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4

There is little point writing beyond this. Muslims protest. Whatever it is, they protest. Protests turn violent. People condemn. Then it is an insult of Islam. This rubbish cycle continues forever...

Ironic Islamic Protests

Today, when news hit that a Berlin court has allowed a rightwing extremist organization to use cartoons of Mohammed during their protest; I remembered the Danish cartoon controversy. At that time, Orkut was the social network of choice. A Danish newspaper had published a series of cartoons of Islamic prophet Mohammed, much to the delight of atheists and the many people irritated with touchy Muslims.

Predictably, very predictably, Muslims were furious. Protests happened worldwide. Bombs, death threats, the works. Yet, they resulted in increased hate for Islam and more ridicule. Communities like "Quran is not from God" flourished. Indian, Pakistani and other atheists in countries with restricted freedoms took to fake profiles to vent their fury, many from countries with freedom of speech posted from their real profiles. Me having neither luxury remained content to read.

It was quite apparent that the more the protests raged, the more insane Muslims looked.

But you know what the irony of this was? The people who took the protests far and wide were Muslims themselves. Two Muslim Imams who had got asylum in Denmark had compiled the cartoons. For good measure, they added cartoons from another newspaper, which were making fun of the first newspaper's campaign and not Mohammed at all.

and...

They added three cartoons to their dossier that had not been published anywhere. At all. One was a picture of a man at a pig squealing contest in France. A general photo available on the Internet. They added it to their dossier with a caption saying that he was Mohammed, thus committing blasphemy themselves, but Muslims ignored that when it got exposed, as they were highlighting the sins of the original cartoons. Many made excuses that the photos may have been published somewhere. Or may have been mailed as forwards.

Atheists in one of the community ran a challenge asking anyone to prove that the photos were published anywhere before the dossier by the Imams or to prove that such a forward existed. To my knowledge, no one did. Bombs, death threats, mayhem followed. The newspaper was forced to apologize in the interests of humanity and their own safety, though their law did not require them to.

Similar protests happened when a crazy pastor in the US threatened to burn a Quran and eventually did burn it. Protests and condemnation followed worldwide with attacks on Americans (which, to many meant any white people). A brutal massacre followed in Afghanistan.

Some photo of a pig at/on Mecca (I never did find out) resulted in muslims in Thane or Mulund rioting. Of course, an image search can still find lots of blasphemous images. It is impossible to wipe them off the Internet. So any  time you want to get Muslims acting insane, all you have to do is Google and tweet a link.

Behead those who say Islam is violent

It became further ridiculous when ridicule of Islam for being a violent religion was protested by huge processions of Muslims, and someone with a sharp eye caught posters saying "Kill those who say Islam is violent" and "Kill those who say Islam is intolerant".

It would be hilarious, but is tragic that all you have to do is create a fake profile; upload an insulting image and watch Muslims destroy their lives as well as those of others. Because make no mistake, apart from lawless wastelands of the world, every single place, Muslims got into trouble with the law over vandalism, rioting, murder, attempt to murder and what not. This is the part everyone forgets, or it would end. The swathes of destruction and dead people stood indisputable proof of the violence of Islam. In protesting a condemnation of Islam, Muslims set about proving it right.

Countless Muslims got police records over these that would forever be a mark on their records, damaging future jobs, visas, passports, education and more. They would forever be on the radars of US organizations. And US security is Obsessive Compulsive. Then, when they travel, if there is increased security for Muslims, that is seen as insulting too.

The real story here is the fiction peddled by religious leaders that every injustice against every single Muslim needs Muslims everywhere to be outraged. If under normal circumstances people break, vandalize, threaten, indulge in hate speech, they are thugs. If they do it for religion, they are people who are hurt. Historic wrongs must be remembered, and hopefully reversed. Any wrong against a Muslim is intentional. Non-Muslims violating Muslim norms are a greater outrage than Muslims. Non-Muslims killing Muslims are a greater outrage than Muslims.

Thus, if you have someone who preaches the Muslim need to protest, he is in business all year. And I do mean business, because the main purpose of these protests works out as shows of power as well as making people feel scared enough of non-Muslims that they huddle together and support whoever the big guy with the claims of power and protection is. Which will happen to be the guy promoting protest or whoever he points to. Surprise!

Where Muslims were in minorities, they became targets for retaliatory hate crime attacks for their "terrorist supporting" ways and for imposing their religious expectations on the world at large. Sikhs often paid the price, because too many people are ignorant about differences. Of course, these hate crimes are further fodder on how Islam is attacked.

Who benefits?

The crazies. Religious-political entities whose support base would be pathetic because of their regressive and unpalatable attitudes become bastions of true Muslim protection, because the world is unsafe enough without them. There is always political profit in violence, and if there is a neighbourhood mullah explaining h

Who loses?

People trying hard to humanize Islam. To build bridges. To coexist.

Closer home, we have Muslims on some kind of rampage. Protests turning violent in various cities. Yesterday in Lucknow the Buddha park was vandalized. Statues, yes, but even plants uprooted. I wonder what evil the plants represented. Worse, what sense in the world does it make to vandalize the Buddha park in Lukhnow, because someone showed you photos of Lamas standing over Muslim dead bodies (which in reality are Lamas on a rescue operation). If you are going to be stupid, is it any surprise that criminals can con you into getting a police record for their profit?

Few are going to notice that as far as damage to life and limb goes, these protests have not lead to as many deaths as their numbers would lead one to fear. There have been smaller mobs and more dead in India's history itself. The police is happy to let the rioters do their thing. If all goes well, they will be a nice vote bank at the cost of public property. If not, they can always claim to be overwhelmed. Notice how the profit belongs to someone else, in loss, it will be the Muslims blamed. A political method, but the sanction comes from their own leaders using them.

People from northeast are under a real, imaginary or fake death threat all over the country - depending on who you believe - the threats may even be planted. But the result is the same. There are people from the northeast fleeing cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune to better be safe than sorry. True or false, they work because of the reputation Muslims have created. It is believable that people in an unrelated place can be hurt by Muslims. The rumor *could* be true. This credibility to the rumors is something Muslims have granted, which gives anyone with an internet connection the ability to plant rumors on their behalf. This can be Muslims who would like not to be traced, or Hindus who would like to score a political point, or anyone with a political agenda.

All any one has to do to make Muslims look like homicidal maniacs is.... nothing. Just point them to a suitable outrage. Hyper emotionalism and misplaced anger do the rest. All the government needs to do to shrug its own responsibilities of massive misgovernance is to let the circus distract from them. And please note here, by government it is the Congress government, the supposed messiah of Muslims that I am talking about. The BJP is not even in the picture here. This time, the worst they may have done - *may* - even that is unverified; is scared northeast people into believing rumors, attributing intentions or hyped the threat angle, etc. Political opportunism, but waaaaay after Muslims and Congress have done worse.

In my view, the story of the Muslim outrage - everywhere in the world, where it isn't local - is Muslims insulting Islam more than anyone else. They harm themselves and their futures most. They make their religion look like a headless chicken act holding local communities hostage to outrage anywhere in the world, which is bizarre. Unless Muslims learn to see how they get used for political purposes, they will forever be delivering outrage when buttons are pushed, till a point comes when the religion itself starts getting banned for being a law and order problem.

This is a crisis now. There needs to be better dialogue among Muslims and categorical refusals to become mobs to protest things on the basis of religion. To refuse to risk their own lives, limbs, properties and reputations over things happening in another part of the world. To rubbish the fiction that a government not moved to action by a multi-ethnic massacre spanning months can be intimidated into fixing problems if enough buses are burnt today afternoon.

Am I recommending against the fundamental right to protest? No. I am recommending FOR the fundamental right to free speech - which includes receiving accurate information, that gets encroached by whoever wants to use outrage. Right to free speech includes right to information. Your free choice is only as good as the information being fed to you. Time to stop assuming some sources of information as golden. They have stabbed too many backs. Change the victim narrative. You are enough people. Stop being paranoid. The exact same advice I give to women. LIVE free and limits will dissolve. Fighting ain't gonna work if you already are the victim. And if you aren't victim, you don't need to fight.

This cannot be stressed enough. This is already a crisis.

6

There is a prevailing fiction actively promoted by the government that Nuclear Energy is the only way out of the energy crisis for India. Every time I write about issues with nuclear energy, there are people making comments like stay in the dark ages, etc. So let us look at some facts around this scenario.

To begin with, before getting into serious data, let me state the overwhelmingly obvious. There are many ways to boil water – which is what a nuclear reactor does and still more ways to produce electricity – which is the purpose of building a nuclear reactor. The rest of the process is no different from any other boiling water driving turbines like a coal or diesel plant or other force driving turbines – like a windmill or water falling from a height from a dam. Nuclear Energy just happens to be one with an incomprehensibly destructive potential, however small the chance of occurrence may be.

Here is a table with data of money invested in Atomic Energy and Renewable Energy Sources from Official budget figures.

[table id=3 /]

Or, in other words,

 

Comparitive chart for budget expenditures for nuclear energy and renewable energy in India. AE = Atomic Energy; RE = Renewable Energy

As you see, the money invested in renewable energy sources is a fraction of that invested in nuclear energy. However, when you look at the energy being produced in the country, it is clear that Renewable Energy contributes far more than Atomic Energy.

To use statistics from the monthly executive report provided by the Central Electrical Authority in February 2012, out of 190592.55MW, Coal (105437.38MW), Gas (18093.85MW), Diesel (1199.75MW) Together as Thermal Energy (124730.98MW) are the largest chunk. Followed by Hydroelectric Energy (38848.40MW), then Renewable Energy (22233.17MW) and finally Nuclear Energy (4780.00MW).

Breakdown of the electricity production capacity of India by source

Compare that with the money being poured in, the risks inherent in nuclear energy, the known risks and emerging data on previously unknown risks, conflict and trauma to local populations with agitations and suppression, and the longterm responsibility of managing safe processing and storage of radioactive waste. Then the costs of the construction, maintenance and shutdowns (India has had at least three accidents that put plants out of action for over two years), local community welfare expenses and the potential for incalculable costs in damage to land, livelihoods, health and environment in the event of an accident. The US has long given up the initial belief of nuclear power being so cheap as to provide virtually free energy. Currently, the costs are estimated to be only slightly lower than other forms of energy. Japan has actually reevaluated to put the costs of nuclear energy as on par with other energy resources. It is quite puzzling to perceive a need for nuclear power specifically when it offers little advantage and considerable disadvantages.

We have been pursuing nuclear power almost since the creation of our country. The Department of Atomic Energy was established on 3rd August 1948 – just short of completing a year of independence. Our estimations of nuclear energy production in the 1960s was for 8000MW by the year 1987. It is now 2012 and we have just over half of that capacity (incidentally from little resisted plants compared with what lies in our future). However, our optimistic projections continue unabated, and these are at the root of a lot of propaganda related with the “necessity” of nuclear energy. The projections of 20,000MW by 2020 and 207,000MW to 275,000MV by 2052 are extremely unlikely to be achieved considering our track record so far, and the growing resistance to nuclear energy. The kicker here is that even if by some remote chance we did manage to pull this one off, it would constitute 8-10% of projected electricity capacity in 2020 and about 20% in 2052 – not even remotely the energy savior of the country it is projected as.

In comparison, while the Commission for Additional Sources of Energy (CASE) was created in 1981 and the Department of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (DNES) was established in 1982, the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES) itself was formed in 1992 and it was renamed as Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in 2006. We are in 2012 and enjoying 4.65 times the energy production of nuclear energy for a 1/7.7th of the budget investment with New and Renewable Energy.

Renewable energy is considerably healthier for the planet than say your garden variety coal plant or nuclear plant. It is also more likely to be cheaper once the initial investment is done. To quote from the MNRE’s excellent book on Solar Radiant Energy over India that publishes detailed information on solar radiance all over the country:

The solar energy received by the earth is more than 15,000 times the world’s commercial energy consumption and over 100 times the world’s known coal, gas and oil reserves. And this energy is readily available during the day for anyone to tap and that too free and without any constraint.

This is no quantity of energy to sneeze at. India has excellent natural sunlight. The Direct Natural Irradiance maps provided by the Ministry of New and Renewable Sources of Energy shows that most of India gets excellent sunlight and areas like Rajasthan, for example getting very strong sunlight. Solar Energy is very viable in India. It is almost free to use once the initial installation is done and has the added suitability of being able to be deployed to remote regions with no access to an electrical grid.

Direct Natural Irradiance - Annual averages map data from the Ministry for New and Renewable Sources of Energy

While building solar plants will be more suitable in Rajasthan and other areas with strong sunlight, there are many other uses that can be started all over the country. We spend energy on heating water and cooking. Solar energy is very useful for this, and it does not require the strong sunlight that is needed for optimal performance from photovoltaic cells. Solar electricity generation for distribution will be better in areas with strong sunlight, but solar electricity for home use can be generated from rooftop panel installations almost all over the country.

As the cost of grid power rises, and that of photo-voltaic panels from China and US drops, it makes increasing sense to shift funds to this area, where there is massive potential for expansion and quick and dramatic transformation in this much neglected area. Currently, only 1% of our energy needs come from solar power, and funding will help this area grow much faster, as the main prohibitive factor for solar energy is its initial investment. This potential for near free energy is a treasure mine in energy in a country where abject poverty is common. In addition, the tentative forays into public lighting, traffic signals and so on can be expanded to become more and more autonomous. This has the obvious advantage of not requiring electrical connections to the grid, not having bills to pay and functioning reliably.

Other forms of energy like wind and tidal enegy can be used to generate electric power. Although a relative newcomer to the wind industry compared with Denmark or the United States, India has the fifth largest installed wind power capacity in the world. In 2009-10 India’s growth rate was highest among the other top four countries. As of 31 March 2011 the installed capacity of wind power in India was 14550MW.

Another vast treasure potential in energy is bio-fuels. 80% of our population being rural and agriculture and livestock being widespread, biofuels help generate gas for cooking or lighting. The waste from the bio-gas plant serves as cheap and excellent manure, which in turn will help heal our lands destroyed by rampant use of chemical fertilizers and boost the increasing movement toward organic farming and the production of healthier food.

The potential is endless, and the results from this area have so far been gratifyingly efficient. The amount of money invested in the pursuit of nuclear energy being available to this would likely wean us off the coal plants and get started on the large and harmful dams in the kind of time nuclear energy has taken to get here.

I cannot fathom the logic behind calling nuclear energy “necessary”.

Note: I am no expert on any subject related with economics or energy generation or nuclear energy. However, all data is from government sources and seems fairly straightforward.