Monday, November 30, 2015

Geeta Dutt's list of her best songs in 1957

from by Karan Bali. For some reason, may be because C.H. Atma sang it first (?), she did not include this

eye witness account from Rojava

A dream of secular utopia in ISIS' backyard by Wes Enzinna in NY Times

Doug Henwood on Brad DeLong

I often link to Brad DeLong. He is erudite and brilliant but also seems political. Here are some comments by Doug Henwood.
From Doug's wall:
The epigraph to my anti-Hillary book. Neoliberal tool and Clinton administration functionary Brad DeLong, 2003, from a blog post he's now deleted:
My two cents’ worth—and I think it is the two cents’ worth of everybody who worked for the Clinton Administration health care reform effort of 1993–1994—is that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life. Heading up health-care reform was the only major administrative job she has ever tried to do. And she was a complete flop at it. She had neither the grasp of policy substance, the managerial skills, nor the political smarts to do the job she was then given. And she wasn’t smart enough to realize that she was in over her head and had to get out of the Health Care Czar role quickly. . . . Hillary Rodham Clinton has already flopped as a senior administrative offcial in the executive branch—the equivalent of an Undersecretary. Perhaps she will make a good senator. But there is no reason to think that she would be anything but an abysmal president.
From the comments there: But the most amusing thing about this now is that Brad is running away from it. He deleted his blog archives, refused to respond to me about whether he still believes it, and only engages Dan Davies on Twitter about it and not me. Because he probably wants a job.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The role of Ritual

In a discussion on religion, Ramarao Kanneganti said that I was ignoring the vrole of riual. Apparently, there are systematic studies and data on the topic. I jrecently came across this:
The role of ritual in the evolution of social complexity: Five predictions and a drum roll:
"DMR theory posits two clusters of features pertaining to collective ritual and social morphology in the world’s religious traditions (Whitehouse 1995, 2000, 2004, 2012). One cluster—the imagistic mode of religiosity—is characterized by low-frequency (i.e., rarely performed), high-arousal (typically painful or frightening) rituals and small but intensely cohesive communities. The other cluster—the doctrinal mode of religiosity—is characterized by high-frequency (i.e., routinized) low-arousal (often tedious and repetitive) rituals and large-scale, hierarchical, but more diffusely cohesive communities. The imagistic mode is thought to be adaptive for groups that need to stick together in the face of strong temptations to defect—for example, when engaging enemies on the battlefield or large prey on the hunting ground. The doctrinal mode is thought to be adaptive for groups seeking to pool small amounts of resource from individuals in a much larger population so as to create a large, centralised resource in the form of charitable donations, legacies, tax or tribute – for example, when competing coalitions are organized via categorical ties of caste, race, ethnicity, or belief. These contrasting patterns of ritual and group formation have been studied in a few select religious groups both past and present (e.g., Whitehouse & Laidlaw 2004; Whitehouse and Martin 2004; Whitehouse and McCauley 2005), as well as in military groups that may or may not subscribe to beliefs in supernatural agents or forces (e.g., Whitehouse and McQuinn 2012; Whitehouse 2013). In addition to analysis of case study material from social-cultural anthropology, history, and archaeology, evidence that imagistic and doctrinal modes constitute universal features of group formation comes from the analysis of approximately 100 variables pertaining to 645 rituals from 74 cultures (Atkinson and Whitehouse 2011). This early database, allowing synchronic comparison, generated a number of predictions that will be testable using a longitudinal dataset such as Seshat......Here, we lay out five initial predictions to be tested using Seshat. We also provide an alternative to each of our predictions together with competing rationales (Table 2)."

Al Jazeera discussion on IS oil

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Douglass North RIP

Douglass North, an economist's historian by Kevib Bryan
Structure and change in economic history: The ideas of Douglass North by John Joseph Wallis:
"He profoundly appreciated how little we know about how societies actually work and how, as individuals and social scientists, we interpret what we see and experience through the ideas – theories, histories, and frameworks – we construct for ourselves. This appreciation not only gave him a life-long interest in cognition, but it was also a wellspring for his continuing ability to question what he and we believe.
All four of his major contributions came because he probed what we did not understand, obviously important questions for which we had no answers. His unerring sense of what best next question to ask flowed from his awareness of our collective ignorance. Not knowing and a willingness to admit it are personal characteristics rarely in evidence at the level of intellectual accomplishment that Douglass North reached. We all are better for his unique combination of confidence and humility."

