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thoughtsnips
Friday, April 30, 2004
 
Read this before you go (or take your kids to) watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban!! Whoever knew!!!

 
Harvard prof scams $600,000, then hands it to 419ers | The Register

Some comeuppance, huh?! Sadly, the money could actually have been used for SARS research. Dumbass!

 
Cong. ridicules Vajpayee's memory loss

Much as I detest the manner in which these comments were made, I do agree that not only the BJP, but also India needs a youthful leader. Vajpayee is almost 80 and should seriously consider retiring.



 
Prayers being outsourced to India!
Damn!!!!!!!!

 
"I need your mandate"
I guess this was not the work of a BJP official (or the email would have been from bjp.org). But, I see that this is a very well written, coherently argued piece. If I were Vajpayee, I would go to town with this very message. I do not think there is anything wrong with saying what is there - a threat of instability.

Thursday, April 29, 2004
 
I've Got a Secret - Dick Cheney's absolute right to know and not tell.
A very engaging (and amusing) commentary of the proceedings before teh Supreme Court in re Cheney. Dahlia Lithwick rocks. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2004
 
humour: Signs of India

 
>Carl, do you have any info of honor killings reported in that country?

Common cultural trait there, especially in the less developed eastern anatolia region.

 
Specter Wins Pennsylvania Senate Primary in Close Vote
Specter survived - by the skin of his teeth. It just goes to show how precariously perched the GOP is right now. Let's see where it goes from here.

 
The best ever cartoon

Hehe.... It's the best, ever. You will know what I mean if u had seen just the one with the Native Americans building casinoes near South Park - or where God comes to celebrate the 2nd millenium with South Parkers! :)

Hey, Don't miss tonite's show!!!

 
That this is happening in the more "moderate" Islamic Turkey is thing of worry. Carl, do you have any info of honor killings reported in that country?

 
Yale to introduce Tamil

A development I am obviously excited about! :-)

Tuesday, April 27, 2004
 
Re: Our Guesstimates of how parties will fare

One more thing: contrary to what he thinks, if Rachit's scenario (God Forbid!!) might give us a stabler govt than what I have predicted. Surprised? Look at where the ruling alliance would draw its support from: mostly from AP, Bihar, TN, Maharashtra, Kerala, WB and UP.

Among these, AP will be Congress' own strength.
In UP, Congress's ally would be former-opponents, but who is supporting Congress for the fear of the BJP allying with the other "Other".

In WB and Kerala, the Congress and Left will get most seats - and every one of them will be in ruling coalition's column.

You can expect RJD, DMK and the Left not to keep threatening to pull down the govt (while giving enuf headaches).

The wildcards would then be NCP, MDMK, and maybe, BSP. That is much better than the ten-fifteen parties that could pull down a BJP dispensation!!

 
Our Guesstimates of how parties will fare

Rachit and I tried to guess (very roughly), what each party would get in each state. These numbers are based on our gut instincts, precedents and the exit poll numbers. Let's see who is closer to the reality.

Some analysis:
1. Rachit predicts a very evenly split Parliament, with Congress emerging as the most important player - any government in this scenario has to have Congress supporting it (if not led by it). I still think NDA has more chances.
2. Rachit and I differ on the most important state - UP. I think the three way split in anti-NDA votes, combined with some movement of Muslim votes to Congress would strengthen BJP. Rachit thinks NDA will sink further in the state. I think he is also ignoring the Kalyan Singh factor. The one thing we agree on is that BSP would fare well.
3. While I have predicted a near sweep for NDA in Rajasthan, Rachit thinks it will be more 50-50.
4. Surprisingly, we agree that NDA will not be drubbed completely in TN.
5. Congress+RJD would win two-thirds of Bihar's seats, according to Rachit. I think it will be more 50-50.
6. We decided to list the AI Trinamool Congress as Others2 in WB, but NDA in Meghalaya (accounted under NE states).


 
US-India trade, outsourcing, etc

Here's a good C-SPAN program where tom donohue, president of US Chambers of Commerce speaks after his trip to India:

rtsp://video.c-span.org/15days/e042604_donohue.rm


 
>I was not shooting merely in thin air

Rachit, I presume you mean you weren't merely shooting air, period, which is good for the environment, but terrible news for all of us who are concerned for India's political stability, policy-direction and corruption-index at this crucial juncture! To quote a friend of mine, here's what we can expect:

Italian PM
Maulana Yadav as Defence minister
Arjun Singh as HRD min
Lalu P Yadav as DPM

Mandal replaces Kamandal

 
BJP’s feel-good backfiring as Cong hopes to form Govt sans allies

I was not shooting merely in thin air. Though, for once I wish my prediction does not come true. I don't know if India can afford another period of political instability. If the Congress does emerge in a position to form the government, Mulayam, Laloo, Pawar and maybe Mamta will hold the government to ransom. However, here is another possible scenario -

NDA does not get absolute majority. A congress led coalition can form a government. But differences emerge on who the PM should be. Congress wants Sonia but Pawar does not agree. If there is a stalemate, DMK defects and lends outside support to the NDA. Pawar is roped in as Home/Defense Minister, Paswan's party agrees to join NDA ranks. Mamta is dumped again and BSP/SP lend outside support to the Govt.

 
Turkish crescent

The crescent on the Turkish flag has a dual symbolism. The first obviously relates to the Ottoman Islamic Caliphate. The second is the Grey Wolf nostalgia relating to pre-Islamic Central-Asian Turkic warriors, whose favourite battle formation was a crescent. In fact the first pre-Islamic Turks' contact with Muslim Arabs was in a battle where they swept across the moonlit grasslands and crushed an Arab-occupied colony in the same classic crescent formation. Ironically, these Turks did so in response to a plea from Buddhist and -- get this -- Hindu people, who were fleeing Arab persecution in this colony.

 
New Iraq Flag


This is the new Iraqi Flag, adopted by the Governing Council.

The most striking thing about the flag is the complete absence of the green of Islam, and the adoption of the crescent from Turkish flag (only other Arab flags containing the crescent are that of Tunisia and Algeria).

Blue is a very strange color to have for this flag - I do not know why a pattern so reminiscent of the Israeli flag was chosen. Also notice that the Shi'i black is also not present. I do not know why yellow represents Kurds either (except for the remote relationship that the Kurdish Autonomous Province had an yellow sun at the center of its red-white-green tricolour flag).

Overall, this is bound to be seen as an effort to tear away Iraq from its Arab roots - it is a complete departure from the black-white-red pan-Arab flags.

The flag bears no history at all - in a land that is hosted one of the world's oldest civilizations, as if to say that they are going to build a new civilization and not just a state system - that is not a good message to send.

Ironically, if the UN had proposed the same flag, it would have had a lot more meaning - blue usually representing the world body.

 
Welcome to 21st century, Mr.Cramer

Clayton Cramer thinks there is a message here.

Well, Father's Manifesto seems to have some additional material for him - IF he is willing to accept that only Christians should be allowed to hold public office.

- Delaware, Article 22: "Every person, who shall be chosen amember of either house, or appointed to any office or place oftrust shall...make and subscribe the following declaration, towit: 'I, __________, do profess faith in God the Father, and inJesus Christ, His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God,blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scripturesof the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.'"

- Pennsylvania, Frame of Government, Section 10: "And each member[of the legislature] before he takes his seat, shall make andsubscribe the following declaration, viz: 'I do believe in oneGod, the creator and governour of the universe, the rewarder ofthe good and the punisher of the wicked, and I do acknowldedgethe scriptures of the Old and new Testament to be given by divineinspiration.'"

- Massachusetts, Chapter VI, Article I: "[All persons electedto State office or to the Legislature must] make andsubscribe the following declaration, viz. 'I, __________,do declare, that I believe the Christian religion, and havefirm persuasion of its truth.'"

- North Carolina, Article XXXII: "No person, who shall denythe being of God, or the truth of the Protestant religion, orthe divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, orwho shall hold religious principles incompatible with thefreedom and safety of the state, shall be capable of holdingany office, or place of trust or profit in the civildepartment, within this state."

- Maryland, Article XXXV: "That no other test or qualificationought to be required...than such oath of support and fidelityto this state...and a declaration of a belief in the Christianreligion."

- Vermont (1786), Frame of Government, Section 9: "And eachmember [of the legislature], before he takes his seat, shallmake and subscribe the following declaration, viz: 'I dobelieve in one God, the Creator and Governor of the universe,the rewarder of the good and punisher of the wicked. And I doacknowledge the scriptures of the old and new testament to begiven by divine inspiration, and own and profess the [Christian]religion.' And no further or other religious test shall ever,hereafter, be required of any civil officer or magistrate inthis State."

- Tennesee (1796), Article VIII, Section II: "No person who deniesthe being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments,shall hold any office in the civil department of this State."


So much for a conservative with libertarian sympathies!!

Monday, April 26, 2004
 
India to see R&D outsourcing boom
A very significant development.

 
MSN India - Exit polls faulty: pollsters
You got to love them when they give u the whole truth....

 
Bush-Cheney Energy Strategy: Procuring the Rest of the World's Oil

Good read.

 
Cong ecstatic over exit poll result: "[Congress]] would not require the support of either the BSP or SP for [forming the government]."
Concrete proof that Cong has given up hopes of forming an alternate govt. :-)

 
10-year RI for Saravana Bhavan owner in kidnap case - Newindpress.com
Saravana Bhavan has become a part of cultural life of middle-class Chennaiites. What a bad thing to happen to the chain!

 
Reason why the BJP numbers might drop in the latest phase polls



Note that excluding Assam and Karnataka, in every other state, the NDA's performed well in the areas that went to polls today. That means a drop should only be expected.

I still believe that NDA will continue as the ruling alliance. Reports from UP suggest that SP is losing Muslim votes. If this happens in a large enough scale, Mulayam Singh Yadav might consider lending outside support to BJP (a la Naidu).

Let's see what happens.
(Thanks Rediff for the illustration.)

 
Senate race highlights GOP divide | csmonitor.com
Given that it would give a good chance for Dems to take the Senate, and thereby ensure a split govt, in case Bush wins, I would normally have hoped for a Toomey win. However, the stakes are higher here. The presence of moderates like Specter, Chuck Hagel (R-Neb), and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) is important for the GOP.

Moderates in both parties have become an endangered species, which only weakens the democratic system. So, I would be hoping for a Specter win in the primaries - even if it means Dems losing the seat in fall.

 
Despite humiliation, a Dalit boy votes
A sad, yet uplifting, story.

Sunday, April 25, 2004
 
washingtonpost.com: Shifting Shades of Red and Blue
An analysis on these figures to follow....

 
Our foreign affairs "knowledge"

These are the headlines in the "International" section of The Indian Express. Tell me if you find a single one of them important or insightful. Is it any surprise that many Indians have an unhealthy contempt for "western" lifestyles or ideas? I believe this is highly unhealthy for India.

Scottish teens steal skull to use as puppet
Naked man chases woman to protest wrong parking
Boy survives nine-storey fall in Hong Kong
Half-naked New York couple cause stir
Dog feels below par after eating 28 golf balls
Rampant rhino gets erotic with car
Waitress serves detergent instead of schnapps
Couple charged with indecency for holding hands
Last part of forged Hitler diaries to go on sale
Germany may no longer frown upon sex in barracks
Buddha bikini upsets believers
Bangladeshi judge loses job for taking bribe

 
Doonesbury@Slate - Daily Dose
Cooool, and eloquent.

