Hungarian author awarded Man Booker International
- Hungarian writer Laszlo Krasznahorkai was presented the Man Booker International Prize for 2015 at a ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on May 20.
- The 61-year-old writer was on the shortlist of 10 names, which included Amitav Ghosh. The literary prize, worth £60,000 (around Rs. 60 lakh), is given to a living author of any nationality who has published fiction either in English or in English translation.
- Unlike the annual Man Booker Prize for fiction, the international prize, given once in two years, is in recognition of a writer’s body of work and overall contribution to fiction rather than of a single novel.
- Mr. Krasznahorkai’s novels are known to be complex and demanding — a single sentence can run to a page — and deal with dystopian and apocalyptic themes in which an impending civilisational crisis threatens the world. His novels include Satantango (1985, English translation 2012), The Melancholy of Resistance (1989, English translation 1998), and Seiobo Down Below (2008, English translation 2013).
- Satantango was later adapted for a film, in collaboration with the Hungarian film-maker Bela Tarr.
- In the 1990s, Mr. Krasznahorkai began spending more time in East Asia, notably in Mongolia, China and Japan, and his writing began to feature themes from the aesthetics and literature of these countries. The Prisoner of Urga and Destruction and Sorrow Beneath the Heavens are books on his experiences in China and Mongolia.
- In her speech at the award ceremony, Marina Warner, writer and academic, who chaired the judging panel, described Mr. Krasznahorkai as a “visionary writer of extraordinary intensity and vocal range”, and his work as “fiction as epiphany.”
- “Laszlo acknowledges Kafka as a precursor, and his own ironies are clear-eyed, with a gift of re-churning reality so that what seems a far-fetched nightmare re-assembles into the all-too recognisable landscape. He can be lethal in his portraits of us human beings, yet also funny — gallows humour, surprisingly light-footed.”
LAC, PoK issues block full blooming of India-China ties
- India and China have established a detailed framework of partnership during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, but the delay in clarification of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Beijing’s proposed forays into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) are hampering the full development of ties.
- Diplomatic sources said the Prime Minister had been forthright in conveying to his hosts that the process to clarify the LAC, stalled since 2005, should be resumed.
- The sources pointed out that the LAC clarification should be seen as part of an evolving architecture of confidence-building measures, which have been put in place to ensure peace along the border.
- “We need to have the clarification of the LAC as the basis of the management of the border,” the sources said.
- During his address at Tsinghua University, arguably his most important speech during his China visit, Mr. Modi stressed that LAC clarification could be done “without prejudice to our position on the boundary question”.
- That allays apprehensions among a section of the Chinese establishment that India would insist on turning the LAC into a permanent border once it was clarified.
- The sources pointed out that in the context of the LAC clarification, the minimalist approach would be to have a shared perception of each other’s positions, which alone would contribute immensely in easing tensions.
- During talks, India has stated with clarity its objections to the making part of the proposed Pakistan-China economic corridor pass through the PoK.
- Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurated the Gwadar-Kashgar economic corridor as part of China’s “belt and road” connectivity initiative for integrating the economies of Eurasia.
- India’s core concerns that are restraining ties, which include LAC clarification and the use of PoK territory in defining the Pakistan-China economic corridor, were covered in remarks by the Prime Minster at the Great Hall of the People.
Astra missiles test-fired successfully
The supersonic missile was launched from Su-30 MKI
- After being postponed twice, two indigenously developed beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, Astra, were successfully launched from Su-30 MKI fighter jet in two developmental trials conducted at the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, Odisha on May 20.
- In the first trial, the supersonic missile was released when the fighter jet was performing a “very high-g manoeuvre.” In the second trial, the g manoeuvre was higher than in the first exercise.
- A Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) missile technologist said that extreme conditions were simulated for the missile’s launch in both trials when it was released at very low and very high altitudes. DRDO scientists plan to conduct another trial on May 21 to prove the long range capability of the missile.
- With Ma 20’s tests, seven developmental trials were conducted and the missile is expected to be inducted by 2016 after a few more tests. The 3.8-metre tall Astra is a radar homing missile and one of the smallest weapon systems developed by the DRDO.
