Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fwd: Here's how the US military spends its billions

do read the full article, i have only excerpted bits here under 'fair use'

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Capt.
Skye Gould and Jeremy Bender

The US military is unquestionably the dominant force on the planet. 

From the greatest advances in technology to a massive network of military alliances, the US military retains a substantial lead over the militaries of every other country on the planet. And the backbone of this military greatness comes in large part from the economic prosperity of the US and the incredible funding that the Pentagon receives. 

In 2015, the US will have a declared military and defense budget of $601 billion, which is more than the next 7 highest spending countries combined. The following graphics show how the US will make use of its billions. 

BI_Graphics_US Military BudgetSkye Gould/Business Insider

The vast majority of the $601 billion will be funneled towards the military's base budget, which includes funding for the procurement of military equipment and the daily operations costs of US bases. 

BI_Graphics_US Military Budget 2Skye Gould/Business Insider

Of the $496 billion base budget, the vast majority of funding goes towards the cost of operating and maintaining the military and the cost of paying and caring for military personnel. 

... deleted


Fwd: What poetry has to do with math

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Capt

Please do give your views in the comments to the article. Mr. Rohan Murty has to be engaged and weaned away from the likes of Wendy Doniger and her Guru Professor Sheldon Pollock.
We stand to gain much from developing an understanding of ancient India, its deep and diverse ideas.
Rohan Murty | Published:August 31, 2015 12:06 am
Over the past year, I have heard my friend, mathematician Manjul Bhargava, give several public lectures on the deep connections between poetry, Sanskrit and mathematics. Like many other mathematicians before him who have written or spoken on this topic, Manjul gave an array of examples that demonstrate the tremendous depth and contributions made by ancient Indian (for the purposes of exposition, stretching perhaps from present day Afghanistan to Burma) philosophers and poets to mathematics, often before their counterparts in Western societies did the same. Manjul's quintessential example is from roughly 11th century India, when Gopala and Hemachandra discovered a delightful connection between the number of syllables in Sanskrit poetry and mathematics. The answer, it turns out, is what we now call the Fibonacci series (also appears in the number of petals in certain flowers in nature), which was eventually rediscovered by Leonardo of Pisa, better known as Fibonacci, about 50-80 years later. That there should be an inherent connection between the number of syllables in Sanskrit poetry, a product of human thought, and the number of petals in flowers in nature must startle any reasonable person. Another extraordinary example that Manjul highlights is the discovery of the binomial structure hidden in Sanskrit poetry, as discovered by the ancient Indian poet Pingala, roughly in 200 BC. This was about 1,800 years prior to the French mathematician Pascal's Traité du triangle arithmétique, which we today learn as Pascal's triangle. Other examples include the use of techniques that resemble modern error-correcting codes, synchronisation, and formal language definition in Sanskrit poetry and prose. These are all modern inventions (or reinventions, in some cases) that impact almost every aspect of our lives, from computer languages to wireless communications. It would, of course, be foolhardy to claim the ancients invented or knew of computer languages or wireless communications. That would be like claiming Copernicus built space ships to fly to the moon. Rather, what these examples do highlight is that a long time ago, in or near the region we live in today, there existed a thriving civilisation that produced extraordinary intellectual thought and ideas which continue to have fundamental connections with the way we live today. We appear to have lost knowledge of this ancient past through the vicissitudes and vagaries of time. And with it, a significant source of pride and the ability to influence modern Indian identity. Few people of my generation appear to be aware of these facts. Part of our ongoing ignorance