Saturday, June 30, 2012
Space technology is a growing sector with wider profit margins, and unlike IT there are relatively fewer competitors due to the high barriers to entry. Roping in Indian corporates will help to take India's space capabilities forward, helping to bring down the barriers to Indian access to space. Likewise, if the experience of spinning off PSLV to the private sector proves to be a good one, and once ISRO has proven its more powerful GSLV-Mk3 launch vehicle, then hopefully the experience could be repeated with that newer rocket. This will allow ISRO to focus more closely on developing its Reusable Launch Vehicle, which will achieve much greater improvements on cost-per-kg to orbit.
Consumers prefer tomatoes that are uniform in color over ones with splotches. But a new study found that the mutation that leads to the uniform appearance of store-bought tomatoes has an unintended consequence: It disrupts the production of a protein responsible for the fruit's production of sugar. There is also a significant difference in flavor between the two types of tomatoes.LATimes: Why supermarket tomatoes tend to taste bland
The lesson for consumers is that tomatoes with less-uniform hues are a better flavor bet.
Friday, June 29, 2012
The Carson Rotisserie is a portable unit based on Brazilian-style churrasco barbecues. Its battery-powered rotisserie skewers continue rotating automatically, thus avoiding the manual flipping for a regular barbecue:
This other one was created by a Brit, and is based on the tandoor oven. It's called the Nipoori:
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China's incoming president Xi Jinping's family 'has wealth of hundreds of millions' | nothing compared to India dynasty
Americans Are as Likely to Be Killed by Their Own Furniture as by Terrorism < how nice for Americans >
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Profit-driven ethos of liberalisation has led to unsustainable farming that has pushed peasants into a debt trap
Amid reports of inferior Chinese pesticides about to flood Indian fields, a disturbing blueprint emerges for ushering in a second Green Revolution via the 12th Five Year Plan by deploying the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The move may appear harmless since it seeks to link the 100 days-job guarantee for unskilled labourers/ peasants under MGNREGA with farming and enhanced agricultural productivity. The Union Ministries for Rural Development, Agriculture and Water Resources are reported to be charting out common ground in this regard so that farm labour is not diverted to MGNREGA, pushed by the Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council. It is the fine print of the scheme that raises questions about its real purport, if examined against the backdrop of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's insistence on a second Green Revolution and the UPA's proposal to legislate food security as the panacea for burgeoning food needs.
Given the controversial legacy of the first Green Revolution, spurred by the US via supply of toxic agro-chemicals and high-yielding but biogenetically engineered seeds as the pre-condition for giving wheat to India in the 1960s — one quotes cine star Aamir Khan on this, from his talk show favouring organic farming — the ruling coalition needs to come clean on its game plan. As Khan painstakingly depicts the disastrous fallout of sustained use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers in terms of the preponderance of degenerative diseases and growing infertility among people living in areas that have dense use of agrochemicals, poisoning of the food chain and water, and the consequent disappearance of insects, birds and animals, the view that the second Green Revolution follow an organic course needs to be incorporated into policy-making.
Khan, however, failed to detail organic farming which is livestock-driven with plant manure, worm compost and dung from cattle and other domesticated animals being used as fertilisers, and livestock urine and plant derivatives, such as the popular neemkhali driving away harmful pests. It is a non-violent and cheap resource, as opposed to insecticides/pesticides that indiscriminately harm living creatures. Use of cattle as draught animals, still widely prevalent in India, especially among farmers who lack the means to buy tractors and machines, justifies traditional methods that made the Indian subcontinent a wealthy agrarian economy. Even today, livestock, including cattle, donkeys, yaks, buffaloes and elephants are used for diverse purposes, depending on the region: Ploughing and leveling the field, cane crushing, oil extraction, water lifting, threshing (tramping), winnowing and transporting farm produce to markets.
Humans and animals thus become equal partners in the struggle for survival, with the importance of animals being implicit in the sanctity accorded to them within the cosmos. Cows, as suppliers of milk have special significance. In addition, the metaphysics exalting cows and, by extension, cattle, is evident in this phrase from the Atharva Veda — ‘The cow, in the form of the universe, may fulfill our desires.’ Their extensive use as draught animals explains why cattle, in particular, had sanctity in ancient civilisations: Indic, Zoroastrian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Chinese. And so, beef and leather, to a great degree, was taboo. Cattle continues to be revered here by many and among farming communities in some parts of Asia. Taboos against beef are prevalent even among sections of the Chinese, Burmese and allied people. Here, even the denial of access to revered pilgrimages, especially Vaishnav, to mlecch and Antayaj — foreigners and natives kept outside the social pale because they deployed living creatures, especially cattle, for gain and ate their flesh, termed forbidden food; both courses entailing violence — originated not from blind bias but from the sanctity accorded to life. Security guards at the Puri Jagannath temple forcibly thwarting American Noel Haydon from mounting the chariot of Lord Jagannath for darshan derives from this ancient restriction, even if he may not know it.
As cattle and other livestock came increasingly to be diverted to slaughter houses at the behest of the British for obtaining meat, leather and bones derivatives, they were seen in arid utilitarian terms.
The farming ethos further changed as land owners, in order to meet high revenue targets set by colonial administrators, in many parts replaced cultivation of grains and other edibles with cash crops — a practice that has received tremendous impetus from the compulsions of economic liberalisation. Farmers, whether in Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra or elsewhere, have switched over to cash crops such as cotton, exotic fruits and the like, requiring mechanised and chemical inputs that over time degrade the soil. Formerly, crop rotation and seasonal farming helped preserve fertility. The apparent short-cut to riches has turned into a debt trap. This, in fact, is the sad reality of farming trends today, with suicides being seen as the sole way out by those who cannot repay loans.
From: Rajiv Varma Hi Rajeev,http://globalhinduconference.org(If possible) kindly focus on classes, because that's what is unique. http://www.globalhinduconference.org/program/course-basics-of-christian-theologyhttp://www.globalhinduconference.org/program/course-evolution-of-hinduism-since-vedic-times http://www.globalhinduconference.org/program/workshop-how-to-present-hinduism-vis-a-vis-christianity Thanks in advance.best regards,
Here's my recent talk on neuroscience and wisdom in Washington, DC:
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the hans are past masters at diplomatic make-believe.
SINGAPORE — China could easily grab control of the disputed Scarborough Shoal fishing grounds in the South China Sea using its increasingly modern and powerful armed forces. Chinese naval, air and amphibious units, working in unison, already have the capability to enforce Beijing's claims of island ownership and maritime control in the northern sector of the sea, where the shoal is located just 220 km from the Philippine mainland.
