Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The BJP election manifesto for Uttar Pradesh

The new BJP chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, is a polarizing figure, with many inflammatory statements directed at Muslims in his account.  He has had various charges to face including attempted murder, and rioting. He is also a 5-time member of Parliament. It is true that to survive in Uttar Pradesh politics, which over the past forty years has become utterly lawless, one has to be something of a thug, and many politicians there have a similar record. The BJP promises to start to  change all that.  It remains to be seen whether with the reins of power in his hands, Yogi Adityanath can indeed be the Chief Minister of all people without partiality to caste or religion.  If you want to worry, there are plenty of good reasons to worry.

Uttar Pradesh is a huge electoral prize, and success in improving the situation there could secure Prime Minister Modi his second term in office in the 2019 elections.  But more relevant to me than the fate of specific politicians is the fate of India's 1.3 billion people, of which Uttar Pradesh holds 200 million. 

If Uttar Pradesh improves its development performance India can really soar. If Uttar Pradesh continues on its current trajectory, the PM Modi development project for India will likely take a big hit; and so will the Prime Minister's political standing; and since PM Modi campaigned on development rather than dynasty, religion or caste, other Indian politicians will learn a very wrong lesson. 

The BJP campaign in Uttar Pradesh was largely about development, but there were enough "dog whistles" that it wasn't completely so.  The situation that the BJP finds itself in now is nicely depicted  by cartoonist Manoj Kureel: on a tight-rope, balancing development and Hindutva, while their political opponents and media personalities feel the burn and fume.

Anyway, in case you wanted to know, here's a rough translation of the BJP manifesto for the UP 2017 elections.  The main list is numbered because folks want to keep track of whether the promises of the manifesto are kept.  Do note that the 32 page document is a five year program for a state of 200 million, one of the poorest states in India.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Irish and the Indians

Today, on a day of significance to the Irish, St. Patrick's Day, it is worth remembering:
On 26 January 1950, Éamon de Valera was asked to be guest of honour at a reception in Birmingham to celebrate the declaration of India as a republic. At first glance it seemed an unusual choice. The organisers were asked why they had not chosen a fellow Indian. Their response was unequivocal:
‘We and the Irish had strong ties of friendship. We suffered under the same tyranny for many centuries. They had the Black and Tans; we had the massacre of Amritsar. They had de Valera and Casement and MacSwiney; we had Gandhi and Nehru and Bose. They had Sinn Féin; we had our National Congress. They had the IRA; we had the INA. It is not only for the smile and the shamrock we know Ireland. It is for the toughness of their leaders and for the rebellion in their hearts.’
Subhas Chandra Bose noted in February 1943:
Of all the independence movements we Indians have studied closely and from which we have received inspiration, there is perhaps none that can equal the Irish struggle for independence....The debt of gratitude which India's patriots owe to Irish heroes for the inspiration they have received will be difficult to repay.  In fact, it would not be the slightest exaggeration to say that among the fighters against alien imperialism, whom I have known personally, there are perhaps none whose friendship I cherish more than that of those brave men and women who have uncompromisingly stood and fought for the Irish Republic.
It goes beyond this "united against the common oppressor".  In the great Bengal Famine of 1943, when Churchill callously let the Indians he hated so much to starve,  it was Ireland (along with nationalist China, whose remnants are now in Taiwan) that shipped food aid to India.  Jawaharlal Nehru noted in his The Discovery of India,
“The governments of China and Eire (Ireland), poor in their own resources, full of their own difficulties, yet having had bitter experience themselves of famine and misery and sensing what ailed the body and spirit of India, gave generous help (during the Bengal famine of 1943-44). India has a long memory, but whatever else she remembers or forgets, she will not forget these gracious and friendly acts."
A lady in the checkout line, all decked out in St. Patrick paraphernalia saw my green shirt and remarked "So you're Irish today!".     Yes, for one day at least.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

India: Total Fertility Rate

A United Nations document "World Population Prospects - The 2006 Revision" (PDF file) has India's total fertility rate (TFR, number of children per woman, projected, "medium variant")

2005-2010: 2.81
2010-2015: 2.54
2015-2020: 2.32

The "World Population Prospects, 2015 revision"  has revised these to:

2005-2010: 2.80
2010-2015: 2.48
2015-2020: 2.34

The Indian National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has these total fertility rate figures.

