Posts Tagged ‘Narendra Modi’

Lamenting Modi’s absolute win is more phobic than rational

May 25, 2019

The point about phobias is that they are all irrational fears. A phobia is not removed by rational argument but by addressing and removing the underlying fear(s). “Phobic” assertions are futile then in a rational discussion just as “rational discourse” has no impact on reducing a phobic fear.

I have been hearing many people lamenting the absolute win that Narendra Modi and the BJP party have just achieved. They believe themselves – in the main – to be of the educated middle classes; to be liberal, secular and rational. Nearly all of them believe themselves to be atheists (conveniently forgetting that their atheism is existentially dependent upon others’ beliefs) and they are all generally contemptuous of those who profess themselves to be religious. They generally claim a monopoly over “reasoned argument” and dismiss nationalistic or religious claptrap out of hand.

But what strikes me is that their lamentations about the Modi win and the rise of dark, nationalistic and religious forces are more manifestations of a Modiphobia or a BJPphobia than the exercise of reason. It is not unlike the Trumpophobia that now dominates the Democrat discourse in the US. But just as in the US, the apparently “rational arguments” are subordinated to irrational fears and only carry the appearance of rationality. They end up being phobic assertions and lose rationality along the way.

Following the Indian elections the BJP, by itself, now commands a comfortable majority in parliament. The BJP with its allies now have almost two-thirds of the seats in parliament (353 of 543). Narendra Modi is unchallenged as Prime Minister and is perhaps the first to to have transcended some of the traditional block-voting patterns of caste and religion.

Back in 2014, I posted:

If Narendra Modi manages to break – or even to weaken – the debilitating stranglehold that caste and clan have on Indian life, he stands some chance of releasing the huge potential that is still buried deep in the country. Paradoxically, his brand (now mellowing) of Hindu nationalism may allow him the freedom not only to challenge the shackles of caste and clan but also to keep in check the extravagant expectations engendered by the pampering of minority groups (which was unavoidable with a coalition government).

I find the lamentations now lacking in reason:

  1. There was not a single individual among all the opposition parties who realistically aspired to be or (or was capable of being) the Prime Minister.
  2. There was no majority coalition of any kind remotely feasible without the BJP.  The option of the BJP not being in government did not exist.
  3. A parliament having a party with an absolute majority is more likely to be effective as a parliament and less likely to be disrupted than a minority or a coalition government. A BJP minority government or a BJP led coalition (and since BJP is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha) would have given India an impotent government.

India will have at least 5 more years of Narendra Modi and the BJP. From 2020 the BJP will likely have a majority even in the Rajya Sabha. The subcontinent is awash with fractures and fissures. My reason tells me that the chance of Indian potential being unified and harnessed is far greater now than it has ever been since independence in 1947. It is greater now than it was under Nehru and his phobias, and greater than it was under Indira Gandhi’s Emergency. I may not like some of the fanatics riding the BJP wave, but paradoxically, a strong Modi has a better chance of keeping them in check than a weak Modi.

I suspect that 2020 – 2024 will see a period of unprecedented growth of not only the Indian economy but also of Indian infrastructure and social welfare.


 

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High jinks for Modi in London

November 13, 2015

At least it allows him to forget (temporarily) the debacle in Bihar.

Best buds: David Cameron,narendra Modi and Boris Johnson – photo AP via Daily Mail

I don’t suppose he would have given his RSS salute while in London (which in terms of comic value always reminds me of Peter Ustinov in Romanoff and Juliet).

Modi RSS salute

Modi RSS salute

Even though the RSS salute is ludicrous enough it must be said, in his defence, that I do not recall that he has ever been photographed in khaki shorts and bearing his danda.

Is embarrassing Gujarat data holding back the Indian Health and Nutrition Survey?

July 3, 2015

According to the BBC, the massive undertaking that is the Indian Health and Nutrition Survey has been completed, should have been released in October 2014, was last issued in 2007 and even has an encouraging story to tell. But the data on Gujarat is not an edifying tale in comparison to other states. Economic growth in the state has not translated into any major advance compared to other states. In fact the Gujarat performance is worse than most. 42% of all children are stunted and half of all children are malnourished.

Is the report too damaging to Modi’s Gujarat story? And is it therefore being held back by Modi’s public relations managers? The official position is that the methodology is being reviewed. But it is more likely being held back to somehow massage the Gujarat figures. It will be difficult because copies of the completed – but not officially released – report are now available widely.

BBC:

Good health data is rare in India. The last time the country published a comprehensive, state-wide survey was back in 2007. So why hasn’t a vast survey of women and children carried out by the Indian government with the UN agency for children, Unicef, been released?

India’s so-called Rapid Survey of Children was a huge undertaking. Almost 100,000 children were measured and weighed and more than 200,000 people interviewed across the country’s 29 states. The final report was due for publication in October last year, the BBC understands. Yet, more than half a year later, the important body of data remains secret.

Leading development economist Jean Dreze describes the delay in publication as “an absolute scandal”. “All the neighbouring countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Pakistan and even Afghanistan have up to date nutritional surveys,” he says. “It is hard to account for a 10-year gap without attributing some sort of political reluctance.” …..

Looking just at the overall figures, India’s reluctance to publish the survey is rather surprising. It shows the country has an encouraging story to tell. Indicators of malnutrition are still very high, far higher than most African nations, but they are improving. Ten years ago, two-fifths of children under five were underweight, now it is more like a third.

However, the survey confirms large and enduring discrepancies between states, including the continuing strikingly poor performance of the Indian prime minister’s home state, Gujarat. As chief minister, Narendra Modi ran the state for more than a decade. His general election campaign was based on the promise that he would do for India what he had done for Gujarat.

Is anybody surprised?

In spite of Google apology, Modi still prominent in “Top 10 criminals” image search

June 4, 2015

It seems the Google search algorithms are all too easily subverted. I suspect that Google itself carries out “subversion” to put its favoured documents or images higher up in the list of “hits”.

BBCInternet giant Google has apologised after Indian PM Narendra Modi’s photos started appearing in the image search results for “Top 10 criminals”. 

“We apologise for any confusion or misunderstanding this has caused,” a Google statement said. Mr Modi figures prominently in the search alongside images of terrorists, murderers and dictators. Other world leaders on the list include former US president George Bush and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. 

Other prominent Indians who come up in the search include Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, lawyer Ram Jethmalani, fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt who is serving a jail term in connection with deadly blasts in Mumbai in 1993. “These results trouble us and are not reflective of the opinions of Google,” the company said in its statement released on Wednesday night.

But a search just now (screenshot below) shows that Google have not been able to correct their algorithms. In a Google image search for “top 10 criminals”, Narendra Modi appears 8 times among the first 40 images and more often than anyone else, even Osama bin Laden. I gave up counting after that but his image keeps cropping up. George Bush and Bill Gates are there as well. But I couldn’t find Tony Blair.

Modi as

Modi as “top 10 criminal” on google

The internet firm said the result was due to a British daily which had published an image of Mr Modi with erroneous metadata.

Really?

For 8 images out of 40?

It is pretty obvious that the results of a Google search do not represent a listing by popularity or importance. In fact the first 4 or 5 entries after the ads are often subverted. And switching from “News” to “web” to “images” or back again can very easily confuse the Google algorithms.

In any event it is best to assume that a Google search gives a list of mainly relevant results. The list is neither comprehensive nor objective. The ranking of hits on the list of is no real relevance since it can be so easily subverted and sometimes, it seems, the subversion is by Google itself. The first 4 or 5 “hits” after the obvious ads – for some searches – also seem to be sponsored in some way. Almost as if Google has overt and covert ads.

Pseudo-science and religious loonies: Modi needs to purge the riff-raff he attracts

January 7, 2015

Narendra Modi’s new BJP government in India has been a breath of fresh air after the stagnant, smelly and stale environment in which the previous Congress government had got itself stuck in. It is still early days yet but Narendra Modi will need to get to grips with his idiot fringe before they leach away all his gains. The loony, religious Hindu right feel empowered and and are making fools of themselves. The sad part is that they elevate bigotry and prejudice and religious violence as being justified for their “holy cause”.

The idiot fringe consists  – among others – of supposedly pious people (men and women) who claim that “goodness” is implicit in being a “Hindu”. They bask in the reflected glory of the supposedly great days of Rama but their grasp of history is a little less than zero and is mostly imagined. Their use of pseudoscience and their interpretation of ancient scriptures sounds like those who manage to read every current event into the soothsayings of Nostradamus. They threaten to make Modi’s government a laughing stock. Before too long Modi will need to purge the BJP of the lunatic fringe.

They usually make up history whenever – and wherever – they lack knowledge. They have started a campaign of reconverting people they claim were converted to Islam or Christianity in the first place. They are not averse to using violence in their self-defined “just causes”.  They include idiots who are Members of Parliament calling for every good Hindu woman to have 5 children each! The same MP called Gandhi’s assassin a “patriot”. They also tend to be the same people who inculcate the culture of feudal fiefdoms and accord themselves and their followers the right of “droit du seigneur”. The so-called “god-men” are perhaps the worst sexual predators around.  They not only allow but they sanctify the rape culture that is endemic in all of urban India.

They also include those who would claim that ancient Hindu culture was responsible for all the major inventions and discoveries of the last 2,000 years. This has led to a wave of pseudo-science which is perceived by the loony right as being “politically correct” and fashionable under the new government. Unfortunately many academics are too cowed down by their own perceptions of career and government patronage to resist the nonsense. Even the Indian Science Congress currently going on feels that it must give space to the the pseudo-scientists and the charlatans. Allowing pseudo-science is academic misconduct which is just as bad as faking data.

One entire session of the current program (Indian Science Congress 2015 program) is devoted to “Ancient Sciences through Sanskrit”.

Pseudo-science at the Indian Science Congress 2015

Pseudo-science at the Indian Science Congress 2015

The nonsense claims range from the origin of hominids being in India to Vedic nanoscience and elephant urine as fuel for powered flight.

Indian Express: The paper on aviation is part of a symposium on “ancient Indian sciences through Sanskrit”, and will be presented by Captain Anand Bodas, retired principal of a pilot training centre, and Ameya Jadhav, lecturer at Mumbai’s Swami Vivekanand International School and Junior College. ……. The abstract of the Bodas-Jadhav paper says: “Aviation technology in ancient India is not a tale of mythology, but it is a total historical document giving technical details and specifications. Ancient Sanskrit literature is full of descriptions of flying machines, Vimanas. “From the many documents found, it is evident that the scientist-sages Agastya and Bharadwaja had developed the lore of aircraft construction. Aeronautics or Vaimaanikashastra is a part of Yantra Sarvasva of Bharadwaja. This is also known as Brihadvimaana Shastra. Vaimaanikashastra deals with aeronautics, including the design of aircraft, the way they can be used for transportation and other applications, in detail.” According to the abstract, the knowledge of aeronautics is described in Sanskrit in 100 sections, eight chapters, 500 principles and 3000 slokas. “Great sage Bharadwaja explained the construction of aircraft and way to fly it in air, on land, on water and use the same aircraft like a submarine,” the abstract says.

“He also described the construction of war planes and fighter aircraft. This paper will deal with manufacturing an alloy for making aeroplanes, the specialised dress material being virus proof, waterproof and shock proof for the pilots. This was given by Bhardwaja sage in Brihatvimanshashtra. He had mentioned 97 reference books for aviation.”

According to the abstract, the paper will provide a short account of the special diet for aviators, and on “emergency food” for times when regular “fooding facility was not available or possible”, as recommended in the Aharadhikaran. “Bharadwaja has considered the climatic changes in the atmospheric levels while considering the dressing of the pilot. He has mentioned 25 types of viruses in the atmosphere which attack the human skin, bones and the body… In Vastradhikaran, he has given the reason for special clothing and the process of making fabric. After studying all above points, which are mentioned in Brihatvimanshashtra, we came to know that ancient Indian sciences and specially aviation technology was so advanced. The most interesting thing about the Indian science of aeronautics and Bharadwaja’s research was that they were successfully tested in actual practice by an Indian over hundred years ago. In 21st century, we should study and spread the achievements of our sages,” says the abstract.

Basking in a past and imagined glory!

BJP dumps Shiv Sena. As expected?

September 25, 2014

The 25 year old alliance between the BJP and Shiv Sena is finally over. Of course it was actually an alliance between Bal Thackeray and the BJP and without him the Shiv Sena is just a shadow of what it once was (and some might say that it was always a blight on Indian politics with Bal Thackeray – and being a shadow of a blight without him was a welcome shift to the light!). But the simple reality is that the BJP – at national level – does not need the Shiv Sena. In fact they are a liability.

ToIThe 25-year-old BJP-Shiv Sena alliance split on Thursday amid continued deadlock over seat-sharing for the October 15 Maharashtra assembly polls.

After several rounds of talks over the last few days, senior state BJP leaders announced on Thursday evening severing of the ties between the two parties, blaming Shiv Sena’s “inflexibility” for it.

“We have conveyed our decision to snap ties to Shiv Sena. The decision was taken with a heavy heart,” Maharashtra BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis told reporters after a meeting of the state party’s core committee.

While this split is just for the Maharashtra elections, it is effectively a national split since the Shiv Sena is a zero without or outside of Maharashtra.

After the Modi wave at the general elections it was only a matter of time. Back in July I speculated

The biggest credibility challenge that Narendra Modi faces is to convince Indians – and the outside world – that he represents something much larger, secular and inclusive than the narrow, religiously-bigoted  and exclusive position espoused by the RSS and some even more extreme Hindu nationalist groups. But he has to do this equitably but without giving the perception of appeasing the Muslim fanatics.

And he has to clean his own house first. His ally in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena, is now an embarrassment and a liability. Within his own party also there is no dearth of intellectually retarded loud-mouths. They are all now a burden and unless he cuts them down to size they have the potential to negate all his efforts to be  inclusive.

The Shiv Sena is a special case and I think Modi can afford to dump them. They have just made utter fools of themselves  ……..

……. The Shiv Sena remains a force – if only in Maharashtra – but they are in a declining spiral and my reading is that it would be least damaging for Modi to dump them now – early on in his term – and cap his losses.

 

Narendra Modi gets it (so does Abe but Obama doesn’t)

September 6, 2014

“Climate has not changed.

We have changed.

Our habits have changed.

Our habits have got spoiled.”

Narendra Modi, India Today, 5th September 2014

Narendra Modi needs to dump the Shiv Sena and crack the whip within the BJP

July 24, 2014

The biggest credibility challenge that Narendra Modi faces is to convince Indians – and the outside world – that he represents something much larger, secular and inclusive than the narrow, religiously-bigoted  and exclusive position espoused by the RSS and some even more extreme Hindu nationalist groups. But he has to do this equitably but without giving the perception of appeasing the Muslim fanatics.

And he has to clean his own house first. His ally in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena, is now an embarrassment and a liability. Within his own party also there is no dearth of intellectually retarded loud-mouths. They are all now a burden and unless he cuts them down to size they have the potential to negate all his efforts to be  inclusive.

The Shiv Sena is a special case and I think Modi can afford to dump them. They have just made utter fools of themselves:

IBNA video has now surfaced showing Shiv Sena Thane MP Rajan Vichare forcing a Maharashtra Sadan Muslim staffer to eat during his Ramzan fast. CNN-IBN has accessed footage which shows Vichare force feeding the staffer.

The video gives credence to the allegations that Shiv Sena MPs abused the employee and forced him to eat, even as the Shiv Sena continues to deny the claims. Shiv Sena MP Anant Geete in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday said that the claims being made by the Opposition are false.

DNATaking law and order into his own hands is not something new for Rajan Vichare, the Shiv Sena MP from Thane who force-fed a Muslim catering supervisor to break his Ramzan fast at Maharashtra Sadan last week. In the last 25 years, around 24 cases have been registered against the senior Sena leader in various police stations of Thane. 

Defending his recent act, Vichare said, “I was protesting against the quality of food at Maharashtra Sadan.” Later, Vichare was forced to apologise and issued a statement saying, “I regret if anyone’s religious sentiments were hurt. I did not know that the employee was a Muslim. I respect all religions and have even attended roza as well as iftar parties.

