Bobby Ghosh (for Info only, not official)

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Bobby Ghosh

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    ...As an American living and travelling abroad, I have grown used to being at the pointy end of this question ever since we elected Donald Trump President, 10 months—even if it seems like a lifetime—ago. It springs instantly to the lips of everyone who learns of my nationality for the first time. Friends who look more obviously American (that is, if they’re white, African-American or happen to be wearing a Stars-n-Stripes bandana), get asked that question from complete strangers in the street. Variations include: What were you thinking? What’s wrong with you people? And… Are you Americans all out of your freakin’ minds? However framed, the question is perfectly legitimate. For most people who have never lived in the US—and indeed, for many who have—it is mystifying how Americans elected as their leader a man so palpably unsuitable for the job, and the mystification has only deepened with each passing week as Trump has demonstrated his inadequacies over and over again. ...

    Live Mint on Aug. 29, 2017, 11:47 p.m.

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    ...It has been variously described as ‘Davos for dissidents,’ and ‘Aspen for activists,’ because it brings together people from all over the world who are fighting the good fight for democracy and human rights— invariably at great personal risk. These amazing people gather in the Norwegian capital to tell stories about their struggle, which are always inspiring, and which sometimes reduces the audience to tears. The official high point of the OFF is the annual awarding of the Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent, but for me the real satisfaction comes from being part of private conversations, in which the activists share advice and best practices with each other. ...

    Live Mint on June 15, 2017, 1:04 a.m.

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    ...In Srinagar last week, I struggled to find my old bearings: Many of the buildings are new, most of them hotels and home-stays. Some iconic old structures have been repurposed in more unexpected ways. I was astonished to find that the infamous “Papa II”, where an unknowable number of Kashmiris were brutally tortured and from where many of them disappeared during the 1990s, is now the official residence of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. I remember feeling a bilious upheaval when I drove past the place on Gupkar Road in 1999, when I was working on a cover story on Kashmir for Time magazine. Since then, I have been in, or in the close vicinity of, some of the world’s worst torture chambers, from Abu Ghraib, outside Baghdad, and Evin, in Tehran, to Scorpion, near Cairo. ...

    Live Mint on May 9, 2017, 11:35 p.m.

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    ...This notion is especially hilarious if you’ve had any direct contact with the UN, and have witnessed the sheer incompetence that attends so many of its well-intentioned missions. Never mind plotting to take over the White House, the UN wouldn’t be able to take over my New Delhi apartment, unless I was incapacitated by a giggling fit from watching its bumbling bureaucrats make the attempt. ...

    Live Mint on April 26, 2017, 12:04 a.m.

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    ...Young Arabs, heady from having toppled their dictators, saw in Erdogan an ideal of a truly democratic leader. And he sought out potential leaders in all these countries, to lecture them on the Ankara way. “At my meetings, I said… Turkey is a model of democracy, a secular state, a social state with the rule of law upheld,” he told me. “We are not intentionally trying to export a regime—we couldn’t care less. But if they want our help, we’ll provide any assistance they need.” At home, his star was also at its apogee: Turkey’s economy was surging, his AK Party seemed impregnable, and his decision to sever ties with Israel—in response to the Maavi Marmara incident, in which Israeli commandos killed several Turkish activists on a peace flotilla bound for Gaza—was hugely popular. Erdogan, in the eyes of many of his countrymen, was a leader of the stature of Kemal Ataturk. ...

    Live Mint on April 19, 2017, 8:41 p.m.

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    ...He inhaled deeply when describing the odour of the sarin gas, and wheezed and coughed in the manner of the victims, many of whom had been his friends and neighbours. We met in the summer of 2003, in a then incomplete monument and museum to what is still regarded as one of the worst atrocities of the modern era. I was in a small group of journalists and Peshmerga fighters he showed around the museum, and we kept a respectful silence as Mam Mahmoud frequently stopped to control his emotions. ...

    Live Mint on April 12, 2017, 12:13 a.m.

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    ...When Narendra Modi visits Israel this year, it will be remarkable for two reasons: first, that it will be the first visit to the Israeli state by an Indian head of government; and second, that it will in all likelihood raise no eyebrows—never mind hackles—in the Arab world. The exact dates for the trip have not yet been announced, but it has been known for some weeks now that it will happen this summer. And yet, no Arab state has voiced any displeasure, not publicly, and not even through diplomatic back-channels. This is nothing short of astonishing to anyone who, like your humble servant, grew up in the India of the 1970s and 1980s, when it was routine for New Delhi to join the Arab chorus of condemnation for Israel at Tel Aviv’s every turn. ...

    Live Mint on March 29, 2017, 12:01 a.m.

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    ...So the diplomat deserves some praise for gamely sticking to the task until the bitter end. His valedictory performance, at an event in Mumbai last weekend, had the usual admixture of mendacity and mealy-mouthedness. There were the customary bromides about the need for India and Pakistan to restart a dialogue—the onus, but of course, falling on New Delhi. As always, Basit dissimulated clumsily on questions about Pakistan’s continued protection of the perpetrators of terrorist attacks on Indian soil. For good measure, he claimed that there were no terrorist camps in his country. The assembled gathering seems to have politely refrained from snorting or guffawing. ...

    Live Mint on March 22, 2017, 6:31 p.m.