Arvind Kejriwal flies high

Does he not realize that he is under the microscope? He has two choices: pay his way or disclose his funding sources (that was already happening). The latter path will still leave him open to accusations of bias, but that is the problem of being (and promising to be) Mr Clean.

By taking India Today’s private Beechcraft
flight today (March 7, 2014), you make me feel foolish that I ever
supported you or reposed some faith in you as a politician of a new
India. Your representative on the prime time chat show may have
pathetically tried to defend the indefensible with such pitiable excuses
as 1) the Beechcraft ride was paid for by India Today and not by you,
and 2) that you took the flight in the interest of saving time!  

defender didn’t seem to reflect for a moment that just this morning in
Gujarat you had eloquently fired away several questions at Narendra Modi
on his use of private flights and then within hours you had hopped
aboard one yourself, after all the moralistic stance you had taken all
this while about eschewing the VIP culture, the red lights, the
security, the cavalcade and other perks of office and what have you. 

truth is that your action today tantamounts to spitting on the face of
all those true aam admis who have stood by you and believed in the
values that you pretended to abide by all this time. The truth is today,
you don’t have a shred of a fig-leaf left to hide your abject bareness



Belly Dancing, Clickbait and Censorship on

By Brown Pundits Archive 3 Comments

As many of you probably know by now, Randa Jarrar has an article in Salon about how White women are appropriating belly dancing and how much she hates that.
You can read the whole thing at the above link, but here is her concluding paragraph:
But, here’s the thing. Arab women are not vessels for white women to pour themselves and lose themselves in; we are not bangles or eyeliner or tiny bells on hips. We are human beings. This dance form is originally ours, and does not exist so that white women can have a better sense of community; can gain a deeper sense of sisterhood with each other; can reclaim their bodies; can celebrate their sexualities; can perform for the female gaze. Just because a white woman doesn’t profit from her performance doesn’t mean she’s not appropriating a culture. And, ultimately, the question is this: Why does a white woman’s sisterhood, her self-reclamation, her celebration, have to happen on Arab women’s backs?
Well qualified people will no doubt take apart her stupid arguments (some already have) or make fun of her or take the opportunity to say “I told you those ragheads are morons”, but my beef is with Salon. When I first saw the piece today (via a tweet from Razib) I posted a short comment on it that went something like this:

“I dont think Randa is actually such a self-righteous moron. She must have a book launch coming up and she knew this piece would become the most “controversial” piece on Salon. Read the signs people!”

A few hours later there were over a thousand comments on the site, but my comment was gone. A lot of the comments (in fact, most of the comments) are negative, but yes, they do take her seriously by trying to answer her arguments instead of questioning her motives. None of them has been deleted.
So I tried again. I posted the comment again. It was deleted in 5 minutes.
Naturally I turned to Brownpundits.
So people, what do you think? do you think she is is completely sincere? or is there an element of cold calculation in this piece (i.e., did she deliberately take a position even she does not really believe in order to generate controversy)?
This is not a rhetorical question. I am really curious. ( btw, I am NOT looking for a discussion on the merits of her argument. I am sure some of our readers find some merit in her arguments, but that discussion is already going on at the Salon site and I suspect any argument with me will flounder because we dont share enough common assumptions).
Personally, I am inclined to think she is serious but the possibility that she did this specifically to cause a controversy (whether for a book launch or just to get noticed) is still there.
And why does Salon think that calling her a fool is OK, but suggesting that she may be an intelligent woman shrewdly exploiting an opportunity is beyond the pale?

(This picture proves that I follow her argument, even if I completely disagree with her)


How does a Sharia state work?

It is instructive to learn from Malaysia. The particular advantage of using Sharia as a sword is that people rising up in protest (against miscarriage of justice) would think twice before giving aid and comfort for supposedly blasphemous/sinful actions.

A Malaysian court convicted opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim
of sodomy and sentenced him to five years in prison on Friday….the ruling bars Anwar from running for a seat in the
state assembly of Selangor this month, a move that would likely have
paved the way for him to become chief minister of Malaysia’s most
populous state
— a potent platform from which to attack the government
ahead of the next national election.

