2ndlook

IPL: The Empty Moral Posturing?

Posted in America, European History, India, Media, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on May 25, 2013

India alone, outside Europe, has been able to create and sustain a near-global sporting event. The IPL. India needs to handle the IPL more professionally.

Even with billions in American Football, the game has not crossed America's borders. Here is Running back DeShaun Foster (20) of the Carolina Panthers scores on a 33 yard touchdown run against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas.  |  Getty Images File Photo

Even with billions in American Football, the game has not crossed America’s borders. Here is Running back DeShaun Foster (20) of the Carolina Panthers scores on a 33 yard touchdown run against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. | Getty Images File Photo

Which American sport has been able to graduate into the global league? NBA finals? Major League Baseball (MLB)? NFL’s Super Bowl? These are the three biggest sporting events in the USA – which are domestic US events – with little TV viewership outside the US.

Across The World

The biggest sporting events in the world – Olympics, World Cup Football, Tennis Grand Slam, the F1 auto Grand Prix, are all events that were created by Europeans – and that have gained international buy-in and participation.

Not truly global, are top events in badminton, squash, table-tennis, volleyball, cricket that are second-level events with limited participation, viewership and following.

In Our League

Among the BRICS nations, Russia, South Africa, China or Brazil do not ‘politically’ dominate any sport, the way India dominates over cricket.

Even before the 1983 Cricket World Cup began, that India won, the future of the cricket world cup was in jeopardy. Without sponsors, the ‘politically’ dominant ECB and Australian Cricket Board, (now Cricket Australia), pronounced the Cricket World Cup dead.

India Bids

The 1983 Indian economy, beginning to feel the benefits of the Bombay High, had also seen the domestic benefit of the 1982 Asian Games. Based on the success of the Asian Games, which saw a dramatic expansion of TV coverage in India, the BCCI made a hesitant pitch at the world cup.

BCCI was able to obtain the support of the Pakistan and Sri Lankan cricket Board in this bid. A rather surprised ECB and ACB allowed this bid to go through – probably sure that BCCI would make a mess of it.

Start Of The Chapter

In the next 4 years, BCCI obtained a sponsor, Reliance, organized the event – and pulled off a successful event. From 1987 onwards, BCCI’s political power has only grown in international cricket.

Twenty years after 1987 Cricket World Cup in India, in 2007, India’s major home-grown TV network, ZEE TV launched the Indian Cricket League – independent of BCCI and ICC.

Without ICC and BCCI support, the ICL was a lame-duck affair. Two years later, the BCCI launched the IPL in 2008.

Let The IPL Begin

After the first few years of hesitant growth, in the last one year, the IPL has truly changed world cricket. A few important international players have abandoned their domestic teams – and made IPL their main earning opportunity.

The hold of non-Indian cricket boards over their players has weakened considerably – as the IPL earning opportunity is an alternative. Though no player has explicitly stated this, when pushed by domestic boards to choose between national team and their IPL earning opportunity, some chose to go with IPL.

The Numbers, The Spread

With many players from Australia, South Africa,  Sri Lanka and West Indies and fewer players from England, New Zealand, Pakistan Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, IPL has attracted international player attention.

With 8-9 teams, between 65-80 games, some 250 players, with nearly a quarter of the players international, with support staff that draws the best from the world, the IPL has become a significant sporting opportunity in its sixth year itself.

Such growth in stature and with system-wide revenues exceeding Rs.2500 crores (US$500 million), ensures that IPL in the next few years will be in the Top10 global sporting events. This figure of  Rs.2500 crores (US$500 million) includes TV rights, advertising, franchise fees, ticket sales, player fees, IPL merchandise. All this without any funds or regulatory support from the Government.

Between Envy And Vacuity

Already a world leader in the film industry, for a country like India, to define, create and deliver this kind of sporting event, with its softpower implications, has aroused equal amounts of admiration and envy. While viewership data in non-Indian markets is not yet available, based on player statements, it is significant.

It is time that BCCI takes the IPL more seriously – and importantly the mainstream media and the Government too, must handle IPL with some maturity. The amount of police enthusiasm, media noise around the recent alleged spot-fixing, exposed the complete lack of judgement.

A quiet phone call while the tournament was going on – and hard actions later would have ensured that the IPL success was not compromised as it has been now.

