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Paatal Lok: How abusing Hindu gods passed your muster, Ms Anushka
I cringed watching Paatal Lok.  Kutiya (bitch) is a word used in everyday life for a women of no-character. A bed-hopping adulteress. In the serial, a...
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I cringed watching Paatal Lok.  Kutiya (bitch) is a word used in everyday life for a women of no-character. A bed-hopping adulteress. In the serial, a kutiya is named “Savitri.” The name which has a pious association for all Hindus since it tells about “Sati Savitri” who made Yamraj (God of death) return Satyavaan for her exemplary devotion to her husband. Many metaphors with Savitri are routinely used, e.g “Badi Sati Savitri bani phirti hai. (Don’t act as you are a Sati Savitri).”

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I cringed watching Paatal Lok.  Kutiya (bitch) is a word used in everyday life for a women of no-character. A bed-hopping adulteress. In the serial, a kutiya is named “Savitri.” The name which has a pious association for all Hindus since it tells about “Sati Savitri” who made Yamraj (God of death) return Satyavaan for her exemplary devotion to her husband. Many metaphors with Savitri are routinely used, e.g “Badi Sati Savitri bani phirti hai. (Don’t act as you are a Sati Savitri).”

Indifferent, that most Hindus are, would give a benefit of doubt. Maybe, the producer, Anushka Sharma, knows many bitches who are named “Savitri.” Maybe, the creator, Sudip Sharma, remembered a cousin who was Savitri and was called “kutiya” at home. Maybe the platform, Amazon Prime Video, is obliged to some Jihadi or missionary sponsor.

Then you have a scene which would bear a recall to the unfortunate Junaid incident when a young Muslim boy lost his life on a suburban train. The Left-Liberal media made sure that Junaid became a posthumous symbol of Hindu’s intolerance on beef. Only, the Court later ruled that the clash had occurred over occupation of seats and not beef. This truth remains uncorrected in Lutyens Media. Paatal Lok turns it into a legend. The scene has no relevance to the script. Its dispensable to narrative. Yet it’s forced in.

Chitrakoot is sacred for Hindus like few holy sites are. Rama and Sita and Laxman spent 11 years and six months of their 14 years of banishment here. As per Hindu legends, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva made a pilgrimage here. Great sages like Sati Anusuya and Valmiki meditated. It remains a place where renowned seers, devotees and thinkers visit for Nirvaana. In Paatal Lok, it’s shown as a hotbed of criminals and murderers. A dark world. A habitat of monsters.

Here we have Hindu priests who make the most profane abuses in temples and distribute beef. We have an upper-caste Hindu confidante of a corrupt Hindu leader who does extra-marital sex with his janeu (sacred thread) visible on his torso. The corrupt Brahmin leader himself eats with Dalits but carries mineral water in his jeep. We have CBI cook up the Islamic State terrorists theory when none exists.

Most of this is intended to show Hindus in poor light. To make them doubt their gods, to lose faith in a culture and heritage which is unbroken for last 5000 years, without an equivalence in the world. So that young Hindus see no reason to develop faith. It dies out without followers in due course.

If this is artistic licence, just imagine: A Muslim is doing sex with his faith’s holy images on the wall; a bitch is named Ayesha or Mary; Mecca and Medina are Jihadis hideouts; pork is being served in Mosque. Or if the Prophet is picked like Krishna is occasionally done for gopikas. Does this make you angry, our Muslim and Christian brethren? Sure it does and it must.  But don’t worry, these transgressions only happen for Hindus for they won’t burn producers’ homes or cars like it could happen if you dare draw an image of a certain Prophet. None have done so and not paid the price.

This is the boundary which is never crossed in the name of creative licence and artistic freedom. Hindus apparently are the only suckers in this world.

Paatal Lok’s creator Sudip Sharma has now given an interview to a Leftist website where he claims “all art is inspired by reality…we need to trust our faith and I believe our faith is strong enough to take any criticism.” He says bitch was named Savitri as like the holy goddess, she also saves her husband.

If we may ask you Sudip, do Dolly and Sanjeev Mehra remind you of Savitri and Satyavaan? The husband routinely does sex outside marriage with a colleague; the wife picks a boy with the same on her mind. Would your reality extend to temples (Chandni Chowk) which are broken by Muslims; or where people are peeing on Lord Shiva’s bust. Would this reality encompass men like Tahir Hussain who had allegedly stocked petrol bombs and threw them through his men from his terrace? Or when Hindu kaanwarias are attacked while passing a Muslim locality? Is the reality that beef-mafia is run by Muslims and between Akhlaq and Junaid, dozens of Hindus were killed by this mafia for their cows, could be your reality-check? How about a Madarsa teacher who raped a minor 100 times? Is Islamic State a myth by Indian state agencies which must be mocked by you?

As of now, the BJP government has no plan to censor Over The Top (OTT) platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video for derogatory content. We the viewers though could boycott Paatal Lok. They most probably did so to invite a Hindu outcry which in turn would bring more viewers in front of their TV sets. They also know it would ensure a favourable review. Hindus have an obligation to switch off.

Do it.

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All of us would agree that public transport should’ve been allowed to let migrants reach home. Done and dusted in the first week of Lockdown 1.0 itself.  Free food and community centres are not homes.

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All of us would agree that public transport should’ve been allowed to let migrants reach home. Done and dusted in the first week of Lockdown 1.0 itself.  Free food and community centres are not homes.

Then came mischief. One fine day, we had thousands of migrants at a bus station in Delhi. Somebody had promised them transport home. This whisper also worked in Mumbai. Thousands poured into Bandra station. Somebody was trying to get them on streets. An educated guess is it was politics. As we would presently see, any political upheavals can’t be caused without people-on- streets.

It’s now Priyanka Gandhi on the move. Her bleeding heart has arranged a thousand buses for migrants for Uttar Pradesh. She has chosen buses over trains.  Never mind UP is successfully requisitioning tens of trains by the hour. Half of all Shramik Trains, 301 out of 642, have headed to Yogi’s state. She won’t tell, and our media won’t ask, if she has allergy to Indian Railways. She is surely not living up to her surname who once discovered India on trains and ended up as Mahatma.

So let’s agree on the basics: One, State made a mistake in denying migrants a window to escape. Two, somebody wants human misery on streets. This agenda was bound to soar on the headwind of people’s trauma. This was one reality which was wired to favour fiction.

We got to know of fictions on a regular basis though our media don’t give enough credit to its readers for intelligence. This usually happens when you are unchecked. NDTV was caught arranging migrants through a staged performance. They were shamed enough to delete the video but its men were soon up to another mischief. So, a report has Priyanka’s buses lined up, only the image actually is of Yogi’s buses for Kumbh Mela last year. One recalls a fake report in The Hindu of migrants being extra charged. Indian Express isn’t leaving a single migrant on a single highway who could add to its’ misery editions. India Today group meanwhile is selling migrants photos for thousands of bucks.

These are the kind of times when Western media wakes up to India. Washington Post has run dozens of photographs on Indian migrants; New York Times likewise; The Guardian wasn’t quite British in overplaying it as India’s greatest exodus since the Partition. Quite interestingly, the newspaper in a matter of 24 hours, was praising the United States and Australia for enforcing a complete lockdown on its people; no escaping the measure. It had drooled on UK lockdown as a “necessary hardship.’

All this doesn’t blind us to migrants’ nightmare. People have lost lives on roads, trucks and railway lines. Centre hadn’t seen it coming. Nobody had, truth to tell. Smiling idiots who pass off as experts were moving between one media house to another, predicting catastrophe for at least 40 million Indians. The end was near.

This is the thing about images. Young kids are psychologically scarred by Corona Virus. Possibly in lakhs. But they don’t make up images. Indifferent couples, in 24x7 proximity, hate each other more than ever. We possibly have lakhs of divorces sowed. Again, there are no images. Young entrepreneurs are ruined. Again, no images. Corona has been a pandemic which in real gritty world, outside our Netflixes and home-bakeries, has been nothing short of death to millions. Again, no images.

The political beasts know this truth from ages. In modern world, it’s the most important tool of imperialism. These days they don’t send out armies, well not everywhere. They strangulate you by propaganda. A government, howsoever loved, is pulled down through steps in these orders: (a) Bring people on streets; (b) Show police as murderers; (c ) police freezes; becomes spectators; (d ) anarchy on streets morphs into violent mobs; (e ) Pressure groups—UN, EU, Media, Human Rights Groups, NGOs—pounce on its prey. Its’ “sleeping cells” they have fattened all these years in the home country—opposition and corrupt media—are the proverbial fifth column. Judiciary succumbs. Before long, the popular leader is pulled down. Those who know the truth of Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Iraq, Libya and “Arab Springs” –and a pro-democracy fake in Hong Kong—would agree.

Narendra Modi is in this unfortunate situation. He is popular and nationalist – two traits which financial sharks don’t allow to exist. It hurts free trade and their agenda of endless profits. They hold the presidents and the prime ministers of the world by their little finger. Men like Modi, or Putin, Xi or Kim, who put nation first, are caricatured and shown as savages unworthy to be in office. First the world opinion is won over by propaganda. It paves their road for intervention in the name of “democracy” and “human rights.” The suffering nation would face financial sanctions; or worse military action.

This is Modi’s fate for next four years. People-on-streets is an agenda which has been set in motion. Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was the first roll of the dice. Migrants is another. They would keep recurring, in the guise of one or other, to bring anarchy on streets. Every day, every month, every year. This much I know for sure. What’s Modi’s response we would know. India can’t desert its man in this hour.

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The very headline demands a comparison. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru had his own view of India, not the one he shared with his mentor Mahatma Gandhi. Views on science was one thing, Hindus were another. Gandhi’s India was more than just Hindus, often at its cost. Nehru’s India could do without Hindus. For their own reasons, almost a century they shared between them (1869-1964), never made Hindus a political question.  Hindus, “the bloodiest story in human history” as historian Will Durant put it, remained unattended.

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The very headline demands a comparison. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru had his own view of India, not the one he shared with his mentor Mahatma Gandhi. Views on science was one thing, Hindus were another. Gandhi’s India was more than just Hindus, often at its cost. Nehru’s India could do without Hindus. For their own reasons, almost a century they shared between them (1869-1964), never made Hindus a political question.  Hindus, “the bloodiest story in human history” as historian Will Durant put it, remained unattended.

Indira Gandhi didn’t burden herself with the weight of ideology. Power was all that mattered. Two notables which she is credited with, probably owed little to her. The liberation of Bangladesh was an Indian army’s gift. Indeed, New Delhi held back the permission to storm Dhaka well beyond the expiry date. The storming of Golden Temple, and clearing of Sant Jarnail Bhindranwale and his proverbial 40 henchmen, was the outcome of her own experiment which went horribly wrong. Between the imposition of the Emergency and her butchering of Constitution--“secular” and all--it’s difficult to say which was worse.  

Rajiv Gandhi, the reluctant politician, was terrible on Sri Lanka’s Tamil issue. He paid with his life in the end. He also apparently had a blood-streak in him which his velvety profile hid well. Ask the survivors of 1984 Sikh Progrom, it’s justice in perpetual limbo.  He also carried on the tradition of Muslim appeasement which under Mahatma Gandhi had cost India  its western and eastern arms.  He upturned the Supreme Court verdict on Shah Bano which had granted the divorced woman the right to alimony. Sharia Law had trumped democracy. India was rightly perceived to be a soft state by fundamentalists.  It gave wind to separatists in Kashmir.

Thereafter, terrorism became the headlines. Hindus were shown the chimera of independence as lakhs of them were driven out of Kashmir Valley. Atal Behari Vajpayee favoured peace with Pakistan and got Kargil in return. Vajpayee was no ordinary leader though. He made India nuclear. It was a game changer in India’s security doctrine. Vajpayee also did bold reforms in education and infrastructure.

Manmohan Singh was an economist at the service of politicians. He was a dummy prime minister, an accidental one, who turned a blind eye to scams dancing under his chair. Pamphleteers give him credit for opening up the Indian economy. In essence, he only carried out the dictates of his prime minister Narasimha Rao who didn’t belong to Nehru-Gandhi clan. His has been a pursuit of power, of communal bias— “Muslims have the first right on India’s resources” – and between visits to hospitals, he is presently panting for a Rajya Sabha seat.

In all these pre-Modi years, India wrestled with hunger, wars and terrorism as its three key moments. In the 60s, India was without food. Wars bloodied its earth virtually every decade. Terrorism brought death to cities after 1990. Mumbai’s 26/11 was as big a psychological scar to India as battles of Panipat from Babur to Ahmed Shah Abdali. Rich made the best of licence raj; poor couldn’t even enter a park. Police and bank accounts were out of bounds. Subsidies were for the middlemen. Entrepreneurship a sin and a road to suicide. Mandal Commission--oh we forgot VP Singh--created regional satraps in Mayawati and Yadavs on the plank of Dalit politics.

No Hindu-Muslim in reforms

Modi now has completed six years in office. His both terms secured with a resounding vote from 1.35 billion Indians. He chose demonetization against black money and Indians became friends with the digital world, an offshoot nobody had foreseen. India took halting steps towards one-tax regime in Goods and Services Tax (GST). India’s unseen people today have electricity, cylinders, health coupons, bank accounts, direct subsidies, Mudra loans and gifts of sanitation etc. These benefits don’t choose Hindus over Muslims.

Yet, this is not what makes Modi India’s greatest prime minister ever. It’s about vision--which is not ideology--where he seems to be up against the world. He dreams of a safe, prosperous and united India but not at the cost of Hindus. It upsets a hell of a lot of people.

Let’s begin with Kashmir. He has restructured the former state which was manipulated by Nehru-Gandhi clan to ensure Kashmir Valley always wins. In due course, it became a personal fiefdom of Abdullahs and Muftis. Now the assembly seats, whenever elections are held, would see a balance in proportion to size and population. There is not an ounce of evidence to suggest it is against Kashmiri Muslims. But there is plenty to suggest it would hurt the entrenched regional dynasties who had turned a blind eye, if not aided and abetted, the terrorism from across the border. Muslims in Kashmir Valley were in pits in all these years. They could only look up.

An impartial history would judge Modi as an Indian who saved India’s borders which Prithvirajs, Gandhis and Nehrus couldn’t do in a thousand years. Kashmir was a lost case. In 2047, it would’ve been hundred years to that thorn. It was not a matter of if, but only of when, India would become the rest of Kashmir.  In the age of Islamic State (IS) and its known cahoots in India this was given. My children, and their children, and their children, have been blessed with that one ring of security which is Modi’s offering at Mother India’s feet.

Then, we have Ram Janmabhoomi. This was hanging fire much beyond our independent years. Nothing had been in doubt: That the Babri Masjid had been built over a temple; that it was a mosque in disuse; and that mosques are routinely removed in Saudi Arabia. Yet, Hindus were denied a home for their supreme deity in their own land. Modi has managed it without resorting to unconstitutional norms.

One half of India’s 200 Muslims, their womenfolk, had a constitutional disadvantage due to a practice which isn’t objected to by Sharia Law even though the Holy Book probably doesn’t sanction it. A husband could take away his wife’s investment of her life and career in him by simply pronouncing triple talaq. This was slavery within homes. It hurt Muslim women, their kids, the family, the society and the nation. The Triple Talaq Act 2019, which had been approved by Supreme Court but stuck in Parliament on numbers, was finally enacted within days Modi assumed his second term. This was the first definite step towards Uniform Civil Code (UCC) which is desired by the Constitution.

Lynchings and its truth

It’s said Muslims are unsafe in Modi’s India. Lynchings are cited as proof. I remember so clearly the early days of Modi’s first term when this word was repeated ad nauseam. A few scribes and newspapers worked in lockstep on this agenda. You couldn’t pick up a newspaper where “lynching”, real or fake, wasn’t mentioned. Lynchings have always happened in rural India where cows are wealth and people would give life to protect them. It’s no different to how anti-CAA and now migrants have been picked for propaganda though they couldn’t care less for Muslims or poor.

This anti-India lobby of journalists, politicians and their foreign handlers see an existential threat in Modi. He is a Hindu in thought and action but they would rather portray him as anti-Muslim. It’s easy to sway millions of Muslims for most are uneducated and poor; and have a latent fear of Hindu’s rise. This frenzy would again be on us once Corona Virus recedes in the background.

Modi’s position is secure in history. His real test would be coming four years. Anti-India lobby, which includes Jihadis, Communists and imperialist forces, won’t give him a moment’s respite on Muslims. Modi is a nationalist and nationalists are always a threat to these global forces.  I predict an anarchy on streets where police would be immobilized. Any action they take would have screaming headlines and images in next day’s daily. It in turn would bring pressure groups such as the United Nations, European Parliament, George Soros etc. into play. Police would freeze; the anarchy would bring in violent mobs in a bid to overthrow him. This is a script I am reading it out to you in advance. How Modi responds, we would see.

We haven’t touched how painstakingly Modi has invested his time and energy to be a world leader of considerable respect. Or how, if we beat Corona, he would invite books of gratitude. He doesn’t part with national coffers easily which is a leeway we must grant to a Gujarati. But the sum is always greater than the parts and it’s the whole which makes Modi the greatest ever.

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I am in the middle of writing a book on World History where I show strands vastly different to the narrative we have been fed through newspapers and academia. My compass is big, covers all continents, and this endeavour would take up my four years by a modest estimate.

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I am in the middle of writing a book on World History where I show strands vastly different to the narrative we have been fed through newspapers and academia. My compass is big, covers all continents, and this endeavour would take up my four years by a modest estimate.

One of the problems I am confronted with is references. Most books I pick have references which appear untrue. For instance, Pyarelal Nayyar, the personal secretary of Mahatma Gandhi mentions an incident from Second Boer War (1899-1902), quoting Natal Mercury where the date is before the event happened. It’s not typo, there are several such instances.

We are not talking of biases here. That is given in most cases. You pick facts and incidents to your liking. My issue is with “creating” those facts and incidents. People in social media, newspapers, TV channels are doing it all the time. These “fakes” are repeated, read or seen by millions and shape people’s opinions—and actions.

This is the background in which I want the present issue of journalists in India being hauled up be seen. Two prominent names, Sudhir Chaudhary and Arnab Goswami, are such. The are perceived to speak the Centre’s line and it has put them in crosshairs of opposition states. In Himachal Pradesh, 14 FIRs have been filed against five reporters. This is likewise in UP, Gujarat, West Bengal, Rajasthan and in many other states. Indian Express is moving heavens on one of their reporters facing action for what Delhi Police believes to be “fake news” on Tablighi Jamaat’s head, Maulana Saad. Is media’s freedom a thing of the past?

There are no clear-cut answers and there would never be. None of us can expound an opinion and say: Yes, that’s it. How can journalism survive if State is the Big Brother watching them all the time? How would State function if media is like an ass in a pottery shop, to borrow a metaphor from Aesop’s fables.

None of us would deny that State is prejudiced; and media is biased. Or that we don’t live in the world of corporate media. Power and money, the two essential evils, are working all the time to grow bigger today than they were yesterday. It could only be at the cost of citizenry, the sheep to be sheared, Where are the arbiters in this toxic, noxious air?

There could be many arbiters but let’s begin with judiciary which has the final word. What do they go by with? Our Constitution doesn’t provide freedom to press as an enshrined Article. Most of it is presumed under Article 19 (1-a). This is the Right to Freedom of speech and expression to individuals. This is Liberty, the root of democracy.  Ideally, media shouldn’t be interpreted from this prism. Unlike individuals, media is a “watchdog” for public interest which gives them privileged access to men and matters.

Yes, there is Press Council Act of 1978. It’s to ensure freedom of press as well as pull up media if untruthful. In essence Press Council is just a talk shop. Most members are hand-picked. Editors’ Guild of India and News Broadcasters Association (NBA) are no better. Their credibility is zilch. In essence, it’s a Big Boys Club who keep public interest out of their rounds of drinks.

Ombudsman, a neutral voice of credibility, was once deemed an important self-regulatory organ, to keep the content truthful. It has been a joke on us for last two decades if not more.

Then there are unseen arbiters, we the readers, the citizens, the suckers. Both the State and media would prefer us to be blindfolded, to be goaded into alleys of their own mischiefs. We don’t get the truth from either; yet we tilt one way or the other. An irony: Those who can’t do without us, have little of our interest on their minds.

The time has come to draw a line in the sand. Ambiguity must give way to well-defined laws. Journalists must follow the time-tested dictums: Present both sides of story; name your source who wish to be quoted or don’t use it at all. I agree it’s not possible in political reporting but don’t let a good story come in the way of a patient’s good who is on a ventilator.

I also know it’s easier said than done: your editors are mostly handpicked by your employers to serve their business or political agenda. That “little journo” on the desk, the sub-editor, also is prone to rejig your story in a manner which could induce a saucy headline and cause you embarrassment next morning. I doubt if there is any reporter who hasn’t muttered a swear to an editor/sub-editor on the final output.

State, on their part, must not allow mischief by press. But it also shouldn’t use the long arm of law to settle personal scores or come down on an investigative story. Mostly, States should limit itself to denying a news or offering a clarification. Or be a mouthful like Trump is to despicable US media. But state action or imprisonment isn’t on. Individuals could evoke defamation suit: Like Sonia Gandhi should have done against Arnab Goswami. It was shameful to involve a state machinery for her personal score.

Press is the breath of democracy: All you need is a strong filter. Putting a lid would suffocate it to death.

" ["category"]=> string(43) "1551854609,1551854629,1551854637,1551854652" ["tags"]=> string(135) "1626979,1817609,2564880,2842301,3043067,3075221,4041255,4727465,5139004,5253178,5268965,5599134,5821029,7053356,7785212,7830769,8409871" ["status"]=> string(9) "published" ["number_of_reads"]=> int(0) } [4]=> array(13) { ["id"]=> int(1588825158) ["author_id"]=> int(1551854060) ["title"]=> string(74) "Covid-19: Why China can’t shut down its “wet markets” despite outcry" ["slug"]=> string(65) "covid-19-why-china-can-t-shut-down-its-wet-markets-despite-outcry" ["image"]=> string(22) "article-1588825158.jpg" ["image_caption"]=> string(0) "" ["headline"]=> string(68) " " ["excerpt"]=> string(762) "

There is a chorus around the world that it’s “wet markets” of China which has sunk the world through Covid-19 pandemic but closing them is easier said than done.

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There is a chorus around the world that it’s “wet markets” of China which has sunk the world through Covid-19 pandemic but closing them is easier said than done.

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, blames “wet markets” where pathogens jump from animals to humans while the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has asked them to be closed where live animals are slaughtered on the spot for consumption. The origin of Covid-19 were laid to rest in January itself when the head of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said: “The origin of the new Corona Virus is the wildlife sold illegally in a Wuhan seafood market.”

"Given the strong link between illegal wildlife sold in wet markets and zoonotic diseases, the United States has called on the People's Republic of China to permanently close its wildlife wet markets and all markets that sell illegal wildlife. I call on all ASEAN governments to do the same," Pompeo said in a statement.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key figure on the White House coronavirus task force, said of China's wet markets: "It boggles my mind how, when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface, that we just don't shut it down." Some 70 House and Senate lawmakers have sent a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) urging it to support the closure of the markets.

If this causes an outrage worldwide, the statement from World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, accused of favouring China, has only added fuel to the fire. The WHO chief supports the reopening of wet markets. An exasperated Morrison has said,: “I’m totally puzzled by this decision (of WHO).”

Covid-19 is only the latest in the long list of troubles which originate from so-called “wet markets”: AIDS, SARS, MERS, Ebola and the swine flu have happened in too rapid succession for us to ignore the lessons. SARS, the closest relative to the present pandemic, is suspected to have originated from civets sold in wet markets of China. MERS came from camels.

Such appeals from the world nudge China into a coercive action but before long “wet markets” spring back to life as if nothing had happened. In the wake of SARS outbreak, China had briefly banned the sale of wild animals in 2003. Now again, it has outlawed the sale of wild animals—no one knows for how long.

Damningly, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan (see image), the alleged ground-zero of Covid-19, was reopened this month having been first closed in January. It’s a widely-held theory that Covid-19 came off bats, before spreading to pangolins and making the jump to humans inside the Huanan wet market--said to have stocked 120 wild animals across 75 species, including bats, dogs, pangolins, turtles and snakes.

Why China is reluctant to shut the damn “wet markets”?

The problem I guess is in the terminology of “wet markets.” Wet markets are different from wildlife markets. The majority of wet markets don’t sell wild animals. They largely sell perishable food: vegetables, fruits, fish, fresh meat etc. Not just China, but “wet markets” are common in most of Southeast Asia. Indeed, it’s been a way of life through millenniums.  You stumble upon them not just in China or Southeast Asia but in most of Europe, such as Italy, and even in American cities with large immigrant populations. It’s not wildlife markets. By design or by ignorance, today wet markets are being equated with wildlife markets.

It’s the market for wildlife animals which is the source of humanity’s troubles. It’s a live animal market where vendors slaughter animals upon customer’s demands. At a customer’s behest, the stall-owner would pull out, say a snake, from a cage by the back of its head, skin and gut it and drain it off fluids, both blood and one of spine, and draw It into a cut where mixed with some tonic it’s gulped down by the customer.

In Chinese culture it’s a belief that the body fluids of animals hold key to several human’s health problems. Thus the testicles of a Siberian tiger or powdered Rhino horn all carry, in their belief, some cure for some ailment. There are said to be curative powers in Lizard’s oil. China runs commercial tiger farms for traditional medicine and bear’s bile extraction is almost an industry, not just in China but also in Southeast Asia. It’s called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in normal parlance.

Chinese have been practicing such medicines for close to 2,000 years. It’s a cultural belief that ingesting plans and animal parts keep people safe from illness and restore their inner energy balance. On an average, the TCM uses about 1,000 plants and various organs and fluids of 36 animal species.

Thus there are tiger bones to treat arthritis and other join ailments, bear bile for liver ailments and headaches, seahorse for getting rid of impotence. Tragically, many of these animals are on endangered species list. Yet a demand persists for their magical healing power. It’s belief, and not scientific evidence, which sustains wildlife markets in China.

It’s not helped when WHO has endorsed TCM now. Chinese are apt to treat this validation as a proof of their long-held beliefs and practices. It grows a demand for new TCM markets for the revival of great Chinese nation.  Why, even in the midst of Corona Virus, China has been heavily promoting TCM, claiming that it has cured Wuhan virus patients without putting forth any clinical trial proof.

In such an endorsement, poor sanitary conditions are ignored. It becomes a ripe ground for close contact between humans and life and dead animals. It thus turns into a breeding ground for infectious diseases. Belief in TCMs and consumption of wild animals without evidence is surely a problem.

It’s said that bats would now face a backlash from humanity. It would be a mistake. The better option is to let them be where they are in their natural habitat.  Bats have unique immune system and carry a lot of viruses around them which could hurt others but not them. They are believed to have played a role in the transmission of at least 12 viruses, counting Covid-19. Scientists believe bats carry a reservoir for a lot of viruses that are hugely dangerous to humans. Yet, the also hold answer to curing various health conditions, such as cancer or diabetes.

Its’ unlikely advocacy groups, politicians and health experts could demand and China would shut down its wet markets.  A typical day for a Chinese housewife begins with a visit to wet market. It’s been a practice since the days when there were no supermarkets or fridge to keep food consumable.  It’s just a part of life. Not just cultural it has psychological reasons as well. You get to chat with friends and neighbours or develop new acquaintances. Asking price, checking the freshness of items, bargaining with the vendors is a daily experience in such wet markets. Both customers and vendors enjoy such exchanges.

A typical wet market in China doesn’t sell exotic animals.  These are expensive stuff which is normally beyond the reach of a common buyer in wet markets. There is no way China could shut down the typical traditional wet markets.

Yet a way has to be found and lessons from Corona Virus must not be lost. Globally, there is a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which has more than 180 countries as members. It must come down heavily on dubious wildlife markets and animal farms. The illegal international trade in such wildlife exports must be closed. There ought to be a penalty stiff enough to deter exploitation of protected wildlife species. Inspections must get more intense.

Or else world would say that Chinese have food habits which kill millions of people. 

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All this while, we have been fretting upon Mumbai and Delhi. It now seems Kolkata was ignored as the wool had been pulled over our eyes.

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All this while, we have been fretting upon Mumbai and Delhi. It now seems Kolkata was ignored as the wool had been pulled over our eyes.

No less than 264 containment zones now figure in the teeming city of Kolkata itself after Centre came out with its Red, Orange and Green classification list on Corona Virus on Friday.

Kolkata is only a microcosm of worrying state of affairs in West Bengal where no less than 10 districts have been classified into Red Zone though typical of its chief minister Mamata Banerjee, she contests it to be only four districts.

The trouble is, so much water has flown under the Hooghly in the last few weeks that Mamata’s assertion only helps to grow the band of skeptics over her utterances.

West Bengal till Friday was officially announcing the fatality figure in the state to be 33. It had arrived at this figure by un-clubbing co-morbid cases from Corona fatalities. Ms Banerjee’s state was not only flying against the norms of India’s apex medical body, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), but also against the guidelines laid down by the World Health Organization (WHO).

West Bengal, as per WHO norms, had 105 fatality due to Corona Virus till Friday. It had 831 cases which gave West Bengal a fatality ratio of 12.87% compared to national average of 3.19%, four times India’s overall ratio.

Initially, things appeared in control after Bengal reported its first Corona case on March 17 and a state-wide lockdown was announced on March 23 on the heels of its first Corona death. Ms Banerjee marking “social-distancing” circle on the roads was a timely optics.

But then the first hint of trouble was the assembling of thousands of migrant workers at the Howrah Station on March 25.  On April 2 and 3, the state government didn’t release the official bulletin on the pandemic. Between April 4 to 6, the health bulletin seemed to miss the Corona-related deaths before the anomaly was sorted out on April 7.

Things were hardly getting better though. On April 11, West Bengal Doctors’ Forum wrote to Ms Banerjee and pleaded with her to be transparent on Corona Virus.  On April 13, the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), the designated testing facility of ICMR in Kolkata, rued that “West Bengal government is not sending enough samples for Covid 19 testing.”

Growing worry led Indian Medical Association and seven other medical organizations to approach the chief minister to release “real-time Covid 19 data in West Bengal.”

The broken healthcare system of West Bengal, a victim of four decades of apathy under the Leftist/Trinamool Congress regimes, apparently can no longer be masked. Videos began emerging of disturbing conditions inside hospitals. It led to mobile phones, including the ones of medical staff, being banned in wards of the hospitals. A Kolkata-based oncologist had an FIR slapped against him for his social media posts on lack of medical kits. His mobile was confiscated, returned only after Calcutta High Court intervened.

Whenever media questioned, Ms Banerjee shot back with the advice to “behave properly” or her government could be forced to take action under the Disaster Management Act.

Lately, healthcare workers in the state are testing positive. It includes 20 of Kolkata Medical College.  On April 26, a senior health officer of the state department became a Corona fatality.

Ms Banerjee seems averse to Centre offering advice or help, but for financial aid of course. She was unhappy when the Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) visited Bengal.  IMCT has subsequently expressed concern over the paucity of protective equipment, ventilators and quarantine facility. The testing is low and test reports too are taking longer time than it should.

The spurt in fatality rates suggests that cases are being admitted in the hospitals only after the positive cases have turned grave. Law enforcement is lax. There is a real fear of community transmission. The latest scare emerging out of the state is police, hospitals and its staff are being attacked by unruly mobs. 

Most would pray that Kolkata doesn’t suffer from a widespread infection of Corona Virus. Doubters believe it already is suffering from community transmission. The coming days would hold key for the state, which by extension would mean the nation itself. Arrogance and denial is no way to run the state when the lives of lakhs of its citizens are at grave risk.

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India has been rather loose with its pronouncements on “fishing” in China’s troubled waters and gain by having world shift its manufacturing epicenter to our land.

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India has been rather loose with its pronouncements on “fishing” in China’s troubled waters and gain by having world shift its manufacturing epicenter to our land.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a call to states to utilize the opportunity in post-Covid world, Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Electronics and IT minister, rather shockingly has asked the states to be “proactive” when the “anger against China” spills over.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has followed it up by laying the doors of his state open and held conference calls with Lockheed, Cisco, Adobe, FedEx and UPS (United Parcel Service) to showcase its potential. Among others are medical device makers and pharma multinationals.

The trouble is India is far from replacing China as world’s global manufacturing hub. Even if India wants to take a hearty slice out of the pie, it needs drastic action on accompanying factors which are easy to manage in a totalitarian system like China’s than in its own federal structure.

China accounted for 28 per cent of world’s global manufacturing output compared to India’s 3.0 in 2018. This has come about not because China offers just cheap labour. A lot of countries could do it. It’s because China hefts up its muscles by additional factors of (a) networked suppliers and distributors; (b) component manufacturers; (c) loose regulatory atmosphere; (d) artificially depressing its currency for its goods to become cheaper than compared to the world. And it has been doing so for 30 years.

India, in comparison, has a gap in its intent from reality. Would it be able to ignore health, safety, environment and employment regulations which China does without a care in the world? Could it deliberately undervalue its rupee by say, buying more dollars? Could it rebate and exempt its export and import taxes? Would India be able to deploy child labour, have long working hours and provide compensation insurance like China does? Does it have a similar integrated industrial system?

If India has in mind to be a hub for mobile phone giants like Apple, the chances are slim. Rare Earth elements are key in mobile-manufacturing and China controls 97% of it. From batteries to headphones, Rare Earth is lifeline to mobiles. Besides, Rare Earth is also needed for electric cars, wind turbines, solar cells etc. (Rare Earth, in layman’s terms, are a few elements which occur in the same ore deposits and exhibit similar chemical properties yet different electronic and magnetic elements).

There is no harm in India coveting world’s top manufacturing giants. But “assembling” isn’t the same thing as “manufacturing.” A separation between the two is possible, say, with delivery-giants like FedEx and UPS. But on matters of manufacturing products, just providing “assembling” is not good enough. India needs a giant churn in manufacturing in a limited time window. China would already be at work to woo the big money with more incentives.

The larger point is geopolitical realignment. For a while now, India had been sliding in the West’s camp, led by the United States. If there was a veil of diplomacy, it’s now gone to winds. India, Israel, US, West, Saudi Arabia, Japan etc now look firmly on one side. India is now open about its bad vibes against China. A large part of it is justified given how China rails against India in international forums, blocks its entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and sings Pakistan’s tune on Kashmir and terrorism. But the likes of BRICS, SCO etc gave it a semblance of balancing. Now that optics is gone. And what happens to our deep defence reliance on Russia which is firmly embedded into China’s camp? Does it mean we also have “lost” Iran for good?

First was India’s move to scrutinize FDIs (Foreign Direct Investment) which China is vehemently protesting against. Now is this “open” intent to woo world’s biggest manufacturers. There is nothing wrong in sensing an opportunity. But why say “at the expense of China”? Unless you want to signal the West and remove the ambiguity on your neutrality.

India has just done so. It comes with collateral damage though. China enjoys tens of billions of dollars trade advantage against India. They surely would now resort to arm-twisting India. It would be messy but one hopes India has taken into account the Dragon’s next moves. Events would now happen rapidly.

Watch the space.

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It has been a few days since the Palghar killings of Sadhus shook the conscience of the nation and its values but little else has happened otherwise.

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It has been a few days since the Palghar killings of Sadhus shook the conscience of the nation and its values but little else has happened otherwise.

Chikane Maharaj Kalpavriksh Giri (70) and Sushil Giri Maharaj (35) probably were not the bread-earners for their families, sanyasis as they were, but what about the driver Nilesh Telgade, who hailed from an underprivileged background and leaves behind two daughters—Shalini and Sanika—besides his wife and mother? What happens to them whose sustenance was lost on that one single horrific night? Have we heard of any compensation to them announced by the Maharashtra government?

A week has passed since the Police first announced that they reached the venue only after the lynchings were over; and then somersaulted on the evidence of videos where men in khaki were seen handing over the unfortunate victims to the murderous mob. We do know that those shameless cops have been suspended. But what made these cops do what they did?

A few credible reports conclusively show that those two unfortunate seers could’ve been spared if they were not wearing the saffron robes. Chitra Choudhary, sarpanch of the village, reached the spot within 15 minutes of Sadhus’ being detained inside their own car by the swelling mob. She was able to keep the crowd in check for 2-3 hours though by then the vehicle had been punctured and overturned.  Police finally arrived at 11 pm and took the two Sadhus inside their own patrolling car.  What then made police take the Sadhus out of car and hand them over to mob and watch the lynching? They could’ve easily driven those threatened lives to safety. What made them drop the option? It’s unlikely they wouldn’t have spoken to their seniors or somebody. Who did they speak to? What transpired in those calls?

Chitra has also confirmed that the crowd became bloodthirsty once the local NCP leader Kashinath Choudhari arrived at the spot. Chants of Dada aala, Dada aala (Big brother is here) began. Kashinath has also conceded to his presence. He has been accused of instigating the mob.

Piecing these two pieces together—one, police playing its part in the gruesome lynching of the Sadhus, two, an NCP leader accused of instigating the mob—makes observers stumble on to arguably a far more sinister motive.

Tribals, as we know, are the prime target of conversion mafia. The tribal belt in Maharashtra, including Palghar, is the beehive of Christian missionaries. It happens with the active support of a few regional political parties of Maharashtra who are known to supply illegal liquor to the tribals. Those in the know, including seers, oppose such conversion mafia, hand in gloves with the politicians.

Once you put these jigsaw puzzles together, a definite picture emerges behind the lynchings.  Sadhus were singled out because they were Hindu seers and bitterly resented in this den of UrbanNaxal operations. Thus mistaking them for being “child-lifters” is a bogus excuse already busted in light of emerging facts. Police and the NCP leader’s presence put the state machinery in a very poor light.

India, as a whole, is stirring up to Palghar. A Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) delegation has already called upon Maharashtra’s governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and asked for a high-level inquiry into the lynchings.  They see a deeper conspiracy, borne out by similar incidents in the past, which they ascribe to the influence of Leftists in the area. They have also sought accountability from the state government; wondering if they would be similarly apathetic had the victims belonged to a minority community.

Now the Hindu Dharma Achara Sabha has also approached the Maharashtra Governor. Their anguish is on similar lines against the police, government and Leftists’ influence in the area. They cite the growing presence of illegal immigrants in the area; the hatred that has been sowed in the minds of tribals against the Hindus.

It’s not just the lynchings but the alleged agenda behind the dastardly crime which is disturbing. What happens to innocent citizens if the state is seen as offering a helping hand to the lynchings? When some are singled out only because they belong to a particular religion and are hated by the adherents of an ideology? Such are the paths where hatred is sowed, communal-divide is deepened and the essence of the Union is put in danger. The least Maharashtra government could do is to come out clean on the matter.   

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People-on-the-street is citizenry against the State. It affected the United States from continuing the Vietnam War. It brought down Charles de Gaulle in France in the 1960s as students came out in droves. Arab Spring had millions on the streets and toppled many governments in MENA (Middle East North Africa) region. “The Maidan” revolution in Ukraine bears a similar testimony. And Hong Kong hasn’t faded from memory in so-called “democracy” protests. India was in the grip of a similar meltdown on CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) before Corona Virus took the matter in its own hand.

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People-on-the-street is citizenry against the State. It affected the United States from continuing the Vietnam War. It brought down Charles de Gaulle in France in the 1960s as students came out in droves. Arab Spring had thousands on the streets and toppled many governments in MENA (Middle East North Africa) region. “The Maidan” revolution in Ukraine bears a similar testimony. And Hong Kong hasn’t faded from memory in so-called “democracy” protests. India was in the grip of a similar meltdown on CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) before Corona Virus took the matter in its own hand.

Why people-on-the-street are a nightmare for the State is easy to understand. It could encompass a whole range of emotions: Anger, Violence, Hunger, Grief, Helplessness etc. It moves at a human level. Images connect the rest with the misery rolling on the roads. Slowly the whole citizenry gets on the back of the moving vulnerable.

It’s known States can’t do much if people rise against it. They either freeze themselves into inaction which only brings a domino effect on the “volume” of protests. Or if they resort to violent curbs, the matter goes out of hands and the world is up in arms. Stark images make headlines worldwide. United Nations, European Union parliament, rival nations, human rights groups pile on the pressure. Political rivals within the State smell blood in the pool. The State staggers. The nation stops.

It’s now well known that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has made countless enemies on his nationalist agenda. Nationalism upsets powers of the world. These powers have swindled the world in the name of “globalization” and “free trade.” Their maxim is “World without borders”. In nationalism, they see a phenomenon where a State is putting Nation first. That’s why they hate Modi. That’s why they have an angst against Donald Trump. That’s how they see an existential threat in Putin. That’s why Xi is an elephant in the room to them.

Who are these powers? Well, elaborating on it would take my focus away from this piece. Nevertheless, a passing mention is in order. These powers are the ones who control money. If you control money, you control governments, control media and movies, which in turn allows you to control humanity. Money in our world is controlled by Federal Reserve and City of London and a clutch of international bankers. You don’t see much of them in our newspapers. But if you are aware of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB), you get the picture. George Soros is the only name I could suggest for the uninitiated.

Such forces were in work to hurt India on the pretext of CAA. But then Corona Virus happened. It threw a spanner in their machinations. The issue of migrants then fell into their lap. Migrants on the road served the same purpose as the CAA protestors did. They couldn’t care less about the cause or misery. “People-on-the-street” was good enough.

We would never know how lakhs of migrants gathered at a bus station in the Capital even as the lockdown was in place. Or how a similar movement thronged railway stations in Mumbai. It’s these pictures which anti-National forces feed on; if they haven't create it in the first place.

Western media described it as the “biggest movement of people since the Partition.” Indian mainstream media led the frenzy. The incidence of Tablighi Jamaat didn’t hold them back for long. They are again back on migrants' theme. Harsh Mander, Barkha Dutt and their likes are busy with their poisonous pens. Indian Express isn’t letting it go. Nobody has died but a Front Page story a day is given. 

Make no mistake that migrants is a real issue. They want to go back home. Either to be with their family. Or attend to their farms. But it’s also a fact that Indian states have made resources to feed and house them. Migrants are closer to medical help under states than they would be in villages. Isn’t it practical? What if they carry infection to villages where medical help of districts' scale is still not feasible?  Everyone is going through hardships. These are the days of lockdowns. 

As things stand, migrants would move towards homes from April 20 onwards. Such arrangements are being made. Still trust the Lutyens Media not to let it go in a hurry. Already some are evoking the image of “detention centres” with the migrants' venues. Images would still do the rounds. You see, “People-on-the-road” is their design in Modi’s second term. They would persist with it in rest of Modi’s tenure.

Dear Folks, you have been warned.

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These are bad times for jokes but the one by India’s premier health agency looks particularly awful when it says it’s “testing” less than it could.

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These are bad times for jokes but the one by India’s premier health agency looks particularly awful when it says it’s “testing” less than it could.

India is doubling the count of its Corona Virus patients twice every week and 40 have perished in the last 24 hours but the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) simply hasn’t cast its net wide enough to assure an anxious nation of a billion plus.

India is dawdling at 190,000 tests put together as on Sunday which bears a sorry comparison with the United States (2,700.000), Italy (1,000,000) and Spain (350,000), three nations reeling the most under the unforgiving pandemic.

India today isn’t short of hands or testing kits. It’s good enough for 20,000 tests a day. It also isn’t shy of promising 100,000 tests a day soon. So what’s stopping it from showing its full hand to the growing footprint of the killer virus?

Specific and not random tests

It would seem India’s strategy is more by design than neglect. India has so far preferred to do tests only on those who have shown symptoms. Such information is either being relayed by patients themselves or a confirmed case is being followed up. In no case, suspects are allowed to visit nearby designated hospitals on own.

It appears there is a corollary to such caution. A nursing home in Washington made headlines for being the biggest harbinger of disease to nearby community. The Virus arrived on the host-patients and spread itself on staff, security and residents without distinction. Wuhan in China bears reports on patients calling up on routine health issues and ending up infecting those unfortunate to be around them.

The red flag of mass testing is obvious too. How do you do it? By rounding up people and allowing the disease to hop and spread to the last man in the queue? Instead, India’s healthcare is opting to swarm around hot-spots in the country of which they have identified a few dozens. It’s here that they are rolling up sleeves and getting into combat mode. Mass testing with lockdown in place doesn’t quite make much sense to them.   

No community spread yet

India still maintains it’s in Phase Two of the spread, that it is still local and not communal which would’ve set alarm bells ringing. It went into a lockdown mode when there were still only 150 cases on the chart. Italy, Spain and France in contrast shut itself up at least 7-10 days prior but their cases--and fatalities--were already in thousands. The horse had already bolted.

India could also take comfort that out of its 707 districts, only 325 so far are in the infected list. It’s fatality roll of just over 300 isn’t cause for panic yet. The people have so far stoically borne the pains of a lockdown. Indeed, they are bracing for an extension of lockdown without quite throwing up.

It’s not to say India is out of woods yet. It’s a long summer ahead. Slums remain a major worry. Dharavi, one of Asia’s biggest in Mumbai, is racking up patients steadily. Delhi, India’s capital, has sealed off at least two dozen of its infected pockets. The western state of Mahrashtra which houses India’s commercial capital Mumbai, accounts for nearly half of India’s total deaths. India hasn’t turned the corner yet.

India, for sure, would ramp up tests in coming days. It’s also almost given that more cases and more fatalities would show up. It would hope it’s still manageable. And that its’ strategy of testing visitors, and enforcing lockdown when the numbers were still low, was a clincher. Else, it would rue it didn’t test enough when the time was still on its side. 

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India panicked. The world broke into a sweat. A man had died in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, to the ever-so growing shadow of killer Corona Virus pandemic last week.

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India panicked. The world broke into a sweat. A man had died in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, to the ever-so growing shadow of killer Corona Virus pandemic last week.

No, he isn’t the only victim India has had in the past few weeks. Nor was he a celebrity or a billionaire.  Indeed, he was just a garment seller. But he happened to live in one of Asia’s biggest slums, Dharavi, which houses one million people in a little over two square kilometer land. Lives are packed like stacked hay. And we know hay fires break out without even a spark—just being baled and moist is enough.

In no time a team of doctors and volunteers swooped on to the area. Cops were in tow. They fanned out and stayed till midnight. Family was isolated. Some 2,500 neighbours were stamped for quarantine. The deceased’s movement of last two weeks was retraced with the help of his people. A list of his acquaintances was mapped and alerted. His shop, and some 100 others, including the nearby 330 flats were put under barriers.  Common spaces between the buildings were sprayed. A posse of policemen now guarded the area to enforce no violation.

The world watched. It’s fears found a shape in headlines.  Dharavi is not unknown to humanity. Thanks to power of Hollywood, Dharavi was made famous through Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2009. It topped the worldwide box office. Best-ever grosser for Fox Searchlight Pictures. “Visually dazzling and emotionally resonant” was the consensus on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie celebrated human spirit through the eyes of a child, growing up amidst faeces, open sewers, violence and murder.

The Unknown Dharavi

The world knows little more on Dharavi. Not just the world, even Indians don’t know that half of Mumbai’s waste is recycled in Dharavi. That everyone has a roof over his head, there is no homelessness. Nor any caste, creed or religious divides. Mosques, temples, churches share boundaries. Dharavi just accepts everyone; and supplies the sprawling Mumbai its faceless workers and helpers.This gritty humanity, and its small factories, pottery, plastic, textile, bakery industries etc, generate an annual turnover of $1 billion, 30% of which is paid as taxes. A 600 sq feet apartment costs half a million dollars in Dharavi! It’s in demand.

It’s not to say that Dharavi is not potentially explosive in the light of Corona Virus. It has a long history of epidemics. It was devastated in a 1896 plague which killed half of Mumbai’s population.  Other epidemics gripped it for next quarter of a century. Mortality was high. Dysentery, cholera, typhoid, leprosy, polio have made lives fall like flies. IN 1986, a cholera epidemic showed up most of its victims hailing from Dharavi. It has a poor-protection record: Those who survive viruses, are often consumed by fires and floods which are recurrent.

India girds up loins for challenge

Thus anxiety of the Indian officials is understandable.  It has counted the elders in the locality and put them under extensive testing. Fortunately, the country is now equipped with antibody blood tests which take only 15-30 minutes. India has an Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) for a decade and half now. It’s data allows health authorities to scan cases from Public Health Care (PHC) level upwards. It can spot clusters of a community outbreak of diseases. It’s following a geographical quarantine strategy. Movements, to and from, is interrupted in such clusters. Testing is ramped up. So is surveillance. Environment, heat and humidity, is factored in.  

Indian authorities, for the moment, have identified around a dozen hot-spots. Dharavi is not one of them. Fortunately, cases have increased in Dharavi since. Mumbai, and Maharashtra, continue to be the most worried state in India. Officials are doing whatever best they could. A Containment Officer (CO) is co-ordinating with the police, the municipality and healthcare workers to ensure residents get essential supplies of food, milk, water and medicine round the clock.

Dharavi isn’t used to world’s concerns. Even “Slumdog Millionaire” had just a couple of shoots from within. It’s used to keeping homes and roads clean; water supply and essentials running of 20-million plus lives in the megapolis every day even as their own lanes, alleys and hearths escape the world’s attention. Once in a while, a Hollywood or a Virus brings it back into human consciousness. To be forgotten, as soon as the event is over.

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Indian Muslims can no longer blame others of Islamophobia if they continue to defend or ignore what has happened in the wake of Tablighi Jamaat disaster.

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Indian Muslims can no longer blame others of Islamophobia if they continue to defend or ignore what has happened in the wake of Tablighi Jamaat disaster.

It’s clear that thousands came over and stayed put in Nizamuddin markaz despite restrictions/lockdowns being in place.

We now have videos where they are seen eating from the same utensil, drinking and bathing from common tanks.

Hundreds slept in the same room.

When social distancing was being practiced by millions of Indians, their “maulana” or head preacher was allegedly suggesting that it’s a ploy to divide Muslims. “Being together is your strength,” was his alleged call.

While the nation, in the midst of a life-death battle, seethed at this blatant transgression, the Tablighi Jamaat devouts first refused to leave the markaz and then chose to spit on the policemen around them.

Subsequently, we have had videos of a Muslim locality in Indore throwing stones and hurting paramedical staff which came to save them from Corona Virus threat.

A few of Tablighi Jamaat Corona Virus patients under medical care in Ghaziabad, are walking semi-naked and passing lurid comments on nurses, as per an official complaint.

HImanta Biswa Sarma was almost in tears on national TV, stating Tablighi Jamaat attendees who have returned to Assam have gone in hiding. Sarma fears that his state, which had no case till the Tablighi Jamaat fiasco, could face a disaster if these men remained untraceable.

Their so-called leaders, like Asaduddin Owaisi, are suggesting that those who have lost the battle against Corona Virus are no less than “martyrs.” Amanatullah Khan is busy blaming the police.

There are a few attendant questions which India’s sizeable Muslim community needs to pause and reflect:

(a)    Would you not fault one of your religious offshoots which want its followers to go back to the lifestyle of the seventh century? Is it in sync with modern realities and their own future?

(b)   Those who are defending Jamaat at this grave criminal conduct, can they reasonably claim to be secular? Aren’t they being communal? Worse, aren’t they directing anger of India’s masses against you, the Indian Muslims?

(c)    Aren’t these seculars widening the divide between you and the rest of Indian society? In which way is it helping you or your next generations? Can’t you see their only aim is your vote and not your welfare?

(d)   There could be a widespread opposition among Indian Muslims on CAA-NPR-NRC. “Kagaz Nahin Dekhayenge -Won’t show identity papers—sounds revolutionary. But if the State has real numbers of its citizens, wouldn’t it help to dole out cash to needy? (That’s what US president Donald Trump has resorted to now).

(e) Would you blame the rest of India if it feels that "social-distancing" norm was flouted only because prime minister Narendra Modi had made this call? 

(f)   Would you fault intelligence agencies if they probe that a few in the vast congregation at Nizamuddin markaz could’ve been bio-bombers? I mean how could you rule out this possibility. More so when 100s of attendees have gone underground?

(g)     Would you ignore the fact that Intelligence today points at a few Rohingyas who have slipped in as members of Tablighi Jamaat?

(h)Would you feign ignorance that Sri Lanka has tipped off India on a few extremists having crossed over as Tablighi devouts? After all one of your own, India’s minority minister, has termed Jamaat’s act as Talibani.

(i)    How do you think India is today reacting when the NSA literally had to beg Tablighis to vacate the markaz?

The truth is: Everyone has failed you. And you yourself.

Your community leaders are out to use you.

Your “Mullahs” want to keep you blindfolded into ignorance.

your political suckers have kept you in misery for the last seven decades.

There is no point blaming others of Islamophobia;  or wearing the “persecuted” mantle.

There is a reason why other minorities—Sikhs, Jains, Parsis—have done so well in the same milieu in which you breathe.

You can’t blame BJP also for they have emerged only recently. If anything, you were worse under UPA.

If Indian Muslims feel that rest of India is hostile to them, they first need to put their house in order. They need to be Indians first, Muslims later. It would mean calling a spade a spade. Find a voice to condemn Tablighi Jamaat. They have shackled you; their plan is—always has been to—use you to their own end. Rise above them and win India’s trust. Take to social media, exhort your own locality; for Allah’s sake do something. You can’t be sheep at their command. Stop playing the “Islamophobia” card. Your future lies with the rest of India; embrace it.

 

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Yes. That's the charge. A charge its' readers like me are levelling: Why Indian Express doesn't want to stay on the Tablighi story?

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Yes. That's the charge. A charge its' readers like me are levelling: Why Indian Express doesn't want to stay on the Tablighi story?

Express has opted for a banner headline (see the image) today which can't get bigger even if World War 3 breaks out.

Only, this is not about Corona: It's about four states "knocking" on Centre for extra funds.

Now,

(a)    Who are the states in question? Anti-Modi governments of West Bengal, Rajasthan, Kerala and Punjab of course.

(b)   Have they already asked for funds? Not yet.

(c) What's the source of Indian Express story? An unknown official.

(d)   And why states could be asking for funds? Now hold your breath: For returning migrants. Not for Corona victims but for migrants.

(e)   And who are the states who should be in the forefront of seeking help even on migrants? Of course Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The Indian Express conveniently doesn't seek these two states out.

So, no funds have been asked, no written or spoken request made, questionable states, questionable source, and that too for migrants and not Corona!!! And yet Indian Express gives a kind of banner headline which most editors don't give in their entire careers.

This when Tablighi Jamaat fiasco threatens to drown the country in the misery of Corona Virus.

The cases have doubled and crossed 2000 figures overnight.

One single person testing positive could potentially infect 10,000 people.

Many Tablighi Jamaat attendees have gone in hiding.

Official request is making no difference to them.

Could they be bio bombers?

But none of these thoughts prick the conscience of our "newspaper of courage."

It doesn’t ponder if it could be “infiltrators” and perhaps justify CAA-NPR-NRC

It wants its readers to concentrate on funds a few anti-Modi states "could" ask. This when the Centre is constantly in touch with states to seek out remedial measures. Modi is holding meeting with states regularly.

This is not the sole reason for a reader like me to believe Indian Express is doing its best to bury the Tablighi Jamaat complicity in spreading the Corona Virus. When this news hit the Indians like scalding oil on Tuesday, Express chose to almost bury the story.

That sensational story was not even front page lead in Indian Express that day. Worse, it chose to put a "Delhi area" in the headline (see image), instead of squarely blaming Tablighi Jamaat for the distress it has plunged the nation into. And this I am talking about the Delhi edition of Indian Express.

Don't you think readers of the city needed a more frontal, and not ambiguous, coverage from its newspaper about its own city? About a story which could put their lives in danger? And what about the residents of the area? They wouldn't even have an inkling of human bio bombs exploding in their neighbourhood and their chosen newspaper trying to keep them in dark.

I may sound angry. But I am angry. It's a gross betrayal of readers, if not country, from a national newspaper. It puts doubt in my mind for what could be behind such Indian Express' coverage. If it's only about their journalistic competence, it needs to shut its shop. If there is more to it, if there is an interest in spiking this sensational story, then not just Press Council of India but even law agencies need to move in. Tablighi Jamaat has not only cost 10 lives thus far, It has put thousands on the line as well. It could submerge India in political and economic tsunami.

Indian Express would be under my lens for the remaining days of this Corona misery. Forget about Express exploring the Al Qaeda angle of Tablighi Jamaat about which I wrote yesterday; I would look carefully if Express is even reporting the mishap truthfully. As should be their thousands of readers. And authorities.

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Tablighi Jamaat hates attention from the world. They prefer secrecy. But once Corona Vurs patients narrated their travel history from around India, the Nizamuddin headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat kept popping up. It blew the cover off on Monday.

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Tablighi Jamaat hates attention from the world. They prefer secrecy. But once Corona Vurs patients narrated their travel history from around India, the Nizamuddin headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat kept popping up. It blew the cover off on Monday.

Why Tablighi wishes to slip under the radar? How is it even possible with 80 million members, spread over 150 countries (Figures Pew Research Center) ? How it has evaded discourse in public when its’ nearly 100 years since it was born? More so when, its’ essence is to proselytize Islamic tenets?

Well, some did take notice all this while. A clutch of Central Asian countries—Uzbekistan, Tajikstan, Kazakhstan—have banned it.  Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States feels its’ breeding ground for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. A WikiLeaks document released in 2011 claimed that Al Qaeda operatives used its’ Nizamuddin headquarters to obtain travel documents and shelter.

Kafeel Ahmed, a part of this movement, was arrested for the failed attack on Glasgow airport in 2007. A series of coordinated terrorist suicide attacks in London on July 7, 2005,  known as 7/7, which targeted commuters in the city’s public transport system, were carried out by Shehzad Tanveer and Mohammed Saddique Khan who used to pray at a Tablighi masque in Dewsbury, England.

Still Tablighi evades attention. And that’s because its goals appear innocuous. It wants to recreate lives of Muslims in the image of the Prophet Muhammad. The beard has to be of certain length; teeth-cleaning ought to be done with miswak (twig) and not toothbrush.  It professes to be apolitical. Women are segregated; often they sit in one room while a Tabligh elder shouts a lecture from behind a closed door.  It discourages worldly activities, ostensibly to prepare them for the Judgment Day,  From mosque to mosque, cities to cities, states to states, countries to countries, its missionary bands knock at doors, preaching a return to “pure” Islamic values. The lure seems pretty harmless: Why don’t you join us for a few days on the road and see for yourself?

Such promises often attract youth, angry or lacking identity. Men who want things in black and white, and nothing in gray. The other-worldliness holds attraction. The society around loses its lustre. “People are tutored that you don’t fit in, modern world is an aberration, an offense, some form of blasphemy,” says Khaled Abou El Fadl, an Islamic professor in US, “By preparing people in this fashion, you are preparing them to be in a state of warfare against the world.”

This detachment perfectly suits terror groups like Al Qaeda. Those with intense zealousness in Islam are kept in eye. Al Qaeda fish in the Tablighi pond of alienated and escapist youths. ''We have a significant presence of Tablighi Jamaat in the United States, and we have found that Al Qaeda used them for recruiting, now and in the past,'' said Michael J. Heimbach, the deputy chief of the F.B.I.'s international terrorism section.

A chilling analogy is drawn: Tablighi Jamaat is like electricians who set up poles and draw up lines. Till one day the mayor comes and switches on the lights.

Tablighi Jamaat, an Arabic word, means the “group that propagates the faith.” It’s hierarchical. There is an Ameer who dispenses advice to everyone.  Full-time members are usually elders. They make up the Shura or the Council. Younger members of course make up the missionary band. There is a daily mashoora (gathering).

In its Nizamuddin headquarters, Indian Muslims occupy the first floor. Arabs, Algerians, Tunisians, Indonesians, Malayasian etc devouts are spread on different floors. There is a room for communal lunch: people squat on the floor and eat on plastic sheets. There is little time spent on food or sleep. But for a brief siesta, most of the day is spent in Quranic recitation.

Malaysian political scientist, Farish Noor, says in his book Islam on the Move: “Saudi national Abdul Bukhary who was on the watch-list of numerous countries had managed to get himself into the Tablighi markaz (Centre) in Nizamuddin while claiming to be a Tablighi too.” FBI is on record that it has found Al Qaeda was using Tablighi Jamaat for recruiting new terrorists.

How is it funded? No one knows for sure. But the numbers are big. Nizamuddin markaz affords massive accommodation with accompanying food etc. An analyst, Alex Alexiev, wrote way back in 2005: “There is no doubt that some of the vast sums spent by Saudi organizations such as the World Muslim League on proselytism benefit Tablighi Jamaat.” For instance, the Tablighi headquarters of Europe, built in England, was funded by World Muslim League way back in 1978.

Tablighi Jamaat originated in Mewat region (now part of Haryana and Rajasthan) in 1926. The local muslims, known as Meos, shared Hindu traditions, like pheras (going around the sacred fire) in marriage; and celebrated Hindu festivals as they did their own, Eid etc.  In due course, local Muslims, to hold on to their identity, began Tablighi Jamaat.  Islamic scholar Maulana Muhammad Ilyas is said to have begun it.

The last word must belong to Mushirul Hasan, former vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia. “Tablighi Jamaat claims to be totally apolitical. It’s a very convenient statement. No movement is apolitical. Every moment has an objective.”

In the present Corona tremor induced by Tablighi Jamaat, AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan says that this congregation couldn’t disperse because of the nationwide lockdown on March 24.  But he won’t tell that on March 16 itself, no more than 50 were allowed to gather in Delhi.  On March 19, all institutions had been ordered close. On March 22, the Delhi government had announced a lockdown in the Capital. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan too has rushed to the defence of Tablighi Jamaat. He said in a tweet: “it’s unfair to blame them.”

Indeed, a series of incidents, such as ones in Shaheen Bagh, Jamia, Jaffrabad, Seelampur point towards an “Islamic insurrection of sorts  which has come to the surface in the wake of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)”, tweets Amit Malviya, head of the BJP IT cell. Thousands of preachers from abroad were in the town, concealing their purpose of visit. It’s as good a reason as any to press ahead with CAA-NPR-NRC exercise. India needs to find out the enemies who are illegally residing within its borders.

(This article is heavily based on pieces in New York Times and Live Mint. Of course references to Tablighi Jamaat as recruiting ground for terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda won’t be mentioned in our corrupt Lutyens Media). 

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India mutated into 36 new Indias on Sunday. All the 29 states and 7 union territories closed their borders. Citizens can’t cross over. Corona Virus can’t hop around either; it’s the fervent hope.

" ["content"]=> string(6077) "

(The figures in this piece were valid till early Monday).

India mutated into 36 new Indias on Sunday. All the 29 states and 7 union territories closed their borders. Citizens can’t cross over. Corona Virus can’t hop around either; it’s the fervent hope.

First was the dress-rehearsal on March 22. Two days later, the nation went into a three-week lockdown.  Now the Indian state is doubling down. The trigger was tens of thousands of migrant-workers on the streets of Capital. They all wanted to head home, to be with their own. Glitzy megapolis now held no attraction to them.

India, with more than one-sixth of world’s humanity, hasn’t done too badly: Just over a thousand cases; 25 deaths.  There is a prayer in the heart. And questions in the head: Why India is divinity’s chosen child thus far?

It can’t be medical preparedness: India’s healthcare is earnest but poor in pocket. It can’t be hygiene too: for I have seen my foreign friends go in convulsion at stinking public toilets. The reverse logic of poor hygiene endowing Indians with immunity shield is fanciful too. Iran too is crowded and not a gold standard in hygiene. Yet people are falling like flies.  You can’t put tropics as  saviour too. Many cold climes in Europe, not to forget Russia too, have held up good.

Could it be that Indians being largely vegan has been a militating factor? But then Pakistan and Bangladesh, largely non-vegetarians, haven’t done too badly either. Nineteen deaths put together between India’s these two neighbours.  Both have been less than stringent too: Just one out of Pakistan’s four province has been in complete lockdown.  Bangladesh too has been feathery in clamping down on its citizens.  Together, Indian sub-continent is a quarter of world’s all Homo Sapiens.

So, less than 50 deaths in the Indian sub-continent of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  Could it be the genetic make-up of the people of Indian sub-continent? Unlikely too. Tens of nations haven’t worked up a sweat on Corona Virus yet. They all can’t be of Indian sub-continent’s genetic stock even though it would be a dream for an Indian anthropologist and nightmare for Occident’s theorists.

It’s also not as if this part of the world has always been pandemic-proof. Millions died out of cholera in India in the 19th century. India lost between 10-20 million people to influenza pandemic in the 20th century, in 1918. Small pox and polio devoured Indians by millions.  There was no Pakistan or Bangladesh then, India was one cohesive unit under British colonial yoke.

Could it be that India clamped down on tourists in nick of time? After all, figures do tell a tale. Most Corona Virus cases have assailed two states, Kerala and Maharashtra. And that’s because they were lax in testing returning natives from abroad. The southern state of Kerala allowed thosuands of its immigrant workers to return home from the Gulf without a preliminary test at the airports.  Maharashtra wasn’t alert too when group tours to UAE came home and brought the Virus in their wake.

The cynics also doubt if the Indian sub-continent is true with its figures. India, for instance, hasn’t done more than 40,000 random tests. What if there are thousands more undetected? What if Corona deaths aren’t being reported in these days of lockdown?  Common-sense dictates it’s not possible. It’s unlikely a sick man won’t seek medical help. And it’s impossible to fudge figures in a federal democracy. Centre and states often run at cross-purpose.

It makes you cast your eyes and mind outside home, away from the Indian sub-continent. Africa is doing perfectly fine: And they are the master purveyors of bushmeat! South Asia has shown light collateral damage from Corona Virus thus far.  Latin America, but for Brazil, is ok too. So one would say are the states of Eastern Europe.

That makes you scribble the list of unfortunate countries. China was first off the block but after 3,300 lives down is returning to normal. The real mayhem is in West:  Either side of the Atlantic.  Between these muscular nations (United States, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada) and lesser ones only in degrees (Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, Portugal, Norway etc), these countries account for 29,529 out of 33,956 lives lost: Over 90% of all fatalities.

Two reasons cry out for attention: One, the West deluded itself with its spectacular medical facilities as an insurance against Corona Virus. Two, flow of goods is the essence of Capitalism. And these nations travelled till the time death began knocking doors in neighbourhood. A huge mistake was to stop inward flights from the rest of the world: When the crying need was to halt outward flights on its runways.

This module of course doesn’t fit with Iran, presently reeling under US sanctions. It probably began with the religious city of Qom which begets 20 million visitors every year. From Shi’ite clerics and seminaries, it spread to nearby cities of Tehran, Isfahan and Kashan.  Iran was unlucky as Virus came early and didn’t give it time to stop the community spread.

The jury is far from out.  China’s peak was over by mid-February. India is only a week into the critical Phase Three now. Clustered slums are real worry. It could still go horribly wrong. If it doesn’t, it would be a moment to cherish.  Not just healthcare. Or hygiene. Or genetics.  Or lockdown. India then could afford to find dozens of other reasons to pat its back.

(A modified form of this piece first appeared in rt.com).

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Mr Prime Minister,  The Indian state would be making a fatal mistake if it chooses to sit on its haunches just because a 21-day lockdown is in force from Wednesday.

 

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Mr Prime Minister,

The Indian state would be making a fatal mistake if it chooses to sit on its haunches just because a 21-day lockdown is in force from Wednesday.

Your  second address to the nation on Tuesday was an incessant appeal to stay at home. You described this measure as “one flicker of light in this enveloping darkness”. You left no one in doubt that India won’t be able to overcome this deadly killer virus on paramedical staff, ICU (intensive care unit) beds and ventilators alone.

Unofficial figures suggest India has probably 150,000 ICU beds and 75,000 ventilators. Probably a few lakh paramedical staff. It has ramped up random testing since last week. But India needs a proactive strategy to catch the “virus” in hibernation within four walls of homes. 

In simpler terms, go for door-to-door testings across India.

You quoted South Korea more than once in your address to emphasis how the Asian nation appears to have come to grips with Corona Virus. You identified “social distancing” as the prime reason for such a spectacular success. But South Korea hasn’t resorted to a lockdown. Of course, such a comparison is unfair given the unequal medical muscle of the two countries.

South Korea has also relied on doing tests on its citizens at every high-spot of people’s presence: medical stores, grocery shops, petrol pumps and of course homes. It so far has conducted over 400,000 tests on its 51-million citizens. United States, in contrast, has done random tests on only 50,000 of its 300-mllion plus citizens.  India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, only has a sample of around 5,000 random tests thus far.

India, before it banned international flights from landing this Sunday, had largely restricted its testing to arriving passengers. It then has lately woken up to random testing. But still random tests are within 1,000 a day. South Korea in contrast is testing close to 15,000 citizens everyday. 

Lately, stirrings are being felt across the country. Jaipur is isolating every 3-km radius area where a positive test has emerged. It’s being followed with home-to-home tests. The paramedical staff is being supported by volunteers and nursing students. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now conducting door-to-door visits in Mumbai. But these visits primarily are to check with housing societies if there is anyone who suspects himself/herself to be infected with the deadly virus. They are also checking on those with a recent travel history in these societies. Ludhiana is being remarkably alert as health officials are visiting every household in the district to obtain a declaration if anyone in the family has travelled abroad recently or is showing symptoms of virus.

On paper, it shouldn’t be difficult for the Indian state to resort to home-to-home tests. After all, it’s a practice which is followed during vaccination drives, if not entirely during General Elections. India would find volunteers in thousands. All it needs to do is to provide these bravehearts with adequate protective gears, equipments and a few hours of training on how to conduct tests.

One hopes your government isn’t being too wary lest home-to-home tests are construed a “dry run” for National Public Register (NPR) exercise. Rumour-mongers of course are busy overtime. But frankly, the government has no option but to bite the bullet. It must take recourse to judiciary, Constitution and the long arm of law. And to hell with naysers.

Yours’ truly

Ashish Shukla

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India stood as one behind its prime minister Narendra Modi’s call to “isolate” itself on Sunday but there is a fear that the deadly Corona Virus could be laughing in the background—or in the midst of 1.3 billion people.

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India stood as one behind its prime minister Narendra Modi’s call to “isolate” itself on Sunday but there is a fear that the deadly Corona Virus could be laughing in the background—or in the midst of 1.3 billion people.

Any world leader could have swooned at such a doting citizenry which stood indoors and came out with pots and pans; conch-shells and bells at an appointed hour to extol India’s medical warriors in the frontline against the pandemic virus. But Modi’s words in the aftermath are one of caution: “Stay indoors”.

For the moment, Modi’s message is directed at residents of 80 districts of 22 states which have officially been “shut down.” But for grocery and medical shops, nothing moves. This figure, if the example of rest of the world is anything to go by, is due to shoot skywards in coming days, if not hours.

Nations, mauled by this virus, have shown a spike after the first 250 cases are detected. Thus, Italy went from 322 to 41,000 cases in 24 days. Spain (261 to 17,000) and the United States (233 to 14,000) went into a tailspin in just two weeks. Germany (262 to 14,000) and France (285 to 11,000) nosedived in a mere 16 days. United Kingdom took a dozen days to find its 270 cases balloon to 3,200.

India crossed its 300-patient figure last Saturday.

India, on its part, is stretching itself thin to buck this trend. Trains have stopped running as India’s migrant poor, who work in cities and different states, are coming in hordes on platforms to return home. It’s Capital, Delhi, is now formally under curfew. Most states are shutting shops, entertainment malls, restaurants, metros etc. in cities to ensure people stay indoors. Only essential services like grocery and medicine shops are exempted.

All signs indicate that India is fearing the worst. Its health ministry held a press conference on Sunday to confess they are mostly using anti-viral drugs to combat the menace. “But then countries most developed, having the best of

scientific and medical infrastructure, haven’t been able to come to grips with it,” said the official rather sheepishly.

The preparation for the worst-case scenario is underwhelming. New labs are being taken into the fold but they add only 60 to the numbers which is battle-ready from the State’s side. Schools are being converted into quarantine-wards. Medical staff in the business of testing suspect cases is complaining of inadequate protection. India would lose the battle if its medical personnel take to heels. Then there would be no stopping the marauding virus.

A committed, aware citizenry is thus India’s best bet. And there could be no better man than Modi for the task as millions swear by him. His secretariat is holding meetings with honchos of other states to get real on the situation. States increasingly are offering money and free food to aid India’s poor, without a formal job and now shunned by the shops and householders who usually seek them out on a day-to-day basis.

Isolation seems to be the first and possibly best bet for the Indian state. Many of its citizens believe that the rising temperatures could stall its spread. Some hope Indians have the requisite immunity system within their frames, having grown up in less than perfect environment, to combat virus. Nobody knows for sure.

For the moment though the nation is on its Sunday-high. The recent heat generated on Kashmir or the recent Citizenship Act is doused. Families are rooting for neighbours they hadn’t noticed previously. Indian flags are being unfurled on balconies and roof-tops. There is celebration at the sight of empty streets—quite eerie, Orwellian, for this otherwise would signify the end of the world. 

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It’s the last time readers you would hear about it. So I want you to be serious. Ranjan Gogoi, former Chief Justice of India and now a member of the Rajya Sabha, has said that there is a “Lobby of Six” which controls our judiciary by maligning them.  You could make it a fun exercise. Or if you are serious, reflect how our system is compromised.

" ["content"]=> string(5473) "

It’s the last time readers you would hear about it. So I want you to be serious. Ranjan Gogoi, former Chief Justice of India and now a member of the Rajya Sabha, has said that there is a “Lobby of Six” which controls our judiciary by maligning them.  You could make it a fun exercise. Or if you are serious, reflect how our system is compromised.

Three names immediately spring to my mind as suspects: Prashant Bhushan, Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Singhvi.  They opposed tooth and nail matters of national importance, such as Rafale, Ram Temple, Article 370, EVM, Loya judge case etc in varying degrees, individually or collectively.  Remember the names who wanted an “impeachment” motion against then CJI Deepak Misra in 2018? A few judges too cross my mind for some strange verdicts. But I better not spell out my hunch.

( Or it could be that Gogoi might be hinting at a completely different set who work behind the scenes. So folks, send in your choice of “Lobby of Six” on my twitter or facebook handle.  Let this issue hang in our public discourse. For your newspapers are unlikely to give it wind. They have already dug up trenches to bury Gogoi’s views. I would follow up this pieces with due credit to your credible hunches).  

Gogoi says that this “Lobby of Six” took recourse to “maligning” to control judiciary.  You only “malign” through propaganda. And propaganda is best managed by media. This is rather easy. I remember a piece I wrote when a “sexual harassment” case was popped up against Gogoi last year.  Three websites with Leftist bent--The Wire, Scroll and Caravan—made a coordinated attack. They appeared hand-in-gloves with the forces who wanted to malign our judiciary. My piece then had tried to connect the dots. Read it and see if you agree with my deductions.

The Indian Express and The Hindu are two other national dailies which are more than suspects, in my humble opinion.  The judges and advocates they have in their rosters as guest columnists/rent-a-byte individuals, all seem in control of Left-Liberal forces.  Refer to the pages of these two newspapers when a “sexual impropriety” charge was made against Gogoi last April. Or the recent spate of articles they have had against Gogoi’s nomination in Rajya Sabha.  That Gogoi has now chosen to speak to Times of India, and not Express and The Hindu, carries its own message. Or it could be that Express and the Hindu didn’t approach Gogoi in the first place. The latter is worse: for the gold-standard in journalism is to hear both sides of story. Don’t pronounce someone guilty unless you’ve heard him.

