Monday, May 31, 2004
China softens stance further on Sikkim


Sunday, May 30, 2004
RAW man defects to USA

From an email sent out by Ram Narayanan:

Soon after its failure to detect Pokhran 2, the CIA had announced that it would be strengthening its human intelligence network. That news was carried by the media. Most people concluded at that time that the CIA would try to recruit agents in india with a vengeance. It's surprising that the RAW guys were not only not vigilant enough, but having discovered a mole, were so inept as to allow the spy to escape! Could it be that there is more to it than meets the eye?

R&AW in crisis after double agent disclosure

Afghan visitors at OSU

you asked me to post something about the meeting with the visiting Afghans:

Well, interesting to note that all the visitors were Pushtun, and previously had links with the Taliban. They're all from provinces that are troublespots today (southern and eastern A'stan). One of them is still a member of the Hizb-e-Islami, and another a member of the Jama'at-e-Islami. Currently, a faction of the Hizb-e-Islami, lead by Farooqi) are trying to come to a rapproachment with Karzai (and the US in general). The US is trying to involve certain pre-"liberation" establishment elements in A'stan, just like it is trying to involve some Ba'athists in Iraq. Parliamentary and Presidential elections in A'stan have been postponed to September. The above persons are supposedly on a visit to the US to learn about democracy, law and order, etc. But its obviously more than that. Some of my more pointed questions were given evasive treatment, and one of the interpreters openly told me that he didn't believe a word one of the guys was saying.

Swastikas to be Taken Out of Courthouse
Ummm... I do not get it. If it is a Hindu symbol, why is it on the courthouse building anyway? Is that not like.... having the Ten Commandments in the premises?

I know, I know, it is just a symbol of well-being etc. But, if it is considered a religious symbol, it is a religious symbol, period.

Saturday, May 29, 2004
Pak fires nuke capable missile

This definitely has got to do with the change in guard in New Delhi. While they do this, our external affairs minister chalks out a plan for Soniaji to visit Pakistan !! Talk about having their priorities straight !

'Communists not fools, we want reforms' - Sify.com
I was able to digest this, simply because it was Buddhadebda who said it. I would have choked over my coffee had it been someone like Prakash Karat. Bhattacharya has been known to be a moderate chap, who has tried to stem the hysteric anti-liberalization, "secular" rhetoric in his party.

Friday, May 28, 2004
Rebel BJP MLAs want Modi out
The epic battle for the soul of BJP begins.

I think Modi would start a war over whether it was the Modi line or the Vajpayee line that brought the defeat of NDA. Depending on what happens at the lab, BJP might turn out to be the right-of-center modern party, or just another grouping that is firmly stuck its head into the sand, believing Aryabhatta's works would render us into the 21st century as the world leader.

Let's see.

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Maran's 10 pt plan to boost IT

I like this minister.

Madam G's role

I am curious as to what exactly is Sonia Gandhi's role in the new setup. For all talks of her 'martyrdom' and the sympathy for her, she has carefully kept the reins of power with her.

Manmohan Singh is the PM. Pranab Mukherjee is the leader of the house. And Sonia I guess wants to be the larger than life figure.

We criticized Bal Thakeray for running a remote control government in Maharashtra. This one's only worse. At least Thakeray openly said he was going to do it. This woman's trying to take the country for a ride. People of India will see through this soon.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Some politically incorrect questions

Marriages under Essential Commodities Act!

Another power grab where the government has arrogated upon itself the authority to regulate everyday lives of the citizenry. Don't get me wrong... I oppose wastage of food as much as these do-gooders. I never throw food away. But it should come from individual conscience - not because of legislation.

And what is it with bride's family not being 'allowed' to invite more than 75, and the groom's 50? Who decided these numbers?

Monday, May 24, 2004
East Timor struggles for oil with Australia

Australia (and other Western nations) fuelled the violent Timorese struggle for independence from Indonesia on the basis of human rights and Christian solidarity. Now watch how these same actors are dealing with their poor, isolated, Asian converts.

Saturday, May 22, 2004
ThoughtSnips completes an year!

Today, we celebrate the first birthday of ThoughtSnips. Happy B'day to us!!

Friday, May 21, 2004
Cong offers Speakership to Somnath
Our man Rachit had speculated that this would happen... overall, it seems to be his time in divination! :)

Thousands of Musilm workers desert BJP

Friday, May 21, 2004 (Lucknow):

In a mass exodus after the poll debacle, around 3000 Muslim workers of the BJP in Lucknow are expected to join the Congress today.

The workers, who had been actively involved in Vajpayee's campaign just a few days ago, suddenly find the BJP communal.

"The BJP thinks that Muslims have no right to be here, they should be denied Muslim votes," said Sayed Rafat, former BJP worker.

Shifting camp

The rebel workers gathered in the old city of Lucknow and took an oath to wipe out the BJP. They say they felt suffocated in the party.

"When we'd speak to our family and friends, we'd feel something amiss. Today, we feel totally free," said Mohammad Shafi, another former worker.

The turnaround came with some guidance from the local Congress party workers.

"I will explain our party's policies to them and convince them to join us," said Anwar Hussain, Congress Sewa Dal.

Recently many Muslim groups had expressed their solidarity with BJP and also formed a Vajpayee fan club. However, with the results of the recent elections, the equations were bound to change.

My concern is Bihar, not Power

What does he want? A Ministry of Bihar Affairs? I dunno why a Bihar package must be promised before he enters the ministry. Just a sign of things to come. My prediction - Manmohan Singh's government will fall in two years.

The zeal of the neo-convert.
But most of what he says is right. Its just that, as he himself says, being a white man allows him to get away with saying such things. If an Indian Hindu said the same he'd be called a barking mad ultra-nationalist.

Thursday, May 20, 2004
The white woman and India

I don't know how to react to this article. The article conclusion struck me !

Wake up O Indians: you are as great, if not greater than the white man. You can do as well, if not better than the white man. Not only did your forefathers devise some of the basic principles of mathematics, astrology, and surgical medicine, not only are your people among the most brilliant in the world today -- half of Silicon Valley is of Indian origin, 30 percent of the United Kingdom's doctors are Indians -- but you still hold within yourselves a unique spiritual knowledge, which once roamed the world but which has now disappeared, replaced by the intolerant creed of the two major monotheistic religions which say: 'if you don't believe in my true God, I will either kill you or convert you'.

People's verdict

Just to drive the point home -- before people say that the majority in India apparently have no peoblem with Sonia being PM --

Hearing aid for her inner voice
It is a gross misrepresentation of the people's verdict that the majority in the country endorse Ms Gandhi's prime ministership. It is meaningless to speak of endorsement or rejection of one who was never projected as the prime ministerial candidate during the elections. The Congress had deliberately shied away from projecting a prime ministerial face keeping the janata in suspense till the elections were over. The Congress, on its own, fought on 417 seats, out of which it won only 145; a poor success rate of 35 per cent. Can't we then conclude that 65 per cent of people also rejected Ms Gandhi? With 145 seats on its own, a wafer-thin margin separates the Congress from the BJP which won 138 seats. Moreover, as a senior television journalist recently put it: "Congress with 141 seats should realise that no revolution has taken place in the country."

"...I think that's the way you respect both traditional values. But you can allow civil unions, which protects the rights of people in America not to be discriminated against. And I think you can balance that..."

