The Kerala girls….probably beyond help

zones of conflict, there’s no freedom. As diplomats we are trained to
see every difficulty as an opportunity. There’s no free will in zones of

The Kerala nurses have been kidnapped and moved to Mosul, deep inside ISIS held territory (they were previously in Tikrit where the Shia and Sunni armies are at a stand-off). Of course miracles can always happen. But it is unlikely that the Caliphate is going to voluntarily surrender 46 Christian girls.

It is time for the Govt (Ministry of External Affairs-MEA) to think out of the box. Why not request the Hon. Salman Khurshid to lead an all-Sunni delegation to plead with al-Baghdadi (with Saudi patrons serving as intermediaries)?

The MEA should also consider requesting the Owaisi brothers from Hyderabad to plead with their fellow brothers in Iraq. Akbaruddin – “remove police for 15 mins, we will finish off 100 crore hindus” –  Owaisi has always been a vocal and consistent supporter of Christian sisters from Odisha (who were being tortured by Hindutva-vadis). We imagine that he would be just as eager to help out his Christian sisters from Kerala who are being imprisoned (and perhaps subjected to worse indignities) by Sunni thugs.

Finally, since this is a humanitarian endeavour (and thus beyond sectarian and national politics) we would request the (Indian American) Muslim organizations to help out. The Milli Gazaette article lists some of these high profile organizations (
Today four such organizations exist in US. They are: 1.
Washington DC: The Association of Indian Muslims of America. 2. Chicago:
Consultative Committee of Indian Muslims. 3. San Francisco: Indian Muslim
Relief Committee. 4. Detroit: American Federation of Muslims from India. 

Through these organizations, Indian Muslims in US are trying to help their
Qaum back home,
by supporting programs for the improvement of education
among the youth, provide financial relief in the event of natural
disasters and anti-Muslim riots and do public relations work to draw
attention to instances of injustice to their community in India. 

Alumni of
the Aligarh Muslim University have established fairly successful Alumni
Associations in Washington DC, New York, Chicago, San Francisco Atlanta
and Detroit.
Generally, every year in October, they organize annual
get-togethers and Mushairas to celebrate the birth anniversary of Sir Syed
Ahmad Khan, the founder of the university.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) rebels have forced 46 Indian nurses to move out from Tikrit to Mosul in Iraq.

“Indians have also been asked to leave Karbala, Najaf and
Basra. Regarding the nurses in captivity, we have confirmed of people
seeing them unharmed, but in captivity. A short while ago they were
moved to another location. All of them are unharmed. 

The external
affairs minister has been in consultation with Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
Our embassy continues to be in touch, even as they are moving to
another location,” MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said in New Delhi.

zones of conflict, there’s no freedom. As diplomats we are trained to
see every difficulty as an opportunity. There’s no free will in zones of
conflict,” he said.

The Indian nurses have now been
relocated to Mosul, which is under militants’ control. All the 46 nurses
who have been moved are from Kerala.

“Tickets have been given to 900 Indians to fly out of non-conflict zones in Iraq right now,” he said.






Who killed Sunanda Pushkar?

head of the AIIMS forensic department on Thursday [03 July, 2014] stuck to his
controversial claim that pressure was brought on him to manipulate the
post mortem report on Sunanda Pushkar

The ISI may be the #1 intelligence agency in the world but Dr. Subramaniam Swamy is without question the #1 secret agent. Just after Sunanda Pushkar’s death Swamy had claimed that she was killed with “russian poison.”  

The chief of forensics @ All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has now confirmed (and re-confirmed) that he was being pressurized (by then Union Minister and AIIMS president Ghulam Nabi Azad) to cover up the matter.

As we have noted before, Sunanda’s fate was probably sealed when she spilled the beans about her husband’s activities, which have been linked to the Dubai underworld. It was Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar (as alleged by Sunanda herself) who helped trap the flies nicely in her spider-web (elite men are always so reliably vain and stupid). Thus once more it is made clear that the ISI is the #1 intelligence agency in the world. Bravo.
In an explosive revelation, senior journalist Nalini Singh has said that
Sunanda Pushkar was tensed and crying hard hours before her death.
Notably, the TV journalist was the last person Sunanda called from her mobile.

In an exclusive conversation with Zee Media, Singh said she
received a call from Sunanda at 12:10 am on January 17, hours before she
was found dead in the room of a five-star hotel here.

“At 12:10 am on January 17, I received a call from Sunanda. She was
crying hard and was very tensed. I thought it is because of the then
ongoing Twitter spat between her and Pakistani scribe Mehr Tarar. But
Sunanda told me that Shashi has deleted messages from his BlackBerry
Messenger. She said that as a media person, I should help her in
retrieving those messages.


