Un-Tibet

March 16, 2008 at 11:25 pm | Posted in annexation, British meddling, Burma, chimpanzee, CIA, civilian massacre, colonization, communism, Dalai Lama, democracy, dictator, discrimination, displaced persons, dissidence, dissidents, equality, ethnic cleansing, exile, forcible deportation, freedom of speech, global evils, government, human rights, Indian foreign policy, individual freedom, individual rights, intolerance, justice, liberty, man's inhumanity to man, Myanmar, peace, poverty, race, racial profiling, racism, self determination, Tibet | Leave a comment
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three chimps see no

None in the International community of nations, seems to be ready to bell the Chinese cat on Tibet. The policy of silence is loudest in Tibet’s closest neighbour – India.

It seems a shame that commercial interests combined with India’s real fear of confrontation with China on the disputed area of the borders in Arunachal Pradesh state, should be sufficient to cow down such an erstwhile champion of human rights as India. Still, the sad truth is that though the Dalai Lama is our guest in exile, in toto, that too is just for publicity’s sake and has little other than symbolic value.

Reading through Tibet’s long and tortuous history, we must again conclude that the death blows to Tibetan independence were finally dealt by the British in the early years of the 20th century, closely followed by a botched CIA operation during the 1950s.Like any unfortunate country that is lacking great enticements (like oil or mineral wealth), no other nation is willing to stick their necks out against the Chinese behemoth for the sake of a few million poor and exploited Tibetans. Europe is happy to support the right of Kosovans to self determination but won’t even whimper at the fate of the poor Tibetans.As with Sudan and Burma, so it is too with Tibet – a mysterious cat has got every single nation’s tongue!
The Chinese have been much more concerned with the possible effects on their precious Olympics. I think they have misread the world’s commitment to anything other than money. Our modern world’s shame is highlighted by the fact that ‘amateur’ sport has been so successfully exploited to become the biggest money spinner of all time. Catch the nations of the world putting principles ahead of the chance to collectively make some really fast bucks! If only even one country would demand autonomy or at least basic human rights for Tibetans before agreeing to Olympic participation… fat chance!

Just for fun, compare the “Freinds of Tibet” facts and figures with the Chinese version of ‘the truth’ and tell me what you think… There certainly is bias showing in Western reporting on Tibet but the Chinese story is simply pathetic.

Burma’s Bloody Gems

March 11, 2008 at 7:08 am | Posted in Burma, China, deforestation, democracy, forest, hardwood, India's double standards, Indian foreign policy, individual freedom, individual rights, injustice, junta, MNC, MNC nexus, MNCs, Myanmar, tree | Leave a comment
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Quoting from the Christian Science Monitor : “The government’s Myanmar Gem Enterprise – Burma’s third largest export company after the state-run oil and timber companies – has said gem sales have increased by 45 percent every year for the past three. The gem auctions, held once or twice a year since 1964, are becoming more frequent. All told, the official trade in Burma’s gems, according HRW, was valued at $297 million in fiscal year 2006-2007, but is estimated to actually be much higher when factoring in unofficial sales.”
The triumphant announcement of the growing success of the Rangon gem auctions comes after our morally bankrupt “world leaders” called for a boycott on Myanmarese gems. Most of the mines are government owned, with large shares going to individual memebers of the military Junta. The mines supply a world hungry for jade, rubies, diamonds, cat’s- eyes, emeralds, topaz, pearls, sapphires, coral, and yellow garnet. A further horror is that in typical fashion, all the mines have been confiscated from local communities and these same communities are now ‘employed’ there as forced labor – mostly women and children.
Interestingly, gem exploitation ranks only third in Burma’s export earnings. Oil and TIMBER take the lead (no boycott has been called against Burmese timber or oil!). In all three spheres, China studiously ignores all calls for international boycotts and is closely followed (though much more obliquely) by India. While some of the world’s gem trading MNC giants have officially supported the ban, many are also busy exploiting ‘the letter of the law’ and hiding the origins of their gemstones by rerouting the raw Burmese gems to other countries such as India and Sri Lanka in order to muddy the original source. In India, gem traders gleefully line their pockets with the bloody spoils of value addition as they polish and facet the gems to be exported as India’s own (it’s a Rs. 800 billion industry with India processing between 75 and 80% of the world’s gem stones).What a shame that the world’s largest democracy and a supposed champion of human rights would quietly allow their traders to deal with a monster state that makes its money by bleeding a fellow democracy to death.

Gender and Feminism, a New Maturity?

March 10, 2008 at 7:59 am | Posted in democracy, elections, equality, feminism, feminist, gender, individual freedom, Iraq War, physical appearance, race, racism, vote | Leave a comment
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One of the most fascinating aspects of the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has been the surprisingly variable response from women voters.tud of war women

Hillary was the feminist dream come true, or so we all thought, but a shockingly high proportion of women voters have plumbed for Barack – A trend that has been seen to be growing.

Immediately, some famous feminists have called foul. They feel that women who support the “young, handsome” male in this epochal battle are abandoning the faith. These ‘heretics’, they claim, have played true to sexist form in rejecting the more experienced and more iconic woman in place of the untried though charismatic male upstart.

Many of the older generation feminists have even expressed a surprisingly negative sentiment about the future with statements made like “this is the only real chance of my lifetime to see a woman become president”.

What I see though is that if for a moment one listens to these ‘traitorous’ voters, neither sex not rock star charm have anything to do with their choice. Many are in fact staunch feminists. The issue for them is ‘the issues’. The Clintons are a known quantity and many women do not like what they stand for. These voters are in fact thrilled to have a choice, and of a one who stands equally tall on issues of equality yet solidly against the Iraq war.

In the final analysis, for the young new American voter the choice has nothing to do with either gender or race and nothing could be more thrilling or actually more amazing. The iconic issues of the past have been foregone for a new, mature, approach to selecting the best PERSON for the job.

May the best person win…

click to go to Samantha Power’s original Scotsman interview…she’s an excellent example of a very broad phenomenon.

Whither Goest our Tiger?

February 22, 2008 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Animal Census, asian elephant, bamboo, biodiversity, bioinversity, biosphere, Bos gaurus, census, deforestation, disingenuous, ecosystem, Elephant, Elephas, endangered species, extinction, ficus, forest, forest department, forest strata, Gaur, habitat, hardwood, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, IUCN, Leopard, Ministry of Environment and Forests, mismanaged forests, MOEF, monoculture, niche, Panthera, paw print plaster cast, phototrap, poaching, rosewood, Sariska, scats, strangler fig, teak, Tiger, tiger population, tree, tribal, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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vanishing tiger

As early as a couple of years ago (especially after the IUCN study) it was obvious that India’s forests had reached a crisis point. Our top predator, the Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris) was at a population nadir. The known numbers of tigers had been suddenly found to be less than half of what it should be. Even more frighteningly, in certain important tiger zones like Sariska, the tiger has completely disappeared. The extinction of our tigers stares us in the face.

Those of us who frequent the forests and who regularly participate in animal censuses have known for quite some time that the forests are deteriorating and that we have been steadily losing the battle to preserve and protect what very little is left.

Disingenuous cover-up:

The tigers were never there in the first place! The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) and their minions in “Project Tiger” now want us to believe that poor counting technique is to blame for an earlier inflated statistic. Now that proper camera traps have been placed and things are being done in a more “scientific manner”, we should all acknowledge that the tiger popultion has not actually fallen – that the population always was less than half of what we had projected…

It’s a lie because:

1) Long term forest dwellers, the tribals and the Forest Department personnel in each forest, get to know their animals very well indeed. Larger animals like the elephants and certainly both the leopards and the tigers in each of our forests are easily recognisable and identifiable as individuals.

2) The census methods used in the past, though rough and ready, are yet certainly scientific enough. When censuses are based on physical evidence such as scats and plaster casts of paw prints then there is absolutely no way that someone can claim that the populations so determined are in inferior to that of phototrapping. I would argue that in fact the phototrap is a ridiculously unscientific way to determine absolute populations when compared to the older methods!

