Pacts and Impacts

In recent weeks, we have celebrated the demise of a fascist, fundamentalist regime in India, dismantled through mass electoral politics. The South Asian Left has much to be proud of at this juncture — but also much to reflect on. Although fundamentalism has been momentarily thwarted, will shining neoliberal policies prevail?

In this issue, instead of an actual forum, SAMAR solicited and accepted articles on various topics and let the themes reveal themselves. In the spirit of India's democratic upset, or upswing, rather, a lot of our contributors bring up ideas for organizing and movement building, redefining and transcending accepted notions of identity, culture and solidarity, and questioning globalized and international policies.

Biju Mathew provokes us once more, with a second installment of his editorial on organizing in the desi left. In the last issue, he explored the myopia of a politics that refuses to move beyond identity-based personal experience. Reflecting on the responses he received from his readers, he now expands his argument to explore, among other things, an individualist, even nationalist, mistrust of those who commit to working within voluntarist organizations. Has the desi left, he asks, largely abandoned the anti-war movement? Fire away your own opinions. That's what we're here for.

In that vein, we also have added a new feature — the Organizer's Corner — where we hand over a set of questions to organizers about their work and they duly answer. This issue features South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY).

On the international front, Surabhi Kukke and Svati Shah give us an inspiring look at the World Social Forum held a few months ago in Bombay. CP Pandya explores the impact of outsourcing on local farmers — the results of an exchange between the states of the US and India that is reminiscent of a Devil's Pact. In Pakistan, Saadia Toor explores another Faustian pact, that of the Pakistani government's move to recognize Israel as a state. And Linta Varghese, in her review of Satish Menon's film, Bhavum, explores the effects of privatization on the lives and repressed passions of three individuals in a household in Kerala.

With the rising fear and curiosity in the West regarding Islam, Canadian media spokesperson and lesbian writer, Irshad Manji, releases her book, The Trouble with Islam. Is she writing an honest letter to the Muslim people to internally critique their religion or is she playing into a larger xenophobic project? Raeshma Razvi and Maryum Saifee give us their reviews. As deportations and detentions continue, Sami Khan contemplates the fallacy of multicultural Canada and the efforts of the detainee support group, Project Threadbare, as he watches a friend being deported in Toronto.

As for art and culture, the South Asian Sisters based in the Bay Area ask the always worthy question: if your vagina could speak, what would it say? We present an excerpt from their performance of Yoni Ki Baat, the South Asian version of "The Vagina Monologues." Without a doubt, South Asians have hit the big time here in the US. We go to the UK to investigate what happens to art when it is co-opted by the mainstream through a review of Parv Bancil's play Made in England. Back home, our Manu Vimalassery interviews the philosophical pianist and composer, Vijay Iyer, who ponders the discursive potential of music.

We definitely want to hear more from our readers, this time. We have set up a space for discussion so please rant, rave and reflect at will. And do send us your work for the next Issue of SAMAR Magazine. We accept editorials, articles, reviews, art, poetry and fiction.

SAMAR is still exploring the most effective way of reaching a larger audience and whether we should move completely to the web or go back to the print version. Tell us what you think. About everything.

Thanks for your support.

In Solidarity,
The SAMAR Collective
Sumitra Rajkumar
Anandaroop Roy
Manu Vimalassery
Saba Waheed


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