Monday, December 26, 2005

Nepal-Brink of civil war?

When my friend Siresongs was in Nepal, I used to get first hand information on Nepal. Now I had to rely on the TV channels and news paper. There was recently two items in Newspaper that caught my eye. First was the decline of an offer for Talks from the Maoists and second was the purchase of lethal ammunitions from China. So is the King really on to something? Declining the peace offer (or attempts to make peace) from the Maoists looks like a brave attempt on the face of it but it has a lot of underlying statements. Reading together the purchase of armaments from China, signals a notable shift of equations with India, Nepal’s traditional ally. If the king had accepted the offer, he would have to revert to democratic means and less military means. As with every dictatorship, military is his first and last straw. Fear is the weapon. Suppression is the way. So anything that remotely resembles democracy, the King will weaken his grip on the Himalayan kingdom. And this would give the ideal opportunity to the political fraternity. Once a people backed rising started, his military might may not be able to contain it. So this may be the reason behind his refusal.
India and US, the traditional arms supplier to the kingdom, has stopped their supplies since the royal coup. India has asserted that it will be a temporary stay, fearing that Pakistan will scoop up the opportunity, and resumed limited supply later but that was not enough to keep China at bay. New Delhi must be ruing the lost goldmine.
Still a large chink of Nepal, Rural areas especially, are controlled by the Maoists. King Gyanendra is losing control everyday steadily. Clamp down on media and arresting leading politicians accelerated his dropping popularity. On international front, pressure is mounting to bring back democracy and law and order. It is to be seen how the wily king cop with the pressure and hold on to power.

Mobile blues

It has been an exponential growth for telecom in India in the last decade. Mobile telephony has seen a phenomenal growth in urban India. A lot of acquisitions and mergers happened and the tariffs are one of the cheapest. It was hailed as a revolution and has changed the way of Indians keeps in touch with each other. It is a ubiquitous gadget these days and an essential one. The advent of Reliance started a flood of cheap mobiles and made it affordable for the lower class. The private operators are boasting of millions of customers, they slash prices every month and they come up with a new scheme that will add a few thousand more to their fold. The latest is validity war. Tata telecom introduced the 2-year non-stop incoming without recharging, and others joined in too.
But has it really evolved? After a decade, it is still in it’s infancy. The recent criticism about the quality by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) highlights the plights of customers.
The other day I was commuting back to home after work when I got a call on my mobile. It was my wife calling to tell me that she wants to do a little shopping and want me to join with her. She want me to wait at a spot and as she was about to tell me where and when, the line broke. She dialed again and managed to convey the place the line went dead again. Before I get the timing. She dialed again and all I could hear was some static. I tried to call her but as usual all networks busy, or that’s what the cell displayed. It is the fifth time she managed to tell me when.
Even if at home, I had to place the cell near to the window or in the Balcony. If I get a call, I had to lean out of the window to get a clear voice. While on train, I had to drop many important calls due to the call-drop. One second you are talking and next second there is only silence. I have identified some spots where there is no signal despite it being a crowded, commercial and residential area.
I use an Airtel connection, and hope they notice this.
1. The stretch between Matunga & Mahim Rly stations.
2. between Santacruz & Vile Parle
3. Kandivli Rly Yard.
4. between Dahisar & Mira Road.
5. Naigaon Station.
6. Mumbai Mantralaya section.
Many a times my relatives complain that they could never reach me. I am always out of coverage area or switched off. When I try to make outgoing calls, especially in the evenings, I could never get it.
That’s not all. I had experienced some discrepancy in my account balance a few months ago and they were deducting some money from my balance every day. When I enquired about it they said they have some new scheme in which I can make outgoing calls at a lower rate. Once activated they would deduct a certain amount everyday. When I asked that guy who authorized the activation, he said they send an SMS and if not replied, they take it as consent! I was thinking like you need to SEND an authorization to activate something. NO SEND is a negative response. Don’t you think?
When the roaming service made free, they made it sure that every one got the message by advertising it all the railway stations and TV channels. And for two months there was no deduction. The third month I found some 25 Rs missing from my account. Upon enquiry the operator said it is Roaming charges. When I asked him about the absence of deduction for the last 2 months, he said it might be a computer error!! I hung up fearing that they might consider deducting retro-effective. As a computer expert, I know that computers don’t make mistakes. But It can be programmed to make! Or humans can make mistake!
The last blow came in November. Till then I could ring up a “customer executive” and tell him my grievances. Not anymore. They made customer care a paid service. A minute 6 Rs! This one too, as usual, was not informed. I was dialing customer care and I got a computer recorded life-less voice telling me that if you want to call the operator, the calls are paid service! So that avenue also closed. Now mobile telephony has really evolved, isn’t it? The next thing, may be, to revert back to charge the incoming. But a consumer is trapped there. If I want to switch operators, I had to opt for a new number. That would mean losing all contacts or I had to sit and inform all my contacts about the number change.
TRAI suggested the number portability and the private operators are vehemently opposing it. But for the users it is god-send.
The cartel of cell operators has so far resisted policies that harm them. There is no reason to believe things will change soon. So hang on, or rather, hang up!
Landlines are no better. Read Dilip's experience in this article

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Tsunami Reports

One year has passed since the Tsunami wreaked havoc in South Asian Countries. Life is back to normalcy. Well, Almost. Read the tsunami reports, a first hand account of a journalist, Dilip D’souza , my friend and former colleague.

* * * * * * * *

July 26, a day when Mumbai was submerged. A lot happened since. But at that time there was a lot of clamor about how plastics caused the choking of drains and how govt is going to ban it and what steps must be taken to avoid such things in future. Half a year passed and what had changed? The much-hyped plastic ban is postponed due to it’s impracticability. It’s dropped actually but the authorities are reluctant to admit their failure.

We, Mumbaikars never learn from our mistakes. We still use the plastic bags and abandon it as and where we pleased. It could be found in every drain, every inch of Mumbai. The inexplicable behavior of the authorities are making us worry. Our beloved city may not be able to hold up if another flood occurs. Its old infrastructure, already taken a lot of beatings, may collapse and take with it all its occupants.

These pictures are taken on July 26th at Vasai.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Shubh yatra (bon voyage)

Traveling in India by train was always a miserable experience. One had to put up with stinking coaches and waterless toilets, cockroaches and rodents, leaky roofs and beggars. The threat of dacoits always looms large in every mind, but it was isolated incidents. But not any more. Our trains are not safe anymore. Yesterday a group of armed people barged into a Lucknow bound Pushpak Express and looted the passengers and before jumping off the train they gang-raped a 22 year old lady in the toilet. The most funny-sad thing of this story is the response of the railway spokesperson. He said “It’s just a minor incident since the rape is not confirmed”. The honorable (comedian?) Lalu Prasad (Rly Minister) also confirmed this by saying “Rape is not confirmed.”. to the great relief of these comedians, the terrified lady is not available for medical check-up and currently lodged in some private hospital.
Recently there was a surge in the crime figures related to railways. Spurned lovers throwing acid, befriending the passenger before drugging and looting, armed robbery and Rape. There were no GRP (Railway Police) when the loot occurred.
Before it was in trains that goes to Bihar, UP and Up north. But today the menace is everywhere. And the Railways are doing nothing. They want to confirm rape before initiate action. Now they may want the dead person’s affidavit to confirm death!
When comedians like Lalu is ruling, we couldn’t expect anything more. The time is not that far when every passenger has to wear a bullet proof jacket, a pistol and some protective gear before they embark on a train Journey. May be this is what railways had in mind when they say “Shubh Yatra” (bon voyage)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Condomphobia of Tamilnadu

Tamilnadu’s moral brigade is at it again! Last time it was poor Kushboo . This time they vent their ire at the Condom Vending Machines. Two Muslim organizations came to the fore and their Lady-wing is on the streets protesting. The statements of the state Convener, Fathima Jalaal is funny. CVMs are “belittlement and denigration of Indian Culture” and “There is no need for Condom” and “it’ll have a negative impact on children”. If you talk about Indian culture, then why are you opposing the unified civil code and attempts to legalize your communities Talaque (divorce) methods? You may not need condoms. But for thousands of people it is the difference between life and death. And let me remind you one thing. It will not leave a negative impact on children. But it will keep they alive and healthy.
It is a known fact that Catholics (not all Christians) and Muslims are totally against birth control and abortion. The latter may be justified by the fact that it is killing a little soul. But Condoms?? The best method available to prevent contracting HIV virus is Condom.. And Tamilnadu has the highest infection rate this year . The opposition come from the fact that, if every family do this, there may be less followers to the religion, less income to the church / mosque and less people to carry out the hidden agendas. The Burqua-clad women held plaques saying “condom culture down ,down” and remove condom vending machine”. As if the new generation has never seen the object and never heard the word. Who are you trying to kid? Kushboo just said the truth. You may not like it but pre-marital sex is here.
Women’s League state convener A S Fathima Muzzafer said “one hand we preach one man one partner and same time promoting CVMs” Does CVMs encourage infidelity? Is it a cause to illicit relations? She said it is. What reasoning! Amazing!
These are either simple publicity stunts or some hidden agenda behind it. Tamilnadu has too many disasters this year. Tsunami, floods and the next in line is an epidemic called AIDS. It is already too late, but better than never. Stop these meaningless moral policing and unite against the killer diseas and spread the awareness and educate people about the perils of HIV and unprotected sex.
One last question to these leading ladies of morality. Are you sure your partners have never had any affairs? Are you sure you never had some? If not, then better you make sure they wear a condom. Sex is a biological need. But AIDS is not.

A letter to Saurav Ganguly

Dear Sourav Da,
It must be really hard on you, the latest developments in Indian Cricket. Any cricket fan will admit that the treatment meted out to you is downright insulting. Let’s explore the reasons that led to your ouster.
The recent developments in our Cricket board have a big role for your ouster. When you were selected for the first two tests, you have a strong backing in the selection committee. But as the new president of BCCI, What Pawar did was expel these so-called Ganguly supporters. That gave the wise guy ample room for maneuvering. It is public knowledge that the Chairman of Selection committee or the selectors doesn’t want you in the team either.
Let’s explore some statements made by the Coach, Mr. More, and others in BCCI prior to your selection. Mr. More explained at the press conference that you were selected as an all-rounder. Couldn’t you see the trap there? Everyone knows that your bowling in tests is a below-par affair. After all these years playing international cricket from where did this sudden revelation came from? So what was the reason to take you as All-rounder? Wasn’t it was a trap? Ponder it and read further and you would get the picture.
It is public knowledge that the relation between you & Greg Chappell is not so hunky-dory since things turned sour during and after the Zimbabwe tour. So what was going on his mind when he repeatedly stated “Performance is the only criteria”? Your recent poor run might have made him sure that you wouldn’t succeed. Or what is the alleged 7-0 verdict of selection committee including COACH and CAPTAIN after you performed well? If performance was the sole criteria then Gautam Gambhir, Ajit Agarkar and Harbhajan Singh wouldn’t be in the team.
Now one thing that appall us cricket fans is the new regime’s politics. The former regime was hated and ousted because of their politics and nepotism. As soon as Pawar took charge, he announced some bold measures to change the face of Indian cricket. But now he too stooped to play the games and the first scapegoat is you. Believe me, there will be more fun coming up.
You are a beneficiary of former regime’s favoritism and now you are at the receiving end. Think of Mohd. Kaif, after many successful outings had to sit out in the recent Zimbabwe test. He was excluded to accommodate you. Now things have come a full circle for you.
As things stand, Dada, it is better you quit. It is not an advice. Just a friendly plea. Because you will find it difficult to get back into the team as long as Dravid And Chappell at helm. Consider this; Dravid was your deputy for many years, you have helped him, he has helped you but during your exclusion or yesterday’s news of your being dropped, did he utter a word of consolation? Yeah, he said that your contribution was valuable to the team’s cause, but he could have said that in the Selection committee. Or he could at least have called you and said something soothing. But that was not the case.
Cricket is a cruel game. Yesterday’s heroes are today’s villain. So decide upon your future. It is made very clear that you are unwanted. We are such a thankless people, not very long we were hailing you as the savior of Indian Cricket. Now you got the sack and bricks.
Whatever your faults are, be it running out your mates, or performance, you don’t deserve this ridiculing. And call it a day when you can. It is better than being dropped from next series and the next. And the next.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Mumbai Mirror got this on their Radar

This article of mine was published in Mumbai Mirror, a times group publication under the section What world wide web is talking about on 9-Dec-05 Friday.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

God(man)'s plight on a flight

The airports of Luknow, Mumbai and Aurangabad witnessed a different kind of mob outrage yesterday. A very holy man, Narendra Maharaj, has been prohibited from carrying his staff (“dand”) onboard. The Central Industrial Security Force forbade him from entering the flight with the staff. As the word reached Mumbai before the arrival of the Holy man, a mob of about 300 protestors gathered there and besieged the airport. They smashed few cars in Aurangabad airport too.

Later the Maharaj said that he would ask “people’s representatives to take up the issue”. Promptly the Shivsena took up the issue as they are the only representatives left in the country. As they were reeling under the after effect of in-fighting, this was the second elixir of life that they were searching for. The Grand Med collage (JJ HOSP) issue was dying down and they desperately need another straw to clutch on. This was god send. Or rather God man Send.

I am not against of any particular religion, but if the latest developments in India is any indication, We are heading towards another communal riot. Intolerance towards minority and immigrants, resorting to physical violence by the least provocation and as if to add fuel to fire, the statements of the so-called God men or political patriarchs. We are sitting on a communal time bomb and the time is ticking away. The elements in some political outfits are also aiming for a cleansing of some sort.

Somebody said that “if other swamis can carry their staff onboard, why not our Swami?” So what if tomorrow someone else pretending to be a swami and carries a rifle along with him claiming his belief required him to carry that weapon? In a country of great diversity, we must respect the feelings of others too.

On the other hand, Shivsena is fast becoming ever more violent. It is back to it’s roots. Terrorizing tactics and violence. But as Pritish Nandi wrote the other day, India is fast changing and so is Indian Politics. They can’t rely on the outdated techniques forever.

Our cultural rituals and festivals all must be respected and adhered to. But none should come in the way of security. Compromises have already been done on many occasions. Now it’s time to tidy up our act and act tough. Everyone should have equal rules. Be it a big shot politician or a crowd pulling sports star or a self-proclaimed god man.

Some interesting comments in today’s newspaper regarding this incident and my thought about them.

  1. Fr. Tony Charangat, Official Spokesperson of Catholic church.

I don’t know if carrying the staff is an integral part of religion and can’t comment. But everyone should try to observe rules. Carrying cross is not allowed in Saudi Arabia;

Well, this is not Saudi Arabia. They still observe eye-for-eye punishment. And you are allowed to carry your cross here. Don’t you Father? Unlike Saudi, this is a secular country.

  1. Daljith Singh Bal, President, Sikh Association.

Rules should be same for all. Even we are not allowed to carry our kirpans on board despite it being a religious necessity. I don’t think religious leaders should have special rules.

Consider taking up this issue with Shivsena. But chances are likely very bleak since they take up Hindu issues. Or consider starting up something in the line of Shivsena. You can even call it Gurusena.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Maharashtra Vs India

The latest gimmick Shivsena employed to avert the public attention from their own in-fighting and crisis is making headlines. After Raj Thackeray quit all the posts, Shivsainiks were demoralized and bewildered. But the wily Uddhav Thackeray found an opportunistic moment and hijacked the movement started by his cousin, Raj. Now both factions are competing each other who can - cause more destruction, invoke more fear in non-marathis and beat up more Biharis.
A couple of years ago, it was against “Bhayyas”, people from UP, was the subject of Sena’s ire.
A few years ago Shivsena embarked upon something similar. They wanted all the boards and sign boards and nameplates in Marathi. I still remember the Cell operator Orange (Hutch) ‘s main signboard blackened and in crude lettering they painted ‘marathi’. Many of the establishments suffered the same fate. I never heard any case filed against anyone for that.
Further down the memory lane. The Anti-south Indian drive of Shivsena. “Pungi Bachao, Lungi Bhagao”.

Back to present. Last year, Uddhav Thackeray started his “Mee Mumbaikar” campaign. It died an unceremonious death. Sena is back to it’s vandalizing, terrorizing self.
Today many of the Marathis working in Bangalore, Hyderabad and other cities in IT / BPO sector. If the Kannada people start something like this, and then Delhiites starting Morchas, and violence to stop Maharashtrians coming to their state, where are we heading? Aren’t we behaving like separate countries? Is it better to “Declare Freedom from India” and form separate sovereign countries? Mumbai and Thane can be ruled my Maharaja UddavSaheb Thackeray while the rest of Maharashtra can go to Maharaja RajaSaheb Thackeray. Both cousins happy, Marathis happy. And yes, other states too can follow suit.
The attitude of Shivsena is to kick up a dust storm whenever they are in trouble or when they need public outrage to win election. And they very well know what is the sensitive issue with Maharashtrians.
If these guys are really concerned about Marathis, why don’t they attempt to eradicate poverty, illiteracy and bring development? Shivsena was in power and that is the worst period of Maharashtra. Kicking people who belongs to other states means prosperity for Marathis? Is the Shivsena is above the Indian Constitution? Why can’t police act in a neutral manner and booked only the non-maharashtrians?
I guess I asked a lot of questions that has no immediate answer. The terror tactics and vandalism won Shivsena many accolades. They will keep doing it in order to empower Marathis. All the immigrants (Or lower grade citizens), should go back home.
It is a separate country! Jai Maharashtra.!!!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Firebrands Fired!!!

The recent two incidents send shocking waves across Indian political fraternity. They are not connected each other but similar in nature and it’s result. Raj Thackeray revolt causes heartburn to Shivsena, “Sanyasin” Uma Bharti’s outburst resulted in her ouster from the party. (As of now, the news is not confirmed, but all indications points towards her ouster).
There is a lot of similarities between these two leaders. Both are hardcore Hindutva advocates, Loves to be in the spotlight, uncanny knack to incite their followers with inflammatory speeches and both are sidelined in their own party due to their misgivings abot the leadership. At a time both these leaders where the party’s lifeline and they provided the much needed charisma to their election campaigns. They were largely responsible for their party’s turn-around of fortunes in their state and seen as the heirs of their respective outfit’s top post. An analysis of their fall out;
Uma Bharti.
She was the firebrand leader, a hardcore Hindutva advocate and, to top it all, a Sanyasin. Her saffron robs and the ability to stir the mob through her speeches gave her an aura of invincibility. And at a time when BJP doesn’t have a strong second-line leaders and VHP & RSS was the party’s main core, Uma grew to fill this vacuum. She was the pet of party. But it all changed after the arrival of GenNext leaders like Pramod Mahajan, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj. They led the party towards mild-hindutva and this caused the RSS & VHP lost it’s stranglehold on the party. BJP has become more or less like another parties. It has lost it’s cadre nature and has become power hungry.
Ms. Bharti’s outburst last year was a precursor to the things that are in store. L.K. Advani’s remarks about Jinna in Pakistan had caused further alienation of VHP & RSS from BJP and Ms. Bharti scooped up the opportunity to appease the VHP by openly criticizing Advani. But to her utter astonishment, no one come for rescue when party suspended her. Then she apologized and made her comeback to the fold. But this time, when the party denied her the post of CM of Madhya Pradesh, she came out and started her attack on BJP.
Raj Thackeray
Much the same story as Uma Bharti. Was an upcoming politician, blessed with mass appeal and sharp tongue. The apparent heir to Bal Thackeray until Thackeray Sr. appointed his own son as the chief. Under him his influence wilted and his followers were denied assembly tickets. Things were heading to an all-time low for Raj when he spoke publicly against the way things carried out in Shivsena. But the first revolt was tamed by the Lion, Bal Thackeray, by inviting Raj to his house and the three made a round table discussion. As a result Raj was assured more say in things, more executive powers and gave him more powers. On Paper. In fact Uddhav was more determined to cut down his powers and the next assembly election saw Raj’s supporters denied tickets. This led to the last rebellion and Raj is busy meeting his functionaries to float his own party.

It all boils down to one thing. POWER. Everyone wants a piece of the pie. Upon denied, they start pointing fingers and rebellion. Some may succeed in politics by either means. Their own party or joining some other. Some fades into the pages of history. Anyway No India has got Two more party. That brings up the number to 1002(aprox). For those who don’t know read my previous article It’s Raining Parties in India .This will give you a fair idea about indian politics!

An Evening with Hariharan

Last Saturday, Vasai saw an interesting concert by India’s popular ghazal, playback and pop singer Hariharan. It was an interesting evening with my idol.

Monday, November 28, 2005

It's Raining 'parties' in India

It’s Raining parties in India! Literally! I was searching for some poll-related data in Election commission’s website when I stumbled upon this. We have around 60 parties recognized by the commission! 60 parties!! But this data is highly contradicting the Bihar election result given in this page.

Some 80 parties contested the poll there! Only in Bihar!

And look at this. This is just a list of General Lok sabha Election Resluts 2004.

Around 300 parties listed! All over India. But the real figure is way above this. Some in the region of 1000 +.

It seems everyday s new party is born. Look at Kerala’s veteran congress leader K. Karunakaran. He revolted against the state leadership about the inclusion of HIS SON & DAUGHTER in the cabinet and / or some plum posting for them. They contested the last state elections and failed miserably. So he split from Congress and formed a new party called Democratic Indira Congress (DIC). What about Bal Thakeray, once the roaring tiger of Maharashtra, now facing an exodus from his party. Those who chose to leave him were giving the same reason. Inefficient and partial running of the party.

Not forgetting Deve Gouda, Devilal, Scindia Family, Gandhi Family. They all have their sons and daughters following in their footsteps and one time or the other faced the revolt because of this.

In the quest to survive at any cost, and install their offsprings at the helm, these ‘chanakyas’ of Indian politics defy all logic and succumb to the inevitable.

Another instance is if a leader is expelled from a party for any reason, be it corruption, or even conspiracy against state, they immediately float a new party. Lots of examples for that too. These self-anointed demy-gods claims to have a broad voter base support and by hook or crook they get elected.

Any way India is getting richer everyday in terms of number of political parties. The election commission is already struggling to assign symbols to all of them. And these guys are struggling to find alphabets to distinguish themselves from their former party since they all want the same name. Try some of these names

Kerala Congress (M) – Mani Group – Now bringing his son to the top and revolt started already

Kerala Congress (J) - Joseph

Kerala Congress (B) – Balakrishna Pillai His son is already an MLA

Kerala Congress (J) – Jacob Group

Kerala Congress (P) – P.C.Thomas

All are State parties of Kerala!

Let’s hope they stop at 26. Upto Z.

And these!

Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam - DMK

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam - AIDMK

All India Dravida munnetra Kazhakam – AIDMK

Pattali Makkal Katchi – PMK

Lots of namesakes? There is more. How About Telugu Desham Party X 3? TDP. NTRTDP & ATDP? It’s mind boggling.

Can’t you see now that it’s raining ‘parties’ in INDIA?

Mera Bharat Mahan!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Afghan Butchers

Another innocent has been butchered in the name of Holy War. The recent slaying of an Indian, a Boarder Roads Organization (BRO) Driver, Ramankutty Maniyappan was murdered in Afghanistan by the barbaric forces of a hideous, cowardly unit called Taliban. What was the provocation to kill an innocent, low-profile victim? They haven’t got a publicity or terror mileage by this most un-Islamic act. And the killing was not Taliban-like. They have executed him in a hurry. They don’t even bother about contacting the embassy and demanding his ransom. So what was the intent behind the kidnapping? No news about the other Afghans who were kidnapped along with him.

The chronology of the incident;

Kidnapped on 19th Nov 2005 afternoon

Same day evening an unidentified caller claimed that Mr. Kutty is kidnapped by Taliban.

20th Nov 2005. A press release purportedly from Taliban states that If BRO doesn’t stop the work and leave Afghanistan, he will be executed.

22nd Nov 2005. A message reached press that Mr. Kutty has been shot dead.

23rd Nov 2005. His body recovered. The throat was slit.

In any of the stage, they haven’t made a demand directly to the Embassy or Government. This raises a few questions.

  1. Was this kidnap & murder really done by Taliban? They are known to be barbaric and throat-slitting is their proven method of killing their victims (Remember journalist Daniel Pearl). But they set a time frame to meet their demand and wait until then. In this case it was no so.
  2. As per the Government statements, they haven’t received any demands from Taliban. But a section of the press reported that the Government is in fact got it and are discussing it. But the Government never acknowledged it.
  3. If the collective effort of Indian and Afghan Governments failed to locate or even establish contact with kidnappers then what about the security of others working there?
  4. Could this be a handiwork of other elements? There could be a lot of reasons. Professional and personal reasons. In a country as anarchist and as lawless as Afghanistan, killing a low-rung person like him is a walk in the park. And they easily put the blame on Taliban.

May you guys stamp me with a “conspiracy-theorist” but thinking more about it, I am in great confusion. Or someone please answer the following queries.

  1. What Taliban will gain from murdering a low-profile man like him? Daniel Pearl was a high profile journalist and whole of the world was shocked but that killing.
  2. Why there was no demand for Ransom? (provided the government is not lying)
  3. Why there was no time frame set to BRO’s leaving Afghanistan?
  4. Why he was murdered even before the government or authorities to discuss the purported demand and killed him within 48 hours of capture?

Whatever the conclusion, two small children and a mother become orphans overnight. The picture of a wailing two-year old not knowing why his mother and brother are crying will forever haunt me. The senseless loss of a life and the consequences it cause can not be compensated with a job and 10 lakh rupees. Steps must be taken to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Find the real culprits and, don’t hang them. Just cut their throats. Let them know the pain when the last breath escaping through the slit-open throat.

PS: Opposition Leader of Kerala, Mr. Achutanandan blames CM Oommen Chandy for this incident. Had he been the CM, what could have he done within 48 hours? Poor fellow clutching to the last straws before he is drowned by the Pinarai Group.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Kushboo; The scapegoat of Tamilnadu

Actress Kushboo is in a real mess. She has committed a heinous crime by speaking her mind out. And Suhasini, the famous south actress and director wife of famous director Mani Ratnam also made to eat humble pie for her remarks supporting Kushboo. What’s the big issue? Kushboo publicly stated that pre-marital sex is not a sin, but a reality and no man should expect his spouse to be virgin. Well, not verbatim but in this meaning. It was more than enough for the moral police to charge her with everything except murder and drag her to the court. While some of the courts dismissed the petitions as baseless, some courts thought otherwise. So as it is, she is fighting a (losing?) battle. All by herself.

She was just speaking the plain truth and these could have used to make the hugely innocent and unknowing people to become aware about the perils of un-protected sex and sexual education. Instead they chose to ignore the issue and make her pay for her openness.

Let us check some startling statistics.

In India, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is assuming catastrophic proportions. In fact India is on the verge of breaking the 1% of total population barrier. It must have already but as you know the statistics regarding AIDS/HIV is very vague. The stigma and discrimination attached to this disease is stopping people from going in for check-ups and confirming. And they keep on spreading it to unsuspecting partners

Check the following figures;

(As on 31st July, 2005)

S. No.


AIDS Cases


Andhra Pradesh






Arunachal Pradesh



A & N Islands









Chandigarh (UT)






Daman & Diu



Dadra & Nagar Haveli












Himachal Pradesh






Jammu & Kashmir












Madhya Pradesh










































Uttar Pradesh



West Bengal



A,bad Mun.Corp.



Chennai M.C.



Mumbai M.C




Tamilnadu has the highest cases reported this year!

So sex is not a forbidden fruit here any more! As per NACO statistics more than 85% are infected by sexual transmission. But don’t be scared yet! What you are seeing the just the tip of iceberg. The real mountain is under water, hidden from your eyes.

The need of the hour is to educate people about the perils of this and do some serious work to prevent it’s further spreading. But these people seems to be enveloped in some false issues like Tamil Pride and petty stuff like that. In any other state Kushboo could become a AIDS spokesperson and the government would jump to have her on the AIDS awareness programs considering her enormous fan following. Remember, once these same Tamilians built a temple for her.

We should admit that India is indeed changing. The veiled and sex-is-taboo girl is already banished to the pages of history. And why not? It is not in any society’s interest to keep females chained to the tradition and discipline. When men can not adhere to these rules, how can you expect your woman to be?

The last but not least. Watch any of these Tamil Channels for Film songs, and serials. There you can see scantily clad females dancing with their Heroes and these very people enjoy and watch it. What can you call it except hypocrisy? What they say is not what they speak for. Just double standard male chauvinistic mentality. It’s time that every one take a real view at the grim situation and work in unison. If you keep clinging to your beliefs and hope for the best, one day the catastrophic wind that is brewing right under your nose, called AIDS, will blow away you with it’s sheer power and then there won’t be any time to make amends. So rally behind people who are seeing the reality instead of crucifying them.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Next Step Backward

Our “apostle of poor “ Medhaji once again is on the war path. Bad boy Mr. Vilasrao declared war against the illegal slums and Medhaji jumped into the fray once again. What to do? She wanted peace and at this age want to go to the Himalayas and spend the rest of her life in solitude. But the poor creature is dragged into the fighting path by the social imbalance and the cruelty towards poor, rivers and you name it. If she leave the scene who is there to save the poor? Mr. Deshmukh’s bad boys will raze their shanties and they will once again be homeless.

Who am I kidding with? Myself. Poor me. What a joke these slum demolitions become. Our International Airport desperately need the space and the Airport Authority of India (AAI) have enough space. The only problem is that some encroachers, read Slum Lords, have illegally built shanties and now thousands of poor immigrants and sons-of-soil resides there. Without rehabilitating them, no new development is possible.

Camera pan to Bandra. To the banks of Mahim Creek. A few years back it was full of mangroves, and nothing else. Today, the west of Mahim’s side is full of shanties. No one saw this? Now they also can claim that they reside there for the last 5 years and fall in this pre-2000 category. They can show the records too. In India making fake documents are like making sandwiches. Easy, available everywhere.

So our poor Medhaji is there to fight for the slum dwellers. And some of the activists told the media that they “will oppose the move to demolish the building. If there’s repercussions, so be it”. Now we can see lathi-charges, close-ups of demolished slums and weeping women, and the omni present local MLA. His dirty smile filling the TV screen. One such MLA stopped the demolition drive of his own CM in Kurla.

So there is a lot of saviors for the poor “aam aadmi”. Now tell me who is there for the city? We envision our city to be the next shanghai. Yes. But how? There are thousands of people coming to Mumbai everyday. If they all decided to erect a shanty at ever available inch, how can we be Shanghai? Leave Shanghai, how can we be Mumbai? Yes this problem has a humane face. True. But did you ever thought of the plight of those who, Every day, commutes from Virar to church gate & back? The un-potable water they drink? Do you want to save these slums at the expense of them? The money and land which the city desperately needs is stuck. And petty political games of some small time goons have stopped bigger plans. Medha Patkar, your intentions are very clear. As recently declared, you too wanted to join the politics. Why? If you are a good activist, why should you join politics? Is it the money or power that politics offer?

Oh yeah. I forgot. India needs leaders like you. The efficient, effervescent leaders who can take the nation to next step. Next step Backward.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Delhi Blasts

Another serial blast at the heart of India, send shock waves throughout the country. India has long been at the receiving end of Terrorism, specifically, Pakistan (ISI) promoted terrorism. Recent development between India and Pakistan showed some positive sign in their relation, but what this blast will do to it is yet to be seen. The last time when terrorists attacked parliament and the ensuing crack-down at Kargil is still afresh in everyone’s mind.

Right after the Earth Quake that shook the Kashmir region, there were a lot of speculations about the destroyed Militant training camps at POK. But in fact they have managed to survive and planned and executed this act of destruction. This shows that these hard-core fanatics have unlimited supply of explosives and manpower. President Musharraff tried to clamp down illegal Madrasas but he had to back track due to public outcry. It is common knowledge that these Madrasa’s are breeding ground for budding terrorists and a recruitment place for the militant outfits. They must have used the Earth Quake strategically and while the security forces were busy with Rescue work, they pushed a few of their people across the LOC. Joined with other whom already ‘in’, they executed the plan.

This was a well-thought, strategically selected timing. It’s the holy month for Muslims, and the Hindu Festival, Deepawali, is just round the corner. This is the time of year when everyone gets together and do shopping etc. The time was perfect to inflict maximum damage.

India’s resilience was on display once again. Delhi moved back to normalcy a day after and such a cowardly act doesn’t dampen the spirit of Indians. the brain washed, propaganda fed young Muslim youths who are destined to be cannon fodder, should understand one thing. The killing of innocents in the holy month of Ramadan, you are inviting the wrath of the people who you claim to be representing. You are uncovered. Your real face has been unmasked. The true Muslims of this nation will rise once again and in that collective and massive roar, you will be drowned. And Finished.

Authenticity of Chain Mails

It was right after the Hurricane Katrina. I received an e-mail from one of my colleague. It was with this subject line;

Hurricane Katrina; A close encounter.

And it had some jpeg attachments. When I opened them since it was from our internal server, it was showing some Hurricane Katrina photograph supposedly taken just before the storm hit the land. And my administration department went one step further. They printed it out and displayed on the notice board. I have to take the administration staff to the site called and explain the workings of chain mail. The next day they removed it sheepishly.

Like this when Space Shuttle Columbia was disintegrated on its return to earth, a same kind of E-mail did its rounds. Supposedly taken by an Israeli Spy satellite, it was snaps of the disintegration at different stages. Some small-time special Effect maker’s handiwork.

If anyone had ever received such e-mails just look here. It must have listed as fake.

Don’t believe anything that you receive from internet. And don’t propagate them too. Destroy it. You should be the last in a long list. Carelessly forwarded to your friends, and your e-mail ID could end up in a spammer’s database along with your friend’s.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Electrocuted on the train!!!

In a bizarre and shocking incident a young man was electrocuted while traveling on top of a Virar Local right in front of a station full of commuters on the 25th of Oct 2005.

It happened on 5:57 PM (Starting time from ChurchGate) Virar local. As usual the train left ChurchGate on correct time. But soon after leaving Mumbai Central station, the train started moving in a slow pace and at Dadar it stopped for 15 minutes. Each passing minute the crowd was swelling and by the time it reached Bandra, it was impossible to accommodate one more foot.

Now all the trains were running late due a Rajdhani break-down down the line and at Andheri Station a group of young men, after some fruitless tries to get in, climbed on top the coaches. I was standing inside and was watching the plight of these people, suddenly everybody’s hand went to their mouth and I could see utter fear on their face. But Before I could ask anything, the train moved. As learned later, they were witnessing the horrible death of the unfortunate man. After moving a few meters, it stopped again due to someone pulling the chain. It moved within two seconds and again stopped. This repeated 3 times and all the time, the people on the platform were pointing towards the coach and shouting. But no one tried to do anything.

Later when I got down at Vasai (It was unthinkable to get down and inspect what was the commotion, before Bhayander) and decided to check what it was, and I found this man lying on his back, his hands hidden behind the thick wires of the pantograph and was dead. He decided to climb on top, and must have grabbed one of those wires when the train moved. It may not be a big thing for the cops at Andheri, Borivali or Vasai stations since they see a lot of deaths every day on the tracks. But for the ordinary man it was a horrifying sight. What bothered me is the total lack of concern from the part of Motorman, the cops on duty and the station master.

One young man, who boarded the train from the same station as the deceased, was pleading with the cops in Vasai to stop the train and remove the body. He said he tried to call the police, the emergency line of Railways specially designed for this kind of accidents, but all of those lines were busy. While the cops were attentive to his pleading, they did nothing. And the train passed carrying some 4000 passengers and a dead body.

This incident raises a few questions about the passenger security.

  1. Even after repeatedly pulling the chains, the train kept moving. Had the Motormen stopped the train after the first pulling, may be, just may be they could save him?
  2. The dead body was lying on top of the engine coach, while other sat on top of the train and the cops were doing nothing to get them down. Why these police deployed at stations then?
  3. The dead body was lying there for almost 1 ½ hour without anyone attending. Is this the famous Mumbai resilience and compassion?
  4. What is the use of such emergency lines when it is not accessible in an emergency?

The need of the hour is to sensitize the officials and police. Their minds may have ceased to have any feelings. But when some prompt action could save lives, they should take the action instead of being just an onlooker. We need to learn to respect the dead, the way Americans do. At least let them rest honorably.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Who will Guard the guardians?

Yet another incident of rape by a police man! This time it’s a rag picker aged 15! The shock of a high profile rape, in which a constable raped a collage student inside the Marine Drive police station, not yet subsided. In this year, 6 cases of sexual assault by police men are registered. Why the keepers of Law themselves break it? There is surge in crimes like Assault, Blackmailing, indiscipline, Corruption, Molesting, Murder involving the Police. Some top cops are cooling their heels in the jail for charges varying from custody-death to stamp paper scam to Underworld connections! The Mumbai police, not long ago, touted as the best in the country. Their case-solving percentage was one of the highest in the world. What happened to such a highly efficient and alert force to stoop to such depths? Is it a phenomenon that engulfed the entire force? Or is it just some criminal elements that ruining the name of the entire force? Just look at some of the incidents this writer witnessed to;

  1. A poor Newspaper vendor selling papers on Khar East Bridge. Three Uniformed railway police came to him, and picked up THREE copies of a Marathi paper! One for EACH!! And went without paying.
  2. In the same area, a policeman picked a bagful of Tomatoes from a street side vendor. Ofcource without paying.
  3. In Fort area, a policeman tried to take a handful of chocolates from a street side vendor after taking his regular Hafta. When the shop keeper protested, threatens him.

What is the justification for such acts? It is a common knowledge that Police doesn’t pay for the service they hire/buy. True they are underpaid, living in poor conditions, and are working 18 stressful hours a day! If that’s an excuse, then criminals are also have the same problem! What’s more, they don’t have a regular income!

Our police forces, mainly the lower rung, still lives in those British Raj times. Then they have sweeping powers, and people looked at them with fear. 3rd degree was a common practice and custody deaths were not a hot-topic. The times have changed, but the police not. Now the public are more aware about their rights, and often argue with policemen. They still think they can get away with such rowdism.

Another thing to note is almost all these crimes committed under the influence of alcohol. A lot of policemen consume liquor while on duty. It is assuming gigantic proportions. What if there is some emergency and required them to act immediately? Can they still function without any problem? The police are enforcing draconian laws like the Plastic ban even when the government set a one-month period to know the public reaction. But no one is interested in curbing these criminal activities within the police.

There was reports showing a new trend in recruitment. More and more educated youth opting to join the police and its good news. With them around, and these under-educated thugs are fast fading, such incidents too fade and a new, vibrant and efficient police force emerge. Till then, there is no respite despite all the laws and an active judiciary.