Featured Post

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has become one of the most reviewed books since and even before its publication in June 2017. The antici...

Friday, December 31, 2010

Absconding left

One of the things that has almost gone unnoticed is the conspicuous silence that has befallen mainstream politicians on the issue of bizzare and completely unjust conviction of Dr. Binayak Sen. Prominent individuals and different organizations have singularly condemned his sham trial and conviction based on evidences bordering on ridicule. The issue was raised by Amnesty International, so did Dr. Amartya Sen. The stance of thuggish saffron parties, though despicable, can, nevertheless, be understood. The case itself was brought and conducted by the Chhattisgarh government run by ideologically driven BJP. Congress party, for reason best known to it, is now on a definite lurch towards self-destruction. Where does that leave hypocrite pretenders of the left, who never missed an opportunity to project themselves doyens of the downtrodden? It is not only Dr. Sen and his concocted conviction where politicians from left have forfeited their moral right of carrying on those false pretensions but also on every other issue their rectitude completely deserted them. Because of virtual absconding, their irrelevance is total and consequently oblivion cannot be far away. Their absence from the national scene would hardly be mourned, were it not for the vacuum being filled by abominable fundamentalists of saffron brigade. Instead of realizing their sinister designs in recent continuous holding of parliament as hostage, leftist for petty gains have become pawns in the vicious game plans of the right. Those rightist elements being operational at several levels have permeated every strata of society and government. A sudden surge in the use of a section of penal code dealing with sedition cannot be accidental. Dr. Sen was charged and convicted for this alleged offence; a college teacher in Kashmir was charged for same offence because he allegedly set a question paper with a paragraph about situation in Kashmir. So were famously Arundhati Roy and Syed Ali Shah Geelani. It is sometimes puzzling to understand the authority that decides between seditious and non-seditious. Is that authority political or those security forces, whose behavior, in dealing with ordinary people, most of the times borders almost on sedition, adjudicate whom to condemn. A democratic system hinges on the premise of accountability and primacy of political authority; until and unless that principle is adhered to letter and spirit, it does not take long before edifice of polity starts crumbling.   
-Rajiv Kumar

Monday, December 27, 2010

Jaundiced rule of law

Dr. Binayak Sen, a pediatrician working for the poor has been sentenced to prison for life. I have not been too aware of the case but whatever is being reported or written, the conviction was based on flimsy and completely non-scientific evidences. Whatever, his belief, whatever his allegiances and his leanings, the manner in which Dr. Sen was denied bail until very late defies logic and rule of law. Despite intervention by prestigious organizations and reputed individuals within and outside India, courts including the highest in the country steadfastly repeatedly even refused him a bail, until a vacation bench of the Supreme Court relented that too because of his deteriorating health. Against all expectations of reason, on Christmas Eve, a district court sentenced him life behind bars for his alleged involvement with Naxals. The relentlessness with which the state apparatus applied itself in keeping Dr. Sen incarcerated and securing his conviction is in broad contrast to the way even cases against murderers are handled in India. Many years ago, a scion of an influential family mowed down a number of homeless persons sleeping on a footpath. He enjoyed the privilege of bail bestowed upon him by obliging courts until conviction. And in not too distant past even a murder convict was allowed a furlough. And classically, the owners of a cinema in Delhi, a scene of carnage due to negligent safety measures made mockery of judicial system until their sham sentencing. Instances of courts, even with clear evidences, acquitting murderers are not difficult to recapitulate. Nothing can match politicians. Notwithstanding, the severity of charges, the cases just disappear, otherwise in most probability most of the governments in India would be run from prison cells. The involvement of most politicians in ‘hawala’ if proved could have given them lifer. Why was then Dr. Sen pursued by a colonial zeal? Could it be that his work and of people like him threatens hidden vested interests? Media never highlighted his case until now, shouldn’t surprise any one as their agenda being different from what they profess. With Dr. Sen’s case in view, the filing of charges against Arundhati Roy can’t be innocuous any more. When a state stops being just and practices visibly jaundiced rule of law, the portents can be nothing but ominous.
-Rajiv Kumar          

Friday, December 24, 2010

Children of George Grenville

George Grenville, appointed Prime Minister by George III is believed to have triggered American Revolution through his intransigent insistence in imposing stamp duties on colonies so that Americans share amount British spent on their defense, According to Hugh Brogan in ‘The Longman History of the United States of America’ Grenville was logical, accurate and overwhelmingly well informed. In the present context, but for his greediness he would have made an excellent civil servant. Again according to Hugh Brogan, he had a horror of debt and immediately set about reducing vast liabilities accrued during the seven year war. He recklessly starved army and navy. And to cover an estimated cost of ₤372,774 for supporting forces in North America, instead of borrowing, he decided to tax colonies. Imaginative borrowing on the premise of wealth accrued from North America would have richly compensated the investment. But Grenville consumed by the fetish of debt reduction and the right of parliament to tax colonies went through the process that eventually ended in complete independence of colonies. How does it all become relevant in the present context? David Cameron and George Osborne with the help of latter day charlatan Nick Clegg have been with vulgar zeal doing everything to make lives of poor in Britain miserable in the name of debt reduction. They called themselves as children of Margaret Thatcher; their deeds seem to be more in common with George Grenville. The financial crisis were result of unregulated greed of financial institutes and with those back in ugly profiteering, Cameron and Osborne are punishing people who in the first place were rather victims not the culprits. The zeal with which they are depriving future generations their chance of education and other opportunities is more in keeping with Prince Charles once off the record remark that virtually translated into that high aspirations cannot be for everyone. In the making of a complete asymmetric society Tories have an ally in rabid media, who are doing everything within their prowess to destroy credibility of Liberal Democrats within the ruling coalition and to make them impotently powerless to stop further radical social engineering. A person of Vince Cable’s caliber must have realized the cost of challenging moguls like Rupert Murdoch, whose media empires across continents are conduits for conversion of democracies into corporatocracies.
-Rajiv Kumar

Note: The details on George Grenville are from book by Hugh Brogan ‘The Longman History of the United States of America’

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Let hope and peace prevail not only in the countries and regions but in the hearts and minds of humans; world becomes not only better but a just place for everyone!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Corruption and brotherhood

US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, at the very least and in no uncertain manner, confirm torture of detainees and human rights violation by Indian security forces in Kashmir. And this came at the time when the country is mired in a cesspool of corruption, which is virtually on verge of deluging everything. The murky picture gets murkier by the day. There is hardly an institute public or private that has escaped the fall into a deep abyss of cronyism. Indian business, politics, judiciary and media seem to be vying each other for attaining distinction in corruption. There are shadowy lobbyists doing bidding for their industrial masters and journalists providing conduit to political influence in getting pliable appointees and favorable decisions. Shrill-voiced media journalists while masquerading as guardians of nation; consort with the politicians on behalf of shadowy lobbyists for shoddy political appointments and deals. That should at least rest soul of those who never spare any opportunity in censuring the entire political clan and it should mightily hearten them that their brethren be it in judiciary or industry or bureaucracy in no way lag behind when it comes to being corrupt. Gagging of news of involvement of so-called prominent media personalities in influencing political appointments to suit their benefactors had a singular similarity to the exhibition of solidarity by the political class across the party lines in dealing with the morbid saga of Jain brothers’ dairies . Those dairies discovered a few years back by Delhi police while chasing terrorists, implicated almost all the politicians from all shades, with a few exceptions, in murky ‘hawala’ deals with proceeds indirectly in most likelihood going to the terrorists. That was one time when politicians closed their ranks and the offences that would have attracted charges of treason were neatly stashed away in courts and from the public view. There was never any demand for joint parliamentary committee to investigate and none clamored for investigation by independent agencies. Similarly now Indian media displayed an unflinching brotherhood and never investigated their own for their misdeeds. If there was ever anything worth to be investigated, that would be Abu Ghraibs run by Indian security forces in Kashmir where detainees, militants or mere suspects, have been reported to be tortured in more ways than one.   
-Rajiv Kumar                    

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tattered Obama Presidency

So it might be after all true that Obama presidency never took off; it didn't take off when he had a huge mandate; it didn't take off when he had a comfortable democratic majority in the house and envious filibuster proof majority in the senate. It didn't take off when his approval ratings were high; it didn't take off when barring, neoconservatives, all wished him to succeed. At every turn people waited him to pick up on the big ideas he touted during the campaign; fight against entrenched interests; unmask sinister Republicans for whom agenda always stopped at the welfare of vulgarly rich. World waited upon him to pick up the threads of negotiations in middle east so violently and deceitfully ruined by his predecessor; to lead world again on environmental issues; to bring peace in Afghanistan through negotiations and not escalation. But, alas, it never was to be. At least for now it can be safely concluded Obama proved to be no Lincoln; self-educated small time lawyer, whom every one dismissed even after his election saved union and delivered (or at least initiated) the country from the evil of slavery; but unfortunately, the office of presidency overwhelmed the first colored President who could not stand even up to his own professed ideals.
-Rajiv Kumar

Monday, December 6, 2010

Armed forces and civil societies

Below is an ad verbatim presentation of the statement issued by PRO defence on November 30, 2010 as it appeared in Kashmir Times on December 3, 2010. At this stage I would refrain from commenting on it except for pointing out the blatant disregard for the norms expected from armed forces in a civil society. -Rajiv Kumar

“A quiet Srinagar afternoon on 29 Nov was shattered by the familiar sounds of gunfire. Three well armed motorcycle borne terrorists were gunned down by the Police, while one policeman lost his life. This happened on the outskirts of demilitarised Srinagar. Terrorists had once again shown their presence for the second time in a month as if to remind the world that militancy was still alive and kicking in Kashmir.

The clamour to remove bunkers and thin out the police/paramilitary presence from the urban areas had compelled the Omar Abdullah government to give in. Though it appeared to be a well considered decision, but the latest incident has raised many questions. While it may have pleased a few hardline separatists and their ISI handlers is Pakistan, but what about the common man in the valley. The state capital has shifted to Jammu. Therefore, will the reduced security and visible absence of the security forces raise uncertainties, fear and doubt in the minds of the populace during the long winter ahead

The incident of 29 Nov cannot be wished away as isolated. Hopefully, it is not a precursor to many more to follow. It has clearly demonstrated the presence of hardline terrorist elements lurking inside cities and towns

It is a known fact that with the onset of winters, terrorists choose to seek havens inside urban and semi urban areas. This is even at the risk of being recognised or compromised. It would be foolhardy for them to therefore seek contact with the security forces within their own safe areas. But then why were these terrorists trying to move inside Srinagar during mid-day at 12 AM, and that to fully armed? Could they have had a larger scheme in mind. Were they possibly on a strike mission emboldened by the thin presence of the police and para military? May be a serious incident was averted. But there is a clear writing on the wall - that reducing security is not the answer.

Sources in the police and intelligence agencies who do not wish to be quoted still maintain that it may have been imprudent to thin out security forces from the urban areas. But political compulsions had compelled Omar Abdullah to convince New Delhi in the aftermath of the visiting all Party Delegation .Then there is also the talk of removing AFSPA from Srinagar to be contended with. How will those in power justify to the people if there are a few more incidents like this?

Meanwhile, the J&K Police needs to be complimented for their proactive approach in tracking and neutralising these terrorists. May be a deceptive thin visible presence on ground combined with effective hard hitting covert operations is the answer to conduct such counter terrorist operations in the present . But the lesson is clear. You cannot let your guard down, as this may be just be the tip of the iceberg.”

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Unfettered powers

Three more persons killed in Kashmir, security forces called them terrorists; families distraught over the loss of their loved ones. It is a story that has repeated itself over and over at one place or the other in Kashmir in last two decades. There are some points that merit consideration even without debating the status of the persons killed by security forces. It is hard to perceive that gunning down of human beings, but not their arrest, it would seem always comes as an instinctive first line of action. Even more disturbing is the use of killing of three human beings as a ruse for the military establishment to launch a tirade against the elected government of the state. Perhaps the military establishment more than anybody else is more interested in preserving its unfettered power through draconian armed forces special act than letting peace descend. The act always sounded an abstract invisible force until one reads lucid description of its unabashed usage by security officials and their minions in ‘Curfewed Night’ by Basharat Peer. It can’t be right when a nick on the face of a person from a shaving razor is enough for security personnel to launch barges into offices. It can’t be civil for dazed individuals to hear veiled threats for their not getting up from chairs upon menacing uninvited entrance of a military officer into their establishments. All under the coverage of armed forces special power act. The powers to be at the moment resemble more like drunken sailors that are lurching from one scandal to another; blissfully oblivious to a fundamental threat to the constitutional rule of law not from the outlaws rather regretfully from the security establishment itself.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pettiness and state of denial

Some Sushil Pandit represented by some Vikas Padora files a complaint and some metropolitian magistrate orders Delhi police to file charges of sedition against Arundhati Roy and others. Delhi police dutifully obliges. What are they going to do, arrest her and put her in a jail for ever like Aung San Suu Kyi or send her to some interrogation center like the ones authentically described by Basharat Peer in 'Curfewed Night' and used for mutilation of militants and suspects? Those mutilations paralleled the heaping of humiliations and miseries on displaced Hindus because officially everything in Kashmir was normal. Were it not for the miseries heaped on the all segments of the society barring the craftily influential, one would pity at pettiness of petty authorities and state of denial.  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Charges of sedition and the minions

Government of India plans to bring charges of sedition against Arundhati Roy and Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Without discussing their statements at this point I simply want to ask some questions. Isn't it paradox that mere expression of views brings charges of treason; Narender Modi, whose government presided over one of the worst ever mayhem against minorities continues to flaunt every single sham of an investigation against him? Why was not a single charge ever brought against Advani, who not only irretrievably vitiated country for ever but left a trail of needless killings in the wake of his thoughtless and reckless journeys across the country? Why has not a single person been charged for killing of Ehsan Jafri or murder of innocents through stage managed encounters in Gujrat? But petty minions in the government of India want to bring charges of sedition against Arundhati Roy and Geelani because they expressed their views.   

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Legacy of John McCain

Once the surrealistic excitement of any elections is over the lime-light squarely shifts to the winning candidate; even chest constricting pain in die hard supporters gradually dissipates and the losing candidate is hurtled back to the reality of the life. This is true for any election and even truer for US presidential elections. It is, in general, even hard to remember the names of presidential candidates who ran for the office in different times. Does anyone remember Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie or Thomas Dewey, who were mauled by Franklin D. Roosevelt in three elections subsequent to his triumph over Herbert Hoover in the wake of economic crash of 1929? Thomas Dewey, despite his being declared elected by the press, lost again to Harry Truman in 1948 into final oblivion. Dwight Eisenhower obliterated Adlai Stevenson, who had all the merits of becoming a great president. The history would, perhaps, have been less nasty, had Richard Nixon encountered a similar tryst with destiny. He rather sent Hubert Humphrey into shadows of darkness and went on himself to preside over of one the darkest presidencies in the history. Historians hardly ever search for the legacies of Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bob Dole or for that matter even John Kerry who tried, but was overwhelmed by the right wing machinery of stealth and deceit in his pursuit to liberate world from scorched policies of George W. Bush. Had Kerry won in 2004, his legacy would have been secured for shortening the sleazy and deceitful era; but that was not to be and Bush till the very end pursued the policies that divided world into unknown realms. That was until the US presidential election of 2008 that none of the presidential candidate upon losing election left a legacy with a deep and dark effect. That dubious distinction belongs to John McCain who despite losing election to Obama, nevertheless, let a genie in the form of Sarah Palin out of bottle without any effective means of putting her back. John McCain with all the flawed concepts ranging from support for illicit invasion of Iraq to possibility of attacking Iran still retained an upright posture on social issues. In a bizarre choice of Sarah Palin as running mate, McCain might have had hurt his whatever slim chances of beating Obama, but damage done to the polity by her running berserk has been even greater. That is the legacy of John McCain. Even the thought of his being elected and her being literal heart beat away from presidency was in some ways numbing. If knowledge about the damage wrought and deceit pursued by Bush presidency was not enough, the latest released secret papers bring about sobering reality. The war in Iraq brought more deaths than previously reported and in a quirk way increased Iranian influence in the region that US had been trying to contain ever since Shah went into exile in 1979. The manner of handling of Afghanistan by Obama administration, being far from inspiring, is rather a paradigm of shortsightedness. The account of Obama writing his own strategy, with the goal of placating the party, after military leaders failed to provide him one other than escalation cannot deliver anything visionary. Any Afghan strategy is doomed to fail until solution takes into consideration the fact that enemies US is trying to defeat are the same who were allies during cold war and were used and then ingloriously dumped and the whole place was condemned to mend for itself when not useful in the reckoning of power game. And misplaced overemphasis on the center at the cost of periphery is always perilous.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Obama-the presidency in prose

