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?


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Birthday wishes and more…

By: Reetasri Bhattacharjee

“Many more happy returns of the day”, so read in the front page of a leading newspaper on 19th June, 2010. Here the noteworthy thing, apart from the birthday wish is the date. Not many of the younger generation would know that this is the date when Rahul Gandhi, the Prince of India celebrates his birthday. The fact that I am stating him as the Prince of India is simple. He is the heir apparent of Congress and thus also the Prime Ministers’ throne, the illustrious MP from Amethi and the General Secretary of the mighty Congress. All this roles when capped by the same person he is surely nothing else than a Prince, isn’t it?

Anyway, moving ahead, he celebrates his birthday on one of the 365 days of the year, like all of us do. True he is the “rather cool” MP of the recent times and an hot favourite of the youth, but does it justify the fact that birthday wishes are expressed to him on a quarter of a front page ad given by another member of the Congress. It can be understood when we wish people like Mahatma Gandhi in this manner, but I want to know, what has this Gandhi done to get to much respect. Does the fact that he once traveled on trains to understand the plight of the passenger or that he ate in a Dalit's house make him MAHAN?

Did that Congress Committee member from the state of Tamil Nadu really want to wish Rahul Gandhi or did he want to show to the world that he has the money to flaunt and spend on an absolutely unnecessary ad. I am sure if he could have used that amount (which no doubt runs to lakhs) in a much better manner. And even if that money belongs to the Congress, there are much better ways to utilize them. An ad of such a thing is simply ridiculous.

Not only should the advertiser be blamed in this case, but the media too. It is well known today that newspapers really have to struggle to generate revenue but does it justify them publishing such ads. It is important here to mention that on the same day in the same paper two more such wishes came as ads. All the ads were by some Congress member and in colour too!! The amount of money that was spent on wishing this person! (Imagine what was spent on his celebrations??!!)

As I end, another question enters my mind. Is the situation inside Congress so bad that their own members need to wish their leader through a national newspaper? Couldn’t they do the same personally through a telephone, mail?? Strange are the way things work in this country….

This blog has been contributed by Reetasri Bhattacharjee a dear friend of mine. She is a regular blogger on blogspot and maintains the blog My Passing Moments


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Narendra Modi’s Bihar sojourn was ill conceived

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Narendra Modi may be India’s most development oriented Chief Minister but there are a few takers for him outside the state of Gujarat. His recent overt exercise of friendship with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has almost brought the JD(U)-BJP marriage to a divorce. Nitish Kumar who wasn’t to happy to see his ally at home turned down a dinner invite causing much embarrassment to the BJP. Now the saffron brigade has decided to keep Narendra Modi and maverick Varun Gandhi off Bihar to keep ties intact with JD(U).

Although BJP wants Narendra Modi to take the lead with many even calling him the future Prime Ministerial candidate he has very few admirers among the political class outside Gujarat. The ghost of Godhra doesn’t seem to leave him even though his performance as an administrator has no matches in contemporary Indian politics. Modi isn’t corrupt, doesn’t encourage bad advisors around him and can bring in investment which would be more than investments of states like West Bengal in a decade. But the communal violence of 2002 riots seems to diminish all achievements of this man.

The latest move of campaigning in Bihar was an ill conceived one. The planners didn’t realise the fallout of their actions and led it to mess. Bihar is no Gujarat and has a substantial Muslim population and bringing in Modi was not a sane decision keeping in mind the coalition government that BJP and JD(U) run. Nitish Kumar on his part has done a lot of developmental work and Bihar’s growth rate has seen an unprecedented high in the last five years. He is in no mood to commit suicide and give Lalu Prasad Yadav and his brigade a non-issue to take his government on.

BJP top brass should realise that Bihar is no state where elections are fought on developmental issues. It is cast and religion which declares winners in Bihar bringing in Modi was a huge risk which the JD(U) didn’t want to take. It has laid a perfect platform to return to power in the next assembly elections unless it commits a political blunder in the state. Modi and Varun Gandhi might be the hardliner leaders admired by the RSS but in states like Bihar with sizable minority population they aren’t the best cards for coalition politics.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Will India ever play in a Soccer Wold Cup?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

As the football fever grips the entire world, India isn’t aloof to it. The world’s biggest sporting event after the Olympics has the country completely painted in yellow, blue, red and possibly every colour in the spectrum. From Brazil to Argentina and Germany to England all these countries have their huge fan base following action following each and every moment of the action. We have a huge advantage following this event as there are no chances of heartbreaks.

