Nawaz Sharif is coming to Delhi

Maryam Nawaz Sharif ‏@MaryamNSharif I personally think cordial relations with new Indian
govt should be cultivated. Will help remove psychological barriers, fear &

If anyone can make miracles happen it will be MNS for sure
She has the face of a movie star, political savvy of Benazir Bhutto and
a rising role model for the nation’s youth as “abba,” Prime Minister
Nawas Sharif, reposes growing trust in her abilities.
Meet Maryam Nawaz Sharif, 40, the new political star on Pakistan’s
political firmament — twitter-savvy, yet traditional, and certainly
among the most arresting faces in South Asian dynastic politics.

Last month, the Cambride-doctoral-aspirant daughter of Pakistan prime
minister Sharif — notice how Maryam retains her maiden name — was
named chairperson of the PM Youth Programme, an outreach of the
six-month-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) regime.

Within 15 days of her investiture, Ms. Sharif has been tasked to
spearhead the most ambitious Youth Loan Scheme in Pakistan’s history.
She’ll work pro bono and ensure bankers and civil servants,
one-and-a-half times her age, dispense loans worth Pakistani Rs.100
billion (Nearly $9.5 billion) in the next seven months to some 100,000
Pakistani entrepreneurs, 50 percent being women.

Ms. Sharif’s presence has ensured that the prime minister himself sat
with the team for over 60 hours and promised zero-tolerance to political
jockeying, those associated with the programme told this IANS columnist
during a visit here. Fifty-five model business plans have now been
posted to guide the applicants.

Hereafter, monthly ballots will decide who gets the first tranche of
loans. Those left out – but whose proposals matched the criteria
otherwise – will flow into the next month’s ballot. The loans entail a
service charge of eight percent. Banks will subsidize the remaining
seven percent.

A record 2.1 million application forms have been downloaded over just six days.

Such numbers are both a challenge and an opportunity for the elegant
Lahore-born known to relax to the music of Rahat Fateh Ali. If she can
pull off the loans without her bankers courting a scandal, schemes on
micro businesses, skill development, fee reimbursement, and laptop
computers will be the other components of the Youth Programme. “We’re happy, so long as the money comes back,” the chairman of a top Pakistani Bank told this IANS columnist informally.

An alumna of the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Lahore, Ms. Sharif is now
a direct counterweight for the youth constituency coveted by cricketer
and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan.

Khan leads, say on twitter, with over 800,000 follows, but Ms. Sharif
is not doing too badly at 200,000 already. It’s a medium she used
extensively to connect with new-age Pakistan during the election
campaign that culminated in May last. Evidence? Ms. Sharif has 26,000
tweets under her belt, nearly 15 times more than the more-reticent Khan.

For the record, Fatima Bhutto, of the Bhutto family, is marginally
ahead at 238,000, though Bilawal, the official political heir of slain
prime minister Benazir Bhutto, languishes at 98,000.

The Sharif clan isn’t without internecine claims, though. While Nawaz
Sharif’s two sons, Hussain and Hassan, haven’t shown a direct interest
in politics so far, his brother Shahbaz, who is the ruling party’s No.2
and chief minister of Punjab, has a talented son, Hamza, 39, who is
already a member of the National Assembly.

Beyond a famous maiden surname, Ms. Sharif’s rapid climb is due to tact
and communication. A query on whether the clause of a “guarantor” for
the grant of money can be replaced by “property papers” evoked an
immediate response triggering dozens of “likes” and reteets.

So do hundreds of questions even on specific project ideas. Result? The
Pakistani visual media, not just state-owned PTV, finds Ms. Sharif’s
public engagements a manna for their ratings.

Her tact was in evidence when Mr. Sharif threw out her husband, one Capt. Mohd. Safdar, from PML-N last year. “I’m glad that my father preferred justice and equity over familial
relations. This is an unexampled step, which negated the notion that
PMLN is a family party or patronises favouritism. No one is above law.
Justice & fairness must prevail. PMLN stands for rule of law,” Ms.
Sharif said.

But not before tweeting a soothing message on her husband. “I am also
glad that Safdar has taken it positively and vows to abide by party
rules and regulations. Thankfully, we as a family keep politics and
family matters separate,” she posted.

“Maryam is sincere, controversy-free and a role model,” says Majyd Aziz
Balagamwala, a Pakistani industry senior in Sindh, who steered the
Benzir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Programme that trained 200,000
marginalized youth. “She deserves to be groomed for higher responsibilities.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be attending Narendra Modi’s
swearing-in ceremony here on May 26, Pak government sources said on
Saturday. Pakistan PM House spokesperson confirmed that Sharif will be visiting New Delhi following Modi’s invite.

The two leaders will hold a bilateral meeting on May 27, said the
Pakistan prime minister’s office. Pakistan foreign minister Sartaz Aziz
would accompany Sharif during the visit.

The Pakistani premier’s attendance will be a first in the history of the nuclear-armed neighbour countries.

Sharif’s decision comes after days of speculations following New
Delhi’s invite. ​ However, Tariq Azeem, advisor the Pak PM told Times
Now: “Don’t expect discussions on any big issues.”

Friday’s pre-dawn attack on the Indian consulate by Taliban in Herat in
western Afghanistan, just three days before Narendra Modi’s swearing
in, underscored the extremely tough task for Modi as he opens up a new
channel of communication with the Nawaz Sharif government in Pakistan. The attack came just days after Modi invited all Saarc leaders, including Sharif. ​

Sharif had telephoned Modi to congratulate him on his party’s election
victory and invited him to visit Pakistan after assuming office.

Other key Saarc leaders, Sri Lankan President President Mahinda
Rajapaksa, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Bhutan Prime Minister
Tshering Tobgay, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldivian
President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom have confirmed that they will
attend the ceremony.



Yes, we are also sad (and a bit stunned) at the unexpected turn of (political) fortunes but this is how unhinged the (upper-caste) warriors of the left have become.  

Dear Anand, with all due respect, there will be no loss of dignity for the Niyamgiri tribal folks if you play by proper Queen’s English rules (American English is of course evil). It will be a brave man who can even comprehend your prose (this is probably intentional) and a braver one who can put up a defense of any sorts in response. Requesting the good doctor to step forward please.

Really, it all seems like an epic caricature nightmare. If you can string together words like Fukushima, Koodankulam, Ambedkar, Manto, Bhagat Singh, Sanatan Dharma, Surpanakha (Lakshman cut off her nose in Ramayana)…. in random sequence then you too can become a folk hero.

