Thursday, 27 November 2014

Eric Schlosser - Why we must rid the world of nuclear weapons

Much has been written about the nuclear negotiations with Iran. While diplomacy has received a great deal of attention, one important question too often gets lost in the details: why Iran must not get the bomb. In my view, the answer is quite simple. An Iran armed with nuclear weapons would pose a grave threat not only to world peace but to the Iranian people.
Almost 70 years have passed since the destruction of Nagasaki, the last time a nuclear weapon was used against a civilian target. The cold war ended without a nuclear exchange, and the dangers of nuclear terrorism remain speculative, thus far. The fact that a nuclear catastrophe hasn’t occurred since 1945 encourages the belief that because it hasn’t happened, it won’t happen. Or even that it can’t happen. An influential American academic, Kenneth Waltz, considered the proliferation of nuclear weapons to be a good thing; the more countries that obtained them, the better. “Those who like peace should love nuclear weapons,”Waltz argued. “They are the only weapons ever invented that work decisively against their own use.”
Many academics now agree with his contention that nuclear weapons discourage warfare between the states that possess them, stabilise international relations, and encourage world leaders to be more cautious. That argument does, in fact, accurately describe the recent diplomatic history of nuclear weapon states. But it reveals nothing about the future. It’s true – until one day, it isn’t.
Every country that possesses nuclear weapons must contend with their inherent risks. They are the most dangerous machines ever invented, extremely difficult to manage, for reasons both technical and administrative. Like every manmade object, they are imperfect. And so are the people who control them. The US first devised this technology, perfected it, gained more experience with it than any other nation – and yet has come close on numerous occasions to having American cities destroyed accidentally by American nuclear weapons. Political instability in almost half the countries with nuclear weapons has been a potential source of catastrophe. Split-second decision-making has brought the world close to nuclear war more than once and then narrowly averted it.
The Pentagon has long claimed that only 32 serious accidents have occurred with American nuclear weapons. But a document that I obtained through the Freedom of Information Act listed more than a thousand accidents involving US nuclear weapons just between the years of 1950 and 1968. Many of those accidents were trivial; others were more likely to produce a full-scale nuclear detonation than some of the accidents on the official list.
Seemingly innocuous things could have led to disaster. A tiny metal nut that came off a screw inside a B-52 bomber created a new electrical pathway, circumventing a safety switch and fully arming four hydrogen bombs. A maintenance technician investigating a faulty intruder alarm at a missile silo pulled the wrong fuse with a screwdriver, caused a short circuit, and blew the warhead off a missile. Four rubber seat cushions inadvertently stowed near a heat vent in the cockpit of a B-52 set the plane on fire, forced the crew to bail out mid-flight, and could have detonated hydrogen bombs at one of America’s most important, top-secret military installations.
Other countries came up with nuclear weapon designs that were vastly less safe. Had Saddam Hussein built nuclear weapons, they might have posed a greater threat to Baghdad than to any of his enemies. “It could go off if a rifle bullet hit it,” a UN inspector said about an Iraqi weapon design. “I wouldn’t want to be around if it fell off the edge of this desk.”
Five years ago Iran was wracked by massive demonstrations; the “green movement” seeking democracy was violently suppressed. Political instability and nuclear weapons are not a good combination. According to Bruno Tertrais, a former official in the French ministry of defence and a proliferation expert, four of the nine countries that now possess nuclear weapons are “known to have undergone severe political crises affecting nuclear security and/or control of use in one way or another”.
recent book edited by Tertrais and Henry Sokolski, a former Pentagon official, describes how a group of French generals plotting a coup against President De Gaulle in the spring of 1961 tried to obtain a nuclear device that France was about to test in the Algerian desert. “Refrain from detonating your little bomb,” one of the generals told the commander in charge of the test. “Keep it for us, it will always be useful.” De Gaulle ordered the device to be set off earlier than planned, and the coup was unsuccessful.
During the Cultural Revolution in China, members of the red guards launched a missile with a nuclear warhead on a flight path over populated areas – an extremely risky and perhaps unauthorised launch. For a few days in the summer of 1991, all three “chegets”, the small handheld devices that controlled the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal, were in the hands of military officials trying to seize power and overthrow President Mikhail Gorbachev. And Pakistan, the nation with the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal, has had three military coups since the late 1960s, four prime ministers removed from power since the late 1980s, and an Islamist insurgency determined to topple the government.
Even with the best of intentions and a sincere desire to avoid nuclear war, the complexity of weapons systems, the unreliability of communications systems and human fallibility can precipitate disaster. During the Cuban missile crisis, John F Kennedy and the Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev did all they could to avoid a conflict. And yet events beyond their knowledge or control – an American U-2 spy plane that accidentally strayed into Soviet territory, the test of an American ballistic missile without Kennedy’s approval, the delegation of authority for the use of nuclear weapons to Soviet commanders in Cuba and the captains of Soviet submarines – almost started a war that neither leader wanted. On October 27 1962, off the coast of Cuba, when American forces dropped practice depth charges to force a Soviet submarine to the surface, two of the three officers in charge of the sub voted to respond by firing nuclear weapons. They mistakenly believed the submarine was under attack. Vasili Arkhipov, the second-in-command, refused to authorise the use of nuclear weapons, and the vote to do so had to be unanimous. Arkhipov’s refusal prevented the world’s first nuclear war.
Given Iran’s technical, political and leadership challenges, its pursuit of nuclear weapons seems an invitation to disaster. Moreover, Iran signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 1970. Getting the bomb would violate that treaty, encourage other countries to violate it and discourage Israel from ever submitting nuclear facilities to international inspection. A nuclear arms race in the Middle East would endanger every country in the region; the effects of a nuclear detonation would spread without regard to national borders. And possessing nuclear weapons would make Iran the target of other nuclear states.
Early next month, officials from 150 countries meet in Vienna to discuss the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and a treaty to ban them. The world was lucky in the 20th century to avoid a nuclear Armageddon. In the 21st century a new international consensus is emerging: nuclear weapons are only useful for killing or terrorising civilians. The number of weapons worldwide must be reduced with the goal of some day reaching zero. A new nuclear arms race, new states possessing nuclear weapons, and a breakdown of the nonproliferation regime are the antithesis of those goals.
And that, among many other reasons, is why Iran must not get the bomb.
The military spending map of the world
Annihilation as world religion
Banks in front line of nuclear arms campaign
Rare First World War documents go online + Unseen photographs
Paul Fussell, ex-soldier, literary Scholar & critic
Book review: War Is Still a Racket
Hiroshima Day 2014. If some extraterrestrial species were compiling a history of Homo sapiens, they might well break their calendar into two eras: BNW (before nuclear weapons) and NWE (the nuclear weapons era).
Several atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (“Hibakusha”) presented their testimonies at the conference. US climate scientist Professor Alan Robock, physician Dr. Ira Helfand, and Richard Moyes of Article 
The Marshall Islands are marking 60 years since the devastating US hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll, with exiled islanders saying they are too fearful to ever go back because of nuclear contamination. Part of the intense ...
The Marshall Islands and the rest of Micronesia became a United Nations strategic Trust Territoryadministered by the United States. Among other obligations, the U.S. undertakes to "protect the inhabitants against the ...
The Marshall Islands are marking 60 years since the devastating US hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll, with exiled islanders saying they are too fearful to ever go back because of nuclear contamination. Part of the intense ...

Khaled Ahmed - Pakistan: Darkness ahead

A christian couple was burned to death in a Kasur town near Lahore on November 4 because a 50-strong mob of pious Muslims thought they had blasphemed under Article 295C of the penal code. The country was jolted by the savagery of the act, but religious leaders were silent while “liberal fascists” crowded Facebook with pessimism about the survival of a state gone bonkers.

The big anti-Indian clerics, like Hafiz Saeed, were silent or didn’t have time to spare from their fulminations against Prime Minister “Moodhie” of India for his alleged role in Gujarat 2002. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif sobbed as he tried to console the Christian family with Rs 5 million and farmland for the three children of the dead couple. As he bent over the grief-stricken Christians, a policeman in Gujrat, north of Lahore, hacked to death a Shia Muslim “because he uttered blasphemous” words.

Article 295C, passed in 1986, is about insulting the Holy Prophet (PBUH), and it hands down death as the minimum punishment. For other offences, like the burning of the Holy Quran, you go in for life. Article 295C is anathema to even medieval jurisprudence, but the Pakistani parliament passed it “because if we didn’t legislate, pious people would kill without recourse to law”, which they do anyway. The blasphemy law says: “whoever insults the sacred name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) by words either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly” will be punished by hanging. This is one crime that can be committed “without intent”.

The judicial interpretation of the article also lays down that insulting any of the prophets mentioned in the Quran would attract the death penalty. But the judges who added this “interpretation” didn’t think they needed to read Christian scripture. In any case, most judges think it wise to publicise their piety as orthodox Muslims and would think it below their dignity to read the Old Testament to find an insulting view of the prophets revered in the Holy Quran: Noah (Nuh) who becomes naked after getting drunk, David (Daud) who seduces a neighbour’s wife, and Solomon, whom the holy book accuses of becoming an apostate. I dread the day when a crazy Islam-stricken lawyer takes these texts to the court and asks for the mass extermination of our Christian community. 

The flawed logic behind the legislation has been revealed. The legislators said the law would prevent the pious from killing the blasphemous by allowing them recourse to 295C. That has not happened. People get up and kill even when this law is not applicable: for instance, in cases of insult to the Holy Quran, for which the maximum punishment is life imprisonment. The couple burned in the latest case was accused of burning the holy pages. 

The Lahore High Court has just confirmed the death penalty for Asiya Bibi for blaspheming. The case was so blatantly fixed — to oust her family from their property — that late Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer had publicly sympathised with her and visited her in prison. He was killed in 2011 by his own bodyguard for blasphemy. The murderer-policeman was given the death sentence by a judge who then ran away from Pakistan to avoid being killed. Taseer’s killer, Mumtaz Qadri, cannot be hanged because of the lawyers of Rawalpindi-Islamabad who champion his cause and will beat up any judge who allows this to happen. One lawyer, who kissed Qadri as he went to court, has himself been made a judge. 

The 21st century is the worst time for Muslims. Pakistan is not alone. In Syria, Sunni rebels funded by Arab rulers in the neighbourhood have almost exterminated an ancient Christian community that deserved to be protected because it was there before Islam. If I have to impugn US President Barack Obama, it is on his decision to try and topple a minority-led government of Alawites in Syria, thinking he was serving democracy. Under the Alawites, minorities were allowed to survive. Turkey, which maltreats Alevis at home, joined the Arab Sunnis in the massacre of many religious and racial minorities. Christians have been leaving Pakistan, just as the Christians of Aleppo are fleeing Syria. Only the dirt-poor are left to be hunted down by a nation gone mad. 

The same is true for Hindus in Sindh. We are starving them to death in the Thar, where drought takes care to finish them off, even as our decrepit chief minister in Karachi swears they are not dying of hunger. Hindus who can’t save themselves by running off to India are being targeted with “conversions”. I.A. Rehman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan — often accused of working for the rascally West — wrote this month: “Congratulations to the Muslim majority of the Islamic republic that their flock has been increased after the abduction of a 12-year-old Meghwar (an underprivileged Hindu caste) girl, her conversion to Islam and her marriage to a Muslim. Greetings may be addressed to the dargah at Dharki, Sindh, where the girl saw the light, and the court in Sadiqabad, Punjab, where her statement was recorded.” 

A “larger bench” of the Lahore High Court in 2002 observed that “blasphemy cases had increased in recent times and were increasingly defective in evidence”. The court asked the police to get blasphemy investigated by at least two gazetted officers to prevent the lowly functionaries of the police station like the “muharrir (notary)” from registering a case. Nothing has changed since 2002, except that the power of the clergy in the face of a “weakened” state has increased. The army decided — perhaps too late — to attack the safe havens of terrorists, set up by its own officers, in the tribal areas. If this operation succeeds, the empowerment of the clergy in Pakistan will subside and, to that extent, the writ of the state will be restored. 

After that — maybe — legislators will have the courage to hearken the voice of 65 per cent of Pakistanis, who, according to a survey, ask for the blasphemy laws to be changed. Terrorism has weakened the writ of the state, and the vulnerable sections of the population are at the mercy of those who use Islam to satisfy their urge to kill. Not always conscious of the reasons behind the weakening of the state, we often point to the rise of extremism in the country. Extremism cannot take root unless the state that dispenses justice is weak. It is still moot how an Islamic state can modify “eternal” law to let non-Muslims live. 