MS Dhoni (CSK) and Ricky Ponting (MI) with Danny Morrison at MI vs CSK 49th Match Highlights IPL 2013 - 5 May

MS Dhoni (CSK) and Ricky Ponting (MI) with Danny Morrison at MI vs CSK 49th Match Highlights IPL 2013 – 5 May

Smell The Coffee

The silly moral posturing on a simple sporting entertainment shows mental vacuity – especially in the mainstream and the social media. The chatteratti, twitteratti, FaceBookeratti, the Libtards and the Righturds have great enthusiasm in out-doing each other in empty moral indignation.

This moral noise, by those with negligible achievements of their own, over alleged questionable behavior exposes their mental vacuity. These questionable actions by probably 10 people is not representative or reflective of the effort and achievements of the 1000 people who are behind the IPL event (mainly players, coaches, support staff, franchise managers, media staff, stadium staff, BCCI administrators).

All that is needed is that these 10 people are adequately and significantly dealt with – post-facto. After the event. This unholy haste, while the tournament is in progress smacks of envy and immaturity.

Be Warned

Thankfully, Bharat understands this – and will turn out in gargantuan numbers today evening, and crown the winners of a magnificent event.

If India does not start behaving with maturity, be warned. Bharat will simply cast you aside – and consign you to the dustbin of history.

Time India took itself seriously.


India-China-India Face-off Ends: How Things Have Changed

Posted in China, Current Affairs, India, Media, Pax Americana, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on May 6, 2013

As for the current intrusion, all these war-like noises in the Indian media are good. It sends a good message

See how Daulat Beg Oldie can be used to cut off China from Pakistan and Gwadar.

See how Daulat Beg Oldie can be used to cut off China from Pakistan and Gwadar.

Right at the onset, the Chinese military contingent pitching tents at Daulat Beg Oldie in Ladakh was a gesture. It was, of course, very clear that India of 2013 was not the India of 1962, when facing China. The small Chinese contingent was making a symbolic gesture – and India was responding to that gesture.

The reasons are clear. Though not to everyone.

China has significant numerical superiority – but technically and qualitatively, India can hold off and beat any kind of Chinese adventurism.

The Great Indian Defeat of 1962

India’s qualitative superiority was also probably true even in 1962.

Keeping in mind that the Indian soldiers of ’62 had been all over the world during WWII. Unlike China. Except the peculiar situations of the 1962 hides this aspect.

What 99.9% of the commentariat on the 1962 War with China forget is that the Chinese used the cover of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was when the world came closest to a nuclear war – according to some. While the world’s attention was locked onto Khruschev-Kennedy confrontation over Soviet nuclear missiles stationed in Cuba, China played mischief.

From 1959, to 1962, border skirmishes with China and ‘friendly’ talks were the norm.

Three contentious years later, Chinese forces launched a surprise invasion on October 20; the same day the Kennedy administration decided to enact a blockade of Cuba to keep Soviet missiles out of the Western Hemisphere.

Only days after Chinese forces crossed the Himalayas, President John Kennedy wrote to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru asking “what [America] can do to translate our support into terms that are practically most useful to you as soon as possible.”

via A Forgotten War In The Himalayas.

To this offer of help, Nehru wrote two letters to Kennedy. Detailing what help US could extend.

W. Averell Harriman, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, and Duncan Sandys, British Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, led a small group of diplomatic and military experts to India on November 22. While the experts assessed India’s military needs, Harriman, Sandys, and Galbraith discussed the implications of the border war with Nehru. Harriman and Sandys made clear their governments’ willingness to provide military assistance to India but pointed out the related need for negotiations to resolve the Kashmir dispute. In a private meeting with Nehru, Harriman stated that unless tensions over Kashmir eased, the United States could not continue to provide military assistance to both parties to the conflict. Nehru reluctantly agreed to negotiations but warned that in the wake of the humiliation suffered by India at the hands of China, Indian public opinion would not stand for significant concessions to Pakistan over Kashmir. (via FRUS, Vol. XIX, 1961-1963, South Asia.

Indian proposals to the US for help in armaments were met with talks, delays, and inaction. A drip of US military aid started, well after the war was over and continued till 1965 war with Pakistan.

