I’ve been transfixed for the last three days by the news coming out of Pakistan’s neighbor to the west, Iran. And I’ve really really wanted to blog it, but honestly, there just isn’t a desi angle.
Unlike Burma, which is similarly just outside the region, South Asian countries don’t play a large role in Iranian politics, and what’s happening in Iran is unlikely to have direct consequences for either Afghanistan or Pakistan. While Surinder Singh Karkar played an important role in the Burmese democracy movement, there seem to be no desis involved in the Persian protests; a difference most likely due to the fact that there are close to 1 million Burmese desis and only a few thousand desis in Iran:
Between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many wealthy Parsis began to travel to Iran to revive the Zoroastrian faith and traditions among the stagnating Zoroastrian community in Iran at the time … In 1950s, more Indians migrated to Iran and settled primarily in Tehran. They consisted Sikhs and some Gujaratis. In the 1960s and early 70s, about 10,000 Indian Doctors, Engineers and Teachers moved to Iran as a response to the open policies initiated by the Shah of Iran, but most of them left Iran after the Iranian revolution.
Now, there are several hundred people each concentrated in and around Tehran and Zahidan, primarily engaged in various businesses. A majority are still Indian citizens. They continue to maintain strong links with India, especially in matters of children’s education, marriage and property acquisition. [link]
p>Over at Ultrabrown, Manish does a better job of connecting to recent events from a South Asian perspective, including this useful observation:
Mir-Hossein Mousavi is the political hero of the moment. But he’s recycled, and his reform credentials are suspect, like Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan. He served as prime minister in the ’80s, during which he was implicated in a massacre of 30,000 political opponents, supported seizing hostages from the U.S. embassy and wanted Salman Rushdie killed. [link]
but honestly, there’s still not a lot of brown in these recent events. If you’re interested, I suggest The Lede and Andrew Sullivan’s blog (The Daily Dish, but nobody calls it that) for breaking developments. Juan Cole’s blog has some good analysis, and I suggest FiveThirtyEight for a fairly geeky analysis of why the official election numbers are fairly improbable. Lastly, the best photos I’ve seen (warning, some are quite graphic) are at the Boston Globe.