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.

In the name of GOD

This festival season has been a little quieter than ever. Though Diwali is just round the corner, there is strong reason to believe that too, will be a quieter experience. Thanks to the Supreme Court, people can live peacefully during the Ganpati Immersion, Dassera and hopefully, Diwali.

On the day of Dassera, I had a different kind of experience. I was on my way to the Hospital, to see one of my friends admitted there. I stay at Vasai, a small township north to Mumbai. The hospital was around 15 Minutes distance from my place and the Visiting time ends by 7:30 PM. So I caught this Rickshaw by 7:00 PM so that I can be there well before the visiting time ends. Since Vasai is a small city and in the last 10 years, the population has more than doubled, the roads are not wide and well maintained. As a result, in the evenings, the roads resemble a busy Mumbai intersection. Chock-a-block traffic and blaring horns, dust and oppressive heat. I ventured out on such an evening.

The Journey took me 1 hour 20 minutes exactly. Reason? A small procession of Devi devotees was dancing their way to the immersion place. The motley group has around 30-35 people, including children and women. The road block was extended up to Ambadi Naka, from Stella, a distance of 1.2 KM! This is the arterial road leading to Vasai Gaon and they have blocked the road completely! Only a couple of meters space was available for a 4 lane traffic! I was made to sit in that dingy Rickshaw inhaling the exhaust fumes from the vehicles that were furiously racing their engines as if to speed up the procession. But they were taking their own sweet time. At last, after 1 Hour and 20 Minutes, we reached the front and I finally the hospital by 8:30.

Imagine a situation where a fatally wounded or heart failed patient on his way to hospital? Or a woman in labor pain? Haven’t these guys thought about it? How they, in the name of religion, can do this to the society? The police were seen busily controlling the traffic but what can they do when the road is totally blocked? They should have controlled the mob from the beginning and made them move through the side. But in India, anything can be done in the name of religion. A few months back, there was a court order banning all Bhajans and Poojas in Local Trains. But those who do this still continue it unabated. But check the background of the verdict. When a Muslim organization declared that, they too, will start their ghazals and reading of Koran in local trains; someone went ahead and filed a PIL and the subsequent verdict.

Has India become a judicial state? Don’t we have an effective low and order system? Or has it completely collapsed and the common man has to approach the court every time his fundamental rights are denied? True, India is a secular country and everyone has the right to worship his choice of god, but not at the expense of someone else’ fundamental right.

Can’t they do this kind of public processions at mid-night when traffic is light? Or can’t they select some less-traveled roads? We have to consider about others before we embark on something like that. What was that the got from all these? They pleased the god? As a society we cease to know what others feel. We have become a selfish lot. God Help us.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Left's Coalition Drama

It’s been more than one year since Mr. Man Mohan Singh was living under the Damocles’ sword. Literally. A sword called The Left Alliance. Every time Mr. Singh declare some new policy, be it privatization of BHEL or new foreign policy, it’s been undermined by this determined partner of his coalition. They were armed by the fact that, if they pull out from the coalition, the government is finished.

After 2004 elections, the most surprised group was the left itself. They were actually won an influential number! The initial euphoria and excitement led the leaders to make contradicting statements. Some said they will join the UPA government and some said they will sit in the opposition. Lack of co-ordination and never-before position of strength led them to a near-ecstatic mindset. This was a clear indication of what is to come.

They started flexing their muscles after the honeymoon is over with UPA government. The very thought of handing over the PSUs to private players agitated them. But what was annoying them is not the loss to the PSU sector, but the loss of strong hold of union. As everyone knows, most of the national unions are controlled by the Left parties, mainly in Kerala, Bengal, Manipur & Tripura. If these PSUs are privatized, or even corporatized, they stand to loose huge earnings as a more efficient management means the end of Unionism. Or at least the workers had to work and if they are working, they have no time to do party work.

Pan to Kerala, one of the most literate states in India. But 10% of India’s total unemployment is from this same state. But why? The state has a highly qualified and well equipped young generation but no opportunity. The real reason goes back a long way.

Kerala has the unique distinction of electing a communist government by democratic means. Then the time was ripe for a revolution, and the government brought in land reforms which enabled the poor to own the land where they worked for their zamindars. It was a time for such ideology. Once that social divide is bridged, the very existences of these communist parties are questioned. The goal achieved. The mission is over. What next? From that point onwards, the contamination of Marxism or communism, started. They latched on to petty political issues, created non-existing issues to strike and closed down many factories and industries. To the industrialist the message was clear. You are not welcome. The writer belongs to this state and have first hand experience of how someone can destroy the growth of a state. Only one reason. The left parties spine was young blood. As long as there is poverty and unsatisfied youths, they have a chance. To maintain this chance, they need to create a vacuum. A void. The tactics used for this purpose are outrageous.

Just imagine this. You are shifting your business / house to some other location. You have your own employees who can do the loading and unloading of your furniture and other heavy stuff. The local trade union won’t allow you to do this. It’s their right to do that type of work in that locality. But if are ready to pay, “Noku Kooli” or Watching charge, which is the same as loading charge, they would let you do the loading. Till recently this barbaric practice was in place. This was the extreme the left parties went to. Just to create panic and turn back the industries. There was a famous movie, Varavelpu, in which the protagonist worked in some gulf contries and coming back to his mother land with his hard-earned money, to start a bus service. The unions mark him as bourgeoisies and finally broke him. It was a touching and real story.

Now this same party who fought against accumulation of wealth and social divide, is one of the richest party in Kerala. They own a satellite channel, Kairaly, the leaders travel in imported cars, they go to posh foreign holyday spots, own huge wealth, and most damning, the party secretary was named in one of the biggest scams of Kerala’s history, the Lavlin Case. All these are done in the name of a party which claims to represent the poor and underprivileged.

So the way they destroyed Kerala state is a model for all other states. That’s why some state leader famously said that he is wary of the leftists the way he is wary of a King Cobra. But look to Bengal now. Recent incidents show that how much of a clout the Bengal CM has in the party. In India they oppose privatization, but Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee recently said he welcome 100% FDI in Airports in his state, while he was touring Singapore. There was a big hue and cry from left leaders but after some meetings and brainstorming, the party said what Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said was party’s official line. So why they are opposing the divestment of PSUs? It is common knowledge that a government run organization can never grow beyond a point. There is lot of other interests. Private-run companies are more efficient, fast and user-friendly. So why oppose it?

The next thing was the recent fiasco of Voting against Iran in the UN. Iran itself said that they don’t hold any grudge against India but our poor left leaders are still crying themselves hoarse about the change in our foreign policy. So they want us to stick our decades-old, cold-war-era relations to keep even if at the coast of sacrificing the new more advanced friends. No wonder the left’s saying this. When China attacked India, every one knows where the left’s hearts were. They still live in those times. They look to china for every solution but they don’t see the changes that are turning the Red China into a more vibrant China. The iron curtain is almost gone. They push capitalist reforms. But still their Indian counter parts are living in dark ages and pushing utopian theories.

It might be playing in their minds that, next time they may not see the inside of Lok Sabha again. May be never. That might be the driving force behind these draconian acts. What a pity that no one can now stops the wheels of our nation. It will surge forward and whoever comes into it’s way, will be grounded to earth and thrown to the pages of history!.