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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

இராஜாஜியின் குலக்கல்வித் திட்டமும் ஜெயலலிதாவும்


1969 ஜனவரி 20 ஆம் நாள்...
உடல் நலிவுற்று சென்னை அடையாறு புற்றுநோய் மருத்துவமனையில் சேர்க்கப்பட்டார் அண்ணா.
உற்சாகம் ததும்ப புன்னகை பூத்த முகத்துடன் மருத்துவமனையில் வந்து இறங்கிய அண்ணா, ஏராளமான புத்தகங்களுடன் உள்ளே நுழைந்தார்.

அங்கு அவர் தங்கியிருந்து சிகிச்சை பெறும் வகையில் ஏ.சி அறைக்கு ஏற்பாடு செய்யப் பட்டிருந்தது.
அவரை அங்கும் இங்கும் அழைத்துச் செல்ல சக்கர நாற்காலி தயாராக இருந்தது.
அமெரிக்காவிலிருந்தும் பம்பாயிலிருந்தும் புற்றுநோய் நிபுணர்கள் வரவழைக்கப் பட்டனர்.
அண்ணாவுக்கு என்ன ஆகுமோ, ஏதாகுமோ என்ற பதைபதைப்பில் தமிழக மக்கள் ஆழ்ந்தனர்.
மருத்துவமனையின் ஒவ்வொரு அசைவுகளையும் ஊடகங்கள் செய்தியாக்கிக் கொண்டிருந்தன.
திமுக பொருளாளர் சாதிக் பாட்சா தமது அறிக்கைகளின் மூலம் அண்ணாவின் நிலை பற்றிய அறிவிப்புகளை செய்து கொண்டிருந்தார்.
இத்தனை பரபரப்பும் பதற்றமும் சூழ்ந்து நிற்க அண்ணா மட்டும் அமைதியாக, தாம் கொண்டுவந்த புத்தகங்களை படித்துக் கொண்டிருந்தார்.உயிர் போகும் வேளையில் கூட வாசிப்பை நிறுத்தாத அன்றைய முதல்வர் எங்கே..?
உலகத் தரத்துடன் கூடிய ஒரு வாசிப்புச் சாலையை உருக்குலைக்க நினைக்கும் இன்றைய முதல்வர் எங்கே..?

புற்றுநோய் முற்றிய நிலையிலும் புத்தகங்களோடு வந்திறங்கி, மருத்துவமனையைக் கூட நூலகமாக மாற்றினார் அன்று அண்ணா!
என்ன நோய் முற்றியதோ தெரியவில்லை, அந்த அண்ணாவின் பெயரால் அமைந்த அழகிய நூலகத்தை மருத்துவமனையாக மாற்றத் துடிக்கிறார் இன்று அம்மா!
Aloor Shanawaz at his best. Here

How British, American and European firms exploit Indian 'guinea pigs'

Western pharmaceutical companies have seized on India over the past five years as a testing ground for drugs – making the most of a huge population and loose regulations which help dramatically cut research costs for lucrative products to be sold in the West. The relationship is so exploitative that some believe it represents a new colonialism.

Since restrictions on drug trials were relaxed in 2005, the industry in India has swollen to the point where today more than 150,000 people are involved in at least 1,600 clinical trials, conducted on behalf of British, American and European firms including AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Merck. There may be more.

While there is no official figure, some estimates suggest the industry may be worth as much as £189m. Regulators have struggled to keep pace with the explosion. Between 2007 and 2010, at least 1,730 people died in India while, or after, participating in such trials. Many of those people, often only eligible for the studies because they were ill, might have died anyway. Yet when there are complications, even those resulting in deaths, there is often a failure properly to investigate.
Andrew Buncombe and Nina Lakhani in The Independent. Here

From tragedy to travesty: Drugs tested on survivors of Bhopal


Secret reports seen by The Independent reveal that drug trials funded by western pharmaceutical firms at the Indian hospital set up for survivors of the Bhopal disaster violated international ethical standards and could have put patients at risk.

Some 14 patients died during the three trials examined by the reports. In one trial, for an antibiotic, five out of seven patients died during the trial or soon after it finished. While there is no suggestion that every death merits compensation, critics say there has been no adequate investigation into whether compensation was appropriate in any of the cases. None has ever been paid.

At least eight other trials were carried out on hundreds of Bhopal gas victims. The Independent has evidence of patients who were unaware that they were taking part in a trial at all. The conduct of the trials has exposed the hospital to furious criticism from activists who say that survivors have been used as guinea pigs without proper informed consent.
Nina Lakhani in The Independent. Here

News can be bought and sold :Seema Mustafa


The story of a country cannot be without its people. The government’s decision to bring in a Food Security Bill cannot be divorced, in the coverage, of what impact it will have on the ground. It is the job of the media to explore not the legalities of the legislation, but whether it will bring relief to the people, and to what extent. These stories are not being covered any more with the media getting away with a couple of quotes from the VIP politicians, and a ‘this party is against the other party’ kind of superficial approach. What has happened to the Women’s Reservation Bill? What does 51% FDI in the retail sector mean for the people? And by people, the yardstick should be poor people, and not just the consumers who determine the advertisements and the TRP ratings.

People do not like to come out on the streets to protest. Not even those who belong to political parties. They do so because they genuinely believe that there is no other course, and the issue is important enough to merit their participation. But when thousands of workers march on the streets of Delhi for justice and rights, the entire media without an exception blocks them out as they are the conscience check for unbridled capitalism keeping the corporates in business.

All that is reported are traffic jams as a result of people’s protests. Of course, if the protests turn violent the media is in full attendance to damn the protestors and their supporters.