of the past appears to be structural. Case in point: At my high school in Bangalore, as part of the ICSE syllabus, we read Hamlet, Merchant of Venice, works by Wordsworth, Tennyson, James Joyce, Dickens, etc. We even read Walt Whitman wax eloquent about the end of the American Civil War and Abe Lincoln's death in "O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done". Never mind the fact that none of us in class knew what a civil war was at the time, or that America had one, or how or why Lincoln died. We read the tremendously uplifting lines from Tennyson's "Ulysses": "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield", all while lacking the context of ancient Greece or even knowing how to say "Ithaca" (we learnt it as EYE-THA-KA). We had little or no context for these strange ideas, words, phrases, stories, heroes and worlds. And yet, we read these poems, short stories, novels, and wrote essays about them to pass our school exams. This was an enjoyable experience and I would do it again. However, such an educational experience and exposure was severely stunted in its diversity of thought and ideas. What strikes me as odd is that we students never read any classics that originated in this part of the world — that is, ancient India — despite having a cultural advantage of perhaps being able to understand the context better. We knew of no texts, poems, plays, great prose, science, mathematics, civics, political life or philosophy from 2,000-plus years ago from ancient India. My friends and I, stereotypes of the urban educated populace, remained entirely unaware of the intellectual contributions of this past. The most we seemed to know were a couple of random dates and trinkets of information on the Indus Valley civilisation, Ashoka and Chandragupta Maurya, all of which seemed almost perfunctory and without any depth in the manner we read them in school. As students, we were well versed with Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Copernicus, Newton, Leibniz, Pascal, Galois, Euler, etc, and their tremendous contributions to mankind. And yet, most of us had never read about Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Pingala, Kalidasa, Hemachandra, Madhava, the Nyaya or Mimimsa Sutras, or the Therigatha. But why bother with any of this? After all, we were never part of these accomplishments and they were so long ago, by a people so far removed from today's reality, that attempting to create any link to the past is surely irrelevant. But I would argue this discovery of the past is no less relevant than what we already study and acknowledge in the earlier cited examples in our schools and colleges. Besides, these sources of knowledge from ancient India are products of creative human thought and hold genuine value for the world, irrespective of where they come from, or geographic affinities. For example, any child on this planet will find mathematics far more amenable when learning parts of it through poetry, as opposed to the dry, dull methods espoused by most mathematics pedagogy today. While national identity is a complex phenomenon, perhaps in some proportion it relates to the intellectual contributions made by societies to help advance knowledge and improve the human condition. Newton is a hero to many like me, who read in wonder about how he unravelled the basic laws of the universe. Great literature and philosophy from Western societies have helped us reflect on the human condition. Such examples from the Western world have magnified our respect for societies that could harbour, enable and encourage such curiosity. In the same vein, we stand to gain much from developing an understanding of ancient India, its deep and diverse ideas, which are no less extraordinary than those we have come to marvel in Western civilisations. I am not suggesting we lose respect for contributions made by other societies or civilisations, or that everything of note was discovered in this part of the world. Rather, we ourselves have much to gain when we dispassionately discover, examine and acknowledge the intellectual history of ancient India. We may be surprised to find it was perhaps a more open, tolerant and diverse society than even the one we have lived in since Independence. If you need more convincing or inspiration, look up Manjul's talk on YouTube. Or try reading the Therigatha. The writer, junior fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, is founder, Murty Classical Library of India.

