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Civilisation could fail say food experts

The upcoming era of food scarcity is said to mirror the times that led to the demise of other civilisations.

 

Over the last decade, world grain reserves have fallen by one third while world food prices have more than doubled.

The new geopolitics of food is said to be spreading hunger amongst poorer people while still allowing population growth, rising affluence, and the conversion of food into fuel for cars in wealthier nations.

Extreme soil erosion and growing water shortages are also leading to imbalances that could ensure that food prices continue to rise, eventually leading to world hunger and the end of our social system.

This tightening of world food supplies contrasts sharply with the last half of the twentieth century when overproduction in agriculture was a major issue.

During that time, from 1950 to 2000, there were large grain stock carry-overs which maintained stability in world grain markets.

Countries in over-supply were able to ship the excess grain to countries which were suffering from drought or other natural disasters as a means of averting famine.

But during that time the world had 2.5 billion people. Today it has seven billion.

World consumption started to exceed production from 2002, which is when the unprecedented period of world food security came to an end.

Food shortages undermined earlier civilisations.

For instance, the Mayan civilisation declined it moved onto an agricultural path that was environmentally unsustainable.

Like the Mayans, our lands are now being mismanaged, generating record losses of soil from erosion.

While deforestation and soil erosion defeated the Mayans, farmers are currently facing new threats such as depletion of aquifers, grain yield down-trends and rising temperatures.

Source: Pakistan New

Israel must pull all settlers from Palestinian land: UN

GENEVA: Israel must immediately stop all settlement activity and start to withdraw its settlers from the Palestinian territories, a United Nations report said on Thursday.

“Israel must … cease all settlement activities without preconditions (and) must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers” from the occupied territories, a UN fact-finding mission concluded.

Because of the settlements, Palestinians’ human rights “are being violated consistently and on a daily basis,” the three independent experts said in a report commissioned by the UN’s Human Rights Council last March.

The three experts – Christine Chanet of France, Asma Jahangir of Pakistan and Unity Dow of Botswana – who will present their findings to the 47-member state council on March 18, also called on the Jewish state to “ensure adequate, effective and prompt remedy to all Palestinian victims … of human rights violations that are a result of the settlements.”

The council’s decision to dispatch the fact-finding mission to determine what impact the settlements are having on the rights of Palestinians so enraged the Jewish state that it cut all ties with the 47-member state council in March 2012.

The experts published their findings just two days after Israel made its anger felt by becoming the first country to ever boycott a special council review of its rights situation.

Israel calls report ‘biased’

Israel on Thursday slammed as “biased” the report by the UN Human Rights Council, saying it would only hamper peace efforts.

“The Human Rights Council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel. This latest report is yet another unfortunate reminder of that,” foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

“Counterproductive measures, such as the report before us, will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict,” Palmor said in a statement.

“The only way to resolve all pending issues between Israel and the Palestinians, including the settlements issue, is through direct negotiations without pre-conditions.”

The experts were not able to visit Israel or the Palestinian territories, after failing to secure Israeli permission, and instead met in Jordan with more than 50 people affected by the settlements or working in NGOs in a relevant field, it said.

The Jewish state is not a member of the council but like all 193 UN countries it is required to undergo Universal Periodic Reviews of its human rights situation.

Source: Dawn News

Landmark victory for BA employee over right to wear a cross at work

Airline check-in operator wins appeal at European court but three similar cases fail, as other rights trump faith

After seven years of legal appeals and accusations that Christians are being persecuted for their beliefs, the European court of human rights has ruled that a British Airways check-in operator should not have been prevented from wearing a cross at work.

Nadia Eweida, 60, was jubilant over her landmark victory, declaring it a “vindication” for Christians, after the court awarded her €2,000 (£1,600) in compensation for the “anxiety, frustration and distress” she endured.

While the finely tuned judicial compromise does not establish an absolute right for every employee to wear a crucifix, or religious symbol, visibly at work, it will help define the limits of religious freedom.

The decision on Eweida, a Coptic Christian working at Heathrow, was welcomed by David Cameron and others across the political spectrum.

Equally significant in the court’s complex ruling, however, was its determination that three other Christian applicants – Lilian Ladele, 52, a local authority registrar who lives in London, Shirley Chaplin, 57, a nurse from Exeter, and Gary McFarlane, 51, a Bristol marriage counsellor – who also claimed they had suffered religious discrimination, should lose their appeals.

The four decisions, contained in one judgment, stressed the principle that religious liberties should not trump other human rights. Freedom of religion, the court stated, as “one of the foundations of pluralistic, democratic societies” but “where an individual’s religious observance impinges on the rights of others, some restrictions can be made”.

In Eweida’s case, the Strasbourg court did not criticise UK law but said British courts failed to balance competing interests in the case adequately. On one hand was Eweida’s desire to display her religious belief; on the other was the employer’s wish to project a certain corporate image.

“While this aim was undoubtedly legitimate,” the judgment said, “the domestic courts accorded it too much weight … the fact that [BA] was able to amend the uniform code to allow for the visible wearing of religious symbolic jewellery demonstrates that the earlier prohibition was not of crucial importance.”

The prime minister, who intervened in the debate last summer by saying he might change the law, was among those who welcomed the ruling. Cameron wrote on Twitter: “Delighted that principle of wearing religious symbols at work has been upheld – ppl shouldn’t suffer discrimination due to religious beliefs.” In Chaplin’s case, superficially almost identical to Eweida’s, the judges unanimously decided the UK courts had resolved competing rights equitably. Chaplin stressed the importance for her to be allowed to bear witness to her Christian faith by wearing a crucifix visibly around her neck at work. But the Strasbourg judges said the fact that hospital authorities had asked her to remove it for the protection of health and safety and to prevent infections spreading on a ward “was inherently more important”. Hospital managers, the judges agreed, “were well placed to make decisions about clinical safety”.

Appeals by the other two claimants,Ladele and McFarlane were dismissed on the grounds that the disciplinary proceedings against them were justified. Ladele had been sacked by Islington council for not being prepared to conduct civil partnership ceremonies between same-sex couples. McFarlane was dismissed from his job after indicating he might have a conscientious objection to providing sex therapy to a same-sex couple on account of his Christian faith.

Both Islington council and the charity Relate were bound not to discriminate against their clients and therefore could not support staff who refused to work with homosexual couples, the court said.

After the ruling, Eweida, who lives in Twickenham, said: “I’m very pleased that after all this time the European court has specifically recognised … that I have suffered anxiety, frustration and distress. It’s a vindication that Christians have a right to express their faith on par with other colleagues at work visibly and not be ashamed of their faith.”

“I’m disappointed on behalf of the other three applicants but I fully support them in their asking for a referral for their [appeals] to be heard in the [European court’s] grand chamber, and I wish them every success in the future to win.”

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which supported the cases, said: “We are delighted that the cross has been recognised and indeed that Nadia has won her case.”

In the cases of Ladele and McFarlane, she complained, sexual rights had been given priority over religious liberty: “[The judges said] that if an employer has an equalities policy and says there should be no discrimination in any way on the grounds of sexual orientation no matter what your Christian belief is that the sexual orientation rights win.”

A BA spokesman said Eweida had worked continuously for the company for 13 years. “Our own uniform policy was changed in 2007 to allow Miss Eweida and others to wear symbols of faith and she and other employees have been working under these arrangements.”

But the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission said it believed “the government should now look at the need to change the law to take the European court judgment into account”. In the meantime, it added, it would publish guidance for employers and employees,” to help them avoid further confusion and potentially costly litigation”.The archbishop of York, the Most Revd Dr John Sentamu, struck a more cautionary note, insisting that courts should not have any power to prevent individuals wearing religious symbols. “‘Christians and those of other faiths should be free to wear the symbols of their own religion without discrimination,” he said.

“The Equality Act 2010 encourages employers to embrace diversity – including people of faith. Whether people can wear a cross or pray with someone should not be something about which courts and tribunals have to rule.”

Source: Guardian News

Gross national happiness in Bhutan: the big idea from a tiny state that could change the world

Bhutan measures prosperity by gauging its citizens’ happiness levels, not the GDP. Now its ideas are attracting interest at the UN climate change conference in Doha

A series of hand-painted signs dot the side of the winding mountain road that runs between the airport and the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu. Instead of commands to cut speed or check mirrors, they offer the traveller a series of life-affirming mantras. “Life is a journey! Complete it!” says one, while another urges drivers to, “Let nature be your guide”. Another, standing on the edge of a perilous curve, simply says: “Inconvenience regretted.”

It’s a suitably uplifting welcome to visitors to this remote kingdom, a place of ancient monasteries, fluttering prayer flags and staggering natural beauty. Less than 40 years ago, Bhutan opened its borders for the first time. Since then, it has gained an almost mythical status as a real-life Shangri-La, largely for its determined and methodical pursuit of the most elusive of concepts – national happiness.

Since 1971, the country has rejected GDP as the only way to measure progress. In its place, it has championed a new approach to development, which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness (GNH) and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.

For the past three decades, this belief that wellbeing should take preference over material growth has remained a global oddity. Now, in a world beset by collapsing financial systems, gross inequity and wide-scale environmental destruction, this tiny Buddhist state’s approach is attracting a lot of interest.

As world leaders prepare to meet in Doha on Monday for the second week of the UN climate change conference, Bhutan’s stark warning that the rest of the world is on an environmental and economical suicide path is starting to gain traction. Last year the UN adopted Bhutan’s call for a holistic approach to development, a move endorsed by 68 countries. A UN panel is now considering ways that Bhutan’s GNH model can be replicated across the globe.

As representatives in Doha struggle to find ways of reaching a consensus on global emissions, Bhutan is also being held up as an example of a developing country that has put environmental conservation and sustainability at the heart of its political agenda. In the last 20 years Bhutan has doubled life expectancy, enrolled almost 100% of its children in primary school and overhauled its infrastructure.

At the same time, placing the natural world at the heart of public policy has led to environmental protection being enshrined in the constitution. The country has pledged to remain carbon neutral and to ensure that at least 60% of its landmass will remain under forest cover in perpetuity. It has banned export logging and has even instigated a monthly pedestrian day that bans all private vehicles from its roads.

“It’s easy to mine the land and fish the seas and get rich,” says Thakur Singh Powdyel, Bhutan’s minister of education, who has become one of the most eloquent spokespeople for GNH. “Yet we believe you cannot have a prosperous nation in the long run that does not conserve its natural environment or take care of the wellbeing of its people, which is being borne out by what is happening to the outside world.”

Powdyel believes the world has misinterpreted Bhutan’s quest. “People always ask how can you possibly have a nation of happy people? But this is missing the point,” he says. “GNH is an aspiration, a set of guiding principles through which we are navigating our path towards a sustainable and equitable society. We believe the world needs to do the same before it is too late.”

Bhutan’s principles have been set in policy through the gross national happiness index, based on equitable social development, cultural preservation, conservation of the environment and promotion of good governance.

At a primary school in Thimphu, the headteacher, Choki Dukpa, watches her students make their way to class. She says that she has seen huge changes to the children’s emotional wellbeing since GNH principles were integrated into the education system four years ago. She admits that at first she had no idea what the government’s policy to change all education facilities into “green schools” meant.

“It sounded good but I wasn’t sure how it would work,” she says. But after Unicef funded a “green schools” teacher training programme, things improved. “The idea of being green does not just mean the environment, it is a philosophy for life,” says Dukpa.

Alongside maths and science, children are taught basic agricultural techniques and environmental protection. A new national waste management programme ensures that every piece of material used at the school is recycled.

The infusion of GNH into education has also meant daily meditation sessions and soothing traditional music replacing the clang of the school bell.

“An education doesn’t just mean getting good grades, it means preparing them to be good people,” says Dukpa. “This next generation is going to face a very scary world as their environment changes and social pressures increase. We need to prepare them for this.”

Despite its focus on national wellbeing, Bhutan faces huge challenges. It remains one of the poorest nations on the planet. A quarter of its 800,000 people survive on less than $1.25 a day, and 70% live without electricity. It is struggling with a rise in violent crime, a growing gang culture and the pressures of rises in both population and global food prices.

It also faces an increasingly uncertain future. Bhutan’s representatives at the Doha climate talks are warning that its gross national happiness model could crumble in the face of increasing environmental and social pressures and climatic change.

“The aim of staying below a global two-degree temperature increase being discussed here this week is not sufficient for us. We are a small nation, we have big challenges and we are trying our best, but we can’t save our environment on our own,” says Thinley Namgyel, who heads Bhutan’s climate change division. “Bhutan is a mountainous country, highly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. We have a population that is highly dependent on the agricultural sector. We are banking on hydropower as the engine that will finance our development.”

In Paro, an agricultural region one hour out of the capital, Dawa Tshering explains how the weather is already causing him problems. The 53-year-old farmer grew up in Paro, surrounded by mountains and streams, but has found it increasingly difficult to work his two acres of rice paddy.

“The weather has changed a lot: there is no snow in winter, the rains come at the wrong times and our plants get ruined. There are violent storms,” he says. Around 70% of Bhutan’s people are smallholder farmers like Tshering.

“The temperature has got hotter so there are more insects in the fruit and grain. I don’t understand it, but if it continues we’re going to have many problems in growing food and feeding ourselves.”

Bhutan is taking action to try to protect itself. Ground-breaking work is being done to try to reduce the flooding potential in its remote glacial lakes. Yet it cannot do it alone. Last week in Doha, campaigners pushed for more support to countries such as Bhutan that are acutely vulnerable to climate change.

“While the world is now starting to look to Bhutan as an alternative model of sustainable economics, all of its efforts could be undone if the world doesn’t take action in Doha,” says Stephen Pattison from Unicef UK.

“Small and developing countries like Bhutan must get more support, and the UK and other governments must start actually taking action, like pledging their share of money to the green climate fund and get it up and running as soon as possible.”

In Paro, teenagers in school uniform heading home from lessons are well aware of the hard times ahead for Bhutan as it tries to navigate a path between preserving its sustainable agenda and the global realities it faces. All say they are proud to be Bhutanese. They want to be forest rangers, environmental scientists and doctors. At the same time they want to travel the world, listen to Korean pop music and watch Rambo.

“I want to be able to go out and see the world but then I want to come home to Bhutan and for it to be the same,” says Kunzang Jamso, a 15-year-old whose traditional dress is offset with a hint of a boyband haircut. “I think we must keep the outside from coming here too much because we might lose our culture, and if you don’t have that then how do you know who you are?”

Source: Guardian News

UK education comes sixth in global league table

Countries which do best have a culture which supports education, says report

The UK education system is ranked sixth best in the developed world, according to a new global league table.

Finland and South Korea top the new league table, followed by Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.

The global study, carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) for education firm Pearson, used data from international tests, as well as data on school literacy and university graduation rates to draw up the index.

UK education has come sixth in the world

The UK was found to have the second best education system in Europe, ahead of countries such as Switzerland, Denmark and Germany which were ranked 9th, 12th and 15th respectively.

The research is designed to help policymakers, school leaders and academics identify the key factors which drive improved educational outcomes.

For educational attainment, based on literacy and graduation rates from schools and colleges, the UK is second only to South Korea, while Finland, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan were ranked highly in the cognitive ability category based on international tests in maths, reading and science.

While investing in education “undoubtedly reaps rewards”, the report – called the Learning Curve – suggested that a culture of support for education is probably more important. It also added that there was no substitute for high quality teaching. “The best performing countries attract top talent, train teachers throughout their careers and allow them freedom too” the report stated.

Denis McCauley, executive editor, business research at the Economist Intelligence Unit said: “We hope our study serves as a catalyst for further collaborative efforts by academics, practitioners and policymakers to deepen our knowledge about what contributes to better education performance and outcomes.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers said: “This is great news for all those working in schools and colleges. The study by Pearson concludes that having a culture that is supportive of learning is vitally important to educational success.”

Learning Curve top 20 countries for education

  • Finland
  • South Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • UK
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Switzerland
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • Denmark
  • Australia
  • Poland
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • USA
  • Hungary
  • Slovakia
  • Russia

Source: Guardian News

Gaza crisis: will Egypt come to regret its role as peacemaker?

The irony is that asking Egypt to take greater responsibility for Gaza is precisely what some Israeli politicians have long desired

As the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, flew into Cairo on Wednesday to help seal the deal that would bring an end to a week of conflict in Gaza, a plume of smoke was visible from the Kasr an-Nile bridge.

Half an hour earlier, a group of several hundred demonstrators had torched a studio used by al-Jazeera television. That event, on the third day of clashes with police, underlined the contradictions of Egypt under President Mohamed Morsi, even as he emerged as an important new player on the international stage.

For while Morsi has skilfully negotiated the first major foreign policy crisis since the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, that success masks a host of challenges ahead for him.

In the immediate aftermath of the truce announcement on Wednesday, Morsi was lauded by Clinton. “I want to thank President Morsi for his personal leadership to de-escalate the situation in Gaza and end the violence,” she said. “This is a critical moment for the region. Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.”

Over the past few days Morsi has met with Turkey’s prime minister and the emir of Qatar, and hosted Germany’s foreign minister and Arab officials. An Israeli envoy flew secretly into Cairo for talks with Egyptian security officials, though Morsi did not meet or speak directly with any Israelis.

In the end the truce, and his role in it, was an extraordinary achievement. The question, however, is whether Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt may come to regret their key role.

For while the deal has established Egypt as a key regional leader in the region with Turkey and Qatar – all US allies – the truce negotiated by Morsi and his spy chief, Mohamed Shehata, also inserts Egypt as guarantor of Gaza and Hamas.

The irony is that asking Egypt to take greater responsibility for Gaza, which it administered until 1967, is precisely what some Israeli politicians have long desired: to hive off the problem of Gaza to Cairo, which would further stifle any possibility of a two-state solution.

Indeed, Morsi may find the truce easier to negotiate than what follows: his predecessor, Mubarak, chose to co-operate with Israel in maintaining the blockade of Gaza because of his enmity to Hamas, which emerged out of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi, however, may find his difficulties reside in his movement’s closeness to Hamas.

Facing pressure from within Egypt and from Hamas to open the borders, he may, however, be deeply cautious of doing anything unilaterally that might underline the broader objectives of securing a Palestinian state.

Indeed, as Michael Wahid Hanna of the Century Foundation told Time magazine in the immediate aftermath of the ceasefire: “If Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing without Israel doing the same at its own crossings into Gaza, there’d be champagne corks popping in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. They won’t do that, because Egypt won’t shoulder the burden of Gaza, which could end the possibility of a unified Palestinian state.”

On the Gaza front the deal may present other immediate problems. In the ceasefire negotiations Israel pushed hard for firmer Egyptian action on arms smuggling to Gaza through the northern Sinai, an increasingly lawless region where armed attacks on security forces by Salafists are so commonplace that on some roads the army abandons its checkpoints at night.

The problems in the Sinai are not, as a recent International Crisis Group report made clear, simply a security problem, but also a complex political and economic one, which Egypt’s new government has barely grappled with.

“Egypt has huge problems of its own,” said one diplomat last week. “It needs stability and it needed the prospect of war to recede. There is a question too of its military capacity to deal with issues like Sinai.”

Therein lies the problem. Critics allege that while Morsi has taken a high profile on the international stage he and his government have been far less successful in tackling his country’s myriad economic, social and political problems.

On the economic front, Egypt’s deal with the IMF for a $4.8bn (£3bn) loan, announced on Tuesday, obliges it to end subsidies on items such as fuel, which will lead, inevitably, to unpopular price rises at a time of growing hardship.

Tourism, while slowly improving after the huge hit it took during the Arab spring, is far below pre-revolution levels. Unemployment remains high as does inflation – a dangerous combination – while crime has become a serious issue.

The failure to prosecute members of the security forces who committed crimes, including killings, during the revolution and after remains a running sore in Egyptian society.

In the past week Egypt was hit by small-scale confrontations between army and police, another worrying symptom. And almost unnoticed amid the intense focus on Gaza, a stream of groups – including liberals, Christian Copts, journalists and women’s rights campaigners – have withdrawn from Egypt’s constitutional assembly, which is supposed to draw up the country’s new constitution, alleging that ultra-conservatives have taken over the process.