Under the cover of the Cuban Missile crisis, the Chinese gave India a resounding slap in the middle of still-friendly talks.

SECOND -Before Indians could retaliate, the Chinese had withdrawn and were talking peace. The world, in an extremely stressful situation, pressured India to accept Chinese peace overtures.

After slapping us Chinese ‘talked’ peace profusely – before we could slap them back. And in the middle of the Cuban crisis, the world was afraid that this border conflict could draw in opposing allies and deteriorate into a wider conflict.

THREE – According to modern Chinese analysts, like Wang Jisi, in 1962, Mao was struggling to retain his hold on the party. He alone took this decision to send those soldiers to give a quick slap and run back to the Chinese side of the border.

Mao – Not 10 ft. Tall

Wang Jisi’s understanding of Chinese motivations, goes on to cover how Mao

lost control of number of practical issues. So he wanted to testify and show he was still in power, especially of the military. So he called the commander in Tibet and asked Zhang are you confident you can win the war with India?” Wang said.

The name Zhang referred to Zhang Guohua, the then PLA commander of the Tibet Regiment.

“The Commander said, ‘Yes Mao, we can easily win the war’. Mao said ‘go ahead and do that’. The purpose was to show that he was personally in control of the military. So it had little to do with territorial dispute, (may be) something to do with Tibet but not necessarily,” according to Wang, who was also associated with the Institute of International Strategic Studies of Party School of the CPC.

The strategist believes that most of the wars fought under the CPC leadership had strong links with domestic crises.

“Everything China did in the border war with Soviet Union was triggered by domestic crisis in 1969″ and so was 1979 war with Vietnam which was launched partly because Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping wanted to emerge as top leader, he said.

Asked whether he was convinced that domestic issues, more than territorial ambitions, prompted Mao to launch the war against India, Wang said “Yes yes I buy that theory because I looked at other episodes of history.

“The general conclusion is that (India-China) border war was neither based on real interest in getting territory nor solving territorial dispute.”

Asserting that China did not gain much out of the war, Wang said he was told by a top Chinese diplomat who served in India that the “war was totally unnecessary”.

via Mao ordered 1962 war to regain CPC control: Chinese strategist.

How Now …

Unlike the 1962 situation and China’s use of the: -

  • Cuban Missile crisis as a cover
  • While planting a resounding slap
  • Immediately offering a hand of friendship

was classic Chinese.

Today’s India’s airforce with Su-30MKI air dominance aircraft, Brahmos missiles, aircraft carriers have no Chinese equivalents.

China depends:

  1. On Russia for vital engines for its aircraft.
  2. On it unreliable domestic armaments industry.
  3. It is also on an international blacklist for arms supply.

India, too is dependent on imports. But, look at India’s track record.

At the height of the Kargil war, India was able to muster the French and Israelis to make emergency modifications to Mirage aircraft. These modifications helped IAF to fire laser-guided bombs that smoked out the Pakistani soldiers from camouflaged caves in the Himalayas.

China & War

China has no such options.China’s track record in war scenarios has been patchy.

In Korean and Vietnam Wars the Chinese support and intervention had no effect. China’s invasion of Vietnam in 1979 was a failure. Its’ attack on India in 1962 was under the cover of international crisis. China’s was badly brutalized at the hands of the Soviets in the 1969 War with Soviets.

Keeping this in mind, China will be mindful of an open attack.

Peaceful India?

India on the other hand has a successful record against the US-Pakistan War against India in 1965.

Similarly, staring down the US 7th Fleet while attacking Pakistan on two front, or turning tables in Kargil.

In the all the three wars of 1965, 1971 and the Kargil War, China was kept out of the war, with only lip sympathy to Pakistan.

Gentlemen … Applause

But while all this was happening what do some Brown American do?

Here is what Sadanand Dhume was doing.

Other Brown Americans do it differently.

Another will ‘shield’ Hinduism, while attacking India’s economic achievements and future (auto, software industries, for instance.). Another will scorn Indian education challenges with a dubious US public school model.

These Brown Americans are no less than the more famous stone-pelters from Lal-Chowk in Srinagar. All that they want to do, is throw stones at something Indian.

NEW DELHI: The 20-day military standoff with China at an altitude of 16,300-feet in Ladakh has ended. After furious activity over diplomatic channels, coupled with two flag meetings on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, the Chinese troops retreated from the Depsang Bulge area to their bases on Sunday evening.

