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Dr Shreeram Lagoo: The sensitive rationalist always on the social beat – Hindustan Times

Posted: December 18, 2019 at 9:27 pm

It was 1980, when there was no kind of help for social work, nor were there any non-governmental organisations in place. Dr Lagoo and Ram Apte set up the Samajik Krutadynata nidhi (a corpus fund to give a monthly honorarium to cover the basic needs of social workers). This was set up to support fulltime social activists.

He came up with an appeal to bring actors from film and theatre together to devote time for this good cause. He brought famous actors like Nilu Phule, Reema Lagoo and Sudhir Joshi together and staged Lagnachi Bedi, written by playwright Acharya Keshav Atre and took it across Maharashtra.

After the play, Dr Lagoo would walk with a jhola (bag) and appeal to the audience to donate for this fund. He used his strength as an actor for social causes and even volunteered, and it showed his passion for social causes. All these plays in far-out, small villages, where there were no good hotels, were co-ordinated by my father. None of the actors raised any compliant but went along with Dr Lagoos idea of raising funds.

This is still continuing today because Dr Lagoo set the tone. Actors make time to volunteer and continue this fund. This funding was also the beginning of a friendship between my father and Dr Lagoo. They had a common stream, a rational outlook towards life. While Dr Lagoo was an aethis and, my father was an activist running the AndhaShraddha Nirmulan Samiti, they still had common ground. They then decided to hold a debate Vivek Jagarache Vadh Samvadh, which would travel across villages in Maharashtra. Dr Lagoo would drive in his own car to the villages through out 1992-1993. During these debates, Dr Lagoo used to put forth his radical atheist argument, with a case for the retirement of God, and my father used to argue the case for opposing what was exploited in the name of God and religion.

They even faced angry mobs together, people who broke down the stage, interrupted their debate and even blackened Dr Lagoos face, but he never gave up. What he did in life was always with a rational outlook towards life and always lay emphasis on his beliefs through the faculty of reason.

After my fathers killing, Dr Lagoo was shaken and he was present for the protests that followed.

Dr Lagoos passing has created a vacuum. His legacy stands for truth, which is a rare thing. He performed in both theatre, and the social movement, leaving his footprint behind.

- Hamid Dabholkar, son of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar who was murdered by right-wing fundamentalists, remembers Dr Shreeram Lagoo as not just an actor, but a very sensitive human being with a scientific mind. Dabholkar is today a member of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (Mans), the organisation formed by his father.

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Shriram Lagoo (1927-2019): Acting legend and rationalist leaves behind a rich and complex legacy –

Posted: at 9:27 pm

Shriram Lagoo, who died on Tuesday in Pune at the age of 92, was an astute tightrope walker, constantly balancing his passion for theatre with his love for cinema. His artistry ensured that he left a rich legacy on both the stage and the screen.

Lagoo was born on November 16, 1927, in Satara. He described his childhood self as a bathroom actor, caught between a desperate love for theatre and a deep fear of audiences. An experience of crippling stage fright as a child had left Lagoo so wary that he had renounced the thought of acting in plays. But he was deeply inspired by Hollywood stars such as Paul Muni, Spencer Tracey and Ingrid Bergman, and would declaim classical Marathi monologues performed by the likes of Nanasaheb Phatak, Keshavrao Daate and Mama Pendse in the style of British and American actors while locked in his room. These early influences shaped Lagoos approach towards acting: he could convey deep emotions with little more than a glance or gesture.

The eldest son of a successful doctor, Lagoo studied medicine at BJ Medical College in Pune, while also acting in five full-length plays and 15 one-act plays in a five-year span. Despite his passion for the stage, Lagoo decided to continue his medical education, and acquired a specialisation in ear-nose-throat surgery before moving to Africa.

In an interview to Doordarshan, Lagoo confessed that he might have quit medical college if an institution like the National School of Drama had been available to him at the time. But there was absolutely no prestige associated with actors then, he recalled.

An undeterred Lagoo quit medicine in 1969 at the age of 42 and returned to India, determined to pursue a career in theatre. After a few months of struggle, he bagged the role of Sambhaji, the son of the Maratha king Shivaji, in Vasant Kanetkars Ithe Oshalala Mrityu. Although his initial plays were not commercially successful, Lagoos obvious talent attracted attention.

His career in theatre reached a high in 1970 with VV Shirwadkars Natsamrat, in which he played Ganpatrao Belwalkar, a thespian who retires from the stage after portraying Shakespearean characters but is unable to escape the drama of familial clashes. The demands of the character were so intense, and Lagoos immersion in the part so complete, that the play was regarded as the cause of his deteriorating health at the time.

Felicitated with the Sahitya Akademi Award, Natsamrat ran successfully for more than four decades, and was remade in 2016 as a film starring Nana Patekar.

Other acclaimed plays, including Kachecha Chandra and Himalayachi Saawli, earned Lagoo the lead role in V Shantarams Pinjra (1972). With a nuanced performance as a principled village teacher in his very first film, Lagoo showcased his ability to mould his talent to suit the cinematic medium.

Lagoo was associated with the turning points of the careers of several stalwarts in Marathi theatre and cinema. He acted and directed the long-running Gidhade. Vijay Tendulkars play is an early example of the acclaimed playwrights trademark style of delivering incisive social commentary in unadorned but impactful language. Lagoo was also a protagonist in Saamna (1974), the debut film of celebrated director Jabbar Patel.

Brazenly political and deeply insightful, Saamna depicted the clash between self-satisfied and corrupt sugar baron Hindurao (Nilu Phule) and a righteous, Gandhian drunkard known as Master (Shriram Lagoo). Lagoo modified his voice and body language to suit Masters languorous personality, acting as the perfect foil to Phules pompous Hindurao. Lagoo also acted in Patels political drama Sinhasan (1979), in which he was memorable as a wily and sophisticated minister.

Lagoo was meant to make his debut in Hindi cinema with the Jaya Bachchan starrer Aahat, but the film was never released. Instead, he appeared in Suresh Kumar Sharmas Mere Saath Chal. Although he acted in several Hindi films, including Hera Pheri, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and Laawaris, his characters in these movies were not written with the depth and nuance that his talent deserved.

Bhimsains Gharonda (1977) was an exception. Lagoos performance as a canny and self-serving businessman earned him a Filmfare award for Best Supporting Actor. He also shone in a brief role as Gopal Krishna Gokhale in Richard Attenboroughs Gandhi (1982).

Despite several successful films, Lagoos dedication to theatre never wavered. When asked by television anchor Tabassum if his increased involvement in cinema would hamper the Marathi theatre circuit, Lagoo shook his head with great regret. I dont know if they will miss me, but I miss theatre, he told Tabassum. When I was absorbed in cinema and couldnt act on stage for two and a half years, I felt like something very wrong was happening in my life.

Lagoo remained resolute in his disdain for the division between theatre and cinema and commercial and experimental art. This disavowal of binaries reflected in his performances. Although he remained sensitive to the differences in the mediums, and adopted subtler mannerisms in cinema, Lagoos basic style never wavered. His acting prowess hinged on his clear and captivating voice, which he painstakingly modulated. Lagoos piercing gaze was also a vital element of his performances.