The state has realised the importance of controlling the media across the world, particularly in democracies. It has also realised that it does not need to do this through draconian laws (like censorship) and has opted for outright seduction. Big media empires are set up with covert state support, and the pay back is through the manipulation of news that is difficult to detect. This has happened in the US, it is happening in India. Multi media chains are being established by industrial houses, they get full support by the government that even bails them out at later stages through closed door multi-crore deals, so that eventually they can control the news.
The distance between the journalist and the politician has been bridged, and both go to bed with each other to ensure smooth functioning of the new media industry that first creates the news and then disseminates it with admirable ease. The voter cannot be controlled, but the information can. And as the Iraq war and its embedded journalists have shown so successfully to the world, information can be bought and sold.
Seema Mustafa in DNA. Here

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Fast Car


If the life of this world is an illusion, the period of greatest illusion occurs during youth. It is a period of high energy and great enthusiasm, coupled with an air of invincibility and perpetuity. Like the driver of a fast car, one may also develop a disdain for the slower cars on the highway of life. It is difficult to imagine that the car will run out of fuel and that one day the engine will wear out.
For the moment though the car is fast and it can go places!
For this reason there are special warnings for the youth and glad tidings for the person who uses this energy wisely. A famous hadith tells us that on the Day of Judgment no man will be able to move from his place until he answers five questions. "How did he spend his life? How did he utilize his youth? How did he earn his wealth? How did he spend it? And, how did he practice what he learnt?" [Sunan al-Tirmidhi]. While the first question asks generally about one's life pattern, the second especially focuses on the period of youth.
On the other hand, the person who devoted his youth to the worship of Allah will be among the selected seven kinds of people [Bukhari, Muslim].
Hence the profound advice in another famous hadith to value five things: "Youth before old age, health before sickness, wealth before poverty, free time before preoccupation, and life before death."
A fast car is dangerous if it does not have strong controls. And that is where Shaitan targets the vulnerable --- by loosening the controls. It has been his time-tested trick to work through temptations and make desires look irresistible. The path of deviation looks good. It is cool. It is fun. It is endlessly entertaining. The only problem is,it leads to assured disaster.
Compiled From:
"Youth: On Culture, Religion, and Generation Gap" - Khalid Baig

Monday, November 28, 2011

Police, administration and judiciary should be committed to secular principles.


The last six months have witnessed attacks on members of the minority community in four different states: Forbesganj, Arhariya in Bihar, Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, Rudrapur in Uttarakhand and Gopalgarh, Bharatpur in Rajasthan. All those who have been killed and suffered material losses have been members of the minority community. Despite the fact that the states concerned are ruled by very different political dispensations — the BSP in Uttar Pradesh, JD(U)-BJP in Bihar, the BJP in Uttarakhand and the Congress in Rajasthan — the unforgivable and dangerous communal bias displayed by the police and administration and the ways in which political rulers have sought to cover up, justify or downplay this bias, have been similar. Those who believe that all Indian citizens have the right to equal treatment from the administration and the judiciary must voice their concern.

Affected families from Forbesganj, Moradabad and Gopalgarh attended a convention against communal conflict organised by the All India Democratic Women’s Association in the capital recently. Rudrapur went unrepresented because the families of victims have fled the town. They spoke at the convention about bereavement. It was not pity they sought, but recognition of injustice, and punishment of those responsible.

The events of recent months have emphasised the necessity of making the police, administration and judiciary free of bias and committed to secular principles. Exemplary punishment must be meted out to those who violate these principles. Governments must display much more sensitivity and commitment to rehabilitation. The state has to prove its commitment to the secular Constitution through action that cannot be half-hearted and tardy.
Subashini Ali in Indian Express. Here

Fallujah remembered by a US marine



It has been seven years since the 2nd siege of Fallujah -- the American assault that left the city in ruins, killed thousands of civilians, and displaced hundreds-of-thousands more -- the assault that poisoned a generation, plaguing the people who live there with cancers and their children with birth defects.

It has been seven years and the lies that justified the assault still perpetuate false beliefs about what we did.

The American veterans who fought there still do not understand who they fought against, or what they were fighting for.

I know, because I am one of those American veterans. In the eyes of many of the people I "served" with, the people of Fallujah remain dehumanized and their resistance fighters are still believed to be terrorists. But unlike most of my counterparts, I understand that I was the aggressor, and that the resistance fighters in Fallujah were defending their city.

It is also the seventh anniversary of the deaths of two close friends of mine, Travis Desiato and Bradly Faircloth, who were killed in the siege. Their deaths were not heroic or glorious. Their deaths were tragic, but not unjust.

How can I begrudge the resistance in Fallujah for killing my friends, when I know that I would have done the same thing if I were in their place? How can I blame them when we were the aggressors?
Ross Caputi in StopWar.org. Here

Ten principles of the Prophet of Islam


Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the most successful man in the entire human history. Being the last Prophet of Islam, he not only set a good example for the whole mankind but also showed to them how to achieve success in this world. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, a prominent Islamic scholar, has identified 10 successful principles taught by the Prophet.


“By studying the life of the Prophet we can derive those important principles of success,” he wrote in an article. “To begin from the possible” is one of those principles. The Prophet’s wife Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) has explained this principle through a Hadith in which she said: “Whenever the Prophet had to choose between two options, he always opted for the easier one” (Al-Bukhari). To choose the easiest option means to begin from the possible, and one who begins from the possible will surely reach his goal.

To see advantage in disadvantage was the Prophet’s second important principle, says Khan. In the early days of Makkah, there were many problems and difficulties. But a verse in the Qur’an, “With every hardship there is ease, with every hardship there is ease,” (94:5-6) inspired Muslims. They learned from the verse that if there are some problems, there are also opportunities at the same time. “And the way to success is to ignore the problems and avail the opportunities,” Khan points out.

Changing the place of action was another principle, which is derived from the Hijrah. According to Khan, Hijrah was not just a migration from Makkah to Madinah but was a strategic move by the Prophet to find a more suitable place for Islamic work.

“Make a friend out of an enemy” was the fourth principle, which the Prophet learned from the Qur’an, which enjoined upon him the return of good for evil. The Qur’an then added, “You will see your direst enemy has become your closest friend” (41:34). “It means that a good deed in return for a bad deed has a conquering effect over your enemies,” Khan wrote in his article.

After the Battle of Badr, about 70 of the unbelievers were taken as prisoners of war and many of them were educated people. The Prophet announced that if any one of them would teach 10 Muslim children how to read and write he would be freed. This was the first school in the history of Islam in which all the students were Muslims and all the teachers were from the enemy rank. Here comes the fifth principle: Wring success out of failure.

The power of peace is stronger than the power of violence is the sixth principle. When Makkah was conquered, all of the Prophet’s direst opponents were brought before him. They were war criminals, in every sense of the word. But the Prophet did not order to kill them. He simply said: “Go, you are free.” The result of this kind behavior was miraculous. Most of them embraced Islam.

