Friday, August 24, 2007

United Nations stands for moral strength -just kidding!

The Moral Force, we are told, is strongest at one point on Earth -the United Nations. The place is overflowing with it. Whatever UN touches becomes 'good' and 'blessed'.

But the force has been getting weaker for a long time now. At present it can barely be detected.
Has the UN gone over to the dark side?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Socialism lays the foundation of capitalism!

This is what Mr. Narayan Madhavan seems to be saying in this article -

But I ask myself a simple question: Had India followed its liberalisation policies in the 1950s instead of the 1990s, what would have happened? I have no easy answers, but it is clear that India would have had to export agricultural commodities in exchange for modern industries and foreign capital, or done something approximating to that. However, there was not much to export from here. Maybe a bit more of garments would have been exported. With foreign capital, India could have stolen some of the Chinese and Taiwanese thunder in electronics or labour-intensive manufacturing. On the other hand, there might have been no IITs (Indian Institute of Technology), no Steel Authority of India Ltd, no Indian Oil Corp. Dozens of public sector undertakings may not have come into being.

What no IIT's? No Indian Oil Corporation? No Steel Authority of India Ltd? And no other public sector companies?

But in their place we might have had the standard of living of Taiwan, with it's per capita income of (purchasing power parity) $27600 (2005 est.) compared to India's $4,031( at PPP) and $885 at nominal (2007 estimate) (even after more than 15 years reforms).

Seems to me to be a pretty good swap. I would prefer that India be 5-6 times richer than to have all those wonderful public sector monsters. If the price of having IIT's is the grinding poverty of the tens of millions, then why have them?

But what makes Mr. Narayan Madhavan think that there would be no institutions comparable to the IIT's if India had turned to capitalism right at the time of independence? Are there no good institutions in the more capitalistic nations of the west? I wonder where do all those IITians migrate to? To the socialist Cuba perhaps.

Now for the next big question: If there were no controls on industries, what would we have liberalised in the first place? Actually, a force has to be created before it is unleashed. The creation of a Nehruvian public sector, and subsequent neo-Nehruvian policies like Indira Gandhi’s nationalisation of banks, laid the ground for an industrial and financial structure. This structure, for all its shortcomings, had the potential to generate both human resources, knowledge base and the domestic economy that eventual liberalisation make use of.

This is so f***ingly crazy that I hate even to fisk it. But what the heck, here goes-
"If there were no controls on industries, what would we have liberalised in the first place?"
The gent actually seems to be saying - for the freedom to have meaning, you have to be enslaved first. Or, for liberalisation to work, a country first has to be shackled for over four decades in a bureaucratic socialist death-grip that has kept our masses in poverty and misery.

----------- Socialism, viewed through the rear-view mirror of liberalisation, appears different. Nehruvian policies also look dismal in many ways, but perhaps it would be fair to say that while many of his policies were flawed, they also laid the groundwork for the forces that gained from liberalisation and free market opportunities.

At least 25 Nasdaq-listed technology companies today owe their origins to people nurtured by Nehru’s policies that subsidized their education at the cost of primary schools or farmers. It is an irony that many of the biggest beneficiaries of Nehruvian largesse are among the most fashionable critics of socialist policies. As we raise a toast to their achievements and 60 years of Independent India, I only wish Nehru had created centres of excellence called Indian Institutes of History (IIHs) the way he had created the IITs. That might have helped us get a better sense of history.

Maybe those "biggest beneficiaries" understand that those Nehruvian policies kept most of the Indians from making a decent living, not just a select or privileged few. Maybe they would have been pleased to see India flower and prosper right from the time of independence, and not stagnate for 45 years under the crushing yoke of the Nehruvian state. Hey, we are humans, we need freedom to thrive. We don't need to be bottled up and stored to mature like wine.

(emphasis mine)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What shall happen to the atheists in the Hindu Rashtra*?

Will they be shot?

Or sent to some reeducation camp?
Or simply beaten up and their faces blackened?

This is what happened to a professor and a poet-

Bharatiya Janshakti Party workers on Friday blackened the face of a professor in Raipur Medical College for reciting a poem at an Independence Day function in which he allegedly made derogatory remarks against the goddess Lakshmi.

According to the party’s state general secretary Rajiv Lochan Shrivastava, some party office-bearers learnt about the “derogatory” poem recited by BK Jain on Thursday and confronted the professor at the medical college to seek an apology from him.

But when neither Dr Jain or the college administration came forward to apologise, furious party workers took out a protest rally on Friday, confronted Jain and blackened his face. They also forced him to apologise in public for his “offensive” act, said Shrivastava.

Despite the public apology from Jain, party activists have demanded that the doctor be suspended immediately. They have threatened to intensify their agitation if their demand is not met.

We in India are losing our freedom to examine religion critically. It is inevitable that the religious mafia will find another person to beat up because of some 'insult' to some god, just as it is inevitable that the Indian state will take no more than a token step to counter this naked fascism, if at all.

So when that long awaited Hindu Rashtra* finally arrives, what will happen to the atheists (of which I am one)? After all, one of worst 'insults' to the gods is to deny that they exist at all.

I suggest that atheists gang up to form a sena*, perhaps Bharatiya Nastik Sangh Sena (Indian Atheist's Association Army) and then we can create our own hugamas*.

*The colorful Indian language translator-

rashtra - nation
sena -army
hungama -ruckus

(emphasis mine)

Note -it is widely believed that fascism is an ideology of the 'right'. In practice(and in theory too), fascism is very much like communist totalitarianism , with suppression of the individual to the collective an important characteristic. The photo above is taken from a site that catalog's communist repression in Cuba, that paradise of the left.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Let's chant together -"All religions stand for peace."

There are some issues which our media-political-intellectual elites prefer not to look too deeply into. Better to avert one's eyes and close one's mind than to find that one fears that one might find. Better not to look for clues if those threaten to lead where one does not wish to go. This is what our politically-correctist thought control has brought us to.

One of these issues is the virulence which is directed against people such as Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen from within the muslim ummah. Have you noticed that the hate against these appear to particularly vicious compared to that directed against non-muslims with similar views? We prefer not enquire too deeply into it. Perhaps because if we did we might discover (and be forced to think about) this-

There is unanimity among clerics from the various Islamic schools of thought that the penalty for an apostate (murtid) is death, the only disagreement being whether the execution should occur instantly or after the murtid has been given an opportunity to recant and return to the fold of Islam. So sure is the punishment and so strong the attendant social and family pressures that it is unthinkable for Muslims ever to openly question any aspect of their religion, let alone convert to another or to practice agnosticism or atheism.


According to Dr. Andrew G. Bostom, there is also a consensus by all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (i.e., Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafi'i), as well as Shi'ite jurists, that apostates from Islam must be put to death. Averroes, or Ibn Rushd (d. 1198), the renowned Aristotelian philosopher and scholar of the natural sciences, who was also an important Maliki jurist in medieval Spain, provided this typical Muslim legal opinion on the punishment for apostasy (vol. 2, p. 552):

"An apostate…is to be executed by agreement in the case of a man, because of the words of the Prophet, 'Slay those who change their din [religion]'…Asking the apostate to repent was stipulated as a condition…prior to his execution."

This is not just a matter of medieval jurisprudence. The 1991 Shafi'i manual of Islamic Law 'Umdat al-Salik, endorsed by the Islamic Research Academy at Al-Azhar, the most prestigious centre of learning in Sunni Islam, states:

"Leaving Islam is the ugliest form of unbelief (kufr) and the worst…When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostasizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed. In such a case, it is obligatory…to ask him to repent and return to Islam. If he does it is accepted from him, but if he refuses, he is immediately killed."

In other words, those who publicly leave Islam constitute a threat to the morale of the Islamic community, just like soldiers defecting from an army, and must thus be punished before a mass-defection sets in. Al-Qaradhawi agrees with the traditional treatment of Muslims who leave their religion: "For Muslim society to preserve its existence, it must struggle against ridda* from every source and in all forms, and it must not let it spread like wildfire in a field of thorns. Thus, the Muslim sages agreed that the punishment for the murtadd* [who commits ridda] is execution."

We keep ignoring this fact, intentionally so, it seems to me. Rushdie, Nasreen , Ayaan Hirsi Ali and others are hated with a special vehemence because they are perceived to be apostates and traitors, someone from the fold who dares criticize it (or some aspects of it), even if they might not have renounced their faith.

Taslima, of course, has been in news all over because of the attack on her. What we are unlikely to hear much about is the attack on Ehsan Jami. Jami has been under threat for giving up his religion. In fact he is the chairman of the Central Committee for Ex-Muslims.
A daring vocation, I must say. With predictable dangers (via Harry's Place)-

Ehsan Jami Ehsan Jami (pictured) was knocked to the ground and kicked by a group of three men: two young Moroccans and one Somali. During the incidents, his attackers called him a 'filthy homo' and 'filthy traitor'. Mr Jami's advisor, Afshin Ellian, later pointed out that it was not the first time he had been physically attacked:

"He's also been threatened before, attacked or beaten up, and he reported this to the police too. This is the third time."

Afshin Ellian, an academic and columnist, is also being protected by the authorities.

So will we hear anything about Ehsan in our media? Unlikely or perhaps a passing mention somewhere. Nothing much to be concerned about, move on. Our media refuses to connect the dots even as it goes out of the way to assure us a dozen times a day-
Islam means peace. All religions stand for peace.

Let's chant a few times and all disturbing thoughts and doubts will disappear from our minds-

Islam means peace. All religions stand for peace.
Islam means peace. All religions stand for peace.
Islam means peace. All religions stand for peace.
Islam means peace. All religions stand for peace.
Islam means peace. All religions stand for peace.
Islam means peace. All religions stand for peace.

There. My mind is at rest now. I was going to say something about Theo Van Gogh but the power of the peaceful religions has overwhelmed me. I am drifting into the soothing recesses of inner serenity. Theo who?

*ridda- The Ridda wars (also known as the Riddah wars and the Wars of Apostasy).
*murtad or murtid -apostate

(emphasis mine)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Your car is an anti-social element, part-1

Gaia-worshipping, capitalism-hating types i.e. your normal greenie, love to decide how you should travel or commute. The choice, you see, is too important to be left to you. Let the all-knowing experts decide what's good for you.

In an op-ed in the Hindustan Times, veteran Indian greenie Darryl D’Monte whines long and loud about how bio-fuels are not the right fuel for the cars. Fair enough, since there are serious problems attached to the widespread use of these fuels. But this article is not about a rational concern about these fuels.There is something darker lurking underneath.That dark and sinister agenda is revealed only at the end and one can behold a greenie's soul for what it is, masked as it usually is behind a veneer of concern for the 'mankind'.The problem is not so much the fuel but the cars themselves. The environmentalists don't want you to have cars-

Most of all, if combating climate change is a self-professed priority in the drive to produce bio-fuels, what about the mania for using motorised transport, which the use of this alternative fuel encourages? Close on the heels of the Rs 1 lakh car being manufactured by the Tatas, foreign auto makers are making a beeline for the Indian market with cars worth around that much. This may be a bonanza for the middle-class, but what will it do to emissions, which are already well over every limit?

Environmentalists like Lester Brown and Jonathan Lash of the World Resources Institute in Washington believe that hybrid automobiles, which switch from petrol to electricity, are the answer for the future. But if everyone has even a fully electric car, there is going to be such mayhem on the roads, particularly in congested cities in developing countries, that no one will be able to go anywhere. Cars also deprive the oldest and younger sections of the population — the latter is disproportionately large in this country — from using this means of transport and are thus inherently anti-social.

Remember this when you scrounge, skimp and save to buy that small car to escape from the drudgery of public transport - your car, and thus you, are anti-social.You are also being unfair to the old and the very young. You see, the small children, old people, the handicapped much rather travel like this-

crowded Delhi bus

A public bus in Delhi. (Image source)

crowded Mumbal local

A local train in Mumbai. (Image source)

What adventure, and what good exercise!

In some future when the wise environmentalists are in total control, you shall be forced to travel this way. Private vehicles will not exist. Cars shall be banned -except of course for our masters who must travel in comfort of one to take care of the planet's needs.

Praful Bidwai is another car-hating pundit-
Ford India has just launched a diesel version of its premium Fusion' (ex-Delhi-showroom cost Rs 6,59,000) and announced that like Renault-Nissan, it's also considering making a compact car costing Rs 1,20,000. Such corporate announcements have become routine, especially since the Tatas launched their Rs 1,00,000 car project. What is note-worthy about this one is not just that the low-cost car market is set to boom, but also that a mid-sized (1400 cc) diesel car, priced higher than its petrol original, will be treated as a small car'. It will attract not 24, but 16 per cent, excise duty.
Notice how panicky they get when cars become more affordable.

Dieselisation is only one, minor, part of India's automobile boom, which has seen car sales double over five years - a rate 60 per cent higher than GDP growth. Automobiles are being recklessly promoted as symbols of a lifestyle of glamour, luxury, even "freedom".
Someone aspiring to glamour, luxury or even "freedom"- can't have that, can we in our green utopia?

In reality, automobilisation spells high social costs, resource waste, air pollution, global warming and iniquitous use of road-space. In most Indian cities, cars and two-wheelers hog 60-80 per cent of space, but deliver 15 to 20 per cent of passenger trips. By contrast, buses occupy under 20 per cent of road space, and account for up to 60 per cent of trips.
Buses are also more efficient and fair -the way so many people squeeze into one during rush hours is a fine example of scrupulous environmental conduct.

Cars are an extremely inefficient form of transportation. According to a US researcher, the average American spends so much time looking after, parking or repairing his car and stopping at signals, etc, that its average speed is roughly 10-12 kmph.
Then let's have superfast cars zipping along on super smooth roads with high or no speed limits. Lets have hundreds of hi-tech flyovers and superways. That will boost the average speed but not Mr. Bidwai's state of happiness.

Above all, they pollute. Automobile emissions of particulate matter, and oxides of nitrogen and sulphur account for more than 60 per cent of the air pollution load in our cities, itself fraught with grievous health damage. Fine particulates contain some 40 known carcinogens.
Strange that we have about 90 times less cars per capita than the USA(that source of all evil), about 8.5 against 780 (pdf) per 1000 of population, yet our cities are more polluted. In fact the air quality in the US has been getting better and better.

Although health impact studies are inadequate in India, it is estimated that a representative Delhi household would annually earn a benefit of Rs 19,870 and in Kolkata Rs 84,355 from reduced particulates.

This translates into tens of thousands of crores for India.
This does not take into account millions of man hours wasted waiting to get into a bus or a local train or metro, the more millions wasted because one is simply too tired after such a commute to do anything productive, and the health damage due to such stress, fatigue and infections caught due to extreme proximity, not to mention lost productivity because of this stress and longer time taken. Or the health damage due to dying (can one's health get any worse than being dead?), crushed by the blessed public transport-under the wheels of the Bluelines or in railway crashes, (railways which are so efficiently run by the state), or simply falling off the footboard while hanging precariously. Or, as in the case of the Katrina hurricane, what about those people who could not get away in private vehicles and were stranded, even as 'public' buses stood idle in their depots. These people did not have their own cars and depended on public transport. It cost them dearly.

Runaway automobilisation must be curbed through higher taxation (Indian buses are taxed 2.6 times higher per passenger-kilometre than cars), stiff parking fees, Singapore-style bans on use of odd- and even-numbered cars on alternate days, encouragement of carpools, and extensive creation of pedestrian-only zones.

Above all, we must promote efficient, affordable, non-polluting public transport, as well as bicycles and other non-mechanised modes. If Paris can have 200 km of bicycle paths with 250,000 people using them, so can Delhi, Bangalore or Lucknow. This is not a plea for building expensive metros, which cost two to four times more than dedicated bus lanes or electric buses, but for rational planning which recognises that rampant automobilisation is an ecological, financial and social disaster.

Non-polluting public transport? Which public transport is non-polluting?

Bicycles and other non-mechanised modes? Which others -Bullock carts? Horses? Palanquins for ladies? Human-pulled rickshaws as in Kolkata?
I am sure the very young, the old, the handicapped that Darryl D'Monte is concerned about would love the comfort of bicycling several kilometers to their destination than ride in an anti-social sedan. If they can't pedal themselves then maybe the other family members can with the vulnerable ones sitting behind. Mom would love to cycle her 65 year old father-in-law 12 kilometers to see a dentist and back.

In a Reuters report-
But many Indians who weave their motorbikes in between traffic would jump on the chance of the comfort of a car.

Aman is a 39-year-old Indian chauffeur who earns about $A180 per month driving his employers' cars.

"If I can buy a 30,000 rupee scooter, then I can now hope to buy a car for 100,000 rupees when it comes out. Now, people like me can think about owning a car," he said.

"I drive cars for my employers. Maybe I will drive my own car one day."

Sorry, mate. If Mr.Bidwai and Mr.D'Monte have their way, you shall be waiting forever for your own car. Now go and fight your way into the first overcrowded bus or the local train you see and feel the warmth of the humanity around you. Just don't fall off.

To be continued.

(All emphasis mine)

Note -thanks to Sandeep for pointing out Bidwai's article.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"Gods you worship are not Gods at all"

On my art and culture blog What the heck is art? a new post on the dark works of the famed director-
Ingmar Bergman-the director who "punished his audiences".

Read it here.

An excerpt-
I was once a misty eyed boy when Bergman's Fanny and Alexander(1982, Oscar for best foreign film) was screened on TV. I remember the excitement with which I looked forward to the film, having heard much about Bergman's greatness. Those were the days when I was an innocent lad, still not disabused, unsullied by cynicism -I believed what I was told, in what was written in the newspapers, in journals and said by pundits on the television. Hard to believe it now! And so I was convinced of the most ennobling experience I was about to have in watching one of the most acclaimed films.

Programmed to hate the British

We in India are programmed to hate the West, and the British in particular. Right from the school text books of the very young children to the college-level history texts, discourses in the media, the official literature and pronouncements. That the British were evil is the subtext of almost all the history texts -one just has to believe it to be considered patriotic.That they divided India (just for the fun of it, being a very bad people) is deeply ingrained in our consciousness.

Here is a different take-

Already the remarks by presenters are slanted to suggest that it was the wicked British who partitioned India. Legally this is true - but the fact is that Mountbatten absolutely did not want partition, and along with Nehru and Gandhi fought hard to preserve that great country as one.

Another programme is to dwell on Muhammad Ali Jinnah 'and his vision'. Jinnah was not originally in favour of partition; he was a completely westernised gentleman in his tailored English suits. He was threatened by the Muslim League, who promised violence if they did not get an Islamic state. In an attempt to keep India whole, Gandhi and Nehru said that Jinnah could be at the top of the new government but Jinnah was trapped by the Islamist militants.

The consequence was upwards of 2 millions slaughtered; 300,000 killed later in the nascent Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) by West Pakistan (now Pakistan) forces, who used widespread rape as a weapon of suppression. And the death a few months later of Jinnah himself - can anyone doubt that he died crushed by the awful consequences of his surrender to the fanatics?

And consider what India might have become if it had stayed united - instead there were two wars, continual fighting over Kashmir, the degradation of Bangladesh, the tottering state of Pakistan and borders armed like an iron curtain dividing areas, such as the Punjab, which for centuries had been one. What a cost to satisfy the greed for power by the Islamists.

But will this history be presented in these programmes, or will the British as usual be cast as villains?

Read the whole thing.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Khatami touches women, sky falls down upon him.

Is this a fake?

or is he?

Is it possible, just possible that Iran's former president Mohammad Khatami might have touched -what horror!- a woman?!!!! And that too more than one! And that too one after the another -a serial woman-toucher!

From the Iran Press Service-
A Handshake that Might Become A Religious Revolution Or A Political Suicide
A videotape, taken with a digital camera by Mr. Marco Orioles, a university sociology lecturer, shows the former Iranian president exchanging handshakes with Gianola and Cristina Nonnino, well-known producers of grappa, the famous Italian brandy, in the region around Udine.

from the Guardian-
Iran's reformist former president, Mohammad Khatami, has suffered a blow to his political standing by being pictured apparently shaking hands with women in breach of Islamic convention.

Mr Khatami, a mid-ranking cleric, dismissed the photo as a fake and insisted he had not shaken hands with any of the women who had approached him after he made a speech.

Flyers condemning Mr Khatami have been circulated in the shrine city of Mashhad, while posters of him were defaced in Kashan before he spoke there.

Although Islam generally forbids handshakes between men and women who are not close family relatives, some Shia clerics say it is permitted in certain cases to avoid embarrassment. In Iran, handshakes between men and women have become more common in recent years despite the country's Islamic laws.

Faked? Judge for yourself-

(video of the controversial handshakes)

If it is not a fake then it must be a CIA operation. The imperialist Americans must have sent those devilish male-eating female agents shake hands!

From the same Iran Press Service article-
The Iranian hardline daily “Kayhan”, run by Mr. Hoseyn Shari’atmadari, a high-ranking intelligence officer specializing in the interrogation of political and intellectual dissidents who is a senior advisor to Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, the leader of the Islamic Republic, suggested Khatami had allowed himself to fall prey of a US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) trap.
The article continues-
“If Mr. Khatami is assured that the video had been manipulated, he must with no hesitation take the case to the courts. This would be a good occasion case for him to make known those who are plotting to tarnish the good name and image of the former president and aims at stopping the reform process in Iran and put an end to the plot. If not, he must present his apology to all those who accuses him of having trespassed a well-known rule of Islam”, Ahmad Ra’fat, an Iranian journalist based in Rome, told Iran Press Service.

“Many of those who had voted for Mr. Khatami and supported the reforms never could imagine that simple and ordinary acts like shaking some hands in the streets of a town like Udine would undermine the future of reforms in Iran. Worse, this writer and many others could never imagine that a president who talks about the rule of law, civil society and dialogue among civilizations would fall so down to the point of not having the courage of accepting responsibility of his own acts and deeds and unashamedly revert to lying”, Mr. Ra’fat, who also covers for AKI, wrote in the Persian internet magazine “Rahbord”

Andy McCarthy sums it up-
It's the small things that tell us the most.

Iran's great "moderate" "reformer," Mohammed Khatami, shook hands with a woman in Italy while chatting genially with a group of women who were not covered from head to toe, or even wearing head-scarves.

This is a scandal in Iran.

So what is the Moderate Reformer's reaction? Did he tell his critics to stop being ridiculous?

Nope. He claims, preposterously, that the pictures and film footage of the incident are fakes ... while concurrently announcing he is withdrawing his from a 2009 presidential bid.

I'd like to be encouraged that there is a swelling democracy movement in Iran ready to revolt against the regime any time now. But what does it say about the state of things in mullah-land that the hero of what passes for liberal reform there feels he has to deny shaking hands with a woman?

And our comrades have no problem if these people get nuclear weapons.

(emphasis mine)

A very disturbing judgement from the Supreme Court

An odd and prima facie, a very disturbing judgment from the Supreme Court-

Not satisfied with explanation given by Zee TV and its reporter Vijay Shekhar for carrying out a sting operation allegedly showing corruption in lower judiciary, the the Supreme Court on Thursday asked them to tender an “unconditional apology” to avoid any criminal action.

The channel had carried a sting operation “Cash for warrant scam” in 2004. It showed three advocates of Ahmedabad securing bailable warrants—on fictitious complaint and for monetary considerations—against former President A P J Abdul Kalam, former Chief Justice of India V N Khare, apex court judge Justice B P Singh and senior counsel the late R K Jain.

“He has committed a serious offence,” the CJI said and refused to acknowledge that corruption existed in subordinate judiciary. “The perception of judiciary to this gentleman is absolutely wrong,” he said, refusing to accept the “intention” of the journalist was not to bring disrepute to the system.

The court noted that all material facts, including addresses of persons against whom warrants were issued, were suppressed. “You have misled the magistrate, you have misled the lawyers,” the court said.

However senior advocate Arun Jaitley, who appeared for the reporter, argued it should be the intention behind the act of the media that should be considered rather than the act. “If the reporter who tried to expose whatever little vulnerability exist in the system is taken to task, it would be a case of extreme positioning, which in today’s times is uncalled for,” Jaitely said.

Some bigwigs of the media, the defenders of freedoms(especially their own) seem to be skirting the issue.

Vir Sanghvi-
On Thursday, the Supreme Court finally took a stand on the contentious and controversial issue of television sting operations. The judges asked for an unconditional apology from a Zee News reporter who had conducted a sting operation seeking to reveal corruption in the lower judiciary. Asked the Chief Justice of India, “What public good has the reporter done? Prime facie, he has committed a serious crime.”

I do not want to go into the rights and wrongs of that particular case. And certainly, despite the tenor of the judgment, there is some merit in the argument offered by Arun Jaitley, counsel for Zee News, that the channel had first submitted the tapes of the sting operation to the judiciary and only then broadcast them. Jaitley argued that Zee News had behaved with responsibility and that the intention had not been to denigrate the judicial system.

No matter who you agree with — Jaitley or the Chief Justice — there is little doubt that the case will once again focus attention on the ethics of news television. Moreover, the judgment comes at a time when the Information and Broadcasting Ministry is circulating a draft Broadcasting Bill that many media professionals regard as going against the spirit of a free press.

Barkha Dutt-
The recent judgment against Zee News for attempting such an exposé is already a matter of concern.

'Concern'?- isn't that rather an understatement? What will the Supreme Court do if the reporter from the Zee News does not apologize? Send him to jail? For exposing corruption in the judiciary? Like I have said before- sometimes it feels it's Orwell's 1984 all the time.

It is left to 'Kiran', one of those faceless anonymous posters on the net so despised by some in the MSM(mainstream media) to say it out loud and clear-

"The only way to rid the country of corruption is to hang a few of you on the lamp post. The law does not permit us to do it but otherwise we would prefer to hang people like you to the lamp post," a Bench of Justices S B Sinha and Markandeya Katju was quoted by PTI as saying. The Bench made the statement while hearing the bail application of Braj Bhushan Prasad, a dismissed employee of Bihar government for his alleged involvement in the Rs 1,000 crore fodder scam.This sounds very good but what about the corruption in Judiciary? The same supreme court instead of punishing the corrupt judge of the Gujrat Judiciary in the Zee TV case is shielding the judge and is bent upon punishing the Zee TV for exposing corruption in judciary. It seems the judges of SC do not know the saying " Practice before you preach to others"

Note -Barkha Dutt's article is otherwise actually quite good.

(all emphasis mine)

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Will Obama vaporize Osama?

There has been much commotion in the Indian media about the US presidential candidate Barrack Obama's remarks about Pakistan. The impression we get is almost as if finally there could be an American president who would take on Pakistan, even invade it if necessary. Believe me there are many people who think invading Pakistan would be a good thing -the khaki-nicker*(BJP-RSS) crowd was hankering for it after the terrorist attack on the Indian parliament in December,2001. While I don't agree with their agenda, this sentiment (to go after Pakistan) is at least understandable, given that that land to our west has been the source of much pain and trouble. India's impression of Pakistan is that it is a land of a people who can't live with each other or with their neighbors peacefully. Na hum chain se jeeyenge na sale tumhe jeene deenge.*

Indians also have the impression that America is not doing enough about terrorism emanating from Pakistan, something many Indian security experts have been wailing about. So will Obama be the one to get to the mothership of the jihadis-the hiding and breeding grounds in the north-west of Pakistan- and blow it up? Will Obama vaporize Osama?

Let's hear some skeptics weighing in-

Paul Mirengoff:
Barack Obama on "the war we need to win."As is almost always the case with Democrats, it's a war other than the one we're fighting and (to the extent that Obama is really talking about war) it would involve taking military action in a country --Pakistan -- that has been our ally in the fight against terrorism, at least to some degree.

It's also a war that no one can reasonably believe Obama would initiate. Note that, while he has sponsored a resolution to give up in Iraq thus handing al Qaeda victory there, he has sponsored no resolution to send troops into Pakistan . In fact, even his speech is ambiguous on whether he would send a substantial force there. The deployment of significant troop levels is what folks ordinarily mean by "war," but perhaps Obama means war in the Bill Clinton sense -- lob a few missiles at a suspected hide-out.

In sum, this is your standard Democratic attempt to sound tough while effectively advocating defeat in Iraq and ignoring the mounting threat posed by Iran. Obama is smart enough to know that his speech is nonsense. But the fact that he would indulge in this sort of posturing should disqualify him from the presidency.

JOHN adds: Obama's statements remind me very much of John Kerry in the 2004 campaign, when he kept saying that Iraq was the "wrong war, in the wrong place at the wrong time." This implied, of course, that there was some other war--the right one--that Kerry would support fighting. But no one believed that; Kerry's willingness to fight any war anywhere, like Obama's, was entirely theoretical. At the time, I thought that if Kerry had been serious, and if he meant to say that we should be fighting Iran rather than Iraq, he may have had a point. But of course that wouldn't have been the "right" war either.

John Podhoretz:
Obama is full of it. This country is never — never — going to stage a major military action against Pakistan. Pakistan is a nation of 170 million people that has nuclear weapons and whose admittedly problematic and troublesome regime has, to some extent, cooperated with the United States in the war against Al Qaeda both in ways we know and ways we have no idea about. The concern that this strategically vital county might become an Islamic fundamentalist state is, should be, and will be paramount in every and all discussions about how to conduct the fight against Al Qaeda.

What's more, every serious person knows the United States won't invade Pakistan, even with Special Forces — since the reason we cancelled the proposed action against Al Qaeda in 2005 is that it was going to take many hundreds of American troops to do it. This isn't 15 people dropping like ninjas in the darkness. It's an invasion, with helicopters and supply lines and routes of ingress and escape. It would have had unforseen and unforeseeable consequences, but it would have been reasonable to assume the Pakistanis would have turned violently against the United States and hurtled toward Islamic fundamentalist control.

If the evil Bushitler Cheney Rumsfeld Monster wouldn't do it, nobody will do it. And you can bet there isn't a single person in line to run a Democratic State Department or Democratic Defense Department who would give the idea three seconds of thought. Obama is using Pakistan to talk tough, in the full knowledge that he will never actually pull the trigger.

ABC News:
In many ways, the speech is counterintuitive; Obama, one of the more liberal candidates in the race, is proposing a geopolitical posture that is more aggressive than that of President Bush. It comes at a time in Obama 's campaign when the freshman senator is drawing more financial support from more voters than any other candidate, though he has yet to vault from his second-place position in the polls. One of the reasons for that is that the Democratic front-runner, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, is seen as more experienced and in some ways stronger, a perspective Obama wishes to change.

Victor Hanson David:
Obama has criticized Sen. Clinton for her approval of that Iraqi authorization, but the sort of action he is envisioning involves crossing into a nuclear Islamic country, one bullet away from an Islamic republic, and surely should be a question for Congressional approval.

Others have pointed out that his criticism of Musharref is contrasted by his willingness to parley with far worse in North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran. And what were his reactions to our prior Predator strike on al Qaeda notables inside Pakistan-approval, criticism, or mere silence?

Ed Morissey:
One of the reasons that Democrats insist that the war in Iraq was a mistake was because it unnecessarily radicalized Iraqis into jihadists. What does Obama think an invasion of Pakistan will do to its population? And if the former was a mistake, consider that Pakistan has a population of over 160 million people. How does Obama think they will react to a military invasion by a putative ally?

For those who think that Obama's remarks do not imply an invasion but some other action, Ed points out-
To those insisting that this is nothing different than what Bush and Rumsfeld proposed -- using covert teams to infiltrate across the border -- let me quote directly from the news report that theObama campaign chose to highlight on its website:

The Illinois senator warned Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf that he must do more to shut down terrorist operations in his country and evict foreign fighters under anObama presidency, or Pakistan will risk a U.S. troop invasion and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid.

That's definitely not the same as what Rumsfeld considered and rejected in 2005. It's a declaration of war, pure and simple.
(emphasis in the original)

*The colorful Indian language translator-

the khaki-nicker crowd- refers contemptuously to the followers of the RSS, who can been seen doing P.T. in the morning, training to save the country in their khaki nickers(shorts) and spindly legs. Pictures here and here .

Na hum chain se jeeyenge na sale tumhe jeene deenge -neither shall we live in peace nor bugger will we let you.

(emphasis mine unless stated otherwise)

Update- Colby Cash also weighs in: Obama goes to war

Update 2- nicker, of course, means knickers(half-pants). I haven't used the latter spelling because while in India knicker(almost always pronounced without a 's') means shorts, in many other places it most often means ladies panties or such! Can't have our nationalistic manhood marching in those!