April 16, 2021

Image/photo

Origanum syriacum growing in the woods nearby.

Amazon

It's just over a year since I closed my Amazon account, in protest over its conditions for workers. I was never a prolific shopper, but I'm glad I closed that account. Companies like Amazon deserve to be boycotted.

Links blog

How colonialism eroded Pakistan’s history of religious fluidity | History News | Al Jazeera

“Pre-colonial identities were fuzzy, unclear,” says Qasmi. “People used to negotiate with multiple identities and movements. So there was no contradiction in a Hindu visiting a Muslim shrine or vice versa. The Hindu/Muslim, as we understand them today, was yet to be crystallised. Things began to change with the colonial state, with the arrival of modernity.

“Modernity doesn’t like this fuzziness. Identities needed to be indexed, clearly defined. They had to be determinable. People were pigeonholed according to the preconceived notions of the officers of the colonial state."

In the Indian subcontinent, Islam and Hinduism (as well as various other religions) existed together for many centuries, long-enough that ordinary people managed to overcome their differences (if they ever really had any). Saints and holymen (of which Kabir is probably the most famous example) were loved by Hindus and Muslims alike, and both would flock to their tombs. The British, with their divide-and-rule policies, and then weaponized modern forms of Islam and Hindutwa, intervened to spoil intercommunal harmony. Traditions of what this article calls religious syncretism and fluidity , that were gradually built over centuries, were violently broken apart. Nowadays, such syncetism persists mainly in certain far-away villages. Amitav Ghosh describes the worship of the guardian spirit Bonbibi in the Sunderbans, by both Hindus and Muslims, but there too, the religious syncretism is breaking down.

There will always be those who say that the bloodshed and betrayal that came later proves that these good relations were really a myth all along. The same is often said about other situations where people of different religious communities coexisted peacefully for a time, from Andalusia to Morocco to Yugoslavia. But one can also see the outbreak of conflict as the aberration, and the periods of quiet as the natural condition. Neither interpretation is completely accurate. It is simply that traditions of tolerance and intercommunal harmony are built gradually and painstakingly, but can then be easily shaken. What humans need to do is find ways of creating bases of reconciliation that are resilient to being undermined by new ideologies or political expediency.

California student body demands ban on caste-based discrimination | Education News | Al Jazeera

“All of these inequalities associated with caste status have become embedded in all of the leading South Asian American institutions and they extend into American mainstream institutions that have significant South Asian immigrant populations,” it said, noting that such discrimination “has long been overlooked by American institutions”.

I hadn't considered that caste-based discrimination migrates so well to America and elsewhere, but it stands to reason.

Purple revolution: India’s farmers turn to lavender to beat drought | Global development | The Guardian
'Lavender’s easy-to-grow properties makes it popular with farmers, he says. “The income generated from lavender farming is much better than growing crops like maize. One hectare of land can generate as much as 30 to 45 litres of lavender oil, which is in high demand as an essential aromatic oil.”'

Colombia’s cartels target Europe with cocaine, corruption and torture | Drugs trade | The Guardian
Armed Belgian police raids have lifted the lid on a sinister new front in the drugs war

France to ban some domestic flights where train available | Air France/KLM | The Guardian
MPs vote to suspend internal flights if the trip can be completed by train within two and a half hours instead

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