Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Crows, Peruvian voters, Brazilian farmers, Indian theatre

Speaking of crows, according to nature writer Candace Savage, crows can make tools, play tricks on each other, and caw among kin in a dialect all their own.

As a sign of crows' advanced smarts, Savage cites Kacelnik's 2002 study in the journal Science on a captive New Caledonian crow that bent a straight piece of wire into a hook to fetch a bucket of food in a tube. "No other animal—not even a chimp—has ever spontaneously solved a problem like this, a fact that puts crows in a class with us as toolmakers," Savage writes in her book.

Go here, to see a video of a crow making that hook.

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And it would seem that Indians are not the only ones who make incomprehensible voting decisions. Peru has returned to power a man who led the country to the brink of destitution and despair in the eighties.

This article says -

'... shortages meant nonpowdered milk was an inconceivable luxury, and hours-long lines for food were a weekly occurrence... One woman described how her next-door neighbor was gunned down by Shining Path guerrillas; her friend talked about an uncle who was unjustly imprisoned as a Maoist sympathizer. These young professionals were spared the most horrific experiences of the 1980s—like mass executions in the countryside or outright hunger. Still, even as 10-year-olds they knew Peru's chief executive was grossly incompetent. And yet on Sunday each of them voted for Alan GarcĂ­a to be returned to the presidential mansion 16 years after he left in disgrace.'

The turn of events in Peru is mystifying, but awfully interesting. Also, please note that Peru has compulsory voting; there's a fine for those who don't vote. It would be very interesting to find out how the administration manages to keep track of who votes and who doesn't and what happens if people cannot pay the fine.

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Another bit from South America : landless farmers have decided that if the law will not do anything about land reform, they're going to break the law, under the aegis of the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST).

'The goal of the MST is to force the federal government to speed up land redistribution. Theoretically, the group has the constitution on its side. Much of the privately held farmland in Brazil lies fallow.... guided by the spirit of the legislation, the movement's strategy is to break the law....The MST has moved more than 300,000 Brazilian families from temporary quarters like the one in Sinop to permanent farm settlements. But the confrontations have levied a heavy toll. Police and landowners have killed more than 1,200 landless activists since the movement began in the mid-1980s...'

How many more will it take?

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Did you know that India could have more than 40,000 theatre groups?

I certainly didn't.

This article has much information about theatre in India, though it is essentially a review of Aparna Bhargava Dharwadker's Theatres of Independence.


Prerona said...

loved the bit about the crows - i like crows :)

Crazyfinger said...

On theater groups, see also this story about Spandan.


Vikrum said...

Hi Annie,

Writing this from Dharamsala.

Two years ago, I visited an MST parada in the state of Mato Grosso. An MST assimiento had won the right to several hundred acres of unused land and had an enormous party to celebrate this. It was one of my favorite experiences in Brazil.

In Brazil, the law states that unused land can be used by landless farmers/campesinos. And yes, there has been violence, but the PT (partido dos trabalhadores) has helped out more than previous parties.

One reason why this works in Brazil is because there is a ton of land and very few people (relative to India). Brazil is bigger than the US (minus Alaska), and has the same population as Uttar Pradesh.

A Crow said...

Crows! Somehow I don't find them so often in Delhi. In Lucknow it was always kau, kau...

Why on earth do they fine non-voters in Peru?

annie said...

persona: me too
crazyfinger: saw
vikrum: lucky you. would like to see it myself. and of course, India's problems go beyond redistribution of land. each country needs to find it's own solutions.
a crow: don't know why. but it is an interesitng idea, especially if you have the option of not voting for any candidate, and provided access to polling booths is easy.

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