Indian Secularism: Is There A Rationale For Defensiveness?

April 30, 2014 2 comments


Does Indian society and polity need to defend itself against random barbs of sectarianism? Any quantitative measure would indicate that no grounds exist for such barbs.
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Twitter exchange between - swapan55- and @_sabanaqvi We have agreement ... Screen shot on 2014-04-30 03-35-10 | Click on image to go actual tweet message

Twitter exchange between – swapan55- and @_sabanaqvi We have agreement … Screen shot on 2014-04-30 03-35-10 | Click on image to go actual tweet message

fter having to give away Pakistan and Bangladesh (now), which was about 20% of the Indian land-mass, India by rights could have decided to be a narrow, sectarian country.

End Games

Even before the Indian Partition, Indians in neighbouring countries (e.g. Sri Lanka, Burma) under British influence were expelled, excluded and made into second class citizens.

These were difficult political compromises made by Indian negotiators – to arrive at the outline of current political India. With a broken economy and no military back-up, negotiations with world’s pre-eminent military and economic power were never easy or straight-forward.

In any negotiations, British Raj usually started with an advantage.

Trading Losses

100-years before Independence, in 1840, Britain had already lost Afghanistan – which was a part of the Sikh Empire last ruled by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and founded by Banda Bahadur.

Soon after Independence, Tibet was lost to China – while US made much noise and gave little support. Keeping Communist China with one foot outside the Soviet camp, to US was more important than Tibet or India.

After ceding Pakistan and losing traction in Burma, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet were major blows to India. These were major raw-materials sources for India and markets for Indian output. These countries were also important buffers from land-based military adventurers.

Polity Trends

After these kind of amputations, the modern India that was put together has a vast numbers of ‘minorities – with no singular elitist class. In Bharattantra, Brahmins and banias were excluded from political affairs and the State was excluded from academic and economic affairs.
In this kind of context, the Congress Party, painted as a ‘Hindu’ party, had to make special efforts to be seen as a national party. Above sectarian politics. After 70-years of seeing treatment in the West and in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh, the long-term fundamentals of Indian society should be plain.
Especially to Indian Muslims.

Worship vs Religion

Since, worship-practices in India have been so varied, to make that as a political point does not come easily to Indian polity or society. Unlike the West, where  secularism came about due to Napoleonic imposition to curtail excesses by the Church.
In Bharattantra, India’s traditional political philosophy, State intrusion into worship-practices or traditions is alien and unacceptable.
However, in most parts of the world, religion is usually a political weapon – controlled by One Book, One God, One Government, One Currency, One Morality, et al.
Hence, for and in India, wariness about making religion into a political issue is ever-present – which must be dealt with the contempt that it deserves.
Can there be any room for debate or discussion on this?

Can we?

Having granted Pakistan, midwifed Bangladesh, historical agreements are clear. Muslims from the Indian sub-continent, who wish to insert Islam into politics are free to do so.
In Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Confirmed: Russia’s Back In The Game

November 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Pax Americana needs a rival – and for now Russia is asserting itself. A circumspect Russia – with less ideology and more realpolitik.
Obama's red line finally turned out to be line in the sand  |  Cartoon by Nate Beeler on Aug 28, 2013 in media.cagle.com

Obama’s red line finally turned out to be line in the sand | Cartoon by Nate Beeler on Aug 28, 2013 in media.cagle.com

Two years ago, in November 2011, 2ndlook deciphered the Russian writing on the wall.

Syria seemed like a tempest in a teapot. Another Libya in the making. Pax Americana would stomp over Syria.

Except this time, the Russians were back.

Back again.

Does such propaganda work?  |  Cartoon by Steve Breen on August 29, 2011 in utsandiego.com

Does such propaganda work? | Cartoon by Steve Breen on August 29, 2011 in utsandiego.com

Prince Bandar bin Sultan flew into Moscow. His conversation with Vladimir Putin is a study in how diplomacy is not done. Give us Syria, said Bandar, and take the world. It was like the Biblical yarn about the Devil tempting Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. “Get thee behind me, Satan,” said Christ, refusing the blandishments. When Bandar offered all the guarantees for a “terror free” Sochi Winter Olympic games next year, Putin said we know you control terrorists.

This amazing conversation was supposed to be under wraps but one of the two sides leaked it to the Russian press. Bandar’s other startling undertaking was that whatever he offered the Russians had American backing.

This was the trump card Bandar handed Putin at the global casino’s high table.

via The US, Saudi, Israeli alliance is coming apart.


Ignorant Teaching The Blind: Problem with the Parable

September 7, 2013 3 comments

To rebut shallow readings of Harishchandra story no external logic, data is needed Answers are in the criticism itself.

Advertisement for First Indian movie, ‘Raja Harishchandra’, appeared in Bombay Chronicle on 3rd May, 1913.

Advertisement for First Indian movie, ‘Raja Harishchandra’, appeared in Bombay Chronicle on 3rd May, 1913.

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ndian ignorance of Bharattantra (the classical Indian political system that governed India) is so colossal that it only be seen when ‘respected’ writers expound on Indian classics in mainstream media – from a position of total ignorance and bias.

From Darkness

Take this. We have today a post on Raja Harishchandra which is being faulted for all the values that it stands against.

Below is an excerpt.

Fifty generations have been told to emulate the virtuous monarch. In order to keep his word, Harish Chandra was prepared to endure the worst possible misery. The nobility of this is emphasised in every retelling. Gandhiji, for example, loved the story and, certainly, he lived by this principle of accepting extreme personal hardship in the pursuit of his moral principles.

What is not emphasised is that Harish Chandra was also prepared to put other people through equally great misery, without consulting them, in order to keep his word. He ruined his family and humiliated his wife by forcing her to strip in public (that particular theme has always fascinated Indians). Apart from the patriarchal assumption that his wife and son were disposable goods, he thought his word outweighed his responsibilities as a family man.

We are not told what happened to the kingdom’s per capita income in the period between his abdication and the divine intervention. Perhaps the place prospered. Perhaps not. Either way, Harish Chandra handed over executive responsibilities and the state’s resources to someone with unknown competencies when it came to making executive decisions, or managing state finances. As an absolute monarch, he did not, of course, consult his subjects on the regime transfer.

The story also contains a raft-load of caste stereotypes and biases. Brahmins are good; Kshatriyas are good; corpse disposers are dirty, unless they are gods or Kshatriyas in disguise. The biases and assumptions offer fascinating insights into the social structure of ancient India: absolute monarchy, absolute patriarchy, caste rigidities and a twisted code that placed personal honour above the well-being of the family, or of entire kingdoms. In itself, this would be only of historical interest.

The scary thing is that Harish Chandra’s behaviour is cited as being worth emulating in 21st-century school textbooks. The negative externalities of his behaviour are ignored even in the modern versions of the story. Caste and patriarchal prejudices are reinforced, and the concepts of democratic consultation and consensus are conspicuous by their absence.

By contemporary moral standards, Raja Harish Chandra was a monster. He should have broken his word and taken whatever punishment the Maharishi handed out, sooner than cause this sort of harm to his family. Nor should he have disposed of state resources in this irresponsible fashion and placed the lives and fortunes of all his subjects in potential jeopardy.

Moral standards change. When you read an old story, you have to cherry-pick the moral lessons you should imbibe from it. Unfortunately, as a nation, we seem to have internalised all the wrong lessons from Raja Harish Chandra.

His laudable commitment to the truth and to keeping his word has fallen by the wayside. But the monumental self-absorption and absolute indifference to the well-being of others that he displayed characterise both our public and private behaviour.

The parable also supposedly teaches us to rely upon divine intervention. Raja Harish Chandra beggared himself and abdicated responsibility for the state’s resources. Only divine intervention put things right again. We emulate him as best we can, by playing ducks-and-drakes with our public finances. Unfortunately, divine intervention is not that reliable when it comes to fixing fiscal deficits.

via Devangshu Datta: The problem with the parable | Business Standard.

Usual Stuff …

The writer of this post, Devangshu Dutta (DD), makes the usual five points.

  1. Rigid caste system
  2. Absolute monarchy
  3. State-controlled economy
  4. Slavery
  5. Self-absorbed Indians

To see how shallow DD’s reading of Harishchandra story is, no external logic or data is needed. All the answers are in the criticism itself.

Caste System: If Raja Harishchandra could from a king become a chandala to a king again, how rigid was the caste system?

In which society, in the history of the world has a king become a king again after having come down in his life to a lowly status as a chandala?

Rajas & Nawabs: What are the marks of absolute monarchy? Grand palaces, monuments, costly wars, humongous treasuries, over-taxed peasants groaning in misery, oppressive police and soldiery, et al.

How many such elements do we find in Indian history for 4000 years after Raja Harishchandra?

From Indus Valley-Saraswati Basin cities till Mughal India how many monuments do we find? Over-taxed peasants make an entry after Mughal India and the British.

Royal Patronage: It may come as a surprise to DD that the ‘Indispensable’ State was not the engine for Indian economic activity till about 100 years ago.

While economies in the Rest of the World depended on royal patronage, Indians had unfettered right to land and gold. Even currency and coinage were not controlled by the kings. So much for DD’s silly argument of ‘absolute’ Indian monarchs.

This ensured that local and national economy did not depend on royal patronage or initiatives.

Unlike in the ‘modern’ ‘free market’ or socialist economies.

Slavery: Slaves have no control over slavery.

From capture to death, slaves have no control over their destiny – and this loss of liberty has State protection. Indian classics have many stories how kings became ‘dasas’ and later freed themselves from the position of ‘dasas’.

Dasas controlled their servitude – whereas slaves cannot. Indian legal texts expounding Bharattantra have no laws that give State protection to slave-owners. India remains the only society in history that has never given legitimacy to slave owners. It appears that slave owning societies were described as asuric societies.

In fact, there is no Indian word for slaves – except imported words.

Self-absorbed Indians: From Matthew Arnold to Max Muller, we have seen how colonial Britain has painted Indians as inward looking.

Factually, from the Indian woman who was the inn-keeper at Babylon to the Yogi who met Socrates, Indians have travelled the world over. Indians are the second largest diaspora in the world today – after the Chinese. Unlike Christopher Columbus or Vasco da Gama who were sponsored by the State, the Indian diaspora has spread across the world at their own risk -

Without State sponsorship.

The skeptical and unbelievers, will have counter-arguments – which is a valid position. But DD’s post seems to show that as far as Indian classics go …

In modern India, we have the blind leading the ignorant.


 

7-Most Important Things You Should Know About Narendra Modi

July 16, 2013 22 comments

Must you not know why you love or loath #NaMo – more commonly known by his full name Narendra Modi.

After you read these 7-Most important things about Narendra Modi you will no longer wonder why you loved him – or loathed him.

Clear your ideas about Narendra Modi.

1. From CM-to-PM

If Narendra Modi does succeed in his Prime Ministerial bid, he will India’s first Prime Minister (PM) who progressed from a party worker to a Chief Minister onto become the Prime Minister.

Narendra Modi’s move from CM to PM will not be an ‘accidental’ PM, as some of the other PMs. Like Deve Gowda (Karnataka-CM -11 December 1994 – 31 May 1996), Chandrasekhar (never a CM per Wikipedia), Choudhary Charan Singh (UP CM-18 February 1970 – 1 October 1970; 3 April 1967 – 25 February 1968), VP Singh (UP CM – 9 June 1980 – 19 July 1982), IK Gujral (never a CM per Wikipedia).

Narendra Modi’s kind of career progression, from party worker-to-minister-to-Chief Minister-to-probable PM candidate while logical, has never happened in India.

If it happens, it will open the minds of career politicians on possible career paths.

2. Modi’s Polity

How close is Narendra Modi to the classical Indian ideal of polity where concentration of power is impossible with wide dispersal of power, wealth and poverty – defined as Bharattantra by 2ndlook?

Narendra Modi is as far – or as near to Bharattantra, as any politician in India. After all, a fruit never falls far from the tree. Indian political parties, politicians, party workers are all part of the system – of which Narendra Modi is a product.

Narendra Modi’s activist, hands-on style makes it appear that he is more efficient – but as LK Advani pointed out, Gujarat is an already ‘efficient’ State. Modi ‘may’ lay greater ‘focus’ on agriculture, education, mega-projects, etc. Congress may ‘claim’ greater ‘commitment’ to ‘minority, women & child’ welfare, etc.

Is Modi likely to ignore ‘minority, women & child’ welfare? Unlikely, going by his sound bytes.

Is Congress likely to ignore agriculture, education, mega-projects? Unlikely, going by their manifesto and sundry noises made by talking heads.

More or less is the difference between BJP and Congress.

3. Modi As A Polarizing Figure

So, is Modi a polarizing figure?

More than 6 years ago, APJ Kalam, India’s erstwhile President suggested that India must move towards a 2-Party democracy – like the US.

This movement from multi-party democracy to a 2-party democracy calls for a kind of polarization that is now common across Desert Bloc. In Europe it is Social Democrats  (represented in India by the Congress) and Christian Democrats (which is BJP in India). In the US it is Republicans and Democrats. In Britain it Conservatives versus Labour. In the Islāmic world, it is Shia vs Sunni.

Only in India has there been so many political entities with a rainbow of ideologies. Till 1977 it was Congress and the Seven Dwarfs – Congress (O), CPI, CPIM, Forward Bloc /Republican Party, Jana Sangh, Praja Socialists, Swatantra Party. In 1977, Jayaprakash Narayan worked to create an amalgam of Janata Party – which managed to oust Congress for the first time. The amalgam melted under pressures of power-jockeying by the Janata Party constituents.