No to dichotomous thinking was another principle of the Prophet. “In the famous Muta battle, Khaled bin Waleed decided to withdraw Muslim forces from the battlefield because he discovered that the enemy was disproportionately outnumbered. When the Muslim forces reached Madinah, some commented “O Furrar” (deserters). The Prophet said “No. They are Kurrar” (men of advancement).” Those Madinah Muslims, who commented wrongly about their forces, were thinking dichotomously, either fighting or retreating. The Prophet said no. There is also a third option, and that is to avoid war and find a time to strengthen yourself to make a powerful comeback. History tells us that the Muslims, after three years of preparation, advanced toward Rome and won a resounding victory.

To bring the battle in one’s own favorable field was the Prophet’s eighth principle. Before the Hudaibiyya Treaty the unbelievers were determined to engage Muslims in fighting, because obviously they were in an advantageous position. But the Prophet, by accepting their conditions unilaterally, entered into a pact. It was a 10-year peace treaty. Until then, the meeting ground between Muslims and non-Muslims had been on the battlefield. Now the area of conflict became that of ideological debate. “Within two years, Islam emerged as victorious because of the simple reason of its ideological superiority,” the scholar said.

Gradualism instead of radicalism was the ninth principle, which is well-established by a Hadith reported by Al-Bukhari. Ayesha says that the first verses of the Qur’an were related mostly to heaven and hell. And then after a long time when the people’s hearts had softened, the specific commands to desist from adultery and drinking were revealed in the Qur’an. “This is a clear proof that for social changes, Islam advocates the evolutionary method, rather than the revolutionary method,” Khan explained.

To be pragmatic in controversial matters was another of the Prophet’s important principles, he said. During the writing of the Hudaibiyya Treaty, the Prophet dictated these words: “This is from Muhammad, the Messenger of God.” The Quraysh raised their objections over these words. The Prophet promptly changed the word and ordered to write simply Muhammad son of Abdullah. This pragmatic approach adopted by the Prophet brought peace and prosperity for Muslims and accelerated the propagation of Islam.
In Arab News. Here

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why do we laugh?

He who laughs last usually has to have the joke explained. But then why bother? After all, nothing kills humor faster than analysis. That sentiment has long dogged humor studies, a field often disparaged as an affront, even an existential threat, to its subject matter. It’s just a joke: Don’t overthink it.

But what if humor (or mirth, in research speak) is intimately linked to thinking? What if we’d have trouble thinking without it? That’s the argument of “Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind” (MIT Press, 2011).

Coauthored by three scholars, the book had an unusual genesis: It began in 2004 as an undergraduate term paper. First author Matthew Hurley, a native of Reading, Mass., had enrolled at Tufts University after a few years of travel and work as a computer programmer. As part of a self-designed major in cognitive science, Hurley took a course on humor taught by the psychologist Reginald Adams Jr. It struck Hurley that most humor theories focused on why we find certain things funny. But, he wondered, why do humans find anything funny? Why do we have a sense of humor in the first place?
Chris Berdik reviews the book "Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind" in the Boston Globe. Here

Hemant Karkare, unsung hero of 26/11

In Hemant Karkare’s net (of investigations, of course) many big and small fishes of VHP, RSS, Bajrang Dal and Sanatan Sanstha (which has been found to be involved in Diwali-eve blasts in Goa last week) had been trapped. Serving and retired army officers, academics, serving and retired officials of India’s premier intelligence service were ensnared in Karkare’s fishing net. The menacing power of the latter groups, inspired by sustained anti-Muslim hate campaigns of the last six decades, gave the plot a sinister and highly destructive character.

Among the plans unearthed by Karkare was a blueprint for the assassination of 70 prominent Indians who could by a hindrance to the project of Hindutva. Interestingly, most of the persons marked for elimination would, naturally, be Hindus because it is they who primarily run the dispensation. The conspirators were also unhappy with organisations whose Hindutva they suspected to be less virulent than desired.
M. Zeyaul Huque in Milli Gazette. Here

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Just one slap?" :Anna Hazare over slap on Sharad Pawar


Harvinder Singh, a resident of Rohini in the capital, slapped the Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in full glare of TV cameras on Thursday.

Anna Hazare, self-confessed arch rival of Pawar, was quick to respond to the incident. Initially with swagger Anna said, "Just one slap?"; 
A report in IBN LIVE. Here

Ek hi maara? : Anna  Hazara on slap on Sharad Pawar
After committing a faux-pas in his reaction to the attack on Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Anna Hazare said tonight that he was ready to apologise if his remark was perceived to be "wrong".

"He got slapped! Only one slap?" Hazare had said to a group of journalists at Ralegan Siddhi when he learnt about the attack on Thursday. But later he condemned the attack.

Explaining what he meant by his remark, Hazare, talking to a Marathi news-channel, was at pains to explain the faux pas saying "I was addressing a daily gathering of people when someone sent me a note informing about the attack. I wanted to know whether it was just a slap or there was some other kind of violence."

The social activist said he did not say or mean anything inappropriate when he said "ek hi mara?". He always believed in non-violent method of agitation, Hazare said.

"However, if it is perceived that I have said something wrong, I am ready to apologise," he said.
A report in DNA. Here.


“He got slapped! Only one slap?”: Anna Hazare
Anna Hazare on Thursday tied himself in knots with his reaction to the attack on Sharad Pawar first appearing to respond with contempt and later condemning it.

“He got slapped! Only one slap?” he said to a group of journalists who broke out in laughter at his reaction.
A report in The Hindu. Here

Save Kingfisher; Dump Mallya: Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar


Kingfisher Airlines is deep in the red. Should the government organize its rescue? When millions of small businesses are allowed to go bust when banks cut off credit to thousands of smaller defaulters, rescuing Kingfisher will smack of crony capitalism.

The airline has defenders too. Kingfisher has justly earned a reputation for excellent service standards. Quality is always worth preserving. We need to save Kingfisher without saving Mallya.

Its main competitor in quality, Jet Airlines, has frequently made good profits, while Kingfisher never has.

Kingfisher has already been rescued. Banks converted unpaid loans to Kingfisher into equity at a very favourable premium of 62% to the ruling market price, a tribute to Mallya’s political clout rather than company’s future prospects . Even after that the company has sunk deeper into the red. Even after being restructured and slashed, its debts exceed Rs 7,000 crore. Government concessions to the industry may save other airlines, but not Kingfisher.

A failed management must be changed. That’s normal in a market economy.