Be that as it may, do read Gogoi’s interview in Times of India. He makes some pertinent points which deserve to be a part of the collective memory of we the citizens who unfortunately are also readers of a few disgraceful newspapers. As per the supposed perks on being a Rajya Sabha member, Gogoi puts forth the same arguments I had questioned Left-Liberals on in recent days.

Gogoi says that Ayodhya was a unanimous verdict by a bench of five judges. So all other were compromised? Rafale too was a unanimous verdict. So the other sitting judges were also compromised? Isn’t it a slur on their integrity? Gogoi also took on his critics who said he practiced “sealed cover” jurisprudence. “Should I have made public details on Rafale”? Pakistan would’ve laughed its guts out. Why was this bunch silent when the judiciary asked for sealed cover report on “2G scam”. Or when now the Supreme Court has asked for “sealed cover” report on Shaheen Bagh?

Strong words. And a bit of humour from his ex-Lordship: “I never was, never am and never will be afraid of anyone’s opinion, except my wife.”

Hopefully, Gogoi’s interview would give teeth to “independent” voices within the judiciary.  There is no reason to buckle down to this “Lobby of Six” or anyone else. You have nobody but your conscience to be answerable to. As for the citizens who make up this country, pay close attention to happenings in our courts. 

(Post script: As to how our judiciary functions, listen to the voice of a fearless amongst us, legal hawk Vibhor Anand, who had penned for us a few pieces in the past).

 

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Frankly, what kind of nincompoops we have in our public discourse.

" ["content"]=> string(5382) "

Frankly, what kind of nincompoops we have in our public discourse.

Indian Express is jumping up and down on Ranjan Gogoi, former Chief Justice of India, having taken up the Rajya Sabha nomination by the President, Ram Nath Kovind.

It’s like a barking dog which hasn’t pissed for two hours and is scratching at the exit door.

Express has scavenged its own plate of former lawyers and judges who have a hangdog expression of a mongrel in claiming arbiters (judiciary) would now be seen in bed with the litigant (government).

(In a separate story, this rag typically distorts an old Gogoi exchange with a lawyer. Gogoi had asked the lawyer if he believed post-retirement jobs is a scar on judiciary. Express puts it as Gogoi’s own views!!! Do click this hyperlink and mark the difference between the headline and the text.)

For god’s sake, what’s Gogoi’s crime? How does it fit the punishment he is getting at the hands of mockingbirds?

Shekhar Gupta, like a devil quoting from the scriptures, finds it morally repugnant on his website. Should we even bother what the cocktail-couple Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghose think about it? Or second guess what shows up on the twitter timelines of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan?

Would somebody ask these hopeless creatures how does a Rajya Sabha seat benefit a former Chief Justice of India? Does he get more money than he would have otherwise as post-retirement benefits? Does he get more in terms of travel benefits which a senior citizen in Makkhiganj gets by way of routine? Is a salary of Rs 16,000 such a lolly?  Is it worth your time to spend time in a branch of legislature where you could be flanked by illiterates?

Want to know his daily, dearness and travel allowance? The sum he would get for office-expense? The free telephone calls which would be his privilege? Click this link and quarantine yourself in a fortnight of shame. Just ask yourself what could have goaded Gogoi to accept the Rajya Sabha offer when he could have easily put his feet up and basked in the afterglow of his Ram Temple judgment? How big is the perk of a Rajya Sabha seat for a former Chief Justice of India?

A Manmohan Singh to this day, with bypass surgeries and all, thinks he could contribute at 88. ( Some loyalties don’t come with expiry dates). A Yashwant Sinha still can’t live without the limelight. The legal legend, K. Parsaran is busy with Sabrimala after Ram Temple at the tender age of 92. Why this nation would like to lose out on a living authority on law and Constitution in Gogoi? Wouldn’t it prepare our legislatures to be Constitutionally correct in passing a contentious bill?

Could you guess who were Franklin Roosevelt, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Woodrow Wilson, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama before they became the president of the United States? Or Clement Atlee, Tony Blair for United Kingdom? Lawyers, of course. Why their legal stances didn’t come in their way of vying for White House or 10 Downing Street? How come no barb comes the way of Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi who take sides on “religious” battles while remaining stalwarts of “secular” Congress?

Just think. How many would be more worthy than Gogoi to be in Rajya Sabha? What does he gain by way of money or power or prestige? Would he be remembered in annals as a legal light or a member of parliament? Why would he open himself to ridicule in such a polarized society? To hear and read nonsense from imbeciles? How is it “copulating” between judiciary and legislature when the man is in no position to influence the former or to be the casting vote on the latter?

It would also do us no harm to know of Gogoi’s background. He belongs to a royal family from his mother’s side. His father was once the chief minister of Assam. Power and money isn’t new to him. He was born into it. Adulating heads he would’ve seen from the very first day of his life. And now we are supposedly giving him “nirvana” with a Rajya Sabha seat. No shit, Sherlock.

And how does Narendra Modi gain in influencing Gogoi’s presence in Rajya Sabha? Wouldn’t he be better off in choosing a yes man than one who could intellectually be a problem? Why to convey even a hint of suspicion on Ram Temple judgment? Well, of course, unless Modi thinks that our Parliament could do with the presence of such a luminary.

This is the level of discourse India is reducing itself to these days. A few newspapers and crackpots are its’ Pope. Throw them out in the first sewer you find on our roads. A few deranged are telling you to take leave of your common sense.

Don’t do it.

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It’s difficult. You see right-wingers are as high-nosed as anyone who is first among equals. A little like the elites they criticize. They ought to put cause ahead of self; blow wind to voices in the society. Those who could step in when they leave. For this is a long overhaul. One life-time is not enough. They are battling an entrenched monster. There is need to harness. Less preening, more scouting.

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It’s difficult. You see right-wingers are as high-nosed as anyone who is first among equals. A little like the elites they criticize. They ought to put cause ahead of self; blow wind to voices in the society. Those who could step in when they leave. For this is a long overhaul. One life-time is not enough. They are battling an entrenched monster. There is need to harness. Less preening, more scouting.

You cast your eyes around and it gets stuck in three dimensions: Social Media, Academic, Debaters. I don’t know who are the right-wingers in languages other than Hindi and English. Isn’t that sad? I am also leaving out backroom worthies: websites, historians, field-workers, organizers etc. True, they are a mighty force. But this is about individuals.

Here I name my Playing Eleven, captain and all. There are also support staff and motivators.  Inevitably, those out would be miffed. But I promise this is an annual list. So there would be another in 2021. (In bracket, you have their twitter accounts).

Openers:  Swapan Dasgupta. Swati Goel Sharma

It’s a kind of Gavaskar-Sehwag choice. One, orthodox, steeped in academics, never caught on wrong foot. Other, flamboyant, swings hard, stares down the bowlers. While Swapan (@swapan55) could be run-less for long hours, Swati (@swati_gs) is a busy-bee, swatting propaganda on lynching and riots. The two are not of the same kind.

Swapan could be irked to see Swati as his partner.  My criteria is who contributes more to the “team” – in terms of rattling the Lutyens’ agenda. Swapan could be too politically correct at times, tries too hard to be neutral, and in my view that’s a bit underwhelming to the cause. (Truth to tell, I like Swapan the debater better than the writer). Swati doesn’t carry any such baggage. She puts her skin in the game.

Middle Order: Amit Malviya, R.Jagannathan (Capt), Aravindan Neelakandan

All three are my favourite and I put them in that order: At number 3, 4 and 5.

Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya), of course, is the IT cell head of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But his value to masses lies in TV debates in which he chooses his facts and words like Rahul Dravid did with his flicks and drives.  Pretty well-organized. He could be nasty without a snarl on his face. His directness is unnerving to the likes of Rajdeep Sardesai.

R. Jagannathan (@TheJaggi) is heads and shoulders above the rest. A Sachin Tendulkar of this team. He brings so many dimensions on so varied subjects that it’s almost unreal. A most original thinker.  An erudite man who in my opinion is the best journo in the country. Swarajyamag is lucky to have him on board.

Aravindan Neelakandan (@arvindneela ) who? Well, look for him in swarajyamag.com. He takes up the most contentious issues which Liberal-Leftist forces are fond of passing as truth. There’s a certain rootedness in his pieces which convey the essence of India, be it on architecture, archeology or even in culinary domain. A most credible voice who prefers his work to do the talking.

ALL-ROUNDER: Dr Anand Ranganathan

Dr Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72 ) is the Jacques Kallis of this “team”. Could defend and attack as it suits him. Immaculate with his facts. Sarcasm and poison comes easy to him, as does humour.  But sometimes “labours” with his idioms and metaphors.  Prefers a monologue than to a real debate. But he’s a work in progress—I sincerely hope the “professor” takes this comment in the spirit it’s said. Life is rewarding to those who are its’ students.

WICKET-KEEPER:  Rahul Shivshankar

Rahul Shivsankar (@RShivshankar) hands down is the best anchor in the business today. A MS Dhoni, if you may. He brings on nasty Left-Liberal forces on his show and then schools them with facts. Ups a mirror which reflects their ugly visage. Puts everyone at ease, irrespective of their bent. Extremely good with words and expressions. Earnest to a fault.  Doesn’t let a debate flag.

BOWLERS:  Arnab Goswami, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, Tarek Fateh, Pushpendra Kulshreshtra

Arnab Goswami is often rash, a sledger, who arguably isn’t as good as he once was. But he was a trend-setter. His put-downs make no distinction between a Rahul Gandhi or a Shashi Tharoor or with people he once shared the studios with. These days he gets his runs like Steve Waugh, often ugly, but, as said, the opposition hates him, and that’s good enough.

Dr Swamy (@Swamy39) has too many distinctions to his name. He does some “real” damage to biggies of India’s political landscape.  Gandhis and Owaisis amongst present times. Karunanidhis of the past. He could make legal hawks like Ram Jethmalani twitch on TV debates. Some of India’s biggest headlines--UPA Scams, Ram Janmabhoomi etc—bear his imprint.  Indefatigable. Brutal with his words. Erudite.  Quite a bit his own man. Friends and foes fear him in equal measure.

Tarek Fateh (@TarekFatah) isn’t often seen on TV these days. But his value lies in exposing the “muddled” mindset of Muslims.  He defends Islam but believes it’s hostage to Mullahs and Jihadis.  He doesn’t as much spew venom as he spits it. Few have put Islam under as sharp lens as he does. If Islam needs a “Reformation”, Tarek Fateh could be its’ Martin Luther.

Pushpendra Kulshreshtra (@Pushpendraamu @PushpendraKul  ) has kind of burst on consciousness in recent times. A former journalist, he is excellent in front of camera. Has a good grounding in Quran. History is his armour. Logic his shield. Words his halberd. He is a rage amongst Hindi-speakers and that’s a sizeable number to help the team’s cause. Needs to be more Social Media savvy though: Has two twitter accounts!

Post script:  These 11 are in people’s eyes. But the support staff and philosophers are no less significant.  Madhu Purnima Kishwar (@madhukishwar) is unlucky to miss out the first XI. Rahul Roushan (@rahulroushan)  and Nupur J. Sharma (@UnSubtleDesi) are excellent for OpIndia. I like Abhijit Iyer-Mitra (@Iyervval) too. Yaajnaseni (@yaajnaseni) is a rising star but you won’t believe it looking at numbers who follow her on Twitter. Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) and Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) are popular. Among philosophers, True Indology (@TlinExile) is brilliant. Dr Koenraad Elst (@Koenraad_Elst) is without peer. Rajiv Malhotra (@@RajivMessage), David Frawley (@@davidfrawleyved) and Subhash Kak (@@subhashkak1) all are shining lights. Go out and look for them if you don’t already.

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Indian Express today made no mention that the Congress, led by party leader Sonia Gandhi, staged a walk-out when Union home minister Amit Shah was giving a detailed account of Delhi riots in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

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Indian Express today made no mention that the Congress, led by party leader Sonia Gandhi, staged a walk-out when Union home minister Amit Shah was giving a detailed account of Delhi riots in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Impartial observers would be surprised on both counts: One, Why Congress walked out when it were they who had largely been clamouring for the BJP government to come out clean on recent Delhi riots (February 24-25). Two, how it escaped the notice of a national daily which had no less than two big front page stories on the proceedings in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Indian Express also left out a very significant intervention by union minister Nitin Gadkari who rose up even as Congress MPs were staging a walk-out. “It’s such a sensitive issue. They (Congress) never lose an opportunity to curse the government. But when the home minister is answering, they are staging a walk-out without spelling out adequate reasons. It’s not a good example for democracy.”

Though Indian Express took note of the incidents of “hate speech” which Amit Shah spelled out in detail, it didn’t report some very significant points which the home minister made on the backdrop of Delhi riots.

“They are saying that Delhi riots began only when rallies in support of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) began hitting the streets,” said Shah “The fact is, there were more pro-CAA rallies than the anti-CAA rallies all along.”

“27 rallies I myself have attended,” remarked Shah “But if you keep your eyes and minds close, how would you see it.”

Shah challenged the opponents of CAA to show one clause which threatened the citizenship of any India, “leave alone Muslims.”

To those who say that their objection to CAA is that it’s being done on religious grounds, Shah said he could show 25 such operational laws which are on account of religion alone. “What do you think is Muslim Personal Law?” Shah retorted to underline that the criticism against CAA is a vicious propaganda and isn’t based on facts.

Indian Express, no need to add, didn’t cover these utterances by Shah also.

It’s been a pattern of Indian Express to leave no opportunity to criticize the Modi government but it employs a light-hand when it comes to narrative which goes against the Left-Liberal canards.

 

 

 

 

 

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If a popular vote is to be taken, Jyotiraditya Scindia would only be second to Rahul Gandhi as a major Congress leader in the mind of millions.

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If a popular vote is to be taken, Jyotiraditya Scindia would only be second to Rahul Gandhi as a major Congress leader in the mind of millions.

Maybe not in the minds of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul himself, or Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, or the cronies who go by the name of Kamal Naths, Anand Sharmas, Ghulam Nabi Azads and Randeep Surjewala. But take a vote and Scindia would be second to none but Rahul Gandhi.

Sonia’s Congress has lost little time in dubbing Scindia as a traitor. People like Jairam Ramesh are talking about ideological betrayals. Who are we to tell him that when Congress joined hands with Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Shiv Sena and even Asaduddin Owaisi once, they were hardly being true to their façade of “secularism.”

Congress would also not accept that young leaders are being sidelined in the party’s hierarchy. So a Shashi Tharoor loses out to Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in Lok Sabha as party head; a Sachin Pilot is an outcast in Rajasthan; a Milind Deora is gathering moss through neglect and we all know what happened to Hemant Biswa Sarma.  Did we also tell that Jagannath Reddy and his mother once was badly humiliated by Gandhis once?

A favourite Congress tactics has been to discourage rise of young leaders. At the same time they won’t allow a regional satrap to get too strong either. Thus a Capt. Amrinder Singh has a Navjot Singh Sidhu on his tails in Punjab.  A Ashok Tanwar would be at the heels of a Hooda. The Congress archives carry similar neglect of a Chandrashekhar or Morarji Desai or Jagjivan Ram. The bottom line: Anybody who could be seen as fit to replace Gandhis as party’s leader is sidelined in no time. Do you think our Gandhis face opposition from the likes of Motilal Vohra or Ambika Soni in the Congress central command? No chance.

Any young leader, who perceives another fruitful 20-30 years in politics, with a modicum of self-respect and talent, is unlikely to see Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra vault over all of them, be as a member of Congress’ core committee or as she is now being pushed to be a member of the Rajya Sabha. A woman who is tarred by the reputation of her husband and now by her own machinations on paintings, whose short-temper had bruised most who were around her during the 2019 General Elections in Uttar Pradesh, won’t be accepted by any self-respecting politician. More so someone like Scindia who has lived through the grime and dust of electoral politics for nearly two decades now.  

The Gandhis took little notice that at least 22 present MLAs who make up Congress’ tally in Madhya Pradesh assembly were hand-picked up by Scindia during the state elections in 2018. The likes of Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh had their own reasons for sidelining Scindia since they are busy promoting their own kith and kin as GenNext leaders. But Gandhis ignored all this. They were more interested in securing nobody becomes a challenge to them at the pole position of the party.

It’s clear as daylight that Gandhis at this moment are neither concerned by India nor the well-being of Congress. They couldn’t give a damn about “secularism” or “ideology” leave alone “Constitution” or “democracy.” All they are worried about is saving their own skin. To somehow remain in control of rthe party. hey wouldn’t care a fig about Muslims too who by and large are economically backwards. Unfortunately, Indian Muslims begin with the default position of “Anyone but BJP.”

Most probably, Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh would now fall. Most probably popular “mama” Shivraj Singh Chouhan would again become the chief minister. Most probably Scindia would now join BJP. Most probably, Scindia would be important in state and national politics for the BJP but a chief ministership at this stage is a long shot. What we can say with certainty: Congress with Gandhis at helm has no future.

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Prime minister Narendra Modi made some important points in the Economic Times Global Business Summit this week which are worth recounting for unfortunate readers of our country who don’t get to read it in our extremely biased and prejudiced Engish mainstream newspapers, by and large.

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Prime minister Narendra Modi made some important points in the Economic Times Global Business Summit this week which are worth recounting for unfortunate readers of our country who don’t get to read it in our extremely biased and prejudiced Engish mainstream newspapers, by and large.

Modi first classified his opponents into a class which does all the “right talking” while he believes in “right doing.”

“They want a status quo,” said Modi, adding things don’t change by retaining the status quo.

Modi said wasn’t it strage that “those who claim to stand for gender justice ended up opposing Triple Talaq Act.”

“Those who claim to champion humanitarian rights of refugees are today opposing it (CAA).

“Those who speak of Constitution as the supreme voice of conscience in this country are opposing the abrogating of Article 370 which was mentioned as a `temporary’ measure in the Constitution. They are opposing the very Constitution which is being extended to Jammu and Kashmir now.

“Those who speak of Justice, lose no time in dragging the judiciary through the mud if just one verdict goes against what they have been championing for.”

Modi then took it upon himself to highlight various achievements of his tenure which is glossed over and ignored by his opponents.

“We were 11th in world ranking in terms of biggest economy of the world. Today we are fifth.

“In Ease of Doing Business, we have jumped 79 rungs.

“The Foreign Direct Investment in the country is touching new records every day.

He then compared the laying of roads, railway tracks and other infrastructural activities of his tenure with the previous UPA and showed the latter to be a laggard.

“The air-travellers numbered 17 crores before 2014. Now they are 34 crores per year.

“Hasn’t DBT, or Direct Benefit Transfer, saved hundreds of crores of rupees from going into wrong hands?

“Under the Mudra Yojna, we have given through banks more than 1,100,000 crore rupees to youth and women of this country for promoting enterprenaeurship, without seeking bank guarantee.

“Everyday we used to hear of people losing lives on unmanned railway traffic lights earlier. We have now made sure they don’t remain unmanned now. For the first time in history, we are refunding money to passengers in case the train is late.”

Modi also mentioned the electrification on railway tracks as well as the bio-toilets which has given the railways completely a new makeover.

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The rule of law has taken two extraordinary steps this week which should send a chill down the spine of forces hell-bent on breaking up India on religious lines.

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The rule of law has taken two extraordinary steps this week which should send a chill down the spine of forces hell-bent on breaking up India on religious lines.

The first one concerns media which clearly works on partisan political lines, if not to the smell of funds which they could be receiving from Indian and foreign sources. The other involves the alleged anti-CAA violence perpetrators in Uttar Pradesh who have been hung out to dry in public by the state government.

The Information and Broadcasting ministry banned two Malayalam channels for 48 hours, beginning 5.30 p.m on Friday (The ban was subsequently lifted this morning following appeals by the two channels).  The two channels are Media One and Asianet News. Media One is owned by a company which is backed by Jamaat-e-Islami. Asianet News is indirectly owned by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar.  (So please cut out the notion that the Centre is discriminating on partisan lines).

The I & B Ministry’s charge against Media One read: “The anchor/correspondent saying that it seems the vandals and police are hands in glove (on Delhi violence)...and the government’s cold-shouldered approach towards anti-CAA protesters is the main reason behind ongoing protests in the national capital.”

On Asianet News, the Ministry cited similar instances of anchor/correspondent claiming “Centre gave silent consent for the violence”; and that the “violence turned communal after a group of Hindu people chanted Jai Shri Ram.”

Centre had to return to its trenches against NDTV for a similar ban in 2016 on fake news after the Channel knocked the doors of Supreme Court. The present move seems to convey Centre's intent to check unbridled "press freedom." A few newspapers too, with their glaring bias and prejudice, promote ill-will and communal hatred. They too deserve be booked.

The second instance, which concerns the CAA protestors and the UP government, is sensational. The Yogi Adityanath government has put up big banners at four prominent junctions of Lucknow, the Capital, which puts the faces, names and addresses of 28 arsonists booked for anti-CAA violence last December. These people have claimed it puts them and their families at risk.  And that the charges against them haven’t been proved. The UP government says it’s not a conviction rather a recovery notice made public.

I have a feeling it’s the start of Big Brother striking back. The gloves could be off. Media had crossed the threshold where it could hide behind the garb of “freedom of press.” The “mob-street” strategy of political, colonial and Islamist forces could now be paid in the same coin. You wanted to take the battle in your hand; avoid the Courts? Go ahead. Governemnt would meet you with the guerilla tactics of its own. Tomorrow, when you don’t want to show your papers—“Kaagaz nahin dekhaenge”---your mobile networks could go out of coverage area. Your bank accounts could be suspended. You would then remember Indian courts--and find your “kaagaz”--for good reasons.

Who knows, judiciary in this country could be carrying grouse of its own. This “mafia” all too often drags them in the mud. One day, the Chief Justice of India is embarrassed on sexual harassment charge. Other day, an innocuous praise of PM Modi makes a judge an object of hatred amongst Liberal media. At other times, social activists say they find judiciary redundant. Impeachment moves are made against the Chief Justice of India. When judiciary offers mediation to Shaheen Bagh protestors, the latter evinces no interest. Its plea not to occupy public places falls on deaf ears. No wonder, the judiciary is now taking its own sweet time on anti-CAA petitions. It has said it would settle Sabrimala protest first and then worry about CAA. Meanwhile, the government would roll its own National Population Register (NPR) process next month.

It apparently escaped the notice of anti-Modi forces that a person who could rearrange the decades-old Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir won’t be cowed down by pressure tactics. A man who could send the armed forces to border in an eye-to-eye showdown for months in Doklam, won’t be cowed down. A man who could do a surgical strike inside the Pakistani territory, can’t be cowed down. A man who could defy the threat of US sanctions against buying S-400 missile system from Russia, can’t be cowed down.

So Left-Liberals, dub him the way you prefer. Take steroids of Islamist forces such as Iran and Turkey. Inject the poison of United Nations Human Rights Council or European Union. The man doesn’t give a fig. A billion behind him don’t give a fig either.  

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Indian prime minister Narendra Modi could sense a long road ahead. He is under attack from all corners, both at home and abroad. From civil rights activists to media; from foreign parliaments to Congress; Presidents to Islamic leaders. All are baying for his blood. And have declared him enemy of Indian Muslims.

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Indian prime minister Narendra Modi could sense a long road ahead. He is under attack from all corners, both at home and abroad. From civil rights activists to media; from foreign parliaments to Congress; Presidents to Islamic leaders. All are baying for his blood. And have declared him enemy of Indian Muslims.

It of course is not true. There is nothing in Citizenship Act which is anti-Muslim. There is nothing in NPR which wasn’t there in its’ previous exercise in 2010. NRC, if it happens, is too far out. But what does Modi do? Should he allow the events to overtake him? Or should he follow the time-table his government has set for the exercise? Should he compromise or should he stay firm?

Let’s evaluate what Modi gains if he softens his stance. Let’s say he scraps Citizenship Act or puts it in abeyance. Would he gain the support of Indian Muslims? Would shameless Indian media applaud him on his statesmanship? Won’t we read headlines in Western press such as “Power of people foil a bigot dictator’s pogrom”? Would Iran and Turkey; Pakistan and Malaysia hail him? The answer is NO.

Let’s also evaluate the fallout at his own side of the fence. He could appear weak to his millions of his supporters and lose their support. He could hurt his “raj dharma” by which he professes all too often. He has often said powers would come and go but India remains. Should he be true to his oath to the “Constitution” to do what he believes is best for the Republic? For which he has been chosen by 1.30 billion people of this land?

Now let’s consider the eventuality in case Modi decides to stay firm on his decision.  Let’s take the domestic and foreign fallout separately; though both in reality feed on each other. If Modi stays firm and presses ahead in the muddied waters, there could be: (a) More riots across the country; (b) Indian and Western Media would only intensify their anti-Modi coverage; (c) A few state governments could refuse to implement CAA; (d) Kashmir would burn now that winter is in retreat; (e) And even judiciary could buckle under and pass a stricture against him.

Again, what do you think Modi should do? Compromise or stay firm?

From above synopsis, it’s apparent that Compromise wouldn’t help him a wee bit. Or his government. Or India. Or Future governments. A weak Modi now would give a template to anti-India forces to pursue in years to come. Future leaders may also not have the energy, vision or selflessness of a Narendra Modi.

It would be a severe blow to Hindus who are in dire need to be in touch and in sync with their heritage of language (Sanskrit), culture and religion. A Hindu revival is what the world doesn’t want. A revival of Hindu ethos is what could save this world. A blow to it would only embolden the Islamist powers. Besides, history won’t judge Modi kindly if he succumbs to pressure. And what he would say as explanation???

Further, suppose the CAA and NPR throw up unaccounted for illegal migrants/infiltrators on our land. Could they be sleeper cells? Jihadists? Terrorists? Putting your and my life at risk? Would those who are championing “human rights” and “democracy” and “constitution” come to our help? In such an eventuality, who would we all end up blaming for?—Modi of course.

There is simply no going back, Mr Modi. People have given you mandate to run this country on their behalf for five years. Parliament has given you sanction. Supreme Court would judge you by the Constitution. Nothing else matters. States powers which put populism ahead of India, dismiss them. Jihadi Islamists, political leaders and their organizations who whip up Indian Muslims into arson and violence, book them. Media, which is unbridled and peddles fake news, suspend them. Western Media could take a walk. Don’t give a hoot to what a few foreign powers say. Ignore the garbage of a European Parliament or a United Nations Human Rights Council.

What would happen at the most? There might be a dozen more calibrated riots. A United States could slap you with sanctions (though it won’t as long as Trump is in power, hopefully till 2024). Military intervention is out of question against a serious nuclear power like us. Are you worrying about your reputation Mr Modi? Playing ball to anti-India forces wouldn’t spruce up your reputation. Indeed, it would break into splinters the hearts of millions of your followers.

You have four-plus years remaining in your second term. Use it with full conviction. Without fear of consequences. That’s what Bhagwad Gita says too. A weak Modi would lose all he has gained so far. It would hurt him, country and billion-plus Hindus. It won’t be the right homage to our suffering souls of a thousand years.

Ironically, a weak Modi at this stage won’t help the cause of Indian Muslims either. The anger of Hindus would bubble forth. The society at large could be prejudiced against Muslims. Muslims could be further ghettoized. They could also be expecting more entitlements. They could be further radicalized. It could be ripe for a ISIS or a Hizbul Mujahideen to make further inroads.  Remove their fear by actions. Withdrawing CAA would only confirm their worst fears about you. 

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United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a disgrace and don’t take my words alone for it.

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United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a disgrace and don’t take my words alone for it.

The United States withdrew from the body in 2018 stating it to be a “cesspool of political bias.” US secretary of state Mike Pompeo termed the council as a “protector of human rights abusers.” Nick Haley, the US envoy to the UN, termed it a “hypocritical body” that “makes a mockery of human rights.”

And this is not Donald Trump alone. The Bush Administration did likewise when the Council was created in 2006. The reasons cited were the same: The Council was ignoring same of world’s worst atrocities while showing its bias for a few on the religious lines.

Indeed, some of world’s worst terrorist-sponsoring nations and human rights violators have occupied the high seats of this Council. This Council would do nothing to pull up a Saudi Arabia or a Pakistan who treat women terribly. But talk of Israel and the Jewish nation has been censured no less than 68 times between 2006-2016. Sixty-eight times!!! And this is nearly half of all the resolutions the Council has adapted against countries in its existence till now.

The Counil, meanwhile, doesn’t bat an eyelid when the Palestinian Authority runs a “pay to slay” program which rewards those who indulge in bombing and terrorism; launch rockets and missiles at Israeli citizens from Gaza.

Do we need to remind the world how UNHRC ignores human violations in China or Cuba; Afghanistan or Congo? That there is death sentence for gays in Somalia and Sudan? That Mauritania allows slaves? That Qatar and Libya both enslave migrants? Or the tyranny which Maduro exerts in Venezuela? No prizes for guessing: All are members of the UNHRC.

Do you think this is an angst of a Hindu nationalist peeved at UNHRC’s resolution against India on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)? Consider this:

Former United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki Moon, mentioned the Council so in his farewell speech in 2016: “Decades of political maneuverings have created a disproportionate volume of resolutions, reports and conferences criticizing Israel.”

What did the Council do when millions were being displaced and killed in Kyrgyzstan in inter-ethnic violence in 2010? It expressed “support and encouragement to Kyrgyzstan government for its efforts.” The Council spoke about “human rights violations” in Iran for a mere 171 seconds in 2015. The Council succumbed to the pressure of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in 2008 and qualified their “freedom of expression” charter with the caveat that it didn’t cover religious discrimination. Can you beat it!

The present Council is a makeover of Human Rights Commission which was scrapped in 2005 by an overwhelming vote of the UN General Assembly. This happened after decades of complaints and well-encapsulated by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan with these words: “The commission had been undermined by declining credibility and professionalism”. Autocrat states came together to block any scrutiny of their records. Libya, despite its poor human rights record, chaired the commission once. No action was initiated against Sudan despite its terrible excesses in 2004.

The new Council though was no different to its previous avatar. Many see it as a stain on United Nations.  Its members continue to vote in bloc rather than address each issue separately. African group tends to vote as a bloc and so does OIC, as per a report by the Democracy Coalition Project. Their stands mostly reflect security and economic ties and worrying about human right abuses is farthest from their minds.

So when such a body makes a political stand in the garb of “human rights”, take it with a pinch of salt. It has an overwhelming bias against Jews--and you could now safely add Hindus to this list. This disgrace on world community would be shown its rightful place by the Indian Supreme Court in due course. Meanwhile mark those Jaichands and Mir Jafars who are rejoicing at the censure of UNHRC against the Modi regime. These scums care little for your country or human rights. Reserve only contempt for such garbage.

" ["category"]=> string(10) "1551854675" ["tags"]=> string(183) "1390156,1688077,1856999,2006082,2371656,2540085,3093941,4205624,4499325,4512138,5718082,5918847,6011599,6188088,7060409,7831107,8033973,8049226,8089399,8106003,8234765,8775692,9556864" ["status"]=> string(9) "published" ["number_of_reads"]=> int(0) } [26]=> array(13) { ["id"]=> int(1583205348) ["author_id"]=> int(1551854060) ["title"]=> string(60) "Western Media is trash: Here’s the proof you always wanted" ["slug"]=> string(57) "western-media-is-trash-here-s-the-proof-you-always-wanted" ["image"]=> string(22) "article-1583205348.jpg" ["image_caption"]=> string(0) "" ["headline"]=> string(68) " " ["excerpt"]=> string(743) "

It’s a bad time to read Indian or Western media or perhaps there would never be a better time to read them.

" ["content"]=> string(5630) "

(This is a reprint from rt.com)

It’s a bad time to read Indian or Western media or perhaps there would never be a better time to read them.

Headlines such as “India’s politics of hate” (Washington Post); “Millions of Indians could be in detention camps” (Bloomberg); “New Delhi turns into battleground” (New York Times) or Newsweek talking about India’s ruling party’s agenda to “marginalize Muslims” are guaranteed to give you a bad conscience. However, it could also be an occasion to brush up your primer on Western Media and know why they do what they do.

I of course am referring to the unfortunate violence which erupted on New Delhi’s streets and claimed 20 lives even as the president of the United States Donald Trump was beaming from ear to ear on the massive welcome he received from masses and Indian establishment this week.

Let’s believe Hindus and Muslims could’ve been on the opposing sides of violence even though India’s intelligence is in the middle of determining if it was engineered by inimical forces. Let’s also not deny that law and order, crime against women, caste, linguistic identities, inequality etc is unreal in India. Let’s also not frame this debate on the narrow binary of rise of Narendra Modi which has let the genie of Hindu-hating Western Media out of the bottle.

Modi alone is not the fall guy

The truth is no Indian leader—be it Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee or Modi—has escaped the scalding venom which Western Media has poured on them. Nehru was lampooned for his Non-Aligned Movement; Indira for standing up to violence in neighbouring East Pakistan; Vajpayee for Nuclear test and Modi of course for everything he does. It doesn’t matter that these leaders, at various times, were overwhelmingly voted into power by India’s massive population.

In essence it’s the colonial and imperial hangover of the “North” against the “Savage South” who must get tutorials on “tolerance”, “peace” and “multiculturalism.” This hangover is the binding thread of policy, business, academia and media in the West. Woven with the cloth of liberty, religious freedom and human rights. Of American Exceptionalism and the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon world. An outsider like Donald Trump might be loathed. But the moment he does “right” things against Iran or Venezuela, he is a darling.

Try pointing out the racial violence on American streets, the bogus wars it wages in Middle East or elsewhere; or the travel bans it has on Muslims from around the world. Try asking them why they oppose countries which choose an independent course, such as Russia, China, Syria or Iran—and yet pat those who were dictators like Suharto and Pinochet and reserved bayonets for their citizens. Why proven legends of humanity such as Salvador Allende, Kenneth Kaunda or Kwame Nkrumah don’t catch their ticking human hearts.

Why local elites mirror Colonial masters

The Indian case is typical of any country which has freed itself from the colonial yoke. The freed countries are left with elites who are a mirror image of the masters. Same language and mannerism. Their worldview is similar. In due course, the two collaborate. They work to validate each other. When masses go against such a view, they are “savages” and “bigots.” Then popular mandates, such as for Rouhani, Assad, Putin, Xi or Modi, don’t matter. For the “masses” are not allowing the “classes” to keep the countries unstable; to exploit its’ wealth and resources.

It shouldn’t be too difficult for an educated Indian to comprehend that media is business. Media is not out there for ordinary folks. It’s for profit. Such profit would only come from subscribers. Home subscribers in UK or US are forever looking for who is a “good” or “bad” guy. Such boxes are duly created. In India’s context, those who could afford the subscription of Western media outlets such as Washington Post, New York Times or the Guardian are prime catch. Ordinary folks, who neither could understand English nor pay to buy Western rags, don’t matter. When such faceless masses, who don’t come to TV studios, rise and Trump, Putin Modi or Brexit happens, there is mayhem.

India has its problems. It always had. It always would. It can’t be otherwise in a country of multiple religious and linguistic identities. Yet it has grown to be one of world’s biggest economic success stories. It’s digital and space milestones are massive. Its democratic traditions are unbroken. Its interiors today have access to health, education, houses, electricity and gas. Its’ roads, trains, airports and infrastructure are on a major revision course. India is more than just one Narendra Modi. Let Western Media and their local mirror image see India in the Modi- binary alone. You and I should know better.Western media has always peddled a narrative and people from Asia—and Africa—have suffered most from it. If you don’t wake up now, this “rape” of our minds would continue into our next generations.

" ["category"]=> string(54) "1551854609,1551854629,1551854637,1551854652,1551854675" ["tags"]=> string(143) "1495936,2006082,2735321,4048974,4655480,5079910,5369213,6744446,7178544,7198046,7936908,8033973,8164918,8476011,8714998,9490282,9686750,9741176" ["status"]=> string(9) "published" ["number_of_reads"]=> int(0) } [27]=> array(13) { ["id"]=> int(1583122359) ["author_id"]=> int(1551854060) ["title"]=> string(70) "Kapil Mishra nails down media houses on “fake news” on peace march" ["slug"]=> string(64) "kapil-mishra-nails-down-media-houses-on-fake-news-on-peace-march" ["image"]=> string(79) "kapil-mishra-nails-down-media-houses-on-fake-news-on-peace-march-1583203743.jpg" ["image_caption"]=> string(69) "BJP leader Kapil Mishra during his peace march in Capital on Saturday" ["headline"]=> string(68) " " ["excerpt"]=> string(3104) "

It has now come to light that the reports in three national dailies on Sunday--Indian Express, Hindustan Times and The Hindu--on the alleged “Goli maaro slogans” raised in peace march of BJP leader Kapil Mishra on Capital streets could have been “fake news.”

" ["content"]=> string(5191) "

It has now come to light that the reports in three national dailies on Sunday--Indian Express, Hindustan Times and The Hindu--on the alleged “Goli maaro slogans” raised in peace march of BJP leader Kapil Mishra on Capital streets could have been “fake news.”

Indian Express led its Delhi edition of Sunday (March 1, 2020) with a front-page screamer: “Goli Maaro slogan is back as Kapil leads ‘peace’ march”. Hindustan Times led a similar pitch with headline:  “Goli Maaro  slogans at march attended by BJP leader Kapil Mishra. The Hindu didn’t use “Goli maaro” in its headline but struck its own constructed note with the story: “Inflammatory slogans” raised during the same rally.

These three “fake news” were uncovered by Kapil Mishra himself in a video interview to famous social activist Madhu Purnima Kishwar (see video section) with some pertinent questions of his own.

Alleging that a few newspapers, such as mentioned here, were intent on establishing a false narrative, Mishra pointed out that these media houses were not showing images or videos to back their claims.

“May be they don’t want to show `Vande Matram’ or `Bharat Mata ki Jai’ the slogans which were raised in the rally,” claimed Mishra. Further, Mishra pointed out that police accompanied the peace rally all through its duration, implying that such slogans wouldn’t have escaped censure had they been raised.

“It is the agenda of a few channels or media houses to project blame only on one community…and this agenda they have been following assiduously,” said Mishra.  The BJP leader further said that it defies belief that one who has been shown to stock “petrol bombs” or “acid pouches”, namely Tahir Hussain of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), has almost been given clean chit by these agenda-driven media houses while he has been made a scapegoat.

A few things, on closer analysis, raises very serious questions on the manufacturing of the fake news on the peace march.

The Indian Express story shows its bias and machinations in the headlines itself. It says “Goli Maaro slogan is back as Kapil leads ‘peace’ march”. The headline is constructed in a manner which seems to implicate Kapil Mishra and the rally with the slogan without quite linking the two. It’s like “I fit into my suit; my suit fits into my suitcase, so I fit into my suitcase.” Further, by putting the word “peace” within brackets, Indian Express tries to mislead its readers by implying that the march was anything but peaceful.  Hindustan Times is similarly inciting while The Hindu is more camouflaged in its description.

It’s interesting that The Times of India doesn’t blame Mishra and the peace rally for “goli maaro” slogans. It’s been treated as a separate story in the Times of India where it mentioned a few young people had raised “goli maaro” slogan near a metro station in the Capital. In no way, Times of India links these slogans raised with the peace rally Kapil took out in support of victims of “Jehadi violence.” They were two separate incidents which were treated separately by the newspaper.

As things emerge, one could construct the unfolding of events in the Capital on Saturday. One, that Kapil Mishra took out a peach march in support of people who suffered due to Jehadi violence in the city, which trended as #DelhiAgainstJehadiViolence on social media. Two, “Goli maaro” slogans were raised by a few individuals in a completely unrelated event near a metro station in the Capital. The two were separate events. To stitch them together in a bid to frame Kapil Mishra and shift the focus from Tahir Hussain who is on the run, such “fake news” was manufactured in the toxic lab of a few media houses.

A logical question which would be uppermost in the mind of readers is: If “Goli Maaro” slogan wasn’t raised during Kapil’s peace march, how come it was mentioned by not one but three newspapers? Valid question but only by innocents who don’t know how the Left-Liberal cabal controls the media houses in this country. They pull the strings of a few media houses who only amplify the narrative set by their masters.

" ["category"]=> string(43) "1551854609,1551854629,1551854637,1551854652" ["tags"]=> string(95) "1203230,1427368,2400612,3052675,3289752,4200040,4491193,5599134,6749087,8833104,9579135,9628679" ["status"]=> string(9) "published" ["number_of_reads"]=> int(0) } [28]=> array(13) { ["id"]=> int(1583052274) ["author_id"]=> int(1551854060) ["title"]=> string(63) "Why Indian Express defines “gutter journalism” of our times" ["slug"]=> string(57) "why-indian-express-defines-gutter-journalism-of-our-times" ["image"]=> string(22) "article-1583052274.png" ["image_caption"]=> string(0) "" ["headline"]=> string(68) " " ["excerpt"]=> string(871) "

Let me say this at the outset that the headline of this piece doesn’t quite convey the disgust I feel for the kind of journalism Indian Express indulges in with a straight face and yet call itself a “journalism of courage.”

" ["content"]=> string(4495) "

Let me say this at the outset that the headline of this piece doesn’t quite convey the disgust I feel for the kind of journalism Indian Express indulges in with a straight face and yet call itself a “journalism of courage.”

This “journalism of courage” publishes family interviews of terrorists (like they have of Shakir Bashir of Pulwama attack today) but would never have time for tears of near and dear ones of a  Ankit Sharma or Kamlesh Tewari.

In other stories on front page today, it has one on how Indonesia has called in Indian envoy on CAA as a headline.  But Express won’t headline the fact that Jakarta has expressed “complete confidence in Indian government.”

It has one headline on front page which says “10 stabbed in Shillong, toll 2 in anti-CAA unrest in state.”  The very first line in the text says the “violence believed to be related to Citizenship Act..” So the readers must treat it as a CAA-related violence even as the text only “believes” it to be so.

These examples I have quoted are of just one day, today. All on front page. Indian Express does it everyday. So bad is their track record that once I had offered Rs 50,000 in 2016 to anyone who could show me a favourable story on Hindus on their front pages. Needless to say, the offer remains unclaimed to this day.

This toxic newspaper does more or less the same thing every day: Twisting headlines, hiding texts which don’t suit their agenda, any positive story or comment by a BJP leader is inevitably deflated with the help of bytes of a Anand Sharma or Sitaram Yechury; Ghulam Nabi Azad or D. Raja; Shashi Tharoor or Mallikarajun Khadge, the usual rent-a-byte suspects. It’s editorial pages “breed” academicians and experts who peddle the Left-Liberal narrative, twisting history;  Human Rights activists who can’t see Hindus being butchered, say, in Bengal and Kerala;  former judges, election commissioners, police chiefs who were beholden to the toxic Congress rule in this country.

I would still have given Indian Express the benefit of doubt if once in a while they tried to present the other side of the narrative. How come farmers’ plight under the BJP regime is sung from the rooftop but the Madhya Pradesh government, which hasn’t honoured the farmers’ waiver promise of its manifesto, isn’t pulled up? They would use microscopic lens to highlight “lynching” of a particular community while the one of the other community is altogether ignored. How come a Congress government in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan doesn’t have one single story come out in its criticism. Are the readers being told that Arvind Kejriwal hasn’t done a single thing worthy of criticism in his three terms as chief minister of Delhi? A GST is criticized even though it came about with the consensus of all states and stakeholders.

To me eyes, Indian Express is bereft of any credibility today. It’s allowed to go scot-free because the inner mechanism which upholds truth and integrity of Indian media, the Press Council of India and Editors’ Guild, are so hopelessly out of shape. Dead men walking. Information and Broadcasting Ministry is wary of belling the cat for fear of its own kind.  The judiciary is all sanguine for fixing the “hate-speech” makers and “sedition” cases. But it won’t take a call on media which polarizes the communities with fake news.

As for readers, they remind me of a famous saying: “A crook appeals to the straight; guilty to the innocent.”

So readers be vigilant. Watchful. Know your responsibility. If nothing then to see where your buying rupee is going. All responsible mechanisms in this country have given such newspapers a free run. They are looking the other way. You alone can bell the cat. If your newspaper doesn’t mend, stop buying those rags.

" ["category"]=> string(10) "1551854629" ["tags"]=> string(135) "1107329,1974557,2277457,2399118,3525928,4527020,5326829,5599134,6081008,6216723,6734875,6746075,7053356,7322192,7733615,7998123,8016014" ["status"]=> string(9) "published" ["number_of_reads"]=> int(0) } [29]=> array(13) { ["id"]=> int(1582700106) ["author_id"]=> int(1551854060) ["title"]=> string(88) "Trump backs Modi on damning headlines; Now it’s for latter to keep his end of bargain" ["slug"]=> string(84) "trump-backs-modi-on-damning-headlines-now-it-s-for-latter-to-keep-his-end-of-bargain" ["image"]=> string(22) "article-1582700106.png" ["image_caption"]=> string(0) "" ["headline"]=> string(68) " " ["excerpt"]=> string(884) "

Donald Trump trusts Narendra Modi on issues which make damning headlines around the world. But he won’t be up on his feet till India delivers the trade balance he wants between the two countries.

" ["content"]=> string(4681) "

Donald Trump trusts Narendra Modi on issues which make damning headlines around the world. But he won’t be up on his feet till India delivers the trade balance he wants between the two countries.

 

Trump went away home after two days in India on Tuesday with a ringing approval of the country and “his friend” Modi. He is now looking for India to do its bit to satiate the obsession he is known for around the world—trade.

 

President George Bush had his neurosis on “war on terror”, Barack Obama on “climate change” but it’s trade for Trump who won’t be drawn, for instance, into Hong Kong as long as he could muscle out trade concessions from China. India shouldn’t expect anything different.

 

Trade though was on the backburner in the overall theme of Trump’s visit. It was all about a reception unlike “anyone had received anywhere in the world at any time of history,” as Trump mentioned more than once in his interaction with the press on Tuesday evening.

 

The press corps looked for that one quote which could put Modi in poor light. But it never came. Kashmir was an issue “which has been on for a long time.” Trump was willing to help his two friends—Pakistan’s president Imran Khan and India’s prime minister Modi—if they wished so but to suggest it was an offer of mediation or intervention would be a stretch of imagination.

 

India’s contentious new Citizenship Act, the reporters were informed, wasn’t even discussed between the two leaders who had met privately in the afternoon. Trump viewed the ongoing violence in the Capital as a matter India could handle.  Of course, religious reforms figured in the talk between them but Trump was mightily assured Modi’s India meant no harm to any religious group.  When a specific question on Muslims was raised, Trump mentioned Modi and his “powerful statement” that Indian Muslims have grown from 140 to 200 millions in a very short period of time.

 

All this must be music to Modi’s ears. But he would’ve to do his part on trade to keep Trump in similar humour.  The US president noted India had managed to bring down its trade surplus from $23 billion to $14 billion in a short period of time but he expected more. Trump hoped for a trade deal between the two nations by the end of year.

 

India’s trade advantage vis-à-vis US is miniscule, at least 20 times less than what China enjoys against the US at $345 billion.  Yet it’s an irritant in Trump’s eyes. In 2018, he imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium.  In April next year, India lost its spot in the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme of the United States. It affected India’s exports to the tune of $5.6 billion.

 

India responded with tariffs of its own on 28 imported items from the United States. It’s high tariff on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, retaliatory moves on farm and dairy products also didn’t go down well with Trump. India seeks to improve its bargaining position in the service industry, have more employment visas for its young and talented. For sure, this is not an exhaustive list of contentious trade issues but just a sample.

 

To be fair, Trump has been unambiguous about what he expects from the world on trade matters. His inaugural address as President in 2017 was littered with mentions of America’s “foolish” trade policies…which had redistributed its wealth across the entire world.”

 

The US president looked fresh and eager, up on his toes for the better part of an hour in the evening, fielding questions from the press corps. There was no sign he had as hectic a day as he had endured on Monday, hopping from city to city, and viewing India’s people, culture and monumental masterpieces from close quarters.

 

On Tuesday, he met India’s president and business tycoons, paid respect to India’s father of nation Mahatma Gandhi at his memorial and oversaw negotiations between the officials of the two countries. His better half and the First Lady Melania Trump at times accompanied him and at other times charted out her own engagement in a local school in the Capital. By late evening, the two had headed for home.

 

" ["category"]=> string(10) "1551854675" ["tags"]=> string(87) "2006082,4655480,4299412,8052006,2371656,6622572,2183972,1382321,1390156,8033973,7831107" ["status"]=> string(9) "published" ["number_of_reads"]=> int(0) } [30]=> array(13) { ["id"]=> int(1582001064) ["author_id"]=> int(1551854060) ["title"]=> string(63) "Decoding the anatomy of Indo-US ties: Friends yes, choir-boy no" ["slug"]=> string(61) "decoding-the-anatomy-of-indo-us-ties-friends-yes-choir-boy-no" ["image"]=> string(22) "article-1582001064.jpg" ["image_caption"]=> string(41) "Dr S.Jaishankar: India's foreign minister" ["headline"]=> string(68) " " ["excerpt"]=> string(889) "

India is refusing to be a choir-boy of the United States which is a dichotomy given the two nations have never been closer on economic and defence matters than now in their 73 years of diplomatic relations.

" ["content"]=> string(5949) "

India is refusing to be a choir-boy of the United States which is a dichotomy given the two nations have never been closer on economic and defence matters than now in their 73 years of diplomatic relations.

 

Most know that India won’t let United States or its sanctions come in between its ties with Russia or Iran with whom it shops its energy, strategic and security needs. Very few though are picking the blunt hints which India’s foreign minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is dropping regularly on the doorsteps of United States and Europe, the geographical region we commonly denote as West.

 

Dr Jaishankar rounded up his presence in the 56th Munich Security Conference on Sunday by asking a US republican senator to keep off Kashmir and reminding the United Nations of its slipping credibility in the “Westlessness” of today’s world. He headed off to Brussels on Monday where he would agree to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s presence in the European Union (EU) Summit on March 13 only if the EU shelves its plan to entertain the anti-India resolution a few of its members have in mind on Kashmir. In between his team has thrown out an offer of mediation by the secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres on Kashmir.

 

A man who loves to shoot from the hip

 

This is perfectly in sync with Dr Jaishankar’s  no-nonsense diplomacy trajectory since he exchanged the life of a diplomat with one of a politician at the insistence of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in May last. In next two months, India had rewired the state of Jammu and Kashmir and Dr Jaishankar has literally been shooting from the hip since.

 

In December last, Dr Jaishankar had rebuffed the US House of Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) who had wanted him to hold a unilateral meeting with lawmaker Pramila Jaypal by stating “I have no interest in meeting her.” Reason: Jaypal had tabled a resolution in the House of Representatives against India on Jammu and Kashmir. When the Capitol Hill wanted a Congressional hearing on Kashmir in October last, Dr Jaishankar used his channels to make sure that no less than 10 US Congressmen abstained from appearing in the hearing.

 

He had earlier held back no punches on the United Nations for keeping India out of the UN Security Council when in next 15 years it could be “the most populous country in the world…and the third largest economy…it affects the United Nations’ credibility.”

 

A world which is no longer bipolar

 

In Dr Jaishankar’s worldview, the post-1945 bipolar world and the post-1992 American world is no longer the norm. “Things change, nothing is engraved in stone. This world will be different, power will be more dispersed, there will be more actors,” he confided to a French daily last November. He also feels India and China have a common interest in re-balancing the world.

 

Dr Jaishankar is only taking cue from his boss Modi who once ticked off the US president Donald Trump in a joint media interaction session by stating India wouldn’t like third-party mediation on Kashmir.  Trump has alluded variations on “mediation/arbitration/interventions” on Kashmir at least seven times in as many months and India has never failed to ask the US to keep off Kashmir.

 

All this must not be music to American ears but then the US itself has a “America First” policy. The entire world is looking to protect its own interests as multilateralism is retreating. The United States has heard some plain-speaking, not just from Russia or Iran but also from its’ so-called close allies in Europe (France), Asia (the Philippines) and Middle East (Turkey, Saudi Arabia) in recent times. 

 

Thus India and the US could have economic and defence ties which suit both; Narendra Modi and Donald Trump could serve each other a home audience by the ringside; cameras could keep whirring on the personal warmth between the two, but both go their own way when it comes to having equations with the rest of the world. At least India is letting the United States know to mind its’ own business even though the latter isn’t quite giving up its instincts of intrusion.

 

 

 

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I have personal reasons to be elated with the 11-year-sentencing of the UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed in Lahore, Pakistan on Wednesday – though like most self-gratifying moments, I could be guilty of undue haste.

" ["content"]=> string(4767) "

(This is a reprint of my OpEd in rt.com)

I have personal reasons to be elated with the 11-year-sentencing of the UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed in Lahore, Pakistan on Wednesday – though like most self-gratifying moments, I could be guilty of undue haste.

I feel a sense of lightness at the sentencing of a monster terrorist who masterminded the 26/11 attack in Mumbai in 2008, in which 166 innocent people were gunned down, including a very dear fellow journalist with whom I shared the newsroom at the English daily Times of India in the 1990s.

Though the sentence is too little, too late – and could still mean nothing in the days to come – Hafiz Saeed is the face of evil to me. Saeed’s men pumped bullets into my colleague and friend, Sabina Saikia, pulling her from below the bed where the terrified girl had hidden at the staccato sounds of machine guns outside her room in the iconic Taj Hotel of India’s commercial capital.

A nightmare that continues

The fateful evening was November 26, 2008, and I had long since left the Times of India. Now, I was busy marshalling the news desk of a national TV channel as the dreaded attack unfolded. I had no idea Sabina was in Mumbai to attend a wedding for a day and that she had checked in to the very hotel which had been watched for months by terrorists from across the border in Pakistan.

It would be four days before we knew who and how many people were murdered, as the killers holed themselves up in the ocean-front hotel before India’s security forces managed to neutralize them following dozens of hours of gun battles, watched 24/7 on television by a stunned nation.

Sabina’s was no ordinary casualty. She was the Czarina of Food, whose reviews in India’s best-selling English daily made or marred a restaurant’s reputation. She had dabbled in various news ‘beats,’ including crime and investigation, but found her seat at the high table of journalism as a food critic. There she had stayed put until those bullets took her life.

Anniversary after anniversary passed. I kept a tab on mastermind Hafiz Saeed, who was the co-founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist group which had received its initial funding from none other than Osama bin Laden. This is the same Islamist group which was accused of an attack on India’s Parliament in 2001 – as well as the Pulwama suicide attack which killed more than 40 Indian soldiers in 2019, merely four months after Saeed was arrested for terror-financing.

All these years, Saeed was evil personified for many Indians. India knocked on the doors of global powers to have Saeed and his terror group sanctioned and watched in horror as the bearded, portly terrorist was arrested and released on more than one occasion by the Police-Judiciary interplay in Pakistan. India’s attempts to secure his extradition remained unanswered. The United States, since then, declared LeT responsible for the 26/11 Mumbai attack and announced a bounty of $10 million on Saeed’s head.

Breakthrough or strategic move?

At face value, Pakistan has cracked the whip on terrorism – the first condition for India to resume dialogue with its neighbor and arch rival. Logically, this should lower the tensions between the two nations, particularly strained after India revoked the autonomous status of the Jammu & Kashmir state last August. Saeed, in particular, was India’s nemesis in Kashmir Valley and has long-vowed to prise it out of India’s grasp.

But India is not too optimistic yet. It knows Pakistan has a critical meeting with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Paris this weekend, which could ‘blacklist’ it for insufficient action to keep a check on funding to terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba. In that light, the country’s sentencing of the 70-year-old Saeed could just be strategic.

If it is blacklisted, Pakistan could lose up to $10 billion and be economically devastated. It would be an outcast in the international financial system. Its banking system would be crippled, remittances or access to international lending would be denied and foreign investors would keep the nation at arm’s length.

The last on Saeed has not been heard yet. But his sentencing is a balm, nevertheless, for the wounded soul in me.

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Those looking to have new Arvind Kejriwals and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) replicated all across India are living in a fools’ world.

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Those looking to have new Arvind Kejriwals and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) replicated all across India are living in a fools’ world.

Delhi is unique in the sense that a ruling party doesn’t have to worry about law and order nor has jurisdiction over its land as is the case elsewhere.

All it needs to do is look after infrastructure, health, schools, education etc and offer freebies without a thought in the world since its revenue is always in surplus compared to its expenses.

Figures show that Kerjiwal’s government has surplus money of over Rs 5000 crores. It’s education budget is 25 per cent of its revenue. The subsidizing of electricity has gone up by 6 per cent.

This enables Kejriwal to stuff Delhi’s mainstream corrupt media with advertisements worth tens of crores which in turn ensures that not a line in criticism appears in public domain.

Kejriwal also has the unique advantage of practically having an urban political party which can’t be compared with any other local, state or national party in India.

It’s no secret that Urban India gives the nation its growth and economy compared to rural folks but India’s cities don’t control its own revenue. All the money earned through local bodies in urban areas goes to state governments who divert it in the hands of farmers, poor etc in order to secure its vote-bank and remain in power.

Just look at ministerial portfolio distribution in the Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra: The urban ministry has been retained by Uddhav Thackeray and it gives him control on most of the revenue earned in Mumbai and elsewhere in the state.

As per data, 32 per cent of India is urban while the rest is rural and hence it makes sense to divert a significant portion of your revenue towards rural areas and reap the benefits in elections.   

In contrast, a Delhi government retains control of its landscape and its revenue and doesn’t have to divert its money anywhere.

Sure there are other Union Territories (Delhi is neither UT nor state but has a special status and hence enjoys legislative assembly) but nobody has the scale and depth of Delhi. Just consider: Delhi National Capital region and Mumbai metropolitan region, alone between themselves account for 9% of India’s population.

So for other Kejriwal and AAPs to emerge, a hopeful must have the (a) size of Delhi; (b) No rural vote-bank obligation; (c) no law or land obligation; (d) no subservience to a state party.  No other place than Delhi in India can claim to have this advantage.

On a larger note, it’s also a sign that sooner or later tens of urban political parties would emerge in India’s growing cities who would seek independence from the yoke of state governments.

At the moment, India’s Constitution doesn’t support such a division between power and responsibility between state and local levels but a change can’t be stopped in coming decades.

For one, India is increasingly growing urban. Surveys show that nearly 70 per cent of India would be urban by 2050. Already, from sky above, larger part of India appears to be towns, mini-cities or cities but the “definition” of “Urban” vis a vis “Rural” limits its numbers to 32 per cent only.

The definition of “urban” as per Indian laws is that the area must have its own municipality, cantonment and corporation board and must have a minimum population of 5,000.

Sooner than later, the state governments would have to cede control of their big cities in the hands of “mayors” since a great deal of rural India is moving towards cities in any case. This migration is unstoppable due to the lure and opportunities in big cities.

These mayors would be like Presidents of their cities, looking after its infrastructure, water, electricity, health, education etc and managing its own budget.  Diversion of its funds would not be feasible for state governments as most of their vote-banks would’ve moved to the towns and cities anyway.

Besides, badly managed cities where health, water, electricity, policing is ignored could lead to large-scale riots which would burn up the remote controlling powers in its own flames.

Hence, there is one Arvind Kejriwal, one AAP and one Delhi. Hoping a duplication of this format elsewhere in India is plain day-dreaming.

And hence brace yourself for BJP don’t ceding control of India’s political landscape in 2024 and beyond.

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Forces which oppose Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would feel they now have a gameplan in the wake of its’ crushing defeat in the Delhi assembly elections.

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Forces which oppose Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would feel they now have a gameplan in the wake of its’ crushing defeat in the Delhi assembly elections.

These anti-BJP forces could easily be clubbed as (a) opposing political parties; (b) Left-Liberal controlled propaganda media; (c) Indian Muslims; and (d) urban youth. More or less these four forces would feel empowered now.

Political opponents which fear BJP’s hegemony—and nearly all of them do—are the hyenas who think they could now hunt the lion named BJP down. They won’t take recourse to Parliament or judiciary but would look to resist Centre on the most inane of legislations on their turf. They would put women and children in front. They would look to stall or breakdown India’s federal structure and create anarchy.

The time-tested proven method of George Soros-led Liberal forces is to force a showdown with police on streets, show the State impotent, build support in captive media and when the state strikes back, build the pressure through global colonial, imperial forces to bear down on the hapless country.

Propaganda mainstream media, who fatten themselves on their political, religious and colonial masters, would be on steroids now. They would be more vitriolic and vicious. This despicable media hasn’t found one act of Arvin Kejriwal—or of Ashok Gehlot/Kamal Nath---in the last few years worthy of criticism. NOT ONE ACT! Even though AAP operates right under it nose in the Capital. It must tell you a thing or two about their “neutrality.”

Indian Muslims have long enjoyed entitlement in a “secular” nation. Modi’s rise played on their anxiety. With abrogation of Article 370, Triple Talaq Act and Ram Janmabhoomi, they were simmering under the breath. Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) gave them a tool. Propaganda media and political parties fanned it.  Theirs became a cause célèbre. It made headlines around the world. A nondescript lane of Capital was turned into a shrine. Death of a toddler was deemed “Qurbani”.  Secessionist slogans and war-cry of “Azaadi” rent the air. They would now stall your daily life and governance.

Urban youth, particularly students and of elite society, were completely sold off to the Jamia and JNU narrative.  This 20s newbies feel no connection with 370 Article or Ram Janmabhoomi, two issues which have by and large troubled the soul of this nation. It’s the power of the propaganda, and our shambolic education system, that these youths are completely weaned away from the ethos of India.

BJP, and its two engines, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, work under the constraints of the Constitution. They won’t dismiss a Mamata Banerjee or Pinaryi Vijayan government or make Shaheen Bagh protestors run for cover. There won’t be lathi-charge or pellets shots. They do get affected by the negative publicity. The headlines and images which are multiplied by international media leave them passive.

In view of the mounting challenge from these four opposing forces, BJP would be foolish to believe it would just go away. These four forces would “create” issues to cause disruptions. There is no escaping them. You can’t wish them away, close your eyes and feel it’s disappeared.  They are in your face. Sharks have tasted blood in the water. You better deal with it or squander everything you’ve gained in the last few years.  There is a new game in the town. It’s called ANARCHY.

One, BJP shouldn’t be shy of dismissing state governments which promote violence and anarchy or resist their Constitutional obligations. The first litmus test would be at the time of CAA implementation in April against which Punjab and Kerala assemblies have passed resolutions. If they resist its implementation, dismiss them. To hell with niceties or looking for approval from hostile corners.

Two, BJP shouldn’t leave propaganda media to its own devices. Instead, they should try to force them in corner on their omissions and commissions. Fake propaganda spread by them needs to be accountable. Mobilize readers. Have a very active, virile awareness campaign to their manipulations. Drop the velvet gloves. Spread the world. You have men and money. Use it to tame the beast.

Indian Muslims must be stripped of their undue entitlement. Have a very serious look at how India could claim to be a secular nation and yet promote minorityism by having separate ministries and funds. Bring on Uniform Civil Code which is an obligation our Constitution has longed for from our lawmakers. Don’t give an inch or treat any group as privileged. Treat them as any other citizen. Law and order is a state subject and if a hostile state government promotes anarchy by prodding the Muslims, deal with them harshly.

Urban youth must be engaged with discussion. There ought to be a mechanism where their issues are listened to and addressed on a fortnightly basis. Engage them. Propaganda media won’t cover it but publish ads, use radio and television, to let the “neutral” public know of government’s keenness to engage. Long-term solution of course is change of India’s education system and it won’t happen on its own. It needs be done. The course correction must begin now.

And then finally there is this matter of Hindus who constitute majority in this country. Delhi election results would convey they didn’t stand by BJP. They weren’t upset by “Hinduon se Azaadi” slogans. They weren’t upset by the anarchy on the streets. They weren’t upset by Shaheen Bagh. They weren’t upset that their Hindu brethrens from neighbouring Islamic countries are stopped from having own roof over their head.  Ram Janmabhoomi doesn’t touch them a bit. Nor the sacrifice of our tens of thousands of soldiers in Kashmir. Hindus didn’t stand by BJP in the Delhi elections.

There is also no denying that BJP expected such support from Hindus. That’s why perhaps Shaheen Bagh was allowed to linger as long as it has. That’s why Pakistan was evoked at every public address by an Amit Shah or a Yogi Adityanath. Surely, it has been a miscalculation to bank on their traditional votes.  Hindus are a sloth – and history is a testimony.

BJP doesn’t need to blink against the four inimical forces. It also needs to ramp up its information- disbursement mechanism. It needs to nurture those voices who are laboring under their own passion and “dharma” but could do wonders if sustained with attention and care. As for Hindus, they have been disappointing. They can’t see the threat these four forces are determined to inflict on their existence.  And on India they call their motherland.

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A little-reported event of DefExpo which concluded in Lucknow on weekend was the presence of 14 defence ministers and 19 defence chief from Africa.

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A little-reported event of DefExpo which concluded in Lucknow on weekend was the presence of 14 defence ministers and 19 defence chief from Africa.

India already has defence partnerships with 8 African nations and looks for more as it wants to be net security provider for Africa.

It’s an ambitious India we are witnessing who are world’s second largest importer but nowhere amongst the top 10 defence exporters yet is eyeing Africa! It also has “sales” office in Hanoi as it seeks to dig deep in ASEAN market for its defence exports.

So far the defence exports mostly relate to components, ordnance, training, armoured vehicles, patrol vessels etc but with two indigenously developments missiles Akash and Brahmos, the latter with the help of Russia, India is basking in the attention of world-buyers, attracted by its costs and unique ability.

Akash missile system can target aircraft up to 30km away, at altitudes up to 18000 metres. It has the capability to neutralize aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles, as well as ballistic missiles.

The BrahMos is a medium-range supersonic cruise missile that could be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft or land. It’s the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world.  Russia has played a clinching role in the development of BrahMos and the two countries are planning to develop a new generation o BrahMos missiles with 600km range, an upgrade on the present range of 500kms.

The Russian share in Indian arms imports, incidentally,  is likely to go up in the next five-year period as India signed several procurement deals recently. These include S-400 air defence systems, four stealth frigates, AK-203 assault rifles, and a second nuclear attack submarine on lease. India has also signed deals with Russia for Kamov-226T utility helicopters, Mi-17 helicopters and short-range air defence systems.

India already has ambitious plans to sell indigenously developed Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifles, being produced in its Amethi factory.

As for ASEAN market, Vietnam appears to be India’s gateway of arms exorts.  It’s one country which has a “comprehensive” strategic partnership with India. Bharat Electronics (BEL) opened its Hanoi office in June 2018. It’s not just for Vietnamese market but also after-sales support centre for India’s all South East Asia inroads. India’s strategic vision centres around its outreach in Southeast Asia and Vietnam is pivot to India’s “Act East” policy.

India has imported over $100 billion of weapons over a decade (2008-2017) and is presently second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of money it spends to equip itself with defence imports. This figure could go up substantially once it inducts S-400 missile systems from Russia and once the supply of Rafale Jets from France kicks in.

This is the same India about which its first prime minister Nehru said it doesn’t need military.

This is the same India which didn’t change its military structure after the British left for decades.

Only after 1962, in the aftermath of Indo-Sino conflict, did India wake up to its military needs.

In 1964, the first five-year defence plan was set up.

Today India is a nuclear power, largest importer and an ambitious exporter of its defence products. It has world’s fourth largest defence budget. It also aims to create 3 million defence-related jobs. All in a matter of half a century.

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi recently announced India looks for $5 billion worth of defence exports by 2024. In 2019, it exported defence material up to $1.14 billion.

 

 

 

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India is banking big in placing practically one indigenous Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifle in the hands of every second soldier of its million-strong army as details are emerging from the ongoing Indian DefExpo in the northern city of Lucknow.

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India is banking big in placing practically one indigenous Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifle in the hands of every second soldier of its million-strong army as details are emerging from the ongoing Indian DefExpo in the northern city of Lucknow.

Though India has been swift in gaining the assistance of original manufacturers Russia in a joint venture (JV), as well as opening an arms factory for the purpose in Amethi, a district in north India,  last year, it could still miss the May deadline as a mutually agreeable price is yet to be hammered out.

Indian army is keen to place an order of 670,000 Kalashnikovs with the joint venture but the setting up of production facilities and initial technological transfer is driving up the prices of Kalashnikovs, arguably the most famous assault rifles in the world for over two generations.

The two partners of the JV are presently engaged in bringing down the cost from $1000 per rifle to something more affordable. Even though AK-203 is a vastly improved and advanced version of earlier versions, such as AK-47, the latter could be bought for a few hundred dollars in global arms market.

Delay is pause, not impediment

The delay is still a pause and not an impediment as the project is fuelled by the highest political will of the two nations, no less by the desire of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi who declared on Wednesday: “Our desire is to export (weapons) of US$5 billion in five years.”

Indigenization of weapons is also a huge priority for Modi government as the prime minister elaborated upon in DefExpo: “How long can the world’s second-largest population, second-largest army and the largest democracy remain dependent only on imports?”

India is keen on 100% indigenization of Kalashnikovs and Russia is a willing partner in the project, hoping for a complete technology transfer after it has produced the first 100,000 rifles. Once the JV sorts out the core issue of price, not an insurmountable matter given the mass production and export opportunities embedded within, the dream would take little time in becoming a reality.

India is determined to replace its INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) rifles, indigenously developed in the 1980s, with AK-203 completely in coming months. The two appear similar but vary greatly in size and impact. The Indian rifles are heavier and of lesser range than Kalashnikov’s 4kg weight and 800-metre-long firepower. It’s a huge advantage in field combats which could last for hours. Besides, Kalashnikovs have an automatic firing mode which is not the case with Indian rifles.

It’s not to say that Indian soldiers are unfamiliar with the sight of Kalashnikovs. Over the years, they have used it extensively in Kashmir where the terrorists often emerge from the hiding with the same assault rifles. The Indian army has a concept of sector stores under which those in Kashmir, and the NorthEast, are equipped with AK-47s and not INSAS. The growing footprint of terrorism within the country makes it imperative for India to include Kalashnikovs in its preparedness.

Iconic rifle of choice

Kalashnikovs has been an iconic rifle of choice from army to terrorists to drug-lords post World War II. It’s inventor, Mikhail Kalashnikov worked out its design after being wounded as a Soviet soldier through the hands of the Nazis. He had perfected the design of his Avtomat Kalashnikova (Automatic Kalashnikov) by 1947 and that explains the ubiquitous title of AK-47 which resonates around the world.

Ironically, Kalashnikovs aren’t pinpoint accurate. They are best used in close combats as against distance engagements. But it’s rugged and easy to use which is perfect in tough conditions such as sand or mountains. It’s easy to set up and easy to repair and could last 20-40 years. Figures suggest that one-fifth of all firearms used in the world are some sort of Kalashnikovs, or over 100 million in numbers which is staggering.  

India is keen to reduce its weapons-import bill which till recently was the biggest in the world but is now second only to Saudi Arabia. Figures suggest it bought over $100 billion worth of arms in 2008-17 decade. Its’ military budget is fourth biggest in the world.

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Indian prime minister Narendra Modi could well end up taming the beast which hogged the headlines and filled the streets for two months now in protest against a new Citizenship Act.

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Indian prime minister Narendra Modi could well end up taming the beast which hogged the headlines and filled the streets for two months now in protest against a new Citizenship Act.

A seemingly innocuous Act which fast forwards the citizenship process for persecuted minorities of three neighbouring Islamic states of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh was dressed up as one against the Muslims by Modi’s detractors. The propaganda succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

It tapped on the raw anxiety of Indian Muslims who were fed the misinformation the Citizenship Act was the first step towards their disenfranchisement despite various official clarifications.

Political opponents upped the heat by passing resolutions in state assemblies run by them, such as Kerala and Punjab, even though constitutionally Citizenship is a matter which doesn’t fall under their jurisdiction and strictly is a preserve of the Centre.

The Siamese twins of mainstream Indian and Western media fished in the troubled waters with inflammatory headlines. The New York Times wondered if India is becoming a Hindu nation and BBC termed it an anti-Muslim law.

Various cities in the United States staged anti-Citizenship Act protests though there were hardly many Indians discernible in those rallies. A segment of European Union called for a stricture against the Modi government which was withdrawn at the last minute. From United Nations Human Rights office to US senate religious committee, all whipped up a storm.

An Indian Maidan in the making?

A tiny enclave in India’s Capital, Shaheen Bagh bore all the markings of a Maidan of Ukraine or a Tehrir Square of Egypt. It’s the shrine of protests, so to say, well into its eighth week, full of mural arts, revolutionary songs, media briefers, technological deftness to be passed off as spontaneous. It holds the torch to a revolution India never had. This was Modi’s gravest crisis in six years.

Modi has chosen to meet this mushroom of clouds overhead with a churn of silence. He kept his police in the barracks, used a light hand over provocations. People, including his supporters, wondered if he had lost control. Now it appears to be a part of a grand strategy. He always knew the contours of powers, both at home and abroad, at work against him. Now his followers, which are the majority in his country, have been made aware of the gravity. It could lead to consolidation and additions in millions among his supporters.

Rivals are now waking up to Modi’s grand game. They are urging protestors to withdraw and go back home. A leader who was so nuanced in handling Kashmir against international storm, couldn’t have been silent without a reason. They sense a turn in tide. Credible surveys reveal that Modi remains muscularly popular; far from being severely bruised as his opponents had bargained for in the present protests.

Modi’s measures can now be clearly deciphered. On the domestic front, his ministers are linking the protests to a machination by the arch-rivals Pakistan who, unable to whip up support for Kashmir in international arena, are now being linked to causing unrest within India, an insinuation which never fails to get the ire up of a billion-plus people.

Bilateral ties are all which matter

In the world beyond his borders, all that matters is bilateral ties. Modi is yet to hear a move from any of the major nations against the Citizenship Act. The European Union and US Senate and George Soros of the world could make as much noise as they want; the Western press could send its army of correspondents and cameraman to India’s Capital in droves, the  non-state players like NGOs could work its collective noise to a shrill but all of this would materially make no difference to Modi or India’s standing. As long as there are no sanctions; and the majority of his people are behind him, Modi can afford to sit back and let the forces against him play themselves out into a meaningless heap.

Important alignments in Modi’s favour are beginning to emerge. All parties in alliance with him are backing him to the hilt on the Citizenship Act. The Supreme Court is due to take a call on the petitions this month and it’s unlikely to go against the Act.  Shaheen Bagh protests are alienating the rest of the Capital as its causing traffic jams, affecting local business, and rendering schools and hospitals in the area virtually inoperable.

There are now also incriminating videos in public where the prime organizer of Shaheen Bagh was heard hatching plans for India’s northeastern states to secede from the mainland. It has raised the hackles of a nation which has already been severed of its eastern and western arms on the grounds of religion at the stroke of independence seven decades ago.

Politics is not a zero-sum game but Modi is set to harvest a bounty nobody had seen coming out of the present crisis.

 

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Hindus of India—there is no other nation for them in the world—beware. George Soros, the face of evil, has come out in open against you. He has spoken against “Hindu nationalist state” of Narendra Modi and stoked fears of Muslims on Kashmir and Citizenship Act. It’s a warning that he would throw India into turmoil. A long night is ahead of us.

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Hindus of India—there is no other nation for them in the world—beware. George Soros, the face of evil, has come out in open against you. He has spoken against “Hindu nationalist state” of Narendra Modi and stoked fears of Muslims on Kashmir and Citizenship Act. It’s a warning that he would throw India into turmoil. A long night is ahead of us.