In last few weeks the news of unravelling of Obama presidency has transcended from fringe rabid conservative media to the mainstream news outlets. The transition from a popular to hapless occupant of the most powerful office in the world occurred at a speed that his not getting elected for the second term seems to be a foregone certainty. But regularity with which so-called pundits revel in shooting themselves in the foot leave a provision for being skeptic about their so-called declarations. That, nevertheless, does not answer the enigmatic spiral down of one of the most inspired presidencies in recent times. The phrase ‘You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose’ coined by former New York governor Mario Cuomo, used by the wily Tony Blair in his memoirs is a kind of revelation that daunts people entering the high offices and most of the time come to haunt them through their tenures. True to the last word, Obama’s campaign was sheer poetry that carried presidency for him and now it would seem that the transition to prose got stalled. The circumstances of his election were reactionary; eight years of unbridled policies that included a fraudulent war, exploitation of fear and curtailment of rights, presaging and stretching of economy for the very affluent, neglect of environmental issues and brazen contemptuousness for international organizations and treaties were the rallying points. The fraudulent policies coupled with unbridled corporate greed had much revered capitalism on its knees; with virtual abdication of the predecessor Obama rushed in to save institutions of capitalism to stave off the repeat of great crash and depression. While he averted great crash by lending money to those very institutions that in the first place had run riot with the system; he never followed to salvage miseries of those affected by the fraudulent banking and mortgage outrages. Times when Obama assumed charge of General Motors and Chrysler, the people losing houses and jobs never got any relief. He put himself in realization of grand visions whose benefits would take years, if not life-time to percolate, while dire times demanded immediate relief. And whatever he did it went unarticulated. Paradoxically, those banks that Obama helped, while back in the morass of profit making and distribution of filthy bonuses, are bank rolling Republicans who would guarantee their continuous immorality. The bleakness at the moment is overwhelming and Republican taking over Congress seems to be certain and they never showed any remorse in undermining Obama in any circumstances and in any manner, be it calling him an anti-colonist Kenyan or a socialist. Truth has never been their virtue but being venomous is natural. The rest of his presidency will be shaped by his zeal to take on Republicans. As a matter of fact, their protestations notwithstanding, Republicans have never been paradigm of virtue. During the impeachment of Bill Clinton, they lost two speakers due to their extramarital affairs that included born-again Newt Gingrich. Their ranks shine with the likes of Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon and more recently Sarah Palin, if one doesn’t count Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, Glenn Beck and of course Fox News. Those liberal lunatics who think Obama has betrayed them need to realize the fact of having likes of Dick Cheney back in the reckoning. President Obama needed to govern in prose but one needs to comprehend that the transition from poetry is never smooth.         

Thursday, October 7, 2010

They can't help themselves

They cannot help themselves; they are uncouth; they are brazen at distorting fact; they are unabashed pretentious; though they tried to pretend but their deceit within gave them away. Lal Advani is feeling vindicated about his 'rath yatra' and in other corner thuggish Katiyar is crowing for legislation to build temple. Pretenders even forgot that the judges while delivering the verdict, one mired in mediocrity, gave an order for maintenance of status quo for a period of three months. And it is within the grasp of even the lowest wits that an appeal to the highest court will be a natural course and the case will end through all the echelons of justice. But no, despite claim to the contrary, thugs immediately went to the business of harnessing a political capital; but sadly enough for them the banks they used to loot have gone bankrupt. Did it ever occur to Advani that his foolhardy antics have cost human lives or that Ram is more of a concept devised for attainment of higher purposes than creating mayhems? Did Taliban stoop any lower than the thugs of Sangh when they demolished statutes of Buddha in Bamiyan? Why is it that the old fellow even at 84 cannot help himself and displays his legendary immaturity? Didn't he, despite being part of NDA regime as deputy prime minister and interior minister, declare in his memoirs that he was not privy to the decision of handing over of the terrorists to Taliban? His praise of Jinnah and volte face upon admonishment by his masters of RSS! Now again while professing compliance to the verdict, mischievously comes up with idea of mosque outside the complex. Advani was indicted by Liberhan commission as one of the key persons who was intellectually and ideologically responsible for the mosque's destruction. Shouldn't he be facing criminal justice instead of leading fresh assault towards building a temple and holding country hostage to a religious frenzy all over again?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Judgment

Gloating over one issue has never been so nuanced. Nevertheless, the court verdict on Babri Masjid has enchanted almost all, though the motives and reasons being different. It is being shrouded under epithets of wise, just, appropriate and enlightened, as it orders, the site be divided between the litigating parties and everything over to the next round for grinding in the Supreme Court. Is the verdict wise, just, appropriate and enlightened? What about those who perpetrated the horrendous crime by organizing mobs and inciting them into frenzied pulling down of the historical monument through deceit and stealth? The structure may or may not have been built at the site of a pre-existing temple but when thugs went to work on that dark day of Indian history it was a monument they pulled down along with pride of once tolerant and secular country. Do they get to build the temple at the site and feel vindicated for not only pulling down an edifice but also for bringing down the entire fabric of the society for once and all? What happens to those law enforcement officials whose dereliction of duty on that dark December 6, 1992 caused mayhem on that day and the days and years to follow? Does anybody remember that the despicable violence in Gujarat was a consequence of the demolition through an incitement that is anathema to Hindu tolerance and way of life? How about the dissenting judge who thought mosque was built against tenets of Islam? What were the clinching evidences or was the judgment allegiance driven like the notion of native origin of Aryans? And most importantly, what about those thuggish leaders who participated in planning the mayhem for whom the divinity had only one meaning? Do they get to celebrate their acts of unpardonable commissions? Will it be likes of Advanis, Katiyars and Tagodias, who in reality should be behind the bars, leading the construction of temple at the site granted by the court? For years before and after committing the crime against the entire Indian nation, they had been operating on a single agenda of converting the psyche of Indian masses through doses of religious intolerance. And succeed, they did. That brought them closer to the power and they used that to hilt through rewriting history and playing havoc with the psyche of Hindu middle classes while maintaining the façades of occasional farce tolerance. The judgment leaves nothing to gloat and in effect reflects the creeping decadence and deep abyss where the criminal perpetrators get a feeling of vindication and seekers of justice even hesitate to express dissent for the fear of retribution.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Things Indian-Kashmir to common wealth

Even a slightest interest in Indian affairs can ensure permanent absence of boredom. The velocity, at which bizarreness and scandals churn out, certainly leaves observers gasping while trying to keep pace. But remarkable feature remains the retention of stoic shamelessness and lack of remorse in face of barrage of criticism, howsoever genuine. The week that went by is enough to demonstrate remarkable denial land in which the country inhabits. Despite misgivings the all party jamboree to Kashmir did exceed expectations through civil display of common sense by non-BJP politicians. Even though they being hamstrung by ‘within the constitution’ humbug, nonetheless, it was a gesture that could mark the beginning of boring in frozen arctic. Though a part of the team that went to Kashmir, the thugs of BJP could not help themselves from bitching against even against courtesy calls and back in Delhi are hoarse in predicting weakening of Indian position because their colleagues from other parties met separatist. Any keen observer cannot help noticing that BJP has its fingers in many pies; it is yearning itself back in sinister games through coincidental (may be!) cascade of events and hoping to reap everything in the aftermath of a court verdict on Babri Masjid. The thugs never ever even for a moment think about the havoc they wrought on the society through their antics and that shameless Lal Advani till this day celebrates his infamous ‘rath yatra’; shouldn’t he have realized that perhaps misuse of divine cost him Prime Ministership that he so desperately yearned.

