Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Facebook Quotes And What They Mean

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Study shows the most hard working people in today's industry spend 2 hrs on an average on Facebook. No wonder we have people who are so busy and stressed with their work life!!!!! Here are a few common things that people have to say about Facebook:

I can't talk over the phone now I am busy - This means - My friend is online and I want to be back to Facebook. I can't miss being a part of some meaningless discussion. My online personality is more important than my real one.

I have N hundred friends in Facebook - This means all my life I struggled to make real friends and over the last few years have accepted every friendship request that has come across. If I need blood I will get links of blood banks, if I need to speak my heart out I have to chat and if I need some money I will see people offline!!!

I have to send some urgent mail - This means - There is nothing so urgent about me in my workplace I have to comment on people's status and pictures as I am seriously bored with my own pictures and status

I have to go for an urgent meeting - This means I don't want chat with you any more. I am bored with your talk. If you can sense it please do not disturb me again any time soon. By the way when I am bored and get you online I will ping you!!!

I don't check Facebook much - This means - I check Facebook regularly and am always logged in but offline mode. I want to show and publicly announce that I am busy and this is the best possible way in which I can do it.

I am seldom online - This means -I always used to be online but no one chats with me so choose to remain offline to protect my personal ego that I am important although others don't quite agree with the thought.

I still am loyal to Orkut - I haven't been able to figure out how Facebook works although tried doing it. The complexity here is too much and I feel home at Orkut where I play on my home ground!!!!

All this from work place and we are all busy in our office.....Wonder if some how Facebook could be integrated into daily work!!!!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Obama needs Manmohan more than vice versa

I remember former US President Bill Clinton’s visit to India in the year 2000 when I was in school. There was a lot of buzz around the visit as to what his itinerary would be, where he would stay and who he would visit. And why not, it was after a gap of 22 years that a US President was stepping into the Indian soil with Jimmy Carter being the last to do so in 1978. His five day stay and tour around Agra, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Mumbai besides Delhi was flashing all over the newspapers and the just launched 24 hour news channels back then. No, we did not have any Twitter, Black Berry or Facebook in that era.

After all we were a nation which was looking up to America for everything be it outsourcing IT jobs to us, lifting the sanctions imposed after the Pokhran nuclear test and off course the engine for our ‘fully indigenous’ Light Combat Aircrafts. Cut to 2010, Barack Obama has arrived in India on one of his first Presidential tour and there seems to more buzz but less excitement. Our 20 odd news channels might be busy covering ever millisecond of his stay and tweets are flying all across the world but to most intelligent men in India this visit is more about give than take.

US Consulate’s apology to the Maharashtra Chief Minister on the identity card row has proved that US is going to play on the back foot. On the last occasion when George Bush visited India in 2006 US secret service agents had the courage to take sniffer dogs to Raj Ghat to make full proof security arrangements. This time around the US seems to be in a mood to take anything from India as long as it gets some market penetration and gets to create jobs in US riding on our shoulders. Who on earth would have imagined this kind of a master plan by an American President even when George Bush visited four years ago!

No, Obama won’t be talking about outsourcing as he doesn’t want to disappoint India. And, certainly not when 200 cash starved CEOs are travelling with him to revive the economy back home and put the country on a single digit growth at least. When Obama invited Mahmohan Singh as his first Presidential guest the die was cast and India was the only way for America to get out of the financial mess it is in. China and India are the fastest growing economies but China exports more than it imports while in India’s case it was an import driven economy till about a decade ago but is balancing its foreign trade with respect to the United States.

Obama’s team includes more than 200 CEOs from Boeing Company to The McGraw Hill. As they say ‘the business of America is business” Obama’s trip is more of a corporate get-together than a Presidential visit. Obama entered the White House with a superman like image and two years down the line going by economic and political situation he doesn’t seemed to have lived up to this famous one-liner ‘Yes, we can’. In Uncle Sam’s country people already doubt his chances for a second term. New Delhi is the only tow boat that can anchor Obama’s giant ship full of promises to dock in Washington.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Is ‘Freedom of Speech’ being misused in India?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

In 2001 noted author and Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy stood against the death sentence of Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru. In August 2008 she expressed her support for the independence of Kashmir and on October 2010, at a seminar in Delhi named "Azadi – The only way", where Roy took part with Hurriyat Conference leader S.A.S.Geelani and Varavara Rao, Roy said that "Kashmir should get azadi from bhookhe-nange Hindustan". Article 19 of our constitution guarantees every citizen the ‘right to speech’ and time and again this has been both used and misused by the people of the country.

There have been calls in the political circle to book Roy for sedation under section 124 of IPC which states that “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India shall be punished to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

Should there be a cap on this right in India? Technically speaking any vibrant democracy in the world should ensure that each and every citizen has the right to express their views and opinion. But people like Arundhati Roy make uncalled for statements which threatens the internal security of India. Scores of Human Rights organizations and free society thinkers would back her in this. Where are they when our soldiers are stoned at? When their families are attached inside camps by the so called ‘azadi’ fighters? We never hear the Arundhati Roys speak then.

The big question that has emerged after Roy’s statement is should she be tried for sedation? Technically yes but politically no. If she is tried with sedation she would become another martyr for the separatists in the Kashmir valley. The international powers (read Pakistan and its ally China) would have wanted India to commit this error. It is quite popularly known who the powers behind this moment in Kashmir are and how much of a local Kashmiri freedom struggle is this. It is sad that authors who have been so much rewarded in the nation easily fall into the conspiracy of the separatists.

In most of the great nations across the world people like Roy would have been dealt seriously had they misused Freedom of Speech in this manner. Hypothetically if Kashmir is free tomorrow will Roy be able to make such a call for the Kashmiri Pundits? Going by the way most of the Islamic states around the world are run she will have to face a barbaric punishment which should have just remained in the history books. What’s more being a woman she would have never been able to make a statement if people like Geelani have their idea of Kashmir realised.

We should make sure we believe in one thing ‘nation first’ and such acts of treason shouldn’t be encouraged. Some people didn’t like partition, some want statehood others want reservations. Should we give in to the demands of all in the name of freedom of speech? When did these human rights messiahs champion the cause of an individual suffering Indian? It is easy to jump in mass moments to gain publicity but that should not be at the cost of security and integrity of a nation. Not all acts of freedom of speech can be tolerated and especially ones directed towards disintegrating the nation.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ayodhya Verdict: India shows maturity

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Amidst all the fear and apprehension Indian society has shown signs of maturity on the verdict of the Ayodhya title suit. For once majority of the politicians acted statesmanly over the issue and helped in preserving peace and tranquillity in the nation. Barring a few irresponsible like Mulayam Singh Yadav who wanted to play the vote bank politics by trying to appease the minorities our neta brigade behaved responsibly over the issue. There was wide spread speculations that the verdict would incite communal tension around the country like it had done post demolition of the Babri masjid in 1992.

The three judge bench of the Allahabad High Court comprising Justice DV Sharma, SU Khan and Sudhir Agarwal delivered the best possible judgement in the case which has been going on for over 60 years. All the three parties to the conflict the Sunni Wakf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas have got their share of the disputed structure. Now as the litigants prepare for further dual in the Supreme Court, peace prevails in the nation as of now.

There are some groups and politicians who are citing this as 2-1 verdict in favour of the Hindus and claim that the Muslims have been betrayed by the court. But what judgement would have been fair to the Muslims? Are they advocating for a complete hold of the disputed structure by a single group? Why should than Muslims hold the structure and not the Hindus? Wouldn’t such a decision have aroused communal tension in the nation accounting for thousands of lives?

In this historic judgement the judges had to consider many things- religious sentiments of the people, historical facts and the findings by the ASI. Agreed that demolishing a religious structure wasn’t something worth celebration but the same religious structure was built on a seventh century temple after having demolished it. The same place which is sacrad to millions of Hindus who consider it as the birth place of Lord Ram. True there are no historical evidence of this claim but when was religion based on evidence, isn’t it pure faith?

