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Elephant in Syria’s Bronze Age

Elephant bones have been found in Syria dating to the late Bronze age and it is possible that they were imported from India.

During the excavations season 2008 of Tell Mishrifé, bones of elephant have been found in a Late Bronze Age context. Discovery of elephant bones is not usual in Syria. They belong to infrequently occurring mammal species and their bones seems to appear in contexts dated up to the Middle Bronze Age. The questions arising are about the species identification and the occurrence of the elephant in Ancient Syria. One proposition is the import from India. The cultural and technical development of three great oriental state-levels societies during the 3rd and the beginning 2nd Millennium BC, the Harrapian Civilisation in the Indus valley, the Mesopotamian Civilisation and the Egyptian Civilisation led to the emergence of an intensive, evidenced as maritime, trade in the Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea with some sites on the Arabian peninsular region playing an important role as primary trading places. The trade centred on a variety of luxuries but also on raw materials. The appearance in Mesopotamia and Levant during the 2nd Millennium BC of exotic species originated from India, plants such as sesame and animals, such as domesticated fowl and zebu, are also a hint for relation between Mesopotamia and India-Middle Asia though by what route remains unclear. The elephant presence in Syria could be related to the same trade.[The elephant in Syria via Carlos Aramayo]

The following posts talk about the trading network that existed between the Harappans and the people of Ancient Near East: Trading Hubs of the Old World – Part 1, Part 2, The Indus Colony in Mesopotamia – Part 1, Part 2

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Layoff Patterns

In Saudi Arabia

In a move that may affect hundreds of expatriates, including Indians, Saudi Arabia has asked all companies in the kingdom to fire foreigners first, if they have to layoff staff. “Labour offices are instructing companies to start with foreigners first, if they have to sack staff,” the ‘Saudi Gazette’ quoted Muhammad Al-Hamdan, head of the labour office in the eastern province, as saying. [Sack expats first, then locals: Saudi govt to cos- The Economic Times]

In United States

A perennially contentious issue, the H-1B visa has drawn fire in recent weeks as layoffs have multiplied. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told Microsoft it should lay off guest workers before “similarly qualified American employees.” Grassley has co-sponsored legislation to give priority in hiring to American workers.[Layoffs mean more than lost wages for H-1B visa holders - San Jose Mercury News]

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Kerala and San Francisco

Last month, members of DYFI and the Merchants association ransacked a Reliance retail shop in Paravur.The police did not bother to prevent this and no one was arrested. In
Kerala, the politicians and business groups have decided that a
consumer should buy only from shops run by them and not from
supermarkets run by Reliance or Spencers.

Over
the last one month I have been talking to people and visiting places to
find the reasons behind the agitation against retail shops.
Interestingly the retail shops targeted are all based in India
(Reliance, Spencers etc.). There are two main reasons behind this
agitation

1. The majority of big retail
business is controlled by certain groups. They are the main people who
are funding this. In Kerala if you pay money you can hire a lot of
anti-social elements. It is estimated that there are 4 million
unemployed youth here!

2. In many places,
politicians have a stake in the local retail shops or supermarkets.
They know that there substandard supermarkets cannot compete with the
efficient shops run by Reliance or Spencers. [Reliance retail shop ransacked by criminals at paravur]

Thus when a Malayali goes on his mandatory exile, a place he can settle
down comfortably and get the ambiance of the home state would be San
Francisco. This is a place where supervisors are working on legislation
to ban all chain stores

The city’s restrictions on new
chain stores have become increasingly tough over the past few years. In
2003, the Board of Supervisors approved a law requiring proposed
coffeehouses and pharmacies to provide notice of their intent to open.
That made it easier for opponents to request Planning Commission
hearings and to argue against the stores.

In
recent months, however, chain store owners with applications before the
Planning Commission have encountered renewed hostility and skepticism.
Some commissioners have stated flatly that they don’t like chain stores
under any circumstances. [S.F. grows ever more hostile to chain stores ]

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Dependence on Globalization

kerala-river

Define Irony: Malayalees opposing globalization.

The Kerala model of development, as an alternative to market economy has been touted by economists like Amartya Sen, but it turns out that the money order economy of Kerala is not practically applicable to any part of the world, including Kerala.

Plagued by chronic unemployment, more Keralites than ever work abroad, often at sun-scorched jobs in the Persian Gulf that pay about $1 an hour and keep them from their families for years. The cash flowing home now helps support nearly one Kerala resident in three. That has some local scholars rewriting the Kerala story: far from escaping capitalism, they say, this celebrated corner of the developing world is painfully dependent on it.

Without migrant earnings, critics say, the state’s luster could not be sustained. The $5 billion that Keralite migrants send home augment the state’s economic output by nearly 25 percent. Migrants’ families are three times as likely as those of nonmigrants to live in superior housing, and about twice as likely to have telephones, refrigerators and cars. Men seeking wives place newspaper ads, describing themselves as “handsome, teetotaler, foreign-employed” or “God-fearing and working in Dubai.” [Jobs Abroad Support ‘Model’ State in India (via email from Mohan)]

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More Hans Rosling

(via Indian Economy Blog)

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