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Hanuman’s ID — and a Landsat view of Sita’s Bridge

Monday, January 15th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — how do you check the biomeetric data for a god? ]
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India’s ID system, run by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), issues ID cards linked to biometric data, and containing in each case a twelve-digit Aadhaar number that uniquely identifies the individual in question. More than 1.19 billion Indians have registered for Aadhaar numbers, over 99% of Indians aged 18 and above. That’s pretty impressive.

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Even more impressive — the god Hanuman was issued an Aadhaar number, and the card itself records Hanuman’s number as 209470519541 and his date of birth, improbably, as January 1st, 1959.

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Hanuman is no ordinary Indian. He is the monkey god who met lord Rama, the avatar of Vishnu, and became his best friend and faithful ddevotee:


Lord Rama is always held close in Hanuman’s heart
and the constant focus of his meditation.

When Rama’s beloved wife, Sita, was abducted by the demon (rakshasa) king Ravana and taken by him to his palace in Sri Lanka, Hanuman crossed the strait between India and Sri Lanka to rescue her.

Secularists doubted this story was history, until a Landsat-5 photo of the straits revealed a series of now-sunken mini-islands passing from India to Sri Lanka, the stepping-stones of Hanuman:

It is almost impossible for secularists to deny the reality of Hanuman’s epic crossing in light of this satellite evidence, surely?

Surely.

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Methinks I do protest too much.

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Bob McKerrow, wayfarer, wrote:

“Imagine being on one of those legendary islands of ‘Adam’s Bridge’ or ‘Rama Setu’ of the Ramayana fame! Many centuries ago, this 30 km stretch was a natural bridge connecting Sri Lanka to the southern tip of India; now, the ocean has reclaimed its own, leaving only a chain of sprinkled islands. On December 9, 2011, I was standing on the second island of the chain of limestone shoals between the Rameshwaran Island, off the south-eastern coast of India’s Tamil Nadu and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka. If the legends and folklore regarding Rama, Seetha, Ravana and Hanuman are to be believed, this ‘bridge’ is a critical part of the Sri Lanka’s past.

His map shows how the “bridge” — known recently as Adam’s Bridge, but traditionally as Sita’s Bridge, for obvious reasons — bridges the India-Sri Lankan gap:

“If the legends and folklore regarding Rama, Seetha, Ravana and Hanuman are to be believed..” the wayfarer writes.

If indeed. And with an ID card and Aadhaar number to match, maybe?

Christ born again, wishing you each & every blessing this holy tide

Monday, December 25th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — wishing to avoid the excesses of piety and secularism, to get once more to the heart of the Christmas message, refreshed ]
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How shall we get past the tired commerical imagery of 80% off, the pious religiosity of religious hucksters, and cleanse our image of the Christ-Mass to seee him afresh?

One way I have found is to travel abroad:


Mughal Madonna and child attributed to Manohar or Basawan

Seen with fresh eyes, the ancient image of the sacred, royal child and pure mother shines anew.

Or take this Ethiopic image of the flight into Egypt — unusual to our eyes, yet utterly appropriate for the flight to Egypt to be represented to us by a Ethiopic artist..


Ethiopic, flight into Egypt

And how gently, with a finger’s touch, this angel from Autun cathedral wakes the three wise men (magi), here shown as three kings:

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Ah, music!

Perhaps JS Bach’s Christmas Oratorio BWV 248 can carry conviction where a statement of faith, constructed entirely in words and lacking the flourishes of trumpets, must always fail to push past our secular sensibilities into glory:

Or a very different voice, declaring the humble birth in a stable outside an inn — yet with its own indubitable trumpets:

Mahalia!

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Hell — heaven! I personally wish all those who read this post on Zenpundit a happy / blessed Christmas..

I’m thinking of you Jim Gant, Tim Furnish, J Scott Shipman, Mark ZP, Grurray, PR Beckman, David Ronfeldt, Howard Rheingold, Mark Osiecki, Kate Gilpin, Anne and Tom Merino, David and Emlyn Cameron, Susan Uskudarli — so many of you..

T. Greer on the Geopolitics of Rising India

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

[Mark Safranski / “zen“]

Friend of zenpundit.com, T. Greer of Scholar’s Stage had an outstanding post on the implications of Indian power relative to an increasingly aggressive China. It’s one of the better pieces I have read on the topic in some time.

Leveraging Indian Power The Right Way

Now that the affair in Doklam has come to a close, analysts of various stripes are trying to make sense of what happened and what lessons can be learned from the episode. One of the smartest of these write ups was written by Oriana Skylar Mastro and Arzan Tarapore for War on the Rocks. They’ve titled their piece “Countering Chinese Coercion: The Case of Doklam,” and as their title suggests, Dr. Mastro and Mr. Tarapore believe the strategy employed by the Indians in Dolkam can be generalized and should be deployed to defend against Chinese coercion in other domains. They make this case well. I agree with their central arguments, and urge you to read the entire thing without regret.

