There is nothing so absurd as just one day of love, Valentine’s Day

by Rashmee

Posted on February 15, 2018


I’m not a culture warrior but Valentine’s Day does seem rather an odd reason to either feel threatened or liberated. Every year, there are extreme observations of the so-called day of love – a profusion of roses, candlelit dinners, or as a pitched battle against a western siege of ideas. Valentine’s Day has become a … Continue reading “There is nothing so absurd as just one day of love, Valentine’s Day”

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Plastic pollution is already a big problem. This year it just got bigger

by Rashmee

Posted on January 23, 2018 / The National


Here’s what the small Alpine town of Davos could be discussing today, but won’t. The use of traditional materials to replace plastic waste. More specifically, the annual meeting of global political and business elites could consider tangibles. For instance, the kulhar, the unglazed earthenware pots South Asians have been using as food containers for hundreds … Continue reading “Plastic pollution is already a big problem. This year it just got bigger”

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What? Japan is populism-free because a populist heads the government!

by Rashmee

Posted on January 22, 2018


Ian Buruma, editor of ‘The New York Review of Books’, recently asked an interesting question. Why is Japan free of populism? But then he followed it up with a rather strange answer. Apparently, Japan is free of populism because “elements of right-wing populism are at the heart of the Japanese government”. Let me explain. Japan’s … Continue reading “What? Japan is populism-free because a populist heads the government!”

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The tapestry of Macron’s active diplomacy – more than Bayeux and Britain

by Rashmee

Posted on January 20, 2018


They’re calling it gesture diplomacy, French president Emmanuel Macron’s instinctive use of ceremonial events, symbolic gifts, history-laden references and pageantry reminiscent of times past to deal with foreign countries. Consider this: Ahead of Mr Macron’s arrival in Britain on Thursday, January 18, it was made known that he would loan it the Bayeux tapestry. That would … Continue reading “The tapestry of Macron’s active diplomacy – more than Bayeux and Britain”

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UK’s plastic-wrapped cauliflower ‘steaks’ go to the heart of West’s waste problem

by Rashmee

Posted on January 15, 2018


I return to a UK aghast at the assidously plastic-wrapped cauliflower “steak” sold by Marks & Spencer for nearly five times the price of a whole head of the brassicaceous vegetable. This revulsion at needless plastic wrap (and yet more non-biodegradeable waste) comes at a particularly interesting moment in world consciousness. Britain is a rich … Continue reading “UK’s plastic-wrapped cauliflower ‘steaks’ go to the heart of West’s waste problem”

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Tunisia protests a truth told elsewhere: ‘There’s no magic money tree’

by Rashmee

Posted on January 12, 2018


Today I leave a Tunisia that’s once again featuring high on international news bulletins. That’s on account of violent protests across the country. Eight years after the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, Tunisians in several cities are protesting against their government. Not about the government’s make-up but about its policies, particularly the austerity measures. Tunisians are upset … Continue reading “Tunisia protests a truth told elsewhere: ‘There’s no magic money tree’”

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The perils of teaching history through popular culture

by Rashmee

Posted on January 2, 2018 / The National


Should it matter in 2018 that an American politician named Mike Huckabee recently watched a film about Winston Churchill, a leader who’s been dead more than 50 years? Yes, because Mr Huckabee did more than simply watch Darkest Hour, the new film on Churchill. First, he drew his own conclusions. Then, he drew parallels between … Continue reading “The perils of teaching history through popular culture”

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Dictionaries have never been so political and this may be unsatisfactory (adj)

by Rashmee

Posted on December 31, 2017


Just consider the way dictionary-publishers ended 2017 and rang in the year. Merriam-Webster, the American publisher, declared that its word of the year was “feminism”. This, in recognition of the January 21, 2017 Women’s March, as well as the #MeToo movement denouncing sexual harassment. Nothing too wrong with that one might think. After all, the Women’s … Continue reading “Dictionaries have never been so political and this may be unsatisfactory (adj)”

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Trump vs Churchill? How do you learn the right lessons from history?

by Rashmee

Posted on December 30, 2017


Mike Huckabee watched a film, drew his own conclusions and stirred up a storm. Mr Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and now chiefly famous because his daughter, Sarah, is Donald Trump’s press secretary, made the startling and provocative claim that President Trump is the Winston Churchill of the 21st century. Mr. Huckabee had watched “Darkest … Continue reading “Trump vs Churchill? How do you learn the right lessons from history?”

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Europe in the #Alternative #2017 of the space-time continuum

by Rashmee

Posted on December 28, 2017


Every year-ender ends on an uncertain note. The space-time continuum demands nothing less. Pay attention to the tone of all those web listicles, newspaper box items, editorials and year-ender features. They’re not definitive. How can they be? How can you measure events in a finite amount of time when time is not finite for all … Continue reading “Europe in the #Alternative #2017 of the space-time continuum”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, UK and US