Season Round-Up: Refractions off the Spheres

Forced Labour: Over-timed Feudalism?

Speto & Samuel Buchoul 30 June 2014 J John & Praveen Jha 23 June 2014
At the 89th minute of a historic game on the evening of 30 July 1930, Hector Castro scored one last goal to give a convincing victory to his team, Uruguay, making the hosting country the first FIFA World Cup winner. The event was international from the very beginning, but taxing travel technologies had made South American nations a majority in the tournament. Uruguay was the de facto world champion, since their victory in the 1928 Olympics, but it also won the bid as its government offered to refund all the participants’ expenses. Moreover, the tournament was meant to time with the centenary of the publication of the country’s Constitution, enacted on 18 July 1930. From its inception, 84 years ago, the celebration of the World Cup has always been a window on all the facets of its context ― technique, economy, history, culture, politics. This is so, because the World Cup is truly a translocal event, despite the layered agendas of international organisations. As we close our first season of Inter-actions debates, Brazilian street-artist Speto walks the memory lane to redefine the street as the pulse of today’s Brazil, between football, creation and protest. In another life journey, writer Samuel Buchoul meditates upon the moody fervour of French supporters and imagines the new philosophical challenges of the ‘old west’.Read button
While the gols in Brazil have been giving us our nighttime thrills, the days that just passed also presented us with some uninspiring developments. The annual International Labour Conference attempted to reach a consensus over the ratification of a protocol reinforcing the implementation of legal measures against forced labour. But this significant meeting saw some conspicuous oppositions: the new military regime of Thailand voted against the treaty, while most of the Gulf countries abstained. A minority group, which India seemed quite tempted to join. Are we witnessing a historical turn, where emerging powers dare defy international bodies on what could have been thought some time ago as irrefutable improvements on the working conditions of human beings? Or, are we indeed moving towards a healthy acceptance of alternative views on socio-economic practices within specific cultures, rather than homogenising the notion of work by negating all local dynamics of labour? Then, is there a way of doing it with care and sensitivity without violating human rights or falling into hegemonic traps? In this week’s Inter-actions, labour rights expert J John reflects on the initial resistance of the Indian representatives towards the ratification of the universal protocol. Academic Praveen Jha puts the event into relief, returning to the various historical stages of the regulation on forced labour in India, towards its distressing state today.Read button

Crimea: The Heart of Russian Pre-Occupation

Football: Beauty on the Defensive?

MD Nalapat, Willie Mc Loud
& Dominik Tolksdorf
16 June 2014 NS Madhavan
& Hyginus Uchenna Okoronkwo
9 June 2014
Ever since the establishment of the Taurida Governorate in 1802, Crimea has been seen as Russia’s western-most extension. Last stop before the enchanting dream of a Russian Constantinople, Crimea, in the 19th Century, came to be known as the ‘heart of Russian romanticism’. The peninsula, shining forth its idyllic myth, has remained a touristic spot attracting millions of visitors, especially Russians. But, through the years, the old fantasy seems to have petrified into a cornerstone of the post-USSR Russia’s belated nationalist imagination, and in its resultant power struggle, and regional imbalances. The latest of these saw the pro-Russia separatists shooting down a Ukranian military transport plane two days ago, killing all 49 crew and troops aboard. So, is Crimea’s startling return to the foreground of the world’s attention affirming that it is still the heart of Russia’s fervent pre-occupations, yet, a bleeding one? In this week’s Inter-actions, we bring you an international exchange on the geopolitical stakes of/on Crimea. Political editor MD Nalapat traces the roots of the annexation back to the severe ties imposed by the US-led Western powers of the late 1990s. South African author Willie Mc Loud evaluates the options of Russia and its remaining allies, and worldwide repercussions of the crisis. Finally, researcher Dominik Tolksdorf offers an internal view of the prospects and opportunities of Poroshenko’s Ukraine.Read button
Some say it is Pelé, some others attribute it to Didi, even as the official credits go to commentator Stuart Hall. All are talking about ‘The Beautiful Game’. In any case, there is no doubt: football deserves that title. And, what is a better time to bend the ball around our ongoing reflection on beauty than now, as the World Cup is just round the corner? It is adrenaline season, not just in the host country, but everywhere in the world, where this ball is alive and kicking. But do the spirit on the field, carnival colours and billions of fans suffice to efface the game’s decadent environment today? The market, social inequities, and the sheer counter-effects of its worldwide success have tarnished many a vital dimension of this sport-culture. Is football still the Beautiful Game? In the next four weeks, Brazil may provide an updated response to football’s legendary equation with beauty. In this week’s Inter-actions, writer NS Madhavan returns to the early association of football with beauty, before problematising its heritage vis-à-vis the contemporary landscape of the game. Hyginus Uchenna Okoronkwo, Nigerian attorney and football enthusiast, offers a contrasting view, highlighting the organic harmony of the movements of the game, and its unequalled power to connect nations.Read button
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Haiku & Ghazal: The Metaphysics of Beauty

Kala Ramesh & Len Anderson 2 June 2014
Our age has become a literal Nanjing Road: wordy devices of love, billboards and news hours clamour for our sensory apprehension and instant approval. Not so long ago, we knew the word as medium, signifier, a means to a meaningful end. Today, our words seem to allow themselves to be readily flung into violent stage shows of information, analyses, comments and opinions. Amidst these carnivals of tautology, could we reclaim the word as an inspiring playground of the beautiful? If we reassess traditions of beauty in language, we may receive the topically relevant realisations of Japanese aesthetics, for instance, organised around the principle of MA, the silence that separates words and thus gives them enough space for their meanings to emerge. Or Ghazal poetry, perhaps, which sets at its heart the creative tension between contrary terms, an aspect that our noise-afflicted media world could lease for life. In this week’s Inter-actions, Haiku poet Kala Ramesh celebrates the quest for the succinct in her favoured tradition. Poet-Physicist Len Anderson discovers Ghazal and physics as the two sides of his search of the unknown.Read button
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the writers are their own. LILA Inter-actions will not be responsible for the views presented.

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