Sunday, April 20, 2014

Killed by ice, saved by ice

Filed under the truth is stranger than fiction category: the only men who escaped the (ice) cannon balls of the avalanche were under protection of a big wall of ice.

This is a sensitive issue, but while Himalayas may earn lot of foreign exchange for Nepal but the large-scale traffic does not do any good to either the humans or the environment and we may be looking at long term disasters (aided by the mad plan to put ladders on mountains to make climbing easier). And now 13 Sherpas are dead due to an avalanche (and they will not be the last to be killed on those mountains).



Photos: Exploring Mount Everest

Boko Haram "not unreasonable"

Nigeria may be winning on the economy (rated #1 in Africa ahead of SAfrica) but it is surely losing the hearts and minds of its own citizens. (Step 1) The Boko Haram terrorists overpower special security guards and kidnap 129 girls from a boarding school (presumably imparting western education which BH hates). (Step 2) The govt is unable to do anything about it except make a piss poor announcement that most girls have escaped. (Step 3) Some 14 lucky girls do manage to escape, 115 more are still trapped in the forest. (Step 4) The terrified, poor (in all sense of the term) parents are now scouring the forests and have contracted the services of a vigilante group.

If all this does not suggest end of times, what does? Where is the outrage?? Apparently according to the (white) liberals (of the Guardian) however the outrage should be directed at the Nigerian state for not having spread the (oil) wealth around (which is fine in our opinion) and Boko Harams' approach "makes sense" and the goal of enforcing Sharia is "not an unreasonable position."

It is beyond us to suggest a particular therapy for this condition (liberalitis) but we humbly suggest that Simon Allison talks to the dad who is on record saying that he is willing to die so that his daughter may live. It may help focus the mind.



World of riches awaits (perfect SAT score)

He is a just a kid filled with dreams, but for now it is closer to reality with admissions to Stanford and Harvard. Another Indian who will do very well for himself in the USA (hopefully morning shows what the day will be).

However it will be great if he can come back and give something back to his impoverished nation. That "something" need not be idle money, but ideas about how to create jobs (he wants to be an entrepreneur), and develop algorithms that would help cut down waste and remove the stain of corruption from our daily lives (his preferred majors are maths and computer science).

Congratulations to Arunavha (and his family for support).
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A 19-year-old boy from the city has received admission offers from seven top US varsities, most of them Ivy League, after achieving a perfect score in SAT, the standardized examination for admission to American colleges....Arunavha Chanda had applied to eight US universities and got through seven — Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Duke, Cornelle, Georgia Institute of Technology and Dartmouth College. He has got prestigious scholarships from Columbia and Duke and financial aid from the rest as they do not offer scholarships at under-graduate level.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"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 he faces (but refuses to acknowledge) is that 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 by 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 (famous Tamil author and Modi supporter) may have been made in anger/haste, but the logic of the social justice movement is relentless (see below 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 who 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 fellow travellers 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 (includes journalists and publishers, writers and readers) must believe that (bad, even evil) speech must be countered by (better) 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 face 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 to co-exist peacfully. 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- ideological poisons once injected into the system will not automatically drain away (due to vested interests on both sides).

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) most 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.
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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.