Aug 072007
 

This from today’s Guardian

The US has lost track of about 190,000 weapons issued to Iraqi security forces since the 2003 invasion, some of which will have ended up in the hands of insurgents, according to an official report published in Washington. Among the missing items are AK-47 rifles, pistols, body armour and helmets.

As Lady Bracknell would say — To lose one gun, Bush, may be regarded as a carelessness; to lose so many looks like ineptitude.

Dec 302006
 

I am not shedding tears at the death of Saddam. Nor is this a rant on the inappropriateness of the death sentance. Instead it is a lament for justice.

‘Justice’ that is delivered without due process being followed is vigilantism - and there is no worse example for Democracy (let’s not forget that Iraq was invaded to restore Democracy) – than a seeming kangaroo court delivering a pre ordained sentance. This is not the poster campign for the ‘restoration of Democracy’.

To say that the Americans and the British have screwed this one up beyond measure is an understament beyond compare.

Sep 112005
 

George W Bush is hoping that the spirit of 9-11will help him get out of the mess that his administration’s ineptitude has landed him in. Imagine a government so incompetent, that it makes Vilasrao Deshmukh look good!

I wonder whether invoking the spirit of 9-11 means a) blaming Iraq for Katrina or b) going to war with Iran to divert attention from the fact that the system was caught napping?

Or, the spirit of 9-11 could also mean a good Christmas kind of spirit where all old friends could land up with reconstruction contracts.

Maybe it means all three. It should be interesting to see the spin on this one!

I know that it is said that a country deserves the leadership that it gets – but the Americans are by and large decent people. nice people. and surely they deserve better than this!

Sep 092005
 

The Day has arrived. And after an extensive search through Indian blogdom – this week’s Bharateeya Blog Mela is finally in place. Thank you for all those who nominated. And as usual, this task would have been chaotic without Bloglines.

Announcements

JK at Varnam announces the setting up of the new History Blog – The Palm Leaf
Sid at Patang announces the release of the Carpool Beta – an interesting social software that helps you share vehicles in a geographical area. And with the price of petrol being what it is (almost Rs.49 per litre) in Mumbai, VC’s might start keeping a beady eye on this software :)

Business

Cerebral Shangrila
sallivates about the new Visa Ad starring Richard Gere .

Object Petit M – in the CSF – writes about how Yahoo’s business policies in China have led to a Chinese journalist Shi Tao being sentanced to 10 years in prison.
Sambhar Mafia blogs about Tata’s 75% stake in Landmark in an all cash deal worth 103 crores. So can we see book stores with Chai bars soon?
Kartik has an interesting take on why the Tamil publishing industry is in the doldrums.

Caste

58 years after Independence, we still havent’ managed to shrug off the evil of caste. Somehow society and religion seem to tolerate it. And even today – Dalits face atrocities that would have us screaming “human rights violations” if it happened elsewhere.
As Aparna points out

Again an upper caste ire
Set Dalit homes on fire
What leaves me aghast
Is that the issue of caste
Even today can such violence inspire!

Uma at Indianwriting in the duty of the rich castes ponders about the difference betwen big crimes – setting fire to a row of houses – and little crimes – preventing a Dalit girl from cycling to college. She recommends that we read Viramma: Life of an Untouchable. To that I would add read Untouchable by Narendra Jadhav. It is an eye opener. Abi at Nanopolitan looks at the same atrocity that happened at Gohana – and observes wrly that individuals – even those who should know better – would worry about the impact of this incident on FDI. And Anand looks at the torching of Dalit homes in much ‘more enlightened’ Maharashtra.

Development

Ruth writing in CSF – talks about her work with the Tsunami Victims in Tamil Nadu, and how after almost 7 months they are nowhere near finished.

Arzan blogs about how post independence India allowed two brilliant architects – and town planners – Le Corbusier & Louis I. Kahn to help develop a new style of architecture.

Govindraj Ethiraj – in Dateline Bombay – A Reporter’s Tales looks at the disaster that is the urban landscape of Bangalore and asks compares the work ethic of the hi-tech IT firms there with that of those who provide public services – such as roads and desilted drains.

And, Nitin writing in the Acorn - has an analysis of the Human Development Index in India and our neighbourhood. He says,

India’s ranking is also a reflection of the inertia that has come to characterise its progress towards privatisation of industry, education and social services.