This is the key (we hate to say paragraph) section and the key grievance: you neo-Hindus you fools, you dupes of the manuvadis….
whereas we have you, a
chaiwallah, claiming to be a Modh-Ghanchi from Gujarat, and it appears
there are some uses for your caste that the Knickers of Nagpur have,
just as the Brahmins of yore had for a Yadava, cowherd,and made him
chant ominous verses to justify birth-based inequality as a
prerequisite to the balance of universe,…..,
and today they
need you to have a chat with us over a cup of human blood, and, to
cover this barbarity, your friends have stitched you a garment called
democracy which is actually a janeu fashioned by the Brahmin tailors of

Tea-cup and cup of blood: the word play is done nicely. Modi is truly from the Ghanchi caste, and it was his DAD who was a chai-wallah, Modi used to help his dad by serving customers and washing dishes.

Gopal Krishna Gandhi gave the best possible response to these open expressions of bigotry:

When some spoke rashly and derisively of your having been a “chaiwala,” I felt sick to my stomach. What a wonderful thing it is, I said to myself, that one who has made and served chai for a living should be able to head the government of India. Far better bearing a pyala to many than being a chamcha to one. 

If such a comment was made against a Dalit, it would qualify for a non-bailable warrant under the SC/ST atrocities act. We are sympathetic to demands of free speech but here is the thing: why lower yourself by abusing his background? Is that really your best shot? This is how you will achieve paradise on earth??

And yes, if you dont like the “garment of democracy,” then why not suggest a better “living” alternative: North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Syria, take your pick. 

The charm of a democracy, even a deeply flawed one (such as India), lies in the claim that the people at the bottom have at least a fighting chance. Just the other day we had Nitish Kumar step down as Chief Minister of Bihar. The new CM Jitan Ram Majhi is a mahadalit. People who know these things (this includes you) know that maha-dalits have been abused by all other castes, including higher-caste dalits. While one swallow does not make a summer, it is indeed wonderful that within a few decades of independence, democracy has achieved this memorable milestone in a backward place like Bihar. And we will not stop here, we will continue to fight on behalf of all our fellow citizens.

what you claim as
your history basically begins with the history of caste and the history
of inequality in this part of the world

Are you sure that everything was very equal and fair in the Bhimbetka caves? People were sitting around the fire, drawing pictures, and singing Kumbaya, right?

We know inequality is a high crime and India suffers from this deeply. You can try to purge the concept of caste from your society (an admirable goal in and of itself), it is still likely that inequality will not change.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a good example, right next door. Islam is without question the most progressive religion in the context of caste, every believer (and non-believer) is the same in front of Allah. So how do you explain the inequality that persists in that society? How do you explain Asia Bibi – who is in jail because some muslim ladies took offense because she offered them water it looks like a case of untouchability (the blasphemy was a bonus). If the most radical social engineering (as promised by Islam) cant help cure social divisions then what hope do we have for humanity?

Then you have the Maoists, another progressive band of brothers. The citation below is from Aakar Patel in Outlook (April 30, 2012). Not a single woman and only one tribal occupying the high table of the Maoist Central Committee. Why this inequality- are tribals not well grounded enough to speak for themselves?

The Maoist central committee members are: V. Subramaniam, A. Hargopal,
P.S. Mukherjee, M.R. Reddy, V.K. Arya, N.K. Rao, Kobad Gandhy, S. Singh,
N. Sanyal, P. Mishra, A. Bagchi, P. Bose, K. Sudarshan, A. Yadav,
Ramakrishna, B.P. Singh, M. Venugopal, Misir Besra and M.L. Rao
This is a list of caste Hindus and one Parsi. Of these 19,
only one—Besra—is a tribal.

In the history of earth which is close to five billion years, in which
the lineage of humans spans just five million years, what you claim as
your history basically begins with the history of caste and the history
of inequality in this part of the world,
and this is but a few
thousand years, in effect a speck in the gyre of time, and your version
of the history of this speck is just one speck among many billion
such, a speck that will be blown away by a change in the direction of
the breeze, a speck that is not even aware of the gyre it is part of…..

…..the gyre that has no beginning nor end, a gyre that knows that all its
futures are but a repetition of all its pasts, a repetition of
tragedies and farces, and you are a sad speck that does not know any of
this, a speck unaware of its own inconsequentiality, a speck that
thinks it is the world, a speck that thinks the world of itself, a
speck that has no sense of the larger universe it is part of, for your
history begins with the idea of a temple for a fabled god at a certain
place, a god who waged wars on the autochthonous people of this land,
helped deface a woman, beheaded a man who sought knowledge, a god who
defeated a valiant king by hiding behind a tree, who scorched his
beloved born of the earth in the fire of doubt,
your history begins and ends with the idea of a temple for such a
hollow god, your history that claims to be sanatan, timeless, is bound
by a paltry three, okay four, thousand years; you are an unending
nightmare in the apnoea of time’s sleep, you are a moment when time
holds its breath, and you mistake this to be a moment when time has
ceased to breathe….

…..but by the time time releases its breath, you will be
hurled into the black hole of timelessness, a hole of infinite density
where light itself becomes trapped and all objects become invisible,
for, after all, as Berger suggests, what we come to believe as time is a
field magnetised by eternity, and your speck is a temporality with
defeat written all over it, you are your defeat, please do not think of
yourself as a victor, your victory is your defeat;
you likely think of
this as an event, a historic event, but in the sweep of a few billion
years, what you represent is a moment that will fade even before we
begin to articulate the moment, for what you really seek to write on
the wall of time amounts to a scratch, a desecration, for these are
walls that carry traces of life……

…..led more than a million years ago by
the people of a place we today call Bhimbetka, with scenes in ochre and
white done some thirty thousand years ago by our forebears who began
lining the dots, a time when we ate the animal we prayed to, wore it as
cloth and also painted it; do rewrite all the history textbooks you
want to rewrite, raise the ugliest statue for your Iron Man, but these
will in no way pose a challenge to the place a few pot-shreds from
Mesopotamia and Arikamedu will have in history,
your script of animus
will be so easy to decipher unlike the signs left behind in Harappa,or
the Brahmi of Tamilakam……

……as for what you and your admirers call
development, nothing you have done can match what the people of
Mohenjo-Daro did to deal with their piss and shit, because you believe
that some humans are meant to carry the shit of other humans,
you think
it’s a divine calling; to realise how small you and your history are,
all you need to do is just see yourself in the backdrop of Qomolungma
and the Himalayas,
and these, let me tell you, are the youngest of
mountain ranges in the world, they were here long before your violent
gods, before caste, before the first ever jacarandas bloomed in Kumaon,
these Himalayas have emerged on this earth only as recently as sixty
million years ago…..

