Sunday, July 31, 2005

what i said about british pakistanis a long time ago

jul 31st

i can take some credit for recognizing that the british pakistanis were a class apart quite some time ago.

here's an excerpt from what i wrote on sept 4, 2001, yes, even before 9/11:

Despite all the noise made by the 'South-Asia'-wallahs, there is no monolithic culture that encompasses the entire subcontinent. The Muslim cultures of Pakistan and Bangladesh are worlds apart from the composite Indic (Hindu-Buddhist-Jain-Sikh) culture of India. This is evident from the recent race riots in the industrial northern towns of Britain: grim places like Bradford, Barnsley, Oldham, some of which I have had the dubious pleasure of visiting because my sister, a doctor, used to work there.

What is happening in Britain? It is as close to a controlled social experiment as it gets. There is a clear distinction between ghettoized Pakistani- and Bangladeshi-origin, ill-educated, unemployed youth who are rioting in the streets and upwardly-mobile, well-educated, bankers, lawyers and other professionals of Indian origin. As I suggested some time ago in my column, 'Why I am not a South Asian,' Indian-origin Britishers resent being lumped in with these delinquent Pakistani/Bangladeshi types, and they are now vocal about it, too.

With good reason. There is a large gap. The British Indians, like Jewish immigrants in the US, respect education and have strong family values that encourage hard work; they rise through sheer determination and effort. British Pakistanis, like some inner-city blacks and to an extent Hispanics in the US, have become a permanent underclass, hopeless and self-destructive: for often the businesses they destroy through rioting are their own.

According to The Economist of July 14, 2001, 'As well as being the most segregated communities, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis suffer some of Britain's worst poverty and unemployment, and do among the worst in school (Indian pupils, by contrast, do the best).'

Why this gulf between the Indians and the Pakistanis/Bangladeshis? If you were to listen to the 'South-Asia' bleeding-hearts pontificating, you'd believe there was this great commonality between Indians and other subcontinentals. I, on the contrary, have maintained for years that I have absolutely nothing in common with Pakistanis. The experience of the British subcontinentals is scientific support for that sentiment.

The Indians and the Pakistanis originally came to the United Kingdom subject to the very same handicaps: those related to racism and discrimination. Indeed, the British tend to be more racist and obnoxious towards Hindus rather than towards Muslims, because at the very least they can understand Islam, it being quite the twin of their own Christianity, whereas Hinduism is a bewildering and chaotic Other.

Furthermore, we saw during Partition the British desire to help Pakistan: they gave away to Pakistan, against all logic, the Hindu-Sikh-majority city of Lahore; and in Gilgit, British-led Gilgit Scouts raised the Pakistani flag despite its being part of Jammu & Kashmir that had acceded legally to India.

In any case, British subcontinentals toiled away for years, but their destinies could not be more different. The Muslims tended to have far more babies, not to educate their children, and to easily become fundamentalists: for instance there is the curious case of British Pakistani Aurangazeb who 'innocently wandered over the Line of Control into India,' which is Orwellian doublespeak meaning 'terrorist infiltrator.' The Hindus and Sikhs, on the other hand, prospered and moved out of the ghettos in the grimy industrial towns. The obvious difference: religion.

nytimes finds it so difficult to spit out the word 'pakistani'!

jul 31

more of the 'south asian' bullshit from amy waldman. it is pakistanis doing this, amy dear. you can say it too. paa-ki-staan-i.

amy also carefully doesn't say how non-muslims from the indian subcontinent are not doing any of this terrorism. good question why, don't you think?

where are all the champions of the imaginary 'south asian' solidarity now that 'south asians' are blowing themselves up and others? they have all become very quiet lately.

'south asia' is as imaginary as the equator. indians have nothing whatsoever in common with pakistanis or bangladeshis.

Tom Paine: American revolutionary on christian dogma/mythology

jul 31

a truly frontal assault on the collection of myth and dogma that go by the name of christianity.

first jefferson, then paine: i am beginning to have new respect for the american founding fathers, for they violently despised the blind faith of their contemporaries. i just did not know about this facet of their personalities.

i got the reference to paine from the nytimes:

quote from tom paine: "... the age of ignorance commenced with the Christian system." amen, i say.

some of these early leftists like paine were also, strangely, libertarians. such a far cry from today's fascist marxists of india who are completely statist and unreasoningly blind.

here is the entire ebook text of 'The Age of Reason'.

Friday, July 29, 2005

warnings about a housing bubble bursting

jul 29th

the housing bubble has sustained us growth. when this bursts, all hell will break loose.

there are lessons for the bubble in india too esp in bangalore.

the bubble has already burst in the uk and australia and in some places like denver in the us.,filter.all/pub_detail.asp

prospect magazine: interview with a pakistani-brit jihadi

jul 30th

very interesting article and interview by tavleen singh's son (his father is a pakistani muslim and tavleen divorced him). this aatish is engaged to a british royal family member.

captures the reasoning behind islamist terrorism.

the comments on india are interesting too. like spain, india is the prize islam had -- and lost; okay, almost had and lost, in india's case.

in many ways, india is islam's biggest failure because it subverts islam's claim to be universal religion so attractive that anybody who encounters it automatically embraces it, of course unless they are wicked. (well, maybe indian hindus are all wicked people, that is a logical possibility).

the fact is that even downtrodden and conquered hindus -- even the most oppressed among them -- did not generally accept islam unless forced to. this is in contrast with the complete islamization of other civilizations such as egypt and persia. and is a remarkable tribute to the resilience of hinduism as well as of its distributed nature (i have written about this -- goodbye! foul millennium -- in relation to the 'cathedral and bazaar' concept.)

and this is a direct contradiction of the marxist claim that islam and by extension marxism were the instruments of the emancipation of india's oppressed lower castes. no, here is proof by existence that they were not.

 August 2005 | 113 » Interview » A British jihadist
Hassan Butt, a 25 year old from Manchester, helped recruit Muslims to fight in Afghanistan. Like most of the London bombers, he is a British Pakistani who journeyed from rootlessness to radical Islam

Aatish Taseer

It is not hard to imagine what the Leeds suburb of Beeston was like before it became known that three of London's tube bombers worked or lived there. For someone like me— a Punjabi with parents from each side of the India/Pakistan border—the streets of Beeston reveal a pre-partition mixture of Punjabi Muslims and Sikhs. Despite the commotion caused by half the world's media, men in shalwar kurta (traditional dress from the subcontinent) stand around on street corners chatting as if in a bazaar in Lahore. They oppose Britain's involvement in the Iraq war, they "hate" America, they might even think that the west has united in a fight against Muslims, but these are not the faces of extremism. Their involvement in 7/7 is a generational one: they have raised the people who are the genus of Islamic extremism in this country—the second-generation British Pakistanis.

.... deleted

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Fwd: Christian school extorts non-Christian students who don't convert

jul 29th

forwarded by a friend.

notice the names of the priests: kerala christians. the new crusaders.


...the school management was charging higher admission
fees from non-Christians.

"After investigation, it was found that the complaint
was genuine and thus action was taken", Superintendent
of Police Umesh Joga said. "The management had offered
the inducement to reduce the fees if they adopted
Christianity", the parents complained.



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maoputras attempting sabotage in haryana?

jul 29th

the ruckus at the hero honda factory has gotten lost because of the media obsession with the mumbai fire-and-water ordeal. but it's a significant issue nevertheless: the fifth columnists of the chinese are trying their level best once again to help the fatherland. they also want to export the 'prosperity' of bengal and bihar to haryana.

the background is that both taiwanese and japanese firms have been looking much more positively at india in the recent past, as china has shown its 'peaceful rise' by orchestrating mass demonstrations against japan and making more aggressive noises about nuking america if it were to support taiwan. thus there is more opportunity for FDI flows being diverted from china to india; someone on this blog also provided a pointer to a detailed article about the revival of manufacturing.

all this, of course, is a no-no for the manasa-putras of mao. their thirty silver coins are in jeopardy, so what better than to attack a japanese-owned factory? brinda karat, the heroine of the kandahar episode -- she was caught on camera chivvying on the relatives of the hostages on the plane to force the government to cave in -- is probably once again doing her best against india's national interests. (i haven't been following the news very carefully on this, i read tvr shenoy's rediff article on this topic, and he mentioned brinda karat. i don't know what her role has been in this fracas).

ps. someone said the suddenly famous chinese 'admiral' was a eunuch. it figures, his alleged descendants, the maoputras, are also eunuchs.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Liberate Temples – Demands Online Petition

jul 25th

forwarded by reader rama


Liberate Temples – Demands Online Petition

It is an unusual petition to the President of India APJ Abdul Kalam
from Hindus spread across India and the whole world. The demand is to
leave the Hindu places of worship to the Hindu community alone. That
the secular governments withdraw from their administration, as is done
in the case of Christian and Muslim places of worship. The petition,
put up by an internet group `haindava keralam' with support of Shree Vidyadhiraja Vikasa Kendram in
Thiruvananthapuram is already signed by more than 1600 people from
across the world. This includes non-Hindus as well, who feel this a
gross injustice.