Marianne Moore

Long ago I read some of her poems and still remember some of the lines thouh i do not really understand them. I never knew her backgroud. Today I saw this article in LRB What a mother by Mary-Kay Wilmers:" Marianne Moore was born in her mother’s childhood bedroom; grown up, she lived with her mother – most often shared her bed – until her mother died. She was then 59 and her mother 85; she lived another 25 years and died in 1972 a happy spinster, a famous poet and a grande dame."
Some of her poems here and a discussion of one here.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Links, 26 November 2015

How to counter violent extremism by Philip Giraldi (via Chris Blattman:" I began my career in the CIA working against the largely European terrorist groups that were active in the 1970s and 1980s. To be sure, there were Middle Eastern groups like Abu Nidal also prominent at the time, but the best known and most lethal terrorists were Germans, Italians, and Irishmen. They were just as ruthless as anything we are seeing today and, interestingly enough, the same questions that are being raised currently regarding the radicalization of young Muslims were raised back then regarding middle class Europeans, with a similar lack of any kind of satisfactory explanation. This is largely due to the fact that no simple answer exists because the road to radicalization, as the panels noted, can be quite complicated. Any attempt to create a model can result in erroneous conclusions that inevitably lead to the simple expedient of increasing police and governmental powers."
Reading tea leaves: What the women's movement can learn from a victory in India by Devaki Jain:
"These protesters did not allow men to be a part of the protest. “Men don’t do the work that we do,” they said. “We are the ones who pluck the leaves, carry the burden all day and even load it onto trucks.”
They did not allow unions to interfere in their protests either. Despite being in a state that has very influential unions and union leaders, the women did not allow them to become a part of their struggle. The women alleged that union leaders had colluded with the management to keep their bonus down."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

About Peter Turchin's new book

Just stared reading Ultrasociality:How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth by Peter Turchin. The writing is somewhat cavalier, so far I could find several points I could argue with, but the book as a whole may make some sense. Paul Rosenberg writes about some of the ideas in Salon. I may have more to say after I complete reading the book.

One side of Sandy's ashtray sculpted by William Ricketts

Sandy's boomerang


Yesterday, our neighbour of over 20 years was taken to live in an old people's home and we were all in tears. But she raised a ruckus and got back home and called us for a chat today. She showed us a killer boomerang she got from central Australia around 1949 with which she is planning to defend herself. She also showed a ashtray with faces sculpted on both sides by William Ricketts in Alice Springs around 1955-56. Apparently, she used to get Time magazine those days and there was an article on William Ricketts in 1955 and she when she went to visit him she gave the article to him. After a few days, he came to Alice Springs and gave the ashtray to her. First she thought that it was present for giving him the article. But he charged her thirty shillings. It may be worth a couple of thousand dollars now. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

India blockading Nepal

 "Subsequently, Kathmandu was given a clear indication by New Delhi that it expected Nepal to declare itself a Hindu Rashtra in the new Constitution. Sources said that the message was communicated to the top Nepal leaders before the Constitution was adopted. When Nepal ignored New Delhi’s directive, and decided to opt for a secular, federal Republic instead it created a major stir in New Delhi with the foreign secretary’s visit within 36 hours of the promulgation of the Constitution to basically read the Nepal government the “riot act.” " from Nepal takes first steps to move out of India's shadow, China gains
P.S. There seems to be more to it than the above article points and

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Richard Eaton on the destruction of hindu temples

We will never know the number of temples descrated throuh India's history Some quotes not clear to me:
"While premodern Indians were certainly aware of religious difference, not a single communal riot is known to have occurred for almost all of medieval history. "
See for example tales like this.
"Well before Muslim ruling houses arrived on the scene, kings would attack an enemy king’s royal temple as a necessary part of undermining that king’s sovereign rule.  This much is clear both from normative Sanskrit texts and from the inscriptional record. Later on, Muslim kings intending to establish their own rule in India simply followed this tradition."
But there was destruction of various Jewish and Christian worship places before Islam came to India. May be it was not just indian practice.

Friday, November 20, 2015


"Despite the remaining challenges, there is a sense among the practitioners of this field that they have begun to glimpse something real and very important. “I didn’t know what space was made of before,” says Swingle. “It wasn’t clear that question even had meaning.” But now, he says, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the question does make sense. “And the answer is something that we understand,” says Swingle. “It’s made of entanglement.”" says The quantum source of soace-time

Dalit writer Shyamala Gogu

Somtimes I am dubious of the value of books and reading. but they played a large role in her development, particularly translated books, she says in In conversation`. More about her here and in The Sunlatern Sings: "Shyamala is a former activist of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)—members of which were branded ‘Naxalites’ in Andhra Pradesh—and a Dalit, feminist and Telangana activist. She grew up in the Madiga quarter of Peddamul village in the Tandur region of western Telangana. Her father, a bonded agricultural labourer, got both her brothers to work in the fields as he was determined to send Shyamala to school, so that she’d be able to decipher complicated land deeds and ensure the family didn’t get cheated out of their small land holdings."

