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proloybagchi
A threatened Ramsar Site
2012.01.31 22:26:20

One can be reasonably sure that on the 2nd of February next the ministers concerned of the government of the Central Indian province of Madhya Pradesh will mouth some platitudes about conservation of the Upper Lake and its adjunct the Lower Lake which together constitute Bhoj Wetland. In practice however, the local officialdom is more concerned about its “development” and by that they mean providing means for attracting more and more visitors to its shores or to its close proximity. Conservation is a word which does not seem to figure in their lexicon in so far as this fantastic natural asset of Bhopal is concerned, particularly when it is a Ramsar Site – a wetland of international importance, the only one in the state.



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proloybagchi
Hunger and riches in 'incredible India'
2012.01.31 22:20:11

A national daily presented the other day two contrasting pictures of India. On its front page were the findings of a research indicating the extent of hunger and malnourishment in the country and in one of the inside pages was a report on the explosion on its roads with millions of private vehicles causing traffic jams in its urban centres.



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deboldt
The King of Love is dead
2012.01.17 03:18:37

On this Martin Luther King Day it is good to remember the unseemly truth behind the pompous posturing. All the inflated homage to the "I have a dream" secretly veils the real relief of our public officials who thank their gods that there remains no seer, prophet or revolutionary thinker left that can match the vision and the strategic intelligence of the man who called out the conscience of a nation and died at the hands of our government for his trouble. 



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proloybagchi
India - a subcontinental refuge
2011.12.23 15:04:58

A group of 140 overstaying Pakistani Hindus have expressed the desire to remain in India and make Delhi their home. They came to India from Sindh on tourist visa and for fear of being targeted are afraid to go back. With visas expired, they live in utter penury in Majnu Ka Tila in Delhi and have only one appeal for the Government of India that their visas should be extended. They would also like the government to provide them proper accommodation. These people from 27 families waited for years for their visas and were so desperate that once they got them they walked across to India. According to them they always felt unsafe in their own country and were subjected to discrimination. Not only they had no religious freedom, their children were ill-treated in schools, i.e. if they were allowed to join one. Always being told to convert to Islam, they would like to give up their home country and live in India, they said, just as numerous Bangladeshis, Nepalese and Tibetans live here.

They are mistaken if they think they are the only Pakistani Hindus who want to permanently make their home in India. Before them, hundreds and thousands of them came here with or without valid visas and never went back. And, all of them did not come only at the time of partition. Off and on, whenever, there were atrocities against Hindus, India would see an influx of Sindhi Hindus from Pakistan. A large number of them came after the 1971 War that resulted in dismemberment of Pakistan, arousing in it great antipathy for India and, of course, local Hindus. Even in normal times the process of ethnic cleansing has been continuing. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are two states which seem to have been receiving them in large numbers. In fact, the two states have been welcoming them more or less with open arms, presumably, for political gains. They constitute a solid vote bank for the BJP. An August 2011 report said that around 3500 Sindhis who migrated more than a decade ago on long-tem visas and residing in Madhya Pradesh are still awaiting citizenship. If anything, this is a great under-statement. There are far, far more than 3500 Sindhis in the state. Many of them have merged with the local population without observing official niceties and have established themselves in business.

Those now camping in Majnu ka Tila are right when they say numerous Bangladeshi and Nepalese are also living in India. Hindu Bangladeshi refugees always made a beeline for India whenever they were subjected to atrocities. Their numbers were never accurately determined but it is estimated that a million came post partition, another million in 1950s and around 5 million in 1960s, most came after the 1965 war with India. During the struggle for independence in 1970-71 about 10 million East Pakistani Hindus crossed over to India to avoid a veritable genocide. Not all of them went back; around 1.5 million are estimated to have stayed back.

