September14

Ebola: Treating Viral Cultures

Dividing Waters: The Valley in Distress

Christian Nkanu & Pachuau Lalmalsawma 26 September 2014 Somnath Bandyopadhyay & Nirmal Selvamony 19 September 2014
‚ÄúScars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.‚ÄĚ How could the calm wisdom of McCarthy‚Äôs Alfonsa not resonate when this spring saw the re-opening of an oh-so deep wound? The marks of a past, of our past, this violent Ebola outbreak ‚Äď but the marks of a past forgotten, too, perhaps, as the virus spreads freely while we remain largely insensitive to its intimations. A cloudy background, this colonial history that never closes off, leaving some of the poorest countries of the world still at the mercy of the self-indulgent Ethics of Care of today‚Äôs superpowers, stuck on the old fantasy of a homogenised humanity. Their only possible defence: a rather forced discourse of physical resistance, a tragic parody of the invincible man once dreamt by Western medicine. Could the 2014 Ebola outbreak invite governments towards considering the possibilities of another policy of health management, breaking the historical centre of nations towards a multi-polar, decentralised understanding and practice of health? In this week‚Äôs LILA Inter-actions dialogue, Congolese virologist Christian Nkanu questions the lack of anthropological considerations in the campaigns of international health bodies in western Africa, and he calculates the risks of a spread to India. Nodal Officer for Ebola management in Mizoram Pachuau Lalmalsawma presents today‚Äôs means and scope for administrations preparing for a potential outbreak.Read button
Miles away from the flood-affected Valley, the ground seems firm in India‚Äôs mega-cities. Journalists, politicians and administrators pat each other‚Äôs back on the successes of the rescue efforts, and deservedly so. It is another matter that just a few months ago, warnings were disregarded as unreal prophesies. Today, even as the bleary-eyed land slowly recoups its resolve, it seems, some essential lessons the waters threw us have been missed, like airdropped food packets. Perhaps, after another year, when time proves again its cyclicality, frantic searches might be launched to retrieve them. The Valley reminds us how our understanding of, and responses to, cataclysms clearly point to the alarming discontinuity that is increasingly qualifying our relationship with nature. Every day, our professional world moves us a little further away from the cardinal social functions that have built humanity. Our office hours do everything but help us recall the fundamental objective of work as organising the social repartition of nature‚Äôs resources. Our education, before that, apparently gave up the practice of interacting with and understanding the material cultures of each of our learning spaces. How do we manage these¬†disasters? In this week‚Äôs LILA Inter-actions, Somnath Bandyopadhyay regrets the logic of media agendas that increasingly surfaces after each natural event, and he sees in the very concept of ‚Äėdisaster management‚Äô the cause of our helplessness. Nirmal Selvamony goes two millennia back in time to see, already in the earliest attempts of environment control, the immediate reaffirmation of nature‚Äôs demand for freedom.Read button

Fortifying the Brew: The Highs and Lows of Moderation

Smart City: No Man’s Methodology?

K.C. Rosakkutty & Manoj Yesodharan 12 September 2014 MN Buch & Vinita Yadav 5 September 2014
‘Only a thorn can remove a thorn.’ Recently, one event echoed the old Buddhist saying: the vexed move of Kerala to rid the state of the ills of the brew. Yes: the very state that figures with the highest per capita consumption of liquor in the country. The thorn of avarice first, when the period 2008-2012 saw a rise of 100% in liquor-based revenues for the state, through a nation-high rate of 120% of the product price. The thorn of drastic impatience, secondly, reflected in its government’s decision, a few weeks ago, to head for total prohibition. The facts of alcohol are known, and are very often tragic, but if a wrong tool is used while attempting to remove a thorn, it may create a more entrenched problem. In trying to dislodge a thorn using another thorn, one might just seat it deeper, far below the skin, even adding up the number of thorns inside one’s body. An enigma of ache, indeed! The cure might as well be eliminated… Thus, we must discuss: can governance, in our times, afford to believe in a ‘politics of the definitive’? In this case, can we resort to prohibition as the last, and everlasting recourse to moderate moderation? And what can administrators opt for in the interstices of partially brewed solutions? This week on Inter-actions, K.C. Rosakkutty confirms prohibition as a necessary step, but a first step, that must be followed by a real societal effort towards a change in habits and culture. Manoj Yesodharan recalls the special place of the commodity of alcohol in Kerala’s history, to reassert the need for regulations, but of a different kind.Read button
‘The city’ has always held an undeniable place in our imagination of space. History offers numerous examples of how the ‘making’ of a city tends to add intriguing dimensions to human experience. The world order has shifted many a time since the days of the Greek city-state, the eternal Roman city, the ancient Indian puras…¬†Today, as a fair deal of humanity gathers around our mega-metropolises, urbanisation seems an irrevocable process. Governments feel the pressure to build more and newer variants of the city. For instance, the newly appointed Indian government has announced the shiny and luring project of 100 smart cities. As we approach the deadlines, we also watch an empty field growing between the conception and the construction of these spaces. Is the smart city a no man‚Äôs land of methodology in today‚Äôs urban planning? This week on LILA Inter-actions, we turn towards two experts, to explore the present situation of policies, methodologies and actual development for the smart cities in India. MN Buch assesses the various kinds of ‚Äėnew cities‚Äô that have cropped up in history, and urges the government to work for conceptual clarity before embarking on execution. Vinita Yadav lists the necessities that the smart cities have to satisfy, even as she insists that they must be well thought out, planned and executed in a dense relationship with an organic regional planning.Read button

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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