Atanu Dey On India's Development

What’s the Matter Here

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Twitter is not exactly evil but does have a passing resemblance to it. Its saving grace is that you get to know what’s been happening even if, like me, you don’t read daily newspapers or watch news shows.

I confess to having a twitter account and just a few days ago posted my 1,000th tweet. Self-referentially it said:

All things considered, twitter is useful but it also blunts the desire to blog. It’s like junk food just before dinner time. I will resist the temptation.

So here are some topics that caught my attention over the last few days and which I mentioned on twitter.

Aug 6th I: Under the evil ideology, people lose humanity & descend into organized homicidal insane savagery

That referred to this:

Come out into the Streets to Save Sakine’s Life!

In the face of immense international opposition, the Islamist regime in Iran was forced to retreat from stoning to death Sakine Mohammadi-Ashtiaani, a 42-year-old Iranian woman, for ‘adultery.’ But it now seeks to kill her by other means! It has rejected even the offer of its associate, President Lula Da Silva of Brazil, who had officially announced that his country would grant asylum to Sakineh and her family. What the regime did instead was to refer her case to Saeed Mortazavi, nicknamed ‘the torturer of Tehran,’ now the Deputy Prosecutor-General.

Stoning to death is the standard response in some countries stuck in the 7th century CE. Here’s another instance I tweeted the same day:

Evils of an ideology that turns males into misogynistic monsters as obvious as the nose on your face

That referred to a TIME report on “Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban“:

The Taliban pounded on the door just before midnight, demanding that Aisha, 18, be punished for running away from her husband’s house. Her in-laws treated her like a slave, Aisha pleaded. They beat her. If she hadn’t run away, she would have died. Her judge, a local Taliban commander, was unmoved. Aisha’s brother-in-law held her down while her husband pulled out a knife. First he sliced off her ears. Then he started on her nose.

Taliban are “students” — students of Islam, to be specific. In this age of the internet, Google, and Twitter, it is impossible to avoid knowing about the horrors that an ideology is unleashing on humanity. It is as impossible to not be afraid of that ideology. Basic self-preservation elicits the fear response. I am an Islamophobe — one who is afraid of Islam. If you are not, you are made of sterner stuff.

Talking of horrors, yesterday was the 55th anniversary of the Aug 6th 1945 bombing of Hiroshima by the US. In an act which can only be described as state terrorism (not the first of its kind in the history of humanity, unfortunately), the US initiated the use of nuclear bombs on civilians:

On Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 AM, the nuclear bomb “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima by an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, directly killing an estimated 80,000 people. By the end of the year, injury and radiation brought total casualties to 90,000-140,000. Approximately 69% of the city’s buildings were completely destroyed, and about 7% severely damaged. [Wiki.]

Hiroshima was only the first. Three days after the Little Boy’s visit to Hiroshima came the Fat Man’s visit to Nagasaki.

By executive order of President Harry S. Truman the U.S. dropped the nuclear weapon “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945, followed by the detonation of “Fat Man” over Nagasaki on August 9. These two events are the only active deployments of nuclear weapons in war. . .

Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day.

. . .

According to the U.S. Department of Energy the immediate effects of the blast killed approximately 70,000 people in Hiroshima. Estimates of total deaths by the end of 1945 from burns, radiation and related disease, the effects of which were aggravated by lack of medical resources, range from 90,000 to 166,000. Some estimates state up to 200,000 had died by 1950, due to cancer and other long-term effects

Mass death merely becomes statistics. Nuclear bombs are not the only way to develop cancer. Christopher Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer recently. He wrote a piece titled “Topic of Cancer” (no doubt the reference to Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer”) for Vanity Fair. I can think of few celebrities whose personal health matters more to me than Christopher Hitchens. His piece is as always fiercely and fearlessly honest. He cares deeply about the world and he fights without pulling his punches. With his heavy smoking and drinking, it is not surprising that he has cancer but I still think it is unfair:

I have been taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction and have now succumbed to something so predictable and banal that it bores even me. Rage would be beside the point for the same reason. Instead, I am badly oppressed by a gnawing sense of waste. I had real plans for my next decade and felt I’d worked hard enough to earn it. Will I really not live to see my children married? To watch the World Trade Center rise again? To read—if not indeed write—the obituaries of elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger?

Here’s a bit from a Slate article from Hitchens, “Why Does Pakistan Hate the United States” (Dec 2009):

Why do the Pakistanis hate us? We need not ask this in a plaintive tone of “after all we’ve done for them,” but it is an apparent conundrum nonetheless. The United States made Pakistan a top-priority Cold War ally. It overlooked the regular interventions of its military into politics. It paid a lot of bills and didn’t ask too many questions. It generally favored Pakistan over India, which was regarded as dangerously “neutralist” in those days, and during the Bangladesh war it closed its eyes to a genocide against the Muslim population of East Bengal. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Washington fed the Pakistani military and intelligence services from an overflowing teat and allowed them to acquire nuclear weapons on the side.

