Monday, November 24, 2014

Ferguson, Bob McCulloch, Obama and the Hypocrisy over Race in USA

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The election of Barack Hussein Obama was hailed as a great step toward racial equality in USA. However, many are now willing to say that the symbol of a black President in USA is only making racism more sinister as it can now hide behind the back of Obama. When USA preaches with aggressive tone the doctrine of human rights, social justice and equal opportunity, a ritual which is compounded from time to time by the release of Human Rights Reports by the American Congress, the world has every legitimate reason to hold USA accountable to the same standards it so eloquently proclaims. The American media picks up the signal and magnifies it across the world. The complicity of the mainstream US media in propagating the case a false case as it turned out, against Iraq and Saddam Hussein leading to the invasion and the consequent death of nearly half a million Iraqis has not bee highlighted in countries like India whose Liberals still believe that USA is a model of legal and constitutional propriety. I remember Kancha Illiah even advocating American style civil rights in India and blaming India for neglecting the dalits and holding USA as a model that can be practiced in India.

The Prosecutor of St Louis, Missouri Mr Bob McCulloch held a Press Conference today in which he said that the Grand Jury found that the Police Office Mr Darren Wilson had not broken the law by gunning down an unarmed black youth, Mr Michael Brown. The purpose of the Grand Jury procedure was to determine whether the white Police Officer was justified in the use of deadly force.  The Jury consisting of 9 whites and 3 African Americans found Wilson had justifiable cause to use deadly force as Brown came advancing towards the Officer in a seemingly aggressive manner. The fact that goes unreported and the American Media ignores is this" If a Black Police Officer had shot and killed a white youth in the same circumstances would the verdict of the Jury been different. There is no doubt that had the situation been different and the victim been white the reaction both of the Media and the Public would have been different. Barack Obama instead of expressing outrage at the travesty of justice in Ferguson, only made matters worse by spouting inane pieties about Rule of Law and treid to turn public outrage felt among the Blacks into private mourning and grief by quoting Brown's father. If Obama has any honesty in him he should have quoted Brown's Mother who was out protesting the verdict.

The African American population live in a racist society in which the white Liberals no longer practice the obscene kind of racism associated with segregation and the like. However, the veneer of racial equality that is generated by the Media breaks down when we subject it to close analysis. USA is too deeply entrenched in racial attitudes and the Ferguson verdict only highlights the failure of the American state to treat the "children of a lesser God" as equals. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

On Paper: A Grand History of an everyday necessity: How Nicholas Basbanes looks at History

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Nicholas Basbabes has a way with words. He writes clearly and elegantly on one of the most humble objects we see around us, whose use we take for granted and yet do not realize that without paper the world would have been that much poorer. In the course of this rather long, ans at time rambling account of the history of paper, Nicholas Basbanes traces the diffusion of paper from China to Europe as a result of the Mongol Conquest. Though in Egypt the reed papyrus was used as a writing surface at least from the time of the pharaohs, the Romans after the conquest of Egypt introduced papyri to Europe. The fall of the Roman Empire, the awful revolution as Gibbon called it separated Egypt from the Western Roman Empire  and animal skin, vellum replaced papyrus as a writing surface.

Basbanes shows that China was the earliest civilization to manufacture paper using fibre extracted from trees. paper making was considered an art form and throughout East Asia hand made paper was used extensively for writing and painting. From China the technology diffused to the Islamic world and in the medieval period, Syria and Fatimid Egypt were centres of the production of paper. The Islamic conquest of Spain brought this  new technology to Spain and thence it spread to the rest of Europe. There is no doubt that paper and paper making exerted an enormous influence on the cultural armature of the western world. Without paper one cannot think of the Gutenberg Revolution, the  Printing Press which marked the beginning of Western ascendancy over the rest of the world. Basbanes ignores the role of India. In India we have evidence of the use of paper as early as the first century BC in the buddhist text, Milindapanho, the Questions of King Menander.  However, in India memory (Smrithi) and Voice (Shruthi) were always prized over writing and therefore we do not have the same sort of wide spread use of paper as we find in Europe.

The most interesting parts of the book deal with the various events in History in which paper played a decisive role" the Stamp Act that launched the American Revolution and the paper around the greased cartridges that ignited the flames of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny in India. The author traces the establishment of the paper industry along the rivers of North America and also stresses the environmental impact in the form of the depletion of forests. The discovery of cellulose as an alternative made it possible for the rapid growth of the Cotex product (the sanitary pad) and the kleenex tissues which saved thousands of lives in the trenches of World War I. The cultural impact of the paper industry was indeed enormous. The author then discusses the more specialized kinds ofpaper used in the printing of passports and currency notes.

The book is based on extensive research and is certainly packed with useful information.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Prospects of the Congress in Tamil Nadu after the Revolt of G K Vasan

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

As expected the son of the Late G K Moopen has revolted and the dynastic fascists have reacted by expelling him from the party. The main reason for the exit of G K Vasan from the Congress party is the fact that P Chidambaram and his faction has succeeded in edging out the loyalists of Vasan from all key positions. P Chidambaram is in desparate need of a Rajya Sabha seat and Tamil Nadu does not have the strength to send him to the Rajya Sabha and he faces stiff opposition from the erstwhile G K Moopen loyalists. Ironically, bith Jayathi Natrajan and Chidambarm were members of the Moopen faction of the erswhile Tamil Manila Congress. Who can ever forget the horrifying image of G K Moopen and Jayathi Natarajan arriving atrategically ath the scene of the bomb blast at Sriperembudur which killed Rajiv Gandhi miniutes after the deed was done. The fational feuds within the Congress has led to a state of paralysis in the Party and the Congress commands less than 2.2% of the vote base in the region. When G K Moopen was around the TMC was able to garner nearly 18% of the vote in alliance with the DMK.

G K Vasan certainly has no illusion of being a credible force in the minefield of Dravidian politics. However, he has made a careful assessment of the political situation. With the DMK in terminal decline and the demose of Karunanidhi will only hasten the eventual erosion of the DMK and with the possibility of Jayalalithaa not being in a position to contest the 2016 State Election, G K Vasan has calculated that his faction with occupy th middle ground between the two davidian gionts. What this calculation overlooks is the fact that the HJP fighting on its own has increased its vote share from 4% to nealrly 8%-- a virtual doubling of the vote in Tamil Nadu. Therefore, G K Vasan will have to align himself with the BJP as a matter of course: the logic of the political arthmatic demands this alliance,

Congress politics in Tamil Nadu has been on the decline ever since Rajaji teamed up with the Dravidian party, the DMK to defeat the Congress therefore the crdit for a Congress Mukth Tamil Nadu should go to Rajaji. His grandson sitting in New Delhi can wax eloquently on the future of the Congress, but the fact remains thst Rajahi ensured the permanent and final end of the Congress. G K Vasan cannot change this trend and his departure from the Congress is only an insurance policy for the future.

Dynastic politics is being rejected all over India. Narendar Modi and Amit Shah will ensure that even Kashmir will become Congress Mukth.