 
Militants behead J&K cop's wife, daughter
Gruesome.

 
Ramki in Hindi

I don't know if everyone knows, but our man speaks really shudh Hindi (after a moderately lengthy hindi conversation with him) and that too very fluently. He might have strong views on hindi imposition, but he really knows his Hindi. Trust me !

Rachit.

Saturday, April 24, 2004
 
Why I think things will be more hunky-dory under the new AID-Columbus President, Chitra Ranganathan

:-)

AIDPrez


 
International U.S. to Reinstate Some Sacked Iraq Officials
I am not sure of what to make of this. It sure looks like the Bremer administration is moving to undo what many observers have called a mistake - disbanding the government of former government of Iraq. At the same time, putting Ba'ath party people back in charge looks to me as a dangerous, and possibly desperate, gamble. I am sure many Iraqis are bound to look at it that way.

 
NDTV.com - Delhi's Shahi Imam backs BJP
I deeply distrust this man. I am intrigued by what is really behind this statement.

 




A cool illustration of the regions that went to polls. Notice that in both Orissa and Karnataka, the regions that are mostly Congress have gone to the botth already (I was maybe exaggerating when I said Old Mysore area was Congress fort. There is, in fact, a big swath of BJP area in the Kodagu region (see west of Mysore). BJP could feel upbeat in the elections.

Again, in Orissa, Congress dominated areas have gone to polls. The southern belt, with Telugu population has generally been Congress areas.

As I said, Andhra is the worrying factor for NDA. The northern coastal belt has gone to polls, along with the Telangana region. The south coastal belt, just below the coastal regions that went to polls in phase 1 used to be TDP strongholds (Naidu belongs to the Kamma caste that dominates these areas). However, this time, he has to contend with his sister-in-law Dagubatti Purandareshwari (NTR's daughter), and her husband, former Union Minister Dagubatti Venkateswara Rao in these areas. In Cuddapah, he has to contend with the traditional domination of CLP leader YS Rajashekhara Reddy. In the extreme south Rayalaseema region (Chittoor etc), Congress has traditionally given TDP quite a fight. Overall, it does not look good for Naidu. He may rue the day he decided to gamble on the sympathy votes in calling early elections.

(Thanks Rediff for the illustrations.)

Friday, April 23, 2004
 
The New York Times > Sports > Former N.F.L. Player Killed in Afghanistan
I would say that here is a true patriot.

 
'I will create a new brand of politics'

Is this a serious interview? How come no one is questioned on important issues like foreign policy or economics? The so-called Harvard grad should have some comments on it!

I know it is not a weighty criticism, but yes, Carl, there is something about his smile that makes him look, well, not-so-smart. Quite a big contrast to Rajiv, who had one of the most charming smiles I have ever seen.

 
rediff.com: How We Will Vote
This series makes good reading. I chose this particular article kind of amusing... they support Advani, and have a pet named Laloo?

 
Indian Geek Blog

Came across Arnab's world, and loved it at even at the first shy. Is it any wonder? ;-)

 
Re: Splitting heir over Vajpayee

Fernandes will have his age going against him. If Advani succeeds Vajpayee, then Fernandes has to outlast him... not an easy task. Jaswant Singh is a better bet. However, the suave Finance Minister might not be the favorite among the Sangh lots (RSS hates him). Unless BJP gets so much out of RSS's sphere of influence, his candidacy could be a long-shot.

BTW, notice that in the poll result, the "moderate" wing dominates over the "hardliners".

 
" Beneath the helmet, under that unruly curly hair, inside the cranium, there is something we don't know, something beyond scientific measure. Something that allows him to soar, to roam a territory of sport that, forget us, even those who are gifted enough to play alongside him cannot even fathom. When he goes out to bat, people switch on their TV sets and switch off their lives " BBC on Sachin

How true !

 
Splitting heir over Vajpayee

How about Jaswant Singh? or George Fernandes?



 
Pentagon Ban on Pictures of Dead Troops Is Broken

Two questions = 1. Is such a ban justified? 2. Should such a policy apply when enemy soldiers are killed as well?

 
The New York Times > Washington > Politics: White House Says Iraq Sovereignty Could Be Limited
First, there was an announcement that Ba'athists could take power. And now this. Such flip-flopping on the future of Iraq would prove very costly, and might alarm moderates and fence-sitters there. Just what does the administration plan to do?

Thursday, April 22, 2004
 
Great Google Searches

Type "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in Google, and hit the "I'm feeling lucky" button. Read the whole page.
Now, try the same with "Miserable Failure"

I found the second one real hilarious.


 
Wonderful and timely article...clearly put this whole "peace process" into perspective...
The "peace process" is likely to melt away with the Himalayan snows...

 
Poll turnout very high, says EC

New Delhi, Apr.22 (UNI): The Election Commission today substantially raised the voter turnout in the first round of polling in 140 Lok Sabha constituencies on April 20.

With this, the overall polling is estimated to rise close to 60 per cent, from the earlier 50-55 per cent.

Deputy Election Commissioner A N Jha told reporters that the percentage of voting has gone up from 55 to 67.87 in Andhra Pradesh, from 60 to 70.85 in Assam, from 55-60 to 61.76 in Karnataka and from 40-45 to 57.26 in Maharashtra.

Only for Chhattisgarh, the polling percentage has been reduced -- from 50 per cent to 48.13 per cent.

The polling percentage is estimated at 52.72 in Meghalaya (against the initial 50-55), 62.8 in Mizoram (up from 55-60), 61.52 in Orissan (from 50-55), 69.04 in Dadra and Nagar Haveli (against 65-70) and 70.16 in Daman and Diu (against 60-65).

 
Till death do us apart....

