Thursday, October 25, 2007

A holy immersion in black waters.

On the banks of the Yamuna, the river that flows through the city of Delhi.
Occassion- immersion of something called 'khetri', or "or the earthen pot in which grass is grown during the holy Navratri for praying to Goddess Vaishno".

dirty YamunaThe water is very dark, almost black.

Immersing plant in the river
Here the river catches the fading evening light. The children who live in settlements near the bank are eager to make some money. They usually ask 15 or 20 rupees to take the plant some way into the river and dive into the dirty water and let the plant go.

river childrenRiver children. Interestingly, while this is a Hindu tradition, the children doing the immersion seemed to be mostly muslims.

Note-The above link takes you to someone not pleased with this custom or the state of the river.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

All the art in the world will not reduce poverty one bit

It seems that there is going to be an arty-sharty event under the holy blessings of a famous guru, with rock concerts, art shows and a parade of page 3 bimbettes like Nafisa Ali and Nandita Das. The cause- we live in a time where the elites have a deep seated psychological need of a 'cause' to salve their consciences- is to "participate and raise our voices against poverty and a peaceful world" in the support of 'United Nations Millennium Development Goals'.
(Are they really going to raise their voices against a peaceful world?-ed)

As if 'Make Poverty History' was a great success.
Of course, this is just another excuse for the rich and the guilty to feel good as they drive to the event in their Mercedes and Skodas, or fly in first class from another city. As for the artists and artistes, an occassion to ingratiate themselves with the 'happening' crowd and another step on the ladder of their careers.In short, everyone happy.

As for the actual poor, none are likely to attend the event( and if they tried they would run the risk of being chased away from the gates of the IHC, an uber-elite complex of the rich and the famous)

Those who are crazy to be part of something associated with the United Nations are often unaware (or don't care) that the programs of the UN are run by a bureaucracy that like all bureaucracies all over the world is inefficient, self-serving, unaccountable,venal and corrupt. In the case of the United Nations, the unaccountability has plumbed to great depths.It's corruption and venality takes on a global scale by the very nature of the institution. Who gave us the far reaching corruption of oil-for-food? The utter unaccountability of UNDP in North Korea? The raping, looting and child prostitution conducted by it's soldiers (the sex-for-food scandal)?

The 'United Nations Millennium Development Goals' is the planet scale version of Indira Gandhi's garibi-hatao(remove poverty) and is as likely to fail. Indian economy began to take off only when the deathgrip of state socialism was loosened beginning 1991. We all know what works, although several are reluctant to admit it. There is a very, very hysterically vocal section of society everywhere which opposes that which will (and has proved to) reduce poverty anywhere it has been tried. Ironically, that section, made up of powerful coalitions of left-leaning NGO's , 'civil society' groups and various members of the media-arts elites are highly influential at the UN. An ambitious planet-wide project under their aegis means only one thing-
"...a sort of utopian central planning by global bureaucrats, a crash program like a Great Leap Forward for poor countries," ........ "This will not work any better than central planning by bureaucrats has worked anywhere else, which is to say not at all."

For example, the long section on aid shoves right past the realities to rattle the cup for more money flowing through the gullies of UN plans and bureaucracy, where so much has already vanished, or been diverted into support of bad governments that create precisely the conditions that inflict poverty. Someone needs to remind Mr. Annan that every dollar taxed away from the citizens of the rich nations of the world is a dollar less that's available for these same private citizens to buy goods for which there is genuine market-driven demand--that being the real engine of development.

Mr. Annan wants every poor country to produce--get ready for the mouthful--a "Millennium Development Goals-based" national strategy (meaning, in line with U.N. plans). By September he wants donor countries to produce "timetables and monitorable targets" to align aid delivery with all these strategies. Then, the U.N. will baste this all together into a plan even bigger than Oil for Food, which sounds like an unfortunate idea. Mr. Annan gets it partly right about the need for free trade, but he urges such openness only for the richest nations, not for the poorest--a vision that will make the rich richer, but do far less for the poor. Meanwhile, he deplores a growing income gap between rich and poor nations.

Some sections are almost comic, such as Mr. Annan's chiding the Security Council and General Assembly that when they assign tasks to the Secretariat, they must take care "that they also provide resources adequate for the task." Yes, but as Oil for Food illustrated, even $1.4 billion in administrative funding was not enough to provide honesty and competence. The glitch was the abysmal, secretive and conflict-of-interest-ridden management of Mr. Annan's Secretariat, not lack of money. Mr. Annan notes that he wants more transparency and accountability, but he suggests this come from more reshuffling inside the U.N. itself, not from outside oversight. We have been here before.
(emphasis mine)

I left a comment for one of the participants-
Ashok Nayak, you must be joking. All the art shows and rock concerts in the world, even if under the blessing of some holy man, will not do one whit to reduce poverty.

