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Archive for November, 2012

South Korea Space Program: Latest Launch Cancelled Minutes Before Schedule

November 30, 2012 3 comments

Industrial development as much about technology denial and politics as business considerations. Take S Korea’s space program. for instance.

Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 at the Naro Space Center launch pad in Goheung, South Korea,Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. South Korea on Thursday cancelled the launch of its first satellite into orbit from its own soil. | Image by Yonhap, Shin Jun-hee/ Associated Press -

Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 at the Naro Space Center launch pad in Goheung, South Korea,Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. South Korea on Thursday cancelled the launch of its first satellite into orbit from its own soil. | Image by Yonhap, Shin Jun-hee/ Associated Press –

South Korea on Thursday scrapped an attempt to fire its first satellite into orbit from its own soil amid speculation that North Korea was preparing to fire its own long-range rocket.

Scientists in South Korea cited technical problems with the rocket’s flight control system. It’s the second time in a month that Seoul has been forced to cancel a launch at the last minute as it attempts to join an elite group of nations that have launched satellites from their own land.

But it is North Korea’s rocket program that has raised worry in recent days. Two South Korean officials said Thursday that there are signs of preparations at a North Korean rocket site on the northwest coast.

A North Korean long-range rocket broke apart shortly after liftoff in April, but the attempt drew United Nations condemnation and worsened already tense relations between the Koreas.

Washington and Seoul say Pyongyang uses such rocket launches to develop missiles that could target the United States. Technology employed in scientific rocket launches can be easily converted into use for missiles.

North Korea says its launch attempts are part of a peaceful space program and are meant to put satellites into orbit.

South Korea has launched domestically-made satellites aboard foreign-made rockets from other countries since 1992.

South Korea’s 142-ton Naro’s first stage is built by Russia. Its South Korean-made second stage is meant to release a scientific satellite once it reaches orbit.

via North Korea rocket launch speculation overshadows cancelled South Korean satellite launch – The Washington Post.

I am a little curious.

Why is South Korea, a country in the US sphere of influence, chasing Russia for this technology? Could this technology not be developed in collaboration with the West. There are no sanctions by the West on South Korea.

S Korea’s space program also proves that probably alliances and diplomacy count for as much as industrial depth and capacity. Korea’s industry depth is definitely greater than India’s – yet it is struggling in its space program. Also makes one understand what Indian scientists and diplomats have managed with years of sanctions by the US.

Seoul wants to make another attempt to send the satellite into space between November 9 and 24 after last month’s rocket launch was cancelled because of a defective part.

“We’ve been asking Russia to give a green light at the earliest possible date, but we don’t know when we will have the parts,” Kim Yeon-Hak, a deputy director at the science ministry, told AFP.

The October 26 launch was cancelled after engineers detected a broken rubber seal in the connector between the launch pad and the rocket’s first stage.

Kim Seung-Jo, president of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, said the parts must arrive no later than Wednesday if the rocket is to be launched on or before November 24.

After two failures in 2009 and 2010, the upcoming exercise is considered crucial for South Korea’s efforts to join an elite space club that includes China, Japan and India.

It will take at least 10 days after the parts arrive to refit the rocket and put it back on the launch pad on the south coast, Kim Seung-Jo said Monday.

Should the launch be put off again, South Korea would reset the period through consultations with international space agencies, he said. Dates for the launch period are conveyed to international agencies to minimise risks to ships and aircraft that could pass near the flight path.

The 140-tonne Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) has a first stage manufactured by Russia and a solid-fuel second stage built by South Korea. The technical problem that aborted last month’s launch was not described as serious but the damaged rubber seal was sent back to its Russian manufacturer for inspections.

After two failures in 2009 and 2010, the upcoming exercise is considered crucial for South Korea’s efforts to join an elite space club that includes Asian powers China, Japan and India.

In 2009 the rocket achieved orbit but faulty release mechanisms on the second stage prevented proper deployment of the satellite. The 2010 effort saw the rocket explode two minutes into its flight, with both Russia and South Korea blaming each other.

South Korea is a late entrant into the world of space technology and is eager to get its commercial launch programme up and running.

via S.Korea urges Russia to send rocket parts swiftly.


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How Dependent Are We On Individuals For Change?

November 29, 2012 1 comment

Historic changes and technical advances have a life of their own – and less dependent on individuals than we normally assume.

Obviously a leadership that follows, instead of leads will make no difference. | David Fitzsimmons / Arizona Daily Star on March 28, 2012; source & courtesy – caglecartoons.com

Kevin Kelly, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, former editor/publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, put up a long post on his blog The Technium, about 3 years ago. This is easily the most exhaustive compendium of ‘near-simultaneous’ discoveries, innovations, creations, ideas from the ‘modern’ world on the net.

The sheer ‘obviousness’ of this idea first came to me from Arthur Koestler’s trilogy of Ghost In The Machine, The Act Of Creation and The Sleepwalkers. Koestler spoke of ripeness of an idea.

Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people. With the exception of you [the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain. (Gita 11:32)


Therefore get up. Prepare to fight and win glory. Conquer your enemies and enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasaci, can be but an instrument in the fight. (Gita 11:33) Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people. With the exception of you [the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain. (Gita 11:32)
Therefore get up. Prepare to fight and win glory. Conquer your enemies and enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasaci, can be but an instrument in the fight. (Gita 11:33)

Before that in a different context Victor Hugo meant no one can stop an idea whose time has come (in French, the original sentence is On résiste à l’invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l’invasion des idées).

Or when the Bhagwad Gita talks of enemies whose time has come, whose death is but a formality and their killing but a nominal act (Bhagwad Gita 11:32; 11:33).

