Saturday, December 5

Israel shrugs off boycott effort

I have written quite often that I find the boycott Israel efforts by the seriously brain damaged morons in the unions and other places in western society completely stupid. I mean, it doesnt do anything, doesnt change public policy, does not impact the actual facts on the ground and worst of all, actually screws up the principles of the bodies themselves (so when are these unions going to talk about China, for example? and when they dont, they clearly show that they are anti Semitic). Here’s another story on this. I quote:

…..But she concedes that the movement has few concrete results to show for its efforts so far.

That perception is shared on the Israeli side, where economists and business leaders say they have yet to register an impact on exports, growth and investment. Even Israel’s fruit growers and exporters, by far the most visible target for consumers outside the country, say they have not noticed any drop in demand for political reasons.

“In my experience, this is a marginal phenomenon at best,” says Ilan Eshel, the chief executive of the Israeli Fruit Growers’ Association. “It is simply a question of supply and demand: if avocados and mangos are missing in Europe, they take our avocados and mangos.”

Activists such as Ms Hunter stress that applying economic pressure to Israel was never expected to yield results in the short term. “Our model is [the campaign against apartheid-era] South Africa. But people forget that the boycott campaign didn’t happen overnight. It took time.”

On the face of it, the make-up of the Israeli economy should indeed render it acutely vulnerable to boycotts and divestment campaigns. More than most other countries, Israel relies on exports – which account for about 40 per cent of gross domestic product – to fuel economic growth and jobs. The country’s much-admired technology and software industry, meanwhile, is heavily dependent on venture capital funding from abroad, in particular the US.

Yet experts argue that looking at Israel’s reliance on foreign buyers, suppliers and financiers alone is not enough. “Yes, you can boycott Israeli oranges and dates. But what Israel is really good at is providing inputs into other products. That means if you want to boycott Israeli goods, you have to boycott computers and cellphones altogether,” says Dan Catarivas, the director of foreign trade at the Israeli Manufacturers’ Association.

Frankly a stupid exercise but then, nobody said that these chaps were smart. Oh! did I forget that they are hypocrites that they dont go after the China’s of this world ? not to mention being pig ignorant and actually what I would call as lazy idiots. Lets go after dates because that’s easy and I can go speak to Tesco. All this while, i am happy to be treated using Israeli medical technology, I am happy to coordinate my campaign using Israeli technology such as computers, mobiles and software.

HT: Ram Narayan: Here’s a great book of how Israel does this. And check out this article. Bit of an Israeli head banging article, but fascinating to read.

The Magnificient Pakistani Generals

An interesting review of a book review on one of the general’s books who commanded the Pakistani Army in 1971. Defeat has no fathers, it is an orphan and looking at the spate of books by the generals in charge then, looks like nobody was in charge, everybody was responsible and nobody was personally liable. One very interesting comment came back and this is what I have seen (as a very broad based generalisation), most of the third world country armies get more medals for killing their own people than the enemy. Pakistan’s army is no exception. In fact, for all the pious mumbling about Islamic armies, I would say that this Islamic Army of Pakistan has killed more Muslims than non-muslims. Post Independence, whether you think about Jordan, Kashmir, Kargil, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Sindh, you name it…

A.H Amin's Comments on Ahmad Faruqis Book Review of A.A.K Niazis Book on East Pakistan-2000

While you can spend quite a lot of time reading both documents, this is what puzzles me ever since. Is it indeed possible to fool all people all the time? What explains the fascinating behaviour of the Pakistani Army? that it manages to screw up almost everything it touches but is still allowed to grab the resources of the Pakistani state and even rule it. We are getting to grips with the betrayal of East Pakistan but what about the betrayal of West Pakistan? When will that final chapter be written?

That said, tactically and militarily, the Pakistani Army seems to be getting better, Kargil was a great example, Swat and the South Waziristan campaigns are also good. What happens to these generals when they grow up? Also, the current C-in-C Kayani seems to be a canny smart chappie. But here’s the question, the lessons of the 1971 war (see the Hamdoor ur Rahman Report summary here) doesnt seem to be learnt. The same old same old, the involvement with politics and massive corruption is still there.

Lots to think about.

Friday, December 4

For all you technical writers out there

You know what RTFM means, yes? if you have ever worked on a help desk, or implemented software or done anything with technology, RTFM means, “read the frikking manual”. Replace frikking with your favourite “f” word. Here’s the response!


