Shobha's Blog - Open Sesame

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Good Bye 2017!

Another year is about to be history, and what a year it was! Donald Trump occupied the White House, Halimah Yacob became the first lady to take office in the Istana, Ram Nath Kovind entered Rashtrapati Bhavan, Theresa May and Angel Merkel foundered after general elections, the far right was on a roll, the Middle East in turmoil, there was no end to terrorism in Kashmir, corruption charges brought down Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan, there was carnage in Myanmar, tension in the Korean peninsula, and China raised some hackles in South Asia. 

On a more cheerful note, Christmas comes early to Singapore. Orchard Road has been sparkling with Christmas lights and decorations since mid-November. The Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, is a nursery-rhyme-like reminder that the Christmas season doesn’t end on Boxing Day. But how did the festivities become more than a month long, beginning in November? The inspiration may be more commercial than spiritual, a ruse to ring up cash registers, but the bright lights and crowds on Orchard Road exude a gaiety the world needs more of, not less. Especially at Christmas. For what is Christmas for but, as the carollers sing, to “Bring Joy to the World”?

The spirit of Christmas animates the pages of India Se this month. See if you like our ideas about what to eat and drink, what to wear and how to decorate your home for Christmas. 

Santa Claus is coming to town – but in a far from wonderful world. Despite all the wonderful places and wonderful people on earth, there’s no getting around man’s inhumanity to man – and woman.

The Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey scandals have blown the lid on sexual harassment, both straight and gay, unleashing an avalanche of revelations by victims and outrage all around. Shobhaa De lends her powerful voice to the victims. Sexual harassment is by no means uncommon in Bollywood, she says, and it’s time the predators were named and shamed there as in Hollywood.

Rape is not a women’s issue, writes Sabyn Javeri from Pakistan. Instead of reporting “a woman was raped”, newspapers should write, “A man raped a woman,” because by using the passive voice (“a woman was raped”) we are absolving men of responsibility for the crime. 

MJ Akbar waxes eloquent on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mission to “liberate 100 million households, or nearly half a billion Indians, from the whiplash of poverty” by 2022. 

Talking about money, we meet the moneymakers of Silverdale Capital, a fund management company in Singapore, who say they have been delivering returns of 10 per cent a year in US dollars. That’s phenomenal compared with the less than 2 per cent you are likely to get on bank deposits in Singapore. Silverdale founder and CIO Sanjay Guglani and President Aseem Arora explain their strategy in our exclusive cover story.

Migrants and asylum seekers are having doors closed in their faces in various parts of the world, but animal migration continues unchecked in the heart of Africa. Avid traveller Jay Brara, who has been to 72 countries, takes us on an African safari. “A major highlight of the East African safari is witnessing the Great Migration,” he writes, “the annual journey of two million wildebeest and zebras from the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania over the Mara river to the grasslands of the Masai Mara.” Enjoy.

Management guru Debashis Chatterjee, however, has the last word, on the last page. The pursuit of joy outside of ourselves is as futile as the pursuit of our own shadow, he writes, we have to find happiness within ourselves.

Yes, but share your happiness with family and friends. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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