Friday, September 30, 2005

Modern Day General Dyers

Via BBC, Indian police shoot 12 protesters

Indian police say they have shot dead 12 protesters during student demonstrations in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya.

Police say they opened fire when students attacked them with stones, injuring some officers.

Are we living in the 21st century or what? Have the police not heard of non-lethal means of crowd control? Or is it that these Garo kids can be treated with utter brutality because their compatriots don't really care?

Well, we care. In our view, these modern day General Dyers in Indian police uniform should be tried for murder.

Misfired Rifles

Via Times of India, BDR blames India for Bangla serial blasts

With just a few weeks left for the SAARC summit in Dhaka, Indo-Bangladesh ties touched a new low on Thursday when Director General of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), Major General Jahangir Alam Choudhury, alleged that the August 17 multiple explosions in his country were the handiwork of "people across the border" and specifically named India.

Simply pathetic.

Friday Musings

In India, we have stuffy colleges banning red shirts and Taliban bureaucrats banning bar girls

An American judge might just have topped even these infinitely absurd Indian bans. Via KTVO, Judge bans teen from having sex!!!

Reminds us of that awesome Leonard Cohen song, Everybody Knows

Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody

Killing Babies

Via National Review Online, here is a shocking story about euthanasia for infants in Holland

The Dutch government intends to expand its current euthanasia policy, setting guidelines for when doctors may end the lives of terminally ill newborns with the parents' consent.

The change in Dutch policy is especially significant because it will provide the model for how the country treats other cases in which patients are unable to say whether they want to live or die, such as those involving the mentally retarded or elderly people who have become demented.

Under the protocol, euthanasia would be permissible when a child is terminally ill with no prospect of recovery and suffering great pain, when two sets of doctors agree the situation is hopeless and when parents give their consent.

Some time ago, in a discussion over what constitutes secular-right, we were asked our views on euthanasia.

Lets turn the question around. We unambiguously & firmly oppose killing babies. This is certainly not an idea for India. What do libertarians think?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Prakash Karat

The arch-communist Prakash Karat has forcefully denounced India's revolutionary vote on Iran. Among other inanities, he writes:

The stark truth is that India, in an unconscionable step, has ranged itself with the US and the Western powers and broken ranks with the non-aligned countries.

Unconscionable, comrade? This is a moment of great joy to most of your countrymen, tired of India hanging out with the tyrants of the 3rd world. Your hatred of Western democracies is so extreme that you are embracing the Ayatollahs of Iran who detest communists like you even worse!! It must really hurt that your fellow Indians couldn't care less about the garbage you have to offer them. Awesome.

Cinema In Baghdad

Via New York Times, Defying Terror, Filmgoers Attend a Festival in Baghdad

"We're trying to send a message to people outside Iraq that this is a real country, not just a hole for terrorists," said the festival's organizer, Nizar al-Rawi, a graphic designer who is president of the Contemporary Visual Arts Society here. "We have thousands of years of art and knowledge. We can establish social life here."

Message recieved, loud and clear. Great stuff.

PhD In Common Sense

Amit, in a thought-provoking post, worries about secular-right parties not resonating with Indians.

Today, politics throughout the country, especially in the heartland, is fought on the basis of identity, mostly caste. Ideas don't matter -- and even when they do, classical liberal ideas are deeply unintuitive. For example, if prices rise beyond what a poor man can afford, it is natural for him to believe that it is in his interest for price controls to be imposed, and for goods to be cheap enough for him to afford. When he sees the inequality in society, and rich men living in large houses with many cars, it is natural for him to believe that redistribution is just and will solve these inequalities. It is natural for him to welcome a move to give him free rice, and if he is a farmer, free electricity.

Most people are poor, of course, and ill-educated. The easy way out for politicians is to steer clear of economics, which they may not understand anyway, and stick to the things that win them votes.

At one level, this is true and daunting. We think the glass is more than half-full however.

Education, while obviously very important, is hardly a determinant for people seeing reason. Heck, even Pol Pot had emerged from Sorbonne.

This very-privileged blogger, even in his Ayn Rand spouting 20s, carried a lot of leftist baggage from all the years of Indian learning. Then, life happened and there's no cold shower more sobering than life herself. There is no way to describe the astonishment as layers upon layers of foolish thought were washed away.

Indians may not all have Ivy League credentials but they understand life. They are all micro-capitalists in their own lives -- they save, they bargain, they invest, they harvest, they buy, they sell, they barter, they protect their interests, they think about the future. This is India's vital, right-leaning, soil where the left has no business surviving. That they have is a mark of our failure -- something we must now correct. This is no time for lament, but one for fierce determination.

At B-school, we read about an economist visiting a Boston slum and asking a poor, single mom if the government should take away the riches of the more privileged and give them to her. She said no because, in her soul, she knew her son would grow up wealthy one day and she wouldn't want anybody to take away her son's hard-earned future wealth.

She hadn't been to Harvard and thank heavens for that because there she likely would have taken a tragic turn left. Instead, she'd earned her PhD in common sense from the school of life.

Why do we assume Indians aren't similarly sensible? Perhaps we haven't even tried engaging them out of our own fear of failure. We need to stop worrying about "educating" them on economics; instead, we need to start talking to them as our intellectual equals.

Idiocy Watch

Via BBC, India hit by strike over reforms

What reforms?

If our intellectually -- and yes, morally -- bankrupt left is upset over the trickle of reforms we've seen so far, they'll be positively apoplectic over the necessary torrent yet to come.

Smashing the left is, therefore, just as important for India's future as smashing our religious bigots.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Bubble In Oil

Via The Independent, Oil reserves are double previous estimates, says Saudi

Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil producer, and Exxon Mobil, the largest oil company, yesterday declared that the world had decades' worth of oil to come, in an attempt to calm fears about the record prices experienced in recent weeks.

Forming a powerful alliance, the Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi said, at an industry conference in Johannesburg, that the country would soon almost double its "proven" reserve base, while Exxon's president, Rex Tillerson, spoke of 3 trillion or more barrels of oil that are yet to be recovered

Given this, perhaps it isn't so sensible Chasing China over the bubble in oil.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Really Cool Idea

Via The Acorn, Introducing PublicGyan - The Public Knowledge Exchange

What a splendid idea! Do check it out.

Say What?

Via Drudge, Study: Widespread Belief in Creator Increases Crime, Death & Disease

Did Dr. Evil secretly author this study?!!

Law & Order, India Style

Via Times of India, Lawyers burn police booth in Agra!!


Via Drudge Report, China Wants Only 'Healthy and Civilized' News on the Web

Its dictators sure have the IQ of Mike Tyson!!

Blame Game

Via Drudge, Huge Quake Cracks Star

We await Earth's political-left pinning the blame on neo-conservatism and/or global warming, and the Sangh Parivar on pseudo-secularism!!

Fashionably Late

Via Rediff, EU threatens to label LTTE as terrorist group

Next they will threaten to label a Cobra a snake!!


Stratfor comments on India's vote:

Just when it seemed the Iranian nuclear issue was headed for another stalemate, India decided to curry favor with the United States by backing the campaign to refer the case to the U.N. Security Council. Iran responded Monday in apparent shock at this move by its longtime ally.

New Delhi did not act, however, without first giving assurances to Iran. An agreement likely was reached during a recent phone call by Singh to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, assuring him that India would not support any calls for hostile action against Tehran. Singh was extremely cautious in expressing his support for the UNSC referral by stressing that while Iran could eventually be referred to the UNSC, India supports calls for continued negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, in order to prevent a "major confrontation" from breaking out. India also shrewdly coupled its decision to back the United States with an announcement that the Indian government may "go ahead" with plans to build a $7.4 billion gas pipeline from Iran to India -- plans that are strongly opposed by Washington, since they would involve increased international investment in, rather than isolation of, Iran.

