Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Delhi Blasts

Yet another serial blast in the span of a few months and that too in the heart of the country, and still one is not sure whether the blasts made enough noise for the govt. to sit up and take notice. Yes, there were the usual noises made be the powers that be about the need to maintain calm , monetary compensation for the victims and the next of kin and that was about it. There is no change in the ground realities, ‘intelligence’ failure has become so routine that it would be better if they rename it as ‘ignorance’, which is what it actually is. There can be no politics in tackling terrorism but it is invariably given a communal colour and pseudo-secular politicians come running to the defence of organizations like SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) ,a case in point is Lalu Prasad Yadav who openly defended the lifting of ban on SIMI. The Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, has come under lot of criticism and rightly so for his inept handling of internal security related matters. But in a parliamentary democracy ,there is the concept of ‘collective responsibility’ and the whole UPA govt. is responsible for this state of affairs. While there cannot be foolproof security everywhere at all the times, but the least govt. can do is to frame stringent anti-terror laws and ensure their compliance. The 1993 Bombay blast trials got concluded last year ,and this is where the crux of the problem lies. There is no deterrent effect of law if the perpetrators know that one they won’t be caught and second even if they are caught then the trials will go on and on much like the Duracell batteries. It is high time that we as the citizens of India also take some responsibility of defeating the terrorists. We need to be vigilant in public places and cooperate with law enforcement agencies. There is no way these terrorists would have succeeded but for the logisitical help provided by some misguided sections of society who wrongly feel that killing innocents is justified in the name of religion. No religion can justify these killings and those who have done this are surely going to hell one way or the other.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Large Hadron Collider : The Big Bang !!!

Finally, the most complex scientific experiment undertaken by humans is underway in the border area of France and Switzerland. For the layman (and I am one of them), the experiment involves recreating the conditions which led to the original big-bang and consequently the creation of universe as we know. The sub-atomic particles (protons and ions ) would be accelerated close to the speed of light and smashed together ,which would lead to high temperatures close to what is found on the sun ,but in a microscopic space. This high velocity impact of sub-atomic particles is supposed to give significant clues which would help the scientists in unraveling the mystery of the Universe. It is expected by scientists that it may give evidence of the existence of God’s particle or Higg’s Boson. More importantly , CERN(European Centre for Nuclera Research) which is at the forefront of this mega experiment is trying its best to allay the fears of people relating to the end of the world if something goes wrong with the experiment. CERN has categorically stated that such a possibility has a very insignificant probability of occurring ,but a probability nonetheless.
I don’t how much sense this scientific mumbo-jumbo makes to the vast majority of people all around the world. Taking advantage of this the Hindi News Channels in general and India TV of Rajat Sharma in particular went on a fear inducing spree in the masses by showing distressing visuals with headlines “Duniya Ka Vinaash” to name just one. This was journalism at its worst, as it was aimed at garnering TRPs through a misinformation campaign. Today, some news channels have reported that one girl in a remote village committed suicide fearing that the world is coming to an end. Now ,this is a very serious matter and I&B Ministry as well as the courts need to take suo motu notice of this new kind of terrorism perpetrated by devoid of ethics news channels. Shame on Rajat Sharma (of Aapki Adalat Fame and owner of India TV) for exercising no editorial control on the content of India TV or maybe it was shown with his consent. In that case ,if Ansals can be charged with murder for Uphaar tragedy ,then surely rajat Sharma should be booked for abetting the suicide of the unfortunate teenager.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Language problem ???

Raj Thackeray is once again in the news and for the wrong reasons. He wants Jaya Bachchan to apologise for hurting the sentiments of Marathi speaking people. Nothing wrong in asking for an apology for any perceived wrong done to someone, but what is wrong is the way in which he demands an apology “…either you say sorry or we will make you feel sorry …”. Raj Thackeray is a non-entity as far as Maharastra politics is concerned and this looks like his only way to get few minutes of airtime. With the proliferating news channels always on the lookout for such (un)noteworthy events, people like Raj get their share of publicity. What upset Raj Thackeray was Jaya’s insistence on speaking in Hindi at a function after duly apologizing to the Marathi speaking people for her inability to speak in marathi. Now some busy-bodies from media or elsewhere read something between the lines which suggested to them that Jaya was making a barb at Raj Thackeray and his love for Marathi. Now the situation looks like taking a turn for the worse as some people are going to jump in to get their share of political mileage out of this. Language is synonymous with identity in our country and there have been ugly incidents in the past where people have been attacked and even killed for belonging to a particular linguistic group. The killing of hindi speaking migrant labourers in Assam ,the attack on Tamilians in Bangalore , and many such incidents which don’t get reported point to some systemic flaw in our conception of nationhood.We think of ourselves as belonging to one nation and sharing a common brotherhood only in case of war, natural disaster ,cricket match etc. Otherwise, our identity as an Indian always takes a backseat to our identity as a Marathi, Bihari, Bengali, Tamil, Kannadiga, Punjabi etc. This is what allows people like Raj Thackeray to issue threats and take shelter under the umbrella of regional chauvinism.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Nuclear Deal At Last !

On 6th September'2008,India finally got the go ahead from the 45 member Nuclear Supplier's Group(NSG) after seemingly endless rounds of parleys between the Indian delegation,their US counterparts and G-6 countries(Ireland,Austria,NewZealand,Netherlands,Norway and Switzerland).The G-6 countries were hell bent on scuttling the deal as in their view India had not done enough for non-proliferation to be granted full civilian nuclear cooperation rights.The statement by India's External Affairs Minister reiterating India's longstanding commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and its unilateral voluntary moratorium on further nuclear testing definitely played a role in getting the NSG waiver for India.The US also pitched in with its support and like it or not ,US still exercises a big say in international affairs.
The NSG waiver ensures that India can go for full civilian nuclear cooperation not only with USA ,but also with countries like Russia and France.The waiver has come at the right time as India's energy needs are growing at a fast clip and with fossil fuels running out as well as their adverse impact on environment, nuclear energy seems a much better bet for ensuring India's energy security in the future.
The question doing the rounds in all TV channels and other media outlets is what price would India have to pay for getting up,close and personal with USA.Well,yes,India will have to pay a price in the sense that US will seek India's active involvement in seeking its foreign policy goals and also military cooperation.Already India conducts joint military exercises with US and also with other countries plus having good relation with the lone super power in the world is also in India's best interests.Non-alignment is well past its sell by date and India is an emerging global player and if US wants to help India to contain China(the primary reason why Left is dead opposed to nuclear deal)so be it.India is a vibrant democracy,yes it is far from perfect in its operation but surely no Indian govt. can ride roughshod over public opinion.This effectively means that India's foreign policy might be pro-US in times to come but definitely not dictated by US as feared by skeptics of the deal.Instead of focusing on what US stands to gain, we should focus more on the gains for India.This deal has secured for India its rightful place on the nuclear high table and the real gain of the deal would be visible when India becomes self-sufficient in its energy needs.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Drunken Driving !!!

This is the recollection of an actual incident which happened while I was in third year of engineering. As it was ‘Bihu’ time, most of the crowd had left for their homes to enjoy the holidays and it was only a few hardened souls, who were from far off places or were sick of going to home time and again(reverse of home sickness), occupying the hostel. One of our senior ,who was from Jorhat itself, invited all of us (around 10-12)who were staying back during Bihu vacations to attend the marriage of his elder sister. It was an offer (of great food)that we could not refuse much like the offer made by Marlon Brando in the movie ‘Godfather’. So ,on the appointed day ,we went in full strength to attend the wedding. We were introduced to the bride and the bridegroom and then we made ourselves comfortable. After that we had a nice dinner and it was time (10 pm) to make the journey back to hostel, somebody suggested that a vehicle would drop us but it turned out to be a rumour. We started walking with a heavy heart and even heavier stomachs as the food was too delicious.Suddenly a tempo (bigger auto) appeared on the horizon and a deal was struck to drop us till the petrol pump from where our hostel was a further 3.2 kilometres afar. We wanted the tempo to take us all the way but he refused point blank and we realized that any more argument might not get us even to the petrol pump. We reached the petrol pump and found one auto-rickshaw and 12 of us keen to get on it.But the driver was nowhere to be found. He appeared a little later totally drunk and swaying from one side to the other.He offered to take all 12 of us to the hostel in one trip,we realized that it was the ‘spirit’ inside him which was making that tall claim.It was anyone’s guess as to where he would take us in such a drunken state,the highway to hell was in clear sight with him driving the auto. Any other day ,one would have refused to go along but we had our compulsions,after a hefty dinner the last thing one wanted to do was walk a marathon.The majority decided to take a chance with the drunken master who all this while had kept his auto running.Just then a Maruti 800 driven by another senior came and it already had three occupants.They stopped and offered to take us to hostel but only 8 of us managed to squeeze in.Myself,my roommate and two juniors were left standing as there was no room and we felt that we would take our chances with the drunk driver who in the meanwhile had sobered quite a bit.We started and covered the distance in double quick time , thankfully at such late hour there was no traffic on the road.We thanked the autowala for giving us a frightening experience without any damage to our person.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

BMW Case

So, finally after nearly a decade of courtroom hearings Sanjeev Nanda has been covicted under a section of IPC which relates to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.In 1999,Sanjeev Nanda mowed down six people with his sister's BMW which he was driving under the influence of alcohol.It was a very open and shut case ,but then Nandas had money power which forced many witnesses to turn hostile and investigating machinery to proceed at snail's pace,even though of those six killed,three were cops.The wheels of justice moved very slowly ,but the fact that they moved was because of Media's focus on the case and the fact that it happened in New Delhi where even if a pin drops ,it makes noise in the media circles.
The case also saw a sting operation done by NDTV which clearly showed the nexus between public prosecutor and defence lawyer and offering of bribe to eyewitness for changing his testimony in the accused's favour.This was one sting operation which seemed to be in public interest as opposed to the numerous stings which are done primarily for grabbing eyeballs by showing lascivious content.Now the High Court has suspened both the lawyers from practicing for four months, a relatively light sentence but a step in the right direction.
Some people and more importantly TOI(Times of India)in its editorial felt that Sanjiv Nanda has been made a target because he is rich and famous and have argued that what about the numerous Blue Line drivers who routinely cause 'murder' on Delhi roads. Rather than arguing for a lesser sentence for Sanjiv Nanda and equating him with Blue Line drivers who are back behind the wheels soon after causing accidents ,the better approach would be to make the investigation process tighter , justice delivery system faster and exemplary punishment handed out to those who cause accidents while driving under the influence of alcohol.The punishment should be equal ,whether you are a driving a BMW or a Blueline !