Notes – Why does Anish Kapoor support delinquent NGOs

Saw an article in the Guardian by Anish Kapoor about “India being ruled by a Hindu Taliban.” In the article he mentions with great angst,

Nine thousand NGOs have been “de-registered” in a concerted effort to force out these “nuisance” groups … (quotation marks are from the article)

Every time I see a number being tossed around, I like to understand what the denominator is. That is, how many total NGOs are there in India, and what percentage do these 9,000 represent. Continue reading “Notes – Why does Anish Kapoor support delinquent NGOs”

Satyagraha – Resistance by Muslim Women

muslim school girls with veils in Daulatabad Arun ShanbhagRecently I saw this short news article about Muslim women in UK choosing to wear the veil in public.  These are young (presumably educated) Muslim women who choose to declare allegiance to their faith, despite the rising violence against identifiable Muslims. (pic is of school girls in Daulatabad from my earlier trip.)

This act of peaceful resistance by the Muslim women is a beautiful example of satyagraha, which Gandhi exemplified as he forced the British to leave India. This is not very different than the protests that have gripped the predominantly minority town of Ferguson, MO facing a violently racist, civil & police administration. But notice how subtly the young women in UK are making their stand.

It is definitely easier to bow to societal norms and subdue their (our) faith, but these young women show true courage by standing up to society and going about their lives.

Particularly those of us living away from ourr homeland, there is a constant tussle to retain your identify and yet conform. Can you give me examples of how people show such resistance? We don’t have to have our heads bashed in by British troops to make a point, but can stand up to our beliefs in our own peaceful way.

Despite eating most meats when I was in India, I chose to be predominantly vegetarian in the US. I admire the women who chose to wear the bindi in the US.

Give me more examples from your life.

Buddha’s Tooth, Peter’s Bones and Jesuit Pope’s Hypocrisy

pic of Buddha from the RijksMuseum posted by Arun ShanbhagCirca 1560 CE
Portuguese forces based in Goa, India, raided the town of Jaffnapatam, Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka). They looted the temples and pagodas and torched the town. One of the items they stole was a reliquary containing a tooth of Buddha – the Enlightened One.

The Buddhist community was distraught and the King of Pegu (present day Myannmar) sent an ambassaor to Goa and offered to pay an astronomical ransom of 300,000 – 400,000 cruzados for the return of the sacred relic. The Portuguese Viceroy of Goa, Constantino de Braganza was inclined to accept the ransom and return the tooth. He argued it would help with the States needs. Strenuous discussion between the political and religious groups, primarily the Jesuit priests took place in Goa during the spring of 1561. Continue reading “Buddha’s Tooth, Peter’s Bones and Jesuit Pope’s Hypocrisy”

Norway is Kidnapping Indian Children

Update, March 19, 2012: More than a month after agreeing to transfer custody of the children to the children’s uncle, the kids still languish in Norway’s foster care system. Indian politicians are headed to Norway to participate in the custody hearings. Norway should be fined a million dollars a day for holding the kids hostage. That should get them to return the kids promptly.

And shame on other European countries for not calling on Norway to return the kids immediately. By being quiet on this issue, the European Union is condoning such atrocities in Europe. Continue reading “Norway is Kidnapping Indian Children”

How to Smackdown a Journalist, President Obama Style

From President Barack Obama’s new Conference on Wednesday June 29, 2011.

Here is what transpired during the Q&A. I think President Obama gave a polite but firm reply to Ms Meckler. Tell me what you think in the poll below.

Laura Meckler of The Wall Street Journal: Thank you, Mr. President. … And I’d also like to follow up on one of your earlier answers about same-sex marriage. You said that it’s a positive step that so many states, including New York, are moving towards that. Does that mean that you personally now do support same-sex marriage, putting aside what individual states decide? Is that your personal view?

Mr Obama: I’m not going to make news on that today. (Laughter.) Good try, though.

Follow-up by Laura Meckler: I’m sorry, I know you don’t want to say anything further on the same-sex marriage issue, but what you said before really led me to believe that that’s what is in your personal mind. And I’m wondering what’s the distinction you’re drawing.

Mr. Obama: Laura, I think this has been asked and answered. I’ll keep on giving you the same answer until I give you a different one, all right? And that won’t be today. (Laughter.)

Ms Meckler: That’s going to be — (inaudible.)

Mr Obama: Yes, exactly. I thought you’d like that one. (Laughter.)

Added in Revision:
Mark Halperin of MSNBC apparently did NOT like President Obama’s news conference, made a derogatory slur and was suspended indefinitely.

Sitting on the set of “Morning Joe,” Mr. Halperin smiled mischievously as he disparaged Mr. Obama’s behavior at a news conference a day earlier. “I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday,” Mr. Halperin said.

