A note on Dadri

October 7th, 2015



When I read of the killing, in Bisara village of Dadri, of a Muslim man by Hindus who suspected him of keeping beef in his house, I was taken back to the Gujarat massacre of 2002. That wound is fresh: the passing of a dozen years has done nothing to lessen the pain and the anger. Indeed, many more wounds have been added after Modi’s election victory, which has enabled the underlying evil to spread its tentacles and grow more vicious. It is not surprising that people are reacting to Dadri with fear and loathing.

Anjali Mody writes that where the cow is concerned, the actions of the police are part of the “web linking the politics of cow protection, deep-seated caste animosities, Hinduisation, electoral politics and the exercise of state power.” (Scroll)

Mody said this because the police of Dadri have sent samples of the meat in question for laboratory testing. If it turns out to be cow meat, they can say that the lynched man asked to be lynched. There is little doubt that this course was thought of by the Hindu Right. “’If they ate beef, they are responsible for what happened,’ [Nawab Singh Nagar, former M.L.A.] is reported to have said.” (Catch News)

Attempts at a cover-up began immediately, and I cannot help wondering if they are not part of a larger plan. Nagar said “that the ‘excitement of kids’ who attacked the family was a result of a nationwide movement to protect cows.” (Daily News Analysis) Is this “nationwide movement” a natural phenomenon, inevitable and unstoppable like tides, or is it something orchestrated by the Hindu Right and aimed against the Muslims of India?

Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Tourism and BJP MP from NOIDA, said that the incident “should be considered as an accident.” (Times of India) Two people went to the temple by accident so that they might compel the priest to make an inflammatory announcement? (Communalism Watch) Five hundred or so people went together to Akhlaq’s house by accident? And was it an accident that these people carried hockey sticks and, some say, swords?

We may marvel at the imagination of this Mahesh Sharma. Smita Gupta has something else to say: “The murder of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri, on the edge of the national capital, by a violent Hindu mob on Wednesday should come as no surprise … In the months since the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre, similar political mobilisation has been in evidence, with a spurt in rumours and incidents relating to cow slaughter. (The Hindu) This is of course the inter-linking, the “web”, of which Anjali Mody writes.

The simple fact is that civilised societies have bodies of laws and have devised mechanisms to deal with the breaking of these laws. If the cow worshippers of Dadri suspected that Akhlaq had cow flesh in his refrigerator, they should have reported the matter to the police instead of taking the law into their hands and killing him for a crime not proven. If indeed the flesh was from a cow, the system of justice and law enforcement would deal with the matter according to the procedure laid down.

The illogic of laboratory testing was expressed most clearly by the lynched man’s 18-year-old daughter Sajida, who asked, “If it’s not beef, will they bring back my dead father?” (Indian Express)

Not even the Hindu Right, although it now governs the country, may usurp the powers of the established system of justice. If it “punishes” a mere suspect by murdering him, the system of justice must try it and punish it. The Hindu Right is of course aware of this: it began by pressing for the murderers to be charged not with murder but with culpable homicide, which carries a lesser sentence.

But later it went a good deal farther: Local BJP leader Vichitra Tomar said, “We demand the release of all the people who have been arrested in connection with the Bisada incident, who are all innocent. We also demand legal action against those who are engaged in cow slaughter, as it is meant to incite sentiments of Hindus.” (Communalism Watch) As the Yankees would say, these smart people have all the bases covered.

Azam Khan, a minister in Uttar Pradesh, “urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prevent BJP volunteers from victimizing the [Muslim] community to meet ‘petty political ends’.” He also indicated that the BJP does not rule the whole country: “He challenged the government to impose a countrywide ban on cow slaughter, saying that beef is being openly sold in states like Goa, Meghalaya, Pondicherry and West Bengal,” where beef eaters are not a tiny minority as they are in Dadri.

(The Economic Times)

Azam Khan’s pointing towards the top man is not accidental. It became clear soon after the last general election that the goons of Hindutva get their courage, and

perhaps instructions also, from those above them in the chain of command. It is completely incredible that the prime minister is unaware of what happens across the country. His underlings control two vast networks: Rajnath Singh is in charge of the police and Amit Shah is in charge of the party cadres. It hardly needs to be said that Modi will be fed information, and perhaps instructions also, by the RSS as well, whose network is far larger than that of the police and is widely held to be more efficient.