And why has the state become weak? Because it allowed multiple centres of power to emerge through the practice of proxy jihad. The state was attracted to the use of nonstate actors because its nationalism mandated it to fight unequal enemies. Wiser ways of overcoming the superior enemy, like making rapid progress in education and achieving high economic development, were ignored by an establishment dominated by military thinking. 

The writer is consulting editor, ‘Newsweek Pakistan’

Sandip Roy - VHP plays big bully in Bastar missionary schools

I went to a Jesuit missionary school. We called the priests “Father”. We called the other male teachers “Sir”. And the women “Miss”. As a boy I was less alarmed by the bleeding man on the crucifix as by the pictures of Jesus and Mary where you could see their glowing hearts through their robes. It looked like some kind of scary open-heart surgery to me. We did learn to rattle off the Lord’s Prayer – Our Father who art in heaven – without ever really thinking about the meaning of what we were saying. But we did not go to Catechism classes, we sang patriotic Bengali songs during the drill display and the priests lent us not Bibles but sci-fi books and westerns. 

No one that I knew in my class converted to Christianity. And we did Saraswati Puja at home and at every examination I carried with me a small paper twist with dried flowers from that puja. As a goddess exclusively devoted to learning, she remained unquestionably the first port of call when it came to divine help during trigonometry. To this day I remember both the Lord’s Prayer and the Saraswati-mantra by heart.

If a Vishwa Hindu Parishad had shown up and demanded we install Saraswati images in our school and insisted we call the teachers “Pracharya” or “Up-pracharya” or Guruji or Sir (hardly a very “Hindu” word, that one) we would have been more bewildered than upset. But in Bastar the VHP and missionaries who run 22 schools in a tribal district have been locked in negotiations over exactly those kind of issues. They have also demanded no Santa Claus distribute sweets to the children during Christmas.

It’s obviously not really about what you call teachers. Or Santa Claus. Or Ma Saraswati either. It’s all about power play. The missionaries are accused of converting poor tribals. The VHP has been trying to ramp up its re-conversion “Ghar Vapasi” programmes. These latest measures are just warning shots that are part of that larger battle. It was apparently triggered by the alarm raised when the Bishop of Jagdalpur said a missionary school should be established with every church in the region.

The issue around conversion and missionaries especially in tribal areas is a complicated and tricky one. A missionary-run school in tribal Bastar is not the same as the missionary-run school in middle-class Calcutta. Interfaith minister Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West writes about the shady practices of zealots who target the poor and illiterate sometimes offering free treatment in return for conversion or dressing in orange robes to look like swamis. They are, he says “like door-to-door salesmen racking up commissions” and sounding more like “snake-oil hucksters of legend than servants of Christ” devoted to serving “the least of these.”

But to respond to the misdeeds of some missionaries by heavy-handedly trying to introduce Hindu symbols into a missionary school is merely a way of flexing muscle to let them know who is Big Boss. Saraswati is not being installed as a Goddess of Learning but as a watchdog in the guise of Goddess, a muscular assertion that this is a Hindu country and they had better watch their step. What next? A demand for Saraswati in a madarsah? A missionary-run school is run by a religious order and parents who put their children into such a school are well aware of it. That’s just as true for the Catholic missionary schools as it is for the ones run by the Ramakrishna Mission.

As for the schools in Bastar who knows if Saraswati is even prominent in the pantheon of these tribal communities whose children go to these schools? The priests are called Father because it is part of their religious practice and the VHP must think very little of the intelligence of the average child if they regard this as a source of great confusion to impressionable minds. “We asked the missionaries what was the meaning of father? Father means pita. We have only one father, how can we address a teacher as father?”says Suresh Yadav of the VHP. However Saraswati can be called Mata because “matayen aur behanen we say before any address.” I have known families where the children have gone to my missionary-run alma mater for generations. I have never heard of anyone confused about the difference between the Father Bouche and Father Bruylants in school and the real father at home.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad is of course welcome to start or fund its own schools complete with Saraswati images and Pracharyas. One wonders how it would react to outsiders telling it what pictures to hang on its walls. Some would be happy if the government banned missionary schools altogether except there are plenty of schools in India affiliated to Hindu religious orders as well and what's sauce for the goose will become sauce for the gander as well. This particular skirmish sounds more ridiculous than ominous. The VHP is happy to make outlandish attention-grabbing demands to stay in the media limelight and its Praveen Togadia has butted heads with Narendra Modi in the past. But the church in Bastar cannot just dismiss the VHP’s fulminations as hot air. Sometimes hot air can have fiery consequences. It remembers the how missionary Graham Stainesand his sons were burned to death in their station wagon in Keonhjhar, Odisha by a gang led by a Bajrang Dal activist.

A Saraswati image in a Bastar school is a long distance away from a burning station wagon in Odisa. But when bullying enters a school’s syllabus, in the name of protecting the children, it should worry us all.

The True Story of Ah-Q - By Lu Hsun

Here's the greatest (in my humble opinion) short story of the 20th century

Selected Stories of Lu Hsun
Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1960, 1972

For several years now I have been meaning to write the true story of Ah Q. But while wanting to write I was in some trepidation, too, which goes to show that I am not one of those who achieve glory by writing; for an immortal pen has always been required to record the deeds of an immortal man, the man becoming known to posterity through the writing and the writing known to posterity through the man—until finally it is not clear who is making whom known. But in the end, as though possessed by some fiend, I always came back to the idea of writing the story of Ah Q.

And yet no sooner had I taken up my pen than I became conscious of tremendous difficulties in writing this far-from-immortal work. The first was the question of what to call it. Confucius said, "If the name is not correct, the words will not ring true"; and this axiom should be most scrupulously observed. There are many types of biographies: official biographies, autobiographies, unauthorized biographies, legends, supplementary biographies, family histories, sketches . . . but unfortunately none of these suited my purpose. "Official biography?" This account will obviously not be included with those of many eminent people in some authentic history. "Autobiography?" But I am obviously not Ah Q. If I were to call this an "unauthorized biography," then where is his "authenticated biography"? The use of "legend" is impossible, because Ah Q was no legendary figure. 

