|SIGNS OF THE TIMES|
|A fixed battle against Modi|
|Halt Modi and his moves! Save this country from destruction, from a complete breakdown! Well, the sane of this country are openly uttering these two- liners. In fact, last evening the Varanasi based historian, Dr Mohammad Arif - he was teaching at the Benaras Hindu University and is now heading the All India Secular Forum - told me that the very basic aim of Varanasi based activists and academics is to halt Modi. 'A person like Narendra Modi, who is a permanent source of anxiety and insecurity for very large sections of our society, cannot and should not be allowed to lead India … Modi's infamous role in the massacre of over 3000 Muslims in his state in 2002 is being brushed aside and he is promoted as morally 'fit enough' to lead the nation. False statistical claims, full of half-truths,...|
|Voting for the right option|
|If you are making a conscious decision to read this, being judgmental won't serve the purpose to be true! Everybody is debating about elections and seem quite pleased with the increase in polling percentage. Isn't it? For that matter, I do not hesitate in taking away the pleasure by saying that the high voter turnout is not really a representation of healthy politics or forthcoming progressive 'change'. The arithmetic of the turnout cannot be related to a fair understanding of the political issues by the voters. People have ideally decided to vote this year specifically the younger section of the society that lately acquired their right to participate in the electoral process with a new born yet firm belief to see the much awaited change.
There is no wrong in hoping against hope for a po...|
|The 'Stable' West Bank Dilemma|
|Why Israeli officials are chuckling|
|Israel's deputy foreign minister, Ze'ev Elkin, is a member of Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party and his predominantly rightwing cabinet. In a recent interview with The Economist, Elkin used the familiar tone of being conceited and oblivious to such notions as international or human rights, and reaffirmed his rejection of a Palestinian state.
Instead, Elkin wants Israel to annex a chunk of the West Bank. There is nothing new here, as such language is now official Israeli discourse. But one statement stood out, one that many Palestinians would find bewildering and exasperating.
These days, said Elkin with a chuckle, the West Bank is "the most stable part of the Middle East".
The bewilderment would stem from the fact that the West Bank is an occupied Palestinian territory. Its population i...|
|The Ladakh 'misadventure'|
|The unique identity of Ladakh is important to understand the political culture of and regarding Ladakh. My prime centre of reference is the manifesto of a political national party, which recently came up with the idea of 'autonomous Ladakh' idea. It is surprising that a prime political party, which for all reasons yet to be deciphered and known for its secular mind, is creating fuss for mere petty political gains. Perhaps they have not paid heed to the situation in Andhra Pradesh where, by acting haphazardly, they resorted to the much resented division of a state. However, early political opinion polls show that the national party that carved out two states out of one state is losing to local parties'. This misadventure at the time when elections are nearby show the political bankrupt...|
|Girls request for Higher Secondary School in Banloi|
|Malala Yousufzai, the child advocate from across the border who gained respect worldwide for her activism in the field of girls' education, was recently conferred with Pakistan's Civil Awards. This sixteen-year old human rights crusader, who now lives in Britain, was shot by a Taliban gunman in 2012 for her outspoken views on children's education in her home region in northwest Pakistan. Yet this near-fatal attack did not deter her from speaking about the importance of education especially for girls - she is a firm believer that it takes merely one child, one teacher, one book and one pen to change the world.
Malala's belief is shared by her peer, Shazia Kouser, a resident of this side of the Indian border. Hailing from the border village Banloi, fifteen kilometres from Mendhar Tehsil o...|
|Alien import comes home to roost|
|Despite India's pride in the world's first democratic republic in Vaishali, the parliamentary system - the stage is set for the world's largest electoral extravaganza - is an alien import. I have a childhood memory of one of our servants asking as Independence approached, whether Nehru or Gandhi would replace George-VI as the new king. Voters have become sophisticated since then, but as Bal Thackeray put it, "In India, people don't cast their vote, they vote their caste." Had it not been so, the BJP would not have denied Barmer to Jaswant Singh and given it to a turncoat Congressman, Sona Ram Chaudhary, whose Jat community dominates the constituency.
Jaswant Singh says Barmer is in the desert where everyone is equally affected if there is a famine and no one thinks of sectarian divides. ...|
|Seymour hersh strikes again|
|Why would anyone believe Seymour Hersh? True, he's the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who broke the story of the massacre committed by US Army troops at My Lai in 1968 during the Vietnam War, and revealed the torture and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners by US military police at Abu Ghraib prison in 2004. But he's getting old (77), and he's a freelancer, and he won't even disclose the name of his key informant.
Whereas the US government has hundreds of thousands of people working for it just gathering and analysing intelligence, and the American media are famed worldwide for their brave defence of the truth no matter what the cost. Besides, has the US government ever lied to you in the past?
