The power balance – India v Facebook

Even officials in India, a major power, struggled to get the company to listen. Indian pressure on Facebook, however, has dropped since the arrival of new government leaders who rose, in part, on a Hindu nationalist wave still prevalent on social media.

NYT: With Alex Jones, Facebook’s Worst Demons Abroad Begin to Come Home

Culture of Relativism

Mandela was prepared to break ranks with his fellow African leaders and condemn oppression. He did not indulge the ruinous culture of relativism and solidarity that had led to so many abuses in Africa passing unrebuked.

—Alec Russell, in ‘After Mandela


I love the term ‘Culture of relativism’. It’s a much better name for what’s come to be known as ‘whataboutery’ in the social media age.

Culture of relativism is also something that’s made a strong comeback in the era of social media empowered populism across the globe.

Welcome to the UK…

They were initially bemused by the complexity of bus timetables, bin collections and—most of all—by the changeable weather. “In our country, when it’s summer, it’s summer,” says Ziead Alsaouah, Mr Batak’s son-in-law.

—The Economist | After the exodus


I had a very similar reaction to the weather when I moved here 8 years ago.

North India, where I spent the first 24 years of my life, has a very predictable weather. When it’s summer, it’s hot and dry for months on end. When it’s the rain season, it’s raining almost every day for a month. And when winter arrives, it’s bitterly cold, mostly dry, and frequently foggy (recently smoggy) for months on end.

Contrast that to the weather here on the island – it’s common to have at least two seasons in a day. Three’s not uncommon either. We had two months of constant dry, warm summers this year, and it’s already caused a mild panic. If we get a week of snow in the winter, news bulletins are full of ‘snowcalypse’ references.

It’s unsettling, at least initially, for people coming from places with stable, ‘continental’ weather patterns. Where culture, life, traditions, activities are based on the season, what do we do when the seasons just aren’t anymore?

Continue reading Welcome to the UK…

Friendship, intimacy, commerce, and the West

In the East, I’ve heard it said, there’s intimacy without friendship; in the West, there’s friendship without intimacy.

Karan Mahajan, in The New Yorker

Continue reading Friendship, intimacy, commerce, and the West

A tale of two (secular) countries – 🇮🇳 & 🇹🇷

In constitutional terms, Turkey is a secular country. But whereas in most places this implies the separation of religion and state, in Turkey it means state control over religion.

The Economist: Turkey’s religious authority surrenders to political Islam

Their belief is that cow protection is central to Hinduism, and Hinduism is the core of Indian nationhood, even though the constitution says that India as a nation belongs to all religious groups. Cow protection and nationalism have got intertwined.

FT: Narendra Modi’s illiberal drift threatens Indian democracy


Please tell me that I’m not the only one who’s been seeing this connection between nationalism, religion, conservatism, and (crony) capitalism in India, Turkey and elsewhere?

Leading the curve: Russia.
Ahead of the curve: Turkey.
In the pack: India, Poland, Hungry, US, UK, Thailand, and more…