This is the statement made by the bridegroom in a Hindu marriage ceremony to his bride (the traditional ones have surprisingly lot in common).
'I have obtained your friendship. From your friendship I will not be separated, and from my friendship, too, you will not be parted. Let us take our vows together and love one another, being mutually compatible and of pure mind."

How sweet, and broad-minded a statement! And what a yawning gap exists between the statement, and reality! How sad!!

 
I, the Traditionalist

Something seriously wrong with this quiz... These are the answers I chose, and it called me a traditionalist.

Q1. What is your concept of God?
Ancient scriptures describe God in a variety of ways that allow for Hindus to appreciate the complexity of the divine.

Q2. Are the Vedas the final scriptural authority for Hindus?
The Vedas should be interpreted in light of modern, scientific standards of rationality.

Q3. Is the social order described in the Laws of Manu relevant for the modern world?
The Laws of Manu describe a different time and are incompatible with modern values, such as democracy and social equality.

Q4. How do you approach myths about Hindu gods and goddesses?
Myths are enjoyable stories, but the essence of Hinduism lies in its philosophical truths.

Q5. What text do you consider the most important for someone who wishes to be Hindu?
No single text captures the essence of Hinduism.

Q6. Do you go to a Hindu temple frequently?
Temples have community functions that people need and enjoy, but I am also interested in other, non-Hindu, religious practices.


Q7. How important are the caste rules of purity and pollution as described in traditional shastras?
Caste rules limit human potential and possibilities.

Q8. Does your home include a puja room or shrine?
Yes. We regularly worship in the home.

Q9. Do you regularly participate in Hindu festivals and holidays?
We participate because we want to celebrate Indian culture or pass along our traditions to our children.

Q10. What is your position on astrology?
Astrology is a minor science in India, not as important as the other great philosophical traditions.

Q11. Would you marry, or allow your children to marry, a non-Hindu?
I think more important than religious affiliation is a common set of interests and values; so yes, possibly.

Q12. What do you consider most essential to being a Hindu?
No one thing. Hinduism means many different things to different people.


The site helpfully added this about me:
You are a traditionalist, staunch in your conviction that the authority of the Vedas (scripture), Shastras (rules of conduct), and Parampara (traditions) contain all that Hindus need to know about how to live. You have great reverence for the past and for tradition. You're most unwilling to cast aside what is tried and true in favor of passing fads or modern interpretations of Hinduism.

 
The Condensed Bob Woodward - Slate reads Plan of Attack so you don't have to. By Bryan Curtis
If u want to have a gud laf.

 
Mars will be a home for humans: Kalam
--------
Quote:
Bangalore: President APJ Abdul Kalam on Wednesday predicted that Mars would become a home for human habitation in the next three decades and Moon a major space industry base.
--------

Seriously? I thought his unquestioning support to the river-linking project suggested a rash penchent for the grandiose...


Wednesday, April 21, 2004
 
India moving ahead with letting Pakis in
Spine-chilling development. India willing to set up "visa camps" to meet the "surging demand" of Pakis to come to India.

 
Rachit's Predictions

Rachit predicts that the NDA would win around 260 seats, and a Congress-led alliance would come to power, though Sonia Gandhi would not be the Prime Minister. The top job would go to Mulayam Singh Yadav.

He also predicts that BJP would lose in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, UP, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh too.

Well, all I can say is that he reads Frontline too much these days. ;-) Note that, by implication, the BJP is set to sweep, according to Rachit, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Sikkim (that has to be so, to account for 260 seats!)


 
Re: A law unto itself

Well, since the article appeared on The Frontline, I would take it with a pinch of salt. However, I am sure that when people like Uma Bharathi are made head of the government, extremist elements are bound to feel energized.

I do not see why it is such an insult to the deities. If you notice, these guys are so intent on humanizing deities - what would be an insult to you, would be an insult to the Deity, which is not really true. They cannot quote a single scripture or philosophical discourse in support of this contention.

One interesting aside... I once co-wrote a skit, along with my cousins, called "Modern Ramayana," where Rama and Sita are portrayed "differently." Sita asks Rama to get her not a deer, but a Maruti car (which was then insanely popular). The skit ends with Rama spraying Ravana with bullets from an AK-47. The entire skit had Tamizh film songs that were altered a bit to suit the situation. It proved quite popular family in my extended family.

 
"Madam, you have already voted"
Boy, am I proud of this lady. And sad for not being able to exercise my franchise :-(.

 
A law unto itself

Ramki,

You were very skeptical of Uma Bharti being the CM. This article raises similar concerns.



 
‘I want Muslim votes too, but wash them in Gangajal first’
I wonder if the PM would step in and rein such people in.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
 


Exit poll results

Caveat: Exit polls have not always been reliable, and sometimes terribly wrong, in predicting poll outcomes. But for now, we can assume they are correct.

The first fact that leaps out at us is that BJP-TDP alliance has performed dismally in AP. But then, most of the 21 seats that went to polls today are in the Telangana region, where Congress ally Telangana Rajya Sangha is strong. In the Andhra and Rayalaseema areas, Congress is alone. Let's see what happens there. Major concern: Has TDP lost in the assembly polls too?

Karnataka is another significant result - BJP will sweep the assembly if it continues the trend. To note is the fact that the areas that have gone to polls are all in Northern and Eastern Karnataka - the so-called Bombay Karnataka and Hyderabad Karnataka regions. The Congress forte of old Mysore is yet to go to polls. Let's see what happens there.

Maharashtra is still a toss-up. One could say that Cong-NCP alliance has not been able to buck the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance. However, again, sub-regional factors come into play. All the constituencies that have gone to polls are in Marathwada and Vidarbha areas. In Vidarbha, especially, the Congress had suffered the loss of important leaders like Vasant Sathe and NKP Salve quitting the party last year (over separate Vidarbha State demand). Western Maharashtra, the traditional stronghold of Cong-NCP combine is yet to go to polls. So, let's wait and watch here too.