So we obviously should not give much credence t...|
|Modi's true colours: An agenda not so hidden|
|The implications of a Modi victory will be far reaching and irreversible for India than many seem to realise|
|A very nihilistic and self-destructive thinking appears to be taking over some Muslims. "So what if Modi comes to power? What is it that secular parties have not done to us?" They ask.
This logic and unthoughtful equation of BJP with other political parties would have made some sense if the issue was merely about anti-Muslim riots. But the problem is far more serious. As far as anti-Muslim riots are concerned, perhaps, as the experience shows, under Modi there will be complete peace and calm but this will be the tranquility of a graveyard.
Although the Sanghis are masters of lies and deceptions, the "Gujarat Experiment" has sharpened these skills even more. They use sectarian violence as a means to polarise the atmosphere, misguide innocent voters and grab power. Once in power anti-M...|
|Remembering Prof Mohd.Ishaq Khan on his 1st death anniversary|
|The sudden demise of Professor Dr. Mohammad Ishaq Khan on 5th April 2013, gave shocked not only to his family but also the scholars and students of academic world. His departure to the heavenly abode, left a great vacuum and caused an irreparable loss to his near and dear.
Prof. Dr. Mohammad Ishaq Khan was a scholar of history and Sufism par excellence. I had the privilege to be his close associate right from his early childhood. We both learned holy Qur'an under the guidance of moulvi Mama saheb of Saraibala a saintly and noble soul of the area. Right from his teenagehood days, Professor Mohammad Ishaq Khan Sahib would strictly follow the observance of daily five times prayer (Salat) and fasting (Saum) during Ramazan till his last days of his life. He was an upright man who would...|
|In One Word: Poof!|
|Peace Talks in the Land of Make-Believe|
|Poor John Kerry. This week he emitted a sound that was more expressive than pages of diplomatic babble.
In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations committee he explained how the actions of the Israeli government had torpedoed the "peace process". They broke their obligation to release Palestinian prisoners, and at the same time announced the enlargement of more settlements in East Jerusalem. The peace efforts went "poof".
"Poof" is the sound of air escaping a balloon. It is a good expression, because the "peace process" was from the very beginning nothing more than a balloon full of hot air. An exercise in make-believe.
John Kerry cannot be blamed. He took the whole thing seriously. He is an earnest politician, who tried very very hard to make peace between Israel and Palesti...|
|Defence suffers from decision paralysis|
|An alarming increase in accidents, involving mainly the Air Force and Navy, in recent months has highlighted the poor state of maintenance, delays in acquisition shortage of personnel and deficiency of leadership which are gradually eroding the preparedness of the our armed forces. The destruction of submarine Sindhurakshak and C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and other incidents involving another submarine and frigates pose a huge leadership challenge to the personnel to ensure that the equipment is reliable to fight with the pressing need of spares and ammunition is fully and quickly met. The services must not be forced to make do with equipment which has outlived its useful life and dead horses not flogged merely for self-satisfaction.
Defence Minister A.K.Antony now seems acing in pani...|
|Vying for power |
|People from far off towns are making some money and a free ride for parleys in Kashmir and echo slogans as dictates given by organisers. They also get a meal I understand. They become organised groups, fluttering flags and seen as devout trailblazers.
These parleys dominate everyday life making promises to people and pulling the opponents down on any past or present blunders committed by them. I believe these carnival parties are not aimed at educating public on good governance they can offer but an ostentatious display to lure the media and the big brothers watching their credibility and performance.
They also use the funds provided for electioneering allocated for the purpose. As the time gets near every incentive including, money, share in power and even threat of forc...|
|Voters polarised on religious lines lead to record turnout |
|Polling in 2014 will be unique and trend setter in many ways. Trends indicate that it will be a record as far as percentrage of voters who are exercising their right is concerned. It will also be the most expensive campaign in history of India with national parties spending huge amounts with BJP alone spending nearly ten thousand crores on publicity. No other party will be able to match them as they have set new standards in terms of publicity with big splash on front pages of all newspapers, spots on T.V and Radio.
The huge screens on venue of rallies, big backdrops on stage and professionalism shown in organising public rallies has never been seen before. The use of planes and helicopters to transport top leaders has made big fortunes for charter companies in India. Such large scale us...|
|When the truth sets you free |
|Many would disagree, but so what? The job of an opinion writer is to express his or her opinion, the way it is and as it is. Perhaps it has something to do with maturity. I know I was young and naïve at one time and I used to spend hours and hours arguing with our neighbours about the birth and reasoning behind the independence of our country. My passion ran deep into the conditioning that we all go through as Pakistanis, from our childhood.
I remember having a collection of Nasim Hijazi novels when I was a budding teenager, back home. My favorite was Khak aur Khoon (Dust and Blood), set against the backdrop of the bloody partition. I remember back in the mid-1970s, the National Film Development Corporation (NAFDEC) transformed it onto the big screen, keeping the same title. To my sheer...|
|The game of elections in Kashmir: When BJP almost won in 1996|
|During the peak of militancy almost all pro Delhi politicians had fled from the valley, escaping to warmer plains, having given up on their political future in Kashmir. Most of them were seen whiling away lazily in government provided accommodations outside the valley, descript and sans authority. Such was the contrast of fortunes that a 'in power politicians son' who is nowadays known to change his SUV's every six months (from his known 'unknown' sources of money), used public transport to commute like commoners in those powerless reclusive days in Jammu.
Even while Kashmir was burning, during mid 1995 the Indian government wanted early elections in Jammu and Kashmir, a recommendation that was rejected by a three member Election Commission in November 1995, realizing that the conditio...|
|The one-man army's forward march|
|'Abki baar, Modi Sarkar' is the marketing of product Narendra Modi, not brand BJP|
|Abki bari, Atal Bihari (This time, Atal Bihari) was not a campaign pitch, but a rallying cry. It was part of a ditty which laughed at the arbitrary way in which prime ministers were chosen in the mid-1990s. It went:
Bari bari sabki bari, abki bari Atal Bihari. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) posters from the mid-1990s featured both Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani.
In this election, Abki baar, Modi Sarkar (This time, a Modi government) is on banners everywhere. It glorifies one man. There is reference to no other leader and barely any mention at all even of the party.
In advertising terms, this is the marketing of product (Narendra Modi), not brand (BJP). The party will pay for it, as it will in Gujarat after the tyrant finally exits.
When Rajnath Singh tweeted Abki baar, Bhajapa Sa...|
|If Modi wins, the country will have crossed a moral Rubicon|
|The world's media regard it as a postcolonial success story - a functioning democracy that has managed to remain formally pluralist and inclusive - and describe the spectacle of India's vast electorate going to the polls as "historic".
Sadly, it may be historic for reasons altogether less inspiring. If, as expected, the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins the largest number of seats and installs its candidate, Narendra Modi, as prime minister, India will cross a blood-soaked moral Rubicon.
It is a line that many rightly fear represents a point of no return in the relationship between India's Hindu majority and diverse minority communities, especially Muslims, India's "major minority". The line is that between flawed democracy and a steady procession of templ...|
|Second guessing Modi's Kashmir policy|
|Modi made two trips to J&K as part of his electioneering. Since J&K will at best yield up one seat for his party, this is unlikely to have propelled him to J&K twice over. J&K is useful for him to get votes elsewhere in India. In his speeches he mentioned two aspects that caught the headlines: one that he would continue Vajpayee's policy of humaneness; and second that he welcomed a debate on Article 370. This has largely attracted positive commentary. This article suggests that this is to be gullible.
It is true that Modi has not played to the nationalist gallery. But that is of a piece with his campaign strategy: keep his agenda under wraps in order not to have a front build up against him. This he has managed to do and the pundits have it that Delhi is his to take. It is clear that hi...|
|Promise of ST Status to Paharis : Will this be Omar's litmus test?|
|There has been mixed reaction to chief minister, Omar Abdullah's announcement on April 3, at a public rally in Rajouri to grant special status to the Pahari speaking people. Although J&K Pahari Cultural and Welfare Forum has welcomed the announcement, the community is not too optimistic about the end result given the past history. In midst of the hope and skepticism, the National Panthers Party's decision to lodge a formal complaint against Omar Abdullah with the Election Commission for violating the Model Code of Conduct has clouded the entire issue.
The statement of Omar Abdullah, nevertheless assumes significance in view of the fact that this is a pronounced acknowledgement of the genuineness of the demand of Paharis, albeit for purely political reasons. The development is also descr...|
|What if Modi is a loser?|
|Mad Hatter: "Why is a raven like a writing-desk?"
"Have you guessed the riddle yet?" the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
"No, I give it up," Alice replied: "What's the answer?"
"I haven't the slightest idea," said the Hatter.
(From 'Alice in Wonderland')
Think about Narendra Modi as loser. Almost everybody, including his detractors, has been talking about the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate in terms of victory. The reason is the so-called 'wave', which ought to be a cue for the ebb. Why, then, are the experts not conceding even the possibility of such a scenario?
Poll watchers in India are clutching at straws. It might seem like a spontaneous, even kneejerk, response to the countdown to the general elections that begin on April 7 and conclude on May 12 w...|
|A matter of life and death|
|If you or some family members or friends suffer from cancer, hepatitis, AIDs, asthma or other serious ailments, it's worth your while to follow the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations.
It's really a matter of life and death. For the TPPA can cut off the potential supply of cheaper generic life-saving medicines, especially when the branded products are priced so sky-high that very few can afford them.
The fight for cheaper medicines has moved to cancer and other deadly diseases, when once the controversy was over AIDS medicines.
Recently, a cancer specialist in New Zealand (one of the TPPA counties) warned that the TPPA would prolong the high cost of treating breast cancer because of new rules to protect biotechnology-based cancer drugs from competition from generics...|