Would India have got independence without Gandhiji? Sooner or a little later. Maybe different in shape and size. The British story was over. The British knew they were going. Early evidence was the complete stoppage of investment in railways by 1920s.

So what was Gandhiji’s role and contribution? Probably in being able to engage with the West – using ideas and concepts that the West understood. Grace under pressure?

This year the world celebrated the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin to honor his theory’s impact upon our science and culture. Overlooked in the celebrations was Alfred Wallace, who also came up with the same theory of evolution, at approximately the same time. If poor Wallace, too, had succumbed to his Indonesian infection, and Darwin gone, it is clear from other naturalist’s notebooks that someone else, perhaps Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, would have arrived at the theory of evolution by natural selection,What seems to be an odd coincidence is repeated many times in technical invention as well as scientific discovery. Alexander Bell and Elisha Gray both applied to patent the telephone on the same day, Feb 14, 1876. This improbable simultaneity (Gray applied 3 hours before Bell) led to mutual accusations of espionage, plagiarism, bribery, and fraud. Gray was ill-advised by his patent attorney to drop his claim for priority because his attorney said the telephone “was not worth serious attention.”

while Bell got the master patent, at least three other tinkerers beside Gray had made working models of phones years before. In fact Antonio Meucci had patented his “teletrofono” more than a decade earlier in 1860, using the same principles as Bell and Gray, but because of his poor English, poverty, and lack of business acumen, he was unable to renew his patent in 1874. And not far behind them all was the inimitable Thomas Edison, who inexplicably didn’t win the telephone race, but invented the microphone for it the next year.

The procession of technological discoveries is inevitable. When the conditions are right — when the necessary web of supporting technology needed for every invention is established — then the next adjacent technological step will emerge as if on cue. If inventor X does not produce it, inventor Y will. The invention of the microphone, the laser, the transistor, the steam turbine, the waterwheel, and the discoveries of oxygen, DNA, and Boolean logic, were all inevitable in roughly the period they appeared. However the particular form of the microphone, its exact circuit, or the specific design of the laser, or the particular materials of the transistor, or the dimensions of the steam turbine, or the peculiar notation of the formula, or the specifics of any invention are not inevitable. Rather they will vary quite widely due to the personality of their finder, the resources at hand, the culture of society they are born into, the economics funding the discovery, and the influence of luck and chance. An incandescent light bulb based on a coil of carbonized bamboo filament heated within a vacuum bulb is not inevitable, but “the electric incandescent light bulb” is. The concept of “the electric incandescent light bulb” abstracted from all the details that can vary while still producing the result — luminance from electricity, for instance — is ordained by the technium’s trajectory. We know this because “the electric incandescent light bulb” was invented, re-invented, co-invented, or “first invented” dozens of times. In their book “Edison’s Electric Light: Biography of an Invention”, Robert Friedel and Paul Israel list 23 inventors of incandescent bulbs prior to Edison. It might be fairer to say that Edison was the very last “first” inventor of the electric light.

Dig deep enough in the history of any type of discovery in any field and you’ll find more than one claimant for the first priority.

In fact you are likely to find many parents for each novelty. Sunspots were first discovered by four separate observers, including Galileo, in the same year, 1611. We know of six different inventors of the thermometer, and three of the hypodermic needle. Edward Jenner was preceded by four other scientists who all independently discovered the efficiency of vaccinations. Adrenalin was “first” isolated four times. Three different geniuses discovered (or invented) decimal fractions. The electric telegraph was re-invented by Henry, Morse, Cooke, Wheatstone, and Steinheil.  The Frenchman Daguerre is famous for inventing photography, but three others (Niepce, Florence, and Talbot) also independently came upon the same process. The invention of logarithms is usually credit to two mathematicians, Napier and Brigs, but actually a third mathematician, Burgi, invented them three years earlier. Several inventors in both England and America simultaneously came up with the typewriter. The existence of the 8th planet, Neptune, was independently predicted by two scientists in the same year, 1846. The liquefaction of oxygen, the electrolysis of aluminum, and the stereochemistry of carbon, for just three examples in chemistry, were each independently discovered by more than one person, and in each case their simultaneous discovery occurred within a month or so.

Columbia University sociologists William Ogburn and Dorothy Thomas combed through scientist’s biographies, correspondence and notebooks to collect all the parallel discoveries and invention they could find between 1420 and 1901. They write, “The steamboat is claimed as the ‘exclusive’ discovery of Fulton, Jouffroy, Rumsey, Stevens and Symmington. At least six different men, Davidson, Jacobi, Lilly, Davenport, Page and Hall, claim to have made independently the application of electricity to the railroad. Given the railroad and electric motors, is not the electric railroad inevitable?”

The prevalence of ubiquitous simultaneous, independent, and equivalent discovery suggests so. If the direction of technological progress is inevitable, one new invention preparing the ground for the next, then individual human discoverers and inventors are replaceable conduits, and their individual success a matter of luck to some degree.

psychologist Dean Simonton took Ogburn and Thomas’ catalog of simultaneous invention before 1900 and aggregated it with several other similar lists to map out the pattern of parallel discovery for 1,546 cases. Simonton plotted the number of discoveries found by 2 individuals compared to the number of discoveries found by 3 people, or 4 people, or 5, or 6 co-finders. The number of 6-person discoveries were of course fewer, but the exact ratio between these multiples produced a pattern known in statistics as a Poisson distribution. This is the pattern of events you see in mutations on a DNA chromosome, and other rare chance events in a large pool of possible agents. The Poisson curve suggested that the system of “who found what” was essentially random.

Synchronicity is not just a phenomenon of the past, when communication was poor, but very much part of the present. Scientists at AT&T Bell Labs won a Nobel prize for inventing the transistor in 1948, but two German physicists independently invented a transistor two months later at a Westinghouse Laboratory in Paris.  Conventional wisdom credits John von Neumann with the invention of a programmable binary computer during the last years of World War II, but the idea and a working punched-tape prototype were developed quite separately in Germany a few years earlier in 1941 by Konrad Zuse. In a verifiable case of modern parallelism,  Zuse’s pioneering binary computer in wartime Germany went completely unnoticed by the US and UK until many decades later.

The strict wartime secrecy surrounding nuclear reactors during World War II created a model laboratory for retrospectively illuminating technological inevitability. Independent teams of nuclear scientists around the world raced against each other to harness atomic energy. Because of the obvious strategic military advantage of this power, the teams were isolated as enemies, or kept ignorant as wary allies, or separated by “need to know” secrecy within the same country. In other words, the history of discovery ran in parallel. Each discrete team’s highly collaborative work was well documented, and progressed through multiple stages of technological development. Looking back researchers can trace parallel paths as the same discoveries were made. In particular, physicist Spenser Weart examined how six of these teams each independently discovered an essential formula for making a nuclear bomb. This equation, called the four-factor formula, allows engineers to calculate the critical mass necessary for a chain reaction. Working in parallel, but in isolation, the formula was simultaneously discovered in France, Germany, the Soviet Union and three teams in the United States. Japan came close but never quite reached it. This high degree of simultaneity — six simultaneous inventions — strongly suggests the formula was inevitable at this time.

Both Newton and Leibnitz are credited with inventing (or discovering) calculus, but in fact their figuring methods differed, and the two approaches were only harmonized over time.  Priestly’s method of generating oxygen differed from Scheele’s; using different logic they uncovered the same inevitable next stage. The two astronomers who both correctly predicted the existence of Neptune (Adams and Leverrier) actually calculated different orbits for the planet. The two orbits just happen to coincide to the same point in 1846, so they found the same body by different means.

But aren’t these kinds of anecdotes mere statistical coincidences? Compared to the hundred thousand of thousands of inventions in the annals of discovery we should expect a few to happen at once, yes? The problem is most multiples are unreported. Sociologist Robert Merton says “all singleton discoveries are imminent multiples.” Many potential multiples are aborted.  In 1974 sociologist Warren Hagstrom surveyed 1,718 US academic research scientists, and asked them if their research had ever been anticipated by others. He found that 46% believed that their work had been anticipated “once or twice” and 16% claimed they were preempted three or more times. Jerry Gaston, another sociologist, surveyed 203 high energy physicists in the UK, and got similar results: 38% claimed to be anticipated once, and another 26% more than once.

Patent law scholar Mark Lemley states that in patent law “a large percent of priority disputes involve near-simultaneous invention.”  One study of these near-simultaneous priority disputes by Adam Jaffe, at Brandeis University, showed that in 45% of the cases both parties could prove they had a “working model” of the invention within 6 months of each other, and in 70% of the cases within a year of each other. Jaffe writes “These results provide some support for the idea that simultaneous or near-simultaneous invention is a regular feature of innovation.”

Quite a few scientists and inventors, and many outside of science, are repulsed by the idea that the progress of technology is inevitable. It rubs them the wrong way because it contradicts a deeply and widely held belief that human choice is central to our humanity, and essential to a sustainable civilization. Admitting to “inevitable” anything feels like a cop-out, a surrender to invisible non-human forces beyond our reach. Such a false notion may lull us into abdicating our responsibility for shaping our own destiny. On the other hand, if technologies really are inevitable then we have only the illusion of choice, and we should smash all technologies to be free of this spell.

Hollywood movies have an unnerving habit of arriving in pairs: two movies that arrive in theaters simultaneously featuring a apocalyptic hit by asteroids (Deep Impact and Armageddon), or starring the hero as an ant (A Bug’s Life and Antz), or a harden cop and his reluctant dog counterpart (K9 and Turner & Hooch), or profiling the Zodiac serial killer? Is this similarity due to simultaneous genius or to greedy theft? One of the few reliable laws in the studio and publishing businesses is that a successful movie or novel will be immediately sued by someone who claims the winner stole their idea. Sometimes it was stolen, but just as many times two authors, two singers, two directors came up with similar works at the same time. Mark Dunn, a library clerk, wrote a play, “Frank’s Life,” that was performed in 1992 in a small theater in New York City. “Frank’s Life” is about a guy who was unaware his life was a reality TV program. In his suit against the producers of the 1998 movie The Truman Show, Dunn lists 149 similarities between his story and theirs — which is a movie about a guy who is unaware his life is a reality TV program. However The Truman Show producers claim they have a copyrighted dated script of the movie from 1991, a year before “Frank’s Life” was staged. It is not too hard to believe that the idea of a movie about an unwitting reality TV hero was inevitable.

Writing in The New Yorker, Tad Friend tackled the issue of synchronistic cinematic expression by suggesting that “the giddiest aspect of copyright suits is how often the studios try to prove that their story was so derivative that they couldn’t have stolen it from only one source.”

Every now and then we believe a work of art must be truly original, not ordained. Its pattern, premise, and message originates with a distinctive human mind and shines as unique as they are. J.K. Rowling, author of the highly imaginative Harry Potter series launched in 1997 successfully rebuffed a law suit by an American author who published a series of children’s books in 1984 about Larry Potter, an orphaned boy wizard wearing glasses surrounded by Muggles. In 1990 Neil Gaiman wrote a comic book about a dark-haired English boy who finds out on his 12th birthday he is a wizard and is given an owl by a magical visitor. Or a 1991 story by Jane Yolen about Henry, a boy who attends a magical school for young wizards and must overthrow an evil wizard. Then there’s The Secret of Platform 13, published in 1994, which features a gateway on a railway platform to a magical underworld.  There many good reasons to believe J.K. Rowling when she claims she read none of these (for instance very few of the Muggle books were printed and almost none were sold; teenage boy comics don’t appeal to a single mom), and many more reasons to accept the fact that these ideas arose in simultaneous spontaneous creation. Multiple invention happens all the time in the arts as well as technology, but no one bothers to catalog similarities until a lot of money or fame is involved.