The disputed structure was known as Masjid-e-Janmasthan in popular culture which supports that argument that Hindus for centuries had celebrated it as the birth place of Ram. Nobody can deny that thousands of Hindu temples were destroyed across North India during the Mughal rule. Aurangzeb alone was thought to have destroyed more that ten thousand temples during his rule. Can these historical facts be denied in the name of pseudo secularism?

It is time we accept the verdict that has been given by the court and help restore peace and harmony between the two communities. Let there be a second mosque be built on the plot of land that will be allotted to the Sunni Wakf Board and let there be a Ram Mandir adjacent to that and both communities show harmony towards each other. The politicians especially ones like Mulayam who wants to rebuild his career making such inflammatory comments should be condemned by one and all.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Commonwealth Games only promises us shame

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

“Canada deeply concerned about Commonwealth village”, “Foot overbridge near main Games stadium collapses, 23 hurt”, and “Jersey express doubts over Delhi”. These are some of the headlines doing circles of the Internet less than a month before the biggest sporting event India has ever hosted kicks off. The pseudo patriots will say Canada is showing typical ‘white men’s attitude’, bridge collapse is just an accident and Jersey? Never heard of a country by that name! But all these headlines do really tell a story.

It has been four years since the last Commonwealth Games ended in Sydney and seven years since India beat Jamaica in its bid to host the games in the process becoming the first Asian country to do so. But going by the negative publicity that the games is receiving many would think India would have been better off not hosting the games if it cannot match up to the international standards. The final touches being still given to the venues shows the (un)professionalism we showed in our preparedness.

Commonwealth Games 2010 was meant to be more than a sporting event for India at least in the minds of the government and all the sporting bodies in India. China signalled its dominance to the world by putting up a splendid show during the Beijing Olympics, 2008. It not only won the most number of medals but gave a glimpse of its future to the world. Sporting events of this magnitude are not merely limited to sports. Adolf Hitler almost stole the show with the Berlin Olympics in 1936 only to be denied the last laugh by American athlete Jesse Owens.

There have been reports of wide spread corruption where Rs. 35000 Crores worth of taxpayer’s money has been used (read wasted) in earning the criticism of the global sporting community. Indians would have still accepted the corruption like we do in our everyday lives but the kind of shame that our unprepared stadiums and unprofessional attitude has brought is unacceptable. What did Shiela Dixit and her government do for seven years? Where was the Sport Authority of India and Indian Olympic Association busy all this while to have led us to this shame?

There were some optimists who wanted to bid for the 2020 or 2024 Olympic Games. Some in the sports ministry were optimist that the infrastructure would be ready by then! Let us not bring much more shame to the nation if we can’ make it proud. Our economy might be going hammer and tongs but our infrastructure and governmental attitude still belongs to the Third World. Fans like me would be waiting more for a honourable closing ceremony of the games so that we can save ourselves from more embarrassment.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ayodhya verdict not expected to settle issues

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The Allahabad High Court will deliver the much awaited verdict on the Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid on September 24. This will mark an important day in the 60 year old case which has been the epitome of a political movement for almost three decades now. Ever since the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, Ayodhya has been one of core issues in Indian politics which fuelled BJP’s rise to power and be seen as the best alternative to the Congress party.

Now as the Government prepares for the Law and Order situation in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in the country a few questions come to mind. Will the court deliver a decisive verdict? Will BJP and the Saffron brigade’s dream of building a Ram Temple in Ayodhya actually materialise? Or will the Babri Masjid Action - Reconstruction Committee smile their way out of the court?

The obvious response to a decisive verdict is a 'No'. It is not the evidence that will count in the court but the fear of the repercussions of a decisive verdict that will prevent a final verdict from being delivered. If the verdict is in black and white, there will be wide spread communal violence across the country. The memories of riots that followed 1992 will come alive again if any of the parties have the verdict on their side.

The Muslims won’t bow down to a temple being constructed over a demolished mosque. They will site this as an attack on the minorities in the country. On the other hand the BJP-VHP and other Saffron parties have every right to believe that a temple should be constructed on the site as the Archaeological Survey of India reported the evidence of a large 10th century structure similar to a Hindu temple having pre-existed the Babri Masjid.

It is a known fact that thousands of small and big temples were destroyed in India during the Mughal rule. Aurangazeb alone is said to have destroyed more than 10000 temples in India during his reign. Somnath Temple in Gujarat was destroyed as many as six times before being re-built after Independence. Those scholars who deny these truths of history might have hiccups in explaining why not a single temple in North India predates the Mughal rule where as similar temples more than millennia old have survived in South.

As a young man of mid 20s, many like me have grown up around the Ayodhya issue and it is high time that we bury the hatchet. Both the sides have to show some maturity if this issue needs to be settled for once and all. There is no legal verdict on the issue; it has to be a mutually accepted one. Hindu groups should not fell proud of having pulled down a place of worship at the same time the Muslim leaders shouldn’t forget the historical wrongdoings of their predecessors

The issue is compounded by the involvement of various political interests in the case. BJP is not the sole trouble maker as it was Rajiv Gandhi who opened the gates of the disputed structure and performed Shilanyas. Parties like BSP, SP and RJD should stop portraying themselves as the messiah of the minorities and playing cheap vote bank politics. It is high time we behave like a matured democracy and not just as the largest.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Is revoking AFSPA Kashmir problem’s solution?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Consider this scenario - The security forces are facing a hostile situation in Kashmir. The government has given them a safety net in the form of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act). In simple words the security forces have the ‘right to kill’. On the other hand it will be unable to take on the hostile situation where every potential door and window in the valley is a terrorist hideout. There are calls to revoke it at the same time such powers are necessary as they give the military teeth to fight. What does the government do?

If the Chief Ministership of Jammu & Kashmir is offered to our netas, a majority of them would like to turn it down. It is perhaps the most thankless political job in the country. Before being critical of Omar Abdullah or any of his future successors we should spare a thought by being at their shoes. Every incident can snowball into an agitation in Kashmir valley; a stray incident of stone pelting has the potential to bring the scenic land to a halt for weeks. As Jammu & Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah campaigns for phased withdrawal of AFSPA the Centre is in two minds over the issue.

Let’s get the facts straight, AFSPA has been time and again abused by certain sections of the military. Be it in killing innocent people in the name of terrorists or assaulting women even to the extent of rapes and murders. In the name of conducting routine checks our security forces have crossed the line may a times. The call for scrapping such an act isn’t unjustified if you have been a victim of the high handedness of man in the Khakhi with Kalashnikovs and INSAS rifles.

Will revoking such acts really help on the ground? It seems very unlikely as the security forces cannot technically observe restrain in the counter insurgency operation being carried out in the valley everyday. No political policy can be used to command the men in uniform what to do and what not to do. When fired upon the security forces think of no act before retaliation. When challenged by terrorists using the civilian population as shield no act can stop the security forces taking a shot at the terrorists.

Does it mean AFSPA should remain for ever? No, this will have to be phased out for prolonged peace in the sate and in the interest of the Kashmiri people. But it seems no time for revoking such an act as the situation in the valley is as hostile as it can get. Security forces are being pelted with stones everyday. If the Kashmiris want such an act to be scrapped they have work in the interest of Kashmir themselves. They have to shun leaders who take commands from across the territory and talk of jihad and crusade. If not, revoking such an act and restoring it later won’t bring in normalcy to the Kashmir Valley.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

When Bharat bandh is observed in Bengal!!!!

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The trade unions has called for a Bharat bandh under the leadership of Left backed Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). The 24 hour diktat is to bring government’s attention to price rise. The Bandh will be 100% successful in West Bengal, 50% in Kerala (half the Malyalee community is busy in Gulf’s oil exploration) and also in Tripura which will go unnoticed due to its fate of being a North Eastern state. In the rest of the country the trade unionists won’t be able to stop their family members from going to work.