China dwarfs the puny Philippine military. Yet it deliberately chose not to deploy its regular armed forces to secure the unoccupied shoal, even though the standoff with the Philippines continued for more than two months. On June 16, Manila withdrew its remaining two coast guard vessels from the Scarborough area, ostensibly because of a passing typhoon, without saying whether they would return after the weather clears.
There are several reasons for China's decision not to use warships. The Philippines is an ally of the United States and China could not be sure the U.S. would not intervene if Chinese armed forces became directly involved in a Scarborough clash and takeover.
In the past few years, China's increasingly assertive actions not just in the South China Sea, but also against Japan over disputed islands and maritime boundaries in the East China Sea, have alarmed and alienated many of its neighbors. "The last thing China wants is to see these countries and the U.S. joining hands against China," Chen Xiangyang, deputy director of the Institute of World Political Studies in the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, wrote in the online edition of China Daily on June 11.
This has created a major foreign policy management issue for China as it prepares for a once-in-a-decade leadership transfer later this year. At this sensitive time, and as its economy slows, China needs a stable neighborhood. Yet Chinese leaders bidding for the top posts cannot afford to appear weak in upholding national unity.
So China decided not to wield "hard power" over Scarborough. Instead it is applied softer paramilitary power, as well as diplomatic and economic pressure on the Philippines.
Deploying vessels from its growing fleet of paramilitary seagoing ships, some lightly armed and others unarmed, may remain China's preferred means of expanding its presence and enforcing its sweeping claim to sovereignty and other forms of jurisdiction over about 80 percent of the South China Sea, extending deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.
But there are risks with this paramilitary policy. It could still lead to armed conflict with Southeast Asian claimant countries, with Chinese regular forces becoming involved if reinforcements are required. Both Chinese and foreign analysts have warned of this danger if the various competing maritime law enforcement agencies of China continue to expand rapidly without firmer centralized control.
Attending the first intergovernmental maritime talks with China last month (May 15-16 in Hangzhou), Japanese officials found that five Chinese paramilitary agencies were involved: (1) the China Coast Guard, an arm of the Public Security Ministry; (2) the Maritime Safety Administration of the Transport Ministry; (3) the Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) of the Agriculture Ministry; (4) the State Oceanographic Administration's China Marine Surveillance (CMS), a unit of the Land and Resources Ministry; and (5) the General Administration of Customs, which is ranked as a ministry.
A study published two years ago by the U.S. Naval War College said that these five Chinese agencies had about 40,000 personnel, compared with some 12,000 in the Japan Coast Guard, although the latter is better equipped.
In fact, there are nine Chinese maritime agencies linked to different ministries and levels of government. They are sometimes referred to as "nine dragons stirring up the sea" because of their increasing involvement in disputed waters.
However, the five agencies represented at the talks with Japan are the biggest and most active at sea, with FLEC and CMS being most visible in recent months in both the Scarborough and East China Sea disputed zones. A senior CMS official said earlier this month that its fleet would have more than 520 vessels by 2020, about double its current size, while its personnel would increase to 15,000, from 9,000 now.
Four years ago, the CMS deputy director Sun Shuxian suggested that the force would serve as a surrogate naval unit. He told the China Daily on Oct. 20, 2008, that the CMS would be "upgraded to a reserve unit under the navy, a move that will make it better armed during patrols. ..."
Last March, Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan, deputy chief of the China Society of Military Science, called for the main maritime enforcement agencies to be integrated into a national coast guard under a ministry of seas and oceans to improve efficiency and policy control.
In an April report, the International Crisis Group said that by competing to increase their power and share of the budget, the nine dragons were stoking tensions in the South China Sea and making a settlement more difficult to achieve.
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Sen-Rothschild calls for cultural homogeneity in Britain and is
"appalled" that there can be schools run by non-Christians.
Only Christian faith schools are acceptable: Amartya Sen
PTI Jul 27, 2006, 07.02pm IST
LONDON: Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has attacked the Tony Blair
government for encouraging a society in which ethnic minorities were
defined almost exclusively by their religion and for allegedly
endorsing establishment of faith schools. He also said that faith
schools, barring those run by Christians, should be scrapped.
Christian schools "are perfectly acceptable" but other faith schools
"are a big mistake and should be scrapped if the Government wants to
encourage a unifying British identity," Sen said in an interview to
Claiming that the faith schools have been set up since the Government
wanted to give them parity with Christian institutions, he said, "I am
actually absolutely appalled."
Sen, who has come from Harvard, is on a Britain tour delivering
lectures on how religion is being used to pull this country apart and
to encourage inter-communal violence.
Speaking at the Nehru Centre last night, Sen praised Britain's
multi-cultural society but criticised the Blair government for what he
called two serious policy blunders - increasingly encouraging a
society in which ethnic minorities were defined almost exclusively by
their religion and endorsing the establishment of faith schools.
In the interview, Sen said, "Christian schools have evolved and often
provide a much more tolerant atmosphere than a purely religious school
would. A lot of people in the Middle East or India or elsewhere have
been educated in Christian schools. A lot of my friends came from St
Xavier's in Kolkata- I don't think they were indoctrinated
particularly in Christianity." But the new generation of faith schools
"are not going to be like that," he added.
Although he wanted mainstream British schools to broaden their
curriculum to include more on the contribution of, say, Muslim
mathematicians to science, Sen said faith schools "are a pretty bad
thing. Educationally, it's not good for the child.
"From the point of view of national unity, it's dreadful because, even
before a child begins to think, it's being defined by its 'community',
which is primarily religion. That also drowns out all other cultural
things like language and literature. I am a believer in the importance
of British identity."
But he wanted the definition to be framed in such a way that allowed
the evolution of a "plural multi-cultural society", rather than a
"mono-cultural" one in which different groups lived side by side with
"We have many different identities because we belong to many differe
nt groups. We are connected with our profession, occupation, class,
gender, political views and language, literature, taste in music,
involvement in social issues - and also religion. But just to separate
out religion as one singularly important identity that has
over-arching importance is a mistake.
"One of the problems of what is happening in Britain today is that one
identity, the religious identity, has been taken to represent almost
everything." "Of course, this policy immediately has the effect of
making some people extremely privileged - those who speak in the name
of religion. There may be some moderate people but mostly they are
extremists," he added.
"Religion has been inadvertently politicised by the UK government in a
way that is counter-productive. It makes the battle against terrorism
so hamfisted and clumsy," he said.