Exactly my position. "Civil union", which guarantees certain legal rights to gays, without harming the value-based concept of "marriage" as treasured by a large section of the rest. I don't see why people should have a problem with this.

Types of Dances: fast salsa; slow ballroom; and extremely tortuous Kerry dance around issues

Question: What is your position on Bush's fight to ban gay marriages?

Kerry: I believe that the president of the United States should not use the Constitution of the United States for election purposes during an election year. It's a document that we haven't touched, certainly with respect to the Bill of Rights, in years, and I don't think it should be used for the purpose of driving a political wedge through America. I think it's wrong. Now, that said, I personally have taken the position I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's my position, and I think that's the way you respect both traditional values. But you can allow civil unions, which protects the rights of people in America not to be discriminated against. And I think you can balance that, and I think it's appropriate to. But I do think that it ought to be left to the states.

Hat Tip: Slate's Kerryism of the Day

Manmohan Singh's take on major issues

NDTV.com - Manmohan outlines new govt agenda
It is striking that Dr.Singh's agenda is going to be, to a great extent, a continuation of Vajpayee's (with some emphasis on farmer's issues). It is going to be great for the nation if he can implement it as he says.

What is better than a stable govt is a confidence among the investors that no matter who is in charge, the government's essential policies would not be rolled back.

Bravo, Dr. Singh! All the Best.

Advani hails Manmohan's choice
BJP moves on.... This is a good sign. It is clear Advani intends to don the mantle of a statesman as he sets about building the BJP again.

This is a very crucial time for BJP.... whether it turns out to be a 6-year wonder or a stable anchor around an umbrella alliance is formed depends on how the NDA evolves in the near future, and nothing is going to influence that more than the internal changes in the BJP.

If Advani strengthens the BJP again, quelling the problems that have beset the party, making it ever-so-Congress-like, he would have done a lasting service to the party - and the nation.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Couple wanted to have a baby without having sex! - The Times of India
Okay, any body still willing to oppose sex education in school?

Akshardham hero loses battle - The Times of India
My condolences to the family of the brave soldier.

Whose inner voice?
Pioneer News Service/ New Delhi

Apparently, it was not the "inner voice" but certain queries that could have
been put to her by the President of India, custodian of the Constitution, which
caused her to withdraw her name.

Contrary to attempts by Congressmen and Communists to portray her eleventh-hour
retreat as a "personal decision" spurred by her children, it could be the
clarifications apparently sought by President A P J Abdul Kalam that resulted in the
rethink. The President, it is reliably learnt, did not outrightly reject her
candidature for the post of the Prime Minister. However, he is believed to have
sought certain clarifications on a few points regarding the precise status of
her Indian citizenship. In doing so, he may have referred to some pointed queries
referred to him by legal luminaries who met him since the declaration of the
Lok Sabha election results.

That probably explains why Ms Gandhi's decision to opt out came only after she
emerged from the Rashtrapati Bhawan after meeting the President on Tuesday at
12.30 pm. That could also explain why she did not allow the entourage of allied
parties to accompany her for the meeting, contrary to custom.

According to highly placed sources, the President may have conveyed to her that
in view of the legal and constitutional queries raised, he would need some more
time to examine the matter. Accordingly, there could be no swearing-in on
Wednesday, May 19 - a date unilaterally announced by Left leaders and
enthusiastically endorsed by Congressmen on Monday without consulting the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Highly placed sources in the Government told The Pioneer that on the basis of
various petitions submitted to him, the President could have sought to clarify a
few issues from Ms Gandhi. He is said to have informally communicated to her on
Monday evening that certain queries needed to be answered, even as he invited
her to have a discussion on Government formation.

On the basis of pleas submitted to him by people like Janata Party leader
Subramanian Swamy and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj against any person of foreign origin
occupying a top constitutional post, and the legal advice that he had obtained
from top constitutional experts, the President could have sought three
clarifications from Ms Gandhi. This would be a haunting experience for Ms Gandhi. The
BJP leaders had already declared that they would continue to support any form of
agitation on the foreign origin issue.

The most damaging clarification that has apparently been sought relates to
Article 102 of the Constitution that says: "A person shall be disqualified for
being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament" on any or
more of five possible grounds. Clause(d) of the same Article says "... or is
under any acknowledgement of allegiance or adherence to a foreign state".

The term "adherence" had to be clarified specifically as Ms Gandhi in her
affidavit before the Returning Officer of the Rai Bareli parliamentary constituency
had stated that she owned ancestral property, namely portion of a house, in
Orbassano, Italy, the country of her origin. This fact of ownership, legal experts
say, makes her subject to Italian law in this matter and could be interpreted
as "adherence" to a foreign country. Since this portion of the ancestral
property was apparently bequeathed to her by her father in his will, she inherited it
only after his death. Consequently, the property was not her's when she filed
her 1999 nomination affidavit.

Article 103 states that "if any question arises as to whether a member of
either House of Parliament has become subject to disqualification mentioned in
Article 102, the question shall be referred for the decision to the President and
his decision shall be final". Clause 2 of the Article says: "Before giving any
decision on such question, the President shall obtain the opinion of the Election
Commission and shall act according to such opinion."

This means that the President is required by the Constitution to undertake an
elaborate process of examining the legal and constitutional issues involved.
Thus, Ms Gandhi's swearing-in could not happen before the matter was fully
clarified and resolved.

Another point that came in the way of Ms Gandhi was Section 5 of the
Citizenship Act. Under this, there is a reciprocity provision whereby citizenship granted
by India to persons of foreign origin is circumscribed by the rights that
particular country confers upon foreigners seeking citizenship there.

The crux of this provision of "reciprocity" is that a person of foreign origin,
who has acquired the citizenship of India through registration by virtue of
marrying an Indian national, cannot enjoy more rights (like becoming Prime
Minister), if the same opportunity is not available to an Indian-born citizen in that
particular country.

While it is not known whether the President mentioned this, legal luminaries
pointed out there could be a further lacuna over the issue of her surrendering
Italian citizenship. It is believed that while acquiring citizenship through
registration in 1983, she surrendered her Italian passport to the Italian
Ambassador in New Delhi but did not obtain a formal notification from the Italian
Government that her citizenship of that country had been cancelled.

This might be only a technicality that could be rectified in a few days, but it
would have certainly helped the BJP raise the pitch of the campaign once the
citizenship issue returned to the fore.

Another petition submitted to the President on Tuesday by Sushma Swaraj pointed
out that as the Supreme Commander of India's Armed Forces, the President should
examine a key issue. It referred to the fact that a Defence or Indian Foreign
Service official cannot even marry a foreign national without permission, or
must quit his post. How could a person of foreign origin be handed over the
nuclear button in such circumstances, Ms Swaraj's petition demanded to know.

What could have prevented Sonia?

Article 102 of the Constitution says: "A person shall be disqualified for being
chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament - (d) if he or
she is under any acknowledgement of allegiance or adherence to a foreign
state." Sonia Gandhi, in her affidavit, had declared she owned a house in Italy and
may thus invite, the term "adherence" of the said provision.

Under Article 103, the President is the sole adjudicator on the issue who has
to decide on such matter in consultation with the Election Commission.