If stories of boy wizards in magical schools with pet owls entering otherworlds through  railway station platforms are inevitable, there must be true originals whose plots and details could not be anticipated. I thought of the delightfully fantastic novel The Life of Pi, about a boy who is lost at sea in a lifeboat that he shares with a tiger. I was sure that hadn’t been done before! But after doing some research, it had. Twenty years before “Life of Pi”, a Brazilian author had written a story (in Portuguese) about a Jewish zookeeper who crossed the Atlantic in a lifeboat with a panther. Even the most outlandish idea is never alone. Further digging revealed the author of Pi had once read a unenthusiastic review of the Brazilian book, so the far-fetched premise was not independently created. But was the Brazilian’s story copied, or emergent as well?

via The Technium: Progression of the Inevitable.


 

Modern India: Are Muslims Safe In A Hindu India?

November 28, 2012 4 comments

While Hindus have no freedom in any Muslim country, is there any country that gives more freedom or safety than India to Muslims.

Indian Muslims thought that Hindus cannot be trusted. If some of you still have doubts, the gates to Pakistan are still open  |  A March 2004 cartoon by Zahoor.

Indian Muslims thought that Hindus cannot be trusted. If some of you still have doubts, the gates to Pakistan are still open | A March 2004 cartoon by Zahoor.

In an atmosphere of mistrust, being a Muslim and on top of that a ‘rebelling’ Kashmiri is a double whammy. For such a person like me, to articulate my unexpressed feelings about Bal Thackeray, whom I earnestly believe to have lived his entire life as a demagogue if not a blood-letting fascist, even within my deep thought processes sounded to be a sacrilegious act.

Bier draped in Tricolour and not only people like LK Advani, the ideological equivalent of the deceased leader, but also the apparently staunch political rivals like Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and Sharad Pawar making all efforts to be seen amongst the sea of people at Shivaji Park was enough to cast a drowning feeling that the country has already accorded its recognition to a man who divided the society not only on religious lines but also on the very basis of regional identities. Moreover, the so-called leading lights of civil society, normally considered to be the standard-bearers of the public behaviour, also making a beeline to pay their homage sapped all the courage within me to register my dissent.

My question is to the authorities who decided to bestow an honour of state funeral to the departed leader: Was he a constitutional figure that warranted a gun salute? Obviously he was not and in case his popularity necessitated a military honour then the powers to be are setting a very dangerous precedent. If a state recognition to a divisive figurehead in his death was out of compulsion as two-million mourners joined the funeral, then it truly underscores the sorry state of affairs.

In case tomorrow a majority of India turns out to be supporters of Gandhiji’s killer, will the cowardly rulers, having no conviction left, declare Nathuram Godse as the new father of the nation? And provided the rulers affirm not to be cowards and claim that the decision to accord gun salute to the funeral of a Hindu extremist leader who believed India to be a Hindu Rashtra was made purely on merit, then what stops India to be a Hindu state in near future?

The brute and raucous majority only has to decide the fate of the nation and not the secular principles as the rulers pretend to follow, and then what inhabits us not to dread that the soul of India has been lost, since long?

via What stops India from becoming a Hindu state? – Analysis – DNA.

Birbal’s beard

Does this article also remind you of चोर कि दाड़ी में तिनका  (roughly meaning: guilty conscience pricks the mind)? I was grossly reminded of Birbal feeling his way through the beards of possible suspects.

Bad Hiding Place

Hiding behind Gandhiji’s loin-cloth, we have Firdous Syed raising a spectre of Nathuram Godse becoming the Father of the Nation. To nurse and espouse such an idea just shows what poor opinion the English-speaking elite have of Indians.

If he counts himself as an Indian – it is a sad reflection on his self-esteem. If he sees himself as a pragmatic Indian – till he can get a better passport, it just shows complete lack of character.

While on the subject of Gandhiji, two points.

One, like Bal Thackeray, Gandhiji had no constitutional or official capacity. Would Firdous Syed deny Gandhiji similar tribute? The Indian State gains by respecting Gandhiji. Gandhiji did not need a Nobel Prize to gain respect and admiration.

The other point. The last man to accept the partition of India was Gandhiji. To give security to all the Indian Muslims who felt insecure in a Hindu India. That was the deal, Firdous Syed. You can still go to Pakistan, if you are feeling insecure in Hindu-India.

Alibaba ate food without salt

Of the Forty thieves fame, ate salt-less food at the den of thieves. That is the respect, Muslim culture is supposed to have for hospitality. If you, Firdous Syed are using Indian nationality as a temporary shelter, at least have some basic respect for your Hindu hosts – while you get a passport of your choice.

If you are the Kashmiri-azaadi spouting liberal, let me see you criticize any Muslim-separatist, sitting in Srinagar. On any day of the week – leave alone a Friday. While Hindus have no freedom in any Muslim country, is there any country that gives more freedom or safety than India to Muslims.

Or are you, Firdous Syed assuming that who you calls Hindus are like Pakistanis who showered rose-petals on Salman Taseer killers? On the subjects of those who you call Hindus, has it ever occurred to you, to ask a question, why Hindu-Indians are welcome in secular Britain – but Pakis has become a pejorative?

