From a total outcaste to a favored friend and companion? We think this is fairly mad, but the liberal-left will probably be stunned by the audacity of change.  It was a fight to the death, a bold and brilliant gamble…and they lost out to a tsunamo….

At a political level this is simply a victory for the majority-Gujaratis and like minded American browns, who stood behind their tea-server boy and watched proudly as the bird spread its wings. That is the Hindu truth and we live in a Hindu land for now and forever.

It is interesting (and significant) that such letters are usually written in bipartisan spirit. This exception points to (a) deep R-D polarization in Washington, and/or (b) discomfort amongst Ds with such a blatant u-turn so fast. 

The most important question remains: what will Hilary think (or do)?
American lawmakers have written to US House Speaker John Boehner
requesting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi be invited to address a
joint meeting of Congress in September when he travels to Washington at
President Barack Obama’s invitation.

“India is a critical
partner of the United States. In every aspect, whether it be in
political, economic, or security relationship, the United States has no
more important partner in South Asia,” Congressmen Ed Royce [Republican from California-39] and George
Holding [Republican from North Carolina-13]
wrote in their June 20 letter to the House Speaker, echoing
Obama’s oft-cited statement that US-India relationship will be one of
the defining partnerships of the 21st century.

and Holding said the US must now work closely with Modi to strengthen
the relationship given that he has promised to focus on private
enterprise, reduce bureaucracy, and strengthen trade ties with major
partners. Since 2001, US-India trade has experienced impressive growth,
but our commercial relationship remains far below the scale of our
markets, they said.

Royce, a California Republican who is
chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee and former co-chair of
the India Caucus, has been a ardent votary of a Washington outreach to
even as some of his colleagues worked to keep the former Gujarat
chief minister out of the US in view of his alleged inaction during the
2002 Gujarat riots. The State Department complied with the pressure from
a few lawmakers and their human rights constituents.

that is now in the past after the White House, pilloried for allowing
the India relationship to drift, initiated a policy turnabout,
ostensibly impressed by the mandate the Indian electorate gave the
Modi-led BJP. Efforts are now on to reset the relationship amid the
discovery in Washington of Modi’s many perceived strengths and virtues.


Link: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/American-lawmakers-want-Narendra-Modi-to-address-US-Congress/articleshow/36911669.cms




Madam President (2B) speaks her mind

No blow-jobs please…..“It’s like keeping poisonous snakes in your backyard
expecting they will only bite your neighbor”….

defensive……Mind your own business lady pakistan can handle this situation we do not
need any lectures from you…..

imaginative…..One thing seems clear here is that a US-India block and a Pak-Russia block is in the making…..
pragmatic…..She is going to be the next President of the USA. Better pay heed now or the relationship will really go south….

Hilary is supposedly a friend of India. But that was in the good old, pre-Hindu-Brotherhood days. She is definitely a liberal imperialist, and probably takes the Carlotta Gall line on Pakistan (USA is fighting the wrong enemy etc.). At any rate, the reactions are predictable to say the least.

Given how America and her best friends and allies behave (and talk), it is probably a good idea for all parties to step back, reduce expectations and keep a friendly and respectful distance. 

In that sense, the India-USA relationship is probably just at the right temperature, not too hot and not too cold. In the meantime there needs to be strengthening of people to people links. Start with small steps: encourage more direct flights between India and USA (why not?).
Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has said that
Pakistan’s policy of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan has been
proven wrong and the country now needs to focus all its strength on
dealing with the militants.

“Their idea, that they have
these groups to provide strategic depth, as they like to say, vis-a-vis
Afghanistan, or vis-a-vis India, I think if that were ever true, which I
doubt, but if that were ever true, it no longer is,” she told Indian
NDTV channel.

In the interview that focused on her new book,
‘Hard Choices’, Ms Clinton said that Pakistan also needed to make a hard
choice now, disconnecting its ties to various terrorist groups and
putting together all state powers to “once and for all go after
extremists, shut down their training camps, their safe havens, (and)
madressahs that are inculcating suicide bombing behaviour.” 

The Pakistanis must also “begin to have a different view of themselves in the future”, she added.
Clinton said she believed the Asif Zardari government did not know what
the connections were between elements within the military and the ISI
and various extremist and even terrorist groups.

She also said
that those were under the mistaken view that having these kinds of
proxies vis-a-vis India, vis-a-vis Afghanistan were in Pakistan’s

“It’s like keeping poisonous snakes in your backyard
expecting they will only bite your neighbour and what we are seeing now
is the continuing threat to the state of Pakistan by these very same

Ms Clinton said that when she visited India after the
Mumbai terror attacks, she was “very struck” by how the then government
said it was very difficult to exercise restraint. “I don’t think any
government could say anything differently.”

She said when Sonia
Gandhi and former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh conveyed the news
of the Mumbai terror attacks to her, she told them: “This is an element
within the military intelligence institutional base, but that the
civilian government was not involved.
But I think that no country can
turn away from that kind of attack continuously.”

She noted that
the terrorists now had moved deeper inside Pakistan, attacking targets
in major Pakistani cities. “We’ve just seen the attacks in Karachi. And I
don’t see how Pakistan can ignore this much longer.”

Asked who
she thought was accountable for the terror attacks, she said: “We
certainly never had any evidence that it went to the very top, but that
may or may not be true.”


Link: http://www.dawn.com/news/1114535/pakistan-needs-to-make-hard-choices-now-hillary




Bloody Poila Baisakh (more blood on the menu)

Terrorists, who want to remake Bangladesh into a islamic nation where unislamic activities are banned through violent means are now likely to meet a violent end. We are unhappy with the death sentence though. Bangla society is probably too entrenched ideologically into two halves, for this sentence to be considered fair and just by all.

Just like the concept of Hindu truth and Muslim truth is gaining ground in India, there will now be a P-I truth (folks who believe in the spirit of partition I) and a P-II truth in Bangladesh. On similar lines we can also expect a Buddhist/Tamil truth in Sri Lanka and a Shia/Sunni truth in Pakistan.

Our expectation about Bangladesh is that it will (over time) follow the Pakistan trajectory. Just like Basant is now banned in Lahore, Poila Baisakh (new year) will eventually come to an end in Dhaka. As we have seen in Iraq, islamists have God on their side and will relish a fight to the bitter end. Hangings will create future martyrs for the misty eyed lads of today.
 A Bangladeshi court sentenced eight militants to death on Monday for a
2001 bomb attack that killed 10 people during new year celebrations in
the capital Dhaka.

“The attack was carried out to destabilise the
country and create panic, “Judge Ruhul Amin said as he delivered the
verdict in a crowded court in Dhaka’s old city.

The head of the
outlawed Harkat-ul-Jihad al Islami (HuJI) outfit, Mufti Abdul Hannan,
was among the eight who were ordered hanged for targeting the
celebrations in Dhaka’s main park which they deemed un-Islamic.

judge also sentenced six others to life in prison for setting off two
bombs as thousands of revellers were celebrating the first day of
Bengali New Year on April 14, 2001.

“It’s a heinous attack and
unprecedented in our history,” prosecutor Abdullah Abu told reporters
after the verdicts were announced.

“We’re happy with the eight
death sentenced, but not satisfied with the sentencing of six people who
were given life terms. We’ll appeal against the life sentences. “

HuJI chief, better known as Mufti Hannan, is already on death row
having been convicted in 2008 for trying to assassinate the British high
commissioner four years earlier in a grenade attack.

A lawyer for
the defendants, Faruque Ahmed, told AFP that he planned to appeal the
verdicts which he said were politically motivated and designed to “make
people happy in certain quarters”.

Mufti Hannan, who fought
alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan’s civil war, is also accused of
having been behind a plot to assassinate the current Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina when she was leader of the opposition in 2004.


Link: http://www.dawn.com/news/1114609/eight-bangladesh-militants-to-hang-for-2001-bombing




Poles: Gave Americans a “Blowjob,” Got Nothing

“We are gonna conflict with both Russians and Germans, and we’re
going to think that everything is great, because we gave the Americans a
blowjob. Suckers. Total suckers” 

We already know how many muslims (especially sunnis) feel: America is to blame for the mess that is Middle East North America (MENA). Even acts of evil perpetrated by local dictators is explained (excused) away like this: “it could not have happened without a signal from xyz American embassy.” Arabs/muslims have no independent agency (this according to Arabs/muslims themselves).

Now we get to see the diplomatic equivalent of the above sentiment (yes, a single anecdote) expressed from  the leader of the most pro-american, ex-Russian-victim people who know deep in their hearts that if Russia does march out and re-conquer Warsaw (the old “friendship” pact used to be called Warsaw pact, ho ho ho), there is nothing that Obama can/will do to stop it.

Power grows out of the barrel of the gun (as Mao would gladly explain to the Nobel Peace Prize winner and anti-gun crusader).

You really cant help feeling sorry for the globo-cop, s/he is in charge of keeping the peace and yet get very little thanks from allies (also bitter condemnation from rivals). Yet american leaders (including Obama) have not really considered anything drastic in response – for example withdraw troops from Korea, Japan, and Europe. Indeed the plans are in the offing for new bases in Australia, Kurdistan and Philippines and even Vietnam may be a possibility.  

So, what explains this behavior of the american elites- the NEO-con right and the NEO-liberal left?

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski,
generally viewed as a leading ally of the United States in Europe, said
in a mysteriously-leaked recording Sunday that the alliance between the
two countries is “not worth anything.”

“The Polish-American alliance is not worth anything. It’s even
damaging, because it creates a false sense of security in Poland,”
Sikorski says on an excerpt of a longer conversation set to be published
Monday morning in the magazine Wprost,
which is reportedly between Sikorski and former finance minister Jacek

It’s unclear who recorded the conversation said to be from
this spring, and why, though speculation has focused on Russian
intelligence, which is believed to have leaked a similarly embarrassing conversation between American officials.

After his interlocutor asks why he’s skeptical of the alliance, Sikorski continues that it is “bullshit.”