Less than six months after her death, Pushkar’s death has
once again made news with the head of forensic sciences at AIIMS, Dr
Sudhir Gupta, alleging in an affidavit submitted to the Central
Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that he was “pressurised” by former Union
minister and AIIMS president Ghulam Nabi Azad to act in an
“unprofessional” manner
and to cover up the matter.

applicant could not muster courage of openly placing the facts in black
and white as the former president of AIIMS Ghulam Nabi Azad was an
immensely powerful politician and the then health minister, and the
husband of late Sunanda Pushkar was also a minister and a powerful
politician,” the affidavit stated.

head of the AIIMS’ forensic department on Thursday stuck to his
controversial claim that pressure was brought on him to manipulate the
post mortem report on Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar

A day after the premier health institute denied his claim, Dr Sudhir Gupta said, “I stand by what I said”. “How do they know there is no pressure on me? Who were they to clarify
that there is no pressure on me? What was the hurry to call a press
conference?,” he said.


Soon after Pushkar’s death, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had
alleged that she did not commit suicide, but that it was a case of
murder. He had also questioned Tharoor’s nervousness regarding his
wife’s death. He had also claimed that Pushkar had been given “Russian

Investigators had pointed out at that time that Pushkar’s body had 12
injury marks including a bite mark on her hand. However, the injuries
were not life-threatening but raised questions as to whether she was
physically assaulted before her death. 

Other theories that did the
rounds at that time said that she had overdosed on sleeping pills. 

Pushkar’s autopsy report had stated that the cause of death was
unnatural. The report also indicated that she died of drug overdose,
most likely a combination of sedatives, other strong medicines and
probably alcohol. What isn’t clear is whether she was forcibly
administered the same or did she willingly consume it herself.

The Delhi Police which is investigating the
case has sought a third opinion to ascertain her cause of death. After
contradiction in AIIMS and CFSL reports, the Delhi Police has asked
Forensic Science Lab to carry out advanced tests to ascertain whether
alprax turned into metaboloids. Experts, however, say there are chances
cause of her death may never be known.


marriage to Tharoor wasn’t the first marriage for either party. Both of
them had been married earlier as well. Both had met at a party in
October 2009. They got married in 2010 after Tharoor was elected as an

Tharoor was earlier married to Tilottama Mukherjee
and later to his UN colleague Christa Giles. Sunanda’s first marriage,
to fellow Kashmiri Sanjay Raina, had ended in divorce. Her second
husband, Keralite businessman Sujith Menon, died in an accident in 1997.
They had a son, Shiv.

In April 2010, Pushkar had relinquished her estimated Rs.70-crore
stake in IPL when allegations of corruption against Tharoor had caused a
furore. It was alleged that Tharoor had used her as a front to collect Rs.70 crore to help the Kochi owners get their IPL team.


Link (1):

Link (2):

Link (3):




Sexiest woman in the world

…as voted by FHM magazine (we strongly disagree, it should have been Vidya Balan). Deepika Padukone, with all due respect, is not the strongest character actor (she claims she got the crown because of her work). She has displaced Katrina Kaif who was voted #1 three times in a row.

We wish her all the best. In a few decades time can we expect a “women have to leave the crown in the garage” thesis from her as well? Nah…once the chains fall off they never come back.






“leave that damned crown in the garage”

“…You might be president of PepsiCo.But when you enter this house,
you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re
the mother. Nobody else can take that place. So
leave that damned crown in the garage”…. 

Well, we have already noted the example of the ideal Bharatiya Nari- Shrimati Jashodaben Narendrabhai Modi. She still prays daily for the welfare of her missing in action husband and in his glorious victory, her blessings presumably counted just as much as that of the First Mother.

Now we have the self-spoken example of Indra Nooyi who was sent out to get some milk, the night she was informed that she has been appointed President of PepsiCo. Her husband was “tired” and her own mother told her to “leave that damned crown in the garage.”

We are admittedly in awe. In the Bong-world, there are no brave souls who will dare ask the lady of the house to “leave that damned crown in the garage.” Even faux-thugs like Tapas Pal are known to hide behind the convenient pallu (wife, didi) when threatened.

Since we are playing with extra fine Iraqi oil here, let us throw in a matchstick as well. Long long time ago, when we were looking to “settle down” a suitable boy gave us the ultimate advice about Indian women. North Indian ladies, he claimed, were modern on the outside (traditional inside), while South Indian ladies were the opposite. How about Bongs? Well, it is your destiny to be oppressed for the rest of your life!!! 
While interviewing Indra K Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, at the Aspen Ideas Festival Monday, David Bradley,
who owns The Atlantic, asked two questions that elicited as frank a
discussion of work-life balance as I’ve seen from a US CEO. Below is a
lightly edited transcript. The second question was preceded by a brief
discussion of Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “Why Women Still Can’t Have It

You come home one day as president of the
company, just appointed, and your mom is not that impressed. Would you
tell that story?

This is about 14 years ago. I was working in the office. I work very late, and we were in the middle of the Quaker Oats
acquisition. And I got a call about 9:30 in the night from the existing
chairman and CEO at that time. He said, Indra, we’re going to announce
you as president and put you on the board of directors … I was
overwhelmed, because look at my background and where I came from — to be
president of an iconic American company and to be on the board of
directors, I thought something special had happened to me.

So rather than stay and
work until midnight which I normally would’ve done because I had so much
work to do, I decided to go home and share the good news with my
family. I got home about 10, got into the garage, and my mother was
waiting at the top of the stairs. And I said, “Mom, I’ve got great news
for you.” She said, “let the news wait. Can you go out and get some

I looked in the garage and it looked like my husband was
home. I said, “what time did he get home?” She said “8 o’clock.” I
said, “Why didn’t you ask him to buy the milk?” “He’s tired.” Okay. We
have a couple of help at home, “why didn’t you ask them to get the
milk?” She said, “I forgot.” She said just get the milk. We need it for
the morning. So like a dutiful daughter, I went out and got the milk and
came back.

I banged it on the counter and I said, “I had great
news for you. I’ve just been told that I’m going to be president on the
Board of Directors. And all that you want me to do is go out and get
the milk, what kind of a mom are you?” 

And she said to me, “let
me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You
might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house,
you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re
the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So
leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the
house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.”

What’s your opinion about whether women can have it all?

I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend
we have it all. We pretend we can have it all. My husband and I have
been married for 34 years. And we have two daughters. And every day you
have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a
mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those
And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We
co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we
can be decent parents. But if you ask our daughters, I’m not sure they
will say that I’ve been a good mom. I’m not sure. And I try all kinds of
coping mechanisms.

I’ll tell you a story that happened when my
daughter went to Catholic school. Every Wednesday morning they had
class coffee with the mothers. Class coffee for a working woman — how is
it going to work? How am I going to take off 9 o’clock on Wednesday
mornings? So I missed most class coffees. My daughter would come home
and she would list off all the mothers that were there and say, “You
were not there, mom.”

The first few times I would die with
guilt. But I developed coping mechanisms. I called the school and I
said, “give me a list of mothers that are not there.” So when she came
home in the evening she said, “You were not there, you were not there.”

And I said, “ah ha, Mrs. Redd wasn’t there, Mrs. So and So wasn’t there. So I’m not the only bad mother.”

You know, you have to cope, because you die with guilt. You just die
with guilt. My observation, David, is that the biological clock and the
career clock are in total conflict with each other. Total, complete
conflict. When you have to have kids you have to build your career. Just
as you’re rising to middle management your kids need you because
they’re teenagers, they need you for the teenage years.

that’s the time your husband becomes a teenager too, so he needs you
(laughing). They need you too. What do you do? And as you grow even
more, your parents need you because they’re aging. So we’re screwed. We
have no … we cannot have it all. Do you know what? Coping mechanisms.
Train people at work. Train your family to be your extended family.

You know what? When I’m in PepsiCo
I travel a lot, and when my kids were tiny, especially my second one,
we had strict rules on playing Nintendo. She’d call the office, and she
didn’t care if I was in China, Japan, India, wherever. She’d call the
office, the receptionist would pick up the phone, “Can I speak to my
mommy?” Everybody knows if somebody says, ‘Can I speak to mommy?’ It’s
my daughter. So she’d say, “Yes, Tyra, what can I do for you?”

“I want to play Nintendo.”

So she has a set of questions. “Have you finished your homework?” Etc. I
say this because that’s what it takes. She goes through the questions
and she says, “Okay, you can play Nintendo half an hour.” Then she
leaves me a message. “Tyra called at 5. This is the sequence of
questions I went through. I’ve given her permission.” So it’s seamless

But if you don’t do that, I’m serious, if you don’t
develop mechanisms with your secretaries, with the extended office, with
everybody around you, it cannot work. You know, stay at home mothering
was a full time job. Being a CEO for a company is three full time jobs
rolled into one. How can you do justice to all?

You can’t. The
person who hurts the most through this whole thing is your spouse.
There’s no question about it. You know, Raj always said, you know what,
your list is PepsiCo, PepsiCo, PepsiCo, our two kids, your mom, and then
at the bottom of the list is me. There are two ways to look at it.
(laughing) You should be happy you’re on the list. So don’t complain.
(laughing) He is on the list. He is very much on the list. But you know,
(laughing) sorry, David.





China….big inspiration for Big M?

This is actually the million dollar question (comment by Shah Alam). As an imagery of a dystopian future this may well catch on with the academic left – naga sadhus hand (force) feeding muslims during Ramzan. So, will He, or wont He? 

The easy (and lazy) answer is that India is not China (and hindu-muslim power equation is nothing like the han-muslim equation). However it may be worthwhile to explore this question in some detail.

(1) First and fore-most: What did the electorate have in mind when it handed a super-vote to the BJP? Was it for war on poverty or war on religion?

(2) How does the BJP behave when in power? We can learn from the precedence of the NDA government and there are multiple state govt ruled by the BJP (including post-2002 Gujarat).

(3) Finally, did Hindutva-vadis learn any lessons from Gujarat 2002? What are their priorities??

It is hard to decipher how the Brahmins of Nagpur are thinking (they do not go much for public discussions). But if they are really the long-war thinking types (and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is an unusually astute politician) then the first order of business is to arrange for a realignment of Indian politics. And that can happen only by finishing off the Congress for good.

