Thursday, 25 December 2008

Hasn't Pakistan failed Mohammed Ali Jinnah?

Mohammed Ali Jinnah was born on Christmas Day 132 years ago.

Though Jinnah is looked upon as the person who created Pakistan and in process divided India, he was by all means a secular person.

He is considered a founder of Pakistan though Jawaharlal Nehru's ambitions also played an equal role in the creation of the Islamic republic of Pakistan.

In this era it could be unbelievable that Jinnah who was fond of alcohol, cared little about halal meat and rarely offered Namaz, became the champion of Islamic cause. He couldn't read or write Urdu and barely spoke a few sentences.

A secular and nationalist, Jinnah had plunged into freedom movement but this successful lawyer had later got disenchanted with Congress. His address to the constituent assembly of Pakistan is often quoted:

" are free- you are free to go to your temples mosques or any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state... in due course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to Muslims- not in a religious sense for that is the personal faith of an individual- but in a political sense..."

Unfortunately, later Pakistan drifted from Jinnah's secular path. The population of Hindus dwindled in the country. Ahmadiyyas and the Christians faced wide persection. Initially it was the Mohajir-Punjabi schism and later sectarian clashes caused further divide.

Today sixty years after its creation Pakistan has left the path envisioned by Quaid-e-Aazam MA Jinnah and stands at the crossroads. Though India has also seen internal strife, riots and massacres, Pakistan has become just an instrument in the global geopolitics and as an American foothold in the region.

With an unstable Afghanistan on one side, growing Talibanisation and militancy apart from fears of uprising in the frontier, Pakistan has a tough course ahead. It needs a charismatic and accomodative leader, at least, one able successor to Jinnah, who can lead the country through these troubled times.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Executive Engineer beaten to death in UP: MLA extorting for Mayawati's birthday celebrations

An executive engineer was beaten to death and later the body was thrown at the police station in Auraiya in Uttar Pradesh (UP).

The local MLA Shekhar Tiwari, who abandoned the body at the police station, at night was allowed to go by the police. He is now absconding and the police have not named him in the FIR either.

The engineer Manoj Kumar Gupta, was taken away from his house, beaten up and later left in the police station. His body bore signs of torture. Gupta's brother Sharad said that the local MLA was demanding Rs 2 lakh from Gupta.

Sharad Gupta said that Tiwari had earlier also harassed his brother and then the matter was taken to the PWD Minister Nasimuddin Siddiqui and he had intervened. But for the upcoming birthday celebration of BSP chief Mayawati, the MLA was allegedly extorting money and refusal to pay off, angered him and his supporters so much that they brutally beat him to death.

Angry over the brutal murder, the PWD staff of the state has decided to go on strike. The killing has evoked sharp reactions from other political parties also. Meanwhile, the legislator, Shekhar Tiwari, was later arrested from Kanpur. CM Mayawati has said that she will not tolerate any lawlessness and stern action will be taken.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Indian cricket team's tour to Pakistan cancelled

Cricket has become the casualty post-Mumbai terror attack. On Thursday, the official announcement was made that Indian cricket team is not going to tour Pakistan for the test series.

Three test matches were scheduled to be played in the series apart from five One Day Internatinal Matches and a T 20 match. Though BCCI officials didn't want cricket series to be aborted, the government has decided otherwise.

The Sports Minister asked the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) to cancel the upcoming series and it became clear today that the series would not be played. Earlier, the minister MS Gill had made a strong statement and hinted at the cancellation.

Whether it is the right step or not is debatable. True, the nation is sad and shocked at the attack on Mumbai. Feelings are running high in the country and there is much rhetoric from war-mongers.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Mumbai terror accused Ajmal Amir Qasab is a Pakistani

Ajmal Amir Qasab who is the lone terrorist caught after the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes belongs to Faridkot in Okara district of Pakistan's Punjab province.

His father, Amir, has owned up his son, after he was shown the photograph of Qasab.
Though the government of Pakistan hasn't officially accepted it as yet, Qassab alias Kasab has written a long Urdu letter to the High Comission, seeking legal aid.

He also wants the bodies of slain terrorists to be sent to Pakistan for burial. Pakistan has recently cracked down on Lashkar-e-Taiba [now named as Jamat-ud-Dawa]. But this is more because of US pressure.

Despite President Asif Ali Zardari committing to act tough and claiming that an attack on Mumbai, but an attack on Pakistan, few in Indian establishment are convinced that Pakistan would act tough on militants.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Congress gains in Delhi, Rajasthan: Terrorism remains non-issue in State elections

The Mumbai terrorist attack failed to change the voter mood and the anger against government didn't translate into the anti-Congress vote.

Initial trends clearly indicated that Congress was again returning to power in Delhi and Sheila Dixit was set to lead the party to victory for the third time in succession. Delhi voted for Sheila Dixit on development plank--either it is metro railway or the flyovers. The electorate of Rajasthan rejected the Vasundhara Raje's BJP government and Congress is bouncing back here also.

In Mizoram Congress is all set to get a majority. While Congress had nothing to lose in Madhya Pradesh as the last Assembly had little presence of the party. So it fared better though BJP is forming the government on its own again. In Chhattisgarh BJP has a slight lead and may form the government though Congress hasn't fared too badly.

The elections cleary indicate that despite BJP's best efforts to polarise the voters on the issue of terrorism, particularly the terrorists attack on Mumbai, and raking up controversial issues like Afzal Guru's hanging didn't cut the ice with the Indian voter.

Now, LK Advani would have to think of strategies to turn the tide in the upcoming Parliamentary elections. Though elections for the assembly and parliament are fought on different issues, it is still a setback for the Congress though it may form governments in MP and possibly Chhattisgarh.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Why is everybody angry with Barkha Dutt over coverage of Mumbai terrorist attacks?

A wave of angry messages and comments directed at senior journalist Barkha Dutt have flooded the internet in the last couple of days.

On social networking website Facebook, communities like 'Take Barkha Dutt off air' and 'The worst senior journalist on the planet' have been joined by thousands. What's the sudden reason for this tsunami of anger against her?

Perhaps, it was because of the fact that ordinary young reporters could be excused if they get worked up in such circumstances, but not a seasoned journalist like her. She was accused of over-excitedness, histrionics and 'made up' emotions besides insensitivity towards the victims and their kin on whose faces the mike was put up when bullets were raining.

Such was the anger that Barkha Dutt had to respond and a special article was featured on the homepage of NDTV's website. Says Anurag Kashyap to Tehelka, "When I see Barkha Dutt on We The People, trying to talk with a common man who lost six members of his family, almost trying to force something out him, that makes me angry. It seemed so false, so overdramatic."

"A general sort of suggests that there were no hostages in Oberoi Trident. (Clever.) Then, our herione of revelations calls the head of Oberoi, and the idiot confirms a possibility of 100 or more people still in the building. Hello! Guys with guns, you’ve got more goats to slay. But before you do, you’ve got to love NDTV and more precisely Ms. Dutt. She’s your official intelligence from Ground zero, writes a blogger.

Another angry blogger writes that Barkha moved around Taj and didn't venture towards the CST which is a more vibrant symbol of Mumbai and where 55 person died, probably because the latter represents middle-class and the poor citizens.

Citizen journalist Sunitha Stalin wrote at Merinews website that media allowed terrorists to make use of the medium and gave them wide publicity. "When the commandos and police were fighting the terrorists to save the lives of our brothers and sisters, what was the media doing – gaining publicity and earning money?

Though Naval chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta went a step ahead and made a personal charge that during Kargil war the NDTV coverage led to the killing of three armymen. Barkha, who is Group Editor of NDTV English, has called it baseless and wrong. She has countered the charges.