If Anwar, 66, loses his
federal court appeal, he would face jail and would be barred from
contesting the next national election that must be held by 2018.
(happening) all over again after 15 years,” Anwar, who was sacked as
deputy prime minister and finance minister in 1998 and convicted a year
later, told reporters.



Hanif Kureishi and Comrade Lenin

Are writers special? Is writing a special talent? Can creative writing be taught?

Ian Jack comments (down below in the article) on HK’s comments on the above (in summary they agree: Yes, Yes, and NO, but Jack warns about the downsides of cutting the branch you are sitting upon). 

Hanif Kureishi thinks creative writing courses are a waste
of time, which is a dangerous thing to say given that he makes his
living (not all of it, but probably more of it than he does from his novels) as
a professor of creative writing at Kingston University. Telling a story well took a rare skill, he
told an audience at the Bath literary festival last weekend.
He estimated that perhaps 0.1% of his students had it. Could it be taught?
Kureishi didn’t think so. Would he pay money to take an MA in creative
writing himself? “No … that would be madness.”

We should feel sorry for all
concerned: for a university that may consequently face a sharp drop in fee
income; for Kureishi’s students, who have paid £5,800 each (£12,700 for non-EU
citizens) for their professor’s useless course; and not least for Kureishi
himself, biting the hand that fed him out of a rage (I speculate)
that he has to make money in this despicable way.

….But how do you explain the apparently unstoppable growth of a
vocational course for a vocation that is being remorselessly de-monetised? When
Kureishi started out, the University of
East Anglia had Britain’s only department of creative writing, which may
also have been the only one outside North America. Today no broad-based
university would dream of living without one, despite the fact that writing
(“literary” and otherwise) earns increasingly little money, if any at
all, and we are returning to the time when it was confined as an occupation to
those who had private incomes or the patronage of philanthropists and

What tempts students towards such an
unfeasible career?
A clue lies on
Kingston University’s website: “A Kingston University creative writing
MA graduate has been snapped up in a six-figure deal by one of the world’s
biggest publishers after her self-published books topped the Kindle download
rankings, selling tens of thousands of copies.” In other words, like winning the national lottery, it could happen
to you.

Workshopping is probably the most
hateful feature of writing courses,
easily mistaken for an American idea
because, like Alcoholics Anonymous, it believes in the benefits of group
frankness. In fact, according to a
professor of creative writing I once met in Chicago, the practice originated in
the early years of Soviet Russia, when Leninists wanted bourgeois activities
such as writing to assume the more muscular, proletarian habits of workers’
According to my American professor, Lenin found the results
hard-going when they were shown to him, and announced a preference for an old
favourite, Pushkin. In this, Hanif Kureishi and the Chairman of the Council of
People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union would have been at one.



Chicoms blame internet for terrorism

For all the (imaginary, real) trappings of prosperity China is never going to be able to afford democracy (forget liberal democracy), even to the point of unbanning youtube or facebook. This may be acceptable for most people, others I imagine simply dont care, and the miniscule number of activists do not count (or will be shouted down). But try as they might the manadarins will not be able to inoculate against derision. You dont have to do much, just quote their own statements verbatim. Mockery truly is the best policy.

Example: History and reality have shown that the Communist Party of China is a
loyal representative of the interests of people of all ethnic groups in
Xinjiang. Socialism is a broad road of prosperity for people of all
ethnic groups in Xinjiang. The great homeland is a beautiful home of
happy life for people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

The Xinjiang Room is named after the autonomous region of Xinjiang in
China’s northwest, which occupies one-sixth of the nation’s landmass.
Xinjiang is famous for its melons and flatbread, mosques and natural-gas
reserves. If that doesn’t sound very Chinese it’s because Xinjiang
culturally is much more Central Asian
than East Asian. In fact, Xinjiang’s name means New Frontier, and the
region was only given that appellation in 1884 when China’s Qing dynasty
had conquered its population of ethnic Uighurs and other minorities.

Since then, the region has chafed against rule from Beijing, which is
farther from Xinjiang’s Silk Road oases than Baghdad is. Memories of two
short-lived republics of East Turkestan, as some Uighurs prefer to
think of their homeland, have heightened separatist dreams ever since.