India, an aspiring hegemon, is walking a tightrope between the United States and Iran, which is, of course, nothing unusual in international relations. The coup it scored this week was in having New Delhi's stance make the world headlines -- and the fact that, when the dust settles on the Iranian nuclear issue, that much will be remembered.

Idiocy Watch

Via India Uncut, we read this Times of India story about the Government of Haryana:

No nights for girls in G'gaon BPOs

This is probably part of an extortion scheme by local politicians. Give us money or shut your business down, India be damned. Isn't this how all mafias operate the world over?

How come the so-called law which bars women from working at nights is not unconstitutional on the basis of our equal rights guarantee? Could any lawyer please explain this to us?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

What Sudan's Children See

This is a drawing by a child, witness to the conflict in Darfur. What a tragic circumstance this is for a child to grow up in? Can these children ever conquer their nightmares?

See more drawings in the exhibit Darfur Dawn: The Conflict In Darfur Through Children's Eyes

Courtesy: Human Rights Watch

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Diamond Trade

A 13 year old Indian polishes African diamonds for Western vanity.

Photo courtesy: Foreign Policy

It takes only weeks for a diamond, once uncovered in an African mine, to travel to India to be cut and polished and land in the showrooms of Paris or New York. The journey reveals some of globalization’s greatest fault lines—inequality, child labor, and outsourcing—and the people who too often fall through the cracks.

Here's the entire photo-essay.

A Sensible Vote

Via Indian Express, India votes to refer Iran’s nukes to UNSC. This is quite a revolutionary moment in our foreign policy, because we broke here from Russia (and China) -- both abstained.

We've previously supported such a vote by joining Nitin's excellent analysis.

Now that the vote is over and done, we'd like to make one observation.

There's been much fear expressed in Indian circles that if India had abstained (or even voted to deny referral), our emerging strategic partnership with America would have been derailed. We simply do not believe this.

The logic for our partnership anticipates disagreements and surely no sensible analyst has calculated that India would turn into an American lackey. Indeed, a lockstep Indian servility to America would undermine our great power status and credibility -- both key to advancing mutual interests in the new century.

India can better represent the community of global democracies in Asia (where a dictator dragon looms large) and in the developing world (where India is a credible role model) if it is seen to act as a standalone power -- with sufficient clout to part ways even with America.

Let's not ever sell India short by succumbing (Pakistan-like) to the routine rough-and-tumble of aggressive negotiation. Americans are far too smart to not negotiate this way, and to walk away from a millennial partnership over a symbolic vote that, per Stratfor, amounts to nothing more than an angry letter addressed to Iran.

In closing, now that the vote is done, we reiterate our calls that Indian-Americans Should Quit Supporting Tom Lantos and that Natwar Singh Should Resign.

Terrorism In Orissa

Via BBC comes report of yet another disgusting outrage against women, this time in Orissa.

Six women in a village in the eastern state of Orissa were dragged by their hair, beaten and paraded naked by a group of upper caste men.

They were attacked because the men in their families had refused to wash the feet of upper caste wedding guests.

There is a caste dynamic here, which the story correctly notes, but equally as important is the gender dynamic.

These incidents are happening far too frequently for comfort. Or perhaps, they are being reported more than they've been in the past. Whatever it is, we now know that India is rotting inside.

If 6 people had been lynched by those from another faith, millions of Indians would be seen protesting against the savagery. When 6 women are humiliated by those from another community, we note the outrage as a law & order matter or a sensationalist headline, then move on.

We can't move on. We can't continue having this in India and still write about our nation with words of pride. Our nation is nothing -- its name is mud -- if we cannot rise up as a people and stamp out this kind of nonsense that goes on everyday in our midst.

Too many of us, who live in big cities far-removed from these fundamental struggles, have left it to our pathetic and criminally impotent Governments to salve our surely bothered conscience on such issues. In other words, we rationalize our personal silence and inaction by hoping that Government action will bail us out. Why is this different from people with a poverty of spirit who hope that Government action will bail them out of their wretchedness?

Please, please, please let's treat this incident as if it were a terrorist attack -- which it is. Let's please make a much bigger deal of this than merely a one day story merits. Please, every blogger with conscience, call on everyone you can reach to protest in any manner possible. India must know that Indians are in anguish when other Indians are in terror. If we don't do this, who will?

zaraa is mulk ke rahabaron ko bulaao
ye kuuche ye galiyaan ye manzar dikhaao
jinhen naaz hai hind par unako laao
jinhe naaz hai hind par vo kahaan hain
kahaan hain, kahaan hain, kahaan hain?

Sahir Ludhianvi rings just as true in this context.

link courtesy: ITRANS Song Book (ISB)

Friday, September 23, 2005


The Martiniere, Lucknow
From a cigarette card published ca. 1919-1929
Courtesy: New York Public Library

Named after a Hindu icon, Lucknow is home to India's magnificent Muslim tradition. One in five Lucknowis are Muslims. Muslim women in burqas are all over town. Shia College and Hazratganj, the two Imambaras and Chattar Manzil, Ameenabad and self-flagellation on Moharram; all are integral parts of the Muslim Lucknow this blogger knows so well.

This once-youthful city -- a maximum city in its own right -- now is bent with age.

The Muslim Rifah-e-Aam club, once gracious host to Hindu wedding parties, yawns in disrepair. Chattar Manzil, where Muslim Nawabs of Awadh once frolicked, has become a sterile laboratory. Old men with white beards shuffle around defeated. Lucknowi tehzeeb has become a tacky punchline.

This is the eventual fate of even maximum cities with soul, but lacking spirit.

What Daniel Henniger writes about New Orleans is just as true for Lucknow:

Several years ago, Sir Peter Hall, the British historian of urban centers, delivered a lecture in Glasgow called "Creative Cities and Economic Development."

What, Peter Hall asked, enabled the rise of six famously potent centers of urban creativity--Athens, Florence, London, Vienna, Paris, Berlin? They "were all capitalist cities," he answered, and "they were all great trading cities."

Those cities, Mr. Hall said, became "magnets for the immigration of talent" but were also "generators of the wealth that could help employ that talent." Indeed, "most creative cities were bourgeois cities.

But most intriguingly for New Orleans' edgy reputation, Sir Peter also argues that "creative cities . . . are places of great social and intellectual turbulence; not comfortable places at all," a place "where outsiders can enter and feel a certain state of ambiguity." Then comes this proviso: Greatness can never be achieved "in societies in which all sense of order has disappeared."

The great creative cities Peter Hall described were exposed to the forces of the market in ways unthinkable today, giving them what he calls "unstable tension."

It is precisely such an unstable tension that Lucknow needs for renewal -- but, in our intellectually stagnant Hindi heartland, it shall likely never receive.

Notions On The Path To Extinction

On a dawn shuttle to Washington, we discovered this in Foreign Policy magazine. Submitted without comment.

Albert Einstein claimed he never thought of the future. “It comes soon enough,” he said. FOREIGN POLICY decided to not grant 16 leading thinkers that luxury. Instead, to mark our 35th anniversary, we asked them to speculate on the ideas, values, and institutions the world takes for granted that may disappear in the next 35 years. Their answers range from fields as diverse as morals and religion to geopolitics and technology. We may be happy to see some of these “endangered species” make an exit, but others will be mourned. All of them will leave a mark.

1. The Sanctity of Life
2. The Public Domain
3. Political Parties
4. Doctors’ Offices
5. The Euro
6. The King of England
7. Japanese Passivity
8. The War on Drugs
9. Monogamy
10. Laissez-Faire Procreation
11. Religious Hierarchy
12. Polio
13. The Chinese Communist Party
14. Sovereignty
15. Auto Emissions
16. Anonymity

Coolest Name

Rocky Mountain Institute researcher Odd-Even Bustnes!! We discovered him testifying on energy policy before the US Senate.

[His bio is third in the list].

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Indian Pharmas To Calm Indonesia

Effect Measure writes about Indonesia's panic about bird flu.

The Indonesian health authorities seem scared and close to panic, even as they reassure everyone not to panic.

CDC sent a five-person team that arrived on Sunday on a "fact finding mission" and Reuters reports that other international experts are converging on Jakarta.

"Definitely the whole international community is very much present," [WHO representative George] Petersen told Reuters in a telephone interview.The WHO was also working with the government to source new stocks of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu from India to bolster local stocks, he said."It's not very much, it's rather puny. They definitely need some more," Petersen said, adding that stocks being rushed from India were less than 1,000 doses. (Reuters)

Star Wars

Via Washington Times, U.S. deploys warfare unit to jam enemy satellites

While India is only just building its blue water naval capabilities, space is fast becoming the final frontier for strategic arm wrestling.

Incentives For The Girl Child

Via BBC, Free school for one-girl families in India

While ordinarily reluctant to endorse Government schemes, we think this is a splendid idea. If India can create progressive social change through economic incentives, there's nothing wrong with this at all.

Converting Adivasis

Gargi writes about Sangh Parivar's evangelism among Adivasis of Gujarat.

She writes:

If they really wanted to do service to the cause of Ram, then they should leave the Adivasis alone. For if they remember the Ramayan - then they should know that Ram never imposes his values on Shabri. On the contrary, he accepts her traditions without judgment. Maybe, if the Hindutvadi's read the Ramayan or the Mahabharat - they would realizee that this thing that they call Hinduismsm is not about temples and buildings and symbols. It is simply following the path of righteousness.

We agree with Gargi's reading of Hinduism. But, we must also note, if one opposes the imposition of foreign values on any community as a matter of principle, then one must apply this principle whether the evangelist identifies him/herself a Hindu, or by any other faith.

Too frequently, secular Indians are quick to condemn Hindu evangelism -- but astonishingly tend to sympathize with their peers from other faiths. This only erodes our credibility in the battle against bigotry in India.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Natwar Singh Should Resign

Unable to make tough decisions on Iran, he cowers behind the excuse of India having 150 million Muslims. As Indian Express puts it well, Wrong, Minister

He must resign for he has, in effect, argued that Indian Muslims are a liability and a shackle on Indian policy making. This is the kind of garbage we expect from the saffron-right, not from a leader of the secular Congress.

Muslim soldiers have given their lives to defend India. Natwar Singh has disgraced their sacrifice. This is a major test for Congress which, if it has any decency left, must force him to quit -- immediately.

Yash Chopra Channels Pete Townshend

Via Times of India: Who are you, asks Yash Chopra of people claiming to be descedants of Mangal Pandey

Moscow On The Yamuna II

Seriously Sandeep comprehensively lays out More Evidence on the Treachery where Indian leaders sold themselves to the communist KGB.

All we have heard from the accused so far, alas, are non-denial denials.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Indian Pharmas To Save American Lives

Via MSNBC, First generic version of AIDS drug approved

The FDA has approved the first generic versions of the AIDS medication AZT, a move that could reduce the expense for people in the United States being treated for the disease.

Now that those patents have expired, versions of drug manufactured by Roxane Laboratories of Columbus, Ohio; Ranbaxy Laboratories of Guragon, India, and Aurobindo Pharma of Hyderabad, India, can go on the market.

“These approvals will now allow those infected with HIV more access to these life-saving drugs within our country,” said Mike Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, in a statement.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Lord Of War

LORD OF WAR is the first great film of 2005.

Even this unreformed hawk felt compelled to pause and reflect on the consequence of war.

As liberals mugged by reality, we understand peace being sometimes morally inferior to even its infinitely immoral absence.

Consequently, we don't lament war nor even its horrifying outcomes as much as we do our human game -- the only game there is, alas -- where, sometimes, the logical choice is war.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Licence To Kill

We just saw a 2000 BBC documentary about how women are treated, under law, in Khalid Hasan's pathetic Pakistan.

Licence To Kill is the staggering story of a diseased society where women can be killed, under law, without any meaningful consequence. Here a young man kills his own mother, another who accepts money to absolve his brothers of cold blooded murder of his wife, and yet another prosperous pillar of society -- all evidence suggests -- is complicit in the murder of his own daughter in the supposedly secure chambers of her lawyer.

And how does the -- surely viagra challenged -- Pakistani establishment react? Read the following and judge for yourself:

There is also the case of Samia Sarwar the daughter of a wealthy businessman and Head of the Peshawar Chamber of Commerce, another who wouldn't listen. When she sought divorce from her violent husband she was gunned down in the office of her lawyer Hina Jilani. The killer was taken there by her own mother.

A resolution was tabled in Pakistan's Senate, condemning her murder, honour killings and violence against women. It failed. Last August, of the 87 Senators in the upper house of Pakistan's parliament only four voted for the motion and condemned the killing of women.

Those who voted against the resolution argue honour killings are a deterrent to sexual immorality, an effective means of social control.

And if you thought there's been any social advance in the five years since this documentary first aired, read this Reuters story from earlier this very month:

Pakistani girl, 15, flees in fear of honour killing

Fifteen. She is just fifteen and people want to kill her in the name of honour. A terrified child cowers for her life in this society -- how does one even talk about peace and Pakistan in the same sentence?

Frankly speaking, it's not clear at all why we seek peace with this state? If peace were offered on a platter, morality demands we turn away -- for what is peace worth with a state that condones such barbarity? Do we seek peace only to impotently look away from rampant state-sanctioned violence against our Pakistani sisters?

Woe unto anyone who seeks such immoral peace. Do we really want economic gain over the graves of these terrified and murdered women? Woe unto anyone who seeks such economic gain.

Moscow On The Yamuna

Via Indian Express, ‘KGB paid Congress, CPI, media’

We knew this about the CPI, long suspected this of the media, but the Prime Minister's establishment itself? If true, this represents a mind-numbing betrayal of India by the party we've generally endorsed.

We await a really good explanation.


Via Reuters, India's Advani to quit as BJP head in December

The BJP has been struggling for direction since losing national elections in May last year, seemingly unsure whether to pitch itself as a moderate force in Indian politics or pander to its Hindu nationalist supporters.

Sweetness -- the perfect antidote to a bitter Khalid Hasan column!

Khalid Hasan

Pakistani Daily Times columnist Khalid Hasan writes about India's belly landing in Congress, referring to the Tom Lantos affair.

A "responsible" country Pakistan may not be, but our foreign minister not only dresses better but is smarter than "Prince" Natwar, he writes.

Daily Times is edited by Najam Sethi, the darling of India's naive pacifist left.

Read this column and note the hatred for India dripping from every Khalid Hasan word; read this column and burn it in your memory for a day will come when he will be forced to eat his gloating words.

It's not as if Pakistan is courting war on Iran -- a fellow Muslim state who it propelled on the path of proliferation -- is it? Given this, by pure political logic, shouldn't Mr. Hasan and Pakistan be grateful that India has argued for greater dialogue over precipitous action against Iran?

But no, they wish to gloat because they represent a pathetic state spun out of control, the mention of whose name alone terrorizes decent people worldwide -- Gabbar Singh, eat your heart out! All they have is gloating over the minor cuts and bruises India deals with on its constant march forward. Oh, we cannot even begin describing our infinite contempt for their uncreating and unkempt political culture.

If this blogger's memory serves right, he can also recall a Khalid Hasan column from before the Iraq war where he referred to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in extremely ungentlemanly terms. Seems like hatred and misogyny run rampant in the Pakistani establishment.