Raised in a politically inclined household, Lagoo had great belief in the subversive potential of art, and maintained that actors must become instruments of social change. A vocal rationalist, he worked to debunk myths about religion and spirituality, often openly rejecting the idea of an all-powerful god and ruffling many feathers in the process. He was closely associated with the anti-superstition movement in Maharashtra championed by social activist Narendra Dabholkar.

Inspired by Bengali thespian Shambhu Mitras advice, Lagoo believed that an ideal actor should be an athlete as well as a philosopher. Consequently, despite an early heart attack, he remained physically fit enough to continue acting well into the eighth decade of his life. He returned from a sabbatical with a wrenching performance as the aged politician Nana Chitnis in the Marathi political drama Nagrik (2014).

Lagoo was awarded a Padma Shri relatively early in his career, in 1974. He went on to win a number of awards, including the Kalidas Samman presented by the government of Madhya Pradesh, the Dinanath Mangeshkar Smruti Pratisthan for his contribution to Marathi theatre, and the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi fellowship. In his autobiography Lamaan (Carrier of Goods), Lagoo describes his tendency to win awards as a bad habit, but he never could break it. He was awarded the lifetime achievement award by the youth theatre group Thespo as late as 2016.

Shriram Lagoos equanimity is evident in his autobiography. As he narrates his triumphs and failures without modesty, ego or self-absorption, Lagoo is often sweetly emotional and sharply critical much like his performances.

He writes, When one is lucky enough to chase their most deeply desired dreams, even the scant few pleasures afforded by life have the capacity to humble lifes mountainous burdens of pain. Audiences who have watched him perform will be glad he chased his dreams, and helped them weave their own fantasies in the process.

Also read:

Classics revisited: Sinhasan is Marathi cinemas own game of thrones

Gharonda remains one of the most resonant films about Mumbais housing woes

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In Conversation with Howard Ross Social Justice Advocate – Thrive Global

Posted: at 9:27 pm

The editor at the New Rationalist, a wonderful progressive news site, recently interviewed me and I would like to share it with my readers at Thrive Global:

Howard Ross is a lifelong social justice advocate and the founding partner of Cook Ross, a leading Diversity and Inclusion consultancy. Hes considered one of the worlds seminal thought leaders on identifying and addressing Unconscious Bias. His new book,Our Search for Belonging: How the Need for Connection Is Tearing Our Culture Apart, describes how to bridge the divide in our increasingly polarized society. Today we ask him a few questions on his work and the political climate in general.

In your own words, what is social justice?

In my mind, social justice is a societal structure in which justice is consistently applied to all, regardless of racial, cultural or gender differences, socio-economic status or other identities.

What does a social justice advocate do?

In my role as a social justice advocate, I endeavor to act and speak in a way that addresses removing any barriers to justice for all, or that establishes policies and practices that achieve justice for all. This also includes being an active ally toward people outside of their own group who are being treated unjustly.

Why did you choose this line of work?

I became an activist as a teenager, inspired by being in a family that had a significant loss during the Holocaust, and also had activist roots. After studying organizational development work, the two merged in the 1980s when the diversity movement began.

What has been the most challenging professional role you held? Why?

Probably my most challenging role has been owning and leading a company in which Ive had to balance the needs of staff, clients and the bottom line.

Disagreements are omnipresent in politics and daily life. Lately, it seems to have taken on a more malicious face. Or has it always been this way? What are the reasons for so much vitriol in political discourses these days?

I think its reasonable to suggest that the polarization were experiencing is more intense than the past, though its always challenging to compare different eras. As with any complex system, there are a number of contributing reasons. The pattern of political consolidation in both parties has moved us from a historical dynamic in which people were issue-oriented as in, I might agree with you about gun rights and foreign policy, but I disagree with you about civil rights and domestic policy to one in which were now identity oriented Youre one ofthem!

The polarization is exacerbated by international conflicts between nationalist and globalist perspectives, and the bifurcation of media sources that create distinct streams of information and blur the line of whats considered true.Of course, politicians who take advantage of these differences and feed the fear by demonizing people on the other side throw fuel on the fire. Finally, underlying racial tension has contributed to the dynamic, especially since the parties have become increasingly racially defined.

Tell us about your book.

The book is an attempt to help readers understand how human beings are drawn to be part of groups, and why were so impacted by the groups that were a part of. We look at how these dynamics impact race, religion and politics, and how it shows up in organizations. Finally, we investigate ways that these dynamics can be addressed.

In the preface of your book, you posed a paradox: our compulsion to connect with other human beings often creates greater polarity, leaving us deeply connected with some, yet deeply divided as a society. Can you illustrate this with an example?

If we look at the current political situation, we see many examples. Given that both the left and the right have moved towards more doctrinaire positions, its almost become necessary to reject one group in order to fit into the other group.

Do you think that the media, online and offline, is only adding fuel to this fire?

No question that this is the case. We used to get virtually the same information from three basic media sources: ABC, NBC, and CBS. Now, between cable news, social media and online news sources we get completely different streams of information. In addition, the news is now dominated by punditry. Sources dont share information as much as they share opinions about the information. We might say were not watching the news anymore as much as were watching people who are watching the news and analyzing it for us.

From religious to workplace communities, politics has seeped into every sense of community that humans have built. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?

There arent many advantages. The major disadvantage is that its made it more difficult for a broad range of people with different ideas to work or pray together.

Multinational companies and several universities have come under attack by trolls as a result of their efforts to ramp up diversity and inclusion. What causes people to attack such initiatives?

Often a lack of understanding, but its fair to say that failed diversity approaches have contributed, as well. The propagation of a Us vs. Them mindset seems aimed at certain people and an attempt to fix them. This has caused a backlash effect. In addition, many people in dominant groups have a false sense of how fast these changes are happening and feel threatened.

In your opinion, what is the most important factor that influences the way we see the world the way we do?

We see the world through the lens of our experience. The mind then interprets whats happening through that lens. We might say that we see the world not as it is, but as we are.

Echo chambers have existed since long before Facebook became what it is today. How has social media made the situation worse?

Its omnipresence in our lives only exacerbates the echo chamber in which we often choose to live. It follows us throughout the day and we can pick and choose who we interact with so that most people only end up interacting with people who agree with them.

What are the signs that you are living in an echo chamber?

When everything and everyone around you seems to have the same point of view that you do. Although our natural pattern is to live inside relatively homogeneous communities, we will have to be willing to consciously reach out to others outside our inner circle and invite them in. That means people of different races, cultures, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, ages, abilities, and disabilities and, yes, even different political orientations.

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In Conversation with Howard Ross Social Justice Advocate - Thrive Global

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The Varieties of Mystical Experience – Psychology Today

Posted: at 9:27 pm

Source: Pavlenko Volodymyr | Shutterstock

A mystic is anyone who has the gnawing suspicion that the apparent discord, brokenness, contradictions, and discontinuities that assault us every day might conceal a hidden unity. Rabbi Lawrence Kushner1

As a psychiatrist, I routinely hear about all sorts of unusual perceptual experiences, and not just from people who are psychotic. A wide variety of psychiatric, neurological, and other medical conditions can cause distorted perceptions. Some of these conditions involve disordered or diseased states affecting the brain; some are transient; and some occur in otherwise healthy, normal peoplefor example, trancelike dissociative states, and perceptual distortions associated with hypoglycemia and sleep deprivation, among other factors.2

Some distorted perceptions are entirely normal phenomena but are outside the range of most people's usual life experiences. There is also the simple but potent power of suggestion, as well as numerous sources of perceptual illusions, and very many powerful cognitive biases that affect how people interpret and recall their experiences.