Facebook, Facebook on the wall

Firdous Syed, are you aware that secular Great Britain, has prosecuted, fined, imprisoned nearly 5000 people in the last three years for making ‘insensitive’ comments on social media. That Vikram Buddhi languishes in an American prison because he said George Bush murdabad on the internet – in support of Iraqi Muslims.

In Mumbai, India, these policemen have been suspended for prosecuting one case. Indian courts sprang to cartoonist Aseem Trivedi’s bail application. EVM-activist Hariprasad found Indian courts sympathetic.

Vikram Buddhi reminds me. I know hardly any Hindus have supported Vikram Buddhi. But, have any Muslims supported him, for whom he is in prison for nearly 5 years now?

Or do you think India should be secular like Switzerland, which is afraid that a third mosque in Switzerland will change the national character of Switzerland? Or do you want Manmohan Singh to say like Angela Merkel on television that multi-culturalism has failed? Or do you think India like Denmark should pay Muslims money to emigrate out of India?

Firdous Syed you can claim Rs.11 from me any day that you want to leave India.


The Future Of War Is Bright

November 27, 2012 3 comments

Does war and mass destruction have a future? 500 years of war, genocide by the West will continue – unless the West is disarmed.

The scramble for Africa in the closing years of 19th century was a disaster for Africa  |  Cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne (1844–1910) on The Rhodes Colossus: Caricature of Cecil John Rhodes, after he announced plans for a telegraph line and railroad from Cape Town to Cairo. on 10 December 1892 in Punch

The scramble for Africa in the closing years of 19th century was a disaster for Africa | Cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne (1844–1910) on The Rhodes Colossus: Caricature of Cecil John Rhodes, after he announced plans for a telegraph line and railroad from Cape Town to Cairo. on 10 December 1892 in Punch

Propaganda

False ideas.

Academia floats. Media promotes.

Take this study by Norwegian University (@UniOslo) on the future of war.

It is now 25 years since Africa’s population surpassed that of China and India: it now stands at 2.8 billion.

This mix of futurology and fiction is one of the possible answers to what the world will look like in 2050. Part of the reason that future wars in now relatively peaceful countries such as Mozambique – whose civil war is now 30 years in the past – and Tanzania is the contention that war itself is going to become far less common.

Havard Hegre, a professor in the department of Political Science at the University of Oslo, is the latest academic to devise a statistical model capable of reaching into the future and telling us what is likely to happen next. His study, in collaboration with the Peace Research Institute Oslo, claims that in five years’ time India, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Uganda and Burma will be at the greatest risk of conflict, while in 40 years, it will be China, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.

For the purpose of the model, war is defined as being between governments and political organisations that use violence and in which at least 25 people die.

“The number of conflicts is falling,” the professor observes. “We expect this fall to continue. We predict a steady fall in the number of conflicts in the next 40 years. Conflicts that involve a high degree of violence, such as Syria, are becoming increasingly rare.”

In other words, the number of wars will halve. In 2009, some 15 per cent of the world’s countries were suffering from armed conflicts. That proportion will fall to 7 per cent midway through this century, according to the Norwegian researchers’ predictions. At its core, the study has taken a history of global conflicts over the last 40 years and added United Nations predictions for key indicators such as infant mortality rates and population structures up to 2050 to data on probable education rates.

His conflict model shows the combination of higher education, lower infant mortality, smaller youth cohorts, and lower population growth are a few of the reasons why the world can expect a more peaceful future. The population is expected to grow, but at a slower pace than today, and the proportion of young people will decrease in most countries, with the exception of African ones.

Unfortunately, the model has already had to be tweaked to take account of the Arab Spring and renewed Israeli-Palestinian tensions. The authors admitted that since the first findings of the model were published in 2009, conflicts in the Middle East had weakened the clear correlation between socio-economic development and the absence of civil war, while the fighting in Syria and Libya had shown that “we also have to include democratisation processes in the model”.

via The future of war is looking bleak – World Politics – World – The Independent.

Wrong

2050 projections based on blinkered studies. Factually wrong.

Africa’s population after the end of WWII, in 1950 was estimated at 22 crores (220 million) – and is now at about 110 crores (1100 million). Can it be 2.8 billion ?(280 cr.; 2800 million). Even by 2050? Unless external meddling is stopped?

For the 200 years of the British Raj in India, population in India grew at its slowest pace, as per historical estimates.

Africa suffered more.

On January 25, 1957, Kashmir was merged with India, ignoring a UN ruling. Harold Macmillan, Selwyn Lloyd, Richard Austen Butler hectoring Nehru on Kashmir. Dag is Dag Hammersjold, the UN Secretary General. | Cartoonist: Michael Cummings in Daily Express, 28 Jan 1957; source & courtesy – cartoons.ac.uk

On January 25, 1957, Kashmir was merged with India, ignoring a UN ruling. Harold Macmillan, Selwyn Lloyd, Richard Austen Butler hectoring Nehru on Kashmir. Dag is Dag Hammersjold, the UN Secretary General. | Cartoonist: Michael Cummings in Daily Express, 28 Jan 1957; source & courtesy – cartoons.ac.uk

Wronger

Population decline of Africa was a direct result of slavery and colonialism.

Colonialism in Africa was dismantled over thirty years (1947-1977) after India – a process in which India’s foreign policy played no small role. Seeing colonialism anywhere as a threat to India, India’s foreign policy in the first 25 years concentrated more on global issues than on India’s own interests. Without economic or military might, India spoke on world stages – and colonial powers listened.

With great resentment.

Under Nehru's Foreign Policy, India's voice was heard by super-powers, on the global stage. Even though India was militarily and economically weak. This cartoon from a British magazine shows Nehru's position on Suez rankled in Britain. Kashmir was a part of India - and Suez was NOT a part of Britain, but a part of Egypt. (Nehru - on Kashmir - On Suez; artist: Ronald Searle. Published in Punch Magazine 23 January 1957. Cartoon source and courtesy - punchcartoons.com).

