Tuesday, June 30, 2009

They want to be Happy and 'Gay'

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The controversial Section 377 proclaims that gays are criminals is back in news. The gay community which has been overlooked for generations is finally making enough noise for the government to scrap the draconian law. Although many celebrities and civil rights groups have come out in support of the homosexuals the Government doesn't seem too confident to take a stand on the issue.

It is not very often that all the religious bodies in India are united on some issue. But when it came to granting some freedom to the gays religious leaders from the Hindu, Muslim, Christian and the Sikh community have taken the same side. All the religious groups are citing there religious texts and terming homosexuality as unnatural, against the religion and humanity.

This has put the Government on the back foot which was planning to review the law. Home Minister P Chidambaram, Law Minister Veerappa Moily and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad were planning a historic meeting on this issue. But the stand taking by all the religious bodies in the country has meant that the Government is not bold enough to push for reforms on the issue.

The big question now arises does the government need to consider the religious bodies before talking decisions. If the case is so why should we have an elected government in the country if they cannot represent the aspirations of the people. If our constitution does not discriminate people on the basis of religion and caste why does it discriminate against the gays who are a sexual minority.

If religious teaches us of being children of the god they are the gays children of some lesser god? True homosexuals are a minority but that should not be reason enough to discriminate against them. If two individuals want to live together who are the religious bodies to term it as unnatural? Religious groups should look after the happiness of individuals as only then a society will be happy.

It is high time the government takes some steps scrap or bring in amendments in Article 377 as terming a sexual minority as criminals is absurd. Let not the courts and the religious organizations decide who can be married to whom. Let us leave it to the individuals for themselves to choose their life partners. Give the sexual minority basic rights that's what they demand for.


Monday, June 29, 2009

10 New states; Are we kidding?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Telengana, Gorkhaland, Bundelkhand, Bhojpur, Saurastha, Harit Pradesh, Mithilanchal, Greater Cooch Beha, Vidarbha and Coorg. Well theses are not just the names of provinces in India they could very well become new states in the Indian Union. The Centre has received demands for creation of at least 10 new states in the country which already has 28 States, 6 Union Territories and Delhi enjoying the status of National Capital Territory of India.

Language is the basis of statehood demands in most case whereas in some case it is the bifurcation some larger states like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. The idea behind creation of smaller states is not always better governance but more to do with the majority-minority equation. Lets take an example till 31st October 2000 the Adivasis were a minority in Bihar but the next day with the formation of Jharkhand they overnight became a majority in the newly formed state. Has it meant better governance? Well the answer is for everyone to see.

Similar experiments with Chattisgarh and Uttarkhand and many states in North East haven't really meant betterment of the states. They have rather created divide among people on the basis of language and culture. There is a feeling among certain groups that with smaller states and the government being headed by their own people goodies will be showered upon them. This hasn't been the case most of the times when smaller states have been curved out of larger ones. Certain political parties based their ideology on new state formation.

There is a negative side to having a smaller states. With their poor representation in the Parliament they are unable to draw major Central schemes to their states. Let us be honest a Tamil Nadu with 39 MPs and a Meghalaya with 2 MPs won't be treated in the same manner when it comes to National Schemes. Most of the representatives from such smaller states book the back benches in the Parliament dwindling the hopes and aspirations of the people who send them to Delhi.

The only thing creation of more states ensures is more of the exchequer's money goes in running smaller state governments and creation of few more bureaucratic positions. The same funds could have rather gone into the social sector. True some times big states have be bifurcated for better administration and ADMINISTRATIION should be the criteria if more states are to be created. Let us not drag the linguistic and cultural divide from one decade to another. The demand should be for better governance and just not smaller states.


Friday, June 26, 2009

A tribute to the King of Pop

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Heal the world, make it a better place”, these were the words of one of his most famous song. Michael Joseph Jackson better known as the 'King of Pop' was not just a singer he was a culture in himself. The biggest icon of music since the days of Beatles and Elvis Presley in a career spanning four decades Michael achieved what no musician had before him. He was the face of western music in the 80s and 90s becoming a hit machine.

Michael Jackson began his professional career barely at the age of 11 as a member of The Jackson 5 and started his solo in career in 1971 while he was still a member group. In the subsequent years, five of his solo studio albums Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995) became world's best-selling records. He was a dominant figure at the start of the MTV culture and became the first African-American entertainer to amass a strong crossover following.

If his music pleased the soul his dancing techniques were breathtaking. No artist before or after him has looked so great in stage or in music videos. He popularized a number of physically complicated dance techniques, such as the 'robot' and the 'moonwalk'. A famous publication had once described him as “A dancer with the fanciest feet on the street. A singer who cuts across all boundaries of taste and style and colour too.”

