Shaktichakra, the wheel of energies

Culture and systems of knowledge, cultivation and food, population and consumption

Culture’s silenced exiles

leave a comment »

Detail from a photograph of Toda men, from ‘An account of the primitive tribes and monuments of the Nilagiris’, James Wilkinson Breeks, 1873

FIVE WEEKS after Italy imposed a lock down on its citizens, the United Nations on 15 April 2020, which is ‘World Art Day’, explained that “with billions of people either in lockdown or on the front lines battling the covid19 pandemic”, the day picked to celebrate world art (the birth anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci) “is a timely reminder that art has the power to unite and connect in times of crisis”.

The agencies of the United Nations system have for over seven decades busied themselves, when not pondering or influencing the fates of humanity, with inventing days, years and even decades for all sorts of projects and concepts: environment, education, the girl child, oceans, AIDS, indigenous peoples, Africa, science and so on. Since these demand sometimes lengthy preparations for worldwide events for a particular day, or even better, for a specially designated year, they are popular with UN agencies for their ability to swell budgets.

Like many other messages from the UN and its agencies about its celebratory days and periods, the message that accompanied World Art Day 2020 was maternally saccharine. “Throughout self-isolation, art has nonetheless been flourishing. Pointing to performers tapping into their creativity to relay health guidelines and share messages of hope – as well as neighbours singing to each other on balconies, and concerts online,” gushed UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The Mona Lisa was “revisited in a variety of ways, including images of her self-isolating in the Louvre Museum, or covering her enigmatic smile with a surgical mask” which according to UNESCO “is how, despite the crisis” showed “art is demonstrating its resilience”.

But culture and resilience have other dimensions, many of them very different to what is envisioned by the world’s cultural authorities. By early May 2020, it had become clear to all those in the throbbing tourist hotspots of South-East Asia that the squadrons of flights bringing tourists were not going to resume soon. When they would resume, no-one could say. The popular markets of the region, to which tourists thronged and from which local families derived their regular incomes, fell silent – Chatuchak in Bangkok, Kuta in Bali, Phsar Chas in Siem Reap, Ben Thanh in Saigon, Divisoria in Manila, Glodok in Jakarta.

Calabashes of the Thonga tribe, eastern coast, southern Africa. The smallest are used for keeping medicinal powders. Those with long handles are used as bottles or for drinking. From ‘The life of a South Africa tribe’, Henri A Junod, 1912

These are the famous ones, the ones that get written about in glossy travel magazines and are the subjects of tens of thousands of pithy ‘reviews’ by travellers. For each of these, there are hundreds of local markets that cater to local needs. In these humbler but no less important smaller and provincial markets, the wares on offer and mix of stalls is decidedly different, the accent being on what rural and small town households need and can afford. Curio kiosks and pop art counters, fingernail salons and smoothie bars are not part of these marketscapes.

Regardless of the difference in these two kinds of markets, the “resilience” that UNESCO mentioned is very much more a characteristic they can claim than can the Louvre, the Uffizi Gallery, the Tate Modern, the Rijksmuseum or any of Europe’s most visited cultural and art centres. But while state-funded museums (whose capacious treasuries are well attended to also by private art foundations) can survive closures that are months long, local markets cannot, because their resilience must be renewed every day. This is what the wave upon wave of lock downs all around the world have damaged, in some places likely permanently. The lock downs are, for those familiar with the marketscapes and the creative ambiances they include, culture killers of a kind never before seen.

The lock downs that began in February 2020 did not pause to discriminate between the commonly recognised grades of culture: high culture, contemporary (or even pop) culture and folk culture. In Europe especially, ‘high culture’ is surrounded by government, arts foundations, arts councils, academic institutions. Where it manifests or is nurtured, in cities, are awe-inspiring structures designed to project pomp and power. Orchestra houses, national galleries and museums are typical of such structures. A great deal of money is mobilised every year to maintain them. In France and Germany, spending by government under the head of culture approaches some 2.3% of the annual budget. In the USA, the comparative figure is under 1%, but American arts foundations tend to be better endowed.

IN CONTRAST IT IS THE OTHER TWO GRADES – contemporary and folk culture – which receive very little of the culture budgets that remain, and compete or struggle for the small grants and project funds that city councils and private foundations give out. Between these two, it is folk culture, in all its diversity, that is the worse off, not least because it straddles so many subjects at the same time, such as indigenous peoples’ rights, environment and ecology, traditional knowledge systems, living heritage. It is also folk culture that is the fountainhead of the world’s handicrafts, hand weaves and household arts traditions and products. These include basketry, rugs and carpets, woodwork and wood carving, canecraft, the spinning and dyeing of yarn, the weaving of fabric on shuttle looms or waist-looms, incense sticks and aromatic oils, decorative metalware, lacquer, tapestries, traditional toys and games, jewellery as the most common.

The lock downs choked not only the world’s tourist flows (which spur the making of handicrafts) but also, in every metropolis, city, town and district centre, choked the normal commerce that provides the baseline sustenance that local artisans and creative collectives depend upon. What has been seen often in the last 15 or so years, with the establishing of ‘creative cities’ networks (notably in Europe), is the blending of the three typical grades of culture in festivals, extending the benefits of state sponsorship which flows disproportionately to the top cultural tier, to the other two as well. When museums shut their gates, galleries downed their shutters and theatres switched off their lights, the locales for such festivals disappeared from urban landscapes.

A Chuktia Bhunjia home in Odisha, India. Mud walls and thatched roof.

A Chuktia Bhunjia home in Odisha, India. Mud walls and thatched roof.

‘High’ culture moved online, fitfully and awkwardly. Museums essayed everything from virtual tours to guided meditation and home children’s workshops. Symphonic orchestras began to run livestreamed performances. Avant garde design studios experimented with commissioning works that were supposed to represent responses to the pandemic. Literary societies hosted weekly online reading groups. Indie film-makers mixed and spliced footage from a smorgasbord of ‘on location’ cast members filming at home. Musicians did the same, collaborating by being patched in to sound studios.

These attempts to maintain a facade of activity were at best cosmetic, a falling in line by the centres and institutions that embody ‘high’ culture not only with lock down restrictions but also to have their regular visitors receive the same bland yet menacing message – stay safe, stay home – but from a source that is not government, not medical authority and not administration, a source which until January 2020 represented the very core of what is meant by ‘civilisation’ in ways that are fundamentally and necessarily different from what is meant by ‘economy’ and ‘technology’. The lock downs and their restrictions did not remove from households and families either economy or technology, but they did remove culture.

This removal finally, in late December 2020, when the “cancelling” of Christmas became one more administrative cudgel, was recognised by the UN and UNESCO. “It is not only the sector itself that has been hit hard, people have also lost access to cultural events. Since covid19 hit, many concerts, art events and festivals have been taking place online. However almost one in two people globally cannot access them due to issues such as lack of internet connectivity,” said UNESCO. Its choice of words was mendacious, for what had removed culture was not a respiratory disease but lock downs.

Its grudging admission of the elemental connexion between culture and social life was quickly given an economic cast. “The culture sector, which employs more than 30 million people globally, has been hit much harder than expected by the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout. The film industry alone could lose about 10 million jobs this year, while a third of world’s art galleries could cut their staffing by half or more. What has been in effect a six-month closure of concerts and performance, could end up costing the music industry more than $10 billion in lost sponsorships, while the global publishing market could shrink by 7.5 per cent,” UNESCO said.

The UN system agencies that have anything at all to do with creative community energies and the knowledge systems of communities – chief among them being the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Health Organization (WHO, especially where traditional medicinal systems are concerned) and UNESCO – trot out the term ‘resilience’ very often. They use this term usually in conjunction with the Sustainable Development Goals and with Agenda 2030. It is designed to sound caring and humanistic.

A woman of the Badjao (the sea gypsies of South-East Asia) cooks in the kitchen of a stilt house in Borneo. Photo: David Kaszlikowski

A woman of the Badjao (the sea gypsies of South-East Asia) cooks in the kitchen of a stilt house in Borneo. Photo: David Kaszlikowski

In so saying, UNESCO sounded much more like an economics thinktank than an organisation that has worked on cultural matters for 74 years, works through seven international conventions on culture, and also through dozens of regional programmes. Perhaps it took its cue from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which with a squarely macro-economic bent had said plainly in September 2020 that culture has to do with economics: “Cultural and creative sectors are important in their own right in terms of their economic footprint and employment. They are among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with large cities often containing the greatest share of jobs at risk. The dynamics vary across sub-sectors, with venue-based activities and the related supply chains most affected.”

WHAT CONNECTS THE WORLDVIEW of the OECD, the institutions and centres of ‘high’ culture, UNESCO, and the gigantic ‘development’ industry that the UN Sustainable Development Goals have become is that peoples’ cultures and ways of life, their everyday artefacts, their folk arts and expressions, all in fact that they derive meaning and identity from, fall outside what is called ‘cultural industry’. This is nothing but the full formalisation of community creativity and its translation into economic units. There is no place in a cultural industry view for the traditional knowledge systems that give a non-monetary value to a basket, that give a ritual value to a silken shawl, that give children delight in the form of puppet theatre, that fulfil a cosmological tradition when unleavened bread is baked for a feast day.

The Inuit of the Arctic, the White Mountain Apache of Arizona, the Yanomami and the Tupi People of the Amazon, the Gujjar and Bakerwal nomadic herders of the Indian Himalaya, the Bontoc of Philippines Cordillera are not cultural industrialists and have no use whatsoever for the distinction between formal and informal economy. In the same way, living heritage such as the collective fishing rite of the Sanké in Mali, the Enawene Nawe people’s ritual for the maintenance of social and cosmic order in Brazil, the making of the Noken woven bag by the people of Papua in Indonesia, the making of the Ala-kiyiz and Shyrdak traditional felt carpets in Kyrgyzstan, all these are unreachable by the economic formulae that would assign them a minimum wage, turn them into ‘resilience’ courseware, patent their medicinal herbs.

But the lock downs have gravely assaulted their patterns of life, and these were already tenuous. Their systems of knowledge, and the products and objects that emerge from these systems, could not and cannot be virtualised and livestreamed. The meanings and symbolism of everyday and ritual objects – which assume the avatar of handicrafts in a market – must be transmitted and the receipt of those transmissions must be tested.

The generation that receives the world’s great stores of traditional knowledge does so through what is so carelessly called ‘informal education’, but which is a teaching channel that has stood the test of time. The lock downs separated hand-made goods from markets, and when they did, they brought down a new wall between peoples who still fashion a hand-made world and those who have the sensitivity to sample some of it. The lock downs masked and imprisoned a youth that was ready to receive wisdom and learning from their elders, and chained them to laptop screens, and when that happened, the elders retreated into an exile of silence.

Written by makanaka

June 8, 2021 at 14:18

The hollowing out of India

with 2 comments

This is not about an ‘epidemic’. And it is not about a virus.

The awful series of events that have taken place since I wrote ‘India and the illiteracy of fear’ has occupied many people in India at least part time if not full time, especially if they are in one or the other of our major metros and especially Delhi-NCR and Mumbai (and more recently Bangalore).

