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Politically correct British Liberals still love India, bashingly

Posted by desicontrarian on July 18, 2013

India’s deadly mid-day meals.

“Can’t India do anything right?”

“Tell me, if there is anything this misconceived entity India ever got anything right from the time of its premature infantile?”

“India is a failed State covered with a well polished veneer of respectability.”

“The problem with free school meals in India is India itself – a place in which appalling corruption takes place on a daily scale and bribery is the only way to get anything done. Why do you think that so many Indians want to move to the UK / Europe and the US? Precisely because such appalling injustices do not take place in these countries. You should count yourself fortunate to have been born into a first world country.”

“The country of 1.2 billion is in gargantuan mess. Both these articles must be put on top of the Guardian site for the world to know the excrement India has become.”

“And no, it is not because the first world imposed these conditions on poor countries. Britain will always prosper because of Britons and their greatness. Any country that doesn’t prosper is because of themselves. India is a largely lawless place of bribery, violence, corruption, and oppression of women and minorities on a massive scale. Slavery is also commonplace.”

Delhi’s Traffic Chaos

“I was considering a motorcycling holiday in India, after much research and fear for life and limb I think I may go somewhere else..”

“I agree that Asians only should be restricted to bicycles.”

“I have been to Delhi 3 times in my life, and promised myself the last time that I would never make myself go back. Just existing there was so tiring, unless you lock yourself in your hotel room to hide “

“Sounds like my experience of Chennai… went with work a couple of years ago and was convinced I was going to die.”

“I can confirm that the traffic is as bad as this article says – though thankfully my son-in-law was able to negotiate the traffic – I just closed my eyes.”

“The stench from clapped-out cars and lorries is eye-watering. Quite often you find yourself behind a cloud of soot so thick that you can’t even see the vehicle it’s coming from.”

“in 2005 I went to West Bengal for 10 days, by the time I came home I still wasn’t sure which side of the road they drive on”

“I’m reading Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga at the moment. It echoes the general sentiment that India is totally mental.”

You’d think that a left liberal British Newspaper would have decent readers. But the amount of head-shaking, how-can-you-Indians-be-so-wretched, why do you create and live in such hells etc  – is predictable on the Guardian of left-liberal values. It is a favourite opinion-maker for Indian left-liberals  and radicals as well – like Ramachandra Guha, Arundhati Roy, Amartya Sen etc. They write quite regularly for the newspaper. Is it difficult to detect the  Raj Nostalgia? They seem to think that if only they were in charge, Indians would be much better off, everything spic and span, gleaming children, shiny hospitals, a toilet for every one and so on.

Do these enlightened readers remember the man-made Bengal famine of 1943, the British Raj-managed impoverishment of India, or Britain’s role in the partition of so many  nations ? That would lead to less head-shaking, so they don’t. And after all, their great humanist pioneer – the writer of A Tale of Two cities – thought Indians deserved extermination. So its not surprising that perhaps up-to 10 million Indians were killed in reprisals after 1857.

What IS surprising is the idea that today, the British have had a change of attitude and things are really nice between erstwhile Masters and Subjects. Robert Clive was of course astonished at his own moderation! According to Lord Macaulay, Clive gave peace, security, prosperity and such liberty  to millions of Indians, who had for centuries been the prey of oppression. What we need to remember is that they still want to be arbiters of huge collective fates. The British populace thought then, as now,  that they always were and are angels. The colour of their political correctness is just  a surface mask. Wait for the next relatively small Indian mishap to be pounced upon by these disaster news vultures.

It is our tragedy as programmed mimic men that we think the same, and are eager for visas to the land of the angels that love us so bashingly.

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Posted in Ideology | Leave a Comment »

The elephant in the room – problem with defenders of Hinduism

Posted by desicontrarian on July 3, 2013

As I went through Dr. Elst’s analysis of the Hindu defeat in the California Textbook controversy, I found myself welcoming the bitter medicine, while wondering if defenders of traditional Hindu POV can come out of the denial of reality.

The major problem is ignorance of own tradition, and unwillingness to correct this defect.  This problem is compounded by the sophistication of what is there to learn. It is akin to right away trying Quantum Physics, Chomskian Deep Structure Linguistics, and Genetics – without knowing basic building blocks of science, maths, theorems, proofs and so on. For example, most of us (English Medium Educated) do not know Sanskrit. Therefore we cannot read and understand sources, in the original. We depend on translations. The next wrinkle is the fact of Vedic Sanskrit, which is quite different from the Sanskrit that gets taught to normal students. So Vedic Sanskrit needs to be mastered! Already the mountain has become too big to trek.

An antipathy-filled Wendy Doniger, a Michael Witzel or their armies of followers work on mastering these things. And they occupy academic positions of power. Their interpretation of sources become the received truth where it matters. Their primary tool for this is philology and hostile or vulgar interpretation. Risa Lila is one such example of a battle lost, or at least not won. “Our side” does have a Srikanth Talageri, a Rajiv Malhotra, a Koenraad Elst, a Nicholas Kazanas, a Subhash Kak and so on, but they do not have comparable respect and influence where it matters. We also have plenty of self-goal scorers, who might be called amateurs in the game.

