Showing posts from June, 2012

Kejriwal hits out at Modi, says it’s ‘free for all’ in Gujarat

Ahmedabad:  Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was protecting his cabinet colleagues by not allowing prosecution against them, Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal said here today. Kejriwal said: “I don’t have evidence which shows that Modi is corrupt, but at least Modi is protecting his cabinet colleagues, by not granting sanction for prosecution of his Ministers against whom allegations were made, and also by not appointing Lokayukta for nine years. “For the past nine years, government has not appointed Lokayukta in the state but only indulged in politics over the issue. If Modi government was serious about creating a corruption-free state, it would have appointed Lokayukta,” Kejriwal alleged at a press conference here. “If a Minister or principal secretary in Gujarat has been indulging in corruption, who will investigate or inquire into it? There is no authority. “This is a very dangerous situation that there is no authority to investigate corruption of Ministers, high-ranking offi

Stunning! A century-old collection of photographs of India

Indian Glass Plate Negatives A century-old collection of photographs of India has recently been discovered in the RCAHMS archive. The rare and fragile glass plate negatives, which date back to around 1912, show life on the subcontinent at the high point of the British Raj.  The 178 negatives were stored in their original five-by-eight inch plate boxes and wrapped in copies of the 'Statesman' newspaper dating from 1914 . Founded in 1875, the 'Statesman' is one of India’s largest circulation English language newspapers, and is still published today. Highlights from the imagery include celebrations for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Calcutta in 1912 – the only visit by a British monarch to India while it was still part of the Empire – with the city’s buildings lit up at night in tribute; ships arriving at the Chandpal Ghat, the main landing place for visitors to Calcutta along the Hooghly river; pilgrims gathered for a religious festival on the Maidan, the

A Hard Rain Falling: on the death of TP Chandrasekharan and related matters (EPW, June 2012)

A Hard Rain Falling  by Dilip Simeon He went to bed, turned on the BBC World News and switched it off again. Half-truths. Quarter-truths. What the world really knows about itself, it doesn’t dare say :   John le Carre, in Our Kind of Traitor A baleful feature of contemporary Indian politics is the subjugation of the mind to partisanship in the narrowest sense. All commentary appears as the standpoint of this or that party, and hence not worthy of consideration by anyone other than the faithful. Serious dialogue fades away, and all we do is hurl ‘positions’ at one another. Communalism is identified with one party, caste-ism with another, corruption with a third. Conversation is reduced to sloganeering. We forget that the polity as a whole exhibits all these complex phenomena, regardless of which party commands power. And we also ignore the more far-reaching inquiry, into the acceptability of controlled mobs, private armies, vigilante groups and political assassination. Thes

Planning Commission To Launch Shaandar Shauchalaya – A Premium Toilet Chain

New Delhi.  After spending rupees 35 lakhs on  renovating  toilets in their office, Planning Commission has decided to launch a premium range of public toilets named  Shaandar Shauchalaya , which means luxurious washrooms in Hindi. These premium toilets are being projected as the high-end version of  Sulabh Shauchalaya , a popular brand of low-cost public toilets run by an NGO. “We want to make cleanliness a fashion statement,” Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission said, “We hope that the common man will start using public toilets when they will see the page-3 crowd and the affluent people use  Shaandar Shauchalaya  – a new range of public toilets.” Ahluwalia cited a report by Planning Commission that claimed that the usage of public toilets in India was very poor and people were still defecating or peeing in open. Planning Commission was very worried over this unhygienic trend and decided to promote use of public toilets. Since charity begins at home, Comm

Israel subjecting Palestinian children to 'spiral of injustice' - Children in military custody

A belief that every Palestinian child is a potential terrorist may be leading to a "spiral of injustice" and breaches of international law in  Israel 's treatment of child detainees in military custody, a delegation of eminent British lawyers has concluded in an independent report backed by the Foreign Office. Israeli soldiers stand guard over Palestinian children arrested in the West Bank  city of Hebron.  Photograph: Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA The nine-strong delegation, led by the former high court judge Sir Stephen Sedley and including the UK's former attorney-general Lady Scotland, found that "undisputed facts" pointed to at least six violations of the UN convention on the rights of the child, to which Israel is a signatory. It was also in breach of the fourth Geneva convention in transferring child detainees from the West Bank to Israeli prisons, the delegation said. Its report,  Children  in Military Custody, released on Tuesday, was based on a visit to

