Saturday, February 28, 2009

Science, Religion & the Making of the Ethical Self in the Nation

A version of My NYT Comment #32
February 28, 2009 9:24 am Link

The flawed 2008 Pew survey(NYT article link below ) referred to in this article should have collected and presented data on the educational level of the respondents in this survey.

Jews, Hindus and Buddhists in the U.S. almost certainly attain higher levels of education, are well to do, make the connection between education and economic attainment, consequently they are less likely to subscribe to ideas, religious or otherwise, about magical personas, like angels and demons (referred to in the Pew survey questionnaire), operating in the world. Contrast that with the responses of Jehovah’s Witnesses, probably the least educated and not surprisingly poorest among all surveyed.

A piece of essential reading would be the late great Stephen Jay Gould’s article on religion and science as “non-overlapping magisteria.”

As a child I learned an important distinction from my famous geologist father. One can certainly be simultaneously religious and scientific. In fact it is important to combine exploration of the natural and social world, while still retaining a sense of awe about the still unexplained mysteries of our universe. Religion insists on Faith and Belief, in contrast, Science relies on Evidence and Proof. Religion and Science DON’T overlap, therefore don’t confuse the two. They are not equivalent because they cannot be compared. Don’t apply the rules of one to the other. At the same time, Don’t denigrate the one or the other.

Critical thinking, scientific reasoning and logical development of ideas are the core skills taught in colleges. These skills are essential for developing a knowledgeable participatory citizenry and a competent workforce. Both are essential for the working of democracy in the modern pluralist nation-state.

Such skills are essential for growing an ethical democracy, a project tentative at best in the US,India and many other democratic spaces, that was severely impeded by that magical thinking team of Cheney-Bush and their “Axis of Evil ” pseudo-Christian doctrine.

The dynamic construction of the striving-to-be Ethical Self acting with striving-to-be ethical others, in the modern pluralist nation-state, is central to the ongoing necessarily flawed project of Democracy.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

New York Times copyright
February 28, 2009, 12:01 am
Bobby Jindal, the Exorcist
By Charles M. Blow

WSJ copyright

Karen Armstrong says we need God to grasp the wonder of our existence

Richard Dawkins has been right all along, of course—at least in one important respect. Evolution has indeed dealt a blow to the idea of a benign creator, literally conceived. It tells us that there is no Intelligence controlling the cosmos, and that life itself is the result of a blind process of natural selection, in which innumerable species failed to survive. The fossil record reveals a natural history of pain, death and racial extinction, so if there was a divine plan, it was cruel, callously prodigal and wasteful. Human beings were not the pinnacle of a purposeful creation; like everything else, they evolved by trial and error and God had no direct hand in their making. No wonder so many fundamentalist Christians find their faith shaken to the core.
[GOD_cov2] Nippon Television Network
Richard Dawkins argues that evolution leaves God with nothing to do

But Darwin may have done religion—and God—a favor by revealing a flaw in modern Western faith. Despite our scientific and technological brilliance, our understanding of God is often remarkably undeveloped—even primitive. In the past, many of the most influential Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers understood that what we call "God" is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable transcendence, whose existence cannot be proved but is only intuited by means of spiritual exercises and a compassionate lifestyle that enable us to cultivate new capacities of mind and heart.

But by the end of the 17th century, instead of looking through the symbol to "the God beyond God," Christians were transforming it into hard fact. Sir Isaac Newton had claimed that his cosmic system proved beyond doubt the existence of an intelligent, omniscient and omnipotent creator, who was obviously "very well skilled in Mechanicks and Geometry." Enthralled by the prospect of such cast-iron certainty, churchmen started to develop a scientifically-based theology that eventually made Newton's Mechanick and, later, William Paley's Intelligent Designer essential to Western Christianity.

But the Great Mechanick was little more than an idol, the kind of human projection that theology, at its best, was supposed to avoid. God had been essential to Newtonian physics but it was not long before other scientists were able to dispense with the God-hypothesis and, finally, Darwin showed that there could be no proof for God's existence. This would not have been a disaster had not Christians become so dependent upon their scientific religion that they had lost the older habits of thought and were left without other resource.

View Full Image
WSJ Illustration

Symbolism was essential to premodern religion, because it was only possible to speak about the ultimate reality—God, Tao, Brahman or Nirvana—analogically, since it lay beyond the reach of words. Jews and Christians both developed audaciously innovative and figurative methods of reading the Bible, and every statement of the Quran is called an ayah ("parable"). St Augustine (354-430), a major authority for both Catholics and Protestants, insisted that if a biblical text contradicted reputable science, it must be interpreted allegorically. This remained standard practice in the West until the 17th century, when in an effort to emulate the exact scientific method, Christians began to read scripture with a literalness that is without parallel in religious history.

Most cultures believed that there were two recognized ways of arriving at truth. The Greeks called them mythos and logos. Both were essential and neither was superior to the other; they were not in conflict but complementary, each with its own sphere of competence. Logos ("reason") was the pragmatic mode of thought that enabled us to function effectively in the world and had, therefore, to correspond accurately to external reality. But it could not assuage human grief or find ultimate meaning in life's struggle. For that people turned to mythos, stories that made no pretensions to historical accuracy but should rather be seen as an early form of psychology; if translated into ritual or ethical action, a good myth showed you how to cope with mortality, discover an inner source of strength, and endure pain and sorrow with serenity.

In the ancient world, a cosmology was not regarded as factual but was primarily therapeutic; it was recited when people needed an infusion of that mysterious power that had—somehow—brought something out of primal nothingness: at a sickbed, a coronation or during a political crisis. Some cosmologies taught people how to unlock their own creativity, others made them aware of the struggle required to maintain social and political order. The Genesis creation hymn, written during the Israelites' exile in Babylonia in the 6th century BC, was a gentle polemic against Babylonian religion. Its vision of an ordered universe where everything had its place was probably consoling to a displaced people, though—as we can see in the Bible—some of the exiles preferred a more aggressive cosmology.

There can never be a definitive version of a myth, because it refers to the more imponderable aspects of life. To remain effective, it must respond to contemporary circumstance. In the 16th century, when Jews were being expelled from one region of Europe after another, the mystic Isaac Luria constructed an entirely new creation myth that bore no resemblance to the Genesis story. But instead of being reviled for contradicting the Bible, it inspired a mass-movement among Jews, because it was such a telling description of the arbitrary world they now lived in; backed up with special rituals, it also helped them face up to their pain and discover a source of strength.

Religion was not supposed to provide explanations that lay within the competence of reason but to help us live creatively with realities for which there are no easy solutions and find an interior haven of peace; today, however, many have opted for unsustainable certainty instead. But can we respond religiously to evolutionary theory? Can we use it to recover a more authentic notion of God?

Darwin made it clear once again that—as Maimonides, Avicenna, Aquinas and Eckhart had already pointed out—we cannot regard God simply as a divine personality, who single-handedly created the world. This could direct our attention away from the idols of certainty and back to the "God beyond God." The best theology is a spiritual exercise, akin to poetry. Religion is not an exact science but a kind of art form that, like music or painting, introduces us to a mode of knowledge that is different from the purely rational and which cannot easily be put into words. At its best, it holds us in an attitude of wonder, which is, perhaps, not unlike the awe that Mr. Dawkins experiences—and has helped me to appreciate —when he contemplates the marvels of natural selection.