Section 5 of the Citizenship Act, dealing with the reciprocity clause for a
person who registered herself as an Indian citizen, says the said person could not
enjoy more rights than those available to an Indian born person in that other
country if he/she acquires citizenship of that country, like Italy for instance.

The clauses of the Citizenship Act were apparently not fully met when Ms Gandhi
relinquished her Italian citizenship.

Blind to Progress (washingtonpost.com)
I will follow it up with my analysis later.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Watch out for those whose behavior towards India becomes more aggressive at this juncture. When the prey is weak the jackal shows its teeth.

China starts getting fuzzy again on Sikkim (article). After all, their comrades are the king/queen-makers in India right now.

Earlier, China had unequivocally "reciprocated" to India's gesture recognizing the whole of Tibet as under Chinese sovereignty by acknowledging that tiny (but strategically significant) Sikkim was indeed Indian. But now...

"China today said it looked forward to work jointly with the new Indian government to forge a "long-term constructive cooperative partnership" to boost bilateral ties while stressing that the "Sikkim issue" would be resolved "gradually.""

Why Do Athletes Pee on Their Hands? - Does urine really toughen the skin? By Dan Kois
I could only feel sorry for Bush and Kerry.... who knows just how many of those millions with whom they have shook hands were baseball players?!

Piece of Wisdom

Today, truly legal same-sex marriage has become a reality in the United States... to the newly married couples, I have a piece of wisdom....

A man is incomplete till he gets married

... and then, he is finished.

(ps: It was a cool decal I saw today).

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: In Iraq, America's Shakeout Moment
I would love to believe David Brooks. I sure pray he is right. But we should bear in mind that some American action have gone so horribly wrong there could not be a second act. Most people who talk about Vietnam now are subconciously pointing out one case where this happened. Let's not forget Nam.

I was idling on this PM candidate issue, I suddenly got a panic attack... what if Sonia anoints Rahul Gandhi?!! Gulp... But no... I think she is smarter than that. But for a couple of minutes, I was really, really worried.


Re: Jaya announces series of rollbacks

Oh, BTW, another good news in that article that I overlooked is that the AIADMK govt has now withdrawn its case against The Hindu. It was a highly inappropriate attack on the free press by, of all things, the legislature. It was condemnable, and morally wrong (if it was legally wrong, I do not know).

NDTV.com - Uma Bharti quits Chief Minister's post
Total stunt.... if she were sincere about the resignation, she would have sent it to the governor of the state... not the BJP president.

Manmohan Singh as PM

I am still of the view that only Sonia has the right to claim the post. However, there is one good thing that could come out of having Manmohan Singh as PM. Congress would now come to be identified firmly with centrist economic policies, and left-of-center social policies. That would be a great thing, with BJP already having the centrist economic policy and right-of-center social policy. I would be glad to see a bipolar system emerge along those lines.

Interesting question

If Rahul and Priyanka do not want Sonia to be the PM, would they ever compete for that post? Surely, they would be concerned about their personal safety too!

Re: Sonia not to be PM
Rachit, I still believe that you are wrong. Sure, many people who are opposed to Sonia being the PM because of her being of non-Indian origin will be happy. However, they are missing a big issue - that of the legitimacy of the PM.

Sure, Manmohan Singh is a very decent man, some one is well respected (at least among educated folks) etc. However, there is no way he is going to carry the authority that Sonia could. That is because he was a dark horse, and forever be one. And worse, there is going to be a strong extra-constitutional authority in the person of Sonia Gandhi. The situation would be akin to, but may be not as bad as, Deve Gowda and I.K.Gujral ministries when the specter of Sitaram Kesri constantly hung over the PM's head. Remember, Gujral was a very respectable man before he became the PM. Same with Chandrashekar.

Worse would be the effect of the pressure from the Left. Left would feel much freer to force Singh to enact their agenda than Sonia Gandhi. At least, she would have the legitimacy that derive from having led Congress to victory!

And one more uncomfortable fact: yet again, the Prime Minister is going to be from the Rajya Sabha. The practice, while not illegal, should be discouraged.

NDTV.com - Jaya announces series of rollbacks

The one good thing in these rollbacks - the withdrawal of the anti-conversion law. It was an unconstitutional, if not outright stupid, law.
However, what disturbs me is that all measures she had taken, things only a person with her will could, have been reversed. That is not good.

Sonia not to be PM
This is a pleasant surprise. Apparently Rahul & Priyanka dont want her to be PM fearing her safety. Even as the drama unfolds, I have a feeling she will agree to be the PM. This seems stage-managed.
I was seeing NDTV and there was an MP with a gun to his head threatening to kill himself. By the time you guys read this, she would have made up her mind.
I'll be following events closely.

Monday, May 17, 2004
Sushma to lead the life of sanyasin - Sify.com

Oh Good God!! This woman has really gone bonkers... either that, or she wants to go the Uma Bharthi way - nationally.

>We really need to see mutual funds play a more active role in India.

I agree with Rachit. India's savings rate is pretty low for an Asian country, much lower than China's. That means domestic investment is consequently low. China has a high rate of reinvestment, plus it attracts more FDI.

Sonia's first hurdle - wish list of leftist allies - MAY 18, 2004
No economics lectures, Cong to tell allies

To me, it looks like the first few days - may be even the week starting the day the cabinet is sworn in - could be crucial. If Sonia appoints Singh as the FM (or even DPM), markets would recover smartly. If she imposes Pranab Mukherjee on us, it could be a re-run of the bears.

Black Monday wipes off Rs 1,22,000 crore; Sensex sheds 565 points - Newindpress.com
Now, farmers can stop committing suicide (may be)... stock brokers will take their place.

RE:Bloodshed at the Market

Sure..the declaration of portfolios will help esp if Manmohan Singh/P Chidambaram is the FM. However, with the left parties having a strong presence, I am not sure how he will be able to pursue his agenda. The left declared that the presence of FIIs was responsible for the volatility of the markets. The hidden meaning here is that they don't want FIIs as well. Hope our Italian PM (who will have to rely on Manmohan Singh) does not do everything to satisfy the left to retain power. So, we are in for dark times as far as the economy goes, unless we have a FM who will not be the traditional congress psychophant.

The markets will watch nervously as events unfold in the first few months of this administration. Such a severe reaction by the markets is unprecedented.

This also signals a weakness in the Indian capital market structure itself. I am yet to get into the details but its the basic problem of a small % of FIIs controlling a large % of the market. Such mobile capital is not one that you want to attract. We really need to see mutual funds play a more active role in India. There is currently a lot of debate taking place, but I have yet to form an opinion about the structural issues plaguing the Indian capital market.

Why Signora as PM?
by Tavleen Singh. She has always been anti-BJP, but this article speaks for many people like her who may not have like the BJP, but for some reason were never ready for the shock of Sonia becoming PM.

Bloodshed at the Market

Rachit, any analysis on why this happenned, and how well it could possibly recover? Would, say, the declaration of the people appointed to the economic portfolios in cabinet help?

Re: Opposition to Sonia candidature to PMship

1) Top BJP leaders have shown enough grace in defeat. Sonia has not been magnanimous in her surprise victory.

2) The Congress was not clear about Sonia being its PM candidate. they prevaricated several times. So it is far fetched to say that the public voted on a "Vajpayee vs Sonia" basis. That's utter BS.

3) Sonia being PM is being greeted with shock across the board, even by those who voted against the BJP.

4) By nominating herself PM candidate, Sonia has displayed utter contempt for us Indians. For the last few years several Congressmen also voiced reservations. Clearly, Sonia was the consensus candidate in the Cong-I because of the competing power struggles within that party without one single statesmanlike leader emerging. That is what allowed this Italian bahu to dream of becoming PM of the world's largest democracy. It is reminiscent of how the Brit colonialists were first used by competing Rajas and Nawabs, and finally took it away.

Sonia and her clearly identifiable clique are a national security threat, and that's a fact. pre- or post-election, something has to be done to make sure trouble is avoided.

Opposition to Sonia candidature to PMship

This is really annoying now. Look, I can understand that they had qualms before the elections.... but now, she has led the party to victory. I think it is only political decency to let her lead the government. This is especially so, since the BJP touted the election as a Vajpayee vs Sonia battle. Going by that logic, the people clearly chose Sonia over Vajpayee. One might not agree with the wisdom of the choice, but no one can overrule it.

I think it is not right to try denying Sonia the PMship at this stage. The BJP leaders are just making idiots out of themselves. It is anyway not happening. Why not be a bit more graceful in defeat?

Saturday, May 15, 2004
A Sorry State, indeed!

I am no less apoplectic than Matt Frost about this editorial in WaPo.

Frost does not list the problems he had with the plan. Let's see...
1. What if the leader that we foist on Iraq is badly chosen (knowing Bush admn, there is better than good probability that it would be so). What if he waits till the end of the occupation, uses the "fact" that he had beaten back the Americans to rally Arabs around him, and sets abotu challenging the world order? In essence, what if he is a turncoat? By the way, a person who collaborates with a diabolic plan like this, most probably has to be one heck of a cunning guy, right??

2. What if the new leader does NOT call in the UN? What if he calls on his Arab brethren to help out with the reconstruction, or other anti-US forces, promising oil in future?

3. And BTW, did we not already try choosing a leader, promoting him? What is Chalabi doing now, anyway?

4. Hidden in this stupid plan are two mutually contradicting assumptions - that we do not have the troops to fight the Iraqis, and are already in a position to withdraw, even if it means surrendering it to a new despot, and that we are strong enough in Iraq to fight all forces that might challenge us (excepting the chosen One, of course). Hmmmm.... WaPo might need an Ombudsman now.

Hate BJP campaign, fueled by the ideologically bankrupt left, reaches the blogosphere.

Let's fisk the claims of Ms.Dutta in this:
1. There is a presumption of guilt in stating that any correction of the history, written solely by leftist historians such as Romila Thapar, is a distortion. History is, and will always be, what a country wants to look at itself as. The intellectuals who wrote our textbooks were deemed "authorities" with no process that sought to take people with differing opinions on board. Now that the same process is repeated by the opposite camp, Lefties are crying foul. What goes around, come around.

2. About banning Lane's book.... Ummm... would some one please remind me why the incoming Prime Minister, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, supported the ban on Salman Rushdie's "The Moor's Last Sigh"? Or, as early as 1962, why Stanley Wolpert's "Nine hours to Rama" and Mark Robson's “Paton Place Fame” were banned? Oh, let's not forget the case of the "City of Joy," which Communists thought deserved to be stopped violently, since the images starving masses of poor people wallowing in filth was an "insult" to Calcutta. It is this very crowd that demanded a ban on Wolpert's Nehru, because it alluded to homosexual encounters that Nehru allegedly had during his days in England (I have read the book, and it does not have anything that forthright says so). This is kettle calling the pot oppressor!

3. The ultimate case of a sophism: "is that in Gujarat, where CM Narendra Modi who almost personally supervised the pogrom against Muslims is still in power" [emphasis added]. How do you "almost" personally supervise something?

4. Oh, I do not think she is a Congress supporter, alright. There is a big group of "intellectuals" in India who are, in big majority, left wing (there are some right wingers too.... right wingers who could start claiming intellect are usually harder to come by), who know what they oppose - everything that anybody else does. Their self-righteous liberalism is just a thin veneer that covers their cynicism. These are the same folks who, when given power, would do the same things that they now crow about. Want an example? Jawaharlal Nehru (who actually personally sat through a cabinet viewing of Nine Hours to Rama, and then decided to ban it.)

Nothing fills me with contempt as these people.

Friday, May 14, 2004
Fisking Rushdie

India's New Era (washingtonpost.com)
I do not agree with Mr.Rushdie. I repeat the question I asked yesterday:
1. If this is a rivalry between urban "bourgeoisie" and the rural poor, how come NDA lost in the cities?

2. One more problem with this argument: while Bangalore and Hyderabad wooed high-tech IT giants, Madras did not. Astutely, Chennai went for automobile manufaturers. Result is that you have Hyundai, Ford etc setting up factories around Chennai. Now, automobile is not high-tech, but manufacturing sector - which benefits the poor, and not-so-well-educated. Then how is it that Jayalalithaa lost?

WaPo reacts to the polls. Lots of worries folks.

And yeah, what to do! I am back to blogging about us... From Dictionary.com: "intellectualize": To avoid psychological insight into (an emotional problem) by performing an intellectual analysis. So, no point confusing emotions with analysis.

Those Damned Indians!

Kingmakers step in to decide who gets crown

Mr. Pawar - Do you remember why you had left the Congress in the first place? Pawar and lust for power were never two separate things.

New govt does not need us

Shouldn't Madam G or some psychophant COngresswallah be leading these talks instead of having jerks like VP Singh interfere with our nation;s future?

Scrap disinvestment policies

There you go. The country's ill-fortune has just begun. What a terrible thing to read first-up in the morning.

Thursday, May 13, 2004
Vajpayee's high ground, Sonia Gandhi's road ahead

Shekhar Gupta has written one of the best pieces of op-ed I have ever read. A moving tribute to the man who was the PM, a warm welcome to the PM-to-be, and a word of caution, that is couched in wisdom that comes not, but by a long, and constant search for what the heart of India wants.

There is this loud scream in my brain that says that this was a capitulation by the Indian electorate - a condemnable act of mass laziness that seeks to find the easy - and free - way to get the daily lunch, future be damned. But after reading Mr.Gupta, there is one small whisper in my heart that says may be, he is right. In which case, no one - not the Gandhis, not Vajpayee, not Advani, will get away with making anything less than full justice to their positions - which would be the supreme democracy.

I was having a discussion with a professor from the Political Science Dept last week. I had said then that the Indian people have become more demanding... and said that when people start demanding the service, they get it. I hope I got the results wrong because I never knew just how much demanding they had become - not how little.

My party may have lost, but India has won: Vajpayee in his national address
A man so dignified, a visionary statesman, and a grand orator we will not come across for a long while. My salute to the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Particularly moving part of the speech were these:

Friends, ours is a multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-ethnic nation. However, in spite of her immense diversities, our national culture has woven an unbreakable thread of unity since antiquity. We tried to replicate this ethos of unity in diversity in running our coalition government. We strengthened Indian democracy by demonstrating that coalition governance can be stable, and also successfully deal with the challenges before the nation.

Today, I especially thank the people of Jammu and Kashmir for once again reposing their faith in democracy and for giving a firm rebuff to the forces of militancy. India has shown its resolve and capability to overcome the challenge of cross-border terrorism. India has also embarked on a historic peace process with our neighbour. It will remain my lifelong wish to see that we herald a new chapter of peace, cooperation and friendship in South Asia, with the People's Republic of China and with other nations in the world.

Security, Defence and Foreign Policy: The Congress Agenda

Okay, there is positively going to be problems between India

"Till this day, the country has never been taken into confidence about the outcome of several rounds of discussion between Jaswant Singh and Strobe Talbott. Sadly, a great country like India has been reduced to having a subordinate relationship with the USA where the USA takes India for granted" the document says.

Chidanand Rajghatta thinks that while this might suggest some near-term hardening of position towards Washington, the reading in the US diplomatic community is that the Congress foreign policy is now driven by younger elements – like Salman Khursheed and Jairam Ramesh – and professional diplomats, like former foreign secretary J N Dixit, who are more pragmatic than the old leftist-socialist folk.

The problem is that the leftist-socialist folks are still going to pull the strings, unless Sonia acts really decisive - where the problem is. Sonia has never exhibited such a will. She has always tried playing backroom manouevres even against opponents who are very much friable (quite a long list could be quoted here - headed by Sitaram Kesri to Karunakaran). Which is why I am scared.

Consolation in Chunaav 2004

* Almost all Trishul-pushers like Narandra Modi and Murali Manohar Joshi took a beating - the latter was defeated in Allahabad. The big exceptions are Shiv Sena and Adityanath (who won from Gorakhpur, UP). That's bound to reduce the impact of the pressure to move farther right inside the BJP. The re-election of Vajpayee as leader of both BJP and NDA shows he is not going to give in in that battle now.

* BJP alliance opened its account in Kerala - P.C.Thomas won in Muvattupuzha. Ironically, he won not with Hindu votes (as most would assume), but with Christian votes. That is a good sign.

Something very urgent needs to be done. This is a perilous situation.


The Congress-led Government that is now almost certain to holds the reins of India's destiny, will be hopelessly hamstrung by the Jurassic Park ideology of an emboldened Left that has secured more seats in Parliament than ever before. The anti-NDA grouping that will now adorn the corridors of the South and North Block would be tempted to jettison many of the progressive measures of the outgoing Government and submit to the fatal embrace of populism in the mistaken belief that Mr Vajpayee has been voted out because India is whining, not shining.

Much will be said in the coming days about the "maturity" of the Indian voter, his irreverence and his uncanny ability to teach his rulers a lesson. But analysed dispassionately, not much evidence of his proverbial maturity would be detected from this verdict. It is clear that voters react collectively only when there is an emotive issue before them, be it "Garibi Hatao" or Ram Mandir or Kargil. At other times, they divide into disparate blocks with local concerns overtaking the national. Nothing else, for example, explains the NDA's rout in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh where electors, unhappy with Ms Jayalalithaa's high-handed actions, and disenchanted with the gap between Mr N Chandrababu Naidu's promises and performance, voted as if they were totally ignorant of national issues.

One more thing to note in the results: It is not a simple rural-urban divide that is the reason for the defeat. NDA got thrashed particularly hard in Urban areas.

And yes, I will stop blogging about India today.

The New York Times > International > In Surprise Upset, Opposition Party Wins India Election: "Her two children, Rahul and Priyanka, are up-and-coming politicians and state-run television reported that Rahul won his race to enter parliament for the first time."
We are shameless. Absolutely.

That is how I feel. Some are angry that an Italian is becoming the PM. Personally, I think that is the wrong reason to feel bad about. What really irks me is that they elected a government knowing nothing about what they intend to do. There was, and is, a complete absence of ideas in the Congress ranks. Who knows what their policy on Kashmir is? On liberalization is? On deficits is? The only "ideology" Congress parrotted was the cynical Secularism mantra. And yet, they won - on sheer populism. We proved once more that we are not a nation that is ready to march ahead. We like to gripe, and complain about every person who does things that are necessary, sincerely.

Of all insults, the worst was the massive strength of the Communists in the new Lok Sabha.

We have harked back to the days of our Royalty. The Restoration is on.

Giving up

Every single leader who tried anything called reform - be they A.K.Anthony, Jayalalithaa, Yashwant Sinha... they have all lost. All that works in India is doling out. If the deficit swells, who cares? If the government has to pledge gold, who cares?

I am giving up. I am not going to bother about a bunch of people who do not know how to care for themselves. This will be the last day I will blog about that country.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Real bad news from India.... BJP getting thrashed all over the map. The only happy result - in Gujarat, Modi is getting hit. Well and good for Desh.

Nick Berg's murder - the anti-semetic angle

Turns out, Nick Berg was a practicing Jew. No doubt it added to the danger he was in. Reminds me of another similar video-taped killing of a Jew... Danny Pearl.

Re: YSr interview.

Rachit, yes it was a somewhat reassuring interview. Let's see how his govt handles power.

Ramki - keep this in mind as events unfold in the next day or two !!
Re: Rachit's Predictions

Rachit predicts that the NDA would win around 260 seats, and a Congress-led alliance would come to power, though Sonia Gandhi would not be the Prime Minister. The top job would go to Mulayam Singh Yadav.

He also predicts that BJP would lose in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, UP, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh too.

Well, all I can say is that he reads Frontline too much these days. ;-) Note that, by implication, the BJP is set to sweep, according to Rachit, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Sikkim (that has to be so, to account for 260 seats!)

Big hole in the guesstimates

In our guesstimates, Rachit and I had predicted 12 seats for TDP-BJP alliance in AP, with 30 going to Congress-TRS alliance. Judging by the magnitude of the defeat of the former, I would be surprised if they get even 4. That is going to blow a big hole in NDA account.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Re:My sincere condolences to the family

And so are mine.

Ramki - this is one of those things that is extremely difficult to forget. I can imagine what the family must be going through. I am consciously trying to get it out of my head because it is truly sickening.

It's one of the most gruesome acts I have seen. No circumstance justifies retaliation such as this.

CNN.com - Berg's family 'devastated' by videotaped execution - May 11, 2004
My sincere condolences to the family.

It is terrible to think that they have to live with the memory of this tape, showing Nick Berg screaming in fear and horror, and in one last pitiful plea to be spared even as he was being cruelly beheaded, the deafening silence that follows, and the severed head being shown around like a medallion awarded for the horror of the butchery,,,

I am not sure if I could ever get it out of my system. Again, my heart goes out to all who knew, and loved, Nick Berg.

YSR interview

Reading this makes me more comfortable about Andhra. YSR seems like a man who knows what he is doing. Good for AP.

Re: American captive beheaded

I watched the actual video. There is only one conclusion that I could come to. The people doing this want war. They do not want negotiations - only a brutal reprisal from the Americans. They seek it, because they know that it will only be the beginning.

Note this well, NOW. We are at war - whether we like it or not. I have no idea how we will win it - and when I say we, I mean all humanity, not just Americans. I do not care if UBL is killed, I do not care if America has to apologize for Iraq war. I just want this war to end. It can end in only one way.

Some conservative commentators believe only Bush could lead this effort - like him or not. But no, I do not believe so - I believe the opposite. I think President Bush will only be too willing to give them what they need. I am afraid he has played into their hands. It is not hard for me to imagine UBL releasing a tape nearer November, endorsing Dubya.

CNN.com - Web site says American captive beheaded - May 11, 2004

Piquant relationships between players in Tamil Nadu that might play out in Delhi now... here are the complications. Try to follow, okay?

AIADMK is in power, and is allied with BJP.

DMK, the main opposition party is allied with Congress. They are hoping to be back in power in 2006. But, with their leader Karunanidhi reaching his 80s, questions on what happens after him have been raised. The designated successor is his son, MK Stalin. However, it is doubtful if this one can fill the shoes of his larger-than-life father.

MDMK, led by Vaiko, is hoping that with Karunanidhi's passing, DMK will totter, and it will be able to take the place of its parent party, the DMK. Vaiko is arguably more popular than Stalin is. The problem is that Karunanidhi is as wily a politician as they come. He is determined to thwart Vaiko's plans.

Now, MDMK is in a piquant position - it cannot ally with NDA, because AIADMK will shadow it out. Will they sit it out?

PMK has one enemy in the state - Actor Rajnikant. Rajni came out in support of BJP before the polls, and might be irked if they join hands with PMK again. BJP wants to retain the popular actor's support. It was a miracle that he decided to openly support BJP (though he did not campaign for them), inspite of its alliance with AIADMK, whose leader Jayalalithaa is no friend of Rajni.

If the DMK becomes a powerful constituent of the ruling alliance at Delhi, then they will secretly push for the dismissal of Jayalalithaa government. That way, Karunanidhi can lead DMK to one last victory, and possibly pass the mantle safely to his son.

Go figure.

I am too small for PM's post: Rahul
Bloody hell! The crown prince says he is not ready for coronation yet. We are a shameless nation.

Naidu's defeat puts Surjeet in action

Okay, now my alarm bells are ringin'..... when HKS Surjeet goes to work, you know India is in trouble (or, he is working to get us into one). The happiest moments in our recent past have been exactly those when this man was left sulking, having been rendered roleless.


And India will pay a bigger price !

Will NDA prop up Mulayam?
Did it occur to anyone that some one from "Others" list - say, Mulayam Singh, might be propped up by NDA, if it manages to stay together? If NDA polls, say, 240 seats (I think things would have to take a really bad turn for this to happen), they might actually take the battle to the opposition court. Just a thought.

Andhra Pradesh lost
It's back to dole-out days in AP. First might be the promise of free electricity. Hmmm...

Monday, May 10, 2004
MCP figure

During the 1998 elections, Jairam Ramesh, one of the few folks in Congress with intellect, was famously trashed by that party after he said that his party would have lost the MCP (moral, constitutional, and political) legitimacy to form a government if it scores below 200 seats - on live TV. The Congress did, and the rest is history.

Now, what would the MCP figure for NDA be? Ummm... let me see - I am going to assume that in post-poll arrangements, the Assom Gana Parishad (AGP), the NCP and the Telangana Rajya Samithi (TRS) would be fair game for the BJP. Put together, I would expect these parties to muster close to 20 seats. Beyond that would be the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its dreaded Mayawati, which might get around 15 seats, from UP and MP.

That being the case, I would peg the threshold to be 245-250. If the NDA fails to make it to that mark, it should stand down and let the opposition circus play itself out. Sonia is no Wile E. Coyote that PVN Rao was. Congress would also have to pay a heavy price for the cooperation of the rest of the opposition - first casualties would be the party units in WB, Kerala, and UP. Maharashtra and Telangana would also be on the block. Could Sonia afford that?

In a sense, an NDA govt now could entrench the Congress as the alternative. If the Congress holds on to its second largest party status (which I am very sure it will), Commies will all but give up hope of a non-NDA govt in Delhi, unless there is a pre-poll alliance under the leadership of the Congress. Now, that would change the dynamics quite a bit.

Sunday, May 09, 2004
dude one last time: I was NOT suggesting that gay rights be violated because they're a small minority. Do I look stupid?? I was in favour of gay "civil union" (which preserves their legal rights) w/o diluting the traditional value-based concept of marriage that the majority would like to preserve. You should know well enough that Law is subordinate to values, and so there is no legal or constitutional argument here.

>On migration, Carl, you say that migration needs to be regulated effectively - any ideas on what an effective regulation might be?

Rachit, regulated in two ways:
1) Holistic policy, involving all those areas covered in our posts.

2) Specifically regulated by providing good information to rural folk-- many rural people have exaggerated expectations of opportunities in the city. Some are naive, some are conned into a vicious cycle of urban poverty. Govt representatives at village levels need to discuss this as a specific issue with village folk, and then they can throw up ideas for co-operative development in rural areas itself; among rural settlements itself.

On the other hand, urban areas must tighten squatter laws, etc which dissuade rural immigrants without a clue about what they're coming into cities to do. In China they have a permit system that requires proof of employment in the urban area. I'm not usggesting that we replicate this model, but its gives you an idea. In the interest of the rural folk, their illusions about urban opportunity must be dispelled. Then they will be forced to work co-operatively for self-employment in rural areas or smaller towns. Self-employment is already a keystone message of govt programs in rural areas, and that includes Naidu's programs too. But Naidu's overdone hype about Hyderabad, etc goes against this information asymmetry problem that causes this excess supply of labour.

One very good example of an idea that helps promote economic links b/w Hyderabad and rural areas is the Ra'yat Bazaar idea of Naidu's govt, in which the state provided transport for rural peasants to bring their agricultural produce into well-laid out bazaars at different points in Hyderabad. The exploitative middleman was eliminated, the farmers got a bigger slice of the sales, and the urban customer got ridiculously lower prices for his gorceries.

Chennai's IAS topper didn't study in a college - Newindpress.com
If you want some inspiration...

Re: Expect this from President Kalam..nice gesture :)

Ummm... Rachit, is the link missing here?

Expect this from President Kalam..nice gesture :)

Backseat guests

At President Abdul Kalam’s request, a special show of director Amir Raza’s play Legends of Ram was staged. The organisers reserved the first four rows exclusively for Rashtrapati Bhavan employees and their families. Other dignitaries who had been invited for the performance, as for instance, Justice A S Anand, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, had to sit in the back rows behind fidgety children and hassled mothers

World of Hurt

I am not a big fan of Dowd, but this one's okay. ANy idea why her email id is liberties@nytimes.com??

Saturday, May 08, 2004
Murali - new world record

Here's to the greatest off-spinner of all time - Muttiah Muralitharan.

Should Rumsfeld go?

I think he should.. your views?

Friday, May 07, 2004
Re: Re: Unemployment, migration, and 'sons of the soil'

Carl and Ramki

To me employment and economic development are not mutually exclusive. That X and Y get displaced because of 'development' is always highlighted. But A, B and C got jobs in the bargain is often ignored. Lets take Naidu for example. He has focused on 'modernising' his state and creating the requisite infrastructure that eventually will attract companies and create jobs. In the bargain, he also sets up schools and technical training institutes to train his workforce to benefit from the development. Gains from such initiatives have various negative effects, at least in the short run. We must take it with a pinch of salt.

I have personally witnessed Naidu giving one of his famed presentations. And he actually came there asking companies to give money to AP to fund various developmental projects.

Migration occurs when he does all of this Hyderabad. So you have every youngster in AP aspiring to come to Hyd, which leads to lop-sided development.

I view it as a necessary trade-off. In fact, I'll go to the extent of saying that everything in life is about trade-offs. Are Naidu's priorities misplaced? Should he have focused on something else? What is the cost of the trade-offs he made - economic, social, political? Further, is 6 years in Government enough to engineer all the changes one wants to see? Its very easy to beat down the reformer saying your reforms are of good intent, but you're spending money in the wrong areas. So the core issue here is where does the government rupee go? where should it go?

I agree with Carl about infrastructure projects being taken up post-elections. But remember, that most of the employent for infra projects is temporary, unless labor is geographically mobile. If thats the case, then migration is bound to occur. About the tax structure, I believe we have a tax code thats filled with loopholes. But the bigger problem is that a large part of the business community does not pay taxes. In India, tax planning and tax evasion are akin. The issue with taxes therefore is of enforcement.

On migration, Carl, you say that migration needs to be regulated effectively - any ideas on what an effective regulation might be?

Mickey Kaus has a point here:

Dem Panic Watch 4: The estimable Ryan Lizza on the Kerry staff backbiting and recrimination. The knives are out for Cutter! And Shrum. And Cahill. Blame everyone except ... P.S.: Veteran Kerry skeptic Jon Keller offers some perspective on the person they're trying to avoid fingering:

On one point, the professionals who know John Kerry best are in agreement: His political career is like the movie Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray's character keeps reliving the same day over and over again. "He always starts as a favorite, falters, has a near-death experience, then puts on the blinders, focuses, and comes out swinging," explains a veteran of past Kerry campaigns. "The difference is, few people thought it could be done in a presidential primary." This phenomenon, spun by Kerry apologists as a sign of when-the-going-gets-tough-the-tough-get-going machismo, is also subject to a less-flattering interpretation. "He's a guy who doesn't really start to pay attention until he thinks he may be in danger of dying," says [Dem consultant Dan] Payne, who identifies classic early Kerry campaign symptoms: "Delays, inattention to details, sloppy staff work, not having a tight message. He'll allow this to just go on and on until someone hands him a poll and says, 'You'd better get it together.'" [Emph. added]

Male models walk in frocks to get the big break - Newindpress.com
Metrosexuality hits India - albeit, in an overdose.

Linda Chavez: Sexual tension in the military
Ah ha! The "women are responsible for sexual perversion" argument, yet again. The Talibans never stop this (this time, it's the American Taliban).

Thursday, May 06, 2004
Newindpress.com - Election 2004: "Wife gets divorce for voting 'lantern'"

Maybe... people are taking the elections too seriously!!

And the Pandora's Box keeps flipping its lid :-)

I know this is a very, very sticky issue out here.... but I am going to go ahead anyway. The whole idea of having this blog is to flush out ideas, and having people of different hues write here is to have different ideas expressed. There might even be bitterness... but then, that would still be reflective of the nature of the debate.

This exchange between conservative commentators Jonah Goldberg and Andrew Sullivan captures the very skirmish that takes place out here (mostly between Carl and I).


Andrew expresses here very well the same idea I have been repeating time and again - just because you do not (or think you do not) have a neighbor, or a son or a friend, who is not affected by the issue at hand, if you ignore it, or are even indifferent to it, you are putting yourself in a a bad place. It's only a matter of time before you fall in that same situation.

This is exactly what keep coming out (!!) when we argue out here.

Carl says he doesn't think it's big deal that a minute number of people are being denied some rights that are not vital to leading their lives anyway (it's not like they are being sent to concentration camps!), and besides, the decision is only an expression of the popular will.

I keep saying that if popular will is given such a pre-eminent position that it is allowed to override the individual choices one could take as a part of their private lives, it would end up denying everyday rights for all of us - individually. Thus, Carl would not be able to decide who his roomie could be, without convincing all his neighbors (who do not have any damn thing in their lives affected by his decision anyway) that he is not upto bringing fire and brimstones on Columbus from up Above. Individual rights need to be overrule popular will up until it affects the safety of others.... that is the only way every one would be safe. Remember, all of us are a minority one way or the other.

Re: Unemployment, migration, and 'sons of the soil'

Very important topic Ramki. Adding ethnic chauvinism to a nation-wide unemployment problem is a bad idea. They can enforce language if they like, but race or ancestry cannot be a criteria.

Migration is the only way, and must be regulated effectively. The economic development mandarins have to publicize a plan to spread economic activity in the countryside. There is already a plan that has been talked about from time to time. The PMGSY is part of that plan. Mr.Gupta (in Ramki's article) should have spoken of that instead of only painting fearsome portraits of the future.

After this election it is likely that some huge infrastructure projects will be taken up, providing a lot of employment. Let's wait and see.

Lastly, the govt has to work on that social security net by improving the tax structure, etc. In the competitive subsidy game, we can't have a race to the bottom.

Low-Tech or High, Jobs Are Scarce in India's Boom: "Over time, the social consequences of jobless growth may become more severe, whether in mass migration, or in riots like those that broke out last fall."

Another one of mass migration issues.... hey, may be we could do a good discussion on this.

Rise above the 'sons of soil'

Interesting perspective. My dilemma is that, with so many people entering Maharashtra ins earch of better prospects, it causes an immense drain on the resources, especially if the immigrants are concentrated in a few big cities like Mumbai and Pune. Look at Mumbai for example. The number of people coming in are way too many for the city to handle. Thus, it leads to the creation of more slum areas, drain on limited resources, and greater crime rates. My suspicion is that Maharashtra is a net recipient of human resources i.e. more people enter M'rashtra than leave it. I am not sure of the net increase in 'productivity' and 'value add' because of the rise in the number of immigrants.

I don't agree with the sons of the soil argument, but at the same time, something needs to be done to prevent the issue I raised above. Problem is, I dont know what.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004
A real democracy...

Rajpath Singh, 82, is carried on a cot by relatives as he arrives to cast his vote at a polling station at Narendri village, 18 kilometers north of Lucknow.

Never have I been prouder of the Indian democracy....

Here it starts....

An ominous start? You only see Vajpayee greeting Amma... Is Amma reciprocating at all?

Guesstimates - a recap

Remember the predictions Rachit and I made in a previous posting? Well, it turns out, all the pollsters are predicting a result closer to mine - they were agreeing with Rachit earlier :-).

The shift comes mainly due to two things I got right initially - in UP, Mulayam has suffered, giving BJP and edge, and in Rajasthan, BJP is sweeping.

Hmm.... lemme not gloat too much. Indians are known to leave armchair pollster with a lot of eggs in their face. But am sure hoping I will get my treat!! :-)

Re: Narmada, and AID

Ramki, thanks for the feedback.
Could you please post reliable sources to present the other side of the picture?

Specifically, can you explain how development for some here is being brought about at the "cost" of others? Development entails adjustment on the part of some...for which they should theoretically be compensated. Is this not happening here?

What factors made you decide this was a bad idea? Was it the idea itself, or lax implementation in some specific instances?

Thirsty Sivaganga

Interesting dilemma for Chidambaram.. also throws up a debate on globalization.. any thoughts?

Narmada, and AID

There is a very common belief that AID is opposed to the Sardar Sarovar Project. There are two mistakes in that idea.

1. AID does not have an official stand on the usefulness of the dam. We do, however, officially oppose the lackadaisical nature of the rehabilitation efforts, criticize the hardships that the affected people have been put through. There are documentations to corroborate these. There are big gaps in the practical implementation of the rehab measures. We do not believe that it is allowable to sacrifice the livelihood of some people, so others may live better. That is exploitation of the weak - not development. But yes, a big majority of AIDers do hold the individual view that the project is a wrong-headed idea.

2. No AIDer claims that no one will benefit from the dam. Sure, there will be villages that will become green. But, what at what cost? How many already green villages have we sunk in this? Now, if u ask the beneficiary alone, obviously, u would get only positive feedback. That is what this article that Carl posted does. To form a fair and informed opinion, one needs to see both sides. After doing so, I have, over the years, come to believe that the government is wrong in this issue.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Andrew gets the point I just made in mylast posting.

'I was tortured for days by American soldiers' - Newindpress.com
It is unbelievably bad, the way these guys have been treated. If true, it would be very, very grave. Remember that these were not Iraqis, and the American soldiers should have known this. In which case, their ill treatment was borne out of pure racial and religious hatred.

The real importance of these allegations is being missed by American media in their worry about the possibility of an increase in anti-American violence in Iraq, and the rest of the Islamic world. Remember, this is pruported to the the ultimate idealists' war. The underlying theme of this war is that democracies produce better citizenry, and introducing democracy in the Arab world is the best way to pacify the region. However, any claims to moral superiority of American citizens, and generally, products of democracies would be instantly denuded and exposed as mere fallacy if it is proved that these grave and shameful violations are systemic, and not just a case of bad apples. Iraq would then become a mirror held up to America when she goes preaching the values of freedom. That would be a very bad defeat, indeed.

Exit Polls

I know its not the most timely blog posting.. but I think Exit polls should not be allowed till all the election phases are over.

Re: Veep candidate?

Or gal..

Veep candidate?

I just received an email from John Kerry (okay, his campaign). I am quoting from that:

"more than 1,000 parties will take place in all 50 states on May 22nd. The thousands of people who attend these parties will get to take part in a conference call with John Kerry and a surprise special guest."

Me thinks Kerry would announce his running mate that day, and that guy will be the surprise spl guest. Let's see.

Controversial dam defies criticism to green villages

AID members please comment.

Monday, May 03, 2004
Still short of 272, NDA shows surge ahead in third phase - Newindpress.com
Ha! I told you so!!

And now an article in The People's Daily in the wake of the Japanese Ambassador's statements in India...

China-Japan-India axis strategy: an all-round economic& political cooperation

3 Chinese engineers killed in car bomb in Pakistan

Updated: 2004-05-03 14:43

A car bomb in southwest Pakistan Monday has killed three Chinese engineers helping to build a multi-million dollar seaport and injured 11 others, police and hospital officials say.

An apparent car bomb in southwest Pakistan has killed three Chinese engineers helping to build a multi-million dollar seaport and injured 11 others, police and hospital officials say. Here Pakistani policemen [AFP/File] The blast, described by police as a "terrorist act," is the first attack against foreigners in Pakistan since a spate of bloody strikes in 2002 by Islamic militants furious at the United States-led attacks on Afghanistan's Taliban regime and Pakistan's support of the campaign.

Monday's blast occurred at around 9:00 am (0400 GMT) as 12 Chinese engineers were being transported by passenger van to the port in Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea coast near the Iranian border some 480 kilometers (300 miles) west of Karachi.

A car parked on the side of the road blew up as the van passed.

"A parked Suzuki Alto blew up when the van carrying Chinese officials to their work passed by," a senior police officer told AFP, asking not to be identified.

A bomb may have been detonated by remote control, the police officer said.

"Three Chinese are dead while six others are seriously injured," the head of the Gwadar Civil Hospital, Masood Ahmed, told AFP by telephone.

Two Pakistanis, a driver and a security guard, were among the injured, Ahmed said. Six of the nine injured Chinese were in a serious condition, he added.

China, Pakistan's oldest and closest ally, is financing some 80 percent of the 248 million dollar port project.

The China Engineering Harbour company, overseeing the port's development, has some 450 engineers and technicians working in Gwadar.

The port, due to be completed next year, is one of Pakistan's largest and most important foreign investment projects as it struggles to convince overseas investors that it is safe.

Pakistan, Afghanistan's eastern neighbour and a frontline US ally in the war on terrorism, was blighted by a chain of bloody attacks on Christian and Western targets in 2002.

Suicide car-bombers struck twice in Karachi, a hotbed of Islamic militancy, killing 11 French naval technicians in May of that year and 14 Pakistanis outside the US consulate a month later.

The Frenchmen had been helping Pakistan's navy develop an advanced submarine, the Agosta B-90, at the city's naval dockyards.

Like the Chinese engineers, they were on board a bus which took them regularly to work, at the same time and along the same route each day, when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into their bus.

The attack in Gwadar comes two days after five Westerners working for a Swiss-Swedish oil and engineering company were shot dead by Islamic militants in the Saudi port of Yanbu.

God is from South Park

There are books, and there are books that give me red-eye. I picked up one yesterday that most definitely belongs to the second sort. God, the Ultimate Autobiography is one heck of a funny book. The style is engaging (well, it ought to be, considering the author!), and has a distinctly South Park feel to its comedy. Well worth reading - and it won't take long to finish it!

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Assam is going to be a very interesting result. We have here, Congress fighting a regional party (the AGP), with BJP trying to upstage the regional party. A similar (though not identical) scenario used to exist in Karnataka (JD-S is pretty much a regional outfit). Except, native nationalistic movement in Assam is much stronger than in Karnataka, where traditionally, national parties (earlier, the Janata Party) have prospered.

Updated Prediction

After all this hullabaloo about the Third Front, I think, Congress might emerge a bit better than expected in UP. More Muslims might gravitate towards the party.

But the biggest benefit, nationally, will go to the NDA. The prospect of instability might strike a chord with voters - especially the urban lot.

BJP shot itself in the foot

Ramki - Here's to your point about BJP not allying with INLD ! Good call.

Saturday, May 01, 2004
The Greater (and fouler) Tamasha Begins
As long as Congress cannot get this sort of one-upmanship in control, they will only hurt themselves each time they get a chance to form a government.

'If you do not give the money, then I will lock up your daughter' - Newindpress.com
We need to give the Vigilance commission more teeth. That should be the starting point of a wider governmental reform. We need less rules (which would translate to less scope for discretion on the part of the officials), more enforcement, and a cleaner top.

Indian student arrested for using Internet to entice 15 year old
What in the world was he thinking?! I know (not personally, though) a couple of idiots who spend a good amount of their time in internet chat rooms, trying to "hook up." Hope they read this.

Meanwhile, Modi kept on his toes

Whatever happened to the 'India Shining' campaign? By reverting to Modi, the BJP is sending a clear message.. The India Shining campaign did not work.. and won't hesitate to revert to using religion to secure votes. The BJP will be punished by the electorate for this change in stance.


google ipo

Clearly one of the most eagerly awaited IPOs. Throws interesting insights into the Google world. Personally, I am bearish on Google. I don't think the company has what it takes to compete against Microsoft, Yahoo and maybe AMazon. More on why I think so later.

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