|The debate between the generals|
|A piece in the column by Shekhar Gupta, National Interest, has prompted a rebuttal from Ata Hasnain. Gupta referred to a senior 'soldierly' general with five tenures in Kashmir telling him that with 'victory' over the Lashkar achieved, the military had little to do. Hasnain, who was commanding general in Srinagar a little while back, disputes this. He opines that 'victory' needs to be measured against politico-military aims.
Absent government action, the military had to unilaterally set for itself this yardstick: "integrate Jammu and Kashmir with mainstream India, politically, economically, socially and psychologically". He lets on that the aim has not been achieved and it 'would take years of committed campaigning' before it is. Since the army is the only agency with 'the capability to...|
|A marine ecologist documents silent echoes from Koodankulam|
|Idinthakarai is a village with a population of around 11,000 located along the southern coast of Tamil Nadu in Tirunelveli district. The hardworking people of this small hamlet, who are dependent on the sea for their livelihood, would have continued to live their lives in anonymity and in harmony with nature had it not been for the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) that came up barely two kilometres from their homes, severely endangering the largely untouched coastal landscape and becoming a threat to their existence. The plant has now been commissioned despite the spirited resistance to it mounted by the women, youth and children of this fisher community under the banner of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy.
What truly sets them apart from most protesters is their insi...|
|Australia and East Timor|
|And now for something completely different: a spy story that isn't about Edward Snowden's disclosures and the US National Security Agency's surveillance of everything and everybody. This one could come straight out of a 1950s spy thriller: a microphone buried in a wall, a listening post manned by people with headphones, and transcripts of secret conversations delivered to negotiators.
Now it's true that Australia is a member of the Gang of Five, more formally known as the "Five Eyes" (the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand), which share most of the information that they acquire through hi-tech mass surveillance. That's the kind of spying that Snowden's leaks are about, and whatever Australia picks up through this process it presumably shares with its co-...|
|Kashmir issue and International Legal Personality|
|International Legal personality or ILP in its common usage refers to legal rights of a person, an institution or a forum with rights and responsibilities. An ILP can be sued and can file a suit against any infraction of the law. Human being is born with natural rights the creator bestows upon them and at the same time government political legal system confers ILP on their citizens as soon as they are born. The person becomes an entity and has rights and responsibilities and likewise can sue and be sued. This also applies to groups, corporations and in our case, Kashmir. It stipulates independent existence with legal personality in relations with the outside world, a privilege conferred upon them by a sovereign.
'Nation' as defined is the population of the state. Jammu & Kashm...|
|Aam Admi has made grand debut, what next|
|By winning 28 assembly seats in the recently held Delhi assembly elections, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) within a year of its formation on November 26, 2012, has stunned many and surprised others.
While seasoned observers and experts of the domestic political scene were expecting AAP to poll substantial number of votes but literally very few had anticipated such a massive mandate from citizens of the national capital which in a way reflects country's mood, expectations, aspirations and anxieties.
Coming close second to the Bharatiya Janata Party, which bagged 31 seats, the AAP has aroused expectations of its voters who are keen to see its performance while controlling levers of power but it appears that Delhi would have to face another election to clear the prevailing confusion. In absence ...|
|Sizing up Ukraine's Euromaidan|
|Over the last few days, Ukrainian protesters have come out on to the streets to rail against their government's failure to put its final signature on an agreement which would have led to closer integration with the EU. The response has been numerically impressive: preliminary estimates of crowd sizes country-wide run at a few hundred thousand. But there is some disagreement over the exact figures.
An opposition video uses Google Earth maps to show protesters occupying some 40,000 square metres on Kyiv's Independence Square and the main street, Khreshchatyk. If average density is calculated at more than two people per square metre, then peak numbers would have been at least 100,000 at the Kyiv demonstration on December 1st. These numbers are comparable with the scale of the demonstration...|
|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
|Bloodless coup in Delhi|
|If the deadline for filing this column wasn't coming in way, this Wednesday afternoon - the day I'm filing this column - I would have been at the AAP office in New Delhi's Connaught Place. In fact, the last two days I have been in and around there. On Monday morning I boarded the Metro from Gurgaon to CP, then hopped into an auto to reach the AAP office on Hanuman Road. And as I'd got chatting with this the auto driver - believe me, rickshawallahs and auto drivers are the best source of inputs or vital information to those ground realities - I asked him about his reaction to these election results. Stark were his observations, along the strain that its time the politicians of the day realize they ought to reach out to the masses otherwise they'd be booted out of power and out of those bun...|
|Meera's Story: Don't lower the guard on HIV/AIDS|
|I had met Meera (name changed) through a common friend in Kolkata. Meera's husband had died leaving her with a one-year-old daughter. Gradually picking up the pieces, Meera remarried some years later and found a good job. She had happily settled into her new life - until she fell illl and was diagnosed with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). It was hard for her to believe that this was happening to her. It was even harder for her to tell her second husband about her condition. But she did and the disclosure resulted in the end of her second marriage. When Meera learnt about HIV and the symptoms of AIDS, she recalled that she had seen her late husband suffer from those very same symptoms. It was then that she realised he had actually died of AIDS Meera's worst fear came true when her dau...|
|Central African Republic: A genocide forestalled|
|The Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the poorest and most inaccessible countries in the world. It's the size of France, but it only has four and a half million people. It is a serious contender for the title of Worst Governed Country in Africa, and it is now teetering on the brink of a genocide. Something has to be done, and only France was able and willing to do it.
France moves fast. There are already 600 French troops in the capital, Bangui, and another thousand will be moving out into country areas by the end of the week. (There are already 2,500 African peace-keeping troops in the CAR, but they lack transport and don't have orders to shoot.) It has all happened so fast that France hasn't even decided yet if it supports the man who currently claims to be the president of the ...|
|World's highest battlefield - what next?|
|Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs is reported in the media as having averred that the presence of Indian forces on the Siachen glacier "is a serious threat to the environment of Pakistan". He went on to ask for the "withdrawal" of the Indian forces. Even though it has come rather late in the day, this 'realisation' should be welcomed. It would be of some interest to see what the government intends to do as a follow-up.
What had lent a sense of urgency to the 2012 India-Pakistan negotiations on the issue was the fact that apprehensions of natural disasters waiting to happen - if military activity in the region was not stopped - as expressed by international ecologists for quite some time had, regrettably, started to come true. The loss of so many lives...|
|Geneva-3 talks an eye opener: Victory for Iran|
|The historical deal between P5+1 and Iran struck on 24th of November 2014 in the 3rd round of negotiations speaks volumes about the double standards and oppressive politics of American led Western powers and Iran's strong stance to withstand the challenges. America has been making all possible efforts to distort and destroy the edifice of the Islamic Republic of Iran since its establishment. But Iran remained steadfast in presenting a true and real version of democracy and such a rule which is strictly based on the Quranic principles. The recently held negotiations in Geneva are an example.
The Islamic Republic of Iran didn't present a novel paradigm rather it framed and shaped its policy in accordance with the lines drawn by Mohammad o Aale Mohammad (A.S) and their Sahaba's which guar...|
|Article 370: Misperceptions and vague debate|
|The presence of Article 370 in the Indian constitution obviously complicates the centralised federal structure of India which unlike other states places Jammu and Kashmir at special position in the Indian Union. By the worth of it, J&K enjoys some sort of autonomy, though much theoretical and less practical. J&K is the only state within Indian union having unique features of its own constitution, separate flag, state-subject restrictions and so on. Though much of the other special provisions had already been scrapped, still this special status is a headache for many Indians and not merely Narendra Modi.
Majority Indians have an internal desire to repeal this article to bring J&K at par with other states. One can experience such blood pressure from class rooms to conference halls, from...|
|AAP halts BJP advance in Delhi|
|The (Ir)resistible rise of Arvind Kejriwal was a phenomenon thoroughly misread from the beginning to this moment, by free radicals and Left devotees of Congress-style politics. Some lessons need to be underlined, learnt from the political developments of the last three years. That post said - referring back to the days of the Anna Hazare movement (itself dubbed reactionary, casteist, even RSS-sponsored and fascist, by pundits of all hues) -
But here was the political class and the intelligentsia from Left to Right taking the protestors to task - asking them to tame their dissent and channel it through 'proper channels'. Contest elections and let us see how much support you have, they challenged. Anna Hazare stuck to his guns, refusing the bait. Kejriwal however, seems to have decided t...|
|Salaam to Mandela!|
|"He no longer belongs to us - he belongs to the ages!" said President Barrack Obama. Yes, Mandela is dead: Long live Mandela!
Militant freedom fighter, prisoner 27 years, an elder statesman, moral compass, unifying figure, the symbol of South Africa's struggle against racial oppression, the anti-apartheid icon, sharer (with former South African President F W de Klerk) of the Nobel Peace Prize 1993, Father of modern South Africa - yes that was Nelson Mandela!
A flashy smile, steely gaze, always quick to admit to his shortcomings, battling for health in recent years, last appeared in public during the 2010 World Cup hosted by South Africa, Mandela died 95. A symbol of reconciliation, not vengeance, he inspired the whole world by forgiveness for the white government that had long impr...|
|Power sans exercise of it: Omar's talk of coalition constraints|
|Omar Abdullah's answers while replying to questions at Agenda Aaj Tak 2013, a two-day conclave in Delhi provided another look into the alibis he is ever prone to project in order to put a cloak over multiple failures of the coalition he is heading. While responding to a question on AFSPA, Omar reiterated his stand that Army was not required in many districts. Politically correct answer, however relating that he runs a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir where he does not have absolute powers is an often quoted excuse meant to put the ball in Congress court. Merely stating that he tried to convince his cabinet colleagues does not carry much weight on moral scale, though his supporters might say yet again that CM is politically correct. Omar's supporters often state that CM states the...|
|VIEW FROM GALLERY|
|Can UPA meet new challenges in 2014|
|A time has come when the UPA Government should understand that 2013 is not 2008 and same will hold good in case of 2014. The problem is what did not work for BJP in 2008 is working for them in 2013 and is likely to work in 2014 also. Here I am talking about frontal attacks by BJP nominee for post of Prime Minister on Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh as well as top leaders of Congress like Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
There was lot of sympathy and anger when Mr L.K Advani called Dr Singh "Nikama" and most non-functioning Prime Minister in Indian history in 2008. People by and large did not respond well to Mr Advani charge because there was lot of support for Dr Singh who was given credit for Indian economy revival and doing well. It was also time when the Indians by and large were char...|
|The long nightmare in Afghanistan|
|They died for nothing|
|Last week a remarkable exchange about the future role of the U.S. military in Afghanistan took place on the MSNBC program Andrea Mitchell Reports. In a discussion of the U.S. government's uncertain negotiations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai over the continued presence of U.S. troops beyond 2014, NBC's chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, pointed out that, between the Karzai talks and the negotiations with Afghanistan's next-door neighbor Iran, the Obama administration has a daunting task.
Part of the administration's objective, Engel said, "is to protect the legacy of America's longest war. For a lot of the soldiers we've been speaking to, this is personal. They've come here time and time again. They've invested so much. They've put their family lives on hold. They've lost fr...|
|Atiqa's Treasure Of Everyday Kashmiri Artifacts|
|Atiqa Bano is 73 years old and her appearance is quite unassuming. The Kashmiri woman dresses up in a printed floral salwar-kameez, dons old fashioned slippers, and a black veil covers her henna tinted hair as a few tousled strands fall over her face. As she walks around the neighbourhood, people greet the elderly woman with respect and she smiles back affectionately, blessing them. Of course, for all her ordinariness, Atiqua Bano is quite an extraordinary woman -she has made a unique contribution in preserving the history of Kashmir.
Fifty-seven kilometres from Srinagar, the state capital of Jammu and Kashmir, lies the town of Sopore. It is in a three-storey building here that Atiqa has painstakingly set up a museum that showcases the everyday life of Kashmiri people back from the times...|
|Despite Climate Change, Sudha's Farm Flourishes|
|The skies are overcast; the hilly countryside is lush. A mist envelopes the tall pines and rain falls as if at will. Families living in the numerous villages that dot Almora district in Uttarakhand are preparing for winter and this is the busiest time for women as they divide time between the home and their widely spread out terrace fields. But it's been raining almost continuously for the last six months and this prolonged wet spell has thrown normal life out of gear - much of their local lentil and other crops have been destroyed while the fodder grass has not dried up enough to be stored.
It's a looming crisis, one that they are not entirely unused to now. Hardworking hill women, who are the backbone of local households and farms, have noticed the subtle changes in the seasons over th...|
|Writer in exile: Haifa Zangana dreams of a free Iraq|
|As a writer, novelist and activist, Haifa Zangana, 63, has been able to bring the continuing tragedy of Iraq to international attention after its occupation by the US and British forces in 2003. Women, despite being the worst hit by the conflict have demonstrated remarkable resilience. Living in exile now, Zangana has been able to reflect on some this in her work. Having herself spent time in prison in the Saddam Hussein era - an experience she describes in a memoir, 'Dreaming of Baghdad' - she is well placed to reflect on the realities of the "state of low-level war" that marks Iraq today. She was interviewed by WFS when she was in Delhi recently.
Q: What has been the impact on the lives of Iraqi women of the Iraqi occupation from 2003?
A: Conflict has changed the priorities of ordinar...|
|An unsentimental tale of loss|
|Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland|
|Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland begins with a description of a neighbourhood bordering a couple of acres of reclaimed swamp on the outskirts of Calcutta. The description is precise and spare, as though offering directions to a traveller. Lahiri foreshadows everything to come within the first brief paragraphs of her exacting and disturbing novel: "East of the Tolly Club, after Deshapran Sashmal Road splits in two, there is a small mosque. A turn leads to a quiet enclave. A warren of narrow lanes and modest middle-class homes. Once, within this enclave, there were two ponds, oblong, side by side. Behind them was a lowland spanning a few acres."
The Lowland is the story of two brothers, Subhash and Udayan Mitra, born just a little more than a year apart. From an early age, they look enough alik...|
|Assembly Polls, Congress and Modi|
|I found power lying on the streets of St Petersburg, said Lenin, all I did was pick it up. This is true modesty considering the total revolution that the Bolsheviks brought about in 1917 and how it subsequently transformed the world in the last century.
In a way, Lenin was right. Power was his to be captured. Given the corruption and decadence of the Czarist Russia and the appalling economic and political chaos it presided over, it was a matter of time before it collapsed under its own dead weight.
Narendra Modi is no Lenin and the men in khaki shorts and party that he represents are no socialist revolutionaries, fired by a compelling craving for change. For that matter, there are no parallels between the Czarist Russia and India ruled by the Congress either. What is common between ...|
|Positive Trends in economy - Are they enough to sustain growth?|
|It was a mixed week for Indian economy. The overall positive trends indicate a moderate movement towards recovery. There was a welcome dip in the current account deficit, rise in the GDP growth that progressed to 4.8 per cent in the second quarter, ending september 30 from 4.4 per cent at the end of first quarter of the current fiscal 2013-14. It was only the poor showing by the manufacturing and mining sectors that kept the GDP growth under 5 per cent for the fourth straight quarter. Manufacturing grew just 1 per cent, while mining output shrank 0.4 per cent.
The forex also showed a rising trend. The stock market continued its bullish trend. The Sensex was in the above 20,000 region and Nifty above 6000 mark. The country's foreign exchange (forex) reserves rose by $2.69 billion to $286...|
|Good Professor Rosa!|
|Bt Warm gossip is the salt and spice of cold winter. Even stammerers share. I happened to hear two old winter gossipers. Share.
Abu: Your good name sir?
Rosa: My name very good and literally meaning heavenly excellence, I am the opposite of what it conveys, so not appropriate for me; I was pet named Rosa, and Prof Rosa has now stuck.
A: Rosa in botanical nomenclature is rose. Beautiful!
R: But a rose has thorns just around!
A: Your health sir?
R: Thank God! But I have yet to see one in full health.
A: Your age?
R: 60 minus 30 minus 20 = 10 years. All figures but only approximate.
A: What mean you sir?
R: Yes, 60, by my recorded date of birth. But changed that was four times. So only approximate. 30 years were wholly or partly swallowed down by 30 winters. ...|