Nevertheless, the 1977 Janata Party victory unleashed a spate of regional parties, that made local issues centre stage. Now for more than 30 years, no single party has won a parliamentary majority on its own steam. In such a situation, political fluidity has forced a certain kind of national consensus that ensures whichever party is in power, has to follow a broad political consensus on national policy.

More than Congress, BJP is trying to break this mold, by polarizing voters – which it hopes will be at the cost of the regional parties. Congress with the momentum of being a party in power, sees less need for this polarization right now. But that can change. For now, it is BJP which is eager for this polarization.

What are the ideological underpinning to this polarization? Nil. Zero. Zilch. 零. Nul. Null. μηδέν. ゼロ. нул. cero. It is simple power-calculus by BJP-Congress to reduce the importance of the regional parties.

4. Will Namo Polarization Strategy work?

Considering the sheer number of issues that confront India, people will choose ‘specialist’ political parties to address specific issues. Can two-party system capture all the issues that bother the Indian Voter? For now, seems unlikely.

Modi instead of chasing coalition partners, is chasing polarization!

Will this polarization strategy work?

Modi has gathered around him many Indian-Americans and it seems like this polarization idea is coming out of an Brown YummRikan Hat. Much like how some Brown YummRikans crafted the India-Shining campaign, even the current Modi strategy seems to have significant Brown YummRikan inputs.

Many of these Brown-Foreigner voices are creating a red-herring agenda for Narendra Modi. In less than 10 days, two such foreign writers expected Modi to model himself on Reagan and Thatcher. Are these foreign-consultants influencing Modi?

For instance, this revealing statement

In a democracy there will be a polarization between Democrats and Republicans.

Namo’s inspiration from US, sounds much like Advani’s call for debate with Manmohan Singh in 2009 elections – just “like in foreign countries.”

Wonder why this preoccupation by Narendra Modi with taking direction from American democracy!

5. Namo’s Message

What is Narendra Modi’s agenda? If NaMo has no defining agenda, Congress will define it.

Like 2002. Or ‘Hindu Terror’.

He says Development. Modernization. What does this mean? Will words like development, modernization enthuse the Indian Voter to stand in a line and vote for Narendra Modi?

How many Voters will stir from their houses to ‘save’ India from dynastic politics? How many Voters share Modi’s concerns about dynastic politics.

After notching up more than 75 combined man-years of governance in 12 states and the centre from 1990-2013, does BJP have to answer silly accusations about ‘secularism’?

Will Modi get more votes, if he raises the debate pitch on ‘secularism’? In a nation, where people do not bother about their neighbours religion, will speeches about secularism brings votes or boredom?

In 2009 elections, Advani raised dead topics like:

  • Money in Swiss Bank (Why bother? I am not getting any of it?)
  • Television debates (I doubt if he has anything interesting?)
  • Terrorism (Bhai, yeh terrorism kya hota hai? Urban anxiety!)
  • Strong India (Looks pretty solid to me!)

Is this anything as simple and smart as ‘Garibi Hatao’? Narendra Modi agenda as PM and his campaign has, similiar-to-Advani lack of focus.

6. Modi The Reformer

While Narendra Modi keeps making sounds about ‘minimum government, he is also admiring how the Chinese State spends an amount far bigger than India on ‘educating’ Chinese.

While  data on Gujarat government has not been collated, it is also irrelevant. Narendra Modi’s policy-response as a Prime Minister are likely to be far different from his actions as  Chief Minister. The change in context will surely change the response also.

Apart from paying lip-service, Narendra Modi has made no policy outline on thinning or reducing the State. Of course, one must remember that the India State is the thinnest among all major economies of the world.

7. Modi & 2002

Which party organized communal riots in response to Direct Action announced by Jinnah? Congress!

India has long history of communal riots – and Congress has used this ‘tool’ – liberally and frequently. While this is public knowledge, no one penalizes Congress for being an organizer of communal riots.

Unlike BJP, Congress has managed to keep 1984 anti-Sikh riots out of limelight – and keep the 2002 riots in full focus. Even the horrific Godhra incident has been airbrushed out of the national RAM (random access memory).

Is this the first time communal riots have happened in India? No. Is it the last time. No, to that also.

Will communal riots happen in the future. Definitely yes. Just like tension and riots are happening in Belfast. Like the US police forces are readying for race riots after Zimmerman acquittal in the Trayvon killing case.

Assuming Narendra Modi did turn a Nelson’s eye to the rioting, in previous and subsequent cases (like in Assam) did riots happen without political connivance?

2014-The Bugles Sound

Clearly, the 2014 Election Bugle has been sounded.

BJP and Narendra Modi have time to clean up their confusion.

By early announcements by the BJP, Congress has been forced to drain their venom early. Will they have the bite left, by the time elections actually happen?

Anna-Kejriwal has seen their first defection. Kiran Bedi has thrown her lot with the BJP.

Interesting times ahead, folks!


Questions #Snowden Has Not Asked More Important Than The Answers That He Has Given

June 30, 2013 3 comments

The close co-operation of the Anglo-Saxon Bloc to keep the world under their electronic surveillance is war by ‘other’ means.

Little Difference Between One-Party Systems and 2-Party Democracies  |  Cartoon BY SCOTT STANTIS on June 25, 2013 in chicagotribune.com

Little Difference Between One-Party Systems and 2-Party Democracies | Cartoon BY SCOTT STANTIS on June 25, 2013 in chicagotribune.com

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f it has not shocked, the scale of electronic surveillance of India by the US certainly has surprised Indians – except 2ndlook readers.

For the last 4 years, before Bradley Manning, Wikileaks and before Edward Snowden, 2ndlook has been raising the danger-flag of the Big Brother State.

PRISM & The Boundless Informant: Why Was India Such An Important Target For America’s NSA?

To many Indians who have considered US to be a friendly country, it may still not be enough that India has been under greater surveillance by the US than proclaimed US-rivals like China and Russia.

Clues to a changing world

In March 2013 the NSA picked up 9.6 billion pieces of information from India’s computer networks, making it the fifth tracked country in the world after Iran, Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt. The top four are all Muslim countries, with Jordan also a close ally, so it’s a no-brainer why the NSA is targeting them. But has the world shifted so much on its geopolitical axis that India is now a bigger target than Russia and China?

There are two possibilities. One, the Americans are making sure India remains on its side of the fence. Secondly, if the NSA has been able to steal more data from India than from Russia and China, it only shows how powerless developing countries are against well-equipped spy agencies.

via Why there are no friends in the spy game | Russia & India Report.

In Europe, Germany occupies the dubious position of being under greater surveillance than other European countries.

The fact that US is mounting this surveillance operations in partnership with Britain has only added to the disquiet.

An Uncanny Alliance

We have Edward Snowden to thank for this insight into the interaction of an uncanny club, the Alliance of Five Eyes. Since World War II, the five Anglo-Saxon countries of Great Britain, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada have maintained close intelligence cooperation, which apparently has gotten completely out of control.

It may be up to the Americans and the British to decide how they handle questions of freedom and the protection of their citizens from government intrusion. But they have no right to subject the citizens of other countries to their control. The shoulder-shrugging explanation by Washington and London that they have operated within the law is absurd. They are not our laws. We didn’t make them. We shouldn’t be subject to them.

The totalitarianism of the security mindset protects itself with a sentence: If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. But firstly, that contains a presumption: We have not asked the NSA and GCHQ to “protect” us. And secondly, the sentence is a stupid one: Because we all have something to hide, whether it pertains to our private lives or to our business secrets.

No Agency Should Collect So Much Data

Thus the data scandal doesn’t pertain just to our legal principles, but to our security as well. We were lucky that Edward Snowden, who revealed the spying to the entire world, is not a criminal, but an idealist. He wanted to warn the world, not blackmail it. But he could have used his information for criminal purposes, as well. His case proves that no agency in the world can guarantee the security of the data it collects — which is why no agency should collect data in such abundance in the first place.

That is the well-known paradox of totalitarian security policy. Our security is jeopardized by the very actions that are supposed to protect it.

So what should happen now? European institutions must take control of the data infrastructure and ensure its protection. The freedom of data traffic is just as important as the European freedom of exchange in goods, services and money. But above all, the practices of the Americans and British must come to an end. Immediately.

via Jakob Augstein: Data Spying Programs Threaten German Security – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Safety First, Privacy Essential

Apart the selection of targets (India, Germany, etc.), the joint activities of the Anglo-Saxon Bloc, the question is that of solutions. How can users be safeguarded?

  • Is some kind of browser-based, sender-receiver encryption the answer?
  • Do we need a greater variety of desktop-OS that will stop data-snooping?
  • Should we have a global protocol where routers and internet switches use open-source chips, where the encryption key is variable and user-based?
  • Do we need a combination of all the above ideas, which will secure the system, at multiple levels?

Maybe an alliance of India, Taiwan, Korea, Germany, China and Russia can define this architecture?

Terrorism? What About It!

In any one year, mosquitoes kill more Indians (malaria, dengue, chikungunya, etc.) than terrorists.

Is it time that we stopped Governments from terrorizing us with these false alarms? The answer to terrorism may also lie in checking the Anglo-Saxon Bloc.

Why is it that allies, past and present, of the Anglo-Saxon Bloc, are the source and generators of terror-factories!

Limit the Anglo-Saxon Bloc – and you anyway limit terrorism?

Less outrage and more actions will probably do the trick of making NSA into a toothless ogre.


Faster, Smaller, Lighter Missiles: How Brahmos Leads The Way?

June 22, 2013 1 comment

Indo-Russian supersonic missile, Brahmos may see a new competitor – the French missile, ASMPA.

The past and future of Brahmos | Image source: www.rian.ru

The past and future of Brahmos | Image source: http://www.rian.ru

Exactly one year ago, on June 20th, 2012, the French Government reported the successful test for their new upgraded missile – the ASMPA (Air Sol Moyenne Porte Ameliore).

Competition For Brahmos

Except for the weight, the new ASMPA is a Yakhont-Brahmos missile clone – like Brahmos, the French missile is also ramjet powered, kerosene-fuelled; 200-500 kg payload; 250-500 km range .

After a decade of ignoring the existence of a Mach-3 missile with Russia and India, the successful test of the new French missile should have been announced with much fanfare. Varying reports confuse ASMPA, deceptively named after its predecessor, the ASMP, which too was not widely inducted or utilized. Curiously, even one year later, very little has come out in the open. After more than a decade of silence, such a giant leap should have made the French Defense industry shout from rooftops.

With the end of Cold War, France probably does not need the ASMPA missile right now? France may decide to produce the ASMPA if the threat profile to France changes? Due to MTCR, anyway France cannot sell many of these missiles?

Why produce a missile that France does not need and cannot sell?

Maybe, India with Pakistan and China as rivals, needs to keep a high profile on new developments!

ASMPA Firsts

The ASMPA is expected to be integrated with the Rafale – something that was not done till September 2012.

Considering that this is less than 1.0 ton in weight, (globalsecurity.org gives weight specs. as 860 kg), compared to the nearly 3.0 tons that the Brahmos weighs, the ASMPA is major leg up.

For India, the ASMPSA missile means it can be something that can be fitted on all the Su-30MKIs, the MiG-29s, maybe even the ancient MiG-21s. At one ton, the Su-30MKIs will not need the major modifications, which is under discussion with the Russian vendors for the last 18 months.

Logic and The Rationale

Therefore, the ASMPA is probably the one reason why India opted for the Rafale. Possibly, that is also the reason why the signing of the Rafale contract is being delayed. Do the French have a missile that they can sell? Is it vaporware? Announced, tested, prototyped – but not in production and yet to be inducted.

MTCR regulations create artificial limits – probably the range of Brahmos is more than 300-km and the ASMPA range is less than 300-km. By declaring the range of the ASMPA missile to 500-km, France can claim that MTCR regulations stop it from sale or transfer of missiles and missile technology.

India’s indigenous interceptor missiles already attain speeds of Mach3-Mach-4. So, Indian requirements is probably limited to weight-reduction – which France seems to have achieved.

The Global Matrix

It is also a matter of much curiosity, that the Americans and the British or the Germans could not crack this technology – but the French did? After all, the test-integration of ASMPA with Rafale took two years after its test firing from a Mirage-2000N.

While the French do have a long history of experimental ramjets and hypersonic engines, integration into production, induction of these technologies has been lagging. It is in the stabilization, production and induction of supersonic ramjets that Indo-Russian partnership has excelled.

Not surprisingly, after the ASMPA announcement, India and Russia promptly announced that the Brahmos will be upgraded from supersonic speeds (Mach2.5-Mach3) to hypersonic speeds (Mach5-Mach6).

Laser guided missiles are one of Russia’s weaknesses. To overcome this technology shortcoming, Russia has signed a deal with France for integrating a system using French components.

France and Russia have also been co-operating on ramjet and scram jet technologies. Was there technology or a component barter between the French and the Russians?

ON AUGUST 20th 1998 Bill Clinton ordered American warships in the Arabian Sea to fire a volley of more than 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles at suspected terrorist training camps near the town of Khost in eastern Afghanistan. The missiles, flying north at about 880kph (550mph), took two hours to reach their target. Several people were killed, but the main target of the attack, Osama bin Laden, left the area shortly before the missiles struck. American spies located the al-Qaeda leader on two other occasions as he moved around Afghanistan in September 2000. But the United States had no weapons able to reach him fast enough.

