Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Olympic Games? No, "Shame Games" says Bernard Levy

While the suppression of Tibetans is at its peak, and Beijing's minions churning out propaganda by the truckloads, some wise counsel comes from philosopher-author Bernard Henry Levy in The New Republic. Will Beijing's "clique" take notice?I don't think so. Will the "blood soaked stadiums" of Beijing host the "Shame Games" nonchalantly? They shouldn't--or that's what I hope.

Full article here.

And most relevant sections reproduced:

It is not too late to use the threat of boycotting the Olympics as a weapon, as a way to demand that, at the very least, they stop the killing and begin following the provisions of the Autonomous Region's constitution to the letter--especially where personal freedoms are concerned.

Beijing won't give in? Boycotts in general don't work? Well, I say to naysayers, we will never know if we don't try. We have nothing to lose if we do try--and the Chinese and Tibetan people have so much to gain!

We shouldn't be mixing sports and politics? We shouldn't deprive the world of the great celebration that is the Olympics? Fine, I say to our sporting friends. But we must not reverse our roles, either. It is the Chinese who are ruining the celebration. They are the ones flouting the Olympian principles. They are the ones who will be hoisting the Olympic flame atop Mount Everest and, along the way, climbing over the bodies of assassinated men of peace and prayer.

And finally, it is because of the butchers of Tiananmen and Tibet that next August, the athletes competing for medals--athletes who have been transfused, juiced up, transformed into near-robots--will be running, wrestling and parading in stadiums stained with blood.

There is still time to salvage it all: sports, honor and lives.

There is still time to take the same risk Barack Obama did, to remind the Chinese of the possibility--merely the possibility--of a boycott, to say at once "yes" to Olympic ideals and "no" to the Games of Shame.

The clock is ticking.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The "syncretic" kool-aid--conjuring "confluence" out of coincidence

What happens when you've a slow news day? You conjure up meaningless feel-good report about a non-event that would otherwise pass off for benign neglect.

Much has been made of the coincidence that March 21st has brought. Holi, increasingly an occasion for revelers and their bacchanalia; Good Friday, historically a day reserved for slaughtering Jews where anti-Semites reigned; and some nondescript Muslim 'festival'; they all happen to fall on the same day i.e., today.

It is a funny notion that a religion which accords piety to some arbitrary desert-compelled asceticism has 'festivals.' Maybe the deserters too need something to cheer up their otherwise dreary, melancholic lives.

Anyway, just the coincidence itself is so appealing for secularists that they're almost giddy while airbrushing it with their patent theme i.e., the same old multi-culti stuff: india together, saath-saath, sadbhavna, syncretism and such lofty, and empty, phrases.

How could secularists pass off such a godsend opportunity(forgive the pun) and not lump it with their bread-and-butter propaganda issue, one can justifiably ask. And so the report.

Apart from the cheap jibe at Modi by D Raja, leader of CPI, five-star activist Teesta couldn't resist the temptation and jumped in with her own frivolous observation:
“This can only happen in a country like India and that is why I am proud to be an Indian. What can be a better message for our fascists that no number of them can destroy our syncretic culture?”
That's a tall claim, but with jetsetting "activists" high-decibel belligerence often substitutes for reason.

I don't know what's unique about different people doing their own separate thing on any given day in any part of the world. Happens every day, in every enclave, on every continent. Okay, there's allowable hyperbole-laden cheerleading in her statement, but to say that "this can happen only in a country like India" is a bit over the top. Okay, it doesn't happen in Saudi Arabia, but still, you got rest of the world pretty much, too large sample for an exception.

Actually her claim is yet another piece buttressing the case in 'Liberal Fascism.'

Further yet, I don't know what exactly is syncretic about mutually exclusive group functions where the walled-off old city denizens don't wish to mingle with those outside. Let Holi colors fall on certain places of worship and witness the 'syncretism' explode in your face. Syncretism implies mutually participative coming together of differing beliefs. All but one of the three above cited festivities are exclusive. Holi, which isn't, is shunned by those that celebrate the exclusive ones. While it is perfectly normal for people to keep their differences, a rather simple facet of life, secularists conjure up a non-existent utopia where differences are not supposed to exist beyond a certified ambit, or else are forcibly glossed over. Dissent is proscribed and those who do so are swiftly tarred as "communal." The results are usually catastrophic as is witnessed very often.

