Sunday, January 14, 2007

"yoga today"

jan 14th, 2007

i picked up some podcasts of their daily yoga routines (1 hour long, 350 Mb), from iTunes. the stuff looks good. any comments on these guys?


virat0 said...

I haven't checked the podcast from Yoga Today, but I have checked the CD from Baba Ramdevjee. Costs 120 odd rupees. It is good.

Hindu Fundamentalist said...

Hi Rajeev,

OT. I thought you might be interested in this:

Interview with Nicholas B. Dirks.

My new book, The Scandal of Empire: India and the Creation of Imperial Britain is on the late 18th century, the British conquest of India and the trial of Warren Hastings. It tells also of the death of the Nawab of Arcot. Many of the British servants of the East India Company managed to control South India by credit, basically by continuing to give loans to the Nawab at usurious rates of interest that he could never repay. But this provided them access to his court, access to his lands, right to collect revenue on his behalf, and also the legal right to use him to conduct warfare. There were political wars that the Nawab conducted basically to collect money for his creditors, most of whom were these British civil servants who would come to India, make a fortune in four or five years, and then go back to London and buy big estates and often buy themselves seats in Parliament.

When I was working on the book, I did not realise that a cousin of Edmund Burke, a man by the name of William Burke, was an agent in the 1760s for the Raja of Thanjavur. It turns out that William Burke made a good deal of money representing the Raja against the Nawab of Arcot because the two of them were locked in a kind of battle in the 1760s-1770s. William Burke invested his money as well as Edmund's in East India Company shares in the 1760s. Then in 1769 there was a huge crash of stock value in the London because of the crisis in India. That year there was a huge famine in Bengal, like the 1943 famine, when a third of the population perished. When the market crashed, William and Edmund lost all their money. And poor Edmund, who went on the to criticise the Company, had a good reason to complain. I didn't know all these stories until I did this research. The relationship between the stock market, and investment, war, imperialism, then as now, was fairly similar.

KapiDhwaja said...

OT: Brahma on the devious Manmohan "Invertebrate" Singh from Deccan Chronicle...

A year of nuked promises
By Brahma Chellaney

Two oft-asked questions in New Delhi also have no clear answers. Who have been the Prime Minister's advisers on foreign policy? And why is he still doggedly pushing ahead with the nuclear deal despite the mortifying conditions attached by the US Congress and opposition from a majority of members of Indian Parliament? The ever-modest Manmohan Singh may be a foreign-policy neophyte, but his moves have come with self-assurance and tenacity. Blending affability with steely will, he has carved out ample political space for himself despite lack of a grass roots base.

Unlike his predecessor who scrapped plans to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and send troops to Iraq owing to failure to win political consensus, the present PM disdains consensus-building. It took him two-and-a-half years to have his first foreign-policy meeting with the main Opposition party, that too to discuss not a specific policy proposal but the general situation in the neighbourhood. He has not balked at springing major surprises on the nation, like when he publicly embraced terrorist-patron Pakistan as a fellow victim of, and partner against, terror.

One epitome of his penchant for policy by stealth — the nuclear deal — has sharply split India and raised troubling questions about the country's strategic future. Not many will question Dr Singh's efforts to build a stronger relationship with the world's sole superpower, given the growing convergence of US-Indian geopolitical interests. But the deal has been pursued opaquely — with an in-depth scrutiny by Parliament blocked — as if what is at stake is the future not of India's but America's nuclear programme!

Ever since the PM signed on to a deal whose "final draft," as he admitted, "came to me from the US side" only after reaching Washington, controversy has snowballed in India. To make matters worse, Dr Singh has kept munificently contributing to the ever-shifting nature of the deal-related goalposts. In fact, 2006 was a year littered with his broken promises. Consider the following:

* The PM's August 17, 2006 assurances in Parliament were about a US legislative process that has since been completed without meeting most of his benchmarks. Yet, unfazed and undeterred, he has agreed to move on to the next process without admitting his assurances lie in tatters. To accommodate the new reality, the goalpost has simply been moved again. Dr Singh now wants the country to believe he would fulfil those assurances at the next stage — in the negotiations over a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement (the so-called 123 accord).