For many of us, this was why we were in the room. On March 1, black-clad assailants had unleashed a terrorism spree
in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, stabbing and slashing
passersby. By the time their rampage had ended, 29 people had been
killed and more than 140 injured. The government has blamed the attack
on “separatists from Xinjiang” who were also terrorists bent on jihad.
We wanted to know more. Who were they and where in Xinjiang were they
from? Should we expect more terrorism to come from disgruntled Uighurs?
Were the Kunming attackers jihadis or were they more motivated by
separatism? Could there be something else too that triggered this
horrific mass murder? What could the government do to win hearts and
minds in a tense, restive region?

But then, a postscript: as Xinjiang’s party secretary Zhang
Chunxian tried to leave the Xinjiang Room, a media scrum descended.
Zhang, a Han Chinese like nearly all of the men who have held the
highest-level post in the Uighur autonomous region, spoke his mind. The
main reason for the terrorism in Xinjiang was, drum roll: the flow of
information via the Internet.
Zhang said that nearly all terrorism in
Xinjiang was aided by terrorists jumping the Great Firewall constructed
by China’s state censors. 



MH370 (Kuala Lumpur to Beijing) is lost at sea

Let us hope against hope that some survivors can be found in time. This may or may not be connected to the ethnic disturbance that took some precious lives in Kunming recently (or given China’s rapacious record any number of discontents ranging from Burma to Kenya). Again let us hope for the best.

A search and rescue operation is underway after Malaysia Airlines said that a plane carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew on board went missing en route to Beijing.

Radar contact with the aircraft,
flight MH370, was lost in airspace controlled by Vietnam in the early
hours of Saturday morning, China’s
Xinhua news agency said. The aircraft did not enter airspace controlled
by China and did not make contact with Chinese controllers, Xinhua

statement published on Facebook by the airline said : “Malaysia
Airlines confirms that flight MH370 has lost contact with Subang Air
Traffic Control at 2.40am, today (8 March 2014). “Flight MH370,
operated on the B777-200 aircraft, departed Kuala Lumpur at 12.41am on 8
March 2014. MH370 was expected to land in Beijing at 6.30am the same
day. The flight was carrying a total number of 227 passengers (including
2 infants), 12 crew members.



Youtube ban proposed for Turkey

Youtube is already banned in Pakistan (due to the blasphemous movie that Google has been court-ordered to delete) and in China, Iran and Turkmenistan [ref. wiki]. The next stop is likely to be Turkey.

Turkey’s prime minister has threatened drastic steps to censor the Internet, including shutting down Facebook and YouTube,
where audio recordings of his alleged conversations suggesting
corruption have been leaked in the past weeks, dealing him a major blow
ahead of this month’s local elections.

In a late-night interview Thursday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
told ATV station that his government is determined to stem the leaks he
insists are being instigated by followers of an influential US-based
Muslim cleric. He has accused supporters of Fethullah Gulen of
infiltrating police and the judiciary and of engaging in “espionage,”
saying that the group even listened in on his encrypted telephone lines.
The Gulen movement denies involvement.

“We are determined on
the issue, regardless of what the world may say,” Erdogan said. “We
won’t allow the people to be devoured by YouTube, Facebook or others.
Whatever steps need to be taken we will take them without wavering.”  


Tears of a father

By Brown Pundits Archive 2 Comments
Poor kid, if he was just allowed to fall in love with a local girl (probably not too many desis in Amarillo, but how about desi matrimonial sites in the USA?) then he would have probably been alive. Instead we have one tragedy on our hands and a second one if/when the wife gets a life-term from the Texas jury. I would blame the father for setting up this train-wreck but that gives little satisfaction. 

