26 Jul 2005

dare and bare...

Al-Qaeda 'destroyed in Pakistan' - President Musharraf’s sales pitch is straightforward, obvious and as repeatedly demonstrated in the past, extremely effective. It is well planned to get even on the White House dinner rebuff ! Not to mention the F-16s and Orions in the offing and the 'biased' dirty press from the London bombings. Here’s the knight in shining armour, giving it back to the muddling mandarins in South Block, (un)fair and square !

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, i
t’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

Built to win, Lance Armstrong unraveled

Giant river catfish feeds an entire
bite !

22 Jul 2005


Ardeshir Cowasjee wrote of the primrose path to paradise (through India Uncut
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

The Chairman lives long

Maoists loom large in the districts of West Bengal bordering Jharkhand. A report from The Telegraph, Calcutta of 15 July :
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.
The Maoists have initiated their acts of threat, coercion and outright violence to precipitate anarchy. Moves designed to provoke heavy-handed responses from the powers-that-be, driving vicious cycles of chaotic violence and social upheaval. As The Time noted of Mao - His ruthless vision united a fractured people and inspired revolutions far beyond China's borders.
While the bastions of Communism have collapsed, the ideology continues to be exported and nourished through covert funding, to drive socio-economic destabilization across the world. i understand that IT organizations in Calcutta have begun receiving communications from Maoists, directing them not to visit educational institutions in the districts of Burdwan, Malda and Murshidabad for recruitment. The vicious cycle has begun…

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

Tightrope Walker

"We are acting as if we are under some kind of a contractual obligation to support jihad (holy war), no matter where in the world it is being waged" - rhetoric from the Tightrope Walker. The chameleon-act confirms that Pakistan will not abandon the Kashmiri militants until it is absolutely clear about the exact terms on which peace can be secured

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

still looking around

Swaziland continues the glorious African tradition of pillage by dictatorial rulers. This tiny country is Africa’s last absolute monarchy. Poverty is chronic and wide-spread, unemployment is the rule and about 40% of the population is believed to be HIV positive.
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, Africa is 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 London" was published on Thursday, the same day the city was bombed. Incidentally, the publication date for his novel was set up six months ago
  • Prize divides Ayodhya protectors. Blame the booty!

9 Jul 2005


Excerpts from the CNN website -
Some prominent Arab writers said the attacks were a reminder that efforts to fight terrorism were necessary.
Jihad al-Khazen, an op-ed columnist for the London-based pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper, wrote: "Such criminal terror acts prove that no measure is enough to fight terrorism.
"Actions that governments take to fight terrorism are totally justified because protecting life is a lot more important than protecting civil liberties."
He said he was saddened "that there are people in our Arab world that continue to sympathize with terrorism."
"This is our sick reality and it doesn't help anyone to pretend this mentality doesn't exist. One can't ignore the fact that Arab governments didn't act early on to crush the extreme movements growing in our midst."
He criticized the United States and Britain, saying he hoped they would change policies that fostered "hatred around the world and make it easy for groups like al Qaeda to recruit and execute terror attacks."
On the Arabic-language TV network Al Jazeera, Mohammed Amara -- identified as an Islamist thinker in Cairo -- said "those who want to perform jihad (Muslim holy war) should go and fight the occupiers in the battlefield and not kill unexpecting innocent people.
"We (Muslims) do not kill clerics, we do not kill women, we do not kill children, we do not kill trees. This is what the prophet taught us. The U.S. and Britain are committing atrocities against our people everywhere but we shouldn't respond to a crime with a crime."
TV network Al-Arabiya, on its Web site, solicited readers' responses to the attacks. Several expressed happiness, with comments such as "Allahu Akbar, thanks be to God," "More power to al Qaeda leader Osama (bin Laden)," and "What did you expect? This is only a response to the what the British government has done to the group regardless of which group it is."
In response, these notes were posted: "To the heroes of Arabism and Jihad, since you are sparing no method to attack the West and you gloat as you try to kill the largest number of civilians. How would you like it if the West relieves itself of your headache by hitting you with one of its nuclear weapons. It takes only minutes and then there will be no heroes, no men and no shish kebab."
Another wrote: "Why you are so happy about something like this?" What if one of your family members in London died? Even in a war, don't kill women, children, old people ... please Muslims think before you judge any action, and think about your actions and judge yourself before you judge people."

Also, Middle East condemns London bombings
Messages of sympathy and condolences poured in from Middle Eastern nations, some of them all too familiar with street bloodshed.
Iran and Syria joined an unbroken chorus of condemnation, as did the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Lebanon's Hizbullah.

"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
London bombings.

"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

Look who’s talking, Hamas and Hizbullah ! Not bad, huh ?!
More voices - European Muslims Slam "Heinous" London Blasts
Also, The "B" word at Sepia Mutiny
A different perspective, closer home
Currently engaged in global bliss - sitting in Pune, licking boiled sweets branded Dallas, manufactured by the Pt. Hawaii Confectionary Factory at Jakarta, Indonesia. Remembering Poppins, they tasted much better !

6 Jul 2005

Continuing the heritage of deceit

Just read “China, A Medical Students’ Nightmare“ (Page 4, Education Times, TOI, Pune, of 5th July 2005) which contains choicest reading on the shining prospects of eager hordes of Indian degree-hunters (guess, Col. Madan is doing all right !) -
Welcome to a nightmare called a Chinese MBBS. Following an amendment to the Medical Council of India Act in 2002 which recognizes qualifications set out by the government of the country where the institution is situated, enterprising agents in India and Nepal hit upon a get-rich-quick formula.
They enter into a contract with the interested universities which provide them the information about the schools. Teachers, websites and even brochures - are all managed by these agents. “There are no ads in the papers for these faculty. Most of them are people who haven’t been able to clear the MCI screening test after an MBBS from Russia”, said an educational consultant.
… In the past three years, the number of such universities has gone from 1 to 23… what these agents conveniently gloss over is that at most of these universities, traditional Chinese medicine constitutes a major chunk of the syllabus. “Traditional Chinese medicine has no application in India. After we realised this, we have just done away with that in the brochures”, said another agent.
… While agents advertise these universities as WHO recognized, the organization makes it clear that it has no authority to grant any form of such recognition and merely collates information from various governments…
And guess what ? Just below this scathing report is the good Colonel’s advertisement (complete with the pagoda roof and all !) for MBBS in China- 2005 Hubei University of TCM
A little more research in the Times Classifieds, TOI, Pune, of 6th July 2005, reveals –
MBBS in China Seminar & On Spot Admission Dr M Haseeb, Eminent Educationist and Visiting Professor in UK & Chinese Universities…
MBBS China – 2005 We represent WHO enlisted Renowned 5 Medical Universities of China, More than 400 Students already enrolled for 2005… Col. Ashok Madan… (our Good Samaritan at large ! Did he manage an honourable discharge from the Army - if he belonged to that institution in the first place ?)
STUDY IN RUSSIA, MBBS MD. MS. MDS. No Donation & Entrance Examination, Smegavision Educational Consultancy, contact : Mrs. Meghana Kulkarni (Former Reg.Manager, A J Trust)… (just in case i was ignorant of her credentials !)
and many more such…
i don’t work in the media but some of you do -
  1. 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 ?
  2. 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
  3. 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 ?!
  4. Isn’t it time for some PILs, anyone ?
  5. Or better still, a “sting” operation with massive media coverage - TV and all ?
  6. What can i do to end this deceit ?

5 Jul 2005

Bombay Break

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
Brazil - Argentina match well past the half-time, a three-hour sleep followed by a drive to Mumbai.

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.

A dig brings up some old dirt - Die, for you are uncovered