If Mallya really wants yet another chance, he must be told to bring in at least Rs 3,000 crore of fresh equity. If he cannot entice the investing public—which is probable--he must sell his other assets. Apart from liquor company UB Holdings, he owns stakes in the cricket team Royal Challengers, Bangalore; the Kolkata football teams Mohun Bagan and East Bengal; and the Formula 1 team Force India. In many other countries his bankers would force him to sell these.

If Mallya will not sacrifice his other assets for Kingfisher , then he cannot ask others to sacrifice their financial interests for him. His creditors should acquire the company and auction it.
Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar in The Times of India. Here and Here

Ashok Mitra's scathing attack on media


If the price is right, the letters will be printed
Is not there a huge misunderstanding at work? The culture of writing letters to the editor, a colonial curiosum, is sought to be grafted into the postcolonial soil. This country during all these post-Independence decades has, however, hardly been a prim, stable system in the grip of the bourgeoisie, whatever the illusion of the latter. Post-Emergency, post-Mandal Commission, post-Babri Masjid destruction, India is a most messy affair. It is worth considering how Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar has come to be accorded retrospective deification more than half a century after his death. Our current inheritance is a coarse, uncouth, relentlessly cynical terrain.

The coup de grâce has been afflicted by economic liberalization, setting at total disarray the parameters of the system. Illiteracy, for one, is fast replacing rational discourse. As long as one is reasonably acquainted with the lingo of the information technology universe, it is possible to get along famously, that is, make piles of money, with no need to surf in any other direction. Familiarity with art and literature has zero lucre-yielding prospect, unless one is savvy enough to climb the bandwagon of, for example, event management or public relations or the electronic media. To stay relevant, it may actually often be necessary to feign idiocy. Globalization-mongers detest history and are proud of their disdain for philosophy; so steer clear of these themes too. Culture is whatever is telescoped into pastilles dispensed by the gobblebox. Little tolerance is shown for news which does not concern one’s narrow sphere of interest. The demand schedule is king. The traditional newspapers have to convert themselves, for dear life, into tabloids. They have been forced to move away from hard news; gossip and visuals are enough.


The central message of globalization — make money whatever the means — has led to the inevitable consequence: indulgence in corrupt practice has turned into passport for social recognition. Since no stigma attaches any more to financial skulduggery, the news industry has taken to it as effortlessly as a duck takes to water. News can now be manufactured if the price is right. Space has to be found for such fabricated news.

Remember the story of the Texas hillbilly who struck oil under his land and was all of a sudden flush with money? At the end of a busy day in town, he stopped for a drink at a wayside inn, right next to the precincts of a newly set up university. He was curious to know what a university did and was told it produced PhDs and the innkeeper had the franchise from the university to sell the doctoral degrees. The hillbilly felt expansive and bought a PhD for himself by dishing out a thousand dollars. As an afterthought, he laid out on the table another thousand bucks and purchased a PhD for his horse as well. That is roughly the state of affairs in India as of this moment. The strange animals who die to write letters to the editor are altogether out of place here. On the other hand, one never knows, they too could easily imbibe the ethos of the free market economy and offer hard cash to newspaper editors to get their lofty thoughts published. If the price is right, the letters will be printed, which eventually will have nothing to do with the quality of their contents.
Ashok Mitra in The Telegraph. Here

Pioneer Environmentalist


"There is none amongst the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having given a charitable gift." [Al-Bukhari, III:513].
The idea of the Prophet Mohammed as a pioneer of environmentalism will initially strike many as strange: indeed, the term “environment” and related concepts like “ecology”, “environmental awareness” and “sustainability”, are modern-day inventions, terms that were formulated in the face of the growing concerns about the contemporary state of the natural world around us.
And yet a closer reading of the hadith, the body of work that recounts significant events in the Prophet’s life, reveals that he was a staunch advocate of environmental protection. One could say he was an “environmentalist avant la lettre”, a pioneer in the domain of conservation, sustainable development and resource management, and one who constantly sought to maintain a harmonious balance between man and nature. From all accounts of his life and deeds, we read that the Prophet had a profound respect for fauna and flora, as well as an almost emotional connection to the four elements, earth, water, fire and air.
He was a strong proponent of the sustainable use and cultivation of land and water, proper treatment of animals, plants and birds, and the equal rights of users. In this context the modernity of the Prophet’s view of the environment and the concepts he introduced to his followers is particularly striking; certain passages of the hadith could easily be mistaken for discussions about contemporary environmental issues.
Compiled From:
"Prophet Mohammed: A Pioneer of the Environment" - Francesca De Chatel 
More Here

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

“Concentration is one of the happiest things in my life”: Haruki Murakami

Murakami submitted “Hear the Wind Sing” for a prestigious new writers’ prize and won. After another year and another novel — this one featuring a possibly sentient pinball machine — Murakami sold his jazz club in order to devote himself, full time, to writing.

“Full time,” for Murakami, means something different from what it does for most people. For 30 years now, he has lived a monkishly regimented life, each facet of which has been precisely engineered to help him produce his work. He runs or swims long distances almost every day, eats a healthful diet, goes to bed around 9 p.m. and wakes up, without an alarm, around 4 a.m. — at which point he goes straight to his desk for five to six hours of concentrated writing. (Sometimes he wakes up as early as 2.) He thinks of his office, he told me, as a place of confinement — “but voluntary confinement, happy confinement.”

“Concentration is one of the happiest things in my life,” he said. “If you cannot concentrate, you are not so happy. I’m not a fast thinker, but once I am interested in something, I am doing it for many years. I don’t get bored. I’m kind of a big kettle. It takes time to get boiled, but then I’m always hot.”
Sam Anderson in The New York Times. Here

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tahrir Square and crowd behaviour

Crowds, we are often told, are dumb. They obliterate reason, sentience and accountability, turning individuals into helpless copycats. Commentators on the riots offered different explanations but most agreed that crowd psychology was part of the problem. “The dominant trait of the crowd is to reduce its myriad individuals to a single, dysfunctional persona,” wrote the novelist Will Self in the New Statesman. “The crowd is stupider than the averaging of its component minds.” The violence was said to have spread like a “contagion” through the crowd, facilitated by social media. For those who wanted to sound scientific, the term to drop was “deindividuation”: the loss of identity and moral responsibility that can occur in a group. But do crowds really make us more stupid?

Earlier this year, the world watched a crowd bring down an autocratic government, by the simple act of coming together in one place, day after day, night after night. Egyptian protesters created a micro-society in Tahrir Square, organising garbage collection, defending themselves when they needed to, but otherwise ensuring the protest remained peaceful. As well as courage, this took intelligence, discipline and restraint. Few international observers accused the crowd in Tahrir Square of being dysfunctional, or of turning its members into animals. The Tahrir protesters also used social media, but rather than calling for a ban, as some in Britain did after the riots, people wrote eulogies to the liberating potential of Twitter. It seems that not all crowds are bad. But when bad things happen, the crowd gets the blame.

John Drury, a psychologist at Sussex university who studies crowd behaviour, believes that the idea that crowds induce irrational behaviour and erase individuality just isn’t supported by the evidence. First, most crowds aren’t violent. The crowd in the shopping mall or at a music festival is usually calm and ordered. Even crowds that include conflicting groups, as at football matches, are more likely to be peaceful than not. Second, even when crowds do turn violent, they aren’t necessarily irrational. In the 18th century England was afflicted by food riots. If ever there was an atavistic reason to riot, that was surely it. But the historian E.P. Thompson showed that the riots took place not when food was at its most scarce but when people saw merchants selling grain at a steep profit; the rioters were motivated by a rational sense of injustice rather than the “animal” drive of hunger.
Ian Leslie in Moreintelligentlife. Here

Perfect Muslims


Bukhari records that God's Messenger, peace be upon him, said: "The Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand Muslims are safe. The Emigrant is one who emigrates from what God forbids."
This hadith describes the ideal or norm by beginning with the Muslim, as opposed to a Muslim. In this way, our Prophet draws attention to the qualities of perfect Muslims, not to those who are only nominal Muslims.
Our Prophet mentions the tongue before the hand, for slander, gossip, and insult often do far more damage than physical violence. If people can refrain from verbal assault, they can more easily refrain from physical assault. Moreover, self-defense against physical violence is often easier than that against gossip and slander.
Emigration means more than leaving one's family, house, possessions, and native land for the sake of God. To be capable of the latter, one must emigrate from the material to the spiritual dimension of his or her being, from worldly pleasures to an altruistic life, and from selfish aims to living for a Divine cause. Therefore, obeying Divine prohibitions is directly related to being a good Muslim and to sacrificing one's life in the service of people purely for the sake of God.
Compiled From:
"The Messenger of God: Muhammad" - Fethullah Gulen, pp. 104, 105

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Little hands


I clean the shoes on their feet

That they thrust at my 7-year old face

But I understand, he’s a city man

My little hands dare not make him late.


I wake up to work, I walk to work

I sleep only so that I can work

When I get to work I’m beaten to work,

Even though I never stop,

Harder, faster, better or beating

I eat whatever makes me work.

One day we were awarded an hour’s break,

So I leaned back on the factory’s outer wall,

Looking at the buildings, and roads and shimmering dresses,

And thought: I had a hand in them all!

But as I looked at my hands,

Bruised and rough, like a tired old man’s,

I wondered: Is a hand in them all I will have?

What I was to shed as tears for my predicament,

I shed it all as sweat.

But suddenly, I was surprised to find,

A tear slowly creep out of my eyes,

How could it be? I asked myself

But then I realized…

It was just how my body sweats… in my hour of rest.
Zaynab Chinoy in her blog. Here

A Million Dollars is Not Enough


I’ve already written about how Palestinians of all ages and genders in Gaza are nuts about Bollywood movies — and hence Indians — thanks to the “Zee Aflam” channel which streams Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Sharukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor & Co. 24-7.

But on Thursday I was shocked when Mohamed, a young Palestinian lecturer at Al Aqsa University in Gaza City, asked me if I had been to Sri Lanka and then proceeded to tell me about his deep concern for the human rights abuses of Tamils there. “You really must go there and see for yourself,” he said. He had visited the island nation after attending a conference in New Delhi a few years ago.

Earlier Mohamed had asked me if I spoke Hindi, and I said no, that my family was from south India. “Ah, are you Tamil?” Even though I’m only half, I answered in the affirmative, surprised that he was familiar with Indian geography. Most Americans and Europeans I’ve met have never even heard the word, much less know where on the map Tamils hail from.

This conversation was all the more surprising because it took place in the besieged, blockaded Gaza Strip, land of the 37.4% unemployment rate, where 77% of households live below the poverty line and two-thirds of the population are refugees. Another professor had just finished explaining how during “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008/2009, Israel not only killed the living, but disturbed the dead — shelling the cemetery where his mother was buried.

We had also discussed the similarities and differences between Israeli apartheid and South African apartheid. In South Africa, blacks were allowed to travel on the same roads as whites, not so in the West Bank, where Israel prevents Palestinians from traveling on the same roads as Jewish settlers –which now being challenged by the Palestinian “Freedom Riders.” Similar to the South African apartheid regime, Israel has corralled Palestinians into bantustans, however apartheid South Africa, unlike Israel, never bombed said bantustans or fired white phosphorous at civilians, burning them to death at temperatures of 1500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Out small group concluded the conversation by agreeing that the growing movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel is more critical now than ever. Today India announced a donation of $1 million dollars to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides basic food and other basic services to 5 million Palestinian refugees. While this money will no doubt be appreciated — especially in the wake of the U.S. cuts to UNESCO funding after Palestine gained a seat — people here in Gaza have repeatedly told me that they don’t want charity, they want solidarity, they don’t want aid, they want equality.

Just as India and Pakistan were the first countries to officially impose a trade embargo on South Africa in the 1950s, it is time for the developing world to yet again step up and act against apartheid — Israeli apartheid — when the west will not.
Radhika Sainath in her blog. Here

"This wave will not stop.": Rachid Ghannoushi


"I once said that al-Qaeda was over in Tunisia, the eruption of the revolution in Tunisia means there is a third way for a change. It's not that of violence, it's not that of integration into the current regimes under the pretext of aiming to reform them because these regimes cannot be reformed.

Changing the internal systems of these regimes failed and changing them through violence also failed. So the Arab world was going through a state of inactivity.

Tunisia came up with a third way which is the peaceful revolution. In one year three regimes have so far been toppled and two others are on the way to being toppled. This wave will not stop."

-Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi

Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Ennahda party, which won the first Tunisian elections after Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the country's former president, was toppled in January, talks about the Arab Spring, free elections and the implementation of Sharia in Tunisia. Marwan Bishara interviews Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi. Here

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sheila Dikshit inaugurates Al Shifa Hospital

Alshifa Multi Speciality Hospital has been inaugurated by Delhi Cheif Minister Sheila Dikshit today at Jamia Nagar, Okhla, New Delhi.

