Are We Planning to Fight Terrorists with Condemnation Statements & Resolutions?

Clip_3Fridays have become dreadful in Pakistan, as almost each Friday, some mosque is attacked. Despite this, the faithful continue to go to mosques, particularly on Fridays. However, the police is scared and runs away at the sight of the terrorists in most of the cases. The Army takes a back seat, mostly indulging in advisory role.

Isn’t it about time that the federal and provincial governments and the security and intelligence agencies pull their act together rather than passing the blame for these continuous massacres of Shias in the country, and show responsibility in fulfilling their obligation to protect people’s lives.

In the aftermath of these terrible attacks on the Shia mosques and many a times Christian places of worship, question needs to be asked if the killers of our people are to be brought to justice or stopped from striking again.

Wishing that the massacres should not happen, or adopting resolutions of condemnation is neither going to lessen the pain of victims’ families nor prevent further attacks by terrorists.

While provision of aircraft to move the critically injured to better medical facilities is important, in the larger scheme of things that is almost irrelevant. Better strategies and implementation must prevent attacks, not merely try and make transportation of the injured more efficient. The consistent failure to apprehend the perpetrators aggravates the grievance of the people. They expect the members of the government to be going after the perpetrators, rather than after one another.

The general public sentiment has vocally opposed all manifestations of terrorism and there has been a lot of support for action against terrorists operating under any garb. How that support is used now remains the question. The desired course would be to go after the perpetrators with the commitment that appears in rhetoric after every act of terror but does not seem to materilise in much more thereafter.

It is imperative that the people are informed about what became of the national action plan against terrorism and whether anybody is looking after implementation at all. The brutal killings are a failure for policing, intelligence and security forces in varying degrees. Political point scoring and trying to find scapegoats is not going to help in any way. Sharing the precise vision for dealing with this onslaught and a specific timeframe to implement that is urgently needed.

For How Long Will We Continue to Use English in Our Courts?

Clip_7After all when will Urdu be used in the High Courts of Pakistan? When will English be banished from them? It has been more than 67 years that Pakistan has gained independence but in our High Courts, the slavery of English is continuing till date. All our laws are drafted  in English. Why  nobody has attacked this slavery in our Parliament and High Courts?

The judges continue to give their judgments in grammatically poor English, with errors in almost every second sentences.

What could be more shameful for this country? But our judges and lawyers keep on putting up with this insult. They are clueless because they have studied the law in English and in Pakistan only that law is enforced which has been laid down by the British.

In the past 67 years although we have been framing the law in our Parliament, but that too in English. These laws are written in the same complicated style which was a Colonial one. Even those, who are proficient in English fail to understand it. Even the skilled judges and advocates get so bugged up that even simple cases get procrastinated for years. Most of time and energy of judges and lawyers squandered in unraveling the meanings of the English terms.

John Stuart Mill has very well said that the justice delayed is justice denied. These laws, and the arguments on them and the judgment passed there on become a matter of sorcery for a common man.

Why did we fight for independence? The way English has been imposed on us, even British could have continued to rule us. What did the people of Pakistan gain by giving it clear majority?

The political leadership is also handicapped with the use of English language and could hardly speak proper English and mostly read like school pupils written speeches in English.

All the countries of the world who are called superpowers, have their own language in their High Courts. Its only in some former slave countries like Pakistan that a foreign language has the monopoly.

As the education level rose in European countries, the prosperity increased, modernization got accelerated and  self esteem boosted, they shook off Greek and Latin and adopted their own language in totality.

In 1539, France said goodbye to Latin from its courts. In the 18th century, Germany shrugged off Latin.

English courts were so much slavish to German and French languages that if someone used English  in the courts, he had to pay the penalty to the tune of few pounds. But in 1362, English was declared as the official language of the British courts. Same way in the last 100 years, Russian in Russian courts and Chinese in Chinese courts is used. In the courts of many European countries, English is banned.