Links, 20th September, 2015

Steven Hsu links to some posts on Microaggression, Moral Cultures and the Culture of Victimhood: "Growing up, I could easily understand that there was a "generation gap" between people my age and our parents and teachers. But I could not imagine what the gap would be like between us and our own children and students. (Gee, I'm hip, and I'll always understand what it's like to be a kid or teenager...) Perhaps this is it."
A new historical data base on world human development
Dalai Lama on recent Paris attacks
Some reaction to IS in different countries Most Pakistanis say not sure
Compared to the problems of refugees these problems seem minor My white neighbours thought that I was breaking into my own apartment. Nineteen cops showed up. via J.K.Mohana Rao who describes his own experiences and I describe mine "We had similar experiences too in Melbourne. I bought a hose in a poor neighborhood in 1988. We were callked 'black dos' and somebody wrote 'black c...s' in front of our house. Once somebody threw stones on our house and in the night water started pouring in due to heavy rains. Luckily, a young neighbour who is familar with construction work, came and put a plastic sheet over the hole and repaired it next day. How did we cope? We temporarily taught children prejudice. We told them their grandfather was a postraduate and most neighbours came from riff-raff of England. I kept telling myself that dalits and brahmins fared worse in the area where i came from. Other Indians were in slightly better areas and claimed that they did not have similar experiences though some admitted in due course that they wetre heckled while waiting for buses. We moved to a middle class area after four years mainly because the schools were bad. It was much better though children were called abos (supposed to be an insult) in school sometimes. We went through various Indian functions, named some houses during functions fter Ashoka, harsha... but not Akbar. Now all are doing well with some children in big bank jobs etc. A gentleman told me that his daughter, a lawyer, is handling a two billion dollar case where a mining company is tryin to get out of the damage it has done which is still causing fires. Another tells me that his son is in some banking job and probably has the biggest salary among Indians in the southern hemisphere. we are all doing well and they tell me that Modi is transforming India."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Revisiting 'Economic possibilities for our grandchildren'

Chris Dillow Keynes' Error

Keynes proviso in 1930 "The pace at which we can reach our destination of economic bliss will be governed by four things-our power to control population, our determination to avoid wars and civil dissensions, our willingness to entrust to science the direction of those matters which are properly the concern of science, and the rate of accumulation as fixed by the margin between our production and our consumption; of which the last will easily look after itself, given the first three."
Another recent take What are the economic possibilities for our children?

Recent Chennai floods

Chennai floods are not a natural disaster-they've been created by unrestrained construction
An earlier report from India Water Portal Rain rain go away, our cities can't keep the water at bay!: "Instead of introspecting and understanding the reasons for their sources drying up, the cities looked outside. Bangalore turned to the Cauvery, Hyderabad to the Krishna and Delhi to the Ganga and now all the way up to the Giri near Renuka in Himachal Pradesh. "City administration feels that water demand cannot be fulfilled locally. So the city with more political clout goes farther away to get its water. Meanwhile, property rates keep rising and politicians and builders make money by trying to sell off floodplains as prime residential destination," says Anupam Mishra. "But when it comes to monsoon, you can't dictate God that we already have water for our need so please give us only this much rainfall," he says.
These floodplains and lakes in the low-lying parts of a city, did not just fulfil the water needs of a city, but also drained it off the excess rain water that poured there. When construction blocked the path of water, it led to water-logging on the city roads. The blame then fell on the storm water drains which in most cases, were designed very long ago and were not capable of handling the excess water that seeped into the ground. The 'Mumbai Marooned' report says that the city's drainage system was designed in the early 20th century for a maximum rainfall of 25 mm per hour, assuming that half the rain would be absorbed by the soil and only half would flow into the drainage system."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Two more articles related to Paris attacks

"French counterterrorism surveillance data (FSPRT) has identified 11,400 radical Islamists, 25 percent of whom are women and 16 percent minors—among the minors, females are in a majority. Legal proceedings are now underway against 646 people suspected of involvement in terrorist activity. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls conceded after Friday’s attacks that even keeping full track of those suspected of being prone to violent acts is practically impossible: around-the-clock surveillance of a single individual requires ten to twenty security agents, of which there are only 6,500 for all of France." from Paris:The War ISIS Wants. Yhe article goes on to say "France, the United States, and our allies may opt for force of arms, with all of the unforeseen and unintended consequences that are likely to result from all-out war. But even if ISIS is destroyed, its message could still captivate many in coming generations. Until we recognize the passions this message is capable of stirring up among disaffected youth around the world, we risk strengthening them and contributing to the chaos that ISIS cherishes."
Another by Oliver Roy in New York Times says The Attacks in Paris reveal the strategic limits of ISIS

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mahan Mitra (Maharaj) Infosystem Laureate in Mathematical Sciences 2015

My photograph from March 2009 from this blo. A write up by S.R.S. Varadhan here. He is now in TIFR, Mathematical Sciences section.

Links related to the recent Paris attack

Wahabism to ISIS: how Sauidi Arabia exported the main source of global terrorism by Karen Armstrong: "The Ikhwan spirit and its dream of territorial expansion did not die, but gained new ground in the 1970s, when the kingdom became central to western foreign policy in the region. Washington welcomed the Saudis’ opposition to Nasserism (the pan-Arab socialist ideology of Egypt’s second president, Gamal Abdel Nasser) and to Soviet influence. After the Iranian Revolution, it gave tacit support to the Saudis’ project of countering Shia radicalism by Wahhabising the entire Muslim world."
France shou;ld stop listenin to Saudi Arabia on Syria by Juan Cole
Putin: ISIS financed by 40 countries including G20 members from
Jeremy Corbyn drew attention to recent attacks in Ankara and Beirut and said that “a life is a life” no matter where in the world it was taken.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Blowing in the wind

P.Susheela just turned 80

A tribute with a list of some of her songs
One of my favourites which does not make the above list  చిట్టి పొట్టి వరాల మూట

On pensions

How diruptive technolgy destroys pensions (search the title if the link does not work):
"Beyond those macro trends, the fabric of how we work and how employers and employees relate to each other is changing. A trickle of employers abandoning traditional defined benefit (DB) pension schemes, in which they promise an income to employees in retirement and shoulder the risks that the market might fall, has turned into a flood. Now employees must make their own investment decisions and bear the risks, via defined contribution (DC) pensions, without help from their employers."

Waging nonviolence

8 ways to defend against terror nonvilently "One of my most popular courses at Swarthmore College focused on the challenge of how to defend against terrorism, nonviolently. Events now unfolding in France make our course more relevant than ever. (The syllabus was published in “Peace, Justice, and Security Studies: A Curriculum Guide” in 2009.) In fact, the international post-9/11 “war against terror” has been accompanied by increased actual threats of terror almost everywhere."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Health Status of Dalits in India

From EPW (usually available online for 4 weeks):
"Despite involving them in the most hazardous job of manual scavenging, the scavengers are not provided with necessary safety items/equipment. The mandated safety items to be provided to them include: (1) three pairs of sarees, blouses and petticoats for women, and three pairs of pants and half-sleeved shirts and a cap or headgear, etc, (2) pair of slippers, (3) masks, (4) hand gloves, (5) an adequate quantity of soaps for bathing and washing their clothes, (6) brooms, (7) a pair of ankle-high rubber shoe and for a sweeper, a pair of slippers every year, (8) in the cold season, they are provided with one pair of woollen clothes as sweaters or jackets every alternate year, (9) raincoat and caps are provided to the scavengers in every rainy and winter season. Every scavenger employed in formal sectors, such as municipal corporations and village panchayats, is entitled to all these safety items. Though it is mandatory for all government offi ces to provide the scavengers with all these safety items, in the Gujarat study it was found that of the 2,456 identifi ed scavengers, only 9.1% (223) affi rmed that they had received at least some of these items. As high as 91% were found to have received no such items to protect themselves from the possible diseases and physical injuries while performing their job (Darokar and Beck 2006: 93)"

Delhi Sweepers to fly to Japan. South Korea

for hygiene lessons. I like it.

Juan Cole on the recent Paris attack

Paris at Midnight: Attempt to push France out of anti ISIL coalition in Syria?" "A radio and television professional who was at the Bataclan and survived reported “I clearly heard them say to the hostages, ‘It is [President Francois] Hollande’s fault, it is the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria.’ They also spoke of Iraq.”

If this report is accurate, then the attackers were likely members of, or sympathizers with Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), which holds territory in Syria and Iraq, and against which France began flying missions in September. Another possible culprit is core al-Qaeda or one of its affiliates, such as the Support Front (al-Jabha al-Nusra) in Syria. The Support Front does not, however, have territory in Iraq, and France has not specifically targeted it in the west of Syria, as opposed to hitting ISIL in the east.
When I was in France in mid-October, I was told by a former diplomat that President Hollande had decided to begin flying missions against ISIL in Raqqa, Syria, last September because French intelligence had learned that ISIL was planning to hit France.........This operation may, then, have been planned even before France was militarily involved in the campaign against ISIL in Syria, and the terrorists’ assertion that it was revenge for that intervention of the past two months has things backward."
P.S. See also

Football fans sing La Marseillaise during stadium evacuation

Death in the family

From my daughter Lalita Gadde Conyers:Farewell Indy. You were the most beautiful and dignified puppy dog for the last 15 years....we will miss you incredibly
From me: Indy stayed with us a few times. Some years ago when he was staying with us he escaped. When Gavin came back, we went around the streets searching and putting up posters. I gave up after two days. But Gavin kept phoning veterinary hospitals and finally found him in one apparently hit by a car near our earlier home. He recovered and has been a pleasure for all around. That was also the first time I saw Gavin crying when we were searching for Indy,  I kept telling everybody what a wonderful son in law we had. I saw him crying again today.

Hajabba builds a school
One man's orange revolution: Harekala Hajabba: "Hajabba says his life took a turn when he encountered a foreign couple while he was selling oranges on a hot afternoon.
The couple asked him, in English, how much the oranges cost. “I could understand only local Tulu and Beary languages, so I simply stared wordlessly at the couple until they walked off. I didn’t want my future generation to suffer or look like me."

Friday, November 13, 2015

Two Hindi film songs from the late forties

Parents and Peers

From the satirical site the onion "A study released by the California Parenting Institute Tuesday shows that every style of parenting inevitably causes children to grow into profoundly unhappy adults. "Our research suggests that while overprotective parenting ultimately produces adults unprepared to contend with life's difficulties, highly permissive parenting leads to feelings of bitterness and isolation throughout adulthood," lead researcher Daniel Porter said. "And, interestingly, we found that anything between those two extremes is equally damaging, always resulting in an adult who suffers from some debilitating combination of unpreparedness and isolation. Despite great variance in parenting styles across populations, the end product is always the same: a profoundly flawed and joyless human being." The study did find, however, that adults often achieve temporary happiness when they have children of their own to perpetuate the cycle of human misery."
From the more 'scientific' studies earlier: Interview with Judith Rich Harris in 2009:
Do Parents matter?
A review of Judth Harris book from 1999 Blame it on the peers
Judith Harris book, updated in 2009 The Nurture Assumption and a discussion in the Wikipedia

Thursday, November 12, 2015

RobertTrivers:Wild Life

Read the autobiography of Robert Trivers: Wild Life. Not particularly recommended. But he is a legend to me and so no regrets.
P.S. A write up about Trivers' work: Social Evolution:Cooperation and Conflict

New antibiotics

Why new antibiotics never come to market :"For any discoveries that Murphy makes, the road ahead is paved with obstacles. Safety testing, animal testing, and then finally, the hope that a drug company and its investors can be persuaded to gamble hundreds of millions on the chemical passing the multiple stages of human clinical trials, before it can be turned into an over-the-counter product.
The odds seem slim, but with the annual global mortality rate from antibiotic resistance predicted to hit 10 million in the next 35 years, scientists remain hopeful that the politicians will come to better agreements on how to finance antibiotic development. The question is, will they get around to doing so before it’s too late?"
The Philanthrophy Hustle: "Increased charitable giving to the world’s wealthiest corporations is simply one novel aspect of a much bigger phenomenon: the growing power and clout of private philanthropic actors over global institutions such as the World Health Organization...." No money from the foundation seems to be goin to antibiotic research.

Smart people

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." Einstein is supposed to have said. I was reminded of this yesterday when a couple of NRIs said that they have not really met anybody that much smarter than them. They are not bookish or on Facebook , their self esteem seems to be a result of reasonably successful careers similar to those many other NRIs and perhaps conversations in social gatherings. In research. One is used to seeing the work of others over long periods and of different eras and one percieves hat there are people of different caliber and accomplishment though sometimes luck and location play a role. But one (I) feels that there is room for everybody, that one can contribute if one is interested and works hard. So, it was a bit of a surprise to hear those remarks. I wonder whether we really know the inner lives of others we meet frequently.
P.S. I seem to feel that everybody I meet is smarter than me in some respect or other, but it does not seem to make any difference to what I pursue.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

G.R.K.Murthy about G.V. KrishnaRao

At one time I hoped to be a lecturer in Tenali if I did not complete a Ph.D. In mathematics. It seems I could have been a colleague of G.V. Krishnarao, a familiar name from my school days.

In Telugu here About 'keelubommalu' a novel by Krishnarao, in English here and Bikshāpātra, a Telugu Playlet: Critiquing from a Marxist Perspective

Diwali by Vikram Seth

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ambedkar books

A riot in 1883

From the story of a riot by Kipling "It was Wali Dad, Agnostic and Unbeliever, shoeless, turbanless, and frothing at the mouth, the flesh on his chest bruised and bleeding from the vehemence with which he had smitten himself. A broken torch-handle lay by his side, and his quivering lips murmured, "Ya Hasan! Ya Hussain!" as I stooped over him."

But one voice has not faltered during Europe’s refugee crisis

Angela Merkel's. "We will cope" :
"However, we cannot turn back time nor can we fast-forward years into the future – and one inescapable fact remains: there are hundreds of thousands of refugees in Europe. They are here now and they will keep coming. The hundreds of thousands are fleeing war, they leave home to embark on perilous, often fatal, journeys because their home is no more. And no fence, wishful thinking or amount of aid money alone will change this.
The choice is ultimately between doing what is necessary to save lives, or turning away. On this particular decision, Merkel stands tall above her European counterparts. Sadly, she stands almost alone."
And The Indispensable European From The Economist

A maid who was a millionaire

How will Bihar election affect Modi agenda?

"The prime minister's priorities to date make it abundantly clear that he is plotting no dramatic rupture with the past; he is committed to an incremental programme of economic change. India's democratic system and important divides within his own alliance, provide enough checks and balances to mean that he is is unlikely to deviate from this course.
Wherever possible, the Modi regime will circumvent a divided parliament, deploying executive action and pushing reforms that can be adopted by India's states, where a divided national parliament poses no obstacle. In short, don't expect Mr Modi to dwell on Bihar for too long." says Milan Vaishnav.

