Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Social sectors were covered by women

Main Editorial Bloody Mary Sagarika Ghose HT Email Author June 09, 2009
The job has just begun Sagarika Ghose

In the early 1990s, when the economy was new but our mindsets were old, your humble columnist, then newly returned from Oxford was astounded at the old-fashioned world of Indian journalism. In those days, it was believed that the fate of the nation rested on the home ministry, defence ministry, ministry of external affairs and the finance ministry. These ministries were covered by senior male journalists, snarling patriarchs who guarded their domains with the fierce territoriality of lions. Rural development, education and health — which all over the world were seen as vital to a nation’s progress — were relegated firmly to second place. These ‘social sectors’ were covered by women, conscientious ladies who were repeatedly reminded that infant mortality, epidemics, primary education and affordable housing didn’t really matter as much as high diplomacy or heavy-duty weaponry. Sagarika Ghose is senior editor CNN-IBN.

Alok Sheel: Of economists and historians Business Standard - ‎Jun 12, 2009‎ 7:51 PM

As an erstwhile keen graduate student of history who stumbled into finance and economics as a professional hazard... I have learnt as much from economics as I have from history not only to understand the real world but also for formulating policy as a civil servant. Rather, this is a plea for rescuing the discipline of economics from the jaws of rocket scientists and mathematicians and handing it back to macro-economists, economic historians and political-economists. Social scientists need to reclaim the dismal science and spruce it up. There are after all other social sciences, such as psychology, that economics can turn to, to make it both more colourful and this-worldly, as George Akerlof, Robert Shiller and Richard Thaler have shown recently. The writer is a civil servant. Views are personal. Alok Sheel: Of economists and historians Business Standard - ‎Jun 12, 2009‎ 7:51 PM

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bronze hammer

Plato’s Myth of the Metals and Parallels with Racism in the Ante-Bellum South (and Beyond)
from Per Caritatem by Cynthia R. Nielsen
As Socrates unfolds his city-in-thought, the so-called perfectly just city of the Republic, he speaks of the need for the rulers to promulgate the notorious “noble lie” (414c).[1] The noble lie consists in two parts.

First, the citizens are told that their true parent is the earth, that is, the city or polis (414d). This part of the noble lie is designed to promote a kind of sold-out commitment to the polis-a loyalty willing to forsake even the closest (traditional) familial ties. When this aspect of the noble lie is embraced, the citizens view each other as brothers and sisters who are all connected to a common parent, the polis (”Father/Motherland” themes come to mind).

Second, the citizens are presented with the “myth of metals.” According to this myth, each citizen is born with one of three kinds of soul: gold, silver or bronze. As you might expect, the citizen’s worth and function in the city is determined by what kind of soul s/he possesses. The myth of metals is created promote strict class separation and is an attempt to eliminate factionalism. The gold-souled people are best-suited to rule, the silver-souled people (the warrior class) assist the rulers in their plans for the city, and the bronze-souled people are simply to obey. In addition, the classes must never intermarry, as those who “by nature” are superior cannot be tainted by a lower class. For the good of the polis, the bronze-souled people must come to recognize their natural inferiority to the silver and gold-souled classes and be willing to obey and carry out their orders-after all, they are intellectually inferior to gold-souled rulers and cannot properly direct their own lives without the guidance of their natural superiors.

Of course Plato is not giving us a blueprint for an actual city (contra Popper); however, Socrates’ “building plans” strike a similar chord with modern racist projects. (There are, no doubt, significant differences between the two projects; I’m not claiming that a one-to-one correspondence exists. Nonetheless, the commonalities are worth pondering). [...] Notes [1] On my interpretation, the city-in-thought is not a kind of blueprint for an actual city. Rather, by showing the impossibility of such a (totalitarian, calculation-oriented) city, Plato highlights the theme of eros (broadly construed as “love”, “desire”, “longing,” etc.) as that which constitutes human existence and which cannot be controlled or managed by mathematics, calculated reason, eugenics etc. In other words, all humans are lovers of something and these various loves, desires and longings are what drive us and direct our lives, actions and decisions.

(title unknown)from enowning by enowning
Matt Langer updates "hammering with a hammer" for today's workers.

Plato mysteriously included a cobbler in the originary population of the ideal city he outlines in the Republic—likely to symbolize a working class—while Heidegger derived a phenomenology from a hammer. Could Plato ever have imagined a software engineer instead of his cobbler, Heidegger a compiler in lieu of a hand tool?

