Showing posts from December, 2017

Praveen Swami: This Op-Ed Is Dead

NB : A timely and sensitive essay. The author's observations about the destruction of conversation are correct, and carry sinister portent. In its deepest sense, 'communication is living together': if we fail to communicate, we render ourselves incapable of social life, which can then be taken over by the Behemoth of the modern state. It is worth considering whether 'New Dogma' is actually new, or something which has been cooking for decades. I would say the realm of thought and philosophy has been relentlessly subsumed by ideology , which has emerged as a substitute for religion.  To take two rampant examples of ideological belief systems, Nation-worship is the atheism of the Right; Party-worship the deism of the Left.  The Schmittian ramifi cations of Bolshevism   are a clue to why the doctrines of a Nazi jurist exercise so much fascination for Leninists.  Communal ideologies pretend to religious belief, actually they are about representational claims and the

An Auspicious Day

An Auspicious Day translated by Gil Fronsdal (sent to me by my friend Anand Swamy, to whom my thanks are due) from the Bhaddekaratta Sutta Middle Length Discourse 131 The Buddha said, Don’t chase the past Or long for the future. The past is left behind; The future is not yet reached. Right where it is, have insight Into whatever phenomena is present; Not faltering and not agitated,  By knowing it one develops the mind. Ardently do what should be done today – who knows, death may come tomorrow. There is no bargaining with Mortality  And his great army. Whoever dwells thus ardent,  – active day and night – Is, says the peaceful sage, One who has an auspicious day See also The Almond Trees by Albert Camus Where the mind is without fear Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high  Where knowledge is free Where the world has not been broken up into fragments By narrow domestic walls Where words come out from the depth of truth Where tirele

Mohan Guruswamy - 2018: Interesting times ahead

The year that has gone by is best forgotten. It was a year gone wrong by manmade injuries, mostly made by one man. Its true demonetization was ordered in 2016, but the backbreaking consequences were debited to 2017. Then we had the double whammy of the ineptly and mangled GST rubbing salt into the nations open wounds. The loss of GDP is estimated, by most serious and unbiased economists, to be around 2% of the GDP (2016-17) of Rs.152.51 lakh crores, which translates into a huge Rs.3.05 lakh crores or about $70 billion. In terms of PPP GDP, we are looking at a humungous amount of 2% of $8721 trillion or a deemed loss of over Rs.12 lakh crores. These are mind-boggling numbers and there is no question of ever recovering this loss. Even recovering the pre-November 8 GDP growth trajectory will take a number of years. The economy has been on the skids since 2012, which was the one big reason the UPA, whose decade long tenure scaled giddying heights of GDP growth to average 7.8%, was sho

André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra perform La Paloma - in Mexico. This man is a gift from God.. Music may yet save humanity.. Happy new year!

La Paloma - in Mexico André Rieu & Mirusia: Time To Say Goodbye Granada Lou Bega: Mambo Number 5 Andre Rieu Amazing Grace  (in Scotland) Ai se eu te Pego! (If I catch you!) live in São Paulo Oh Happy Day (Feat. Harlem Gospel Choir & Soweto Gospel Choir) When The Saints Go Marching In 'Irish washerwomen' - in Dublin The Rose Lara's theme + 150 dancers Circus Renz - xylophone Blue Danube My way Rosamunde Old comrades O Solo Mio Radetsky march Zorba Ballade pour Adeline (composed by a father for his daughter) Volare Andre Rieu - Il Silenzo Beethoven's Ode to Joy (All men shall be brothers) Boléro (Ravel) Gheorghe Zamfir - THE LONELY SHEPHERD André Rieu - My Heart Will Go On The Little Drummer Boy  ( Some music for Christmas)

Book review: The Voegelin Enigma

Order and History (Vol. 5): In Search of Order (Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Vol. 18) Reviewed by Montgomery Erfourth Eric Voegelin smashed every category, scrambled every dichotomy, and spurned every orthodoxy he encountered to discover what ailed modern Western society. In his later life Voegelin  worked to account for the endemic political violence of the twentieth century, in an effort variously referred to as a philosophy of politics, history, or consciousness. In Voegelin’s Weltan-schauung, he “blamed a flawed utopian interpretation of Christianity for spawning totalitarian movements like Nazism and Communism.” Voegelin eschewed any ideological labels or categorizations that readers and followers attempted to impose on his work Voegelin perceived similarities between ancient Gnosticism and modernist political theories, particularly communism and nazism. He identified the root of the Gnostic impulse as alienation, that is, a sense of disconnection from soci