They have now pinned their hopes on an alternative approach: superfast or “hypersonic” unmanned vehicles that can strike quickly by flying through the atmosphere, and cannot be mistaken for a nuclear missile.

These hypersonic vehicles are not rockets, as ICBMs are, but work in a fundamentally different way. Rockets carry their own fuel, which includes the oxygen needed for combustion in airless space. This fuel is heavy, making rockets practical only for short, vertical flights into space. So engineers are trying to develop lightweight, “air breathing” hypersonic vehicles that can travel at rocket-like speeds while taking oxygen from the atmosphere, as a jet engine does, rather than having to carry it in the form of fuel oxidants.

The term hypersonic technically refers to speeds faster than five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5, equivalent to around 6,200kph at sea level and 5,300kph at high altitudes (where the colder, thinner air means the speed of sound is lower). Being able to sustain flight in the atmosphere at such speeds would have many benefits. Hypersonic vehicles would not be subject to existing treaties on ballistic-missile arsenals, for one thing. It is easier to manoeuvre in air than it is in space, making it more feasible to dodge interceptors or change trajectory if a target moves. And by cutting the cost of flying into the upper reaches of the atmosphere, the technology could also help reduce the expense of military and civilian access to space.

All this, however, requires a totally different design from the turbofan and turbojet engines that power airliners and fighter jets, few of which can operate beyond speeds of about Mach 2. At higher speeds the jet engines’ assemblies of spinning blades can no longer slow incoming air to the subsonic velocities needed for combustion. Faster propulsion relies instead on engines without moving parts. One type, called a ramjet, slows incoming air to subsonic speeds using a carefully shaped inlet to compress and thereby slow the airstream. Ramjets power France’s new, nuclear-tipped ASMPA missiles. Carried by Rafale and Mirage fighter jets, they are thought to be able to fly for about 500km at Mach 3, or around 3,700kph.

It’s not rocket science

But reaching hypersonic speeds of Mach 5 and above with an air-breathing engine means getting combustion to happen in a stream of supersonic air. Engines that do this are called supersonic-combustion ramjets, or scramjets. They also use a specially shaped inlet to slow the flow of incoming air, but it does not slow down enough to become subsonic. This leaves engineers with a big problem: injecting and igniting fuel in a supersonic airstream is like “lighting a match in a hurricane and keeping it lit,” says Russell Cummings, a hypersonic-propulsion expert at California Polytechnic State University.

One way to do it is to use fuel injectors that protrude, at an angle, into the supersonic airstream. They generate small shock waves that mix oxygen with fuel as soon as it is injected. This mixture can be ignited using the energy of bigger shock waves entering the combustion chamber. Another approach is being developed at the Australian Defence Force Academy. In a process known as “cascade ionisation”, laser blasts lasting just a few nanoseconds rip electrons off passing molecules, creating pockets of hot plasma in the combustion chamber that serve as sparks.

Scramjet fuel must also be kept away from the wall of the combustion chamber. Otherwise, it might “pre-ignite” before mixing properly, blowing up the vehicle, says Clinton Groth, an engineer at the University of Toronto who is currently doing research at Cambridge University in England (and who has consulted for Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, two engine-makers). To complicate matters further, scramjets move too fast for their internal temperature and air pressure to be controlled mechanically by adjusting the air intake. Instead, as scramjets accelerate, they must ascend into thinner air at a precise rate to prevent rising heat and pressure from quickening the fuel burn and blowing up the combustion chamber.

In other words, igniting a scramjet is difficult, and keeping it going without exploding is harder still. Moreover scramjets, like ramjets, cannot begin flight on their own power. Because they need to be moving quickly to compress air for combustion, scramjets must first be accelerated by piggybacking on a jet plane or rocket. There are, in short, formidable obstacles to the construction of a scramjet vehicle.

A Chinese programme to convert a nuclear ballistic missile into an aircraft-carrier killer, by packing it with conventional explosives, had reached “initial operational capability”. The DF-21D, as it is called, is designed to descend from space at hypersonic speed and strike ships in the Western Pacific. Even though the accuracy of the DF-21D’s guidance system is unknown, the missile is already altering the balance of power within its range.

DARPA suggested, America will need “the new stealth” of hypersonic vehicles. Similarly, Russia’s deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin, remarked last year that the design of hypersonic missiles had become a priority for the country.

via Hypersonic missiles: Speed is the new stealth | The Economist.

India’s Deficient Healthcare System: Is Public Healthcare the Only Model?

May 18, 2013 2 comments

Must India model its healthcare system on the vastly inefficient and costly healthcare system of the West?

US Healthcare costs and expenditure  | Credits and source details embedded in image.