In the last six months this is the third time that West Bengal is being crippled by a thing called a bandh. Wasn’t 5th of July also observed as a bandh in the state in protest against the price rise? Did it help in doing any good other than hitting the daily wage workers, patients, passengers and even politicians who are not wasting a single day campaigning for the upcoming Assembly elections? Who’s good did they do anyway?

A migrant taxi driver from Bihar told me that his co-drivers in the union do not want to accept such diktats from their union leaders. He said Bangali drivers band nehi chahata hai Dada (Even the Bengali drivers do not want a bandh). It shows that not all Bengalis are not communists who want such unplanned holidays even though the people sitting in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi opine so. A lady from whom I buy stationary said CPM er raj e khola rekechi dokan ebar ki bondo rakhbo (I kept my shop open in the heydays of the CPM rule, what fear do I have now?)

The Communists who are in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in Bengal are trying their last ditch effort to hold on to their own version of the ‘Red Fort’. But alas people of Bengal seem to have enough of them. Soviet Union the mother of Communism has shunned the obsolete ideology about two decades back, China has turned into a Ultra Capitalist nation but the leaders here fail to read between the lines. Do we hear such strikes in China whom our Left leaders patronise? The Left will never tell this truth to the people of Bengal!

They should read the writing on the wall and think about a honourable farewell from the state they have ruled for more that three decades. Adolf Hitler committed suicide to have an honourable exit from history rather than fall into the hands of the Allied forces. Honour is the greatest jewel that a leader can earn. They have a few more months in power and should utilise it in building Bengal and not breaking it into parts.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Unsung Talent of Bengal

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

It is not quite often that we write a blog post on a barber (read barber, not hair stylist). Shahrukh Khan once made a movie and I am writing a blog post. I just happened to visit a barber in my locality for the second time for a hair trim as I call it. Receding hairline also does need a visit to a barber once a month! A Calcutta barber is never free and so he was occupied with a client (that’s what they call a customer in B schools).

As my turn came and I sat on the chair, I started explaining him what I wanted. He questioned me same as last time? I was shocked as to how on earth did he remember what I wanted when I had visited him only once in the past. He might have served at least a thousand customers in the last one month. I felt privileged as in this urban madness of Calcutta a barber happened to recall what I want.

As he was about to finish with my side locks, I asked him to trim them a bit with his straight razor and he gave me my second shocker. But last month you didn’t want it trimmed? I had forgotten what I wanted last month but he didn’t. When I was paying him the money I asked him how he managed to remember all these details. He replied me ‘It’s my job’. In a B school this would be termed competitive advantage, USP or in the most secretive case as trade secret!

This is the grassroot talent of Bengal which needs to be harnessed. In my two and a half years of stay in Bangalore I went to the same saloon but never experienced such service although I paid twice the amount there than what I did today. This is the unsung worker of Bengal who works as a thorough professional and doesn’t complain about salary hikes and join the bandh brigade every month.

Now my next door barber never went to a B school, he never went for any professional course to learn his art. He doesn’t know a thing about Customer Satisfaction Management nor does he maintains Excel Sheets to measure his quarterly performance. He has never read boring case studies of StarBucks or IBM. He hasn’t wasted his time in mugging up things which will mean very little in his day to day professional life. This proves the theory you can’t make a businessman teaching him Management theories.

He is smatter than many of us who think they are the most important factor in their organizations. He just knows his art and knows it really well. He doesn’t run around looking for employment but creates his own. This is a case study that should find a place in our B Schools alas that will never happen as StarBucks literate management graduates will try to market things in India where close to 60% of the product sale happens in the unorganised sector. Who is smatter, us or the barber?


Monday, August 30, 2010

Pakistan tryst with match fixing continues

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Scyld Berry the editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack wrote in Australia’s renowned newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald wrote “It is only natural that cricketers - or some of them at least - should reflect the society from which they come. And Pakistan is, and has been almost throughout its existence, riddled with corruption.” This after the world of cricket has been dragged to another major match fixing scandal, the biggest perhaps since the last which threatened the game in the year 2000.

Many might call this as a very racist remark considering it comes from an Englishman whose historical and cultural respect for Asians is nobody’s guess. But isn’t it also true that when people are citizens of failed democracy who see corruption all around, are they to have the same kind of pride and respect for their nation. When these cricketers see their counterparts in India making millions aren’t they tempted to cross the line? That’s the entire point in Berry’s argument.

The defence for this cannot be strong as Pakistani team historically has been no saint’s army. The team has had a history of being in the news for all the wrong reasons in all its years cricketing history. From tampering with the ball to fighting in the pubs the team has done it all in the past. The team which is packed with talent has crossed the danger line too often to give it any benefit of doubt. This is not the first time that the Pakistani team’s name has been dragged into a match fixing controversy.

Be it the 1999 World Cup’s loss versus Pakistan or loss to minnows Ireland in the last edition of the mega event which even lead to coach Bob Wolmer’s suspicious death, Pakistani cricket has always had its shades of grey. Facing commissions and enquiries for such occurrences is nothing new for the Pakistani team as generations of players right from Imran Khans to the Shahid Afridis have faced questioning related to match fixing, use of drugs, ball tempering and even a mysterious death of a coach.

England’s dramatic comeback in the allegedly fixed test match and Pakistan’s school boyish bowling performance might just be one of those natural happenings in the game of cricket. But to the naked eyes it seems too much to be true. Millions of cricket fans around the world will be hoping that Pakistani players come out clean of this as this has the potential to tarnish the game like it did a decade ago.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why the travelling Bengalis failed to notice Bengal’s decline?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

In my childhood I was always told that a frog which stays in the well doesn’t realise how vast the ocean is. Most Bengalis would have heard this in their childhood. Bengalis are by no chance the frog whose habitat is his well. Ask any tour operator in India and he will vouch on the fact that this is one of the most travelling communities in India. The annual Puja vacation in autumn has thousands of Bengalis travelling all around the country visiting new places, learning new cultures and tasting new food.

What surprises me is the fact that despite this most of us failed to notice Bengal’s decline compared to growth across the country. A majority patronised the idealism preached by the Marxists who have been in power for a shade too long than it should be in an ideal democracy. Others seemed to have turned a complete blind eye on Bengal’s road to insignificance in context of the nation and its growth engine. But how is it that such a thing was allowed to happen when people from the state have been seeing the growth of other places in the country?

The staunch followers of Marxism would give many arguments of how Left’s rule has benefited the state, But there are enough counter theories to prove how the extended Left Hand Drive has had a catastrophic effect on not just the Bengal but on the Bengali society as a whole. Do we command the same respect that we did in a pre-independent India or years just following Independence? Are we giving leadership to the nation as we did in the past? Have we produced the same number of eminent politicians, scientists, poets and social reformers in our recent years? What has pushed us into this backwardness?

Famous freedom fighter Gopal Krishna Gokhle had once said “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.” Are we even a shade closer to this statement today? What has pushed Calcutta to become a declining metro? Although there are signs of change all around the city but we shouldn’t ignore decades of darkness that we have gone through. Do these idealist leaders who have ruled the sate for so long answer these questions? For them idealism is the best way perhaps to not answer the facts of actualism.

Most of our idealist leaders were beneficiary of our glorious past. They went to institutes like London School of Economics but the moment they came to power they closed such doors for their subjects in the state. Why has the traveller Bengali failed to see the signs of progress elsewhere and notice the decline at home? Why has the traveller Bengali failed to punish these people who have betrayed the Bengali society? The day perhaps we have answer to these questions we will see the change.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Calcutta can rise from its ashes again

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

It was once known as the ‘City of Palaces’ and the place to be during the might of the British Empire. Years of stagnation has made this metropolis as a model of ‘what not to do’ and a place which no longer features on the Indian investment map let alone the global one. A city where the history of the Indian sub-continent was written for more than a century is in sorry state. Apart from the emotional attachment of its inhabitants (mainly Bengalis) it has had very little claim to fame in the post independent India.

It has been exactly six months that I landed here after having a nice career in Bangalore for close to three years. I see a Calcutta which has the potential to define business in the coming years. My point of view might be totally contrary to the great economic thinkers of the state and the country, but that may be because I am not as educated as them! It may be because I see more potential in Calcutta (thanks to its underdevelopment) than these people. This city can change and for which it needs to take a few bold steps. Some of which I think are:

  • There needs to be a change in the attitude and people need to install some pride for their city. My friend who came to this city looking for a job was asked the same question again and again in all her interviews. Why Calcutta, why not Delhi or Bangalore? She gave the smartest and the wittiest answer possible “Give your city a chance.” Rome, London, New York, Bangalore or Mumbai wasn’t built by men who didn’t have pride for their own city.
  • The local manufacturing industries (what ever exists thanks to trade unionism) have a huge local market in the state and the surrounding areas, close to a population of 200 million (including NE and neighbouring states) and should focus on that. They should draw maximum mileage out of the cost advantage that the city and the state has.
  • Calcutta’s economic policies shouldn’t be decided on the same line as that of Bengal’s. The city is a state in itself and its policies should reflect that of Mumbai and Bangalore. Both Maharashtra and Karnataka have their economic problems but their capitals have become dream destinations for job seekers. If Calcutta flourishes the tremors of development will be felt all across the state. Let is be a epicentre of development.
  • English should be brought back into mainstream eduction. The decision to revoke it was a pin prick in Calcutta’s heart. It is ironical that no great Bengali author or poet of global recognition has emerged out of the state since Bengali was chosen as the language in the state. Our biggest pride Rabindranath Tagore was a beneficiary of the Anglo-Saxon world. The Left policy should have produced many more noble laureates. Let’s give our kids a ‘competitive advantage’ as you one need it to compete.
  • Politics is not for all and it’s high time that people realise this fact. The problem with Bengal and this city in particular has been that most of the people have thought themselves as the next potential leader! We need to have active participation in politics in a good democracy but not at the cost of our karma (work/profession). Karma e Dharma (work is worship), people shouldn’t forget that and leave politics to the politicians.
  • Aristocracy isn’t bad and it shouldn’t be denounced which certain politicians championed. Educated and wealthy men were not welcome in the City and they bid adieu. The huge migration of the intellectuals and business magnets from this city has hit it hard over the years. Amartya Sen, Laxmi Mittal, Vijay Malya, Prannoy Roy, Manna Dey and the list goes on. All these men were born in the City but migrated elsewhere for their great achievements in life. How many people in the same period migrated into the City and achieved something great?

In my observation these are a few things that we can do to make this city happen again. Rajiv Gandhi once said “Calcutta is a dying city.” All Bengalis were up in arms against him although in our heart we knew he wasn’t wrong. Cities are born and they do die and from the ashes rises another new powerful one. Perhaps it is time for a renaissance in Calcutta and in Bengal. Shall we accept this challenge or keep on singing the praises of our glorious past. The choice is all ours.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Last Communist of Bengal

By: Pritam Bhattacharya

As political communism seems to bid farewell in Bengal after thirty odd years, the batting has little to say except the tenacity of being at the crease for such a long time and it spurs me to write this post, a complementary to The Last Imperialist of Bengal. If political communism’s comeback in other climes and times are an indicator, Bengal might be bidding farewell to Communism and comeback may be very very far away, for good for for worse.

Who was/is the last Communist of Bengal ?

I think the answer is this, paraphrasing Nietzsche : The Last Christian died on the Cross.

The Last Communist of Bengal is a poet and writer who was out and out a Bengali and aristocrat (I mean this in the Burkian sense – through a habit of mind and not in the sense of অভিজাত as understood by semi and para-literate media hordes of Contemporary Bengal) and I would say : Mr. Asoke Mitra.

Why ?

1. He has been one of the rarest men of Bengal who sensed and articulated the loss of Civilization and High Mental Life in Bengal – echoing his own Bengali essay Calcutta 1969. He had an excellent, self-forged and elegant prose style in Bengali (I read almost none of his works in English – I admit). I think two hundred years hence and with the hope that in this period, Bengal will not be completely savage as far as mental life is concerned, a future historian would have sufficient distance and the freedom of judgement, cleansed of all contemporary incentives or disincentives, very few of the communist era will even merit mention. Mr. Mitra, I judge will be remembered.

2. He carried, cultured and respected the vanishing traces of Bengal’s Rennessaiance although not tempted not too infrequently and occassionally succumbing to the fashionable hubris of his time. We can readily pardon him for that because time itself was like this.

3. He is the only, yes only individual who has something else to say to those people who have little interest as how many processions, gherao, lock-out happened where and by whom and how many people beated, collared and hollared this and that. He has a long literary work documenting the decades of fifty and beyond.

4. He has been a lover of Calcutta where he came very young and the remnants of high mental life (his essay on Buddhadeb Basu should have been taught to party workers/cadres and leaders more as a primer to teach the art of as how to disagree yet to show respect where it is due) attracted him. He has described this elegantly and in parts, poetically. Here in last thirty years of political communism, he has no comrade near him. He shines in a singular aristocracy.

And now, I am going to discover a connection between the Last Imperialist of Bengal and her Last Communist – a connection which tells me something very deep about Bengal’s historical duty to Civilization.

Nirad C , the last Imperialist of Bengal declares from Oxford, in 1990s, Calcutta in the writhing agony of a Cadre State (a form of state where citizen = cadre) – ‘In matter of High Culture, there is no other community in India who can even match, let overtake Bengalis. In the last days of my Life, I find no hesitation in telling this.

Asoke Mitra, the last Communist of Bengal, in protest against imposition of Hindi as a national language and reflecting on Bangladesh’s autonomy on the language which is our common heirloom.

The Last Imperialist and Last Communist of Bengal joins in a common plane and I would like to call this plane a community’s siganture tone, its most encrypted code, its inner drive : Cultural Destiny of Bengal is different from her political destiny.

As an era bids adieu in Bengal, I remain in great anxiety in grappling with this Destiny.

This blog has been contributed by Priram Bhattacharya. He runs his translation and communications company Wordsmith Communication and is a regular blogger anfd writes on his blog Wordsmith of Bengal.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Our cities aren't global as yet!

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata have barely make the grade of global cities. New Delhi and Mumbai are placed at the 45th and 46th places while Kolkata makes it to the 63rd spot in the list of 65 cities around the world. Our neighbours on the west and east also have made it to the list with Karachi, the only Pakistani metropolis being ranked 60, and Bangladesh capital Dhaka grabbing the 64th spot.

The top three are quite New York, London and Tokyo while Paris, Hong Kong, Chicago, Los Angeles, Singapore, Sydney and Seoul make it to the top ten of the prestigious list released by the Foreign Policy magazine in collaboration with A T Kearney and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Bejing which wowed the world with the 2008 Summer Olympics makes it to the 15th spot which will be a huge jewel in the crown for China which recently became the second largest economy in the world overthrowing mighty Japan.

So why are we ranked so low in the list? Poor infrastructure, poor civic facilities, poor connectivity are some of the main reasons for this dismal ranking. There is a section of Indians who will blame overpopulation as the main cause of this backwardness but Tokyo with a population of 13,010,279 and Bejing with 22,000,000 disapprove these theories. Population alone cannot be blamed for the incompetence in the system. We have a huge population and we have to make policies accordingly.

Another reason many would site is the huge rural to urban migration that India sees. Every day hundreds of people from across the country head towards the big cities in search of a better life. But isn't this true with every metropolis in the world? Doesn't New York and Tokyo also see such migration each day. They have to face migration not just from their own coutries but from around the world.

India wants to be the next big superpower but if we rank in such manner we can be one of the big countries in the world but definitely not a superpower. Our governmental policies promote bigger urban villages which sadly most of our metros have become rather than world class cities. Kolkata was once known as the 'City of Palaces' and people wrote poem's on its beauty. But when the white men left the city they took away the skills to govern a city as well. Same is the story with New Delhi and Mumbai.