The Petitioners also demand that all the places of worship be taken
over by the government otherwise, Muslim, Christian, that there is
justice. Presumably triggered by the recent controversies over the
utilization of temple funds at the famous Guruvayoor temple in Kerala
the Petition has generated lot of interest in the people cutting
across states and regions. Problems at Sabarimala temple and the
Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh are also listed as in need of
intervention. The Tirupati temple is also in the news for all the
wrong reasons after the new Congress lead government took over.
Interestingly the two states are having non- Hindu Chief Ministers, as
some of the signatories point out. The petition has brought out a
diaspora of NRIs and the Hindu community spread over the world.

Apart from entrusting the administration of temples to those appointed
by secular governments the revenue generated at the temples, the
petition alleges, is taken for non-Hindu purposes in most places like
Tirupati, Sabarimala and Guruvayoor. What is impossible in the case of
the other communities. Since the other communities also get huge
amounts as international aid this becomes a double handicap for the
Hindu segment it adds. A major part of the donations received at the
Tirupati Tirumala Devastanam (TTD) in AP routinely goes to the state
exchequer as is the large amounts collected at the Sabarimala hill
temple in Kerala. Recently there was a controversy over the government
of Kerala diverting the revenues of the Lord Krishna temple at
Guruvayoor for building sewerage systems. This was opposed by the
local people and the Cochin Devaswom Board, under government of
Kerala, which runs the administration had to face a Court Case. The
decision of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh to give temple
related work to members of the Christian community had also created
dissent in the state.

The petition, created by the online group `haindava keralam' hosted at
the portal (accessible at )
calls it an aberration in the secular policy of the government of
India. The large number of people who have signed the petition calls
it unfortunate that the Hindu community has to suffer discrimination
in India itself. While some call it a folly initiated during the
regime of Jawaharlal Nehru when secularism came to mean being
anti-Hindu others found it an irony that the Hindu nationalist
government under the NDA did nothing to change the anomaly. There are
also few supporters for the cause from western countries who feel that
the continuity of the Sanatana Dharma is a need of the world itself.
That Government of India corrects its policy with regard to Hindu
temples. Some comments allege that there is rampant corruption in
getting appointed to the posts in the Devaswom Board in Kerala, body
managing temple affairs under the state government. Where the money
goes to non-Hindu leaders.

The petitioners fear that it is time this old mistake is made good as
it can lead to communal polarization and turmoil. It was during the
British colonial period that the community owned places of worship
were taken over which continued to be run by the government even after
independence. Being under the government there is no guarantee that
the administrators at the higher levels are from the Hindu faith.
There are also gross violations of ethics where the government,
already taking the revenues, ask money from the temples as price of
land. Thus in Sabarimala the Ministry of Environment and Forests
demanded Rs. 6 crores from the Travancore Devaswom Board, apex body in
charge of temples, for 50 ha. of forest land badly needed for pilgrim
facilities. That despite Sabarimala generating huge revenues for the
state for the last several decades.

It may be noted that there is an ongoing debate over the allocation of
forest lands to Sabarimala and the latest reports tell that the forest
lands shall not be transferred to the temple despite the payment.
Which puts conditions on its use. It is an irony as the forest hills
surrounding this temple, known as the `Poonkavanam', belonged to the
temple in pre-British times. Temples in Kerala were taken over by Gen.
Watts and Col. Munro, British Residents, in the early days of British
colonization. They also made changes in the temple rituals and
management. What continues to this day unquestioned. The petitioners
want that the management of the temples be left to the Hindus, handed
over to the community kept and under the guidance of competent Hindu

This will ensure that the revenues generated are pooled in to the
needs of the deserving in the Hindu community and not frittered away
for various purposes. That way various Hindu places of worship now in
turmoil shall be benefited and also the poor among the community. It
will also help arrest the rampant conversions of the poor Hindus to
Christianity lured by the moneyed missionaries. The petitioners allege
that faith and trade were used to subjugate as history tells and fears
that the same thing will repeat in India. They underline the urgent
need for having a country wide uniform code for administration of
temples managed by the Hindu community, where the government does not
interfere. It is a novel form of protest and seems to have generated a
lot of curiosity among the people, though whether the President will
see it at all is a matter of speculation. As some experts tell the
post-colonial protocols at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan may hardly give
space to this kind of representations.


jul 25th

see, this proves that kerala is peopled with the chinese "admiral's" offspring. suicide and depression are major problems in kerala too.

or is it just that the religion of marxism/maoism inculcates suicide in people?

can these people be turned into suicide bombers dying for mao so that they can go to marxist heaven and hang out with marx, mao, deng and 72 other great proletarian leaders?

naah... fat old men don't have that certain elan that non-menstruating, non-impregnatable,  untiring, eager virgins have.

so when does kerala declare itself the 51st (or whatever) state of china? there can be another small chinese enclave in chennai too, at the headquarters of a leading newspaper.

China facing epidemic of suicide, depression

Mon Jul 25, 9:02 AM ET

Suicide is the number one cause of death among people aged 20 to 35 in China, where an estimated quarter of a million people a year -- or 685 a day -- take their lives, state media said Monday.

Each year an additional 2.5 million to 3.5 million Chinese unsuccessfully attempt suicide, which stood as the fifth major cause of death among the country's 1.3 billion people, the China Daily said.

Disproportionate rates of suicide and depression among young people appear to be a direct result of increasing stress in China's rapidly changing society.

"Society is full of pressure and competition, so young people, lacking experience in dealing with difficulties, tend to get depressed," Liu Hong, a Beijing psychiatrist, was quoted as saying.

More than 60 percent of people who took part in a survey of 15,431 Chinese suffering depression over the past two years were in their 20s or 30s, the newspaper said.

The escalating problem had drawn increasing concern from the government and public alike, leading to the creation of a national, 24-hour free suicide prevention hotline in August 2003.

Since then, more than 220,000 people had called the number, though Canadian Michael Phillips, executive director of the Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Center, said only one in 10 callers could get through on the first try.

"That is very dangerous because most of the callers are anxious and may commit suicide impulsively," Phillips was quoted as saying.

Lung cancer and traffic accidents are the biggest causes of death in China.

sandhya jain: state-supported christianity targets tirupati



Tirupathi on evangelist hit-list


Sandhya Jain


Evangelists are targetting the sacred site of Tirumala and in a direct affront to the Hindu community, which has for centuries regarded all seven hills as holy, have starting gathering on the slopes in groups for public prayers. Even though an officer of the State-controlled Tirumala Tirupati Devasathanam (TTD) which manages the world famous Venkateshwara temple has denied that a missionary society has submitted a proposal to build a church on the hills, there is widespread disbelief on account of the known biases of Chief Minister Samuel Reddy.


The denials by TTD special officer A.V. Dharma Reddy follow reports in leading Telugu newspapers such as Eenadu and television channels like ETV, Teja TV, Gemini TV and Sun TV. Former Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu, who was reportedly tipped off by informed sources in the Secretariat, has strongly condemned the move, as has the state BJP.

            What lends credence to Hindu fears is the despicable statement by the Government official that the TTD temple owns only 10.33 sq. miles of land on the hills, and this land is administered by the mandir trust. This is a transparent ploy to deny the sacred character of all seven hills in their entirety, and restrict the sacred site of the Hindu community to the formal boundary of the extant temple of Lord Venkateshwara.


