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MBA 2018 - Probable Written Ability Test (WAT) topics - Part I
Topic 1: Art interprets History, the dangerous Concoction. Padmaavat as a case.
What is this?
Padmaavat (formerly titled Padmavati), is an Indian epic period drama film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Deepika Padukone stars as Rani Padmavati, alongside Shahid Kapoor as Maharawal Ratan Singh, and Ranveer Singh as Sultan Alauddin Khilji. The movie is on the story of Padmavati, a Rajput queen, who committed jauhar (self-immolation) to protect herself from Khilji.
Historical Fact or Art?
Padmavat (or Padmawat) is an epic poem written in 1540 by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi, who wrote it in the Hindustani language of Awadhi, and originally in the Persian Nastaʿlīq script. It is the oldest extant text among the important works in Awadhi. A famous piece of Sufi literature from the period, it relates an allegorical fictional story about the Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khalji's desire for the titular Padmavati, the Queen of Chittor. Alauddin Khalji and Padmavati's husband Ratan Sen are historical figures, whereas Padmavati is a fictional character.
There were allegations from groups such as the Shri Rajput Karni Sena, a Rajput caste organisation, claiming that the film depicts factual inaccuracies, portraying the Rajput queen Padmavati in a bad light. Muslim leaders protested against the alleged misrepresentation of Ala-ud-din Khilji. Yunus Chopdar, the Rajasthan Madarsa Board member and president of the Rajasthan Muslims Parishad, said the film puts Muslims in negative light and should be banned.
The Historians' take:
Two of the four historians that Shree Rajput Karni Sena had named in a six-member panel gave a green signal to the controversial film after watching it. They claimed the movie did not hurt the sentiments of any community. Historians R S Khangarot and B L Gupta saw the movie at the ashram of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. They were specially invited by him to watch Padmaavat as an attempt to resolve the row over the film.
"Historically, the film is zero... I don't think the movie will hurt any section of society. The film has nothing to do with history. We both arrived at the same conclusion," Prof Khangarot said.
The moot of the debate:
Cherry-picking from mythology and history to suit a narrative is downright dangerous as it blurs a crucial line. Even critics appear to forget that Padmaavat claims to be just a portrayal of the poem, not history. Hence they dispute, say, the unidimensional depiction of Khilji as an unscrupulous, bloodthirsty barbarian with homilies about his administrative reforms and his routing of the marauding Mongols. The poem does not bother with it, so why should the movie?
Topic 2: #MeToo - Witch Hunt or Darkest secret of gender inequality, animal instinct and savagery?
What is this?
"Me Too" (or "#MeToo", with local alternatives in other languages) spread virally in October 2017 as a two-word hashtag used on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. It followed soon after the public revelations of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
The phrase, long used by social activist Tarana Burke to help survivors realize they are not alone, was popularized by actress Alyssa Milano when she encouraged women to tweet it to "give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem." Since then, the phrase has been posted online millions of times, often with an accompanying personal story of sexual harassment or assault. The response on Twitter included high-profile posts from several celebrities, and many stories of sexual violence were shared, including from Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence, Terry Crews, Reese Witherspoon, Rosario Dawson, Viola Davis, Anna Paquin, Lady Gaga, Sheryl Crow, Björk, Sarah Hyland, Molly Ringwald, Uma Thurman, McKayla Maroney, Ellen DeGeneres and Simone Biles.
What is next?
Many are asking, now what? The next stage is to bring about awareness, raise funds and bring legal justice for victims – we can fundamentally change the way we deal with discrimination in our culture. At least for a few months, we have seen the domino effect where powerful men are now vulnerable.
Brave women came forward, and gave space and confidence for other women to do the same. Their stories won’t guarantee justice – after all, so far in the #MeToo campaign, no alleged perpetrator has faced criminal charges. But the role of social media, crowdfunding and other digital interfaces has created solidarity and helped tip the balance back to women. It also gives them hope, and for survivors, that is incredibly powerful.
The law has an important role to play. First, we need to educate women about their rights. Second, we can help enforce those rights – which can be complex and expensive in practice. Third, and perhaps most importantly, we can protect women who speak out about unacceptable, discriminatory conduct that may not clear the bar of illegality by making sure that they can’t be silenced by powerful men and organisations.
Feminism can be part of the solution. Women become more powerful when they support one another – as Ms Burke and Ms Milano have stood together in demanding better for women everywhere, urging that #MeToo becomes #HerToo. It is what Latina farmworkers demonstrated in writing a joint letter to the Hollywood figures who have come forward, describing their “common experience of being preyed upon by individuals who have the power to ... threaten our economic, physical and emotional.
The #MeToo campaign has proved powerful. But it cannot solve all the problems it raises; it will solve even fewer for some women; and some aspects of it bring problems of their own. It was only ever a beginning. The work of effecting real, widespread and lasting change will be long, slow, unglamorous and exhausting. It will be not just about raising awareness but about improving law and policy, and bolstering women’s economic status. It will depend on measures such as a new international standard on violence and harassment in the world of work, currently under discussion by the UN’s International Labour Organization. Its best hope of success rests on its ability to address the needs of all women.
Topic 3: Nationalism over Globalisation - Solution? or Machismo?
America First for President Trump:
"America is open for business and we are competitive once again,” Trump tells global audience at the World Economic Forum. “I’m here to deliver a simple message. There has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest, and to grow in the United States. America is open for business and we are competitive once again.”
President Trump has targeted:
- Chinese Imports and Investment
- Solar Products
- Washing Machines
- Steel and Aluminium
President Trump faced with a paradox:
Trump’s hope for a deluge of foreign capital directly contradicts his dream of shrinking the US trade deficit. This muddled agenda betrays the Trump administration’s basic misunderstanding of how trade works—ignorance that could wind up hurting American workers.
The core of the Trump administration’s confusion relates to the relationship between flows of trade and capital (i.e. investment), as Michael Pettis, a finance professor at Peking University, argues in Bloomberg. A country’s trade and capital accounts always balance each other out. Trade surpluses are matched by capital-account deficits. To think about it slightly differently, when a country consumes more stuff than it produces, it obviously must be buying those extra goods and services from other countries. To pay for those net imports, it has to borrow from abroad, since its income is limited to what it earns from its production.
So when a country imports more goods and services than it exports, it’s also automatically true that the inflow of capital from abroad exceeds that country’s investment in other countries. The US has a trade deficit. Conversely, China, Germany, and other countries running chronic trade surpluses are sending more investment overseas than they’re bringing in. This is why Trump can’t have a smaller trade deficit and more foreign investment: Greater capital inflows to the US imply that America must also run a bigger trade deficit. It’s unavoidable.
In a perfectly open system, no country would run a trade surplus or deficit for more than a few years, since prices would ultimately adjust, restoring balance. But that’s obviously not how things currently work. And since on a global scale, these flows all balance out, changes in one country’s trade and capital flows necessarily influence those of other countries.
Is Protectionism the solution?
The book The Great Rebalancing: Trade, Conflict, and the Perilous Road Ahead for the World Economy explains that while protectionist measures used to successfully shrink a country’s deficit, for the last five decades, it’s been the other way around. A tidal bore of global financial flows have been driving countries’ trade imbalances. This is particularly true for the safe haven capital of the global economy, the US, which is forced to sop up around half of all the other countries’ excess capital via foreign investments.
Since Trump’s tariffs hit China hardest, they could stoke greater economic uncertainty there, prompting Chinese capital flight to the US. The expectation that protectionism will lead to heartier American growth—boosted by Trump’s massive corporate tax cut—might also draw more investment into the US.