“We are gonna conflict with both Russians and Germans, and we’re
going to think that everything is great, because we gave the Americans a
blowjob. Suckers. Total suckers,” Sikorski says, according to a
translation of the account for BuzzFeed.

The recording is one of many made of politicians’ conversations in
posh restaurants, and has emerged as a massive problem for the country’s
ruling Civic Platform.

Sikorski also employs a racially-charged word in the conversation, describing the mentality of Poles as “Murzyńskość.” An English-language Polish outlet described the phrase as meaning “thinking ‘like a Negro.’”

Sikorski said
on Twitter that he hadn’t been to the restaurant in which he was
allegedly recorded; Wprost’s editor said the recording had in fact been
made in a different location.


Link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/polish-foreign-minister-we-gave-the-us-a-blowjob-got-nothing




To Mosul, with love

Fascinating backstory about Mosul and Iraq in the 1970s. Those were the days.

In the mountains to the north of Mosul,
there lived a tribe which was said to worship Shaitan or Satan….since he was the barrier
between man and God, the path to salvation could be smoothened through
direct invocations to the antithesis of the sacred.

While this is only one man (and we suspect a Sunni muslim by faith) we have heard something very similar from our other muslim friends (all sunnis). Saddam was a bit like Indira Gandhi. Iraqis lived in peace till they were invited into acts of foolishness by the dastardly americans. Even Iraq attacking Kuwait was the fault of America….Ultimately it is all America’s fault.

We daresay this opinion/perception holds true not only amongst Indian sunnis but those around the world as well. As far as Indian Shias are concerned they are trying hard to keep an united front with the sunnis and downplaying the Shia-Sunni rivalry (again it is all america’s fault). At least everyone can agree on this point at least.

The abduction of 40 Indians from Mosul, Iraq, has justifiably
triggered a wave of anxiety at their dreadful plight. Should New Delhi
fail to free the hostages forthwith, the anxiety would likely turn into
rage, inspiring stereotypical images of the Islamic world detesting
of us living forever in the crosshair of blood-thirsty
militants. This narrative will inevitably portray Iraq as yet another
Muslim country hostile to India, a veritable enemy territory.

But all those who worked in or visited Iraq in the 1970s will narrate
you another story. They will tell you that unlike, say, the arrogant
Saudis and nouveau riche Emiratis, the Iraqis had an abiding love for
not least because they looked upon it as a civilisation as old as

But this love wasn’t merely sentimental. It was as much based
on respect for India’s technological prowess and assistance to Iraq in
its quest to emerge as a modern nation-state. There was, even in those
days, admiration for India’s democracy and freedom and, above all, its
romantic, at times maudlin, Hindi films.

Indeed, it is vital to recover the narrative of Indians about the
Iraq of the 1970s. For one, it will underscore the grossly limited scope
of contemporary international relations studies, mostly defined and
designed to focus on the interests of global powers. Two, such a
narrative will tell you that Iraq wasn’t always an economically
backward, Islamic fundamentalist country. Three, and more important, it
will portray that a conflict between two nations has severe consequences
for a third country even though it doesn’t share borders with either.


Those Indians who lived in Iraq in the ’70s are either very old or
dead. It’s, therefore, the responsibility of their children to bring the
complicated narratives of the ’70s into the public domain.

I’m one of those children, then a schoolboy who visited his parents
in summer or winter breaks every alternate year. My father taught
applied mathematics for eight long years in the University of Mosul, the
city from which the 40 Indians were abducted a few days ago.

To reside in Mosul was to breathe history, to even live it. The city
was said to have been inhabited continuously centuries before the Common
Era (CE). Here you could find the mausoleum of Prophet Younis, or
Prophet Jonah to the Christians. There were churches and monasteries
dating back to the sixth century, in sharp contrast to the monochromatic
portrayal of Iraq in the global media.

Even heterodoxy flourished. In the mountains to the north of Mosul,
there lived a tribe which was said to worship Shaitan or Satan. Their
logic of worshipping Shaitan was impeccable: Since he was the barrier
between man and God, the path to salvation could be smoothened through
direct invocations to the antithesis of the sacred. I was once taken to
the mausoleum which the tribe held in great reverence, for there was
buried one who had supposedly acquired enormous spiritual powers through
his appeasement of Shaitan. ….

Indeed, a land’s antiquity can be judged as
much from carbon dating as from its forms of worship and apocryphal

Mosul was a fine city, spread on either side of the river Tigris.
Exclusive enclaves of villas dotted the suburbs, the labyrinthine old
quarters and bazaars dominated the city centre. At night, the city would
be lit up with a psychedelic touch. From the roadside cafes would waft
the aroma of chicken skewered on spindles that turned slowly over the
oven, as would drift the lilting voices of Arabic singers. On its roads
cruised spiffy cars, from Mercedes Benz to Volkswagen to Toyota to
Renault, long before they made the Indian roads as their own. Yet, late
night, drunken men returned from taverns in horse-drawn carriages, the
haunting echo of clip-clop mingling with delirious laughter.

Mosul, as also much of Iraq, didn’t just choose to dress its ancient
soul in the tawdry dress of modernity. It sought to alter the
sensibilities of its people, and provide a liberal gait to its ancient
style. The societal transformation was manifest in the substantial
presence of women in the public arena. They were in government jobs,
behind shopping counters, in healthcare and teaching professions. They
dressed as they wished, from draping themselves in the black chador to
trousers to skirts to micro-minis.

The freedom the women enjoyed was, in a way, ironical, living as they
did under the authoritarian regime of Saddam Hussein. But his rule
wasn’t just about keeping people under a tight rein. His Ba’ath party
espoused secularism, or strict neutrality towards religion, and
undertook the project of building a modern nation-state. Revenues
gushing from oil wells helped finance this modernist project. For
instance, college education was free, including even textbooks, subject
to the proviso that irrespective of the socio-economic status of the
student, he had to join the army as an ordinary soldier in case he
failed to clear the annual college examination in two successive years.

Indians were respected precisely because they played a significant
role in Iraq’s project to emerge as a modern nation-state. They held a
slew of technical teaching positions in universities, manned its
healthcare systems, built its roads and rail links, rejuvenated its
agriculture, and trained its air force pilots. These roles the Indians
have played elsewhere, but in Iraq rarely were they looked upon, as they
are in some Western Asian countries, as citizens of an impoverished
land selling their skills for better remuneration. For instance, Indians
driving out of cities were often waved past check-posts without
security search, an astonishing concession in a paranoid police system
that Iraq decidedly was.

Perhaps their respect for Indians was because of the common
sensibilities ancient civilisations are said to spawn. It was this
sharing of sensibilities which perhaps explains the popularity of Hindi
films in Iraq. They were a rage, a new release drawing packed halls. My
most enduring image of their love for Hindi cinema was the audience
response to a scene in Sholay. It was that dramatic shot in which Gabbar
Singh, after mowing down Thakur’s family, points the gun to his
grandson, trembling in fear. The audience burst out shouting, “No, no,”
and took to hurling coke bottle caps at the screen. You would have
thought the Iraqis were incapable of fighting one bloody war after

However, it was on the pavements of Mosul I grasped the roots of
Iraqi’s respect for India. It had this curious tradition of students
spreading their bedrolls on pavements and studying in the bright glow of
city lights. Presumably the students belonged to lower socio-economic
strata, their home perhaps too overcrowded to prepare for examinations
diligently. On such nights they would communicate to me through a
smattering of English words and sign language that while Iraq had
exceptional wealth, the Indians possessed knowledge and brain-power.

The more articulate among them would ask me what it was to live in a
democracy, to vote and choose leaders, to enjoy the freedom of
expression. It was brave of those students to speak on politics. An
Iraqi friend of my father’s confessed that they refrained from
discussing politics in extended family gatherings, suspicious as they
were of cousins working as Saddam’s spies. One night an anguished cry
rent our neighbourhood. I was later told it was of a man whom the secret
police had whisked away for engaging in clandestine political activity.
Such men, it was said, never returned.

To my childish eyes, Saddam didn’t seem a brutal dictator on the day
we were out on a picnic in the rugged mountains of the Kurdish area. We
heard the clatter of choppers as they hovered over us, descending
slowly, their tails swaying. From one of them stepped out Saddam,
briskly walking around shaking hands. He joined a circle of Kurds, their
arms interlocked, taking two steps forward and kicking their right legs
high, and then two steps backward to toss their lefts legs in the air.
The dictator stood so close I could have even touched him. In hindsight,
I guess it was a show mounted for television.

Nevertheless, I was impressed. Till then, the closest I had ever been
to a political leader was around 100 meters from Indira Gandhi, who had
driven down the roads of Patna, where I was schooled, in a convertible.
Later in the evening, I saw Saddam address a crowd from the balcony of
the governor’s residence. They cheered him uproariously every now and
then. I thought he was Iraq’s Indira, boasting an indomitable will and
enjoying tremendous popularity.

All this was before Saddam entangled himself in the Sunni-Shia
competition and opted to become a footsoldier in America’s grand plan to
stem the Islamic revolution in Iran from spilling across it borders.
Like so many other West Asian leaders in the past, Saddam too wished to
emerge as a pan-Arab personality. In 1980, he unilaterally declared he
was abrogating the 1975 Algiers treaty that had settled the
Shatt-al-Arab border dispute between Iran and Iraq. A desultory,
disastrous Iran-Iraq war ensued, prompting Indian professionals to leave
the country.

They left not only because of deteriorating security condition; it
was also because the government had diverted its financial resources to
war efforts and could no longer bankroll an expensive retinue of
expatriate professionals. Eight years later, the war ended, but not its

Presiding over an impoverished state, Saddam demanded monetary
compensation from Saudia Arabia and Kuwait for having battled on their
behalf the Iranians and their Islamic zeal. 

