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Indian Propaganda Brainwashing the Poor in India

A recent Pew Global Attitudes survey shows that 85% of Indians are satisfied with their government's performance, particularly its handling of the economy. Only the Chinese and Brazilians are more satisfied with their economic situation among the 22 countries included in the survey.

India, a nation which has the dubious distinction of being home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry, illiterate and sick people, and where 7000 people die of hunger every day, fully 81% say terrorism is the biggest problem India faces today.

The only way to explain these strange opinions from the Pew Poll in India is to seriously ponder over the following excerpts from MIT's Linguistics and Communications Professor Noam Chomsky's inteview recently published in Outlook India:

Q: You once said, “Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to totalitarianism.” Do you mean that propaganda enables the elite to dull the will of people, depriving them of the capacity to make political choices?

A. That clearly is its goal, in fact its stated goal. Back in the 1920s, it used to be frankly called propaganda. But the word acquired a bad flavour with Nazism in the 1930s. So now, it’s not called propaganda any more. But they were right in the 1920s. The huge public relations industry, for example, has its goal to control attitudes and beliefs. Liberal commentators, like Walter Lippmann, said we have to manufacture consent and keep the rabble away from the decision-making. We are the responsible men, we have to make decisions and we have to be protected—and I quote Lippmann—“from the trampling under the rage of the bewildered herd—the public”. In the democratic process, we are the participants, they watch. And the task of intellectuals, media and so on is to make sure that they are quiet, subdued and obedient. That is the view from the liberal end of the spectrum. Yes, I don’t doubt that the media is liberal in that sense.


Professor Noam Chomsky, co-author with Ed Herman of Manufacturing Consent, also told Outlook India that “media subdues the public. It’s so in India, certainly".

Here are some more excerpts from Chomsky's Outlook inteview:

"I spent three weeks in India and a week in Pakistan. A friend of mine here, Iqbal Ahmed, told me that I would be surprised to find that the media in Pakistan is more open, free and vibrant than that in India.

In Pakistan, I read the English language media which go to a tiny part of the population. Apparently, the government, no matter how repressive it is, is willing to say to them that you have your fun, we are not going to bother you. So they don’t interfere with it.

The media in India is free, the government doesn’t have the power to control it. But what I saw was that it was pretty restricted, very narrow and provincial and not very informative, leaving out lots of things. What I saw was a small sample. There are very good things in the Indian media, specially the Hindu and a couple of others. But this picture (in India) doesn’t surprise me. In fact, the media situation is not very different in many other countries. The Mexican situation is unusual. La Jornada is the only independent newspaper in the whole hemisphere."

"As soon as the plan to invade Iraq was announced, the media began serving as a propaganda agency for the government. The same was true for Vietnam, for state violence generally. The media is called liberal because it is liberal in the sense that Obama is. For example, he’s considered as the principled critic of the Iraq war. Why? Because, right at the beginning, he said it was a strategic blunder. That’s the extent of his liberalism. You could read such comments in Pravda in 1985. The people said that the invasion of Afghanistan was a strategic blunder. Even the German general staff said that Stalingrad was a strategic blunder. But we don’t call that principled criticism."

"Perhaps the period of greatest real press freedom was in the more free societies of Britain and the US in the late 19th century. There was a great variety of newspapers, most often run by the factory workers, ethnic communities and others. There was a lot of popular involvement. These papers reflected a wide variety of opinions, were widely read too. It was the period of greatest vibrancy in the US. There were efforts, especially in England, to control and censor it. These didn’t work. But two things pretty much eliminated them. One, it was possible for the corporate sector to simply put so much capital into their own newspapers that others couldn’t compete. The other factor was advertising; advertiser-reliance. Advertisers are businesses. When newspapers become dependent on advertisers for their income, they are naturally going to bend to the interest of advertisers.

If you look at the New York Times, maybe the world’s greatest newspaper, they have the concept of news hole. What that means is that in the afternoon when they plan for the following day’s newspaper, the first thing they do is to layout where the advertising is going to be, because that’s an important part of a newspaper. You then put the news in the gaps between advertisements. In television there is a concept called content and fill. The content is the advertising, the fill is car chase, the sexy or whatever you put in to try to keep the viewer watching in between the ads. That’s a natural outcome when you have advertiser-reliance."


Chomsky is not alone in his assessment of the Indian media. Here are a few other examples:

1. Alice Albinia in the preface to her book "Empires of the Indus":

"It was April, 2000, almost a year since the war between Pakistan and India over Kargil in Kashmir had ended, and the newspapers which the delivery man threw on to my terace every morning still portrayed Pakistan as a rogue state, governed by military cowboys, inhabited by murderous fundamentalists: the rhetoric had the patina of hysteria."

2. John Briscoe, Harvard Professor and water expert on coverage of India-Pakistan water dispute:

Living in Delhi and working in both India and Pakistan, I was struck by a paradox. One country was a vigorous democracy, the other a military regime. But whereas an important part of the Pakistani press regularly reported India's views on the water issue in an objective way, the Indian press never did the same. I never saw a report which gave Indian readers a factual description of the enormous vulnerability of Pakistan, of the way in which India had socked it to Pakistan when filling Baglihar. How could this be, I asked? Because, a journalist colleague in Delhi told me, "when it comes to Kashmir – and the Indus Treaty is considered an integral part of Kashmir -- the ministry of external affairs instructs newspapers on what they can and cannot say, and often tells them explicitly what it is they are to say."

3. Shekhar Gupta in Indian Express:

Can we deny the fact that every new terror attack on the Pakistani establishment, every development that marks a further decline in the authority of its government is greeted with an utterly unconcealed sense of delight? This is not just the mood of the mobs here. Even the “intelligentsia”, the TV talking heads, opinion page columnists, government spokespersons, all have the same smug air of “I-told-you-so” and “so-what-else-did-they-expect” satisfaction. And they ask the same patronising question: hell, can Pakistan be saved?

It is time therefore to stop jubilating at the unfolding tragedy in Pakistan. India has to think of becoming a part of the solution. And that solution lies in not merely saving Pakistan — Pakistan will survive. It has evolved a strong nationalism that does bind its people even if that does not reflect in its current internal dissensions. It is slowly building a democratic system, howsoever imperfect. But it has a very robust media and a functional higher judiciary. Also, in its army, it has at least one national institution that provides stability and continuity. The question for us is, what kind of Pakistan do we want to see emerging from this bloodshed? What if fundamentalists of some kind, either religious or military or a combination of both, were to take control of Islamabad? The Americans will always have the option of cutting their losses and leaving. They have a long history of doing that successfully, from Vietnam to Iraq and maybe Afghanistan next. What will be our Plan-B then?


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Disease Burdens in South Asia

Pakistan's Media Boom

Manufacturing Consent: Political Economy of the Mass Media

India 63 Years After Independence

Pew Poll in India

Media Subdues The Public. It’s So In India, Certainly

Empires of the Indus

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Comment by Riaz Haq on July 10, 2012 at 4:22pm

Here's a NY Times article by journalist Waheed Mirza:

LAST September, a lawmaker in Indian-controlled Kashmir stood up in the state’s legislative assembly and spoke of a valley filled with human carcasses near his home constituency in the mountains: “In our area, there are big gorges, where there are the bones of several hundred people who were eaten by crows.”

... The assembly was debating a report on the uncovering of more than 2,000 unmarked and mass graves not far from the Line of Control that divides Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. The report, by India’s government-appointed State Human Rights Commission, marked the first official acknowledgment of the presence of mass graves. More significantly, the report found that civilians, potentially the victims of extrajudicial killings, may be buried at some of the sites.

