Saturday, April 19, 2014

"your endorsement of Modi ...lose faith in humanity"

S Anand is a ferocious Indian super-caste liberal, his mission is to fight on behalf of all the down-trodden against the (as he sees it) upper-caste dominated Indian society.

The almost existential problem that he faces (but refuses to acknowledge) is the down-trodden may identify with a humble chai-wala Shudra (who is also the face of Hindutva). Indeed Modi has strongly campaigned in Bihar and in many other places as a leader of the OBCs and by necessity (and also nature) he has had to clear out the super-caste dominated top order of the BJP.

In another life (Bollywood movie script that will never be written) Anand and Modi would have been brother revolutionaries engaged in up-ending the social order in their own way. But here they are, representing the magnetic north and south poles of an India at cross-roads.

Anand now`admits that his decision to censor (he does not like the word, naturally) Joe D'Cruz may have been made in anger/haste, but the logic of the social justice movement is relentless (as seen by the comments of feminist translator V Geetha), any friend of Modi must be denounced as an enemy.

Anand (in our humble opinion) is too blinded by the BJP packaging. He is a smart enough guy to be able to visualize an India in which Shudras are the kings, and they are quite capable of keeping Dalits and Muslims under-foot. The upper-caste vs. the rest was a clear cut case, it is not clear how Anand and his followers will handle the rise of the dominant middle-castes (who want to terminate the Dalit Atrocities Act officially and prevent cross-caste marriage socially). Will they even bother to listen to an upper-caste guy like him?
 
Finally we feel compelled to repeat our statement (since we really love Americanisms), censoring speech is always wrong. All free speech fundamentalists (which include journalists and publishers, writers and readers) must believe that wrong speech (in their opinion) must be countered by (vociferous) speech.


Did ISI order the hit on Hamid Mir?

Whenever the Taliban takes credit for carrying out a spectacular attack it is time to remember the mysterious workings of the world's best secret service.  
...
Amir Mir (Hamid Mir's brother) does not mince his words. These folks have nothing to lose and nowhere to hide.
Amir Mir, who is also a journalist told Geo TV that Hamid had told him two weeks back that if anything happens to him then "elements in the ISI and its chief Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam should be blamed".

.....
And what has upset the dons so much that led to this murderous assault?
He (Amir Mir) said Hamid told him the intelligence agencies were upset with him for the coverage of the Balochistan issue, Musharraf trial and the political interference by security establishment.
 

A sad song which has been played numerous times (see below). Hamid Mir is reportedly out of danger but the message that was delivered is loud and clear (again). The only peace that is acceptable to the thugs is the peace of the grave.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Polarization and (slow) poisoning

Politicians choose to polarize communities because the votes will be secure when voters are insecure. The secular parties have preyed on the fears of the minority community, the opportunity votes lie with the BJP by preying on the fears of the majority community. When both sides do it (as is the case in India), the phenomenon is called match fixing. Entertainment for the elite while the common people have to suffer the consequences.

Basharat Peer makes many excellent points about the experience of muslims under Modi-raj- literally slow poisoning them with pollution- but he also does not suggest a way forward for South Asian communities. A world renowned (Kashmiri) man of letters is unable to spare a few words about his fellow Kashmiri Pandits who have been permanently expelled from the valley. They too have their own Citizen Nagars where poisons are choking off the lives of small children. Peer is (justifiably) focused on the slums of Juhapura but prefers to avoid references to the ones closer to home in Jammu. Why not denounce the 2-nation theory as well- your villains are our heroes and vice versa- poisons once injected into the system will not automatically drain away.

Someone wise said on these pages that today in India you can get killed for being a muslim, while in Pakistan you can get killed for being a different type of muslim. Then again, when it comes to discussing the state of Hindus in Pakistan and in Bangladesh (and in Sri Lanka) people prefer to avert their gaze (Hindus foremost amongst them). 

If we want to be inclusive and desire peaceful co-existence (and there is really no other rational path) we should call out all the bandits regardless of  their badge. And call for secularism in the public square. And.. the list is endless.


