Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Sunday, March 24, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Harappan disaster

US study says quake may have wiped out Harappa: a summary of Manika Prasad's work which indicates that the Harappan civilization, which I mentioned here a few days ago, may have been wiped out by massive earthquakes.

Nobody really knows why the Harappan civilisation that thrived around 2500 BC suddenly disappeared. Many theories have been propounded till date which include sudden floods, drought and even the invasion of the region by Aryans. And now a team of geologists from the Stanford University in California believes that the real blame probably lies with the massive earthquakes that struck the region in the past.

[via Surfing the Apocalypse]

Caste in poverty

Gujarat earthquake: Land of the damned: on the distribution of aid in the aftermath of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake.

Gujarat's poor are Dalits, or untouchables. Before the earthquake, discrimination against untouchables in Gujarat was subtle; afterwards, it was blatant. Their plight has divided Indian opinion: how Gujarat's poorest families were ignored is either a human-rights violation, or the natural order of things according to the Hindu Lord Krishna. (Only very slightly better off than Dalits in this very Hindu state are Gujarat's Muslims.) Through a simple accident of being born lowest in India's caste system, poor Gujaratis are considered so unequal that they have received less food and water, fewer blankets and smaller houses (if they were given one at all) than upper castes.

Some untouchables, like Baba Jogi, are deemed so inferior that aid for them, according to a few higher-caste Indians, is almost unthinkable. Which poses a terrible question for those of us making phone pledges to help poor people in dire distress. Are our disaster-relief efforts only making the gap between the rich and poor greater?

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Other People's Religions: on the attempt by the Los Angeles schools system to remove anti-Semitism from Korans placed in their libraries.

Here's the problem with the Los Angeles school district's fair-mindedness: It fails to grasp an inevitable part of religion. Most world religions originally preached intolerance of other religions. To take its mission statement at its word, the committee would have to expunge from school libraries the holy books of at least the three major creeds in this country, since their primary texts and annotations thereof are often suffused with antipathy toward unbelievers, as well as toward such nationalities as, say, the Egyptians and the Canaanites, and occupations like prostitute, moneylender and tyrant. To scrub even the footnotes to Scripture of intolerance, you have to erase religious history.

See also:
'Creative' approach to teaching religion draws fire: a textbook is causing controversy in California because of perceived bias towards Islam.

"The text specifically displays its bias by only citing Christianity for examples of religious persecution, focusing on church schisms, crusades, and inquisitions," says a statement from the Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing the San Luis Obispo parent.


The publisher, for its part, says that the textbook covers a period of history until 1789, and that modern topics would not be suitable. "We're also not covering the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor when we're talking about medieval Japan," says Collin Earnst, a spokesman for Houghton Mifflin, the Boston-based publisher of the textbook.

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Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley