Showing posts from August, 2017

Three more rangers killed in a deadly month around the world for wildlife defenders

Three rangers have been killed in separate countries in a deadly month for wildlife defenders. A ranger at Serra da Capivara national park, in Brazil’s north-eastern Piaui region, was killed by hunters on 18 August. Edilson Aparecido dos Santos and two other colleagues were patrolling the park when they were ambushed by a group of four armed men who are believed to have been hunting in the park illegally. Dos Santos was killed in the shootout that followed, while the other two rangers were injured. They were protecting the Serra da Capivara park, a Unesco world heritage site home to 25,000-year-old rock paintings. Dos Santos was a contractor from the company Thor, working for the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio). ICMBio  said in a statement  that “both ICMBio and Thor are taking steps to provide support to staff and their families, and are collaborating with police authorities to clarify the facts”. In a separate incident in Mexico, Gabriel Ram

Seamus Heaney’s Advice to the Young. BY MARIA POPOVA

“The true and durable path into and through experience involves being true … to your own solitude, true to your own secret knowledge.” Seamus Heaney “you’ve got to tell the world how to treat you [because] if the world tells you how you are going to be treated, you are in trouble”  - James Baldwin David Foster Wallace - This Is Water wallace stevens and the 'academy of fine ideas' BY MARIA POPOVA In his spectacular  Nobel Prize acceptance speech , the Irish poet, playwright, and translator  Seamus Heaney  (April 13, 1939–August 30, 2013) celebrated poetry’s singular power to “remind us that we are hunters and gatherers of values” and to “persuade that vulnerable part of our consciousness.” It’s a task that poetry shares perhaps most directly with an unlikely cultural counterpart - the commence-ment address, aimed at equipping the young, most vulnerable in their consciousness, with values. Seamus Heaney by Felix Clay This might be why poets make such fine

Modi, the RSS and incompetents like Khattar and Adityanath. By Swati Chaturvedi

Both Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of India's largest state Uttar Pradesh, and ML Khattar, chief minister of Haryana, have several things in common. Both have zero administrative experience - the price for which is being paid by the blood of little children in UP as the horrific deaths in the BRD hospital  continue unabated  (61 children died again in the BRD college in the past 72 hours), and Khattar's serial mishandling of three major crises during his tenure, which has led to the death of nearly a 100 people. The latest being the violence that set Haryana on the edge as  36 people died  in the rioting that wrecked the state after Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted of rape last Friday. Last year, Khattar had mishandled the Jat quota agitation, which led to  30 deaths  in three days as Haryana burnt. Before that, another cult head Rampal had a  violent standoff  with Haryana police in 2014, when six people died. The other commonality the two greenhorn adminis

Delhi School of Economics refuses permission to students to hold panel discussion

NB : It is clear as daylight that the RSS and its student wing are holding India's universities and students to ransom by virtue of blatant intimidation and their proximity to government power. What else does it mean that 'security can't be provided' for anyone with dissenting opinions? Have the Delhi Police and DU administration surrendered their statutory duties to the Sangh Parivar? If so, they should say so openly: 'No one who differs from the RSS world view will be permitted to speak on campus'. May we speak in the lawns and streets gentlemen? Why not throw off the mask and substitute policemen and RSS pracharaks for teachers?  As for the DSE authorities, all I can say is that your campus has been the fulcrum of free and passionate debate ever since my student days 50 years ago. For you to bend your knees to this shameless hooliganism is both tragic and treacherous. Recent events in Haryana have shown that there are still judges, lawyers and police off

Haunted by unification: A Bangladeshi view of partition

Dhaka Tribune - August 14, 2017 by Afsan Chowdhury In Bangladesh, 1947 is a distant memory, erased by the bloody 1971 liberation war against Pakistan It was May 16, 1971, when soldiers from the Pakistan army rounded up all the Hindu men in Jogisu village in the Rajshahi district, about 300km from Dhaka, the capital of what was then East Pakistan and is now Bangladesh. There were 42 in total. They were all shot dead and the Muslim villagers were ordered to dig a hole in which their bodies would be dumped. Nine widows in white saris recounted the scene for a show I was filming on the atrocities committed during the Bangladesh war of independence, fought between Pakistan, then known as West Pakistan, and East Pakistan and India. “The soldiers then urinated on the grave,” one of the widows, 60-year-old Sri Shundar, recalled. Jogisu was one of the thousands of villages that faced such a fate. An Open Letter to the world on the Bangladesh crisis of 1971 But were the even

