Sunday, 18 February 2018

Sri Lanka's civil war through a Tamil lens-The realities of an armed conflict

Sri Lanka's civil war through a Tamil lens

by Charlotte Mitchell 1 Feb 2018 lanka-civil-war-tamil-lens-180131121436527.html
Jude Ratnam was five years old when he fled the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, with his family.

In 1983, tensions between Sri Lanka's majority-Sinhalese government and minority Tamils erupted in a 26-year civil war that ended in 2009. The bloody conflict claimed about 100,000 lives, displaced hundreds of thousands of people and left indelible scars on the nation.

In 2006, Ratnam enrolled to study cinema and film making. Upon graduating, he embarked on what would be a decade-long exercise in filming and documenting his experience of a civil war that tore his country apart.

In his film Demons in Paradise, Ratnam ventured beyond the violence of the conflict, exploring questions surrounding the very idea of Tamil identity.

Al Jazeera spoke to Ratnam about the legacy of the Sri Lankan civil war and the possibility of true reconciliation. 

Al Jazeera: Why did you choose to make a film about Sri Lanka's civil war?

Jude Ratnam: I definitely didn't know how I was going to tell the story, but the impulse to make a documentary about the conflict came to me when the "activist" in me grew disillusioned.

Before I got into film making, I was an NGO worker. But at the NGO, I felt a growing sense of uneasiness - being awarded a big pay, driving a four-wheel and preaching reconciliation to people.

You look around the world today and it appears that identity politics permeates our day-to-day reality. It was in the name of identity politics that I saw all this brutality towards my own, Tamil identity. I wanted to look beyond the conflict to examine the perceived and experienced nature of our persecuted identity.

In that sense, Demons of Paradise asks questions that are rooted in existentialism. It prompts you to think about the human condition, especially when it comes to perpetrating and enduring acts of violence.

Al Jazeera: The civil war resulted in the deaths and displacement of thousands of people. Was there any reluctance in people to talk about this painful period?

Ratnam: Of course there was this fear of the government at that time we were making the film. During the Rajapaksa regime [2009-2015] a kind of national amnesia was encouraged and nobody really wanted to talk about the past. And especially for a Tamil to talk about the past was completely taboo, so there was this general sense of fear across the country.

To the authorities, we had to keep lying about the nature of the film we were making. We said we were filming a love story set around the railways. When we met the characters we told them what we were really up to and fortunately, they were courageous enough to talk about the past.

I think I was just there with the idea of the film and a rolling camera - at the right time.

Al Jazeera: Why was it important to tell this story from a Tamil perspective?

Ratnam: In a 30-year war, it's very difficult to look at just one side as being the victims and the other side as the perpetrators, because the lines are always blurred in a long-drawn-out war, or in any war, for that matter.

When those lines are blurred, you don't want to face up to the truth of what happened, and if you don't face up to the truth then you risk transmitting a distorted view of reality to the next generation. When my son was born, I felt an overwhelming need to understand, capture and address what I felt were the truths of the war.

It was important to tell the story from a Tamil perspective because the film brings into question the very idea of a Tamil identity. Fundamentally, it also brings forth the question of what it means to be human. It asks, how do we choose to deal with all the representations of identity, of nation, of community, of family?

Al Jazeera: How would you describe the political climate in Sri Lanka today? Is there still a sense of division?

Ratnam: Yes, pretty much. While there has been a change of government after the end of the civil war, the fundamentals of the ruling class' political ideology - to divide and rule - remain unchanged. There is an absence of political will to look back and at the past with a view to facilitate reconciliation between people. It's just not a priority.

The government just wants to put people on the bandwagon of progress and development, which is frankly little more than a rat race. When the past emerges, both sides - whether they be the state or the Tamil ideologues - seem more inclined to add fuel to the fire in an attempt to flare up more and more hatred towards each other. So the ruling conditions have not changed at all.

What disappoints me most is the lack of political will by the government, even though they came into power by saying they would be looking into the past. In fact, "reconciliation" was one of their key buzzwords, which they used for their election campaign - alas, it has all been forgotten.

Demons in Paradise -civil-war-tamil-lens-180131121436527.html

The Reality of a Socialist Communist State

The Reality of a Socialist Communist State

Mass exodus from 'Mad Max violence' in Venezuela: Thousands flee across bridge to Colombia amid desperate hunger and soaring crime following economic crisis

Thousands of desperate Venezuelans are trying to enter Colombia in a bid to escape the hunger and soaring crime rate caused by the spiralling economic crisis.

