Showing posts from 2006

The Killing Fields

Its ironic, as I flipped the channels from CNN tired of watching the death dance over Saddam, I came across the movie, "The Killing Fields" on HDNMV, a movie about yet another despot - Pol Pot - coming to power and maintaining power through ruthless killing of his own people. The world never seems to tire from producing such tyrranic despots.

Darfur, Sudan, Somalia, North Korea - how many more are we to go through?

Exactly What is Wrong With Death Penalty

CNN, BBC is reporting that those witnessing the hanging of Saddam Hussain were dancing around his body after his death. There is so much to be reviled about the dictator, but death of any human being deserves some degree of decorum and respect - otherwise there remains no difference between us and the vile dicator.

This is why I am not in favor of death penalty.

Death of Saddam closes one of the dirtiest chapters in the history of the middle east. Yet, his death is likely to change little in Iraq. Iraq is in a downward spiral, and this downward spiral can only be stemmed if the Iraqi people decide that religious differences between Shia and Sunni should be set aside in favor of Iraqi unity.

Not likely. Under Iranian "guidance" you are likely to see strengthening of the Shiias at the expense of Sunnis. Lets keep a close watch on Saudi and other Arab reaction to the Persian influence in Iraq.

Shiiaites Gaining Ground (literally) in Bagdad

This is what the Saudis are afraid of...Sunnis being driven out of the power center district by district.

Meanwhile, the Saudis have a new ambassador to US, and apparantly, Prince Turki left because he did have a difference of opinion with Prince Bandar. Bandar advocates a go touch approach with the Iranians, while Turki would like to negotiate with them. The hawks are winning.

Meanwhile, the Saudis have convinced the US that its in our best interest to increase the troops, the Generals seem to capitulated. So soon we will likely have more US troops in Iraq, not less!

Meanwhile, Afghanistan is going to hell in a hand basket!

Bigotry In This Season of Goodwill

Christmas is supposed to be the season of goodwill and faith. Yet despite the holiday season, national politics still seems to be laced with a certain degree of bigotry. NY Times reports a story - Virgill Goode the Republican congressman from Virginia - has demonstrated his disdain for Islam, and his own Christian faith and caused an outrage by criticizing the Muslim congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesotta for his choice of Koran as the religious scripture for taking the oath of office. The whole point of holding a sacred book in ones hand is to ensure that the person takes the oath with utmost seriousness, and no text can bring this seriousness into a person that the religious text they rever the most. How does one ensure this reverence if the individual is holding a book that holds no significance to him or her? You might as well be holding Rogets Thesarus in your hand.

Beyond bigotry though, Mr. Goode has also demonstrated a lack of tolerance for the America ideal - respect for …

Bigotry In This Season of Goodwill

Christmas is supposed to be the season of goodwill and faith. Yet despite the holiday season, national politics still seems to be laced with a certain degree of bigotry. Virgill Goode has demonstrated his disdain for Islam, and his own Christian faith and caused an outrage by criticizing the Muslim congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesotta for his choice of Koran as the religious scripture for taking the oath of office. The whole point of holding a sacred book in ones hand is to ensure that the person takes the oath with utmost seriousness, and no text can bring this seriousness into a person that the religious text they rever the most. How does one ensure this reverence if the individual is holding a book that holds no significance to him or her? You might as well be holding Rogets Thesarus in your hand.

Beyond bigotry though, Mr. Goode has also demonstrated a lack of tolerance for the America ideal - respect for the differences of our fellow countrymen. America is a melting pot wh…

Our Friends Kids

Oumila & Prashant's Pride & Joy, Neil D'sa

Truth or Dare For Nepal

In NY Times today, Soumini Sengupta writes about the world of change Nepal has undergone since Kind Gyanendra gave up power. I wasn't a great fan of the King, and his absolute power, and I wasn't a great fan of Prachanda (Pushpa Kamal Dahal), the maoist gurrilla leader whose followers committed untold attrocities on the Nepali people who didn't agree with them. Yet, when the Maoist agreed to form a new government with the Opposition politicians, I applauded them.

It appears that so far things have been moving in the right direction. Recently Pushpa Kamal Dahal was in New Delhi trying to sell the Indians on how the Nepalese People's Army had laid down arms and were reconciled to peaceful co-existence with the Koirala government.

Now that the easy part of forming a government is over, the tough part of holding people accountable to the crimes begins. in this regard, I wonder what was given up by the opposition in bringing the Maoist to the table. As Sengupta report…

The Three Acts of the Drama In The Middle East

It looks like the other shoe is dropping on the Neocons. The Saudis have served the papers - US, you walk from Iraq and we will start a conflagration. It wasn't supposed to be this way - we were supposed to be welcomed into Iraq, and the Kingdom of Saud was supposed to be happy about us removing a major threat to its regime in the Mid-East. And now what do we have? Lets see...

Iraq is burning
Lebanon is smoldering
Mullahs in Iran have gone "nukilar"
The Saudis are threatning to finance a Sunni war against the Shias, and
Israel, fresh from the loss of face in Lebanon, is itching to put Iran in its place

Not exactly the kind of "democratization" we expected from ousting Saddam!

How the hell did we get into this kind of holy mess? Where are the rosy scenarios Wolfovitz and his ilk painted for us when we were lied into attacking Iraq? To be fair, the Saudis were always a bit wary about the Iraq war. On one hand they were secretly happy that George Bush, in the proc…

ISI support of Taleban continues unabated

Thanks to Pakistani ISI's support of Taleban and al 'Qaeda, the Asian neighborhood has always been a dangerous place. There is little doubt that ISI (the secretive security and intelligence agency of Pakistan) has been fomenting trouble in both India and Afghanistan for decades, but with the entry of US in the Afghan war there was hope that perhaps this lawless agency will be reigned in. Not so.

As has been well documented in the book
"Punishment of Virtue" by Sarah Chayes, ISI is very much continuing on with its support of Taleban.

Yesterday, in NY Times there was an article about how
the South Waziristan region of Pakistan has become a haven for theTaleban
and foreign fighters.

Today, there is another article on the impact ISI's support of the Talebani extremist elements on its own soil is having on Agfhanistan.

So what do we do about this?
We continue with our unconditional support of Pakistani military, and
We are transferring more of our responsibilities in Afg…

Hu Jintao to Visit India Today

Chinese President Hu Jintao is slated to start his first trip to India, today. Indian TV channels are reporting that Hu is likely to be greeted with demonstrations and demands for recalling Sun Yaxi for his comments on Arunachal Pradesh. There are also reports that the forward teams of China have raised the issue of border dispute in their discussions with the home ministry. This must be an attempt by China to demonstrate to its displeasure to India over the passing the Nuclear deal in the US Senate. China is reacting swiftly to this increasing coziness between US and India. This blurb from BBC indicates just this!
Beijing and Islamabad share close military ties and there are suggestions that President Hu will announce a major nuclear deal with Pakistan during his visit to that country, immediately after his India trip.
So, after aiding and abeting Pakistan, the world's mother-of-all-nests of terrorism and terrorists, and setting back the clock of nuclear non-proliferation by d…

China's Duplicitous Behavior

Oh well, my fears weren't entire unfounded after all! After my last post I expected to be wrong, but it looks like China has already shown its true colors. This story seems to indicate that the Chinese Ambassador Yaxi has already claimed that the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh belongs to China!!
We demand that the Government of India should ask the Government of China to immediately recall their Ambassador here," JD (U) President Sharad Yadav said in a statement here.
Yadav described the Ambassador's statement that the whole of Arunachal Pradesh was Chinese territory as "timid, weak and highly disturbing".
To say something like this right before Premier Hu's visit is bold if nothing else.

On another note, it seems Premier Hu Jintao is offering Pakistan (more) cooperation on Nuclear front. More cooperation? Isn't it enough that their previous cooperation has led to a nuclear arms race around the world with North Korea, Iran and Libya getting their ha…

Indo-Chinese Cooperation - Time to Think Carefully

The 60s experience should have taught Indians a lesson but the Indian leaders have not yet learned it. Well, its time China taught them a lesson once again. Case in point, here is a statement from a researcher involved in a Chinese think tank connected with the central government.
China wants India to dissolve the Dalai Lama's government in-exile at Dharmashala, according to an expert at a state-run think-tank that advises the Chinese government on Sino-Indian relationship.
In the early 50s era of Nehruvian utopia that followed the freedom struggle, the Indian nation was led to believe that India and China could be brothers-in-arms against the bourgeois capitalist west. This led to being blind sided by the Chinese political ambitions when the 1962 Indo-chinese war erupted wresting the control of strategically important Aksai Chin. Shamefully, India was totally unprepared for the war, and lost its sovereign territory to China, which it hasn't recovered despite its historic …