In her inaugural speech, she appreciated the efforts of Human Welfare Foundation, the umbrella body of Vision 2016 program in general and the hospital project in specific which puts forward the concept of quality and affordable health care for all.

She said the project is a land mark initiative fort the people of Okhla. She expressed her long desire for establishing a maternity hospital in Jamia Nagar which was not executed due to non availability of land but will establish once land is availed or will support Human Welfare Foundation to start one. She also said that the government can join hands with HWF for efforts in capacity building and human resource development. 
Moulana Syed Jalaluddin Umri delivering the presidential address
The inaugural function was presided by Syed Jalaluddin Umri, President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) and Chairman of Human Welfare Trust. He said “Providing service for the helpless and needy people is part of Ibadah (worship) in Islam,”. Making his point home, the JIH Ameer, who is also the Chairman of Human Welfare Trust, said, “Serving the society is as much important as saying one’s own prayers; that’s why the Qur’ān has mentioned Zakat repeatedly only after Salat (Namaaz).”
Prof. K. A. Siddique Hassan, Secretary General of Human Welfare Foundation said that the hospital will be a helping hand for the needy. It will solve the problem of non-availability of quality and affordable health care in the area. The hospital will be an ideal model of health care, in a place where health care is a means of exploitation and an opportunity for huge profits. He explained the activities of vision 2016 program.

Sandeep Dikshit (Member of Parliament) Safdar H. Khan (Chairman, Delhi Minority Commission), Kiran Walia (Minister of Social Welfare, Delhi), Dr. Azad Moopan, (Chairman, DM Healthcare) Mr. Sandeep Dikshit (Member of Parliament) Dr. Hussain (Chairman, Fathima Healthcare Services) and Syed Hamid Hussain (Chairman, Human Welfare Foundation and Chancellor, Jamia Hamdard Univesity) spoke in the function. Engineer Saleem (Secretary, Human Welfare trust) convened the program and Brigadior Zafar Ali (Operations director, Al Shifa Hospital) delivered the vote of thanks.

Al Shifa hospital has specialised departments for General medicine, general surgery, orthopaedics, gynaecology, paediatrics and physiotherapy. It has a bed capacity of 36 and will be upgraded to 150 shortly. The hospital will soon have two more specialised departments – eye and dental. Medical laboratory, radiology, ultra sound scanning, spirometry and ECG are available in the hospital.
A report in JIH website. Here

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who's the leader?


I don't like Thomas L Friedman. He is the example for WASP White Anglo Saxon Protestant. His essays are written in simple, straight sentences. Besides he has the knack of narrating grippingly. But he is WASP. He is simply anti-Muslim, anti-Islam, anti-non-American. For him only thing that matters is America. Even then I continue to read him off and on. Occasionally he writes sensibly. The following passage is an example:

Yes, it’s true that in the hyperconnected world, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, the people are more empowered and a lot more innovation and ideas will come from the bottom up, not just the top down. That’s a good thing — in theory. But at the end of the day — whether you are a president, senator, mayor or on the steering committee of your local Occupy Wall Street — someone needs to meld those ideas into a vision of how to move forward, sculpt them into policies that can make a difference in peoples’ lives and then build a majority to deliver on them. Those are called leaders. Leaders shape polls. They don’t just read polls. And, today, across the globe and across all political systems, leaders are in dangerously short supply.
From Thomas L Friedman's piece in The New York Times. Here

Arundhati Roy on Occupy the wall Street




Today, we know that the "American way of life" – the model that the rest of the world is meant to aspire towards – has resulted in 400 people owning the wealth of half of the population of the United States. It has meant thousands of people being turned out of their homes and their jobs while the US government bailed out banks and corporations – American International Group (AIG) alone was given $182 billion.

The Indian government worships US economic policy. As a result of 20 years of the free market economy, today, 100 of India's richest people own assets worth one-quarter of the country's GDP while more than 80% of the people live on less than 50 cents a day; 250,000 farmers, driven into a spiral of death, have committed suicide. We call this progress, and now think of ourselves as a superpower. Like you, we are well-qualified: we have nuclear bombs and obscene inequality.

The good news is that people have had enough and are not going to take it any more. The Occupy movement has joined thousands of other resistance movements all over the world in which the poorest of people are standing up and stopping the richest corporations in their tracks. Few of us dreamed that we would see you, the people of the United States on our side, trying to do this in the heart of Empire. I don't know how to communicate the enormity of what this means.

They (the 1%) say that we don't have demands… perhaps they don't know, that our anger alone would be enough to destroy them. But here are some things – a few "pre-revolutionary" thoughts I had – for us to think about together:

We want to put a lid on this system that manufactures inequality. We want to put a cap on the unfettered accumulation of wealth and property by individuals as well as corporations. We demand:
• An end to cross-ownership in businesses. For example, weapons manufacturers cannot own TV stations; mining corporations cannot run newspapers; business houses cannot fund universities; drug companies cannot control public health funds.
• Two, natural resources and essential infrastructure – water supply, electricity, health, and education – cannot be privatized.
• Three, everybody must have the right to shelter, education and healthcare.
• Four, the children of the rich cannot inherit their parents' wealth.

A report in Informationclearinghouse. Here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Why the Sangh loves Anna Hazare?

When Anna’s team stands and shouts “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, it is not hailing the Indian Republic but a mythic nation that exists only in the mind. It was no coincidence that the very stage on which Anna first fasted at Jantar Mantar had a map of India shaped in the image of Bharat Mata as the backdrop. It is no coincidence that Anna is a teetotaler given to flogging young men who do not obey him. It is no coincidence that Kejriwal has often shared the stage with an anti-reservation organisation called Youth for Equality. It is no coincidence that the electioneering they are doing is not directed against corruption but the Congress (even if the distinction is sometimes hard to make, it exists). It is no coincidence that Constitutional issues are so readily dismissed by Anna and Kejriwal, who has even anointed Anna above Parliament. It is no coincidence that through the Jan Lokpal Bill, they imagine an ombudsman who would be to the republic what Anna is to Ralegan Siddhi, someone who will whip us all into shape.

