26 Jul 2005
Next steps, the crafty General will now lay bare the hidden Indian hand in the London bombings ?
Where black is white and law is a zillion dollar industry, jury selection is under way for a unique trial in the US - to decide whether a man is intelligent enough to be executed ! Oh, it’s all so easy, score zilch in the IQ test and be a life-long guest of the state. Millions of our countrymen could die (sic) for such a royal treatment, if they get to know. Firang prison cells even come with a pot built-in, no more dawn trips to the wheat fields…
23 Jul 2005
Scientists have discovered a tiny caterpillar in Hawaii that binds snails with silk webbing before devouring them
Has the advent of digital cameras made us better photographers ? An interesting reading for the photographer in us
22 Jul 2005
and Musharraf acknowledged "No matter where something happens, we end up being directly or indirectly involved", even as the moderate face of Islam spoke in even as the moderate face of Islam spoke in Britain
PM Manmohan says peace efforts are under threat
19 Jul 2005
Bandwan (Purulia), July 14 : Comrade Dhruba sat on a bunch of leaves scattered on the ground, his legs folded. “Give us five years, we will make sure you spend sleepless nights” - that was the Maoist leader’s message to the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government. A police officer and three CPM leaders were killed on Saturday night in Maoist strikes in two places, 20-22 km from here. Moustachioed, with a three-day stubble covering his face, Comrade Dhruba (not his real name) said: “Our mass base in Murshidabad, Malda, Burdwan and Nadia is ready. After five years, we will launch our strikes”. Dhruba is a member of the central committee of the CPI(Maoist).
The journey to Dhruba took four hours from Jhargram - partly by car, partly by motorbike and the rest, about one and a half hours, on foot. It started at 5.15 in the morning yesterday, first to Bandwan by a hired car, resuming in another vehicle from there. The second car left me at a deserted crossing. After about five minutes, I heard the roar of a motorcycle. A Suzuki bike braked in front of me and a dark, thin man in his late 20s, wearing off-white trousers and a blue shirt, curtly asked me in Bengali, with a heavy local accent, to ride pillion.
I tried to strike up a conversation but the man motioned to me to shut up. After about an hour and a quarter, we stopped at a spot where two youths were waiting. They waved me to follow them into the rain-soaked dense forest covered with segun, mohua and mahogany trees - a chameleon dropped on me from a branch, startling the entire group. A third youth joined us after about 15 minutes and we walked some more before coming upon Dhruba, sitting under a tree somewhere on the West Midnapore-Purulia border, a stone’s throw from Jharkhand.
I pulled out my handkerchief, spread it on the ground and sat before Dhruba, who looked to be in his late thirties. Wearing khaki trousers and shirt, he said: “In our politburo meeting last year, we decided to focus on these four districts (Murshidabad, Malda, Burdwan and Nadia)”. Dhruba, who belonged to the MCC, which merged last year with another extremist group, the People’s War, admitted that the outfit’s previous efforts to spread its influence in north Bengal and parts of the south had failed.
This was the reason why the 13-member politburo decided to concentrate on the south Bengal districts. The organisation is dominated by five Bengali leaders. “If the government wants to control us by using police or paramilitary, they are wrong. It will help us gain more support from the people. Comrades have been working hard for those who don’t know what a full meal is”. Do the Maoists have designs on Calcutta? “We do not plan violence in Calcutta because we know when we establish our base there, people will be forced to obey us,” Dhruba said.
After about 25 minutes of conversation, he suddenly clapped and two of the three youths reappeared. The journey back to Bandwan began.
Mouthing populist rhetoric, the Maoists plan to replicate in parts of West Bengal, their model of “socialism”, “parallel government” and ruthless social justice that they impose across swathes of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand. They appear poised to revive the social anarchy of the early-70s in W Bengal. The soicio-economic price for which, Bengal is paying to this day.
Bengali intellectuals have been the perennial rebels and “angry young men”, they are the vanguards of student politics even today. It is no wonder that the Maoist movement is led by Bengalis inspired by the canons of the Late Chairman Mao.
While the Maoists have made grand plans to bring chaos, what is the alternative reality they promise ? They are adept at threatening and maiming, but are they truly capable of sound governance and social justice ? Have they visited Shanghai recently ? Or, are the Bengali more Chinese than the Chinese themselves ?
16 Jul 2005
A man in the US (where else ?!) shot his postman and surrendered to the Police, so that he would be convicted for life and escape his $90,000 medical debt. Human ingenuinity always impresses
International scientists say they have sequenced the genomes of three parasites responsible for diseases, including sleeping sickness, that kill more than 150,000 people a year
Russian plans to build the world’s longest oil pipeline to supply fuel to energy-hungry China and Japan spells doom for wildlife and environment
Scientists have discovered how migrating locusts avoid the danger of flying over seas. The research could lead to novel deterrents against marauding locust swarms
13 Jul 2005
At last count, the king had 12 wives and several more fiancées. Recently the king bought a $500,000 luxury Maybach (a-la Manikchand, of Oxyrich and D-Company fame) for himself and 10 luxury BMW cars for his wives, at an additional cost of about $820,000. Long live the king !
Since childhood, whenever i have looked up in the day sky, i remember seeing scores of vultures traversing. Mere specs high in the air, gliding in slow circles, riding the daytime thermals. Eager scavengers which kept nature clean of the remains of dead animals. But vulture populations have rapidly declined in recent years. The crash has been variously attributed to poisoning from toxins in livestock carcasses to some virulent viral infection.
The population crash appears to be acute in Western India, where i moved in last year. During my weekend (and other) outings around Pune, i no longer see vultures patrolling the high skies. i have been consciously looking for them, and vultures are alarmingly absent in the day sky.
The truth hit home hard during a drive around the flooded Veer dam last weekend. i witnessed the miserable sight of a few crows trying to peck away at a bloated cattle carcass lying on the bank of the lake in broad daylight !
12 Jul 2005
- One of the world’s most impoverished countries continues to act with impunity and utter disdain of world opinion. Highlighting that good governance and better resource-management (and not writing-off debts) is the essential path of emancipation for
Africa’s miserable millions (we almost qualify !) Lest we forget, Africais extremely rich in natural resources, which is continually plundered to finance long-running civil wars and pad the personal coffers of sundry tyrants. Economics of the war industry...
- Singing dingo wins trivia award - An Australian wild dog who sings, dances and plays the piano has been voted the country's top trivia item, in a competition organized to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Trivial Pursuit board game
… Dinky had to beat serious contenders.One candidate was a man who
can stationary jump on his unicycle 232 times per minute.Another boasted an
ability to clip nine out of 10 toenail cuttings into a paper basket from more
than a metre away
- Pandit Ravi Shankar ensures show goes on
- Author Chris Cleave’s debut novel Incendiary - about a "massive terrorist attack on
" was published on Thursday, the same day the city was bombed. Incidentally, the publication date for his novel was set up six months ago London
- Prize divides Ayodhya protectors. Blame the booty!
9 Jul 2005
"The use of violence to achieve aims is condemned," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokes-man Hamid Reza Asefi said.
Syrian President Bashar Assad, in a message to Prime Minister Tony Blair, condemned "these detested acts."
Hamas said that there could be no justification for the
"Targeting civilians in their transport means and lives is denounced and rejected," Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy chief of the group's political bureau, told Reuters in
6 Jul 2005
A little more research in the Times Classifieds, TOI, Pune, of
i don’t work in the media but some of you do -
- The good Colonel Ashok Madan and his ilk continue to thrive, playing with the future of unwary millions. Can’t any of us do anything - beyond watching and lamenting ?
- “400 students already enrolled for 2005” - even if reality is only 10% of the claim, that’s 40 hapless young dreamers with their illusions ready to go under the steam-roller
- A cool 40 lakh Rupees (at the least) added to the Good Samaritan’s bank balance. Give me one good reason why i should continue to follow the virtue of hard work and little money ?!
- Isn’t it time for some PILs, anyone ?
- Or better still, a “sting” operation with massive media coverage - TV and all ?
- What can i do to end this deceit ?
5 Jul 2005
A break in updates, owing to a short trip to Mumbai, ostensibly, to attend a training program.
Managed to go through the 2-day training program all wide-awake and fairly attentive. What after watching the
The drive was of course the elixir. A visual feast of the feathery monsoon clouds hanging low - on what were brown, parched hills a few weeks ago - now cushioned by lush green vegetation from the magical touch of rain. Glistening silvery ribbons of gushing waterfalls, which appear out of nowhere during these times. Driving from a drizzle into a sudden cloudburst, the smoky-grey whiteness - almost solid, the din of a thousand water drops hammering on the roof and bonnet, the wipers working away in a frenzy, the fuzzy amber of the vehicle ahead, crawling with it’s distress-lamps flashing. The life-bestowing magic of monsoon - promises of plenty for the farmers and misery to the homeless on the streets of our ragged, rotting metros.
i no longer feel comfortable in our great metropolitan sprawls. They trigger in me a sense of decay and despair - tremendous individual and collective toil - all just to keep things from falling farther apart. In the process, the rich bloating richer and the poor, even more miserable. A few remarkable sacrificial efforts to make headlines and provide intellectual fodder, tidbits for the champagne party.
Met friends over lunch on Saturday in Bandra. A warm, sticky, drizzling Saturday afternoon, women - garishly made-up and beyond their prime - smoking “hookahs” pre-lunch, all in all, and extremely forgettable experience.
In the evening, travelled in the cool rain, through the foggy ghats to Pune. And slept for a good 11 hours.