Incredible pictures show the mass exodus of refugees crossing the Simon Bolivar international bridge trying to flee the political crisis threatening to engulf Venezuela.
These incredible images show the thousands of desperate Venezuelans trying to flee the crisis-hit country by pouring into neighbouring Colombia
Colombia - along with its neighbour Brazil - has sent extra soldiers to patrol their porous border with the country after officially taking in more than half a million migrants over the last six months of 2017.
Refugees trying to flee hunger, inflation and the political crisis threatening to engulf the country. Many people are struggling to feed their families
The country is also tightening its border controls in a bid to stem the flow.
In reaction to the crisis, Colombian lawmakers have begun to take steps to tighten their border controls. The new measures could make it more difficult for Venezuelan migrants to cross into the country illegally

The dire economic conditions have led to lawlessness in parts of Venezuela's capital Caracas, with truck drivers subjected to 'Mad Max' violence as looters target heavy goods vehicles carrying food.

These incredible images show the thousands of desperate Venezuelans trying to flee the crisis-hit country by pouring into neighbouring Colombia

Refugees trying to flee hunger, inflation and the political crisis threatening to engulf the country. Many people are struggling to feed their families

In reaction to the crisis, Colombian lawmakers have begun to take steps to tighten their border controls. The new measures could make it more difficult for Venezuelan migrants to cross into the country illegally

A new migration patrol unit will police public spaces where Venezuelan arrivals congregate, provide them orientation and to control issues like prostitution that have surfaced in the migration wave's wake

According to Reuters, there were 162 lootings across Venezuela in January, including 42 robberies of trucks.
Colombia migration authorities say there are an estimated 600,000 Venezuelans currently in Colombia - double the number six months ago
That is compared to just eight lootings, including one truck robbery, 12 months ago. 

Last month, eight people were killed in lootings. 

Venezuela has one of the world's highest murder rates and the attacks are pushing up food and transport costs. 

The truckers are not allowed to carry guns so have resorted to forming convoys to protect themselves. They text each other warnings about potential trouble spots and keep moving as fast as possible. 

Massive numbers of Venezuelans have been driven from their homes by a dire financial crisis that has seen many struggling to feed themselves. 
More than 2,000 additional military officers will be deployed to control the hundreds of dirt-road crossings known as 'trochas' that dot Colombia's 1,370-mile (2,200-kilometer) border with Venezuela

But the mass migration arrives at a challenging time for Colombia and lawmakers have moved to tighten border controls. 

In a visit to a border city at the epicenter of Colombia's mounting migration crisis, President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday announced new measures that could make it more difficult for Venezuelan migrants to cross into the country illegally or remain there without any official status.

'Colombia has never lived a situation like the one we are encountering today,' Santos said.

Migration into Colombia has surged as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has moved to consolidate his rule and the nation's economy plummets. 

Colombia migration authorities say there are an estimated 600,000 Venezuelans currently in Colombia - double the number six months ago. 

A new migration patrol unit will police public spaces where Venezuelan arrivals congregate, provide them orientation and to control issues like prostitution that have surfaced in the migration wave's wake

Colombia is attempting to deal with the mass migration at an uncertain period of its history. It is only now beginning to crawl out of a five-decade-long armed conflict with leftist rebels

Venezuela exile associations and some border city officials have said they believe that number is higher.

The unprecedented migration wave is putting strains on Colombia at a delicate time in its history. 

The nation is crawling out of a five-decade-long armed conflict following the signing of a peace deal with leftist rebels in 2016. Many of the Venezuelans are arriving illegally and in need of medical attention.

'This is a tragedy,' Santos said. 'And I want to reiterate to President Maduro: This is the result of your policies.'

More than 2,000 additional military officers will be deployed to control the hundreds of dirt-road crossings known as 'trochas' that dot Colombia's 1,370-mile (2,200-kilometer) border with Venezuela.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

385,000-year-old sophisticated stone tools near Chennai rewrites the history of technology in India

385,000-year-old sophisticated stone tools near Chennai rewrites the history of technology in India

Indian scientists are challenging the popular scientific theory that the Middle Palaeolithic was brought to India by modern humans dispersing from Africa only around 125,000 years ago or later.
The excavation site in Tamil Nadu. Sharma Centre for Heritage Education
With the newly discovered Stone Age tools in a village near Chennai, Tamilnadu, new evidence suggests that a Middle Palaeolithic culture was present in India around 385,000 years ago — roughly the same time that it is known to have developed in Africa and in Europe. 

