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Scholar David Shulman on the Gaza Bombings

July 13, 2014

The following is a report from the indefatigable Prof David Shulman, who teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Prof Shulman works on the history of religion in South India and poetry and poetics in Tamil, Telegu and Sanskrit. David Shulman writes as protests inside Israel increase, as do right-wing attacks on the protestors. This report has been circulated by Prof Louise Bethlehem of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Jews demonstrate in New York Against Bombings

Jews demonstrate in New York Against Bombings

July 12, 2014 Umm al-Ara’is, Susya, Bi’r al-‘Id, Ma’asara

Business as usual in the South Hebron hills. There’s a war on in Gaza, but that too is business as usual, the meaningless biannual ritual in which both sides gleefully smash one another before reverting to the status quo ante. The Israeli media are drowning us in words, a vast and raucous flood, and the government is putting out its familiar, mendacious statements; perhaps in recent days only Abu Mazen has spoken the truth. The only solution, he said, is a political one, and Netanyahu is no partner. Meanwhile, rockets are flying, the Air Force is bombing, children are dying, soldiers are doing what soldiers mostly do, that is, wait around, and in South Hebron the land-grab proceeds apace, as always. Nothing, it seems, can stop that.

But wait a minute, some things have changed. Since the horrible murder of three Israeli teenagers, followed by the equally abominable revenge killing of the Palestinian boy from Shuafat, Israel has witnessed a wave of racist hatred on a scale perhaps not known before. Part of it has to do with the near-infinite opportunities of the internet: tens of thousands of virulent hate messages sent by ordinary Israelis have clogged the major sites; thousands of them call openly for revenge. I remember a time somewhat like this one, in the summer and autumn of 1982, the days of the first Lebanon War; the nadir came when a hate-filled nationalist threw a grenade into a Peace Now demonstration, killing my student, Emil Grunzweig. Some of the internet sites these days have called for the execution of leftists. Perhaps most striking of all is the utter shamelessness of this wave. Probably people used to have these same feelings but were not so ready, or eager, to state them in public. Decades of demagoguery and xenophobic incitement by the right, including, famously, by Netanyahu himself, have had an effect. The sluices are open. Read more…

How Goldman Sachs Got it Wrong on Football, The World Cup and Economics: Tushar Dhara

July 13, 2014

Guest Post by TUSHAR DHARA

In May this year the investment banking powerhouse Goldman Sachs released a report that predicted Brazil would win the FIFA world cup. The prediction relied on statistical modelling and used tools like “Regression Analysis”, “Poisson Distribution”, “Stochastic model” and “Monte Carlo Simulation”. In other words, the methodology is incomprehensible to anyone except those with an advanced degree in Statistics or Econometrics. In hindsight, the prediction looks silly, given the 7-1 score line in the semi-final match between Germany and Brazil. However, the report is a perfect example of the failures of modern economics, particularly the financial voodoo economics pushed by the likes of Goldman Sachs.

When “The World Cup and Economics 2014” was released on May 27 it gained a lot of press publicity globally. The report predicted that Spain would reach the semi-final stage and lose to Argentina, which would lose to Brazil in the final. Goldman’s research division analyzed reams of data, including about 14,000 matches since 1960, national teams’ Elo rankings, average goals scored per team, home country and home continent advantage. To be sure, the report states that the predictions are just “probabilities” of teams advancing. Still the report states, “The most striking aspect of our model is how heavily it favours Brazil to win the World Cup”, and, “the extent of the Brazilian advantage in our model is nevertheless striking.” Read more…

नचैया,गवैया और पढ़वैया

July 13, 2014

‘कहीं रिहर्सल के लिए जगह दिला दो,’आफ़ताब ने कहा. हमारी मुलाकात लंबे अरसे बाद हो रही थी. मैं जानता था कि आफ़ताब इप्टा के साथ व्यस्त है. इधर कोई नाटक तैयार हो रहा है, यह खबर भी थी. लेकिन मालूम यह भी था कि इप्टा का अभ्यास पार्टी दफ़्तर  में चलता रहा है.कई महीने पहले अजय भवन की सबसे ऊपरी मंजिल पर नगीन तनवीर के साथ एक बातचीत में हिस्सा लेने भी गया था.इसलिए मैंने पूछा,‘अजय भवन तो है ही!’ ‘निकाल दिया,’ आफ़ताब ने मुस्कराते हुए कहा, ‘….. का कहना है कि पार्टी का दफ्तर राजनीति जैसे गंभीर काम के लिए है, नाच-गाने की प्रैक्टिस के लिए नहीं.’ ‘औरों ने क्या कहा?’मेरी जिज्ञासा अबोध बालक जैसी थी क्योंकि उत्तर मुझे भी पता था.बहुत शोर होता है, तरह-तरह के लड़के-लड़कियाँ आते हैं जो देखने में ही भरोसे लायक नहीं जान पड़ते.वे नाचते-गाते हैं, एक ही संवाद को बार-बार बोलते जाते हैं. इससे दसियों बरस से पार्टी दफतर में बने मार्क्सवाद के इत्मीनान के माहौल में खलल पड़ता है. दूसरे कॉमरेड ने थोड़ी तसल्ली देने को कहा कि अभी वहाँ पार्टी क्लास चल रहा है. हो सकता है, उसमें डिस्टर्बेंस के चलते ही मना किया हो. मालूम हुआ कि पार्टी क्लास के सामने इप्टा को वह नाटक पेश करना है जो अभी वह तैयार कर रही है.हफ़्तों तक जो विचारधारात्मक बौद्धिक श्रम वे करेंगे, उसके बाद उन्हें विश्राम देने के लिए और उनका मनोरंजन करने के लिए शायद इप्टा के नाटक का इंतजाम किया गया हो!

