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Letters

Tipping points
The last ice age happened in 6 months. 6 months for the planet to unleash an army of apartment-building-size ice blocks across Europe and the United States. It was a climate tipping point where the balance is knocked completely out of control and threatens the survival of everything—and three more tipping points exactly like it are on the verge of happening.

One agreement with common sense steps to end dirty energy can save the hunmankind. That is why the UN has called an emergency climate meeting in just over 100 days with all major world leaders—if environmentalists greet them with the largest ever global climate mobilisation in history they can break through the walls of mega coal, oil, and business that prevent even the best politicians from doing what is right.

There's no way to get around how big a task this is. But together, each small action will add up into a millions-strong movement that literally drowns out the opposition and gives the environment activists the best reason to break free and build a hopeful, clean and green future.

"Tipping points" are feedback loops, where climate change feeds back on itself and causes rapidly accelerating, catastrophic consequences. Right now, methane gas that is 25 times worse for global warming that CO2 is frozen below the ice caps. But as the ice melts, the gas leaks, causing more melting and each melt loses the earth another reflective ice shield that people rely on to block some of the sun's most harmful rays. And that's just one example…

There's never been a better time. As extreme weather continues to break records, and the reality of climate change starts hitting home, the UN Secretary General has invited world leaders to New York in September to discuss action on climate change. This meeting will set the stage for either real urgent action or empty declarations before any big climate deal is inked.
Morgan, Emma, Sayeed and
the rest of the Avaaz.org team

Where is the truth?
Every print, or audio-visual media has a policy, determined by the owner, the publisher or the editor (when he combines the three); no two have the same, unless they issue from the same house. Some TV news channels look alike in policy or stand, particularly if supported, or funded, by a party or coalition. In this cacophony of news and views, where lies the Truth? Ideas and ideologues that a publication or media spread or popularize have their own raison detre, to none Truth is absolute. Governments whom they pillory are not run by asses. This confuses and confounds the readers and watchers of media, rendering them incapable of gleaning the Truth. For example, when a political crime is committed, one party accuses another as culprit, which the accused party denies. When no other is suspected, then who committed it? If the victim had not died, or been rendered mute, his disclosure should be valued above all by the police. More often, instead of this sensible course, parties wrangle and play blame-game, earing or wasting political capital.

Editors of news media reflect, or are made to reflect, their policies, subtly. When they switch over, they sing in other tunes without any qualm, ruining their integrity. Where is the Truth? The Biblical quote, "What is Truth, asked jesting Pilate (to Jesus) without waiting for an answer" is funny, but is indeed a truism. India's media, otherwise very capable, are vitiated by wild cynicism and sweeping generalisations by editors and other writers. Take this sentence from a weekly: "Every elector demonstrates how farcical this much-talked-about adult franchise is", Does he really? In West Bengal, some State polls were rigged by the Congress and the Leftists; if they were not, would the results have been otherwise? Only the margins of victory and defeat would have been different in some constituencies, or booths, if adult franchise was really a 'farce', would there have been massive turnouts, exceeding even 80% of the electorate? The ubiquitous jest for pressing buttons on EVMs would have evaporated if voters imagined, or feared, that the outcome would be manipulated by the ruling party. In fact, the 16th Lok Sabha Poll, staggered on nine phases for over a month has been largely free and fair, reflecting the will of the people, if alleged riggings by the opposition did not occur, would the Congress, or the nebulous Third Front, have come to power? Poet William Blake wrote: "To generalize is to be an idiot; all knowledge is particular". Let our media commentators heed this, because Truth must prevail!
Bandana Ray,
Kalyani, West Bengal

More Bitter Pills
Loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) largely come with policy change conditions attached—conditions that the IMF has played a significant role in developing. Criticisms of the excessive burden and politically sensitive nature of these conditions led to significant reviews at the IMF and the introduction of some conditionality-free facilities, although these are limited in scope. The IMF claims to have limited its conditions to critical reforms agreed by recipient governments. However, the worrying findings now suggest that the IMF is going backwards—increasing the number of structural conditions that mandate policy changes per loan, and remaining heavily engaged in highly sensitive and political policy areas.
Eurodad

Homosexuality
The Delhi High Court had struck down the Clause in Indian Penal Code saying that homosexual relations were a crime. The Supreme Court has overturned that judgment and held that homosexual relations will continue to be a crime in the country. The only way to reverse the Supreme Court judgment is for the Government to bring a law amending the law. Major parties have promised to do precisely this. Congress has said that it will create a national consensus in favour of making consensual homosexual relationships legal. An AAP ideologue has said that restricting consensual homosexual relationships is a violation of human rights. Brinda Karat of the Marxist Communist Party has said this is a matter of individual freedom and such relations should be decriminalized. The majority of the country seems to be moving in the direction of allowing these relationships. But majority is not always right. The Government must make efforts to move the people in the right direction. It is necessary to take a deeper view of the problem.

The Hindus believe that homosexuality is a result of deep attractions of the past lives. Hindu astrology identifies this tendency and prescribes ways to overcome this. The Semitic religions-Judaism, Christianity and Islam-are even more strongly arrayed against homosexuality. The Bible tells of the city of Sodom where homosexuality was practiced. God destroyed that city as a punishment. The negative attitude towards homosexuality in these religions arises from the belief that these are negative tendencies that must be controlled just as one who has a tendency to steal is advised to control his habit.

What is the modern scientific position though? There are two views in modern science. One view holds that this tendency is due to certain desires or mental predispositions. This matches with the religious view and leads to the conclusion that homosexuality must be discouraged. Other view holds that this is a physical condition which cannot and need not be controlled. It follows that homosexuality need not be 'discouraged' much like a person born tall cannot be discouraged to walk short. This view leads to social acceptance of homosexuality. These views are described in detail in an excellent article in AllPsych Journal by Ryan D. Johnson.

Johnson says that sociologists David Halperin and Jean Foucault agree that homosexuality arises out of certain psychic tendencies though they hold different views regarding the depth of these tendencies. Halperin thinks these tendencies are deep while Foucault thinks these are superficial. That said this view endorses the religious stance that these are psychic tendencies which can be controlled.

If anything homosexuality is an aberration of nature—not a desirable condition. The civil society should decriminalize homosexuality but also put in place measures to discourage this.
Bharat Jhunjhunwala,
Uttarakhand

Frontier
Vol. 46, No. 51, Jun 29 - Jul 5, 2014