With the PM reiterating his commitment to the old assurances, an illusion has been sought to be created that there has been no breach of promise. Indeed, after the enactment of the conditions-saturated Hyde Act, the official spinmeisters have busily cultivated false expectations that a 123 agreement will be able to address India's concerns. The unpalatable truth is that Parliament has been taken for a ride.

The August 2006 debates in the Rajya and Lok Sabhas, and the PM's assurances, were centred on the concerns spurred by the tough conditionalities contained in the approved US House Bill and the proposed Senate version. "We have concerns over both the House and Senate versions of the Bill," Dr Singh told the Rajya Sabha on August 17. "I had personally spoken to President Bush in St. Petersburg last month on this issue, and conveyed to him that the proposed US legislation must conform strictly to the parameters of the July 18, 2005 statement and the March 2, 2006 separation plan. This alone would be an acceptable basis for nuclear cooperation between India and the United States. India cannot, and is not prepared to, take on additional commitments outside this agreed framework or allow any extraneous issues to be introduced."

The PM further amplified: "It is clear that if the final product is in its current form, India will have grave difficulties in accepting the Bill. The US has been left in no doubt as to our position." Leaving no room for ambiguity, he declared: "If in their final form the US legislation or the adopted NSG (Nuclear Suppliers' Group) guidelines impose extraneous conditions on India, the government will draw the necessary conclusions, consistent with the commitments I have made to Parliament."

Yet the US Congress went ahead and passed a conditions-loaded legislation that not only snubs the PM over his expressed concerns but whose accompanying explanatory statement also cites some of his specific August 17 assurances to Parliament to trash them. Such has been the extent of the rebuff that most of India's stated objections remain above the redline the PM drew on August 17, 2006.

Having repeatedly urged that judgment be withheld until the "US legislative process leads to an end product," the PM has surprisingly sung a different line now that the "end product" is before him. Hours before Bush signed the final Bill into law, Dr Singh had this to say to the Lok Sabha: "We appreciate the efforts made by the US administration and the bipartisan support in the US Congress which has led to the passage of this legislation. This law has several positive features which take into account our concerns.

However, there are areas which continue to be a cause for concern, and we will need to discuss them with the US administration before the bilateral cooperation agreement can be finalised. The House can rest assured that, in these negotiations, the commitments and assurances I gave to Parliament on August 17, 2006 will constitute our guidelines."
Note his appreciation of the legislation's "several positive features," none of which he has yet identified. Note too his curious contention that he intends to address the outstanding concerns about the new law (which has a series of Congressionally enforceable conditions) through discussions with the US executive branch! And, finally, note how he has now endowed his "commitments and assurances" with a prospective quality after de-linking them from a concluded process.

Having pledged not to allow the deal to "undermine long-standing policies that have a bearing on India's vital national security interests," the PM got a US law that does just that. In fact, knowing that the end result would be disagreeable to Indian interests, the official spin in New Delhi began in advance of the final Congressional passage, with the media being fed the claim that the US legislation cannot bind India and that what mattered was the 123 agreement.

* The key benchmarks enshrined in the July 18, 2005 agreement-in-principle were jettisoned by the PM earlier in 2006. The PM acquiesced to the shifting of the July 18, 2005 goalposts despite unequivocal assurances to Parliament that the principles embodied in the original accord were inviolable and constitute the sole criteria. He comforted the Lok Sabha on August 3, 2005, and the Rajya Sabha the following day, that the deal would be implemented strictly on the basis of those principles.

The principles, he elucidated, include India acquiring "the same benefits and advantages as other states with advanced nuclear technology" and undertaking "the same responsibilities and obligations as such countries, including the United States." He said: "Reciprocity is the key to the implementation of all the steps… Indian actions will be contingent at every stage on actions taken by the other side." Still, by March 2006, the PM had formally abandoned the idea of India getting the "same benefits and advantages" as America or undertaking only such "responsibilities and obligations" as applicable to the United States.

