Fact and Fiction
The last issue of Himal Southasian looks at the attacks on freedom of expression in the region by governments, political leaders, intolerant populist opinion and the corporatisation of media. While Himal faces closure due to misuse of state machinery, independent media and civil-society activists elsewhere in the region face challenges that jeopardise the lives and safety of many of them.
In a world where reality begins to resemble a Manto-esque depiction, fiction illuminates how individuals experience stark realities – sexual violence, livelihood struggles, incarceration, gender discrimination and the fragile territory of relationships. Other stories are autobiographical in nature, chronicling reminiscences, histories and memories. We also have travel accounts, stories that deal with the surreal and with the experimental oeuvre. The fiction in this issue also underlines the commonalities of our experiences in Southasia in the writings from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Tibet and Maldives.
Articles in this issue on the freedom of expression include (Full articles available online):
Salil Tripathi’s essay examining the characteristics of fascism, as elaborated by Umberto Eco, holds up a stunning mirror to intolerance in India.
Neha Dixit’s personal account about the attacks on her lays bare the cost of independent reporting in India when it challenges populist rhetoric through investigative journalism.
Sarah Eleazar explores the increasing controls on democratic space in Pakistan, where nationalist rhetoric makes it impossible to campaign for freedom of expression, and cyber laws are used to curb anti-government criticism.
Sukumar Muralidharan explores how independent journalism is also restricted when the profit motive of corporate media not only leads to the erosion of principles of journalism but also uses the argument of freedom of expression to protect owners and their predatory pricing techniques.
Sana Saleem writes on surveillance and control in Pakistan.
In Nepal, as Editor Aunohita Mojumdar writes, Himal is the victim of the noticeable trend across Southasia, of misuse of regulatory mechanisms to curb freedom of expression. It is a sophisticated way of suppressing dissent.
The Fiction Section includes the following stories:
Goldfish | Pranaya SJB Rana
My mother’s head (full story available online) | Sumana Roy
Sunday-key-Monday | Farrukh Dhondy
Gul Naar | Abu Taha
Winter in Patlikuhl | Tenzin Dickie
The red scarf | Manjula Padmanabhan
All she had to say | Gopilal Acharya
A trip to Bodh Gaya | Lingchen
To be whipped till… | Farzana Ali
End overend | Daniel Bosley
Translated Short Stories:
Shahnaz, the NCL | Minakshi Sen
Landslide | Udai Thulung
Maaji | Qudratullah Shahab
Pl. do the needful… | Bharath Murthy
Selected short stories from our Call for Fiction include:
Monument | Mustafa Khanbhai
The silver box | Bharati Motwani
Green card | Kunsang Palmo
Fifteen minutes of fame | Vrinda Baliga
The lift | Amrita Mahale
Mourning for my women | Meem Arafat Manab
Also, we have reviews by:
Words and warriors (full article available online)| Puja Sen
Literary sandbox (full article available online) | Bhuchung D Sonam
Looking for voices (full article available online) | Venkatesh M Swamy