So when discussing AIT among ourselves, we almost always assume that it has been accepted universally as false. AIT continues to enjoy widespread acceptance in the ivory towers. We compound the problem by assuming that OIT has won! This is denial of reality. This denial syndrome has also manifested itself in the CAF case.

The primary philological problem is the deliberate ambiguity of sources. Look at the sophistication of semantic encodings in Sanskrit. We are looking at The Sun and The Moon! But we have cataract, and can’t really figure out their shapes. It is the multiple-semantics part that leads us astray and gives a handle to the hostile interpreters. Philology is the main weapon used by the Goliath called White Indology. In spite of contrary evidence from Genetics, Archaeology, Hydronomy, and satellite imagery of lost rivers, White Indology marches on with the same denigratory interpretations as before. The biggest problem is that the hostiles hold ideological and academic power, unlike in the case of Sinology, Jewish Studies, Christian or Islamic studies. This is what makes these repeated defeats likely.

A comprehensive  and brief argument against the AIT was given by Rajeev Chandran a long time ago, but it is not widely disseminated.

1. There is no archaeological attestation of aryan invasion/migration in spite of more than a hundred years of archaeological effort.
2. There is no traditional memory or mention of aryan invasion/migration/intrusion in any of all the diverse historical traditions of India.
3. There is no genetic trace of foreigners to attest to such a historical mixing. If at all Indian genotypes not only closer to each other but substantially more diverse and much older than European or middle eastern genotypes – therefore suggesting a reverse migration. After Africa the most ancient and diverse population happens to be that of India. In essence most other non-African people descended from prehistoric Indians.
4. Philology is a tool of uncertain provenance and its conclusions are highly debatable. Aryan invasion/migration are hypothesis emerging basically from philology – hence open to debate.
5. Development of historical theories on ancient India through more accurate means (archaeology & traditional history) rather than philology points to the indegenity and antiquity of Indians.
6. Self references in many ancient Indian texts points to indegenity of Indians in a time-scale far older than those proposed by Aryan Invasion theory.
7. In ancient Indian texts Arya means ‘noble of conduct and character’ rather than a race. If the oldest texts negate Aryan being a race – the idea of Aryan being a race of people can be traced to the rise of British imperialism and German nationalism – both historically discredited and defunct ideologies.
8. Geology (mapping of the old Saraswati), archeo-metallurgy (iron working in ancient india), archeo-agriculture (maize, rice farming) etc points to a far greater antiquity of ancient Indians (which does not agree with Aryan Invasion Theory).
9. Archeo-astronomy, archeo-mathematics, hydronomy (river names) seem to corraborate ancient indian texts on thier antiquity and claims of indigenity.
10. Study of ancient Indian history has been held hostage to various extraneous constraints notably – euro-centricism, communism, various kinds of religious and regional chauvinism, and hence must be discarded

Posted in Culture, History, Ideology | 1 Comment »

The new British historical revisionism

Posted by desicontrarian on October 1, 2012

The ‘idea of India’ was a European not a local invention, as the name itself makes clear. No such term, or equivalent, as ‘India’ existed in any indigenous language. A Greek coinage, taken from the Indus river, it was so foreign to the subcontinent that as late as the 16th century, Europeans could define Indians simply as ‘the natives of all unknown countries’ and use it to describe the inhabitants of the Americas.\

Could it be because India is an English word ? It does seem to your humble self that until “Indian” languages could acquire this idea, they would struggle to complete the phrase Idea of India. This underdoggest of all cultures has been slowly overcoming its dim-wit handicap, thanks to the all-knowing scholars and master definers that the British Raj still emanates.

Gange cha Yamune chaiva  Godavari Saraswathi,

Narmada Sindhu Kaveri  Jale asmin sannidhim kuru

What does this hymn mean? Where does it come from? How old is it? A 64-karod rupee question, equal to a Bofors scam 🙂

Problems. (please have your tongue-in-cheek when some of these terms are used by an English educated Bhaiyya).

  1. It does not mean much, coming from a dead language(pdf) . However, a difficult linguistic-archaeology-level translation effort can be made.  “Hail! O ye Ganges, Jamuna, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri, come and approach these waters.”
  2. Indians (unlike the north american red indians) have difficulty recollecting it, understanding it or resonating to it.  Bharatheeyas may be somewhat better. However, they do not matter, being remnants of a dead people, somewhat like Tasmanians, Yukis  and Herero (pdf) people.
  3. Are a refuse-of-the-dead people allowed to make up these hymns?

Aa sindho: sinduparyantham yasya bhaaratha bhoomikaa maathru bhoo: pithru
bhoo (punya) schaiva sa vai Hindu iti smruthaa:

whomsoever, is considering the land between the sapta sindu ( Indus valley river) upto Indian ocean as the motherland/ fatherland and holy land, is known as Hindu. This land is known as Hindustanam which is defined as
follows:

Himaalayam samaarabhya yaavath hindu sarovaram tham deva nirmitham desam hindustaanam prachakshate.