For those new to this subject, here are the reasons that I have since early May 2020 called it a stage-managed ‘epidemic’, with its main props being face masks and the PCR ‘test’. (1) Before December 2019 never for any disease outbreak or epidemic or pandemic were the healthy immobilised and quarantined. (2) ‘Lock down’ was never and is not a public health measure, nor are any of the associated restrictions. (3) The face mask/covering is never to be used by anyone other than patients or hospital workers in a hospital/institutional care setting. (4) The PCR is a laboratory process and was never to be used as a diagnostic. PCR can neither find a virus nor can it measure infectiousness. Its ‘positive’ has no clinical meaning. (5) ‘Social distancing’ because of ‘asymptomatic transmission’ was and is false as a public health measure. (6) No medical research centre anywhere in the world has been able to prove that any virus, let alone Sars-CoV-2, survives our outdoors climatic conditions of +35C, +65% humidity, direct sunlight and moving air laden with organic and other particulate matter.

Some points to consider:

What happened in January and February 2020? There were less than 500 so-called “confirmed cases” worldwide outside China and most of these were said to be in South Korea and Italy. On 30 January 2020 the WHO declared a worldwide public health emergency. Yet the campaign to develop vaccines was initiated prior to the World Health Organisation’s declaration of worldwide public health emergency and it was first announced at the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos (21-24 January).

The WHO has been corrupt throughout the tenure of the predecessor of Tedros – Margaret Chan (who served two terms). The WHO brought in through various channels the interests of the global pharma MNCs, of the biggest philanthropic foundations and international financial institutions. Under Tedros (backed by PR China), this control increased. One of these foundations is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which at the 21-24 January 2020 Davos meeting announced with the World Economic Forum the vaccines campaign. On 24 February 2020 a new company called Moderna announced that its experimental mRNA vaccine was ready for human testing. On 28 February 2020 the WHO vaccination campaign was announced by Tedros who said that more than 20 vaccines were being developed globally.

The Government of India did not demand to know from WHO on what basis a worldwide public health emergency had been declared, and did not demand to know how experimental vaccines had already been prepared for a virus that wsa still called “novel”. Instead, three weeks later India’s national ‘lock down’ was imposed.

Concerning the two main props of the ‘epidemic’:

A massive expert review was published on 20 April 2021 assessing reports on 65 studies showing the medical harms of face masks. The key findings: the concentration of oxygen in the air under the masks was significantly lower (minus 12.4 in volume %) compared to oxygen in a room. At the same time, the health-critical value of carbon dioxide concentration in the air under the masks increased by a factor of 30 (!!) compared to normal room air was measure. The study said that this caused “a statistically significant increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) blood content in mask wearers”. In addition to the increase in the wearer’s blood carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, another consequence of masks that has been proven is a significant drop in blood oxygen saturation. This has the effect of an accompanying increase in heart rate as well as an increase in respiratory rate have been proven.

On the PCR test, the Public Health Agency of Sweden in April 2021 said: The PCR technology used in tests to detect viruses cannot distinguish between viruses capable of infecting cells and viruses that have been rendered harmless by the immune system, and therefore these tests cannot be used to determine whether someone is infectious or not. RNA from viruses can often be detected for weeks (sometimes months) after infection but does not mean that a person is still infectious. The recommended criteria for assessing freedom from infection are therefore based on stable clinical improvement with freedom from fever for at least two days and at least seven days since the onset of symptoms. For those with more pronounced symptoms, at least 14 days since onset of illness and for the sickest, individual assessment by the treating physician.

Neither the Indian central government nor state governments have reviewed or reconsidered any of their ‘epidemic’ measures for what they have done, since March 2020, and what they continue to do to the largest section of the population, that is children and teenagers.

How large is this section? The estimates (UN Population division) for 2020 are: age 0-4 years, 116 million; age 5-9 years, 117 million; age 10-14 years, 126 million, age 15-18 years, 126 million. The 18 and under population is about 485 million. They have been kept out of school and college for 13 months, in cities they have been kept largely away from their friends and peers for 13 months, in cities they have been kept away from extended family for 13 months, they have not pursued sports nor outdoor play, no hobbies and no cultural activities, they have been “taught” and “given lessons” through computer screens, and for those in cities and towns, have been confined in apartments often together with parents who are “working from home”. Their psychological condition is unknown. The effects of the non-stop, around the clock barrage of fear-mongering by the television channels on their young psyches is unknown and unremarked. This is a section nearly equivalent to the entire population of the European Union. They have been seriously mentally scarred for 13 months, with cognitive and learning abilities impaired in way that are neither inquired into nor understood.

Teachers and education authorities have been caught up in the hysteria of fear promoted around covid19 and many have lost all sense of proportion. Where schools were opened, the wearing of face masks by children and teenagers was made mandatory. This is completelty false and is an abomination. Children, teenagers and the youth have a susceptibility to Sars-CoV-2 that is so negligible as to be nearly statistically zero. No school or college can adopt such flawed government or local authority “guidance” on face coverings without failing properly to consider the impact on the children and staff (which they are obliged to do).

Where did the so-called “second wave” come from, especially when until January 2021 the central government was advertising that India’s recovery rate was >96%?

India’s urban population is generally more unhealthy thaan its rural population. Those who live in the major metros are generally more unhealthy than thosw who live in smaller towns. In regions like Delhi-NCR and a large part of the urbanised middle Gangetic belt, the quality of air is very poor. The Delhi-NCR region has had the worst air quality in the world (!) for the last three years running (!). The lungs and respiratory tracts of these urban residents is anyway weak because of cumulative exposure to airborne pollutants, year after year. Then they have been ‘locked down’ and denied what small exercise they could normally have. They have been ordered to cover their nose and mouth when outside, in temperatures of more than 40C or humidity of more than 80% (in Mumbai and Chennai). They have been ordered to cover their nose and mouth when it rains and wear wet cloth right next to their nasal passage. Damp cloth breeds bacteria which travel directly into the upper respiratory tract. A number of the 18 symptoms of covid19 are common to India’s existing respiratory diseases. Not a single agency of the central government and no state government has till date studied the effects of mask wearing on the health condition of an average urban resident.

These are the people who have been injected with vaccines under the “vaccination drive” or the macabrely named “tika utsav“. They have not been told what effect these injected substances will have on their existing ailments, they have signed no free, prior and well informed consent document to say they have been properly explained the risks and consequences, general and specific, of the injections and agree to be injected. They have not been informed about a process of lodging complaints about possible post-injection side effects nor about a process of compensation should they suffer a lasting debilitating effect, and they have not been informed about either a change in the status of their health insured lives nor compensation for serious vaccine-related injury or death.

These vaccination injections have immediately – because that is the intention of the western medical rationale for vaccine – lowered their natural immunity. Those who are healthier and fitter have had few or no effects. Others have taken ill, some seriously ill. The effect of a rapidly lowered natural immunity on those who are already unhealthy in cities, and whose respiratory tracts are already weakened, becomes clear. When they seek institutional medical help, the allopathic doctors, to allay fever, chills, cough, tiredness and shortness of breath are prescribed an armada of antiviral and antibiotic drugs. Some of these substances that can have fatal side effects even when taken alone. I know of several people who become even more ill with 500mg a day of such drugs but have been prescribed more than 4,000mg a day! Those who do not survive are counted statistically as “covid19 death” attributed to Sars-CoV-2 but not attributed to overwhelming reactions to toxic drugs, that is, iatrogenic deaths (whcih for years has been one of the largest causes fo death in USA).

Whereas in 2020 it was said by government propaganda and the media that “covid19 deaths” are “any death within 28 days of a ‘positive’ PCR test result”, in 2021 deaths one or more days after vaccine injections are counted as “with pre-existing conditions”.

The central and state governments, the PMO, the Ministry of Health, the Home Ministry, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Ministry of Science and Technology, have all repeated over and over again that vaccination is the only exit from the ‘epidemic’. India’s traditional medicinal systems – ayurveda, yoga, unani tibb, siddha, homoeopathy, sowa-rigpa, naturopathy and tribal and indigenous medicinal practices – have been all but outlawed. The wholly illegal “vaccination drive” of the government and supported by the BJP and all political parties (whether opposition or allies) is said to be “protective”.

This justification is false and deceiving. It is very well known in international medicinal science circles that on 1 December 2016, a verdict was given by the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court in Germany and upheld by the German Federal Court of Justice. This is called the measles virus trial verdict. It said that the first publication about the measles virus, the publication of the Nobel Prize winner, John Franklin Enders and his colleagues in 1954, does not constitute proof of the alleged existence of the suspected “measles virus”.

What makes this so important is that this publication is the sole and exclusive basis of all other approximately 30,000 “scientific” publications on the subject of “measles virus”, “infection” of measles and “protective vaccination” against measles. All statements thereafter on the “measles virus”, the transmissibility of measles and measles vaccination are based exclusively and only on this publication. Since the 2016 verdict it is now case law that this 1954 publication does not contain any evidence for the alleged existence of the assumed measles virus, hence it is clear that all 30,000 specialist publications on these topics are without foundation.

This is exactly the situation with the so-called simulated ‘modelling’ of the likely spread and toll of the ‘pandemic’ that was done by Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College, London, and Christian Drosten of Berlin Charité – the WHO backed both, and the government of India slavishly adopted the fake projections of these ‘models’.

Before December 2019, “lock down” did not exist in the world’s recorded practice and history of public health for respiratory and other disease outbreaks and epidemics. “Lock down” was invented by the Chinese Communist Party and propagated around the world by the WHO and its partners and sponsors, including its primary funders the Gates Foundation and GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, which is made up of the pharma and medical technology MNCs). All associated measures – mass testing, social distancing, contact tracing, health surveillance, and vaccination – for the ‘epidemic’ have come from the same source, the CCP.

India’s so-called ‘right wing’ media and groups – all supporters of the BJP – were very active in 2020 to call Sars-CoV-2 the “Wuhan virus” or the “China virus”. None called ‘lock down’ the CCP ‘lock down’ and none has till date. India’s record of public health has no instance of such a measure, ever, for any disease outbreak. The BJP government implemented, from 25 March 2020, a Chinese communist measure of social control. There has been not a single ruling party or opposition party Member of Parliament who asked why, neither during the September 2020 Lok Sabha session nor the February 2021 session. MPs asked about the availability of vaccines and medicines, but not about a communist measure that has been used at least once following the national ‘lock down’, and in several places more than once, by state governments.

It is the CPIM that is demanding “vaccination for all”. It is the same with the Democrat Party of the USA and its enormous left-liberal network of foundations, media and celebrities. It is the INC that is doing the same. It is the TV channels and newspapers that belong to the major media houses that are doing the same. And it is the BJP that is using all the muscle of the state to show that its implementation of a totalitarian agenda is better than what even China has done.

