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Fact and Fiction – Latest Himal Quarterly

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The last issue of Himal Southasianlooks at the attacks on freedom of expression in the region by governments, political leaders, intolerant populist opinion and the corporatisation of media. While Himal faces closure due to misuse of state machinery, independent media and civil-society activists elsewhere in the region face challenges that jeopardise the lives and safety of many of them.

In a world where reality begins to resemble a Manto-esque depiction, fiction illuminates how individuals experience stark realities – sexual violence, livelihood struggles, incarceration, gender discrimination and the fragile territory of relationships. Other stories are autobiographical in nature, chronicling reminiscences, histories and memories. We also have travel accounts, stories that deal with the surreal and with the experimental oeuvre. The fiction in this issue also underlines the commonalities of our experiences in Southasia in the writings from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Tibet and Maldives.

Articles in this issue on the freedom of expression include:

Salil Tripathi’s essay examining the characteristics of fascism as elaborated by Umberto Eco holds up a stunning mirror to intolerance in India.

Neha Dixit’s personal account on the attacks on her lays bare the cost of independent reporting in India when it challenges populist rhetoric through investigative journalism. Sarah Eleazar explores the increasing controls on democratic space in Pakistan, where nationalist rhetoric makes it impossible to campaign for freedom of expression, and cyber laws are used to curb anti-government criticism.

Sarah Eleazar explores the increasing controls on democratic space in Pakistan, where nationalist rhetoric makes it impossible to campaign for freedom of expression, and cyber laws are used to curb anti-government criticism.

Sukumar Muralidharan explores how independent journalism is also restricted when the profit motive of corporate media not only leads to the erosion of principles of journalism but also uses the argument of freedom of expression to protect owners and their predatory pricing techniques.

Sana Saleem writes on surveillance and control in Pakistan.

In Nepal, as Editor Aunohita Mojumdar writes, Himal is the victim of the noticeable trend across Southasia, of misuse of regulatory mechanisms to curb freedom of expression. It is a sophisticated way of suppressing dissent. For us at Himal, the past several months, which saw our founding editor arrested, released on court orders, yet facing continued harassment from the entire apparatus of state machinery arrayed against him, truth has felt stranger than fiction.

In the Fiction Section, stories include:
Goldfish | Pranaya SJB Rana
My mother’s head | Sumana Roy
Sunday-key-Monday | Farrukh Dhondy
Gul Naar | Abu Taha
Winter in Patlikuhl | Tenzin Dickie 
The red scarf | Manjula Padmanabhan
All she had to say | Gopilal Acharya
A trip to Bodh Gaya | Lingchen
To be whipped till… | Farzana Ali
End overend | Daniel Bosley

Translated Short Stories:
Shahnaz, the NCL | Minakshi Sen
Landslide | Udai Thulung
Maaji | Qudratullah Shahab

Graphic Short 
Pl. do the needful… | Bharath Murthy

Short stories selected through the Call for Fiction:
Monument | Mustafa Khanbhai
The silver box | Bharati Motwani
Green card | Kunsang Palmo
Fifteen minutes of fame | Vrinda Baliga
The lift | Amrita Mahale
Mourning for my women | Meem Arafat Manab

Also, we have reviews by:
Words and warriors | Puja Sen
Literary sandbox | Bhuchung D Sonam
Looking for voices | Venkatesh M Swamy