Seeing is believing3

It is said that seeing is believing. But actually, believing is seeingwe often see what we believe to be there, misinterpreting our senses in illusory ways. Moreover, our senses sometimes creating perceptions out of nothing at all. When people experience perceptions of non-real things in ways that are indistinguishable to them from other aspects of their actual reality, the last thing they are willing or able to believe is that those perceptions could have been due to their own brain malfunctioningtheir mind playing tricks on them.

People tend to trust their physical senses and to believe what their own brain tells them, no matter how bizarre. They will layer explanations on top of their perception of reality to explain away contradictions. Since we experience the external world entirely through our senses, we find it hard to accept that these perceptions are sometimes entirely subjective and not necessarily reliable experiences of objective reality. After all, what else can we trust and depend on more thanour own senses?

Subjective perception can seduceeven hardened skeptics

American author and political activist Barbara Ehrenreich, who describes herself as "a myth buster by trade," wrote earnestly about an unusual subjective perceptual experience she had that serves as an excellent example of the way we give our subjective experience too much credence. I consider it a good illustration precisely because I admire Ehrenreich as a very intelligent and critically-minded person.

She has persuasively argued elsewhere for evidence-based, reality-based thinking. It is therefore ironic that she would be so captivated by her own subjective perceptions, as described below,and take these so seriously. If such an astute skeptic can be overwhelmed by the power of her own subjective perceptions and emotions, then the rest of us ought to have less confidence in our own rationality, and to be very wary of the power of emotion and subjectivity to skew our critical thinking.

A furious encounter with a living substance

Ehrenreich wrote about this particular experience decades after it happened to her one morning in 1959 at age 17, on a ski trip:4The experience "shook my safely rationalist worldview and left me with a lifelong puzzle. Years later, I learned that this sort of event is usually called a mystical experience."

She recognizes that because of poor planning and insufficient money she was sleep-deprived and probably hypoglycemicthat morning in 1959, when:

"I stepped out alone, walked into the streets of Lone Pine, Calif., andsaw the worldthe mountains, the sky, the low scattered buildingssuddenly flame into life. ..just this blazing everywhere. Something poured into me and I poured out into it. . .It was a furious encounter with a living substance that was coming at me through all things at once, too vast and violent to hold on to, too heartbreakingly beautiful to let go of.5

She felt a kind of unity with all of nature, living and nonliving, all recruited into the flame and made indistinguishable from the rest of the blaze. She felt ecstatic and somehow completed, but also shattered.

Mystical experiences represent some sort of an encounter

Ehrenreich hadpreviously had other unusual but less intense experiences and had been medically assessed as having a dissociative disorder (commonly associated with perceptual illusions and feeling detached from reality or having dreamlike states). She was also the type of child who habitually spent a lot of time absorbed in her own thoughts and internal world during her difficult, unhappy childhood.

An avowed atheist since childhood, Ehrenreich rejected a theistic explanation for her experience but is open, all these years later, to considering that the universe might be suffused with some sort of vaguely mystical Otherness or animistic energysome as-yet-unidentified pervasive life-form permeating all of nature, possibly conscious and possibly very powerful.

She postulated that mystical experiences represent some sort of an encounter, giving us tantalizing glimpses of other forms of consciousness, which may be beings of some kind. She wondered if the universe is pulsing with a kind of life, which might be capable of bursting into something that we might momentarily experience like the flame she thought she saw that day.

She suggested that science should not dismiss mystical experiences as mental phenomena and should take seriously the possibility that these experiences really do represent some sort of encounter with some unknown, vital, conscious force in the universe. She proposed that we need more subjective accounts.6

Considering that in her other writings Ehrenreich has stressed the need for realistic and unbiased thinking, it is all the more striking that she should regard her own subjective perceptions as a reliable source of evidence for the nature of objective reality. This illustrates just how compelling subjective perception can bethe only thing that makes Ehrenreich's experiences remarkable and impressive to her is that they are hers.

Instinct leads, intelligence does but follow

Subjective experiences of seemingly unexplained mystical-type encounters, as well as experiences of eerie coincidences, are among the most powerful reasons why people are prone to religious or spiritual beliefs. William James, the father of American psychology and an influential philosopher, published a wide variety of firsthand accounts of subjectively powerful mystical experiences and revelations collected from people from all walks of life.7 The experiences typically led to strong, long-lasting, even lifelong religious convictions, because they usually reinforced belief in a divine cosmic order.

James wrote, Whoever possesses strongly this sense comes naturally to think that the smallest details of the world derive infinite significance from their relation to an unseen divine order8in other words, everything happens for a reason.He referred to the difficulty in overriding these irresistibly convincing subjective perceptions with logical thought:

I spoke of the convincingness of these feelings of reality, and I must dwell a moment longer on that point. They are as convincing to those who have them as any direct sensible [sensory] experiences can be, and they are, as a rule, much more convincing than results established by mere logic ever are. . .If you do have them, and have them at all strongly, the probability is that you cannot help regarding them as genuine perceptions of truth, as revelations of a kind of reality which no adverse argument, however unanswerable by you in words, can expel from your belief.9

According to James, people's reasoned intellectual philosophies are often formed as ways to rationalize their irrational subjective-intuitive experiences. Once formed in this way, these beliefs cannot easily be shaken by rational counterarguments:

The truth is that in the metaphysical and religious sphere, articulate reasons are cogent for us only when our inarticulate feelings of reality have already been impressed in favor of the same conclusion. Then, indeed, our intuitions and our reason work together. . .The unreasoned and immediate assurance is the deep thing in us, the reasoned argument is but a surface exhibition. Instinct leads, intelligence does but follow. If a person feels the presence of a living God after the fashion shown by my quotations, your critical arguments, be they never so superior, will vainly set themselves to change his faith.10

More willing to doubt the laws of physics than to doubt our own minds

Clearly, we find our own subjective perceptions arrestingly compelling and are more willing to doubt the laws of physics than to doubt our own minds. People underestimate the capacity of our brains to create their own convincing realities. They underestimate how powerfully realistic some dissociative experiences, hallucinations, and other well-recognized mental/neural misperceptions can seem.

Come and sit in my office for a week and listen to people argue passionately (and even seemingly rationally) that their demonstrably implausible perceptions or beliefs are real. Then judge for yourself which explanation is more plausiblethat the bizarre experiences that you will hear described are actually real, or that the human brain can easily fool us into believing weird things.

