Sam Manekshaw, by Hamid Hussain

From Dr Hamid Hussain.

Sam was representative of an earlier generation of Indian officers.  Few historical tit bits about the documentary.  If you look Sam in pictures, he is always wearing black PIFFER pips although usually senior officers do not wear regimental color pips.  Lieutenant General ® S. K. Sinha gives his opinion about Sam in documentary.  There is interesting story about Sinha.  Sinha is originally from Jat regiment but in WWII, he spent about two weeks with a draft of 4/12 FFR (Sam and present Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif’s battalion) before his own battalion came to theatre.  Later, he also went to Gorkha Rifles.  In 1947, three young officers were serving together in Military Operations (MO) directorate in Delhi.  Sam was GSO-1, Yahya Khan was GSO-2 and Sinha GSO 3.  In 1971 Indo-Pak war, Sam was Indian army chief, Yahya Khan Pakistan army chief and Sinha was at GHQ heading pay commission.  Sinha asked Sam to be given a chance to participate in war and stated, “The old G1 is going to war with the old G2 and the old G3 is being left out”.  Sam owned a red motorcycle and in 1947 he sold it to Yahya for Rs.1000.  In the upheaval of 1947 Yahya went to Pakistan and never paid the money.  Sam used to joke about that Yahya never paid him for the motorcycle therefore he went ahead and got half of the country of Yahya.  I did obituary of Sam attached below;