Pakistan's ISI Involved in Indian Blasts

So whats new. Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (their Spy Agency) has been implicated (once again) in the blasts in India. This time, the Police Commissioner of Mumbai says, that he has arrested Pakistani nationals in the investigations that followed the blasts. Mumbai police Commissioner A.N. Roy said the attacks were planned by the spy agency and carried out by Pakistan-based Islamic militant group, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, assisted by the Students Islamic Movement of India, a banned Islamic group. Addressing a news conference to announce the completion of the investigation, Roy said 15 people had been arrested, including 11 Pakistanis.
Pakistan's ISI is essentially an agency whose mission is to promote subversive activities in its neighboring countries. ISI was involved in promoting Taliban and bringing it to power in Afghanistan. ISI has been involved in training terrorists and sending them to Kashmir. ISI has been involved in the recent resurgence of Taliban attacks…

Water Crisis in India

Growing up in the town of Dombivli, we used to live in a very small two room apartment called Chatre Chawl on Ayre road. There, each household had one tap as a water source, and communal toilets and bathrooms. Water came through the pipes once a day, in the morning, starting at 4AM, and lasted only until 7AM. Being that our home was at the end of the building, our tap would start dripping after every one else in the building had their fill of the water. So, Mom would wake up early and fill all the vessels she could. Buckets, Gourds, Matkis, even large vessels called Bhagonas would be filled with water. Afterall water had to last the entire 24 hour period! After all the vessels had been filled, she would wake us up one by one so that we could finish our ablutions before the tap ran dry.

This was the ritual I grew up with and 24 hour water supply - well the thought of that never entered my mind at the time.

Things changed a bit when my family saved up enough money to move to a …

Paryushan Parva - Self Purification Festival

Today I received a beautiful little poem from a Jain friend of mine asking me to be forgiven for any sins he may have committed against me during the course of the year. I had heard of "Paryushan Parva" but turned to my dear wife for more details and she explained that the Jain people seek self-purification during this festival. Wikipedia has this on Paryushan:
At the conclusion of the festival, the Sravakas request each other for forgiveness for all offenses committed during the last year. This occurs on the Paryusha day for the Swetambara and on Pratipada (first) of Ashwin Krashna for the Digambara.
What a great idea! Immediately I returned the email begging forgiveness myself for all of mistakes (known and unknown) that I might have committed against my friend!

Politicisation of a beautiful song

Like all good things, the beautiful song 'Vande Mataram' has become embroilled in controversy. The song, written by poet Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in 1876, is celebrating its 100th year anniversay of being sung at the Congress party's session - Congress Party being the party that led the independence movement in India.
After some Muslim groups said it was against Islam to sing it as it was a hymn to the Hindu Goddess Durga, the government backed down and made singing voluntary.
That led BJP, the Hindu party in India to declare that this singing the song is the only way to declare alligence to India!

Such is state of the world. Innocent things get politizised for the slightest of reasons!

Why Men Are Such Happy Creatures

This email came to me via a friend, and greatly illustrates why Men seem so happy. What it doesn't explain is, if happiness is exelir of life, why do Men die earlier than women?


Men Are Just Happier People ... What do you expect from such simple creatures?

Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You can never get pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. Hell, you can wear NO shirt to a water park.

Car mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress: $5000.00. Tux rental: $100.00.

People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. The occasional well-rendered belch is not only appreciated by your friends, but pra…

Letter from Mumbaikars (Bombayites) in reaction to the bomb blasts

This letter arrived in my email box this morning. Speakes volumes about the people who have had to bear the brunt of terrorism and natural disasters, one too many times in the recent past.

Dear Terrorist,

Even if you are not reading this we don't care. Time and again you tried to disturb us and disrupt our life - killing innocent civilians by planting bombs in trains, buses and cars. You have tried hard to bring death and destruction, cause panic and fear and create communal disharmony but every time you were disgustingly unsuccessful. Do you know how we pass our life in Mumbai? How much it takes for us to earn that single rupee? If you wanted to give us a shock then we are sorry to say that you failed miserably in your ulterior motives. Better look elsewhere, not here.

