Friday, November 21, 2003

What a Welcome!!!

Surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly:0), these comments are not reported in TV channels and mainstream media.

While the TV news shows, George Bush shaking hands with Tony Blair, visiting the Queen, waving to camera, etc., the media completely overlooked that, during this visit to UK:

1. the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, publicly called the President of USA the "greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen", on the eve of his arrival to UK.


2. the Queen's son, Prince Charles, described George W Bush as "a mad man", and "American policies in middle east complete madness", at a time when the latter is visiting UK an invited Guest of the State!!!

So, apparently, it is not just the 100,000 anti-war protestors (who marched through London last night, and are often shown as peripheral to mainstream society) who think that there is something wrong with the "powers-that-be"

Sunday, November 09, 2003

101 Ways to Get Educated

There are more than one ways in which one can get educated. This is a list which I found on the net... pretty insightful (though it does not add to 101:0):

  1. Grow enough grain for one loaf of bread -- and make and eat the loaf
  2. Answer ALL the questions of a 3 year old for a week
  3. Spend a day alone in a wild place
  4. Follow your trash to its final resting place
  5. Collect food and blankets and spend a day giving them to homeless people taking the time to stop and talk about life
  6. Help in the birth of a lamb, cow, or horse
  7. Visit a slaughter house (try to withhold judgment)
  8. Organize a rite of passage ceremony for an adolescent, someone at mid-life, or yourself
  9. Switch genders for the day
  10. Build a house (your own, or for Habitat for Humanity)
  11. Ask a low rider how the lifters on their car work
  12. Apprentice yourself to someone you've always wanted to learn from
  13. Take a picture of you and all your stuff in front of the place where you live. Compare it to the pictures in Peter Menzel's Material World
  14. Read the sacred texts of another tradition
  15. Imagine your most delicious relationship and then go first
  16. Work for a week on an assembly line
  17. Spend a week without stepping in a car. Pay attention to how your town looks from a bike, bus, or sidewalk
  18. Exchange tutoring with a teenager - math or bicycle repair in exchange for Web browsing, skate boarding, dance, or ??
  19. Go to someone else's church, synagogue, or place of worship
  20. Go on a vision quest
  21. Take a dance class from a different culture
  22. Interview the oldest person you can find; record the conversation
  23. Interview a child
  24. Imagine a day in your life 15 years from now
  25. Plant and care for a tree
  26. Ask yourself, "What if everyone in the world behaved the way I am behaving?"
  27. Get the names of the favorite books of your dentist, grocery store clerk, mother, co-worker, and your minister/rabbi/priest or spiritual guide. Read those books
  28. Pretend to be someone else on the Internet
  29. Trace your water supply back to its source - and follow it down the drainpipes to its destiny
  30. Finger paint
  31. Spend a day in a neighborhood where you've never been before - without carrying any money
  32. Ask your friends, and your ex-friends, to anonymously send you a list of your five best and five worst character traits
  33. Live for a day off your garden
  34. Channel surf for an evening; ask yourself what about the programs is drawing people
  35. Be quiet for 5 minutes per day; increase gradually to 20
  36. Ask a young person what's on his or her mind and heart, and listen (don't try to 'fix it')
  37. Figure out when and on what part of your dwelling the sun's rays fall at different times of year (for extra credit: calculate the photovoltaic potential of your roof)
  38. Take a year off
  39. Read a foreign newspaper
  40. Meditate on the life of your unborn grandchild
  41. Talk to the janitor
  42. Assume that everything is your responsibility, if not your fault
  43. Examine a handful of compost or rich soil under a microscope
  44. Go without food for three days
  45. Watch a child being born
  46. Write a creation myth
  47. Visit an observatory, and look at the stars through a big telescope
  48. Map the creeks, streams, and rivers in your watershed
  49. Choose six jobs that interest you; find someone to interview for each and spend a day working alongside them
  50. Watch a snail
  51. Find out what percentage of the world's financial wealth is owned by the top 50 corporations, and how much by the 50 wealthiest people
  52. Visit the emergency ward of a major hospital
  53. Sleep outside under the stars
  54. Discuss these questions with a friend : If the Universe is finite, what happens at its edge ? If it's infinite, how did it get there ? If the Universe started 15 billion years ago, what was there before it started? Does time go on forever ?
  55. Visit a spiritual healer
  56. Find out what the clerk at the grocery store is thinking about
  57. Follow your electric wires to the source of the electricity
  58. Learn to line dance
  59. Spend two hours with a counsellor exploring your life
  60. Pick three trees of different species and spend an hour meditating under each one
  61. Go on a week-long solo journey by bus, bike, or foot to a place you've never been; listen to the people you meet
  62. Learn how to build a wall
  63. Fall in love
  64. Take a bicycle to pieces and put it together again
  65. Visit a Native American reservation and talk with the people you meet about their past and future
  66. Learn how to give a good massage
  67. Spend a day watching a state or provincial legislature at work
  68. Calculate how much carbon dioxide your family is adding to the atmosphere each year
  69. Ask a good friend to share the most important lessons he or she has learned about sex and how to make love
  70. Perform menial or repetitive work at a job that lasts at least a week
  71. Read primary sources on history, science, social science (that is, avoid the authors who are interpreting the work of others)
  72. Carry all your trash around with you for a week. At the end of the week, weigh it all
  73. Write an episode of one of the current top-rated sitcoms on commercial TV; explain the story line to a friend
  74. Repair a damaged relationship
  75. Start that band/garden/book/art movement you told yourself you'd always do
  76. Throw the biggest party you can; try to get someone from every decade dancing
  77. Ask your parents about their relationship
  78. Refuse to do meaningless work for one week
  79. Offer to help your child's teacher
  80. Admit that you don't know and ask for help
  81. Tell people how you are really doing
  82. Go to a punk rock or hip-hop show
  83. Sell your car and go to India
  84. Seek out a friend of a different race & class
  85. Ask people what they are planning to do about the year 2000 computer bug
  86. Calculate the total miles traveled from the towns labeled on food cans in your pantry
  87. Ask a kid about divorce
  88. Teach yourself to play guitar
  89. Go to the industrial section of town and see how much free stuff is available (go dumpster diving)
  90. Make a movie about your neighborhood
  91. Visit the nearest creek once a week for a month and notice changes along the banks, in the water flows, in the pools
  92. Collect dumpling recipes from around the world; throw a dumpling party
  93. Imagine yourself looking back on your life at 90 years of age: what are the highlights? Who has been most important? What do you wish you had done?

