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May 21, 2009

News summary May 21 2009

Filed under: democracy, India, news — Tags: , — neosurya @ 06:37

‘Ultimate fighting’, a sport with few rules, has raised a storm in Germany
TOI, Bangalore Edition, Editorial page

Just when I was beginning to think that news has become boring, did something very titillating appear in the editorial pages. Apparently:

‘Ultimate fighters’ are men who maul each other with bare knuckles and feet in octagonal cages, a setting straight out of Mad Max. And they can go all out in terms of brutality. About the only thing a UFC participant can’t do is bite his opponent or gouge out his eyes.
….Why do men no longer kill each other in duels, sword fights and other blood-andgore exploits, as they once did with little or no social disapproval? The reason is a civilising process that turned man from savage to human being.COUNTER VIEW:

That the level of violence on display in the mixed martial arts franchise can be difficult to stomach for some people is understandable. But the contestants are willing participants and the viewers are not coerced. They are acting out of free will and there are simply no grounds to deny them that right. Fears that it will contribute to a culture of violence are overblown.

There is an element of hypocrisy on display as well. If Ultimate Fighting is to be reviled, what of boxing? The contestants in the latter wear gloves but it can be every bit as bloody. There are well-known instances of serious injuries and even death in the ring. Or what, for that matter, of bullfighting? It does not make it any less of a blood sport because animals, not humans, are being butchered.

One author wrote against the Ultimate Fighting sport, while the other wrote for it. I wonder how much the prize money would be for the winner of this game. And also, which ads would appear during the “breaks”.

An unfinished agenda
TOI, Bangalore Edition, Editorial page

The article is mainly about decentralizing power from Delhi, and the oft-repeated quote that democracy has to come from bottom up. It claims that the Congress will lead to increased strengthening of the Panchayat and Nagarpalia (local governments). Excerpts from the article:

It has long been obvious that India needs more decentralisation. The freedom movement required rallying an entire nation. A centralised political organisation fighting for one cause was needed. After independence, a different political pattern was required. Mahatma Gandhi convened a meeting of Congress leaders in Sevagram in March 1948 to discuss how the organisation could reform itself to meet the challenges of social and economic development. Though he was assassinated in January, the meeting was held as he had desired. The record of that meeting was published in 2007 in a fascinating book, Gandhi is Gone. Who Will Guide Us Now?
In the meeting, Vinoba Bhave made a case for a new form of organisation unlike the hierarchical entities then considered necessary for government, political parties and large businesses. It would be a network of local organisations. He explained that only such an organisation could preserve the spirit of service whereas hierarchical entities would dissipate their energies in internal matters and power politics.
Acharya Kripalani supported Bhave’s argument. “Without decentralisation, democracy is an empty falsehood,” he said. “Centralisation brings bureaucracy. Bureaucracy and technocracy are both equally the enemies of democracy.” Others in the meeting, however, wondered how activities managed in the loose manner Bhave proposed could ever be ‘scaled up’ to have a widespread effect.

India is diverse and has huge challenges of sustainable social and economic development. Unlike China, it also has political plurality and democracy.

But the critical requirement is to decentralise power. Rajiv Gandhi moved amendments to the Constitution to pass on power to panchayats and urban local bodies. Politicians and bureaucrats, however, will not let go of the power they have. Therefore, it is for Congress leaders to fulfil the unfinished agenda.

The writer is quite supportive of the Congress. When I woke up today morning, DD had a long infomercial about Rajiv Gandhi and the Panchayati Raj. Here is an excerpt from his speech: PDF file. NREGA is a good scheme created by the Govt. But it also has a dole out model built in. I wonder if these well-meaning ideals may turn socialist.

Hillary trashes 30 years of US policy towards Pakistan
TOI, Bangalore Edition, page 18
One more reason why humans fight:

“I think that it is fair to say that our policy toward Pakistan over the last 30 years has been incoherent. I don’t know any other word to use. We came in the ’80s and helped to build up the Mujahideen to take on the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis were our partners in that. The Soviet Union fell in 1989, and we basically said, thank you very much; we had all kinds of sanctions being imposed on the Pakistanis,” Clinton said at a White House event where she announced an emergency $ 110 million aid to Pakistan for the humanitarian crisis in Swat.

Nearly 20,000 slots still left in H-1B visas
TOI, Bangalore Edition, page 18
I guess one can still go to Buffalo after all !!!

7-yr-old found dead in state BJP chief’s car
TOI, Mumbai Edition, page 1
The excerpts of this article should say it all:

Maharashtra’s BJP boss Nitin Gadkari was embroiled in a nasty controversy on Tuesday following the discovery of the body of a seven-yearold girl from one of his cars and allegations that the class III student had been raped.

a local doctor had been summoned to Gadkari’s home immediately after the body was discovered. The doctor declared the girl dead and Yogita’s body was then taken to her home in a rickshaw by her mother and sister. The girl’s father Ashok Thakre said that he was shocked when he saw his wife Vimla entering their home with Yogita’s body. “We rushed her to the Government Medical College and Hospital,’’ said Thakre. Surprisingly, no one bothered to inform the police and a case was filed only after a local activist, Kishore Ingle, intervened late at night.

“It was hot and she (Yogita) could not endure the heat with her frail heart. All other theories behind her death are politically driven,’’

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