Analysis of the Article ‘The Upside-Down World’

The article The Upside-Down World by Eduardo Galeano puts forward many thought provoking thoughts, in fact it bring forth facts which are unnoticed but which requires great attention. The title of the article in itself is noteworthy and it shows justice to the entire discussions mentioned. The article truly rewards in reverse. Since the author goes on with his argument of the world being upside down by quoting the theories and lectures of famous personalities, the readers are able to relate themselves to the believes and facts of past with the present. Misinterpretations of many theories such as ‘survival of the fittest’ are also discussed which gives a new light to the whole article. The article takes a pessimistic stand at the beginning deconstructing many of the established phrases and quotes, for example, “The looking-glass school teaches us to suffer reality, not change it; to forget the past, not learn from it; to accept the future, not invent it.”

The major point which strikes me is the ability of the author to touch every nuance of the society whether it be social, political, economic etc. And the whole issue is discussed in a serious tone which easily grabs the attention of the reader. When the author writes, ‘the world economy is the most efficient expression of organised crime’, it showcases affirmation of the author. The many facts which the common people won’t dare to raise their voice is also discussed such as, ‘the violators of nature and human rights never go to jail. They hold the keys.’

The article also speaks to the readers individually, it revolves around the physical, spiritual, social, mental levels of human beings. The quote ‘whoever is not a prisoner of necessity is a prisoner of fear, deprived of sleep by anxiety over the things he lacks or by terror of losing the things he has’ is also worth mentioning. I personally admire the tone of inspiration that the whole article possess. Even though the author frames the sentences upside down it provokes us to think in the right way.

The discussions under Equalisation and Inequality are also of great importance. Depth of the article is understood from this section when it summarises, ‘ Twin totalitarianisms plague the world; the dictatorships of consumer society and obligatory injustice’. It shatters the entire idea of equalisation and its various connotations. The statistical facts and measures given in the article increases the credulity of the same. It brings forth the darker hidden sides of poverty in a global view and the changing faces of it in the present scenario. Poverty which was once the fruit of injustice now is the fair reward for inefficiency. It openly criticizes Latin America, ‘ Latin America is a slave economy masquerading as postmodern; it pays African wages, it charges European prices, and the merchandise it produces most efficiently is injustice and violence’ and also the terms Brazilianisation and Belindia is explained to its fullest. The dirty political tricks played by the Government on various issues is also bought into light. The system always denies what it offers.

The facts about free trade which were left most of the times unnoticed are discussed with prudent historical antecedents. The false promises offered are being contradicted by reality. The section Enemy Wanted brings into the readers the horror of military economy and the entire section can be summarized into the topic sentence of the para,’ Never have so many economic resources and so much scientific and technological knowledge been brought to bear on the production of death’. The article also brings out the truths that are  deliberately covered up by the media and is never shown to the public such as Saudi Arabia’s atrocities.

The ironies that are prevalent in the entire systems of the world is also mentioned, ‘ world peace lies in the hands of the five powers (US, UK, France, Russia and China) that profit most from the big business of war’. It shows the atrocities of the war and the hide and seek played by the super powers in front of other countries. The outstanding part of this article is that, it leaves no exception to the world leaders. They are also criticized. It also points out international terrorism especially narco-terrorism. The racial riots which are buried is also mentioned.

The last section of the article The End of the Millennium as Promise and Betrayal mocks at the blind faith that the twentieth century people entrusted on the powers of science and technology. It traces the step by step reduction of the humans into mere instruments and also it has done a comparison of the past conditions with the present scenario. The article is a success showcasing all the conditions of the twentieth century such as globalisation, injustice, capitalism, communalism, social market economy, poverty, the notion of solidarity etc. It even goes to the extend of critiquing famous companies . When the article comes to an end (actually it will never end), a mixed feeling is what I as a reader and as a human being of this world feels, especially when the author quotes,’ Let’s save pessimism for better times’ and ‘when we want to say we have hope, we say we shelter hope’.


Life – a Struggle



My aunt’s grandmother, Akkamma Baby became speechless when I asked her about the memories during the Independence period. Her first cousin Accamma Cherian was a famous freedom fighter from the erstwhile Travancore (Kerala) India. She was named after her. Both of them belong to a Nasrani family (Karippaparambil) at Kanjirapally. Most of her memories regarding the struggle is what she heard from Accamma Cherian’s mother. In February 1938, the Tranvancore State Congress was formed and Accamma gave her teaching career to join the struggle for liberty. Accamma Cherian led a mass rally from Thampanoor to the Kowdiar Palace of the Maharaja Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma to revoke a ban on State Congress. The British police chief ordered his men to fire on the rally of 20,000 people. Accamma Cherian cried, “I am the leader. Shoot me before you kill others”. My cousin remembers Accamma Cherian being the controversy of that time in Kerala, she ripped off her blouse in front of everyone and asked the policemen to fire on her chest. Her courageous words forced the police authorities to withdraw their orders. On hearing the news M.K Gandhi hailed her as the ‘Jhansi Rani of Travancore’. She was arrested and convicted for violating prohibitory orders in 1939.