There is a problem in the way we approach development. Our so called 'poor man's politicians' stress on making the lives of the poor better. In the end they create Dharavis around the country which become the den for criminal politician nexus. The betterment of the cities would equally benefit the poor and the rich if our planning is practical. We need to grow up and take the lead. It's high time we develop some world class cities in India.


Sector V, Calcutta

By: Pritam Bhattacharya

I had been in a meeting in Sector V, recently. I could see bustle of activities and plenty of men in their late twenties and mid thirties breezily discussing the stress they are in and the hard challenges of professional life. They are truthful and telling the truth. Their life is really stressful and and except for something like ppm (parts per million), none of this class would leave anything substantial in their professional work that would outlive the next quarter, or next profit margin or the next project.

The reason is simple : In a deadline driven world where the office (and its roll) is some blip for someone thousands of miles away and few having an urge to refuse to live an Un-examined Life, the work itself is a Skinnerian Rat-Experiment. I heard somewhere that Nietzsche said that in certain special situation, the Urge to Work is a form of sickness. I am sure that many of these young men feel like being ‘sick’ while they pull themselves up for work in the morning. Add to this the daily commute in Calcutta – a brew of Middle Age Europe, Brownian Motion, Stoic Philosophy, Marxian motion of proletariat and extermination of traffic order, Neuro-Ambulatory advantage of honking, Traffic Policing in Post Modern Marxism.

I grew up in a quiant town in North East India but subscribed to many periodicals of Calcutta (late seveties) and read many translations of classics in Bengali. Most of the translations were excellent. Later I came to know that the translators were doing this as a hobby and not with the slightest aspiration of buying a posh flat in Calcutta’s gated communities. They did this because they loved it. They introduced me to Captain Nemo, Sherlock Holmes, Edmond Dantes, David Copperfield, Professor Moriarty, James Jeans, Neville Cardass and many others.

Without these Bengali translators of Calcutta, my Life would have been of such abject poverty that I would have remained as poor as a typical Cadre of Contemporary Calcutta even though the whole city would have been owned by me or my co-gangs in various forms.

What did these Bengalis get for their work ? A pittance as far as book sales are concerned because the typical Bengali publisher generally denies the author his/her due.

But they have the ever lasting gratitude of men and women of our generation. I more I grow my gratitude seems to increase for these people who made me unthinkably rich. Rich beyond any bania driven culture’s estimation of riches.

I thought of asking these busy, well-paid, well-dressed and apparently doing well gentlemen of Bengali origin : After thirty years, how many people are going to be in everlasting thankfulness to you for gifts you have given them ?

The answer, my friend is blowing in the Wind.

This blog has been contributed by Priram Bhattacharya. He runs his translation and communications company Wordsmith Communication and is a regular blogger anfd writes on his blog Wordsmith of Bengal.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Omar gets the shoe in Kashmir

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

One of the best ways to express protest against politicians these days seems to be by throwing a shoe at them. J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah became the latest victim in the shoe gate when constable Abdul Ahad Jan hurled his shoe at the CM. Omar had just finished unfurling the national flag and was in attention position as the National Anthem was being played. He now joins the elite club with former US President George Bush, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zadari.

In all these cases the shoe thrower have been hailed by the people who have had their recent against these leaders. Jan who is said to be a mentally disturbed cop as been hailed by people who have been agitating in the valley for over two months now. The protest which have claimed close t50 lives have exposed incompetence of the J&K government. Omar who does the most thankless job in the world (being J&K's CM) has been criticised for his actions or rather in-actions in the last few months.

For the protestors it is perhaps the best way to register their protest against the government but does very little to change governmental policies. Abdul Ahad Jan might have done personally done himself a lot of good but he has put a slap on Kasmi's face in front of the entire country. In the last two months Kashmir has been in the news for all the wrong reasons and this incident will do very little to get rid of the bad publicity.

These sort of incidents have no place in a democracy, if one still exists in Kashmir valley thanks to the two Ms militancy and military. The Kashmiri seperatists leaders might hail this act but this will hardly make any change in Kashmir. A few frontpage headlines will be published on the issues and it will find place in a few blogs of people like mine. Where is the achievement in all this?

One thing it will surely do is make the leaders more inaccessible to the ordinary Kashmiris. It is easy for the security forces to chek for bombs and grenades in such places than to judge the intent of a person to throw a shoe. It is high time people in Kashmir realise that they alone are responsible for how their community is looked at by the world. Weather they want to be looked as dwellers of a beautiful place of secessionists as many people drub then. The choice lies with Kashmiris


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Interesting facts about Indian Independence Day

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

15th August is an important day in the history of India. It was on this day that we bid adieu to our colonial masters the British after a rule which lasted for 190 years from the Battle of Palassy. It was on this day a new independent nation was born which would go on to become the largest democracy in the world. Here are few interesting facts that I discovered on the Internet from hours of surfing everyday

Why 15th August? Lord Mountbatten the last Viceroy and first Governor General of India wanted to show that he was in command and decide on the day India would gain independence. He chose the date August 15th as was the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender to the Allied Forces.
We Share It – We are not the only one who celebrate out Independence day on 15th of August. We hare it with three other countries. South Korea won its independence from Japan on 15th August 1945, Bahrain from UK in 1971 and Republic of the Congo from France in 1960

Missing Person – The greatest irony of the 15th August 1947 celebration was the fact that Mahatma Gandhi one of the greatest architects of the Independence moments did not participate in the celebrations. He kept fast for the entire day and was busy dousing the flames of communal violence in Bengal between the Muslims and Hindus.

Tryst With Destiny - Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gave his famous speech titled “Tryst with Destiny” towards midnight on 14th August 1947 to the Indian Constituent Assembly. He wasn’t technically the Prime Minister as it wasn’t yet 15th August.

Why Pakistan Was Born Before – Lord Mountbatten as the last Viceroy of undivided British India has to attend both the ceremonies in Karachi and New Delhi. To avoid a clash between the two Pakistan's independence day was celebrated on 14th August and thus every year Pakistan’s independence preceded that of India’s.

Colonial Hangover - Lord Mountbatten had ceased to be Viceroy of India. The Indian Constituent Assembly treated his arrival to that of a king. The Indian’s were still to get over from the colonial hangover. He was given the seat of honour, the President having vacated his in favour of the distinguished visitor.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Congress should stop defaming Narasimha Rao

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Hear it from the horses mouth, Arjun Singh has finally broken his silence on the release of Union Carbide Chief Warren Anderson in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy case 26 years ago. The wheelchair bound leader has blamed former Prime Minister and then Home Minister PV Narasimha Rao for helping Anderson feel India. Arjun Singh proved his loyalty to the Gandhi family by giving a clean chit to then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Questions need to be asked on Arjun Singh's revelation. How was it that a Home Minister could take such a decision without the Prime Minister despite being a Gandhi had no say in it? According to Singh's claim Rajiv's immediate concern was about the compensation that the victims would get. Had the Prime Minister forgotten about a more fundamental thing called justice? What explains Rajiv's non-action in the entire issue?

Arjun Singh's revelation comes as no surprise as he has done everything to protect the interests of the Congress Party and more importantly the Gandhi family. Narasimha Rao has already been disowned by the Congress and it makes perfect sense for the leaders to make him a scapegoat on the issue. If sycophancy ever needs an example, Arjun Singh has given us a perfect one. His silence was better than his version of truth!

This is not the first time that the Congress has defamed PV Narasimha Rao. They had earlier put the entire blame of Babri Masjid demolition on the former leader. Rao is no longer alive to defend himself and it seems ideal for the Congress to pile all their wrong doing on his grave. Rajiv Gandhi in his capacity as the Prime Minister should have immediately resigned if his Home Minister had overtaken him in decision making.

