Archive for November, 2009

Is China headed toward collapse?

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29330.html

Is China headed toward collapse?
The conventional wisdom in Washington and in most of the rest of the world is that the roaring Chinese economy is going to pull the global economy out of recession and back into growth. It’s China’s turn, the theory goes, as American consumers — who propelled the last global boom with their borrowing and spending ways — have begun to tighten their belts and increase savings rates.
The Chinese, with their unbridled capitalistic expansion propelled by a system they still refer to as “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” are still thriving, though, with annual gross domestic product growth of 8.9 percent in the third quarter and a domestic consumer market just starting to flex its enormous muscles.
That’s prompted some cheerleading from U.S. officials, who want to see those Chinese consumers begin to pick up the slack in the global economy — a theme President Barack Obama and his delegation are certain to bring up during next week’s visit to China.
“Purchases of U.S. consumers cannot be as dominant a driver of growth as they have been in the past,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said during a trip to Beijing this spring. “In China, … growth that is sustainable will require a very substantial shift from external to domestic demand, from an investment and export-intensive growth to growth led by consumption.”
That’s one vision of the future.
But there’s a growing group of market professionals who see a different picture altogether. These self-styled China bears take the less popular view: that the much-vaunted Chinese economic miracle is nothing but a paper dragon. In fact, they argue that the Chinese have dangerously overheated their economy, building malls, luxury stores and infrastructure for which there is almost no demand, and that the entire system is teetering toward collapse.
A Chinese collapse, of course, would have profound effects on the United States, limiting China’s ability to buy U.S. debt and provoking unknown political changes inside the Chinese regime.
The China bears could be dismissed as a bunch of cranks and grumps except for one member of the group: hedge fund investor Jim Chanos.
Chanos, a billionaire, is the founder of the investment firm Kynikos Associates and a famous short seller — an investor who scrutinizes companies looking for hidden flaws and then bets against those firms in the market.
His most famous call came in 2001, when Chanos was one of the first to figure out that the accounting numbers presented to the public by Enron were pure fiction. Chanos began contacting Wall Street investment houses that were touting Enron’s stock. “We were struck by how many of them conceded that there was no way to analyze Enron but that investing in Enron was, instead, a ‘trust me’ story,” Chanos told a congressional committee in 2002.
Now, Chanos says he has found another “trust me” story: China. And he is moving to short the entire nation’s economy. Washington policymakers would do well to understand his argument, because if he’s right, the consequences will be felt here.
Chanos and the other bears point to several key pieces of evidence that China is heading for a crash.
First, they point to the enormous Chinese economic stimulus effort — with the government spending $900 billion to prop up a $4.3 trillion economy. “Yet China’s economy, for all the stimulus it has received in 11 months, is underperforming,” Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” wrote in Forbes at the end of October. “More important, it is unlikely that [third-quarter] expansion was anywhere near the claimed 8.9 percent.”
Chang argues that inconsistencies in Chinese official statistics — like the surging numbers for car sales but flat statistics for gasoline consumption — indicate that the Chinese are simply cooking their books. He speculates that Chinese state-run companies are buying fleets of cars and simply storing them in giant parking lots in order to generate apparent growth.
Another data point cited by the bears: overcapacity. For example, the Chinese already consume more cement than the rest of the world combined, at 1.4 billion tons per year. But they have dramatically ramped up their ability to produce even more in recent years, leading to an estimated spare capacity of about 340 million tons, which, according to a report prepared earlier this year by Pivot Capital Management, is more than the consumption in the U.S., India and Japan combined.
This, Chanos and others argue, is happening in sector after sector in the Chinese economy. And that means the Chinese are in danger of producing huge quantities of goods and products that they will be unable to sell.
The Pivot Capital report was extremely popular in Chanos’s office and concluded, “We believe the coming slowdown in China has the potential to be a similar watershed event for world markets as the reversal of the U.S. subprime and housing boom.”
And the bears also keep a close eye on anecdotal reports from the ground level in China, like a recent posting on a blog called The Peking Duck about shopping at Beijing’s “stunningly dysfunctional, catastrophic mall, called The Place.”
“I was shocked at what I saw,” the blogger wrote. “Fifty percent of the eateries in the basement were boarded up. The cheap food court, too, was gone, covered up with ugly blue boarding, making the basement especially grim and dreary. … There is simply too much stuff, too many stores and no buyers.”

