Saturday, September 30, 2006

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 in Afghanistan. When a state agency supports terrorism, isn't that state a terrorist state? So why is Pakistan being so actively courted by United States, and why are we supplying arms and munitions to Pakistan?

Recently I started reading a very interesting book by Sarah Chayes called The Punishment of Virtue. Its a fascinating book that tells about the role of Pakistan and ISI in the coming to power of Taliban, and how Taliban has not been vanquished. Quite the opposite - with the help of ISI, Taliban is resurging, causing untold havoc to the innocent people of Afghanistan.

The events unfolding in Afghanistan today could have been easily foretold if the world had recognized what a menace ISI has become. The bomb blasts in India, and resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan is a brutal reminder that unless the powers of the world recognize the sheer terrorist capacity of Pakistani ISI and decide to do something about it, world will always be an unsafe place for the innocent.

The article on Indian accusations comes via NY Times.

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 three room flat. There, the building planners, anticipating the water needs of the residents, planned to put two tanks, one at the bottom of the building which would continue to fill up the entire day, and another at the top of the building. Water would be pumped twice a day from the bottom tank to the top tank so that residents could have the water accessible 24 hours a day! 24 hours! When we moved to this new home I thought that was a luxury I could never live without!

While there were many like us who progressed on to live in homes with central tank water supply, there are millions of others who do not have such a luxury. For them it seems, things have gotten worse. When I go to India now, driving around it is not an uncommon site to see a water tanker with a line of people standing with empty buckets patiently waiting for their turn. Soumini Sengupta has articulated the large dimensions of this water crisis in a series of three articles for NY Times about the looming water crisis in India two of which have been just published. Here is the link to the first article...

Water crisis - Part 1

Friday, September 08, 2006

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!