The support extended by the RSS, the overt expressions of sympathy, the covert mobilisation of numbers, the desire to make common cause with Anna, is not some public play at deception and politics, it is the manifestation of a genuine desire to make common cause with a man who has managed to fulfill their aims. Mobilise the people, corner the Congress, and fight to the death for Kashmir (only rhetorically, of course, for in reality the soldiers who die in the fighting are motivated by a far more prosaic professionalism).
Hartosh Singh Bal in Open. Here

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"When London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore and Paris have become Islamic banking hubs why can Kerala not become on?": H Abdur Raqeeb

H Abdur Raqeeb
Kerala could become a role model of tapping Islamic finance market to raise badly needed funds for infrastructure development, according to experts.

Mr H. Abdur Raqeeb, Convener, National Committee on Islamic Banking at the New Delhi-based Indian Centre for Islamic Finance (ICIF), made a strong pitch for these funds at the Infrastructure Conference-2011 that began here on Wednesday.

Mr Raqeeb quoted a Kerala High Court observation that no specific prohibition was contained in any statute that made it impermissible to carry out Islamic banking in the country.

Simple regulatory changes could transform India into a regional hub for Shariah-compliant finance and clear the way for a much-needed wave of investment into its infrastructure, he added quoting international experts and consultants.
SHARED RISK

“When London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore and Paris have become Islamic banking hubs why can Kerala not become one and lead the country to become a developed economy in the near future?,” he wondered.

Islamic banking focuses on transparency, cooperative ventures, shared risk and ethical investing attracts a wide range of both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

In Malaysian Islamic banks, more than 40 per cent of investors and 60 per cent of borrowers are non-Muslims, mostly Chinese.

One in five applicants for some of the Islamic products is a non-Muslim in the Islamic Bank of Britain.
ISLAMIC BONDS
Asset-backed Islamic bonds, known as ‘Sukuks,' provide funds for long-term investment.

This tool is used in a number of developing and developed countries. India too should seek to make use of these resources, Mr Raqeeb said.

The fact is, Islamic finance can do wonders. Post 9/11, petro-dollars have been actively eyeing for a safe investment destination.

And this is the opportunity that India should avail of, given that it is not just a safe but vibrant investment destination.
HUGE MONEY
An estimated $1.5 billion in funds is sloshing around West Asia as of now. The region will have $8 trillion to invest by year 2020.

Ms Muliani Indrawati, Managing Director, World Bank, has confirmed that the World Bank Group has ‘formally recognised Islamic finance and has designated it a priority area in their financial sector programme.'

The World Bank has always closely cooperated with the Islamic financial services sector. This demonstrates its commitment to help strengthen the institutional development of the industry.
Vinson Kurian reports in Business Line. Here

Bicycles survived after cars. Why not typewriters?

The factories that make the machines may be going silent, but India's typewriter culture remains defiantly alive, fighting on bravely against that omnipresent upstart, the computer. (In fact, if India had its own version of "Mad Men," with its perfumed typing pools and swaggering execs, it might not be set in the 1960s but the early 1990s, India's peak typewriter years, when 150,000 machines were sold annually.)

Credit for its lingering presence goes to India's infamous bureaucracy, as enamored as ever of outdated forms (often in triplicate) and useless procedures, documents piled 3 feet high and binders secured by pink string.

India's lingering love affair with correction fluid and carbon paper befits a country that often seems caught in two centuries, where high-tech companies and an ambitious space program coexist with human-powered rickshaws and feudal village life.

Indian firm Godrej and Boyce, one of the world's last typewriter makers, released its first commercial model in 1955, reportedly inspired by then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who saw it as a "symbol of independent and industrialized India." Nehru reportedly received one of the first machines.

Over the next few decades, owning a manual typewriter was a major status symbol. "Small companies with a typewriter were really going somewhere," Palta said.

Demand during the 1960s and '70s was so high that customers waited up to six months for new machines, which cost nearly as much as a recent engineering graduate's yearly salary of about $175.

Now Godrej has announced that it is selling off its last few hundred machines, sparking a string of obituaries mourning the loss of that satisfying "ting" at the end of each line.

Even so, some aficionados hope there are enough spare parts and ribbons floating around to keep Indian typewriters tip-tip-tipping for years, hardly the first time they've defied expectations. Dukle recalls that at the time he joined Godrej, people already were saying the machines had only a few years left. "That was two decades ago," he said.

"Bicycles survived after cars. Why not typewriters? Let there be free choice, I say."
Mark Magnier in Los Angeles Times Here

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Death in Mumbai by Meenal Baghel

Interrogations are at their heart about power and the interplay between the interrogator and the interrogated. Physical intimidation is the standard tactic, and employed on poor, petty or hardened criminal though after the outcry raised by human rights organisations cops are more careful to camouflage their efforts. For instance, a suspect will be wrapped in cold towel before he’s caned so that there are no visible marks on his person. At other times just a few words delivered with the right amount of menace can suffice. There’s the story of a famous encounter cop with a dizzying body count against his name who just had to walk in, cock an eyebrow, and ask, ‘Cooper, ya ooper?’ for the other person to start blabbering. (Cooper is a hospital in suburban Mumbai).

But brute intimidation is also unsophisticated and has its limitations, forcing policemen like Rakesh Maria to evolve more refined methods. When he was probing the 1993 blasts Maria was known to offer suspects kilos of jalebi, but he’d stop his hospitality at that refusing them even a drop of water thereafter. Try eating even four or five jalebis without a sip of water to know what exquisite torture that is. ‘All this maar-dhaad is outdated,’ Raorane tells me. ‘You have to read the profile of the person you are questioning and raise yourself to that level.’

After making Maria wait, Raorane called her in with all the warmth of an apologetic host. She came across as composed, confident, willing to answer all questions. While Richard and Veronica waited outside, stressed about the elapsing hours, Maria and Raorane chatted away about her likes and dislikes, her life, her career, her ambitions. He found her rather well-read and she favoured, like Emile, books on Christianity, and also crime thrillers. He let her move around the room, answer phone calls. ‘Her body language suggested over confidence — she would stroll around the place as if she was in command. At no point did I believe what she said, but I never let it show. It wasn’t anything like an interrogation,’ says the investigator. Since he had no evidence against her they let her go home. This would become a pattern over the next eight days.
From an extract of the book - Death in Mumbai written by Meenal Baghel (editor of Mumbai Mirror). It is based on the true story of the brutal murder of young TV producer Neeraj Grover in Mumbai. More in Randomhouseindia. Here

Netanyahu is a liar : Sarkozy

YOU CAN lie to all of the people some of the time, and to some of the people all of the time, but you cannot lie to all of the people all of the time.”