Perhaps he wouldn’t have
invaded Kuwait but for the duplicitous role American ambassador in Iraq
April Glaspie played. The transcripts of her telegrams to Washington
reveal she had tacitly encouraged Saddam to invade Kuwait,
or at least
conveyed the impression that the US wouldn’t intervene in an
Iraqi-Kuwait armed conflict. No doubt, Saddam’s troops overran Kuwait in
a swift raid, but it also became a pretext for the US and its allies to
launch the first Gulf War in Jan 1991. An impoverished Iraq was bombed

But its woes still didn’t end. Stringent UN sanctions were imposed on
Iraq, which was disallowed to determine the quantity of oil it could
sell. Battered, its economic recovery became impossible and, tragically,
infants began to die for lack of food and medicine. Then came George
Bush’s neo-cons, who pummeled Iraq further, in the hope of reconfiguring
the region to their imagination.

Over the last few years, the democratically elected government in
Baghdad had succeeded to put Iraq back on rails. Not only did militancy
show a downward spiral, Iraq clocked an impressive growth of 8.5 per
cent in 2012. In the same year, it pumped 3 million barrels of oil a
day, the highest since 1983. It had planned to commit $ 45 billion on
infrastructure in 2013, conveying its resolve to rebuild its economic

A confident Baghdad was also inclined to re-forge old ties with
India. In 2012-2013, Iraq accounted for 13 per cent of India’s oil
imports, taking the second slot among the countries meeting Delhi’s
energy needs. It offset the dip in supply from Iran because of UN
sanctions. In 2006-2007, India’s exports to Iraq were worth $ 200
million. The figure jumped to $ 1.3 billion in 2013. Iraq’s imports
showed even a bigger spurt – rising from $ 5.5 billion in 2006-07 to $
20 billion in 2012-13.

When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited India last year, he
expressed his wish for a larger Indian investment in the oil and gas
industry and cooperation in the healthcare and education sectors. To
demonstrate Iraq’s faith in Indian doctors, he checked in at a hospital
in Gurgaon. On average, 100 Iraqi medical patients come to India daily.

But hopes of Iraq’s revival were cruelly dashed, yet again, because
of America’s adventurism, its penchant for regime change in countries
that had been opposed to it. Much of the turmoil in Syria had been
courtesy the Americans, who provided arms and logistical support to
militant groups arrayed against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It can
well be accused of encouraging if not directly supporting the Al Qaeda
footsoldiers who have banded under the banner of Islamic State in Iraq
and Syria (ISIS). It’s the ISIS that has swept through Iraq, triggering
an upheaval in which the lives of 40 Indians have been imperilled.


Cut to 2003. When the Americans began to amass troops in Kuwait for
launching the invasion of Iraq, my father often thought of his Iraqi
friends. To allay his worries, I took from him the names of his
colleagues, believing academicians had greater chances of surfacing in
an internet search. Over weeks of relentless search, I stumbled upon a
professor whose name matched one on my father’s list. I wrote to him
friend asking him whether he had been in the University of Mosul and
remembered my father.

I received a reply from him the next day. Yes, he said he had been my
father’s colleague and listed others from the faculty and their
whereabouts. They had all moved out of Iraq. Even the Jordanian
professor’s extended family had dispersed all over West Asia, and his
children were employed in the UAE. He said Iraq has lived through
terrible times, and fervently hoped Iraq could recover the happy
ordinariness of life now that Saddam had been deposed. But he added a
caveat, “Not under American occupation. Never.”

I wrote to him saying, yes, the burden of challenging the American
hegemony had now fallen on the Iraqis. He didn’t respond. The professor
must have thought of me as a foolish man, preaching defiance and
rebellion from the comfort of certainty denied to his country for a

As we worry over the fate of 40 Indians, spare a thought for the
Iraqis, who became victim of the overweening ambitions of a dictator and
the callous arrogance of a superpower. Undoubtedly, we should bristle
against the Islamic militants. But we should also against the Americans,
who fight wars in distant lands, their own people insulated from
unimaginable miseries and dislocations of wars.


Link: http://www.firstpost.com/world/iraq-and-india-a-forgotten-love-story-1581885.html




25 June 1975 (the importance of freedom)

Indira Gandhi proclaimed that
“food is more important than freedom”, JP had thundered: “Freedom…freedom of the human personality, freedom of the mind, freedom of
the spirit. This freedom has become a passion of my life and I shall not
see it compromised for bread, for security, for prosperity, for the
glory of the state or for anything else.”

It is said that freedom must not only be earned but every generation has to prove themselves worthy of freedom all over again. A good thing to remember as the threats to freedom are growing once more, this time from the right field.

No surprise, Indians today have mostly forgotten the darkest hours of the democracy that happened because the people in power wanted absolute power over the people, even to forcibly remove their ability to have children. Many people were thrown into prison simply on the basis of suspicion and hearsay (similar to the blasphemy accusations of today) and were tortured.

The lesson of 1975 is clear- the nation must try to (re)discover and stay true to her moral core. The people who protest against injustice are for the most part good people. They take enormous risk in doing what  they do, often against the wishes of their near and dear ones. They often suffer grievously at the hands of state-sponsored dacoits. The tendency to crush dissent and punish dissenters (and whistle-blowers) has to be curbed.

