|NUCLEAR weapons raise many questions and provide few answers. Can Pakistan become a normal state possessing nuclear weapons? How can this aspirational goal be translated into reality? And what is the best way to codify 'nuclear normal'?
The George W. Bush administration ran interference for India to join the nuclear club by promoting a civil-nuclear agreement which the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) approved. Is this route available to Pakistan, as well?
An important new book by Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London proposes a path to nuclear normalcy for Pakistan. The author is a careful, respected chronicler of proliferation, so his recommendations carry weight. He reasons that Pakistan's gravest nuclear challenge is its competition with India,...|
|Six missed balls..!|
|It was the funniest scene in cricket I'd seen in a long time: A batsman swinging his bat and missing all six balls bowled to him! No it was not the IPL, nor a Ranji Trophy match, but a tournament in a housing colony where cricket had become the bonding fevicol of the people, bringing father and mother, son and daughter onto the filed and into the game: But I chuckled as I saw the six missed balls.
The batsman at the crease; the one who'd missed all six balls didn't!
He went home an angry man.
"I will start my own tournament!" he told his friends who had also not done too well on the field, "And we will get a chance to bat and bowl!"
His three cronies looked at each other and were pleased, "Can we become captains in the new tournament?" they asked the 'six missed balls' leader.
|Spain: A handsome apology|
|The Spanish parliament still has to pass the new citizenship law, but the cabinet has already approved it and Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón is sure there won't be a problem. "In Spain, a clear majority realize we have committed a historical error and have an opportunity to repair it, so I am sure that law will pass with an immense majority in parliament," he said.
Historical apologies are in fashion - ex-South African president F.W. De Klerk apologised for apartheid, ex-British prime minister Tony Blair apologised for the slave trade and the Irish potato famine, and Pope John Paul II apologised for the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Church's historical oppression of women - but Spain isn't just saying sorry for expelling its Jews 522 years ago. It's offering to give their de...|
|Stakes for Elections 2014: Secularism or democracy |
|Finally we seem to have succeeded in dividing India, a country of a billion plus, into just two groups. Both groups claim to be secular. The only difference is that while one group accuses the other of being communal, the other brands the first group of being pseudo secular.
Secularism and pseudo secularism have become major planks in India for acquiring political power. Congress, left and other "secular" parties and liberal social formations are trying to stop what appears to be a relentless Delhi March of the BJP led by Narendra Modi by proclaiming that secularism is in danger. Many respected Indian intellectuals from across the world and celebrities from Bollywood have also made appeals not to vote for communal parties (meaning BJP) and save secularism. On the other hand, BJP and its...|
|The right wolf..!|
|"..Dogs bark at everyone they do not know.."
And now that Modi is sniffing distance from victory, his old friends have already started showing their fangs; threatening the minority community and revealing the deep hate that motivates Modi and his party. All this is because of seeds of anger, hate and distrust that have over the years been sowed into their minds.
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said: 'My son, the battle is between 'two wolves' inside us all.
'One is Evil. It is anger, envy, intolerance, jealousy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.'
'The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, ...|
|Cat out of the bag|
|Finally, the cat is out of the bag. That has been now said in so many words which the weltanshauung of the rightwing Hindutva election campaign has been remorselessly leading upto, namely that those who are inimical to a likely Narendra Modi-led government are anti-national, and "have no place in India and should go to Pakistan." Thus, what has been a consistently insinuated sub-text of the Modi campaign has found articulation as actually the main plank of the RSS-mentored push for state power.
This ominous, but entirely anticipated, pronouncement has been made ringingly by Giriraj Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in an election rally speech at Deogarh in Jharkhand state. The Congress Party has taken the matter to the Election Commission, but as in all other cases of tran...|
|India has come to a standstill: No rapes, murders, no scams or cases of corruption, no railway derailments or road accidents, just nothing at all. Nothing is happening in India anymore.
You don't believe me? Look at the newspapers.
Front the first page to the last, it's only elections. What the candidate in Madurai wore, what the candidate from Kashmir ate, what the man from Mumbai said, or the woman from some remote village in Bihar swore.
You would think the whole country is obsessed with elections, it's really not so; the journalists are.
I talked to a fellow journalist at the press club where I'd gone to quench my thirst:
"There was a terrible accident on the western express highway," I told him as he downed his second mug of what I thought was orange juice, "Three people were k...|
|Is Nawaz Sharif trying to assert civilian authority?|
|Instead of fighting terror outfits, such as, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan which, are wreaking havoc across Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made yet another attempt to negotiate with them -- much against the wishes of the Army -- in the hope of achieving a miracle. To make Pakistan a terror-free country at peace with itself is a laudable objective, provided it is not done on terms dictated by the terrorists. He is supported in his endeavour by Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan, who is running the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa government in coalition with Islamists and who has build his career on the basis of support he extends to jihadi and anti-America elements. Mr. Sharif seems to think he has better credentials for negotiating with the Taliban and other lawless elements, to whom sa...|
|It's not so bad..!|
|"Why don't you let your son be?" I asked a friend of mine who was hassling his little boy just before his exams.
"You crazy?" asked my friend.
"You're the one who's acting crazy!" I told my friend, "and the way you're going you'll eventually push the little fellow to do something crazy!"
"But I want him to top the class! My brothers children come first and so also the kids of my wife's sister and do you know what my neighbour's son got?"
"A scholarship to study in America!"
I looked at my friend awhile as he stared back at me defiantly, "Come out awhile!" I said, "you deserve a smile!"
"Not in the middle of this tension Bob!"
"Come," I said and we walked to the garden and I looked at him, "One evening recently, a mother entered her daughter's bedroom to discover it empty. As...|
|BJP's Modi Millstone, Congress' Gandhi Burden|
|Blundering on Priyanka|
|Something unusual happened to the exhausted, jaded, effete Indian National Congress the other day. After years, somebody in the party had a bright new idea-of fielding Priyanka Gandhi as its Lok Sabha candidate against Narendra Modi in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
That would have instantly changed the entire complexion of the current election, electrified not just the Poorvanchal region (Eastern UP) and adjoining parts of Bihar, but the whole nation, and qualitatively changed the character of today's political game.
Whatever reservations one may have about the unhealthy, probably crippling, effect of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty on the Congress, there can be little dispute that Ms Gandhi would have been best-placed to defeat Mr Modi, or at least give him a run for his money.
Ms Gandhi, rep...|
|Figures tell a tale|
|Anywhere one turns today, the Gujarat Growth Model is being flaunted. Be it in the print media or on television, in debates or on hoardings, the development of Gujarat is getting five gold stars. Most of the readers of this magazine, too, buy into it. So it is time to look a little beyond the hype and into the actual statistics of this model. (All the figures quoted in this piece are from government sources only, and I would be happy to cite them to anyone who wishes to check them. I desist from doing so here for lack of space.)
In the last 10 years, 60,000 small-scale industries have closed down in Gujarat. Counting on an average ten employees per industry, this comes to a staggering 6 lakh thrown out of jobs.
Gujarat ranks 5th in foreign direct investment and 8th in agricultural produ...|
|I Am the Beggar of the World |
|Landay is a Pashto word, the language spoken by the Pathans. It means a short, poisonous snake. It also means a short, lethal poem. Or a short, bawdy poem -- or saucy, rebellious, elegiac, daring, earthy-as-a-truffle poem, though short in any case. A candent poem, flashing, diminutive, and sharp: a couplet with a total of twenty-two syllables; the first line of nine, the second of thirteen. Landays are found in the borderlands spanning Afghanistan and Pakistan, created (mostly) by and for women, in a region where women are rarely behind the wheel. Traditionally, the landay is a distillation of love, grief, homeland, separation, or war, so there is poignancy. But there is laughter, too, laughter as a survival skill as important as building fire or shelter.
I Am the Beggar of the World is ...|
|End of Imagination|
|A friend was all fire and brimstone when another one quoted Kaifi Azmi to drive home his message. In his piece titled 'Indian Muslim Women: Bottom of the Bottom,' Syed Ubaidur Rahman, a Delhi-based journalist, wrote: "Across the nation women are either used as a commodity or as sex objects. Renowned Urdu poet late Kaifi Azmi rightly termed the status of women in Indian society as 'Mal bardari ka janwar ya bistar ka khilauna' (a hapless animal used for carrying goods or a sex toy)."
It's not possible to disagree with the argument that if Indian Muslims are at the bottom of the heap in many ways, their women are at the bottom of this bottom. I could understand why my friend was appalled though. The expression employed was crude even if candid.
The Progressive writers' movement, to which ...|
|Who killed Jesus?|
|In the streets of America a few decades ago, youngsters belonging to the Jewish community quite often had stones pelted at them, very often were fisted and shouted at, "Jesus killer!" was the taunt they heard many times thrown at them.
"But we didn't kill Jesus!" they wailed.
"Your ancestors did!" said the righteous Christian boys throwing one more stone at a poor Jewish boy.
No they didn't kill Jesus; then who did, more than two thousand yeas ago?
Did the Romans kill him? When Jesus was brought for trial before Pontius Pilate the Governor, he was condemned to death, when Pilate washed his hands off the case. So was it Pilate?
No Pilate the Roman governor did not kill Jesus.
Was it Judas? Judas, his own follower who betrayed Jesus by planting a kiss on his cheek; wasn't it Judas? ...|
|Ukraine: Stupidity in action|
|It's all too easy to imagine the high-level meeting in Kiev where the Ukrainian government decided on its next move. It probably sounded a bit like this: "Very well, gentlemen, we are agreed on our strategy for dealing with the Russians. First we will figure out exactly what they are trying to force us to do. And then we'll do it."
Of course, it sounds stupid when you put it like that, but this does appear to be the Ukrainian strategy in a nutshell. Or as Ukranian Security Service General Vasyl Krutov put it, "They [separatists] must be warned that if they do not lay down their arms, they will be destroyed."
As I write this, the first reports are coming in of Ukrainian troops trying to take back control of occupied government buildings in the east of the country by force. This cannot be...|
|News you won't believe..!|
|One of the tabloids some time ago had most of its first page blank; boxed in the middle in small font was the grim and distressing news that 'Today's news is being withheld as India is under attack from the Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and an elite squadron of handpicked warriors from around the world!'
Naturally I chuckled at this ingenious bit of advertising as I turned the page and found it was a promotional advertisement.
Well it almost had me believing something dreadful had happened and I remembered more than two decades ago when good ole Rusi Karanjia's 'Daily' had come out on April First with the headlines: 'South Breaks Away'. It was a superb bit of tomfoolery and had most readers actually believing that South India had broken away and formed a separate state under President Sanjiv...|