But what of the pain and waste that Darwin unveiled? All the major traditions insist that the faithful meditate on the ubiquitous suffering that is an inescapable part of life; because, if we do not acknowledge this uncomfortable fact, the compassion that lies at the heart of faith is impossible. The almost unbearable spectacle of the myriad species passing painfully into oblivion is not unlike some classic Buddhist meditations on the First Noble Truth ("Existence is suffering"), the indispensable prerequisite for the transcendent enlightenment that some call Nirvana—and others call God.
—Ms. Armstrong is the author of numerous books on theology and religious affairs. The latest, "The Case for God," will be published by Knopf later this month.

Richard Dawkins argues that evolution leaves God with nothing to do

Before 1859 it would have seemed natural to agree with the Reverend William Paley, in "Natural Theology," that the creation of life was God's greatest work. Especially (vanity might add) human life. Today we'd amend the statement: Evolution is the universe's greatest work. Evolution is the creator of life, and life is arguably the most surprising and most beautiful production that the laws of physics have ever generated. Evolution, to quote a T-shirt sent me by an anonymous well-wisher, is the greatest show on earth, the only game in town.

Indeed, evolution is probably the greatest show in the entire universe. Most scientists' hunch is that there are independently evolved life forms dotted around planetary islands throughout the universe—though sadly too thinly scattered to encounter one another. And if there is life elsewhere, it is something stronger than a hunch to say that it will turn out to be Darwinian life. The argument in favor of alien life's existing at all is weaker than the argument that—if it exists at all—it will be Darwinian life. But it is also possible that we really are alone in the universe, in which case Earth, with its greatest show, is the most remarkable planet in the universe.
[GOD_cov1] Bettmann/CORBIS

Charles Darwin

What is so special about life? It never violates the laws of physics. Nothing does (if anything did, physicists would just have to formulate new laws—it's happened often enough in the history of science). But although life never violates the laws of physics, it pushes them into unexpected avenues that stagger the imagination. If we didn't know about life we wouldn't believe it was possible—except, of course, that there'd then be nobody around to do the disbelieving!

The laws of physics, before Darwinian evolution bursts out from their midst, can make rocks and sand, gas clouds and stars, whirlpools and waves, whirlpool-shaped galaxies and light that travels as waves while behaving like particles. It is an interesting, fascinating and, in many ways, deeply mysterious universe. But now, enter life. Look, through the eyes of a physicist, at a bounding kangaroo, a swooping bat, a leaping dolphin, a soaring Coast Redwood. There never was a rock that bounded like a kangaroo, never a pebble that crawled like a beetle seeking a mate, never a sand grain that swam like a water flea. Not once do any of these creatures disobey one jot or tittle of the laws of physics. Far from violating the laws of thermodynamics (as is often ignorantly alleged) they are relentlessly driven by them. Far from violating the laws of motion, animals exploit them to their advantage as they walk, run, dodge and jink, leap and fly, pounce on prey or spring to safety.

Never once are the laws of physics violated, yet life emerges into uncharted territory. And how is the trick done? The answer is a process that, although variable in its wondrous detail, is sufficiently uniform to deserve one single name: Darwinian evolution, the nonrandom survival of randomly varying coded information. We know, as certainly as we know anything in science, that this is the process that has generated life on our own planet. And my bet, as I said, is that the same process is in operation wherever life may be found, anywhere in the universe.

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WSJ Illustration

What if the greatest show on earth is not the greatest show in the universe? What if there are life forms on other planets that have evolved so far beyond our level of intelligence and creativity that we should regard them as gods, were we ever so fortunate (or unfortunate?) as to meet them? Would they indeed be gods? Wouldn't we be tempted to fall on our knees and worship them, as a medieval peasant might if suddenly confronted with such miracles as a Boeing 747, a mobile telephone or Google Earth? But, however god-like the aliens might seem, they would not be gods, and for one very important reason. They did not create the universe; it created them, just as it created us. Making the universe is the one thing no intelligence, however superhuman, could do, because an intelligence is complex—statistically improbable —and therefore had to emerge, by gradual degrees, from simpler beginnings: from a lifeless universe—the miracle-free zone that is physics.

To midwife such emergence is the singular achievement of Darwinian evolution. It starts with primeval simplicity and fosters, by slow, explicable degrees, the emergence of complexity: seemingly limitless complexity—certainly up to our human level of complexity and very probably way beyond. There may be worlds on which superhuman life thrives, superhuman to a level that our imaginations cannot grasp. But superhuman does not mean supernatural. Darwinian evolution is the only process we know that is ultimately capable of generating anything as complicated as creative intelligences. Once it has done so, of course, those intelligences can create other complex things: works of art and music, advanced technology, computers, the Internet and who knows what in the future? Darwinian evolution may not be the only such generative process in the universe. There may be other "cranes" (Daniel Dennett's term, which he opposes to "skyhooks") that we have not yet discovered or imagined. But, however wonderful and however different from Darwinian evolution those putative cranes may be, they cannot be magic. They will share with Darwinian evolution the facility to raise up complexity, as an emergent property, out of simplicity, while never violating natural law.

Where does that leave God? The kindest thing to say is that it leaves him with nothing to do, and no achievements that might attract our praise, our worship or our fear. Evolution is God's redundancy notice, his pink slip. But we have to go further. A complex creative intelligence with nothing to do is not just redundant. A divine designer is all but ruled out by the consideration that he must at least as complex as the entities he was wheeled out to explain. God is not dead. He was never alive in the first place.

Now, there is a certain class of sophisticated modern theologian who will say something like this: "Good heavens, of course we are not so naive or simplistic as to care whether God exists. Existence is such a 19th-century preoccupation! It doesn't matter whether God exists in a scientific sense. What matters is whether he exists for you or for me. If God is real for you, who cares whether science has made him redundant? Such arrogance! Such elitism."

Well, if that's what floats your canoe, you'll be paddling it up a very lonely creek. The mainstream belief of the world's peoples is very clear. They believe in God, and that means they believe he exists in objective reality, just as surely as the Rock of Gibraltar exists. If sophisticated theologians or postmodern relativists think they are rescuing God from the redundancy scrap-heap by downplaying the importance of existence, they should think again. Tell the congregation of a church or mosque that existence is too vulgar an attribute to fasten onto their God, and they will brand you an atheist. They'll be right.
—Mr. Dawkins is the author of "The Selfish Gene," "The Ancestor's Tale," "The God Delusion." His latest book, "The Greatest Show on Earth," will be published by Free Press on Sept. 22.

