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Conversations

BITS & BYTES




POSTS OF INTEREST FROM POPULAR BLOGS

TECHTONIC SHIFTS
"At the annual f8 conference for outside developers, [Facebook ] CEO Zuckerberg took the stage to announce some game-changing new technologies. The first is the Web-wide 'like' button. Now, when someone visits any one of hundreds of sites ranging from CNN to IMDb, he can 'like' a piece of content there. That connection is automatically, intelligently integrated into your Facebook profile—if you like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Facebook understands that that's a movie, and automatically adds it to your list of favorite films. This is Facebook-as-magpie, a crowded nest to house every possible scrap of social information about its users, even if it's coming from elsewhere on the Web.

BLAG HAG

"This little bit of supernatural thinking has been floating around the blogosphere today: 'Many women who do not dress modestly . . . lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes, ' Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Sedighi is Tehran's acting Friday prayer leader. ' I have a modest proposal. Sedighi claims that not dressing modestly causes earthquakes. If so, we should be able to test this claim scientifically…On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. . . I encourage other female skeptics to join me…With the power of our scandalous bodies. . . we should surely produce an earthquake. If not, I'm sure Sedighi can come up with a rational explanation for why the ground didn't rumble. "

THEIR VIEW INDIA IN THE FOREIGN PRESS


A BITTER PILL
In an April 19 Huffington Post article, Tido von Schoen-Angerer asks India: Will Pharma, Trade Agreements Shut Down the Pharmacy of the Developing World? He starts off by explaining how "not a week seems to go by without the West…crying foul over India's handling of intellectual property. " Western governments and "pharmaceutical giants", according to him, accuse India "of being unfriendly to business interests because of its patent laws. " He argues, however, that India's laws abide by international trade agreements;the problem, from the perspective of Western companies, seems to be that they also contain "provisions that safeguard against unnecessary patenting of medicines and allow for competition from generic drug companies. " And this "competition between multiple manufacturers allows for lower prices and greater access to lifesaving medicines. " But he is worried that now "pharmaceutical companies are chipping away at India's legal safeguards in the courts. "
To illustrate just what is at stake, he gives the example of "HIV treatment for patients in Africa and parts of Asia" which was "revolutionized in 2001, when one of the Indian generic companies produced a three-in-one HIV/AIDS treatment for a dollar a day, at a time when brand-name pharmaceutical companies were charging $12, 000 a year. " And given the inevitable effect of free market forces, this forced a general fall "in the price of treatment of over 99 percent". Thus, India has become "the pharmacy of the developing word" with the vast majority of the medicines supplied by various global aid agencies sourced from here. Schoen-Angerer points out that "without affordable Indian generics, millions of lives saved over the past decade would otherwise have been lost. " And he concludes by asking a somber question;"what will happen if you close the pharmacy of the developing world? "

GIMME SHELTER

Over the past decade, there have been various outbreaks of religious violence across the country, from the Godhra riots to the anti-Christian riots in Orissa. Ben Arnoldy examines the fate of the displaced survivors in an April 15 Christian Science Monitor article. In India, religious violence leaves long trail of refugee camps, he says, starting off by citing the findings of a recent "delegation of German parliamentarians" who were examining the condition of the Christians displaced by the Orissa riots: 'We saw the miserable situation of people without proper homes and livelihood opportunities. Most of them are yet to be compensated adequately . . . even after two years, police have not registered several complaints'. Arnoldy also gives the example of the Gujarat riots where even after eight years, "displaced Muslims remain in ghettos". And he also cites the case of the "Kashmiri Hindus [who] remain in refugee camps outside Kashmir some two decades after being targeted".

He says that while "India prides itself as a religiously diverse, secular state. . . the effects of religious riots can linger for years, particularly the ghettoisation of minorities" Thus, he says, "the rising segregation of Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat. " And this sort of ghettoisation just perpetuates the cycle of communal discord;"Muslims still living in some of the 81 relief colonies set up after the riots now face strict religious rules imposed by Muslim groups working in the camps. "


Compiled by: Vikram Sinha

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