Vietnam's foreign ministry said that the blocks "lie entirely within Vietnam's 200-mile exclusive economic zone. This is absolutely not a disputed area. China says it has sovereign rights to the whole South China Sea, believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits. The sea is also claimed in whole or part by Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines."---
China has what is called a nine-dash line that basically extends from the Chinese mainland south all the way to the mainland of Malaysia - excuse me - and Indonesia and all the way up around up through the Philippines. So the whole central portion of the sea is claimed by China. Now, the other countries claim this is a ridiculous claim that China is making, that it does not conform to the Law of the Sea Treaty.
Vietnam is the top dog in this rivalry against China because the Philippines is a weak state with weak institutions. The Chinese don't really respect it much. Brunei is tiny. Malaysia's claims are much more - Malaysia has a much more balanced, even, you know, a friendly relationship with China. It's Vietnam that really drives the Chinese crazy.Ties Strengthening Between Vietnam And The U.S.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
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no seriously how can this man be considered a greater threat compared to the perverts who covered up child molestation - some of whom were promoted by the present darth rottweiler .
this khan fellow always struck me as a little to smooth - something like a desi david cameron.
full disclosure: I have not seen this show and don't intend to either.
it is sad to see the cultural decline. instead of encouraging Indians to contribute their time and actual effort in something worthwhile (like upkeep of ancient temples for example) - the market-entertainment model has turned everyone into 'couch-warriors' - content to buy their goodness on the cheap with their credit card.
this is sadly the consequence of following the worst excesses of american society. was it donald trump who said about charity - I give not to support some cause, but to be seen as supporting the cause
and these Bollywood culture-wallahs are full subscribers to the worst of america - from what they eat, to how the wipe their backside after they are done.
no this is not another post of jawaharlal; but these bankers really take the cake on this one.so if the LIBOR is not a reliable rate - what is?
the english banking sector is just a money laundering station anyway. such laundering being the only way to provide welfare for the thuggish, nasty and brutish underclass.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9359392/Key-emails-how-Barclays-manipulated-Libor.html
just like english premier league soccer is funded by suspect russian tycoons. a case of both bread-and-circuses being funded by black money.
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With Firefox for Android, Mozilla has finally produced a mobile web browser that can stand alongside rival offerings from Google and Opera. Long-term desktop Firefox users should find the web browser good enough, and while Firefox for Android might not offer any killer features, history tells us that having a choice of web browsers is always a good thing.The Inquirer: Mozilla finally takes Firefox for Android out of beta
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
sibal's goal with #IIT evisceration: produce more jairam rameshs, praful bidwais, and fewer manohar parrikars
Date: Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 8:04 AM
Subject: NaMo responsible for more than failed monsoon. - Rediff
Date: Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 8:18 AM
Subject: Pranab Mukherjee inadvertantly admits the truth
"In the backdrop of sharp criticism from some quarters over his performance as finance minister, Mukherjee said, “Not every decision I have taken might have been right. But I took them keeping in view the interest of the people whose faces appeared before me more than often.”
No prizes for guessing whose faces keep 'appearing' before this man and telling him what to do.
Hafeez Saeed is a major Isis asset, can't have him arrested.
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Monday, June 25, 2012
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eBay has decided to run a full data center on Bloom Energy fuel cells and use the grid only for backup power. Once installed in mid 2013, the 6MW array will be the largest non-utility fuel cell installation.
Fuel cells convert a fuel, such as natural gas or hydrogen, into electricity in a chemical reaction rather than burning the fuel. Bloom Energy's fuel cells, which each take up about a parking space, are solid oxide fuel cells which use the heat generated by the fuel-to-electricity conversion to improve the efficiency.(Makes a lot of sense if they can run their servers directly off DC power).
TR: EBay Goes All in with a Fuel Cell Powered Data Center
Afghan officials reject the charges, saying that there are plenty of militants on Pakistan's side of the border, asking why Pakistan would allege the culprits came from Afghanistan.
Maybe it's because Pakistan controls all the terrorists on its side of the border, and therefore knows when its own people aren't involved?
Sunday, June 24, 2012
New Delhi: As it prepares for Moon and Mars missions, ISRO is planning to hive off production of communication satellites and polar satellite launch vehicles (PSLV) to the industry.If satellite and PSLV production can be spun off to private sector partners, then conceivably likewise so could launch operations. We could have our own Indian private sector launch companies, like United Launch Alliance, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences in the United States. I think that following the great success of SpaceX's COTS2 mission to the International Space Station, ISRO has now seen the handwriting on the wall, and realized that privatization could bring in new cost efficiencies and better leverage Indian skills in space technology to market them to the rest of the world. This will result in a faster evolution of Indian space capabilities, and faster gains in Indian access to space.
The space agency is keen to focus on unique science projects, develop remote sensing satellites and do more R&D instead of engaging in the repetitive exercise of building communication satellites and launch vehicles.
"We want to explore the possibility of 'producing' PSLV and communication satellites through the industry," K Radhakrishnan, Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told PTI in an interview here.
The ISRO and its commercial arm Antrix Corporation have called for a meeting with the industry in September in Bangalore for a dialogue on the proposal and identify different work models.
"We want to find out what models could work out and evolve a plan. There is lot of repetition in building communication satellites," he said.
As a Japanese expert has pointed out in recent comments, one of the limitations for other countries in imitating the US move to privatize space launch services, is in having a domestic demand for space launch services strong enough to support a commercial space launch industry. Hopefully, India's fast-growing space sector will be enough to provide a sustainable market.