But back to Kashmir; that is still not solved and will not be through either denial or wishful thinking unless hard choices with deeper considerations are contemplated. The problem remains that the basic premise of any step that Indian government initiates is faulty from the start. The solutions come only when problems are dissected and faced head on with due consideration for all tangibles. Throughout there has been absence of the realization that it is the people in Kashmir that demand an end to Indian rule, not of other parts of the state. Therefore, the solution can only be in understanding the reason of such demand and making genuine efforts to address those grievances, if it is not too damned late. May be that is too simplistic but to understand that the problem is Kashmir, is of course, simple but intricately hard, otherwise the mess wouldn’t be there. But does someone genuinely believe Indian government for that matter Indians can solve any thing given their penchant for creating mess everything they literally touch. Do common wealth games deserve a mention? It is not the malaise of grotesque disorganization itself, which is scornful, but rather it represents everything that is wrong with concept of the governance in India and nationhood. Why in the first place the entire pride needed to be invested in a sports event organized under the banner of out dated common wealth, unless one starts reminiscing the mess created by the British empire from India to Ireland; Mesopotamian to Persia. Even importantly people can indulge in any blame game but the sickness originates from over centralization. Why every major event, be it sport, culture or debauchery has to be in Delhi. Why does the organization of a sporting event in an autonomous city needed to be supervised by federal government. Any body with any recollection will do well to remember the corruption in India increased exponentially with increasing centralization. Hypothetically, if Olympic Games in Atlanta city would fail, blame would have been on Atlanta city not on the government of United States or entire country. The over centralization has ramifications beyond sports though in the earnest the current mess would have been an exclusive perverse of Delhi and now entire India has been sullied. Complete autonomy, not only Kashmir, is genuinely deserved by every state, every city, every village and every single unit. That could be route to the solution of many problems and, if not heeded to, cause of many future problems. An attention by Mrs. Gandhi to Anand Pur resolution by Akalis might have avoided the events that became inedible blots on India.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kashmir once again

The Indian government, vis-à-vis Kashmir, finds itself in a quandary of its own making. One could, nevertheless, sympathize, as there are not any ghosts left any more except for its own for appropriating blame and finding scapegoats. There are no creative ideas left or rather there were never any except for reactive haggling that constantly alternated with approbated complacencies. One month with low levels of violent incidences or a stage-managed and statistically manipulated election would send powers to be into hubris of mission accomplished and problem solved. Except that the problem was never dealt with and worse, was not even understood or more appropriately, misplaced nationalistic notions prevented its being rationally understood. Kashmir is not the only place in the world with intricate, entwined and complex issues that can thwart any solution. The solution for the issue of this magnitude requires hard choices, overcoming prejudices and a fundamental refrain from assigning ulterior motives to every action of the people who matter in Kashmir. For any right thinking government paramount priority should be the humanization of the place and restoration of human value and dignity. Deliberation in Delhi with a bunch of individuals, many of who didn’t even know Kashmir on map, and then skirting the main issue of partial withdrawal of illegitimate armed forces special power act was nothing but contemptuous and deliberate act of exhibiting the casualness of the approach. The partial withdrawal of the act from the valley would have displayed a barest shred of sincerity on the part of Indian government and under no circumstances jeopardized the security of the country. Instead of acting, government has let it drag to the proposed jamboree of all-party delegation visit to Kashmir in order to find facts and still expecting Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to perform miracles. Bizarrely, the armed forces have been given a free reign to air their opposition to any dilution to the draconian act so that security personnel continue their midnight barges into homes and heap humiliations. Manmohan Singh, now Indian prime minister for almost seven years, has been the architect of current Indian affluence and through unintended but cruel entwined growth of chasm between rich and poor. It would now be appropriate and behove his statesmanship to address the issue of Kashmir with the zeal that he once applied to economics. He has been now in politics long enough to know that ultimate solution has not only to be political but also the premise of primacy of political authority and political solution in a democracy should be made clear. The methods used for countering armed militancy cannot remain in force for dealing with unarmed protests, which is the case now in Kashmir; one fails to understand the hesitation even in discussing its partial removal. One can understand the position of thugs of BJP; their foolhardiness; logic never spoilt them but their sinister-ness can never be ignored. Convergence of the views of BJP and armed forces smack of more than a dead rat. Bringing in the statistics of increased infiltration across the border in conjunction with agitation in Kashmir can be no more than concocted disinformation to subvert democratic government from taking any political step to diffuse the situation in Kashmir. Any idiot, watching situation in Pakistan can tell that the country is fighting its own battle against insurgents in almost two-thirds of the territory and has been left crippled by devastating floods. Thus increased trafficking of insurgents from Pakistan is more of a sinister imagination of vested interests on the Indian side of the fence. It is up to the Indian secular parties, if there are any, to be guard against ugly designs of communalist elements and join hands to address the issue of Kashmir through appropriate and timely measures with emphasis on restoration of human dignity and values. These goals would require hard-strive without preconditions and without ignoring any person or party of any affiliation or ideology. But Indian government requires to do in urgency is to make supremacy of civilian authority clear with reigning in of chiefs of armed forces.      
-Rajiv Kumar     

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Idiots at work

This is a quote from a report in Kashmir Times on all-party meeting that deliberated on Kashmir "Former Prime Minister Devi Gowda had urged participants to allow representatives of Jammu and Kashmir parties the NC and PDP to speak first and apprise the meeting the ground situation so others can comment and suggest measures. But hardly anybody paid heed to him and speakers after speakers from Shiv Sena to Janata Dal (U), Telgu Desam, DMK, Trinmul Congress, some with elementary knowledge of Kashmir and some with almost no knowledge mixing up facts and fiction delivered lectures."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Trouble in Kashmir-a democracy in peril

Kashmir is in turmoil again; well that is not the news, it has been in turmoil since summer or more accurately since many summers. May be my cynicism is over powering me because I started for seeing the trouble in Indian democracy itself. Indian democracy has been through many eras of troubles and even through the times when everything seemed to be lost, only to see it emerge not only unscathed but even healthier than before. It has been that very democracy in its chaotic form that even enabled a multinational and disparate country to not only remain united against odious odds and dubious premonitions of pundits, rather allowed it to stake its place as an emerging economic power house on its own at the world stage. All this has been possible when despite all short comings the country never let go of its chaotic democracy and democratic rules always prevailed and civilian democratic institutions held precedence over everything else. In contrast to neighboring Pakistan, army and allied institutions were always held subservient to the elected civilian authority. Fading out of Field Marshal Manekshaw under Indira Gandhi after his misspeak in press and dismissal of Admiral Vishnu Bhagat by the Vajapayee government represented the high points of Indian democracy putting it in same league as the dismissal of roguishly brilliant General Douglas MacArthur by Harry Truman. The intransigency and insensitivity on the part of successive Indian governments to address the Kashmir problem is not only making any solution intractable by the day but it has started eroding the very core of Indian democracy that has sustained India as a country. The promulgation of completely undesirable armed forces special power act to deal with armed insurgency becomes a complete anathema in democracy if allowed to deal with stone pelting crowds demanding their rights. Epithets of incompetence hurled at Omar Abdullah by vicious rightist saffron thugs become meaningless until he is able get very genuine demands including abrogation of armed forces act fulfilled. A completely unnoticed and out of character development has been the public airing of opposition against removal of the act by the forces including chiefs of the staff. This opposition by security services is being played to the hilt by shameless BJP and will eventually prevent even a semblance of progress on the issue. Syed Ali Shah Geelani is able call shots in Kashmir because insensitive Indian regimes never offered any concessions when moderates were in ascendancy. And worst of all, in the guise of insurgency in Kashmir, the military officials continued to make statements beyond their mandates. Omar Abdullah is not asking for withdrawal of the infamous act from entire state but only from the districts where unarmed people are demanding their rights and where armed forces have not been and should not have been asked to intervene. The situation in Kashmir through blatant mishandling has reached a point of no remedy but it is the Indian democracy that is reaching its peril by allowing civilian authorities to be pushed by the subservient institutions. To let decisions drag at the time of mounting civilian casualties and to let hardliners set agenda are never signs of a healthy democracy. Offering of concessions never bring down the countries but stupid intransigencies do.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Obama-presidential moorings

These days Obama hardly resembles the leader who was elected President against all odds; nevertheless, the biggest factor that contributed to his being elected was a catastrophic predecessor. But since then again against all hype and hope Obama has spectacularly lost his way just eighteen months into his presidency. Though it may be ironical it starts to look that history might be cruelly repeating itself. The year was 1976 and Jimmy Carter from being Jimmy who was catapulted into the White House as the country was looking for a salvage from dark saga of the Watergate scandal and wanted to leave behind the ignominy of Vietnam war and its after affect on the American society. Painfully the Carter Presidency never took off and it soundly wound up at the end of one term to make way for the incorrigible Ronald Reagan who not only carried entire right behind him but also bound independents and substantial democrats to himself throughout his two-term Presidency. Is it happening all over again? Does Obama increasingly start looking like Jimmy Carter? To the horror of many the answer at the moment would be undeniably in an affirmative. Ironically, the Obama Presidency started immediately upon being elected and much before being inaugurated. The economy was floundering and George W. Bush on a cue from equally inglorious Republican President Hoover was performing an act of masterful inactivity. It was during those days when President-elect Obama appeared on the scene along with economists like Paul Volker, Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers and many others to reassure the country and world; he was equally instrumental getting stimulus packages through the congress. Nevertheless the corporate greed coupled with disastrous logic practiced by the predecessor had pushed economy into much deeper abyss than perceived. The abyss stared hard at common people while the corporate capitalists even made profit out of the turmoil. Somewhere along the way Obama lost the sight of the fact that in the eventual reckoning of success it is the 'stupid economy' that after all matters and in those dire times Obama should not only have put his diligence into economy but at the same given it a high visibility to assure the independent voters who in the first place elected him. Obama's grandiose dream of building consensus a la Lincoln was doomed from the start. Abraham Lincoln did not live in an age of sound-bites and did not have a rabid talk show host loudly wishing him failure on the day of his inauguration. Though, Lincoln did reach Washington for inauguration in a disguise to dodge a rumored assassin. Nevertheless, while seeking consensus Lincoln did not shirk from hard decisions otherwise Obama wouldn't be President today. Any astute politician must have known that after Rush Limbaugh's diktat no Republican would dare to support any Obama initiative and that should have sent him full throttle towards attaining his agenda in first two years with Democrats in control of the Congress. But that was not to be. He did as Jimmy Carter did though not exactly in the same manner. He squandered. We might never know the reason and will have to wait for historians to tell us. But squandered, he did. He had all right thinking people wishing him to be successful and advising him strategies to put economy up front. The cliché silver lining in the dark cloud has never been truer than now. Though it is very probable that Republicans in November will take control of either one or the both houses in Congress and will start reveling in dirty investigations all over again but that might at the same provide Obama an outside chance to prove his fighting character all over again. The scenario is grim to imagine; as Paul Krugman wrote that the spectacle of government shutdown during prosperous Clinton years may not be as amusing in these hard times. On a brighter note Obama can still be re-elected in 2012 only if grizzly moose hunting Sarah Palin manages to attain Republican nomination to join the immortal club of Barry Goldwater and Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Brazen agenda of communalists

This was not my day of writing; I didn't want. But then something disturbing provoked me into it. It all seems to be complacent that communalists are lying low after being crushed in the last elections. But the truth is they are not; they are eating the very grass-roots and they are spreading their venom using innocuous channels. They are active in holding their camps in places like Ladakh with obvious target being security personnel; in their scheme of things Buddhists of Ladakh hardly count. Remember when Liberhan commission pointed out to the infiltration of the government and the administration by communal forces at every level and which according to the commission continues to thrive. That didn't happen overnight and again they are not doing it overnight but only difference is now they have become brazen. Otherwise their stage managed enactment with so-called student representatives from Kashmir and deliverance of admonishments would have been circumspect. The worrisome aspect is inclusion in their ranks of journalists and other so-called eminent up-starts who sternly delivered oft-repeated mantra of India not yielding an inch on Kashmir. To delve into the question of state of things reaching such an impasse that the very communalists who were clearly beaten in the elections have temerity to raise their ugly tentacles one might invoke divinity but the very reason are the people and organizations who seem have to lost their sense of responsibility in conjunction with the loss of reason. The political parties on the left were at their admirable best to keep communalists away from getting into power until arrogance and egos took over. What else does explain their joining hands with communalists? And complete bizarre unexplained phenomenal silence of progressive parties on pressing situation like Kashmir in particular and the Maoist movement in general is yielding space for communalists to fill in. It is those parties that should be pressing the Congress government to make steps towards a just solution in Kashmir instead of letting communalists set the agenda. The enactment of farce by communalists through holding so-called discussions with the representatives of Kashmir does not mean that BJP and its allied organizations underwent overnight heart-transplant and replaced with the one that is filled with sympathy for Kashmiris. Their gimmicks are meant more for gullible ignorant Indian middle class, their ultimate vote fodders, whom they want to assure about theirs being a nationalistic party. Otherwise their behind the scene anti-activity, at the time when an agreement on Kashmir through back-channel diplomacy  was on the verge, had reached obscene level. Again they could not resist obscenity even during the stage managed conclave and here I quote Tarun Vijay from his blog in Times of India "Jayant Chaudhary was candid. "You want peace, right?" And everyone nodded. So friends, peace as I read somewhere, is like lovemaking. You have to keep your eyes shut and let the process take its course. Coming on a dialogue table with preconditions spoils the game." For me to put this line from the ugly blog "Kashmir's 'Azadi' with the tricolor" by Tarun Vijay was itself a low point. But then I wanted to make a point. How can these communalists be sincere when their government in Gujrat stage managed encounters to kill innocents and if they really had a change of heart they might ask who killed MP Ehsan Jaffri.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sanguine Choices

In the last few days the Indian newspaper have finally taken time from their routine trivia to notice the unrest in Kashmir and come out with sanguine advice to the Indian government to resolve the matter within the ambit of constitution. Though, it was quite gratifying to know that those newspapers while busy in reporting on matters like butt of John Abraham could spare some thoughts on precarious situation in Kashmir. But at the end one would think it is probably in the interest of the nation that idiots continue to concentrate on those matters and leave Kashmir alone, if their propositions do not allow them to go beyond the ambit of constitution and they do not see the writing on the wall that the current movement in Kashmir is nothing less than 'Intifada' in making. The self-strangulating beliefs of national pride; not yielding an inch; and Kashmir being integral part will only bring harm and disrepute. As an aspiring power India can raise its stature through magnanimous choices, which include just and proper care of all sections of society. After all, it is people of all hue that constitute a country and that too for a country like India that derives pride from its diversity. Virtually for the last two decade if not earlier India has been ruling the land in Kashmir while forfeiting hearts and minds of the population through wanton suppression. For once the within the ambit of constitution mindset needs to be rethought before irretrievability attains permanency.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wolves who are not even ashamed about their being wolves

BJP questions PM’s Kashmir autonomy remark

TIMES NEWS NETWORK & AGENCIES, Aug 11, 2010, 01.10pm IST

Then somebody tells me it is just like any other political party and they are not wolf in sheep's clothing

Monday, August 9, 2010

Kashmir conundrum-the human cost

The turmoil in valley took militant turn in 1989. Estimates on the number of people killed, directly and indirectly, in the conflict have largely varied with attendant accusations of over and under-estimations. Nevertheless, that doesn't answer the core question 'Does the exact number of casualties really matter?' Hasn't the greatest casualty been loss of innocence, an integral part of Kashmiri psyche? And worse than all has been the loss of human dignity and value. No one can underestimate loss of human lives that left hardly any family in Kashmir unaffected. Loss of family members, close and distant relatives, friends and acquaintances, prominent personalities and innocent unconcerned individuals must have left a void no unaffected individual can ever understand. I don't think even a book could lessen the grief of Fatima Bhutto over the violent loss of her father. But worst fate is left in store for the living, which besides grieving for their dead, are left to bear the brunt of all miseries and indignities. The violence perpetrated by the militants in the valley has been matched by the armed apparatus of the state. The number of people dead is compounded by disappearance of individuals without a trace, and their kin are left in a space between convulsing despair and unbearable hope. Does anyone in any sanity believe that a population can be won over by unbridled repression; through midnight knocks at the doors by security forces; by shutting down the entire localities and keeping populations out to weather elements; by being constantly strip searched and shouted and shoved at the check points? An unnoticed aspect of the entire sordid saga of violence in Kashmir has been loss of lives of underpaid security personnel and undoubted despair of their families that never makes it to any headlines. Like any predictable shoddy old tale, the scenario of felling of one or two security personnel in a patrol due to fire from a single sniper and berserk indiscriminate retaliations, have been repeated time and again from one place to another. In my naivety I have always asked myself about objectives, if there are any other than filling in of log books, of those security patrols in densely populated areas of the valley achieve, except for provoking fury in general public; becoming targets of miscreant snipers; bringing further alienation through indiscriminate retaliation and causing avoidable casualties of innocents. True Kashmir has been allowed to simmer as part of global power-play and has always been brought curiously back into, rather than back from, the brink, whenever, vested interests felt threatened from the possible ascendancy of normalcy. But digging into the roots and causes doesn't bring any solution until human values and dignity are brought back to the population and misplaced use of violence as mean to find a solution is discarded. And for attainment of those goals paramount onus lies with the Indian government who solely can take necessary measures that include: 1) back channel diplomacy involving eminent and influential people from Kashmir; 2) removal of use of force from equation and complete abrogation of Armed Forces act; 3) restoration of human dignity and institution of a semblance of transparency (how do those families numbering 1000s reconcile, whose members have disappeared); 4) and as Manmohan Singh once declared stars can be limit, Indian government should declare wider autonomy and even if by doing so government loses its majority so be it. If it could withstand assaults of communist parties against nuclear deal it can sure survive onslaught by rightist elements on this also and make India better in the long run. To start with instead of heaping miseries on the days of national celebration government can try to reach out the population through aiding affected people; providing health care facilities; improving power supply or through any other damned humanitarian way instead of organizing sham celebrations with entire population shut down. Independence Day is approaching and the mock spectacles will be repeated all over the valley. May be one is being too naïve to hope for any change; how could vested interests tolerate any infringements into their cozy world; one needs not to forget that those mock parades, mock unfurling of flags; and everything associated keep huge amounts rolling.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kashmir conundrum-2