See for example: “India is the fastest country in the world to administer 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine. India achieved the feat in 85 days whereas USA took 89 days and China reached the milestone in 102 days. The Prime Minister Office tweeted: ‘Strengthening the efforts to ensure a healthy and COVID-19 free India’.”
And: ” ‘Tika Utsav’ is beginning of second major war against Corona: PM
Make targets at personal, social and administration level for ‘Tika Utsav’ and make effort to achieve them: PM”

Why the forcing through punitive measures of not breathing naturally (masks) and denying the sun (stay indoors)?
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (2, 3) says: “As long as the vayu (prana) remains in the body there is life, Death occurs when the vayu leaves the body, therefore retain the vayu
The face mask/covering will not let you retain the vayu.

‘Prana and Pranayama’, by the Bihar School of Yoga, 2009, says:
“Inside a closed room in a modern city there may be less than 50 negative ions per square foot and in the mountains there are about 5,000. It is now an established scientific fact that depletion of negative ions leads to discomfort, enervation, lassitude and some degree of mental and physical inefficiency. Negative ions are therapeutic partly because they kill germs. In human beings, they act on the capacity to absorb oxygen, accelerating the blood’s delivery of oxygen to cells and tissues. Negative ions are not prana, but when one inhales them the level of prana in the body increases. In this context it is interesting that negative ions work only so long as they are being inhaled. It has also been observed that the ability to assimilate negative ions goes up during yogic practices such as pranayama.”

Recall the 12 mantras that accompany the 12 positions taken during suryanamaskar:
Om mitraya namaha, Om ravaye namaha, Om suryaya namaha, Om bhanave namaha, Om khagaya namaha, Om pushne namaha, Om hiranya garbhaya namaha, Om marichaye namaha, Om adityaya namaha, Om savitre namaha, Om arkaya namaha, Om bhaskaraya namaha
These are the life-giving and life-affirming bhutas. We cannot be separate from them. India and Indians cannot be ruled by a monstrous totalitarian-communist system such as we have seen being formed in India since 24 March 2020.

Written by makanaka

May 11, 2021 at 20:04

India and the illiteracy of fear

with one comment

The great dislocation of public and family life began in India in February 2020. Events since late February 2021 show that the Indian public now urgently needs to better understand what is called the ‘epidemic’. Here are some points to consider. From mid-March 2021 several states began to report a rise in ‘covid19 cases’. This has led to an sharp increase in the fearfulness of the general public about what is claimed to be a ‘second wave’. Grossly irresponsible reporting by the print and broadcast media – they have done nothing else since February 2020 – has fanned the panic-hysteria.

During the last three weeks we have seen state governments and also city municipal corporations take shocking decisions that have no basis whatsoever in public health and are completely contrary to India’s record (until 2019) in managing disease outbreaks. The municipal corporations of Indore, Pune and Surat issued orders to private companies to have their employees tested with the PCR ‘test’ every week or twice a week, or to have their employees vaccinated, else they would face fines. Centres of education – the IITs and IIMs – have hardly been wiser, with IIT Gandhinagar coercing some 900 students into having themselves vaccinated.

The migrant labour population of Mumbai began taking trains to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and elsewhere from late March, fearing a repeat of the disastrous ‘lock down’ imposition of March 2020. The state government of Maharashtra did nothing then and has done nothing since to reassure labour in the city that their work and livelihoods will not be affected. On the contrary, the state government has for more than a fortnight been threatening a state-wide ‘lock down’. That this has happened in Mumbai and in Maharashtra is not happenstance. Mumbai is the financial centre of India. What affects its markets affects the country. Handicapping Mumbai and several other cities all over India has exactly the same effect as economic warfare. Wholly distracted by the round-the-clock fear-mongering of the media and municipal officials, Hindu samaj has failed to see and understand this.

In several states, there have been numerous confrontations between small businesses, neighbourhood and ward shops, single propreitor services, vendors, autorickshaw drivers etc and police and/or municipal officials who try to forcibly close down their business, which is their only livelihood. Several times these have become violent and at least once (Indore) these confrontations have resulted in death. The crippling of the economy at the levels in which most of the working and productive population is active, can be seen in every single city, town and district.

Since June 2020, when ‘unlock regulations’ were issued, the economic and livelihood effects of the ‘lock down’ have been blamed, gratuitously, on the ‘epidemic’/’pandemic’. This is false but has been repeated since many times by the central government through statements and the Ministry of Information’s Press Information Bureau, and repeated many hundreds of times by a press and broadcast media. The effects are entirely because of ‘lock down’ and allied restrictions, not because of a purported ‘epidemic’.

The completely illegal “vaccination drive” promoted by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Health, the Indian Council of Medical Research, together with health departments in the states began in late January 2021 using unassessed, untested, dangerous, experimental substances falsely called ‘vaccine’ (this term has a pharmacological definition, which must include testing, with test terms of reference being in public domain, and test data being ditto, and testing for all possible recipient ages and conditions). Central and state governments ran and still run mass vaccination drives in complete violation of every international and inter-governmental bioethics and health convention signed by India.

The vaccination of several million people has been carried out and continues to be in complete violation of the requirement that likely recipient of a vaccine can only have agreed to be vaccinated after free, prior and informed consent. In no government hospital nor private hospital or clinic anywhere in India has this been assured let alone fulfilled. The “vaccination drive” – or the BJP’s “tika utsav” ‘(vaccination festival!) in a distasteful and grotesque simulation of election sloganeering (which is very obviously the BJP’s only obsession) – has metamorphosed so that the outlet from the ‘epidemic’ is a ‘vaccine’, except it isn’t. In a country that says it belongs to a civilisation that has a profoundly well-developed view and practice of all dimensions of life and living, temporal and spiritual, how has it come to be that there a ‘vaccine’ (an alien concept to our system of medicine in every way) is the only remedy. It is a nostrum if ever there was one.

State government administrations – whether or not there has been election campaigning – have since March 2021 issued orders that restrict normal public movement and gathering such as curfew, the imposition of Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code citing the provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, bans on religious gatherings and observances, etc. None of these are supported by any public health evidence whether from India or anywhere in the world. These are measures of social control, they have nothing whatsoever to do with an alleged ‘epidemic’. They amount to the partial suspension of our Constitutional rights and civil liberties. The ‘right wing’ dislikes the term ‘civil liberties’, associating it with movements that are against the state, but the ‘right wing’ does not know that social, cultural, religious and customary rights and freedoms are associated with and part of civil liberties, and that what the centre and state governments have done since March 2020 and continue to do is partially or wholly suspend Hindu social, cultural, religious and customary rights and freedoms.

The absurd measures introduced together with the 25 March 2020 ‘lock down’ imposition – face masks and coverings, ‘social distance’, PCR ‘test’, isolation and quarantine – have no basis in the public health management of any respiratory disease outbreak and have, from May 2020, been shown to be false and debunked by the foremost authorities in medical science the world over (and more particularly from Europe, whose section of medical professionals with integrity is sizeable).

Not once since March 2020 has the ICMR, for example, proven how a face mask/covering halts any particle of the size of a virus (when the fabric gap of the N95 mask is >100 times the size of a virus particle), nor has it or any Indian government-sponsored or private medical research organisation investigated the directly hazardous effect on the respiratory and pulmonary system of the individual by binding a mask over one’s nose and mouth in India’s warm and humid climate. This officially sanctioned assault on the respiratory health of the Indian citizen – enforced by lathi-swinging policement and by municipal fines – is directly responsible for the health degradation of tens of millions of Indians (but especially children, teenagers, the elderly, the infirm), who were by February 2021 far more susceptible to respiratory ailments than they were a year earlier.

The mainstream English and non-English press and broadcast media have run a 24×7 campaign of fanning fear hysteria synchronous with what is seen in Europe and elsewhere. The Indian press and broadcast media has completely blacked out the many, repeated, demonstrations and protest marches in a large number of European cities which began in December – after a majority of European country goverments “cancelled” Christmas – and which continue till today. The only medical sources India’s media quote are allopathic doctors, the Indian Medical Association (which with well over 4 million members is an Asian fortress for the global pharmaceutical transnationals), and the leadership of the ICMR, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and India’s largest private hospitals.

In the land of its birth, ayurveda has been practically outlawed. Several important surveys and cases involving several hundred respiratory patients each with successful outcomes through ayurveda and a combination of ayurveda and yoga, remain ignored by Indian media, but also by the Ministry of Health, the ICMR, the PMO and state health departments. Ayurveda vaidyas carry out their treatment clandestinely through social media. Several ayurveda treatment centres have been forced to have their vaidyas and staff submit to vaccination in order to continue working.

These points, which only signal but in no way properly describe the calamitous turn taken by Indian society during the past three months, should be treated as a great red warning beacon flashing. The Indian public has been swept up by the crazed fear-hysteria which has altogether replaced any reasoning view and any reasoned method. Acute schizophrenia of the central government has been the norm since February 2020, but never more so that the January-February 2021 period, when in January it was still boasting a “recovery rate” of more than 96%, but then went on to push with the full force of all state machinery “the world’s largest vaccination drive”. A “drive” for what, when very obviously all those who have recovered from the set of symptoms called covid19 have done so by using cheap, safe and effective ayurveda, or siddha, or unani, or homoeopthy, or naturopthy, or allopathy (in the form of hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin or even more ubiquitous drugs used for influenzas)?

There has been not a trace – from the Indian public, let alone the central and state governments and their utterly corrupted agencies – of a traditional medicinal knowledge view about what was presented, by the WHO in early March 2020, as a ‘pandemic’. The precept of proper examination before treatment has been entirely thrown out. It needed aptopasadesa (instruction), pratyaksha (direct observation), anumana (inference) to be able to decide line of treament for which ‘dosas‘, ‘desa‘ (habitat), ‘kala‘ (period), ‘bala‘ (strength), ‘sarira‘ (body), ‘ahara‘ (diet) and ‘agni‘ (digestive fire), ‘satmya‘ (suitability), ‘satwa‘ (endurance), ‘prakriti‘ (psychosomatic constitition) and age have to be considered carefully.

Instead, Indians have raced into the technological trap of ‘track and trace’ and vaccine and the completely bogus PCR ‘test’ – a ‘test’ that can find neither an alleged virus, nor infection nor infectiousness but which has been rammed through our pliant public health system monitors to altogether replace even western medicine’s physical diagnosis, let alone the ayurveda vaidya’s lengthy and exacting direct physical diagnosis.

The Indian public has failed ayurveda, eyes wide open but seeing nothing. And that is why vaidyas are being driven underground, which is what happened in the 1860s and 1870s as the British Presidency medical colleges grew and strengthened their hold on medicine in India. Thirteen months after the imposition of ‘lock down’ in India on completely spurious grounds, central and state governments are again bringing in restrictions based only on paralysing fear-hysteria about ‘variant’ and ‘mutant’. Not once have India’s medical researchers mentioned existing natural immunity. Not once in 13 months. The ayurvedic vaidyas have, throughout, but they are deliberately unheard by the PMO, the Ministry of Health, the ICMR, AIIMS, Ministry of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology and all state health administrations. Indians should have heard them too, if they were not rushing in all directions to get themselves vaccinated.