A comparison of average domestic fares prevailing in some countries for air travel above 2,000 km showed that those in China were higher than in India by 87 per cent, those in Australia by 182 per cent, in Canada by 162 per cent and in the US by 119 per cent.ET: 'Average domestic air fares in India lower than other nations'
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Saturday, June 23, 2012
Kerala is country’s most crime-prone state, NCRB statistics show http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Kerala-is-countrys-most-crime-prone-state-NCRB-statistics-show/articleshow/14364473.cms Deeptimaan Tiwary, TNN | Jun 24, 2012 NEW DELHI: These are one set of statistics Kerala will not be proud to
own up to: God's own country, and not the badlands of north India, is
the most crime-prone state, ahead of Uttar Pradesh and even Delhi. The latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures comparing
incidents of crime with the population of a state, notes Kerala is
most affected by crime and Kochi is the most dangerous city. Figures
compiled till 2010 show that Kerala has a crime rate of 424.1, more
than double the national average of 187.6. Kochi's crime rate is even scarier at 1,879.8 compared to most
cities, where the figure averages 341.9. NCRB's figures show that
Kochi also saw an exponential rise of 193% in crime in 2010 compared
to 2009. For a state that reaps praise for scoring high on literacy
and health indicators, the crime stats are unwelcome news. Crime rate - number of crimes committed per 1 lakh population — gives
a more realistic and comparative picture of law and order than a total
of offences registered in a state or city. A state with a larger
population can report a higher number of offences as compared to a
small state. But it is the crime rate that is an index of law and
order. Among states with significant population and area, Kerala has left
most others far behind with Madhya Pradesh a distant second at 297.2
offences per lakh population, and Delhi ranks third with a rate of
279.8. UP, much reviled on the crime front, has a crime rate of only
87.5. Kerala also ranks highest on incidents of rioting and arson with a
rate of 26 compared to the national average of 6.4, although Bihar at
8,809 incidents accounts for almost 13% of all riots in the country. To put these figures in perspective, NCRB has also compiled separate
statistics for violent crimes that include murder, attempt to murder,
rape, kidnapping and dowry death. On this count too, Kerala's figures
are high, inspiring little confidence in the state's government
machinery. Of the 2,41,986 incidents of violent crime in the country, Kerala
accounted for 11,756, more than much larger states like Rajasthan (10,
577) and comparable to its bigger neighbours such as Tamil Nadu
(12,333) and Andhra Pradesh (12,491). UP accounts for highest number
of violent crimes, recording 27,225 incidents. Even women are not very safe in the coconut country. The state's rate
of crime against women hovers at 27, higher than Delhi at 24.6, which
is often called most unsafe place for females. Bihar, incidentally, is
one the safest for women recording a crime rate against women of only
8.7 — second only to Goa with a rate of 8.
judge #posner throwing out #apple's #motorola lawsuit is a serious blow against aggressive litigiousness
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Ishwar Sharan"
Date: Jun 24, 2012 7:28 AM
Subject: [New post] Birth of Christianity: Facts & Fiction – A.P. Joshi
To: "A P Joshi"
This 67 page book draft by Ashok Joshi is well written and a good reference. It is posted on my Docstoc account with his permission, and can be downloaded from there. There may be some errors--such as calling the Roman Catholic Church an Orthodox Church (p. 3) and the very dubious reference to the Orpheus-Bacchus crucifix known to be a medieval fake (p. 47)--but otherwise it is packed with information and easy to read. - IS
New post on Bharata Bharati
Birth of Christianity: Facts & Fiction – A.P. Joshi
Click image to read BIRTH OF CHRISTIANITY: FACTS & FICTION by A.P. Joshi
June 24, 2012 at 6:57 AM | Tags: christian history, christianity, early christianity, israel, jesus, paganism, religion, west asia | Categories: archaeology, bible, christianity, cultural relativism, god, history, israel, jesus, mythology, pagan, religion, roman catholic church, satan, theology, west asia | middle east | URL: http://wp.me/pEi6D-9qJ
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Perfume that pig, as a southerner might say.
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Ram Narayanan" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Jun 24, 2012 6:53 AM
Subject: ASHLEY J TELLIS: PAKISTAN'S IMPENDING DEFEAT IN AFGHANISTAN
If you wish to respond to this message, do NOT hit the "Reply" button; please try email@example.com
Pakistan’s Impending Defeat in Afghanistan
Ashley J. Tellis
Commentary, June 22, 2012
Irrespective of how the coming security transition in Afghanistan pans out, one country is on a surprising course to a major strategic defeat: Pakistan. Every foreseeable ending to the Afghan war today—continued conflict with the Taliban, restoration of Taliban control in the southern and eastern provinces, or a nationwide civil war—portends nothing but serious perils for Islamabad. But judging from Pakistan’s behavior, it appears as if this fact has eluded the generals in Rawalpindi.
Pakistan’s Enduring Aim
Ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan has had one simple strategic goal on its western frontier: ensuring that Afghanistan remains a stable but subordinate entity deferential to Pakistan’s sensitivities on all matters of national security. Such deference was sought for a host of reasons. Islamabad wanted a guarantee that Kabul would not reignite the dispute over the countries’ common border (the Durand Line) and would not seek to mobilize the region’s Pashtun populations in support of either absorption into Afghanistan or the creation of a new nation. The Pakistani leadership also aimed to ensure that Afghanistan would not enter into close geopolitical affiliations with other, more powerful countries, such as the United States or India, in order to increase Kabul’s autonomy from Islamabad.
Amid the chaos that emerged after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan settled on supporting the Afghan Taliban as its strategic instrument for securing Kabul’s compliance with its objectives. Although the Taliban were not always dependable surrogates on these matters, they appeared better than other Afghan rivals, and hence Islamabad—despite its denials—has stuck by them to this day.
Whatever the intended benefits of this strategy, it has alienated both the broader Afghan populace and the government in Kabul, which now views Pakistan as a habitually hostile neighbor. It has also undermined the U.S.-led international stabilization effort in Afghanistan, as well as hopes for a peaceful security transition—not to mention infuriating Washington, which now views Pakistan as a perfidious partner. And it has provoked heightened regional rivalry involving Afghanistan’s neighbors, especially Iran, India, the Central Asian republics, and Russia, all of whom are determined to prevent a Pakistani-supported Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
Worst of all, Islamabad’s strategy promises to fundamentally undermine Pakistani security. Every one of the three possible outcomes of the Afghan security transition leaves Pakistan in a terrible place.
Destined for Failure
The most likely consequence of the security transition is a protracted conflict between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban that continues long after coalition forces have ceased active combat operations. These relatively low, but still significant, levels of violence would tax Afghan national security forces, distract the central and provincial governments, threaten the security of the average Afghan, and generally retard Afghan stabilization and reconstruction.
While such problems would be serious—though perhaps manageable for Kabul—they would by no means be favorable to Pakistan. A continuing insurgency in Afghanistan will further inflame passions in Pakistan’s own tribal areas and, given the links between the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, will intensify the threats to Pakistan’s own internal stability at a time when the country’s economic condition remains parlous and its relations with the West precarious. Most problematically, this outcome would deepen the estrangement between Afghanistan and Pakistan, induce Kabul to be even less accommodating of Islamabad’s concerns, and push Afghanistan into a tighter embrace of Pakistan’s rivals.
The more serious, though still middling, outcome of the security transition could be a de facto partition of Afghanistan arising from a steady increase in Taliban control that is limited to the Pashtun-majority areas in the southern and eastern provinces. Beyond undermining Kabul’s effort to preserve a unified Afghan state, this consequence would put at risk the international community’s contributions toward reconstruction in Afghanistan.