URGENT - Delhi Police says it is diffusing bombs

To The Police Commissioner, Delhi Dear Sir, Today's Times of India (June 27, 2012) carries an advertisement from you on page 5, with the following message: "Your city isn't about the bad news that you read about every day.. it's also about the good news that you don't..  Like the numerous bombs we  diffused , accidents we prevented...etc etc" Please note that ' diffuse ' means "to spread over a wide area".  If the Delhi Police is diffusing numerous bombs, it is very bad news indeed. The word ' defuse ' means to remove the fuse from an explosive. Perhaps you meant to tell us that you 'defused' bombs.  As a citizen of Delhi, I sincerely hope this is the case. yours sincerely Dilip Simeon

Gujarat worse than days of emergency: BJP leader Keshubhai Patel

In a fresh salvo at Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, veteran BJP leader Keshubhai Patel said on Tuesday that the situation in the state has become "worse" than the Emergency era.  Mr Patel, who was chief minister of Gujarat before being replaced by Mr Modi in 2001, has been targeting the BJP stalwart in the run-up to the state elections scheduled in December. The 82-year-old chose the 37th anniversary of the imposition of Emergency to slam Mr Modi and his style of functioning. "Today is the 37th anniversary of imposition of Emergency in the country. On this day, I would like to remind people what is the position in Gujarat," Mr Patel said in his maiden blog.  "Some parents of missing children of Gujarat wanted to represent their case to the chief minister. However, they were detained by the police and interrogated," Mr Patel wrote. "Those who do not have any political affiliation and want to put forward their point of view cannot meet the chief

Dhaka to honour Indian Colonel who rescued Hasina

Bangladesh will confer the Friends of Bangladesh Award on a retired Indian Army officer for his outstanding contributions in the 1971 war. Colonel Ashok Tara, now retired from service, rescued Sheikh Hasina, who is now Prime Minister, her mother Begum Fajilatunnesa Mujib, her sister Sheikh Rehana and her brother Sheikh Rasel from a house in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi where they were held captive by Pakistani military throughout the nine months of the country’s liberation war. A team led by Colonel Tara rescued them on December 17, a day after the Pakistani Army surrendered to the joint Bangladesh-India command in Dhaka. Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuyan said the award was decided on Monday at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Hasina. Earlier this year, the Hasina government prepared a list of 561 “foreign friends” to be honoured. The highest national award, the ‘Bangladesh Freedom Honour’, was awarded to Indira Gandhi for her role in the country’s liberation. In March this ye

Short man with tall character

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Edvard Munch at Tate Modern – in pictures

From paintings of vampires, deathbeds and murder sites to self-doubting self-portraits, Edvard Munch dedicated his life to depicting grisly scenes. Here is a selection of works from the man behind The Scream The Sun, 1910-13 Starry Night, 1922-1924 The Girls on the Bridge, 1927 See more:

Charles Dickens identified as author of mystery article

An article championing the rights of the working classes, published in one of the journals edited by Dickens for more than 20 years, has been attributed to the author himself "Any new Dickens material is exciting," said Drew. "It's not a new opinion [from him] but on the other hand, where an author has become as important as Dickens, it's as much about how he says things as what he's saying." The article comments in depth on the proposal to establish dining-halls and kitchens for the use of poor people – a move the author commends, as long as certain principles are adhered to. "The poor man who attends one of these eating-houses must be treated as the rich man is treated who goes to a tavern. The thing must not be made a favour of," he writes. "The officials, cooks, and all persons who are paid to be the servants of the man who dines, are to behave respectfully to him, as hired servants should; he is not to be patronised, or ordered

