If any book can change the fortunes of markets amid such mayhem, then From the Great Transformation to the Great Financialization by Kari Polyani Levi
Atia Naqvi, the 96-year-old grand dame of Lucknow, and perhaps the last in the line of elegance and grace, died recently. When I heard that she is no more, my immediate fear was that a lot of love that is already in short supply may have also departed from earth with her.
I wanted to write about Atia as a lesson to myself on ‘becoming’ love. But I did not know how to do so in words. Would it make sense to you if I said that Atia was one person I knew who was a personification of love?
Ever since Taksim Square and Gezi Park hit the headlines in May, Hulya Gulbahar, leading lawyer and women’s rights activist in Istanbul, has been on my mind.
When I was last in Istanbul, I recall sitting with Hulya in one crowded pavement eating house after another till the wee hours of every morn. What we did was to drink, eat, laugh a lot and talk politics around a table full of women.
A very good idea like the European Union (EU) is in such a mess today. Talk to those who are still able to think on the continent, and you will be told that this is because the European project is unfinished business. Economy alone does not make a community happy.
The EU came into being to economically unite the constantly warring nation-states on the continent. The rationale was that when economic interests are at stake, member states will not wage war on each other.
Some of the good, bad and ugly things that Margaret Hilda Thatcher indulged in as Britain’s longest-serving and only woman PM were inspired by Vienna-born Friedrich August Hayek. The economist, philosopher and Nobel prize-winner lived at the turn of the last century when monarchies were being torn down and crowns dribbled like a football in the interest of the maximum good for all in society.
When I first arrived in Vienna, way back in 1982, I made a beeline for the city office of Solidarity. At that time the popularity of Lech Walesa, founder of Solidarity two years earlier in Poland, was at its peak. Not much was known about eastern European countries in those days. It was extremely difficult for people of those countries to travel abroad and foreigners found it almost impossible to visit. But there was so much to know about what was going on in that closed country. The question was how?
West or East, it seems that the plight of many women worldwide is depressing. In Europe, at least 45 per cent of women face physical abuse, and 10 per cent have suffered sexual abuse at some stage in their lives. European Union figures show that at least 1,000 women die every year due to domestic violence. For the same reason, European countries continue to struggle to put domestic violence at the centre of all reforms of national policies.
There is absolutely no way of knowing whether Muslim people annoy Narendra Modi as much as Jewish people had annoyed Austria-born Adolf Hitler who instigated and then lost the last world war.
But both Modi and Hitler are mentioned here in the same breath because of a sense of deja vu over the euphoria in Gujarat today.
In leaderless times like today, people like Bruno Kreisky are missed most.
Eric Hobsbawm, who died recently at the age of 95, was admired for speaking against social banditry. Throughout his life, the illustrious historian nursed his conscience and highlighted the barbarity of modern times.
Why did Hobsbawn think and write the way he did? Did his work emerge from a particular cultural milieu? How much is Vienna responsible for shaping the thought of one of the greatest intellectuals of recent times?
Irene and myself became friends because of our mutual love for food. Founder of BookaCook, Irene is quite a celebrity in Vienna. She is the fuel in the kitchen of Austria’s Slow Food movement and the toast of events that matter most not just in the Austrian capital but around the Alpine country. Although her catering company, BookaCook, is booked out for months at events ranging from weddings to international conferences, Irene had little clue about what vegetarians eat in India.
I don’t know if his fans from around the world do this as well.