And far from Indian actions being reciprocal "at every stage," New Delhi unilaterally prepared — before the US had moved an inch — a plan to segregate its nuclear programme into watertight civilian and military compartments. The US sources tritium for its weapons from civilian power reactors, yet persuaded India to accept a stringent civil-military separation. The Indian action also did not square with the PM's unambiguous commitment in the Lok Sabha on August 3, 2005: "We will not do anything unless the United States' side honours its commitment."

In another breach of promise, this separation plan was finalised in lengthy negotiations with the US, with the PM himself tying up the loose ends in last-minute discussions with the US undersecretary of state before Bush's New Delhi visit. Contrast this with what he had committed in the Lok Sabha on August 3, 2005: "This separation will be decided voluntarily, solely on the basis of our own judgement. Nobody can from outside, say, 'Well, this is civilian, this is nuclear.' That determination will be made by the people of India, by our government, by our atomic energy establishment…" Next day, he was equally emphatic in Rajya Sabha: "It will be an autonomous Indian decision as to what is 'civilian' and what is 'military.' Nobody outside will tell us what is 'civilian' and what is 'military'."

After US officials had scoffed at the first draft of the separation plan submitted by India, with ambassador David Mulford thundering that it failed to meet the American "test of credibility," the number of Indian nuclear facilities listed as civilian and thus open to international inspections jumped to 35. And although Dr Singh had foresworn actions "limiting or inhibiting our strategic nuclear-weapons programme," he decided to shut down by 2010 the research reactor that contributes one-third of India's annual weapons-grade plutonium production. Tellingly, no replacement reactor has been ordered to date.

After pledging, "We will never accept discrimination," the PM ended up doing just that. While the five main nuclear-weapons states have the unfettered right to shift facilities from the civilian sector to the military, India agreed to lock its entire civilian programme in perpetual, legally irrevocable "safeguards" or inspections. The Indian action meant that the majority of "unsafeguarded" nuclear facilities currently operating worldwide outside the nuclear club of five would be opened to permanent inspections — a huge gain for the US non-proliferation strategy.

* However unintended and inadvertent, the PM has come to practise rolling benchmarks. Benchmarks are regularly being recalibrated to take stock of commitments that have been breached. Now that the Hyde Act has laid down the legal framework for the subsequent processes, further benchmark adjustments have become inevitable.

It began with the PM breaking his key assurances to Parliament that India would be treated at par with the other nuclear-weapons states, enjoying "the same rights and benefits" as them and undertaking only "the same obligations." Once that breach occurred, the benchmarks of July 18, 2005 ceased to be sole criteria for moving forward. So the PM had to restructure the benchmark basket to include as additional yardsticks the elements that incorporated the breach. To the July 18, 2005 benchmarks he added the March 2, 2006 separation plan and his subsequent statements in Parliament as extra points of reference.

Now, to camouflage the breach of his revised assurances to Parliament of August 17, 2006, the "end product" for his government is no longer what it said it was waiting for — the final piece of US legislation. Today, it plugs the 123 agreement as the product it looks forward to. Yet even the 123 agreement will not be the end product, for more has to follow before the deal can take effect. When ready, the 123 agreement, however, will get quickly added to the benchmark basket to legitimise the likely further dilution of the Indian stand.

The ugly reality is that the deal has got mangled beyond recognition since it was unveiled a year-and-a-half ago. While the original agreement-in-principle was between two equal states, the new US legislative framework overtly seeks to institute a patron-client relationship. And instead of a balance of obligations between the two sides, the enabling law identifies and formalises one-sided obligations over 41 pages.

Dr Singh began with high expectations, telling Parliament elatedly that the deal involved the "dismantling of the technology-denial regimes that have hitherto targeted India" and that with "the Americans on board, I think the fuel question for our reactors would be a thing of the past." He has seen those expectations dash by embracing the complexity and uncertainty of pursuing diplomacy with a country renowned for employing bilateral negotiations and its own legislative process to whittle down its obligations and gain a say in the other side's policy decisions. Even if chastened, Dr Singh clings on to the last hope.