Clearly we are witnessing the development of a major assault upon one of the most venerated sites of the Hindu community. Should it happen, it will be a desecration at par with that of the Mylapore Shiva temple in Chennai. Hitherto, there has never been any question of a structure other than the shrine of Lord Venkateshwara on these hills, and it bears remembering that it is the hills that are holy and not merely the mandir which adorns them. For instance, a temple along a busy thoroughfare would be holy, but the adjacent land would not be deemed sacred.


Thus, the attempt to limit the sacredness of Tirumala to the boundary of the temple, i.e. 10.33 sq. miles, is suspicious and suggests that the State Government may be preparing the ground for landing over land to a church body on one of the slopes. This is consistent with the systematic defilement of Hindu institutions since the UPA became ascendant in national life, as witnessed in the harassment of the Kanchi Shankaracharya and Bal Shankaracharya, and attempts to take over prominent Hindu temples.


What lends urgency to Hindu fears is the fact that six large churches have already sprung up on the road to Tirumala (Bye-pass road and new Bye-pass road) that leads to Alipiri, the foot of the hills. It is therefore imperative that the State Government recognize the entire seven hills as the sacred abode of Shri Venkateshwara, and ensure that no structure of any other religion is allowed to come up there.


            Hindu activists in the region point out that when Ms. Sonia Gandhi violated the rules and entered the sanctum sanctorum of Tirumala Tirupati Devasathanam some years ago, without signing the mandatory declaration for practitioners of other religions; she was facilitated in this outrage by the then TTD executive officer Ajay Kallam. The activists point out that according to the local bush telegraph, Mr. Ajay Kallam and some of his family members converted to Christianity some time ago, and this fact may have some bearing on some of their public actions. For instance, Mr. Kallam sought to auction hundred acres of land belonging to the Hathi Ramji Matham (Tirumala) a year ago, and it was only with difficulty that the auction was eventually cancelled.


The point being made is that it is a terrible sacrilege that State control of Hindu holy sites enables non-Hindus to seize control of major temples and run them according to an undisclosed agenda. Non-believers have infiltrated critical areas of these institutions. It is already a matter of considerable concern that the enormous revenues of Hindu temples in south India are being misused to fund the Hajj subsidy and renovate churches, while temples and priests remain starved of basic funds. Now more than ever before there is need to expedite the return of the temples to the community.


According to field activists, an official scrutiny of lands and properties acquired by evangelical organizations may shed interesting light upon a phenomenon best dubbed as 'colonization through land ownership.' The value of the properties and the costs of the gigantic bureaucracies associated with them would be an eye-opener. It is instructive, for instance, to drive through the Coromandel Coast from Vishakapatnam to Toottukkudi, and observe the plethora of churches proliferating along the route; most are new constructions. A journey to Guntur and Eluru may be similarly instructive.


The Andhra Pradesh Government is a wholly unsuitable custodian of Tirupathi and must be made to surrender control of this holy shrine. Some time ago it condoned the demolition of the 550-year old Thousand Pillar Temple for no good reason. A Government that lacks the sense of the sacrality of the seven hills which have been regarded as a tirthasthanam and devasthanam from time immemorial cannot be allowed to preside over its destiny.




sandhya jain: power and corruption in tamil nadu


Absolute power corrupts absolutely


Sandhya Jain 


In the cyclical battles between the Devas and the Asuras, there are moments when the latter, ensconced in an overweening arrogance, appear all-powerful and invincible. The wise know their fall will be sudden, dramatic, and complete. And so it shall be with the so-called Revolutionary Leader of Tamil Nadu, who has violated immutable rules of dharma by subordinating the sacred to State power.


In a technical sense, when Ms. Jayalalithaa ordered the arrest of the Kanchi Shankaracharya last November on alleged charges of conspiracy to murder a former Matham employee, she was within the bounds of her duties as Chief Minister. Murder calls for State cognizance and action, and the authorities were bound to investigate the crime and take appropriate action. That many believe there is no credible evidence to link either the Shankaracharya or Bal Shankaracharya with the crime, and that the inquiry is motivated by a larger political conspiracy, is another matter.


But the Chief Minister grossly exceeded her limits when she (no one else would dare) directed the office of the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments to ensure that Swami Jayendra Sarawati was denied access to the 'garba griha' of the Ramanathaswamy Mandir in Rameswaram, to perform puja, which is his customary and religious right according to mandir rules. The magnitude of his insult can be gauged from the fact that this right is believed to have been conferred by the Deity Himself, and has been bestowed upon just three dignitaries, viz., the Shankaracharyas of Sringeri and Kanchi and the King of Nepal.


Ramanathaswamy Mandir is no ordinary site; it commemorates the spot where Shri Rama worshipped Bhagvan Shiva before crossing the sea to defeat Ravana, and is a site of tremendous spiritual power. It is hardly surprising that this was the first major temple the Shankaracharya chose to visit after being implicated in a host of cases by the former actress. Not even the Indian Prime Minister or President, and certainly not the imperious lady, has the right to enter its sanctum sanctorum and worship the Deity directly.


Hence it was not a small shock for the Acharya and his devotees to be told by unhappy temple authorities that they had instructions from the Government (read Ms. Jayalalithaa) not to permit him to enter the garba griha of any temple under its control. His Holiness adjusted to this horrible disrespect with grace and equanimity, asking the priests to perform puja on his behalf and worshipping the Deity from the spot where pilgrims are allowed special darshan. Mercifully, he was not asked to pay for the 'special darshan.'


The official on the scene of this outrage, the Joint Commissioner, Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments, explained that he had instructions from the Commissioner not to allow anyone to enter the inner sanctum. Since the only visitor who had this right was the Kanchi Shankaracharya, it does not take much imagination to realize that His Holiness was being singled out for humiliation at the hands of the State.


            That this was purely intentional became clear the next day when the State authorities repeated the misdemeanour. Apparently the temple priests were extremely distressed at being made to deny the Shankaracharya access to the sanctum sanctorum; they apologized and asked him to return for puja the next morning. Accordingly, Swami Jayendra Saraswati took the holy bath in the Agnitheertham, but was made to wait for three hours before being told that permission was again denied. The Acharya was also denied entry into the garba griha of the Dhanuskodi Kothanda Ramar temple, though the temple manuals explicitly state that the Kanchi Sankaracharyas have the right to perform pujas in the sanctum sanctorum. Indeed, they have been doing so for centuries.  


Hindus believe anyone can choose the path away from dharma. The Tamil Chief Minister has lost her moral equipoise since her party's rout in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. She prostrated before the State's Hindu–baiting media; withdrew the anti-conversion law and is complicit in the cancerous growth of the conversion industry; and indulged in a vicious assault upon one of the tallest Hindu spiritual leaders. 


It is a measure of Hindu disarmament at the hands of the BJP's determinedly secular leadership that no credible opposition could be launched against the outright assault upon Hindu institutions. There is a great urgency for the Hindu community to regain control of temples from the State, which has no respect for the sanctity of either the temples or the Gurus. A credible legal case can be made about religious discrimination against the Hindu community, because rich Hindu temples are alone seized by Government and their resources diverted to ends for which there is no public mandate.


In Karnataka, the annual revenue of over Rs. 72 crores from Hindu temples is misused to support faiths that condemn Hindu dharma as "false" and indulge in conversions; Rs. 50 crores goes as Hajj subsidy and Rs. 10 crores as church maintenance. Hindu temples can barely cover the salary of priests, and have nothing left for maintenance. Yet Chief Minister Dharam Singh shamelessly hosted the super-evangelist Benny Hinn, who is currently under the scrutiny of the US Internal Revenue Service!


The situation is hardly better in other states. In Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Samuel Reddy used his position to bring Christian institutions into the decision making loop of the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam and its institutions, and may even be facilitating a church on the holy hills. In Kerala, the State Government wanted to loot Guruvayur Devaswom funds for a water supply and drainage scheme for the town; only stiff Hindu opposition finally shelved the scheme.


