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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

MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HAPPY NEW YEAR

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.