If Islamabad is satisfied by such a result, it should think again. Although the Taliban’s reoccupation of its heartland might appear to produce a barrier region controlled by Islamabad’s proxies, its worst consequences would not be limited to the inevitable meltdown in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations. Rather, the chief concern is the chaos that would ensue from Kabul’s military efforts (almost certainly aided by Pakistan’s regional rivals) to regain control of these territories—a chaos that would inescapably bleed into Pakistan’s frontier regions.
Even if Afghanistan were to eventually fail in these operations, the outcome would be deadly for Pakistan. Any Taliban control of southern and eastern Afghanistan would lay the geographic and demographic foundations for resuscitating the old Pashtun yearnings for a separate state, a “Pashtunistan” that would threaten the integrity of Pakistan. Given the current resentment of the Taliban leadership toward its Pakistani protectors, Rawalpindi should not to be consoled by the prospect of a Pashtun buffer along Pakistan’s western borders.
The last and most dangerous potential outcome of the security transition in Afghanistan would be the progressive Taliban takeover of the south and east en route to a larger attempt to control all of Afghanistan. This would be a replay of the tragic events Afghans faced between 1994 and 2001, and would plunge the country into a Hobbesian civil war. All Afghan minorities as well as Pakistan’s larger neighbors would be implicated in a cauldron intended to prevent Islamabad from securing its desired “strategic depth” at their expense.
A cataclysmic conflict of this sort would be the worst kind of disaster for Pakistan. It would not just provoke major refugee flows that would further undermine Pakistan’s difficult economic condition. It would also integrate the violence and instability currently persisting along Pakistan’s western frontier into a vast hinterland that opens up even greater opportunities for violent blowback into Pakistan itself. The disorder that such a scenario portends would not only put paid to any Pakistani dreams of “strategic depth”—assuming this concept was sensible to begin with—but it would end up embroiling Pakistan in an open-ended proxy war with every one of its neighbors.
Time to Reconsider
None of the plausible outcomes of the security transition advances Pakistan’s goal of creating a stable Afghanistan that would be sensitive to Islamabad’s core security concerns. Without doubt, Pakistan deserves secure borders and peaceful frontiers. Yet its own strategies—supporting insurgency and terrorism against its neighbors—have undermined its objectives. If Pakistan’s continuing behavior is any indication, it does not yet appear to have grasped this fact.
An unhappy ending to the security transition is practically guaranteed by Islamabad’s unwillingness to press the Afghan Taliban’s Quetta Shura to pursue reconciliation with Kabul and its reluctance to even call publicly upon the Taliban leadership to seek peace. On top of that is Pakistan’s continued reticence to clarify its preferred outcomes from the reconciliation process and its unproductive haggling over transit compensation for NATO shipments into Afghanistan. None of this convinces Afghanistan and the wider region that Pakistan means well. It may be true that Kabul will suffer most of all from Pakistan’s actions. But the generals in Rawalpindi ought to remember that their country too is facing strategic defeat if the international community fails in Afghanistan.
Ashley J. Tellis, Senior Associate, South Asia Program
Decision time for Chinahis spring in Beijing, I asked a businessman an obvious question about the risks to China of an economic crash-landing, to which I got a less obvious reply. It is impossible to travel around China without concluding that the place is in the grip of a building frenzy. In less than a decade, China has pumped around $4 trillion into property; tens of millions of houses and apartments as well as Ozymandian public buildings and factory estates – and what hits the eye is how much of it all stands empty. Across the country, uninhabited concrete blocks scab the land, not only in the megacities of the eastern seaboard but also in the sleepier southwest; from filthy mining towns in Henan, all the way to entire ghost towns in Inner Mongolia. With an estimated 65 million homes standing vacant, residential construction last year was still running at a rate of five times demand.
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "sanjeev nayyar"
Asma has a number of friends and well wishers in India. Not heard them speaking out in support!
After Saleem Shahzad, Will ISI Target Asma Jahangir?
Guest Column by Rajeev Sharma 22/6/2012
Known for ruthlessly targeting those it finds troublesome, Pakistan Army’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) begins by warning its potential victims by issuing threats. If they mend their ways, fine. If not, they are eliminated.
This happened to journalist Saleem Shahzad whose probing of the attack on key naval establishment, PNS Mehran, and writing reports of the involvement of naval personnel in the attack conducted by the Tehrik Taliban Afghanistan (TTP), led to his death. Shahzad had ignored several warnings and had continued to write his reports. They were published, among other places, in the Asia Online of Hong Kong. He went missing and even as ISI denied any involvement, his body was found in a village hundreds of miles away from his home. Protests against ISI go un-heeded in Pakistan. People have rarely gone to court, but have never won conviction.
Pakistan’s top rights activist Asma Jahangir has become the latest target. She has added to the feeling of fear in the country by speaking out about a plot to murder her. She said on June 4 that she has reason to believe the scheme “is not an invention of an individual mind but a conspiracy whose origins can be traced to security operators of the state.” She said: "I received an information leak that an assassination was sanctioned and planned. "I was made aware that my travel plans had been under surveillance for some time. It is very obvious to me that it would be the ISI pulling the strings."
She has not named ISI, but the allusion is obvious. The agency has not liked her speaking out on the human rights conditions in Balochistan. This is at a time when Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, to soften the blow of the army’s relentless campaign against the Baloch rebels, has been promising measures to bring Balochistan into “national mainstream.”
Jahangir also recently defended Pakistan's controversial former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani. He was accused of being behind a mysterious memo, sent to the Obama administration, asking for help to prevent a military coup after the killing of Osama Bin Laden in May last year. Human rights activists, lawyers and journalists are frequently murdered in Pakistan - especially when their investigations or work impinges on the interests of powerful groups. Asma Jahangir did consider leaving the country when she heard about the alleged plans for the "murderous attack" but has decided it is not an option. "I have seen more frightening times than this. Unfortunately we get numb to the signs of danger in Pakistan because we see so much of it around us," she said.
Alarm bells have rung at the allegation made by Asma Jahangir. Dawn newspaper commented editorially: “Ms Jahangir is respected the world over for taking tough positions in the most trying conditions and reporting on difficult situations at considerable personal risk. As a lawyer she has stood by the principle that every accused has the right to defence in court. Hers has been a journey replete with many dangers, but she is not known for raising too many alarms about her personal safety. That she has done so now is significant and cannot be ignored or speculated upon. This is a serious enough charge for the authorities to undertake an investigation, and an urgent one.”
