Saudia bans Rama and Maya (also Linda, Lauren,..)

What a utterly crazy country is Saudi Arabia.

But you do have to admire the craziness. It is a craziness that only those living in the lap of luxury can afford. It is the craziness of the old badshahs and maharajahs and emperors who could put up a thousand folks on the gallows in a fit of displeasure. Many centuries later (after the oil has disappeared) you will still probably find them well settled back in their bedouin life.

PS what is the probability that Taliban will pick up on this and we will have new naming regulations in SAsia?

PPS People are having a lot of fun with this. Now that Rama is banned what about Rama-dan?

Rama banned so try Dasharatha-nandana or Lakshmana-bhrata. Maya is Amitabha-mata.
There are one million versions that can be tried out and the Saudis will not be any wiser (they will have to learn Sanskrit first what is the chance of that?).

My own (lame contribution): A popular Gandhi quote is “Aram haraam hai (laziness is a sin).” Now people in his native land may no longer care for his message but Saudi has honored Gandhi’s words by banning Aram (see list). Imitation is the best way of showing your (halal) devotion.

Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry has banned 50 given names including
“foreign” names, names related to royalty and those it considers to be

The names fit into at least three categories: those that offend perceived
religious sensibilities, those that are affiliated to royalty and those that
are of non-Arabic or non-Islamic origin.

A number of other names appear that do not necessarily fit into any category
and it is therefore unclear as to why they would have been banned. Names such
as Abdul Naser and Binyamin are not found to be particularly offensive to
Muslims. Binyamin is believed in Islam to be the son of Prophet Jacob (Yaqoub)
(PBUH) and the full brother of Prophet Joseph (PBUH), but it also happens to be
the name of the Israeli prime minister. Abdul Naser, similarly, is the name of
the famous Arab nationalist ruler of Egypt, who was at odds with Saudi Arabia.

Names such as Abdul Nabi and Abdul Hussain, common among Shiites and some
Sunni Arabs, are controversial because of the multiple ways in which they can
be interpreted. Abdul in Arabic means “worshipper of” or “slave of”, while Nabi
means “prophet” and Rasool means “messenger”. Those who oppose such names argue
that Abdul means “worshipper of’ and is therefore forbidden as only God can be
worshipped. Most Muslim names with Abdul carry one of God’s 99 Islamic names.
Abdul Rahman, for example, comes from the name Al Rahman.

The full list of forbidden names:

Malaak (angel)   Abdul Aati   Abdul Naser  Abdul Musleh
Binyamin (Arabic for Benjamin)
Naris Yara Sitav
Loland Tilaj Barrah
Abdul Nabi  Abdul Rasool
Sumuw (highness)
Al Mamlaka (the kingdom)
Malika (queen)
Mamlaka (kingdom)
Tabarak (blessed)
Nardeen Sandy

Rama (Hindu god)
Maline Elaine Inar
Linda Randa
Basmala (utterance of the name of God)
Jibreel (angel Gabriel)
Abdul Mu’een
Abrar Iman Bayan Baseel Wireelam
Nabi (prophet)
Nabiyya (female prophet)
Amir (prince)

Nareej Rital Alice 
Lareen Kibrial Lauren



Save rhinos, be safe from leopards

In the urban jungle that in Mumbai people are constantly getting killed by roving leopards (there are 11 feet long alligators as well).

In the Kaziranga national park/forest the rhinos are getting killed by China backed poachers.

The proposed solution: deport the leopards and de-horn the rhinos. The cruelty is unimaginable and the solutions dont work. 

As far as the rhinos are concerned, serious question, why do we not present a few baby rhinos to China (just like they loan their pandas) for a few million dollars so that THEY can saw of the horns periodically and leave the few rhinos back in the jungle in peace.