It his high time that the Congress government stop defaming one of India's finest Prime Ministers. There has been a conspiracy to denounce all the economic development and growth in the Rao era from within the Congress. The reason is very simple no Gandhi can take credit in what happened during that period. So in the interest of the Congress and the larger interests of the Gandhi family it makes perfect sense for Arjun Singh to make such statements.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Politicians should not demoralise security forces

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Mamata Banerjee at her rally in Lalgarh was bound to have some controversy and she did. The maverick leader from Bengal whose rally was attended by the Maoist sympathisers (PCPA) in huge numbers condemned "the manner" in which Maoist spokesperson Cherukiri Rajkumar, alias Azad, was "killed" in Andhra Pradesh last month. It seemed as if the Trinamool Congress leader was speaking on the same lines as the Left wing rebels who alleged that Azad was killed in cold blood.

Who was Azad? Was he a social worker working for the destitutes? Was he a spiritual leader, preaching peace? No, he was a hardcore Maoist leader who was trying to overthrow democray in India. The same democracy that gives people like Mamta a chance to speak their mind. In a Maoist India she would have been shot dead for making such a statement questioning the act of the government and the security forces in the country.

Social activist Swami Agnivesh might have been trying to act as a self styled peacemaker between the government and the Left wing extremists. He wasn't appointed by the government and thus the security forces were under no moral or combat obligation to not deal with Maoists (read anti-socials) like Azad. Maoists haven't announced any unilateral ceasefire for the government and the security forces to observe restrain.

These sort of political populism do one thing very well, they demoralise the security forces in the country. The men in khaki who are fighting in alien environment deserve some more support from the politicians in the country. Why did Mamata do this? Political mileage is the word and Mamata seems to have learnt the art to use it for her political gains. Her obsession to sit in Writers is making her forget the responsibility as a Union Cabinet Minister.

This is not the first time that the Trinamool chief has made such a statement. She had earlier raised questions about the Batla house encounter in Delhi where Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma has sacrificed his life fighting the terrorists. If that was to reach out to the minority community the fresh bid is to become popular in backward areas of Bengal where the Maoists are running the show. The same Mamata had once made the insane statement that there were no Maoists in Bengal.

Maoists guerrillas have been facing the music ever since Operation Green Hunt was launched. In their bid to create pressure the government to call it off they are trying every possible tr ick in the book. Mamata should understand her responsibility as a Union Minister and citizen of this country and should stop becoming a pawn in the hands of the Maoists She will not be able to run such political shows if India falls in the wicked hands of the Maoists.


The separatists do not want a Kashmir solution

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Imagine this, the hardliners in Kashmir Valley want the Indian government to demilitarise the zone for peace in the valley. It is like asking fire tenders to quit the job when a building is burning. The recent spate of violence in the valley has polarised the people so much that an average Kashmiri youth is forced to believe that if Indian security forces quit the valley the entire place will become a heaven for peace.

The question however is why does India need to mobilise close to half of its active battle force alone in one state? Were Indian security forces always present in the valley in such heavy numbers? No, it was since the start of the armed separatist moment in the state in the 1980s that India mobilised so much of its security forces and turned it into a battle zone. What else could have a government done.

One of the major problem which prevents any solution to the Kashmir issue lies in the fact that the separatist leaders take their orders from across the border. As soon as Pakistan’s position falls weak on Kashmir, there are incidents of violence and a long propaganda that the ISI and the Pakistani government run. The ordinary Kashmiris are nothing but pawns in the hands of our western neighbours.

Pew Foundation an independent agency recently did an extensive survey on Kashmir and came out with some surprising results. A sizeable majority of Kashmiris want to become an independent nation whereas only 2% are interested in merging with Pakistan. This has come as a shock for the Pakistan backed jihadis and military commanders. This figure now questions Pakistan’s legitimacy to the Kashmir issue.

In such a scenario the best Pakistan and hardliners backed by it thought of instigating violence in the valley. It serves two purpose, shows India and the security forces in bad light and also gives Pakistan an issue to address the global leaders. The Pakistani administration is struggling hard to make the world believe that it is not a factory of terrorism for the world.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

A lot of wealth in 2010 Commonwealth Games

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Imagine this, the budget of the New Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010 has shot up by 1500 percent! Cost escalation and delay of projects is nothing new in India but the figure is of course good enough to scare the most inefficient and corrupt souls of the past. If this is not enough, new corruption deals are coming to light everyday. It shows how taxpayer’s money has landed in the pockets of a few in organizing the games.

How could such a blunder have happened in planning for the games which will test organizers and the people of Delhi in the days to come. It was with a huge sense of pride that India had welcomed the Commonwealth Games. It was a good chance to showcase that the once colonial nation had moved on to become one of the fastest growing economies of the world. It was a chance to show that to the erstwhile colonial masters among others.

Although culturally we have never looked as sports as a serious affair it has become a serious business in India. All our sports bodies are headed by a cartel of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen. Where are our sports stars? Well they find their place in the back pages of the newspaper and listen to the dictation of these masters. The most famous sport in the country – cricket is a perfect example of this.

With close to 35000 crores involved in the games many things which are unimaginable in other countries are happening. Treadmills which cost Rs. 4 lakhs are being rented for Rs. 10 lakhs for 45 days. The cost of hiring a cab in London has gone up from £250 to £ 50 a day. All the contracts for the games seem to be landing at the door of the family and friends of the organizing committee.

In the summer of 2008, Beijing hosted the summer Olympics and showed to the world what was to come in this century. It was an event which had no precedent in the history although the western media was trying to highlight the flaws. The event showed China’s urge to announce that their time had come. Will the Common Wealth Games do anything similar for India? We should feel content if we can successfully pull the games off!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why so much fuss about WikiLeaks report?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

This is touted at being one of the biggest war leaks in American history. There is huge furore in Washington and Islamabad over reports that ISI provided funds to Taliban to act against India. The report also rubbishes Pakistan’s stand against the good Taliban (which acts against India) and the bad Taliban (which carries out attacks on the American and NATO troops in the Pak-Afghan border.)

The massive 90000 page leak reveals the ISI had offered $15000 to the Taliban to kill some Indian contractor in Afghanistan. Other documents that have mentioned information regarding India and Pakistan, state that from the period of 2004 to 2007, it has been confirmed from the website that the ISI was under the command of the Pakistani army chief, General Parvez Ashfaq Kayyani.

The big question here is why is so much fuss being made around this? Is this something that people in Washington did not know about? The Indian government and people in India did not need any intelligence leak to know about these revelations. New Delhi has been constantly making appeals to Washington on the issue of ISI funding jihad and helping Al Qaeda and other terrors groups in the region.

An American Congressman said that “Pakistan is digging its grave by funding the Taliban” What is the United States doing in this? Helping Pakistan to dig this grave faster and better? It is no surprise that US funds are being used to plan 26/11 like attacks in India which are being fully supported by the Pakistani army and its rouge intelligence agency the ISI. Do these new stories surprise people in United States?

The reports also say that ISI had ordered an attack on the Indian embassy in Afghanistan. It is no surprise that America has been turning a blind eye to all this and waiting for an escape route out of Afghanistan. So why create so much fuss out of an open secret? It is high time the US realises that that anti Soviet campaign resulted in the birth of an Osama Bin Laden and the present campaign will be no different. Perhaps US will wake up after a second 9/11 style attack.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kayani’s extension proves who calls shots in Pakistan

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Democracy has one major fault line; it has too many protocols which prevents people from choosing the obvious. In feudal times peace negotiations would happen between real centres of power. In democracy however there are lot of rules and by rules to be followed which at times prevents people from taking a more practical decision. The Indo-Pak peace process is a major example to this theory.

In Pakistan General Ashfaq Kayani is the real power but the Indian leadership is forced to talk to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani due to our democratic protocol. These people hardly have any power other than acting as ceremonial leaders. In Pakistan the three centres of power are the military, terrorists and the radicals among which military is the only institutionalised centre of power.

In 1999, then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had made the famous bus trip to Lahore and signed the Lahore Declaration with Pakistani PM Nawaz Shariff. Pakistan replied India with Kargil in less than six months. It was a certificate on the theory that the civilian leadership in Pakistan is nothing more than the official seal. It doesn’t give orders to the army rather listens to it and at times takes call from it also.