Indian > Chinese > Koreans

As per the Department of Homeland Security (USA) the 2011-2012 figures for resident (more than 183 days in an year) non-immigrants (excludes green card holders) rank-wise below.

Sifting through the data there appear to be three distinct categories: 
(A) Temps from Mexico, India, Canada, UK...all anglophone countries except for Mexico;
(B) Saudi, China, Korea...only here for education, will return home to take advantage of excellent job prospects;
(C) Germany, France...exchange scholars coming to visit and experience America.

We are not sure if this observation is tied up in any manner with the above data, but Category (A) people (and their home nations) tend to be pro-America, the others, not so much.

Affidavit written in blood

"I did not kill Arnav. I did not murder Arnav. I did not drown or smother Arnav. I did not poison Arnav. I did not fail to render aid to Arnav at any time ... Most importantly, I loved Arnav with all of my heart and never would hurt him in any way, and I miss him very much."

We are not medical experts by any means of the imagination but to sit at home with a dead baby covered in ice for four days is not indicative of a normal state of mind. 

The poor husband will be having nightmares for the rest of his life- the truth may never be known- and this being Texas the lady is likely to face the hangman before soon.
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An Indian-American woman in north Texas, accused of killing her son and leaving his body in the bathtub for four days, claims she did so in accordance with her Hindu beliefs.

Dr Mattu (hero) vs. NHS (bully)

In India when a small fry dares to raise his voice against the big fish then it is customary for the Davids  to file a number of false cases. The poor guy will never see life outside prison again.  

It is shocking to see that the West has developed a taste for this foul play (or perhaps we only learned it from them?) and it is a relief to know that the still robust UK justice system was able to rescue an Indian whistle-blower from the depths of (job-less) hell.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK is highly reliant on doctors and nurses from South Asia (and the other ex-colonies), this case shows how brown folks now possess the requisite confidence to rise against an unjust system (but also sometimes to commit injustices as well). 

Ultimately however the ruling(s) taken all together (see below) seem to us to be a royal mess. The hospital trust was not responsible for over-crowding. However the whistle-blower was credited for bringing media publicity to the overcrowding problem. So did the patients die from negligence or not? It seems no one is interested in probing that question. Case dismissed for good (not good).


Thursday, April 17, 2014

(God like) humans replace (Toyota) robots

It is a desperate last moment fight against the inevitable but one has to give credit to the Japanese for laying down the gauntlet. More power to Mitusuru-san and his merry band of mechanics masters at Toyota.
......
Inside Toyota Motor Corp.’s oldest plant, there’s a corner where humans have taken over from robots in thwacking glowing lumps of metal into crankshafts. This is Mitsuru Kawai’s vision of the future.

“When I was a novice, experienced masters used to be called gods, and they could make anything.”

Kargil War: mother of GPS

Necessity as they say, is the mother of invention.

It is a popular staple in the Guardian (and elsewhere in the lefty press) that India cant afford to feed its children, yet boasts of a space (and other high budget) programs. It is tricky question that merits a multi-point response.



We are on-record being ambivalent about defense purchases (and the fact that India is the largest arms purchaser in the world). India spends way too much (to protect against Pakistan) and way too little (to counter China). When push comes to shove, even miniscule Maldives manages to shove India away. The military seems to have its most useful public face while helping out in natural disasters. Why not then have a self-defense force plus nuclear weapons to help secure the borders?

As far as the space program is concerned the utility is without question. It is a profit making program and it gives us access to space in a way even our friendly friends would not provide to us. The striving for self-sufficiency (a long time goal of people across the ideological spectrum) can be seen to be a fetish (and a hang-over in response to our colonial past) but in this case it is fully warranted.

Tech-savvy Santa(s) bearing rich gifts (votes)

This is India after all...the wonder-land of the IT Parks...what else can one expect??
We now know why so many information-gurus have committed their precious time for this election. Their impeccable qualifications and sense of public service aside, it was also in the national interest to make sure that the Indian National Congress is pre-programmed to win.