Being in Calcutta, one of Indian football’s hubs gives the true picture of football worship in India. The city is all covered in blue and yellow as the city has been known to be worshippers of Latin American giants Brazil and Argentina. Calcutta’s favourite son Sourav Ganguly aka Dada seem to struggling with TRP ratings as Brazilian Kaka is the talk of the town.

The situation is such that suddenly the Indian sports lovers have shut their ears on the IPL controversy and the ongoing Asia Cup in which MS Dhoni and his men are sweating it out doesn’t seem there are too many eyeballs in India for them. Wonder if our cricketers are used to this? But a bigger question that continues to haunt is whether we will ever be able to cheer for our own team? Will we ever hear the Indian anthem as the FIFA World Cup?

Our dismal FIFA ranking of 133 doesn’t seem to be an encouraging sign for even the die hard Indian football fans. Still this is a remarkable improvement from the 166 we were about two years ago. This improvement is however nowhere close to getting us a World Cup berth. The competition gets tougher for India considering only four slots to the Asian countries which also includes Australia. This is far less compared to Europe which has 13 slots although European and Asian football aren’t comparable.

Many Indian fans may not be aware that India had almost made it to a World Cup. History has it that India has qualified for thev1950 World Cup. Four countries from Asia were invited to participate in the qualifiers. Burma, Philippines and Indonesia all withdrew, so India qualified automatically. India was placed in Group 3 with Sweden, Italy, and Paraguay. But their request to play barefoot was turned down by FIFA and they withdrew!

It is also quite well know FIFA is also desperate to get India into the event considering the huge support base it has and considering the fact that it is a rising super power having India out of the race is not in the commercial interest of football. The money involved in the IPL has shown how big a sporting market India can be. Along with China it holds one third of theoretical television audience in the world a fact which is hard to ignore.

What is India’s chance of qualifying for the event? Considering the playing standards quite bleak! But India can bid for the 2026 or 2030 World Cups as the bit for the 2014, 2018 and 2022 events has already been sealed. This will make India automatically qualify as South Africa did this season. For that to happen India has to host a few global sporting events. The coming Commonwealth Games will be a test and India is also planning to bid for the 2020 Olympics.

It might seem a distant dream but in 2026 and 2030 India will definitely be a global power to reckon with. Who knows our football standards might also improve by then if we could make the I League more competitive by involving more foreign players. A few years back nobody would have backed us at having a F1 driver by Narain Karthikeyan did something against the odds. India may one day realise it’s biggest football dream.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

BJP on a reuniting spree

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The Bharatiya Janata Party is on a reuniting spree and if speculations are to be believed after Jaswant Singh it is the turn of estranged leader Uma Bharti to return to the party. The former firebrand leader was recently seen travelling in the same plane with L K Advani, former party chief Rajnath Singh and party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad to attend the last rites of Chief Minister Raman Singh’s father, who passed away recently.

The only problem with Uma’s return is the Madhya Pradesh BJP leaders who do not have happy memories of Uma who ruled with an iron hand when she was in charge of the party. Uma’s homecoming might also pose problems to MP Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan who has been in charge of the state ever since Uma Bharti left the party and floated Bharatiya Janashakti Party.

The larger picture however is that BJP is trying it’s best to build the party and fortify it’s walls. It had once been the most powerful party in the country. The recent support for Ram Jethmalani was another example of it reaching out to the ex-collegues. The ex Law Minister had been once very close to the leaders of the party and the fallout had been such that he fought a Lok Sabha election against former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

These are giant moves by the BJP which has been on a constant decline ever since the defeat in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. The party has however taken some giant steps ever since Nitin Gadkari took over as the President. He has been trying to reach to all the leaders who had left the party due to personal differences with some colleagues. This as a counter measure to the growing popularity of the Congress which a decade back had looked on the verge of collapse.

If the BJP can pull off the return of Uma Bharti well it will be a huge achievement for the party as she is a mass leader and can bring in the votes when it matters. As for Jaswant Singh, people like him bring in moderate face to the BJP and acceptability among the general masses. BJP as a formidable opposition will always be an option against the Congress paving the way for better governance in the country.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Delhi should have acted on Manipur crisis earlier

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Manipur is no stranger to blockade of the highway but the last two months have quite a nightmare for the state. The economic blockade called on by the Naga students pushed Manipur to the verge of breakdown with stocks of all essentials commodities, including baby food and life saving drugs, almost drying up. It is no surprise that this agitation was supported by the militants of the NSCN (IM) which ensured that no one had the courage to defy the diktat which lasted for more than two months.