Controversies had always been a part and parcel of Michael's life. Starting with the changing colour of his skin to his controversial marriage with Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley Jacko had been a favourite for the paparazzi. The biggest of all perhaps was when he was accused of sexually molesting children at his Neverland den. He also had his share of problems with drugs when became dependent on morphine and demerol.

In his glittering career spread over four decades Jacko became one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. His illustrations career also bagged him 13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one singles in his solo career and saw him sell over 750 million albums worldwide. In 1984 his name was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his influence in music the world over.....Read More


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bailing out the Maharaja with taxpayer's money

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Old fleet of planes, out of shape air hostesses, rude ground staff., welcome to the world of Air India. The National Carrier has demanded for a Rs. 15000 Crore bailout package from the Government. The Government will bail the Maharaja out of an air pocket with the tax payer's money which could have otherwise gone into the social sector to prevent incidents like Lalgarh from happening.

It is a well known fact that due to the economic downturn aviation industry has taken a beating. With sharp decline in the domestic passenger traffic all the major airlines both the Full Service Airlines and the Low Cost Carriers are facing the crunch. But when it comes to Air India the problems seemed to be compounded by the work culture among its employees right from the management to the support staff.

The question now arises in spite of having one of the best connectivity and enjoying tax sops from the government being the national carrier why is Air India bleeding more that others? One of the reasons has been its inflated staff strength when compared to other airlines. Now this could have been used in a more organized manner to become an advantage for Air India than becoming its biggest headache.

The government will release funds and bail out Air India but the question is why should my tax money go for the payment of six and seven figure salaries to employees of an organizations whose mis-management has led to the situation. The same money could have been better used in the social sector for basic infrastructure development in the rural parts of the country which are development starved and titling towards the underground elements such as the Maoists.

The Government would argue it was taking this step to save jobs but if that is the case why did it not save jobs of the employees in the private sector. Why did it not give funds to an organization like Satyam so that 10000 odd jobs could be saved. There should be some sort of accountability when the tax payers money is used to save mis-managed Government and Public Sector Units. Its high time the government makes its staff accountable towards the wastage of public money.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Don't equate Naxalims/Maoism with Terrorism

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The recent violence in Lalgarh in West Bengal is another testimony to the threating red terror which is fast spreading across the country. Although the ban imposed by the government on the CPI – M(Maoist) will give the security forces some teeth to fight these outlawed people it is not a solution to the problem as more and more indoctrinated people will raise arms against the State.

One fundamental problem so far has been many a times we have equated Left Wing Extremism with Terrorism. To put it realistically terrorism has to be tackled with force as these organizations have demands which cannot be met under the purview of the Indian Constitution. In contrast most of the Left Wing Extremism groups are against the constant overlooking of the rural areas by the government when it came to development.

Maoism and Naxalism are bigger threats than terrorism as they have gripped the entire Indian heartland where security forces seems to have little or no control. The support that these groups enjoy from the vast majority of rural deprived population is a major worrying factor. Although our government may not officially acknowledge it but Naxalism has taken the face of People's Moment in many parts of the country.

But the good point is Left Extremism is easier to tackle than terrorism as the key issue in most case is intrusion in the jungles and development. Both these problems can be solved well under our own law. If pictures that we have seen of Lalgarh and other Naxal infested areas are anything to go by its a shame on the nation which wants to be a global superpower but doesn't have metaled roads, electricity, primary health care for its rural population.

The people in most of the Naxal infested areas have been denied of basic infrastructure and development for decades. Their demands are very basic bijili, sadak and paani unlike us the urban crowd who are not satisfied with air conditioned buses and feel the need for air-conditioned roads. Its high time the Government shows some seriousness towards the issue. Let there not be two parallel India's in the villages and cities.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The script was written for Pakistan

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

It has been close to 48 hours after Pakistan won the ICC T20 World Cup but the celebrations in the war torn Pakistan refuses to die down. Perhaps the script was already written for the 'Men in Green' when they went to the tournament with the hopes and aspiration of a nation torn by war. Last year they got close to lifting the trophy but they were stopped at the final frontier by Team India.

Before the start of the tournament captain Younis Khan had said that a World Cup win would lift the spirits of his countrymen who have become victims of terrorism. At that time not many would have given the Pakistanis any chance of winning the tournament especially after they lost both their practice matches against South Africa and arch rivals India. In fact the Pakistani shoulders dropped when they suffered humiliating 9-wicket defeat against India.

Younis Khan and his men had come to the tournament with a lot of anger and lot to prove. The anger for being stripped off as the co-host of the ICC 2011 World Cup and being branded as 'Unsafe Country' for any international team to tour. They had come to England to prove that cricket was still alive in Pakistan despite the cricket crazy nation toughing a low when the Sri Lankan Cricket teams was attacked in Lahore.

Although they started the tournament slow unlike Sri Lanka, South Africa and West Indies they peaked at the right time. Once India and Australia were out of the tournament Pakistan fancied a great chance as South Africa cricketing history said they were bound to choke and West Indies has never been consistent in the last two decades while the Kiwis suffered from too many injury problems. Their only obstacle was Sri Lanka which played similar brand of cricket.

The thing that worked for the Pakistanis was they peaked when it mattered. Who would have thought a certain bloke called Shahid Afradi would come good not just once but both in the semi-finals and finals. He fire when the team needed its most experienced player to do so. Miracles do not happen in cricket and its the team that plays good on the day wins. Pakistanis were good when they needed to be and deserved the Champions tag.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Kasab's case shows the plight of our Judicial System

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Ram Gopal Varma did a serious error when he visited the Taj after the Mumbai carnage along with then Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh. The public outcry meant the could not make the movie he intended. But Ramu can definitely make one on the trial of Mohammad Ajmal Mohammad Amir Kasab the lone Pakistani terrorist caught alive after having waged a war against India. The courtroom drama is surely worth making a Bollywood flick which mocks out criminal justice system.

It has been seven months since Kasab and nine other terrorist unleashed the worst episode of urban terror in India but our law is still trying to prove him guilty. The Mumbai Police had filed a 11000 page charge sheet against Kasab which doesn't seem enough to nail him. Everyday in the court we have fresh witnesses walking in and identifying Kasab as the terrorist who opened fire at the CST railway station while he smiles and laughs at the witnesses.

Isn't the judiciary still not convinced that this is same man who killed so many innocent people in CST?
The entire nation seems to have identified who Kasab is but our judges are not convinced. Hasn't the prosecution prepared a case strong enough to nail him? If the law has any loopholes doesn't it need to be mended in time? Aren't we mocking at ourselves and encouraging the terrorists to attempt similar attacks in the future.

Another high profile case involving Parliament attack conspirator Mohammad Afzal Guru has become political. The mercy plea has been lying pending with the President of India for years now. Doesn't the office of the President have enough time to take a stand on such pleas. What message do send out to the world when in spite of being one of the worst victims of terror we are not willing to take some hard decisions.

The problem is not limited to Kasab's case, it shows the plight of our judiciary. Kasab's case has to be the most high profile in the decade but we still are unable to punish who came across from the border and waged a war against India. If justice is not delivered in such a high profile case why should we have faith in our judiciary. The government changed the Chief Minister and sacked the Home Minister but it seems to be bowing down when it came to the Court Case.

It might not highly unlikely that another plane is hijacked and Kasab's release is demanded. From Kandhar episode to the Parliament Attack and the recent Mumbai carnage we have always bowed down before terrorism. Perhaps we should take a cue from our southern neighbours Sri Lanka. People thought this time around things will change but we still seem to send out the message of peace to people who point a gun at us. Why shouldn't we be referred to as a 'Weak State'?


Friday, June 19, 2009

India's agony with MiG-21's continue

By: Subhadeep Bhatttacharjee

In India's military aviation the name MiG 21 has become synonymous to crashes. In yet another incident the fighter which has been nicknamed as the 'Flying Coffin' crashed shortly after take off from Chabua Air Force Base in Upper Assam. The pilot of the aircraft ejected to safety minutes before the crash. The initial reports said that a technical snag might have caused the crash. This crash takes the toll of MiG-21 crashes in the year to 6 which translates a crash per month for the Indian Air Force.

A routine inquiry has been ordered to find out the reasons for the crash. The latest crash comes at a time when many young pilots are undergoing training on the newly inducted Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers. It has long been argued one of the primary reasons of MiG crashes had been the poor training given to the young pilots where they were trained in sub-sonic Kiran aircraft to fly the super-sonic MiGs.

With every crash questions are raised on the air worthiness of the MiG-21 which comprise the bulk of India's fighter aircraft. Most of these third-generation jet fighters which were inducted into the Indian Air Force in the 60s and 70s have exceeded their service life but are being flown after regular overhauls to extend their service life. The IAF is trying to slowly phasing out the older MiG-21 variants like Type-77, Type-96 and Type-75 Bis. Interestingly the aircraft involved in the recent crash was a Type-77.

The repeated delay in the development of the indigenously built LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) has meant that the IAF has been unable to phase out the ageing MiGs in time. These third generation aircrafts are being pushed beyond their service life. The problems with the crashes have been compounded by their poor maintenance facility in the country and import of cheap spare parts from countries like Ukraine.