The resolution of the troop face-off came even as preparations were in full swing for foreign minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to Beijing on May 9 despite a growing political clamour to cancel the trip. Now, the visit will go ahead as scheduled, in preparation for the May 20 visit to India by Chinese premier Li Keqiang.

There was no immediate word on the conditions decided for the mutual withdrawal of the troops, confronting each other on the heights since April 15. The earlier refusal by the Chinese to withdraw its soldiers from northern Ladakh, where they had pitched tents 19 km inside Indian territory, has created a national security scare in India.

via China-India face-off ends as armies withdraw from Ladakh – The Times of India.



Global media investigation: 612 Indian firms in tax havens – Indian Express

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, India, Pax Americana, politics, Propaganda by Anuraag Sanghi on April 4, 2013

Only 612 Indian names, mostly businessmen, in the 1.2 lakh names. This vindicates 2ndlook reading on corruption in India.

For at least 5 years, it has been 2ndlook position that corruption in India is a small problem. All those stories about trillions in Swiss accounts, turned out to be just hot air. Based on 2ndlook at some economic and business realities it was clear that these corruption-in-India claims were just plain flibbertigibbet.

Arvind Kejriwal, Anna-bhau take that. Eat crow now.

Now we have data.

Indians businessmen are a small part of this offshore mechanism. This data is broadly in line with the trend. For India, which is a Top-5 economy, to have so few people in the list proves two things.

One: Indian take on corruption is round-tripped back into India.

Two: Indians generally lack faith in these corporate structures – and would rather hand over money to their CAs, who will handle this for free.

Typically, specialist Indian CAs handle this money on a simple understanding. Only the principal will be returned – and actual investments at the instruction of the beneficiary, if any, will come back to the beneficiary. Otherwise all risks and benefits from the deployment of these funds will be the CAs take.

Three: Indians understand money much better – and can handle it themselves instead of saand-ka-tel (snake-oil) MNC salesmen.

In the next few days we will read and hear more. But on thing is clear. Indian Express will not be able to suppress it – as the same data can be released by other media houses in the rest of the world.

I presume in the next 2-3 months, this data will be publicly available – and data-scraping software will be used by others.

Here is the initial story.

In the biggest global expose of its kind on offshore investments and secret financial transactions, an international group of investigative journalists has found details of more than 1.2 lakh offshore entities and trusts belonging to individuals and companies in more than 170 countries and territories, including India.

These individuals and companies include politicians, the mega rich and tax offenders, among others, who have invested in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands, Samoa and other offshore hideaways.

The 612 Indians in this list include two members of Parliament — Lok Sabha Congress MP Vivekanand Gaddam and RS member Vijay Mallya — and several industrialists such as Ravikant Ruia, Samir Modi, Chetan Burman, Abhey Kumar Oswal, Rahul Mammen Mappillai, Teja Raju, Saurabh Mittal and Vinod Doshi.

The list also includes businessmen who have had a brush with authorities such as the Income-Tax department and the CBI. Several of the offshore investments were made in possible violation of RBI and FEMA rules.

Details of these transactions were contained in 2.5 million secret files and accounted for more than 260 gigabytes of data. They were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and their total size is more than 160 times larger than the leak of the US State Department documents by Wikileaks in 2010.

Based in Washington DC, ICIJ (www.icij.org) is an independent network of reporters who work together on cross-border investigations. ICIJ collaborated with 38 media organisations around the world, including the The Indian Express, for this ambitious global project and to analyse the documents. The other media partners include The Washington Post in the US, The Guardian and BBC in Britain, Le Monde in France and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

The 15-month long investigation has found that alongside perfectly legal transactions, the secrecy and lax oversight offered by the offshore world allows fraud, tax dodging and political corruption to thrive. The expose has also thrown light on the functioning of “nominee directors” in offshore companies, several of whom have also been engaged by Indian patrons of offshore companies.

For instance, a cluster of 28 “sham directors” have been identified as having served as the on-paper representatives of more than 21,000 companies between them, with some individual directors representing as many as 4,000 companies each. The expose comes shortly after a list of 18 Indians who had bank accounts in the LGT Liechtenstein Bank and around 700 Indians who had accounts in HSBC in Geneva became public. In both cases, account holders were prosecuted and paid penalties to Income-Tax authorities for deposits they had made abroad without paying taxes in India.

via Global media investigation finds 612 Indian firms in tax havens – Indian Express.

