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Month: March 2016

The EDSA revolution at 30: what does it mean for the poor Philippines 2016?

Written by Pauline Eadie.

It has been 30 years since the EDSA People Power Revolution in the Philippines. Filipinos unified across the class spectrum to rid the Philippines of the Marcos family. Sectors of society that were traditionally at odds with each other such as the military, the church and the left overcame their differences to bring about a peaceful revolution. President Marcos and his remaining loyalists fled to Hawaii on a United States supplied plane once it became clear that his position was no longer tenable and that his ally Ronald Reagan was not going to ride to his rescue. 

How Macedonia found itself at the centre of Europe’s refugee crisis

Written by Ljubica Spaskovska.

Distressing scenes have been unfolding on Macedonia’s border with Greece, where police have been using tear gas on refugees attempting to break through a razor wire fence designed to keep them out.

Given the recent tone of the debate about the migrant crisis, it is all too easy to dismiss this response as heavy handed. But Macedonia is a small state caught up in a domestic crisis of its own. It aspires to join Europe but has seen many of its would-be partners turn their backs on this shared burden.

India has never had a single dominant nationalism – and it won’t any time soon

Written by Amalendu Misra.

Ever since Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party came to power, plenty of ink and pixels have been spent trying to explain the ascendancy of Hindu nationalism in India. But while the BJP’s concept of “Hindutva” has sparked angry protests across the country, most recently at Jawaharlal Nehru University, there are plenty of other Indian nationalisms out there – and none has ever had a monopoly on national identity.

Bengali poet and thinker Rabindranath Tagore once said that “India has never had a real sense of nationalism”. True, there was a very successful anti-colonial movement, but it didn’t necessarily create a unifying sense of nationalism amongst its citizenry.

Dangerous Freedoms: Some thoughts on Gender, Caste and Development in India

Written by Kalpana Karunakaran.

Gender violence cannot exist on the scale it does in India unless there is endorsement and social sanction for it or at least for the conditions that breed violence against women. To understand better the idea of social sanction, I suggest we see gender violence, not only as the horrific acts of sexual assault, rape and torture that seize public attention and evoke visible protests and outrage, but as a spectrum, a continuum of everyday practices that are part of the ‘normal’, the ‘routine’ and the ‘taken-for-granted’ as we experience it. Take, for instance, the pervasive tolerance for street sexual harassment or ‘eve teasing’, its rationalization or indulgence as a form of masculine sport associated with the young, an upsurge of ‘young hot blood’ or a legitimate exercise of manhood. Or take the condoning of ‘domestic’ violence or violence within households. In a Tamil movie released in 1959, a popular song ‘adikkira kai thaan anaikkum’ (the hand that hits also embraces) has a drunkard alternatively beat and embrace his wife who weeps her way through the song even as she supports her staggering husband! The notion that women are fully human autonomous actors is a radical idea that still does not find purchase in many parts of India. But how do we account for the failure of this idea to take root and flourish in India more than sixty years into the life of the Indian republic? Perhaps some of the answers might be sought in the nature of development and capitalist modernity in India and the paradoxes and contradictions they have spawned for Indian women.

Super Tuesday: Clinton and Trump lift off as rivals straggle behind

Written by Todd Landman.

The results of “Super Tuesday”, when a clutch of US states voted to choose the two parties’ nominees, have seriously ironed out both the Republican and Democratic primary campaigns. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton scored major gains, and their rivals are now fully on the ropes. It may be that the campaigns are finally stabilising after a truly wild start to the primaries.

Donald Trump has bounced back remarkably from his loss in Iowa. He went into Super Tuesday having won New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina; he’s also seen off experienced Republican candidates including onetime frontrunner Jeb Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – who has made the shocking move of endorsing Trump, to widespread disgust.

Philippines 2016: The Crises of Representation in the Philippines and the Role of Charter Change

Written by Aries A. Arugay.

The Aquino Administration would like to believe that it has made strides in improving transparency and accountability. While there is empirical support for this, corruption is not the only gripping problem of Philippine democracy. There is also a need to improve government responsiveness, political inclusion, and popular participation. There is reason to believe that current political leadership has not paid attention to these dimensions of democracy. With this in mind, the 2016 elections should be an opportunity for the new administration to explore instituting political reforms by amending the 1987 Constitution.

Existing assessments of Philippine democracy reveal a current state of stagnation. Democratization, a process that was rebooted in 1986, seemed to be trapped in suspended animation. One study attributed this to the inability of the democratic regime to integrate different groups within society to the electoral process as well as policy-making. The long-list of identified challenges relate to dynastic politics, costly elections, clientelism, weak political parties, and the absence of meaningful public participation. The deficits, if not addressed, could worsen into a full-blown crisis of representation as seen in other countries, some of which descended into a downward spiral of polarization and instability.