(As a twitterati puts it: “Mahabaharat and Samudra Manthan! Two events in which there were clearly two sides. Perhaps we are nearing a third such event.”)

Most of you won’t know Soros. But looking at morning’s newspapers or watching TV channels who back “tukde-tukde gang,” you should have some idea of the hold he has on India’s deep and dark ecosystem which hid him from your gaze for so long. Now he is out in open.  You would also now be able to connect the dots on the present protests and violence on the streets; recognize the political actors and media who are out to remove Modi and leave you a headless chicken. Trust me, it’s now or never: Be counted.

I expose this devil to you in reverse order: (a) What the democratic world thinks about him; (b) Profile the man who thinks he is a God and what shapes his worldview; (c) Cite his monstrous acts and back it with authentic, leaked sources (d) How he brainwashes you with his hold on media and academia.

The free world on George Soros

  • After being ousted from office in the wake of 2016 Panama Papers scandal, Iceland’s prime minister Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson accused Soros of having bankrolled a conspiracy to remove him from power;
  • In November 2018, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Edrogan denounced Soros as the man who “assigns people to divide nations and shatter them”;
  • The United States president Donald Trump has alleged that cash was being handed out to people in Honduras to storm the US border and suggested the cash might have come from Soros;
  • Italy’s former deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini has accused Soros of wanting to fill his country with migrants because “he likes slaves”;
  • The leader of the UK’s Brexit Party, Nigel Farage, claimed Soros is encouraging people “to flood Europe” and “in many ways is the biggest danger to the entire Western World”;
  • Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban claimed that Soros has a secret plot to flood Hungary with migrants and destroy their nation. “We are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open but hiding. Not straightforward by crafty. Not honest but unprincipled…feels it owns the world,” said Orban.

Indeed, the Hungarian government spent 100m Euros on a media campaign, warning voters not to let Soros “have the last laugh” in elections last October.

The man who thinks he is a God

Soros, now pushing 90 and one of world’s richest man, is Hungarian by birth. “Soros” means “soar” in Esperanto, the language its believers-like his father did--want to be the world tongue. A worldview where nationalism would disappear, along with dialects and boundaries.

After World War II, Soros attended London School of Economics. He became hooked to the writings of Karl Popper (1902-94), the Viennese-born professor who advocated Open Society, a place where tribal affinities to religion and nationalism would’ve no place.

After graduating, Soros became a banker and mastered the craft of arbitraging—making profits by trading currencies. He relocated himself to New York City in 1959. He formulated his own Theory of Reflexivity, where if you could observe a phenomenon from afar, you could be on top of it. It allowed him to make massive money in the Recession of 1973 as well as in 2008, and he is known as “the man who broke the Bank of England” in 1992. Aware that the British government was promoting the pound sterling, Soros acquired millions of pounds. Bad press, political infighting, and resignation of Prime Minister John Major followed, pound sterling was withdrawn from European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) and the currency plummeted. Soros now sold his stuff and pocketed over $1 billion. Pensions diminished for retirees; old people had their savings wiped out.

Soros was beginning to, as he himself said, “fancy myself as some kind of god.” The influence of Karl Popper was evident long before and his obsession with open borders made him launch Open Society Foundations in 1979. The dubious foundation presently operates in 120 countries and has so far donated over $32 billion towards causes aimed at destroying societies, religions and nations.

Soros, the crimes and the proof

In 2016, DC Leaks, got into the Soros files and released them. The disclosure revealed Soros’ Open Society Foundations aim to eradicate national sovereignty. A key paper described the Syrian refugee crisis as an opportunity to create havoc in societies; flood Europe and the US and make the old borders and institutions irrelevant.

DC Leaks further revealed that Open Society Foundations funded groups which had devoted themselves to BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment, Sanctions) in both Israel and Palestine.

In the United States, in order to destabilize the Roman Catholic Church, Soros promoted Left-leaning Catholic groups who promoted gay marriage, abortion and physician-assisted suicide. Bill Donohue, president o the Catholic League didn’t mince his words when Soros’ let loose his forces before the arrival of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in 2015. He accused such forces of fomenting revolution, creating mutiny and are “front for George Soros…and designed to create fissures in the Catholic Church.”

Another Soros’ initiative is Black Lives Matter, a rabid group which propositions that police are inherently racist. Shrill propaganda ensures that police are frozen into inaction and “de-policing” occurs. (Do draw a parallel with situation in Jamia, JNU and Shaheen Bagh protests which has reduced police into inaction). Open Society Foundations has donated hundreds and thousands of dollars to Black Lives Matter.

Two decades ago, Soros began a campaign to decriminalize marijuana and other illegal drugs in the United States. The stress was on counselling and rehabilitation of the drug-users and not arrest or imprisonment. Poisonous propaganda led many states in the United States to legalize marijuana in due course. But data proves that drug-use has only increased and not decreased. Youth are losing vitality and the social fabric of the society is thus weakened.

Soros’ hold on media

It’s been documented that Soros controls media through actions which are labyrinthine in nature. WikiLeaks has shown Soros’ journalists shaped media coverage of events in Ukraine. His operatives were instructed to “select journalists from the five target countries (Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Greece) and offered them long-stay reporting trips in Ukraine.” The operatives retained a right to veto on stories—and thus they could shortlist and shape what they wanted journalists to write.

There are several NGOs which George Soros operates or finances. It donated $100 million to Human Rights Watch. CIA-created Radio Free Europe—which played its role in the breakup of Yugoslavia—is funded by Soros. His International Crisis Group had luminaries such as Zbigniew Brzezinki and General Wesley Clark, once NATO supreme allied commander for Europe. Stephen Solarz, one the group’s vice-chairman, was a signatory to a letter in 1998 which asked President Bill Clinton to bring down “Saddam and his regime” in Iraq. Soros’ business partners at the Carlyle Group—one of world’s largest private equity funds—made massive profits from defence contracts.  These partners included former secretary of state James Baker and Frank Carlucci, former defence secretary.” Again, Soros had invested more than $100 million in Carlyle Group.

It’s easy to see how Soros remains out-of-bounds for most governments. He works through charity and donations to groups he can control or influence. There could be other powerful groups or family houses behind him. He is difficult to pin down, a faceless enemy to societies and nations. Anarchy could lead to weakening of governments; institutions and national assets become up for grab for investor-sharks such as Soros. In the Sorosian world order, constitutional republics must be weakened and its allies degraded.

That Soros is now interested in India should tell you the threat Modi and the rise of Hindus is proving to the global Left. It’s an effort to destroy governments and impose dictatorship of the elites across the landscape. Left never allows natives to rise: it’s an existential battle for India and Hindus.

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India’s Supreme Court is likely to crack the whip on Wednesday on a few dissenting states who have raised the banner of revolt against the Centre and are looking to bend the Constitutional norms which have served the country so well for over seven decades now.

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India’s Supreme Court is likely to crack the whip on Wednesday on a few dissenting states who have raised the banner of revolt against the Centre and are looking to bend the Constitutional norms which have served the country so well for over seven decades now.

The bone of contention is the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which has met the mandate of the Parliament and strictly comes under Centre’s domain yet a few opposition states have struck it down in home assemblies and added fuel to the fire of protestors, out on India’s streets for over a month now.

India of dozens of states, hundreds of languages, thousands of castes, millions of gods and a billion plus people was envisaged as a federal structure by its founding fathers where states could run most of its affairs independently as long as they don’t interfere with the core of the Union which has restricted itself largely to defence, foreign affairs, communications, citizenship etc.

Such a division was enshrined in India’s Constitution which took four years of intense making and where legislature, executive and judiciary were so finely balanced that each knew of its roles and limitations. India also boldly trusted its millions of citizens, largely illiterate at the time of independence, to choose its representatives at the local, regional and national levels at periodic intervals, never more than five years apart.

A rare Constitutional success in Asia

If my founding fathers were venture capitalists, and if India was a start-up, it would have been a wildly successful investment.  India’s Constitution has survived when none have in Asia among the countries freed from the yoke of colonialism after World War II, barring Taiwan and South Korea. It’s a still bigger feat if one is told that Constitutions around the world have lasted a mere 17 years on an average since the French Revolution of 1789. It might have taken 15-lakh words but nearly 300 men who shaped the Constitution gave India the priceless gift of life.

India presently is in churn because a New Order has emerged which is threatening the entrenched class of political and academic elites. It’s a classic masses vs classes situation. Never has the embedded ecosystem been rattled so badly. It’s losing election after general elections as masses overwhelmingly are voting in favour of prime minister Narendra Modi who is a complete antithesis to a typical political elite: A tea-seller once, carrying no baggage of dynasty and an existential threat to cronyism.

It’s been only six months since Modi’s re-election but the speed with which a new India was changing its contours, be it on matters of Kashmir or Lord Rama’s temple, issues which had been frozen in a time warp for decades, has made the entrenched ecosystem sense a quaking, slipping earth below their feet. The new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) gave them an opportunity to spread the misinformation and stoke the fears of Muslims which has led to protests and riots on India’s streets. People are being openly incited to slam the door shut on Centre if it comes asking for their verifiable identity.

Thus a few opposition-ruled Indian states have been defiant and a few more have professed to do so in coming days. The protests have been sensationalized by India’s deplorable media which has long been part of ecosystem and thus not prepared to lose its entitlements. Western media, as ever, is fishing in troubled waters.

Global implications

So is India coming off the wheels? Does the rebellion by a few of its people and states portend an approaching disaster? Has the historical and cultural animosity between Hindus and Muslims been unsheathed and won’t return till it has devoured its share of lives? Would a few states go ahead and declare themselves independent? Would India’s established institutions strike back and change India’s cherished Constitution forever? Would it make the Western sharks smell the blood in the waters and move in in the name of protecting “democracy” and “human rights”? And if that happens would a nuclear-armed South Asia became a flashpoint which could be humanity’s worst hour?

History often is a good guide in troubled times. It’s not the first time when states in India have rebelled against the Union. It’s also not the first time when people have indulged in anarchy or large-scale violence on India’s streets. It’s also not the first time when feelings have run high between Hindus and Muslims. But sooner than later, the order returns. And that’s because the two sides of the divide, political or religious, realize that they are better off with existing order than in trying to finish each other off. That in essence is the reason why India’s Constitution endures. That’s exactly the message Supreme Court is likely to declare on Wednesday. And that’s when the warring camps would return to their trenches.

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In last 24 hours, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has virtually accused his own party of “orchestrating” the anti-CAA protests. It’s a mortal blow to Congress who were hoping to ride the anti-CAA protests. It’s also of incalculable benefit to the BJP.

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In last 24 hours, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has virtually accused his own party of “orchestrating” the anti-CAA protests. It’s a mortal blow to Congress who were hoping to ride the anti-CAA protests. It’s also of incalculable benefit to the BJP.

In these 24 hours alone, another senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal has struck a blow in the guts of his own party by stating that state governments have no choice but to implement the CAA. To make things worse, historian Ramachandra Guha perceived to be in Congress camp has called out Rahul Gandhi as a “fifth-generation dynast which young India doesn’t want.”

This is the kind of blow which could bring the Congress edifice crashing down. Not since its 1967 split, Congress has faced a crisis as grave as the present one. Dynasts are up against powerful rebels. It already had marginal credibility on national scene. It’s vote bank Indian Muslims now can’t trust it either. The anti-CAA protests were largely seen being led by Indian Muslims, arguably on the back of Congress-Left support, particularly in the case of students’ protests and Shaheen Bagh sit-ins. All this has now blown up in their face.

Before we look at the nuances, I would ask readers to first consider the following public pronouncements by these men:

JAIRAM RAMESH (senior Congress leader):

“We (Congress) has to revive the culture of internal debate…It has literally vanished.”

“We stood against the CAB in the Lok Sabha…but we didn’t walk out. That’s the important thing.”

“I think the protests you are seeing, it would be wise for the Congress not to be seen to be orchestrating them.”

“I am not so sure whether state governments saying that we will not implement CAA will stand judicial scrutiny.”

“I know that the Kerala government has passed a resolution but it’s a political resolution.”

“Whether a state assembly passing a resolution negating CAA will pass constitutional scrutiny, I’m not sure.”

“We don’t support abrogation of Article 370…but once a decision is taken, you go along with it.”

“I was not part of Mrs. Gandhi as the Congress president. I see her as an interim full-time president.”

“If you look around the Congress party, you will find a large number of people who carry a lot of credibility. But yes, we are not being able to match up to people’s expectations.”

KAPIL SIBAL (Senior Congress leader):

“It would be unconstitutional for state governments to say they will not implement it (CAA).”

“Constitutionally, saying that I won’t implement it is going to be problematic and going to create more difficulties.”

“If the Supreme Court upholds it (CAA), how can you say I won’t implement it.”

“You can’t have a CAA unless you have an NPR and a NRC. How will you have a citizens’ register unless you have a population register.”

Ramachandra Guha, historian (Perceived to speak the language which Congress wants to hear):

 “Young India doesn’t want a fifth-generation dynast (Rahul Gandhi).”

“You (Kerala) made the mistake of re-electing Rahul Gandhi…One of the disastrous thing you did was to re-elect Rahul Gandhi to parliament.”

“Narendra Modi’s great advantage is that he is not Rahul Gandhi. He is self-made. He has run a state for 15 years, he has an administrative experience. He is incredibly hard-working and he never takes holidays in Europe.”

“India is becoming more democratic and less feudal, and the Gandhis just don’t realizeth is. You (Sonia Gandhi) are in Delhi, your kingdom is shrinking more and more but still your chamchas (sycophants) are telling you that you are still the badshah.”

All this in the last few dozen hours points to three things: One, internal opposition within Congress is now in an implosion stage; Two, its’ anti-CAA stand is being voiced down from serious credible voices within; Three, Gandhis are being called out as dynasts and internal dissension within the party has vanished.

Why have Ramesh and Sibal rebelled against the party line? Both Ramesh and Sibal are marginalized within the power structure of Congress and are not part of the all-powerful Congress Working Committee (CWC). Shashi Tharoor is also not in the perfumed list but he swallowed his humiliation in silence after being upstaged as Congress leader in the Lok Sabha by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot also dissent too often. Gandhis’ rely on Ahmed Patels, Motilal Vohras, Anand Sharmas and Ghulab Nabi Azads in the CWC; and pulls out loyalists Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath for chief ministerships.

The dissenters have chosen their moment well. They have struck down “CAA” in public perception before the Supreme Court moves on it on January 22. This is bound to cheer up BJP/RSS and its’ considerable forces. It would also rise to anger within Indian Muslims who were shown the path of protests through misinformation on which the Congress is now backtracking. Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh has legitimate reasons to believe he has been stabbed in the back. He couldn’t have got the assembly’s resolution and voting against the CAA without the nudging from the Gandhis. He has been sabotaged, perhaps deliberately, so as nobody gets big enough to replace Gandhis’ at the helm. These were the same Gandhis who were supporting Navjot Singh Sidhu against Amarinder Singh.

Both Ramesh and Sibal know they have acted against the party-line. Both know there could be repercussions. Both don’t have political bases so certainly they can’t swim alone. But both also don’t want to drown with a moribund Congress. They have exacted their revenge. The reverberations are bound to be felt in Maharashtra, if not in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, where disgruntled Congress leaders and workers are straining to break free.

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You have virtually forced me to write this open letter to you. For, all along, I have persistently tried to keep myself away from party politics and to use whatever little talent and energy I might have to do some creative and constructive work...

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(January 19 is the 29th anniversary of Kashmiri Pandits’ exodus from the Valley. We reproduce the bitter letter which Jagmohan had written to Rajiv Gandhi in 1990 .It’s a must-read for all those who wish to understand the nuances of turbulent Kashmir of those days. It would also throw light on how politicians dance on butchered human lives -- NewsBred)

By Jagmohan

Dear Shri Rajiv Gandhi,

You have virtually forced me to write this open letter to you. For, all along, I have persistently tried to keep myself away from party politics and to use whatever little talent and energy I might have to do some creative and constructive work, as was done recently in regard to the management and improvement of Mata Vaishno Devi shrine complex and to help in bringing about a sort of cultural renaissance without which our fast decaying institutions cannot be nursed back to health. At the moment, the nobler purposes of these institutions, be they in the sphere of executive, legislature or judiciary etc. have been sapped and the soul of justice and truth sucked out of them by the politics of expediency.

You and your friends like Dr. Farooq Abdullah are, however, bent upon painting a false picture before the nation in regard to Kashmir. Your senior party men like Shiv Shankar and N.K.P. Salve have, apparently at your behest, been using the forum of the Parliament for building an atmosphere of prejudice against me. The former raked up a fourteen-year old incident of Turkman Gate and the latter a press interview an interview that I never gave to hurl a barrage of accusations of communalism against my person. Mani Shankar Iyer, too, has been dipping his poisonous darts in the columns of some magazines. I, however, chose to suffer in silence all the slings and arrows of this outrageous armoury of disinformations. Only rarely did I try to correct gross distortions by sending letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines. My intention was to remain content with a book, an academic and historic venture which, I believed, I owed to the nation and to history.

But the other day some friends showed to me press clippings of your comments in the election meetings in Rajasthan.

That, I thought, was the limit. I realized that, unless I checked your intentional distortions, you would spread false impression about me throughout the country during the course of your election campaign.

WARNING SIGNALS: Need I remind you that from the beginning of 1988, I had started sending "Warning Signals" to you about the gathering storm in Kashmir ? But you and the power wielders around you had neither the time, nor the inclination, nor the vision, to see these signals. They were so clear, so pointed, that to ignore them was to commit sins of true historical proportions.

To recapitulate and to serve as illustrations, I would refer to a few of these signals. In August 1988, after analysing the current and undercurrents, I had summed up the position thus: "The drum-beater of parochialism and fundamentalism are working overtime. Subversion is on the increase. The shadows of events from across the border are lengthening. Lethal weapons have come in. More may be on the way". In April 1989, I had desperately pleaded for immediate action I said: "The situation is fast deteriorating. It has almost reached a point of no return. For the last five days, there have been large-scale violence, arson, firing, hartals, casualties and what not. Things have truly fallen apart. Talking of the Irish crisis, British Prime Minister Disraeli had said: "It is potatoes one day and Pope the next". Similar is the present position in Kashmir. Yesterday, it was Maqbool Bhat; today it is Satanic Verses; Tomorrow it will be repression day and the day after it will be something else. The Chief Minister stands isolated. He has already fallen-politically as well as administratively; perhaps, only constitutional rites remain to be performed. His clutches are too soiled and rickety to support him. Personal aberrations have also eroded his public standing. The situation calls for effective intervention. Today may be timely, tomorrow may be too late". Again, in May, I expressed my growing anxiety: 'What is still more worrying is that every victory of subversionists is swelling their ranks, and the animosity is being diverted against the central authorities". But you chose not to do anything. Your inaction was mystifying. Equally mistifying was your reaction to my appointment for the second term. How could I suddenly become communal, anti-muslim and what not ?

When I resigned in July 1989, there was no rancour. You wanted me to fight, as your party candidate, election for the South Delhi Lok Sabha seat. Since I had general revulsion for the type of politics which our country had, by and large, come to breed, I declined the offer. If you had any serious reservation about my accepting the offer of J and K Governorship for the second term, you could have adopted the straight forward course and apprised me of your views. I would have thought twice before going into a situation which had virtually reached a point of no return. There would have been no need for you to resort to false accusations.

May be you do not consider truth and consistency as virtues. May be you believe that the words inscribed on our national emblem - Satyameva Jayate - are mere words without meaning and significance for motivating the nation to proceed in the right direction and build a true and just India by true and just means. Perhaps power is all that matters to you - power by whichever means and at whatever cost.

REALITY: In regard to the conditions prevailing before and after my arrival on the scene, you and your collaborators have been perverting reality. The truth is that before the imposition of Governor's rule on January 19, 1990, there was a total mental surrender. Even prior to the day (December 8, 1989) of Dr. Rubaiye Sayeed's kidnapping, when the eagle of terrorism swooped the state with full fury, 1600 violent incidents, including 351 bomb blasts had taken place in eleven months. Then between January 1 and January 19, 1990, there were as many as 319 violent acts - 21 armed attacks, 114 bomb blasts, 112 arsons, and 72 incidents of mob violence.

You, perhaps, never cared to know that all the components of the power structure had been virtually taken over by the subversives. For example, when Shabir Ahmed Shah was arrested in September 1989, on the Intelligence Bureau's tip- off, Srinagar Deputy Commissioner flatly refused to sign the warrant of detention. Anantnag Deputy Commissioner adopted the same attitude. The Advocate-General did not appear before the Court to represent the state case. He tried to pass on the responsibility to the Additional Advocate General and the Government council. They, too, did not appear.

Do you not remember what happened on the day of Lok Sabha poll in November 22, 1989 ? In a translating gesture, TV sets were placed near some of the polling booths with placards reading "anyone who will cast his vote will get this". No one in the administration of Dr. Farooq Abdullah took any step to remove such symbols of defiance if authority.

Let me remind you that Sopore is the hometown of Gulam Rasool Kar, who was at that time a Cabinet Minister in the State Government. It is also the hometown of the Chairman of the Legislative Council, Habibullah, and also of the former National Conference MP and Cabinet Minister, Abdul Shah Vakil. Yet only five votes were cast in Sopore town. In Pattan, an area supposedly under the influence of Iftikar Hussain Ansari, the then Congress (I) Minister, not a single vote was cast. Such was the commitment and standing of your leaders and collaborators in the State.

And you still thought that subversion and terrorism could be fought with such political and administrative instruments.

Around that point of time, when the police set-up was getting rapidly demoralized, when intelligence was fast drying up, when inflitration in services was bringing stories of subversives plan like TOPAC, your protage, Dr. Farooq Abdullah was either going abroad or releasing 70 hardcore and highly motivated terrorists who were trained in the handling of dangerous weapons, who had contacts at the highest level in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, who knew all the devious routes of going to and returning from Pakistan and whose detention had been approved by the three member advisory board presided over by the Chief Justice. Their simultaneous release enabled them to occupy key positions in the network of subversion and terrorism and to complete the chain which took them again to Pakistan to bring arms to indulge in killings and kidnappings and other acts of terrorism. For example, one of the released persons, Mohd. Daud Khan of Ganderbal, became the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of a terrorist outfit, Al-Bakar, and took a leading part in organising a force of 2,500 Kashmiri Youths. Who is to be blamed for all the heinous crimes subsequent}y committed by these released 70 terrorists ? I would leave this question answered by the people to whom you are talking about the "Jagmohan Factor".

The truth, supported by preponderance of evidence, is that before January 19, 1990, the terrorist had become the real ruler. The ground had been yielded to him to such an extent that dominated the public mind. He could virtually swim like a fish in the sea. Would it matter if the sea was subsequently surrounded?

LABELLING ANTI-MUSLIM: In your attempt to hide all your sins of omission and commission in Kashmir and as a part of your small politics which cannot go beyond dividing people and creating vote banks, you took special pains to demolish all regards and respects which the Kashmiri masses, including the Muslim youth, had developed for me during my first term from April 26,1984, to July 12,1989. Against all facts, unassailable evidence, and your own precious pronouncements, you started labelling me as anti-Muslim.

May I, in this connection, also invite your attention to three of the important suggestions made in my book, Rebuilding Shahjahanabad: The Walled City of Delhi. One pertained to the creation of the green velvet between Jama Masjid and Red Fort; the second to the construction of a road linking Parliament House with the Jama Masjid complex, and the third to the setting up of a second Shahajhanabad in the Mata Sundari road-Minto road complex, reflecting the synthetic culture of the city, its traditional as well as its modern texture. Could such suggestions I ask you, come of an anti-Muslim mind ?

FORUM OF PARLIAMENT: How you and your associates use the fonum of Parliament undermine my standing amongst the Kashmiri Muslims, was evident from what N.KP. Salve did in the Rajya Sabha on May 25, 1990.

Referring to the so called interview to the Bombay Weekly, THE CURRENT - an interview which I never gave - Salve chose wholly unjustified expressions; "There was a patent and palpable attitude if very disconcerting communal bias and, therefore, he (Governor) was happy under the garb of eliminating the terrorist, the saboteurs and the culprits, in eliminating the whole community as it were; now the Governor has himself given profuse and unabashed vent to his malicious malignity, hate and extreme dislike, branding every member of a particular community as a militant".

I know Salve. I do not think, if left to himself, he would have done what he did. Clearly, he was goaded to say something which was against his training and background. But the elementary precaution which any jurist, at least a jurist of Salve's imminence, would have taken, was to first check up whether any such interview weekly had been given by me, and if so, whether the remarks attributed to me were actually made. The unseemly haste was itself revealing. The issue was raised on May 25, while the weekly was dated May 26 June 2, 1990. You yourself rushed a letter to the President on May 25, on the basis of the interview that in reality did not exist. You explained that V.P. Singh had appointed a person with "Rabid Communalist Opinion as Governor. You also got your letter widely published on May 25 itself.

Since your party men did not allow me to have my say in the Rajya Sabha, even when an opportunity came my way to speak on the subject, I was left with no other option but to file a 20 Lakhs damage suit against the Current Weekly in the Delhi High Court. The case may take a long time and I may donate the damages, if and when awarded, to charity, but I intend sparing no effort to expose all those who have played dirty roles in the disinformation-drama.

ARTICLE-370: You created a scene on March 7, 1990, at the time of the visit of the All Party Committee to Srinagar, and made it a point to convey to the people in 1986 I wanted to have Article 370 abrogated. At that critical juncture, when I was fighting the forces of terrorism with my back to the wall beginning to turn the corner after frustrating the sinister designs of the subversives from January 26, 1990 onwards, you thought it appropriate to cause hostility against me by tearing the facts out of context. Whether this act of yours was responsible or irresponsible, I would leave to the nation to decide.

What I had really pointed out in August-September 1986 was:

“Article 370 is nothing but a breeding ground for the parasites at the heart of the paradise. It skins the poor. It deceives them with its mirage. It lines the pockets of the "power elites". It fans the ego of the new sultans, in essence, it creates a land without justice, a land full of crudities and contradictions. It props up politics of deception, duplicity and demagogy. It breeds the microbes of subversion. It keeps alive the unwholesome legacy of the two-nation theory. It suffocates the very idea of India and fogs the very vision of a great social and cultural crucible from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. It could be an epicentre of a violent earth-quake, the tremors of which would be felt all over the country with unforeseen consequences.”

I had argued, 'The fundamental aspect which has been lost sight of in the controversy for deletion or retention of Article 370 is its misues. Over the years, it has become an instrument of exploitation in the hands of the ruling political elites and other vested interests in bureaucracy, business, judiciary and bar. Apart from the politicians, the richer classes have found it convenient to amass wealth and not allow healthy financial legislation to come to the State. The provisions of the Wealth Tax, the Urban Land Ceiling Act, the Gift Tax etc, and other beneficial laws of the Union have not been allowed to be operated in the State under the cover of Article 370. The common people are prevented from realizing that Article 370 is actually keeping them impoverished and denying them justice and also their due share in the economic advancement.'

My stand was that the poor people of Kashmir had been exploited under the protective wall of Article 370 and that the correct position needed to be explained to them. I had made a number of suggestions in this regard and also in regard to the reform and reorganisation of the institutional framework. But all these were ignored. A great opportunity was missed.

Subsequent events have reinforced my views that Article 370 and its by product, the separate Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir must go, not only because it is legally and constitutionally feasible to do so, but also because larger and more basic considerations of our past history and contemporary life require it. The Article merely facilitates the growth and continuation of corrupt oligarchies. It puts false notions in the minds of the youth. It gives rise to regional tensions and conflicts and even the autonomy assumed to be available is not attainable in practice. The distinct personality and cultural identity of Kashmir can be safeguarded without this Article. It is socially regressive and causes situations in which women lose their right if they marry non-State subjects and persons staying for over 44 years in the State are denied elementary human and democratic rights. And, above all, it does not fit into the reality and requirement of India and its vast and varied span. What India needs today is not petty sovereignties that would sap its spirit and aspirations and turn it into small "banana-republics" in the hands of 'tin-pot dictators', but a new social, political and cultural crucible in which values of truth and rectitude, of fairness and justice, and of compassion and catholicity, are melted, purified and moulded into a vigorous and vibrant set- up which provides real freedom, real democracy and real resurgence to all.

I must also point out that when other States in the Union ask for greater autonomy, they do not mean separation of identities. They really want decentralisation and devolution of power, so that administrative and development work is done speedily and the quality of service to the people improves. In Kashmir, the demand for retaining Article 370 with all its 'pristine purity', that is, without the alleged dilution that has taken place since 1953, stems from different motivation. It emanates from a clever strategy to remain away from the mainstream, to set up a separate fiefdom, to fly a separate flag, to have a Prime Minister rather than a Chief Minister, and Sadr-i-Riyasat instead of a Governor, and to secure greater power and patronage, not for the good of the masses, not for serving the cause of peace and progress or for attaining unity amidst diversity, but for serving the interests of 'new elites', the 'new Sheikhs'.

All those aspiring to be the custodians of the vote-banks continue to say that Article 370 is a matter of faith. But they do not proceed further. They do not ask themselves: What does this faith mean? What is its rationale ? Would not bringing the State within the full framework of Indian Constitution give brighter lustre and sharper teeth to this faith and make it more just and meaningful?

In a similar strain, expressions like 'historical necessity' and 'autonomy' are talked about. What do these mean in practice ? Does historical necessity mean that you include, on paper, Kashmir in the Indian Union by one hand at a huge cost and give it back, in practice, by another hand on the golden platter? And what does autonomy or so called pre-1953 or pre- 1947 position imply ? Would it not amount to the Kashmiri leadership say in: 'you will send and I will spend; you will have no say even if I build a corrupt and callous oligarchy and cause a situation in which Damocles' sword of secession could be kept hanging on your head' ?

KASHMIRI PANDITS: You and the like of you have made India a country which has lost capacity to be true and just. Anyone trying to be fair is dubbed communal. The case of the Kashmiri Pandits bears eloquent testimony to this fact.

Whatever be the vicissitudes of the Kashmiri Pandits' history and whatever unkind quirks their fate might have brought to them in the past, these all pale into insignificance in comparison to what is happening to them at present. The grim tragedy is compounded by the equally grim irony that one of the most intelligent subtle, versatile, and proud community of the country is being virtually reduced to extinction in free India. It is suffering not under the fanatic zeal of mediaeval Sultans like Sikander or under the tyrannical regime of Afghan Governors, but under the supposedly secular rule of leaders like you, V.P. Singh and others who unabashed search for personal and political power is symbolised by calculated disregard of the Kashmiri migrants' current miserable plight and the terrible future that stares in their eyes. And to fill their cup of pain and anguish, there are bodies like 'Committee for Initiative on Kashmir' which are over-anxious and over active to rub salt into their wounds, and to label anyone who wants to stand by them in their hour of distress as communal.

In a soft, superficial, permissive and, in many ways, cruel India which has the tragic distinction of creating over one lakh refugees from its own flesh and blood and then casting them aside like masterless cattle to fend for themselves on the busy and heartless avenues of soulless cities, chances for Kashmiri Pandits to survive as a distinct community are next to nothing. Split, scattered and deserted practically by all, they stand today all alone, looking hopelessly at a leaking, rudderless, boat at their feat and extremely rough and tumultuous sea to face before they can reach a safe shore across to plant their feet firmly on an assured future.

The deep crisis through which the Kashmiri migrants, or for that matter, the entire Kashmir, is passing is really the crisis of Indian values - the perversion, in practice, of its constitutional, political, social and moral norms. If I visited the camps of the refugees and tried to extend the firm hand of justice to a community in pain, if I instructed that, instead of cash doles, the migrant Government servants should be given leave salary, and if I conceded the demand of a widow of the person brutally killed by a terrorist, for allotment of a house on payment, I became communal, a known anti-Muslim, about whom concoted stories were planted in the press. If, on the other hand, someone falsely accused the Indian Army and the Governor's administration, if he assailed Jagmohan in particular, of giving inducements through provisions of plots and trucks, without giving particulars either of plots or of trucks, his accusations got published all over the press, his reports were flaunted in national and international forums and were copiously quoted in Parliament by the members of your party and he was labelled as secular and progressive and champion of human rights and what not. Hard Evidence about 'Jagmohan Factor'. I do not like to refer to anything that looks like indulging in self-praise. But not to let you get away with your calculated campaign of disinformation, about Jagmohan communal factor, I must invite attention to some hard evidence about what the people of the Valley actually thought about me before you and your proteges started the smear campaign on my appointment for the second term.

Your principal prop of current politics of Kashmir, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, was not to be left behind in the drive launched to create an 'anti-Muslim' image of mine. In his interview published in the Times of India of August 30, 1990, he said, "A known anti-Muslim was appointed as Governor of a Muslim majority state". How untrue, how unfair, was the propaganda, should be obvious from the fact that on November 7, 1986, at the time of his swearing-in-ceremony, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, in a public speech for which the records exist, said: "Governor Sahib, we should need you very badly. It is, indeed, amazing that such remarkable work could be done by you in a short time through an imbecile and faction-ridden bureaucracy. If today three ballot boxes are kept - one for the National Conference, one for the Congress and one for you, your ballot box would be full while the other two ballot boxes would be empty".

The misfortune of our country is that we have leaders like Dr. Farooq Abdullah who have no regard for facts or truth and whose superficiality is matched only by their unprincipled politics.

Incidentally, did it not strike you that Dr. Farooq was virtually accusing your late mother of being anti-Muslim because she was the Prime Minister when, in April 1984, a 'known anti-Muslims' was appointed for the first term, as 'Governor of a Muslim majority State" ?

Apparently in consultation with you, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, on February 15, 1990, issued a written statement to the press in Urdu in which he inter alia, said, "The Governor, in the personification of 'Hallaqu' and 'Changez Khan', is bent upon converting the valley into a vast graveyard. On account of continuous curfew since January 20, it is difficult to say how many hundreds of people have become victim of the bullets of the army and paramilitary forces, and in this general slaughter how many hundreds of houses have been destroyed. At this moment, when Kashmiris are witnessing their beloved country being converted into a vast graveyard. I appeal to the national and international upholders of humanity to intervene in Kashmir and have an international inquiry made into the general slaughter of Kashmiris at the hands of army and paramilitary forces".

Here is your 'patriot' calling Kashmir "Aziz Wattan", suggesting a separate country. Here is your 'national leader' asking for an international inquiry into the general slaughter of the Kashmiris by the Indian Army and paramilitary forces. Here is your 'responsible friend' speaking about the continuous curfew for 25 days in the valley and his consequent inability to find out many 'hundreds of innocent and unarmed Kashmiris' had been massacred and how many hundreds of Kashmiri houses razed to the ground, although he knew perfectly well that there had been a number of days when there was no day- curfew, partially or wholly, and the authorities had brought out the list of casualties, about 40 up to February 16, and were daily asking the public to provide with the additional names, if they had any, so that correction in the official list could be made. Here is an erstwhile Chief Minister who did not care to explain how 'innocent and unarmed' people were ruthlessly shooting down IAF officers, BSF jawans, senior officers of the Television and Telecommunications Department and young men in the streets; and how, while inciting people through lengthy and fiery statements, he did not find a single word to condemn such brutal murders.

Is the nation not entitled to know why you have not disowned such unfortunate behaviour on the part of Dr. Farooq Abdullah? And how do you account for his recent statement as published in The Times of India of February 7, 1991: 'I directed my partymen to lie low, go across the border, get training in arms handling; do anything but not get caught by Jagmohan' ?

Stabbing me in the back at personal level, perhaps, did not matter. But by keeping the pot boiling, you your proteges prolonged the agony of Kashmir and caused many more deaths and much more destruction. The politics of unscrupulousness was brought to its lowest depth.

ROOTS: You once said, 'I do not read history; I make history'. Apparently, you do not know that those who happen to make history without reading it, usually make bad history. They cannot understand the undercurrents and the fundamental forces that really shape the course of events and determine the ultimate destiny of a nation.

In the absence of historical perspective, you and the like of you never perceived the roots and tendrils which gave rise to the current crop of separatism and subversion in Kashmir. Poisonous seeds were persistently planted in the Kashmir psyche. And these were liberally fertilized. Those of you whose obligation it was to stop these plantations and their fertilization, were not aware of even the elementary lesson of history; to compromise with the evil was only to rear greater evil; to ignore the inconvenient reality was only to compound it; to bow before the bully was only to invite the butcher the next day.

I could cite scores of cases to support my contention. Here I would restrict myself to only two examples.

Softness and Surrender: On October 2, 1988, Mahatma Gandhi's birthday his statue was to be installed in the new High Court complex at Srinagar. The function had been announced. The Chief Justice of India, R.S. Pathak, was to do the formal installation. But a few Muslim lawyers objected. They threatened to cause disturbance at the time of the function. The Chief Minister gave in, almost willingly, to the bullying tactics. The function was cancelled.

What are the implications of what happened ? A secular Kashmir, part of a secular India, could not have, even in its highest seat of justice, a statue of the Father of the Nation, of a sage, who laid down his life for communal harmony. Who was the person spearheading the move against the installation ? It was none other than Mohd. Shafi Bhat, an advocate of the J and K High Court and an active number of the National Conference, who was later on given party ticket for Srinagar Lok Sabha seat in the elections held in November 1989 and with whom you kept warm company during your visit to Srinagar on March 7, 1990, to create as many difficulties as possible for Governor's administration.

At that time there was National Conference (F) Congress (I) Ministry in office. Such was its lack of adherence to principles, such was the character of Congressmen who formed part of the Ministry and such was its disposition to cling to power that not even a little finger was raised when the function was cancelled.

The bully's appetite could not have been whetted better. Intimidation could not have secured better results. The troublemakers could not have perceived a more casual and non- committed adversary. Was it not natural for them to nurture higher ambitions and think that more spectacular results could be achieved by deploying a more aggressive and threatening strategy ? Only a naive would believe that in the context of the Kashmir situation, softness and surrender on basic principles would not act as an invitation to terrorism and militancy.

The Union Government enacted the Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988. It was made applicable to all the States of the Union except J and K. Because of Article 370, concurrence of the State Government was needed for extension of this law to the State. But the same was not given. Why ? Because J and K is different what an argument for having a law which aimed at eradication of misuse of religious premises for political purposes.

Nowhere was this law needed more than in the State of J and K. Nowhere were religious places misused more than here. Nowhere were seeds of fanaticism and fundamentalism sown every Friday more assiduoulsy than from the pulpits of the mosques here. Nowhere was it preached more regularly than here that Indian democracy was un-Islamic, Indian secularism was un-Islamic and Indian socialism was un-Islamic. And yet, neither the State Government which was ruled by two supposedly secular parties, nor the Union Government took the matter seriously. What intrigued the most was that the law which was considered good for 100 million Muslims in other parts of India, was not considered good for 40 lakh Muslims of Kashmir.

What was the use of the nationalist forces ruling the country when they would not act in national interest at all, when they remained mental slaves of the politics of communalism; when they were inclined to place reliance on words and not on deeds; when they did not lead, but succumbed; when they encouraged, and not defeated, separatist elements; when, instead of building a new society strong in human and spiritual values, they did everything, wittingly or unwittingly, to repair, renovate and strengthen the old decaying and smelly citadel of obscurantism; and when they invariably gave precedence to expediency over the basic goals and principles of our Constitution ? What could be the result of all this? Did it require any unusual insight to understand where such fissured forces would take us?

I leave it to the well-wishers of the nation to consider, without any political or personal bias, a basic question. How was it that Dr. Farooq was calling me Hallaqu and Changez Khan, and you were travelling all the way to Srinagar to 'expose' me as anti-Article 370, anti-Kashmiri and anti-Muslim and, at the same time, Miss Benazir Bhutto was vowing to tear me to pieces - 'Jagmohan ko Bhag-Bhag Mohan Kar Denge' ?

There are many other facets of Kashmir's truth which lie buried underneath the heaps of disinformation and also of superficiality and shallowness. These days I am busy in an attempt to remove some of these heaps. One day, I hope, the country will acquire the true perspective of the problem. The Kashmiri masses would also realize that I was their greatest well-wisher. I wanted to save them permanently from the exploitative oligarchies and also from the machinations of religious 'Czars' and forces of obscurantism.

You have already committed the sin of letting down the Bharat Mata in Kashmir. Now do not add to it another sin of letting down the other Mata also. There is, after all, some power above. Conscious of her. She may condone your negligence. But she would not condone your sin of blaming an innocent person for what were your own faults, particularly when he had been persistently reminding you of your obligations.

So far as I am concerned, I am content with my gloomy pride of having done the correct thing in Kashmir. True, I seemingly and, perhaps, temporarily, lost the goodwill of some of the locals. But I was not seeking a certificate from anyone. I had gone for the second term to do a national duty.

The country's polity and administration have assumed such a character that it has become incapable of solving from its roots, any serious problem. Elections have virtually lost all meaning. And these would continue to be meaningless until and unless Indian democracy and its constitutional structure acquires a healthy cultural base, a pure soul and soil, from which the seed of justice, truth and selfless service could sprout and blossom into a Great Tree providing shade and shelter from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. Currently, the inner light is gone, and we are being led virtually by blind men with lanterns in their hands. We stumble from one crisis to another. As a poet says:

It has happened
and it goes on happening
and it will happen again.

With best wishes,
Yours sincerely,
Jagmohan

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India has not quite yet changed the horses midstream but it seems to have asked its’ two important guests to to lend a shoulder for it to shift its’ diplomatic destiny in 2020 and beyond.

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India has not quite yet changed the horses midstream but it seems to have asked its’ two important guests to to lend a shoulder for it to shift its’ diplomatic destiny in 2020 and beyond.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javid Zarif were in Delhi yesterday and met their Indian equivalent Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, as well as Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, to help India fit in in the diplomatic attire it now wants in the Middle East.

India has been alarmed with the duplicity of its professed friend United States which hosted a 2+2 meeting (foreign and defence ministers of the two nations) for India in Washington last month but gave no inkling of the assassination it had planned for Iranian General Qassem Soleimani within days which has bloodied and disfigured India’s domestic and foreign interests.

India stunned by US betrayal

India has been snuggling up to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and downgrading its commitment to Iran, for some time now which was viewed as pointers to its closeness to the United States.  But now this presumption has been torn to shreds: Not only United States shrouded a dagger in its sleeve but in the wake of General Soleimani’s assassination, it chose to call up Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Bajwa while ignoring India’s top brass completely. Even Donald Trump, who never tires of terming Modi as his dear friend, didn’t bother to ring up the Indian prime minister. All that bonhomie of last few years between the two amounted to nothing. To rub further salt into India’s wounds, the State Department has now announced the resumption of US-Pakistan military co-operation.

 India’s domestic compulsions are no less compelling. It has mounting energy bill from the Middle East which could hit sky if the region descends into chaos. It would only add to India’s present economic woes. It also has to worry about its 8 million large diaspora in the Middle East—and many more if one counts their families back home--which sends a sizeable remittance of $40 billion every year. India also has the second-largest Shia population in the world, 45 million by the last count, which is furious by Gen. Soleimani’s assassination: Down United States and pro-Iran slogans have been witnessed in Kargil, a part of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state.

It’s also pretty apparent that Iran is the umbrella under which anti-US sentiments in the Middle East has now grown to a feverish pitch in the Middle East. Iran’s militia proxies operate from the bases of most nations of the region and its’ missile strike at two airbases in Iraq last week showcased that Iran doesn’t need to be a nuclear power to inflict damage on the United States.

India has begun to warm up to Iran

India has been on a course-correction vis-à-vis Iran for a few weeks now. It refused to be part of a global naval alliance which the United States had called upon to secure the Persian Gulf. India was startled when Iran, in conjunction with Russia and China, launched a joint naval exercise from the Chabahar port in response for four days last month. It was a sure sign that Iran has important friends and the Chabahar port in which India has invested so heavily and yet ignored under the US pressure, could slip out of India’s grasp. Chabahar essentially allows India to maneuver in its extended neighbourhood. A strong Iran is also a good bet against Islamic State (IS)—buoyant now that its sworn enemy General Soleimani is dead—who could unleash terror against India’s interests in the Middle East and closer home.

India would hope its old friend Russia is a good bet to mend its’ fences with Iran as it looks to align its’ interest in the Middle East of now. Russia is now a force and an arbiter in the Middle East, a stabilizing presence against a chaotic and war-mongering United States. It has ears of diverse and even conflicting forces of the region, be it Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria or Saudi Arabia, Israel and Libya.

It’s in this respect that India gave a full-throated welcome to Lavrov. Lavrov, and Zarif, on their part, would be equally keen to return the Indian warmth. Russia is now ambitious to have a presence in Indo-Pacific—as Lavrov’s comments in Sri Lanka on the eve of his India visit testify—and Iran shares too deep historical and cultural ties with India to stay away for too long.

The United States sent its own two important functionaries on the occasion: Deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger—a known-China baiter and Alice Wells, assistant secretary for South and Central Asian affairs. But theirs was a sideshow, neither gaining audience from India’s big men nor securing any guarantee that India still has positive lens on the United States.

(A modified version of this piece was published in rt.com).

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India is scrambling to put its sky safe after the United States breached the sovereignty of its own “friend” Iraq in carrying out an illegal drone attack which killed, among others, Iran’s top military commander General Qassem Soleimani early this fortnight.

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India is scrambling to put its sky safe after the United States breached the sovereignty of its own “friend” Iraq in carrying out an illegal drone attack which killed, among others, Iran’s top military commander General Qassem Soleimani early this fortnight.

New Delhi already has a regulatory policy in place for the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and their remote pilots who require prior permission to be on Indian skies but it’s no safeguard if a foe (Pakistan) or a perceived friend (the United States) comes hissing from the above and starts raining mayhem.

India had begun to put its drone policy in place after Pakistan was caught out dropping a cache of arms in Punjab last September but it’s the United States, with its brazen disregard for international norms, as well as its murderous drone background, which has had a chilling effect in India’s strategic boardrooms.

General Soleimani’s was a cold-blooded assassination but the United States makes no distinction between its enemies and friends, or civilians, as its drone attacks in seven countries—Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen—bear the imprint of its rogue streak. It has a cooperative security relationship in place with Iraq yet it breached what was termed as “outrageous breach of Iraqi sovereignty” by the Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi in the wake of General Soleimani killing.  

US and its’ sordid drone history

In September last, a US drone strike in Afghanistan snuffed the life out of 30 civilian farm-workers and estimates of similar innocent deaths hover around 1000-2000 in numbers. The exact count is difficult to verify since the United States no longer releases the annual reports on the civilians its airstrikes kill. The allocation on drones in its annual budget though had spiralled to nearly $7 billion in 2018 and conveys the increasing importance of this unmanned weapon in the United States’ aggressive military designs.

Now, in the wake of General Soleimani’s kiiling, India’s army has asked the home ministry for the latest drone-disabling technology which could cut radio frequency and disable GPS. The future of warfare, if its’ already not upon us, would’ve drones mutating into swarms like one of bees or locusts and shooting them down would be near impossible. These swarms could swamp enemy sensors with their sheer numbers. Neutralizing them digitally makes better common sense.

India takes no prisoners

India is thus taking no prisoners as it has decided to expedite a “National Counter Rogue Drone Guidelines” which works out the measures to protect its leaders and vital installations from drone attacks. It had deployed drones to monitor the protests on its streets last month. Drone-strategy is part of Indian military’s ambitious plans to spend $250 billion until 2025 to keep itself battle-primed.

Much before the drone-induced heightened tensions of present times, Indian Air Force had shown no interest in buying drones from the United States. It had found the offer on 10 armed Predator or Avenger drones too prohibitive in costs last August. Besides, the low speed of these drones would’ve been of no use, say in the surgical strikes in Balakot which India carried out last year. It’s slow movement would’ve afforded enough time to the enemy to launch counter measures. Indian navy though is in line to buy a few 10 Sea Guardian drones from the United States for maritime surveillance in near future.

Pakistan, meanwhile, continues to be India’s palpable concern. Once winter gives way to summer and snow thaws in Kashmir, India is wary of Pakistan finding new ways to foment trouble in the Kashmir Valley.  There are intelligence inputs of terrorists readying themselves from across the border post-winter.  Pakistan-based terrorists have made air-space violations through drones in the past. There could be fresh attempts to air-drop funds, drugs and arms for their embedded sleeper-cells in the country. India, simply, can’t afford to take its eyes off either its friends or enemies.

 

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I would give credit to Anurag Kashyap for where he is a today. A small-town boy, an outsider to Bollywood, who has carved a niche for himself without quite directing a blockbuster but has produced films, like “Queen”, which were a source of great joy to viewers.

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I would give credit to Anurag Kashyap for where he is a today. A small-town boy, an outsider to Bollywood, who has carved a niche for himself without quite directing a blockbuster but has produced films, like “Queen”, which were a source of great joy to viewers.

But Anurag revels in “dark movies” and if all art is autobiographical, given how his life has shaped up, he has an immense store of anger: A man who forever is pitting himself against forces, against the system, wishing a revolution—in an interview to Telegraph he laments why #MeToo couldn’t become a grassroot revolution—and probably discovering his new movie ideas through his palpably provoking stances. He is obviously obsessed with movies and his present scrap could well be a vehicle to gain new ideas which feed his “dark” instincts.

He has a long-standing angst against “Right” forces in the country. It could be because of his tiffs with the Censor board; the temporary exodus from twitter after the backlash on his stance against the abrogation of Article 370 last year; the accusation of being funded by AAP for his movie “Udta Punjab” by no less than the Censor board chief. This anger is now bubbling forth in reprehensible posts, showing the Prime Minister of this country, a man immensely loved by majority of his people, as a masked goon or asking him to prove his parentage.

By design or accident, Kashyap is now the darling of the Left-Liberals. Both are unlikely to let go of each other. Both are busy feeding on each other; like his interview in The Hindu today.  It’s now no good to empathize with him, or explain him away psychologically. It’s imperative we examine his positions and nail the dangerous lies he is floating. He is no Che Guevara: If this is your fantasy, live in your loony fantasy Mr Kashyap but stop peddling lies. Here is an attempt to counter the positions he has taken in his interview with The Hindu today (in bold is his position in quotes, followed by my arguments):

 “They are literally borrowing from the book of the Fascist Nazis”

Quite a juvenile assertion, really. For one, Fascist and Nazis are not the same. But let’s accept your reference metaphorically. “They” in your book is BJP dispensation in the Centre.

BJP are Nazis? If BJP is similarly violent, why there has not been a single Hindu-Muslim riot in the country in last six years? Where were you when “riots” regularly made headlines in Congress era? Remember Muzaffarnagar? (We don’t remember your position on it: Is it because you took crores from Akhilesh Yadav who ruled UP then?).  Indeed BJP is the most peaceful regime ever. It’s your secularist governments which had festered riots.

BJP are Nazis? Within his first year, Adolf Hitler had eliminated rivals (Night of the Long Knives), dissolved all other political parties and effectively abolished Parliament. You accuse BJP of the same crime?

BJP are Nazis? You could bring Gujarat and somehow contrive to present it as “genocide.” Gujarat was many times fewer than the Sikhs killed in 1984 on the streets of the Capital, forget the six millions Hitler killed. If at all, rumours have persisted that Ms Sonia Gandhi’s father was a militant fascist and, in 1941-43 was a volunteer in the German offensive on the Eastern Front (It can’t be held up against Ms Gandhi, but just to counter your parentage muck on our prime minister).

BJP are Nazis? Are there gas chambers against Muslims in India? Has any subsidies offered to them been even touched? On the contrary it has increased many folds. Has BJP enforced Uniform Civil Code?

BJP are Nazis? It would interest you that it was Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar who wanted Indian youth to take up arms against the Germans during World War II. (On the contrary, Mahatma Gandhi’s 1942 Quit India was predicated on an Axis victory).

BJP are Nazis? Anybody who has read Hitler’s Mein Kampf knows how inimical he was to Hinduism. Hitler had also lambasted the hereditary priesthood which is sine qua non of Hinduism. Hitler had opposed India’s freedom movement. Hitler simply held Hinduism in contempt: So you are either Nazi or Hindu. Now don’t tell me that BJP is enamoured of someone who is anti-Hindu!

“It’s almost like you are sitting in one of the Romans arenas and all the followers are the audience”

So in your words, BJP is autocratic, dictatorial. Mr Kashyap, could you please tell us how many state governments have BJP dismissed? Do you know that Congress dismissed no less than 93 state governments during their terms?

If BJP is autocratic, what do you call the Congress governments which has had a suffocating hold in the Nehru-Gandhi clan all these years? Are you aware that BJP sacrificed its own government by a single vote in 1999? (It could have easily appeased Mrs Jayalalitha’s by dismissing the Tamil Nadu state government). But it stood by its principles.

 “CAA was notified in the gazette though rules have not been formulated”

That’s how you betray your political ugliness. (And The Hindu its’ nastiness by letting it pass). Rules are always formulated after the law is notified. Got it or still under a hangover? (booze or whatever stuff it is).

“After your patience is over, you tip over and resort to violence (in the aftermath of CAA)”

Really? So CAA was passed by the Parliament on December 11. The Jamia violence broke out on December 15. In just three nights, patience was tipped over and people had to resort to violence? So is this how you define patience? Shouldn’t we call it “anarchists” trying to break up the country? Tukde-tukde gang trying to stage coup on a legally-elected government by the majority of this nation?

 “JNU vice-chancellor is not meeting students”

Oh come on. Whenever JNU authorities approached students for a dialogue, they were met with a stony wall. Be it wardens, proctors or vice-chancellor, all of them were confronted with physical violence. JNU VC Jagadesh Kumar once faced a physical assault and the students broke the window of his car. “On the one side they say, let’s have a dialogue. On the other, they destroy any possibility of having any meaningful discussion,” says Mr Kumar. You want to promote such anarchy and violence?

“There is nobody to have dialogue with”

You apparently don’t appreciate the “dialogue” drive of BJP or even the Police who is trying to educate the students. No less than “dialogue” with 3 crores people has been initiated. And if I may ask you, what about you having a dialogue with students who just want to register and appear in exams? What about the fear they have on their jobs and careers? What about the debilitating loans which their parents might have secured for the higher education of their kids? What about the 208 vice-chancellors of universities around the country who are alerting on “Left-induced” violence in their campuses? Any idea of a “dialogue” with them sirji?

“India’s federalism is under threat: Every state is going their own way (India would unravel)”

Don’t have such loony fantasy. No state would dare break away from India. If Kashmir couldn’t, no other state has any chance. Those fuelling such loony ideas would by “lynched”, yes “lynched”, by their own state people.  Be thankful that you could voice such words and still escape punishment.

“They can’t win Delhi unless there is manipulation”

And how do you think this manipulation would happen? EVM? Bribing voters? Why be so nervous on a state election? You are free to admire AAP and hope fervently for their win. After all, Kejriwal is an original anarchist and appeals to a similar instinct in you.

What do we make of you Mr. Kashyap that you stand up for an “alleged” molester Tarun Tejpal; pooh-pooh the Aligarh rape and murder of a little girl; and yet plaster you twitter wall with “Chhapaak” as if you stand up for women empowerment?

Please look in the mirror: you would find a fake looking back.

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I was seven when the United States sent its nuclear-powered Seventh Fleet to Bay of Bengal to scare India during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. Nearly half a century on, it’s making a similar growl, though financial in kind, to freeze India from buying the S-400 missile system from Russia. India, like in 1971, couldn’t care less.

" ["content"]=> string(5202) "

I was seven when the United States sent its nuclear-powered Seventh Fleet to Bay of Bengal to scare India during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. Nearly half a century on, it’s making a similar growl, though financial in kind, to freeze India from buying the S-400 missile system from Russia. India, like in 1971, couldn’t care less.

The State Department has warned India of economic sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act ) if it went ahead with its buy which India’s military has eyed so longingly for so long. The US appears no wiser to the snub which New Delhi had delivered on secretary of state Mike Pompeo on the same matter six months ago.

The United States might think it’s indispensable enough to wag a finger at India but it's no better than grand-standing by a fading superpower which thinks the world is still its oyster and its “friends” are no better than courtiers in attendance.

India doesn’t need to flip the history pages to know how the United States has stood down its friends over the centuries. From the day it was born in 1776 when it roped in and then dumped indigenous Delaware Indians in its war against the colonialist British, to the modern times when the likes of Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines), Manual Noriega (Panama), Saddam Hussein (Iraq), Muammar Gadaffi etc come flashing to mind, used and then disposed of, the United States hasn’t been a long-abiding friend with anyone.

Sure, it has strategic Anglo-Saxon brotherhood with UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and Mexico is always secure but the United States, by temperament, prefers client-states or vassals. Further, there is no Soviet Union for them to over-extend themselves in pursuit of Global Liberal Order. It is now disengaging itself from the world theatre and be it NATO, Turkey, Japan, Israel or Saudi Arabia all feel abandoned by their big brother from time to time. Remember the drone attack on Aramco when Saudis looked for askance from the US and got nothing in return?

Indo-Pacific and the Great Game

Thus India not only has the historical precedent to judge how convenient the United States is as an ally but it also has the chutzpah to know of its own relevance in Indo-Pacific and the abiding interest it holds for the United States. Since 2016, Council on Foreign Relations which reflects the US foreign policy, rates India as one of the most important piece in its’ global jigsaw.

It’s not to say India doesn’t need the United States for its multiple needs, not the least for its secure borders. Its’ overall trade with the United States was worth $84 billion in 2018. It also has a defence logistics sharing pact --the Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS)-- with the United States.

But Russia and S-400 is another thing. India signed a $5 billion deal with Russia in 2018 to buy five systems of this missile whose capability has the NATO in thrall. India signed this deal last year even as the US sanctions against Russia were in place. The S-400 system can shoot four different missile types, forming a near impassable interlocking grid of missiles. These missiles can’t be electronically jammed and its’ range could take care of almost 40,000-feet-high threats in the air. It's an invaluable buy.

Besides, India has for decades been buying its arsenal from Russia and the fresh buys thus don’t usually have the compatibility issues. Not only the US arms are more expensive, but it’s also not so willing to sell its advanced weapons to India as Russia is. Russia also is an important natural gas provider to India’s monstrous energy needs.

US and its Catch-22 dilemma

When the first system of S-400 is delivered to India this year—all are slated to be provided by 2024—it could be that the United States might enforce a few economic sanctions. After all, it did end India’s special trade privileges last year in a bid to force New Delhi’s hands in importing more goods. But it would be no better than a slap on the wrist. A hard measure could actually come back to bite the United States for it could halt its own major arms supplies to India, including prime weapons such as F-35 which it has been hard-selling to India for some time now.

Instead of threatening India from an assumed position of an indispensable ally, it would help the United States to work out the tariff dispute—a miffed US president Donald Trump calls India “tariff king”--and keep its Indian friends in good humour. India is too important to be sacrificed in haste, certainly not with the empty rhetoric of a ban in case the S-400 missile is acquired by India. The United States has no option but to keep the pretence of being an “ally” going with India.  

(This first appeared as an OpEd in rt.com)

 

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I am a little intrigued by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s prolonged silence since protests and strikes filled our newspapers from headmast to imprint line even if on ground it occupied only a dozen maidans and gullies of our immense country.

" ["content"]=> string(5233) "

I am a little intrigued by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s prolonged silence since protests and strikes filled our newspapers from headmast to imprint line even if on ground it occupied only a dozen maidans and gullies of our immense country.

I am also a little perplexed why BJP is dead-stone cold on the virulent Western protest and even on the staged marches which are being taken from Cape Town to Canada (yes, yes, Prakash Javedkar has whispered his displeasure).

Mamata is being typically outrageous in Bengal; Pinaryi Vijayan is comically taking referendum in Kerala assembly; Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra is picking every destitute child from the street and posing with a straight face, Uddhav Thackeray is comparing JNU to 26/11 and Kamalnath is commenting on prime minister Narendra Modi’s parentage. The sidekicks like Yogendra Yadav and Sitaram Yechury are only finding time for the Left students in their alma mater. The Shekhar Guptas of the netherworld are swooning over a mercenary Deepika Padukone. Bollywood, meanwhile, has come out of their ivory towers and are squatting on Mumbai’s grimy streets in their Gucchis and Armanis.

I can understand if you the readers are bewildered on what’s causing this outrage. Some days it’s police which is doing too much; On other days it’s police which is doing nothing. Some days students’ violence in campus (JNU) is being seen as India being overtaken by fascist forces: On other days, students in Bengal doing worse violence are being hailed for staking their lives to keep “democracy” and “secularism”alive. The swords on CAA, NPR and NRC have been sheathed for the moment. But be assured, it’s only the lull before the storm. It’s clear as crystal that anarchists, riding the two wheels of political lust and youths’ naivety, want to run over the Modi government.

In its’ nearly six years in power, the Modi government has done everything by the book (Constitution). Even on an issue as emotive as Ram Janmabhoomi. So far, the people it is in conflict with, was playing by the same rule. But now the matrix of the game has changed. Order is up against anarchy. We know the roadmap of Anarchists. How do you think Order should respond?

First, Order can’t abandon the governance it has been entrusted with by the majority of 1.3 billion people in this country. It can’t pass the CAA in the Parliament and then develop cold feet. Or abandon the NPR and NRC which is to distinguish between the real and fake citizens. It can’t be hostage to whim of a few.

What worse could happen? People would hit the streets, logjams, violence, bad press etc. (Police and para-military forces would do what they need to do).  Urban youth could be alienated. Communal divide could be stoked. But why not trust millions more who are unseen and unheard but support your move?

I suspect BJP has worked out its way forward. It won’t be frozen into inaction. Policies would be formulated, legislation made and implemented. Law and order issues would be handled by law and order agencies. Let the ideological battle be settled by the people of this country. A hands-off approach actually seems a very smart move.

Let’s look at political and propaganda mafia. Both clearly want to spew so much poison that people of this country turn against the ruling dispensation. So they could seize control of political levers of the nation. But both are living in fantasy. These political parties—let’s take Congress and Left for example—don’t constitute more than 4-5 dozen seats in the parliament. Newspapers such as Indian Express don’t count more than a lakh in readership. English readership is heavily outnumbered by Hindi and regional press. It might feel good to see yourself mentioned in Western press and US democrats boardrooms. But it doesn’t win you elections. It won’t win you elections. All you do is to get trapped in your own propaganda. If nothing then learn from Donald Trump and Boris Johnson who you had given up as dead and who won such an emphatic mandate from the nameless and faceless.

It’s these nameless and faceless who would make a choice. Not a perfumed elite. That’s why you see BJP is not worried. That’s why it would do what it has to do. Left-Liberals-Bollywood could sing and create its national anthem. They could hope on an organic students’ protest in a few campuses. But it’s a minuscule and doesn’t speak for the majority of youth. 

Most importantly, all this has brought the threat of break-India forces alive to the Hindus of the nation. It would keep Hindus on their toes—and united. By stepping back, Modi dispensation is actually asking the silent majority to be aware of the danger it faces. The majority now knows exactly whom it is up against. The majority always had the numbers. Now it is infused with a new will. It has come about because Modi, that political animal, has chosen to be silent.

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(It’s an open letter to Deepika Padukone. Hopefully she would read it and respond. If for nothing, then for commercial success of her upcoming movie).

" ["content"]=> string(6279) "

(It’s an open letter to Deepika Padukone. Hopefully she would read it and respond. If for nothing, then for commercial success of her upcoming movie).

Hi Deepika,

I looked at your twitter-line for the first time this morning. I wanted to know more about the woman whom everyone calls an actress but who walked into the “fire” of JNU last night. You took sides with Ms Aishe Ghosh, president of the JNUSU which is a Leftists’ hotbed. But that’s okay—each to his or her own.

I am told you are in Delhi for the promotion of your movie “Chhapaak” which is releasing in next 48 hours. It looks an inspirational movie on an acid-victim. Your critics claim your JNU visit was part of your promotion plan for the movie. That millions of dollars of marketing was saved by your 10-minute visit to JNU. Not many know though that you are not just an actress in the movie. You are also a co-producer along with Meghna Gulzar!!! Again, that’s okay –movie-making is an expensive, time-consuming business. You don’t put money in a venture to lose it.

One side of me hailed you as a brave woman standing up for what she believes in. The other side wanted to know if there was some truth in that your JNU appearance was all about movie promotion. Hence, I digged.

Twitter was the starting point. Of the dozens of tweets you have done since 2020 started, all of them were on your upcoming movie. Your profile picture is of the movie. You are tweeting your followers to book tickets for the movie, giving links on how to buy tickets, posing with the real-life victim, tagging everyone associated with the film, including Fox Star Studios.

But one name was missing: Prabhat Choudhary. It was a strange omission. After all he heads Spice PR which markets you since 2011.  Prabhat is important enough to be invited in your closed-door marriage from a select, curated list. Still foggy? It is Spice PR which took credit for Aamir Khan’s “intolerance” comment. Have you looked at their website: It claims “we spy on society.”

Spice PR it was which released the picture of your visit to JNU to media outlets. Most media outlets hid the source but the BBC inadvertently published the picture with Spice PR printed on it. Surely his team from Spice PR had accompanied you. It was a planned visit. Choreographed. It wasn’t your passionate belief in the cause of Ms Ghosh and her accomplices. Or in democracy, secularism, human rights humbug. You are no Joan of Arc.

Ms Ghosh and her accomplices? You object to the word? So let’s assume you don’t know the background. The JNU administration filed two complaints with the police against Ms Ghosh on January 3  and 4. Both were before the violence on January 5 which moved your conscience.

The first complaint states:

“On January 1, around 1 pm, a group of students using masks on their faces forcibly entered the office of the Center for Information System (CIS) and switched off power supply, evicted technical staff and made the servers dysfunctional. They obstructed and stopped public servants from doing their duties.”

The FIR also states that the students threatened, abused and chased staff out of the office and server room. “Students locked the room, squatted at the door and didn’t let staff enter the room.”

This complaint clearly names Ms Ghosh and her accomplices.

 The second complaint states:

“On January 3-4, CIS office was closed as registration process was halted due to lockdown…Ms Ghosh indulged in physical violence, pushed lady guards, verbally abused and threatened them with due consequences if they opened lock of CIS door. Few guards were beaten up.”

So Ms Ghosh victim? On the contrary you stood with vandalizers. With goons who beat up university staff from performing their duty. Caused revenue loss which is paid up by us taxpayers. You have no thought for the innocent neutral students who wanted admission or give tests of their semesters. You never reckoned that Pakistan military would hail you and cite your JNU visit to abuse your country for which your father shed his sweat and tears. The same Pakistan army which has waged four wars against your people, killed lakhs of Indian soldiers in these wars or in proxy terrorism in Kashmir. It never occurred to you that these nefarious forces made lakhs of your Kashmiri Hindu brothers and sisters to flee the Valley and suffer untold misery.

All this for ensuring you multiply your invested money and further you career.

If you really want to live down the shame of your conduct, do credit to your remarkable father who is an idol to millions in this country. If you don’t want him to suffer the abuse and shame of fathering a brainless daughter, I suggest you stand up and apologize to the nation. If for nothing then for commercial reason itself as your film would see a record surge and those boycotting would show up in double the numbers. There is no shame in acknowledging your slip up. There is no shame in saying: I’m sorry.

And if I may add, you could ask your fellow filmi colleagues to stop being juveniles. Look at the twitter handles of Javed Akhtar, Swara Bhaskar and Anurag Kashyap. The last one even went to the extent of putting the prime minister and home minister of your country as masked goons. If they were fascists, could Kashyap have got away with such rank abuse? Is the fatso brave enough to put a sketch of a historical figure as his profile picture? Dare him to do it: He would know what’s fascism. And you too would grow up in turn.

Please do reply and clear the air. Both on the role of Prabhat Choudhary and Spice PR on your JNU visit. And correct me in case you differ.

Yours’ etc

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How “tukde-tukde gang” would wish students of this country forget studies or a beckoning career and instead wield sticks and stones, make front page news and bring the Modi government to its knees.

" ["content"]=> string(3749) "

How “tukde-tukde gang” would wish students of this country forget studies or a beckoning career and instead wield sticks and stones, make front page news and bring the Modi government to its knees.

Most of it is going to a plan as students are front-page news and the ruling dispensation, to the dismay of the majority, seems paralyzed, giving the devils a free run.

The logical corollary of Western media blowing up the Lutyens Media’s narrative is also chugging along nicely. It would all come to a neat summation if the West decides to intervene by way of economic sanctions against India for “human rights” violations or on some silly pretext, even mull a military intervention.

Alas, West needs India so badly against China that they would hate to destabilize it like they did with/in countless countries, most recent being Venezuela, Bolivia and Hong Kong. If India goes, West is as good as out of Asia. West would have written its’ own death sentence.

Yet there is every reason for the “tukde-tukde gang” to be happy about the position they are in. All they need is to keep stoking the fire till winter thaws in Kashmir Valley, rocks are visible and Dal Lake is swimming. Once Kashmir hits the streets with its “peaceful” protests, Lutyens Media would have got the script it wants.

Things would succeed wildly for them if the sleeping giant majority comes out of its slumber and retaliates, meets stones with stones and sticks with sticks, and blood flows into classrooms. It won’t then be a problem to put Hindus against Muslims outside the campus on the streets. Heads would roll. Not for nothing we call these merchants of deaths as the “tukde-tukde gang.”

Alas, more dreams turn into nightmare than transform into reality. India is a land of 789 universities and around 30 million college-going students. One JNU, Jamia, Jadavpur or AMU isn’t enough. It’s alright that pathetic politicians would release their miserable lackeys who would burn up cars, buses and trains and send a few policemen into ICU. Or Lutyens Media would’ve orgasm better than even those who manage to get hold of 72 virgins. But materially it would change little on the ground. It would even get better: Modi could sit in his drawing room and not strain his vocal chords on a barren dusty field and yet BJP would’ve the numbers it wants.

But if you are BJP, you won’t be sitting idle. You know for sure that the “tukde-tukde gang” would now resort not on parliament, judiciary or the Constitution but on these devils of anarchy to engulf the nation in fire and keep them in relevance. Trust BJP to go on a relentless communication overdrive, 24x7, four seasons in a year—year after year. At some stage, they would identify and isolate the troublemakers and make them pay for their sins. Police, or even paramilitary force could be used to overcome the resistance of opposition-ruled states. Governance can’t bow down to anarchy. It must not. A handful can’t keep a nation of 1.3 billion to ransom.

It’s unfair to be fair to unfairs. BJP ought to have dismissed Mamata Banerjee or Pinaryi Vijayan governments long ago in Bengal and Kerala. It has encouraged the radical elements around the country. It should also have no hesitation in probing the fundings of Lutyens Media which is dubious to say the least. The firm fist needs to drop the velvet gloves. Though “tukde-tukde gang” is digging up its own grave, BJP must not let them have a quiet burial.

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I doubt there has been a more significant month in India’s independent history since The Partition.

" ["content"]=> string(4024) "

I doubt there has been a more significant month in India’s independent history since The Partition.

There have been famines, riots, four brutalizing wars dotting our landscape since 1947 but nothing as calamitous as the present month.

The land we call as India is being wrenched apart from the guts as it was during the Partition. The Muslim Factor is a theme as it was in 1947. Then too Muslims wanted “azaadi”. Now too Muslims want “azaadi.” On both occasions, Hindus’ rise was perceived as inimical to Muslim interests.

So, the problem is rise of Hindus. In 1947, it was perceived Hindus were far too many in numbers. Today, they are viewed as “bigot” under a “fascist” regime. As evidence, “lynchings” are held up as proof. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has provided further fodder to the cannon. That there were far more “lynchings” and “communal riots” under Congress-led UPA is conveniently forgotten. Or the fact that CAA too was set in motion by them.

A Muslim sympathizer would tell us that it’s not against Hindus but Modi’s BJP which is polarizing India and damaging it’s “secular” and “democratic” traditions. How it’s “democratic” to cling on to Sharia Laws? How it’s “secular” to drive out Kashmiri Hindus from the Valley? Who’s getting you more freebies and state benefits?

Modi is just an excuse. The real fear is the awakening of Hindus. The original people of the land who suffered for over a millennia under the Muslim invaders—from Muhammad bin Qasim to Ghazni to Ghori to Taimur to Nadar Shah to Babar to Aurangzeb to Ahmed Shah Abdali. Who had their temples broken, their universities burnt, their men sold as slaves, their women tossed around as playthings in harems. For whom the freedom came with vivisection of its lands in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

It’s a fear which Islamists share with other monotheist religion, Christianity. Both don’t want Hindus to know of their persecution at the hands of Islamist and Christian forces. Same is the fear of Left which can only survive if Hindus are unmindful of their heritage. Liberals of course are the face of colonialists who eye your land, labour and resources. They have populated school-texts, academia and media of this country in their singular mission to keep Hindus drugged in indifference.

Given its centuries of persecution, it’s natural that people of the land are suspicious if Muslims are happy with the abrogation of Article 370, “triple talaq bill” or judgment on Ram Mandir. Muslim leaders in any case are unhappy. Did they raise their voice when Bengali Hindus in lakhs were being killed and raped in East Pakistan in 1971? How did they react to plight to Kashmiri Hindus?

It’s the majority who rise in support of Modi. They are patriotic and nationalist; keen for India to be strong and wealthy. It’s difficult to feed them a false narrative for very long. More so if you are as discredited as the old political regimes or propagandists serving as media.

This month has again brought Hindu-Muslim fissures to the fore. This is an abiding divide which is impossible to bridge. Gandhi too had failed. What is good for the nation must be done without fear. Media could write what they want. They could have ears of Western press. So-called “secularists” could cry till the cows come home. Violence could happen. Streets may burn. But the government must do its governance without giving it a damn. Citizens must know their limits; as should do the government and judiciary should play the arbiter. It’s a simple, unclouded method. Anything else is mischief. And the nation of 1.3 billion people is a good bulwark against it.

 

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Never since the bloodbath of the Partition in 1947 which cost two million lives have Muslims and Hindus been so disenchanted with each other as of now and understanding its complexity could steer clear a resurgent India from becoming a prisoner of its past.

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Never since the bloodbath of the Partition in 1947 which cost two million lives have Muslims and Hindus been so disenchanted with each other as of now and understanding its complexity could steer clear a resurgent India from becoming a prisoner of its past.

Rioters have taken to streets, cost lives and burnt public property worth millions since the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed by the Parliament in the closing days of 2019. Despite Indian prime minister Narendra Modi putting all doubts to rest with a rousing speech to a mammoth crowd in the Capital, there has been no letting up on the angst on either side.

The Act in essence eases up the citizenship process for the persecuted religious minority, including Hindus, in three Islamic republics of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan but its opponents want Muslims covered too even though they are not in minority in these countries and there are other avenues for them to gain Indian citizenship.

First students of a few Muslim educational institutions and then the rioters have made violent headlines and now supporters of the Citizenship Act are filling up the streets, albeit peacefully, but there is little mistaking that Muslims and Hindus are standing on the two sides of the great divide.

“Bloodiest story of human history”

Hindus historically resent almost a millennium-long persecution (8th to 18th century) at the hands of Muslim invaders who forged empires and inflicted what historian Will Durant described as the “bloodiest story of human history.” The wounds festered further when India was amputated of its western and eastern parts on the call of Muslim leaders on religious grounds by the departing British in 1947. The newly-formed Pakistan since then has forced India into four wars and supplied terrorists to turn Kashmir into a killing field. That scores of riots between the two since independence has claimed more than 10,000 lives has only bloodied the nation’s fabric.