Middle Palaeolithic period is considered an important cultural phase associated with modern humans and Neanderthals as well as other archaic hominins. Stone tools of this period are used by scientists as proxy for studies of early human behaviour.

The prehistoric stone tools excavated from Attirampakkam village about 60 kilometers from Chennai push back the period when populations with a Middle Palaeolithic culture may have inhabited India. The new study appeared in international scientific journal Nature on Wednesday.

“Our study presents a paradigm shift in thinking about the origin and spread of Middle Palaeolithic cultures in South Asia, suggesting a far greater antiquity and more complex story than we thought,” professor Shanti Pappu of Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, who led the research team, told India Science Wire.

In the absence of direct evidence in the form of fossils, the evolution of humans in Eurasia is often charted by changes in toolkits. Researchers studied over 7000 stone artefacts from Middle Palaeolithic layers at Attirampakkam. These tools collectively show a shift away from Acheulian technologies towards Middle Palaeolithic strategies such as the distinctive stone-knapping known as Levallois technique, presence of points, tanged points and blade technologies. Specific luminescence dating method was used to date tool-bearing sediments.

“Without fossils we cannot pinpoint the species, but we can suggest that multiple hominin dispersals associated with Middle Palaeolithic culture were occurring far earlier than around 125 thousand years ago with complex patterns, processes and interactions between species,” professor Pappu added. The presence of full-fledged Middle Palaeolithic culture in India long before any modern human migrations out of Africa brought these technologies implies that either such migrations may have occurred earlier than previously thought and may have played a role in development of the Middle Palaeolithic culture in India.
The stone tools found by Indian scientists. Sharma Centre for Heritage Education

Understanding the transition to the Middle Palaeolithic outside Europe and Africa is vital to the study of the lives and times of hominins in Eurasia, especially the appearance and subsequent migrations of anatomically modern humans within and out of Africa.

The archaeological site at Attirampakkam was discovered in 1863 by R. B. Foote and subsequently investigated by several scholars in the 1930s and 1960s. Professor Pappu and Dr Kumar Akhilesh from the Sharma Centre have been excavating at this place since 1999. The present work was conducted in collaboration Prof Yanni Gunnell from the University of Lyon, France; Prof Ashok K. Singhvi, Haresh M. Rajapara and Dr. Anil D. Shukla from the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.

“What this site has taught us is to expect the unexpected, and it is a deeply humbling experience when preconceived ideas crumble around us. When we got the dates, we immediately realised the implications were mind-blowing. Dr. Akhilesh and I went back to the table to cross check our data again and again and to re-examine the stone artefact assemblages to be sure of our interpretation,” recalled professor Pappu.

Archaeologists analyzed more than 7,200 stone tools and found that this sophisticated tool-making technique, called Levallois, began replacing clunkier and more primitive stone tools between 449,000 and 321,000 years ago. This discovery is the earliest evidence of Levallois technology in India, according to a study published today in the journal Nature. It also pushes back the technological timeline there roughly 250,000 years.


Ancient human relatives — collectively known as hominins — started making heavy stone tools at least 1.75 million years ago. But roughly 300,000 to 400,000 years ago, hominins in Africa and Europe went through a technological revolution and began chipping blades and points off of portable stone cores. These Levallois tools were much easier to produce in large quantities, and they could be attached to sticks to make spears. Previous digs suggested that this more advanced technology didn’t catch on in India until much later, after around 140,000 years ago. So one theory said that modern humans brought their tool-making know-how with them to India when they first started leaving Africa around 125,000 years ago (give or take a few thousand years).

“These data show that was wrong,” says John Hawks, an anthropology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who was not involved in the study. Today’s findings reveal that Levallois tools emerged in India roughly 385,000 years ago — right around the same time they started showing up in Africa and Europe. 

That means “India is part of this network of cultural innovation that included Neanderthals and Africans,” Hawks says. Michael Petraglia, a professor of human evolution at the Max Planck Institute in Germany who also did not participate in the research, agrees that the discovery is a key piece of the puzzle. “It fills an important gap in our knowledge of an important crossroads,” he says.

While the new timeline means the old story about technology isn’t as convincing, it’s not clear what replaces it. One possibility is that there were earlier hominin migrations out of Africa that brought the technology with them. But it’s also possible that the discovery emerged simultaneously in Africa, Europe, and Asia, as hominins riffed on their standard stone tool-making strategies.