Hats off to those (poor, illiterate, low-information) fly-over-coastal voters who noticed that their rights as citizens have been infringed and found the courage to protest. Bravo!!!

Filed in the bitter-sweet news-bin for the intellectual class and the international press
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Sindhudurg (Maharashtra), April 17 (IANS) A malfunctioning electronic voting machine (EVM) reportedly "transferred" all votes cast to the Congress candidate in Sindhudurg district here, in the second incident of its kind Thursday.
 

Jamia Hafsa (Lal Masjid) builds a new shrine

We all need heroes...even if they are shipped in from foreign shores. 
Also it is an incontrovertible fact that one man's terrorist is another (wo)man's freedom fighter. 

Finally when a legend is born, it is not possible to kill it by getting rid of a mere man, that golden voice will continue to speak (and command) from beyond the grave and it will be resounding deep in our (faithful) hearts.


Jamia Hafsa, a religious school for women in the Pakistani capital Islamabad connected to the notorious Lal Masjid has renamed its library in honour of slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"Dad, don't worry. I've got a life vest on..."

Even though it is really morbid, we have to admit that we laughed at that one. The fibs that our children tell us, in this case so that poor dad does not get to know how terrified his daughter actually is, texting while drowning in a dark boat, with mindless chaos all around you, and the bitter cold ocean as your last memories on earth.  

Of course the subterfuge is of no use, we (as parents) would already be dead with worry and frozen with fear... and we would know that the kids are lying...and we will be forever grateful for those last words (texts).

The night-flares lighting up the sinking ship will remain one of the most beautiful/sad scenes that we will experience (even if vicariously) over our lifetime.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

17/7 Rajputs for 24/7 defense (against China)

The 17/7 Rajput regiment is in charge of guarding the North-Eastern (India) borders aka "undisclosed high-altitude location under Eastern Command"

Most of us are not really familiar with the (Indian) military and its ways. For example, is a Rajput regiment composed of only Rajputs (khatris)? Look deep and ye shall find. 

The "barhe chalo" regiment was raised during the WWII by Field Marshall Cariappa and fought in the North-Eastern Frontier (Kohima, Nagaland on the Indo-Burma border) against the mighty battalions of the Japanese Imperial Army. They will now be prepared to defend the north-east frontier once more, this time against the mighty battalions of the People's Liberation Army.
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"Among all battalions of the Rajput Regiment, 17 Rajput has a unique place in present day history of the Indian Army. It was raised during the period of Quit India Movement in 1942. It was also among 10 other Rajput Battalions that were raised following outbreak of World War-II from 1940 to 1943."

283 children lost at sea (South Korea)

Updated missing count: 287. This is horrible!!! SoKo is (almost) a developed country. Disasters of this magnitude are expected only when Rohingyas escape on leaky katamarans to Malaysia.

It is an unimaginable loss for the parents whose children were out on a pleasure trip. Hopefully more people will be rescued, however chances are much reduced after a few hours (water temp is only 12C).
....
A ferry carrying 462 people, mostly high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea's southern coast on Wednesday, leaving more than 280 people missing despite a frantic, hours-long rescue by dozens of ships and helicopters. At least four people were confirmed dead and 55 injured.

The high number of people unaccounted for — likely trapped in the ship or floating in the ocean — raised fears that the death toll could rise drastically, making it one of South Korea's biggest ferry disasters since 1993, when 292 people died.


The decline and fall of Islamic science

More accurately, science as practiced by people who happened to be muslims. The conventional wisdom that (conservative elements in) Islam was the sole cause for arresting the march of science in the Middle East may not be quite true .

....though religious extremism certainly was the reason why Abdus Salam had to leave his native land for good and whose glorious contributions to science will forever be disowned by his own (majority) countrymen.
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According to Thomson Reuters' Science Watch, the Arabian, Persian and Turkish Middle East produces only 4% of the world's scientific literature. Paltry by almost any standards, that value is even more diminutive when paired with the fact that the Middle East, at one time, led the world in science.

So what happened?