Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vijay Seshadri wins the Pulitzer

Congratulations are in order for (another) distinguished Tam-B. 

Perhaps it would be right and proper to question him on his views of the Indian elections (if any) and how it is creating cracks in the creative community, to the point where a publishing house which owes its living to the First Amendment will black-list its own star author for the crime of holding politically incorrect opinions.

We discovered a 2005 link from Sepia Mutiny (which died 2 years ago this April) and a separate link from Amardeep Singh (one of  the mutineers). VS is referred to as a 2nd gen (1.9 gen) gent because he migrated to the USA at an early age.


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Bangalore-born Vijay Seshadri, who moved to America at the age of five in 1959, has won the 2014 Pulitzer prize for poetry for his collection of poems 3 Sections (Graywolf Press), which was described by the jury as "a compelling collection of poems that examine human consciousness, from birth to dementia, in a voice that is by turns witty and grave, compassionate and remorseless."

Dravidas united against Dalits

Joe D'Cruz is possibly the greatest living Shudra author and he has now proudly declared his love (scroll to the bottom) for the tallest Shudra leader of India: Shri Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi. 

The liberals are outraged and have promptly declared Joe to be an out-caste (untouchable).


Just like the historic divisions between Shias and Sunnis will not remain buried under anti-idolatry passions (non-Sunni muslims may even vote for the BJP as a protest vote against Sunni-led acts of discrimination), similarly the divisions between the Middle Castes (Shudras) and Lower Castes (Dalits) will also sharpen as both communities come out of the shadow of the upper castes and take their rightful place under the sun.  

In that sense the General Elections 2014 will be a reality show that will show-case the puzzle that is Indian society and how it re-arranges itself along and across caste lines. The exercise (and the execution) is nothing but fascinating to observe at a close distance and in real time, and is also the closest that India can get to a social (often violent but at low level) revolution without completely breaking up into so many Pakistans.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Heart-bleed cyclone devastates Mums (and babies)

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Avoid the Internet if you can. Keep changing your passwords on a daily basis. Be prepared for the worst.
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British parenting website Mumsnet is the latest organization to have been hacked due to the "Heartbleed" bug, founder Justine Roberts revealed on Monday.


NDTV projects clear majority for NDA!!!

The Mod-memtum is gaining speed if opinion polls are anything to go by, and now we have a prediction for majority, as the alliances have been firmed up. We remain unconvinced (200-230 is our estimate).

We do have one wish- whatever govt formation takes place, Mamata Banerjee must not be part of it (Trinamool is predicted  to be the second largest party). She needs to learn how to govern responsibly (without taking recourse to blackmail) first.
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For the first time in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, a poll on Monday predicted a clear majority for any pre-poll alliance with NDTV projecting that NDA would get 275 seats in the 543-member House. This is 16 seats more than the poll had predicted last month.
 

BJP on its own would win 226 seats — the highest tally ever for the party and the best by any party since 1991, the poll done by Hansa Research estimated. UPA would win just 111 seats, with Congress sinking to its lowest-ever tally of 92 seats, it said.
 


$70 Bil (from coolies) for Motherland

Kaushik Basu (Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank) is mighty pleased that India tops the global remittances list. It is remarkable that this $70 Bil grant exceeds India's software exports figure ($65 Bil).

It is indeed the single best possible anti-dote to poverty that our socialist rulers can envisage. Why not create better opportunities for these folks at home who are essentially slaves abroad? That is a bridge too far for our visionaries.

"Billions from Coolies" is a life-line for other SAsian countries as well (Pak #7, Bangla #8 on the list). 

What appears to be a bit sinister is that Bangladesh's receipts declined year on year. It is possible that the lovely GCC nations are punishing Bangla via excessive deportations etc. in response to Awami League's war against the Jamaatis. Since the strangulation of BNP/Jamaat is probably supported (instigated) by India, the least India can do is to try and make up for this loss of "revenue."

Sikhs (15th Ludhiana infantry) save Sahibs

In all the talk we hear about how advantageous it was for India to have been a British colony (no one doubts that) we never hear how Britain benefited enormously from having an Indian colony- as it marched to victory in the World Wars on the back of Indian soldiers. There will be no reparations but even a few words of gratitude (and a few paragraphs in British history books) is still better than nothing.

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An Indian soldier, immortalized by his act of selfless heroism and valor while fighting for the British armed forces in World War I has come in for heavy praise from UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Cameron has also floated the proposal that British children must be taught "in the years to come about the role that the 1.2 million soldiers from the Indian subcontinent played in World War I".


Desert ports (Singapore dreams)

Duqm, Chabahar, Gwadar....all desert ports of tremendous significance (maybe).

Duqm, Oman may be the American firing post in response to the Chinese held Gwadar.
The advantage for the Americans is that Oman is stable while Baluchistan is not (even if a People's Liberation Army base comes up in Gwadar).  

India under Modi-raj will probably be friendly with Oman as well as Iran. The proposed access point to Afghanistan and Central Asia will be via the Chabahar port, right next to Gwadar).  


There is also a plan for a deep-sea pipeline between Iran and India. USA may not object to Indo-Iran links since there is a strong lobby which wants normalization between Tehran and Washington.
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Modi-Mao: may a thousand shakhas bloom

Forget the elections, this is the true Modi effect: 2000 shakhas in 3 months!!!