Akshay of Trivial Matters has a photograph that he clicked featured on United Children of the World. It is truly a picture that symbolises hope.
akshay

Education
September 5th being Teachers’ day – there were a number of posts around that event. Patrix blogs about President Kalam’s message to create life long learners and enlightened citizens. Arzan tells us to take some time out to wish a teacher who made a difference to our life. Twillight Fairy looks at a sari wearing experience – which makes her look like chirpy Chawla (Juhi) – on the occassion of Teacher’s Day, a long time ago.

Anand writes about the need for a child inspired education system, without which learning may not be effective. Michael Higgins has an interesting post on who should guide Children’s Education.

On the occasion of International Literacy Day – Uma has a beautiful post – Post Card to Akka – her experiences of Karnataka’s adult literacy movement.

Charu writes about the need to strengthen the undergraduate programme
And finally, if it wasn’t true it would truly be funny. Sunil has a wry look at Pew’s latest survey on religion in education (in the USA). And Srikanth has a rib tickling account of how theologists want to introduce Creationism as part of the science curriculum. He quotes from Scott Adams (the creator of Dilbert):

By definition, people with bad ideas cannot be swayed by logic. If they were logical, they wouldn’t have bad ideas in the first place – unless the ideas were based on bad data

Facism

Kamesh’s post on Hijacked Gods re examines the Gujarat riots after seeing Rakesh Sharma’s Final Solution. He wonders : “Why do people forget that “Man can exist without religion, but religion cannot exist without man”.

Faderu of CSF looks at Police Fascism in Mumbai in cancelling the Independence Day Rock. Kunal of Ceteris Paribus expresses his outrage elequently on the same issue, as does Amit Varma of India Uncut in Rock is Evil.

Faith

Atanu Dey has an extremely well written out post on Faith and its multiple facets. He points out that only the feeble minded will use faith as a crutch to deal with what happens after death. He also looks at the connection between the Hindu concpet of time – kalpa – and cosmology. Methinks that he is reading too much Fritzof Capra. Ashsih says that we are so busy admiring what we did in the past that we are somehow stuck there, like a broken clock.
Subhas provides a rather impassioned defence on why he has faith but is not feeble minded.

And of course Saket talks about why he feels completely ‘intellectually arrogant‘ in his firm faith that there is no God. Reminds of an online exchange of ideas i had with Amit on whether atheism is a faith. of course it is :)
Nilu has an interesting set of posts about Advaita and futility.
Sunil talks about the most cuddly of all Gods – Ganesh – and about the goodies that were made during his child hood days. Somehow, theist or atheist – when it comes to good modaks and pedas, everthing is maaf.
And finally, Hemant of Instant Kaapi says that If A R Rahman turns Prophet for a new religion and promises to use his songs for sermons, he would be the first convert. Interesting faith that would be :)

Gender Issues

Annie writes about missing women. Women who are never ever born. Women who are killed before they are ever born.

there are at least a million women out there who agreed to, if not actively opted to, kill their girls – born or unborn. Mothers who are not facing starvation-level poverty. Mothers who, possibly, were neither unmarried nor raped. Grandmothers who pushed their daughters-in-law into getting rid of granddaughters.

I fail to emphathize, because my imagination completely fails me.

Charu writes about empowring Sita and Draupadi, and quotes Anand Bakshi – “Sita bhi yahan badnaam huvi”
Vikrum blogs about eve teasing at 35,000 feet on Kingfisher Airlines. And how, there was really no point in complaining – becuase Kingfisher Airlines used a marketing strategy that sells sex. All you have do is see the hoardings around Mumbai to know that he is right.
Primary Red blogs about how four women were paraded half naked over a property dispute and how the police refused to file a complaint.

Sakshi writes about Alimony and asks if some women are misusing the law.

Katrina
Katrina occupies the mind space of a number of Desi bloggers. Maitri from New Orleans has a day by day post on the situation there.
Amardeep Singh asks if the Government has the right to forcibly evacuate people who don’t want to move.
Gawker is furious with Michael Brown the head of FEMA – who blamed the victims for not getting out of town. Rueben feels much the same, especially to the US Govenrment response that they didn’t know how severe Katrina could be. And he quotes a pastor on the devestation:

“New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleansnow is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion — it’s free of all of those things now,” Shanks says. “God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there — and now we’re going to start over again.”

Ouch! It redefines compassion and charity.

And this seems to redefine grace – Uma has this blistering post on Boing Boing’s response to India’s aid (5 million dollars and army assistance).