Having superficially dealt with legendary official Indian competence vis-à-vis Kashmir does not absolve other players -big and small- of their sins in creating the mess as it is in Kashmir. I think if a finger can be pointed to any single entity for all the ills then I think prime candidacy for that dubious distinction goes to the Kashmiri leadership starting from Sheikh Abdullah or even earlier. Every single local leader has lived and made others to live in concreted deceit, unshakable self-denial coupled with misplaced self-confidence of getting hold of best of all worlds. Whatever the fundamentals of the partition of the sub-continent; the anomaly chosen by the Kashmiri leadership was not backed by the population in general. It was dithering Sheikh Abdullah who opted for accession with India when every reason sided for an accession with Pakistan. And when things started getting tough, he started dreaming big dreams, which could never become reality. Worse of all, the trappings of power proved too tempting for every single leader who never hesitated to ditch any shred of principles and had no scruples in utilizing any means for furtherance of their petty interests. Needless to say, whatever the fault of Indian government, the government in Kashmir was always in hands of local leaders. If elections were not conducted and people were not allowed to vote, that was done most of the time at the behest of the most popular party of the time National Conference. When rest of India voted in first general elections in 1952; in Kashmir ruling National Conference had nominations of opposing candidates rejected in most of the constituencies, a phenomenon that was turned was turned into a state-of-art by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad and nimbly utilized by the subsequent Congress led governments of Ghulam Mohammed Sadiq and Syed Mir Qasim. It was not until 1970s that finally elections were allowed to be held and people could vote but even then the most popular leader Sheikh Abdullah and his political party could not and did not participate. The first and perhaps only time free elections ever held in Kashmir was in 1977. But again there is a caveat, the moment during campaigning for 1977 elections the National Conference realized down turn in support that it spread rumors of Sheikh Abdullah being mortally sick to garner sympathy and votes, which they did, though Abdullah Sheikh went on to live until 1983 out lasting and out foxing all erstwhile political allies, and appointing his son as an heir apparent. The heir apparent did dutifully assume the mantle of the Chief Minister and made sure that next elections became one sided affair through intimidation by his party, despite every indication pointing to their victory as the opponent was none but Congress party. Since Congress in Kashmir manifested face of Delhi, the local population reveled in voting against it and in a curious way provided a vent for letting out the built up resentment again Indian government which never lacked incompetency in projecting its villainous image. Though the use of intimidation in 1983 election was not frowned upon by the local population; but it did take sheen away from the legitimacy of National Conference victory, and that became a ruse for the ugly removal of Farooq Abdullah by the Grenvillesque Jagmohan. Farooq Abdullah could be Chief Minister because of being progeny of his father; otherwise he aptly qualifies as an example of total mediocrity and incompetence who during all his tenures in power could achieve nothing except steep corruption and non-manageable chaos, which in any case with every passing generation got steeped into way of life and is in no way a lesser cause of the mess. The history at the moment is being repeated with the third generation of Abdullahs. The political decadence in the state paralleled with deterioration of the service sector, with major culprit being power supply. The visible prosperity starting in 1970s in the valley was coupled with forced misery in wintry darkness that never advanced the cause of state or the central governments. Though in this instance responsibility lied with the local politicians and they never proved anything but corrupt but totally apt in misusing every single fund from any source. And for any local leaders when goings got tough, they never hesitated in misleading people through raising the issue of independence. Another aspect that in no small measure impacted developments in Kashmir is the omnipresence of die hard fringe element, which never deviated from their belief in the role of Kashmir in larger pan-Islamic configuration rather than being slave to infidels. The events on the ground aided by greedy local politicians, incompetent central government and rigid bureaucracy, not only led from one misstep to another but allowed in no uncertain measures the fringe element to exploit the alienating undercurrent in Kashmiri population. And when push came to shove both central and local governments joined hands in ensuring that fringe politics becomes central. In one master stroke of ineptness National Conference led by Farooq Abdullah, which represented the local aspiration joined in an electoral alliance with Congress party led by Rajiv Gandhi, thus creating a vacuum to be filled by all those elements who always wanted separation from India. That culminated in infamous election of 1987 and the events, thereafter, acquired an engine of their own. None, neither central nor state government could do anything but watch events unfolding in total helplessness. With every passing event smugness and ineptness of central government started becoming more and more visible. When negotiations could have brought situation back from the brink; it opted for use of force. When legitimate National Conference government asked for more autonomy; central government retaliated by passing a resolution on Kashmir in parliament for it being integral part of India. Now the time is already too late. Solution cannot come from within the framework of Indian constitution. It would require hard and magnanimous decisions, which would be objected by fringe and hard-line elements everywhere. Because, the perpetuation of trouble in Kashmir would benefit hard core elements of all colors.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Kashmir conundrum

I wanted to write about Kashmir long time back but then always deferred for things to calm down from the preceding cyclic violence in order to avoid being overtaken by hideous emotional zeal. When it comes to dealing with Kashmir or more precisely with the situation there, the logic seems to be first victim. The misplaced frenzy on the part of those closely involved and those not even remotely involved takes surrealistic shape. Bizarreness on the part of latter is completely baffling and it rather displays dangerous mix of arrogance and ignorance than any reasoned and informed knowledge about the place and its history. The common refrain in Indian minds being that Kashmiri people are being misguided and incited by Pakistan and other foreign elements is just another ignorant humbug. The truth that the recent unrest in the valley was spread from one end to another belies that misguided notion; though, it would be naïve at the same time to rule out the roosting by external forces. That under no circumstance justifies use of brutal force unleashed by security apparatus of the state. Leaving aside for a moment the blaming game, a few fundamental things regarding Kashmir require consideration. The much often repeated 'mantra' of Kashmir being integral part of India does not hold any sanctity and in fact it never did. Like any fundamental truth it is a common knowledge that people of Kashmir, no matter what, do not want to be part of India, period. And that is the reality, which can neither be wished away nor explained by inexplicable excuses. To delve into the question 'why people of Kashmir don't want to be part of India?' one needs to open a complete encyclopedia of incompetence of Indian ruling class from time immemorial. History is replete with missteps, misdeeds both deliberate and malicious in conjunction with arrogance and, worst of all, in combination with brazen ignorance. One doesn't need to go too far back in time, one just has to dwell at a short-time window between creation of Bangladesh in 1971 to the execution of Bhutto in 1979. That was time when disenchantment in valley with Pakistan was complete and for once there was a collective but silent relief in minds of Kashmiri people for being part of a democratic country rather than Pakistan where an elected president had just been despicably executed. Zia-ul-Haq's effigies were burnt all over Kashmir and Jamait-e-Islami people were hounded into hiding. Fast forward to 1988 and when Zia died in plane crash on August 17 that year, people in Kashmir deeply mourned his death that was coupled with a total shut down and completed with an imposition of a valley wide curfew. Saner minds and serious and competent governments might have asked; how did status of Zia changed from a pariah to messiah? The answer is shear incompetency, arrogance and ignorance of the Indian rulers. The intervening events that shed light on those assertions are illegal, illogic and ill-conceived dismissal of a democratically elected government of Farooq Abdullah, installation of a corrupt puppet local government in place and most damaging being the presence a divisive figure of Jagmohan as a governor of the state. If anybody ever embodied Indian insensitivity towards Kashmir, there can never be a better example than Jagmohan. His leap to famed administrator originated from his overzealous servitude to Sanjay Gandhi during ill-conceived Indian emergency when he specifically targeted Muslim areas of Delhi in a drive towards beautification. Thus appointment of a governor, with such credentials, of a sensitive state in itself is a testimonial to the sensibility of Indian government and he (Jagmohan) lost no time displaying it by removing Farooq Abudullah and taking over administration after a short interluding puppet regime. One of the decisions of his administration was ban on selling of meat on certain days of Hindu festivals. Here was the much revered administrator at his imaginative best. These might eventually turn out to be just foot notes in the history but nevertheless these underscore the issue of Indian insensitivity in dealing with Kashmir and its population. As the events there after dashed towards total collapse and at every step Indian authorities were left gasping for a response. But the only consistency displayed by all successive Indian governments has been a total lack of imagination. Otherwise, how else was the then governor Sinha allowed to create a mess of gargantuan proportion over the land transfer issue or how else were petty bureaucrats allowed to shell out communalistic agenda from the then governor's office. The worst case scenario, in my opinion, that went completely unreported was that when new committee for Amarnath shrine was constituted under new enlightened governor, it did not include a single Muslim as a member. Amarnath shrine was discovered by Muslims and is revered as much by local Muslims as by Hindus. And Kashmir, particularly in rural areas, was always religiously integrated with a very thin dividing the two faiths. How authorities did choose to be so insensitive? Could it be possible that the well being of vested interests are higher than the state? Once again during latest round of violence in valley the Indian insensitivity and lack of understanding was at total display through use of indiscriminate force and complete harassment of local population. That is not how civilized societies function. When it comes to Kashmir, India as a state failed at every stage. It failed to capitalize when things were going in its favor; it failed to protect Hindus and in fact state under Jagmohan encouraged them to flee that place; it failed to provide dignity to any community of Kashmir because of its heavy reliance on use of security forces and bureaucrats who have nothing but their own ax to grind.
-Rajiv Kumar