Corpses were brought in by the truckload and buried on an industrial scale. The report cataloged 2,156 bullet-riddled bodies found in mountain graves and called for an inquiry to identify them. Many were men described as “unidentified militants” killed in fighting with soldiers during the armed rebellion against Indian rule during the 1990s, but according to the report, more than 500 were local residents. “There is every probability,” the report concluded, that the graves might “contain the dead bodies of enforced disappearances,” a euphemism for people who have been detained, abducted, taken away by armed forces or the police, often without charge or conviction, and never seen again.

Had the graves been found under Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s compound in Libya or in the rubble of Homs in Syria, there surely would have been an uproar. But when over 2,000 skeletons appear in the conflict-ridden backyard of the world’s largest democracy, no one bats an eye. ........
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In March 2000, a day before President Bill Clinton visited India, about 35 Kashmiri Sikhs were massacred by unidentified gunmen in the village of Chattisinghpora, 50 miles from the Kashmiri capital, Srinagar. Soon after, L. K. Advani, then India’s home minister, declared that the terrorists responsible for the killings had been shot dead in an “encounter” with the Indian Army. But the truth turned out to be more sinister. Under pressure from human rights groups and relatives, the bodies of the so-called terrorists were exhumed, and after a couple of botched investigations in which DNA samples were fudged, it was revealed that the dead men were innocent Kashmiris.

It took nearly 12 years — primarily because of the Indian government’s refusal to prosecute those involved in the murders — to reach the Supreme Court of India. On May 1, in a widely criticized decision, the court left it to the army to decide how to proceed, and the army has opted for a court-martial rather than a transparent civilian trial. In the eyes of Pervez Imroz, a Kashmiri lawyer and civil rights activist, the court’s decision “further emboldens the security forces” and strengthens “a process that has appeared to never favor the victims.”-------
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The Indian government must do what may seem inconceivable to the hawks in the military establishment but is long overdue. Before it can even begin to contemplate negotiating a lasting political solution in consultation with Kashmiris it must act to deliver justice — for the parents of the disappeared; for the young lives brutally extinguished in 2010; for the innocent dead stealthily buried in unmarked graves in the mountains; for the Kashmiris languishing in Indian prisons without any legal recourse; for the exiled Kashmiri Hindu Pandits who fled in 1990 after some were targeted and killed by militants; and for the mother of Sameer Rah, who still doesn’t know why her young son was bludgeoned to death and his body left by a curb.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/opinion/sunday/indias-blood-stain...

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 22, 2013 at 4:15pm

Here are a couple of pieces on India-Pakistan latest LoC flare-up in Kashmir:

Outlook India, Jan 28, 2013:

Buried inside a report by Shishir Gupta in the Hindustan Times was the claim that two Indian soldiers were beheaded in July 2011 and “three months later, heads of three Pakistani soldiers went missing, with Islamabad lodging a protest with New Delhi.” Don’t you love it that while Indian soldiers are beheaded, Pakistani soldiers’ heads go “missing”—as though they detach themselves from the bodies of the soldiers and just disappear? The report also claimed that similar beheadings (of Indian soldiers) and heads going missing (of Pakistanis) had taken place in 2000, 2003 and 2007. When Admiral Lakshminarayan Ramdas (retd), former chief of the Indian navy, tried to say on Barkha Dutt’s show on NDTV that the Indian army has also beheaded Pakistani soldiers, he was cut short by Dutt. But in 2001, Dutt had herself written that she had seen a head displayed as a war trophy by the Indian army during the Kargil war in 1999. Two other journalists were not shy of recalling similar experiences: Sankarshan Thakur of The Telegraph (on his website) and Harinder Baweja of the Hindustan Times on Twitter.

If these incidents happen so often, why did anonymous sources in the Indian army decide to use the defence correspondents to make it seem like an unprecedented provocation from Pakistan? There is little doubt that the beheading of a soldier, and the taking away of his head as a war trophy is sickening and outrageous and every such incident should come to light. But it should also remind us of the brutalities of war, and that the LoC is a ceasefire line where hostilities have merely been halted until the next battle; that the two armies stand eye-to-eye there because of the Kashmir dispute; that Jammu and Kashmir is not a settled question. Such thoughts are apparently anti-national. And bad for TRPs.