Barkha's close friends in the media are trying to come to her rescue. But such was the outpouring of criticism that she had to write a long reply to all these accusations. The wikipedia entry was altered recently and it read, 'she will do pretty much anything to be seen on TV', mentions Neha at her popular blog.

Her bossing over others, interrupting the work of everybody from police to the fishermen and shoving passers-by for a byte, irrated the viewers. Blogger Mekin summed her response up in a sentence: Barkha meant that there were no rules in place, so we could not have broken any. Mekin says that she wanted to say that you, viewers, have no intellect that tells you what is right and what is wrong.

May be she is loud, arrogant and bossy. Some of her criticism may be because every successful person has a hategroup just like he has several fans. But many factors combined to give rise to this anger. Her response can be read at the link.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Anger against political class: Martyr Unnikrishnan's father snubs Kerala CM

Slain NSG commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan's father drove out Kerala Chief Minister K Achuthanandan who had come to the martyr's house in Bangalore.

The incident not just reflects the frustration and anger of the citizens with the political class but also shows the contempt with which they are being viewed after the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Unnikrishnan's father didn't allow Achuthanandan and the Home Minister to enter the house.

This is the latest manifesation of the society's anger with the politicians. Earlier the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh landed in controversy for touring the Tajmahal Hotel site on Sunday and taking along his son and director Ram Gopal Verma.

His home minister RR Patil had caused outrage by terming the terror strikes as a 'small incident in a big city'. The first man to go was Home Minister Shivraj Patil. Amid mounting anger more heads may roll in days to come. The surge of anger was such that across the nation, citizens spoke in the same voice.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Home Minister Shivraj Patil submits resignation

Facing mounting pressure to step down in wake of the terrorist strikes in India at repeated intervals, Home Minister Shivraj Patil submitted his resignation on Sunday.

He sent it to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh for a final decision. However, it is expected that it would be accepted because of the tremendous public anger in the country over the failure of the state to anticipate and prevent the terror attacks in Mumbai.

The attacks left 183 dead (officially) in Taj Hotel, Oberai Hotel, Nariman House, Leopold Cafe, Mumbai CST station and other locations where terrorists fired at indiscriminately, lobbed grenades and used explosives for mass casualties.

It had taken over 60 hrs for Army-Naval commandos-NSG-Police and other forces to rescue the hostages. Patil has taken moral responsibility albeit a little too late. It appears that P Chidambaram may be handed over his charge, with Prime Minister holding the finance portfolio.

However, this is not enough. The National Security Advisor MK Narayanan and heads of security agencies should also be forced to resign. Else they should be sacked. Heads must roll as a shakeup is necessary after such a terrible terrorist strike.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Firing, blasts across Mumbai: Terrorist attack leaves 178 dead

Over 178 persons were killed in an unprecedented terrorist attack at over half-a-dozen locations including hotels, hospitals and railway station in Mumbai on Wednesday evening.

Indiscriminate firing and explosions took place across the financial capital of India. The terrorists were earlier firing at different places in a radius of three kilometers in Southern Mumbai.

The first report came from Taj Hotel where the sounds of gunshots were reported. Later there was a similar report from Capital Cinema Hall and Colaba. Initial TV footage showed bloodstains outside Taj Hotel.

There was also an explosion heard near Oberai Hotel. Two bomb blasts also occurred at various places including in a taxi, said Star TV News channel. Four militants were trapped inside hotel and police had reached the place.

There was also firing at Leopold Hotel and Mumbai CST station. It was learnt that AK 47 was used in firing. The security agencies had accepted that it was indeed a terrorist strike. The injured persons were being taken to hospitals. It was not clear which terrorist group was involved in the attack.

Till late night nothing was clear as the number of incidents ranged from four to seven in different reports. Meanwhile, the police had declared a high-alert and commandos were handed over operation to rescue the hostages.

The local trains were also stopped. The number of persons who died in the terror attacks kept on increasing through the night.

Senior officials including an ATS officer, an ACP and many others lost their lives. TV channels showed images of the deadly strikes. A police car was hijacked by terrorists. Some terrorists were arrested also.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Deshdrohi: Movie on anti-immigrant violence in Mumbai

Ham mehmaan ko bhagvaan samajhte haiN
Kabhi UP, Bihar aa kar dekhna....

These are the lines from Deshdrohi, a movie focussing on the anti-immigrant violence in Mumbai, which is making waves across the country.

Though the preview scenes aren't impressive, the movie might just click because of the timing of release. Kamal Khan, the producer of the movie, is also playing the lead role.

The film has already got good publicity. At least, in Northern India, it is already projected to be a hit due to MNS chief Raj Thackeray's tirade against people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The recent killing of a Bihar youth, Rahul Raj, in Mumbai has also been incorporated in the movie. Though the film was in the making for over a year, the sudden spurt in violence against people from UP and Bihar, has come as a short in the arm for the makers of the movie. Even if it looks like a B grade movie and Kamal Khan appears imitating Rajkumar, the promos are amusing.

Kamal Khan, however, says that he made the film not for making money alone but because it was his passion. Replying to a question on NDTV regarding the success the movie might achieve due to the ongoing controversy, Khan said that the film may make a few crores extra due to the controversy, but he is not banking on it alone and is rich enough to pay Rs 12 crore as Income Tax annually.

Other than his interest in movies, Khan runs a successful business.Gracy Singh plays the role of lead actress and it is probably a coincidence that Rahul Raj was already name of a character in the movie. The Censor board has cleared the movie. Barely a week is left for the movie to be released in theatres across the country.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Now UP man lynched in Mumbai train: India under attack from within by divisive forces

There is little doubt that the rogue Raj Thackeray needs to be reined in. His divisive politics has claimed another victim, when a poor man from Sant Kabirnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, was killed in a Mumbai local train by workers of MNS.

Dharam Dev Rai, 25, a migrant labourer, who had come to Mumbai to earn a living, lost his life to the goons. But the Centre has failed to take any action though this dirty politics of regionalism threatens to divide the nation.

The man is survived by a pregnant wife and a child, who have nobody to support. The argument started over the seat but as he couldn't speak Marathi, the attackers pounced upon him and killed him in cold blood.

Still, the Centre hasn't taken any action. The Congress government, both at the Centre and the State, has created a Frankenstein, the monster, that threatens everybody including the idea of India as a nation.

The situation demands imposition of President's rule and the arrest of Thackeray for terrorism, anti-national activities and hate politics. Maharashtra government has announced Rs 2 lakh for Dharamdev's family. Will it bring back his life?

Thackeray, a Chandraseni Kayastha, whose family came to Maharashtra from North India a few generations back, and has property worth hundreds of crores, is playing not just with the emotions of Marathi Manus, but is also involved in the most dangerous politics India has ever seen.

His kids study in foreign countries and he wants Marathi for poor Maharashtrians. Can his son speak or write Marathi?

Those who feel Raj Thackeray is taking up the cause of Maharashtrians, are living in a fool's paradise. He has already done incalculable harm to this nation and it is damaging for Maharashtra and Marathis as well.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Rage against Raj: Bihar youth killed in BEST Bus in Mumbai

Rahul Raj, a youth boy from Patna, who had come to Mumbai searching for a job, was seething with anger as he brandished a pistol from the window of the BEST double decker bus on Monday morning.

He apparently wanted to send a message to MNS leader Raj Thackeray but we will never be able to know what he exactly had on his mind. He had repeatedly told co-passengers that he won't harm them. The Mumbai police shot him dead in an 'encounter'.

Though he was involved in a criminal act, the way he was shot at, has left questions on the ability of police in dealing with such situations. It appeared more of a panic gripped police force's knee-jerk reaction, just like a Brazil guy was shot dead by British police that had mistook him as a terrorist.

More shocking was the response of Maharashtra police and state government. RR Patil said that 'bullet would be answered with a bullet'. Somebody needs to remind him that it is no imperial British government and we are no longer 'native blacks'.

Now Bihar leaders Ram Vilas Paswan, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar have come together over the issue to apparently seek political mileage. The bus number 332 was on way from Kurla to Andheri when Rahul Raj took out his pistol. The boy with an innocent face appeared angry, not just angry, but enraged over something.

He was asking cell phone and wanted to talk to Raj Thackeray. Later reports suggested that he hijacked the bus to get Raj to talk to him. Also, he had fired barely a bullet contrary to police claims. Senior Mumbai police officials held that as Rahul held the bus hostage, he had to be shot dead.

Was he angry at the state of affairs in the country where Raj Thackeray flirts with law and lives with ease just because he is a politician and supposedly 'high and mighty' but an ordinary youth is beaten up for his belonging to Bihar or Uttar Pradesh (or even gunned down on the street by the same police).

The same police that doesn't dare to act against Thackeray and is uneasy even at serving warrants against him for terrorising millions, can of course murder a youth with such ease!

The old saying: Show me the man and I will show the rule, certainly holds true in this nation.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Attack on Maharashtra building in Kanpur: In reprisal to Raj Thackeray's campaign!

The attack on the eighty year old Maharashtra Bhawan in Kanpur, the biggest town of Uttar Pradesh, has apparently come in wake of the MNS' hate campaign against fellow Indians who hail from UP-Bihar.
*[Though Raj Thackeray was arrested late Monday night, he doesn't seem subdued and might continue his brand of politics. Police caught him in Ratnagiri and his lawyers are moving a higher court.]

Marathi trust owns the building used for their functions and a school is also run from its premises. Though no one was injured in the stone pelting and the damage to the cultural building, it has dangerous implications. Congress government and police-administration gave a long rope to Raj Thackeray.

His cadres kept on assaulting North Indians. The latest being attack on youths who went to Mumbai for Railway Recruitment Exam (RRB). Mercifully, the Kanpur attack was limited to damage to building.

However, things are not good else where. In Indore, the biggest City of Madhya Pradesh, Uma Bharati's Bharatiya Janshakti Party has warned Marathis to 'condemn Raj's attacks else face consequences'. Processions in which posters carrying messages of 'mad dog' were held and dogs were taken out to symbolise Thackeray.

This is extremely dangerous for the nation. He should be immediately sent behind bars, so that the mistrust among communities and regions is not allowed to fester and cause harm to our national integration.
*[Arresting his in not enough. Raj has been involved in divisive politics of highest order. He should be booked under sections of Unlawful Acts Prevention Act, to put some sense in his head.]

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Jet Airways backtracks after mounting criticism

Naresh Goyal had suddenly become a hated man in this country. At least, among the middle-class salaried men, who were shocked at the retrenchment of 1900 employees by the Jet.

When he was standing in the company of Kingfisher's Vijay Mallya, Goyal may not have realised the enormous power of media. The tears of young professionals moved everybody in this country.

Goyal should have understood that despite liberalisation, India can't be a replica of USA. In India, family is still run on a single salary. One layoff can shatter the dreams of an entire family for ever, as the guy may not be lucky to get another lucrative job.

Reactions are also extreme in this country. Running an airlines is not rulling a neighbourhood bania shop where the guy can simply fire the employee. Though Goyal has suddenly realised that he needs to take care of the Jet family, it's time the government and industry honchos sit and decide a certain formula to avoid such sudden job cuts.

Sacking hundreds of employees overnight is no joke. There should be a proper policy on this. True, the businessman is there to earn but he can't have a ball all the time. Despite all their shortcomings India media also needs to be congratulated for the reprieve to the Jet employees.

One hopes it won't be temporary. But, at least, they can get an honorable exit a few months later, so that they can find alternative jobs. Such events do justify the existence of Raj Thackerays. After all, where was the government when the young professionals needed somebody to raise their voice?

Though it is possible as the grapevine goes that the government may have intervened, but such sectors must also streamline salaries. There is generally no hue and cry when a poor man loses his job or a farmer doesn't get seeds, because the middle-class and the media doesn't identify itself with them.

But that's India. Here Centre succumbed to the militants during the Kandahar hijack because live 24x7 TV had arrived in the country and the tears of the families of those kidnapped, moved then nation. Goyal can hope that he will no longer be painted as a demon after the reinstatement of the employees.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Assam violence, Maharashtra riots: Centre ignores carnages in Congress ruled states

When more than a hundred thousand people get displaced as in the case in Assam that is hit by sectarian violence, it should be a major cause of concern for the nation, its leaders, citizens and media.

But it's clear that 21st century India is equally immune to communal, casteist violence and genocides though they may be directed against any community. Why else violent activities on mass scale keep happening regularly in India?

In far-flung Assam, nearly 1.5 lakh (150,000)people have left their homes. Sixty bodies have been recovered and this is more than twice the total number of deaths in the recent violence in Orissa that was directed against Christians.

Now, it is the Bodo-Muslim conflict that triggered this riot. We keep hearing charges and counter-charges but the truth is that innumerable poor people and ordinary citizens have been affected, but we don't know why such riots take place in India.

Thousands of houses have been torched and places of worship set afire. But Assam is not 'that' important. It is not Karnataka that has Bangalore, a high-tech-cyber city as its capital or even Orissa. Assam is not part of the heartland either.

The National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) that has been demanding separate Bodoland state, is involved in the clashes with immigrant Muslims and also locals. Meanwhile, in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, the riot in Dhule continues.

The violence has spread and incidents of arson, killings continue. Surprisingly, the Centre is not keen to stop the riot that has claimed well-over half-a-dozen lives as the same Congress rules Maharashtra.

Media also ignored the news despite the fact that hundreds had to leave their houses and had to take shelter in forests. The Hindu-Muslim clashes are nothing new but the promptness of the Manmohan Singh government in admonishing Karnataka and Orissa governments, is not visible here.

If Orissa deserved a censure under Article 355, then the same is due for Assam as well. And if Karnataka figured in cabinet for the violence, then Dhule riot needs to be condemned in the same breath and paramilitary forces ought to be sent.

But we know that nobody is interested in stopping riots in India.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Three killed in communal riot over torn posters in Maharashtra

Five persons died and neary 80 injured when two groups clashed in Dhule on Sunday. Curfew was clamped in the town and the situation was tense, police said.

The trouble began over a petty issue. A poster was allegedly torn up which led to tension, subsequent stone pelting and the clash which resulted in the deaths. Initial reports suggest that three persons died.

One of the dead was identified as Imran Sheikh. Two died in stone pelting and one was killed in the police firing. Later reports suggested that the toll had gone up to five.

An organisation Hindu Rakshak Sabha had put up inflammatory posters in Dhule (Dhulia). There were also on behalf of a local corporator Sabir Seth in the same area near Rajkamal Talkies. The exact circumstances were not clear but the news that some posters of Hindu Rakshak Sabha were found torn, led to tension.

Arson and stone pelting followed. Such was the intensity of the sudden riot that the police could hardly control it. Despite using tear gas and later firing in the air and at the mob, the riot had left several dead.

Nearly 100 persons were injured in the riot. Indefinite curfew has been imposed in the town, which is close to the communally hyper-sensitive Malegaon town. The riot over a minor issue puts a serious question mark on the ability of police in handling a law-and-order situation.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Six to be hanged for Khairlanjee Dalit killings

Six persons have been awarded death penalty by hanging for the infamous Khairlanjee killings in Maharashtra. A court in Maharashtra delivered the verdict on Wednesday.

The massacre of the family of Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange by the OBC strongmen of the village in September 2006, had shaken the entire State and again brought to fore the issue of Dalit atrocities. Later angry Dalits had gone on rampage in parts of Maharashtra.

