Saturday, March 26, 2011

Baba Ramdev: Yogi or Commissar?

Ram Puniyani

March 25,2011

Baba Ramdev has been probably most successful of God men of recent times. He claims to have a following of over a billion people. There are an infinite number of people claiming that his yoga therapy and medicines work wonders for their health. Baba in a short span of time has built a multi million empire, his Trust is owning series of Ashrams, ayurvedic drug factories, yoga training centers and many such things, in India and abroad.

 Overall the medicines prescribed-marketed by him are selling like hot cakes. He himself adorns the divine status and his followers also regard him so, a saint, above the worldly matters. His saffron robes are a symbol of renunciation as such. All this is remarkable, good of both the Worlds, as he is not only wearing divine halo but is also presiding over the empire running into hundreds of crores of rupees built in last decade or so and now entering politics too.

In our country where currently rational thought and scientific thinking has been pushed to the back foot, the claims that his methods are scientific go unchallenged by and large. As per him he can cure Cancer, AIDS and what have you. He also states that homosexuality is a disease, something for which he has a yogic cure.

Earlier he had a spat with Brinda Karat, on the issue of contents of the medicines, powder of animal bones in the samples from his factories and on the issue of wages for the workers. Baba claiming to base his Yoga on scientific ground angrily dismissed the issues raised by Brinda Karat, and one does not know what happened to the wage issue of the workers of his factory. 
There are not many who can dare to raise legitimate question in the public domain about what is science? What is the method of science and whether mere reading and following of scriptures can be called as scientific? The issues related to the role of double blind trials, biochemical analysis, pharmaceutical composition and their side effects cannot be raised, as in doing so one can be easily labeled as anti Hindu-Anti religious deviant. The garb of Holy clothes is the best defense against all the legitimate questions. So what is projected to be working successfully can also be asserted to be a scientific practice.

One would expect that the tall claims like curing cancer and AIDS, need to be questioned as many may get misled and loose the precious time which a medical intervention can play in a positive way.

One concedes that there must be some benefits due to things practiced by Baba and the likes of him, but these need to be regulated and peer reviewed to avoid their misuse in the society at large.

Science is not a monopoly of anybody and peer review and evaluation is the best regulator for decisions about medications-practices for society. This is indispensable to avoid the harm, in short term or long term sense. Divinity should not be permitted to protect the real social issues involved.

Lately Baba has been in the news not for divine or yogic reasons, but for the profane issues related to corruption, and his forming a political party which will fight the elections. While the crusade against corruption is welcome as such, one observes that his sayings about corruption are restricted to one political party.

This is a partisan view, an attempt to hide the corrupt practices of other political parties and other actors involved in the issue of corruption. He is scathing against Congress on the issue of corruption and is silent about BJP’s corruption. He is vocal about something and quiet about the corruption of rich who are equal partners in this social evil. This may indicate that the saffron clothes are being used for the goals of helping the communal party and the rich.

As such corruption has more to do with unbridled power, absence of transparency and lack of social audit on the economic transactions and policies. To link it with few political actors is an attempt to hide those who give the bribes to get their work done.

A principled stand will also be to ensure that all the donations coming to the Ahsrams of Baba, and his types belong to the category of what is ‘accounted money’! Hope Baba has already taken care of this point before starting his campaign against corruption.

Generally the ‘divine’ people have to be standing for peace and harmony.

 One recalls that in the wake of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, Baba had exhorted Indian Government to attack Pakistan, and that he will fund the war against Pakistan. One shudders to think of war mongers and that too with those having divine claims leading our political affairs.

 The current times have been the one where the politics has been wearing the clothes of religious identity. Baba is going one step ahead. He is trying to ride on two horses, the one of spirituality-religion and the other of entrepreneur-politician, at the same time.

His association with those who have done politics by abusing religious identity, the communalists, is very clear. That may be the reason as to why he is creating hysteria around corruption by one political party rather than against corruption as a phenomenon related to our socio-political structure.
Courtesy-CommunALISM wATCH: 

Killing:Christian verses Christians-Muslims verses Muslims

If you are looking for accurate statistics on how many Muslims have been killed by Muslims versus, how many Christians have been killed Christians over last 100 years you will be disappointed, excluding the 100 year war of the Roses, and extending to Protestants/Catholic Christians killing Christians in Ireland i.e. IRA

There are questionable figures, where over 50 million predominantly Christian people died in world wars, Russian killed during the Russian revolution, and Stalin regime of over 20 million, 40 million Chinese died at the hands of Chinese during Chinese revolution, recently over a million predominantly Christians died in Rwanda, excluding Zimbabwe, and during apartheid South Africa and millions more Christians died/missing in Chile, Argentina etc.