But there has been no respite for India even after Bangladesh came into being. Migration, in fact infiltration, into India has been continuing and, currently, 20 million illegal Bangladeshis, mostly Muslims, are reportedly in residence in India. There is practically no state in Upper India which does not have their colonies.  They have swamped several districts of Assam and border districts of West Bengal changing their demographics. In Assam as many as six districts now have Muslims in majority and in two in West Bengal. In Assam a violent socio-political movement was launched for their eviction.  While the porous borders have helped easy accessibility, poor enforcement and rampant corruption has ensured the illegal immigrants to avail of the benefits they are not entitled to. Their presence in large numbers, largely by design, especially in the states of West Bengal and Assam (where their number is reported to be 5 million out of 26 million) has given rise to fears of Islamic fundamentalism and consequential security threats to India. There have been frequent reports of these illegal immigrants promoting the idea of a “Greater Bangladesh” inclusive of the Indian states of West Bengal and Assam.

The case of Nepalese in India, however, is entirely different. They are here in pursuance of the Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty of 1950. Each, seemingly, fell into other’s lap out of fear on the emergence of the Red Dragon on their northern borders. The rise of Communist China in 1949 and its subsequent invasion of Tibet heightened their security concerns. Under the Treaty, Nepalese citizens in India have all the rights of an Indian citizen and they do not require visas to enter India, except a valid identification card while entering India by air. Both countries have also agreed to grant, on a reciprocal basis in each other’s territories, the same privileges in the matter of residence, ownership of property, participation in trade and commerce, etc. Curiously, however, while the citizens of Nepal have been exercising the rights granted under the Treaty Indians have not only have to have visas for entering Nepal but also are prevented under Nepalese laws to own and acquire property in Nepal. An estimated 10 million Nepalese are, as a consequence, residing and working in India, doing all kinds of jobs, including in the public and private sectors and in the Army, strengthening their country’s economy by remittances – largely informal – which amount to approximately 10% of its GDP.

Although the Nepalese find the 1950 Treaty unequal, strategic concerns apart, it appears to be highly unfavourable to India. The open borders between the two countries have allowed Nepalese to flood the country and take away from the locals millions of jobs in formal and informal sectors and share the resources that are increasingly becoming scarce. Besides, the open borders have been freely used by the Pakistani jihadists to spread mayhem and chaos in the country. While Nepal exports its so-called labour as a national policy, illegal Bangladeshis are plain and simple intruders having no right to be in India in such large numbers. Sadly, the Centre has hardly made any effort to prevent their ingress and has made, if at all, very feeble efforts to send them back. Even a rich country like the US adopts a very uncompromising attitude against those who breach its frontiers. Pakistan, on the other hand, is solving its communal problem by easing out its unwanted Hindus in hundreds and thousands. India, however has never taken up with Pakistan the question of crude treatment meted out to its Hindus even though President Musharraf during a press conference in Delhi had the audacity to make a comment about treatment in Indian Muslims. Surely he was aware that India hosted far more Muslims than Pakistan. He was, however, put in his place by one Maulana Madani who happened to be present at the meeting.

This is not all. Apart from millions of Pakistani Hindus, Nepalese and Bangladeshis, there are a few thousand foreigners including Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who have overstayed their visas having entered the country with valid documents. Add to that hundreds and thousands of Tibetan, Afghan, Sri Lankan and Burmese refugees to complete the picture. In India’s 1.2 billion people its neighbours have, thus, made the substantial contribution of close to 10%. Had the country – virtually a sub-continental refuge – not been weighed down by these foreigners, its economic profile perhaps would have been far different.



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deboldt
Moral Conservati​ve Zizek?
2011.12.09 07:34:40

For me the definitive pronouncement on Newt Gingrich was made recently by Slovenian philosopher, .  (Note: this is a transcript of a spoken conversation.)



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deboldt
Tom Selleck in Zuccotti Park?
2011.11.07 10:10:27

Does art imitate life or is it the other way around?