Anuraag Sanghi  |  February 24, 2011″ href=”http://quicktake.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/even-god-cant-help-you-corruption-ii/” target=”_blank”>c

Christian Madarasas: Making A Comeback?

Posted in America, India, Media, politics, Propaganda, Religion, Satire by Anuraag Sanghi on March 16, 2013

Just like the Taliban, modern Christian West can be paranoid about people who eat differently, dress differently. Remember the dot-busters. Or the anti-yoga wave.

If Islamic madarsas taught Koran and gave rise to Taliban, will we see Christian madarsas and Christian Taliban when Western schools re-start teaching Bible?

Republican Democracies

By the time Napoleon started secular education in France, Christian Taliban reared in Christian madarsas, had already wiped out entire populations in North America and Australia, ravaged the South American and African continents – and killed tens of millions in India and Asia.

Talibanic Roots

The word Taliban comes from talib – that is one who has received taalim – education. Usually at a madarsa. Designed to give competence in Arabic, build knowledge in Quran and Muslim theology, madarsas have long been the backbone of Islāmic education.

Why is post-Napoleonic, secular, State-controlled education system so afraid of religion? Why is the Bible not taught in schools? The Western experience with the Church, Christianity – the persecution and oppression that came along with it, has deeply scarred the people in the West. Knowing the method of religion, Western liberals resist the idea of religion in public life and State support for religion.

But is there a chance of Christian madarsas making a comeback?

Thirty Days and Thirty Nights

The last one month alone has given a strong indication that Christian madarsas may not be a far-fetched idea.

To start with we have a respected business publication the Wall Street Journal giving prominence, through their Op-Ed page, to the idea that Bible must be taught in American schools.

of the many things we say and do every day that have their origins in the most read, most influential book of all time. The Bible has affected the world for centuries in innumerable ways, including art, literature, philosophy, government, philanthropy, education, social justice and humanitarianism. One would think that a text of such significance would be taught regularly in schools. Not so. That is because of the “stumbling block” (the Bible again) that is posed by the powers that be in America.

It’s time to change that, for the sake of the nation’s children. It’s time to encourage, perhaps even mandate, the teaching of the Bible in public schools as a primary document of Western civilization.

We know firsthand of its educational value, having grown up in Europe—Mark in England, Roma in Ireland—where Bible teaching was viewed as foundational to a well-rounded education. Now that we are naturalized U.S. citizens, we want to encourage public schools in America to give young people the same opportunity.

This is one of the reasons we created “The Bible,” a 10-part miniseries premiering March 3 on the History Channel that dramatizes key stories from Scriptures. It will encourage audiences around the world to open or reopen Bibles to understand and enjoy these stories.

Teaching the Bible is of course a touchy subject. One can’t broach it without someone barking “separation of church and state” and “forcing religion down my throat.”

Yet the Supreme Court has said it’s perfectly OK for schools to do so, ruling in 1963 (Abington School District v. Schempp) that “the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as a part of a secular (public school) program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.”

The Supreme Court understood that we’re not talking about religion here, and certainly not about politics. We’re talking about knowledge. The foundations of knowledge of the ancient world—which informs the understanding of the modern world—are biblical in origin. Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president known more as a cigar-chomping Rough Rider than a hymn-signing Bible-thumper, once said: “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”

Interestingly enough, the common desktop reference guide “The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy” best sums up the Bible’s value as a tool of cultural literacy. Its first page declares: “No one in the English speaking world can be considered literate without a basic knowledge of the Bible.”

via Roma Downey and Mark Burnett: Why Public Schools Should Teach the Bible – WSJ.com.

More Important Than The Bible

There are more important parts of Western civilization that probably need studying – which are now hidden. To start with, how about the pagan past – before Christian misrule, oppression and persecution killed all alternatives – except the One Book. Tired of Church oppression and persecution, Western liberals are wary of a Bible comeback.