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?283606

Friday Times, Jan 18-24:

The Indian outrage turns on the alleged act of "beheading". Mainstream Indian media insists it is both unprecedented and Pakistan-centred. But the Indian media has ignored reports of beheadings by both sides in earlier encounters in the Kashmir sector. Several Indian journalists have drawn attention to such practices also by Indian troops since the Kargil conflict in 1999. Barkha Dutt, a top NDTV anchor, wrote about it in her "Confessions of a War Reporter" in Himal magazine in 2001. Sankarshan Thakur, a former editor of Kolkota's Telegraph newspaper, wrote about Naga and Jat regiment excesses in the Drass sector of Kargil in his article titled "Guns and Yellow Roses". Harinder Baweja made similar observations in "A Soldier's diary" published in India Today. And Praveen Swami confirmed such mutual incidents in a timely article in The Hindu on Jan 10th.

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta3/tft/article.php?issue=20130118&...

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 22, 2013 at 10:43pm

Here's an excerpt from a piece titled "Confessions of a War Reporter" by Barkha Dutt published in Himal Magazine:

I had to look three times to make sure I was seeing right. Balanced on one knee, in a tiny alley behind the army’s administrative offices, I was peering through a hole in a corrugated tin sheet. At first glance, all I could see were some leaves. I looked harder and amidst all the green, there was a hint of black – it looked like a moustache. “Look again,” said the army colonel, in a tone that betrayed suppressed excitement. This time, I finally saw.

It was a head, the disembodied face of a slain soldier nailed onto a tree. “The boys got it as a gift for the brigade,” said the colonel, softly, but proudly. Before I could react, the show was over. A faded gunny bag appeared from nowhere, shrouded the soldier’s face, the brown of the bag now merging indistinguishably with the green of the leaves. Minutes later, we walked past the same tree where the three soldiers who had earlier unveiled the victory trophy were standing. From the corner of his eye, the colonel exchanged a look of shard achievement, and we moved on. We were firmly in the war zone.

It’s been two years since Kargil, but even as some of the other details become fuzzy, this episode refuses to fade from either memory or conscience. A few months ago, I sat across a table with journalists from Pakistan and elsewhere in the region, and confessed I hadn’t reported that story, at least not while the war was still on. It had been no easy decision, but at that stage the outcome of the war was still uncertain. The country seemed gripped by a collective sense of tension and dread, and let's face it – most of us were covering a war for the first time in our careers. Many of the decisions we would take over the next few weeks were tormented and uncertain. I asked my friend from Pakistan, listening to my anguish with empathy, what he would have done in my place? He replied, “Honestly, I don’t know.”

This then, is the truth of reporting conflict and wars. Often we just don’t know. And even more often, whether we like ourselves for it or not, our emotional perceptions of these conflicts are shaped by how our histories have been handed down to us. Whatever textbook journalism may preach, I think the time has come to accept that every story we do is shaped by our own set of perceptions, and thus prejudices as well. National identity is one of the many factors that add up to make the sum total of who we are and what we write or report. It sneaks up on us and weaves its way into our subconscious, often mangled and confused, but still there, determining what we see and how we see it. And, when I speak of national identity I do not mean chest-thumping, flag-waving nationalism. I mean years of accumulated baggage, what we read in school, the villains and heroes in our popular cinema – in fact the entire process of socialization.

The media may not be reduced to being a crude tool of the nation state, but it will always have to fight with itself to find a space that is honest. And sometimes we will make mistakes. At other times, we may never know whether we made a mistake or chose right. But so long as we hide behind the theoretical notion of objective journalism, as long as we believe that journalists are innately more enlightened than others of the human species, the search for that truthful professional space will be a dishonest one. The war taught me that – just how complex and ridden with contradictions this search can be.

http://www.himalmag.com/component/content/article/5140-confessions-...