As we have noted before, polarization is not good for the country and never good for the Aam Aadmi.
The zealots who presumably suffer from Islam-envy seem all too ready to commit us to a Taliban asylum.
..... For the last three months, Ravi Tewari, a 22-year-old engineering student, has been waking up at 5am, putting on his white shirt and khaki shorts and rushing to a nearby park for the morning shakha of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
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His family is surprised. No one in the Tewari clan has ever been with RSS. So, the family can't quite figure what is driving Ravi to adopt this punishing morning drill.


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Losing my (muslim) religion (voting for BJP)

A very significant question and an (surprisingly to us) enlightened response from Darul Uloom Deoband.

As per Sunita Aaron there is a problem due to manipulative maulanas causing mass confusion amongst the faithful by not speaking in one voice (surely an impossible task).

Reading the report between the lines and it is clear that the main cause for alarm is the wide-as-Ganga division between Shias and Sunnis. In places like Varanasi, the BJP (and specifically Modi) is expected to significantly benefit from Shia votes against Sunni acts of (petty) discrimination.
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The Hindustan Times Correspondent in Lucknow Sunita Aaron says in an analysis published on Sunday that the maulanas have had their share of spreading confusion among the Muslims in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere, and this will inevitably help the BJP in the elections. Have the religious clerics bargained a quid pro quo?

Persiana

Mouth-watering Persian recipes from Sabrina Ghayour.
Following the book reviews for Persiana, we conclude that it is one of the best (primarily because we are fan of no-frills cooking).

Here is our recommendation: try and follow any one of her simple recipes, put out the candles for dinner and bring out the smiles in your significant other. Remember: everyday is Valentine's day!!!

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The walls of Sabrina Ghayour's Earl's Court flat are lined with family photographs and Persian poetry. Ghayour and her mother have lived here for 36 years and it's where she began hosting supper clubs two years ago. "I was worried my diners would think the poems were terrorist scriptures," she says. "I fretted too much about what people would think of me back then."


Problem solved: 500 rapists, 499 innocent

No mercy for rapists, constitutional protections be damned. Only the French can take such drastic action and get away with it.

You can say no to DNA testing but that would make you an automatic suspect and the police will remand you to custody where you have no choice but to submit to DNA testing!!!!

So here is the question. Even if we believe the authorities that the DNA of the innocent kids will be eventually destroyed, what happens if in real-time there is some match for some other crime. I am sure the chance to check and verify will prove to be irresistible.
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More than 500 male students and staff were to give DNA samples in an unprecedented operation launched on Monday to uncover who raped a 16-year-old girl in the toilets of a French school.


Nigeria

The merry band of brothers (Boko Haram) are spreading the seasonal cheers again (hint: mass murder is always in season). However what is alarming is that instead of focusing their energies on slaughtering children in the north they have taken the fight right into the (Christian majority) south and the capital Abuja.

Message: there will be no mercy till you folks submit to our sword.


Twin blasts on Monday at a bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital crammed with morning commuters killed 71 people and injured 124 others, police said.


"Some can resist these pressures. Others succumb"

Another week, another tell-all book. Now it is the turn of the infamous Coal allocation (aka coal-gate) scam and it is a veritable nightmare for PM Man Mohan Singh (again). The claims are familiar:  an honorable (but weak) man who has been forced to play host to a den of dishonorable people.

PC Parakh was the chief whistle-blower in this case and here is a brief profile from Wiki:
In 2004, coal secretary P C Parakh informed PM the potential fraud inherent in the discretionary allocation of the captive coal fields and objected to it in writing. Still all the 142 coal blocks were allocated without auction during the Prime Minister's tenure in the coal ministry. The Supreme Court observations on April 30 (2013) are undoubtedly harsh. No other government in India has been criticized in such words. PC Parakh who is considered the whistleblower for the coalgate said that he clearly pushed for auctions, but was overruled by the PM.

Our personal opinion is that this is a BJP driven ploy to get free election propaganda (going around the election commission rules). We agree that dirty tricks are considered fair play in love and war, but this relentless targeting of a man who has given all his blood, sweat, and tears to his nation seems quite distasteful and extremely petty.
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A new book accuses Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of being weak and unable to stamp out corruption on his watch, the second recent attack by an insider that undermines the Congress party as it seeks re-election despite trailing in opinion polls.


Burqa ban (the right path?)

Two Op Eds in CS Monitor consider the specific problem of a burqa ban (pro and con) in the USA and in the West. These laws will presumably be following in the foot-steps of the anti-sharia amendments that have been introduced in Oklahoma and elsewhere (ref. Wiki: More than two dozen U.S. states have considered measures intended to restrict judges from consulting sharia law). 

What was (mildly) interesting to us is that the pro-burqa (pro-choice) version is voiced by a (presumably) pale-face, liberal, male while the anti-burqa position is presented by a (presumably) cultural muslim female.
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Pro-burqa: Last semester I went through an experience I'd never gone through before in my teaching career: I taught a student whose face I couldn't see – except for her eyes. The reason? She was from Saudi Arabia, and she was wearing a niqab, a veil that covered her face from the bridge of the nose down.