The land created by god himself and which is lying between Himalayas
Indian ocean is known as Hindustanam .

Liberal patronizers should allow it, it is as politically correct as a Pukka Saahib.

What is this nonsense about geographical, political, cultural and Dharmic unity? About the continuum in history?  Sorry, Perry Anderson (PA) Saahib will not allow it. Not based on the revered  Westphalian model. Let’s not have more of such nonsense. As Humpty Dumpty says – “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less”.

I understand that the North-East was never a part of “India”. I am enlightened now. The Mahabharata (MBH) misled me earlier, with fairy tales like Chitrangada , Naga kingdoms and Uloopi.

Sorry again, PA Saahib says that  it is ridiculous that

Mahabharata could be invoked as proof that the North-East Frontier Agency had been part of Mother India from time immemorial, rather as if the Nibelungenlied were to clinch German diplomatic claims to Morocco. Such notions have not gone away. The facts gainsay them.

Utter ignorance is my problem. What is this Nibelungenlied ? Even educated Indians don’t know it. It is as unknown to us dimwits as Peccavi. (The mists lift slowly though. It seems this a myth written in middle high german.) Oh, the paisa drops – he means that MBH is as unreliable as Nibung-watcha-ma-callit.

Still un-Westphalian, I gamely want to say that “North-East Frontier Agency” is his precise new term, while I am happy to rename it as  ishaanya Bhaaratam and thus grab it. Sigh, I see you shaking your head. Is it speculative to say  that Burma etymologically comes from Brahma Desham? Please don’t shake your head, I get the no-no signal. How about the clear asymmetry in the Germany-Morocco relation (separate continents) and the Bharatam – ishaanya Bharatam  relation (same subcontinent) ? Sorry again, we can’t forget Humpty Dumpty’s criteria, can we?

I am tired of learning this heavy-burden white man’s concept – The Idea of India. Let me move on.

Foreign conquerors were no novelty in the subcontinent, whose northern plains had known successive waves of invaders from the tenth century onwards. For many, the British were not necessarily more alien than previous rulers. The latest invaders would, of course, always require their own soldiers too. But if the British could gain and keep a firm grip on such a vast landmass, it was because they could count on its multiple fragmentations – ethnic, linguistic, dynastic, social, confessional.

In other words, it is fait accompli that matters. Invaders are ok. Aryans invaded Dravidians too, and Dravidians invaded Mundas. Invasion is the continuum. See, the British gave us railways, roads, urbanity, sewage systems,  telegraph, cutlery, table manners and above all, English. Why don’t we let them off the hook?

Let us move on. Saar, saar, gora lefty master above says that Gandhi basically saturated the freedom movement with Hindu-ness. His congress party had 97% hindus.  There was no secularity (new term for me), it was all Nehru’s fantasy. What else could un-religious, urbane, down-the-hatch whiskey secularist Jinnah do, but

  1. raise the separatist Muslim flag ,
  2. wait for the opportunity called the Quit India movement,
  3. offer his Muslim league support to the British war effort and thus fill his vote banks with more Muslim separatists?
  4. call for direct action day, “India divided or India destroyed” etc, when push cameto shove?

Very understandable. This cranky faddist called Gandhi with his suspect celibacy experiments, loin-cloth in Buckingham palace, fasting, enema, goat’s milk etc is such a hindu saturationist.  How such an inferior intellect in contrast to position paper writer Dr. Ambedkar, still gets to win the Poona pact is beyond reason. It has to be the Asiatic backwardness of the masses, as Karl Marx says.

Look how brilliantly the enlightened gora teacher deconstructs this so-called Mahatma for us.

  1. Gandhi called of the Satyagraha after Chauri Chaura because violence had been perpetrated by his followers. Yet he was a volunteer for the Boer war, the Zulu crushing, the inter-imperialist slaughter in WWI and so on. So he was not always the apostle of non-violence.
  2. He would tell compatriots: ‘We have to take the risk of violence to shake off the great calamity of slavery.’ And a few months later: ‘Supposing a non-violent struggle has been started at my behest and later on there is an outbreak of violence, I will put up with that too, because it is God who is inspiring me and things will shape as He wills. If He wants to destroy the world through violence using me as His instrument, how can I prevent it?’
  3. He was not a hypocrite when he did all this, but always thought of himself as a semi-divine vehicle escaping the trammels of human logic and reason. How can a million-strong nation follow him. Beyond reason, right? Asiatic backwardness.
  4.  Hind Swaraj, its battery of archaisms a stumbling-block to those who pointed out that he was using railways and doctors and not actually rejecting schools, he defended to the end, writing in 1945 that he still stood by its system of government. … Throughout his career in India, he claimed both to rise above consistency – growing ‘from truth to truth’.