MG Devasahayam, first in the Army and then in the Administrative Service (IAS), provides a valuable eye-witness account of what really happened on and after June 25, 1975. Two things are very clear- evil grows when good people stay quiet, and evil can be destroyed by peaceful means as well. It is true that we do not have, right now, moral giants such as Jay Prakash (JP) Narayan, but then we must not lose hope. The hour will always produce the (wo)man.

Large portions of South Asia is presently drowning in orgies of violence, it is the need of the hour that we find ways to become better neighbors (as people, as communities, as nations) so that we can all join hands in the fight to eliminate poverty (while not compromising on freedom), which must surely be the greatest evil of them all.

On the midnight of June 25, 1975, prime minister Indira Gandhi nearly
destroyed India’s democratic framework with a piece of paper that
proclaimed a state of emergency.
It was carried by her private secretary
to the President, who meekly signed it. The mis-governance that followed
extinguished freedom, suspended fundamental rights, fettered the press,
suppressed dissent. More than one lakh citizens were illegally
Draco­nian laws followed. Democratic governance collapsed.

At that time, I was the district magistrate of Chandigarh, a Union
Territory governed by the Centre. The home ministry and the PMO were
directly monitoring my “eminent prisoner”, Jayaprakash Narain, India’s
tallest leader after Mohandas Gandhi, and now Enemy No. 1 of the state.

He’d been arrested by the district magistrate of Delhi and sent to me
for safe custody. So I had a ringside view of the Emergency, right from
the corridors of power in Delhi to the streets of Chandigarh. Everyone
could see the Emergency drama around them, but I—a member of the elite
IAS, but primarily a freedom-loving citizen—had the opportunity to
witness, feel and be a part of the intense struggle of JP, the
“revolutionary in chains”.

In my own humble way, I initiated certain moves for reconciliation
between JP and Indira Gandhi so that the Emergency would be lifted and
democracy restored at the earliest. I’d even roped in Sheikh Abdullah
for the purpose through the good offices of Punjab chief minister Giani
Zail Singh. These efforts were repeatedly sabotaged by an
extra-constitutional authority at Delhi’s pinnacle of power.

Mysteriously, starting early November, the health of JP, who was lodged
at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in
Chandigarh, began to deteriorate sharply. I had every reason to suspect
that a conspiracy was on to incapacitate JP by damaging his kidneys and
put him out of harm’s way if not eliminate him. Probably, Delhi durbar
felt that JP was the only person of moral stature who could challenge
the dynasty. Later events proved me right.

By divine grace, I could defeat the conspiracy by playing hardball
with the Centre with a pointed poser: “What if JP dies in detention?”
That sent shivers in the PMO, for just a few weeks earlier,  sleuths had
rehearsed a “death-in-detention” drill. Within a week, JP was released
on unconditional parole. In defiance of Delhi durbar, I commandeered
seats on a flight and sent JP to Jaslok Hospital in Bombay with his
brother Rajeshwar Prasad and friend Minoo Masani. We were just in time
for his kidneys to be saved. JP lived for four more years, albeit on
dialysis twice a week. 

For this audacity, I did incur the wrath of the
‘dynasty’ scion and his minions. But I had the honour of JP calling me
“the son I never had” and Dr Manmohan Singh complimenting me, saying,
“Deva, you did not merely save JP, you saved Indian democracy.”

In the 1977 election, JP led the Janata combine and threw the
Congress out of power. Needless to say, the conspiracy to damage JP’s
kidneys was never fully investigated and the Alva commission set up by
Janata government was wound up under intense pressure from vested
interests still owing allegiance to the Congress dynasty.

Be that as it may, a ‘secret’ IB report leaked on June 11 lists me
among ‘eminent persons’ who are part of an anti-national, foreign-funded
“Superior Network of pan-India NGOs”, including Greenpeace and People’s
Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). These NGOs are allegedly “taking down
development”, impacting GDP by three per cent and endangering “national
economic security” by articulating people-centric issues. 

Is that not
the sort of language used during the Emergency? The PUCL, founded by
that great patriot JP, responded that the report was an attempt to
intimidate and kill dissent from those who raise an often lonely voice
against life- and livelihood-destroying development programmes.

Indeed, I have been speaking up against big-ticket,
forest-destroying, coast-ravaging and livelihood-killing proje­cts such
as Vedanta and Posco. Also against  resource-guzzling, secretive and
extremely expensive nuclear projects such as the 2,000 MW Koodankulam
plant (to be expanded to 6,000 MW) and the 2,800 MW Gorakhpur plant (in

I oppose the Koodankulam project because it has devastated the
southeastern seabed and would rob lakhs of fisherfolk of a livelihood.
It could also hang like a sword of Damocles over millions of
project-affected people because of unsafe equipment. As recently as May
14, six personnel were seriously injured at the Koodankulam plant
because of malfunctioning valves. 