What is being undermined here is not the Hindu right over utilization of temple funds, however substantial, but the foundational tenet of Hindu dharma that man owes a debt to the gods (daiva rna), to the teachers (gurus rna) and to the ancestors (pitr rna). Today, only the last is still being paid because it lies within the realm of the individual households.


Daiva rna has been usurped by the government which not only takes away current temple revenues, but even the lands that devotees have bequeathed over centuries for the upkeep of temples. The Andhra Government recently sold 250 acres of endowment land for a pittance, when the market price was at least one crore per acre. There is a sustained disrespect of Hindu dharma by the so-called secular state. What right does the government have to appoint members to the Boards of major temples (usually members of the party in power, and even IAS officers)?

            State interference in Hindu institutions violates Art. 26, which guarantees every denomination the freedom to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes; to manage its own affairs in matters of religion; to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and to administer such property in accordance with law. Given the awesome State mismanagement, the Supreme Court would do well to revisit the Guruvayur Temple verdict, wherein it held that State could appoint managers as temple administration is a secular task, as opposed to spiritual management. Since Art 26 explicitly bestows freedom to "administer such property in accordance with law," there is no justification for the State appropriating temple property and revenues on the pretext of supervising them.







Saturday, July 23, 2005

nytimes: friedman on terrorists and their supporters

jul 23rd

we know some of them excuse makers, don't we? the entire indian ELM (english-language media) is full of them, some names of arch-apologists verily leap off the page.

oddly enough, not many of them have pontificated at length on the london bombings so far as i know, although i have not been perusing indian newspapers carefully, being preoccupied.

is it because the venerated excuse-makers have no excuses to make when whites are killed, it's only when brown hindus (1/50 the value of a white life and 1/33 the value of a muslim life) are killed that they get all excited about the 'human rights' of terrorists and not of the victims? why are there no calls from you-know-who about the 'human rights' of the fellow shot on the tube in london? or appeals to not call them 'terrorists' but rather 'misguided secular boys'?

the excuse-makers are the worst sinners of the lot. at least the terrorists believe in *something*, but the excuse-makers prostitute themselves. much like the pharisees of christian mythology.

truth-tellers, for instance sandhya jain, are vilifed for telling the bald and complete truth.

nytimes: on hindu/buddhist art

jul 23rd

why does hindu art not appeal to the west? because we are the Other, the very opposite of the regimented semitic perspective.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

nytimes: judge posner on the media and polarization

jul 21st

very interesting article on the american media.

the parallels with the indian media are worth considering.

and the rise of the blogosphere is seen in largely positive terms.

posner is a well-known judge; i forget which famous appeals case he ruled on (perhaps microsoft's).

sj merc: indian-origin mastermind to london bombings of 7/7?

jul 21

indians dont need to feel left out. here's an indian angle to the bombings.

economist: special report on enterprise software

jul 21st

pretty sensible article. software pricing is going through a huge turmoil.

economist: it's good of indians to praise britain and pakistan

jul 21st

more of the atlanticist economist's venom against india.

why aren't the americans praising britain as a great colonial country?

why aren't the british praising pakistan as a great beacon of faith and freedom after the london blasts apparently have pakistani fingerprints all over it?

answer: because it would be idiotic. or maybe the americans aren't 'confident', and nor are the british.

but when indians do idiotic things, the economist is there to cheerlad. this is one of the more inane responses i have seen from them.

the likelihood that singh was simply flattered at oxford giving him a degree is quite high. (we note in passing that oxford -- or cambridge, doesn't matter -- gave a degree to romila thapar for converting indian history into myth).

India and Britain

The jewel and the crown
Jul 14th 2005 | DELHI
From The Economist print edition

India is now confident enough to praise both Pakistan and Britain

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IT IS risky for politicians to re-examine sensitive points in a country's history, as Lal Krishna Advani, leader of India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has found. Visiting Pakistan last month, he upset his party's Hindu nationalists by praising Pakistan's founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who split the subcontinent in 1947. Mr Advani looked likely to lose his job as BJP president in the continuing row, until his colleagues decided this week to rally round him. Now Manmohan Singh, India's prime minister, has started another, potentially risky, debate by praising Britain, India's colonial ruler—even though, he pointed out, India's share of world income dropped from 22.6% in 1700, roughly when the British arrived, to 3.8% just after independence.

Speaking on July 8th after receiving an honorary degree at Oxford University, Mr Singh said that Britain's "beneficial consequences" included India's notions of the rule of law, a constitutional government, a free press, a professional civil service and the English language, which has been Indianised into the country's own language. These legacies of the Raj, Mr Singh noted, had "served the country well".

The timing of the two speeches is, of course, a coincidence—Mr Singh started his preparations six months ago when he accepted Oxford's invitation. But both reflect India's growing self-confidence, as well as a sense that it is time to move on. Mr Singh has been attacked from both political wings for belittling India's old freedom fighters and for ignoring, as a BJP spokesman put it, Britain's "atrocities and barbarism". But Delhi's Pioneer newspaper, usually a staunch BJP supporter, declared it as "an acknowledged fact of history" that the British were "the best colonial rulers in the world". The debate continues.

Japan Times: The terror lab

jul 21st

another excellent and perceptive article by brahma.

why on earth he isn't on the team that briefs the government i shall never know.

The Japan Times Printer Friendly Articles

The international terror lab


NEW DELHI -- The July 7 London bombings, suspected to be the handiwork of British citizens of Pakistani origin, should serve as a reminder that major acts of international terrorism have first been tried out by Islamists in India before being replicated in the West. Such acts include attacks on symbols of state authority, midair bombing of a commercial jetliner and coordinated strikes on a city transportation system.

India, in fact, is a sort of laboratory where major acts of terror are experimented. Once honed, the acts are then carried out in democracies elsewhere. The jihadist logic is that if India, the world's largest democracy, can be shaken, so can Western democracies.

This suggests that by paying close attention to evolving patterns of terrorism in India, the West may be in a position to anticipate or forestall terror strikes by being better prepared to deal with new terrorist methods.

With terror strikes against Indian targets not receiving the same international media coverage as attacks on Western entities, not many realize that India is a leading victim of international terrorism. Indeed, new methodology employed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's Office of Terrorism Analysis shows India with the dubious distinction of having the highest number of terrorist incidents.

Many in the world have heard about the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, but few know that it replicated the midair bombing over the Atlantic of an Air-India commercial flight from Canada in 1985. The same Air-India bombing technique was also used in the 1989 Libyan-orchestrated attack on a UTA jetliner, which blew up in midair over the Sahara.

The 1993 Bombay bombings have served as a model act of mass terror to jihadists across the world. Hundreds of people were killed inside high-rise buildings in Bombay in a terror campaign that targeted India's financial institutions in a bid to disrupt the economy.

The Bombay bombings, as the Indian defense minister recently said, were "eerily similar in modus operandi and targets to 9/11 in their synchronized, serial character and targeting of state and economic symbols."

Parallels have also emerged between the 1999 hijacking to Kandahar, Afghanistan, of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 and the 9/11 suicide hijackings in the United States, including the similar use of box-cutters and the terrorists' knowledge of cockpit systems. Long before the London and Madrid bombings, terrorists in India had staged coordinated attacks on city trains and buses.

While terrorists in the West continue to prefer "soft" targets, such as businesses, public facilities and tourist sites, the emerging patterns of terror in India show that Islamic extremists are progressing from hit-and-run attacks to daring, suicide assaults on heavily fortified military camps, government buildings and national emblems of power, such as Parliament and the 17th-century Red Fort.

On the eve of the London bombings, five gunmen suspected of belonging to a Pakistan-based terrorist group stormed one of India's most heavily guarded places -- a makeshift Hindu temple at a disputed religious site in Ayodhya -- and breached its security perimeter before being killed by paramilitary police.

If past parallels can be a guide, the West needs to brace up to the possibility of emboldened terrorists carrying out India-style frontal attacks on key economic, political and defense institutions.

India, however, has to blame itself for becoming a growing target of Islamic radicals. India's soft response to terrorism has only encouraged terrorists and their sponsors over the years.