….and so much has happened before them and after them,
and they are all so indifferent to you, as are the poppies that bloom
in a range of reds this May in Satholi; it will soon become evident
that you are the beginning of the best imagination people born in this
crevice of time are, or will soon be, capable of; your absolute lack of
imagination will stir the best in us, the best poetry, the finest art,
the boldest theatre, the longest sentences, the most powerful songs, the longest taans to please Mallikarjun Mansur, the most haunting cinema, the finest fiction
that will crush you,
all these will be wrought now…..

…..each of us will
defeat you by being incomprehensible to you, for to be incomprehensible
to you all we need to do is speak the language of love, sing the
history of love, and you will not understand a syllable or a note, and
when we collect every syllable of love and compassion uttered in human
history your hoarse roar of hatred will be drowned out, we will defy
you by singing songs that have no beginning nor end, and by writing
lines that you will never comprehend, and, thus enraged, when you try
to cap these imaginations, try to ban our dreams, try to throw our
bodies into jail, our spirits will soar and make love, break every
taboo and breed in numbers your census-takers won’t be able to keep
pace with…..

….you will cause the spawning of a million Kabirs, a million Mantos, a million Ambedkars, a million Iqbals, Savitribais, Birsas,
Meeras, Bhagat Singhs, Valluvars, Ghalibs, Sido and Kanho Murmus,
and as One less hope/ becomes one more song we
will defeat you with Akhmatova and Pessoa, Iyothee Thass and
Jibanananda Das, Nainsukh and Malcolm X, Jangarh Shyam and Gramsci,
Namdeo Dhasal and Lal Ded, Buddha and Gaddar, Marx and Lal Singh Dil,
ah, yes, Dil, another chaiwallah, a teashop vendor, a Chamar from
Samrala, who held the most mischievous smile between his lips that also
held chain-smoked joints, Dil, who wrote, Chop off every tongue if you can/ But the words would have still been uttered,
a poet who died living the revolution for himself and dreaming of it
for others, a man who knew it was the same sun that warmed the Jat
households that also kissed the Chamar huts……..

…….whereas we have you, a
chaiwallah, claiming to be a Modh-Ghanchi from Gujarat, and it appears
there are some uses for your caste that the Knickers of Nagpur have,
just as the Brahmins of yore had for a Yadava, cowherd,and made him
chant ominous verses to justify birth-based inequality as a
prerequisite to the balance of universe, and justify the recourse to
mass murder over a property dispute between cousins, the charioteer who
plotted the killing of a warrior who was fixing his chariot wheel, a
god who killed a great archer by hurling a rock at him,
and today they
need you to have a chat with us over a cup of human blood, and, to
cover this barbarity, your friends have stitched you a garment called
democracy which is actually a janeu fashioned by the Brahmin tailors of

They say you won a majority with a huge number of votes, they use words like magic with
a total lack of imagination that might well make you believe you can
write poetry, but let me tell you this to your face, you do not have
the vote of any of the rivers that you may well interlink, not even the
Narmada and the Ganga, you do not have the vote of the forests, the
oaks, deodhars and pines of Kumaon, you do not have the vote of the
kurinji flowers that once every twelve summers, for millions of years,

have turned a section of the Western Ghats gregariously blue, giving
the Nilgiri  Hills its name……

… do not have the mandate of the urbanised langurs of
Jodhpur who wear no purple ink on their index fingers but whose
tongues are purplish black after gorging on jamuns, you do not have the
vote of the sparrows that have learned to survive by enclosing
themselves in the Bangalore airport and by feeding off the leftovers in
the restaurant, sparrows that have forgotten what a tree looks like,
you do not have the vote of thousands of tulsi plants the Brahmins grow
in their backyards, terraces and balconies, you do not have the votes
of the cows of India nor of its buffaloes, you do not even have the
vote of the lions of Gir in Gujarat, and the hilsa, that crazy fish
which travels up to eight hundred miles to spawn at the place of its
birth in freshwater did not vote for you….

……you do not have the vote of
the hills of Niyamgiri nor of the corals being ripped apart along the
monstrous reactors in Koodankulam,
you do not have the vote of the
thousands of cockroaches that hide in the wet corners of parliament and
plan to unleash terror, just as the vote of the millions of acorns it
takes to make for the varieties of oaks in the foothills of Himalayas
eludes you; the reserves of coal being hollowed out of Jharia’s earth,
the mines of uranium that have depleted Jaduguda, the radioactive
thorium glistening on the beach-sands of Kerala,
none of them even
knows of your existence…..

… do not have the vote of the un-censused
population of the harsinghars that makes Delhi’s pollution bearable
every winter, you do not have the vote of the dogs or the cats, you do
not have the peacocks behind you nor do you have the snakes, you do not
have the vote of the olive ridley turtles, bloody infiltrators that
sneak into this country through the eastern coast every winter, nor of
the Siberian cranes, harbingers of crossborder militancy, and the
rhinos of Kaziranga surely resent you for attributing their poaching to
some devious communal scheming, and you undoubtedly do not have the
vote of the carnivorous red ants of Bastar, and you do not have the
vote of the most ancient chinar in Chattergam, planted by some Sufi,
nor the vote of the raja mirchis of Kohima, you do not have the vote of
the stars, you do not have the vote of the constellations, you do not
have the vote of the milky way, you do not have the vote of the waning
moon, you do not have the vote of the sun that will rise unfailingly,
and, you do not have my vote.

So please run your minority government for five years, show us your
baddest face, and time which will outlive all time will say it has seen
worse; launch a pincer attack, sink one set of claws into Kashmir and
wage a low-intensity war with the Pakis for four years, and at the same
time, sink another set of claws into Dandakaranya and flush out the
Adivasis like rats, the corporates who sponsored you will fund these
wars, create crisis after crisis for the Muslims, Dalits, the poor, the

…..criminalise all love, fight internal and external enemies,
and in the fifth year launch a few full-scale wars, take us to the edge
of a nuclear disaster and starvation, watch the southern tip of the
subcontinent melt as a tsunami or a quake does to Koodankulam what it
did to Fukushima, then ride back to power sheerly on the strength of
the number of people you have caused to disappear,
and stretch yourself
for another three years, then maybe press the emergency button, by
when, like any speck of dirt you will be sucked into the widening gyre
that keeps turning and turning.