My cousin also remembers Accamma Cherian’s sister Rosamma Punnose who was also a freedom fighter, M.L.A and a CPI leader from 1948. She clearly remembers the chaos created when these two women were arrested and imprisoned on the day before Christmas on 1938. They were arrested for conducting the first annual conference of the State Congress at Vattiyoorkavu on 22 and 23 December 1938 in spite of the ban orders. Almost all leaders of the State Congress were arrested and imprisoned. They were sentenced to a year’s imprisonment. They were insulted and threatened in the jail. Accamma’s brother, K. C. Varkey Karippaparambil, also took part in freedom movement.

Accamma, after her release from jail, became a full-time worker of the State Congress. In 1942, she became its Acting President. She also remembers Accamma Cherian’s active participation in the Quit India Movement. Accamma Cherian’s husband V.V Varkey Mannamplackal was also a famous freedom fighter. In 1947, after independence, Accamma was elected unopposed to the Travancore Legislative Assembly from Kanjirapally. She was a person of rare courage and character who brought credit to Indian womanhood. And my cousin and her family remembers Accamma Cherian with great proud and respect. These daring  local rulers like Accamma Cherian, no doubt,  passed down the spirit of freedom and instilled a  sense of purpose and fighting qualities in the lives of next generation of natives  to drive the British out of India and not to be cowed down by their intimidation

My cousin says that the people were so much inspired by her deeds especially during a period when women’s participation was negligible because of social restrictions. She also remembers how people from different walks of life stay united and join the freedom struggle. Particularly, the women who stayed at home and kept themselves confined in the Kitchen and urged them to actively participate in the freedom movement  and raise their voice along with other men folks. I had a great experience talking with her. I could clearly visualize the struggles, chaos and anxieties that these people went through the period of Independence.


Reimagining Our Big Cities – An Evaluation of the Article

The article ‘Reimagining our big cities’ by Vasanth Srinivasan which appeared in ‘The Hindu’ on 16 December 2015 can be approached with a critical view point. The whole purpose of the article is understood from the first line, ‘Over several decades now economists have been celebrating cities not just as magic pill to get the world rid of poverty but as a turbo-charged engine that can transport people to a land of eternal prosperity’. But what I want to specifically point out is the lack of a strong opinion from the part of the writer regarding the whole issue. The author rightly points out the estimates conducted by various institutions and put forward the facts such as, two-thirds of the global population will be living in urban areas; that the developing world will account for over 90 per cent of urban growth but he fails to bring forth his stand on the article and he just touches the matter vaguely.

The writer points out the opinion of UN Habitat report on cities, ‘the highest pinnacles of human creation’, and also the observation of 2014 Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change Working Group report which says emerging global climate risks are concentrated in urban sprawls, at the same time he also put forward the questions, “Do the developing countries really understand the rules of the game they are so keen on playing? So, is urbanisation with big urban agglomerations a flawed model?, In other words, does the future belong to smaller but easily manageable cities?”, to which he fails to give an answer.

Throughout the article the writer mentions the mixed opinions of different people on the issue which left the readers confused and thus lack of clarity serves to be a major problem. Three different contradictory opinions mentioned are as follows, Durganand Balsavar, principal architect of Artes – Human Settlement Development Collaborative says, “A network of smaller urban centres is a better alternative. A large urban agglomeration cannot be made the norm. The location of the city, environmental conditions, resources have to be considered.”At the same time, Raj Cherubal, director of the organisation, Chennai City Connect says, big cities, given their density and spread, are capable of bringing in transformative changes with long-term sustainable benefits.  Another organisation is of the opinion that, “What we should address is mindless growth. Small or big does not matter.” The contradiction of the viewpoints is noticeable.

When the writer puts forward the question, “Assuming big cities are beasts that can be tamed, what route one takes?” he then again fails to give a correct definition of ‘what and where the city is?’ The author mentions about transit oriented development (TOD)  a high density commercial cumresidential area situated within a radius of 1 km from a transit station as a measure to the problem.

I also felt that the author brings many unnecessary points such as he mentions about  Nagarpalika Act and also the concept of “land value capture” which serves to be of no use in the article. The writer’s claim that one of the reasons big cities are earning a bad name is their inability to mobilise money for infrastructure development and upkeep, a universal problem that is more acute in India given our dismal record in decentralisation, is also arguable. He also brings in the “two capitals” debate. The author quotes M.G. Devasahayam, “If you find Chennai crowded today, it is not because it is the seat of government. Commercial activities need not be concentrated in Chennai. Places such as Coimbatore and Tiruchi have a good industrial base. We should develop these places.”

The author ends the article by saying that administrative decentralisation without empowering people is a road to nowhere. As policymakers reimagine the concept of the “big city”, they need to address the sense of alienation that rapid urbanisation brings with it.