With his pledges to Parliament broken, Dr Singh actually stays put on a broken policy. While his special envoy has signalled that the government could still "walk away" from the deal, the PM is even now loath to extricate India from an ever more deleterious deal. He acknowledges that "difficult negotiations lie ahead," yet reposes faith in a positive outcome to the 123 process. But then, didn't he place his faith in the US legislative process and sought to reassure Parliament? Can even the best-negotiated 123 agreement blunt the grating, India-specific conditionalities of the Hyde Act? In any case, what is the legal sanctity of a 123 agreement, given the way the US broke with impunity an earlier 123 accord over Tarapur?

Staying the course of a broken policy is not steadfastness but recklessness. Having helped move the goalposts in the wrong ballpark, the PM at least needs to stop grasping at straws and face up to reality. America has increasingly shaped the deal in a way to hobble the nuclear-weapons programme India built in isolation, in the teeth of rigorous US-inspired technology denial. With the US aim to lastingly retard that capacity now masked as high-minded altruism on the energy front, the deal has come to symbolise America's ingenious attempt to ensnare India while massaging its ego.

iamfordemocracy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KapiDhwaja said...

To continue from a comment posted by Habc on another thread regarding Veer Savarkar's grandson...

From the Pioneer,

BJP comes to the rescue of Savarkar's begging kin

Navin Upadhyay | New Delhi

For months, Pune denizens passed by an old man who sat listlessly on a busy street near Sarashaug garden.

The dishevelled and bearded man looked like a beggar, sagging under the weight of layers of torn sweaters and bundle of dirty clothes. He talked to no one and asked for nothing. Those who took pity on him offered him food, which was often snatched by street dogs.

On last Saturday a TV channel linked the man with history and disclosed that he was the grandson of legendary freedom fighter Veer Savarkar.

The live telecast of the plight of Praful Madhav Chiplunkar, an IIT graduate, should have been enough to create a storm and prompt the Government to step forward to rehabilitate him.

But nothing of that sort happened. Only the BJP came forward to rescue the man, whose grandfather has been a symbol of valour and sacrifice.

Soon after the telecast, BJP national spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad spoke to Maharashtra State unit president Nitin Gadkari and the party wasted no time in taking care of the Savarkar's grandson.

"It is a disturbing matter and it only shows how the nation has forgotten the heroes who laid down their lives for freedom," Prasad said.

"The BJP has always stood by Savarkar and we opposed the move to remove his plaque from the Cellular jail and brand him as a terrorist in the history books," Prasad said.

Gadkari told The Pioneer on phone from Nagpur that the BJP cadre from Pune would look after Chiplunkar for whole of his life. "He has been fully rehabilitated and it is our responsibility to look after him," he said.

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has also repeatedly come out to support Parful.

Praful is the son of Savarkar's daughter. An IIT graduate in chemical engineering from Delhi, he worked for an Indo-German company in Thailand and later with an Indian corporate.

Tragedy struck him when a fire accident consumed his wife and daughter in 2002 and he spent years recovering in hospitals. Later, Praful worked as a watchman in a shop and after he lost that job, pavement became his shelter.

Praful seemed to be still struggling to recover from the trauma. When he was asked on TV about Savarkar, he lapsed into silence and then mumbled, he was my Guru deo."

virat0 said...

At the moment, even in the blogosphere, Hindus outside India are more vocal than those within the country. Who does India belong to at the moment?

That you have to introduce yourself as an Indian, that in this blog, says quite a lot about the earth, if it is geographically segregated.

One random thought :-

For Bharat Mata, she has tolerated far more, the deamons and gods who descended with their weight and purpose. May be she is affectionate to give some warmth to her children[ this is not about nationalism and in a sense not strictly geography]. Millions thought they possessed her, she belonged to them. The greatest could only salute her- Oh mother you could carry Sri Vishnu.