Thursday, November 30, 2006

We can no longer count on endless economic growth

The End of Ingenuity The New York Times Published: November 29, 2006
Humankind’s energy and climate problems are intimately connected. Petroleum’s falling energy return on investment will encourage many economies to burn more coal (which in many parts of the world still has a relatively good E.R.O.I.), but coal emits far more greenhouse-inducing carbon dioxide for every unit of useful energy obtained than other energy sources. Also, many potential solutions to climate change — like moving water to newly arid regions or building dikes and relocating communities along vulnerable coastlines — will require huge amounts of energy.
Without a doubt, mankind can find ways to push back these constraints on global growth with market-driven innovation on energy supply, efficient use of energy and pollution cleanup. But we probably can’t push them back indefinitely, because our species’ capacity to innovate, and to deliver the fruits of that innovation when and where they’re needed, isn’t infinite.
Sometimes even the best scientific minds can’t crack a technical problem quickly (take, for instance, the painfully slow evolution of battery technology in recent decades), sometimes market prices give entrepreneurs poor price signals (gasoline today is still far too cheap to encourage quick innovation in fuel-efficient vehicles) and, most important, sometimes there just isn’t the political will to back the institutional and technological changes needed.
We can see glaring examples of such failures of innovation even in the United States — home to the world’s most dynamic economy. Despite decades of increasingly dire warnings about the risks of dependence on foreign energy, the country now imports two-thirds of its oil; and during the last 20 years, despite increasingly clear scientific evidence regarding the dangers of climate change, the country’s output of carbon dioxide has increased by a fifth.
As the price of energy rises and as the planet gets hotter, we need significantly higher investment in innovation throughout society, from governments and corporations to universities. Perhaps the most urgent step, if humankind is going to return to coal as its major energy source, is to figure out ways of safely disposing of coal’s harmful carbon dioxide — probably underground.
But in the larger sense, we really need to start thinking hard about how our societies — especially those that are already very rich — can maintain their social and political stability, and satisfy the aspirations of their citizens, when we can no longer count on endless economic growth.
Thomas Homer-Dixon, director of the Trudeau Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto, is the author of “The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization.” More Articles in Opinion » Related Articles
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Monday, November 20, 2006

Globalisation needs a global mindset

Infocus: India Infoline News Service / Mumbai Nov 18, 2006 12:01 Industry leaders say the biggest challenge is to change internal mindsets to think and compete globally, and create an environment of innovation
The key challenges facing Indian companies as they morph into global corporations are innovation, efficiency and recognizing and responding to challenges in radically different markets and geographies in a holistic manner, according to the leaders of the Indian industry. Participating in a panel discussion on 'Globalising Indian business - the challenges,' at the fourth Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Friday, the head honchos of Indian companies that have emerged as global players concluded that the biggest challenge was to change internal mindsets to think and compete globally, and create an environment of innovation.
Kicking off the discussion, Baba Kalyani, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Forge, outlined the lessons he had learnt while transforming an 'old economy', low-technology component company into a capital and technology-intensive multinational. "The challenge was to go from a local component manufacturer to a global product manufacturer" and set new global benchmarks through constant research and development, Kalyani said.
Anand Mahindra, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Mahindra & Mahindra, discussed the 'fungibility' of the global marketplace. Any decision taken in any market will have to reflect global strategy, he stressed. Responding to a query from session moderator Raju Narisetti, Editor, HT Business Paper, Mahindra said that the index for benchmarking the globalization of a company was to measure the 'globalness' of one's response to a new challenge.
Tulsi Tanti, Chairman and Managing Director, Suzlon, outlined a unique route to globalization. The wind energy major had no option but to go global from the start, as the main market for its products lay overseas. Today, the Pune-based Suzlon's global marketing headquarters are in Denmark, the world's alternative energy capital. While Indian technology skills and cost advantages are leveraged in the research area, the marketing arm functions completely independently, under a supervisory board.
Vijay Mallya, Chairman, UB Group, also stressed the need for letting go of controls on professional managers. "Indian managers need to be given the chance and the confidence to perform," Mallya said. "Indian managers are as good as the best in the world," adding, "you need to give them the freedom to operate while maintaining strict accountability for delivery." Agreed Mahindra, "You cannot run a global company as a mom and pop shop."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Democracy and St. Derrida