Kayani who has taken the mantle of the army from Pervez Musharraf has forced the government to extend his term by another three years. This is quite ironic as in 2008 he had replaced Musharraf on the country wide pretext that the former President was turning into a dictator. History repeats itself in Pakistan, the only difference being that this time the decision has been endorsed by a civilian government (read under tremendous pressure). The reason Kayani’s leadership is important for the fight against terrorists!

The former director general of the dreaded ISI is not known to be too fond of India and New Delhi doesn’t like him either. His term extension has now become a worrying factor for the Indian leadership who want to start dialogue with Pakistan. It would be wise for the Indian leadership to talk to a man who holds power in Pakistan rather than to ceremonial heads it it wants to take the peace process forward.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Muralitharan finishes with just 800 wickets!

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The title might seem insane for many as the Muralitharan Muttaiah the best off spinner that the game of cricket has perhaps seen will no longer be seen donning the whites for his country. Although 800 wickets is no mean achievement he could have easily gone to become the first bowler in the history of the game to grab 1000 wickets! His form and fitness seemed good enough for him to carry on for a few more years.

Murali had come to the Galle match needing 8 wickets to reach the milestone no cricketer had achieved in the 147 year old history of the Gentlemen’s Game. Most cricketers would not have the guts to announce retirement without reaching the milestone. But the magician from Sri Lanka knew he could grab 8 scalps against an Indian side who had played him relatively well and could have stopped him a single digit short of the achievement.

The first innings wicket of Sachin Tendulkar would be a moment for Murli to cherish as one of the best rivalries of the game came to an end with Murali having the last laugh. It would take decades for cricket fans to see such sights in the game again. Three Indian heads in the second innings wasn’t going to be tough for Murali but the cricket god was in no mood to deny one of his favourite sons the last laugh.

In what seemed a script straight out of a Bollywood movie, the off spin master had to wait for the last Indian wicket in the second innings to achieve this feat. When the last Indian wicket of Pragyan Ojha fell even the Indian fans seemed happy after all it was a deserved achievement for the man who had made cricket a better game facing all odds. His career could have easily ended in 1994 when Darrel Hair called him for chucking had it not been for then Sri Lankan skipper Arjuna Ranutanga.

With Murali a era in spin bowling comes to an end with Shane Warne and Anil Kumble already hung their boots. Murali will be always remembered as a true gentleman in the game which doesn’t see too many of them anymore. He was one of the best ambassadors of the game his generation. To break his record in the future a bowler would not just need great bowling skills but a lion’s hear. Adieu Murali!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Are we expecting too much from Pakistan?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

There has been huge hue and cry over the relative failure of India-Pakistan foreign ministers’ talks. This after Pakistani side wriggled out of the talks after India disclosed of the David Coleman Headle’s link with the Pakistani intelligence service the ISI. The Pakistani side which had been lying low due to the US pressure suddenly got a shot in the arm to make a mockery out of the talks. This left our foreign minister SM Krishna dejected who had gone to Islamabad with high hopes and huge promises.

The big question that arises here aren’t we expecting too much from Pakistan? Did people in the Indian intelligence and security agencies expect Pakistan to own up the link? The government has been sending multiple dossier to Pakistan relating to the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai but has Pakistan acted? Or rather do we expect the Pakistani establishment to act tough with the perpetrators of terror? The answer is known to most people around the world but as far as official records are concerned we are not willing to accept the obvious.

Most people in India have believed that Kashmir is the bone of contention between the two nations. But the main problem lies in the political and military culture that has developed in the two nations over the last 63 years since independence and subsequent partition. While India developed into a well functioning democracy (at least on papers), Pakistan is yet to come to term with itself. It is neither a democracy, nor a military ruled state which faces the fear of being run over by militants. In this situation we should not be singing the tunes of diplomacy with Pakistan.

While India is striving towards becoming one of the largest economies in the world, Pakistan is trying hard to hold a nation together. The Frankenstein monster that it had created to wage a proxy war against India is slowly biting it on its head. There is complete lawlessness in the tribal areas of the north and demand for independence in the Balochistan region. In such situations the military and the intelligence are left loose. The result is a Mumbai attack which most likely was backed by the ISI. But the Indian side shouldn’t expect any strong actions by the government on ISI.

Waging a proxy war against India is not just a mania but a need for Pakistan. It allows it to divert attention from its own domestic affairs where people from Punjab, Sindhi, Balochistan and northern tribal areas have enough differences between them to be a one nation. In such a situation a proxy war is the only solution for Pakistan to preserve its integrity. In such situations should we expect the Pakistani side to take concrete steps against an agency which holds the grip over integrity of the nation?


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do we need a Railway Minister?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The latest of the train tragedy involving Uttarbanga Express and Vananchal Express at Sainthia station has some of the common things associated with every railway accident in India. The opposition calling for the head of the Railway Minister, high profile visits to the site, promise of compensation (which doesn’t reach 90% of the people) and the usual setting up of the enquiry commission by the railways whose report will lie in some corner of one of the zonal headquarter of the Indian Railways.

The worst among all these is the mud slinging that politicians resort to in the hour of human crisis. This has been true cutting across party lines on whoever has been in power and opposition. Ram Vilas Paswan asked Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee to choose between Railways and West Bengal. BJP demanded for her resignation and the Congress just condoled the death of the victims trying its best not to anger one of its maverick allies. Such political flings in such tragic situations bring shame to everybody except our politicians.

The Railway Ministry is one of the cream portfolios in the Union Cabinet. It is more preferred by politicians of the backward states. It is no wonder that in the last 20 years barring a brief period of C. K. Jaffer Sheriff the ministry has been in the hands of Bihar politicians and Mamata Banerjee from West Bengal. It is the instrument to bring in cheer from the poor when their leaders have very little to offer on other parameters on the development index. Populist railway budgets have been common with Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav linking the village of his wife through the railways!

This brings us to the big question do we need a Railway Minister? Is a minister is so important to running the Indian Railways? It is a well known fact that no minister is directly involved with the functioning of the railways. It is the bureaucrats along with the employees of the railways who keep the system running. The Railway Minister is honorary head one of the side effects of our red tapism and socialistic growth in the first 40 years of our independence.

The Railway portfolio has become a victim of poor polity in our country. The politicians have more of vote banks to think of than development when it comes to running the Railways. The ministry can instead be run by a board which is nominated by the government and has retired people from the Railways. These people will have more knowledge about the system than a Mamata Banerjee, Ram Vilas Paswan or a Lalu Prasad Yadav does. In situations of crisis there will be less mud slinging and more of rescue operations.

If only we could have it this way, the railways would have been saved the ordeal of having turned into a political football.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Will Unified Command be able to tackle Maoist?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The Central Government has finally waken up to the growing problem of Naxals and proposed the setting up of a Unified Command to tackle the problem. Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal which have been the worst affected by Maoist violence, have been asked to set up a Unified Command. Its main aim will be to share intelligence and handle the Naxal problem as a single force. This Command will be headed by Chief Secretaries of the four states.

On paper this looks like a great decision to bring the state police, central forces and paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies under one command. A retired Major General will be a part of this Command structure to look into its functioning. The states will appoint an officer of the rank of Inspector General for the Command. But the bigger question is will such a structure work effectively?

The absence of West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee from this high level meeting shows that not all political leaders and parties are on the same platform and frequency when it comes to tackling the Maoists. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar wants to fight Naxalism with development while his Chattisgarh counterpart Raman Singh believes there is no alternative to armed response. Will a United Command work if we do not have a united polity?

The problem in dealing with the Naxals so far has been the fact that different states have had different approach when it comes to dealing with them. While some believed in using forces others wanted to invite them for talks. This gave Naxals a free haven where they would conduct operations in one state and than slip into another thus making a mockery of the security forces in the country. It is no irony that the security forces in the Naxal affected areas have hardly achieved any success.

Bulk of the security forces in the Unified Command will come from the State police forces which will be controlled by the state governments. The problem is to make all of them work like a single machine. The Centre’s role will be to oversee the operations as our federal structure provides very little playing ground to the Centre in such situations unless it takes control over the State with President’s Rule. Can it make the different states fight as a cohesive unit? This question will only be answered in the coming days.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Is Pakistan fuelling Kashmir’s violence?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Stone pelting civilians, Kalashnikov carrying security forces and complete breakdown of law and order. After years of simmering Kashmir valley seems to be burning again. Ironically all this in a year when Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had declared 2010 to be a year for tourism 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).

It is a well known fact that nothing happens in the valley without political and diplomatic interest. The question is who the biggest gainer in all this is? Pakistan seems the obvious answer. Imagine this Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir Raja Farooq Haidar Khan has asked Pakistan to de-link Kashmir issue from the peace talks with India as he believes Pakistan doesn’t have much bargaining powers at present due to the international pressure. A violent valley gives Pakistan a chance to blame India of atrocities.

Years of cross border terrorism have given Pakistan very little gains as far as diplomatic victories are concerned. Post 9/11 the global perception on terrorism has changed and Pakistan finds itself isolated on the Kashmir issue. It’s biggest supporter America doesn’t give much weightage to the Kashmir issue owing to its covert support to Taliban and better economic ties with India. America cannot afford to upset India anymore due to economic pressures with a crumbling economy back home with many signalling it will soon cease to be the biggest economy in the world.

On one hand the terror outfits in the valley are keeping the security forces busy on the border districts and on the other the people of the valley are being incited to violence. Stone pelting seems to have become the latest weapon among the hardliners to fight the Indian establishment. The J&K government seems to be loosing its grip completely over the Kashmir valley and Omar Abdullah doesn’t symbolise a chief minister in control.

In the last decade several peace initiatives starting from the Vajpayee era had brought down the violence in the valley. The Army had moved to the borders and the paramilitary forces and police taken control of the valley. All this seems to be crumbling like a pack of cards in the last 12 months. It is high time India starts talking hard with Pakistan and makes the international community do the same. Considering the economic interest America and the European Union has in India this isn’t impossible. A few measures in the valley won’t yield results unless Pakistan has been taken care of.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stop playing populism with the economy

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Populism sells in Indian politics more than anything and when a government takes a decision based on logic it has to face serious opposition. The recent decision of the centre to increase the prices of fuel has met with severe opposition from all the opposition parties. There has also been some hushed protest from some within the UPA ranks with Mamata Banerjee not attending the crucial cabinet meeting in which this decision was taken. She has clearly set her eyes on the assembly elections is West Bengal.

The opposition parties are claiming that with this hike the ‘aam aadmi’ will be hit badly. This coming at a time when the inflation is already soaring at 15-17% and expected to deliver a killing blow to the ‘aam aadmi.’ Any increase in the price of an essential commodity hits the dometic budget but wasn’t this hike necessary? It is another fact that this ‘aam aadmi’ seems to include CEOs, Sarkai Babus, middle level executives and businessmen who drive their sedan everyday.

These parties are now planning for a nation wide agitation on the issues which aren’t expected to lead to any results other than a show of strength. A day of work will be lost especially in states like West Bengal which is already famous for its poor productivity. The government is firm on the decision and sees no logic in rolling back the hike that has snowballed into a major issue cutting across political circles.

What would have the BJP done if it was in power? It acted like no saint when it came to fuel price hike during its rule. So why is it opposing this move just for the sake of opposition. The Left parties always seem to have a problem with any economic reforms. What have they done for the ‘aam aadmi’ in a state they have ruled for more than three decades? Is the condition of the poor in West Bengal better than the country? It is worst on the contrary due to the policies of stagnation of the Left.

If parties like the Left, BSP and BJP feel that the prices of the fuel will hit the aam aadmi they can reduce the state sales tax on fuel in the states that they rule. Every litre of petrol and diesel has a tax component which is close to 50% of the price divided almost equally among the centre and the state governments. Is the opposition bold enough to do this in the states that they rule? Why not show the Congress and the UPA rather than taking the strike to the streets and making the lives of ‘aam aadmi’ into hell.

Even if this hike makes one percent of car owners shun their vehicles and opt for public transport it will do a lot of good to the nation. We in India have to start living with the fact that we do not produce all our fuel requirements and depend on imports. The prices in the international market keep on fluctuating from time to time and we should not be expecting the government to spoon feed us for ever.


Monday, June 28, 2010

English team has more rockstars than footballers

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Clueless is perhaps the only word that could have defined the English football team as they took on Germany in the pre quarterfinal stage in the World Cup. Their movements on the field were disastrous as they went down to Germany 1-4 making another early exit from the world cup. This is nothing new for the English fans as they are used to seeing this every four years. The English football comes with a rockstar image to every World Cup and the story remains the same.

The English team did not have history on their side and neither did they have the form. England had last defeated Germany (West Germany) in the 1966 World Cup. Lot of water has flown down the Rhine and the Thames since then but little has changed in the last five decades. England has become the epicentre of football in the world but it has meant little good to its own national side. Every English footballer is a potential rockstar but seem to lack skills when it comes to football at the highest level.

In each and every World Cup the English team has the maximum buzz around it. Whose wife or girl friend would be accompanying him? Who is sporting the trendiest hairstyle? When other teams talk football, the talk around the English footballer is on their looks rather than their football skills. These impacts the players also who think themselves to be demi gods on the field. The moment England comes against one strong contender in the World Cup the end result is well known.

One of the main reasons which caused England’s defeat was their club football structure which leaves little energy in the players to play in such tournaments. Fabio Capello acknowledged this fact and said that his players seemed tired. Wayne Rooney came to this World Cup being touted as one of the best strikers to look for in South Africa. His performance was anything but dismal as he failed to open his account making him perhaps the most overrated player in the tournament.

The English fans and the team should perhaps re-strategise their entire approach to such major events and not blow the trumpet too loud. It is perhaps better to lie low and kill the giants whenever they are pitted against them. This rockstar lifestyle and football skills hasn’t’ worked for them and they need to realise this before the 2012 Euro Cup and the 2014 World Cup if they do not wish to make such shameful exits from major tournaments.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Will Afzal Guru escape death on President’s mercy?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

There is a notion that the poor in India do not get justice. But law of the land is such that even the high profile criminals escape punishment. The law in India awards Capital Punishment but in reality only one death sentence has been carried out since 1995. Dhananjoy Chatterjee is the only person who has faced the gallows in the last 15 years. This perhaps because the rape convict had no political backing. Even Rajiv Gandhi’s murderers have escaped death using President’s mercy.

The latest two cases in news being that have been in news have been that of Mohammad Afzal Guru was convicted of conspiracy in connection with the 2001 Indian Parliament attack Ajmal Kasab was found guilty of numerous charges in the Mumbai carnage. Ajmal has decided to approach the Supreme Court while Afzal’s wife has appealed for mercy from the President of India.

The government has opposed the mercy petition for Afzal Guru and asked the President to carry out the death sentence. Centre is now wary of whether President Pratibha Patil will accept its recommendation to carry out the death sentence of the Parliament attack convict. The President is however opposed to the sentence due to her personal belief and the Jaish-e-Mohammad might just escape the gallows due to this.

The Congress is always believed to be against carrying out this death sentence to keep it’s vote bank intact. The case of Ajmal Kasab has however put the government in a situation where it has been forced to call for Afzal’s death sentence. But people waiting to see him stand on the gallows might face disappointment as the President is thinking otherwise. Many people now feel it is a trick by the Congress to both eat the cake as well as have it. President Pratibha Patil was herself a Congress leader and all political appointees in President’s chair have known to protect the interest of their own parties.

The bigger question here is what will be the outcome of President’s mercy if she has it her own way? Will this do good to the morale of the armed forces in the country who laid down their lives defending the parliament? Will their families get justice in the end? Whose interest is dearer to our President the people who enforce the law and sacrifice their lives or those who break it? Can a President’s personal belief be more important than that of the belief of the people of the nation?


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