In these 13 months, the Indian public has not asked about the effect of the ‘lock down’ and restrictions on mobility on those who have blood disorders but have not had their regular treatments, those with cardiac and pulmonary disorders but who have not had their regular treatments, those with gastrointestinal disorders, those with immune system disorders, those with muscle and tissue disorders, those with neurological disorders, those with psychiatric disorders, those with renal and urinary disorders, those with reproductive disorders. How many deaths has this induced negligence caused? What effect will the vaccines have on those with one or more of these conditions, for whom treatment has been interrupted and sporadic over the last 13 months? No questions, no answers.

Since February 2020 and with greater intensity since late January 2021, all sections of Indian urban and rural society has consumed uncritically the lies, propaganda, deceit and manipulation that is broadcast, around the clock, on televisions and by the same organisations, through their social media channels. There are the broadcasters that the ‘right wing’ have for several years disliked and abused. Yet the pro-‘right wing’ channels broadcast the same fiction, the same scare-mongering, about the ‘epidemic’. What the left-liberal press does, the ‘right wing’ press does, the only difference being that whereas the left-liberal press calls for more ‘lock down’, more testing, more restrictions, the ‘right wing’ press defends the BJP-NDA’s asinine decisions on the ‘epidemic’ to claim that it is being well handled. Neither side has displayed even the slightest professional interest in even providing views other than those given sanction by the global pharma industry, let alone tackle more fundamental questions of medical science.

Nor has the Indian public seen and understood that ‘second wave’ (as fictitious as the ‘first’) is designed to be a hammer blow by the global industrial pharma establishment which since 1860 has caused the world’s traditional, indigenous, tribal and natural medicinal systems to be marginalised or outlawed. Ayurveda is squarely within their target sights. For the medical-global infotech giants, who have collaborated on this nightmare project with the World Economic Forum and the World Health Organisation, the extinguishing of ayurveda would be a blip on the wider radar screen. That wider screen is the economic gutting of whole sectors of the economies of countries, the bankruptcy of their public and private sectors, followed by the acquisition of mainly public assets at throwaway prices. This is the World Bank and IMF’s structural adjustment speeded up by a large factor – The World Bank has a ‘Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health systems Preparedness Project’ that is to run until December 2024. Now I have given you a clue about how long this ‘epidemic’-‘lock down’-‘vaccine’ circus could run – if not challenged.

The WEF globalists – the Davos set – have had an important role in the setting of India’s ‘development’ agenda for the last 20 years. The contours of the annual Union budget are drafted by the international banksters, pension funds, the Bank for International Settlements, and the India country managers of the multilateral development banks. India’s monetary economists are peons who push and pull the levers as required. In the same way that the ‘top doctors’ of Fortis, Medanta, Apollo, Narayana Health, Escorts, Max, Columbia etc are crammed full of the very latest in western advanced medical terminology which they regurgitate to a wide-eyed and dumbed-down public, the ‘top’ economists and monetary wizards and ‘development’ technocrats are crammed full of the very latest in western advanced finance terminology and the same performance follows.

This is not about an ‘epidemic’. India had better awaken right now.

Written by makanaka

April 22, 2021 at 08:02

Farmers’ protest and the shaping of public perception

with 2 comments

Rioting and violence took place in New Delhi on 26 January 2021, Republic Day, allegedly by members of the farmers’ groups that have since November 2020 been protesting the three farm acts (‘reforms’) that were passed through Parliament.

My reading of the day’s incidents in Delhi – the destruction of corporation commuter buses by tractors, the videos of the Indian tricolour being dishonoured and a Khalistani flag being hoisted in its place, scores of Delhi police being injured and hurt – points to the beginning of a signal shift concerning India’s perception of ‘farmer’.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha – the umbrella organisation for the protesting farmers’ associations and groups – had for several days earlier said that the intentions of the movement were confronted from the outset by the central government which first stopped them from coming to Delhi, then by defaming the movement, using the Supreme Court to dilute the movement’s objectives.

It had for several days prior to today called for several events leading up to 26 January, such as a people’s ‘Kisan Sansad’ (farmers’ parliament), since the normal winter session of Parliament was cancelled.

The farmers’ organisations have been demanding a full repeal of the three recent agriculture related acts: the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. These have been dubbed the ‘APMC Bypass Act’, ‘ECA Amendment’ and ‘Contract Farming Act’ respectively.

The grave dangers to our systems of agriculture posed by these acts – individually, when read together, and when read against the background of legislation and policy over the last 20 years that has favoured the food industry over farmers – has been well written about and discussed in many fora and channels.

An example of the effects of changed perceptions about farmers

An example of the effects of changed perceptions about farmers

The new worry that has today come out of the shadows is that of perception: how the Indian citizen and particularly the middle-class urban citizen, considers the farmer. Until now the tone towards the protesting farmers’ organisations has been either neutral or somewhat supportive. This is so despite consistent efforts by the ruling BJP-NDA and its many forward cells in social media to paint the protesting farmers’ as ‘privileged’ by being beneficiaries of lavish subsidies, users of free electricity who don’t pay income-tax, incited by opposition parties, accompanied by anti-national groups and so on.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha and the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee represent some 130 farmers’ associations and groups that have come together in protest. The chief coordinating organisations are the All India Kisan Sabha and the Centre for Indian Trade Unions, both of which have studied and analysed the causes of agrarian distress in India since the mid-1990s (after liberalisation began in earnest in 1991) and which have consistently mounted campaigns to forestall the corporate take-over of crop cultivation and food distribution in India.

Placed on such a time-line, the protests against the three destructive new ‘reform’ acts of 2020 represent the latest stage of a continuum.

What has however happened is the hijacking of a legitimate protest and its expression by forces about which at this point I know very little, but whose agenda is revealed. The distance between especially India’s middle-class urban citizens and the sources of their food has only widened in recent years. As long as sorted, graded, cleaned and packed raw foodstuffs are available in local markets (or from online marts) little or no thought is given by urban India to farmers.

There is a residual respect (‘jai jawan, jai kisan’ was the slogan coined by Lal Bahadur Shastri, prime minister during 1964-66) that has continued to remain. If this residual respect continues to fuel sympathy for the farmer and his lot, then it also is a potential source of support to farmers’ organisations protesting further ‘reforms’. The previous term of the BJP-NDA, 2014-19, saw the introduction of a number of policy measures (called ‘reforms’) that taken together point to the intent to corporatise cultivation and the movement of harvested crop, to a much greater degree than is currently done.

Examples of mainstream media's reporting

India’s urban based mainstream media not only is removed from the concerns of the rural population but also is absent the experience to understand the cumulative impacts of nearly 40 years of neo-liberal economics on agriculture and food cultivation.

During the first term of the UPA government (2004-09), farming was seen as unremunerative and a drag on the growth rate of India’s GDP. This is a position held by central government planners and economics advisers that did not change during the two following governments (UPA2 and NDA2), both of which added laws and policy to accelerate the industrialisation of food, and which the current NDA3 government (from 2019) wants to further fast track. Hence the three disastrous ‘reform’ laws of 2020 have predecessors going back more than 15 years.

A commentary published three years ago had stated: “The government also expanded the definition of industrial corridors to include land up to one kilometre on either side of designated roads or railway lines serving these corridors. Organisations such as the AIKS had called for provisions to ensure acquisition of land to the extent required and legal safeguards for landowners. However, the rights of landowners and those dependent on land and community rights were all diluted and the basic tenets of transparency were ignored. Food security safeguards were done away with, and even fertile multi-cropped land and productive rain-fed land could be acquired without any restriction.”

Yet there is a series of hurdles that have come in the way of national governments since 2004 in their bid to justify and ram through farm and agriculture ‘reforms’. The hurdles are the conditions, created by poor policy and government’s subservience to the demands of Indian and foreign agritech industry, which from the early 1990s came to be called ‘agrarian distress’, which through the 2000s intensified as the national crisis of farmers’ suicides, and which during the last decade has taken the shape of an ‘unperforming’ sector that is seen as an albatross around the neck of an Indian economy but which is claimed to have great promise.

CITU statement

Part of CITU’s statement on the 26 January 2020 incidents.

The responsibility for the human and community consequences of India’s agrarian distress is the state’s, but none of the central governments from 2004 onwards has acknowledged it has such a responsibility.

Further ‘reform’ has been given a distinct shape and plan over the last four years. It includes encouraging (or coercing) the cultivators and agricultural labour to migrate with family to towns and cities, leaving behind their lands. It includes dramatically increasing corporate denominated farming (under contract) and corporate controlled collection, sorting and movement of food, instead of by farmers’ cooperatives and consumers’ cooperatives. It includes the plan to introduce genetically modified seed and crop. It includes the full conversion of human labour on the farm to automation (using GPS, internet-of-things, 5G, drones, real time remote sensing and robotics).

To begin to do this, the residual respect and fraying connect between urban consumer and farmer must be severed. This severance began on 26 January 2021, with the farmers’ protest movement being hijacked. The casualty will be the citizen’s regard for and trust in the farmer. That casualty will be exploited to offer to the citizen the ‘reliability’ of food that promises to be produced in an ‘agricultural reform’ regime, in which the farmer will have no place.

It is unclear to me as of now who the prime actors are of this hijacking and where the state’s interest is. India’s commentariat has little knowledge of the 30-year-old saga of agrarian distress. Its mainstream media has done everything possible to aid the demonising of the protest and has given no airtime worth the name to farmer representatives and coordinators. Both commentariat and media appear ignorant of the greater arena, that of the gradual outlawing of the hereditary farmer, and his systems of cultivation and crop management, from farming.

Written by makanaka

January 27, 2021 at 00:12

30 Jahre nach dem Tag des Mauerfalls, eine neue Friedensrevolution in Berlin

leave a comment »

Berlin corona-protest

Tens of thousands of people from all over Europe and many more from within Germany began reaching Berlin, the capital city, over the last two days to take part in today’s gigantic expression of peaceful protest against the social, economic, personal and cultural restrictions imposed by the German government in the name of public health.

Today’s massive march in Berlin is taking place after a very tense week, with the Berlin Administrative Court ruling just over a day earlier that today’s ‘Assembly for Freedom’ protest could take place without attracting a ban on any grounds. The Court argued that the government’s stated rationale for the ban – an imminent threat to public health and safety – was baseless.

Here is a selection of the coverage from outlets that I follow regularly (Deutsch -> English).

Corona-Protest: Erst verleumdet, dann verboten – Die Berliner Versammlungsbehörde hat für das Wochenende geplante Demonstrationen von Kritikern der Corona-Politik verboten, wie Medien berichten. Diese Entscheidung ist aus mehreren Gründen falsch: Die Begründung erweckt den Eindruck, als sollten mit dem mutmaßlich vorgeschobenen Argument des Infektionsschutzes politische Äußerungen unterdrückt werden. Sie erweckt den Eindruck, als wolle sich der Berliner Senat zum Schiedsrichter bei der Beurteilung von Protest-Inhalten machen, nach dem Motto „Gute Demos, Schlechte Demos“, das die NachDenkSeiten etwa in diesem Artikel beschrieben haben . Das Verbot bleibt auch dann falsch, wenn man sich mit den Demo-Inhalten nicht identifizieren sollte: Solange keine justiziablen Äußerungen von den Veranstaltern bekannt sind, darf der Inhalt kein Kriterium für das Gewähren des Demonstrationsrechts sein. Das Argument des Infektionsschutzes erscheint, wie gesagt, vorgeschoben.

“Corona protest: first slandered, then banned – The Berlin assembly authorities have banned demonstrations planned for the weekend by critics of the Corona policy, according to media reports. This decision is wrong for several reasons: The reasoning gives the impression that political statements are to be suppressed with the presumably advanced argument of infection protection. It gives the impression that the Berlin Senate wants to make itself the arbitrator in the evaluation of protest content, according to the motto “good demos, bad demos”, which the NachDenkSeiten have described in this article. The ban remains false even if one should not identify with the demo contents: As long as no justifiable statements are known by the organizers, the contents may not be a criterion for granting the right to demonstrate. The argument of protection against infection appears, as already mentioned, to be a pretext.”

Inakzeptabler Angriff auf eines unserer höchsten Grundrechte – Die deutsche Hauptstadt verbietet Demonstrationen gegen die Corona-Regeln der Bundesregierung und der Länder. Das ist ein inakzeptabler Angriff auf eines unserer höchsten Grundrechte, gegen jede Verhältnismäßigkeit und obendrein an politischer Dummheit kaum zu überbieten. Eine unbequeme, in Teilen extrem unappetitliche, aber vor allem (noch) eher kleine Gruppe wird hier in die Lage versetzt, sich als Kämpfer für unser Grundgesetz aufzuspielen. Und die Stadt Berlin hat ihr alle Argumente geschenkt und alle Gefallen getan, die man einer populistischen und wenig geeinten Bewegung schenken und tun kann.

“Unacceptable attack on one of our most fundamental rights – the German capital prohibits demonstrations against the corona rules of the German government and the Länder. This is an unacceptable attack on one of our most fundamental rights, against all proportionality and, on top of that, hard to beat in terms of political stupidity. An uncomfortable, in parts extremely unappetizing, but above all (still) rather small group is put in a position here to act as fighters for our Basic Law. And the city of Berlin has given it all the arguments and done all the favours that one can give and do to a populist and little united movement.”

Berlins Rot-rot-grüne Regierung wählt den Weg der Eskalation – Die Senatsregierung dürfte sich gefragt haben: Wollen wir uns wieder um Zahlen streiten und Nazis im Demozug suchen müssen? Oder wollen wir vom Regen in die Traufe und die Demos gleich ganz verbieten? Man hat sich für letzteres entschieden, als gäbe es keinen dritten Weg, nämlich den des Rechts.
Das muss man sich einmal vorstellen wollen: Die Bundeskanzlerin stellt in Brüssel zur deutschen EU-Ratspräsidentschaft gerade erst die Freiheits- und Grundrechte als hohes Gut „in den Fokus“ ihres Interesses und nur wenige Wochen später demonstrieren Angehörige von Merkels Koalitionspartner (und Möchtegernkoalitionspartner) in der Berliner Senatsregierung, was die Uhr tatsächlich geschlagen hat: Demonstrationen am Wochenende gegen die Corona-Maßnahmen – die im Übrigen ihrem Wesen nach ohnehin längst solche gegen die Merkel-Regierung geworden sind – werden verboten.

“Berlin’s red-red-green government chooses the path of escalation – The Senate government may have wondered: Do we want to argue about numbers again and have to search for Nazis in the Demozug? Or do we want to go from the frying pan into the fire and ban demos altogether? The latter has been chosen as if there were no third way, namely the right.
“You have to want to imagine that: In Brussels on the occasion of Germany’s EU Council Presidency, the German Chancellor has just begun to “focus” her attention on freedom and fundamental rights as a high good, and only a few weeks later members of Merkel’s coalition partner (and would-be coalition partners) in the Berlin Senate government are demonstrating what the clock has actually struck: Weekend demonstrations against the Corona measures – which, by the way, have by their very nature long since become those against the Merkel government anyway – are banned.”

Demonstration der Gegner der Corona-Maßnahmen verboten – Es wäre zu begrüßen, wenn das Gericht von den Behörden Beweise dafür verlangen würde, dass die Demonstrationen der letzten Monate zur Erhöhung der Ansteckungszahlen beigetragen haben. Unerwartet kam die Ankündigung von Berlins Innensenator Andreas Geisel nicht, die für kommenden Samstag geplanten Massendemonstrationen der Corona-Maßnahme-Gegner zu verbieten. Spätestens nachdem am vergangenen Samstag eine antirassistische Demonstration in Hanau zum Gedenken an den rassistischen Mordanschlag kurzfristig verboten wurde (Wie faktenbasiert sind die Demoverbote der letzten Tage), war klar, dass es auch in Berlin eine solche Maßnahme geben wird.

“Demonstration by opponents of the Corona measures banned – It would be welcome if the Court were to ask the authorities to provide evidence that the demonstrations of recent months have contributed to the increase in infection rates. Unexpectedly, the announcement by Berlin’s Senator of the Interior Andreas Geisel to ban the mass demonstrations of Corona opponents planned for next Saturday did not come as a surprise. At the latest after an anti-racist demonstration in Hanau in commemoration of the racist assassination attempt was banned at short notice last Saturday (How fact-based are the demo bans of the last days), it was clear that such a measure will also be taken in Berlin.”

Italy’s PM under investigation for enforcing ‘lock down’

leave a comment »

Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte is now officially under investigation for enforcing a nationwide ‘lock down’ in Italy against the advice of Italy’s scientific committee. The news from Italy, the first democratic country to impose a national lockdown, followed by others, is that the scientific committee recommended against it, but Conte over-ruled the scientific committee and had a ‘lock down’ imposed.

It was 9 March 2020 that the Conte government severely restricted the movement of the population except for necessity, work, and health circumstances. The scientific committee in Italy only recommended masks for those who feel ill. Among the questions to be raised by the investigation are: Who pushed for mandatory masks in public interior spaces? And, who was Conte listening to?

Here is the gist of the startling new developments in Italy, taken from two reports of the newspaper ‘La Repubblica’. The text of the two relevant news reports follows, in Italian, with an output from an automatic translator in English.

The first Repubblica news report, on 13 August, is headlined ‘Notices filed against PM and six ministers’. The main paragraphs are (Italian):

Avviso di garanzia da parte dei pm di Roma nei confronti del presidente del Consiglio Giuseppe Conte e dei ministri Alfonso Bonafede, Luigi Di Maio, Roberto Gualtieri, Lorenzo Guerini, Luciana Lamorgese e Roberto Speranza. Stando a quanto si legge in una nota della presidenza del Consiglio, con questo avviso si comunica la trasmissione al Tribunale dei ministri degli atti di un procedimento nato da varie denunce provenienti da soggetti di varie parti d’Italia per i reati di epidemia, delitti colposi contro la salute, omicidio colposo, abuso d’ufficio, attentato contro la Costituzione, attentato contro i diritti politici del cittadino (artt. 110, 438, 452 e 589, 323, 283, 294 del Codice penale).

Sempre la nota di Palazzo Chigi aggiunge che la Procura di Roma chiederà l’archiviazione: “La trasmissione da parte della Procura al Collegio in base alle previsioni di legge, è un atto dovuto. Nel caso specifico tale trasmissione è stata accompagnata da una relazione nella quale l’Ufficio della Procura ‘ritiene le notizie di testo infondate e dunque da archiviare'”.

(English): Warranty notice from the pm of Rome against the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Ministers Alfonso Bonafede, Luigi Di Maio, Roberto Gualtieri, Lorenzo Guerini, Luciana Lamorgese and Roberto Speranza. According to what is read in a note of the Council Presidency, this notice communicates the transmission to the Court of Ministers of the acts of a procedure born from various complaints from subjects in various parts of Italy for the crimes of epidemic, manslaughter against health, manslaughter, abuse of office, attack against the Constitution, attack against the political rights of the citizen (Articles 110, 438, 452 and 589, 323, 283, 294 of the Penal Code).

The note from Palazzo Chigi also adds that the Rome Public Prosecutor’s Office will ask for the case to be dismissed: “The transmission by the Public Prosecutor’s Office to the College according to the provisions of the law, is a due act. In the specific case this transmission was accompanied by a report in which the Public Prosecutor’s Office ‘considers the news of the text unfounded and therefore to be archived'”.

(IT): Conte e i ministri, inoltre, “si dichiarano sin d’ora disponibili a fornire ai magistrati ogni elemento utile a completare l’iter procedimentale, in uno spirito di massima collaborazione”. Successivamente il premier scrive su Facebook: “Ci siamo sempre assunti la responsabilità, in primis ‘politica’, delle decisioni adottate. Decisioni molto impegnative, a volte sofferte, assunte senza disporre di un manuale, di linee guida, di protocolli di azione. Abbiamo sempre agito in scienza e coscienza, senza la pretesa di essere infallibili ma nella consapevolezza di dover sbagliare il meno possibile per preservare al meglio gli interessi della intera comunità nazionale”.

Come accennato, sono oltre duecento gli esposti e le denunce presentate da cittadini sull’operato del governo nel periodo del lockdowon e dell’emergenza Coronavirus. Gli esposti, passati ai pm Eugenio Albamonte e Giorgio Orano, riguardano due ambiti della gestione da parte del governo: da un lato si accusa l’esecutivo di non aver saputo affrontare l’emergenza. Nel secondo filone sono stati inseriti gli esposti in cui si ipotizzano reati di abuso d’ufficio e attentato contro i diritti politici del cittadino per l’imposizione delle norme legate al lockdown.

(EN): Furthermore, Conte and the ministers “declare themselves willing to provide the magistrates with all the elements necessary to complete the procedure, in a spirit of maximum cooperation”. Subsequently, the Prime Minister writes on Facebook: “We have always taken responsibility, first and foremost ‘politics’, for the decisions taken. Very demanding decisions, sometimes painful, taken without having a manual, guidelines, protocols of action. We have always acted in science and conscience, without the pretension of being infallible, but in the awareness of having to make as little mistake as possible to preserve the interests of the entire national community as best we can”.

As mentioned, there are more than two hundred complaints and complaints from citizens about the government’s actions during the lockdowon and the Coronavirus emergency. The complaints, passed to the pm Eugenio Albamonte and Giorgio Orano, concern two areas of management by the government: on the one hand, the executive is accused of not having been able to deal with the emergency. In the second strand, the complaints have been inserted in which crimes of abuse of office and attack against the political rights of the citizen for the imposition of the rules related to the lockdown.

The earlier Repubblica news report, printed 6 August, is headlined ‘Coronavirus, the scientific committee wanted differentiated measures but Conte decided the lockdown for the whole Italy’. The main paragraphs are:

(IT): Il 7 marzo scorso con un documento riservato inviato al ministro della Salute Roberto Speranza, sull’analisi della situazione epidemiologica, il Comitato tecnico scientificio propone al governo di “adottare due livelli di misure di contenimento: uno nei territori in cui si è osservata maggiore diffusione del virus, l’altro sul territorio nazionale”. Nello specifico: misure più rigorose in Lombardia e nelle province di Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini e Modena, Pesaro Urbino, Venezia, Padova, Treviso, Alessandria e Asti”. Due giorni dopo, però, il presidente del Consiglio Conte con il Dpcm del 9 marzo dà il via al lockdown estendendo le stesse misure a tutto il territorio nazionale senza distinzioni e senza citare a giustificazione del provvedimento alcun atto del Comitato tecnico scientifico.

