Category: South Asia

A bit of good news – India and Wind Energy

But renewable energy, of which the vast majority is wind power, accounts for more than seven per cent of India’s installed generation capacity – a rate that compares favourably with much of the rest of the world. India is the world’s fourth largest wind-power market.”Wind power is growing tremendously. If you want a wind plant you’ll have to book a year in advance,” said Chandra Bhushan, associate director at the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.”There’s been years of progressive policies and recognition for a long time that India will face a shortage of fossil fuels.”

Gulfnews: Energy-hungry India slowly becomes wind superpower

Some numbers for comparison: The U.S has about 14,000 MW of installed capacity with 5,000 more on the way. This represents about 1.4% of the > 1 million MW of installed capacity. At least when it comes to one of the cheapest and cleanest forms of renewable energy, India is ahead of the US as far as its renewable energy portfolio goes!

Wind energy in the US has been stymied by objections over the aesthetics of wind turbines. But the American Wind Energy Association has this guide on mitigating buttfugliness issues, including such helpful hints as “do not advertise on your tower, or paint it flaming orange!”

Good stuff, makes this blogger happy.

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Terrorist Attacks in Uttar Pradesh

Terror struck Uttar Pradesh on Friday, when militants triggered near-simultaneous blasts in court premises in three cities across the state, killing at least 13 and injuring over 59 others.Six bombs — three in Varansi, two in Faizabad and one in Lucknow — went off within a span of 15 minutes in the crowded court complexes between 1310 hours and 1325 hours. Some of bombs are believed to have been planted on cycles.A little-known outfit, called Indian Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility. UN intelligence agencies said senior UP police officials have received an email in which the outfit has owned up to the attacks.

Delhi on high alert following UP serial blasts

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Musharraf and the Pakistani Army's Many Problems

Why has Musharraf failed so dramatically to stop the insurgency? One reason is that most of the public is hostile to government action against the extremists (and the rest offer tepid support at best). Most Pakistanis see the militants as America’s enemy, not their own. The Taliban is perceived as the only group standing up against the unwelcome American presence in the region. Some forgive the Taliban’s excesses because it is cloaked in the garb of religion. Pakistan, they reason, was created for Islam, and the Taliban is merely asking for Pakistan to be more Islamic. Even normally vocal, urban, educated Pakistanis — those whose values and lifestyles would make them eligible for decapitation if the Taliban were to succeed in taking the cities — are strangely silent. Why? Because they see Musharraf and the Pakistan army as unworthy of support, both for blocking the path to democracy and for secretly supporting the Taliban as a means of countering Indian influence in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s problems start at the top – Los Angeles Times

This is an excellent article on how the Pakistanis military’s long hold on power has created a situation where the Talibanization of Pakistan is tolerated even by the people who have a lot to lose from it. He has to step away and let Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto fight it out, but I don’t see it happening unless he loses control of the army.

While on the subject of Pakistan, this blog post by Samia Altaf summarizes the hollowness of Pakistan’s “democracy”. Bhutto and Sharif have, in their past incarnations, been about as corrupt and reliant on the army as Musharraf is. So, are they good alternatives to Musharraf? Not really.

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Two differing views on the Pakistani Army

Apparently, this blog is now all Pakistan all the time. But these two articles caught my eye this morning, the first one from a writing fellow in the U.S.

The Pakistani military, as is the case with most armed forces in the Muslim world, is the citadel of the country’s modernity, its most significant secular institution and protector not only of the modern nation state but the idea of the nation state itself.

The case for standing by Musharraf. – By Lee Smith – Slate Magazine

And this one from an ex-Pakistan army cadet and current reporter for the BBC Urdu service.

Within months there were other changes: evenings socializing to music and mocktails were replaced by Koran study sessions. Buses were provided for cadets who wanted to attend civilian religious congregations. Within months, our rather depressing but secular academy was turned into a zealous, thriving madrassa where missing your daily prayers was a crime far worse than missing the morning drill.It is this crop of military officers that now runs the country. General Musharraf heads this army, and is very reluctant to let go.

Pakistan’s General Anarchy – New York Times

Now who’s right, I wonder? The guy who’s from Pakistan and was actually in the army when it was transforming from a secular to a religious organization, or a writing fellow who despite an impressive Arab resume does not actually know any Urdu.