In fact we are left to surmise that if one takes the trouble to go through the physical evidence that had been gathered over so many years of painstaking censusing, the conclusion that our tiger populations have long been declining steadily and quite drastically will have to be reached. The problem then lies with the MOEF/state Forest Departments’ perennial habit of inflating the actual counts in order to satisfy the powers that be, and in order to pacify the many and vociferous critics of the government’s many inadequacies in this regard.

In other words they have been cheating on the numbers for quite some time, and quite systematically too, and now that they have finally been caught out, the easiest recourse has been to point the finger at the supposedly faulty methodology of the past.

But why has the tiger declined and is it only the tiger that is in trouble?

A case in point in the present instance is the debate on allowing forest dwellers to continue to occupy their niches within the confines of the many forests of our land. Persuasive voices say that here is a major factor in the degredation of our prime habitats.

There are many other factors too. Take a look at the great number of private estates that sit squarely within our forest areas. They are certainly doing their bit to destroy the forests around them for one thing, with their use of fertilizers and pesticides and for another the exploitation, contamination, and pollution of the forests’ precious water resources are all having a disastrous impact. Then we have our MOEF’s penchant for suddenly granting mining and even forage/fodder licenses in our few remaining forest areas. They will then even come up with environmental clearances for these absolutely destructive projects and all in the name of ‘development’!

But these issues, though important, are not yet the worst of the culprits. The forests as a whole are under great threat due to lopsided and simplistic mismanagement over many decades. We know that our hardwood fig “strangling”trees are being poached along with our sandalwood. Trees such as the rosewood and mahogany are simply never seen within our ‘Reserve’ or National Park Forests. If we can’t protect these huge trees that are so difficult to transport out (where the take per tree is less than 200,000 rupees now for the illegal logger) , then where is the question of our being able to protect our leopards and tigers? A tiger will earn a poacher not less than a million rupees and all that it takes is a well placed wire trap or some poisoned bait – and a buyer.

In other words, if we cannot protect our trees, there’s no way that we can claim to be adequately protecting our precious tigers. Combine the loss to poaching with the ridiculously bioinverse policy of planting large tracts of monocultures of “economically important” species such as teak or bamboo – and of course these then have to be harvested – and you do indeed begin to have the recipe for the disaster that now faces us.

Once the forest’s precious tree diversity is gone, the forest itself gets degraded and becomes a poorer and poorer habitat that will soon not be able to support top predators like the tiger. Biodiversity is undermined at all levels. Other critical animal populations, notably the elephant and bison, will then have to start wandering out of the ‘protected’ zones in search of food and water, and that will lead to increasing incidences of man-animal conflicts in the forest’s surroundings.

Too Little is protected

One final point for today’s debate: The earmarked, and presently “protected”, territory is very inadequate. Tigers roam over a huge areas of range. They spread out so that they do not much have to encounter one another. I have seen two wild tigers while hiking in scrub jungle, well outside the confines of the nearest reserve forest. Clearly we need to expand the buffer zones around the core areas of our remaining tiger populations. We also have to eventually find the funding to fence the forests and forest denizens in (and the poachers out). In the meantime, if we can start by adequately expanding the buffer areas and perhaps even provide linking corridors between nearly contiguous stretches of forest, this in itself will start to make a fantastic difference!

Environmentalists and forest watchers who care and who have raised their voices of protest have been silenced by committees of armchair scientists, most of whom have never even seen a real live wild tiger to speak of. It’s up to us now, the common folks of this great land of the erstwhile Royal Bengal Tiger, to keep the issues alive and to make the careless of officialdom accountable for the precious heritage that they are allowing to be destroyed before our very eyes.

IF YOU CARE AND WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE:

Let your voice be heard.forest strata

Make the protection of our forests a major issue of national importance.

Make a note of whom the current union and state ministers of Forests and Environment happen to be, and track their performance and the quality of their decision making very carefully. At the first sign of bad decisions, let the concerned party know that the mis-steps have been noted and will be issues to be discussed by the public (thats us!).

Publicise (write to the editor or to an investigative journalist of your local paper), document, and protest each and every incident of forest abuse that you see or find out about.

Get personally involved; participate in censuses, take up projects to help forest tribals become independent of the forests, talk to your friends about the plight of our forests and encourage one another to become activists for the sake of saving the little that still remains.

Teach your children well, for the future is in their hands…

This was first posted at Ponnvandu, and has now been slightly modified here. The issues are broad and of great importance so I’ve posted most of that article here.

What will be, will be our YOUTH

January 6, 2008 at 1:16 pm | Posted in avoidance, children, education, faith, teach your children, teach your parents, war | Leave a comment
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nonsequitur earth from moonYou who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

As a teenager, anytime mom and I would have a knock down drag out fight over any matters of cultural evolution or generation gap stuff – important stuff too, like having the FREEDOM to grow one’s hair long – I would eventually get round to playing this song, just a bit too loud, and mummy would laugh, after ensuring that she had indeed won the argument.

I look around at the youth of today, with a daughter in college and a son in high school, and I wonder. When I was a teen, the issues seemed clear. We were against war and for peace, we were for love and against hypocrisy, we distrusted the establishment and wanted to be allowed to learn from making our own mistakes, and we loved the music that spoke or felt of these issues.

pebbles
And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

(“Teach Your Children” written by Graham Nash and performed by CSNY)

Whether it is TV, or popular books, what is taught in schools or even what we read on the most popular internet sites, today no definite positions are ever taken. Avoidance of discussion seems preferable to fighting it out. The truth is a non-sequitur, and the activities of daily living have taken precedence over thought, belief, and principle, or perhaps we have lost the confidence to really believe in anything.

I would much rather that the youth do not follow in such nondescript footsteps.nonsequitur storm from space

While the amalgam of the strange ideas of the sixties may not provide answers for today’s dilemmas, in many ways there are now much bigger challenges than any we faced ‘back then’.

The paths that our youth choose to take, their beliefs, and their ‘code of the road’, will determine much for the future of what mankind is to become.

Choose wisely!


The song “Teach Your Children” can be heard in my current Christmas Playlist and that can be launched from the previous post. I also have “Que Serra Serra” on there too (What will be, will be).

Anyone remember Grandfunk Railroad’s Phoenix?

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2007

December 25, 2007 at 6:56 am | Posted in Christmas Wishes | Leave a comment
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Enjoy this playlist from PROJECT PLAYLIST, a new song sharing site that’s in its beta release: WordPress doesn’t like to embed the player here so “launch the standalone player”  (middle button) and enjoy!

Greg Manikiw on the Yin and Yang of Economics

December 15, 2007 at 8:50 am | Posted in competition, corporations, economics, economy, escher, free market, government, income dostribution, individual freedom, individual rights, liberty, market, market forces, Michael Kruse, MNC. economics, monopoly, poverty, right and left, selfish, socialism, taxation, trickle down, wealth distribution, world GDP | 2 Comments
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How do the right and left differ?

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The conclusion of today’s ec 10 lecture:

In today’s lecture, I have discussed a number of reasons that right-leaning and left-leaning economists differ in their policy views, even though they share an intellectual framework for analysis. Here is a summary.

  • The right sees large deadweight losses associated with taxation and, therefore, is worried about the growth of government as a share in the economy. The left sees smaller elasticities of supply and demand and, therefore, is less worried about the distortionary effect of taxes.
  • The right sees externalities as an occasional market failure that calls for government intervention, but sees this as relatively rare exception to the general rule that markets lead to efficient allocations. The left sees externalities as more pervasive.
  • The right sees competition as a pervasive feature of the economy and market power
  • ambidextrous-brain.jpg
  • as typically limited both in magnitude and duration. The left sees large corporations with substantial degrees of monopoly power that need to be checked by active antitrust policy.
  • The right sees people as largely rational, doing the best the can given the constraints they face. The left sees people making systematic errors and believe that it is the government role’s to protect people from their own mistakes.

      ambidextrous-escher-peeled-faces.jpg

  • The right sees government as a terribly inefficient mechanism for allocating resources, subject to special-interest politics at best and rampant corruption at worst. The left sees government as the main institution that can counterbalance the effects of the all-too-powerful marketplace.

    There is one last issue that divides the right and the left—perhaps the most important one. That concerns the issue of income distribution. Is the market-based distribution of income fair or unfair, and if unfair, what should the government do about it? That is such a big topic that I will devote the entire next lecture to it.

    Greg Manikiw on himself: “… a professor of economics at Harvard University, where I teach introductory economics (ec 10) among other courses.”
    Thanks to Michael Kruse for posting this up on his own exciting blog: Kruse Kronicle and that’s also a link to his excellent new series on “Living Simply in Abundance”.

How to be a Good Lemming

November 30, 2007 at 4:12 pm | Posted in communism, culture, developing economy, economy, fairness, filthy lucre, free market, global evils, God's kingdom, goods and services, human-performed, industrial evolution, justice, kingdom ethics, kingdom of God, mammon, market, MNC, multinational corporartion, per capita, poverty, real value, redundancy, socialism, trickle down, value addition, wealth distribution, world GDP | Leave a comment
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‘Tis the season to be jolly… would be quite frivolous if it were not at the same time also so profoundly real.
The Christmas season in the West is a time especially set aside for spending, purchasing, buying, gifting, and generally being very, very, jolly.

25k.jpgIn the U.S. the spending season kicks off with a bang at Thanksgiving, but all over the world, common sense will lead us to suspect that the jolliest of traditional seasons will begin soon after the annual harvest. Give a couple weeks or a month for all that excess to start getting distributed, and then them holidays, and that spending will ensue – it makes good sense.

In India we have that grand ‘festival of lights’, Diwali, that is strategically placed after the first harvest in October or November and then, in the South of India, there is a second celebration (Pongal) that comes right after the second monsoon season in mid-January and that forms the very exciting and satisfying climax to our times of splurging.

Economies and spending cycles that keep them vibrant have to be based on the presence of excess, and most times that excess is only available for a short while right after the harvest. Holidays are also timed to help to distribute all that ‘excess’ and just as efficiently as possible! Any great delay between when the excess arrives and the application of peak marketing pressure to get people to spend may result in that excess getting channeled into savings accounts – economists don’t like that at all. When we have plenty, and so much that we can even think in terms of excess, the purse strings will be at their loosest. Marketing has to strike while the iron is hottest but that is not the end of the story. We too help out by apparently just temporarily choosing to collectively forget that the upcoming year may hard and long.

Marketing the world over, is geared to maximise its hype just at these times. Spend – buy – purchase – CHARGE IT – or the ubiquitous EMI with 0% interest!

This year, the absolutely essential gadget is…

Everybody simply HAS to have this!

The teaser SAAALE! drags you out, ‘pushes’ you over that last little hump of caution, and then…inflation US

Insidiously, we also might not notice that we will really have to shell-out just a bit more this year than we did last year to get that ‘absolutely essential’ something. Economic cycles rely on the feeding frenzy to slip into the inflation mode too, for this is the one time of year that folks will be blithely unaware that the essentials just got a bit dearer. The small incremental adjustments will slip quietly into place in the corners of our subconscious even before we have time to register them, for there is so much else of an exciting nature to capture and hold our collective consciousness in thrall.

banknote-euro-usdollar.jpgValue addition is one culprit, but the yen for bigger profits is certainly another. For the corporates, turnover should increase, and so too should the return on investment, the profit margin. Balance sheets will be anxiously prepared as the financial year draws to a close. At stake is the size of the share price pie for that depends on ‘the figures’.

To the economist, inflation is a godsend. Deflation, when prices actually drop, (do you see red in the diagram above?) is an absolute disaster and must come straight out of hell. Modern economies rely on inflation to create the space in which value addition creates levels of work both in manufacturing/marketing and in services/marketing. More jobs, more earning, more spending, more money – MORE

Those little entries on corporate balance sheets called profit (net after taxes) quietly also rely on inflation. The trend is paradoxically opposed by innovation and new technologies! The whole complex process works together to keep standards of living on a slow rise that is slightly worse than what the actual inflation level would lead us to expect.