The way things are right now, this should not be hard to achieve. All dynasties disappear beyond a point- that has been the perennial Indian story. But indications are that with Rahul being decisively rejected by the masses, Sonia is planning for a comeback. She is also extremely astute. A single mis-step and she will destroy the saffrons for another decade.

So the most probable answers are: (1) the electorate will be very impatient with poor economic performance and already many external factors are darkening the horizon (rise in oil price due to civil war in Iraq), 
(2) BJP while in power has generally had a more moderate record than the so-called secular parties, plus Modi has made a show of co-operation- inviting all SAARC nations to his inauguration, there are also plans for a SAARC satellite, 
(3) Hindutva-vadis will likely be impatient for the ram temple but they may be willing to give the BJP a long rope, in the long run their turn will come (they think).

This is not saying that there will be no discrimination. Muslims are likely to be neglected at the expense of other backward castes (shudras). The building of a permanent OBC vote-bank will be key for transforming BJP into the natural ruling party of India.

Game-changer: If there is a repeat Mumbai like attack, then India and Pakistan will go to war. That will be a nightmare because most of us in India will not survive to tell any tales. 



Amaravati: ancient spiritual capital, renewed

The partitioned state of Andhra Pradesh is looking for a new capital (Hyderabad is capital of Telengana). Amaravati situated on the banks of the Krishna river (see map below) and located near the commercial nodes of Guntur and Vijayawada is the old spiritual capital of the Andhra dynasty.

When the Maurya dynasty fell (post Emperor Ashoka) a giant kingdom rose south of the Vindhya mountain range (the traditional south-north divide in India). They were the Andhra Satavahanas. 
The Andhras are a curious mix: most likely Maratha-Telugu in origin (Shudras or Other Backward Caste- OBC), Aryan-like for war-faring and Dravidian-like in devotion (followers of Shiva). In that sense they can claim to be the first son-of-the-soil, north meets south, Hindu as we know now, empire. 

During Ashoka’s time (and even during the Satvahana period) Amaravati
was reputed as one of the fore-most Buddhist centers (stupa pix above,
see below for wiki excerpts),
however when Hieun Tsang paid a visit in
640 CE, Hindus were again in the ascendant.

Just like the Shia vs. Sunni 1000 years war, India has
experienced long, brutal battles between the followers of Shiva and Vishnu.
This is a major point of contention between hindutva-vadis and marxist
historians, examples of Turk-Mughal led genocides are countered by examples of Shaivaite vs. Vaishnavaite genocides (similar to the Gujarat 2002 vs. Punjab 1984 we are holier than thou arguments). Amaravati is the seat of Amareswara (Shiva) and Chamundeshwari (Shakti).

Intra-Hindu religious wars died out mainly due to the imposition of 1000 Years slavery (TM). There are now the five major
paths – as authorized by the Prophet Adi Shankaracharya (from Kerala) – 
Ganapati, Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti and Surya. Incidentally, the Brahminical pecking
order reserves the elite positions for the Namboodiris (also from Kerala).

Thus only Namboodiri priests can ring the bell in Kedarnath, the al-Aqsa
of the Hindus.

We note that in 2014 the Hindu leadership have anointed Varanasi as the new Jerusalem- this is also the seat of Vishwanath (Shiva) and Annapurna (Shakti). In that sense the new Hindu kingdom is a renewal of the old Andhra kingdom. The more things change the more they remain the same.
new capital city of Andhra Pradesh will be built around the ancient town
of Amaravati, once home to the powerful Satavahana dynasty, a senior
minister and highly-placed government sources said.

With chief
minister N Chandrababu Naidu keen on developing a new city on both
sides of the Krishna river, officials zoomed in on Amaravati after
realising that price of land in Mangalagiri, Babu’s earlier choice, was
too high. Plans are afoot to link a few mandals in Krishna and
Guntur districts, spread on either side of the river, with a six to
eight lane bridge between Achampet mandal in Guntur and Nandigama in
Krishna district. Another bridge will also be built between
Kanchikacherla in Krishna district and Amravati in Guntur district,
officials who are working on the blueprint said.

[ref. Wiki] The Śātavāhana Empire ….was a royal Indian dynasty. The territory of the empire covered much of India
from 230 BCE …until around 220 CE.
Sātavāhanas started out as feudatories to the Mauryan dynasty, but declared independence with its decline. They are known for their patronage of Hinduism.
The Sātavāhanas were one of the first Indian states to issue coins
struck with their rulers embossed. They formed a cultural bridge and
played a vital role in trade as well as the transfer of ideas and
culture to and from the Indo-Gangetic Plain to the southern tip of India.

They had to compete with the Sungas and then the Kanvas of Magadha to establish their rule. Later, they played a crucial role to protect a huge part of India against foreign invaders like the Sakas, Yavanas and Pahlavas. In particular their struggles with the Western Kshatrapas went on for a long time. The great rulers of the Satavahana Dynasty Gautamiputra Satakarni and Sri Yajna Sātakarni were able to defeat the foreign invaders like the Western Kshatrapas and stop their expansion. In the 3rd century CE the empire was split into smaller states.
[ref. Wiki] The recorded history of Amaravati and nearby Dharanikota dates from 2nd century BCE. It was the capital of Andhra Satavahanas who ruled from 2nd century BCE to 3rd century CE. 

After the decline of Satavahanas, Andhra Ikshvakus and later Pallava kings ruled Krishna river valley. Subsequently, Eastern Chalukyas and Telugu Cholas held sway over the region. Kota Kings were in control of Amaravati during the medieval times. Kota kings were subdued by Kakatiyas in 11th century CE and Amaravati became part of the unified Telugu empire.
[ref. Wiki] The town was the site of a great Buddhist stupa originally built during the reign of emperor Ashoka. It was completed in 200 CE. It is decorated with carved panels which tell the story of Buddha’s life. The region between Krishna and Godavari rivers was an important place for Buddhism from the 2nd century BCE and some ancient sculpture in low relief has been found here. 
During the Satavahana period (2nd century BCE-3rd century CE), Dharanikota
near Amaravati was chosen as the capital. The stupa was then adorned
with limestone reliefs and free standing Buddha figures. During the
period of the decline of Buddhism, this stupa was also neglected and it was buried under rubble. There is a 14th-century inscription in Sri Lanka which mentions repairs made to the stupa and after that it was forgotten.

Around the year 1796 CE, Colonel Colin Mackenzie, who visited the
site twice, prepared drawings and sketches of the relics in the area.
Eventually, several European scholars including Sir Walter Smith, Robert
Sewell, James Burgess and Alexander Rea excavated the site and
unearthed many sculptures that once adorned the stupa. Many bas-relief medallions and paneled friezes decorated the Amaravati stupa. 

Similar to Sanchi Stupa,
the stupa was decorated with carvings of life and teachings of Buddha
and events of Jataka Stories, e.g. taming of a rogue elephant by Buddha.
The 95 ft tall stupa was made of brick with a circular dome and
platforms protruding in four cardinal directions. Recent excavations
have revealed remains of an Ashokan pillar, the first such example of Mauryan art to be found in South India.

This stupa is related to the Vajrayana teachings of Kalachakra, still practiced today in Tibetan Buddhism. According to the Kalachakra tantra texts, Suchandra, the King of Shambhala and many of his retinue received the initiation into this practice by the historical Buddha. For this reason, the Dalai Lama of Tibet conducted a Kalachakra initiation at this location in 2006.

Art historians regard the Amaravati art as one of the three major
styles or schools of ancient Indian art, the other two being the Gandhara style and the Mathura
style. Some of the Buddhist sculptures of Amaravati betray a
Greco-Roman influence that was the direct result of the close trade and
diplomatic contacts between South India and the ancient Romans. Indeed, Amaravati has itself yielded a few Roman coins. The Government Museum at Egmore (Madras Museum) and British Museum, London host the “Amaravati Gallery”.


Chinese traveller and Buddhist monk Hiuen Tsang (Xuanzang)
visited Amaravati in 640 CE, stayed for sometime and studied
‘Abhidhammapitakam’. He observed that there were many Viharas and some
of them were deserted, which points out that Hinduism was gaining ground at that time. Xuanzang wrote a glorious account of the place, Viharas and monasteries that existed.






Ramazan around the world

…authorities encouraged Uighurs to eat free meals
on Monday, and inspected homes to check if the fast was being observed…..“China
taking these kinds of coercive measures, restricting the faith of
Uighurs, will create more conflict”…

Brazil: There are rumors that fasting caused the Algerians to become exhausted and lose out to Germany via two late goals. The Algerian team denies this is the case.

France/Europe: You watch your neighbors celebrate the burqa ban win in court and you wonder: what comes next? (our advise- emigrate to UK or USA).

Saudi Arabia: The boot is on the other foot. Any non-muslim observed having food during fasting hours will be immediately punished.Harshly.

China: If any muslim is observed fasting, s/he will be immediately punished. Harshly.

The DAWN commentators are a confused lot. The true believers are (justifiably) upset. But a fair few people have been shouting- their country, their rules. So are Pakistanis OK with discrimination against muslims in the non-muslim world? The burqa ban is appropriate?? More to the point are these China-fans OK with discrimination against non-muslims in the muslim world (this includes Pakistan)???

We repeat: If you think islamists are scary, China/Chinese are scary beyond imagination. The Chicoms would like each of us (all of us) to behave like a central-command programmed robot. By the time they have finished there will be no human beings left on the planet.
China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in its
mainly Muslim Xinjiang region from taking part in Ramazan fasting,
government websites said, prompting condemnation from an exile group on

China’s ruling Communist party is officially
atheist, and for years has restricted fasting in Xinjiang, home to the
mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

Xinjiang sees regular and often
deadly clashes between Uighurs and state security forces, and Beijing
has blamed recent deadly attacks elsewhere in China on militants seeking
independence for the resource-rich region.

Rights groups blame
tensions on religious and cultural restrictions placed on Uighurs and
other Muslim minorities in the vast area, which abuts Central Asia.

government departments posted notices on their websites in recent days
banning fasting during Ramazan, which began this weekend. During the
holy month, the faithful fast from dawn to dusk and strive to be more

The commercial affairs bureau of Turfan city said on its
website Monday that “civil servants and students cannot take part in
fasting and other religious activities”.

