n.27 December 2009

Teeming India is two places at once. The first is the reflection of an ongoing economic miracle; the second has 300 million people who go to bed hungry and 80 million children who’ll never attend school. According to journalist and writer Dominique Lapierre, it’s time to close the gap between the two realities.

The dowry system was created in Greek and Roman times and later spread from Europe to India and South Asia. Traditionally, it meant the money, goods, or estate that a woman and her family doled out to her husband in marriage. While the dowry practice has lost traction elsewhere, it’s booming in modern India, bringing with it a collision between the old and the new.

As hard as the Beijing government works to incorporate the Central Asian province of Xinjiang into its concept of a "core" nation, resistance on the part of minority Uyghurs remains strong and focused. Many see the central government's regional efforts as nothing more than a ploy to prey on abundant natural resources and to force Han majority rule on territories that for centuries were marked nomadic independence. While China has made some inroads, contradictions are more evident than gains.

Bai Ling first appeared on Chinese screens playing a country girl who moves to the city, becomes a factory worker, and falls for her cousin. The domestic tearjerker was huge hit with Chinese audiences. But her real breakthrough came in 1988, when she played a mentally disturbed woman in the movie “Arc Light.”  That performance signaled the beginning of Bai Ling’s rise, which eventually led her to the kind of Hollywood sex-symbol status that makes conservative Beijing uneasy.