"Supplementary biography"? But no president has ever ordered the National Historical Institute to write a "standard life" of Ah Q. It is true that although there are no "lives of gamblers" in authentic English history, the famous author Conan Doyle nevertheless wrote Rodney Stone; but while this is permissible for a famous author it is not permissible for such as I. Then there is "family history"; but I do nor know whether I belong to the same family as Ah Q or not, nor have his children or grandchildren ever entrusted me with such a task. If I were to use "sketch," it might be objected that Ah Q has no "complete account." In short, this is really a "life," but since I write in vulgar vein using the language of hucksters and pedlars, I dare not presume to give it so high-sounding a title. So from the stock phrase of the novelists, who are not reckoned among the Three Cults and Nine Schools. Enough of this digression, and back to the true story!" I will take the last two words as my title; and if this is reminiscent of the True Story of Calligraphy of the ancients, it cannot be helped.

The second difficulty confronting me was that a biography of this type should start off something like this: "So-and-so, whose other name was so-and-so, was a native of such-and-such a place"; but I don't really know what Ah Q's surname was. Once, he seemed to be named Chao, but the next day there was some confusion about the matter again. This was after Mr. Chao's son had passed the county examination, and, to the sound of gongs, his success was announced in the village. Ah Q, who had just drunk two bowls of yellow wine, began to prance about declaring that this reflected credit on him too, since he belonged to the same clan as Mr. Chao, and by an exact reckoning was three generations senior to the successful candidate. At the time several bystanders even began to stand slightly in awe of Ah Q. But the next day the bailiff summoned him to Mr. Chao's house. When the old gentleman set eyes on him his face turned crimson with fury and he roared:

"Ah Q, you miserable wretch! Did you say I belonged to the same clan as you?"

Ah Q made no reply.

The more he looked at him the angrier Mr. Chao became, and advancing menacingly a few steps he said, "How dare you talk such nonsense! How could I have such a relative as you? Is your surname Chao?"

Ah Q made no reply, and was planning a retreat, when Mr. Chao darted forward and gave him a slap on the face.

"How could you be named Chao!—Do you think you are worthy of the name Chao?"

Ah Q made no attempt to defend his right to the name Chao, but rubbing his left cheek went out with the bailiff. Once outside, he had to listen to another torrent of abuse from the bailiff, and thank him to the tune of two hundred cash. All who heard this said Ah Q was a great fool to ask for a beating like that. Even if his surname were Chao—which wasn't likely—he should have known better than to boast like that when there was a Mr. Chao living in the village. After this no further mention was made of Ah Q's ancestry, so that I still don't know what his surname really was.

The third difficulty I encountered in writing this work was that I don't know how Ah Q's personal name should be written either. During his lifetime everybody called him Ah Quei, but after his death not a soul mentioned Ah Quei again; for be was obviously not one of those whose name is "preserved on bamboo tablets and silk." If there is any question of preserving his name, this essay must be the first attempt at doing so. Hence I am confronted with this difficulty at the outset. I have given the question careful thought: Ah Quei—would that be the "Quei" meaning cassia or the "Quei" meaning nobility? If his other name had been Moon Pavilion, or if he had celebrated his birthday in the month of the Moon Festival, then it would certainly be the "Quei" for cassia. But since he had no other name—or if he had, no one knew it—and since he never sent out invitations on his birthday to secure complimentary verses, it would be arbitrary to write Ah Quei (cassia). Again, if he had had an elder or younger brother called Ah Fu (prosperity), then he would certainly be called Ah Quei (nobility). But he was all on his own: thus there is no justification for writing Ah Quei (nobility). All the other, unusual characters with the sound Quei are even less suitable. I once put this question to Mr. Chao's son, the successful county candidate, but even such a learned man as he was baffled by it.

According to him, however, the reason why this name could not be traced was that Chen Tu-hsiu had brought out the magazine New Youth, advocating the use of the Western alphabet, so that the national culture was going to the dogs. As a last resort, I asked someone from my district to go and look up the legal documents recording Ah Q's case, but after eight months he sent me a letter saying that there was no name anything like Ah Quei in those records. Although uncertain whether this was the truth or whether my friend had simply done nothing, after failing to trace the name this way I could think of no other means of finding it. Since I am afraid the new system of phonetics has not yet come into common use, there is nothing for it but to use the Western alphabet, writing the name according to the English spelling as Ah Quei and abbreviating it to Ah Q. This approximates to blindly following the New Youth magazine, and I am thoroughly ashamed of myself; but since even such a learned man as Mr. Chao's son could not solve my problem, what else can I do?

My fourth difficulty was with Ah Q's place of origin. If his surname were Chao, then according to the old custom which still prevails of classifying people by their districts, one might look up the commentary in The Hundred Surnames and find "A native of Tienshui in Kansu Province." But unfortunately this surname is open to question, with the result that Ah Q's place of origin must also remain uncertain. Although he lived for the most part in Weichuang, he often stayed in other places, so that it would be wrong to call him a native of Weichuang. It would, in fact, amount to a distortion of history.

The only thing that consoles me is the fact that the character "Ah" is absolutely correct. This is definitely not the result of false analogy, and is well able to stand the test of scholarly criticism. As for the other problems, it is not for such unlearned people as myself to solve them, and I can only hope that disciples of Dr. Hu Shih, who has such "a passion for history and antiquities," may be able in future to throw new light on them. I am afraid, however, that by that time my True Story of Ah Q will have long since passed into oblivion.

The foregoing may be considered as an introduction… Read on

Indian Army Finds 9 Soldiers Guilty of Killing Two Teens in Firing in Budgam in Jammu and Kashmir

BUDGAM:  In one of its shortest ever inquiries, the army has found nine of its soldiers guilty of killing two teenagers when they opened fire on a car in Jammu and Kashmir's Budgam on November 3. The deaths of the boys, 15 and 17, saw massive protests in the Valley.

The army had initially said the soldiers made a "mistake" when they fired at the Maruti car; they were watching out for terrorists traveling in a white car. All five in the car were teenagers returning from a Muharram procession. The Army's Rashtriya Rifles unit posted there claimed that they fired at the car when it didn't stop despite being signaled.  Two died instantly, two were injured and one boy escaped to the fields.

A state government report said the car had skidded while overtaking another vehicle and hit an electric pole. The families of the boys alleged that the firing started without warning or provocation. A swift verdict by the Army's Court of Inquiry, in less than a month, sends a strong political message in the middle of polls in the state. Sources say the senior-most commanding officer in Jammu and Kashmir had been asked by the political establishment in Delhi to visit the families of the two boys, apologise and offer compensation.