But friends have told me that I am wrong to speak of these networks as separate. They say that the BJP and the RSS act together and have co-opted the police. “What happens when the law is in the hands of a communalised police force, which willingly allows ‘mobs’ to do as they please and then invokes laws which are not relevant to the case?” (Ghazala Jamil, on e-mail)

This article was completed early on 2 October. Three days later, the following appeared in the /Times of India/: “A police intelligence report accessed by TOI suggests Bisada could have blown up in a bigger way than Muzaffarnagar as it is surrounded by Rajput villages, known as the Satha Chaurasi. Indicating a planned move to fan communal flames, the report also talks of [a] plan to demolish a mosque in a nearby village.” (Communalism Watch)

(This article is to appear in Mainstream Weekly.)

(Mukul Dube is an author/editor/activist and can be reached at dube.mukul@gmail.com)

How the brain recognizes objects

October 7th, 2015


Researchers have found that neuron firing patterns in the inferior temporal (IT) cortex, highlighted here, correlate strongly with success in object-recognition tasks. IMAGE/MIT News

Neuroscientists find evidence that the brain’s inferotemporal cortex can identify objects.

When the eyes are open, visual information flows from the retina through the optic nerve and into the brain, which assembles this raw information into objects and scenes.

Scientists have previously hypothesized that objects are distinguished in the inferior temporal (IT) cortex, which is near the end of this flow of information, also called the ventral stream. A new study from MIT neuroscientists offers evidence that this is indeed the case.

Using data from both humans and nonhuman primates, the researchers found that neuron firing patterns in the IT cortex correlate strongly with success in object-recognition tasks.

“While we knew from prior work that neuronal population activity in inferior temporal cortex was likely to underlie visual object recognition, we did not have a predictive map that could accurately link that neural activity to object perception and behavior. The results from this study demonstrate that a particular map from particular aspects of IT population activity to behavior is highly accurate over all types of objects that were tested,” says James DiCarlo, head of MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, a member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and senior author of the study, which appears in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The paper’s lead author is Najib Majaj, a former postdoc in DiCarlo’s lab who is now at New York University. Other authors are former MIT graduate student Ha Hong and former MIT undergraduate Ethan Solomon.

Distinguishing objects

Earlier stops along the ventral stream are believed to process basic visual elements such as brightness and orientation. More complex functions take place farther along the stream, with object recognition believed to occur in the IT cortex.

MIT News for more

Civil society in times of (de)fences: On-the-ground at the Hungarian-Serbian border

October 7th, 2015


A family walks by a fence that is being built on the Hungarian Serbian border at Morahalom, Hungary. ‘The leaders of Serbia, Macedonia, Germany now accept that trying to blockade their borders is futile. The rest of Europe must face the facts too,’ writes Simon Cox. PHOTO/Reuters/The Guardian

In Hungary, a fence has been built. One day before the opening of the second meeting of the Regional Academy on the United Nations (RAUN) in Szeged, a city located close to the Hungarian-Serbian Border, the fence had been completed and the border de facto closed. Two additional fences have been announced, and state leaders continue to open and close borders hourly. Röszke, a small town between Szeged and the border, became the main stage upon which Europe would witness the refugee tragedy. Thousands of refugees: women, men, children, young and old, mostly fleeing the Syrian crisis, flocked to Europe’s gates. The doors opened, only to be promptly slammed in their faces. On September 14th, an emergency meeting of European Interior Ministers resulted in no consensus –not even a joint public statement. On September 22nd, the second interior ministers met and agreed to draft the planning of a quota system to relocate 120,000 refugees. The insufficiency, and probable inefficiency, of this system, along with the resistance of state leaders from Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, is no match for the gravity of the escalating crisis.

In the meantime, however, European civil society seems to have reached a general consensus: “refugees are welcome”. International press coverage has brought to our attention initiatives, mostly in Austria and Germany (key passages and destination countries in this improvised, ever-changing emergency response), where Europeans greet refugees at train stations, welcome children with toys and blankets. People high-five refugees upon arrival, sing to welcome them and assist them in a variety of ways, ranging from addressing their basic needs to knitting hats and scarves with and for refugees at train stations. Just as the state orders to block refugees from crossing the border proceeded swiftly and effectively, engaged individuals and groups have swiftly and effectively organised to relocate the refugees. The Vienna-based organisation SOS Röszke (in the meantime renamed SOSkonvoi) has been assisting with the provision of basic needs and support on the Hungarian side of the border for the past 2 weeks, as informed by one of our team members, Nicholas Lieb, who has been actively volunteering with the organization.