Monday, November 09, 2015

More political versions of Bihar victory

From a review of "The Brothers Bihari" by Sankarshan Thakur, written on October 28, 2015:
"The relation (friendship and enmity) to which the BJP refers to in the hoarding is well-known - that between Mr Kumar and former chief minister Lalu Prasad. Friends of their youth, both began their careers as student leaders during anti-Emergency movements led by Jaya Prakash Narayan; led the backward castes in their state on the path of self-determination; fell out and fought each other, with Mr Kumar crafting the downfall of Mr Prasad from a seemingly invincible citadel of power; and now, are united yet again to stall the juggernaut that is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's electoral success......Mr Kumar put all this hope at stake by breaking away from the BJP - whom he needed to oust Mr Prasad - in 2013, after it became apparent that Mr Modi would be the prime ministerial candidate of the NDA. Mr Thakur provides an explanation for this move, for which Mr Kumar had to pay dearly in the Lok Sabha elections last year: "'I cannot work with this man,' he (Mr Kumar) told me… 'Narendra Modi goes beyond electoral battles, it is a battle of ideas.'" Now this battle is playing itself out in the polling booths of Bihar. It will possibly determine the political future of the country."
By Vivek Kaul from November, 2014  gives the numbers and says "This pragmatism worked in the recent by-election. Now Nitish is trying to build an even more formidable alliance by getting the left parties together as well. And this alliance, if it comes together, will be even more difficult to beat, the brand Modi notwithstanding."
More here and here. These generally give the hope and numbers to show that if Modi does not change his ways, he may not last more than a term.

Some stories behind the Bihar win of Nitish and Lalu

Prashant Kishor: Man behibd Modi LS campaign crafts Nitish win (Vijay Murthy on November 9):
"People close to him have told HT that Kishor does not care much for ideology or parties. He prefers leaders who ‘deliver’ and strongly feels Indian elections will continue to turn more presidential.
“People think of parties as too vague and amorphous. They want accountability. And can hold leaders for promises they have made,” said a source.
And so he began working to turn the Bihar election into a presidential contest. Brand Nitish was reinforced. He coined catchy slogans like “Bihar me bahaar ho, Nitish Kumar ho”."
From July, 2015 The leader and his machine (by Vandita Mishra):
"The group in the office on Strand Road is part of a larger 300-plus team of the Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC) that is mostly, about 70 per cent, made up of IIT graduates who have left high-paying jobs in MNCs to join the Nitish campaign. A need to be part of something larger and bigger, to connect and contribute to the “social” and the “political”, had earlier led some of them to the Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG) that worked on Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha campaign in 2013-2104 — the leftover CAG has now flowed into the IPAC. Others have come directly to the IPAC. Very few, only two in the core team, belong to Bihar. All are taking a break from their jobs, and though there is much talk about “risk-taking”, they seem to have little or no insecurity about finding another one. For now, till the election is done, they are offering their services to the “Leader”.....All are taking a break from their jobs, and though there is much talk about “risk-taking”, they seem to have little or no insecurity about finding another one. For now, till the election is done, they are offering their services to the “Leader”......the Prashant Kishor strategy, in the country for Modi, and for Nitish in Bihar, is to set up the teams and systems that will organise and streamline the resources and energies needed to package and promote the Leader. Even though electoral contests in India have always been presidential, this single-minded focus and this organised machine is new and remarkable.,,,,Nitish, moreover, has seemed especially unsettled and disoriented ever since he broke the JD(U)-BJP alliance after Modi’s coronation as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in June 2013, and then suffered a setback in the Lok Sabha election in 2014.
This is where a machine, of the kind Prashant Kishor offers, can prove to be seductive and useful — at the very least, it offers information from a standpoint that is relatively disinterested.
It could also be said that in Bihar the space for a campaign obsessively focused on the leader, as opposed to ideas and ideology, has existed for some time now, waiting to be filled."
Other reports from Shivam Vij on July 15 and Sanjay Singh.on November 8. From Sanjay Singh's report:
"It is difficult to assess whether it was his conviction in Nitish or it was his disillusionment with Modi or he had certain messages to convey to some top leaders in BJP, Amit Shah included, that he decided to join the Bihar chief minister and JD(U) boss.
“I wanted to see whether I was only riding a wave be at the right place at the right time with right person or something is there in me to turn around an election and win it. I am testing that for me (all by himself),” Kishor would often say in his interactions. “For once, the BJP should also get to know that”, he would add.
Kishor’s critics in JD(U) used to accuse Nitish for “outsourcing not only his campaign, but also his politics to him.” But Nitish kept his faith in him. “Prashant Kishor is from Bihar and he wants to do something for it,” he would say."

And Shimam Vij says (July 15, 2015)"It is unlikely that the JD(U) will be any different from the BJP. Parties cannot outsource campaigning in the long run. The only solution, however remote, is to transform themselves into the kind of machines that Kishor’s CAG was, or I-PAC is today.
Since the BJP gave up on the CAG and it became defunct, some of its key members have joined other political parties, including the Congress, the DMK and the Aam Aadmi Party. Some have gone back to their old careers, disillusioned that they didn’t get to aid policy work with the new government. It remains to be seen where Kishor will end up.
In the end, a Narendra Modi needs Amit Shah more than Prashant Kishor. Elections come and go, but a party can only rely on the loyalty of its own leaders. Its relations with external consultants, no matter how brilliant, will be transactional."