That’s Petraglia’s favorite explanation. “My view is that this doesn’t have anything to do really with an Out of Africa event,” he says. But he adds that it’s hard to say more until archaeologists uncover more clues. Today’s findings add to an emerging picture: ancient humans were a lot more like us than we assumed. “We carry our ideas with us, and trade ideas and exchange genes,” Hawks says. “They did that, too, even though the technology was much more basic than we use today.”

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Harvard Tamil Chair is a Scam

Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai Explains Why the Harvard Tamil Chair is a Scam

U.S. Senate Candidate, inventor of e-mail and tech guru Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai has exposed Harvard University’s attempt to pilfer trillions of dollars’ worth of indigenous artifacts through the sale of a “Harvard Tamil Chair” professorship.
Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai

Harvard sought to collect $6 Million from the Tamil Diaspora worldwide, who had no idea of Harvard’s business model of selling professorships to fund its $35 Billion hedge fund investments.

Tamil is the oldest surviving language with the richest body of poetry, art, and literature known to humankind, along with hundreds of thousands of sacred artifacts codified in palm leaf manuscripts embodying the scientific, technological and medical knowledge spanning at least 5,000 years of the Tamilians, the indigenous people of the Indian subcontinent, who today primarily reside in Tamil Nadu in India.

According to Dr. Ayyadurai, “The fundraising effort in the name of setting up a Tamil Chair is a ruse that exemplifies Harvard’s habitual exploitation of indigenous people. This is an egregious example akin to a burglar asking you to pay money to buy a rickety ladder to rob your own home. Harvard is asking Tamilians to pay $6 million for a professorship that will be used to rob their own historic artifacts worth trillions of dollars representing the ‘Holy Grail’ of the world’s most highly-prized indigenous knowledge.”

Harvard will then proceed to use access to those artifacts to rewrite and hegemonies Tamil history, an unfortunate and recurrent process that Harvard has done for far too long to many indigenous cultures.

Harvard’s financial statements reveal that the university is fundamentally a tax-exempt Wall Street hedge fund with cash and investments of nearly $35 Billion. In 2016 alone, Harvard’s capital marketing campaign raised $7 Billion, with its hedge fund in 2017 yielding $2 billion in gross profits. 

The operating budget further reveals that professors and administrators effectively serve as business development staff to attract wealthy donors to fund Chairs and professorships that finance their lucrative hedge fund. In 2017, as the Boston Globe reported, Harvard’s seven top hedge fund managers earned a total of nearly $58 million in compensation.

The reason behind the appointment of Naushard Cader, President - The Harvard University Alumni Financial Markets Forum as Special Coordinator with unlimited power has come to light now.

Ayyadurai said, “As these numbers indicate, Harvard is a hedge fund masquerading as a University, which perpetuates this facade by reinvesting large portions of its hedge fund proceeds to unleash propaganda that it is a ‘world-renowned’ institution of higher learning and scholarliness dedicated to advancing humankind. This branding attracts financing from well-meaning folks, compelled to ‘join the club’ so their children get preferential treatment when applying to Harvard and access to Harvard’s insider network. This dynamic is rarely discussed in the mainstream media.”

Nearly one-third of the students admitted to Harvard are beneficiaries of a well-documented legacy and preferential admission system that is not merit-based but on “who you know” or who donated money.

Dr. Ayyadurai’s leadership in opposing the “Harvard Tamil Chair” has led to significant discussions on social media. Questions are being raised about why Harvard exists. Does Harvard exist as a center of research and learning? Or, does Harvard exist to enrich itself through its hedge fund activities? 

Given the historic value of Tamil, why didn’t Harvard fund Tamil studies with its own $6 million, particularly given that the amount would be a paltry sum (which would be less than one-tenth of one-percent of the $7 billion Harvard raised from its recent 2016 capital campaign)?

Dr. Vijay Janakiraman, the co-founder of the Harvard Tamil Chair effort to raise the $6 million, claimed he was unaware of Harvard’s business practices until his recent phone conversation with Dr. Ayyadurai, who shared with him that Harvard is not only a hedge fund but also an institution that thrives on racism, corruption and exploitation of indigenous people. Dr. Janakiraman admitted he had naively believed that by donating money to Harvard, he was helping in the preservation and dissemination of the Tamil language.

Harvard has a track record of destroying indigenous peoples’ heritage and culture by seizing control of their property, intellectual and otherwise. In 2011, an exposé revealed that Harvard used its hedge fund cash to take over land in Africa leading to forcible displacement of indigenous farmers. The Harvard Tamil Chair would have offered a gateway for Harvard to exercise control over the rare and ancient palm leaf manuscripts — the intellectual property of the indigenous people of Tamil Nadu.