There were just three neo-Buddhist Dalit families in Kherlanji. Priyanka, a bright student, was raped and even her death, the killers sexually violated her. Surekha was also beaten up, stripped, paraded and raped before her murder. Roshan and Sudhir were tortured and killed. Bhotmange was the witness to this sordid rape and murder of his entire family.

When local police failed to conduct proper investigations, after much hue and cry the case was transferred to the CBI. It had booked 46 persons and of them 35 were let off for want of evidences. After 15 months, the charge sheet was filed and the Bhandara court today ordered capital punishment for the accused. Two other accused got life sentence.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Greater NOIDA CEO's murder: Managements alarmed

The Chief Executive Officer of a multi-national company was murdered by angry workers on the premises of the company in Greater Noida, an incident that has alarm managements across the country.

On Tuesday, Union Labour Minister Oscar Fernandez also warned the managements of firms and companies should take a lesson from the incident. Though in the wake of the murder, it sounds unusually harsh but the minister has made an important point.

When employees are sacked, it is difficult to contain their rage. Due to liberalisation the salaries of managerial staff and executives have risen considerably but it is the ordinary worker who has been the worst affected.

The companies may or may not be in profit but the top shots in the management always get their salaries increased. It is a fact that managers are drawing obscene salaries compared to the lower staff. This is causing a sharp disparity and a great divide in this nation.

Even minor hikes of labourers causes heartburns among management. In fact, it is through such exploitation that the managers in the top layer justify their own salaries and show profit at the expense of the workers. While Chaudhari's murder is extremely condemnable, there is need for humanitariran treatment with labourers.

With Diwali approaching and hundreds of workers worried about the chulha, it would certainly cause anger. No wonder, the government said that the simmering discontent caused this killing. Ironically, the minister and his department have done precious little to stop this exploitation. Or by airing the sentiments, he just wants to send a message to his electorate?

The death of Graziano Tansmissioni's CEO Lalit Kishor Chaudhuri should serve as a wake-up call for the government also. With pay disparities in the private sector becoming a major issue and contract workers having no rights (the days of unionism are also gone), such industrial conflicts may rise in future.

The government can't just sit and sermonize after an incident has taken place.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Islamabad hotel bombed: Major terror strike in Pakistan's capital

A terror strike killed at least 40 persons in the Capital of Pakistan. Initial reports suggested that a truck laden with explosives rammed into the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

The hotel building was badly damaged in the blast. Scores of cars and other vehicles that were parked around the hotel, were blown up. TV reports suggested that the figure of those who died in the suicide attack, could go up.

Reports said that nearly 2/3rd of the hotel building was in fire and wreckage was seen everywhere. The Marriott hotel is a favourite among foreigners. The figure of deaths could go up to 100, said a senior Pak journalist. The bombing took place in the Holy month of Ramzan.

The National Assembly speaker was hosting an iftaar when the deadly bombing tok place. Terror strikes have increased in Pakistan in recent times. The attacks by American forces in Pak territory have also caused lot of anger among citizens.

The militants have grown fiercer in Pakistan recently and suicide attacks have become the order of the day. Not just the ungovernable regions in the North but militant attacks in Cities have also become a common occurrence.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Two terrorists killed, One caught in police encounter in Delhi

The Special cell of Delhi police force on Friday gunned two suspected terrorists and caught one person from a house in Jamia Nagar.

It is claimed that they were involved in the Ahmedabad and Delhi serial bomb blasts. Atif and Fakhruddin were shot dead while Saif was arrested in the operation that started at around 10 am.

During the encounter two policemen were also injured though two persons managed to escape. A strong crowd gathered in the densely populated area of South Delhi, after the encounter took place.

It is said that the operation was planned after the interrogation of a terror suspect Abu Bashar, who had named Tauqeer and some other persons. A section of local residents were sceptical of the police claims.

There was lot of pressure on police and the Home ministry for action. The officials said that explosives have also been recovered from the house. The search operations were on after the encounter. Later in the evening, Inspector Mohan Chandra Sharma, who was injured in the cross-fire, succumbed to injuries and died in the hospital.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Attacks on Churches: Saffron siege in Karnataka

Just when the country is facing repeated terror strikes, this is the last thing we would like to witness: an inter-religious conflict.

Alas, this is happening in Mangalore and the coastal belt of Karnakata. After large-scale killings and destruction in Orissa, the Saffron bands are now busy in burning churches, ransacking prayer halls, demolishing statues and all sorts of vandalism, for which they are notoriou, in Karnataka.

And just when terrorism has spread its tentacles in the country, the 'patriotic' Saffron bands of RSS, which mainly comprise the Bajrang Dal, seem to have taken upon themselves the task to stop conversions.

We may not like religious conversions. The founding fathers of India and its constitution, Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar, detested conversion due to allurement or coercion. But, we must also look at the ground realities.

India is a secular nation where everybody is free to practice and preach their religion. Let it be very clear about that. Secondly, we may believe that tribals are natives and Hindus but the truth is that Evangelists don't consider them as Hindus and this is not absolutely wrong.

And even if religion has reduced to such a level that people are being bought to a faith, it must be considered that both the VHP and the missionaries are involved in this game equally. None can claim greater moral ground. It is also a truth that the percentage of Christians in India hasn't increased, rather it has gone down in the last decade and they are a tiny minority.

However, the violent incidents are unjustifiable. In Mangalore, Udipi, Chikmagalur & Dakshin Kannada nearly two dozen churches have been attacked. Incidents of stabbings were also reported. Later the police were targeted by Christians in retaliation.

If it is anti-Christian violence in Karnataka, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, then Maharashtra has a different movement where linguistic terrorism is unleashed by Thackerays.

What kind of a banana republic is this, that can't stop or act against any law-breaker?

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Serial blasts in Delhi on September '13' 2008: 24 killed, 110 injured

Terror has struck once again. On this occasion the national capital was targeted on Saturday. The serial blasts that occurred on the ominous '13th' were reported from Ghaffar Market, Karol Bagh and Kasturba Gandhi Marg.

As per initial reports, 18* persons had died and over 80 persons were injured in the bomb blasts. The explosions rocked the City in the evening when the markets were bustling with shoppers. The strikes come barely 1-1/2 months after the blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

The TV images showed mangled vehicles at Ghaffar Market. Bodies were seen lying and injured people being taken away by police and local residents. At KG Marg, the blast hit the Gopaldas building.

Initial reports suggested that the blasts were low-intensity. Clearly the aim is to scare the citizens. The timing couldn't have been worse as there is strong crowd in market and on roads due to the festive season. Earlier in 2005, serial explosions occurred in Delhi in 2005. (*The figure of deaths later went up to 24)

Friday, 12 September 2008

American Attacks: Pakistan pays for harbouring militants

Just when Pakistani Army chief had flexed his muscles and issued a veiled warning to US for military raids on the Pak soil, another attack has caused over a dozen deaths in the North Western region of the country.

Clearly, the missile attack in Miranshah town in Waziristan has proved that USA isn't going to treat Pakistan softly anymore. And nobody in Washington is taking Pakistan seriously.

General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had earlier said that no foreign troops would be allowed to infringe with his nation's sovereignty but the Bush administration seems to have given a go-ahead to attack militants' hideouts in Pakistan.

Would Pak authorities realise that their country is not left with much of an international standing as attacks have hardly caused any major condemnation the world over? Just when Kayani 'warned' the United States, the fresh attack took place. Despite Pakistan's 'special status' and the country being US 'ally' in the War on terror.

Only last week there was a similar strike in South Waziristan. So much of Pakistan's efforts to appease USA over the years, have come to a naught, as America has made it clear that when it comes to its interests, it is not going to give a long rope to Pakistan anymore.

It should be a lesson to Pakistan government, military, administration and their intelligence agencies. Will they learn now?