The only fascists who should be disenchanted by such exclusivist celebrations should be 'liberal fascists' i.e., members of Teesta's tribe. Indeed, they cannot destroy such far-from-syncretic culture simply because you cannot destroy something that doesn't exist.

In all this flutter the real significance of March 21st is completely forgotten--it's the equinox stupid. :-)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Free Tibet

"Internal Matter" or Running Dogs of Chinese imperialism

The usually loquacious comrade Yechury, of CPI-M, recently weaseled out of criticizing China's terror tactics in Tibet, and its suppression of Tibetans' human rights, freedom of speech, and their freedom of expression, when asked about the protests in Lhasa.

It is completely understandable why he would do a volte-face embracing an out-of-character laconic stance, considering that he belongs to the same group that hoorayed "China's chairman, our chairman" while the "People's Liberation Army" was thrusting its bayonets inside Indian soldiers, in Oct. 1962.

But the premise he cites to justify his chicanery is questionable at best. He hides behind the tried-and-tested "internal matter" subterfuge.

Tibet belongs to Tibetans, not China, who have been illegally and forcefully occupying it since the '50s based on some dubious imperial claims. That some Han raiders conquered Tibetan territory is not ground enough for China to lay its claim on Tibet for eternity.

The behavior of communists reminds me of their own vicious diatribe at Nehru: Who's the running dog of (Chinese) imperialism now?

What happens in Tibet is the internal matter of Tibetans, not Chinese. The Tibetans want everyone to speak about their "internal matter," because the Chinese have robbed them of their home. And that's all that matters, if it has to be about permission. Indians ought to speak out in support if only for human solidarity, and against colonialism.

For an authoritarian cabal whose ideological centrepiece is that "power flows through the barrel of gun," speaking won't matter much, but then the lure of freedom is what ultimately brought down another "evil empire" in a not so distant past. The one in Beijing awaits its demise. The means it has adopted will ensure that it does.

PS- Please do read Anne Applebaum's article on, "Shaky cell-phone videos from Tibet foretell doom for the Chinese empire."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Brahma Chellaney and the stupid 'disarmament' proposal

Brahma Chellaney is that rare breed of strategic experts, one of the few world-class professionals in that area that we currently have, who embodies the bold perspicacity of Herman Kahn with Orwell's ability "to see in front of one's nose," and say as much.

There's plenty of information floating around which makes it incumbent that we've trustworthy sources disseminating the same. The quantity and time restraint can otherwise simply sweep you off your feet. For strategic affairs purposes, Brahma usually fits the bill. If you decide to trust and verify he'll most often, if not always, pass muster. (One might quip that Indian media presents neither the qualitative nor the quantitative dilemma when it comes to sifting reliable news, but that's for lighter moments e.g., when they allow Bidwai et al. to entertain us all.)

Chellaney has his own blog, and gets published very often(sometimes even in Chindu!). Witness here. With the Tibetans trying desperately to untether themselves of China's yoke, Brahma obviously has had plenty to say, and it shows up on his blog.

Anyway, his article here talks about the feckless "nuclear disarmament" issue that has recently occupied the op-ed pages of Nehruvian english papers.

Quite jocularly, Brahma even lets this little wisecrack slip through: "Pursuing nuclear disarmament is a good pastime for retired men."

The substantial argument that he makes: India’s priority today should [be] its security, given that it still does not have a minimal, let alone credible, nuclear deterrent against China, which is rapidly modernizing its arsenal.

(To toot my horn, something along those lines by myself.)

China is indeed leaping forward with its burgeoning economy and its ever expanding military might. It helps that the communist dictators who rule China with an iron fist are nationalistic, unlike the homegrown Marxist inveterate veterans, who have spent the better part of their life prostrating before this or that extraterritorial dictatorship. Recall their apoplectic sounding petulance after Pokhran tests.

