Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Condoleezza Rice and Indian diet

Fear-mongering happens in both directions.

It seems that the Indian media is all upset about the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's statement, "growing Indian and Chinese appetite is contributing to the global food crisis", on , on Democratic Underground, on Commodity Online. Also covered on

That would be an irresponsible statement indeed, particularly by the US Secretary of State.

Apparently the statement was made at the Peace Corps 2008 Country Directors Conference. Sounds like there should be a transcript available?

Here is the entire transcript of Condoleezza Rice's session at the Peace Corps 2008 Country Directors Conference

Search for India on that page, and you see that the remark she made was quite harmless:

The question was, "Many of us are in countries where the predominant source of food is grain, rice, et cetera. And I’m wondering about your thoughts about the U.S. Government’s thoughts about the skyrocketing prices of grain worldwide."

And Condoleeza Rice's answer that pertained to India was, "Secondly, we obviously have to look at places where production seems to be declining and declining to the point that people are actually putting export caps on the amount of food. Now, some of that is not so much declining production as apparently improvement in the diets of people, for instance, in China and India, and then pressures to keep food inside the country. So, that’s another element that we have to look at."

Later, her solution to this was to purchase food that was locally grown instead, "So, there are several pieces here that need to be understood better, but there are certain things that we know can work. One is: The United States needs to be able to locally purchase food. It would considerably drive down our transportation costs, it would considerably help markets in the market for local goods. Right now, we have to buy so much American and transport it that it really does eat away at our food aid dollars. And there is a bill on Capitol Hill that would help us do that. And I’ve been talking to a number of Congress people about trying to get that pushed forward."

That is the only mention of India on that session. Nowhere did she say that "growing Indian and Chinese appetite is contributing to the global food crisis".

Relax, people.

Update: Express India has picked up this story as well, as has the Mathaba News Network.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Will not use OOXML

After the mud that has been flung over the OOXML versus ODF issue, it is fairly clear that ISO passed OOXML despite very relevant objections that many countries had with it. India was one of the countries that decided not to pass OOXML through ISO, and I still stand by that decision. It seems that Norway and Sweden have serious corruption issues regarding their vote.

Groklaw has extensive documentation on OOXML and I recommend its resources. The Wikipedia entry on OOXML is also illustrative.

Standards are pointless if there are too many of them. In this case, ISO should clarify why another document standard was required when ODF was already an ISO standard.

Unfortunately, today ISO asked for a "cease-fire" by everyone with valid criticism against OOXML. I had no idea ISO and OOXML had such a problem with valid criticism. And this is even before it is fully accepted as a standard.

Listen to (Slashdot) geeks rake OOXML and ISO over hot coals over the issue.

Come on, ISO and Microsoft: address the criticism, and clarify the doubts rather than hiding behind a letter asking people to stop the criticism. Demanding that the criticism stop is a good way to encourage it.

Standards are also pointless if people don't accept them. Given how much resistance there is to the idea, we would all benefit if we just ignored OOXML as a standard, ISO be damned.