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 16, 2015 at 11:17am

#India Army threatened me for #Kashmir coverage: Veteran Journalist Shekhar Gupta - Rising Kashmir

http://www.risingkashmir.com/news/army-threatened-me-for-kashmir-co...

Noted Indian journalist, Shekhar Gupta Thursday said he would often receive threats from the Indian Army and other government establishments for covering Kashmir.
“We got a lot of flak for covering Kashmir,” he said speaking at the book release function of Aina Numa, a collection of writings of the former Member of Parliament and editor of ‘Aina’, late Shamim Ahmad Shamim.
Gupta, who remained the editor-in-chief of Indian Express for 19 years and also served as the vice chairman of the India Today Group for a while, was the chief guest on the occasion.
“When we broke the story of Pathribal fake encounter in Indian Express, and did a number of investigative follow up stories, I was getting phone calls from the Indian Army who would tell me, ‘What type of stories are you covering,’” he said.
Gupta, a recipient of Padma Bhushan award for his contribution to journalism, writes a weekly column ‘National Interest’ for India Today magazine and hosts an interview-based television show ‘Walk the Talk’ on NDTV news channel.
He said Kashmir was inextricably woven in the national security story and had been covered as a problem not as a place or people.
“National media sees it purely through the paradigm of that story – Line of Control, infiltration, gunfights, militants, and so on,” Gupta said. “This type of journalism has bedeviled the concept of Kashmir in India.”
Gupta, an author of Assam: A valley divided and India redefines its role, said it was unfortunate that journalists with very little knowledge of Kashmir were parachuted to the Valley to cover Kashmir.
“These people spend a week inside a hotel, do not even come to know about the day-to-day problems of the people like long hours of power curtailments, and return with stories of underlying danger of security increasing in Kashmir,” he said and accepted that Indian media had never been truthful with Kashmir coverage.
Gupta, who did his initial schooling from an RSS-run institution, said reporting anything truthful, embarrassing, or a setback was seen to be anti-national.
“But does it serve the national interest? We came to the conclusion that truth will never hurt the national interest,” he said. “We did a story when the GoC of the 15 Corps called DCs and SPs and told them to target people under the Public Safety Act and we did stories on fake surrender of militants, Srinagar sex-abuse scandal, and the killings of three persons allegedly by the DGP Kuldeep Khoda.”
Gupta, a keen Kashmir watcher, who has written extensively on Kashmir, said Kashmir does not need parachute journalists.
“Previously, calling an encounter a fake encounter was seen as a punishable act but it is no longer so as troops are now even punished in court martial proceedings,” he said. “There still are distortions but the coverage is much more open now.”
Gupta also criticized the Indian media for hyperbole while covering Nepal earthquake after praising Indian Army out of way during the coverage of Kashmir floods.
“We didn’t learn our lessons in Kashmir and we paid for it in Nepal,” he said.
Gupta said he had been laying a stress on reporters to report stories other than that of conflict from Kashmir.
“I tell them there is a state of Kashmir and the people there have their aspirations, they have their problems, there is a story on power cuts, shortage of jobs, how well Kashmiris are treated in different parts of India,” he said.
Gupta said Kashmir journalists working in India were serving as great ambassadors of Kashmir.
“My mother won’t believe Bangladesh had fallen until Mark Tully reported it and Rajiv Gandhi won’t believe his mother was dead till Mark Tully reported it,” he said asking Kashmiri journalists to be ambassadors of Kashmir like Mark Tully.
Gupta said there cannot be any better tribute to Shamim Ahmad Shamim than knowing that people of his profession from Kashmir were doing good.

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 22, 2015 at 12:09pm

CBS News Investigative Journalist Explains How #American Mainstream Media Brainwashes The Masses: http://wp.me/p2ftZi-2Aa via @IamNotSirius

Did you know that only a handful of corporations, 6 to be exact, control over 90 percent of the media? That means nearly everything we hear on the radio, read in the news, and see on television (including ‘news’). I’m talking about General Electric (GE), News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS.

