Tag Archives: India

India calls off talks with Pakistan: Self goal or a show of strength?

The Narendra Modi government has cancelled Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan to protest against a meeting between Kashmiri separatist leaders and Islamabad’s envoy to New Delhi.

In The Indian Express, Praveen Swami calls the move a self goal, saying that New Delhi is shutting off life support to secret dialogue on Kashmir dating back 10 years and more.

On the NDTV website, Sidharth Varadarajan rues that Modi’s unpredictable diplomatic bang has ended in a shabby and all too predictable whimper.

Kanchan Gupta, on the other hand, finds the decision predictable as he writes in ABP Live: That India with a new Government that is far more resolute and clear-headed than its predecessor regime would react in this manner was a foregone conclusion


Lokpal tabled in Parliament

View the story “Lokpal Bill tabled in Parliament” on Storify]

Barkha Dutt on the Radia tapes – The bark trumped the byte

On Tuesday night, Barkha Dutt went on air to do something we wish our politicians were brave enough to do – To face questions from a panel of editors on her role in the Niira Radia tapes.

It would have been the perfect retort to the mob flooding social networking sites demanding answers from the NDTV Group Editor, mocking her with Twitter hashtags like #Barkhagate and crying out for more coverage on the tapes.

The debate that the NDTV proudly said was unedited, however, just showed up the cracks in Television debates as we know it in India.

The loudest one (Barkha, in this instance) interrupted the rest; her sentences were so long that you forgot how it began before it ended; and more than one person spoke up when uncomfortable questions came up.

Read the rest of the entry

What a crying shame!

We have spent Rs 75000-odd crores, according to some estimates, on the Commonwealth Games to heap shame on ourselves. How Indian indeed!

On Thursday, the BBC has put up images of the Commonwealth Games village that will make any self-respecting Indian’s head bow in shame.

Doesn’t it makes us all wonder why the government went chasing after the rights of a Games that evokes such little passion in the first place? After all, this was no Olympics, no Asian Games, no FIFA World Cup, no T20 World Cup even.

The less said about the planning too, the better.

Funds were released late, despite us winning the bid in 2003. And once they were cleared, no proper organisational structure was put in place.

Whatever happened to that very Indian trait – the need to weave an intricate bureaucratic web ALWAYS? Our babus and ministers display an undying love for it when there is little need. At a time when we needed a clearly thought out hierarchy the most, though, almost no effort was made.

Instead, we kept it simple. Our idea of a successful organising committee was having Suresh Kalmadi at the helm. Does more need to be said?

The Delhi government and various lower-level committees that were involved in this massive non-exercise shouldn’t also be forgotten. Their list of failures are so long that it even winds its way via the doorsteps of India’s legendary metro man E Sreedharan, whose team was given such a tight deadline that they found themselves dealing with a sad mishap that claimed lives.

Sitting at the head of this ruinous extravaganza was a Prime Minister, who kept a studious distance from this all. The rest of the world might call him wise, but what was the wisdom in his approach of considered silence till today?

Worst of all, we couldn’t even cobble together a decent bunch of spokesmen when the shit hit the ceiling.

Oops! Dangerous word that – the ceiling. But I am getting away from my point. Couldn’t we at least spot our Lalit Bhanots and shield them from the world media and the microphones then?

Since it is the queen’s games, let me end by posing the moot question once again – why at all did we have to get into this right royal mess?

The lesson we Indians must learn at least now is to avoid such attempts at advertisement in future.

Yes, in incredible India, bribes can be taken and given; corners can be cut; deadlines can be missed and power can be abused – but not on the world stage, please.

R Rajesh Kumar

Do we really need Sachin’s blood?

Sachin Tendulkar

No need for him to be another baba

Note: A day after this article was published on Sify, Sachin on Saturday (July 24) clarified that there won’t be any blood in the book. Read on to find out why it would have been an unnecessarily undignified act by the little champion, if he had allowed the publishers to go ahead with their original plan.

Almost 21 years ago, it was Waqar Younis who made the then 17-year-old Sachin Tendulkar spill blood in his debut Test with an awkward bouncer.

Now, it is the turn of a publisher.

For those of you who haven’t heard the news already, Kraken Media, the publishers of Tendulkar Opus, plan to print 10 deluxe copies of their 37kg tome with a signature page that “will be mixed with Sachin’s blood – mixed into the paper pulp so it’s a red resin”.

The editions, which have already been pre-ordered, are priced at $75000 each (Rs 35 lakhs at the current rate) and will also feature a DNA profile of the little champion generated from his saliva and more than 1,500 pictures, with each of the 852 pages being edged in gold leaf.

Kraken Media’s chief executive Karl Fowler explained the decision to the UK-based Guardian in this manner: “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s not to everyone’s taste and some may think it’s a bit weird. But the key thing here is that Sachin Tendulkar to millions of people is a religious icon. And we thought how, in a publishing form, can you get as close to your god as possible?”

Certainly, they have hit upon quite an idea indeed!

Even Deigo Maradona, the other sporting star whose autobiography was touted as an Opus, hasn’t been subjected to this kind of hagiography.

Agreed the cause is good. The Rs 3.5 crores raised from the deluxe-edition sale will go towards building a school in Mumbai.

Agreed also that the market for sports books in India, where Sachin has his biggest fan following, is rather thin.

I am reminded in this context of a friend of mine who ended up spending lakhs of rupees from his own pocket to get his biography on Prakash Padukone, the greatest badminton player India has produced, published. Passion, in his case, only served to burn a gaping hole in his purse.

And of a senior colleague, who was offered a paltry Rs 10000 to do a ‘quickie’ on one of our current batting greats by a publishing major because anything more elaborate and costlier wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

With the sports publishing scene in India being this bleak, Sachin and Kraken Media might have felt (and justifiably so) that it made sense to target just an exclusive clientele instead of reaching out to the hoi polloi.

Finding 10 people capable of forking out Rs 3.5 crore was definitely an easier task for them than launching a search for a million readers willing to part with Rs 350 and buy the book.

Be that as it may, why at all let Sachin’s blood seep into its pages?

Funnily, the batting great was reported to have said that he wanted us to see it just as a “mind-blowing” tribute.

But don’t you feel that while it might behove the leaders of a cult, Sachin has little need to lend his name and his blood to something this shamanistic?

Even his bosom pal Vinod Kambli was shocked enough into admitting that “This is something you could have expected from a Vinod Kambli and not Sachin Tendulkar.”

For once, he  is right.

This is an unnecessarily undignified act for Sachin, whose career has been built on the bedrock of dignity.

With February 2011 being the launch date of the book, the little champion will be well advised to have a relook at this decision of his.

Just to drive home the point once again, Sachin…

Spilling blood on the field is one matter; spilling it in a book for a publisher who considers you a “religion icon” on the strength of your skill with the willow is quite another.

Don’t you all agree too?

R Rajesh Kumar

Will we inherit the dearth?

Hinduism & its Military Ethos

Hinduism & its Military Ethos

Superpower in waiting.  That’s how many of us would like to describe India. An economic juggernaut, a state with nuclear weapons, waiting to take its rightful place at the world’s top table.

Air Marshal (retd) RK Nehra believes that wait is likely to be a long one.

Because, thanks to Buddhism, the once martial Hindus, who still are a majority in Hindustan, have now become peace-loving wimps.

And a ‘soft state’ can never become a superpower, it will always be a waiter at the top table, if that.

I must confess when I first heard about his book, Hinduism and its military ethos, I was less than impressed.

The book jacket, which portrayed a pale brick wall, or pavement, with a crack running down the middle, did nothing to change that impression.

But I should have known not to judge a book by its title, or its cover.

Air Marshal Nehra has obviously spent a lot of time and energy studying not just Hinduism, but every major religion of the world.

He starts by examining the India-born religions, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, before moving on to   describe the Judaic religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – in a nutshell. (All this, in 13 pages of crisp text.)

He then concludes that “Hinduism,  ‘the first formal religion of mankind’, remained confined to Bharat (India) while Christianity and Islam spread rapidly across the world simply because of the ‘stark simplicity of the creeds of the two faiths. These are easy to understand by laymen with average, (or even below average) intelligence. By comparison, Hindu philosophy is highly complex and their view of life difficult to understand.”

But wait, I digress.

Nehra’s argument is essentially simple: We as a nation lack the killer instinct. We lack the ruthlessness, the cunning, the immorality needed to become a true world power.

And he blames Buddhism for our recent meekness.

‘Of the recorded Hindu history of around 2,300 years, Bharat was under the jackboots of slavery for some 1300 years—a dubious record.’

The ancient Hindus, he says, ‘were a set of martial people who lived by the sword. Somewhere along the line, Hindus lost their way and their martial spirit…(they) developed a deluded sense of Dharma under the influence of Buddhism, and that was the main reason for their downfall.’

While the Bhagvad Gita emphasises the duty to engage in holy (righteous) war, Buddhism and Jainism injected self-defeating concepts like ‘ahimsa, (non-violence), shanti (peace) and satya (truth) into the Hindu psyche,  ‘with disastrous results,’ argues Nehra.

It is that mindset, he says, which produces  ‘patriotic songs’ which say things like: Duniya ka zulum sehna, aur munh se kuch na kehna,’ which loosely translated means: “it is a great tradition of ours to bear all type and manner of atrocities, without ever complaining.

“In addition to ahimsa, another insignia fondly, forcedly and firmly put on the Hindu lapel is that of ‘Tolerance’. It is difficult to utter the ‘Hindu’ word, without uttering ‘tolerance’ in the same breath,” he says.

“The Hindu is being constantly told that his religion and scriptures require him to be ‘tolerant’. It is generally projected as if Hinduism has no existence independent of tolerance; a Hindu should ‘walk’ tolerance, he should ‘talk’ tolerance. During TV debates, one often hears Hindu leaders, both pseudo-secularists and ‘communal’, going hysterical about ‘Hindu Tolerance’. ”

But yet in the Ramayana, he notes,  ‘Laxman displays extreme intolerance in cutting off nose of a woman, Surpanakha. What was her fault? She had only made a marriage proposal to Laxman, who at that time, was without his wife. In any case, those days, rulers used to have multiple wives.’

While in the Mahabharata, Arjun, at Krishna’s behest, killed Karna when he was helpless. Bhima, again at Krishna’s urging, hit Duryodhana on the thigh with his mace, violating prevailing norms of combat.

Thus, ‘the projected tolerance of Hindus, born out of bogus spirituality, is a myth. It is an artificial web woven round the Hindus by people with base instinct and baser intentions,’ he concludes.

Superpower? Top table? Not just yet.

The meek, as they say, will inherit the dearth.

Read Excerpts: Where’s our self-respect? | A clerk, a typewriter, and Pakistan

Ramananda Sengupta

Population needn’t be a bad word

India's burgeoning population has seen a five-fold increase over the last 100 years and will surpass that of China by 2050.

World Population Day

Yet another World Population Day (July 11) has passed us by.  Many eyebrows would be raised if I were to argue that our government should de-control population growth,  just like how it decontrolled oil and gas prices.

But it is high time we actually considered launching a procreation drive.

We launched the population control programme decades ago to shape a ‘secure future’ for the country. The result: Thousands of nuclear families with one child each, children who  don’t know the value of sharing.

It’s time we encouraged bigger families, with many children.

Before you start hurling stones at me for expressing such a ‘wayward’ view, try answer this question: Is population a menace?

A ‘yes’ means You and I are a menace.  It means our presence is a threat not only to the country, but to the universe because we eat up the resources and contribute to the so-called global warming.

But are we really a menace?

Who would have replaced the ageing workforce had we not been born?

Who would have maintained the momentum of the country’s growth?

Our  country is lucky because we were born irrespective of its anti-population growth drive.

Now the crucial question: Who will replace us and support the country when we become old,  if the government goes ahead with the one child norm?

Recently, an Australian scientist said human beings would be extinct in the next 100 years because of over population and lack of natural resources to support it. But his argument doesn’t hold much water. The human race will never be extinct due to over population and its consequences. It will disappear from the face of the earth due to man’s aversion to have children and, perhaps, infertility.

Why look down upon population? It can never be a burden to any country.

If anything, it is an asset. It will never keep a country poor. Instead, a country with a robust workforce is a treasure trove for the world.

It is the workforce of India that brought about the IT revolution in the country. It is this workforce that made the world turn toward India to outsource jobs to it, thereby making the country rich.

Let me remind you of what Infosys cofounder and Unique Identification Authority of India chairman Nandan Nilekani writes in his book Imagining India: “The idea of population as an asset rather than a burden has especially gained currency with the rise of knowledge-based industries such as IT, telecommunications and biotechnology in the 1970s. In fact, the information economy is the culmination of what the Industrial Revolution started — it has placed human capital front and center as the main driver of productivity and growth.”

But this workforce needs to be maintained and improved. For this, we need to decontrol, not control, the population.

Also to be borne in mind are the consequences of China’s successful one-child policy. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:  “The suicide rate of women in childbearing years (generally between 15 and 34) has increased considerably since the policy was implemented, especially in smaller Chinese cities. This is believed to be due to pressure to produce a single child, as it is usually desired to have a male child.”

So let’s dismiss all thoughts of controlling our population and and learn instead to be proud of it.

After all, it is our people who will make our nation a super power.

Salil Jose