Call it Rathodics, Rathodology, Rathod-gineering, or Rathodistry; chances are high that you will find lot of useless things on this blog. Nevertheless, I thank you for visiting my blogsite, and hope you spend sometime reading the blogs and commenting on them. Further, you can visit me at http://www.unm.edu/~srathod

Monday, March 28, 2005

Commercial Interests of the US administration

The current United States administration is trying to prevent Iran from acquiring the same nuclear technology, which the Ford administration, consisting of President Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfled, offered to Iran in 1976. This comes in a report in Washington Post, under certain declassified documents. A notable sentence from this report is as below.
Charles Naas, who was deputy U.S. ambassador to Iran in the 1970s, said proliferation was high in the minds of technical experts, "but the nuclear deal was attractive in terms of commerce, and the relationship as a whole was very important."

The reports on US offering Pakistan with F-16s seems to create a sense of deja vu, since there is a larger goal of commercial profit in this offer too. A similar point is put forward in this article in Washington Post, aptly summarized in the first few lines of the report as follows.
The Bush administration's decision to sell F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan is likely to be as warmly greeted in Fort Worth as it is in Karachi.

That's because Lockheed Martin Corp. has said it needs new orders for the jet before this fall, or it will have to take action to close the production line there that employs about 5,000 workers.

Apart from the mixing of the church and the state, underlying commercial interests of the administration is also a big part of governance in the US administration. Enron is a live testimony of this.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

World Water Day.

March 22 is World Water Day.

Incidently, water is another of the three focus areas of the New Mexico chapter of the Association for India's Development (AID-NM) for which I am volunteering. Last year, AIDNM organized two screenings of the documentary Thirst. AIDNM had invited the directors of this documentary, Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman to lead a discussion after the movie.

The documentary brought forward the issue of water privatization -
is water a human right or a commodity to be bought and sold in a global marketplace? It is ridiculous the way corporations set their eyes on water, a basic necessity, as a source of their profits. At the same time, government officials of such places where water privatization is being sought, support the corporations, instead of the citizens who elected them to their posts. The documentary focuses on three places. One of them is Stockton, California, where the city government wants to grant a private company the rights to supply water. It shows the struggle of few dedicated individuals who form a small group to stop the government, though without success, to privatize water. The second example is of Cochabamba, Bolivia, where the government privatized water to Bechtel. However, due to widespread protest, under the leadership of Oscar Olivera, the government backed off the deal. The latest I heard is that Bechtel is suing Bolivia for unrealized losses due to the deal gone sour. The third case is of Rajasthan, India, where Dr. Rajendra Singh single-handedly, with the help of the villagers, made water conservation possible in the arid regions of Rajasthan. Incidently, AID-NM had invited Dr. Rajendra Singh in May 2004 for a panel discussion on water conservation, here in Albuquerque. He runs the organization Tarun Bharat Sangh, which has worked towards water rights in India.

Interspersed throughout the documentary are clippings from the 3rd World Water Forum held in Kyoto, Japan in 2003, where the government officials from various governments, World Bank and corporations try to justify that water privatization is, indeed, the way to progress.

Thirst was screened on PBS at various times. Please check your local listings if you would like to know the schedule of the screening.

Today is the last day for the 4th World Water Forum, which commenced on March 16, 2005 in Mexico City, Mexico.

Meanwhile, the 2nd Alternative World Water Forum, held from March 17 to 20, 2005 in Geneva, Switzerland, has called for a global tax to save the vital resource. The activists propose that this would avoid having to use private funding for the distribution of water.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Height of flattery!!!

Who is Rice tyring to fool by saying that Pakistan is model state for the Islamic world? Ms. Rice, can I know the reason for passing such a hallowed honor on your dear friend? Is it that such a nation should not allow democratic elections? A country in which one of the high courts acquits those accused in a gang-rape case, probably, suits a model nation. Probably, the fact that one of men running the country is involved in a gun-running racket in nuclear arms makes it a model country. And, the fact that he is pardoned by the head honcho makes it a still better model country. These, apart from the fact, that there are innumerable tales out there detailing its involvement in terrorism. A model state, indeed!!!

Friday, March 18, 2005

China, the overseer of Human Rights!!!

It seems that the current Bush administration in US will go to any length to make China happy ahead of Rice's visit. Just three weeks ago, the State Department criticized China on her human rights record. Now, just ahead of the visit by Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, US seems to have reversed its position on this same issue. Contradicting itself, the state department said that it won't introduce resolutions criticizing China at a 53-nation UN human rights conference. US seems to be hell-bent on appeasing China. Their reasons seem to be based on a few stray incidents on benevolence on part of China. However, US is conveniently forgetting China's blemished track record in human rights, which is getting murkier, as evident from the successful efforts by China to pass the anti-secession bill against Taiwan. Further, the recent volte face by the Dalai Lama seems to suggest strong-arm tactics in play by China. Bush seems to harp on bringing about democracy in Iraq, but turns a blind eye towards the political situation in China. I guess, he needs China more than China needs him.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Kanishka and the Narita Bombing Trial

The Kanishka trial came to close today with the acquittal of the two accused. However, the relatives of the victims plan to appeal the judgment in the higher court.