The high courts of these powerful countries do not use any  foreign language because it violates their human rights. The argument which is not comprehended by the litigant and the defendant is a travesty of justice. It is not justice but injustice. If only a handful of people can understand the judicial process, it is not justice but a conspiracy. It is against the tenets of the democracy. Why is the judicial process  so expensive in Pakistan? Why has it gone beyond the reach of a common man? Just because it is in a foreign language. It is used as a Jadu-Tona, a witchcraft, to fleece the common folk.

Infrastructural Halt in Pakistan

166465_186326464722422_100000352109141_512245_4029724_n_2The World Bank’s (WB) most recent Logistics Performance Index (LPI) has ranked Pakistan at number 72 for 2014, out of 160 surveyed countries, indicating an overall infrastructural halt the country is facing for the past few years. This is yet another proof that the country is gradually sinking.

Despite its ideal geographical location, Pakistan lost a rank in the LPI – the previous one in 2012 had ranked the country 71st.

India, after losing two points, is ranked 48th for the year 2014, whereas China also dropped two points to 28th, compared to 26th in 2012.

LPI ranks countries by analysing the efficiency of customs, border management and clearance, quality of trade and transport infrastructure. The index also examines the quality of logistics services, the ability to track and trace consignments and the frequency at which shipments reach consignees according to the schedule.

The performance index compares logistics profiles of 160 countries, rating them on a scale of 1 (worst) to 5 (best). The ratings are based on 6,000 individual country assessments by nearly 1,000 international freight forwarders, who rate the eight foreign countries their company serves most frequently.

Germany is the leading country in the 2014 LPI survey. It scored 4.12, with 100% performance, defeating the previous number one Singapore.

Pakistan and India have been placed in the group of partial performer countries, which include nations with the logistics constraints most often seen in low- and middle-income economies.

The LPI survey gave a 2.83 score to Pakistan with 58.5% performance and a 3.08 score to India with 66.6% performance and have been placed in the 10 lower middle-income performers.

China scored 3.53 and has been placed in the top 10 upper middle-income performers.

This is the fourth report which the WB’s International Trade Department has produced, publishing it once every two years since 2007.

The first LPI survey in 2007 had ranked Pakistan at number 68, which dropped to 110 in 2010. The sudden drop was mainly due to nationwide floods, which critically damaged the infrastructural network in the country.

In 2012, Pakistan rebounded to 71st position, and then dropped to number 72 in 2014.

Pakistan’s logistics mostly rely on the road network. According to WB statistics, 96% of the national freight traffic is carried on road networks.

This is mainly due to the failure of Pakistan Railways’ freight operations, which have recently been resumed after a halt of more than two years.

Freight journeys via road normally take twice as long as they would in Europe, mainly due to poor and unreliable infrastructure. This constrains Pakistan’s ability to integrate into the global supply chains, which require just-in-time delivery.

According to the WB, the poor performance of the sector is estimated to cost the economy 4-6% of national GDP every year.

Experts said that in coming years, Pakistan’s infrastructural situation is likely to improve primarily due to the proposed Lahore-Karachi Motorway and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which are on priority lists of the Nawaz Sharif government.

 

French Website Gleeden Encourages Married Women to Cheat on Their Husbands

ClipIn a country recently transfixed by the trial of a famous politician that revealed details of his orgy escapades, and where the President on his live-in partner, an ad promoting extramarital affairs might not seem like such a big deal.

But even in famously libertine France, the latest advertising campaign — evoking the temptations of Eve with a partly eaten apple — for a dating website geared to married women looking for affairs has spawned a backlash and a national debate.

The ads for the dating website Gleeden, which bills itself as “the premier site for extramarital affairs designed by women,” were recently splashed on the backs of buses in several French cities. Seven cities decided to withdraw the ads, and opponents have mobilized against them on social media, providing the latest example of a prominent cultural divide in France about the lines between public morality, private sexual conduct and the country’s vaunted freedom of expression.