This slightly altered quotation from Abraham Lincoln has yet to be absorbed by Benjamin Netanyahu. He thinks it doesn't apply to him. Actually, that is the core of his entire political career. This week, he was given a very instructive lesson. After being treated to dozens of cordial encounters between Netanyahu and Nicholas Sarkozy, Israeli TV viewers got a glimpse of reality. It came in the form of an exchange of views between the presidents of the US and of France.

Sarkozy: “I cannot stand him (Netanyahu). He is a liar!”

Obama: “YOU are fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day!”

That came after it was leaked that Angela Merkel, the German chanceller, told her Cabinet that “every word that leaves Netanyahu's mouth is a lie.”

Which makes it more or less unanimous.

Before proceeding, I must say something about the media angle of this affair. The dialogue was broadcast live to a group of senior French media people, because somebody forgot to turn the microphone off. A piece of luck of the kind that journalists dream about.

Yet not one of the journalists in the hall published a word about it. Because the senior journalists who were present are friends and confidants of the people in power. That's how they get their scoops. The price is suppressing any news that might hurt or embarrass their sponsors. This means in practice that they become lackeys of the people in power — betraying their elementary democratic duty as servants of the public.

I know this from experience. Luckily, with the Internet now everywhere, it has become almost impossible to suppress news.
Uri Avnery in Arab News. Here

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The average age of Hajis have come down

The average age of pilgrims has come down since the last decade. “Before, people would come at the end of their lives... Haj was seen as the last act of faith for those aged pilgrims. That is no longer the dominant case. Young people from all over the world, and especially Turkey, are undertaking the pilgrimage. They come here and go back with great impressions about the Muslim world. They narrate their experiences to their friends and relatives, creating a sense of exhilaration among the new generation. This is a major change,” said Dr. Yasin Aktay, a fine academic and columnist from Turkey. He seems to be a very popular Tweeter and Facebooker. He was busy replying to the hundreds of comments that came from his 5,000 Facebook friends.

The other major change that Aktay noticed since his last visit to Makkah in 1997 was the complete transformation of Makkah's landscape. “These new buildings and the massive expansion around the Holy Mosque led to the disappearance of the old city,” he said. But is that good or bad? “In one sense it is bad, since the historical aspect of Makkah as a city is no longer available. The only historical sign remaining in Makkah is the Kaaba itself. And in another aspect, just because of this, I think we are inclined to think that even history is performing a circumambulation. As a result, history is disappearing, so that there remains nothing but the oneness of Allah, which is manifested by the Holy Kaaba.”
 Siraj Wahab in Arab News. Here

Now it has dawned to Ashis Nandy

Ashis Nandy has just made his own study, in 1500 interviews, of the wounds of the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan — among the searing and decisive memories of his own boyhood in Calcutta. The snippet that leaps out at him now is that 40 percent of his sample called up stories of themselves and others being helped through that orgy of blood and death by “somebody from other side.” In no other genocide, Nandy says, can he find a comparable measure of mercy. “There is that part of the story, too,” he is saying. “That is South Asia.”
I have seen other faces of Pakistan too, other faces of the Pashtuns who have supplied us with the Taliban and hosted Osama Bin Laden. Gandhi called them the finest non-violent freedom fighters of India. Not once, more than once. So there is another story, which is no longer told, which seems very old-fashioned, which doesn’t seem to have a place in contemporary statecraft and contemporary political culture. I find that very odd. Human potentialities are not adequately recognized. I think we live with stereotypes, and once a stereotype becomes unfashionable, then pick up another stereotype. But there is another way of looking at it: the potentialities that are inherent in some of the cultures in this part of the world have never been fully explored. People are afraid of them, they become so nervous about the darker side of human nature that they do not like to know of them; they think this would be a compromise with realism, a compromise with statecraft. …
What we saw during the Partition was ultimately not only the pathology of rural India and urban India, but also the forces that can be mobilized for a different kind of effort, to fight the violence… I think my study of partition violence has made me more respectful towards ordinary Indians and Pakistanis, and I would in the future be more open to the multilayered selves of people in this part of the world, perhaps people everywhere.
Ashis Nandy with Chris Lydon, at home in New Delhi, mid-summer 2011.
Ashis Nandy in Radioopensource. Here

Monday, November 14, 2011

Is Self-Knowledge overrated?

Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist and the author of the new book “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” changed the way people think about thinking by asking them questions. They weren’t trick questions, either. Instead, Kahneman relied almost exclusively on straightforward surveys, in which he described various scenarios. Here’s a sample:
The U.S. is preparing for the outbreak of an unusual Asian disease, which is expected to kill 600 people. Two alternative programs to combat the disease have been proposed. If program A is adopted, 200 people will be saved. If program B is adopted, there is a one-third probability that 600 people will be saved and a two-thirds probability that no people will be saved. Which of the two programs would you favor?

When Kahneman put this question to a few hundred physicians, seventy-two per cent chose option A, the safe-and-sure strategy. Most doctors would rather save a certain number of people for sure than risk the possibility that everyone might die.

Now consider this scenario:

The U.S. is preparing for the outbreak of an unusual Asian disease, which is expected to kill 600 people. Two alternative programs to combat the disease have been proposed. If program C is adopted, 400 people will die. If program D is adopted, there is a one-third probability that nobody will die and a two-thirds probability that 600 people will die. Which of the two programs would you favor?

The two different hypotheticals, of course, examine identical dilemmas: saving one-third of the population is the same as losing two-thirds. And yet, doctors reacted very differently depending on how the question was framed. When the possible outcomes were stated in terms of deaths (and not survivors), physicians were suddenly eager to take chances: seventy-eight per cent chose option D.

Why are doctors so inconsistent? Kahneman and his longtime collaborator, Amos Tversky, explained these contradictory responses in terms of loss aversion, or the fact that losses hurt more than gains feel good. In fact, people hate losses so much that merely framing a choice in terms of a potential loss can shift their preferences. Like those physicians, people are suddenly willing to risk losing everything if there’s a chance they might lose nothing.

Although our dislike of losses might seem obvious—“You need to have studied economics for many years before you’d be surprised by my research; it didn’t shock my mother at all,” Kahneman says—the discovery of loss aversion proved to be an important refutation of human rationality.
Jonah Lehrer in The NewYorker. Here

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