Earlier this month, the army convicted five of its soldiers, including two officers, and sentenced them to life in jail for a staged shootout in Machhil in 2010. Demands for ending a controversial act that gives the army sweeping powers in conflict zones have been high on the agenda of political parties in Jammu and Kashmir. The army's rulings in two major cases in quick succession are seen to be its counter-point to that demand.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries

A recently discovered form of carbon graphite – the material in pencil lead – has turned out to have a completely unexpected property which could revolutionise the development of green energy and electric cars. Researchers have discovered that graphene allows positively charged hydrogen atoms or protons to pass through it despite being completely impermeable to all other gases, including hydrogen itself. The implications of the discovery are immense as it could dramatically increase the efficiency of fuel cells, which generate electricity directly from hydrogen, the scientists said. The breakthrough raises the prospect of extracting hydrogen fuel from air and burning it as a carbon-free source of energy in a fuel cell to produce electricity and water with no damaging waste products.

“In the atmosphere there is a certain amount of hydrogen and this hydrogen will end up on the other side [of graphene] in a reservoir. Then you can use this hydrogen-collected reservoir to burn it in the same fuel cell and make electricity,” said Professor Sir Andrei Geim of Manchester University.

Ever since its discovery 10 years ago, graphene has astonished scientists. It is the thinnest known material, a million times thinner than human hair, yet more than 200 times stronger than steel, as well as being the world’s best conductor of electricity. Until now, being permeable to protons was not considered a practical possibility, but an international team of scientists led by Sir Andre, who shares the 2010 Nobel Prize for his work on graphene, has shown that the one-atom thick crystal acts like a chemical filter. It allows the free passage of protons but forms an impenetrable barrier to other atoms and molecules.

“There have been three or four scientific papers before about the theoretical predictions for how easy or how hard it would be for a proton to go through graphene and these calculations give numbers that take billions and billions of years for a proton to go through this same membrane,” Sir Andrei said. “It’s just so dense an electronic field it just doesn’t let anything through. But it’s a question of numbers, no more than that. This makes a difference between billions of years and a reasonable time for permeation. There is no magic,” he said.

The study, published in the journal Nature, shows that graphene and a similar single-atom material called boron nitride allowed the build-up of protons on one side of a membrane, yet prevented anything else from crossing over into a collecting chamber. In their scientific paper, the researchers speculate that there could be many applications in the field of hydrogen fuel cells and in technology for collecting hydrogen gas from the atmosphere, which would open up a new source of clean energy. “It’s really the very first paper on the subject so what we’re doing is really to introduce the material for other experts to think about it,” Sir Andrei said.

“It was difficult not to speculate. If you can pump protons from a hydrogen-containing gas into a chamber that doesn’t contain anything, you start thinking how you can exploit this?” he said. “One of the possibilities we can imagine, however futuristic, which has to be emphasised because everything has been shown on a small scale, is applying a small electric current across the membrane and pushing hydrogen though the graphene or boron nitrite membrane,” he explained.

“Essentially you pump your fuel from the atmosphere and get electricity out of this fuel, in principle. Before this paper, this wouldn’t even be speculation; it would be science fiction. At least our paper provides a guidance and proof that this kind of device is possible and doesn’t contradict to any known laws of nature,” Sir Andre added.Graphene is tough, about 200 times stronger than steel, yet incredibly light. It is considered the first two-dimensional material because it forms sheets of crystal that are just one atom thick.  It is also an excellent conductor of electricity, so is useful for anything involving electronics, such as bendable mobile phones and cameras, and wearable electrical devices attached to clothing.

Medical applications include its possible use as a material for delivering drugs to damaged sites within the body, which could open new avenues for treating patients with brain conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or cancer. Graphene is also being developed as a new material for membranes involved in separating liquids. It could be used to purify water in the developing world or to create more efficient desalination plants. Scientists also believe that graphene’s high strength and low weight can be harnessed in the making of new composite materials and polymers for the transport industry, making travel safer and more fuel efficient. Now, it seems, graphene might also be used to generate new forms of generating clean electricity using hydrogen fuel cells, and even as a technology for harvesting hydrogen fuel from air.

Book review': I Will Bear Witness': How the Little Things Add Up to Horror

A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1933-1941 
By Victor Klemperer 

Reviewed by Richard Bernstein

He does not deny his Jewishness, despite his conversion to Protestantism. But he does express an intense resentment toward those who take Jewishness as a prime element in personal identity. He blames Hitler for the creation of the "Jewish problem," believing that before the Nazis came along to fetishize the concept of blood and race, there was no separate Jewish identity. It is for that reason that Klemperer is given to a disproportionate rage against Zionism, which he compares more than once to Hitlerism... Like Nazism, he says, Zionism turns the Jews into a separate racial category, and this violates his powerful belief in assimilation, his undying conviction that he is German.

Victor Klemperer, for many years a professor of Romance languages at the Dresden Technical University, was an intelligent and literate man and a fine scholar but not an extraordinary individual. And that is one of several things that makes the publication of his diaries, written in secret during the entire period of the Nazi nightmare in Germany and concealed for decades in East Germany, an extraordinary and important event.

Klemperer, a Jew baptized as a Protestant, survived the 12 years of Nazi rule in part because he was married to an "Aryan," in part because he had special dispensation for having served on the front lines in the German army in World War I.

"I Will Bear Witness," covering the years 1933 to 1941, is the first of two volumes of the diaries in which Klemperer recorded the day-to-day experience of living as a Jew in Germany under Hitler. Written for himself, apparently without any thought of eventual publication, the book is history raw, an unvarnished account of a single exceedingly beleaguered life, most notable for the petty outrages, the quiet desperation and the undercover spiritual struggle that they reveal.

The diaries, translated from the German and abridged by Martin Chalmers, are straightforward and unadorned, full of pain and anger, but also full of shrewd observations on the nature of the Nazi regime and the quality of the response of the German people to it. (In Germany, Klemperer writes two years after the Nazi takeover, "90 percent want the fuehrer and servitude and the death of scholarship, of thought, of the spirit, of the Jews.")

Most of all, the diaries are a record of the way events -- the gradual loss of civil rights, the rumors of deportations, the everyday slights, the banal and not-so-banal horrors of a madman's tyranny -- were experienced by one person at that time, an innocent man turned guilty by a fiendish ideology. They have in this sense some of the same value as Anne Frank's "Diary," though, of course, they represent the response not of a pubescent Dutch-German girl but of a sophisticated, assimilated, cosmopolitan middle-aged man striving to maintain self-control and dignity as the only world he knows crumbles around him for no reason.