È la novità di maggiore rilievo che emerge dalla lettura dei cinque verbali, per oltre 200 pagine, che sono stati pubblicati sul sito della fondazione Luigi Einaudi, dopo essere stati desecretati dalla Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri. Sono alcuni dei verbali quelli prodotti dal Comitato tecnico scientifico per l’emergenza del Coronavirus e sono alla base delle decisioni prese dall’Esecutivo con i Dpcm. Documenti che che da giorni le opposizioni, e anche il Copasir, chiedevano di rendere pubblici. Pagine pagine firmate dal Comitato istituito con un’ordinanza del capo del dipartimento della Protezione Civile il 3 febbraio scorso. I cinque verbali sono datati 28 febbraio, 1 marzo, 7 marzo, 30 marzo e 9 aprile 2020. Ma non sono tutte. Mancano, ad esempio, le riunioni dai primi giorni di marzo, quelle della mancata zona rossa ad Alzano e Nembro, in Val Seriana.

(EN): On March 7 with a confidential document sent to the Minister of Health Roberto Speranza, on the analysis of the epidemiological situation, the Scientific Technical Committee proposes to the government to “adopt two levels of containment measures: one in the territories where the virus has been observed more widespread, the other on the national territory”. Specifically: more stringent measures in Lombardy and in the provinces of Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini and Modena, Pesaro Urbino, Venice, Padua, Treviso, Alessandria and Asti”. Two days later, however, the President of the Count’s Council with the Dpcm of March 9 kicks off the lockdown by extending the same measures to the entire national territory without distinction and without citing any act of the Scientific Technical Committee to justify the measure.

This is the most important news that emerges from the reading of the five minutes, for over 200 pages, which were published on the website of the Luigi Einaudi Foundation, after having been declassified by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Some of the minutes are those produced by the Scientific Technical Committee for the emergency of the Coronavirus and are the basis of the decisions taken by the Executive with the Dpcm. Documents that for days the oppositions, and also the Copasir, were asking to make public. Pages pages signed by the Committee established by an order of the head of the Department of Civil Protection on February 3. The five minutes are dated 28 February, 1 March, 7 March, 30 March and 9 April 2020. But they are not all. There are, for example, the meetings since the first days of March, those of the missing red zone in Alzano and Nembro, in Val Seriana.

(IT): In un passaggio di questi verbali contenenti “informazioni non classificate controllate”, quello del primo marzo in una delle riunioni dopo l’esplosione del coronavirus in Italia, si legge che “il Cts esprime la raccomandazione generale che la popolazione, per tutta la durata dell’emergenza, debba evitare, nei rapporti interpersonali, strette di mano e abbracci”. Il 9 marzo, poi, il premier Giuseppe Conte avrebbe annunciato il lockdown.

Ieri sera alle 21.15 erano stati trasmessi tramite PEC dal Capo della Protezione Civile Angelo Borrelli agli avvocati Enzo Palumbo, Andrea Pruiti Ciarello e Rocco Mauro Todero. Il Governo – si legge sul sito della Fondazione – ha pertanto deciso di rivedere la propria posizione, anticipando il prevedibile esito dell’udienza collegiale fissata per il 10 settembre 2020, innanzi alla Terza Sezione del Consiglio di Stato e aderire alle richieste degli avvocati, fortemente rilanciate dalla Fondazione Luigi Einaudi e sostenute da molti parlamentari e da gran parte dell’opinione pubblica. La Fondazione Luigi Einaudi auspica che il Governo compia l’ulteriore passo sulla strada della trasparenza e pubblichi autonomamente tutti gli altri verbali del Comitato Tecnico Scientifico, utilizzati a supporto dei vari DPCM adottati dal Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri Giuseppe Conte, nel corso della pandemia da Covid-19.

Da parte sua, il ministro della Salute Roberto Speranza all’informativa al Senato, ha detto che “la Presidenza del Consiglio ha già provveduto a consegnare i verbali del Cts a chi ne ha fatto richiesta e la regola della trasparenza è quella cui non intendiamo rinunciare”.

(EN): In a passage of these minutes containing “controlled unclassified information”, that of March 1st in one of the meetings after the coronavirus explosion in Italy, we read that “the Cts expresses the general recommendation that the population, for the whole duration of the emergency, should avoid, in interpersonal relations, handshakes and hugs”. On March 9, then, Premier Giuseppe Conte announced the lockdown.

Yesterday evening at 9.15 p.m. were transmitted through PEC by the Head of Civil Protection Angelo Borrelli to lawyers Enzo Palumbo, Andrea Pruiti Ciarello and Rocco Mauro Todero. The Government – it can be read on the Foundation’s website – has therefore decided to review its position, anticipating the expected outcome of the collegial hearing scheduled for September 10, 2020, before the Third Section of the Council of State and adhere to the requests of the lawyers, strongly relaunched by the Luigi Einaudi Foundation and supported by many parliamentarians and a large part of public opinion. The Luigi Einaudi Foundation hopes that the Government will take a further step towards transparency and will independently publish all the other minutes of the Technical Scientific Committee, used to support the various Prime Ministerial Decree adopted by the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For his part, the Health Minister Roberto Speranza, at the information to the Senate, said that “the Presidency of the Council has already provided to deliver the minutes of the Cts to those who requested them and the rule of transparency is the one we do not intend to give up”.

Written by makanaka

August 16, 2020 at 19:47

Posted in health

Tagged with , , , ,

To discipline a rogue ministry

leave a comment »

On 23 March, Ministry of Environment, Government of India, issued a draft notification, called the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, under the Environment Protection Act of 1986. This draft notification brought in proposed changes to the way environmental clearance for projects (industrial, infrastructure, commercial) would be given and changes to violations and transgressions of rules and regulations.

Whether the ministry, as ministries usually are, was partly or not at all in possession of its wits at the time is not known, because it gave Indian citizens 60 days to read the draft notification (83 pages) and reply with objections and suggestions, and when the national ‘lock down’ was announced the next evening, remained silent about the 60 days, until 11 April, when the draft was published in the official gazette.

How were people expected to read, analyse, discuss and respond to the notification when they were locked down and fearful? The ministry wasn’t bothered. How were people already affected by the many projects all over India that have degraded their natural habitats to take stock of the new measures? Not our problem, was the ministry’s attitude.

On 7 May, two weeks before the expiry of the deadline for citizens to write in with their objections and suggestions, the ministry relented, and then only because of the outcry over issuing an important draft notification during a ‘lock down’. The deadline was pushed back to 30 June, with the usual ‘cover my backside’ language that bureaucrats use because they know no other: “The Ministry is in receipt of several representations for extending the notice period expressing concern that the draft EIA Notification 2020 was published during the lockdown imposed due to the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic. Therefore, the Ministry after due consideration, deems it fit to extend the notice period …”

I have sent in my objections, and there are many. The only suggestion I have is that they all be sacked and have their pensions and gratuity cancelled, but I have not included that in my reply because it is off topic. Here’s the opening section:

“There have been more than 39 amendments and 250 office memorandums diluting the EIA 2006 Notification. The primary work of a ministry of environment is protection of our natural habitat in all its forms and for all the benefits it gives us. The responsibilities given to the ministry devolve from the citizens, from the many living beings that inhabit our natural habitats and especially from the spiritual and philosophical guidance given to us by previous generations about our prakruti, that is, nature in all its forms as it exists and in all the forms it must reach unhindered by our activities. I remind the MoEF&CC is reminded of this responsibility.

“Any change to existing law or regulation under the purview of the ministry, and amendment or addition, has perforce to continue to adhere to the principle and the scope of the responsibility, considered in its widest sense, that the ministry bears.

“At the same time, I remind the ministry that its responsibilities are defined administratively, as part of the institutions of governance of the state, and in accordance with the inalienable rights of the citizens of India, present and future, to enjoy our natural habitats and derive from it benefits, that in no way diminish the natural habitats, that relate to their health and bodily well-being, their spiritual and psychological well-being, their livelihood and household economic activities which are conducted by responsible dependence on the natural habitat.

“Therefore, the full scope of environmental responsibility includes all citizens of India, a pool of knowledge and practice that, under the principles just outlined, is manifold greater than that which can be commanded by the ministry. I remind the ministry that it is fundamental to understand and explicitly recognise this difference in scope of responsibilities.”

Here is my full reply to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on its draft EIA notification 2020.

Written by makanaka

June 29, 2020 at 15:18

The year of the mask

leave a comment »

'Safe Dream' by Alex Falcó Chang

Illustration by Alex Falcó Chang, courtesy Cartoon Movement https://www.cartoonmovement.com/p/7130

Psychologically, the face mask is a powerful prop. Flimsy and cheap, when it is worn, it tells the wearer that he or she is separated from all others whoever they are, family or strangers or colleagues. The mask wearer is reminded, every day and as many times a day as the television is switched on, that the mask is one’s protection against the deadly virus.

The face mask does more than this. It covers completely the mouth and chin and most of the wearer’s cheeks. These are what we use to signal to each other, through a great variety of smiles and grimaces, how we feel and how we empathise and how we laugh. The face mask has blocked these, just as surely as it is claimed to block a virus.

The masked society, fearful, with visible emotions trussed up, shuffling around to maintain, in obedience to unseen and unknown experts, the invisible boundaries called social distancing, has in the short space of 60 days, replaced the society that came before it.

This is called ‘new normal’. It is new, yes, but it cannot be anything except extremely abnormal. Not for a moment, 60 days ago, did I think India’s unruly and complex myriad of societies would obey and comply. But they did and they have.

How did this happen?

Around the end of January, a case of coronavirus infection was reported by the press. Between then and the middle of March, India barrelled along happily, perhaps in search of the tryst with the five trillion dollar economy. Elsewhere, the condition we would come to know as ‘lock down’ was being enforced.

On the evening of 24 March, ‘lock down’ came to India. The corona had landed.

By the second week of April, the face mask had become the equivalent of the identity pass. Policemen at road corners wore them, black ones. So did the Central Reserve Police Force who had been brought in to enforce the lock down. The few pharmacies that were open had no more to sell. I used a large handkerchief for severals days, like many others.

In our housing block, I spotted other residents, at times in their balconies, sometimes at a window, with masks. Why had they tied masks inside their homes, I wondered, where did they think the coronavirus was going to attack them from? Most of Goa, where I live, is a rural landscape. Rice fields, coconut and arecanut orchards, low coastal hills with light mixed forest, village settlements whose residential density is very low. With road borders between states shut, where do these people think the virus is going to travel from?

