Sunday, October 25, 2009


Now it is the turn of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal. A Marxist talking the language of a bourgeois politician like P.Chidambaram, Central Home Minister and his master Dr.ManMohan Singh, our Prime Minister, is baffling to say the least.

That “We will teach the Maoists a lesson” like statements will rebound on his State with the Maoists getting more and more belligerent and destructive. Buddha, being a Marxist must be knowing it better than a capitalist politician. Maoists were once part and parcel of the Communist movement which during the period of banning in our country grew more and more aggressive causing massive destruction to life and property. The infamous ‘Renadive Thesis’ propounded by the then young Comrade B.T.Renadive with the intention of an armed revolution against the exploitation and repression let loose by the ruling bourgeoisie was the logical culmination of oppression. ‘Spring Thunder’ followed by a dream of a Socialist State for the welfare of the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ alike, ie. Equitable distribution of wealth and opportunities – certainly it was a good intention. But the means adopted by the Communist Party of India – fortunately the communist movement was united then, not umpteen communist parties as is the case today proved to be counter-productive. The rest is history.

If the Communist movement stood united - however it didn’t happen - the splits caused massive erosion of its support base- in spite of these setbacks, if the so-called mainstream communist parties while keeping their ideological differences close to their chests, in the broader interests of those toiling masses at the grassroots level had co-operated with a common program in mind, the Maoist movement would not have spread to almost one-third of the country mostly tribal areas and they would not have become the biggest internal security to the country as our Prime Minister had pointed out weeks before.

Nowadays, I don’t hear anything against K.P.S Gill, who was reported to have dared to take up the challenge of containing the naxalite menace (Maoist). The Super Cop had successfully taken up the challenge to put down the Sikh rebellion for a separate State for Sikhs called Khalistan.

In the matter of containing the Maoist threat the Super Cop had discovered an agenda of pitting brothers against brothers- ‘Salwa Judum’ as it was fondly called - arming peace-loving brethren to fight against brothers-in-arms, well-entrenched in the interiors of the forest areas. Salwa Judum bit the dust within no time resulting in mayhem.

I don’t know why the Super Cop was not entrusted with handling the thorny issue.

Soon after taking over as Home Minister, P.Chidambaram was brimming with confidence in bringing back normalcy in the naxalite infested areas, Jammu&Kashmir and North-East areas. He was talking confidently and with full determination. He warned naxalites to lay down arms and surrender. Then there was no overtures like inviting them for talks across the table to bring peace to the nation. The might of weaponry and paramilitary forces weighed heavily in his mind. As is common to Maoists (their teachings have such enormous potential among the tribals) they grew more and more vindictive and went on a violent spree like blowing up of railway tracks, stations, mobile-towers, attacks on police stations, kidnapping of police-personnel and bank heists, and mind-boggling murders and wide-spread laying of mine-fields. The report of the beheading of a sub-inspector a week ago caused shudders among the citizens, reminding us of Talibanised Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the then Soviet Union.

These unending violence with a vengeance prompted Chidambaram to take an about turn and turning soft, declaring that unlike Jammu&Kashmir secessionists and North-East insurgents, Maoists are part and parcel of our nation and entreated them to enter the mainstream and sit across the table, sort out the issues in a cordial atmosphere. ManMohan Singh had already extended the olive branch to the Maoists.

Buddha must also have to adopt a soft line to his old comrades-in-arms, if he has to achieve durable peace in West Bengal.

With the passage of time with their patience running out day by day a generation of Maoists sans ideology with a looting mentality is a dangerous possibility. Hence it is high time the government took initiative in bringing the poor tribals into the national mainstream providing succour to them in the fields of food, health, education, employment, in short all the help they are in need of like any other citizen of India.

Monday, October 19, 2009


A well-known poet, an eminent environmentalist of national repute, but for her initiative in mobilizing public opinion and outcry against the proposed construction of Silent Valley Hydro-electric project, the valley would have been non-existent by now. It would have brought about ecological plunder and destruction of invaluable flora and fauna, lush greenery, the rivulets, streams and the total extinction of rare species like lion-tailed monkeys and birds only found in Silent Valley. A well-known social-activist, champion of hapless women and orphans- her tireless- efforts brought about a sort of protective covering or shelter to them ie those in the lower strata of society. Her father, a great poet and freedom fighter and her sister a great educationist. Her area of activities is confined to the State of Kerala, unlike a Medha Patker, but kept abreast of all the goings on around national level.

I am prompted to pen this piece as I happened to go through a letter appeared in a regional daily of national stature last week.

She laments: What has gone wrong with our State, Kerala? (Remember this is God’s own country).

She goes on: Everyone is sad and apprehensive. The situation is getting worser and worser day by day. Thefts, looting, robbery, attacks, murders, women trafficking, molestation and rape, the law and order machinery remaining helpless, while the anti-social elements go on the rampage, even daring to take on the law enforcers, ministers and even court orders to rein on the restive elements fall on deaf ears.

Sugatha Kumari, reminding me of a helpless and hapless mother witnessing her children going astray and fight among themselves shedding much blood continues unabated remain a mute witness with a turbulent sea in the inner recesses of her heart .

The long patient, polite queing up of the drunkards infront of government beverage shops saddens her. Almost all bar-attached five-star hotels lavishly illuminated with colourful bulbs through out the night ( at the same time the State electricity board complaining always about power shortage and frequent raising of tariffs putting much burden on the heads of average customers) and embellished with festoons and the large crowd rushing to occupy seats in the air-conditioned moonlit ambience with Pop music blaring out in the background compels the poet to reach a conclusion- Kerala has claimed the credit for the land of the greatest drunkards. Though with pangs in her heart she has already ‘crowned’ our land for winning this ‘coveted’ prize.

Her observation though with sorrow and frustration touches each and every aspect of our accursed society.

Communalism- both minority and majority- and related squabbles, clashes, attacks, blood-chilling murders, terrorism taking deep roots everywhere, even the recent incarnation of Dalit militancy and murders of innocent pedestrians by its followers have shaken the serene, peaceful foundations of our State – once acclaimed as a land peace, blessed with a natural landscape, rivers, verdant hills, lakes, streams, rivulets and near cent-percent literacy. Whether all these blessings will fade into oblivion in course of time with the greenery vanishing gradually due to ecological destruction, rivers getting polluted by effluents being pumped by chemical factories on the river-banks destroying in the process the rich diversity of fish and other habitat and the illegal sand-mining leading to rivers getting dried-up, poor infrastructure facilities like crater-filled roads, lack of drainage system, sanitation facilities, shortage of safe drinking water, poor transport facilities, sorry state of irrigation system and the toiling farmers remain a nightmare to the well-wishers across the State.

So what? Thanks to some national news channels, our state has come out on top on several positive factors in flying colours according to a survey conducted by them.

Now we can very well imagine the plight of other States of our “blessed nation” ie. India.

Cheer up our great poet.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Three nations. Neighbours. Three turbulent seas with waves lashing against the shores incessantly. Call it terrorist tsunami or by any other name you deem fit. No end in sight. No expectation or hope of tranquility or serenity in the immediate or distant future.

Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Reeling under relentless terrorist attacks, racist violence and in India, the Naxalite menace. I won’t bracket the Naxalite threat with the terrorist threats. Because it has something to do with decades of exploitation of the tribals by vested interests under the respective regimes of India from time to time. When all hopes of a bright future are lost, when even the bottom-line of their patience ebbs away, out of sorrow, anger and frustration, the suppressed lot rise in revolt, take up arms and resort to armed rebellion. Yes, a destructive path they adopt with the indoctrination and injection of revolutionary ideas by the intelligentsia wherever possible in our country. Even our Prime Minister Dr.ManMohan Singh while terming the menace the greatest internal security the country faces at present, he is reluctant to equate the menace with terrorist hydra which has spread its tentacles across the nation. The reason behind his hesitation to equate naxalite menace with terrorist violence has its reasons. Naxalite menace is something to do with the aggravating socio-economic disparities prevailing in our country. Only when this anomaly is rectified naxalite threat is here to subside. Dr.Singh as is known to everyone is a well-known economist, hence his diagnosis of the root of the problem is acceptable to all. But before the situations evolves into such a worse path, his Government should have and could have taken various positive steps to alleviate the miseries of the starving millions, especially the tribals by corporate honchos. Paying lip-service alone won’t do. Adopting newer and ruthless methods of relentless suppression of the Maoists will certainly prove infructious. Because as they have nothing to lose, whatever they had already taken away leaving them penniless, even their dreams having shattered, pitting brother against brother (Salva-Judum) type sinister ploys will breed more violence and massacres. Positive steps in the right direction are the need of the hour, not vendetta. Otherwise more and more Kobal Ghandys and Chattradhar Mahatos will be forced to surface as their saviours.

Our close neighbouring country, Pakistan is also caught in a pathetic and piquant situation with the terrorist attacks by Tehreek-E-Taliban, a violent outfit under HakeeMullah, formerly led by another terrorist, Beitullah Mehsud, who was killed by a drone attack by the American forces at his haven at North-West frontier areas with Pakistan and the pro-Pak terrorist outfits like Lashkar-E-Taiba of the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Al Saeed, Jaish-E-Muammed of Maulana Mazood Azhar and a number of terror groups under various names disturbing the peace and harmony among Pakistanis and Indians. These terrorists are well-equipped with lethal weapons, sharp-shooters, suicide-bombers ready to finish anyone, target any place, thus capable of wreaking maximum havoc with acute precision. All these outfits created, nurtured and given maximum logistical support by their own rulers to infiltrate across the border to bring about maximum destruction in Jammu&Kashmir and across India. This confession was made by none other than, the President Asif Ali Sardari at the venue of a meeting of retired civil servants of Pakistan about a year ago. Now the prodigies have turned Frankenstein Monsters forcing the creator on the run for cover. Daily, yes daily, suicide attacks occur wherever the plotters aim at killing innocent lives and destruction of properties. These are not the stories of today or tomorrow, but date back to several years. I am reminded of a novel of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “The General In His Labyrinth”.

Though USA has sanctioned $7.5 billion ($1.5 billion a year) as non-military assistance to Pakistan, there is no guarantee that its rulers will be spending the assistance for the intended purpose if our past experiences are any indications. Its army has already rejected the assistance as it is provided with strings attached. That nation has been already branded as the “epicentre of terrorism” by the international community. The fluid situation prevailing in that country more than ever before, is being watched by the world community with deep sorrow and worry as it is a dangerous nuclear weapon State.

The 9/11 attack on World Trade Centre and the subsequent deaths of about three thousand lives created shock and anger in USA, the super power which was brimming with confidence of peace unlike the other countries. George W Bush the then President of USA in a fit of rage and anger vowed to wipe off the last remnants of terrorism from the face of earth by bringing all the terrorists to justice. The very thought of a terrorist strike, that also on WTC, at the heart of USA, NewYork by the Al-Quaida elements was quite unimaginable to him and his fellow citizens. But he or for that matter all of his colleagues conveniently chose to forget a simple truth – the Emperor is naked. USA was the creator of Osama-Bin-Laden, his assist Ayman-Al-Zawahiri, their followers, and by providing immense logistical and financial support to them to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan with the connivance of Taliban. Soviets, the only other super power then and USA’s rival withdrew from the arena in due course and Taliban elements took over the regime and ruthlessly ruled the country and being hard-core conservative elements enacted Shariat laws and implemented outdated and lethal punishments like beheadings, stoning to death, hanging, point-blank shootings all blood-chilling, that also in public. Centuries old statue of Bahmian Buddha, a famous land mark of Afghanistan and also the pride of our world was ruthlessly demolished, all in the name of Islam.

George Bush, true to his vow unleashed a war on terror in Afghanistan and bombarded the safe-havens of Al-Quaida elements believed to have been hiding there- but –Bush is not in power now, after eight years of rule bowed out, but Bin-Laden, Ayman-Al-Zawahari and other Al-Quaida elements are still threatening the world with their Jihad against their enemy countries still conspiring to upset the fragile peace prevailing across the world.

Now it is the turn of Barack Obama a genuine peace-lover, but a fierce opponent of Al-Quaida elements, still continues his battle against them in Afghanistan, still on a hunt for Al-Quaida elements supposed to be embedded in their safe-havens bombarding the frontier areas with Pakistan with the help of NATO forces. In spite of all these Afghanistan is still simmering with suicide bombers on prowl. Literally a boiling cauldron. A suicide bomb attack on Indian Embassy Mission in Kabul occurred the other day, killing a few and wounding many. Obama with the might of Noble Peace crown 2009 on his head must be an embarrassed man now…

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Increasing mobility is not a new phenomenon. The process which started slowly with the developments in the fields of science and technology gradually evolved into lightning speed around the world. It had its repercussions both - good and bad. Alvin Toffler had conducted a detailed study on increasing mobility and shared the information with the readers in his widely acclaimed book “The Future Shock”.

Increasing mobility and migration are interdependent. No one is going to disagree with this truth. Immigration- its positive and negative aspects- has become a subject for study and research at the international level.

The other day there was a news item in ‘The Hindu’ by the noted journalist and correspondent Vidya Subramaniam on Human Development Reports (HDR) released simultaneously across the world by Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission: Montek Singh Ahluwalia and United Nations Co-ordinator Patrice Coeur Bizot : Overcoming Barriers: Human mobility and development and the salutary effects of migration between countries- from developing countries to developed countries, developing countries to other developing countries and migration within countries and the enormous potential, social, financial and cultural brought about by the latter. The report is based on statistics and on going through it a citizen has much to feel cheerful about it. The report also mentions about certain areas of a country which are left behind in the field of education resulting in the reluctance of the inhabitants of these areas to emigrate to other parts of the country or to other countries. A country like India, where lack of adequate education facilities even 62 years after Independence has a lot to be ashamed of.

While feeling happy and elated about the positive aspects migration brings about in the world, we feel equally sad on going through news reports emanating from different countries on a regular basis - the harassment, hardships and torture the immigrants suffer at the hands of the citizens of a particular country. The “Sons of the soil” policy and racist attacks escalate on a daily basis. Right below the news report on emigration, with a feeling of sadness I came across a news item on the racist attacks by Australians against the Indians who live and lead peaceful lives working as cabbies, bartendenders, such menial jobs and the students for the purpose of higher studies and dreaming of a bright future. These attacks on Indians even after government’s strong protests and despite Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s assurances to the Government of India on adopting a zero tolerance towards the attackers continue unabated. Recently Juliet Gillard, the Education Minister of Australia on her visit to India also gave an assurance on these lines. All in vain. Now it is learnt that the Indian immigrants having lost their patience have started to hit back in the same coin. As somebody put it, “A confident resistance will make a thug flee”.

Xenophobia has become a bane across world. More and more protectionist tendencies are the root causes. Even a few developed countries are prone to protectionist tendencies and intolerant towards the immigrants.

Nicholas Sarkozy, French President, was the Interior Minister under the regime of Jacques Chirac, before becoming President. Sarkozy was a pain in the neck of Chirac for his xenophobic policies. Jacques Chirac favoured Dominique De Villipine, the former Prime Minister according to the media reports to be his successor. Sarkozy could swing the mandate to his side, for he adopted a more protectionist policy and it had many takers then. The infamous racist attacks, the widely condemned electrocution of two African teenagers and his reported justification for the suppression of racist violence consequent upon it, his intolerance towards burqa-clad muslim women, even Sikhs sporting turbans following their religious beliefs during that period and even after that, was widely condemned. Anyhow the highest position of President later somewhat made him show more maturity and he even played the role of a master diplomat in arriving at an amicable solution to the war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia, thus averting a catastrophe which would have reached an unimaginable dimension with USA intervening under the belligerent George Bush, the then President. Xenophobia still stares in the face of immigrants though. Economic recession across the world has a damaging contribution to this nagging problem.

Xenophobia and protectionist tendencies to a large extent are prevalent in various corners of the world. Not only between countries but even in a particular country itself.

Take for example our own “Incredible Nation”. The financial capital of India, “Mumbai” (sorry, not Bombay) is a glaring example of the “Sons of the soil”. The emigrants from the States of UttarPradesh, Bihar, Orissa always live in perpetual fear of the “policy holders”, the “Marathi mannoos”. About a year ago, the North Indian inhabitants were brutally attacked, robbed of their belongings, their properties destroyed and forced them to flee to their States. Some even succumbed to injuries on being badly mauled. Poor men, women and children leaving their beloveds in their respective native States catch trains and after three or four days of ardous train journeys reach the city not for leading a pompous life but for earning something to have atleast a square meal per day. They don’t stay in flats, bungalows or five-star hotels but in slums, chawls and railway platforms. Mumbai is nobody’s monopoly. It is a part of our nation and it should remain as such.

I do not know whether the HDR (Human Development Reports) took into account while preparing it with the deserving significance. Anyhow as long as immigration remains a smooth affair and mobility undisturbed, happy days are here to stay. Otherwise get doomed.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


This is the story of three men. Studied in the same school, the same class, the same standard. But had different characteristics; for the sake of convenience let me categorize them into three groups, A, B and C.

The first one – let me name him Abhijit. Smart and handsome. Pleasant and serious. Studious and ambitious. Always pleasing but reticent. A book-worm, so beloved to the teachers and principal. Always came top in the class exams and won acclaim. Always thought about dreaming big, his imagination always took wings and soared great heights, his role-model being A.P.J.Abdul Kalam.

Such type of students always entertain thoughts about becoming civil servants, scientists, doctors, engineers, business executives or business tycoons, astronauts professors or IT professionals.

Being highly ambitious, hard-working and enterprising, always ready to struggle ahead against all odds, they reach their destination. Thus they attain a top of the world feeling and satisfaction. Being perfectionist they are always in pursuit of perfection. Always reminds me of a boy with a pleasing smile, trying to pick up volumes of hard-bound editions…a universal student.

Then comes the second man, may I name him Mathai, not that studious or hard-working, never entertaining intellectual pursuits like his classmate and unlike Abhijit, he always preferred to be an average student, not that much willing to spend long hours going through books, only dreamt about becoming a clerk, bus-conductor or driver or a mechanic like a fitter, welder, AC technician, an agriculturist or a small-scale entrepreneur and earn a modest living without disturbing anybody in the society. His great virtue being nursing no jealous or bitterness against his former classmate and not so intimate friend Abhijit. With a sense of humour sometimes I feel our society encompasses umpteen incarnations of Mathais.

In comes the third category and let me call him, Stalin, in a sense the most charismatic and aggressive, his adrenalin always keeps flowing. “Extroverts” in the psychological parlance, most of them in their school and college days always had a penchant for enacting chaotic scenes in University campuses (among them a few study well, strike well, research well and earn doctorates) and streets doing maximum damage to properties, both private and public, injuring as much pedestrians as possible, irrespective of caste, creed or religion- under the pretext of betterment of society. These dare-devils never care the security cordons, take on the policemen, face the grenades, tear-gas shells, police-batons and in extreme cases face even the bullets and derive ecstasy in becoming martyrs.

When the chips are down we the citizens witness the incredible sights of Stalin and his comrades reaching the higher echelons of power enjoy all the luxuries like security, travel across the State with heavy bandobust, inauguration of bridges, buildings and even the cultural activities accompanied by long hours of speeches.

In the meanwhile, incarnations of Abhijit with all servility work under the commands of their former classmates, the present-day rulers- and the incarnations of Mathai proceed along the dotted lines of daily-bread providers.

The Abhijits who get fed up with their life under the present rulers in the course of time either fly abroad and take up positions of excellence in the developed countries or join any multi-national firms who welcome them with attractive career prospects and comforts.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Sometimes I wish I could be there in Mumbai on certain occasions, especially auspicious ones. Pity that I couldn’t make it the moment I wanted to be there most. But other than those moments I could make my presence felt there. Travelling down memory lane, Holy – the festival of colours and the revelry related to it, Deepavali – the festival of lights when the city, even the State of Maharashtra get bathed in colourful lights, SreeKrishna Jayanthi, when even the elder people alongside the pretty young ones get attired in Krishna’s costumes, the bhakthi, proverbial mischiefs of young Krishna, Ganesh Chathurthi, the list abound. A sort of nostalgia overpowers and overwhelms on those occasions while watching the happy events sitting infront of Television sets even late into the night. Those precious days and moments, I spent in the city flash before my eyes in quick succession. My morning walks down Marine Drive, occasional visits to Gateway of India, Elephanta Caves, Malabar Hills, Chowpathi, Juhu Beach, teenagers and those past teenagers passionately involving in their romantic pursuits while darkness envelopes the city, thus we believe, and the voyeurs galore, all typical of a city life.

Those where the lighter and enjoyable moments of the city and still the enjoyable and attractive moments. Be that as it may.

But we must always have a close look at the other side of the coin. The other side never provides us joy, nothing to cheer about but always painful and gnawing even after passage of time. Vast oceans of slums, lack of proper habitat, sanitation, poor health, poverty, malnutrition, lack of education, skinny, emaciated children, men and women, beggars occupying spaces in the corners of railway platforms for the nights to pull on till early in the morning, then leaving for their daily routine of begging, scattering to the differing parts of the city- all heart-wrenching sights.

In spite of all these mind-boggling events, those were days when people lived either in their flats, chawls or slums in relative security. The industrial capital, the economic nerve-centre of India, was relatively calmful and serene, notwithstanding the underworld goons, their cold-blooded murders to settle scores at certain areas of the city, pimps canvassing customers for prostitutes, illicit distilling and occasional brawls and violence and even murders. Religious bigotry, terrorist attacks, serial bomb-blasts, ever prevalent fear- psychosis among people on the one hand, and business sharks on the other hand ruling the roost like their virtual monopolies.

Sometimes I wish, the ever vibrant journalist Behrahm Contractor, alias Busybee were alive today. The journalist known for his tongue in cheek expressions, who with his inherent sense of humour took every Mumbayite in his hand by becoming each one’s beloved through his column, “Round and About”. I first came to contact with his popular column in the late 1970’s in the “Evening News”, the evening edition of “Times of India”, he was the Bureau Chief of TOI then, and when he shifted to “Midday” and after “Midday” it was learnt he started his own “Afternoon Despatch Courier” :- “Whereever he wrote, readers also went after him”. While everyone is getting serious in this not so perfect world, a journalist with a sense of humour might be of great relief, atleast for a brief span.

The picture of Mumbai and my days in the city came to my mind the other day when I came to think about the approaching polls in Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh. Though these three States are integral parts of India, to be honest and frank, Maharashtra gains upperhand in minds as it was part of my life for a few years. My close friends, male and female, relatives are scattered across Mumbai, who always beckon me with love and affection. Who is going to capture power in Maharashtra and the other two States, is a matter of great interest to me and being not an astrologer or a psephologist I always believe anything is possible in the world of politics. Money power, flowing currencies, nepotism and corruption, drought, poverty, farmers seeking solace in suicides, distress sales of cattles- notwithstanding, political commentators express deep interest in a land like India obsessed with political affairs. The man who advised the starving farmers of Maharashtra to practice “Art of Living” is being promoted as a cabinet Minister in Central government.

He had reported to have commented: “committing suicides is a penal offence. Even then our government didn’t take action against those farmers who took their lives. Had we ever reported to the media about their offences?” That’s that. Certainly a Wonder World this, after all.