We Indian dimwits get the point. He should have played by the rules of European reason  and ideological frameworks, not this Asiatic voodoo. He cannot possibly be inventing a new grammar of mass communication, can he?  Especially now that we are adequately educated, and have thoroughly internalized what left, right and centre are supposed to be. How could ever have been such Luddites, waxing about the vedas, sanatana dharma, the yamas and the niyamas of Patanjali, asses that our ancestors were?

So Satyagraha did not avoid checkmate by the Raj. At the round table conference he is confronted by demands for separate sikh, muslim and untouchable electorates. He saw off the Ambedkar challenge through emotional blackmail, but others were a different kettle of meat-eaters. Thank Heavens for Jinnah.

When I can get more educated about orientalism, I will try to see if this gora saahib from the left has in-the-box thinking limitations, and (dare I say it) help him to rise above it.

Update: A scholarly rebuttal by Ananya Vajpeyi. Money quote – “…an only half-embarrassed defence of British imperialism and its century of colonial rule on the Indian subcontinent”. I wish she could flush him out even more.

Posted in Ideology | 3 Comments »

Why Indians were colonized

Posted by desicontrarian on July 13, 2010

We would not have been so impotent if our country had understood Krishna rightly. But we have covered our ugliness with beautiful words. Our cowardice is hiding behind our talk of non-violence; our fear of death is disguised by our opposition to war. But war is not going to end because we refuse to go to war. Our refusal becomes an invitation to others to wage war on us. War will not disappear because we refuse to fight; our refusal will only result in our slavery. And this is what has actually happened.
It is so ironic that, despite our opposition to war, we have been dragged into war again and again. First we refused to fight, then some external power attacked and occupied our country and made us into slaves, and then we were made to join our masters’ armies and fight in our masters’ wars. Wars were continuously waged, and we were continuously dragged into them. Sometimes we fought as soldiers of the Huns, then as soldiers to the Turks and Moghals and finally as soldiers for the British. Instead of fighting for for our own life and liberty we fought for the sake of our alien rulers and oppressors. We really fought for the sake of our slavery; we fought to prolong our enslavement. We spilled our blood and gave our lives only to defend our bondage, to continue to live in servitude. This has been the painful consequence of all our opposition to violence and war.
Osho Rajneesh In “Krishna”
I have been enchanted by Osho’s writings for a long time. His lectures on Zen Buddhism attracted me first. No one explained the unexplainable as well as he did. The quality of freshness was there in his words, like morning dew on a newly blooming flower.

The way he weaves in stories, parables, jokes (vulgar or sophisticated) into his themes are absorbing. There is never a dull moment in the passages. The lectures are actually answers to questions asked by various people in gatherings. They have been recorded and transcribed later.

The inspired insight in passages like these,  feels like a great truth. It cannot be empirically validated, and proved. Nevertheless, I remembered this passage when reading this remarkable study by Anuraag Sanghi.

I used to believe that our Anglophilia and slavish mentality was a result of the Macaulayite Education System. It is true enough, but what caused us to succumb to it in such a wholesale manner – slavishness above and beyond the call of Macaulay 😦  ? What is the force that continues in our collective mind?

Many people have gone deeper into it and found causes in the recesses of our collective mind. The Saraswathi-like insights of   Ms. Bachelet comes to mind.  I do not find any one to compare in depth of root cause analysis on this question.

Yet I am undecided. As a fan of Bhagwan Buddha, I am uncomfortable with a rather strident and negative view of Him as the cause of this decline. Sometimes he is described as a Ruse of the Supreme in the line of 10 Avatars of Vishnu. Sometimes even as a Deluder – which actually describes  Maara in traditional Buddhism! These words are unfortunate, to say the least.  It seems to me that the idea of The Buddha as an opponent of Vedic Hinduism is at work here. I don’t agree with that view. I think that He  found that the Vedas were being ritualized, and Knowledge was becoming  fossilized  under the priesthood.  So any mention of the Vedic truths would have  been trapped in the same mind set.  Thus it was wise to refrain from commenting on the Vedas. He was never against the Higher Hinduism and the Doctrine of Atman. Shoonya Vaada and the Doctrine of Non-Self was an invention of the later Buddhists. This cannot be held against Him.

Posted in History, Ideology, Philosophy | 2 Comments »

Nuclear dilemma 3

Posted by desicontrarian on June 6, 2009

My pen-friend didn’t like it! He wrote again.

” Earth is better off without us” – That’s being extremely fatalistic. What do we care for an earth without us? 

So I wrote back.

Before I was born, I had a family. My family tree comes before me, and will live on long after I’m gone. I am going to die one day. I am not fatalistic about it. Its a fact. But my family tree will go on. Its life span is far greater than me, an individual leaf. My family tree is part of a bigger community. This community was there before my family tree, and may live on long after my family tree comes to an end. Continue this line of thought.

My nation is bigger than my community, and will outlast the community. My species is bigger than my nation. Life is bigger than my species. And the place where Life started, The Earth, is bigger than Life itself. So the Earth is needed, even if my species is not there! This is not fatalism, just a way of looking which is not Anthropocentric. Its called a Bio-centric view.

This is just like saying that the body of a living being is bigger than its cells, tissues, organs, and systems functioning within – like the skeletal system, muscular system, circulatory system, glandular system & nervous system. True, some organs are all-important, like the heart, the lungs & the brain. But the body can exist even without some of these. In the same way, I consider that each human being as a leaf of the branch called Humanity, and each species, as a branch in the tree called Life. And this tree in turn is a part of The Earth, which also contains Non-life.

So, when visionaries like Lovelock talk of Gaia, this is what I think they mean. The Earth is a Living, Breathing Entity. In the film “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore clearly shows how this breathing cycle works. Seasons occur because of it. The absorption of carbon dioxide by the planet’s plants and its photosynthesis into oxygen forms part of the cycle of breathing. Even the layers of the Earth’s atmosphere are akin to the three breathing lobes of our chest. A NASA satellite has observed a “breathing,” an expansion and contraction, of the Earth’s upper atmosphere in response to periodic, high-speed solar winds. The northern hemisphere contains most of the vegetation on the Earth’s land mass. When this hemisphere is tilted to The Sun in the spring & summer, the leaves come out and breathe in the CO2. The amount of the CO2 in the atmosphere goes down, because of photosynthesis. But when the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, in the autumn and winter, the leaves fall out, exhale the CO2, and is amount in the atmosphere goes up. The Earth thus inhales & exhales once a year!

Suns’s radiation comes to the Earth in the form of light waves. This radiation heats up the earth. Some of this is absorbed and the rest is reflected back into space in the form of infra-red rays. Some of this outgoing radiation is trapped by the earth’s atmosphere and warms it. This keeps the temperatures on earth within livable boundaries.

What has now happened is the thickening of the outer layer of the atmosphere due to industrial and other forms of pollution. The greenhouse gases. A constriction in the outer circle of the Earth’s atmosphere which traps carbon-di-oxide and the radiation inside and does not allow it to escape into space. The result is Global warming.

Its as though The Earth has a fever. It has had such fevers before, in cycles of 100,000 years. I believe that The Ice Age followed the last fever. The Earth will outlive the fever, come out better and start the next attempt at incubating new forms of Life.

Thats not a fatalistic view at all! Its just that this view is grander than our small lives, and understandably lead us into “What do we care for an earth without us? “.

Posted in Public affairs, Science | Leave a Comment »

Nuclear dilemma 2

Posted by desicontrarian on June 6, 2009

My pen friend, who resembles me (ideologically) at a younger age, wrote.

You have quoted from authentic texts about the environmental hazards of nuclear plants.

Then you concluded that ” I was against nuclear energy earlier but now I am not sure now”

Why this this uncertainty?  There is a world wide publicity bombardment putting forth the thesis that nuclear energy is solution to world’s energy crisis. This propaganda through politicians,  academics,  scientists,  media & what have you – is mainly sponsored by nuclear plant/technology manufacturers’ lobby,  who invested huge money in nuclear research & out creating market for their letahl ware.

India bought that propaganda hook, line & stinker recently. They must have done lot of ‘educating’ the wogs a la Enron.

My answer:

There are always at least 2 sides to any question. I always try not to see only one side. Even in this kind if “Qayamat”, there are no easy answers.

Please read what an Earth-lover and leading climate scientist has to say on the current energy crisis – here and here.

Bottom line. Too many people, too much greed, too much consumption, too little energy. The Earth is better off without us. Irresistible force meets immovable object.

Posted in Public affairs, Science | Leave a Comment »

Nuclear energy – do we need it?