Bihar result may be bad news especially for one man - Railway Minister Nitish Kumar, whose Nalanda constituency (till now held by Defence Minister George Fernandes) went to polls in Phase 1.

 
Hope India will permit Pak. entry into ASEAN: Jamali

I'll be damned...

 
CNN.com - Judge: Stop issuing gay marriage licenses - Apr 20, 2004
Ah, those horrible activist judges!! ;-)

Monday, April 19, 2004
 
Behold, the Debate-mongers!

Conservative magazine National Review and quasi-liberal magazine The New Republic have created this new website where staff reporters from both would joust it out. With people like Ramesh Ponnuru (of NR), Andrew Sullivan, it's bound to be delectable debate out there. Enjoy folks! (hat tip: OxBlog)

 
NDTV.com - SC seeks wooden ramps for disabled voters
A laudable move, though I have a question: why only urban areas?

 
Devil's Own Workshop : OutLookIndia.com
Cool article on the state of affairs in Kerala.

Sunday, April 18, 2004
 
Predictions for the coming Indian elections

Here are my predictions:

1. NDA will win - but will lose some seats. It currently has more than 300 seats, but would miss that threshold.
2. Contrary to predictions, TN will not be a walk over for Congress and its ally, DMK. I expect BJP and its ally, Jayalalithaa's AIADMK to pick up at least 15 seats.
3. In UP, we could expect the BJP to win at least 25-30 seats. But the big question is whether they can win more than 40 seats. If they can, and Congress fails to muster more than 10 seats, it could have very grave implications for Congress. If Mulayam get the impression that he has lost a lot of Muslim votes to Congress, he could go over to NDA. But I see very slim chances of this happening, especially given that Congress-BSP alliance did not materialize.
4. Karnataka would be the most important results in these polls. With Hegde out of the picture, BJP on the upswing, if BJP-JD(U) alliance manages to win the southern state, we can expect a much stronger BJP in the coming days. If however, it turns out to be a hung assembly (I would bet on this scenario emerging, contrary to the opinion polls), it would be more Janata Dal gymnastics.
5. BJD-BJP and TDP-BJP alliances would win again in Orissa and AP respectively.
6. Maharashtra could see an even split between the alliances - which would be a big setback for Congress and Sharad Pawar.

Saturday, April 17, 2004
 
CNN.com - Hamas leader killed in Gaza City blast - Apr 17, 2004
Well, my first reaction was, "those who live by the sword, die by the sword." However, I am very worried about the increase in the level of violence in and from the Gaza strip. I wonder how this squares with the unilateral withdrawal plan that Sharon is pushing through. I will write more about the plan itself later.

 
Tamil verse of the day

Not sure what exactly Bharatiar means sometimes. Anyhow here's a nice one from the Tiru Kural on what I think is the importance of relationships:

The world's existence is sustained by kindliness.
The very existence of those bereft of it burdens the earth.

-Tirukkural 58:572

Friday, April 16, 2004
 
Poem of the day

Could not resist another Bharathiar song:
There should be firmness in my heart
and sweetness in my words
and goodness in my thought.
What is near should be attained,

what I dream should be realized....
and should be achieved soon.
I want money, and happiness,
and fame in the world.

The eye should be open,
and my acts should be firm.
I want women liberated,
and the Great God should protect (us).

The soil should be fruitful
and the vast skies (space?) should be seen here
And the Truth should be established
Om. Om. Om.


The Thamizh version:
manadhil urudhi vEndum
vAkkinilE inimai vEndum
ninaivu nalladhu vEndum
nerungina poruL kaippada vEndum

kanavu meippada vEndum
kaivasamAvadhu viraivil vEndum
dhanamum inbamum vEndum
dharaniyilE perumai vEndum

kan thirandhida vEndum
kAriyaththil urudhi vEndum
peN vidudhalai vEndum
periya kadavuL kAkka vEndum

maN payanura vEndum
vAnagam ingu thenpada vEndum
uNmai ninRida vEndum
Om Om Om.


 
To react list

As of now, my list of events/posts to react to stands as follows:

* Sharon's Unilateral Disengagement plan
* Carl's post on Rahul Gandhi
* Vajpayee's statement that not "all of India is shining"
* ANC's win in South Africa, and future of that country


 
The New President of Spain

Spain's elections have concluded, and Zapatero has now been elected the President. The question remains open still - does this mean that America's second most important European ally will part company with the States? It's going to be interesting, and very, very crucial.

 
Is the PM slipping?
Not good... not good at all.

 
MSNBC - Book documents Bush's Iraq war strategy
Bob Woodward's book is expected to be worse for Bush than even Clarke's. Given the wide readership for his previous book "Bush at War," it is likely to have bigger impact too. Luckily for him, though, these are coming out 6 months before the elections.

 
Still not accepted

Hmph... 36 hours gone, and my returns have still not been accepted. I am getting a wierd feeling :-(.

 
The English-to-American Dictionary
As GBS once said, "England and America are two countries separated by the same language."

 
Ash to migrate to Britain? - The Times of India

Blimey!

 
Check this out

 
You Know Who’s Ganguly’s Magic Wand?

This one's for 'The Wall' !

 
Congratulations India on beating Pak !

As I said sometime earlier.. this is the best Indian team ever.. Now we must start looking at 2007-08 by when Saurav, Sachin, Dravid, Laxman and Kumble will all approach retirement.

Rachit.

Thursday, April 15, 2004
 
The New York Times > National > Convictions Dropped for Muslim Chaplain at Guant�namo Bay

A better headline would have been "Another L'affaire Dreyfus." I do not understand this. If he was arrested for espionage, I would expect that they had a little bit of evidence at least that he was upto something as sinister as spying. Then, if they decided that their proof was not strong enough to prove spying, then they could have preferred a related lesser charge - something like conduct unbecoming of a soldier or something. But they could only come up with downloading pornography. Now, let us assume that he was guilty of that crime. How did that lead them to arresting him for espionage?