Given all these simmering tensions, Gaza and the truce matters in terms of Egypt’s domestic politics because it is an issue on which most Egyptians, from secular liberals to Islamist, agree. Should the truce agreement backfire badly it would have profound implications not only for Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood but for Israel: any alternative Egyptian government would likely be hostile to the deal.

“Morsi’s popularity can’t go on eroding like this for ever,” rights activist Mohsen Kamal told Reuters. “He is vulnerable to dramatic, and maybe even violent, changes if he ignores what is happening.”

Source: Guardian News

India – Bal Keshav Thackeray’s Death : Fear over the city

“… as news spread, office-goers scrambled home, shopkeepers pulled down shutters, petrol pumps closed down, taxis and autos went off roads and cinemas called off screenings. Hooligans were soon on the streets, forcing shops to close and shattering neon signs left on. A partial shutdown is likely to prevail for 3-4 days.”

–Front page blurb in the Sunday Times (of India), November 18

Mumbai strongman Bal Keshav Thackeray’s death on Saturday afternoon emptied out the streets of India’s Maximum City, sending ordinary residents scurrying home. Thousands of kilometres away, in Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed for calm.

Bal Thackeray attempted to rule Mumbai by fear, sending out his goons to check those who he thought shouldn’t play cricket, write books he didn’t like or write articles in newspapers that weren’t to his liking. His Mumbai for Mumbaikars maxim applied only to Marathis and consciously targeted south Indians, north Indians and minorities.

The fear the city witnessed after the formal announcement of his death only details the politics that he practiced – undemocratic, strong-arm and divisive.

Bombay filmwallahs and big corporate guns had been making a beeline for the Thackeray residence for the past few days, giving the right bytes to the many television reporters covering the unfolding saga of the Shiv Sena founder’s death.

For over four decades, he controlled the politics of the city, dividing residents on the basis of their ethnic origin or religion and reaping rich political and personal benefits for himself, his family and close associates.

Picking on soft targets, the cartoonist-turned politician, who never contested an election in his career, used his newspaper, Saamna, to build up an image of the defender of ethnic Maharashtrians and Hindus.

Neither did Thackeray ever take office in Mumai, Maharashtra or Delhi, preferring to rule by remote control when the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party took power in Mahasrashtra in 1995.

After hitting out at South Indians in the late 1960s, Bal Thackeray was an effective tool that was used by big industrialists to attack and crush the communist-led trade union movement in the city. Today, with the textile mills of Mumbai closed, developers are now using this vacant mill land to make millions. A militant and effective trade union movement that kept ruthless business in check is no more.

Bal Thackeray had no positive vision, no programme for Mumbai. His ideology was what he said on the day. Over four decades since the Shiv Sena came into existence, Mumbai is not a better city in terms of civic amenities, environmental health or even security for its citizens.

His most pernicious legacy is his attacks on Muslims, with the Justice B.N. Srikrishna Commission of inquiry into the Bombay riots of 1992 and 1993 holding the Sena and Bal Thackeray squarely responsible for the killings.

“There is no doubt,” the report records, “that the Shiv Sena and Shiv Sainiks took the lead in organising attacks on Muslims and their properties under the guidance of several leaders of the Shiv Sena from the level of Shakha Pramukh to the Shiv Sena Pramukh Bal Thackeray who, like a veteran General, commanded his loyal Shiv Sainiks to retaliate by organised attacks against Muslims.”

In 1999, India’s Election Commission struck off Thackeray’s name from the voters list and barred him from contesting elections for a period of six years for using religion to garner votes.

For many who didn’t want to dirty their hands, it was good to have Bal Thackeray around. The strong-man could get the job done.

His brand of politics must also make Indians ponder about our brand of democracy and our inherent tolerance for those who break the law.

The Bal Thackeray phenomenon could not have grown in importance but for support from the State, initially from successive chief ministers of the Congress party.

An open admirer of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi – and Adolf Hitler –Thackeray was open in his support for the Emergency (1975-1977) when all civil rights were suspended in India.

Many admired him for his consistency in preaching hate. He articulated the many biases in our society.

Such adulation can only strengthen authoritarian politics while simultaneously diluting the rule of law.

Mumbai and India are better off without such politics.

Source: Dawn News (by Amit Baruah)