Posted by desicontrarian on June 6, 2009

Extracts from “The Turning point” by Fritjof Capra.
Begin extract.
—————
1. Only ten to twenty pounds of plutonium are required lo make a bomb, and each nuclear reactor produces four hundred to five hundred pounds of plutonium annually, enough for twenty to fifty atomic bombs. Through plutonium, reactor technology and weapons technology have become inseparably linked.
2. Politicians in Third World countries often welcome nuclear technology, however, because it gives them a chance to use it for building nuclear weapons. By the end of the century dozens of countries will possess enough nuclear material to manufacture bombs of their own, and we can expect those countries to copy the American patterns of behavior and use their nuclear power to make aggressive threats.
3. The health hazards of nuclear power are of an ecological nature and operate on an extremely large scale, both in space and in time. Nuclear power plants, and military facilities release radioactive substances that contaminate the environment, thus affecting all living organisms, including humans. The effects are not immediate but gradual, and they are accumulating to more dangerous levels all the time. In the human organism these substances contaminate the internal environment with many medium- and long term consequences, Cancer tends to develop after ten to forty years, and genetic diseases can appear in future generations. 4. In the process of producing energy from nuclear power, both the workers in the nuclear industry and the whole natural environment are contaminated with radioactive substances at every step of the ‘fuel cycle.’ This cycle begins with the mining, milling, and enrichment of uranium, continues with the fabrication of fuel rods and the operation and maintenance of the reactor, and ends with the handling and storage or reprocessing of nuclear waste. The radioactive substances that escape into the environment at every stage of this process emit particles – alpha particles,(Alpha particles are compounds of two protons and two neutrons. ) electrons, or protons – that can be highly energetic, penetrating the skin and damaging body cells. Radioactive substances can also be ingested with contaminated food or water and will then do their damage from within.
5. Another major problem of nuclear power is the disposal of nuclear waste. Each reactor annually produces tons of radioactive waste that remains toxic for thousands of vears. Plutonium, the most dangerous of the radioactive byproducts, is also the most long-lived; it remains poisonous for at least 500,000 years. (The half-life of plutonium (Pu-239) – the time after which one-half of a given quantity has decayed – is 24,400 years. This means chat if one gram of plu ionium is released into the environment, about one-millionth of a gram will be left after 500,000 years, a quantity which is minute but still toxic.) It is difficult to grasp the enormous length of this time span, which far exceeds the length of time we are used to contemplating within our individual lifetimes, or within the lifetime of a society, nation, or civilization. Half million years is more than one hundred times longer than all of recorded history. It is a time span fifty times longer than that from the end of the Ice Age to the present day, and more than ten times longer than our entire existence as humans with our present physical characteristics.(The ancestors of the European races are usually identified with the Cro-Magnon race, which appeared about 30,000 years ago and possessed all modern skeletal characteristics, including the large brain.) This is the length of time that plutonium must be isolated from the environment. What moral right do we have to leave such a deadly legacy to thousands and thousands of generations?
————-
End of extract.
Arundhati Roy also wrote eloquently about this in “The End of Imagination”. 
I was against nuclear energy earlier, but now I am not so sure. James Lovelock, the leading scientist and father of the Gaia movement, now prefers nuclear energy to fossil fuels. The main problem seems to be the human demand for unsustainable amounts of energy.

I used to read a lot of counter-culture books as a student.  Of course,  mostly Anglo-American. A high-impact book was  “The Turning point”  by Fritjof Capra.  After that, I became an ardent anti-nuclearist! This was nearly 25 years ago. I still think it is a profound book, better than his cult best-seller “The Tao of Physics”.

Here he is on nuclear energy in chapter 8 –  “The dark side of growth” .

1. Only ten to twenty pounds of plutonium are required lo make a bomb, and each nuclear reactor produces four hundred to five hundred pounds of plutonium annually, enough for twenty to fifty atomic bombs. Through plutonium, reactor technology and weapons technology have become inseparably linked.

2. Politicians in Third World countries often welcome nuclear technology, however, because it gives them a chance to use it for building nuclear weapons. By the end of the century dozens of countries will possess enough nuclear material to manufacture bombs of their own, and we can expect those countries to copy the American patterns of behavior and use their nuclear power to make aggressive threats.

3. The health hazards of nuclear power are of an ecological nature and operate on an extremely large scale, both in space and in time. Nuclear power plants, and military facilities release radioactive substances that contaminate the environment, thus affecting all living organisms, including humans. The effects are not immediate but gradual, and they are accumulating to more dangerous levels all the time. In the human organism these substances contaminate the internal environment with many medium- and long term consequences, Cancer tends to develop after ten to forty years, and genetic diseases can appear in future generations. 4. In the process of producing energy from nuclear power, both the workers in the nuclear industry and the whole natural environment are contaminated with radioactive substances at every step of the ‘fuel cycle.’ This cycle begins with the mining, milling, and enrichment of uranium, continues with the fabrication of fuel rods and the operation and maintenance of the reactor, and ends with the handling and storage or reprocessing of nuclear waste. The radioactive substances that escape into the environment at every stage of this process emit particles – alpha particles,(Alpha particles are compounds of two protons and two neutrons. ) electrons, or protons – that can be highly energetic, penetrating the skin and damaging body cells. Radioactive substances can also be ingested with contaminated food or water and will then do their damage from within.

5. Another major problem of nuclear power is the disposal of nuclear waste. Each reactor annually produces tons of radioactive waste that remains toxic for thousands of vears. Plutonium, the most dangerous of the radioactive byproducts, is also the most long-lived; it remains poisonous for at least 500,000 years. (The half-life of plutonium (Pu-239) – the time after which one-half of a given quantity has decayed – is 24,400 years. This means chat if one gram of plutonium is released into the environment, about one-millionth of a gram will be left after 500,000 years, a quantity which is minute but still toxic.) It is difficult to grasp the enormous length of this time span, which far exceeds the length of time we are used to contemplating within our individual lifetimes, or within the lifetime of a society, nation, or civilization. Half million years is more than one hundred times longer than all of recorded history. It is a time span fifty times longer than that from the end of the Ice Age to the present day, and more than ten times longer than our entire existence as humans with our present physical characteristics.(The ancestors of the European races are usually identified with the Cro-Magnon race, which appeared about 30,000 years ago and possessed all modern skeletal characteristics, including the large brain.) This is the length of time that plutonium must be isolated from the environment. What moral right do we have to leave such a deadly legacy to thousands and thousands of generations?