I oppose the Gorakhpur project because
the 320 cusecs of Bhakra canal water allotted to this plant would
deprive 1.4 lakh acres of farmland of water. The region is
semi-arid and the cotton, wheat, pulses and oilseeds grown here depend
on irrigation from the canal. Farming supports the lives of about a
million directly engaged in it here. Villages here are also the habitat
of blackbuck (a “near-threatened” species) and the project will cause
the animals immense harm. 

Another reason I oppose nuclear reactors  is
because post-Fukushima, they raise great worries about being a threat to
life itself. Nuclear energy, which generates just one per cent of the
country’s needs, is not the answer to India’s electricity problems. It
is also very expensive, if all costs—capital, construction,
commissioning, operation, decommissioning and safe storage of
spent-fuel—are honestly factored in.

This ‘development’ model is anti-poor. Opposing them, in fact, is in
consonance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governance agenda,
unveiled in the President’s add­ress to Parliament on June 9. It swears
by ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ or inclusive development and goes on to
say: “…my government commits itself to the goal of poverty

With a firm belief that the first claim on development
belongs to the poor, the government will focus its attention on those
who need the basic necessities of life most urgently. It will take
necessary steps to provide security in its entirety to all citizens,
through empathy, support and empowerment.” 

It is precisely these
people-centric issues that the ‘listed’ individuals and NGOs are
advancing. Intriguingly, the IB report was leaked the very day after
this speech. Is it to scuttle Modi’s pro-poor agenda? The jury is out!

Back to the Emergency. Even after four decades, this dark era continues to haunt the nation. Writing in Outlook
in June 2010, Arundhati Roy wrote: “June 26 is the 35th anniversary of
the Emergency. Perhaps the Indian people should declare that this
country is still in a state of Emergency.” When the UPA government
threatened Maoist sympathisers with imprisonment under the Unlawful
Activities (Prevention) Act, rights activists retorted: “We consider
this as an attack on civil society reminiscent of the Emergency era.”
Anchoring CNN-IBN’s Face the Nation debate on the censorship of Prakash Jha’s movie Raajneeti,
Sagarika Ghosh’s poser was, “Are we under Emergency?” What now, with
some top guns pushing for a harsher POTA and the decimation of ‘Maoists’
by deploying the military?

Despite the fact that the Emergency is remembered and recalled
whenever any blatantly unlawful act or excess is committed, people at
large, particularly those of the younger generation, have no idea as to
what it was all about. On the eve of the 36th anniversary of the
Emergency, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar wrote: “The new generation
must understand that today’s non-governance or misgovernance is the
fallout of what Indira Gandhi had done 36 years ago by destroying an
established democratic order…. How do you make the new generation
relate to the Emergency imposed some 36 years ago this week? I have been
asked this question many a time…I do not have an answer.” Nayar’s
anguish is proof enough as to how this crucial part of India’s
freedom-killing post-­independence history has been pushed under the

At the peak of the Emergency, when Indira Gandhi proclaimed that
“food is more important than freedom”, JP had thundered: “Freedom became
one of the beacon lights of my life and it has remained so ever since.
Freedom…transcended the mere freedom of my country and embraced
freedom of man everywhere and from every sort of trammel—above all it
meant freedom of the human personality, freedom of the mind, freedom of
the spirit. This freedom has become a passion of my life and I shall not
see it compromised for bread, for security, for prosperity, for the
glory of the state or for anything else.”

According to some accounts, JP was Modi’s guiding beacon during his
long sociopolitical journey. Will Modi—who worshipped at the ‘temple of
democracy’ before entering it—honour his icon’s freedom agenda or let
petty minds belittle it? This is the billion-people question for Modi!


Link: http://www.outlookindia.com/printarticle.aspx?291101




Islamabad (Chan Pir Badshah) blast

As they said: blow-back will be fierce. Our heartfelt wishes are with the families of the victims.

A powerful explosion at a shrine in the federal capital on
Friday night injured at least 39 people, seven of whom are said to be in
critical condition, DawnNews reported.

Initial TV
reports suggest that the blast took place at the shine of Chan Pir
Badsah in Pindorian neighbourhood near Shezad Town Police Station of

An emergency has been imposed in Pakistan Institute of
Medical Sciences (PIMS) and Poly Clinic hospitals of the city where
injured were taken to after the incident.

Dr Aisha of PIMS Hospital told the media that 31 people were brought in the hospital out of whom four were critically injured.

Khurram, an official at Poly Clinic Hospital said that three critically
injured among eight people were brought in the hospital.

nature of the blast has not yet been verified but eyewitnesses told
DawnNews that the explosion took place when food was being distributed
amongst devotees.

According to a spokesman of Islamabad Police, security has been put on red alert at all entry and exit routes of the capital.

said that after cordoning off the site of the incident, police, Rangers
and Army commandos have launched a search operation to nab the


Link: http://www.dawn.com/news/1114065/blast-at-islamabad-shrine-wounds-at-least-39




We need to catch sleep for a few hours, so we will miss the magical moment when the 150k page-views mark is left behind and beneath us (effectively clocking 30k page-views per month since inauguration late January).