Monday, 8 September 2008

No Amitabh Bachchan movies in Mumbai until Jaya apologises: Raj Thackeray

Raj Thackeray has warned that no Amitabh Bachchan movie would be allowed to screen in Maharashtra until Bachchan seeks apology from the people of Maharashtra.

The enfant terrible of linguistic fascism, even threatened to issue a boycott call to products in which Amitabh and his family, appears for endorsement. Clearly, Raj, has stolen a march over Bal Thackeray, in terms of craziness.

The threat comes in wake of the Jaya's remark made in a lighter vein. Speaking from the stage at a function, she said that she will speak in Hindi as her family belonged to Uttar Pradesh. 'Maharashtra wale maaf karen, ham UP wale hain Hindi mein bolenge', she stated.

Now this remark was played up by TV channels who sought the reaction of Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray, who had a personal axe to grind with Jaya. She had in the past said that she knows no other Thackeray except Bal Thakre.

Stung by the remark then, Raj seems to have got an opportunity now to hit back. He gave a threat, 'Who has the guts to screen the films of Amitabh Bachchan in Mumbai, unless Jaya seeks an apology for her statement'.

MNS leaders also said that the couple should go back to Allahabad if they are to speak Hindi. This is not only anti-national speech but goes back against the core values of Indianness. Marathi is the state language but anybody is free to speak any language of his or her choice in this country.

It's time the state acts and the rogue guy gets back what he deserves. Unncessary attention due to such controversies have turned him crazy. His bark must be contained and legal action taken against him for his irresponsible utterances.

This is a serious threat. Not just the couple but entire Bollywood and in fact, the Indian pluralistic society has been attacked. Can any goon hold the society's peace to ransom and how long shall we witness and tolerate these terror tactics silently?

Friday, 5 September 2008

At last, Sanjeev 'BMW' Nanda goes behind bars

The law has finally caught up with Sanjeev Nanda though it took almost a decade. It was in 1999 when Nanda had killed six persons with his car. He was drunk and the car was recklessly driven.

All sorts of tactics were used. The powerful and well-connected Nanda family did its best to save him. Money to victim's kin and bribe to the lawyers. Every trick in the book was tried but the case had acquired such limelight that the rich power-drunk brat, was thrown into the jail.

Five years is not a duration for murdering six people. Already the 9-odd months he was in jail would be deducted. Add the relief in term announced on every Independence Day and Republic Day.

And then the reprieve he may get for good conduct. Nanda may be out within just three years! Did he deserve any mercy. No. Even as victims remained entanged in the wheels of the car, he kept driving.

The grandson of former Naval Chief SM Nanda didn't get harsh sentence, as many claim. The court has not been harsh to him. NDTV must be congratulated for the sting operation in this case.

Senior lawyers RK Anand and IU Khan were trying to bribe the witness, Sunil Kulkarni, so that it could help Nanda in the hit-and-run case. Nobody can deny that it was media pressure that was responsible in the conviction.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Is St Xavier's wrong in suspending students for Puja?

The St Xavier's school in Jaipur is in the news for suspending seven students who performed 'puja' in the classroom. This has kicked off a debate and Saffron organisations led by Bajrang Dal and BJYM stoned the school building.

It is true that 'not allowing puja' sounds somewhat wrong to us and the middle-class sensibilities are hurt. Also, the suspension may be considered a bit harsh. But what is intolerable is that one of oldest schools of the City was targeted by vandals, who had no say in this issue.

Puja should not be denied to anybody. But in classroom? That's no place for Puja. Tomorrow some Muslim students will start offering Namaz and so on. A poster of Lord Ganesha was posted in the Class XII.

Principal Jose Jacob had to later say that the students were not performing puja but they were doing a 'mock puja' suggested by the fact that the entire class was laughing when he reached there.

It is middle-class Indian hypocrisy and double standards that we will try every link to get our children the admission in missionary schools, despite knowing that they are run by evangelists. At the same time because they are a minority, we also want them to run their schools by our rules.

This is ridiculous. Even if the school is guilty, the action should be lawful. Not that thugs and hooligans (two hundreds Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and Bajrang Dal activists) will be allowed to storm into the school.

Due to the the incident and the political pressure caused by the communalisation, the suspension was cancelled later. One of the students who was suspended, is son of a BJP office-bearer. His father refused to say anything on the matter.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Bihar Flood & Orissa violence: Colossal failure in times of calamity

For two weeks a horrified nation watched in disbelief how millions were stranded and lives of thousands were put to risk in Bihar.

Strangely, the state government did little to take any action and the surrging water of Kosi river didn't alarm the officials.

Or rather, they chose to ignore it. The plight of ordinary humanfolk hardly affects the babudom or the leaders. Though the army and the airforce swung in action and those marooned are getting rescued, the catastrophe has once again exposed this nation's failure to deal with any major disaster.

If there were no television images, perhaps, nobody would have given a damn outside the state. The photographs of emaciated children clung to their mothers and parents watching their owns sons swept away, evoked shock and horror.

But the ruling coalition JD (U)-BJP government was indifferent. Nitish Kumar looked worried only when situation was already out of control. Nobody knows how many perished in Katihar, Purnea, Madhepura, Araria, Darbhanga, Champaran, Sheohar, Saharsa, Madhubani, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi and other flood-hit districts.

Similarly, for days Orissa continuted to burn. The goons of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal attacked Christians. Hundreds of churches were set afire and there was no proper action to stop the anti-Christian violence.

The killing of Swami Laxmanananda had sparked off the carnage but the police woke out of its slumber only when tens of thousands of Christians had already fled to forests and their homes were destroyed.

So, is India, just a nation of bustling metropolises that cares about just the IT, the Sensex, the BPOs and the so-called emerging India? While rural India goes to dogs. Shameful!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Now Orissa battleground between Sangh and Evangelists: Five killed, Churches attacked

Five persons have been killed and mob comprising RSS and Bajrang Dal cadre has attacked Christian prayer halls and Churches in Kandhamal district of Orissa. Three persons were killed in Raikia on Monday night, as they were found dead in their homes that were set afire.

The violence in which a Christian woman was earlier burnt alive along with another person, came in response to the attack by suspected ultra-leftists (Naxals) who fired at five Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders including Swami Laxmanand Sarwaswati who were killed in the attack.

Saraswati has been involved in bringing back converted Christians to Hinduism. Though Naxalites (Maoist extremists) are not known to be Christian sympathisers, the attack on right-wing Hindu leaders, came as a surprise. However, the attack led to a call for 'bandh' and radical Hindu organisations perpetrated a reign of terror in Orissa.

Not just churches but orphanages and hostels of Christians were attacked and burnt down. The attack is reminiscent of last year's clashes between Christian and Hindu mobs across the state. Situation remains tense in most of the towns of Kandhamal district.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

SIMI no longer a banned outfit

The Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is no longer a banned organisation. The organisation that has been blamed for involvement in terror strikes in the country, can now act freely, at least for the time being.

The single-judge special tribunal of Delhi High court has termed insufficient the evidences furnished by the Home Ministry against the organisation. The tribunal held that the evidences were not sufficient and didn't justify the ban, which has been in existence for the last seven years.

SIMI, a radical group of Muslim youths formed in Aligarh in 1977, was banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The lawyer for SIMI, Mobin Faruqi, welcomed the verdict and said that every time there was a terrorist activity the organisation was unfairly accused.

The lifting of the ban may be challenged by the Central government that can approach the Supreme Court, say legal experts. The Centre has maintained that SIMI is involved in invoking communal frenzy and its elements have waged a war against the country.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Two kids die in Asaram Ashram in MP after 2 deaths in Ahmedabad

What's wrong with the Ashrams of Sant Asaram Bapu? First, two cousins died in mysterious circumstances in Ahmedabad, an incident that brought the citizens on the streets.

