Thursday, December 31, 2015

It takes 26 hours for the entire globe to enter the New Year!

Based on New York City time, the New Year on the globe begins at 5:00 AM on December 31st, Samoa & Christmas Island, Kiribati.  The entire globe has entered the New Year by 7:00 AM on January 1st, the last entrants being "Much of US Minor Outlying Islands - Baker Island, Howland Island".  That is 26 hours, not 24!

This time zone map (courtesy Wiki) makes it clear why.  Notice the funny shape of the international date line.  Yes, Kiribati lies within the hammerhead, and is +14 hours ahead of UTC (GMT), while Howland Island and Baker Island are at the handle of the hammer and are 12 hours behind UTC.

 This detail from another map from Wiki might help:

Sunday, December 27, 2015

India's carbon future: the design of buildings

This article by Charu Bahri, of outlines how India can save a lot on the energy consumed within its buildings by good building design practice.

Some quotes:

In 1971, residential and commercial buildings accounted for 15% of all the electricity consumed in India. By 2005, that share had doubled, and it has stayed at about 30% since.
...In absolute terms, however, the electricity consumed by buildings is rising, and is poised to rise 700% over 2005 levels by 2050, says a study by Rajan Rawal, executive director of the Centre for Advanced Research in Building Science and Energy, CEPT University, Ahmedabad.
...Unless energy use is curbed, domestic consumption of electricity in India is projected to grow 800% between 2005 and 2050, according to Rawal’s research.
...Enforcing the Energy Conservation Building Code, an energy-saving code designed for commercial establishments, in residential buildings, could reduce residential energy consumption up to 57% and curtail rise in consumption to 300% over 2005 levels, over the same period, said Rawal.   “It would also make buildings so much more comfortable to live in,” he said.
....With more than half of commercial building stock needed by 2030 yet to be constructed, the country has a huge opportunity to get its act right and construct better. In recent decades, India seems to have been doing the opposite.
Prior to 2008, Infosys, India’s second-largest IT company, developed some of the country’s most iconic glass buildings. Then, something changed.
...So far, Infosys has cut per capita electricity consumption by 46% from 2008 levels. Despite doubling employee numbers from 2008, its energy needs have grown only 13%.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Binge watching mathematics

If you are into binge-watching, and are of a certain bent of mind,  I recommend Professor Alexander Stepanov's Four Algorithmic Journeys (actually only 3 were made).  Be sure to go in order.

1. Spoils of the Egyptians
2. Heirs of Pythagoras
3. Successors of Peano
4. Epilogue

The collection of Stepanov's books, papers, class notes, and source code, covering generic programming and other topics.

In these talks, Stepanov traces the history of some simple, foundational mathematical ideas and their value in computer science.   In the process he also demonstrates that the love of mathematics for its own sake is good for the soul.

Friday, December 18, 2015

High Speed Rail and India's Carbon Future

The news has been full of the India-Japan announcement of the first high speed rail (HSR) project in India.  It will be built to run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad (Wiki information here).  While Japan has offered extremely low cost financing, the overall project cost (of the order of 10^12 Indian rupees) has raised a lot of concern about the viability of the project, whether it is the right investment to make, etc., etc.  You can do a news search and look that up.

There is one aspect which I haven't seen discussed very much, and that India's future transportation needs weighed against need to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

At this point, I pause to say, I wish I had command of a thousand mes, to do some serious research in this and so many other areas.  Instead what you get is from a couple of hours of Google search research, with very little validation on my part that the ideas and numbers make sense. Since major economic and political interests are involved, validation is certainly required.

It seems that a good way to think about the demand for transportation is "GDP-transport elasticity". E.g.
The Indian economy has a GDP-transport elasticity of 1.25 (For every one per cent growth in GDP, transport sector has to grow by 1.25 per cent). 
For comparison, Europe:
• For passenger transport, the GDP elasticity is equal to 0.65 on average for the period 2005 to 2030.

• For freight transport, the GDP elasticity of activity is projected to decrease gradually, first down to 0.92 in 2005-2010, and then further down to 0.72 between 2010 and 2030. 
It would make sense then, to seek "GDP-transport elasticity" for passenger and freight traffic and for rail, road, air transport separately.   Since HSR is passenger-centric, I'll seek numbers for passenger traffic only, to limit the length of this post.

This 2013 Indian Planning Commission Report has some figures and estimates, below the fold:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

No, India Was Not The Villain Of The Paris Summit

Ruchir Ferrero Sharma in Swarajya Magazine:

The New York Times
Over the last few weeks, editorials across the Western media have abounded with articles about how India was holding the world hostage at the Paris Summit. These included headlines such as “Narendra Modi Could Make or Break Obama’s Climate Legacy” in the New York Times and “China Won’t Block Global Climate Deal In Paris, But India Might” in Forbes. The latter in particular being outstanding for having no basis at all in fact, amazingly not even including the word “India” once in the actual article, but using the title to take a cheap shot at the country.
The story behind the scenes is that the Indian government, on its own accord, launched its own ambitious green energy target in 2013, which was then upgraded 5-fold by the new Modi government in 2015.


....we see an even more egregious example of crass propaganda in Rupert Murdoch’s mouthpiece, The Australian.

The Australian

A part of the News Corp media empire has consistently supported the backward-looking Australian government and coal lobby in pushing coal as the only solution for desperate poverty. It is no surprise that with a tasteless piece such as this, they can hit three of their favourite right-wing bullseyes at once – discrediting solar power, disparaging international development aid, and mocking the poor for their poverty.

One feels the need to point out that it is not as if the Indian poor can eat Australian coal, as much as the benevolent coal industry representatives would have us believe, in order to push through their planned destruction of the Great Barrier Reef for the sake of the poor starving masses.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

IBM's predictions from December 2010

IBM's predictions for today from five years ago:

ARMONK, NY     - 27 Dec 2010: Today IBM (NYSE: IBM) formally unveiled the fifth annual "Next Five in Five" – a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years:
• You'll beam up your friends in 3-D
• Batteries will breathe air to power our devices
• You won’t need to be a scientist to save the planet
• Your commute will be personalized
• Computers will help energize your city

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Paris Climate Deal

Getting all the countries in the world to agree to something like the Paris Climate Accord is quite remarkable a feat.  Part of the reason there are no legally binding actions in the accord is because they would never get past the US Republican-controlled Senate; and not having the second-largest emitter of CO2 be on board the accord would be a major failure.

All of the Republican POTUS candidates spit on the accord.  Americans who complain about the accord not being enough need first to tackle the opposition at home instead of pointing fingers at China and India.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Mystery of ISIS

"The Mystery of ISIS" in the New York Review of Books - a must-read.
I have often been tempted to argue that we simply need more and better information. But that is to underestimate the alien and bewildering nature of this phenomenon. To take only one example, five years ago not even the most austere Salafi theorists advocated the reintroduction of slavery; but ISIS has in fact imposed it. Nothing since the triumph of the Vandals in Roman North Africa has seemed so sudden, incomprehensible, and difficult to reverse as the rise of ISIS
We hide this {our lack of understanding of ISIS} from ourselves with theories and concepts that do not bear deep examination. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Terrorism: Indian vs. European response

In this very important essay by Balu's school of thought, begins with the observation that the attacks on Mumbai in November 2008 (26/11) and the recent attack on Paris are very similar in dimension.
However, despite all similarities, the Paris attacks took on a dimension that did not and does not exist in reactions to the Mumbai attack. While India and the rest of the world were horrified by the violence and terror caused by these criminals, the self-description of the terrorists – as avengers for the repressed Muslims of India, particularly in Kashmir – was hardly discussed, let alone accepted. There was no talk of a ‘War of Civilizations’, except by the American press. Barring a few exceptions, no columnist or commentator, no eyewitness, Mumbaikar or otherwise, described 26/11 as an attack on something integral and abstract. There are hardly any descriptions to be found of 26/11 as an attack on Indian values, or as an assault on the Indian way of life – not in 2008, and not in the seven years since. 
On the other hand, the Paris attack is described as exactly that: an assault on European values, on the ‘universal values’ Europe has given to humankind, on the European way of life, and on the freedom that Europe embodies.

At the outset, I should note that the terrorists did not "self-describe" in the Mumbai case.  A previously unknown group, the "Deccan Mujahideen" falsely claimed credit for the attack.  Otherwise there was dead silence.  It was only some months later (July 2009, more than 6 months later) that Pakistan admitted that the Lashkar-e-Taiba had committed the act. In contrast, ISIS released this statement after the Paris attack.

Nevertheless, the article makes a serious point, comparing the Indian and European responses to very similar attacks.

Relevant quotes from then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's address to the nation after 26/11 that characterize the attack on India are:
"We are not prepared to countenance a situation in which the safety and security of our citizens can be violated with impunity by terrorists."

"We will take up strongly with our neighbours that the use of their territory for launching attacks on us will not be tolerated, and that there would be a cost if suitable measures are not taken by them."

"We will go after these individuals and organizations and make sure that every perpetrator, organizer and supporter of terror, whatever his affiliation or religion may be, pays a heavy price for these cowardly and horrific acts against our people."
The Indian response is about the safety and security of Indian citizens.

The then-President of India, Pratibha Patil, was in Vietnam, at the time, her statement about Mumbai  is sandwiched in between diplomatese with Vietnam.
I condemn in the strongest form the terrorist attacks Mumbai. This mindless attack is the work of those who have no regard for human lives, and are pursuing a path of destruction. My heartfelt condolences to those who have been affected by this act of terror.
The closest statements of the kind that put some abstract value at stake, were, e.g., like that from Sonia Gandhi,
We shall not allow such incidents to deter our firm resolve to combat terror in all its manifestations....India's one billion people have the strength and courage to defend themselves against the assault on its unity and secular fabric...
The contrast:

France's President Francoise Hollande to a joint session of Parliament: (emphasis added):
France is at war. The acts committed in Paris and near the Stade de France on Friday evening are acts of war. They left at least 129 dead and many injured. They are an act of aggression against our country, against its values, against its young people, and against its way of life.

They were carried out by a jihadist army, by Daesh, which is fighting us because France is a country of freedom, because we are the birthplace of human rights. 

At this exceptionally solemn moment, I wanted to address a joint session of Parliament to demonstrate our national unity in the face of such an abomination and to respond with the cool determination that this vile attack against our country calls for.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also described the Paris incident as an attack on liberty and on European values. The statement in German is here.

US President Obama:
...This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.....Paris itself represents the timeless values of human progress. Those who think that they can terrorize the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong. The American people draw strength from the French people’s commitment to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.  We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberté and égalité and fraternité are not only values that the French people care so deeply about, but they are values that we share.  And those values are going to endure far beyond any act of terrorism or the hateful vision of those who perpetrated the crimes this evening.
British Prime Minister David Cameron:
These were innocent victims enjoying a Friday night out with friends and family, no doubt at the end of a hard week. They were not seeking to harm anyone. They were simply going about their way of life – our way of life.

And they were killed and injured by brutal, callous murderers who want to destroy everything our two countries stand for. Peace. Tolerance. Liberty.
....The terrorist aim is clear. It is to divide us and to destroy our way of life.
Even the King of the Netherlands
...Together with France, we will continue to steadfastly defend freedom against those who use terror to try and undermine it. We will never give up our values of freedom and solidarity....
(The Queen of England only issued sympathy and condolences, as far as I can tell.)

The thrust of the essay is that the Indian response is different and possibly superior to the European response.  It is argued that the European/American response concedes to ISIS the status of representing an alien civilization, instead of being just a bunch of criminals with a criminal ideology; and thus sets the stage for a conflict much wider than it needs to be.

Go to the essay: Paris, Mumbai and the Terrorist 'Assault on Freedom'.

Thursday, December 03, 2015


From this article on the Paris conference on climate change, and how India supposedly holds the fate the negotiations in its hands:
Chennai, a city of 4.4 million, received 34 times its normal rainfall on Wednesday alone—so disruptive that its daily newspaper was not published for the first time since 1878 because its staff could not reach the press. The rains are expected to continue throughout early December. India’s chief meteorologist has said the recent extreme weather events “fit the larger picture of climate change.”
Dunno about 34 times;  the facts are: 
During the month of November, the city recorded a whopping 1218.6 mm of rain, which is three times its monthly rainfall. The normal rainfall figures for November stand at 407.4 mm. However, this was not it, December began on a rainy note as well.

On December 1, in just a span of 12 hours, Chennai has received a record breaking 272 mm of rainfall. The city’s normal rainfall for December stands at 191 mm. Not only this, Chennai has also broken over a 100-year-old 24 hour rainfall record.

Previously, on December 10, 1901, Chennai had recorded 261.6 mm rainfall in a span of 24 hours. Chennai has also broken monthly rainfall record of December 1910.
Updated on December 2, 2015 at 08:00 AM: Chennai rains seem to be never ending. The city has received torrential rainfall on the first day of December itself. As per the data available with Skymet, Chennai has recorded 374 mm of rainfall in a span of 24 hours from 5:30 am on Tuesday {December 1}.

and so on.

Carbon dioxide equivalents


Some interesting numbers:
  • Electricity sources emit 1.222lbs CO2 per kWh (0.0005925 metric tons CO2 per kWh)
  • 0.005 metric tonnes of CO2 per 1 therm of natural gas
  • There are 10.15 kg of CO2 per gallon of home heating oil.
  • Unleaded gasoline emits 8.91 kg of CO2 per gallon.
  • CO2 emissions in air travel vary by length of flight, ranging from 0.277 kg CO2 per passenger mile to 0.185 kg CO2 per passenger mile, depending on the flight distance (long haul flights have the lower emissions per passenger mile).
  • On average, commuter rail emits 0.172 kgs CO2 per passenger mile and subway trains emit 0.163 kgs CO2 per passenger mile, and long distance trains (i.e., intercity rail) emit 0.185 kgs CO2 per passenger mile. For rail trips under 20 miles, we calculate your emissions at 0.172 kgs CO2 per passenger mile, and over 20 miles we calculate at 0.185 kgs CO2 per passenger mile.
  • On average, bus trips emit 0.107 kgs CO2 per passenger mile. Road and transportation conditions vary in real life beyond what can be estimated.
  • Emissions associated with a one night stay in a hotel room are calculated at 16.8 kg CO2 per room day for an average hotel (budget through mid-scale). For upscale hotels, that include restaurants, meal service and meeting space, emissions are calculated at 33.38 kg CO2 per room day.
  • The average person's diet contributes 2,545 kilograms CO2e to the atmosphere each year. By dividing by 365, it is deduced that the average person's diet contributes, on average, 7 kg CO2e a day from their meals. This calculation is based on an average US, non-vegetarian diet. The emissions for food preparation are not included in this calculation.

  • Air cargo – 1.527 kg CO2 per Ton-Mile
  • Truck– 0.297 kg CO2 per Ton-Mile
  • Train – 0.0252 kg CO2 per Ton-Mile
  • Sea freight –0.048 kg CO2 per Ton-Mile

Conversion factors:

1 Renewable Energy Certificate = 1 Megawatt Hour (MWh) = 1,000 Kilowatt Hours (KWh)
1 Kilowatt Hour = 3,413 British Thermal Units (BTUs)
1 Metric Tonne = 2,204.6 Pounds
1 Pound = 0.00045 Metric Tons
1 Short Ton = 2,000 Pounds
1 Short Ton = 0.90719 Metric Tons
1 Therm = 100 Cubic Feet
1 CCF = Abbreviation for 100 Cubic Feet
1 CCF = 1.024 Therms

Reduce your individual carbon footprint:

Firearm Mortality, USA

USA: Deaths from firearms injuries - Percentage that were homicides - derived # of homicides

1997 - 32,436 - 41.7% - 13,526 [1]
1998 - 30,708 - 39.4% - 12,099 [2]
1999 - 28,874 - 37.5% - 10,828 [3]
2000 - 28,663 - 37.7% - 10,806 [4]
2001 - 29,573 - 38.4% - 11,356 [5]
2002 - 30,242 - 39.1% - 11,825 [6]
2003 - 30,136 - 39.6% - 11,934 [7]
2004 - 29,569 - 39.3% - 11,621 [8]
2005 - 30,694 - 40.2% - 12,339 [9]
2006 - 30,896 - 41.4% - 12,791 [10]
2007 - 31,224 - 40.5% - 12,646 [11]
2008 - 31,593 - 38.5% - 12,163 [12]
2009 - 31,347 - 36.7% - 11,504 [13]
2010 - 31,672 - 35.0% - 11,805 [14]
2011 - 32,351 - 34.2% - 11,064 [15]
2012 - 33,563 - 34.6% - 11,613 [16]
2013 - forthcoming

Each of the reports below is titled "Deaths: Final Data for YYYY" (YYYY = year)
The main page is here:
[1] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 47, Number 19
[2] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 48, Number 11
[3] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 49, Number 8
[4] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 50, Number 15 
[5] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 53, Number 3 
[6] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 53, Number 5
[7] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 54, Number 13
[8] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 55, Number 19 
[9] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 56, Number 10 
[10] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 57, Number 14
[11] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 58, Number 19 
[12] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 59, Number 10 
[13] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 60, Number 3
[14] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 61, Number 4 
[15] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 63, Number 3 
[16] CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 63, Number 9 


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

What the NYT editorial board heard Modi say, and what Modi actually said

NYTimes Editorial: What Narendra Modi can do in Paris

What Modi said in Paris (full text):

What the NYT Editorial board heard Modi say:
Speaking in Paris on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed “the prosperity and progress of an industrial age powered by fossil fuel” for the climate change crisis, and noted that “we in India face its consequences today.”
What Modi said:
Over the next few days, we will decide the fate of this planet. We do so when the consequences of the industrial age powered by fossil fuel are evident, especially on the lives of the poor.

The prosperous still have a strong carbon footprint. And, the world's billions at the bottom of the development ladder are seeking space to grow.
a. What else other than the industrial age powered by fossil fuel is responsible for the increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

b. India doesn't have a billion poor; Modi here is talking about all the world's poor, not just "we in India".

What the NYT Editorial board heard:
In framing the Paris climate talks in terms of historical responsibility, India could be setting itself up for playing the role of the spoiler for a climate change agreement that, for all its shortcomings, does something important: acknowledge a collective responsibility among nations to avert a global catastrophe.

What Modi said (some emphasis added):
Democratic India must grow rapidly to meet the aspirations of 1.25 billion people, 300 million of whom are without access to energy.
We are determined to do so, guided by our ancient belief that people and planet are inseparable; that human well being and Nature are indivisible.

So, we have set ambitious targets. By 2030, we will reduce emissions by 33 to 35% per cent of 2005 levels, and 40 per cent of our installed capacity will be from our non- fossil fuels.

We will achieve it by expanding renewable energy - for, example, by adding 175 Gigawatts of renewable generation by 2022. We will enlarge our forest cover to absorb at least 2.5 billion tonnes worth of carbon dioxide.

We are reducing dependence on fossil fuel through levies and reduction in subsidies; switching sources of fuel where possible; and, transforming cities and public transportation.

We hope advanced nations will assume ambitious targets and pursue them sincerely. It is not just a question of historical responsibility. They also have the most room to make the cuts and make the strongest impact.
And, climate justice demands that, with the little carbon space we still have, developing countries should have enough room to grow.
i.e., India accepts collective responsibility - human well-being is inseparable from Nature, and Nature does not respect national boundaries. India will try to alleviate the impact of its growth necessary to remove poverty with cleaner technology.  But just as robbers target banks because that is where the money is, carbon footprint cuts should go after where the largest carbon dioxide emissions are.  It is not just a question of historical responsibility, it is where one can make the quickest strong impact.  Stopping the future growth of developing countries (carbon dioxide not yet in the atmosphere, and not there for another 10 years or so) has less impact than cutting existing emissions of carbon dioxide.

PS: Four myths about climate change in South Asia


Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Casualty of the Tolerance Stampede

In India, there was a recent movement of intellectuals to return their awards to protest the supposed rising tide of intolerance.  (This movement seems to have receded after the Bihar elections were completed, but that is another matter.) This tolerance herd caused the withdrawal of Vikram Sampath from the Bengaluru Literary Festival that he co-founded, because he didn't join their stampede.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

India: The Rising Tide of Intolerance???

In the past four months, the country witnessed 300 incidents of communal violence, 75 every month, where 35 people were killed, according to Home Ministry data accessed by The Hindu. In the entire year till October, 630 incidents were reported and 86 persons lost their lives.

The data do not show any spike in incidents under the NDA government. In 2013, when the UPA was in power, 823 such incidents were reported and in 2014 the figure stood at 644, the NDA came to power on May 26, 2014.

Till June this year, 330 incidents of communal violence were reported and 51 people were killed in these incidents. As many as 1,899 people were injured in 2015.

The report said that in 2015, there were “no major communal incidents” but “two important communal incidents” took place — at Atali in Faridabad, Haryana (feud over construction of a place of worship) and Bisahda, Dadri, Uttar Pradesh (when 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaque was killed by a mob over rumours that beef was stored in his fridge).

The report said there were “disputes pertaining to religious issues including processions and over alleged objectionable portrayal of religion/religious symbol on social media; gender related issues; land and property disputes; political rivalry and miscellaneous issues like road rage, personal enmity and financial disputes.”

CPI MP D. Raja who was present at Standing Committee meeting, which was supposed to be addressed by Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, said “the Union Home Secretary did not find it important to come and address the MPs on an issue as important as communal violence. The meeting took place but the committee members were anguished at his absence. The Home Ministry also came up with a report where it said that no major incident took place in 2015.” A senior Home Ministry official said Mr. Mehrishi could not attend the meeting as he had to attend the Union Cabinet meeting.
The committee is headed by P. Bhattacharya (Cong.) and comprises 10 Rajya Sabha MPs and 21 Lok Sabha MPs.

The Home Ministry report also said the onus on containing such incidents lay primarily on the State governments which were responsible for maintaining law and order.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Hierarchy of Arguments

Friday, November 20, 2015

The rules at daily kos

Apparently, this item is "outside of site rules" of

PS: I learned of this article from this interview of Sarah Haider on The Rubin Report. ("The Regressive Left is our Tea Party.").

PPS: Shadi Hamid has an analytical take here:


"In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, Iraqi-born writer and human rights activist Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar posted a friend’s scathing satire on Facebook aimed directly at liberals who “shift blame inwardly on themselves, denying the terrorists even the satisfaction of claiming responsibility.”

“It must be incredibly frustrating as an Islamic terrorist not to have your views and motives taken seriously by the societies you terrorize, even after you have explicitly and repeatedly stated them,” the author began.

The author then launched into a mock Monty Python-type exchange between a “self-loathing” liberal and an Islamic terrorist about exactly who is responsible for Islamic acts of terror — and what the motivations are.

It began with the Islamic terrorist’s declaration that “we did this because our holy texts exhort us to …”

The liberal is having none of that: “No, you didn’t.”

And then things get really interesting:
“Wait, what? Yes we did…”
“No, this has nothing to do with religion. You guys are just using religion as a front for social and geopolitical reasons.”

“WHAT!? Did you even read our official statement? We give explicit Quranic justification. This is jihad, a holy crusade against pagans, blasphemers, and disbelievers.”

“No, this is definitely not a Muslim thing. You guys are not true Muslims, and you defame a great religion by saying so.”

“Huh!? Who are you to tell us we’re not true Muslims!? Islam is literally at the core of everything we do, and we have implemented the truest most literal and honest interpretation of its founding texts. It is our very reason for being.”

“Nope. We created you. We installed a social and economic system that alienates and disenfranchises you, and that’s why you did this. We’re sorry.”

“What? Why are you apologizing? We just slaughtered you mercilessly in the streets. We targeted unwitting civilians — disenfranchisement doesn’t even enter into it!”

“Listen, it’s our fault. We don’t blame you for feeling unwelcome and lashing out.”

“Seriously, stop taking credit for this! We worked really hard to pull this off, and we’re not going to let you take it away from us.”

“No, we nourished your extremism. We accept full blame.”

“OMG, how many people do we have to kill around here to finally get our message across?”
Since the Paris terror attacks, a Minnesota Democrat said “ISIS isn’t necessarily evil,” Hillary Clinton refused to use the term “radical Islam” and Bernie Sanders reiterated that climate change is our greatest threat at Saturday’s Democratic debate, an anti-gun group blamed the attacks on “gun violence” and liberal website Salon tweeted: “Real terror unfolds in Paris. Perhaps this will convince the right to done down their incessant violent rhetoric.”
The satire on Al-Mutar’s page has received nearly 20,000 likes since Sunday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On Niall Ferguson

Need to save this comment.

Empire Guy said...
I was once having a discussion with a friend and colleague (both of us do, or have done, academic work on empires) about Ferguson's "American Empire" stuff, and he pointed out that Ferguson's an interesting scholar. Why? Well, if you ask British imperial historians about his work, they'll say its rubbish but they hear his stuff on economic history is pretty good. When you ask economic historians about Ferguson's work in their area, they'll say its not so good but they've heard positive things about his World War I book. If you ask military historians about his World War I book, they dismiss it but mention that people seem to like his book on the Rothschilds. Not sure if all of these criticisms are right (his stuff on American Empire is rubbish, though), but I think it might capture an essential truth about Ferguson's ability to maintain his reputation despite mostly contributing shoddy arguments to the public sphere.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


A diary on dailykos has the bright idea "#CallThemDaesh". One of the reasons not to call ISIS ISIL or ISIS is because of the word "Islamic". " blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists".
Then, in the comments, when someone posts "we should bomb those animals", there is a conversation about how we should never forget that Daesh is made of human beings too.

My response (with minor corrections)

There is this thread down there in which they try to argue that we must never forget that Daesh is made up of humans.  But the whole “call them Daesh” movement is to make us forget that they are Islamic.  It is very hard to know what liberals want one to remember and what they want one to forget.

I’ll also note that Daily Kos liberals have no problem in calling the Indian RSS Hindu, instead of just using the name “RSS”.  They’re welcome to dislike the Indian Prime Minister Modi and his political party, the BJP; but would they show the same consideration in not terming them “Hindu” as they are trying to not term ISIS “Muslim” or “Islamic”?

For that matter, would they stop talking about the “Christian Right” in America? After all, they are not Christian, right, right?

Of course not, they’d never do so.  They’re Daily Kos Liberals, a mirror reflection of the brain-dead Tea Party.  Sunday morning we’re going to hear from Egberto Willies about whether liberals live in a bubble.  The answer is a resounding Yes!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Rangoli 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The meaning of "smart"

neuroguy on dailykos, in an article that argues that Dr. Ben Carson is not smart, gives this description of  smart that I want to preserve:

“Smart” is a multifaceted cognitive feature composed of excellent analytical skills, possession of an extensive knowledge base that is easily and frequently augmented, possession of a good memory, and being readily curious about the world and willing, even eager, to reject previously accepted notions in the face of new data. Being smart includes having the ability to analyze new data for validity and, thinking creatively, draw new insights from existing common knowledge.

Monday, November 09, 2015

November 10, 2015 - likely a big day for computer science

As R.J. Lipton narrates:

László Babai is one of the world experts on complexity theory, especially related to groups and graphs. He also recently won the 2015 ACM Knuth Prize, for which we congratulate him.
Today we wish to discuss a new result that he has announced that will place graph isomorphism almost in polynomial time.

More exactly László shows that Graph Isomorphism is in Quasipolynomial Time: that is time of the form

\displaystyle  2^{O(\log(n))^{c}},
for some constant {c}. Polynomial time is the case when {c=1}, but any {c} is a huge improvement over the previous best result.

Luca Trevisan already has made a post on this result, and Scott Aaronson likewise. Luca further promises to be in Chicago next Tuesday when László gives his talk on the result......

Friday, November 06, 2015

Ben Carson's pyramids

Prof. Paul Krugman has a post on his blog about Ben Carson's idea that the ancient Egyptian pyramids were built to store grain.

My couple of comments:
In this era, as a practical matter, no one can be elected to President of the United States without giving public allegiance to some of these ideas: that the Red Sea parted to let people through, that a virgin birth occurred, that a dead man was resurrected - none of these events comply with the laws of nature as we understand them.

Yet, only the idea that may violate engineering sense, architectural sense, even common sense, but NOT the laws of nature, that the pyramids might have been used for grain storage, is held up for criticism and ridicule.

That is the true absurdity.
Someone asked:
One day we'll elect a fundamentalist atheist to office. Will you be happy then?
My reply:
Well, when does a belief go from being religious, and so beyond most criticism, and into being absurd or superstitious?

Ms Sonia Faleiro, who writes columns for the New York Times, on twitter was ridiculing an Indian leader who believes that the ancients had high technology, since lost, and rediscovered only in modern times. I agree that such a belief is not supportable by any evidence, and is thus rendered absurd; but I wondered what the basis for ridiculing this religious belief was. I realized, the only reason was that it is not a Christian belief.
When I pointed out to Ms Faleiro: "Tho ancients having technology lost till modern times is a bit more rational than parting of Red Sea or man rising from dead", she promptly blocked me from following her tweets.

Why is Christian or Jewish superstition privileged over every other superstition? I have a much higher regard for Professor Krugman and want to alert him to the absurdity that he is participating in.
 You see, there is this touchstone (perhaps it is - is it mentioned in the Bible?) that makes an idea "religious" and so beyond scrutiny in a political campaign, or else something that deals with reality, and so it is supposed to be handled with normal logic, science and commonsense.   So, for example, that old Hindu stories mention flying machines and weapons that seem like nuclear weapons cannot be the basis for someone's religious belief that these things existed - it is not mentioned in the Bible, and so it must be deemed absurd.  Likewise with Ben Carson's theory about the pyramids. 

This is what "secularism" means in practice, whatever the pious words are about separation of Church and State and so on.  The underlying social contract in America is that certain beliefs are not to be held up to scrutiny.  The conflict with Islam is because Islam has a different set of beliefs that are not be held up to scrutiny, and there is no agreement on that.  Hindus are a dismissable minority in the US; and the secularization project proceeds apace in India, courtesy the Cambridge-Oxford set, the Marxists and the other Leftists, and the worldwide evangelist movements. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

De-Macaulayization - 9

Mani Shankar Aiyar is a politician of the Indian National Congress.  He is a bit in the news these days for hobnobbing with Pervez Musharraf, even just after Musharraf has admitted to sponsoring terrorism in IndiaJournalist Dhiren Bhagat, in his book "The Contemporary Conservative" (1990) claimed that in 1962, when India was in a war with China, Aiyar, then at Cambridge in the UK, and the secretary of the Cambridge unit of the Communist Party, collected funds for the Chinese soldiers.  Supposedly Aiyar's influential family intervened to not let this anti-national activity interfere with his career.  Aiyar is a Sonia Gandhi loyalist, and in 2000 got into a drunken altercation with a Samajwadi Party leader, Amar Singh, for his successful opposition to Sonia Gandhi becoming Prime Minister of India.

This above is relevant because that is where the disgusting Macaulayite attitude comes through.
Reproducing some of the interview here, and highlighting the relevant portion.

What was the provocation for the brawl at Satish Gujral's party?

In spite of being greatly provoked, I kept my cool for a very long time. The party was in honour of H.K. Dua, press advisor to the Prime Minister and a good friend of mine, who'd recently got married. Practically everybody who matters was there. Mani came up to me absolutely drunk and charged: `You are a racist. You prevented Sonia Gandhi from becoming the Prime Minister only because she's a foreigner.' I kept quiet.

Did you think it wasn't worth countering? Or was it because you did stall her premiership?

I did not prevent her from becoming the PM. It was the collective decision of Samajwadi Party MPs and MLAs under Mulayam Singh's leadership. As a spokesperson it was my duty to articulate the party's view.

Surely that wasn't provocation enough?

Mani didn't stop at that. He called me an opportunist, a political weather cock. I countered: I was with Mulayam and I'm still with him. It's you who, when denied a Congress seat, went over to Mamata and when she spurned you, you came back, calling her names. Mani shot back: `You are a broker of industrialists, you are Ambani's dog.' Without losing my shirt, I replied: Fine, as far as the Ambanis are concerned you people are virgins. Your party has not taken a single penny from them. As for proximity with industrialists the Congress has been in close touch with many of them. I told him: Yeh tu nahi, sharaab bol raha hai. To which Mani replied: `Mera dil aur dimaag bol raha hai'. Continuing in the same vein I said: Mote Mani Shankar, sharaab ke nashe mein dhhut tera sara shareer dol raha hai.

He was not offended?

He just wanted to provoke me, and when I didn't get provoked, he said, `What sort of a Thakur are you?' He just wanted to pick up a fight.

Why would he do that?

So that he could go back and tell Soniaji, I fixed Amar Singh, I'm the only one who could do it, and thus ensure a berth in the Congress Working Committee. I told Mani, I know your gameplan. I'm not going to help you get into Soniaji's charmed circle. To which he said, `You are under-estimating my clout with her, I write all her speeches. I did it for Rajiv.' Sure, how can anybody forget those infamous lines, `Mein VP Singh ki naani yaad karadoonga. God help the leader and the party which has a speech writer like you, I replied. He gave a maa ki gali. I said politely, but firmly, I can also abuse your mother, but I won't stoop so low. For god's sake don't provoke the beast in me.

But he did? 
He was irrepressible... He said, `We belong to the Oxford and Cambridge set... your leader can't even articulate himself in English... Oh that bloody Mulayam -- he looks just like me. It could be because my father visited UP at some point. Why don't you check with Mulayam's mother'. This was crossing all limits. I grabbed him by the neck and did what I had to do.

You beat him up?

I did much less than what he deserved.

You said that knowing his gameplan you refused to get provoked. Why did you get provoked?

Mulayam Singh is very close to my heart. He is my leader. I'm sorry about what I did. I don't think it was right.

So you regret what you did?
I don't. I'm human, I'm not an angel. I got provoked when he talked about my leader's mother in such a derogatory manner. As a member of civil society I'm ashamed.

Mani Shankar Aiyar also termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi a chaiwala (tea vendor) not deserving to be Prime Minister.   Whenever the era of elitists like Aiyar is over will not be too soon.

PS: Perhaps I should point out that the stuff about English came fairly late in Aiyar's escalating insults.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

India's new metros

Metropolitan railway is undergoing a bit of a building boom in India, and you can follow it from The Metro Rail Guy's blog.

E.g., Kochi.

A sample photograph:
A view of Muttom station’s concourse level – Photo Copyright: Kochi Metro Rail

Monday, November 02, 2015


Sunday, November 01, 2015

Balu makes Derrida intelligible

The fate of the Bison?

Aravindan Neelakandan has a long essay from which I excerpt this:
For Native Americans the buffalo was a sacred resource to be utilized according to human need. For many tribes, the animal is sacred because in their sacred lore the buffalo and humans share a common mythological origin. The nomadic lives of the Native American tribes centered round the sacred bison. Though they did consume the meat of the bison they never slaughtered them wanton and venerated it as a ‘sacred animal’.
If in India cow veneration was deemed uneconomical burden for the Indian farmer, in United States extermination of the sacred bison, was essential for the agricultural settling of native Indians. United States Interior Secretary Columbus Delano wrote in 1872 that he would not be sad for the ‘disappearance’ of the bison as he regarded it as a means of ‘hastening their (Native Americans’) sense of dependence upon the products of the soil and their own labors’. But the real reason was no civilizational altruism but aim for political subjugation as US Representative James Throckmorton would reveal in 1876:
There is no question that, so long as there are millions of buffaloes in the West, the Indians cannot be controlled, even by the strong arm of the Government. I believe it would be a great step forward in the civilization of the Indians and the preservation of peace on the border if there was not a buffalo in existence.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The plunge in DNA sequencing costs

These pair of remarkable charts are from the US National Human Genome Research Institute:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The meaning and purpose of higher education

Balu's paper: "Rethinking a Humboldtian vision for the 21st century". (PDF file)

The teacher does not presuppose a pre-existent motivation in the student; in fact, s/he is indifferent to the multiple motives present among the students. The teacher provides a goal for the student, induces the student to search for truth, and instils in that student a capacity to reach that goal as well. The teacher does not merely provide ‘information’ for the student to choose and pick but actively participates in the learning process by convincing the student that pursuing the goal of seeking truth is the ultimate goal of higher education. Far from being a mere (pre)condition for learning, the teacher becomes an equal partner in the educational process of the student. Pedagogy, in this new Humboldtian vision, is not subordinated to psychology, but becomes as crucial to the learning process as the presence of the learner.

The student learns autonomously, but this autonomy is taught by the teacher and is acquired by the student at the end of a particular phase in the learning process. Through the active intervention of the teacher in the learning process, the student slowly acquires the ability to learn autonomously. Autonomy, then, is the end-product of higher education and not its presupposition. The teacher becomes an exemplar for the student to follow because the former embodies the unity of facts and values, namely, knowledge.

Consequently, the University does not merely become an institution that functions as a reservoir of information. It becomes that social institution which builds bonds between two generations.

If one accepts this as a mission of the University and the Teacher, then
Pedagogical innovations become interesting only to the extent they succeed in the goal of inculcating the value of searching for truth in the student.

IMO, that is the answer to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Global Climate Prospects

Vox has an article worth reading carefully: The math on staying below 2°C of global warming looks increasingly brutal.

With respect to India:
One possibility is that emission cuts would be divided equally among countries. The United States and Europe and China and India and Zimbabwe would all make proportionally similar sacrifices to stay below 2°C. When the dust settled, the average American would still emit more than the average Indian, but they'd each have made similar percentage cuts. The authors call this the "inertia" approach.

Another option would be to divvy up cuts so that every country has roughly the same level of per capita emissions. In this scenario, India's emissions are allowed to grow, while the US and Europe have to cut much more deeply. The authors call this the "equity" approach.
With that under your belt:
India would also have to make wrenching changes. On Twitter, Peters posted a graph comparing India's projected emissions under current policies (the purple line) with what'd be required under "inertia" or "equity" scenarios for staying below 2°C:

Given that India is currently planning to double coal production by 2020 as it lifts itself out of poverty, this looks incredibly unlikely.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sanjaya Baru: India's Cultural Revolution

Sanjaya Baru points out:

The elections of May 2014 marked a turning point. After storming the Delhi Durbar, Narendra Modi chose to marginalise the Nehruvian elite rather than coopt them. The consequent Left-Right divide in India’s intellectual discourse is now out in the open. While Vajpayee sought to win over the ‘liberal centre’, Modi has pushed them away, allowing them to move closer to the Left. Modi seems to view his electoral victory as the beginning of the end of the dominance of the Nehruvian elite in India’s intellectual discourse.

That this intellectual regime change should impact so many institutions, ranging from an institute to train film and television talent to one aimed at promoting research in recent history, is a reflection of the enormity of the role of the Nehruvian State in shaping post-colonial intellectual discourse in India. In how many modern democracies does the government run a film and TV institute or a school for journalists? The Nehruvian State was involved in manufacturing not just scooters and bread but also culture. While other post-Nehruvian prime ministers began the process of getting the government out of the business of manufacturing scooters and bread, none of them, not even Modi, has tried to end governmental grip over cultural institutions.

It is not surprising that the first salvo against Modi’s attempted intellectual regime change in the Delhi Durbar should have come from none other than Jawaharlal Nehru’s own niece. Several generations of the Nehruvian elite and members of the Delhi Durbar are now up in arms. This will go on. In many institutions they may well be replaced by less accomplished people. Such is the nature of cultural revolutions.
We saw the lament of the displaced elite in Aatish Taseer's recent OpEd in the New York Times; and I expect we'll see much more ululation in the New York Times and the London Times and so on, as this elite draws on its international resources.  Maybe it will be their swan song.

The Indian Express has a rather different take; Yatish Yadav and Pratul Sharma write:
As intellectuals take a political stand against the Modi government, polarising the cultural establishment, the NDA refuses to rise to the bait.

But others are responding, e.g., as quoted by them:
Nayantara Sahgal received the award from the Prime Minister who had previously said that when a big tree falls, the earth shakes. She was ready to receive the award from him.

The Prime Minister in question was Congress's Rajiv Gandhi; and what he said was in response to the Congress-led anti-Sikh riots in Delhi that happened after his mother and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated. This is the kind of example that would have any objective observer reach the conclusion that selective outrage and politics go hand-in-hand.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

India - lighting energy efficiency savings

By replacing incandescent and CFL bulbs with LEDs, in Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh, a government program has resulted in:
A staggering 68 lakh kilowatts of energy is saved every day. This includes a cut in 645 megawatts of power during peak hours, a 5,520-tonne drop in daily carbon emission and domestic savings of Rs 2.71 crore every day.
The LED project is financed by consumers themselves through two plans. The first one is an 'onbill EMI' model under which consumers have to pay Rs 105 for an LED bulb across 10 months, which is added to the monthly power bill. The second plan allows the consumer to buy bulbs in one go — every consumer is entitled to four LED bulbs — by paying Rs 100 apiece. (The bulbs come with a three-year replacement warranty.)

LED bulbs actually cost Rs 300-350 apiece in the market — the government offers cheaper bulbs because it procures in bulk, around 7.5 crore bulbs so far. The government effort has already halved market prices from Rs 650-700 apiece a year ago.

For the project, LED lamps are procured at Rs 78 apiece. The additional Rs 27 that consumers must pay are due to the interest charges on financing, database maintenance and distribution cost.
(1 crore = 10 million.   The exchange rate today is 1 USD = 64.79 INR)

Monday, October 12, 2015

A nation stuck in high school

The Martian is a movie worth watching.  It is about the struggle for survival of an astronaut stranded on Mars.  The story is in the "hard" science fiction category, i.e., it mostly gets the science right, and the technology is not far from feasible.  If we don't blow ourselves up or pollute ourselves to death, we will be the spacefaring species whose first baby steps are depicted in this movie.  But will America be leading these steps?

This story about the movie, (and witnessing America's news shows and political debates) makes me think that high school is a traumatic experience for Americans, which very few outgrow.
  • "15 Times The Martian Made Science Nerds Look Totally Bad-Ass"
  • "But at its core, it's just a feel-good movie about science nerds."
  • "This isn't your average Interstellar-like tear-jerker, after all; this is an all-out love letter to math. And chemistry. And physics. And botany. And again (and most importantly) nerds. Argue what you will about the scientific accuracy of each and every plot line (although chances are experts won't find too many moments to discredit), but The Martian officially makes it cool to be a nerd."
PS: Prof. Paul Krugman, in his blog:
Anyway, it’s quite sad that after all these years political coverage still treats the momentous issue of who will lead the world’s most powerful nation like a high school popularity contest.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Retd US Army Col. W.P. Lang on Syria


What to do?-  I was asked today to state what I think should be done:
    * Accept the truth that we destroyed the Iraqi state and from that act of vandalism all present chaos in that country derives.
    * Don't do it again in Syria.
    * Stop saying that no "Assad cronies" can be in the government or head the government.  They ARE the government.  Assad himself is dispensable, but not the government of Syria.
    * Act like Russia, China and Iran matter as something other than rivals and adversaries.
    *  Ignore Erdogan's Turkey.  It is  a manifestation of the jihadi enemy.  They will deny us use of Incirlik and the other bases?  Fine, that would clarify the situation.  Move onto Syrian bases or the big, unused NATO built base north of Tripoli in Lebanon.
    * Ignore Saudi Arabia's wishes with regard to Syria.  They are jihadi supporters.
    *  Ignore Israel's wishes with regard to Syria.  Natanyahu's government is pursuing a mistaken and short sighted policy of eliminating coherent government in Syria for the purpose of crippling their Lebanese Hizbullah adversaries whom they think exist because of Syrian and Iranian help.  The Likud's imagined interest in Syria is not America's interest.
    * Accept Russian and Iranian co-belligerence in the war against the jihadis, ALL JIHADIS.
    * Fully coordinate operations, intelligence analysis sharing and logistics with the co-belligerent partners.

Friday, October 09, 2015

India's carbon dioxide emissions

Via BRF, an Economist article, and this graphic below.
A quote from the article:
India’s programme to subsidise the replacement of 400m cheap incandescent light bulbs with dearer LED ones would save 6,000 megawatts of installed capacity—equivalent to the entire electricity-generating capacity of Nigeria.

Monday, October 05, 2015

On free speech in India

Postscript at the start - it may be best to first read MEMRI's Tufail Ahmad - he captures the sentiment accurately: "India's Thought Cops are Angry with Modi".


Let it also be absolutely clear that there is no justification for a lynching or a murder.  There are time-honored methods of protest available in India, such as the Gherao and the Dharna. There is no indication that the aggrieved tried these methods.

In the New York Times, Ms. Sonia Faleiro makes the claim:
IN today’s India, secular liberals face a challenge: how to stay alive.
There is some truth to it;  Bangladeshi writer, Taslima Nasreen, who had taken asylum in India, fled to New York City earlier this year, after the government could not secure her against further Islamist threats emanating from Bangladesh.

Oh, sorry, wrong topic.

In the assassinations of 3 rationalists, the investigative agencies are making progress.  Just a couple of days before Ms. Faleiro's screed, the Hindu reported:
Documents seized from Samir Gaikwad — an accused under arrest in connection with the murder of social activist Govind Pansare — indicate a link to the murders of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and noted scholar M.M. Kalburgi.
Mr. Gaikwad is a full-time member of extreme right wing Hindu organisation, Sanatan Sanstha, which has its headquarters in Goa’s Ramnathi village.
which is not exactly the center of the Indian universe.  Anyway, we have to wait and see if the agencies come up with enough to launch a prosecution.

Supposedly, the ruling party at the center not speaking about this is some kind of crime.  Anyway, in other worrisome news, no one is talking about 
IN today’s Uttar Pradesh, journalists face a challenge: how to stay alive.
A TV journalist was assassinated a couple of days ago; it was the third assassination in four months in Uttar Pradesh.  The motive for the killings seems clear, these journalists were touching on the government-mafia nexus.    But Uttar Pradesh is not ruled by a "right wing Hindu Nationalist Party" and so the journalists of the New York Times cannot spare two lines for their martyred colleagues in that state.

Oh, by the way, the Prime Minister has not publicly condemned these murders either, so no doubt, by Faleiro logic, he must be complicit in them.  Somehow.

Comment:  if Americans wanted to comment on, say, Hungary, there is not a lot of English press, and so what Krugman puts on his NYT blog may have to suffice; but with India there is available, on the web, free -- not behind paywalls -- the national English press; and yet Americans are happy to make categorical comments about India without bothering to even keep up with that press.  People who do so are to be shunned like the plague.

I'll contrast with the Pakistan watchers on BRF - the Pakistani English press is avidly consumed,  there are a few who follow the Urdu; and the Urdu broadcast media is also followed.    Some people also keep track of prominent Pakistanis on social media; and others follow Pakistani forums online (e.g.,   Yet, opinion emanating from there, no matter how informed, is likely to be dismissed offhand.  Yet spout off about "the threat posed by India's Hindu nationalism" and sound both learned and liberal!  And for Americans, a master of foreign affairs; a globally conscious citizen of the world!!

As to Sonia Faleiro herself, she seems to be of the school that Hindus are superstitious, but the miracles of the Bible are true religion.


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.