Non Violence and Kashmir

This stands on its own. Some interesting points about non-violence are made in this letter from a civil society lead in India to a non-violent (or is he?) leader of Kashmir. But before I go there, i need to deal with this lady’s one core point, and that is that non-violence is a good political response to almost all circumstances. To start with, see what the Dalai Lama, one of the apostles of non-violence, has to say about this subject. I quote:

The Dalai Lama, a lifelong champion of non-violence candidly stated that terrorism cannot be tackled by applying the principle of ahimsa because the minds of terrorists are closed.

"It is difficult to deal with terrorism through non-violence," the Tibetan spiritual leader said delivering the Madhavrao Scindia Memorial Lecture here. He termed terrorism as the worst kind of violence which is not carried by a few mad people but by those who are very brilliant and educated.

"They (terrorists) are very brilliant and educated...but a strong ill feeling is bred in them. Their minds are closed," the Dalai Lama said. He said the only way to tackle terrorism is through prevention.

Curious statement to make, eh? What does one make of that, eh? The Saudi’s seem to have made a combination trick (both police action, army action as well as going after the terrorists from an ideological way) in dealing with their home grown hotheads. Mind you, they also believe in making the terrorists somebody else’s problem (like exporting them to Iraq, and other places), but there you go. I wonder if ahimsa would actually work for non-liberal types like the Taliban or the Mumbai Terrorists? No, obviously it wouldnt, you have to shoot them, blow them up, capture them and then perhaps you have a chance to do a non violent tactic of ideologically unbrainwashing them before they can turn normal.

But India is trying to deal with an insurgency in Kashmir and here’s a man who has laid down the gun and is trying to win independence for his people. Dont get me wrong, i know the Indian government has done much stupid things in Kashmir. India actually quite a lot of the responsibility in not making them part of India mentally, but then you also have the sunny Pakistani’s as well. Anyway, here is the letter for what its worth. A conversation between 2 non-violent activists. It is not an easy letter to read because I am not sure there is an easy answer, but …..