Ever since Operation Mockingbird, a CIA-based initiative to control mainstream media, more and more people are expressing their concern that what we see in the media is nothing short of brainwashing. This is also evident by blatant lies that continue to spam the TV screen, especially when it comes to topics such as health, food, war (“terrorism“), poverty and more. Corporate interests always seem to get in the way.

Multiple celebrities have even spoken out about this. Roseanne Barr, for example, said that MK Ultra rules in Hollywood. MK Ultra was (and I believe still is) a program run by the CIA to practice methods of mind control and experiment on human beings. (source)(source)

Filled with clever marketing tactics designed to tell us what to think and what to buy, mainstream media manufactures public opinion and popular trends. It’s time to really take a look at what’s going on here and consider the type of information we’re being bombarded with.

In the below eyeopening talk, veteran investigative journalist (and Former CBS NEWS investigative reporter) Sharyl Attkisson shows how “astroturf,” or fake grassroots movements, funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 15, 2016 at 10:07am

#India is second most ignorant nation of the world after #Mexico: Survey http://dnai.in/d3Yc via @dna

India has the "dubious honour" of being the second most ignorant nation in the world after Mexico, according to a survey which posed questions on issues like inequality, non-religious population, female employment and internet access.

The survey conducted by Ipsos MORI, a London-based market research firm, polled 25,000 people from 33 countries and found that while people "over-estimate what we worry about", a lot of major issues are underestimated.

Mexico and India receive the dubious honour of being the most inaccurate in their perceptions on these issues, while South Koreans are the most accurate, followed by the Irish," the survey said.

The rankings of the nations were based on the "Index of Ignorance" which was determined by questions about wealth that the top 1 % own, obesity, non-religious population, immigration, living with parents, female employment, rural living and internet access.

Most Indians "underestimate" how much of their country's wealth is concentrated in the hands of the top 1%, the survey said, adding that the top 1% actually own an "incredible" 70 % of all wealth.

The survey also found that most Indians "hugely overestimate" the proportions of non-religious people in the country to be 33% when the true figure is under 1 %.

While Israel significantly underestimates the proportion of female employment (by 29 % points), people in countries like India, Mexico, South Africa and Chile all think of more women in work than really are, it said.

India fell in the list of nations which overestimate representation by women in politics.

Countries like Columbia, Russia, India and Brazil all think there is better female representation than there really is, the survey said.

However, the Indian population seriously underestimates the rural population of the country and thinks more people have internet access than in reality.

In India the average guess among online respondents for internet access is 60 per cent - an overestimation of the true picture of 41 percentage points, the survey added.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 24, 2016 at 3:43pm

Overreacting to #Terrorism? #BrusselsAttacks #Obama #Trump #Cruz2016 #Islamophobia http://nyti.ms/1XPfJOn 

Are terrorists more of a threat than slippery bathtubs?

President Obama, er, slipped into hot water when The Atlantic reportedthat he frequently suggests to his staff that fear of terrorism is overblown, with Americans more likely to die from falls in tubs than from attacks by terrorists.

The timing was awkward, coming right before the Brussels bombings, but Obama is roughly right on his facts: 464 people drowned in America in tubs, sometimes after falls, in 2013, while 17 were killed here by terrorists in 2014 (the most recent years for which I could get figures). Of course, that’s not an argument for relaxing vigilance, for at some point terrorists will graduate from explosives to nuclear, chemical or biological weapons that could be far more devastating than even 9/11. But it is an argument for addressing global challenges a little more rationally.

The basic problem is this: The human brain evolved so that we systematically misjudge risks and how to respond to them.

Our visceral fear of terrorism has repeatedly led us to adopt policies that are expensive and counterproductive, such as the invasion of Iraq. We have ramped up the intelligence community so much that there are now seven times as many Americans with security clearances (4.5 million) as live in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, Donald Trump responded to the Brussels attacks with crowd-pleasing calls for torture or barring Muslims that even Republican security experts agree are preposterous.