We are not Hindus and Muslims or Gujaratis and Marathis or Punjabis and Bengaliies. Nor do we distinguish ourselves as owners or workers, govt. employees or private employees. WE ARE MUMBAIKERS (Bombay-ites, if you l…

EBay Will Continue To Grow

This friday or saturday's Wall Street Journal carried an article about how Meg Whitman has work cut out for her at the up coming eBay investors day. She would have to explain how she will continue to grow the company at 35-40% clip year after year now that the new customer aquisition rate has slowed and the "auctions" model is peaking in US. Skype and Paypall have helped, but the real engine is eBay, and analysts are clamoring to know how she will continue to grow eBay. While eBay has its challenges, but I doubt that the "auctions" model is out of date or that it has peaked. Case in point - myself

Call me a neanderthal, but fact is, until recently I had not used eBay even once. I did, out of curiosity, venture to eBay a few times before, but at the time, I found the experience less than satisfactory. The interface was cluttered, garish, and frankly intimidating for a first timer. Soon I gave up, and eBay did not enter my life until recently. These last c…

Alok & Nandini's House Warming Pooja

Mars Rover Wheel Stops Working - AAA Called

According to news reports the wheel of Mars Rover stopped functioning. Immdiately NASA placed a call to AAA to get help to the Rover. The Sheriff's office on Mars is not commenting on this but have suggested that NASA move the vehicle off the highway so as to not obstruct other vehicles in the vicinity.

We will keep you posted on the situation of Rover.

India Uncut

Today I came upon a fascinating blog "India Uncut" by Amit Varma, a journalist who writes about Cricket for Guardian and Frontline. He followed the Indian team to Pakistan and has provided an interesting view into the current Pakistani society that is hard to find. Unlike the stereotype of turban wearing mullahs, the Pakistan Amit brings to us is a modern, vibrant, liberal Pakistan not unlike the modern India we find in Indian cities.

I am glad to have discovered India Uncut at this time, because as I write this post, Amit is returning from Pakistan to India. I wish I had discovered him earlier, but its better late than never.

And, not to forget, India Uncut listed as the "Indi Blog" of the year!

Nepali insurgent leader talks

Charles Haviland has an article on "Puspa Kamal Dahal" or "Prachanda" as he is known, the leader of Nepal's Maoist insurgents whose rebellion has taken thousands of lives of poor Nepali people. The man who is responsible for indiscriminate violence that has plagued this idyllic Himalayan hindu nation, claims to be moving towards reconcilliation. Yet his rhetoric speaks otherwise. He speaks of executing the King of Nepal while talking about returning his movement to democracy! US and India better watch out. If this man gets in power, all bets are off. Allowing someone like Pushpa Kamal Dahal come to power will make a mockery of justice. I know that the King of Nepal is no democrat, and certainly the means he chose to come to power weren't the most ideal ones, but at least under him the Kingdom has seen some stability. India and US should work with the current Nepali government to transfer the power back to the elected leaders, while ensuring the crim…

Images of Old India of 18th Century

I came across these beautiful rare pictures of old India of yester years on BBC. A sharp contrast to the modern metropolises that have mushroomed everywhere in India. Check it out. Click on the picture to go to the selection of pictures.

Any Thing Goes In India!

There is a saying in Hindi, "Chalta hai, chalane do" which roughly translates, "Let it go on, who gives a damn".

This pessimist attitude is so pervasive in India that the rich and famous politicians take full advantage it. Take this story about Lalu Prasad Yadav. A colorful man who is currently the Railway Minister of India, is illiterat, corrupt and wields enormous power, has corrupted the system so much that it is amazing. One time, when he was the chief minister of Bihar, there was some scandal that resulted in him being booted out of the office. Not to give up so easily, he decided to contest by by putting his wife up for elections! The Bihari janta (people), duly elected the illeterate wife Rabri Devi to the post of Chief Minister and the Yadavs continued to enjoy the perks of being a powerful politician for aother 5 year term.

Recently the Bihari's seemed to have suddenly gained wisdom, and ousted Rabari Devi and her party. Such is their sense of e…