviewers do not like to see a lot of anger in the writing of postcolonial subjects. When the Empire writes back, it had better watch its language. So, if our writer has won their praise, I look in the accolades for words such as “generous,” “humane,” “wise,” “compassionate,” and increasingly these days, for the critic’s new buzzword “nuanced.” All of which can often mean that the writer has kept from overly harsh criticism of colonial and neocolonial enterprise. Or if (s)he has indulged such criticism, her tones have been measured and deliberate and (s)he has avoided offending Western (white) sensibilities too blatantly. Continue reading

Welcome to Hell: An open letter to Mr. Clint Guidry of South Louisiana

Dear Mr. Guidry, I read with deep distress “Hell has come to South Louisiana,” your lament for your beloved land, now devastated by the BP oil spill. All of us who are human must feel your loss and pain deeply — and so do I. But I wish at the same time to put that Hell of which you speak, into some kind of context for you — perhaps to place it within a context wherein you may not have heard it placed before. This letter, and its message, is not for you alone — it might well be written to any ordinary citizen now feeling the first pangs of the hell that was inevitable with the march of the neoliberal juggernaut. It is a letter of pain, of fellow-feeling, and above all, as hinted above, of welcome. Welcome to the world of those who suffer. Continue reading

No free speech, please, we’re British: The silencing of Abdullah, the ex-Muslim

Several weeks have passed since I last spoke to Abdullah. Quite possibly we shall never speak again. But every so often, thoughts of him will intrude upon my consciousness like a miasma rising from some backwater of the mind, uncomfortable yet persistent, nagging at me, raising the question: What became of Abdullah? Is he safe? Does he still write? Continue reading