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Monday, October 19, 2009

Brave Thinkers, Arundati Roy, Veil, Michael Ignatieff,

Brave Thinkers

The sun revolves around the earth.
Animal species never change.
Black people are inferior to white people.
The government can’t provide health insurance to old folks.
Humans can’t fly to the moon.
Telephones are only for talking and listening.

Some of these assumptions had the force of science behind them, others just the force of habit, but all of them seem ridiculous in retrospect. All of them collapsed only because someone had the courage to step outside the consoling, persuading flow of tradition and ask fundamental questions about why things are the way they are, and how they might be instead. The Atlantic has always aspired to challenge its readers, and its times, by giving voice to some of the most provocative thinkers of their eras. Brave Thinking, from Henry David Thoreau’s blunt naturalism to Martin Luther King’s calls for justice, can be unsettling. But it drives society forward. Now, in our first annual Brave Thinkers issue, we have identified a small group of men and women who have risked their careers, reputations, fortunes, and, in some cases, even lives to advance ideas that upend an established order. Why 27? Because after months of research, tabulation, and debate about hundreds of candidates, that’s how many we could agree on. Some of them may prove to be wrong, and others wrong-headed. But all of them embody the kind of courage that stirs the spirit and inspires us to think for ourselves.
Click here to view all of The Atlantic’s Brave Thinkers, or browse the list below.

[#9 on the list: Iftikhar ChaudhryChief Justice of Pakistan]

Author Arundhati Roy on the Human Costs of India’s Economic Growth, the View of Obama from New Delhi, and Escalating US Attacks in Af-Pak - We’re joined from the Indian capital of New Delhi by the Booker Prize-winning novelist, political essayist and global justice activist Arundhati Roy. Her books include the Booker Prize-winning novel The God of Small Things and her latest essay collection, Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers. We speak to Roy about India’s conflict with Maoist rebels, the occupation of Kashmir, ongoing Indian-Pakistani tensions, Obama’s war in “Af-Pak,” and more. [includes rush transcript]

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Veiled reasons - In Egypt - The grand sheikh of Al-Azhar stirred troubled waters when he told an 11-year-old pupil at a girls-only school that there was no need for her to cover her face, reports Reem Leila

CodePink Founder Jodie Evans Challenges Obama Up Close and Personal on His Afghanistan Policy By Don Hazen - Armed with the signatures of thousands of Afghan women demanding an end to the occupation, Evans told Obama that women must have a seat at the negotiating table.

Michael Ignatieff: from The Late Show to Prime Minister in waiting? - Michael Ignatieff – writer, thinker and star presenter of BBC2's The Late Show in the 90s – is back in Canada after nearly three decades, and is the man most likely to become the country's next prime minister. But is his national pride the real thing or is he, as his critics sneer, 'just visiting'? Rachel Cooke finds out

The Expat’s New Clothes - Few men, except for the elderly and the over-educated activist type, wear traditional Indian clothes. Women, on the other hand, tend to split their wardrobe between Western and Indian wear. In my office with maybe 50 young working Indian women, only one wears a sari to the office. There’s a subtle code (one easily cracked through the internet) about how saris are worn: Gujuratis wear the loose end coming forward over their shoulder; Bengalis drape it over twice; Konkan women make a little hood. My favorite, though, are the Marathi laborers. With one or two twists of fabric, they bring the end through their legs, resulting in something resembling pants, the best of both worlds.

The Best World Class Open-Air Male Public Urinal in the World - No dog litter allowed inside the apartment complex, so you can happily take the dogs on the pavement outside and he can shit all over. Who cares if people are walking on the same pavement, or a little tea shop has Metro-workers taking a break, or women are haggling with a veggie vendor. Dog shit in India, like all shit, is holy shit because anyway millions have no place to shit. Take an early morning touristy Shatabdi train to any destination, and there are rows of 'Indian People's Backsides' across the railway tracks, as the first sign of Great National Progress. You can shut your eyes but then you will have rows of filthy, rotting, fungus-ridden quagmires with dingy tenements where Indian citizens live next to the tracks, with women performing the first puja ritual of the day to the gods. Cleanliness is Godliness, is the writing on the wall; but for millions of women and toilet-less, homeless people of India, there is just no option, and none of them really cares two hoots for Slumdog Millionaire.

Essay - A critical failure - ADITYA SUDARSHAN - Winning literary prizes abroad is a habit with Indian writers; one we need to view with scepticism rather than naively accept as a sign of superior standards.


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