The state-run Bozhou
Radio and TV university said on its website that it would “enforce the
ban on party members, teachers, and young people from taking part in
Ramazan activities”. “We remind everyone that they are not permitted to observe a Ramazan fast,“ it added.

weather bureau in Qaraqash county in western Xinjiang said on its
website that “in accordance with instructions from higher authorities”,
it “calls on all current and retired staff not to fast during Ramazan”.

state office which manages the Tarim River basin posted pictures of its
staff wearing traditional Uighur “doppa” caps tucking into a group meal
on Saturday.

“Although the meal coincided with the Muslim
festival of Ramazan, the cadres who took part expressed a positive
attitude and will lead the non-fasting,” it said.

China has in the past said that restrictions on fasting are meant to ensure the health of government employees.

Raxit, a spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, cited local
sources as saying that authorities encouraged Uighurs to eat free meals
on Monday, and inspected homes to check if the fast was being observed.

“China taking these kinds of coercive measures, restricting the faith of Uighurs, will create more conflict,” he said. “We call on China to ensure religious freedom for Uighurs and stop political repression of Ramadan.”





Q Poll- Obama worst prez (Reagan best)

Response to Shah Alam:  Yes, we agree, but remember, this was a man who got a Nobel prize for having done nothing. He must be held to a higher standard.

Unfortunately for left-liberals, this is a well respected Quinnipac
University Poll, not some Koch brothers dirty money funded push poll.

To add insult to injury, both the plutocrat Mitt Romney, who
memorably farted at the general direction of millions of americans (
47%) AND the infamous GW Bushitler
came out ahead.

Still we have to go with the first thought in our mind: Racist!!!!!
Second thoughts: Obama was actually doing fine till he botched the site launching. If only he had outsourced the job to Tata Consulting Services (TCS) everything would have been fine and Obama would have displaced Ronnie at the top of the list.
Obama is the worst US President since World War II, 33 per cent of
Americans have said in a new poll released on Wednesday which gave
negative grades for him for his handling of key issues like the economy,
foreign policy, terrorism, heatlhcare and environment.

would be better off if Republican Mitt Romney had won the 2012
presidential election, 45 per cent of voters say, while 38 per cent say
the country would be worse off, according to the Quinnipiac University
National Poll.

American voters say 54 – 44 per cent that the Obama Administration is not competent running the government.

The president is paying attention to what his administration is doing,
47 per cent say, while 48 per cent say he does not pay enough attention,
according to the poll.

52-year-old Obama, now in his second
term, is the worst president since World War II, 33 per cent of American
voters say while another 28 per cent pick his predecessor in the White
House, President George W Bush.

Reagan is the best president since WW II, 35 per cent of voters say,
with 18 per cent for Bill Clinton, 15 per cent for John F Kennedy and 8
per cent for Obama, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds.

Among Democrats, 34 per cent say Clinton is the best president, with 18 per cent each for Obama and Kennedy.

Obama has been a better president than George W Bush, 39 per cent of
voters say, while 40 per cent say he is worse. Men say 43 – 36 per cent
that Obama is worse than Bush while women say 42 – 38 per cent he is

Obama is
worse, Republicans say 79 – 7 per cent and independent voters say 41 –
31 per cent. Democrats say 78 – 4 per cent that he is better.

Voters say by a narrow 37 – 34 per cent that Obama is better for the economy than Bush.

Missing Mitt are Republicans 84 – 5 per cent and independent voters 47 –
33 per cent, while Democrats say 74 – 10 per cent that the US would be
worse off with Romney.

“Over the span of 69 years of American
history and 12 presidencies, President Barack Obama finds himself with
President George W Bush at the bottom of the popularity barrel,” said
Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“Would Mitt have been a better fit? More voters in hindsight say yes,” the Quinnipiac press release says.

A series of political controversies, economic woes and foreign policy crises have hit Obama’s reputation.





Facebook issues an OK-OK apology

The researchers wanted to see if the number of positive, or negative,
words in messages they read affected users.
…Indeed, after the exposure the manipulated users began to use negative
or positive words in their updates

Down with Facebook we say!!! Hang social media, how dare they manipulate us emotionally? Well….did you know that they issued a heart-felt apology? From the COO even. Guess what folks, everything is fine and dandy now. 

….wait a minute…did they promise to never ever pull that stunt again? No they did not? Just blamed everything on poor communication?? And these are experts in social media???? Hang social media, we say. Down with Facebook.
Apologising for bad communication on Facebook’s news feed experiment,
visiting Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg today said it was like
any other test aimed at improving service quality for over 1.2 billion

Facebook conducted a study in January 2012 to see how the placement of
positive or negative words in the news feeds of users affected their
status updates.

The results of the study, conducted on 700,000 users, were published in
an article in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of

This stirred a global debate on privacy and protection of user data.

“This was an experiment done for one week, this was communicated
terribly and for that communication, we have apologised. This is part
of the ongoing research that companies do to test different products,”
Sandberg told reporters here.

