Wednesday, March 31

The pensions crisis in the UK

This struck me as pretty much fair. This Labour Government and potentially the incoming Conservative government wont say the truth that everybody knows, we are in a world of hurt and are living much beyond our means. We are busy disbursing money abroad, we are spending money like drunk sailors on the public sector (52% of UK economy is in public hands), subsidies and welfare spending out of control. See what happens:

"One of our state retirees, paid, over the course of his entire career, a total of $124,000 towards his pension and health benefits. What will we pay him? $3.3m in pension over his life and $500,000 healthcare benefits – a total of $3.8m on a $120,000 investment. Is that fair? "A retired teacher paid $62,000 towards her pension and nothing – nothing – for full family medical, dental and eye coverage over her entire career. What will we pay her? $1.4m in pensions and $215,000 in healthcare premiums over her lifetime. Is that fair for all of us and our children, to have to pay the excess?"

No, me and my son have to pay for all the promises made by successive idiot governments. Pay as you go. Not only do I have to pay for these buggers, I have to put aside money for my own pension. And to pay for my kids education and for their step on the property ladder and and and.  And because the damn government is hoovering up money like crazy to pay for the debt and removing tax relief on pensions, the returns on my pension are derisory.

Damn morons. Look at this. I quote:

Yet another of those pledges that politicians so cheerfully scatter about as an election approaches came at the weekend from David Cameron. "You have my word," he told a question and answer session organised by Saga Magazine, that pensioners' free bus passes, winter fuel payments and free television licences (over-75s only) will be "protected" by the Conservatives. So that's another £4.2bn that no party will cut, alongside the budgets for schools and the NHS.

A promise to "protect" something leaves wriggle room: fuel payments, for instance, might not be uprated in line with inflation, and Labour is already raising the age of eligibility for bus passes. But no party dare let itself be portrayed as the enemy of old folk who, in the British politician's mind, are all shivering in front of one-bar electric fires and subsisting on stale bread with a thin covering of rancid butter and cheap jam. That image might once have carried some rough approximation to reality. Not any more.When Labour came to power in 1997, poverty among pensioners was more common than among the rest of the population. Now pensioners are least likely to be poor. In 2007-08, 22.5% of us suffered relative poverty (below 60% of median income after housing costs), but only 18% of pensioners. Children were far more likely to be poor (31%) as were working-age parents (26%). When Labour was in office in the 1970s retired households accounted for the majority of those in the bottom fifth of income distribution; now they account for not much more than a third. This is only partly the result of Gordon Brown's pension credits. Owner occupation, house-price inflation and private and company pensions have done most to transform old age from a time of penury to one of affluence.

So what’s with the pensions here compared to the USA?

As shadow minister David Willetts points out in his recent book, The Pinch, social justice demands redistribution from the old to the young, not the other way around. The baby boomers who will draw their pensions over the next 10 years will be even richer than the present generation of pensioners, and they hold more than twice as much wealth as the generation after them, now in their late 40s and early 50s, who have suffered from the decline in occupational pensions. Yet the baby boomers are due to get far more out of the welfare state – possibly as much as 18% more – than they ever put into it. In the youngest age groups, millions struggle to enter the housing market, and have no prospect of building up anything like the pension entitlements of their elders. Collectively, those now aged 25 to 34 have less than a third of the wealth held by those in the same age group in the 1990s.

Go figure

Tuesday, March 30

Bangla hospital bans burqas for female staff to prevent theft

Another reason to ban the burqa, lol.

A leading state-run health facility in Dhaka banned burqas for its female staff on Monday and enforced strict uniform regulations to prevent growing incidents of theft of mobiles and wallets at the hospital wards.

"We have just enforced the regulation asking women staff to wear the prescribed hospital uniform and carry ID cards while they are on duty inside the patients wards," Abdul Majid Bhuiyan, administrative director of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, the largest hospital of Bangladesh, told PTI.

He said the order was issued for the female staff only against the backdrop of growing incidents of theft of wallets or mobile phones particularly from female and children wards. In most of the cases, the outsider women identifying them as hospital staff, were found to be involved in the thefts.

"This part of the disciplinary measures also to ensure hygienic standards of the facility...The female staffs are allowed to use the burqas outside the (hospital) wards," he said.

Bhuiyan, however, added that the visitors or patients were "in no way" come under the purview of the order.

So only the doctors and staff in burqa’s can be the thieves and not the people who come in from outside? nice way to show trust.

