Saturday, April 26, 2008

tip of the iceberg ? or the end of it ?

North Pole could be ice free in 2008 says the new scientist Environment.

You know when climate change is biting hard when instead of a vast expanse of snow the North Pole is a vast expanse of water. This year, for the first time, Arctic scientists are preparing for that possibility.

I am not an environmental expert, and so don't know exactly what this implies.. but the article goes on to point out
What is more, the extent of the ice is only half the picture. Satellite images show that most of the Arctic ice at the moment is thin, young ice that has only been around since last autumn
Despite its news value in the media, the North Pole being ice free is not in itself significant. To scientists, Serreze points out, "this is just another point on the globe". What is worrying, though, is the fact that multi-year ice – the stuff that doesn't melt in the summer – is not piling up as fast as Arctic ice generally is melting.
Some factors could still save the day, though. In summer 2007, warm winds favoured melting. "If we have an atmospheric pattern like we had last year, we are going to lose a whole bunch of ice this summer, but if we have a cooler, more cyclonic pattern, that might preserve some of that ice," says Serreze.

The article also mentions
In September 2007, Arctic sea ice reached a record low, opening up the fabled North-West passage that runs from Greenland to Alaska.
I guess thats what is mentioned here also

The Northwest Passage, one that eluded famous explorers, may become a shipping lane because so much ice is melting in the Arctic. And now there's a race to see who will get rights to the melting area, where a U.S. study has suggested as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas could be hidden.

Talking about gas prices.. the hike in the last one month or so.... - I guess globally the prices are shooting up, but is it also a hike so that closer to the US elections in November it can be reduced - I vaguely remember a similar gimmick in 2004 ... but hey, Bush ws seeking a re-election that time where as there is nothing like that this time... still is that going to happen ?

Well , like so many things in life, time alone can tell, I guess

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I wish my neighbour's son were a Bhagat Singh

I would not call it a "scientfic poll" yet, this recent survey by India Today throws up some interesting results... The top two choices have a strong military way of working .... The champion of non-violence is pushed to a third place with just 13% !
The poll may also be reflective of the "Young India" .... more than 50% of population being under 25.
Its a different question how many of the people who really voted a Bhagat Singh or a Subash Chandra Bose are really willing to stand up and sacrifice for the Nation, when really put to test ? Or is it the same old "I wish a Bhagat Singh were born in my neighbour's house " ? .. Well atleast I am glad that the top two choices are men with such love for the Nation... India can look forward to its youth power in future
And what about their "political ideologies" .. Yes Bhagat Singh was a self-declared atheist and influenced by Marxism - but if he were to see what the Indian Marxists of today are upto, he would have perhaps waged a war against them. Interestingly more than the Marxists its perhaps the RSS that considers Bhagat singh a hero - to the extend that it demanded a Bharat Ratna for Bhagat Singh - .
What about Bose ? I believe he is a leader whose legacy unfortunately continues in perhaps not the best of the reasons.. One - theories about his death, which has become almost an obsession for many, especially Bengalis ! Two - The party that he found, "The Forward Bloc" , has removed the last word from its guiding principle of "Left Wing Nationalism" ...
Interestingly Bose's open connection with Hitler has been much less criticised, say as oppossed to Golwalker's alleged "drawing inspiration" from the Nazis ( By the way, here is a detailed article by Koenraad Elst on " Was Guru Golwalker a Nazi" ? - ) .....
And here are some interesting quotes from Bose ( I am not sure in what context he wrote this, except that this was during his college days)
Vivekananda’s teachings had been neglected by his own followers-even by the Ramakrishna Mission which he had founded. We were going to give effect to them. We could, therefore, be called the neo-Vivekananda group, and our main object was to bring about a synthesis between religion and nationalism, not merely in the theoretical sphere, but in practical life as well. For the emphasis on nationalism was inevitable in the political atmosphere of Calcutta of those days. ( from his unfinished utobiography "An Indian Pilgrim")

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

revisiting the question of dowry - that is news about a survey conducted by a pro-left group in Kerala ( which has 55% Hindus) , a couple of years ago.. some relevant quotes

While a privileged Hindu family owns only an average of 0.69 acres, a Muslim family owns 0.77 acre and a Christian family, 1.264 acre.