sent from samsung galaxy note3 neo, so please excuse brevity

Fwd: India's role in Asia may not fit 'Indo-Pacific' agenda

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Capt
Hugh White
Aug 30 2015 at 3:26 PM
It's assumed that India will play a large and growing role as a great power in a wider "Indo-Pacific" strategic system - but it's equally as likely that their power will be limited.

Many observers tend to assume that India will play a large and growing part as a great power in a wider "Indo-Pacific" strategic system, that it will use its growing power to balance and limit China's regional weight. But some caution is called for – although this outcome is possible, it is far from inevitable.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has encouraged leaders in Washington, Tokyo and Canberra to believe that he shares and wants to help promote their vision of Asia's strategic trajectory. But it is equally probable that India will play little role in the power politics of East Asia. And if it does, it will pursue Indian interests, which may differ substantially from America's, Japan's or Australia's.


There is little doubt that India will acquire the strategic weight to function as a great power in an Indo-Pacific strategic system alongside China, America and Japan. Demographics alone assures its place among the world's big three economies. India will also remain the pre-eminent great power in the sub-continental strategic system of which it is the natural centre. But will it function as a great power in a broader strategic system that also encompasses East Asia?


Fwd: Strategic significance of GSLV launch

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Capt.
Aug 31 2015 12:29AMRadhakrishana Rao

The successful launch of the three-stage GSLV on August 27 was a space milestone for India. By scaling up the already proven cryogenic propulsion system, ISRO will be able to launch better and bigger vehicles.
On the face of it, the August 27 successful launch of the three-stage Indian launch vehicle GSLV(Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) seems yet another  routine orbital mission pulled off by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The flawless GSLV-D6 mission has helped  the Indian space agency validate the performance of the domestically made critical  upper cryogenic engine stage for the second time after the successful maiden  test flight of GSLV equipped with an indigenous cryogenic engine stage in January 2014.
The  technologically complex cryogenic propulsion system  is the zealously guarded preserve of only a handful of advanced space-faring countries which are not willing to transfer the technology of this crucial rocket propulsion system. India is the sixth country in the world to have mastered the cryogenic propulsion system, which provides more thrust for every kg of fuel burnt in comparison to the solid and earth storable liquid propellants.
By successfully demonstrating the capability of the indigenous cryogenic engine stage that is driven by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen at extremely low temperatures, ISRO has overcome a major   technological barrier in so far as  building a domestic  heavy lift launch capability is concerned. Indeed, the 630-tonne heavy lift GSLV-MKIII capable of placing a 4-tonne class satellite payload into a geostationary transfer orbit is now being subjected to a slew of qualification trials as a prelude to its maiden flight in 2016. The current Mark-II version of GSLV has been designed to orbitsatellite payload weighing upto 2.5-tonne. The message of the successful GSLV-D6 mission is that no technology, however complex and challenging it might be, is beyond India's capability to develop and deploy. 
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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Quick notes: Kalam Road, Bhapkar Guruji...

  • Abdul Kalam Road: Delhi's Aurangzeb Road to be renamed after Kalam.

  • Rajaram Bhapkar: Maharashtra's 'Mountain Man' built 40-km roads in 57 years

  • Bicycles May Use Full Lane: Cars do not own our roads.

  • Rajan, the "least bad" central banker : India has been appreciated for avoiding the mistakes like keeping interest rates low to stimulate growth that most central banks have done.

  • Ashley Madison hack: Female users were almost nonexistent. “Out of 5.5 million female accounts, roughly zero percent had ever shown any kind of activity at all, after the day they were created.”

  • Exit false, enter true:
    “It is our ego which makes us feel we are a distinct separate entity. It provides identity to our functioning, and also creates feelings of separation, pain, and alienation. It is a part of our four-fold inner equipment (antahkarna) consisting of the mind, intellect, memory, and ego,” says Maa Gyaan Suveera.

    Eckhart Tolle echoes the same thing, “Vanity and pride are what most of us tend to think of when we think of ego, but ego is much more than an overinflated sense of self. It can also turn up in feelings of inferiority or self-hatred because ego is any image you have of yourself that gives you a sense of identity. Here’s me and there’s the rest of the universe and other people. The ego likes to emphasise the “otherness” of others.”

Patel Agitation: Another Kejriwal Game Afoot?

Hardik Patel's sudden explosive emergence on the political scene through riotous agitation is looking rather suspicious, given the highly-organized and well-funded nature of the movement. It looks suspiciously similar to the way Arvind Kejriwal suddenly burst onto the political scene:

What's needed is a more thorough analysis and investigation into who's funding this latest upheaval.

Mahesh Jethmalani to defend Peter Mukherjea?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pak to Become No.3 Nuclear Power in Less Than a Decade

In less than a decade, Pakistan will become the Number 3 nuclear power, with a nuclear arsenal larger than India, China, Britain, France - basically larger than everybody except US and Russia's.

Does anyone remember a beast from Norse mythology called the Fenris Wolf?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Quick notes: Blow to dynasty, Trump on speculators...

  • Blow to dynasty: Rajiv Trust told to return land in Amethi. "Samrat Cycles should have been returned to the UPSIDC after bankruptcy".

  • Trump puts speculators on notice: "The hedge fund guys didn't build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky."