Mother Ganga can gift you votes (and water)

She has made you the tallest man in the land, and she needs to be nutured (back to good health) now so that the votes (and the water) keep flowing. India will resemble Pakistan even more as she switches from rail to roads (why?). There will be a hard push to get more BJP seats in the un-Indias- Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Bengal, and….Axom(???). Bengal and Odisha may be the most promising of  the lot, Kerala/TN will have to be long-term projects (20 years).

We are no experts but some of this seems dreamy-eyed and wrong-footed. If we were leading the charge, the immediate goal would have been to make sure that the dynasty does not recover. Right now the popular pressure is towards dumping Rahul and anointing Priyanka. Hit the soft spot hard- the crooked damad who said the famous words – I am a mango man in a banana republic. This man, who was the sole person permitted (by name) to go through airline security without screening (yes we know, petty stuff). Make an airtight case against him (put Ashok Khemka in charge) throw him into Tihar and throw away the keys.
So CEO Modi has laid down five flagship projects as top priority.
These would include economic, social and political projects. ….It is
with this in mind that a complete revamp in the sectors of road,
railways, freight transport and ports is being plan­ned. Immediate
action would be seen on the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Calcutta corridors.
Modi’s emphasis, sources say, will be to shift freight transport from
railways to road and to reduce oil import.

Modi’s team confirms that attention will be paid to the revamp of
ports, in fact a complete facelift is being planned.
Team Modi is
looking at possibilities of opening newer ports and competence delivery
will be top focus. Modi, sources say, is also keen on turning around the
coal, steel and power sectors
with focus “first on solving the current
mess in the coal sector and then working towards providing quality power
generation”. Special attention will be paid to the Northeast. 

On the social projects front, the Ganga will remain Modi’s pet
project once he takes charge of the government as prime minister. 

Sources concede that the Ganga project has political significance for Modi which is why Team Modi has been told to have a special plan in
place revolving around the river. A team member says, “Electoral
dividends for Modi came from the Ganga belt of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Both the BJP and Modi know that if we want to keep that goodwill coming
our way from that region intact, then something concrete needs to be
done for that region.”

No doubt, politically, the Gangetic belt is an important region for the
BJP and particularly Modi, considering many party MPs come from that
area. As a result, Modi has asked his team to have a three-pronged
approach towards the Ganga project. In the pipeline is a massive
clean-up programme for the Ganga, followed by a flood control management
scheme. That done, Modi wants to put in place a water tourism economy
plan around the Ganga
that would help generate not just employment but
even transport opportunities through the river. “We will also ensure
that the river generates an economy around itself, which is why water
transport for goods and water tourism on the Ganga will be emphasised
upon,” a source revealed.

Those close to Modi confirm that he would be looking at the next five
years also as a time to consolidate his position politically. On the
agenda therefore is an expansion plan for his party.

Modi would therefore be working hard on increasing the imprint of his
party in states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Orissa, West Bengal and Assam.
A source explains, “In future elections, we don’t want to be dependent
solely on the Hindi heartland for an election victory.
These states then
become very important bases for us and Modi is clear he wants a massive
geographical expansion to ensure that.” 




Dr God

Some twenty years ago we remember watching a really scary movie named “Malice” involving Jed (doctor, Alec Baldwin), Andy (professor, Bill Pulman) and his wife Tracy (arts teacher, Nicole Kidman). There is a dramatic moment in the movie when the (not so) good Doctor declares that as far as medicine is concerned, he is God (this is how liberals like Aaron Sorkin have fun at the expense of conservatives….dont you know how bad all this God/religion thingy is??).
While at the police station delivering a semen sample, Andy learns
his wife has been hospitalized and is being operated on by Jed. In
removing one of Tracy’s ovaries, which has ruptured due to a cyst, Jed discovers Tracy is pregnant, but the stress of the procedure causes the fetus to abort.

Another doctor notices that Tracy’s other ovary is torsed and appears necrotic.
Jed consults with Andy and advises him to agree to the removal of
Tracy’s second ovary, rather than risk her life. Andy painfully agrees,
since this will mean that Tracy can never have children.
Jed overrules
the protests of other doctors that the ovary might still be healthy and
he removes it. The second ovary was in fact healthy. Jed, rather than
bury the report, faces the consequences of his actions.

At a deposition, Jed’s attorney Lester Adams (Josef Sommer)
learns his client had been drinking prior to the surgery. His case is
not helped when Jed responds to an accusation that he has a God complex by declaring that as far as medicine is concerned, he is
His insurance company settles with Tracy for $20 million. She
leaves Andy, not forgiving him for the loss of her ability to ever have

So, that was fantasy and this (below) is reality. We can understand something like this happening in wild India but how can a (serial) murderous doctor survive in the USA? We were under the (false) impression that there exist online guides which advise you if a doctor ever had any malpractice lawsuit brought against him/her. If not, why not?

In any case, just to be on the safe side, while in New York, please avoid any dentist named Dr Patel, or better yet, boycott all brown dentists (he may change his name??). The life that you may end up saving will be your own.

license of an Indian dentist was revoked in the US after he attempted to
extract 20 teeth from the mouth of a 64-year-old woman in one sitting
which led to her death.

The dentist, Dr Rashmi Patel was performing the procedure on Judith Gan on February 17 when she gurgled and lost consciousness.

The procedure included placing implants in the woman’s mouth after removing the teeth, according to the New York Daily News.

The paper quoted Patel’s assistant as saying that he had requested him
to stop the procedure before calling the emergency services. “He wanted to complete the placement of implants as the assistant begged
Patel to stop working, and finally ran out and called 911,
but the
patient had already flat-lined,” the state department of public health
wrote in a report.

“The four count petition found, among an
array of other misdeeds, that Patel deviated from standard of care in
that he did not timely and properly respond to Gan’s oxygen desaturation
and/or respiratory distress and/or cardio-pulmonary distress,” state
records reported.

“Gan did not have to die to receive this
dental treatment and it is because of Patel’s negligence that she died,”
said a dentist who was asked to review the case for the department of

Patel’s license, issued in 2003, was suspended on April
21 pending a June 18 hearing in front of the state dental commission.
Patel runs two clinics in Enfield and Torrington.

“Patel has
been ordered to stay away from his patients after one died and another
spent six days in the hospital,” state health officials said.

The horror of Gan’s botched procedure came after a December incident,
when a 55-year-old man “aspirated the throat pack” and was rushed to the
hospital. The victim stopped breathing and spent six days in the
hospital after suffering heart and lung damage.

Patel was also
sued for malpractice by a former employee in 2009 after he performed
“shoddy” dental work. Doreen Jasonis won nearly $500,000 from a jury in
2011, but the ruling was appealed and eventually ended with an
out-of-court settlement.