It’s Western “experts” like these that fuel this idea of Musharraf being some kind of secular bastion against anarchy in Pakistan. It’s under Zia ul-Haq and Musharraf that the Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan made greater inroads because the Pakistan intelligence service (ISI) and the army are full of people who support and propagate extremist agendas.

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Musharraf and the never ending dictatorship

Pakistani opposition leaders and activists have been detained in the wake of President Pervez Musharraf’s decision to declare emergency rule.The
acting head of the party of exiled former PM Nawaz Sharif was arrested, senior lawyers have been detained and the country’s chief justice sacked.PM Shaukat Aziz said that hundreds of people had been held, and the emergency would last “as long as is necessary”.Scheduled elections could be delayed for up to a year, he added.But no decision had been made over the date of any election, he added, insisting the government remained committed to the democratic process.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Musharraf targets key opponents

Apparently, lessons are never learned. Just like General Zia ul-Haq before him, Musharraf pays a lot of lip service to democracy while riding his military coat tails to a permanent dictatorship. Just like General Zia-ul-Haq before him, the world thinks that he’s the last bastion standing between Pakistan and an Islamic fundamentalist state. Just like Zia-ul-Haq before him, he pretends to hold elections, then subverts the results because of “emergency conditions” and “extenuating circumstances”.

It is rather sad and depressing, Zia ul-Haq was the first Pakistan “president” I knew, always ratcheting up war rhetoric against India. The Benazir Bhutto-Nawaz Sharif years seemed more like a soap opera between two rich and influential feuding Punjabi families than the brutal power struggle that continues to this day. And now, General Musharraf, who is depicted in Western media as the last man standing between the Taliban and Pakistan.

The point? Pakistan, with its independent press, well-established middle class, a quasi-independent judiciary and politically intelligent electorate deserves better. I am not sure that Musharraf would survive without the propping up he receives from the US. But the rug needs to be pulled from under him. Behind that sophisticated veneer (imagine, a third world leader who speaks English and can wear a suit!!!) lurks just another power hungry tinpot dictator.

Canada loves asbestos (in third world lungs)

In a normal world, when something is severely restricted in your country, you would not export it to another country under the pretense that used under certain, very restricted conditions, your product only causes a moderate increase in cancer.

While the federal government projects an image of being a helpful, international Boy Scout on issues ranging from peacekeeping to nuclear proliferation, Canada has a peculiar relationship to asbestos. Asbestos shame

But we don’t live in a normal world, because asbestos is exported from Canada to India where it is added to cement.

Tushar Joshi, a noted New Delhi occupational health expert, is flabbergasted over asbestos sales by a country of Canada’s stature. “As a developed country, you expect more civilized behaviour,” Dr. Joshi says. Canada’s activities are “beyond comprehension,” he adds, calling Ottawa’s promotion of asbestos “a black spot on a sparkling white dress.”

yes, well said. It is very mysterious that asbestos use in India went up in the 1980s just as evidence about its incredibly destructive effects on respiratory systems had curtailed use in most of the first world. Clearly, third world lungs are not as important as Canadian lungs.

Asbestos is one area where Canada lags even behind the US. And Canada’s environmental practices are going to come under increasing scrutiny as climate change unfreezes the great white North and exposes the resources underneath.

Canada, the world is watching.

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Tehelka Stings Hindu fundamentalists


Big news out of India in the last few days. Tehelka has posted plenty of video of what they say are the results of a six month operation investigating the Gujarat riots of 2002, in which an estimated 2000 people, mostly Muslims were killed. The state government led by Narendra Modi of the BJP looked the other way for the most part and was accused of inciting, even planning the violence.

These videos are hidden camera interviews with people in the VIshwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Bajrang Dal and various other Hindu fundamentalist and extremist groups that do they BJP’s dirty work. They tell the story that the government had more than a passive hand in the riots. Not that this was not obvious to anyone with even a little bit of familiarity with goings on in Gujarat, but it is good to have all this information catalogued on YouTube in all its gory detail.

Pass the Roti has more on this story…

White House edits CDC climate testimony – Yeah, again!


Turns out that the Emperor did not want anyone to know what the possible health effects of climate change were going to be.

White House edits CDC climate testimony – Yahoo! News:

It was eviscerated,’ said a CDC official, familiar with both versions, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the review process.

The official said that while it is customary for testimony to be changed in a White House review, these changes were particularly ‘heavy-handed,’ with the document cut from its original 14 pages to four. It was six pages as presented to the Senate committee.

So, is there any point in blogging about this story about the Emperor and his politburo wielding the censor pen on yet another government report? No, because like million other stories like the one above, nothing comes of it. Nobody loses anything, the press does not understand that this behavior is unprecedented and more representative of 1960s USSR than the so called leader of the free world. The people who read about it could not care less. This is small fry compared to the “enhanced interrogation techniques” (call it torture), “private military contractors” (call them mercenaries), “extraordinary rendition” (state sanctioned kidnapping, disappearing, whatever you call it), etc. This country has apparently been outraged to boredom. Where does the “editing” (censoring) of a government report even register on this list of outrages?

Seriously, the Democratic party has been the most undistinguished of opposition parties. Yes, they supposedly control the Senate and Congress, but they don’t. In this weird undemocratic and archaic presidential system, you can only succeed if you have 60% of the Senate, 67% of the Congress or the president on your side. So, functionally, the Democrats are still the opposition party and do not seem to understand that as the opposition party, they need to oppose, manufacture outrage (in this case, no manufacturing necessary), and keep yelling continuously. Some shrillness is indicated here. Yes, they have some power that comes from the majorities, but the power needs to be used. They have to keep sending bills that the president will veto, they have to keep subpoenaing the politburo members so they can refuse to testify, and they have to keep repeating that they’re outraged, I tell you, outraged!!

Oh well, I come from the famously fractious politics of India, so none of my rants are going to make sense. If you want outrage, here you go… Mind you, this is the member of the coalition that rules India exerting pressure on it’s ally, not even the real opposition who only yesterday called for the PM to resign because “a resurgent nation like India should not be led by a helpless and sad leader” – Ouch, take that!! All this over a nuclear deal with the US where India gained all kinds of concessions for essentially building a nuclear arsenal on the sly and against the wishes of the international community.

The democrats needs a master class on opposition politics from the BJP.

Picture Courtesy Ristocrats

Monkeys kill Delhi deputy mayor


This is seriously screwed up. I went to school (both undergrad and grad school) on a forested campus where an open dorm room window meant a thorough ransacking by monkeys, who for some reason really loved after-shave! They are aggressive little beasts, though (too much lead exposure on Delhi’s roads?). And apparently, they can cause human deaths.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Monkeys kill Delhi deputy mayor:

“The deputy mayor of the Indian capital Delhi died on Sunday after being attacked by a horde of wild monkeys.

SS Bajwa suffered serious head injuries when he fell from the first-floor terrace of his home on Saturday morning trying to fight off the monkeys.

Monkeys are (and have been) a public health menace in Delhi. Now, they’ve gone too far and claimed a politician’s life. Maybe this will be the wake up call for a round up effort.

Benazir survives midnight carnage


Benazir Bhutto survives, others weren’t quite so lucky.

Benazir survives midnight carnage: Twin blasts cast shadow over homecoming. At least 125 dead -DAWN – Top Stories; October 19, 2007

Over 125 participants of a procession led by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto upon her return to the country lost their lives on Thursday night after two powerful blasts rocked the slow-moving motorcade edging its way past the Karsaz bridge, on Sharea Faisal.

At least 100 people were injured in the explosions.

Former FIA chief Rahman Malik told a private television channel that the explosions clearly targated Ms Benazir’s specially-built vehicle. He added that many top PPP leaders were injured.

Well, it’s probably too early to say who’s responsible. Terrorists, the ISI, who knows… but blaming “Al Quaeda” at this point in time is clearly premature. There are many terrorist groups based in Pakistan, most of them with no AQ links… Benazir Bhutto pointed fingers at the supporters of long dead former president Zia ul Haq, which seems puzzling. I did not know he still had supporters, having been dead since 1988.

Of course, in the short term, this will only increase Ms. Bhutto’s popularity.