Sunday, March 28, 2004

Appalling reactions

The External Affairs Ministry said India was ‘appalled’ by the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. An Israeli Air Force helicopter gunship fired three missiles and rid the Palestinian militant movement of its “spiritual leader” a few days ago.

Why? This killing would only accelerate the vicious cycle of violence in the Middle East. But shouldn’t we leave that to Israel, which would bear the brunt of Palestinian outrage and human bombs. Or should we object to killing of terrorist leaders by any country and call it appalling?

Yes you read right. Yassin was the leader of a terrorist organisation that turned teenage boys and young girls into live bombs. A woman would walk into a restaurant and blow herself to kill people. A boy would get on a bus and blow up himself to kill 20 other office-goers for the Palestinian cause.

While the world must offer unflinching support to the Palestinian people in their struggle for end of occupation and their right to live in peace, it has to distinguish between the struggle and mindless killing of innocent minds.

Sheikh Yassin is from the same extremist school of thought as Ayman al-Zawahiri, Ossama bin Laden’s right hand man. Al-Zawahiri went on to found the Islamic Jihad in Egypt, which has ended up killing hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, including Anwar al-Sadat. He and Osama bin Laden have founded the world’s biggest terrorist organisation —al-Qaeda.

Yassin began Hamas, which has been involved in an armed struggle with Israel. He was the modern-day mastermind of suicide bombings. He was no Yasser Arafat, who also is headstrong and has even led an armed struggle.

But Arafat accepts that negotiations do happen and that enemies do sit across the table and talk.
Yassin never believed in peace.

He was wrongly referred as a spiritual leader. He was the leader who did not recognise Israel’s right to exist. He wanted all of the land for Hamas. He wanted to send death to Jews. In the process, he ended up killing more Palestinians than Israeli Jews. Death caught up with him.

The world has been outraged over the use of children as soldiers in wars in Africa. Yassin was not just using them as soldiers but also as weapons. The world is better place without a terrorist mastermind like him. His death can’t be so appalling. His death saves the world the pain of hundred other deaths.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Toffee is poisoned kid!

The US decision to designate Pakistan as a Major Non-NATO Ally evoked strong reactions in India, first in Opposition and then in the government. The latter didn’t question the US decision but objected to not being kept in the loop.

NATO is North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, a group of countries in Europe led by US who treat an attack on a member as one on all. Then there are countries which are not in NATO but get defence aid from the US on priority like Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines. Pakistan has just joined this club.

So should we behave like the child who didn’t get the toffee?
The answer is NO. We ain't no kid.

Immature reactions borne out of our Pakistan-hyphenated view of the world has led Uncle Sam to give India the same status. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, when asked at a press briefing on Monday about Washington's recent decision, said: “I think we made it clear that we’re willing to explore the same possibility of similar cooperation with India.”

Should we be happy that we too would get toffee? Answer is NO. We ain't no kid.

The US decision to make Pakistan a MNNA, as some newspapers abbreviated the status, should not worry New Delhi. It’s Islamabad that has to worry about this.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says: “This decision underscored the importance of Pakistan's role in the war against international terrorism, particularly in the continuing fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”

Well, and the timing too underscored a lot of things. The US-Pakistan Army joint action in the South Waziristan and parts of NWFP has led to unrest among the local population.

These areas have never known or recognised any Pakistani law or government, though they are part of Pakistan. Today they see Pakistani political agents, Pakistani military and US troops in overdrive in their villages and hillocks.

The US believes these tribals have protected and sheltered its enemy no. 1 Osama bin Laden. The unrest in these areas could have rippled on to other parts of the country. The MNNA was to turn the talking point while the gunbattle raged in Waziristan. To make Pakistanis be proud of something they have and India doesn’t. The toffee.

The treaty would just help calm the Pakistani Opposition, which had been accusing President General Pervez Musharraf of “sellout”. Now the general can claim he is getting good price. But he must not forget the status comes with a price tag. US troops are permanently stationed in most of the so-called MNNAs including Japan. The US already has considerable US military presence in Pakistan. This treaty would legitimise it.

If you have foreign forces based on your land, history has it, the perception of security may be high, but in reality sovereignty is compromised and so is defence.

The toffee is poisoned, kid.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Holi goes to court

The Supreme Colour Court Monday issued notices to the Election Commission of India and nearly 157 political parties for violating the Unified Colour Code by holding Election in the time of Holi. According to the code, all Indian festivals would maintain a comfortable distance from one another.

Holi the festival approached the court early today though it had announced its intentions on Sunday evening itself. By Sunday evening it was becoming clear that many participants were busy planning political rallies and some were mixing Holi with politics.

The Election Commission and all the major political parties have denied the allegation and said it was Holi that fell in the midst of democracy's biggest festival. Two of the biggest political parties termed Holi's allegations ridiculous saying technically the Election Fest was occurring over a month after the Holi.

Holi, on the other hand, claimed the colours of politics clashed with its colours and blamed the lacklustre celebrations on the parties.

It also attacked the parties for showing bias towards some colours and criticised them for politicising a festival meant for all Indians.

At a press conference called today: "The BJP's mix of saffron 70 per cent saffron and 30 per cent green is a sham. It is nearly 93 per cent saffron." Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati were rapped for monocracy in colour scheme. Holi said: "What's with this one colour per party thing, huh? It's nothing but dividing colours."

Holi also criticised the Congress for what it called fooling people. "This party has 33 per cent white, which is not a colour used in Holi. In fact, white is not a colour."

Congress spokesman Capall Fibbal said that Holi needed to brush up its general knowledge. "I think this Holi fellow meant black. White is a colour. Truth is white is the root of all colours and when all colours meet they become white. Black on the other hand means absence of any colour."

Other festivals including religious ones like Diwali and Dussehra have supported Holi's stand. Mahashivratri refused a comment saying it was a non-issue. Makar Sankranti was not available for comment.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

National Highway is a Robbery, Vandana ma'am says so

I love environment. I mean it's nice saving the planet and stuff. I live in here, you know, and I want it to be kinda safe. That makes me respect people who respect nature, birds and Vandana Shiva. The earth has existed for millions of years and I give Greenpeace its due credit. But Vandana ma'am also derserves full praise.

She saves the earth and things. Like Lord Shiva is the god of destruction, Vandana Shiva is the goddess of anti-destruction. And this news item about Vandana made me swell proud of environmentalists. No wonder she's angry as hell at this Golden Quadrilateral stuff. "A recipe for displacement and uprooting of the people and ecosystems," Vandana ma'am says.

"The highways is totally against the common man and is driven by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and ADB which funded the projects only to create markets for automobiles," she said

She was speaking after releasing a report "Highway Robbery: Shining India Campaign and the Price the People Pay," in New Delhi on Tuesday.

That's what we call courage and stuff: a lone woman standing against the Prime Minister's pet project. I mean imagine the number of trees being cut, the number of species of grass being uprooted, people who live on the roadside being removed just to widen these blasted roads.

Where there is a road, there are automobiles. Where there are automobiles, there is pollution. It's a vicious circle, you know. And show me one person who loves pollution. No, na?

According to Vandana ma'am estimate the highways would displace over 200,000 people immediately and would leave millions of people jobless.

Show me one guy who loves unemployment. I mean is the government trying to unemploy millions of people? At this rate they'll unemploy the whole country, I tell ya. Plus the government is making 200,000 people homeless and that too immediately. Serious stuff, man.

And mine and Vandana ma'am heart goes out for the horses and bulls, who used to pulls carts. They too are unemployed. "The western model does not fit in our system as it marginalises many of the transportation modes which we had in the country since ages," she rightly says.

"There is no place even for "jugaad" (a make-shift fourwheeler commonly used in villages for transportation), she said. Now you'll say jugaads are one of the most polluting vehicles put together by human beings. But if it has the approval of Vandana ma'am, they must be good for the country. We must love jugaad.

And to save jugaad we must not make roads and let western countries sell cars here. I mean we can all fly, make our own planes. After all we invented jugaad, right?

I am dying to see the day when I would fly to office every morning. You can't fly a jugaad plane to long distances. No problem, we'll walk till Hyderabad and then fly to Chennai from there. Nice, na? Trains? No we have to stop using them because if you encourage trains they'll start expanding train networks with finances from World Bank and ADB. And people will be uprooted. Vandana ma'am won't like it.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

India fails Sonu Nigam, so he's leaving

Failure makes a mess of the one who fails. Sonu Nigam's second try at acting in Love in Nepal has failed. The film hasn't worked. E. L. Kersten once said "The secret of success is knowing whom to blame for your failure."

Guess who Sonu is blaming for his failure? India, the country. Yes you read right.

Sonu Nigam doesn't want to be here anymore. He is going to the US and wishes to base himself there. According to him, India does not have opportunities and Indians don't believe in talent. They believe in hype, Sony says.

Sonu Nigam became a singing sensation at a very young age and that happened in India. He became a millionaire before he turned 20 and that happened in India.

In fact he was offered a role in a big budget film just because he was a successful singer and that too happened in India. He was offered lead role in a film even though his first outing had bombed, in India. He was offered another lead role in another film, which has just bombed.

And the man, now 30, says India has no opportunity. Indians go by hype and talent does not matter.

He is angry that he was not invited to the launch party of a film album, he has sung a song for.

Well, abuse the one who didn't invite you young man. India is doing fine. India has made you big enough to dream about a singing career in the US of A. It was the opportunity in India that opened the doors for the international album you are about to cut , Sonu.

And as far as hype goes, we have not beaten the US yet. India has rejected Resident God Amitabh Bachchan whenever he tried to pass crap as quality. You aren’t God yet and no you wish to be Non-Resident. India wishes you best of luck.

Monday, March 08, 2004

God angry over Tihar reports

The Hell Area Development Authority (HADA) has strongly reacted to recent reports appearing in newspapers comparing conditions in Tihar Jail to hell. Spokesperson for Indian affairs Mr Chitragupta Shrivastava said HADA would seek legal course of action if Indian media continued comparing the godforsaken Tihar Jail with Hell, the heavenly prison.

"The comparison with Tihar is giving a bad name to Hell. Tihar is not just pathetic it's ridiculous," he said. Mr Chitragupta, known for his sense of humour, hurried to add: "And by the way we don't have murderers escaping all the time" hinting at the Sher Singh Rana escape from Tihar.

"Living conditions in hell are far superior to those in Tihar Jail. Though we admit that sometimes two or three people have to share a cell, the Hell will never come down to the level of Tihar. The reports spread a fallacy and it must stop," he said.

He said God too was furious at the aspersions cast by the Indian media. "We do not want to make false claims but inquiry committees on earth itself have detailed how bad the situation in Tihar," he told a crowded press conference flashing a copy of a report.

"This is not our inquiry. A special commission of inquiry, appointed after the 1995 death of Rajan Pillai, has said that the 10,000 inmates held in Tihar endured serious health hazards, including overcrowding, appalling sanitary facilities, and a shortage of medical staff," Mr Chitragupta said.

said we have no shortage of doctors; some really good ones end up here. "And our sanitary conditions are better than many five star hotels down there, hello. And how does one compare the Tihar mess with our swanky cafeteria?"

"This is a deliberated attempt to destroy our image. And we shall not sit silent, not any more. We haven't forgotten the days when civilised people even on that scum of an earth used to meet and say Hello to each other. Now they say hi. Everybody thinks there's something wrong with hell because of negative publicity," Narada Mooni, Information and Broadcasting Minister in the Heavenly regime, said.

"Hell is a punishment place in the sense that it doesn't have centralised air-conditioning like heaven does. But we do have decent air coolers. We do not believe in torture. Punishment too must have compassion. We recently stopped screening Guddu Dhanoa-directed films here, because it was too harsh on them. We have discontinued the use of Kumar Sanu songs too. We are alive to the problems of the dead," he explained.

He attributed the overcrowding is jail to the worsening law and order situation on earth. "There are so many killings and rapes happening on earth that we have difficulty accommodating all of them. And we have been working on constructing more living space," he said.

HADA has recently signed an MoU with Swarg Residents Welfare Association (SRWA) to take over large parts of heavenly lands, lying unused for years.

SRWA spokeswoman Pavitra Paapiya confirmed the HADA claims. "Occupancy has been falling this side of the town for quite some time. Maintaining these large real estate costs hell of a lot of money. Looking at the rate of criminal sins committed down there, we do not expect many people in near future. So we have decided to lease out Sectors 5 to 15 to HADA."

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Hell decision to strengthen democracy

In a significant development up above the sky, the authorities in Hell-Heaven Welfare Committee (HHWC) announced that people need not go to hell for lying, an offence recently degraded to the Simple Offences category.

This offence was earlier placed under serious offences category and punished with 10 years in hell and then another few years back on the earth as a crow. The punishment was misreported down on the planet as Jhooth Bole Kauva Kaate (One who lies is bitten by a crow).

HHWC director Mr Chitragupta said God, the ruler of all, was of the view that some of the laws were outdated and must change with time. “Lying is so common. Down there everyone’s lying. In fact some people lie for other’s good,” Chitragupta quoted God as saying.

“It is difficult to make a distinction every time one lies and our database is out of space even before the accounting begins in the evening,” Mr Chitragupta said adding “Taking lying off the serious offences category is not only ethical but also practical.

But our sources said Mr Chitragupta was just reading out the official version while the real reasons was simple: overcrowding.

“God was furious when he read about hell’s comparison with Tihar Jail down there on earth even though living conditions in hell are definitely better. Though we admit that sometimes two-to-three people have to share a cell. That does not mean it’s become Tihar,” an under-secretary in the Hell Management & Resources Division said.

“Besides, for lack of space hell-deserving candidates like rapists and murderers have to be put up in luxury guesthouses because there’s no space in hell. The recycling machines are working overtime to turn people into other species and send them back to earth. But it takes time to make space for folks. And of late we have seen an increase in number of murderers, terrorists and rapists. Is everything okay down there?” she said, on condition of anonymity. (The guesthouses are supposed to house undertrials, and not those with confirmed ticket to heaven or hell, he explained.)

Her counterpart in heaven, who also requested anonymity, said too many politicians from India have flouted the rules in the past so the hell-for-lying rule was more an exception. Also, it had a wrong impression on inmates on both sides.

“The other day we had this pot-bellied politician who lied even here. At the registration counter he claimed he’s Laloo Prasad Yadav and enjoyed the hospitality at the guesthouse. We later found out that Mr Yadav is hale and hearty and addressing rallies on earth. But we could not shift him to hell because a) there was no space and b) he turned out to be a relative of a politician who had earlier managed his own transfer from hell to heaven on health grounds,” he narrated a story.

Meanwhile, this decision has evoked joy among inmates in hell. On planet earth, politicians have heaved a sigh of relief, especially in two of the world’s largest democracies: India and United States of America. Both countries are going for elections this year. “Thank God. Now we can campaign without any guilt and fear. This decision will certainly benefit the election process and strengthen democracy,” Jhoothalal B. Sharma, a prominent Indian politician said.

A White House press release said that President Bush had always believed God would side with America. “President is pleased to hear the developments upstairs. He and his good friend Tony Blair, who are accused of lying about weapons of mass destruction, stand vindicated. He has always believed lying was no crime.” There were, however, no comments from 10, Downing Street.