The dentist’s attorney says both clinics remain open and that Patel will fight the charges.




Bharat is a different country

69% of Indians live in Bharat (rural areas). So, how is this Bharat doing vis-a-vis India (urban areas)? 

A list of Deprivation indicators culled from the Census 2011 Household amenities & asset Data [Take note of the yawning gap b/w rural & urban households):

Households that use Firewood, Crop Residue, Coal/Charcoal, Cow Dung for cooking: 
67.2% of total households (86.6% of Rural Households[R], 26.3% of Urban Households[U])

No water closet latrine within Premises: 63.6% (80.6% of R, 27.4% of U)

No Tap Water: 56.5% (69.2% of R, 29.4% of U)

No TV: 52.8%  (66.6% of R, 23.3% of U)

No drainage: 48.9% (63.2% of R, 18.2% of U)

Bathroom is just an enclosure without roof or have No Bathroom at all:   58% (74.7% of R, 22.5% U)

No Telephone:  36.8% (66.6% of R, 23.3% of U)

Electricity not main source of lighting: 32.8% (44.7% of R,  7.3%  of U)

House not in Good condition:  46.8% (54% of R, 31.5% of U)

Other General observations (via Census Website):


India: controlled by (kosher) remote?

We have to admit that our political instincts are poor. In 2009 we were sure that BJP would win backed by the anger over 26/11. The opinion polls were sure as well. However the state of the economy and the fact that the Muslim stood as one with the Congress and the ineptitude of the BJP and the then leader Pakistani-Hindu-Sindhi Lal Krishna Advani were the deciding factors. Again, we did not see the tsu-NaMo coming this time, even though we did conclude (post-polls) that BJP/NDA will win big.

What was interesting was to hear from many people who voted for the Congress in 2009, simply because they felt that Pakistan somehow needed to be pacified and the Pakistani-Sikh-Punjabi Manmohan Singh was indeed the best man to do it. They were seriously worried that Advani would act in a rash manner (especially if there was a repeat strike).

For sure, these people have no love lost for Pakistan. Rather (in our opinion) they were terrified of the world’s #1 secret service- the ISI. To them it was clear that resistance to ISI was simply futile and the best hope for India was to sue for peace. (Subsequent events have done nothing to change their opinion. Even after Abbottabad these folks were expressing deep admiration for the fact that ISI was able to hoodwink the bumbling Americans for an entire decade.)

But while the #1 secret service may have aided the GOP indirectly in 2009, the #2 secret service was supposedly working overtime in order to ensure a BJP victory in 2014.

At formal and informal introspection sessions held for over past few
Congress leaders are coming up with bizarre theories for their
drubbing in the elections, right form blaming the Israeli intelligence
the Japanese communication agency Dentsu, the RSS and Congress
state units.
Everyone except vice-president Rahul Gandhi has been held
responsible for their crushing defeat.

On Monday at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, general
secretary Mohan Prakash dropped a bombshell, revealing that Israeli
intelligence Mossad was in league with the RSS since 2009 to bring down
the UPA government.
Prakash when contacted refused to confirm, saying
the discussions at the party forum were not meant for public
consumption. Insiders, however, revealed that
Prakash’s version was that
Israel was not happy with the UPA government since it had only limited
political relations with Tel Aviv, unlike its predecessor the NDA.


So who is this Mohan Prakash?
Is he some dastardly muslim such as Mahesh Bhatt who has kept his (fake) Hindu name while praying five times a day? Not really. He is a scholar (Banaras Hindu University and Kashi Vidyapeeth) and a street fighter who is one of the favorites of the first family and had the honor of leading the Congress into battle in four western and north-western states in this elections. By the looks of it, he is also one of the brightest lights in the Congress party. when such a man speaks up (with conviction) people take notice (especially the gullible).


Early Life and Education

Shri Mohan
Prakash was born on 26 December 1950, and hails from Rajasthan. He is a
Bachelor of Journalism from Banaras Hindu University and studied his MA
from MG Kashi Vidyapeeth, Varanasi.

Political Career

Shri Prakash started
his political journey from BHU as President of the Student’s Union in
1974-75. In 1985, he was elected to the Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha. From
1991 to 1997, he worked closely with youth and farmer movements in
various parts of the country.

He was appointed a member of the AICC
Media Advisory Board from 2002 to 2004, during which he was in charge of
media relations for the Rajasthan state assembly elections in 2003. He
was an AICC spokesperson during the 2004 parliamentary elections. In
2005, he took charge of Media for the Haryana and Jharkhand elections,
and was also a member of the AICC delimitation committee.

He was in the AICC Media Committee in
2006, and for the UP elections in 2007. During the 2007 election for the
President of India, he was the spokesperson for the Congress Party.

He is a member of the Publication and
Publicity Committee of the AICC. Shri Prakash was appointed Secretary
(and spokesperson) of the AICC from 2008 to 2011. He was Chairman of the
Screening Committee for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2012.

Current Responsibilities

Shri Prakash is a member of the CWC and General Secretary AICC in charge of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

We bet that SS#1 has already found out all about the operations of SS#2 and will shortly issue a fatwa forbidding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from attending the inaugural ceremony. You heard this first here on BP.

Link (1):

Link (2):


PS response to YSVR- unfortunately, it does not really matter what ordinary people like us think- the “fact” that Mossad was responsible for the BJP victory  (and that a Hindu certified this to be true) is about to become conventional wisdom on Pak-nationalist websites. Just like the time when the bumbling Indian security organizations provided an affidavit that there was a rumor that 26/11 was an inside job. Yes, we are really that dumb and deserve all the bullets and bombs that come our way.


How big is Indian Middle Class? From Laptops to Motorbikes: 10-20%

In my previous post,
Malik posed an interesting inquiry- by Global standards, how big is Indian/South
Asian middle class.  How large is the size of what we may call
the ‘haves’ in this region?

I’ll focus here on
India – and pray pundits may do the number crunching for the rest of South Asia
or perhaps correct or refine the estimate I propose for India. The object
here is not to arrive at an exact figure but a rough estimate whose upper and
lower bounds are fairly certain. 

Census Data tells us

The latest, most reliable and most comprehensive data
on Household possessions for India  is
the Census
2011 Data
. While a middle class household must possess a decent house with
all the ‘basic’ global middle class amenities- a modern toilet, kitchen,
electricity supply, water supply and so on; Census data does not provide us such
holistic picture ( no data on number of households having ALL these basic
amenities) but certain key indicators (which one may term as ‘elite’ and ‘Aam
Aadmi’ indicators) can be used to arrive at a rough estimate of Middle Class household
share in populace. 

