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UPA’s Unlimited Political Buffoonery~ What price India pays for coalition politics

As days go by , the Unlimited Buffoonery of UPA  is more and more out on public display. It is high time to change the name of this dilapidated association of parties, ostensibly ruling the country to Unlimited Political Awkwardness.  Besides which, their inability to manage critical situations becomes almost pathetic in its display. Not only do they display ineptitude but they also refuse to accept blame and take responsibility.Rather, they try to throw it on others. Even worse is the fact that their such actions is putting the country and people in a dangerous situation, domestically and globally.

A motley assembly of people, united in their aim to retain power and oblivious to the damage they are doing. Is this the sort of government all Indians want in their country? An assembly which has been given the chance for the second time of governing the country and what have they done with it?

Let us take two recent cases in example. This is leaving aside the long roll call of scams. That is for another post.

One is the presentation of the recent railway budget. The RM Dinesh Trivedi had presented what seemed to be, as per most reports, a very sensible and judicial railway budget, aiming at restoring the health of the railways. It involved a moderate rise in taxes for all passengers of all classes. But owing to the sheer blackmailing tactics exerted by the coalition partner of UPA, Mamta Banerjee, He was compelled to put in  his papers and there was a rollback of the  measures. His crime was he did not follow the TMC’s advice in this matter. Heavy lies the head that wears the crown. Obviously a  tough choice between what you think is the right thing pragmatically and what politics dictates. At the end of the day, politics wins. The question here is for the sake of pandering to the whims of the domestic parties, something which could have benefitted the national railways was scuppered. Ultimately Railways suffers. Mamta and her party, once again displays their totally parochial and self obsessed behavior and why one should never depend on such self serving allies. Whatever respect I had for Mamta as a tough leader, who challenged the might of the commies, have been indelibly dented by her actions. In power, she seems as power hungry and manipulative as others who had been before her.  If UPA had any spine, they should have kicked out such coalition partners. They would have gained in respect amongst people. But who cares? It is only the “chair” that matters.  This is more on Dinesh Trivedi, A man whose style differs from his party >>

The second example is the controversial vote of India against Sri Lanka in the UN. There is more or less a consensus that India (through the UPA’s actions) have compromised their national interest for the sake of appeasement of domestic parties, this time DMK. That DMK has been a long time sympathiser and supporter of LTTE is a well known fact.  But,howsoever one may sympathise with the local SL tamils’ suffering, one cannot forget the fact that they are SL citizens. Their problems have to be sorted out by discussions and negotiations with the SL govt. That is the only way, in  my view.  India can only render humanitarian assistance. We cannot and should not make the terrible mistake of interference in another country’s affairs. Secondly, one cannot forget that whatever be their original aim, LTTE developed into the world’s deadliest terrorist organisation, killing innocents from both sides, killing India’s Rajiv Gandhi, killing and wiping out many of SL’s top leaders, creating a culture of terror and havoc. No human in his or her right senses, would support LTTE. Hatred begets Hatred, Not peace. Indians would and should take note of this. By accepting LTTE and supporters of LTTE, you are accepting terrorism and lose the moral grounds for condemning terrorist attacks in India. Hence by succumbing to DMK’s malicious blackmail, UPA has once again put our moral standing on terrorism in question.  Thirdly, the obvious movers of the vote  against SL were countries which had no hesitation in conducting wars and military operations in other countries in a high handed manner. Hence somewhat hypocritical. Is this what we would like to happen to us? Would we like our country to be overrun with armies of other countries for their benefit, at any time?Fourthly,  in an already threatening security scenario, with unstable neighbours on the west (Pakistan, Afghanistan) and threats of terrorism at a high,  China‘s expanding influence in Nepal, and Sri Lanka, besides Pakistan, this vote would make matters difficult. By doing so, we have literally pushed SL into the arms of China. An abstainment would have been a better decision.