Dear Yasin,
The Dialogue on the Future of Jammu & Kashmir organized by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies gained enormously by your presence on November 7, 2009. We recognize that the overlap in timing meant you had to rush to Delhi after registering your attendance at a TADA court hearing in Jammu. I also appreciate the fact that despite provocative slogans against you by a group of Kashmiri Pandits opposed to your presence in the Dialogue, you sat through the meeting to the end and not only explained your politics but also made a public commitment to consider some of the solutions proposed at the meeting as a starting point for a wide spectrum dialogue for the resolution of the Kashmir problem.
However, your outbursts of anger, disappointment and your cynical comments directed at the civil society organizations of India seem to me so misplaced and misleading that they demand a public response; a lot of them were directed at Manushi and at me. Since they have been widely reported in the Kashmiri and Pakistani newspapers, hence my response is also through the media.
For those who do not know the background, let me summarize your grievances as stated in your presentation at the Dialogue. You said that you had given up the gun at the urging of civil society organizations in India, that you took to "Gandhian methods of struggle" due to our persuasion. However, despite your move to non-violent means of struggle, you feel "betrayed" by the human rights community in India for ostensibly failing to help you achieve your political ends. You also claimed that subsequent events and your failure in achieving "azadi" have convinced you that Gandhian methods do not work in today’s India. In your view, they worked only while the British ruled India because the British provided a supportive environment for non- violent struggles.
What proof do you offer for that conclusion? That Gandhi was not subjected to third degree torture by the British, nor was Gandhi killed in an encounter with the police! No responsible leader would provide this form of naive praise of the British. You cannot dismiss the brutalities of the British colonial regime so easily. You don’t have to go too far—just read the life story of Badshah Khan—Gandhi’s most valued colleague and the most inspiring satyagrahi of that period. The brutalities inflicted on the army of satyagrahis mobilized by Badshah Khan—popularly known as the Frontier Gandhi— would put to shame even the apartheid regime of South Africa. Lakhs and lakhs of non violent satyagrahis were tortured in British jails. Many innocents were murdered in cold blood. The manner in which unarmed women and children were massacred in Jallianwala Bagh by General Dyer was not an isolated example of British brutality. Hundreds of thousands of satyagrahis took deadly beatings without raising their hand even in self-defence during the Salt Satyagraha. The cruel treatment routinely meted out to the Indian peasantry in extracting unprecedented high revenue and confiscating their lands arbitrarily for failure to pay ruinous usurious revenue, not sparing them even during crop failures, led to millions dying in unprecedented man made famines and left many more millions destitute, malnourished and terrorized. 
You claim to have taken to Gandhian methods and claim that the movement for "azadi" in Kashmir is non violent —all on the grounds that some years ago you gave up the gun. Dear friend Yasin, you gave up the gun after you were arrested and jailed, not while you were on the outside, fighting. You never gave up supporting and defending those who continued using the gun. In the November 7 meeting, you declared openly that you are proud of having been the first one to take up the gun for the cause of Kashmir. When a young Kashmiri Pandit commented: "You may have given up the gun but that does not mean Kashmiri Muslims gave up the gun. The Hizbul Mujahiddin is also comprised of Kashmiri youth." Your response was: Since the Indian government did not hand over "azadi" to the "non-violent" JKLF, and since human rights organizations in India failed to persuade the Indian government to do so, Hizbul Mujahaddin are justified in taking up the gun. Yasin bhai, a true commitment to non-violence should not be so conditional and fragile. Gandhi did not say: "Give India independence or else I will unleash terrorist brigades on you." That was Jinnah’s method, not Gandhi’s.
As one of many people committed to strengthening democracy and human rights in India, one of my mandates is to ensure that even those who take to terrorist means, are given fair treatment, due process, and a fair trial, and that innocents are not targeted by security forces while combating terrorism. Our primary task, however, is to try to prevail upon the Indian government that draconian laws should not be used to crush democratic dissent. I don’t think I have failed in being consistent about those issues. I have often done my best to intervene with the government of India to defend the Constitutional rights of you and your colleagues, even when I have strong differences with your political goals and means you make use of to achieve them. 
For example, when you asked me to intervene on behalf of some of your colleagues held in detention centres who you claimed and seemed to me to be innocent, I did so without hesitation. I even succeeded on some occasions in helping get them released—your verbal assurance that they were not involved in any terrorist crimes was an important consideration in my efforts. Do you think you could get such relief for your colleagues if they had been arrested on account of suspected terrorist links in England—a nation you so ardently admire— or in the US—the country you had put most faith in to help you gain "Azadi"?
In the November 7 meeting, you expressed your annoyance over the fact that representatives from Ladakh, Jammu, Poonch, and Rajouri had been invited. You dismissed their presence with open contempt saying: " Is this a mohalla meeting that we have gathered all these people to discuss local affairs?" This attitude of assuming that it is only Kashmiri Muslims of the Valley— and that too of a certain political persuasion— who ought to have the right to determine the future of the entire state of J&K has created huge fault lines and murderously hostile camps in the State.
No one organization has the right to be the sole spokesperson of the Kashmiri people. The strong voices opposing your politics in Jammu, Ladakh and even within Kashmir have to be given their due importance.
While you expected human rights organizations in India to help you secure "Azadi"—you have allowed the concept to remain so fuzzy that I have not yet understood what concretely you mean by it. I have spent hours trying to persuade you to work out the concrete modalities of your plank of "Azadi" and explain to us how your Azadi will be any different from the bloody 1947 Partition of India. What will be the fate of minorities in your 'Azad' Kashmir? What happens to the rights of those in Kashmir, Jammu, Rajouri, Poonch, Leh and Kargil and those in the Valley who do not wish to secede from India and do not want to live in your mythical Azad Kashmir? I never got anything resembling an answer. It also makes me very uneasy that the JKLF does not even have a constitution, leave alone any democratic machinery for managing its affairs.
Why on earth would human rights organizations help you partition Jammu & Kashmir in as senseless a manner as Jinnah did the entire subcontinent? Even for the November 7 Dialogue, I repeatedly requested you to give a concrete statement in writing on the form and content of Azadi. You said you don’t believe in putting things down in writing. Instead you preferred to talk about your personal trials and tribulations, how 600 of your JKLF cadres have been killed in encounters by security forces. Much as I mourn the loss of those lives, much as I deplore how our security forces sometimes lawlessly eliminate or brutalize those suspected of terrorism, Yasin bhai, you have to recognize that, unfair as it seems to you, those who live by the gun have to be prepared to be hunted down by the gun.
You say you are still proud of the fact that you took up the gun because without that the Kashmir issue would not have gained due attention. This is not how morally committed non-violent satyagrahis reason. That is not how those who draw inspiration from Gandhi should earn world attention. One does not become a satyagrahi by merely laying down arms, that too without ever expressing remorse for having unleashed a reign of terror and violence. A satyagrahi does not romanticize the power of the gun, especially when it has already caused havoc for millions.
To qualify being a satyagrahi also means:

