Saturday, September 26, 2015

Insect with gears in its legs!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rajiv Malhotra v Zakir Naik - a video

Per Zakir Naik, one may eat whatever Allah has permitted. Per Rajiv Malhotra, one must choose that which minimizes harm. Watch!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tufail Ahmad on "the Amartya Sen model of semi-literacy"

In an article so clear that I don't have to explain it, MEMRI's Tufail Ahmad takes on Saba Naqvi, but it could really be any of a huge number of Indian journalists and writers:
In India, a generation of journalists have been trained in the Amartya Sen Model of Intellectual Semi-literacy, which loves to amplify an isolated statement of a fringe extremist Hindu into a national conversation while hard-core Islamists like Raza Academy that threaten the nation’s rule of law are declared non-entities.
Someone said that ignorance is bliss, but pretending to be ignorant can be murderous. There are three possibilities of Saba Naqvi’s line of argument. One, she is genuinely not reading the country’s newspapers. Two, honesty is no longer a creed of Indian journalism.Three, liberalism prevents her from seeing realities on the ground.
This second reminds me of Sarah Haider's speech.


...Journalists must annihilate extremist Muslim leaders with the same intellectual ease with which they butcher the “extremist” Hindus.

However, the Amartya Sen Model of Intellectual Semi-literacy requires that its members speak, rightly, from rooftops when a fringe extremist Hindu issues a statement, but support the Islamists like Raza Academy in numerous ways: by avoiding a direct comment, by ignoring them altogether, by paying lip service, by presenting them as non-entities, by going into lengthy discussions of how these groups are small and irrelevant, or to put it simply, by tolerating the mainstreaming of the so-called fringe Islamists.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The origins of the Syrian tragedy?

Allegations are made, I guess historians will have to figure out how valid they are:

1. Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame claims that the US government planned to overthrow the Syrian regime as far back as 2006.

2. French ex-foreign Minister Roland Dumas
The war in Syria was planned years in advance, and the motive was to overthrow a regime that Israel regards as hostile, says former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas. "I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria," said Dumas in a recent interview with French television LCP. "This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and organized ..." Responding to a question on the motive behind the war, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives, Dumas said, "Very simple! With the very simple aim! To overthrow the Syrian government, because in the region, it's important to understand, that this Syrian regime has a very anti-Israeli stance. Consequently, everything that moves in the region -- and I have this from the former Israeli prime minister, who told me 'We'll try to get on with our neighboring states, but those who don't get along, we will take them down'."
As an aside, you have to understand why countries as diverse politically as China and India are cracking down on foreign-funded NGOs.  Remember this from turcopolier?

Imperialist habits die hard.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

India - the world's biggest carbon creditor!

Concordia University {Montreal, Canada} researcher Damon Matthews thinks that India holds the world's biggest carbon credit!

Montreal, September 8, 2015 — All countries have contributed to recent climate change, but some much more so than others. Those that have contributed more than their fair share have accumulated a climate debt, owed to countries that have contributed less to historical warming.

This is the implication of a new study published in Nature Climate Change, in which Concordia University researcher Damon Matthews shows how national carbon and climate debts could be used to decide who should pay for the global costs of climate mitigation and damages.

The countries that have accumulated the largest carbon debts on account of higher than average per-capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are the United States, Russia, Japan, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The U.S. alone carries 40 per cent of the cumulative world debt, while Canada carries about four per cent. On the other side, the carbon creditors — those whose share of CO2 emissions has been smaller than their share of world population — are India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Brazil and China, with India holding 30 per cent of the total world credit. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

C. Christine Fair on the Lashkar-e-Taiba

Georgetown Prof. C. Christine Fair has an outline of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in India Today.  She also has a stark warning:

While Indians are likely correct to anticipate that the next attack on India may well come from the LeT; I encourage Indians to also remember the Jaish-e-Mohammad which launched the attack on India's parliament in December 2000. JeM had been dormant for years in part because their cadres had defected to the Pakistani Taliban. In recent years, the Pakistan army and ISI have resuscitated JeM in hopes of luring some of the previous cadres back into the fold with the lure of killing Indians. JeM, it should be recalled, conducted its first attack-a suicide bombing in 2000-in Kashmir. JeM, unlike LeT, has long had ties to al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, once the world leaders in murderous brutality, and JeM's operatives have been working with the Pakistani Taliban whose attacks have been nearly as savage as that of IS. Indians would be wise to keep on eye on JeM in addition to LeT. The Pakistan army and the ISI needs both of these groups if its twin goals of pacifying Pakistan and setting India on fire are to be advanced.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tarek Fateh talks: Islamic State, Islam, India & Pakistan

Very rarely are harsh truths delivered in such good humor.