Klemperer was born in 1881 and, after being restored to his post at the university in Dresden at the end of the war, died in 1960 at the age of 78. He was a twice alienated man, alienated from his German identity and from his Jewish identity at the same time. He does not deny his Jewishness, despite his conversion to Protestantism. But he does express an intense resentment toward those who take Jewishness as a prime element in personal identity. He blames Hitler for the creation of the "Jewish problem," believing that before the Nazis came along to fetishize the concept of blood and race, there was no separate Jewish identity. It is for that reason that Klemperer is given to a disproportionate rage against Zionism, which he compares more than once to Hitlerism.

Like Nazism, he says, Zionism turns the Jews into a separate racial category, and this violates his powerful belief in assimilation, his undying conviction that he is German.
"Until 1933 and for at least a good century before that, the German Jews were entirely German and nothing else," he writes in January 1939, six years after Hitler came to power. "There is only one solution to the German or West European Jewish question: the defeat of its inventors."

In fact, very few of Klemperer's entries treat matters philosophically or touch on what might be deemed the big issues, like freedom, nationalism and how the horrible aberration that Hitler is to him could have come to power and consolidated his anti-Semitic tyranny so quickly and with so little opposition.

The very everyday quality of Klemperer's concerns at times slows down the narrative; yet given its overall length and the fact that he was not writing for an audience, the diary as a whole has remarkable momentum. It is the accumulation of relatively small insults that brings home the poisonous nature of a regime of many rules but no just law: Klemperer is insanely chastised by the police for gardening on a national holiday, he is banned from the university library, he is prohibited from driving his car. Jews are no longer sold tickets for the popular Elbe River ferries. Some events that are now well known, like Kristallnacht in 1938, the most severe anti-Jewish assault up to that point, pass without a great deal of comment by Klemperer.

"I do not need to describe the historic events of the following days, the acts of violence, our depression," he writes briefly of that incident. "Only the immediately personal and what concretely affected us." The "immediately personal" was a search of the Klemperer household by the police and Klemperer's brief arrest, after which he writes: "Since then, we have both been unceasingly tormented by the question, go or stay? To go too early, to stay too late? To go where we have nothing, to remain in this corruption?" The Klemperers do not leave Germany, though Victor does spend time unsuccessfully looking into teaching posts abroad. They lack money but they also lack the real desire to leave; they are too attached to Germany for that. Klemperer survived the war because of his unusual situation, but, of course, many of those who did not leave perished as a result.

Much of the diary shows Klemperer simply striving to get by. He records chronic financial difficulties, relieved from time to time by a gift from his older brother Georg, a surgeon, who went to the United States in 1935. Not long after Hitler's accession, a Polish Jew named Sandel swindles Klemperer of some money, and Klemperer feels he has to file a complaint with the police, or others will suspect he wants to "protect the JEW." "A terrible situation," he writes. Another preoccupation is building a small cottage outside Dresden, which he and Eva finally succeed in doing despite cash shortages and bureaucratic obstruction.

He makes sporadic notes on what he calls "the language of the Third Reich." He notes, for example, in 1934 that Hitler tells German youth, "You sing songs together," of which Klemperer observes: "Everything is aimed at deafening the individual in collectivism." This is a shrewd remark. It anticipates the George Orwell of "1984" and Newspeak. Klemperer is also ahead of his time in likening communism to Nazism ("both are materialistic and lead to slavery"), which makes it strange that, after the war, he became a Communist Party member in East Germany.

The diaries record Klemperer's moods, which alternate between despair and the effort not to give up hope. He reads between the lines of newspaper reports of great German victories to perceive when matters are not going so well -- as when, for the first time, the German press, in August 1940, reports a "systematic and cowardly attack on Berlin" by the British air force. Klemperer knows that not all hope is lost.

This first volume (the second, covering the years 1942 to 1945, is scheduled to be published next year) does not reach into the very worst of the Nazi period, when the death camps were in full swing and the "final solution" was steady Nazi policy. Still, Klemperer hears rumors of deportations of Jews to Poland. ("They have to leave almost literally naked and penniless." When, in September 1941, he, like other Jews, is forced to wear the yellow star, he sees it as the ultimate humiliation, declaring, "That means upheaval and catastrophe for us."

One reads these late diary entries with a growing sense of foreboding, since we know, as Klemperer himself did not, that far worse than the yellow star was yet to come.

Also see:
"The Language of the Third Reich: A Philologist's Notebook"

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Ayaz Amir - What should Pakistan’s Christians do?

Once upon a time under-class Mohajirs in Karachi, residents not of Clifton and Defence but depressed localities, used to be an object of scorn for other communities, regularly picked upon by the mostly Punjabi police and treated roughly in public transport, mostly owned by Pakhtuns. Not considered of much account, they were called ‘tilyars’…a word of sarcasm and scorn. Then on the scene arrived the MQM which went about organising the ‘tilyar’ community. The Mohajir under-class was known previously for its docility. Under the banner of the MQM it acquired confidence, muscle and a sense of purpose. In a famous speech MQM leader Altaf Hussain exhorted his community to sell their TV sets and acquire weapons.

Soon the Mohajir under-class was standing up to other communities, starting its own credo of violence and terror in the process. Karachi which had known nothing of the sort became imbued with a culture of militancy. Today the MQM dominates the socio-political skyline of Pakistan’s largest city, its centre of commerce and industry. There had always been in Pakistan the Deobandi school of thought, co-existing easily and without conflict with other denominations and sects of Islam. The occasional sectarian clash did occur but it was rare. However, under the impact of the Afghan ‘jihad’, in which Deobandi religious parties stood in the forefront, sectarianism and bigotry acquired harder edges in Pakistani society.

The Americans had no idea what dragon’s teeth they were scattering. Every form of extremism we see sprouting in the world of Islam today has its origins, direct or inspirational, in the first Afghan ‘jihad’…the parent or the founding father of all that has come afterwards. Pakistan, to wild American applause, did more than its share to stir that witches’ brew. Hence it was only natural that it should also carry most of the consequences. The Pakistan of today is not the Pakistan of Jinnah. The very notion is laughable. It is the child of the Afghan ‘jihad’. Our strategic geniuses went about creating that thing of fantasy called ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan. All they succeeded in doing was putting Afghanistan’s imprint on Pakistan. History provides few examples of such a complete reverse conquest.