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The Varieties of Mystical Experience - Psychology Today

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Take the lead – Daily Pioneer

Posted: at 9:27 pm

The domino effect of protests over fee hikes and citizenship law shows that a mass student movement may be possible

The protests over the new Citizenship Act, which promises religion-based acceptance of refugees and excludes the concerns of minorities and indigenous people, may congeal as a mass student movement thats rearing its head across the country in a manner reminiscent of the anti-reservation stir of the 90s. As the young Assamese stood up for their linguistic and cultural pride, one that has been threatened since colonial times by waves of privileged Bengali-speaking settlers, their marginalisation has found echoes across the country. Students at various colleges and universities, even in faraway Delhi, are out to challenge not just the autocracy of the ruling regime but occupy the space for balance, humanism and logic that has been vacated by civil society, Opposition leaders and rationalists. This confluence of students, therefore, comes from generational solidarity, from their stakeholdership in an India that is being created by selfish politics but will leave them suffering the consequences and unlearning what we have raised them to believe, to hold the establishment to account. Perhaps, it is getting endorsement because of the silence from a coopted majority. For the new Citizenship Act is not about reimagining India in a positive way but about reconstructing on ruins and relics of our civilisational foundations. It is not about denying immigration rights to Muslims but the selective culling of whom we want on our land that goes against the grain of the Constitution, one of the best documents that guarantees our citizenry equality. It is about creating a fear psychosis among the majority community that for the first time believes it has been a victim of parasitic minorities, no matter how small their numbers. It is about a One India based on Hindu nationalism that disregards, as in the North-east, the emotions of locals who have over the years reclaimed their political rights as national parties have merrily played around with demographics, encouraging immigration for votebanks, first Muslim, now Hindus. It is about upending stability that has been hard-earned in a diverse India. In that sense, the BJP has, by fomenting disunity, probably gifted a plank of unity that might just lead to a transformative and revolutionary student movement. If the mass coalescence following the Nirbhaya rape, the Dalit atrocities, the Rohith Vemula suicide and fee hikes at institutions is any indication, then the young are getting restive. If the 90s fed the drive for economic empowerment in a globalised world, then millennials are looking at value-creation of a different kind, one that keeps them connected to their identity than be submerged by the homogeneous hold of power. One that is not intellectual fadism of campus politics but can be carried into the real world, one that is not just anger against the system but about claiming it.

Perhaps this is the reason why students in Assam, unlike the anti-outsider movement of the late 1970s and early 80s, are spontaneously coming together as an amorphous force. They have demonstrated peacefully by and large through blockades, gatherings and processions. It is the police clampdown which has been harsh in comparison, both in the State and even in Delhi. The All Assam Students Union (AASU) may be leading the protests like the old times but has been joined by university students and even farmers and tribals. And so far they have decided to stay away from politicisation by national parties, be it the BJP or the Congress. Technology and media outreach have helped mobilise support, scale up the new law as a transnational issue and has even inducted peers in the diaspora. Student movements in India today may begin local but then draw traction in the broader context. This is the reason why the JNU fee hike agitation spread to all other institutions and became a swell of anger against fee hike in the higher education system in general. The Hok Kolorob movement in Jadavpur University, against the abrasive arrogance of the VC, had a domino effect with demonstrations being staged across India, including Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. But in recent times, it is the Hong Kong students protest, with human chains, night vigils and Nelson Mandela songs, whose innovation and energy have even compelled a totalitarian China to take a step back. The good part about this non-violent resistance against the regime was that it could not be demonised by the establishment but weaponised the entire worlds sympathy. In the same way, the new wave of home-grown student movements could very well capture the national imagination. Once young people have freed themselves from State fear, then we may yet reap a true democratic dividend.

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Take the lead - Daily Pioneer

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Theatre and film actor Dr Shriram Lagoo passes away at 92 – The New Indian Express

Posted: at 9:27 pm


PUNE: Eminent theatre and film actor Dr Shriram Lagoo died due to age-related ailments at his Pune residence on Tuesday evening, family sources said.

He was 92.

"I spoke to his son-in-law. He passed away due to age-related complications," playwright Satish Alekar told PTI.

Lagoo, who was a trained ENT surgeon, played important role in the growth of theatre movement in Maharashtra in post-Independence era alongwith Vijay Tendulkar, Vijaya Mehta and Arvind Deshpande.

As an actor, his roles in Marathi plays such as "Natsamrat" and "Himalayachi Saoli", and films such as "Pinjra" made him popular.

In Hindi, he essayed memorable roles in films such as "Ek Din Achanak", "Gharonda" and "Lawaris", to name a few.

Lagoo, affectionately known in theatre circles as `Doctor', was also known for his progressive and rationalist views which he expressed without fear.

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From small town boy to significant contributor – The Age

Posted: at 9:27 pm

Completing teacher training at Melbourne Teachers College and Melbourne University with TPTC, BEd and later BA, his first appointments were at Yea and Seymour.

His fledgling career however, suffered successive setbacks. In 1953, on a holiday in Europe Mac was hospitalised in Bern, the Swiss capital, with TB and quickly repatriated back to Australia and into the Melbourne Sanatorium. He spent most of 1954 recovering in Tallangatta.

Malcolm 'Mac' Ronan.

In 1957 while a teacher at Macleod High School and driving home from school one day, he was involved in a head-on collision with a truck that left him comatose for the two weeks, resulting in hampered mobility and a permanent limp. The truck driver was jailed for drunken and dangerous driving.

In 1955, he was appointed teacher at his childhood Tallangatta school, the year before the planned relocation of the town. The school was transported to its new location over the Christmas period, and Mac found himself teaching in the same classrooms two months later but five miles away. He cherished that experience.

With loyalty, tact and resourcefulness, Macs outstanding qualities of scholarship, and leadership, augmented his professional skills as a teacher. His gentle disposition and adaptability saw him through often trying situations.

By the time he joined the Victorian Institute of Colleges in 1969, he had taught for 20 years with the Victorian Education Department, administering in English, history, and mathematics. He served as senior master and as acting principal on several occasions.

Mac had become aware his teaching was increasingly infused with current social issues, and also aware of the new discipline sociology, common in the US. He took a teaching position with the Victorian Institute of Colleges and set his goal of graduate studies. The college also felt a need for growth in the social sciences and made possible Macs travel and enrolment in a masters sociology program at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the US.

He graduated MA in 1971 and continued into doctoral studies in sociology for two more years, graduating as PhD in 1974. This culminated in his appointment at Caulfield Institute of Technology as head of department of applied sociology, later absorbed by Monash University.

Under his 10-year guidance the department attracted and trained able and well-qualified staff, developed a wide range of innovative courses and gained a highly regarded reputation for applied social research.

Macs principled and compassionate nature led him to play a prominent role in the evolution and betterment of Melbournes gay community with his founding of a grassroots organisation that helped in the subsequent gains of the gay minority.

Minorities had been his main area of focus in his academic pursuits, just as the gay rights movement was emerging in the 1970s. Macs embrace for minorities and, in the case of the gay community, led to the important social and support organisation he founded in 1980 ALSO (Alternative Life Style Organisation). The goal was to encourage the use of resources to improve prospects for gay people. He believed in gay people taking charge of their own futures and not as second-class citizens.

With his dulcet tones, Macs friendliness had a certain magnetic quality that drew people to him enabling a competent team of which he was president for 10 years.

ALSO was instrumental in the establishment and development of a wide range of gay organisations including the Victorian AIDS Council (Thorne Harbour Health), Radio Joy Melbourne, the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard (Switchboard Victoria), the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and Midsumma Festival. He was proud that ALSO helped a lot of people find a place in the sun.

A rationalist and proud Australian, he was delighted when secular Australia voted decidedly on the plebiscite of 2017 and that justice was done in the court of public opinion.

Mac paid tribute to his forebears who had risked all and made audacious, often treacherous journeys to the other end of the world, to become pioneers of this country, with two award-winning family histories, Across The Threshold (1993) A Ronan Family History, from Kilkenny to Victoria, and Up and Down the River (1998) the Butlers from Benenden.