Edward Berge Says: November 15th, 2006 at 7:58 pm From Caputo’s referenced article above: “Without sovereignty, without being: unconditionality, the coming God and Derrida’s democracy to come”:
Derrida’s is a faith without religion or religious institutions, without theocracy and without a church, a faith in the unconditional and the incalculable. But this faith is also what Derrida means by reason (V, 211). Reason is a movement back and forth between the incalculable and the calculable, calculating always in the face of the incalculability, keeping calculability open to the incalculable. While the irrational for Kant lay in allowing reason to be overcome by something other, reason for Derrida is precisely defined by its openness to the other, to the event, to the future, its desire for the incalculable and the unconditional, for the promise. Reason is not measured by consensus, as for Habermas, which would always present a certain closure and compromise, but by the promise, which is open ended.
Anything as fetching and as haunting as this “democracy to come” would also be what Derrida calls “undeconstructible,” and it would relate to existing and highly deconstructible democracies just the way justice, which is unconditional, is related to the force of law, where laws are always positive and conditional. The democracy to come, s’il y en a, is not deconstructible, while existing democratic polities and juridical systems, which enjoy the prestige of being and the power of the possible, are deconstructible. The democracy to come, accordingly, is impossible, the impossible (PTT, 134), which solicits us from afar, demanding the impossible of us, as the object of a desire beyond desire for something unforeseeable to come. That alone should be enough to tell us that “deconstruction” is the least bad word for a profoundly affirmative undertaking to unearth the most deeply buried and unfulfilled promises lodged in our least bad words—words like “justice” and “democracy,” the “gift” and “forgiveness,” “friendship” and “hospitality.”
What does the democracy to come call for? If the call comes from the heart of a promise lodged deep within the word democracy, and if it calls to us democrats who are not yet democrats, what does it say? Like any call of conscience worthy of the name, in Heidegger or Levinas, say, it pronounces us guilty, guilty of being the basis of a nullity, of not yet being democrats, infinitely responsible to respond to the call to be or become democratic, asking us to put off the old way and to turn around.
…democracy today is suffering from an auto-immune disease….Democracy today is a victim of the “strange illogical logic” by which a living thing destroys the very thing that is meant to fortify (munis) it against attack by a foreign body (V, 173)….. So democracies often think that if, as a practical matter, they are to survive, they must make themselves safe from democracy and learn how to tolerate anti-democratic forces within their own bodies. Thus, in order to make the American way of life safe against the threat of terrorists who threaten democracy, Attorney General John Ashcroft wants to abridge the democratic rights of American citizens (V, 64-65), or the rights of prisoners being held inGuantanamo Bay, even as the Rehnquist court has seen fit to profoundly abridge the civil liberties of Americans to keep the streets of democracy safe….An absolute democracy could bring a democratic end to democracy; that risk is built right into democracy….The art of governing democratically is to know when democracy should suppress its own immunities to the undemocratic and attack itself (autos)—in the interests of democracy, of course.
To have faith in democracy is to trust and have faith in the many, to give up the rule of the sovereign one or few and share it among the many, among the “people,” come what may….So if we were true to this idea of democracy, we would end up with another and more radical idea of auto-immunity, one that is not simply self-destructive but rather breaks down the “ipseity” of the “self,” its mastery and autonomy (V, 71), in order to open the self to sharing with “the other.” That in turn would require a revolutionary turn, in which we would reverse the model that democracy follows from one of autonomy to one of “heteronomy” (V, 154), where the one would agree to be governed by the many, the self by the others, those among whom one is too. The symbiotic effect of undoing the idea of political sovereignty would be to have redescribed the autonomous self in terms of the other in the self, as a self that is not identical with itself, a self that is always already divided within itself, inhabited by the other, a complex of many selves….Auto-immunity then will mean the right to criticize oneself (V, 126).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Future friendly infrastructure

