Month: October 2007

Harry Potter copyright update

Turns out that the Delhi High Court does not share Penguin’s expansive view of copyrights.

Organisers of the ‘Potter pandal’ in Salt Lake’s FD Block heaved a sigh of relief on Friday when Delhi High Court dismissed Penguin India’s complaint of copyright violation.

The puja committee is free to go ahead with the pandal, which resembles Hogwarts school, the setting for JK Rowling’s magical Harry Potter series.

Harry Potter and the idiocy of Copyrights

No, that is not the title of the next Harri Puttar. It’s how a slavishly devotional fan base that has spent millions of rupees buying your books, watching your movies, purchasing all your assorted paraphrenalia gets repaid. By getting sued when they pay homage to you.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Harry Potter and the Hindu gods

A community group in the Indian city of Calcutta says it has been sued by JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, for breach of copyright.

The group has been building a huge model based on Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as part of celebrations for a Hindu festival.

If you want to know all the ways in which copyrights have gone amok in this society of ours, just go read Dean Baker.

Global warming wins the Nobel peace price

Well, I guess if Gore had become president of the US, this would not have happened (among other things that would not have happened). On the other hand, the U.S would have conceivably taken a leadership role in the issue (if the senate and congress would have cooperated).

Gore and U.N. Panel Win Peace Prize – New York Times

Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Friday for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and lay the foundations for counteracting it.

”I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize,” Gore said. ”We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity.”

Gore’s film ”An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary on global warming, won an Academy Award this year and he had been widely expected to win the prize.

What does this do for climate change? Well, nothing! Unfortunately! Good for the IPCC, though. And, good for Gore. I thought at the beginning of 2007 that this was the year that worldwide perceptions about the threat of global warming would change, Gore’s movie and the IPCC report had a big hand in making that happen.

Obama, lapel pins and Patriotism

Compare and contrast.

It turns out that some journalists and some presidential candidates are uncomfortable and even upset about flags on lapels. Their comments are both disappointing and bizarre given the very serious issues facing this nation. But maybe their superior and supercilious views offer a window into what ails us as a society.

Lou Dobbs.

Women will be killed if they are found to move around without wearing burqa (veil) from the first day of Zilhaj

Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen

But surely, this country will yet again get the president it so richly deserves…

Oh, here’s what they’re making a fuss about.

Indian children work despite ban

When I mentioned India’s child labor ban last year, I had many obvious questions about the implementation. One year on, this BBC report highlights on findings by Save the Children that the ban has not had much effect.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Indian children work despite ban

A year after India banned children under 14 from working as domestic servants or in food stalls, millions continue to be employed, a study says.

The study released by Save the Children says these children are routinely subjected to different forms of abuse and a lot still needs of be done.

Many of the child workers are denied food, and are beaten up, burnt or sexually abused, the study says.

According to official estimates, India has more than 12 million child workers.

Of these, about 200,000 are estimated to be working as domestic servants and in teashops, restaurants, spas, hotels, resorts and other recreational centres – the areas from where they were banned last year.

Well, one can’t legislate away decades of a widespread and prevalent practice with one law. This law was always going to be a beginning, a marker that improving social and economic conditions will eventually catch up to (one hopes). So, color me as not surprised at all. The point is to label something as legally unacceptable, work towards making it socially unacceptable, then finally, unnecessary.

Pesticide Exposure and India's green revolution

Pesticide exposure in Punjab and Haryana is out of control. When I was growing up, the Green Revolution was idolized and idealized to degree that in hindsight seems a little excessive. But back then, this octupling of wheat and rice yields in Punjab and Haryana catalyzed the transformation of India from a country mired in famine and food shortages to one that occasionally runs out of room to store excess food. So, this story (courtesy of 3QD) caught my attention.

Green.view | Chemical generation | Economist.com:

IF INDIAN newspaper reports are to be believed, the children of Punjab are in the throes of a grey revolution. Even those as young as ten are sprouting tufts of white and grey hair. Some are going blind. In Punjabi villages, children and adults rare afflicted by uncommon cancers.

The reason is massive and unregulated use of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals in India’s most intensively farmed state. According to an environmental report by Punjab’s government, the modest-sized state accounts for 17% of India’s total pesticide use. The state’s water, people, animals, milk and agricultural produce are all poisoned with the stuff.

Ignorance is part of the problem. The report includes details of a survey suggesting that nearly one-third of Punjabi farmers were unaware that pesticides come with instructions for use. Half of the farmers ignored these instructions. Three-quarters put empty pesticide containers to domestic uses.

The article concludes by saying that the government is encouraging the use of techniques including organic farming, more crop rotation, etc, and how this is ironically “reversing” the green revolution. But two separate issues are getting mixed up here. The green revolution was not won on excessive use of fertilizers, monoculture, excessive water use, and so on. Instead, the development of new hybrid, high yielding varieties of rice and wheat kick started the revolution. The wholesale adoption of water and input intensive agricultural techniques came along for for the ride with the rest of the revolution.

Hopefully, the Punjab government will not stop at writing reports, but start grassroots education projects with the farmers to encourage sensible farming techniques that take the good parts of the green revolution and leave the bad parts out.