Friday, February 27, 2009

An Ethical Lag: Obama on Troop Withdrawal
Obama Plans to End Combat Mission in Iraq by August 2010
Published: February 27, 2009
New York Times copyright
My comment #20.
February 27, 2009 8:57 am
Link NY Times

February 27th, 2009 8:49 am
Obama is promising on domestic policy and lousy on foreign policy. He is following the Bush-Cheney line with minor variations, in Afghanistan-Pakistan, Iraq and West Asia (aka 'the Middle East'). This is a Coke vs. Pepsi foreign policy.

Obama is intimidated by the Republicans, the generals and the State Dept.

Obama is way too wishy washy on the troop withdrawal.

50,000 US troops still in Iraq after 2010?

Guess this commander in chief wants his moment in the Iraqi sun, by visiting Baghdad's green zone under cover of night, with a zillion security personnel guarding him and not one Iraqi widow or orphan in sight.

Does he also want a couple shoes thrown at him?

The US should never have invaded and occupied Iraq and they have never been welcome there.

Obama claims he opposed the invasion and war. So why the delay?

Yes, yes I understand that is how politics, rather than statesmanship works.

In contrast, Ethical Democracy is a work in progress and it is demonstrated through an intentional accumulation of concrete ethical acts of policy and practice by the people and by their leaders. Is the US anyway near there yet?

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

— EthicalDemocracy, New York, NY

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Self and Nation:: The US in Iran
Op-Ed Columnist
The Inner Life
Published: February 25, 2009
New York Times copyright
My Comment #40.
February 26, 2009 8:52 am


February 26th, 2009 8:32 am
Can we just as easily substitute Bush-Cheney-Wolfowitz-Rice-Rumsfeld-Powell in the quote below?

“Too arrogant to think of [them] as a threat and deliberately ignorant of [their] designs, we supported [them]. We welcomed the vehemence of [Bush's] rants against [the Axis of Evil] and were willing to overlook the fact that they were not delivered by champion[s] of freedom.”

The problem with Nafisi and her 'narrative tension" just as with Cohen's, is that they don't see their own elite neoliberal complicity with the ruling US political establishment, except conveniently long, long after the fact. And even then, they keep their blinders on.

What "inner life" is Cohen talking about? One that does not accept personal responsibility for the stance we take, which we can and must admit may be full of error?

Nafisi was supported by that great advocate of democracy, the corrupt and disgraced Wolfowitz.

And Cohen still appears to be blind to the repercussions from US govt.'s role in getting rid of the popularly elected Mossadegh (who wanted to nationalize Iran's oil), and US militarization/ satellization of Israel in the so-called Middle East.

Change from Within will become Change We Can Believe In,
when the US takes its rightful place in the world community as an equal, NOT a dominant player.

I fear for my own region -- South Asia -- where Iran (as well as Israel) is our adjoining neighbor (the US is NOT), and the manipulative, violence-driven proclivity of the US Govt. whether Brand Bush or Brand Obama. There is only a difference in degree not in kind.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reps, Dems and Ethical Bipartisanship,

February 23, 2009, 4:58 pm
Does Bipartisanship Matter?
By The Editors

New York Times copyright

My Comment# 206. February 24, 2009 12:44 pm Link

Ethical Bipartisanship

Bipartisanship is a valuable strategic option for President Obama as he tries to implement a cohesive response to the economic mess created by the Republicans. He must be persistently bipartisan, probably multi-partisan, like successful democracies in Europe and the Global South.

The Republicans are already focused on trying to win back the White House and Congress in 4 years. That’s is the core objective in defying bipartisan overtures by the President.
Well, Obama can play that game too. He is also intent on winning again in four years. So, keep offering bipartisanship opportunities to the Republicans, no matter how many times they say ‘No.”

Then, four years down the road Obama can prove that the majority of Republicans are ideologically against bipartisanship. They appear to be driven by ideology rather than pragmatism.

The majority of Republicans and some Democrats lack pragmatism of what constitutes policy and programs to maximize the Greater Collective Good.

That’s what ethical democracy is mostly about.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
— Chithra KarunaKaran

50th Anniversary 1959-2009: MLK in the Land of MKG

50th Anniversary 1959-2009 MLK in the Land of MKG

This year Black History Month has especial significance. The White House used to be the WHITES' House. Three hundred years of resistance and struggle have propelled a Black President into leadership of the United States. Obama is 50% white and 50% but such is the power of the "one-drop-rule" of racialized white supremacacism that he cannot possibly stand up and say "Hey I'm Black-white or White-Black." The most he can say, and he did say was self-deprecatingly "a mutt like me."

Without the blood sweat tears of those three hundred years of persistent struggle, such a historic moment might have been even further delayed. Today, during Black History Month in the United States, I am marking for special mention the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's historic visit to India to the several places of Gandhi's activism, assassination and cremation.

Ethical Democracy as Lived Practice is about examining and reflecting upon such ethical moments. Self-in-Society-Studies focuses on this visit and its implications and repercussions.
More to come...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Slumdogs Unite!
New York Times copyright
Taking the Slum out of 'Slumdog'by By MATIAS ECHANOVE and RAHUL SRIVASTAVA
Published: February 21, 2009
New York Times copyright


Comment February 21, 2009 9:44 pm Link

The "Slumdog" protests in India, which are quite limited, illustrate several points:

. Slumdog drew attention, albeit Hollywood-Bollywood style, to India's poverty. Neither our politicians nor our civil society can ignore hunger, poverty, homelessness in our country.

. It appears protesters were concerned with the word "dog" than with the word "slum."
Shouldn't they have been more concerned that millions of people live in slums, which by any other name are still places of poverty and inequality of opportunity.

.India has a vibrant and exponentially growing civil society, where protests of various types can take place without beheading or flogging.

.India’s billion plus people are likely to have the whole spectrum of diverse opinions, rather than only a few, because they have been practicing democracy, with lots of trial and error, but it's still democracy for all to see.

.The poor and the disenfranchised are especially vulnerable, more so during an election year, to:
vote-seeking criminal politicians, pseudo-nationalists, and cultural fundamentalists, (occasionally they are all rolled into one).

.Lost in translation — "dog" in English doesn’t translate favorably in a score of South Asian languages, let alone "slumdog."

.The so-called ” slum” kids in the movie are coming to the academy awards — more power to them. The rest of us will have to be content to watch it on TV.

.The vast majority of Indians don’t keep dogs as pets — ill-treatment of street dogs is rampant. Our canine friends in India need a whole lot of loving and more SPCA and PETA protection. If and when that happens every Indian will be happy to be called a dog.

.Controversy will boost Slumdog box office receipts for the movie in India and elsewhere, to stratospheric levels.

Go Oscar! And after that, Slumdogs of the World Unite!

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
— Chithra KarunaKar

Racism Rides Again: Whiteness in the Age of Obama

A Nation of Cowards? by Charles M. Blow
New York Times copyright #91
New York Times copyright
Weekend Opinionator: A Nation of Cowards, Stimulus-Wielding Chimps and Hip-Hop Republicans
By Tobin Harshaw
New York Times copyright
A version of my post(s) on the above topic appeared earlier (see link above)
Comment #91 NYT
Racism Rides Again: Whiteness in the Age of Obama
Blow has offered new data and analysis to argue what has already long been established in 50 years of study on the subject. Racism is for real. And it is about power. New data and analysis on this topic are always welcome.

