Showing posts from May, 2021

Bharat Bhushan: Half-life of half-truths: Can diplomacy stop decaying governance?

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, in a visit to Washington DC last week strongly defended “the governance record” of the government at the Hoover Institution, blaming perceptions to the contrary as “political imagery that has been concocted”. He claimed that the Modi government was being harshly judged because its leaders being less familiar with English were “less connected to other global centres”. They were nevertheless “much more confident about their culture, about their language and their beliefs”, had ended “vote bank politics” and deepened democracy. He was responding to a question from former US National Security Advisor, H R McMaster, who asked whether India’s friends should worry about the impact of  Hindutva  politics on secular democracy. McMaster offered Jaishankar an “out” observing that the minister was seen as non-partisan because of having served different governments. Jaishankar however clearly distanced himself from his former avatar as a civil servant, decl

Father Stan Swamy tests positive for coronavirus after being moved to private hospital

NB : What remains to be said about Indian justice? When an 84 year old Jesuit father with Parkinson's disease and loss of hearing is repeatedly denied even a medical bail hearing , kept in jail without trial during a deadly pandemic, and is now found infected with Covid, what may we think? All he ever did was agitate peacefully for the rights of the poor. What lesson are the Home Ministry and the judges conveying to us? That to take seriously the democratic rights granted to us under the Constitution, to struggle peacefully for basic human rights is tantamount to sedition and may result in prolonged incarceration even to the point of death? Thank you, Your Lordships and Your Excellencies. I only hope that some day your children will ask you when and how and why you lost your conscience and your humanity. DS Father Stan Swamy tests positive for coronavirus after being moved to private hospital Tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest Stan Swamy tested positive for the coronavirus in

Tom Phillips: Tens of thousands of Brazilians march to demand Bolsonaro’s impeachment

Tens of thousands of protesters have poured on to the streets of Brazil’s largest cities to demand the impeachment of President Jair Bolsonaro over his  catastrophic response  to a coronavirus pandemic that has claimed nearly half a million Brazilian lives. The demonstrators turned out in more than 200 cities and towns for what is the biggest anti-Bolsonaro mobilisation since Brazil’s Covid outbreak began. “Today is a decisive milestone in the battle to defeat Bolsonaro’s genocidal administration,” said Silvia de Mendonça, 55, a civil rights activist from Brazil’s Unified Black Movement as she led a column of protesters through Rio’s dilapidated city centre…. Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption — and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy Travis Waldron - Brazil Is About To Show The World How A Modern Democracy Collapses Jair Bolsonaro launches assault on Am

Dwarf pansy blooms on tiny Scilly island after 16-year absence

The tiny island of  Tean  was once home to a single resident, a modest chapel, diminutive grazed fields and a dwarf pansy smaller than the tip of a pencil. All these things vanished from the 0.16 sq km Scilly island in the years after it was abandoned by humans seeking larger things. But now the dwarf pansy ( Viola kitaibeliana ), which is found nowhere in Britain apart from on the Isles of Scilly archipelago, has returned to flower again after an absence of 16 summers. Photograph: Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust The pansy was discovered by rangers for the  Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust , who have taken a boat to Tean every autumn and spring for the past seven years to cut back bracken and gorse in parts of the island where it was once found. The pansy, an annual which spreads its seeds after flowering each year, requires short, well-grazed or regularly disturbed turf in which to prosper. Tean was grazed by livestock until the second world war, but the abandonment of grazing alongsi

Lt Colonel Ivo Pinto Lobo (1929-2021). Farewell beloved Uncle

Colonel Ivo Pinto Lobo (1929-2021), retired of the Bombay Sappers breathed his last this morning May 29, 2021.  M y mother 's younger brother, Col Ivo P Lobo, who was in the Bombay Sappers, passed away this morning. He was 92. He was commissioned in the very first batch of the Indian Military Academy in independent India - m y parents put the officer's pips on his shoulders in Chetwode hall after his POP, in 1949. My father was then serving as a teacher in the Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) Dehra Dun.  Col Ivo Lobo  saw action in the Western Sector of the Indo-Pak war in 1971. He was also prominent in the construction of the Srinagar-Leh road. His brother officers and jawans had nothing but love for him.  Here is the tribute posted today by his old regiment Uncle Ivo was much loved by his three children, Charmain, Jonathan and Michelle;  his grandchildren and all his nephews and nieces. Tragically, his dear wife, my aunt Patti Lobo, passed away in 2014, a bereavement