700 years ago, Cristian authorities governing Europe resisted the idea of using the decimal system – invented in India, adopted by the Arabs and spread across the world by Genghis Khan’s Mongol Empire. To see how important this was for Europe, try multiplying using Roman numbers DCLXXVIII (678) with DCCLXXXIX (789).

Could Europe’s 500 year leap of technology have happened without Indian decimal system?

Yoga teacher Jackie Bergenon at Paul Ecke Central Elementary School in Encinitas, California, USA - conducting a yoga class. Credit: Eduardo Contreras / U-T San Diego; source & courtesy - latimes.com

Yoga teacher Jackie Bergenon at Paul Ecke Central Elementary School in Encinitas, California, USA – conducting a yoga class. Credit: Eduardo Contreras / U-T San Diego; source & courtesy – latimes.com

Yoga & Islam

A few years ago, in November 2008, Islāmic clerics in Malaysia declared that yoga was un-Islāmic. A few weeks later, Indonesian clerics added their voice to Malay’s Islāmic voices against yoga – and to be shunned by Muslims. Indians (especially the Right Wing types) nodded their heads, with an expression that said, “I told you so!”

Western media has been quick to pounce on this anti-yoga attitude as Islāmic fundamentalism. Curiously, Islāmic attitudes against yoga were probably inspired by Christian tirade against yoga since the 80s. When Playboy releases a nude yoga tutorial, you can be sure that yoga has truly arrived in the US. Estimated at more than US$3 billion (Rs.15000 crores), a few years ago, with 15-20 million (1.5 crore) users, yoga is no passing fad in the US.

If Not Ban, License It

Conservative, Christian America is doing everything possible to stop yoga.

Starting with licenses and regulation, going to stories planted in New York Times on the ‘harm’ that yoga can cause, to a conspiracy theory that yoga is a plot by Hindu ‘missionaries’ to convert Christian Americans. Canada is not far behind in this anti-yoga activism by the Church.

A few parents are resisting yoga in American schools. Their suit filed in California courts seeks to stop yoga from schools.

Reason: Yoga is religious indoctrination, ‘inherently and pervasively religious, having its roots firmly planted in Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist and western metaphysical religious beliefs and practices.

Christian yoga teachers, like Tara Guber, have tried to handle theological objections from Christians by stripping all ‘Hindu’ elements from yoga.

Assertions like these from Christians that seek to strip yoga from its Hindu roots drive Hindu yoga experts up the wall. Subhas R. Tiwari, a professor at the Hindu University of America who holds a master’s degree in yoga philosophy, states: “Such efforts [to Christianize yoga] point to a concerted, long-term plan to deny yoga its origin. This effort . . . is far from innocent. It is reminiscent of the pattern evident throughout the long history and dynamics of colonizing powers” (“Yoga Renamed is Still Hindu,” Hinduism Today, January-February-March 2006). Tiwari believes efforts to Christianize yoga are unjust “encroachment” and thinly veiled Christian proselytism of Hindus.

via The Trouble with Yoga | Catholic Answers.

Rajiv Malhotra of the Infinity Foundation, joins this issue with conservative Christians – confirming that yoga does have a philosophy which goes deeper than simple body positions and physical exercises – which undercut the savior-approach of Christianity.

Prejudice and paranoia. Like in the case of the Russian ‘Barbie Doll!

'Barbie' Valeria on the beach  |  Image source & courtesy - thesun.co.uk

‘Barbie’ Valeria on the beach | Image source & courtesy – thesun.co.uk

From Russia, With Love

Known for her Barbie-doll like looks, apart from her native Ukraine, media attention from the British media has been widespread. Her videos have been a YouTube sensation, with more than ten million hits. And a million followers on Facebook.

Reportedly, a meditation practitioner, Valeria Lukyanova sports a bindi, teaches at a spirituality school. Known to her students as Amatue – from the Atlantean language, meaning “Goddess of the Sun.”

After becoming a vegetarian, she is practicing how to use prana in yogic way, to sustain her life. For long a heavy alcohol user, she now lives on fruit juices and chutney-like vegetable purées.

For some time, her very existence was in question. Her appearance seemed photo-perfect – apart from one breast-augmentation surgery, she is supposedly ‘real’, without plastic surgery.

There is nothing in her background that is known, which can lead the media to be critical of her. Without a criminal record, with no known underworld links, there is no reason for media to be critical of her. Not even drugs. Not hungry for media attention, British newspaper The Independent reported “after much persuasion, Ms Lukyanova agreed to meet The Independent for lunch”.