However, there is one paragraph in their analysis that I take issue with. It is really quite peripheral to their main point, but as it is a concise statement of beliefs widely held, it is a good starting point for this discussion:

Over the longer term, India should be wary of learning the wrong lessons from the crisis. As one of us has recently written, India has long been preoccupied with the threat of Chinese (and Pakistani) aggression on their common land border. The Doklam standoff may be remembered as even more reason for India to pour more resources into defending its land borders, at the expense of building capabilities and influence in the wider Indian Ocean region. That would only play into China’s hands. Renewed Indian concerns about its land borders will only retard its emergence as an assertive and influential regional power. [1]

From the perspective of the United States, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and the other redoubts of freedom that string the edges of the Pacific rim, the rise of the Indian republic is a positive good. We should do all we can to aid this rise. Here both the demands of moral duty and the exacting claims of realpolitik align.

I’ve phrased these ideas with more strength and moral clarity than the dry and jargon laden language of professional policy normally allows, but the sentiment expressed hits close to how most D.C. politicos think about the matter. The rightness of a rising India is a bipartisan consensus. Far less thought is given to what shape that rise should take. This is not something we should be neutral on. The contours of India’s rise matter a lot—not only for them, but for us, and ultimately, for all who will inherit the world we will together build. It might seem a bit grandiose to claim that the future of Asian liberty depends on the procurement policies of India’s Ministry of Defence… but this is exactly what I am going to try and convince you of.   

Read the rest here.

Greer gives very pragmatic advice to American policymakers courting India as to reasonable expectations and to the Indian defense establishment as to where Indian defense dollars would give PLA generals the greatest fits. This is sensible as both groups are likely to overreach: America too quickly pressing India for defense commitments it can neither afford nor politically digest and India seeking a naval contest with China for nationalist prestige at the expense of other critical defense needs.

China will build its own cordon sanitaire against itself by the relentless bullying and interference in the internal affairs of all its major neighbors in the Pacific Rim, friendless other than for two rogue state clients, Pakistan and North Korea and impoverished Cambodia. Our job is to assist China’s neighbors, including great powers India and Japan, in accelerating their acquisition of the military capacity to resist Beijing’s coercion; if it is less than an East Asian NATO, that’s fine. What matters is a robust counterbalance that has to be reckoned with in Beijing’s calculus.

Houston flooding, 38 dead and counting, Mumbai yes

Friday, September 1st, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — nothing origibal, others have had the same thought i
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Sources:

  • NY Times, Clinging to Her Drowning ‘Mama,’ a Little Girl Survives the Raging Flood
  • CBS News, Mumbai paralyzed as Flood in India kills more than 1,000
  • Must I choose between them?

    Mind-blowing first paragraph, academic paper

    Saturday, August 5th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — this motive for terror in Mumbai totally blindsided me ]
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    Young Ajmal Kasab, from the village of Faridkot in the Punjab, in Mumbai, now deceased

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    Consider this:

    Strapped to a gurney and visibly shaken by the bloodied bodies of his fellow terrorists strewn about, Mohammed Jamal Amir Kasab, aged twenty-one, begged his police interrogators to turn off their cameras. They refused, and Kasab’s recorded confession provided the world with a glimpse into the individual motivations of the young men behind the four days of attacks in Mumbai, India. Kasab explained that he “joined the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba only for money.”1 His was not solely an individual decision, however, and the money he earned from participating in the attacks was not intended to be discretionary income. According to Kasab, his father had urged him to join so that Kasab and his siblings could afford to marry.2 Kasab recounted that his father had told him that his participation would mean that the family would no longer be poor and that they would be able to pay the costs required to finalize a marriage contract. One of the police officers, seemingly ignoring Kasab’s response, pressed, “So you came here for jihad? Is that right?” Crying, Kasab asked, “What jihad?” Lashkar-e-Taiba deposited the promised money in his father’s account after the successful attack; for his participation, Kasab was hanged in 2012 by the Indian government. Whether his siblings were subsequently able to contract marriages as a result of the funds provided by Lashkar-e-Taiba remains unknown.

    The paper, by Valerie M. Hudson and Hilary Matfess, is published by MIT Press in International Security, Volume 42 Issue 1, Summer 2017, p.7-40 under the title, In Plain Sight: The Neglected Linkage between Brideprice and Violent Conflict.

    How little we know, how little we suspect, how diverse the world is, how varied the motives at play, even in matters that we study and feel we’ve grasped.

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    The paragraph above stands as a fitting anecdotal confirmation of Will McCants:

    The disappoint stems from the desire to attribute the jihadist phenomenon to a single cause rather than to several causes that work in tandem to produce it. To my mind, the most salient are these: a religious heritage that lauds fighting abroad to establish states and to protect one’s fellow Muslims; ultraconservative religious ideas and networks exploited by militant recruiters; peer pressure (if you know someone involved, you’re more likely to get involved); fear of religious persecution; poor governance (not type of government); youth unemployment or underemployment in large cities; and civil war. All of these factors are more at play in the Arab world now than at any other time in recent memory, which is fueling a jihadist resurgence around the world.

    If anyone elevates one of those factors above the others to diagnose the problem, you can be certain the resulting prescription will not work. It may even backfire, leading to more jihadist recruitment, not less.


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