My Life, The Universe and Everything

Truths I learn. Barriers I seek to break. Let me scream.

Archive for the ‘On War’ Category

The Art of Persuasion

Posted by themischord on October 10, 2007

“A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”

This is an unsourced quote, commonly attributed to Stalin. When raising funds during the world war, Stalin is said to have advised that the one should talk of the individual stories of Russian soldiers. Quoting numbers will not have the same pyschological impact.  Extremely insightful! Call it the art of persuasion a leader should have.

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No War Plz, I Can Live In a Cave

Posted by themischord on July 12, 2007

In a previous post, I talked of how I grew up not realizing that India had been behind the world in technology. Today, over a casual lunch talk, I realized that those were really our years of bliss. At the table was a Russian, an American, a Sri Lankan and me, an Indian. The Russian talked of how military drafting was a part of their system from which one could not escape. A nightmare people had to live with. The Sri Lankan agreed.  He said that in his country, the youth got drafted  too – but either into the military or into the terrorist groups. Then there was some discussion about how at one point US almost decided to make drafting a law. And I was asked, “Is it so in India?”. I smiled with pride. Cheers went around that India was a true democracy.

Yes we sure are. Had India been a military super power, had we been at constant war, maybe India would have had drafting laws too. But we aren’t. And I’m glad for that.

This moment of peace is so momentary.

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Life Must Go On …

Posted by themischord on March 13, 2007

I work in my university’s alumni travel department. Today, I get a call from a lady who is all excited about our French Alps trip. Yeah, I hear that every day. She tells how much she wants to visit the museum at Florence her son strongly recommended. And then her voice breaks down, as she tells me that he was a helicopter pilot and was shot down in the French Alps. She has no idea what mission he was on, where he was headed or why he was on an unarmed carrier.

I wonder how strong a person one needs to be, to live with such a loss. She says, “Maybe I won’t ski, but my son said that he loved to ski there, so I’m all excited about this…”.

I keep telling my friends (and myself too) often, that maybe the greatest truth is that we are alive, and life must go on, against all odds.

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Internet Helps The Indonesians

Posted by themischord on June 4, 2006

In a recent discussion, a friend strongly put forth his view on how technology disrupts an existing order to create a new one, usually worse. His opinion is rightly backed by history, but I'm glad to have come across one example where technology trimphs.

This is the story of how the 30 year authoritarian regime of President Suharto of Indonesia was overthrow in 1998. Merlyna Lim's paper discusses a very intersting study on the role Internet in bringing together the different strata of the Indonesian civial society to strenghthen the protest against Suharto's regime. Although the penetration of Internet was just about 1% at the time of the overthrow, Internet was an important medium which helped in spreading the news of the corrupt government. This could not be achieved through the traditional media like newspaper/radio as they were highly regulated. Internet was the source for the Indonesians to know of neutral view points. The Internet cafes are said to have highly impacted the organizing of students, who circulated mails of Suharto's wealth listing. These mails soon became so popular that they were printed out and sold like newspapers, thus reaching the wider population which was not exposed to the Internet. Maybe the Indonesians were lucky that Suharto's government was not quick enough to censor the Internet!

I wondered why Bhasa Indonesia was one of the few (20 odd) world languages into which Free Software Philosophy documents have been translated. Guess I got some part of the answer!

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Agent Orange

Posted by themischord on May 25, 2006

War calls for strategies. One such purported 'strategy' adopted during the vietnam war was to deny the enemy food. This was done by massively spraying herbicides and defoliants over agricultural tracts. Agent Orange is one of the herbicides which was used. It is known to contain high concentrations of dioxins, chemical components which can cause many kinds of cancers and disorders.

Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders who were victims of Agent Orange, were paid compensations in and out of courts. But sadly, the vietnamese who let 6 million acres of their farmland be destroyed were paid none. Ah but yes, US was ready to accept an apology from them for the loss they had caused their country.

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Posted by themischord on May 24, 2006

At 21, I knew of only one major war: World War II. Episodes of the concentration camps would make me cry. More revelations, more tears now. The world has witnessed and is witnessing many more planned genocides and pogroms than what one is aware of. I will blog about them. Pieces of war stories and atrocities.

Battles shed blood, of soldiers brave
Wars shed humanity, for power a few crave.

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