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Yoga at the speed of Light- By Linda Johnsen

Yoga at the speed of Light- By Linda Johnsen Courtesy & copyright Yoga International

It is amazing how much Western science has taught us. Today, for example, kids in grammar school learn that the sun is 93 million miles from the earth and that the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. Yoga may teach us about our Higher Self, but it can’t supply this kind of information about physics or astronomy.

Or can it? Professor Subhash Kak of Louisiana State University recently called my attention to a remarkable statement by Sayana, a fourteenth century Indian scholar. In his commentary on a hymn in the Rig Veda, the oldest and perhaps most mystical text ever composed in India, Sayana has this to say: “With deep respect, I bow to the sun, who travels 2,202 yojanas in half a nimesha.”

A yojana is about nine American miles; a nimesha is 16/75 of a second. Mathematically challenged readers, get out your calculators!

2,202 yojanas x 9 miles x 75/8 nimeshas = 185,794 m.p.s.

Basically, Sayana is saying that sunlight travels at 186,000 miles per second! How could a Vedic scholar who died in 1387 A.D. have known the correct figure for the speed of light? If this was just a wild guess it’s the most amazing coincidence in the history of science!

The yoga tradition is full of such coincidences. Take for instance the mala many yoga students wear around their neck. Since these rosaries are used to keep track of the number of mantras a person is repeating, students often ask why they have 108 beads instead of 100. Part of the reason is that the mala represent the ecliptic, the path of the sun and moon across the sky. Yogis divide the ecliptic into 27 equal sections called nakshatras, and each of these into four equal sectors called paadas, or “steps,” marking the 108 steps that the sun and moon take through heaven.

Each is associated with a particular blessing force, with which you align yourself as you turn the beads.

Traditionally, yoga students stop at the 109th “guru bead,” flip the mala around in their hand, and continue reciting their mantra as they move backward through the beads. The guru bead represents the summer and winter solstices, when the sun appears to stop in its course and reverse directions. In the yoga tradition we learn that we’re deeply interconnected with all of nature. Using a mala is a symbolic way of connecting ourselves with the cosmic cycles governing our universe.

But Professor Kak points out yet another coincidence: The distance between the earth and the sun is approximately 108 times the sun’s diameter. The diameter of the sun is about 108 times the earth’s diameter. And the distance between the earth and the moon is 108 times the moon’s diameter.

Could this be the reason the ancient sages considered 108 such a sacred number? If the microcosm (us) mirrors the macrocosm (the solar system), then maybe you could say there are 108 steps between our ordinary human awareness and the divine light at the center of our being. Each time we chant another mantra as our mala beads slip through our fingers, we are taking another step toward our own inner sun.

As we read through ancient Indian texts, we find so much the sages of antiquity could not possibly have known-but did. While our European and Middle Eastern ancestors claimed that the universe was created about 6,000 years ago, the yogis have always maintained that our present cosmos is billions of years old, and that it’s just one of many such universes which have arisen and dissolved in the vastness of eternity.

In fact the Puranas, encyclopedias of yogic lore thousands of years old, describe the birth of our solar system out of a “milk ocean,” the Milky Way. Through the will of the Creator, they tell us, a vortex shaped like a lotus arose from the navel of eternity. It was called Hiranya Garbha, the shining womb. It gradually coalesced into our world, but will perish some day billions of years hence when the sun expands to many times it present size, swallowing all life on earth. In the end, the Puranas say, the ashes of the earth will be blown into space by the cosmic wind. Today we known this is a scientifically accurate, if poetic, description of the fate of our planet.

The Surya Siddhanta is the oldest surviving astronomical text in the Indian tradition. Some Western scholars date it to perhaps the fifth or sixth centuries A.D., though the next itself claims to represent a tradition much, much older. It explains that the earth is shaped like a ball, and states that at the very opposite side of the planet from India is a great city where the sun is rising at the same time it sets in India. In this city, the Surya Siddhanta claims, lives a race of siddhas, or advanced spiritual adepts. If you trace the globe of the earth around to the exact opposite side of India, you’ll find Mexico. Is it possible that the ancient Indians were well aware of the great sages/astronomers of Central America many centuries before Columbus discovered America?- the Mayans or Inca-s!!!

Knowing the unknowable: To us today it seems impossible that the speed of light or the fate of our solar system could be determined without advanced astronomical instruments. -as Sanjee argues!!