Now two kids have died in a couple of days in the Sant's ashram in Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. Ram Krishna Yadav, a four year old, died on Wednesday and Vedant, a five year old, died on Friday.
In all, four kids have died in his Ashrams. Yadav was found dead in a toilet. Vedant is found dead in the nearby bathroom with his head drowned in the water bucket and the ashram doctor said that he perhaps slipped and died because of injury.
Is it all a coincidence that after Dipesh Praful Vaghela, 10, and Abhishek Shantilal Vaghela, 11, were found dead in the gurukul (school) of the Ashram in Ahmedabad?

Or it is something sinister that is going on in the Ashram. We don't blame the baba but if the caretakers and the staff of the Ashram should be grilled and it must be found out whether the children face any exploitation or abuse. This is what many suspect.

In Chhindwara, over a thousand strong crowd came to the streets and was lathi-charged by police. The angry residents wanted that the school be shut, inquiry conducted and the Saint charged for murder.

Godmen and religious gurus manage to get away from inquiries and investigations because of their connections. Asharam Bapu may be a real saint but the way minor children are dying in the ashram, it is definitely alarming and a high-level probe must be ordered.

Earlier, Gujarat witnessed mass protests on the same issue and now Madhya Pradesh is witnessing similar anger. Another thing that should concern us is that why kids as young as four and five who can hardly take care of themselves, be left to these Ashrams?

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Bombs raining in Surat: What lies beneath?

For two days bombs have almost been raining in Surat, the Diamond City of Gujarat.

Wherever the cops laid hands, they found a bomb. And wherever the public found something suspicious, it also came out to be a bomb.

Though we have just seen blasts in Bangalore and then serial explosions in Ahmedabad that killed 50 people, it is still a big mystery as to how so many bombs were planted and none of them exploded in Surat.

Suddenly we have come to know that these bombs were a bit different and had some chip, and as a programme perhaps didn't execute these improvised explosive devices (IEDs) didn't explode.

All the bombs were defused in the end. But questions remain about the tremendous failure of terrorists, as well as the supreme success of our police in recovering the bombs and then defusing them all.
Nobody is taking Sushma Swaraj seriously, as terrorism is not just any other political issue that should be used to train guns at the other party but the mystery of 21 live bombs planted in Surat, will haunt us for quite sometime.

How terrorists managed to do that so easily just a day after Ahmedabad. And if they really did that, will we ever get to know the exact persons and their names who planted them? Rather than police gunning down a few and claiming that they were X, Y and Z involved in it.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Voice of India falls silent: Ishmit Singh dies in Maldives

The innocent face and the melliflous voice is no more. Ishmit Singh, who had become a household name after winning the Star TV's Voice of India contest has died.

He was just 20. The atmosphere turned gloomy in millions of households as the news of death was flashed on TV channels on Tuesday night.

After all, just sometime back they had cheered the boy when he sang his way through the Amul Voice of India competition. Ishmeet's family isn't aware whether he could swim or not. But on Tuesday he did step into the pool and lost his life.

He was rushed to hospital but doctors said he was already dead. In his brief professional career he had achieved fame and love. When he had beaten Harshit to become the star, it as the legendary Lata Mangeshkar who had handed over the award. He was a teenager then, just 18 year old.

The voice is no more but the echoes will be heard forever.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Ahmedabad rocked by serial blasts: Two Indian cities rocked in two days

Just a day after the bombs blasts rocked Bangalore, 17 similar explosions hit Ahmedabad despite the high-alert across the country.

The first blast was reported from Mani Nagar and soon the explosions were reported from Isanpur, Narol, Hatkeshwar, Bapu Nagar and Sarang Nagar areas of the City. By late night the reports suggested 29 deaths and 88 injured in the bomb blasts.

Tiffin boxes on cycles were used for the explosions. Though the scale of death and destruction was similar to that of Bangalore unlike blasts in the past, the aim was clear--terrorists want to scare and send the message that any Indian city is within their reach, anytime.

Later reports suggested that there were more than ten blasts in Ahmedabad on Saturday. An outfit, Indian Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility. It's a grave security issue for the nation and the audacity of the terrorists should serve as a wakeup call for everybody.

Now, what the government is doing about that. Once the reports of the blasts go from front page to inside pages of the newspapers, the investigative agencies also seem to slow down. Two major cities of India have been targeted in two days.

Seventeen blasts in Ahmedabad and eight blasts in Bangalore a day earlier that make it 25 blasts in two days. Isn't it scary?

Still, our intelligence agencies and government remain complacent and forgetting to pursue the terrorists, just after a few days of every such blast. Let's see how the Centre reacts to it. Past history suggests that after a few days, everything will be forgotten again.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Now serial blasts in Bangalore: 1 dead, 15 injured

After a brief lull, the terror has struck South India again. Bangalore was rocked by five serial bomb blasts on Friday.

The serial blasts have returned just 2-1/2 months after similar explosions occurred in Jaipur, in May this year. The person whose death was confirmed was a woman, initial reports said.

However, unconfirmed reports said the toll could go up to three. Though the blasts were mostly of low-intensity and didn't cause as much destruction, as similar explosions in the past have caused, the blasts did create a sense of scare in the City that symbolises India's forward leap in software technology.

Banglore is the face of a new and vibrant India. Initial reports suggest that one person has been killed and nearly 15 have been injured. The blasts were reported from Adugodi, Madivala, Nayandahalli and other areas of the outskirts of South Bangalore.

Bangalore, (now known as Bengaluru), has seen similar strikes in the past when the Indian Institute of Science was targeted. One wonders how long India will continue to face such terror that comes without any warning!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Bye Bye Manmohan: Will the government fall?

Will the UPA government fall? That's the question everybody is asking.

With Congress, SP and allies yet to reach the vital figure of 272 and over a dozen MPs yet to open their cards, nobody can guess the fate of the present government.

Manmohan, a nice and an non-controversial man, got tricked by the BJP. Its leaders had initially hinted that they would support the deal.

Pushing too hard for the deal, Manmohan and his men managed to stage a coup when they compensated the loss of Communist parties by securing the support of the Samajwadi Party.

But the angry Left succeeded in gaining dissidents and those opposed to deal including the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by Mayawati. Now, tens of millions are being allegedly offered to MPs for the vote.

It is shameful to see the horse-trading and the opportunist MPs and political parties seeking favours. Ajit Singh managed to get Lucknow airport named after his father but later retracted and is now agaisnt the government on the issue.

Even if the UPA succeeds in winning trust vote, it would not be proper to go for the deal in view of the susbtantial opposition to it. N-deal is crucial but crores changing pockets in its name, is shameful.

One only wished that the UPA government had showed similar commitment in fighting inflation that is hurting crores of Indians, every day.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Ridiculous renaming: Call it Charan Singh Airport

Don't say Amausi Airport, now it's Chaudhary Charan Singh Havai Adda. That's what the government wants us to say because it needs the votes of late Charan Singh's son Ajit whose party has three MPs in the Lok Sabha.

That's politics, Simple and Obvious yet, so Obscene. Nothing wrong with a longish name and nobody disputes that Charan Singh was a mass leader. But it's pure opportunism.

Amausi sounded so simple and better. Just to placate Ajit Singh, the airport has been named after his father. In case any other party had got the numbers, any name of their choice would've done that.

Chaudhari Charan Singh has several institutes named after him. Already there is a Charan Singh University. Nobody will take the full name and eventually it will become CCSA, an abbereviation for Choudhary Charan Singh Airport.

But in process a name that carried a desi flavour has been sacrificed and replaced by a politician's name once again. It keeps happening everywhere in this country. Institutions become associated with Gandhis and Nehrus when Congress is in power or the names of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Deendayal Upadhyay when the BJP is in power.

Charan Singh, the Jat leader, did manage to bring diverse caste groups together in Uttar Pradesh and even became Prime Minister in the Janata Party government for nearly six months but his son, has almost lost the entire legacy.

He knows he stands no chance of becoming the Chief Minister of UP and has thus raised the pitch for Harit Pradesh. Ironically, his hold on the electorate in the Jat-dominated region has also weakened and his party is in a disarrary.

However, the nature of contemporary Indian politcs has again made him important. Especially, when the UPA government is facing a tough task of proving its majority on the issue of Nuclear deal with USA.

So the renaming of the airport will do good to just one man. His ego would swell everytime the plane would land on the airport, named after his father. And thinking that he managed to get it rechristened! That's Indian politics.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Politics over Pilgrimage: Amarnath Yatra

If there is anybody who has gained from the controversy over the Amarnath shrine board issue, then it is the separatists and the communal forces.

For a long time they didn't have an issue and suddenly all our political parties happily gave the anti-Indian forces, something that they needed so desperately.

People of the country and state are paying for the former Governor (Lt Gen retired) SK Sinha's unwise move in the form of violence, fall of the government and the rise in communal feelings. Mixing religion with politics is always dangerous.

When it is done in a troubled state like Kashmir, it becomes even more dangerous. In a matter of days, the entire peace was broken and voices like Hurriyat that had been marginalised are gaining strength.

Veteran journalist Prem Shankar Jha writes that until recently North and South Block were congratulating themselves on solving the Kashmir issue as infiltration was down, tourism was back and violence was contained.

But an immature decision led to valley erupting into protests and now the old bitterness is back among both the sides: the Muslims of Valley and the Hindus of Jammu, who are feeling equally hurt and victimised.

The creation of Shree Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) with the Governor as its head was the first move along with extension of Amarnath Yatra to 45 days towards creating a controversy. The recent decision over transfer of land added fuel to fire.

"The NDA government's decision to make the governor the head of the SASB, provided he was a Hindu, turned a pilgrimage into a political action. It was also a surreptitious violation of India's constitution...", writes Jha, in Outlook.

Now with Ghulam Nabi Azad-led government having fallen over the controversy, nobody has benefited. Congress, PDP, National Congress and the BJP are all to be blamed for this crisis. BJP should have taken a far reasonable position than raising the communal

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Bal Thackeray wants Hindu suicide squads: Will he send Uddhav to lead them?

Bal Thackeray is unable to set off his son Uddhav's political career due to Raj's high-pitched 'apla manush' campaign, and the 'Tiger' is clearly desperate now.

Narayan Rane's supporters attacked the office of Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna in Pune recently and this also came as a shock to Sena that was always notorious for such acts. It never expected such attacks from any other group.

With the tables turned now: His estranged nephew, Raj, setting the agenda and his former supporters like Rane showing an eye to him, beleagured Bal is back to his old ways.

In Marathi newspaper Samna, Thackeray has stressed on the need for suicide squads of Hindus to counter Islamic terrorism. But the 'paper tiger' knows well that issuing such statements is easy to gain cheap popularity among his constituency.

Of course, he is smart enough not to announce that he will send his son Uddhav to volunteer and lead such squads that might enter Pakistan and Bangladesh to catch the terrorists. It is not just an irresponsible statement but also provocative and criminal.

Clearly, Thackeray is feeling the heat. After all, those arrested recently for bomb blasts in Mumbai, belonged to Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, rather than Shiv Sena. It can be tough for anybody to see his empire usurped and his authority getting diminished with every passing day.

At the age of 82, Bal Keshava Thackeray alias "Bala Saheb" still retains his old ways, especially the rabble-rousing rhetoric. But, rather than issuing such 'fiery' statements, the ageing Thackeray could have learnt from his mistakes, tone down his rhetoric and act gracefully.

All his life, the maverick cartoonist turned politician has sparked animonisty between groups, divided this nation and mastered the art of hatespeak. In a country where politicians get away with anything, Thackeray has also flirted with fascism for decades. And he will continue to do so for the rest of his life.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Allahabad University Students' Moment of Shame

Words fail to describe the feeling of disgust which overcomes one upon seeing the photograph of this university teacher's plight

His face blackened and footwear tied around his neck by none other than the students, in the campus of Allahabad University.

It was this great instiution where once taught Firaq Gorakhpuri and Harivansh Rai Bachchan. Luminaries and leaders were produced in this university then. Now they have been replaced by louts.

But to think of those days is criminal in today's context.The 'students' who did this inhuman act, should be stripped of their degrees and charged with criminal cases.

What was the fault of this teacher? The students' union was against him (Shrivastava) for attending a meeting related to an examination in which his relative was also appearing, say reports. See the news in DNA.

The professor was beaten up by the students' council members and publicly humiliated. But no FIR was registered. This is the state of our society where

Pray for this country and the citizens. What else do we have to say?

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Petrol prices hike: Where is your cycle?

So petrol prices have gone up. Right now it's Rs 5* and there are no such signs that the prices will stop increasing. What's the alternative?

Take out your cycle. If you don't have an old Atlas, BSA SLR or Ranger, get a new one. We have become so dependent on these motorcycles and cars that even if we have to go to just a few hundreds meters from our homes, we prefer to give a kick to our bike or turn the key in the ignition.

This is making us a nation of the most lethargic middle-class. Everyone is zooming past on their motors. And we do this when we don't even have the fuel resources. Just let the prices go up a couple of times more and it will be unbearable.

It's a typical Indian habit that when we get a thing, we use to the hilt. We are couch potatoes and don't want to leave the 'gaddi' either of motorcycle, car or our chairs. That's why India has the misfortune of having most diabetics.

Ride a cycle and do walk a couple of miles. It's not that taxing, guys!

[Photo by Pichenettes courtesy]

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Rajasthan Royals win IPL, beat Chennai in the final: Tournament a success

The Rajasthan Royals won the IPL, beating Chennai in the final match. During the entire tournament the Royals played outstanding cricket.

And final was no different. Yousuf Pathan's sparkling half-century had taken them close to victory but when matched looked going Chennai way, Sohail Tanveer and Shane Warne kept their cool and reached the total on the last ball.

The Royals scored 164 in 20 overs losing seven wickets. Until the last ball it remained a high-tension match and when Tanvir's hit cleared the ropes, Mahendra Singh Dhoni knew he had lost it.

In the final, Yusuf Pathan gave a few chances but scored a rapidfire 56. Murlitharan was hit to the fence repeatedly and gave 39 runs in four overs.

At one point when Pathan got out, it appeared Chennai was back in the match but Warne and Tanvir kept their cool and in Balaji's last over, tension gripped the stadium and millions watching in their homes on television.

The match was decided in the final bowl. Earlier, Chennai had scored 163-5. Raina, Dhoni and Patel contributed to the score. Yusuf Pathan took three wickets and conceded only 22 runs of his four overs.

Pathan has been the discovery of the tournament. He hit maximum sixes in the tournament. In the end it was a deserving win. Through out the tournament, the team played like a cohesive unit though nobody had taken them seriously until then.

The Daredevils, the Knightriders and the other big names faded as the tournament progressed. But Rajasthan Royals emerged as the strongest team that almost looked invincible.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Burney's deportation:Unpardonable and Un-Indian

'Regrettable', that's how the Home Minsistry put it. But it's more than that, it is absolutely shameful. Former Human Rights Minister of Pakistan Ansar Burney is among the few to have risen above petty politics in the sub-continent and hasn't been bitten by the bug of myopic jingoism.

He is passionate about human rights, was working to save Sarabjit and other Indians lodged in Pakistani jails. Besides, he was coming to India to attend the Peace Conference. But the action of the authorities at the Indira Gandhi Airport is absolutely unpardonable.