"Ecology and Auroville’s Development Planning," by Rod Hemsell by rjon on Tue 14 Nov 2006 03:05 PM PST Permanent Link
Two extremely significant reports published in the past two years must be considered essential to Auroville’s planning: Limits to Growth – The 30 Year Update (2004) and “Living Planet Report 2006” [LPR]. The latter, published by WWF and the Global Footprint Network came out just last month and is available online at the Global Footprint Network website. The former, written by Dennis Meadows (husband of Suzanne MacDonald, founder of Merriam Hill Center and Geocommons programs in Auroville) and others, is the excellent follow up to the 1972 Limits to Growth, and the 1992 Beyond the Limits to Growth. These studies are based on the best data, collected and refined over many years and submitted to the highest current level of technological analysis and thoughtful interpretation.
A couple of striking conclusions: “Moderate United Nations Projections suggest that humanity’s ecological footprint will grow to double the earth’s capacity within five decades. The lifespan of infrastructure put in place today to a large extent determines resource consumption for decades to come and can lock humanity into this risky scenario (LPR 2006).”
And from Limits to Gowth – The 30 Year Update: “The set of possible futures includes a great variety of paths. There may be abrupt collapse; it is also possible there may be a smooth transition to sustainability. But the possible futures do not include indefinite growth in physical throughput. The only real choices are to bring the throughputs that support human activities down to sustainable levels through human choice, human technology and human organization, or to let nature force the decision through lack of food, energy, or materials, or through an increasingly unhealthy environment (p.13).”
I have gathered from the LPR data that India’s current level of consumption (ecological footprint) is .8 gha (global hectares per capita) - already double India’s biocapacity of .4 gha, although it is significantly below humanity’s consumption level of 2.2 gha, which is 25% above the planet’s biocapacity of 1.18 gha. At India’s current level of exponential economic growth (7.5%) and population growth (1.7%), its economy will quadruple and its population will double by 2050.
If Auroville doesn’t take this situation seriously and manifest a viable alternative infrastructure and economy that works, its real reason for existing, along with humanity’s as a whole, may never be realized. “The assets we create can be future friendly or not. Transport and infrastructure become traps if they can only operate on a large footprint. In contrast, future friendly infrastructure – cities designed as resource efficient with carbon neutral building and pedestrian and public oriented transport systems – can support a high quality of life with a small footprint (LPR).”- end - Posted to: Main Page PROMISE & PERIL .. Perilous SUSTAINABILITY DEVELOPMENT .. India AUROVILLE .. Ideas for AV Next: Forests begin to revive as global devastation of trees is reversed recommendations

by David Harvey
by Richard Peet
by Phil J Hubbard

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Entrepreneurs are active participants, human virtues at the core

It is apparent that there is the likelihood that the economic system, built on one vain imagining after another, will come tumbling down. We may be able to prevent this, or at least, we can now provide a sure and solid foundation for the economy of the future. The divine microeconomy theory is a study of the core, in a manner of speaking, of what is at the heart of the economy. It turns out that it is the human virtues, the attributes of God, which serve as the wellspring of the economy. These are what we value and they are reflected in some degree in everything that we do. All of us participate in the economy either latently or actively. Entrepreneurs are active participants and the ripple effect of their involvement reaches everyone. In truth it is the economy that provides the practical arena for us to discover and polish the gems of our inherent capacity.

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The final fulfilment of the Vedantic ideal in politics

Constructing nation as family: Gandhi, Ambedkar, and postnationality Socialist Review, 1999 by Dayal, Samir
The appeal to the past is not, of course, new. H.F. Owen notes that the Nationalist Movement in India may be divided into three periods:
(1) the 1870s-1890s, the period of Moderate pre-eminence, essentially British in its intellectual provenance;
(2) the 1890s-1914: the struggle between the Moderates (like Ram Mohun Roy, Ranade, and Gokhale) and the Extremists; and
(3) 1914-1947: the period of "agitational politics and Gandhi's leadership."
Even before the First World War, as Owen points out, the Extremists were reasserting a pie-British Hindu Indian past. (See H.F. Owen, "The Nationalist Movement," in A Cultural of India, ed. A.L. Basham [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975], p. 391). He cites for instance Aurobindo's idea of self-government of India as "'the fulfilment of the ancient life of India under modem conditions' and 'the final fulfilment of the Vedantic ideal in politics' " (cited in Owen, p. 392).
Owen usefully reminds us that in this appeal to the past the Extremists were "the political counterpart to the Hindu revivalist movements of the last third of the nineteenth century, represented by such organizations as the Sanatana Dharma Mahamandal, the Arya Samaj, the Theosophical Society, and the Ramakrishna Mission." Particularly important is his observation that both Hindu revivalism and Extremist nationalism were hybrids, springing from Western and indigenous sources.
Their indigenous sources were obvious enough-the conscious turning back to the Vedas, the Gita, and Vedanta; the defence of Hindu ideas and worship against the criticism of missionaries and liberals; the movements to reclaim Hindu converts to Islam and Christianity initiated in the 1890s; the public festivals in honour of the Hindu god, Ganesh, and the Hindu hero-king, Sivaji; and the invocation of the Mother Goddess as an embodiment of both Bengal and India, to be cherished and restored, and as witness to the oaths of patriotic conspiracy (P. 392). However, recent scholarship has challenged Owen's notion that this appeal to the past was merely imitative of Western models.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Human beings cannot help being religious

Radical secularists are rarely neutral about God -- in fact, they are obviously burning with passion about spiritual matters. Secular leftism merely replaces one God with another, but in so doing, destroys man. Human beings cannot help being religious. One of the benefits of religion --properly understood -- is that it prevents the mind from regressing into the magical worldview that preceded its development. Sophisticated secularists believe they are making progress by leaving the “superstitions” of religion behind, but this is rarely the case. As Chesterson said, instead of believing “nothing,” they tend to believe in “anything,” which is where the pseudo-religion of contemporary liberalism -- that is, leftism -- rushes in to fill the void. posted by Gagdad Bob at 11/06/2006 08:15:00 AM 26 comments links to this post One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin

Monday, November 06, 2006

A sacred and eternal journey

Swamy's wake-up call to Hindus - II
The tide of Hindutva was inaugurated by Raj Narain Bose (maternal grand father of Aurobindo Ghosh) and Nav Gopal Mitra in undivided Bengal in the 19th century. Two strong currents of thoughts, ideals, and aspirations met together and strove for supremacy in Bengal in those days. One was a current of Hindu Nationalism - of the revived life, culture and ideals of the nation that had lain dormant for centuries and had been discarded as 'lower and primitive' by the first batch of English-educated Hindus, especially in Bengal. The other was the current of Indo-Anglicism - the onrushing life, culture and ideals of the foreign rulers of the land, which, expressing themselves through British law and administration on the one side, and the new schools and universities on the other, threatened to swamp and drown the original culture and character of the people going back to the dawn of history.
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee offered the next milestone for those marching on the road of Hindutva by the publication of his novel Anand Mutt in 1882. Swami Vivekananda awakened the Indians and the Western world to the glorious wisdom of Hindutva. Swami Dayananda Saraswathi, founder of Arya Samaj, made us aware of our glorious Vedic heritage. Aurobindo Ghosh was another sage whose thinking enriched the philosophy of Hindutva. In 1909 he wrote: 'An Indian Nationalism, largely Hindu in its spirit and traditions, because the Hindu made the land and the people and persists, by the greatness of his past, his civilization and his culture, and his invincible virility. The 'Nation Idea' India never had.
By this I mean the political idea of the Nation. It is a modern growth. But we had in India the cultural and spiritual idea of the Nation'. This is the quintessence of Hindutva. Bal Gangadar Tilak, Vir Savarkar, Dr Hegdewar, Guruji Golwalkar have all built up this great edifice of Hindutva. Hindutva is not a word but a history. Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction or a part of Hindutva or Hinduness!! Dr Subramanian Swamy's new book clearly proves that our struggle for establishing a Hindu Nation based on Hindutva is a continuing movement, and not a condition; a sacred and eternal journey and not a harbour.