The Catholic Family Associations filed a legal complaint against the site’s American publisher, Black Divine, in a Paris superior court. The Catholic group said the ad was crude and immoral and a reckless breach of an article in the civil code.

The article, written in 1804 during Napoleonic times and invoked during marriage ceremonies, stipulates that married couples must show each other respect, fidelity, help and assistance.

“I was shocked and disgusted when I saw the ad,” said a spokeswoman for the Catholic Family Associations. “Infidelity pollutes the couple and the family and destroys the social fabric of France. It is immoral to be publicly promoting adultery, and hurtful to infidelity’s victims.”

In conservative Versailles, site of the chateau of King Louis XIV, whose mistresses are described in 11 separate Wikipedia pages, the bus company Keolis said it withdrew the ad after receiving 500 complaints in a week. Normally, the company said, it might receive 900 such complaints over the course of a year.

In picturesque Rambouillet, the conservative mayor asked a bus company to remove the ad on the grounds that it breached the civil code and threatened the sanctity of marriage.

An anti-Gleeden petition that was circulated on social media garnered more than 20,000 signatures, while a #stopgleeden hashtag proliferated on Twitter.

The storm unleashed by the ads reflected a deep, though often overlooked, strain of social conservatism in France, underlined, for example, by the rise of the far-right National Front party, which in addition to railing against immigrants champions traditional family values in this nominally Roman Catholic nation.

Similarly, advocates of same-sex unions have been taken aback in recent years by the stronger-than-expected backlash against the legalization of same-sex marriage here, which prompted hundreds of thousands of protesters to take to the streets.

The conservative strain has provided the perfect foil for Gleeden and other extramarital websites that have sought to lure subscribers with controversial ads. Another Gleeden campaign on the Paris metro suggested that taking a lover was less expensive for the national health service than taking antidepressants.

A campaign by Ashley Madison, another extramarital website, featured President François Hollande and his three predecessors with smudged lipstick on their faces. “What do they have in common?” the ad asked. “They should have thought of ashleymadison.com.”

When the ads were introduced, several were removed by the police, the company said.

Gleeden, launched in 2009, has a million subscribers in France, and 2.4 million globally, who can anonymously trawl profiles for lovers.

A Gleeden spokeswoman, denounced censorship, arguing that the lawsuit against the site was bogus since adultery in France was decriminalized in 1975.

Moreover, she said the website, run by women for women, was a form of justice since Frenchwomen had suffered the indignity of cheating men for centuries while historically bearing the brunt of punishments for infidelity, including being shipped off to convents or prison. “In 2015, religious organizations, whether Catholic or otherwise, cannot dictate morality to the French,” she added.

In an era of surveillance cameras, leaked emails and heavily publicized presidential affairs, sociologists said the desire by would-be cheaters to avoid getting caught by an irate spouse was helping to drive traffic toward extramarital dating websites, where the risk of detection was less perilous than seducing a neighbor.

The costs of infidelity were underlined here recently after the trial in February of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the IMF, whose penchant for sex parties helped destroy both his political career and his marriage.

President Hollande was targeted by the news media after he was discovered in 2014 sneaking out of the Élysée Palace on his motorbike to meet his mistress, a French actress.

His scorned former girlfriend, Valérie Trierweiler, responded with a damaging tell-all book exposing how the affair had pushed her to binge on sleeping pills. It became a best seller and may soon be turned into a film to coincide with the 2017 presidential elections.

“A president can be a good president and a bad husband, and the French will not mix the two,” said a professor of sociology and the author of “The Four Faces of Infidelity in France.” She argued that in France, today’s generation of postfeminist, independent women were far less tolerant of infidelity than their mothers or grandmothers. While there were 30,000 divorces in 1960, she noted, there were 125,000 in 2012. She also noted that if women were turning out in greater numbers on extramarital websites like Gleeden, it was because at least some were spying on their husbands.

Pakistan is Failing & Collapsing

by Mohammad Ashraf Chaudhry

Before a Nation Dreams, it Must be able to Sleep First Safely

“During the final century of the Roman Empire, it was common for emperors to deny that their civilization was in decline. Only with the perspective of history can we see that the emperors were wrong, that the empire was failing, and that the Roman people were unwilling or unable to change their way of life before it was too late.” Morris Berman in his book, “Why America Failed”

PakistanNapoleon still could not bring himself to admit that he (rather than ’factions’) was responsible for his downfall.  OnceThemistocles led ancient Athens to victory over Persia, but later he was exiled, and had to find refuge with his former enemies. As if this reference could undo his defeat at Waterloo, Napoleon wrote a famous letter to the Prince Regent, citing the example of Themistocles, “I have ended my political career; and I come, as Themistocles did, to seat myself by the hearth of the British people. I put myself under the protection of its laws…”dated 13 July, 1815. The British like all victors were unimpressed by such a stock-phrase. They sent this “great general”, not to the ambers of a cozy hearth for warming his cold hands and feet, but to St. Helena. Lesson.

Grow, transform, rectify and learn, or be prepared for licking the dust and extinction. This is the law of God; this is the law of nature, and this is the law of history.

Why would Pakistan, its people, and especially its leadership be an exception, when change for them is a blasphemy! Our leadership in Pakistan is like that patient who feels terribly dizzy, but rather than admitting his condition before a doctor, keeps pretending, “Dizziness! No, not really”. How can the problem of political dizziness be addressed then in Pakistan, when every political leader regards himself an Anoki, the wrestler.

It is a fallacy to believe that Muslims or any other nation, are indispensable for God. When nations adopt the ways that result in “corrupting the earth”; or when people as a whole deliberately begin to compromise in matters of human rights, justice and fair-play, and begin to lie with any moral compunctions, and stay adamant by refusing to “revive conscience”, or refuse to follow the process of self-analysis and self-correction, then God just seals the fate of such nations.

“(Look out), the example of those (Messengers) we sent before you (O Muhammad) and you will find no change in our law”. 17:77

Most of the countries in the Middle East were economically doing better than Pakistan when the revolution started there. Egypt had a good robust economy; Tunisia was still a tourist resort and had been called the, “Switzerland of Africa”; Kaddafi could have been a mad man, but he was still holding the different tribes together. Yet people rose against their rulers, why?

Countries often do not fall like a thud or a dynamited structure; often they fall in slow motion. And Pakistan is one of them. The thunderous fall of Afghanistan and Somalia and Sudan fell soft on Pakistani ears. Its elite and privileged class; and its unchanging dynasties of rulers in the last 40 years, who had developed a craving for insatiable hunger for applaud, approval and power, didn’t feel any urge to listen and learn and then change and grow.

They took Afghanistan’s fall with a smile. The factors that had destroyed Afghanistan were re-classified as valuable assets for Pakistan’s regional security. The realities of life remained elusive. The clueless leaders kept asking the People to dream, to think big. But how could they do so when they were not even able to sleep safely. Hunger, lack of safety, chronic ailments, malnutrition, and humiliations haunted them like nightmares, and the leaders yet kept asking them, “dream, fools dream”.

Carol S.  Dweck, a great psychologist in her book, “Mindset”, writes, “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”Carol Dweck perhaps did not know that their lives specie of human beings in our part of the world that honors only the reward and not the effort.

Remember the rubber-band law. It grows when it is stretched. Our leadership in Pakistan had always been nothing more than a piece of useless string that would neither stretch nor hold people together. It would snap at every stretch, but would re-emerge with a new knot.

The tragedy visiting people relating to leadership did not end here; it got compounded when they themselves fell in love with this knotty and dysfunctional string of leadership and began taking it as their fait accompli. Feeding an addiction had never been so spectacular a habit as it became in Pakistan.

