Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Monsoon Chronology 2006 - Day 1

Day 1 - May 31, 2006
There was a general perception that after 26/7 debacle, the BMC and Railways are better prepared this time to deal with the rains. But this proved to be entirely wrong. On the first day itself, the life is thrown out of track. The entire system came to a standstill, or close to it. Snarl-ups were everywhere. Most of the arterial roads witnessed chock-a-block traffic. Water-logging in various places made movement difficult, if not impossible. The tall claims of the CM and BMC authorities were proved to be entirely fictitious. Or relied on statements, not on facts. If the drains and Nallahs are cleaned properly, how could this happen? The ironic thing is, the BMC head quarters was under knee deep water. And the recently inagurated, with much fanfare, control room was out of power.

For the railway commuters, the first day brought back memories of 26/7. inundated tracks made trains delay as much as three hours late in Central Railway. One of my colleague caught the train from CST at 6:37 and she reached Vidhya Vihar by 9:45. Otherwise a 45 minute commute. So much for the precautions. At Sion, where tracks are a low level, water rose to inches below the platform.
Harbour & Western Railways claim to have less impact and their schedule is only 45 Minutes. but in reality, Western Railway is as much hit as central. Those who got into the 7:59 reached Virar by 10:45. Normally a 1:25 minute journey took them almost three hours.

The irritating thing is, even though most of the trains are equipped with a one-way radio, ther was no announcement in the train. All the windows were shut, the heat emanating from ever growing crowd, life was hell inside the compartments. People had to stay in this unbearably humid conditions for long while without having a clue as to when the train will move or why they are being held-up. When are the motormen and railways going to learn some Public Relation excersizes?

To sum up, the unexpected heavy rains in the beginning itself caught everyone off-guard. It was testing times for the average mumbaikar who had to suffer the most. Coming days will bring respite or make the situation worse is yet to be seen.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Welcome Monsoon

The monsoon is here! What a relief for the Mumbaikar, who suffered under the sweltering conditions. The pied crested Coockoo, the harbinger of Monsoon, is spotted in Mumbai. As on cue, today morning was a bit gloomy with all those dark clouds hovering above. Some of the places in Mumbai, the lucky ones, got a few showers too. But the best thing is the suffocating humidity is considerably reduced and merciless sun is stifled by the dark clouds.
As with every prediction, this time too, our IMD got it all wrong. They predicted June 7 with a 3 day error margin, but it may not go beyond 2nd Of June. The news from kerala is, the south west monsoon is at full force there for the past 5 days and causing a lot of damages. For Mumbai, it's music. It means the monsoon will reach here within 6-7 days. And it's already 5 days.
So take out your umbrellas, rain coats, those rain shoes etc.. And pray to god not to repeat last year.
You could expect some rain shots right here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Some photos...

This shot happened without any planning....

This is shot at Vasai St. Michael's church. Scanning destroyed half the beauty. :)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Nepal King- Dug his own grave

The Nepal Parliament passed a legislation to become a Secular state and stripped the King of all his powers. And renamed the government from “His Majesty’s Government” to simply “Nepal Government”. And the army is renamed from “Royal Nepal Army” to “Nepalies Army”. The king is stripped of his powers and made his title just that. A title. Here onwards he will have no immunity from Law, have to pay tax and will have to adhere to the law of the Land.
This is an astounding victory for democracy and the people of Nepal. There was no way the King could have continued in his dictatorship. Six months he has ruled the Himalayan kingdom with an iron fist and now the table is turned. His erstwhile government’s office bearers are facing charges of the atrocities they committed against the people’s movement against the kingdom. Some of them will surely spend a few years behind the bar.
What a contrast between the last king and present one. King Birendra was loved by every one and mild mannered. This one was arrogant and loved by no one. The circumstances in which he got to power are highly suspicious. The Shah dynasty, which was established in 17th century, may die an unceremonious death with this patriarch. Poor Paras, his dream of becoming the king has badly mangled.

The changing face of Christianity in India

The Ban request
Finally the film “The Da Vinci Code” is cleared for release in India despite the opposition from Indian Christians. The censor board and special committee reviewed the film and told the distributors to add a disclaimer saying it is a work of fiction. I have read the book and found it is a good read. A good work of fiction. That’s it. It is, in no way influenced my belief nor it changed the way I see Christ & Christianity..
A bounty for the head of Dan Brown
So why Indian Christians reacted in such fierce way? The film is released in 36 countries including Italy. Why a particular Nicholas Almeida announced 110,000 RS as a reward to bring Dan Brown “Dead or Alive” in front of him. Okay, what is he going to do once he is brought to him? Slap him? Or sentence him to death? Wasn’t he acting like some other fanatics from UP, who announced a similar bounty for anyone who kill some Danish Cartoonists even though he denies it? Or was it just an attempt to gather some mileage and catapult himself into the limelight?
Changing Basics?
Over the years Christianity has suffered a lot. Right from the time of Christ to this date many of the followers been killed or battered. In India there are several cases comes into mind. Particularly The Graham Staines Case and the rape of Nuns in Orissa. And many more attacks on priests and church goers and destruction of churches. In Mumbai some Vandals disrupted a prayer meeting and beat up the pastor and devotees. All the while, Christians held peaceful marches and candle-light rallies but never were aggressive. That’s the fundamental of the religion. Tolerance and absolution. So why, in a rare gesture, Christian groups exploded? I am here trying to look beyond the film and trying to figure out the changing mindsets.
It has started with the changing scenario of world order. After 9/11 there was the War on Terror and Islam, as a group, is viewed as dangerous. Though a few unscrupulous elements in that society are terrorizing the world, the whole community had to suffer. As a result, even mild-mannered Muslims are forced to come out against US and most of Europe. For the poor and un-educated this translated as Christians. For them, US and Britain is Christians. The opportunistic leaders took full advantage of this situation and compared the present situation to Crusade. They were successful in furthering the divide. They were so successful in their anti-US protests and always got media mileage by their outrageous ways of protests. Then come the cartoon imbroglio which further underlined the effectiveness of violent protests. The entire world took notice of growing unrest and had to withdraw the cartoons.
On the other end of the spectrum, The Hindu organizations were always successful in their campaign. The Pravin Togadias, Sudarshans, Modis and Thackerays always held sway with the media and their inflammatory speeches fuelled the mob fury. They can bring down a centuries old shrine and still get away with it. When their shrines are attacked, Akshardam, Ayodhya Makeshift temple, the perpetrators are caught and the police action is swift. But when it comes to Christian churches being torn down or priests and Nuns are attacked, no one raises a finger.
Slowly and steadily this wrong conception, of violence getting notice, started seeping into their subconscious mind. The Film ‘Sins’ was the test case. The film, in which a Catholic priest was portrayed in a sexual manner ignited passion among the same group and protests were held.
Finally the Christian groups that is growing less tolerant to religious matters taking a leaf from the above mentioned religions. If they can do it, Why can’t us? is the question. Where this will lead the community, which is noted for its charity and tolerance is beyond my comprehension. But Indian Christians have finally turned a leaf and there won’t be a turning back.
May be we will see a blanket ban request regarding religious matters. From there onwards, no filmmaker can portray a deity in ill manner. No priests or Nuns can’t be depicted in it. No Purohits or Maulavis will ever hold a dark role. No churches or Mosques or Mandirs can’t be shown as the place of crime. And it’s an end to all protests regarding Films. Peace at last is here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Explosives seized in Nashik

Image obtained from Times Of India

May 8 – 40 Kg of RDX seized from suspected LeT terrorists from Aurngabad-nashik highway
May 14 – 50 Powerful grenades along with other explosives found from Nashik.
May 17 – 13.5 Kg of RDX, 5 Kalashnikov, live ammunition seized from Nashik.

The recent seizure of high-grade explosives and other ammunitions and the subsequent arrests of some terrorists is worrisome news for the Mumbai Cops. The proximity of these sites to Mumbai makes it more disturbing. If the rumblings are any indication, then the terrorists are planning for a major operation within or near to this City.
For those who follow the terrorist movements, things have been little quiet for some time. No major operations, no press statements and no major scale infiltration. All these points to one thing. They are preparing for some big challenge. Was this consignment heading for Mumbai or was it meant for Kashmir?
The timely discovery and seizure of this explosives and live ammunition might have deferred a catastrophe but how much of it has gone undetected is unknown. Keep your fingers crossed and stay alert.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Public Land encroachers put in a spot by SC

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court said that squatters have no right to encroach upon public land. The land mafia in Mumbai has long been exploited the politics underlying this issue to make easy money. And the relentless influx of immigrants from other states helped them to encroach upon more public land and later use the humanity card to ensure they get rehabilitated at state’s expense.
5 years ago, the west side of Mithi River at Bandra station was full of mangroves. Today countless shanties have come up their and it has been eating into the mangroves gradually.
The political parties have so long approached this issue with a pro-slum attitude. Since this comprise a huge vote-bank, they couldn’t, or wouldn’t want to, do anything. And whenever the Municipal Corporation embark upon a demolition drive, the local MLA would oppose and bring the whole proceedings to a halt. A case in point is the eviction of slum dwellers from Airport Authority Land at Kurla. BMC started the demolition but after MLA’s intervention, had to drop it.
The arguments invoked in such cases are, poverty, desperation etc. But the court rejected this arguments upright and said, “Poverty or desperation doesn’t mean they (encroachers) can do anything illegal”. If one poor man robs a bank and claim his desperation made him do it, does it stand in any court? The counsel should have known better.
The next argument was “there is no other places them to go in the scorching sun. The court retorted by “In India, we have three climates. Heat, Rain and winter. If we accept your argument, then there will never be an appropriate time to evict them”
Brushing aside other arguments based on compassion and these people are here since 1070 and came here to find jobs because they have no means of finding livelihood back home, the court said, “No one forced you to come here. Stay wherever you can. If public land encroachments are allowed, there will be anarchy. Tomorrow these people will start living here at Supreme Court claiming a right. If you are occupying public land, what to talk about fundamental right, you have no right to stay there for a minute longer”
An astounding victory for Municipal corporations, and a slap on the face of encroachers and activists who lobby for rehabilitation, I would say. Hope this will further strengthen the Municipal corporations to establish sanity and prevent further encroachment. In Mumbai, there are few open spaces left. This verdict may preserve them from the strangle hold of encroachers who keep coming in hordes into the city.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Pramod Mahajan passes away

Image courtesy;

Just received;
Pramod Mahajan Passes away.
The death came at 2:30 PM (IST).
All his family members were present at the time of death
My condolence to the grieving family

The situation at Hinduja Hospital is very grim. Mr. Mahajan's heath has taken a turn for worst and reported to be in grave danger. Most of the vital organs, lungs, kidneys, pancreas have stop funtioning. for the first time since his hospitalisation, his whole family was allowed to go into the ICU and spend some time with him. Doctors said that his body stopped to responding to medicines. Senior leaders of both BJP and ShivSena is camping at the hospital and monitoring the developments.
Last few days, there was a slight improvement in his condition and doctors lowered the dosage of medicines that controlled his errattic blood pressure. And the body responded in a positive way. This gave hope but since the infection in lungs got out of control, doctors stopped the medications and asked his family to "pray for a miracle".

My heart goes out to the grieving family and though never met him, he was like a friend. Every day in news, most of the time for positive news. An embattled and tireless politician, a superb manager, and a future prime minister that he was, it looks like he is going to lose the final battle.