Wednesday, October 1, 2014

255, 261, 264, 350, 381

Five Indians in the Forbes Top-400 list. In one way it is nice, the percentage of  the ultimate high earners is in line with the expat Indian community strength in the USA. However there is no one in the top 100 (also top 200). It is unlikely that these barriers will be breached in the near future, instead we may hope for some additional entrants at the end of the line.

As expected Bharat Desai, John Kapoor, Ramesh Wadhwani, Ram Shriram, and Vinod Khosla have either technology backgrounds or play in technology. Specifically, Desai (IIT Bombay), Wadhwani (IIT Bombay) and Khosla (IIT Kharagpur) are Indian Institute of Technology graduates and are committed to improve those institutions and create entrepreneurs (not just technology officers).
.........
 ....
The Indian Institute of Technology (Bombay) in Powai (Mumbai) received quite a windfall recently when billionaire alumnus Bharat Desai, chairman of US-based company Syntel, donated $1 million to his alma mater. The money will go toward starting a robust entrepreneurship centre so that many more technicians come out as entrepreneurs rather than just as degree-holders.
......

22 ways to say "Kem Cho Mr PM"

Indians are known the world over for their lack of unity (this is only to be expected, a billion people marching in lock-step is possible only in Communist China, and even there we have our doubts). No one except the stoutest patriot believes in that hoary school-yard slogan "unity in diversity."
........
....
That said Indians are united about the need for diversity (and benefit of local control). This is simply a matter of accepting reality. In a country when there are so many languages, religions, cultures there is not much you can do to privilege any one "thing" over another (you can try and fail).   

In general, where there has been sustained complaints of "imposition" (one community over another), we have followed the example set by our (ex) British masters and granted partition. On November 1, 1966, there was a splitting of the pre-existing Punjabi Suba into majority Punjabi speaking (and Sikh by religion) Punjab, and Hindi speaking (Hindu) Haryana, and also Hindi/Pahari speaking (Hindu) Himachal Pradesh (25 January, 1971). The same policy was followed for Kerala (1956), Maharashtra (1960) and Nagaland (1963) and others.

In November 2000, Jharkhand was split from Bihar (and Chattisgarh from Madhya Pradesh) with an emphasis on (exclusive) tribal identities. We just experienced (2nd June, 2014) a bitter, yet mostly peaceful partition between Telugu speaking people in Telangana and Andhra. And in the future there may be a Gorkhaland for Nepalis who propose to be free of Bengali domination.

Even at the intra-state level, a new, muslim majority Malappuram district was created on 16 June 1969 (by the secular, communist government of EMS Namboodiripad) by segregating taluks of the erstwhile Kozhikode and Palakkad districts.

Thus when President Obama said: (Tame) Kem Cho (?) Mr Prime Minister we were quietly happy. There is no country on which has such diversity to the point that the Constitution notes 22 scheduled languages. Even that list ignores tens of millions of non-Hindi speaking people in the "Hindi" belt - Maithili from North Bihar is the sole exception - and the Tulu speaking community in (Mangalore) the south.
......

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An X-Y feminist

....Kale sends around 2,000 kits each month - containing one mifepristone and four misoprostol tablets - to women who live in nations where abortion is either banned or restricted.....These are two of the 1,500 compounds that Kale sells, generating an annual revenue of $4.5 million - but no profit with an option for patients to donate 90 euros....And the need is enormous. Nearly 40 percent of the world's population lives in nations where abortion is banned or restricted making it a major health concern for women....
....
Can men be feminists? While the long form answer can get complicated the short form is simple enough. The answer is yes, if men are interested in complete equality between men and women. Setting reproduction aside, a woman should have the same rights (and responsibilities) as a man in all other functions and aspirations (yes we know that there are other genders out there, equality for them as well).

Then again if people feel that as per this definition humanism = feminism (and we agree) then it may be preferable to call ourselves (flawed) humanists.

How about reproduction and the specific question related to the medical termination of pregnancy (MTP aka abortion)? Again the long form answer is complicated (see below) but the short answer is that the final call is wholly the woman's (to pull the trigger or not).
.....

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lions and (are) Christians

....USCIRF @USCIRF Hindu Nationalist Group Seeking to Cleanse Christian Presence From #India Is Not Unlike ISIS, Watchdog Group Warns......David B. Cohen @DavidBCohen1 "Watchdog" group likens BJP to ISIS, proving they've no moral compass. Moral equivalence is not moral, nor is @USCIRF......
....
The argument continues about the curious case that was the 2005 US VISA ban imposed on Narendra Modi as directed by the US Commission on Internal Religious Freedom (USCIRF, see tweet above). The ban was quite unique in its application (apart from Nelson Mandela* back in the day and more recently Prabowo Subianto of Indonesia, see link below for details). There have been (naturally) speculations as to how it came about, and what was the specific role of (american, expat) evangelical Christians 

Interestingly enough, American colonial policy makers have chosen to segregate India (under supervision of the US Pacific Command- PACOM) and Pakistan (US Central Command- CENTCOM). Why is that? Well, we think we know.   

The desired impact (of the ban) was to make Modi unacceptable to (and unelectable by) Indians. But that was not how the cookie crumbled. If left alone it was quite likely that Modi would have faded away, similar to how BJP lost in Uttar Pradesh under the pincer attack of Mulayam Yadav and Mayawati. But the humiliation imposed from outside led his own people to see him as a victim. It was Gujarati asmita that helped deliver three in a row victories to the state-house.
....

Why democracy?

....PIO (Person of Indian Origin)...will get lifelong visas...thousands of cheering Indians at Madison Square...."Happy?" he asked...chants of "Modi, Modi"....."There is even more to come," he said.... 
....
People often ask: what is the point of democracy? It is simple really, it confers legitimacy on the rulers as no other system would. Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi is Prime Minister for all of India (even if many Indians did not vote for him, they accept the system which elected him).

This is why as many as 50 senators and congressmen (names?) greeted Modi in the "Garden" on a Sabbath Sunday, while just one year ago he was not even allowed to set foot on American soil.

People will (rightly) complain that democracy is helping legitimize majoritarian rule (if not legitimizing crimes committed in their name). The answer is however not to abandon democracy but to fight for a country with better protection for minorities. In other words India needs to transition from an illiberal democracy to a liberal one. That is a work in progress, and it is true even for ancient regimes (for example, see Ferguson, Missouri, where a police officer was shot on Saturday night...a fallout over the race riots earlier).
......