Alternatives International Journal for more

(Thanks to Feroz Mehdi)

Men start to make women’s struggles their own in Argentina

October 6th, 2015


A group of men signing the “commitment to equality” during a meeting in Buenos Aires organised by the Men for Equality network, created a year ago in Argentina. PHOTO/Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

The meeting was about gender equality, but for once there were more men than women. It marked a watershed in the struggle in Argentina to make the commitment to equality more than just “a women’s thing.”

The Buenos Aires meeting was organised by the Men for Equality (HxI) network, which emerged a year ago to “generate a space to incorporate all men who promote gender equality and the prevention of violence against women, and achieve the commitment to carry out actions to that end in their areas of influence and/or workplaces.”

Behind the initiative are the United Nations in Argentina and the government’s National Women’s Council, along with two private organisations: the Avon Foundation and the local branch of the French multinational retailer Carrefour.

The president of the National Women’s Council, Mariana Gras, was surprised that women were in the minority at the meeting.

“The meetings are always made up of women,” she said in an interview with IPS. “When we talk to different authorities or leaders and say we’re planning a meeting on gender equality, they say: ‘I’ll send the girls’. Men feel uncomfortable, they make jokes, and prefer not to go to these meetings.”

The U.N. resident coordinator in Argentina, René Mauricio Valdés, told IPS: “This has been gaining momentum among a group of us men who often ran into each other at events of this kind, where we shared specific concerns. Almost all the events that we organised on women’s rights were attended virtually by women only.”

Representatives of the government, the judicial system, the business community, academia and social movements took part in the Sep. 22 meeting.

Several participants signed the “commitment to equality” – one of the HxI network’s initiatives.[

The document, whose signatories include Labour Minister Carlos Tomada, states: “I commit to making a daily personal evaluation of my behavior and attitudes, to avoid reproducing the prejudices and stereotypes that sustain systematic discrimination towards women and keep them from enjoying their rights in equal conditions with men.”

Gras said sexist and ‘machista’ stereotypes also affect men in this South American country of 43 million people.

Inter Press Service for more

Declare the NRA a terrorist organization

October 6th, 2015


I recall a conversation that some friends and I were having more than twenty years ago, on the eve of America’s bombing of Iraq months after Saddam Hussein had moved into Kuwait. We all agreed that war was engineered into the American psyche: the country seemed then, as it is now, to be on a war footing. The bombing seemed imminent and thousands were bound to die, reduced to the indignity of being viewed as mere “collateral damage”. Someone then remarked that while the United States was busy bombing other countries into submission, relegating them (as one American official declared with much pride) to the stone age, enough people were being killed on American streets from gun-related violence.

The newspapers carry the story of yet another massacre, this one at a community college in Oregon. Lovely small-town America has had its share of mass killings and the end is nowhere in sight. The killer, Chris Harper Mercer, is now reported to have taken nine lives before being killed in a gun battle with law enforcement officers. Rather predictably, we are now being told that the gunman was a “loner” with quite likely a history of mental illness. A Washington Post headline sums it up, “Oregon shooter left behind online portrait of a loner with a grudge against religion.” The lack of “community”, the inability to forge relationships with others, the desire to go down in glory: all these are the stable ingredients of a story that has been foretold. Thus, we read, “Mercer was a quiet, withdrawn young man who struggled to connect with other people, instead seeking attention online or, ultimately, through violence.” In nearly all such instances—the Charleston shooting, most recently, comes to mind—there is mention of the killer’s real or alleged membership in neo-Nazi groups, or other so-called “fringe” groups which bear a grudge against the de-whitening of America, and the Washington Post is unfailingly true to form in this respect. The article states that “Mercer’s e-mail address referenced an iron cross, a symbol often associated with Nazis.”

Lal Salaam for more

What is it like to live on ‘$2.00 a Day’? New book examines deep poverty in the U.S. (book review)

October 6th, 2015


IMAGE/Mother Jones

or “Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage,” Kathryn J. Edin, with coauthor Maria Kefalas, immersed herself in the lives of Philadelphia-area unwed mothers, exploding myths about their choices. She found that many of these women sought children as a source of love and meaning while disdaining marriage to men unable to provide economic stability.