Assam lost at least 90 of its 2500-odd rhinos to poachers
since 2008, 34 of those only in 2013. Mumbai’s Aarey colony lost three children
and two women to leopards in the last two years even though the forest
department has trapped two dozen leopards in and around the colony since 2004.
Indeed, chopping off horns to save
rhinos is not a new idea. Namibia was the first country to dehorn its rhinos in
1989. But it also invested heavily in anti-poaching infrastructure during the
1990s. In the absence of effective security, dehorning alone does not help. In
Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, for example, most of the dehorned rhinos were
killed within 12-18 months of dehorning in the early 1990s. Dehorning has not
worked in South Africa either, where 350 rhinos were poached in 2013 alone. The
Kenyan Wildlife Service took a stand against dehorning and lost 37 rhinos in
2013. Zimbabwe kept faith and lost six newly dehorned rhinos during
January-August 2011 in the Save Valley Conservancy. 
The problem is manifold.
First, one cannot remove the whole horn without mutilating the rhino like
poachers do. After veterinarians saw off the horn, the stump remains rooted
deep inside the tissue and is enough to lure poachers. Secondly, like nail,
horns grow back, making dehorning necessary every 3-4 years. Huge expenses apart,
it requires frequent sedation of rhinos. Unfortunately, one in every 20
immobilisation attempts kills a rhino. Thirdly, the horn serves key biological
purposes, from selection of mate for breeding to defending calves against
predators. Altogether, absence of the horn does not make the survival odds
significantly higher compared to the threats of poaching. Then there is the
issue of the chopped horns, valued in gold in the international market.

While Assam plots a loss of face, Maharashtra is
suffering from a loss of reason. It is
possible to trap and shift every leopard sighted in Aarey Colony. Only it will
be a never-ending exercise. The leopards of Aarey are part of the population
that lives in Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and will keep showing up,
unless all leopards are removed from SGNP itself. That too may not solve the
problem as leopards are known to move into SGNP from other parts of the state. 

If nothing short of extermination will free the Aarey colony of leopards, how
can the residents escape conflict? The forested stretches around the
settlements should be avoided, especially by children who often take short-cuts
through bushland because the BMC dragged its feet over launching a bus service
to the nearest school 5 km away. It is unclear why the forest department or
NGOs failed to move the city transport department for over a year or run a
school bus themselves. The area should be cleared of garbage piles that attract
feral dogs and pigs that in turn draw leopards. More toilets should be
installed so that residents do not have to squat in the open and be mistaken by
leopards for prey animals. Mumbai’s many civil society groups take pride in
garbage collection drives or awareness campaigns but have so far failed to tap
into government or voluntary schemes to offer any permanent solution to either. 



The poverty picture (Africa)

Sub-Saharan Africa may very well be the next big opportunity but it pays to look at the ground conditions (India is facing  the same problem)

John Page and Abebe Shimeles, authors of a recent
study published by the World Institute for Development Economic Research,
think they have found an answer: not enough workers have moved from the fields
to offices and factories….. 

Indeed, in Tanzania and Uganda, jobs have moved
in the other direction, from services to agriculture.

The authors measure how responsive employment is to GDP growth and find
sub-Saharan Africa has the most unresponsive labour markets in the world….. 

Page and Shimeles reckon that if employment
shifted away from farming, poverty levels would dive.

Rwanda has experienced such a shift in recent years. Agriculture made up
three quarters of its employment in 2000; that fell to 52 per cent in 2011. A
mining and construction boom emerged.  

Page and Shimeles calculate that the
sectoral shift was almost wholly responsible for Rwanda’s subsequent fall in

There are lessons here for countries like Nigeria….Yet in 2010, 44 per cent of
Nigeria’s workforce was still employed in the agriculture sector.
For a big
drop in poverty, the jobs market needs to change.


The Posiedon flies high (in the Andaman sky)

This is the latest Reuters story. Satellite data confirms that MH-370 was in-flight for as long as four hours. Military radar indicates that the plane was heading towards Andaman Islands.

Malaysia Airlines missing jet transmitted its location repeatedly to satellites
over the course of five hours after it disappeared from radar, people
briefed on the matter said, as searchers zeroed in on new target areas
hundreds of miles west of the plane’s original course. The
satellites also received speed and altitude information about the plane
from its intermittent “pings,” the people said. The final ping was sent
from over water, at what one of these people called a normal cruising
altitude. They added that it was unclear why the pings stopped. One of
the people, an industry official, said it was possible that the system
sending them had been disabled by someone on board. 

The vast Indian ocean now holds the key to the missing airline.One thing is now clear: there was definite foul play- the communications systems were switched off deliberately and the plane was traveling on a known path.

It is chilling to even think about what happened, however IMO suspicion will now fall strongly on the pilot(s), like what happened with Egypt Air Flight 990.

It will be now up to USA, India and China to find the plane (if ever).

India’s defense ministry said Friday a third Coast Guard vessel, the CGS
Sagar, is en route from Singapore to join a widening search effort
already underway in the Andaman Sea near the Malacca Strait. The ship,
when it arrives, will join the INS Kumbhir, an amphibious warfare ship,
and INS Saryu, a patrol vessel, along with a host of military aircraft
(Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force) searching the waters west of Malaysia.

In a far more detailed description of
military radar plotting than has been publicly revealed, two sources told
Reuters an unidentified aircraft that investigators suspect was missing Flight
MH370 appeared to be following a commonly used navigational route when it was
last spotted early on Saturday, northwest of Malaysia.

That course – headed into the Andaman Sea and
towards the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean – could only have been set
deliberately, either by flying the Boeing (BA.N)
777-200ER jet manually or by programming the auto-pilot. A third investigative source said inquiries
were focusing more on the theory that someone who knew how to fly a plane
deliberately diverted the flight
hundreds of miles off its scheduled course
from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. “What we can say is we are looking at
sabotage, with hijack still on the cards,” said the source, a senior
Malaysian police official.

The U.S. Navy was sending an advanced P-8A
Poseidon plane to help search the Strait of Malacca, a busy sealane separating
the Malay Peninsula from the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It had already
deployed a Navy P-3 Orion aircraft to those waters. U.S. defence officials told Reuters that the
U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer, USS Kidd, was heading to the Strait of
Malacca, answering a request from the Malaysian government. The Kidd had been
searching the areas south of the Gulf of Thailand, along with the destroyer USS

Satellites picked up faint electronic pulses
from the aircraft after it went missing on Saturday, but the signals gave no
immediate information about where the jet was heading and little else about its
fate, two sources close to the investigation said on Thursday.

The fact that the plane – if it was MH370 –
had lost contact with air traffic control and was invisible to civilian radar
suggested someone on board had turned off its communication systems, the first
two sources said.
They also gave new details on the direction
in which the unidentified aircraft was heading – following aviation corridors
identified on maps used by pilots as N571 and P628 –
routes taken by commercial
planes flying from Southeast Asia to the Middle East or Europe.

An already difficult search task has been
complicated in some areas by a choking haze caused by burning forest and
farmland that has enveloped much of Malaysia and spilled into the Strait of
Malacca. The haze, exacerbated by a prolonged dry spell, has reached hazardous
levels in several spots. “The haze will affect the search and
rescue operations for sure. The visibility at the ground level has dropped to
less than 3 km (1.9 miles),” Amirzudi Hashim, a senior meteorologist at
the National Weather Center, told Reuters.

India had deployed ships, planes and
helicopters from the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, at the juncture of the
Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, an Indian military spokesman, Harmeet Singh,
said on Friday. Two Dornier aircraft were searching the land mass of
the Andaman and Nicobar islands, a total area of 720 km by 52 km, Singh said.

China, which had more than 150 citizens on board
the missing plane, has deployed four warships, four coastguard vessels, eight
aircraft and trained 10 satellites on a wide search area. Chinese media have
described the ship deployment as the largest Chinese rescue fleet ever



Sikh-Baha’i nuptials go (semi) viral

Raja Harmeet Singh:

Wedding of my niece Sahar Haghighat with Donesh Anwari in Jaipur — with Aastha HaghighatHarmeet SinghDonesh AnwariFarnaz ParastMona HaghighatSahar Haghighat AnwariGurpreet KaurArsheen KaurShekoofeh Moghaddas, Er Tarandeep Singh, Japjot Singh, Ash Mass Moghaddas, Soolmaz Haghighat, Shide MoghaddasHaleh Nabiollahi and Siavash Haghighat.

It seems the Sikh side is also Baha’i(esque) since Mr. Harmeet Singh has the Shrine of Baha’u’llah as his cover profile. It’s a nice glimpse into a Baha’i future, the different peoples of the world (or in this case North India- Iranis) clustered together under the symbol of the Greatest Name (the 100th Hidden Name of God), Baha’.


Worse than Hitler !!!

First came the Hitler insults and we did nothing. Next came the worse than Hitler gaalis and we still stood silent (see below).

What next? Stalin.…well no that is actually a live politician in India, and he only wants to finish off his elder brother…so that would make him an Aurangzeb…. no wait, Stalin’s father himself abandoned his eldest son and gave Stalin the throne…which implies Stalin is actually Bharat….