There are lesser states around us who would love to see us down in their own slimy mire -- India has to get over trying to be nice to such states and their apologists; instead, we need to understand the enemy nature of our neighbors who only respect muscle and scorn our politeness.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Blog Mela

This week's exhaustingly rich blog mela is at India Uncut!

We are in awe of all who put these together week after week. The next mela is at Dynamic RAM.

Indian-Americans Should Quit Supporting Tom Lantos

Rediff asks So, just who is Tom Lantos?

Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley have long supported Mr. Lantos in his electoral campaigns. Given his unacceptable effort to bully India, we hope this support ends now -- and forever.

Those who care for Indo-US partnership must not contribute their hard earned Dollars to this man. Perhaps he'll find support in the Pakistani-American community of the valley!

The Lunacy Of The Far Left

George Galloway debated Christopher Hitchens this week about Iraq.

Too many on the left see Mr. Galloway as an icon in their rage over the war. In their hysterical blindness to the reality of our world, they've embraced this hypocrite demagogue as their spokesman.

Via Opinion Journal, Kimberley Strassel reports on the debate which once again highlighted the lunacy of the far left.

Mr. Hitchens asked Mr. Galloway and the crowd how it was possible for a man who in Syria had praised the Iraqi terrorists to come to New York and evoke Cindy Sheehan, whose son was murdered by said terrorists?

Good question.

Mr. Galloway's response was typical. He began by railing that "neo-con rot" had seeped into people's souls. He lamented that he had to put up with this "hypocrite Hitchens." He ranted that Mr. Hitchens was friends with people who owned "Tomahawk" missiles, thus allowing him to segue into a tirade about America's treatment of its Indians (I'm not making this up). And as if to show that there were no depths to which he would not proudly sink, Mr. Galloway finished his "answer" to Mr. Hitchens's question by announcing that the planes that brought down the World Trade Center were the direct result of "hatred created by the U.S." and by appealing to anti-Semites with a few risible remarks about Israel.

It says something about those in attendance that these Sept. 11 remarks--uttered in New York, just a scream away from Ground Zero--earned Mr. Galloway wild applause. Another crowd highlight was the response to Mr. Hitchens's opening request for a moment of silence to remember the 160 Iraqis who'd been brutally murdered in Baghdad earlier that day. One man immediately shouted "No!" as comrades began jeering and booing the journalist. America, meet your "antiwar" activists.

The Death Of Naive Environmentalism

Jim Pinkerton reports: Tony Blair pulled the plug on Kyoto at Clinton Global Initiative.

Onstage with former president Bill Clinton at a midtown Manhattan hotel ballroom, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was going to speak with "brutal honesty" about Kyoto and global warming, and he did

Looking ahead to future climate-change negotiations, Blair said of such fast-growing countries as India and China, "They're not going to start negotiating another treaty like Kyoto." India and China, of course, weren't covered by Kyoto in the first place, which was one of the fatal flaws in the treaty. But now Blair is acknowledging the obvious: that after the current Kyoto treaty -- which the US never acceded to -- expires in 2012, there's not going to be another worldwide deal like it.

So what will happen instead? Blair answered: "What countries will do is work together to develop the science and technology….There is no way that we are going to tackle this problem unless we develop the science and technology to do it." Bingo! That's what eco-realists have been saying all along, of course -- that the only feasible way to deal with the issue of greenhouse gases and global warming is through technological breakthroughs, not draconian cutbacks.

(link courtesy: National Review Online)

Defying Taboos For Empowerment

Via Indian Express, Pallavi Singh draws our attention to an innovative and important program of female empowerment.

Lessons in reproductive health have not only meant shedding the ‘taboos’ for these mostly Muslim girls from Dharavi, it has also taught them how to say ‘No’.

The targeted age group is 15-19 from the urban slums of Dharavi where most girls are condemned to an early marriage and subsequent motherhood. ‘‘FOGSI is aware of the grim reality that every 6th mother in India is an adolescent. Information alone can tackle unsafe abortions, HIV/AIDS and sexual abuse,’’ says Shah.

Handshake With Snakes

Indian express warns Caution. Danger ahead

The Indo-Pak peace process has entered a difficult zone.

Surprise, surprise!! Does this mean, Mr. erudite editor, Wagah's hot property market was lying after all?!

16 Years For What?

Via Times of India, Indians jailed for 16 yrs in Dhaka for an alleged minor offense that did not involve violence.

This is a society on a warpath against India. Jairam Ramesh, do please come to your senses and quit fawning over an enemy state.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Darkness In Suriya

Via Washington Post, David Ignatius talks about The Fear Growing in Damascus

The tourniquet that is tightening inexorably around the Assad regime is the U.N. investigation into the murder last February of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. That probe, headed by a relentless German prosecutor, Detlev Mehlis, has already turned up enough evidence to arrest four security chiefs of the old Syrian-backed regime in Beirut for possible complicity in Hariri's death. Mehlis was in Damascus this week seeking testimony from top Syrian officials.

Analysts believe that Assad canceled his New York trip for two reasons: U.S. officials couldn't guarantee his entourage immunity from arrest if Mehlis and the Lebanese government issued a warrant, and, more important, he feared the risk of turmoil in Damascus if he were to leave now.

Good stuff.

You Go, Girl!

Via Times of India, here's Anjoo's story

When Anjoo Paul (39) delivered a baby in a Nagpur hospital on September 9, her mother snapped all ties with her. Her family, neighbours, everyone she knew, spurned her. All because Anjoo had dared to become a single mother through in vitro fertilisation (IVF), delivering a 'test-tube baby'.

Very strange reaction by her kin. For what it's worth, we think she's pretty brave -- and cool.

Empires Of The Word

John Derbyshire reviews Nicholas Ostler's Empires of the Word : A Language History of the World. "A marvelous book, learned and instructive" he concludes; likely worth checking out.

Nicholas Ostler is a professional linguist and currently chairman of the Foundation for Endangered Languages. His loving fascination with languages is plain on every page of Empires of the Word, and in the many careful transcriptions — each with a brief pronunciation guide and a translation — of passages from Nahuatl, Chinese, Akkadian, and a host of other tongues. Ostler actually has a feel for languages that, he has convinced me, goes into something beyond the merely subjective. He speaks of “some of the distinctive traits of the various traditions: Arabic’s austere grandeur and egalitarianism; Chinese and Egyptian’s unshakeable self-regard; Sanskrit’s luxuriating classifications and hierarchies; Greek’s self-confident innovation leading to self-obsession and pedantry; Latin’s civic sense; Spanish rigidity, cupidity, and fidelity; French admiration for rationality; and English admiration for business acumen.”

We ... get an illuminating comparative study of two great introverted imperial systems, Egypt and China, and their languages, with the startling conclusion — the supporting argument is too complex to summarize — that “the long-term future of the Chinese language may be hanging in the balance.” On to Sanskrit, for which the author nurses a particular affection, and which he describes as “eminently learnable,” though this is not the impression one gets from glimpses of the grammar. (For example, the Sanskrit verb has a benedictive mood, used only when blessing.) Greek, says Ostler, is “an instructive example of what can happen to a prestige language when its community ceases to innovate, and the rest of the world catches up.” Celts, Romans, Germans, and Slavs in turn then march across the historico-linguistic stage, before the English, French, Dutch, and Spanish embark in leaky wooden carracks to spread their languages to the remotest regions of the earth.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

China And Uyghurs

Via National Review, Uyghur dissident Rebiya Kadeer takes apart China's tyranny and its suppression of Uyghur freedoms.

I'm sure this has been said before, but there is a distinction between terror and horror. Terror is felt when we anticipate an horrific event; horror is felt when it actually happens. I am keenly aware of this difference: I have lived with a sense of terror for the fate of Uyghurs for the past few decades; and I have watched in horror as my worst fears have come true.