Under Nehru’s Foreign Policy, India’s voice was heard by super-powers, on the global stage. Even though India was militarily and economically weak. This cartoon from a British magazine shows Nehru’s position on Suez rankled in Britain. Kashmir was a part of India – and Suez was NOT a part of Britain, but a part of Egypt. (Nehru – on Kashmir – On Suez; artist: Ronald Searle. Published in Punch Magazine 23 January 1957. Cartoon source and courtesy – punchcartoons.com).

Wrongest

War is probably decreasing because war mongers in the West no longer have the capacity, due ageing population and economic decline at home.

No less significant is the fact that resistant societies have found new ways to wage war. Libya is the most recent example.

In Africa.

The extract above interestingly does not mention colonialism, missionary objectives or Pax Americana as a cause but blames people for being born – through concepts like population control.

Dubious studies by people with doubtful intentions.


Pakistan: Realism Sets in? Adjusting to Existential Challenge?

November 25, 2012 2 comments

Pakistan is all gung-ho about cancellation of visits by top Russian leaders to India. India lost. Pakistan won is their perception. Reality is no one won or lost – as yet.

The Russian bear's expression says it all  |  Illustration: Liu Rui   |  Global Times | 2012-11-15 19:35:04

The Russian bear’s expression says it all | Illustration: Liu Rui | Global Times | 2012-11-15 19:35:04

Check: 1,2,3

Pakistani elites have fooled themselves and Pakistanis. For 65 years now.

First, they lost Bangladesh.

Next, China has not backed Pakistan in any of the three wars with India.

Last. Their biggest ally and aid-donor, Yumm-Rika is waging an undeclared war for the last few years, using drones in border areas.

Are drone-strikes any less an act-of-war than fighter-aircraft bombings?

Look at this story on Russia-Pak relations. It is true Russians would love to be friendly with Pakistan – but Russians also know which side of their bread is buttered.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to visit Pakistan on October 2, but at the eleventh hour he postponed his visit to an as yet unannounced date. This was followed by cancellation of his visits to India and Turkey.There are some significant geo-strategic developments taking place in Russia’s neighborhood. The US is increasing its influence in the Asia-Pacific, in cooperation with India, to dominate the sea lanes of the region. Pakistan provides an alternative route which is closer to Africa, Europe and the Middle East, and is accessible to Russia through Central Asia.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, during his visit to Moscow in May, offered Russia the use of Pakistani territory to gain access to the southern seas. Pakistan is diversifying its foreign policy. Recently it has improved its relations with China, Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey, and is working on its ties with Russia, India, Germany and France, attempting to reduce its dependency on the US. The emphasis is on trade instead of aid.

Russia is also looking for new partners in the South Asian region. Russia’s relations with India are not as good as they used to be. India, which was a significant buyer of Russian weapons and defense system, is now a major US partner. Putin has signaled his willingness to adapt Russia’s foreign policy to the new geopolitical changes.

India is apprehensive about Pakistani-Russian rapprochement. In past two months, a number of events have taken place, which indicates that Russia is giving preferences to Pakistan over India.

Former Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov postponed his visit to India, where he was to participate in the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation.

The meeting was scheduled for October 4, but instead Sardyukov preferred to meet with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Pervaiz Ashraf Kayani, who had on the very same day arrived in Russia on an official visit.

Before that Pakistan’s Chief of Air Staff Tahir Rafique Butt also visited Moscow, where he visited air force related defense installations and had meetings with military high-ups. Pakistan and Russia have also agreed to boost their defense ties.

Later on, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov cancelled his visit to India and landed in Pakistan, where he tried to clarify the misperceptions that had arisen due to the postponement of Putin’s visit to Pakistan.

He also expressed Russia’s support for Pakistan’s stance on drone attacks and Afghanistan. Contrary to the US perceptions, Russia realizes that Pakistan is an important actor and must be included in any peaceful settlement of conflict in Afghanistan. After the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, the roles and concerns of regional countries will be further enhanced.

Pakistan-Russia relations should not be seen as a substitute for Pakistan-US relations. No country can replace the other. Global affairs call for cooperation between regional countries.

via Russia backs Pakistan in geopolitical shift – Globaltimes.cn.

Public Opinion Being Fed On Trash

The story above is so silly.

Putin has a big back-problem. He cancelled his trips to India – and Turkey. He cannot travel – and he depends on his judo-wrestling, hunting-and shooting, deep-sea diving image to boost his presidency. He cannot admit to his back-problem. Anatoliy Eduardovich Serdyukov cancelled his India visit because he was on the verge of being sacked. Lavrov skipped a UN meeting on Iran – and landed in Pakistan. Pakistan is Iran’s immediate neighbour.

All this known – and in public domain. So, this ‘analysis’ by Aftab Hussian is probably for public consumption.

In which case, why is Pakistan feeding its public-opinion with trash like this.

Answer To Pakistan’s Problems

The solution to Pakistan’s problem is simple and staring in the face.

It is India.

Pakistan must become indifferent to India. Forget peace with India. Don’t think of war with India.

Just stop thinking about India.


Will Britain Exit From EU Before Greece?

November 19, 2012 1 comment

It is unclear what benefit EU derives from British membership. But British expulsion from EU will surely simplify EU politics & debates

Britain is the cussed slow-driver on the Euro-bahn who will not let the Euro-truck overtake  |  Cartoon By Tom Janssen, The Netherlands - 12/12/2011 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy - caglecartoons.com

Britain is the cussed slow-driver on the Euro-bahn who will not let the Euro-truck overtake | Cartoon By Tom Janssen, The Netherlands – 12/12/2011 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy – caglecartoons.com

Britain – EU’s Fifth Column?