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

UK election-3

I am tempted to make a prediction; defying all polls I think conservatives will end up with a sound majority and the Labour will fare worse than any polls are able to predict. No body will be happier than me if I turn out be wrong. But my impartial guess is that there will be a Tory government in place on Friday and which will have only path to tread; down the hill all the way. The anti-incumbency sentiment has time and again proven to be a power when unleashed can sweep away the very remnants of the discredited governing parties and send them into oblivion. At the end I couldn't help adding this quote from the lead article in today's Independent "We also recognise that Labour's decision to pick up the banner of electoral reform has all the moral conviction of a sinner recanting on his deathbed." They had the mandate and majority for thirteen long years to make electoral system more representative but temptation of securing big majorities with less than a third of popular vote was too endearing to be given up.

Monday, May 3, 2010

UK election-2

The only thing clear thus far is that Labour will not be the governing party on Friday morning and most likely David Cameron will be heading either a minority government or at the most Tories might even manage to limp to the post with a thin majority. The loss of Labour being an inevitable reality that can only be stopped by something complete unforeseen, in short, nothing less than an unlikely miracle. However, should Labour win this election; that will only prolong their eventual political wilderness for a long unpredictable period. Anybody remembers James Callaghan, Michael Foot or Neil Kinnock. On the contrary a Tory victory at this juncture will be nothing short of an albatross around their neck as the issues facing new government are beyond any solution with a right scope of bringing down not only next government but many after that as well. Once imperial and largest colonial power, the country has the distinct claim to being the fountain head of democracy but not always the ideal and tolerant one. The current democratic scenario is left to the mercy of tabloids that know no limits when it comes to spreading rabid intolerance. The way all political parties bend on their knees to get nod from those very tabloids is a gauge of the depth of mediocrity into which the democracy has descended. The reactionary conservative media is master in muddling and mixing and distorting facts and issues; be it Europe or immigration. The reactionary press hailed conservatives will arrive at power with an ax to slash down public spending. George Grenville wanted colonies to pay for themselves. Hugh Brogan is wonderfully right when he said it is wrong to say people never learn from history but rather they are marvelous at learning all wrong things. How can one expect Tories to govern straight; they aligned themselves with fringe extremist parties in Europe. At the end it will serve conservatives right to run a government with deficit levels worse than that of Greece. May be Labour with Gordon Brown in the treasury caused it but it was simply pandering to the tabloid culture of the day which thrives on gossip and reckless spending and anything other would have earned them wrath of electorate much earlier. No matter how the Daily Telelgraph distorts the facts, the truth remains that Gordon Brown was the architect of the plan that saved world from last financial crisis. Nevertheless, end of capitalism wouldn't have signalled end of the world itself.  

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Corruption and society

Legendary Indian corruption being what it is; it is way of life not just an aberration. Though many a times politicians are the easiest scapegoats for all the ills afflicting society including corruption but a mere scratch would very easily reveal it is not just politicians but one and all who are either directly corrupt or are corrupted due to their very condoning, conniving and ignoring corruption. There are corrupt officials and if officials are not corrupt their sub-ordinates are; if not sub-ordinates then it would be superiors and still worst are the demanding spouses whose pride level thrives proportionate to the level of forcefully induced corruption in their gullible bitter halves. Then there are tax evaders and their abettors and worst of all and who wouldn't stop at anything while filling their coffers are the corporate scoundrels for whom no profits are too high and no means are too mean; no lack of ethics is unethical; no greed is too greedy, thus, feeding and thriving on each other at the same time corroding the entire edifice. Those all forces of greed and corruption work in remarkable concert and tandem. It is hardly an exaggeration to make a statement that corruption permeates every strata of society and forebodes ominous portends.      

Thursday, April 22, 2010

IPL fraud

Sometimes back I wrote that an extravagant phenomenon like IPL should have never happened. It smacked of nothing other than brazen display of wealth. It has been demeaning for the country, if that still meant anything, and more importantly it has been demeaning for the game of cricket itself. Despite changing formats cricket always retained an aura of sobriety, which has been recklessly trampled by allowing this debasing and meaningless circus to proceed and make mockery of everything fair associated with a noble game. And what is coming to light now, which anybody should with any sense of rightness have expected that the process itself has been nothing but a front for money laundering, accumulation of black money and letting underworld thugs to make hay. The brazenness with which it’s so-called chief executive went on challenging from one authority to another; be it government on election schedule or English Cricket Board on county cricket time-table; that, itself, should have caused concern and led to an appropriate and timely action. Leaving that aside the very process itself was another step down the road with bold proclamation of an era where everything can be and is being bulldozed by the affluent. If people or powers to be are still amazed at the growing Maoist movement they just need to sense the growing decadence manifested by the processes like IPL cricket and everything associated with it. The rural areas still lack drinking water; the residents of north-east are still under siege; Kashmir has still not been solved; the country lacks infra-structure for basic necessities; electric supply remains erratic and everything else is topped with ever increasing rampant corruption. Shyam Benegal didn't exaggerate when the lead character in his latest movie calls corrupt officials worse than terrorists. India doesn't need to fear secessionists demanding separation but the real fear comes from as Arundhati Roy said from the rich who have long time back seceded and insulated themselves in a stratosphere away from the concerns about the outcome of their deeds.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Perils of great power

All of a sudden there is a talk of growing threat of domestic violence in US with general hatred levels reaching unprecedented credenda. One of the biggest questions is against whom this hatred is directed or more appropriately one can ask what could be the cause of the hatred. The answer without mincing any words is Obama and reason is the frenzy created by the bigoted radio talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and out of control hatred mongering Sarah Palin. And strangely none of the political leader with the exception of former President Jimmy Carter ever acknowledged the racial nature of the prevailing hatred. Democrats are sitting too complacent or too afraid to address the issue; Republicans are too gleeful to see their game being played all over again. So called tea-party activists have all overnight become Jeffersonian and started naively talking of grabbing power back from the federal government. This phenomenon has been shamelessly played by Republicans; whenever they lose power they arouse passions to frenzy and bring back the eras, which are better forgotten. In the last century, Republicans answer to Roosevelt's nation saving new deal and elevating the country to the status of super-power was paranoid McCarthyism that ended up destroying many lives. Lyndon Johnson's fair society was followed by Nixon Watergate. Republicans didn't have to do much to destroy Clinton presidency as he himself handed them a knife, which they used with a relish bordering on disgust. Fairly enough, no one sympathized with Clinton for wasting a talent that could have been used to spare the world from the hell and fraud perpetrated by his successor. Now suddenly Obama has everything that can go wrong in the eyes of conservatives and if one is to believe he is an outright socialist and plans to turn US into a communist country. One thought one would see naivety finally bottoming out but in the context of US it seems to be a bottomless creature. One can see the limits of presidential powers; with Democratic majority in the both house and senate he cannot even imagine to appoint a true liberal justice to the highest court. Jeffersonian activists cite bank bail outs and health care reform as examples of federal government going too far. Well that brings to the point where we started naivety knows no limits.