Harvard’s abusive treatment of Dr. Subramanian Swamy further exemplifies how they treat an indigenous Tamil scholar, who was dismissed for challenging Harvard’s party line. In contrast, Harvard uses its hedge fund profits to hire and retain Elizabeth Warren, who has never challenged Harvard’s exploitative practices. In fact, it paid her an exorbitant sum of $350,000 per year for teaching just one course.

The Harvard Office of the President was complicit with Warren, who shoplifted Native American identity in order to not just advance her career but also to benefit Harvard from Federal grants by misleading the government that they had a Native American on their staff. Warren went on to increase her net worth to over $10 million while the average net worth of African-Americans, segregated in Warren’s and Harvard’s own backyard in Cambridge and Boston, spiraled downward, as reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, to a meager and unbelievable $8 million.

Dr. Ayyadurai’s timely involvement, fortunately, has been a relief to Tamilians worldwide, who are pleased that Dr. Janakiraman, after listening to Dr. Ayyadurai, decided to stop funding Harvard. Dr. Janakiraman told Dr. Ayyadurai, “You are the expert. Tell me what to do and provide me guidance.”

Dr. Ayyadurai’s plan involves galvanizing the Tamil population globally to build the first online Tamil University at, a media property Dr. Ayyadurai has owned since 1993 and will donate to the cause. The finest Tamil software engineers worldwide are volunteering to build a 21st century digital platform that will deliver the Tamil language to all who seek to learn it, across various skill levels. This approach will be far different than “Harvard Tamil Chair” that would have provided, at best, a rudimentary pre-kindergarten knowledge in Tamil language.

The online video of Jonathan Ripley of Harvard University purportedly teaching Tamil language is evidence of this. The vocabulary in his lessons is limited to a few words — yes, no, this, that, what, hand, leg, tooth, stone, bag, and milk — which is nothing more than baby-talk. 

The TamilNadu.Com platform will further provide universal access to the ancient manuscripts to advance all humanity, in contrast to enabling Harvard’s predatory practices.

There is also growing evidence that people behind the Harvard effort appear to be Hebrew language chauvinists in academia and their allies who seek to deliberately cover up the preeminence of the Tamil language by ensuring that they control the historical narrative of Tamil and reduce it to some “goo goo ga ga” language. A comparison of the Hebrew script with the Tamil Brahmi script will confirm that Hebrew script is based on the older Brahmi script, an uncomfortable fact for the Hebrew chauvinists who suppress this fact. Dr. Ayyadurai stated -

“Harvard is a predatory institution that leeches of taxpayers and needs to be busted up and returned to the public to serve as a community college, as it was originally intended. Their teaching model is medieval and dead, relying on egomaniacal professors who think they know better than the rest of us. The Department of Justice must investigate the racial and religious composition of Harvard’s faculty to determine if any single group is overrepresented due to its chauvinist hiring practices.

The Pro-LTTE and anti-Brahmin Tamil outfit in the US- Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA) and Tamil Nadu Foundation that raises funds for several projects in Tamil Nadu have been on the forefront collecting millions of dollars in fund raising all over the US as they saw the Harvard project as revival of Dravidian culture in the US.

V. A. Shiva Ayyadurai is an Indian-born American scientist and entrepreneur notable for his claim to be the inventor of email, based on the electronic mail software called "EMAIL" he wrote as a New Jersey high school student in the late 1970s. Ayyadurai also produced two controversial reports: the first questioning the working conditions of India's largest scientific agency; the second questioning the safety of genetically modified soybeans. Ayyadurai holds four degrees from MIT including a Ph.D. in biological engineering, and is a Fullbright grant recipient. He is a candidate in the 2018 US Senate election in Massachusetts.

To raise funds to the tune of S 6 Million, prominent Tamils in the US have formed Tamil Chair Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (Tax-ID 47-5021758) registered in the state of Maryland (USA) that is currently working on fund raising for Harvard Tamil Chair.

The Board consists of - Dr Vijay Janakiraman, Hollidausburg, Pa; Mrs Vaidehi Herbert, Kilauea, Hawaii; Sornam Sankar of Ellicott City, MD; Appadurai Muthulingam, Markham, Canada; Siva Illanko, Stouffville, Canada, Dr Sundaresan Sambandam, Cranston, RI; Paul Pandian, Dallas, TX; Kumar Kumarappan, Freemont,CA; Dr. Arumugam Murukiah, Chennai and Dr Varadarajan Raghuraman, North York, Canada. Mrs. Suja Chandrasekaran, Chief Information Officer at Kimberly-Clark and B.Karthikeyan Executive Director at Thriveni Earthmovers Private Limited, Salem, Tamil Nadu and G.Balachandran, a retired I.A.S officer of Tamil Nadu, probably biggest donors were made Members of the Advisory Council – Harvard Tamil Chair.

Over 4791 donors have given $5,310,556.24 of the total estimated collection of S4, 854,995.09. The major donors are: Government of Tamil Nadu $1,537,929.18; Vijay and Malliga Janakiraman $510,000; Sundaresan and Vijayalakshmi Sambandam $507,850; Paul & Geetha Pandian $ 203,685; Arumugam Murukiah ofHumetis Technologies $100,000; Sky Mining Services, LLC $100,000; Mr. V.P. Parama Lingam $75,376.30 and Fetna Tampa event $55,298.86; Bala Swaminathan $52,200; G Balachandran $41,200; Velammal Educational Trust of Madurai $38,473.93; Valluvan Tamil Academy $36,760.; Anbarasu Natchimuthu $25,000; Dr.Kanthilal $25,000; Dr. Sembu & Amutha Kanthilal $25,000;;

Prominent film personalities from Tamil Nadu have opened up their wallets - ; Actor Kamal Haasan $30,501.75, Actor Vishal Krishna $15,114.87; Actor R. Suriya -Akaram Foundation $15,293.63, director Rajanayagam Shanmugraja Mysskin $386.00.

Several Tamil associations and patrons from outside the US have donated and they include Delhi Tamil Sangam $3095, K.A.Manoharan, Tamil Valarchi Mandra Arakattalai, Hosur, Tamil Nadu $1,550; Tamil Nadu Teachers Cooperative Trust – (Asiriyar kootani) $1526. Tamil Arts and Culture Association Inc, Sydney, Australia $1025.29; Mr. Jawahaar Tirupapuliyur $499.

However, none of the top Tamil CEOs or Silicon Valley business leaders including Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico, Tennis ace and Hollywood Producer Vijay Amritraj have donated a penny to set up Harvard Tamil Chair, as they have understood the purpose behind the collection and how the funds will be deployed other than for promoting Tamil. Ranjon Tandon and his wife Chandrika Krishnamurthy Tandon, sister of Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi have donated $100 Million gift to support engineering at NYU.

Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai Explains Why the Harvard Tamil Chair is a Scam

Aadhaar has become dangerous for many!

Aadhaar is going to clean up the system and has become dangerous for many: RS Sharma, TRAI

"Somebody just gets hold of the typical e-Aadhaar facility which in any case is openly available and then claims to have got access to one billion Aadhaars. All these things seem to be done to discredit the system."

BY ET NOW | JAN 16, 2018, 12.26 PM IST view/aadhaar-is-going-to-clean-up-the-system-and-has-become-dangerous-for-many-rs-sharma-trai/articleshow/62520078.cms

In an interview with ET Now, RS Sharma , Chairman, TRAI, says sharing Aadhaar password and username with somebody who can do transactions is not a data breach, it is a breach of trust.

You have gone out of your way to say that there has never been any data breach when comes to Aadhaar. Do you stick with that statement especially after recent controversy? 

How are you so confident about it? We have seen a journalist pay Rs 500 to get access to data? 
No, as I said in my article yesterday, what happens is suppose you have a user name and a password and you give it to somebody. Is that a data breach, is that a weakness of the system? A data breach occurs if the system is weak. Now if I share my password and username with somebody and who can do transactions, then it is not a data breach. It is essentially a breach of trust and that is what I have said.

Aadhaar has two components - one of which is biometric information of the resident. Now that biometric information and there are 12 biometric informations of each resident, 10 fingerprints and both iris. So multiply 12 with 1.2, it becomes about 15 billion biometrics. Not even a single biometric has been leaked in the last seven years that the Aadhaar has been in existence. That is one part. 

Secondly the current example. There have been earlier examples also where some state governments published the list of beneficiaries with their Aadhaar numbers and somebody aggregated them and said 1.3 million Aadhaar numbers have been leaked. But that is not a leak.

What do you think is going on? I know that Mr Nandan Nilekani who is the architect of the UIDAI, has told ET Now in no uncertain terms that this is a campaign against Aadhaar. Do you belong in that camp, that particular view? 