I have been terrified for young Uyghur mothers who become pregnant when the Chinese government say they shouldn't; and I have been horrified when their pregnancies have been forcibly terminated. I have been terrified for the Uyghurs' ancient culture; and watched horrified as the Chinese authorities have stooped to burning Uyghur books. I have been terrified for those Uyghurs who have stood up and objected; and been horrified when they have been executed as "terrorists." And yes, I have been horrified by the treatment of my friends and family.

And what of the Chinese government? I think the Chinese government is terrified of the day when their corruption, their brutality, their wanton destruction of the environment and neglect of the physical and spiritual health of the people will no longer be tolerated. The Chinese government has every reason to be terrified -- it is a terrifying prospect for us all

Bird Flu And Al Qaeda

Via Drudge, Hong Kong hunter hot on the trail of deadly bird flu virus

Hopefully he'll do better than Pakistani intelligence supposedly hot on the trail of Al Qaeda!!

(link courtesy: Asia Times Online)

Beautiful Flowers

.. on the ashes of genocide

From World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz's speech to the UN General Assembly:

In Rwanda I met a remarkable woman whose hard work and determination symbolize the talents and dreams of millions of Africans.

Beatrice Gakuba left a comfortable life in the West to start a flower-growing business in her native Rwanda. Against enormous odds, her small farm grew, creating jobs for nearly 200 rural women. When I asked Beatrice Gakuba why she decided to take on such a daunting challenge, she replied "I came here to grow beautiful flowers on the ashes of genocide." Her biggest obstacle to creating even more jobs is not a lack of skilled workers or entrepreneurial spirit; it is a weak infrastructure that makes electricity unreliable and transportation unaffordable.

Beatrice and others like her in Africa, not their corrupt and inept governments, deserve the world's support.

Mind Bloggling

Google's brilliant new Blog Search tool!!

I Is For Infidel

Via Opinion Journal, Masood Farivar reviews Kathy Gannon's new book I Is For Infidel

Ms. Gannon is an AP correspondent.

Here is a powerful excerpt:

It was a scene straight out of a John le Carré novel, the kind of cloak-and-dagger rendezvous that CIA spooks can only fantasize about. The time: November 2004. The place: a compound deep inside the Old City of Peshawar, on Pakistan's rugged northwest frontier. The participants: Karim, a 30-something former Afghan mujahideen fighter; Mohammed Hakim, a slightly younger, bearded representative of a Taliban splinter group holding three United Nations workers hostage in Afghanistan; and Kathy Gannon, a correspondent for Associated Press.

The group, even more militant in its opposition to Mr. Karzai and his pro-Western government than erstwhile Taliban leader Mullah Omar, was divided over whether to kill the hostages. Karim claimed to sympathize with their plight and to understand that the abduction wasn't winning the Taliban any friends. Still, he said that he had little choice. It was a surreal meeting in many ways, but what made it especially remarkable to Ms. Gannon was how relaxed Hakim seemed. A well-known Taliban terrorist, he was supposedly a wanted man in Pakistan. Why did he seem so nonchalant? Soon enough the reason became clear.

Karim abruptly ended the conversation and headed out to his waiting car. Ms. Gannon caught a glimpse of the license plate--it started with the number 83. From her years of experience she had learned that, in Pakistan, such a number belongs only to plates that have been issued by the ISI, Pakistan's military intelligence service. This numeric talisman confirmed what she had long suspected: that three years after Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, had made an about-face and ditched the Taliban under U.S. pressure, his military intelligence service was still offering support to Islamist groups, including a resurgent Taliban.


The Acorn reports: Musharraf throws more mud at Mukhtaran Mai

"You must understand the environment in Pakistan," Musharraf added. "This has become a moneymaking concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped."

Hello? Does this neanderthal even know what he's saying?

Undiplomatic Act

Never thought we'd stand with BJP on something, but here it is!

Via Times of India, BJP flays PM for his comments to President Bush that he is surprised at Mr. Vajpayee's opposition to the Indo-US nuclear accord.

Whatever the nature of our internal politics, surely it has no place in a Prime Minister's discussion with a foreign leader -- the personal nature of Dr. Singh's comments is, therefore, particularly surprising.

Hopefully an apology will be conveyed and a lesson will be learnt.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Marathon Child

Via Sify, 3-yr-old boy sets eyes on Guiness as marathon runner

Via BBC, India's marathon boy, aged three

He runs seven hours at a stretch, sometimes as much as 48km (30 miles). On a daily basis. And Budhia Singh is just three and a half years old.

When Budhia's father died a year ago, his mother, who washes dishes in Bhubaneswar, capital of the eastern Indian state of Orissa, was unable to provide for her four children. She sold Budhia to a man for 800 rupees ($20).

But the young boy came to the attention of Biranchi Das, a judo coach and the secretary of the local judo association. Mr Das said he noticed Budhia's talent when scolding him for being a bully.

"Once, after he had done some mischief, I asked him to keep running till I came back," Mr Das told the BBC. "I got busy in some work. When I came back after five hours, I was stunned to find him still running."

Is it just us or is this a really disturbing story? First, the kid gets sold by his mother. Then, some guy punishes a three year old kid by asking him to, in effect, keep running for five hours.

Worst of all is this media treatment of the kid as though he is some kind of circus curiosity. Is it even healthy for three year olds to be running marathons? Does anyone even care? Where are our child protection agencies?

The Pathology Of The Powerless

This morning we saw Amit's post on Delhi's shame.

A young woman was molested, and her family beaten up, in the heart of our capital.

Later, we read this Times of India headline: Woman gangraped in running train in Bihar

Another story: Man rapes housewife in Mumbai

What's going on here? Why is our society breaking down?

As most sensible people understand, rape is not about sex; instead, it's about power. Who, then, has the need to demonstrate power regardless of consequence?

What's happening, we think, is that some Indians, men mostly, are feeling a great loss of mojo. It's a fast changing world where old equations no longer hold -- Indian men, who've traditionally made all the rules, now are caught up in transformations they can hardly understand, much less make rules about.

These men, increasingly powerless, are lashing out in the only way they know how. Regrettably, Indian women are bearing the brunt of their emasculation.

Don't misunderstand us. This is not to offer root cause rationalization for unacceptable conduct. We seek no sympathy for these people. Frankly, we believe India is not harsh at all in dealing with such men. Indeed, some of our neanderthal leaders have even tried to blame the victims of these men's malice.

What we are saying is that, if our thesis is correct, there is more transformation on the way -- hence more powerlessness and more of the contemptible lashing out we're witnessing. Morality itself is vanishing in front of our very eyes. If we do not begin addressing this now in a strategic manner, rather than merely as law & order treatment of individual incidents, we are in for a world of hurt.

That there will be powerless men is a fact of life. But surely, our society can find intelligent ways to defend itself against them. That we are failing in this is a serious problem.

One reason we have a problem is that our police system is completely broken -- criminals don't fear it, the innocent are terrified. We are not blaming the policemen & women themselves -- they do a very tough job in impossible circumstances; rather, we are infuriated with our political system that prevents the police from doing the right things.

The resolution to this is that we, the people, need to demand a great deal more investment in police -- in training, technology, incentives, morale, and values. Only then can we can make deterrent examples of the powerless evildoers among us.

Another reason for our problem is the nature of our religions and, ironically, also a loss of our faith.

Our religions are either too non-prescriptive on morality or are too prescriptive in astonishingly archaic ways.

Still, they alone can instill moral instincts in our people; our society's cynical assault on faith does not help. Many of our smartest and very eloquent writers mock faith as superstition. Faith may be superstition to some, but even they must concede it can be a very practical superstition. If our masses, many of whom are losing their moral bearing, can absorb morality via faith, why destroy this very important mechanism?

This is a very complex issue, and we don't claim to have all answers. However, this very upset blogger thinks it may just be possible that a combination of harsh deterrence and renewed social morality (likely through religion) can begin denting this really shameful problem India now faces.

Can't Leave A Good Thing Alone

Via Times of India, IIT entrance to get a new format

Monday, September 12, 2005

Rumsfeld Ducks One For Now

Recently, before Katrina, we'd boldly predicted that Rummy Is Toast

We thought President Bush would fire Donald Rumsfeld to shore up his plunging poll ratings over Iraq.

As it turns out, Katrina intervened and the President's approval rating fell to the lowest level of his presidency.

So, Rumsfeld ducked one (for now) while someone else took the fall.

Via Reuters, FEMA chief Brown resigns in wake of Katrina

Hamid Karzai

Via BBC, Karzai urges terror fight rethink

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Karzai said the US military strategy since the fall of the Taleban had not failed, in spite of the recent increase in violence.

But he warned: "We and the international community and the coalition must sit down and reconsider and rethink whether the approach to the defeat of terrorism that we have taken is the right one."

Mr Karzai then said: "I believe we have to go to the sources of it, where terrorists are trained, where terrorists are prompted up."

President Karzai denied his comment on the "sources of terrorism" was a reference to Pakistan, but his officials have said as much in the past.

Well said, Mr. President.

Acehnese Autonomy And Kashmir

An Indonesia-scholar friend hails the recently completed autonomy agreement for Aceh:

The autonomy provisions for Aceh are truly remarkable. Everything, except for defense, foreign affairs, finance and religion, will now be delegated to the regional authority under the proposed new statute for Aceh. The regional authority in Aceh will then enact a region-specific legal code. It will control Aceh's marine resources, 70% of its hydrocarbon reserves, its seaports and airport. Aceh will be able to leverage international capital bypassing Jakarta. It would enjoy a degree of fiscal and judicial decentralization. Indonesia will be legally bound to consult the Acehnese regional legislature before it enters into any international agreement that could impact on Aceh. The straits of Malacca come to mind.

I sincerely hope that the unique experiment in Aceh succeeds. I am sure that some in East Timor would look at that peace accord with interest. Aceh might offer lessons to Mindanao, North East Sri Lanka, and Pattani in southern Thailand.

In a June discussion with Gaurav Sabnis we'd strongly opposed the idea of autonomy in the Kashmiri context. See here and here. We responded on Aceh:

In our inter-connected world, where political, institutional, and economic scale are frequently key to success in the global supply chain, ethnicity-based centrifugal tendencies are increasingly counter-productive.

It's scale that creates resources to crush chaos from within -- and hold back anarchy pouring in from abroad. Absent scale, there is ethnic pride perhaps but, as Americans might say, ethnic pride and a token would get you on the subway.

As Indians, we must say clearly that such "autonomy" is hardly cause for celebration -- indeed, it is evidence of Indonesia's weakness that it conceded as much as it did. There is zero possibility of any such thing happening , ever, in any territory India controls. Aceh will, however, become one more model that Pakistan-sponsored terrorists will throw in our faces. This too we'll have to stare down.

Our friend responded:

I agree with you on the need for economies of scale in the 21 century. But, Aceh remains a part of Indonesia unlike East Timor. Many of the provisions for devolution in the Indonesian peace accord exist in the Indian constitution. While the central government in India is not legally bound to consult any of the states in the formulation of domestic policy or international treaty, it is only because the states are strongly represented in both houses of the central legislature. The Indian military is subject to the civil judiciary in each state (including Kashmir). The Indian states enjoy a degree of fiscal and judicial decentralization. They are free to promulgate their own laws in certain areas. There is no common civil code in India. And yet the Indian citizenry is a united one.

The ill fated accord on Kashmir in 1954 went further to provide for devolution. This included control over all subjects by the elected Kashmiri legislature with the exception of foreign affairs, defence, finance and communications. Kashmir, under the terms of that accord, was to have a separate prime minister and flag. However, there were insufficient legal safeguards for Ladakh and Jammu. The vale of Kashmir, after all, only accounts for 8,000 square miles out of the 35,000 square miles of Indian controlled Kashmir.

Mercifully, this accord was ill-fated!! Hopefully, its ghost will never be resurrected.


Given oil prices where they are, Iran doesn't seriously believe it faces economic sanctions.

Geopolitics is all about testing each others assumptions. America is determined to put Iran's to the test -- by demanding that IAEA (of which India is a leading member) refer Iran to the Security Council.

The Acorn has outlined perfectly how India should respond.

Update: Stratfor has weighed in on this issue with an interesting perspective.

The three-day world summit in New York slated to begin Sept. 14 will present India with a prime opportunity to seat itself at a table of global superpowers. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made it a priority for India to expand beyond its regional hegemonic status and to secure a position for itself as a major player in the global arena.

Though India appears to be on a smooth ride to an upgrade of its international status, there is a major sticking point that Singh will be forced to confront during his trip to New York: Iran.

The current political climate places India in a particularly precarious position between Iran and the United States. If forced to choose between a defense deal with the United States and defending Iran, New Delhi would be unlikely to side with Washington against Tehran. India has no interest in portraying itself as a U.S. lackey, and with the confidence that the United States views India as a long-term strategic ally, India will not risk a deterioration of relations with Iran, especially when it desperately needs the Islamic republic's energy supply. Singh will be forced to perform a careful, behind-the-scenes balancing act this week in New York to protect Tehran from U.S. action.

In reality, the United States is moderately interested in referring Iran to the UNSC. Washington does not particularly regard the United Nations as a serious body, and therefore does not regard the UNSC threat as more than public posturing. Even in the face of probable opposition from Moscow and Beijing at the UNSC, the United States would be content with issuing a U.N. resolution and watching it fail as a demonstration of the United Nations' limitations. The talk of referring Iran to the UNSC will only fuel Washington as it engages in back-channel talks with Tehran in which the real issue -- namely, the stabilization of Iraq and the containment of al Qaeda -- is discussed.

Idiocy Watch

Via BBC, Trial of poet for 'defiling idol'

The poet's idiotic remarks trumped by the state's even more idiotic response.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Poverty Of Spirit

Bloggers, and op-ed writers, have validly argued that Katrina (and before then, the Mumbai cloudburst) are clear evidence that public bureaucracies are not particularly competent in handling complex human catastrophes. Instead, what's needed is strong leadership that can cut through the weeds of red tape.

That bureaucracies are inept is hardly news; that American bureaucracy too is incompetent is also not news to those of us who've obtained visas, driver's licenses, and postage stamps here. The surprise was the grand, public stage where the emperor was stripped of his clothes.

Few have pointed out an even more profound reality that washed up with the storm surge.

75 odd years after America's Keynesian New Deal, and 25 odd after Lyndon Johnson's anti-poverty Great Society programs, America still has poverty -- poverty so extreme that people don't even have resources to escape known catastrophes on the way.

Thus, it can be safely argued, the American welfare state has come tumbling down. There are lessons here for India, where too many, naively yet aggressively, give voice to the claims of the welfare state.

Reality is, welfare states create dependency, not wealth. They sustain poverty, not eliminate it. In effect, they pay people to remain poor.

One could argue, that while wealth is created from risk taking and hard work, there are times when societal confidence is at ebb and government spending can bridge the years needed for such confidence to be restored. OK. But, this spike in government spending must be just that -- a bridge to a future where wealth creation will once again happen without artificial economic subsidies and constraints. Too frequently, alas, such bridges become permanent ends in themselves -- in effect, self-serving bridges to nowhere.

When the Great Society debate was raging in the 60s, Daniel Patrick Moynihan (an early neo-conservative and later Ambassador to India) pointed out the difference between a poverty of means and a poverty of spirit.

People can find themselves in poverty for reasons beyond their control, but as long as their spirit is not broken, they get up each morning and go out there to work harder than they did yesterday. They may be poor, but their poverty is resolvable.