Televisions in most homes were switched on (are still switched on) all day. We don’t have one at home, haven’t had one for many years. From what I saw and heard, glimpses and short audio snatches of news bulletins caught from loud TVs on lower floors, there was nothing but coronavirus on every channel, every language. The children who would every evening gather in the building compound to play, were absent. The elderly folk, who took their morning and evening walks along the narrow green strips by the boundary walls, were absent. There was silence and stillness. You could sense the fear.

But outside, everything that normally ran, trotted, flew and crawled and wasn’t human was busy. Even more so, with every single open space traversed by humans now entirely free of them. The coastal skies that are usually clear and lucent, so unlike the soupy brown miasma of the cities, were now even more so. The winds blew in fresh from the sea. It was the perfect tonic for health. Yet it was the opposite that had been ordained, through two central acts. Remain indoors, shun the life-giving sunlight. Remain masked, repel the vital force that is clean air.

We had survived the first eight days of lockdown on the meagre stores at home. I say survived because the worry for those first eight days was not a virus, however malignant, but the shortage of food all over the state of Goa. Why was there no food to be had? Because the state government had issued orders that all shops, large or small, which sold any food staples must not open. Looking back at those anxiety-ridden days, I see that as having been the first sign of the hallucinations that had gripped administrations, whether in a state or in the central government. Nothing was allowed to open, not even the humblest kirana shop selling biscuits and wafers. We ate two spare meals a day.

The mask is worn by some as if it is a badge, to mean that you are fully conversant and up-to-date with the latest guidelines broadcast by your state government on saving yourself, that you are responsible about your family’s health, that you are a participant in how ‘India fights corona’. By others, it is tied perfunctorily, yet another demand by the authorities for which a minimal fulfilment threshold is calculated so that one may carry on – as far as it is possible to carry on – with a business, a trade, a profession, a wage earning activity, a family duty.

Policemen applied choke-holds to road junctions. They swung their lathis indiscriminately at youth who still thought they could contract theselves out for a day of labour and earn a wage, they swung their lathis at ragpickers. They swung their lathis at sons taking a parent to a clinic or a hospital, not knowing whether it was open or whether there would be a doctor in attendance, for every kind of complaint other than those said to be caused by the corona virus.

Illustration by Marco de Angelis, courtesy Cartoon movement

Illustration by Marco de Angelis, courtesy Cartoon movement https://www.cartoonmovement.com/cartoon/64747

They swung once at me, and I avoided the blow by accelerating my scooter out of reach. That is when I learnt that what the state had enforced was not a ‘lock down’, it was the mandatory incarceration of the healthy, it was the criminalisation of all movement by the citizen, with full and final interpretation of the extraordinary powers given left to the masked visage and twitching lathi-hand of the sub-inspector you were unlucky enough to have run into.

Pharmacies had no more masks. If you could get to one, and if it was open, they told you there were no masks, while wearing one themselves. Perhaps they needed to wear such masks, I had reasoned to myself, since if they come face to face with people who come looking for medication, they they should protect themselves from someone who just may be carrying the virus.

Looking back at that first week of April, I find that was the only time – two days when I set off on scooter-borne reconnaisance for pharmacies with shutters open, my face below my spectacles wrapped in a handkerchief tied behind my head – that I was sympathetic to the notion that an epidemic was sweeping through India.

It was the new atmosphere, one never before experienced by us, that made us believe the very currents of air could be hijacked by a malevolent virus. And this was north Goa, whose villages are sparsely populated, whose landscapes are those of fallow fields awaiting the rain so that rice can be grown in them, of coconut orchards, of hillsides covered with jambul, mango, silk cotton, moringa, tamarind and jackfruit trees.

Until then, we would rise at dawn and would set off looking for vegetables, milk, bread and whatever else we could purchase from villagers – from our own and in neighbouring villages – who had something to sell. I worried constantly about petrol for the scooter, for the little more than half a tank of fuel would not run the engine for more than a week. When raw foodstuffs became less scarce, I was able to consider again the messages about the epidemic, our environment, and what more than half a lifetime of experience seemed to point to.

Even until mid-March, mornings were cool till about 9 am, and evenings were pleasant as soon as the sun dipped behind the low coastal hills directly to the west. But seven or eight days into April, the mid-day sun had pushed the temperature above 30 celsius, humidity was rising and the winds from the sea began to blow with the gentle insistence that, by early June, would become the tile-rattling, whistling-through-window-cracks force that was the harbinger of monsoon.

One of those mornings, a peacock (for there are many which roost in the nearby hill) alit at the end of its long shallow flight from a perch on a tree and into the grass of the fallow rice field. The heavy bird touched down in the somewhat ungainly run and as it did so, a few puffs of dust rose up in its trail.

That is the sight which led directly to form the question which had shimmered, like a wraith, above the daily roll-call of news about the ‘global pandemic’ and ‘India’s epidemic’. How could any virus that they say can be airborne, and can be infectious after travelling along air currents, survive in our conditions? Doesn’t sunlight, direct and now unfiltered by smog and industrial emissions, end its career? Doesn’t its exposure to the open sky and breezes, which carry a myriad organisms, become a risk to its own survival? Does not the daily rise in the average temperature, fraction by fraction of a degree celsius, shorten its infectious life?

The home page of the Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, has created several special sections only on covid19. India’s existing disease burden has not been treated in anything like the same way ever since the PIB went online.

The emails I sent with these and other questions to the Indian Council of Medical Research have remained unanswered since the middle of April. A month later, I could see why. The ICMR was doing nothing other than covid19. It had replaced its website home page with a covid-only page that was crammed full of test data, cases data, testing protocols and instructions to testing laboratories.

It looked very convincingly like a specialised health agency’s war room against the great menacing power of the global pandemic. That is exactly what it is meant to look like, for the central government’s own information and public broadcasting units were blaring out, with social media-ready hash tags ‘India fights corona’.

I could see what was occupying the ICMR scientists and administrators full time. They were producing guidelines and protocols at the rate of two and three a week: ‘Specimen Referral Form (SRF) ID information for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV2), in RT-PCR app’, ‘Standard guidelines for Medico-legal autopsy in COVID-19 deaths in India 2020’, ‘Revised Strategy for COVID19 testing in India (Version 5)’, ‘Advisory for use of Cartridge Based Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (CBNAAT) using Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV2’, ‘Performance evaluation of commercial kits for real time PCR for COVID-19 by ICMR identified validation centres’, ‘List of IgG ELISA kits for COVID-19 validated by ICMR identified validation centres’, ‘ICMR Specimen Referral Form for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV2)’, ‘ICMR-DCGI Guidelines for Validation and Batch Testing of COVID-19 Diagnostic Kits’, ‘Establishing of a network of Biorepositories in India’.

All very impressive, all unquestionably showing the country’s premier medical research agency in the best light possible for being technically on the ball, all showing that India’s handling of the virological and epidemiological aspects of the dreaded pandemic is at par internationally with the best.

By the first week of May the effects of the around-the-clock barrage of fear-mongering by the media, television and print, with both making heavy use of their social media channels, started becoming noticeable. In my home state of Goa, I began seeing residents of our village attaching masks to their ears or tied behind their heads even while walking on interior roads or, more commonly, while on scooters and motorcycles. Our village roads aren’t city throughfares. If one isn’t driving past a house and garden every now and then, or a small apartment block, one is usually skirting a hill slope thick with vegetation or a cocnut orchard or a rice field. It was peak summer, the afternoon winds were strong, the swiftly moving air was full of all manner of microscopic objects swept up from the fields and blasted out from the orchards.

Every single time I was out, either on my scooter looking for provisions or taking an evening walk, I looked at fellow village residents (with a few honourable exceptions) their faces masked and harassed. Did they really think the coronavirus was lying in wait above them on the mango tree waiting to strike? Did they really think it was riding a fragment of dried leaf and would launch itself at them as soon as it flew past?

A few of the conversations I pursued told me that their fear had invented a life of its own. “Better to be safe no? Who can say?” “Don’t go out of the house mama, my daughter in the Gulf told me, you can catch it anywhere.” “Yesterday on TV they showed so many new cases in Mumbai. Better nobody comes from Mumbai here to Goa, then we’ll be safe.” This was new to me. Village folk are amongst the most practical of people, stubborn about what they hold to be true and stubborn about what they’re sure is untrue. They’ll give you an ear but not their agreement. They make up their own minds in their own time, preferring to be guided by the signs and symbols they find in the natural world around them.

The Mumbai municipal corporation got into the act, two acts, one the Epidemic Disease Act 1897 and Disaster Management Act 2005, to threaten doctors with the cancellation of their license to practice. Ergo, medical martial law

But this too had changed. Had I underestimated greatly the power of 24-hour television, and the social media rumour mill that reaches everyone with a smartphone? Yes I had. Nor were the Goans of my village exceptional. For by that first week of May, the national news media had begun to run news reports about what I recognised as a new behaviour, a phenomenon given the name ‘covid vigilantism’ in the west and in USA.

It wasn’t long before I saw it wielded here too. “Kindly place your mask properly” I was told curtly by a supermarket orderly one day. “No mask no service” I was told while waiting in a queue of scooter to fill petrol in mine. But it’s hot and we’re outdoors and there’s a breeze blowing, I argued. It was no use. “Put on mask or no petrol”. And one morning while waiting outside a groceries store one morning to buy milk, with no more than two other people nearby, a priggish young man smug in his fashionable mask barked “Please practice social distancing”. Practice social distancing? Whatever did that mean and what sort of language is that anyway?

The two organisations that are assumed to be advising the central government’s cabinet ministers and the prime minister’s office on coronavirus are the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Indian Council of Medical Research.

The Ministry has a union minister (Harsh Vardhan, with five staff), a minister of state (Ashwini Kumar Choubey, with four staff), a secretary of health and family welfare (Preeti Sudan, with three staff), a special secretary (Arun Singhal), three additional secretaries (Dharmendra Singh Gangwar, Arti Ahuja, Vandana Gurnani), thirteen joint secretaries (Vandana Jain, Preeti Pant, Sudhir Kumar, Rekha Shukla, Vikash Sheel, Nipun Vinayak, Sunil Sharma, Lav Agarwal, Alok Saxena, Manohar Agnani, Mandeep Kumar Bhandari, Gayatri Mishra, Padmaja Singh), an officer on special duty (Sudhansh Pant), two economic advisers (Preeti Nath, Nilambuj Sharan), and five senior official posts (chief controller of accounts, director, two deputy directors general, chief director).

The ICMR has 28 institutes all over India with a headquarters in Delhi. It has on its rolls a total of 153 Council scientists (separately, each institute and the centre has its own complement of scientific staff). Their domains of work include allergies, immunology, antimicrobial diseases, bio-statistics, biochemistry and molecular biology, bioinformatics, malaria and dengue, cardiovascular diseases, epidemiology, clinical medicine, communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, vector borne diseases, zoonotic diseases, epigenetics and endocrinology, genomics and molecular medicine, cellular and molecular biology, kala-azar, leprosy and tuberculosis, maternal and child health, oncology, pharmacology, parasitology, vector biology and control, virology.