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar's book 'The Adivasi Will Not Dance', has been banned by the Government of Jharkhand - 29 August 2017 Solidarity with Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar We are bewildered and dismayed to learn about the recent banning of Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s collection of short stories, The Adivasi Will Not Dance, by the Government of Jharkhand. This ban is absurd and sets a dangerous precedent. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. The same article, admittedly, allows the state to make laws that impose “reasonable restrictions” on this fundamental right, but only based on specific grounds (such as national security or public order), none of which apply in this case. Superficially, it may appear that one of these pre-specified grounds, “the interests of decency”, could be invoked to justify the ban. The book does include some sexually explicit scenes, but calling them “indecent” would be extreme prudishness. If books that include love-making scenes were to be banned, hundreds of thousands of novels would have to be banned,

The verdict on privacy is a flood of sunshine in dark times. By Manini Chatterjee // Opening new doors by Upendra Baxi

Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia: “ Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”   Benjamin Franklin: “A republic, if you can keep it.” (1797) The verdict on privacy is a flood of sunshine in dark times 'Read as a whole, the verdict is truly remarkable on several counts: for the grand sweep of arguments that the honourable judges draw upon from previous legal cases both in India and abroad, from history and from philosophy to prove that privacy lies in the very essence of being human; for the clarity and lucidity with which it explains the real meaning and import of the rights outlined in the Indian Constitution; and most of all for the profound humanity and compassion it displays in upholding the liberty and dignity of each and every Indian citizen..' Read the full text of the judgement Justice Chelameswar: "I do not think that anybody in this country would like to have the officers of the State intruding into their homes or private property at will o

Lakes of fire The froth spewing from them in Bengaluru is a symptom of a pervasive urban problem. By Isher Judge Ahluwalia

Bellandur lake in Bengaluru has been much in the news in recent months for the surge of foam and froth from the polluted lake, and the rise of smoke and flames from the area surrounding it. Barely two weeks ago, in the midst of the city’s heaviest rains in a century, the stinking froth and foam (a mix of chemicals and untreated sewage) rose as high as 10 to 12 feet from Bellandur and spread onto the streets, endangering traffic and entering shops and homes across the road, causing huge inconvenience to those living in the area. Only a few months earlier, in February, the area was engulfed in smoke as garbage strewn around the lake was set ablaze. In May 2015, the Bellandur lake itself was on fire, creating enormous fear and anxiety in the minds of the people living in the area. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) submitted a report to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, highlighting the sustained inflow of untreated sewage and industrial effluents

Panic strikes Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College again, 61 children die in 3 days

Days after alleged disruption in oxygen supply resulted in deaths of  over 30 children within 48 hours at Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College , 61 children died there in the last 72 hours, spreading panic in the hospital again. The latest deaths were due to various ailments, including encephalitis, health complexities in newborns, pneumonia, sepsis etc, whose patients have been flooding the hospital, leading to overcrowding. Independence Day in Gorakhpur The wait never ends:  Medical negligence complaints rise but justice eludes victims On August 27, 28 and 29, 61 deaths were recorded at the hospital — 11 in the encephalitis ward, 25 in neonatal intensive care unit (NNICU) and another 25 in the general pediatric ward. Local doctors said the number of deaths will increase in the coming days due to heavy rainfall, floods and water-logging which foster the spread of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES). While BRD principal Dr P K Singh did not respond to repeated calls, Dr R N S

The princess myth: Hilary Mantel on Diana

It takes a lot a lot of know-how  and behind-the-scenes sweat to transform Cinderella from dust-maid to belle. Fairytales do not describe the day after the wedding, when the young wife lost in the corridors of the palace sees her reflection splinter, and turns in panicked circles looking for a mirror that recognises her. Prince Charles’s attitude of anxious perplexity seems to have concealed an obtuseness about what the marriage meant to his bride. The usual young woman of the era had a job, sexual experience, friends who stayed within her circle – her wedding was simply a big party, and she probably didn’t even move house. But Diana’s experience as daughter of a landed family did not prepare her for Buckingham Palace, any more than Schönbrunn prepared the teenage Marie Antoinette for Versailles. It was Diana’s complaint that no one helped her or saw her need. Fermoy had expressed doubts before the marriage. “Darling, you must understand that their sense of humour and their lifestyle