Poverty
What is poverty seems to be the topic of a cross continental debate. It all began with John Scalzi’s Being Poor. Peter Griffin, comparing the post to his rear has this in reponse :) . And Dina jams in with this – being Poor in India. And Madhoo recalling her earlier years in Vizag, talks about the fact that sometimes the poor don’t really want to be helped.

And Finally

Jabberwock celebrates one year of blogging.
Neelakantan tells us how to identify anti – globalisation aunties.
Aparna has a limerical take on the Mangal Pandey fracas.
Nilu writes about the pissing contest that he has with himself :) Nilu, please let us know who won this one :)
Secrets of my Inner World has a litany on Apples.
Rashmi Bansal writes on a new form of ABCD – Apna Bharatiya Chinese Dish
Dinesh asks “to swear or not to swear is the question” (with all apologies to the bard).
Sulfury has a A to Z of the world according to George Bush.
And, Vishnupavan writes about a number of American Presidents who played cricket.
And the last one is on Bill Gates who wants his money back. Gawker blogs about how Billy Boy mistakenly donated 10 million dollars to an institute that worked in the area of Intelligent Design. They probably came up with the next version of the Microsoft OS, that crashed on start up and imploded taking everything with it.

That brings us to the end of this weeks blog mela.

Next week Amit Varma at India Uncut is your friendly host of the BlogMela. Drop off your nominations there.
Till then bye bye.
(roll credits)

Bharateeya Blog Mela can also be found at The Truth Laid Bear’s ÜberCarnival.

Sep 022005
 

How can a nation that cannot provide security for its own people, hope to restore democracy in Iraq and Afganistan? This is New Orleans blogger Maitri on the devastation:

A few states kindly offer shelter, guards and other help, but this is not enough. America needs to understand the sheer gravity of this horrible situation. We have frantic and desparate people who are shackled to New Orleans without food, water and safety. They have no way to get out thanks to rampant crime and limited access to evacuation facilities. We need to get these people out with security escorts before we can talk about repair and restoration. To borrow the words of Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI), these are tax-paying American citizens, your fellow people, not refugees. Where are the troops?
… America, if you are reading this and have an iota of conscience, drop whatever it is you are doing and call whomever you know in power to help get troops and resources down there. I’m not asking, I’m begging. We need your help.

It is sad that a people – and i am not talking about their government – that has been so open with their purse strings when it comes to helping othere in their time of need – is in this situation. The American Red Cross is taking on line donations here. So is Second Harvest. So even if you aren’t in the USA, but want to help – you can. Go over and help a people who have been there to help you.

Katrina - has gone and her wake left behind remains of a society. It is not about flooding or what the environment throws at us. It is the way civil society behaves while disaster strikes.

Lavanya – a friend of mine who is originally a Delhiite – told me during our own terrible Tuesday – go down on your knees and thank God that you live in Mumbai, in Delhi you whould have been molested and or raped before you reached home. She had to walk home from Parel to Andheri West. She said, Mumbai is amazing. strangers helped us. took us home. gave us shelter and food. and It won’t happen anywhere else. I kind of brushed it off saying that most people help each other in these kind of events. But, then I saw the post Katrina disaster unfold on television. The blogs that i read are more explicit in nature – vis-a-vis the breakdown in society.

Is the veneer of civilisation so thin that it is easy for us to revert to barbarianism at the first sign of adversity. Aren’t adversities like this supposed to bring societies closer together?

A long time ago – i remembe reading a Batman Graphic Novel. The series was called No Man’s Land – and the images that come out of New Orleans, could have been out of Gotham – beseiged by plague, earthquake and criminal elements. Those who can, have left the city. But the bulk – the poor, the helpless, the underbelly – stay behind. And soon there is pitched battle. The Government declares Gotham as “No Man’s Land” and shoots to kill anyone who tries to get in or go out. Law and order – is bravely maintained by Gordan and his merry band. But, it is a police force stretched to the limit. But, then Gotham had Batman to bring it back from the brink. Whom does New Orleans have?

Today I was watching Charles Wheeler on the BBC – talking about poverty, race and the inequity of the American system. He said that most people who didn’t leave didn’t have the money to leave. He asked a simple question. If disaster is to strike London, the rich – those who can afford it will leave for the country side. But, he asked, can you imagine a situation where the Mayor or the Government didn’t make adequete arrangement to evacuate those who couldn’t? I hope we never see a day like this in India where market forces determine who stays and sinks, and who goes off to safety.

Update : if you want to help the BBC has a full section here.
Read the Beeb’s correspondents on the human side of the tragedy.