At some point people do question whether this all adds up. Of course it doesn’t, not nearly, but it sure looks good while it’s flowing along. Pension plans will be the most obvious harbingers of the bad news that eventually inflation catches up with you.banknote-rupee.jpg Other painful reminders include the cost of health-care, health insurance, and medicines. Long term savings plans and incremental investments will yield something but much less than they should when compared to the damage that inflation has quietly been inflicting.

Money and easy credit are the end of a very long road that has separated our spending from the realities of our actual contributions to life. Think about it, as it is you’re just the last stop between the ATM and the corporation that owns the store that you’re heading to with the plastique in hand!

What would happen if inflation were to stop? What would happen if our governments printed just enough notes to maintain a fixed amount of money in circulation? What would happen if value addition were to be replaced by true value? What would happen if the purchasing power of a dollar or of a rupee were to become rock steady?

Have you thought about it this year-before you start (or at least finish) spending that bonus?

What will this Christmas/Pongal bring I wonder? Is it perhaps even possible to have fun and fellowship with friends and without money? Will anyone believe that you love them anyway even though you didn’t push your plastic a few thousand more over its already strained limit?

GOLD > Coins > Bills of exchange > CREDIT Þ Transactions

HOMELESS Soldiering

November 24, 2007 at 10:17 am | Posted in army health, brain damage, brain trauma, damaged soldiers, homeless veterans, Iraq vets, Iraq War, PTSD | 6 Comments

Not so long ago we had taken a peek at stuff like PTSD and the psychological costs of sending our young people to war. John Doyle, over at Ktismatics has actually been working with Veterans and their unique problems for quite some time despite the VA’s refusal to allow outside psychologists in.

Now, new research indicates that there is also a very significant amount of actual brain damage being found in returning soldiers and recent Vets. The figures indicate that this happens FIVE TIMES more frequently than the army has been willing to admit to.

Listen to the NPRs interview (title link) with USA Today reporter Gregg Zoroya on his findings on the presence of brain trauma in soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. The army had reported only 4,000 so affected, but this study indicates that the numbers are 20,000 (so far), and that the vast majority of war returnees have not even been screened yet!

Another startling ‘statistic’ on veterans indicates that 1/3 of all the homeless in the U.S. A. are veterans. A rough estimate puts that at nearly a million vets (estimates range from 780,000 to 970,000 depending on who-take a look at some typical stats here, here and on Oldtimer.). A rough conservative calculation indicates that there are over 30 million Americans who could be classified as poor and of all of these about 1 in 10 is homeless. Another horrifying fact is that another one third of the homeless are children! One can expect that these stats will only get worse as the Iraq war returnees have experienced much longer tours of duty (than their Vietnam Vet friends) and will probably reach the crash out points that much faster. Add to that the spate of failed mortgages and the effects on families of losing their homes and their savings and you have a recipe for disaster.

I am not surprised that war veterans have suffered injuries that are both physically debilitating and mentally incapacitating. The chances of these sacrificial lambs successfully making it back into ‘normal’ life is always slim. What is surprising, very surprising, is that the army loudly touts it’s ability to “take care of its own”, but very obviously does not.

Soldiering has thus become just one more functionality in postmodern America. The lack of ideology is not as horrifying as the show of absolute callousness. It is quite impossible to believe that our armed forces do not know, did not anticipate, the sort of damage that our kids would be facing. Certainly, over four years into the war, they cannot only now be ‘discovering’ brain damage in returned vets. One naturally wonders how many of those in-service now are already suffering from such brain damage and either do not know it or are afraid to have it found out? The scenario is likely very similar to what is still the case for PTSD – denial.

Typically, the Neocon response has been to laugh it all off, with the Democrats not far behind, for this is a scandal of betrayal on a massive scale and it has been perpetrated in a singularly nonpartisan manner.

People, we are not talking about spin!

This is something much more like an information black hole - And with an election coming up too!

FARMING CONCRETE – India at 50/50

November 17, 2007 at 9:56 pm | Posted in corporate agriculture, developing agriculture, fairness, farmer suicide, free market, honesty, human-performed, justice, openness, planning commission, socialism, Yogi Berra | 4 Comments

We, the people of India, always seem to be at the crossroads.