Then, there are people with a poverty of spirit. They are dependent on the state for survival, and when the state fails (as it frequently does), they are left marooned. Such poverty is not resolvable.

The key is to make sure that we don't end up with poverty of the spirit. In India, many millions are poor, but they work just as hard as all of us slightly more privileged. They are heroes who build India's wealth every day with their sweat -- it must be India's objective to resolve their structural poverty.

Instead, what India has been doing since independence, alas, is creating a dependency society -- with poverty of the spirit -- where all manner of reservations and subsidies and artificial jobs guarantees ensure a perpetuation of poverty for many.

Indian economy has, thus, become a badly distorted shadow of what it could have been -- like an image in an amusement looking glass.

Lets please learn from Katrina. Lets please not create a generation of wards of our incompetent state. Lets please attack and destroy our poverty of spirit and the political ideas that give it life.

The eLance Economy

The Times of India writes about India's invisible billion-dollar economy of services sold via the internet.

Our genius friends at eLance pioneered this global phenomenon, way back in 1998, and continue leading it to this day. This, therefore, is really the story of an Indian idea propelling the world forward into globalization.

Not Fare Well But Fare Forward, Voyagers

Via BBC, Crew plans new Bronze Age journey over ocean from Oman to India -- this after their first boat sank.

New York, New York

On 9/11, New York Times carries Spalding Gray's beautiful tribute to his adopted city. He speaks for many of us immigrants in this city's unrelenting soul.

I fled New England and came to Manhattan, that island off the coast of America, where human nature was king and everyone exuded character and had big attitude. You gave me a sense of humor because you are so absurd.

Last January, this brilliant actor and monologuist vanished voluntarily in New York. His body was fished out of the East River two months later.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Dogs Of War

They will not stop barking.

Via Pakistan's Daily Times, 12 killed in Kashmir

What's a dozen Indians dead when our countrymen are busy counting capital gains in Wagah?


The following are excerpts from a New York Times editorial on The Turkish Identity:

In February, a Swiss newspaper quoted ... Orhan Pamuk, the pre-eminent Turkish novelist ... on Turkey's longstanding refusal to discuss the Armenian genocide and the deaths of some 30,000 separatist Kurds more recently. Mr. Pamuk's remarks inflamed Turkish nationalists, and he left the country. He faces the possibility of three years in jail ... charged with "public denigration" of Turkish identity.

As we noted last year, Turkey is not even close to being ready to join the European Union.

Idiocy Watch

Via Guradian, Fatwa orders Indian tennis star to cover up

Sania Mirza does need to work on her fitness, but her attire is fine & fashionable.

To the idiot neanderthals among us: you ain't her family, get over it, and leave her alone.


Our government is broken, let's work even less!!

To be serious, this story illustrates a great point. The new five-day week for Bangladeshi civil servants will apparently cut costs amid a looming economic crisis. Some private companies are refusing to follow the public sector example, saying they cannot afford it.

This stark contrast in attitudes reflects their respective productivity metrics.

Isn't this, therefore, the government's confession that it's a dead-weight cost on Bangladesh's already basket case economy?

(Link courtesy: BBC)

Didn't Know UN Did That!

Via BBC, UN torture expert in Nepal visit

Friday, September 09, 2005

Unseemly Gloating

Rediff commentator T.V.R. Shenoy credits Katrina with exposing the seamy side of the US. He writes:

The question intrigues me given the vastly different ways in which the people of Asia and those of the United States reacted in the face of immense calamity. The tsunami that struck nations on the Indian Ocean rim caused thousands of deaths but it also served in some strange way to draw people together.

The looting, arson, rape, and murder that television cameras caught in graphic detail in the devastated city of New Orleans was another story altogether. Look at Sri Lanka for instance, where the tsunami led to a (sadly brief) armistice between the Tamil Tigers and the Government of Sri Lanka so that aid could be rushed in.

Nor was there any of this criminal behavior visible when Mumbai endured the heaviest rains in over a century.

As we've noted before, there was indeed criminal activity in Tsunami ravaged areas. Further, as regards to how fellow Indians react to calamity, please refer to 1984.

It's one thing to say US authorities bungled Katrina's aftermath, it's quite another to gloat about it -- when our own emperor really has no clothes. Too much of the latter is going on, alas.

(Link courtesy: Seriously Sandeep)

The Annals Of Medicine

Via Times Online, 2 MOMS AND A DAD: Scientists to create human embryo -- with three genetic parents!

(Link courtesy: Drudge Report)

Peace And Bubbles

Via India Uncut, Real estate doesn't lie (land prices near Wagah are shooting up, likely implying peace is about to break out between Indian and Pakistan)

Via Wikipedia, a cautionary primer on Real estate bubbles

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Annals Of Medicine

Via WebMD, High Stress May Cut Breast Cancer Risk


Accepting Responsibility UN Style

Via Channel 4 News, Annan accepts responsibility for the rampant corruption in the UN-managed Iraq oil-for-food program.

How does he accept responsibility? By staying on the job!!!

This would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.

How Is This Even Possible?

Via BBC, Indian bridge collapse 'kills 33' soldiers working on it.

If the bridge was in such terrible shape as to potentially collapse, surely having 33 soldiers working on it at the same time was not very prudent.

If the bridge was in such terrible shape and no one noticed, that's equally imprudent.

Someone better be court-martialed for this appalling tragedy.

Brand Equity

Not only is our stock market soaring, so apparently is our brand equity.

General Musharraf, eat your heart out!!

(Link courtesy: Nitin)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Say What?

In Calcutta Telegraph, K.P. Nayar calls India's financial support for Katrina victims MORALLY REPUGNANT!!!

American Justice

Via New Yorker, a fascinating look at US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and his jurisprudence that looks sometimes to the Court of World Opinion in crafting weighty decisions.

This is a terrific profile because it gives one a good sense of the man and how he thinks. It also reveals the rarefied intellectual air where American justice is crafted. Very impressive and confidence inspiring.

How many of us know anything at all about our Supreme Court Justices? Who are they? How did they get there? How do they think? Why do they decide what they decide?

Aren't these much too important a set of questions to leave to a bunch of lawyers?

Sania Mirza

Via Rediff, I need to work on my fitness: Sania

To read from a T-shirt she was recently seen sporting, no sh*t!!

Up Or On

Via Economic Times, IAS, but could not become secretary? Please go

This is how it is in this blogger's profession; it's likely a good thing in the IAS too. Of course, being India, this probably implies greater scope for corruption -- when people's careers are on the line, many are vulnerable to extortion.

How Gaza Celebrates Azadi

Via Arutz Sheva, More Violence in Gaza: Arab Mob Kills Moussa Arafat

Bill E. Clinton

Via Times of India, Clinton in the city of nawabs for a banquet hosted by Mulayam Singh Yadav

Via Washington Post, Bush, Clinton Announce Katrina Relief Fund in Houston

He's being cited in distant places at almost the same time. As we've previously noted, he is Elvis!!

A New Front In Chaos?

Via Jakarta Post, Rupiah fails to gain on Bank Indonesia rate hike

Via Antara, Indonesia's US Dollar Reserves in Crisis: Analyst

Its fiscal mismanagement chickens are now coming home to roost in world's largest Muslim nation. It's a pity few are watching.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Rushdie The Clown

New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani smashes into Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown.

Mr. Rushdie's latest book, "Shalimar the Clown," aspires to turn the story of a toxic love triangle into a fable about the fate of Kashmir and the worldwide proliferation of terrorism. But this time, the author's allegory-making machinery clanks and wheezes. Although the novel is considerably more substantial than his perfunctory 2001 book, "Fury," it lacks the fecund narrative magic, ebullient language and intimate historical emotion found in "Midnight's Children" and "The Moor's Last Sigh."

