Friday, October 31, 2008

Democratisation of terrorism in India

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Being born and brought up in North East I have witnessed terrorism from a very close quarter in my everyday life. Be it the restriction on the pillion rider on a two wheeler or the ban on tinted glass in the cars people in the region have for ages lived under the fear what the entire country is facing today.
North East and Kashmir are no longer the only 'UNSAFE' places in the country as terrorism is now a pan India phenomenon or in other words democratised.

In the last six months serial blasts have become like a ritual in the country. They have hit all the regions in the country from Delhi in the North to Bangalore in the South. From Ahmedabad and Surat in the West to Agartala and Guwahati in the East. Not a single region of the country is being spared by this mindless people who do not value the cost of human life. Let us accept the truth Internal Security is biggest challenge for the Central and the State Governments today.

The need of the hour is to completely overhaul the security system with strong laws as well as modernised training of the forces. Political leaders from across party lines should unite against this challenge rather than trying to consolidate their vote banks. The need of the hour is strong laws and it should not be seen as a anti this community or that. People say terrorism has no religion so why are religious connotations becoming an obstacle in framing tough anti-terror laws.

After the 9/11 carnage the US Government made amendments to the Homeland Security Act and under it in the US Patriot (Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) Act. This has armed the security as well as the law enforcement agencies with a teeth to tackle terrorism. But unfortunately in India inspite of repeated terrorist acts we are yet to pass a strong law. POTA was there only for a short period of time and was scrapped by the present government at the centre.

Another starling point is that most of the Indian laws allow the security only to react but not to act. This does not allow the security agencies to prevent terrorist activities when they get minute intelligence of upcoming threats. Of course such a law can be misused by the security agencies but considering the current security scenario in the country we need such tough laws. We should prepare and prevent rather than repair and repent.

The security and intelligence agencies should be brought under a central unified command and there should be better coordination between all the security agencies. A centralised Intelligence Agency should be formed to facilitate faster sharing of information. The border forces should be more vigilant especially in the border with Bangladesh and Nepal as they are fast becoming the hub of all anti-India activities.

Lastly the political fraternity of the country should act more responsible during a crisis situation. Our internal security policy should not be party specific but rather be in the interest of the nation. All the policies should be made keeping in mind two words 'India' and 'Indians' rather than focussing on individual communities and groups.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Life in Orissa costlier than in Maharashtra!

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Life of a person in Orissa is costlier than that of someone in Maharashtra. Absurd it may sound but our home minister Shivraj Patil seems to think so. When there was violence in Orissa the Central Government and the home minister were regularly issuing directive to the state government but Patil and others seem to have forgotten the Federal structure of our democracy when it came to Maharashtra as it was being ruled by their own party.

In a shocking press statement the Home Minister stated that the violence in Maharashtra cannot be compared to that of Orissa. Is it because that the life of a migrant is of less value to the inhabitants or is it because the party ruling in the centre cannot pull out the stick against its own party in the state. Or is it because as like in Orissa we are not answerable to any international organizations regarding a law and order problem in our own country.

The Centre does not seem be talking of the President's Rule in Maharashtra where the constitutional machinery has been broken and the state government has proved inefficient in dealing with the crisis. The Chief Minister and his council of ministers have been claiming to controlling the situation but the incidents say a different story. Ignorance to situation is dangerous than inefficiency.

Violence be it in the name of religion or language can never be justified. At the same time the Central government cannot have double standards for different states. Life is invaluable be it of a Christian in Orissa or of a Bihari migrant in Maharashtra and under no circumstance is a death justified. The Centre and the state government should have acted rather than reacted in the case.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress party have been a silent spectator in this issue and are trying to play safe. They do not want to have a anti-Marathi stance as they can still fare better in Maharashtra than in UP or Bihar in the coming elections. At such critical times politicians from across party lines should forget about the vote bank politics and come together to resolve the issue if they don't want Maharashtra to go into a state of anarchy.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is Ishant going the Dhoni way?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Ishant Sharma has had a dream start to his international career. Not only did he create panic in the Aussie camp but he made Ricky Ponting the most
egoistic cricketer on planet his bunny. Lambu as he is fondly called by his teammates has become a rock star in his first season at the international arena much like his skipper MS Dhoni and even started sporting long locks.

Dhoni's hair became so popular that former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had become his fan while Deepika Padukone asked him to have a haircut when they were dating. As with his hair Dhoni even lost sight of Deepika who then hooked up with Yuvraj Singh. It is another story that Deepika dumped Yuvraj during India's tour to Australia.

Cricket fans are asking the question as to when will Ishant visit a barber? Is he waiting some country's President to praise his locks or a Bollywood actress requesting him to get a more masculine look. There was a small spark between Ishant Sharma and Sameera Reddy during the Indian Premier League but it did not catch fire.

Today youngsters do not just look upto Sachin Tendulkar but have found their new heroes in MD Dhonis and Ishant Sharmas. Perhaps the lanky pacer has realised that in modern India its not just the cricketing skills that will be enough for fame but people with rockstar looks will always take away more share of limelight.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kurla Bus Shootout : A Rang De Basanti?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The shoot-out at Kurla where a Bihari youth Rahul Raj was gunned down after he had taken a BEST bus hostage had startling similarities with the movie Rang De Basanti. As like the movie Rahul was gunned down by the police even before he could tell the world the reasons for his violent action. Rahul Raj was a by-product of the divisive politics played in Maharashtra in the last few months. The admiration might hail it as a victory but is a defeat for the society at large.

The shooting has raised many questions. Wasn't it possible to arrest the youth rather than shoot him?. Why was no such action initiated against the MNS workers when they went on a rampage and took the law in its own hand? Why did the government and the state machinery have reluctance to arrest Raj Thackrey after time and again he was instigating communal tension? Does Vilasrao Deshmukh lack the courage to deal with the Raj and his hooligan MNS even if it means thousands of innocent lives?

It is true that the admiration had to take action against a person who had taken law in his own hands but MNS has done the same thing in the last few months. Where was the admiration when thousands of people hailing from North India particularly Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were being targeted in broad daylight. Both the MNS and the government are the reasons that a man with no criminal background took up arms.

The politicians should understand that divisive politics is a track with no end. In future Bihar and UP might become investment centres, will than Raj Thackrey issue advisory for all the Marathis to not go there for a better life. As far as the Deshmukh government is concerned only time will say if more shootouts are ordered when some goons being led by a mindless and selfish politician are targeting the poor people.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Gilly questions Sachin's integrity

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Former Australian wicket-keeper Adam
Gilchrist has stunned the cricketing world when he questioned Sachin Tendulkar's integrity and called him a 'bad sport'. Gilchrist was referring to Sachin's stand during the 'monkey gate' controversy involving Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds during the infamous Sydney Test during India's tour to Australia. Gilly alleges that Sachin changed his statement in the two hearings to save his team-mate Harbhajan who the Australians thought was guilty of racial abuse.

He also went on to add that Sachin was never present during the dressing room handshakes after India had suffered defeats. Gilly added that the Australian team played aggressive cricket on the field but don't take it off the ground but accused the Indian team of doing so. He said when Australia won the test match none of the Indians came out to shake hands and congratulate them and it was Sachin who was nowhere to be found.

This statements have shocked the cricketing world as Adam Gilchrist has been a highly respected cricketer for playing the game in the right spirit unlike most of his teammates. He famously walked out after edging the ball in 2003 World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka not waiting for the umpires signal. But his questioning the integrity of the Master Blaster on his integrity is surely not in the right spirit.

Can Gilchrist claim that there was fair play from the Aussie side during that test. He needs to clearly distinguish between aggression and cheating. What happened during that test was there for the entire world to see. He may not have gone through the headlines of newspapers in Australia which even slammed them as 'bunch of wild dogs'. After what happened in the ground did he expect a cheerful Indian team to take them for tea?

The entire incident at Sydney was an unfortunate one and perhaps no one other than Harbhajan Singh knows what he said. It is true that the muscle power of BCCI made sure that Harbhajan escaped easily. But isn't it also true his former team-mates Shane Warne and Mark Waugh were let off despite admitting to have shared dressing room information with a bookie when cricketers around the world were being served life bans.

Modern cricket is no longer a 'Gentleman's Game' and perhaps no country can credit itself of taking away this tag from the game like the way Aussies can. They were the people who started sledging at a professional level. The term 'mental disintegration' was coined in Australia. Gilly should have seen more things within the Aussie cricketing system rather than venturing out in the wild open. He played for a champion side but not for a side which was respected highly like West Indies of 80s.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ratan Tata’s open letter

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Ratan Tata's open letter to the youth of West Bengal to choose between modern infrastructure and lawlessness. The letter showed how much Mr Tata a man of very few words was hurt in being forced to move out of West Bengal.
The Tatas did not say goodbye to the sate happily after having invested close to Rs1500 crores in what would have been a engineering marvel to roll out of a state infamous for bringing industries to a standstill.

Expectedly the letter met with severe criticism from the Mamata Banerjee and her party members. After chasing the Tatas away she has kept a low profile in Bengal and demanded a judicial enquiry into the Batla House encounter in Delhi. What a leader who crushes the dreams of thousands of youth in her own state under her meaningless ego and political beliefs and then rubbishes the sacrifice of a police officer who laid down his life for the sake of the nation.

Mamata Banerjee might have forgotten a that the Constitution of Indian bestows every Indian citizen with 'Freedom of Speech'. She challenged Ratan Tata to come and contest elections. No doubt she proved her insane self in throwing up this challenge to Mr Tata. He is an industrialist who brings in development to the nation and not a mindless politician like many in Trinamool Congress are. Ratan Tata can contest elections if he wants but can our Mamata set up industries and create jobs? She can halt them for sure.

Tatas have always done their business ethically and have been instrumental in development of the places where they have operated from. Personally I happened to witness the difference between the Tatas and the others in the tea gardens of Assam. As a part of our Mass Communication course we had to make a documentary and we chose the tea gardens of Assam. Most of the gardens we visited lacked the basic necessities like proper sanitation, drinking water, roads but to our sheer surprise the gardens maintained by the Tatas were a startling contrast to the other gardens having elementary schools, good roads and medical facilities.

One of my close friends has the habit of chatting with people across the world. On conversation with a Brazalian boy he was asked what did he know about Brazil, my friend replied football, samba dance and pretty girls. When my friend asked him what did he know about India he replied Taj Mahal and Tata. Such is the aura of the organization whom some super intelligent fellows chased out of West Bengal.

Tatas are gone and we have grieved enough and now its time to think ahead. Perhaps in his exit Ratan Tata has given some clues as to what the people of the state especially the youth have to do in the near future. As for the mindless politicians in the state I hope the next parliamentary elections puts them where actually the belong to. Thanks Mr. Tata even in your exit you showed us a way.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Raj Thackeray: The great saviour of Marathi culture?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Finally Maharashtra Government took the step which many thought it would not dare to take and arrested MNS chief Raj Thackeray after his party workers vandalised Mumbai again. It took less than 24 hours for the state machinery to accept his open challenge and put him behind bars. The government's initial reluctance to arrest Raj was a result of its fear that it would create a political martyr out of him just ahead of the Parliament and Assembly elections.

The reason that leaders like Raj Thackeray can do such things and still get away with it is because the people idolise them to be 'Great Saviours of Culture'. Its true that when two cultures come close there is a lot of exchange between them. Does this have to be wrong Mr Raj? No Sir, protection of a culture and language lies at the grass root level with the families themselves. Protecting cultural values is the job of a society and not of political parties.

Many people might be surprised to know that most of the MNS leaders including their boss send their children to convent schools and not to the Marathi medium schools. Being a liberal myself I don't seen any wrong in that but when such individuals turn hypocrites in the name of culture it certainly raises many questions. Has he ever thought what if Marathis across the country are meted out the same treatment as the so called outsiders are having to suffer at the hands of his political goons.

Mumbai or Bombay as many would call it being the financial capital belongs to all Indian citizens as mush as it belongs to the Marathis. Its like a magnet which attracts people from all parts of the country who go there to make a living. The city's growth is a testimony to the equal efforts of the Marathis and the migrants. Can Raj claim that Mumbai would have been the same if the so called outsiders had not come and settled here.

Right from Jammu and Kashmir to Tamil Nadu we take pride in migrant bashing. We forget that the term migrant is very relative and it doesn't take too long to for an individual to leave his ones own state and become a migrant. The problem is I will call myself a 'Bengali Indian' rather than an 'Indian Bengali'. Its not just shifting of two words but changing our mentality which can make us a better nation. Taking pride in one's language, history and culture is good but that does not give us the right to be disrespectful towards any language or community.

Well the root cause of the linguistic divide goes back to the infancy of free India when the states were divided on the lines of language. Jawaharlal Nehru and his close associates had the idea that it will make governance easy. But in the six decades since independence it has done more harm then good. Various political and militant groups are fighting for getting smaller states on the basis of language. This is perhaps the greatest blunder our politicians had made at the time of nation building.

If there is one word in the English dictionary which we need inject into our hormones it is ACCEPTANCE. We need to learn to accept others and vice versa they will accept us. Following leaders like Raj Thackeray and his goons leads us to barbarism which limits our claim to be country with a rich culture.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Do Aussies suffer from the winners syndrome?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Before the start of the Aussies tour of India the host were being touted as the favourites but who would have imagined that the mighty Aussies would be crushed by 320 runs in the second test. This is India's biggest victory in terms of runs suppressing the 280 run defeat they had handed over to South Africa.
The kangaroos right from the word go looked vulnerable in the match. Their only solace coming in the second session of the 1st day when they got three quick wickets.

The one question that many might ask is do the Aussies suffer from what is called the 'Winners Syndrome'? The problem with winning more often than not is that when such players are pushed to the wall they look clueless. That is exactly what happened with the world champions during the Mohali test. They seemed fish out of water not knowing what to do. Most of their youngsters are not used to situations where they bat to avoid a follow on, or wait for declaration to come from the opposition captain.

Australian team's strength lies in its aggression but this team seems to have landed in India without it. Their attack looks toothless without Glen McGrath and Shane Warne. Although the latter was never successful in India his art and craft was never in question. Michelle Johnson looks the only wicket taking bowler in the team and has got very little support from the others. Also the visitors did huge mistake by landing in India without a quality spinner giving the host a chance to produce turning tracks with Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and the young gun Amit Mishra in the side.

One more interesting fact is that Aussies usually murder their opposition but when it comes to close games they tend to loose their nerves especially with the five day version. In the last decade most of their test wins have been in four days. Most of the matches that have gone to the fifth day have resulted in a draw or their defeat. They have regularly shown that when under pressure they tend to crumble.

As far as the Indian team is concerned the only thing we cannot afford to do at this stage is be complacent. They have got a crucial lead in the series and should aim to finish the series in the next test itself. Not many teams have had the privileged to have the Aussies on the defensive mode and the hosts should take full advantage of the fact that everyone in their top and middle order have been among the runs. As for Ricky Ponting and his man they are on course to go empty handed this time around.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Sachin stands at the pinnacle of cricket

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar the name needs no introduction, the man who has given India many reasons to smile. There was a time during the economic depression in 90s that a teenager was smashing the Aussie attack all across the park and giving millions of demoralised Indians a reason to cheer about. It is highly ironical that the day he broke the world record for the maximum number of Test runs the stock markets came crashing down.

From being the most adorable teenagers in the country to becoming the greatest ambassador of the game Tendilya as he is fondly called by his mates has seen it all. Its not easy to survive in the international sports arena for two decades and certainly not when it comes to Indian cricket. A billion hopes and aspirations which end with his dismissal certainly puts him under a lot of pressure. But perhaps that is what separates a good sportsman from a legend.

Critics have always argued that Sachin has not been able to steer India to wins. True to a certain extent but time and again we have seen how India has won when he has played well. It goes to show his scores are not just a statistical boost to the team but a psychological too. The aura that surrounds him in the dressing room is too hard to replace. His greatest critics have accepted that Sachin has evolved as a cricketer over the years which has helped him survive this long in both versions of the game.

The Master Blaster has been a institution in himself when it comes to the game. True nobody is bigger than the game but certain individuals take the game to greater heights and Sachin has been one of them. For most part of the 90s he carried the burden of Indian batting order and the Indian team was considered 'Sachin and ten others'. Its only in the later stages of his career he had the liberty of playing freely after Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid joined the ranks.

Some of his best performance has come against the world champions Australia which goes to show he is at his best against the champions. Be it scoring a resilient 248 against the Australians in Sydney or single-handedly taking Indians to the jaws of victory in the Chennai Test against Pakistan Sachin has done it time and again. Who can forget the back to back centuries in Shahrjah or the 98 against Pakistan during the 2003 World Cup.

The greatest thing for Sachin is perhaps the dignity with which he has played the game. Apart from the ball tempering controversy in South Africa where English match referee Mike Dennis fallaciously charged him, Sachin has never had his name in the headlines for any wrong reasons. Perhaps the biggest testimony to the respect he commands came during India's last tour Down Under where there was too much of bad vibes in both the camps but Sachin received a standing ovation when he walked out to bat in Sydney.

In the winter of his career Sachin and many senior pros in the team are being treated badly by the board and the fans. People asking him to hang up his boots have not even scored as much runs in street cricket as he has done in Test cricket. The Master Blaster will know when is the best time for him to leave behind the Indian jersey and will not delay it a moment longer. He will play till the day he enjoys playing the game. So as far as calling it a day is concerned lets leave it to the Master himself.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Are we correct in following the US?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

President George W Bush's proposal to nationalise banks and other financial institutions in US is a U turn as far as Uncle Sam is concerned. Its like an atheist saying he finds solace visiting a religious place. Uncle Sam does not refer to Mr Bush here but the American presidency. The repercussions in Indian markets due to the US slowdown have been huge and our stock index have dropped sharply in the last month or so.

Now the big question that arises in all this is are we right in trying to follow the US model of economy? We have to keep in mind that we have a very small middle class as compared to that of US. Our mixed economy set-up was much safe as far as the basic necessities of life were concerned. Then post 90s we tried to emulate a free economy formula ignoring the fact that close to one-third of our population is below the poverty line which is close to 37 crore today more than the population of US!

India should learn from the US example that too much of an unregulated market is dangerous and especially in a case like ours where there is a whopping gap between the haves and the have-nots. Here I must say the government as well as the private sectors should work on traditional sectors like agriculture, heavy industries, power which do not crumble overnight. Instead we just look at Information Technology as the only sparkling thing in our crown.

Indian IT companies have long fooled the country by making us believe that a huge chunk of the world business is done in India. But the truth is as far as the global IT revenue is concerned our home-grown IT majors have a very small market share. The only thing that they have is huge head count and bench strength which they can maintain due to the rupee dollar ratio.

It is not surprising that all the MNCs in this sector have made India their hub as they get cheap labour which finally leads to more profit. Many people might jump off their seats hearing about the headcount in our IT majors but these MNCs have a bigger share of the domestic market than our Indian companies. So is our government doing justice to the nation by giving these companies freebies whereas thousands of people are starving across the country.

People reading this post might feel I am communist or have a anti-growth mentality. Well for me growth should be inclusive and not targeting a small percentage of the population. We have to set ourselves targets to wipe out poverty not at one go but may be at the pace of 2% a year and wipe is completely in the next two decades.

It is a well known fact that poverty has increased in India after liberalisation as it was targeted mainly to the educated elite. True we have come a long way and India is on the verge of becoming the next superpower. But will our superpower image not get dented if more than one-third our population sleeps empty stomach.

There is nothing wrong in following the US but we have to customise our policies and programmes according to our own needs. We need to have balance between the private and public sector and focus on our long lost concept of mixed economy as we are still socialist at heart than being capitalist.


Sourav Ganguly: Leads from the front even in retirement

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Sourav Ganguly called it quits amidst the biggest festive season in West Bengal. The entire City of Joy which had hardly recovered from the shock of Ratan Tata's pull out had to face another hard reality. Their favourite son will be wearing the India colours for one last time. The reactions were mixed unlike the Tata blow where everybody had their shoulders down.

The biggest of Sourav's critics would accept the fact that he has been the most successful cricketer from the state since the days of Pankaj Roy. For close to two decades now he has been the face of Bengal cricket. Some of the best performances of Bengal in the recent years came when Sourav was a part of the team after being dropped from the Indian team for reasons other than cricket.

In his retirement also he has shown the way to many of his team mates who did not have the courage to take the first call. There may be conspiracy theory doing rounds of the cricketing circles about the so called VRS plan but the fact remains Sourav would not have got a bigger series to retire than versus his favourite competitors the Aussies to hang up his boots.

The mighty Australians might hate him but from inside many in their camp have an admiration for this man who resisted to bow down to Steve Waugh's famous 'Mental Disintegration' techniques during 2001 series and later turned the series on its head. He did the same in the 2003-04 tour to Australia when he made sure Waugh's farewell series was 'not so perfect'. His classy 144 in Brisbane in the first test set the tone of the famous series.

There are many who would argue Sourav being a better skipper than a batsman but the fact remains you do not score more than 18000 runs in international cricket by fluke. The right way to pay tribute to this man would be to regard him the best left hander to have worn the Indian colours and without doubt the best man helming the team in the history of Indian cricket.

Most of his supporters would feel that the Prince of Kolkata has been victimised and rightly so as his performance since his comeback has been second to none. The mental toughness and resilience that Sourav showed after he was dropped is something others in the Fab Four could not have dreamed of. He came back to the team from a point where most of the pundits had written him off. Dada does not need to prove any more thing to anybody but the selectors should understand that such gems of the game deserve to be treated in a much more respectful manner. As for Sourav even in retirement he has lead from the front.


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