Being an unconditional soldier of peace by actively opposing all forces of violence. Unfortunately, your love affair with the gun is not yet over, or else you would not claim to be proud of having been the first one to take up the gun as a means of furthering your politics; Even today, you do not condemn terrorist killings without reservations.

Being committed to the path of Truth ( Satya) as a permanent seeker rather than as a self declared authority on Truth. A satyagrahi cannot be selective in choosing facts to suit his political arguments, which you often do. Being able to face unpalatable facts about one's own movement and an ability to take diverse view points and perspectives into account is vital for adhering to the path of Truth. A truth seeker does not indulge in mere partisan politics nor does he/she overstate his /her case, as you often do

Being able to keep one's anger under check and control so that it does not distort one's vision. A Satyagrahi does not demonize his/her opponents, nor does he/she hold malice and ill will towards others whose politics and vision are at variance from that of the satyagrahi. You seem to be in a permanent state of upset with people who do not agree with your politics.

It was a very revealing moment, Yasin, when you told me after one of your visits to Pakistan which I quote from memory:

"I have now realized the great difference between the human rights activists in India and Pakistan. The Indian activists mostly come from ordinary middle class families so they are small minded. The Pakistani human rights activists are mostly from aristocratic families—daughters of generals and wealthy land owning aristocrats. Therefore, they are large hearted and have a broader vision."

You have been understandably impressed by their pampering and hospitality extended to you. But you would do well to remember, many of them pamper you because you are a thorn in the flesh of the Indian establishment. They do not pamper their home grown secessionists--the Baluchis, the Pakhtoons and Sindhis, who wish to break away from Pakistan, as they do you.
You would also do well to remember that the aristocratic elite of Pakistan has done a poor job of defending their own democracy. They have also done a poor job of resisting the growing influence of the Taliban over their polity and civil society. Pakistan Administered Kashmir has a much poorer track record of democracy than the Kashmir you inhabit. The diverse ethnic groups and regions in Pakistan have far fewer rights than minority communities and regions have in India. No matter how well they treat you personally, the aristocratic elite of Pakistan are unlikely to deliver the "azadi" you are seeking. 
Kashmiri society is being torn asunder by the conflicting ambitions of its leaders. As you well know, the mutual hostilities and suspicions of various Kashmiri leaders have even taken murderous forms. That is why it is vital to bridge these divides and important that diverse leaders come together to thrash out differences and explore common ground. Many of those who attended the November 7 meeting considered it an auspicious start of a new process whereby secessionist leaders who had never sat together on a common platform with mainstream political parties not only came together to seek out a consensually acceptable peaceful solution but also agreed to carry forward the debate around the concrete and innovative new Self Rule formula presented by the PDP.
Instead of expecting the human rights community in India to become your followers, instead of expecting them to fight your battles for you, it would be far better if you worked out a political platform that was more in consonance with their perspective. For all their limitations and humbler origins, the Indian middle classes which dominate democratic rights organizations in India have succeeded far better in keeping the authoritarian tendencies of their rulers under a measure of check and control. J& K has too many gun toting self appointed spokespersons of Kashmiri people. What it lacks is a vibrant community of people committed to strengthening human rights and democratic freedoms. Such voices have been marginalized or crushed by the gun in J&K. Reviving that tradition needs much greater courage and conviction than required for taking up the gun. I hope to see you occupy that space in the coming years.
With good wishes,
Madhu Kishwar,
Founder Editor, Manushi
Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
November 14, 2009

Do get yourself in a twist

Sometimes simple things make your life so much better. This is one example: I think i am going to save myself tons of pain two times every day when i try to untangle my iphone earphones!

I have been trying this out now for 2 weeks and its a riproaring success, works perfectly and never a tangle. Oh! what a tangled weave we produce when we try to stuff wires in pockets…

Tuesday, December 1

UN corruption convention in Doha, rendered toothless

As you might know, the United Nations is trying to push for a good solid anti corruption convention with teeth and peer review globally. If this really takes off, then it will really help the world, and most importantly, the poor who get disproportionately hit by corruption. The rich can bribe their way through these things but the poor get hurt.

But guess what? some countries objected to being peer reviewed. Who are these countries of total probity and clean hands? China, Russia, Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan and Zimbabwe. For those who are citizens of these countries, you could ask them why their representatives are against corruption eradication? Oh! I am sorry, these representatives are themselves corrupt and obviously their governments are as well. China is heavily corrupt, Russia is a byword, Algeria, Egypt and Pakistan, well, we all know about it while that wonderful world of anti imperialistic resistance, Zimbabwe is a beacon of innocence.


Monday, November 30

Isn't this against the diplomatic rule book?

This chap seems to be heading towards becoming persona non grata. I quote:

The Iranian Supreme Leader’s representative in Britain has told Muslim servicemen and women to quit the Armed Forces, saying that their involvement in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is forbidden by Islam.

The cleric, personally appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to be his special envoy to the UK, also urged Muslims to defeat the opposition to the Iranian regime and keep the 30-year-old Islamic Republic alive.

Heh, i like his innocence (or whatever word you want to use). But here’s where I found him rather silly. He ended his interview by saying:

He said the centre worked with police and other authorities to improve relations between the Muslim community and wider Britain.

“My personal belief is if Muslim migrants are better Muslims in this society, they can shape their individual lives in a better way and could be better members to this society,” he said.

Can you see how those two statements are contradictory? How on earth will Muslim soldiers and the society at large be well integrated if idiot mullah’s like this fellow go about sprouting pap like this? The FCO should call him in and tell him to keep his gob shut. Talk about making friends and influencing people.

Much ado about nothing

As you might have heard, the ECHR has ruled against the use of crucifix in classrooms. But the Italians are not taking it well, with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi saying that it will ignore the ruling. The Italians, with 84% majority, want crucifixes to remain on the classroom walls. And now the anti immigrant party, Northern League, is getting into the act as well.

A similar thing happened in Spain as well way back in 1982 but nothing has been done to implement the order still yet.

Basically, I cannot see how you can avoid it. Just like abortion has become legal, for a liberal democracy to take positions for a particular religion will not be justifiable at all. This promises to produce quite a lot of hot air. Mind you, God is everywhere, but apparently the crucifix is a symbol and weaker minds like to see it. Welcome to Europe. Here’s the amusing bit about the survey as reported by Reuters. I quote:

Those in favour included many who are not practicing Catholics. Some 68 percent of those who said they never attended Mass said they still wanted the crucifixes to stay in schools.

heh. So what’s the reason? cultural reasons? So now its become a decoration?

Sunday, November 29

Muslim women and micro loans

This causes me no end of frustration. I mean, it's tough enough to get the economic status of women up and running. And then you have these bloody medieval obscurantists who come and bollox it up. I quote:

Ramesh Bellamkonda heads BSS Microfinance, the worst hit of several microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Karnataka. He says BSS has provided microcredit for two years in Kolar, three-and-a-half in Mysore, and eight in Ramanagaram, enjoying excellent relations with its Muslim borrowers and virtually 100% repayment. Today, repayment is down to almost zero, because of non-repayment directives by the anjumans and their goons, who threaten and even assault BSS staff. Muslims constitute a substantial proportion of borrowers, so the anjuman directives can bankrupt entire MFIs, affecting other community borrowers too. Other Karnataka MFIs in several towns face the same problem, and have been obliged to halt lending to Muslims. It is a triumph for the most reactionary Muslims, and a tragedy for Muslim women denied empowerment through finance.

The anjumans say interest on loans is un-Islamic, and so borrowers need not repay, and no further microloans should be given to Muslims…….Because the anjumans will not take on moneyed males, only poor women. They don’t like female empowerment through micro-credit, and so use the bogus rhetoric of Islamic finance to promote their gender agenda.

Can you imagine these pillocks? How on earth can they justify this kind of loser behaviour? Interest in loans is not un-Islamic, you idiots. If you think that’s wrong, go check out what happens in Saudi Arabia, they merrily lend away on interest. And if you think that they are wrong, why do you suck up to them starting from Hyderabad Airport to their hotel rooms? Sheesh.