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MalalaMalala is right about women’s education. This little girl eloquently says what we all should agree on- that girls need to be educated. She’s even been attacked for saying something that has such strong roots within Islam.

Had it not been that Aisha (RA) was a scholar or that Fatima (RA) was a scholar, we would not have known explanations of many verses in the Qur’an.

Malala deserves to be lauded within our community.

Why the West is so excited about her struggle and her suffering, is an entirely different matter.

The suffering of Malala will be used again and again to kill her fellow citizens and fellow Muslims- her brothers and sisters. Her story will be told every time a bomb is dropped from drones, and more hearts stop beating.

Drone attacks that played a part in creating the TTP.

In every newspaper, every TV channel, whenever Malala comes up, pundits shake their heads at the brutality of the TTP- an organization that their government planted the seeds of in the 80′s.

A very close parallel is the brave Malalai Joya, who’s been touted before as the voice of Afghan women when she condemned the Taliban. As soon as she started demanding West withdraw from her country, Western media started ignoring her.

Malala Yusufzai can make sure she will be heard, loud and clear, if she goes up to that podium and says no thank you.

We have heard of the sprinkling of reports about stores named Hitler, and the utter surprise that generates in Western observers. India, after all, is a diverse multicultural democracy. Hitler goes as well with it as sushi goes with curry.

At least on the surface.

Hitler has had a long and chequered posthumous life in India. Even during the second World War, the thinkers in the Indian National Congress (Party) sought to distance themselves from the Allies (Quit India movement messed up the British pretty good.) The doers, however, wanted to go further. They wanted an open alliance with Axis. Driver of this train of thought was Netaji (Dear Leader) Subhash Bose. He fled British imposed house arrest to Germany and sought a tete a tete with the Fuhrer. The Fuhrer however was not very impressed by this darker Aryan, but agreed to ship submarine him off to Japan. Subhash had better luck in Japan in persuading the imperial government to free British-Indian soldiers under his command to fight the British.

He led his `Indian National Army’ to push the British Army back from Burma to eastern borders of India and wrested the Andaman and Nicober Island from the British. Then Japan became too stretched to supply him. Nobody knows what happened to him.

Subhash is still hailed as a hero in India. He is quite a hot-potato in higher echelons of power- they have to maintain friendly relations with the former Allied powers but disowning him is political suicide.

The recently deceased Bal Thakerey, whose death brought Mumbai to standstill (complaining about it could land you in Jail, as Shaheen Dhada found out) and whose funeral was attended by hundreds of thousands, said to Time magazine- “There is nothing wrong, if Muslims are treated as Jews were in Nazi Germany.”

He would say such a thing. His ideological background- the Hindutva movement- is laced with Nazi influence. Savarkar, one of the founding fathers of the movement, wrote of his admiration of Hitler- how Hitler gave the Germans a sense of identity and pride. Savarkar even defended his treatment of Jews. Savarkar’s followers, now ardent admirers of Israel1, defend him by saying that he didn’t know what actually was being done to the Jews. Then they will go on to prescribe nuking Mecca. There are quite a few of such prescriptions on youtube.

Dilip D’Souza writes for The Daily Beast2-

Of 25 students in the class, 9 picked Adolf Hitler, making him easily the highest vote-getter in this particular exercise [to name an admirable person]; a certain Mohandas Gandhi was the choice of precisely one student. Discussing the idea of courage with other students once, my wife was startled by the contempt they had for Gandhi. “He was a coward!” they said. And as far back as 2002, the Times of India reported a survey that found that 17 percent of students in elite Indian colleges “favored Adolf Hitler as the kind of leader India ought to have.”

Indeed, Hindutva inspired Bharatiya Janata Party is the second largest party in India. Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, widely believed to have overseen killing of nearly two thousand Muslims and the displacement of hundreds of thousands more, is the leading candidate for the BJP. In BJP ruled state of Orissa Christian converts who seek to escape the caste system are marauded like clockwork every year during Christmas.

If the West remains oblivious to the menace this (possibly the most successful proto-fascist movement of modern times according to University of Chicago professor Martha Nussbaum) poses, it is headed for a surprise

AlJazeera’s coverage of the events have been arguably one of the best. However.

Has anybody else noticed that AlJazeera English stopped inviting As’ad Abu Khalil to comment on their programs after he criticized them about their Libya reports?

That’s notable because the ‘Arab Spring’ has been the focus of AJE’s reporting for the last three months.

And As’ad is right. AJE seems to rally with a certain agenda.

For example, it seems to sell the youth movements over other strands. In Egypt, when the referendum was up for votes, although it was clear most people there liked the referendum, AJE framed it in a way that put focus on the youth groups who were opposed to a yes vote (because they wanted a more drastic change in the constitution.)

The over-emphasis on social networking was annoying, because internet penetration in Tunisia (~30%) is quite low. Even less in Egypt (~20%). Why was the emphasis on English speaking affluent Facebook users, while somewhat downplaying  labour movements etc?

Similarly, AlJazeera seems to completely ignore support base that Gaddafi has in and out of Libya. They never reported on the laudable social programs that Gaddafi implemented- for example free education and free healthcare(1). Libya has a low GINI index (~36) which means less income inequality than most countries. AlJazeera never cared to report.

They also seemed to cheer the Western powers into invading Libya, whereas if they reported on the misgivings people have about another Western invasion, perhaps UN would mandate the neighboring Arab/Muslim countries to take action(2).

Even worse, AlJazeera barely mentioned the attacks on blacks in Libya by racist mobs and the lynchings that took place. Similarly, the attacks by some Bahrainis on South Asians got no attention at all.

They cold shouldered African Union when they expressed concern about the Western involvement, and also when offered to intervene to reach a deal.

I am not even sure that the ‘rebels’ in Libya are genuine about change. Despite all their bravado when facing the camera, they fled their posts when facing guns. That’s not the trademark of a desperate population, that’s the behaviour of rich who want others to fight for them. The situation only improved after Egyptian, British and some other special forces were seen on the ground.

And what was the “where are you Sarkozy” call (from some ‘rebels’) about? I have serious misgivings about who these Libyan ‘rebels’ are.

I think these issues can be understood when we recognize that AlJazeera is really a pan-Arab news channel that has a deep admiration for the West. That’s not unhealthy, but it’s important to keep in mind.

Notes:

1. The way Gaddafi treated criticism can not and should not be defended, but that is the only thing that gets covered.

2. When there was reports of the crackdown in Libya, I was hoping for some kind of intervention from it’s neighbors. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey, even. It was naive to assume that the Western powers will let that happen. They like to ‘seize the initiative’, i.e. they want to be there and directing events wherever and whenever they can on whatever excuse they can find.

GDP of a country gives some idea about how well it is doing in terms of production. In the last two centuries, Western economies overwhelmed others by far.

In the 1950s, US and Europe combined made up 60% of world economy. That’s not counting Canada, Mexico and Australia.

If we look at the fractional share of US+major European countries over the last four decades:

GDP of the US and Europe as fraction of world GDP

We see that their share has been falling over the years. From 62% in the early ’70s, to about 47% now.

So who’s gaining?

There’s a lot of talk about the so-called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries. These countries are supposedly rising stars in the world economy- and have seen unprecedented economic rise. Let’s see if that’s true.

Here is BRIC’s share of world economy over the years:

Fraction of world GDP controlled by the BRIC countries

So it did indeed go up from about 8% of world economy to about 16% now. Impressive.

However, it’s not the whole picture. Let’s examine each of the countries separately. First, Brazil-

Brazil’s GDP divided by the GDP of the world

Brazil has seen a steady rise in the last decade in it’s share of world economy. It now commands about 2.7% of world economy, not very unlike it’s share in 1996 (2.9%), 1982 (2.7%), and 1976 (2.6%). So its position now is by no means “unprecedented.”

Next, Russia:

Russia’s share of world GDP

Russia saw a steady decline in it’s share of world economy through the ’90s. It has recovered it’s strength of the early ’90s now. It had 2.5% of world economy in 1990, now it has about 2.7% too.

What about India?

Indian economy as a Fraction of world GDP

We can see that India has seen a steady rise in it’s share of world economy from the ’90s from about 1% to 2.2% now. But it’s nowhere near it’s best days in the early ’60s share of 3.5%. (Note that we fought two major wars right around that time- with China and Pakistan, and focus shifted from development to armament.)