His "Pakistan was formed because Tagore won the Nobel Prize and Iqbal was pissed off" almost felled me from my chair.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Arvind Subramaniam: Global response to falling fossil fuel prices

In a larger article on India's policies on climate change, this stuck out -- no wonder the Indian Government has cracked down on Greenpeace!

The cause of climate change has suffered a setback recently because of the large (about 35-40 per cent) decline in international energy prices. But that setback need not have occurred had governments taken offsetting actions to impose taxes on petroleum products. How have the major governments fared on this score? The chart highlights a striking difference between the responses of advanced countries and those of India. The former have reduced taxes while India has increased them substantially. Essentially, advanced countries have stood by passively, passing on the benefits of price reductions to consumers and producers.

One surprise is the lack of outrage by international greens at this non-action on the part of advanced countries.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

More on India's position on climate change

 This is from a July article:

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked his diplomats to “shed old mindsets” and said India must take the lead in countering the challenge of climate change. Some three months later, India’s Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian gave a glimpse of India’s strategy for Paris and signaled a confident approach. It is interesting, therefore, to consider what kind of role India, a key player, is likely to have during the negotiations in Paris.

With a business-friendly government, India today is looking to begin writing an economic growth story that will enable it to lift millions of its citizens out of poverty. Achieving this aspiration will require high and sustained economic growth that is buttressed by a sound strategy for energy security. Unlike China or the East Asian Tigers, though, India will have to pursue economic development alongside significant commitments toward climate change action. But herein lies an opportunity, to choose a path of development that unlike the Chinese approach doesn’t have to be environmentally painful. India can save its population from the harmful effects of the unchecked exploitation of energy resources such as coal. Moreover, as India is home to some of the most vulnerable areas and people when it comes to climate change impacts, policies need not be seen as obligations alone, but as voluntary actions that will help save its people and environment.

In an article published by the Indian Express in May this year, Arvind Subramanian gave a backgrounder to India’s approach in Paris. He explained that the setback to climate change action that came in the form of a large decline in international energy prices could have been dealt with in a much better way had governments taken offsetting actions to impose taxes on petroleum products. India has done well on this front: It increased taxes while advanced countries preferred to pass on the benefits of price reductions to consumers and producers. Subramanian noted that India has taken a number of positive actions to combat climate change, which include increasing the excise duty on petrol and diesel, quadrupling the coal cess from Rs.50 per ton to Rs.200 per ton, and unveiling Modi’s ambitious plan to ramp up the production of solar energy from 20 Gigawatts currently to 100 GW by 2022.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Aravind Panagariya: India's Stance on Climate Change

Part of a larger interview:

What is your view on whether India should give up on insisting that rich countries should pay for climate change mitigation or instead share some of the burden? If it is ok to ask for reparations for past colonial crimes, surely paying for past carbon sins is also ok? What would be your advice for India’s stance in Paris?

Let me first mention our contribution to cutting carbon emissions: we heavily tax petrol, diesel and coal; we have successfully expanded our forest cover and continue to do so despite land shortage; we have invested heavily in public transportation; and we are committed to an ambitious renewable energy programme. Add to this the fact that our lifestyle is far less energy-intensive than most other countries.

The next point is that we have made these efforts notwithstanding the fact that we are a low fourth emitter in terms of total emissions. On the basis of 2012 data, our carbon emissions are just one-fifth of the largest emitter, China, and one-third of the second-largest emitter, the U.S. In per-capita terms, our emissions are tiny and we do not even appear on the top one hundred list.

Coming to your main question, morally and intellectually, there is something very wrong with the argument that developed countries, which have been historically the largest emitters, should not only be exempt from having to pay for the past damage but also be rewarded for it by being allowed a larger share of the carbon space instead of having to share it equally with the rest of the humanity.

Quite apart from the moral case, there is ample legal precedence within the United States domestic laws for compensation for the damage caused by past actions even when the connection between the actions and the damage was not known at the time the actions were taken, as illustrated by the United States Superfund Act of 1980.

So, in my personal view, while we must make every possible contribution to the greening of the planet, especially when these contributions are also consistent with our national objectives, there is no reason to shy away from seeking greater carbon space to facilitate our growth and development or from seeking redress for the past damage in the form of finance for, say, adaptation, mitigation and access to patented green technologies.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Robin Bradley Kar on Proto-Indo-European

Robin Bradley Kar's paper "On the Proto-Indo-European Language of the Indus Valley Civilization (and Its Implications for Western Prehistory" is available here.

Since I haven't found a lot of citations of this paper, it either has not drawn any attention, or it is so far out of the mainstream that it is not worthy of comment.  But there are some interesting ideas there, in my opinion, and these ideas of Kar I mention below.