Now go out and do those things, thank those people and live those highlights.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

For the Betterment of All

The recent Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit, like all similar summits, turned out to be another metaphor of the reality of the economic reforms. An article in Washington Post described the ground realities behind the meeting of the leaders (who, naturally, were discussing how to eradicate the poverty in the world):

"BANGKOK, Oct. 20 -- This city of 10 million, known for its endless traffic jams and teeming street life, has been spruced up and locked down in preparation for the 21 leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum that starts Monday. The cleanup has included barring thousands of street vendors from the central city, shipping 10,000 homeless people to army camps and banning more than 500 human rights activists from entering the country.

About 600 Cambodian beggars, mostly women and children, were rounded up and airlifted back home on C-130 Hercules military aircraft. About 3,000 stray dogs were caught and shipped to the countryside. And a banner four stories high and a quarter-mile long, displaying an image of the Grand Palace royal compound, was erected to conceal a slum community that leaders might have otherwise glimpsed...."

While the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad may be refering only to the developing countries ("We are ready to be exploited, but we must be exploited fairly"), but apparently it applied more accurately to these un-people...

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Woes of Globalization

I picked it up on the net... and found this an interesting fable on the unmentioned implications of globaliation:

Joe Smith started the day early having set his alarm clock (made in Japan) for 6:00 a.m. While his coffee pot (made in China) was perking, he shaved with his electric razor (made in Hong Kong). He put on a dress shirt (made in Sri Lanka), designer jeans (made in Singapore) and tennis shoes (made in Korea). After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet (made in India), he sat down with After setting his watch (made in Taiwan) to the radio (made in India) he got in his car (made in Germany), and continued his search for a good paying American Job.

At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day, Joe decided to relax for a while. He put on his sandals (made in Brazil), poured himself a glass of wine (made in France) and turned on his television set (made in Indonesia), and then wondered why he can’t find a good paying job in .....AMERICA....

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Sanjhi Virasat

like this Hindi term better than "shared heritage", but that is what this means.

Someone sent me a link, on which was this list of facts, many of which we are not aware of:

1. That Lord Ram blessed Prince Dara Shikoh in a dream (eldest son of Emperor Shahjahan and to-be King of India) to translate the Bhagavad Gita into Persian? (This Geeta reached the west and India’s Vedic history was rediscovered. Prince Dara was a great Sanskrit scholar and loved by the pundits of Kashi, the Sikh Gurus and the Sufis alike. He was murdered by his youngest brother Aurangzeb, for the throne)

2. That Goswami Tulsidas, the great devotee of Lord Ram, wrote the Ramayana under protection of the Mughal governor of Banaras, his best friend, Abdul Rahim Khankhana, (the great Krishna bhakt, famous for Rahim ke dohe)? Goswami Tulsidas was harassed by the powerful Brahmin priests, who did not want him to compose the Ramayana in the jan-bani, but Sanskrit.