Well I certainly feel that's the way it is being built up and the way it is being played out. It can be an innocuous stuff because say somebody claims to have access to 1.2 billion Aadhaar numbers and as I explained to you that some fellow just sold his credentials and then the other guy had the access to that. This is actually nothing new. In 2012, we created a facility to print and download your e-Aadhaar a digitally signed password protected Aadhaar number and every day 6,00,000 of these e-Aadhaar are being downloaded on an average. In a month, it is 2 crore and in five years or 60 months, it is 120 crore. So 120 crore e-Aadhaar or digitally signed Aadhaars have been downloaded. Even I have downloaded my...

And you can do it multiple times... 
Yes you can do it as many times as you want and you can share it, you can actually send it suppose somebody requires the copy of your Aadhaar letter, you just share this digitally signed copy.

But isn't that a problem? Do you use Aadhaar as identification or for authentication? Should not there be a difference? 
No, no, the point is that a) one is an Aadhaar letter. See I will give you my Aadhaar letter and see what you can do with that. There is nothing secret in Aadhaar number. It is a 12-digit random number and basically it is associated with your person. So suppose there are Naintaras, let us say Naintara one and Naintara two, to distinguish them basically one will have one number and another will have another number. 

And if you have access to my Aadhaar letter, you pretty much cannot do anything against me, what can you do? Conjure up an example where you can cause me any harm, none because in any case I give Aadhaar letter copy to a number of places and everybody as access to that. So what is so secret about that?

What is secret is the biometrics which are embedded with the Aadhaar number... 

Biometrics have two purposes in Aadhaar ecosystem; one is essentially when you enrol for Aadhaar you give your biometrics, they are used to ensure that you are not able to get two Aadhaar numbers, that is one part. So ensuring uniqueness is one of the purposes of biometrics. The purpose later of the biometrics is to authenticate every time. These are the two purposes. The biometrics at the backend are always kept encrypted with the highest encryption standards.

Let me just come back to where you believe that this is an orchestrated campaign against Aadhaar. Why do you think there is a campaign against Aadhaar? Is it to coincide with the constitutional bench hearing the Aadhaar matter or is it because Aadhaar is also being used to flush out black money, to flush out benami properties? 
I really do not want to get into that debate. My sense is that there is an orchestrated campaign and one of the reasons which I can think of is as follows; till Aadhaar was being used by poor people, hoi polloi to just get their rations and get other kind of entitlement, open bank accounts, get telephone SIMs, it was okay. 

Now that Aadhaar is going to clean many systems, for example, you cannot have benami bank accounts now because every bank account has got to be linked to an Aadhaar number. 

Similarly, you cannot, for example, purchase the properties in many states; for every registration deed which takes place there, the people authenticate with their Aadhaar biometrics and that actually has ensured that there are no benami properties or benami registrations taking place otherwise my property can be sold by you a multiple number of times.

It is going to clean up many systems. That is probably one of the reasons why people realise that this is now becoming too difficult or too dangerous for them because they...

Do you think there are big funds and a lot of money which is orchestrating this campaign that you believe exist? 
I should not give statements for which I have no proof. I am not really in possession of any proof of those type of assertions and therefore I will not go that extent. 

But the only sense which I get is that there is certainly an orchestrated campaign because you know some trivial things like somebody publishing the Aadhaar numbers in compliance with the RTI Act, Section 4 of RTI Act mandates that the state governments must publish the list of their beneficiaries in association with Aadhaar number. 

Suppose there are 10 Rams in a village and you publish the list of 10 Rams and who knows which Ram is who and therefore Aadhaar number is published. I don't see anything wrong in that. That is what was being done and suddenly somebody says that a huge Aadhaar breach has taken place. 

Similarly, somebody just gets hold of the typical e-Aadhaar facility which in any case is openly available and then claims that I have got access to one billion Aadhaars. All these things seem to be done to discredit the system.

I do hope you will be candid with this answer. There is a question on that and if you were still at the UIDAI, would you have handled this entire controversy? The alleged data breach, for example. Would lodging the FIR have been your choice? 
No, I will not answer that hypothetical question...

Do not answer that hypothetically but what did you make of the decision of the UIDAI to have lodged an FIR? 
I will not go into...

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Happy Pongal, Makara Sankranthi, Lohri, Uttarayan, Maghi,Bhogali Bihu, Poush Sangkranti

The Vedic Festival still celebrated as Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Makara Sankranthi in Karnataka, Andhra, Telengana and most of India, Uttarayan in Gujarat, Maghi in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, Bhogali Bihu in Assam, Poush Sangkranti in West Bengal. 

It was also celebrated in ancient Rome as Saturnalia. In Rome, Saturnalia was a holiday – people gave gifts; no war could be declared on this day, and masters and slaves swapped their positions. It was also celebrated all over Central Asia, China and in ancient Egypt. 