Hindus further simmer that the Congress party, which ruled most in independent India, has “appeased” Muslims with funds and doles, created a minority affairs ministry with a separate budget and yet championed “secularism” from the rooftop. Muslims have control on their religious and educational institutions but the same is denied to Hindus. Hindus fear that such “appeasement” could cause another break-up of India like it did at the independence.

Muslims, on their part, largely detest the rise of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which Hindus view as essentially one of its own.  The party is in its second term with full majority under a hugely popular prime minister Narendra Modi who arguably has done more for Indian Muslims than Congress. Yet a series of events, such as overturning of triple talaqs (instant divorce), abrogation of special rights to Jammu and Kashmir and the favourable judicial verdict for a temple for Hindus’ deity Lord Rama in Ayodhya, has made sizeable number of Muslims long-faced.

A doctored Liberal narrative

The Liberal discourse, which controls the narrative, has largely tried to whitewash India’s violent experience with Islam and tried to present a composite Hindu-Muslim history though the truth is the great tradition of India’s ascetics and saints never caught the fancy of Muslim hearts. Nor India’s rich philosophy mattered to Muslim invaders but for a handful of notable exceptions.

Indian and Muslim literatures have largely run a parallel course. Pre-Muslim Indian history or Hindu heroes find no mention in Muslim annals. Muslim rulers have largely been indifferent to India’s magnificent traditions of sculpture. Some synthesis in language and music, or architecture, has been spruced up as proof of harmony. But it’s a stretch of imagination. Oppressors have never been seen indigenous by natives anywhere in the world. For example, Thanksgiving Day carries completely different connotations for White Americans than it does for Red Indians. While one celebrates it as the day when Pilgrim Fathers stepped on to the American soil, the Red Indians view it as a day of mourning.

The present disquiet has reopened the old wounds. While it is true that Indian Muslims by and large are peaceful, as perhaps are their majority in the world, yet it only takes a few to cause upheavals around the globe and bring Islam’s violent historical past on to the centrestage. Muslims need a credible, constructive leadership, at least in India, which speaks up against entitlement, support moves which free up their women from hardliners, and backs the long-pending Constitutional demand of a Uniform Civil Code which could help get rid of a few regressive Sharia (Islamic) laws. Till a voice emerges from within for one people, one nation, the historical suspicion of two-nation theory, which gave birth to Pakistan, would remain fresh in the mind of Hindus.

Liberals ensure that anything that makes Muslims uncomfortable must be branded as “hate” or “Islamophobia.” This puts the reformation on back-burner. Till it’s encouraged, societies around the world would be convulsed into turmoil, be it in Europe or in India.

 

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Think of all the reasons you could in opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 and you would’ve all of your answers in these two pieces (here and here). If you still want to get your man, Amit Shah, then the latter’s words in the Rajya Sabha would make you seek penance for the sins of your mind.

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Think of all the reasons you could in opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 and you would’ve all of your answers in these two pieces (here and here). If you still want to get your man, Amit Shah, then the latter’s words in the Rajya Sabha would make you seek penance for the sins of your mind.

After you’ve done the hard work to cleanse yourself of your prejudice, try to make sense why stations are being burnt in Bengal; why Islamist Jihadists have given a call to put flame to Kerala and why chief ministers of at least five states—Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Punjab and Bengal—are defiant. And then ask yourself what kind of “secularism” and “democracy” these rogues have in mind without adhering to judiciary, parliament and the Constitution?

Now if you still try to bog me down in justifying your “anti-Muslim” slant of the Citizenship Act, I would still nudge you to the above references unless you could convince me that the Sun doesn’t always rises in the East.

There’s another clarity you must’ve before we proceed any further. Is this a popular “revolt” against the Citizenship Act or a “whipped” one? Assam is now seeing reason after being misguided on fear on its language and culture but everything else is “drama” and a dangerous one at that. Goons who are burning up the railway stations in Bengal aren’t doing it to save India’s “democracy”.

Let’s look at the two opposing sides—those in the pitched battle for and against the Citizenship Act. The five Chief Ministers are hell-bent they would slam the door shut on the Act. This is all bluster. There is no way they could block this Citizenship Act in their domains. Judiciary could come down heavily on them; Centre could dismiss them for trying to unravel the unitary structure of the nation; and people could make sure their political careers—and that of their parties—is buried deep on the floor of the oceans.

Let’s look closely at the affiliation of these five Chief Ministers. Three of them are run or controlled by the Congress—Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. The two others—Kerala and Bengal—are accused of treating Hindus as lesser citizens of their states, as critics would point out with the instances on Durga Visarjan and Sabrimala.  Maharashtra too might deny Citizenship Act as the strings of Uddhav Thackeray are pulled by Congress.

It is thus a “political”rage  and not one for secularism and democracy. Congress is fighting for its survival and so are Mamata Banerjee (Bengal) and Pinaryi Vijayan (Kerala) as the 2019 elections have shown. All these forces have ceded the political ground on Hindus to the BJP.  Their vote-bank of Muslims is all but lost: Triple Talaq, Ayodhya, Article 370 and Citizenship Act instantly come to mind. Shunned by Hindus and abandoned by Muslims, these forces are staring at political oblivion

So their best hope is anarchy. Judiciary exposes them at every given stage: Remember Rafale, Article 370 or Ayodhya as instances. People see them singing the same tune as arch enemies Pakistan. The ruling dispensation holds them up on corruption and convenient stands. The last throw of the dice appears to be their hope for agitations on streets, swelled by students of bastions of a select universities, and foreign intervention in the form of West and their stooge institutions, including the United Nations and a corrupt media. Lutyens Media in India is a drummer of such inimical forces against a strong India.  Why, the overseas wing of Congress has already given a call to hold demonstrations outside embassies around the world, against the Citizenship Act.

The biggest fear of these forces is political oblivion in case Indian Muslims pull the plug on them. The Muslim vote-bank no longer sees Congress and similar forces as dependable. It could lead to fundamentalist forces within Indian Muslims to assume leadership and dump Congress and their likes for good. It would amount to their political annihilation.  

The other side, favouring Citizenship Act, have logic and reason with them. It gives them an ironclad moral shield at least in the eyes of the majority in this country. In raising the charge of divisiveness, the Opposition is only strengthening BJP’s hands. It’s getting the majority in this country behind Modi and Shah and exposing themselves as inimical forces working against the interest of India. How would Hindus see a Shiv Sena or Sikhs would view Shiromani Akali Dal if the inclusion of their brothers and sisters from across the border is opposed by these parties?

“Abki baar, 400 paar” could after all come true in 2024 elections, given how a stupid Opposition is squandering the last penny of their political capital.

Post Script: I end the piece as I began it: By referring a piece to your attention. It would give you a bigger picture and firm up your spine in the defence of your country and its people.

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The present year is a significant one for Indian army, it being the 20th anniversary of Kargil War and the centenary of its role in World War I. India’s martyred are much ignored in history but not in a small dusty village which rejoices in the blood it sheds.

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The present year is a significant one for Indian army, it being the 20th anniversary of Kargil War and the centenary of its role in World War I. India’s martyred are much ignored in history but not in a small dusty village which rejoices in the blood it sheds.

Think of Antarctica to be in spirit with an Indian soldier who is stationed in winter in Kargil, gateway to Ladakh in India’s snow-capped range of northern mountains where temperatures are known to fall below 60 degrees Celsius at times.

Some 20,000 combat troops guard the 150-km stretch of the Line of Control (LoC), where mules transport food to ammunition to shelter boxes across the steep slopes, the lurking fear of crevasse or avalanche heightened by the biting cold and icy winds, an unending stretch of snow and ice which could cause frostbite, dismember your toes and do strange things to your mind. The niceties of bath or regular shave can wait.

Now contrast this with India’s western borders of Thar desert, some 77,000 square miles of arid region, which is a natural boundary between India and Pakistan. Temperatures regularly shoot up beyond 50 degree Celsius in summer here; the rolling sand dunes whipping up unspeakable dust storms in blistering heat. At India’s eastern wing you have swampy mudflats to guard against trouble from across the porous border of Bangladesh.

Given such terrains, it’s a wonder that some 14 million raise their hands for a job in the army, second most in the world, for a salary which stays $500 a month on an average for most part of their careers. Cynical would tell you that’s a mirror on millions unemployed in India. But there are no easy answers why villages of India send their sons to be a martyr for the country and wouldn’t substitute it for anything else in the world.

Village which boasts of its martyrs

Jhunjhunu is a district in Rajasthan, known for its world famous Shekhawati mural paintings but little advertised about a few of India’s richest who have emerged from its dusty plains. Yet the village boasts only about its martyrs and would hate to be known for anything else. They say you knock a door in this village and a story of martyrdom would emerge as a matter of routine.

There are families who have put their men in line of action for generations, their return in coffin draped in India’s flag being a matter of pride. Sons take vow on the pyre of fathers to meet a similar fate; villagers donate funds to feed the family of martyred; rich spend a fortune to have their statues installed at intersection of roads and elsewhere. Newly-weds seek blessings from these profiles in stone and granite as faithful would do to gods in temples.

Legacy is secured by naming schools and colleges; engineering and health centres in the name of those who’ve shed blood for the nation. Faithfuls have no chance in this quest though as the roll of honour gets bigger by the day: Hundreds have lost lives and gallantry medals abound. Some 50,000 presently represent this village in the army ranks; a similar number are past their regular services, some physically impaired, some fighting memory loss having survived the horrors of war.

Examples abound

Jhunjhunu is more famous but there are two other villages nearby, Churu and Sikar, all part of Shekawati region of Rajasthan state, which are a mirror-image in sacrifice. Elsewhere too fire burns bright to wear the army colours. Ambakuduchi is a village in Odisha which has vowed at least one member of a family must join the army; a village near Agra, once the seat of Mughal empire, has a similar goal; Madhavaram, a tiny village in southern state of Andhra Pradesh, has at least one army recruit from each of its household.

Such a fire to lose oneself for the country could have many a basis. It could be the respect and honour which is bestowed on an individual, a tribal instinct of a collective identity or a raging passion to keep the country safe. It’s not solely for an assured job for there are no fixed working hours or extra money accrued due to overtime.  

India is admired by the world for its Gandhi and his philosophy of non-violence which probably has dimmed the sheen of bravery of its armed men. India lost nearly a million men in two World Wars, their courage so exemplary that it moved Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck to assert that the British “couldn’t have come through both wars if they hadn’t had the Indian Army.”  There is still not enough literature on India’s those magnificent sons which is a pity in the centenary year of the culmination of the World War I (1914-1919).

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There were men, women and children, thousands of them, bursting through gates of the Bhopal railway platform, emitting a tornado of wails, the crushing pressure dropping them over each other on railway tracks, rising, grabbing and swinging on the doors of my parked train, lunging at the iron rods of my window with a ferocity which threw a startled me deep into my compartment, now swaying like a leaf under the impact.

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There were men, women and children, thousands of them, bursting through gates of the Bhopal railway platform, emitting a tornado of wails, the crushing pressure dropping them over each other on railway tracks, rising, grabbing and swinging on the doors of my parked train, lunging at the iron rods of my window with a ferocity which threw a startled me deep into my compartment, now swaying like a leaf under the impact.

I was 20, returning from Mumbai, what we once called Bombay, onwards to my ancestral town Lucknow and the train had met its scheduled stop-over in Bhopal, almost midway through the journey. It was early hours of December 3, 1984 and all I could put it to was some sort of riot unfolding, an eye-witness account I would share with my people back home next morning.

Decades of mornings have passed since then, anniversary after anniversary, deaths after deaths, yet history’s biggest industrial disaster, the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, is still unfolding after it consumed 20,000 lives due to poisoned air of that night which escaped a chemical plant in the heart of the city.  How do I look back when something new has happened all along in these 35 years?

Do I start with that terrible night when tonnes of cyanide-gas burst through the rusted tanks and broken pipes of a chemical plant in Bhopal, owned by then one of West’ poster-boy of a multinational, Union Carbide; the poison that smelled like boiled cabbage enveloping the cluster of slums which had sprang up around the factory in the need for a living. Thousands of poor and unprotected rushed out howling deep in the night, blinded in eyes, choked in throats, lungs which would burst within next few hours.

Do I stop and narrate how an enterprising local journalist had seen it coming three years in advance to the tragedy, his warnings unheeded by the politicians of a system which was new to industrial society and treated the gods of capitalism with reverence and awe. It swallowed the white lie of Union Carbide’s owners in the United States that the functioning of the Indian plant was completely the outlook of local functionaries and they couldn’t be held accountable. When its honcho arrived in India, he went to a plush guesthouse instead of gallows, his return to New York facilitated by a very own aircraft of Indian government. Warren Anderson, the man, was never served a warrant till he died at the age of 92 in 2014.

Do I ask my listeners or readers to worry if India’s environmental laws are weak or if judiciary dithers all too often, sitting on a judgment for decades before slapping the wrist of six local employees with a fine of $2000 and two-year imprisonment in 2010. Do I tell them to work out how the demand of $3.3 billion as compensation was scaled down to $470 million by the offenders and accepted without a murmur by the affected.

Do I draw their attention to Bhopal Gas Tragedy 2.0 unfolding every living minute since then as the poisonous chemical waste was dumped outside the factory which has contaminated soil and the groundwater, consumed by the poor on its periphery. That scores of deformed lives still use these killing fields as their playground. That no other state finds it politically expedient if the clean-up of the factory and its chemicals are shifted and buried on their turf. That the moneybags who are in possession of these abandoned plants now, another American multinationals Dow Chemicals, sees no reason to spare its dollars and clear the mess or pay up the affected. They, after all, came 17 years onwards the tragedy. Of the assets and liability they have negotiated with the former owners, they are only willing to play ball on assets.

Do I talk about how ruthless capitalism exploited weak nations, importing their technology even when safety legal nets were absent in a vulnerable society? How such a toxic presence was allowed a haven within a heavily populated neighbourhood? How a new nation keen to secure its place in the sun overlooked the cost it could entail on its defenceless?

The only reference I can make with certainty is from history books: Union Carbide played an important role with its chemicals in both the World Wars of the 20th century. After DDT was banned by the United States in 1973, Union Carbide began pushing a highly toxic pesticide, Sevin, for the global agriculture industry battling pests, weeds and viruses. They adopted the template of targeting young nations like India, without a thought to responsible supervision or spending towards its maintenance. India is now wiser by the experience but the Bhopal Gas Tragedy lives on, a trauma it still hasn’t come to grips with.

(This article by the author was published in rt.com).

 

 

 

 

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It is no small matter that the last king of the powerful Sikh empire of the 19th century is buried in a small nondescript village of 300 people in eastern England for 125 years now and voice is now being raised in the Indian parliament for it to be exhumed and his remains brought back to India.

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It is no small matter that the last king of the powerful Sikh empire of the 19th century is buried in a small nondescript village of 300 people in eastern England for 125 years now and voice is now being raised in the Indian parliament for it to be exhumed and his remains brought back to India.

It is also no small matter that the buried, Maharaja Duleep Singh, happened to be the son of magnificent one-eyed Maharaja Ranjit Singh who ruled over much of north and north-western India for 38 years, including Afghanistan and Kashmir, and had the ears of Napoleonic forces against the British expansion in India.

There is enough poignancy in the story of a young lad, enthroned as emperor at the age of five, falling to the machinations of British who pounced on his father’s death to usurp his empire, imprison his mother and ship him to England, converted as a Christian, and later denied his wish to return to his homeland as a reborn Sikh, Apparently, he died in penury in 1893 and buried in the premises of a small church of the Elveden village in West Suffolk district of England to this day.

It would appear strange too that neither the Sikhs, adherent to world’s fifth largest religion with 30 million numbers, nor their country of a billion-plus, has made a serious stake to reclaim a glorious symbol of their past even though a noise is often made to retrieve the magnificent Koh-i-Noor, arguably one of world’s most famous diamond, which once adorned his father Maharaja Ranjit Singh and is today part of British crown of jewels in England.

India was jewel in British crown for a reason. It lost precious stones (gold, silver diamonds etc), materials (sculptures, scrolls etc), resources (millions of men fighting their wars or out of famines) and lands (Pakistan and Bangladesh due to the Partition) in decades of rapine and plunder by the British colonialists.  Its’ economy, from a share of quarter of world’s GDP fell to three per cent during this horrific grab of their fortunes by the British.

But the grave of the last Sikh king is not the tomb of Pharaohs, like the one of Tutankhamun, which alone carried a wealth of a billion dollars, including a coffin of gold. Nor his remains could sink a Titanic which the doomsayers assert happened only because the gigantic ship carried an Egyptian Mummy among its cargoes.

The buried Maharaja is also no Christopher Columbus, exhumed multiple times around the world due to various claims on world’s most famous explorer, nor is he a revolutionary like Simon Bolivar whose remains was unearthed from Colombia and transferred to Venezuela in a fully-televised event to ascertain if the great revolutionary had been poisoned. He is also no Abraham Lincoln whose tomb was raided with the idea of holding the corpse to ransom by some horrid grave-diggers.

Neither the last Sikh king is some criminal like the exhumed assassins of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, nor akin to a former US president, Zachary Taylor who died in 1850 but his body was disinterred in 1991 to ascertain if he was a victim of arsenic poisoning. He is also no Eva Peron or Oliver Cromwell, two of history’s most recognized names, whose remains met a fate of mystery and macabre.

In making the demand on Mahraja Duleep Singh’s remains, the specific parliamentarian, a member of the opposition, hasn’t probably factored in a few testy details: Should the remains go to India or Pakistan for the throne of the Sikh empire ruled from Lahore; the difficulty of obtaining a licence for exhumation since it’s in a property of the powerful Church of England; wading into the elaborate procedures of Ministry of Justice in England which sits on decisions on non-consecrated grounds. The parliamentarian’s demand though wouldn’t be contested by the lineage of the last Sikh emperor, none of whom are alive today.

There is unlikely to be any serious follow-up on the demands on the Maharaja’s remains. It’s politically hazardous to release a rallying symbol for a community which for over a generation is being baited by the separatists to bolster their demands for a separate Sikh homeland. It’s also unlikely that the honourable parliamentarian of the opposition isn’t aware of the repercussions of his demands. But it would at least add heft to his party’s presence in Sikh-dominated Punjab and show the ruling dispensation of Delhi in poor light which probably is good enough for him.

Death touches all of us at some stage of our lives. In some cases, it does more than once.

(This is a reprint from rt.com)

 

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I share this with the readers of Indian Express and The Hindu to caution them about the highly biased coverage of these two newspapers who in popular perception are the front soldiers of Communist-Leftist ideology in this country.

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I share this with the readers of Indian Express and The Hindu to caution them about the highly biased coverage of these two newspapers who in popular perception are the front soldiers of Communist-Leftist ideology in this country.

In today’s editions of the two newspapers, there is little mention of “heated discussions” between Congress and Ajit Pawar which led the latter to storm out of the room and seek out BJP towards government formation in Maharashtra.

This was shared by Sharad Pawar in a television interview which has been widely reported in newspapers except in the above-two mentioned.  The interview also has Sharad Pawar griping that while Shiv Sena got the chief minister’s chair, the Congress secured the Speaker for themselves. “What have we got?” Pawar has bristled in frustration.  

Well, let’s try to fathom the reasons why Indian Express and The Hindu have chosen to bury the disclosures of NCP chief:

·         One, it would show that Congress is perennial spoilsport, arrogant and have an ingrained sense of entitlement (even though they have the least number of seats out of the four major contestants in Maharashtra);

·         Two, it would reveal that all is still not well within the fledgling alliance among the three opposites in Mahrashtra as Pawar has gone public in his displeasure with Congress;

·         Three, it could actually mean an overture by Pawar towards the BJP in the still fluid political rapids of Maharashtra

I would now ask the readers of the two newspapers to refer the front page lead story of Indian Express on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, with the headline: “PM told me let us work together but I refused: Pawar on Nov 20 meet.” The sub-headline of the story is: “Offer to make Supriya Sule minister at Centre, joint govt in state: NCP chief.”

Clearly the impression a reader would have from this front-page lead is that the prime minister Narendra Modi was “cutting a deal” with Pawar towards BJP forming a government in Maharashtra. Modi, it implied, not only wanted the support of NCP but had also offered a ministerial berth to his daughter. But as you read on, the dissonance of the text with the headline becomes apparent.

In the text, Pawar is quoted for Modi having asked him to work together for the country as they share common vision on a multiple issues. So Modi made didn’t make an offer for Maharashtra. But the headline would make a non-attentive reader believe that Modi was trying to cut a deal with NCP towards power in Maharashtra.  Secondly, while Pawar did say that a ministerial berth was offered to her daughter, he didn’t say that Modi had made this offer!

Thus, out and out, Indian Express was trying to show Modi in poor light on his November 20 meeting with Pawar ahead of the ugly drama in Maharashtra even though the facts were otherwise.

Now, Cut Two to today’s newspapers, 24 hours later.  Sharad Pawar is quoted to having told the NDTV that no such direct offer—either to Pawar himself or his daughter Sule was made by Modi. This has been prominently reported in Times of India. But Indian Express and The Hindu haven’t reported this disclosure made on a national TV network—even though a day earlier it was quoting a regional TV channel to make their point on November 20 meeting! The most Indian Express has done is to quote Pawar that his nephew, Ajit Pawar, was unhappy over the pace of discussion with the Congress. No mention that Ajit Pawar had walked out of the meeting with Congress over “heated discussions.”

So readers, go on and keep reading The Indian Express and The Hindu if you share their bias against the BJP, and by extension, against the Hindutva point of view. But then be prepared to get doctored news as they have done in the present instance.  

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To the images of the charred remains of a young woman, raped and murdered, countless Indians woke up this morning with a sense of having failed their nation, and no less their popular prime minister Narendra Modi.

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To the images of the charred remains of a young woman, raped and murdered, countless Indians woke up this morning with a sense of having failed their nation, and no less their popular prime minister Narendra Modi.

 

Dr Priyanka Reddy was out on her work as a vet in the outskirts of Hyderabad when her motorbike went bust and she fell prey to evil eyes of men around her with no route of escape left for her modesty and life. All of India’s gains on women in recent years, personally for me, were put to flames.

 

Four years ago, Modi had launched a scheme for girls, appropriately in northern state of Haryana which suffers from a skewed gender ratio and where women must largely look after home and hearth and little else.  “The prime minister of this country has come to you like a beggar, begging for the lives of our daughters,” Modi had implored.

 

India and its wonder women

 

Flip through the newspages of last six years and you would have countless tales of Indian women world champions, two of them—Saina Nehwal and Sania Mirza—from the very city of Hyderabad which today hangs its head in shame. You would find women who scaled Mt. Everest on one leg; the youngest ever to swim to record in icy Antarctic waters; grandmasters in chess; squash unbeatables;  reigning amateur world boxing champion for six years; authors who are internationally acclaimed; women scientists who are today the backbone of India’s space research programme, the envy of the world.

 

The same pages have stories of horrendous rapes and experts pontificating on lesser numbers, lesser jobs, lesser education, less convictions, open defecation, female feticide etc as reasons for such violations.  You have television debates, possibly a candlelight marches with sombre faces on Capital’s brightest thoroughfares, with the best expressions saved for news cameras which, given the luck, could place you in morning’s edition.  None of them seek or reflect to a basic question which Modi asks his citizens: “How could you possibly ask for an educated daughter-in-law when you snatch books from the hands of your own young daughters?”

 

Best examples of such a belief are apparently lost on a society where women are not only seen as an object of sex but also one for power and dominance.  Modi’s cabinet has six women ministers, women as capable as Ms Nirmala Sitharaman who could be a defence minister one day and a finance minister the next. The present Indian parliament has 78 women MPs, the highest-ever since independence.  An inspirational movie crafted on Indian women wrestlers had the world swooning, like in China where it logged US $191 million on box office. Yet tales of savagery and barbarism against the fairer sex abound in India.

 

The evidence is out there, every living minute of your daily existence. You ride a bus and see women being groped with abandon, wolf whistles accompanying your daughter long after they have turned the corner, lewd remarks in cafes etc. The sanctity to such obnoxious behaviour could come from men in the highest echelon of the society: Like a former Defence Minister who cautioned young girls against revealing dresses for “boys, after all are boys.”

 

A tale of two Indias living side by side

 

Today, there are two Indias living side by side. One has the horrid face of centuries where women are mere extension of a man’s needs, managing kids and kitchen only, and dare they think about selves. Other India has women reaching out to the skies, as strong in mind and body as men, egged by their progressive families and lauded in the neighbourhood.

 

Then there are some like me who fall in between. Father of two educated but unmarried daughters, I once damned my luck with the words: “Man, I feel raped.” My two lovelies gave me a look I would never forget. They felt belittled and humiliated—and made sure I did too.

 

An average Indian family has always preferred baby-boys to girls. For a long time, policy-makers ignored this mindset. Such an India needs an open debate, a sustained dialogue so as the two Indias could live in harmony and safely. Skewed gender ratio leaves the society with more men and fewer women, a recipe for violence and domestic instability. 

 

India could probably learn from China which culturally has a similar preference for baby-boys yet the other extreme is rare. Punishment is a suitable deterrent. India perhaps needs to look at its laws and the speed at which justice is arrived at for the offenders.  

 

(This is a reprint from rt.com).

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How difficult it is to visualize that tens of thousands of Mumbaikars are staying put in front of Matoshree and asking its most famous resident, Uddhav Thackeray, how would he find peace with Gandhi’s Congress which detests one of their “patriots” to the bone?

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How difficult it is to visualize that tens of thousands of Mumbaikars are staying put in front of Matoshree and asking its most famous resident, Uddhav Thackeray, how would he find peace with Gandhi’s Congress which detests one of their “patriots” to the bone?

Or to imagine that Delhites are converging on the gates of 12 Tughlaq Lane and demanding from Rahul Gandhi why their alliance with Shiv Sena would not be akin to murdering Mahatma Gandhi again, the surname they have reaped for decades of power and legitimacy?

Gandhis bolt at the name of “Nathuram Godse”, like they did twice to BJP MP Pragya Thakur in recent months, and treat it as a trump card in shaping their election fortunes, shouting from every platform or parapet, the quintessential good in the fight against the evil, the chosen heir to Mahatma’s message of “ahimsa” and “peace”.

You could trust Uddhav Thackeray would use the backdoors of Matoshree and Rahul Gandhi would disappear to Bangkok on being shown the past news clippings where Shiv Sena hailed Godse as a patriot who couldn’t reconcile himself to the Partition and the subsequent killing of thousands of Hindus.

Sample these words from Saamna, the mouthpiece of Shiv Sena, as reported by Business Standard on January 30, 2013, the very day when the nation mourns the death anniversary of the “father of nation”:

“Pandit Nathuram Godse had not come from Italy (like Sonia Gandhi did? My inference), instead was a staunch patriot. His blood was boiling over Hindustan being divided and the killing of lakhs of Hindus during the Partition.” This Saamna editorial even defended Godse being mentioned in the souvenir of a Marathi literary meet.

It wasn’t a one-off incident or a case of Shiv Sena being misquoted. The DNA reported another editorial in Saamna, three years earlier, when the Shiv Sena mouthpiece went lyrical over Godse: “He always stood for united India. Is it anti-national to harbour such feelings? He was a real patriot.”

Is it imagination running riot if the voters were to think that next to be toppled from their pedestal would be two idols of Shiv Sena whom they swear by in every minute of their existence: Veer Savarkar and Maharaja Chattrapati Shivaji? After all Congress, at least in the case of Savarkar, has never hidden their abhorrence for the founder of Hindutva ideology.

Now that the unholy alliance between the two parties, along with NCP, has taken shape in Maharashtra, trampling democracy and choice of millions of voters, Shiv Sena has agreed to “common minimum programme” and adherence to “secularism.” Shouldn’t the voters descend on Matoshree with an Indian Express newspaper clipping of 2015 when Shiv Sena insisted on removal of word “secular” from Indian constitution? Shouldn’t Sanjay Raut be shown his words that “secular” and “socialist” need be deleted permanently (from the Constitution)?

Such is the chicanery of charlatans. Their foot soldiers Lutyens Media would never rake up these instances and confront the two parties. The interest of voters is the last thing on their mind. No thought would be spared for millions who gave a majority to the BJP-Shiv Sena pre-poll alliance. No logical query would be put forward: If BJP had agreed to sharing the CM with Shiv Sena, why the latter hadn’t reacted when BJP was crying hoarse that Devendra Fadnavis would be the Chief Minister and when such posters were being put up on every wall weeks in advance?

But expecting Lutyens Media to be honest is hoping wolves would give up carcass.  That’s why it’s up to us citizens to confront Thackerays and Gandhis every living minute of this alliance and seek if their ideology has been nothing but a key to power, what if it robs the voters of their mandate.

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India is battling a crisis of onions, which its’ billion-plus citizens can’t do without, threatening a political fallout too grave in nature, and which must rank as one of history’s very poor jokes.

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India is battling a crisis of onions, which its’ billion-plus citizens can’t do without, threatening a political fallout too grave in nature, and which must rank as one of history’s very poor jokes.

History pulls some poor jokes and I am afraid onion is one of them though it’s unlikely millions of my agitated fellow Indians would view the matter as funny.

Onion prices have hit the roof in India, a kilogram costing one-third of an average Indian’s daily income of $4 dollars, forcing a worried government to seek tranches of supply from Egypt of all places lest the people’s anger extracts a political cost too grave in nature.

There’s a precedent for such grave forebodings too as governments once fell on rising onion costs in Delhi and Rajasthan and Indira Gandhi once channelized such anger to ride to power in 1980 even though the excesses of Emergency were still fresh in people’s mind.

Onion to Indians is what air is to human life, invisible yet impossible to do without, a bulb of a food which launches a thousand curries, an essential even if an inconspicuous item on your food plate, peeling of which is always a teary proposition and consumption of which is strictly no-no if the next thing you are doing is to kiss your lover. You see, what is pungent for your food is odour between two mouths!

Onions were once despised by Indians

Yet history tells us that onion was one of the forbidden foods for ancient Indians who were seeking an austere life. Holy scriptures despised it as aphrodisiac, unsuitable in quest of spiritual life.  One of history’s most famous travellers, Hieun Tsang of China, observed in the seventh century that very few locals used onions for fear of being expelled beyond the walls of the town.

Muslim invaders then came in hordes but always returned after loots, unlike the Mughals who dominated the next millennium and barely ate anything without the onions. Their cuisine of rich meat dishes and biryani (flavoured rice), virtually embedded with this layered bulb, sometimes raw, mostly burned brown and mixed, let a strong aroma to the royal kitchenette and their dining halls. The smell soon blew down to the masses beyond the royal walls and before long, onion occupied the pride of place which it retains to this day for an average Indian’s food buds.

The irony won’t be lost to a history student as he observes a renaissance of ancient India and its true ethos of our times which laments the loss of its virility due to a thousand years of servility at the hands of the Muslim invaders and British colonialists and yet is unmindful that one of Indians’ staple food, the unputdownable onions, is actually a gift of the Mughals. That’s what you call out history for one of its poor jokes.

As onion grew in importance, so did its crop for farmers to the extent that India today is the second biggest producer and exporter of onions in the world and earns $360 million each year from its surplus. Once in a while, the monsoon is delayed or rains are active till the onset of winters and this double whammy makes onions scarce and dearer. That’s when fumes of anger hit the power corridors of government and occasionally envelopes it too. This year is a classic case study of such a frightful scenario.

Plans and the battle ahead

India hopes to come to grips with it in a matter of a month or two for there is always an abundance of onions between January and May which allows the excess to be stored and used till August before the fresh crop in winter keeps Indian kitchens running for the rest of the year. It’s this winter crop, called Rabi crop in India, which has suffered the vagaries of weather this year.

Indian government is countering the crisis by banning exports and calling for imports from diverse nations such as Egypt, UAE and Turkey to meet the shortfall. Times were when India turned to Pakistan in such crisis as it was in 2010 but now the ties between the two neighbours is in deep freeze and India even needs permission to use air space of its arch-rivals. There are also measures to subsidize such imports for Indian consumers as well as a policy to ensure Indian farmers don’t get shortchanged in price only because the weather has played truant.

Such assurance though are difficult to extend to its Middle and Far East clients as well as to  neighbours like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka who are used to special brown Indian onions and find the alternative, say the white ones from Egypt, too bland in taste.  Yet Egypt is now shipping its onions to Sri Lanka which it had done never before. Even the Netherlands is importing onions to Sri Lanka though the transportation lag is no less than six weeks. Onion cost has skyrocketed for India’s traditional export clients and there is fear that India might have yielded too much ground to exporting rivals such as Pakistan, China and Egypt.

(This is a reprint from rt.com).

 

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Many view India’s ballooning population, set to overtake China by the next decade, as a time-bomb ticking but a solution is now at hand which nevertheless took four long decades in coming and was hidden in plain sight. 

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Many view India’s ballooning population, set to overtake China by the next decade, as a time-bomb ticking but a solution is now at hand which nevertheless took four long decades in coming and was hidden in plain sight. 

India had only 54 millions on its population chart in 1979 when a slight professor in his 40s, Dr. Sujoy Kumar Guha, published his first scientific paper on Risug, a drug molecule he had developed as a reversible contraceptive for men. He pleaded for clinical trials. But the “Dr” in front of his name was not a medical degree; it was courtesy his PhD studies in an American university. No go, said India’s apex medical body, ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research).

Guha chose to climb this door which was slammed shut on him by opting for his medical entrance test and becoming a qualified medical doctor. ICMR relented and the clinical trials began but more than a decade had passed and Guha was now in his 50s, an age when most men tend to get flaccid in mind.

Phase I of clinical trials progressed from rats, rabbits, monkeys to humans and were proved spectacularly successful in 1993. But then ICMR brought it to a half after someone complained that the substances of Risug are known to cause cancer. Guha argued individual substances turn harmless as compounds, just as chlorine, which could melt human flesh, becomes basic salt of everyday use when mixed with sodium. ICMR wasn’t convinced.

Dr Guha knocked the doors of Supreme Court; the Phase II was set in motion after a few years and by 2002 Dr Guha’s dreams were close to being realized before another spanner was thrown in the works. Now it was the changed international norms for clinical trials. It took Indian medical authorities another five years to put the required norms in place.

The envy which took its toll

Unsurprisingly, Guha evoked interest and envy in equal measure around the world.  The world began sniffing on his wonder drug and not always with a sense of appreciation. The National Institute of Health in the US raised questions and caused delays. Dr Guha believes to this day it was meant to promote a pill-in-the-making which, unlike his one-time injectable hormone-based drug, promised continual demand and endless profit.

Now after another dozen years, nearly 40 years all put together, Dr Guha’s dream is close to being realized. The extended tests on Risug have shown no side-effects. The Indian medical authorities are hopeful of introducing his reversible contraceptive in market in next 6-7 months.  It would be the first injectable male contraceptive in the world. Its’ competitor, the pill, is nowhere in sight.

Indian men prefer to use condoms than an invasive vasectomy surgery to sterilize their reproductive organ.  But Dr Guha’s invention is external, non-invasive and cheap and could prompt millions to opt for it, given its’ reversible with just two counter injections put in place. There is no barriers to physical intimacy like condoms.

Youth and the shackles of population

There’s a great imbalance in India’s population trajectory with southern states meeting the global trends of less than two children per household. In contrast the northern states, which contain 40 per cent of India’s population, tend to have nearly four children per household. Education, economic dependence of women, rural-urban divide all play a role in India’s population which is bursting at the seams and poses a great strain on India’s diminishing resources such as water and energy.  India has more than 600 million young people and needs 12 million jobs for them each year. Population is an issue which could no longer be put off to tomorrow.

In times gone by, around the time when Dr Guha had worked out his invention, Sanjay Gandhi, son of India’s then reigning prime minister Indira Gandhi, went for a compulsory sterilization programme to halt the population boom in 1976. Over 6 million men were sterilized in just a year. Nearly 2,000 men died because of botched operations. In the ensuing elections, India voted the Gandhis out of power. Nobody in authority has dared to do anything as dramatic as this since those dark days.

Dr Guha, nearing 80 and still sprightly, could finally give India solution to a problem which has seriously shackled the nation’s future. He wouldn’t meet the tragic fate of Dr Subhas Mukherjee who was the real architect of “test-tube baby” but lost the rights of invention to Louise Brown only because his work hadn’t appeared in any international journal. In 1981, Dr Mukherjee was found hanging in his Kolkata apartment. 

(This piece is a reprint from rt.com).

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If there is one country besides Pakistan which draws hiss and roar from India, it is Turkey and a series of unprecedented measures by New Delhi in recent times lends credence to such a startling impression.

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If there is one country besides Pakistan which draws hiss and roar from India, it is Turkey and a series of unprecedented measures by New Delhi in recent times lends credence to such a startling impression.

Not only India has put off a scheduled visit of its prime minister Narendra Modi, it has also shelved a mouth-watering Indian navy contract with a Turkish company. It has issued an advisory to Indian tourists to exercise “utmost caution” while touring Turkey and it mouthed fire when Istanbul put boots in northern Syria last month.

What’s wrong between the two countries which historically stood by each other in the past? It was Turkey which gave refuge to Indian clerics when colonialists Britain cracked down on India’s war of independence in 1857. A half century on, Mahatma Gandhi took up the Khilafat movement on behalf of the Ottoman Empire as it was being cut to pieces by the British in 1919. Turkey was one of the first nations to recognize India on its independence in 1947. Indeed, there are over 9,000 words which are common in the language of the two countries.

Fast forward to present times: Turkey was one of those rare nations who used the United Nations platform to internationalize the Kashmir issue this year. India hit back by snuggling up to leaders of Armenia, Cyprus and Greece which have long-standing border disputes with Turkey. The bilateral trade, which grew by one-third between 2016-2018, is reeling as the two bare teeth at each other. The chill befuddles the innocent for Turkey is a geographical marvel, straddling East and West and India is an economic candy which has the world lining up on its door. Both have ample reasons to find each other attractive.

The timeline of discord

The timeline of discord would show that it all began at the beginning of the Cold War when Turkey and Pakistan joined the Baghdad Pact, or CENTO (Central Treaty Organization), initiated by the United States and India assumed the leadership of newly-freed Colonial outposts, the Non-Aligned group, under the benign protection of Soviet Union. The wheels came off in due course with Turkey standing firmly behind Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir and thwarting India’s bid for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for a long time.

It would appear Turkey has given India a clutch of reasons to worry about, as a wounded deer would about encircling wolves. It all stems from president Recep Tayyip Erdogan endlessly gazing in the mirror and watching the heir of Ottomon Empire, the saviour of Muslim civilization, peer back at him. It makes him take up the causes from Palestine to Kashmir to Xinjiang, build mosques from Asia to Africa to Latin America and spend a fortune in restoring Ottoman heritage around the world.

India, hosting 200 million Muslims in its bosom - the third largest such concentration in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan - and is a natural target. Turkey thus takes up the Kashmir cause with gusto, openly siding with Jamaat-e-Islami, a Pakistan-based Islamic fundamentalist party, which has notorious Hizbul Mujahideen as its militant wing that causes unending cycle of violence and terror in Kashmir Valley.  No wonder Turkey is a cause célèbre among Kashmiri separatists such as Hurriyat and Erdogan’s victory in presidential elections last year led to huge celebrations in Kashmir.

Turkey plays host to extremist Indian Muslim preachers such as Zakir Naik who delivered a speech to an Islamist group, run by Erdogan’s son Bilal, in 2017. Naik had fled to Malaysia after his name cropped up after a ghastly terrorist attack in a Dhaka cafe in 2016 which left 29 dead. Modi has made a personal request to Malaysia for Naik’s extradition to India.

Turkey further runs the South Asia Strategic Research Centre (GASAM) with an aim to export Erdogan’s Islamist ideology to his audience of millions of Muslims in Pakistan and India. Erdogan thinks he has a headstart over arch-enemy Saudi Arabia on Indian Muslims: One, both Indian and Turkish Muslims are not Arabs; Two, both follow the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam which is different from Wahhabism, the forte of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia and Muslim leadership

Turkey doesn’t need much to woo Pakistan. It already has Pakistan eating out of its hand as it saves the latter from international sanctions such as FATF (Financial Action Task Force), gives a global platform for its Kashmir pitch and firms up its economy. That Pakistan is also the only Islamist country which is a nuclear power helps. Pakistan further pays its dues by siding with Turkey as the latter looks to take over leadership mantle from Saudi Arabia in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Turkey and Saudi Arabia of course are sworn rivals. It’s a rivalry steeped in history. It were the Ottoman Turks who engineered the fall of first Wahhabi empire in the 19th century. Ottomon Empire itself was dismantled, 100 years later. The Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, on his part, referred to Turkey as a triangle of evil, along with Iran and Islamic extremists. That Saudi Arabia is now a trusted and productive ally of India hasn’t served to dilute Turkey’s antagonism.

Thus India and Turkey have a long bridge to mend but both are kept apart by the rapids of toxicity which runs between them. Both have reasons to erect fences but not one motive to share the couch over a hot cup of coffee.

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Who’s afraid of Western media? Certainly not Modi’s India. The telltale signs of recent times convey a stunning departure from India of old when every censure from a New York Times or British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) sent a chill down the government corridors of New Delhi.

 

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Who’s afraid of Western media? Certainly not Modi’s India. The telltale signs of recent times convey a stunning departure from India of old when every censure from a New York Times or British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) sent a chill down the government corridors of New Delhi.

 

Now an extremely well-networked Western journalist Aatish Taseer, who writes for Time, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, has his OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card revoked by New Delhi for concealing his parentage and despite a personal written appeal by 260 celebrated men of letters, including Salman Rushdie, to the Indian prime minister, it hasn’t elicited a word in response from Narendra Modi.

 

It’s nearing four months since the political heavyweights of Jammu and Kashmir were put under house arrest by the Modi government after it abrogated the “special status” of state of Jammu and Kashmir and broke it into three separate territories. Despite the din and orchestrated campaign in Western media, the Modi government hasn’t bothered to put a timeline on their release.

 

In the altered reality of our times, the gravity of the world has shifted to Asia where India along with China, and Russia, have popular leaders in control of the destiny of their countries. Nationalism is at the heart of their policy which by its very definition runs counter to the liberal narrative of the Western media.

 

Western media isn’t just about the United States or the United Kingdom—it by and large represents most West European countries and comes in a language-bouquet of English, French, German, Spanish, Italian etc. Western media is the foot soldiers of West in winning the public perception in latter’s favour. It has a veneer of independence but actually is an extension of the liberal establishment which acquired hegemony after World War II.  West detests any assertion of sovereignty and nationalism and so does its media. Brexit is a case in point.

 

The evidence too is hard to ignore. The Economist openly urged Indian voters to vote for Congress and not Modi’s BJP in both 2014 and 2019 elections. Yet voters overwhelmingly voted for BJP. The Guardian bemoaned Modi’s win as “India’s soul lost to a dark politics.” The New York Times found India to be suffering from Modi’s “raw wisdom.”  Washington Post believed Modi won because “India had no credible alternative.” All through, the Western media narrative has been the demonization of Modi, on the “divisive” politics of beef and “lynchings” of Muslims. Yet it made little dent to Modi’s popularity.

 

Modi’s India thus sees no benefit in trying to cultivate a network which is fundamentally in conflict with their sovereignty. It relies on its strong domestic base which won them a second successive term with full majority this summer. As an economy which could be third largest in coming years, it knows it’s attractive to the world’s largest corporations and business. It received its largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) ever this financial year. India now ranks very high in the Ease of Doing Business rankings too. It’s also aware that millions of Hindus, quite a few well-heeled and a force in Western capitals of New York and London, are quick to pick up the cudgels against orchestrated campaigns.

 

India appears to have hedged its bets well. The two strongest cards West and its’ media plays are “human rights” and “democracy.” West uses these two weapons to wreak havoc in countries as diverse as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan are from Bolivia, Chile and Cuba. Sometimes there are direct military interventions overriding international laws; on other occasions, there are suffocating economic sanctions; at other times it's stage-managed internal eruptions as have been witnessed in Ukraine, the Middle East and now Hong Kong.

 

India bets against such a scenario because it’s not only economically attractive to the West but also  Donald Trump’s United States hopes to ride on its shoulders for its’ Act Asia policy.  Internal eruptions are a powerful tool which the United States has perfected over the years. But India is assured it won’t happen to them in the near future, at least till the 2020 US presidential elections are over, a year from now. Without an active US intervention, New Delhi’s streets won’t be filled with demonstrators as it’s happening in Hong Kong or Bolivia. Modi knows well within he could ignore the barking dogs. 

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(A brilliant piece in Moon of Alabama is reproduced here with gratitude as it holds lessons for India’s democracy and gives the readers an insight why the EVM controversy is raked in every elections since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power first in 2014.  It also is a “White Paper” for Modi government to shore up its defence against the elites – read pseudo-seculars—even though it has a neutral army).

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(A brilliant piece in Moon of Alabama is reproduced here with gratitude as it holds lessons for India’s democracy and gives the readers an insight why the EVM controversy is raked in every elections since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power first in 2014.  It also is a “White Paper” for Modi government to shore up its defence against the elites – read pseudo-seculars—even though it has a neutral army).

 

The coup in Bolivia is devastating for the majority of the people in that country. Are their lessons to be learnt from it?

 

Andrea Lobo writes at WSWS:

 

Bolivian president Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party was forced to resign Sunday evening by the Bolivian military in a coup backed by the United States. Last night, Morales tweeted that he is “leaving for Mexico” after that country agreed to grant him asylum.

 

After three weeks of protests following the disputed October 20 presidential elections, the imperialist powers and their Bolivian client elite have overthrown the government of Morales. In the context of a deepening crisis of global capitalism and a resurgence of the class struggle internationally, including recent mass strikes among miners and doctors in Bolivia, the ruling class lost confidence that Morales and the MAS apparatus can continue to suppress social opposition.

 

During his twelve years in office Evo Morales achieved quite a lot of good things:

 

Illiteracy rates:
2006 13.0%, 2018 2.4%

 

Unemployment rates
2006 9.2%, 2018 4.1%

 

Moderate poverty rates
2006 60.6%, 2018 34.6%

 

Extreme poverty rates
2006 38.2%, 2018 15.2%

 

But Morales failed to build the defenses that are necessary to make such changes permanent. The leadership of the military and police stood against him. Why were these men in such positions?

 

The Agregados Policiales de América Latina (APALA) is supposed to fight international organized crime in Latin America. It is curiously hosted in Washington DC.

 

These police and military men cooperated with a racist Christian-fascist multi-millionaire to bring Morales down.

 

Morales had clearly won a fourth term in the the October 20 elections. The vote count was confusing because it followed the process defined by the Organization of American States:

 

The [Tribunal Supremo Electoral, or TSE] has two vote-counting systems. The first is a quick count known as the Transmisión de Resultados Electorales Preliminares (TREP, hereafter referred to as the quick count). This is a system that Bolivia and several other Latin American countries have implemented following OAS recommendations. It was implemented for the 2019 election by a private company in conjunction with the Servicio de Registro Cívico (SERECÍ), the civil registry service, and is designed to deliver a swift —but incomplete and not definitive- result on the night of the elections to give the media an indication of the voting tendency and to inform the public.

 

The early and incomplete numbers let it seem that Morales had not won the 10% lead he needed to avert a second round of voting. The rural districts in which Morales has high support are usually late to report results and were not included. The complete results showed that Morales had won more than the 10% lead he needed to avoid a runoff.

 

To allege false election results to instigate color revolutions or coups is a typical instrument of U.S. interference. In 2009 Mahmoud Ahmedinejad won his second term in the Iranian presidential elections. The U.S-supported oppositions raised a ruckus even as the results fit perfectly with previous polling.

 

The OAS which recommended the quick count scheme that allows for such manipulations receives 60% of its budget from Washington DC.

 

Western media do not call the coup in Bolivia a coup because it was what the U.S. wanted to happen:

 

Army generals appearing on television to demand the resignation and arrest of an elected civilian head of state seems like a textbook example of a coup. And yet that is certainly not how corporate media are presenting the weekend’s events in Bolivia.

 

No establishment outlet framed the action as a coup; instead, President Evo Morales “resigned” (ABC News, 11/10/19), amid widespread “protests” (CBS News, 11/10/19) from an “infuriated population” (New York Times, 11/10/19) angry at the “election fraud” (Fox News, 11/10/19) of the “full-blown dictatorship” (Miami Herald, 11/9/19). When the word “coup” is used at all, it comes only as an accusation from Morales or another official from his government, which corporate media have been demonizing since his election in 2006 (FAIR.org, 5/6/09, 8/1/12, 4/11/19).

 

The poor and indigenous people who supported Morales will have little chance against the far right para-militaries and police who now go from door to door to round up leftists and Morales supporters.

 

Evo Morales found asylum in Mexico. Bolivia will now turn into a neoliberal hell and a quasi-dictatorship. It will take time, a lot of effort and probably a civil war to regain what was lost through this coup.

 

What can one learn from this?

 

As one person remarked to me: "When one wants to win and keep a socialist revolution one has to bring guillotines."

 

Socialist movements who come into power must neutralize their biggest local enemies. They need to build their own defenses. They cannot rely on those institutions, like the military and police, they inherit from previous regimes.

 

Such movements must never rely on U.S. affiliated organizations like the OAS or on military and police personal that had come under U.S. indoctrination. 

 

A movement needs a public voice. It must build its own media locally and internationally.

 

Hugo Chavez knew this all this. As soon as he won the presidential election in Venezuela he built the necessary forces to defend the state. It is the only reason why his successor Nicolás Maduro defeated the coup attempt against him and is still in power.

 

Evo Morales unfortunately failed to follow that path.

 

 

 

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Udo Ulfkotte’s amazing book, Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists) was published by Kopp Verlag in 2014. The book was a sensation and sold 1,500,000 copies in Germany, but no major US publisher would bring out an English translation. Finally, last month a small publisher, Progressive Press, published an English language edition titled Presstitutes Embedded in the Pay of the CIA.

" ["content"]=> string(5715) "

Udo Ulfkotte’s amazing book, Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists) was published by Kopp Verlag in 2014. The book was a sensation and sold 1,500,000 copies in Germany, but no major US publisher would bring out an English translation. Finally, last month a small publisher, Progressive Press, published an English language edition titled Presstitutes Embedded in the Pay of the CIA.

Ulfkotte’s book destroys the illusion/delusion that there is anywhere in the Western world an independent press. Ulfkotte describes in detail the cognitive appropriation of journalists by elites. Journalists serve as propagandists and public relations agents for intelligence agencies, businesses, lobbying organizations, politicians, and US foreign policy. The function of journalism is to deliver to the people the explanations that serve the interests of elites and Washington’s foreign policy. This message was so effectively delivered to the German people that readership of the main German newspapers collapsed.

Ulfkotte describes how journalists are recruited when they are still students and find themselves indebted to and dependent on serving other interests than the truth. All from the lowest reporter to the highest editor to the owners of the news organization are caught up in enabling the elites to control the explanations. Ulfkotte names and lists the organizations that bring journalists together with intelligence services and related think tanks, politicians, and foreign policy associations. Incestuous relationships between journalists, intelligence agencies, businesses, politicians, and US foreign policy aims are so pervasive that no one thinks anything of it. The only ones who get in trouble are those who don’t go along.

Ulfkotte’s book is written for Germans. Americans might find the German detail boring, but in the detail is the picture of how the subtle process of turning journalists into functionaries of intelligence services, politicians, and businesses is accomplished. The book starts off slowly. Ulfkotte knows that he would face readers’ disbelief if he jumped right into the horror story. So he begins with the perks and rewards of accommodating “sources” and censoring real news, such as the use of German poison gas by Iraq against Iran.

One interesting story is how the German press handled the wave of migrants from Bulgaria and Romania into Germany. The German government favored this further watering down of ethnic Germans by enlisting the press to describe the migrants as the hardworking, never-unemployed “Prussians of the Balkans.” False claims were made, such as the unemployment rate of Bulgarian and Romanian migrants was less than that of Germans. The false story was repeated endlessly without verification. Once the migrants were incorporated into Germany, the facts came out: The number of immigrants on welfare continues “to rise significantly” and has “increased 60% over the previous year.” The experts who had warned that this would be the case were demonized as “nationalists” and “nazis.” Thus, the media served to keep the facts out and fake news in.

The carefully woven matrix of controlled explanations explains why Trump, Marine le Pen, and other voices for real change are regarded as major threats to elite control. Marine le Pen faces continuous threats of prosecution, and the CIA/FBI/DNC orchestrated hoaxes are used by the presstitutes to drive Trump from office. With the Western media suborned, democracy and accountable government are not possible. Making this clear is Ulfkotte’s contribution.

Here are some of Ulfkotte’s amusing and revealing topics:

“‘Truths’ on Sale from Our Sponsors: Elite Networks and Intelligence Agencies”

“How do Journalists Pay for their Villas in Tuscany?”

“Our Lockstep Media: Synchronized, Obedient and No Questions Asked”

“In the Stranglehold of the Intelligence Agencies”

“Obama’s Trolls: America’s Fifth Column”

“Rockefeller’s Ghost—The Trilateral Commission”

“The Power of the Bilderbergers: Conspiracy Theory or Reality?”

“Two in Three Journalists are for Sale”

“The Higher Goal: Amputating Germany’s Identity”

“Merkel’s Fairy-Tale Hour: How the German Government Lies to Its Citizens”

Ulfkotte said that he could write the book, because he had no children or family to protect from retaliation. At the end of the book Ulfkotte says it is part one of a three book series. Ulfkotte died from a heart attack not long after the book was published. His death at 56 years of age raised doubts as to whether the heart attack was real or induced.

Ulfkotte’s Wikipedia biography was written by those he had exposed. Wikipedia is part of the control matrix. It is not an independent source. Wikipedia’s main function is to slander truth-tellers.

(This article, written by Paul Craig Roberts, is a reprint from Russia Insider).

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India is shouting from the rooftop it has made no transgressions across its eastern borders in neighbouring Nepal but it has made no difference to latter whose prime minister KP Oli  has joined his citizens who hit the streets in protest last week.

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India is shouting from the rooftop it has made no transgressions across its eastern borders in neighbouring Nepal but it has made no difference to latter whose prime minister KP Oli  has joined his citizens who hit the streets in protest last week.

Nepal’s bitter political rivals, Nepal Communist Party and Nepali Congress, are united in anger and so are the students on the streets who are convinced India has swallowed the long-disputed Kalapani area in its latest map which it released in the wake of reconfiguration of Jammu & Kashmir state early this month.

India, meanwhile, has stressed it’s the same map and same boundaries it has depicted all along for over half a century now, including the other disputed territory of Susta in Nepal’s south which for the time being doesn’t get Nepal’s hackles up.

Blame it on geography’s changing moods and the toxicity of colonialism that India finds itself enmeshed in border disputes with not just Nepal but many others in its neighbourhood, including China.

Kalapani, and Susta are territories around Kali and Gandak rivers. After the Anglo-Gurkha War (1814-1816), Nepal and East India Company signed a treaty in March 1816. The two rivers drew the arbitrary borders between these two long-disputed sites. Territories right of Gandak river, including Susta, belonged to Nepal; those on the left were with India. Since then Gandak river has changed course: Now Susta is on the left of Gandak river and hence with India. As for Kalapani, British kept changing the source of Kali river which has led to rival claims of today.

China: Talks after talks

India’s border disputes with China are one of the most protracted ones in the world. Since the first border talks began in 1981 to the latest, the 22nd round, which is due later this year, solutions have eluded the two Asian giants who fight the legacy of British colonialism and are afraid to upset the domestic audience in a give-and-take eventuality.

The two countries share a 3,488-km long unresolved border but two, the Western and Eastern ones, are particularly contentious. China controls 37,000-square km sized Aksai Chin in the West, a virtually uninhabited high-altitude desert; India 84,000 square km-wide populated Arunachal Pradesh in the East. The two fought for a month in 1962 but since a peace deal was struck in 1993, dialogues have been preferred over violence.

Yet, no solution is in sight. Along vast stretches of the borders between the two, there is no mutually agreed Line of Actual Control (LAC). India follows the Johnson Line in the Western sector, proposed by the British in the 1860s, which allocates Aksai Chin to them. China asserts it never agreed to the Johnson Line and thus Aksai Chin is its own. Aksai Chin is between volatile Kashmir and China’s Xinjiang province which are seen troublesome to the two nations. Then there is MacMahon Line in Eastern sector, initiated in 1913-14 between China, India and Tibet which is disputed.

Fortunately, pragmatism has brought about Border Defence Cooperation Agreement between the two Asian giants. Soldiers patrol their territory but back off when brought face-to-face with each other. Quite often military commanders at the border share a bonhomie, exchange views and sort out local issues.

Pakistan: An intractable issue

The border dispute between India and Pakistan concern Kashmir and are on since their independence in 1947. Pakistan launched a tribal militia in Kashmir on independence and the ruler of Kashmir, Maharja Hari Singh, sought India’s assistance which put a condition on Kashmir first acceding to India. Having duly secured the accession, India airlifted its troops to Srinagar and by the time cease-fire was secured after a year, India controlled two-thirds of the Kashmir while the remaining one-third was possessed by Pakistan. The status-quo has prevailed despite three wars and as many peace agreements (Tashkent, Simla, Lahore) between the two neighbours.

Bangladesh: All quiet at borders

India and East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) became free from the British empire in 1947 but the two retained thousands of citizens in hundreds of enclaves in each other’s territory. These enclave dwellers lived without any rights or papers, virtually stateless and lacking basics in education, health and security. All this changed for the good when the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi signed a historic pact with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina in 2015. It allowed these thousands of stateless people an opportunity to choose either of the two countries as their own. Land was also swapped between the two nations. The border dispute between the two is settled for good.

Similarly, India had a small dispute with Sri Lanka over an uninhabited 235-acre island, Katchatheevu, which was satisfactorily solved after India formally gifted it to Sri Lanka in the 70s. India has extremely minor border issues with Myanmar and practically none with Bhutan.

The curse of colonialism has left India with border issues which are non-existent, say in a majority of Europe or even between United States and Canada even though the demarcating line between the two countries is a straight one. With strong governments in place, India and China could settle the mutual issues to a great deal. The one with Pakistan though is another matter.

 

 

 

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The Indian military is in the midst of a massive nationwide crackdown on its own men for leaking sensitive information to Pakistan, including the one on world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, a proud product of joint collaboration between India and Russia.

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The Indian military is in the midst of a massive nationwide crackdown on its own men for leaking sensitive information to Pakistan, including the one on world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, a proud product of joint collaboration between India and Russia.

The Indian military intelligence has taken over the mobiles and computers of a few select personnel and are scanning their bank details even as they have issued an advisory to be beware of 150 fake social media profiles which are no better than “honey-traps.”

This is the latest advisory following the one in July this year where personnel were asked to avoid joining large groups on Facebook or WhatsApp where the identity of quite a few members is largely unknown. Facebook, incidentally, has admitted to up to 270 million fake accounts, most being bots or honey traps.

India’s army chief Bipin Rawat has already warned of an epidemic of “cat-fishing” attacks against his men. It has been worrying revealed that no less than 98 personnel of various wings of India’s military forces were compromised in a matter of a month by a Pakistan female-spy who went by the fake identity of one “Sejal Kapoor.”

In a purely digital operation of modern times, two viruses were injected into the computers of officers through alluring images and videos and the identity of the female-spy was masked through a maze of 25 internet addresses. Among the information leaked was the classified detail of India’s premier BrahMos missiles, claimed a report in The Hindu.

BrahMos is name made up of two rivers: Brahmaputra of India and Moskya of Russia. It’s an outcome of a joint venture between the two enduring friends, based on Russia’s premier sea-skimming cruise missile technology, primarily one of iconic P-800 Oniks cruise missile. BrahMos is the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world which could be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft or land.

A senior engineer with the BrahMos Aerospace , Nishant Agarwal, is presently under custody. He had stored sensitive BrahMos information in his laptop and hard disk which fell prey to a “honey-trap” by a Pakistan female-spy, coaxing him to download an app which automatically transferred the classified information of BrahMos to sniffing intelligence agencies of Pakistan.

It hasn’t though deterred India from successfully testing the BrahMos missile in September this year, fired from a test site in a coastal city, which travelled some 290km before hitting its target. The test involved a land-attack version of the missile.

A young Indian officer posted at the borders in Jaisalmer in the north-west state of Rajasthan was arrested last week for having been befriended by a Pakistan female-spy on social media who posed as an officer of the Indian army nursing corps. He was lured into releasing classified information on Indian tanks, armoured personnel carriers, assorted weaponry and location of army formations of the area. Indian army and navy have been reporting incidents of “honey-trapping” of its men in the last few years.

The Indian military high-command has warned its men to not only be wary of “honey-traps” but also of “Babas” (holy men) who promise to intervene with divinity on their behalf. Dubious job offers, such as one offered to Agarwal which made him share his involvement with the BrahMos missile project, have also been cautioned against.

Unlike the legendary Mata Hari who spied for both France and Germany and finally met a violent end during the First World War, espionage today is high-tech where a single trap can lure multiple victims without ever putting a spy to physical danger. On the flip side, it reduces the possibility of bestowing a legendary status to a spy with his or her skin in the game.

At the turn of the decade, there was this infamous incident of a female second secretary with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad who spied for Pakistan. Once her cover was blown off, she was summoned from Pakistan on the pretext of an official assignment and promptly arrested once she landed in New Delhi. Spying has always been a part of human affairs.

A few of the earliest instances have originated in Asia itself, notably in India and China and the treatises of “Arthshastra” (4th century BCE) and The Art of War *6th century BCE) have stood the test of time. Espionage was deeply embedded in the years of the Second World War, the Nuclear Age and the Cold War and even today countless billions are spent by state security apparatus of the United States (CIA etc), Israel (Mossad) and the United Kingdom (MI5) among others.

Meanwhile Indian military has described “honey-trap” as an extension of hybrid warfare unleashed by its enemy from across the border. A list of Dos and Don’ts is presently being circulated. It’s no mean task to send its message across as Indian military of over a million strength and hope they won’t be tempted.

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India doesn’t believe it is reading too much in the designs of arch-rivals Pakistan in opening up its doors for Sikh pilgrims to visit the resting place of their founder, Guru Nanak Dev, within its territory.

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India doesn’t believe it is reading too much in the designs of arch-rivals Pakistan in opening up its doors for Sikh pilgrims to visit the resting place of their founder, Guru Nanak Dev, within it's territory.

The two Prime Ministers, Narendra Modi and Imran Khan, stood at two sides of border to facilitate the first batch of 500 Sikh pilgrims make a 4-km trek to the holiest of their shrines, Gurudwara Darbar Sahib, on Saturday.

India sensed a chill behind the warm words wafting through from across the border as Imran Khan bemoaned the lockdown in Kashmir and his foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi mocked if India could do the same for Muslim pilgrims longing to visit their holy places in Kashmir.

A few days ago, India was stung when Pakistan had released an official video welcoming pilgrims which showed images of three major slain militants who wanted to carve out a separate homeland for Sikhs in Indian state of Punjab in the 80s.  

Though the separatist movement for Khalistan, a homeland for Sikhs, petered out in the 1990s there is still fire in the dying embers and India believes Pakistan would do its best to stoke its doctrine of “bleeding India with thousand cuts.”

India has tightened security, including ban on drones, in its north-western state of Punjab as it fears it could be a route to supply arms and terrorists to Kashmir—and that the holy corridor for Sikhs could act as a cover.

India finds Pakistan’s new-found affection for Sikhs a coat of deception and remembers multiple instances as a marker in support of this theory.

No sooner had Pakistan came into being as an Islamic state in 1947, Sikhs along with Hindus were driven out, killed and raped in thousands who retaliated by doing the same to Muslims from across the border. This set in motion the greatest migration in human history which cost two million lives, the horror of the violence rising up to the scale of the Holocaust.

Still, after the fire of Partition had died out, almost 23 per cent of Pakistan’s population comprised of non-Muslim citizens which now has been reduced to less than 2 per cent.  Thousands of Hindus and Sikhs were repressed and displaced whom the Indian government now is trying provide citizenship through an impending Act.

India is still battling the scars of five lakh Hindus being driven out of Kashmir Valley in the 1990s as grave terrorism spouted within its borders and the hands of Pakistan in spurring it to life was internationally acknowledged.

Pakistan also couldn’t keep its Bengali Muslim brothers within its fold as it let loose a reign of terror in East Pakistan in late 60s, killing hundreds of thousands, before the local resistance, with the help of India, broke free and a new nation Bangladesh came into being.

Pakistan’s flip-flop in run-up to the opening of holy corridor for Sikhs hasn’t gone unnoticed too.  The “goodwill gesture” will now cost Sikh pilgrims $20 dollars on each visit though the first two such trips, including the 550th birth anniversary of their founder, Guru Nanak Dev on November 12, would be free. Further, while Imran Khan has waived the requirement of passport for pilgrims, his omnipotent military is insistent on such a requirement.

“Pakistan is professing love for Indian citizens but this is the same country which is refusing its air-space for Indian prime minister to fly out on his foreign trips. Which Pakistan do you think we should believe,” said a retired diplomat who didn’t want to be named.

This is the latest saga in the frosty, bitter and violent relations between the two nations which share a common heritage yet have fought four wars and accuse each other of one or other violation practically every day. The guns haven’t stopped booming at the borders. Let’s hope this fresh smell of rose is for real.

(This is a reprint from rt.com)

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A new twist to the Ayodhya saga could still come about if the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board or other prominent Muslim bodies refuse the offer of a 5-acre land for a Mosque construction as compensation to the demolished Babri Masjid, as directed by the Supreme Court.

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A new twist to the Ayodhya saga could still come about if the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board or other prominent Muslim bodies refuse the offer of a 5-acre land for a Mosque construction as compensation to the demolished Babri Masjid, as directed by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court on Saturday directed the Indian state to allot a 5-acre plot to assuage the feelings of Muslims, retain communal amity and put a lid on a simmering dispute between the two communities which had lasted for decades.

But within no minutes of the judgment being announced, most prominent Muslim parties and leaders, including the intransigent Asaduddin Owaisi, expressed outrage over the idea that a land in compensation could be accepted by their community.

“We don’t need a 5-acrre land as a donaton…don’t patronize us,” said Owaisi in his first reaction to the reporters.

Kamal Faruqui, a member of the AIMPLB, said even if the government gives 100-acre land, it’s not enough. “Is this justice,” he bristled in dissatisfaction.

UP Sunni Waqf Board, who are designated as a body which would get the 5-acre land as compensation by the government, has announced that it would not challenge the SC judgment though it has reservations on the ruling. Still, it hasn’t clarified if it would accept the 5-acre land when it comes about in three months time.

A one-page statement by Zufar Faruqi, chairman of the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board, read thus:

“We welcome and humbly accept the verdict of the honourable Supreme Court.

“I as chairman of the UPSCWB make it clear that it will not seek any review of the Apex Court’s order or file any curative petition, hence any statement in this regard by an individual, lawyer or organization which mentions that the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board will go in review is not our line.”

However, there is no mention to their stance on the proposed 5-acre land awarded for a mosque.

So far a nation of over a billion Indians have shown remarkable restraint following the emotive judgment with both Hindus and Muslims refraining from aggressive posturing or violent reactions. The reaction of India’s vituperative media too has been remarkably toned down, neither triumphalism or dejection marking their coverage though a directive by the Centre in this regard surely played a critical role.

Millions of Hindus, who waited for this verdict for decades, put a lid on their celebrations all across the country. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) cautioned restraint in the days leading up to the judgment. So was the reaction of Indian prime minister Narendra who cautioned his ministers and party members to refrain from any chest-thumping on the positive verdict for the Hindus.

Indian state had feared for the worst as police had fanned out in districts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh and paramilitary forces were called out in Ayodhya, ground zero of the Ram janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. This, along with aerial surveillance, is still on to prevent any communal incident.

Still, if the Sunni Waqf Board rejects the offer of a 5-acre land by the government or is opposed by other Muslim bodies and leaders, it could vitiate the atmosphere of amity and peace and provide a fresh flashpoint to the dispute.

Admittedly, accepting the offered land wouldn’t dear the Sunni Waqf Board too to their Muslim audience, especially the clerics and hardliners who are fundamentalist in nature.

India’s liberal and secular brigade is already upset at the verdict and reactions from Pakistan are stoking insecurity among Indian Muslims. Any confrontational stance would add fuel to the fire.  

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US Congress has now been front-loaded with a report on Afghanistan by its think-tank, the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which is a double whammy for Indian policymakers.

The report talks of “fear of encirclement” in Pakistan over India’s commercial and diplomatic ties with the Afghan government which has led the Islamic nation, in retaliation, to patronize Taliban insurgents for decades now.

In reality, India is staring at a failed Afghan policy. It trusted United States to provide a strong democratic government in Afghanistan. Now United States is looking for a face-saving exit from the mountainous terrain and the Kabul government has never been weaker in years. The double blowback is the think-tank report which makes Pakistan, and not India, appear an aggrieved country which must be shored up with funds and arms.

All this is because Taliban is at its strongest in years. US had to woo it with a peace plan till recently even as Taliban ruled out ceasefire and the presence of Afghanistan government on the same table. Taliban peace-makers moved with ease in Beijing, Moscow and Tehran even though none of the three powers had a liking for Taliban.  This was pragmatic for Afghanistan today can’t be solved without Taliban.   

A little background is in order: Taliban owes a great deal to Pakistan. Its muscle is in southern Afghanistan which shares a fluid border with Pakistan and thus a safe cover to insurgents. US counters Taliban with funds and arms to Afghan government. It does stop Taliban from gaining a decisive military victory in the absence of international forces which left Afghanistan in 2014. But it does little else for the stability of the Kabul government.

The trouble is India has burnt most of its bridges with Taliban.  In the 1990s, there was a brief window for diplomatic ties when Talibans were in power in Afghanistan. But then Talibans became “blood brothers” of Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment and India had to look for its succour in fledgling Afghanistan governments. Afghanistan is of critical importance to New Delhi as it opened door for Central Asia and Middle East, overcoming the physical barrier of Pakistan on its north-west frontiers.

Over the years, India’s stance on Taliban has only hardened. It’s wary of presence of Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) which moved to Afghanistan in 2015 and whose core belongs to Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. (It’s another matter that Afghan government props up this organ of ISIS in the hope it would counter Taliban).  India fears that ISKP would always appeal to young Afghanis who have grown up on the killing fields of Afghanistan in the civil war of last two decades. One, there is not just Taliban but also Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbek insurgents in Afghanistan who need a rallying force. Two, Islamic State could use the base of Afghanistan for its revival and unleash terror in Kashmir.

Besides, India suffers from a fractured psyche in its long battle against terrorism. It knows Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) not only props up Taliban but also Haqqani Network which US has designated as a terrorist organization. Its deputy leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of its founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, was reportedly involved in the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul in July 2008 which killed 58 people.

India was pleased when Trump called off peace talks with Taliban following two bomb attacks by the terrorist group that killed 10 civilians and an American soldier in September. Afghanistan government lost little time in announcing elections for September 28. Taliban struck back with two suicide bomb attacks within an hour of each other: the first one at an election rally of president Ashraf Ghani and the second near US Embassy for a combined death toll of 48 people. The turnout predictably was low: Only two million out of 10 million registered voters turned up at vote-casting booths.

Not that it helped clear the mist. The results weren’t declared on intended date of October 17 nor did it come about this week. The winner would now be known only on November 14. The election commission puts the delay due to a hacking attempt on its servers and tampering with its digital lock. Taliban, predictably, has made accusation of rigging and mismanagement.

Thus, as things stand, India finds itself trapped in Afghanistan. The Kabul government is tottering. It can’t survive without United States which in turn is waking up to a Vietnam-like situation, looking for a face-saving exit. On the other hand, walking towards Taliban is a minefield. India can’t make a “fight against terrorism” as bedrock of its foreign policy and yet extend a hand towards Taliban.  It’s Pakistan which seems to be holding all the aces for having backed the right horse in Taliban.  And yet, a US Congress think-tank is alerting the world of Pakistan fearing “encirclement” from India in Afghanistan. Indeed it’s India which has a lot to fear—and lose—in the unending saga of Afghanistan.

 

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US Congress has now been front-loaded with a report on Afghanistan by its think-tank, the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which is a double whammy for Indian policymakers.

The report talks of “fear of encirclement” in Pakistan over India’s commercial and diplomatic ties with the Afghan government which has led the Islamic nation, in retaliation, to patronize Taliban insurgents for decades now.

In reality, India is staring at a failed Afghan policy. It trusted United States to provide a strong democratic government in Afghanistan. Now United States is looking for a face-saving exit from the mountainous terrain and the Kabul government has never been weaker in years. The double blowback is the think-tank report which makes Pakistan, and not India, appear an aggrieved country which must be shored up with funds and arms.

All this is because Taliban is at its strongest in years. US had to woo it with a peace plan till recently even as Taliban ruled out ceasefire and the presence of Afghanistan government on the same table. Taliban peace-makers moved with ease in Beijing, Moscow and Tehran even though none of the three powers had a liking for Taliban.  This was pragmatic for Afghanistan today can’t be solved without Taliban.   

A little background is in order: Taliban owes a great deal to Pakistan. Its muscle is in southern Afghanistan which shares a fluid border with Pakistan and thus a safe cover to insurgents. US counters Taliban with funds and arms to Afghan government. It does stop Taliban from gaining a decisive military victory in the absence of international forces which left Afghanistan in 2014. But it does little else for the stability of the Kabul government.

The trouble is India has burnt most of its bridges with Taliban.  In the 1990s, there was a brief window for diplomatic ties when Talibans were in power in Afghanistan. But then Talibans became “blood brothers” of Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment and India had to look for its succour in fledgling Afghanistan governments. Afghanistan is of critical importance to New Delhi as it opened door for Central Asia and Middle East, overcoming the physical barrier of Pakistan on its north-west frontiers.

Over the years, India’s stance on Taliban has only hardened. It’s wary of presence of Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) which moved to Afghanistan in 2015 and whose core belongs to Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. (It’s another matter that Afghan government props up this organ of ISIS in the hope it would counter Taliban).  India fears that ISKP would always appeal to young Afghanis who have grown up on the killing fields of Afghanistan in the civil war of last two decades. One, there is not just Taliban but also Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbek insurgents in Afghanistan who need a rallying force. Two, Islamic State could use the base of Afghanistan for its revival and unleash terror in Kashmir.

Besides, India suffers from a fractured psyche in its long battle against terrorism. It knows Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) not only props up Taliban but also Haqqani Network which US has designated as a terrorist organization. Its deputy leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of its founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, was reportedly involved in the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul in July 2008 which killed 58 people.

India was pleased when Trump called off peace talks with Taliban following two bomb attacks by the terrorist group that killed 10 civilians and an American soldier in September. Afghanistan government lost little time in announcing elections for September 28. Taliban struck back with two suicide bomb attacks within an hour of each other: the first one at an election rally of president Ashraf Ghani and the second near US Embassy for a combined death toll of 48 people. The turnout predictably was low: Only two million out of 10 million registered voters turned up at vote-casting booths.

Not that it helped clear the mist. The results weren’t declared on intended date of October 17 nor did it come about this week. The winner would now be known only on November 14. The election commission puts the delay due to a hacking attempt on its servers and tampering with its digital lock. Taliban, predictably, has made accusation of rigging and mismanagement.

