Tuesday, September 30, 2003
According to Rediff.com an organization called MY India (Muslim Youth for India) has been formed by a former president of SIMI (yes, that organization banned for anti-national activities). This is a welcome development. There should be strong support for this kind of effort from people who believe in pluralism. Only minority organizations that support pluralism, as against sectarianism, would make moderates among the majority come out against the fringe elements, who always are able to justify their policies as a natural reaction to Owaisis and Shahabuddins.


Thursday, September 25, 2003
Grand posturing does NOT help

The Times of India today carries this editorial calling for "an offer Musharraf cannot refuse." One offer he could never refuse is a surrender of Kashmir.... wanna try? Have we not learnt anything from Agra? Grand standing does NOT help. Such gestures just create a sputter that dies in a brief while. How many cycles of hugging n' kissing to entering a nasty spat to stone silence are we to go through before we realize that peace making is a more involved process than what we usually are prepared for?

So, Mushy comes to Srinagar, and Atal goes to Muzaffarabad. Then what? What do they talk? The editorial is silent on that. Limits of thought?

My opinion is that ABV should completely ignore Musharraf's barbs, and talk abt global peace, collective security, terrorism etc - set out a broad vision - or sign up on one already existing one. A good example would be the stand taken by Rajiv Gandhi on nuclear weapons. That would set us out as a leading country with some vision, and responsibility.

One caveat though - don't rush into trying to fix things by making an example (for example, we should still continue to insist on ridding the world of nukes, while not giving up our option in a hurry). In world politics, tact speaks better than blind idealism.


Out sourcing - the future

Lots of people are concerned abt the future of out sourcing - and whether it would cause a backlash here in the US. I think, over time, out sourcing from the US is bound to reduce - either due to legal restrictions (though I do not see how this could be achieved), sops (such as meaningful tax cuts for companies not going abroad) or because of trade concerns (such as reduction in demand in one of the biggest consumer markets in the world).

However, India will not lose, because the out-sourcing from Europe is waiting to start on a big scale. The biggest road block to this might be the language. We should do something abt this - train more students to learn French and German. Given the massive shortfall in labor force that the EU will be facing in the coming years, and the fact that when it comes down to the reality, they might feel squeamish about making it up with immigration, the big players of Europe might find out-sourcing an attractive option. However, to benefit from this, India will have to compete with eastern European nations. Get ready folks, a new generation of trade wars is beginning.

PS: Check this out: http://money.guardian.co.uk/news_/story/0,1456,1049215,00.html

Thursday, September 11, 2003
Re: Ban on animal sacrifice

As in the case of Talaq, my view on this is that the state cannot, and should not, concern itself with the religious prescriptions and proscriptions while deciding on such issues. I have personally witnessed one such festival in Madurai. The scene is very disturbing, in the sense that there is a huge number of animals sacrificed in an environment that is far from hygienic. People cook and eat around the same place... some leave some parts of the carcass around. It also amounts to cruelty to animals.

This being the case, I think the ban is valid, and worthy of appreciation.


re: Ban on animal sacrifice

The scriptural viewpoint:
Is sacrificial killing justified?

The above article from the Kamakoti math concludes that certain types of animal sacrifices are still allowed in this yuga. But the author fails to emphasize that latter revelations unequivocally deprecate the motive for sacrifice and extol bhakti and concentration on the Supreme Personality of Godhead for His enjoyment alone, without expectation for material reward in the material world, which can only come from right understanding of one's constitutional position w.r.t. Him.

Ramki, why are you in favour of banning animal sacrifice?

Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Should India enter Iraq?

President Bush has, in a speech, reiterated his request for more international troops for Iraq. The admn has made no secret its desire to see Indians there. One hotly debated topic is whether we should go, in the interest of the budding alliance between the two countries.

I think not. Two reasons:

1. Bush has refused to allow creation of other commands in Iraq, which means we would have to function either under the American command, or under an allied command. The first choice is really no choice - if American troops cannot function under an Indian, it is only justified that the same be said in the other direction. Functioning under an allied command would mean that we are joining the alliance that invaded Iraq ex post facto. This cannot be accepted because it means we as a nation are going back on a stance we took, and with no apparent reason except that the US president now wishes us to do so! We can be allies - loyal ones at that - but we should not become a Banana Republic for that.

2. I do not believe the administration's estimate that we need only one more division in Iraq. In my view, it will take much than that. In that case, to me at least, it looks like Bush Admn has not gotten rid of its ideas of rebuilding on the cheap. This is dangerous. This idea is what led to the problems the allies are facing in Iraq today, and this would continue to be a problem as long as the US Admn continues to entertain its fantasies of investmentless reconstruction. Let's not put ourselves in a position where we get shot, and have no way of stopping it, with decisions being made in the DC!


Ban on Animal Sacrifice

Recently, the government of Tamil Nadu banned the sacrifice of animals during religious festivals. This tradition is in vogue in many Hindu temples dedicated to local dieties, especially in southern and western parts of TN. The question is, is this ban legal? I believe so.

The primary argument against the ban is that it impinges upon the Right to Freedom of Religion of the citizens in Tamil Nadu, and the courts must use strict scrutiny (to use the US legal parlance) and ask if TN has any genuine necessity in imposing the ban. This argument overlooks one fact, and in essence, seeks to strengthen the said right guaranteed by the constitution under Art 25.

Article 25 states that
Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion. (emphasis added)

A particular act is protected under the Right to Freedom of Religion only if it satisfies the caveat imposed. In that sense, it is not an unqualified right, and is actually quite a lot weaker than is generally assumed. If the TN government can convince the courts that mass animal sacrifice is an unhealthy practice, disrupts public order, or is immoral, then the rights under Art 25 will not cover it anymore. Then, the courts will be under no compunction to grant the strict scrutiny demand. And I believe that this ban will manage to pass a rational scrutiny.

One caveat here - this type of conclusion would certainly open up a Pandora's box. But that is no justification for reaching a wrong conclusion in the evident case.


Friday, September 05, 2003
> Is that so? "Not evangelical" at this point or never have been?

At this point. Certainly not in history... Buddhism has a rich history of monks who went abt preaching - another word for converting. Am not sure abt the Hindu traditions though.


Wednesday, September 03, 2003
Highway construction during this government has been unprecedented. By 2007 the GQ and PC pjts will be done, not to mention the silent progress of the PMGSY that will revolutionize village economies. In his I-day speech, PM said:
In the first five decades of Independence, only 550 kilometers of four-lane highways were built. In other words, only 11 kilometers a year. Now, we will build 24,000 kilometers of highways at the rate of 11 kilometers a day.

The Rs. 54,000-crore National Highways Development Project is progressing rapidly. Three lakh people are working on it everyday. Next year, this number will go up to six lakh per day.

Here are some fotos:

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