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>Today’s Times of India headlines

>It’s a different world over in India, as exhibited by some of the stories currently running on the Times of India website. The old saying goes ‘only in America’ but I reckon that we’ll increasingly see the weird and bizarre from the sub-continent.

Part of the fun in these articles is the wonderfully flowery use of the English language. Another is what they come up with as headlines.

Constable accidentally pulls off firearm trigger, kills self

NAGPUR: A constable of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) died on Monday here after he accidentally pulled the trigger of his nine mm carbine, killing himself, GRP police said.

Dhananjay Singh, posted at the Nagpur railway station on platform number one, fell to his bullets, shot below his chin, in the wee hours, they said.

A case of accidental death has been registered by the police.

However, police sources say the deceased may have committed suicide since the bullet was found to have ripped through his jaws, as the gun was positioned at his neck below the chin.

Ya think?

Hundreds of prisoners in Bihar jail pledge to donate eyes

PATNA: Hundreds of prisoners in a Bihar jail, including Maoists, gangsters and even a jailed politician, have pledged to donate their eyes after death, an official said on Monday.

“More than 400 of nearly 3,000 prisoners in the Beur Central Jail in Patna have voluntarily pledged to donate their eyes,” said Kanti Mohan, the medical officer of the jail.

Official sources said Maoists like Ajay Kanu, the brain behind the infamous Jehanabad jail break in November 2005, along with dozen other cadres, gangsters Bindu Singh, Shiv Gope, Sultan Miyan and former legislator Rajan Tiwari have given their written consent to donate eyes.

“Prisoners are also human-beings, with heart and emotions. They were motivated to make a difference to others by donating their eyes,” Mohan told IANS over phone.

It took Mohan many days to convince and encourage prisoners to make the pledge.

“It was not an easy task. I worked hard for it and now the prisoners have responded,” he said.

Jail Superintendent Omprakash Gupta said the prisoners would set a positive example and it would change their bad image in the society.

“It will inspire inmates of other jails in the state to donate their eyes or other organs,” Gupta said.

I guess it’s better than what happens in China where prisoners are executed for the most trivial of crimes and have their organs sold into a lucrative market. Who came up with the idea in the first place and how did they convince the prisoners so quickly?

Two get bail in case of grabbing flats

The Pune Cantonment court on Friday granted bail to two members of the Feroz Rahim Bangali gang of Kondhwa in a case of grabbing two flats. Judicial magistrate first class A M Patankar ordered release of the suspects Mubarak Shaikh and Moiz Shaikh both from Kondhwa on bail of 20,000 with sureties of the like amount.

The suspects were ordered not to tamper with evidence, not to threaten witnesses and to give daily attendance at the Kondhwa police station. The alleged incident of grabbing of two flats at Grenade palace at Kondhwa had taken place in 2006 and the case was filed by Sayed Sarhan Sabir of Ghorpadi.

What the hell is that about??

Hero Honda to repay amount for defective bike

HYDERABAD: The Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum III has ordered Hero Honda Motors Limited to repay Rs 43,000, the cost of a Hero Honda Passion Plus, for delivering a defective motorcycle to a consumer.

B Srikanth, a student, bought the motorcycle from Laxmi Motors in Malakpet on June 14, 2008. While driving home after the purchase, it developed a technical snag within 15 minutes. Incidentally, he was driving in the second gear. Srikanth brought the issue to the notice of the showroom three days later.

The showroom staff assured him that they would address the issue during the first service. However, Srikanth encountered the problem again and brought it to the notice of the showroom. After repeated representations to the showroom and the company when his grievance was not redressed, he filed a petition before the Consumer Forum III.

In his petition, he said though authorities attended to the problem, they could not completely rectify it. He demanded that the showroom replace the bike with a new one, but they flatly rejected it. His grievance was not even heard by the Hero Honda’s regional office in Himayatnagar.

Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum III president L Kedarachary, after hearing both the parties on February 27, ordered Hero Honda Motors Limited to either replace the vehicle or repay the cost with compensation.

Incidentally, he was driving in second gear.