“The policeman isn’t there to create disorder; the policeman is there to preserve disorder.”  Mayor Richard J. Daley

“A primary purpose of the police is to enforce the delusions of those with lots of pieces of green paper.”  Derrick Jensen

“(NYC police) officers rob banks. They collude with drug dealers. They pilfer credit cards from prisoners to buy groceries, and they take payoffs from street peddlers as protection money. Sex is often at the center of their sins….While it has been years since the last major scandal, there is no shortage of individual misconduct cases.”  NYT March 28, 2010



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Archie
The Cult of Capitalism
2011.11.04 05:17:54

Strive to be an oddball and to think for yourself. To be ‘normal’ in the modern, western world is to be psychologically sick. We are products of our environment and the environment of capitalism is no longer a healthy one. In fact, it is no longer capitalism. It has graduated into monopolism. The ideology of psychopathic corporatism along with its values and priorities has an impact on most individuals if not all. We must understand how the sickness creeps into our psyche and how it affects us.

The average life consists of running on the wage-slave treadmill in order to avoid the destitution of not only ourselves, but of our loved ones as well. If only we could build up our own little fortress against the ravages of the future, we will have made it to safety. In the process we build up a mentality of competitiveness against our neighbour rather than a cooperative relationship with the community of trust and mutual collaboration. We learn instead to take pleasure in the misfortune of others and to feel angst when we notice evidence of our neighbours success.

The Dali Lama said that the way to true happiness is through compassion for others. We cannot be happy as long as we are selfish. But when we genuinely put the happiness and well being of others over our own, we can find happiness. It sounds like some cosmic trickery but when you think about it, you know beyond any doubt it’s true. Grasping for ‘me’ can only lead to jealousy, aggression, anger and dissatisfaction. Caring for others can take us out of our small alienated world and to direct contact with other people. In an atmosphere of insecurity and possible financial devastation, it is difficult for people to think that way.

The root of our modern malaise is alienation. 

We use language, sex, and work to connect with each other. In each case, we escape our existential aloneness and share subjective experience with another human being. It is that existential aloneness that is the driving force behind our activity.

We know on some level that our thoughts are illusory. There is no substance to these flighty bubbles of fantasy. Our human tendency from thought is toward affirmation that our private world is not alone. But in the world of conceptualization and thinking sense we are alone and that presents us with a problem. Our response to this problem is to share our subjective experience with others. That is the natural human way and it is human just as building dams is the beaver way, or building webs is the spider way. Speaking and cooperative work are defining human activities.

Through work, we share our inner ideas with others through operating on the outer environment. As I write this I share my own inner world and when you read it, the process of work has taken place. When we work and especially when we work in the company of others and work together on the same thing, we share our inner life and when we see the ideas of others, we ‘see’ inside their thoughts. We can see how the mind of another is working just as you, the reader, can see inside my thoughts as you read this.

Two important things happen at that point. First, we share our inner world. We act upon the world and other human beings can appreciate what we’ve done. When they do, they appreciate me and that appreciation is beyond ego tripping. It is communion. Secondly, through work we share common goals with other people. We work together for each other whether we build a structure of wood or knit a blanket. We act upon the natural world from the ghostly world of thoughts and in the process we give substance to our flighty reality of thinking.

But something has happened along the way. Work has been appropriated by an alien force. When that appropriation occurred, the inner life of ‘me’ was rendered inconsequential.

Now the workers inner life has been completely severed from the process of work. The worker works for somebody else. It is the initiative and the will of a coercive force that guides the process of work for the worker. The important ingredients of inner will and initiative have been lost. Most importantly, control of the process of work has been lost.

Now the worker is told when to work, what will be done and what will be produced. The worker does this not to manufacture objects or services, but to get money to survive. He or she does it to manufacture even more money for his or her owner. Rather than using tools within his own field of initiative, he is a tool within somebody else’s field of initiative. He finds no joy in work and instead lives only to escape from it. What was the human expression of his or her self is now the bane of his existence, his nemesis. He lives for the weekend or the evening or for vacation. He lives for the pension.

The study of human development indicates and suggests that healthy human development depends on meeting different needs at different stages. The infant needs tactile stimulation and nourishment, the toddler needs structure and so on. There is nothing to suggest that these needs ever go away but they do become less salient though the process. And in our journey toward optimal development, initiative is a cornerstone. We build up toward initiative early on and build upon it once we achieve an inner sense of it. Stripping human beings of initiative is tantamount to stripping us of our human potential.

The values and ethics of the most dominant forces have a tendency to find their way to the majority. If the individual is valued not as a mother or father, not as a friend or lover, not as a human being, but instead is valued as an object of work and not valued in terms of use value but instead in terms of exchange value, this will have a significant impact on the identity of the individual. Further, the outward display of exchange value may become the highest priority. Status symbols such as new cars and big homes come to represent ‘who I am’ replacing substantial qualities such as kindness, community spirit or intelligence in work. The world of substantial human contact is reduced and the world of facades and masks take over. The world of shared subjectivity is replaced with a world of crass objectification.

Popular and mainstream media contribute to instilling and propping up values that otherwise would be suggestive of psychopathology. They worship idols with glib and superficial charm, self centered ego-maniacs, economic parasites, blatant liars, con artists, and so on. We learn to worship the Trumps, the Murdochs, the self serving psychopaths, the merchants and the movie stars.

The impact of capitalism on our individual identity affects us directly thorough the organization of the work process and through the larger cultural milieu as well. And it is through the formation of identity that we develop out ideological sense of values and priorities.

In this process, we learn to sacrifice our lives to acquire more stuff and better stuff than those around us. We aspire to be like those at the top of the heap. We spend our lives housed in our suburban tombs and rather than living life, we watch television. We virtually live our virtual lives and are alienated from our work, our peers and all too often, from our families and ourselves. Too blind to see our malaise, too brainwashed within the cult of capitalism, we push our children to do exactly the same thing.

And in the end we can look back on our lives and remember all the great shows we watched on television; the great virtual escape from alienation.



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proloybagchi
The great Indian ferment
2011.10.25 16:22:13

India these days seems to be in ferment. If one picks up a newspaper one gets hit by headlines that certainly do not bode well for the country, at least, not in its immediate future. While one can discern a severe churning taking place in the country’s social, political and economic life, the government, at the same time, is largely perceived to be drifting along.



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proloybagchi
Indian iconic lake under threat
2011.10.08 18:53:43

Bhopal, the capital of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, could have been such a beautiful city. It was endowed with everything a place could aspire for – green hills and valleys, several lakes and a few small gurgling streams. Climatically it was bordering on the ideal – equable, with mild summers, plenty of rains and moderate winters. All that has been lost because of “development”, now a dreaded word for those who are sensitive about the city’s environment that they have seen progressively deteriorating. The unrestricted urban expansion has been gobbling up the surrounding farmlands, colonising the green hills, transforming the city’s streams into sewers and its lakes into septic tanks. The developmental assault on the city’s iconic millennium-old Upper Lake, a drinking water source for the locals for centuries, unmindful of its vital importance for the city’s environment, water security and green cover.



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proloybagchi
In Soviet-occupied Kabul
2011.09.16 18:41:11

In April 1983 I happened to go to Kabul on a Universal Postal Union (UPU) consultancy with the Postal Administration of Afghanistan. I got a rather short notice as I was told about the assignment only in the third week of March. Although Afghanistan was not really stable with the mujahideen resisting the Soviet occupation, yet there was no way one could say “no”, having been trained by the UPU to function as a consultant. Besides, we all believed in the concept of Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC).



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proloybagchi
The Indian 'Class of 2011'
2011.09.07 19:39:42

The current year has been a year of protests. The “Jasmine Revolution” of Tunisia was the beginning of it all. It was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations and strikes by professionals that culminated in the ousting of long-time President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. The demonstrations were precipitated by high unemployment, food inflation, corruption, lack of fundamental freedoms and poor living conditions.



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proloybagchi
Demise of India's small change
2011.07.21 17:32:26

The Indian central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, had been making quite a song and dance about the 25 Paise coins ceasing to become legal tender from the 30th June this year. It had been asking people to exchange them for equivalent amount of currency. A report the other day said only a little more than a hundred thousand rupees worth of these coins had been deposited in the banks in Bhopal till the 30th June.

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deboldt
Let's not forget the reason for this holiday
2011.07.04 00:03:45

Bradley ManningOn Monday when you are slathering on the sunscreen (A & B), chomping into your third hot dog and opening your second beer, pause and remember for a moment the man who is making it all possible.



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proloybagchi
Kashmir in environmental peril
2011.07.02 19:26:32

As the plane came to a halt at the Srinagar Airport one of the cabin crew denied us exit from the rear door. She said passengers had to go out through the front door as the Airport had an aerobridge. Surprised, I thought to myself that through the twenty-odd years of militancy the process of development in Kashmir had mercifully not been discontinued. It said much about the Centre’s patience with the turmoil that persisted all around in the Valley as also its belief in the efficacy of improvements in physical conditions on the ground. Perhaps, these were paying off now as this year Kashmir, seemingly, broke all previous records of tourists’ arrival. Our plane flew with a full load of passengers. It was not the only one; many more were flying in everyday as a result of the government’s “open skies” policy.



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timgatto
Responsibility, Accountability and 'The Slippery Slope'
2011.06.30 10:41:32

Why we are seeing this nation sabotage itself in almost every way possible... economically, politically and morally? Perhaps the simple truth is that the idea of responsibility has become something that people in this country don’t want to talk about.

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timgatto
Foreign Aid and the Economic Crisis
2011.06.29 00:10:51

From The Heritage Foundation, a Conservative Think-Tank:

“Abstract: Since 2000 about 95 percent of U.N. member states that receive U.S. assistance have voted against the United States most of the time in the U.N. General Assembly on non-consensus votes. The U.S. should inform aid recipients that their support--or lack of support--for U.S. priorities in the U.N. and other international organizations will directly affect future decisions on allocating U.S. assistance. In order to strengthen and broaden support for America's policies in the U.N., the U.S. should also seek to build coalitions of like-minded nations that are firmly committed to political and economic freedom. Over the long term, U.S. aid could facilitate the expansion of these coalitions by encouraging more countries to become freer, both politically and economically”.



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deboldt
Response to a letter from Michael Moore
2011.05.13 04:45:14

NY Post Headline

Response to “Some Final Thoughts on the Death of Osama bin Laden ...a letter from Michael Moore”

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=439x1089678

Even though I disagree with some of his background analysis, he really makes the most vital, important points that should be made about the assassination of bin Laden.  Michael Moore is our last great prophet crying in a political, social, intellectual and spiritual wilderness more profound and enduring than Eliot’s Wasteland.  He cries out for a restoration of an America that never really was. He and the bones of the dead cry for justice in an America that has forever abandoned even the old pretence of justice.  Like our now lost earthly environment and all the creatures we have extincted, Justice in America can never be restored.  All we will ever know between now and the end will be vengeance, power, violence and death.  That is all the demonstrators in front of the White House that Sunday night were celebrating.  That was the message of all the nationalistic hysteria (a combination of sports victory and Nuremberg rally) that took place at Ground Zero.


In Peace, Love & Rage,

Bob Boldt



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deboldt
'That's not who we are'
2011.05.05 14:42:49

I am willing to grudgingly admit that Obama “got his man.”  Of course, I still stick to my motto, “Never believe anything our government says until it has been officially denied.”  What I objected to primarily was the part of his statement referring to the death photo of Osama, “That’s not who we are…You know, we don’t trot out this stuff as trophies.” 



Tags: Barack Obama | Abu Ghraib | Bradley Manning

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deboldt
That Damned Bitch Hope…
2011.04.22 03:37:09

I am beginning to get a different take on the old clichés concerning the desirability of hope. It all began for me with Greek writer, Nikos Kazantzakis’ epitaph, “I fear nothing, I hope for nothing, I am free.” Of course its appearance on his tomb gives it perhaps an ironic, unintended meaning, not unlike the mocking inscription on the base of Ozymandias’ statue in Shelly’s famous sonnet. Of course, Kazantzakis wrote his famous epigram while still alive and kicking.



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proloybagchi
Indian cricket on overdrive
2011.04.09 19:47:56

It has almost been like carpet bombing – the media hype during the recent International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup of one-day internationals that was recently played out in the Indian sub-continent. The “bombing” was intensified just before the India-Pakistan semi-final played at Mohali, near Chandigarh.

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