And again the Hindu Rage Boys rage

Got this email thrice. Another output from the original petitioner, Dr. K. This time its the Supreme Court Judges who seem to have injured feelings and caused all kinds of grievous harm to the religion. The man is seriously impressive, I mean, not a day goes by without him getting offended. Of course, if you actively misread the facts, then one really cannot do much. There is no source, as far as I can tell, of anybody mentioning that Krishna was married to Radha, living in extra marital sin is not a problem at all. And if one starts looking at Mahabharata as a historical text rather than a mythological text with allegorical references rather than factual references, then one cannot help the other person. Seriously, some of these people are just amazing. Comical, seriously comical. And this is the chap who everybody is following willy nilly in the Doninger petition which I referred to just yesterday. What does he want to do with all these apologies? Aachar dalna hai?



Insulting Hindu religious belief by a reference to Radha-Krishna

An open letter to all citizens of Bharat,

Appended is a report on the Supreme Court’s decision on pre-marital sex.

We take exception to the obiter dicta of the Court reported in the media. “Drawing an analogy from the Hindu mythology, the court said, even Lord Krishna and Radha lived together.”

It is shocking that such a statement should have reportedly been made by the learned judge(s). It is shocking because it shows a gross ignorance about Hindu traditions and Hindu history.

First of all, the reality of Krishna is established by the Itihaasa Mahabharata text and the astronomical reference contained in the text. Hence, Krishna is NOT mythology.

It is absurd to refer to the episode of Radha-Krishna in the context of a case related to pre-marital sex. Sri Krishna, Bala Krishna was only 10 years of age when he left Brindavan for the Gurukulam in Sandeepani Ashram. The episode of Radha-Krishna occurred when Sri Bala Krishna was a child 10 years of age.  

Bhagavata Purana, does NOT refer to Radha by name but is alluded to within the tenth chapter of the text as one of the gopis whom Krishna plays with during his upbringing as a young boy. Krishna left Vrindavan for Mathura at the age of 10 years and 7 months according to Bhagavata Purana . So Radha is assumed to be a child of about 10 years or less, when Krishna left Vrindavan.

I suggest that Bhagavata Purana together with the works of Savant Nimbarka, a vaishnava acharya, should be made essential reading for all constitutional functionaries.

After his education in Sandeepani Ashram, Shri Krishna never returned to Brindavan. He went to Mathura.

What is wrong with our educational system that even learned judges should refer to a seven-year old Shri Krishna and his being a darling of humanity and who enthralled Radha and other Gopikas has NOTHING to do with pre-marital sex since he was in Brindavan only until he was seven years of age.

Is a mother’s affection to a child considered pre-marital sex? Is the adoration by elders of an avatara considered pre-marital sex?

Maybe, there should be a law requiring minimum education in Hindu history and cultural traditions of avatara purusha like Shri Rama and Shri Krishna to all constitutional functionaries.

In this context, it is apposite to recall the words of Justice ASP Iyer who was Justice of Madras High Court. Justice A.S.P Iyer I.C.S (1899-1963) in his book, ‘Sri Krishna – The Darling of Humanity’, says: “Alexander the Great once asked a Brahmin scholar in the 4th century BC. “How can we know a man to be God?” and the scholar replied “When he does what no man can ever do.” To illustrate this divine point, I would refer to how Krishna saved the chastity, dignity and honour of Draupadi at the Royal Court of Hastinapura.

Does a seven year old darling of Brindavan become an example of pre-marital sex in jurisprudence?

Something is amiss here. I hope there will be an apology to all Hindus whose sentiments have been deeply hurt (cf. Section 295A of IPC) by the unwarranted reference to Radha-Krishna as an analogy of pre-marital sexual relationship.

Dhanyavaadah. Dr. S. Kalyanaraman

Section 295A. Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs1 [295A. Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.

Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of 2[citizens of India], 3[by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 4[three years], or with fine, or with both.]

1. Ins. by Act 25 of 1927, s. 2.
2. Subs. by the A.O. 1950, for "His Majesty's subjects".
3. Subs. by Act 41 of 1961, s. 3, for certain words (w.e.f. 27-9-1961) 
4. Subs. by Act 41 of 1961, s. 3, for "two years" (w.e.f. 27-9-1961)