When it comes to reducing poverty, only one thing has shown to work- free markets(a.k.a capitalism). Strangely, the art world elites are mostly hostile to this solution.

Originally posted at -What the heck is art?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"There's something sick about, about our culture when we don't acknowledge genuine heroes"

As if to confirm what I said in the last post, Bill Kristol-

I think there's something about this wonderfully moving narrative about Al Gore that Juan(Williams) likes to compare to Mother Teresa. I haven't noticed Al Gore taking a vow of poverty recently. You know, there's something sick really about taking the whole thing seriously. The day before the Nobel Peace Prize was announced, President Bush signed off on the third Medal, Congressional Medal of Honor in tLt. Michael Murphyhe current global war on terror. The first for anyone who served in Afghanistan, for Navy seal Lt. Michael Murphy.

This got about one-one thousandth the coverage of the Nobel Peace Prize which as Charles says is an entirely political gesture. There are fewer Congressional Medals of Honor awarded than Nobel Peace Prizes. The New York Times, this is, Mike Murphy, the 29-year-old who died in 2005, from Long Island. The New York Times, the local newspaper for this genuine American hero, hasn't mentioned it. Huge stories, Al Gore, what a narrative, what sacrifices he's made to produce this movie and to become a multi-zillionaire as he makes himself so famous touting the cause of global warming.

Michael Murphy gets the Congressional Medal of Honor, and the New York Times, our leading newspaper and the local newspaper in this case, can't notice it. There's something sick about, about our culture when we don't acknowledge genuine heroes, and, as I say, give a prize, make such a big deal about some guy who's made a movie.

(emphasis mine)

Read the whole thing.

Oh, by the did I mention that Bill Kristol is considered a neocon. You won't be hearing much from him in our MSM.

Diversity of opinion, my foot!

There is a solid, immovable fog of group-think pervasive in the hallowed portals of the society elites all over the world-on Iraq,on globalisation,on America,on UN,on environment,on AIDS, on foreign get the picture.The vast swathes of 'liberal', 'bien-pensant' media is deeply committed almost unselfconsciously to this.

The New York Times is a paragon of such media. As is the BBC-

It's the fact that its output, including its journalism, is politically as bent as a corkscrew.

As its own impartiality review concluded earlier this year, the BBC operates in a "Leftleaning comfort zone" and has an "innate liberal bias", dictating what issues it chooses to cover and how it does so.

It is institutionally and viscerally hostile to America, Israel, conservatism, big business, religion, the countryside and family values; it supports multiculturalism, environmentalism, European federalism, human rights law and 'alternative' lifestyles.

Worse still, it sees everything through the distorting prism of this "progressive" agenda.

As a result, it views its own Left-wing position as the centre ground, and anyone who disagrees is viewed as a Rightwing extremist.

Indeed, because by definition it cannot acknowledge its own innate bias, the BBC embodies a totally closed thought system.

At the core of all these problems lies one single cause.

The BBC has simply lost sight of the very reason why it exists in the first place. And that is due to a toxic combination of ideology and flawed analysis.

(source) (emphasis mine)

The group-think on some issues is so deeply entrenched that any dissent is considered heresy, the heretic to be excoriated viciously and his/her views not to be published or broadcast if one can help it or to be be heavily downplayed by presenting opposing viewpoints as more credible and mainstream.There are some opinions, viewpoints and facts that the public must be kept away from.

One can immediately think of the neoconservatives- the word 'neocon' has in the MSM become a vile word, standing for war-mongers, war-profiteers, baby-killers and whatnot. How many articles, op-eds, editorials and straight news reports one has read in which the neocons are sneered at and derided? One can find several such items in the media daily.Yet, what does one know of the views of the neocons? What do they believe or say actually? Where are their views in the media? Why don't we hear their point of view in the MSM?
Why not?
Any good reason why the public should be kept from hearing their(the neocon's) opinions?

If neocons are really bad, Bush is the arch-villain, the Sauron for the MSM. The newspaper I get, the Hindustan Times, cannot stand Bush. Bush-bashing is a favorite sport among the media elite, where the Vir Sanghvis and the Barkha Dutts of this world can garner automatic approbation by sneering at Bush and calling him stupid.

We only know them(Bush and the neocons) through the various filters and layers of the media, that same media that hates them passionately.

But in an unbiased and objective media, shouldn't those who agree with Bush(on some or most of the issues) should get to air their views too?
So where are they?

Paraphrasing Judah BenHur who demanded menancingly of the Roman Messala in the movie Benhur-

Diversity of opinion, my foot!
As you write another Bush bashing editorial, aren't you ashamed of shutting out points of view that you loathe? If not, why not?

Note -No, I am not a neocon or a Bush supporter. I agree with some of their views and disagree with the others. But unlike our 'unbiased' jounalists, I do believe that they hold legitimate opinions which need to be aired more widely in the public rather than shielding the masses from their 'extreme' views.