The problem had started after NSCN IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah wasn’t allowed to visit his native village by the Manipur government led by. There was clash between the protesting Nagas and the security forces in Manipur which had led to the killing of a few people at Mao gate which stands between Nagaland and Manipur. Muivah was barred from entering his native villages as he has been demanding the integration of all Naga dominated in the North Easr into the autonomous Nagalim. This includes parts of Manipur including his village.

With Manipur on the verge of collapse, New Delhi felt it wasn’t time to play safe anymore and decided to send in troops to clear NH 39 which was ceased by the Naga organizations. Fearing counter strike by the security forces these organizations have called off their agitation and lifted the blockade from the highway. New Delhi which is engaged in peace talks with the Naga rebels was playing safe all these days and never had showed signs of using forces against the Naga rebels and the student organization.

The question that comes to the mind is why New Delhi didn’t take such a call earlier which would have not forced Manipur into this crisis. The state has every right to protect its territorial integrity under no pressure to allow a terrorist to visit his village. The Centre should have firmly stood by Manipur on the issue and not bowed down to the demand of the terrorists for over two months. Peace talks with the NSCN IM cannot come at the cost of hunger in Manipur. The Centre has equal responsibility towards Manipur and should have sent in troops earlier.

The Naga Students Organisation and other people who had supported this agitation should realise that they are also a land locked state and a similar kind of agitation in Assam could bring them down on their knees. With Nagaland not even producing enough food to support itself such groups shouldn’t be indulging in such brand of pressure politics. They can become even worst victims of this if organisations in Assam call for a similar blockade.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It’s all wrong with the ball

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The first week into the FIFA World Cup has seen a few upsets and a few controversies. The biggest controversy is however with the official ball of the tournament. Adidas Jabulani ball is being touted as the enemy of keepers in the World Cup. If this statement needed any example the England versus USA match saw English goalkeeper Robert Green make a mess of a shot in his hand conceding a goal and the match ending in a 1-1 draw.

Adidas on its part has denied these allegations and said that ball was a result of long research and behaved perfectly. The 440-gram Jabulani, derives it’s name from Zulu language in which it means “to rejoice’” It is ironical that most of the teams around the world are doing anything but rejoicing the ball.The company also claimed that it was the roundest and the most perfect ball ever built in the history of the game.

Adidas has been making the World Cup ball since Mexico hosted the event in 1970. Jabulani is the first ball for the tournament to be molded of eight “thermally bonded 3D panels, creating a perfect sphere, replacing previous models with flat panels, according to FIFA’s website. The ball has an aerodynamic profile enhancing control and stabilizing flight, it said. The company is also claiming that all participating teams had approved the new ball in February.

But the fact remains that players from around the world especially the goalkeepers have been complaining about the ball. The argument is that they are finding it difficult to judge the bounce and swing of the ball and thus unable to hold onto it. The situation is so bad that one team has even started practicing rugby ball to prepare themselves for the unpredictable Jabulani. The ball is now being touted as a match changing factor in this World Cup.

One thing is for sure that the ball doesn’t give advantage to any team. Logically it still remains a fair game as both the teams will be using the same ball. The problem is that even the strikers are finding it difficult to judge the speed and swing of the ball. The only thing that the fans from around the world should hope for is that the ball doesn’t become a deciding factor in any match.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Did Arjun Singh betray India?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

If you thought the only controversial issue that former Human Resource Development minister Arjun Singh was 27% reservation for the so called ‘backward classes’ you are wrong. If what history tells us is true the former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh allowed Union Carbide Corporation chairman Warren Anderson to use a state plan to escape India. This just one day after the poisonous methyl iso cyanide gas from the Union Carbide plant leaked and killed estimated 15000 people in Bhopal.

The recent accounts from the pilot of the plane tell that the orders to fly out Warren Anderson had come straight from the Chief Minister. Anderson flew straight to Delhi, met President Zail Singh and flew out of India never to return again. Twenty five years on the victims are yet to get adequate compensation and justice. It has been proven that adequate safety measures were not implemented in the Union Carbide plant which let to the tragedy. US government on it’s part has shielded Anderson as much as it could in the last 25 years.

Arjun Singh only has silence to offer to the nation and refuses to speak on the issue. It is ironical that in this country terrorists and politicians have the choices to remain silent whenever they want. We had seen this earlier with the Mumbai carnage accused Ajmal Kasab and we are seeing it now with Arjun Singh who is keeping mum on the issue and causing huge embarrassment his party which is trying to put all the blame in his shoulder.

Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said that it was completely State Government’s fault to allow Anderson to go out of India. He added that the centre could have done nothing. Is that some kind of joke that we are supposed to believe in? Did he not hop at Delhi while flying back to US? Didn’t he meet President Zail Singh? Did the Centre not have any information on the most wanted man in India on that day? Digvijaya Singh might believe his argument but the entire country won’t.

Arjun Singh needs to speak up and reveal his motive behind letting a criminal walk away using the State’s resource. The Congress high command has to take collective responsibility of the incident as they were in power both in Bhopal and New Delhi. It is high time that some government machineries show accountability towards the nation.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

The writing on the wall is clear for Left

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Remember the song ‘Winds of change’ by the German band Scorpions. It had become the popular anthem for German reunification in the early 1990s. It may not be too far away that composers in Bengal might be geared up to produce such a song. Although no reunification is in store for state, a political change definitely seems to be on the cards. The Left Fort is showing sings of cracks which are beyond repairs and the state could soon be painted green after the Assembly polls in 2011. It is no longer ‘Ma, Mati, Manush’ for the Trinamool Congress but ‘Ma, Mati, Manush and Mamata’ for the state.

Bengal finally seems to have had too much of Left for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the last three decades and wants a change in menu. Idealism never seems to feed the Bengali stomach and they want growth and the anti-Left lobby finally seems to seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Left ruled with an iron fist and shattered the hopes of everyone who thought they could be defeated. Years of power made it corrupt and years of defeat made the opposition loose confidence. BJP never existed in Bengal, the Congress surrendered but it was the grit of one lady whom many term insane believed in the impossible.

There was always an anti-Left vote in Bengal but it was never confident and never organised. These people boycotted polls at an individual level as they election results in Bengal were not worth betting. All it needed was a trigger for these people to come together under one banner and take on the Left. Nandigram and Singur proved to be catalyst and the results are here for everyone to see. It now seems Left had crumbled from inside long ago but the absence of a strong opposition gave it the power to rule the state over and over again.

Some staunch Left supporters dismissed their defeat in the 2008 Panchayat elections saying it was village issues which cost them power. It 2009 Lok Sabha polls they blamed the national wave for UPA as the reason for their defeat. In 2010 they say people voted for candidates in the civic body rather than the parties they represented. What would they say for 2011 elections? What other issues will people vote for? The writing on the wall is clear for the Left, only the leaders and their staunch supporters need to sense it. It is quite another thing to close the eyes and feel the world outside is dark.

Left supporters blame Mamata, calling her insane and blaming her for what happened in Singur. True this was one of the episodes which TMC should be apologetic about but this brand of politics of bandhs, gheraos and bringing industries to a halt had been mastered by the left for ages. In Singur, Mamata seemed more like the Left than the Left themselves. It is no point having a prejudice against Mamata even before voting her to power. If she fails to perform as a Chief Minister, people will have the opportunity to fall upon the Left again but somewhere a single party rule has to end.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

When will Pakistan learn its lesson?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Terrorism has become a synonym for daily life in Pakistan. Just says after people belonging to the minority sect were killed, a group of terrorists disguised as policemen stormed the Jinnah Hospital in the heart of Lahore late on Monday night killing 12 people and injuring 10 others. The attack was reportedly a bid to free a terrorist, Amir Muavia, captured in an injured condition during an attack on a mosque in the city last week. This is not an isolated incident but something which has become a part of daily life in Pakistan.

Many in India have regularly tried to show their solidarity with the people of Pakistan when such incidents have happened. But our western neighbours seem in no mood to reciprocate with our good gestures. They gave birth and nurtured these terrorists and seemed to be burning as the illegitimate child has gone out of hands. Terrorists no longer take orders from the Pakistani government; the ISI and the Pakistani Army in fact have regularly locked horns with Pakistan’s security forces. Suicide bombing and blowing up military installation has become a norm in Pakistan.

Recently the arrest of a Pakistani in US for the alleged involvement in Times Square bombing has raised serious questions. The educated society in Pakistan wasn’t expected to behave the same as indoctrinated terrorists but that seemed to have exactly happened. It is no wonder that the US warned Pakistan of direct strikes within its territory if the roots of any attack in the US are traced back to Pakistan. The accused was the son of a high ranking military official in Pakistan.

The government in Pakistan may turn this accused a ‘non-sate actor’ as it had claimed when Ajmal Kasab was captured alive in India. But Pakistan as a society has to take responsibility of such events. What is it that goes inside the mind of an average Pakistani? Is it to kill everyone in the world who isn’t a Pakistani and follow Islam? The sad part is this is the exact picture that the entire world is seeing about a country which is both a perpetrator as well as a victim of terrorism.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP