Friday, September 14, 2007

let the simpletons be just that...simpletons

Yesterday DesiPundit linked to Anil's lament that “the Government of Goa is pushing the State in the direction of Las Vegas, the Casino ‘Capital’ of the world“. The post makes 3 arguments against the proposed project.
1. fishing community who oppose the Casinos on the river, fearful as much of the culture seeping offshore and laying waste the youth
2. the environmental damage that river dredging to accommodate Casino vessels will inflict on their livelihood.
3. tourism should merely limit itself to facilitating transportation and basic accommodation of visitors without either changing or altering the identity of the local populace or mortgaging their livelihood to commercial interests of a few
One would have taught that it was fairly obvious that any service offering from Hotel Leela would cater to the classes and not the masses but no...

Thankfully he later goes on to negate point one himself by stating that

There is growing opposition from the local populace to the dredging of the river Sal to accommodate a Casino vessel floated by Hotel Leela to cater to well-heeled tourists and attract more of the same.

Then comes the globe argument that can be used to stymie any modern project "environment". Is it not possible that while Dredging may impact the aquatic ecosystem but proper attention to mitigation and construction procedures may result in the beneficial effects of dredging outweighing the negative effects, the economic benefits in this case?

Finally the most hypocritical of all arguments...

content in the belief that like forgotten memories from long ago it will dwell in the recesses of time that has moved on, leaving untouched a piece of geography out of deference to the wishes of its inhabitants who, down the ages, sustained the land in as much as they drew sustenance from it, giving it character while deriving their own identity from it, that is until now.
that of protecting the identity of the locals, romanticizing of backwardness and encouraging them to remain the simpletons that they are unaware of the progress outside while we ourselves enjoy the fruits of modernization...

cant help noticing the similarities with this satirical piece from the onion

In The Know: Is Our Wealth Hurting Africa�s Feelings?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Will we never move forward???

The International Herald Tribune carried an article titled Why Indians fight modernization. It talks about the anachronistic socialist mindset behind the opposition to projects like Reliance's modern retail and the now stalled 123 nuclear agreement. In a form of explanation to this weird behavior the author has this to say
Many Indians - and not just in Marxist-ruled West Bengal - see entrepreneurs as the modern incarnations of the zamindars - landowners and rent collectors who exploited the peasantry in British times. Many regard multinational corporations as new versions of the British East India Company, which came to India to trade and stayed to rule. That situation leaves the state as the small man's only protector.
I believe that the cause lies else where. With the fall of the soviet union and the destruction of the communist block we saw leadership change all over the Eastern block...we also saw leadership change in China and countries like Britain and Germany where a new crop of young leaders like Jiang and Blair took over the reigns and then ushered in an era of reforms and progress.

However all this while India was caught in a partial time wrap where external factors forced us half heartedly into the path of Globalization and Modernization, while we were still stuck with the old guard at the top be it Vajpayee or Karat or Manmohan...It is this dichotomy of old leadership and new ideas that is holding us back...Will we have to wait for the current crop to die before we can move forward? This report makes me feel cynical.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

High Tech Warfare

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN recounts this absolutely hilarious anecdote while opining on more serious matters such as China, Iraq and America

Listening to him, my mind drifted back to Iraq, where I was two weeks ago and where I heard a U.S. officer in Baghdad tell this story:

His unit was on a patrol in a Sunni neighborhood when it got hit by an I.E.D. Fortunately, the bomb exploded too soon and no one was hurt. His men jumped out and followed the detonation wire, which led 1,500 feet into the neighborhood. A U.S. Black Hawk helicopter was in the area and alerted the U.S. soldiers that a man was fleeing the scene on a bicycle. The soldiers asked the Black Hawk for help, and it swooped down and used its rotor blades to blow the insurgent off his bicycle, with a giant “whoosh,” and the U.S. soldiers captured him.

That image of a $6 million high-tech U.S. helicopter with a highly trained pilot blowing an insurgent off his bicycle captures the absurdity of our situation in Iraq. The great Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi said it best: “Great powers should never get involved in the politics of small tribes.