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.