Defence Journal, August 2008
Sam Manekshaw (April 03, 1914-June 27, 2008)
Hamid Hussain
On June 27, 2008 Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw passed away in a hospital in India.  He was called Sam by his colleagues, Sam Bahadur by soldiers and Lord Mountbatten called him Manekji.  He was the last of the breed of an officer corps which joined the British Indian army in 1930s.  Sam was the most popular soldier in India and was admired even in Pakistan.  Sam was born in Amritsar and educated at Sherwood College in Nainital and Hindu Sabha College in Amritsar.  He passed out from Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun in 1934 getting his military identity of IC-0014.  He followed the routine of spending one year of probationary period with the British regiment; 2nd Batallion of Royal Scots after commission.  He then joined the elite 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment (FFR).  This battalion evolved through its one hundred and fifty year history going through various reorganizations which changed its name.  It started as 4th Sikh Local Infantry after First Sikh War in 1846.  In 1901, it became 4th Sikh Infantry and in 1903 became 54th Sikhs. 1922 reorganization changed it into 4th Battalion of 12 Frontier Force Regiment.  1957 reorganization gave it its present designation of 6 Frontier Force (FF).   The original designation of force deployed on the frontier of newly acquired territories in 1849 was Punjab Irregular Frontier Force (PIFFER).  Till today those who join Frontier Force Regiment are known as PIFFERS.  Young impressionable cadets at academy see their instructors as role models and the caliber of an instructor may be a factor when a cadet chooses his battalion.  Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Carter of 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment was a first rate officer and then instructor at Dehra Dun (he later commanded the battalion in 1942 when it was being reorganized into a reconnaissance battalion at Ranchi).  He may have been responsible for two cadets of the batch joining the 4/12 FFR; Sam and Atiq-ur-Rahman nick named Turk. 
In Second World War, Sam then a captain was leading Sikhs of Charlie company of 4/12 FFR in Burma.  A small group of Japanese soldiers surprised the troops and sneaked into the perimeter of the battalion at night.  This caused a panic and a number of soldiers bolted from the scene.  Sam’s Sikhs firmly stayed in their positions.  Sam had threatened them that he will personally distribute ‘bangles’ if any of them moved from their position.  Later, in one of the attacks on a Japanese position, Sam was severely wounded when seven bullets of a Japanese machine gun hit him in his stomach.  His orderly Sher Singh put Sam on his back and evacuated him to Regimental Aid Post where Regimental Medical Officer (RMO) Captain G. M. Diwan tended to him.  Sam was in a serious condition and all who saw him were convinced that he will not survive from his serious wounds.  Major General D. T. Cowan pinned his own Military Cross (MC) on Sam’s chest stating that ‘a dead person cannot be awarded a MC’.  Death was closely lurking around Sam.  When Sam was being treated at a hospital at Pegu, Japanese planes bombed the hospital and Sam’s bed was moved to the lawn. Severely wounded Sam was moved to Mandalay and then to Rangoon.  Sam was on the last ship which left Rangoon before Japanese overran it.  The ship was also bombed by Japanese planes but Sam made it to Madras.  He survived this ordeal to live up to the ripe age of 94.  After partition in 1947 when Sam’s battalion was allotted to Pakistan, 8th Gorkha (Shiny Eight) became Sam’s home. 
During 1947-48 Kashmir Operations, Sam then Colonel was a staff officer at Directorate of Military Operations.  In Baramula, Pakistani tribesmen killed Colonel Thomas Dyke and his wife who were on holidays.  Dyke had done his first year attachment with 2nd Royal Scots along with Sam before joining Sikh Regiment.  Sam commanded an infantry brigade, served as Commandant of Infantry School, commanded an infantry division and then went on to become Commandant of Defence Services College at Wellington.  He commanded 4th Corps and then became Western Army Commander followed by commanding Eastern Army Command.  In June 1969, he succeeded General Kumaramangalam to become eighth army chief of Indian army.  