For a country that is thought to be developing fast, a lot of the time we are quite uncertain as to our direction, and even more confused about our ultimate destination. Instead we are very busy doing what Yogi Berra once advised : “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Everyone seems to silently assume that our goal in ‘development’ is to become a clone of ‘developed’ economies as much like the U.S. or Britain, or Japan, and to transform into this heavenly vision just as soon as possible.

Having traditionally been socialist in spirit but officially non-aligned, India has largely come out of ‘the socialist trap’, and now appears to be leaning towards a capitalist, ‘free market’ economy, somewhat to the delight of those who like possessing, and using, Capital. Or, so goes the assumption at present, but do we really wish to become ‘more developed’ in this limited and warped sense?

What are we turning ourselves into? What are we to become? We have indeed emerged, but to what? At present we Indians seems to me to be in the grip of a particularly thick fog. We are incapable of seeing our own noses, let alone tackling any bigger questions. And one of the biggest questions revolves around what we are going to do with agriculture.

Here is today’s biggest fork in the Indian Road: 50% (yes, one half) of India’s 1.1 billion population is now urban. The growing urbanisation of rural populations is driven by the death of small farming as a viable way to make a living. As making a livelihood out of farming becomes less attractive to families and (by design) much more attractive to corporates, the trend will be that smaller farms will be abandoned to be consolidated by larger, capital rich, corporates who will then complete the mechanisation of agriculture (in the name of efficiency) and try to completely eliminate rural labour.

What are we going to do to employ the up-coming flood of ex-farmers? The number of farmer suicides is growing (though we seem to hardly notice) by leaps and bounds every year. Do we just let them quietly continue to commit suicide? What a convenient solution…

The problem of course, is more general than just agriculture. In a comment on a previous post, Mahil had alluded to the increasing drive for specialisation in our developing world. As the machine, aided by intelligent computerised control, takes over both production and process, where will human-performed jobs come from? From a different angle, another tough question to answer now is : How will our nation’s wealth eventually be distributed? Do justice, and fairness, and honesty, and openness have a say in our direction into the future?

Admittedly, our problems in India are not small ones. With a population of well over a billion people, somewhat scarce natural resources, limitations on arable land, and weather that always seems intent on either starving us with drought or starving us with deluges, it’s perhaps not surprising that we seem fixated on wondering mostly about the when and the where of the next meal.

The pundits tell us that now, security is the name of the game. Do you own a house? Have you financially planned for your children’s educations, and more worryingly, their marriages? have you got a couple of credit cards? Are you keeping up with the Krishnans?

The idea of planning, beyond the matter of the family’s survival, is not something that includes our neighbors, our rural cousins and our nation at large.

Being shortsighted produces a situation that is rife for those who do have longer term agendas to quietly set their plans in train. Our politicians seem sometimes to be hand-in-glove and sometimes (rarely) simply dupes. Eventually, when the truth of massive sell offs does emerge, all will perhaps claim to have been too easily fooled! This is not in any sense a ‘conspiracy theory’. I refuse to believe that folks that are so good at ingeniously lining their own pockets are as dumb as they wish us to believe on the questions of development and overall direction.

In theory, we have something called a ‘planning commission’. The only problem is that this too is a ‘socialist’ leftover and as such this commission now does little of substance. The current head is someone who explicitly believes in deregulating everything. The resultant “Five Year Plans” have become manifestos of what to dismantle first, and of how fast the markets can be ‘liberated’.

Our politicians are just as intent on survival (in the narrowest sense) as anyone else, but they are far-sighted enough to ensure that their monetary genealogies will survive for at least a few generations of their own profligate progenies.

In other words, motive and opportunity are known to be present in all developing economies. These are the ingredients of economic murder. Our economic c(r)ooks are particularly intent on making them coincident TODAY in India.

So, what are we going to do about it? Are we prepared to continue to be myopically concerned with our own little selves? Are you prepared to let your child’s nation’s future be quietly sold off to the highest bidder?

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