Book reviews: Boo, Inskeep and Berenschot on South Asian Cities

Mumbai, from Flickr,

Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers is an unforgettable walk through the Annawadi neighborhood, next to Mumbai’s airport. Ward Berenschot’s Riot Politics links the ever-present search for patronage in India’s cities to the grisly communal violence that breaks out there from time to time . Steve Inskeep’s Instant City weaves together the ethnic stew, political infighting and scarcity that make up Karachi.

To whet your appetite for all three, see Teresita Schaffer’s review. This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©. The International Institute for Strategic Studies; Survival: Global Politics and Strategy is available online at: .


The Kashmir Interlocutors Report – But Who Will Listen?

By Jenny Mackness,

June 1, 2012: In the summer of 2010, riots of youth throwing stones and calling for “azadi” – freedom from Indian rule – convulsed the Valley of Kashmir. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pleaded eloquently to “give peace a chance,” and appointed a panel of three “Interlocutors” to assess public opinion in the state and make recommendations to resolve its seemingly intractable problems. On May 24, the Indian government finally released the report the panel had submitted to it seven months earlier. The long delay suggests that the report, despite the good sense in many of its recommendations, will join a long list of missed opportunities to transform political relations between New Delhi and Srinagar.

Continue reading “The Kashmir Interlocutors Report – But Who Will Listen?”

Polio Eradication in India: To the Verge of Victory – and Beyond

CSIS Schaffer_PolioIndia_110

India’s struggle against major health challenges in the past few decades has been a white-knuckle ride, with India illustrating some of the best as well as the worst of the health problems of the developing world.

But now – even though those closest to the effort are unwilling to declare victory prematurely – there is a good chance that India’s polio eradication campaign will tell a more inspiring story. In 1988, when the World Health Assembly formally adopted polio eradication as a global goal, WHO data recorded 23,800 cases of polio in India. At this writing, it has been a year since the last case was identified, in West Bengal on January 13, 2011.

Read full report, published by CSIS January 24, 2012.

India as a Rising Power

Gurgaon. Photo by seaview 99,

With more than a billion citizens, a thriving economy and a rapidly modernizing military, India is swiftly becoming a growing force in geopolitics. Teresita Schaffer explores the country’s complex relationships with its neighbors in Asia and the Persian Gulf and describes how the increased competitive pressures of its economy will force the United States to adapt.

Watch video on the Brookings Institution web site, August 5, 2011.

Cleaning Up India’s Culture of Sleaze

Scam-o-ramas erupting across India have transfixed public debate in India, leading to a popular social movement, in the Gandhian tradition, aimed at ending corruption. It has been a heady and exciting moment, powered by Facebook and the Internet. But whether this is a transformative movement in Indian life largely depends on the middle class’s continued engagement in the issue.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s analysis, published on May 3, 2011.