It was from their involvement in the same enterprise that some of our religious elements acquired their ‘takfiri’ mindset, declaring who was of the right path and who stood outside the pale of Islam…and therefore liable to be put to the sword. From this mindset arose the attacks on the Shia community. A country where for the most part sectarian harmony had prevailed was now torn by sectarian violence.
Not the Shiite community as a whole but elements in it responded to this situation by taking the path of militancy themselves. Thus it was that in Pakistan was first born Sunni militant Islam and then Shia militant Islam. It will be recalled that at the time of the sit-ins in Islamabad the interior minister, finding little else to say, came up with the warning that amongst the agitators were trained elements of a religious outfit. Right or wrong, he was referring to activists of the Shiite Majlis Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen.

At the time of the Hazara killings in Quetta in 2012, there were protest sit-ins in various cities. In Lahore at a sit-in in front of the Governor’s House, two young men approached me – both educated abroad, both holding good jobs. Faces taut and a fierce light in their eyes, they asked me whether it would not be better for them to give up everything and take up arms in defence of their community. When the state abdicates its responsibility of protecting its citizens this is what happens. Barelvis have always identified themselves with a softer version of Islam, more into such activities as visiting shrines and distributing and receiving ‘niaz’ – food blessed by prayer. But as a response to the times in which they find themselves, they too are updating their approach and methods.

During the recent sit-ins the followers of Dr Tahirul Qadri and adherents of the Sunni Ittehad Council led by Sahibzada Hamid Raza (both of them of the Barelvi denomination), along with their auxiliaries of the Majlis Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen, not only stood up to the vaunted and somewhat feared Punjab Police but more than once put its geared-up formations to ignominious flight. Imran Khan, not easily drawn to excessive sentiment, has repeatedly praised the courage of these activists during the harsh police crackdown on the evening of August 31.

This is a lengthy preamble, leading to one question: what should the Christians of Pakistan do? Now that the Pakistani state has given ample and repeated proof of its inability to protect them, what should their response be? Should they as good Christians continue to turn the other cheek, as they have done since the country’s birth, or should they too await the arrival of a Christian Altaf Hussain to teach them the virtues not of passive but active resistance?

The blasphemy law and its increasing misuse at the hands of some of the most illiterate dregs of society is no longer a question of the sanctity of religion or the honour of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). More than anything else it is a reflection of the growing weakness of the Pakistani state and its inability to fulfil its primary responsibility of protecting the life, honour and property of its citizens.
The burning to death of a Christian couple in Kasur is not so much an attack on the Christian community as an assault on what remains of the fair name of Pakistan. That rampaging mob which set upon the poor and hapless couple – the woman pregnant and a mother of three – and the maulvis of that particular village and two adjacent villages who used their mosque loudspeakers to fan the winds of hatred, did what they did because there was no one to stop them. They had little fear of the consequences. Who is to blame them? The Punjab chief minister has come up with nothing more terrifying than another inquiry.

If this had been an isolated incident there could have been words of extenuation. But the Kasur outrage is part of what is now a general pattern – violent mobs setting fire to Christian houses in Gojra, a violent mob setting Joseph Colony in Lahore on fire, an Aasia Bibi persecuted in Sheikhupura on charges of blasphemy, a Rimsha Masih a target of hate in the outskirts of Islamabad, blasphemy accused assaulted in jail, a Mumtaz Qadri emptying a Kalashnikov magazine into the body of the Governor (Salmaan Taseer) he is supposed to protect and the ruling party of which the governor is a member not finding the suitable words or gestures to honour his memory or condemn the cowardly assault on him.

There’s more to this: lawyers and sundry sections of society hailing the killer as a ghazi of the faith, showering him with rose petals during a court appearance, and a former chief justice of the Lahore High Court feeling not the slightest qualm in hastening to act as his defence lawyer.
Come to think of it, there is a logical roundness to our attitude. What if our standing in the world is not too high? We can at least deal with our minorities. This is on a par with the psychology of wife-beating. The world may be too rough for us to handle but how dare the wretch at home not know her proper place?

EC finds over 3 lakh bogus voters in Narendra Modi’s Varanasi seat; Counting continues // मोदी की सीट वाराणसी में मिले तीन लाख फर्जी वोटर

Varanasi: In a stunning revelation in Indian politics, the Election Commission has so far traced 3,11,057 fake voters who casted their votes in Varanasi in the Lok Sabha election earlier this year. The district administration is expecting the number of fake voters to reach around 6,47,085 by the end of the examination process. It is to tell you that Varanasi is the LS constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who won from the seat with 3,71,784 votes.
The Election Commission was completely shocked to know such a huge number of fake voters which came into light after re-examining the voters list. The officials, who have been given the responsibility of the task, personally visited every voters’ house to see if he was the same one who placed his or her vote in the elections. This process have completed half-way and so far over three-lakh bogus voters have been traced

Earlier this year, in the Lok Sabha elections, Modi outclassed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Arvind Kejriwal by a huge margin of 3,71,784 votes. Congress candidate Ajay Rai (75,614 votes) was at third spot followed by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Prakash jaiswal (60,579 votes) and Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Kailash Chaurasiya (48,291) at fourth and fifth spots respectively.
Taking consigns of the matter, the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP has sharply criticized BJP for this development. However, no comments have been received from BJP so far. AAP has published this post over their Facebook page.  If we go by district administration’s claims, they are expecting to find around 1,12,160 bogus voters in Pindra, 1,01,456 in Ajgara, 87,140 in Shivpur, 84,757 in Rohania, 65,989 in Cantt, and 90,942 in Sewapuri regions.
Calculation is incorrect in Varanasi Election Result 2014 Here  and  Shocking EVM at Home Here