Monday, April 19, 2010

World-at large

So many things happening; Iceland volcano eruption causing air taffic chaos worse than ever seen since 9/11; Liberal-Democrats suddenly leading in the polls in UK and making Tories jittery; foot-in-mouth Shashi Tharoor finally gone; Polish president burried; Pope facing worst crisis; then there was Nazi-style legislation from Narender Modi government wisely rejected by the governor. Somehow I didn't feel like commenting on any of this.

  • Kuch to parhiye ke log kehte hain,

  • Aaj Ghalib ghazal sara na hua !!

Friday, April 16, 2010

UK election-part 1

UK will go to polls on May 6 and for the first time since 1974 outcome seems to be bordering on uncertainty. Predicted hung parliament is setting conservative media and the city into frenzy as if the end of the civilization is near. In many ways the country itself has been reduced to an anomaly. While almost all west European countries due to their rational proportional system of representation get coalition governments, the British system based on first past the post results in the disproportionate representation in the parliament and the parties tend to get inflated majorities without requirement for consensus building for government formation. And with time those brutish majorities tend to degenerate into decadence and resultant disjointed decisions. Any coalition government based on minimal consensus building would definitely have prevented Blair from plunging UK into a fraudulent war on Iraq. Coming back to the election on hand, it is likely Tories will end up in forming a new government and may even shine for an interim period before plunging into intra-party civil war on the singular issue of Europe. Barring the war on Iraq the Labour government, notwithstanding venomous reactionary conservative media, has on the record been thorough and effective in pushing an entirely new agenda in Britain and moved it away from inhumane Thatcherism. Nevertheless, the proverb 'power corrupts' has ad virtue of being true and so Labour needs to do some penance by languishing in opposition without falling into the trap of a class war.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Congress compares Narendra Modi with Dawood Ibrahim

Hell no congress has got down to the level where they are now insulting Dawood Ibrahim. Narender Modi is a criminal with a veneer of politician. Whereas Dawood Ibrahim never claimed himself anything but an underworld gangster. Debate on Modi is another indicator the overall decadence that has wrought society in totality. Industrials and film stars bend in all direction to curry favor of the person whose regime presided over worst killings and made minorities look hapless in their own homes. Some people might draw parallel with exodus of minorities from Kashmir. One wrong cannot be corrected with another wrong. Government of the day failed in Kashmir but the government in Gujrat under Modi brazenly perperated and participated in crime against humanity, for which not only he but entire the then NDA regime functionaries including Vajpayee are guilty. It doesn't take too long to remember infamous speech in Goa where Vajpayee defended Modi and thus effectively declaring himself complicit in criminality of Modi. One does not need not to even dwell on the role lesser lights of that infamous NDA regime like Advani and others, who never had any qualms about anything they did or spoke.    

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Self righteousness and salvation

Self-righteous people thinking of salvation universally resolve to stay away from politics otherwise their attainment of whatever will be impeded no matter the dubious ways they might have tread in reaching that momentous point of becoming pure in life. Those cherishment and desires are extreme and utter examples of self-inflicted naivety and represent an extreme simplistic view point that do not take into account the basic fallibility and intrinsic inbuilt complexities of human character. It is hard to define and delineate a human being as pure. Though one can strive for achieving a perfect harmony but then one is again talking of self and that would be helpful if everybody would be living in a bubble but that definitely is not the case. At some level betterment of society has to come into fore for realization of a livable world. Actually now I am coming the main point. What surprises me is the equation of political leadership with criminality and opportunism. It didn't have to be like that nevertheless it did happen. The reason is not the criminals manning the politics but because the noble souls tried not to muddle themselves in a thankless profession and they rather tried to attain 'nirvana' for themselves. Imagine if Franklin Delano Roosevelt had judged against a career in politics, probably the world would be under Nazi domination. One doesn't need to imagine deep what it would been like if Churchill had thought same about politics. And what about Gandhi himself, he was not opportunist from any point of view. Unfortunately one would wish things would be simple but those are not and the reality is that there are far greater overlaps and many more colors in kaleidoscope that one could ever imagine that no political thinker or philosopher did, certainly nor did John Lennon.

Monday, March 22, 2010

US health reform and Indian emailers

It was one of the rare so called triumphs of good over bad when finally US congress voted for Obama's health reform. To say that the measure will redeem Obama presidency is an understatement. Much greater than mere redemption was at stake. The scene in the US congress or outside was anything but decent with outside protesters being instigated by soon to be losers Republican congressmen from inside. No abuse was spared to demean democrats and shamelessly racial slurs were freely used. Newt Gingrich even went to the extent of exhuming Lyndon Johnson, the last president to push through a far reaching reform. That was all in the news. I am just trying to remind the Indians who are never tired of slurring their politicians through emails, circulated from their cosy living rooms. For them enumerating criminal cases against parliamentarians seems to be a healthy sport. Did it ever occur to them that politics is a noble profession more than any other or at least it involves harder work than the corporate embezzlers can ever imagine?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Arun Shourie, the rabid ideologue

Arun Shourie represented one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated in the name of investigative and whatever journalism in India. He tried to pretend himself as a voice of down-trodden and masqueraded to champion against everything evil with the congress government of Indira Gandhi. It was a spectacle to see his mask come off so-easily and hard-cored chauvinistic features were in open display. Did Ram Nath Goenka know that his one-time protege is a literal wolf in sheep's clothing and that he would be one day a shameless defender of a criminal like Narender Modi. A slight deeper analysis would have easily revealed that given the chance Arun Shourie would be an ideologue of saffron movement par-excellence and given his way with words and his capability of distorting facts at some point he would have become more dangerous than the devil itself. Fortunately things didn't go the way Arun Shourie would have liked and after humiliation of sangh brigade in last election he even went to the extend of pleading with his RSS masters to bombard BJP head quarters. I remember in one of his holier than thou column in the Indian Express he had preached the idea of a limited democracy with an empowered chosen executive. My answer to his preachings would be that Indian nation should be thankful to the divine conjunction that people like Arun Shourie's wishes don't (always) come true. One of the biggest contributors to what some people think (including Arun Shourie) as economic boom has been the chaotic Indian parliamentary system. Even to the extent it has been this very system, with all its intrinsic flaws, that let country survive through difficult and turbulent periods when at times everything seemed to be lost. The country survived those times when prophets of gloom like Arun Shourie predicted nothing but doom. People like Arun Shourie occasionally come up with the idea of jettisoning the very system that has enabled country to survive. The sole agenda in such arguments is to assure survival of 'parallel' elitist India. So that what Arun Shourie calls an empowered executive can protect the vested elitist interests. The mere fact that a Dalit woman could become Chief Minister of the largest state in the country is by itself is an achievement, which people like Mr. Shourie treat as a threat to their agenda. In the world history examples are galore with consequences of strong executives. I am sure Mr. Shourie knows when an elected European leader in 1930s decided to do away with the parliament and rule his country directly with his henchmen. I hope Arun Shourie and his ilk don't have that kind of executive in mind. The problem in India is not its democratic system (legislative) but rather the attitude and doings of the elite class which Arun Shourie and his ilk would like to protect. Why don't elitist encourage their children to serve nation by joining politics. Certainly answer to that question is not in the removal of the system but rather in strengthening it. Experience of past decade has definitely shown with all it flaw the parliamentary system works even in the era of coalitions. One of the fundamental requisition for prevention of descent of a democracy into totalitarian system is built in grid lock that makes making any change in the constitution a herculean task. Any keen observer would draw satisfaction that finally Indian democracy might have arrived; the bill on women's reservation is an example. No government shall be able to push through any amendment without building a true consensus. That is a sign of a healthy democracy and not a sign of inefficiency as the ignorant elite may think it to be.
One of the common refrains that viciously circles elite living rooms is that everything connected to politics is unclean and every politician is a corrupt. The advent of mass media instead of spreading information has been as a matter of fact used by vested interests to spread ignorance. The emails detailing criminal cases pending against members of the parliament circulate among those who never pause even for a smallest moment to earn by any means. Is corporate corruption any lesser evil evil than political corruption or it just a difference that the latter are out in front of press and former get help from pliable accountants to cook their books and look savvy so that they can pass themselves as above any law. The last economic crisis was not caused by the corrupt politicians but by rather greedy corporates and their captains whose despite bringing down the entire world down still remain unpunished and what is even amazing they brazenly remain unfazed and given another chance they will repeat it all over again. Those are the very elites whose welfare bleeds the heart of men like Arun Shourie.