On the same day as the attacks, a paper by James E. Hansen and other climate experts was released arguing that carbon emissions are transforming our world far more quickly than expected, in ways that may inundate coastal cities and cause storms more horrendous than any in modern history. The response? A yawn.

Hansen is an eminent former NASA scientist, but he’s also an outlier in his timing forecasts, and I’m not qualified to judge whether he’s correct. Yet whatever the disagreement about the timeline, there is scientific consensus that emissions on our watch are transforming our globe for 10,000 years to come. As an important analysis in Nature Climate Change put it, “The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far.”

To put it another way, this year’s election choices may shape coastlines 10,000 years from now. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have both mocked the idea of human-caused climate change, with Trump suggesting that it is a hoax invented by China to harm the American economy (he now says that last point was a joke).

The upshot is that Brussels survived this week’s terrorist attacks, but it may not survive climate change (much of the city is less than 100 feet above sea level).

Doesn’t it seem prudent to invest in efforts to avert not only shoe bombers but also the drowning of the world’s low-lying countries?

----

Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, says that the kind of threats that we evolved to deal with are those that are imminent rather than gradual, and those that involve a deliberate bad actor, especially one transgressing our moral code. Explaining our lack of concern for global warming, he noted,“Climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, not flags.”

In short, our brains are perfectly evolved for the Pleistocene, but are not as well suited for the risks we face today. If only climate change caused sharp increases in snake populations, then we’d be on top of the problem!

Yet even if our brains sometimes mislead us, they also crown us with the capacity to recognize our flaws and rectify mistakes. So maybe we can adjust for our weaknesses in risk assessment — so that we confront the possible destruction of our planet as if it were every bit as ominous and urgent a threat as, say, a passing garter snake.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 29, 2016 at 10:01am

Watchdog Calls out #India for Failing to Protect Journalists - ABC News - #freedomofexpression http://abcn.ws/2c1OUpK via @ABC

India is failing to help and protect journalists who are facing violent threats or attacks for their work, an international watchdog agency said Monday, noting a pattern of resistance in investigating crimes targeting reporters.

The Committee to Protect Journalists counted 27 journalists killed for their work since 1992, and noted that it was still investigating more than two dozen cases to determine whether those journalists' deaths were also work-related. Most at risk are small-town journalists investigating corruption, rather than journalists in big cities like New Delhi or Mumbai.

The New York-based watchdog said in a report released Monday that it could find only one case in 10 years in India in which a suspect was prosecuted and convicted for killing a journalist, but that the suspect was later released on appeal.

"Perpetrators are seldom arrested," said Sujata Madhok of the Delhi Union of Journalists, according to the report. "The torturously slow Indian judicial system, together with corruption in the police force and the criminalization of politics, makes it possible to literally get away with murder."

The watchdog's findings are supported by another report, released in 2015 by India's own media watchdog, the Press Council of India. That report found that even though the country's democratic institutions and independent judiciary were strong, people who killed journalists were getting away with impunity.

"The situation is truly alarming," the Press Council said, warning that the trend could hurt India's democracy, and pressing Parliament to pass a nationwide law ensuring journalists' safety.

The Committee to Protect Journalists blamed successive Indian governments and local officials for doing little to address a problem that has existed for decades.

It noted that while newspaper reports on corruption scandals made for attention-grabbing headlines, those same corruption investigations tended to end abruptly if an involved journalist was killed.

"No government in India has been an ardent champion of press freedom," the report said. "Small-town journalists, even if a handful work for big media, will often find themselves alone and abandoned when trouble strikes."

The report focused on three cases of journalist killings in India, including the death in July 2015 of investigative reporter Akshay Singh, who was working on a story linked to an alleged $1 billion racket for providing jobs and college admissions in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

A month before that, freelance reporter Jagendra Singh died after being set on fire while reporting on allegations of rape and land fraud leveled against a local minister in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

And in 2011 in the eastern state of Chattisgarh, journalist Umesh Rajput was shot dead while investigating alleged medical negligence as well as separate claims that a politician's son was involved in an illegal gambling business.

