Wednesday, September 30, 2015
The Sad Era of Man Mohan Singh
How Man Mohan Singh Became Prime Minister
Man Mohan Singh was selected by the Congress party Chair person Ms Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister of India, about 10 years back. Man Mohan readily consented to be the PM though he had no political base of his own and as per reports he would find it difficult to even get elected to a village panchayat. Perhaps this was the qualification which the chairperson was looking for, a man with no political base who would be at her beck and call. Surely a man who has no political or mass following cannot be expected to rebel. The reason for this is not far to seek as the chair person wanted a person who would be more like regent for Rahul Gandhi as he matured for the top job.
Man Mohan Singh as Prime Minister
In this appointment process the the country has suffered terribly. Appointing a man as Prime Minister of 1.2 billion people who has no independent say of his own is almost like a monstrous crime on the people of India. The question asked is that are the Indian people so docile like goats and cows that anybody can be thrust on them ? The unfortunate answer is yes as for 10 years Man Mohan continued as Prime Minister. Perhaps it was India 's destiny as there is no explanation for this.
Singh as Prime Minister
Man Mohan Singh during his 8 year stint as Prime Minister has not exactly covered himself with glory. His indecisiveness has affected the country badly. At least on 3 counts Man Mohan Singh displayed that he was a novice and allowed the forces of default to overtake him
Surrender to China
- Firstly Man Mohan Singh surrendered the Indian leadership of Asia and secondly reduced India's role effectively vis a vis China. Having no concept of power politics Singh allowed India's arch rival China to set the pace. He became a mute spectator to China's needles pinpricks and displayed naivety in his dealings with China. In a particular he acquiesced to threats on the Dalai Lama from China and even backed out of addressing the the World Buddhist conference at Calcutta on pressure from China. In return he was been unable to get any concessions from China which continues to show large tracts of India as part of China. Having no concept of power politics he has created a psychosis in the army the fighting force in India to have self doubts with his stance on a host of issues on Kashmir, Pakistan, Nepal and even Bangladesh.
Stagnation of Economy and Poverty
- The economy under him has stagnated. There is a double digit inflation and prices of essential foodstuffs are rising every day. More important his economic policies have resulted in a greater number of Indians going below the poverty line.. As per the reports of the government committees appointed by Man Mohan Singh himself namely the Tendulkar committee and Sen Gupta committee have brought out the harsh fact that nearly half a billion Indians are living below the poverty line.
- His years in power have also seen the rise in corruption to phenomenal levels. Corruption was always there in India, but for the first time Cabinet Ministers led by Raja, Kalmadi, Gill, Pawar by their sins of omission and commission have swindled or allowed to be swindled over $ 500 billion dollars of public money. Even when persons brought these facts to his notice he maintained an enigmatic smile and never blinked. Perhaps the powers that had put him in the chair were over powering and all Singh could do was put up a brave face.
Man Mohan Singh is a Sikh, yet at no stage he showed any inclination to investigate the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 in which more than 10,000 Sikhs were killed. Till date just 3 persons have been convicted for thousands of deaths which were state sponsored terrorist acts .Most of the ring leaders who were Congress party workers have had a free run and Man Mohan acquiesced in this.
Operation Blue Star.
Recently in February 2014,documents have been presented in the British Parliament to the fact that the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked for British help in "Operation Blue Star", the operation to storm the holiest of Sikh Shrines the Golden Temple. The British have come out with all details, but Singh a practicing Sikh has maintained silence though Sikh and other groups are demanding the full facts on the operation.
Singh cannot antagonize the Chairperson Ms Sonia Gandhi and has thus perforce to tow the official line. But a stark fact remains that Man Mohan Singh who was bureaucrat in 1984, despite the killings of Sikhs by the Congress party chose after retirement to join the very same party which had engineered the Killings of Sikhs.
History finds the man. Chanakya that great strategist had stated that the people get the government they deserve. Is this the the epilogue of the Indian people ? One cannot be a pessimist and yet there is a silver lining as the people of India have shown this running dog of the Nehru Gandhi family the abyss of no return.
Monday, September 28, 2015
India is a vast country and its wonders never cease to fasinate me. I am one of the lucky few who has spent time in the Tamil Nadu forests of Siruvani and Top slip and also visited the exotic jungles of Assam and the North East. When I was posted at Jorhat, I had an opportunity to travel by road to Dimapur. Jorhat , for those who may not be aware is an important city of upper Assam and has a massive Air Force base, which houses 2 of the biggest transport squadrons of the IAF. The runaways at Jorhat were built during World War II and it is from here that the B-29's of the USAF took off to bomb Japanese targets in China.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
Thursday, September 24, 2015
The tulwar or the curved sword is a weapon that is known to a lot of people. But in India there was a sword also called the Khanda which was not curved but was straight. The Khanda is peculiar to the sub continent and was not used anywhere else. Thus, in that respect it is unique. The Khanda is not as ancient as the Tulwar or curved sword but its use started with the Gupta age from about 550 to 350 BC.
Khanda-Construction and Shape
The Khanda, though straight like the European swords, was comparatively lighter. It was also shorter in length. But a lot many warriors got the Khanda made to their individual specifications and sometimes the Khanda was really heavy. It was double edged and thus differed from the Tulwar which had an edge only on one side. However one significant point of difference with the other swords was that the Khanda had a blunt tip and hence its use was sometimes limited.
Thus the Khanda was primarily used for hacking and cutting and could not be used for stabbing. The Khanda had a straight scabbard and it was used in vast quantities by the Rajputs, Sikhs and Maratha soldiers.
Uses of the Khanda
The Khanda was used with telling effect in battle with the Moslems.It was lethal when used against Moslem soldiers who wore leather under their chain armor.It was handled with both hands and used to swipe the enemy’s armor. Baba Deep Singh the Sikh warrior in his march on theGolden Temple also carried a Khanda. The Rajput warrior Prithiviraj also used a specially manufactured Khanda.
The Khanda however was not a weapon of the mass of soldiers as it was heavy and had to have a two handed grip. Thus it remained a weapon of the Kings and Generals or leaders in battle. The Rajputs in particular have a special place for the Khanda which is part of the festivities during Dussehra. The weapon is venerated as a weapon used by the God Shiva.
The khanda went out of fashion as the curved sword held sway. Again with the advent of the Musket the Khanda as a weapon of war completely vanished. However the Khanda or straight swords do find use during religious festivals and dances. Thus these swords are part of the Classical dance form of Kathakali and also related martial art of Kalaraypat.
This was bound to explode and the class pretensions of the army had to come crashing down. This is the result of the Field Army regiment soldiers having a fist fight with the officers at Nyomi in Ladakh , just 23 km from the China border. The immediate cause of the incident is not important, what is important that class and elitist attitudes had to have a repercussion. As per last reports 3 Army Majors were on the run and teh Commanding Officer is in hospital with a few fractures.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Book review ‘The Crow Eaters’ by Bapsi Sidhwa a Woman Parsi Writer from Islamic Pakistan
See all 2 photos
See all 2 photos
Women in Pakistan
Pakistan and women’s rights are two divergent roads that do not meet. Despite a woman Prime Minister in Benazir Bhutto and numerous bills for women’s rights, the lot of the Pakistan woman has not improved. In fact it has worsened with the ill famous Hadood ordinance promulgated by General Zia ul Haq. In such a scenario a woman writer from Pakistan is a refreshing experience, even if she is a non-Muslim. The woman writer is Bapsi Sidhwa who is a Parsi.
Bapsi Sidhwa is a Parsi writer from Pakistan who has defied the system and produced a string of novels that have won her critical acclaim. But the start was not at all rosy as “the Crow Eaters “her first novel was difficult to publish for want of a publisher. She took a decision to publish the book privately and it was a runaway success. The book could not find a publisher as Bapsi Sidhwa was unknown and the fact that she hailed from Pakistan was itself a drag
The Crow Eaters-The Plot
The Crow Eaters is a book in English and mirrors the Parsi life in undivided India, when the Raj was supreme. The book gives a glimpse of Parsi customs and life in India at the turn of the last century. The plot is simple and revolves around the main character Faredoon Junglewalla, a Parsi who leaves his home somewhere in Central India and with his pregnant wife, mother in law (Jerbanoo) and daughter arrives in Lahore. He travels in a cart with all his belongings. Lahore smiles on the fortunes of Faredoon and he amasses wealth, but not before he makes a false insurance claim and succeeds.
Faredoon and his Family Life
Faredoon does not look back and his rise is phenomenal, but Bapsi brings out the clash of Parsi values when his son falls in love with an Anglo-Indian girl. Faredoon cannot allow it and the boy is shattered when he learns his love is a part time prostitute.
The undercurrent of the book is the animosity between Faredoon and his mother in Law Jerbanoo. These episodes are beautifully written and are the piece de resistance of the novel. Bapsi also pictures the hospitality of the Parsi community which is closely knit and any Parsi visiting Lahore is treated to a round of breakfast and dinners by all Parses’.