3. Baba Bulleh Shah, the great Punjabi Sufi poet’s Guru was Madhavlal Hussain, neither a Hindu nor a Muslim? He said: Masjid dha de, mandir dha, dha de jo kucch dainda, Par kisi da Dil na dhain, Rab dilan which rehnda.. Break the temple, Break the mosque, Break what else besides, But break not a Human heart, Because that’s where God resides.

4. That the Suhagan Sufis of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, dressed like Hindu brides, with red sindoor and called themselves the dulhans of God/ Allah? Lal sindoor and chooris are offered at their dargahs.

5. That the slogan ‘Jai Hind’ was coined by Capt. Abid Hasan of the Subhash Chandra Bose’s INA in 1942? (The official greeting of the Netaji’s Azad Hind Fauj and a mantra for all Indians)

6. That Frontier Gandhi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan organized the largest, 2 lakh non-violent army of sataygrahis for India’s freedom? (Under the British attacks, Frontier Gandhi said that: ‘My religion and my devotion to Bapu and India are one..’)

7. That Shivaji, the great Maratha leader, had both Hindus and Muslims as his generals and was equal to people of all faiths in his army. He ordered his followers to never attack women, children and holy books like the Quran.

8. That in the Great War of independence in 1857, Rani Lakhsmi Bai of Jhansi was protected by her Muslim Pathan generals, Ghulam Ghaus Khan and Khudaad Khan? (They guarded her Jhansi fort till they died, Their last words: For our queen we shall lay down our life, hack the firangis)

9. That Guru Gobind Singh’s best friend was a Sufi called Baba Badruddin, who sacrificed his life, all his sons, his brothers and 700 disciples in the Guru's battle against Aurangzeb? He called this the true path of Islam against injustice and was so loved by the Guru, that he offered his khalsa comb and sword to him, still at his dargah, Kange Shah, near Ambala.

10. That the Nawabs of Awadh, spent 13 days in celebrating Holi? Wajid Ali Shah’s court played Raslila, for Lord Krishna. The most famous Hindu dharmic play, Indra Sabha was composed in his court by a Muslim writer.

11. That the foundation of the Sikh’s Golden temple, was laid by a Muslim Sufi, Hazrat Mian Mir, the best friend of Guru Arjun Dev? (He was also the teacher of Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh, whose life the Sikh Guru, had saved as a child due to his great love for him)

12. That Guru Nanak’s lifelong companion was Mian Mardana, a Muslim rabab player? (He is the first singer of Sikh gurbani- and traveled with Guru Nanak from Hardwar to Mecca. Mian Mardana’s descendants played the rabab in the Golden temple for 500 years till 1947.

13. That the Sufis of India celebrate Basant panchmi by singing Saraswti vandanas since 800 years? (They revived Basant, by bringing sarson flowers and saffron chadars to the dargahs. The great poet, Amir Khusro has written hundreds of Holi geets to his Guru, whom
he compares to Krishna: Mohe suhagan, rang basanti rang de Khwajaji/ Aao, Sufiion sang Hori khelo)

14. That Ras Khan was one of the many Muslim Krishna bhakts? (like Bhikan, Ras Khan and Malik Mohhammed Jayasi of Padmavat). He renounced everything to live in Vrindavan, upon seeing a baniya’s son, whom he worshipped as Krishna. Hundreds of Krishna bhajans have been written by Muslims like Amir Khusro, Rahim, Hazrat Sarmad, Dadu, Baba Farid, many of which are part of the Guru Granth sahib.

15. That Baz bahadur and Roopmati, the King and Queen of Mandu were a Rajput’s daughter and the son of Khilji. When Baz Bahadur was defeated by the Mughals
in battle of Mandu, Rupmati poisoned herself than be separated.

16. That in Bengal, the women sing a devi bhajan that only when the Hindus and Muslims brothers live together in peace, will Ma Laxmi stay in their land? (Ma Laxmi came back when Akbar the Nyayi was King, but when the English made the two brothers fight, she will
leave.. like now )

There are hundreds of other examples like Kabir Das, Mast Qalandar Sachal Sarmast, Ghalib, Ram Mohan Roy who lived according to our Sanjhi Virasat.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Capitalism contradicts Free Market!!!
We normally use the term capitalism and free-market in the same breath -- in fact, often interchangeably.