In early 1950s, two PIFFERS on Pakistan side and one old PIFFER from Indian side were commanding the brigades close to border.  Brigadier Bakhtiar Rana was commanding a brigade in Lahore, Brigadier Atiqur Rahman (nick named Turk) was commanding 101 Brigade (based in Sialkot but sent to Lahore due to anti-Ahmadiya riots) while Sam was commanding a brigade in Ferozpur.  Rana and Turk went to see Sam and old PIFFERS buddies enjoyed Sam’s hospitality.  After 1971 war when Sam came to Pakistan as Indian army chief for negotiations, Turk was his host.  Sam had lifelong attachment to his parent battalion.  When he was army chief, there was a standing order to all the staff, guards and sentries that whenever an ex-serviceman of 4/12 FFR came to the army headquarters, he should be brought to the chief no matter what chief was doing.  In 1971 war when he was Indian army chief, he kept an eye on performance of 4/12 FFR (now 6FF) which was fighting from Pakistan’s side.  His staff would notice a certain pride in his eyes when the briefing officer would give some account of 4/12 FFR.  He commented to his military assistant ‘I should like to see one of my 8th Gorkha battalions fighting the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment’.  When Major Shabbir Sharif of 6 FF got the highest gallantry award of Nishan-e-Haider fighting from Pakistan side, Sam wrote to one of his old British Commanding Officer (CO) of 4/12 FFR in England that he was so proud that an officer of ‘his battalion’ got the honor although Sam’s forces were fighting against Pakistan.   In 1973, when he came to Pakistan for post-war negotiations, he requested that dinner be served in the silverware of his parent battalion.  4/12 FFR (6 FF) was then stationed in Okara and cutlery of the battalion was carefully packed and sent to Lahore where Sam was entertained.  During his 1973 visit to Pakistan, Sam was given a lunch at Station Artillery Mess in Lahore.  Sam went around looking at the impressive array of trophies in the mess.  He stopped by a trophy and asked what a trophy of 54th Sikh (4/12 FFR) was doing in the artillery mess.  One Pakistani officer confided that the trophy was brought to the mess for the special occasion.  In March 1973, when Sam visited England, he hosted a dinner where all serving and retired officers who had association with 54th Sikhs and 8th Gorkha Rifles were in attendance.
In his professional career, Sam was famous for his brief and to the point orders.  In 1962 Indo-China war, Sam was urgently dispatched to take over 4thCorps from Lieutenant General B. M. Kaul (nick named Bijji).  On his arrival Sam assembled all staff officers and gave his one sentence address stating ‘Gentlemen I have arrived.  There will be no more withdrawals in 4th Corps, thank you’ and walked out.  He issued a brief order to all in the Corps which read, ‘there will be no more withdrawals without written orders and these orders shall never be issued’.  These statements elevated Sam’s reputation but the fact was that Sam took over the Corps after the unilateral ceasefire announced by China.  Sam himself summed up his philosophy of work by stating that ‘I am a simple infanteer and a Gorkha at that and I want everything cut and dried.  Complicated stuff is for the intellectuals’.  He was known for his straight talk even with heavy weights of Indian political scene.  In 1971, when a large number of refugees started to pour from then East Pakistan into neighboring states, the Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura started to flood Delhi with urgent telegrams.  Prime Minister Indira Gandhi summoned Sam to a cabinet meeting.  She was very angry and after a long diatribe about the situation turned towards Sam and asked him ‘What are you doing about it?’ The response which Sam gave was typical.  On question of what he was going to do, he said ‘Nothing, it’s got nothing to do with me.  You didn’t consult me when you allowed BSF [Border Security Force], the CRP [Central Reserve Police] and RAW [Research and Analysis Wing] to encourage the Pakistanis to revolt.  Now that creates trouble, you come to me.  I have a long nose.  I know what’s happening’. 
Sam’s working method was based on simplicity and he avoided lofty statements.  He was well aware of the ground realities and talked frankly about tricky issues even with his soldiers.  In the run up to 1971 war, when he visited a garrison he would bluntly tell soldiers that when war breaks out there will be no scavenging.  He told them that he was commanding soldiers and not thieves.  He also warned them against womanizing.  He reminded his soldiers that the war was against the Pakistan army and not against their women.  In professional matters, he kept high standards.  A general was accused of misusing funds.  When Sam summoned him to his office and narrated the charge, the general blurted ‘Sir, do you know what you are saying?’  Sam snapped at him, ‘Your Chief is not only accusing you of being dishonest but also calling you a thief.  If I were you I would go home and either shoot myself or resign.  I am waiting to see what you will do’.  The same evening the general resigned.  
Sam had a sense of humor and there are many stories of his witty responses.  When he lay critically wounded in Burma, the Australian surgeon tending to wounded asked him what happened, Sam replied ‘I was kicked by a mule’.  In 1971 conflict, when then prime Minister Indira Ghandi asked him if he was ready for the impending conflict, Sam replied with a twinkle in his eyes ‘I am always ready, sweetie’.  In the run up to 1971 war, when he visited different garrisons, he warned soldiers against womanizing.  He would tell them that ‘when you feel tempted, put your hands in your pockets and think of Sam Manekshaw’. 