Planomenology weighs in
June 11, 2009 Object-Oriented Philosophy

“Let’s be clear: object-oriented philosophy may champion the ontological equality of objects with human beings, but this equality comes at the price of the dehumanization of man, of his destitution and defacing, his reduction to (almost) nothing. And it seems that, rather than bear the horrors of confronting oneself – as a man, as a philosopher – in such a hideous state, object-oriented philosophy, as quickly as it grants liberty to objects, must imprison man: he must be punished before he can commit his crime of becoming a thing. Far from leveling the playing field, of granting the same rights to objects that we enjoy, object-oriented philosophy is rather more interested in an exchange of prisoners. This is evidenced in the reluctance, even refusal, to talk about human beings as embodied abysses, and the rapid condemnation of any philosopher who foolishly invokes man if not to ridicule and denounce him.” [Planomenology]

“Graham is at his best when, suspending the systematic sufficiency of a philosophy like Heidegger or Husserl, he pilfers and reassemble their concepts into new, monstrous configurations. But putting these monsters in the service of expressing the ‘True form of the real’ is horribly vain, and of course, makes him guilty of the same thing he used against his forbears. I don’t mean to single Graham out, because all philosophers are ‘guilty’ in this respect. Yet they need not feel guilty, they need not submit to the ‘higher law’ of non-philosophy. They need only suspend the sufficiency of the philosophical law to leave their guilt amongst the ruins of its kingdom. Realism that ceases to pretend that thought can adequately or sufficiently give us the real itself is a non-philosophical realism, a Real which we already are, in the flesh. This is the true problem: not how do we bypass being human, or bypass thinking, and get to the Real, but rather, how do we deal with the fact that we are the Real, everything is, and yet that the Real is not itself ever given? How do we deal with our non-reciprocal or unilateral identity with the Real?” Posted by doctorzamalek

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Now Slumdog country also gets awards

['Jai ho' set to be millionth English word Times of India - NEW DELHI: 'Jai ho', 'cuddies' and 'slumdog' are among the 73 other finalists from across the globe to become the millionth English word. ..."Slumdog Millionaire" terms compete to be millionth English word Xinhua Jai Ho!, Slumdog, Chaddies*: The 1000000th Word In English? Outlook Chaddie wants to be English Daily News & Analysis Indian Express - Calcutta Telegraph all 27 news articles » Slumdog `insult' upsets award-winning film-maker Bharati Dubey tnn Times of India - ‎Jun 4, 2009‎

Slumdog `insult' upsets award-winning film-maker
5 Jun 2009, 0218 hrs IST, Bharati Dubey, TNN MUMBAI: Does the West think of India as Slumdog rather than Millionaire? Indian director Sanjay Chauhan, whose film Lahore won the jury award for best feature film at the 42nd WorldFest International Film Festival in Houston, had a bitter experience at the awards function.

"When my name was announced, a producer of the film Bitter Sweet, who was sitting at the same table, remarked `Now Slumdog country also gets awards'. I was stunned but had to go on stage to collect my award,'' said Chauhan. Now back in India, Chauhan has still to come to terms with the insult.

"Slumdog Millionaire is only damaging our image in the West. People who have not seen the country only believe what's depicted in the movie-poverty and slums. I think the remark was not ignorance but an insult. They think we're a country full of garbage,'' he fumed. Chauhan said the British producer was not the only one who had that impression about India. "Some members from my crew who happened to be Americans felt the same way before they came to India,'' he said.

Jun 07, 2009 04:52 PM
A news report says that the word 'slumdog' is being ceremonially included in the English language. This is an insult to those millions of men, women, and children whose homes are situated within urban slums. In a creative medium like a film, the word can be pardoned, but to label a section of human beings as dogs is not the sign of a civilized society. Interestingly, the insult is not directed to the residents of the slums alone, the stigma also applies to ‘snobdogs’ who come there with begging bowls for their votes.

A civil society for which “inclusiveness” is the watch word, honouring the epithet ‘slumdog’ is in utter bad taste. The sooner it is given a ceremonial burial the better.

“Slumdog Millionaire” the Oscar winning movie has indeed paid great attribute to Indian society. But portraying a mass public as ‘Dogs of Slum’ is an attack on the pious idea of humanity. The controversial word Slumdog which equates human being with animals is violative of fundamental rights as enumerated in constitution of India and Charter of United Nation which can’t be welcomed in countries like India where about one fourth of population lives in Slums.

Kartavyabodha an NGO, chaired by Mr.Shant Prakash emphatically treat the word as against the humanity, dignity of individual and the principle of natural justice. Thus, recognizing the word Slumdog by putting it in English dictionary as millionth word would be an attempt to kill humanity and must be omitted at earliest.
Shant Prakash
Ghaziabad, India

Shant Prakash: Protest against the movie " slumdog Millionaire - Shant Prakash. Member National Executive, Bhartiya Janta Party, Scheduled Caste ... Posted by Shant Prakash at 8:26 PM. Labels: protest against ' slumdog ...

Discrimination against women in the workplace, as well as the shorter life expectancy of men, should be tackled head-on

Tear up these exams or we're going to leave our boys behind
Bahram Bekhradnia: A new report shows that the academic gap between the sexes is growing and risks creating a generation of lost young men
Sunday, 07 June 2009
Boys don't perform as well as girls at school. That is well known. What is less well known is that this continues through university. There are some who think this doesn't matter. At a recent conference on the impact of feminism on higher education, one academic said that the poor performance of boys "is seen as a threat to masculinity. It is a moral panic". I don't agree. Article Continues

Research just published by the Higher Education Policy Institute confirms that on all measures of achievement the difference that begins in school continues into and through university. It's not good enough to dismiss concern as moral panic. We badly need to come to terms with the new realities. If we do not, then the consequences for those involved will be serious, but so too will the consequences for society.
Women have almost reached the government's 50% target for participating in higher education, while men have a long way to go (49.2% against 37.8%).
Some dismiss this as illusory because, they say, females tend to attend less prestigious institutions, or that they attend part time rather than full time and get less good degrees. This isn't true. The rates of participation at Oxford and Cambridge are the same. Also, more women than men enter the Russell Group (the self-selected group of research universities, most with medical schools) and other old universities, as well as attending new universities. There are more full-time women, as well as part-time, and both young and older women have higher participation rates than men.
There are differences in subject patterns, but again, in most subjects women outnumber men. There are some subjects where men are more numerous - for example in computer science, engineering and the physical sciences - but women outnumber men in popular, high-status subjects such as law and medicine. And the relatively poor performance of men occurs throughout society; it's true of middle-class as well as of working-class males and it occurs in all ethnic groups.

Once at university, women are more likely to obtain good degrees and men are more likely to drop out. If they do graduate, men are more likely to be unemployed and in non-graduate jobs, but if they are employed they are, on average, better paid. This last will no doubt be seized on by some to play down the general education disadvantage of males. That would be wrong; the reasons for the lower average salaries of women are complex. No doubt discrimination plays some part, but the subjects studied, the type of employment that women enter, for example the public rather than the private sector, and choices that reflect different values, account for most of the differences.
While the poorer performance of males is a phenomenon common around the world, and nobody has yet discovered the reason why, it appears to be exacerbated in England by the GCSE exam and the teaching that is associated with it. Boys' school performance began to lag behind girls' at around the same time as GCSEs were introduced. Though we need to be careful not to assume automatically, because of that, that there is a causal relationship, it is very difficult to avoid that conclusion.
There is a wealth of evidence that sheds light on this. Among this evidence is the fact that the Programme for International Pupil Assessment exam, administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to children in all of its member states, found that boys in England on average did better than girls in science by a wider margin than in any other country and did at least as well as girls in mathematics; yet a few months later, when the same children took the GCSE exams, girls outperformed boys in the same subjects. Why should that be? That is something that needs to be researched.
It could be because of the importance in GCSE of coursework or the discursive nature of the exam. Or it could be because the new skills that boys acquire through playing computer games are of no value in the GCSE exam. There appears to be something in the GCSE and the preparation for that exam that causes boys to do less well than girls. And that in turn blights their careers and the rest of their lives.

So, boys perform less well than girls at school and then at university. Does that matter? Of course it does. It matters in the same way that 30 years ago it mattered that fewer girls went to university than boys. Graduates, after all, tend to form the elites of society and, as women have come to dominate in higher education, we should expect these elites to change gender over time, too. That itself is no bad thing. What is intolerable is that significant numbers of young (and not so young) people are excluding themselves - or perhaps being excluded because of aspects of our school system - from joining these elites.
The term "moral panic", as used by the professor of education quoted above, is, in fact, regularly used by people wishing to dismiss concern about the poor performance of males in education. Others are dismissive in other ways - the underperformance of boys has, for example, been described as simply "an evolving realisation of the nuances of gender's effects", whatever that might mean. Others are worried that the concern that some express at the position of males is being used to whip up a "backlash against the women's movement".
Perhaps that is true of some, but those of us who celebrate the achievements of the women's movement, despair at the prospect of the emergence of a whole generation of dispossessed and disadvantaged men. We are deeply concerned at the implications for society of an army of under-educated and possibly alienated males. Society gains from a well-educated population, not only in terms of economic development, but in terms also of their better health, better integration into society and better child-rearing, to name but a few of the benefits identified by the Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning.
Graduates both inflict and suffer less domestic violence, they vote more and participate more in civil society. And society will suffer as a result of the under-education of increasing numbers of males. Just as we were concerned at the lower achievement of girls a generation ago, we should be concerned at the lower achievement of boys today.

