Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Karan Thapar the un-intellectual

Mr. Arun Jaitley was the recent guest on Mr. Karan Thapar’s ‘Devil’s Advocate’. This particular debate is a good example of how self styled ‘secular’ journalists fare when faced with a worthy opponent.

Mr. Thapar brought out the issue of economic blockade of Kashmir –

Figures released by the Jammu and Kashmir horticultural department, which is a
part of the official government, prove that between the first of August and the
17th of August this year, only 890 trucks bearing fruit came from Srinagar to
the Banihal pass where as last year during the same dates, the figure was
2,148—a fall of nearly sixty per cent.

Mr. Jaitley countered this claim as a mere propaganda by the separatists in the valley with no real basis to it –
Let’s be very clear. If there is a bandh and a curfew in Jammu for 50 days, if
you have a curfew in the Valley for 30 days plus, business is bound to go

To support his claim he quoted this –

We asked the Army and the district administration as to what is the position.
They gave us the daily figures. This was not the apple season.
They said, we
have nothing lying in the stocks and today we have 90 trucks waiting at the
sabzi mandis, and there is nothing to be loaded on it. It was a false

Mr. Thapar had similar questions of shortage of medicines in the valley which were countered effectively by Mr. Jaitley by referring to clarifications by the relevant officials and the army who denied charges of economic blockade and attributed the fall in traffic and business to the bandh and curfew in the state –

The Army’s position is that there is no blockade; the
government’s position is that there is no blockade and the Sanghash Samiti told
us that there never was a blockade and there won’t be a blockade.

But that did not satisfy Mr. Thapar, he kept repeating that there in fact was a bandh in the valley and that the BJP was exacerbating the situation. Apparently Mr. Thapar seems to hold the separatist’s claims in high regard and not believe the state officials or the army or even the union government that denied any economic blockade in the valley. Not surprising when you cite your sources as ‘The Indian Express’ or ‘The Times of India’ who themselves cite only the separatists and have total disregard for any official that denied such claims.

Now, agreed that he was playing the devil’s advocate, but Mr. Thapar was not being responsible in quoting such luminaries (sic) as Mobin Shah, the president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce (who incidentally is a part of the Hurriat), the information secretary of the Lashkar-e-Taiyyaba (really? The LeT Mr. Thapar?). And if indeed he was serious about debating the issue, he would not have restricted it to supporting the separatist’s claims, but would have talked about what really is at the core. But that may be uncomfortable for Mr. Thapar and the others, when they seek to legitimise the separatists. Hearts that bleed for the Jihadists and separatists do not care about it. Mr. Jaitley got it exactly right when he said –

As far as Jammu is concerned, it is crying due to
discrimination and this is a strong ground of discrimination and you want to
shut a popular debate out on this discrimination?

But when you suffer from myopia all you can see is the evil ‘communal forces’ (which comprises of only the BJP and the sangh parivar and no Muslim, Jihadi group) and you have to bring them down. Mr. Thapar gets it completely wrong when he said –

It is not a popular debate. It is that BJP deliberately
exploiting a political situation to gain electoral benefits.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Olympics losing credibility

That the Chinese have lost all credibility amongst the people is a given. Folks all around are discussing stories about how the Chinese went about hosting the Olympics. Children were snatched away from their parents so they could be trained for the competition. Apparently, the Chinese officials were looking for certain physical profiles and any child fitting them was simply taken away from their homes and trained rigorously for the Olympics. Perhaps the under aged Chinese gymnasts were some of them. The fakery in the opening ceremony was well published, lip syncing singers, CGI fireworks etc. There are also stories of how the stadiums and other facilities were built. Communities were bulldozed, houses were torn down, people were simply asked to leave because their houses were in the way of the plans for Olympics. The Hans were too engaged in putting up a show than to care for their people, but then, when did they ever. Quashing Tibetian protests, heavy handed diplomacy and the general intolerance of anything unfavorable does not help their cause either.
All that effort does not seem to have paid off for the Chinese. Not the least financially. If seat occupancy is anything to go by, there not many spectators. The Chinese do not seem to have made much money in ticket sales. And surely, making arrangements, providing security, facilities for the various officials, athletes, tourists and making cosmetic changes to their cities may have cost them a lot.
With the cost increasing in hosting the Olympics, it won't be a surprising if there aren't any takes in the future. Obviously, security is going to be the biggest concern for everyone, the rising cost of fuel will increase transportation costs and huge infrastructure costs may just not make the Olympics economically viable.
And then there are talks of massive corruption in the IOC. The controversy with under aged athletes and the IOC not handling it properly, repeated doping scandals, allowing China to host the games apparently gives people an impression that corruption has a big hand in the functioning of the IOC. The Olympic charter is losing its meaning. It has now become a quest for medals at all costs (doping, snatching and training under age children) than spirit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Un-intellectuals and their seperatist instincts

