Category: Politics


Yes, that’s right I am talking about India’s crack commando unit – the National Security  Guards. For almost an year now I have got to interact with the men, their life at work & of course, their weapons!!

The government leaves no stone unturned in trying to project them as one of the best in the world, well on that front there’s no doubt that they indeed are. One look at their training facilities in Manesar & the rigour that each of the men have to go through to make the cut do make them ready for any eventuality. A closer look & things are not really so very rosy. A few very disturbing observations:

1)    It took years for the bureaucrats to actually think of & then reject the sanction of air-conditioned buses for the minimum comfort of travel for members of the elite sky marshal force (52 SAG) in the searing Delhi summer. The sky marshals are probably the best in the world when it comes to shooting at close quarters especially within an aircraft.

2)    Before the 26/11 attacks took place the NSG was actually denied the right to purchase sophisticated weaponry, an absolute necessity when it comes to a firefight in closed environs. The reasons cited were overshooting of the budget.

The 26/11 attacks on Mumbai were an eye-opener & a blessing in disguise for the NSG & the national security apparatus. Hope we really learn from these blunders…reminded me of Bob Dylan’s iconic song “……Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows, That too many people have died? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind!!

Benjamin Franklin couldn’t have been more apt when he wrote those famous lines! I happened to come across an interesting article in out of all places, the ET on the travails of war!! I also happened to watch the brilliant movie The Thin Red Line by Terrence Malick.  Just goes on to prove that out of intense agony, bloodshed, pain arises intense philosophy. A couple of poems penned down from the WWI era which really makes us think:

“If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed. A dust whom England first shaped, made aware;

Gave once her flowers to love, her ways to roam;

A body of England’s breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.”

Rupert Brooke


In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved and now we lie

In Flanders fields.”

John McCrae


” You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye,

Who cheer when coldier lads march by,

Sneak home and pray you never know

The hell when youth and laughter go.”

Siegfried Sassoon

An Inconvenient Truth

I happened to catch up on the widely acclaimed movie by Al Gore, a couple of days back. I have been quite sensitive about environmental issues since my college days & have been an active Greenpeace India member for the last 5 years. But then, this is something I had definitely not bargained for….if this is how we keep on abusing our fragile planet, Doomsday is not very far off!!

Former Vice-President of the US, Al Gore brilliantly portrays the damage we human beings have already done & are continuing to do to the environment. What is even more unnerving is the absolute lack of political will across countries to do something about it!! To start off with, here are a few pointers as to how we can try & bring about some change to mitigate the impact. Remember, the old adage, “Charity begins at home!”

#1 Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb – CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

#2 Clean or replace filters on your air conditioner – Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

#3 Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket – You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple action. You can save another 550 pounds per year by setting the thermostat no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

#4 Turn off electronic devices you’re not using – Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo, and computer when you’re not using them will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

#5 Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them – Even when turned off, things like hairdryers, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy. In fact, the energy used to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption and spews 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year!

#6 Plant a tree – A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15%.

#7 Avoid heavily packaged products – You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.

#8 Keep your car tuned up – Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.

#9 Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated – Proper inflation can improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Since every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, every increase in fuel efficiency makes a difference!

#10 When it is time for a new car, choose a more fuel efficient vehicle – You can save 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year if your new car gets only 3 miles per gallon more than your current one. You can get up to 60 miles per gallon with a hybrid!

Developing countries like India are & will continue to be the worst affected by the impact of global warming. It’s high time, we responsible citizens do something about this. For starters, I would suggest people to watch the movie & be better informed about the catastrophe that is gradually unwinding itself.

For people addicted to the internet, here is something what you can do. Check out www.climateprediction.net . This is  the world’s largest climate forecasting experiment wherein the power of the internet is most effectively harnessed. In layman’s terms – you get to donate some amount of your computer processor time & resource to help simulate the climatic models & experiments that are being conducted by the Oxford University’s Department of Atmospheric Physics. Once a person is registered with them, you get to install a software & based on your computer configuration some amount of work is assigned to your machine. You do not have to do anything, while your computer is in use the simulation is being carried out in the back end. At the end of a stipulated period of time, the work done on your computer is uploaded on the servers at their end & you get to earn credit points. Not that it matters much tangibly, but then you get to do your own small bit for this gargantuan endeavor. I was quite appalled to see only 171 users from India who have signed up for this. In a country of a billion people & where internet penetration is quite high in the urban areas, I am sure we can do better than this.

Let’s all give it our best shot before it’s too little, too late! Adios!!

       “If the radiance of a ten thousand suns

        were to burst into the sky

        that would perhaps be like

        the splendour of the Mighty One. “

On July 16 1945, when the first atom bomb was experimentally exploded in the desert of Alamogordo, New Mexico & as the stupendous conflagration lit up the entire sky, Robert Julius Oppenheimer, standing ten thousand yards away, began to hum spontaneously, the above lines from the Bhagavad Gita.

       Cutting down to the present day in the Indian context – the Left are out to prove a point with their ideology against “US Imperialism” with regards to the Indo-US nuke deal. I sometimes wonder what it is it that they are after? Is it a knee-jerk reaction that they are experiencing, especially since the US is involved or is it genuine concern for India’s sovereignity? Well, if its the latter I think they are trying to hoodwink the average Indian – what with one of their prominent comrades openly proclaiming support & apparent justification for China’s attack on India’s borders during the Indo-China war of 1962.

       They really need & could do with “The Mighty One”  someone who can show them the way out of the mess of ideologies that they have woven themselves into.

      I happened to catch up with a recent episode on Devil’s Advocate – a primetime show on CNN IBN, hosted by Karan Thapar. Couldn’t have asked for anything better! Check it out!