Thus, as things stand, India finds itself trapped in Afghanistan. The Kabul government is tottering. It can’t survive without United States which in turn is waking up to a Vietnam-like situation, looking for a face-saving exit. On the other hand, walking towards Taliban is a minefield. India can’t make a “fight against terrorism” as bedrock of its foreign policy and yet extend a hand towards Taliban.  It’s Pakistan which seems to be holding all the aces for having backed the right horse in Taliban.  And yet, a US Congress think-tank is alerting the world of Pakistan fearing “encirclement” from India in Afghanistan. Indeed it’s India which has a lot to fear—and lose—in the unending saga of Afghanistan.

 

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India’s capital Delhi is gasping for breath and the fact that schools have been shut, flights diverted, construction work halted and public health emergency declared should tell a thing or two about the dire air-pollution blanketing world’s second most populous city of 30 million people.

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India’s capital Delhi is gasping for breath and the fact that schools have been shut, flights diverted, construction work halted and public health emergency declared should tell a thing or two about the dire air-pollution blanketing world’s second most populous city of 30 million people.

Man and nature outdo each other every winter in producing a gas chamber which irreversibly damages the lungs of millions of children and makes air-pollution the fifth biggest killer of all–bigger than diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and malnutrition.

The megalopolis lies lower than its surrounding areas which has dust blown in from the deserts (Rajasthan) and smoke from burning farms (Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab) that remains trapped due to stagnant air of cold winter. Tens of thousands of industries on its periphery, snarling trucks with construction materials which inject dust in air and at least 10 million vehicles on its artery of roads further choke the lungs of its residents.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi registered a high of 484 this week which is in severe category, way above the 0-100 considered “good” and “satisfactory”.  Half of this problem is due to stubble burning of crops in neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana. Yet, twice as trickier is the solution than the problem would appear at first sight.

Every year, after the paddy harvest, farmers are left with stubble which has grown progressively stubborn over the years due to increased use of pesticides and fertilizers. It doesn’t interest cattle. It blunts the cutting instruments. Pulling it out is time and money-consuming. Transporting it further involves expense. With a fresh crop season beckoning, farmers opt for burning the stubble as an easy way out.

India is a federal nation and states and Centre often run at cross-purpose to each other. They haven’t found a way to incentivize the farmers to pull out the stubble and transport it, say to private power producers who in turn could be incentivized to use the stubble and its valuable biomass fuel into renewable electricity. Big players have already invested $42 billion in India’s renewable energy sector since 2014 and could lap up to this opportunity which would end the stubble menace. Thailand took a similar route to tackle rice husk issue and overcame it in five years.

One of the measures being tried by Delhi government presently is odd-even scheme for cars which is odd-numbered cars run on odd dates and even-numbered vehicles on even dates. However, since vehicles measure up to only 2% of the problem, this at best is a band-aid to what is a badly-infected body.

To be sure, Delhi isn’t the only Indian city grappling with clean air issue. Indeed, 22 of world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India. Population is one issue which makes India’s cities highly congested and reduce traffic to a crawl, filling the air with toxic smoke. Nearly 100 million Indians still use fuelwood and biomass cakes for cooking and general heating needs which World Health Organization (WHO) reckons leads to death of 400,000 people each year due to indoor carbon monoxide poisoning. India burns ten times more fuelwood every year than the United States. Most Indian cab drivers use adulterated fuel blends of gasoline and diesel to reduce their gas expenses but at a great cost to environment. India, lest we forget, is also the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, behind China and the United States.

India has woken up late to air-pollution but frankly so did the world--only around the turn of the 21st century. Humanity lived with bad air for centuries before realizing that air pollution is causing unimaginable health disasters. Today it accounts for one in nine deaths worldwide. It kills 7 million people a year, more than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Every single city in Middle East and Africa exceeds the WHO markers as does 99% of South Asian cities and 89% in East Asia. Even in Europe it accounts for 500,000 deaths per year.

In India, the air pollution act was passed in 1981. Since then India has formed its own National Air Quality Index. This year it has launched the National Clean Air Programme with 20-30 per cent pollution reduction target by 2024.  This plan is specifically meant for 102 cities which are considered to have worse air quality than the national standards. After all, life can’t do without breathing.

 

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Liberals are aghast that a largely right-wing group of Members of European Parliament (MEP) were recently in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir to form a first-hand opinion after its special status was withdrawn on August 5 this year.

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Liberals are aghast that a largely right-wing group of Members of European Parliament (MEP) were recently in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir to form a first-hand opinion after its special status was withdrawn on August 5 this year.

The visit by 23 EU parliamentarians, technically the initiative of little-known non-governmental group Women’s Economic and Social Think-Tank (WESTT), is an “unofficial” one since neither European Union (EU) nor Indian government is directly involved, yet given the noise you would think it’s one of the biggest threat to the “Liberal Order” since World War II.

Nationalism was a great revolutionary force till the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany in the first half of the 20th century but after World War II, it was clubbed with Nazism and Fascism by the victorious “Liberal Order” which shaped the world in the narrative of “globalization, free trade and human rights.” Europe sought to eclipse nationalism through the European Union of free borders.

Yet in essence, the “Liberal Order” became a narrative of the “elites” which waged wars, created corporate empires, sucked the developing world dry of its land, labour and resources. Profit over people became the maxim. But disenchantment has now set in. Nationalist or populist forces have brought the likes of Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi and even Donald Trump on to the centre-stage. European Union itself is battling for it survival.

Brexit is just a symptom of people’s distrust or Euroscepticism. Unemployment and immigration are core issues. Nationalist forces are on the rise: As per Bloomberg, support for populist forces in 22 of 28 EU countries now has never been higher in the last 30 years. Nationalists are in majority in Italy, France, Poland and Hungary. Traditional parties for the first time weren’t voted to majority by 400 million people in the 751-seat strong European parliament this May. A broad nationalist front, European Alliance of People and Nations (EAPN), with a “Europe of fatherlands” as its mission, has been set in motion.

Viewed in this backdrop, the outcry over the visit of EU parliamentarians to Kashmir was given. “Indian Express” reminded its readers that one of them, Thierry Mariani of France, had supported Russia when Crimea was annexed in 2014. Western media pointed out that Modi government only days ago had denied a similar permission to US congressmen. The general refrain is that fascist, Islamophobic forces in Europe have been preferred to “liberal voices” by the Modi government.

Rebuts Kanwal Sibal, India’s ex-foreign secretary: “Should we invite Ilhan Omar? (US congresswomen) or Jeremy Corbyn (UK Labour Party leader) who have hostile views on India? Or The Economist, New York Times, CNN and Washington Post etc who are known to harbour anti-India views? How do they want us to fight this information war?”

Added Sibal: “These EU parliamentarians have won people’s mandate. They are elected representatives of people. They are no more or no less than other parliamentarians. Why disrespect people’s choice?”

Closer home, Indian Opposition is bristling with anger that Kashmir Valley remains out of bound for them but not for their counterparts in EU. “Who’s internationalizing the issue now,” asked the Opposition to ruling BJP who has all along said that J & K is an “internal” issue. “How could the state be normal when leaders of political parties are still under house arrest,” is another angry response. Asaduddin Owaisi, a Muslim leader, bunches both Modi government and visiting EU parliamentarians together as “Islamophobic.”

But do EU parliamentarians “internationalize” the issue? Not really since they are not “intervening” in Kashmir. It’s a perception battle for which Modi government is readying itself for coming months, even years. And didn’t the opposition itself “internationalize” the issue by seeking out Corbyn on Kashmir recently?

Leaders of political parties are under house arrest but that’s because the authorities don’t wish to take chances with the likes of former state chief minister Mehbooba Mufti who had warned of “rivers of blood” if Kashmir’s special status was revoked.

Indian opposition leaders are denied visits because their agenda is not “human rights” but “politics.” It would directly play into the hands of Pakistan which quotes them in international forums, like Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan recently did in United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). “If they really care about human rights in Kashmir, then why don’t they (Opposition) include it as their goal in the political manifesto?” questioned Modi in a rally recently.  The fact is Indian parliament had overwhelmingly voted against the “special status” of J & K recently.

The charge of Islamophobia too seems far-fetched. J & K comprises of diverse religious groups and not just Muslims. EU parliamentarians opposed to migrants isn’t Islamophobia. Besides, the “special status” to J & K was blocking national social welfare schemes from benefitting the locals, including Muslims. A larger voters’ turnout in the recent Block Development Council (BDC) elections in the state is cited as proof of people’s support.

It’s not to say that the EU parliamentarians’ visit was without the shadow of deaths. Six migrant workers were gunned down by terrorists; shops were forcibly closed in Srinagar and stone-pelters targeted armed forces in narrow lanes of old Srinagar. It is as if the terrorists were intent that EU parliamentarians don’t carry a “peaceful Kashmir” image back home. But then, the perception war has just begun on Kashmir.

(The author penned this piece for rt.com). 

 

 

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Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has called India’s prime minister Narendra Modi his elder brother, though such bonds are easily forged when big money is in the air.

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Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has called India’s prime minister Narendra Modi his elder brother, though such bonds are easily forged when big money is in the air.

Saudi Arabia has plans to invest $100 billion in India in the next two years and the latter is licking its lips at some $500 billion-worth of futuristic infrastructural projects in the desert kingdom in the coming decades, and the two, it seems, can't get enough of one another.

Now, Prince Salman has rolled out a red-carpet welcome for Modi today in Riyadh, at what will be the third edition of its Future Investment Initiative (FII), the ‘Davos In the Desert.’ But the pow-wow between the two leaders in bilateral talks is the real deal in the backdrop.

The Saudi Arabia of today would hate to remember that it once stood against India over the Soviet Union’s presence in Afghanistan in late 1970s, or that it had sided with Pakistan during the 1971 War which helped create Bangladesh. It has also locked horns with India on Jammu and Kashmir on more than one occasion.

Now, Saudi Arabia looks the other way as India flexes its muscle in the troublesome northern state, promises to share intelligence to boost India's fight against Islamic terrorism, and grants observer status to India in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In between, it has conferred Modi with Saudi Arabia's highest civilian honour, the King Adbulaziz Sash, for good measure.

Saudi Arabia has, for some time now, been looking for new friends in the East. The disappointing response of the United States after half of the kingdom’s oil production was knocked out by drone attacks last month, or when the West cornered Riyadh on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, has only driven it into the arms of India, and of China.

For this second iteration of FII, France, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands have pulled out, as has the US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin along with IMF head Christine Lagarde. The chief executives of JP Morgan, Siemens, Blackrock, etc., had all turned their backs and so did leading names in Western media. Most of them –the likes of the Fox Network, CNN, the New York Times and Bloomberg Media– are bearing their grudge even this year. The personal wooing of Google, Apple and Amazon by prince Salman himself has, apparently, had no effect.

Now Saudi's Aramco is investing over $44 billion in India's massive Ratnagiri oil refinery in Maharashtra and it's close to buying a 50 per cent stake in a $4.6 billion petrochemicals plant in Gujarat, Modi's home constituency. A quarter of India's oil needs today are met by Saudi Arabia and that it may overtake China in its exploding energy demands by 2024 is a mouth-watering prospect. The Saudi Arabia of today doesn't want to export just oil alone, it has ambitions of being the leader in the refinery business, as its investments in Texas and Ratnagiri suggest.

India is also achieving its strategic goals alongside trade with Saudi Arabia. Its economic heft makes it a very attractive proposition for the US, the Middle East, Russia and China. It’s a great position to be in. It has a population of 200 million Muslims for a majority of whom Saudi Arabia remains the seat of Islam, as the holy cities of Mecca and Medina are within its borders.

Modi pulled off a great PR coup with India's biggest minority group when it persuaded Saudi Arabia to increase India’s Haj pilgrimage quota to 200,000, the second highest of all pilgrim quotas this year. Over three million Indian workers constitute the largest labor force in the kingdom and send a sizeable annual remittance of $11 billion back home. Above all, Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf that is so enamoured of India, acts as a great restraining hand over Pakistan.

The India of today fits perfectly into Saudi Arabia’s project, called Vision 2030, which is to open up the Kingdom and diversify its economy. It's as good a time as any to harp on Arabia's ancient links with India, which dates back to the third millennium BC, and to offer reminders that Arab traders once held a monopoly on spice trade between India and Europe. Good times of-old have a way of refreshing pleasant memories between two long-lost friends.

(This piece the author has penned for rt.com).

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Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) with 120-member countries is second only to the United Nations (UN) in size yet its’ two-day 18th Summit in Baku, Azerbaijan on Friday would be lucky to find front-page mention in your newspaper.

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Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) with 120-member countries is second only to the United Nations (UN) in size yet its’ two-day 18th Summit in Baku, Azerbaijan on Friday would be lucky to find front-page mention in your newspaper.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi would give it a miss again, like he did in Venezuela in 2016, and so would heads of a whole lot of other nations even though Hassan Rouhani (Iran), Sheikh Hasina (Bangladesh) and KP Sharma Oli (Nepal) as notable exceptions are making rounds in press releases.

It’s unlikely, anyway, that Baku would see more heads of states than eight viewed in Venezuela, down incidentally from 35 witnessed in a still previous edition in Iran in 2012. The NAM doesn’t have a formal constitution or a permanent secretariat, only a coordinating office adjacent to the UN in New York, and a formal media communiqué is all they have to declare to an indifferent world.

It wasn’t so when the world was freeing itself from colonialism in the aftermath of World War II in 1945, and few charismatic world leaders-- Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru (India), Sukarno (Indonesia), Gemel Abdel Nasser (Egypt) and Josep Broz Tito (Yugoslavia)—rallied the new nations under the banner of the NAM to keep an equidistance from the two superpowers, United States and the Soviet Union. It was a Third World-grouping which didn’t lean either way in the dangerous nuclear-race of Cold War era.

The grouping ensured the vestiges of colonialism didn’t linger on long in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean through their activism in UN General Assembly which declared de-colonization as its main objective in 1960. They brought their weight to bear on the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty and later helped the superpowers to formulate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

 But the Cold War ended in 1989, the Soviet Union was no more soon, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved and apartheid in South Africa was dismantled. The NAM still defined its role through the prism of Third World nationalism. Western hegemony was still the elephant in the room.

All of it has changed with the rise of China: What was an ideological war has today become one for economics and geography. Many of the NAM members are economic basket cases of the West. As many as 40 of Africa’s 55 states, along with the African Union, have signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with Beijing in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to build their ports and airports, highways and railways. Over 50 NAM countries figure prominently in the index of failed states.

You thus have a situation where support for Iran’s nuclear programme is voiced in the NAM’s summit but the same nations back economic-sanctions resolutions in the UN Security Council against Tehran. A host of Arab countries bristle with anger against Israel in the NAM conferences but lap up profitable military and economic ties with the Jewish country once outside the boardroom. From conservative Colombia to Leftist Venezuela; from pro-West Malaysia to socialist Cuba, all have hosted NAM conferences.

India which skillfully used Soviet Union to secure their veto in the UN Security Council on Goa and Jammu & Kashmir  in the 50s and 60s and used the Western economic assistance to bail themselves out of a food crisis don’t see much value in NAM these days. S. Jaishankar, present foreign minister, had no qualm in declaring in Venezuela Summit that blocs and alliances are less relevant in international order, and the world is moving towards a “loosely arranged order.”

Still, India has embedded itself in nimble regional networks such as SAARC and BIMSTEC, multilateral ties with ASEAN; is a respected dialogue partner of the European Union and a special invitee to the G-8 summits. It has a trilateral grouping with Russia and China; holds a quadrilateral security dialogue (QUAD) with the United States, Japan and Australia.  There is then BRICS and SCO.  It is thus easy to see why India is losing steam on the NAM.

In an ideal world, NAM could be an immense balancing bloc to lower the heat in the South China Sea. Lesser states in Asia-Pacific would pay a heavy price if US and China up the ante of their animosity. The NAM could restrain US and Russia; help China and India lower their suspicion of each other.  There are still dime-a-dozen limited wars being fought around the world and the NAM, if it wants, could still be heard in the UN.

Unfortunately, the leaders of the NAM in its pomp, India, Egypt, Indonesia and Yugoslavia, bear little resemblance to the era of 50s.  For good or worse, they have moved on. Without a credible helmsman, the NAM is nothing but a talking shop.

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India is abuzz with Mahatma Gandhi in the year of his 150th birth anniversary but there is a new version to his message of “ahimsa” (non-violence) which its enemies are finding out at a great personal cost. 

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India is abuzz with Mahatma Gandhi in the year of his 150th birth anniversary but there is a new version to his message of “ahimsa” (non-violence) which its enemies are finding out at a great personal cost. 

Gandhi was the “apostle” of peace and non-violence who offered the other cheek when slapped but India of today would rather leave a black eye on its aggressor as it did on Pakistan with retaliatory heavy shelling in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) on Sunday which left at least 6-10 Pakistani soldiers dead and blew up three terrorist camps into thin air.

It was a grim fresh reminder to Pakistan that India has the doctrine of an eye-for-an-eye in its new rulebook and the “surgical strikes” and “Balakot airstrikes” which followed the terrorist attacks in Uri (2016) and Pulwama (2019) was the new philosophy and not an exception.

India is still an adherent to “non-violence” and has an unbroken history of peaceful coexistence, never eyeing others’ territory but the painful lessons of past demand it puts a premium on the integrity of its Union.

India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval often reminds his audience that India was overrun by invaders despite being arguably the most advanced civilization of its times. It never protected its seas even though they straddle three of its four corners. It led to the servitude of almost a thousand years. It faced wars imposed by Pakistan on three of four occasions: 1947-48, 1965 and 1999. It didn’t use 90,000 prisoners-of-war as a bargaining chip nor advanced deep inside Pakistan after winning a conclusive war in 1971 which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

India was seen as an epitome of a “soft” nation as terrorists kept crossing the Line of Control (LoC) through Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir and cost tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers lives since 1990. The horrific attack in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, when terrorists from across the border sprayed machine guns on civilians on streets and five-star hotels, known as 26/11 in nation’s damaged psyche, evoked no retaliatory response from India. Worse, the very next year in 2009, the same United Progressive Alliance (UPA), returned to power without any retribution from its masses.

All this has changed for good. India today is driven in its bid to modernize its army: It has only recently ceded its top spot to Saudi Arabia as the biggest arms importer of the world—the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reckons India accounted for 12% of the total global arms imports for the 2013-2017 period. It has lapped up Russia’s S-400 advanced missile system defying the threat of sanctions from the United States. It has gone ahead with its purchase of France’s Rafale fighter jets even though the move threatened to derail Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s bid for a second term on the unfounded charges of corruption this year.

India today is literally taking the fight into enemy camp: It rakes up the issue of Balochistan and its independence from Pakistan; it has vowed to wrest back the control of PoK for a unified Kashmir and its defence minister Rajnath Singh has already debunked the “No-First-Use” nuclear doctrine. India stood up for its ally Bhutan and stared down China in a face-to-face standoff between the two armed forces in Doklam in 2017 which lasted months.

India is not only flexing its armed muscle but is also a crusader against global terrorism on international forums. India has successfully overturned China’s reluctance in having Masood Azhar of Pakistan blacklisted by the United Nations. It dissuaded South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan from joining the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Summit hosted by Islamabad in November 2016 after the Uri attack. It recently tried its very best to have Pakistan blacklisted by the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) and has openly fallen out with Turkey and Malaysia for standing by Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

India loves and is proud of Mahatma Gandhi and the message of “vasudhaiva kutumbakam" (The World Is One Family) which defined the great man’s extraordinary life. But it doesn’t want to ignore the lessons of history. It is prepared to lift arms to protect its people and boundaries which is different from being an aggressor. It’s a nuanced approach to Gandhi’s philosophy and it seems to be paying dividends.

(This is a reprint from Russia Today—rt.com-- for whom the author has penned this piece).

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Every coin has two sides but let’s first flip the one which is justifiably being feted across the globe: In mere 10 years, India has halved its poverty from 55 to 28 percent, i.e 369 out 640 million people are out of its vicious grip. The World Bank estimates that if India doesn’t lift its foot from the pedal, extreme poverty would belong to past in 2030.

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Every coin has two sides but let’s first flip the one which is justifiably being feted across the globe: In mere 10 years, India has halved its poverty from 55 to 28 percent, i.e 369 out 640 million people are out of its vicious grip. The World Bank estimates that if India doesn’t lift its foot from the pedal, extreme poverty would belong to past in 2030.

Extreme poverty isn’t about the money you have in your pockets which incidentally is less than US$1.90 per day in monetary terms. The global standards follow Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) which focuses on health, education and living standards and measures them through the 10 indicators of nutrition, child mortality, schooling years, school attendance, sanitation, cooking fuel, drinking water, electricity, housing and assets. Those who lack in one-third of these parameters are extremely poor.

 It’s no-brainer to most Indians to identify the areas in which India has managed giant leaps: 93% of India now has access to electricity; almost 100 percent houses now have household toilets; 94% have access to cooking gas and housing-for-all could be a reality by 2022. However nutrition (India’s in 100th out of 118 in Global Hunger Index); child mortality (at 1.2 million a year the highest in the world); education (one in six Indians is out of its bounds) and drinking water (100 million Indians have almost zero-access) are gaping holes and forces us to look at the other side of the coin.

Urban and rural divide for instance. An urban worker earns eight times an average of agriculture worker even though two-third of India’s 1.3 billion people live in its villages. This disparity partially explains why 34 farmers commit suicide per day in India. Indian farmers are smallest landholding class on the planet and can’t bargain in open market for their little produce. It tells us about the inequality in consumption and physical and social infrastructure. If forewarns us about the violence which is heaving below the urban-rural divide.

India’s political elites do paper it over with doles such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREG) programme which assures 100 days of guaranteed wages for unskilled manual labour. But what about the other 265 days? Why waste India’a incomparable human resources – every second Indian is less than 25 years—on digging wells and laying roads when they could be trained to use technology? Is there even a comparison between manual and skilled labour? What stops Indian farmers to adopt technology?

Gender and caste are two other areas which continue to hold India back. Jobs for women indeed have fallen off from a high of 36 percent in 2005 to 26 percent in 2018. Nearly 200 million women either don’t get paid or are in the unorganized sector. Poverty and restrictive social or family mores still keep them out of the basic education loop, forget about the digitized education which has overtaken the world.  

Muslims and Scheduled Tribes/Scheduled Castes continue to be India’s poorest living groups. Sure there is a huge reduction in their rates of poverty between 2006 and 2016, still every second person among Scheduled Tribe and every third among Muslims is poor. Admittedly, there is a reason for it since Muslims still prefer Madarasa (seminary) where religious initiation is the preferred mode to grounding in science and mathematics. Tribals face the issue of assimilation in mainstream India.

At a macro-level, 364 million Indians are still extremely poor, which is more than the population of United States. At a micro-scale, just four states—Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh—account for 196 million of these extremely poor. Some are as poor as Sierra Leone in Sub-Saharan Africa, like Alirajpur district in Madhya Pradesh, the poorest in India, where 77 per cent of people aren’t sure if they would live to see another day.

It’s not to deny India’s eye-catching gains in war against poverty. The average life-expectancy of an Indian has increased by 11 years since 1990. Still it remains one of the 10 poorest countries in the globe alongside Bangladesh, Peru, Vietnam, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Combodia, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Haiti. It’s a war which is not over till it’s over.

 

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Hindu Samaj leader Kamlesh Tiwari was brutally murdered in Lucknow on Friday which has the potential to snowball into a major polarizing incident in coming days.

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Hindu Samaj leader Kamlesh Tiwari was brutally murdered in Lucknow on Friday which has the potential to snowball into a major polarizing incident in coming days.

Tiwari, who spent months in jail for commenting on Prophet Mohammad in response to Azam Khan (Samajwadi Party) remarks that all RSS leaders are gay, was to lead a demonstration in Kolkata on October 22 against state chief minister Mamata Banerjee for her failure to protect Hindus and BJP workers who are being brutally murdered in Bengal.

Tiwari was at his home when his murderers entered unobstructed in saffron garb, pretended as if to offer him sweets but pulled out a knife from the packet and stabbed her repeatedly, including sliting his throat.

The gruesome murder has evoked strong reaction on the social media and accused the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh for not protecting the life of Hindu leader despite open threats to his life by self-styled Muslim leaders who promised crores of rupees to those who would behead his head. Worse, Kamlesh Tiwari had gone public, claiming that he was receiving threat on his life from Islamic State (IS) terrorists.  

At the time of the incident, one guard of Kamlesh Tiwari was missing while another was asleep as the murderers made an unobstructed entry and killed him in broad daylight at his Khurshidbagh residence in the state capital.

Kamlesh was a zealot of Hindu cause but often lamented that it was a lonely battle on his part as fellow Hindus wouldn’t even spare a dime in the name of religion while Muslims were being funded in millions by organized forces in India and abroad. One of his recent Facebook post makes for poignant reading.

The social media is outraged by the gruesome murder but the response in Lutyens Media, as expected, is tepid. The common thread running on social media is lack of protection or provision for those who take up the Hindu cause, be it from the government or resourceful Hindus. It’s often a lonely trek and those who become strident in countering the Left-Liberals or Islamic forces are easily picked and finished off.

Social media is citing various such incidents where unprotected Hindu voices have been silenced in last few years. A parallel with Swami Shradanand of Arya Samaj is also drawn who was murdered in a similar cold-blooded manner in 1926.

 

 

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(There is much heartburn on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) putting forth its resolve to grant much-maligned Veer Savarkar with Bharat Ratna in the near future. Vaibhav Purandhare, author of “ Savarkar: The True Story of the Father of Hindutva” gives his perspective on the matter in a recent article in Times of India which is reproduced below with gratitude)

 

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(There is much heartburn on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) putting forth its resolve to grant much-maligned Veer Savarkar with Bharat Ratna in the near future. Vaibhav Purandhare, author of “ Savarkar: The True Story of the Father of Hindutva” gives his perspective on the matter in a recent article in Times of India which is reproduced below with gratitude)

By wholeheartedly endorsing his party’s idea of giving Vinayak Damodar Savarkar or Veer Savarkar the country’s top civilian honour, PM Narendra Modi has made absolutely clear his—and his government’s—resolve to replace the old Nehruvian idea of India with that of the Hindutva icon.

Does that mean the end of secularism or equal respect for all faiths, that long cherished idea of Indian republic? Well the opposition or the dominant “Left-secular” commentators would say it does. But their contention is vigorously disputed by the BJP and Savarkar’s other admirers, who say that it actually signifies the collapse of pseudo-secularism and the advent of genuine reverence for all religions as against the cruel and rather unfunny caricature that the term “sarv dharma sambhava” has been reduced to.

And it has Savarkar to quote for it. At length. After he became the president of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937 and began explaining at mass rallies his theory of Hindutva, Savarkar was asked if a Hindu Rashtra, as conceived by him, meant Muslims would be reduced to the status of second-class citizens. No, he said, it meant simply that “pseudo-secularism and Muslim appeasement”—both terms later popularized by L.K. Advani in the 1980s and 1990s—would have no place in the new India. The one-time revolutionary who had spent a decade in military confinement in the Cellular Jail on the Andaman Islands—the worst prison or Guantanamo Bay of the early 1990s—was categorical that Hindus would not have any special position in the Hindu Rashtra; instead, “one vote (per person) and one law” would be the regulating principle of national life, but unlike the policies allegedly practiced by Pandit Nehru’s government, Hindu refugees of Partition would have the same umbrella of security as Muslim refugees (Sardar Patel and Nehru’s fellow UP-ite PD Tandon were among those who felt the first PM of free India was discriminating against Hindu refugees), and India would abjure Gandhian notions of absolutist non-violence in favour of military preparedness and alertness that would thwart any attempt to disturb the country’s borders. Savarkar spoke openly against the Nehru-led establishment’s professed ideals of non-alignment and disarmament, not because they were undesirable but because, according to him, the surest way of keeping peace was a readiness for confrontation.

The stripping down of the one-time Nehruvian consensus and implementation of a Savarkar-ian vision, it could be argued, is already well under way. If the law to ban triple talaq is protected as the end of the “appeasement era,” the embrace of Hindu symbols, right from Modi’s performance of an aarti in Varanasi to his Himalayan cave sojourn before the Lok Sabha eections earlier this year, is indication that there will be an unreserved recognition of the Hindu underpinnings of Indian civilization. The revoking of Article 370 and 35A is elucidation of Svarkar’s “one nation one law” idea and the Balakot airstrikes and the post-Uri surgical strikes the kind of display of military strength the Hindutva hero would’ve much appreciated.

For the Modi regime, a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, followed perhaps by a Uniform Civil Code would equally be in keeping with Savarkar’s vision of an unapologetic Hindu-ness as the genuine guarantor of secular interests, just as the moon and space missions would reflect his desired push, without any attendant rituals of course—for an embrace of science and technology.

Besides, according to Savarkar’s 1921 tract on Hindutva, those who did not consider India their “pitrubu” and “punabhu”—fatherland and holy land—could well find themselves beyond the ambit of Indian nationhood. So factor in the Citizenship Amendment Bill and the National register of Citizens as well.

SavarkaBharat Ratna posthumously above all, would tick off an all-important point on the BJP’s agenda—of bringing into this spotlight key personalities linked to the freedom movement who were for long overshadowed by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Savarkar’s ideas are a part of government policies, the Bharat Ratna would be his formal anointment as the Modi’s government’s lodestar.

 

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Two Mikes from the United States, Mike Pence (vice-president) and Mike Pompeo (secretary of state), would be in Ankara on Thursday which is the latest farce on Turkey’s invasion on Kurds in Syria, now in its 10th day.

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Two Mikes from the United States, Mike Pence (vice-president) and Mike Pompeo (secretary of state), would be in Ankara on Thursday which is the latest farce on Turkey’s invasion on Kurds in Syria, now in its 10th day.

Pence and Pompeo have been ridiculed by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan even before they have set foot on Turkish soil but that’s a badge of honour for the two who would defend president Donald Trump till the end of the world even if it tars a fresh coat on their reputation-for-ridicule as the most repulsive figure and worst secretary of state in the history of United States.

Both are on mission of “Saving Kurds” from Turkey which was facilitated in the first place by their boss himself who since then have swung from one extreme to other that would put a spider monkey and its prehensile tail to shame. Trump first questioned Kurds’ loyalty; then vowed to destroy Turkey’s economy and has now indicted latter’s state-owned Halkbank even though the real “sanction” is an eternity away.

This farce outrage for public consumption has been echoed across the Atlantic by the traditional European allies of the United States. European Union and NATO have bristled with fury, a whole lot of European nations, be it heavyweights Britain, France, Germany or lesser lights like Spain, Italy and Netherlands have put embargo on arms export but none of them have ventured to slap debilitating sanctions on Turkey. After all, who would risk millions of refugees dumped on their doorstep, and further beef-up the right-wingers in their own backyard?

Closer home, Erdogan chortled in glee when Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took days to condemn his incursion into Syrian territory even though it multiplied manifold the existential threat of the Jewish nation. Saudi Arabia took the potshot against Turkey behind the veil of Arab League, another sound of fury signifying nothing. Israel and Saudi Arabia can neither count on any tangible action from their “big brother” United States in their backyard—after all, what did US do on Aramco attack?---nor have the requisite muscle of their own now that Iran-Syria-Lebanon seem set to write new rules in the “great game” of the Middle East.

Syria has predictably moved forces in its troubled northeastern part but don’t be fooled it’s an operation against Turkey. Both are sidestepping each other’s toes in perfect harmony while a nervous world is being drummed the beats of World War III in their ears by the corrupt Western media. Nothing could be farther from truth.  Both would circle each other in ring but won’t throw a punch in anger: after all its’ referee Vladimir Putin who has every twitch of their muscles on his strings.

Did I miss United Nations? Or Australia? Or Egypt? Nor should you. The cheerleaders and their pom-pom in the piece so far is an essential guide. None of them give a damn to the fate of Kurds who not very long ago were being hailed as the saviours against the Islamic State (IS).

Meanwhile swoon on Erdogan at his bombastic best. He terms US “ugly”; warns Europeans to brace for refugees and tells everyone within his earshot that he stands “tall.” This is worth an Oscar for his domestic audience; a fillip to his loss in local elections in Istanbul in June; which came close on the heels of his drubbing in Ankara and other important cities like Adana, Antalya and Mersin in the March elections. The split in his own AKP (Justice and Development Party) is imminent. The less said about the economy the better: last summer’s balance of payments crisis hasn’t gone away; his son-in-law and finance minister Berat Albayrak is already an unmitigated disaster.

But Erdogan is safe till 2023 elections: his emergency rules allow him to use all the gross revenues. It allows him to talk of Operation Peace Spring against the Kurds; talk of war against terrorism even as he pummels and opens 78 investigations against those who dare to defy him on his move. Such is the farce which is inflicted on you and me; general citizens of the world. The duplicity of the West could shame the shameless but the naked Emperor. Meanwhile, rejoice at Russia which has allowed Syria and Iran to punch farther than their reach. It’s a seminal moment in Putin’s Russia: And it is not a farce.

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Sourav Ganguly becoming the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should please most but one person: Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of Bengal.

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Sourav Ganguly becoming the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should please most but one person: Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of Bengal.

Ganguly appears to be the latest pawn which Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has forwarded on the chessboard of Bengal politics by nudging him ahead of other claimants to the post of BCCI chief.

Till late on Saturday, Ganguly seemed resigned to conceding to Brijesh Patel the coveted post till a last-minute diplomacy, triggered by Union state minister Anurag Thakur, formerly a president of the BCCI himself, completely flipped the equation on its head.

Thakur apparently got Ganguly to visit Union home minister Amit Shah at latter’s residence in the Capital on Saturday night where a long-term deal appears to be have been struck.

The other two claimants, Brijesh Patel and Rajat Sharma, president of the Delhi cricket body, were nudged to make way for Ganguly.

Even though Ganguly and Mamata Banerjee share a cordial relationship and the thoroughfares of Kolkata are full of hoardings donning the two arguably the most well-known faces of Bengal, their equation is set to take a nosedive with this latest throw of dice of BJP in the state politics.

Ganguly is popular, charismatic and ambitious which works perfectly fine to BJP’s designs who are looking to wrest the state of Bengal from the clutches of Mamata Banerjee and her party, Trinamool Congress.

Ms Banerjee is already on a shaky ground following the 2019 General Elections in which BJP secured 18 to TMC’s 23 seats and all but caused one of the biggest upsets on India’s political landscape.

That performance catapulted BJP to 300-plus seats in the 2019 General Polls and raised distinct prospects of the party upsetting the TMC applecart in the 2021 assembly polls.

Left, which ruled for most years of independent India in the state, has already been cast aside and Congress has just a straw to hold on to in the turbulent waters of state politics. BJP is on a definite upswing while TMC is heading for a crash in the state.

Ms Banerjee, sensing the changing fortunes, has mellowed down considerably in her utterances and has discarded the politics of confrontation. She has hired the services of political maverick Prashant Kishor to rewire her crumbling image. She also has become a new enthusiast in warming up to Hindu constituents of her state. Whereas she used to disdainfully give preference to Muharram ahead of Durga Puja festivities, she was conspicuous with her presence in most “pandals” in the city of Kolkata during the recently held Durga Puja.

But the man of the moment is Sourav Ganguly, arguably India’s most charismatic cricket captain and the one who has defied odds on more than one occasion during his illustrious career.

Ganguly was seen as an “implant” into the Indian team, a no-gooder, before he stunned his detractors with two centuries in his first two Tests in England in 1996. He then steered Indian cricket through a difficult period of “match-fixing” in 2000 by leading a bunch of rookies to the final of the Champions Trophy in Nairobi, Kenya. He then successfully united Indian cricketers in taking on the might of the BCCI when players’ felt undone by controversial clauses in its contract ahead of the 2003 World Cup. He waged a personal battle against the then coach Greg Chappell who all but ended his cricket career with his vendetta politics. Ganguly rode the choppy waters, grinded his way through domestic cricket to make a stunning comeback in international cricket. He finally ended with 113 Tests  and nearly 19,000 international runs. His association with Sachin Tendulkar at the top of India’s one-day batting order is the stuff of legends.

Ganguly also has earned personal loyalty of a whole lot of cricketers who flourished during his reign. Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan etc all were part of a new and brave Indian cricket under Ganguly’s leadership.

Though Ganguly isn’t expected to be at the BCCI helm for long, he still is most likely to succeed in thwarting the attempts of International Cricket Council (ICC) to rob Indian cricket of its legitimate financial rewards. He also would do his best to abolish the often idiotic “conflict of interest” handle which the Committee of Administrators (CoA) used to beat the office-bearers with. Then there is the players’ body which would take his utmost attention. A cricketer at the helm of world’s richest cricket body is a good news anyway.

Still, the larger picture is one of politics. Now that he is the handpick of BJP, it’s easy to see how he could become the chief minister of Bengal in two years’ time. He has a magnetic hold on the people of the state and frankly already-tarnished Mamata Banerjee would be no match to his charisma, come the state assembly elections of 2021.

 

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They are everywhere, where their Western, Gulf states and Turkish handlers want them to be.

" ["content"]=> string(53269) "

They are everywhere, where their Western, Gulf states and Turkish handlers want them to be.

Their combat as well as political cells and units are based in Syria and Indonesia, in Turkey and occasionally in Egypt.

When they are told to kill, they murder with unimaginable brutality; decapitating, or cutting to pieces priests, infants, old women.

They are China’s worst nightmare. They are unleashing religious fundamentalism and foreign-sponsored militant nationalism and separatism. They are potentially the greatest obstacle and danger to President’s Xi Jinping’s marvelous BRI (Belt and Road Initiative).

Both the West and Turkey are glorifying them; the most extremist of Uyghurs. They are financing and arming them. They are labelling them as victims. Uyghurs are now a new ‘secret weapon’, to be used against Beijing’s determined march forward, towards socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The West and its allies are doing all they can, to smear China (PRC), to derail its progressive course, and to arrest its increasingly positive and optimistic influence on all the corners of the world. They invent and then support/finance all imaginable and unimaginable adversaries of the Communist Party of China. Religious sects are the favorite ‘weapon’ used against China by both North America and Europe. That is true about the extremists who belong to Tibetan Buddhism, concentrated around an agent and darling of the Western intelligence agencies, the Dalai Lama. Or yet another radical Buddhist/Taoist extremist sect – Falun Gong.

The West does everything in its power to destroy China. It was clearly detectable 30 years ago during the so-called Tiananmen Square Incident (an event supported by the West, and later twisted by Western mass media), as it has been obvious during two recent ‘rebellions’ in Hong Kong, fully sponsored by Western organizations (NGOs) and governments.

The latest chapter of the anti-Chinese attacks, conducted by the West, is perhaps the most dangerous, and the ‘best crafted’ multi-national onslaught against the interests of both China (PRC) and the developing world, particularly the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

It is the so-called Uyghur issue.

***

Uyghurs live predominantly in the northwest of China. They were recognized as ‘native’ in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. They belong to one of the 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities of China, and are predominantly of Muslim faith.

For decades, some Uyghurs fought for independence from China (before the Communist PRC was declared on October 1, 1949, there were at least two Uyghur independent states declared in the region, the one most known – the First East Turkestan Republic – with the help of the Soviet Union).

Since the formation of the PRC, China has offered equal rights and constantly improving standards of living to the Uyghur minority. However, several extremist Muslim factions have kept fighting, brutally, for a Turkic independent state. They have not been representing the majority of Uyghurs, but being against the PRC, have enjoyed moral and financial support from the West, its allies in Gulf states, and from Turkey.

Dr. Gaye Christofferson, wrote in September 2002, in her work “Constituting the Uyghur in U.S.-China Relations: The Geopolitics of Identity Formation in the War on Terrorism” how divisive the actions of the Uyghurs were on the territory of the PRC:

“Uyghur separatists and independence movements claim that the region is not a part of China, but that the Second East Turkestan Republic was illegally incorporated by the PRC in 1949 and has since been under Chinese occupation. Uyghur identity remains fragmented, as some support a Pan-Islamic vision, exemplified by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, while others support a Pan-Turkic vision, such as the East Turkestan Liberation Organization. A third group would like a “Uyghurstan” state, such as the East Turkestan independence movement. As a result, “[n]o Uyghur or East Turkestan group speaks for all Uyghurs, although it might claim to”, and Uyghurs in each of these camps have committed violence against other Uyghurs who they think are too assimilated to Chinese or Russian society or are not religious enough.”

This was before the big propaganda push from the West; during the years when even Western academia was still relatively free to assess the situation in Xinjiang.

But soon after, the North American and European policy changed and radicalized.

In the West, the Uyghur issue was designated as ‘central’ and ‘essential’ to achieve three main goals:

To smear and humiliate China, portraying it as a country that ‘violates human rights’, ‘religious rights’ and the rights of minorities.

Uyghurs were literally inserted by NATO countries, including Turkey, into several violent combat zones: in Syria, Afghanistan and Indonesia, to name just a few, with one sole purpose: to train and to harden its fighters, who could be later deployed as de-stabilizing factors in China, Russia and former Soviet Central Asian Republics.

To sabotage great infrastructural projects, particularly the BRI. BRI is the brainchild of China’s President Xi Jinping. High-speed rail links, highways and other infrastructural arteries would be going through Xingjian, towards east. If brutal terrorist attacks backed by the West and its Islamist allies, and perpetrated by the Uyghur terrorists, would shake the region, the entire project which has been created in order to help to improve life for the entire humanity, (by wrestling various poor and developing countries from deadly Western neo-colonialist embrace), could be jeopardized, even collapse.

But what is really happening?

For several years, I investigated this ‘issue’; in China and Syria, in Turkey, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Indonesia.

It is because I consider it to be one of the most important, and one of the most dangerous issue our planet is now facing.

I was able to trace patterns, and to find roots. What I discovered is disturbing and threatening. For China and for the world.

The “March of Uyghurs” is backed by “useful idiots”, all over the Western world, but also in Turkey, and elsewhere. They want to “defend victims”, but in this case, the ‘victims’ are actually ‘victimizers’ and usurpers.

Here I am putting my findings (and the findings of other colleagues and comrades) on the record. I do it so no one who is searching for truth would be able to say now or in ten years: “I did not know”, or “The information has not been available.”

Before we begin, let me point out how enormous the hypocrisy of the West is: The TIP (Turkistan Islamic Party, which is the militant wing of the Uyghur’s separatist Turkistan Islamic Movement (TIM)), has been designated as a terrorist organization by China. But not by China alone; also, by the European Union. Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Pakistan! The terrorists supported by the West and at least by part of its public, is designated as a terrorist organization by London, Brussels and Washington.

Using Western logic, it is obviously quite acceptable to train terrorists in Syria or Indonesia, for the horrible mass killing of Chinese people, but it is not acceptable to have them operate on the territory of European Union, or the United States.

The frontal Western attack against China and its actions in Xingjian began in 2018. Propaganda salvos were fired long before, but the ‘semi-official’ beginning of the ideological combat came in August 2018, when Reuters published a story with the title “UN says it has credible reports that China holds million Uighurs in secret camps.” It went like this:

“GENEVA (Reuters) – A United Nations human rights panel said on Friday that it had received many credible reports that 1 million ethnic Uighurs in China are held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.” 

Gay McDougall, a member of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, cited estimates that 2 million Uighurs and Muslim minorities were forced into “political camps for indoctrination” in the western Xinjiang autonomous region. 

“We are deeply concerned at the many numerous and credible reports that we have received that in the name of combating religious extremism and maintaining social stability (China) has changed the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of ‘no rights zone’,” she told the start of a two-day regular review of China’s record, including Hong Kong and Macao. 

China has said that Xinjiang faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists who plot attacks and stir up tensions between the mostly Muslim Uighur minority who call the region home and the ethnic Han Chinese majority.”

F. William Engdahl, lashed at the Reuters report on pages of New Eastern Outlook:

“In August Reuters published an article under the headline, “UN says it has credible reports that China holds million Uighurs in secret camps.” A closer look at the article reveals no official UN policy statement, but rather a quote from one American member of an independent committee that does not speak for the UN, a member with no background in China. The source of the claim it turns out is a UN independent advisory NGO called Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The sole person making the charge, American committee member Gay McDougall, stated she was “deeply concerned” about “credible reports.” McDougall cited no source for the dramatic charge.

Reuters in their article boosts its claim by citing a murky Washington DC based NGO, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). In an excellent background investigation, researchers at the Grayzone Project found that the CHRD gets hundreds of thousands of dollars from unnamed governments. The notorious US government NGO, National Endowment for Democracy, is high on the list of usual suspects. Notably, the CHRD official address is that of the Human Rights Watch which gets funds also from the Soros foundation.”

This is how the new chapter of anti-Chinese ideological attacks (and attempts to stop them) began.

And soon, they intensified. The Western propaganda apparatus unleashed dozens of articles, which, while claiming that China has been building several detention centers for Uyghurs in Xingjian, failed to provide any proof that extreme harsh measures were being applied against the religious and political extremists in Northwest China.

The most amateurish, speculation-based one, was printed on June 1, 2019, by The Telegraph (“China’s Uighur Muslims forced to eat and drink as Ramadan celebrations banned”):

“Beijing has long sought to arrest control of this resource-rich region where decades of government-encouraged migration of the Han – China’s ethnic majority – have fuelled resentment among Uighurs. The biggest outburst erupted in 2009 in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, resulting in 200 deaths.

Now, the ruling Communist Party has launched a propaganda campaign about snuffing out “criminal” and “terrorist” activity. All across Xinjiang – meaning “new frontier” – are bright red banners reminding people to fight illegal, “cult” behaviour, listing hotlines to report suspicious activity.

“Love the Party, love the country,” hangs a streamer at one mosque, just above the metal detector. A highway billboard proclaims, “Secretary Xi is linked heart-to-heart with Xinjiang minorities,” referring to Chinese president Xi Jinping.

The government is working to present an image of a happy, peaceful Xinjiang, in efforts to boost tourism and attract investment; this is the linchpin for Mr. Xi’s Belt and Road initiative.”

Many thinkers, however, have been bravely putting this kind of ‘reporting’ into context. My close friend and co-author of our book “China and Ecological Civilization”, a leading U.S. philosopher and progressive theologian, John Cobb Jr., has many years of involvement in China. He wrote for this reportage:

“A standard tactic of the U.S. government is to create situations in which another government has little choice but to use violence. Its use of violence is then treated as proof that “regime-change” is needed. Sometimes it even justifies war. The Iranians shooting down an American spy drone, for example, almost led to an overt American attack on Iran. China has been placed in such a situation with regard to one of its Islamic minorities. There is real danger that the Uighurs will use violence against China. China thus far has responded by an effort at massive, compulsory re-education which can be depicted as forcing citizens to spend much of their time in “concentration camps.” That the minority is Islamic is then used in American propaganda to imply that China persecutes religion. Propaganda can also create anti-Chinese feeling among religious people all over the world, and especially among Muslims both in China and elsewhere.  

If we think that anything that weakens those who refuse American domination is good, then we can admire the skill of the CIA. If we care for truth and justice, our task is to bring to light the cruelty and injustice of the subversion and the lies.”   

***

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ‘fell in love’ with Uyghurs when he served as the mayor of the country’s largest city – Istanbul. He erected a monument to them, and declared that the Turkish nation had roots in “Turkestan”.

He allowed hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs to migrate to Turkey.

Being a NATO-member country and at least in the past, one of the closest allies of the United States, Turkey readily helped the West with its colorful anti-Chinese campaign.

But that was not all. Far from it. NATO nations and their ultra-religious allies in the Gulf, decided to overthrow the Arab-socialist government in Damascus, Syria. Turkey readily participated in the ‘project’ from the very beginning, sacrificing its historic ties with the Assad family.

As early as in 2012, I investigated, with the help of the Turkish translator of my books, the so-called refugee camps in the border area of Hatay (with its ancient capital of Antakya). While several camps were truly serving as refugee centers, others like Apaydin, were training Syrian terrorists, as well as foreign jihadi fighters.

Xxx

In those days, Serkan Koc, a leading Turkish left-wing documentary filmmaker, who has produced several groundbreaking works on the subject of the “Syrian opposition”, explained to me in Istanbul:

“Of course, you do realize that those people are not really ‘Syrian opposition.’ They are modern-day legionnaires collected from various Arab countries, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, paid by Western imperialist powers. Some are members of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Most are militant Sunni Muslims. One could describe them as rogue elements hired to fight the Assad government.”

With help of the Mr. Koc’s contacts in Hatay, I managed to establish, as early as in 2012 and 2013, that some of the ‘legionnaires’ were actually Uyghurs. I also received confirmation that they were being smuggled from the Hatay area ‘camps’ directly into Syria, fully armed and equipped.

Terrorists were also trained at the NATO air force facility ‘Incerlik’, near the city of Adana. Exactly how many Uyghurs went through that air base, has so far not been established.

On the Syrian war front, the toughest, the most brutal and the most dangerous assassins in the presently terrorist-controlled area of Idlib, are Uyghurs. But this fact will be addressed in the following chapter of this report.

***

In Istanbul, I teamed-up with my colleague and comrade, Erkin Oncan, a leading Turkish journalist and thinker, who presently works for Sputnik. For years, he has been reporting on the movement of the Uyghurs.

Together, we visited the Zeitinburnu neighborhood on the outskirts of Istanbul, where we met Erkin’s colleagues, who took us on a ‘tour’ of significant Uyghur ‘landmarks’, including the office where Uyghurs have been recruited, allowed to work semi-legally, and then, many of them, sent to Syria and Iraq.

There are approximately 50,000 Uyghurs living in Turkey (10 million live in China and all over the world). Zeitinburnu, has the greatest concentration of Uyghurs in the country. Here they own businesses, restaurants. Old people enjoy a relaxed life, drinking tea and leading endless conversations in public places.

But this tranquil mood is only a façade. Here is where many Uyghurs arrive. From here, they get injected abroad, where they learn their deadly ‘trade’, how to become hardened and merciless fighters. They go to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or as far as Indonesia.

As early as on April 9, 2015, BGNNews.com in Istanbul, reported:

“The network is based out of Zeytinburnu, a district on Istanbul’s European side which is home to a community of Uighurs who live in Turkey. It is headed by Nurali T, a businessman who has been facilitating the movement of Uighurs from China to Syria and Iraq via Turkey since 2011. He is known by his code name Abbas. An individual who works for him, AG, says that a total of 100,000 fake Turkish passports have been produced, 50,000 of which have been shipped to China to be handed to fighters recruited to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)”.

According to the article Uighurs are joining the fight, traveling from China through Thailand and Cambodia before reaching Malaysia, which has no visa requirements with Turkey. A fee of USD 200 is taken from the recruits.

The fighters then spend a night in Istanbul in motels, hotels or safe-house apartments before heading to Turkey’s Southeast and East the next day to cross into Syria and Iraq.

The individuals carrying fake passports are often caught at the airport in Istanbul. As to why they have been able to enter Turkey and not get deported, AG says, “Turkey has secret dealings with the Uighurs. The authorities first confiscate the passports but then release the individuals.”

Erkin and his friend talk about the present situation in Turkey. And about what Uyghurs are expected to achieve:

“Members of TIP – Turkistan Islamic Party – are repeatedly saying that ‘in Syria we are training for jihad, and we will go back to China, and fight.”

The question is, how would Uyghur fighters be moved back to China; from both Turkey, but especially from Syria?

Erkin replied:

“My theory is, that China is on high alert, and if the fighters would be sent first from Syria to Turkey, and then to China, it could be done only if the ID’s were changed and falsified. Because China has names, it has lists, and it has information. If Turkey decides to secretly change their ID’s, and sends them to China, it could be possible, but, as you said yourself earlier, the Afghan route is also possible. The IS fighters are also gathering there, the TIP is gathering there, in Afghanistan; some parts of the Western Afghanistan tip, which is not far from the border with China. I think that TIP will try to go directly to China, but most of the attempts will fail. They will attack from Afghanistan. As you know, Russia recently declared that the IS has formed a new caliphate in Afghanistan, which would fortify the jihadi climate in the country. Turkey will try to send a number of Uyghur fighters there, although I don’t know how many.

I also think that Turkey will try to divide Uyghurs into two groups. You know that Uyghurs always travel with their families. Sending them anywhere with the families is very hard. But sending fighters first, and then ‘deporting’ the families, is another thing. Deporting the families could be done under ‘humanitarian cover’. So, I think, the fighters will go first, secretly, and then, families will be deported.”

But where would the families be ‘deported’ to? To China?

 “Yes, because in Izmir and Hatay, Uyghurs are taken care of by the Turkish government. There are always, exclusively, women and children, but no men.”

On June 2019, I went back to both Hatay and Izmir, just to confirm what I was told in Zeitinburnu.

But before that, we traveled to Aksaray in Istanbul; to one of the notorious Uyghur restaurants, owned by an AKP member. Uyghurs are managing the place. It is the place where separatist leaders meet, regularly; every month, or at least every second month. The former boss of this place was arrested on charges of human trafficking. My colleagues explain: “We have no idea what charges, exactly, or what happened to him? If he was still in prison, we would definitely know.”

The Police HQ is very close to this eatery, which I do not want to identify by name, at least not for this report; not yet. Paradoxically, some members of the police force who are supposed to be tracking down human trafficking, regularly gather here. So too, naïve Chinese tourists in search of good spicy Chinese food from the Northwest of their country.

I am told:

“According to my source here, police once spotted a human trafficking cell here, but did nothing… Police is actually controlling these cells, even giving new names to those who are supposed to be sent to Syria. Police is in charge, and the government officials actually know who is going to Syria, name by name. Some profits from this, and from other restaurants like this one, are going directly to the Uyghur separatist association.”

Actually, there are many restaurants like this, but this one is the HQ for the Istanbul area. It tries to stay humble, not flashy, with hardly any signs in Arabic.”

I am also explained to:

“All of our sources confirm the same: ‘Police and the state/government know everything, and they make sure to control the action.”

Governing and mainly right-wing nationalist and pro-Western opposition parties in Turkey are all supporting the Uyghurs. The Opposition even more than the ruling AKP, so there is very little chance that the policy will get reversed anytime soon.

Most of the Turkish media outlets echo Western sources, and are openly hostile towards China.

However, the government does not want to antagonize China, openly. It has some cooperation, at least when it comes to the tracking of criminal activities.

One thing has changed, I was told by Abdulkadir Yapcan, who covers legal issues related to Uyghurs:

“If China provides IDs and names, Turkey will investigate and press charges. If China fails to provide detailed information, Turkey will do absolutely nothing. This is at least some change, since 2016. Although, so far, there was only one case…”

Uyghurs have gone violent, even in Turkey, on several occasions. The most documented ones were an attack against the Thai consulate in Istanbul in 2015, and an attack on a nightclub in Zeitinburnu, in which 39 people lost their lives, mainly Turkish and Saudi citizens.

On the outskirts of Kabul and Jalalabad in Afghanistan, I regularly encounter people who are escaping from the increasing presence of ISIS in various parts of the country. Some are now forced to live in the camps for internally displaced people, like that in Bagrami, just on the outskirts of the capital.

My sources in the country are speaking clearly about the movement of the jihadi cadres (mostly ISIS) from Syria to Afghanistan. Among them are, as expected, Uyghurs.

These individuals arrive after being fully trained. They are battle-ready, indoctrinated and extremely brutal, even by the standards of Afghanistan; a country which has been battered by civil wars and invasions.

The proximity of Afghanistan to China, with which it has a short border in the east, but also to the former Soviet Central Asian Republics (Afghanistan has borders with Turkmenistan Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), is making it an ideal group to be used for subversion against China, Russia and the Central Asian republics.

It is essential to understand, that China’s BRI is designed to connect China with the entire world, using several infrastructural corridors, some of which would be following the old Silk Roads, passing through Central Asia, cutting through Iran, Pakistan but also Afghanistan. The city of Urumqi, and Xingjian Province generally, will be some of the most important hubs. Those in the West who want to disrupt this, perhaps, the most important global project, are strategically using Uyghur separatists, terrorists and religious fanatics, to bring uncertainty, even chaos, to this part of the world.

Several top al-Qaeda members such as Abu Yahya al-Libi, and Mustafa Setmariam Nasar ─ who had met Uyghurs in Afghanistan where they trained as mujahidin ─ have expressed personal support to their cause’. The Uyghurs East Turkestan independence movement was also personally endorsed in the serial “Islamic Spring’s 9th release” by Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the chief of Al-Qaeda.

It is also important to recall that during the Battle of Kunduz in Afghanistan (in 2015), foreign Islamist militants joined both Taliban and ISIS, in an assault on the city. Among them were Uyghur as well as Chechen, Rohingya, Kyrgyz, Tajik, and Uzbek.

TIP is fighting in Syria and elsewhere, but the organization’s leadership is based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but with most of its members operating illegally on the territory of People’s Republic of China.

Uyghurs are encouraged to murder, and the are trained and hardened in Syria. 

A lady, a mother of three, is sitting on the porch of her temporary home, in the Syrian city of As Suqaylabiyah. She slowly recounts the horrors she had to live through, before escaping from her village in the Idlib area:

“The terrorists who committed mass murder in my town, are Uyghurs. My cousins and other relatives, were killed. By Uyghurs; yes, by them. In April, 2014. They were shot. We stood against them, trying to defend ourselves. Then they began killing us, first in the fight, then in revenge. After that, they cut off heads of those they murdered.”

“Were they the most brutal of the terrorists,” I asked.

“Yes. From north to south, from east to west of Idlib province. They are monstrous. They are under the command, under control of Nusra Front. They kidnap soldiers, and kill them brutally. They kill entire families and kill them in a way I cannot even describe. The easiest death is when they shoot and then behead you. They are like monsters.”

She knows. She escaped them by a miracle:

“I still remember; I fled with what was left of my family, at 4am. Uyghurs were killing, and so were Indonesians; totally brainwashed, mad. You know, my family consists of teachers; teachers of Arabic language. I have 3 children. They were not going to spare anyone…”

I met Ms. Noora Al Khadour and 17 years old daughter, Naia, from the Kafer Nboudah village:

“We are terribly scared of Uyghurs; of their crimes. I don’t even want to remember what has happened. Although I know that I have to speak to you; to people like you… in order to stop all that madness. You know, I had to flee with my four children, on a motorbike, like in some crazy movie…”

She tries to find words, how to begin:

“First: we had to switch off our brains, in order to survive. What was happening was far from ‘normal’. It was horror. It is almost impossible to describe… I am just a simple woman. They entered our town and began beheading. Shooting… Their faces; their expressions – your heart stops thinking about them. I am so lucky that during that night I did not lose any family members, because we escaped almost immediately.”

I ask, whether Uyghurs and their TIP are using narcotics, when they attack villages. My question triggers a huge discussion.

“Definitely,” Ms. Noora replied. “They could not act like this, if they were in a ‘normal’ state.”

My friend, Anas, who is accompanying me, chips in:

“My friend from the SAA (Syrian Arab Army) told me that the pockets of the jackets of the terrorists are always full of drugs. Uyghurs are using captagon.”

Soldiers standing by, confirm that whenever a terrorist is captured, his pockets are full of ‘combat drugs’.

I am wondering, in horror, what would a well-trained platoon of TIP terrorists do if it were to overrun a village in China. In the two last decades, Uyghur separatists carried out hundreds of terrorist attacks in China, killing countless people. But they never held an entire village anywhere in the PRC.

In As Suqaylabiyah I sit across a table from the commander of NDF (National Defense Force), Nabel Al-Abdallah. We speak Russian. He takes me; drives me, to the frontline, all the way to the edge, where Al Nusra positions are clearly visible. Then he invites me back, to this beautiful part of Syria, when “all this madness is over”.

Back at his command center, he explains:

“We are not afraid of Uyghurs, but we are taking their threat very seriously. Look, inside the Idlib area which is controlled by them, terrorism ‘grows’. If, after improving his combat skills here, a fighter returns to China, it would represent a tremendous danger. Uyghurs are the worst fighters; the toughest fighters. And right in front of us – Idlib – is the world capital of terror. It is a laboratory of terrorism. There are terrorists from all over the world. There, Uyghurs are learning the deadliest trades.”

He pauses, offers me aromatic Syrian tea. Then continues with his thoughts:

“Uyghur terrorists are targeting our people. They are brutalizing them. If we do not have solutions, soon, terrorists will damage the entire world. Our problem is not just Uyghurs and ISIS, not only TIP or Nusra. Our problem is the ideology which they represent. They use Islam, they commit barbarity in the name of Islam, but all this is backed by the United States and the West. The Syrian Army and National Defense Forces are sacrificing their soldiers for the world, not just for this country.”

There are conflicting reports, as for how many Uyghurs fighters are still inside Syria. The generally accepted number is around 2,000, but that includes families.

Commander Nabel clarified:

“400 to 500 fighters are now in Idlib area. And all international terrorists based in Idlib are under Al-Nusra Front command. They are supported by Qatar, United States, Saudis, and Turkey. Officers of the U.S. intelligence are there – inside my country. There are Turkish observation points, Turkish military forces.”

Again, I am being driven along the front line. I visited several Syrian positions and towns, including As Suqaylabiyah. It is still war here, around Idlib – real, tough war. Mortars are exploding not far from us, and landmines are being discovered and defused in the vicinity. People are dying; they still are.

Near Muhradah, at the Mahardah Power Station which was recently liberated by the SAA, soldiers discovered several charred bodies. I was told, they were most likely “Asian” terrorists. But were they Indonesians or Uyghurs, nobody could tell.

The leader of the National Syrian Defense in Muhradah, clarified:

“Uyghurs are tough fighters. They are under Al-Nusra front. They are very evasive, operating under different names. They are all there – inside – in Idlib. When Idlib falls, they will fall together with it.”

I am shown maps.

Most likely, when all this is over, the Uyghurs will be “moved” elsewhere. Back to Turkey, to Afghanistan, or, if nothing is done to stop them, back to China.

A Syrian analyst who does not want to be identified, wrote for this essay:

“Danger of Uyghurs operating in Syria is multi-faceted:

“First of all, they can form no part of any integral solution, because they do not belong to Syria. One way or the other, their presence is harmful; dividing the country. The latest information about their deployment here is clearly showing that they are intentionally being used by Turkey, in order to prevent the SAA from regaining control over Idlib. Back in 2016, the SAA tried to infiltrate the territory all the way to Jisr ash-Shugur, in Idlib, from Latakia countryside. But all military actions failed, due to the might of the TIP (Turkistan Islamic Party) which is operating in the area. It is good to mention here that the TIP spearheaded the attacks on all SAA posts in Jisr ash-Shugur and committed massacres there.

The second issue is: a direct threat to the Chinese interests in the region. with intimidations being spread online and posted via the accounts linked to “Malhama Tactical” (The group, founded by a pseudonymous Uzbek jihadist called Abu Rofiq, operating in Syria, supporting anti-government terrorist forces* note of the author). There is also great danger of the Uyghurs returning back to China and recruiting hundreds of youth extremist, separatist fighters, who could then decide to initiate attacks against the PRC.

For the reasons mentioned above, China has to be involved in all the efforts to neutralize such threats. And the world has to understand its defensive actions.

***

Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country, has been, since the 1965 US and UK backed right-wing military coup, a staunch ally of the West. Communism and atheism are banned there, and the most extreme and grotesque forms of capitalism are practiced all over the archipelago. Racism in Indonesia is fabled; the country has committed three genocides since 1965, including the on-going one in the occupied West Papua.

The Chinese minority was always the target of countless pogroms and discrimination. This began in the era of Dutch colonialism, and continues until now.

On top of it, most of the Indonesian Muslims are practicing the increasingly intolerant, radical Sunni Wahhabi Islam, with roots in Saudi Arabia (Wahhabism was developed with the substantial help of the British imperialists).

Right-wing, religious, pro-business Indonesia has generally seen China (PRC) as an enemy. Right after the 1965 coup, tens of thousands of Chinese people were murdered in cold blood, hundreds of thousands were enslaved, countless women gang-raped, millions forced to change names, abandon their native language, character and culture. Many elements in the Indonesian regime and apparatus have enthusiastically joined the West in its new crusade to destabilize Beijing and its internationalist vision for the world.

The Uyghurs have become the perfect tool for the anti-Beijing combat. According to Pak Wawan from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia (not his real name), some Uyghurs began commuting from China to Turkey and eventually Syria with the fake Turkish passports, as early as one decade ago. This bewildered some Indonesian immigration officers, at the main international airport in Jakarta. But the ‘confusion’ was soon clarified, and the Uyghurs were allowed to proceed; to continue on their deadly march.

Pak Wawan told me more, during our encounter in the West Javanese city of Bandung:

“There were ‘friendships’ forged between the Uyghurs and local, Indonesian, Islamist radicals. Some Indonesian people even travelled to Urumqi. Connections have been forged, and eventually many travelled to Indonesia, for ideological work, fundraising and combat training. These contacts and links go way back to the times when both sides were based in Mecca, Medina, Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia. The visa regime between the two countries (Indonesia and China) is relatively lax, and so, people from TIP have been able to enter Indonesia hassle free. Once here, most of them became imams, but others went on to join camps and get training as jihadi fighters, particularly in the middle of the Island of Sulawesi.”

 

Pak Wawan continues:

“These people have a huge network. They also have networks in Thailand and Malaysia. Recently, they deported them from Pattaya, Thailand. Most of their cadres had studied at various religious universities, mostly in the Saudi Arabia, or at least somewhere in the Middle East.

When they come to Indonesia, they carry with them a book of propaganda, as well as videos, with the aim of boiling mistrust and hate towards China. Among other things, the book says that the Chinese people are: kafir (“ingratitude” (toward God)), and that they are najis (dirty). The book is calling for the banning (again) of all symbols of Chinese culture.”

It is a tremendously racist, violent book. Similar texts have been distributed in Indonesia against Shi’a Muslims, with the predictable help of Saudi Arabia.

According to Pak Wawan:

“In Indonesia, it is estimated that there are some 200 Uyghur students, with the main purpose, to work as ustads/imams (religious clerics), and to infiltrate the system. Some are simply trapped here. Some of them are involved in subversive activities, together with the members of the Indonesian jihadists. Their goal is to go back to Syria, and eventually to China.”

In the restive island of Sulawesi, there are expected to be several Uyghur fighters, still on the loose, although four of them were caught, tried and sentenced to lengthy terms in prison (in 2015), for joining the radical terrorist group Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT or East Indonesia Mujahedeen) with its leader Santoso aka Pakde aka Abu Wardah. The Santoso group has already pledged allegiance to ISIS under the leadership of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

The imprisonment of 4 Uyghurs in Indonesia in 2015, could be interpreted as a change of course by Jokowi’s administration. The same as Turkey, Indonesia has been the victim of deadly terrorist attacks, and begins to see the Wahhabi jihadi cadres as a danger. Also, the attitude towards China is starting to change, as least in the recent years. China is seen as a partner, mainly when it comes to investment into the collapsing Indonesian infrastructure.

But it is still a confusing situation.

Some Uyghurs are arriving, lately via the International airport in Manado, Sulawesi. Others are travelling by boat, from the Muslim part of the Philippines.

What is significant is that the delegations from two major Indonesian Muslim organizations – NU (Nahdlatul Ulama – the largest independent Muslim organization in the world) and Muhammadiyah – were invited to Urumqi in China, shown around, and at the end declared publicly, that there is no oppression of the Muslims in China.

It became clear that those who were continuing to spread anti-Chinese rumors in Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia, were financed and supported from abroad.

Rossie Indira, an Indonesian writer and publisher, who has been helping with this report, visited several radical groups in Java, as well as the leading politicians, who flatly refused to smear China on behalf of the West.

Of course, the hardened Islamist organizations never changed their tune. Mr. Atip Latiful Hayat, Chairman of the Expert Council of ANNAS Indonesia (Anti-Shia National Alliance), spoke to Ms. Rossie Indira about ‘human rights’ and the oppression of Muslims by the PRC. ANNAS Indonesia openly declared that “Balikpapan Muslims will support both morally and materially any strive for the liberation of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province of China.”

Mr. Okta, from the program department of ACT, an NGO from West Java, which used to be heavily involved in collecting money and goods for the Uyghurs, declared that the issue is not their priority, anymore.

Dina Suleiman, a legendary Indonesian academic and writer, who regularly defends both Syria and Iran, stated for this report:

 “ACT published its yearly report, but we could not find details on where all the money went. They only published that a certain amount was donated to countries outside Indonesia, but no details. An accountant friend of mine looked into their published reports and said that they (ACT) used all kinds of terminology to validate using the percentage of donations for their own needs. He told me that it could be that up to 60% of the donations were used for their own needs.”

A typical case of endemic Indonesian corruption? In this case: good. Better if money gets stolen, than if it was to reach Uyghur extremists!

Mr. Inas N. Zubir, the Chairman of the Hanura Faction in the House of Representatives is part of the faction in the Indonesian political system, that is openly questioning what is behind the smearing of the Chinese government in connection with the Uyghur ‘issue’. He spoke to Ms. Rossie Indira, recently, for this report:

“Indonesian people have to be careful when they hear about the problems related to Uyghur Muslims, because the news about the alleged discriminatory treatment by the Chinese government that has been lately circulating, only came from the international media and a number of western NGOs. Meanwhile, a number of western countries were later found to have less harmonious relations with China.”

“The Central Committee of Muhammadiyah (by its Chairman, Haedar Nasir) met with the Chinese Muslim Association (Vice President of the association: Abdullah Amin Jin Rubin) in September 2018. Abdullah Amin Jin Rubin had denied the above allegations. He stated that Muslims in China as a whole, including Uighurs, had the same freedom and received good treatment from the government. The proof is: in Xinjiang, where the Uighurs are located, there are 28,000 mosques and more than 30,000 imams to lead prayers. Even in Xinjiang, the government participates in supporting the establishment of Islamic College. So, the religious life of Muslims is good.”

“I suspected that the issue of discriminatory treatment of Uighur Muslims was deliberately raised by certain parties in the country to discredit Joko Widodo’s government. I think the opposition intentionally portrays Joko Widodo’s government as a government that does not care about the suffering of Uighur Muslims.”

***

 

Several jihadi cells in the Philippines and Malaysia are also pledging support to the Uyghur extremists.

During the year 2017, the jihadi cadres (mainly ISIS) attacked and overran the city of Marawi, on Mindanao Island, Philippines. What followed was a prolonged battle between the military and the terrorists. I was told by the army commanders that among the dead militants, there were several “foreign fighters”. Some were Indonesians, others came from Malaysia. It was indicated to me that there were ‘others’, particularly from China, although there was no concrete confirmation about the Uyghurs.

And what is it that the Chinese media, and the Chinese people have to say on the subject? Naturally, it is not easy to find much of non-Western voices, in the propagandist anti-Chinese cacophony carried by outlets such as Yahoo News or Google.

As early as in 2013, China Daily published an article by Li Xiaoshuang named “Western media’s coverage on Xinjiang worthless”. It passionately expressed what the North American and European mass media has been trying to silence, for over a decade:

“The Western media has become the propaganda machine for the Uyghur separatists.

As a Xinjiang native, I am outraged by the false reports in Western press about what has happened in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region during the month of Ramadan, a time of fasting for Muslims all over the world…

Citing just a Uyghur activist as the only news source, the reports accuse Chinese authorities of banning Muslims from fasting and praying in mosques, coupled with biased commentary that the Chinese government is suppressing Uyghur ethnic groups and transferring huge numbers of Han Chinese into Xinjiang to dilute the Uyghur culture.

Without first-hand accounts, not mentioning repeated clarifications from the Xinjiang government, how dare these media outlets be so irresponsible? How can the world learn the whole truth?

It reminds me of the riot in the region on June 26, leaving 27 people dead. It was definitely a massacre, but some Western media, as they have done so before, described the attacks as part of an ethnic conflict. They portray terrorists who betray their religion by killing innocent people as “heroes”, seeking religious or political freedom…”

On March 20, 2019, Xie Wenting and Bai Yunyi of Global Times reported with much more urgency:

“Misleading headlines, groundless accusations, obscure interviewees, double standards are not hard to spot in many articles covering China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Western media outlets.

Recent months have seen an intensive outburst of such reports which have tainted China’s anti-terrorism efforts in the region by adopting tactics including using words with a negative connotation, providing incomplete information and stirring readers’ emotions.” 

Xie Wenting, Bai Yunyi, SARA, Xian,

According to the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), there are more than 21 million Muslims in  China. According to SARA there are approximately 36,000 Islamic places of worship, more than 45,000 imams, and 10 Islamic schools in the country. In China, Islam has some interesting nuances: for instance, there are mosques led by female imams, there. All over China, halal food is available, and actually very popular. Many people show great interest in Muslim culture, at least theoretically.

During my 2018 visit to the Chinese city of Xian, I was impressed by the great effort the Chinese government has been making, to support Muslim culture in this historical center of multi-culturalism, from which, centuries ago, the legendary Silk Road had been initiating. Islamic civilization, its music, food, centers of worship and architecture are now the greatest magnet, bringing tens of millions of visitors from all over China.

I clearly saw that there was no discrimination in Xian. My conclusions were the same as those of the emissaries of two Muslim mass movements of Indonesia, who were allowed to visit Xinjiang. We found no brutal treatment of the Muslim and their religion in China.

***

It often appears to me, and to other experts on China, that the Chinese people and even the Chinese government, do not know how to defend themselves against the vicious and totally unfair attacks against their country; attacks which are coming from abroad.

China “wants peace”. It is offering friendship. But it is insulted, constantly attacked and humiliated in return.

The truth is obvious: The West does not desire peace. It does not care about justice. It never did. It only wants to control. For as long as China is doing well; better than the West; for as long as its political and social system are becoming more and more popular, all over the world, and particularly in developing countries, Washington, Paris, London, Berlin, but also Tokyo, will never stop, attacking and provoking Beijing.

In order to prosper, and even in order to survive, the Chinese Dragon will have to fight. Only a defeated, humiliated and conquered China would be ‘accepted’ by the West. A China which respects itself and helps others, will be attacked and brutalized by the West.

The great Chinese poet, Su Shi (1037-1101) once wrote: “The scenery varies when people watch from close or far, or from different sides.” What he meant was that Mount Lushan will not show its true features just because we are right in the mountains.

The same could be written about politics. Just because one lives in China, it does not guarantee that he or she would be able to fully understand the viciousness and determination of the anti-Chinese attacks, which are conducted by the foreign adversaries. Also he or she would not necessarily realize why they are being conducted.

The attacks against China are not only of an economic or military nature. Religions are some of the mightiest weapons of the China’s foes. Be it radical Buddhism, evangelical Protestant Christianity, or, as now, radical Islam.

China has to defend itself, by all means. Extremist Uyghurs are marching. Many of them are brutal, and extremely dangerous. They have already murdered thousands of innocent people, in various countries. Their goal is to break the integrity of China and its great internationalist projects. They are determined, well-funded, and thoroughly selfish. Their desire for ‘independence’ has been ignited and financed by foreign powers.

The plan of the extremist Uyghurs is simple: to perfect terrorist and extremist tactics, and combat skills abroad, then return to China and begin spreading the nightmare at home.

The West is readily “helping” to fuel their deadly march. China’s Ecological Civilization, the end of poverty in the most populous country on earth, and BRI, are seen as a danger to Western supremacy, at least in places such as Washington, London and Brussels.

China has all the right to defend itself. It has a full obligation to do so.

It is the duty of thinkers from all over the world to tell the truth. If they stay silent, or if they sell their dignity for money and privileges, as so many in the West are doing right now, they will be condemned by future generations.

(Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including China and Ecological Civilization. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”)

 

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How one would love to be a fly on the wall when Indian prime minister Narendra Modi sits down with Chinese premier Xi Jinping for an informal one-to-one meeting in Mahablipuram, 56km south of Chennai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu today.. There would be no joint declarations, only separate statements but a few conjectures could straightaway be put to rest.

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How one would haved loved to be a fly on the wall when Indian prime minister Narendra Modi sat down with Chinese premier Xi Jinping for an informal one-to-one meeting in Mahablipuram, 56km south of Chennai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on Friday. There would be no joint declarations, only separate statements on Saturday but a few conjectures could straightaway be put to rest.

China would rake up Kashmir which has put its junior ally Pakistan in a state of convulsion. The “Middle Kingdom” may have used the forum of the United Nations to stand by Pakistan; and only a few hours preceding this Summit, Xi Jinping may have drummed similar music in the ears of Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan but China has a much bigger pie in mind than treating an ally’s issue as its own. It may have benefitted from Pakistan’s largesse of providing a route to its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and sure the reorganization of Ladakh in the rearranged Jammu and Kashmir might raise its hackles on the border disputes but these pale in front of a few overarching issues.

The biggest issue confronting China is the hostility of the United States.  It is a conflict between two world views: US which wishes to impose its unipolar diktat and China which is a beacon of a multipolar world. Nations around the world ought to be free to pursue their own interests but Mr Trump would like it to be subservient to US agenda. It runs contrary to the world trade order or global issues such as climate change. US also pursues a policy of nailing China down in South China seas through its allies Japan, Australia and New Zealand and has a mind to drag India in its corner.

India has needed United States more than it ever did in the wake of its action in Kashmir. A hostile US would virtually put India hang out to dry. It could rake up the hostility of corporate global media which is managed by Western powers and create domestic troubles for Mr Modi. India knows it is not beyond the United States to create a Hong Kong-like mischief in its metropolises. India is also mindful of the foul play which International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank (WB) are perfectly capable of.

Yet, it is a fact that India doesn’t want to let go on its deep-rooted, long-standing affair with Russia. It has stood the test of time. Modi is also mindful that the trade between India and China is now close to $100 billion though admittedly heavily in favour of its more powerful neighbour. There is a whole lot of potential which exists between two dominant powers of Asia that houses 2.7 billion people. The mutual visits between its two people crossed 1 million in number last year. Ideologically too Modi is a proponent of a multipolar global order and would hate to compromise on Iran even though snuggling up to Saudi Arabia is a necessity to isolate Pakistan in the Muslim world.

Even though the Xi’s visit to India is informal, both sides would be flanked by their foreign ministers and other important functionaries. India would look for China to go easy on Kashmir lest it's pushed deeper into US arms. It’s in China’s interests too that India doesn’t become a vassal of the United States. Modi’s India would like to be free to pursue its own goals. He after all rides a powerful mandate.

On his part, Modi could do a lot to bring a wider smile on the face of Xi Jinping. The Chinese premier has shown the vision of a statesman in seeking out India within a few days of 70th celebration of its republic. There is a need for India to assuage China’s two major claims on territory which India terms as its own. It would be in consonance with the first informal meeting between the two leaders in Wuhan last April. Modi must also be seen by Xi as a firm adherent of a multi-polar order. It’s time the writ of the United States doesn’t run large. 

This is a “Summit” between the leaders of India and China, an occasion when two immensely popular and strong-willed leaders could rise above irritants and shape human history. They have a choice to be bogged down and be at each other’s throats which would thrill Western powers no end up. Or they could checkmate the imperialists by shaping the next century in the company of their trusted friend Russia. One doesn’t have to be a fly on the wall to know that Mahabalipuram would be nothing but Wuhan 2.0.

 

 

 

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Pollution in Delhi will be a toxic matter in the assembly elections in next few months. The Capital turns into a toxic gas chamber in winter primarily due to crop stubble burning in north India as polluted air hangs overhead on a surface which is lower than the adjoining regions. Crowded streets with vehicles don’t help as do the open trucks carrying construction materials and blowing dust particles around.

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Pollution in Delhi will be a toxic matter in the assembly elections in next few months. The Capital turns into a toxic gas chamber in winter primarily due to crop stubble burning in north India as polluted air hangs overhead on a surface which is lower than the adjoining regions. Crowded streets with vehicles don’t help as do the open trucks carrying construction materials and blowing dust particles around.

The cost of pollution in the Capital is no longer a secret. The air quality of Delhi and NCR is among the very worst which World Health Organization (WHO) found in its survey of 1600 cities. Air pollution is the fifth largest killer in India costing 1.5 million lives every year. In Delhi, poor air quality damages the lungs of 50 percent or 2.2 million children.

So when the air quality improved by 25 per cent there was no way Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was going to let go his moment. Every newspaper you flip open you see a full-page ad with Kejriwal in his benign-est smile; like a wolf who has the best of manners before it pounces. Kejriwal is thumping his chest by claiming it’s been due to 24x7 electricity supply which has reduced the usage of generators and heavy fines which he has imposed on construction sites in violation of dust control norms. He has another ace of odd-even scheme for cars next month to make profit of.

Of course Mr Kejriwal is not honest enough to admit the air improvement has largely been due to Delhi’s wind blowing in easterly direction. All this is set to change next week when the wind would start blowing north-westernly. This would bring in the dusty air to the Capital region. Stubble-burning would then bring its weight to bear on Delhi NCR. That the monsoon is still in a retreating mode had also considerably cleared the Capital air. But then monsoon is not here forever—it would go in next few days.

This is not the only noise Kejriwal has made on the pollution front. He has launched an online campaign where he is asking residents to chip in with their suggestions to reduce pollution in the Capital. This is participatory governance, like the one he did in his first term as Delhi chief minister by severing the arrangement with Congress. Then too he had apparently acted on people’s express opinion. Much has flown down the dirty Yamuna in the last few years though.

The regulatory bodies for pollution, like the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA), unfortunately for Kejriwal, are putting out facts as they are. It has told the Delhi administration that 13 hotspots in the Capital need “immediate” attention. Open waste burning and industrial pollution have been identified as two unattended issues. Delhi administration in response has promised it would soon have camera-fitted drones to monitor instances of garbage burning and indusrial emissions in the city. But then promises come easy to politicians.The 13 “dangerous” hotspots for immediate action in the Capital have been identified: It’s Okhla, Narela, Mundka, Dwarka, Punjabi Bagh, Bawana, Wazirpur, Rohini, Vivek Vihar, Anand Vihar, RK Puram, Ashok Vihar and Jahangirpuri.

The truth is Delhi would soon gasp for breath. These advertisements featuring Kejriwal in his best pose would soon disappear. The residents would look for their own options: have masks on face, stay indoors or worse, bring it on. Every year we hear the same noise on crop stubble burning and nothing happens.. There are no plans to educate the masses on their responsibility. All we have is a chameleon of a chief minister beaming at us in the newspapers, claiming credit for 25 per cent reduction in air pollution when the real menace hasn’t even set in. We all have been fooled once by his rehearsed “innocence”, let us not be suckers again.

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The first of 36 Rafale jets of the first batch was acquired on Tuesday. It was a seminal day, not just because India acquired a massive defence shield but also since it coincided with Vijaydashmi or Dusshera, the day which Indians have celebrated as the win of Good over Evil for centuries now.

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The first of 36 Rafale jets of the first batch was acquired on Tuesday. It was a seminal day, not just because India acquired a massive defence shield but also since it coincided with Vijaydashmi or Dusshera, the day which Indians have celebrated as the win of Good over Evil for centuries now.

Somehow, matters which warm the hearts of millions of Indians causes heart-burn amongst a few who are well-identified now. “The Hindu” mocked the celebrations with “Wait-Its-Due-Only-Next-Year” front page headline; the (Rajdeep) Sardesais and Ghoses (Sagarika) and Dutts (Barkha) were silent as if in a funeral and so were the Gandhis. Yet, one of Congress’ leaders, Sandeep Dikshit, couldn’t hold back and reflected the grumpiness of this brigade: “Why link the acquisition (Rafale) in a religious context,” he contended.

Dikshit was upset that defence minister Rajnath Singh had done a “shastra puja” of Rafale which involved putting lemons in front of its wheels, placing a coconut on its nose and drawing an “Om” on its side cheek. In Dikshit’s book, it was a religious act or an assertion of Hindutva,  a “secular” state indulging in communalism. (Err, Mr Dikshit, your thoughts on the then prime minister Manmohan Singh, choosing the day of Sonia Gandhi’s birthday--December 9, 2006—to declare that Muslims have the first right on the resources of the country. Was it secular?).

Understandably, it found echo amongst the young and impressionables. So here it is, an attempt for rationale to prevail over outbursts:

·         “Shastra Puja” is a routine marker with our armed forces on new inductions of weaponry. It happened when MiGs, Jaguars, Tejas, practically every new addition, was made. Every ship which slides off keels is launched with coconut-breaking ceremony. Even the Supreme Court has said that “Shastra Puja” doesn’t impinge on secularism.

·         The induction of Rafale happened on the 87th anniversary of Indian Air Force. “Vijaydashmi” might’ve been coincidental and not necessarily the reason for choice of date.

·         It’s a flawed approach to view “shastra puja” as an assertion of Hindu identity. As it would be to view the reading of “kalma”as Islamic when Tejas was inducted on July 2, 2016.  When soldiers are greeted with garlands and tilak on return to their villages, is it communal? Besides, placing of lemons in front of tyres, applying “Om” on its steering and breaking a coconut in front of the vehicle are common actions millions of us do before a newly-bought vehicle reaches home.

But trust our spoilsports to keep taking the matter to absurd lengths. A twitterati argued thus: “But buying a car and doing all this is personal. Whereas Rafale’s was an act by the ruling government. Don’t they know that India is secular and state and religion must not cross each other’s path?”

First thing first. India wasn’t a secular state to begin with. This happened when our Constitution was arbitrarily changed by a chaffed Indira Gandhi during the Emergency without the consent of the lawmakers of the Parliament. There are various articles in the Constitution—like freedom of propagation of own faith for monotheist religions like Islam and Christianity—which can’t be termed secular.

Now, if the Indian state indeed is “secular”why does it interfere and control Hindu temples? As writer and scientist Anand Ranganathan points out : Governments of five southern states control 90,700 temples; TN Temple Trusts own 478,000 acres of land. Tamil Nadu state government alone controls 36,425 mutts: It gives them billions of rupees. By a rough estimate, the total revenue earned from temples by state government till now would be somewhere between Rs 10-15 lakh crores.   

Is this secularism? Tamil Nadu government has a temple in its logo—is it secular? If you want religion should be out of bounds for the State then the State should also keep out of religion.

Famous Indologist David Frawley has posted a YouTube video where the “war-cry” of various battalions are mentioned.  For Gorkha Rifles it’s “Jai Maa Kaali.” Rajput Regiment exhort with “Bol Bajrangbali ki Jai”; Rajputana Rifles with “Raja Ram Chandra Ki Jai.” For Dogra regiment, the full-throated call of “Jwala Mata Ki Jai” is the motivator; Jammu & Kashmir infantry enjoin with “Durga Mata Ki Jai.” So it is with Naga regiment (Jai Durga Naga); Bihar regiment (Jai Bajrang bali) and Kumaon regiment (Kalika Mata Ki Jai). Yet these traditions would be communal in the eyes of pseudo-seculars.

On a different note, the in-your-face “Shastra Puja” hasn’t gone unnoticed to the discerners. A confident Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is no longer embarrassed in asserting the cultural identity of the nation. And to hell with those who portray it as tyranny of the majority, communal Hindutva and minority-in-crisis narrative.

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The true ecologists of this world are the people who fight against the depredation perpetrated by the multinationals: those who give their lives for their communities, for mountains and rivers. Every month, dozens of these real ecologists are murdered in their countries: the bullets of the hired assassins of transnational capitalism blow up their heads full of honesty and struggle, and they die clean hands, hands that will never clasp the infamous hands of the IMF, or those of other vampires on the planet. The exploiting class and its capitalist system is perpetuated on the basis of extermination and alienation: on the basis of violence, but also on the basis of the lie it imposes through its mass media.

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The true ecologists of this world are the people who fight against the depredation perpetrated by the multinationals: those who give their lives for their communities, for mountains and rivers. Every month, dozens of these real ecologists are murdered in their countries: the bullets of the hired assassins of transnational capitalism blow up their heads full of honesty and struggle, and they die clean hands, hands that will never clasp the infamous hands of the IMF, or those of other vampires on the planet. The exploiting class and its capitalist system is perpetuated on the basis of extermination and alienation: on the basis of violence, but also on the basis of the lie it imposes through its mass media.

In several photographs and videos, one can see Greta Thunberg, the new character hyper-mediated by the cultural apparatus of capitalism, with Christine Lagarde, director of the IMF and candidate for the ECB (the IMF, this institution of transnational capitalism that plunders the nature and starving entire people). A handshake that illustrates the joy of the masters of the world greeting those who serve them in the important task of infiltrating all the struggles with Trojan Horses that lead the energies to dead ends, manipulating majorities in pseudo-struggles that never touch the root of the problems, and therefore do not solve them. The capitalism that is destroying nature, and the exploiting class that benefits from it, are not called into question by the Fable "Greta". The planet dies and the dominant class continues with its Circus. This is absolute cynicism.

In capitalism, television, the press, the cultural industry belong to the private monopolies: these monopolies often also have capital in the military-industrial complex, the agro-food industry, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, etc ... All The foregoing explains why the mass media do not broadcast information about anyone who actually questions their interests: no one who challenges the perpetuation of this system, questioning capitalism, will receive such hyper-mediatization.

The depredation of nature is due to the capitalist mode of production: the agro-food industry poisons the land, the mining industry devastates the mountains and rivers, etc. Overconsumption is a phenomenon remote controlled by the cultural apparatus of capitalism, by the advertising bombardment. Programmatic obsolescence, the perverse mechanism of premature aging of things, implemented by design in the capitalist mode of production, also guarantees the bourgeoisie that the masses indulge in overconsumption, because that is how the bourgeoisie fills its coffers: on the basis of exploitation of workers and on the basis of the devastation of nature.

There is no solution to the devastation of nature in the context of capitalism. Faced with the palpable tragedy of plastic continents floating on the oceans, dizzying deforestation of millennia forests, destroyed glaciers, water tables and rivers contaminated and drained, cordilleras amputated by the mining industry, depleted uranium with which the military-industrial complex bombs whole regions, CO2 levels rising sharply, the cynicism of the masters of the world is colossal. As if their approach to the question was:

"We cannot hide the sun with a finger, that is to say we can no longer hide the devastation of the planet that we, the big capitalists, are perpetrating; so now what can be done to continue looting and capitalizing is to lie about the root and systemic causes of the problem. What is important is that we are not designated as responsible; that we are not designated as the owners of the means of production, who decide what happens, under what conditions and at what rate; that we are not appointed to us by those who enrich us by the plundering of nature and by the surplus value we confiscate from the workers, who decide how the population should behave, since we push them to the overconsumption that we rich, and induce him not to question this system that suits us, a dominant minority. To pretend to be concerned about the planet, will bring back good recipes, it is enough for a good operation of propaganda on a world scale, that one sees us to listen to some symbol which we will have created before, something which does not give us not as a dominant class, as an exploiting class, and which ultimately does not call into question this system. "

But gangrene does not cure with plaster, and obviously the predation of the planet will not be held back by the placebos that the same system proposes to channel the social discontent towards dead ends.

Greta and her group appeal to the so-called "moral qualities" of the masters of the world, appeal to their so-called "good will"; once again, we enter the anesthetic fable that pretends to ignore that in capitalism the accumulation of wealth is perpetrated by the great capitalists in two fundamental ways: the exploitation of the workers and the plundering of nature. In this fable of green-washing, the existence of a so-called "green capitalism" is posed fraudulently, which is totally impossible by the very logic of the system. A "green capitalism" is not possible, nor is "capitalism with a human face" any more than a vegetarian lion. 

 And to those who argue that the imposture proclaims that "the Nordic countries are great examples of good and green capitalism," retort that it would be better to inquire with the victims of the massacres that large northern companies have fomented in Congo to loot coltan and other resources. Do you speak to Ericsson, Saab, Volvo, Bofors, Nammo, Kongsberg, Ikea, H & M, etc? Neither very "green" nor very "human" in terms of exploitation and devastation against the workers and against nature. Oh, if we succeed in outsourcing all the cloak practices that enrich a multinational, then this cesspool is not taken into account? 

A "green capitalism" is not possible, nor is a "capitalism with a human face" any more than a vegetarian lion. Because exploitation and predation are inherent to capitalism. However, what is possible is to make up the same inhuman and in no way green face of capitalism, with tons of makeup to make it look what it is not. But a lion with a zebra mask will never be vegetarian as the effigy of his mask, just like a system like capitalism, will never be "green" like the masks that the system mediates on itself. Major multinational energy companies, predators par excellence of nature, sport hummingbird or marine fauna logos. BMW and a Swiss bank finance the boat with which Greta travels the seas.

Moreover, in the Greenwashing speech, everyone is equally guilty, and finally ... "if we are all guilty, nobody is guilty of it in a specific way", which is a way of diluting responsibilities, not to name the main culprits of this barbarism: the big capitalists, the transnational bourgeoisie.

It is true that the overconsumption is not limited to the bourgeoisie, because if it can consume much more and generate a frightening waste, the exploited class was also alienated by the advertising bombardment, to lead to overconsumption, even at the price to accumulate debts. But again, there is a question of class: because it is the exploiting class, the one that owns the means of production and propaganda, which imposes its ideological and cultural hegemony on the whole planet, it is the class an exploiter who disposes of the exploited class through the mass media that are his property. It is through alienation that the exploiting class directs the exploited class towards overconsumption. A class runs the other through advertising bombardment and through the paradigms imposed by the cultural apparatus of capitalism (individualism, consumption presented as "compensatory", notion of "success" linked to having and not to being, etc ... ). The programmed obsolescence (premature aging of things) also guarantees the big capitalists that the masses overconsume, to fill their bank accounts while devastating the planet.

By 2019, the world's 26 richest people have the same wealth as those with the world's 3.8 billion most impoverished people, half of the world's population (Oxfam). A handful of billionaires own the main means of production and propaganda. 1% of the world's population owns 82% of the world's wealth. Data on per capita electricity consumption shows that Europe, the United States, Canada and the remaining capitalist metropolises consume, by far, the vast majority of energy consumed in the world .

In the Green Makeup discourse, we can assimilate the depredations committed by the big capitalists, by the gigantic multinationals who divert entire rivers for the mining industry, to the peoples who are the victims. We equate the victims and the executioners in this abject discourse of "we are all guilty" that makes no distinction, neither of social classes, nor between the handful of countries that consume 80% of the planet's resources (United States, Europe Canada, Japan, Australia and other capitalist metropolises) and all the other countries in the world (the vast majority) that survive with the remaining 20%. In the Green Makeup speech, we do not talk about capitalist metropolises that overconsume versus the capitalist peripheries conceived by transnational capitalism as mere "reservoirs of resources" and pillaged to the bone, with a devastating ecological impact and a social impact of brutal impoverishment; Neither is it said that looting is perpetrated by assassinating any person or community who raises his voice against capitalist looting.

Predatory multinationals and the peoples they exterminate are assimilated. Take the example of Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Glencore by diverting an entire river to use the water in the largest coal mine in the world, the Cerrejón mine in Colombia, which causes drought, ecocide, famine and genocide against one of the main indigenous peoples of Colombia, the Wayú. More than 14,000 Wayú children died of hunger and thirst because of the capitalist looting perpetrated by these three multinationals. The coal that is mined per ton is mainly destined for the United States and Europe. So no, we are not "all guilty in the same way". A working family is not guilty in the same way as a capitalist. The multinational Glencore n ' is not "guilty in the same way" as the Wayú people, who not only are not guilty, but undergo genocide. The culprits are not the thousands of social fighters, real ecologists, who are killed daily by the bullets of the hired assassins of transnational capitalism; but those who plunder the planet and pay hitmen to exterminate any opposition to capitalist looting.

For our dead, not a minute of silence in the face of the barbarism and the pantomime with which the transnational bourgeoisie claims to cover up its crimes: more than 1500 peasants, indigenous, Afro-descendants, environmentalists, social activists, were murdered in Colombia by transnational capitalism in five years, several thousand in Mexico, as much in various countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. And this same bourgeoisie comes to us with its fable of the teenager with braids, which does not question the capitalist system and which is hyper-mediatized, with this staging that feels Euro-centered paternalism, with this decor that stinks the cynicism, with this theater that stinks simulation so that nothing changes.

They experiment to see how we swallow all their montages with a smug smile, while they, the members of the exploiting class, continue to destroy the mountains and the rivers, the oceans and the forests; they continue to perpetrate ecocides and genocides, they continue to push millions of looters on the roads of the exodus, they continue to transform the planet into landfill and the human beings into insane (and to the one who does not let alienate , and who claims to fight outside the tracks of the useless, is thrown to him the paramilitary and military ball, the political persecution and the prison).

Berta Caceres, Chico Mendes, Macarena Valdes, Mapuche, RP Global,

"As long as we live under capitalism, this planet will not be saved; because capitalism is against life, ecology, human beings, women, "said Berta Cáceres, a genuine ecologist and Honduran social fighter, murdered for opposing capitalist looting. Chico Méndes, another authentic ecologist, defender of the Amazon and social activist murdered to silence his voice class consciousness, to try to curb the political organization of the dispossessed, already announced before being assassinated, the impostures of " greenwashing "(we did not use that term then, but the fact already existed). Against capitalism and its Green Makeup, had also risen Macarena Valdés, Mapuche ecologist murdered because of his defense of nature and the community. Macarena had confronted the multinational RP Global, of Austrian capital, which promotes energy sold as "renewable and sustainable" (omitting its participation in ecocide and genocide against the Mapuche people). The activists against the depredation of nature are thousands, their voices are not publicized, their lives are often short because they are shattered by the repressive tools at the service of transnational capitalism.

And if a country claims to nationalize its natural resources and not allow multinationals to plunder them, it is bombarded, victim of imperialist wars; it is invaded by religious mercenaries, fanatics incubated since the empire, then by the NATO boots; he is tortured, martyred, and bloodthirsty. Where are these so-called "ecologists" of the system when US and European imperialism is slaughtering nature and peoples in Iraq, Libya, Colombia, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc. Ah ... there is no "demonstration" On their part, is not it? ... Of course, the puppets are due to the theater, to fool the dupes, to make thousands of people who have been (and are daily) murdered by transnational capitalism for having truly defended the planet in the first place, are even more ignored in the midst of all the cacophony, the hypermediatization of The fiction. But the struggle continues, against capitalism and its barbarism; because the cosmetics with which they claim to cover its stench, we are numerous and numerous enough not to be swallowed.

(This article by Cecilia Zamudo is taken with gratitude from NewsNet.fr, a French news website).

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Pakistan is unlikely to keep up with its hostile words or action on Kashmir if the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meet in Paris on October 13-18 goes as planned.

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Pakistan is unlikely to keep up with its hostile words or action on Kashmir if the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meet in Paris on October 13-18 goes as planned.

Already in the “grey list” of the FATF, Pakistan could lose up to $10 billion and be economically devastated if it is “blacklisted” by the influential global body which primarily deals with countries that promote money laundering, drugs and terrorism and are a threat to global system.

Pakistan surely would need to tone done its rhetoric or any misadventure it might have planned on Kashmir, the focal point of Pakistan’s policy for decades, let its treated as a leper in international monetary system.

Pakistan needs three members of the 37-member FATF to avoid being blacklisted and its Prime Minister Imran Khan last week sought out the heads of Malaysia and Turkey to canvass support. China, which heads FATF, in any case is an all-weather friend. These three countries were the reason Pakistan avoided being “blacklisted” in June this year. The trio are likely to come again to Pakistan’s rescue in Paris.  

Pakistan though is unlikely to slip out of the “grey list” as it would require the support of 15 of 37 members of FATF which is too uphill a task. The United Nations General Assembly session last month saw it being isolated on the world stage with no significant world power, but for China, coming to Pakistan’s support.

The pressure is mounting by the hour on Pakistan as Asia-Pacific Joint Group (APJG), a FATF sub-group, held a review meeting with Pakistani officials in Bangkok in August on the issues of anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regimes. It found Pakistan to be in violation of as many as 21 of the 27-point action plan and placed it in the Enhanced Follow Up list. Of the 40 technical compliance parameters, Pakistan was non-compliant on 30 parameters. And, of the 11 efectiveness parameters, Pakstan was adjudged as “low” on 10. These finding would surely have a huge bearing on Pakistan’s fate in the FATF meeting in Paris in less than a fortnight’s time.

India, meanwhile, is on an overdrive to ensure that Pakistan is unable to escape the “noose” of FATF. The trio of prime minister Narendra Modi, foreign minister S. Jaishankar and national security advisor Ajit Doval have spent last few weeks in canvassing support from as many as 24 of the 37 members of the FATF.

While Modi sought out Belgium, France, US, UK, Italy, New Zealand and South Africa among others in the UN, Jaishankar held parleys with his counterparts from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore, Turkey and Japan in New York. He also looked for support from the two regional organizations of the FATF, the Gulf Governing Council (GCC) and the European Commission (EC). Doval meanwhile is in Saudi Arabia mustering support from the oil kingdom which has shunned Pakistan in favour of India in recent months.

If Pakistan is “blacklisted” it could virtually be an outcast in the international financial system. Its banking system would be crippled and be it imports or exports, remittances or access to international lending order, would all be overwhelmed. It would have trouble securing loans as foreign financial institutions would be wary of dealing with Pakistan lest they fall foul of international violations on the issues of money laundering, drugs and terrorism. Foreign investors won’t be enamoured either.

It’s not the first time Pakistan finds itself in the “grey list” of FATF. It was first put under watch in 2008 and later between 2012-2015. Apparently, the deterrence hasn’t s worked. As India has pointed out, Pakistan is home to 130 UN-designated terrorists and 25 terrorists listed by the UN.

Pakistan though is not the only country in the “grey list” of FATF. The other countries in the last are Ethiopia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen.

Presently only two countries are in the “blacklist” of FATF—Iran and North Korea. Pakistan is close to joining the unenvied group of international order. If Pakistan is able to avoid being blacklisted, it would be a damning reflection on its benefactors--China, Malaysia and Turkey—as they would be seen in support of terrorism.

Pakistan, truth to tell, is today seen a breeding ground for terrorists and has done little to curb them. There has been no demonstrable action or persecution of globally-designated terrorists or terror networks. Its law enforcement agencies are yet to even begin investigating terror groups like Da’ish, Al-Qaeda, Jamaat-ud Dawa, Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Haqqani Network or persons who are affiliated with Taliban.  Terrorists such as Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed operate with impunity and protection from the state of Pakistan.

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Since Lutyens Media—Times of India, Indian Express, Hindustan Times and The Hindu—is so hopeless, I took to computer, to read the local daily, The Telegraph and catch the action from ground in Kolkata this morning.

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Since Lutyens Media—Times of India, Indian Express, Hindustan Times and The Hindu—is so hopeless, I took to computer, to read the local daily, The Telegraph and catch the action from ground in Kolkata this morning.

The event I was excited about was Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to the capital of Bengal—the first since the 2019 Elections in May which all but buried the ruling dispensation of Trinamool Congress. Shah was visiting Kolkata and inaugurating a pandal of “Durga Puja.” He later addressed a crowd of 11,000, mostly BJP workers, at Netaji Indoor Stadium on Tuesday.

I took to The Telegraph after the Lutyens Media failed me in terms of details of Shah’s address. Every line in Lutyens Media was honed in on the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a Supreme Court-mandated exercise which was taken recently in Assam and excluded over 19 lakh citizens.  Lutyens Media, not one of them, sees logic in throwing out infiltrators which the NRC is all about. Instead, the projection is that the right-wing Centre is hell-bent on making life miserable for Muslim minority. What is infiltration is persecution of minority Muslims in their eyes.

But I found The Telegraph worse. It has put Amit Shah’s speech as lead story of its edition today. The newspaper prepared me for its bigotry with the headline itself: “Shah shifts focus, assures all but one.” In the text, it quotes Shah: “I assure all refugees—Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist and Christian---that the government of India would not ask any one of them to leave the country.” The newspaper then adds a line of its own: “The home minister of the Union of India did not mention one community.”

The Telegraph of course was stoking the fears of Muslims. That they are being targeted by a “communal” right-wing government in the Centre. It was pulling wool over the eyes of its readers by blurring the distinction between refugees and infiltrators; between Citizenship Bill and NRC.

Citizenship Bill is aimed to provide shelter and dignity to lakhs of Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist and Christian refugees who have fled Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh due to religious persecution. NRC, on the other hand, is an exercise to stop infiltrators who have sneaked in into India and can’t be called refugees. In terms of definition too, refugees and infiltrators are two completely different things. Refugees are fleeing state persecution. Infiltrators are coming in with devious motives of their own.

But our newspapers are hell-bent in sensationalizing and distorting the ground reality. One has no way of checking Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s claim of 19 deaths so far due to NRC fears since her writ runs large in the state. But clearly she is desperately pulling all stops to ensure her Muslim vote bank stays intact. Politicans, who project themselves as protectors of a community, are known to heighten their fears and insecurities for their own benefit. What if lives are lost and families ruined in the narrative manufactured by them?

Most newspapers have given a miss that Amit Shah called out Mamata Banerjee on her doublespeak—she was the one who on August 4, 2005 demanded infiltrators be thrown out of Bengal in the state assembly. Now the shoe is in the other foot!

They have also left out Amit Shah’s perceptive comments on Bengal of today:

That at the time of independence and now, Bengal’s industrial production (27% then, 3.3% now), industrial jobs (28.9% then, 4.2% now), medicine production (70% then, 6% now), bank deposit numbers (22% then, 6.3% now) have shown  staggering fall.  That, those were the years when Bengal was known for its literature, music, religious and spiritual leaders, and scientists? “Where’s the Sonar Bangla we all dreamt about,” Shah had thundered, “Is this why you removed Communists?”

Shah touched a raw nerve of ruling dispensation of Bengal when it reminded the gathered audience in his unique, compelling way. “Are you happy that Article 370 is abrogated,” he asked the jam-packed stadium. As a deafening noise of approval went up, Shah chipped in with his punchline: “But do you know that TMC (MPs) walked out in protest when Article 370 was being abrogated in the Parliament,”?

The rising cultural assertion among the masses of Bengal led to BJP cornering 18 seats to 22 of TMC. “Now no one stop you from delaying the “visarjan” in Durga Puja…nobody has the guts to stop Durga Puja  or Basant Puja, Saraswati Puja, Ramnavmi and Janmaashthmi,” said Shah which struck a chord with the audience. As is known, Mamta Banerjee postponed “visarjan” on more than one occasion to let muharram be observed on its scheduled date. Shaken by the 2019 general polls, she is now rushing and practically inaugurating every major Durga Puja pandal in the metropolis in her bid to woo Hindus.

Political battles are ok and certainly partisan but the nation is hurt when newspapers forsake their objectivity and neutrality. None have bothered to bring the larger picture of Shah’s address to its readers. Instead, the method is manipulation. None have questioned the shambolic law and order situation in the state. None have bothered to train their investigations on Narada, Sharada or Rose Valley scams. None have pointed out that at least 30 BJP members have been killed in the fourth months since 2019 General Polls.

(Post script: For the benefit of readers, here’s the link where you could see Amit Shah’s address in entirety).

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It front pages a story “HC praise PC, but declines to grant bail” which is a complete flip on the chilling pronouncement by the High Court against jailed former Union minister P. Chidambaram that has led his family, friends and supporters deeply red-faced.

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Is Times of India out of its' mind?

It front pages a story “HC praise PC, but declines to grant bail” which is a complete flip on the chilling pronouncement by the High Court against jailed former Union minister P. Chidambaram that has led his family, friends and supporters deeply red-faced.

P. Chidambaram has been lodged in Tihar jail since August 21, one of the most high-profile arrests of independent India, over allegations by India’s premier investigating agency, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), that he helped INX Media gain Rs 305 crores from foreign investments in 2007 through Foreign Investment Promotion Board.

Alongside is Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigating P. Chidambaram on the alleged offence of money laundering which, the allegation is, was meant to profit his son, Karti Chidambaram.

The “praise” Times of India is attributing to High Court in favour of P. Chidambaram has been taken out of context. The newspaper claims the court acknowledged Chidambaram had been a “strong finance minister and home minister and presently member of Indian Parliament.”

So, to the benefit of readers, this is what Justice Suresh Kumar Kait said in denying bail to P. Chidambaram.

“It is on record that large sum of monies has come into the companies owned/or controlled by the co-conspirator Karti P. Chidambaram during the relevant period for the favours shown by the petitioners to the INX Media.”

Holding that the “order of remand for judicial custody of the trial court is justified”, Justice Kait said: “It cannot be disputed that if the case is proved against the petitioner (Chidambaram), the offence is on the society, economy, financial stability and integrity of the country.”

“It is fact that the entire community is aggrieved if the economic offenders, who ruin the economy of the state, are not brought to book as such offences affect the very fabric of democratic governance and probity in public life,” he said.

Justice Kait seemed to agree with the submission of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the material witnesses have been approached by the accused “not to disclose” any information regarding him and his son Karti.

“He has deep roots in Indian society and maybe some connection abroad. But the fact that he will not influence the witnesses, directly or indirectly cannot be ruled out…Moreover, the investigation is at an advanced stage…therefore, this court is not inclined to grant bail,” said Justice Kait.

This by any chance looks like praise to you?

The truth is Justice Kait began his pronouncements with the words: “This court cannot dispute the fact that the petitioner has been a strong Finance Minister and Home Minister and presently, Member of Indian Parliament…”

Judicial pronouncements usually build up its narrative putting all things in perspective. Justice Kait’s delivery on Monday was no different. But to headline your story as “HC praise PC” is a complete travesty to a damning verdict.

It is also no excuse that the newspaper was struggling for space to fit in the story. We have this comical situation of Lutyens Media reserving first four pages of its print editions these days to advertisements in the festive season. Yet it couldn’t find space for a “strong” former Union minister who is feared by the High Court, if the offence is proved, to have affected “the society, economy, financial stability and integrity of the country…that the entire community is aggrieved if the economic offenders are not brought to book…”

 

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The climate change is for real. Greenland glacial melting is no photo-editing. Wildfires in the Amazon isn’t fake news. Droughts in California are happening. Once Arctic melts and the vast carbon presently in its frozen soils and tundra is released, Global Warming would become more severe. Impact would not only be seen in rising oceans but also on plant, animal, sea and bird life. How do you think water, air and food issues of humanity would then be addressed on an overpopulated Earth?

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The climate change is for real. Greenland glacial melting is no photo-editing. Wildfires in the Amazon isn’t fake news. Droughts in California are happening. Once Arctic melts and the vast carbon presently in its frozen soils and tundra is released, Global Warming would become more severe. Impact would not only be seen in rising oceans but also on plant, animal, sea and bird life. How do you think water, air and food issues of humanity would then be addressed on an overpopulated Earth?

Climate change or Global Warming has been brought into our drawing rooms by the journey of a Swedish autistic teenager Greta Thunberg who sailed across Atlantic to the United Nations and “dared” world’s politicians into action. She is the same Greta who in February this year urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for action lest he be viewed as one of the “worst villains” in history of the future. Ms Thunberg has now been nominated for next year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Politicians today are being blamed for inertia on climate change since fossil fuel and the resultant release of greenhouse emissions in the environment continues unabated. Scientists, primarily of UN’s IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change), want no more than 1.5 centigrade rise in global temperature from pre-industrial era. It requires the fossil fuel emissions to drop by a startling 40% in the next dozen years. IPCC would like fossil fuel usage to be almost naught by 2050. This means no gas or diesel for cars and trucks, no coal power plants, and the world agriculture sustaining itself on burning food as biofuels.

Fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil) it was which caused the Industrial Revolution and continues to drive humanity towards unprecedented economic, social and technological changes. Needless to say it has made nomadic nations of Middle East into arbiter of world’s geopolitics. Wars are fought, countries destroyed, empires built, driven on fossil fuel.

World’s powers now want a dramatic cut in use of fossil fuels to save the humanity. Developing nations like India cry “foul”. The argument is: You have made your fortune on fossil fuel, now you stop us from doing it in the name of saving humanity. In other words, you want to remain in pole position by stopping others and rule the world by now playing the “climate change” card.

If fossil fuel is causing climate change, they need to be rolled back. Let renewable energy be all we should have. But is fossil fuel really the cause of climate change? And if not who is the real culprit for the misinformation?

Is Fossil Fuel really the culprit?

In 1982, Mostafa Tolba of UN Environment Program (UNEP) warned: “The world faces an ecological disaster as final as nuclear war within a couple of decades unless governments act now.” In 1989, Noel Brown of the same UNEP, rhymed the threat: “Entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising seal levels…by 2000.” James Hansen, one of key doomsday predictors, said that 350ppm of Co2 (greenhouse emission) was the upper limit to “preserve the planet.” Rajendra Pachauri, then chief of the UN IPCC, declared that 2012 was the climate deadline. “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late.” Today, the measured level is 414ppm.

In essence, the Earth has been given a 10-year survival warning for the last 50 or so years.

So who do we blame for climate change which is for real?

The truth is global warming is a complex phenomenon. It’s a coupled non-linear dynamical system. Oceans change atmosphere and in turn the atmosphere changes the oceans. Both are related to solar cycles. Yet influential scientists, global forums such as UN and world’s powerbrokers who are predicting a doomsday never bother to factor in the activity of the sun and solar eruption cycles.

John McLean, an independent researcher from Australia, sat down to analyse how IPCC arrived at their conclusion on climate change. IPCC primarily uses HadCRUT4 dataset. Yet McLean points out there were places where temperature was calculated from next to no information. For two years the temperatures over Southern Hemisphere were estimated from just one site in Indonesia. In another place, Caribbean island St. Kitts temperature was recorded at 0 degree Celsius. In essence, IPCC were never scientific in their search for reasons for climate change. All they would say is that it’s man-mad fossil fuel-driven possible extinction of human species.

Who’s the culprit behind this misinformation?

F. William Engdahl, a noted geopolitical analyst, says the neo-Malthusian de-industrialization agenda was set by the wealthy Rockfellers in the 1970s. The idea was to prevent use of independent industrial rivals. The influential Rockfellers backed the creation of the Club of Rome, Aspen Institute, WorldWatch Institute and MIT Limits to Growth report. Rockfellers were helped in their mission by a longtime friend, a Canadian oilman Maurice Strong. It was Strong who first propagated the unproven theory of fossil fuels causing rise in global temperatures which threatens human civilization. In essence, he named the real enemy as humanity itself—not 147 global banks, multi-nations, financial hubs which bankroll the “climate change project.”

Strong later became chief policy advisor to Kofi Annan of the United Nations. He was the key architect of the 1997-2005 Kyoto Protocol that declared Global Warming was man-made. In 1988, Strong was instrumental in creation of the UN IPCC and chief protagonist at the Rio Earth Summit which he chaired and which approved his globalist UN Agenda 21.

Rockfellers are one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in the history of the United States. For over a century they have influenced US’ economic, political and public policy. Their “philanthropy” gives them uncommon control on issues such as agriculture, energy, pharmaceuticals and environment etc. They have a web of family foundations, universities and institutions and a complex integration of hedge funds, inter-locking Board positions, and non-profit organizations.

It’s been four years since Maurice Strong is dead. But it would help Greta Thunberg and all of us to know him and not blindly accept the fossil fuel theory on climate change. By creating the brand of “Greta Thunberg Effect,” world’s powers have probably left no scope for arguments. But do lend an ear to men like Donald Trump who are defiant. If the idea is to save humanity from climate change, we do need to know if fossil fuel is really the culprit.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is back from the United States. During his sojourn, he had the President of the United States in attendance and in audience in the Houston event; won the “Goalkeepers Global Goals Award” from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF); and above all had the world eating out of his palms on Kashmir. No Indian, arguably since Swami Vivekananda, ever set foot on United States and returned home with such global acclaim. (Never mind if our own Shashi Tharoor is working overtime to argue that Modi’s is not unprecedented, even if he has to resort to fake news on Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru).

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is back from the United States. During his sojourn, he had the President of the United States in attendance and in audience in the Houston event; won the “Goalkeepers Global Goals Award” from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF); and above all had the world eating out of his palms on Kashmir. No Indian, arguably since Swami Vivekananda, ever set foot on United States and returned home with such global acclaim. (Never mind if our own Shashi Tharoor is working overtime to argue that Modi’s is not unprecedented, even if he has to resort to fake news on Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru).

If Houston was imagery, the concurrence of world on Kashmir in the United Nations was real substance. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan looked no better than a gangster, smoking gun from a nuclear upholstery, faking the championing of his country on behalf of Kashmiri Muslims, never mind he didn’t even whimper on one million fellow Muslims being kept in concentration camps in Xinjiang by China or that his country was responsible for over a million killings of fellow Muslims in once East Pakistan. Pakistan is today seen as what it’s worth in the world.

Be that as it may, Operation Kashmir is now in its second phase. It’s a phase when at some stage the Modi government would’ve to consider lifting the ban on internet, freeing thousands of politicians, activists, businessmen etc who unknown to their families are lodged up in and outside Kashmir. The present clampdown in Kashmir can’t go on forever. At some stage, elections would’ve to be announced and before that happens, the government and security forces would’ve to pull themselves back in the trenches. Leaders of regional political parties-- Abdullahs and Muftis--would need to be freed.  Longer it’s delayed, faster India would lose the world which is now standing next to it.

Or, Modi could act indifferent to the world. The world today is wooing him not because it’s convinced of Kashmir being an internal issue but because it wants India by its side. West, in particular, is wary of China and sees India as indispensible in halting the Dragon’s march. India’s market and the growth story is no less attractive to them. Modi thus could keep the frills out, delay elections in Kashmir as long as he deems fit, keeps Muftis and Abdullahs in house arrest and to hell with the cacophony of the seculars.  He could put internal security above all other considerations, given the intelligence inputs.

Before the Houston event, Modi met a group of Kashmiri Pandits and assured them justice. Kashmiri Pandits--and their numbers run in lakhs--of course have a yearning to return to their homeland from where they were driven out in the 1990s. It’s been almost a generation since BJP has made it a part of their manifesto. The abrogation of Article 370 has raised hopes in the hearts of these Kashmiris.

But it won’t be easy. Muslim Kashmiris in the Valley today are incensed at the curb on their freedom and their knowns being lodged up in jails.  The post-1990 generation have no idea that theirs is a land where once syncretism prevailed and Muslims and Hindus lived check-by-jowl. They are likely to see returning Kashmiri Pandits as intruders and not rightful owners of their hearths and homes.  The natives would be seen as aliens. The reconstruction of their vandalized temples, as the Modi government has vowed, would be fodder to canons of insinuations and rumours.  Winning hearts without compromising in security or allowing Pakistan to stir up mischief with its mercenary terrorists won’t be easy.

Lutyens Media is ready with its texts, blurbs and headlines once clampdown is lifted in the Kashmir Valley.  These sob stories would be endlessly played. Modi would be shown to have committed a Himalayan blunder in tampering with Kashmir’s special status. Modi government would need to be on its toes to fight this war of misinformation. For every word of misinformation, it needs an article of facts to be put on public display. It would need nothing less than a separate Ministry against Misinformation on Kashmir.

Lutyens media has latched on to Imran Khan evoking the image of 2002 Gujarat riots. They of course won’t tell that every Court in the country has cleared Modi of culpability in the crime. (And it is not as if only Muslims were killed. The figures, released by the Congress-led government itself in 2005 put the figures as 794 Muslims and 254 Hindus killed).  Similarly, Lutyens Media has gone to length to highlight the dozen protestors who stationed themselves in front of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, petitioning against the award to Modi on Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). They won’t let you know that the Mission is almost 100 per cent successful. Nearly all villages of the country are now Open-Defecation Free (ODF). As Sandipan Deb wrote in the Mint: “The WHO study estimated that SBM Grameen is likely to have averted more than 300,000 deaths between 2014 and October 2019. BMGF’s survey found that in ODF districts, there were 32% fewer cases of diarrhea among children, 15% fewer cases of stunting, and 37% less women with lower body mass index, compared with non-ODF districts.”

Governance, like life, can’t be still. One has to think on one’s feet. Modi has dealt with the first phase of Operation Kashmir to the last detail. The second phase is fraught with dangers for now guns would have to be replaced with roses.

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Bhagat Singh is a hero to all Indians. The man made sure he was caught and hanged to death in 1931 in the hope it would rise countless youth against the British yoke. He was only 23 and arguably a bigger legend than both Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in his closing days. The nation hoped as one he would be pardoned, and not executed.

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Bhagat Singh is a hero to all Indians. The man made sure he was caught and hanged to death in 1931 in the hope it would rise countless youth against the British yoke. He was only 23 and arguably a bigger legend than both Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in his closing days. The nation hoped as one he would be pardoned, and not executed.

As we celebrate his 112th birth anniversary (September 28, 1907), the cacophony is back to own him up.  Marxists claim him to be one of their own; Congress cite countless instances of how much Pt. Nehru admired the revolutionary in public and his atheism is cited as rebuff to RSS and communal politics.

Times of India has a middle in its edit page today where a Bhagat Singh researcher, Prof Chaman Lal has been interviewed by one Manimugdha Sharma. The piece begins and ends with Bhagat Singh being a proud son of Marxist/socialist ideology but doesn’t miss out in rubbishing Veer Savarkar for his silence on the martyr. Predictably, Bhagat Singh’s distaste for casteism is showcased too.

Is this the binary we want Bhagat Singh to be reduced to where everyone is apportioning a piece of his corpse? Where facts are twisted to suit an ideology? Where Bhagat Singh is revealed a Marxist but hidden is the fact that he never joined Communist Party of India? Where Savarkar is demonized for his silence but cloaked is the truth that Bhagat Singh never said a word against Savarkar and indeed completely read the latter’s work, “Hindu Pad Padshahi”? Where Bhagat Singh is mentioned an atheist but masked is the evidence that Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Arya Samaj exerted a great influence on him? Where Mahatma Gandhi is cited by Prof Chaman Lal to have “made efforts” for Bhagat Singh’s release but veiled is the historical reality that Gandhi faced black flag demonstrations by angry youths in Karachi who shouted “Down With Gandhi” in the wake of latter not demanding clemency for the condemned revolutionary? Where Jawaharlal Nehru is shown to be an unabashed admirer of Bhagat Singh but disguised is the truth that Pt. Nehru snubbed revolutionary Chandrashekhar Azad when the latter sought his help that Bhagat Singh not be hanged?

To satisfy their conscience—DoubleThink is the hallmark of Commies as George Orwell famously told us in Nineteen Eighty-Four—the interview does have a question on why Mahatma Gandhi never sought a pardon for Bhagat Singh which the nation prayed for. Prof Chaman Lal tells us that “Even if Gandhi had made it a point not to have the Gandhi-Irwin Pact without the commutation of their death sentences, the revolutionaries would not have accepted and compromised at their end.” Really? So I must not be blamed for adultery because it was this loose girl who threw herself on me. Is this the logic you’re going to sell to your wife?

There is this wonderful piece in Swarajyamag where Prof Irfan Habib is shown indulging in similar skull-duggery on Bhagat Singh. Since we can’t show Prof Chaman Lal and Manimugdha Sharma a mirror on the folly of their concert, let’s urge them to read it. Let’s not assume they have no shame. (Even though Times of India and its edit pages are now at the mercy of Marxists).

The oversell of Prof Irfan Habib—a JNU professor like our very dear Chaman Lal---was the soft corner Pt. Nehru had on Bhagat Singh. He cited countless instances when Pt. Nehru was effusive in his praise for the nationalist. The Swarajymag piece laid bare the fact that Nehru never put his foot down when Gandhi-Irwin Pact was being ratified by the Congress Working Committee to which he was the president. Subhas Chandra Bose didn’t mince his words: “The responsibility of Pandit Nehru is very great. Besides being the President of the Indian National Congress, he was the only member of the Working Committee who could be expected to understand and advocate the Left-wing point of view…”

Non-partisan historians believe that if Gandhi had wanted he could’ve persuaded Irwin—with whom he shared a good rapport—to release Bhagat Singh. There are elaborate mentions of Gandhi-Irwin dialogue on Bhagat Singh in the Swarajyamag piece. Also, Nehru defended Bhagat Singh in public but in reality left him on wolves’ table. (We in NewsBred have an archived piece where Bhagat Singh’s nephew lambasts Congress for treating revolutionaries as terrorists!).

Those who are innocents would be startled on how disappointed Chandrashekhar Azad was when he sought out Nehru on Bhagat Singh’s clemency. The Swarajymag piece also details the version of Manmathanath Gupta, a fellow revolutionary of Bhagat Singh, on the attitude of the Congress leaders, including Gandhi and Nehru. Gupta mentions the betrayal by the two leaders and is quoted thus: “…Nehru completely misrepresented the revolutionaries, charging them with fascist tendencies” So Nehru viewed Bhagat Singh and his fellow revolutionaries as fascists! But Chaman Lal tells us that the martyr approved of Nehru above Bose!

The headline in Times of India doesn’t reflect the piece; as the piece doesn’t reflect the legendary Bhagat Singh. It’s a work of small men committing sacrilege on a deity of sacrifice and courage. It’s a disservice to Bhagat Singh’s memory.

(Post Script: An advice to Times of India. Keep a tab on those who manage your edit pages. Or else it would be a hub for Marxist ideology as the Indian Express and The Hindu are. Your credibility would become a piece of fiction).

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On September 27, Indian and Pakistan’s prime ministers, Narendra Modi and Imran Khan, would address the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Much would be said on Kashmir which indeed was the reason the two countries went to war in 1949, 1965 and 1999. The air is thick with war-clouds this time too as India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh has shunned the No-First-Use Nucelar policy and Imran Khan, in an op-ed in New York Times, has asked the world to face the consequences if a nuclear war indeed breaks out between the two nations.

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On September 27, Indian and Pakistan’s prime ministers, Narendra Modi and Imran Khan, would address the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Much would be said on Kashmir which indeed was the reason the two countries went to war in 1949, 1965 and 1999. The air is thick with war-clouds this time too as India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh has shunned the No-First-Use Nucelar policy and Imran Khan, in an op-ed in New York Times, has asked the world to face the consequences if a nuclear war indeed breaks out between the two nations.

A nuclear war between wouldn’t just be devastating for the two countries, it would also be an ecological disaster for South Asia. The two countries, in their long, shared and bitter history, have never come to agree on the No-War framework. A close look at peace attempts after each, successive wars between the two neighbours:

After Pakistan’s first attempt to seize Kashmir by force in 1947 failed, ending in a cease-fire, a forced division of Kashmir, and a search for some kind of negotiated settlement, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1949, offered Pakistan a no-war declaration. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan accepted, provided there was a timetable for settling all outstanding disputes through negotiation and arbitration. No timetable was forthcoming, and no arbitration was agreeable to India.

The two subsequent wars between India and Pakistan also resulted in promises that are in line with the ideas that might underlie a No War agreement. The first of these wars took place in 1965, when beefed up by US military aid and weapons and training, and feeling secure in its patron, Pakistan was ready to try again to force a resolution of the Kashmir issue. It sent in soldiers under cover as insurgents to try to instigate an uprising among Kashmiris against Indian rule. The plan failed and Indian troops invaded Pakistan in reprisal.

The war lasted only 17 days, and both countries looked for arbitration which was provided by the Soviet Union, and led in January 1966 to India and Pakistan signing the Tashkent Declaration, declaring that they would “settle their disputes through peaceful means,” commit to “the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of each other,” and “discourage any propaganda directed against the other country.” It was all for naught.

A few years later, in 1971, there was the third India-Pakistan war, the only one that has not been about Kashmir. This war resulted in a humiliating defeat for Pakistan and the independence of the former East Pakistan as the new state of Bangladesh. In the Simla Agreement ending that conflict, India and Pakistan again agreed to settle differences peacefully through bilateral talks or any other mutually agreed-upon means.

Having failed in war and with no prospect of negotiations on Kashmir, Pakistan resorted to supporting militant movements both in Kashmir and elsewhere in India. This option came into its own in the late-1980s. Pakistan’s weapon of choice was to redeploy the Islamist militants who, with active US support, had fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. Once unleashed on Kashmir, the Islamists changed the nature of the struggle there, making it increasingly violent and brutal. Since then India has suffered attacks on numerous civilian targets, including the hijacking of a commercial airliner, an attack on its parliament, carnage in Mumbai, and deadly attacks on military camps and civilians.

Amidst all this, the no-war pact surfaced again in 1981. Pakistan’s ruler General Zia-ul Haq, who had taken power in a coup in 1977, made the offer “to enter into immediate consultations with India for the purpose of exchanging mutual guarantees of non-aggression and non-use of force.” The two sides exchanged detailed position papers but the process soon stalled over Kashmir. Still, India’s prime minister, Indira Gandhi, declared that even without a no-war pact, India would not attack Pakistan first. In 1984, the two countries tried again to explore this option, but no agreement could be reached.

In the aftermath of the nuclear tests in 1998, to show that they were capable of acting responsibly, the leaders of India and Pakistan agreed as part of the Lahore Declaration of February 1999 to intensify their efforts to resolve all issues. This was to include settling the issue of Kashmir, refraining from intervention and interference in each other’s internal affairs, and combating the menace of terrorism in all its manifestations. These intentions were to prove short lived as the two countries went to war in mid-1999 in the Kargil area of Ladakh in Kashmir.

The no-war pact proposal was put back on the table by Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf at the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000. India declined. Coming so soon after the Kargil war, India’s reluctance was to be expected; Indians thought that such an agreement would provide Pakistan a shield behind which to run its proxy wars in Kashmir without fear of large-scale reprisal. Musharraf, after all, was the architect of the Kargil war.

Things have changed radically since then, however. Pakistan has recognized that in a nuclear-armed subcontinent, Kashmir cannot be wrested from India by force. In addition to having suffered blowback from promoting Islamist militants as proxies, it also understands that no state can now be seen to support Islamist guerrillas without eliciting international censure. In fact, Pakistan is currently under scrutiny by the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which was formed to fight terrorist financing and money laundering. Such scrutiny puts Pakistan at risk of sanctions, which it can ill afford given its severe economic crisis.

 (This piece is an edited version of the one which appeared in globalresearch.ca on Tuesday).

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The 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly is upon us So is a new international “political season.”

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(As the United Nations gets ready for its general assembly session this week with world’s leaders  attendance, NewsBred presents with gratitude a piece by Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov which was written for “Russia in Global Affairs” magazine last week).

The 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly is upon us So is a new international “political season.”

The UN session begins at a highly symbolic historical moment Next year, we will celebrate two great and inter-connected anniversaries—the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic and Second World Wars, and the establishment of the UN.

Reflecting on the spiritual and moral significance of these landmark events, one needs to bear in mind the enormous political meaning of the Victory that ended one of the most brutal wars in the history of mankind.

The defeat of fascism in 1945 had fundamentally affected the further course of world history and created conditions for establishing a post-war world order. The UN Charter became its bearing frame and a key source of international law to this day. The UN-centric system still preserves its sustainability and has a great degree of resilience. It actually is kind of a safety net that ensures peaceful development of mankind amid largely natural divergence of interests and rivalries among leading powers The War-time experience of ideology-free cooperation of states with different socioeconomic and political systems is still highly relevant.

It is regrettable that these obvious truths are being deliberately silenced or ignored by certain influential forces in the West. Moreover, some have intensified attempts at privatizing the Victory, expunging from memory the Soviet Union’s role in the defeat of Nazism, condemning to oblivion the Red Army’s feat of sacrifice and liberation, forgetting the many millions of Soviet citizens who perished during the War, wiping out from history the consequences of the ruinous policy of appeasement

From this perspective, it is easy to grasp the essence of the concept of expounding the equality of the totalitarian regimes. It’s purpose is not just to belittle the Soviet contribution to the Victory, but also to retrospectively strip our country of its historic role as an architect and guarantor of the post-war world order, and label it a “revisionist power” that is posing a threat to the well-being of the so-called free world.

The Soviet Union disintegrated; the Berlin Wall, which had symbolically separated the two “camps,” fell; the irreconcilable ideological stand-off that defined the framework of world politics in virtually all spheres and regions became a thing of the past—yet these tectonic shifts unfortunately failed to bring the triumph of a unifying agenda. Instead, all we could hear were triumphant pronouncements that the “end of history” had come and that from now on there would be only one global-decision making center.

It is obvious today that efforts to establish a unipolar model have failed The transformation of the world order has become irreversible. New major players wielding a sustainable economic base seek to increase their influence on regional and global developments; they are fully entitled to claim a greater role in the decision-making process. There is growing demand for more just and inclusive system. The overwhelming majority of members of the international community reject arrogant neocolonial policies that are employed all over again to empower certain countries to impose their will on others.

All that is greatly disturbing to those who for centuries have been accustomed to setting the pattern of global development by employing exclusive advantages. While the majority of states aspire to a more just system of international relations and genuine rather than declarative respect for the UN Charter principles, these demands come up against the policies designed to preserve an order allowing a narrow group of countries and transnational corporations to reap from the fruits of globalization. The West’s response to the ongoing developments reveals true worldview of its proponents. Their rhetoric on liberalism, democracy and human rights goes hand in hand with the policies of inequality, injustice, selfishness and a belief in their own exceptionalism.

“Liberalism”, that the West claims to defend, focuses on individuals and their rights and freedom. This begs the question: How does this correlate with the policy of sanctions, economic strangulation and overt military threats against a number of independent countries such as Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea or Syria? Sanctions directly strike at ordinary people and their well-being and violate their social and economic rights.  How does the bombing of sovereign nations, the deliberate policy of destroying their statehood leading to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and condemning millions of Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians and representatives of other peoples to innumerable suffering adds up to the religious mosaic in the Middle East and North Africa.

In Europe, the proponents of liberal concepts get along quite well with massive violations of the Russian-speaking population rights in a number of EU and EU-neighbouring countries. Those countries violate multilateral international conventions by adopting laws that infringe language and education rights of ethnic minorities.

What is “Liberal” about visa denials and other sanctions imposed by the West on residents of Russia’s Crimea? They are punished for their democratic vote in favour of reunification with their historical homeland. Does this not contradict the basic right of the people to free self-determination, let alone the right of the citizens to freedom of movement enshrined in international conventions?

Liberalism, or rather its real undistorted essence, has always been an important component of political philosophy both in Russia and worldwide. However, the multiplicity of development models does not allow us to say that the Western “basket” of liberal values has no alternative. And, of course, these values cannot be carried “on bayonets”—ignoring the history of states, their cultural and political identities. Grief and destruction caused by “liberal” aerial bombings are a clear indication of what this can lead to.

The West’s unwillingness to accept today’s realities, when after centuries of economic, political and military domination it is losing the prerogative of being the only one to shape the global agenda, gave rise to the concept of a “rules-based order.” These “rules” are being invented and selectively combined, depending on the fleeting needs of the people behind it, and the West persistently introduces this language into everyday usage. The concept is by no means abstract and is actively being implemented. Its purpose is to replace the universally agreed international legal instruments and mechanisms with narrow formats, where alternative, non-consensual methods for resolving various international problems are developed in circumvention of a legitimate multilateral framework. In order words, the expectation is to usurp the decision-making process on key issues.

The intention of those who initiated this “rules-based order” concept affect the exceptional powers of the UN Security Council. A recent example: When the United States and its allies failed to convince the Security Council to approve politicized decisions that ccused, without any proof, the Syrian government of using prohibited toxic substances, they started to promote the “rules” they needed through the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). By manipulating the existing procedures in flagrant violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, they managed (with the votes of a minority of the countries participating in this Convention) to license the OPCW Technical Secretariat to identify those responsible for the use of chemical weapons which was a direct intrusion in the prerogatives of the UN Security Council. One can also observe attempts to “privatize” the secretariats of international organizations in order to advance interests outside of the framework of universal intergovernmental mechanisms in such areas as biological non-proliferation, peacekeeping, prevention of doping in sports and others.

The initiatives to regulate journalism seeking to suppress media freedom in an arbitrary way, the interventionist ideology of “responsibility to protect” which justifies violent “humanitarian interventions” without UN Security Council approval under the pretext of an imminent threat to the safety of civilians are part of the same policy.

Separately, attention should be paid to the controversial concept of “countering  violent extremism”, which lays the blame for the dissemination of radical ideologies and expansion of the social base of terrorism on political regimes that the West has proclaimed undemocratic, illiberal and authoritarian. This concept provides for direct outreach to civil society over the head of legitimate governments. Obviously, the true goal is to withdraw counterterrorism efforts from beneath the UN umbrella and to obtain a tool of interference in the internal affairs of states.

The introduction of such new concepts is a dangerous phenomenon of revisionism, which rejects the principles of international law embodied in the UN Charter and paves the way back to the times of confrontation and antagonism. It is for a reason that the West is openly discussing  new divide between “the rules-based liberal order” and “authoritarian powers.”

Revisionism clearly manifests itself in the area of strategic stability. The US torpedoing first the ABM Treaty and now the INF Treaty (a decision that enjoys unanimous NATO members’ support) have generated risks of dismantling the entire architecture of nuclear arms control agreements. The prospects of the Treaty of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the new START) are vague—because the US has not given a clear answer to the Russian proposal to agree to extend the New START beyond its expiry date in February 2021.

Now we are witnessing alarming signs that a media campaign in the United States is being launched to lay the groundwork for abandoning the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (which has not been ratified by the United States). This calls into question the future of the treaty, which is vital for international peace and security. Washington has embarked upon the implementation of its plans to deploy weapons in outer space, rejecting proposals to agree on a universal moratorium on such activities.

There is one more example of introducing revisionist “rules”. The US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, a multilateral agreement approved by the UN Security Council that is of key importance for the nuclear non-proliferation.

Yet another example is Washington’s open refusal to implement unanimous UN Security Council resolutions on the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the economic field, the “rules” consist of protectionist barriers, sanctions, abuse of the status of the US dollar as the principle means of payment, ensuring competitive advantages by non-market methods, and extraterritorial use of US laws, even towards the United States’ closest allies.

At the same time, our American colleagues are persistently trying to mobilize all of their foreign partners to contain Russia and China. Simultaneously they do not conceal their wish to sow discord between Moscow and Beijing and undermine multilateral alliances and regional integration projects Eurasia and Asia-Pacific that are operating outside of the US oversight. Pressure is extracted on those countries that do not play by the rules imposed on them and dare make the “wrong choice” of cooperating with US “adversaries”.

So, what do we have as a result? In politics, erosion of the international legal basis, growth of instability and unsustainability, chaotic fragmentation of the global landscape and deepening mistrust between those involved in the international life. In the area of security, blurring of the dividing line between military and non-military means of achieving foreign policy goals, militarization of international relations, increased reliance on nuclear weapons in US security doctrines, lowering the threshold for the use of such armaments, the emergence of new hotbeds of armed conflicts, the persistence of the global terrorist threat, and militarization of the cyberspace. In the world economy, increased volatility, tougher competition for markets, energy resources and their supply routes, trade wars and undermining the multilateral trade system. We can add a surge of migration and deepening of ethnic and religious strife. Do we need such a “rules-based” world order?

Against this background, attempts by Western liberal ideologues to portray Russia as a “revisionist force” are simply absurd. We were among the first to draw attention to the transformation of the global political and economic system that cannot remain static due to the objective march of history. It would be appropriate to mention here that the concept of multipolarity in international relations that accurately reflects emerging economic and geopolitical realities was formulated two decades ago by the outstanding Russian statesman Yevgeny Primakov. His intellectual legacy remains relevant now as we mark the 90th anniversary of his birth.

As is evident from the experience of recent years, using unilateral tools to address global problems is doomed to failure. The West-promoted “order” does not meet the needs of humankind’s harmonious development. This “order” is non-inclusive, aims to revise the key international legal mechanisms, rejects the principle of collective action in the relations between states, and by definition cannot generate solutions to global problems that would be viable and stable in the long term rather than seek a propaganda effect within an electoral cycle in this or that country.

What is being proposed by Russia? First of all, it is necessary to keep abreast of the times and recognize the obvious: the emergence of a polycentric world architecture is an irreversible process, no matter how hard anyone tries to artificially hold it back (let alone send it in reverse). Most countries don’t want to be held hostage to someone else’s geopolitical calculations and are determined to conduct nationally-oriented domestic and foreign policies. It is our common interest to ensure that multipolarity is not based on a stark balance of power like it was at the earlier stages of human history (for example in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century) but rather bears a just, democratic and unifying nature, takes into account the approaches and concerns of all those who taking part in the international relations without an exception, and ensures a stable and secure future.

There are some people in the West who often speculate that polycentric world order inevitably leads to more chaos and confrontation because the “centers of power” will fail to come to terms among themselves and take responsible decisions. But, firstly, why not try? What if it works? For this, all that is necessary is to start talks on the understanding that the parties should seek a balance of interests. Attempts to invest one’s own “rules” and impose them on all others as the absolute truth should be stopped. From now on, all parties should strictly comply with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, starting with the respect for the sovereign equality of states regardless of their size, system of government or development model. Paradoxically, countries that portray themselves as paragons of democracy actually care about it only as they demand from other countries to “put their house in order” on a West-inspired pattern. But as soon as the need arises for democracy in intergovernmental relations, they immediately evade honest talk or attempt to interpret international legal norms at their own discretions.

No doubt, life does not stand still. While taking good care of the post-WWII system of international relations that relies on the United Nations, it is also necessary to cautiously though gradually adjust it to the realities of the current geopolitical landscape. This is completely relevant for the UN Security Council, where, judging by today’s standards, the West is unfairly over-represented. We are confident that reforming the Security Council shall take into account interests of the Asian, the African and the Latin American nations whilst any such design must rest upon the principle of the broadest concensus among the UN member states. The same approach should apply to refining the world trade system, with special attention paid to harmonizing the integration projects in various regions.

We should use to the fullest the potential of the G20, an ambitious, all-encompassing global governance body that represents the interests of all key players and takes unanimous decisions. Other associations are playing a growing role as well, alliances projecting the spirit of a true and democratic multipolarity, based on voluntary participation, consensus, values of equality and sound pragmatism, and refraining from confrontation and bloc approaches. These include BRICS and the SCO, which our country is an active member of and which Russia will chair in 2020.

It is evident that without collective effort and without unbiased partnership under the central coordinating role of the UN it is impossible to curb confrontational tendencies, build up trust and cope with common threats and challenges. It is high time to come to terms on uniform interpretation of the principles and norms of international law rather than try to follow the old saying “might goes before right”. It is more difficult to broker deals than to put forward demands. But patiently negotiated trade-offs will be  a much more reliable vehicle for predictable handling of international affairs. Such an approach is badly needed to launch substantive talks on the terms and conditions of a reliable and just system of equal and indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasia. This objective has been declared multiple times at the top level in the OSCE documents. It is necessary to move from words to deeds. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) have repeatedly expressed their readiness to contribute to such efforts.

It is important to increase our assistance to the peaceful resolution of numerous conflicts, be it in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America or the post-Soviet space. The main point is to live up to the earlier arrangements rather than to invent pretexts for refusing to adhere to the obligations.

As of today, it is especially relevant to counter religious and ethnic intolerance. We urge all the nations to work together to prepare for the World Conference on Interfaith and Inter-Ethnic Dialogue that will be held in Russia in May 2022 under the auspieces of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the UN. The OSCE that has formulated a principled position condemning anti-Semitism should act with equal resolve towards Islamophobia and Christianophobia.

Our unconditional priority is to continue providing assistance to the unhindered formation of the Great Eurasian Partnership, a broad integration framework stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific that involves the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai ‘Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and all other countries of the Eurasian continent, including the EU countries. It would be unwise to contain the unifying processes or, worse still, to put up fences. It would be a mistake to reject the obvious strategic advantages of the common Eurasian region in an increasingly competitive world.

Consistent movement towards this constructive goal will allow us not only to keep up the dynamic development of the national economies and to remove obstacles to the movement of goods, capital, labour and services, but it will also create a solid foundation of security and stability throughout the vast region from Lisbon to Jakarta.

Will the multipolar world continue to take shape through cooperation and harmonization of interests or through confrontation and rivalry? This depends on all of us. Russia will continue to promote a positive and unifying agenda aimed at removing the old dividing lines and preventing the appearance of new ones. Russia has advanced initiatives to prevent an arms race in outer space, establish efficient mechanisms for combating terrorism, including chemical and biological terrorism, and to agree upon practical measures to prevent the use of cyberspace for undermining national security or for other criminal purposes.

Our proposal to launch a serious discussion on all aspects of strategic stability in the modern era are still on the table.

There have been ideas floated recently to modify the agenda and update the terms. The proposed subjects for discussion vary between “strategic rivalry” and “multilateral deterrence.” Terminology is negotiable, but it is not terms but the essence that really matters. It is now much more important to start a strategic dialogue on the existing threats and risks and to seek consensus on a commonly acceptable agenda. Yet another outstanding statesman from our country, Andrey Gromyko (his 110th birth anniversary we mark this year) sand wisely: “Better to have ten years of negotiations than one day of war.”

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The corporate tax reforms of Friday are seen as the biggest in India since 1991 when India opened up its gates to the global headwinds of liberalization.

" ["content"]=> string(7667) "

The corporate tax reforms of Friday are seen as the biggest in India since 1991 when India opened up its gates to the global headwinds of liberalization.

By slashing up to 10 per cent of the existing tax burden on the corporates, the Modi government has now made them internationally competitive, inviting investments both from within and abroad which in turn implies more growth, more jobs and more income—the surest way to spurt in consumption.

Good things under Modi government usually leave its opponent red-faced and into attempts at spitting the moon. Praise is impossible; prejudice is palpable and putsch is the goal.

Indian Express has an army of lowbrows and it’s always fun to see its toxic factory working overtime when good things are brewing.

So, this is how Indian Express reacted to Modi government’s Big Bang reforms of Friday:

“Analysts (no one is named or quoted) raise question over whether corporate would (indeed) reinvest the surplus, or (opt for) reducing debts or high shareholders’ returns.”

Smart alec isn’t it. I mean don’t we have the instance under UPA when provident funds of employees were swindled by powers? That scamsters like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya were given loans to pay off their existing loans? That real estate barons took our money and diverted it into other projects? That subsidies and cash-sops meant for the poor were siphoned off by profiteers? What’s the guarantee that present tax-sops would help the nation and not the corporate-honchos?

Indian Express has of course obscured a crucial piece of the jigsaw. It’s how attractive Indian companies would now be to foreign funds. India is now as attractive as any other Asian country, or almost all, for multinationals to invest or move their production/assemblage operations to India.

Both Indian Express, and its comrade-in-arms, The Hindu, have lamented the fiscal deficit which would grow after Friday’s measures. Tax-cuts would mean lesser revenue for the government and hence the income and spending divergence would grow further. Both have shed copious tears.  

But, as economist Surjit Bhalla tweets, the fiscal deficit arises from within. It’s endogenous, an outcome of policies…government budget deficit should be neither the goal nor the instrument of good policy. It’s the byproduct of good policy…Alas the lessons in Econ 000 escapes all the opposition and a large majority of professional economists in India.”

The Hindu goes at length to measure every penny which India would lose by way of these tax-cuts.  It says: “Ms Sitharaman said the revenue foregone is Rs 1.45 lakh crore…the bounty of Rs 1.75 lakh crore received from the Resere Bank of India, as dividend is obviously a cushion and it is this money that the government has now given away.”

Who are we to tell these foggies that no foreign investor invests in India because the “fiscal deficit” is not remarkable. They do it for growth since most of the world is starved for growth.

Sitaram Yechury, the known Modi-government baiter, is up to his old tricks: “Enriching Corporates: Heaping further miseries on people. Misappropriation of RBI reserves of Rs 1.76 lakh crore is now being transferred to corporates instead of being used for increasing public investment that will generate employment and boost demand.”

Kids’ stuff really. These were the same forces who were flashing a dipping Sensex as a sign that Indian economy has sunk. Now that Sensex has moved upwards like it never did in the last decade, they are suggesting that Sensex is no indicator of country’s economy!

Don’t think it would stop any soon. Modi would return from Houston and “Howdy, Modi” with a list of investments in India. It would rile these forces further. Sitaram Yechury is already saying that it’s a massive concession to foreign speculators.

I mean what do we do with such inimical forces who don’t see any good in Triple Talaq Act, Article 370 abrogation or Big Ticket reforms. When Parliament works at its optimum, there is a chorus what’s the rush in pushing through bills. When Ayodhya dispute is being unravelled daily, they have a problem with that too. Nothing which the citizens consider good for the country is deemed one by these forces.

Insufferables, I say.

(Post Script: Neither Indian Express nor The Hindu would tell you Prime Minister Narendra Modi used special powers to bring the ordinance to amend the finance bill to cut corporate tax rates before leaving for the US. Section 12 of the Cabinet rules empowers the PM to use the power of the Cabinet under special circumstances. Anything but Modi seen in good light.)

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First, the bitter truth. You are fed lies by the mainstream media.

" ["content"]=> string(10653) "

First, the bitter truth.

You are fed lies by the mainstream media.

They told you Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

They lied you about reasons to invade Libya.

That the revolution in Ukraine was people’s movement as it is in Hong Kong and Venezuela.

 That Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is despotic but Saudi Arabia is benign enough to be heading the UN Human Rights Commission!( This when Saudi Arabia in 2015 beheaded more people than ISIS)

That North Korea is a terror to the world even though it hasn’t attacked a single country all these years.

Iran is an eyesore even though it was faithful to the pact it had with the West and now millions of its citizen face starvation because of the US-inflicted sanctions which are not UN-mandated.

You never come to read the macabre truth of Africa where regimes are overturned and humanity is butchered every day as imperialists eye their land, labour and resources.

 Russia is certified aggressor even though it’s NATO which is encircling the beleaguered land.

The truth on terrorism which US claims to be in fight against would make you lose faith in humanity.

xxx

Closer home, a miniature version is Lutyens Media, wholly deceitful and corrupt.

 They would never question why PoK was never an agenda in the Congress hegemony; they would never report on the gruesome murders and brutal rapes on Kashmiri Pandits; millions of infiltrators in our East don’t prick their journalism of courage; tens of thousands of soldiers killed by naxals and terrorists are not martyrs in their eyes but only a brutal face of a repressive regime; their umbrella of protection is big enough to shelter Congress, TMC, SP, BSP, RJD, Left and what have you. Lynchings are for Muslims; religious persecution is for minorities only. Why bother that an Ankit or Gudiya have also paid with their lives and that a temple was vandalized in the very heart of the Indian Capital not long ago.

Don’t for a second think that Western and Lutyens Media are unrelated. They are part of a network: sharing scoops (e,g Panama Papers), editorial pages and a clutch of celebrities and personalities who are agents of Liberal Order, implying in the garb of protecting freedom, human rights and democracy, they cause defiant societies to implode from within. They work on the faultlines: Like in India, the Lutyens Media loses no opportunity to blow up any terrible incident against a Muslim or a Dalit; work on the gender and North-South divide; scare minority against the majority; preach their own brand of secularism – all of which of course takes flight in States where Hindus are in minority and repressed; gender-divide which doesn’t include Muslim women and secularism which doesn’t extend for example to Kashmiri Pandits. They subvert India’s history and heritage; culture and legacy; where mausoleums are celebrated and sublime temples are ignored. Ghar-Wapsi is a calamity but thousands of conversions in the countryside are a matter of celebration.

