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Level Playing Field

From the pyramids to Tahrir Square

The Hindu 6 April, 2013 Like travellers since Alexander, we started at the pyramids. After a spell in Cairo’s medieval quarter, followed by a visit to the New Kingdom tombs and temples in Luxor, we ended in Tahrir Square, where we joined thousands in a demonstration against President Morsi and his government. On the eve… Read more

“The greatest nation on earth”? Obama’s victory speech viewed from overseas

Level Playing Field, The Hindu, 17 November I woke early on Wednesday morning to check the results. First, I was relieved. Romney had failed, and more importantly the bigots and obscurantists who backed him had failed. Then I watched Obama’s victory speech, and what I felt was something other than relief. The speech was dubbed… Read more

At the Olympics: Hype vs Reality

The Hindu, August 4 2012 I enjoyed my afternoon at the Olympics, sitting in my public lottery assigned £50 seat at the ExCel, with a fine view of the men’s boxing. And I enjoyed it not least because I was finally able to watch the sport itself without the surrounding hype, the layers of commentary…. Read more

Riots, reason and resistance

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu “Criminality pure and simple” was Prime Minister David Cameron’s initial verdict on the rioting. From the right came the mantra, “Down with sociology! Up with water cannon!” Don’t think but do act – harshly, punitively, peremptorily. In the wake of the riots, a powerful vested interest has been at work… Read more

A summer of cricket and a saga of mounting debt

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 26 June 2011 In a few weeks the India squad will arrive on these shores to commence a demanding two-month tour, playing four Tests, five ODIs and one Twenty20. The Test series, in particular, looks set to be a stiff challenge for both sides and the result may well seal… Read more

Obama abroad

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 29 May When it came to foreign affairs, Barack Obama’s first presidential task was a simple one. He had to be better than his predecessor. For this alone, it seems, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. But those who hoped Obama’s promise of “change” would apply to the US’s… Read more

Empires past and present

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 23 April A high court in London is hearing a suit brought against the British government by four elderly Kenyans who were tortured, sexually abused and in one case castrated while held in detention during the British repression of the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s. As a result of… Read more

World Cup: affirmative answers

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 20 March At the outset of this World Cup, both the format and the event were on trial. Questions about its pre-eminence in the global game had been raised not only by the best forgotten 2007 instalment but even more by the rise of T20 and the IPL. While it’s… Read more

Sheikh Jarrah and the “masterplan” for Jerusalem

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 20 February On a visit to Jerusalem in December, we met with residents of Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood north of the Old City, where 28 extended Palestinian families are waging a struggle against eviction and displacement by Jewish settlers. The families came here in 1948 as refugees from Israel. With… Read more

My fantasy career (or why there is no such thing as world music)

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 23 January In another life, I’d like to have been an ethnomusicologist. It would have been a wonderfully open-ended excuse to discover new music, to travel and imbibe foreign cultures at close range. As an academic discipline ethnomusicology began as a western study of non-western music, but in recent decades… Read more