What did they understand about this thing called covid19, what advice were they giving the central and state governments, what were they communicating to the 1.3 billion Indians whose lives had been turned utterly upside down?

Written by makanaka

May 23, 2020 at 23:35

Hindu ‘ganita’ and the maximum number

leave a comment »

Ganita‘ literally means “the science of calculation” and is the Hindu name for mathematics. The term is a very ancient one and occurs copiously in Vedic literature. The Vedanga Jyotisa (about 1200 BCE) gives it the highest place of honour among the sciences which form the Vedanga: “As the crests of peacocks, as the gems on the hoods of snakes, so is ganita at the top of the sciences known as the Vedanga.”

भारतीय ज्योतिष का इतिहास

Books such as भारतीय ज्योतिष का इतिहास (Bharatiya Jyotish Ka Itithas) by Gorakh Prasad (published 1956 by the Publications Bureau of the state government of Uttar Pradesh), have been shunted to the sidelines, or entirely out, of curricula. Jyotish (ज्योतिष) and Ganita (गणित) are inseparable.

The appreciation of mathematics, although it comes at a much later time than the time of the Vedic literature, is from Mahavira (CE 850) a towering mathmatician of his time: “In relation to the movements of the sun and other heavenly bodies, in connection with eclipses and conjunctions of planets, and in connection with the triprasna (direction, position and time) and the course of the moon, indeed in all these it is utilised. The number, the diameter and the perimeter of islands, oceans and mountains, the extensive dimensions of the rows of habitations and halls belonging to the inhabitants of the word, of the interspace between the worlds, of the world of light, of the world of the gods and of the dwellers in hell, and other miscellaneous measurements of all sorts, all these are made out by the help of ganita.” (In the Ganita-sara-samgraha of Mahavira, Rangacharya’s edition.)

It is characteristic of India that from a very early date there were long series of number names for very high numerals. While the Greeks had no terminology for denominations above the ‘myriad‘ (10^4), and the Romans above the ‘mille‘ (10^3), the ancient Hindus dealt freely with no less than 18 denominations. In modern times also, the numeral language of no other civilisation is as scientific and perfect as that of the Hindus.

In the Yajurveda Samhita (यजुर्वेद संहिता) (Vajasaneyi वाजसनेयी) the following list of numeral denominations is given: eka (1), dasa (10), sata (100), sahasra (1,000), ayuta (10,000), niyuta (100,000), prayuta (1,000,000), arbuda (10,000,000), nyarbuda (100,000,000), samudra (1,000,000,000), madhya (10,000,000,000), anta (100,000,000,000), parardha (1,000,000,000,000).

The same list occurs at two places in the Taittiriya Samhita (तैत्तिरिय संहिता). The Maitrayani (मैत्रयनि संहिता) and Kathaka Samhitas (कथका संहिता) contain the same list with minor alterations. The Pancavimsa Brahmana has the Yajurveda list up to nyarbuda inclusive, and then follows nikharva, vadava, aksiti. The Sankhyayana Srauta Sutra continues the series after nyarbuda with nikharva, samudra, salila, antya and ananta (10 billion). Each of these denominations is ten times the preceding one, so that they were aptly called dasagunottara samjna.

Pythagoras and Boethius

In this painting called ‘Arithmetica’, by Gregor Reisch (CE 1503), Boethius, a 5th century translator of works of Greek logic and mathematics, and Pythagoras (about about 569-570 BCE) are engaged in a mathematical competition. Pythagoras uses an abacus, while Boethius uses “numerals from India”. Boethius looks very proud, he is ready while Pythagoras is still trying to find the solution.

In later times, about the 5th centry BCE, there is evidence of number names based on the centesimal scale (based on a 100-fold increase). A well-known Buddhist work of the 1st century BCE recounts the dialogue between Arjuna, the mathematician, and prince Gautama (as given in the Lalitavistara, ed. by Rajendra Lal Mitra, Calcutta, 1877).

The mathematician Arjuna asked him: O young man, do you know the counting which goes beyond the koti on the centesimal scale?
Gautama: Yes, I know.
Arjuna: How does the counting proceed beyond the koti on the centesimal scale?
Gautama: Hundred kotis are called ayuta, hundred ayutas a niyuta, hundred niyutas a kankara, hundred kankaras a vivaha, hundred vivahas a utsanga, hundred utsangas a bahula, hundred bahulas a nagabala, hundred nagabalas a titilambha, hundred titilambhas a vyavasthana-prajnapati, hundred vyavasthana-prajnapatis a hetuhila, hundred hetuhilas a karahu, hundred karahus a hetvindriya, hundred hetvindriyas a samapta-lambha, hundred samapta-lambhas a gananagati, hundred gananagatis a niravadya, hundred niravadyas a mudra-bala, hundred mudra-balas a sarva-bala, hundred sarva-balas a visamjna-gati, hundred visamgjna-gatis a sarvajna, hundred sarvajnas a vibhutangama, hundred vibhutangamas a tallaksana.

Thus a tallaksana is 10^53 and this example shows that the Hindus anticipated Archimedes by several centuries in the matter of evolving a series of number names which “are sufficient to exceed not only the number of a sand heap as large as the whole earth, but one as large as the universe.” (Smith and Karpinski, ‘Hindu Arabic Numerals’, 1911).

In the Anuyogadvara-sutra (circa 100 BC), a Jaina canonical work, the total number of human beings in the world is given thus: “a number which when expressed in terms of the denominations, koti-koti, etc, occupies 29 places (sthana), or it is beyond the 24th place and within the 32nd place, or it is a number obtained by multiplying sixth square (of two) by (its) fifth square (2^96) or it is a number which can be divided by two 96 times.”

In most of the mathematical works, the denominations are called ‘names of places’, and 18 of these are generally enumerated. Sridhara (CE 750) gives the folowing names: eka, dasa, sata, shasra, ayuta, laksa, prayuta, koti, arbuda, abja, kharva, nikharva, mahasaroja, sanku, sarita-pati, antya, madhya, parardha and adds that the names proceed even beyond this. Mahavira (CE 850) gives 24 notational places: eka, dasa, sata, shasra, dasa-sahasra, laksa, dasa-laksa, koti, dasa-koti, sata-koti, arbuda, nyarbuda, kharva, mahakharva, padma, mahapadma, ksoni, mahaksoni, sankha, mahasankha, ksiti, mahaksiti, ksobha, mahaksobha.

My reference for this short note on the greatness of Hindu ganita is the ‘History of Hindu Mathematics, A Source Book’, by Bibhutibhushan Datta and Avadhesh Narayan Singh, Lucknow, 1935.

And finally, Pierre-Simon Laplace, the French mathematician, astronomer and physicist (1749-1827) on Hindu mathematics: “The ingenious method of expressing every possible number using a set of ten symbols (each symbol having a place value and an absolute value) emerged in India. The idea seems so simple nowadays that its significance and profound importance is no longer appreciated. Its simplicity lies in the way it facilitated calculation and placed arithmetic foremost amongst useful inventions. the importance of this invention is more readily appreciated when one considers that it was beyond the two greatest men of antiquity, Archimedes and Apollonius.”

Written by makanaka

March 1, 2020 at 20:57

Posted in history

Tagged with , ,

India’s material burden, gigantic and unseen

leave a comment »

Mumbai, view from a descending aircraft

Mumbai as seen from an aircraft coming in to land. Neither city households nor wards care about the material throughput they cause and live with every day, week, month. Electricity and water, packaging and food, all contribute to the household footprint.

Should a trend continue as it has done for the last ten years, then in February or March of 2021 India’s annual extraction of material will cross 7.5 billion tons. It was in 2011, only eight years ago, that the country’s material extraction had crossed six billion tons. This stupendous mass comprises what are called non-metallic minerals, most of it limestone, structural clays, and the several kinds of mixtures of sand, gravel and crushed rock that are used for construction, which in 2017 amounted to an estimated 3.2 billion tons.

[This article was published in The New Indian Express.]

There was biomass, by which is meant harvested crops – foodgrain, horticultural crops, pulses, sugarcane and plantation crops – and crop residues, both straw and leaves, which was an estimated 2.8 billion tons (sugarcane accounting for nearly 370 million tons), coal of 732 million tons and wood of an estimated 242 million tons (of which about 210 million tons were used as fuel). Collated from data provided by national agencies, the International Resource Panel of UN Environment maintains the material use profiles of nearly every country.

Apportioned by household, at the beginning of 2020 this vast material budget can be atomised to about 26 tons for each, in much the same way as per capita income is calculated, as a notional distribution, for each individual of India. Yet material allocation is a measure that, for all its tangible bulk, is treated as nearly invisible. Money and income, wages and savings, credit and assets are calculated and assessed to the third decimal by the financial services industry. But there is no corresponding industry to measure, assess and pronounce upon the solvency of the material intake of a household, whether in quintals or in kilograms, whether as fluid diesel or as grain or as burnt brick.

When it comes to the physical basis for the household’s shelter, its roster of daily consumption, the durable goods purchased and disposed of, its tribe of electronic gadgets, there is no literacy effort to be found run by any industry, or by government, or even by centres of higher education. The Indian household – whether amongst the estimated 96 million in urban centres or the 183 million in villages – is transiting from circumspection born of scarcity to profligacy in material accumulation.

Landscape of Pondicherry region from aircraft

The forms and vegetal densities of a typical ruralscape of coastal Tamil Nadu, this being near Pondicherry. Unlike the overground forms of a town, here there is no disharmony. Dwellings, orchards, crop fields, bunds, tracks, ponds all blend in material balance.

That the consequences of such a trend cannot be contained or managed in a meaningful way was already being signalled to us a generation ago, when our mega-metropolises (cities and adjacent urban agglomerations with a combined population of 10 million and more) found no alternative to the small hills of refuse and compacted rubbish that towered over some unfortunate outlying ward. Those hills have only become larger at a faster pace, and they are joined – as a new category of topological landform – by the waste and rubbish pits (‘landfills’ in the American vernacular) that the great majority of our class 1 cities (population of 100,000 and more) turn to as their means to deal with the accumulation of unwanted material.

How did the material burden of our settlements grow so quickly? Part of the reason must be ascribed to the collective race away from poverty, both monetary and of basic goods. It is rare to find today a discussion about whether a poverty line is reasonable or not, although a generation ago it was an important subject just as it was in the previous generation. The race has been set as one by the intentions and terminologies of a kind of economics based almost wholly on the concept of development. Thus one of the standard references for many years, the Cambridge Economic History of India, advised that “the declared goals of development policy were to bring about a rapid increase in living standards, provide full employment at an adequate wage, and reduce inequalities arising from the uneven distribution of income and wealth.”

Yet the development policies of the socialists, of those who designed the ‘command economy’, of the licence raj mandarins, of the globalisers, of the commodities capitalists, of the services barons, of the infotech-biotech persuasions, not one of these policy pathways has advised where sufficiency lies, and what to do after we have consumed our way out of poverty and into maintenance. None of these can, because ‘growth’ and market control is the engine that motivates their methods. Sufficiency – or consumption stability – also has the accompanying corollaries of societies making purchases last (by repairing and reusing them) and not purchasing at all.