|"Thank God for the Atom Bomb"|
|Today's Hiroshima doesn't give the TV journalists a lot to work with. It's a raucous, bustling, mid-sized Japanese city with only few reminders of its destruction by atomic bomb in 1945. There's the skeletal dome of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall (which was right under the blast), and discreet plaques on various other buildings saying that such-and-such a middle school, with 600 students, used to be on this site, and that's all.
So it's no wonder, with President Barack Obama's scheduled visit to Hiroshima this week (but no apology), that practically every journalist writing about the visit resorts to quoting from Paul Fussell's famous article in the New Republic in August, 1981: "Thank God for the Atomic Bomb".
In 1945 Fussell had been a 20-year-old infantry second ...|
|Pickles, Sugar and Pepper..!|
|Many years ago while doing my Masters in Literature, I had a professor who taught me linguistics. This good man from a Brahmin family had done his studies in England and very often told us stories of life in that country where he had gone to study. “For the first few months!” he once said, “I could not eat the English food! It was bland and tasteless, and I was a vegetarian. Then one day my mother sent me a bottle of pickle and packets of pepper. After that every meal became a delight!”
Today, as I think of my Brahmin professor and his love for pickles and pepper, a question comes to my mind, “Did my professor eat only pickles and pepper?”
No, he mixed the pickle and sprayed the pepper on the meals which were already there!
The pickle and the pepper when added to the lunch or dinner ma...|
|Nepal Turmoil, setback for Indian diplomacy|
|The Indian Government's "neighbourhood first" policy appears to have gone haywire and relations with immediate neighbours like Nepal have touched the lowest point in decades. It seems Mr. Narendra Modi revels in scoring self-goals while conducting diplomacy, as a result of which the country's clout with neighbours is fast diminishing. Relations with Pakistan remain troubling and with Sri Lanka too have not improved to the extent expected after a change of government in the island country. Though China may not be the cause of India's debacle, it has benefited immensely from it and pushed its relations with these countries to a new high, making huge financial and other commitments to cement them, and help them withstand pressures from India.
Relations with Nepal are at their worst in decad...|
|The Teakwood Box..!|
|"Dad?" asked my elder one, "what's happened to the cousin you used to be quite fond of, the one who was like a sister to you?"
"We've fallen apart!" I said gruffly.
"And you never tried to repair the relationship?" she asked.
"I did," I said, "but I don't think she was in any mood to work things out."
"And you didn't try harder?"
"No," I said a little defiantly.
"A little like our teakwood box isn't it?"
"The box?" I asked weakly.
It lay proud and beautiful in the corner of my sitting room. Its woodwork was beautiful and the brass sides and hinges shone out like gold. Visitors who came over admired its surface and spoke about its antiquity.
But it hadn't always been so.
I had inherited it as a dirty old cracked box from my dad, used I thought to hold rice or wheat in the good ol...|
|A visit to Srinagar|
|"Those who consider Kashmir as India's inalienable part and want to undo Article 370, which gives a special status to Kashmir, are betraying the Constitution on the one hand and the confidence of Kashmiris on the other. Unfortunately, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a different point of view, although Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not done anything which would whittle down Kashmir's autonomy. But the fear pervades in the Valley".
Kashmir is normal in the sense that there are no stone-throwing incidents. Militancy, too, is on its last leg. Yet, the Valley is seething with discontent. You can feel it once you land there. It is difficult to ascribe a single reason. Many factors are responsible for it. The most important one is the general feeling that India is all over, while...|
|Enjoy a long wait..!|
|Saturday was a different day for me; as I decided to take a long drive with a friend of mine to check out an old folk's home for an uncle of mine. I enjoyed the drive and the comfortable car he took me in. He wasn't driving, his driver was, and when we got stuck in a traffic jam, I saw him becoming impatient.
"Hey!" I said, "may be this jam gives us time to catch up with each other?" And suddenly we realized we had extra time which could be well used.
You've heard it said, "Hurry up and wait!" But learning to wait calmly is an important part of living. In this age of high-speed connections and instantaneous results, it helps to remember that the Mayflower made its historic voyage across the Atlantic Ocean at about two miles per hour! Have you ever wondered how those early settlers occup...|
|Towards a Democratic Union of South Asia |
|An idea whose time has come|
|One out of five persons in the world lives in South Asia. This is also a region where a very large number of farm animals live and where there is a rich diversity of other life forms and their diverse habitats. However, with very serious accentuation of the ecological crisis and science-based prediction of the likelihood of worse to come, human life as well as most other forms of life in the region face unprecedented threats due to man-made factors. While these threats are many-sided, perhaps the most catastrophic may be the enormous loss of life and the even bigger displacement caused by the rise in the sea level along the vast and densely populated coastline of the region, a very real possibility linked to climate change. This is just one of the many-sided worsening of disasters which i...|
|Handling the crab mentality..!|
|Most of you, I'm sure have heard of the famous illustration of some crabs being transported in a basket with no cover for the basket? The story goes that when the owner of the basket was asked why he did not cover the basket as the crabs could escape, he laughed and said, "Whenever a crab tries to climb out of the basket, the other crabs below pull him down again!"
As I watch the highly respected Reserve Bank governor, Raghuram Rajan, who has done more to strengthen the Indian economy than most others have ever done, being severely criticised by Dr Subramanian Swamy, I cannot help but think of the crab story: Both the Reserve Bank governor and Swamy are from Tamilnadu, both Tamilians!
A couple of years back, the Khaleej Times in Dubai, started publishing my daily column. With a name lik...|
|Two years of Modi and the nihilistic agenda|
Next week Modi government will have completed its two years in office and those two years have turned to be nothing less than a cauldron of unimaginable and hitherto unheard upheavals. The events and issues that arose in the past two years were shrouded in an unforeseen and unpredicted surrealism. Before any dissection of past two macabre years, it would be imperative to dwell on the genesis of a phenomenon that put Modi in power as a prime minister instead of being indicted for his overt and covert acts of omission and commission while he was heading the state government of Gujarat.
The irony of Gujarat due to its history of recurrent communal violence and its shift to rabidity of communalism wouldn't be lost on any student of history with an interest in the study of sectarian strife...|
|At the recently concluded fashion week in Mumbai, a pretty model walking the ramp had to quickly cover herself with her hands as her dress came loose, but using exceptional presence of mind, she brought the dress back in place without changing her expression or faltering her stride. The state government however immediately ordered a probe to find out whether lovely model had intentionally done strip tease to titillate audience.
"Mr Minister, Mr Minister nearly two thousand farmers have committed suicide in the last five or six years!"
"Find out!" screamed the minister, "whether she tugged at her halter or unloosed her belt, then arrest and assault her!"
"Mr Minister there's a drought in the state, the people want relief they just cannot wait!"
"Do you think?" asked the minister beads ...|
|Forget wars, fight together to be at peace with nature|
|By Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal|
|The alarm bells have been ringing for quite some time. Unheard! We chose not to hear them after the Muzaffarabad quake. We did not wince much after the snow tsunami. We cared even less when Bhaderwah was rocked by tremors for several months in 2012. We chose to be horrified, then grieved and mourned and finally learnt to look the other way after the 2014 floods, which may not have taken a heavy toll in terms of casualties but impacted the lives of people deeply with its massive destruction. In recent years, we are also observing the shocking impact of global warming and climate change, further deepening the crisis in Jammu and Kashmir. We have also poured over and finally forgotten reports by experts, warning of more floods and quakes in the Himalayan region including this state. We are n...|
|Chasing hard-hitting women's stories|
|Before I started working at UN Women I actually thought it would be a bit of a holiday compared to being a radio journalist. No longer would I have to run everywhere, work late nights and weekends. I imagined bureaucracy would slow me down and there would be huge budgets and lots of staff.
Well, my average day it's not quite what I expected, but rewarding in ways I never imagined. It's a scorching Monday morning. About 10 minutes after we turn off the tarmac road my colleague and driver, Andrew, asks me if we are heading in the right direction. The GPS is blank and one can barely make out the bumpy path between huge boulders in this sculptured landscape. I'm sure we'll meet someone soon - a human GPS.
A goat-keeper points us on the way, telling us to turn right at the school. Some 30 mi...|
|The empire's new clothes? |
|Conjuring growth from the TPP|
|While the main US motivation for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been to counter China's influence in the region, it has also been used to undermine the Doha 'Development' Round of trade negotiations to better advance politically influential US corporate interests. Hence, it has become all the more necessary to legitimize the TPP in terms of its ostensible benefits. Touted as a 'gold standard' 21st century trade deal, it is nonetheless necessary to ascertain what gains can really be expected and whether these exceed its costs.
Modest trade gains
The only US government study of the TPP's likely impacts found very modest growth gains from tariff reductions of only 0.1% over a decade. In fact, all studies so far project negligible direct economic growth gains from TPP trade libera...|
|When Did We Stop Reading?|
|The Western Renaissance owes a great deal to the Islamic civilization and its scientific and medical discoveries, not to mention the whole new world that opened before them in the form of ancient Greek philosophy thanks to the translations done by Muslim scholars.
Nothing beats the simple pleasure that a bunch of good books promise. A Pakistani friend, who spent some years in the Middle East before happily settling down in the great, green expanses of Canada, shares my weakness for books. We often exchange notes about our latest acquisitions and what we are currently reading. The Middle Eastern history with all its intricacies, high-stake power games and fascinating civilizational encounters remains our chief area of interest.
Having explored nearly all popular libraries in the adopte...|
|There were tears my daughter's eyes, as she led me up to the terrace. "Look what they've done dad," she wept. I stared with horror. The bird, a pigeon, hung by its neck, held by a thin string, one end attached to a tree.
"How could anyone do something so cruel?" I thundered. Looking with pity at the lifeless body. I reached out to the dead bird and found that the same string was tied all round the little mite. "They tied her up dad," cried my daughter and then hung her there to die!"
I shook my head as I looked a little closer. "No," I whispered. "Nobody hanged her, she hung herself." My daughter looked at me with wide eyes of disbelief. "Are you suggesting suicide dad?" she asked angrily. "No," I said, "suicide would be a voluntary act. This little one, flew into a lot of loose string ...|
|Rich Splurge Millions|
|Yet don't pay taxes!|
|Every nation needs to collect taxes to carry out developmental activities and provide some kind of security to the weaker section of society. Think: India's population is nearly 1.25 billion but tax payers' account for hardly 1 per cent wherein any increase in indirect taxes hurt the poor badly.
On the other hand, sale of luxurious goods is increasing. Questionably, where are the affluent tax payers?
Notably, for over a decade our leadership, including successive Prime Ministers and Finance Ministers have been claiming that the economy is progressing fast; rather it is the only economy in the world to do so. Any wonder leading companies are attracted to the big market called India.
However, surprisingly, the number of direct tax payers is very low. According to the recently released ...|
|Don't be so serious, kids..!|
|Where have all the children gone? Where's the laughter and pranks and fun and tomfoolery of yore? And since I can't evoke any response even with this loud statement, I'm going to poke fun at you youngsters till maybe you'll all react and say, "Okay Bob, we're not so dead we can't string you up!"
So here goes:
A very self-important college freshman attending a recent football game, took it upon himself to explain to a senior citizen sitting next to him why it was impossible for the older generation to understand his generation.
"You grew up in a different world, actually an almost primitive one," the student said, loud enough for many of those nearby to hear.
"The young people of today grew up with television, jet planes, space travel,man walking on the moon, our spaceships have vi...|