Links for Dec 3rd, 2008: After the Smoke Has Cleared

Hi from Philadelphia, PA.

Blasphemous bras, heretical heels, yoga and me,” a funny opinion piece by Julia Suryakusuma for The Jakarta Post (Dec. 3, 2008) on a not-funny subject:

Yesterday morning I woke up early as usual and got ready for my early morning meditational yoga. It’s something I’ve been doing since 1981, clearing my mind and reinvigorating myself for the day ahead. It’s like getting your cell phone recharged, as simple as that.

But then I remembered reading that the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) is thinking of issuing a fatwa declaring yoga haram (forbidden), inspired by the Malaysian National Fatwa Council which has declared yoga haram because it “goes against the teachings of Islam”. Well, Malaysia is our sister country and they’ve done us the honor of imitating so many Indonesian things — batik, songs, language, even food! It’s understandable we should reciprocate.

To distract us from all the doom and gloom, check out Twinkle, twinkle little star (Desi style). This is funny only if you are a desi.; furriners will not get the joke. (Thanks to Prakash Advani for the link.)

But now back to the terror attack on Mumbai. WSJ published a very well written piece on Dec 1st which concisely reports the sequence of events as they were known then.

Pieced together from interviews with dozens of witnesses and officials, this account of the three days of the battle for Mumbai shows just how a small but ruthless group of skilled militants, attacking multiple targets in quick succession, managed to bring one of the world’s largest cities to its knees. The human toll — currently at 174 fatalities, including nine terrorists — was exacerbated by the Indian authorities’ lack of preparedness for such a major attack. But the chain of events also points to just how vulnerable any major city can be to this type of urban warfare.

It is worth reading, and reading soon before it disappears behind a subscription wall.

Here are pictures from The Big Picture on “Mumbai after the smoke has cleared.”

Tragedy and Farce — Part 2

{Continued from part 1.}

In the ultimate analysis, ideas matter. Ideas are what distinguishes humans from all known forms of terrestial living beings. The differences one observes in the development of various societies ultimately boil down to the set of ideas that a society developes, borrows, adopts, adapts, and uses. Ideas as embodied in the institutions and mores of society ultimately dictate how prosperous it is. A set of ideas that persist and pervade the collective consciousness of a society can be called an ideology. After controlling for all other factors such as natural endowments and accidents of history, the state of development and prospects of growth of a society (and therefore its economy) are fundamentally and inextricably tied to the dominant ideology of that society.
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Tragedy and Farce — Part 1

Cyclic Tragedy and Farce

Perhaps we need to update Marx’s idea of history that it “repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce” to suit the history of terrorism in India where each cyclic repetition consists of a brutal tragedy immediately followed by a hopeless farce.

The script is tiresomely familiar. Islamic terrorists attack and kill by the scores, if not hundreds, in acts of mindless mayhem and destruction. Even as the short tragedy is unfolding, the farce begins with the prime minister and other government officials declaring that they will punish the perpetrators. That gives way to so-called “secular intellectuals” quickly justifying the horror by pointing out that we need to understand the conditions that motivated the Islamic terrorists to go on a killing-spree of infidels – namely, poverty and discrimination against the followers of the celebrated Religion of Peace.
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