Blow is correct to chide Holder for overstepping the perimeters of constructive dialogue, by using language that impedes it. I too object to Holder's characterization. But then I also cringed when Obama described himself as "a mutt." Both the confrontational "cowards" and self-disparaging "mutt" remarks equally speak to what I call "Systemic Whiteness."

But really, what language is appropriate to counter institutionalized racism? Or sexism or worse,genocide or invasion/occupation? Shoe throwing at a foreign tyrant is a better option than blasting a bomb under children riding a bus, for sure. But the problem is still perceived INJUSTICE of the worst sort.

I'll go ahead and offer my Theory of Systemic Whiteness which I developed after long years of living and working as an immigrant woman of color in the US, and which of course can be googled. Whiteness is the SYSTEM of unequal, un-shared, dominant POWER in US society, not merely an individual's feeling or opinion or prejudice or attitude or behavior.

I am thinking that a non-judgmental, non-prescriptive Self-in-Society curriculum of open inquiry leading to personal growth, from the earliest days of schooling (in which parents are directly involved),can present an opportunity to overturn the mindset and behavior-set of Systemic Whiteness.
The NYTimes weekend opinionator comment (see link above)
Comment #66. February 21, 2009 6:39 pm Link

Racism Rides Again: Whiteness in the Age of Obama

The White House was the Whites’ House until just last month.

Holder pushed a button. Racism is for real. Racism is alive and well. There is no such thing as being post-racial, because race is a socially constructed category and we keep constructing it. No surprise. What we call racism is primarily about dominant unequal POWER exercised by one self-selected group using its unearned privilege over everyone else. It’s so pervasive it feels ‘natural.’

Holder overstepped the perimeters of constructive dialogue, by using language that impedes it. But Holder himself is as much a part of the Whiteness System as anyone else (including you and me) who lives in US society.

I object to Holder’s characterization. But then I also cringed when Obama described himself as “a mutt.” Both the confrontational “cowards” and self-disparaging “mutt” remarks, equally speak to what I call “Systemic Whiteness.”

But really, what language is appropriate and sufficient to dismantle Whiteness — - institutionalized bias and unearned privilege by one self-selected group over all others?

Again, what language is appropriate sufficient to counter other forms of bias similarly rooted in power — sexism or worse, genocide or invasion/occupation? Shoe throwing (the Iraq example) at a foreign tyrant (a white male who embodies and exemplifies Whiteness as power), is a better option than blasting a bomb under children riding a bus, for sure. But the problem is still lived experience of INJUSTICE of the most egregious sort. To my mind, that is what Holder is really talking about.

Holder made an overstatement about race and the nation, that is nevertheless substantially accurate. So let’s not privilege style over substance, that is a diversionary tactic employed by those who hold power and commit injustice.

Another famously incendiary statement By Any Means Necessary still contains the powerful threat of menacing violence without actual violence, and that has been a powerful deterrent originating in the activist politics of the late great pacifist, yes, pacifist and liberatory internationalist, Malcolm X.

I’ll go ahead and offer my Theory of Systemic Whiteness which I developed after long years of living and working as an immigrant woman of color in the US, and which of course can be googled. Whiteness is the SYSTEM of unequal, un-shared, dominant POWER in US society, not merely an individual’s feeling or opinion or prejudice or attitude or behavior.

Finally, I am thinking that a non-judgmental, non-prescriptive, Self-in-Society curriculum of open inquiry leading to personal growth and lived pluralism, from the earliest days of schooling (in which parents are directly involved), can present an opportunity to overturn the mindset and behavior-set of Systemic Whiteness.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
— Chithra KarunaKaran


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Multipolar Iran vs. Unipolar US
Reading Khamenei in Iran by Roger Cohen
New York Times copyright
Comment # 48.
February 19, 2009 10:34 am

The Zionists on the staff of The New York Times (of which Cohen is one) are at it again! Seriously, why don't you at the NYT (even if only occasionally) 'deploy' a Global South or Scandinavian journalist to cover the so-called Middle East (Middle of what? East of where?). That area is both West Asia and North East Africa. You cannot truncate either of these huge continents by taking a chunk out of each of them and call that area the Middle East, a Brit colonial-imperial fiction, continued by the US, the prevailing neo-imperial power. Though Cohen does not specifically use the term "Middle East" it is the suspect terrain of his analyses.

Does IRAN's Right to Exist (yes I mean Iran, I am not talking about Israel) depend on Iran's relationship to Israel and the US? Iran has never threatened the US, whereas the US has deposed its popularly elected leaders (Mossadegh), propped up straw monarchs (Reza Shah Pehlavi), stoked the Iran-Iraq war, and sanctioned Iran for attempting to become a nuclear power (which Israel already is, and the US is the only user of nuclear weapons).

Finally, let me inform Cohen Iran is well on the way to strategic multipolarity like many sovereign nation-states struggling out of the colonial era, with dialogue and economic arrangements with South America, Africa and South Asia. Therefore, "only engagement with the West" as Cohen mistakenly asserts is not Iran's only or preferred option.

Iran is undoubtedly a deeply flawed sovereign nation-state with an abysmal human rights record. This human rights record is correctly a terrain for engagement by the US and all UN member states, with Iran, no less than with Saudi Arabia, whose human rights record the US conveniently winks at, while guzzling Saudi oil.
Let it also be noted that Iran is an emerging regional power despite severe geo-political provocation from the US and its satellite, Israel.
My sense is Iran will prevail, despite Cohen's "pious" prescriptions to deal with Iran's alleged "independence obsession."

My comments do not in any way mean I do not read Cohen and others on the op-ed staff of the NYT with the greatest critical interest. I thank the NYT for that opportunity, because it is most instructive.
Such discussion is the stuff of US democracy on its way to developing an ethical spine.
Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SWAT the US & NATO out of South Asia
New York Times copyright
Comment #20. February 18, 2009 9:35 pm

Will Afghanistan become Obama's Vietnam?

US and NATO military operations in this region have very seriously exacerbated the already longstanding regional tensions and rivalries in Afghanistan/Pakistan western border areas, of which the Swat Valley is a part.

Both the US and NATO which is in any case US-dominated, should get out now.

Q. Your US drone can spot so-called militants from the air because they are wearing T for Taliban or Q for Al Queda T shirts?
When families who already have so little, lose fathers, mothers and children to US/NATO operations there is bound to be longterm bitterness and revenge.

The US is almost certainly under-reporting civilian casualties in Swat and adjoining areas..

Let the various local fractious factions sort out their differences (which go back centuries), without the self-proclaimed superpower futilely flexing its muscle in the region.

The flow of money, weapons and equipment into the region from various sources including the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran needs to be monitored and stanched. The UN has not done any weapons monitoring and it should.