If any state strikes deals with terrorists, it not only promotes stepped-up terrorism against its own interests but also creates problems for other nations. A classic case is India's ignominious caving in on Dec. 31, 1999, to the demands of hijackers holding passengers aboard an Indian commercial jetliner at the terrorists' lair, Kandahar.

It was a surrender unparalleled in modern world history: The Indian foreign minister personally chaperoned three jailed terrorists to freedom in a special aircraft, delivering them to their waiting comrades at Kandahar airport. This act, on the eve of the new millennium, capped a series of Indian mistakes and has exacted unending costs.

One freed terrorist hand-delivered by the Indian foreign minister is the suspected financier of Mohammed Atta, the alleged ringleader in the 9/11 strikes. Ahmed Omar Sheik, a British citizen of Pakistani descent, also orchestrated the 2002 kidnapping-murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.

The other two released men formed separate Pakistan-based terrorist groups that have since carried out numerous attacks in India, including the December 2001 strike on the Indian Parliament.

Exactly a decade before the Kandahar surrender, India spurred the rise of bloody terrorist violence in Kashmir by capitulating to the demands of abductors of the Indian interior minister's daughter.

Terrorists see India as a soft target because it imposes no costs on them and their sponsors. Although the problem of terrorism in India has worsened since the 1980s, it continues to be treated largely as a law-and-order issue.

Each time there is a major terrorist attack, New Delhi promises to send more security forces to the area. To treat terrorism as a law-and-order problem is to do what the terrorists want -- sap your strength. No amount of security can stop terrorism if the nation is reluctant to go after terrorist cells and networks and those that harbor terrorists.

No Americans have been killed by terrorists in the United States since after 9/11 because the U.S. military has gone after terrorists overseas, despite the Iraq invasion serving as a recruiting boon to the al-Qaeda.

India, by contrast, has suffered its biggest terrorist strikes since 9/11. This is because it lacks a strategy to counter threats from qualitatively escalating terrorism, other than to talk peace with Pakistan, still the main sanctuary of al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists.

Brahma Chellaney is professor of strategic studies at the private Center for Policy Research in New Delhi.

The Japan Times: July 17, 2005
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LA Times: China's stealth war on the U.S

jul 21st

forwarded by reader jk

the hydrological wars already being perfected against india form part of the 'unrestricted warfare' by the chinese. what they deserve is a few strategic nuclear hits, as in the taiwanese author's doomsday bestseller: 'yellow peril', which ends with long columns of chinese refugees fleeing the radiation-engulfed mainland; and nuclear winter. yes, total war.

here's a review i found using google:


China's stealth war on the U.S.
Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu of the Chinese People's Liberation Army caused quite a stir last week when he threatened to nuke "hundreds" of American cities if the U.S. dared to interfere with a Chinese attempt to conquer Taiwan.

This saber-rattling comes while China is building a lot of sabers. Although its defense budget, estimated to be as much as $90 billion, remains a fraction of the United States', it is enough to make China the world's third-biggest weapons buyer (behind Russia) and the biggest in Asia. Moreover, China's spending has been increasing rapidly, and it is investing in the kind of systems — especially missiles and submarines — needed to challenge U.S. naval power in the Pacific.

The Pentagon on Tuesday released a study of Chinese military capabilities. In a preview, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Singapore audience last month that China's arms buildup was an "area of concern." It should be. But we shouldn't get overly fixated on such traditional indices of military power as ships and bombs — not even atomic bombs. Chinese strategists, in the best tradition of Sun Tzu, are working on craftier schemes to topple the American hegemon.

In 1998, an official People's Liberation Army publishing house brought out a treatise called "Unrestricted Warfare," written by two senior army colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. This book, which is available in English translation, is well known to the U.S. national security establishment but remains practically unheard of among the general public.

"Unrestricted Warfare" recognizes that it is practically impossible to challenge the U.S. on its own terms. No one else can afford to build mega-expensive weapons systems like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which will cost more than $200 billion to develop. "The way to extricate oneself from this predicament," the authors write, "is to develop a different approach."

Their different approaches include financial warfare (subverting banking systems and stock markets), drug warfare (attacking the fabric of society by flooding it with illicit drugs), psychological and media warfare (manipulating perceptions to break down enemy will), international law warfare (blocking enemy actions using multinational organizations), resource warfare (seizing control of vital natural resources), even ecological warfare (creating man-made earthquakes or other natural disasters).

Cols. Qiao and Wang write approvingly of Al Qaeda, Colombian drug lords and computer hackers who operate outside the "bandwidths understood by the American military." They envision a scenario in which a "network attack against the enemy" — clearly a red, white and blue enemy — would be carried out "so that the civilian electricity network, traffic dispatching network, financial transaction network, telephone communications network and mass media network are completely paralyzed," leading to "social panic, street riots and a political crisis." Only then would conventional military force be deployed "until the enemy is forced to sign a dishonorable peace treaty."

This isn't just loose talk. There are signs of this strategy being implemented. The anti-Japanese riots that swept China in April? That would be psychological warfare against a major Asian rival. The stage-managed protests in 1999, after the U.S. accidentally bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, fall into the same category.

The bid by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Co., to acquire Unocal? Resource warfare. Attempts by China's spy apparatus to infiltrate U.S. high-tech firms and defense contractors? Technological warfare. China siding against the U.S. in the U.N. Security Council over the invasion of Iraq? International law warfare. Gen. Zhu's threat to nuke the U.S.? Media warfare.

And so on. Once you know what to look for, the pieces fall into place with disturbing ease. Of course, most of these events have alternative, more benign explanations: Maybe Gen. Zhu is an eccentric old coot who's seen "Dr. Strangelove" a few too many times.

The deliberate ambiguity makes it hard to craft a response to "unrestricted warfare." If Beijing sticks to building nuclear weapons, we know how to deal with that — use the deterrence doctrine that worked against the Soviets. But how do we respond to what may or may not be indirect aggression by a major trading partner? Battling terrorist groups like Al Qaeda seems like a cinch by comparison.

This is not a challenge the Pentagon is set up to address, but it's an urgent issue for the years ahead.

Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

economist: google valuation sign of another bubble?

jul 21st

i too am getting a little sceptical of google's stratospheric valuation.

in the meantime, hp is laying off 15,000. kodak is laying off 15,000. these are not good signals.

microsoft is suing google for hiring away the head of its china lab.

apple looks like it is going to bring out a video ipod.

for those who want to be podcasters, there is free software called audacity that does the trick of recording. a good mike is suggested. and then you have to get it into itunes' list of podcasts.

china lets yuan float in narrow band; maytag and unocal bids rebuffed

jul 21st

as san mentioned, the chinese have decoupled the yuan from the dollar, which is good news and bad news. good news in that the cost of chinese goods will increase. bad news in that they will be able to buy more stuff in america.

but their bids for maytag and unocal have been firmly rebuffed. these firms will remain in american hands

how to convince everyone you're not ready for prime time

jul 21st

pathetic! eye-witness account of c-span coverage.

why do indian politicians (of all stripes) always reliably buttress the impression that they are really rustics from a banana republic?


forwarded by a friend

Poorly Prepped P.M.'s Poor Performance At The Joint Session Of Congress

The Prime Minister of the Republic of India was about seven minutes late for
his address. Live on C-SPAN from 10:00 A.M., Vice President Dick Cheney and
Speaker Dennis Hastert stood awkwardly near their chairs, not talking to
anyone, till the P.M. showed up.

The P.M., as is customary for guests at the Joint Session, was escorted by
Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Although the P.M. shook hands with the VP and the Speaker upon reaching the
dais, his handshake with Hastert appeared very brief and not full and firm.
The P.M., really a bureaucrat and not much of a politician, appeared
somewhat nervous. In comparison, his handshakes with some in the audience
and with the four Joint Chiefs of Staff (Pentagon) on the way to the dais
appeared more genuine. May be because of familiarity from the Generals'
prior visits to New Delhi. The P.M. surely has learnt the 'do's and 'don't's
of handshaking from all his years in the West.

(American diplomats receive lessons from the State Department on foreign
customs. They are taught how to do Namaste in Bharat and how much to bow in

Upon being formally introduced by the Speaker, the P.M. got the customary
standing ovation. It was, however, not thunderous. A speaker generally
starts saying 'thank you, thank you,' and the crowd then takes its time to
stop clapping. The P.M. seemed to enjoy the spectacle for quite a while,
before starting his 'thank you's.