He honoured his hometown with the celebrated Old Tallangatta a Town to Remember (1995). Seeking to recapture the flavour of the first 100 years, when Tallangatta had its exciting day in the sun, through the daily lives of the people who lived far from the citys crowds in the lush valleys of the Mitta River and the Tallangatta Creek.

Two more hometown tributes are Hearts in Stone the saga of Tallangattas war memorials (2000) and The Century Book Old & New Tallangatta (2001, with Harold Craig).

A fine pianist, he shared with partner Geoff a love of music, the cinema, stage musicals and travel. He propagated and raised peppercorn seedlings for tree lovers, created cryptic crosswords and puzzles, for The Senior and Coast and Country and in later years taught English to adult migrants at local community centres.

Meeting Geoff at the Princess Theatre, in 1948, while attending The Skin of our Teeth was the beginning of a devoted 72-year partnership and they were still together, in shared accommodation at their Kew nursing home.

Peter Jacovou was a friend of Mac Ronan and is executor of his estate.

From small town boy to significant contributor - The Age

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From Brown’s bigot to Brexit and Boris – Dhaka Tribune

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Is Labour being punished for flip-flopping?

On a campaign stop during the 2010 UK election an elderly woman named Gillian Duffy, later identified as a lifelong Labour voter, complained to then-Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown about high immigration from Eastern Europe into the UK.

Following the interaction with Duffy, Gordon Brown -- while still wired to a live microphone -- complained to a staffer and called the woman a bigot.

The live microphone picked up the comment, a media maelstrom ensued, and Browns floundering hopes of winning the 2010 election were dashed once and for all.

Boris Johnsons resounding win over Jeremy Corbyn last week reminded me of that incident 10 years ago. To say that Boris Johnson won seats in Labour strongholds would be an understatement.

Constituencies that had only elected Labour MPs for 70-80 years switched to the Tories, as the Conservative Party is known in the UK.

The reality is that Browns Labour bigot became a Brexiteer, and then, a Tory. This may come as a shock to the wider public but it is no surprise to most political pundits and party functionaries.

Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party campaigned against Brexit during the 2016 referendum. The Leave campaign won the referendum with strong support from Labour voters in traditionally Labour constituencies.

The Labour party seemingly got the message and voted for the parliamentary bill invoking Article 50, a procedural requirement for the UK to leave the European Union.

However, earlier this year, Corbyn did another backflip and decided to oppose Brexit, calling for a second referendum where Labour would campaign to keep the UK in the EU.

In three years, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party was against Brexit, then for it and again, against it. It is hardly a surprise that Labour voters who strongly favoured Brexit punished the Labour party for flip-flopping.

Political expediency and flip-flopping aside, the question of why working-class voters in Labour heartlands wanted Brexit requires deeper analysis.

The signs of working-class grief and disenchantment with Labour politics was evident as early as 2010 in Gillian Duffys sentiments and Browns insulting dismissal.

Western advanced countries with ageing populations have seen labour force participation and employment numbers either stagnate or, even worse, decline.

Relatively older populations understandably feel anxious about their future and care deeply about issues of economic security.

Centre-left parties have not only failed to address the concerns of older voters but have also been tone-deaf in their economic policy posturing.

They have placed too much rhetorical emphasis on economic opportunities for the future to attract younger, urban voters, while largely ignoring issues of economic security that affect suburban and regional voters.

Centre-right parties have stepped in to fill that political void. The conservative message of trying to preserve the socio-economic status quo, or at least attempting to slow down the pace of change, resonates with older voters.

Immigration and multiculturalism is another such issue where the stars have aligned for the right, both in terms of economics and politics.

Older voters see immigration as an issue of economic security. Immigrants will either take away jobs from native job-seekers and/or lead to lower wages and lower standards of living.

And while there is no denying that the topic of immigration triggers xenophobic hysteria amongst some segments of the population, the vast majority of the voting public perceive immigration as a jobs issue.

Economic rationalists -- and I count myself as one -- wax lyrical all day about the wider economic benefits of immigration as if it were a self-evident truth that transcends politics.

The liberal, rationalist literati have been complacent and dismissive of working-class anxieties and have failed to grasp how demographic and economic structural change is shaping the political discourse of our time.

Injecting identity politics into that conversation through condescension and ridicule, be it Gordon Browns bigot or Hilary Clintons basket of deplorables, only fans the flames of discontent and disenchantment.

To be fair, right-wing politicians say equally bad things too, if not worse. But trying to find equivalence, or the lack thereof, between what the right and the left says completely misses the point.

Taking a majoritarian position in favour of preserving the status quo is always going to be more of a vote-winner than trying to give voice to the upwardly-aspirational, minority class.

Boris Johnsons honeymoon period following this thumping win will end at some point and the hard job of governing and winning the hearts and minds of the voting public will overwhelm his government too, as it does every government.

UK Labour will probably bounce back too, perhaps with a better leader, perhaps sooner rather than later.

But the underlying forces of demographic and economic structural change that ageing, western societies are experiencing will endure and continue to shape the politics of our time.

In the midst of all this disruption and evolution -- politicians of both hues have the unenviable task of setting policy agendas that will inevitably lead to winners and losers.

In the democratic interplay between actual and perceived winners and losers, centre-left parties need to acknowledge that their brand of progressive politics resonates less and less with an older, majority voting bloc.

The politics of change and reform that disenfranchises the ageing, struggling majority is a recipe for political oblivion.

Nofel Wahid is an economist.

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Israeli Journalist who Interviewed the Rebbe Passed Away – – Good News

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Former Knesset MemberGeulah Cohenpassed away today. In 1964 she had ayechiduswith the Rebbe, and published an account of it in the Israeli daily Maariv. Read her report here.

Geula Cohen passed away today at the age of 93. She was a well-known public figure from the right-wing camp in Israel, who previously served as Deputy Minister in the Israeli government, a Knesset member and journalist.

Cohen worked extensively in the public arena in the struggle for shleimus haaretz. Cohen was also one of the main opponents of Prime Minister Menachem Begins decision to hand over the Sinai to Egypt.

Thanks to her many roles, she gained a special connection with the Rebbe, including a sequence of correspondence. While serving as a senior journalist in the Maariv newspaper, she also had a unique yechidus with the Rebbe during which she interviewed the Rebbe. She later published an account of her yechidus in the Israeli daily, Maariv. A translation of her account is published below.

Courtesy of

The Believer

I have been in the company of wise men, men of great learning and intelligence, men who were superior artists. But sitting opposite a true believer is quite a different matter. After having met a wise man you remain the same as before you have become neither less of a fool nor more of a sage. The education of the man of learning hardly rubs off on you, nor does the artist endow you with any of his talents or inspiration. Not so with a believer. After having met him you are no longer the same. Though you may not have accepted his faith, you have nevertheless been embraced by it. For the true believer believes in you as well.

TheLubavitcher Rebbe, RabbiMenachem Mendel Schneerson, of Brooklyn, the spiritual leader of the WorldChabadMovement, is both wise and learned, but above all he is a man of faith. And if faith be the art of truth, he is also an artist whose creation is the army of believers that he commands, the army of the Jewish faith, of theGdofIsraeland the people of Israel.