Upper Middle class & elite

 Census data
on 3 of the ‘elite’ indicators:

Households owning Car/Jeep/Van:  4.7%

Households owning Computer/Laptop:

Households having Mosaic/Floor tiles:  10.8%

Assuming any household which owns any of the above
3 items must fall under middle class, one can reasonably claim that middle
class size should be atleast 10% of all households
(afterall how many poor
households can spare money for Laptop/Computer or Mosaic/Floor tiles? Very few
I believe).

Mainly middle class members:  Significant chunk, if not Majority of these should
fall under middle class)

Census data on some of the “Aam Aadmi” (Common
middle class) indicators:

Households owning Scooter/motor
cycle/Moped: 21%

Households  owning LPG/PNG for cooking: 29%

Households owning Concrete roof: 29%

Households owning Cemented floor:

Again assuming any household who doesn’t own any
one of the above items doesn’t deserve middle class status, one can reasonably
claim that middle class households should not be more than around 20% of all
(afterall how many middle class households can’t afford even
a scooter/motor cycle/moped? Leaving out environmentally conscious, Very few I

Putting the two bounds together one can reasonably
claim that going by Census 2011 Data:

 Middle Class households account for 10-20% of
India’s all households.

I admit this is a very simplistic analysis (cheaper
recycled stuff; elite/middle class separation; traditional
cow dung users and many other details overlooked) devoid of intense academic rigor; and can be refined
further but very
broadly, It does give us a reasonable rough estimate which also sits well with
estimates coming from  multiple other
sources, for example:

PS: Is it an overestimated, underestimate or needs to be refined further (closer to 10%, or to 20% or somewhere in b/w)? Comments are most welcome.

Modi Government Part III: Foreign Policy

What BJP Manifesto says

“We will create a web of allies to mutually further our

What RSS says?

Bharat Maata must be restored to its Global-power status

Strict policy 
on alleged Bangladeshi illegal migrants,
Pakistan’s armed infiltators and PLA 

India a natural homeland for Pak/Bangla Hindu

Closer ties with Nepal, Bhutan & perhaps Indo-China (brotherly Dharmic Countries).

Brief thoughts on relations with selected few countries…


military assistance to Afghanistan Government to tackle Taliban perhaps?


hope for improvement. Though a BJP led Government does have greater leeway than
Congress in constructively engaging with Pakistan (without being branded as too
soft on terror); Pakistani Generals have reasserted their tight grip over the
State by  expelling Indian Journos, repeated
Ceasefire violations at LoC and closing down of Geo TV in recent days.  Another round of Jihad-e-Kashmir or
Gazwa-e-Kabul and Modi’s hawkish Anti-Pakistan rhetoric can make matters worse.
Also Pakistani media/politicians/diplomats/agencies, who have engaged in
Anti-Modi rhetoric in near past, will find it difficult to  re-engage.  


Likely to worsen. Since BJP has
simple majority in Lower House, it can hammer out Teesta water sharing and Land
enclave settlement without Mamta’s backing. But on BD, Modi and RSS rhetoric has
been primarily focussed on Bangla immigrant issue & fencing the border.
Also a Secularist Hasina may find it difficult to engage with Mr Modi.  Any major Anti-Bengali Muslim rioting or State
sponsored repatriation effort on Indian side, can make matters worse.

Sri Lanka

to get better- BJP doesn’t need support of Dravidian parties to stay in power and
also has little (though no longer zilch) at stake in Tamil Nadu’s local politics. DMK, AIADMK may very
well raise their Anti-Sri Lanka rhetoric but may not prove as effective as they
were under UPA Government in shaping India’s foreign Policy w.r.t Sri Lanka.


assistance for ‘brotherly’ Hindu majority country. Only major danger is RSS tying
itself in knots if it pushes Modi Government to take side of Nepal’s pro-Monarchy
& Hindu Nationalist RPP-N . Nepali Maoists are another group that hold
potential of derailing reapproachment India.


as usual. Perhaps Modi can bring some Chinese expertise for proposed
mega-infrastructure projects.


hiccups, should remain warm as ever.


days ahead. Modi as CM has good experience of working with Japan plus great chemistry
b/w the two Modi and Abe


Visa ban on Modi in past, relations likely to get better with time.  Convergence of Geopolitical interests
(containing China’s military rise), RSS’s American fanbase, Modi’s pro-business
tilt and India’s huge market-should force both sides to bury the past and move
on with business.


get a major boost. RSS has great admiration for the Jewish State. Under NDA
regime, Jaswant Singh became the first Indian Foreign Minister to visit Israel
in 2000 and in 2003, Ariel Sharon was the first Israeli PM to visit India. Mr Modi
is already being touted as Israel’s best friend in South

Arab States

‘pay as you go’ business likely to continue. For India’s economy, the Oil must
flow; while given the long view (emergence of India as a major Asian Power),
precarious stability situation within Arab nations; Arabs also in no position
to annoy India.


Inshallah Kashmir: Living Terror

More Indians need to watch this…

Ashvin Kumar’s  documentary Inshallah Kashmir was released online  in 2012 on 26th January (India’s Republic day). In 2013, It won in “Best Investigative film” category of 60th National Film Award.
The documentary recounts tales of ordinary Kashmiris affected by the militancy and its terrible response in last 2 decades. Among other things; it covers  Kashmiri nationalist narrative, the rigging of 1987 State assembly elections, rise of armed militancy, Islamist hijack, Pandit exodus, Army’s brutal response (Srinagar’s Papa-II detention center; CRPF’s Gawkadal massacre, alleged mass rape in Kunan Poshpora by jawans of Rashtriya Rifles), APDP’s struggle to recover missing persons and a senior babu Wajahat Habibullah’s backgrounder on the conflicting narratives & India’s goofups.

It is my view that self-censorship on Kashmir,  by mainstream Indian media   has done more harm than good- it has fed the shallow hypernationalist narrative (thus increasing the gulf b/w Kashmiri & Non-Kashmiri Indians) and in past allowed Security forces to get away with gross human right violations (further alienating local populace). It is not my case that the Lashkars/Mujahids or the urban semi-educated Islamist youths can offer any salvation for Kashmir. Independent or within Indian Union, only a secular democratic model with free trade, travel & interactions with India (and Pakistan) can bring long lasting peace & prosperity to Kashmiris and to the next door Jammu region (where large communities of Hindus & Muslims live cheek by jowl). Having said that, if India’s claims to a democratic and federal republic are anything more than a hollow rhetoric, high time non-Kashmiri Indians, start taking note of concerns of Kashmiris as fellow equal Indians (or else not crib when Kashmiris raise banners of Azadi).
PS: A good news- After 4 long years,  ban on Texting has been finally uplifted in Kashmir, though by now Kashmiris had shifted to Whatsapp


The good old days (human heads as cannonballs)

History was always a favorite topic till we reached adult-hood and realized that everyone was spinning a story from a particular angle (mostly Marxist). Every detail was emphasized (or de-emphasised) as per the ideological requirement.