Hegel and the mystical tradition: Interview with Glenn Magee. By Stanislav Panin

A year ago I interviewed American scholar  Glenn Magee , the author of  Hegel and the Hemetic Tradition  and the editor of  The Cambridge Handbook of Western Mysticism , for Russian journal Research in Religious Studies . The interview was published in Russian in issue 2(12)/2015  * * * You are a specialist in classic German philosophy, Western mysticism and esotericism. Why do you think these topics are important for contemporary scholars? Well, these are three distinct — and rather huge — areas. Though my scholarship deals with how they overlap. A very simple answer to this question would be that all of these areas ought to be of interest to scholars because they have been extremely influential. German philosophy has shaped the world that we live in today, culturally and politically. And mysticism and esotericism are perennial expressions of spirit — of human nature. But the real reason why German philosophy, Western mysticism, and Western esotericism are important is that t

Women’s NGOs are changing the world – and not getting credit for it

In contemporary global development circles, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are now performing many more roles and activities than they did a few decades ago. NGOs work with governments, community groups and the private sector — to develop and implement programs, monitor and evaluate their progress and help train people working on those projects.  They’re considered more nimble than other institutions in accomplishing development goals, because they can reach the most vulnerable or disaffected people in a community and find innovative solutions to problems. Although their funding streams and institutional decision-making structures are typically multinational, NGOs’ legitimacy, indeed, often rests on perceptions of them being “local” and “close to the people.” NGOs are increasingly taking on the responsibility of implementing the gender equality and women’s empowerment agendas of the global development sector. But very rarely have researchers tried to understand or doc

This love story of a Rohingya Muslim-Buddhist couple is like no other

In her dreams, Setara walks hand in hand with her Muslim husband through the streets of the seaside Myanmar town they grew up in. They visit old friends, share a meal with family, dip their toes into the warm surf of the Bay of Bengal. But in the hate-filled reality of the world they live in, Setara can only do these things alone — when she takes off her Islamic veil and crosses through a pair of checkpoints into the predominantly Buddhist state capital, where her government will not allow the love of her life to set foot. That’s because Setara’s husband is an ethnic Rohingya Muslim, a group the United Nations has called one of the most persecuted on the planet. Setara, meanwhile, was born a Buddhist and part of the ethnic Rakhine, who despise the Rohingya and see them as foreign invaders from Bangladesh. Marriage between the two communities is extraordinarily rare. It’s also risky in a nation where security forces have driven more than 730,000 Rohingya into exile since 2016, ca

Syeda Hameed - Muslims must share the blame for their present situation in India

The government’s decision to introduce the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill in the Lok Sabha today poses a challenge to the Muslim community . As an example of its disregard for the community most affected, the minister of state for law and justice has said that in framing this law, no Muslim groups had been consulted. The Koranic provision on talaq is clear. In Islam, there is no concept of reincarnation. To enjoy the gift of this life, the provision of graceful separation is provided in case marriage becomes intolerable for either party. Hence the concept of talaq and khula. The man is given a way out through the provision of talaq and the woman through the right of khula. The balance is perfect and explained with precision in the Koran. My mentor Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who has translated and written the best explication of the Koran stressed the fact that its injunctions are simple. He deplored the self-appointed custodians of Islam who have created huge compl

'It's all fentanyl': opioid crisis takes shape in Philadelphia as overdoses surge. By Edward Helmore // Drugmakers ‘Complicit’ In Opioid Crisis

Last week , the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  released  figures indicating that a sharp rise in drug overdose deaths, which many attribute in part to fentanyl, is causing a drop in American life expectancy. Opioids killed almost 64,000 people in 2016. The figure for 2017 is likely to be higher again. In October, Donald Trump declared  a public health emergency . On the streets of Kensington, a crisis is taking shape that an anti-drug advertising campaign  proposed by Trump may do little to ease. “Fentanyl has drastically changed the landscape,” Trainor said. “Sixty-four percent of fatals in Philadelphia County are fentanyl-related. There’s no dope out here now, it’s all fentanyl. Even the old timers are scared of it.” In Kensington, many addicts congregate in a small park. It has become busier since authorities fenced off and filled in “the Tracks”, an aptly named encampment near train lines where residents once set up tables and mirrors to aid fixing in

Rupert Neate - World's richest 500 see their wealth increase by $1trillion this year

The world’s 500 richest people have increased their wealth by $1tn (£745bn) so far this year due to a huge increase in the value of global stock markets, which are likely to finish 2017 at record highs. The big increase in the fortunes of the ultra-wealthy comes as billions of poorer people across the world have seen their wealth standstill or decline. The gap between the very rich and everyone else has widened to the biggest it has been in a century and advisers to the super-rich are warning them of a “strike back” from the squeezed majority. The globe’s 500 richest people, as measured by the  Bloomberg billionaires index, have seen the value of the wealth increase by 23% so far this year, taking their combined fortunes to $5.3tn. The increase is largely the result of booming stock markets. The MSCI World Index and the US Standard & Poor’s 500 are both up almost 20% so far this year. The UK’s FTSE 100 is up more than 6% – and hit a new closing high of 7,620.7 points on Wedn