In her latest book, “$2.00 a Day,” she applies the same analytical skills to a harrowing examination of deep poverty in the United States. This time, Edin, professor of sociology and public health at Johns Hopkins University, teams with H. Luke Shaefer, associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, to report on both historically destitute regions and those suffering more recent economic decline.

Their research, backed by income data, takes them into the homes of severely cash-deprived families in Chicago, Cleveland, the Mississippi Delta and Johnson City, Tenn. We meet a mother bouncing with her daughter from one homeless shelter to the next, desperate for a minimum-wage job; chronically hungry children who live in cramped, fetid houses often lacking heat, electricity or running water; a woman who sells her blood plasma twice a week to pay the bills; and a 10th-grader who opts to trade sex with a gym teacher for food.

They are the soul of this important and heart-rending book, in the tradition of Michael Harrington’s “The Other America” and Alex Kotlowitz’s “There Are No Children Here.” Their skillfully told stories are meant both to inspire empathy and change policy.

Los Angeles Times for more

(Thanks to reader)

Intransigence of India and Pakistan over Kashmir:

October 5th, 2015


Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (1917 – 1984) and Pakistani President, later Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (1928 – 1979) in Simla, India in 1972. PHOTO/Mid Day

In the wake of India’s recent assertion of the validity of the Simla Agreement, which, in official circles, undermines the legitimacy of any third-party interference in the Kashmir issue and diminishes the role of the international community, it is important to recapitulate the circumstances that led to the weakening of the Pakistani standpoint on Kashmir. It is also important to remember that the validity of the UN charter as governing relations between the two countries remained intact.

The 1965 Indo–Pak war proved disastrous for both nation-states. In an attempt to save face, the two sides agreed to a UN-mediated cease-fire, which took place on 23 September 1965, in Tashkent, Russia. Talks between Russian Premier Alexei Kosygin, Indian Premier Lal Bahadur Shastri, and Pakistani President Ayub Khan led to the ratification of an agreement, the Tashkent Declaration. Alastair Lamb (1991: 269) writes about the atmosphere, characterized by tact and diplomacy, in which the talks took place:

“In the era of Khrushchev the Soviet Union had publicly declared itself a supporter of the Indian stand on Kashmir. In 1962 a Russian veto had defeated a Security Council resolution on the plebiscite issue. By 1965, and after the fall of the Khrushchev regime, Russian attitudes were significantly modified. When President Ayub Khan visited Moscow in early April 1965, Aleksei Kosygin, the Soviet Prime Minister, showed himself far more flexible in outlook than Khrushchev had ever been. No doubt he was looking for some means to reduce Chinese support in Rawalpindi.”

The Tashkent Declaration emphasized the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan through peaceful negotiations, and a rapprochement that would facilitate the development of amity between the two countries. In other words, the Kashmir conflict was consigned to a position of reduced political import. The declaration was perceived by the people of both India and Pakistan as a despicable act of evasion and was received with hostility by them: “Despite domestic opposition, both sides did respect the terms of the Declaration at least as far as practical measures were concerned. Prisoners of war were repatriated. . . . However, respecting the spirit of the Declaration (resolving disputes peacefully, promoting friendly relations) proved more difficult” (Malik 2002: 124–25). The disregard of the will of the people and the steady dissolution of democratic institutions caused colossal damage in the state of J & K.

Despite the publicly voiced protestations by people who had access to the higher echelons of power, the 1967 elections in Indian-administered J & K did not bear testimony to India’s democratic façade. Congress candidates supported by the Sadiq–Qasim faction of the NC won in 33 of the Valley’s 42 constituencies, 27 of Jammu’s 31 constituencies, and 1 of Ladakh’s 2 constituencies––indubitably a large number. The draconian nature of the 1967 electoral process inIndian-administered J & K further entrenched corruption in the soil of the political culture, which is a yoke from which the people of the state, thus far, have not been able to free themselves. The official candidate from the southern Kashmir town of Anantnag was Khwaja Shamsuddin, who had been the prime minister of Indian-administered J & K for a few months in 1962–1963. Predictably, he was elected unopposed after papers filed by five other candidates were summarily invalidated. Of the 118 candidates whose papers were nullified, 55 were rejected because the candidates had declared their unwillingness to take the mandatory oath of allegiance to India. The government efficiently deployed the machinery and infrastructure available to it in order to ensure the victory of its political organization, winning 61 of the 75 seats. Clearly, India had left no stone unturned to ensure the victory of its cronies and the defeat of its ideological and political opponents. New Delhi’s master of subterfuge greased the wheels of rampant deployment of governmental machinery to ease the path of the ruling party to victory and to delegitimize dissident politics. The use of such discreditable methods enabled the Congress to create the semblance of a base for itself in the Valley, which, prior to these elections, had been nonexistent.