Although the hall was mostly full, I noticed a large number of youngsters
there. I did not notice many prominent Congresspersons whenever the camera
spanned the audience; they had sent their interns and pages instead.

There has been some analysis of the substance of the P.M.'s remarks. This is
about the form. His delivery was remarkably poor. It looked like he was
handed the speech not too long ago and was not as familiar with it as he
should have been, as he read the papers in front of him. Many in the
audience, including the VP and the Speaker, read along as they were provided
copies. His ad-libbing left much to be desired. Two phrases stuck in my
mind, 'second-generation' and 'development process,' (which are not in the
published text) as he paused and smiled nervously in-between his deliveries
of phrases. ('Second-generation,' is spoken almost as one word, not
'second,' pause, look up, smile, and then 'generation.')

I wondered how many in the audience got bored with his reading rather than
speech-making, and tuned him out.

Certainly not a way to be persuasive. But then again, was he trying to
persuade anybody at all, having turned down invitations from the NY Times,
the Wall Street Journal, and PBS? Does he understand that his appeals to
Corporate America in this speech did not reach their targets, because
corporate execs do not watch C-SPAN but read the WSJ? Did someone tell him
that his deals with Bush on nuclear technology are useless till the Congress
decides not to withhold approval? That the American people do call and write
to their representatives and could oppose the technology transfer when
India-haters like the influential Rep. Ed Markey are seen blasting India on
the evening news? (I was surprised to notice Markey personally present at
the speech.) The P.M. is in dreamland if he thinks Bush is going to expend
his political capital, of which he has little left anyway, to see this
technology transfer through; Indian politicians themselves and the money of
the Indian-Americans will have to do the persuading.

When the P.M. talked about India's place in the U.N. Security Council, a few
people clapped. The camera showed a group of about half a dozen
African-American Congressmen not only refrain from clapping but snicker and
laugh derisively. This is profoundly troubling because we desis are deemed
to be racist. (When the P.M. of India visited Boston in 1994 or thereabouts,
the best hotel in Boston was told that only whites may serve the Indian
party. African-American employees were forced to take the day off, and filed
complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, keeping
the story in the news for a while. I had to apologize personally to my
colleagues; my brother had to explain to his colleagues that 'Mississippi
Masala' is fiction, not fact. Stories have also appeared about unfriendly
attitudes in India towards students from African countries.)

India needs the friendship of all forty African-American Congresspersons.

Today's Boston Globe already has headlined its editorial "Dangerous Deal
with India." To boot, yesterday's Times of India reports that the Indian
Embassy has fired its Washington lobbyists.

Although scheduled for an hour, the P.M. was done in less than forty
minutes. Probably a relief. When he finished, his escorts, Senator Frist and
Rep. DeLay approached, clapping, to see him to the door, all per the
customs. He, however, had no clue as to what to expect next. He repeated his
poor handshakes with Hastert and Cheney, and then pointing to the wrong
direction, asked the Speaker if he could exit that way, only to be pointed
to the waiting escorting party. (One cannot really miss the very tall Frist,
waiting a few feet away.) Later, when he proceeded the wrong way, Senator
Frist was seen grabbing his arm to turn him 180 degrees.

Unbelievable that the Indian Embassy does not know the protocol, or had not
taken the trouble to brief the P.M. Such faux pas could be ignored fifty
years ago, but India is on an equal footing and is competing with the best

The P.M. did clarify who his controllers are, paying a tribute in his speech
to the Late Rajiv Gandhi as the economic liberalizer of India, but
neglecting the Late P V N Rao for whom he was Finance Minister.

We know the P.M. is no orator. I personally was expecting much better job of
convincing than this show, though.

economist: diplomatic coup for india [sic]

jul 21st

this confirms it. if uber-atlanticist 'economist' thinks it's a good deal, then it means india has been raped in this deal, as brahma chellaney and kanchan gupta have written elsewhere.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

nytimes: china invents more history

jul 19th


since this fellow allegedly sailed around the indian ocean, why, it should be called the chinese ocean! seems fair to me, doesn't it to you?

and if it is called the chinese ocean, why, just like the south china sea, it must be chinese property, no?

the chinese must have oodles of party hacks who do nothing but invent (convenient) history.

we will soon find out that bengal and kerala are populated by the descendants of chinese sailors in this fellow's alleged fleet, just like vast tracts of africa are. so china does have a legitimate claim to begal, kerala, and most of africa, correct?

and oh, this alleged admiral was a muslim. that explains why marxists are so chummy with muslims, doesn't it?

ps: i dont know if this will come through in text, but this article was sponsored by an ad for a film called 'Separate Lies'. how appropriate!

China Has an Ancient Mariner to Tell You About

Published: July 20, 2005

NANJING, China, July 17 - The captivating tale of Zheng He, a Chinese eunuch who explored the Pacific and Indian Oceans with a mighty armada almost a century before Columbus discovered America, has long languished as a tantalizing footnote in China's imperial history.

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China Photos/Getty Images

The 15th-century seafarer Zheng He, now a huge statue in Shanghai. An outward-looking China is celebrating him.

Guillaume Bonn for The New York Times

Mwamaka Sharifu, 19, a Kenyan who claims Chinese ancestry because of a shipwreck.

Zheng He (pronounced jung huh) fell into disfavor before he completed the last of his early 15th-century voyages, and most historical records were destroyed. Authorities protected his old family home in Nanjing, but it was often shuttered, its rooms used to store unrelated relics.

Now, on the 600th anniversary of Zheng He's first mission in 1405, all that is changing. Zheng He's legacy is being burnished - some critics say glossed over - to give rising China a new image on the world stage.

Books and television shows, replicas of Zheng He's ships and a new $50 million museum in Nanjing promote Zheng He as a maritime cultural ambassador for a powerful but ardently peaceful nation.

Officials have even endorsed the theory, so far unproven, that one of Zheng He's ships foundered on the rocks near Lamu island, off the coast of today's Kenya, with survivors swimming ashore, marrying locals and creating a family of Chinese-Africans that is now being reunited with the Chinese motherland.

The message is that Zheng He foreshadowed China's 21st-century emergence as a world power, though one that differs in crucial respects from Spain, Britain, France, Germany, Japan and, most pointedly, the United States.

"In the heyday of the Ming Dynasty, China did not seek hegemony," says Wan Ming, a leading scholar of the era. "Today, we are once again growing stronger all the time, and China's style of peaceful development has been welcomed all over the world."

The Communist Party hopes to signal to its own people that it has recaptured past glory, while reassuring foreign countries that China can be strong and non-threatening at the same time.

Even within China, though, the use of poorly documented history as modern propaganda prop has generated a backlash.

Several scholars have publicly criticized the campaign as a distortion, saying Zheng He treated foreigners as barbarians and most foreign countries as vassal states. His voyages amounted to a wasteful tribute to a maniacal emperor, some argue.

Zheng He resonates, favorably or not, in Asia. Arguably for the first time since his final voyage in 1433, China is vying to become a major maritime power.

Beijing has upgraded its navy with Russian-built Sovremenny-class guided missile destroyers, Kilo-class diesel submarines and a new nuclear submarine equipped to carry intercontinental ballistic missiles. It has flirted with the idea of building an aircraft carrier, according to conflicting reports in state media.

Sustained double-digit increases in defense spending have helped make China one of the largest military powers in the world, though still well behind the United States. China says it aims only to defend itself. But others are skeptical.

"Since no nation threatens China, one wonders: why this growing investment?" Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld asked recently in a speech on China's buildup during a visit to Singapore last month.

Beijing clearly hopes history will help answer the question.

Zheng He was a Chinese Muslim who, following the custom of the day, was castrated so he could serve in the household of a prince, Zhu Di.

Zhu Di later toppled the emperor, his brother, and took the throne for himself. He rewarded Zheng He, his co-conspirator, with command of the greatest naval expedition that world had ever seen. Beginning in July 1405, Zheng He made port calls all around Southeast Asia, rounded India, explored the Middle East and reached the eastern coast of Africa.