To add insult to injury, it turns out that even that accusation was false (or unprovable). To make things worse, they now say they are dropping the charges "citing national security concerns that would arise from the release of evidence against him." I am increasingly worried that this term is becoming a fig leaf for covering up so many shameful snafus in the government.

Okay, suppose, national security is the reason, I would presume the case should be espionage (Or does accessing porn really threaten national security now?). If so, why are they not putting him up before a court marshal? If they cannot do that, why? If, one day, they catch a real spy, are they going to let go of him simply because they cannot try him?

I think it's clear... they screwed up, and now are covering up by using the most popular bugaboo of this administration.

Shame!



 
Outing Out magazine - The Washington Times: Editorials/OP-ED: "...his life is in shambles: He was recently arrested for DWI; he's writing bad checks on a closed bank account; he dropped out of school a year ago; he doesn't have a job; he bounces from house to house; he's racked-up huge bills for friends and family that he cannot pay; he's been taken to court by former friends to get money he owes them; he's lied to friends, saying his "famous dad" was going to send money to pay his debts; and he has a trail of wrecked friendships and family relationships"

Well... I do not get it. In the first part, Terry Randall whines on and on about the son selling the family privacy for cash. And then, he goes on to list all his alleged misdemeanors on a news paper with a much wider readership than Out magazine. Hipocrisy at its best.
BTW, if Randall is ready to pay for "Love in Action," and his son wants to go to it so badly, why is he not there right now? Ummm.... am I missing something here?

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
 
Huge Arms haul in BD

Huge arms haul intrigues India

NEW DELHI: The firepower involved may be enough to keep an army brigade in fighting fettle for a year, but one week after the chance discovery near Chittagong of a massive illegal arms shipment, Indian and Bangladeshi officials have no idea who shipped the weapons or whom they were intended for.

The fact that the Bangladesh coast has emerged as a major point for arms smuggling is known, but the nature of last week's arms seizure has sent intelligence officials in India reeling.

"1290 AK-47s, 1.1 million rounds, 25,020 grenades, 840 rockets - we've never seen anything remotely this big before," an official said.

Officials said that there was no way any one insurgent group in the region - not Ulfa, not the Nepal Maoists - could afford to pay for the shipment by themselves.

 
Re: New alternative to Congress will emerge

Possible, and I hope it happens. (1) Congress and the Old Lefti must die. (2) The BJP, particularly a certain segment of its support base, must not be allowed to have a free run.

The disheartening and tragic part is that the worthies among the Congressmen have met untimely deaths in the recent past.

 
New alternative to Congress will emerge

Very interesting thought...possible?

 
Beer goggles in Bollywood

Very very good and timely article.

 
Inspiring Poem of the Day

Umm... dunno if I will keep doing it. But lemme start.

Today's is from Bharathiar....

"What I seek to do, should get done,
And I should always seek to do what is good.

I should have a determined heart,
and I should have a clear mind.

All the sins I have done should,
as snow in face of the sun,
evaporate in Your glorious presence, Mother."


For those interested, the Tamizh Version is

"eNNiya mudidhal vENdum
nallavE eNNal vEndum
thiNNiya nenjam vEndum
theLLiya nal aRivu vEndum
paNNiya pAvam ellAm
paridhi mun paniyE pOla
naNNiya nin mun ingu
nasindhidal vEndum annAi"


 
Dravid helps India win test series

Now I didn't know that the series had been decided !

 
Four more shot in Saudi Arabia
This is a very significant, and potentially dangerous, development. This too comes with a silver lining, though. It's that finally, the status quo in the Arab states is being challenged. Whether the opposition takes the form of liberalism or fundamentalism, as long as there is an opposition, status quo is rendered unmaintainable.
Such violence in a Saudi city is, to my knowledge, unheard of. May be, this will push the establishment towards a more liberalized system, at least as a reactionary measure.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
 
Opinion poll South India Assemblies

BJP's ascend.. will the dream come true??

 
This n that

Happy taraNa to you too. And happy Navroz also. Navroz (Parsi/Persian new year was a week or so ago).

Guys, I expected SOME comment on this Rahul Gandhi controversy. The first pic was a propoganda pamphlet. But I had to personally scan the pages from the book! :)

Ramki, that IQ test is bogus. IQ tests are specific to an age-group, whereas this one didn't ask for any age-group info. It gave me an IQ result that was flattering and called me a "Visionary Philosopher"!

 
What type am I?

This is a very good site that gives ur IQ, and a bunch of other analyses about ur mind.... I found that their analysis are generally correct (and I crosschecked it by sending some of my reports to my close friends). You could pay $12.99 and take a load of other tests and get very detailed reports.

BTW, in one particular test (the Super IQ test), they classified people into these categories: Linguistic Architect, Analytic Detective, Creative Theorist, Complex Intellectual, Conceptual Synthesizer, Numerical Logician, Concrete Thinker, Information Organizer, Intuitive Interpreter, Detail Specialist, Practical Wordsmith, Imaginative Mastermind, Visual Linguist, Original Thinker, Intuitive Investigator

As much as I would have wanted to be a Numerical Logician or Creative Theorist, I happen to be an Intuitive Investigator.

Another result: turns out, Rachit has more IQ than I do :((.

Inspite of that result, I heartily recommend that site.

 
Puththaandu Nalvaazhthukkal

Today is the born the New Year according to the Thamizh calendar. This year is called "thAraNa".

Wish you all a Happy New Year!