The Shiv Sena party leader, Uddhav Thackeray, has been engaged in some verbal contortions while apologising – but not seeming to apologise – and has been reduced to mumbling that it was all about the food quality and nothing to do with religion. But Shiv Sena is not the force it was when his father Bal Thackeray was in charge. Neither intellectually nor politically. When no party member dared to deviate from the party line as determined by Bal Thackeray. (I recall when I regularly used to meet the Minister of Power – who was then a Shiv Sena nominee in the coalition government of the time. First it was Suresh Prabhu and later it was Anant Geete. After every substantive meeting, I usually had to go to Bombay to meet Bal Thackeray and reconfirm whatever had been discussed with the Minister). Uddhav Thackeray does not have that sort of iron control over his party members and they are now apparently rushing around – the analogy is headless chickens – all doing their own thing. The Shiv Sena remains a force – if only in Maharashtra – but they are in a declining spiral and my reading is that it would be least damaging for Modi to dump them now – early on in his term – and cap his losses.

With his own party members Modi will just have to lay down the law and get rid of the intellectually challenged. And there are quite a few of them.

The BJP leader in Telegana, a certain K Laxman, of no great intellectual stature (and not to be confused with VVS Laxman), has been stupid enough to attack a leading Indian sports star – because she happens to be Muslim and is married to a Pakistani. He was idiot enough to attack Sania Mirza the tennis player. If there is one thing that unites Indians and transcends politics and religion and caste, it is sport. And cricket and tennis lead all the rest.

FirstPostIn a statement that could almost have been designed to reclaim the ‘pointlessly offensive’ tag from Shiv Sena MP Rajan Vichare, Telangana BJP leader K Laxman on Wednesday slammed the TRS government’s decision to appoint tennis star Sania Mirza as brand ambassador of Telangana, terming her a “daughter-in-law of Pakistan”.

“Sania was born in Maharashtra and settled in Hyderabad only later and, hence, is a non-local”, he told reporters, pointing out that she is married Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik. “If 1956 is the criteria for deciding the nativity of Telangana, where was Sania born and when did she come to Hyderabad? And whom she married should also be a criterion for selecting her.”

So much for aman ki asha.

The comment has predictably created an uproar with members of the TRS, the Congress and other opposition figures falling over each other to criticise it, and for good reason. The statement reflects a toxic combination of anti-Muslim bigotry and sexism that is the preserve of rightwing ideologues.

Can Modi break down the Indian millstone of caste and clan?

June 12, 2014

If Narendra Modi manages to break – or even to weaken – the debilitating stranglehold that caste and clan have on Indian life, he stands some chance of releasing the huge potential that is still buried deep in the country. Paradoxically, his brand (now mellowing) of Hindu nationalism may allow him the freedom not only to challenge the shackles of caste and clan but also to keep in check the extravagant expectations engendered by the pampering of minority groups (which was unavoidable with a coalition government).

The caste system in India probably represents the oldest surviving form of institutionalised racism in the world. It predates Hinduism and probably started first by classifying specialists by the virtue of their professions. That was possibly 5,000 years or 250 generations ago. But with sons following fathers in their professions heredity entered into the social classification. In due course – the caste system was probably hijacked by Hinduism and then evolved into a genetic classification defining social status and even “permissible” professions for each caste.

The caste system is so prevalent and so insidious that it can even survive religious conversions. I know of some Christian families – who converted to Christianity some 200 years (10 generations) ago – but where the pre-conversion caste still survives and comes into play when arranging a marriage.

Whatever and whenever the origin, the caste system is still so ingrained that the vast majority of Hindu marriages still conform to caste rules. In many parts of rural India, close to 50% of marriages may be consanguineous (first cousins) but this drops to less than 30% in urban areas. In many communities the level of inbreeding is reaching worrying levels. Development and improvement of living standards has given a slow reduction in these numbers. But very often the castes and clans are perpetuated by the very “affirmative actions” that were supposed to eliminate them. The advantages and privileges afforded by many of these programmes has led to whole communities fighting to retain their caste differentiation. They are committed to protecting – genetically – the purity of their “low caste” to retain the privileged status they enjoy within “affirmative action” programmes for education and employment.. The caste system still dominates political life in many areas and can lead to local and state governments often being dominated by a particular caste or clan. And when one particular caste or clan is in power they regress to a medieval feudalism and see the territory they govern as their fiefdom.

Modi made all the right noises when he addressed Parliament for the first time as Prime Minister and acknowledged that casteism and regional differences had damaged India. But the difficulties he will face in trying to root out the racism inherent in the caste system cannot be underestimated. An entire political party may be dominated by a particular caste or clan. The recent barbarism in central India is a case in point. Currently Uttar Pradesh has a government – it seems  – “of the Yadvas, by the Yadavs for the Yadavs”!!

FirstPost: The rape and murder of two girls in Badaun seems to have triggered a shake-up in the Uttar Pradesh government machinery which even the near-decimation of the party in the recent Lok Sabha election could not do. Not only has Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav transferred hundreds of officers, suspended more than half a dozen, withdrawn security or armed guards from dozens of individuals and dismissed dozens of nominated officials, but the Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav has disbanded party units at various levels.

But what the SP leadership has been unable to shake off is the popular perception that all the moves are more political in nature rather than an honest effort to actually change the way the state is being governed.  …….. the feeling has grown that the establishment is trying to protect the alleged culprits in the Badaun case despite the international outrage at the rape and murder of two cousins aged 15 and 14, whose bodies were found hanging from a mango tree in a village in Badaun district on 27 May. Preliminary post-mortem investigation had revealed that both had been gangraped and then hanged from a tree, and that the cause of death was hanging.

….. Mulayam’s nephew Dharmendra Yadav is the MP from Badaun and most of the police stations in the district – as well in the state – have Yadavs on the force. This phenomenon is typical of the Samajwadi Party’s reign in Uttar Pradesh and had been seen during the 2004-2007 SP regime also. “The ruling family in the SP has always been protective and supportive of the Yadavs, regardless of the criticism it attracts. The police recruitment in 2004 also reflected this. The perception among the Yadav community is very strong that the ruling family would go to any extent to protect their clansmen,” says a non-Yadav SP sympathizer. “In the Lok Sabha election the party lost all seats contested by non-family members, and it is now critical for it to consolidate whatever Yadav support it has in the community in view of the coming by-elections in the state, including Mainpuri which is close to Badaun.”

Indian Election: All over? Runaway victory for Modi as B/C ratio soars to over 4.6

May 16, 2014

It is definitely all over now. Narendra Modi will be the next Prime Minister and he will not have to depend on any allies for his majority. Even the Shiv Sena will be superfluous. Mamata in W Bengal and Jayalalitha in Tamil Nadu have had landslide wins but Modi will not need to be beholden to them. For the first time in 30 years a coalition will not be necessary. The Aam Admi party made a poor showing, reinforcing the view that they make a lot of noise but are scared of governing. Congress may get less than 50 seats (!!) and be reduced to little more than a rump.

1045: It is less than 3 hours since counting began and it is looking like a runaway victory for Modi and a melt-down for Congress. The B/C ratio is reaching stratospheric heights at 4.6 (318/69).

1030: B/C ratio soars to 4.05 (304/75). An absolute and a very comfortable majority for Narendra Modi is emerging. Post election haggling and sops to regional fanatics may not be needed. Varun Gandhi has won in Sultanpur. Rahul Gandhi is behind in Amethi. 

1015: B/C ratio now at 3.58 (301/ 84). Comfortable majority in sight for BJP. Profit taking apparent as Sensex comes off its euphoric highs. 

0945: B/C at 3.45 (287/83) while Sensex climbs 1400 points (5+%) today

0930: B/C ratio soars to 3.63. Leads Total: 436, BJP+ 243; Congress+ 67, Others 128. BSE Sensex up about 1000 points (4%)

0915: Leads: Total: 318, BJP+ 174; Congress+ 64, Others 80. B/ C = 2.72

0900 IST: Leads — Total: 296, BJP+ 165; Congress+ 61, Others +70. B/C = 2.7

The B/C ratio has been running at 2.5 – 2.7 through the first hour.

If the first hour of vote counting is representative of what is to come BJP will end up with around 2.5 – 2.7 times as many seats as Congress. So if Congress could end up with around 90 – 100 seats then BJP will get around 240 – 260. 

0800: Counting has begun. About 8,000 candidates, 1.8 million voting machines and about 550 million votes to be counted.


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