The worrying question is — who will proactively ensure that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons will not fall into the hands of the Taliban now dangerously poised within striking distance of Islamabad? Again, the UN must be proactive rather than merely reactive to US demands based on its narrow interests, in the Security Council.
Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
— Chithra KarunaKaran

Islam in India: The Secular Democratic Project of Lived Pluralism

Comment #108.
February 18, 2009 11:45 am
a version of my post below appeared on:
Islam in India: The Secular Democratic Project of Lived Pluralism
New York Times copyright
February 18th, 2009 8:37 am

Friedman's piece is both courageous and timely. These are words that must be pondered upon as much by the US State Department as by every South Asian.

People like the 17th century scholar-soldier Dara Shukoh, murdered son of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the freedom fighter Maulana Azad (Gandhi called him "my conscience keeper") and contemporary outspoken writer Salman Rushdie, who stood up to fatwa, all come out of this proud tradition of thousands of years of LIVED secular pluralism. We people of diverse faiths as well as agnostics and atheists, have lived together, grown tolerant of each other in our lush (rather than harsh) natural environment and in the process, discovered treasures in each others' culture.
In India Democracy is not some borrowed western concept. It has emerged out of a lived experience of discursive mingling of Greek, Hindu,Buddhist and absolutely YES, Islamic ideas, not to speak of Sikh, Christian, Judaic, Zoroastrian, Dalit and indigenous tribal ideas.

The Ayodhya mosque demolition and the post-Godhra pogroms are blots on India's secular plural national conscience and character. Still, a billion plus Indians have maintained restraint in the face of such provocations incited by criminal politicians who have yet to be brought to justice. We cannot rest until they are.

However religious tolerance and secular pluralism are not the same thing as developing uncompromisingly intolerant attitudes and policy about hunger, homelessness and inequality of opportunity. Indians badly need to develop that sort of intolerance.

The Indian secular democratic project of lived pluralism which translates as SOCIAL JUSTICE, has miles to go.

Chithra KarunaKaran

No Way no How not Here by Thomas Friedman
New York Times copyright

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Self in the City: The Case for New York and Mumbai

February 17, 2009 7:20 am
Comment #135

Perhaps Americans need to dream more expansively, and live their dreams, the older they grow. Perhaps that's the lesson to learn from the Pew study (see link below).

I lived for two years in Amsterdam in the 70's (while researching the double diaspora of the Surinam Indians) on my way to a doctorate at Columbia.

However I opted to live in New York (which to my mind is in a dead heat with Mumbai), over smaller, more cohesive, less diverse, less inclusive Amsterdam, because New York is MORE in every sense of the word -- NYC is a global city with ethical capacity, like Mumbai.

In New York I can use, reuse and yet again reuse my blue or orange Fairway bags and then climb into the M4 bus to reach my door in Washington Heights. I can take the F to Second Avenue to a birthday party in the East Village for an Amazon macaw born in a Manhattan apartment in the middle of winter, called Peacenik, whose picture on my fridge, with his doting parents I can share with my older son who is a vice-president at ING, as well as an avid birder.
The owners belong to a group called Parrots for Peace and their avian charges grow up to say things like "Peace will Prevail." to their human interlocutors.

The metaglobal, ocassionally quirky collective consciousness of a porous city, that New York and Mumbai amplify, makes it unnecessary for me to "retire" (what a dead-end word) to the city. I'm already here and I have never consumed anything from Starbucks or McDonalds.
The global city like New York, Mumbai and some others, makes ethical choices ever more critical and possible.
Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

I Dream of Denver BY David Brooks
New York Times copyright
Pew Research Center copyright


Friday, February 13, 2009

2010 World Rally for Refugees' Right to Return

2010 World Rally for Refugees' Right to Return

We urgently need a World Rally for Refugees' Right to Return in 2010.

We know no people without a land to call home.

We know no people who do not share a land with others.

We know no people who have prospered by rejecting the land of their ancestors.

We, all of us, know of no people who are content to be deprived of the option to live their lives in a land of their ancestors' birth, as well as have the option to live elsewhere.

No one is exempt from Hope. No one is exempt from Hope, whether bowed or defiant in Despair.

Hope lives in the human heart, that "thing with feathers."

Is a year of the RIGHT to RETURN possible?

During the 2010 Year of Return Palestinians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Tamils, Kurds, indigenous Peoples, dislocated Peoples, victims of ethnic cleansing, dispossessed Peoples, de-recognized or unrecognized Peoples, ecological refugees, climate refugees, farmers, refugee growers and displaced gatherers of food, refugee practitioners of traditional forest and bush medicine, refugee craftspeople, ALL will have the unfettered opportunity to return peacefully and without hindrance, they will have the Right to Return.

This has to be a Refugees Without Borders Peoples' Movement.

No government of a sovereign state can hope to succeed, nor does any government or intergovernmental agency have the ethical courage and political will to either order or block the universal human Right to Return. Governments, liberation groups like Hamas, ALL groups that stake a claim for the right to return, member-states of the UN, the agencies and organizations of the UN, need the driving force of borderless civil society, people like you and me, to help them focus an entire year on The Right to Return of ALL refugee Peoples. Only then can the refugee movement succeed.

It will not be easy. But such a world movement is fraught with ethical, civilizational possibility.

Can we collectively plan and implement a 2010 World Rally for Refugees' Right to Return? It is an ethical responsibility of borderless civil society everywhere.
Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice


Self in Society: Ethical Possibility As Lived Practice

Not Self and Society but Self in Society.

The non-duality (advaita) of Self and Universe of the Upanishad (800 BCE) meets neuroscience with Damasio's "somatic marker hypothesis."(1994).

What an engagement across eons of awareness. I am conceptually locating that momentous engagement in the study of the PSYCHOSOCIAL, which sits at the crossroads intersection of sociology, psychology, quantum physics and cognitive neuroscience but which cannot be collapsed or subsumed within any of them.

First and foremost as an ordinary and reflective person, then and only secondarily as a postcolonial sociologist who teaches foundational theories in Psychology, I am fortunate to have developed for myself, in spaces of academic institutional resistance, and in digital spaces such as this blog, the opportunity to conceptually bring the individual "I" and situate that i within the collective "We", an examined union of the natural and the social-cultural.

There is no lived distance between Self & Society. Such a constructed divide lacks temporal possibility because in real time there is no Self without Society. There is no Society without Selves. It is Society that makes Self human. Though we arrive, at infancy, in Society equipped to be human, to BECOME human, we need Society. Those very few selves who were unfortunate enough to be placed outside of the human social context failed to become human.

Though we are free to mentally manipulate the two, Self and Society, as distinct conceptual categories, in order to further our thought about Self and Society, Self in Society, each necessarily constitutes the other. That symbolic manipulation is a necessary intellectual scientific endeavor in order to contemplate, affirm and establish the interweaving and inseparability of Self & Society, Society & Self.

It has become my life's work and such work is not dependent on the US academy which pays me meagerly but sufficiently for my own frugality, but continually attempts to limit the ethical intellectual scope of what I may do. Therefore most of my work must be unpaid and conducted outside of the US academy. Neither the US academy nor its macro-context, the US nation-state nor its surrogate institutions, define who I am or who I am becoming as Self in Society.