How could the writers of old Sanskrit texts have known the unknowable? In searching for an explanation we first need to understand that these ancient scientists were not just intellectuals, they were practicing yogis. The very first lines of the Surya Siddhanta, for of the Golden Age a great astronomer named Maya desired to learn the secrets of the heavens, so he first performed rigorous yogic practices. Then the answers to his questions appeared in his mind in an intuitive flash.

Does this sound unlikely? Yoga Sutra 3:26-28 states that through, samyama (concentration, meditation, and unbroken mental absorption) on the sun, moon, and pole star, we can gain knowledge of the planets and stars. Sutra 3:33 clarifies, saying: “Through keenly developed intuition, everything can be known.” Highly developed intuition is called pratibha in yoga. It is accessible only to those who have completely stilled their mind, focusing their attention on one object with laser-like intensity. Those who have limited their mind are no longer limited to the fragments of knowledge supplied by the five senses. All knowledge becomes accessible to them.

“There are [those] who would say that consciousness, acting on itself, can find universal knowledge,” Professor Kak admits. “In fact this is the traditional Indian view.”

Perhaps the ancient sages didn’t need advanced astronomical instruments. After all, they had yoga.

The medium, message and the money – P Sainath

The medium, message and the money
P. Sainath

http://beta.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article38482.ece

PTI Elderly voters on their their way to the polling station during the Assembly elections at Karad in Maharashtra.
The Assembly elections saw the culture of “coverage packages” explode across Maharashtra. In many cases, a candidate just had to pay for almost any coverage at all.
C. Ram Pandit can now resume his weekly column. Dr. Pandit (name changed) had long been writing for a well-known Indian language newspaper in Maharashtra. On the last day for the withdrawal of nominations to the recent State Assembly elections, he found himself sidelined. An editor at the paper apologised to him saying: “Panditji, your columns will resume after October 13. Till then, every page in this paper is sold.” The editor, himself an honest man, was simply speaking the truth.
In the financial orgy that marked the Maharashtra elections, the media were never far behind the moneybags. Not all sections of the media were in this mode, but quite a few. Not just small local outlets, but powerful newspapers and television channels, too. Many candidates complained of “extortion” but were not willing to make an issue of it for fear of drawing media fire. Some senior journalists and editors found themselves profoundly embarrassed by their managements. “The media have been the biggest winners in these polls,” says one ruefully. “In this period alone,” says another, “they’ve more than bounced back from the blows of the ‘slowdown’ and done so in style.” Their poll-period take is estimated to be in hundreds of millions of rupees. Quite a bit of this did not come as direct advertising but in packaging a candidate’s propaganda as “news.”
The Assembly elections saw the culture of “coverage packages” explode across the State. In many cases, a candidate just had to pay for almost any coverage at all. Issues didn’t come into it. No money, no news. This effectively shut out smaller parties and independent voices with low assets and resources. It also misled viewers and readers by denying them any mention of the real issues some of these smaller forces raised. The Hindu reported on this (April 7, 2009) during the Lok Sabha elections, where sections of the media were offering low-end “coverage packages” for Rs.15 lakh to Rs.20 lakh. “High-end” ones cost a lot more. The State polls saw this go much further.
None of this, as some editors point out, is new. However, the scale is new and stunning. The brazenness of it (both ways) quite alarming. And the game has moved from the petty personal corruption of a handful of journalists to the structured extraction of huge sums of money by media outfits. One rebel candidate in western Maharashtra, calculates an editor from that region, spent Rs.1 crore “on just local media alone.” And, points out the editor, “he won, defeating the official candidate of his party.”
The deals were many and varied. A candidate had to pay different rates for ‘profiles,’ interviews, a list of ‘achievements,’ or even a trashing of his rival in some cases. (With the channels, it was “live” coverage, a ‘special focus,’ or even a team tracking you for hours in a day.) Let alone bad-mouthing your rival, this “pay-per” culture also ensures that the paper or channel will not tell its audiences that you have a criminal record. Over 50 per cent of the MLAs just elected in Maharashtra have criminal charges pending against them. Some of them featured in adulatory “news items” which made no mention of this while tracing their track record.
At the top end of the spectrum, “special supplements” cost a bomb. One put out by one of the State’s most important politicians — celebrating his “era” — cost an estimated Rs.1.5 crore. That is, just this single media insertion cost 15 times what he is totally allowed to spend as a candidate. He has won more than the election, by the way.
One common low-end package: Your profile and “four news items of your choice” to be carried for between Rs.4 lakh or more depending on which page you seek. There is something chilling about those words “news items of your choice.” Here is news on order. Paid for. (Throw in a little extra and a writer from the paper will help you draft your material.) It also lent a curious appearance to some newspaper pages. For instance, you could find several “news items” of exactly the same size in the same newspaper on the same day, saying very different things. Because they were really paid-for propaganda or disguised advertisements. A typical size was four columns by ten centimetres. When a pro-saffron alliance paper carries “news items” of this size extolling the Congress-NCP, you know strange things are happening. (And, oh yes, if you bought “four news items of your choice” many times, a fifth one might be thrown in gratis.)
There were a few significant exceptions to the rule. A couple of editors tried hard to bring balance to their coverage and even ran a “news audit” to ensure that. And journalists who, as one of them put it, “simply stopped meeting top contacts in embarrassment.” Because, often, journalists with access to politicians were expected to make the approach. That information came from a reporter whose paper sent out an email detailing “targets” for each branch and edition during the elections. The bright exceptions were drowned in the flood of lucre. And the huge sums pulled in by that paper have not stopped it from sacking droves of staffers. Even from editions that met their ‘targets.’
There are the standard arguments in defence of the whole process. Advertising packages are the bread and butter of the industry. What’s wrong with that? “We have packages for the festive season. Diwali packages, or for the Ganesh puja days.” Only, the falsehoods often disguised as “news” affect an exercise central to India’s electoral democracy. And are outrageously unfair to candidates with less or no money. They also amount to exerting undue influence on the electorate.
There is another poorly assessed — media-related — dimension to this. Many celebrities may have come out in May to exhort people to vote. This time, several of them appear to have been hired by campaign managers to drum up crowds for their candidate. Rates unknown.
All of this goes hand in hand with the stunning rise of money power among candidates. More so among those who made it the last time and have amassed huge amounts of wealth since 2004. With the media and money power wrapped like two peas in a pod, this completely shuts out smaller, or less expensive, voices. It just prices the aam aadmi out of the polls. Never mind they are contested in his name.
Your chances of winning an election to the Maharashtra Assembly, if you are worth over Rs.100 million, are 48 times greater than if you were worth just Rs.1 million or less. Far greater still, if that other person is worth only half-a-million rupees or less. Just six out of 288 MLAs in Maharashtra who won their seats declared assets of less than half-a-million rupees. Nor should challenges from garden variety multi-millionaires (those worth between Rs.1 million-10 million) worry you much. Your chances of winning are six times greater than theirs, says the National Election Watch (NEW).
The number of ‘crorepati’ MLAs (those in the Rs.10 million-plus category) in the State Assembly has gone up by over 70 per cent in the just concluded elections. There were 108 elected in 2004. This time, there are 184. Nearly two-thirds of the MLAs just elected in Maharashtra and close to three-fourths of those in Haryana, are crorepatis. These and other startling facts fill the reports put out by NEW, a coalition of over 1,200 civil society groups across the country that also brought out excellent reports on these issues during the Lok Sabha polls in April-May. Its effort to inform the voting public is spearheaded by the NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
Each MLA in Maharashtra, on average, is worth over Rs.40 million. That is, if we treat their own poll affidavit declarations as genuine. That average is boosted by Congress and BJP MLAs who seem richer than the others, being well above that mark. The NCP and the Shiv Sena MLAs are not too far behind, though, the average worth of each of their legislators being in the Rs.30 million-plus bracket.
Each time a giant poll exercise is gone through in this most complex of electoral democracies, we congratulate the Election Commission on a fine job. Rightly so, in most cases. For, many times, its interventions and activism have curbed rigging, booth capturing and ballot stuffing. On the money power front, though — and the media’s packaging of big money interests as “news” — it is hard to find a single significant instance of rigorous or deterrent action. These too, after all, are serious threats. More structured, much more insidious than crude ballot stuffing. Far more threatening to the basics of not just elections, but democracy itself.