Tales in search of listeners: memories from post-Partition Punjab

This essay concerns two tales, narrated by two different people -- one a Sikh and the other a Muslim -- about the perpetrators of genocidal violence in east Punjab in 1947. The first telling dates to January 2003, when I was returning to Delhi from three hectic days at the Asian Social Forum in Hyderabad where my documentary   Ek Minute Ka Maun   was screened. It was on that journey on an overcrowded train that I met Sidhu, a burly middle-aged Sardarji with a weather-beaten face, who ran Sidhu Refrigeration and was an expert at setting up entire air conditioning plants by himself. The train lurched forward, gently nudging us closer, the distance further bridged by our common mother tongue of Punjabi.  In the way strangers open up to each other, he rambled on about a lifetime spent in Hyderabad. It was inevitable that the conversation of two Punjabis would turn inwards to confront the ghosts of India’s Partition in 1947. Sidhu remorsefully told me about how his paternal uncle had ki

Celebration in Egypt as Morsi declared winner

Tens of thousands of people flocked to Tahrir Square to celebrate Morsi's victory, where they waved Egyptian flags and chanted "God is great" and "down with military rule." Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Egypt's military ruler, congratulated Morsi on his victory, state television reported. Reactions also trickled in from around the region: The governments of Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the Palestinian Authority congratulated the winner. The final results:  Turnout: 26,420,763 (51 per cent) Invalidated votes: 843,252 Morsi: 13,230,131 votes (51.7 per cent of valid votes) Shafik: 12,347,380 votes Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said in a statement that he "respects the outcome" of the election, and "expects to continue cooperation with the Egyptian administration". Morsi made an oblique reference to Israel in his victory speech, when he promised to "keep all international treaties ," a vow which would i

21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity

People aren't always awful. Sometimes, they're maybe even just a little bit wonderful.   Here are 21 pictures to remind you of that fact. a man giving his shoes to a homeless girl in Rio de Janeiro. a villager carrying stranded kittens to dry land during floods in Cuttack   interaction between a Guatemalan girl and a tourist she just met. photograph of two best friends on a swing See more - they're wonderful!

Books reviewed: The Violent Visions of Slavoj Žižek

Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism  by Slavoj Žižek Living in the End Times   by Slavoj Žižek  Throughout the enormous corpus of work he has since built up, Marx is criticized for being insufficiently radical in his rejection of existing modes of thought, while Hegel—a much greater influence on Žižek—is praised for being willing to lay aside classical logic in order to develop a more dialectical way of thinking. But Hegel is also criticized for having too great an attachment to traditional modes of reasoning, and a central theme of Žižek’s writings is the need to shed the commitment to intellectual objectivity that has guided radical thinkers in the past. Žižek’s work sets itself in opposition to Marx on many issues. For all he owed to Hegelian metaphysics, Marx was also an empirical thinker who tried to frame theories about the actual course of historical development. It was not the abstract idea of revolution with which he was primarily concerned, but

Greek election result: an assessment

The New Democracy party will lead the government even though it is utterly clear that at least one in three of the voters who backed it think very little of the party but felt they had no other option. Greek voters gave their contradictory verdict: While 55% voted for parties that stood explicitly against the ‘bailout’ terms and conditions, a pro-’bailout’ government is about to be formed – such is the nature of Greece’s electoral system (which rewards the largest party with a bonus of 50 additional MPs in the 300 seat chamber). The New Democracy party will lead the government even though it is utterly clear that at least one in three of the voters who backed it think very little of the party and its leader but felt they had no option but to vote for them simple because the alternative, a Syriza government, might bring upon the nation the combined wrath of Berlin, Frankfurt and Brussels. This is as inauspicious a beginning for a new government with a mountain range of challenges as o

China: witnessing the birth of a superpower

The primary driver for change has been the movement of people. Over the past nine years 120 million Chinese people – almost twice the population of the UK – have moved from the countryside to the city. We had come from Japan – a democratic, comfortable, polite, hygiene-obsessed, orderly, first-world nation – to the grim-looking capital of a developing, nominally communist country that looked and sounded like a giant building site. For all enthusiasm, my family must have felt we were taking a step backwards in lifestyle. It required an adjustment of preconceptions. Like many newcomers, I delighted at discoveries of Chinese literature and Daoist philosophy, Beijing parks, the edgy eccentricity of Dashanzi and the glorious mix of classicism and obscenity in the Chinese language, though I never managed to master it. The mix of communist politics and capitalist economics appeared to have created a system designed to exploit people and the environment like never before . It was so unequa