In my own lived practice, I accept full responsibility for my thoughts and actions. Therefore, I cannot ascribe my thoughts and actions (which I concurrently experience or perform in real time), to others OR to magical forces (religion vs. ethics) or fictitious circumstances or fabricated representations, outside of myself.

I am responsible for my thoughts and actions, I am fully accountable for my own thoughts and actions, which may be shaped and influenced by the above, but I still am responsible.

It is my responsibility to myself, my family, my ancestors, my universal civil society to develop my intrinsic motivation and limit the influence of extrinsic motivation in the ethical pursuit of my own lived possibility.

Others are not responsible or accountable for what I myself think and do. I must importantly accept the responsibility that my thoughts and actions may influence and impact others, sometimes to their detriment, therefore I have an ethical responsibility to anticipate how I may affect these selves, these others who are also equally human and have the same ethical potential as I. This is the goal of the Self in joining with other selves in the pursuit of establishing the Greater Collective Good, an indispensable constituting force of Society.

By the same token I cannot accept responsibility for the thoughts and actions of others, including the thoughts and actions of individuals, financial institutions or governments. These I feel absolutely free to examine, challenge and oppose or support, according to my evolving understanding of my own ethical possibility as a moment-by-moment, daily, seasonal and lifelong lived practice.

It is fortuitous for me to have an opportunity for reflection on Self in Society, on this anniversary of Gandhi's assassination.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
Self & Society: Ethical Possibility as Lived Practice
01/30/09 Gandhi was assassinated on Jan 30, 1948

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Centrally Planned Economies -- The US?


February 11, 2009 7:23 am
Dowd is stuck with a mistaken metaphor -- it looks like the "savior based economy" is losing out to ethical populist outrage, not messianic posturing.

Obama is being mindful of the mandate given to him by millions of voters (PEOPLE) who sent him to Washington. Despite a few false starts he's now got his eye on the ball. It's up to us ethical populists to train Geithner (who should not have got the job) to also get it right, like the President who appointed him.

Now that the the Unites States has a Centrally Planned Economy (CPE), something that was widely disparaged in the Cold War era, we will all have the opportunity to see how a pragmatic variation of US-style Marxist-type Socialism works!

Of course the underlying point is that the US has ALWAYS been a CPE. How? Because the market fundamentalism of the US Federal Reserve and the IMF type is centrally planned. The free market economy is a carefully planned and articulated HYPE, bought by the mainstream media and the electorate.

Marx had the notion that the individual is important in any society, but the Soviets didn't get that part about the importance of the individual, consequently they really messed up.

"Change we can believe in" is proletarian populism.

What goes around comes around. Now both Wall Street and Main Street not to mention The White House and Congress are all clamoring for glasnost and perestroika.
How aptly ironic.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy as Lived Practice

— EthicalDemocracy, New York, NY
Comment #272, NYT published 02/12/09
A version of the above, submitted in response to another NYTimes article(see credit below).
Kristof says that the US public has a "horror of nationalization." I want to unpack that statement.

Is the US a Centrally Planned Economy(CPE)? Yes it is. And Yes, it ALWAYS has been. How? Because the market fundamentalism of the US Federal Reserve and the IMF type is centrally planned and implemented globally.
The US concept of the so-called "free market economy" coupled with its militaristic geopolitical strategy, is a carefully planned and articulated HYPE, a brand if you will, (no conspiracy theory needed here), bought by the mainstream media and sold to the US electorate. Voters like you and me who are now lashing back, with ethical populist outrage, at free market excesses like over the top executive compensation,

Marx, a flawed economist always had the notion that the individual is important in any society, but the Soviets didn't get that part about the importance of the individual, consequently they really messed up.

"Change we can believe in" is now proletarian populism. That way Kristof can avoid using the new "N" word.

What goes around comes around. Both Wall Street and Main Street, not to mention The White House and Congress, are all clamoring for glasnost and perestroika.
How aptly ironic.

Chithra Karunakaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

— EthicalDemocracy, New York, NY
Trillion Dollar Baby BY Maureen Dowd
New York Times copyright
Escaping the Bust Bowl by Nicholas Kristof
New York Times copyright

Monday, February 9, 2009

Intolerant India vs. Incredible India: Homegrown Civilian Terror & the Threat to Ethical Democracy

Is the current BJP-led Karnataka Govt. leading the great state of Karnataka down the treacherous path of violent cultural fundamentalism? Is the BJP at least complicit with the forces of civilian vigilantism as it flexes its communal muscle in governing the state?

Why pretend that communal vigilantism and terrorizing of civilians (by the Sri Ram Sene and others inspired by their hatred-driven example), is a foreign invention? Did we in India really need the Taliban to inspire us or is the work of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its extremist political party spinoffs like the Bajrang Dal, now bearing toxic fruit? Are we forgetting that Godse, a member of the RSS assassinated Gandhi? Was that a homegrown heinous crime or was it somehow foreign and alien to us? Did homegrown violent, criminal cultural fundamentalism result in the Gujarat pogroms?

Why pretend that civilian terror, terror against innocent individuals, unleashed in the Mangalore pub molestation and the assault on two persons because they were conversing with one another, one Hindu one Muslim, on a Kasaragod bus, is a Taliban style operation? No it's not. It's totally Indian, homegrown, civilian, communal terror and our own civil society must vigorously oppose it. The people who were the victims have to stand up in public, speak in their own voices and fight back. NGOs involved in social justice initiatives must help them. Ordinary citizens of the families and communities have to speak up. The people of Mangalore and Kasaragod have to speak up for social justice, not sweep social injustice under the rug. The students of St. Aloysius College spoke up against the ordeal suffered by their friend and fellow student on that Karasagod, Kerala bus. Good for them. They showed their courage when others were silent.

In speaking up and speaking out for a free and democratic civil society,in which we have responsibilies and rights, we have to be careful to develop our own language of anti-oppressive resistance. Therefore I would not use words like Talibanization, Islamist Jihadism, Hindutva or Saffronization. Such language evokes the symbols of oppressive civilian and partisan politics, whether in Kasaragod or Kashmir, and empowers the oppressors to defend and implement their oppressive strategies, whether in Mumbai or Mangalore.

Instead of borrowing the language of our homegrown oppressors we need to speak up, speak out and act against hate and terror crimes, anti-civilian violence, violation of civil rights, all of which are punishable under Indian law.

There are several conflicting media reports about both the Mangalore pub molestation of women as well as the Kasaragod bus detention and assault. However, regardless of the details which are yet to be clarified by the victims, police and political authorities, there is no doubt that innocent civilians were physically abused, abducted, illegally detained by anti-social, anti-secular elements. The victims' civil liberties were violated and they have a right to legal redress, which can and should include jail time for the perpetrators and cash compensation payable to the victims. Hit the hate-and- divide oppressors in the wallet, where it really hurts.

These instances of Indian homegrown civilian terror and the destructive antidemocratic, anti-secular strategy of cultural supremacist fundamentalism has its roots, not in Afghanistan, but right here at home in the divisive anti-democracy and anti human rights tactics of the RSS, BJP, VHP, BD and others playing the hate-and divide game. Religion and so-called "cultural values" are deployed as WEAPONS to terrorize civilians, ordinary folks like you and me.