In opening statement, assistant district attorney Jim Young said Bimal Patel, who had been born in India, “grew up basically an American kid” in Amarillo. He went to Texas Tech and moved to Austin, where he became involved in
business, but his father was a traditionalist and had pushed him to seek
a partner through an arranged marriage service in India, the prosecutor

Through this service, he submitted a resume and met
Shriya Patel, Young said. The two married, but it took about a year for
her to get her passport to come to the US, and she had only been in the
country a week when she decided to kill her husband, the prosecutor
 Shriya Patel’s trial began on
March 4 in Austin,Texas, with prosecutors accusing her of luring her
husband into the bathtub for a massage, dousing him with gasoline and
then setting him ablaze before shutting him in the bathroom. Bimal Patel, 29, died at the burn centre of the San Antonio Military Medical Center, nearly five months after the April 17, 2012, incident.  


Democracy against Brahmins

By Brown Pundits Archive 2 Comments
From appearances it looks like California now has a Brahmin (Asian) problem. Historically, the ancestors of Karthick Ramakrishnan have enjoyed their position at the top of the social pyramid in Dravida-Nadu.

Then came democracy (and more importantly the social justice movement) and the Brahmins (aka northern invaders) were driven away to the North, West, and Eastern corners of India, as a consequence of the (in)famous 69% reservation policy [ref. wiki]. The history of quotas and various arguments for/against are debated in this article. There is no doubt that reservations help seed a creamy layer in each category (which may or may not benefit the less well off people in the same categories). All in all about 80% of Tamil Nadu population are said to be protected by reservations.

Main Category as per Government of Tamil Nadu
Sub Category as per Government of Tamil Nadu
Reservation Percentage for each Sub
Category as per Government of Tamil Nadu
Reservation Percentage for each Main
Category as per Government of Tamil Nadu
Category as per Government of India
Backward Class (BC)
– General
Backward Class (BC)
– Muslims
only for Arunthathiyar)
Total Reservation

But the great northbound movement proved only to be a temporary respite. The quota battles spread out to the north as well, though settling at a lower level of 49.5% for now (more importantly enforcement was better than before, as Shudras and Dalits came to power on their own steam). The next (logical) step for many of these Brahmins was to move out from Sharat Bose Avenue (Kolkata), Ramakrishna Puram (Delhi) and Matunga (Mumbai) to the green(er) pastures of the West where (apparently) meritocracy still prevailed in California, enshrined via the equally (in)famous Proposition 209. Asians of many stripes (driven to excel by the Tiger Mother syndrome) managed to take advantage of race-neutral admission policies and savoured the model minority badge from the white majority (who used the MM stick to beat up the blacks/latinos).

However democracy has now managed to catch up with the super-castes in California as well. The game changer (as KR reports below) is that whites who resented preferences for blacks in the 1990s are now resentful of asians (mostly Chinese but I would imagine also Koreans and Indians) for the sin of grabbing too many university seats. The dreaded specter of quota being (sort of) tied to population percentages has been raised. Once that genie is out of the bottle it will not be possible to push it back. Even if the Asians manage to win a few battles they will surely lose the war (one problem is that Asians are not all equally doing well- Pacific Islanders and Laotians for example). The 10% will inevitably need to bow before the heft of the 90%. The logic of democracy is relentless (and it is how it should be). For the super-castes there will be now no more place on earth to run (and to hide). For folks like Karthick Ramakrishnan, the writing on the wall (and the desperate anguish reflected in his writing) is clear.

Is the debate on affirmative action versus race-blind policies mainly
about principle, or mostly about preserving narrow group interests? We
are beginning to find out in California.
A bill passed by the state
Senate and pending in the Assembly would put a constitutional amendment
on the ballot that would overturn portions of Proposition 209 to exempt
public college and university admissions from the ban on racial, ethnic
and gender preferences.

Interestingly, many of these fears are emanating not from
conservative white voters but from a few vocal Asian American
organizations. National advocacy groups such as the 80-20 Political
Action Committee, editorial writers in Chinese-language newspapers and
activists from Chinese-language schools have begun to bombard Assembly
members, urging them to vote against restoring affirmative action.
worry that Asian American students, who saw a sizable increase in UC
enrollment following 209’s ban on affirmative action in 1996, will see a
big drop in enrollment if affirmative action is restored.

