Saptarishi
Friday, January 06, 2006
  For the ladies!

Here is a beautiful picture with some funny thoughts for women. This picture was forwarded to me in an e-mail by one of my friends. Thanks a lot, Priya.
 
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
  Why Kashmir is important for India?
I have often met Indian leftists and liberals who argue that it might be better for India to give up Kashmir for the sake of establishing peace in the South Asian region. I think the Kashmiris want an independent Kashmir more than anybody else. Some of them might be willing to join India or Pakistan but most of them would definitely like to have independence. There are surveys available to prove my previous statements incorrect. But I will stick to the assumption that Kashmiris do not like their fellow Indians from outside Kashmir. This is quite unfortunate in spite of the fact that taxes accrued from Indians by the GoI have contributed to prop up the economy of Kashmir. The following column by Arvind Lavakare - J&K: Time for gratitude, not petulance, provides a more better picture of the central assistance provided to the state of J&K since 1995.

I am an advocate of human rights. I also acknowledge that there have been human rights violations by Indian security forces in Kashmir since the start of insurgency in 1989. It is sad but inevitable that in a conflict like this, it is impossible for the armed forces of any country to maintain a clean record. Excesses are bound to happen. The important point is whether punishment has been meted out to people who have been responsible for these excesses. I am not quite sure how successful Indian security forces have been regarding this aspect of the conflict. My knowledge regarding this is incomplete. I promise to research more about the rate of prosecution in Indian armed forces for human rights violations in Kashmir in the future.

I admire pacifists. I think nothing is more noble than understanding that every life on this planet is precious. However, it is important for people to realize that in this world there are people whose ideology is truly heinous. Yin comes with Yang. Ahura Mazda has His/Her opposite in Ahriman. Until and unless one realizes that you can not be prepared to counter that. The first step in finding a solution to the problem is to identify the problem.

Does anybody think that Gandhi would have survived his non-violent non-cooperation movement if the colonial power occupying India would have been Hitler led Germany instead of Great Britain? He would have disappeared from the face of the earth within a minute. It is wise to respect everything and consider everybody as your friend but it is foolish not to recognize your enemy.

Lets do an exercise for the sake of trying to make my point more clear. Let us take a look at the link http://indianarmy.nic.in/arotakheros.htm. The link features snapshots of some of the Kargil heroes along with their names. After looking at their snapshot and names, I tried to guess the geographical region of origin of each of the listed individuals. Here is the list. This is just an intelligent guess. It might be wrong.

Nagaland - 1, Ladakh -1, Bengal - 2, Kerala - 2, Uttaranchal -1, Manipur - 1, Punjab - 4, Andhra Pradesh - 1, Tamil Nadu - 1,

What does this list show? It shows an Army that truly represents India - a multicultural nation that includes people from every ethnicity. This is the noble vision that the founding fathers of our nation strived for. Those men in that list came together despite their differences in background and fought and died for a cause they believed in. The question is what was their cause? Their cause is what is euphemistically referred to as "Mother India" by the books that we read in childhood.

The so-called enlightened leftists and liberals from India sneer at this cause. They say that those books that we read as children in schools are just propaganda for maintaining the nation state of India. People, when they get educated in institutions like Harvard and Yale in United States, come up with dissertations that end up mocking nationalism and declare how India is poorer because of it. It serves as a nice topic for after dinner conversations with wine in their hand. They forget that people have died for this cause and spilled their blood to let them have a nice meal with a wine in their hand years later. Without those men believing in their cause, the parents of these liberals would not have been alive to bear them for writing their dissertations in Harvard and Yale.

The cause of "Mother India" might be simple but it contains a range of ideas like democracy, secularism, rule of law, diversity, and equality for all. I always squirm when people come up to me and declare smugly that they are the citizens of one world and they do not define themselves any more as Indians. Why? Because being an Indian is a very narrow identity which is not convenient for them any more. I always smile and say I understand. They mistake it as my acceptance of their rationale.

How many nations in the world have achieved what that list that I compiled earlier shows? Isn't it time that Indians themselves recognize this and feel proud for their own nation rather than whining every time about why India has no hope? The list represents something that is a pet topic for all the liberals in the world - acceptance of diversity. Isn't it ironic that the much reviled Indian nationalism by the liberals and the leftists has achieved in creating a society that encourages "unity in diversity" rather than their own home grown pet theories?

United States was the first place that showed the world what the democracy can do in 1776. It was a profound leap in the evolution of human society to think about the fact that "all men are created equal". Americans took another two hundred years to convert that idea into some kind of reality after banning segregation in 1960s. India's contribution to the world will be to show how people of different faiths and ethnicity can live together harmoniously. Samuel Huntington's "The clash of civilizations" need not be a reality. I know that we have not achieved this ideal of a harmonious state yet. In fact, we have repeatedly faltered in our steps towards this goal. Delhi riots in 1983 and Gujarat riots in 2002 are an ample proof of that. There are other instances too but I think the two riots mentioned earlier are enough to prove the point that India's record in fulfilling the vision of its founding fathers has not been clean. In spite of this I have faith that one day we will achieve it.

The biggest threat to this vision comes from Pakistan in the form of Islamism and its support for the cause of Kashmiris. The whole premise of the Kashmiris demanding an independent state based on a single religion is antithetical to the concept of India. I fear that one day we will come to a crossroad where the choice will be to either fight for the vision that I mentioned above or just give up and see India disintegrate along with our vision. This is the essence of Kashmir conflict in my mind! And this is why India will fight for Kashmir.
 
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
  Eye on the media - 01/02/2006
Here are some of the articles in the news media that caught my attention. All of them have some kind of information that has made me feel either happy or sad with the state of affairs in India.

Hundreds block highway in India

Orissa is a state that comprises of lot of tribes that prefer to maintain their own culture. Most of the land in areas away from the urban centers have been traditionally owned by them. These tribes not only survive using the resources from the forests on these lands but also sometimes work on them for their food. It is a way of life that has probably survived few hundred if not few thousand years.

I have high regards for the house of Tatas. This group is one of the largest, dynamic, and most diversified industrial conglomerates of India. I worked in one of their firms for two years. They have always been at the forefront of the industrial development of India. As far as my knowledge about the group is concerned, they are very conscientious in their dealings with people. Tatas have laid the foundation for many Indian establishments with their money and management skills. This organizations have served Indians to the best of their ability. Some of these organizations are:
  1. Tata Institute for Fundamental Research
  2. Tata Institute for Social Sciences
  3. Indian Institute of Science
  4. Tata Energy research Institute
  5. National Center for Performing Arts
  6. Tata Memorial Center
The trouble, as mentioned in the news article, started due to the grievances of the local tribesmen against a steel plant being constructed by the Tata group. For the construction of the steel plant, the Tatas might have acquired some land from the tribals. This is a normal practice by any industrial conglomerate all around the world before setting up a factory. However, something must have gone wrong in the deals between the executives of Tata Steel and the tribals.

I wonder what triggered this kind of violent incident in the tribal belt? Industrialization of a land is meant to develop the economy of the region. An expanding economy should eventually benefit the people of the land. If the people themselves are unhappy from the beginning about a certain project, the whole rationale behind the argument for industrialization provided earlier falls apart. If you alienate people from a certain project, it is bound to fail in the longer run. It makes sense from a business point of view too. I hope the executives of Tata Steel sort this issue out as soon as possible.

Moreover, I feel despondent when I see people getting killed unnecessarily. The killing of 12 tribesmen and one policeman seemed entirely avoidable. Why can't Indian police forces employ modern equipment to control crowds bent on creating trouble? Why can't sufficient funds be allocated by the respective state governments to allow the police forces to acquire equipment that can help in effective control of crowds without killing or maiming people? Policing a diverse country like India is a tough job. It needs all the supplemental training that can be provided to the men of the forces. I feel that the police in India need to be better trained in order to deal with people with more humanity. This will also save their own lives in the long run and make their jobs less risky. Low morale coupled with low wages have made the police force in each state of India blatant human rights violators.

In India, Engineering Success

Sebastian Mallaby of Washington Post provides an interesting perspective on the hunger for higher education in India and the role of the private sector. This is not only a "feel good" article for an Indian like me but also a reminder that the market forces can themselves drive the social priorities of a society in a certain direction. I hope that some of the leftists who constantly shed tears about poor in India and whine incessantly about the role of the private sector, read this article and take some lessons.

UPA may not deliver much in 2006

This article is a stinging rebuke of the economic policies of the UPA government by Bibek Debroy. He laments the death of Dr. Manmohan Singh's reformer avatar.

Narayana Murthy pans IT critics

Mr. Murthy provides a strong rebuke for the perpetual whiners of the Indian nation. Some of the numbers in the article regarding employment opportunities for Indians are quite fascinating. It is time for people like Mr. Murthy to run for the parliament. People of India need him in a position where he can set the policies of the government. He has all the right credentials. If people like him do not take the lead, it is a loss to the Indian society. I doubt whether Mr. Murthy can contribute any more to the growth of Infosys than any other professional manager.



 
Sunday, January 01, 2006
  Apaharan


I just finished watching the DVD of the Hindi movie "Apaharan". It is a very unusual movie by Bollywood standards. There are almost no songs in the movie. The movie had Ajay Devgan, Nana Patekar, Bipasha Basu, and Mohan Agashe as the cast. It has been directed and produced by Prakash Jha. It seems lot of the contents of the movie has been inspired by the events that occurred when Prakash Jha decided to run for the Parliament in the Lok Sabha elections from a constituency in Bihar. "Apaharan" reminded me of another good movie that I saw recently - "Sehar", featuring Arshad Warsi and Mahima Chowdhury. Both the movies have the same topic - rise of the mafia in the Hindi heartland in India and the political patronage of these anti-social elements. I liked both the movies.

However, I must say that if these movies depict even 50% of the reality of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, it is a shame for all of us as Indians. The law and order situation in these states has been allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that it seems impossible to fix. The rot started before the "son of the soil" and "the great secular hope", Mr. Laloo Prasad Yadav came to power 15 years ago. The main contribution of the incorrigible Mr. Yadav has been to turn the rot into systematic exploitation of the people. On hindsight I must congratulate Mr. Yadav that he managed to showcase all the flaws in the Indian Penal Code as well as the Indian Constitution in his fifteen years of misrule. If some Indian does a thorough research of the loopholes in law that Mr. Yadav and his ilk exploited to dominate the Bihar political scene, it would be a great service to the nation. Another area of research topic should be how to plug these holes in the legal system. These recommendations should eventually be incorporated in the system in order make sure that the "Laloo" era is never repeated either in Bihar or any other Indian state.

I hope that people in U.P. and Bihar realize how the caste politics has played havoc with the developmental activities of their states. In U.P. the lower castes vote for Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Yadavs and the Muslims vote for Samajwadi Janata Party (SJP), and the Brahmins and the Thakurs vote for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Whatever is remaining is taken by Congress in alliance with either BSP or SJP. In Bihar, the caste divisions remain the same but the parties change. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) led by Laloo Prasad Yadav takes the mantle of SJP in Bihar. Lok Jana Shakti Party (LJSP) led by Ram Vilas Paswan takes the role of BSP.

Fortunately, most people in Bihar realized how Laloo Prasad Yadav conned them for fifteen years in the hope of providing power and respectability to the lower caste people. Laloo was also the darling of the so-called "secularists" of India. Laloo's strategy to lure the vote bank of the backward castes and the Muslims during his fifteen years of rule was unabashed appeasement, promotion of cronyism, and looting of the state treasury in the name of social justice. Bihar's economy has reached such a nadir that the state exchequer can not even pay the school teachers in the government run schools for months. The "secularists" of India cheered him on with the faint hope that the man will do something in the area of economic development in the future. But, unfortunately, that day never materialized!

After getting sick of all the false promises, people in Bihar voted for a change in the recent elections and brought Mr. Nitish Kumar (Janata Dal - United) to power. It is a Herculean task for Mr. Kumar to clean up the mess called Bihar. I think he will probably take five years (his current term) to just clean up the sewer before starting some development work around it. Tackling endemic corruption should be one of his top priorities. Lot is expected out of Mr. Kumar by the ordinary Biharis who voted for him. The author hopes that he delivers at least on some of the promises that he made during the elections. Politicians of India are a hypocritical and a cynical lot. They also tend to utter nonsense while promising the sky to their constituents. For the sake of the poor people in Bihar, I hope Nitish Kumar does not completely belong to the cynical and hypocritical lot.
 
"Saptarishi" in Sanskrit means the Seven Sages or rishis who are extolled at many places in the Vedas and other Hindu literature. They are regarded in the Vedas as the patriarchs of the Vedic religion. The constellation of Ursa Major is also named as Saptarshi. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saptarishi)

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