In 1973, after becoming Field Marshal when Sam was visiting England, he hosted a dinner.  One of his former Commanding Officer was also present who asked him ‘May, I call you Sam’.  Sam replied, ‘Please do, Sir.  You used to call me bloody fool before.  I thought that was my Christian name’.  After retirement, Sam was a director with Escorts.  A hostile bid for the organization was thwarted by changing of the whole board.  Mr. Naik was one of the new directors.  Sam remarked that ‘This is the first time in history when a Naik has displaced a Field Marshal’. 
He was sometimes brash but always had enough humility.  In 1971, when Prime Minister asked him to go to Dacca to accept surrender of Pakistani forces he said that the honor should go to Eastern Army Commander Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Arora.  After surrender, Sam flew to Calcutta to congratulate officers of eastern command.  When he landed at Dum Dum airport, he was escorted to a Mercedes car captured from Pakistanis but he refused to sit in Mercedes.  When wearing casual dress, he always preferred Peshawari chaplis. 
Sam was lucky during his whole career.  In 1947-48 Kashmir war, he was a staff officer at General Head Quarters (GHQ).  In 1962 debacle, he was serving as Commandant of Defence Services Staff College far away from the conflict.  He was asked by his mentor and new army Chief J. N. Chaudhri (nick named Mucchu) to take over 4th Corps from Lieutenant General B. M. Kaul.  Sam took over after the unilateral ceasefire by China and therefore never put his skills into any battle.  In 1965 war, Sam was Eastern Army Commander while all the action was on the western front.  India was in a much better strategic position in 1971 and the outcome of the war was a foregone conclusion.  Sam became a popular soldier after India’s victory on 1971. 
Sam’s life was not without controversy.  Sam’s frank comments got him into trouble with his superiors.  In 1962, then Defence Minister V. K. Krishna Menon and Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General B. M. Kaul initiated an inquiry against Sam for alleged ‘anti-national attitude’.  Sam was accused of being more loyal to Queen of England than President of India.  He was also accused of stating that as commandant of Staff College, he will not allow any officer as instructor whose wife looked like ‘ayah’.  Sam’s promotion was held for eighteen months during this time.  A Court of Inquiry headed by then Western Army commander Lieutenant General Daulat Singh exonerated Sam.  The principle witness against Sam was Brigadier H. S. Yadav (he was commissioned in Grenadiers and nick named Kim).  Brigadier Inder Vohra was another witness against Sam.  In 1963, when Sam took over as Western Army Commander, Yadav served under him as a brigade commander.  Some officers trying to curry favor with Sam, made adverse remarks about Yadav.  Sam quickly replied ‘Look chaps, professionally, Kim Yadav is head and shoulders above most of you’.  Yadav himself had enough sense of humor that after conclusion of 1971 war, he sent a telegram to Sam which read, ‘you have won the war: all by yourself, without me – a remarkable achievement.  My congratulations’.  In January 1973, Sam again stirred a controversy and was accused of having disdain for everything Indian.  In an interview he had stated that his favorite city was London where he felt at home.  More explosive comment was his statement that in 1947 Jinnah asked him to join Pakistan army.  Sam added that ‘if I had, you would have had a defeated India’. 
In this author’s dictionary, the pinnacle of any officer’s career is not in attaining general rank but the honor to command the battalion he is commissioned in.  Unfortunately, in Sam’s illustrious career, he never had the chance to command a battalion.  However, this fact does not diminish his position in Indian army history.  Sam’s first annual confidential report by his superior read, ‘this officer, I beg his pardon, this man, may one day become an officer’.  He not only became an officer and a gentleman but became the most popular officer of Indian army.  In his passing, an era has come to an end.  Knowing Sam, it is most likely that even up there, he will be hanging out with old warriors of PIFFERS and Gorkha regiments.  Good bye, Sam. Rest in peace. 
1- Author is thankful to many PIFFER officers for their valuable input. 
2- Lieutenant General Depinder Singh.  Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw: Soldiering with Dignity (Dehra Dun: Natraj Publishers, 2003, Second Edition)
3- Lieutenant General M. Attiqur Rahman.  Back to the Pavilion (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2005)
4- Hamid Hussain.  Stranger Than Fiction, Defence Journal, December 2007
5- The Independent, June 28, 2008
6- The Indian Express, June 27, 2008
7- Lieutenant General A. S. Kalkat.  Sam Manekshaw.  100 People Who Shaped India.  India Today.
Dr. Hamid Hussain is an independent analyst based in New York.  For corrections, comments and critique [email protected]
Hamid Hussain
July 18, 2008