The not-very-intelligent "intellectuals" tribe, conveniently patronized by our mainstream media because their views coincide, is growing by the day. Khushwant Singh joins Swaminathan Aiyar, Vir Sanghvi and Suzanne Arundhati Roy in demanding freedom for Kashmir. One cannot help but wonder who are these people batting for? While being Indian nationals, their views are heavily slanted away from our national interest.
Kashmir did accede to India and is very much an integral part of it. That being the case, none of these un-intellectuals write any opinion on the need for scrapping article 370 and integrating Kashmir completely into India. Not a word on the ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri pandits from the valley so Muslim majority could be established. Such dhimmi apologists, give more traction to separatists. Besides, this could encourage more such separatist voices in the country. Such un-intellectuals could be running a propoganda to facilitate India's breakup, a la USSR.
A free Kashmir is another potential hub for terrorism. India is already faced with two such. China is another neighbor that keeps us on our toes. The un-intellectuals have no thoughts on that. But, 'secularism' demands propagating a false sense of victim hood among the Muslim community in India.
Distancing Kashmir from India and allowing it to grow closer to Pakistan is not in India's national interest. It will also be betraying the Kashmiri pandits who, even in the face of violent Islamic onslaught, have been the guardians of our culture and heritage in the valley. It is their home.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Let's not fail our future

Independence day should mean more than this...let's not fail our future.

(Picture by - Reuters: Arko Datta)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fearful of 'Religion of Peace'

Random House Publishing has dropped its plans of publishing a book on the Prophet Mohammed's wife Aisha. The reason? Fear of Muslim community wrath!
The Islamic community is notorious for its intolerance of any criticism or outsider analysis of its religion. It fears that any such attempt could harm its religion. When in fact what the Islamic community or the Ulema really fear is the expose of many not so good aspects of Islam. This fear has caused the Islamic leaders and the community to denounce every attempt at critique. This is also the reason why Ulema keep the ordinary folk from researching into their religious scriptures and insist it be left to the learned few. And of course only the learned few are regarded as authorities in all matters Islamic, thus isolating Islam completely from any objective analysis. No innovation, no reform is permitted. The Islamic leaders insist on applying the tenets of Koran or the laws i.e. the Sharia as it was written well over 1400 years ago. Perhaps they fear the same fate that the orthodox churches met in the west due to objective criticism of Christianity.
The Islamic community has steadfastly guarded itself from any criticism. Some examples that come to mind are fate that Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen met when she wrote 'Ka' and 'Lajja'. Another famous example is Salman Rishdie's book 'The Satanic Verses'. We all know how the Muslim community erupted in protest and made the authors and the establishment bend over backwards. Some other similar examples (though not involving books) are Danish cartoons of Prophet Mohammed. Islamic intolerance was at its best in these instances.
Random House's decision to scrap publishing a book on Aisha was because -

Publishing giant Random House has scrapped plans to
publish a book on Aisha, the wife of Prophet Mohammed, fearing that it could be
the new Satanic Verses and may draw the wrath of the Muslim

The sheer terror that Islamic community strikes in evident from this decision. The publishing house fears -
The publishers feared it could become new
Satanic Verses, a book written by Indian-origin author Salman Rushdie that led
to death threats being issued to him, riots and the murder of its Japanese translators, the journal said. [Emphasis
The author of the book, Sherry Jones, is understandably devastated. She says -
"I wanted to honour Aisha and all the
wives of Mohammed by giving voice to them, remarkable women whose crucial roles
in the shaping of Islam have so often been ignored -- silenced -- by
," [Emphasis mine].
Asra Nomani, a former reporter with the Wall Street Journal writes -
"The series of events that torpedoed this novel are a window
into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim
," Nomani writes. [Emphasis mine].
And apologists, misleadingly called 'Intellectuals', are not far behind in defending Islam. Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas in Austin has this to say on the book -
"made fun of Muslims and their history,"

In an interview, Spellberg told
Nomani that the novel is a "very ugly, stupid piece of work."
A very intellectual defence of Islam indeed.
So much for claiming Islam to be a 'Religion of Peace'!
Obviously such regard is not accorded to other religions, like say, Hinduism. The tolerance and openness of the Hindus is often exploited and sentiments of the Hindus has no regard. Perhaps because there is no threat to life in abusing Hinduism.