Arundhati Roy also wrote eloquently about this in “The End of Imagination“.

However, I was against nuclear energy earlier, but now I am not so sure. James Lovelock, the leading scientist and father of the Gaia movement, now prefers nuclear energy to fossil fuels. The main problem seems to be the human demand for unsustainable amounts of energy.

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Secular syncretism – half-baked patch-works

Posted by desicontrarian on June 5, 2009

Justice Katju has undertaken a cultural  initiative. He has started a Kalidas-Ghalib Academy to foster cultural understanding. It looks like a secular, Nehruvian mind-set to me, without an inkling of religious feeling behind it.

This is my reaction to it.

1. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”  (I wonder who said that).

2. a)The underlying axioms are invalid.

b) There was no Aryan Invasion of India. Aryans were indigenous to India.

c) Thus India has only historically recently become a “country of immigrants”.

d) This is typical of modern intellectuals, looking to define India as another America.

e) Similar false analogies are there between American black movements (black panthers) and Dalit movements (Dalit Panthers). Can these intellectuals never be original? Do they have to borrow all ideas from Anglos or Americans, even if black?

3. a) Ghalib was a worldly drunkard.

b) He was not in the same class as Omar Khayaam, Rumi and Amir Khusro.

c) Whenever he used the word Nasha, it meant alcohol-induced.

d) Not so with the others. They meant divine intoxication, caused by meditation practices.

e) This is the true unity of religions, authentic sufism is close to vaishnavism, sikhism and bhakthi movements.

4. a) However, the content on Akbar is interesting and largely true. Some new information is there.

b) My quibble is about calling him the greatest of them all, and founder of modern secularism! Secularism is about separation of religin and state, whereas din-e-elahi was about finding the One True Emperor!

c) What about Asoka, Vikramaaditya, Bhoja, Kanishka, Harsha Vardhana, Raja raja Chola, Krishna Deva Raya and so on? Such comparisons wiil turn out to be as foolish as Outlook and Filmfare awards for lifetime achievements.

5. a) Industrial development is not a satisfactory answer to the problem of poverty. It pollutes the environment.

b) We need to find other ways to get rid of poverty, perhaps by reducing the value of being rich?

c) The quality of living in out mega-cities is much worse than rural and semi-rural towns. Cities have much less time and much more stress than towns.

6. a) Divisiveness is a product of the competitive processes in a democratic setup.

b) Politicians, intellectuals & ideologues need to mobilize people on their behalf, in support of their views and agendas.

c) Dividing people into ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ is a time-honoured, universal way to climb the ladder of power.

d) The constitution of India was not organically developed from our soil. It is a foreign graft & is part of the problem, not the solution. It is not a good vehicle for the expression of our spirit.

7. The intention of the initiative is good, but secularists should be aware of the possibility that the opposite may be achieved, due to faulty assumptions and paradigms!

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Industrialization and development – harmful?

Posted by desicontrarian on June 5, 2009

Justice Markandeya Katju is writing a lot these days, quite thoughtfully.

…and for that it is necessary to have a high degree of industrialization….. It can only come from a highly developed industry, and it is industrialization alone which can generate the wealth we need for the welfare of our people…. It is industrialization alone which can abolish poverty and unemployment….

A) If you look at the ecology/environmental problem:

1. Average Indian Carbon Foot Print (tonnes per year) = 1.2 Average worldwide CFP = 4 Middle-class CFP = 9.23 (6000 kwh Electricity, 200 litres LPG, 1 car with 15 km/litre, bus/rail/taxi 2000 km p.a., vegetarian, a little organic food, some shopping & movies). Average Industrial national citizen CFP = 11 (Source)

2. Global warming is real, potentially catastrophic, and human-caused.

3. The Keeling curve, measuring CO2 from the Mauna Loa Observatory, shows exponential increase in CO2 levels in the last 5 decades.

4. The retreat of numerous glaciers, prominently Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa & Gangotri in the Himalayas, are dramatic, nearly catastrophic.

5. A study by researchers at the Physics Institute at the University of Bern and the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica presenting data from Antarctic ice cores showing carbon dioxide concentrations higher than at any time during the past 650,000 years!

6. Temperature record since 1880 showing that the ten hottest years ever measured in this atmospheric record have all occurred in the last fourteen years. 7. A 2004 survey by Naomi Oreskes of 928 peer-reviewed scientific articles on global climate change published between 1993 and 2003. The survey, published as an editorial in the journal Science, found that every article either supported the human-caused global warming consensus or did not comment on it.

(Source).