The three ships Columbus guided across the Atlantic 87 years later, the Niña, Pinta and Santa María, could fit inside a single large vessel in Zheng He's armada, which at its peak had up to 300 ships and 30,000 sailors. Some of China's maritime innovations at the time, including watertight compartments, did not show up on European vessels for hundreds of years.

Zheng He was China's first big ocean trader, presenting gifts from the emperor to leaders in foreign ports and hauling back crabapples, myrrh, mastic gum and even a giraffe.

In time, though, the emperor turned against seafaring, partly because of the exorbitant cost, partly because of China's religious certitude that it had nothing to learn from the outside world. By the latter part of the 15th century the country had entered a prolonged period of self-imposed isolation that lasted into the 20th century, leaving European powers to rule the seas.

For Chinese officials today, the sudden end of China's maritime ambitions 600 years ago conveniently signals something else: that China is a gentle giant with enduring good will. Zheng He represents China's commitment to "good neighborliness, peaceful coexistence and scientific navigation," government-run China Central Television said during an hourlong documentary on the explorer last week.

Earlier this month, authorities opened a $50 million memorial to Zheng He. Tributes to him fill courtyard-style exhibition halls, painted in stately vermillion and imperial yellow. A hulking statue of Zheng He, his chest flung forward as in many Communist-era likenesses of Mao, decorates the main hall.

As the Zheng He anniversary approached, delegations of Chinese diplomats and scholars also traveled to Kenya to investigate the claims that islanders there could trace their roots to sailors on Zheng He's fleet.

On one remote island, called Siyu, the Chinese found a 19-year-old high school student, Mwamaka Sharifu, who claimed Chinese ancestry. Beijing's embassy in Nairobi arranged for her to visit China to attend Zheng He celebrations. Beijing has invited her back to study in China, tuition-free, this fall.

"My family members have round faces, small eyes and black hair, so we long believed we are Chinese," Ms. Sharifu said in a telephone interview. "Now we have a direct link to China itself."

The outreach effort has generated positive publicity for China in Kenya and some other African countries, as well as around Southeast Asia, where Zheng He is widely admired.

But Zheng He has been more coolly received by some scholars in China and abroad.

Geoff Wade, a China specialist at the National University of Singapore, argued in an academic essay that Zheng He helped the Ming state colonize neighboring countries. His far-flung expeditions aimed at enforcing a "pax Ming" through Southeast Asia, allowing China to wrest control of trade routes dominated at that time by Arabs, he wrote.

Several Chinese experts also questioned whether Zheng He's legacy is as salutary as government officials hope.

Ye Jun, a Beijing historian, said the official contention that Zheng He was a good-will ambassador is a "one-sided interpretation that blindly ignores the objective fact that Zheng He engaged in military suppression" to achieve the emperor's goals.

"These matters should be left to scholars," Mr. Ye said.

bloomberg: china's military expansion

jul 19th

yeah right, the 'peaceful rise of china' indeed. this is strategic deception.

MD Srinivas: the indian tradition in science and technology (excerpt)

jul 19th

interesting analysis by prof srinivas. relevant to the discussion we had on this blog about indian science vs. euro-science vs. faith, as well as the importance of language.

this adds to my contention that panini's grammar was the greatest invention of a single human mind in the history of mankind. there is much more to language than just communication. it is science, and nowhere has language evolved more than in india. the very system of the generation of consonant phoneme -- based on adding 5 variants such sibilant, epiglottal etc. to the basic ka, cha, ta, tha, pa sounds -- is itself a remarkable invention. compare indian alphabets -- totally systematic -- to say, english -- totally random. (see also the remarkable conjecture that mendeleev's periodic table ideas were an insight based on his familiarity with the recurring patterns of the letters in the devanagari -- and most other indian -- scripts. no wonder he talked about eka-silicon, dva-germanium, etc, as he knew samskrtam).

the 'reductionist' approach of euro-science, and the vanity that everything can be understood by reducing it down to smaller and smaller components, is now under challenge by the scholars asserting the 'emergent' principle of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

the indian approach -- it may be characterized as categorization and deductive/inductive reasoning from first principles/observation -- does not fall into the trap of mechanistic thinking.

Any study of the Indian tradition of science has to start with
linguistics. This is true not only because linguistics is the earliest
of Indian sciences to have been rigorougly systematized but also
because this systematization became the paradigm example for all other

Like all sciences and arts in India, linguistics finds its first
expression in the Vedas. For most of the Indian sciences, the elements
of study and the categories of analysis were established in the
Vaidika period, and the basic data was collected and preliminary
systematization achieved simultaneously. Thus for the science of
linguistics, we find, in the siksha and pratisakhya texts associated
with the various Vedas, a complete and settled list of phonemes
appropriately classified into vowels, semi-vowels, sibilants and the
five groups of five consonants, all arranged according to the place of
articulation that moves systematically from the throat to the lips.

Phonetics and phonology are, therefore, taken for granted by all
post-Vaidika authorities on etymology (nirukta) and grammar
(vyakarana), including Yaska and Panini. In the pratisakhya literature
we also find the morpho-phonemic (sandhi) rules and much of the
methodology basic to the later grammatical literature.

Indian linguistics finds its rigorous systematization in Panini's
Ashtadhyayi. The date of this text, like that of much of the early
Indian literature, is yet to be settled with certainty. But it is not
later than 500 BC. In Ashtadhyayi, Panini achieves a complete
characterization of the Sanskrit language as spoken at his time, and
also specifies the way it deviated from the Sanskrit of the Vedas.
Using the sutras of Panini and a list of the root words of the
Sanskrit language (dhatupatha), it is possible to generate all
possible valid utterances in Sanskrit. This is of course the main
thrust of the generative grammars of today that seek to achieve a
grammatical description of language through a formalized set of
derivational strings. In fact, till the western scholars began
studying generative grammars in the recent past, they failed to
understand the significance of Ashtadhyayi: till then Paninian sutras
for them were merely artificial and abstruse formulations with little

Patanjali (prior to the first century BC) in his elaborate commentary
on Ashtadhyayi, Mahabhashya, explains the rationale for the Paninian
exercise. According to Mahabhashya, the purpose of grammar is to give
an exposition of all valid utterances. An obvious way to do this is to
enumerate all valid utterances individually. This is how the celestial
teacher Brihaspati would have taught the science of language to the
celestial student, Indra. However for ordinary mortals, not having
access to celestial intelligence and time, such complete enumeration
is of little use. Therefore, it is necessary to lay down widely
applicable general rules (Utsarga sutras) so that with a comparatively
small effort men can learn larger and larger collections of valid
utterances. What fails to fit in this set of general rules should,
according to the Mahabhashya, then be encompassed in exceptional rules
(apavada sutras), and so on. In thus characterizing grammar, Patanjali
expounds perhaps the most essential feature of the Indian scientific

Science in India starts with the assumption that truth resides in the
real world with all its diversity and complexity. For the linguist,
what is ultimately true is the language as spoken by the people in all
their diverse expressions. As Patanjali emphasizes, valid utterances
are not manufactured by the linguist but are already established in
the practice in the world. One does not go to a linguist asking for
valid utterances, the way one goes to a potter asking for pots.

Linguists make generalizations about the language spoken. These
generalizations are not the truth behind or above the reality of the
spoken language. These are not idealizations according to which
reality is to be tailored. On the other hand what is true is what is
actually spoken in the real workd, and some part of the truth always
escapes our idealization of it. There are always exceptions. It is the
business of the scientist to formulate these generalizations, but also
at the same time to be always attuned to the reality, to always be
conscious of the exceptional nature of each specific instance. This
attitude, as we shall have occasion to see, permeates all Indian
science and makes it an exercise quite different from the scientific
enterprise of the West.

In Lingusitcs, after the period of Mahabhashya, grammarians tried to
provide continuous refinements and simplifications of Panini. Several
Sanskrit grammar texts were written. One of them, Siddhanta Kaumudi
(c. 1600) became eminently successful, because of its simplicity.
These attempts continued till the 19th century. Another form of study
that became popular among the grammarians was what may be called
philosophical semantics, where grammarians tried to fix and
characterize the meaning of an utterance by analyzing it into its
basic grammatical components. This, of course, is the major
application for which grammar is intended in the first place.