Spies Like Us: Sarah Lyall interviews two masters of espionage - A Conversation With John le Carré and Ben Macintyre

Their subject is spying. Their obsessions are secrecy and betrayal. They are Englishmen of a certain background, old friends and admirers of each other’s work. One writes novels; the other, nonfiction. They speak in practically perfect sentences. Conversations between John le Carré and Ben Macintyre are inevitably warm, interesting, witty, discursive, conspiratorial and gossipy, although their gossip is often espionage-related and more rarefied than yours or mine. They met for lunch recently, on a desultorily sunny weekday in a private dining room at a boutique hotel in Bristol. Le Carré, 85, had been driven from his home in Cornwall (he also lives in London) by his family’s “outdoor man,” responsible for yardwork and other outside-the-house tasks; Macintyre, 53, had come by train from Winchester, where he had been speaking at a literary festival. As usual, they were in the midst of a flurry of projects, finishing things up and starting new ones.  Le Carr é,  who over a 56-year career

Pratap Bhanu Mehta - Jaggi Vasudev’s ‘consciousness talk’ shows little understanding of the function of morality

Jaggi Vasudev’s column Beyond good and evil  (IE, August 26), is a superficially attractive but ultimately insidious way of understanding the relationship between morality and consciousness. The confusions it contains have seriously distorted modern Indian intellectual, spiritual and political life and therefore need to be subject to more reflection. There is something to Jaggi Vasudev’s starting point. A transformed consciousness can transform our sense of life and allow us to experience living in its fullness, not mutilated by arbitrary restrictions. The problem of consciousness is also the central problem of the Indian tradition. The question of how consciousness can make us aware of the ground of our own being, and overcome the limitations of our current selves, is a worthy quest to pursue. But to conclude from this that the demands of consciousness should supersede morality, is a mistake of the highest order. It is a mistake partly for historical reasons. For starters, th

Is the Modi government promoting corruption? How CVC and Health ministry together closed corruption cases that CBI had confirmed

How CVC and Health ministry together closed corruption cases that CBI had confirmed The Central Vigilance Commission and the health ministry in tandem closed four corruption cases involving senior officials. This, despite the fact that CBI had investigated the cases and found illegalities. The cases were closed in violation of the regulations. The Union health minister Mr J P Nadda had earlier asked for suspension of these investigations Express investigation: Chhattisgarh land grab Four cases of alleged high-level corruption involving senior officials of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi have been recommended for closure by the Central Vigilance Commission in 2016-’17, in violation of regulations. The commission is an independent body that is meant to investigate and make recommendations on cases of corruption involving central government officials. But it closed these cases going by the advice of the Union health ministry, ignoring the rules that clearly def

New heart treatment is biggest breakthrough since statins, scientists say

Anti-inflammatory injections could lower the risk of heart attacks and may slow the progression of cancer, a study has found, in what researchers say is the biggest breakthrough since the discovery of statins.  Heart attack  survivors given injections of a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called canakinumab had fewer attacks in the future, scientists found. Cancer deaths were also halved in those treated with the drug, which is normally used only for rare inflammatory conditions. Statins are the mainstay drugs for heart attack prevention and work primarily by lowering cholesterol levels. But a quarter of people who have one heart attack will suffer another within five years despite taking statins regularly. It is believed this is because of unchecked inflammation within the heart’s arteries. The research team, led from Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, tested whether targeting the inflammation with a potent anti-inflammatory agent would provide an extra benefit over statin

Progressive Muslims salute Muslim Women / By refusing to honour talaq verdict, India’s most influential Islamic body is harming Muslims