This network feeds each other into a size of a behemoth. Lutyens Media din a BBC, New York Times, CNN or Time into your ears and vice versa; the news agencies such as AFP, AP and Reuters are the feeding pipes as are social media giants Google, Facebook and Twitter who dump searches, bury voices or slap bans against all those which run contrary to Liberal Order.

How do you arrive at truth? The “base camp” of course is the voices which never reach you. In India, you could look at following websites and reason out yourself which could be closer to truth:

www.swarajyamag.com

www.opindia.com

www.newsbred.com

www.dharmadespatch.in

www.indiafacts.org

www.pgurus.com

www.hindujagriti.org

www.pragyata.com

www.thetruepicture.org

www.vijayvani.com

www.postcard.news

Abroad, I can suggest a handful which are puncturing the mainstream narrative with facts, logic and reason:

www.moonofalabama.org

www.counterpunch.org

www.scmp.org

www.tomdispatch.org

www.todayvenezuela.com

www.priceofoil.org

www.thenewhumanitarian.org

http://thesaker.is

http://theduran.com

www.21stcenturywire.com

www.orientalreview.org

www.intrepidreport.com

www.zerohedge.com

www.thelibertybeacon.com

www.ahtribune.com

www.greanvillepost.com

www.nationofchange.org (climate)

www.globalresearch.ca

www.off-guardian.org

www.mintpressnews.com

www.moderndiplomacy.eu

www.levantreport.com

http://journal-neo.org

www.tass.com

www.covertbookreport.com

www.asiatimes.com

www.southfront.org

www.yenisafak.com

www.geopoliticsalert.com

www.lobelog.com

www.intellinews.com

www.landdestroyer.blogspot.com

www.priceofoil.org

www.telesurenglish.net

www.misionverdad.com

https://venezuelanalysis.com/

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/

www.newsnet.fr   

Clearly the above voices are in the wilderness. They don’t reach you till you look for them. The biggest disadvantage is they are not mainstream.

What’s mainstream? Mainstream is the narrative which seamlessly weaves into your daily life. You accept the news beamed in your drawing rooms or the ones dropped in the morning in your frontyard is credible. They are credible because they speak of freedom, equality, liberty which appeals to human senses. (George Orwell had predicted long ago that good words would covey exactly the opposite meaning by ruling classes).  They are credible because everyone else finds them credible. You don’t want to be the odd man out. Lies constantly drummed become truth in due course.

How a sample of alternative media I have mentioned above could become mainstream? First admit the tall order because you are talking of dismantling the very narrative which you have been fed since you started walking. From your kindergarten schools to higher education to job, mainstream narrative becomes you. To unlearn what you’ve learnt all your life is difficult.

But truth like light has a way of shining through the pall of darkness. As 99% of the world become more dispossessed than they were in the 60s, they intuitively feel that Democrats or Republicans (US), Congress (India), Conservative or Labour (United Kingdom),  use the tool of Liberal Order to bond and feed on each other. Their goal is hegemony of the world, of our minds. Alternative views are systematically put out of sight.

It’s unlikely the alternative media could become mainstream. For that to happen, you first need to have a system (government, universities, academia, media) in place. That is most unlikely to happen. Liberal Order has monopolized lexicons of Liberty, Equality, Freedom and Democracy. You exposure on lies would be seen as conspiracy theories; your flashing of mirror in face would be dubbed whataboutery; you assertion of your culture and legacy would be labelled as one of a fundamentalist.

Narratives, however, do change when anti-mainstream opinions come to power, as it has in India (Narendra Modi), United States (Donald Trump) and Russia (Vladimir Putin) for example. They have been hoisted to power by millions of dispossessed and faceless citizens. Mainstream narrative willfully ignores them and they end up consolidating the alternative forces. It gives rise to foot soldiers--the websites I have mentioned above—to yank open the door further. There is a need to support these websites with funds and footfalls; provide a structure to what till now is an organic growth; organize seminars, institute awards, hold public dialogue vigorously. Have your own Nobel or Magsaysay Awards which are manipulated; Pulitzer or Booker prize which never gives space to alternative views.

Social Media is a good start but not a conclusive one as the Big Brother sooner than later would come back to bite you. So hold hands, spare time and money, and let the good word spread.

 

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Whenever Hong Kong protesters are destroying public property, there are no cameras of Western media outlets in sight. But when police decide to intervene, protecting their city, Western media crusaders emerge in full force.

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Whenever Hong Kong protesters are destroying public property, there are no cameras of Western media outlets in sight. But when police decide to intervene, protecting their city, Western media crusaders emerge in full force.

On Sunday, huge US flags were waving in the air. A massive demonstration, consisting of mainly young people, was moving up from the old British-built downtown area of the city towards the US Consulate General, often erroneously called the “embassy.”

The temperature was well over 30 degrees Celsius, but the number of ‘protesters’ kept growing. Many of the main arteries in Hong Kong were entirely blocked.

Western media were there in full force, wearing yellow fluorescent vests, their ‘Press’ insignia, helmets and masks. They mingled with the crowd, filming US flags, clearly enjoying the show.

“President Trump, Please Liberate Hong Kong,” I read on several posters.

“Liberate from whom?” I asked a cluster of protesters, all of them in ninja outfits, metal bars in their hands, black scarves covering their faces.

Several of them replied, mumbling something incomprehensible. One girl shouted defiantly:

“From Beijing!”

“But Hong Kong is China, isn’t it?” I asked. “How could it be liberated from itself?”

“No! Hong Kong is Hong Kong!” came a ready-made reply.

Nearby, I spotted British Union Jack, with old colonial-era Hong Kong coat of arms.

The big demonstration was clearly treasonous. Its members delivered a petition to the US consulate general, demanding that the US Congress pass legislation that would require its government to monitor and decide whether Hong Kong is ‘autonomous enough’ from the PRC, and whether it should then qualify for US trade and economic benefits.

All over the downtown area, hundreds of ‘ninjas’ were shouting pro-Western slogans. Here British-era HK flags were being waved, alongside the US flags.

I approached a young couple among the protesters, who were resting on a bench:

“Do your friends realize how brutal, undemocratic and oppressive was British rule? Do they know in what misery many Hong Kong citizens had to live in that era? And about censorship, humiliation…?”

“No!” They shouted at me, outraged. “It is all propaganda!”

“Whose propaganda?” I wondered.

“The propaganda of Beijing!”

At least they spoke some English. A bizarre thing about Hong Kong is that, while some people here would like to (or are perhaps paid to say that they’d want to?) have the British colonial administration back, a great majority of the people hardly speak any English now, while also refusing to speak Mandarin. Little wonder that Hong Kong is quickly losing its edge to the pro-Chinese and highly cosmopolitan Singapore!

But the demonstration was not where ‘the action’ really was and I knew it, intuitively.

The flag-waving march was a big staged event for the Western mass media. There, ‘pro-democracy’ slogans were chanted in an orderly manner. Nothing was burned, vandalized or dismantled wherever Western press cameras were present!

A few blocks away, however, I witnessed monstrous vandalizing, of one of the entrances to the Central subway (MTR) station. Hooligans who call themselves ‘protesters’ were ruining public property, a transportation system used by millions of citizens every day.

While they were at it, they also dismantled public metal railings that separate sidewalks from roadways. Metal bars from this railing were later utilized for further attacks against the city infrastructure, as well as against the police.

Umbrellas in the hands of ‘protesters’ were covering the crime scene. Umbrellas similar to those used in 2014, during the previous, so-called ‘Umbrella Uprising.’

No foreign reporters were in sight! This was not for the world. This was raw, real, and brutal.

“Don’t film!” covered mouths began shouting at me.

I kept filming and photographing. I was not wearing any press jacket or helmet or Press insignia. I never do, anywhere in the world.

They left me alone; too busy destroying the street. As they were dismantling public property, their backpacks, stuffed with portable players, were regurgitating the US national anthem.

My friend from Beijing wrote me a brief message:

“They are selling their own nation and people. We have very bad words for them in Chinese.”

But it is not only mainland China that is disgusted with what is happening in Hong Kong. Three major Hong Kong-based newspapers, Wen Wei Po, Ta Kung Pao and Hong Kong Commercial Daily, are all pro-Beijing, pro-police and are defining ‘protesters’ as “rioters” or “troublemakers” (in Chinese).

Among the big ones, only Ming Pao and Apple Daily, which are traditionally anti-Beijing, are defining ‘protesters’ as ‘gatherers’, ‘protesters’ and “liberators.”

Local citizens are mainly (as they’d been during the 2014 riots) hostile to the ‘protests’ but are scared to confront the mainly young, covered and armed (with metal bars and clubs) gangs. Some tried to, even in a luxury mall in the center of the city, and were brutally beaten.

‘Protesters’ seem to be on adrenalin, and in a highly militant mood. They gather and move in hordes.

Most of them refuse to speak.

What is important to understand is that, while the rioters are trying to spread the message that they are ‘fighting for democracy,’ they are actually highly intolerant to all those who disagree with their goals. In fact, they are violently attacking those with different opinions.

Furthermore, and this I have to spell out, after covering protests in literally hundreds of cities worldwide, from Beirut to Lima, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Paris, Cairo, Bangkok and Jakarta: what is happening in Hong Kong is extremely mild when it comes to police responses! Hong Kong police run well and fast. It created human chains, flashed a lot of light and sporadically used tear gas. It defends itself when attacked. But violence?

If you compare police actions here to those in Paris, it is all politeness and softness. Hardly any rubber bullets. Tear gas is ‘honest’ and not mixed with deadly chemicals, like it is in many other places, and administered in small doses. No water cannon spitting liquid full of urine and excrement, as in many other cities of the world. Trust me: I am an expert in tear gas. In Istanbul, during the Gezi Park uprising, protesters had to use gas masks, so did I. Otherwise you’d faint or end up in a hospital. People are also fainting in Paris. No one is fainting here; this is mild stuff.

As for the ‘other side,’ the level of violence from the protesters is extreme. They are paralyzing the city, ruining millions of lives. The number of foreign arrivals in Hong Kong is down 40 percent. Reception at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which is right next to Sunday’s battles, told me that most of the rooms are now empty, and during the ‘events’, the hotel is cut off from the world.

And what about their traitorous demands? Would this be accepted anywhere in the world? Flying flags of a foreign country (in this case, of the USA) and demanding intervention?

Hong Kong “pro-democracy activist leaders” like Joshua Wong are clearly colluding with Western interests and governments. He and others are spreading, constantly, what anywhere else would be described as fake news. For instance, “My town is the new Cold War’s Berlin,” he recently declared. Yes, perhaps, but not because of the HK government, but because of his own actions and the actions of people like himself.

Coverage of events by Western mass media is clearly selective and that is putting it mildly. Actually, many media outlets from Europe and North America are ‘adding fuel to the fire.’ They are encouraging rioters while exaggerating the actions of local police. I am monitoring and filming their work and what I see is outrageous!

I am writing this report in Tai Kwun Center. Now world-famous art complex (of  the “new, Chinese Hong Kong”), this used to be the Central Police Station under the British occupation, as well as so-called Victoria Prison Compound.

Mr. Edmond, who works for the center, explains:

“If there was a referendum now, the so-called protesters would not win. They would lose. This is an internal issue of China, and it should be treated as such. A continuation of the 2014 events. What changed this time is that the protesters are opting for extreme violence now. People of Hong Kong are scared; scared of them, not of the authorities.”

Here, prisoners were confined and executed, during British rule. Not far away from here, monstrous slums were housing deprived subjects of the queen. After the Brits left, those slums were converted to public parks.

Life in Hong Kong improved. Not as fast as in neighboring Shenzhen or Guangzhou, but it improved. The reason Hong Kong is being ‘left behind’ is because of its antiquated British-era laws, rules and regulations, its extreme capitalist system; because of “too little of Beijing”, not “because of too much of it.”

These hooligans are going against the interests of their own people, and their own people are now cursing them. Not loudly, yet, as rioters have clubs and metal bars, but cursing.

Western media chooses not to hear these curses. But China knows. It hears. I hear Hong Kong people, too.

Chinese curses are terrifying, powerful. And they do not dissolve in thin air.

(Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including China and Ecological Civilization. The above piece first appeared in Russia Today).

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I conversed with Mahatma Gandhi in dreams last night. I was in heaven with a collection of his thoughts and words—“India Of My Dreams”—and spotted the Bapu in a corner spinning khadi wheel. He looked healthy, probably because the sinful Indian Express and The Hindu are barred from heavens. I touched his feet, squatted in front and opened the book which, truth to tell, pleased him. My subject was his views on Hindi language and I had bookmarked his specific utterances on the matter. I read on:

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I conversed with Mahatma Gandhi in dreams last night. I was in heaven with a collection of his thoughts and words—“India Of My Dreams”—and spotted the Bapu in a corner spinning khadi wheel. He looked healthy, probably because the sinful Indian Express and The Hindu are barred from heavens. I touched his feet, squatted in front and opened the book which, truth to tell, pleased him. My subject was his views on Hindi language and I had bookmarked his specific utterances on the matter. I read on:

“I have the greatest faith in the Dravidians someday taking up Hindi study seriously. If an eighth of the industry that they put in mastering English were to be devoted to learning Hindi, instead of the rest of India, remaining a sealed book to them, they will be one with us as never before…The Dravidians being in a minority, national economy suggests that they should learn the common language of the rest of India than that the rest should learn Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malyalam in order to be able to converse with Dravidian India” (Young India 16-6-’20)

Bapu, do you realize the folly of your words? That how profitable it is for local forces to keep the rest of India a sealed book for its audience? Sure, the Commie rags play their part: They never mention that Adi Shankracharya was a Dravidian; that a host of CBSE schools which teach Hindi are run by DMK/AIDMK leaders. If I was to make your words known to them, your statutes or framed images would be blackened or put to fire.

“Little does anyone know that almost all the Tamils and the Telugus living in South Africa can carry on an intelligent conversation in Hindi.” Young India (16-6-’20).

Again Bapu, how does it matter? Even Latin is compulsory in schools in England. But this is whataboutery. The ground reality is, a famous actor (Kamal Haasan) promises burning fields in his state if Hindi was introduced in the curriculum.

“Bengal and Madras are the two provinces that are cut off from the rest of India for want of knowledge of Hindustani on their part. Bengal, because of its prejudice against learning any other language of India…”(Young India 2-2-’21)

Sure Bapu, Bengal and Madras remain cut off from rest of India to this day. Sure, Mamata Banerjee cries “Bengali pride” from rooftops. Sure, DMK leader Stalin (never mind he has a European and not a Dravidian name) has given a call for agitation against Hindi later this week. I only hope you were more discreet. Just imagine if Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to quote you on the subject?

“A knowledge of English opens up intercourse only with the comparatively few English-knowing Indians, whereas a possible knowledge of Hindustani enables us to hold intercourse with the largest number of our countrymen. (Young India 2-2’-21)

Bapu, they are doing well as it is. They pay income-tax for rest of India. It’s another matter most of it is recovered with interest from the Centre when Chennai drowns in flood once every two years. Most of its population reaps the benefit of Centre’s SC/ST schemes. Why bother?

“If we were not living in artificial conditions, the people living in the South will not consider the learning of Hindi as a strain on them, much less a superfluity….If it is to be for and of the starving millions, of the illiterate millions, of the illiterate women, of the suppressed ‘untouchables’, Hindi is the only possible common language.” (Young India, 18-6-31)

Sorry Bapu, they do speak for starving millions and “untouchables” when the Elections are around. They also speak about illiteracy admittedly though only of Muslims. I am afraid it’s nothing less than “imposition” you are suggesting. All you would do is to produce South Indian versions of Nathuram Godse.

“The cry of “mother tongue in danger” is either ignorant or hypocritical. And where it is sincere it speaks little for the patriotism of those who will grudge our children an hour per day for Hindustani. We must break through the provincial crust if we are to reach the core of all- Indian nationalism. Is India one country and one national or countries and many nations.” (Harijan, 10-9-’38)

Bapu do you realize the monstrosity of your outreach? Do you realize you echo every syllable of BJP/RSS on nationalism? Who would now celebrate October 2 as your 150th birth anniversary in Dravidian India? How long do you think Congress would keep owning you up?

Bapu had long stopped spinning his wheels. He was staring me, long and hard. His spectacles had cracked. The poor goat of his had started bleating. He looked around—none of his favourites, Nehru or Azad, were in heaven. Sardar Patel was a neighbour but had long disowned him for betraying him with India’s prime ministership. The likes of Subhas Bose and Bhagat Singh were never enamoured of him. Gurudev Tagore had long turned sceptical of him. I felt sorry for the great man. The entire Congress party rode on his shoulders for close to a century. They mouthed platitudes on his every birth anniversary. Political leaders made a beeline for Rajghat on his death anniversary. His beaming face adorns nation’s currency. Yet they have shunned his ideology. Gandhi is not for defending; he is a blank cheque to encash for the dynasts.

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A typical day when I hit roads in my car in the Capital. The roads themselves have three types of variations.

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A typical day when I hit roads in my car in the Capital. The roads themselves have three types of variations.

One is in the neighbourhood which teems with shops, cows, pedestrians, vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Here you could find our Virat Kohlis and Saina Nahiwals of future under the benign doting glances of their parents on the balcony.  Schools-buses come every afternoon in the weekdays; alien cars make a stop in front of floors which rent young lives that celebrate weekends with booze, music and dance.  Navigation requires yogic-contortions. Baring smiles on ladies who occupy a patch of lane for their daily round of gossip is a daily act. Here are no traffic lights.

Out of my sector are the big, bad roads. Traffic here is always slow, a bane of our municipal corporations who hadn’t accounted for a future of burgeoning cars, lakhs of flats and millions of residents. Now there is a scramble to collect the daily waste, roads dug to wire our homes with competing WiFis, multiple gaps in dividers for vehicles to switch over from left to right and vice-versa.  Not that it matters to we the citizens: We simply opt for wrong side of traffic flow, braving ugly glances, gesticulating hands and showers of curse. How does it matter when a second of time and an ounce of fuel has been successfully saved?

All this before you hit your first traffic lights of the day. They usually take offs half a week. You can’t blame them either: We the traffic are colour-blind to their signals. It’s indiscreet to press on accelerators when it’s Green; It’s too idealistic to stop on Reds unless and until shrivelled beggars and their acrobat sons and daughters fulfil your idea of charity; or desperate men with fake editions of Sidney Sheldon and Irving Stone in your face reflect your educated background.

The next hour is a tribute to your ever-growing vocabulary on abuses. English swear-words are too polite. They are no match to our Punjabi and Hindi lexicons. The worst ones are reserved for the two-wheelers who swarm around your vehicle; darting from left and write, brushing your bumpers, navigating a gap you thought didn’t exist between two cars. Invariably you are forced to move out of right-most lane where the slowest of vehicles is lording over the lane meant for the fastest. There are three-wheelers who couldn’t care less if their iron frames scratch your newly-painted car or goods carriers who move slower than a bicycle and make you swerve wildly to the hail of abuses in the background.

The irony is, all of these troubles could actually be your work to the others. You too jump traffic lights; you too speak on your mobile as you drive; you too drive against the traffic once in a while and it’s been ages since you submitted your car for a pollution check. You too subdue the traffic police with your rank and position if a folded 100-rupee note isn’t a good-enough grease to his palms.

So you too are part of the problem. Other traffic violators have turned you into one. Or it could be you who has turned others into traffic violators. Daily we hit the roads, daily we come back cursing the jungle that is out there on the roads. We are not wrong too when we curse the rogue mobike-rider who you nearly killed or one who ran a scratch across the length of your car. You also swear at the governance which leaves huge potholes and unmanned traffic lights out there. Submerged roads could test out the lungs of your car; or worse you could’ve an idea how a submarine floats under the water.

So, on the terrifying jungle out there which could maim or kill you and your dear ones, all the stakeholders- people, traffic planners and regulators—are guilty. Planners don’t have a vision for future; Enforcers are corrupt and we the people have turned monsters on the road. Like millions of gods we have on different aspects of our lives, we need to invent a traffic Ganesha too for our wellbeing.

Let’s now view the new whip which has angered most in this country. Most of us are either dipping deep into our pockets or crowding the Pollution Control centres on gas stations. We find the measures too draconian what if our registration, insurance and pollution papers are not in order. We aren’t counting the benefits which discipline would bring on our roads and provides umbrella against pelting hefty medical bills.

At the outset there is every reason to applaud the transport minister Nitin Gadkari. He has been vocal on the Motor Vehicles Amendment bill for more than two years. He spent months in consultations with the states before finalizing and winning the ascent from the Parliament. He has shown a bloody-mindedness ignoring populism and discomfiture within his own ranks.

Three states go for elections in next three months and are all headed by BJP—Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand. But for Haryana, the other two aren’t willing to face people’s wrath. Gujarat has brought down the fines by almost 90 per cent; Karnataka and Uttarakhand would implement the Act but reduce the fines to just a slap on the wrist. Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Tripura haven’t even implemented it.

Non-BJP states have only poured scorn on the new Motor Vehicles Act. Congress, which runs Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Punjab have put the new Act on hold. Rajasthan would implement it but the fines would be reduced to a minimum.

There is no second-guessing the “non-BJP” states of West Bengal, Kerala and Odisha. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is vocal that she wouldn’t implement the Act and burden her people. Kerala initially implemented the bill but now has put it on hold. The Odisha government of Naveen Patnaik has announced a three-month moratorium on the new Act. Interestingly, the Delhi government of Arvind Kejriwal is all in support of the Act.

It’s clear populism and politics would finally prevail over prudence. Our dharnas, noise and cribs matter to politicians. Asking us to wear seat belts, ride with helmets, follow zebra-crossing is too much of an ask. As it is to the tilted-heads on mobikes, using shoulders to attend calls on their mobile-phones.

Is this the entire truth? Doesn’t a couple with two small children, an old mobike and a few thousand rupees for a salary have a compulsion of their own on roads? Don’t we have faulty traffic signals? Don’t poor people buy a spluttering vehicle for a pittance only because it’s without papers? Don’t we have bus-stops right after the traffic-lights? Does the new Act take into account the last man on the road?

Good governance is one thing; populism is another. One leaves us with standardized conduct out on the streets; the other leaves us with chaos and anarchy. Good governance is never a zero-sum game: A few would always suffer in a society of extreme disparity. We have always longed for a government which governs for the good of the people. Now that we have it, we should strengthen and not weaken it.

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Iran has shown its hurt on India which has unilaterally stopped the import of its oil, unwilling to stand in the corner of the adversaries of the United States.

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Iran has shown its hurt on India which has unilaterally stopped the import of its oil, unwilling to stand in the corner of the adversaries of the United States.

Ali Chegeni, Iranian Ambassador to India, didn’t mince his words in a press briefing in New Delhi on Tuesday, chiding India for succumbing to the “sanctions” of the United States.

The Donald Trump administration is going berserk in his attempt to destroy Iran, first pulling out of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) despite Iran being faithful to the deal and piling on with economic sanctions without approval from its allies or world community in the form of United Nations.

India hasn’t imported oil from Iran for months now and couched its action as “reduced” and not “stopped” to suit its independent image. But now that Iran has gone public, India has been shown as having been arm-twisted by the United States.

Fans of India’s prime minister Narendra Modi and his muscular foreign policy could feel cheated as a multi-polar world—against the unipolar bullying of United States—is nearer to being a reality.

Russia and China, hit by sanctions and trade wars, are now joined at hips and Iran is a vital clog in their drive to keep Middle East, even Eurasia, out of bounds for the United States. European Union (EU) has created INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) to keep trading with Iran without resorting to direct transfers of money between the two entities. India is seen as one final piece of jigsaw of the emerging multi-polar world which would signal the further unravelling of US’ hegemony.

To be sure, the United States is one hell of an economic power and throws its weight to bring nations under its heel. It’s the nerve centre of global economy. Be it goods or money; data or transportation, the world doesn’t move much without the express will of the United States.   

The United States is the kingpin of globalization. It anchors International Monetary Fund (IMF). It controls over 50 per cent of the venture capital, all but 10 per cent of currency trade use its dollars.  Tech and finance doesn’t move without its dollars; it could cripple phone-operating systems of the world; it controls the fund-management assets. As The Economist puts it: “Across the panel, it’s normal to use a Visa card, invoice exports in dollars, sleep beside a device with a Qualcomm chip, watch Netflix and work for a firm that BlackRock invests in.”

If a firm is blacklisted, no bank would touch you with a barge pole and you are put outside the dollar payment system. There is a law in place which controls the foreign investment into Silicon Valley—if you fall foul, you could virtually say goodbye to transactions in semiconductors and software, a virtual ruination in today’s world.

Economy isn’t the imperative though which has guided India’s change of course vis-à-vis Iran. India needs to hedge its bets. That’s the demand of the geopolitics reality. It neither can annoy the chief actors of the drama nor it can afford to align itself with either of the two groups: United States vs the Russia-China combine.  If it snuggles up to the United States, it loses the strategic and military advantage of Russia. It provokes China to join hands with Pakistan and cause mayhem on its borders. If it slips into the arms of Russia-China, it must brace itself to the devastation which the United States could unleash, like the one they have in Hong Kong.

India thus follows the sensible policy of keeping its suitors interested. Both the United States and China need India. The United States in its existential mission to squeeze China and badly needs India. China wants to keep India dormant for the same reason. It can’t afford a naval configuration of United States-Japan-Australia-India to spike its waters.

India too needs to do a balancing act of its own. So it relents on South China Sea to ensure China doesn’t help Pakistan to the extent its borders are put under siege. It relents to United States’ demand on Iran to ensure its military purchases from Russia are unimpaired. It knows the mischief the United States is capable of.  India internally is in an ideological churn. And the United States is expert in fishing in troubled waters. Kashmir could so easily go horribly wrong.

I suspect Modi’s India, in its heart, is for a multi-polar world. United States doesn’t follow rules, it isn’t friends with anyone. All it wants is servility. Those who are independent—like Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, China, North Korea or Iran—face its wrath.  India is still some leagues away  before it could trust China completely and dump the United States for good. India is pivotal to Project Eurasia but can’t afford to annoy either of the two blocs. It’s a watchful tread by them.

It’s just not the United States: India has also made a choice in warming up to Saudi Arabia-Israel in the Middle East. They are Iran’s sworn enemies. By drawing close to the Gulf Muslim nations, India has left Pakistan sterile. Pakistan’s fervent appeal on religious lines to Muslim nations has drawn a very tepid response on Kashmir. Instead we have the situation where Modi is being accorded the highest civilian honour in UAE and Bahrain.  This comes in the backdrop of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Maldives conferring similar honours to him. It has isolated Pakistan on Kashmir.

Iran has shown it can’t wait for India interminably.  It doesn’t want to be a minor player in India’s international diplomatic games. It’s a perfectly legitimate response given how Iran and its’ proud people are waging a war for survival. Modi government though is in the thick of its own war with internal and external enemies.  One hopes, through the backdoor diplomatic channels,  India and Iran remain warm to each other. Till the time is ripe.

It’s good for the world.

 

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There’s no way to follow the complex inner workings of the Eurasia integration process without considering what takes place annually at the Eastern Economic Forum in Valdivostock.

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There’s no way to follow the complex inner workings of the Eurasia integration process without considering what takes place annually at the Eastern Economic Forum in Valdivostock.

BRICS for the moment may be dead – considering the nasty cocktail of economic brutalism and social intolerance delivered by the incendiary “Captain” Bolsonaro in Brazil. Yet RIC – Russia-India-China – is alive, well and thriving.

That was more than evident after the Putin-Modi bilateral summit in Vladivostok.

A vast menu was on the table, from aviation to energy. It included the “possibility of setting up joint ventures in India that would design and build passenger aircraft,” defense technologies and military cooperation as the basis for “an especially privileged strategic partnership,” and a long-term agreement to import Russian crude, possibly using the Northern Sea Route and a pipeline system.”

All that seems to spell out a delightful revival of the notorious Soviet-era motto Rusi-Hindi bhai bhai (Russians and Indians are brothers).

And all that would be complemented by what may be described as a new push for a Russia-India Maritime Silk Road – revival of the Chennai-Vladivostok maritime corridor.

Arctic to the Indian Ocean

Chennai-Vladivostok may easily interlock with the Chinese-driven Maritime Silk Road from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean and beyond, part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Simultaneously, it may add another layer to Russia’s “pivot to Asia”.

The “Pivot to Asia” was inevitably discussed in detail in Vladivostok. How is it interpreted across Asia? What do Asians want to buy from Russia? How can we integrate the Russian Far East into the pan-Asian economy?

As energy or trade corridors, the fact is both Chennai-Vladivostok and Belt and Road spell out Eurasia integration. India in this particular case will profit from Russian resources traveling all the way from the Arctic and the Russian Far East, while Russia will profit from more Indian energy companies investing in the Russian Far East.

The fine-print details of the Russia-China “comprehensive strategic partnership” as well as Russia’s push for Greater Eurasia were also discussed at length in Vladivostok. A crucial factor is that as well as China, Russia and India have made sure their trade and economic relationship with Iran – a key node of the ongoing, complex Eurasian integration project – remains. (NewsBred: That’s a multi-polar world for you, out of the grips of unipolar world of the United States).

As Russia and India stressed: “The sides acknowledge the importance of full and efficient implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program for ensuring regional and international peace, security and stability. They confirm full commitment to Resolution 2231 of the UN Security Council.”

Most of all, Russia and India reaffirmed an essential commitment since BRICS was set up over a decade ago. They will continue to “promote a system of mutual transactions in national currencies,” bypassing the US dollar.

One can easily imagine how this will go down among Washington sectors bent on luring India into the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy, which is a de facto China containment mechanism.

Luring Chinese capital

In terms of Eurasian integration, what’s happening in the Russian Far East totally interlocks with a special report on China’s grand strategy across the Eurasian heartland presented in Moscow earlier this week.

As for Russia’s own “pivot to Asia,” an essential plank of which is integration of the Russian Far East, inevitably it’s bound to remain a complex issue. A sobering report by the Valdai club meticulously details the pitfalls. Here are the highlights:

– A depopulation phenomenon: “Many well-educated and ambitious young people go to Moscow, St. Petersburg or Shanghai in the hope of finding opportunities for career advancement and personal fulfillment, which they still do not see at home. The overwhelming majority of them do not come back.”

– Who’s benefitting? “The federal mega projects, such as the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline, the Power of Siberia gas pipeline or the Vostochny Cosmodrome produce an increase in gross regional product but have little effect on the living standards of the majority of Far Easterners.”

– What else is new? “Oil and gas projects on Sakhalin account for the lion’s share of FDI. And these are not new investments either – they were made in the late 1990s-2000s, before the proclaimed “turn to the East.”

– The role of Chinese capital: There’s no rush towards the Far East yet, “in part because Chinese companies would like to mine natural resources there on similarly liberal terms as in Third World countries, such as Angola or Laos where they bring their own workforce and do not overly concern themselves with environmental regulations.”

The raw material trap: Resources in the Russian Far East “are by no means unique, probably with the exception of Yakutian diamonds. They can be imported from many other countries: coal from Australia, iron ore from Brazil, copper from Chile and wood from New Zealand, all the more so since the costs of maritime shipping are relatively low today.”

– Sanctions: “Many potential investors are scared off by US sanctions on Russia.”

The bottom line is that for all the pledges in the “comprehensive strategic partnership,“ the Russian Far East has not yet built an effective model for cooperation with China.

That will certainly change in the medium term as Beijing is bound to turbo-charge its “escape from Malacca” strategy, to “build up mainland exports of resources from Eurasian countries along its border, including the Russian Far East. The two recently built bridges across the Amur River obviously could be of help in this respect.”

What this means is that Vladivostok may well end up as a major hub for Russia and India after all.

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As I pen this short essay, Iran is standing against the mightiest nation on earth. It is facing tremendous danger; of annihilation even, if the world does not wake up fast, and rush to its rescue.

" ["content"]=> string(6398) "

As I pen this short essay, Iran is standing against the mightiest nation on earth. It is facing tremendous danger; of annihilation even, if the world does not wake up fast, and rush to its rescue.

Stunning Iranian cities are in danger, but above all, its people: proud and beautiful, creative, formed by one of the oldest and deepest cultures on earth.

This is a reminder to the world: Iran may be bombed, devastated and injured terribly, for absolutely no reason. I repeat: there is zero rational reason for attacking Iran.

Iran has never attacked anyone. It has done nothing bad to the United States, to the United Kingdom, or even to those countries that want to destroy it immediately: Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Its only ‘crime’ is that it helped devastated Syria. And that it seriously stands by Palestine. And that it came to the rescue of many far away nations, like Cuba and Venezuela, when they were in awful need.

I am trying to choose the simplest words. No need for pirouettes and intellectual exercises.

Thousands, millions of Iranians may soon die, simply because a psychopath who is currently occupying the White House wants to humiliate his predecessor, who signed the nuclear deal. This information was leaked by his own staff. This is not about who is a bigger gangster. It is about the horrible fact that antagonizing Iran has absolutely nothing to do with Iran itself.

***

Which brings the question to my mind: in what world are we really living? Could this be tolerable? Can the world just stand by, idly, and watch how one of the greatest countries on earth gets violated by aggressive, brutal forces, without any justification?

I love Iran! I love its cinema, poetry, food. I love Teheran. And I love the Iranian people with their polite, educated flair. I love their thinkers. I don’t want anything bad to happen to them.

You know, you were of course never told by the Western media, but Iran is a socialist country. It professes a system that could be defined as “socialism with Iranian characteristics”. Like China, Iran is one of the most ancient nations on earth, and it is perfectly capable of creating and developing its own economic and social system.

Iran is an extremely successful nation. Despite the embargos and terrible intimidation from the West, it still sits at the threshold of the “Very high human development”, defined by UNDP; well above such darlings of the West as Ukraine, Colombia or Thailand.

It clearly has an internationalist spirit: it shows great solidarity with the countries that are being battered by Western imperialism, including those in Latin America.

***

I have no religion. In Iran, most of the people do. They are Shi’a Muslims. So what? I do not insist that everyone thinks like me. And my Iranian friends, comrades, brothers and sisters have never insisted that I feel or think the same way as they do. They are not fanatics, and they do not make people who are not like them, feel excluded. We are different and yet so similar. We fight for a better world. We are internationalists. We respect each other. We respect others.

Iran does not want to conquer anyone. But when its friends are attacked, it offers a helping hand. Like to Syria.

In the past, it was colonized by the West, and its democratic government was overthrown, in 1953, simply because it wanted to use its natural resources for improving the lives of its people. The morbid dictatorship of Shah Pahlavi was installed from abroad. And then, later, again, a terrible war unleashed against Iran by Iraq, with the full and candid support of the West.

I promised to make this essay short. There is no time for long litanies. And in fact, this is not really an essay at all: it is an appeal.

As this goes to print, many people in Iran are anxious. They do not understand what they have done to deserve this; the sanctions, the US aircraft carriers sailing near their shores, and deadly B-52s deployed only dozens of miles away.

Iranians are brave, proud people. If confronted, if attacked, they will fight. And they will die with dignity, if there is no other alternative.

But why? Why should they fight and why should they die?

Those of you, my readers, living in the West: Study; study quickly. Then ask this question to your government: “What is the reason for this terrible scenario?”

Rent Iranian films; they are everywhere, winning all festivals. Read Iranian poets. Go eat Iranian food. Search for images of both historic and modern Iranian cities. Look at the faces of the people. Do not allow this to happen. Do not permit psychopathic reasoning to ruin millions of lives.

There was no real reason for the wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. The West perpetrated the most terrible imperialist interventions, ruining entire nations.

But Iran – it all goes one step further. It’s a total lack of logic and accountability on the part of the West.

Here, I declare my full support to the people of Iran, and to the country that has been giving countless cultural treasures to the world, for millennia.

It is because I have doubts that if Iran is destroyed, the human race could survive.

(Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including China and Ecological Civilization. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”)

 

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Since the launch of Chandrayaan-2 on July 22, 2019, India and the world watched its progress from one phase to the next with great expectation and excitement.

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(Professor K. Vijay Raghavan is the principal scientific advisor of Government of India. In a twitter thread, he has outlined the benefits of Chandrayaan-2 Mission despite its failure to land safely on Moon on Saturday. Here is the entire thread for the benefit of NewsBred readers).

Since the launch of Chandrayaan-2 on July 22, 2019, India and the world watched its progress from one phase to the next with great expectation and excitement.

 

The Chandrayaan-2 mission is very complex, and a signficiant technological leap from previous missions of ISRO. This brought together an Orbiter, Lander and Rover to explore the unexplored south polar region of the Moon.

This unique mission, aimed at studying not just one area of the Moon but also its exosphere, the surface and sub-surface in a single mission.

The Orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the Moon and shall enrich our understanding of the Moon’s evolution, map minerals, water molecules in the polar regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments.

The precise launch and mission management has ensured a long life of almost seven years instead of the planned one year. Here is a list of cutting-edge science that will come from the Orbiter.

From ISRO:

The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar missiokn so far and has already started providing high-resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community.

Orbiter camera: The pictures I saw this morning were truly extraordinary. TMC 2 is a miniature version of the Terrain Mapping Camera used onboard the Chandrayaan-1 mission.

TMC 2’s primary objective is mapping the lunar surface in the panchromatic spectral band (0.5-0.8 mirons), high spatial resolultions (5m), swathe (20 km from 100 km lunar polar orbit). Data will give clues about the Moon’s evolution, prepare 3D maps of the lunar surface.

CLASS measures X-ray Flourescence (XRF) spectra to detect elements such as Magnesium Aluminium, Silicon, Calcium, Titanium, Iron and Sodium. The XRF technique will detect these elements by measuring the characteristic X-rays they emit when excited by the Sun’s rays.

XSM observes the X-ray emitted by the Sun and its corona, measures the intensity of solar radiation in these rays, and supports CLASS. Provides solar X-ray spectrum in the energy range of 1-15 keV.

XSM will provide high-energy resolution and a high-cadence measurements (full spectrum every second) of solar X-ray spectra as input for analysis of data from CLASS.

Imaging Infra-red spectrometer (IIRS) has two primary objectives: global mineralogical and volatile mapping of the Moon in the spectral range of -0.8- 5.0 pm for the first time, at the high resolution of -20nm.

IIRS second objective: Complete characterization of water/hydroxyl feature near 3.0 pm for the first time at high spatial (-90m) and specral (-20nm) resolutions.

One more from IIRS: It will also measure solar radiation reflected off the Moon’s surface in 256 contiguous spectral bands from 100km lunar orbit.

One more from IIRS: will also measure solar radiation reflected off the Moon's surface in 256 contiguous spectral bands from 100 km lunar orbit

 

Dual-frequency (L and S) synthetic aperture radar (SAR) will provide enhanced capabilities compared to Chandrayaan 1’s S-band miniSAR in areas such as L-band for greater depth of penetration (about 5m-twice that of S-band).

SAR: Circular and ful plarimetry- with a range of resolution options (2-75m) and incident angles (9 degree-35 degree) – for understanding scattering properties of permanently shadowed regions.

SAR: The main scientific objectives of this payload are: High-resolution lunar mapping in the polar regions. Quantitative estimation of water-ice in the polar regions. Estimation of regolith thickness and its distribution.

Chandrayyan Atmospheric compositional explorer 2 (CHACE 2) will continue the CHACE experiment carried out by Chandrayaan 1.

CHACE 2 is a Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer (QMA) capable of scanning the lunar neutral exosphere in the mass range of 1 to 300 amu with the mass resolution of ~0.5 amu.

CHACE 2's primary objective is to carry out an in-situ study of the composition and distribution of the lunar neutral exosphere and its variability.

Dual Frequency Radio Science Experiment (DFRS) To study the temporal evolution of electron density in the Lunar ionosphere.

DFRS: Two coherent signals at X (8496 MHz), and S (2240 MHz) band are transmitted simultaneously from satellite, and received at ground-based deep station network receivers.

The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km to just below 2 km above the surface.

All systems and sensors of the Lander functioned excellently until this point. Tested and proved many new technologies such as the variable thrust propulsion technology used in the Lander.

Success criteria were defined for each and every phase of the mission and so far 90 to 95% of the mission objectives have been accomplished and will continue to contribute to Lunar science. notwithstanding the loss of communication with the Lander.

ISRO project review teams made presentations to mission management, Chaired by Dr. Sivan right through the early hours of today onward. They are already addressing causes and learning from the events.

After a moment of despondency, it is back to work!! It is inspirational to see this characteristic of science in collective action. Kudos to ISRO.

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If you were a Rajdeep Sardesai or Shekhar Gupta or Barkha Dutt, you would wish for a return of pre-2014 days.  You could write or broadcast what you wanted, unchallenged, unquestioned; behemoth of India’s media, sought by global media outlets; prime ministers and presidents, kings and queens, knocking at your door for interviews; film stars lining up as if for auditions. You were firmly in your ivory tower, never seen in grocery shops or bookstores, metros or airports, malls or traffic stops.

" ["content"]=> string(5465) "

If you were a Rajdeep Sardesai or Shekhar Gupta or Barkha Dutt, you would wish for a return of pre-2014 days.  You could write or broadcast what you wanted, unchallenged, unquestioned; behemoth of India’s media, sought by global media outlets; prime ministers and presidents, kings and queens, knocking at your door for interviews; film stars lining up as if for auditions. You were firmly in your ivory tower, never seen in grocery shops or bookstores, metros or airports, malls or traffic stops.

Then winds changed. India’s right-wingers took hold in Centre. Websites, such as OpIndia and Swarajyamag among others, began nicking the bubble. The lies were exposed, bigotry was unmasked, anti-Hindu stance was bared in public. History began breaking free from the narrative of glorious Mughals, valiant Tipu Sultan, soothing Amir Khusru and pacifist Ashoka. One began viewing a Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Audrey Truschke, Sheldon Pollock in the light they deserved. Amartya Sen and Raghuram Rajan lost their halo. The benign mask of neutrality dropped like shame around our film stars and directors. Writers and academicians were revealed to be peddlers. Jurists and legal luminaries were found to be men of straw.

An avalanche was thus set in motion. The ecosystem began drowning in the outrage of the masses. Narendra Modi won over the poor; the intelligent found the counter-narrative on social media. Eco-system upped the game, terming every threat as trolls or bhakts. Internet warriors, on their part, found new converts. Eco-system termed the rivals as fake news peddlers. Lutyens Media began organizing debates and seminars to save their turf. Anyone or anything which didn’t agree with them was “fake news”.  The entire game was one of credibility – and they were losing it. The 2019 Elections confirmed their worst fears.

Now a new round of conflict has been set in motion. The eco-system has realized they have been outnumbered. Social Media platforms are rallying such mass to grow in size. The “fake news” narrative hasn’t helped. So they have now launched a new initiative. This initiative doesn’t just have newspapers and news agencies, it has also roped in biggies like the Google, Facebook and Twitter. “Fake News” has been given a new name of “misinformation.” What was seen as “local” divide in Indian context, now has acquired “global” dimension. We might just have stumbled upon the global network which feeds and breeds this “eco-system” to disrupt India.

The Hindu has a front-page anchor today where it has grandiosely announced that it is partnering BBC and other global media outlets to fight the “misinformation” in public domain. That it wants to protect its audience. That BBC set it in motion through a “Trusted News Summit” earlier this year. That those in it together include European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Facebook, Financial Times, Google, AFP, Microsoft, Reuters, Twitter, BBC and of course The Hindu. That,they would alert each other when a “misinformation” is to be fought.

It’s a new challenge to India’s internet warriors. So far, we knew the bias of, say Twitter, which suspended accounts (e.g of  True Indology, Sonam Mahajan etc) made twitterati remove tweets (Paresh Rawal) while those with similar offence (Shehla Rashid etc) kept flourishing. Netizens were able to dig up the dirt on Raheel Khursheed, CEO of Twitter (2014-2018), on his pro-Pakistan bias. Parliamentarians were outraged enough to summon twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. The clamour against Twitter’s alleged bias has only grown bigger in our times. Dorsey has admitted his staff could be overwhelmingly Left-leaning.

So how should internet warriors respond to this openly-aligned forces against them? First, it must leverage its numbers. Every sixth of twitter’s worldwide users is from India. Is has grown in leaps and bounds in last two years. This collective might must be leveraged by netizens, hopefully under the benevolent gaze of the government.

The time perhaps has also come for India to come up with their own micro-blogging platform such as one of Sina Weibo which China has. It’s a mix of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. India could thus also protect its own data. The internet giants would have no option but to fall in line.

Importantly, The eco-system is getting ready to bite you—what’s your response?

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On the two sides of political divide, India’s Right and Left-Liberals, only a handful enjoy a persona such as P. Chidambaram. He is an elite among elitists, second only to Gandhis, and his gravitas in public appearances suggests of a man bred in arrogance. He isn’t of a light-banter type, back-slapping his friends. Never a dhoti and a khadi shirt has been worn with a swagger which could put  rockstar in shade.

" ["content"]=> string(5536) "

On the two sides of political divide, India’s Right and Left-Liberals, only a handful enjoy a persona such as P. Chidambaram. He is an elite among elitists, second only to Gandhis, and his gravitas in public appearances suggests of a man bred in arrogance. He isn’t of a light-banter type, back-slapping his friends. Never a dhoti and a khadi shirt has been worn with a swagger which could put  rockstar in shade.

Chidambaram wears a smile which he could patent. It’s a benign, patronizing smile, never warm, only a favour which he is bestowing to his audience. When he speaks, there is this cocked eyebrow judging you on your incompetence. He is that Pope of politics who is used to reverence from his audience.

In a sense, it’s a classic cloak borrowed off from the Nehru-Gandhis: A benevolent knight, God’s chosen one for his people, who must have his cake while the masses must revel in the crumbs. A blue-blooded Congressman never questions the scions; and never lets down the coterie and sycophants who must do his bidding.

The morning after Tihar got arguably its most famous occupant, Lutyens Media who breed and multiply like mosquito do in sewers and gutters, were busy treating the moment as a victory of sorts. Hindustan Times lettered “Chidambaram, Karti get relief from arrest”;  Times of India made much of Supreme Court disapproving of High Court judge quoting Enforcement Directorate (ED) note; The Hindu didn’t forget to mention Chidambaram and son got anticipatory bail in Aircel-Maxis money laundering case;  and Indian Express, the daddy of them all, front-paged “Judge-slams-agencies”.

I mean a heavyweight-like-few-others is in notorious Tihar jail. Chidambaram is a thread which could showcase the entire gamut of alleged corruption in the decade (2004-2014) of UPA rule, reveal the arteries and veins which gutted body India, arguably institutionalized corruption; sterilized bureaucracy and defanged investigating agencies. It has a far bigger implication for the present and the future then a mere judicial custody. Yet our Lutyens Media has just taken a note of his arrest: There are no sermons, no digging up the dirt, no editorial – nothing.

The servile TV channels for once were not too keen on TRPs. None of them stationed their cameras in front of Tihar Jail for images which could have lasted them a week. No helicopters like they did once as Sanjay Dutt was being whisked to the Yerwada jail. These were the very channels who were aghast when CBI men were jumping the fence of Chidambaram’s residence. Yet the TV grabs of the year were not shot, nor archived for posterity. As if they wanted to erase people’s memory, sanitize history.

I scanned the timeline of Shekhar Gupta, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose etc on twitter and found nothing this morning. JUST NOTHING.  The one of Barkha Dutt though was outrageous. She may have changed media affiliations faster than actors change clothes in a song sequence but her crooked logic is unimpaired.

Ms Dutt is aghast as to why Congress is not taking to the streets on the matter of P. Chidambaram! Could you believe it! Ms Dutt is asking Congress to mobilize public opinion and come out in support of its two stalwarts (the other one being DK Shivakumar). She would rather have the party alienate the people than dump the allegedly corrupt. She is exhorting Congress to defend the two infamous.  She views DK Shivakumar as a fire-fighter for Congress; and can’t get over the fact that the Party has done no better than depute its legal luminaries or arrange just a press conference for P. Chidambaram. She is asking Sonia and Rahul to sit outside PC’s residence and court arrest alongside him. She is asking if Priyanka Gandhi could accompany Robert Vadra, why not here? Barkha sure is a queen of the bizarre.

It is no different to how Lutyens Media treated the Sunanda Pushkar murder (yes, murder now that it has been established she was poisoned). There was no journalism of courage, no intense gaze which could penetrate the layers of deception. Or how they treated the Sonia-Rahul bail in National Herald case, AgustaWestland and many other scams: just in passing. It’s different from the anniversary they run on an Akhlaq and a Pehlu Khan; a Gauri Lankesh or an Asifa Bano.

There is no escaping the fact that a few luminaries and media houses are part of this “eco-system.” This eco-system is willing to ignore corruption, blood stains, violence, seditious conduct and harm to this country as long as it serves their agenda. Their sense of democracy and secularism has a skewed prism. Never lose an opportunity to hang them out to dry.

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If this is not on a war-footing what else is. Come October 2 and the Centre could announce a ban on a slew of Single-Use Plastic (SUP) items for us folks. All 4000-odd urban local bodies must segregate recyclable and non-recyclable plastic waste;  5 lakh sarpanchs (village heads) and swachhagrahis (cleanliness volunteers) would receive a personal exhortation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi; and Himalayan region and other eco-fragile zones would be made plastic-free. There is a mile of other initiatives which could be read here.

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If this is not on a war-footing what else is. Come October 2 and the Centre could announce a ban on a slew of Single-Use Plastic (SUP) items for us folks. All 4000-odd urban local bodies must segregate recyclable and non-recyclable plastic waste;  5 lakh sarpanchs (village heads) and swachhagrahis (cleanliness volunteers) would receive a personal exhortation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi; and Himalayan region and other eco-fragile zones would be made plastic-free. There is a mile of other initiatives which could be read here.

This is a giant leap in the fight against plastic. We all look smart in being lucid against plastic over a coffee with friends. But we do little. We ignore that plastic is not biodegradable (that is, it wouldn’t decompose into a natural substance like soil) and its’ devastating lives on land or water. From the straws we use to the cups of Starbucks Coffee; from the water-bottles to the cutlery we use at airports; from our grocery bags to the chips packet we pick up from gas stations, every bit of plastic is indestructible. Dormant or burnt in landfills, plastic keeps releasing toxic chemicals which find its way into our food and water supply. It contaminates the air we breathe. It is linked to cancer, birth defects, impaired immunity, respiratory and endocrine problems and many, many more. It eats into the soil nutrients and impairs its vitality. Plastic is the Frankenstein of our own making.

A lot of plastic we litter blows into nature's wilderness. Wild animals and birds can’t ingest them and starve to death since their intestines fall blocked. A prized Cape buffalo in Delhi zoo has become one such victim. Last year, it was an elephant. Half of all camels that die on the Arabian Peninsula each year are its prey. One of Japan’s famous Nara Park deer was found to have a 4.3kg of plastic in its stomach. Eight African elephants died in Zimbabwe in 2016: the list is endless.

Over 100,000 marine mammals and over 1 million sea birds die by plastic every year. One recent study has found plastic inside every single whale, dolphin and seal examined. By 2050, there would be more plastic than fish in the ocean. Aquatic mammals mistake plastic for food and either ingest them or become entangled by plastic. As it blocks their digestion system, they eventually die a slow and painful death. The ecology of the ocean is shattered. Death of one species is an existential issue for others. 

The thing is, we all can be hands-on to this problem. It doesn’t take much either; just a little mindfulness. You could have a zero waste kit which has a reusable or paper straw; a collapsible coffee cup; reusable cutlery, disposable cup, bamboo toothbrush, eco-friendly wraps, cloth bags etc. It’s the best way to make a statement outdoors; makes you look progressive too. There are multiple choices for such a kit. We are living in a finite world and its’ infinite exploitation simply is unsustainable.

So be in sync with your government which is walking the talk. Already, in the headquarters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Capital, water bottles have been banned following Modi’s public exhortation on Independence Day last month. Where once was stack of cartons of water bottles and garbage containers which overflowed with used ones, there is now jugs and paper glasses to meet the needs.

This new course correction would surely hurt the food and beverages-producing giants. But profit can’t ride over the existential crisis. Amazon and Walmart are already pulling up socks. Amazon has announced it would remove non-recyclable plastic from its deliveries in India by June 2020. It won’t have the air-pillows and bubble wraps it used to protect products. Now it would be padding made out of paper. Walmart-owned Flipkart, India’s biggest e-commerce company, has set a deadline of March 2021 for itself. This would be a moment of reckoning for multinational giants who lineup our fridges with soft-drinks and water bottles. India abounds in restaurant chains, just running over the names of a few would give you an idea of how mammoth the scale is. The argument that SUP helps us fight food waste, keeping food and water fresher for long duration, cuts out contamination and is cost-effective simply won’t cut ice.

This is a fight in which we all are together. For our own survival.

 

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His roof didn’t quite come down on him, but it did chase Gunwant around his farm. That image remains vividly etched in his mind. “The tin-roof of the shed on the edge of our land was torn off and came flying towards me,” he recalls. “I hid under a pile of hay and managed to come out injury-free

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His roof didn’t quite come down on him, but it did chase Gunwant around his farm. That image remains vividly etched in his mind. “The tin-roof of the shed on the edge of our land was torn off and came flying towards me,” he recalls. “I hid under a pile of hay and managed to come out injury-free.”

It isn’t every day you get chased by a roof. The one Gunwant Hulsulkar was running from in Ambulga village had been ripped off by deadly winds accompanying a hailstorm there this April.

Emerging from under the hay-pile, Gunwant, 36, could barely recognise his own farm in Nilanga taluka. “It couldn’t have lasted more than 18-20 minutes. But the trees had fallen off, dead birds were scattered around, and our livestock was badly injured,” he says, pointing to the damage-marks left by the hailstorm on the trees.

There is a hailstorm or unseasonal rain every 16-18 months,” says his mother Dhondabai, 60, sitting on the steps outside her two-room stone and mortar house in Ambulga. In 2001, her family shifted from cultivating pulses (urad and moong) to nurturing mango and guava orchards across their 11 acres. “We need to look after the trees through the year, but an extreme weather event of just a few minutes destroys our entire investment.”

It wasn’t a one-off phenomenon that occurred this year. Extreme weather episodes, including torrential rainfall and even hailstorms, have showed up in this part of Maharashtra’s Latur district for over a decade now. Uddhav Biradar’s small one-acre mango orchard, also in Ambulga, collapsed in a 2014 hailstorm. “I had 10-15 trees. They died with that storm. I made no effort to revive them,” he says.

“The hailstorms continue,” 37-year-old Biradar adds. “It was painful to see the trees after the storm of 2014. You plant them, take care of them, and then they are blown away in minutes. I do not think I could go through all this again.”

Hailstorms? In Latur district of the Marathwada region? This is a place where, for well over half the year, the mercury is at or above 32 degrees Celsius. The latest hailstorm struck in the first week of April this year when temperatures ranged between 41 and 43 degrees.

But as almost every farmer here will tell you in exasperation, they can no longer figure out the behaviour of the taapman, havaman and vatavaran (temperature, weather and climate).

What they do comprehend is that the number of rainy days annually has dropped, while the count of hotter days has risen. In 1960, the year Dhondabai was born, Latur could expect at least 147 days annually that would see temperatures of 32 degrees or above, as data from an app on climate change and global warming posted by the New York Times shows. This year, that would be 188 days. When Dhondabai turns 80, there could be 211 of these very hot days.

 “It’s hard to believe we are approaching the end of July,” Subash Shinde told me when I visited his 15-acre farm in Ambulga last month. The farm looks barren, the soil is brown and bears not a hint of green buds. Shinde, 63, takes out a handkerchief from his white kurta and soaks off the sweat from his forehead. “I usually sow soybean by mid-June. This time around, I might stay away from the kharif season altogether.”

Farmers like Shinde, in this 150-kilometre stretch linking southern Latur to Hyderabad in Telangana, mainly cultivate soybean. Till around 1998, Shinde says, jowar, urad and moong were the primary kharif crops here. “Those required consistent rainfall. We needed a timely monsoon for a decent harvest.”

Shinde and most others here shifted to soybean around the year 2000 because, he says, “it is a flexible crop. If the weather patterns change a bit, it does not collapse. It was attractive in the international market as well. We ended up saving money at the end of the season. Plus, the post-harvest leftovers of soybean could serve as animal fodder. But over the past 10-15 years, even soybean has not been able to deal with the erratic monsoons.”

And this year, “those who have sown their crops are now regretting it,” says G. Sreekanth, collector, Latur district. “Because the initial showers have been followed by a dry spell.”  There has been only 64 per cent sowing (all crops) across the district. In Nilanga taluka, 66 per cent. Obviously, soybean, which accounts for over 50 per cent of total cropped area in the district, has taken a big hit.

Latur is in the agricultural region of Marathwada and has a normal annual average rainfall of 700 mm. The monsoon arrived on June 25 this year and has been erratic since. At the end of July, Sreekanth told me that there had been a 47 per cent shortfall below the normal rainfall for that period.

In the early 2000s, says Subash Shinde, an acre of soybean yielded 10-12 quintals on an investment of around Rs. 4,000. Nearly two decades later, the price of soybean may have doubled from Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 3,000 a quintal, but, he says, cultivation costs have tripled and per acre output has halved.

The data of the State Agricultural Marketing Board support Shinde’s observations. In 2010-11, soybean acreage was 1.94 lakh hectares, and production was 4.31 lakh tonnes, says the Board’s website. In 2016, soybean covered 3.67 lakh hectares, but production was just 3.08 lakh tonnes. An 89 per cent increase in acreage, but a 28.5 per cent fall in production.

Madhukar Hulsulkar, 63, Dhondabai’s husband, points to another feature of the present decade. “Since 2012, our use of pesticides has increased a lot. Just this year, we have had to spray 5-7 times,” he says.

Dhondabai chips in with more insights on the changing landscape. “We used to come across kites, vultures and sparrows regularly earlier,” she says. “But for the past 10 years or so, they have become rarer and rarer.”

“Pesticide use in India is still below one kilogram per hectare,” says Atul Deulgaonkar, Latur-based environmental journalist. “The US, Japan and other advanced industrial nations use 8 to 10 times as much. But they regulate their pesticides, we do not. Ours contain cancerous elements, which affect the birds around the farm. It kills them.”

Shinde blames critical changes in climate patterns for the productivity drop. “We used to have 70-75 rainy days in the four-month monsoon period [June-September],” he says. “It would drizzle, consistently and gently. In the past 15 years, the number of rainy days has halved. When it does rain, it pours maddeningly. And that is followed by a 20-day dry spell. It is impossible to farm in this weather.”

The India Meteorological Department’s data for Latur support his observations. In 2014, rainfall in the four monsoon months was 430 mm. The next year, 317 mm. In 2016, the district got 1,010 mm in those four months. In 2017, that was 760 mm. Last year, Latur got 530 mm in the monsoon season, of which 252 mm came in the single month of June. Even in the years where the district receives its ‘normal’ rainfall, the spread and dispersal have been most uneven.

As Chandrakant Bhoyar, senior geologist with the Groundwater Surveys and Development Agency, points out: “Torrential rainfall in a limited time results in soil erosion. When, instead, it drizzles consistently, that helps the groundwater recharge.”

Shinde can no longer depend on groundwater because his four borewells are, more often than not, dry. “We used to strike water at 50 feet, but now even borewells 500 feet deep are dry.”

That throws up other problems. “If we do not sow enough, there is no fodder for the animals,” says Shinde. “Without water and fodder, farmers are unable to maintain their livestock. I had 20 head of cattle until 2009. Today, just nine.”

Shinde’s mother, Kaveribai, still sharp and alert at 95, says “Latur was a hub of cotton since Lokmanya Tilak introduced it here in 1905.” She sits on the floor with folded legs and needs no help to get up. “We used to have ample rainfall to cultivate it. Today, soybean has taken its place.”

Shinde is happy his mother gave up active cultivation around two decades ago – before the hailstorms began. “They devastate the farmland within a few minutes. The biggest sufferers are those who own orchards.”

In this relatively better-off southern belt, orchard-growers have indeed been particularly hit. “The last hailstorm came in April this year,” says Madhukar Hulsulkar, taking me into the orchard where many yellow spots are visible on the tree trunks. “I lost fruit worth Rs. 1.5 lakhs. We are down to 50 trees from the 90 we began with in 2000.” Now he’s considering giving up on orchards as “the hailstorms are becoming inevitable.”

Latur has, over a century, seen many shifts in cropping patterns. Once dominated by jowar (sorghum) and other millets, and to a lesser extent maize, it took to cotton in a big way from 1905.

Then came sugarcane from 1970, sunflower briefly, and large-scale soybean cultivation from 2000. The spread of cane and soybean was quite spectacular. In 2018-19, cane covered 67,000 hectares (say data from the Vasantdada Sugar Institute, Pune). And from one sugar factory in 1982, Latur now has 11. With the cash crops came the inescapable borewell explosion – there is no count of how many have been drilled – and intense groundwater exploitation. Over a 100 years of cash cropping in a soil historically attuned to millets has had its inevitable impacts on water, soil, moisture and vegetation.

Also, forest cover in Latur is just 0.54 per cent, says the state government website. Below even the pathetic Marathwada-wide average of 0.9 per cent.

“It would be wrong to make a narrow causal equation between all these processes and climate change,” says Atul Deulgaonkar. “And difficult to support with hard evidence. Also, such change occurs across large regions and not within the human-drawn boundaries of a district. Marathwada, of which Latur is a small part, is experiencing profound changes in some ways linked to growing agro-ecological imbalances.

“But some correlation between the multiple processes does seem to exist across the larger region. And it is intriguing that extreme weather episodes and hailstorms really arrived and surged a decade after the last big crop shift and major changes in land use and technologies. Even if human activity cannot be condemned as the cause, it certainly contributes in significant measure to the climatic imbalances we’re seeing.”

Meanwhile, people are bewildered by the rising number of extreme weather episodes.

“Every agricultural cycle puts farmers under greater stress,” says Gunwant Hulsulkar. “That’s one of the reasons behind farmers suicides. My kids would be better off working as clerks at a government office.” His perspective on farming has changed with the climate.

“Agriculture increasingly seems a waste of time, energy and money,” says Subash Shinde. It was different in his mother’s time. “Farming was our natural choice,” says the effusive Kaveribai.

When I bid Kaveribai farewell with a namaste, she offers me a handshake instead. “Last year, my grandson saved money and made me travel on a plane,” she says with a proud grin. “This is how someone greeted me on the flight. The weather is changing, I thought our greeting habits should also change.”

 

(This piece is courtesy Counterpunch.org and written by Partha M.N.  He is a 2017 PARI Fellow and an independent journalist reporting for various news websites. His nationwide reporting project on climate change is part of a UNDP-supported initiative to capture the phenomenon through the voices and lived experience of ordinary people).

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Indian Express is going to length to find voices which could question the Centre on its fiat on Jammu & Kashmir, notably on constitutional, human rights and its federal-character-under-assault grounds.

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Indian Express is going to length to find voices which could question the Centre on its fiat on Jammu & Kashmir, notably on constitutional, human rights and its federal-character-under-assault grounds.

Conveniently kept out of view is terrorism, loss of tens of thousands of civilian/army lives and billions of tax-payers money which never reached the commoners of the troubled state.

The newspaper doesn’t have a stance on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, that minorities were discriminated against in the state, that caste reservations was out of bounds; and that 106 Central Laws (Prevention of Corruption Act, Land Acquisition Act, Right to Education Act, National Commission for Minorities Act etc) were rendered lifeless by those who governed the Centre and Srinagar.

Where are people in Indian Express’ discourse? Do we hear from them on Jammu and Ladakh which has bigger area and still bigger population than the Valley? Where are its investigating geniuses who hide from its readers that Kashmir Valley gets more financial allocation that what Jammu and Ladakh divisions, put together, are provided for? Why it escapes them that the per-capita subsidy to J & K is 16 times more than West Bengal and 12 times more than Bihar?

In its’ Sunday’s edition today (September 1, 2019), Indian Express has flushed out a Supreme Court lawyer Aman Hingorani who turned a doctoral research into a book (Unravelling the Kashmir Knot) and now has an entire page dedicated to his discourse to the crème da la crème of the Capital on the Constitutional heist which the Modi government has pulled off in J & K.  The newspaper takes Hingorani’s discourse on a page they pompously call “Explained”.  The man himself is preening to his audience that at the end of his discourse, they would realize the futility of Centre’s move. (You dumbs, here I am to get you rid of your ignorance).

I am not sure if it was an interactive session or Hingorani’s monologue. But since Express claims the session was meant to benefit its’ readers, I as one of its most long-lasting consumer, have a few questions for Hingorani and I hope they are not inconvenient enough to be ducked by both the newspaper and the “star” it has peddled today.

HINGORANI:The Accession terms were the same in J & K as it was for other princely states.  But while other princely states merged their territory into India, Jammu and Kashmir refused to do so…

Question: Please avoid the misinformation that all other princely states had merged their territory into India. Junagadh and Hyderabad hadn’t.  They were intransigent compared to a prostrated Maharaja Hari Singh of J & K.  But while Junagadh and Hyderabad succumbed to India’s military pressure, J & K was allowed to dictate terms.

Now how did that happen? Was it because Junagadh and Hyderabad were managed by Sardar Patel while J & K was left to be Pt. Nehru’s toy? Your turn Mr Hingorani.

HINGORANI: Article 370 had been emptied long ago…It had never come in the way of New Delhi dealing with the state in the way it wanted to deal with the state.

Question: Article 370 was the stepping stone on which Article 35 and 1954 Presidential Order were later added. It allowed J & K to have a separate constitution, a state flag and autonomy over the internal region of Kashmir.  It allowed the state government to discriminate against Hindu and Sikhs who migrated at Partition; against Valmikis of Punjab whom they lured with the promise of citizenship but never delivered.

Article 370 makes a mockery of Article 14 which guarantees equality before the law and the principles of liberty. As we know, not everyone living in J & K could vote in the election to the state assembly. Further, Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, sex, place of birth or race etc.

So Mr Hingorani, could you please revisit your position in light of the facts obscured in your discourse?

HINGORANI: Many states have restrictions on people buying land, what’s so special about it (Article 370)?

Question:  Let me rephrase this question and see Mr Hingorani what’s your response: Which are other states where a woman, if she marries outside her state, is denied rights over land? Ok, here’s a dollop of escape route I let you have: Just name one state.

HINGORANI: India can’t go to United Nations and then say (Kashmir) is an internal issue…

Question: So Mr Hingorani, what did United Nations do when Pakistan not only occupied a part of Kashmir but also later ceded 20% of the entire area, Gilgit-Baltistan etc, to China? What right Pakistan has on the area of Kashmir it has illegally occupied? What rights Pakistan has of ceding Kashmir to China which has no claim over the territory? Did they take the route of people’s referendum? Was there any instrument of accession signed that you are so fond of quoting?  Hasn’t United Nations become irrelevant on Kashmir? If it hasn’t, then why didn’t United Nations make any noise after India’s move this month: That wait, this matter is under us, and India can’t decide on its own on J & K?

HINGORANI:  Presidential Rule is an emergency provision. It is not meant for taking far-reaching decisions…

Question:  And you think 70 years spent in the quagmire still doesn’t confer an emergency-status to J & K. If the application of President’s Rule now is a travesty of justice, what would you say to the Presidential Order of 1954? Does our constitution bind the President not to take such a decision? If it doesn’t, what’s your gripe?

HINGORANI:  Can you use emergency provisions to dismember and destroy the identity of a state?

Question:  You call it dismembering of state but not question the latter which had no time for Ladakh. You would call it destruction of identity of state but would make no mention that how come Kashmir Valley, with lesser population and lesser area, had 46 assembly seats to Jammu’s 37           in the state assembly. Isn’t it a stolen identity? Who did it? Didn’t it allow Muftis and Abdullahs perpetuity in power? Was it subversion or empowerment of democracy?

It’s important we interject when our newspapers peddle a one-sided warped discourse. It’s certainly not neutral or unbiased. It’s easy to hide behind the cloak that it’s a writer’s own personal view.  But when none of your editorials present any piece which speaks for Kashmiri Pandits, minorities, deprivation of central laws or the welfare of SC-STs in J & K or even question why after 70 years the lot of Kashmiris haven’t improved, then it’s legitimate to ask: Who are you speaking for?

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After Nirbhaya Case in 2012, The Criminal Laws were amended in 2013.

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After Nirbhaya Case in 2012, The Criminal Laws were amended in 2013.

After Kathua case in 2018, the laws were amended again.

But still Mandsaur happened.

Are the Indian laws weak or the government missed to fill the most important loophole in the criminal justice system?

After Nirbhaya in 2012, Justice JS Verma Committee was formed which recommended changes in the criminal law. The then UPA government accepted those recommendations and amended the criminal law. The entire country and media hailed the move.

After Kathua, the people and the media were again outraged and forced the Narendra Modi-led NDA government to again change the law. In April 2018, the criminal laws were again amended, providing death penalty for child rapists. That’s it, we thought. But then Mandsaur happened.

To Know what actually went wrong both in 2013 and 2018, what both UPA and NDA missed we would have to understand the complex criminal procedure in a simple way.

Once a FIR is registered, the officer is given 90 days time to investigate the case, collect evidence and submit the chargesheet after the accused person/persons are arrested.  In 99.99% cases, the investigating officer takes 60-80 days to complete everything and submit a chargesheet.

Nirbhaya’s case remains the only one in which Delhi Police completed the entire investigations and submitted the chargesheet in the court in record 17 days’ time.

Once the chargesheet is submitted in court, it is carefully scrutinized and then the magistrate remands the case to the session court for further proceedings. The session court then frames the charges against the accused persons and trial stage commences.

The trial stage commences with the recording of evidences. The statement of the witnesses are recorded in the court and simultaneously these witnesses are cross-examined by the defense counsels of the accused persons and case properties are also exhibited and examined by the court.

The recording of evidence is the most important part of the case and has to be most carefully done so that nothing is left to chance. It is also the stage in which fair and ample opportunity has to be given to the accused to prove his innocence.

Even in Nirbhaya’s case, the trial commenced on February 2, 2013. The prosecution side presented 85 witnesses in its support, each and every witness was carefully examined and cross-examined. It took almost six months to examine these 85 witnesses.

After the prospecution evidence is complete, the statement of the accused is reorded. It is a direct conversation between the judge and the accused where the judge puts various questions to the accused on the evidence presented against him.

After the statement of the accused, the defense side produces its evidence and witnesses in favour of the accused person(s) to prove their innocence beyond doubt.

After the recording of the defense witnesses, the court then proceeds to hear the final arguments in the case. The prosecution side is heard first and the defense to rebut it, later. The court, after hearing both the sides, reserves the judgment.

However, before the pronouncement of the judgment, the court may summon any person or witness for re-examination if it is necessary, under the powers given in  Section 311 (CrPC).

The court then delivers the judgment on whether the accused are guilty on innocent. If the declares him guilty, then the court immediately moves to hear the arguments on the punishment, where the prosecution argues for maximum punishment and defense pleads for lesser quantum of punishment.

The court, after hearing both sides, delivers the punishment for the accused and thus ending the gruesome trial stage of the case.

In Nirbhaya’s case, it took eight months and nine days to complete the trial stage with accused given death penalty on September 13, 2013.

Many would think with the death penalty given, the problem ends. But it is the start of the actual problem of the criminal justice system. The death sentence is then sent to the High Court for confirmation and the accused is/are given 30 days to file an appeal against the judgment.

And this is the start of the long and tedious appeal stage in the high court which in normal cases, takes 4-5 years for the high court to pronounce the judgment to confirm the death penalty to the accused.

Again, the Nirbhaya’s case remains the only one in which the high court confirmed the death sentence to the accused in just six months on March 13, 2013.

But every case is not the same and every victim is not Nirbhaya.

After the high court judgment, the appeal to Supreme Court lies, The Supreme Court in normal cases takes 6-7 years to deliver judgment. The procedure doesn't ends here. Then comes the review petition, curative petition and lastly the Presidential pardon which takes 3-4 years more.

 

So, in a normal case it takes around a good 12-14 years to hang a culprit. The criminal law amendments of 2013 and 2018 gave a time frame for the trial court to complete the trial and pronounce the judgment. But the legislatures forgot to bound the high court and the Supreme Court.

 

What should be done now?

 

I urge the prime minister Narendra Modi to bring an immediate ordinance to change the above procedure in rape cases in which the trial court awards death penalty with the following changes:

 

(a)   Once the death penalty is awarded by the trial court, the appeal against death penalty should lie only with the Supreme Court within one month of the judgment;

(b)   It should be compulsory for the Supreme Court to complete the hearing and pronounce the judgment within six months;

(c)    The remedy of review petition and curative petition in Supreme Court must be scrapped for rape convicts awarded death penalty by the Supreme Court;

(d)   The mercy petitions to the President should be decided by the latter within three months

 

With the above-suggested changes, the time frame of 12-14 years to hang a culprit should come down to 1-2 years and the fear of death so soon would deter any person to commit the heinous crime of rape.

 

It’s also the duty of the citizens to raise their voice and draw attention to the government to an extent that such changed in the criminal law are facilitated and no more Nirbhayas or Gudiyas would have to wait for years to get justice.

 (Vibhor Anand is a Delhi-based lawyer in the Supreme Court. He is involved in various social issues. He runs Legal Advice Services where legal experts offer help free of charge. The helpline numbers are: 9871499769/987117269/9871130769. The above piece has also appeared as a thread on his twitter timeline.)

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India and Pakistan have started whipping up support in their corners as the Ring that is Jammu and Kashmir gets ready for a trade of punches.

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India and Pakistan have started whipping up support in their corners as the Ring that is Jammu and Kashmir gets ready for a trade of punches.

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan wants his people on the streets in solidarity against the rearranged status of Jammu and Kashmir while Narendra Modi is reserving the month of September for his ministers’ outreach to people in 35 state capitals and 370 cities.

The momentum is with India where Modi has secured a cheque of gratitude from a billion people and possibly from history too on the once intractable issue of Kashmir.  He has second guessed almost everyone including the global powers, jihadi nuts in the Valley and secessionists forces within India. It’s nearly a month and India hasn’t fired a single bullet in anger.

Imran Khan is relying on propaganda and the good offices of China without realizing that slaves could only stare at the feet, and not go at the throat of the masters. It has a good ranch of guerillas, terrorists and Talibans but to take on world’s second largest army, bigger than United States, you need stallion and not jackass. Mooting closure of airspace could only evoke yawn. His dream of becoming prime minister is now a raging nightmare.

India’s enemies are investing much in the hope that Muftis and Abdullahs would be free soon and hold court; Valley would be put to flame and Lutyens Media would manufacture sob stories. For the moment, they have nothing but the sham cry of violations of human rights and India’s federal-structure-in-danger to keep stoking the dying embers.

When would Muftis and Abdullahs be set free? My guess is not in next four weeks. Modi government prefers embarrassment to harm. Half measures would come back to bite. You don’t do PR exercise with enemies. If the world can turn one eye away on Xinjiang in China; it could as well the other on Kashmir.

There is incremental easing up in Kashmir Valley. Landlines have been restored. Independence Day and Eid were celebrated.  Journalists, despite the brouhaha, are getting passes to move around at will. Schools and Colleges have been reopened. It’s not to say Valley would be quiet.  Muftis and Abdullahs could pay a heavy cost if flutes and music alone is the noise in their backyards.