Magical Melange Of ’70s

The mid-60s and arrival of director N Lakshminarayan gave birth to a new idiom. His Naandi and Uyyale were two path-breakers followed by K S L Swamy’s Gandhinagara. The ’70s unspooled the Golden Age where Kannada films won laurels, both at home and abroad. Pattabhirama Reddy’s Samskara with Girish Karnad in the lead role set a blazing trail. Then came gems like Kaadu, Chomana Dudi, Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane, Vamsavruksha, Ghatashraddha, Kanneswara Rama, Hamsageethe and Ondanondu Kaladalli.

The new style, new attitudes and new explorations set out by greats like Girish Karnad, Girish Kasaravalli, G V Iyer, M S Sathyu and B V Karanth made the country take notice of Kannada cinema. The new cinema created structural and thematic variations, its framework of norms and commitments. It aimed at a broader vision of life, deeper penetration into realities, scientific exploration of themes and more relevant socio-economic perspectives. Its purpose was not to sell romatic dreams but to show reality engagingly.

These directors were relentless in their search for relevant cinema which had a hard line of conceptualisation executed in an idiomatic manner.

In the ’70s, money-spinners Dari Tappida Maga, Yeradu Kanasu, Sharapanjara, Nagarahaavu, Upasane, Sampattige Sawal and Bilee Hendti were a fine blend of art elan and commercial masala. It was definitely the Golden Era.

Don’t tell anyone that pretentiousness is not alive and well in India.

Green butchers on the prowl on OU campus

HYDERABAD: Green murderers struck again, but ironically this time they chose the sylvan Osmania University (OU) campus and axed 15 trees around the university sports complex swimming pool. However, OU authorities claimed the trees were felled to protect the swimming pool.

The OU officials maintained that since leaves of the trees surrounding the pool were polluting the water, they had ordered tree trimming, but the contractor axed 15 trees which were between eight to ten years old.

They claimed the physical education department, which maintains the sports complex, including the swimming pool, was running up a huge bill of Rs 62,000 per month for just cleaning up the pool and filtering water and hence the diktat to ‘chop’ branches was ordered.

“We had given orders to trim the trees. The contractor carried out the operation without the university’s permission. We had ordered for trimming the branches as swimmers were complaining of skin infections caused by the decaying leaves and twigs,”director, physical education department, Lakshmikanth Rathod said. However, even trees which were a few feet away from the pool were chopped down with the consent of the OU staff.

“We are ready to plant as many trees elsewhere to make up for the loss. We have been taking up continuous planting of saplings for trees cut down for construction activities,” he said.

‘Green murderers’ is a term right out of the loopy environmentalist playbook. Is green butchery a capital crime in India?

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: India

>India’s "closeness" to the United States as reason for Mumbai is demonstrably false

December 1, 2008 1 comment

>The saddest aspect of last week’s Mumbai terrorist attacks, apart from the appalling loss of life, was the predictability that the mainstream media and political elites would find some way of blaming the United States.

Deepak Chopra found himself on CNN and had this to say:

What happened in Mumbai, he told the interviewer, was a product of the U.S. war on terrorism, that “our policies, our foreign policies” had alienated the Muslim population, that we had “gone after the wrong people” and inflamed moderates. And “that inflammation then gets organized and appears as this disaster in Bombay.”

Chopra has clearly eaten too little meat, which has had a negative effect on his brain development and ability to think. And what the heck are CNN and others doing featuring a whackjob like him anyway?

But he has many friends.

Waleed Aly, lecturer in the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University, Mumbai was another to use the blame US first defence:

Much Islamist terrorism in recent years has been part of a cycle of violence with Hindu nationalist militants. The Mumbai bombings of 1993, for example, followed swiftly after the demolition of the Babri Mosque and anti-Muslim violence by Hindu militants. But hanging over every Islamist act of violence has been one loaded word: Kashmir…. As a Muslim majority territory, it most logically belongs to Pakistan…

Precisely what Israel has to do with Kashmir is not abundantly clear… And it is here (in the singling out of Jews and Westerners), rather than in the particular methods of violence, that we may discern the impact of al-Qaeda, not as an organisation, but as a symbolic ideological force. Its most significant contribution has not been mass death, but a new way of formulating militant politics that transcends the local and parochial, and imbues it with a global resonance. So, to take an example, the brutalising of Muslims in Kashmir may no longer be understood as a problem that begins and ends with India. It may now be constructed as part of a broader, more global conspiracy, spearheaded by the US.