Communalism and Secularism

Who is secular

Muslim organisation slams Vande Mataram fatwa

Muslim organisation slams Vande Mataram fatwa
Mon, Nov 9 07:22 AM
The Muslim Rashtriya Manch has slammed the Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind for passing a resolution, which described Vande Mataram as un-Islamic and asked Muslims not to sing it.
According to the Manch, which follows the ideology of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Muslims who oppose Vande Mataram are opponents of Islam and the nation.
“Our Muslim brothers should not follow the fatwa as Vande Mataram is the national song of the country and every Indian citizen should respect and recite it,” said Mohd Afzal, national convenor of the Manch.
No person could ask anyone to stop reciting Vande Mataram, said Afzal.
In 2003-04, some senior Muslim Leaders had started the Nationalist Muslim Movement, which was later renamed as the Muslim Rastriya Manch in 2007. According to the members of the organisation, RSS leaders guide this organisation in its activities to promote peace and harmony.
On Sunday, senior leaders of the Manch and former Sarsanghchalak of RSS K S Sudarshan met to discuss the issues that generate tension and hostility between Muslims and Hindus.
According to Afzal, the Manch has already translated Vande Mataram in Urdu as Maa Taslemat.
Syed Hamidul Hasan, renowned Shia cleric, who was especially invited on the occasion to speak on Hindu-Muslim issues, said that Muslims were free to take their own decision regarding Vande Mataram, which everybody respects.
Sudarshan said Indian Muslims should not be called a minority, as they are Indians like Hindus and other communities. He also said that Vande Mataram was the national song and does not belong to any particular community.
To mark the first anniversary of the Mumbai terror attack, the Muslim Rashtriya Manch is going to organise an anti-terror march, known as Tiranga Yatra, in Mumbai on November 19.
A terror-free week will also be observed by the Manch from March 19 to 26 during which the message against terrorism will be spread across the country.
Express News Service

Should RSS take over BJP?

http://mediasyndicate.in/medsyn/1257442837.htm

Here is a link to an article on RSS taking over BJP. An interesting read.

RSS service projectsmultiply ten-fold

RSS service projectsmultiply ten-fold
TNN 4 November 2009, 07:58am IST

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/RSS-service-projectsmultiply-ten-fold/articleshow/5194113.cms

NAGPUR: It’s political offshoot, Bharatiya Janata Party, may be in a disarray and desperately trying to get out of the knots it has tied for

itself. But the parent organisation and Hindutva fountainhead Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) can take immense pride in having spread its wings far and wide through its social service projects. Recording an impressive growth, the service units of the Sangh parivar grew ten times in little over one decade.

‘Sewa Disha’ a special journal published by RSS front organisation released to the media on Tuesday reveals that its service projects all over the country that numbered 15,063 in 1997 have grown into a massive network of 1,57,776 in 2009. The journal, published once in five years, gives full account of the service work done by the innumerable units of the Sangh parivar, said RSS spokesman Manmohan Vaidya.

The service projects are engaged mainly in four fields– education, healthcare, social work and economic self-reliance. Of the total 1.5 lakh projects, nearly 40% or 59,498 are into imparting education. This work is mainly done through Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (3147 units), Rashtriya Sewa Bharti (20,500 schools), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (25, 922 units), Vidya Bharti (9682) units, Rashtriya Sevika Sangh (149 units) and Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (98 units). Similarly, 38,582 health-related units are being currently operated through mainly Seva Bharti, VHP, Bharat Vikas Parishad and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams. While the number of social projects that do village development to disaster management have now grown 42,304, economic activity is being executed through 17,392 projects, according to the journal.

Its in Kerala that the RSS projects have grown the most– from 688 in 2004 to 8921 this year while Karnataka follows with 9662 projects, up from 2535 in five years ago. Practically every state has RSS presence through these projects. Special attention is paid to north-eastern states that are reeling under insurgency problem and in difficult terrains like jungles, hills and the strife-ridden Jammu and Kashmir to spread education and health in places where the government facilities are non-existent or neglected.

“I can tell my personal experience having been associated with such projects in Gujarat. At Deoghar village in Kutch, the Sangh shakhas have succeeded in eradicating vices like alcoholism and brought harmony by ending group rivalries among villagers,” said Vaidya who worked for a long time in the western state. From basic education through ‘Ekal Vidyalaya'( one-teacher schools) launched by the Pophali couple in Jharkhand to special projects for higher learning, research and promoting sustainable, organic farming the ‘Seva’ units are holding the RSS flag high across the nation, said Vaidya.