Eventually one gets habituated to the little tricks and place filters to sift out the propaganda. That said even propaganda is enjoyable if done well and good historians are inevitably superb story tellers. One may declare that the text is all false yet the yarn is beautiful. Yes, sometimes the story is just that good that you just sit back, relax, and enjoy the story.
A hot and fetid June night on the small Mediterranean island of
Malta, and a Christian sentry patrolling at the foot of a fort on the
Grand Harbour had spotted something drifting in the water.

alarm was raised. More of these strange objects drifted into view, and
men waded into the shallows to drag them to the shore. What they found
horrified even these battle-weary veterans: wooden crosses pushed out by
the enemy to float in the harbour, and crucified on each was the
headless body of a Christian knight. 

This was psychological warfare at its most brutal, a message sent by
the Turkish Muslim commander whose invading army had just vanquished the
small outpost of Fort St Elmo – a thousand yards distant across the

Now the target was the one remaining fort on the
harbour front where the beleaguered, outnumbered and overwhelmed
Christians were still holding out: the Fort St Angelo. The Turkish
commander wished its defenders to know that they would be next, that a
horrible death was the only outcome of continued resistance.

the commander had not counted on the mettle of his enemy – the Knights
of St John. Nor on the determination of their leader Grand Master Jean
Parisot de la Valette, who vowed that the fort would not be taken while
one last Christian lived in Malta.

On news of the
grotesque discovery of the headless knights – many of them his personal
friends – Grand Master Valette quickly ordered that captured Turks
imprisoned deep in the vaulted dungeons of the fort be taken from their
cells, and beheaded one by one.

Then he returned a
communiquè of his own: the heads of his Turkish captives were fired from
his most powerful cannon direct into the Muslim lines. There would be
no negotiation, no compromise, no surrender, no retreat.

We Christians, the Grand Master was saying, will fight to the death and take you with us.

Siege of Malta in 1565 was a clash of unimaginable brutality, one of
the bloodiest – yet most overlooked – battles ever fought. It was also
an event that determined the course of history, for at stake was the
very survival of Christianity.

If vitally strategic Malta fell, the Muslim Ottoman Empire would soon dominate the Mediterranean. Even Rome would be in peril.

Muslims had hundreds of ships and an army tens of thousands strong. The
Christians were a ragtag bunch of just a few hundred hardbitten knights
and some local peasant soldiers with a few thousand Spanish infantry.
Malta looked doomed.

That the Hospitaller Knights of St
John existed at all was a minor miracle. They were a medieval relic, an
order established originally to look after ailing pilgrims to the Holy
Lands during the Crusades 300 years earlier – other orders of the
Crusades, such as the Knights Templar, had been extinct for
two-and-a-half centuries.

They came from countries all
over Europe: Germany, Portugal, France, Spain. All that united them was a
burning desire to defend Christendom against what they perceived as the
ever-encroaching tide of Islam. Yet by the 16th century, an age of the
increasing power of nation states, these trans-national zealots were
viewed as an embarrassing anachronism by much of Europe.

the Turks had forced them from their earlier home, the island of
Rhodes. Now the knights had moved to Malta – and were threatened once

So savage was the fighting, so mismatched the two
sides and so important the moment, that I chose the Siege of Malta as
the subject of my latest novel, Blood Rock. It was the stage, as we
thriller writers say, for epic and mind-blowing history.

as I researched for my book, I came to realise that what happened on
Malta more than 400 years ago is salutary in today’s context. For as we
know only too well, religious extremism, terror tactics and barbarism
still exist.

Malta was no mere siege. It teaches us many
things: the need for courage and steadfastness by an entire populace in
the face of threat; the fragility of peace; and the destructiveness of
religious hate.

Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of Turkey
and pitiless ruler of the Ottoman Empire, stared out upon the
glittering waters of the Golden Horn estuary of Istanbul. He was the
most powerful figure on the planet – his titles included Vice-Regent of
God on Earth, Lord of the Lords of East and West – and Possessor of
Men’s Necks on account of his habit of beheading servants who displeased

His realm and absolute remit stretched from
the gates of Vienna to the gardens of Babylon, from Budapest to Aden. He
was one of the richest men of all time who never wore the same clothes
twice, ate off solid gold plates encrusted with jewels, and took his
pleasure in a harem of more than 300 women.

octogenarian, he was utterly ruthless, employing an assassination squad
of deaf mutes to strangle traitors. (The reasoning was that they could
never be influenced by the pleas for mercy of their victims, nor tell
any tales.)

Suleiman had used them to dispatch both his
Grand Vizier (his prime minister) and his favourite sons. Less worthy
subjects could be executed by pouring molten lead down their throats.

by the standards of the day and his own dynastic line he was not
especially violent. 

Other sultans had done worse: one, tiring of his
womenfolk, had drowned his entire harem – some several hundred strong –
in muslin sacks at the bottom of the Bosphorus; a second had written
into the royal prerogative that he could shoot ten or more citizens a
day with his bow and arrows from the roof of his palace.

controlled the greatest fighting force in the world. Before him lay an
armada of 200 ships ready to sail, an army of 40,000 troops on board. He
planned to wipe the barren rock of Malta and the Knights of St John
from the map.

These knights lived by raiding and
disrupting his Ottoman shipping routes. The last straw had been their
capture of the prized ship of his powerful courtier the Chief Black

Because all his “parts” had been cut off by a
clean sweep of a razor – a metal tube had been inserted into his urethra
and the wound cauterised in boiling oil – the eunuch was also entrusted
to look after Suleiman’s harem.

The Sultan did not expect
undue trouble exacting his revenge. A mere 700 knights stood in his
way. Such a rabble would be quickly cleared.

The Turkish
fleet headed across the Mediterranean in March 1565. Aboard the ships
were the elite janissary shock-troops – the “Invincible Ones” – who had
carried Islam across Europe with the slashing blades of their scimitars.

Accompanying them were the blackplumed cavalry corps and the infantry as well as the drug-crazed Iayalars who
wore the skins of wild beasts and whose raison d’etre was to reach
paradise through death as they slit infidel Christian throats in battle.