Live-in, pre-marital sex no offence: SC
24 Mar 2010, 0541 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: There is good news for the votaries of the live-in partners. The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that the live-in relationships between the adult couples cannot be treated as an offence.“When two adult people want to live together what is the offence. Does it amount to an offence? Living together is not an offence. It cannot be an offence,” said a bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice Deepak Verma and Justice B S Chauhan. 
Drawing an analogy from the Hindu mythology, the court said, even Lord Krishna and Radha lived together. 
The apex court said there was no law which prohibits live-in relationship or pre-marital sex. 
The bench passed the observation while reserving its judgement on a special leave petition filed by noted south Indian actress Khushboo. She had approached the apex court seeking quashing of about 22 criminal cases filed against her after she allegedly endorsed pre-marital sex in interviews to various magazines in 2005. 
While hearing the case, the judges grilled the counsel for some of the complainants in the case and repeatedly stressed that the perceived immoral activities cannot be branded as offence. 
The argument of the counsel was that her comments allegedly endorsing pre-marital sex would adversely affect the minds of young people leading to decay in moral values and ethos of the country. 
“Please tell us what is the offence and under which section. Living together is a right to life,” remarked the court. apparently referring to Article 21 of the Constitution relating to right to life and liberty. The apex court further said the views expressed by Khushboo were personal. 
“How does it concern you. We are not bothered. At the most it is a personal view. How is it an offence? Under which provision of the law?” the bench asked the counsel. 
The apex court further asked the complainants to produce evidence to show if any girls eloped from their homes after the said interview. 
“How many homes have been affected can you tell us,” court asked while enquiring whether the complainants had daughters. When the response was in the negative, they shot back, “Then, how are you adversely affected”? 
Khushboo had approached the apex court after the Madrash High Court in 2008 dismissed her plea for quashing the criminal cases filed against her through out Tamil Nadu.

Monday, March 29

The Rage boys rage again

This just makes me sad. I quote,

Ms. Susan Peterson Kennedy
President , Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014, USA
Mr. Mike Bryan,
CEO & President, Penguin Books Pvt Ltd.
11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi 110 017
Dear Ms. Peterson Kennedy, Mr. Mike Bryan,
The following is a petition from concerned signatories to the Penguin Group asking for an apology for the publication of the factually incorrect and offensive book “The Hindus-An Alternative History” by Wendy Doniger. We expect Penguin Group to withdraw the book immediately.
“The Hindus: An Alternative History” is rife with numerous errors in its historical facts and Sanskrit translations. These errors and misrepresentations are bound and perhaps intended to mislead students of Indian and Hindu history.
Throughout the book, Doniger analyzes revered Hindu Gods and Goddess using her widely discredited psychosexual Freudian theories that modern, humanistic psychology has deemed limiting. These interpretations are presented as hard facts and not as speculations. Doniger makes various faulty assumptions about the tradition in order to arrive at her particular spin. In the process, the beliefs, traditions and interpretations of practicing Hindus are simply ignored or bypassed without the unsuspecting reader knowing this to be the case. This kind of Western scholarship has been criticized as Orientalism and Eurocentrism. The non Judeo-Christian faith gets used to dish out voyeurism and the tradition gets eroticized.


Again, the above is simply a sampling of the scandalous and offensive statements in the book. By her own admission in the book, Doniger has no credentials as a historian and the title of the book is misleading as the book is not on the “History nor an Alternative History” of India. This shows that the author is not an authority on the subject as she is not able to understand the deep meaning of Sanskrit verses or Indian Concepts. These cast serious doubts about the author’s integrity as a researcher and ability to interpret accurately. Additional examples of the author’s shoddy scholarship will be made available upon request.
We emphasize that this defamatory book misinforms readers about the history of Hindu civilization, its cultures and traditions. The book promotes prejudices and biases against Hindus. Can Penguin’s editors really be incompetent enough to have allowed this to pass to publication? If this is not deliberate malice, Penguin must act now in good faith.
As concerned readers, we ask PENGUIN GROUP to:
1. WITHDRAW all the copies of this book immediately from the worldwide bookshops/markets/Universities/Libraries and refrain from printing any other edition.
2. APOLOGIZE for having published this book “The Hindus: An Alternative History”. This book seriously and grossly misrepresents the Hindu reality as known to the vast numbers of Hindus and to scholars of Hindu tradition. PENGUIN must apologize for failure to observe proper pre-publication scrutiny and scholarly review.


Basically the people who signed this petition are

1. Do not know how academic publications work (too long to explain)

2. Do not know how errors are fixed in academic work (every academic work invariably ends up with mistakes, a significant proportion are caught before publication but still some creep through. For post publication errors, book reviews and communications with the author help in pushing for the errors to be corrected in the next version, edition, reprint or as an errata) What they dont do is to withdraw it wholesale based upon some mistakes or because some people’s oh! so sensitive feelings are bruised.

3. Are far too sensitive. Dont read it. This is like “a bail, mujhe maar”. If you dont like dancing with the bulls, stay away from the paddock or the heat in the kitchen and and and. And saying that its from a head of the department in a US university gives far too much prominence to the ability of one book to rock Hinduism. When invasions, forced conversions, wars, economic servitude, a bewildering variety of alternative explanations, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, Sikhism, etc. could not dislodge Hinduism, these pipsqueaks really think that a book can? and then they call themselves PROUD Hindus. Bah!.

4. Are basically against freedom of speech as they want to withdraw the book and not to publish any other edition. If that is not against freedom of speech, as in publishing, then I have no other idea what is.

5. Apologise for having publishing this book. I am surprised they did not go to the paper provider and ask them for apologies. I know this is an exaggeration, but come on.


