India experiences ‘gendercide’

Social conditions in India mean that, for many people, male infants are valued more than female. Boys stay at home, bring in dowries, work for the family, and take care of parents in their old age. Girls leave home, cost dowries, work for the husband’s family, and take care of the husband’s parents. And families always try to have the children that benefit them.

Working within those rules, families reduce the number of female children by selective abortion, covert infanticide, and starvation or other deadly neglect.

The proportion of females in among children is at an all-time low.

Of course, this leads to problems at marriageable age. Instead of scrapping the dowry and reworking social expectations, parents of boys will be buying kidnapped girls.

India rules that touting Astrology isn’t false advertising

The Register reports that the Bombay High Court ruled in February that astrologers can’t be prosecuted under India’s Drugs and Magical Remedies Act. As the register points out, that’s not the same as saying that astrology is a science.

You can read the act here.

Largest democracy in the world goes to the polls

Manmohan Singh, PM

Manmohan Singh, PM


The world’s largest democracy, with 600 million voters, began to vote on Thursday. Because of the large numbers of voters, voting is staggered over a month and there are successive rounds.Vote counting will begin May 16.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh voted on Thursday in Guwahati, Assam.

Happy U.S. Thanksgiving

Faisel Nagel

Cool courage during an attack: Faisel Nagel

Mumbai, India, was subjected to several co-ordinated attacks by terrorists yesterday, on Colaba market and a Jewish Centre, two hotels, a cafe, a hospital, and the Chattrapati Shivaji Railway station. Over 100 people are killed and 1,000 wounded. It’s almost as bad as the attacks in 2006 or 1993.

Here’s something to be thankful for: the South African cricket team, including its team’s six security advisers, led 120 people out of the Taj hotel in Mumbai after it was attacked by terrorists. They organized, armed, called hotel security to tell them noncombatants were coming out, and led the people down 25 flights of stairs via a fire escape and out the back.

The story is here; it says 150 people escaped and the team advisers led 120 people out so I guess that puts 30 people with the cricket team the numbers are approximate. Check out the picture of the security guy: he looks like a serious dude.

Previous attacks in Mumbai:

  • July 11, 2006: More than 200 people killed in seven blasts on suburban trains and stations.
  • Aug 25, 2003: 46 people killed in two blasts including one near the Gateway of India.
  • March 12, 1993: A series of bomb blasts left 257 dead and around 700 injured. Buildings attacked included the Bombay Stock Exchange, hotels, theatres, passport office, Air India building and Sahar Airport.

Tantric magic: FAIL!

Another form of magic bites the dust in India when a rationalist challenges a tantric black magician to kill him with magical curses.

rational man vs. tantric magician

On 3 March 2008, in a popular TV show, Sanal Edamaruku, the president of Rationalist International, challenged India’s most “powerful” tantrik (black magician) to demonstrate his powers on him. That was the beginning of an unprecedented experiment….

Everything started, when Uma Bharati (former chief minister of the state of Madhya Pradesh) accused her political opponents in a public statement of using tantrik powers to inflict damage upon her….

India TV, one of India’s major Hindi channels with national outreach, invited Sanal Edamaruku for a discussion on “Tantrik power versus Science”. Pandit Surinder Sharma, who claims to be the tantrik of top politicians and is well known from his TV shows, represented the other side…. He claimed that he was able to kill any person he wanted within three minutes by using black magic. Sanal challenged Surinder to try and kill him. …

The tantrik, unwilling to admit defeat, tried the excuse that a very strong god whom Sanal might be worshipping obviously protected him. “No, I am an atheist,” said Sanal Edamaruku.

Read all about it and see more pictures.

(hat tip to PZ Myers at Pharyngula)

UPDATE: Bill Poser, over on Ed Brayton’s article about this on Dispatches from the Culture Wars, had the best suggestion for follow-up:

The way to really nail this down is to lay charges of attempted murder against Surinder Sharma. He can either admit guilt or admit as his defense that he is a fraud.

Surgery for eight-limbed toddler


A large team of doctors in Bangalore operated on a toddler to remove extra limbs from a partially developed, conjoined twin. The girl, two years old, was joined at the pelvis by another pelvis and arms, but no head. Surgeons removed the extra limbs and transferred a kidney from the twin to Lakshimi in a marathon effort that took about 27 hours. The girl has been given an 80% chance of survival.

A scan of her skeleton is shown below.

The pictures are from Times Online.

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