Press release:  Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy: Applauds  SC verdict:  in favour  of Islam,  against  the patriarchal ulema Salutes  Muslim women for their gritty long march from Shah Bano to Shayara Bano.  Felicitates  Muslim women for breaching the dam of Male Supremacism Accuses  Maulana Mehmood Madni of inviting contempt of Supreme Court and fuelling Hindutva Calls upon  the ulema to realize that change will no longer remain in chains. Invites them to be partners in reform, not obstacles in the way. Warns  citizens against any attempt to communalise and/or politicize a secular verdict IMSD applauds the majority 3:2 judgment of the Supreme Court, “setting aside” the practice of instant triple talaq among Indian Muslims. Two of the judges have held the practice to be “un-Constitutional” while a third has deemed it “un-Quranic”. We welcome the fact that each one of the three separate judgments reflecting the views of all the 5 members on the constitutional b

Slain journalist’s family next in line for justice / CBI officer who cracked Ram Rahim Singh case was asked to ‘close it' / BJP MP defends Ram Rahim Singh / Indian godmen and their ponzi schemes

NB: Whatever happens to this case in the coming weeks, all law-abiding Indians are indebted to the journalists, police officers and judges who pursued the evidence for 17 years to secure justice for the victims of Ram Rahim Singh. This saga of the deliberate obstruction of justice by officials and elected representatives indicates the corruption of our political culture, which permits rape and murder to go unpunished via ruthless misuse of power. I hope that the professionalism and courage of these officials will stiffen the commitment of more officers and judges in these troubled times, when the RSS-run government and its allies are undermining the rule of law in full light of day. DS Ram Chander Chhatarpati remained hospitalised for 28 days after being shot five times, but his dying declaration was not recorded before a magistrate Anshul’s father was a Sirsa-based journalist, who had launched his own evening newspaper Pura Sachh in 2000. When the issue of sexual exploitatio

Two months into Doklam standoff, assessing China’s strength. By Praveen Swami

Loose-cannon special forces officer Leng Feng emerges from his seaside retreat, to the applause of a grateful nation, when a cartel of arms dealers and mercenaries begin to lay waste an impoverished African country. Fighting to save aid workers and innocent civilians, he fights his way past the enemy with underwater kung-fu, evades an armed drone and destroys battle tanks. The plot of China’s highest-grossing blockbuster, Wolf Warrior II, seems familiar, because it is: this is Rambo with Chinese characteristics. Few in the audience today would recall Li Cunbao’s 1982 novel, Gaoshan xia de huahuan (‘Wreaths of flowers at the foot of the mountains’), which tells the story of the soldiers who fought China’s last real war. The brave company commander at the centre of the story leaves his wife and baby a frock, used uniforms, and a debt of $ 380 — 10 times his pay. Even fewer would have seen Tamen zheng nianqing (‘In their prime’), banned in 1986, a gritty anti-war film on soldiers hol

SC Verdict is against mass surveillance makes Aadhaar Act an unjust black act

Supreme Court’s rare 9-Judge Bench rejects government’s position, upholds right to privacy as a fundamental right in biometric UID/Aadhaar number case Verdict is against mass surveillance makes Aadhaar Act an unjust black act UID/Aadhaar remains voluntary  Pronouncing the verdict, in the 12 digit biometric Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number project case, the Supreme Court’s rare 9-Judge Bench recognized that “The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution” of India. It further said that “Decisions (of the Court) subsequent to Kharak Singh which have enunciated the position” and “lay down the correct position in law.” In Kharak Singh v. State of U.P. & Others, AIR 1963 SC 1295, the decision was rendered by a Bench of six judges. It categorically stated that “The decision in Kharak Singh to the extent that it holds that the

Exploring the Shadows of America’s Security State. By Alfred W. McCoy

The drug traffic that supplied heroin for the U.S. troops fighting in South Vietnam was not exclusively the work of criminals. Once the opium left tribal poppy fields in Laos, the traffic required official complicity at every level. The helicopters of Air America, the airline the CIA then ran, carried raw opium out of the villages of its hill-tribe allies. The commander of the Royal Lao Army, a close American collaborator, operated the world’s largest heroin lab.. In the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks, Washington pursued its elusive enemies across the landscapes of Asia and Africa, thanks in part to a massive expansion of its intelligence infrastructure, particularly of the emerging technologies for digital surveillance, agile drones, and biometric identification. In 2010, almost a decade into this secret war with its voracious appetite for information, the  Washington Post  reported  that the national security state had swelled into a “fourth branch” of the federal government