Terror against civilians has its supremacist roots in patriachalism, casteism, communalism, vigilantism and it is a direct assault on the fragile construction of ethical democracy first articulated in the Gandhian liberatory era that produced the unprecedented postcolonial democracy of the sovereign Indian nation-state. With all our cultural and societal flaws, through oppression, invasion, occupation and exploitation, our diverse peoples in India have somehow hewed to the ideal of Satyameva Jayate. The Indian sovereign nation-state's central ideal of Satyameva Jayate must confront and expose the falsehood of cultural fundamentalism.

How do we in India construct the Self in Society? What is the psychosocial? That is a project for the pursuit of ethical democracy in India.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ethical Populism vs. Corporate Serial Criminality

February 8th, 2009 10:48 am
Comment #612

Populist ETHICAL rage is the best thing that could have happened to America.

Corporate serial criminality has sickened the majority of ordinary earn-your-livelihood americans (yes, lower case a, please) like me.

We are now focused on the universal human right to the pursuit of happiness through fairness, equality, social and economic justice.

ETHICAL POPULISM, in contrast to the rah-rah military adventurism and market unregulation of the 8 years-too-long W regime, will hopefully play a major role in keeping this new President ethical and accountable.

Obama doesn't have the expertise or the experience, he's been a team player all his life, to do it all by himself. Democracy is NOT a one-man show. Obama fumbled, he "screwed up" and the american people expressed their outrage at the unpalatable prospect of business as usual.

ETHICAL POPULISM. I celebrate its tentative return.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

— EthicalDemocracy, New York, NY
Slumdogs Unite! By Frank Rich
New York Times copyright

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Heim: Sociopath, Nazi War Criminal & the Challenge for Ethical Democracy

February 5th, 2009 4:38 am
Heim -- A consummate criminal, a genocider, a sociopath and psychopath who, most regrettably, was not brought to justice. Heim died peacefully in Cairo in 1992, a citizen of Egypt, but apparently his hiding place was only revealed recently.

This whole sequence of a life lived becomes a topic of concern in my empirical investigation of Self in Society in my "Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice" Blog.

It's ironic that the article mentions Heim planned to appeal to Kurt Waldheim -- yet another Nazi silent accomplice (see link below) who was honored with UN service and went unpunished.

Did Heim become less of a criminal because he became a Muslim? Yet another instance of religion being deployed for criminal, pathological uses, by individuals and the state.

Egypt aided and abetted this criminal by offering him political sanctuary and citizenship under an assumed,in this case, changed, name. So the Egyptian nation-state bears criminal responsibility and should pay reparation to the families of his victims. Unfortunately that may not happen until we make progress as ethical societies. That day may yet come. Heim's numerous victims who were rendered speechless in death, cry out for justice.
Justice is deathless. Ethical democracy to secure justice takes time and sincere, sustained effort.
The Arc of Justice........

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

— EthicalDemocracy, New York, NY
Uncovering Lost Path of the Most Wanted Nazi
New York Times copyright
by Jonathan Kandell,IHT article June 14, 2007 obit on Waldheim
International Herald Tribune copyright


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Change We Can Believe In? Or More of the Same?

Dowd is performing a public service, (long abandoned by the U.S. mainstream media during the W regime), by relentlessly holding Obama accountable from Day I. Can he walk the talk? "Change we can believe in" is rapidly but yet predictably, turning into disbelief, as Obama defended then feebly disavowed Daschle. The more they promise change .......

No doubt about it, ordinary folks and responsiblyindependent- minded, progressive columnists will have to shoulder the 4-year long responsibility of holding this new President (who doesn't have one ounce of prior executive experience and only meager legislative experience)to his lofty but eminently doable campaign promises.

Yes We can. Yes he must!

I voted Brand Obama over Brand McCain, with a healthy dose of skepticism, fully appreciating that civil society activism, not the elected leader alone, is key to the arduous but rewarding construction of ethical democracy.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

— EthicalDemocracy, New York, NY
Comment #68, February 04, 2008 8:04 a.m.
New York Times copyright

US & NATO Out Of South Asia

Tuesday, February 3, 2009
US and NATO out of South Asia
Lesson for Obama and the US:
Perhaps Obama will learn something new, (though that is unlikely), from this latest event in which so-called "militants" have allegedly severed the supply link for US-NATO forces by blowing up a bridge in the Swat Valley adjoining the Khyber Pass terrain (see Yahoo news copyrighted article, scroll below my post).

The US and NATO have NO role in South Asia. Zero, nyet, zilch, nada.

US-NATO forces have killed hundreds if not thousands of innocent Afghan and Pakistani civilians and falsely claimed they have killed "insurgents" or "militants."

Q. Your unmanned U.S. drone can spot an "insurgent" or "militant" from the air because they are wearing T for Taliban or Q for Qaeda T-shirts?

One does not have to be a supporter of the Taliban or Al Qaeda or a so-called "Jihadist" to fairly state that the US forces and NATO forces are in fact the major insurgents and militants in South Asia.

India, Pakistan and other nation-states have a choice. The regional politics of South Asia can be played out, with much trial and error, but mostly with open hearts and minds, by the primary stakeholders -- civil societies of sovereign nation-states of the geopolitical region of South Asia and through their one-state, one vote membership in the General Assembly (not the US-dominated limited-membership Security Council) of the United Nations. Or we can stupidly choose to have self-interested non-regional nation-states dictating and controlling our geopolitics. That's the choice facing South Asia.

Lesson for Pakistan: A vibrant Civil Society in Pakistan is Pakistan's only hope and it will do much to stabilize South Asia. Sixty years of growing state-sponsored terror on Pakistan soil has now backfired on Pakistan. When Pakistan's new leaders claim "we are victims of terror" they are right but not entirely factually accurate. That claim should be restated thus: "We, Pakistan, are victims of terror because the terror we grew on our soil for 60 years, with US help, and exported to Kashmir and Afghanistan has now turned back to bite us." As for Pakistan's leaders saying India should not engage in the "blame game", the question is: Is India NAMING Pakistan as a state sponsor of terror (with US complicity and financing)? Yes, it is.That is naming, not blaming. If the cap fits, Pakistan, wear it.

Lesson for India: That proposed Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline ain't never gonna work. It will be continually sabotaged, just like that bridge that was blow up today in the Swat Valley. The main reason the pipeline will not work is because the US does not want the pipeline, and will not allow the proposed pipeline to succeed. US policy in South Asia and West Asia is driven by anti-Russia, anti-Iran, anti-Palestine, pro-Israel, pro-Zionist expansionist militaristic and capitalistic market fundamentalism strategy to secure and privatize oil and natural gas resources throughout the world. The US is competing with both Iran and Russia for geopolitical influence and control over natural resources, in the South Asia and West Asia (inaccurately called The Middle East) regions.

So India, in terms of the proposed pipeline learn this lesson: Ditch it before you Pay for it. In fact Ditch it before you Build it. Maybe India can think about the pipeline again in five years, that is IF Afghanistan does not fall to the Taliban and Pakistan does not have a military coup, before then.