The extent of Chinese preparations can be gauged from the umpteen books on Taiwan crisis which lay out in detail the possible scenarios involving weapons that China can, and will, put to use during any such military engagement. Just look for books by Michael O'Hanlon, Richard Bush, Joshua Muravchik, David Shambaugh and the likes for some shocking details.

We've to inevitably conclude that, for an economically smaller country like India, there is no alternative but to pursue the development and deployment of nuclear weapons. Since bombers are expensive and vulnerable, the delivery has to be through mobile ballistic missiles. This is deterrence to put it plainly.

Now, if we're going to rely on nuclear weapons they better be credible, and ensure a minimal retaliatory capacity, withstanding an attack if necessary. On top of that, the political authorities should be seen as possessing unflinching ability to use the weapons if and when needed, howsoever inconceivable the though. Else the deterrence is toothless. Rapid escalation can be reliable towards defending Arunachal if carried with conviction. Unfortunately, we've been so sluggish on this count that the only missiles deployed don't even reach Beijing or Shanghai--or, barely reach (the latest Agni) but from our Himalayan tops, where they're too close to Chinese monitoring posts for our own comfort. They take hours to load, have questionable accuracy and are not enough in number.

The deterrence is 'neither minimal, nor credible' as Chellaney accurately observes. The nuclear deal with US threatens our deterrence capability since it proscribes further testing. Our hydrogen bomb was a dud by most accounts. (Read Richard Rhodes's Dark Sun which discusses the working of thermonukes.)

China's advantage in traditional troops(2 million to our million), compounded with their superior infrastructure that is essential in establishing supply lines, advanced weaponry etc., make it difficult for us to rely on conventional warfare. Then there's the historical evidence as to what Europe, US and China itself did with the deceased Soviet Union--Mao wouldn't even trust the Soviets when it came to nukes. And the Chinese didn't spare their own, machine-gunning them using tanks in the infamous Tienanmen square massacre. They're maintaining restraint in Tibet, if at all, only because of olympics. If the Western countries boycott those games to protest for Tibetans' human rights, as they should, all Maoist hell will break loose.

India can ignore the threat of Communist China only at its own peril. We have the moral obligation to secure ourselves. And we've the moral obligation to ensure that most of the decent Tibetans who live within our country are able to do so, in their own land. 'Nuclear disarmament 'is the sort of delusion that will push us into another millennium of slavery. 'Disarmament' ain't gonna happen, not now, not ever.

PS- The fake secularists who cheer disarmament won't relinquish their own power for a second, still they lecture us on giving up whatever shards we have. Let not a few senile pacifists barter away our security, yet again.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

God's own Gulag

Finally, the BJP is waking up and putting its parliamentary strength to some good use, by highlighting the red terror that has engulfed Kerala over the past few decades.

God's own Gulag or Stalin's own Archipelago, as Kerala deserves to be called--pick yours--has been in the news over past couple of days for all the right reasons. Marxist thuggery has stalled Kerala, and particularly Kannur, for a while now. CPI-M monopoly has ensured that freedom of choice took a backseat in the biggest democratic playground where it matters most: free and fair elections. Hopefully, BJP will keep the facts on Kannur in public conscience long enough so as to bring meaningful democracy to this ignored section of India's hinterland.

Anyway, what struck me particularly are the determined efforts by media towards establishing a false moral equivalence while discussing Kannur violence.

Their alacrity in banishing this inconvenient topic from front-pages, and from public memory too, is astonishing. They want to move on, as fast as they can. Does it have anything to do with who the bad guys are? I think so.

Expect similar dissimulation from popular talking heads in the articles that will ensue.

Indian Express's effrontery can be gauged from this piece where it smugly pontificated:
[that] it is up to the CPM and the BJP to curb their excesses in Kannur. And this is not to assume any moral equivalence in this Delhi episode, where it is clear who the perpetrators of violence were...
It precisely does what it claims not to. It cleverly establishes moral equivalence between CPI-M's terror tactics in its citadels, and the feckless response it incurs. Is it conceivable that IE would ever posit in an equally condescending tone, had the clash involved Muslim aggressiveness, asking Muslims to curb their "excesses"? They have ample opportunity to demonstrate such evenhandedness when it comes to the so-called minorities, but I would bet my wallet on anyone citing an exception.

Elsewhere, the ruling party or majority is solely to be blamed--no shades of grey in between, no shared responsibility, well Kashmir is an exception to this rule. But then again, the uber liberals of the editorial class have always had more than a soft corner for Marxists, which shows up in their coverage and commentary of matters concerning CPI-M. Same goes for the perpetually victimized "minority."

How is it that the same voices who exhort restraint and caution after every act of terrorism in our cities turn around and are judgmental in readily declaring the identity of the "perpetrators"? Do we not have ample data on who the perpetrators of bomb blasts usually are? Yet we're supposed to wait until the investigations are over, and the law has taken its own course. But no such restraint is required of professional pontificators.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In India: Forgotten past and hypocrisy's inexorable march

There's the old dictum: History repeats itself. It therefore makes sense to revisit history, every so often, especially when you've a citizenry with short memory, and there are lessons, from history, that need to be relearned.

In March '06, Baroda city was conducting its demolition drive to reduce encroachment of public spaces. The city authorities demolished several temples, other structures, which were in violation of law, after due procedure and orders from high-court. Most of these incidences were uneventful i.e., they went ahead as they should've: peacefully. One of the illegal construction though just happened to be a mosque. And there, the local populace belonging to a certain peaceful community went on rampage in protests, attacking the demolition squad and the police. To regain control of law and order, the police had to fire upon the mob in which three rioters died.

Such is the premium on lives of members of a particular community that the central government in Delhi sprung into action upon reports received from Baroda. Leaders of the ruling secular clique issued threatening calls, suggesting dismissal of the popular state govt. of Gujarat. This, when a city authority, independent of state government, was following orders issued by the regional high-court.

Recently, in Kerala's Kannur district, communists murdered about half-dozen workers of a rival rightist group, after having initiated a "cycle of violence" that has continued over past few years. These workers, unfortunately, do not belong to any particularly peaceful community. As such, neither the central govt. nor the media mourned their death or tried to provide solace to their hapless relatives. Their tears were considered unimportant. There is no evidence that the PM lost sleep over the reign of terror unleashed on these forgotten Indians. No comment has been made on the visibly deteriorated law and order situation in a state ruled by those who're supporting his rule at center.

Rewind a little more, few years back. There was this case of Jhabua nun rape--a rape that wasn't, but still remains in media memory. Much was made out of it, including raining of charges on a rightist group. Charges which were discovered to be unfounded. Anyway, progressive MPs and MLAs of Kerala, "god's own country," mostly communist CPI-M members, a couple dozen of them altogether, decided to descend upon Madhya Pradesh, a not-so-progressive state where Jhabua is located. Their ostensible reason was an Orwellian sounding fact-finding mission. No facts were reported to be found but yet the the mission went on untrammeled. No prize for guessing why--the alleged victim belonged to another particularly loving community.

These instances are either forgotten or considered unworthy of being recalled to refresh public memory. Neither is there any fact-finding mission scheduled to visit Kannur, nor is their an almost hysteric outcry over the state's deteriorated law 'n order situation, something usually reserved for some select states. Letters from concerned citizens are missing and silent marchwallas have maintained a deafening silence.

Tolerance, freedom of speech/expression, human rights and such high-sounding phrases have been reduced to mere slogans. A cheap, synthetic outrage has become the norm, and even a way of living, for India's so-called elites.

Monday, March 10, 2008

"People's struggle" at A K Gopalan Bhavan, CPI(M) office in Delhi

Well, today's newspapers are abuzz with the clashes that took place at the CPI(M) headquarters, A K Gopalan Bhavan, where top Marxists(aren't they supposed to be equals?) were having their usual "meets." The media has called it an "attack." Not an 'alleged' attack mind well.

Circumstances, however, make it difficult to term the clashes as an "attack." One of the (very) few CPI(M) chief ministers, V S Achutanandan of Kerala, has "claimed at a press conference that the BJP’s national leadership was in full know of the “attack” that took place at the CPI(M) headquarters in New Delhi on Sunday, and said it did not bode well for democracy."

So, he is saying that he knew that they (BJP) knew about the alleged "attack." Does that not mean that he , and the CPI-M, too, knew about the attack?

And if the CPI-M knew of the attack it must have taken "peaceful" preventive measures, e.g. accumulating stones and boulders perhaps, or maybe something else, we don't know.

But then this report says that "at least 10 CPM members, 12 from the RSS and eight policemen (were) injured."

Now, if the alleged "attack"(alleged is important :-) had been initiated by BJP or Sangh workers, it would be logical to conclude that mostly CPI(M) "activists" would be injured. Curiously enough, this is not the case. Either the Marxists were 'prepared' or they were brave enough to withstand the "attack" and retaliate in turn. Even the cops need shields when faced with pelting; our Marxists needed none of that. Looking at the count, the communists seem to have honed stone pelting, for nothing else explains the numbers, surprisingly skewed in their favor, supposedly victims of ''attack."

The BJP, Sangh leaders and workers have claimed that they were leading a peaceful protest, and it was second day of protest. The media has given space to their opinion, yes, but it is mostly after they are shouted out by CPI-M accounts. Media characterization is "attack" which toes the Marxist line and puts the blame on BJP workers. It would suit the facts had the incident been termed "clashes" since both sides were involved in the violence eventually. Aside, Chindu has not even bothered to give space to the BJP's account, as expected from a party organ.

It is indeed possible that the BJP was having a peaceful protest as it claims, since the police too didn't anticipate any problem, based on their previous day's protest which went without any incident. A day later, the CPI-M might just have had enough of freedom of expression, and decided to turn the protest into "people's struggle."

PS- Achutanandan's claims about the death toll are misleading. In the recent clashes 5 BJP workers were killed in Kannur, his home minister's constituency, as against 2 of CPI-M.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Arrest of Binayak Sen as naxal accomplice

My comment posted on yossarin's blog, reproduced here:

There’s a recurring theme in the defense of Dr Sen. Few raise more questions than they actually answer.

I also insist, especially to Dr Sen’s aggrieved relatives that I’ve nothing personal for or against Dr Sen and these are my general observations, a different pov from theirs for sure. Just as you believe that we don’t see or understand your side, so do others who are on the other side of this argument. It’s reciprocal.

It may appear that the other side is faceless state, but the state is ultimately representative of the people, something that seems to have been overlooked so far. Since we're a democracy you can still take actions of state as carrying of legitimacy of people's opinion unlike the Marxist quakery where the label "people's" is appropriated to legitimize totalitarian diktats.

First, that he’s innocent and he has had a clean record. Quite possibly he’s innocent, but then why not let the courts judge for us all? They’ve the constitutional authority and obligation to do that. Let law take its own due course.

Someone’s track record does not necessarily transfer into guilt or innocence. More often than not people commit legal offense despite having a clean record. If someone says that people don’t change over years, then they’ll also have to concede that criminals released after completing a sentence cannot be certified as reformed, and it would be irresponsible to set them free. Further, all rehabilitation programs will have to be shut down if the belief is that people don’t change.

Second accusation is that the state is unfairly incarcerating an honest man and his integrity is beyond reproach. This observation, too, is fraught with danger. It unfairly indicts the honesty and probity of those who serve the people by working for legal agencies, or represent people, or sit in courts in judges’ chair. There’s a whole string of hard working, decent, honest people who are part of the legal procedure, and who work for the system. They are just doing their duty based on available evidence. What personal grudge can so many have against one individual to connive so broadly? Perhaps we can find a street vendor, a teacher, a chaiwalla, a panwalla or two who will vouch for their integrity too.

One might be cynical of the system, but let’s not forget that the system too is made of people like us, who can be, and indeed are, well-meaning more often than not.

They’ve made a case, and taken it to court, not taken recourse to gun as some seem to suggest to be the only option. Dr Sen has access to lawyers and the same court that the legal agencies, who are responsible for public security, have.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Obama is going down

There are two remarkable pieces today in NYT and WaPost. The first is by David Brooks, and the second by Charles Krauthammer, both addressing the coming Obama meltdown.

Now, it behoves to make it clear at the outset that these two columnists are conservative, meaning Republican leaning, and can always be justifiably accused of partisanship when addressing topical Democratic issues, but still they make some penetrating arguments that cannot be dismissed with such ready ease.

Both accurately diagnose the central weakness of the Obama campaign's astonishingly successful USP: that he's a uniter, who can uniquely transcend partisanship in a post-partisan America where people are tired of internecine bickering, and yearning to rise above and beyond their this-worldly differences.

After suggesting that Obama is eventually succumbing to the advice from his strategists that he needs to "throw punches" and take the "gloves off," Brooks concludes:

Besides, the real softness of the campaign is not that Obama is a wimp. It’s that he has never explained how this new politics would actually produce bread-and-butter benefits to people in places like Youngstown and Altoona [where people have lost jobs].

If he can’t explain that, he’s going to lose at some point anyway.

Dr. Krauthammer is more diligent in his diagnosis-- an accurate one at that, I hasten to add. He observes that Obama has succeeded in presenting himself in "grandiose terms" as "a conciliator" by clinching a broken argument, a "non sequitur" if you will:
It goes like this. Because Obama transcends race, it is therefore assumed that he will transcend everything else -- divisions of region, class, party, generation and ideology.
The effect of such sweeping invocations of unity is electric, particularly because race is the deepest and most tragic of all American divisions, and this invocation is being delivered by a man who takes us powerfully beyond it. The implication is that he is therefore uniquely qualified to transcend all our other divisions.
With passage of time, and through some aggressive, though underhanded, tactics by Hillary, this carefully stitched winsome argument is crumbling. Barack Obama's Achilles' heal is that no one questioned him how exactly he was going to bridge the ideological gap. His argument seemingly was that as long as we talk about it good intentionally, we'll find a way. Cute argument, but still, where's the substance?

It is another matter that despite Hillary's "dirty tactics" Indian leftists are cheering Hillary comeback. After all, foreigners--Saudis, Chinese, leftists everywhere included--are heavily invested in Clinton restoration.

It is no surprise to surmise why this is so. In fact, it is eerily close to what we witness back home, in India, almost on a daily basis. There's that irritating but fanciful suggestion that in the subcontinent, and even within the country, we're all "same same," "they're like us," and that we can iron out our differences through talk.

The trick is that in such "talks" we are inexorably urged not talk at all about those very differences lest we become obstacle in way of resolving dispute . "Talks become their own objective" as Kissinger said.

By mentioning our differences, or acknowledging them as much, we might just disturb the communally harmonious, "secular" utopia that we're otherwise standing only a step away from.

Essentially we're supposed to transcend our differences by glossing them over. That's a curious way to resolve disputes, except that it is no way but cute cajoling. Further, it is always appealed to be "large hearted," "forward looking," "be different," "we're not like that," "courageous," "giving," and thus concede our interests. There. Differences ironed out. It is no coincidence that the weaker side is usually encumbered with being "courageous" and "trusting" during negotiations, at least to give a facade of honorable stand if nothing else.

Things never work that way, and we're often reminded of this bitter truth through the umpteen revisits that reality offers us on a regular basis.

So, Obama is going down, for the simple reason that his candidacy is being made to confront harsh reality, which it was never prepared to face off. There's nothing to lament about it though, unless you were taken over by Obamamania. As they say, reality bites.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"Socialism: an obituary for an idea"

Following passages appear in an essay by Irving Kristol, titled- Socialism: an obituary for an idea.

True, there is a dwindling band of socialist fideists who keep insisting that we must not judge socialism by any of its works. The Soviet Union, they tell us, is not "socialist" at all; nor is China, or Cuba, or Yugoslavia, or Hungary, or all those other "people's democracies." Neither, of course, are such regimes as exist in Peru or Syria or Zaire, whose claims to socialist legitimacy are not to be taken seriously. As for western countries with social-democratic government, such as Britain or Sweden -- well, they get a passing grade for "effort" but it seems that they are insufficiently resolute or intelligent to bring "true" socialism about.

This is all quite ridiculous, of course. Socialism is what socialism does. The plaintive lament of the purist that socialism ( or capitalism, or Christianity) has "never really been tried" is simply the expression of petulance and obstinacy on the part of ideologues who, convinced that they have a more profound understanding than anyone else of the world and its history, now find that they have been living a huge self-deception. People who persist in calling themselves socialist, while decrying the three quarters of the world that has proclaimed itself socialist, and who can find a socialist country nowhere but in there imaginings -- such people are anachronisms. As such they do serve a purpose: They help the historian and scholar understand what socialists used to think socialism was all about. One could discover that from reading books, to be sure, but it is sometimes enlightening to interview an actual survivor.
I couldn't find the original article online, but if you're interested you might want to read this book, chap. 24 p 301. It was originally published in The American Spectator, Oct 1976.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

"Controversial" passages from Taslima's novel Dwikhandito

These appeared in EPWeekly. To my knowledge, there's nothing controversial about these passages. They can be easily verified by the three authoritative Koranic translations on USC website. [I am trying to make a compilation of these controversies, your co-operation is appreciated.]

"If somebody, being inspired by Islam, follows the commandments of Allah and wants to be a true Muslim, then he easily may take oath from the Quran wherein it has been advised not to make friendship with the Jews and the Christians, i e, non-Muslims. If somebody does not follow this, Allah will throw him into the fire of Hell. Not only this, (Quran says) wherever you get non-Muslims destroy them, kill them. Whenever you find a non-believer (who does not believe in Islam) cut his left arm and right leg with one strike and his right arm and left leg with another (Dwikhandita, p 48)."

and a second from page 50:

"...he [Prophet Mohammed] killed people without any hesitation, bathed in the blood of people of other communities, ruthlessly killed the people of other religions, ordered his soldiers to loot the wealth of the Jews and he raped their women, thus he could hoist his victory-flag...What could I say! This is the character of our Scoundrel Prophet. And there is the great fraud named Allah in his (meaning Holy Prophet) jobba (loose garments). The billions of fools all over the world are keeping this Islam still alive. This is nothing but tricks of politics (Dwikhandita, p 50)."

PS- For the sake of bloggers' honor code(is there one?), I want to note that I found the above paras on some blog while googling.

With due respects Mr Pratap Bhanu Mehta, but you're a hypocrite

Yesterday IE had an editorial belaboring about freedom of speech, and today this completely biased article by Pratap Bhanu Mehta on the same topic.

Mr Mehta is liberally selective in recalling cases, what he believes to be, concerned with freedom of speech.

Cases that rankle him most: Shivaji by James Laine; Dharmakaarana by P V Narayana; ABVP's objection to essay by Ramanujan(not the mathematician); objection to Jodha Akbar; and (nude) paintings (of Hindu Godesses) by M F Hussain.

While conveniently ignoring his own hypocrisy, which is apparent from looking at his case list, he accuses ABVP of obtuseness regarding their behavior in Ramanujan case, and sees duplicity in BJP's defense of Taslima Nasrin.

The cases that he conveniently, and deliberately so, forgets:
  • Islamic prophet Mohammed's cartoons published by Danish paper Jyllands Posten;
  • withdrawal of film Meenaxi by M F Hussain;
  • hounding of Taslima Nasrin by Islamofascists in Hyderabad, and in Kolkata by Bengal's Marxist rulers;
  • ban and death call on Salman Rushdie;
  • million dollar bounty on Danish cartoonists by a Haj-going muslim minister Yakoob Qureshi of UP;
  • threats of acid throwing on women refusing to wear burkas in Kashmir by Asiya Andarbi of Dukhtaran e millat(daughters of Islamic nation);
  • ban on Da vinci code film by secular parties in Tamilnadu, Andhra, Kerala because Christians are 'offended' ;
  • ban on Dwikhandito in Bengal by CPI(M);
  • objections and calls of ban(?) on the novel Aavarana by S L Bhyrappa;
We can go on and on citing examples that Mr Mehta clearly is uncomfortable with, and finds unsuitable to mention.

None, not one of these registered on Mr Mehta's mind, nor does it figure anywhere in his tortuous jeremiad.

We have to wonder if Mr Mehta wants to be taken seriously at all, what with the gushing intellectual dishonesty that's all too apparent in his article.

Or, does he think that his opponents are going to ignore the cavil acquiescence of his intellectual tribe to Muslim and Christian acts of intolerance of freedom of speech and expression. Not only is he guilty of ignoring the root cause of what he sees as 'intolerance,' but also can he be reasonably accused to have been complicit in condoning the bigotry of minority groups. His cop out on the Danish cartoon controversy was telling. It was also then that most of his fellow travelers lost their moral right to speak with authority on freedom of expression.

Perhaps his intention is only to imprint selective cases on public conscienc, for he's too smart to understand that informed people won't be taken in by such partisan outrage. If so, that's quite unbecoming of an academic.

Monday, March 3, 2008

IE, Shekhar Gupta wants freedom of expression

Indian Express(IE) editorial of today/yesterday laments that freedom of expression is increasingly becoming "mere fiction" in our country. After taking the obligatory potshots at Sambhaji brigade(with the appearance of right wing group but a casteist faction really) on the James Laine controversy, the editorial bemoans that "one by one every institution has flopped down without a fight."

Now, that last bit of righteous breast-beating is quite comical. IE itself is one such institution and if it feels so deeply about freedom of expression it could choose to be the exception to what it mourns to have become a norm.

IE can still publish Danish cartoons of Islam's prophet Mohammed, readily available on the web--or, they can choose to publish excerpts from Taslima Nasrin's book that she "voluntarily withdrew" after threats to her life. But IE does none of that, and simply chooses to badger Sambhaji brigade, it being a safe bet without inviting repercussions.

Walk-the-Talk Gupta, this is your chance to walk the talk, to put your money where your mouth is. Are you up for the challenge?

If not, please don't lecture others.

PS- Is anyone aware if the "journalism of courage" Tehelka published those cartoons? It is my guess that they chickened out as usual. Tehelka is good for selective courage and a good bit of plagiarism.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Freeloaders' budget- a fraud of Enronesque proportions

Chidambaram has delivered the worst budget that India can ill-afford, or afford at its own peril. Let's see what he's done:

1. Debt relief for farmers-

It means massive deficit, slow growth and inflation. Plus you are rewarding bad behavior. Take loans and forget repaying them; the govt. will take care of it is the message. Besides, the money is not coming from Sonia or Chidambaram's pocket. They are borrowing from average Indian's future to pay for today's bills. Perfection of salesmanship is said to be when you make people buy nothing- hope for example, if audacity of truth permits. Sonia is doing charity with our money. It costs her nothing and she hopes to benefit from such largesse.

2. Oh, but they raised the taxable income bracket, didn't they?

Yes, but he has raised taxes elsewhere. The capital gains tax for example, which means penalizing productive people. India just became less investment friendly, rather investment punitive. Such hidden taxes are inevitably going to come back and bite the common citizen, however much we refuse to acknowledge.

First they made aam aadmi into a nakaam/nikamma aadmi (failure, invalid, useless fellow), and now that nikamma is more dependent on the govt. than ever for managing his daily affairs. We are fast approaching socialist utopia at this rate, where resources are scarce and do-gooders are the sole arbiters.

The govt. has kissed goodbye to fiscal discipline. Spend and make merry seems to be the guiding principle of the day. As before, the next generation's interests are being sacrificed at the altar of political opportunism.

And as before, the govt. has indulged in some 'creative' accounting (read fraudulent), is fudging up numbers in what amounts to cooking books by hiding behind arcane terminology to make the deficit appear less, within the scope of set target. The food and fuel subsidy are put under different name, separate from the normal deficit figures which are supposed to be under 3%. Those subsidies are a massive 1% of GDP, taking the overall deficit well beyond 4%. Deficits are nothing but loans and we're being forced to mortgage our future to cover up Sonia-led govt's incompetence. Four years of non-performance, sloth and sheer inertia is being slid under the carpet through short-term public borrowing.

All these losses are going to show up as inflationary tendencies a year or so later. Prices will be out of the control, but the UPA will have bought power(or not!) for itself, with our money. There will be nothing to show for the massive spending- no roads, no infrastructure, no industry. Prince Rahul might have his crown though.

The loser, of course, will be ordinary Indian.