Jawaharlal Nehru's 57th death anniversary / ‘हिंद के जवाहर’ का जाना…

T oday, May 27, is Jawaharlal Nehru's 57th death anniversary. Jawaharlal (1889-1964) was an anti-fascist activist, fighter for India's freedom, Mahatma Gandhi's chosen political heir, India's first & greatest Prime Minister &, above all, a decent human being. I recall being a 14 year-old schoolboy, in Sainik School Kunjpura, on a trek to the Pindari glacier, when we heard about it. We were all deeply saddened. I also remember seeing him when I was a child in Delhi, walking as a common citizen in the lawns outside the Lok Sabha, opposite where Transport Bhawan is located now. There were no Black Cat commandos then!'  Here's a link to   Nehru's works ‘हिंद के जवाहर’ का जाना…  हीरेन मुखर्जी ने कहा था कि जवाहरलाल नेहरू सफल राजनेता नहीं हो सके क्योंकि राजनीति में सफलता के लिए जो असभ्यता चाहिए, नेहरू उसके सर्वथा अयोग्य थे. Rare images of Jawaharlal Nehru Professor Madhavan Palat's lecture   The Spiritual in Nehru's Secular Imagination   (See Nehru

Petition re Suspension of academic in Kerala because he talked about fascism and Sangh Parivar

"By academic freedom, I understand the right to search for truth and publish and teach what one holds to be true. This right also implies a duty: one must not conceal any part of what one has recognised to be true." - Albert Einstein Sign the petition : Dr Gilbert Sebastian, an Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations and Politics, Central University of Kerala (CU Kerala), was suspended for exercising his academic freedom and standing by for what he believed was the truth. During his online class on 'Fascism and Nazism', on 19th April 2021, he said, "The RSS and its affiliate organisations, together called the Sangh Parivar, meaning the Sangh family (including the BJP) in India, can also be considered proto-fascist". Proto-fascist movements are those influenced by classical fascist organisations. He also spoke of the vaccine export policy of the Central government as an example of a patriotism of sorts as rel

Chitrangada Choudhury: Modi Is Worsening the Suffering from India’s Pandemic

On May 8, 2021, as a  deadly second wave  of the COVID pandemic was ripping through India, an imprisoned doctoral student made an urgent appeal to the Delhi High Court. Incarcerated by the Indian government since May 2020 on  dubious terror charges , Natasha Narwal asked for interim bail to see her father, agricultural scientist Mahavir Narwal, who was in an intensive care unit with the virus. The court procrastinated. She would never see her father again: he died the following evening, one among the 4,000 daily COVID  fatalities  India is currently reporting—undoubtedly an  undercount . ना   भूलना   तुम  :  By Dr Raju Sharma, ex IAS Shav Vahini Ganga Song | शव वाहिनी गंगा | Parul Khakkar (Hindi/Punjabi/English Translation) Days earlier, a member of parliament, Manoj Jha, had  amplified  an SOS plea for an oxygen cylinder or hospital bed for the elder Narwal. Jha’s tweet was one among thousands of anguished requests for oxygen, hospital beds, medicines and relief that have consumed I

Nesrine Malik: Abandoned by governments, Palestinians rely on the kindness of strangers

Until Camp David in 1978, Egypt had been Palestine’s main ally and the strongest military power in the region after Israel. The peace treaty returned Sinai to Egypt in exchange for recognition of Israel. With that normalisation, Egypt closed the door to any sort of Arab military assistance to the Palestinians for ever. We inherited that era’s bitter disappointment. Palestine had been such an integral part of Arab identity for so long that it came to be known as “the case” or “the file” – an urgent unresolved issue at the heart of our world. After the Camp David agreement, “the case” went from being a rousing call for solidarity to something more melancholy and scattered. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the Iranian revolution motivated Arab and Gulf governments to ingratiate themselves with the US, and that wouldn’t work if  Israel  remained their public enemy number one. So even the lip service paid to the Palestinian cause in the period immediately after Camp David fell away,

Diksha Madhok: Indian journalism and the Corona Pandemic

Om Gaur is in the middle of the most heart-wrenching story of his career as a journalist. Earlier this month, Gaur — the national editor at Dainik Bhaskar, one of the world's  biggest-selling  newspapers — got a tip that dead bodies had been spotted floating in the Ganges River in  Bihar , a state in eastern India. Given how decomposed the corpses were, officials in Bihar suspected they had come from further upstream — possibly from Uttar Pradesh, the highly populated state where Gaur is based. So he sent a team of 30 reporters to over 27 districts to investigate. After hours of searching, the team found more than 2,000 bodies floating or buried along a 1,100-kilometer (684-mile) stretch of the Ganges, which is considered a holy river to most Hindus. Dainik Bhaskar, one of India's biggest Hindi-language newspapers, published  its story  last week with the headline, "Ganga is ashamed." "I have never seen anything like this in my 35-year-long career," Gaur t