The Gilani Government is silent. So is the ISI that has made no comment. Political parties including the Jamaat-i-Islami, MQM, PML-N, PTI and PPP have all slammed the reported threats to Ms Jahangir as have members of civil society.
Summing up the role the ISI plays in Pakistan, David Rhodes, a columnist of Reuters wrote last year: “Dominated by hard-line ultra-nationalists obsessed with defeating archrival India, the ISI has killed Pakistani journalists who openly criticize it, harassed human rights activists and undermined efforts to establish democracy. A shadow government unaccountable to the country’s weak civilian government, the ISI is widely feared by Pakistanis.” “More ultranationalists than jihadists, ISI officers believe they are the true guardians of Pakistan,” he wrote.
For ISI and those close to it, Asma is special. Because of her frequent visits to India, she is labeled many things ‘Indian’ – the best way to give any Pakistani a bad name. Among other things, she has been called “Indian puppy”, “darling of Delhi establishment” and is shown with Indian leaders Pakistanis love to hate, like Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Incidentally, she has never met them.
A report in daily Dawn said: “But this is not just about the safety of one person, however valuable she is to the causes she has been pursuing and the people to whom she has given a voice. Ultimately, it is about pluralism and safeguarding the dissent that is vital to all human endeavours. “Ms Jahangir vows the progressives in this country shall continue to fight. It will be tragic if those who are opposed to her creed resorted to violence instead of committing themselves fully and infallibly to the interplay between thesis and anti-thesis for forward movement,” the newspaper said.
This is not the first time that Asma Jahangir has been threatened. Asma, the founder of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the first woman to lead the Supreme Court Bar Association, has received repeated threats for raising the issue of corruption in the legal arena. But her talking of Balochistan’s situation, Pakistani media reports say, has irked the intelligence establishment.
Major human rights groups called on Pakistan to protect prominent lawyer Asma Jahangir and investigate allegations that the military and intelligence agencies have plotted to kill her. Asma has pursued human rights cases at home and abroad for more than 30 years. “Pakistani authorities should urgently and thoroughly investigate the alleged plot against Asma Jahangir and hold all those responsible to account, regardless of position or rank,” Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at the New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW), said in a statement.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, on an official visit to Pakistan, visited Asma in her home in Lahore on June 6 “to discuss this alarming development and show her support”, her office said. HRW and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said Asma had been a critic of the military’s policies in the insurgency-hit province of Balochistan and its alleged violations there, including killings, forced disappearances and torture. “Asma Jahangir has fought tirelessly as a member of the legal profession to protect human rights in Pakistan and around the world, at considerable peril to herself,” Wilder Tayler, ICJ’s secretary general, said in a statement. “So when she speaks publicly of a credible threat, the government of Pakistan should take it very seriously and ensure that she is protected,” he said.
Asma Jahangir served as UN special investigator on extra-judicial executions and later as UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief during 1998 to 2010, reporting on violations worldwide to the UN Human Rights Council. In recent months, Asma has “been at odds with the Pakistani military in a series of high profile stand-offs”, HRW noted.
In a significant commentary on the human rights conditions following the visit of Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Lahore-published The Daily Times said on June 7: “Ashton clearly told Gilani that unless Pakistan improves governance and the human and labour rights environment, no progress in the relations between the EU and Pakistan would be possible. She stressed that democracy without the rule of law, accountability and protection of human lives has little value. Our seeming indifference to human rights will end up making Pakistan pay. The situation of human rights is getting worse in Pakistan with each passing day. The entire country is engulfed in target killings, disappearances, abduction for ransom, honour killings and political victimisation. The informal economy has outpaced the real one owing to a difficult business environment and weak labour laws. Finding a gun, hand grenade or rocket launcher is easier than finding a job. No matter how loud Pakistan cries about its sacrifices in the war on terror, unless there is proof that Pakistan has learnt the lessons and is doing all in its capacity to turn the human rights situation round, favours and concessions from the EU are unlikely.”
“The stress on human rights by the EU,” The newspaper’s editorial noted, “has its parallel in the demands the US has been making on Pakistan to change its policy and stop supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s insistence on continuing with its dual policy for some later victory could prove dangerous for us. “Ashton’s visit is a reminder to Pakistan that the days of ‘window dressing’ are over,” the newspaper said.
(The writer is a New Delhi-based journalist-author and a strategic analyst.)
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Friday, June 22, 2012
[or 60] could fall to 58 next week, says Kotak Securities analyst-Analysis-Markets-The Economic Times on Mobile
#ally #partner in war against #terror US considers ‘hot pursuit’ raids into Pakistan - thenews.com.pk
The Hindu : Sci-Tech / Energy & Environment : Red list has 132 species of plants, animals from India
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Thursday, June 21, 2012
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No outrage from media?
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From: "Ravi" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Jun 22, 2012 4:12 AM
Subject: (Tamil Nadu) Hindu hacked to death by Muslims for marrying Muslim girl in Nagercoil
Man murdered for marrying Muslim girl
A 24-year old man was hacked to death allegedly by the brother of a Muslim girl and his associates for marrying her, triggering tension in Idalakudi area of the district, police said.
Ramesh, a goods carrier operator based here, had married the girl belonging to Idalakudi some months ago though her family had opposed it, they said.
On June 14, two persons had stopped Ramesh's vehicle and taken him to Idalakudi where a seven-member gang including the brother of his wife attacked him with iron rods, police said, adding he succumbed to injuries at a hospital yesterday.
As the news of his death spread, a group indulged in stone pelting in some localities in the area while some people blocked traffic to protest the violence, they said. Police rushed to the spot and dispersed both the groups.
Six hundred police personnel had been deployed in the affected areas, they said. Besides additional reinforcements had been rushed from Rajapalayam and Palani, police said. Shops in Idalakudi and Ilangadai areas remained closed.
Two persons were arrested and a hunt is on to nab the remaining five accused, they said. The situation was tense but under control in the area, they said.
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nipun mehta's incredible university baccalaureate address | [this is about civilization, still alive in rural india]
From: A P Joshi
Date: Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 2:13 AM
Subject: Fw: A memorable university baccalaureate address
Paths Are Made
by Nipun Mehta, May 14, 2012
(Baccalaureate address to graduates of the University of Pennsylvania)
For a bio of Nipun Mehta, please click on the attachment
2012's Baccalaureate speaker at the University of Pennsylvania was an unconventional choice for an Ivy League school. To address their newly-minted graduates, aspiring to dazzling careers, they picked a man who has never in his adult life, applied for a job. A man who hasn't worked for pay in nearly a decade, and whose self-stated mission is simply "to bring smiles to the world and stillness to my heart".