What India can do now (and it is a lot), is: Improve internal domestic and border and coastal surveillance to protect the people of India, their civil society and their cherished democratic and cultural institutions, by involving civil society , that means PEOPLE, civilians, citizens, residents, Bharat vasis,(not just the army, police and myopic foreign policy bureaucrats) in vigilance, surveillance and protection.

India, In terms of energy policy, Gain energy independence through funding and public-private partnering for green energy R&D in solar and wind sourcing. Exxon Mobil does not own the sun (yet), so India, use it. Go solar, go green, not nuclear.

As for national security, "If you see something say something" is a commonsense, proactive, preventive, pre-emptive, more cost-effective natural security strategy by every quantitative and qualitative measure, than rappeling commandos onto the roofs of hotels and religious and cultural centers in crowded urban areas, AFTER the state-sponsored terrorists have landed.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

New York Times copyright
Yahoo news copyright

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Suspected militants blew up a bridge in northwestern Pakistan's Khyber Pass on Tuesday, cutting the main route for supplies bound for Western forces in Afghanistan, Pakistani government officials said.

Separately, security forces killed at least 35 Taliban insurgents and wounded many others in an attack Monday night in the Swat Valley, northeast of the Kyber Pass, a military spokesman said.

Militants in northwestern Pakistan stepped up attacks on the road through the Khyber Pass, a crucial route into land-locked Afghanistan, last year in an attempt to deprive international forces fighting the Taliban of supplies trucked in from Pakistan.

The 30-meter (100-foot) iron bridge, 23 km (15 miles) west of the city of Peshawar, was blown up after midnight and administration officials said all traffic along the route was suspended.

"Militants blew up the bridge and it's going to take some time to fix it," said government official Rahat Gul. He declined to estimate how long it might take.

Guards are usually posted on heights above bridges on the road but it was not clear why they had been unable to stop the attack.

Militant attacks over recent months have disrupted supplies but the route had only been briefly closed twice since September.

The U.S. military and NATO's Afghan force have played down the impact of the attacks but nevertheless have been looking for alternative routes.

A NATO force spokesman in Kabul said he had no information about Tuesday's attack.

There are two routes through Pakistan into Afghanistan, one through the Khyber Pass to the border town of Torkham and on to Kabul. The other runs through Pakistan to the border town of Chaman and on to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

The U.S. Defense Department says the U.S. military sends 75 percent of supplies for the Afghan war through or over Pakistan, including 40 percent of the fuel for its troops.


Pakistani customs officials say about 300 trucks with Western force supplies travel through Torkham every day, compared with about 100 through the Chaman crossing.

With the U.S. military set to send thousands more soldiers to Afghanistan in coming months, perhaps nearly doubling the number to about 60,000, the need for reliable supply routes will become that much more vital.

The chief of the U.S. Central Command, General David Petraeus, said last month agreements had been reached for new routes into northern Afghanistan through Central Asian states and Russia. He did not give details.

In the Swat Valley, security forces pounded militants with artillery as they gathered to launch an attack, killing at least 35 of them, an officer in the military's information department said.

"We opened fire with artillery and mortars on credible information that a group of militants had gathered and was planning an attack in the dark," the officer said.

There was no independent verification of the casualty estimate.

The scenic Swat valley, only 130 km (80 miles) northwest of the capital Islamabad, and not on the Afghan border, was until recently one of Pakistan's prime tourist destinations.

Now the valley is on the front line of the country's struggle against Islamist militancy and has become a test of the government's resolve to check the spread of the Taliban.

(Reporting by Ibrahim Shinwari and Junaid Khan; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Jerry Norton)

Monday, February 2, 2009

US: Sponsor of Terror & De-stabilizer of Sovereign Nation-States

February 2nd, 2009 5:44 am

My Comment #44 to an article in the NYTimes (see link below, NYTimes copyright)

Roger Cohen and the New York Times should consider themselves fortunate to be allowed to report from Iran.

First, there is no "other Iran" as Cohen asserts. WYSIWYG.

Cohen whitewashes the UK-US role in destabilizing the Iranian govt. and the balance of power in Iranian domestic politics, when they jointly deposed the brilliant nationalist and popularly elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mosadegh in a 1953 coup. That blatant interference in the liberation politics of a post-colonial nation-state ( to overturn Mosadegh's policy of nationalization of Iran's petroleum resources),has triggered the consequent and subsequent political trajectory of Iran in international politics.
Iran has the right to act in its own national and regional interests. Iran was a founding member of the Group of 15 in the Non Aligned Movement of newly liberated nation-states, a group whose principles of peaceful co-existence were articulated by India's Jawaharlal Nehru and which group was arrogantly disparaged as late as last year in New Delhi (how diplomatic) by your erstwhile Secretary of State, Condolezza Rice.
Iran has the right to develop nuclear weapons to protect herself against the only user of nuclear weapons, as well as to develop nuclear energy for peaceful civilian uses.
Iran is a sovereign nation-state with a proud and ancient civilization and a force in the growing multipolarity of world politics.

Let the US learn from its own egregious unforced errors of policy and political judgment in Iran or be condemned to repeat them, at heavy cost to the US.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

— EthicalDemocracy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

see link:
New York Times copyright

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Science & Ethical Democracy

A recent article on Science (see link below) prompted some thoughts I have about Science & Ethical Democracy. I would like to tentatively assert that Ethical Democracy is the proper context for the pursuit of multiple truths, both scientific and religious.

Religion and Science are and always have been central preoccupations of Self, Society, Technology, Progress and Civilization, no matter whether such society is arbitrarily defined as "primitive" or "modern", "simple" or "complex".

Religion has its origin in the feeling of AWE in the presence of Nature. Science has its Origin in activities of INQUIRY about Nature.

Science demands EVIDENCE and PROOF. Religion on the other hand depends on FAITH and BELIEF.
Without EVIDENCE and PROOF there is no SCIENCE.
Without FAITH and BELIEF there is no RELIGION.

That admirable multidimensional scientist and probably religious believer, the late great Stephen Jay Gould observed that science and religion are "non-overlapping magisteria." How aptly grand his choice of words to describe humynkind's two overriding preoccupations.

Contrary to the assertion in the article linked below, Science is NOT engaged in the pursuit of TRUTH, whatever that may be. Instead Science is engaged in the examination of EVIDENCE and evolving (not fixed) conclusions (PROOF) based upon that specific evidence. Similarly, RELIGION is also not engaged in the search for TRUTH, whatever that may be. Those who consider themselves religious or spiritual or who subscribe to the belief of a Supreme Agency, are not interested in TRUTH but on keeping FAITH and maintaining BELIEF that such Supreme Agency exists.

But by placing TRUTH outside of the purview of both Science and Religion, I have given myself the task of trying to identify TRUTH in its location in lived practices of the SELF in SOCIETY.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

New York Times article
by Dennis Oberbye
Elevating Science Elevating Democracy

Stephen Jay Gould on Science and Religion
Nonoverlapping Magisteria