Bloomberg carried an article titled, “Mexico Needs More Good Cops”. Economic reform is one thing, but ordinary citizens have to feel safe first is another.  The epochal economic reforms introduced by the Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto could not keep his popularity intact for long. The overwhelming number of Mexican citizens have taken to the streets, which shows that his government has failed to provide safety and protection to them. The  disappearance of 43 students on September 26, kidnapped in Iguala, the third-biggest city in Guerrero, one of Mexico’s poorest and most violent states, proved the last straw on popularity camel of Mr. Pena Nieto.

In Pakistan killing of people and even of army men in groups is much too common a sight. A few hollow statements of sympathy, a few reactionary steps, and then the business as usual.

One thing is amazingly common in Pakistan and Mexico, and that is corruption in the police. Ninety percent Mexicans said they had little or no confidence in their local police, and 75% said the same about the federal police. What would people say about police in Pakistan?

The five year “golden rule” of the PPP, and now the two- year clumsy hotchpotch governance of the PML (N), did not even take the first step in reforming the police on modern, honest and efficient lines. Police in all the four provinces have become the private militia of the political parties or of the mafia like it happened in Mexico.

The police in Mexico are not paid as low as they are in Pakistan. They, however, get compensated through illegal ways. The police were paid $460 a month by the city in Mexico, and $770 a month by their gang bosses. In a crime-ridden Chihuahua state, for instance, 98% of a 12,000-person force was found on the muster role of the mafia. The concrete steps taken by Mr. Enrique Pena Nieto in the field of economics, and in liberating the energy laws, just failed to defend him within two years of his rule because he had failed to provide good cops to the country. Similarly, in Pakistan, all the Metro and Mega projects appear meaningless, rather a wastage of time and of borrowed money, if the people of Pakistan remain unsafe everywhere-in their homes as well as in their work places. No nation can dream of creativity and betterment, if its lives are under constant fear all the time.

“When Warren Bennis interviewed great leaders, “They all agreed leaders are made, not born, and made more by themselves than by any external means…I believe… that everyone, of whatever age and circumstances, is capable of self-transformation.” Carol S. Dweck in “Mindset”

Corruption is a social cocoon in developing countries. Alexander Lebedev and Vladislav Inozemtsev state that corruption “wreaks havoc on the societies of developing countries, fuels social unrest and violence, and increasingly undermines the stability of the West.” This last part of the statement is meaningful.

Developing countries like Pakistan and India confuse corruption with bribery. While the former is like a huge corporation, the latter is a mere corner grocery shop in comparison. Bribery is a local phenomenon, a low-level problem, neither systemic nor organized.

Those petty local officials who indulge in it, “do not act within organized networks and wield little influence  over broader  societal institutions” say Lebedev and Vladislav; corruption, on the other hand, is labeled as “high-level systematic phenomenon and is vastly more destructive.” Those who indulge in it are often the rulers, who “not only abuse rules but set themselves.” Pakistan could not bridle bribery, a local disease, how could it handle corruption which became a second nature of its rulers. It is corruption and its compulsions, (not the spirit of service), that keeps the former and present rulers in the saddle of power. Power and corruption supplement each other; the one keeps the other alive.

Corruption inflicts double damage on societies. “It continuously erodes already weak governance as corrupt officials manipulate the legal system in favor of themselves and other elites. On the other hand, it drains away critical resources needed for economic development.”

The only way to overcome this endemic curse is to hit it hard. The good thing is that the West also begun feeling its pinch. A global action is being contemplated against these corrupt rulers; a universal anticorruption convention is being envisaged. Soon, it is hoped, it is the looted money of these rulers which shall become a Midas touch for them. They will get petrified by their own avarice.

In the 19th century corruption flourished in the West in all the major countries, including the United States. It took them a century to curb it. Now its epicenter has shifted to the developing economies, where high social inequality and weak governance fuel the ruling elites’ desire to enrich themselves at any cost.

Why is the West now getting so sensitive to an issue that had been a rallying cry of the victim people of the developing economies? After all, it was the West that let these high-robbers deposit their loot in their coffers; it let them open off-shore firms, and resolve any business disputes in London and New York courts.

In the past forty years, a whole new brand and crop of asset managers, bankers, lawyers and realtors has emerged in the West, “dedicated to laundering dirty foreign money and lobbying for laws that make its activities harder to prosecute”. If the developing countries remained victims of bad governance, and stayed vulnerable to sundry crisis, it happened so because the West let that happen.

Now it appears, the matter of the corruption of the foreign rulers, and of their family members, is beginning to over-spill. It is creating social conflicts; it is becoming instrumental in directing hatred towards the West. The corruption of Hosni Mubarak, Suharto, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire amounted to some $5 billion alone. A former senior official of China, Zhou Yongkang, had amassed money to the tune of $14.5 billion. In Russia the proceeds of corruption touched to the amount of $300 billion; India emerged as number one in black money, garnered and deposited abroad, and so is Pakistan. The G20 countries in their Summit endorsed India’s stance espoused by Modi on Black Money. The need for disclosure and transparency by sharing tax information according to the Global standards has been agreed upon. This would make it easy for the victim countries to getting information about the un-accounted for money boarded abroad, and enabling the developing countries to get it expatriated. This money accounts for 85% of the world’s GDP.

India has taken some bold steps unlike Pakistan. Its slogan has shifted from, “Look East” to “Act East”; and its leader’s faith in the poor people is a positive step. Already some 7.1 crore accounts have been opened by the poor, that brought in 5,000 crore to the banks who had always remained skeptical about the poor’ people’s honesty.

What has Mian Nawaz Sharif done in concrete terms so far? Not even 10% of what the Mexican President had done. One foreign tour after another, often undertaken by both the brothers. The country’s leadership could not agree on a person who could lead the election commission, though all cry foul in elections, including Mr. Imran Khan. Why? They want their undue share in the cookies that elections bring. There is an element of dishonesty and insincerity lurking behind this delay. Same is true of the local body elections. The country sacrificed over 60,000 innocent lives in terrorism, and yet it could not establish a robust, bold,a no-non-sense Anti- Terrorist Court. Neither its leadership, nor its courts can dare to condemn the terrorists openly. They can subject the people to torture. Jamiat Islami leader tells the people to choose between Makkah or America? Who allows them to hold such comparisons?

Some 126 billion rupees, approximately one fourth (22%) of the country’s annual budget is spent on holding rituals of Sufi, Barelvi and Shia Muslims. Some 70 billion rupees annually is spent on taking out processions, and making arrangement on the Taraweeh during Ramadan. Just for the management of the Muharram processions for ten days, the police often have to ask for 200 million rupees.

If the leaders get invoiced for the blockage of business; of streets, and for the employment of police, of the loss of life and property, etc., the meetings would stop overnight. The sickening cliché that it is the democratic right of a person to hold public meeting, to protest on the streets; it is also the demand of the democracy that such a loony has no right to cause any loss to business, to peoples safety, nor has he any right to perturb the civic life.  Making people and leaders responsible for their actions is a part of good governance in any democratic system.

“Why Nations Fail”, is an eye-opening book. Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, highlight the causes that guarantee the failure of a nation if it fails to address them immediately.  Most countries fall apart, not with a bang, but with a whimper. Often they meet a slow process of death, and they die inch by inch, moment by moment. Wars, no doubt, weaken them; violence gnaws at them slowly; draughts starve them; corruption makes them hollow and chaotic; loans make them servile and dependent; floods worsen their living conditions, but they still keep on floating. They sink only and get destroyed only when they “fail to take advantage of their society’s huge potential for growth, condemning their citizens to a lifetime of poverty”.

