Alive and Kicking in China

April 29, 2006

To my slight disappointment, Maajorly Shadymax Arbit Fundaes is not considered important enough or subversive enough for the Chinese government to block.

I write this from a Public Internet Club. Detailed travelog and photos will be posted once I am back in India.

Photoblogging a Protest March

April 17, 2006

United Students conducted a protest march against the extension of OBC reservations to central universities last week. I was there to photograph it. Sorry about the delay in putting the photos up, I’ve not always been at home since then.

Photos and commentary follow below the cut.

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Censorship for Television too

April 17, 2006

The UPA government, bless its fascist little heart, is planning to introduce legislation to set up a content regulator for television. The Hindustan Times report I’ve linked to mentions, among other things:

  • that Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, the I&B minister said that it was the uniform view of viewers that there was a need for content regulation and comprehensive legislation. Which viewers? How many of them? Have they asked the man?
  • that the government wants a clampdown on sensationalization of news, especially crime news. So I guess the next time there’s a riot in Gujarat, or anywhere else for that matter, the government can stop NDTV from broadcasting images as they’re too sensational. Public awareness? What public awareness?
  • Ooh, and here’s the good stuff: channels can be temporarily suspended for a short term if they default the code (which code? It doesn’t say). After Fernandesgate, all the government could do was drag Tehelka’s promoters to court. With this new and improved legislation, you can shut down that pesky news channel straight away. Why waste time at the courts?

Enjoy your TV news while you can.

Why only rape?

April 13, 2006

This DNA editorial talks about fast track courts for rape cases. It points out that a trial that drags on for years hurts the victim as much as the actual rape did, and that it allows perpetrators to tamper with evidence and intimidate prosecution witnesses. It congratulates a Rajasthan court for returning a verdict in a rape case within a month of charges being pressed.

I am as pleased as the editor that the fast-track court was able to bring in a verdict quickly, but the fact that we are talking about fast-track courts points to how pathetic our justice system is. All our courts need to deliver verdicts as quickly as this fast-track court: whether for rape cases, murder cases, or civil cases. Slow justice in the criminal courts helped acquit Manu Sharma and allows Salman Khan to remain unpunished for running over pavement dwellers. For perpetrators who are not as rich or politically well-connected, it means that they are imprisoned in judicial custody for longer than a guilty verdict would call for. In civil cases, it locks up billions of rupees in legal costs, and lost commercial opportunities.

The moral and economic costs that the state of the judiciary imposes on India means that judicial and legal reform is now more important than any economic reforms that the Finance Ministry or the RBI might bring forward.

Guns. Lots of Guns.

April 13, 2006

I’ve been reading Samizdata for a year and a half. It’s a British group blog which discusses libertarian principles.

I agree with a lot of what is posted over there in theory, but yesterday’s and today’s news has made me appreciate one of their recurring themes on a deeper level: the importance of allowing people to possess firearms.

For context, read this post by Skimpy and the Metroblogging Bangalore post on the rioting following Rajkumar’s death. Hooligans have used his death as an excuse to run amuck, destroying government and private property under a pretence of grief. They’ve been threatening business owners to shut down or else. MadMan has written in by email that the police aren’t even bothering to protect anyone, they’ve simply asked everyone to close shutters for their own protection.

Skimpy writes:

No one talks about this one lost day of business for them. No one talks about the fresh bread ‘Iyengar’s Bakery’ would have baked this afternoon and was unable to sell because some goondas forced the shop shut. No one talks about the fact that half the city had to walk back home from work tonight, because the buses weren’t running.

If the Iyengar’s Bakery manager had a gun behind the counter, he could have driven the mob away. He wouldn’t have had to shoot them: the threat would have been enough to control the hooligans, who would have been armed only with sticks. An armed passenger on a bus could have responded to stone-throwing mobs with warning shots.

The obvious objection is that unrestricted gun ownership could lead to the hooligans owning guns too. I think this is not much of a problem- the important point is not whether the hoooligan has a gun or not, but whether the law abiding citizen does. A situation where 80 business owners and 20 hooligans both have guns is still preferable to one where the business owners are unarmed and the hooligans have hockey sticks. Also, a gun in the hands of the business owner is not meant to kill: it’s meant to threaten- to show the hooligans that he faces deadly consequences.
A much bigger problem is our justice system: if someone is arrested for killing a hooligan in self-defense, he could be arrested for murder or manslaughter and end up in police custody for years before the trial closed. Unless police procedure to such homicides is to not press charges, the backlog of cases in the courts could itself make a mockery of self-defence.

The Futility of Regulation

April 8, 2006

Duck Pond Sign

बतखों को छेड़-छाड़ करना मना है: Harassing the ducks is forbidden.

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Duck, Duck, Goose

April 5, 2006

or, Travels through Hauz Khas Park with Camera in Hand.

Hauz Khas literally means ‘Special Tank’. It’s a neighbourhood in Delhi named after a small lake built for the Sultan of Delhi’s wife to have her bath (I’m a little hazy on the exact historical details).

There are actually three Hauz Khas neighbourhoods today. Hauz Khas, which has genteel middle class homes. Hauz Khas Enclave, which is also residential, but much richer. And Hauz Khas Village: the old village, which is now a tourist destination where rich (and perhaps gullible) tourists come to spend money on designer clothes and eat at fancy restaraunts.

Hauz Khas Village is right next to Hauz Khas Park, which is lots of parkland surrounding the old lake, and the tombs and palaces built next to it. I took an evening walk in the park today, and had my camera along.

(Photos below the cut)

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