अक्सर राजनीतिक दल अपने सम्मेलनों के अंत में गीत-संगीत या नाटक का आयोजन चाहते हैं. उनकी समझ है कि मुख्य काम तो वे कर चुके ,अब आनंद या विनोद की बारी है. शुभा मुद्गल ने इसी प्रवृत्ति से खीजकर मुझसे कहा था कि जब तक उनके संगीत की राजनीति को ‘एक्टिविस्ट’नहीं समझेंगे,वे उनके बुलावे पर आना पसंद नहीं करेंगी. Read more…

The Memory of Fifty Seven Seconds: After Watching an Israeli Missile Strike in the Gaza Strip on Al-Jazeera

July 13, 2014

A short fragment of video, fifty seven seconds long, taken from behind a window in a building in the Gaza Strip which was aired last night on Al Jazeera television brought home (once again) the sheer horror of the Israeli Defence Forces’ (IDF) brutal, ongoing offensive against the people of Palestine with devastating clarity.

Read more…

The Crisis of Devendran’s Father Muthu P.

July 10, 2014

 

One question I have faced umpteen times in my career as a Malayali feminist academic is the following: what is peculiar about patriarchy in Kerala? I have offered many answers to non-Malayalis but it is time now, I feel, to offer one which is non-technical makes unique sense to Malayalis. Why? Because the most conspicuous thing in Kerala’s contemporary cultural scene is the insecurity of the Malayali patriarchal-male, now bulging out like the paunches gifted to us by our recent prosperity. Like a feminist colleague once commented, patriarchy in Kerala is so ubiquitous, it is almost like air, all over the place. But a whole new generation of Malayali women have, mostly unwittingly,have caused it to condense into threatening dark clouds of male insecurity. What if the monsoon has been playing truant over my fair land, from these ominous clouds we now receive the copious showers of misogyny. Read more…

Pearls of Wisdom of A RSS Leader – ‘Elections equivalent to Independence Struggle’

July 10, 2014

Suresh Soni, RSS’s point person with the BJP, who facilitated ‘anointment’ of fellow Pracharak as PM candidate last year and smoothly engineered the marginalisation of the senior Advani and proved his clout within the organisation, is in news these days albeit for wrong reasons.

News has come in that he along with his former supremo (the late) K S Sudarshan were also beneficiaries of the yet unfolding MPEB scam which has already claimed the head of a senior minister – another fellow Pracharak – in Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s cabinet. Laxmikant Sharma, the said minister, who earlier handled important portfolios like mining, culture, human resources had claimed at the time of his arrest that he has been made a sacrificial lamb and when time comes he would also ‘reveal the truth’. He allegedly facilitated appointment of Mihir, a personal assistant to the late Sudarshan, as a ‘Nap Taul Inspector’ at the behest of Suresh Soni. Read more…

Lobbying for a tax-free banana republic: Aditya Velivelli

July 10, 2014

Guest Post by ADITYA VELIVELLI

POST-BUDGET UPDATE ADDED AT THE END OF THE POST (JULY 12, 2014)

Consider that an individual bought a house in 1992, made a few modifications, added a garden etc. and rented it out for the next 15 years. This would have brought the individual a steady stream of income over that 15 year period.  In 2007, the individual decides to sell the house and it fetches a much larger sum than it was bought for (considering real estate prices went up quite a bit during 1992-2007). The income tax department sends a bill for 20% of the sale price. This is the long term capital gains tax and applies to both residents of India as well as non-residents.

Now consider this.

In 1992 the Hutchison Group of Hong Kong invested in the Indian mobile telecom industry through a joint venture later named Hutchison Essar Ltd or HEL. By 2006, Hutchison expanded its presence into 23 mobile telecom circles.

In 2007, the Hutchison Group’s 67% controlling interest in HEL was indirectly sold to Vodafone for an amount of USD 10.8 billion. This transaction occurred through Vodafone’s purchase of shares in a Cayman Islands (offshore) entity. It was a calculated attempt by Hutchison and Vodafone to avoid paying tax on capital gains. Read more…

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