She added that Facebook, which is the world’s largest social network
with over 1.2 billion users, takes privacy and security very seriously.
In India, Facebook has over 100 million users.

Previously, Facebook data scientist Adam Kramer, in a post, had also
said the goal of Facebook’s research is to learn how to provide a better

A UK regulator has begun an inquiry into the experiment to determine if
the company broke data protection laws applicable in that country.

“We work very closely with the regulators all over the world. We are
fully compliant (with regulations). (respect for data privacy) is the
hallmark of our service, it is the underpinning of our service,”
Sandberg said.


A study detailing how Facebook secretly manipulated the news feed of
some 700,000 users to study “emotional contagion” has prompted anger on
social media.
For one week in 2012 Facebook tampered with the algorithm used to place
posts into user news feeds to study how this affected their mood.

The study,
conducted by researchers affiliated with Facebook, Cornell University,
and the University of California at San Francisco, appeared in the June
17 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers wanted to see if the number of positive, or negative,
words in messages they read affected whether users then posted positive
or negative content in their status updates.

Indeed, after the exposure the manipulated users began to use negative
or positive words in their updates depending on what they were exposed

Results of the study spread when the online magazine Slate and The Atlantic website wrote about it yesterday.

“Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion,
leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness,”
the study authors wrote.

“These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook
influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for
massive-scale contagion via social networks.”

While other studies have used metadata to study trends, this appears to
be unique because it manipulates data to see if there is a reaction.

The study was legal according to Facebook’s rules but was it ethical?

“#Facebook manipulated user feeds for massive psych experiment… Yeah, time to close FB acct!” read one Twitter posting.

Other tweets used words like “super disturbing,” “creepy” and “evil,” as well as angry expletives, to describe the experiment.

Susan Fiske, a Princeton University professor who edited the report for publication, told The Atlantic that she was concerned about the research and contacted the authors.





Punjab 1984

….the story of a mother whose son was picked-up by the police at the
behest of a relative with whom the family had a land dispute……the story of a son who…is
determined to return to his home openly, in broad day light and with

India is the best country in the world. Where else you will get this million strands of thought which will drown out all your preconceived notions about everything? Imagine a pastel color box with 300 color shades, India has all of that from extreme right to extreme left (speaking of politics only).

India is the worst country in the world. Where else do you have the most beautiful words set side by side the most ugly actions against men and humanity? Thousands of people are massacred and we move on, it is always another community, another time, another place. Perhaps because most of us are so poor and leading lives filled with so much indignities that we can barely reflect on what it means to be a part of a civilization that has been enriched by people from almost all corners of the earth.  
There is no accountability and no justice. The victims of 1984 (and their families) deserve nothing less from their brothers and sisters.

Punjab 1984 is less of a commentary on the
crimes of 1984 and beyond and more of a love story (interview clip of
director Anurag Singh below). One of the best movies of 2014, excellent
direction, acting and music. However the storyline is controversial.
Khalistanis claim that the movie portrays the freedom movement in a negative light.

Certainly there is no open pro-Khalistan sentiment else the movie would not have been released in India (for example, Sadda Haq which was also released recently). That said it is true that every movement becomes infected with corrupt, opportunistic people over time.

There is also no question that huge numbers of Hindus were killed (though this does not justify a single Sikh killing). Incidentally, Amarinder Singh, a Sikh and Congress MP from Amritsar has claimed that a total of 35000 hindus were killed (see link below).

Simran Kaur is a Sikh AND a leftist (one more color shade) – she has previously published in Kafila!!! Her review of P-1984 seems to be quite sensible though. Now the review itself is a matter of controversy as the freedom fighters are upset!!!

The review below has a few spoilers so please proceed with caution.
I had the opportunity to see the film Punjab 1984.  I almost
decided not to go based on the reviews I saw online which claimed the
film defamed the Khalistan movement and made Sikh fighters look like
I’m glad I went anyways. I found the film to be thoughtful and able to present a nuanced picture of what took place. 

I feel that those who found the film to be offensive perhaps haven’t
lived through those days or aren’t familiar with what happened and how. 
It could be a case of looking at the Movement with rose-colored glasses
or trying to understand it as a simple binary of Good Guys-Khalistanis,
Bad Guys-Punjab Police & Indian Government.

Things were never so simple. 

Punjab 1984 isn’t a propaganda film for the
Khalistan Movement, nor should we have expected it to have been.  That
having been said, I believe the film is positive towards the Movement
and Daljit’s character, Shivjit Singh (Shiv) is a strong protagonist. 

Like the main character in the film, many of the young men who joined
the Movement were initially not particularly ideological or often even
all that religious.  They were pushed into taking up arms by
circumstances and the fact that there were few alternatives available to

The story in Punjab 1984 is one that happened all across
Punjab. Family disputes, land disputes and other business disputes
became thrown into and interwoven with the ongoing insurgency. Some
people joined a Jathebandi to ensure their security or because a rival
had joined another Jathebandi.  In many disputes about money or land,
one side paid the police to frame their rivals in order to get rid of

Shiv is one such young man.  A neighbor takes advantage of the
situation in Punjab to use the Punjab Police to intervene in a land
dispute.  Shivjit Singh is tortured and sent to be eliminated in a fake
encounter by the corrupt police officer. 