Astra MissileAstra (Sanskrit: अस्त्र, Astra: Throwing Weapon) is an active radar homing beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), India. Astra is designed to be capable of engaging targets at varying range and altitudes allowing for engagement of both short-range targets (up to 20 km) and long-range targets (up to 80 km) using alternative propulsion modes.Except for a failure in one test, the missile has successfully completed all its tests. The missile was last tested on 18 March 2015 from a Su-30MKI fighter against a simulated live target.Astra uses a smokeless propulsion system.
As per a defence scientist, the missile is technologically more sophisticated than the nuclear capable Agni missile series of strategic ballistic missiles.
India wants China’s backing for Security Council, NSG entry
- During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit here, India made it transparent that China’s explicit support for New Delhi as a full member of the United Nations Security Council and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a grouping that promotes nuclear commerce while ensuring non-proliferation, will raise ties to “a new level”.
- Analysts say that any accommodative shift in China’s position on the NSG is likely to recalibrate Beijing’s ties with Pakistan. Pakistan has been vocal in opposing India’s entry, after U.S. President Barack Obama backed New Delhi’s membership in January. The New York Times had earlier reported that Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s National Security Adviser, had issued a statement following Mr. Obama’s India visit that “Pakistan is opposed to yet another country-specific exemption from NSG rules to grant membership to India, as this would further compound the already fragile strategic stability environment in South Asia”.
- Yet, nuclear commerce is slowly entering the China-India equation. Ahead of Mr. Modi’s visit, Liu Jinsong, Deputy Director-General in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, had listed nuclear power stations as one of China’s strengths which India could leverage.
- The “harmonisation” of India’s “Mausam” and “Spice Route” connectivity projects with China’s “belt and road” initiative was not discussed in the talks, the sources said.
- Contrary to assumptions in a section of the Chinese media that India wanted to monopolise the Indian Ocean, Mr. Modi said during his Tsinghua speech that “cooperation is essential” as “India and China conduct their international commerce on the same sea lanes.”
State of the economy
State of flux in Delhi
- Partial statehood, Delhi’s peculiar constitutional situation, has posed challenges before every government that has ruled the national capital since 1993, the year an elected Vidhan Sabha was reinstated in Delhi. Central to this is the prickly issue of an elected government being forced to share powers with a non-elected Lieutenant Governor. So it is that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), armed with a sweeping mandate to govern Delhi and with a newfound sense of assertiveness, now finds itself in an almighty tussle with the LG over the appointment of an Acting Chief Secretary. This may appear to be a relatively minor issue, but at its heart is an attempt to make sense of the laws that define the issue of who runs Delhi. Article 239 (AA and AB) of the Constitution appears to grant the LG more discretionary powers than Governors in other States. Clause 4 of this Article says that there shall be a Council of Ministers in Delhi to aid and advise the LG “except in so far as he is, by or under any law, required to act in his discretion”. There is no specific provision, however, for the appointment of a Chief Secretary. Under the clause, should the LG have a difference of opinion with his Ministers the matter should be referred to the President. Pending a decision by the President, the LG can take immediate action if, in his opinion, the matter is urgent. But according to the Transaction of Business Rules for the Delhi government, the process of initiating the appointment of a Chief Secretary has to be done by the Council of Ministers. No such move was initiated in this particular instance, and so there should have been no difference of opinion to begin with.
- This is a significant grey area, and the real surprise is that it has taken this long for a proper debate on it to happen. Partial statehood, by its very premise, involves some compromises in governance. The big political parties are able to deal with this by going through the ‘right channels’ to prevent a given situation from escalating. It helped that for several years Delhi was ruled by the same party that was in power at the Centre. Such a situation would never work for the AAP, which simply does not do political diplomacy. Delhi is also the only State the party governs, and it is understandably keen to push for more control for itself. Inevitably, things have taken an ugly turn with various civil servants caught in the crossfire, a sense of fear gripping the administration and many officers wondering who to listen to. It is imperative that the rules and laws governing Delhi are reviewed and areas of potential overreach by the Central government are eliminated quickly enough. Failure to do so could lead to a situation where government in the national capital is thrown into a state of flux again.