US Healthcare costs and expenditure | Credits and source details embedded in image.

T

he Euro-zone health system costs the tax-payer close to a trillion dollars (two-thirds of total healthcare expenditure paid by the State; total healthcare expenditure by EU is 10% of EU GDP, that is US$ 15 trillion). Ditto multiplied by two for the US.  One trillion and two trillion for EU and US respectively.

As a result of high tobacco consumption, aging problem, China’s expenditure on healthcare is expected to be a trillion dollars by 2020, due to proposed expansion of facilities, coverage.

The combined population of the US and EU is about the 800 million – versus the 1200 million of India. Even if due to lower costs, India were to replicate the EU and US systems, the expenditure will be US$3 trillion. That is 50% more than the Indian GDP.

Simplistic?

Sure. But, if we are going to throw around billions and trillions that belong to taxpayers, why worry?

These systems will collapse – and when that happens, there will be plagues and epidemics across the West.

Remember that less than a 100 years ago, the flu-epidemic killed tens of millions in the West. Conservative estimates start at 2 crores, go to realistic estimates of 4 crores (40 million) and some estimates go beyond 5 crores (50 million). This depletion in population, coupled with WWI deaths toppled the West into the Great Depression, ten years later.

As John M. Barry, author of “The Great Influenza,” has observed, “Influenza killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed in a century; it killed more people in 24 weeks than AIDS has killed in 24 years.”

via Grounding a Pandemic – New York Times.

The State as the natural and logical answer to every social problem is uniquely modern extension of Desert Bloc model of governance. The confidence that media and academia project in this model has no relation to reality.

We have seen the collapse of Spain, Portugal as imperial powers, Britain is at a tipping point – and many expect Pax Americana to follow.

Why must India duplicate this vastly inefficient and costly healthcare system of the West, as this recent article in the FT suggests.

Western governments could haul New Delhi to the WTO dispute panel to challenge its patent law as non-compliant with global trade rules, generics executives’ and health activists’ bigger worry is that the EU, and eventually the US, will secure provisions in new free-trade deals. These provisions would give western drugmakers more tools to stop Indian generic rivals.

Western pharmaceutical companies counter that India’s real health crisis is not the price of a handful of patented drugs but of a government that has abdicated its responsibility to ensure decent healthcare for its citizens. India’s government spends less than 1.2 per cent of gross domestic product on healthcare.

Some western companies, led by GlaxoSmithKline, are trying tiered pricing strategies in India to reflect the extremes of its wealth and poverty. Merck Sharp and Dohme sells its patented diabetes drug Januvia in India for about $24 per month, 80 per cent lower than its global price.

Still, the cut-rate price for Januvia has not deterred Glenmark, an Indian generics firm, from making its own version, which it sells for 30 per cent less than the discounted price. Last month MSD tried unsuccessfully to get a court order stopping Glenmark from selling its medicine, and protracted litigation lies ahead.

“You can parachute free medicine across the country but that will not improve access because you don’t the health infrastructure,” says Mr Shahani. “You don’t have doctors, you don’t have nurses, you don’t have nursing homes and you don’t have diagnostics.”

Shortages of nurses and orderlies meant young doctors had to do menial tasks such as carrying laboratory samples or wheeling patients into the operating theatre.

The junior doctors say the public hospital is so overstretched – and poorly managed – that they have to make snap decisions on how to handle patients, as if processing the wounded from a battlefield.

“This government doesn’t want patients to die, so our major concern is to prevent death, but what about proper management after that?” asks Sameer Prabhakar, a doctor at Safdarjung. “A doctor seeing 100 patients a day won’t have time.”

Safdarjung’s problems resonate across India’s public health system, which is starved of funds. Clinics struggle to cope with the flow of patients who can spend days queueing to see a doctor, only to be told they will have to wait months for treatment – even for potentially fatal diseases such as cancer.

India has just six doctors and nine hospital beds for every 10,000 people, compared with 15 doctors and 38 beds in China, and 24 doctors and 30 beds in the US, according to UN data. “The biggest question is: why is the government not building more hospitals and opening more medical colleges?” says Dr Prabhakar.

The emergence of swish upmarket private hospitals catering to India’s rich and middle classes is exacerbating the strain on public hospitals, as doctors, nurses and other specialists are drawn to the higher salaries and better working conditions.

With India spending just 1.2 per cent of gross domestic product on health – compared with nearly 3 per cent in China – the problems will not be resolved easily. Many poor Indians go to unqualified quacks. Lower middle-class patients are driven to private hospitals they cannot afford, clocking up debt to pay for essential treatment.

via India: Patents and precedents – FT.com.


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