Showing posts from November, 2016

Supreme Court order on national anthem uses patriotism to undermine individual rights // Has the deification of the nation become the nationalisation of God?

"The disinterestedly wise ought to desire the holding together of all being" (Bhagwadgita, III 25) "...When the national anthem is played it is imperative for everyone to show honour and respect. It would instil a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism…Time has come for people to realise that the national anthem is a symbol of constitutional patriotism… people must feel they live in a nation and  this wallowing individually perceived notion of freedom must go …people must feel this is my country, my motherland. [emphasis added] ... "From the aforesaid, it is clear as crystal that it is the sacred obligation of every citizen to abide by the ideals engrafted in the Constitution. And one such ideal is to show respect for the National Anthem and the National Flag. Be it stated, a time has come, the citizens of the country must realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to National Anthem which is the symbol of the Constitutional

Harish Khare - The Cult of the Leader: Demonetisation and Modi Worship // Sarita Rani - Deaf PM, Hapless Parliamentarians Need a Dose of Nation-Wide Protests

Are we heading towards an authoritarian regime that curbs our freedom to spend our own money? Pay day cash crunch: Painful queues, chaos return and it's just the beginning Banks ask for protection: 'People get agitated because they cannot withdraw their own money ' “We do not want another ‘god’ as the political leader of our country… We must not only not have any more gods…we must also ‘devalue’ the exaggerated importance that we have given to the office of Prime Minister.” The author of this wisdom lies gravely unwell in a nursing home in New Delhi. Much before old age and its attendant infirmities took their toll, this man used to articulate - on behalf of the BJP - wise propositions of good governance and democratic accountability. His name is Jaswant Singh, the most suave, educated and responsible minister from the Vajpayee era. Singh had made this formulation in 1987. That was the age when the prime minister had more than 400 seats in the Lok Sabha; he al

Cubans pay last respects to Castro

Elderly revolutionaries joined young doctors, famous musicians, government workers and former guerrilla fighters in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución as thousands lined up to pay their last respects to  Fidel Castro . Some carried flags. A few had flowers. All came with memories of the guerrilla leader who overthrew a dictatorship, resisted a US-led invasion, faced down a nuclear superpower and dominated the island’s political life for half a century. Cartoon for @chronicleherald for Monday At the start of the official commemorations, Orlando Gómez had come with his wife to bid farewell to his old comrade in arms. Waiting in the hot sun to sign the condolence book, he recalled the first time he had gone into combat with Castro in March 1958. A few weeks earlier, Gómez – then an idealistic 18-year-old – had left his home in Havana to join the small rebel army in the Sierra Maestra mountains. He had been put in charge of a mortar unit for the attack on an army garrison at the San

'Park benches are empty, coffee mugs, morose': Ravish Kumar on 'Love in the time of Notebandi'

Modi tu PM nahin Paytm hai ! Tere seene mein dil nahin, ATM hai ! ( NB - these lines were composed by a friend who had better remain un-named - DS ) What happens to matters of the heart when you don't have any hard currency?' After  taking  on the Government for clamping down on freedom of expression, TV journalist Ravish Kumar chose a different medium for his observations on  demonetisation . Namely, fiction. Featuring “Love in the time of Notebandi”. “Park benches are empty, coffee mugs, morose, and I cannot see any more tears in the eyes of teddy bears. Lovers are not emanating the smell of perfume but the stink of old notes.” This was how Kumar began at the Times Lit Fest in New Delhi, where he was talking about his latest book,  Laprek: Laghu Prem Katha , a compilation of short love stories that he first wrote as Facebook posts. “I promise to tell the shrota a love story for the next one hour.” That is the lover’s version of prominently displayed message fr

Andrew Pulver - Russian war film set to open amid controversy over accuracy of events

Every Soviet schoolchild was taught about the heroic feats of the last 28 members of Ivan Panfilov’s division, which in late 1941 fought to the death to stop a Nazi tank assault on Moscow in one of the best known episodes of the Soviet war effort. “Russia is vast, but there is nowhere to retreat – Moscow is behind us,” one of the Red Army soldiers, armed at the end with just Molotov cocktails and grenades, said as the attack was halted. But as a film about the events, Panfilov’s 28, opens in  Russia  this week, controversy rumbles on over the fact that many of the details of that last stand – both in the film and versions pre-dating it – appear to have been invented. Arguments over the upcoming film and the mythology around the episode in general began last spring, when Sergei Mironenko, the director of Russia’s state archive, gave an interview stating that while there had indeed been a bloody battle outside Moscow, it was not as many had understood it. His words provoked

3,800-Year-Old Ancient ‘Thinking Person’ Statuette Unearthed

JERUSALEM, Nov 23 (Reuters) - A team of Israeli archaeologists and high school students have unearthed a 3,800-year-old pottery jug bearing a statuette of a person who appears deep in thought, sitting with knees bent and head rested on hand. The 3,800 year-old pottery jug with a rare statuette, discovered during  excavation in central Israel, at the Israel Antiquities Authority offices. The Israel Antiquities Authority said on Wednesday the jug, dating back to what archaeologists refer to as the Middle Bronze Age, had been found during an excavation in Yehud, a Tel Aviv suburb. “It seems that at first the jug, which is typical of the period, was prepared and afterwards the unique sculpture was added, the likes of which have never before been discovered in previous research,” said Gilad Itach, who directed the excavation, which included teenage diggers. The statuette is about 18 cm (7 inches) tall. “One can see that the face of the figure seems to be resting on its hand as

Beautiful avian ballet: Starlings on Otmoor

The starlings are an astonishing thing to see - Near Oxford - England. This was filmed at an RSPB reserve called Otmoor. The music is from CSS Music. The track is "soaring with the sun".  Like drivers on a freeway, starlings dont appear to mind having neighbors nearby on their sides—or above and below, for that matter—as long as they have open space ahead. That makes sense, since the presence of a clear path in the direction of travel minimizes the likelihood of collisions should the birds need to shift their course abruptly, as is likely when a falcon attacks.  ... the researchers have been able to use it to calculate the number of neighbors to which each starling pays close attention—a quantified elaboration of Pottss chorus line idea. By looking at correlations between the movements of neighboring starlings, they can show that each bird always pays attention to the same number of neighbors, whether theyre closer or fa

Press statement by Free Software Movement of India - District Magistrate of Indore bans criticism of de-monetisation on social media // Dhirendra Jha: Rattled by cash crisis, BJP calls off Modi's December 24 rally in Lucknow

Dangerous order by district magistrate of Indore banning any criticism on social media of de-monetisation by Govt. of India - Press statement by Free Software Movement of India Free Software Movement of India ( -  Press release 22 November 2016 The District Magistrate of Indore has issued an order –  Order/2956/RADM/2016, Indore/Date 14/11/2016 under Section 144  – banning any criticism on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc., on exchange of old currency that is “objectionable” or can “cause incitement”. The order is attached here. This, in effect, is a blanket ban on any criticism of the Government on its failure to provide sufficient new notes for the old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes that it has demonetised.  Clearly, having failed to remonetise the economy and putting the common man to immense hardship, the government now wants to clamp down on all criticism on its failures. The use of Section 144 for censorship of social media also goes far beyond

This video is the nearest you will come to floating through the International Space Station

It’s like a scene from a science fiction film – think Stanley Kubrick’s 1969 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, or more recent films like The Martian and Gravity – but it’s real.  A point of view shot set to ambient music leisurely takes viewers through the architecture of the International Space Station surrounded by glorious vistas of space and planet Earth (visible from 400 kilometres above). It’s as close to flying as human beings can get. but astronauts at the International Space Station get to experience it on a day-to-day basis.  NASA recently released the footage, which was shot using a 4K High Definition fisheye lens. With this kind of camera technology, the video provides an incredibly detailed view of the Space Station, while at the same time maintaining a documentary reality.

A Hunger Artist - by Franz Kafka (1922)

NB: Franz Kafka's  A Hunger Artist  was first written in 1922 and published in a collection also entitled A Hunger Artist . Here is the story, a parable for our times - DS During these last decades the interest in professional fasting has markedly diminished. It used to pay very well to stage such great performances under one's own management, but today that is quite impossible. We live in a different world now. At one time the whole town took a lively interest in the hunger artist; from day to day of his fast the excitement mounted; everybody wanted to see him at least once a day; there were people who bought season tickets for the last few days and sat from morning till night in front of his small barred cage; even in the nighttime there were visiting hours, when the whole effect was heightened by torch flares; on fine days the cage was set out in the open air, and then it was the children's special treat to see the hunger artist; for their elders he was often just

Kafka: An End or a Beginning?

Each torpid turn of the world has such disinherited children, to whom no longer what’s been, and not yet what’s coming, belongs: Rainer Maria Rilke Yet I felt no certainty about anything, demanding from every single moment a new confirmation of my existence… in truth, a disinherited man – Franz Kafka NB : Both the above citations come at the opening of Erich Heller : The disinherited mind: essays in modern German literature and thought (1952, 1961) DS Read Kafka's A Hunger Artist (1922)  An e xtract:  Many more days went by, however, and that too came to an end. An overseer's eye fell on the cage one day and he asked the attendants why this perfectly good cage should be left standing there unused with dirty straw inside it; nobody knew, until one man, helped out by the notice board, remembered about the hunger artist. They poked into the straw with sticks and found him in it. "Are you still fasting?" asked the overseer, "when on earth do you mean t

MGNREGA Workers Demand Their Wages Now // RBI Governor Must Resign: Bankers’ Confederation // Gujarati Bizmen Knew of Note Ban in Advance: Ex-BJP MLA // Purging the poor: Mukul Kesavan

Text of demand by Concerned Citizens and Friends of  Sangtin Kisaan Mazdoor Sangathan, Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh The Government of India (GoI) has failed to pay the wages of thousands upon thousands of rural labourers across the villages of India who have worked under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).  MGNREGA aims to enhance the livelihood security of households in rural areas of the country by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. Wages are to be paid weekly. In Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh alone, the GoI owes more than Rs 30 crore in payment for the work done over the last five months. Births, weddings, illnesses and deaths have greeted and tested the households of peasants and labourers, and angry and violated people have enacted one protest after another at the offices of district magistrates and development officers t