Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Three Things: California Textbooks, Marriage Law in India, Google China

--There was a story on NPR's All Things Considered yesterday regarding the California school textbook controversy. (See my earlier post here) Seems like a pretty balanced story -- the emphasis is on the growing demands of various immigrant groups to have their views represented, rather than religious extremism. I can't quite figure out why this story ran yesterday in particular, though.

--I was puzzled by the news that the Indian Supreme Court recently ruled that all Indian marriages must be legally registered, in the interest of protecting the rights of women. I support the decision -- but I actually thought this was already the law!

--It's interesting that the Chinese government is defending its censorship of Google China by invoking the U.S.A. Patriot Act, which allows the American government to monitor all electronic communnication conducted in the U.S. In effect, they are saying, "well, the American government spies on its citizens, so we can too." I don't think it's really valid; how can simple monitoring of communications pertaining to possible terrorism compare to outright banning of links to "democracy," "Tibet," and so on?

Everyone is beating up on Google, and they may be right. But it's too bad that the left isn't really taking the Chinese government's point as an opportunity to review the slide in American civil liberties represented by the Patriot Act. The latter was effectively re-authorized by the U.S. Senate last week, with only minor changes regarding libraries and the infamous "National Security Letters." Even with the changes, the government has entirely too much authority to use its powers to conduct information fishing expeditions: investigation without cause for suspicion.


Suvendra Nath Dutta said...

I am so delighted to hear you bring up Patriot Act. I heard the Congressman Chris Smith yesterday on NPR talk about US agencies not participating in chinese crackdown on dissidents, and all I could think of was that isn't all that in the Patriot Act. The issue isn't so much whether one is against the Patriot Act or not. I know I can't be against it, because I know virtually nothing about it. But in principle you can't raise objections about one government's use of technology to monitor its citizens and approve of another government doing the same thing. At least the Congressman should clarify why he thinks the two are entirely unrelated.

10:48 AM  
Vikash Singh said...

Good post on the Google censorship. Try a search on the different Google for 'falun dafa' search results search results

See the differences for yourself. Notice the change in words and phrases with the Chinese google search. Examples: "heretical", "denies all science and truth",....

1:14 PM  
Chandra said...

With regards to Indian marriages, there may be a law, but I know many who don't register. Also, I know it is not sufficient just to have bridge and groom present at registrar office to get registered. I know in my case, the registrar wanted parents of both of us present to register - wasn't going to happen, so we aren't registered :) . Apparently they didn't want to get into trouble over running away weddings. It was pretty straight forward in US though!

11:47 PM  
Suvendra Nath Dutta said...

the registrar wanted parents of both of us present to register.

This is a violation of the law. Only two consenting adults are required to be present. I've been present in registrations where the parents of either or one side were not present, for good reason!

9:50 AM  
Priyanka said...

hmm ... i think its wierd too that this is not already a law ... does it have anything to do with the idea that indian social laws uphold religious laws. What i mean to say here, is that registration was not considered necessarily a proof of marriage , like in hindi movies... all you needed was that a priest , a social function ... etc be able to pronounce you husband and wife. I suppose similarly for islamic marriages where the religious head performed the ceremony. I think this was based upon the idea that marriage was considered to be a social thing and like declaring it to your community ( whatsoever a community represents -- family, friends, close relatives, distant relatives,etc --- people who are interconnected and can be easily known to each other). I mean probably today, with couples being in cities and kinda having really geographically distributed communities :D ... so like laws need to keep track. Its kinda like the idea of having mandatory birth certificates no?.. earlier people never had them, coz there was hardly anything that needed to know how old you were , etc... and then there was this phase when havign birth certificates were made mandatory ..and this led to atleast quite some fake birth certificates... and then like its slowly gotta kinda get regularized with hospitals being responsible and issuing birth certificates AT birth which are like legal ones.
ah well .... now i am guilty enough to get back to work :D

4:19 PM  
Archana said...

Because Google took a stand against the US Department of Justice on releasing random searches around the same time that the China story broke, it is harder to use the Google/China case to examine a slide in American civil liberties - although I totally agree with you on the ideal strategy for the left. Google's PR team was genius if they were able to time those two issues at the same time.

We should all be concerned (and calling our senators and representatives) about the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. We should also be calling for a serious investigation by congress into the domestic spying scandal - especially since many of our fellow readers probably make international calls regularly...

1:50 AM  
Anonymous said...

Sept 29, 2006 was the end of Habeus Corpus in the USA. Good thing or Bad.
It ended in Germany in 1936 a very Bad thing.

4:03 PM  

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