Some say that SL has not done enough and may need to do more, in reparations towards the victims of the war against LTTE. Hence the vote. It may be true. SL being a victim of continuous and terrible terrorist attacks by LTTE, would have been hard put to control its reaction against them. But this is something which can be understood as an inevitable consequence of terrorism. Nothing right or wrong about it.  But India,  being a victim of terrorism, having been attack of countless terrorist attacks, (remember 21/11) and bombings, and even now the subject of numerous threats, be it Maoists or Kashmiri fundamentalists, Islamist groups or right wingers, should have been in a better position to understand this. Sadly, our government seems to be myopic and wholly at the mercy of their coalition partners. And hence, shamefully gives the appearance of not able to protect and manage national interests at all.

Ultimately, The chief point raised here is the dangers of coalition politics. Coalition politics becomes healthy when the partners use it for the benefit of the nation and not for self-interest.  They guide and offer advice on essential matters to the govt. But sadly, as these examples  and there are many more from the past show, Coalition partners are solely and shamelessly focussed on self interest rather than national interest. And the governing UPA is completely abject to this blackmail by its partners. This is a blot on democracy.

What should be the solutions?




2011 ~ A Tribute

The year 2011 has been a black year, in general, looking at the grievous events which have occured through the world.

In particularly, for the world of Art and Music, it has been a particularly painful year. So many greats passed on from this mortal earth after a lifetime, spent enriching the lives of us, people, who are otherwise caught up in the angst of life.Let me give my personal tribute to those who passed away this year, who i never knew personally but through their work, their persona, their deeds impacted me deeply.

These are the people, whom I loved seeing on the big screen, listening to their voices, feeling the passion they conveyed through their work and who just brought joy in our lives and dazzled us with their talent and sheer exuberance.

The year started on a truly sad note with the loss of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi , the great Hindustani music maestro and doyen, who rendered the unforgettable Mile Sur Mera Tumhara in January. Truly, his soulful, meditative, voice will live on through his recordings for generations to come.

IN November, Assamese great music Director and Singer, Bhupen hazarika sing passed away after a long struggle with illness. He gave us the brilliant music of Rudaali, amongst other.  The sad thing was, not many were aware that he was hospitalised for many months before he passed away. It was rather sad that such a great musician was ignored. However, in my heart and others like me as, he will live on..Dil Hum Hum Kare…

On the film scene, two of my favorite hindi film heroes and who won my heart from childhood, left this world. It is difficult to believe that Shammi Kapoor and Dev Anand, who were my epitome of style, class, beauty and acting are no more. They entertained us with their awesome films, dances, charm, and trademark style. Today’s heroes pale in comparison to these gentlemen. Shammi ji’s Teesri Manzil, his Yahoo..will forever echo in my ears and heart..His jumps, twists, that lock of hair falling across his face..

Dev Anand, the romantic..the Guide..who sang Tere Mere Sapne ..More than that, I just loved them.. The flamboyant, dashing, the trademark tilted head, the charm oozing out..

The year also saw the loss of Jagjit Singh, the king of ghazals in India. Totally sudden and unexpected it was. He remained passionate and committed to his art, irrespective of personal tragedies.. There are many famous ghazals he has rendered. But my special favorites are woh kaagaz ki kashti..

and Hoshwaalon ko khabar kya bekhudi kya cheez hai.. A song replete with the tenderness of love..

There were other famous personalities like Navin Nischol, Goga Kapoor and all who had passed away. Navin Nischol, who started out in films and went on to that riproaring comedy, Dekh Bhai Dekh. He became a part of the crazy, lovable family.

In case you dont know, amongst his many films, this classic song by Kishore Da was filmed on him…Raat kali ek khwaab mein..

A rather saddening and painful year for those of us who grew up listening and watching these legends..They will remain etched in my heart in those forms they presented to us..always..eternally young and alive.

Domestic Violence ~ Why we should believe

Violence of any kind is reprehensible. And Domestic violence more so, as it is enacted by a person to control, suppress and repress his/her wife/husband/partner/family member. Domestic violence includes spousal abuse, battering, intimate partner violence, physical, emotional and mental abuse, neglect, intimidation of subtle and overt kinds. There can be many, many types of violence, both overt and covert.

While occasional temper tantrums and   disagreements are routine part of everyday life, what differentiates DV is the systematic, continuous pattern of abuse which the spouse is subjected to. Secondly, the intention to control. It is a vicious cycle. The abuser seeks to control the abused person using any method including blackmail.

It is highly frequent but it is more difficult to establish and prove clearly owing to the fact, that it often occurs behind closed doors and secondly, the social position of the aggressor may render it difficult to publicise accusations. Especially, in a country like India, where many women find it difficult to handle the social stigma, it is very easy and natural to remain silent. So while there  may be a few which are publicised owing to various reasons, a majority of them may be unknown. Even in the cases of celeb cases, many times they fade off from public eye ( zeenat aman-mazhar khan, salman khan-aishwarya rai) probably owing to fears of reputation of the victim and for the sake of family. One never sees them being penalised for their actions.

While domestic violence is unarguably,a known  and sad reality of life for many women in India and in rest of the world, what is more shocking is the attitude by which people respond to accusations of domestic violence against women. While a few are supportive and positive, many are cynical, question the woman’s background, attitudes, leanings, skepticism. In the case of well known people who are victims, it is even worse.  In a recent conversation on twitter, one could obtain a sample of the responses  and glean the mindsets. The conversation is here.

In my view, Accusations of domestic violence should never be taken lightly. One should give benefit of doubt to the victim, while keeping in mind that every person  (including abuser) needs to be heard. An open mind set is required.  Cynicism and conditional support till the story is completely proven is technically fine but at end of day, in a genuine case, this would be really dehumanising as victim is left to fend for him/herself in a traumatising situation. Hence, i feel we can do a greater service to humanity by being supportive.Yes, there are and would be people who misuse the laws and sympathy of others by false cases, but does that mean we become cynical to everyone? Isn’t that a blot on our humanity? What is the point of giving support when the victim is no longer in need of it?

One has to understand, that given the sort of societal structure and importance for reputations in a country such as India,obtaining support from one’s own family is itself a challenging process. Many times, it is the family who degrades you and disrespects your needs for the sake of its reputation. So, as society members, why do we want to add on to that set of challenges? We have a choice. To be human. We should and must exercise it.

And for the abuser also, we have to be human. We need to understand the roots of the abuse. Many times childhood abuse/insecurities/psychological issues may be behind the perpetrator’s actions.  We must condemn the action of abuse but we must need to give help in the form of counselling. But, at the same time, if the relationship is not safe or healthy any longer, we need to ensure that the abuser does not get chances to victimise again. Hence, the need for publicity and legal action.  Abuse is cruel but it is equally bad being an abuser  or victim. We have to be fair to all.

Ultimately, in such cases, the law and investigating authorities would decide based on evidence. This may be a long drawn out fight with public scrutiny and inquisition, hence why so many hesitate to come forward. Even the courageous women who come forward, face such difficulties and flak. A recent case of Meena Kandasamy‘s public detailing of her shocking violent marriage in a magazine, invoked a whole range of responses on twitter. ( Conversations)Her own celebrity/activist status seems to have worked against her, creating disbelievers and skeptics who challenge everything she say. If a well known person can face this much inquisition, what about victims from humbler backgrounds, who have no support structures?

Some people accuse victims of making up stories. True, it is possible. But I believe, that no woman or man, in his right senses, would ever do that unless they have a grudge against that person and they are going all out to destroy the person or they seek to obtain some monetary benefits. If the latter is true, it will come out during investigations and in the courts. Justice may be delayed but not denied.

A victim, whether it is a man or a woman, needs to be supported at all times while an abuser, a man or woman, should be given help to manage conquer his/her abusive traits, without ensuring the re -victimization. Howsoever, the truth may play out,  as circumstances and more evidence comes out, is a different issue. But, we, as humans, need to ensure that our humanity is not compromised by other issues. we should never fail to hear calls for help, no matter how many wolves in sheep clothing may be there.

Technology and Communication

A fast moving and rapidly shrinking world. Connected by bits, bytes, wires, wireless connections.Instantaneous communication.Was this possible a few years back ?

It has not only been made possible ,it is entrenched in our lives and it is morphing at a rapid rate.The development of internet, wireless, smart phones and other technological wizardry have made  the impossible, possible.

Earlier, it was the  media which was controlling information dissemination. I still remember how dependent we were on the  state print and audiovisual media for information. And we had to wait for a day to receive news.  For the newspaper to arrive. For the evening news. And we had only certain versions of it. The arrival of Cable television in the 1990s changed things. Cable News network ‘ coverage of the gulf war, brought it into households across the world. The entrance of cable and satellite television significantly decreased the arrival of news and connected the distant parts of the world, more closer together. Viewers could see distant happenings on their TV screens.  So many significant changes in the world was thus televised and spread to distant reaches. Cable TV became addictive ; an inseparable part of daily life.

While developments in audiovisual media were going on, technological developments in IT were proceeding with the development of internet. IE and Netscape. Microsoft domination of IT through Windows and IE. Apple’s development of its iconic brands. Windows. Arrival of Google as a big player on the scene. Google mail and now Chrome. So many small players all gobbled up by the dinosaurs in the business. The mushrooming of the web lead to alternative sources of news besides print and audiovisual media. Online news and communication became the big thingy. Now, one need no longer depend on the conventional media.

And in the midst of all this, communication  technologies are taking on  a more personal shape. Development of Social Media Technologies, as we call it, is drastically changing the way we  communicate. We socialise. We network. Do business. Even build relationships. On Social Media.

Over the next few posts, I would be expressing my thoughts on the importance of Social Media and how are they influencing the way we communicate and even our lives…..

Keep watching..

My first take and it is a hot one..Osama bin Laden is GoNe

I am starting my news and current affairs blog with the sensational news of Osama Bin Laden being killed in an early morning/nighttime surprise raid. Social media have been buzzing on the overdrive since the time the news leaked out. Lots and lots of questions and no answers.Speculations. Controversies. Issues. Unbelievable and difficult to believe that one of the major instigators of  terrorist acts is no more.

Amongst the major surprises was the  discovery of the fact that OBL was hiding out in a mansion near the military training academy, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. Though there were rumors always that he was hiding out somewhere in the Af-Pak boundary, this event confirms it in a rather shocking manner.  The question rises then how was he hidden from public view so successfully? And how could the administration be unaware of his residence?

The  meticulousness of the attack indicates it was well and extensively planned and surprisingly kept under wraps.Till it occured, there was not an inkling in the air that OBL was in residence in the area, Abbottabad.  President Obama in his speech clearly states that the operation was entirely and completely an US organised operation and does not involve the Pak govt in anyway.  Reports by various agencies indicate the role of  a specialised american team  in this task.

DNA analysis has confirmed that the body was that of OBL. Further there are conflicting reports on whether the body has been buried or not. Which raises the question of why the body has not been displayed for the media?

The most important question, in my view, is how it would impact the current terrorist movements across globe. It is possible that there may be a vicious return attack or resurgence in terrorist activities, directed against the US and its allies. It may also have a negative effect on the morale of terrorists and their supporters. In either case, it is too early to assume that terrorism will die out. This is just one OBL. What about the many undiscovered OBLs out there ? For the U.S., this is of significance because it comes as justice for the September 2001 attacks and wll bring in a sense of closure for the people who are still suffering the aftermath. The tone of the statement of Pres Obama indicates it as an entirely US centric exercise- for the US people but how does the rest of the world benefits from this or would they benefit in any way? Is it  fruitful or useful for the rest of the world to celebrate this ? A question somebody highlighted in twitter is the impunity with which the US conducted this exercise. Does it not ring alarm bells for people who look to the US for support and aid? Events in the middle east also raises questions about western interventions for a cause,outside of them, being really  helpful in the long term

Important questions for countries which are victims of terrorism as to how to deal with terrorists and supporters of terrorists. There are no easy ways to deal with them. If you are eager to listen to them, you are considered too soft and if you dont listen to them at all, you are considered as hardline.  How do you achieve a balance? At the same time, it is very important to reassure the citizens that you are serious about defending your country and standing up to terrorists. Nothing should compromise the country’s security.

The coming few days will bring about a spate of theories, denials, corroborations, exaggerations etc. What is true may be a miniscule substance in the spate of information coming out and has to be taken with a measured sense of scepticism. And the aftereffects of this event has to be awaited out.

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