At each stage of the European Union, Britain has been a reluctant member. In the last few decades, with its manufacturing in deep decline, Britain has been working on propping up its multinationals.

Vodafone is one such example. It has become the world’s largest telecom operator using tax-loopholes (provided by the British Govt.) and massive debt underwritten by British banks. Vodafone has nothing – no manufacturing, no technology, no R & D with which it has become the largest operator.

Is the EU going to be such a push-over? US would definitely hope so.  |  Euro-loser cartoon By Taylor Jones, Hoover Digest  -  4/24/2012 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy - caglecartoons.com

Is the EU going to be such a push-over? US would definitely hope so. | Euro-loser cartoon By Taylor Jones, Hoover Digest – 4/24/2012 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy – caglecartoons.com

The Anglo-Saxon Bloc

Britain derives much greater power and influence by coordinating policy and finance within the four Anglo-Saxon countries – Australia, Canada, US and Britain itself.

The Anglo-Saxon Bloc is

  1. Top producer of
    • Oil
    • Gold
    • Defence
  2. Controls world production in
    • Media
    • Microchips
    • Academia
  3. Regulates
    • Global finance and banking
    • Money production

It is unclear what benefit EU derives from British membership – but British expulsion from EU could surely simplify EU politics and debates.

Compared the colossal debt that Britain is carrying, the EU budget is smaller issue.  |  Cartoon on  EU Budget cut row by Paresh Nath, The Khaleej Times, UAE  -  11/4/2012 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy - caglecartoons.com

Compared the colossal debt that Britain is carrying, the EU budget is smaller issue. | Cartoon on EU Budget cut row by Paresh Nath, The Khaleej Times, UAE – 11/4/2012 12:00:00 AM; source & courtesy – caglecartoons.com

Bite the Bullet

EU officials have begun work on a plan to create a long-term budget without the UK in a move that reflects mounting frustration that Britain’s demand for a spending freeze cannot be reconciled with the rest of the bloc.

Both EU officials and national diplomats have been studying the legal and technical feasibility of devising such a budget, according to people familiar with the discussions, ahead of a two-day summit beginning on Thursday in Brussels, where the EU’s 27 heads of government will try to reach an agreement on the long-term budget.

The prospects for that meeting have darkened in recent days as several diplomats have come to the conclusion that it will be impossible to accommodate the UK’s demands, and are now predicting failure.

“Because of the British stance people are looking, both in national capitals and in Brussels, for a solution at 26. It’s being looked at from a financial and legal point of view,” one official said.

The plan may be a negotiating ploy to try to put more pressure on David Cameron, the UK prime minister, to compromise. The budget talks will resume on Monday evening when Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council president, hosts a dinner of European ministers.

Officials acknowledge that such an approach – if pursued – would be rife with complexities. It could also have grave consequences for the UK’s already fragile relationship with the rest of the EU. “There are people talking about this,” a diplomat said, but added: “There are huge questions.”

Downing Street on Sunday said it was “sure” the idea was being discussed in Brussels but rejected the idea of a budget deal without Britain as “not acceptable”.

“Ultimately we have to agree to spending this money,” a spokesman for Mr Cameron said. “We make a significant net contribution and parliament has a strong view on this.”

Mr Cameron has staked out the most aggressive position in the debate over the long-term budget, which will cover roughly €1,000bn in spending from 2014 to 2020, calling for a real-terms freeze from 2011 levels.

Sweden has taken a similar position to the UK and other countries could yet thwart a deal. France’s President François Hollande said on Saturday that “above all, spending on the common agricultural policy must be preserved”.

via EU makes budget plans without UK – FT.com.


The Maya Machine Never Sleeps

November 17, 2012 3 comments

Along with cricket, a lot of global politics is also being played. Neo-colonialism or India’s anti-apartheid movement, it is all out there in the cricket-field.

Bishen Singh Bedi - one of the four spinners, a combination never equalled.

Bishen Singh Bedi – one of the four spinners, a combination never equalled.

Lambs to Slaughter

India Y2K generation, that started shaving after 2000 AD, many a time, are like innocent lambs to slaughter.

At the altar of propaganda – the modern day version of maya.

Make no mistake. Many from the older Bombay High generation (anyone who started shaving after 1975), are equally susceptible to this maya.

Will England Win Anything? Ever? Again?

Now that the British cricket-team is visiting India, there are a number of articles on British experiences of India. Do I need to confirm that all the encounters narrated are negative? How many times do British newspapers invite Indian writers to describe the problems of Indian players visiting Britain.

For instance, the racism at Heathrow – and at hotels, clubs, grounds. Remember how in the 70s, Indian brides joining their husbands in UK, were subjected to ‘virginity’ tests, on arrival at Heathrow.

Such Lack Of Grace

Or cut to India’s tour to England of 1974.

After losing two consecutive series (India won 1970-71, 3 test-series 1-0 in Britain; India won 5-test series of 1972-73 in India, 2-1), Britain started their 1974 campaign by ‘fixing the rules.

To avoid a third series loss in the 1974 series against India, ECB imposed an agreement to restrict leg-side fielders to a maximum of five. This meant the Indian team went into the 1974 series without being allowed to use their fielders in close catching positions. BCCI of the 1970s, agreed to these unfavorable terms.

Without access to TV rights, BCCI of the 1970s was dependent on earnings of the Indian cricket team, from tours to rich countries like Britain, Australia, New Zealand. After the rules were ‘fixed’, India had little chance in the 1974 series.

That little chance was India’s famed hunters – spinners. The hunter-pack of spinners worked in tandem with close-in fielders.