The report published in September this year says only 80.1% of Hindu houses are in a livable condition, less than that of Muslims (89.7%) and Christians (83.6%).

Even in matter of dowry, Christians lead the tally with 80% families following it. Muslims tag along at 76%. Though less, Hindus too are yet to rid themselves of the social evil with 52% still under its grip.

Haaaa .... there goes the story of what the media and the academia and the intelligentsia and the westia has often termed as a "Hindu socal evil" !

Having grown up for almost 18 years in Kerala - I am least surprised... for I grew up hearing stories of how my Mulsim neighbour's daughter was tortured and finally divorced for dowry deficit..... how my Christian neighbours daughter's marriage did not happen for a long time for they could not agree to the "rates" that the groom's families asked for...... I had chanced upon matrimonial advertisement-files on the desktop of the computers in the browsing center in my home town in Kerala of a Muslim girl which clearly mentioned "ready to pay xyz lakhs in cash and abc amount of gold".......

and much less such stories and incidents when it comes to Hindus....... and yet as Mark Anthony would say "Dowry is a Hindu social evil" .......

No, I am not denying dowry related crimes and the evil itself in Hindu families in Kerala or elsewhere, but just as the harijan-converts-to-christian-dalits and fast realizing in their new found religion that "dalithood" is not a Hindu something, the Hinduness of dowry is another myth that will be shattered inspite of all the **ias

Well, I should not do a blanket blaming, for there has been such works as Veena Oldenburghs book - - Dowry Murder: The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime

To quote: In this highly provocative book, Veena Oldenburg argues that these killings are neither about dowry nor reflective of an Indian culture or caste system that encourages violence against women.Rather, such killings can be traced directly to the influences of the British colonial era. In the precolonial period, dowry was an institution managed by women, for women, to enable them to establish their status and have recourse in an emergency

Interestingly I chanced upon this Chapter in Kautilya's ( Chanakya) arthashastra

Book III , Chapter 2 , lines 11 - 13 can be roughly transated as ...

for it is they that receive the money paid by the bridegroom for their daughter. In case of the absence by death of either the father or the mother, the survivor will receive the money-payment. If both of them are dead, the virgin herself shall receive it. Any kind of marriage is approvable, provided it pleases all those that are concerned in it.

So the boys family pays the girls family !! ( a custom I believe, still in existence in parts of India's North-east) ......

also goes

"vrittiraabandhyam vaa striidhanam" - Means of subsistence or jewelry constitutes what is called the property of a woman. ( 14)

"tadaatmaputrasnuShaabharmaNi pravaasaapratividhaanE cha bhaaryaayaa bhOktum adOShaH" - It is no guilt for the wife to make use of this property in maintaining her son, her daughter-in-law, or herself, whenever her absent husband has made no provision for her maintenance. ( 16)

So thats the real meaning of "striidhanam" which currently is used in the sense of dowry ( oh.. talk about blindly taking english terms into Indian context.... varna being equated to caste is another such blunder) ....

Arthashaastra goes on....

On the death of her husband a woman, desirous to lead a pious life, shall at once receive not only her endowment and jewelry, but also the balance of the marriage-price due her. If after obtaining these two things she remarries another, she shall be caused to pay them back together with interest on their value. . . If a widow marries any man other than of her father-in-law's selection, she shall forfeit whatever had been given to her by her father-in-law and her deceased husband. . . .No woman shall succeed in her attempt to establish her title to the property of her deceased husband, after she remarries. If she lives a pious life, she may enjoy it. No woman with a son or sons shall after remarriage be at liberty to make free use of her property; for that property of hers, her sons shall receive.

All along it talks about the property originally that of the guy or the guy's father, but given to the girl or the girl's parents during marriage... and about the girls right to her husband's property....
not the other way around !!

The whole chapter ends with - If a husband either is of bad character, or is long gone abroad, or has become a traitor to his king, or is likely to endanger the life of his wife, or has fallen from his status, or has lost virility, he may be abandoned by his wife.

Traitor to the King... or Nation in this case.. God, atleast half the politicians should have been divorced by their wives now as per Arthashaastra standards !!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

what is common to these ?

I got these in email... looks like they were all taken from some website - whichever that website is, acknowledgements are due ...