Valeria Lukyanova with mother Irina  |  Image source & courtesy - thesun.co.uk

Valeria Lukyanova with mother Irina | Image source & courtesy – thesun.co.uk

So why is this British journo so dismissive about Valeria ‘Barbie’ Lukyanova? Is it because she does not eat beef, steak – but instead ‘a glass of freshly squeezed celery and carrot juice, mixed together with a trio of gloopy Indian chutneys into a devilish cocktail.’ Explaining herself, to this prejudiced journo, while ‘taking small sips of the slimy drink.’

Is Shaun Walker worried about ‘Lukyanova’s spirituality, which she propagates online and teaches in a series of lectures and seminars, is based on vegetarianism and meditation.’ while ‘not linked to any religion, though she admits it draws much from Buddhism.’ Is Shaun Walker negative because, ‘Lukyanova remains the best known of the dolls and her “spiritual teachings” and as  ‘found a receptive audience among many young women’. The entire post is dripping with paranoia and innuendo – against a harmless, pretty 23-year old girl from Ukraine.

Why. Just Why? WHY?


Islamic World: Last 100 Years

Posted in History, Pax Americana, politics, Propaganda by Anuraag Sanghi on March 9, 2013

Fundamentalist Islam has, apart from the solitary success of increasing enlistment, delivered nothing on political governance, economic growth, social justice, modernization of education or even military preparedness..

August 1953: Scenes from the coup that Iran will not forget.

August 1953: Scenes from the coup that Iran will not forget.

By the middle of the 19th century (1850), decline of Islamic empires was truly and completely real.

Empires Of Islam

After a 1000 years of expansion and dominance, by 1850 just two declining Islamic powers were left to compete on the world’s imperial stage. One was the Mughal Empire that controlled India. An India, that was: -

The other major Islamic Empire was the Ottoman Empire, centered in modern Turkey, that controlled a geography from the borders of Iran to the outskirts of Europe.

From Western Seas

Opposing these Islamic Empires were the Christian colonial Empires of Spain & Portugal, France and Britain.

The first challenge to the Christian colonial Empires came from India – with the Anglo-Indian War of 1857.

Stretching over a period of nearly two years, the alliance was nominally headed by the Mughal Emperor, and the war was mainly between the Marathas and a mercenary army of Indian soldiers, raised and equipped by the British. The war-chests of Maratha-Mughal alliance were puny compared to the British capital – bolstered by huge capital inflows from slave trade, slave plantations of sugar and tobacco, apart from piracy, loot and plunder.

Within two years, the Mughal Empire was over.

Minor Islamic kingdoms of Egypt and Persia ruled at British sufferance. The Ottoman Empire folded up 60 years later.

In 1920.

Street scenes from August 1953 coup in Iran.

Street scenes from August 1953 coup in Iran.

Under Western Thumbs

Nearly a 100-years after the end of the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic world is still ruled by Western puppets.

In Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Egypt – or a Turkey which is happy being at the periphery of every Western alliance – CENTO, European Union, etc.

Under Nasser or Yasser Arafat, people mobilization was a political movement – the agenda being independence from Western subjugation.

All these movements succumbed to religious obscurantism after the overthrow of Shah Of Iran. Iran’s incendiary mix of religion and anti-American politics found a Sunni resonance in Saudi Arabia with a Wahhabi revival. Pakistan turned from Deobandi to Wahhabi strains of Islam.

Desperate situations call for desperate …

The use of fundamentalist Islam has been successful in increasing citizen enlistment against the West. Apart from the solitary success of increasing enlistment, the Shia-Sunni consensus on fundamentalism has delivered nothing on political governance, economic growth, social justice, modernization of education or even military preparedness. This uni-dimensional agenda of ‘modern’ Islam has many detractors within and outside the Islamic world.

In the last 40-odd years

Recently released classified information and memoirs by retired spies, provide a more complex picture of the CIA, its effectiveness, and its overall power, suggesting that at times Langley was manned not by James Bond clones but by a bunch of keystone cops. My favorite clandestine CIA operation, recounted in Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes, involves its 1994 surveillance of the newly appointed American ambassador to Guatemala, Marilyn McAfee. When the agency bugged her bedroom, it picked up sounds that led agents to conclude that the ambassador was having a lesbian love affair with her secretary. Actually, she was petting her two-year-old black standard poodle.

