Who stands and who doesn’t during the national anthem is dividing opinion in the US – but in India it’s eliciting brawls. It is compulsory that cinemas in India preface the show with an on-screen rendition of the national anthem – “Jana Gana Mana”, penned by India's first Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore – accompanied by an image of the flag. Yet those who don’t get to their feet during the 52-second tune (including, in a recent incident, one unfortunate wheelchair-bound viewer) run the risk of facing public wrath, with fights having broken out between cinemagoers. Nationalism – ironically – is turning countrymen on one another. The violence is indicative of India’s growing problem of mob rule, which is tied up with the Hindu nationalist tone that’s being cultivated by the central government.
As Spain’s constitutional crisis continues, with ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont fleeing for Brussels amid the threat of potential charges, one thing has remained relatively steady: the country’s economy. Spain’s National Statistics Institute announced this week that the country registered growth in its third quarter, with GDP expanding 0.8 per cent between July and September. Though the growth predates Catalonia’s independence referendum on 1 October, not to mention the ensuing chaos, forecasts by the European Commission continue to predict that Spain will see overall growth of 2.8 per cent this year. Meanwhile, though stocks dipped late last week, Monday saw a rebound in Spanish equities. Yet Spain shouldn’t feel too optimistic: the Catalan situation is precarious and far from resolved.
Toronto’s Queen West strip may be regularly lauded as one of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods but a recently floated development has raised concerns that the area's regeneration is going too far. A proposal to redevelop a warehouse – currently home to artist studios and other cultural ventures – has led to artists complaining that they are being priced out of yet another corner of the city. At first glance, however, the plans appear to be something new for Toronto’s ever-soaring skyline. The three towers would be capped at 12 storeys and include space for manufacturing; there would also be an incubator for makers in the city, from woodworkers to designers. Toronto is one of North America’s most rapidly developing urban centres and this latest proposal reveals both the opportunities and difficulties associated with change.
Hong Kong will be the first Asian city to host the worldwide sport and cultural event Gay Games, beating Washington and Guadalajara in Mexico in the race to fly the rainbow flag in 2022. While the bid team was in high spirits at the organiser’s gathering in Paris this week, Monocle took to the streets of Hong Kong to test the reaction in this economically liberal but socially conservative city where same-sex marriage is still not recognised. “Younger people may be more accepting but it is quite hard to change the older generation’s perceptions,” says Daniel Chan, who believes the games will be a positive step for the city. When asked about the games, most people – young and old, local and international – were generally positive. Hong Kong is known for its laissez-faire approach to most things so this initial shrug of the shoulders should be seen as a promising start five years before the first starting gun is fired.
If you’re in the diplomatic game you could do worse than a posting in Rome, where you’ll probably be put up in a palazzo fit for a pope. Monocle pays a visit to the ambassadors of Brazil and France.
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