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Showing posts from October, 2010

China makes Chinese; Indians make India

When does a small town grow up and become a big boy? Does size matter? Geography is a peculiar addiction. Fat makes you large, possibly very large, but it does not make you strong. Some nations have a quarter of their population herded in slums extending in myriad directions because they have not created the capacity to build more cities. America's strength does not lie in New York and Washington but in the fact that Microsoft can be born in Seattle and the world's software industry is controlled from a desert in California. India was weak as long as its strength lay in the traditional four great cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. These urban sprawls became sores instead of cities as the poor flocked toward them, driven by unrealistic hopes. It is only logical that all four were British cities. Chennai was seeded by an English adventurer who wanted to live within riding distance of his local girl friend; Mumbai harbour came as part of the dowry of Charles II and was t…

Nature's sting: The real cost of damaging Planet Earth

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You don't have to be an environmentalist to care about protecting the Earth's wildlife. Just ask a Chinese fruit farmer who now has to pay people to pollinate apple trees because there are no longer enough bees to do the job for free. And it's not just the number of bees that is dwindling rapidly - as a direct result of human activity, species are becoming extinct at a rate 1,000 times greater than the natural average. The Earth's natural resources are also suffering. In the past few decades alone, 20% of the oceans' coral reefs have been destroyed, with a further 20% badly degraded or under serious threat of collapse, while tropical forests equivalent in size to the UK are cut down every two years. These statistics, and the many more just like them, impact on everyone, for the very simple reason that we will all end up footing the bill. Costing nature

Drivers of biodiversity lossLand use change - for example cutting down forests that provide essential water regulation, f…

Forget Ram, Worship Bhola

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The socialist courts of India have delivered their verdict on the title suit to the "disputed land" in Ayodhya in a highly predictable manner - in that the verdict seems to be "politically correct": the land is to be divided in three parts, and, presumably, all sides to the dispute will be happy. Of course, there will be appeals to the Supreme Court, and matters could drag on endlessly. I liked Vir Sanghvi's comments on this vexed isuue, available here. He says, most importantly: ...the real history of Ayodhya does not begin with the property dispute. It begins with the Rath Yatra and with the BJP’s decision to re-invent itself as the party of Ram. When L.K. Advani went on his Rath Yatra, his position was simple and clearly enunciated: millions of Hindus believe that Lord Ram was born on this site. It is, therefore, one of the most sacred spots in Hinduism. Do read the entire piece; it is well worth it. What is my take on the matter? One, that this is ugly BJP…