That need not be at the expense of concern for other inequalities faced by both men and women. Discrimination against women in the workplace, as well as the shorter life expectancy of men, should be tackled head-on. They are not helped by the increasing disadvantage of another group in society. One disadvantage should not be taken to justify another. This is not a zero sum game. The suggestion, recorded in a report by the then Department for Education and Skills (but not stated as government policy) that "it could be argued that the widening gender gap does not matter ... if it helps ensure greater equality for women in the labour market" is intolerable, as intolerable as those of the academics who dismiss, even rejoice in, the poor performance of men in higher education. This is a problem that should concern us all. Bahram Bekhradnia is director of the Higher Education Policy Institute guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2009

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Cyclone tourism

Urban groups make pleasure trips on relief work pretext
Times of India - After the cyclone, the deluge. A sea of humanity some well-meaning and nearly all clueless has descended on the Sunderbans post-Aila, turning emergency relief work into a farcical show of generosity and spawning a disturbing culture of cyclone tourism.

Women's quota bill: Sharad Yadav threatens suicide
IBNLive.com - KILL BILL: Sharad Yadav threatens suicide in Parliament, but Speaker Meira Kumar choses to ignore. ibnlive.com is on mobile now. Read news, watch videos be a Citizen Journalist.

Sotomayor's 'wise Latina' comment a staple of her speeches
CNN - WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Judge Sonia Sotomayor has spoken for years about how her experiences as a Latina woman have influenced her public and private life.

Men 'out-performed at university'
BBC News - Telegraph.co.uk Female students are ahead of men in almost every measure of UK university achievement, according to a report from higher education researchers... The report looks more closely at this divide and addresses the suggestion that even though women are ahead in numbers, that men might still dominate in the most prestigious subjects and institutions... Mr Bekhradnia says that this could reflect differences in how boys now learn through play - with an increase in time spent on computer games and watching television, rather than physical play. GCSEs blamed for boys not going to university guardian.co.uk Tear up these exams or we're going to leave our boys behind U.TV

Whiteness and Morality: Pursuing Racial Justice Through Reparations and Sovereignty - By Jennifer Harvey pp. 49-50(2) Author: Hill, Jack A.

Gandhi and Jesus: The Saving Power of Nonviolence - By Terrance J. Rynne pp. 50-50(1)

Christian Origins - By Jonathan Knight pp. 52-52(1) Author: Bernas, Casimir

Jesus is Dead - By Robert M. Price pp. 54-55(2) Author: Bernas, Casimir

Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism - Edited by Geoffrey Cantor and Marc Swetlitz pp. 63-64(2) Author: Plevan, William

The Quest for Jewish Assimilation in Modern Social Science - By Amos Morris-Reich pp. 64-64(1) Author: Ury, Scott

Theology Without Words: Theology in the Deaf Community - By Wayne Morris pp. 42-42(1) Author: Klink, Aaron

Thou Who Art: The Concept of the Personality of God - By John A.T. Robinson pp. 45-45(1) Author: Nausner, Michael

Tayloring Reformed Epistemology: Charles Taylor, Alvin Plantinga, and the De Jure Challenge to Christian Belief - By Deane-Peter Baker pp. 32-32(1) Author: Boring, Wendy Petersen

What are They Saying about Fundamentalisms? - By Peter A. Huff pp. 69-69(1) Author: Bauder, Kevin T.

The Lives of SRI Aurobindo - By Paul Heehs pp. 71-71(1) Author: Gleig, Ann

The Bhagavadgita: Doctrines and Contexts - By Angelika Malinar pp. 72-73(2) Author: Fort, Andrew O.