We know who all the big players are as well as the bosses who deserve all the credit for this phoenix like rise of the new BP. Personal thanks are also due for giving us – the mango people – a micro-phone. And we have to admire how the newbie Naveen is firing on all cylinders, keeping the oldies on their toes.

Well played, all the brothers (we wish there were a few more sisters), all of you.



Iraq: Indian Partition and Afghan Jihad combo package?

Parallels with Partition of British India 

A foreign superpower militarily defeats local dictatorial regime,and introduces an electoral polity to a local populace, which has not been exposed to it in past. Elites of the second largest religious majority (around 30-35% of populace), who enjoyed (or have a perception of enjoying) power under the earlier dictatorial regime, now fear of being electorally
swamped by the bigger religious majority. A full fledged ‘Direct Action’, sectarian cleansing and civil war follows. Been there, done that??

Parallels with Afghan Jihad

  1. No unified command/sole spokesperson in rebel ranks. Half of the Iraqi Sunnis (15-20% of Iraq’s populace) are Kurds who will resist any Arab overlords from Baghdad (be it Shia or Sunni). The Arab Sunnis (the other half of Iraq’s Sunni populace) are also a divided lot- Baathists, ISIS and many Sunni Tribals control different parts of NW Iraq and are coordinating tactically only to topple present Baghdad based regime. Some parallel here with the diverse lot of Afghan Mujahideens in 1980s/90s?
  2. A proxy war superimposed on domestic power struggle ( with Iran and KSA taking the place of Soviets and USA in Afghanistan )
  3. ISIS seems like an Iraqi-Sham version of Taliban.

Lessons for Iraq from experience of Partition and Afghan Jihad

  1. Those who ally with ISIS, may face a serious blowback later (like Pakistan and Afghan Mujahideen faced with Taliban).  
  2. A protracted conflict likely in Iraq unless rival Gulf powers back down
    (or one of them runs out of money or faces blowback from fanatics on own
    side). Afghan Civil war began in 1970s and is yet to end.
  3. A sectarian Partition in an environment of hostility may create  more problems than it would solve. It will take generations to undo the damage. 
  4. Since a mutually agreed foreign master does not exist, if the partition occurs, there is likely to be a highly contested border region (more like LoC in Jammu and Kashmir than Radcliffe line)
  5. Local Shia-Sunni minorities will suffer in general and perhaps cleansed near the contested border zones, if Partition occurs.
  6. Iraqi Arab Sunnis may end up suffering much more than Iraqi Shias- because of
    their far fewer numbers as well as fractured,
    non-elected rebel leadership with several extremist and authoritarian groups calling shots.

PS: It goes without saying, that from Karbala to Ottoman-Safavid struggle for Mespotamia to colonial Sykes-Picot border to the riches of Oil Fields to Saddam’s rule to Iran-Iraq War to Kurdistan’s struggle for independence to Syrian civil war to Maliki’s triumphalism, the region has a unique history of its own. The attempt here was to look at the event (perhaps in a very imperfect way) from the lense of South Asian crises that have played out along similar lines.


Iraq’s Reverberations in India

Indian Shias worried

holy Najaf and Karbala now in ISIS crosshairs, Indian Shias are an anxious lot.
protested against Shia persecution at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar  and about
3000 have volunteered  to go to help Iraq
. In Jammu and Kashmir, Kargil is
strongly backing Iraqi Nation.

Lucknow, Shia groups (alongwith many non-Shias) have also
appealed to people
of all religions to lend their moral support to people
being massacred by ISIS. 
Shias found an unlikely ally in BJP’s outspoken Hindutva activist,  Subramanian Swamy who urged Indian
Government to offer military and economic support to Iraq and “stand with Shias
in the emerging Shia-Sunni attrition war.” because as per him, within
India the Hindu-Shia amity had been cordial for decades and non-alignment was
not an option here.

Given India’s limited capacity (couldn’t handle even Afghan and Sri lankan mess in
her own backyard); heavy economic reliance on Gulf (Iran, Levant and Arabian
Peninsula ) for jobs, remittance and Oil; and the likely domestic terror
backlash; Is it really advisable for India to pick a side in what is now a full
blown regional Proxy cum Civil war?  I doubt.


Closer Economic Ties
with Iran

any militaristic siding with Iran in Gulf region may be beyond India’s capacity,
the thaw in Iran-US relations (due to rise of ISIS), has meant India
now able to pay some of pending oil payments.
In past, US has been a big hurdle
in India’s economic ties with Iran. Perhaps one can look forward to closer
Iran-India economic cooperation in future.


Stuck Nurses to Stay

being promised wages by the rebels, the Indian Nurses stuck in Tikrit, have
decided to stay back.
 Some nurses
who returned from Iraq also want to go back
so that they can repay the loans. This does not come as a surprise to me-Indian
workers in Gulf and East Europe (unlike US) are by and large, a poor lot,
always ready to risk their lives for some quick cash.
Meanwhile, Twitter
Jihadis are claiming some Kashmiris and mainland Indians are fighting for ISIS