There are a few things which the Modi government must follow as gospel. One, learn to ignore the barking dogs. Valley and Lutyens Media would be shooting from both sides of mouth. They must not be allowed to set the agenda. Give them a damn. Two, this outreach to people in September can’t be one-off thing. People need constant repeats on facts. Lose no opportunity, be it face-to-face, social media, spokespersons or editorials in newspapers. This is the only war your adversary would be engaging you in; so treat it as one. Three, name and shame the enemies within who run contrary to India’s interests. Three generations of this lobby has fattened itself on Kashmir. The cat is too fat now; it must be made to shed some weight.

I suspect Centre has hit upon an ace in raking up some high profile cases. So mournful is media on P. Chidambaram’s custody that Kashmir has been put on the backburner.  The cases against Sharad Pawar and Ahmed Patel’s son too would shrink space on Kashmir. Heat has been turned on against Trinamool Congress (TMC). Three state elections in three months would further pull the rug under Kashmir’s feet. Why, when was the last you heard on “Jai Shri Ram” crimes and “lynchings”?

But this is just the first phase of preparedness. Kashmir is serious. Heads could roll in Pakistan’s establishment. Imran Khan could invite a fate similar to Nawaz Sharif.  General Qamar Javed Bajwa has to justify his extension. United States could change tack in case it can’t summon India against China, Iran and Russia. So don’t take your eyes off. India has to handle Kashmir in real time. It could take months, years and even generations. But a start, a good one at that, has been made. And the nation can’t be thankful enough.

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Chandrayaan-2 is set to create history by landing on Moon on September 7 and it’s no ordinary landing.

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Chandrayaan-2 is set to create history by landing on Moon on September 7 and it’s no ordinary landing.

Multiple nations have been reaching moon for over half a century now but Chandrayaan-2, Moon Ship in English, is a league apart whichever way you look at it.

For starters, Chandrayaan-2 would be landing on Moon’s unexplored south pole region which nobody has done before and thus has stoked the curiosity of the world

The Chandrayan-2, launched on July 22 this year, would have to perform extremely deft and complicated maneuvers, besides an indirect trajectory to fulfill its mission. Its objective is to study the lunar soil, look for water and minerals, as well as mapping the topography to track tremors below the surface of the astronomical body called Moon.

Chandrayaan -2 left the Earth’s orbit and moved towards the Moon on August 14. It successfully entered the lunar orbit of the Moon on August 20, sending the first image of the Moon, captured by Lander (Vikram), at a height of about 2650km from the lunar surface the next day on August 21.

Chandrayaan 2 comprises an Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyaan). The mission life of Orbiter is one year whereas the mission life of Lander and Rover will be one Lunar day which is equal to 14 days on the Earth.

Interestingly, the cost of putting Chandrayan-2 into space is only Rs 978 crore, the break-up of which is Rs 603 crore for the mission as well as Rs 305 crore for the launch. Compare this with the movie, Avengers: Endgame which cost Rs 2443 crore in the making.

India’s space budget is several times smaller than the cost of space programmes in China and Japan. Yet, India’s space achievements are as impressive as anyone else. It is one of the few countries which has mastered the technology of a cryogenic rocket engine. A few of the landmark projects it has accomplished include sending research probes to the Moon and Mars, as well as deploying Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).

Chandrayan-2 is only the latest of extremely impressive performances which India’s space mission has achieved in recent times.

A few months before Chandrayan-2 was launched, in February, India put together a group of astronauts for Gaganyaan, an orbital spacecraft aimed to be the basis of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme which could catapult the nation into a list of countries who are engaged in manned space flights.

In April, India conducted a successful missile test on its own anti-satellite weapons, shooting down a satellite in low-earth orbit. Only three other countries—US, Russia and China—have the credit of accomplishing such a mission.

In May, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C46) with the latest RISAT-2B radar-imaging reconnaissance satellite, capable of monitoring the Earth’s surface at any time of the day or night, even through layers of thick clouds, and could gain information for all-weather surveillance with the whereabouts and movements of terrorists. It can also be used for agricultural purposes or to monitor natural disasters.

India was quick off the Space research block after becoming independent from British rule in 1947.  It became the seventh country in the world to launch its own satellite—Aryabhata—in 1980.  It’s recorded use of rockets date back to the 1792 Siege of Seringapatam when racketeers under the command of Tipu Sultan fired rockets at British troops. Those rockets, termed Mysorean rockets, were iron pipes tied to bamboo guide poles which fired the rockets up to a range of a kilometer.

India, under the Modi government, is committed to skyrocket India’s space infrastructure over the next few years. Besides, the ISRO plans to attract investments from both public and private sector, besides intensifying collaboration with foreign partners. The quota for foreign capital investment in the military and strategic sectors have already been increased from 26% to 49%.

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Arun Jaitley was a luminary and not just in the legal, political and the debating space. Even when he raised his voice, he appeared more persuasive than angry. Look at his speeches in the Parliament and you would see fewer interruptions from the Opposition benches than otherwise. (“He used to hit but not hurt anyone,” Rakesh Sinha, RSS ideologue)Theorists opine those who touch many diverse fields of life are more impactful than those who are specialists in a particular discipline. A close analogy would be a comparison between Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar. While the last two are known primarily as an actor, Raj Kapoor, because of his contributions in the field of music, screenplay, direction and acting was more pervasive.

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Arun Jaitley was a luminary and not just in the legal, political and the debating space. Even when he raised his voice, he appeared more persuasive than angry. Look at his speeches in the Parliament and you would see fewer interruptions from the Opposition benches than otherwise. (“He used to hit but not hurt anyone,” Rakesh Sinha, RSS ideologue)Theorists opine those who touch many diverse fields of life are more impactful than those who are specialists in a particular discipline. A close analogy would be a comparison between Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar. While the last two are known primarily as an actor, Raj Kapoor, because of his contributions in the field of music, screenplay, direction and acting was more pervasive.

Jaitley loved cricket, music and food and not necessarily in that order. TV personality Rajat Sharma, probably closest to him in public space than anybody else, reminiscences that Jaitley almost always knew where to get the best rogan josh, chicken, chola-baturas etc.  Zafar Sureshwala, former vice-chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, says that Jaitley used to tell him, “Don’t come to Delhi without bringing samosas from a particular shop in Ahmedabad.”  He was also very fond of Kashmiri shawls. He sure had a zest for life.

Jaitley could be busy but you could still find him at the Wanderers in Johannesburg lapping up the cricket action against South Africa. Delhi cricketers, as a rule, were grateful to him. Black sheeps like Kirti Azad in cricket and Arvind Kejriwal in politics flashed their daggers on his side but neither of the two was believed in the public space.

Ratan Sharda, who is an authority on Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS), has tweeted that one of the amazing unknown humanitarian face of the deceased was he sent children of his low-ranking staff to study in the same school as his children. He paid for them. They are doctors and engineers. Two girls are studying abroad.

It’s an apt time to remember that Jaitley lost no time in shifting to his Kailash Colony residence, vacating his official residence of 2 Krishna Menon Marg,  after quitting the cabinet where he had held both finance and defence ministry. Contrast this with Congress MPs who stuck to their official perks like leeches.

Jaitley battled for a considerable time with cancer in his final years. Yet his energy and ideological firmness didn’t dilute as BJP tuned up for the 2019 General Polls. Left-Liberal cabal and the media went full throttle in trying to nail the government on Rafale deal and if there was one person who repulsed such a fierce attack, it was a terminally-fated Jaitley with his public speeches and Facebook posts.

Jaitley had Jammu and Kashmir under his attention for a number of years. Destiny ensured that he saw the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A during his lifetime. Indeed, the very last piece he wrote was on the tectonic shift in the politics of Jammu and Kashmir.

Leaders cutting across party lines, legal luminaries, intellectual corners, sports-lovers all remember Arun Jaitley with gratitude, fondness and respect. It’s remarkable for as a politician he never won an election. As a legal hawk, he sometimes went against his own party.  He was devoid of arrogance—can’t help bringing up P. Chidambaram and his icy-cold arrogance in comparison—and human to a fault.

His is a void which would be difficult to fill in the acrimonious public space that is India of our times.

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Let’s take a call on how you define Arvind Kejriwal: Principled or Opportunist? Is he for people or power?

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Let’s take a call on how you define Arvind Kejriwal: Principled or Opportunist? Is he for people or power?

The man who changes more colours than a chameleon does has opted for deep silence on the recent drama surrounding P Chidambaram, former Union minister.  He doesn’t want to be seen supporting an allegedly corrupt politician nor does he want to oppose the Centre which he senses has people’s support.  With Delhi assembly elections less than six months away, Kejriwal has simply ducked.

Kapil Mishra, his former colleague but now with BJP, wasn’t the one to let go the moment.  He tweeted: “Why there is such a deep silence @Arvind Kejriwal.  Are you in a spell of mourning? During Anna (Hazare) agitation, (our own) people had braved batons in front of Chidambaram home…”

But Kejriwal isn’t falling for the bait. He has shown skin as thick as an armour on taunts that he is rebuked almost daily by Congress—be it on gimmicks of buses, electricity waivers, women safety or CCTVs—which also had spurned his advances most disdainfully during the 2019 General Polls. Yet he is not rubbing salt into Congress’ wounds. Interesting!

On Friday, Kejriwal was raving about the Modi government on a public platform in the Capital.  “I hope and I have full faith that in the coming time, Centre will take concrete measures to deal with the (economy) issue…We want to assure that the Delhi government will support and help the Centre in whatever steps they take to fix the economy,” he said.

This is the same Kejriwal who had termed Modi illiterate and questioned if the prime minister understands economy at all!

Kejriwal  and his AAP was one of those Opposition flanks which supported Modi government when it tore down the contentious Article 370 and 35A  and announced the plan to turn Jammu and Kashmir into a Union territory. He probably has the votes of tens of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits in mind who are settled in his territory. The Janus-faced Kejriwal, at the same time, doesn’t allow police to persecute members of the “Tukde-Tukde gang” like Kanhaiya Kumar and others.

It doesn’t mean that he couldn’t care less about Muslim votes. His analysis of drubbing in the 2019 Polls was that Muslims had ditched the Opposition.  That’s why he didn’t say a word when a Hindu temple was desecrated right under his nose in the Capital. He didn’t say a word in condemnation nor did he visit the vandalized Durga temple in Chandni Chowk (Delhi).  He similarly didn’t vote in favour of Triple Talaq Bill in the Parliament.  Like a clever bania (trader), he must have worked out that less Muslims are bound to feel outraged about decisions on Jammu and Kashmir than the majority who would be hostile if he was to oppose abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.

Kejriwal, side by side, isn’t turning his back on Hindu votes too. He is sponsoring “religious tours” for elderly in the Capital and a willing media, fattened on his advertisements, is completely smitten.

A good gambler never spreads himself thin. You can’t hedge your bets beyond a point. You can’t bet on all blocks on the board and hope to earn profit.  Kejriwal seems unaware of this time-tested logic.

History tells us that good or bad, a leader can’t afford to be neutral on matters which concern people.  Masses aren’t ignorant that this man once opposed corruption and is now seen in embrace with those very forces.  He hauls people to court on corruption and then apologizes to them.  He is one day supporting Congress and venting venom the very next day.  He once chose vilest of terms for prime minister Narendra Modi but now doesn’t throw even a flower in his direction.

More so, all his trusted lieutenants have deserted him. NONE is seen in his corner. You could begin with Shazia Ilmi, Prashant, Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav and peer through the ever expanding list of Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Alka Lamba and now Kapil Mishra. 

Kejriwal feels only those who’ve deserted him know his true face. The succession of debacles in elections after elections has probably not made him wiser that people too have seen through his mask. Or maybe he knows it already and hence his zipped mouth.

 

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A father turns out a son who tries to destabilize the family. A criminal is sanitized if his presence is a threat to the society. A terrorist is neutralized if he has common people in his gun’s range.  Individuals or groups who are hazards are brought to book by those who have the assigned role to protect a society or a nation.

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A father turns out a son who tries to destabilize the family. A criminal is sanitized if his presence is a threat to the society. A terrorist is neutralized if he has common people in his gun’s range.  Individuals or groups who are hazards are brought to book by those who have the assigned role to protect a society or a nation.

Thus we are looking at two ends of the spectrum. One end has the authority which has a job to keep a home or a nation safe.  At the other end are the suckers who won’t let it happen. At one end is the welfare of the millions. At the other end is the good of the few.  It’s no-brainer that individuals have constitutional rights only till they start imperiling the society.

Two such individuals are presently in public eye: One, a high-profile politician; the other a fringe player.  Both face serious allegations. Both are under probe. Both claim vendetta. Both are relying on hidden support from within the society.

Let’s presume that both P. Chidambaram and Shehla Rashid are not guilty. One has been named “kingpin” in massive financial scandals by no less than judiciary.  The other has been refuted by Indian army and hauled to court for inciting communal discord. The next logical corollary is: Who would decide they are innocents? When a criminal has ever admitted to his crimes?

That’s why society sets a mechanism which can arbitrate, punish or pronounce not-guilty.  This mechanism could be judiciary or law-enforcing agencies such as police, CBI or ED.  Irrespective of how one or thousands or millions feel, it’s this mechanism which we have entrusted to carry out justice. Everything else is gasbag—including you or me.

But try telling this to our politicians and media.  Both feed on each other.  When it’s convenient, they hail judiciary like they did on pronouncements on Ahmed Patel’s Rajya Sabha elections or favouring HD Kumaraswamy in Karnataka’s unholy tie-up. When it doesn’t suit them, they don’ t bat an eyelid in trying to impeach even the chief justice. CBI is “caged parrot” when it pursues cases against Mamata Banerjee or P. Chidambaram. But when the agency was in hot pursuit of Amit Shah, for instance, it was hailed for setting high standards of probity.

Just follow the headlines and editorials in our newspapers on P. Chidambaram. Indian Express in its editorial finds it revolting that P. Chidambaram was pursued in the manner he was done by the investigating agencies. It doesn’t question Chidambaram once on his reprehensible  conduct in not submitting himself to law and thus subverting the course of justice. No newspaper has given a headline that Chidambaram was deemed “kingpin” of grave financial misdeeds.  Just look at this headline in Hindustan Times: “Please sit, judge asked Chidambaram…He declines.” (As standing is a conduct of a morally upright person!).  Be it media or politicians, both are aghast that Chidambaram was not given urgent hearing by the Supreme Court. We even have a letter from a group of Supreme Court lawyers protesting against denial of urgent hearing to Chidambaram. Pray, god, when a matter is presented on Wednesday and the hearing is fixed on Friday, is it not urgent hearing?

Shehla Rashid has been hauled to court in a criminal complaint against her claim that torture and excessive force is being applied by Indian forces on Kashmiris. Indian Army was quick to make a strong rebuttal: “Allegations leveled by Shehla Rashid are baseless and rejected. Such unverified and fake news are spread by inimical elements and organizations to incite unsuspecting population.”

Did you find anyone in Lutyens Media question Rashid to either provide evidence or shut up. When she was cornered by journalists in an Opposition protest drama in the Capital on Thursday, she, instead of offering evidence, threatened to call police.

Has Lutyens Media questioned Shehla Rashid on fake allegations? Has it questioned the politicians of CPI or CPM, SP or BSP, Congress or TMC etc on what a fake news peddler who spreads lies on our Indian Army was doing on their platform of protest? Are we wrong to presume that these politicians, political activists and Lutyens Media have no regard for institutions and integrity of the nation and instead, could be hand in gloves?

This of course is not the first instance of transgressions by Shehla Rashid.  She posts old videos and pass them off as recent; an FIR was filed against her for spreading rumours after the Pulwama attack; she had once tweeted that Nitin Gadkari was plotting to assassinate PM Modi on which the former had threatened her with legal action; despite a video evidence of abusing the police, she termed Jignesh Mewani as victim; Delhi Police has filed a chargesheet against her in the infamous JNU sedition case;  She wanted United Nations to intervene on EVM issue as Modi seemed set to return to power in 2019 polls;  and she termed Modi a “mass murderer” after his fist win in 2014 polls.

All of Rashid’s allegations of course are unsubstantiated. She is encouraged into vomiting more of such diatribe as Lutyens Media lends a helping hand and investigating agencies dither in view of the entrenched break-India forces within the system. As Chidambaram was encouraged to be allegedly more corrupt even as his bête noire Dr. Subramanian Swamy asserted that former’s crimes are fit for a 500-year-long sentence. Why, Indian Express reserves top of his editorial page for Chidambaram every Sunday. Like Times of India is nonchalant about allegations of paid write-ups from across the border against one of its’ regulars, Shobhaa De.  

All of this of course is unlikely to stop. Faced with an existential threat, these forces inimical to India’s interest would continue to spew venom in a concerted manner.  You would have letters from films, legal and writers’ corners tearing into Modi government for its violations of “democratic” principles. We, the stunned citizenry, must take note of these virulent rats which are a plague to India’s sovereignty.

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The much-fancied ‘Didi Ke Bolo’ campaign, an outreach to people of West Bengal, launched by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seems to have boomeranged on her.

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The much-fancied ‘Didi Ke Bolo’ campaign, an outreach to people of West Bengal, launched by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seems to have boomeranged on her.

The campaign was launched three weeks ago, ostensibly on the advice of her poll strategist, the maverick Prashant Bhushan. It was a way to reach out to people, listen to their grievances and have an interface with the voters of Bengal. A team of over 1,000 party leaders were assigned to visit 10,000 villges to redress the grievances of the people. A dedicated website and toll number too came into operation.

However, it seems to have opened a can of worms. Within this short span of less than a month, the party leaders are handling uncomfortable questions about cut money, arrogance of local leaders and syndicates.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders are admitting to have received calls regarding allegations against a few of their own ilks. As per a News 18 story: “People have called up the helpline number and complained about extorting, cut money and syndicates,” said a leader on condition of anonymity. Said a party functionary: “We are facing a tough time answering these questions.” People are questioning why TMC is hesitating to throw out corrupt and arrogant leaders of the party.

Among those participating in the outreach programme are senior party leaders and ministers Rabindranath Ghosh,  Jyotipriyo Mullick, Arup Roy, Firhad Hakim, Partha Chatterjee, Sashi Panja, Sadhan Pande, Tapan Dasgupta, Nirmal Ghosh and Abdur Rezzak Mollah among others.

State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said that the suppressed voice of poor people of Bengal is now coming out. He said that the people of Bengal are "fed up" with the misrule of the state government and "cut money business" of the TMC.

‘Cut money’ is a term devised by the TMC leaders where a set percentage of share of money is extorted by TMC against the financial assistance received by people on government schemes.

"The questions they are facing are just a mild reflection of the people's ire towards them. Time is running out for the TMC as people are getting ready to throw them out of power in next assembly polls," Ghosh added. 

The West Bengal state assembly polls are due in 2021.

The TMC, which is seeking "professional help" to refurbish its image ahead of the 2021 assembly polls may find it difficult to save their face as general public has started venting their anger over ‘cut money’and goondaism.

Though the ‘professional help’ has advised Mamata Banerjee to tone down anti-Hindu rhetoric, stay away from ‘Jai Sri Ram’ slogan controversy, the damage, it seems has already been done. And the writing on wall is clear. It’s not BJP but her own people who are ready to throw out Mamata Banerjee.

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Dr Subramanian Swamy has been a bête noire of P. Chidambaram, former finance and home minister, from the days he went about exposing the 2G/Aircel Maxis scam. Now that Chidambaram has gone missing with Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials at his gate—his only hope being Supreme Court granting him bail on Wednesday, NewsBred presents two instances when Dr. Swamy went public with his allegations on P. Chidambaram. The first one is his reactions on P. Chidambaram going underground on the fear of being arrested. The second one is his lowdown on the “corruption” he alleges Chidambaram has committed as Union minister).

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(Dr Subramanian Swamy has been a bête noire of P. Chidambaram, former finance and home minister, from the days he went about exposing the 2G/Aircel Maxis scam. Now that Chidambaram has gone missing with Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials at his gate—his only hope being Supreme Court granting him bail on Wednesday, NewsBred presents two instances when Dr. Swamy went public with his allegations on P. Chidambaram. The first one is his reactions on P. Chidambaram going underground on the fear of being arrested. The second one is his lowdown on the “corruption” he alleges Chidambaram has committed as Union minister).

ON CHIDAMBARAM GOING UNDERGROUND

“This is the most idiotic thing for any person to do. Who knows Supreme Court could now grant 5 days of his custody to investigating agencies. He would not only himself but also take his (Congress) party down with him. Sonia Ganhi (interim Congress president) should give a public appeal on television: Asking Mr Chidambaram to surrender…As to why Congress legal stalwarts such as Abhishek Manu Sanghvi and Kapil Sibal etc are rushing to defend him, (the reason is) Chidambaram in fact is the money launderer of Sonia Gandhi. “

ON CHIDAMBARAM’ CORRUPTION TRAIL

“People told me from day one that Mr Chidambaram will never be touched, leave alone being taken into custody. Or his son taken into custody. In fact the entire family, sooner or later, has to be taken into custody.

“I have not known one single member of the Chidambaram family who is not a chor (thief).

“He is so unpopular in Tamil Nadu that you do not know that when Karti Chidambaram was arrested, there was celebration in Tamil Nadu.

“Chidambaram is also involved in narcotics.  For narcotics, finance ministry is responsible. United Nations gave India the permission to produce opium for medicinal purpose. The rate at which government buys is only 170th of the market price of the opium, to be converted into cocaine.

“So when you grow opium it could be diverted to illegal narcotics market. So to prevent that, the government has told the farmer—who has been given a licence to produce—that you will per acre, produce so much. And if you produce less than that, we would cancel your licence and put you in jail.

“When Mr Chidambaram became finance minister, it was his responsibility to decide what would be the yield per acre. He consistently brought it down sharply so that a massive amount could be diverted to the narcotics market.

“One day I saw Rajasthan Patrika newspaper in 1997 when he was finance minister where he has gone to address a meeting in Barmer rajasthan. I was surprised since Chidambaram doesn’t know one word in hindi. I then realized that Barmer was one place where opium was being produced. And he was being felicitated by people there because they all had become rich by this diversion. If you go to Mandsaur, Barmer you will see so many people there victim of narcotics addiction.

“So even there he has made money.

“You just think of where you can’t make money and you would find him making money. For instance, he made money by telling the Canara Bank that you change your logo.  So Canara Bank had to change the logo and repaint the signboards. So he got a commission from the painter also. And that has also become a case.

“So that’s the huge amount of money he has collected. By the time we are through with the cases, I think he would have to live 500 years to complete his sentence in the jail.

‘For four years we couldn’t touch Chidambaram. I have filed this case from 2012-2013. I went to Supreme Court, court-directed inquiry, this and that, nothing happened. Because Chidambaram had friends in my party also.  And then all his bureaucrats, whom he had appointed, they continued.

Like this Raghuram Rajan…he was absolutely a crook. He and Chidambaram cost this country enormous amount of money and after almost two years of campaigning, the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) decided to remove him.

“Today people are finding out that Nirav Modi’ big killing was on gold bar. And that was made possible because on 16th of May. 2014, the day the results were coming out, we are winning, Chidambaram signs a file, changes the policy by which it became very easy to bring in gold and convert them into a bar. And Mr Raghuram Rajan, on the 24th of May, two days before oath ceremony, signed and implemented it.

“So even in Nirav Modi case, the people who would b caught would be Chidambaram and his associates. The fact is when the real investigation takes place in Nirav Modi case, you would find mostly Congress leaders being caught.”

 

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You are subjected to five essential lies on Jammu and Kashmir. Please use the below Primer if your teenage daughters, coffee friends or a stranger in transit try to shame you on celebrating the new status of Jammu and Kashmir. Who knows, inadvertently, you might be creating new foot soldiers to take on the Break-India forces and its stooge media. So here it is:

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You are subjected to five essential lies on Jammu and Kashmir. Please use the below Primer if your teenage daughters, coffee friends or a stranger in transit try to shame you on celebrating the new status of Jammu and Kashmir. Who knows, inadvertently, you might be creating new foot soldiers to take on the Break-India forces and its stooge media. So here it is:

Abrogation of Article 370 is illegal

 

Article 370 comes under part XXI of the Constitution of India which deals with “Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions.”

 

Article 370 was not incorporated when Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession on October 26-27, 1947.  It came a full two years later in October 1949 at the instance of Sheikh Abdullah, who was a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Constitution.

 

Indeed, Article 370 became operative only in 1952.

 

So give a resounding kick in the butt to those who say that Jammu and Kashmir agreed to become a part of India only after it was assured the special protection of Article 370.

 

A bit of history won’t hurt you either.

 

India’s law minister, Dr. B.R.Ambedkar was firmly opposed to Article 370. This is what Dr. Ambedkar said to Sheikh Abdullah (as quoted in Dr. BR Ambedkar, Framing of Indian Constitution, by Dr S.N Busi):

 

“Mr Abdullah, you want India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you food grains…but you don’t want India and any citizen of India to have any rights in Kashmir…To give consent to this proposal would be treacherous…I cannot betray the interests of my country.”

 

A full decade on, even Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was conceding in Parliament on November 27, 1963: “Article 370 is part of certain transitional, provisional arrangements. It’s not a permanent part of the Constitution.”

 

Next year, a private member’s bill sought the abrogation of Article 370 in the Parliament. It received a near-unanimous support. Prakash Vir Shastri had moved the bill in the Lok Sabha. Among supporters were stalwarts like Ram Manohar Lohia and K. Hanumanthaiya, a senior Congress leader.

 

Hanumanthaiya had then pointed out that fellow MPs, irrespective of party affiliations, had wanted the abrogation of Article 370 to be made into law. He had said: “To go against or to anything against this unanimous opinion in this House is to disown constitutional responsibility in a convenient manner. Article 370…stands in the way of full integration.”

 

Out of the 12 MPs who opposed the abrogation of Article 370, seven were from Congress, many of them stalwarts, including Inder J. Malhotra, Sham Lal Saraf, HV Kamath and Bhagwat Jha Azad.

 

And by the way, how come abrogating Article 370 is illegal when the Bill wa passed by two-thirds in the Rajya Sabha and four-fifths in the Lok Sabha this month?

 

Who benefitted from Article 370? Obviously, the common people of J& K didn’t. The Shia community, Gujjars, Bakkarwals, Gaddis, other Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled castes and people living in Ladakh and Kargil didn’t.  Nor did Kashmiri women who made the mistake of marrying a non-resident and couldn’t purchase or transfer property to their children.

 

Now, with its abrogation, a total of 106 Central Laws will now be extended to J & K. A load of benefit schemes would come the way of local citizens. Prevention of Corruption Act, Land Acquisition Act, National Commission for Minorities Act, Right to Education Act etc would become applicable.

 

Why Not Remove Special Status of North-East States Too

 

This again is an argument forwarded by mischief-makers relying on your ignorance. Tell them that Article 371 (a) to (j) for North Eastern and other states are SPECIAL and not TEMPORARY provisions. That is to protect the development of a particular region for particular tribes. These being special provisions are permanent in nature. They are not temporary as Article 370 was in J & K.

 

Basic Rights to Kashmiris Are Being Denied

 

Oh, Really?

 

Restrictions in the form of suspension of internet or even mobile services occur every year in the Valley on Independence Day, Republic Day and Eid for the last 30 years! Durations of these restrictions have been far longer in the past.

 

Do you know the extent of clampdown in the Valley when it suffered a long spell of violence in 2010? What were the conditions during the long spell of unrest during the Amarnath land agitation in 2008? Why was Farooq Abdullah government (before 1984) was termed as Curfew Government?  

 

Between 1990-1996, the Valley remained under curfew on an average 300 days in a year! It was largely under Governor’s Rule between 1990-1996.

 

Was it not a clampdown in the Valley when Mobiles were introduced in India in 1990s but not in Jammu and Kashmir? (It came about only in 2003 under the Atal Behari Vajpayee government).

 

Why was there no outcry then?

Now let’s look at the ground conditions in Jammu and Kashmir at this very moment. Activist Rahul Pandita spent 10 days in the Valley after the abrogation of Article 370 and this is what he wrote in Times of India this Sunday:

 

“I went around in a small car with a local number. I had no curfew pass. There were barricades but security forces could be convinced to let go, as we did several times.

 

“District Commissioner Srinagar had issued 161 passes to local journalists (while you kept hearing on your TV sets that journalists were unable to go anywhere).

 

“On Eid (no less), the government took more than 60 journalists on a chopper ride over Srinagar. (Despite stringent restrictions, many reached their neighbourhood mosques).

 

“Security was totally removed from downtown Srinagar between 4-7 p.m. Boys came out, they painted a little graffiti, but they did not indulge in clashes (Hey, BBC and Reuters, read that).

 

“Spoke to cross-section, families of policemen, from Shia community and other silent ones who say they are ok with Article 370 abrogation.”

 

Political Arrests Are Unprecedented

 

A reality check.

 

Sheikh Abdullah was in prison for more than a decade. And he wasn’t under house arrest like the present Valley leaders are. He was packed away to Kodaikanal not by Modi but by Pt. Nehru.

 

Shyama Prasad Mookerjee was kept under house arrest for 44 days without any chargesheet or FIR in Kashmir Valley. Have you heard of any outcry of human rights violations on Mookerjee?

 

And what’s the definition of these political leaders of Kashmir Valley who thrive on elections which see only a sample of 8-10 per cent voters’ turnout? It allows them to make it to the Lok Sabha, to the state assembly, to form state governments, generation after generation, to perpetuate their dynastic rule?

 

And if so upset by political detentions, shed a tear for those who are detained in Jammu too!

 

Demography would change; Kashmiri culture would vanish

 

Well, when lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of Valley on gunpoint, the demography change didn’t matter to the champions of these pseudo-seculars.

 

(Ironically, when Assam is trying to weed out the outsiders to save the local, indigenous culture, these pseudo-seculars are in support of the infiltrators. So guys, make up your mind: You can’t be resisting outsiders in one state and supporting outsiders in another!).

 

Does Kashmiri culture imply that they remain in a state of poverty and unemployment generation after generation? Isn’t the aspiration of a largely young population—70 per cent are below 40— is for real? Don’t they know that every year, in the civil services exam, you have a topper or someone in the Top 20 from the Valley? That about 30-40 Class 12 pass-outs from terror-affected districts qualify in the IIT-JEE exams. That at least 50 people qualify for the NEET exam, the all-India entrance for medical colleges?

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If I am reading it right, defence minister Rajnath Singh’s claim on Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is a sign that India wants to fix Pakistan once for all.

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If I am reading it right, defence minister Rajnath Singh’s claim on Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is a sign that India wants to fix Pakistan once for all.

India needs be bellicose if it has measured the headwind right that Kashmir would become as big an issue as Palestine is in coming days, weeks, months and years.

Once the relaxation in Kashmir Valley comes, attacks and violence would be a common occurrence—at least in our newspapers even if the ground reality is different.

Already BBC and Reuters are on their old tricks of faking news and videos on Kashmir and our shameless columnists are losing no chance of equating Kashmir of today with Palestine and even Hong Kong protests as people’s revolt against a reactionary, despotic government.

China of course treats the Hong Kong matter with a heavy hand and gives a damn to what international press and human rights group write about Xinjiang region and the million Muslims it has kept in detention camps.

India similarly need not be ruffled by the outrage in media, demonstrations on streets or protests in our University campuses for they would be motivated, paid and planted by the break-India forces.

Isn’t it some wonder that India’s J & K move which was passed by an overwhelming majority by its lawmakers and acquiesced by its Supreme Court hasn’t found a line of support in our paid Left-Liberal media even though if the billion-strong citizens were to be asked at this very moment, Modi virtually would be worth 400-seats plus in the Parliament.

Our newspapers are full of constitutional “invalidity” of the move and vile hacks like Karan Thapar and Rajmohan Gandhi – I am not even coming to the rogues gallery of Ramchandra Guha, Sagarika Ghose, Rajdeep Sardesai, Shekhar Gupta, Barkha Dutt etc—are full-throated on “human rights violations” which of course didn’t matter to them when Kashmiri Pandits were being driven out of the Valley.

There have been some remarkable interventions by the likes of Dr. Jitender Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and Ravi Shankar Prasad in print which is virtually a spanking of such journalists and their propaganda yet a deluge awaits India-First forces and they better be prepared.

Pakistan would create global nuisance everyday from now on. They won’t be alone too for Khalistani separatists won’t let go such a god-send opportunity to be in the limelight. Already we have reports of such gadflies in places as distant as Seoul is from London (And please follow the template of bravehearts Shazia Ilmi and Poonam Joshi how to confront them).  Why, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan has officially created a Kashmir desk in its global embassies to drum up the propaganda.   

Pakistan would also lose no opportunity to show UN Security Council has taken up the Kashmir matter even though neither India nor Pakistan was invited to the closed door discussions. No resolution was passed, no official statement issued. France, Germany, Russia have balked. Donald Trump wants Pakistan to settle the matter bilaterally and even China has made a similar sound. But try telling this to Pakistan.

The road ahead is not easy for Modi government. If it laxes Valley, Pakistan would plant violence. If India keeps a close surveillance, pictures would flash across our newspapers and TV screens of how even an Under-6 cricket match is shadowed by heavy boots and rifled soldiers. International media is a consort to this Deep State. They would play the ball. Then Abdullahs and Muftis are already ready with the script they would chant once set free.

It needs a strategy from India-First forces.

(a)    Modi government must ask its public faces to counter the propaganda in real time. Chances are it would be a cry in wilderness but at least its main audience---the citizens of this country--would know. It would keep India combative;  

(b)   Modi government must remain dismissive of global outcry. They must borrow the template from Israel, and even China;

(c)    They shouldn’t be shy of pitching in with nuclear-first and PoK talks all too often;

(d)   It could safely ignore UNSC where China, on its own, doesn’t have traction.

At ground level, every India-loving entity—be it individuals, social media, websites, news outlets etc – need to take up the burden. Smash the propaganda by whatever means you could as your duty towards the nation. As your obligation towards the future of your kids.  Such voices do assume a mass below the surface even though on exterior, it’s the propaganda which would have a field day.  Don’t be discouraged and learn from Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping—all are hated by the Left-Liberal media but they continue to hold sway.  Swachh Kashmir should be a mission in which all of us have a duty towards the nation.

(Post Script: Again, do read these erudite explanations from Dr. Jitendra Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and Ravi Shankar Prasad to bust the propaganda which would confront you every living moment from now on).

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(1945 was a tumultuous year in world history. Adolf Hitler committed suicide. Germany surrendered on May 8. Atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9). USSR entered the Pacific War on August 10. The same day, Japan offered to surrender and finally capitulated on August 14. On August 16, Subhas Chandra Bose, head of the Indian National Army (INA) flew from Rangoon to Bangkok then to Saigon (Vietnam) for his final, fateful journey.

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(1945 was a tumultuous year in world history. Adolf Hitler committed suicide. Germany surrendered on May 8. Atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9). USSR entered the Pacific War on August 10. The same day, Japan offered to surrender and finally capitulated on August 14. On August 16, Subhas Chandra Bose, head of the Indian National Army (INA) flew from Rangoon to Bangkok then to Saigon (Vietnam) for his final, fateful journey.

 Amidst all the rumours, conspiracy theories and three Commissions looked to inquire into his death for over half a century, there is little doubt Bose died on August 18, 1945. On his 73rd death anniversary, we take the readers through Subhas Bose’ final hours in the words of Leonard A. Gordon, from his seminal work: “Brothers against the Raj.” The words in italics are compressed account, without taking the essence of narrative of Subhas’ Bose final journey. The sources of reference are at the end of the piece.)

Bose wanted to reach Manchuria and seek help from the advancing Soviet army. He went saying, “they are the only ones who will resist the British. My fate is with them. Japanese, who were now at war with Soviet Union, nevertheless agreed to help Bose meet their enemies. In Saigon, Bose learnt there was no special plane for him or his party. He was offered only two seats in the plane: he selected INA colonel Habibur Rehman to accompany him.

There was a problem about the luggage because the plane, a twin-engine heavy bomber of the 97-2 (Sally) type, was overloaded. They could not take all of Bose’ luggage. He discarded a good deal. Then two heavy suitcases, possibly filled with gold and jewellery, were brought on the plane, and, after Bose’s insistence, they were loaded on.

On board, besides Bose, and Shidei (a Japanese expert on the Soviets), were also several Japanese military and air staff officers, among them Lt. Col. Tadeo Sakai, a staff officer of the Burma Army; Lt. Col. Shito Nonogaki, an air staff officer; and Major Taro Kono, an air staff officer who was sitting behind the pilot and assisting him; and Major Ihaho Takahashi, a staff officer. The crew was in the front of the aircraft and the passengers were wedged in behind, some like Bose, with cushions, because there were no proper seats on this aircraft. The plane finally took off between 5.00 and 5.30 pm on August 17, 1945. Since they were so late in starting, the pilot decided to land for the night at Tourane, Vietnam, then start early the next morning.  

Bose and the others spent the night at a hotel serving as an army hostel in Tourane. While they were resting, the pilot and Major Kono, who had noticed the difficulty in taking off at Saigon due to overloading, did their best to lighten the cargo. Major Kono later said they took off about 600 kilos of machine guns, ammunition and excess baggage (1).

The take-off from Tourane at about 5 am on August 18, 1945 was normal and they flew at about 12,000 feet. It was quite cold in the plane but the weather was favourable and they flew to Taipei (Taiwan). Major Kono has testified that they received information during the flight that the Russians had occupied Port Arthur, so it was essential for them to hurry on and reach Dairen (modern day Dalian in China) which was still under the Japanese before the Russians reached there too. The flight took six to seven hours and the landing was smooth. They stopped for lunch and Rahman changed into warmer clothes during the break. Bose, he said, laughed off the need for more appropriate clothing, but he handed him a sweater anyway.

At Taipei, Major Kono, the pilot, and ground personnel checked the engines and noticed some problem with the left one. There was some unusual vibration, but they did not know the source or what to do about it. The engine was adjusted and they hoped the problem was solved. Major Kono was also unhappy because even 600 kilos lighter than in Saigon, he still thought they were overloaded. Col. Nonogaki noticed the engine check and observed that Major Kono had discovered some problems. The former also heard Bose ask if they would again be flying as high as earlier. When the answer was positive, he put on the woolen sweater that Rahman had handed him. There was a tent set up near the air-strip and they ate lunch there. They had been told they would leave by 2 p.m.

The crew and passengers took their places as before and they were ready to go at about 2.30 p.m. As on previous take-offs, the heavy aircraft needed the full 1500 metres of the airstrip to negotiate the climb. Just as they left the ground—barely thirty meters up and near the edge of the airfield—there was a loud noise. Part of all of the left engine including the propeller had fallen off. The pilot could not control the aircraft. As the ground peered up at him faster and faster, he tried to switch off the engine. Major Kono seated behind him also tried; but failed. With an enormous crash, they hit the ground and thei airplane broke into two large parts. Within seconds there was a fire raging. Major Kono released a lock on the canopy, opened it, and slid out. As he was getting out, some gasoline splashed on him and he caught fire. Once on the ground, he rolled around and Col. Nonagaki helped him.

When the crash took place, Rahman, seated near Bose was momentarily knocked unconscious. This is what he told S.A. Ayer, a few weeks later, about what happened next:

“When I recovered consciousness..I realized that all the luggage had crashed on top of me and a fire had started in front of me. So exit by the rear was blocked by the packages and exit by the front was possible only through the fire. Netaji was injured in the head but he had struggled on his feet and was about to move in my direction to get away from the fire and to get out of the plane through the rear. But this was out of question…Then he tried to make his way through the nose of the plane which was already smashed and burning. With both his hands he fought his way through the fire…When the plane crashed, Netaji got a splash of petrol all over his cotton khaki and it caught fire when he struggled through the nose of the plane. So he stood with his clothes burning and himself making desperate efforts to unbuckle the belts of his bushcoat and round his waist. I dashed up to him and tried to help him remove the belts. My hands were burnt in the process. As I was fumbling with his belts I looked up and my heart nearly stopped when I saw his face, battered by iron and burnt by fire. A few minutes later he collapsed and lay on the ground of the Taihoku aerodrome (2).”

Major Kono, who was lying on the ground a short distance from the plane, and saw Bose on fire, described him as a “living Fudomyoo” a Japanese Buddhist temple guardian who is usually represented with “fierce visage…hair aflame, face contorted and weapons in hand (3).” According to the accounts of all the survivors, Bose was very badly burnt. The pilot and Gen. Shidei were killed on impact.

Dr. Yoshimi was told that he was “Chandra Bose” of whom he had heard, and that Rahman was the only other Indian. Upon arrival the doctor noticed that Bose was naked except for the blanket wrapped around him. He had third degree burns all over his body, but they were worst on his chest. His body “…had taken on a grayish colour like ash. Even his heart had burns. His face was swollen…his eyes were also swollen. He could see, but had difficulty in opening them. He was in his senses when was brought in…he was in high fever..the condition of his heart was also weak (4).” Dr. Yoshimi doubted that he would live.

Bose and Rahman were quickly taken to the treatment room and the doctor started to work on Bose who was much more critically injured. Dr. Yoshimi was assisted by Dr. Tsuruta. A disinfectant, Rivamol, was put over his body and then a white ointment was applied and bandages were applied. Dr. Yoshimi gave Bose four injections of Vita-camphor and two of Digitamine for his weakened heart. These were administered approximately every 30 minutes. Since his body had lost fluids quickly upon being burnt, he was also given Ringer solution intravenously.  A third doctor, Dr. Ishii, gave him a blood transfusion. An orderly, Kazuto Mitsui, an army private, was in the room and several nurses were also assisting. Bose still had a clear head which Dr. Yoshimi found remarkable for one with such severe injuries. He was thirsty and asked for “meju”, which the Japanese interpreted as their word for water. The orderly brought him water. Might he have been asking for his mej-da (his elder and closest father-like brother, Sarat Bose).

What, if anything, did he say in these last hours? Private Mitsui says that Bose did talk briefly to Nakamura in English, but he himself only heard Bose ask for water. Rahman told Ayer that Bose told him shortly before he sank into unconsciousness: “Habib, my end is coming very soon. I have fought all my life for my country’s freedom, I am dying for my country’s freedom. Go and tell my countrymen to continue the fight for India’s freedom. India will be free, and before long (5). Mitsui also believes that Bose said something about India’s independence before he died.

Bose’ conditions worsened as the evening darkened. His heart grew weaker. Finally, between 9 and 10 pm, August 18,1945, Bose succumbed to his terrible burns.

Dr. Yoshimi filled out a death certificate and put the cause of death of “Chandra Bose” as “burns of third degree.” He says that the certificate was filled out in Japanese, was filed with the Municipal office. This certificate has not been located and most Japanese records for that period of Taiwanese history seem to have been destroyed. No photographs were taken of Bose at the end or just after his death. Some Japanese said this was not their custom. Then too, Bose had been completely bandaged except for eye slits.

Private Mitsui remembers that Dr. Yoshimi told the staff to try to preserve the body and “homoline” was injected. Cotton batting was used to close the body openings and the body was wrapped in a white kimono. The next day an army officer came for the body. Rahman had hoped to have the body removed to Singapore or Tokyo, but practical difficulties intervened. The coffin could not be shipped, even to Japan, at this moment when Japan was still carrying out the surrender terms and the American occupation had not yet officially begun. So the body was taken to the main Taipei crematorium and cremated. Rahman told Ayer that the cremation took place on August 20 and that the ashes were kept in an urn in the shrine attached to the hospital (6).

Subhas Bose was dead: his wife, his daughter, many of his relations, almost all the INA officers, and all the personnel with whom he worked have accepted his death, some later than others. His ashes—Gordon has given a detailed account—are now at a Buddhist temple, the Renkoji temple, in the Suginamiku quartet of Tokyo, in which Ramamurti, president of the Indian Independence League, lived. There a Buddhist priest conducted a ceremony around 18 September. About a hundred persons, mostly Indian but also including Col. Takakura, representing Imperial General Headquarters, attended. The ashes, in a small shrine area of the temple, have remained there till today.

(For Subhas Chandra Bose aficionado, there is a museum in his memory in Red Fort in the Capital which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this year. The digitized museum is housed on the first floor of the Red Fort Barrack, the same place where Britishers tried INA soldiers).

References:

  1. The details here are from interviews with Colonel Sakai, Major Kono, Col. Nonagaki by the author; and from Rahman’s account to Ayer in latter’s book : Witness, 111-14. Also Netaji Inquiry, 17, which also interviewed Rahman in addition to the surviving Japanese officers.
  2. Quoted in Ayer Witness, 112-13.
  3. Showa, vol.10,30
  4. The details are from interviews with Dr. Yashimi, Takajo Machi, Kyushu Island, Japan, August 1, 1979. Also see Netaji Inquiry, 27-30; TR Sareen, ed, Select Document on Indian National Army, Page 241-44 which reprinted Dr. Yoshimi interview.
  5. Ayer, Witness, Page 114.
  6. Ayer, Witness, 114; Harin Shah, Verdict, 106-113.

 

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Indian prime minister Narendra Modi may not have nudged we Indians into travelling more often in India than we do abroad but he surely has invited attention and it’s a good enough Independence Day intervention from the man who is master in making you reflect.

" ["content"]=> string(5538) "

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi may not have nudged we Indians into travelling more often in India than we do abroad but he surely has invited attention and it’s a good enough Independence Day intervention from the man who is master in making you reflect.

Modi wants us to make at least 15 travels within India by 2022 when India would be a young 75. Figures of 2016 show Indians already travel more within (1613 million) than they do abroad (21 million) but that’s a coarse understanding. We all know we spend five times more abroad than we do while travelling within. There is a kick when you pack your bags for Sweden than when you do it for Sarnath. You feel equal, if not superior, within your family, friends and neighbours.

All of us who travel abroad screw up their noses at hotels, transport, infrastructure, squalor and surging humanity which surrounds our own popular tourist destinations—all this of course without visiting much of India!  Yet, they are right. Just imagine our religious (Mathura, Vrindavan, Tirupati, Vaishno Devi), scenic (Ooty, Shimla, Mussoorie) or Hilly terrains (Manali, Darjeeling) and a Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur begins to make much better sense. That surely is much better value for your rupee.

Yet, think.

India is a country which has all but Himalayas bound by Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Amazing rivers (Ganga, Yamuna, Brahmaputra, Indus) are its rich veins. Incredible waterfalls dot our interiors. Wildlife like rarely elsewhere; deserts as daunting as Thar; forests as dense as Sunderban or Gir; caves carved like ones in Ajanta or Ellora; temples like Rameshwaram and Khajuraho which knock your breath out; forts like ones in Agra, Jaipur or Mysore; lakes in Nainital or Ooty; hill stations like Coorg and Shimla; snow-capped peaks which can soar young to do adventure as they do to meditate or brood over the profound for the elderly.

Come on, no less than 37 venues are World Heritage Sites authenticated by UNESCO in 2017.  These are parts of India’s rich cultural, historical and religious heritage.

Modi concedes India needs better infrastructure for its tourist destinations. And his solution offered makes so much sense. More footfalls would bring more investment; and better infrastructure would usher in more jobs for our young and restless. Technology would make inroads at so many levels. Administration would’ve much more funds to police as well as to beautify the location. Theatre and dance; artistes and artisans; local culinary and skills all get a fillip.

And if you think India is lightweight on matters of tourism think again. The World Travel and Tourism Council tabulated that tourism generated Rs 16.91 lakh crore (US$240 billion) or 9.2% of India’s GDP in 2018 and supported 32.673 million jobs, 8.1% of its total employment. The forecast is of 6.9% annual growth rate to Rs. 32.05 lakh crore (US $460 billion) by 2028 (9.9% of GDP). And we are not even talking of medical tourism which is already worth US $3 billion in 205. By next year, it’s expected to be worth US $7-8 billion.

While reflecting on India and its inbound travelers, Tamil Nadu is the most visited state. Just reflect on the names of Kanyakumari, Rameshwaram, Ooty and Kodaikanal and you would know why. Interestingly, Uttar Pradesh is the second most visited of all Indian states by domestic travellers. Be it religious sacredness of Mathura or Varanasi; Prayag or Sarnath; Ayodhya or Vrindavan, forts of Agra; the regal nawabi heritage of Lucknow, UP is far more richer than is given credit for.

Most southern states are in India’s top 10 tourist destinations but for Kerala which is surprising given God’s Own Country has Alleppey and Munnar to boast of, among others. Rajasthan, surprisingly, is on number 10 for it just doesn’t alone have magnificent forts but also Pushkar and much-revered shrines. And we haven’t come to talking of Goa, Andaman, Leh, Puri, Amristar, Bodhgaya and Shirdi.

And as Modi said, ever wondered on the magnificence of North East? Cherrapunjee, most won’t know, is in Meghalaya after all.

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 ranks India 40th out of 136 countries. It’s air transport (32nd) is rated good and the one on ground (29th) is reasonable too. The country also scores high on natural and cultural resources (9th).

But let’s be grounded for the moment. Just think of the benefit domestic travel would do to bring different cultures, languages, food and customs closer within our own contours. It would improve brotherhood and remove alien-ness. Besides, as Modi said, we would only be deepening our roots in this sacred land. Generation next too would retain the bond.

“Mitti, paani, hawaon se nayi urja prapt karein (Gain new energy from the earth, water and winds of this land)” was the exhortation Modi made from the ramparts of Red Fort in the Capital on the Independence Day on Thursday. If all of us do it, we would be enriching both us and the country we live in.

 

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It’s not a small sample size which believes that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the best Prime Minister of India that has ever been seen.

 

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It’s not a small sample size which believes that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the best Prime Minister of India that has ever been seen.

India Today has conducted over 12,000 interviews across 97 parliamentary seats in 19 states in its Mood of the Nation (MOTN) survey and over 65 per cent believe that Modi has been the best in his little over five years of prime-ministership of the country.

All those names which are etched in the consciousness of Indians as nation-makers come nowhere close. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, who presided over the country’s fate for 17 years, was nowhere in competition with 9% of votes. Indira Gandhi, who also was Prime Minister for more than twice what Modi has been, has acquired 14 per cent of votes. 

It’s interesting that after Modi and Indira Gandhi, respondents have found Atal Bihari Vajpayee as India’s third best prime minister. A lot of it has to do with Vajpayee managing to bring India into the nuclear club and of course the honours in Kargil War.

The other prime ministers fall by the wayside. Both Lal Bahadur Shastri and Rajiv Gandhi were pegged at 6 per cent of affirmative votes.  Manmohan Singh who was India’s prime minister for 10 years, got only 5 per cent votes.

Among the chief ministers, the surprise was Yogi Adityanath who was adjudged the best performing chief minister with 20 per cent of votes. Surely the magnificent management of Kumbh mela has gone a long way in boosting Yogi Adityanath’s standings amongst the respondents. Mamata Banerjee who was topping the list for four consecutive years has dropped down to fifth spot. Nitish Kumar is second with 10 per cent of votes.

Three chief ministers are pegged together at third spot—Maharashtra’s Devendra Fadnavis, Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal and Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik. They got 8 per cent of votes each.

Interestingly, voters don’t see much hope in Gandhis leading the revival of a moribund Congress. As many as 34 per cent of respondents felt that only a non-Gandhi could revive the Congress.

And what of the economy which everyday you read as sick and ailing in our newspapers?

Well, 60 per cent believe that Indian economy is now better than it was during the 10 years of UPA rule (2004-2014). As many as 45 per cent believe that their income and savings have improved.Over 70 per cent believed that India could become a 5 trillion dollars economy in next five years.

 

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An interesting sideshow calls for your attention. It’s serious too and has wider implications.

" ["content"]=> string(5338) "

An interesting sideshow calls for your attention. It’s serious too and has wider implications.

We have long wondered why a few of our journalists, politicians, film personalities, media houses, academicians and historians speak the language of Pakistan on matters of Kashmir and Indian Muslims. Why their concerns for refugees extend to Rohingyas but not to Kashmiri Pandits. Why they get worried about a demography change in Kashmir Valley but stand by the demographic distortion in Assam. Why Hindus lynched doesn’t even elicit a pause while a similar tragedy for a Muslim evokes a diatribe. Why animal-sacrifice is sacred for one while Jallikattu sport is animal-cruelty by others. Why Triple Talaq Bill is persecution of Muslim males but arrests under dowry act is justice. Why a Mamata Banerjee could openly appease the Muslims but the Prime Minister chanting “Jai Shri Ram” is communal.  Why skullcaps knocked off a Muslim head is bigotry but a Durga Temple vandalized, idols broken in the heart of India’s Capital is passé

The irrepressible Dr. Subramanian Swamy has an interesting explanation on such Break-India forces. He says that most of such voices are funded by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan. Even if neutral, all these inimical forces route their ill-gotten money through hawala by Dubai black money channels which in fact is controlled by ISI. The deal of the game is simple: You be of use to us to cause distortion of facts and a general amnesia in Indian state and we won’t spill the beans on what we do for you. But if you don’t, one line in press and you are finished, Dr Swamy tells of ISI’s implicit threat.

One such line has finally appeared in press. Shobhaa De, a regular columnist in Times of India, has been called out by former Pak envoy to India, Abdul Basit, for writing a pro-separatist piece on Jammu and Kashmir at latter’s prompting. Ms De has denied the allegation but really what other options she had? Nobody neutral is believing her as outpouring of reactions on twitter show. Her journalistic career is over in disgrace. All this by a stray comment in an obscure blog.

This must have set alarm-bells ringing in dozens of such Shobhaa Des hidden in plain sight amongst us. Twitteratis have composed their own list but we won’t fall for it, not yet. But an educated guess is that the “disclosure” on Shobhaa De wasn’t accidental. A small pawn in a Great Game has been sacrificed to warn other rogues embedded in India’s fabric to do some meaningful damage to a purposeful Modi government. (Or why would you get headlines of “Sober Eid” in Kashmir Valley when governor Satyapal Malik is inviting everybody to come and see the exact opposite happening on ground).

India’s stand on abrogation of Article 370 and 35A and dilution of Jammu and Kashmir from a state to a Union Territory has dropped the baby of pretence. You are either this or that side of the divide: the clever game of rearranging the narrative and peddle the Pak agenda won’t work. Pakistan would demand “compliance” from these journalists and academicians; lawyers or social activists; filmi-sets or politicians. What fun would it be when such names are stripped of the cover of immunity and laid bare amidst us, as Shobhaa De currently is.

One has long wondered why a socialite with little idea of complexities and nuances of our political, cultural, economical or historical perspective gets to write in edit pages of India’s premier newspaper. It’s not also if her language is electric—why even a Twinkle Khanna in comparison reads better. Her readers, if any, ought to be on Page 3 and certainly not on the hallowed edit pages where burning, larger issues are in focus.

This is the set which ensures that anger in India is managed whenever a terrible tragedy happens in Kashmir Valley or in rest of India. Whenever a major attack happens in Kashmir or elsewhere, the bogey of “dara hua musalman” comes into play. It happened in 26/11 which, if it was a Modi government, would’ve certainly caused a war with Pakistan. When Pulwama happened, an orchestrated campaign in Lutyens Media began about Kashmiri students fleeing from rest of the country. The same narrative is overwhelming the front pages of Lutyens Media about “subdued Eid”, “scared” Kashmiris and the Valley being turned into a new “Palestine.”

We all know this is not true. So far government has ensured no untoward incident happens in the wake of their sensational decision on the troublesome state. But we all know that Pakistan won’t keep silent. It would use all tricks in the game and one of it is the “sleeper-cells” it has woven into India’s fabric. They are not allowed to be neutral. A goat is fattened not for nothing, to use a typical Eid flavour of the season.

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Pakistan has ruled out war with India on the Kashmir issue but it is not to say that it would sit on its back on the matter. It has secured a pledge from China, an all-weather friend, to haul India  to the United Nations Security Council on its act of abrogating Article 370 and 35A and turning the state of Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory (UT).

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Pakistan has ruled out war with India on the Kashmir issue but it is not to say that it would sit on its back on the matter. It has secured a pledge from China, an all-weather friend, to haul India  to the United Nations Security Council on its act of abrogating Article 370 and 35A and turning the state of Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory (UT).

Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held talks with Chinese state councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi in Beijing yesterday and apparently a neutral stance by the Chinese on the matter has now tilted in favour of Pakistan.

Qureshi’s desperate rush to Beijing for their decades-long policy has borne fruits as he called upon China’s support in this hour of crisis.

As per Chinese news agency Xinhua report, Wang has cited the UN Charter which upholds international peace and security, fundamental human rights, adherence to international law and obligations of member states to adhere to treaties etc), relevant resolutions of the UNSC on Kashmir (on the status of J & K, holding of plebiscite etc) and the bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India (Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration) as the roadmap to take on India on Kashmir.

It is learnt that China would pledge support to Pakistan when the latter brings up the Kashmir issue on the UNSC table. Wang was reported to have said: “China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners and have always understood and supported each other on issues concerning core interests…China will continue to firmly support Paksitan in safeguarding its legitimate rights and upholds fairness for Pakistan in international affairs.”

Interestingly, Pakistan has ruled out any military action against India.  Instead, it hopes to ride on China support to bring about political, legal and diplomatic pressure on India. So Qureshi later told the media in Beijing: “Pakistan is not looking at the military option. We are rather looking at political, diplomatic and legal options to deal with the prevailing situation.”

Radio Pakistan meanwhile has reported that the meeting between the two foreign ministers lasted for two and a half hours. It said Wang has agreed that “steps taken by India are unilateral that have changed the status quo and structure” of J and K and “could jeopardize the peace and stability of the region.” Radio Pakistan further said that Wang “was in concurrence that Jammu and Kashmir has been recognized as a disputed region and its resolution should also be in the light of UN resolutions.”

The firming of a joint stand by Pakistan and China has been encouraged by the ambivalence of United States on the matter. Next week two senior US officials are arriving in Delhi: US deputy secretary of state John Sullivan and Acting deputy secretary of state in charge of South Asia Alice Wells. Sullivan is reaching Delhi from Bhutan while Wells would be visiting Islamabad and then dropping in in the Indian Capital.

 

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The game and set are already with the Bharatiya Janata Party vis-à-vis Jammu and Kashmir but the match would be truly over when the delimitation exercise kicks in.

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The game and set are already with the Bharatiya Janata Party vis-à-vis Jammu and Kashmir but the match would be truly over when the delimitation exercise kicks in.

The chances are it would happen in double quick time as the Centre has decided to set up a delimitation commission which would loosen the unethical hold of Valley’s political parties over the entire erstwhile state and disallow them from punching above their weight.

The shenanigans of unscrupulous Congress and Abdullah dynasty had carved up the erstwhile state, now a union territory, terribly tilted in favour of Kashmir Valley even though in size and density Jammu had a far larger claim to presence in the legislative assembly.

Out of 87 seats in the assembly, 46 were reserved for Kashmir region and 37 for Jammu (Ladakh had the other four seats). No wonder Abdullahs and Muftis, due to their clout in the Valley, controlled the levers of the troublesome region

This of course is historical injustice. Dogras (Jammu) have dominated the region historically. Dogra ruler Maharaja Gulab Singh amassed a state bigger than left behind by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a Sikh ruler in the 19th century. Till 1941, Hindus in Jammu numbered Muslims in Kashmir Valley.

However, Kashmir changed forever once Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah rose to power simultaneously in Delhi and Srinagar. Nehru afforded Abdullah a free run. Abdullah arbitrarily allocated 75 assembly seats in the 1951 state assembly between Kashmir Valley (43), Jammu (30) and Ladakh (2). There was no population data but just his whim to guide Abdullah.

Jammu and Kashmir had changed forever.

Abdullah’s son, Farooq, made it worse. His father had constituted the Delimitation Commission which had further increased Kashmir’s representation to 46 seats, as against 37 to Jammu. Farooq amended the Section 47 of the Jammu & Kashmir constitution in 2002 under which no addition or alteration of constituencies could take place up to 2026.

Game, set and match over. Or so they thought.

Modi has now abrogated Article 370 and 35A and bifurcated the erstwhile J and K state into two union terrirotry, J & K and Ladakh. The one of J & K though would still have a legislative assembly and if the present arrangement is allowed to remain, the PDPs and NCs would still control the valley and call the shots.

But now the J and K Reorganisation Bill, 2019 would remove the anomaly. The strength of assembly was 107 (24 being earmarked for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) which would now become 114 after the delimitation exercise is carried out. The new Union Territory will also have reservation for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the legislative assembly.

Once the delimitation kicks in, the ascendency of Jammu is inevitable. It already has more area than Kashmir Valley. It has more people in some constituencies than Valley has in two. (For instance, two constituencies in Srinagar City has nearly 50,000 less electorates than in single constituency of Gandhi Nagar in Jammu region. Same would be the case with Jammu City East seat).

Once this happens, everything would flow from the ballot and not from the bullet. Just imagine the scenarios below:

a-    Lakhs of Gujjars, Bakerwals, Gaddies--around 11 per cent of the state’s population—don’t have any reserve seat in the Valley even though they were given Scheduled Tribe (ST) status way back in 1991. The seven reserved seats for ST—Chamb, Domana, Ranbir Singh Pura, Samba, Hiranagar, Chenani and Ramban in Jammu, Kathua and Udhampur district--are all in Jammu region and have stayed stationery since 1996, never ever rotated to Kashmir Valley;

b-    A secure Kashmir would be such a powerful bulwark against Pakistan and its’ ISI, not to say a leverage which would come handy against China;

c-    If terrorists are throttled, Jihadi organizations such as Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda, not to say Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed—and its leaders such as Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar—would be neutralized.

d-    Safer borders means lesser martyred soldiers. A buoyant and not a demoralized force. It would also free up India’s security apparatus. Men and money both could be saved.                                  

The delimitation commission would table in its recommendations to the Centre with regard to the number of assembly constituencies only. The number of Lok Sabha seats—three to Kashmir Valley and two to Jammu—can’t be altered as Parliament had passed a law freezing it till 2026.

 

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Kashmir was a game which the Centre played with political parties, Pakistan and the world. It was a bout without an end, round after round, with people never the coveted object.

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Kashmir was a game which the Centre played with political parties, Pakistan and the world. It was a bout without an end, round after round, with people never the coveted object.

Congress began it at India’s independence, decades passed, Nehru-Gandhis parleyed with Abdullahs and Muftis, pretty pictures all around, all like an exclusive club of democrats which kept people out of gate.

There were of course people within people, like Matryoshka dolls, some important some dispensable, like the Kashmiri Pandits, driven out of Valley without a story in our newspapers, without a word in our Parliament and state assemblies, worth not a glance by champions of “democracy” and “human rights.”

Such a set had dug their roots deep, seemingly controlling all levers of Indian state, a Pakistan and ISI away from Pakistan, often lauded by Hafiz Saeeds and Masood Azhars, ready to spill blood of tens of thousands of brave Indian soldiers, even as glasses were clinked in Pakistan embassy or global summits.

People in Kashmir were scared with the threat of the mainland; the one in mainland were made nervous by the implications of a nuclear war; newspapers, like the trumpet boys, blew “Aman ki Asha” score in the background; terror and goodwill two imposters who took turns on centrestage, every next appearance bigger and worse for the people on either side of the divide.

People in Kashmir Valley wallowed in squalor and dirt. There were no jobs to pick, only stones or AK-47; every round of bloodshed growing their hatred against the Indian army; every reality of no doctors, no dentist, no industry, no investment, no reservation, no provident fund, no private employer, no health, no power, no education, no sanitation was bludgeoned by the homilies of Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriat.  The only access to money came from bullets and bombs which were for free. Even throwing stones were worth two bucks of hundred rupees. The only language left was - you get us or we certainly would.

In two decades, by 2047, it would’ve been 100 years to the Kashmir problem. Imperial forces was too eager to fish in the troubled waters, brought its weight to bear on India’s West and East shoulders; all the while paralyzing us from taking any action.  They danced in symphony with India’s power-brokers who dressed up in different garbs of politicians and historians; media and academicians; think-tanks and activists. Self-promotion mattered; not people protection.

Kashmir won’t go out of headlines in a hurry. A few implications could only be guessed: Pakistan which has nurtured the terror monster for decades wouldn’t abandon it overnight. The state is run by its army which is the father of modern terrorism. It’s a bargaining chip they won’t surrender at a drop. If bombs can’t go off in the Valley, limbs could be strewn around in the rest of India. Our newspapers would work overtime to link every terrible incident with the fateful decision of August 5, 2019. (Don’t you know already with the lynching and Jai Shree Ram how narratives are spun).

You won’t read many positive stories on Kashmir.  Even as lives are bound to improve with the avowed promise of Amit Shah—“give us five years and see for yourself”—only blood and gore would accompany your morning tea with newspapers.  Kashmir would be made to appear a Palestine, East Timor or South Sudan. If anything, BJP would need a Kashmir wing in its information and broadcasting ministry to neutralize such bugs in the room.

It’s also not too early to say the duo of Modi-Shah would be most admired children of India’s political history.  As if Sardar Patel again took the human form in this duo to fulfill his unfinished work towards One India. Mahrana Pratap and Chattrapati Shivaji were valiant but these two are victorious. For all his virtues, Mahatma Gandhi ironically laid the basis of Partition with his morals which only served to appease. Pt Nehru’s spirit would also be at peace in grave now that it’s historical blunder is straightened out. It’s an India with eye on future and a baton in hand for inimical forces within and without.

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BYJU’s, the learning app which has a “mandatory” presence on our TV sets between the ad breaks, has hit the valuation of almost $6 billion almost overnight.

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BYJU’s, the learning app which has a “mandatory” presence on our TV sets between the ad breaks, has hit the valuation of almost $6 billion almost overnight.

This makes Byju Raveendran, a former classroom teacher and one who developed the education app about seven years ago, one of India’s newest billionaire.  Still not 40, Raveendran joined the billionaire club after his Think and Learn Pvt Ltd scored $150 million in funding earlier this month, boosting the overall value to $5.7 billion for the company.

That BYJU’S have deep pockets shouldn’t come as a surprise. Afterall Shahrukh Khan is a brand ambassador and jersey rights of Indian cricket team is now with the company.

Originating from a typical your next-door family, Raveendran did have education in the air he breathed since both his parents were teachers. Yet none had any pretensions of being a business-person. But Raveendran is different. He always harboured ambition to crack English-speaking countries for the education app he had in mind. He used to fly in YouTube stars to feature in his teaching videos.

By 2011, Raveendran’s entrepreneurial wings were all set to take a flight. He launched “Think and Learn” the same year, offering online lessons before launching his main app in 2015. In due course, he had more than 3.5 crore users out of whom about 24 lakhs pay an annual fees of about Rs 10,000. Numbers brought in long-term investors such as pension funds and sovereign wealth funds.  It caught the eye of some of industry’s biggest investors in Naspers Ventures and Tencent Holdings Ltd to Sequoia Capital and Facebook-owner Mark Zuckerberg’s wife, Priscilla Chan. BYJU’s had well and truly taken off. It’s revenues are expected to “more than double to Rs 3000 crore ($435 million) in the year ending March 2020,” as per Raveendran.

Online learning is booming worldwide. While internet usage is exploding, giving credit to the ubiquitous cheap smartphones and wireless plans, India’s online learning market is expected to more than double to $5.7 billion by 2020, according to the government-backed India Brand Equity Foundation. “Education technology for kindergarten through Class 12 is one of the fastest-growing segments of the country’s internet market,” said Anil Kumar, CEO of Redseer Management Consulting Pvt Ltd.

BYJU’S provided educational content to students from class 1 to 12. It trains students for examinations such as IIT-JEE, NEET, CAT, IAS as well as for international examinations such as GRE and GMAT. The main focus is on mathematics and science where concepts are explained using digital animation videos. The app claims to tailor the content as per a student’s pace and style. The average time a student spends on the app is 53 minutes.  The app will soon be available in several regional Indian languages this year.

The biggest and the latest conquest of Raveendran is the announcement that the BYJU’s will team up with Walt Disney Co and take its service to US shores by early 2020. The 37-year-old entrepreneur is taking his biggest step and broadening his base geographically and rising on vertical ladder, creatively. In his new app, Disney characters, from The Lion King’s Simba to Frozen’s Anna, will teach math and English to students from grades one through three. The same characters star in animated videos, games, stories and interactive quizzes.

“Kids everywhere relate to Disneys’ Simba or Moana, who grip kids attention before we take them through the loop of learning,” said Raveendran, “In Disney, we expect to have found a ready-made audience.” The app will have the learning of subjects with Disney characters and would be a refined mix of context of the entertainment giant classics while staying true to the narrative of the content.

“Indian education startups are well set to seize the global opportunity given that they already cater to a large English-speaking base and have created unique education content,” Raveendran explained. Following a simple approach of captivating the attention of kids for short durations through informative content capsules, Byjus has hit the jackpot.

Raveendran’s success story begins in a small Kerala village called Azhikode where the founder of BYJU’S grew up. The one with aspirations to teach the world, he himself was a reluctant student, more interested in football. He began his education in a Malayalee medium school but he was keen on English too. His passion for maths though helped him become an engineer.

Raveendran began by helping friends crack entry exams to top Indian engineering and management schools. The classes soon swelled. It was to the extent that he needed to hire sport stadiums to teach aspirants. He was now a celebrity teacher. He began visiting multiple cities during weekends.

In BYJU’S latest funding round, the entrepreneur bought shares to maintain his equity level. Along with his wife and brother, the Raveendran clan now holds a total stake of about 35 per cent, said an insider.

BYJU’S is on a fundraising spree.  Earlier this month, it raised $150 million investment led by Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). The round also saw participation from Owl Ventures, a leading investor in education technology. In March, 2019, the company secured Rs 214 crore in funding from its existing investors New York-headquartered equity firm General Atlantic and Chinese conglomerate Tencent.

The Bengaluru-based unicorn had earlier announced that it has tripled its revenue to Rs 1,430 crore in FY 18-19, and also turned profitable on a full year basis. BYJU’S added that its app is recording high adoption, with an 85 percent annual renewal from small towns and cities. This shows an increasing acceptance of digital learning as a primary tool for learning at home.

 

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Ravish Kumar has won Magsaysay Awards as once did Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and Admiral Ramdas. The common thread is community service and any inference to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is incidental.

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Ravish Kumar has won Magsaysay award as once did Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and Admiral Ramdas. The common thread is community service and any inference to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is incidental.

The award was established by New York-based Rockfeller Brothers Fund in the memory of Philippines president Ramon Magsaysay who died in a plane crash in 1957.  In 2000, Ford Foundation did its bid by constituting the Ramon Magsaysay Emergent Leadership Award.

It is in the interest of Indian citizens to know the background of Rockfeller and Ford Foundations.

In the early 20th century, United States legalized endowed foundations. What was once a missionary activity was now called corporate philanthropy. They were the new lifeguards of Imperialism, or call it Capitalism, under threat from Communism.  Among the first to be set up was Carnegie Corporation, endowed in 1911 by profits from Carnegie Steel Company. The Rockfeller Foundation was endowed in 1914 by JD Rockfeller, founder of Standard Oil Company.

Rockfeller Foundation was the early patron which gave seed money to the United Nations, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  These Foundations had massive resources, all tax-free, with an unrestrained brief:  to turn economic muscle into political, cultural and social capital. Massive funds were not there to raise wages of its workers. It was to turn money into power—to run the world. (So we have Bill Gates controlling health, education and agricultural policies all over the world from the seemingly dull occupation of selling software).

By the 1920s, US had begun to swoop on overseas markets and its raw materials. In 1924, the Rockfeller and Carnegie Foundations had created the most powerful foreign policy pressure group—the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), later funded by the Ford Foundation as well.  So far CFR has had two dozen US secretaries of state on its roll. No less than 5 CFR members were in the 1943 steering committee that planned the UN. JD Rockfeller bought the land for UN’s New York headquarters at $8.5 million grant.

Then came the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement to set up a new international monetary system. Now all other currencies were pegged to the value of the US dollar, which, in turn, was pegged to the price of gold. World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) became the checkposts of world’s financial roadways. They demanded Good Governance (as long as they held the strings), Rule of Law (as long as they helped make the laws) and transparent institutions. Ironically, these rules were mandated by two of the most opaque, unaccountable and non-transparent global organizations.  Country after country was cracked open by World Bank for global finance. (A fact:  All dozen presidents of the World Bank since 1946, which has its foot on the throats of Third World governments, have been members of the CFR, barring one.)

The Ford Foundation came into being in 1936. It works in lockstep with the US State Department. It is in complete harmony with Bretton Woods philosophy of standardizing business practices and promoting free market.  The Capitalist Order is dressed up in liberal ethos.

It’s with these lenses you need to view the activity of Ford Foundation which has invested tens of millions of dollars in India. Generous aids are given to specific university courses and scholarships. A lot of these funds go to writers, artists, film-makers and activists.  (Again any inference to Award Wapsi gang, List of 49 “eminents”, MeToo movement, dalit scholars and research foundations taking over the edit pages of Lutyens Media is incidental).

These Foundations have made it an art to put their pieces on the chessboard of a society. Elite clubs and think-tanks are formed. Ford Foundation makes no secret of intervening in grassroots political movements as its avowed “goals for the future of mankind.” If your mind is going to Anna Hazare and his sudden centrestage occupation of Indian politics, along with the likes of Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, the inference again is incidental. It would do us no harm though to remember that Kejriwal-Sisodia have publicly conceded of generous grants by Ford Foundation to their NGO in the past.  

By the 1950s, the Rockfeller and Ford Foundations were in overdrive in funding NGOs and educational institutions around the world. They were quasi-extension of the US government to topple democratically-elected governments in Latin America, Iran and Indonesia. The Indonesian students, trained in counter-insurgency by US army, played a critical role in effecting CIA-backed coup in Indonesia in 1965 that brought General Suharto to power. Similarly, eight years later, young Chilean students were trained at the University of Chicago (endowed by JD Rockfeller) to do their bit in the CIA-backed coup that killed Salvador Allende and brought General Pinochet and his reign of murders that lasted 17 years.

Please reflect why Anna Hazare, who calls himself a Gandhian, never said a word against corporate power or privatization. Why India’s corporate media proclaimed him to be the “voice of the people.” Whether the rage against scams was intended to wither away the powers of government and give levers to privatization? It’s worth reminding readers that Anna Hazare in 2008 received a World Bank award for outstanding public service (Any conjuring up image of Ravish Kumar and his Magsaysay Award, again, is incidental).

Or for example how come urban gender champions and their feminist movements never have a word to say for a lakh-strong Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Saghathan (Revolutionary Adivasi Women’s Association)? Are they afraid of standing up to mining corporations in the Dandakaranya forest? Is this Capitalism and its ugly face which is covered under Liberal ethos, pushed by these Foundations?

These Foundations core philosophy is to prepare an international cadre which could extend Capitalism and the hegemony of the United States. Find natives who once served colonialism and would now do them. Take over the fields of education, arts and entertainment; extend hold on the minds of masses. What if it costs millions of dollars? Money is useless if it can’t buy global power.

Magsaysay Award to Ravish Kumar is another piece in this chessboard. A brand has been created as a bulwark against India’s cultural resurgence. Watch how Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra are swooning in praise. The enemy is making moves on all fronts. It is for us to connect the dots and keep fists in front of the face.

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Now that Mamata Banerjee is trembling in her chappals, the potboiler that is West Bengal politics is giving us twists which would befit a Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

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Now that Mamata Banerjee is trembling in her chappals, the potboiler that is West Bengal politics is giving us twists which would befit an Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

The political “Chanakya that is Prashant Kishor, is rewiring “Didi” to a completely new persona in which she is keeping her temper in check; rarely mouthful to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and neutral to religion to an extent it would make any theologian of Left proud.

Instead, Ms Banerjee is deepening her outreach to her people, which now seem inclusive and not distinct