Well, am back after a pretty long hiatus….the mind has not really got to wander of late & therefore a paucity of quality intellections, I guess!!

          Had been to NJ out of compulsion…but then am not here to regret it! It was here, in NJ that I got to experience my first interaction with a Pakistani – a Khan from Lahore, one evening!! Thought of penning down the excerpts of my conversation with him at his place in Lawrenceville, NJ.

Khan: “Good Evening, where you from?”

Me: “Evening, am from Kolkata , India…out here on work!”

Khan: “Oh I see, you are a bangali babu, is it? Kolkata…was that part of Bangladesh(East Pakistan) earlier?”

Me: “(wtf)!! Yes, I am a Bengali…oh no, Kolkata was never a part of Bangladesh!!”

Khan: “I see…so where do you work?”

Me: “Am working for Dow Jones out here…as an employee of Cognizant!”

Khan:” Ok…Software guy…eh!?! So, you must be watching Bollywood movies…?”

Me: “Yes, I do..but am not a regular at it!”

Khan:”You must have seen Rajesh Khanna in…Anand…Babu Moshai…(smiles)!!”

Me:”Yes, but not the whole movie..!”

Khan:” How about Pakeezah….don’t tell me you have not watched it!!…Man, Pakeezah was brilliant…Meena Kumari, Raj Kumar….Inshallah! When will we get to see another like that? Meena Kumari…she was what passion was all about!!”

Me:”I plead ignorance, Mr. Khan but have just heard of the movie…!”

Khan:” Hmmm….so are you a fan of SRK?”

Me:”(cursing him under my breath)…Oh not much…I would prefer Amir Khan, I guess..!!”

Khan:”(smiles)”

.

.

.

Khan:”Its getting late…hope you liked the brownie..?”

Me:”It was awesome…wouldn’t mind dropping in for more!!”

Khan:”You are most welcome, my boy!! Good Night…Allah Hafeez..!”

Me:”Good night…Allah Hafeez!”

     Well, talk of confidence-building-measures (CBMs) between the two countries & all the parleys between our governments..!! That I guess, speaks volumes about the present scenario between the two countries..what with Kolkata being at one time a part of Bangladesh-which reflects the average Pakistani’s utter disregard for the territorial integrity of India…& his passion for Bollywood icons & their films. 

 

 

 

It had to happen. And it happened. But it happened so elegantly, so smoothly, so unabrasively that Marx, had he been alive, would have died of shock. Rest in Peace..!!

    Marx had a great apprehension about the future of Communism. In his much acclaimed, Manifesto of the Communist Party, he wrote, “A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of Communism. All the powers that be have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise the spectre: Pope & Czar, Metternich & Guizot, French radicals & German Police spies.”  In spite of his apprehensions Communism did survive & flourish in Europe. In fact it cost the Czar & his family their lives in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution. Communism conquered half the world till 1991 when the death knoll was sounded by none other than Mikhail Gorbachev, the last of the mighty Soviet Premiers.

         In spite of his profundity & erudition, I am pretty sure that Marx had never estimated the suppleness of mind & skill of a Bangali Bhadrolok belonging to the priestly class of Bengal. Yes, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is doing exactly what Gorbachev did about a decade & half back. In an interview to an Indian daily not long back he said, “What we are practising here is Capitalism. Socialism cannot be created in the given situation even if we preach it. I am a realist & not a fool.” Bravo…! I am sure it is music of the highest octave to capitalists (read Opportunists) like me!! He repudiated the Marxian thesis that “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle. Freeman & slave, patrician & plebeian, in a word oppresor & oppressed stood in constant opposition to one another, carrying on an uninterrupted fight – a fight that ended either in revolutionary reconstitution of society at large or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”

        My sincere apologies to my readers if I sound a trifle trite after all these months, but if Singur & Nandigram are anything to go by in Bengal’s recent turbulence Mr. Bhattacharjee has denied the inherent contradiction between capital & labour by collaborating with Capitalists(read TATAs, SALIM Group) of the highest order. In doing so, he openly acknowledges the fact that erstwhile Marxists & Communists are nothing but prisoners of their own ideology, which perhaps is better off in bookshelves & debate motions. Its time perhaps CPI-M should read as Capitalists’ Party of India-Marketists!!

Of Soldiers & Heroes

General Douglas MacArthur once made this famous comment, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.” He was probably talking about a time when honour, bravado, chivalry were facets to live for & die by. Not anymore, I guess.

   I came across this article in the newspaper a couple of days back of Captain Bana Singh , the only living Param Vir Chakra awardee today who happens to make do with a “princely” sum of Rs. 166 a month as honorarium from the state government of J&K.  General MacArthur couldn’t have been more apt…it is only today that Captain Singh is in the news. Am very sure our generation or even the generation of yore never heard of him & his breed.

      Then there was this issue of whether the serving chiefs of the armed forces(Army, Air Force & Navy) should be exempted from security frisking at the airports. Much to the anguish of every sane & rational Indian, the Ministry of Home Affairs turned down this petition filed by the Defence Ministry – citing reasons that this request might give rise to other “similar” requests from other quarters. To add insult to injury, our honourable politicians & MPs – who very often have a dubious background & in certain cases even there extended family members are exempted from this “ordeal”.

        Fathom this – Our government is not very comfortable trusting people who have been entrusted with the job of ensuring the country’s security!!!

         I met up with a close friend of mine from school after almost a decade! He is a Major in the Infantry arm of the Indian Army currently posted at the front. When I asked him for his comments on all this….he gave me a curt reply,” Writs, am not there to fight for my country, am there to ensure the safety of the men under my command!!” Incidentally, the credo of the Indian Military Academy goes like this “The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time.”

   The times they sure are a changin’…….!!