But the CIA’s history does include efforts to oust unfriendly regimes, to assassinate foreign leaders who didn’t believe that what was good for Washington and Wall Street was good for their people, and to sponsor coups and revolutions. Sometimes the agency succeeded.

Topping the list of those successes—if success is the right word for an operation whose long-term effects were so disastrous—was the August 1953 overthrow of Iran’s elected leader and the installment of the unpopular and authoritarian Shah in his place. Operation Ajax, as it was known, deserves that old cliché: If it didn’t really happen, you’d think that it was a plot imagined by a Hollywood scriptwriter peddling anti-American conspiracies.

Book cover of Ervand Abrahamian's The Coup.

Book cover of Ervand Abrahamian’s The Coup.

Ervand Abrahamian isn’t a Hollywood scriptwriter but a renowned Iranian-American scholar who teaches history at the City University of New York. With The Coup, he has authored a concise yet detailed and somewhat provocative history of the 1953 regime change, which the CIA conducted with the British MI6. If you don’t know anything about the story, The Coup is a good place to start. If you’ve already read a lot about Ajax and the events that led to it, the book still offers new insights into this history-shattering event.

Abrahamian constructed his narrative by analyzing documents in the archives of British Petroleum, the British Foreign Office, and the State Department as well as the memoirs of the main characters in the drama. These characters—British spies and business executives, American diplomats and journalists, Soviet agents, Communist activists, Nazi propagandists, Shiite mullahs, Iranian crime bosses—have double or even triple agendas to advance as they jump from one political bed to another and back, lying, cheating, stealing, and killing. It all makes the CIA-led extraction of the American hostages in Iran, depicted in the film Argo, look kind of, well, boring.

On one side there was Muhammad Mossadeq, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953, a secular, liberal, and nationalist leader who wanted to join the “neutralist” camp that disavowed commitment to either of the superpowers during the Cold War. An aristocratic and eccentric figure who welcomed foreign officials into his house wearing pajamas, Mossadeq introduced many progressive social and economic reforms into the traditionally Shiite society, and sent shock waves across the world when he moved to nationalize Iran’s oil industry, which had been under British control since 1913 through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.

On the other side there was Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt, Jr., Teddy’s grandson, a legendary spymaster, a self-promoter who dined with major world leaders and business executives but also befriended power-hungry Iranian military generals, corrupt politicians, merchants in the bazzar, and quite a few thugs, who helped him achieve what became Washington’s goal: to remove Mossadeq and his political allies, which included liberals, social democrats, and Communists, from power; to return the oil industry into British hands (with more American presence in Iran’s oil business); and to place reliable pro-western politicians in power.

It seemed to work beautifully. The United States gained a key strategic ally in the Middle East. American companies received a considerable share of Iran’s enormous oil wealth. Other oil-producing Middle Eastern nations got a lesson in what might happen if they nationalized. At a time when the Americans were facing challenges from nationalists such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and were trying to contain the so-called Soviet threat in the Middle East, Our Man in Tehran welcomed American soldiers and investors (and purchased a lot of American weapons). It all looked good until it didn’t.

While the coup did set back the nationalization of the oil resources in the Middle East, the delay ended in the 1970s. In that decade, Abrahamian writes, one country after another—not just radical states such as Libya, Iraq, and Algeria, but conservative monarchies such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia—“took over their oil resources, and, having learned from the past, took precautions to make sure that their oil companies would not return victorious.”

At the same time, the coup decimated the secular opposition, leaving Shiite clerics as the most viable political force when the Iranian Revolution deposed the Shah in 1979. The pro-American puppet gave way to a radical and anti-American Islamic Republic where the secular and liberal opposition remains weak and leaderless. That, as they say in Langley, is blowback.

The coup also intensified what Abrahamian calls the “intense paranoid style prevalent throughout Iranian politics.” While the Iranian clerics worry that Washington wants to do a rerun of the 1953 regime change, many members of the opposition are counting on that to happen. In Tehran, they still think the CIA makes the world turn around.

via Our Man in Iran – Reason.com.


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