Mao.…well there are many live blood-red Maoists in India (only fake Maos in his own home-land) and strong words will not break their bones…for that you need AK-47s (actual not metaphorical guns).

Fun fact (#1):  The actual Hitler collaborator Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (see below) founded the Forward Block which is a partner in the current Left Front coalition in Bengal.  
The Nehru-Gandhi family does not like Bose (he could have upstaged Nehru but for the intervention of Gandhi). As befits the party of (supposed) nationalists BJP (and Arun Jaitley) should take this opportunity and claim Bose as their own (as they have claimed Sardar Patel). That may win them a few extra votes in Bengal.

Fun fact (#2):  The Emergency that Arun Jaitley describes was led by Mrs Gandhi and supported by the Communists (CPI) on direct instructions from Moscow.  

So here you have an example of a (worse than) Hitler collaborator working for a foreign pay-master. 

This may well be the worst possible political gaali. Please mail in the check, Mr Jaitley.

Victor Mallet gives the back-story in the Financial Times

What is it about Adolf Hitler and India? I thought it was the British who were uniquely persistent in their post-war
obsession with the Nazi dictator.  

(Humourist Alan Coren entitled one of his
books Golfing for Cats and put a Nazi flag on the cover because he had learned
that golf, cats and Nazis were the three topics that sold well.)

Modi’s opponents on the left relish the comparison with the man responsible
for the murder of 6m Jews because it hints at the darkest moment in the BJP
leader’s past: the days in 2002 when hundreds of members of the Muslim minority
were killed by Hindu rioters in Gujarat, soon after Modi became the state’s
chief minister. Sitaram Yechury, a politburo member of the Communist Party of India
(Marxist), told the FT last year
that Modi’s popularity was “chillingly reminiscent of the appeal that Hitler
had among the German youth”.

Yet it is not only right-wingers in the BJP that are the targets of Hitler
jibes. Arun Jaitley, one of the most senior BJP leaders and a likely cabinet
minister in any Modi government, said it was Rahul Gandhi’s grandmother Indira
Gandhi who was the real Hitler in India’s post-independence history.

“The comparison between Hitler and her was startling,” he said on his blog in a bitter
response to Rahul Gandhi’s comments in Gujarat. Jaitley reminded his readers
that he had spent 19 months in jail during the emergency and authoritarian rule
imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975 and read William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of
the Third Reich in prison.

“Suspension of democracy, abrogation of civil liberties, detention of
political opponents, suspension of democratic activity, abandonment of free
press, absence of judicial independence and [vesting] of power in one person
were features of Hitler’s regime. Each step had inspired Indira-ji’s internal
Emergency. There was one basic difference between the two. Hitler did not promote
a dynasty because he did not have one to promote.”

…But Subhas Chandra Bose, a radical
Congress leader, cooperated with Nazi Germany and with Japan during the second
world war and raised an army of liberation that was eventually defeated along
with the Japanese.

I can add a personal footnote: When I first met our doctor in Delhi, I was
surprised by his unusual first name and asked him whether his father had
opposed colonial rule in the days of the British Raj.
He said he had. The
doctor’s name is Rommel.



PKR World Champion

Some skeptics and naysayers (what can we do without them) are complaining that Saudi Arabia/GCC contribution of $1.5B comes with hidden strings (weapons for Syria). Conspiracies also tied it to the (lack of) progress in the ongoing Musharraf trial (summary: he did not show up).

Most plausible is the explanation that the money is a token of friendship that runs deep between the Saudis and Nawaz Sharif. The gift is being referred to as halal dollars.

Getting to #1 is a significant achievement. Now the only thing to do is to maintain the momentum, and to tell the Taliban (sweetly) to knock it off.
Pakistan’s rupee surged 5.2 percent
this week, the best performance among world currencies, as the
nation’s rising foreign reserves and improving economy buoyed
investor confidence.

The country’s currency stockpile climbed to $9.52 billion
this week, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said yesterday, from $8.3
billion at the end of 2013. The economy is on course to achieve
the official target of 4.4 percent expansion in the year ending
June 30, he said, after the prior period’s 3.6 percent growth. A
planned global bond offering, an auction of third-generation
mobile-phone licenses and an International Monetary Fund loan
are set to boost fund inflows, according to the central bank.