This off-the-radar speaker launched his address with a startling piece of advice. Following up with four key insights gleaned from a radical 1000 km walking pilgrimage through the villages of India. As he closed his one-of-a-kind Graduation Day speech, the sea of cap and gowned students rose to their feet for a standing ovation.
What follows is the full transcript of the talk by Nipun Mehta.
For a bio of Nipun Mehta, please click on the attachment
Thank you to my distinguished friends, President Amy Gutmann, Provost Vincent Price and Rev. Charles Howard for inviting me to share a few reflections on this joyous occasion. It is an honor and privilege to congratulate you -- UPenn’s class of 2012.
Right now each one of you is sitting on the runway of life primed for takeoff. You are some of the world's most gifted, elite, and driven college graduates – and you are undeniably ready to fly. So what I’m about to say next may sound a bit crazy. I want to urge you, not to fly, but to – walk. Four years ago, you walked into this marvelous laboratory of higher learning. Today, heads held high, you walk to receive your diplomas. Tomorrow, you will walk into a world of infinite possibilities.
But walking, in our high-speed world, has unfortunately fallen out of favor. The word “pedestrian” itself is used to describe something ordinary and commonplace. Yet, walking with intention has deep roots. Australia's aboriginal youth go on walkabouts as a rite of passage; Native American tribes conduct vision quests in the wilderness; in Europe, for centuries, people have walked the Camino de Santiago, which spans the breadth of Spain. Such pilgrims place one foot firmly in front of the other, to fall in step with the rhythms of the universe and the cadence of their own hearts.
Back in 2005, six months into our marriage, my wife and I decided to “step it up” ourselves and go on a walking pilgrimage. At the peak of our efforts with ServiceSpace, we wondered if we had the capacity to put aside our worldly success and seek higher truths. Have you ever thought of something and then just known that it had to happen? It was one of those things. So we sold all our major belongings, and bought a one-way ticket to India. Our plan was to head to Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram, since he had always been an inspiration to us, and then walk South. Between the two of us, we budgeted a dollar a day, mostly for incidentals -- which meant that for our survival we had to depend utterly on the kindness of strangers. We ate whatever food was offered and slept wherever place was offered.
Now, I do have to say, such ideas come with a warning: do not try this at home, because your partner might not exactly welcome this kind of honeymoon. :-)
For us, this walk was a pilgrimage -- and our goal was simply to be in a space larger than our egos, and to allow that compassion to guide us in unscripted acts of service along the way. Stripped entirely of our comfort zone and accustomed identities, could we still “keep it real”? That was our challenge.
We ended up walking 1000 kilometers over three months. In that period, we encountered the very best and the very worst of human nature -- not just in others, but also within ourselves.
Soon after we ended the pilgrimage, my uncle casually popped the million dollar question at the dinner table: "So, Nipun, what did you learn from this walk?" I didn't know where to begin. But quite spontaneously, an acronym -- W-A-L-K -- came to mind, which encompassed the key lessons we had learned, and continue to relearn, even to this day. As you start the next phase of your journey, I want to share those nuggets with the hope that it might illuminate your path in some small way too.
The W in WALK stands for Witness. When you walk, you quite literally see more. Your field of vision is nearly 180 degrees, compared to 40 degrees when you’re traveling at 62 mph. Higher speeds smudge our peripheral vision, whereas walking actually broadens your canvas and dramatically shifts the objects of your attention. For instance, on our pilgrimage, we would notice the sunrise everyday, and how, at sunset, the birds would congregate for a little party of their own. Instead of adding Facebook friends online, we were actually making friends in person, often over a cup of hot “chai”. Life around us came alive in a new way.
A walking pace is the speed of community. Where high speeds facilitate separation, a slower pace gifts us an opportunity to commune.
As we traversed rural India at the speed of a couple of miles per hour, it became clear how much we could learn simply by bearing witness to the villagers' way of life. Their entire mental model is different -- the multiplication of wants is replaced by the basic fulfillment of human needs.When you are no longer preoccupied with asking for more and more stuff; then you just take what is given and give what is taken. Life is simple again. A farmer explained it to us this way: "You cannot make the clouds rain more, you cannot make the sun shine less. They are just nature's gifts -- take it or leave it."
When the things around you are seen as gifts, they are no longer a means to an end; they are the means and the end. And thus, a cow-herder will tend to his animals with the compassion of a father, a village woman will wait 3 hours for a delayed bus without a trace of anger, a child will spend countless hours fascinated by stars in the galaxy, and finding his place in the vast cosmos.
So with today's modernized tools at your ready disposal, don’t let yourself zoom obliviously from point A to point B on the highways of life; try walking the backroads of the world, where you will witness a profoundly inextricable connection with all living things.
The A in WALK stands for Accept. When walking in this way, you place yourself in the palm of the universe, and face its realities head on. We walked at the peak of summer, in merciless temperatures hovering above 120 degrees. Sometimes we were hungry, exhausted and even frustrated. Our bodies ached for just that extra drink of water, a few more moments in the shade, or just that little spark of human kindness. Many times we received that extra bit, and our hearts would overflow with gratitude. But sometimes we were abruptly refused, and we had to cultivate the capacity to accept the gifts hidden in even the most challenging of moments.
I remember one such day, when we approached a rest house along a barren highway. As heavy trucks whizzed past, we saw a sign, announcing that guests were hosted at no charge. “Ah, our lucky day,” we thought in delight. I stepped inside eagerly. The man behind the desk looked up and asked sharply, “Are you here to see the temple?” A simple yes from my lips would have instantly granted us a full meal and a room for the night. But it wouldn’t have been the truth. So instead, I said, “Well, technically, no sir. We’re on a walking pilgrimage to become better people. But we would be glad to visit the temple.” Rather abruptly, he retorted: “Um, sorry, we can’t host you.” Something about his curt arrogance triggered a slew of negative emotions. I wanted to make a snide remark in return and slam the door on my way out. Instead, I held my raging ego in check. In that state of physical and mental exhaustion, it felt like a Herculean task-- but through the inner turmoil a voice surfaced within, telling me to accept the reality of this moment.