India- Hindu or Secular?

Obviously none of the above, since (a) Hindus are not one united volk governed by a Pope and a scripture and (b) Secular is a meaningless word used to play off one community vs. another (to the detriment of all concerned). Adding to the general harm is the blast of a blasphemy law. There is no point in requesting the powers that be to remove religion from the public square because that would prevent politicians from grandstanding in their desire to seek votes.

As the D-day approaches the world is sitting up and finally noticing that there will be an election of enormous consequence in India.


It is billed as the
biggest election on Earth. In the world’s largest democracy, an
electorate of 815 million will troop up to 930,000 polling stations in
28 states in nine phases over five weeks, starting Monday and ending May
12. If vote counting goes as swiftly and accurately as has been the
norm in India, results will be announced May 16. Then would begin the
real tamasha (show, entertainment, drama) over who would form the next government.

Polls show the centrist Congress government would be wiped out.
During a recent trip to India, I found no party stalwart who doubted
that prospect, so palpably angry is the public at Congress misrule that
has been marked by corruption, dynastic rule (under the Gandhi family),
government gridlock and stalled economic growth coupled with nearly 9
per cent inflation.

The right-wing
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is widely expected to win. Yet its leader,
Narendra Modi, is no shoo-in as the next prime minister for both prosaic
and profound reasons, the latter relating to the identity of India: is
it a secular nation of 1.3 billion with Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and
other minorities totalling as many 200 million, or a Hindu nation with a
Hindu ethos that the minorities must acquiesce to and assimilate in, as
Modi’s most fervour supporters believe?

That is the real story of this election. What makes it
particularly Indian and deeply democratic is that the most passionate
defenders of secularism against Hindu communal forces are many Hindus

No party has won a
majority since 1986. Smaller parties routinely scoop up about a third of
the vote and a third of the seats, an apt reflection of the steady rise
of regionalism. The best projected scenario for the BJP is for 213
seats in the 543-member lower house of parliament. That would
necessitate enticing or outright bribing 59 others to get to the needed
272 seats to form a coalition government.

There is no strong
third party to forge an arrangement with. This may change with the rise
of the populist Aam Admi (common man) Party, “the Tea Party of the
left,” with its campaign against corruption and culture of entitlement.
But it has already said it won’t partner with BJP. Several regional
parties would come with about 20 seats or less, each wanting to exact
its price. But even some of those ready to back a BJP government may not
back Modi as leader of India, so polarizing a figure he has been.

Whereas the party has
held office before (1998-2004), its prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
was a moderate who was expected to and did keep the BJP zealots in
check. But Modi is seen as hopelessly divisive.

He is chief minister
of the western state of Gujarat where under his watch there was a
communal conflagration in 2002 in which more than 1,000 people were
shot, hacked or burnt to death, an overwhelming majority of them

For secular Indians,
that stain cannot be washed away by his explanations — he had nothing to
do with it; several inquiries were not able to pin any blame on him
directly; there have been no more sectarian riots since; the Muslims of
Gujarat have benefitted from the unquestionable economic boom that he
has brought by attracting Indian and foreign businesses.

His critics, however,
note that one of his caucus members was jailed for 28 years for being
what the court called “a kingpin” in the murder of 97 people. The
federal inquiry that did not find sufficient evidence to charge him did
not exactly exonerate him for his criminal negligence and moral
culpability in failing to stop the days-long riots, in which state
police and civilian authorities were accused of complicity.

Modi has refused to
recant. His supporters argue he has nothing to apologize for. He once
refused a Muslim kufi cap offered him at a public meeting, whereas he
routinely dons various regional headgears for photo ops. He continues to
cater to Hindu chauvinism. He has chosen a federal riding not in his
home state but rather in the Hindu holy city of Benares. He repeats the
BJP mantra of doing away with all the “special deals” for the disputed
(Muslim) state of Kashmir on the Pakistan border, constitutional and
other commitments given for historical and strategic reasons. He says
Muslim terrorism suspects should be prosecuted, not mollycoddled
(reacting to a federal minister who said that long detentions without
charge should be looked at).

“Modi represents everything that’s evil in Hinduism,” says Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Congress minister, a Hindu who calls himself a secular fundamentalist. Echoing Indian
secularists, he told me: “India is not, cannot be, Hindu India. It is a
constitutionally secular nation, with a long history of a composite

The real drama of the
election would unfold after the election, he said. “I am selling tickets
on my veranda to see the parade of politicians who’ll be horse trading —
and battling with their conscience.”




This Mughal is a Rajput fan

Today is the big day, when a Rajput king (who was a second class ticket examiner for the Indian Railways in a previous life) rides into battle. His top general is a Tamil Brahmin who terrorizes the enemy with a carrom ball. They also have a die-hard fan who has traveled half the world to say hello. What is so special about him is that he belongs to a tribe which has sworn to fight a thousand year war with the Rajput Tamils.

Normally this would be an unremarkable story, especially so as Mohd. Bashir’s wife is from Hyderabad (India) . Lots of Indians would also support Pakistan if the latter was playing (some “Indians” support Pakistan even when playing against India). But still as Dr Omar says, as long as the 2-nation theory lives out its zombie like life (and it will do so till Kashmir is normalized), these stories do make a few bright splashes against a perpetually cloudy sky that is SAsia.

