Monday, March 11, 2013

M.J. Akbar at Simon Fraser University, 2012

M.J. Akbar's talk at Simon Fraser University, July 12, 2012.
This is about 1.5 hours long.  Akbar's main talk occupies around 13:30 - 48:20.  The conversation continues after that.   One of the important ideas is that Pakistan is at the epicenter of the fourth World War, which is not captured in the snippets below the fold. M.J. Akbar likens the Pakistani establishment in the war against terrorism to the Nazi collaborationist Vichy government of France in World War II.  One problem with that comparison is that M.J. Akbar does not identify the Resistance.  Indeed, the world's problem is that there is nothing that can be identified as the Pakistani de Gaulle.

(around 36:40)
"Who ever tells you the British Raj was a great thing for India, please send that person to me!"

(around 39:22)
"Democracy is the right to speak nonsense every day!"

(around 40:19)
paraphrase - Muslims and Christians have lived together as long as Muslims and Hindus; but there is no Dante in India, please read the Inferno to understand what I mean.

(around 43:09)
China is a success story, but it is not a modern nation.

(around 44:30)
paraphrase - If you don't treat the girl-child like you treat the boy-child, no one will invite you to the 19th century, let alone the 21st century.

(around 47:23)
paraphrase - If you want to recognize a country, look at its textbooks.

(around 55:00) Akbar talks about the Saudi-Pakistan strategic partnership, and the pusillanimity of Washington and Ottawa.

(around 58:57) paraphrase - the real story of India of the last ten years is that political rewards are going to good governance.

(around 1:06:00) paraphrase - How can we forget that during 1943-45, while Hitler was killing 6 million in Europe, 3-4 million Bengalis were dying of hunger? That was the nation that that generation inherited!

(around 1:08:00) (addressing the value of cultural exchanges with Pakistan, while it is better than nothing, it is not addressing reality)  There is no point in saying that cancer can be treated with band-aid.

(around 1:11:19) paraphrase - if this generation (of Indians) had to write a constitution, I don't know what it might have created, perhaps fundamental rights for telecomm. companies.

(around 1:15:00) India has discovered the miracle of common-sense.