If one really thinks about it, the "Free Market Capitalism" (or "Capitalistic Free Market") is a contradiction in terms. Capitalism is based on an economic doctrine which concentrates the power to a few., while Free Market is based on assumption of equal distribution of power across markets.

Also Adam Smith's Free Market Theory was based on some assumptions:

(1) player are not large enough to influence the market dynamics
(2) there are no "information assymetries" (or trade secrets)
(3) trade across nations/ regions is balanced
(4) sellers are also producers, etc.

Clearly, none of these holds in the present day real world: World's largest 200 corporations earn sales revenues which are greater than the combined GDPs of 48LDCs; IPR regime blocks free flow of information; trade barriers and subsidies by richer nations do not allow balanced trade across regions, and sellers are often out-sourcers... etc.

So one can either support capitalism or support free market!!!

Monday, October 06, 2003

A Case for Localisation

In today's world, if you don't preach and accept "globalisation" as the contemporary religious doctrine, it is being equivalent to being a heretic.

But there are valid reasons for Going Local, as these excerpts from an article by Michael Shuman describes:

"When you buy groceries or clothes or gasoline, you usually focus on only two
questions: Which stores have the lowest prices? And which are most conveniently
located? More and more of us then decide to do shopping at super-discount department
stores like Wal-Mart. Whatever their virtues, however, these stores systematically suck
money out of town and put traditional small retailers out of business.

There are at least four compelling economic reasons to buy instead from locally
owned businesses:

First, a locally owned business is likely to produce income, jobs, tax receipts, and
charitable donations for a community over several generations. Whenever ownership
coincides with the location of a business, all these transactions reinforce one another and
pump up the local economic multiplier, the basic building block for community

Second, local ownership minimizes the chance of calamity. Across the country,
cities have seen their best local companies sell their interests to outsiders and then their
hometown plants shutdown. Tragic consequences always follow. Taxpayers thrown out
of work become tax-drainers through welfare and unemployment payments. When the
tax base contracts, vital services like education, police, and fire must be cut. Property
values plummet and, like so many steel and auto towns in the 1970s and 1980s, the
community descends into an economic death spiral. Local stores have no plans to move
to Malaysia.

A third advantage of local ownership is that once a company agrees to stay
indefinitely, the community can better shape its laws and regulations to serve the local
quality of life. Today, most communities are held hostage to their largest companies.
Near where I live, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, for example, Tyson and Perdue
have successfully fought all legislative efforts to raise wages of their workers and to clean
up the billions of pounds of chicken manure they dump into the Chesapeake Bay
ecosystem. They deploy one powerful argument: Regulate us and we’ll move to more
lax jurisdictions like Georgia or Arkansas...

Finally, locally owned businesses are, in fact, more likely to succeed than those
with absentee shareholders. In 1975 the Sperry Rand Co. decided to shut down any
subsidiaries that were not achieving a 22 percent rate of return. One of its companies
slated to get the axe was the Library Bureau, the principal employer of Herkimer, New
York. The workers, residents, and local banks decided to execute a buyout. In its first
year of operation under new management, the newly independent Library Bureau earned
a 17 percent rate of return – inadequate for Sperry Rand, but more than enough for
Herkimer. It continued to perform profitably for more than a decade.

The Herkimer example underscores that locally owned businesses have much
more flexibility and time to become profitable. Having locally owned businesses
generate a positive rate of return is far more important to the local economy than having a
smaller number absentee-owned companies generating a maximum rate of return. This
helps explain why college and state-government towns are among the most recessionproof
in the country.

The bottom line is this: If you’re hungry, choose a locally owned restaurant. If
you need fresh produce, check out the farmers’ market. If you’re a business, buy inputs
for your company from local suppliers. The real power to shape your economy lies in the
hands of residents like yourself....

Sunday, October 05, 2003


Just when we think that the Net is ushering an era of freedom to information....

This study across some 50+ countries shows that freedom of speech is being curbed by the goverments. According to the report:

    "It is clear that in most countries over the past two years there has been an acceleration of efforts to either close down or inhibit the Internet. In some countries, for example in China and Burma, the level of control is such that the Internet has relatively little value as a medium for organised free speech, and its used could well create additional dangers at a personal level for activists. The September 11, 2001 attacks have given numerous governments the opportunity to promulgate restrictive policies that their citizens had previously opposed. There has been an acceleration of legal authority for additional snooping of all kinds, particularly involving the Internet, from increased email monitoring to the retention of Web logs and communications data. Simultaneously, governments have become more secretive about their own activities, reducing information that was previously available and refusing to adhere to policies on freedom of information."

Do download and read this International Report on Censorship and Control of the Internet [pdf format]

New Bridge Strategies

iThis is the name of (reproducing from its website) a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The profile of the two founders reads:

Joe M. Allbaugh, Chairman and Director... served as the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under President George Bush until March 2003. Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., he was Chief of Staff to then-Governor Bush of Texas and was the National Campaign Manager for the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign.

Ed Rogers, Vice Chairman and Director... From January of 1989 until August of 1991, Ed served as the Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States and Executive Assistant to the White House Chief of Staff. Additionally, Ed was the Senior Deputy to Bush-Quayle Campaign Manager Lee Atwater, from February of 1987, through the general election in 1988. Ed also worked in the White House Office of Political Affairs during the Reagan Administration.


Should Net Groups be Blocked

This refers to the debate in ET today on "Should Net Groups be Blocked?"

In this debate, Mr DC Nath (Ex-Special Director, Intelligence Bureau) makes a point about curbing the "anti-national" groups from using the net to the detriment of the national security. Some may agree with him, too.

However, he seems to be quite ignorant about context of present blocking of the yahoogroups:

Firstly, even if GOI was within its rights to ask the ISPs to block the yahoogroup moderated by the Meghalaya-based "Kynhum", it is also equally responsible and accountable (being a democratically elected government) to ensure that its directives are implemented without hurting the ordinary citizens. Most ISPs have blocked access to the entire yahoogroups. Mr Nath seems to be ignorant that there are more than 1mn yahoogroups, which are forums for people to exchange knowledge/ideas/opportunities on subjects ranging from AIDs, e-governance, scientific enquiries, business, etc. to entertinment, college alumni, etc... Read this article to appreciate the variety and size of the yahoogroups network...

.. What GOI has managed to achieve is burning the entire field to kill a rat!!

Secondly, his statement that blocking access to group site is "within bounds of law" is false and misleading - and definitely shows his ignorance. The concerned site is hosted on a US server, and not in India. By no stretch of International Law, can a country ask a site to be blocked, which is hosted in another country... his arguments tatamount to something like US govt asking to block The Economic Times Website, because it contains a report from Reuter, which is critical about US Govt.

and Lastly - and most importantly - he seems to be supporting a censor on any net-based voice which challenges the local government on issues of corruption and ineptitude, and thus raising questions about the democratic nature of our country. The concerned site - Kynhum - was a year old group site with a member ship of around 30 members (it has gone to around 200 now, due to publicity GOI gave it free of cost), which only questioned the present state administration - through a newsletter "The Voice" - on issues like mining in ecologically sensitive areas, or transfer of a government hosital to a trust owned by the present Chief Minister, etc... Mr Nath's use of term "anti-national" seems to be pretty indiscriminate and is equivalent to asking us the accept the power of the "Big Brother".

What should be troubling to many of us as concerned citizens, is the nature of powers (inordinate and without any accountability) which have been given to CERT-IN through GSR529(E), dated July 7 2003. According to this directive, the CERT-IN can "take on the spot decision on whether the website is to be blocked or not’’. Moeover, neither the producers of the website nor those holding a differnet view can get a hearing (are we living in democracy??)... Worse, the the GOI order does not even accept this as censorship. The governemnt order reads: "Blocking of such websites may be equated to balanced flow of information and not censorship."!!!!

Mr Nath's views substantatiate the fears which many citizens have - that the ordinary citizen is being governed by people have have no clue about internet - or the country.

Monday, March 10, 2003

When US Supported Iraq's Chemical Weapons

Found something very interesting today:

During the eighties, the UN was concerned with Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons. On March 21st, 1986, the Security Council President, "speaking on behalf of the Security Council," stated that the Council members were

"profoundly concerned by the unanimous conclusion of the specialists that chemical weapons on many occasions have been used by Iraqi forces against Iranian troops...[and] the members of the Council strongly condemn this continued use of chemical weapons in clear violation of the Geneva Protocol of 1925 which prohibits the use in war of chemical weapons"

The United States voted AGAINST the issuance of this statement.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Logic of Invasion

While watching the News Conference, given by George W Bush a couple of days back, I was struck by two points he made:

  • Bush said that, if the UN doesn't back his resolution for war on Iraq, he will ignore UN, and launch a war on Iraq, because Iraq has been ignoring UN Resolutions, and

  • Bush said that unfortunately, in this war, civilian Iraqis will also get killed - but morally, US cannot back out from waging this war, because Saddam Hussain has been killing civilian Iraqis