Modi routed in Bihar

"His government has few lasting successes to chalk up on economic and social development, or on foreign affairs. Modi has launched many campaigns such as Make in India, Digital India, and Clean India, but he has failed to show firm results in reforming the way that India is run, and has developed a reputation for being more interested in personal glory and symbolism than in implementation. That is in stark contrast to his reputation as chief minister of Gujarat before last year’s general election.
He has also failed to build constructive relations with chief ministers of states, including some run by BJP politicians who do not belong to his camp in the party, as well as those from other political parties. The lieutenant governor of Delhi, who reports to Modi’s home ministry and has some key administrative responsibilities, has continually tried to undermine Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the populist Aam Aadmi Party that defeated the BJP earlier this year.
Abroad, Modi has had major successes with more than 20 high-profile foreign trips, such as the one he is about to make to the UK, and he has even been billed in the past few days by Forbes’ magazine as the world’s ninth most powerful person. But there have been few firm investments from tens of billions of dollar promises he has reaped in places ranging from China and the US to Japan and Dubai, and little evidence of real power.
In South Asia, he has squandered much of a constructive approach that he began to adopt last year with India’s neighbours. Government policy on Pakistan has little coherence, and Modi’s successful efforts at establishing good relations with Nepal have turned into a disaster with a blockade of oil and other supplies from India, triggered by a constitutional row in Nepal. India also last week inexplicably lodged a formal complaint at the United Nations for the first time over Nepal’s human rights record.
The impression in all these areas is that the prime minister is not focussing on following through and implementing the announcements he has made. Much will now depend on how he reacts to today’s defeat – whether he reshuffles his ministers and sidelines those wh
o have been the most disruptive, and whether he begins to emerge and act as a statesman and leader.
Perhaps the unkindest remark on tele"vision, as today’s results have been emerging, came from Vir Sanghvi, a veteran commentator. Referring to Modi’s UK trip and the overseas Indians’ Wembley Stadium event he said, “He might win in Leicester or Wembley but not in Bihar.""”. from Narendra Modi and the BJP routed in Bihar state election by John Elliot (via Akshay Regulagedda). John Elliot's blog. Another recent post Nitish Kumar achieved a lot but can he drive entrepreneurial development?

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Jean Dreze dropped

from speaker's list at government conference:
"While none from the government was ready to speak on this faux pas, questions were raised if this was yet another sign of rising intolerance “of the other view” in the country.   Asked if the rising intolerance impacted India’s onward economic march, Prof Dreze said: “Tolerance is a value in its own right, we don’t have to justify it by arguing that it has economic returns. Still, I think that Raghuram Rajan had a point when he said that open debate and enquiry foster economic progress. This is not primarily because investors are put off by intolerance - investors care about profits, not communal harmony and that sort of thing. It is because economic progress depends on human creativity, innovation and initiative, all of which benefit from freedom of thought and expression. All this, of course, is a little speculative, and that’s another reason for valuing tolerance for its own sake rather than as an economic asset”. "

And a phone Call from the Chancellor

 Berlin Accomplices:The German Government role in the VW scandal from Spiegel online via The Automatic Earth. At the end "In the end, VDA President Matthias Wissmann was able to win over the chancellor. On the morning of the Commission meeting, several of those involved say, Merkel called Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. At the end of the conversation, the discrepancy to conformity factor had been decided upon: 2.1.
Perhaps, though, that should be seen as progress. The automobile industry, after all, wasn't able to get everything it asked for."

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Mukul Kesavan on Trilokpuri riots

Thirty years after: The Trilokpuri riots in Delhi:
"The thing to remember about these hardscrabble neighbourhoods is that given their origins, their residents weren’t citizens, they were desperately poor clients dependent on the State and its political operatives for every basic facility and amenity. Nothing was theirs by right; even more than in the rest of India, their lives depended on the vagaries of local politics and their access (or lack of it), to patronage and ‘protection’.
Old urban neighbourhoods where communities have lived adjacently or intermingled over many generations sometimes develop inter-community networks that help their residents negotiate communal flashpoints without violence, as Ashutosh Varshney has shown in his book, Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life. But in urban settlements created by bureaucratic fiat as holding pens for Delhi’s poor, life is a Hobbesian zero-sum game where common sense consists of staying on the right side of Leviathan and its grubbing agents.
This dependency, this permanent state of clientage is why the Congress-directed pogrom of 1984 was bloodiest in the resettlement colonies. Contrary to the durable urban myth that riots are engineered by ‘outsiders’, the Sikh residents of Trilokpuri and Kalyanpuri were killed by their neighbours, by people they lived with and recognized. Their killers weren’t inherently evil: their urban circumstance had made them creatures of a vicious State apparatus and they jumped to do its bidding."
Soutik Biswas also comments Why the riots in Delhi's Trilokpuri are significant

Bottle gourd seedlings

In the three pots in front. Don't know what works in growth. Planted at the same time but in different localities and now shifted to the same place.

25 years, 36,000 post cards

(via Madhukar Shukla) "As a teenager, a poor villager in Andhra Pradesh wanted to join the postal service. With no money for higher education, a job with the government agency could have made his life secure.

But a relative supported him financially and sent him to medical school. That changed the life of Araveeti Ramayogaiah, who went on to become a pediatrician. Decades later, his day-to-day practice became inseparable from the postal service.