“God’s biggest gift to us is our Potential; and our gift to God is its growth”. This type of slow and grinding failure has left many sub-Saharan African, Asian and Latin American countries fail. Pakistan unfortunately is undergoing this kind of slow, grinding and gradual failure.

Where people remain subjected to exploitative and “Extractive” economic institutions and to a  political leadership that discourages and destroys incentives, and  innovation, and that fails to adjust and change itself as per the new demands of the age; and compromises on justice and equal opportunity to all; such people get marked for total destruction. Dictatorial democracies; family/dynasty rule; elitism and cronyism constitute such governments. Countries fail when institutions become dysfunctional. Good effective government has no substitute; economic reforms without   good politics are meaningless.

North Korea remained poor while South Korea prospered just because of people’s deprivation of property rights, and lack of participation in the government. Uzbekistan remained poor due to forced labor. Slavery and serfdom got replaced by forced labor.

From Ancient Rome to the U S South, one cause that has kept these areas and places technologically less developed was the practice of forced labor. Millions in Pakistan and India are bonded laborers, and are victims of forced labor even in the 21st century. The Uzbek society has been the biggest loser due to its 2.7 million children and teachers during the cotton season who, instead of leaning knowledge, are sent to the cotton fields to pick cotton. Main beneficiaries of the cotton remain the President Islam Karimov and his cronies. South Africa remained a titled playing field even after its independence, because its rulers introduced a “caste system for jobs”. Native people remained marked good for mining and digging and ploughing only; the rulers stayed good for managing, and for the skilled jobs. Egypt and Pakistan remained in the grip of greedy and selfish elites. All sugar mills; cement factories and chemical and fertilizer plants belong to the current or former ruling class of politicians. Banks and foreign loans, all work for this elite class. They being rulers protect the system and watch over their interest. Sometimes, even the good intentions produce unintended consequences. Military created its own foundations, and joined the rat-race of exploitation.

Somalia and Columbia became stateless states just due to lack of law and order. Pakistan is fast toeing the foot-steps of Somalia. An effective centralized State whose power is felt by those who violate its laws is so utterly essential that there can be hoped no order and stability  in a country where it is absent. Basic public good; effective system of laws; mechanisms for resolving disputes and dispensing justice, all become meaningless  if the Central government loses its teeth.

The biggest tragedy in Pakistan like that of the above mentioned countries is that they begin to take failure as a work of their fate. Experiments show that even animals after repeated failures just give up making any efforts.

Such failures, like the one Pakistan is facing is by design; it is an engineered one. There is a method in it. It is a well-calculated, and well calibrated. It cannot be uprooted by the hollow, meaningless harangues. New leadership is not in sight. The country is not short of good people.

The Stinking Indian Air

Delhi’s air may not be good for the lungs of its inhabitants and forces them to stay indoors. Delhi’s particulate matter (PM 2.5) – the most serious health risk factor – in December 2014 was around 260 while the safe limit is 60 according to CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board).

How important clean air is is demonstrated by the fact that the United States embassy in Delhi does not rely on Indian government’s data but monitors Delhi’s air pollution with its own equipment. For the Indian government, suddenly air pollution has become a serious issue since pollution cannot be confined to the common people’s areas and will inevitably travel to and even linger in the lush Lutyens’ Delhi where our politicians live.

Pollution as an issue sometimes does not fly, but when important people are involved, it does. Do we really have the time to waste on controversies like what ancient India did or did not achieve by way of scientific discoveries? This is when there is the huge unfinished agenda to use the best of science to tackle current challenges and crises.

At the recently concluded annual ritual of the Indian Science Congress, the Union science and technology minister drew solace from the fact that ancient India had mathematical prowess—we gifted the Pythagoras theorem and algebra to the world. There is truth in this, no doubt. But this is about the past. At best, it tells us to be proud of our legacy. But what does it tell us about what needs to be done to innovate for our needs?