NFHS-3 (2005-2006): 2.7
NFHS-4 (2015-2016): 2.2

As you can see, NFHS-3 is right in the middle of the UN figures; but NFHS-4 shows TFR has fallen faster than the medium-variant projection.

Per the 2005 UN document, India's 2050 population ("medium variant") was projected to be 1.658 billion,  per the 2015 document 1.705 billion.

In the "low variant" of UN's 2015 population projection, India's TFR 2015-2020 is 2.09, and  its population in 2050 is projected to be 1.509 billion.

Thus the "low variant" population projection is still a viable lower bound for India's population;  the "medium variant" is an upper bound that can be tightened substantially, I think.

But we also see that projections just ten years out can be wrong, so perhaps more useful is what India's 2021 census will show.  The low variant is 1.387 billion; the medium variant is 1.404 billion.  The difference is about a Netherlands' worth of population.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Some power stuff

1. What is a peaker plant?

Wiki tells us:
Peaking power plants, also known as peaker plants, and occasionally just "peakers," are power plants that generally run only when there is a high demand, known as peak demand, for electricity. Because they supply power only occasionally, the power supplied commands a much higher price per kilowatt hour than base load power. Peak load power plants are dispatched in combination with base load power plants, which supply a dependable and consistent amount of electricity, meeting the minimum demand.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Autism breakthrough?

Studies: Autism risk linked to herpes infection during early pregnancy
NEW YORK - Scientists from Colombia University and the Norwegian Institute of Public Heath have discovered that women actively infected with genital herpes during early pregnancy was twice as likely to have a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) later on in life.
About one in five American women has HSV-2, also known as genital herpes. HSV-2 is a highly contagious and lifelong infection, usually spread through sex.
More here:
The finding mirrors earlier epidemiological data indicating that activation of the maternal immune system during early-to-mid-pregnancy is associated with long-term developmental and behavioral problems in offspring.
However, of these pathogens examined : Toxoplasma gondii, rubella virus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex viruses type 1 and 2, only herpes simplex virus type 2 was implicated.

“The cause or causes of most cases of autism are unknown,” says senior author W. Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity and the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School. “But evidence suggests a role for both genetic and environmental factors. Our work suggests that inflammation and immune activation may contribute to risk. Herpes simplex virus 2 could be one of any number of infectious agents involved.”

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Cixin Liu : Death's End

The third book in Cixin Liu's science-fiction trilogy that began with The Three Body Problem and The Dark Forest, does not disappoint.  Don't read any reviews, just read the book.  If you insist on a review, here is one, from which I quote: "If you thought The Three-Body Problem and The Dark Forest were expansive, they're nothing compared to Death's End."

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Confirmation Bias?

There are a number of stories about how UnPresident Trump operates:

Caroline Mortimer reports in the Independent,  that Defence Secretary General James Mattis and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, convinced Trump to go along with an anti-terrorist raid in Yemen that turned out poorly, by suggesting that Obama would never have been so bold as to actually go through with it (the conception of the operation lies in the Obama era).

S.V. Date and Christina Wilkie report in the Huffington Post that Trump called his National Security Adviser retd. Lt. General Mike Flynn at 3 A.M. in the morning to ask him whether it was a strong dollar or a weak dollar that would be good for the US economy.

Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman report in the New York Times that Trump was angered that he "was not fully briefed on the details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist {Steve Bannon} a seat on the National Security Council".

There are more examples, but these should suffice.  All of these stories are from unnamed sources (which is why I've taken care to mention the reporters' names), they fit in with how we imagine Trump to be (e.g., based on the content and timing of his tweets) but are they true?