Now the officials are passing the buck. We are hearing about a look out notice and that it was a mistake at the Regional Registration Office. But this could seriously damage the prospects of Indians lodged in prisons. Sarabjit's family was horrified with the mistreatment.

One thought that the days of mistreating the embassy officials of the other country and deporting them was over. There was an era when we saw Indian High Commission officials manhandled and later deported on the usual charges of spying. More over, it was not expected from our government to show such insensitivity. It takes time to build confidence but a rash action like this can jeopardise all the process.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Justice for Kataras: Muscle, money fail as Vikas Yadav gets life imprisonment

It was money and muscle that had turned the two arrogant brats, Vikas Yadav and his cousin Vishal Yadav, into believing that they will get away with the heinous crime of murdering Nitish Katara and later burning the body

The cousins will now have to spend the rest of their lives in jail. DP Yadav, a rogue politician of Western UP, may have thought that he will bail out his son Vikas and nephew Vishal but the inspiring fight of Nitish's mother Neelam has turned the tables.

Ofcourse, the verdict reinforces the belief of Indians that the courts remain the last hope in a society where everything is bought if you are rich and everything hushed up if you are well-connected.

The media pressure, the sensitivity of the courts and the fight of Neelam Katara has ultimately sent the two goons to prison. It is laudable. Though it took six long years for Kataras to get justice, it may never have come their way, had Neelam not remained firm and steadfast in her resolve.

Not every ordinary person can fight the case in such a manner. Nor all cases end up this way. But such sentences do act as deterrents for the power-drunk who feel that they can trample upon anybody and treat others are 'keeday makoday' .

The court didn't pronounce capital punishment. Had Yadav got death punishment, it would have had far reaching consequences. Still, it is a happy moment for Nitish's family and the rest of the law-abiding Indians.

We wonder, what Bharti might be thinking today. The case will continue as appeals will be made but given the popular pressure it will be almost impossible for the duo to expect any relief in future. Justice was delayed but not denied..
Photo: Nitish Katara

Monday, 26 May 2008

Gujjars on rampage: Rajasthan and beyond

Citizens get befooled through fake promises everytime by politicians but it is Vasundhara Raje Scindia's misfortune that she made a promise which Gurjars didn't forget.

The Gujjars (also Gurjars) are on warpath and the State government is clueless how to deal with the situation. Over the years Meenas, a dominant caste, benefited from the inclusion in ST category and continues to reap rewards. Only recently the Jats got a slice of the reservation pie and Gurjars felt that their status was under threat.

Now like a warlord, Colonel Kirori Mal Bainsla orders the Gurjars to go against the government. Thousands of Gurjars stopped rail movement, damaged government property, braved bullets and no less than 42 died.

Vasundhara Raje Scindia now wants Centre to bail her out of the situation. Meanwhile, Bainsla remains adamant. The scenerio remains pathetic, as you can't blame the Gurjars. The followers of Bainsla don't even understand what the are fighting for.

They feel reservation will open the doors of government jobs to them. With Gujjars planning to stop supplying milk and vegetables apart from spreading their movement to National Capital Region (DELHI), trouble lies ahead for the central government as well.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

BJP's dream of capturing power in South comes true: Lotus blooms in Karnataka

The BJP appears heading to win half of the seats in the Assembly elections and now the first BJP goverment in Southern India looks almost like a certainty.

The Congress is out of power and the father-son Devegowda & Kumaraswamy have been routed in the polls. The trends indicate that out of 224 constitutencies the BJP was all set to win nearly 110 or even more, which makes it the largest party and brings it in a position to form a government in Karanataka on its own.

The party had tried hard to build a base in the state. Unlike Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala where it is yet to establish a foothold, the BJP had managed to make a dent in the voteshare of Congress over the last decade, especially among Lingayats and other Backward Castes.

The election results are significant. With BJP heading a government in South India, it will be another jolt to Congress that still claimed to be the only national party. Also, the JD(S) leader HD Devegowda who wanted to play as a kingmaker has been rejected. His family-run party has won barely 30-odd seats.

It's BS Yeddiyurappa's moment, for now. For BJP it's a great opportunity to extend reputation below the Vindhyas and focus on governance rather than communal politics which had made it an untouchable in South until now.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

First correct your own anglicised name Mr Bal Thackeray!

At last, somebody* had the guts to say it to Bal Thackeray, the cartoonist-turn-politician of Maharashtra who feels that Mumbai is his fiefdom and that nobody else had a role to play in creating the Cosmopolitan, which it is today.

After his nephew's fascistic programme to divide the society on regionalistic lines, Thackeray has also repeated the same line. Shiv Sainiks want Bombay Dyeing, Bombay Stock Exchange (BEST) and Bombay Scottish School to drop the Bombay and change it to Mumbai.

I am staying at a hotel in Allahabad and find a shop bearing the name 'Nagpur dry cleaner'. One of his ancestors may have come to this City in search of livelihood and named the shop after his hometown. It also looks good to eye but a North Indian can't afford to do that in Mumbai in 21st century.

The Banarasi Pan Bhandar-wala in Mumbai changes the name to Mumbai pan bhandar to escape the rowdies of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Shiv Sena. And even Bombay, the old name of the City, is an anathema to them.

Why? Just because it is colonial? Even Bal Thackeray's name is colonial
, the spelling being that of British author Willam Thackeray who wrote Vanity Fair, an English classic. Why doesn't Shiv Sena supremo change it first to Thakre?

Vir Sanghvi*, in his column Couterpoint, in Hindustan Times, asks this question. It takes guts to say that. After all, Indian journalists who love to take digs at politicians really don't have the nerve to take the name of Thackeray sans Saheb.

From Bal Thackeray, he becomes Bala Saheb Thackeray just because his men can take law in their hands. The City and the nation have had enough of this drama. The uncle and nephew are trying to outwit each other in rhetoric. At this rate they may someday demand that the name of the country, India, should also be changed as it is also given to us by British.

The name, Bombay, was changed to Mumbai. Now, as Sanghvi writes, it should happen at its pace and not in such a manner. He ends his piece with the line, 'We are certainly not changing any more names only because he can’t handle his nephew'.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Terror Attack: Why of all places, Jaipur?

In a tragic yet surprising development, serial bomb blasts occurred at half-a-dozen places in Jaipur causing nearly 65 deaths on Tuesday evening. The blasts occurred in crowded market places in the Walled City.

The first blast was reported at around 7:15 pm. The Hawa Mahal, Manak Chowk, Johri Bazar, Tripolia areas in the heart of the Pink City were targeted. Within half-an-hour, the blasts took place one after the other, causing injuries to almost 100 persons.

But the obvious question is: Why Jaipur? Is it that the terrorists want to target places that were not considered vulnerable until now. Though Ajmer, another town of Rajasthan was targeted in the past, the blasts in Jaipur still come as a surprise.

Ajmer is well-known for the Sufi shrine of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti. Due to the large number of Hindu and Muslim devotees who come to Ajmer, this is a major pilgrimage centre. But Jaipur!

Hyderabad, Mumbai, Lucknow, Kolkata, Delhi and cities with a history of communal clashes are targeted so that there is Hindu-Muslim tension and the aim of the anti-national forces is to create such divide. Seems, there strategy is now to target new Cities.

Jaipur is one of the foremost symbol of India's cultural heritage. Lakhs of tourists come to the Pink City every year and Rajasthan is the face of Indian tourism worldwide, along with Agra. The anti-national forces must have been desperate as there was no major communal or casteist issue in the country for long.

And thus came this attack. The incident is serious in magnitude and of grace concern because it was not a solitary blast. There was a series of blasts that took place in the City including a car bomb blast. Let's hope that our security agencies nail the culprits in this case.

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