Poll: In which country does this happen

It was depressing to see the Government of India, a beacon of democratic aspirations in Asia, act like a repressive monarchy, attacking peaceful citizen protesters. This is simply NOT done! And the gall of the ministers to justify their actions!

Time for a shaming poll. Take this poll and send a strong message to the secular fundamentalist Congress Party in India.

Video: Embrace Life

As you get ready for the Holidays, here is a British public service announcement encouraging riders to wear seat belts. WoW! What a beautifully executed video!

Not boring and no scare tactics here; just beautiful acting and the full play of emotions. A tear was ready to well up in my eyes. Stunning!

Video produced by the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, UK.

Poll: Who is letting India down?

After 63 years of Indian Independence, there is a sense amongst Indians and even the rest of the world, that India is not living up to its potential ‘completely.’ There is a lot more it could have done, but is unable to get it done.

What is the reason for this? Who is letting India down?

Pragati – Revisiting Indian History

pragati Indian historyNow is such an exciting time for Indian History! New technologies from satellite imaging to DNA sequencing are bringing scientific curiosity to the understanding of our ancient history.

The latest findings are typically scattered in scientific journals and archaeological reports. In history books I find a sad disconnect between what they are still parroting and the latest findings. Thus it was such a joy to see the latest issue of Pragati, dedicated to early Indian History.

Nitin Pai, an Editor of Pragati, who blogs at Acorn, has done a masterful job of collecting related topics in one issue. Nitin was magnanimous in writing here a short introduction to Pragati: A Sense of History. He has also given permission to have the complete issue of Pragati available here as a PDF. Previous issues are available for download at Pragati.

Enjoy this issue of Pragati!
Continue reading “Pragati – Revisiting Indian History”

Immigrants Improve US Productivity

Is Immigration Good for America?

Depending on their ideology and incomplete data, politicians, media, unions, and technology companies espouse disparate views. A recently published, detailed economic impact study, sheds a clarifying light on the productivity of immigrants compared to the native American population.
Continue reading “Immigrants Improve US Productivity”

Surgeon falsifies research on soldiers injured in Iraq war

Update: May 22, 2009
Dr Kuklo has taken a leave of absence from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Update: May 19, 2009
US Senator Charles Grassley has opened an inquiry into Dr T Kuklo and his financial relations with Medtronic.

It is depressing to see medical doctors, who are also paid consultants to drug companies falsifying research data. From a NYTimes article Army Disputes Doctor’s Claim in Study of Injured.

A former Army, Orthopaedic surgeon, operating at the reputed Walter Reed Army Medical Center, created a ghost population of soldiers wounded in Iraq. Then fabricated data on their treatment with rhBMP-2 (recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein – 2). The doctor forged signatures of co-authors and published the manuscript in a reputed peer-reviewed journal (Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery – Br Edition). The surgeon was a paid consultant for Medtronic, which also makes and markets the rhBMP-2.
Continue reading “Surgeon falsifies research on soldiers injured in Iraq war”

Charlie Chaplin in Rural India

Movie directors will go to any ‘height’ to seek publicity. One Hemnath Hegde wants to install a 62-foot statue of Charlie Chaplin as the backdrop for two Kannada movie song sequences. He wants to offer that as a permanent contribution to rural Karnataka and hopefully get into the Guiness Book of World Records.

When locals complain they don’t want this 62-ft statue of someone who they don’t even know in their town, the director stokes fires of Hindu-Christian antagonism. Get real, Mr Movie Director!

Has the director considered disposable materials to make his statue and dismantling it just like he’d any studio set? And really, just because he wants to get in the Guiness Book of World Records, doesn’t mean he can run roughshod over local community sentiments.

Would you want your rural landscape marred by a 62-ft Charlie Chaplin ogling down at you every morning? (Please take poll below.) This is approximately the height of a 5-storey building in an area where the average houses are single storeys. Ooops, he wants to place this statue on a popular beach, near the entrance to a temple! This is about common sense and nothing to do with religion.

The equivalent would be if a movie director wanted to place a 62-ft statue of Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan on Myrtle Beach in South Carolina! Not going to happen!

Mr Movie director, please take your statue somewhere else, and really, we are NOT going to watch your movie either! 🙂

Changing topics.
Wish more Indians will focus on important issues facing our children. A recent article in the NYTimes, reports that child malnutrition rates in India are worse than in some sub-saharan African countries.

“In China, … just 7 percent of its children under 5 are underweight, a critical gauge of malnutrition. In India, by contrast, despite robust growth and good government intentions, the comparable number is 42.5 percent. Malnutrition makes children more prone to illness and stunts physical and intellectual growth for a lifetime.”

Sadly, the elite Indian media and bloggers are silent on this travesty and wasting ink on the statue!

Mumbai Blasts: One Month On

Its been a month, but seems like only yesterday that I woke to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai! So many vigils, memorials, speeches and even some saber rattling! But really, what is different?