Then, of course, there are those who blame India’s ‘closeness’ to the United States for bringing the attacks on itself.

So how close is India to the United States?

You’d think that if a country really was close then they’d have a significant part of their military arsenal of US origin, wouldn’t you?

And what part of a nation’s military is most important?

Their air force.

So let’s have a look at what the Indian Air Force is made up of with the help of Wikipedia (which, by the way, is a really good source of aircraft info):

Air Superiority

The Sukhoi Su-30MKI (MKI: ‘Multifunctional Commercial – Indian’) is the IAF’s prime air superiority fighter. The Su-30K variant was first acquired in 1996. In October 2004, the IAF signed a multi-billion US$ contract with Sukhoi according to which Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was given the licence to manufacture 140+ Su-30MKI’s with full technology transfer. HAL plans to manufacture about 15 of these aircraft annually. The twin seater, multi-role fighter has a maximum speed of 2500 km/h (Mach 2.35) and has a service ceiling of 20,000 metres. The aircraft, with one mid-air refueling, can travel as far as 8000 km, making it an effective platform to deliver nuclear weapons. In February, 2007 India ordered 40 additional Su-30MKI combat aircraft.

Sukhoi SU30MKI

MiG-29

Mirage 2000

Number of US made aircraft: 0

Strike, attack and offensive support aircraft

MiG-27

SEPECAT Jaguar

Number of US made aircraft: 0

Reconnaissance and Airborne Early Warning aircraft

Various unmanned aircraft are used for reconnaissance. In 2004, the IAF ordered 3 IAI Phalcon Airborne Early Warning radar system from Israel Aerospace Industries, which is considered to be the most advanced AEW&C system in the world, before the introduction of American-made Wedgetail. The air force will use 3 newly-acquired Ilyushin Il-76 Phalcon as a platform for these radar.


The IAF used to operate a fleet of MiG-25 (Foxbat) R, U reconnaissance aircraft until 2006. The high-speed interceptor aircraft carried four R-40 (AA-6 ‘Acrid’) air-to-air missiles, two R-23 (AA-7 ‘Apex’) and four R-60 (AA-8 ‘Aphid’) or R-73 (AA-11 ‘Archer’). The MiG-25, in service since the late 1980s, were decommissioned from service in 2006. The IAF also used the English Electric Canberra aircraft for reconnaissance and photoreconnaissance missions during the Kargil war. The Canberras were originally used as Bombers, and served in that role in the 1965 and 1971 wars.


Number of US made aircraft: 0

Helicopters

An important objective of the IAF is to support ground troops by providing air-cover and by transporting men and essential commodities across the battlefield. Helicopters in service with the IAF are:

Mi-25/35 (Hind)
Mi-26
Mi-17 1V (Hip-H)
Mi-17 (Hip-H)
HAL Dhruv
Mi-8 (Hip)
HAL Cheetah
HAL Chetak

On 15 October 2006 India agreed to acquire 80 Mi-17 helicopters from the Russian Federation in a deal worth approximately US$662 million. The new and improved HAL Dhruv, complete with the more powerful Shakti engine and glass cockpit, came on stream in 2007.

Number of US made helicopters: 0

In fact, the entire extent of India’s aircraft purchases from the US is a few trainers and a recent order for six of the new C130J Hercules.

India chose to be part of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement – those countries that did not choose sides in the Cold War.

However, far from being non-aligned India became very close to the Soviet Union and is clearly close to Russia today, as the composition of its air force demonstrates.

Thus, the argument that the Mumbai attacks are due to India being ‘too close’ to America are shown to be as false as the intellectually bankrupt claim that the US war on terror is to blame.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: India, War On Terror

>One-third of the world’s poor live in India

>The World Bank has released new data on global poverty. The Times Of India reports that a large proportion of the world’s poor live in India.

NEW DELHI: India is home to roughly one-third of all poor people in the world. It also has a higher proportion of its population living on less than $2 per day than even sub-Saharan Africa.

That is the sobering news coming out of the World Bank’s latest estimates on global poverty. The fine print of the estimates also shows that the rate of decline of poverty in India was faster between 1981 and 1990 than between 1990 and 2005. This is likely to give fresh ammunition to those who maintain that economic reforms, which started in 1991, have failed to reduce poverty at a faster rate.

India, according to the new estimates, had 456 million people or about 42% of the population living below the new international poverty line of $1.25 per day. The number of Indian poor also constitute 33% of the global poor, which is pegged at 1.4 billion people.

India also had 828 million people, or 75.6% of the population living below $2 a day. Sub-Saharan Africa, considered the world’s poorest region, is better — it has 72.2% of its population (551m) people below the $2 a day level.

The estimates are based on recently recalculated purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rates, which makes comparisons across countries possible. The dollar exchange rates being referred to here, therefore, are not the ones used in normal exchange rates.

While the full report has not yet been released, a briefing note sent by the Bank had some of the data and showed that the poverty rate — those below $1.25 per day — for India had come down from 59.8% in 1981 to 51.3% by 1990 or 8.5 percentage points over nine years. Between 1990 and 2005, it declined to 41.6%, a drop of 9.7 percentage points over 15 years, clearly a much slower rate of decline.

An FAQ on the new estimates, also provided by the Bank, however states, “India has maintained even progress against poverty since the 1980s, with the poverty rate declining at a little under one percentage point per year.”

As the article shows, India is making steady progress at advancing his cause with a significant decline in poverty over the last 20 years as the country has thrown off the dead hand of socialism and embraced free market capitalism.

What’s also worth noting is that the poverty rate of $2/day is completely arbitrary even using PPP exchange rates. India’s official poverty level is around $0.50/day and even allowing for a fair amount of political fudging it’s still a big gap.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: India

>Indian woman mistakes rapist for husband

June 20, 2008 2 comments

>One of the great things about reading the papers from India, Pakistan and Turkey etc is the wonderful use and occasional mangling of the English language that takes place.

This article
from The Times of India reports on an Indian woman who let a man rape her because she thought he was her husband.

NAGPUR: In a bizarre incident, a 20-year-old woman in a village around 9 kilometres away from Kalameshwar near here, initially mistook her rapist for her husband, and let him have intercourse with her, while her husband slept only a few feet away from her. However, realising her mistake, she soon raised an alarm, and her husband chased the miscreant, but he escaped into the night.

Rape aside, it sounds like a scene from an Errol Flynn movie…husband only a few feet away…miscreant…escaping into the night… When was the last time you saw the word ‘miscreant’ used in a news article?

The couple later lodged a complaint with Kalameshwar police station, who then registered a case of rape against the miscreant, who remains untraced. Local police say that a search party has been sent to nab him.

“…nab him”…that’s great! Can you imagine the Times of London using such language? “A 25 year old South Asian miscreant was nabbed today by Interpol as he tried to board a plane to Prague.” Perhaps ‘miscreant’ can replace ‘terrorist’ in politically correct papers around the world. ‘Islamic Miscreant’ has a nice ring to it.

The incident took place at around 10 pm on Tuesday, when both Savita and her husband 23-year-old Harish (both names changed) were asleep in their house. Harish was sleeping on a cot, while Savita was on the floor only a few feet away.

As is the correct order of things. Sensible people, those Indians.

Sources say that the accused, identified as one Sanjay Khade (35), somehow broke open the locked door to the house, entered the room they were sleeping in, and lay down beside Savita. She apparently assumed that it was her husband, and let him continue his advances.

Soon after the imposter had finished his act the lady, felt that the person beside her was of a stockier build than her husband, and started shouting. Hearing her scream, Harish woke up and chased Khade, who was a resident of the same village. The accused fled into the night, and the couple lodged a complaint against him on Wednesday. Further investigation into the matter is under way, it is reported.

“Soon after the imposter had finished his act…” – where do these journalists learn their use of English? At the Oscar Wilde school of writing?

It could happen to anyone, I guess?

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: India

>India improves standard of living. Big Green gnashes teeth.

February 24, 2008 Leave a comment

>One of the positions that environmentalists have taken pretty much since the movement was created is that they have a better understanding of what’s best for the developing world than the developing world does itself.

Over recent years this has seen Big Green oppose every single development aimed at helping give the poor nations of the world an improved standard of living whether it’s mining, new energy projects or improved food production through such things as GM crops.

Unsurprisingly, some countries are now in a position to help themselves and it’s making Big Green gnash its teeth and wail about the end of the world. Big Green is always wailing about the end of the world.

The latest reason for gnashing of teeth? India’s new cheap-as-chips micro car, the Tata Nano. Good on the Indians, I say.

It’s small, it’s cheap, it’s low emission so… the arrival of the Tata Nano, India’s new ‘people’s car’, has been greeted by a wailing and a gnashing of the teeth from the environmental aristocracy. The prospect of millions of the global peasantry driving, emitting and pushing up ‘our’ gas prices is a nightmare. It promises to be, said Yale environmental law professor Daniel Esty, “an environmental disaster of substantial proportions.”

In fact, the size, or even existence, of this environmental disaster is doubtful. A few millions of a car that emits 30 g CO2 per km simply isn’t even an influence upon global CO2 emissions, let alone a disaster of even insubstantial portions. At that emission rate, doing 20,000 km a year each car will produce 600 kg of CO2: one hundred million of them on the roads would be less than 1 per cent of current emissions of over 6 Gtonnes. No, not substantial then.

But whether it is a substantial addition or not is dwarfed by the seeming ignorance of other commentators: “In none of our reports did we assume there’d be a car like this,” said Judi Greenwald, a researcher with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Well, OK, cut Judi a little slack, no one did predict a car exactly like this: but everyone has indeed predicted that something similar would happen, that the peons would at some point be able to get off Shank’s Pony and move around in the same way us civilised folks do. Indeed, all the concerns we have about global warming are rather based upon predictions that this will happen.

Apologies, but this is where a little economics becomes necessary. Yes, we’ve all heard of the International Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, those people who issue the reports containing the scientific consensus on the issue (yes, we are assuming they are correct here). Greenland’s ice disappears sometime around 2,500, East Antarctica a couple of centuries later and boy, then we all really are in trouble. But all too few people, and unfortunately all too few environmentalists, stop and wonder where those numbers come from. Yes, we’ve got lovely computer models to tell us what the temperature rises will be if we stick x amount of methane into the atmosphere, y amount of CO2 and so on: but someone, somewhere, has had to work out how much methane, how much CO2 is likely to be so emitted. And that comes from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios, the SRES.

The SRES is a series of economic models based upon four families (again divided into scenarios but we’re not going to worry about that level of detail). The A1 family assumes that in 2100 the world output (GDP) will be $550 trillion for some 7 billion people. That is, that the world will be at least ten times richer in 92 years than it was eight years ago (essentially, growth goes on as it has since 1850). A2 (what the Stern Review uses and, umm, the low globalisation model) has 16 billion people and $250 trillion in GDP. B2 10 billions and $250 trillion, B1 $350 trillion and 7 billion again. These are the economic assumptions upon which everything we are told about climate change rests. Yes, there are different assumptions in them about how technology develops but all of them are entirely without any attempts at all at mitigation. That is, all the numbers we work with assume that we don’t have carbon taxes, we don’t ban patio heaters, we don’t abolish the aeroplane. Anything we do along those lines reduces the damage that might be done.

Just as an aside we might note that these models all assume that the less trade we have, the more regionally based the world economy, the more self-sufficient we all become, buying locally, the worse the outcome. Campaigning to reduce globalisation to counter global warming is like fucking for virginity.

While none of the families specifically predicts the Tata Nano, all of them predict that the great unwashed will indeed have transport: and no, none of them predict that that transport will not be fossil fuel based. So while those folks at the Pew Center might be correct that this specific thing was not predicted, something very like it was. In fact, the existence of growing wealth and thus mobility is rather written into the plans that worry us.

Which leads us to the glorious George Monbiot. In a recent column he said:

“So economic growth this century could be 32 times as big an environmental issue as population growth. And if governments, banks and businesses have their way, it never stops. By 2115, the cumulative total rises to 3,200%, by 2138 to 6,400%. As resources are finite, this is of course impossible, but it is not hard to see that rising economic activity – not human numbers – is the immediate and overwhelming threat.”

Leave aside his (known) ignorance of economics: growth is not defined by nor is it dependent upon the consumption of resources. It’s defined as the addition of value to them: making sandpaper and a computer chip both consume sand, but one is the addition of rather more value than the other. Thus economic growth is not constrained in the way that he thinks by resource availability. Look rather to his “this is of course impossible”.

In talking about climate change and the dangers thereof he tells us that a continuation of past economic growth is impossible. But as we can see above, the world’s largest report on the subject, indeed the scientific consensus, is that said growth is indeed possible. In fact, the terrors of climate change depend upon it being so, for the whole science is based upon the outcome of economic growth. Thus George has either, by showing the impossibility, told us that climate change isn’t a problem or that, perhaps more likely, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Which brings us back to those worrying about the Tata Nano: it isn’t a horror for the climate, it isn’t a disaster. It’s actually one of the things already built into our models which lead us to our current understanding of what will happen. We’ve already taken account of it in our calculations, you see? As we have all those other things: more flights, more people, more wealth. We even know the solution, a Pigou Tax, but that’s a matter for another day.

For a group of people who think they have the moral high ground, the immoral positions of Big Green make Big Oil look like Pope John Paul II.

I’m also constantly surprised by the view of Big Green that resources are finite. The fact is that resources are infinite; when one runs out another is found. Who remembers that whale oil used to be one of the world’s biggest industries?

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Climate Change, India, Morals

>Indian cricket hits new low

January 7, 2008 6 comments

>Unfortunately for all the world’s cricket lovers, Indian cricket authorities have taken things to a new low with their ridiculous shenanigans following their Second Test loss in the final few minutes of the game in Sydney on Sunday.

International cricket is in turmoil with the Indian cricket board suspending its team’s tour of Australia and media calls for Australian captain Ricky Ponting to step down.

Last night the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) flexed its muscles by suspending the tour pending the outcome of spinner Harbhajan Singh’s appeal against his three-match ban for racially abusing Andrew Symonds.

Harbhajan Singh was reported for calling Andrew Symons a ‘monkey’, the same taunt that the crowds used against Symons during Australia’s last tour of India. Neutral umpires made the report, the incident was referred to the match referee and Singh was found guilty. Australian authorities have absolutely nothing to do with the decision.

People may not be aware that Indian cricket board, the BCCI, effectively runs world cricket and is using this non-incident in order to leverage more power from the International Cricket Council. For the BCCI to suspend the team’s tour shows the depths that India’s cricketing authorities are now plumbing in order to flex their muscles.

Why do we have neutral umpires in the first place? Because teams touring India and Pakistan in the pre-neutral umpire days couldn’t get a fair go. There wasn’t a problem with umpiring in Australia or England or the West Indies at the time. The number of crazy LBW decisions that finally led to the introduction of neutral umpires was a stain on sub-continental cricket’s reputation.

Pakistani authorities complain about incompetent umpiring because they had a few decisions go against them but don’t look at the other side of the ledger to see if there was anything that went for them. Ponting’s dismissal was clearly not out. Did Ponting carry on like a pork chop? No. He accepted the decision and off he went.

Peter Roebuck’s ridiculous assertion that Ricky Ponting should be replaced as captain indicates to me that this normally (or formerly?) very good cricket journalist has let a few sheep out of the top paddock. Any fair assessment of the various incidents that took place in the series so far could come back with any judgement other than Australia plays ‘hard but fair’ and Ponting captains the same way.

Does anyone remember the way India’s captain at the time, Sourav Ganguly, behaved during Australia’s last tour there? Contemptuous. Arrogant. Unsporting. Unseemly. Ungentlemanly. He did more to damage India’s cricketing reputation than any other single player for many a year. Did the ACB carry on about Ganguly? No. It’s part of the game.

Get over it. Get on with it.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Australia, India, Sport