Although the fourth largest Air Force in the world boasts of having the advanced Sukhoi-30 aircraft in a war like situation it is the MiG-21s which will decide the outcome. Considering the hostile neighbourhood we are in with Pakistan and China regular taking hostile stand against us the Government needs to show more seriousness towards this issue. In a modern day warfare its the Air Force which may be the deciding factor. In a war our pilots should have the sole responsibility of fighting the enemy and not their own machines.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Naxalites in Lalgarh need to be crushed

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

In 2007 Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said that the biggest threat that the country faces is from Naxilism. But two years hence we still do not seem to be serious about curbing this threat. Although terrorism is perceived by many as a bigger threat the Naxilites in reality have a much wider presence in the Indian heartland with as many as 165 districts in the country under the rule of the Left extremists.

States like Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa are severely affected while others like Maharashtra, West Bengal and Uttarakhand have been ocassionally hit by the extremists. Lalgarh in West Bengal seems to have become their latest terror hub with the Naxalites controlling more than 100 villages and the security forces sitting around the boundary drawn by the Naxals.

The State Government has done very little to curb this menace in spite of the Naxals' attempt to kill Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in November last year. The Left Front after its humiliating performance in the Lok Sabha polls is scared to take any tough stand feeling the tribals might get agitated against it. The state government which had supported an arm struggle in Nandigram and Singur does not want to burn its fingers again.

The Centre on its part has hardly done a thing other than providing a few companies of Central security forces to the State Government. The UPA Government does not want to seen directly involved against the people ahead of the Assembly Polls in 2011. After getting hold of the Left Front's neck in the Parliamentary elections it doesn't want to let it go. In case a Nandigram like incident happens in Lalgarh it wants the Left Front to get the entire blame.

The ground reality is terrifying and the speed at which the Left extremist are expanding their network they might soon engulf the entire country into a civil war. The Lalgarh problem and the ones similar should be tackled firmly by the law enforcement agencies. The Government should follow it up with development in education, basic infrastructure and employment.

If these people are let off this time the Naxalites might expand their network in other rural areas of West Bengal and neighbouring states. The Government should be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to dealing with the Naxals. One reason for our indifference to the Naxal problem is the elites in the society have never been affected by it in urban areas. Let us not wait for a Taj like incident for us to realise the seriousness of the Naxal threat.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dhoni and his men should look ahead

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

If anybody had doubts about India's poor form and second round exit in the T20 World Cup the last match against South Africa was a certificate of their form. With the defeat against the Proteas, Dhoni and his men made three in a row to add to their woes. The only two wins came against minnows Bangladesh and ICC qualifiers Ireland. Bangladesh in fact gave them a scare in the match until Pragyan Ojha turned it for India.

The men in dark blue who seemed invincible in T20's first edition in South Africa looked horribly ordinary in second edition of the tournament. The defending champions authority was nowhere there in their game and they struggled in all their super eight matches. The Indian team had perhaps saved their worst for the last match when they were unable to chase mere 131 runs after a good opening stand and an awesome performance by their bowlers.

The blame game has already started and the coach Gary Kirsten has blamed the IPL for the exhaustion of the Indian players. The question now arises is why these issues were not raised before the start of the tournament? Why are these being talked about now when the team has exited from the tournament? To remind Mr Gary Kirsten the Indian team which won the crown last time had come out of a exhausting tour of England and nobody had raised any issues then.

The sole problem for the team has been their form in all the three departments of the game. Inconsistent batting, blunt bowling and pathetic fielding led to the humiliation. A player's form doesn't depend on the number of matches he plays. Had the players needed rest why did they not pull out of the IPL? The BCCI would have definitely made the different franchises release players keeping in mind the T20 World Cup. The players who are at their 20s should not be talking about fatigue and exhaustion.

Let the Indian team as well as the fans accept that this was a poor show by the team in the tournament. Instead of issuing apologies and making lame excuses which won't calm down the anger of the fans the team should look ahead to the upcoming West Indies tour.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Govt. washes its hands off Satyam

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The last ray of hope that many Satyamites put on sabbatical had about Government coming to their rescue has dwindled away with Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed stating that the Government won't meddle into the affairs of the company. Ironically a fortnight ago Mr. Kursheed has stated that the Government wont turn a 'blind eye' on the future of Satyam employees. He said with Tech Mahindra taking on the company it was upto them to manage the company.

To be fair on the Government's part there is very little that they could have done. Tech Mahindra surely had made its calculations right before stepping into the bid to buy the IT giant. The Government could not have interfered into the internal matters of a company and definitely not in the IT sector which has always tried to keep the Government at bay. Nobody expected fraud of this scale in Corporate India's sunshine sector.

The biggest and the most obvious victims in all this has been the employees and more so those in the lower bands who were mostly non-billable. They have been hired and virtually thrown out of a company for no fault of theirs. The global slowdown has added to their woes with very few opportunities in the job market for them to switch to some other companies.

The events since the global slowdown has been a moment of truth for the entire nation. Our generation which had grown up blaming the government for each and every woe and believed privatisation was the answer to all our problem suddenly have doubts. We have seen how bad the corporate world can be. The fat salary cheques can be overnight replaced with pink slips for no fault of the employee.

The Government has lost a lot of controlling power it had over the economy about a decade back and many of our industry leaders want the government to have no control over the economy. Whether this is good or bad for us only time will tell but one thing is for sure the victims will always be the people at the bottom of the pyramid. The leaders who lead organization to shambles will try take their share of responsibility with a token 'salary cut'.


Monday, June 15, 2009

India no longer T20 champions

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

If the loss to West Indies in the T20 World Cup match was disappointing the loss to England was heartbreaking for Team India fans. A billion dreams got shattered when Dhoni and his men failed to quality for the semi finals. With Australia's first round exit many had fancied India's chances of retaining the crown in cricket's phata phat version. But the loss to Paul Collingwood side meant that India will no longer be referred to as the T20 Champions post June 21.

The main reason was the complete failure of the batting order in the tournament with the only exceptions being Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh and to some extent Yusuf Pathan. Gautam Gambhir was a dud in all the matches and Suresh Raina seemed to have forgotten to carry his form from South Africa. Dhoni looked completely out of sorts in the tournament his attempt to change his natural game is proving expensive him as well as the team.

The bowling lacked lustre in all the matches and none of the bowlers performed consistently in the tournament. The team's performance was so dull that even Bangladesh gave them a scare in the first match bringing back haunting memories of Port of Spain. Pragyan Ojha could only tame Bangladesh while Harbhajan Singh lost control over his line and length. Ishant Sharma did not seem to come out of the Knight Riders nightmares and the left arm trio of Zaheer Khan, RP Singh and Irfan Pathan had nothing special to talk about.

The only term that could be used to define Indian fielding in this tournament was pathetic. The Tendulkars, the Gangulys and the Dravids might not have been outstanding athletes but they always made India a good catching side but the men in Dark Blue displayed club cricket like performance when it came to manning the park. One thing which we failed to notice during the IPL was the form of our players. Apart from Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and RP Singh none of the Indian players were in great form.

The T20 World Cup is over for India with a match remaining against South Africa which they will have to play for honour. The team should put this behind and start focus their tour to West Indies which starts at end of the month. Hopefully the team will give their fans something to cheer bout from the Caribbean island.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

BJP seems to be in complete disarray

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The resignation of Yashwant Sinha from the BJP shows that saffron brigade is in complete disarray. The party’s lacklustre performance in the Lok Sabha polls has meant that there is infighting and chaos within the party. The recently concluded poll results show that the party which ran the first non-Congress government at the centre for five years has lost tune with the voters across the country. Its support base is slowly dwindling away from it and moving towards India’s grand old party the Congress.

Many in the BJP has cited the moving away from the Hindutva as the reason for the defeat in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls but the saffron brigade seems to have no answer for its loss in 2009. They had backed hardliner Hinduism by endorsing Varun Gandhi’s speech but that backfired not only across the country but even in Uttar Pradesh once BJP’s bastion. It is from the same UP that the BJP had risen in the last two decades to challenge the Congress.

In the late 90’s BJP was termed ‘a party with a difference.’ The average middle class Indian frustrated with Congress’ shabby economics policies saw leadership in the persona of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani. They believed here was one party which won’t promote dynasty politics, which has leaders with a corruption free background, a party which won’t misuse Article 356 a thing which the Congress had mastered and above all lead India from being a third world country to a global superpower. But the ‘party with a difference’ seems to have become the ‘party with differences.’

One of the key reasons for the infighting in the BJP comes from the fact that the second level leaders were never groomed to take over the charismatic Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the dynamic Lal Krishna Advani. The Sushma Swarajs, Rajnath Singhs, Arun Jaitleys and Yashwant Sinhas were all equals under the shadow of Vajpayee and Advani but none of them could emerge as a consensus candidate within their own ranks. The Congress never had this problem due to the presence of the Gandhis who will rule the party for ever.

The first major task for the BJP will be to dowse the flames within and do a complete overhaul of their party. They have to come out of the shadow of Hindutva and feel the pulse of a common Indian who needs security and development ahead of a Ram Temple in a certain city called Ayodhya. Keep the Modis and the Varun Gandhis out and promote the Arun Jaitleys. BJPs existence in necessary for the UPA to function well as the fear of being voted out in the last 15 years has propelled the various governments to take developmental steps.


Friday, June 12, 2009

India's biggest confusion KASHMIR

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The term Kashmir has today become synonymous with week long bandhs, security forces outnumbering civilians, cordoned localities, bunkers on roadside and never ending protest. All this in the scenic valley about which the great Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had once said “Agar Firdous Bar Roi Zamanast Tho, Haminasto, Haminasto, Haminasto (If there is ever a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here)

Home Minister P Chidambaram assured the people of Kashmir that the government will check the role of the Central security forces in the valley. He also envisioned a larger role for the J&K Police in law and order maintenance in the valley. This may calm down the ongoing protest in India's most troubled province but the decision shows the government's biggest confusion KASHMIR.

The Centre knows with heavy military presence which exercise special powers it can never win the hearts of the people of Kashmir but the threat from across the border will not allow it to withdraw the security forces. So instantaneous appeasement is the best solution New Delhi has struck upon time and again making big promises and keeping half the word.

The security forces who are time and again questioned by the Human Rights group have a tough time in the valley. If not the terrorists the weather can be a killer in the high altitudes. In sipte of all these the Army and the Paramilitary forces have done a commendable job in the valley for the last two decades to ensure that Kashmir did not turn to a lawless province.

The failure has been on the part of our government which felt giving sops to the people of Kashmir and other places in North East will douse the flames. Where water was required the government came in with a 'fire extinguisher' and once the flame was doused and the extinguisher can empty it did not even bother to look back at the people.

For the last six decades Kashmir has been a bone of contention between India and our western neighbours Pakistan. Politicians from both India, Pakistan and Kashmir have promised to resolve the issue but they have failed. The naked truth is that there is no solution that will be acceptable to the India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Aussies again choke under pressure

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Anybody who has followed world cricket for the last decade or so will acknowledge that fact that Australian cricket is on a decline. Their first round ouster in the T20 World Cup proves that Ricky Pointing's men are no longer what they used to be just about two years ago. This teams looks more vulnerable than ever before and has very little in common with the modern day invincibles nurtured by Steve Waugh and carried on by Ricky Ponting.

If it was the Caribbean hurricane of Chris Gayle which shocked Australia on Saturday then it was the Sri Lankan wall of Kumara Sangakara which the kangaroos could not penetrate. There was stark contrast in the two run chases by Sri Lanka and West Indies. If Chris Gayle blasted the Aussie attack playing a murderous innings, Kumara Sangakara played a classy innings ensuring Lanka made it to the top eight.

The ODI World Champions have struggled to dominate in the shortest version of the game like they have done in Test and ODIs. Teams like India and South Africa have grown a shade fairer to the Aussies when it comes to the twenty over game. The ouster of Andrew Symonds due to disciplinary reasons just ahead of its first match did not help the situation and meant that the kangaroos were playing without their biggest T20 star.

On a larger picture of the game Aussies seem to going through a struggling phase. Not that they are performing bad, just that they are not being able to touch the high standards they themselves set in the last decade. The exit of champions like Glen McGrath, Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist has severely hurt the balance of the team. They no longer look invincible although it will be too early to write them off as their positive approach always gives them a chance to bounce back.

The upcoming Ashes Tour will be the most important in Ricky Ponting's career as he is the only Australian captain in the last two decades to have lost an Ashes Series. Also the fact that the last Ashes in England went to the home team will put pressure on the Aussies. The teams sans Glen McGrath, Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist will have to play out of their skin to win the Ashes and prove their domination in world cricket.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Roger Federer conquers Roland Garros

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Last year he was in tears after loosing the third consecutive final at Roland Garros to Rafael Nadal. This time too there were tears in Roger Federer's eyes but they were tears of joy and happiness having conquered the only peak that had eluded him so far in his illustrious career. Roger Federer finally conquered the French Open defeating Robin Soderling in straight sets and also equaling Pete Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slams.

Federer had been a finalist here in the last three occasions but could not break the Nadal Code when it came to playing on clay. This time with his nemesis the Spaniard Rafael Nadal not making it to the finals the 27 year old Swiss was not going to let this one go. The best compliment perhaps came from his opponent Soderling who said “Roger gave me a lesson in how to play tennis.” It was also a big hearted effort by Soderling to reach the finals of the French Open before losing out to Federer.

It was an awesome display authoritative tennis by Federer who signaled his intentions breaking Soderling’s serve in the very first game. Taking advantage of his opponent’s unforced errors Federer won the match in straight sets. Another thing noticeable was the crowd support for Federer, Parisians did not want Federer to leave Roland Garros empty handed this time.

Roger Federer also became a part of the elite club of Fred Perry, Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver and Andre Agassi all of whom have won all the four grand slams or as they say achieve the Career Grand Slam. Such elite is the club that it doesn't include the names of legends of the game like Pete Sampras, Björn Borg, Jimmy Connors, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall and Ivan Lendl.

Many greats of the game have always believed the French Open to be a jinxed tournament whose crown has eluded the biggest of names in Tennis. From Pete Sampras to Borris Becker and from John McEnroe to Jimmy Connors all have had to bite the dust when it came to playing on clay. Roger Federer has relieved himself from the huge burden of not winning a French Open.

Federer will surely go down as one if the biggest names in men's tennis. True he might lack the flamboyance of an Andre Aggasi, the powerful aces of a Pete Sampras, the backhand play of Björn Borg or the aggression of Borris Becker but with 14 grand slams under his belt at age 27 the Swiss will surely conquer many more territories before hanging his boots.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Microsoft wants to bang with 'Bing'

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

When it comes to doing business in technology there is no one better than Microsoft. The numerous accusations of plagiarism and lawsuits have never made the company overhaul its business strategy. When it came to product selling and money making no one could ever challenge the technology giant. But at the turn of the millennium when the focus shifted in focus to Internet, Microsoft could not quite capitalize on the World Wide Web.

In spite of making early moves with the Windows Messenger, buying HotMail for an whopping $400 million and forcing people to use Internet Explorer, Microsoft could never grab a lion's share in the web market. The emergence of Google and Yahoo with complete focus on the web meant that Microsoft could never force a challenge on them. Its focus was stretched between product development and the Internet. Google in fact went on to become a verb in the Internet jargon.

The enormous business prospects on the net with a $30 billion dollar Online Ad industry brought Microsoft with a completely outlook. After failing to capture the imagination of the Netizens with MSN and Live Search Microsoft has finally come binging with BING. The technology giant wants to make it a 'Google Killer'. First things first Bing has an awesome layout with some breathtaking background pictures and scores a Thumbs Up on that. But Google's clean and simple homepage is definitely more welcoming.

Another thing that has to be talked about is naming it 'BING'. Microsoft has always gone for conventional naming like Word, PowerPoint, Internet Explorer so 'BING' which has no meaning in the dictionary breaks convention. Microsoft wants to shed its image of a veteran Technology company and appeal to the Y Generation. BING being a rhyming word definitely sounds better than Live Search which sounds more like rat killing mission.

One tool which will attract a first time user is the Search History tab on the left of the screen is a useful feature as it provides with an instant history on search without any log in unlike Google. But this tool can be a problem for people used to searching %$#@ . The search results generated are however not upto the mark of Google which has become a benchmark in the search industry.

All in all it is another attempt by Microsoft to take on Google. It will be an herculean task for Microsoft if it plans to topple Google as the numero uno search engine. Google not only enjoys the loyalty of its users it has a cult following among them. Only time will tell if BING bings out Google or bows down before it like MSN and Live Search did.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Will we ever leave caste, religion and gender?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine and she was excited at Meera Kumar being elected as the speaker of the Lok Sabha. She had shown me the same excitement when Prathiba Patel was elected as the President of India. She had hailed it as victory day for Indian women. I had then asked her “whom would you choose between a visionary leader and women leader? She was sane enough to reply that she would choose visionary leader.

I don't mean to sound like an anti-feminist but the question arises will we ever come out of the clutches of caste, religion and gender? The political fraternity is hailing the election of Meera Kumari as the speaker of the Lok Sabha. After all she is the first Dalit and first Women to have reached the post. The question is not limited to that of women being elevated to highest post in the temple of Indian Democracy but why are we promoting this divide even in the 21st Century?.

A Dalit, a Woman or a Muslim being made the President of India is made to look out as a certificate to the pluralism of Indian democracy. But the fact remains these are mere tokenism which have done more harm to the nation than good. Many might hail such tokenism a testament to the Indian pluralism but the truth is they always remind us of our harsh divide.

Among the Fundamental Rights that the Constitution of India grants 'Right to Equality' stands tall but isn't this abused in the name of pluralism. Why are reservations still given on the name of cast, religion and language? Why isn't a Muslim women entitled to maintenance after divorce just like her Hindu counterpart? Why are certain section sections of the society exempted from the income tax in the name of bringing them to forefront? Aren't we all equal under the purview of the Indian Constitution?

All this has meant that we have championed the cause of identity politics. The upper cast have always felt their rights are given to the backward casts and other religions in the name of social upliftment. This meant the upper castes always hated the lower castes and the lower castes in return looked at the upper caste with suspicion. The seeds of caste and religion based politics were sown here.

We can't even think of an India where a Hindu is the Minority Affairs Minister or a upper caste Brahmin a Minister of Tribal Affairs. We can't believe in 'Best Men For The Job' idea and are happy to see one among our won lead us to shambles as long as he prays to the same god and speaks the same language. We will never learn from the examples of how an Albania lady by the name of Mother Teresa did more humanitarian work in India than any other Indian. Had it been in the hands of our political class this wouldn't have been allowed. How can a foreign national understand the pain of common Indians?

It's high time we grow up as a nation and not sing praises for mere political tokenism and feel proud about our great democratic values. Let reform, development and progress be the word in place of caste, religion and gender.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Gandhi v/s Gandhi starts on a pleasant note

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The Gandhis may have ruled this country directly or indirectly for most parts in the last 60 years but the 15th Lok Sabha will have the highest representation from India's unofficial first family. Indira Gandhi's two bahus (daughter-in-laws) Sonia Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi along with their betas (sons) Rahul Gandhi and Varun Gandhi respectively will grace the holiest temple of Indian Democracy.

Whats more interesting is the fact that the two mother and son duo will be occupying opposite sides of the Lok Sabha. While Sonia and Rahul will be in limelight having led the Congress to a thumping victory in the elections Meneka and Varun will be in the back benches of the opposition as no queenly or princely treatment is served to them by the saffron brigade.

The first day of the Lok Sabha began on a warm and pleasant note for the two estranged factions of the Gandhi family. After a bitterly fought election battle Varun Gandhi greeted his aunt Sonia Gandhi with folded hands before taking oath in the house. Rahul Gandhi was not far behind in returning the greetings bowed his head as a gesture of respect towards Maneka Gandhi.

There seems to have been some ease in tension between the two families as the Congress president smiled as she watched Varun read out his oath in Hindi. Maneka looked similarly indulgent when Rahul took oath in English and even thumped the desk as he was sworn in. However there had to be a climax in the Devrani-Jethani tale and Maneka didn't meet Sonia's eye while taking oath.

Life is at times an irony isn't it, had Menaka Gandhi not had a fallout with Saasu Ma Indira Gandhi and her Jethani Sonia Gandhi she could have easily been holding a key post in the Congress. Varun Gandhi who is trying to create a place for himself in Indian politics would have surely been touted as the future Deputy Prime Minister of the Country if elder cousin Rahul would get the top job.

The irony however is Meneka's decision to go against her family after the death of her husband Sanjay Gandhi has cost her dearly when it comes to politics. She should have become used to the jai jai kars that Sonia and Rahul hear and the royal treatment meted out to them wherever they go. Her son Varun would not have been forced to make an anti-Muslim statement for mere publicity as he surely would have been the Chhote Nawab behind bare bhaiyaa Rahul.

It will be interesting to see the political debates in the Lok Sabha this time. Will Varun Gandhi question his estranged cousin Rahul on the developmental issue or will Meneka challenge the Congress led government on Animal Rights. But as they say politics is all about uncertainty and the Gandhis might be sitting on the same side of the house in the 16th Lok Sabha.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Is the American auto dream over?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

It was a sad day in American automotive history when the one of the world's largest automobile company General Motors filed for bankruptcy. It is the third-largest filing in U.S. History. Only beaten by Lehman Brothers Holdings’s in 2008 and WorldCom’s in 2002. The U.S. government has pledged up to $30.1 billion USD to restructure the company and provide the financing for it to emerge within the next two to three months.

General Motors had led the American auto revolution along with its competitors Ford and Chrysler. The auto giant which had given world several marvellous brands such as Cadillac, Opel, Chevrolet, Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn has crushed under its own burden of credit. This downfall was inevitable for GM as the company has been on a continuous down slide since the start of the millennium. The 101 year old company is more than just a brand to the Americas, it a symbol of pride.

Post World War II brands like the Ford and General Motors have always been the flag bearers of the Great American Dream. They have shown to the world the American flamboyancy, the need for speed, the liking for big gas guzzlers and above all the style statement. They have been testament to the aspiration of the Americans to be the greatest superpower in the world. They were America's answer to the Mercedes, the Fiats, the Hondas and the Nissasn.

General Motors is another episode in the chain of events that has hit the American economy as a whole and automotive industry in particular. With Chrysler already having filed for bankruptcy in April and Ford having mortgaged all of its assets in 2006 to borrow money from the market American automobile industry is going through its darkest hour. With sales touching record lows due to the global financial meltdown it has been bumpy ride for the auto makers in the last year in particular.

The American auto industry also faces external threats mainly from Japan and South Korea with brands like Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan and Honda faring better in the market. One reason why brands like GM have had slump in the last decade has been the change in markets. Buyers around the world are moving towards energy efficient cars a fact that most American brand were in denial of. The flamboyant gas guzzlers are no longer popular with the American masses who at one point of time did not care about fuel bills as long as it made a style statement.

Another thing that hit the American auto industry was freezing of demands in the domestic markets. The markets in North America which accelerated the growth of the GMs and the Fords has seen freezing in sales in the last two decades. It is not surprising that operations of General Motors and Ford in countries like India has been a complete different story. In fact GM India is one of the rare subsidiary for the auto giant whose books are in still in green.

The bailout by the government will surely save the lives of thousands of workers in these companies. It is too early to write off brands like the GM and Chrysler and they surely will not land up in the history books of automobile engineering. But the bailout also means that the American auto dreams will never be the same again.


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