An unforeseen development that election year was the opposition of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, prime minister of Indian-administered J & K from 1953 to 1963, to the Congress parliamentary candidateas Srinagar constituency candidate for the straggling faction of the NC. In an interesting reversal of political fortunes, Bakshi’s faction of the NC won 7 seats in the Valley and 1 in Jammu that year. Not one to be easily slighted, the heretofore autocrat, known for his corrupt politics and brutal repression of dissent, proclaimed himself a Kashmir nationalist who was willing to fight tooth and nail against the centrist and integrative policies of New Delhi. This sudden and unexpected shift to regionalism and Kashmiri nationalism was Bakshi’s ticket to the Indian Parliament. He was elected as the parliamentary representative from Srinagar. The status of the ruling faction as a nonentity was reinforced when the brief release of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah from incarceration in 1968 was greeted with overwhelming jubilation in the Valley. The “Lion of Kashmir” was welcomed by the people with such uninhibited exuberance and joy that the foundations of the Congress in the Valley were palpably shaken. Soon after his release, Abdullah addressed a mammoth gathering in Anantnag on 26 January 1968, in which he unhesitatingly voiced his dissident ideology. He made it clear that India’s undemocratic and oppressive tactics would not inhibit the passionate desire of the Kashmiri people to be free. He also reminded India of its unfulfilled promise to hold a referendum in Kashmir and enable the people to exercise their right of self-determination. Sheikh Abdullah’s disillusionment with Indian democracy created political and personal acrimony:

“Respect for the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, the integrity of the electoral process––are all sought to be guaranteed by the Indian constitution. It is not surprising that many other countries have drawn upon this constitution, particularly the chapter on fundamental rights. Yet it must at all times be remembered that the constitution provides the framework, and it is for the men who work it to give it life and meaning. In many ways the provisions of the constitution have been flagrantly violated [in Kashmir] and the ideals it enshrines completely forgotten. Forces have arisen which threaten to carry this saddening and destructive process further still.”

(Speeches and Interviews of Sher-e-Kashmir 1968: 15–16; quoted in Bose 2003: 46)

In the wake of armed insurrection, genocide, extortions, exoduses, and state-sponsored atrocities, Abdullah’s prediction has proved frighteningly accurate. His sharp delineation of India’s antidemocratic strategies has proved to be the prognosis of a farsighted populist leader.

Subsequent to the large-scale arrests of leaders and members of the Plebiscite Front, elections were held in the state in 1971–1972 in which the Congress orchestrated a landslide victory for itself, managing to acquire 5 out of 6 parliamentary seats and 56 out of 73 assembly seats. That year the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gained visibility in the politically disputed state by garnering support to win 2 seats in Jammu.

In another unforeseen and interesting development, a pro-Pakistan religious organization, Jamaat-i-Islami––which had insistently disavowed Kashmir’s accession to India, and is currently a vocal opponent of elections held in Indian-administered J & K within the framework of the Constitution of India––in a tacit understanding with the Qasim regime, managed to get 5 representatives accommodated in the Legislative Assembly. In the parliamentary election, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad again contested from Srinagar. Only this time he disavowed his Kashmiri nationalism and was patronized by the official regime with its unitary politics of Indian nationalism.

After the 1971 Indo–Pak war India had become a force to contend with, and the ability of Pakistan to challenge that power had been greatly reduced. The display of India’s superior military strength and strategic dexterity during that war diminished Pakistan’s stature. The Simla Agreement, ratified in 1972 by then Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi soon after the 1971 war, underlined the bilateral nature of the Kashmir issue; entrenched the cease-fire line, thereafter referred to as the Line of Control (LOC); reinforced the validity of the UN charter as governing relations between the two countries; and agreed to reaching a final settlement of the disputed area in the former princely state of J & K (Margolio 1999: 73–74). The common perception in India was that the Simla Agreement was a tacit acknowledgment of the Indian Union’s claim over the state. This perception in politically influential circles has seemed to give a much yearned after legitimacy to the centrist policies of both India and Pakistan.

(Nyla Ali Khan is a visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma. She earned her PhD in Post-colonial literature from OU. She is a member of the Scholars Strategy Network. She has written several books including The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism (Routledge, 2005), Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), and The Life of a Kashmiri Woman: Dialectic of Resistance and Accommodation. Dr. Khan lives in Edmond with her husband Dr. Khan a practicing Rheumatologist and their daughter.)

Debacle, Inc.

October 5th, 2015


Henry Kissinger speaks at a World Economic Forum meeting in 2013. PHOTO/Reuters/Pascal Lauener/The Nation

How Henry Kissinger Helped Create Our “Proliferated” World

The only person Henry Kissinger flattered more than President Richard Nixon was Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. In the early 1970s, the Shah, sitting atop an enormous reserve of increasingly expensive oil and a key figure in Nixon and Kissinger’s move into the Middle East, wanted to be dealt with as a serious person. He expected his country to be treated with the same respect Washington showed other key Cold War allies like West Germany and Great Britain. As Nixon’s national security adviser and, after 1973, secretary of state, Kissinger’s job was to pump up the Shah, to make him feel like he truly was the “king of kings.”

Reading the diplomatic record, it’s hard not to imagine his weariness as he prepared for his sessions with the Shah, considering just what gestures and words would be needed to make it clear that his majesty truly mattered to Washington, that he was valued beyond compare. “Let’s see,” an aide who was helping Kissinger get ready for one such meeting said, “the Shah will want to talk about Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, the Kurds, and Brezhnev.”

During another prep, Kissinger was told that “the Shah wants to ride in an F-14.” Silence ensued. Then Kissinger began to think aloud about how to flatter the monarch into abandoning the idea. “We can say,” he began, “that if he has his heart set on it, okay, but the President would feel easier if he didn’t have that one worry in 10,000 [that the plane might crash]. The Shah will be flattered.” Once, Nixon asked Kissinger to book the entertainer Danny Kaye for a private performance for the Shah and his wife.

The 92-year-old Kissinger has a long history of involvement in Iran and his recent opposition to Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, while relatively subdued by present Washington standards, matters.  In it lies a certain irony, given his own largely unexamined record in the region.  Kissinger’s criticism has focused mostly on warning that the deal might provoke a regional nuclear arms race as Sunni states led by Saudi Arabia line up against Shia Iran. “We will live in a proliferated world,” he said in testimony before the Senate. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed co-authored with another former secretary of state, George Shultz, Kissinger worried that, as the region “trends toward sectarian upheaval” and “state collapse,” the “disequilibrium of power” might likely tilt toward Tehran.

Tom Dispatch for more

Stop ‘phubbing’ up your relationship

October 5th, 2015


According to StopPhubbing.com, New York City is the city with the worst phubbing behavior IMAGE/Infographic: StopPhubbing.com

We’ve all been there: You’re spending quality time with your partner, when they whip out their phone and completely block you out.

While the action is small, it can be infuriating — and new research has discovered that it can cause everything from a decrease in your relationship satisfaction to feelings of depression.

For the uninitiated, phubbing (short for “phone snubbing”) is a term coined to capture the practice of ignoring the person you’re with by paying more attention to your phone than to them. StopPhubbing.com, a tongue-in-cheek website devoted to spreading awareness about the behavior — they report that “if phubbing were a plague, it would decimate six Chinas” — features a spot where you can upload images of your friends phubbing, called “the Phubbing Hall of Shame.”

The new research findings were part of a study of more than 450 adults on “partner phone snubbing” (which they called  “Pphubbing”) that was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior

Among the more detailed findings:

  • More than 46 percent said they’ve been phubbed by their partner.

  • More than 22 percent said phubbing caused issues in their relationship.

  • Nearly 37 percent said they feel depressed at least some of the time.

Study co-author James A. Roberts, a professor at Baylor University and author of Too Much of a Good Thing: Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?, tells Yahoo Health that there is a direct correlation between phubbing and relationship issues. “We found that the ones that reported higher partner phubbing fought more with their partner and were less satisfied with their relationship than those who reported less phubbing,” he says.

Yahoo for more

(Thanks to reader)

Weekend Edition

October 2nd, 2015