Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Communalising" nuclear deal issue

The last thing any CPI(M) politburo member(uber appratchiks that is) could be accused of is communalism, or so the communists think. But the unthinkable has happened. Someone in CPI(M) named M K Pandhe made a remark that the Samajwadi (Socialist) Party would loose Muslim votes because "an overwhelming majority of the Muslim masses are against it".

A day after his remarks there is virtual pandemonium in 'secular' circles. The Marxists have disowned it. Other secularists are accusing Pandhe of communalism. Even Muslim groups are denouncing him, or so we're told.

Most of the remarks of Muslim groups however reinforce Pandhe's assertion. There is not a voice amongst the spokespersons of Muslim groups which supports the nuke deal. The rebukes are typical: Muslims should not have to "prove" their "nationalism" etc., but tucked among them is this curious nugget:
“It’s true that there are many in the community who are suspicious about the American involvement in the deal but in every community there will be those who oppose it and who support it. The issue is not whether the deal is good or bad. The issue is why has the CPM singled out Muslims? It’s high time the CPM realizes that national interest is more important than ideological interest. They can go on supporting China but don’t use the Muslim community to make their case,” he said.(emphasis added)
That is a statement from one Moulana Abdul Hameed Noomani, a spokesperson for "Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, India’s largest Muslim organization."

Please check the highlighted part. Mr Noomani finds it unpalatable to have Muslims' 'loyalty to national interest' questioned, but in the same breath asserts that he has no problem with CPI(M) rooting for China.

Shouldn't an individual 'loyal to national interest' balk at even the hint of someone rooting for an adversarial nation against his own country's interest?

Curiously enough, Mr Noomani sees nothing wrong with Marxists' support for China. One can only guess why.

Friday, June 20, 2008

OIC vote on Kashmir

Recently, the OIC voted on Kashmir-related resolution--one of its annual conference chore. This vote is always one-sided.

Iran, with whom we've cultural ties for over 5000 yrs., too has voted against India and in favor of Pakistan-sponsored resolution; always, without an exception.

We're told that we should not vote against Iran during the UN resolutions condemning Iranian actions violating international treaties that it signed voluntarily. We're told that we should not violate international treaties because UN is sacred and our high-moral position could be hurt. Or worst, we could face isolation.

We're told that we don't need nuclear weapons; that 'South Asia' should be nuke-free. But Iran, no no, it does need the nuclear weapons. It will not face isolation. It's irascible President even gets to be our guest/friend with a red carpet welcome. Remember, this is the same guy who denies the holocaust and who has publicly proclaimed that he'll wipe out a country with his newly acquired nukes. Nothing, none of this even as much as register on Indian 'secular 'conscience. Not one 'concerned citizen' is horrified or shamed to have Ahmadinejad in New Delhi. There are no protests on our streets either. The mob that protested against President Bush's visit is exultant at Ahmadinejad's sojourn.

Iran, further, faces no isolation, no opprobrium, does not contribute to arms race or affect the stability of the region. Iran is mysteriously spared the lectures that greet certain other countries or groups. Lectures on peace, human rights, interference in internal affairs (Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy in Lebanon) are decidedly missing.

Despite such hypocrisy 'secular' India still maintains the facade of possessing moral rectitude.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Defense 'cut'?

Pakistan has declared a defense budget freeze and asked India to reciprocate. Forgetting the arguments for India's defense needs, all one needs to ask is what exactly is the Pakistani defense budget?

Fudged accounting is the hallmark of defense budgets in most countries. For example, China simply doesn't calculate certain normal expenses to under report the budget. Their real defense budget is in the $100-140 billion range, or so the Pentagon claims. China's defense budget, like its currency, remains pegged much below its actual value. Officially, it was $60 billion for last year--a 17% increase over the previous year.

Anyway, before getting gauzy over Pakistan's claim, we need to remind ourselves what one of its own wrote on WaPost's op-ed pages a few days ago.

Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, chief of the Pakistani army, has told U.S. military and NATO officials that he will not retrain or reequip troops to fight the counterinsurgency war the Americans are demanding on Pakistan's mountainous western border.

Instead, the bulk of the army will remain deployed on Pakistan's eastern border and prepare for possible conflicts with traditional enemy India -- wars that have always been fought on the plains of Punjab. More than 80 percent of the $10 billion in U.S. aid to Pakistan since the Sept. 11 attacks has gone to the military; much of it has been used to buy expensive weapons systems for the Indian front rather than the smaller items needed for counterinsurgency.

We know that Pakistani political leadership is clueless if not toothless when it comes to Pakistan's military. What's worst, till American money keeps pouring in to fight the 'war on terror,' Pakistan will have no compunction in siphoning off vast sums out of it to arm itself against India.

These funds obviously don't figure in Pakistan's defense budget.

Moral: Pakistani PM's pious declarations should be taken with more than a fistful of salt. You can bet he's lying through his (paan-stained?) teeth.

If there was one lesson from Kargil war that Indian leadership should get etched on its minds, it is that the Pakistani politicians cannot be trusted with its military matters. They will feign ignorance a la Nawaz Sharif and we'll be left counting dead bodies of our soldiers.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

SUV: Suddenly Unwanted Vehicle

Telling cartoon by Washington Post's Tom Toles.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Know thy competition: China's SAT has an article by an American educator teaching at a Chinese university. She talks about China's SAT similar to the universalized Scholastic Aptitude Test used for undergrad admissions in US colleges.

Gaokao, meaning 'high test', is adjusted to each of China's provinces (Tibet is one!) and is apparently considerably tough, especially in Beijing and Shanghai.

Of particular interest:
Getting into a top-tier university such as Beijing's Tsinghua or Peking University—the former the alma mater of four of the nine members of China's current Politburo, the latter China's oldest university—might lead to an interview with a major multinational or an elite political gig.
Scores determine one's major as much as alma mater. Tsinghua, "the MIT of China," has an internationally renowned engineering program, so gaokao minimums are out of this world. To enter Tsinghua's software engineering department in 2007, students needed a score of at least 680, out of top scores in the low 700s, depending on the province. (Consider that in Shandong Province, the highest 2007 score was 675.) The software engineering program at Xibei Sciences University, in Xi'an Province, demanded just 442.
Apparently, you've to apply to the universities without knowing your scores, or take a break for an year, implicitly suggesting the extent of confidence the universities expect from their applicants.

Of course, there are certain similarities(with Indian system):
Essentially, Chinese universities accept those students who are good at taking tests. This makes sense for an educational system historically oriented toward rote learning, where students are tested on how well they've memorized their teachers' lectures.
But, they are trying to change, vigorously at that.

The Chinese have been on a nation-building spree for a while now. Importing coaches for olympic sports for getting gold medals(“Silver? It means nothing here; you might as well finish last,” Soviet coach Grinko said), educators to house their universities and schools, managers for their businesses, China is galloping ahead at a scary rate.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Indian Left's routine Israel bashing

Defense minister A K Antoni had a little chit-chat with left "members" on missile development. No, they're not worried about India's security suddenly. For those who still persist in denying China's aggression over India in '62 that would be some volte-face. The reason is that this missile co-operation is between India and Israel.
Defence minister A.K. Antony today ...[asked DRDO] to cut down dependence on foreign collaborations in missile development even as the Left(communists) asked for greater transparency on joint ventures with Israel.
How about some transparency in the secretive, upper-caste male members dominated Politburo meetings or the furtive visits of comrade Yechuri and Karat to fatherland China? Or the shoddy behavior of their old fatherland Russia in the Gorshkov carrier case? Nah, they would never touch those issues by a bargepole.

Antony was speaking to the members of the parliamentary consultative committee on defence. Left members[CPI(M) MPs] P.R. Rajan and Shamik Lahiri are understood to have asked for details of a missile development joint venture with Israel.

I'll be damned if the communist members ever expressed similar concern for our defense preparation regarding China. This sudden spurt of interest is for one reason alone: Israel. The comrades are gunning for two birds at once through their skulduggery: the Muslim vote bank and America--China's rival and Israel's 'imperialist' backer.

Cooler chat

Bro(bhai): How do you spell 'sniper' dude?

Dude(babu): Umm...let me try, R-A-J-N-A-T-H may be? I don't know.

Bro: Gotcha! Seems right. Thanks dude!!

Dude: Anytime bro. Take care.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Poetic justice, literally

"Call it poetic justice: More than two dozen young people who broke into Robert Frost's former home for a beer party and trashed the place are being required to take classes in his poetry as part of their punishment."

Doesn't get better than that. :-)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fatwa chicanery: Not a Deoband first

Hoodwinking is an old art, and Islamic terrorism's apologists have time and again proven themselves quite adept at it.

Deoband's radical Islamic school passed a "fatwa," with caveats, "against terror."

Deoband first(?): A fatwa against terror

Apart from the ridiculous suggestions that there is no link between Koranic passages and the actions of those who consider themselves devout Muslims (a lifelong allah ka banda won't suddenly give up on allah's message, would he?) , of particular interest are these statements:

Islam rejects all kinds of unjust violence, breach of peace, bloodshed, murder and plunder and does not allow it in any form.

Killing of innocent people is not compatible with Islam. The biggest challenge faced by us today is terrorism (which) threatens to strike at the very root of the secular structure of our society besides causing irreparable loss
The reporter preempts the objections by "some calling it...falling short of unequivocal condemnation of terrorism" by putting much hope in the inchoate steps of Deoband. But this is self-defeating.

The caveats, qualifiers "unjust" and "innocent" leave much room for interpretation and plausible deniability.

The Deoband madarassa still refuses to give concrete examples of acts which it would consider to be of "terrorist" nature.

The first question to be asked is does the Deoband consider the attack on Parliament, train bombings in Mumbai, attacks on Hindu temples in Varanasi/Jaipur/Akshardham etc., to be acts of terrorism? Or was it "just" violence?

Secondly, does the Deoband consider all of the victims of bombings on Delhi markets in Diwali and the 9/11 twin-towers to be "innocent" or participants in acts of "state terrorism"? Was their killing an acts of "justified" violence.

Most of them were non-believers, kafirs with questionable "innocence" as far as the Deobandis are concerned.

The answers should clear up the cobwebs about Deoband's thinking.

This lack of clarity on its part means others will have to wait for clarifications from Deobandi mullahs, clerics to know whether they certify something as terrorism or not. Post-facto certifications are useless in saving lives anyway. The fatwa is thus rendered meaningless since it does not instruct clearly to those who are supposed to follow it or take cues from it: the devout Muslims that is.

As it is, the meaning of fatwa itself is not clear. At some times it is an instruction to the faithful, at others, it is merely an opinion.

By reading too much in these inane fatwas, all that the non-believers are left to do is to wring hands and shrug at the Deobandis insouciance.

Unless we choose to fight. The choice is ours.