A new biography of Eleanor Marx

A new biography of Marx’s daughter: Eleanor Marx: A Life, by Rachel Holmes.

From the review by Lisa Jardine in the Financial Times:

“Eleanor was a more agitprop version of the bookish Karl. She led striking dock workers and gas workers, organising their emerging unions’ activities and joining their demonstrations. She ghosted any number of articles and manifestos for male union leaders and political activists. She addressed a crowd of 250,000 at the first May Day rally in London and toured the U. S., speaking out against the conditions of manual labourers.

“Intellectually, what she brought of her own to the political arena was a vision that incorporated the rights of women. As she wrote in 1886 in The Woman Question, ‘For women, as for the labouring classes, no solution of the difficulties and problems that present themselves is really possible in the present condition of society.’”

Full review at

‘RSS 3.0: Mohan Bhagwat brings a resurgent Sangh to the cusp of political power’, Dinesh Narayanan in The Caravan, May 1, 2014

A well-researched and educative essay in long-form journalism: ‘Mohan Bhagwat is arguably the most powerful outsider in Indian politics today. Although the RSS publicly eschews politics, Bhagwat’s organisation supplies much of the ideological and strategic direction, as well as many leaders, to roughly three dozen affiliate groups across India. This includes the country’s largest trade union…the country’s largest student union…and the…BJP. The Sangh and its various offshoots…run more than 150,000 projects across the country, including educational, tribal welfare and Hindu religious programmes. The sarsanghchalak is considered the “guide and philosopher” of the entire movement. Since he was elevated to the post in 2009, Bhagwat has skilfully rallied the RSS and its affiliates to help the BJP prepare for and fight what have become the most significant elections since 1971…’,8



Behind Elections 2014: Two upstanding editorials in the Economic & Political Weekly, May 24, 2014

‘If there is a message from Elections 2014 it is that India has been changing. It is becoming a society where those with a voice are becoming less tolerant, less compassionate and more aggressive towards those without a voice. This is just the atmosphere for an aggressive mix of religion and nationalism to find expression. It will therefore be a huge challenge for individuals, groups and parties concerned about democratic and human rights – who have been marginalised in Elections 2014 – to monitor and keep a check on the BJP/NDA government so that a pluralistic India can look forward to a peaceful future in which the well-being of all is at the centre. The “new era” that the BJP has declared is not something to be viewed with optimism, it should perhaps be viewed with scepticism and apprehension.’



‘Was it an independent media or an extended arm of the Modi campaign that we saw ahead of the polls?’



The promise of BJP obscurantism

BJP Manifesto promise:

“We will start integrated courses for Indian System of Medicine (ISM) and modern science and Ayurgenomics.”

Science blogger at on “Ayurgenomics”:

“Every so often, I come across something in the world of woo that leaves my jaw dangling from its joint in utter astonishment that anyone could think such a thing was a good idea. Sometimes these things are investigations into various paranormal phenomena. Sometimes, it’s the latest anti-science denialist screed from a creationist. Other times, it’s a contortion of science so egregious that I can’t believe anyone would actually do it – or that anyone would actually mistake that woo for good science.

This time around, it’s genomics that’s being abused.”

 “…Why it is necessary to use a religion-based system in order to ascertain information about a patient’s body habitus, familial characteristics, ethnicity, and other traits relevant to disease, I don’t know… ”

Read the excellent full blog at:

Santana Mondal, Symbol of Courage

Santana Mondal, Dalit woman agricultural worker, who suffered grievous injuries when she was attacked on May 6 by Trinamul Congress goons:

“Why should I be afraid of anyone? My sister and I work so that our families can live. We don’t have to bow before anyone.”

“You will burn my house, I will sleep in the open. What will you do? You will kill us all, but how many will you kill, there are still many more who will hold the flag.”

60th Anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu Victory

May 7 was the 60th anniversary of the victory of the Vietnamese people against the French colonial army.

One of Vietnam’s last surviving veterans of the battle of Dien Bien Phu recounts with pride the day in May 1954 when, aged 19, he captured General Castries, commander of the French colonial forces…who “put his hands in the air and said ‘Don’t shoot — I surrender.’”

“‘Would you like two atomic bombs?’ These are the words that a senior French diplomat remembered US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles asking the French Foreign Minister, Georges Bidault, in April 1954. The context of this extraordinary offer was the critical plight of the French army at Dien Bien Phu.”

Photographs from the 60th anniversary commemoration events:

Charlie Chaplin by Peter Ackroyd review – divine comedy, difficult man | Culture | The Guardian

A haunting biography captures the brilliance and the blemishes of a comic who fought his way from poverty to worldwide fame.

Charlie Chaplin by Peter Ackroyd review – divine comedy, difficult man | Culture | The Guardian.

Masala Dosa to Die For –

A story stranger than fiction: