We are

The IDG is one of the oldest and most respected societies of St. Stephen's College, Delhi. It looks to broaden perspectives by discussing a variety of issues with eminent personalities.

Our talks often throw up some very unexpected answers and, even more often, some very unexpected questions.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pat Bourne - Secessionism and Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland was for many years the site of a violent and bitter ethno-political conflict between those claiming to represent Nationalists, who are predominantly Roman Catholic, and those claiming to represent Unionists, who are predominantly Protestant.[8] In general, Nationalists want the unification of Ireland, with Northern Ireland joining the rest of Ireland[9][10] and Unionists want it to remain part of the United Kingdom.[11] Protestants are in the majority in Northern Ireland, though Roman Catholics represent a significant minority.[12] In general, Protestants consider themselves British and Catholics see themselves as Irish but there are some who see themselves as both British and Irish. In addition to UK citizenship, people from Northern Ireland are also entitled to Irish. The campaigns of violence have become known popularly as The Troubles. The majority of both sides of the community have had no direct involvement in the violent campaigns waged. Since the signing of the Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement or the G.F.A.) in 1998, many of the major paramilitary campaigns have either been on ceasefire or have declared their war to be over.
(From Wikipedia.)

Aseem Srivastava - The Politics of Globalization

Looking beyond that, however, there are some sobering facts. Let’s begin with the lessons history teaches. The dominant view is that the Vietnam War was lost by the US. It was driven out of Vietnam. 58,000 Americans died in the war, apart from the millions of Indo -- Chinese. All this may be true. However, if you look at it from the perspective of American corporate elites, rather than from the perspective of the majority of Americans, Washington succeeded in its primary goal, which was to prevent an alternative model of independent Third World development (something like what Cuba has tried and Venezuela is trying these days) from taking root. Vietnam was not allowed to set an example which might have generated a domino effect across the developing world, much to the loss of the United States, which would have become a less indispensable nation. True to American plans, Vietnam is an open -- market economy today, dependent on a globalized economy led by the US.
(From, The Iraq War Is A Huge Success.)

Deepak Mehta - Living With Violence

The histriography of the riot assumes that Hindu-Muslim conflict, integrated into the concept of communalism, is independent of the participants in violence. Once formulated through 'records', this concept shows that the riot is its practice. In doing so, histriography conceives of violence in purely instrumental terms, as much as it negotiates the capacity of violence to alter the world of those who come into contact with it. All instances of violence designated as 'communal' are marked by a textual coherence and are traced to one originary source.
(From, Writing The Riot: Between the histriography and ethnography of communal violence in India.)

Amar Singh - The State of UP Politics

'I will do anything, repeat anything, to defeat the BJP.'
If a government falls in Uttar Pradesh, Amar singh should be there. And he is; still engaged in high level meetings the jet-setting Samajwadi Party general secretary swears to bring down the Bharatiya Janata Party. He denies that he has brokered the deal in Lucknow to topple the Kalyan Singh government and to bring in Jagdambika Pal. But he is very much in the thick of all that happens in the most populous state of the country. And when he gave an interview over the telephone to R R Nair he had no qualms about revealing his practical ideology: "I would do anything. I repeat anything, under the sun to defeat the BJP." He gives a clear indication of how politics is played in Uttar Pradesh saying that the Loktantrik Congress leader is with him right now but wouldn't know how Agarwal would behave the next hour.
(From The Rediff Election Interview.)

Rajiv Lochan - Modern Art and Representation

Rajiv Lochan, Lord Shiva Transformed Into Lingam

Nivedita Menon - Feminism and Politics

On Sexuality:

Well, here's bad news for normal society --"normal" sexuality is no private matter. The assumption is that "normal" sexual behaviour springs from nature, and that it has nothing to do with culture or history. But if we recognize that sexuality is located in culture, we have to deal with the uncomfortable idea that sexuality is a human construct, and not something that happens "naturally." Consider the possibility that rules of sexual conduct are as arbitrary as traffic rules, created by human societies to maintain a certain sort of order, and which could differ from place to place -- for example, you drive on the left in India and on the right in the USA. Further, let us say you question the sort of social order that traffic rules keep in place. Say you believe that traffic rules in Delhi are the product of a model of urban planning that privileges the rich and penalizes the poor, that this order encourages petrol-consuming private vehicles and discourages forms of transport that are energy-saving -- cycles, public transport, pedestrians. You would then question that model of the city that forces large numbers of inhabitants to travel long distances every day simply to get to school and work. You could debate the merits of traffic rules and urban planning on the grounds of convenience, equity and sustainability of natural resources -- at least, nobody could seriously argue that any set of traffic rules is natural.
(From India: Section 377: How natural is normal?)