So, as you’ve guessed, among the BRIC countries only one that has seen real unprecedented rise is China. Here is how it’s share of world economy have changed over the years from a mere 2% to about 7% over the last two decades. It is interesting to note that it had a share of world economy similar to India in the ’60s. Now China’s economy is four times that of India’s.

China’s GDP/world GDP.

But that’s not all. Here is the total share of the major Muslim economies in the world (Turkey + Indonesia + Malaysia + Saudi Arabia + UAE + Qatar + Pakistan + Bangladesh + Libya + Algeria + Kazakhstan).

Fractional share of Muslim economies in the world (total gdp of Muslim countries/world gdp)

That goes up from a baseline of approximately 2.7% in the ’90s to 5% (and rising) now.

This list includes Kazakhstan (became free only in 1991) and Bangladesh (created in 1971). Excluding Kazakhstan, and Bangladesh we see the following:

Fractional share of Muslim economies in the world (Excl. Kazakhstan and Bangladesh)

Therefore, Muslim economies have yet to reach the share they had in the ’80s, in spite of their rise in the last decade. I can only hope and pray that their growth will not be stifled this time. Ameen.

It would be good to know the causes and be able to make some predictions.

Data is from Wolfram Alpha.

There are three factors driving crude prices higher.

1. NATO led War against Libya means a major supplier is unable to supply any oil.

2. Nuclear crisis in Japan makes people nervous about future of nuclear energy- especially in earthquake prone regions.

But that’s not all.

3. Production of oil in the US are low. The stockpile (reserve) is at their 25 year low. Keeping in mind US is the biggest oil importer by far, it is natural that oil prices will go up.

Oil is keeping around 120. Hopefully it’ll stay there for some time (a month or so) before starting to climb again. That’s because if it sees a spike, it’ll fall back to 120 if the baseline is established there, and not to 90.

We in the “third world” buy locally grown food, travel in public transport, save on electricity- and that makes our economies much more fuel efficient and robust against rise in oil prices. Only high prices of oil will force the “developed” countries to change their habits and become civilized. Otherwise they’ll blame us when their CO2 causes Bangladesh to sink under the sea.

Secondly, a high price of oil will cause the West’s hegemony to lose grip, iA.

I feel the pinch too, but we should be able to rise above saving a hundred (rupees) or two if that causes the poor to sink under the sea.

The websites typically use archaic technology, and proprietary fonts. So bengali news-sites do not work with my system by default (Ubuntu Linux).

However, now that I am fishing for interesting news for TwoCircles.net for the election season as a volunteer, I needed to fix that problem. And AH, fixes were close at hand.

For Aajkaal.net, and Bartaman, all one needs to do is to go to their help pages and download and install the true type fonts. It’s very simple, really. Just browse to this page, click on the two links for the .ttf files, on the download dialog box, choose to open with font installer, and then click install. Then go to the homepages and refresh the page with F5.

Anandabazar patrika is a bit different. To be able to see their page, you will need an extension called Padma which is available for both firefox and chrome.

Oil is now selling at $126 a barrel (at London Brent.) If it keeps going too high, leaving moving average (average price of a barrel for the past few days) too far behind, then people will expect price to fall, sooner or later. Sale will slow down, market will be oversupplied- leading to a precipitous fall in prices.

In that light, it is my sincere hope that oil price does not spike upwards, but keeps rising at a steady rate.

Now here is why I am cheering high prices of oil-

1. Oil is undervalued. Like gold, we have only a finite supply of it. Unlike gold, we are using it up at an ever accelerating rate. The price must go up for the consumption to slow down.

2. Burning fossil fuel is one of the leading causes for global warming. High prices of oil will force leading emitters to change their habit. Mere preaching has had no effect so far.

3. High price of oil will level the playing field for developed and developing countries. Developing countries are much more fuel efficient (Widespread public transport etc.) and are much more frugal about spending energy.

The rich countries, on the other hand, have built their system on cheap/stolen oil. As all oversupplied economies do, they are horribly inefficient in terms of energy usage. A high price of oil will  force them to become more energy efficient- something the poor countries have already got.

4. After trillions of new dollars (printed out of thin air as bailout money), the value of the dollar ought to be on the decline.

Etc. etc.

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