Grammars for other Indian languages were written, using Paninian
framework as the basis. These grammars were not fuly formalized in the
sense of Panini. Instead, they started with the Paninian apparatus and
specified the transfer rules from Sanskrit and the specific
morpho-phonemic rules (sandhi rules) for the language under
consideration. Such grammars for various Prakrit languages of the
North and also the South Indian languages continued to be written
until the 18th century. In the 16th century, Krishnadasa even wrote a
grammar for the Persian language, Parasi Prakasha, styled on the
grammars of the Prakrit language.

[From MD Srinivas, 2005, The Indian tradition in science and
technology: an overview, in: P. Parameswaran, ed., National Resurgence
in India, Thiruvananthapuram, Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram, pp. 52-62.]

Lead us not into temptation

jul 19th

as usual an excellent, perceptive piece by brahma chellaney.

the americans are simply catering to manmohan singh's ego. if they also give him a honorary doctorate from columbia, he'll also say (as he did in britain) that the americans are the greatest.

india is easily sidetracked by praise or flattery or other distractions like the recitation of flowery urdu poetry, while our soldiers and civilians die daily.

this is simply because india doesn't have a strategic intent. there is no broad, simple objective that everyone in the country understands and works with (well, at least the policy-making types).

compare this to america's:

'we have 8% of the world's population and enjoy 50% of its resources. the intent of our policy is to keep it that way': george kennan, us state department

or to china's:

'we want to conquer the world'

or to islam's:

'we want to conquer the world'

india's strategic intent depends on who you talk to:

'india has 16% of the world's population and enjoys 2% of its resources. the intent of all our policies is to keep it that way' -- jawaharlal nehru (no, he didn't actually say this, but he certainly acted as though this were his vision)

'we want india to be a chinese colony' -- all the marxists, and the english language media

'we want india to be a muslim colony' -- all the islamist fellow-travellers of jawaharlal nehru university and the english language media (on alternate days)

'we want india to be a christian colony' -- all the missionaries, 'dravidian' politicians, and 'saint' m. teresa

The Hindustan Times, July 18, 2005


India strives harder for external recognition than to build up its own strength


Lead us not into temptation





Manmohan Singh's address to the US Congress on Tuesday will attract more attention in India, where it has been billed as a major event, than in the US. In this interregnum between the Fourth of July holiday recess and Congress' month-long August break, many lawmakers will be absent, and their seats will be filled by congressional staffers and their friends to create an impression of a full audience.


            Few in the US take such an event seriously. This is not the equivalent of a US president addressing the Indian Parliament, as Bill Clinton did, with appreciative MPs in full attendance and a live telecast captivating the nation's attention. Yet because the Indians make a big deal of such an event, as when Vajpayee addressed Congress, the Americans find it useful to pander to Indian pride through such a gesture.


            India's craving for international recognition and status is so apparent that other powers play to that weakness through pleasing if empty gestures or statements. The best way a foreign power can get a good press in India is by mouthing sweet nothings on India or lavishing attention on a visiting Indian dignitary. Each time the US president has 'dropped by' his national security adviser's meeting with a visiting Indian minister, India has read the gesture as a sign of its growing importance in US policy.


            India has come a long way since the gloom of the 1960s, a decade in which the Chinese invasion shattered its confidence, socialism began to fail and US wheat aid caricatured it as a begging-bowl nation. Today, a buoyant India is a knowledge powerhouse, a nuclear-weapons state and a food exporter. But it still manifests some of the same weak spots that led it to the earlier depths of despair.


            Much of Indian foreign policy quintessentially remains a search for status, a recognition from rich foreigners that India is not an assemblage of poor people repeatedly conquered by bands of outside invaders for nearly a thousand years. In seeking to play a greater international role, India unsuspectingly displays signs of its long subjugation, including a psychological dependency on outsiders to assist its rise. Pakistan also seeks status, as recompense for lacking a national identity, but it has a clear and immediate goal — undermining India. That aim gives a distinct focus to its foreign policy.


In contrast to India's fuzziness on goals, China, also ravaged by colonialism, has defined a clear objective for itself — to emerge as "a world power second to none" — and is expanding its capabilities at the fastest pace possible. India strives more for external recognition than to build up its own economic and military strength, even though status comes with might. Indeed, it began economic reforms, unlike China, not by choice but under external compulsion.


Much of the Indian discourse centres not on how India can grow strong and rich speedily but on gauging how popular the nation is becoming with foreigners — to which clubs it is being invited, which country is offering to sell what arms to it, the level of FII flows, and the latest 'special' gestures and laudatory references by a foreign power. India allows China to dump cheap manufactured goods but will not open up competition in labour-intensive manufacturing at home to provide productive employment to a quarter billion impoverished Indians who constitute the world's largest underclass. All important powers subsidise their military modernisation through arms exports but such is the lure of kickbacks and foreign trips that India's ruling classes have developed a vested interest in keeping the nation dependent on imports for almost all its main conventional weapons. 


The absence of clear, long-term strategic goals and political resolve only swells the longing for outside approbation and recognition. India is the only known country that overtly moulds its policies to win international goodwill. Even when faced with aggression, like in Kargil, India did not open a new front to relieve pressure and allowed the US to midwife an end to the war because its main concern was international goodwill. The desire for external endorsement and certification is deep-seated.


The rise and fall of great powers is testament to the critical role of vision, leadership, tenacious goals, capability growth and enabling ideas. India, however, faces a triple deficit in the key propellants of national power — a leadership deficit, a strategic foresight deficit and an idea deficit. Old, tired, risk-averse leadership operating on the lowest common denominator can hardly propel any nation to greatness.


A nation's influence and prestige are built on capability and what it stands for. Ideas and themes serve as the rationale to the assertive pursuit of national interest, providing the moral veneer to the ruthlessness often involved in such endeavour. The philosophy of non-violence, on which India was founded, was crushed in 1962. Non-alignment has become passé. India is left only with advertising itself as a liberal, secular democracy — a notable achievement but hardly a galvanizing element. Some may ask what sort of liberal democracy India represents when its president and prime minister are both bureaucrats who never won a single direct election and came to office by accident.


India has to start thinking the ideas that would enhance its appeal and help aid its rise as a great power. What does India wish to promote or offer internationally? Like in domestic policy, would India shy away from hard decisions if it were in the UN Security Council, as it should be in the seat of international power? The old ways of thinking are breaking down in India. But clear new political ideas are still to emerge in their place. The idea deficit has been laid bare by the PM's homage to British colonial rule and the leader of the opposition's homage to the founder of Pakistan — a double blow to the dogmas on which India was founded.


India's love of flattery makes it particularly vulnerable to seduction by praise. Remember the elation that greeted Washington's offer — made the day it decided to sell F-16s to Pakistan — to "help India become a major world power in the 21st century"? India has shown it can exercise power self-protectively to withstand external pressures. But the same India can be sweet-talked into ceding ground in a process of engagement. One act of defiance in May 1998, for instance, was followed by several acts of compliance, as Jaswant Singh fed the nation dreams sold to him by Strobe Talbott.


The itch to join every club, even if it's just a talk-shop or doesn't treat India fairly, needs to be contained. From showing up as an observer at the anaemic Shanghai Cooperation Organization to seeking membership of the US-led Nuclear Suppliers' Group even as it remains its target, India weakens its leverage. On the way back from the G-8 meeting, the PM said India will "apply for membership" of the fusion-power consortium. India should join a group by invitation, not by application. An invitation, however, will not come to a supplicant. The best way India can end the nuclear embargo against it is not by flaunting its 'impeccable non-proliferation credentials', as it childlike does, but by employing proliferation as a strategic card like China.


India should persist with its efforts to build a mutually beneficial strategic partnership with the US to help underpin its long-term interests. But if India allows process to matter more than results, the US will continue to play to its quest for status through syrupy promises while it develops aspects of the relationship beneficial to US interests. The warm ambience of Manmohan Singh's meetings in Washington should not deflect India from insisting that the relationship progress in a balanced way so that it secures clear economic and strategic gains, not status-enhancing inducements.