मोदी की सीट वाराणसी में मिले तीन लाख फर्जी वोटर
जिस वाराणासी संसदीय सीट से नरेंद्र मोदी ने 371784 वोटों से जीत हासिल की है, वहां 311057 फर्जी वोटर मिले हैं। अभी गिनती जारी है और जिला प्रशासन का अनुमान है कि फर्जी वोटरों की संख्या 647085 जा सकती है। इतनी बड़ी संख्या में फर्जी वोटर पहली बार वाराणसी में सामने आए हैं। लाखों की तादाद में मिले फर्जी वोटरों का खुलासा तब हुआ जब भारत निर्वाचन आयोग के निर्देश पर जिला प्रशासन ने मतदाता सूची का पुनरीक्षण अभियान शुरू किया। जिले के सभी पोलिंग सेंटर पर तैनात बूथ लेवल ऑफिसर से घर-घर जाकर मतदाताओं का सत्यापन करवाने के बाद इन बोगस वोटरों का खुलासा हुआ है।

वाराणसी संसदीय सीट पर हुए चुनाव में बीजेपी उम्मीदवार नरेंद्र मोदी ने आम आदमी पार्टी के अरविंद केजरीवाल को 371784 वोटों के अंतर से हराया था। तीसरे नंबर पर कांग्रेस उम्मीदवार अजय राय (75614), चौथे स्थान पर बीएसपी के विजय प्रकाश जायसवाल (60579) और पांचवें स्थान पर एसपी के कैलाश चौरसिया 45291 वोट पाकर रहे थे।

नरेंद्र मोदी की भारी मतों से जीत को लेकर गैर बीजेपी दल तरह-तरह के आरोप लगाते रहे हैं। मोदी पर मतदाताओं को उपहार बांटकर प्रभावित करने के साथ-साथ घोषणा पत्र में पत्नी जशोदा बेन के आय का ब्यौरा न देने का आरोप लगाते हुए कांग्रेस के उम्मीदवार अजय राय ने इलाहाबाद हाईकोर्ट में प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी के वाराणसी से निर्वाचन को चुनौती देते हुए याचिका दायर की है। हाईकोर्ट में इस पर सुनवाई चल रही है।

इस बीच भारत निर्वाचन आयोग के निर्देश पर पहली जनवरी 2015 को 18 साल की उम्र पूरी करने वाले युवाओं का नाम वोटर लिस्ट में जोड़ने व मतदाताओं के सत्यापन का काम चला। इस दौरान लाखों की संख्या में फर्जी वोटर सामने आए हैं। जिला प्रशासन ने तीन लाख से ज्यादा जिन फर्जी वोटरों की अभी तक शिनाख्त की है, वे एक ही विधानसभा क्षेत्र की सूची में दो जगह अपना नाम दर्ज कराने वाले थे। पुनरीक्षण अभियान के दौरान पकड़े गए 311057 वोटरों का नाम अब मतदाता सूची से कटने जा रहा है। 5 जनवरी 2015 को भारत निर्वाचन आयोग के निर्देश पर नई वोटर लिस्ट का प्रकाशन करने जा रहा है।

ऐसे पकड़े गए फर्जी वोटर
फर्जी वोटरों का नाम काटने के साथ नए मतदाताओं का नाम जोड़ने के लिए जिले की 8 विधानसभा क्षेत्रों के 1136 पोलिंग सेंटरों के 2553 पोलिंग बूथ पर तैनात 2553 बूथ लेवल ऑफिसरों ने घर-घर जाकर वोटरों का सत्यापन किया। इस सत्यापन के दौरान फर्जी वोटरों को पकड़ा गया। सहायक जिला निर्वाचन अधिकारी दया शंकर उपाध्याय ने बताया कि सबसे ज्यादा 81697 फर्जी वोटर कैंट विधानसभा क्षेत्र में पकड़े गये हैं। पिंडरा विधानसभा क्षेत्र में 35982, अजगरा में 15285, शिवपुर में 10981, रोहनिया में 19659, शहर उत्तरी में 70684, शहर दक्षिणी में 69397 और सेवापुरी में 7372 फर्जी वोटर पकड़े गे हैं। इनका नाम वोटर लिस्ट से बाहर किया जा रहा है।

फर्जी वोटरों की छह लाख से ज्यादा
मतदाता सूची पुनरीक्षण अभियान के दौरान वाराणसी संसदीय सीट पर 311057 फर्जी वोटर पकड़ने के बाद भी अभी बड़ी संख्या में यह वोटर लिस्ट में मौजूद है। जिला प्रशासन का कहना है फर्जी वोटरों की संभावित संख्या 647085 है। जिला प्रशासन की माने तो पिंडरा में 112160, अजगरा में 101456, शिवपुर में 87140, रोहनिया में 84757, उत्तरी में 61795, दक्षिणी में 42866, कैंट में 65969 व सेवापुरी में 90942 फर्जी वोटरों की संभावना अभी बनी है।

'सत्यमेव जयते लेकिन सवालिया निशान के साथ' // Satyamev jayate? Does truth always triumph?
... In the matter of irresponsible speech, however, Narendra Modi leads the fray because of his high visibility and status. In a speech on March 31, Modi alleged that Assam’s government was killing rhinoceri to make space for Bangladeshis. Before this, he had alleged that his leading opponents were ‘helping Pakistan’. The latest is his comment on the FIR against him ordered by the Election Commission. He is quoted as saying: ‘One can understand if someone points a knife, a pistol or a gun. But do you know why FIR was registered against me? Because I showed a lotus to the people.’ This statement is both false and mindless. And it suggests that the EC is malicious.

Section 126 of the R.P. Act of 1951 prohibits public meetings 48 hours before the poll. No-one may hold or address any election-related meeting; or display any election matter by means of cinematograph, television or similar apparatus; or propagate any election matter by any performance intended to attract public attention for any election in the polling area, during the forty-eight hours up to the conclusion of the poll. By flaunting his election symbol for TV cameras, Modi violated Section 126. For him to say an FIR only makes sense if he were caught brandishing weapons, or for BJP to say there ‘was no formal meeting’, is a mockery of the law. There was no need for a formal meeting, because the scene was telecast to the whole country and is an irreversible act affecting the fairness of the election. I doubt Modi will be punished. Already some newspapers are conducting opinion polls on whether Modi should say sorry. Our new approach to justice is to say sorry and forget about the law.

How may we understand this assault upon our minds? The persons leading it are doing two things. They are telling officials entrusted with upholding constitutional norms, that laws can be bent by a combination of gullibility and power. This message is designed to intimidate the bureaucracy, police and judiciary. It is also designed to encourage public mindlessness - a message that says: ‘you don’t need to think, just shut your eyes and follow me’. In brief, this behaviour celebrates the uses of stupidity and fear. This situation is what the German writer Enzensberger calls the industrialization of the mind. ..