brad brace contemporary culture scrapbook

May 31, 2006

Good Hindus be temple priests, forget caste: Empowering Karunanidhi style

Filed under: india — admin @ 5:18 am

Can the establishment succeed in imposing reforms in religious institutions? Is it in keeping with the secular nature of the establishment? Is it ethical to single out a particular religion for such reforms? Is there a mandate for it? Is it one of the priorities of the administration especially when the solemn promises made during the run-up to the polls are so many that one full term of 5 years is not enough for implementation?

The atheist Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Muthuvel Karunanidhi will have no answer to these questions when he has ordered, within days of his taking over the reins of the administration in the conservative state of Tamil Nadu, that the priesthood in all the 36,000-odd temples of the state will be open to “qualified” people of all castes.

On the face of it, the order appears to be noble in its professed intentions in removing social inequities, especially in the majority community that is hopelessly divided on castelines. It is also quite logical to think that such a move would help fostering unity and social upliftment of the castes oppressed for centuries. It can also be argued that the caste system, scourge of Hindu society, may also go away in one stroke, if not in stages.

May 29, 2006

Anti-graft group: Bribery in Kenya grows in 2005

Filed under: kenya — admin @ 4:48 pm

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyans paid more bribes in 2005 compared with 2004, especially when dealing with law enforcement officers and buying basic services like health care, according to a report released by an anti-graft group on Monday.

The study, the Kenya Bribery Index, compiled by the Kenyan chapter of graft watchdog Transparency International, said Kenyans encountered bribery in 47 percent of their interactions with officials in 2005, compared with 34 percent in 2004.

“To us it seems that Kenyans have accepted bribery as a way of life. We find that Kenyans live with bribery everyday, every minute,” Evelyn Mungai, chairperson of Transparency International Kenya, said at the launch of the index.

The report said the majority of bribes were paid to the police, followed by state-owned companies and local authorities.

“I’m not proud to come here year in year out to tell you that our vital public institutions are rotten,” said Mwalimu Mati, Transparency International Kenya’s executive director.

“What we are calling petty bribery is not as small a problem as we might imagine. Our country is bleeding from corruption.”

The study showed that Kenya’s fight against graft was losing steam. In 2003 Kenyans encountered bribery in just over 40 percent of their dealings with officials.

“Clearly the enthusiasm that was there, that proactive efforts by wananchi (citizens) dissipated at some point,” David Ndii, a research adviser at TI-Kenya said.

“Also the government’s zero tolerance platform has been dealt very serious credibility blows.”

President Mwai Kibaki’s government came to power in late 2002 with a pledge to fight graft, but Kenyans are becoming increasingly doubtful of its ability to win, given its failure to prosecute senior officials accused of involvement in dubious procurement contracts.

Kibaki’s government is grappling with graft scandals linked to a procurement racket, dubbed Anglo Leasing, in which state contracts worth some $200 million went to a phantom company.

The scandal, along with another called Goldenberg, in which $1 billion was looted from state coffers through fictitious diamond and gold exports in the early 1990s, forced three ministers to resign.

Filed under: belize — admin @ 4:28 pm

May 25, 2006

Beware! Kenya Postal Crooks!

Filed under: General,kenya — admin @ 12:10 pm

Kenya Post cannot be trusted! After paying 200 ksh for a customs-form(!), and paying exorbitant postage rates for slow (3-4 months to USA!) surface package delivery… your insured package will not arrive — stolen by postal employees! Queries regarding the theft do not get a response!

(Email-me for comments on Wildebeeste Workshop accommodation.)

May 13, 2006

‘Wonder fish’ caught in Kenya…

Filed under: kenya — admin @ 7:49 pm

Published: 14 May 2006

MOMBASA: A tuna fish caught in the Indian Ocean has excited Kenyan Muslims who are flocking here by the hundreds to see a Quranic verse apparently embedded in its scales.

Dubbed the “wonder fish” by locals in this port city, the 2.5kg tuna has attracted so much attention it has been placed in the custody of the National Fisheries Department for safekeeping.

The otherwise ordinary fish caught the attention of fishmonger Omar Mohammed Awadh who pulled it out of a catch when he noticed what seemed to be Arabic writing among the scales near its tail.

Arabic scholars determined the writing was a verse meaning “God is the greatest of all providers”, said Hassan Mohamed Hassan, with the National Museums of Kenya.

“This has been confirmed as a verse from the Quran,” said Sheikh Mombasa Dor, the secretary-general of the Council of Imams and Preachers.

May 11, 2006

Thailand starts dog radio station

Filed under: thailand — admin @ 3:14 pm

BANGKOK, Thailand — A Thai entrepreneur who launched an Internet radio station for dogs this week said he hopes to reach out to the kingdom’s pooches and cheer them up.

Anupan Boonchuen, director of a dog grooming school in Bangkok, said he launched Dog Radio Thailandexternal link on Wednesday because noticed that dogs seem happier when he plays music as he grooms them.

“I have close contact with dogs every day. Dogs get in a better mood if they listen to music,” Anupan said Thursday.

Often while Anupan’s students practice grooming for the first time, they do not know how to handle the dogs. So during class, he said he plays music because it “puts the dogs in a good mood and they’re more willing to let the groomers handle them.”

The programming on mainly consists of Thai pop music, but Anupan also plans to air programs in which the DJ will “talk to the dogs in Thai” — to which the canine listener will be encouraged to respond.

“At 9 a.m., we may have a dog greeting show, in which we’ll repeat ‘sawasdee’ (‘hello’) over and over … If we say ‘sawasdee,’ in some houses, the dog may lift both paws in response. In some houses, the dog may lift only one paw. It depends on how the dog was trained,” Anupan said.

Anupan said he had long dreamed of starting a radio station for dogs, but it always seemed too expensive. He was able to bring his project to fruition after hearing an international news story about a low-cost Internet radio station for dogs in the United States.

He hopes that the DJ will be able to communicate through the radio and that the dogs will respond.

“If we play a slow song, we may have the DJ howl … because dogs howl, too, when they hear sad sounds,” Anupan said.

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