Notes from Skopje, Europe’s ‘Capital of Kitsch’

This piece was originally published in The Hindu Sunday Magazine.

The cobblestoned streets of Skopje’s Old Bazaar are lined by barbershops, grocers’ and Ottoman-era inns, offering a portal to another time. Nearby, the 6th century Kale Fortress overlooks the city, and the historical Stone Bridge connects the Old Bazaar to the main square. As you make your way across the bridge, however, authenticity becomes increasingly harder to spot, obscured by newly erected buildings with classical facades, shiny bronze statues and marble fountains. Continue reading “Notes from Skopje, Europe’s ‘Capital of Kitsch’”

Preserving Indian Democracy in the Face of Rising Hindu Nationalism

This article was originally published on Waging Nonviolence.

After the Indian government’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, people across India answered a nationwide call for protests issued by left-wing parties on Aug. 7. Article 370 had provided the state with considerable autonomy and was one of the conditions for its accession to the Indian union in 1947.

Shabnam Hashmi, social activist and co-founder of the non-governmental organization Act Now for Harmony and Democracy, or ANHAD, livestreamed the protests from New Delhi.

She panned her camera to show protesters restricted by barricades at Jantar Mantar, a site where regular protests occur in the capital. “As you can see, the space — which has already been confined so much for protests — even in that area we are not being allowed to enter,” she commented. “This is the state of Indian democracy now.” Continue reading “Preserving Indian Democracy in the Face of Rising Hindu Nationalism”

Visual Diary: Visiting the Markets in Split, Croatia

Every morning, from 6.30 am, the old quarter in the Croatian city of Split is abuzz with activity. In an age where supermarkets dot nearly every street corner and stock everything from food to toiletries and cleaning supplies, it’s refreshing to see that Split’s morning markets offering fresh produce and fish remain popular among locals. The markets are located in the heart of the city, round the corner from Diocletian’s Palace.

I spent some time in Split during my travels across the Balkans last summer. At the vibrant Green Market (Pazar), vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as an assortment of other products–nuts, cheeses and eggs, flowers, clothes, inexpensive souvenirs–and call out to passersby to slow down and take a look. Continue reading “Visual Diary: Visiting the Markets in Split, Croatia”

Dispatches: Who Makes the Clothes on Our Backs?

In 2010, I travelled to Bangladesh with the rest of my graduate school cohort to study various developmental approaches implemented in the country. Bangladesh, in many ways, is a prime example of the success that locally pioneered methods of just and sustainable development can achieve. And yet, this development is accompanied by its own set of problems, particularly with regard to the country’s massive garment industry.

Bangladesh is the world’s second largest exporter of readymade apparel, second only to China. Garments constitute 80% of the nation’s earnings from exports, and in 2018, Bangladesh exported clothing worth over $32 billion, mainly to Europe and the United States. Continue reading “Dispatches: Who Makes the Clothes on Our Backs?”