“A choice wrapped in the flag is no choice”

Sandip Roy on the tendency of some to drag the army into the ongoing debate on nationalism, patriotism, and other such isms that Samuel Johnson famously termed the “last refuge of the scoundrel”:

It’s a false choice. Having reservations about the way Afzal Guru was hanged or concerns about the judicial process does not mean support for an attack on Parliament. But a choice wrapped in the flag is not a choice at all. It’s an ultimatum, a line in the sand.

Read the piece in its entirety.


Don’t drag the army into this dirty game


Armies and the man

Oh these textbooks!

Minister for Human Resources Development Smriti Irani, the other day, was visibly outraged by the nature of textbooks in use in our schools (well, actually, in the instance that incensed her to the point of fury, the textbook concerned was not in use — but let’s not go into trivialities now).

I am in absolute, complete agreement with the minister. Seriously, the kind of utter rubbish we force-feed the young with is a national disgrace. As for example (and please ignore the execrable grammar):

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Study! Don’t do politics! Nonsense!!

“Why are they getting into politics? If they are interested in politics, they can leave studies and join politics. Simple. Join your favourite party,” Mr Naidu said, also pointing out that Kanhaiya Kumar’s “favourite party is not even in single digit in Parliament.”

Thus, Venkaiah Naidu. Again, a common trope these days: These students should be studying, why are they getting into politics, what nonsense is this?

If someone in authority had said this four decades ago — *says he on a wistful note* — we would never have had to endure a Venkaiah Naidu. From his wiki entry:

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The art of causing floods

A timely — or maybe not timely, since the ship seems to have upped anchor — warning for Delhi:

An NGT-appointed panel in its report has mentioned, “The entire area of the floodplain between River Yamuna and DND Flyover has been levelled flat and on the western side of the river — 50 to 60 hectares of floodplain have been completely destroyed. Natural vegetation comprising reeds, shrubs, trees etc has been completely removed. A large number of birds and other natural life on the floodplain have vanished.”

Manoj Misra, convener, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, an NGO working for the restoration of the River Yamuna, said: “Vegetation on the soil is extremely important, especially on floodplains. The ground vegetation is the lifeline of floodplains. Absence of it will certainly cause floods. One won’t be surprised if the low-lying areas of east Delhi get flooded or even a larger area.”

How flood will be caused?

– The levelling and compacting of the floodplain would reduce its water absorbing capacity by 35 to 40 percent. As a result, the rest 60 percent of water will run off to adjoining low areas causing flood.
– The bush, reeds, shrubs, marsh etc helps in water-absorption due to the roots. As this vegetation has its own absorptive capacity, the flood situation will aggravate.
– Groundwater recharging capacity will drastically decrease.
– If heavy rain takes place, the extra water will flow into the residential areas.

From a FirstPost piece on Art of Living’s upcoming World Culture Festival.

The quality of “debate”

The headline writers of national papers seem unanimous — they all cite Narendra Modi’s quoting of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi as the main talking point from his speech in Parliament yesterday.

The specific section that seems to have caught the imagination is this:

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An American and a Russian walked into a bar…

…and began to discuss freedom in their respective countries. “In the US,” said the American, “we are so free, I can walk right up to the steps of the White House and call President Kennedy a fool.”

“So what?,” says the Russian, “we in the USSR are equally free — I can walk right up to the steps of the White House and call President Kennedy a fool, too.”

The tenor of reactions from one side of the political divide to Kanhaiya Kumar’s release on bail reminds me of that joke. There are many examples; I’ll cite just one — which I picked because it contains much of what is being bandied about on social media.

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