ABU DHABI (Airport, just passing through on the way back to Toronto) – I was in Islamabad for the 100-day mark of the elected government. It had fractured over the inability to make any clear move to deal with the situation on the border with Afghanistan, the inability to address the economic problem, and the indecisiveness over whether to reinstate the supreme court judges sacked by Musharraf.
An amended version of a talk given to the Secular Collective in Kozhikode, Kerala, India. August 2, 2008 in honour of TK Ramachandran.
by Justin Podur
First of all, thank you for allowing me to be a part of the honouring of TK Ramachandran. I did not know him, but I have done a little bit of research now, enough to know that he was not someone who shrunk from a debate or a discussion. I hope we can live up to that spirit here today.
PONKUNNAM, KERALA, INDIA – Sorry for not sharing much since the nuclear deal went through. It is partly because I was busy with non-political matters in Kerala, family visits and kalaripayatu (the martial art of southern India that I study as a hobby), partly because internet access was not quite as complete as it had been in Islamabad or Delhi. But partly there was a good reason, which is that I was actually doing some talks and events here. Thanks to Badri Raina and Girish Mishra (see the previous blog entry on “A Day in Delhi” for more about them) I was introduced to the tireless Sudhir Devdas, who is in charge of R & D at an independent Malayalam newspaper in Kozhikode, Mathrubhumi, which has about 1.2 million circulation (and is the second biggest paper). I described Junaid Ahmad, who organized my trip to Pakistan, as a ‘fixer’, but Sudhir has a couple of decades on Junaid and is a truly masterful orchestrator. Once Badri and Girish introduced me to Sudhir, I had a chance to connect to a lot of what was going on in media and politics in Kerala.
Thanks also to Sudhir I was introduced to folks from a group called the Secular Collective, who organized a lecture for me on the continuing relevance of the left in India. Another connection was through Stephen Shalom from ZNet and via him, Richard Franke, an academic who specializes in Kerala development. Franke introduced me to S Gregory at Kannur University, who organized a talk for me on climate change and development. So I had the chance to prepare these talks, share them with very engaged audiences and panelists including from the fantastic KSSP (Kerala People’s Science Movement) and SEEK (Society for Environmental Education, Kerala), and other academics. It was a real treat to be able to participate in this way. I have not yet transcribed either of these talks, but I will publish at least one of them here in the coming days, and both hopefully in the coming weeks.
I am currently in a pretty small town (Kozhikode, where I came here from is actually a pretty big city with an international airport), again visiting family. I will be here for a few more days before I head back to Canada. Unless I get a chance to write up and publish the talks, this will probably be my last entry until I get back to Toronto.