Just as important, the focus on narrow group interests might also
change the opinions of white voters in California in surprising ways.When whites voted overwhelmingly against affirmative action in 1996,
the UC admission rates for whites and Asian Americans were roughly
equal, at 83% and 84%, respectively. Today, under the ban on affirmative
action, the admission rate for whites is 65%, compared with 73% for
Asian Americans.
These gaps may become relevant to the attitudes of white voters
confronted with a new choice on affirmative action. Experimental studies
of white voter opinion show that support for merit-based university
admissions drops significantly when respondents are provided information
about the high success rate of Asian Americans.
If the primary consideration in voters’ minds is the potential loss
or gain for their own racial group, we may indeed see a reversal in
voting patterns of whites and Asian Americans on affirmative action.
This is particularly true if group fears are based on the kinds of
erroneous or exaggerated claims we are already seeing.

For example, some ethnic media stories claim that affirmative action
would cap Asian American admissions to their share of the resident
Not only has this kind of quota been ruled unconstitutional
since 1978; such fears also ignore the fact that the Asian American
share of UC students was about three times their state population share
in 1995, when affirmative action was last in place.



The Muslims of Uttar Pradesh

may help determine who wins Election 2014. IMO the muslim vote will go for AAP in urban areas and BSP in rural ones. SP the current ruling party will be heavily penalized due to the Muzaffanagar riots. Thus Mayawati and Arvind Kejriwal will benefit from the muslim vote, even though NYT may have found isolated support for Modi. In Gujarat he has got plenty of muslim votes following logic #1 (see below)- If he looks like winning why waste your vote on someone else??

There is an old political saying in India that the way to Delhi goes
through Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.
From an American point of
view, Uttar Pradesh has it all: the electoral heft of a
California-Ohio-Michigan combination, the uncertainty of a Florida
recount, the political tricks of a South Carolina primary and the stark
community divisions of Mississippi.

Salim Shah was cooking egg and
chicken rolls on a dusty side street here when India’s most controversial
national politician flew to a nearby park in a red helicopter and addressed
hundreds of thousands of screaming supporters. Mr. Shah said that he and his
12-year-old son, who sliced boiled eggs by Mr. Shah’s side, were too busy to
attend the rally. But when asked how he intended to vote in what many observers
believe is the most consequential Indian election since 1977, Mr. Shah gave a
brief shrug. “I’m inclined to support Mr. Modi,” Mr. Shah said quietly. “It
looks like he’s going to win, and why waste your vote by voting for someone who
is not going to win?”

Disgust with the present government
and disappointment with the Gandhi political dynasty are so widespread that Mr.
Modi comes to the election with a huge advantage. But the scale of his success
depends in part on whether he can persuade Muslims like Mr. Shah to support his
candidacy, a difficult challenge. Muslims make up about 14 percent of the
country’s population, and they have been a crucial part of the support base of
the governing party, Indian National Congress, for years.

Mohammad Jaffar Ali, a 27-year-old stockbroker who
lives in a Muslim enclave in Lucknow, acknowledged hours after the rally that
Mr. Modi seemed to be a good leader. “But I think being a good human being is
far more important than being a good leader,”
Mr. Ali said. “I’m not voting for

A crowd soon gathered around Mr. Ali, a common
occurrence when politics are discussed here. Among the young men was Karim
Jafar, a 25-year-old medical product wholesaler and Muslim, who made a point of
saying that he was a “an Indian first and a Muslim second.”
Mr. Jafar said:
“I’m young. I don’t know much about the past, but I’m hopeful for a good future
and I think Mr. Modi could help bring that. No leader is perfect. I’m going to
vote for Modi and see.”

Mr. Modi’s call for a more business-friendly
government could also lure younger voters, many of whom are leaving school with
few job prospects. India’s economy must create more than 115 million additional
jobs over the next 10 years to accommodate the country’s youthful flood, a rate
of growth its economy is far from achieving.

Mohammad Shakeel, 44, said he remembered the past too well
to support Mr. Modi. Standing in front of about 70 caged chickens with fresh
chicken blood brightening his shop floor, Mr. Shakeel said that he voted in the
past for Congress, but this time would vote for a regional party. “There’s some
concern, even some fear, about what Mr. Modi will do to Muslims if he becomes
prime minister,” Mr. Shakeel said. “We don’t forget.”