 
President's Meet-the-press

The President, George W. Bush, would meet the press today to address questions on Iraq, and the PDB from the intelligence agencies warning him of al-Qaeda presence in the US before 9/11. An unrelated factoid: Today is April 13th, the "Blame Somebody Else Day." Too bad we cannot get him to talk on April 30th.

Monday, April 12, 2004
 
>Hmph! In all this "flaying," how come Rahul Gandhi did not say just what is qualification is?! :)

Because his claims have always been vague. Here are the VARIOUS claims being made about this guys' scholarship, supported by an eager section of the media:



Apart from this, we have the unsettling revelation being made in a book by a Russian author, that Rahul accepted huge amounts of money from the KGB while he was "studying" in the USA. This is the book, available in Russian and English from our own libraries here:



Here is an important excerpt:



Here is the useful reference from which the author got her information, just for the record:



This is of immense significance, firstly because of the corruption angle, and secondly as solid evidence of how the pinkos had penetrated the Indian political system for such a long time. Lastly, here's a picture of our half-Indian retard with his Colombian girlfriend. The expression on his face is worth a million $$:



Sunday, April 11, 2004
 
NDTV.com - Rahul flays Mahajan for his remark
Hmph! In all this "flaying," how come Rahul Gandhi did not say just what is qualification is?! :)

 
NDTV.com - Injured Jogi flown to Mumbai
Talk of evanescence of life! Sorry for Jogi. On a separate note, teh Mahasamund election will be very interesting now, given that Jogi is contesting against former Union Minister and Cong leader S.C.Shuklas's brother V.C.Shukla.

Saturday, April 10, 2004
 
Women who clean their homes...
Bachelors, take note!

 
Newindpress.com - Will Rajni go saffron?

There has been a talk of the AIADMK-BJP front taking a beating in TN. I was, and am, not too enthused about BJP's born-again alliance with Amma. IMO, BJP should have dared going it alone and tried picking up one or two seats. May be it would have lost all seats... but it would have built some credibility. If Rajni had come out earlier, may be, BJP would have dared do it. I am not very sure how much of weightage Rajni's endorsement would carry... though we can safely assume that PMK would face some more hardships.

I am too skeptical abt the DMK alliance. Karunanidhi has become too outdated, and it's time for him to leave the stage. However, the successor to MK should be Vaiko, not Stalin. Sure, Stalin has some good administrative record to show, but it is Vaiko who has the greater stature and maturity to lead the state. Some folks have hesitation in supporting Vaiko because of his support for the LTTE. They should bear in mind that every leader on this side of the Gulf of Mannar, be it Indira Gandhi or Rajiv, MGR or Karunanidhi, has supported the LTTE at some point of time or the other. The Eelam issue is quite sentimental to this day in TN, though the support for LTTE itself has waned. Vaiko has not done anything outside the pale of the law in support of LTTE. Providing support for LTTE could be wrong, and illegal, when it is a banned orgn. However, arguing for a lifting of the ban should not be... which is what he was arrested for. I personally have some respect for the man. Let's see if he keeps it.

More on the TN sitn later.

Friday, April 09, 2004
 
"West Indies now have only their pride to salvage, but Chanderpaul aside, they have put their faith in the batsmen who let them down in Barbados. The solitary change to a squad of 13 is the introduction of the local boy, Sylvester Joseph.
Joseph, 25, toured Australia with the senior squad three years ago, and has four ODI appearances under his belt, but he has yet to play a Test. He did, however, stake his claim with a decent performance in the recent warm-up game in Barbados, scoring 36 and 50 for a Carib Beer XI against England's second-string attack. "


It's a sad state of affairs for this once great team. A score of 36 and 50 is good enough to get into the squad. Given its propensity to get out for scores of less than 100, maybe an average of 43 for a match is indeed a decent performance !

 
CRPF assaults Shaurya Chakra winner: "it involves America"
What kind of a cockamamie BS is that? This incident is highly condemnable, and needs to be investigated.

While we are at it, let me relate an incident that happened when I was walking near the consulate in Chennai the other day.... there was this humorous ad on teh banner opposite the consulate, and I took a picture of that. One constable came and asked me not to take pictures. I apologized (as it is an understandable security measure), offered my home address, phone number, and showed him my Ohio licence for proof. Remember, all these were done voluntarily.

Then came the part that irritated me the most - an 'inspector' walked in, and the constable related the incident to his superior. The inspector then sagely adviced me that I should not take pictures anywhere in Tamil Nadu without first informing a cop nearby! Now, surely, this is an overkill. What irritated me the most was that just a couple of days before this incident, I was taking pictures inside - take this - the Colombo airport! I challenge any one to argue that the Marina beach is more threatened than the Bandarnaike Airport. For most cops, this is just a way of displaying their authority - an immaculate display of the overwhelming behemoth that we call government in India.

 
Bofors !

Its time we got over Bofors. Lets get on with things and let her be.

 
US refuses entry to British woman who said her parents were Indian - Newindpress.com
There are times when I really wonder whether this country is shooting itself in the foot in the name of security. Sure, Sept 11 was shocking, and a terrible one at that. But, going paranoid with security would only make the world think, "well, welcome to the real world. hehehe..." And the glee in that hehehe is not good for America.

 
China's missive to Pak: Build bridges with India - Newindpress.com
Intriguing... and hopefully true. India should still be cautious abt the close cooperation between the two countries. It is very natural that they come together, given their strategic interests, which especially involve India.

 
Daily online newspaper: The Christian Science Monitor: "Kashmir explosion kills nine, wounds 56"

I am not sure whether I missed it yesterday (I did not read news yesterday)... but I do not see this reported in any Indian news site today. Why?

 
US wants road between India, Afghanistan
Interesting... I have one question though. It is a well known fact that India is going to build the Chahbahar port in the Baloch region of Iran to promote the trade with Central Asia (and to foil the under-construction Gwadar port of Pakistan). What would the effect of this road, which seems to be an easier access route, be on that project?