What about the belief in the Land of Israel?

To ask the Rebbe this question I first had to get to him. Jewish legend says nothng about how exactly the angels were received in audience by the L-rd, but had it wanted to it might well have taken its inspiration from the manner in which I managed to be received by the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

First of all, as with every ordinary mortal, there is, of course, the secretary with fixed reception hours and a long waiting list, except that here the secretary does not ask you what you intend to discuss with his boss. That is a matter between you and the Rebbe himself. Here, even if you may sometimes have to wait for days on end, anybody and everybody is eventually admitted. And the reception hours are not in daytime, but at night all the night through. The day is for learning, the night for talking.

At 11 oclock at night? I repeated, when told by Rabbi Hodakov, the Lubavitcher Rebbes secretary, that this was the time of my appointment, for I was sure I had not heard right.

Tomorrow, at 11 p.m., came the laconic reply over the line connecting me with the Rebbes court in Brooklyn.

And why not in the daytime? When I posed this question to one of the Rebbes followers, he looked at me as ifI had come from the moon.

During the day the Rebbe studies, came the answer, in a tone that left no room for further questions.

And indeed I found myself wondering whether this was not as it should be; whether at night the heavens and the hearts of men might not be more open, more disposed to listen; at night when the barriers are down and man is closer to the truth.

Perhaps the very fact that my thoughts were turning this way was already due to the incipient effect of the secret drug that begins to work on you, whether you want it or not, long before you actually meet the Rebbe; possibly from the moment that you decide you want to see him. However rationalistic you may be, all your skeptical questions begin to blush with shame

The Rebbes Court

I dont remember a single preface in any book I have read that I did not skip. But from the long preliminaries I had to go through until I actually met the Rebbe, I learned that there are some preambles one cannot do without for the simple reason that they already constitute the beginning of the story. What the Rebbe has to say may be important, but still more important, perhaps also for the Rebbe himself and the Chassidic lore of the Chabad school, is to whom, when and where he said what he did. The atmosphere around him is no less relevant than what he actually says. The how may matter no less and perhaps even more than the what. The Rebbe starts off where his court begins. His parlor begins at the porch. His followers are no less part of his personality than, as the Chassidim believe, all human beings form part of Gd. My interview therefore began the moment I entered the Rebbes court and met his disciples.

The young men who crowded the premises, studying theTalmud, can hardly be referred to as students or disciples. Although they were sitting in front of an open book they did not look like people learning something they did not know before. They seemed more like people in a laboratory who are experimenting with the spirit and its manifestations just as others experiment with matter: combining and decomposing, designing and synthesizing. And all this is accompanied by their melodious humming. Much has been written about the Chassidic melodies, and much more will still be written about them. For they are tunes which have no end and no beginning. They seem to perpetuate the song which you sing so that someone else may continue it after you. Hearing that tune, it occurred to me that the Ten Commandments, the foundation of mankind, could never have been written and spoken according to a Chassidic melody. But it also occurred to me that mankind may not have been able to comply with this severe code had it not been for this softening melody.

Those who were not leaning over their books were standing about and talking among themselves. Perhaps they were talking about everyday things, but the expression on their faces was enough to indicate that they were like frontline soldiers exchanging a few whispered words before going into action. The commander might have been invisible, but his presence made itself felt through and through. No orders were being issued, but they might be at any moment; and everybody was ready to listen and obey.

The Rebbes Peace Corps

I, too, was waiting, for my orders to go in to the Rebbe. The time was a quarter past eleven, half past eleven when will it be my turn to be called in? I was just about to ask one of the young men in the court office when a well-dressed young woman came in, with a patter of high heels, her blonde hair streaming out beneath her kerchief. Before I could see her face I could hear her half-choking voice: Have you got an answer yet? Instead of answering her the young man she had addressed went over to a pile of letters, pulled out the one she had written, and told her that the Rebbes answer was right in there. The woman snatched it away, opened it and read it on the spot. For a moment her eyes froze over. There might have been tears as well of joy or of sorrow, who can tell? Leaving without a goodbye, she was back again as soon as she had gone.

I have another question. May I ask the Rebbe another question?

Of course, she is told. At any time and about anything you may wish.

Her face lights up with happiness.

Poor woman, says the man to me after she has left. All her life shes been going to psychiatrists, and they didnt help her at all. How could they help her if all they have is knowledge and no faith? They dont love her; they love only their books. How can one help without love? I became curious about this young man.

He was about twenty-five, and it transpired that he had only recently returned from a trip to Australia undertaken on the Rebbes behalf. What am I doing here? What do you mean? I have a wife and a family but one day the Rebbe told me to go on a trip and I asked no questions about where and why. Nobody questions the Rebbe. His every word is an order. He doesnt say things that might have remained unsaid or could have been said otherwise. So I took my family and went. What did I do in Australia? Whatever I was told. There are people being sent round the world to distribute food and money among the Jews, but what the Jews really need is spiritual food, a bit of love, of Yidishkeit. The Rebbes orders were for me to go and give them love, to encourage them, to bring a little Jewishness into their souls. There is social assistance and there is First Aid for physical ailments, but we are concerned with First Aid for spiritual ills. Of course we are concerned with peoples physical well-being, too. Have you heard about the Maccabees who organized the defense of the Brooklyn Jews during the riots? The man who organized them, Rabbi Shraga, is one of ours. It was a great honor for me to have been sent on a mission by the Rebbe but I am only one of many hundreds and thousands. We have a whole army here, our Peace Corps. This is our headquarters. From here the Rebbe dispatches his soldiers to the various fronts. Wherever there is a single Jew there is a front for us to fight on, with the Holy Scriptures in our hands and the love of Israel in our hearts. These are our weapons. If there is some Jewish corner in the world that is inaccessible by car, we go there on donkeys. There is nothing that can stop us. All we have in mind is that the Rebbes orders should be carried out to the full, that we should be able to come back and report to him: Mission accomplished.'

But the Peace Corps, as I am informed by the office manager, is only one of the many ramifications of the Lubavitcher Court.

The Sun Never Sets Over theLubavitchEmpire

People used to say that the sun never sets over the British Empire, but it is already going down. Not so with the Lubavitch Empire. We are growing stronger from day to day, he said. Have you heard about our publishing house? It is the biggest publisher of Jewish writings in the world, issuing books in over ten languages. We also have hundreds ofyeshivoswith some 30,000 students. Do you know our village in Israel? Therell be many more such communities. Once a week we publish an information bulletin, circulated by the ITA News Agency.

Who are the people who come to see the Rebbe? Well, who doesnt? Chassidim andMisnagdim, men and women, tradesmen and scholars, young and old, Jews and Gentiles, leaders and statesmen; including the present President of Israel did you know he was one of ours? As for his correspondence again, with whom doesnt he correspond? Even withBenGurion. What about? That is the Rebbes own affair. Nobody opens the letters that are addressed to him. He himself opens them all, and answers them, too.

What do Jews ask about as a rule? About matters of religion and how to make a living; about their personal affairs and about politics. In short about everything. There is no question he cannot answer. Where there is faith, one is able to answer every question. For him there are no important and unimportant questions. Every question calls for a true answer. Excuse me a minute.

