In India, the all-important legislative election is being held for Gujarat. Results will appear sometime after December 18. Expectations are high that the BJP will be defeated, that this will put a dent on the ambitions of Narendra Modi and his coterie - including the diabolical Amit Shah.
I am editing a wonderful book for LeftWord Books called Strongmen, with essays by Eve Ensler on Donald Trump, Danish Husain on Narendra Modi, Burhan Sönmez on Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Ninotchka Rosca on Rodrigo Duterte. This is going to be such a powerful book, brave writers putting their hands on the pulse of our world and giving us lyrical diagnoses of its condition. The book has helped me navigate the elections in Gujarat. It will be out later this month. Look out for it.
I am hopeful that three unlikely men will undo the Modi machine: Hardik Patel (age 24) who led the reservation rallies for the Patel community, Alpesh Thakor (age 41) who led the protests on behalf of Other Backward Castes, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes) and Jignesh Mevani (age 36) who led the protests of the Dalits. These young men have cracked the Gujarat consensus, raising the issues that had been muffled under Modi's dispensation. I hope that they will be able to upend the arrogance of the ruling party.
If you read Hindi, here is an extract at our LeftWord Books blog from the Hindi edition of Teesta Setalvad's memoir (which is available in English here). Teesta's book is a terrific introduction to the viciousness of the Modi regime - particularly its tenure in Gujarat.
To keep up with the Gujarat election, please visit The Citizen, which is edited by my friend, the veteran journalist Seema Mustafa.
But the picture above is not from Gujarat. It is from Nepal. Last week I mentioned that it was likely that the Communists in Nepal would win both the parliamentary and the provincial elections. It is now clear that the Communists have swept the election. I have written a brief report on the Nepal election and what now lies ahead for the Communists. It opens, 'You might as well imagine a large red flag fluttering from the summit of Mount Everest'.
The report appeared in Alternet. You can read it here.
Tensions around Jerusalem continue. These have been - since 1948 - existential tensions. To get a full sense of that tension, please read the work fo my friend Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, who lives in Jerusalem. A few years ago, she wrote a beautiful essay on a child's sense that Palestinian clowns always cry. You can read it here.
A hundred artists and writers (including myself) signed a sharp letter to Donald Trump about his inflammatory policy on Jerusalem. You can read it here. It is a short statement. Please send it along to your friends.
Finally, very poor news from the World Health Organisation and the World Bank, whose new study - Tracking Universal Health Coverage: 2017 Global Monitoring Report - shows that 800 million people spend at least 10% of their household budgets on health expenses and that 100 million people each year go into extreme poverty because of health expenses. That means that a 100 million people each year fall below the threshold of $1.90 or less per day. That's a 100 million people per year. This is the state of things. The world spent $1.76 trillion in arms purchases in 2015. That's the priority it seems. More guns, less medicine. What a moral calculation.
Go to our website at leftword.com. We have so many new books for you. I'll be writing more about my new book - Red Star Over the Third World. You can read about it and order it from here. The book is ready to be shipped worldwide.