Wednesday, April 07, 2004
 
Re: Lanka

AFAIK India already cut a deal with the US about letting the Amroos use Trincomalee.

 
>This necessarily means one thing - India is looking beyond Pakistan when it comes to the relationship with the US.

That's because we have no choice. Every development must be looked at in the context of the STRATEGIC CONCERT in Asia, involving China, US, India and Russia. For instance, while the furore about Pak-MNNa status was raging, the Chinese Defence minister (or whatever) Cai Gongchuan visited and met with George.

 
The new Lankan PM wants India to play an active role in Lanka's peace process. The Indian Express has an online poll on whether India should do so.
The current results are
Yes 45.97
No 50.28
Can't Say 3.73

Personally, I am very ambivalent on the issue. On one side is the immense human tragedy. On the other is the question of whether India can do something there, without just becoming a scapegoat for either (or both) sides, taking the blame for a fresh bloodletting. Then there is the most important question of Trinconmalee. In my opinion, India should never allow any other power access to this ultra-strategic port - something that is very much possible if we do not show any interest in the Lankan issue.

 
US anti-terror units being trained in India - Newindpress.com

It is interesting that pinpricks such as the Non-NATO Ally status for Pakistan have not translated into big setbacks in Indo-US relations. This necessarily means one thing - India is looking beyond Pakistan when it comes to the relationship with the US. The question then is, will the US reciprocate?

 
US bombs mosque in Fallujah, 40 dead

This is interesting stuff. Unabashed retaliation, very different from the psychology of the Indian army. Quote:
"We wanted to kill the people inside," Marine Lieutenant�Colonel Brennan Byrne told reporters.
Unquote
will be interesting to see the psychological implications of this.

 
Two-front insurgency

I hate this 'we must' 'we should' kind of articles. He makes it sound so matter of fact and simplistic.



 
Fiefdooms : OutLookIndia.com
This ain't no habitual liberal-wailing... this article details, with many numbers to backup, the terrible conditions prevailing in the constituencies of our so-called leaders. Question then is, just why do we not kick the habit of being awe-struck by them? Is it just illiteracy? Or is it something more cultural than that?

Tuesday, April 06, 2004
 
VIP Constituencies

And India is shining ! No wonder ABV doesnt use Bharat Uday in his speeches any longer. Why do people keep voting the same people over and over again despite the fact that the reps have not performed well? Any thoughts?

 
TheStar.com - Military cadet makes history with wedding
I was laughing really, really hard when I was done reading this. Canada seems like a different world.
I would have been really skeptical abt a marriage like this (three months of dating, and they are ready at 20??), and I am about this. But hey, All the Best to 'em! (Okay, I have done enuf to Carl for today ;) ). (hat tip, Andy Sullivan)

Monday, April 05, 2004
 
Whom does Ganguly replace in the third test?

With Yuvraj's century lots of discussions in the press about this point. My personal view - let Ganguly replce Yuvraj. Yes, Yuvi was in the reserves before this match. With Saurav returning, Yuvi has to make way, his century notwithstanding. Its not fair to drop Aakash Chopra. If he is retained, he will play as if his life depended on it. For once, its a problem of choice !

 
Sharon Backs Away from Pledge Not to Harm Arafat

This next strike seems very likely.. and this could be the most dangerous for the region and for the world.

 
800,000 cards overcharged at Wal-Marts

Anyone who conducted a transaction with a Visa or Mastercard on March 31 should check their statements.

 
Jew

Just doing my part to fight anti-semitism. Hat tip, OxBlog

 
Safire: The Floo Floo Bird

I am not sure I get what Safire is saying here. Is he saying that we have to consider the past, past, and get ahead with the war on terror? If so, that is not correct. The problem with the Bush administration is that they have not, to date, understood the fundamentally different nature of this war. They run it like it were another Cold War... except, terrorism is replaced by Islamism. But then, during the Cold War, there was the USSR that was the face of Communism. Targeting USSR was targetting Communism. But that is not the case with terrorism. Terrorism's strength is precisely that - it does not need, or have, a face. This war cannot be run like the last Cold War. But Bush people are trying to do just that. They try to invent faces to terror in states such as Iraq and Syria. There are times when I wonder if the entire WoT till now is just a zoetrope of actions against individual (possibly just putative) state sponsors of terror, which is not quite enough. That approach is what is being questioned now.

Contrary to popular belief, Bush administration has done precious little when it comes to security of American homeland. They have not been focussing on where they need to focus when it comes to internal security. Their essential message is, "We'll take care. Trust us. You can relax." That is not true. They cannot take care completely, we cannot blindly trust them, and we cannot relax. The people in the United States need to be aware of just what this entails, and Bush has not done that.

More than any other country, the United States can evolve a more global answer to this problem - something like a Geneva Conventions. Sure, the Geneva Conventions have not stopped war crimes - and they may never do so. But then there is no law that is not ever broken. It is undeniable that Geneva Conventions have become a standard, and those who break those rules do so at their own peril.

There is no such standard to test just what amounts to terrorism, and what is genuine resistance against tyranny. Bush's solution to this question is, "we will know it is terrorism when we see it." That is not quite an acceptable definition, and to many, looks suspiciously like a way of pushing American agenda on the world by branding the vulnerable enemies sponsors of terror deserving unilateral action. There is no way we are going to evolve anything resembling wide consensus against terror, even among democratic nations.

 
Sonia Gandhi - SoniaGandhi.org

I was amused by this site.

The biography makes to suspect that author is being sarcastic. The "Track Record" page has nothing but some "polical tough talk." Should we take that to mean she has only statements to show?

Most of all, the policies page is quite telling.

Thursday, April 01, 2004
 
Newindpress.com - PM frowns at own photos in Vision Document
What a break! :)


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