There was a quiet metamorphosis in me. I humbly let go of my defenses, accepted my fate that day, and turned to leave without a murmur. Perhaps the man behind the counter sensed this shift in me, because he yelled out just then, “So what exactly are you doing again?” After my brief explanation he said, “Look, I can’t feed you or host you, because rules are rules. But there are restrooms out in the back. You could sleep outside the male restroom and your wife can sleep outside the female restroom.” Though he was being kind, his offer felt like salt in my wounds. We had no choice but to accept.
That day we fasted and that night, we slept by the bathrooms. A small lie could’ve bought us an upgrade, but that would’ve been no pilgrimage. As I went to sleep with a wall separating me from my wife, I had this beautiful, unbidden vision of a couple climbing to the top of a mountain from two different sides. Midway through this difficult ascent, as the man contemplated giving up, a small sparrow flew by with this counsel, “Don’t quit now, friend. Your wife is eager to see you at the top.” He kept climbing. A few days later, when the wife found herself on the brink of quitting, the little sparrow showed up with the same message. Step by step, their love sustained their journey all the way to the mountaintop. Visited by the timely grace of this vision, I shed a few grateful tears -- and this story became a touchstone not only in our relationship, but many other noble friendships as well.
So I encourage you to cultivate equanimity and accept whatever life tosses into your laps -- when you do that, you will be blessed with the insight of an inner transformation that is yours to keep for all of time.
The L in WALK stands for Love. The more we learned from nature, and built a kind of inner resilience to external circumstances, the more we fell into our natural state -- which was to be loving. In our dominant paradigm, Hollywood has insidiously co-opted the word, but the love I’m talking about here is the kind of love that only knows one thing -- to give with no strings attached. Purely. Selflessly.
Most of us believe that to give, we first need to have something to give. The trouble with that is, that when we are taking stock of what we have, we almost always make accounting errors. Oscar Wilde once quipped, “Now-a-days, people know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” We have forgotten how to value things without a price tag. Hence, when we get to our most abundant gifts -- like attention, insight, compassion -- we confuse their worth because they’re, well, priceless.
On our walking pilgrimage, we noticed that those who had the least were most readily equipped to honor the priceless. In urban cities, the people we encountered began with an unspoken wariness: “Why are you doing this? What do you want from me?” In the countryside, on the other hand, villagers almost always met us with an open-hearted curiosity launching straight in with: “Hey buddy, you don’t look local. What’s your story?”
In the villages, your worth wasn’t assessed by your business card, professional network or your salary. That innate simplicity allowed them to love life and cherish all its connections.
Extremely poor villagers, who couldn’t even afford their own meals, would often borrow food from their neighbors to feed us. When we tried to refuse, they would simply explain: “To us, the guest is God. This is our offering to the divine in you that connects us to each other.” Now, how could one refuse that? Street vendors often gifted us vegetables; in a very touching moment, an armless fruit-seller once insisted on giving us a slice of watermelon. Everyone, no matter how old, would be overjoyed to give us directions, even when they weren’t fully sure of them. :) And I still remember the woman who generously gave us water when we were extremely thirsty -- only to later discover that she had to walk 10 kilometers at 4AM to get that one bucket of water. These people knew how to give, not because they had a lot, but because they knew how to love life. They didn’t need any credit or assurance that you would ever return to pay them back. Rather, they just trusted in the pay-it-forward circle of giving.
When you come alive in this way, you'll realize that true generosity doesn’t start when you have some thing to give, but rather when there’s nothing in you that’s trying to take. So I hope that you will make all your precious moments an expression of loving life.
And lastly, the K in WALK stands for Know Thyself.
Sages have long informed us that when we serve others unconditionally, we shift from the me-to-the-we and connect more deeply with the other. That matrix of inter-connections allows for a profound quality of mental quietude. Like a still lake undisturbed by waves or ripples, we are then able to see clearly into who we are and how we can live in deep harmony with the environment around us.
When one foot walks, the other rests. Doing and being have to be in balance.
Our rational mind wants to rightfully ensure progress, but our intuitive mind also needs space for the emergent, unknown and unplanned to arise. Doing is certainly important, but when we aren't aware of our internal ecosystem, we get so vested in our plans and actions, that we don't notice the buildup of mental residue. Over time, that unconscious internal noise starts polluting our motivations, our ethics and our spirit. And so, it is critical to still the mind. A melody, after all, can only be created with the silence in between the notes.
As we walked -- witnessed, accepted, loved -- our vision of the world indeed grew clearer. That clarity, paradoxically enough, blurred our previous distinctions between me versus we, inner transformation versus external impact, and selfishness versus selflessness. They were inextricably connected. When a poor farmer gave me a tomato as a parting gift, with tears rolling down his eyes, was I receiving or giving? When sat for hours in silent meditation, was the benefit solely mine or would it ripple out into the world? When I lifted the haystack off an old man's head and carried it for a kilometer, was I serving him or serving myself?
Which is to say, don't just go through life -- grow through life. It will be easy and tempting for you to arrive at reflexive answers -- but make it a point, instead, to acknowledge mystery and welcome rich questions ... questions that nudge you towards a greater understanding of this world and your place in it.
That’s W-A-L-K. And today, at this momentous milestone of your life, you came in walking and you will go out walking. As you walk on into a world that is increasingly aiming to move beyond the speed of thought, I hope you will each remember the importance of traveling at the speed of thoughtfulness. I hope that you will take time to witness our magnificent interconnections. That you will accept the beautiful gifts of life even when they aren’t pretty, that you will practice loving selflessly and strive to know your deepest nature.
I want to close with a story about my great grandfather. He was a man of little wealth who still managed to give every single day of his life. Each morning, he had a ritual of going on a walk -- and as he walked, he diligently fed the ant hills along his path with small pinches of wheat flour. Now that is an act of micro generosity so small that it might seem utterly negligible, in the grand scheme of the universe. How does it matter? It matters in that it changed him inside. And my great grandfather's goodness shaped the worldview of my grandparents who in turn influenced that of their children -- my parents. Today those ants and the ant hills are gone, but my great grandpa’s spirit is very much embedded in all my actions and their future ripples. It is precisely these small, often invisible, acts of inner transformation that mold the stuff of our being, and bend the arc of our shared destiny.
On your walk, today and always, I wish you the eyes to see the anthills and the heart to feed them with joy.
May you be blessed. Change yourself -- change the world.
This is a transcript of the Baccalaureate address to UPenn's graduating class of 2012, delivered by Nipun Mehta. Nipun is the founder of ServiceSpace.org, a nonprofit that works at the intersection of gift-economy, technology and volunteerism. His popular TED talk Designing for Generosity provides an overview of their work and guiding principles.