It would be foolish to think the answers to human problems lies in the hands of few powerful nations with misplaced moral righteousness from time to time, There are a few in the west who feel they do not have to obey the laws even in a just state let alone an unjust society with anarchist tendency. Though it would be interesting to know how many Muslims have been killed by Muslims in last 100 years.


Islamic Relief launches emergency appeal for Japan

People are being urged to help Islamic Relief get much-needed aid to the people of Japan, as the country struggles in the aftermath of an earthquake, tsunami, and a growing nuclear crisis.

The full scale of the disaster is now starting to emerge, following a devastating tsunami which swept the north-east of Japan after a massive earthquake struck just off the coast. The tidal waters swept away homes, livelihoods and infrastructure, and a nuclear emergency has been declared with explosions at least one power station. More than 200,000 people have been evacuated from the area, and 300,000 people had to flee their homes across the country.

At least 16,000 people are thought to have died in disaster. It is expected that the confirmed numbers of fatalities and casualties will rise as the waters recede, with local police warning that the death-toll in the Miyagi prefecture alone could top 10,000.
Islamic Relief’s emergency teams are on standby to deploy to Japan and we're also preparing to channel aid through partner agencies on the ground. Please support our efforts to help the people of Japan: Donate to our emergency appeal today.

14 March 2011 

At least 75 dead in Burma quake: official

Hla Hla Htay
March 25, 2011


At least 75 people were killed when a strong earthquake struck Burma, officials said on Friday, with fears that the toll would rise as news filtered through from remote areas still cut off.
Tremors were felt as far away as Bangkok, almost 800 kilometres from the epicentre, in Hanoi and parts of China when the earthquake hit late on Thursday, which the US Geological Survey (USGS) measured at magnitude 6.8.
A Burmese official said 74 people were killed and 110 were injured in five areas close to the epicentre. More than 240 buildings had collapsed.
Advertisement: Story continues below
"We are trying to reach the remote areas," the official said.
"The military, police and local authorities are trying to find some people injured in those affected areas, but the roads are still closed."
Across the border, Thai authorities said a 52-year-old woman was killed in Mae Sai district after a wall in her house collapsed.
Terrified residents across the region fled their homes, tall buildings swayed, and hospitals and schools were evacuated.
In Rangoon, Chris Herink, Burmese country director for the charity World Vision, said there did not appear to be "catastrophic infrastructure damage" in the affected areas of Kengtung and Tachileik, although buildings were cracked and water supplies disrupted in some parts.
"Of real concern though are the more rural areas. There will be more, I am afraid to say, unhappy information coming throughout the day," he said.
"It is a hilly area near the border between Thailand and Laos, the so-called Golden Triangle. There is a lot of commerce that goes on in the area."
World Vision helps care for around 7000 children sponsored by overseas donors in the affected areas.
"We want to ensure that they and their families are safe, secure and accounted for and to offer assistance to them as a first priority, but also to help anyone in the area that has humanitarian needs," he said.
The quake struck 90 kilometres north of Chiang Rai and 235 kilometres north-northeast of Chiang Mai, Thailand's second city and a popular tourist destination.
Thailand's meteorological department on Friday said it had registered six large aftershocks following the initial quake.
Residents in Chiang Rai city raced from their homes again on Friday morning as a large tremor shook the ground.
Four pagodas in the historic town of Chiang Saen near the northern Thai border were damaged, including Chedi Luang, where its three-metre long pinnacle crashed to the ground.
The shaking was felt throughout China's southwestern province of Yunnan, according to state-run China National Radio, but no casualties or major structural damage had been reported as of Friday morning.
However, the earthquake reportedly caused cracks in some homes and schools in and around the rugged Xishuangbanna region that borders Burma, and fear of aftershocks forced many people in the area to spend the night outdoors.
Some residents of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi fled their homes when the quake shook the city.
Le Huy Minh, assistant director of the national Global Geophysics Institute in the capital, reported no victims or damage.
"There was big panic among the local residents," as high buildings shook for half a minute, said Nguyen Thai Son, of the institute's office in northwestern Dien Bien town, 350 kilometres from the epicentre.
But he added there were "neither victims nor material losses here".
Laos government spokesman Khenthong Nuanthasing said there had been no reports of casualties in his country from the earthquake.
"In Vientiane it was not strong," he said.
The quake comes two weeks after Japan was hit by a monster earthquake and tsunami that left about 27,000 people dead or missing and triggered a crisis at its Fukushima nuclear plant.
Burma and Japan sit on different tectonic plates, separated by the vast Eurasian plate.
No tsunami warning was issued after the Burma quake as US seismologists said it was too far inland to generate a devastating wave in the Indian Ocean.
The USGS initially recorded the quake as magnitude 7.0, but later revised it down to 6.8.
© 2011 AFP

Japan nuclear crisis 'could last months'

March 26, 2011 - 5:09AM


Three reactors at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant remain "precarious", a state that could last for "weeks or even months", France's Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) says.

It said on Friday it remains "greatly concerned" by the situation in the No 1, 2 and 3 reactor units, which have been hit by a series of blasts and fires since the plant was hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The IRSN said it was running through scenarios for potential impacts for the environment in the hypothesis that there had been a breach of the pressure vessel -- a steel container that encloses the reactor core -- in the No 3 unit.

Advertisement: Story continues below
On Thursday the agency noted there had been black smoke rising from the No 3 unit this week.

Among the theories to explain the cause of the smoke is a chemical reaction between a molten radioactive slag called corium and the concrete of the containment vessel that provides a protective shell for the pressure vessel, it said.

If the corium burns through the containment vessel's concrete floor or other protections, that boosts the risk that radioactivity can enter the environment through the soil.

A spokesman for the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), told AFP on Friday "it is possible" that the pressure vessel in the No 3 unit has been damaged. There were no further details.

"Radioactive substances have leaked to places far from the (No 3) reactor," a spokesman for the nuclear safety agency, Hideyuki Nishiyama, said.

"As far as the data show, we believe there is a certain level of containment ability but it's highly possible that the reactor is damaged."

Two workers at the plant were hospitalised on Thursday with radiation burns after stepping in highly radioactive water in the basement of the No 3 unit's turbine building.
© 2011 AFP

No end in sight for radioactive releases at Fukushima: IAEA

2011-03-26 02:40:00
Last Updated: 2011-03-26 02:59:22

Vienna: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it could offer no timeline on when Japanese engineers could stop radioactive leakage from the stricken Fukushima plant, even though the likely source of the emissions has been identified.

'We don't know how long there will be releases,' senior IAEA technical advisor Graham Andrew told reporters at the agency's seat in Vienna Friday.

In addition to suspected leaks of the vessel's shielding reactor cores at the plant's units 1 and 2, data also indicated a leak at reactor 3, IAEA officials said.

The IAEA's chief safety official, Denis Flory, said a number of steps would be necessary before engineers at Fukushima could start to assess whether there are, in fact, leaks before they could start to fix them.

First the reactor would have to be cooled and water would have to be injected to create an environment in which people could operate in the building and assess the damage.
'So we are not in this phase at all,' he said.

The radioactivity being released from the power plant that was hit by a earthquake and tsunami March 11 probably comes out of the reactors rather than from spent fuel ponds, the officials said, noting the composition of the radioactive isotopes.

Elections biggest source of corruption: CEC

2011-03-26 00:10:00
Last Updated: 2011-03-26 00:48:19

New Delhi: Noting that elections have become the biggest source of corruption, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi on Monday said the incidents of paid news were on the rise during polls.

"Election has become the biggest source of corruption in India today. The incidents of paid news in particular is on the rise in the country. A total of 86 cases of paid news have been brought to our notice and people have been pulled up for it," Quraishi said delivering a lecture in the capital.

While expressing his confidence in being able to "plug corruption," the CEC said, "Treatises between media houses and political outfits was disturbing."

"First it was surrogate advertising, now political parties and media houses have become even more daring by disguising election manifestos as editorials. This is not just unethical but disturbing but we are closely monitoring this," he said.
Quraishi also raised concerns about state-funding of elections, saying the process would " further fuel corruption."

"State-funding of elections is certain to further fuel corruption and my office is doing all that it can to stop this move," he said.

He also promised that those having "distortions" in their expenditure list during the upcoming Assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry will be pulled up.

"If at the end of the campaigning there is the slightest suggestion of the candidate having misused the money, we will look into the matter," he said. 

Opposition topples Canadian govt

2011-03-26 01:50:00
Last Updated: 2011-03-26 02:55:22

Toronto: Canadian government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on Friday defeated in a historic vote in Parliament, setting the stage for country's fourth election in seven years.

The opposition parties voted 156-145 in favour of a Liberal motion, citing Harper's minority Tories for contempt of Parliament and expressing non-confidence in the government.
The contempt charge marks a first for a national government anywhere in the Commonwealth.

Harper emerged from the House of Commons after the vote and announced he will visit the Governor General's residence on Saturday to dissolve the 40th Parliament and sound the starting gun on an election campaign.

It will be the fourth election in seven years. The election is expected to take place May 2.

PM‘s cricket diplomacy

UPDATED  25/3/2011 4:50:55 PM

 Vivek Shukla

New Delhi: In a cricket diplomacy, Prime  Minister DrManmohan Singh  has invited Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari and prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to watch nail biting India-Pakistan semi-final match at Mohali.  It is expected that either President or Prime minister of Pakistan will accept his invitation.

Meanwhile, The Pakistan team has today arrived here on their way to battle ground (read Mohali).They are equally excited to play the semi-final match against Pakistan. Pakistan coach Waqar Younis relishes the prospect of playing the last two matches in India to win the World Cup as his team continued its ruthless march in the tournament.

After India’s great show, life has crippled as almost everybody is talking about India’s chances in their next match. " I think Cricket lovers would not mind even if India beat pakistan in Semi-final and then loose in the final match," feels Cricket writer Ravi Chaturvedi.

“I would love to play India in India,” the fast bowling great said. “There is no bigger rivalry in the game than that. We have not played each other in our own country in recent years. “So it should be very exciting. The two are cricket-loving countries. "

Waqar said it did not matter whether they play the semi-final against India, or Australia whom they beat by four wickets in the league to end the defending champions’ unbeaten 34-match streak in the World Cup.

“I have no preference whom we play,” he said. “We have to concentrate on what we have to do. 
“All I know is that we are going to be playing in India. There will be a lot of pressure. Not only on us, but probably on the other side as well. Whoever holds their nerves better will come out on top.” 
Waqar was delighted at the emphatic win over the West Indies, and hoped more such games were to follow.

Meanwhile,star batsman Yuvraj Singh is now focussing on the semifinal clash against arch-rivals Pakistan, saying the much-anticipated game would be a battle of equals.

Yuvraj struck an unbeaten half century after claiming two wickets last night to collect his fourth man of the match trophy in the ongoing World Cup.
Looking ahead to the semifinal clash against Pakistan at Mohali on March 30, Yuvraj said it would be another dream game.

"The India-Pakistan game is going to be another dream game after India-Australia. It`s a great victory for India today. We would be playing our best cricket against Pakistan.

They know our game we know theirs both teams are equal. They have had a very good tournament and have beaten West Indies and Australia," Yuvraj told reporters here after India`s five-wicket win over the defending champions.

"We don`t want to think about the Pakistan game now. It has been a high-pressure game for us (against Australia) and lot of our system has been drained. We would like to relax for a couple of days and then make plans about Pakistan game," he added.

Yuvraj it was very difficult to keep his emotions in check in the high-octane quarterfinal match here.
"Over the last one year I have been dreaming of staying till the end and taking the team to victory against Australia in the World Cup and the moment has come. This is the moment I have lived for as a cricketer," he said.

He admitted that it was a tough situation with enormous pressure on him and any small mistake on his part could have thrown India out of the World Cup.

"It was very hard to control emotions. It was difficult to control oneself in such a situation as one mistake and you will be out of the World Cup. I tried to just watch the ball, play down the ground and not lift the ball in the air," said the left-handed batsman.

Yuvraj said he was playing in the tournament with the thought of someone special in his life, though he did not specify the person.
"I am playing for a very special person that comes in my mind and whenever things are not going well I think of that person and things work out," he remarked.

 There is no doubt that when India and Pakistan would play at Mohali,the capacity crowd at the stadium would be flying Indian tri-colour. And in the riot of Indian national flag, we would also see Pakistan flag as large number of Pakistani fans would be cheering for their side. It would be great atmosphere.