Shir Hever: The war that Israel lost

Back in 2000, the right-wing Israeli politician Ariel Sharon  marched  into the Al-Aqsa Mosque with a detachment of bodyguards. The provocation sparked the second Intifada, which lasted until 2005. Sharon was the leader of the opposition Likud party at the time. The fighting that erupted after his visit also stoked the flames of populism and nationalism in the country, and less than a year later, in March 2001, the Labor Party government of Ehud Barak collapsed and Sharon became prime minister.  The events of this May in Israel-Palestine are a frightening repetition of what happened in 2000. The results of the March 2021 elections in Israel, the fourth elections in a two-year period, were inconclusive. Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud)  failed  to gather a majority in his allocated time to form a government. Shortly after the president gave the opportunity to opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party, Netanyahu  sent  Israeli police to storm the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem during th

Jana Mohr Lone: ‘Mommy, why do the days just keep coming?’ - Philosophy with children

Central to our work at the Center for Philosophy for Children at the University of Washington is the conviction that we ought to challenge beliefs about children’s limited capacities, and to expand our understanding of the nature of philosophy and who is capable of engaging in it. As one seven-year-old put it: ‘In philosophy, we’re growing our minds.’ Most of our philosophy sessions with children are in public elementary schools; the aim is to discover what topics the children want to think about, and to foster discussions and reflection about these subjects. I don’t think of what I do as  teaching  philosophy, though. The point is not to educate children about the history of philosophy, nor to instruct them in the arguments made by professional philosophers. Children’s questioning can constitute the most primary of philosophical activities: reflecting on the meaning of ordinary experiences and concepts in order to develop an understanding of the world, others and themselves. When

Book review - EXTRA LIFE: A Short History of Living Longer

Until a couple of centuries ago, more than a quarter of children died before their first birthday, around half before their fifth. In “Extra Life,” Steven Johnson, a writer of popular books on science and technology, tells the stories behind what he calls, in an understatement, “one of the greatest achievements in the history of our species.”  Steven Johnson:  A Short History of Living Longer Reviewed by Steven Pinker Starting in the second half of the 19th century, the average life span began to climb rapidly, giving humans not just extra life, but  an  extra life. In rich countries, life expectancy at birth hit 40 by 1880, 50 by 1900, 60 by 1930, 70 by 1960, and 80 by 2010. The rest of the world is catching up. Global life expectancy in 2019 was 72.6 years, higher than that of any country, rich or poor, in 1950. People in the shortest-lived countries today will, on average, outlive those of your grandparents’ generation. “Life expectancy” is a statistical abstraction — the average

Hridayesh Joshi: चिपको आंदोलन से बहुत बड़ा है सुंदरलाल बहुगुणा का संघर्ष / Jagdish Krishnaswamy: Sunderlal Bahuguna had wide political acceptance

शुक्रवार को सुंदरलाल बहुगुणा के निधन के साथ हिमालय में पर्यावरणीय संघर्ष और चेतना के एक अध्याय का समापन हो गया .    93 साल के सुंदरलाल कोरोना से पीड़ित थे और पिछली 8 मई को उन्हें ऋषिकेश के एम्स में भरती किया गया था .   बहुगुणा को सत्तर के दशक में उत्तराखंड में चले चिपको आंदोलन से जुड़े होने के कारण " चिपको ” नेता के नाम से जाना जाता है लेकिन आमजन और पर्यावरण के लिए उनके संघर्ष की कहानी की तो यह बहुत छोटी कड़ी है .   सच्चे गांधीवादी:  नौ जनवरी 1927 को उत्तराखंड के टिहरी ज़िले के मरूड़ा गांव में जन्मे बहुगुणा का जीवन पर्यावरण , राजनीति , समाज सेवा और पत्रकारिता समेत बहुत सारे अनुभवों को समेटे था . उनकी समझ गांधी के विचारों से प्रेरित थी . उन्होंने 13 साल की उम्र में आजादी के आंदोलन में हिस्सा लिया . किशोरावस्था में   कौसानी में गांधी सरला बहन के आश्रम में उनका वक्त गुजारा और वहीं उनकी चेतना विकसित हुई . यह गांधी का प्रभाव ही था कि बहुगुणा