"I can think of several cases where the police's first response to a threat, attack or killing of a journalist was to claim that the victim was not a journalist, or that the attack was not work-related," the report quoted Mumbai-based editor Geeta Seshu of the media-themed website The Hoot as saying.

Indian journalists contacted by The Associated Press agreed that while journalists were key in exposing the country's widespread and endemic corruption, they were doing so despite inadequate safety guarantees.

Authorities need to take the risk more seriously or risk having reporters abandon their investigations, journalists said.

"Journalists have become vulnerable to pressure from local mafia, businesses, newspaper managements and the government," said Rahul Jalali, president of New Delhi's press club.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 10, 2017 at 10:37am

Arun Shourie On Media Freedom: #Indian govt raids are an attempt to intimidate #India's free press. #Modi http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/arun-shouries-speech-on-media-freedo... … via @ndtv

My dear friends, I want to first begin by expressing my deep gratitude to Narendra Modi. He has brought so many friends together. And as a return favour, I want to read him a couplet, which Kuldip Nayar will tell us who it is by:

Tujhse se pahle vo jo ik shakhs yahan takht-nashin tha
Us ko bhi apne khuda hone pe itna hi yaqin tha

(He who occupied this throne before you
He too believed himself to be God as much as you)

And as that is from a Pakistani poet (Habib Jalib) I must protect myself by reading from the Granth Sahib: Ram gayo, Ravan gayo, jake Bhau Parivaar...Ye bhii jaayenge. (Ram is gone, so is Ravan, and these people too will go.)

So we must have that confidence. As there is no fact that needs to be added, no point in law that needs to be added after the person who has been the shield of freedom in India, Mr Fali Nariman, has given us such a good exposition.

I will address the question which (journalist) Nihal Singh sahib proposed. The question is: What should we do? And as Mr Kuldip Nayar said, it is not necessary to answer this question, at the time of the Emergency, but the fact of the matter is every generation is taught the lesson of freedom.

So this time, once again that lesson has begun. The first thing we must do is to recognise that a new phase has begun. Because thus far the government was using two instruments. One was to stuff the mouth of the media with the bribe of advertisements. There is a Zulu proverb that a dog with a bone in its mouth can't bark. So, they were converting the media into a dog with the advertisements in its mouth that cannot bark at them.

And the second point was, they were controlling and managing the media by the subterranean spreading of fear: Yaar, tum jaante nahi ho, Modi sab sun rahaa hai, uske paas saari team hai, ye hai, woh hai... Amit Shah CBI ko control kartaa hai, kal tumhaare par ye hogaa...Arre yaar, ye ho gayaa hai, phir bhi aadmi zindaa hai (points towards Prannoy Roy). Phir bhi channel chal rahi hai. (You know, Modi is listening to everything. He has this big team, he has this, he has that...Amit Shah controls the CBI, tomorrow they will do this to you... But, this has happened (the CBI raids) and the man (Prannoy Roy) is still alive. The channel is still going strong.)

You must see that now they have got what they could from those two instruments. So now they are using the third instrument, which is overt pressure. And they have made NDTV an example of that. And this will intensify in the coming months, I believe this will intensify. One because of the nature of the regime, the nature of the regime - its genes are totalitarian. What does totalitarian mean? Total domination in the entire geography of India, in every sphere of life - in all fora, they must dominate. So, they are extending it step by step, if you look at the pattern. The second is, that the gap between what they claim in their advertisements and speeches, and what the people are feeling on the ground in their lives - whether you're a farmer or a person who is losing his job, that is so wide already but that will become wider in the next two years as investments doesn't revive and other things happen. For that reason, they will then take to not just managing but suppressing the voices of dissent. So that's the first thing to realise.....

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