The decision has raised more unanswered questions than answering the ones already put forth. The answer to the main question, who, after all, committed such a heinous crime, still remains elusive. The investigation suffered many roadblocks, some which were put forward due to the nature of the crime itself, viz. lack of clues in the crash above the ocean, and the remaining ones created by the way this investigation itself was handled. It was beyond anyone's control to derive meaningful evidence for the cause of the crash from the wreckage. But, when certain pieces of the jumble started falling in place, crucial evidence was destroyed by the Canadian police. Somehow, the reasoning given by the agent for destroying the tapes doesn't sound convincing to me.

The investigation took 15 years and the trail took 13 months. It seems to be one of the most complex and longest running case in the Canadian history. Looking at the way the evidence has been presented, chances were high that the judge would decide in favour of the accused.

I don't have any answers as to where now for this probe. My heart goes out to all those who lost their loved ones in this crash.

On a different note, when most of the news sites mention this crash to be the deadliest acts of terrorism before September 11, 2001, it is surprising to note that most of the US news sites, for instance, CNN, ABC, MSN, Reuters, don't even have this headline on their front page. Instead, the mugshots of Scott Peterson and Robert Blake adorn their main headline.

Wolfowitz as World Bank president.

It is anybody's guess, what is President Bush upto when he has proposed Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz as the candidate for the post of the president of World Bank. Considering that Wolfowitz is one of the main architects of the US attack over Iraq, it would not come as a surprise that, under the aegis of a person known for his role in designing and promoting the Iraq war, World Bank would stray away from its main goal of providing developing nations with financial aid. As it is, World Bank has been accused, more than once, of providing aid to the poor nations with strings attached. I wouldn't be surprised if this aid now goes to Iraq on the pretext of rebuilding this war-ravaged country, but being funneled, in fact, to 'fight the war on terror'. Further, the 'strings attached' to the loans to the developing nations will also turn into arm-twisting tactics to garner support for the Iraq war. Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N), would definitely have been million times better than Wolfowitz.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Look at the root cause...

The recent decision by the Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister to give Rs. 1 lakh to families with single-girl child doesn't seem to make much sense, if we consider the reasoning given by the government to implement this scheme. It is directed to increase the low sex ratio in the state, which currently stands at 943 females to 1,000 males.

The root cause of this problem is that such families think that a girl-child is more of a liability than an asset, and that once she grows up and gets married, she goes to her husband's place. Now, this new idea of giving Rs. 1 lakh will, if not maintain status quo, induce more reluctance on part of families to have a girl-child. This is simply because they will think that what good is this money if it is going to be given to their child and that too at an age when she will get married and be off to her husband's home. It is the in-laws who are going to benefit from this 1 lakh rupees. Further, it is going to worsen the dowry situation also, which, according to some people, is much more rampant in Andhra Pradesh, than most of the other states. The in-laws, knowing that the bride has received Rs. 1 lakh from the government, will press for this amount.

The government needs to think about striking the root cause of the problem, rather than coming up with such superficial solutions.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

International Women's Day

Today, March 8, is International Women's Day. The edit page in Tuesday's Times of India gives a good primer on this topic.

Since I know about India, I can tell one thing which is of relevance to this topic. Both the extremes of discrimination against the fairer sex is evident in India. While most of the rural areas reels under the aura of gender discrimination, the urbanites seems to take pride in the fact that discrimination against women is a thing of past. This is evident in a letter sent by a reader to TOI which mentioned that it is time to do away with the 'Ladies Only' seats in the BEST buses in Bombay (now known as Mumbai), and reserve them only for pregnant women, senior citizens, and the invalids.

The union budget presented by the Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, also provides sops to women. Notable mentions among these are the relaxation in income tax limits for women in workforce, and lower property taxes held by women as compared to men. Noble as it many sound the goals of these actions, however, I feel that it is, nonetheless, fraught with limitations. Apart from gender equality, the government wants to decrease the investment of black money in real estate. Now, I see no reason to believe that a property held by a female investor would make the investment perfectly white. On the contrary, it gives an incentive to a person to spread the risks associated with holding too many real estate investments under a single name, and invite the suspicious eyes of the authorities.

Even the commercial world is celebrating International Women's Day as is evident from the classified sections in Tuesday's TOI with a heading of 'Women's Day Times Classified', and LG electronics asking to 'enjoy the privilege of being a woman' by buying one of their electronics online and winning a surprise 'Women's Day' gift.

On a different note, AID-NM, the non-profit organization for which I volunteer, doesn't seem to have anything planned for International Women's Day, even though 'Women's Repowerment' is one of the three focus area which they have chosen for 2004-5. Hmmm...