I hadnt heard the bell ringing, but the secretary jumped over to the phone and immediately left the room. Unwittingly I found myself adjusting the kerchief I had tied over my head in anticipation of my interview with the Rebbe. I was just in time, for the next moment the secretary was back to tell me, with the air of one presenting a most marvelous gift: Thats it now; come along with me.

He may have said some more, but I no longer heard him because I was too busy covering up for my sudden palpitations, telling myself not to be a fool, that there was no need to get excited, that this wasnt my first midnight appointment

Midnight Appointment

When the door closed behind me and I remained alone with the Rebbe the time was twelve midnight, but the Rebbe rose from behind his desk to receive me with a smile that spelled noon rather than midnight.

If that is what you are interested in, you may see a handsome face with a kind and gracious expression, a black hat above and a gray beard below. Alternatively you may see nothing but a pair of eyes fixed upon you not in order to see but in order to discover and reveal. Then it wont be so pleasant for you if you have something to hide, if your intention was to deceive. You try to button yourself up anew, because you feel some of your buttons may have suddenly burst. Is it because the Rebbe really has magic eyes or is it because you have brought the magic along with you as a result of your nighttime experience and the purge administered by the Rebbes disciples? But the question of cause and effect no longer matters. What matters is to try and remember why one has come in the first place. And so I start by introducing myself.

Except that it isnt necessary. He knows more about me than I might be able to tell him. He knows not only what I have done but what I ought to have done, not only what I am doing now but what I am not doing and should do. His disciples had told me that he reads the papers every day and took a lively interest in Israel, but it was a little frightening nevertheless.

I understand that you are writing for the press now. Well, thats all right, but it isnt the main thing. The young generation, that is the main thing. One has to talk to youngsters, not write for them. Why arent you talking to them? Why is nobody talking to them? They are waiting for someone to talk with but nobody does. They are being addressed in lofty speeches, but nobody talks to them, and then people are surprised that they remain indifferent.

The Rebbe does not speak with me inYiddishbut in Hebrew. His accent may not be the purestSephardi, but his language is the language of the Bible. And however exciting his words, his voice remains level and calm.

What the youth is waiting for is an order which must be given in the same voice and tone in which all the great commands were issued to the people of Israel. They may obey or they may not, but that is what they are waiting for. But there is no commander to issue that order. Where are they all? No salvation can come from those who walk in the beaten path, but only from those who break new ground. What has happened to all those who were once burning with the holy fire of a holy war that they are now dealing with such bagatelles as whether people should pay a little more or a little less income tax instead of thinking about the urgent concerns of the Jewish people as a whole? Where are those who at one time knew how to issue commands? I believe physics: that energy can never disappear. Forces that have once existed will exist forever. Therefore I believe in the everlasting force of the Jewish people. Whatever forces there may once have been in its youth still exist and need only be evoked. Once there were those who knew how to evoke them where have they gone?

Everybody is in a rut, following a course of dull mediocrity. And, as you know, there is nothing worse than conformity. To be carried away by the current is very much like dying. Creativity begins by swimming against the current. What is needed is someone to start swimming against the current. I am not preaching, Gd forbid, revolt, only protest against the set pattern of conformity. If the present set-up has turned into a prison, one must find ways to break away from it. That does not mean breaking the law, but fighting against the law. Yet everybody, the entire Jewish nation, is conforming to the set pattern, and there is no one to lead the way out

The Rebbes voice is filled with deep despair, but without pathos. Have you ever calculated how many precious youth-hours are going to waste every day? The use of every such hour could work wonders. Instead of giving orders the leaders make speeches and the young people go to cafsand waste their precious irretrievable time. Do you remember them during the Sinai campaign, how they rose like one man because there was a commander whose orders were such as they had been waiting for, even if they did not know it beforehand? Just give them an order as was done during the Sinai campaign never mind the particulars, all that matters is that it should ignite some spark as it did then and you will see how all the latent forces will rise up again

It would hardly matter if everything were as it should be in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora. But it isnt. All the ideals and all the panaceas have failed and only very, very little has so far been accomplished. Never in the 3,500-year history of the Jewish nation was there a period without any prospects; sometimes the chances were used and at other times they were allowed to escape. But never in the whole history of the Jewish people has there been a period which offered as many opportunities as the present, and never has there been a period when so few were utilized.

TheTorahAlso Needs a Commander

Until I suddenly heard the sharp ringing of a bell I had not realized the vast silence that dwelt in this room. The ringing came from outside; from the office, presumably. I gathered that my time had run out. But it did not occur to me to get up, and I went on sitting there as if there had been no ringing. Despite the repeated exhortation of the bell, the sound of the Rebbes voice assured me that this was not yet the end.

Every day that goes by is a tremendous loss. What it takes ten years to do in the Diaspora can be done in ten days in the Land of Israel, provided one gets down to the latent spark. A fire can go out, but a spark never. Our youth are asleep without knowing it, and those who address it with speeches are surprised at their not hearing. Unless they hear their own words, they are not aroused.

What exactly are the words of our youth? I cannot tell. The words will follow with the inner force of the imperative. They must come from deep inside. The main thing is the awakening, the pioneering spirit. Once the vanguard is there, the banner may follow. Now there are many banners, but what are they all worth without anybody to walk ahead of them and carry them? Take those boys in Israel who throw stones on people who desecrate theSabbath I believe they have the spirit, there is something they really care about. I am not suggesting that they should throw stones, Gd forbid, but I feel that they care, that there is something burning inside them, and that is the main thing. Then I can try to convince them that they are using the wrong means, to divert their fire into the right channels

On the other hand the young people who are coming from the Land of Israel to study at foreign universities they are not pioneers. What can they learn abroad that they cannot learn in the Holy Land? If a man leaves his home to go to the North Pole or climb a mountain at the risk of his life to satisfy his thirst for knowledge one may call him a pioneer. A young man who goes from Brooklyn to theNegevand risks his life on the border may be called a pioneer. But leaving Israel to study at a university in Brooklyn that is mere hankering after comfort, not pioneering.

Take ouryeshivahstudents they study, too. But in order to teach they go everywhere in the world where there are Jews, not to sit there in a yeshivah but to open new academies. They knock on every door. They find their way to non-religious kibbutzim in Israel and to assimilated homes in the Diaspora. The spirit of Judaism is the one ideal that has not failed like all the rest. Only the values of religion persist unscathed and unaltered. So far nothing has been found to replace them. And that is precisely why no compromise is possible in this respect. Everything may be done to facilitate its teaching, but nothing to facilitate its observance. Attempts to compromise will only alienate our youth rather than bring them closer to our religion. Israels youth want no compromises. But here, too, no leader has been found, no commander who will issue the order, as in the Sinai campaign.

I Shall Come when theMessiahArrives

It is getting close to two oclock. The bell has stopped ringing. It has probably given up. But ringing in my own ears was the redoubled sound of my question:

Why wont you come and give the order?

My place is where my words are likely to be obeyed. Here I am being listened to, but in the Land of Israel I wont be heard. There, our youth will follow only somebody who has sprung up from its own ranks and speaks its own language. The Messiah will be a man of flesh and blood, visible and tangible, a man whom others may follow. And he will come.

He has been on his way for quite a while, I found myself saying.

But he is very near and we must be prepared for him at any moment, because he may have come just one moment before.

