Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Our Rashtrapati (President) Ms. Prathibha Patil is of my mother’s age. Hence I have a special regard for her. While my mother remains the titular head of my tharavadu (ancestral home), Ms. Patil is the titular head of a more bigger tharavadu, India ie. Bharat. While my mother’s name is confined to a few areas of my native village Ms. Prathibha Patil’s name crosses boundaries and is known and respected the world over. Not much difference.

My mother is an old seventh standard who is anyhow well-versed in our mother tongue, dropped out of the school though she was studious and the beloved daughter of a primary school headmaster, as was the custom prevailing in the patriarchal system in the community setup of that period she was married off to a young man of the same community. An excellent god-fearing housewife, respectful, loyal and devoted to her husband throughout her life and now remains a loving, caring mother to her four children and grandchildren.

Ms. Patil hailing from a still undeveloped poverty-stricken district named Amaravati of Maharashtra was fortunate enough to go up the ladder through vigorous pursuit of education - she might have had the wherewithal, opportunities and luck - to grow up in a congenial atmosphere, first enrolled as a lawyer and while continuing in that profession plunged into political arena, proved her mettle there also later became the titular head of Rajasthan, one of the Northern States of India the designation being the gubernatorial post. Luck followed her throughout and like any other woman of India got married to Mr.D.S.Shekhavat, became a loving and caring mother to her children.

Luck always came to her unexpectedly like a boon from heaven as a pleasant surprise in the form of an invitation to occupy the highest post of the nation, Rashtrapati (President) of the largest democracy of the world ie. India. With all the support, blessings and prayers of a majority of Indians, on an auspicious day she got enthroned as the President of the sprawling Rashtrapati Bhavan with a number of subordinates and a wide security cover began to lead a royal life of sorts, occasionally visiting foreign nations meeting foreign dignitaries, photo-op with them, monuments and places of historical importance, signing bilateral treaties, even had the rare privilege of staying with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace, the only Indian President blessed with the rare opportunity. Moreover twice in a year, ie. Independence Day eve and Republic Day eve addressing the nation messages flash through visual and print media, almost hour long address stressing the progress achieved by the nation so far and also need for achieving more like reduction of poverty, women empowerment, tackling the menace of terrorism, the list abound and winding up the speech with Independence day wishes or Republic day wishes to the people and an inspiring Jai Hind to the top of her voice as is common to all Presidents who occupy the august office from time to time.

So far so good: Remarkable.

Our President reached our State of Kerala, a State still blessed with natural beauty, lush green landscape, splashing backwaters with tourists from abroad and other States riding houseboats, enjoying the beautiful surroundings, lines of coconut trees leaning towards the rivers and backwaters, attractive spacious and comfortable tourist resorts, verdant hills with thick greenery covering the valleys like green carpets, monuments and temples of historical importance. These are also one side of the coin.

The other side is absolutely, I say absolutely bleak with daily exposes of terrorists being nabbed the elements out to upset hitherto calm and serene ambience of a State, fake God-men and God-women out to cash in on the tender feelings of the poor and the middle-class, communalism spreading its ugly tentacles, ecological plunder with rivers gradually getting dried up at a moment nations across the Globe in the hot mad pursuit for the tackling of global warming, sky-high prices of essential commodities, black-marketeering and hoarding goons giving nightmares to the city-dwellers the rampant dowry system, and growing propensity of men both young and old towards alcohol and corruption ruling the roost.

President Pratibha Patil was visiting Kerala for the inauguration of two day long annual meeting of All India Women Lawyers Federation (AIWLF) at Le-Meridian Hotel, Cochin.

In her inaugural address she dwelt upon the 51% female population of Kerala, as also 88 percent literacy among women of the State. She was at a loss to find out even with all these plus points to our credit, why this State is tormented with the rising demands for dowry and dowry related torture and murders on that score. The rising curse of alcoholism among the youth of the State has also caught her attention and she is aghast on learning about these negative tendencies in our society. She called upon the women lawyers to get more pro-active for women empowerment and necessary legal remedies. The total overhauling of the legal system might have been in her mind and sought quick steps to provide immediate solutions confronting the women community and suggested various steps to reduce the backlog of cases pending for years in our courts forcing the litigants not to repose faith in the system which is a danger signal.

The day on-which Ms.Patil was stressing the importance of literacy and women empowerment I was aghast to go through a report from Amaravati district, her home district, by The Hindu correspondent of Mumbai Meena Menon about the rampant alcoholism, unemployment among the poor women, budding young children- male and female- who had to drop out of schools due to poverty and to go in search of menial jobs along with their mothers to earn something to satisfy their hunger. These children like any other children of our nation have colourful dreams, ambitions to go up the education ladder and secure respectful employment. Meena Menon had reported elaborately about them after interviewing them, heard their predicaments, hopelessness and helplessness. Even the photographs of these innocent distressed children speak eloquently about their pathetic situation. Leading a nomadic existence and migrating to faraway places leaving their homes, seeking jobs how is it possible for them to proceed with their studies fearing their inebriated fathers and with empty stomachs? On the other side, the industrialists with the connivance of the government are on a land-grabbing spree for building up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) thanks to the Neo-liberal economic policies claiming to be ‘irreversible’ initiated by Narasimha Rao and later his finance minister of the 1990s ManMohan Singh, who is the incumbentant Prime Minster of our nation. The cries of the poor ones do not reach the deaf ears of our ‘benevolent’ rulers.

I would like to know from Ms.Patil whether she is not aware of the goings on in her home district of Amaravati? I do not think I have taken too much freedom and as an Indian citizen I think I have the right to inquire about it. Perhaps while inaugurating the Women Lawyers Federation Meeting she might have had Amaravati also in her mind. I think so.

Incidentally, sorry if my memory is not correct the MLA of the Amaravati constituency is the son of our President and certainly he would be able to alleviate the sufferings of the downtrodden of Amaravati to the best of his ability. It is a pity that even after six decades of independence umpteen Amaravatis exist across our vast nation.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Close on the heels of Copenhagen drama - an exercise in absurdity - and a X’mas as usual albeit amidst much fanfare, festivities and hopes, now enters a new dawn of a NewYear- 2010.

Are you as a world citizen, especially as an angry young Indian citizen appalled and enraged with the way our World moves on.

A save the earth campaign reaching nowhere, are you environmentalists the world over disillusioned and disappointed or nurturing an “eternally hopeful” attitude, if so very good and all best wishes. To hope for the best is human nature and without a spark of hope mankind is doomed, thus say the divine beings and those in the corridors of power. Because we consider them great we are tempted to deposit our trust in them. No trust-deficit. As long as they are enconsced in their musical chairs in the air-conditioned cabins we can move ahead with a relaxed mood -‘blessed lot’ they are and so each of us.

Are you angry young men shivering with rage while billionaires and millionaires among them are cold-blooded criminals with umpteen cases pending in courts occupying chairs in our Parliament and State assemblies preaching the need for a welfare state and to facilitate the forming of such a welfare state they appeal to us fools to strengthen their tainted hands from public platforms flanked by black-cats with full-throated sermons and we never forget to provide them whole-hearted support in ample measure. How many of us have cared to find out the way they lead their lives in pomp and pageantry? How many of us are aware of them spending millions to turn-court journalists - most unethical of media world both print and visual to enlighten us - flattery is the apt word- pages and visuals idolizing them while their bankrupt rival candidates finding it hard to keep pace with these billionaire candidates Have you heard about a new term fondly and simultaneously with sarcasm ‘package journalism’ on the rise in India especially during the election season? This lucrative dirty business has become a blot on the face of ethical journalism in the raging competition in the media world. A nasty exercise indeed. While not claiming to be a professional journalist- praise the Lord - as one who is a Post-Graduate Diploma holder in Journalism this sort of dirty ‘politricks’ were unheard of during those times. A much acclaimed journalist of that time Arun Shourie who brought out many a ‘Skeletons in the cupboard’ of corrupt politicians through investigative journalism is unfortunately in the political arena now. However he has kept his hands clean not allowing them to be dirtied and in the media world barring numerous pestering insects bent upon destroying a good harvest, a number of dedicated journalists like P.Sainath, Kuldeep Nayar, N.Ram, Nirupama Subramaniam, Vidya Subramaniam etc much to our relief. Politics need not be counted as the last resort of a scoundrel, as Samuel Johnson defined it, If he or she stands by integrity, dedication and devotion to his or her society as a whole. But how many of those category are left in the picture must become a subject of hot debate across the world. During the Iraq war while the forces of George Bush and Tony Blair and other such imperialist countries were pounding that country without break there were umpteen allegations of international journalists who nursed a grudge against Saddam Hussein, spreading disinformation information around the world through their biased reporting which was notoriously termed “Embedded Journalism”. The true picture emerged before the world much later which was sordid and blood-chilling. Crores of innocent civilians fell to the bullets, bombs and grenades of allied forces. The much cherished and well-known Mesopotamian culture along the banks of Euphrates-Tigris rivers was literally wiped out. It is absolutely shocking that Mr.George W Bush and Mr.Tony Blair have not an iota of remorse or repentance even after it was revealed before the world that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Really deserving candidates for Nobel prize for peace at least belatedly.

While writing about “Package Journalism”, incidentally I was compelled to pen a few lines about this still prevailing “embedded journalism” by the so called unbiased correspondents of worlds’ popular international media.

In our nation India, ie. Bharat the other day results of an election in the State of Jharkhand came out. To the chagrin of all parties including Indian National Congress (our Grand Old Party) and Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) and regional entities it was a fractured verdict meaning no party can form a government of its own. Sorry, don’t term it ‘unfortunate’. Because hope has come to the rescue here also in the form horse-trading. Of course no dearth of money for this arrangement. Dearth of money becomes a nagging question tormenting our political leaders only when the demands of alleviation of poverty, malnutrition, habitats, sanitary facilities- they are innumerable- of the poor are persistent. What I am driving home is the stark truth that a government in Jharkhand is a near certainty depending upon ‘who comes first in the horse race’.

Do you feel ashamed of our politicians and bureaucrats or do you get angry when they boast about the surge in economic growth to 9% in the near future while teeming millions starve and perish under the searing Sun, unable to find a way out of this pathetic situation? While Manufacturing and Services sector register enormous growth, thus they boast at the top of their voice, they can very well reduce the volume when lamenting about only 0.09 percent growth in the agriculture sector which is the backbone of our nation. How nice. A ‘negative growth’ down 2.2% to 0.09%.

But we must keep our hope, always alive and kicking. Thus we are advised by the good Samaritans.

Certainly a very, very happy and prosperous ‘NewYear’ ahead as usual.

While Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are shivering with cold outside the thick blanket of establishment only the thoughts of millions of suppressed lot are some sort of relief to them.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


“Who, among those of you who claim that scientists are liars and environmentalists are stooges, has thought it through for yourself ”?- George Monibot to Global warming skeptics.
UN Climate Summit commenced on Dec 7, 2009 attended by 192 nations across the world at Danish capital Copenhagen has drawn to a close today, the 19th December 2009. Months before the Summit was about to begin at Copenhagen, World leaders, environmental activists, scientists, media world, the common man all had started engaging in serious discussions- all expect a minority, I mean climate change skeptics - were awaiting with enthusiasm, optimism, hopes and expectations. Serious concerns were also lurking in their minds about a positive result no point in sweeping those concerns under the carpet on account of the overbearing demanding developed nations who should have shared the blame for a major portion of carbon emissions. More than thirty percent of green house emissions is by the so-called Super Power, ie. USA alone- demanding the reduction of greenhouse emissions by the developing nations like China, India and African nations which are far behind the developed nations in the matter of global warming.

Those who will have the last laugh are the climate change skeptics who always argued and fought for the vested interests of oil companies like Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP and fossil fuel companies who don’t have any concerns for the generation-next, who will be the worst sufferers in the event of rising global warming. As noted journalist George Monibot thundered against these skeptics- ‘You unwitting recruit of hugely powerful oil lobby’.

These skeptics among them are geologists, who in order to drive their points home put forth certain absurd arguments, that global warming was already there and man’s contributions are not much of any significances. (refer “The climate denial industry seeks to dupe the public. It’s working”- Guardian Newspapers, 2009) Genuine scientists and environmental activists have proved beyond any doubt the culpability of man in contributing to the aggravation of carbon emissions as days pass by.

Unexpected floods, drought, unpredictable climate, receding glaciers, rising sea-levels threatening some countries like Maldives with a near imminent submergence in the near future itself. The recent cabinet meeting held under the sea, under the leadership of its youthful President Muhammed Nasheed to highlight the concerns before the world community was watched by citizens the world over. Another country, Nepal also held a cabinet meeting at an altitude of 17200 feet, in the vicinity of Mt.Everest under Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal braving freezing cold under suffocating conditions to draw the attention of all nations preparing to assemble at Copenhagen meant to highlight the disastrous consequences due to the rapidly receding glaciers of world’s largest mountain, The Mt.Everest- all due to one reason- Global Warming.

At times flooding rivers crossing the danger marks due to unpredictable weather causing widespread damages to life, crops and property and at other times that also unexpected droughts with rivers getting dried up, thus destroying the harvests, cyclones, tsunamis, raging fires, pollution harming the rich bio-diversity- flora and fauna, poverty, starvation, unemployment, deforestation by unscrupulous elements, extinct species due to their inability to cope up with the upset climate cycle- all staring in our faces with beastly eyes frightening us but nowhere to hide or take refuge.

Well-known journalist Jonathan Freedland wrote the other day about the dilemmas Barack Obama faces on the matter of doing something positive to save the Climate Summit at Copenhagen from facing a total collapse. Though said to be the most powerful President of a most developed nation he has to face adversities from the Republicans in the Senate and a few fence-sitting unreliable Democrats who are climate change skeptics. Hence a total commitment from him need not be expected. Neither China nor India, but the real obstacle is Capitol Hill according to Jonathan Freedland. Freedland reminds us Barack Obama is not a saviour of the world, he is only the President.

However to save the face, some sweet talks, sermons, promise for an anxious wait for a sixth round of negotiations in 2010 and last but not the least a political agreement to extend technological as well as financial assistance to developing countries might be expected.

Unlike our Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, we the common men are not that eternally hopeful. Experiences are our best teachers, Ms.Nirupama Rao.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Aditya Sinha, Editor-in-Chief of The New Indian Express (NIE) is well-known for his sense of humour. He has proved it beyond doubt through his column ‘Reductio De Absurdum’ in NIE. Quite heartening in the sense that nowadays our citizens, sorry, citizens the world over are gradually getting tired of bursting out laughing on hearing the standard wits of recent times. Pathetic indeed.

Unfortunately they cannot be blamed for this lack of ability to laugh during these turbulent times. That must be the reason for even Aditya Sinha turn to serious writing occasionally. This is true of every human being in day to day life. A comedian in a film or drama or a clown in a circus all carry with them a bundle of woes over their shoulders even while evoking others, I mean the spectators, to laugh and enjoy to their hearts’ content through their actions, costumes, mannerisms, appearances and comments.

While writing about the simmering Afghanistan, USA’s role there, the Taliban-Al-Quaida nexus and Pakistan’s duplicity in its approach to USA, Afghanistan and India, it was no wonder Mr. Sinha sounded very serious without a trace of humour. The Afghan imbroglio has turned out to be a hot topic of discussion across the globe as it involves three important nations, all of them except Afghanistan, nuclear powers. As Chinmay R Garekhan pointed out, the issue of Afghnistan has even forced others at least for the time being ignore the more than six decades old Palestine-Israel dispute.

Barack Obama’s announcement before the world to make an exit from Afghanistan in 19 months’ time was heartily applauded by Pakistan, particularly ISI, Pakistan’s Iner Services Intelligence agency. Pakistan always hopes for the early exit of US and allied troops to achieve their ulterior motives about which all of us know.

On flipping through the pages of Afghan history we can very well find out that Afghanis never tolerated another country’s domination of them and they went to any great lengths to fight for the freedom of their country and fought till they achieved their goal.

Mr.Sinha rightly points out in his column the freedom loving nature of an average Afghan by mentioning the exit of Britain thrice, even the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1989 and now US and allied troops facing the heat. Other nations like Britain and Germany had already got tired of fighting the Taliban-Al-Quaida there on finding no positive results. Gordon Brown, British PM whose popularity rating is at its lowest ebb and his New Labour Party’s exit from power is a conclusion foretold in the fast approaching elections will be ready to save his position and his party by withdrawing troops at the earliest. Germany’s Angela Merkel during the eve of the previous election had already done it and managed to save her place the second time. And now Obama has also got tired.

But to save face- remember his and his predecessors vow to nab the Al-Quaida leader Osama Bin Laden dead or alive- for a last push 30000 more troops are to be flown to Afghanistan in order to wreack as much destruction as possible at the North West Frontier of Pakistan where the hard-core terrorists are embedded in their safe havens and then beat a retreat in 2011.

Mr.Sinha nurses no doubt, the US retreat will make Islamabad quite happy and Kabul will soon come under the rule of Pakistan. Their intention will be according to Mr.Sinha, installation of Mulla Omar at the helm, who is known for his Pro-Pakistani approach. Mr.Sinha is of the view that for the sake of Mulla Omar, ISI may even go to the extent of fishing out Osama Bin Laden and may hand over him to US.

If such things are to happen as predicted by Mr.Sinha, the worst sufferers will be approximately 3000 Indians who are involved in various developmental works in Afghanistan like building roads, schools, electric facilities and hospitals.

Mr.Sinha points out to pre-empt such an eventuality, ie. To keep Pakistan away from Kabul soon after the retreat of US troops India must take control of Kabul.

India is already bogged down with myriad problems internally as well as externally from terrorist hydrae to Maoist menace, communal venom and sons of the soil policy. A lot more. At a time like that, as an observer I do not think it feasible to intervene in the affairs of a neighbouring country, which is the virtual negation of our established foreign policy.

More over our jawans already burdened with saving our country from the traditional enemies, who brave inclement weather in the dangerous terrains 24X7 if deployed in a terrorist infested country where even the super power finds it difficult to contain these elements and seriously pondering over an exit route, it is really unimaginable the disastrous consequences our nation will have to pay for it. Our brave jawans are our invaluable treasure.