A Lovely Account of Parsi Life
The book is a paean on the life of the Parsi community and despite it having death as a part of its theme; it is in reality a hilarious tale. The jousts between the mother in law and the son in law are beautifully depicted as well as the staunch belief in religion of Faredoon. He also believes in the inevitability of fate when one of his sons dies as forecast by an astrologer.
The novel ends at the beginning. This is a result of Bapsi’s power of the pen as the novel starts with a death, the death of Faredoon at the age of 65, depicts his life and ends again with his death. On his death bed with partition around the corner faredoon advises his family to live with peace as to who ever the rulers are.
Bapsi as a Writer
Bapsi Sidhwa has interwoven a lovely tale of Parsi life at the turn of the last century. She gives us a picture of how the Parsi community lived and nurtured their faith. She also brings out the reason for the Parsi success and the fact that they were non political all through.
Bapsi has excellent command of the English language and the books makes easy reading. It has been translated into Urdu and many in Pakistan know about her. Bapsi is now a naturalized citizen of the United States, but her roots are in Lahore and she brings to the reader the lovely period in that city, before politics took over and India was divided.
The book won the David Higham Award for first books and is widely read. Bapsi has also been awarded the Nishan e Imtiaz a literary award by the Pakistan Government. She was on a committee for empowerment of women when Benazir Bhutto was Prime Minister of Pakistan..
Bapsi deserves more than average praise as she made it good despite coming from Pakistan which today is the hotbed of obscurantism
Bapsi Sidhwa was born in 1938 and started writing in early nineties. He list of awards and books is listed below. These show she is not an ordinary run of the mill writer, but a lady with command over teh English language
Thursday, September 17, 2015
ACM Suri is not the only culprit as many before him, more illustrious than him did nothing for the men who rose to sit in the exalted chair. There is a long littany of chiefs and one can't name them in a short article, who sat on their haunches and never pressurised the political and civil servants and leaders on any point of benefit for soldiers and airmen
The start of this callaus attitude is General Cariappa. He was the first Indian army chef and this man who was made chief over the head of Lt Gen Kulwant Singh was so beholden to Nehru that he did nothing. He got his own chair demoted and accepted demotions in order of precedence. Then we have men like Thapar and Bewoor who allowed things like down gradation of pension from 70% to 50%.
ACM Suri himself as chief of air force had a forgettable tenure. I wonder what he did during his tenure? I was in service at that time and his was a nondescript tenure. I don't think there is any pride in anything he did. He and his predecessor ACM Mehra just sat and travelled around.
In the present agitation of OROP, most chiefs are hiding and worse the present 3 led by Gen Dalbir Singh have shown a spineless approach. They are men of straw and will go in the dustbin of history. Who will remember them? Not the poor neglected airman or soldier, repeatedly let down by these men of straw.
The Tiger in India
One of the best places to see the tiger is at the Kanha National park. This park located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, the heart of India is part of the national plan to help save the tiger. It is a matter of great pleasure that the tiger is now alive and well in India and if I may say enjoying his life. The tiger is gods gift to India
Kanha caters to the tourist traffic and a number of resorts and hotels are available to stay. You can choose from the three stars White Chalet Resort and the Kumar resort to the budget hotels like Chandan or the medium priced Mogli resort. There are no five star comforts. The tariffs range from about an Rs 1000($20) to Rs 7000 ($ 140) per day. Foreign tourists are charged about 40% extra.
Kanha can be visited any time of the year, but it is best to visit in the summer months as the grass is less sparse and green and spotting the tiger is easier. Once you check into a hotel or resort you will have to register for a jungle safari. The safari commences in the morning before sun rise and lasts about 4/5 hours. You can opt for an evening or morning safari.
Immortal Jungle of Central India
The park spread over 900 square miles makes spotting the tiger elusive. Hence it is recommended that you stay at least 2/3 days to meet the tiger. The tiger which is the habitat of this park is slightly smaller than the more ferocious Bengal Tiger which resides in the Sunder bans in West Bengal.
All safari’s have guides who know the forest well. They will guide you through the forest. In case you are lucky you will be able to see the tiger hunting deer and devouring i. It’s a chilling, yet beautiful sight. The tigers at Kanha are perhaps now used to the safari’s and don’t bother much about them. You may even have a tiger crossing in front of your vehicle. It’s lovely sight and certainly worth a visit
Map from wiki and both photos by me