For almost 25 years, Ramayogaiah wrote and sent postcards to India’s poor, especially women, telling them about ways to prevent – rather than cure – diseases. The good doctor died in Hyderabad in September this year at the age of 65. The inexpensive postcard was Ramayogaiah’s solution to private hospitals, which are typically inaccessible and unaffordable for many of India’s poor." from 25 years, 36,000 post cards: How one doctor's gesture helped India's rural poor to stay healthy
Meanwhile from a new venture of  J. Craig Venter "You will get a custom-made iPad app to navigate data about yourself. Also, your wallet will be at least $25,000 lighter."

Kshama Sawant seems to be winning again

"She rejects the role of saviour, however. She explained that in the case of the housing crisis, government has a vital role to play in cracking down on slumlords, passing a strong tenants rights bill and rent control, but the message is, “I’m not going to solve your problem, the message is, you need to get organized.”
If that happens, Seattle may become an incubator for 21st-century socialism. " from 

With Kshama Sawant Claiming Reelection Victory, Seattle Doubles Down on Socialism via Lambert Strether of Naked Capitalism

Friday, November 06, 2015

Dalit cooks and Indian Schools

Madhukar Shukla posted this story about the appointment of a Dalit cook in a Karnataka village school led to a boycott by upper caste villagers: "Radhamma is a Scheduled Caste, and the condition that she not make food is the only way she can retain her job of head cook at the Government Higher Primary School in Kagganahalli village in Kolar district of Karnataka. In January 2014, there were 118 students at the school, from Classes I to VIII. Since her appointment in February 2014, 100 have left. The remaining 18 continue on the condition, laid down by their parents, that Radhamma not make the mid-may meal."
There are several similar stories from other parts of India, U.P in 2010,, Tamil Nadu in 2012 and Karnataka itself from the school wherte the chief minister studied. The chief minister Siddaramaiah seems relatively progressive and the issue was resolved though various other problems remain accordding to this Caravan story.  More about the cief minister here "A leader of Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said the chief minister of the southern state of Karnataka would be beheaded if he dared to eat beef in the town of Shivamogga. "Let him eat beef at Gopi Circle in Shivamogga. If he does so, he will be beheaded. We won't think twice about that," S N Channabasappa, former president of the local municipal council in Shivamogga district, was quoted as saying by the daily Deccan Herald.
Siddaramaiah, who belongs to the Congress Party, is the highest elected leader in the state. He had earlier said he has no qualms about eating cow's meat. "Nobody could stop me from eating beef, pork or any other meat if I wished to," Siddaramaiah told reporters in Bengaluru on Sunday (1 November)."
enerally, these midday meals are not that great accordin to India's untouchable midday meals:
"Whereas extra caution will eliminate lizards and rats, India’s cruel and lousy caste system will sadly be around for centuries."
O.S. Radhamma case update(11, Nov. 2015)

Animalas against cruelty

Aussie Optimism Program

From Curtin University; article in Huffington Post:
"A five-year-old's ability to learn mental resilience is being demonstrated in an Australian program with astounding results.
Aussie Optimism is an in-school class that treats mental health like maths or science, teaching children from Year 1 up to Year 8 how to identify their emotions and put their lives into perspective.
Co-director Rosanna Ronney told The Huffington Post Australia graduates had less likelihood of mental health difficulties and suicidal behavior. A study also showed participants were able to more quickly recover from depressive behaviour when compared to the general population. They were also shown to be less likely to drink or smoke later in life.
"I think it’s a little bit like learning spelling and maths, you can’t do too much mental health resilience training," Ronney told HuffPost Australia."

Report. They are on FaceBook too

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Trudeau's cabinet

Impressive in terms representing various groups. How they will handle veteren bureaucrats ia another question.
Full list

A talk about Rachakonda Viswanatha Sastry

Here includes a transcript:
".నాకు కన్యాశుల్కం అంటే ఇష్టం గనుక నేనింత బాగా రాయగలిగేను" 

Staring at computers at night

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Rajendra Singh awarded Stockholm Water Prize

RTE working in some places

From The Hindu article Leading from within "This government-run Primary School in Hamirpur district in Uttar Pradesh is one of the eight per cent of schools in India that comply with most of the norms and standards stipulated in the RTE Act. The RTE Act that came into being on April 1, 2010, casts a legal obligation on the Central and State Governments to implement the fundamental right of children to free and compulsory education. It lays down detailed guidelines for the development of curriculum, training of teachers and pupil-teacher ratios. Furthermore, it emphasises child-centric and child-friendly learning and an environment that is free of fear, trauma and anxiety for children. It has been exactly five years since the RTE Act came into being, and only a fraction of its promise has been fulfilled across the country.
Even that fraction throws up impressive statistics: 110 million children are served meals in the mid-day meal scheme making it the world’s largest school-feeding programme; 199 million children are in schools and studying. A study by the Azim Premji Foundation, quoted in the report released by the RTE Forum recently, shows that in semi-urban and rural areas, the belief that private school education is better than government schools is a myth. This was reflected in the experience of the parents in this village in Hamirpur too."
See also Five education initiatives that are changing India The above is not one of them.