This, then, is why the Pakistani elite hates the United States. It hates it because it is dependent on it and is still being bought by it. It is a dislike that is also a form of self-hatred of the sort that often develops between client states and their paymasters. (You can often sense the same resentment in the Egyptian establishment, and sometimes among Israeli right-wingers, as well.) By way of overcompensation for their abject status as recipients of the American dole, such groups often make a big deal of flourishing their few remaining rags of pride. The safest outlet for this in the Pakistani case is an official culture that makes pious noises about Islamic solidarity while keeping the other hand extended for the next subsidy. Pakistani military officers now strike attitudes in public as if they were defending their national independence rather than trying to prolong their rule as a caste and to extend it across the border of their luckless Afghan neighbor.

This is, and always was, a sick relationship, and it is now becoming dangerously diseased. It’s not possible to found a working, trusting, fighting alliance on such a basis. Under communism, the factory workers of Eastern Europe had a joke: “We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.” In this instance, the Pakistanis don’t even pretend that their main military thrust is directed against the common foe, but we do continue to pay them. If we only knew it, the true humiliation and indignity is ours, not theirs.
. . .
This will continue to get nastier and more corrupt and degrading until we recognize that our long-term ally in Asia is not Pakistan but India. And India is not a country sizzling with self-pity and self-loathing, because it was never one of our colonies or clients. We don’t have to send New Delhi 15 different envoys a month, partly to placate and partly to hector, because the relationship with India isn’t based on hysteria and envy. Alas, though, we send hardly any envoys at all to the world’s largest secular and multicultural democracy, and the country itself gets mentioned only as an afterthought. Nothing will change until this changes. [Emphasis added.]

I am saddened to realize that he will not live to be an old man. Here’s a brief video of a CNN interview of Christopher Hitchens where he talks “about his cancer diagnosis and religious beliefs. He also discusses the two types of prayer groups that have formed — those praying for his recovery and redemption, and those praying for his death.”

We all will die one day. So will everyone we know. So will everyone who will ever be born. The Buddha’s final words on his death bed were, “All composite things pass away. Strive for your own liberation with diligence.”

Hitchens will be missed most in the matter of Mother Teresa. He was her fiercest critic. There are scores of critics — even many who have worked for her missionary charity. One such former supporter of Mother Teresa working to bring her mission under scrutiny is Hemley Gonzalez.

The Facebook page on “STOP the Missionaries of Charity” has more on his work. A FORBES India article “Mother Teresa’s Legacy under a Cloud” reports that Hemley went to Kolkata in December 2008 and stayed for two months.

“I was shocked to see the negligence. Needles were washed in cold water and reused and expired medicines were given to the inmates. There were people who had chance to live if given proper care,” says Hemley. He narrates incidents of an untrained volunteer wrongly feeding a paralysed inmate, who choked to his death; and another where an infected toe of an inmate was cut without anesthesia. “I have decided to go back to Kolkata to start a charity that will be called ‘Responsible Charity.’ Each donation will be made public and professional medical help will be given,” says Hemley, who now runs a campaign on Facebook called ‘Stop Missionaries of Charity,’ and has over 2,000 members.

Closer to home, my friend Sandeep has an excellent post on his blog, “Celebrating the Century of a Fraud“:

The deeds of the deceased “champion of the culture of life” can very briefly be summed up thus:

* Sided with dictators
* Took money from known swindlers of public money
* Failed to return such money that she had received as donation
* Didn’t submit any account of the bountiful donations she received
* Didn’t really care for the “sick” and “dying” but used their condition as an opportunity to convert them to Christianity.

For a sickening blow-by-blow account of this incredible Christian zealot’s life and deeds, I refer you to Hitchens’ masterly The Missionary Position and this book available online for free. That said, it’s fairly easy to create a myth but tougher to propagate and sustain them for decades.

Moving on, here’s an interesting item: WikiLeaks posts huge encrypted file to Web.

LONDON — Online whistle-blower WikiLeaks has posted a huge encrypted file named “Insurance” to its website, sparking speculation that those behind the organization may be prepared to release more classified information if authorities interfere with them.
At 1.4 gigabytes, the file is 20 times larger than the batch of 77,000 secret U.S. military documents about Afghanistan that WikiLeaks dumped onto the Web last month, and cryptographers say that the file is virtually impossible to crack — unless WikiLeaks releases the key used to encode the material.

No one other than wikileak people know what that file contains. But I guess it contains what the title says: insurance. People who may wish the people who run wikileaks harm may reconsider because that file may have information that could ruin their (people who wish to harm wikileaks folks) day.

And now for some light-hearted fun. Air is the answer to power woes in Bangalore, says a report on NDTV. What’s the big deal? Someone uses compressed air to drive some equipment.

Nanjundaiah K, a management student, plans to provide uninterrupted power supply to his village using air power instead of electricity.

After designing city’s first phoenix air engine car, he plans lighting his village using the same technology.

“Preparations are on to light up my village using this technology,” said Nanjundaiah. “The technology has proven handy in making of my dream car. I hope to repeat the same on a larger scale.”

I know this is NDTV. You cannot expect journalistic excellence or even plain old-fashioned honest reporting. It is by the retards, for the retards, of the retards. In this case it is hard to tell whether the reporter or the “inventor” is the greater retard.

But this is not new. This happens fairly regularly in India. See this post on “Extraordinary Claims Investigated by the Profoundly Stupid”.

Have a good weekend.