  • What Chindu said: Muslim population growth "slows"..... What others said: Muslim population grew faster..... Assam's nine out of 27 districts are now Muslim majority..... Bengal beats India in Muslim growth rate. .....Pagan says: Ghar wapsi will work in Assam and Bengal if we pursue seriously.

  • Holy Cancer – How A Cow Saved My Life:
    Amit Vaidya lived the American dream. A Gujarati, born and brought up in the US, with a Ph.D. in economics, he worked in the entertainment industry’s business department. “It was an active but not a healthy lifestyle as I was an overachiever,” says Amit. His dreams “were shattered” when a few months after his father’s death he was diagnosed with first stage gastric cancer. “The fall was great as I had risen to great heights when I was 27.”

    Opting not to do surgery, he went in for “aggressive chemo radiation” in New York. Two years later he went into remission. Within two months of his recovery, his mother was diagnosed with grade three brain tumour. “Nothing worked and I lost her too. Away in a foreign land, being the only child, I felt lonely and a scan showed my cancer had returned after 18 months. This time it showed up in my liver. Nine months later, in 2011, reports showed I was not responding to treatment and the cancer had spread to my lungs too,” he says emotionally.

    Doctors told Amit that his life too was just a matter of time. “Not wanting to burden my friends, I started planning my funeral. Facing death was not frightening as I had seen death in its face. Seeing the grace with which my mother let go of her life, gave me the courage to accept death. In a cinematic way, I was excited that I would be reunited with my parents. I got on a self destructive path as I had nothing to live for,” says Amit.

    He started “micromanaging his last moments and his funeral. “I also wanted to come to India once. Being a Bollywood junkie I wanted that cinematic touch of meeting my extended family here before my death.”

    Soon he planned a trip to India. “Part of me thought I would die even before my feet touched the ground. There was some irony in the fact that my parents born here made US their home and died there. And, I, who lived there, would come to India and die here. It was like a full circle.”

    The meeting with his relatives was “emotional”, but as “they had their own challenges, they were aghast when they discovered that I was critically ill. Doors were shut. I was again all by myself,” recalls a shattered Amit. “When I lived in Delhi with a friend I was told about alternative therapies. Their love and care for me made me greedy again for life.

    “An aunt also told me about an Ayurvedic hospital in Gujarat that claims to cure cancer in 11 days for just a rupee! Having nothing to lose I wanted to give it a shot.”

    So off he went and explains that the treatment was disciplined with yoga, meditation and he was made to drink a mix of “desi cow milk, curd, ghee and gobar, go-mutra. I was to drink it on an empty stomach. For years everything tasted like saw dust because of the chemo. It was easy to drink something that smelled and tasted as it should. Others there were traumatised by this. I kept faith and did it diligently. I saw no change but felt no worse either.”

    Scans showed that the cancer “had not spread”. Amit then went back to the hospital and lived there for another 40 days. Reports showed the cancer had decreased. “Wanting to continue the therapy,” Amit stayed with a farmer, who opened his house to Amit. “He offered me a tiny shack on his farm, a cot, a goshala with desi cows, a well and a toilet. I continued the therapy and after months was able to walk. Over time, walks became jogs, jogs became runs and I started finding joy in my mind. The villagers had time for me, which was the best gift I got, especially when I needed time to heal.”

    After 18 months Amit claims he is cancer free and decided “on planning to live his life instead of planning a funeral. I now talk to people about my journey and that healing is possible. I make time to spend with cancer patients. It is all free. I have started an NGO called Healing Vaidya.”

    He does not plan on going back to the US as “this country has given me much. I have learnt that people here don’t value what it can offer.”

    Chindu deleted this from their site for reasons known only to them.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ready for President Trump?

US presidential candidate Donald Trump has emerged from nowhere to become the frontrunner and the most likely to succeed in attaining the Presidency of the United States:

To me, he looks like a nationalist and patriot and therefore doesn't seem to be such a bad guy. There's a likelihood that, like Reagan, he may have to resort to some stuntsmanship in order to achieve his stated policy goals once in office - but that's also because his predecessors have allowed his country's position to erode in recent decades. While Trump does cite problems with China more than problems with India in his campaign rhetoric, India shouldn't overconfidently assume that a President Trump will jump into a love affair with India. After all, he does want to get the best possible trade deals for the US, in the pursuit of restoring American primacy and greatness. But as with Modi, a likely Trump presidency does seem to portend a shakeup in business-as-usual policies and practices, which could potentially work in India's favor, as long as we keep our eyes open and don't get caught off-guard like we did during the Reagan years.

