Tag Archives | India

The Robot Psychics Of India

robot1What happens when the unfathomable/intangible and the logical/mechanical intersect? Robots designed to tap into the spirit world — meet the priests/shamans of the twenty-first century. Via Discover Magazine:

These bots wait in perpetual readiness to dispense their pre-programmed wisdom, and for only 5 rupees or so, the robot’s handler will allow you to plug a pair of headphones into its metallic underpants and listen as it tells your fortune. One of our favorite designs is the mod/retro combination of a smattering of LED lights and an analog clock, for those mortals bogged down in the worldly concerns of time.

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The Industry of Hunger

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Vandana Shiva on Al Jazeera English explains how, as mega-chains venture into industrial farming, they have created an epidemic of hunger- and generated billions in profit.

New Delhi, India – In November 2011, when the UPA government announced that it had cleared the entry of big retail chains such as Walmart and Tesco into India through 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, it justified the decision saying that FDI in retail would boost food security and benefit farmers’ livelihoods.

But the assurance that FDI in retail would ease inflation did not resolve the political crisis the government was facing; it deepened it. Parliament was stalled for several days of the Winter Session, after which the government was forced to withdraw its decision.

The story of FDI in retail goes back to 2005, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agriculture agreement with the US, along with the nuclear agreement.

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Girl ‘Sacrificed To Ensure Better Harvest’

4327639917_77c7526b4cThe Times of India reports on a horrifying Wicker Man-esque murder in central India:

Two men have been arrested in for allegedly killing a 7-year-old girl and cutting out her liver in a ritual sacrifice to ensure a better harvest, police said Monday.

Lalita Tati disappeared in October and her dismembered remains were found a week later, Rajendra Narayan Das, a senior police officer, told The Associated Press. Tati was walking home after watching television at a neighbor’s house when she was kidnapped.

Police arrested two men, both poor farmers, last week and they told police they killed the girl to appease their gods and get a better harvest, Das said. The men were described as “tribals,” a term referring to the region’s indigenous people, most of whom remain mired in poverty and illiteracy.

Human sacrifices are rare but get prominent attention every few years. A deep belief in traditional healers, or witch doctors, is common in mostly tribal Chhattisgarh.

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Man Has Raised His Arm Continuously For 38 Years

mahantamarbhartiji190911_630Is his now-gnarled arm a beacon of peace? A symbol of rejection of earthly pleasures? A crystal-clear example of the insanity of religion? In pondering Amar Mahant’s arm, everyone will see what they want to see — like a Cheeto said to resemble both Jesus and Elvis. Via the West Australian:

In 1970 Amar Mahant [of New Delhi] left his job, family and friends to dedicate himself to his religious beliefs. In 1973, the clerk raised his hand in honour of Hindu deity Shiva – and he hasn’t put it down since. It’s now been 38 years.

Amar’s followers claim his sacrifice is a beacon of peace, while others say he has given up the use of a limb in order to separate himself from the pleasures of mortal life.

Amar’s sacrifice has turned his arm into a useless stump of flesh and bone, with a gnarled hand and unclipped fingernails hanging from the end.

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Gibson Guitars Vs. the U.S. Government

GibsonVia Brooklyn Vegan and Gibson.com:
The Federal Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department's interpretation of a law in India. (If the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal.) This action was taken without the support and consent of the government in India. On August 24, 2011, around 8:45 a.m. CDT, agents for the federal government executed four search warrants on Gibson's facilities in Nashville and Memphis and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. Gibson had to cease its manufacturing operations and send workers home for the day, while armed agents executed the search warrants. Gibson has fully cooperated with the execution of the search warrants.
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India’s Illegal ‘Human Safari Park’

Andaman Islands

Andaman Islands. Photo: _e.t (CC)

Via Wanderlust:

The Andaman Trunk Road was ordered to be closed by India’s Supreme Court in 2002 but it still remains open and poses a high threat to the indigenous community who have a population of just 365.

‘Survival’, an organisation which campaigns for tribal people’s rights worldwide, has called for travellers to boycott the road which runs through the Andaman Islands, a destination growing in popularity among tourists.

Rules to protect the Jarawa reserve and its community are routinely broken and thousands of tourists — both Indian and international — travel along the road each month, making the reserve in effect, a human safari park.

The hunter-gatherer Jarawa, have only had friendly contact with outsiders since 1998 so there is a high risk of tourists passing on diseases to the community who have little immunity.

In 1999 and 2006, the Jarawa suffered an outbreak of measles, which historically has decimated many indigenous communities worldwide following outside contact.

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Indian Company Produces Flat-Pack, $700 Houses

TataReports Agence France-Presse via Raw Story:
The Indian company that launched the world's cheapest car has unveiled its latest product for the fast-growing nation: a flat-pack house that costs just $700 and can be built in a week. The Tata group, maker of the $2,500 Nano car, said that the 20-square-metre (215-square-foot) home comes from a pre-fabricated kit that includes doors, windows and a roof. "We have already prepared two-three different designs based on discussions with users and are gathering more feedback," Sumitesh Das, the head of the project at Tata, told reporters in Hyderabad. "Hopefully, in the next six-eight months we should be able to roll it out in the market nationally." The basic model of a so-called "Nano" house will cost 32,000 rupees ($720) and will use coconut fibre or jute for wall cladding and interiors. It has a life expectancy of 20 years.
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Monkey Wedding Called Illegal By Indian Officials

Monkey HorrorHumanity, look out. There is no way by causing this action, it will turn out well for all of humanity. Via the Huffington Post:
In the small village of Talwas, Rajasthan, Raju, a well-known cigarette smoking monkey, and his bride Chinki were married, according to Stuff. Raju had become a local celebrity after Ramesh Saini, a rickshaw driver, adopted him three years ago when he found the monkey unconscious. He's been a surrogate son to the childless Ramesh ever since. "I want to enjoy the feelings of a son's marriage through Raju's wedding." Ramesh told the publication. "We will welcome the bride in our house ... after the wedding with all rituals."
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Americanization Training At An Indian Call Center

graveyard400The most marketable skill in India today is the ability to abandon your identity and slip into someone else’s.

An American spends his summer at an Indian call center, including a boot camp in which new employees try to change their nationality in three weeks by shedding their accents, gazing at photos of Walmart, watching Seinfeld, and eating pepperoni. Via Mother Jones:

I am waiting for a company cab, now an hour and a half late, to drive me across town to a call center, where an Indian “culture trainer” will teach me how to act Australian. For three weeks, a culture trainer will teach us conversational skills, Australian pop culture, and the terms of the mobile-phone contracts we’ll be peddling.

Bright recent college grads pore over flashcards and accent tapes, intoning the shibboleths of English pronunciation—”wherever” and “pleasure” and “socialization”—that recruiters use to distinguish the employable candidates from those still suffering from MTI, or “mother tongue influence.” The lucky ones will secure Spartan lodgings and spend their nights (thanks to time differences) in air-conditioned white-collar sweatshops.

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Indian Parents Push For Surgical Procedure To Turn Children From Girls To Boys

Photo: Planemad (CC)

Photo: Planemad (CC)

Oh the social questions this raises! How does this benefit/hurt the future generation? Should parents have the right to change a child’s sex? What psychological damage could occur? What if an adult learns that they had the procedure when they were young and want it reversed? The next twenty years may see a rise in the search for therapists. Hindustan Times reports:

Girls are being ‘converted’ into boys in Indore – by the hundreds every year – at ages where they cannot give their consent for this life-changing operation.

This shocking, unprecedented trend, catering to the fetish for a son, is unfolding at conservative Indore’s well-known clinics and hospitals on children who are 1-5 years old. The process being used to ‘produce’ a male child from a female is known as genitoplasty. Each surgery costs Rs 1.5 lakh.

Moreover, these children are pumped with hormonal treatment as part of the sex change procedure that may be irreversible.

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