B) If you look at the remove-poverty goal:

1. India’s economy must grow at 8 percent per year for the next 25 years in order to lift the bottom 40 percent of its people to a decent standard of living. India is falling behind in achieving it Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty due to persistent energy shortages. “Energy is central for development. Our energy consumption must go up,” says a minister. Today India uses 471 million tons oil equivalent (MTOE) of energy each year of which 327 MTOE is primary commercial energy. The rest comes from burning traditional biomass. In order to achieve its poverty reduction goals, India needs to grow its energy supplies by 4.3 to 5.1 percent per year and to consume 1536 to 1887 MTOE by 2031.

2. India’s current total primary energy supply (TPES) per capita energy use with other countries. TPES per capita is calculated as the energy equivalent of the amount of oil in kilograms (kgoe) a person consumes per year. In China the amount is 1090 kgoe, Brazil 1094, Denmark 3852, UK 3906, US 7835, Japan 4052, and the world average per capita energy use is 1688. Where does India stand? The average Indian consumes the equivalent of 439 kilograms of oil. The eight percent annual economic growth that Sethi hopes India will experience over the quarter century would mean that the average Indian would be consuming between 1065 and 1279 kgoe in 2031. That’s about what the average Chinese uses now and is only 70 percent of world’s current per capita average.

3. India could cut projected CO2 emissions between 2012 and 2017 by 550 million tons at an additional cost of $25 billion for more energy efficient technologies.

4. Even after implementing the most efficient energy conservation technologies over the next 25 years, India will still be emitting 4 times more CO2 in 2031 than it does today.

(Source).

So:

“There is enough on Earth for every man’s need, but not for every man’s greed” (Mahatma Gandhi).

“…a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad it had forgotten its name, which is located beside a mournful sea full of glumfish, which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy.  This city is thickly populated by people, of whom only Haroun and his parents are ever happy, while in the north of the city are factories wherein sadness is manufactured and exported. The factories produce air pollution that is only relieved during the monsoon,….”. (Haroun Rashid & the sea of stories).

I think Justice Katju has a rather one-sided view of the problem. The human being has become a burden to the earth. When the smaller populations of the rich North have caused this much havoc, he wants the huge populations of India & China to do order-of-magnitude more damage. I think it may be too late to stop the deluge.

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Godless happiness?

Posted by desicontrarian on June 5, 2009

Phil Zuckerman in Outlook magazine (4 Feb 2009).

In clean and green Scandinavia, few people speak of God, few people spend much time thinking about theological matters, and although their media in recent years has done an unusually large amount of reporting on religion, even that is offered as an attempt to grapple with and make sense of a strange foreign phenomenon out there in the wider world that refuses to disappear, a phenomenon that takes on such dire significance for everyone — except, well, for Danes and Swedes.

What are societies like when faith in God is minimal, church attendance is drastically low, and religion is a distinctly muted and marginal aspect of everyday life?

Although they may have relatively high rates of petty crime and burglary, and although these crime rates have been on the rise in recent decades, their overall rates of violent crime — including murder, aggravated assault, and rape — are among the lowest on earth.

But aren’t they a dour, depressed lot, all the same? Not according to Ruut Veenhoven, professor emeritus of social conditions for human happiness at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Veenhoven is a leading authority on worldwide levels of happiness from country to country. He recently ranked 91 nations on an international happiness scale, basing his research on cumulative scores from numerous worldwide surveys. According to his calculations, the country that leads the globe — ranking No. 1 in terms of its residents’ overall level of happiness — is little, peaceful, and relatively godless Denmark.

I have lived in a Scandinavian country for more than a decade. The main character of these people is their lack of excitability. The darkness and dampness through most of the year makes outdoor activities leading to crime are low.

But domestic strife, divorce, suicide and separation are high. They do not beat their children, which is good. But they do not let a new-born infant lie for a few days at-least next to the mother, as it invades her sexual privacy rights! The child is left in another room, with an electronic alert whenever she cries, so that the infant can be attended to. They use modern plastic diapers for their children, and do not regularly change the diapers. I think Indians, who leave their infants free of underwear, and clean them with water whenever they soil themselves, are more eco-frindly and sensitive.

The criteria of happiness used in the Veenhoven survey: 1) Freedom – Political & economic 2) Happiness – as expressed by themselves. If you read the survey you’ll see the extraverted and temporal nature of the questions.

One can easily see that these happy people actually equate material well-being with happiness. Material well-being is a fortunate circumstance, because these small populations have a lot of natural wealth. It is the opposite of what Malthus described. Take that away, and the Scandinavians would become another unhappy people of the world.

Selecting what you want to see is a great human habit. If I now select Tibet, I will see a different type of happiness.

Tibet is a nation in exile. It was not part of the above-mentioned survey. They are a poor nation. They have waged a non-violent struggle for independence which shows that they are the children of the Mahatma. They do not have material well-being like the Scandinavians. Their upbringing teaches the transience of material prosperity. They study the nature of their own minds. They contemplate mental virtues & vices. They research death, and prepare for it throughout their lives. And they are a happy people, even in exile and adversity!

See this article for more depth on the nature of happiness. Here is a better link.

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