Worse, "Shalimar the Clown" is hobbled by Mr. Rushdie's determination to graft huge political and cultural issues onto a flimsy soap opera plot - a narrative strategy that not only overwhelms his characters' stories but also trivializes the larger issues the author is trying to address.

A well deserved diss, dear Ms. Kakutani!!

Fortune Favors The Lucky

Not all that long ago, Indian-American Republican Bobby Jindal lost Louisiana's gubernatorial race to Kathleen Blanco.

Mr. Jindal had the support of the young New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Still, he lost.

Good thing in a way. Afterall, were he in power now, the same catastrophe would likely have befallen New Orleans -- but in place of the hapless Ms. Blanco, Mr. Jindal would be kissing a political career goodbye.

Now, he stands tall in Louisiana politics where all others (including his friend Mr. Nagin) are diminished in Katrina's aftermath.

Fortune favors the lucky, doesn't it?!

Bigotry In A Temple

What In the Name of God is this? (link courtesy: Gargi)

Monday, September 05, 2005

Rock On!

In India, we are told authorities are now suspicious of rock music.

In America, where too rock was once seen as the shadow of satan, the times they are a-changin'.

See here, an uber-conservative New York Times columnist reprising Mick Jagger's hip-shaking to describe our own low dishonest decade of confidence-shaking:

Rats on the West Side, bedbugs uptown/What a mess! This town's in tatters/I've been shattered

Rock is the language of the hopeful young contending with their frequently hopeless world. No wonder it found voice first in America -- then rippled like a tsunami surge through our bone dry unreforming cultures.

Our high priests in commanding heights may not get this, but our people do. You know why Indians loved the roguish Bill Clinton so much? He was rock n' roll in flesh, Elvis himself in the White House.

Sometimes one wonders what is the real sound of our own Indian experience? Plagiarized tunes & forced fusion don't cut it, nor do our fossil beats inherited over generations like hand-me-downs.

Not only do we not create much new culture these days, we're now seemingly not even allowed second-hand emotions from other people's song. If we were the creating kind, our hopeful young might have contended with this hopeless situation kinda' like Dylan:

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

An Indian Root-Cause Apologist

Via BBC, Indian landmine blast kills 24 paramilitary soldiers. The killers: Indian Maoists.

Has our government declared a state of emergency? Are we deploying our forces on a war footing to hunt down and destroy the leadership of this evil force that stalks our nation?

Of course not.

Junior home minister Shriprakash Jaiswal said the latest attack was "a blow to Chhattisgarh because the Maoist situation was improving when the incident happened".

Mr Jaiswal said the central government had urged states to address social and economic matters to tackle the insurgency-hit areas.

First, absent our taking the war to the killers, this situation cannot possibly improve.

Second, isn't Mr Jaiswal embracing the root-cause argument for cold-blooded murder?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Shaken Confidence

As our readers know, we are aggressively pro-American in our views. What follows then is cold analysis, not America bashing.

The New Orleans disaster is the third in a series of confidence-shaking events this millennium. The consequences are likely very significant.

Before 9/11, the world thought American intelligence was nearly omnipotent. After 9/11, this belief became untenable.

Before Iraq, the world thought American military was impossibly formidable with super-sophisticated civilian leadership. After Iraq, where brave American soldiers are somehow holding up a just war botched by their civilian leaders, this belief has become untenable.

Before Katrina, the world thought American government had near-infinite resources and infrastructure to protect and rescue its own people in trouble. After Katrina, where stranded people are starving and dying even as we write, this belief too has become untenable.

Because America is the long pole holding up our present (India-friendly) globalized world order, confidence in American leadership is a real big deal. At this dark moment, for all our admiration of America, even we are having a tough time sustaining such confidence.

No doubt, such cofidence-erosion will have significant political and geo-political consequences.


Via BBC, Japanese tourists confirmed dead in Afghanistan.

Tourists? Have we somehow missed the end to war there?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Outrageous Insensitivity

Via Reuters, World stunned as US struggles with Katrina.

What caught our eye is the following observation by a Sri Lankan idiot:

"I am absolutely disgusted. After the tsunami our people, even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others who were suffering," Sajeewa Chinthaka, 36, as he watched a cricket match in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

"Not a single tourist caught in the tsunami was mugged. Now with all this happening in the U.S. we can easily see where the civilized part of the world's population is."

Oh, yeah. Why don't you get your racist civil war under control before you go around accusing others of being less than civilized, Sajeewa.

And what about this BBC story: Criminals target tsunami victims

There are already reports of looting in many of the affected countries - with homes, shops and even dead bodies being targeted.

And in Sri Lanka, some of the disaster victims have allegedly been raped in refugee camps.

So much for civilization in Sri Lanka. How dare this fellow spout off as he did? And how dare Reuters put such garbage on its air?

India Uncivilized

Via Times of India, Four women paraded half-naked over a property dispute & police declined to register the complaint.

We've long known there are animals among us Indians but what truly infuriates is how our police acts. Are they not required by law to register complaints on such serious crimes? Who gives them the discretion to turn away? What in God's name is going on India? What good is all our progress if Indians are not safe in their own country? What a disgrace.

We hope the specific police in this case are treated as co-conspirators with the molesters they've tried to protect. Throw the bastards in prison and throw away the key.

Elysium In Hell

Via Bloomberg, New Orleans Rocked by Explosions as Chaos Spreads

For this blogger, this disaster is deeply personal. A child's poem comes to mind. It's hardly Eliot but it's surely appropriate.

Somewhere deep within the gorges of hell
At depths even ocean had never known
I noted with satisfaction
That I wasn't in despair

All alone for millennia at a stretch
In darkness even night had never known
I noted with satisfaction
That I wasn't afraid

Beaten and broken by unseen hands
In pain even death had never known
I noted with satisfaction
That I wasn't destroyed

No thoughts emerged, no ideas grew
In a void even space had never known
I noted with satisfaction
That I wasn't insane

Keep your chin and hopes up, New Orleans.

Katrina And Kuwait

Via Drudge Report, Kuwaiti official: 'The terrorist Katrina' is a soldier of Allah

Words fail us as our stunned jaw drops. What root-cause makes a Kuwaiti -- whose country America saved from Saddam's cruel clutches -- be so cold-hearted to the victims of Katrina?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Baton For God Bashing

Amit links to a devilishly well-written Guardian essay by Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne that sets out to demolish the arguments for Intelligent Design.

They close by asking: Why, finally, does it matter whether these issues are discussed in science classes?

The seductive "let's teach the controversy" language still conveys the false, and highly pernicious, idea that there really are two sides. This would distract students from the genuinely important and interesting controversies that enliven evolutionary discourse. Worse, it would hand creationism the only victory it realistically aspires to. Without needing to make a single good point in any argument, it would have won the right for a form of supernaturalism to be recognized as an authentic part of science. And that would be the end of science education in America.

This debate over whether ID should be introduced as an idea -- not in substitution of, but in very limited conjunction with evolutionary theories -- has thus become, in the hands of some arrogant scientists and atheists, a baton for God-bashing.

The authors here blithely dismiss even the possibility of God as supernaturalism, a false and highly pernicious idea. Mr. Rushdie calls God an antique idea.

If a believer of one faith were to similarly attack the different faith of another, he would be correctly branded a bigot and intolerant. Somehow, we've allowed atheists to use enormously bigoted language against the faith of virtually the entire humanity without challenge.

This, therefore, is no more a reasoned debate of ideas. In fact, the hot-under-the-collar evolutionists don't merely want to teach their theories in class (which, incidentally, we accept humbly as being the mechanisms of nature), they arrogantly want to eradicate the very notion of God from our science-based society.

If secularism was about tolerance, this is surely kryptonite for secularism.


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