ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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How Do We Rescue Human Rights from Rhetoric?

The human rights discourse today needs to introspect on how it can visualise competing degrees of resolution of human rights ideas advocated by different agents, without harming the principles that are worth retaining.

Region without Regionalism

Three decades have passed since the inception of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. It still is virtually a non-starter and has not addressed any substantive issue. Intra-regional trade is minuscule. India and Pakistan show little interest in the organisation. Without judging their respective foreign policies, it is argued that South Asian regionalism is not on their agenda. Three questions arise: Is South Asia at all a region? How much does the strategic divide between India and Pakistan, with China factored in, come in the way of South Asian regionalism? Why should India bother about regionalism when its policy of bilateralism serves it fine? To probe these, the region's history, global perceptions of the region, India's foreign and educational practices, and interstate relationships are discussed.

Vernacular Nations

Postcolonial Asia offers at least seven types of states and nations. In their somewhat uncritical pursuit of total nationalism, territorial Asian states compete with their archipelagic cousins. The sea gypsy nations--spread across the South China Sea and other East Asian states--reject the monopoly of land as the only inhabitable space, discounting territory as an essential constituent of a nation. Ironically, while history kept them outside the fold of the territorial states, the present attempts to co-opt them. Only by challenging, as the Asian sea gypsies do, land's claim to being the sole inhabitable territory within law, and rethinking the sea as a place of danger can we truly vernacularise our statist imaginations.

Buying into the Aakash Dream

The low-cost Aakash tablet and its previous iterations in India have gone through several phases of technological changes and ideological experiments. Did the government prioritise familiarity and literacy about personal technological devices over the promise of quality mass education generated by low-cost devices?

Development and Human Rights

Human Rights The Right to Development: Reflections on the First Four Reports of the Independent Expert on the Right to Development edited by Franciscans International, Geneva, January 2003.

'Disappearances' in Kashmir

The disappearance of large numbers of persons in Kashmir, what the UN Declaration on the subject terms as 'enforced disappearance', is a matter of national shame. However, it has not evoked much concern in the country, even from civil liberties organisations or, till very recently, from the National Human Rights Commission. Against this dismal background Zahir-ud-Din's book Did They Vanish in Thin Air?, which documents in authentic detail 139 cases of enforced disappearance, deserves the widest attention.

Witness to History

Trumpets and Tumults: The Memoirs of a Peacekeeper by Major General Inderjit Rikhye; Manohar, Delhi, 2002; pp 266, Rs 500.

Brutal Wars and a Malevolent Peace

The cost of a botched peace in Iraq would be even higher than the price of a bloody war. The world community has to decide how best it can hold the US accountable for its crimes in Iraq. The alternative - acquiescence in the hit and run strategy that the US has raised to a fine art in the last few decades - would be an unaffordable luxury in the current state of international relations.

A Strategy to Stop the War

The only way to put a definitive end to the war is to force a withdrawal of the coalition forces. The UN now has a chance to redeem itself as an institution standing for a just and democratic global order. A new super power has emerged - world public opinion - and for the first time has challenged US domination over the UN. The anti-war movement needs a two-pronged campaign: to call for a UN General Assembly session to order a withdrawal of US-UK troops from Iraq, and to put an end to US dollar hegemony.

Protecting Migrant Workers

The international convention seeking to protect rights of migrant workers that comes into force in early 2003 is path-breaking in several ways. It seeks to establishes international standards of treatment for migrant workers and their families.

Caste Discrimination and UN

The United Nations Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination, concluding its discussion on descent-based discrimination, strongly condemned caste practice in south Asia. This describes a new framework for moving towards the elimination of caste-based, descent-based discrimination.

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