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Israeli Journalist who Interviewed the Rebbe Passed Away - - Good News

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EU Policies Dont Tackle Root Causes of Migration They Risk Aggravating Them – Inter Press Service

Posted: at 9:27 pm

Civil Society, Development & Aid, Environment, Global, Headlines, Human Rights, Migration & Refugees, TerraViva United Nations


Lasse Juhl Morthorst* is a freelance writer and researcher. He mainly works on international politics, development, refugee- and human rights issues.

Credit: United Nations

COPENHAGEN, Dec 17 2019 (IPS) - According to political scientist Zaki Ladis La tyrannie de lurgence (The tyranny of emergency) from 1999, crisis and emergency situations leave no time for analysis, prevention or forecasting. As an immediate protective reflex, they prevent long-term solutions and pose a serious risk of jeopardising the future.

In emergency situations, participants lack perspective, and durable solutions to human problems are treated according to the logic of immediate results and expectations of direct outcomes.

The effects of globalisations deepening and fragmenting landscape highlights how governance with short-term efficiency has become normative when dealing with contemporary challenges.

The so-called European refugee crisis from late 2014 and, if we buy its premise, its aftermath have come to symbolise such an emergency situation.

Contemporary political responses expose the electorate and the parties, who respectively gain and lose in the processes of globalisation.

This socio-political cleavage has allowed centre-right parties to take advantage of nationalistic values, with migration viewed through the lens of security limitation of migration flows and the fight against terrorist groups law and order, while the centre-left have had to bridge the working classs fear of cheap labour and economic competition with the middle-classs liberal socio-cultural preferences.

The European Unions reaction towards the crisis and its aftermath cannot be seen as a political crisis reaction per se, since the solutions it initiated to manage migration built on existing legislation and practices, helping to consolidate these as routinising emergency in order to naturalise migration politics.

There is a clear political red line between addressing so-called root causes and managing migration by securing external borders and preventing movement of third-country nationals.

This is anchored in the European Commissions comprehensive approach in the 1994 Communication to the Council, reconfirmed through the integrated approach at the 1999 European Council meeting in Tampere, and developed at the 2002 Seville meeting, where combating illegal migration and addressing root causes were top of the agenda.

What we are witnessing is rather a political crisis, which has lasted for more than a quarter of a century.

Lasse Juhl Morthorst

As a result of a sceptical post-1973 oil crisis scenario, addressing root causes of migration emerged in the 1980s, with the aim of improving socio-economic conditions in the countries of migrants origin, to prevent unwanted migration towards Europe.

When the European Community was developing the single market, with the fluidity of the EUs internal national borders to facilitate free internal mobility as an outcome, the fear of losing control of external migration became an increasing concern for member states.

The EUs migration policies have, with their primary focus on securitisation, come to symbolise a harmful politicisation of humanitarianism, which seems to persist into the new Commissions 2019-2024 period and very like beyond.

In the following years, little progress was made towards a unified European migration policy. As a result, the Commission proposed the idea of a comprehensive approach to migration in 1994.

This consisted of a threefold focus: action on migration pressure through third-country cooperation, controlling immigration to make it manageable and optimisation of integration policies for legal migrants.

The root cause approach was to be seen as a long-term humanitarian development solution to the migration problem. The ideas of cooperation and addressing root causes have become the popular political take on the EUs migration challenges, which rhetorically attempt to circumvent the negative connotations of strict migration control and hostility.

Credit: United Nations

During the last decades, the EU has been searching for a new strategic rationalist raison dtre for its common asylum policy, through harmonisation of the EU asylum legal acts, the Common European Asylum System and attempting to solve the stalemate between member states and intra-institutionally, regarding the Dublin systems tightening Gordian knot.

The EU has failed to solve the structural and systemic impasse in approaching migration flows, which will not end by continuing harshened border controls and security measures, earmarked development aid, externalisation processes or dubious bilateral agreements.

The EUs migration policies have, with their primary focus on securitisation, come to symbolise a harmful politicisation of humanitarianism, which seems to persist into the new Commissions 2019-2024 period and very like beyond.

Nothing new from Brussels?

Ursula von der Leyens new Commission is taking office in a situation shaped by vast global challenges of geopolitical turbulence and internal fragmentation, towards which she has proposed a rather pragmatic and strategic approach.

Through her manifesto and mission letters to the designated Commissioners, von der Leyens new geopolitical Commission will focus on making the EU an outward-looking politically influential global powerhouse, which must protect the Union from omnipresent geopolitical and external value-based challenges.

She has proposed a fresh start on European migration policy, via a new pact on migration and asylum, a relaunch of the Dublin reform and a new way of burden sharing (the Achilles heel of the Dublin reform).

In charge of this agenda will be Commission Vice-President for Promoting the European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas (Greece), who will work closely with Ylva Johansson (Sweden), the Commissioner for Home Affairs, and Development Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen (Finland).

There are clear tensions and ambiguity in von der Leyens agenda towards migration and development, which has toxically been coined with security politics, as it has to find a common ground on migration by working towards a genuine European security union.

The external dimensions of migration management are explicitly present in the mission letters to both Schinas and Johansson. In these letters, they are instructed to cooperate with the new High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (Josep Borrell, Spain), to develop a stronger cooperation with countries of origin and transit in the case of Johansson and ensure the coherence of the external and internal dimensions of migration for Schinas.

The EUs interaction with third countries and partnerships of border control are narrow and ultimately self-eroding.

Beyond the initial internal focus against the backdrop of the eurozone and financial crises, this aligns closely with the Juncker Commissions focus on the external dimensions of migration.

In 2015, the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa was founded to intensify cooperation with third countries. Migration is also, beyond the Trust Fund, a central element in EU foreign policy and it has further come to divide views in the debate regarding development policy.

It appears that the Union is proposing to work even more closely with partner countries to tackle human trafficking, secure borders, optimise effective returns and tackle root causes of migration through development initiatives. Schinas confirmed this at his hearing on 3 October 2019.

A reminder from the field

The collaboration with third countries regarding externalisation of borders is vastly problematic, since in some cases, as a trade-off through the funding of development aid earmarked for increased border control, it comes to support militias and authoritarian and hybrid governments.

A large amount of the support often ends up in quasi security organs of rebel groups, which have been seen continuously abusing human rights.

This can presently be witnessed in nations in the Sahel, Maghreb and MENA regions where tight border control has led to the diversification of pre-colonial circular and reciprocal migrant routes into increasingly perilous areas and methods, along with the risk of promoting economic stagnation, recession and militia isolation.

The diversification of migration routes ultimately creates a favourable environment for the human smugglers that the Union is trying to eliminate.

The EUs interaction with third countries and partnerships of border control are narrow and ultimately self-eroding. These policies do not tackle any root causes of migration; by aiding regional security units and military forces, they risk limiting democratic accountability and aggravating repression some of the actual root causes of migration.

Agreements of principles and statements of intention do not compensate for the deflection of focus of an international communitys failure to get to grips with the need of todays migrants for protection and recognition.

Von der Leyens agenda seems like an anachronistic reverberation of the unsuccessful policies introduced more than three decades ago, despite the opportunity to begin abolishing the tyranny of emergency.

*This article first appeared in International Politics and Society (IPS) published by the International Political Analysis Unit of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Hiroshimastrasse 28, D-10785 Berlin.

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EU Policies Dont Tackle Root Causes of Migration They Risk Aggravating Them - Inter Press Service

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