Other than a few cosmetic changes, the same incompetent and corrupt politicians are running the show. Condi Rice made a trip and gave some stern warnings. Pakistan blows smoke! India, the supposedly emerging super power, appears impotent! Folks are getting back to their daily grind. The traffic is still horrible and Chalta Hai rules!

Just returned to winter in Boston, after an all consuming trip to India. Still catching up on my emails, but the snow has been cleared from the driveway! Organizing my pics is a big chore, made easier by munching on delicious mithai (sweets) we brought back.

Created a summary of my Mumbai Blast posts and it is now a top-level TAB: Mumbai Blasts! on my home page. Was surprised at the attention the blog got during the Mumbai blasts. Thanks to all my friends and you readers who directed my attention to the various mentions in the main-stream media. I have listed (and linked) to all media at the Mumbai Blasts! TAB. If you know of others, kindly send me a link.

Appreciate the kinds words that many friends and even complete strangers shared via comments and emails over the last month. I treasure them all and as I reread many comments, I am overwhelmed by the kindness of so many. We humans have such a magnificent capacity for love and compassion. Yet, some humans, inhumans actually, can be so cruel. Verily, tragedy brings us closer; but does it require a tragedy?

Soon I hope to get back to my regular postings on delicious foods, exotic travels and beautiful people. And soon too, I will start to visit your blogs and read your latest happenings.

Hope your Holidays have been as blessedly beautiful as ours has been!

And since you have made it so far: This is my 400th post! Yaay!

Comment: Justifying Citizen Journalists

Columbia Journalism posted a discussion: How Should Journalists use Twitter?

Their Staff Writer Megan Garber critiqued a few of my tweets. Some of the criticisms were justified, others were, in my opinion, unstudied. Below, I have transcribed Ms Garber’s comments and my response.
Continue reading “Comment: Justifying Citizen Journalists”

New President Elect Obama

We woke up to a new President Elect! An historic step, all the more in contrast to the disastrous, preceding eight years.

This is a time of two ongoing wars and terrorists are still out there waiting for a softening. The economy is in tatters and the country in at least 10 trillion dollars in debt. The hard part of governing now begins.

Negative attacks are common place on both sides leading up to the election. And Rudy Giuliani said it well last night. Before the elections we are Republicans or Democrats, but “after the elections we are all Americans!” The people have spoken! It is time to be an American!

We are all Americans!

Added in Revision:
It was heartening to see sooo many Indians, Canadians, Europeans, Kenyans, Latinos and everyone the world over, hoping for an American Victory! To me this proves that America is still the beacon, leading the way. And disproves what the declinist Zakharia and his ilk refer to as the post-american world. Prolly, they confused America with the “Bush America!”

Sacred Places

pic of Dev Bara Karo at the Madgaon Train Station by Arun Shanbhag

It is sad that in India, places of worship are being targeted to achieve political ends, or vent frustrations. This is absolutely wrong! Temples, churches, mosques, and all other places of worship are sacred and should not be pawns in political movements. People should feel empowered to use objective fora to address grievances. Politicians! Make it happen and stop using these incidents to advance narrow political gains!

In an attempt to address the grievances, the Karnataka state government blames “the flow of foreign funds,” for conversion of Hindus into Christianity.
Continue reading “Sacred Places”

Reading: Wide Angle Lens

A few interesting things. Lets start with wine!

  • An eco-smart alternative to the wine bottle.
  • Slideshow: “Making French Rabbit’s New Eco-Smart Wine Bottle,” Fast Company.

    Seeing this feature in Fast Company, I tried French Rabbit’s Cabernet Sauvignon. Fantastic and it goes superbly well with my grilled salmon. Importantly, a tetra pack has 1 L wine compared to 750 ml of a regular bottle and it was inexpensive ~ $7.99! Our guests loved it too!

    See more reviews here.

  • Plain vanilla gets you to your retirement goals faster!
  • Made to Stick: The Myth of Mutual Funds | Fast Company.

    These authors of the bestseller, Made to Stick, remind us why investing in Vanguard’s S&P 500 Index fund is the way to go! And don’t be mesmerized by the glib talking financial advisers, who are looking after their own retirement! Make money for yourself, not for the financial adviser!

  • AdventNet’s Sridhar Vembu: Deflating IT
  • So fabulous to see Sridhar Vembu featured in The Economist.
    AdventNet’s Sridhar Vembu | The Economist.

    “SRIDHAR VEMBU is a dangerous man. If he succeeds, a lot of people will lose a lot of money: software developers, consultants, shareholders and others. The chief executive of AdventNet does not have fraud in mind. Instead, he wants to remove what he calls the “value-pad” from corporate IT in general and business software in particular: all those millions of dollars he thinks are wasted on inefficient production structures, marketing and, not least, proprietary standards. “In the world of corporate IT”, he says, “the low-cost revolution is very much unfinished business.”