Understanding Karma: In Light of Paul Ricoeur's Philosophical Anthropology and Hermeneutics - By Shrinivas Tilak pp. 73-73(1) Author: Sil, Narasingha P. Religious Studies Review Personalia 2009

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A forum that abjures street sloganeering for solemn sophistry

Rephrase that
The Indian Express: Wednesday, Jun 03, 2009 at 0208 hrs IST

There are places where being boring is a virtue. The court room is just such a place, where well-considered utterances, even if they make the bystander fall asleep, are preferable to the rousing rhetoric of the street. Which is why a Supreme Court judge’s recent comments that those convicted of burning brides are “animals” who should be “hanged for the crime” are so troubling. The sentiment behind those words will resonate with anyone committed to the basic principles of non-violence and gender equity. But proclaimed from a forum that abjures street sloganeering for solemn sophistry, the choice of words is unfortunate.

Linked as it is to the systemic discrimination against women that plagues our society, it can be nobody’s case that bride burning is anything but abhorrent. But that abhorrence cannot be vented through words that convey vigilante justice. Which is why this newspaper has argued against “encounter killings”: even when the target is known to have perpetrated gross crimes, the targetting must be through legal processes alone. The very purpose of the law — and the judges who intrepret it — is to provide that mediating prism to spare even the vilest from being treated as “animals”.

Bride burning apart, the court’s comments touch another raw nerve: the death penalty. “Death by hanging” is legal in India, but reserved for the “the rarest of rare cases”. Had the issue before the court been whether bride burning was a “rarest of rare” case that justified capital punishment, then arguments of this nature could have been inevitable. But the sole issue before the Supreme Court was whether to grant bail to someone convicted of bride burning. In this context, the court’s indelicate utterances were unfortunate.

These words come close on the heels of other judicial pronouncements, on the need for husbands to “obey” their wives and the link between beards and Talibanisation, pronouncements that make good copy but only detract from the solemn business of adjudication. Perhaps it’s time to bring back the boredom. After all, its not as if judges would dream of acting upon these rousing words — so often irrelevant, moreover, to the case at hand. So, why utter them?

Monday, June 01, 2009

She understood and laid bare a woman’s unconscious mind and desires without any claim to feminist posturing

State funeral for writer Kamala Suraiya THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Noted writer Kamala Suraiya who died in Pune on Sunday will be interred at the Palayam Juma Masjid here with State honours at 8 a.m. on June 2. The prayers will be led by Palayam Imam Moulavi Jamaluddeen Mankada. She ... An iconoclast who courted controversies She was one of the first poets from Kerala writing in English to be recognised internationally 'She dared to express what she felt strongly' Times of India - PUNE: Stalwarts of English and Malyalam literature on Sunday said that Kamla Surayya's (Kamla Das) contribution to literature was immense and duly ... 'She came to my annaprashan' Calcutta Telegraph - Kamala Das was a wonderful woman, very warm and sweet. Her mother Balamani Amma and my mother Radharani Debi were very good friends. ... Her words spoke Express Buzz - KOCHI: Kamala Das could write with depth the story of a poor old servant in Punnayurkulam or the sexual disposition of upper middle class women living near ... A loss to literature Express Buzz - Kamala Das was one of the leading bi-lingual writers who made strides in both English and her mother tongue Malayalam. The daughter of VM Nair, ... Remembering Kamala's humility Express Buzz - ... immense pains to answer queries and clear doubts during the translation which was published as 'Kamala Das Ki Shreshth Kahaniyan' by Jawahar Pustakalay. ... The dove departs Express Buzz - ... the rains and the blades of lightning that branched into extempore dimensions across wet skies much like Kamala Das lived her life. ... Insights into sexual bliss: Author tried to break free from shackles Times of India - THIRUVANANANTHAPURAM: It may be the end of the journey for Madhavikutty aka Kamala Das and, finally, Kamala Surayya, but the questions that her vast body of ... Woman who wrote of passion and created a stir Calcutta Telegraph - Kamala Suraiya, also known as Kamala Das and whose poems of love and longing opened a bold new chapter in women's writing in India, was a path-breaker.

Meira Kumar set to become Speaker Resigns from Council of Ministers; BJP supports her candidature Meira to become first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha Calcutta Telegraph Congress's Dalit women to tip scales against Mayawati 1 Jun 2009, 0250 hrs IST, BHASKAR ROY, TNN: A meticulous pattern emerges in the process of government making as Congress promotes Kumari Selja, Krishna Tirath and Meira Kumar as its new Dalit faces. Blog: Democracy? No, it's actually family rule

News Analysis ‘Identity politics’ back to forefront By Peter Baker Following the selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Washington has once again polarised along familiar lines.