There are a large number of pragmatic conservative Democrat voters who would easily defect to join the Trump camp over key issues like illegal immigration. Trump's idea of a tighter policy against illegal immigrants seems quite reasonable and appropriate given the social problems which have resulted. He dared to speak out, braved the predictable initial flak, and has now overcome the controversy to take what was previously taboo and bring it into the realm of open public debate.

Btw, a significant number of those who illegally cross into the US via its border with Mexico are migrants originating from India. Obviously, there are many Indians who have no compunction or hesitation about breaking the law. India needs to do more to solve its own problems rather than radiating them onto other countries.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

NYT Heats Up Indians

After the New York Times decided to throw some fire & brimstone at Modi again in a piece on Teesta Setalvad, it's provoked a large reaction from Indian readers in their comments section:

But Hell must have frozen over - because NYT actually selected a couple of comments of mine as their "NYT Picks"
"Caste" is an english word with connotations of stratification. Like the old saying goes, "there is much which has been lost in translation." The reality is that Indians are composed of distinct ethnic identities which Westerners and firebrand leftists have sought to inextricably link to stratification -- a class warfare narrative which all too conveniently serves the political interest of divide-and-conquer. There will likely be distinct ethnicities among human beings for a long time to come, and this is certainly the case even in the developed West. Will all such ethnicities always magically be at statistical parity with each other at any given moment in regards to income, education, and other vital social indicators? No, that's simply impossible. They say that the "victors get to write the history books." Those countries which are already economically dominant get to claim Indian ethnicities are toxic. As India industrializes to free up the human potential of its people, then these myths of Indian-ethnicity-as-stratification will simply fade away just as they have done so in the already-industrialized developed world. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is himself from a so-called "low caste" is very dedicated to the goal of achieving that industrialization, which would free so many Indians from the misery and desperation of class warfare with all its attendant distortions. He knows how to break the cycle - that's why some will spare no effort to call him a monster.

Here's the other one from me
The Congress Party in India represents a Deep State, having used its many decades in power to penetrate and permeate the entire govt as deeply as possible. When Congress Party leaders rioted to massacre over ten thousand Sikhs on the streets in 1984, then where were any of these Teesta Setalvads? When Sikhs recently approached the Delhi govt ruled by Congress leader Sheila Dikshit to ask for permission to build a memorial to the 1984 riot victims, she immediately rejected their request. India's Congress Party is a counterpart to Pakistan's ISI, as each embodies a Deep State ready to capsize the country it sits astride, rather than let go of the power it craves so intensely. The attitude of this kind of Deep State, is "apres moi, le deluge."
Indians will not allow their country to be held hostage by the Congress Party and its Deep State. We will not be reduced to mere family heirlooms of an imposed and self-proclaimed monarchy (aka. the Nehru-Gandhi family). We don't want Rahul as our next BabyDoc. The inescapable reality is that Teesta Setalvad has very close ties to the Congress Party, and that party has done everything it can to eulogize her and build up her image. She is not the sweet innocent saint that she is being made out to be. Indians want economic empowerment - that same middle class which is the real root of American democracy - while the Congress Party fear that empowerment, since it would allow the Indian people to escape that party's gamesmanship.

I'm not sure what to make of it - maybe their regular comment-censorer was too swamped by all of our responses and had to bring in extra hands. Maybe something in my writing piqued their interest - maybe, just maybe they're realizing just how many Indians support Modi over the Congress & Left. Maybe they'll just delete my comments later on.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bezos' Bootcamp for Survival of the Fittest

On one end of the scale, places like ISRO have their own famous approach to nurturing and cultivating talent - but on the other end of the scale, Amazon has their data-driven darwinistic bootcamp approach: