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Level Playing Field

UK deficit a pretext for social engineering

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu Britain’s coalition government has embarked on an ambitious programme of social engineering. The purpose of its historic package of public spending cuts and “reforms” is said to be the reduction of the fiscal deficit, which rose sharply in 2008 and 2009 as a result of the recession. But, as we… Read more

Bankers, bonuses and “brains”

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 24 October At a fringe meeting at last month’s Conservative party conference, one of the speakers began a defence of British bankers’ bonuses (£7 billion this year) by observing that “When God gave out brains, he didn’t give them all out equally, and so we have to live in an… Read more

Palestinians face existential threat

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 18 July In an effort to mitigate the global outrage that followed its attack on the Gaza aid flotilla, Israel has (ever so slightly) eased its blockade on Gaza. However minimal, this step has only been taken because of the pressure applied to Israel by the international grass-roots protest movement…. Read more

The idolatry of “the markets”

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 19 May In the wake of Britain’s inconclusive general election, there is much talk of the “national interest”. It’s said that politicians of all parties have to pull together to address the crisis caused by the country’s enlarged fiscal deficit. Specifically, they must agree to a package of deep cuts… Read more

UK election: democracy and inequality

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 11 April Like this year’s English Premier League, the coming British general election at least offers the excitement of an uncertain finish. But where the three top football clubs offer intriguing contrasts in tactics and styles, the three mainstream political parties are competing stolidly for the middle ground, with the… Read more

Cricket, commerce and the future

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 14 March Also published in the Guardian’s Comment is free website, with readers’ responses. The third annual instalment of the Indian Premier League is being launched with even greater triumphalist trumpeting than the first two. The show is reeling in big sums and attracting worldwide attention. Lalit Modi is easily… Read more

Politics and “the art of the possible”

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 7 February 2010 Another version of this article, with comment from readers, is published on The Guardian’s Comment is free website. Whenever a commentator declares that “politics is the art of the possible”, I’m on my guard. What I’m being told, I suspect, is to accept apparent present conditions as… Read more

A light from Durban

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 8 March Something special took place in Durban last month when dockworkers, members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), refused to unload a ship carrying Israeli cargo. It was an intervention from below in global politics, driven not by national, ethnic or religious affinity but by… Read more

A lovely, worldly quirk

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 9 February In 1420, a genuinely epochal event took place on a small, isolated, previously uninhabited island in the Atlantic, some 360 miles west of Morocco. That year, the Portuguese fleet – the most advanced in the world at the time, thanks to Prince Henry the Navigator – located Madeira…. Read more

Life-changing happenstance: discovering India

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 25 January 2009 will be marked by the usual crop of anniversaries. Twenty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, 200 hundred years since the death of Tom Paine, forty years since Woodstock, and on a micro-scale, thirty years since my first visit to India. A life-changing event for… Read more