  • Racist policies of the LPGA
  • The recent policy of the LPGA, that all players pass an oral english test was rightly criticized. From the New York Times: Editorial – A Bad Idea From the LPGA.

    The LPGA has since revised its policy: L.P.G.A. Will Revise Its Policy on English –, but as the following quote from their Deputy Commissioner suggests, they just don’t get it!

    “In an interview with The New York Times last week, Libba Galloway, the deputy commissioner of the L.P.G.A., defended the policy and said the suspension penalty was fundamental to it.

    “…, this is puzzling to us because we think we are ensuring that our membership is better equipped to succeed by having them effectively communicate in English,” she said. “We are equipping them with the necessary tools for maximizing their potential off-course earning opportunities. The suspension demonstrates the importance we are placing on effective communication in English.”

    Nearly half a millennia ago, when the Portuguese butchered and forcibly converted the Konkanis in Goa, their rationale was similar: “They don’t know it yet, we are just saving their souls!”

    Centuries later when the British colonized India, their rationale was similar, “we are bringing culture and civilization to these savages.”

    And similarly in Iraq: We have to destroy them to save them!

Reclaiming India

An interesting Editorial in the Times of India, by Tarun Vijay. I particularly liked his rebuttal to Omar Abdullah,

But he must stop to think why he can own a bungalow in Delhi or Bangalore and at the same time deny that privilege to a fellow Indian in Kashmir?

Do you think our elite, secular fundamentalists will brand him a patriot?

Yoga Bashing by Christians, Again

Why is it that Christians hate Yoga so much? First the catholic church bans yoga for toddlers; now this.

According to a report in the DNA, Father Jeremy Davies, an ordained priest in the UK argues in his new book,

“yoga puts people at risk from devils and the occult is closely associated with the scourges of “drugs, demonic music and pornography” which’re “destroying millions of young people in our time”.

Certainly, in the throes of agony getting into the Parivrtta Trikonasana, I have wondered, what has gotten into me to attempt these contortions. Never realized that the demons must have possessed me. See, Davies’ book is published by the Catholic Truth Society (my italics), so it must be true.

Oh, the esteemed priest is himself an exorcist. Do you think it is possible that after a lifetime trying to exorcise demons, he himself may be affected?

Davies continues, “… young people especially are vulnerable and we must do what we can to protect them.” Hmmm. I was going to say something about the rampant pedophilia in the catholic dioceses in the US, but I shouldn’t. It is time for me to get into Shavasana.

Church bans yoga for toddlers as un-Christian

From The Times of London:
A children’s exercise class has been banned from two church halls because it is teaching yoga. The group has been turned away by vicars who described yoga as a sham and un-Christian.

… It’s crazy because we’re talking about kids pretending to be animals and doing exercise routines to rhymes.

More here
WoW! Talk about being narrow minded.

The second comment on the article, reflects my thinking.
So what the Rev Tim Jones is saying is that having a calm mind is un-Christian, and will turn people into Hindus.
Andrew, Leicester,

Since I love yoga, I must be innately Hindu!
*in anjali mudra* Namaskar!

Siegel on the Indian Rupee

Here is part of a Q&A with Wharton finance professor Jeremy Siegel. Interesting discussion on the trends in the Emerging markets, the US economy and else.

Here Siegel argues that appreciation of the Indian Rupee is bad for the Indian Exporter, while good for the consumer.

But the largest plank of growth in the Indian Economy is related to exports of technology and services, and even a bit of manufacturing. If the exporters are hit, then the consumer has less money to spend.

Siegel is talking from the US perspective. A stronger rupee makes a weaker case for outsourcing, retaining jobs and services in the US. And he implies correctly, that the Indian middle class consumer who is spending the stronger rupee is going to be buying US (and Western) derived goods and services. These again help the US economy.

Knowledge@Wharton: There was a time when the India rupee was about 47 or 48 to the dollar. In recent weeks the Indian rupee has appreciated to 40 rupees to the dollar. What do you think are the implications for the global competitiveness of Indian firms?

Siegel: This is painful. It's been the strongest appreciation of the rupee in over 30 years as I look back as some of the data. Basically, they have a big cost advantage. It's just gotten a little smaller, which is good; it means that they're going to have to continue to watch costs on exports. I think that they should use this appreciation of the rupee to lower prices to consumers and to encourage the middle class.

This is because everything that they import is 10% to 15% cheaper than it was before. I think even oil has even gone down, perhaps in rupees, over the last 6 months. So, there are good things that come of it for the consumer. My feeling is that India should not move against this. The exporters have had it really good. Let's give the Indian consumer a break and continue to make sure that the exporters are going to have to stay on their toes as far as competitiveness is concerned.

See rest of the article, here.

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