After escaping police custody Shiv joins a Kharku group whose leader
(Sukhdev Singh) is fiery and speaks passionately about Khalistan but in
his personal life he clearly is not a Gursikh.  The leader, Sukhdev,
engages in some actions which are clearly not justifiable according to
Sikhi. In a scene depicting a meeting of Kharku leaders, there are
serious disagreements and internal bickering.

That too is not an unusual story. Many prominent leaders of the
Khalistan Movement such as Dr. Sohan Singh or Wassan Singh Zaffarwal
have now been accused of being government moles who derailed the
movement.  It is a also an unavoidable reality that the Khalistan
Movement was internally very divided and many leaders did not get
along.  The repeated formation and division of the Panthik Committees
and the formation of countless splinter groups is a illustrative of

The plight of Shiv who does not agree with the way in which his
leadership is taking the movement is also not unusual. In my discussions
with families of young Sikhs who joined the Khalistan Movement for
ideological reasons, I have been told more than once that the young
Singh’s felt disappointed that not everything they saw was what they had
expected or in accordance with the principles of Sikhi. 

While many of us automatically assume that anything that went wrong
in the Khalistan Movement was a result of government infiltration, the
reality is not as simple.  While government agencies heavily infiltrated
the Khalistan Movement, there were many individuals who got involved
for self-interest. There was a criminal element who took on the mantle
of Khalistan to continue their pursuits. And there were those who may
have got involved with good intentions but were corrupted along the way. 

Not every Kharku was a Gursikh or behaved in a way that was consistent
with the principles of Sikhi. This element of the Movement cannot be
dismissed simply as a fringe, but played a major part and was also
instrumental in its failure. Punjab 1984 shows some of that reality. 

Some commentators have expressed outrage that the film showed Hindus
being killed by “kharkus”. In fairness, the killings in the film are
carried out by goons who are clearly not ideologically motivated
fighters. Such incidents are also unfortunately a reality of what
happened in Punjab. 

I have read some commentary which claims no innocent Hindus were ever
killed by the Movement. I think that sentiment is actually a positive
reflection, if not a misguided one, as it shows that Sikhs continue to
abhor the killing of innocents.

In reality, the killing of Hindus and non-Punjabi laborers was not a
one-off occurrence. Those involved in these killings were sometimes
blinded by hatred and the argument that “Hindus” had killed Sikhs in
Delhi and other cities in November 1984. There was also a strain of
thought among some that driving Hindus out of Punjab would speed the
formation of Khalistan.
This angle has been covered by several books,
including the novel Kundliay Sup by Amardeep Singh Amar, a very well known and respected Khalistani writer.

There have also been objections to the scene in which Shivjit Singh’s
group’s boss is seen drinking with a politician. That scene is in fact
quite powerful and reflects an important reality.
The politician is
connected to both the police and the kharkus and says that those who are
too ideologically committed to Khalistan make the best fighters but the
worst politicians.  He says that even if Khalistan were to become a
reality, it would be people like him who would make the government. The
fact is that such politicians existed in the Sikh community in 1984 and
continue to exist today who manipulate the community and Panthik
sentiments for their own benefit. 

The fact that these corrupt elements were drinking is hardly a shock. 

Finally, some commentators have lamented that only the negative
aspect of the Khalistan Movement has been shown and none of the
spiritual Gursikhs who were involved were given any prominence. I would
agree that the movie would have benefited from a character who was
ideologically motivated to join the Khalistan Movement and was a
spiritual Gursikh.  That having been said, the absence of such a
character is not a fatal flaw.  This film cannot be expected to show
every angle of the Movement in 2.5 hours. 

Overall, the character of Shivjit Singh is a powerful one. It shows
how young Sikhs were pushed into a fight that they had not wanted. It
shows the confusion they felt, the obstacles they faced and the truly
complicated world of the Khalistan Movement. 

Rather than criticize this effort or trying to boycott it, it would
be better for the community to take this film as an opportunity to
reflect on the Movement and learn more. We should not be incensed when
we are presented with the weaknesses of the Khalistan Movement. Not
every personality involved in the Khalistan Movement or every incident
that took place is one we need to defend. If we are to move forward as a
community, we need to confront what went wrong and ensure we don’t
repeat those mistakes. 

Punjab 1984 is a thoughtful film. It requires reflection and
nuanced analysis to fully appreciate. There is even some subtle
symbolism and gentle nudges by the director if you are looking for them.

If you are looking for a pro-Khalistan  propaganda film that presents only one side of the story, you may be disappointed. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Sadda Haq but I enjoyed this film as well. Go to
see Punjab 1984 with an open mind. It certainly cannot reflect the
entire reality of the Khalistan Movement but it does an admirable job of
showing some important features of it. Features that we may not feel
comfortable confronting but will have to in order to progress.