The rupee rallied 7 percent this month to 98.08 per dollar,
according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The currency, which
touched the strongest level since June of 97.7870 yesterday,
slipped 0.2 percent today. JS Global Capital Ltd., a Karachi-based brokerage, said it raised its year-end forecast for the
rupee yesterday to 106 from 111.

“Foreign-exchange reserves have a huge hand in this”
rally, said Muzzammil Aslam, Karachi-based managing director at
research firm Emerging Economics Research. “Expectations for
further inflows are high, including the IMF loan tranche and the
3G auction scheduled for next month.”

Pakistan plans to raise as much as $500 million in its
first overseas bond sale since 2007, according to Finance
Minister Dar. The offering is expected to take place by end-March and may be followed with a sukuk issuance, Dar said in
Dubai on Feb. 9.

The State Bank of Pakistan may leave its benchmark interest
rate unchanged if the government meets targets under an IMF
program to draw inflows of as much as $3 billion by June, Hamza Ali Malik, director of the monetary policy department at the
central bank, said in a Feb. 17 interview. The rupee may soon stabilize amid concern its rally will
threaten exports, according to Khurram Schehzad, chief
investment officer managing stocks, bonds and commodities worth
$150 million at Karachi-based Lakson Investments.

“Reserves have improved and there is a sentiment shift,”
said Farrah Marwat, head of research in Karachi at JS Global
Capital. “You can see the government has picked up pace on all
the commitments such as the Eurobond, privatization and the 3G



10 mil millionaires

Dollar millionaires have one advantage over the rest of us: skin color (such as ..ahem, brown) is not that important (though fine distinctions will be made with respect to ownership of second homes, painting collections, antique cars in the garage etc.).

And in the USA alone there are now 10 million of them (58% growth from 2008), suggesting that while many of us will be struggling to get on to the (non-existent) career ladder, they are polishing up on their gangnam routines (and have recovered just fine from the great depression).

The immediate bracket below is doing fine as well, 1.6% growth in 2013 to reach 29 million (10% of the population).

Thus regardless of what skeptics claim, the heart of capitalism (US upper and middle-class) is in pink form. However if you want to afford a top flight university you may have to double up as a porn star. .

There was a record 9.63 million households in the U.S. with a net worth of $1 million or more last year, according to new market research. The number of millionaire households surged 58 percent from a dip in
2008, when there were 6.7 million households worth $1 million or more
(not including primary residences). In 2007, there were 9.2 million
households worth that amount, reports market research firm Spectrem
Group. At the wealthiest levels, there were
132,000 households with a net worth of $25 million or more, up from
125,000 in 2007, before the recession.

The number of affluent households worth between $100,000 and $1
million was also up in 2013 from a year earlier. There were 28.97
million households in that category last year, a jump of 500,000 from

In contrast India has 182,000 dollar millionaires. There are also 180,000 NRI millionaires.

If (as some of us wish for) a Chairman Mao like person came along and got rid of all Indians except a couple of million, we can be overnight as prosperous as the United States. Food for thought.



Made in Bangladesh

Over at The Aerogram there is a post, Made in Bangladesh, which is addressed to the young woman who posed topless in the American Apparel advertisement. I’m rather ambivalent about the whole thing. American Apparel knows how to get publicity, and sells clothes with ads which make Abercrombie & Fitch seem a little less on the pornish side. Additionally, the whole virtue of being made-in-America doesn’t hold much appeal for me when put next to the fact that the textile industry has reshaped the economic possibilities of the less well off female population of Bangladesh.

On the the other hand I found Taz Ahmed’s style to be condescending and self-congratulatory. Perhaps more important the interpretative framework of radical Left politics and Critical Race Theory is so thick and cloying  that the simple and spare critique is almost suffocated by nods to nearly every trope in this mode of analysis. There’s the weird contradiction of celebrating free choice and individual freedom, and then totally removing all agency from the subject of critique, and making implicit accusations of false consciousness. Many of the commenters, who seem to be mostly Bangladeshi, did not react positively to this style of delivery (see this post at Medium).

I think the commenters were a little too harsh, and as uncharitable to her as Taz was being to the model in the advert. Nevertheless, it has to be admitted that of thinking about the economic ramifications of the textile industry and trade, the post made to consider how Cultural Marxism can make anyone seem like a smug narcissist to all those outside of the small core audience of fellow travelers who are also marinated in their private lexicon.