Archive for April, 2017


By Datuk Seri Musa Aman

AS leader of this state, I am duty-bound to serve the people and ensure their needs are taken care of.

I accept the fact that there are limits to what I can achieve as the Chief Minister, but I try my best and accept criticisms where due.

But, when false allegations are hurled at the administration that I lead, I will not accept it without defending those who make sure my instructions are followed.

There are leaders who act, and those who pay lip service.

Recently, the opposition accused the Barisan Nasional-led government of clearing more than 100,000ha of forest reserves to be converted into oil palm plantations.

I have dealt with this by setting the record straight at the recently-concluded State Legislative Assembly sitting and reminded the opposition that their responsibility entails more than just criticising the government.

The government is open to suggestions that will bring progress to the state and benefits to the people, even if they come from the opposition.

But, I will not tolerate those who voice out baseless allegations to confuse the people or deliberately exploit issues for political mileage.

For those leaders who are sincere, I told them to come and see me if there are things they do not understand.

Preserving the forest is an important agenda for me.

One of the milestones in Sabah’s conservation effort was when the state resolved to protect the area that harbours the largest orangutanpopulation, as well as other wildlife in Sabah, in the Ulu Segama and Malua forest reserves.

After almost 60 years of continuous logging, this activity was phased out by the end of 2007.

While there were some sceptics, it sent a strong message on our seriousness about conservation.

To reiterate that we mean business, during an official visit by then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to Deramakot Forest Reserve in June 2006, I announced that logging would be phased out in Ulu Segama, Malua and Kalumpang the following year.

The eventual halt to logging in the areas would translate to a forfeiture of at least RM1 billion in timber royalties to the state.

The move has led to 240,000ha being placed under Sustainable Forest Management for the conservation of orangutan and reforestation of an area that is also part of the broader Heart of Borneo due to its rich biodiversity.

Efforts have been put in place to recreate healthy and productive forests in these and other forest reserves, each with their own management plans.

In areas not fully protected, extraction of timber is done on a sustainable basis and high conservation value areas, such as watersheds, are protected for their many benefits.

Through Sustainable Forest Management, 53 per cent of Sabah, or 3.9 million hectares, of state land have been permanently set aside as Forest Reserves, Protection Areas and Wildlife Conservation Areas.

The state government has also decided to set aside 30 per cent of its total landmass, or 2.2 million hectares, as Totally Protected Areas, which we hope to achieve in the next few years.

The current 26 per cent has already exceeded the International Union for Conservation of Nature target of 10 per cent.

It must be noted that Sabah has restored and planted forests well over 600,000ha, presumably the largest such undertaking in the tropics.

On top of that, we also have the three natural gems in the form of the Maliau Basin, Danum Valley and Imbak Canyon conservation areas under the full protection of Yayasan Sabah.

The latest development to show our commitment is the scrapping of the proposed Sukau bridge across Kinabatangan river, after considering views about the environmental impact from various quarters, including non-governmental organisations and environmentalists.

The Sabah government has and will continue to promote the state as a hub for tropical rainforest research involving renowned international research organisations, such as the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, the Nature Conservancy of the United States of America, Sime Darby Foundation, Abraham Foundation, WWF-Malaysia IKEA, Petronas, as well as key local higher learning institutions.

We must grow and enrich our forests with a variety of timber species.

It will be most regrettable if we leave tracts of barren land to the future generation.

Musa Aman is the Chief Minister of Sabah, Malaysia.


The first wave of the Roma are thought to have left India probably with the armies of Alexander of Macedon around 326 BC, who took them along as “they were iron smelters and experts in making war weapons”. The word Roma itself is believed to have come from the Sanskrit domba, or the modern dom or its variations, found in several Indian languages, referring to lower castes engaged in a range of menial works and, at places, in itinerant singing and dancing professions.

The Romani language has obvious similarities with languages spoken in northern India, and many of the commonest Romani words, including the numerals, are near identical to their modern Hindi names. Examples: the Romani yek (Hindi ek); dui (do); trin (teen); shtaar (chaar); panchi (paanch); sho (chhe); desh (dus); bish (bees); manush (manushya, or man); baal, kaan and naak, which are the same as the Hindi words for hair, ear and nose; kalo (kaala, or black), etc.

In her speech to the International Roma Conference and Cultural Festival in New Delhi last year, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj counted painter Pablo Picasso, actor-filmmaker Charlie Chaplin, entertainer Elvis Presley, Hollywood icon Michael Caine, tennis star Ilie Nastase, and actor Yul Brynner among prominent Roma

See below a very interesting piece by Pooja Khati of the INDIAN EXPRESS, “Meet the Roma: 2,000 years ago, the first ‘Indians’ to go to Europe”.

(A Roma caravan in a meadow in England in 2009. (Source Wikimedia Commons)

Who are the Roma?

The Roma or Romani are a travelling people who live mostly in Europe and America, and whose origins are widely accepted by anthropologists, historians and geneticists as lying in northern India. The Roma are known by different names in different countries — Zigeuner in Germany, Tsiganes or Manus in France, Tatara in Sweden, Gitano in Spain, Tshingan in Turkey and Greece, Gypsy in the UK, etc. Some of these names have clear derogatory connotations and are considered racial slurs by the Romani people. In her speech to the International Roma Conference and Cultural Festival in New Delhi on February 12, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj counted painter Pablo Picasso, actor-filmmaker Charlie Chaplin, entertainer Elvis Presley, Hollywood icon Michael Caine, tennis star Ilie Nastase, and actor Yul Brynner among prominent Roma.

What is the world’s Roma population? Where do they live?

The precise number is unknown, in part because of the reluctance of many Roma to disclose their ethnicities in official national censuses for fear of attracting harassment or persecution. Minister Swaraj told the Roma conference that as of 2016, the global population of the community is estimated to be around 20 million. Roma peoples live in some 30 countries across West Asia, Europe, America and Australia. The largest Roma community is in Turkey — around 2.75 million. Some 1 million are estimated to live in the US, and around 800,000 in Brazil. Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Spain and France all have sizeable Roma populations.

So, what is the Indian connection of the Romani people?

The Romani language has obvious similarities with languages spoken in northern India, and many of the commonest Romani words, including the numerals, are near identical to their modern Hindi names. Examples: the Romani yek (Hindi ek); dui (do); trin (teen); shtaar (chaar); panchi (paanch); sho (chhe); desh (dus); bish (bees); manush (manushya, or man); baal, kaan and naak, which are the same as the Hindi words for hair, ear and nose; kalo (kaala, or black), etc.

The first wave of the Roma are thought to have left India probably with the armies of Alexander of Macedon around 326 BC, who, Swaraj said at the conference, took them along as “they were iron smelters and experts in making war weapons”. The word Roma itself is believed to have come from the Sanskrit domba, or the modern dom or its variations, found in several Indian languages, referring to lower castes engaged in a range of menial works and, at places, in itinerant singing and dancing professions.

The cultural similarities between the Roma and Indian communities include an association of the colour white with mourning, applying of mehndi on palms by Roma brides, and laws of ritual purity and taboos of birth and death. A woman in childbirth is considered impure, and must have her baby outside her caravan home or tent lest it be polluted. The high incidence of child marriages, and belief in gods similar to Shiva, Kali and Agni too are considered evidence of their links to Hindu culture.

The authors of a 2012 study analysed some 800,000 genetic variants in 152 Romani people from 13 Romani communities across Europe and concluded that the Roma people left northern India about 1,500 years ago; and those Roma who now live in Europe migrated through the Balkans beginning about 900 years ago.

Why are the Roma regarded with fear by some people and persecuted by some governments?

Popular narratives in film and literature represent the Roma as people of unpredictable temper and mystical or occult powers, including fortune-telling. They are also often represented as thieves or law-breakers, adding to the general negative perceptions about them.

The prejudice has translated into persecution by governments almost since the beginning of their migration to Europe. They were enslaved or killed in Germany, Italy and Portugal, faced discrimination because of the colour of their skin, and were accused of bringing the great plague to Europe.

The Nazis sent the Roma to labour camps. In 1934, Turkey passed a law allowing the government to deny the Roma citizenship. In the 1980s in Czechoslovakia, Roma women were forced to undergo sterilisation. Even now, there are incidents of Roma children being taken away from their parents, and women having their ears chopped. In 2010, 51 illegal Roma camps were removed by the French authorities, triggering an uproar and threats of action from the EU.

So where is the ‘Roma question’ headed?

The main aim of the Delhi conference was to bring to the attention of governments the issues being faced by the community. It was proposed to study the political, social, and economic challenges it faced, and to examine the constitutional safeguards available to them. A 2011 survey in 11 European countries had found that only one out of two children from the community went to school on average, and only one out of three adult Roma was in a paid job. Almost 90% of Roma in these countries lived below the poverty line, and almost half of them had faced discrimination because of their ethnic background.

 


When Hitler and Lenin played chess in Vienna. No prizes for guessing who won the game!

Hitler was a jobbing artist in the city in 1909 and Lenin was in exile and the house where they allegedly played the game belonged to a prominent Jewish family.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21859771

The link above will take you to a story on how Hitler, Trotsky, Stalin, Tito and Freud all lived within walking distance of each other in Vienna in the early 90’s. What the story misses is that Vladimir Lenin also lived in Vienna for a while and actually played chess with Adolf Hitler.

Within a couple of decades of their coming together, most of the world concepts had been turned on their heads. The thought I am left with is, they didn’t have Facebook then. What could be coming our way?

 

Pictured: Hitler playing chess with Lenin

THE TELEGRAPH

A picture of a young Adolf Hitler apparently playing chess against Vladimir Lenin 100 years ago has come to light.
Etching of a young Adolf Hilter playing chess against Vladimir Lenin:

An extraordinary etching of a young Adolf Hilter playing chess against Vladimir Lenin has come to light. The art work is by Hilter’s Jewish art teacher Emma Lowenstramm who witnessed the game Photo: BNPS

The image is said to have been created in Vienna by Hitler’s art teacher, Emma Lowenstramm, and is signed on the reverse by the two dictators.

Hitler was a jobbing artist in the city in 1909 and Lenin was in exile and the house where they allegedly played the game belonged to a prominent Jewish family.

In the run-up to the Second World War the Jewish family fled and gave many of their possessions, including the etching and chess set, to their housekeeper.

Now their housekeeper’s great-great grandson is selling the image and the chess set at auction. Both items have a pre-sale estimate of £40,000.

The unnamed vendor is confident the items are genuine after his father spent a lifetime attempting to prove their authenticity.

He compiled a 300-page forensic document that included tests on the paper, the signatures and research on those involved.

Experts, however, have questioned its authenticity especially the identification of Lenin who they say might have been confused with one of his associates.

When the etching was made, Hitler was 20 and Lenin was twice his age and the house was where politicos went to discuss things.

The etching is thought to be one of five and shows Hitler – playing with the white pieces – sitting by a window, with Lenin opposite him in half shadow.

It is titled “A Chess Game: Lenin with Hitler – Vienna 1909”.

It raises tantalising questions about what the two men who helped shape the world in the 20th century might have spoken of.

Lenin was already a highly influential Russian figure who in 1907 went into exile once more after the revolution was crushed by Tsarist authorities.

Richard Westwood-Brookes, who is selling the items, said: “This just sounds too good to be true, but the vendor’s father spent a lifetime proving it.

“He compiled a 300 page document and spent a great deal of money engaging experts to examine the etching.

“The signatures in pencil on the reverse are said to have an 80 per cent chance of being genuine, and there is proof that Emma Lowenstramm did exist.

“The circumstantial evidence is very good on top of the paper having been tested.

“Hitler was a painter in 1909 and his Jewish teacher Emma Lowenstramm was the person who made the etching.

“There is some suggestion that when he came to power Hitler protected her and she died from natural causes in 1941.

“At the time, Vienna was a hotbed of political intrigue and the house where this game took place belonged to a prominent Jewish family.

“Lenin at the time was moving around Europe in exile and writing “Materialism and Empirio-criticism”.

“His movements are hazy and it is known that he did play chess and later he certainly wore wigs as a disguise.

“It is also known that Lenin was a German agent and the house was where people went to exchange political views.

“The chess set is clearly the same chess set as that in the etching. It is a box chess set that folds out and the pieces are identifiable – particularly the kings and bishops.

“To my knowledge there are five etchings of this image, but this has the signatures of both men and the artist.

“The provenance is that it has come through the family of the housekeeper who was given it when the Jewish family fled in the late 1930s.

“The family is based in Hanover and it is the great great grandson of the housekeeper who is selling it.

“On all sorts of levels it is an extremely valuable artefact. Even as just an allegorical picture it shows the men playing chess possibly for the world.”

Historian Helen Rappaport, who has just written a book called “Conspirator: Lenin in Exile”, said the etching was probably a “glorious piece of fantasy”.

She said: “In 1909 Lenin was in France and there is no evidence that he was in Vienna.

“In October he went to Liege in Belgium and in November he went to Brussels. He would have visited Vienna before and after that year.

“He liked the place and went there because he travelled around Europe on trains, but he wouldn’t have been there long enough to meet a young Hitler.

“He was also as bald as a bat by 1894 with just hair on the sides of his head.

“And when in exile he was not known as Lenin and instead used a number of aliases.

“The person believed to be Lenin in the etching may well have been one of his revolutionary or Bolshevik associates who was misidentified.

“It may even have been an Austrian socialist with whom he associated in the Second International.

“The Germans did fund the Bolsheviks and gave them millions of marks for the revolutionary effort, but Lenin was not a German sympathiser.

“Although this is totally spurious it is wonderful to bring these two great megalomaniacs together.

“It makes sense retrospectively and the history of art is full of retrospective meetings between people.”

The items are to be sold at Mullock’s auction house in Ludlow, Shropshire, on October 1.

THE TELEGRAPH

Truth about language in India

Posted: April 4, 2017 in Hindi, India, Urdu
Tags:

This is a very interesting piece on Sanskrit and I have decided to share.

by Santosh Kumar Khare

Sanskrit played the elitist role in ancient India, being the language of religion, government and literature. Pali and subsequently Prakrits and Apabharamshas were spoken by the masses. This is evident from classical Sanskrit plays, which have brahmins and noblemen speaking Sanskrit while lower orders (including women!) use Pali. Sanskrit gave way to Persian in most of India during Islamic rule.

Regional dialects and languages continued to develop at popular levels, acquiring words from Persian, Arabic and Turkish. In northern India the process produced the patois of Amir Khusro and a highly polyglot lingua franca. Called Hindavi or Urdu, it developed in bazaars and military camps through contact between Persian Turkish-speaking elites and soldiers on the one hand and the Bhasha-speaking locals on the other.

During the 19th century English displaced Persian as the rulers’ tongue while regional vernaculars continued to evolve among the masses. Although attempts to embellish Hindavi/Urdu – the literary form was called Rekhta – started in Shahjahan’s times, its development into formal language ironically came about after the ascendancy of English. This was accompanied by a policy directive from the Court of Directors of East India Company in 1832 to replace Persian with local vernaculars as the language of the courts so that the public could understand the proceedings.

The notion of Hindi and Urdu as two distinct languages crystallised at Fort William College in the first half of the 19th century and was given official endorsement in an order promulgated by the NWP and Oudh government (present day UP) in 1900 requiring provincial officials to know both. As far as the script was concerned, the shift from the Persian to the Nagari script stretched from the 1870s and 1880s (Bihar and Central Provinces) well into the 20th century (UP and Delhi).

It is important to bear in mind that modern Hindi and Urdu started with narrow social bases. They represented competing interests of emergent middle class urban Hindu and entrenched Muslim/Kayastha Group respectively. Both had their eyes on lower-level government jobs in the British raj. Hindi and Urdu therefore had to differentiate themselves from each other and in the process from the common vernacular.

Their linguistic and literary repertoires were built up accordingly, Urdu borrowing heavily from Persian/Arabic and Hindi from Sanskrit.

From EPW commentary Dec 14, 2002
‘TRUTH ABOUT LANGUAGE IN INDIA’
by Santosh Kumar Khare