This is the time when the Sun enters the Makara Rasi (Capricornus) marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days with the onset of spring throughout the northern hemisphere. 

For the next six months, the days are longer and warmer. Sun begins its northward journey, causing a change of season. The Sun’s journey towards north heralds the advent of spring, ushering in new hope, new opportunities. It is called Uttarayana. In Mahabharata, Bhishma Pitamah waited for the sun to be in Uttarayan for him to die peacefully.

The Makar Sankranti festival is also known and referred to as the harvest festival because this is the time when harvesting is complete and there are big celebrations. This is the day we acknowledge all those who assisted in making the harvest including farm animals. 

Sankranti literally means “movement.” Our life is sustained and nourished by the movement of the planets around the sun. If this movement ceases, we cease to be. But to be conscious of this movement itself, in its entirety, we need to have a certain stillness within. The infinite stillness which sustains everything, the infinite emptiness that is SHIVA. 

By expressing our gratitude towards all that sustains life and by aligning ourselves to that which facilitates life itself, we progress to become one with the infinite source. These festivals are a dedication and a reminder to make this happen.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

US freezes more than $1.15 billion security assistance to Pakistan places Pakistan on Special Watch List

"We will not be delivering military equipment or transfer security-related funds to Pakistan," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Thursday. The freeze will be enforced "until the Pakistani Government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network", she said. Nauert said that Pakistan's failure to take action against Lakshar-e-Taiba leader Hafeez Saeed was not a factor in the action.

1. The US has suspended more than $1.15 billion security assistance to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of harbouring terror groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network within its border and showing unwillingness to take "decisive actions" against them.The freezing of all security assistance to Pakistan comes days after President Donald Trump in a new year tweet accused Pakistan of giving nothing to the US but "lies and deceit"+ and providing "safe haven" to terrorists in return for $33 billion aid over the last 15 years.

2.Prominent among the suspended amount include $255 million in Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for the fiscal year 2016 as mandated by the Congress. In addition, the Department of Defense has suspended the entire $900 million of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) money to Pakistan for the fiscal year 2017.

3. In another action against Islamabad, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson placed Pakistan on a "special watch list for severe violations of religious freedom".

4. According to the New York Times, "the move underlines how swiftly relations with Pakistan have deteriorated since Mr. Trump took office. But it echoes several previous rifts between the countries over Pakistan’s role as a sanctuary for extremist groups — a role that has poisoned Islamabad’s relations with Washington since the terrorist attacks of September 2001.Administration officials emphasized that the freeze was temporary and could be lifted if Pakistan changed its behavior. The United States is urging the Pakistani government to cut off contact with militants and reassign intelligence agents with links to extremists, among other measures."

5.The US depends on Pakistan for ferrying supplies to its troops in landlocked Afghanistan. Asked at a separate news conference on Thursday if he was concerned that Islamabad might shut down access routes to US troops in Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said: "We have had no indication of anything like that."

6. Pakistan had been given adequate notice to shut down the terrorist networks.Trump's speech in August i had warned Pakistan against giving sanctuary to terrorists. In his first tweet of the New Year, Trump said that the US had given Pakistan $33 billion in aid over 15 years and accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists while making "fools" of US leaders with lies and deceit. "No more," he said, of Washington's aid to Pakistan.

7.Hours before the tweet, a US Special Forces soldier had been killed in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan, and four were injured in a terrorist attack.

8.According to the Express Tribune, Pakistan has dragged India into its war of words with the US. Pakistan's foreign minister Khawaja Asif said the US is "trumpeting India's lies and deceit", that the two countries have a "nexus" and that the US "is speaking the language of Indians". "The United States and India have a nexus, they understand their interests are same in the region," said Asif, in an interview with Geo TV yesterday.

9. This decision reflects the President’s conclusion that Pakistan has not taken the necessary decisive action, as requested by the United States and as promised by Pakistan’s leaders, against terrorist and militant groups in the region,” said the talking points memo. “Terrorists who threaten US interests and personnel continue to enjoy safe haven and support in Pakistan. The United States has not seen tangible evidence that Pakistan is evicting or lawfully detaining Taliban and Haqqani Network leaders and operatives on its soil,"it said. 

10. Heather Nauert, the US department’s spokeswoman, said the administration was still working out the precise dollar amounts that would be frozen. Though the move was months in the planning, officials said the announcement was rushed by a few days to catch up to Trump’s Twitter post on Monday, which drew a toxic reaction from Pakistan.