Why do archive files on Britain’s colonial past keep going missing? Siobhan Fenton

he  National Archives  are home to more than 11m documents, many of them covering the most disturbing periods of Britain’s colonial past. The uncomfortable truths revealed in previously classified government files have proved invaluable to those seeking to understand this country’s history or to expose past injustices. It is deeply concerning, therefore, to discover that about  1,000 files have gone missing  after being removed by civil servants. Officially, the archives describe them as “misplaced while on loan to a government department”. The files, each containing dozens of pages, cover subjects such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the British colonial administration in Palestine, tests on polio vaccines and territorial disputes between the UK and Argentina. It is unclear whether duplicates exist. The loss of so many documents of such significance has understandably caused concern among historians, politicians and human rights groups. Amnesty International has called on

G. Sampath - Reading Rahul Gandhi’s hand

Until a few months ago, a politician could speak of a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ and expect to be taken seriously. It was an eventuality that seemed both possible and probable. A few days after  the Gujarat election results , it would seem that the spectre of a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ has been exorcised for the time being. Four factors: One could discern four factors behind the upswing in the Congress’s fortunes in Gujarat, and these may well constitute the core ingredients for a pan-India revival too. The first is Rahul Gandhi’s comfort level in a leadership role. Never before has he looked as relaxed and confident as he did leading from the front in Gujarat. For long he has been mocked as a bumbling neophyte lacking the commitment necessary for the rigours of electoral politics. But as he travelled across Gujarat, addressing nearly 30 rallies, gone was the diffident dilettante mouthing ghost-written speeches. Instead, what the people saw was a politician who was earnest, did not act

Chinese human rights activist jailed for eight years for subversion. By Benjamin Haas

“I will be convicted not because I am really guilty, but because of my refusal to accept a government-appointed lawyer, plead guilty in a televised propaganda confession, and for exposing torture, mistreatment and violence and prosecutorial misconduct” A prominent Chinese human rights activist has been jailed eight years in jail for subversion on Tuesday, the harshest sentence to be passed so far in a government crackdown on activism that began more than two years ago. Wu Gan, a blogger better known by his online name of Super Vulgar Butcher, regularly championed sensitive cases of government abuses of power, both online and in street protests. He was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of “subverting state power” at the Tianjin no 2 people’s court. He has been in pretrial detention for more than two years after staging a protest outside a court. “The court found that the defendant Wu Gan became dissatisfied with the existing political system,” according to the ver

Matthew Taylor - $180 billion investment in plastic factories feeds global packaging binge / Isher J. Ahluwalia, Almitra Patel Cities at Crossroads: Perils of plastics waste

The global plastic binge which is already causing widespread damage to oceans, habitats and food chains, is set to increase dramatically over the next 10 years after multibillion dollar investments in a new generation of plastics plants in the US. Fossil fuel companies are among those who have ploughed more than $180bn since 2010 into new “cracking” facilities that will produce the raw material for everyday plastics from packaging to bottles, trays and cartons. The new facilities – being built by corporations like Exxon Mobile Chemical and Shell Chemical – will help fuel a 40% rise in plastic production in the next decade, according to experts, exacerbating the plastic pollution crisis that  scientist warn already risks “near permanent pollution of the earth.” “We could be locking in decades of expanded plastics production at precisely the time the world is realising we should use far less of it,” said Carroll Muffett, president of the US  Center for International Environmenta

The Little Drummer Boy

Some music for Christmas The Little Drummer Boy  (originally known as Carol of the Drum ) is a popular Christmas song written by the American classical music composer and teacher  Katherine Kennicott Davis  in 1941. First recorded in 1951 by the  Trapp Family Singers , the song was further popularized by a 1958 recording by the  Harry Simeone  Chorale; the Simeone version was re-released successfully for several years and the song has been recorded many times since.  In the lyrics the singer relates how, as a poor young boy, he was summoned by the  Magi  to the  Nativity of Jesus . Without a gift for the infant the little drummer boy played his  drum  with Jesus' mother,  Mary 's approval; recalling, "I played my best for Him" and "He smiled at me." The Little Drummer Boy -  Pentatonix The Little Drummer Boy -  African Tribal Version Come they told me pa rum pum pum pum A newborn King to see pa rum pum pum pum Our finest gifts we bring