India’s superb close-in catching cordon which gave a cutting edge to its spin attack. Led by Eknath Solkar, this group of catching specialists including Ajit Wadekar, Abid Ali, wicket keeper Farokh Engineer and Venkat himself, surrounded the batsmen like a steel trap. One false move and the trap snapped shut, claiming another victim.

via Indian Cricket Fever – Hall of Fame – The Spin Quartet.

Pataudi, who had innovated the ‘hunter-pack’ strategy of spinners in tandem with close-in fielders, opted out of the 1974 tour after coming to know of this stipulation. Wadekar retired after the disastrous 1974 tour.

Consider this fact: the Indian Spin Quartet of Bishan Singh Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna, and Srinivas Venkataraghvan captured 853 Test wickets in the decade and a bit that they played together, from the mid 1960s to the late 1970s. This compares with the 835 Test wickets that the West Indian Pace Quartet of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft took in the decade and a bit that they played together from the early 1970s to the mid 1980s. In other words the Spin Quartet was every bit as lethal, in terms of danger to batsmen’s wickets, if not to limbs, as the Pace Quartet.

via Indian Cricket Fever – Hall of Fame – The Spin Quartet.

Of course, English pitches of 1974 and later were ‘sporting’. They offered assistance to English fast bowlers. Indian pitches that assist Indian spinners are crumbling ‘dust bowls’, which are dead and deteriorating.

You must also rewmember, if English and Australians struggle in India, it is because Indians create conditions favorable to Indian teams. If Indians struggle in Australia and England, Indians are a weak side – and only tigers at home.

Coming back to the 1974 tour – After all the bizarre rules, came the psychological games.

British police and judiciary pushed a case of billing error into a case of shop-lifting on an Indian player, Sudhir Naik – for a few pairs of socks. After the Sudhir Naik persecution, the devastated Indian team had little chance.

In one innings, India managed to score 42 all out – the all time lowest by any major test team.

Bishen Bedi - and Inset Image - John Lever with his famous Vaseline strip.  |  Image source & courtesy - intoday.in

Bishen Bedi – and Inset Image – John Lever with his famous Vaseline strip. | Image source & courtesy – intoday.in

The Saga Continues

Soon after the British debacle, later in 1974, for the West Indies tour to India, Pataudi was recalled. Pataudi used the same tactics (spinners + close-in fielders) as a captain against the famed West Indies – taking the series to the decider fifth match.

Soon after, in 1976, came the Vaseline incident where Bishan Bedi spoke out on the ball-tampering by the English team. Tony Grieg was supported by the ECB as an inadvertent mistake – and let off. BCCI in no position to push ECB or ICC, had to penalize Bedi.

Mike Atherton, in his book confirmed how England defeated Australia using a common trick in county cricket – using mint-lozenges. Of course, no one was penalized or brought to book. Dravid, after a stint in the county-circuit, was caught using this trick, brazenly.

Similarly, to counter the West Indian pace-quartets, the ICC turned its attention to bouncers – to curb the West Indies.

The Bouncer Rule (1991) – Somewhere along the way – between Paul Terry’s broken arm and Mike Gatting’s pulped nose – the West Indies pace quartet of the 1980s picked up a reputation for intimidatory bowling. Other teams, when they weren’t complaining about the blows inflicted on their bodies and psyche, started to point at West Indies’ over-rate, which sometimes crawled along at just 70 a day.

Something had to give, and when it did it tilted the balance completely the other way. In 1991, the ICC introduced the “one bouncer per batsman per over” rule in an attempt to end the intimidation, and buck up the over-rates. Flat-track bullies rejoiced but fast bowlers, already condemned to bowling on shirtfronts in most parts of the world, weren’t amused, and vociferous protests saw the law amended in 1994 to incorporate two bouncers per over. One-day cricket took much longer to listen to the bowlers’ pleas, and it was only in 2001 that once bouncer per over was allowed.

MAK Pataudi

MAK Pataudi

Mind you, ICC was totally indifferent after the West Indian pace-bowlers injured five Indian bowlers at the Sabina Park, 1976 Test. India, batting first, crossed 200-1 and seemed likely to run away with the series.

And we have Indian newspapers talking of how ‘sporting’ Britishers had to ‘tolerate’ Indian conditions – in the ’cause’ of cricket.

World Cup 1987 had me watching the semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium, where Graham Gooch literally swept England to victory over India; then, in my room in the Taj Hotel, with the enchanting Gateway to India visible outside (innocent vision against the later horror of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack), I watched Australia win the other semi. Now I had to book a flight to Calcutta for the final.

The airline official looked across his desk at me and offered a 5.30 morning flight. I protested. He stared at me. “Don’t you wish to go?” I hadn’t noticed the twinkle in his eye. “Oh, all right then, I’ll try to get to the airport in time,” I replied lamely. Then he reached into a drawer. “I do have this other flight, if you prefer. It leaves at 9.30.” Much relieved, I forgave him the tease and grabbed at the offer.

There was a further problem when I tried cashing a traveller’s cheque. My bank apparently traded in South Africa, which was still the forbidden land. More panic, more sweating. Fortunately this snag was overcome with a backstreet currency trader. I was on my way.

And I wish I was on my way now to Ahmedabad to enjoy the sights, sounds and aromas of an Indian Test match. However, here in England I have a cosy armchair and a television set cued to the cricket channel . . . and I have my memories.

via Passage to India – Analysis – DNA.

Cricket apart, this jaundiced piece of journalism reveals the double-standards of the West when it came to apartheid in South Africa. It took relentless boycott, led by India, of Western trade and businesses that had to abandon South Africa, which forced the South African regime to finally allow Black-majority rule in South Africa.

People forget that today.


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