In late May 1565, the invasion force arrived at the
island. The knights awaiting them enjoyed good intelligence of their
plans and had asked for assistance from the Christian armies of European
nations. Every kingdom spurned their request – other than Sicily, which
said that if the knights held out, help would eventually come.

have probably never heard of Fort St Elmo. It is a small star-shaped
structure sited at the tip of what is now the Maltese capital Valletta
on the north shore of Grand Harbour.

In late May 1565, it
was where the full might of the Turk artillery was unleashed, a hellish
crucible that would forge the future course of our modern age. For days
the invaders pounded the tottering and crumbling edifice, reducing its
limestone walls to rubble, creating a dust cloud. The knights refused to

At night, Valette sent reinforcements from St
Angelo by boat across Grand Harbour, in the knowledge they were heading
to their deaths.

After the artillery, the attacks went in,
wave upon wave of screaming and scimitar-wielding Turks, trampling over
the bodies of their own slain, laying down ships’ masts to bridge the
debris-filled moat into which the walls of St Elmo had slid.

time they were met by the ragged and diminishing band of defenders,
fighting with pikes and battle-axes, firing muskets and dropping blocks
of stone, throwing fire-hoops that set ablaze the flowing robes of the
Muslims and sent them burning and plummeting to their deaths.

fire-hoops – covered in flax and cotton, dipped in brandy and coated
with pitch and saltpetre – were the knights’ own invention. Dropped
blazing over the bastion walls, they could engulf three Turks at a time.

For 30 days, cut off and doomed, the soldiers of St Elmo
prevailed. The Turkish general had expected the fort to fall within

Late at night on Friday June 22, 1565, the few
hundred survivors from an original garrison of 1,500, sang hymns,
offered up prayers, defiantly tolled their chapel bell and prepared to
meet their end the next day.

Those unable to stand were
placed in chairs behind the shattered ramparts, crouching low with their
pikes and swords to await the final assault.

When it
came, and the entire Turkish army descended as a howling mass, the
handful of Christians still managed to fight for several hours.
Eventually the Ottomans took their prize. The crescent banners of the
Grand Turk flew above the ruins, the heads of the knights were raised on
spikes, and the crucified bodies of their officers were floated across
to Fort St Angelo on the far side of the harbour.

The Turks had lost time and up to 8,000 of their crack troops.

heat was rising, disease and dysentery spread throughout the Muslim
camp, and the dead lay piled around the blackened remnants of the seized
fort. deserted the knights – the princes of Europe had abandoned them.
But Grand Master Valette was not about to quit.

Scenes of
heroism and horror abounded in the terrible days that followed. There
were extraordinary characters: Fra Roberto, the priest who fought on the
battlements with a sword in one hand and a cross in the other; the two
English “gentlemen adventurers” who arrived belatedly from Rome to take
part in the action; Valette himself, who stood unyielding in the breach
and used a spear to battle hand-to-hand against the foe.

had led desperate sallies against the Ottoman, harrying their labour
corps, sniping at commanders, spiking their guns. But the enemy, too,
had their brave and vivid figures. Among them was Dragut, the most
feared corsair of his day, whose skill and dash had served the Sultan
well. A cannonball splinter did for him.

Yet the siege
continued, the target now St Angelo, the final and fortified enclave of
the knights on the southern side of Grand Harbour.

Turks tried every twist and tactic in their military manual. They
tunnelled beneath the Christian defences to bury gunpowder and blow the
knights to bits. The Maltese responded with their own mines to blow up
the tunnels and there were terrible skirmishes below ground.

the Turks drew up siege engines, giant towers designed to pour their
infantry direct on to the battlements. The knights removed stones at the
base of the battlement walls so that they could run out cannon through
the openings they had created, and blast the siege engines apart.

several occasions those walls were breached, the Turks rushing through
eager to slaughter all in their path. Triumph seemed at hand but they
found too late that the knights had improvised an ambush, creating a
killing zone into which they were funnelled and slaughtered.

for the Turks was slipping away. The furnace temperatures of July and
August sapped morale and strength; the sense of failure clung as
pervasively as the surrounding stench of death.

The Turks’
commander, Mustapha Pasha, marched inland to take the walled city of
Mdina, only to withdraw when scouts informed him of its substantial and
well-armed garrison. It was a trick. Mdina was largely undefended, its
governor ordering women and children to don helmets, carry pikes and
patrol the walls.

Frantic, with casualties mounting and
autumn storms looming, the Turks rolled a giant bomb – a fiendish
barrel-shaped object packed with gunpowder and musketballs – into the
Christian positions.

The knights promptly rolled it back
and it blew a devastating hole in the massed and waiting Muslim ranks.
It rained. Believing the gunpowder of the knights to be damp, their
muskets and cannon useless, Mustapha Pasha again sent his troops

They were met by a hail of not only crossbow
bolts but gunfire, for Valette had anticipated such an moment, setting
aside stores of dry powder.

Finally, relief reached the
knights in the form of a small army from Sicily. Believing the enemy
reinforcements too weak to be of any consequence, Mustapha Pasha angrily
ordered his troops – who had bolted on hearing of the new arrivals – to
turn back and march towards them. It was the last of his many grave

The cavalry of the relief force charged, then
the infantry, tearing into the Turkish centre, putting it to flight.
Rout turned to bloodbath. The once-proud Ottoman force scrambled in
disarray for its ships, pursued across the island, cut down and picked
off at every step. Thousands died and the waters of St Paul’s Bay ran

Of the 40,000 troops that had set sail in the spring
from Constantinople, only some ten thousand made it home. Behind them
they had left a scene of utter devastation.

Almost the
entire garrison commanded by Jean Parisot de Valette – after whom the
city of Valletta is named – had perished. Now, after 112 days of siege,
the ragged handful of survivors limped through the blitzed wreckage of
their lines.

Malta was saved, for Europe and Christianity. The Knights of St John had won.

has moved on – the island withstood another siege which played a key
role in the saving of civilisation in the 1940s, this time against
Hitler’s forces. Today, the hotel and apartment developers have moved
in. Rarely is the 1565 Great Siege of Malta mentioned. Hardly ever do
visitors to the island dwell on such an ancient and forgotten incident.

I have stood in that tiny chapel recessed in the walls of Fort St Elmo,
the very place where defenders took their last holy sacrament on a June
night long ago. We owe those knights.

Their sacrifice was
immense, their effect on our lives more profound than we may know. 

religious fanaticism continues, and global powers will still fight over a
piece of barren rock. Perhaps we never really learn.

Blood Rock by James Jackson is published by John Murray at £11.99.