There is one thing about Mahendra Singh Dhoni that even his staunch critics will applaud. Whether he is on or off the field, he loves to walk the talk. So, when
he declared that the hostility associated with an India-Pakistan
encounter is long over, Dhoni meant it and his latest act has proved it.

The Indian captain on Saturday arranged a complimentary pass for a
die-hard Pakistani cricket fan Mohammed Bashir, who came all the way
from Chicago to support his team.

Although Pakistan were
knocked out in the group stage, Bashir has stayed back to watch India
play the final and now has become a “die-hard Dhoni fan” having
interacted with the Indian captain.

“I was watching India’s
training session yesterday but I didn’t have any tickets. Dhoni is
familiar with my face as he has seen me before the Champions Trophy’s
Indo-Pak game in Birmingham. I told him that I don’t have a ticket to
watch the finals.

“Dhoni then called some “Kaka” (trainer
Ramesh Mane or ‘Mane Kaka’) and told him to arrange for my ticket. Kaka
promptly gave me a complimentary pass. I am completely moved by his
gesture,” the new “Chacha Pakistani” said on Sunday.

“He (Dhoni) asked about me and I told him that I am settled in Chicago.
Since I was standing there for a long time, he told someone to give me
fruits. I am a Pakistan fan but for today, I am a Dhoni fan. Also I have
another India connection. I am Hyderabad’s son-in-law as my wife hails
from the region,” a proud Bashir said flaunting his final match pass.

During Pakistan’s matches, Bashir, who would be in his early 50’s,
could be seen wearing a giant sized kurta in the design of his national
flag. He has also been a big hit among the local fans after supporting
Bangladesh during one of their matches.

Bashir runs a Mughlai restaurant in Chicago named “Ghareeb Nawaz” which specialises in biryani.



Why Dilip Babu will not vote for BJP

Dilip DSouza is a left-wing ideologue and author (hence the title- Dilip Babu is a proper Bengali Bhadralok name). He is also a strong voice for the minorities in India. The challenge for the BJP is to convince people like Dilip to vote for their vision of India. It is challenging because it is never right to polarize communities against each other, and two wrongs never make right either.  

While we feel that Dilip’s viewpoint is (understandably) jaundiced, the views expressed below are eminently fair and balanced.

The pity is that I actually think our constituency has a good
politician from the BJP. If he ever runs for Parliament,  my opinion of
him, by itself, would tempt me to vote for him. Yet I cannot forget he
is from the BJP. Much as I’m also tempted by the logic that we must
sometimes look at the candidate and not the party, I know this like the
back of my hand: I will not vote for this party.

The pity is, too, that any party that presides over the plethora of
scams of the last few years deserves no less than to be flung out of
power. I mean the Congress, of course. And even so, I won’t vote BJP.
They have done too much to turn away too many people like me. Perhaps
they don’t care, but that’s the way it is.

To start, there’s the obsession with building a Ram temple in
Ayodhya. Every time we hear that times have changed and young Indians
aren’t interested in this tired old nag of an issue, somebody in the BJP
will announce that building that temple is on their agenda.

India is afflicted with scams, or still widespread poverty, or poor
primary education—whatever it is, the BJP returns, every time, to that
lazy way to ask for votes: champion the Ram temple. Sure enough, it
appears in their newest manifesto too. If you had to judge solely from
the several decades that the BJP has demanded it—luckily, you don’t—this
temple is this country’s highest priority. It must take singularly
warped minds to hold tight to this warped vision for India for so long.

On from there is the way the BJP and fans label anyone remotely
critical as “anti-Hindu”. A good example is a  ‘List of Anti-Hindu
Personalities and Their Intricate Connections’ that has been doing the
rounds for some years now. (Full disclosure: I happen to be on that list.)

I know why these lists are made. “Anti-Hindu” is a surer way to get
people’s bile up, after all, than a mere “anti-BJP”. (Similar are the
labels “Pakistani agent”, “Italian origin” etc.) It’s also a lazy way to
argue, used when bereft of anything more substantial. 

On from there…I could go on, with plenty more reasons not to vote
BJP. Among them, the party’s unwillingness to see justice done for
horrific crimes. Above all, though, I believe their politics demeans

I believe we have the people, the talent and the passion in this
country to take on the world. But the BJP chooses instead to
systematically turn Indian against Indian. This applies to the
“anti-Hindu” label it uses freely, it applies to the lies and suspicion
it directs at its critics, it applies to episodes of murderous violence
that have been left to fester. For me, all this is unforgivable.

And when you call them on it, the BJP’s supporters have only this
particularly brainless response: “But the Congress also does crappy
things.” Well yes, it does. In fact, crappiness from the Congress was
the reason this country grew repulsed by that party in the first place.
But when they came to power, the BJP turned out to be no different from
the Congress, and in many ways even worse. 

 (To my knowledge, not even
the Congress holds on to lists of ‘Anti-Hindu Personalities’.)

great dilemma is that on fundamental counts like these, our two major
political parties have failed us. I won’t shy away from the challenge
this dilemma poses when I head for the voting booth. But it does also
leave me with this certainty: I won’t vote for the BJP.



The Sahel – Islam's natural boundary

The Eritrean-Ethiopian highlands are the major Christian exception to the rule (I believe their religion is that of the Copts with the same exceptionalism) whereas the mercantile Arabs were able to spread their faith to the south eastern coast.
Africa is a continent apart – I just arrived in Nairobi for the weekend and I’m very impressed by it – some areas more than trump the subcontinent. 

Election 2014: Death Knell of Strategic Depth?

Afghanistan has voted. And wow, what a lot of voting there was! Millions of Afghans turned out and voted in an election where a vote for anyone was a vote against Mullah Umar and his backers. Now it may be that the results will not be accepted, that the winners will fight each other or that the good feeling will evaporate as some future Taliban offensive shakes the state. But if the results are credible and are accepted, then it may well be (to quote journalist Tahir Mehdi) that April 5th 2014 will be to strategic depth what December 16th 1971 was to the two-nation theory.
Of course, one may then point out that the Two Nation theory has had a very healthy Zombie existence since 1971. But even the healthiest Zombie is still a Zombie. Dying is forever.
One can always hope.
This question came up on twitter: was this election a success because Afghan security forces and ISAF did a fantastic job and the Afghan people rejected Mullah Umar? or because Pakistan was paid (and paid well) and agreed to permit a peaceful election? I suspect a bit of both. But either way, it does not alter the significance of the event. Whether Pakistan’s Taliban allies are just not strong enough to disrupt elections or whether Pakistan has sold them out for money. its all the same as far as strategic depth is concerned. Its over.

PS: I have already heard from people on twitter that this will not lead to milk and honey and a civil war is coming. But please note, I said nothing about those things. All that may be true. But strategic depth was a different story. The story was that Afghanistan is waiting for Americans to leave and then our boys walk in and eject the “mayor of Kabul”. That doesnt seem to be the story at all. “Our boys” didnt look as strong as advertised. And unless they are the dominant and strongest party, strategic depth is dead and strategic nightmare awaits.



Perhaps Mohd. Musa is truly an evil murderer…in his past life. Amidst the mountain of justly deserved scorn save a molehill of pity for the police in SAsia who need to please their fickle patrons. Now that the cat is out of the (media)bag a (scape)goat will be arranged and (unjustly) punished for no fault of his own.

The boy’s grandfather accused the police of making up the charges in
order to get the family out of their land.
…..The attention the case received in the local media caught the eye of
senior security officials, who ordered disciplinary action against the
police officers responsible for writing up a nine-month-old,
reports The Nation. A policeman has since been suspended.



Indian representative

Koyal Rana from Jaipur is a very beautiful lady but perhaps not truly representative of India (in terms of skin color). We wish her all the best in her quest to win over the world.  

The Ranas (=Raja=king also, Rani = queen) were originally Rajput kings from Rajasthan, Maha-Rana Pratap Singh for example hailed from the Sisodia dynasty of Udaipur. Facing Mughal onslaught, the Ranas scattered in the direction of the hills (and to the rest of India), and were rulers of Nepal till recently. 

Surprisingly (not really) there are Rana converts to Islam and many prominent Pakistani families are Ranas as well. Wiki
cites the following – it is only understandable in
an Indian context that these proud people would like to flaunt  their caste
even after conversion.

Bakhtiar Rana – Ex Lieutenant General Pakistan Army; Rana Phool Muhammad Khan – MPA from Bhai Pheru 1971,1977,1985,1990 (Ex. Provincial Minister Punjab), Azmat Rana – Pakistani cricket player, Shafqat Rana – former Pakistani cricketer, Moammar Rana – Pakistani film actor, Shakoor Rana – Pakistani cricket player, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan- Pakistani cricket player, Rana Tanveer Hussain- Former Minister of Defence Production, Rana Mohammad Hanif Khan- Finance Minister of Pakistan, Rana Muhammad Akram Khan – Ex Chairman Punjab Bar Council, Rana Mashood Ahmad Khan – Deputy Speaker, Punjab Assembly, Rana Sanaullah Khan – Law Minister Punjab, Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan – Speaker Punjab (Pakistan) Assembly, Rana Nazeer Ahmed Khan – Federal minister (1990–93) (97-99) (2002–2004)



The Economist condemns The Man

The Economist will not vote for the Man even though they may admire his (economic) policies.
By refusing to put Muslim fears to rest, Mr Modi feeds them. By
clinging to the anti-Muslim vote, he nurtures it. India at its finest
is a joyous cacophony of peoples and faiths, of holy men and rebels.
The best of them, such as the late columnist Khushwant Singh 
are painfully aware of the damage caused by communal hatred. Mr Modi
might start well in Delhi but sooner or later he will have to cope
with a sectarian slaughter or a crisis with Pakistan—and nobody,
least of all the modernisers praising him now, knows what he will do
nor how Muslims, in turn, will react to such a divisive man.

If Mr Modi were to explain his role in the violence and show genuine
remorse, we would consider backing him, but he never has; it would be
wrong for a man who has thrived on division to become prime minister
of a country as fissile as India. We do not find the prospect of a
government led by Congress under Mr Gandhi an inspiring one. But we
have to recommend it to Indians as the less disturbing option.

If, more probably, victory goes to the BJP, its coalition partners should hold out for a prime minister other than Mr Modi. And if they still choose Mr Modi? We would wish him well, and we
would be delighted for him to prove us wrong by governing India in a
modern, honest and fair way. But for now he should be judged on his
record—which is that of a man who is still associated with sectarian
hatred. There is nothing modern, honest or fair about that. India
deserves better.



Death for “blasphemous SMS”

The accusation is that the husband sent a blasphemous SMS from his wife’s mobile. Even if this is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, why is the wife being implicated in the crime and condemned to death? …It appears that the rate of death sentences will keep accelerating until there are no more minorities left to attack. From that point onwards the only victims of blasphemy will be muslims.

Incidentally the couple belong to Toba Tek Singh town, made famous by Sadat Hasan Manto. At this point it is fair to say that the lunatics are in charge of the asylum that Manto had envisioned.
court in eastern Pakistan has sentenced a Christian couple to death for
sending a blasphemous text message insulting the Prophet Muhammad, their
lawyer said on Saturday.

Judge Mian Amir Habib handed the
death sentence to Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar in a jail in the
town of Toba Tek Singh on Friday, defence lawyer Nadeem Hassan told AFP.

Maulvi Mohammad Hussain, the prayer leader at a local mosque in Gojra,
lodged a complaint against couple on July 21 last year for sending him a
text message which he said was insulting to the Prophet Muhammad. 
Hussain accused the husband of sending the message from his wife’s cellphone.

However, defence lawyer Hassan said that the text originated from a
cellphone which the couple had lost some time before the incident, so
they could not have sent the message.

The defence lawyer said
that the couple had suspected rivals of implicating them into blasphemy
case to settle personal scores and that they had ties with the