Here’s a great article on this by Ashok Malik, somebody who is from the right himself. Anybody who is half way educated and liberal (in the classical sense of having strong individual rights, freedom of speech, property rights, etc.) would know that this kind of obscurantist thought is simply unacceptable. I quote:

If the Husain dénouement was tragic, the Doniger episode is turning out to be comic. If a book award judge received these letters, and knew nothing about the context of the controversy, he would probably fear for the author as the victim of a hate group attack. Far from being an unsympathetic student of Hinduism — which is obviously how Internet Hindus see her — Doniger would come out resembling Joan of Arc.

Why are these Internet Hindus worthy of notice at all? There are three reasons. First, a collective of the intellectually inadequate, the professionally frustrated and the plain bigoted, they represent the collapse of Hindu politico-intellectual space into a caricature of the very Talibanism it opposes.

Second, as Hindutva as an idea has contracted in real-world politics, it has become shrill and over-the-top in cyberspace. The Left has its universities, journals and institutional support system. It is a commentary on Internet Hindus that they only have multiple email accounts.

Third, there is a hard question for the BJP. How quickly can it delink itself from Internet Hindus and their offline equivalents? A party that seeks to build broad-spectrum opposition unity in Parliament on governance issues can do without such viral downloads.

I know of several people who signed the petition. Unfortunately, by the fact that they signed this petition, I am afraid I have now lost respect for them. Anybody who says this? Not to be respected. As for the authors, well, the word comic describes them well.

Here’s another interesting article on this issue from one of the chaps in the academy. I quote:

Quite right. I will admit that after a while, it became very tempting to cast my vote for Doniger in spite of preferring another book. I wanted to aim my water, so to speak, not at the blaze itself, but at those setting it. But that seemed too irritable. The protesters had a right to protest -- and the book critic, an obligation to ignore them.

As it turned out, the award for nonfiction went instead to Richard Holmes for The Age of Wonder. It seems from the Twitter, blog, and e-mail chatter that the protesters have congratulated themselves over this, taking it to be a repudiation of Doniger. That is absurd, if quite predictable. We do not discuss the deliberations that go into making the final decision on the awards. But suffice it to say that we stand by the nomination of The Hindus as one of the finalists for 2009. It is an excellent work that deserves a large audience.

And to add my own last two cents on the matter (whether or not anyone else agrees): The rancor a book generates is sometimes its own mark of distinction.

What these internet hindu rage boys have ended up is to prove themselves to be seriously lacking, in perhaps every aspect. Few things which I wrote on this:

One doesn’t request books to be withdrawn for factual errors. One requests the next edition or version to fix those errors. Almost every book almost always contains errors. If there is sufficient demand, then a second reprint or edition is created and errors fixed. If not and if the errors are too many and too bad, then the reputation of the scholar suffers. But people are at perfect liberty not to buy or read the book. In any case, the petition was framed so that it sounded like Hindus were hurt and they want the book to be withdrawn, which is a different matter from fixing errors. 


Asking a book to be withdrawn is pretty clear on what is signifies. If the petition writers would have said that these are errors, please fix it, nobody would have said a word.
In this particular case, it has had the immediately diametrically opposite effect of immediately turning the argument into a different sort of seeing the petition of demanding a scandalous book be withdrawn, echos of the long very sad history of banned books.


Asking for an apology? Asking for withdrawal? talking about hurt feelings? Oh! come on, mate, that's not academic, that's not professional, and protesting outside events is supposed to be good? As I mentioned, due diligence is done, but still errors creep into almost every book. I would presume that Dr. K, the author of the petition would know about this, specially when every paper of his has been torn up and down by everybody leading him to be a laughing stock.
You point out errors in a book review, the publisher collects it and if required then publishes a second edition and changes. The petition has been drafted diabolically, but knowing who did it, I am not surprised at all. They talked about withdrawing the book. What on earth for? That's highly unprofessional at best and more leaning towards a total display of ignorance of how academic publishing works.
But that's fine, this petition and its whole sorry abortion of a mess just is pathetic and just confirms my opinion about the bunch who run around in that neck of the woods. Whether its that silly meat eating petition or this (and there are counter petitions commenting on the errors in this petition), all it does it to further plonk mud on us. If you want to see the counter petition, click here.
this now ascribes taliban like behaviour. Its like an Indian Godwin's law needs to be established.
Unbelievable, we seem to swing between one extreme to another, far too sensitive and unable to treat with the academy in an academic manner. And then we wonder why the academy gets upset with us.
Anyway, we have beaten this topic to death. I will agree to disagree on this point.

Seriously stupid of them all. If you want to to have any sanity left for the great religion Hinduism, stay away from these so called defenders. With illiberal obscurantist defenders like this, who needs real offenders?