There is no doubt that Indian science is losing ground; every indicator shows this. The ranking of our top scientific educational institutions is consistently falling and our achievements are fewer by the day. Indian scientists are nowhere to be seen in the world. This is when our modern world requires science to be integrated into every aspect of daily life.

Clip_58This is also the problem I have with the current controversy about Vedic science—whether we flew aircraft or mastered plastic surgery is immaterial for modern India. What matters is ancient Indians understood the science and art of settlement planning, architecture and governance of natural resources. This is the history we need to learn because it tells us what we must do right. These are the real symbols of ancient India’s scientific prowess.

Traditionally, Indians built highly sophisticated water systems, which varied to suit different ecosystems, for harvesting every drop of water. Archaeological excavations near Allahabad have found evidence of early Indian hydraulic engineering. Dating back to the end of 1st century BC, the Sringaverapura tank is a remarkable system to take the floodwater of Ganga into a set of desilting chambers, including water weirs, to clean the water for drinking. It can be a matter of belief that Lord Ram drank water from this tank. But it is a fact that the technological system is so evolved that it would put to shame all public works engineers of today’s India.

Dholavira, a settlement off the coast of Gujarat, dates back to the Indus Valley civilization. Archaeologists have found this desert city had built lakes to collect monsoon runoff, bunds and inlet channels to divert water, and intricate drainage system for storm water, drinking water and waste. Today, we cannot even build city roads that do not get flooded each monsoon, or protect lakes for storing rainwater.

Till the time the British came to India, the water traditions were in vogue. British gazettes speak of these systems, at times with awe, calling us a hydraulic society. Sir William Willocks, a British irrigation engineer, who was called in 1920 to advise the administration on how to handle famines, said the best answer was to go back to the ingenious system of flood management of Bengal. This was never done, of course.

Ancient Indians also understood the art of water governance. Kautilya’s Arthasastra, written around 300 BC, has details of how tanks and canals are to be built and managed. The key was to clarify the enabling role of the state—the king—and the management role of local communities. The kings did not have armies of public works engineers; they provided fiscal incentives to communities and individuals who built water systems. The British changed all this, by vesting the resource with the state and creating large bureaucracies for management.

The British rulers also changed the tax system; collection of revenue became paramount, even during droughts. There was little then to invest in community assets. The decline came quickly and was cemented by polices of independent India. This is the history of resource management we need to learn.

But if we must be proud of our water heritage and relearn its art and science, then we must also reject its ills—the focus on rituals and the evils of the caste system. We are such a dirty nation today—look at the untreated sewage in our rivers and garbage on our streets—because we come from a society where waste is an “untouchable” business. As long as we can live with the idea of manual scavenging—somebody from a “lower” caste will carry our excreta away—we will never get a clean India.

If we must glorify the past, we must be proud of our present. This is what we need to learn. Quickly.

Highway in Japan Passes Thru a Building

JapanGate Tower Building is a 16-story office building in, Osaka, Japan.  And what makes it notable is the highway that passes through the 5th-7th floors of this building.

The Gate Tower Building is Japan’s first building to have a highway pass through it.  And it had been nicknamed “beehive” referring to its appearance as a “bustling place”.

The expressway is the tenant of these floors.  The elevator doesn’t stop on floor 5th-7th, floor 4 being followed by floor 8.  These floors consist of elevators, stairways, machinery and other stuff.

The highway passes through the building as a bridge, held up by supports next to the building, making no contact with the building itself. 

The building has a double core construction, with a circular cross section and special care is taken by providing surrounded structure to the highway to protect the building

It dates back to 1983, when the redevelopment of this area was decided upon, “building permits were refused because the highway was already being planned to be built over this land. The property rights’ holders refused to give up, and negotiated with the Hanshin Expressway Corporation for approximately five years to reach the current solution.”

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