Wednesday, September 30, 2015

General Parvez Musharraf. * 80

General Pervez Musharraf:The Military Ruler who Faced the Islamists and now Overthrown. Hamlets Tragedy.

The damaged car in an assissination attempt
In 1947 when the state of Pakistan was created, Mohammed Ali Jinnah the first Governor General of Pakistan made a far reaching speech. He said that the state was not concerned with religion, which was a private affair of the individual concerned. He also went on to add that Hindus, Sikhs, Christians were free to practice their religion and the state would only govern and not interfere in their personal beliefs. But this was a long time back and successive Pakistan rulers have diluted the ideas of Jinnah and ushered in an Islamic regime where the minorities are under siege.
Two Nation Theory
Jinnah was a politician. The fact is he espoused the two nation theory for a separate homeland for the Muslims. But with the breaking up of a monolith Muslim state as envisaged by Jinnah and the creation of Bangladesh, this concept was destroyed. In addition the fact remains that the creation of Pakistan did not help more than 150 million Muslims left behind in India to further the dream of Jinnah.
Religious Bigotry
The situation became really bad when general Zia-ul -Haq took over as President of Pakistan after a military coup. He had no political base and he tried to buy support from the mullahs and hard line clerics by ushering in laws from the Sharia. He also reduced the status of women in Pakistan to a subservient position by promulgating the Hooded Ordinance, that effectively reduced women to a second class status. He also enacted the notorious blasphemy law that targeted the minorities.. He was killed in 1989 and after a spell of an ineffectual civil rule General Musharraf took over as President after a military coup.
The Coup of Musharraf
Musharraf's coup was not legitimate, but a subservient ' Supreme Court" invoked the "Doctrine of Necessity' and Mushrraf sat firmly in saddle. He imprisoned the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and became a dictatorThis dictatorial streak extended through out his rule and later he dismissed the Chief Justice and also held on to power by dubious means.
Positive Actions of Musharraf
I am no supporter of any military coup but certain acts of Musharraf deserve mention, as for the first time after Jinnah a Pakistan President made mention of minorities in the country and their rights. In addition
Historical Address: Jihad against Poverty
a) In an a historical address to the nation he tried to give a different concept and ideal to Jihad. He asked why not a Jihad against poverty, illiteracy and ignorance. this did not go down well with hard line Islamic groups. No Pakistani ruler earlier and later ever had the courage to say what Musharraf said.
Kashmir Solution
b) He showed flexibility on the Kashmir issue and was the first president who accepted that extreme positions on both sides have to be discarded. In a press conference he was clear that a solution to the Kashmir issue can only be found by both India and Pakistan if teh extreme concepts about the state are discarded.
c) He inducted the minorities in government service and the first Sikh officer joined the Pakistan army.Even a Hindu joined the Pakistan army and another Sikh became a Trafiic Inspector in Lahore. This had never happened earlier. Earlier the situation was so bad that the Bishop of Lahore had to commit suicide to highlight the plight of Christians in Pakistan.
Wrath of the Hard Line Islamist Groups
All the above did not endear him to hard line Islamic groups who mounted at least 4 assassination attempts on him with time bombs and rockets. Musharraf survived the attempts.
Down Fall
Musharraf unfortunately did not last long enough and a popular movement made him leave Pakistan. He was against hard line Islamic rhetoric, but the people of Pakistan saw his faults more than his good points..
Pakistan is the loser with the going of Musharraf. His successors are men of straw with a tainted past and certainly not a patch on General Musharraf.The general will go down in history as the only ruler in Pakistan who faced the Wahhabi form of Islam squarely. Its a pity he did not survive as President.
Last Word
Musharraf had gone into self imposed exile. He returned for the general election and was promptly arrested. the fact is he had exceeded the mandate of a President when in power. Now he is in jail and facing various charges from Murder to treason. Thsi is sad, but the fact remains for the minorities he had a good concept and was trying to be inclusoive. Only if he like Ataturk had not tried to remain in power, he would be better remembered

Man of God: the Muslim Pir of Mumbai * 68

The Muslim Pir in Mumbai: a Man with Uncanny Powers.
The Pir who is no more
The Pir with Supernatural Powers
Mohamedali Road is part of old Bombay. It has an old world charm and is a predominant Muslim populated area. There is an old mosque and around it some buildings which are old and popularly referred to as chawls. One such chawl referred to as Mauchi chawl is under the aegis of the Maharashtra Housing board who are carrying out repairs.
The Pir on Mohamedali Road
In this building on the first floor is a small two room set. As you enter the outer room the strong sense of incense will greet you and you can surmise that you are entering an abode of a holy man. You won’t be wide of the mark as this apartment is the place where a holy man called a Pir gives his darshan to believers. What will surprise you is that this Muslim Pir has equal numbers of Hindu followers as well who thong to the place. This man is Sayyed Nasiruddin Basdshaimiya Qadri Nakshbandi. He belongs to a long line of hereditary Pirs from Kutch where his ancestors originally resided. But what will strike you is the uncanny power the Pir exhibits. He has ESP and powers of divination that have to be experienced, for no amount of description can do justice to this Pir. He is now old and has to be helped to his place where he sits listening and advising thousands about their problems.
Meeting the Pir
The Pir normally sits in the evening when his meetings start and continue late into the early hours of the morning. People wait in a queue for hours to meet the Pir who listens to their problem and then will give a solution. Sometimes the Pir will himself tell you why you have come and that is a wonder by itself.
Last Word
The Pir has a small porciline plate and that has a magical power. This is the plate where you have to put your thumb and then lo and behold the Pir tells you everything, why you have come and what your problem is. He will then prescribe a remedy which consists of certain rituals and I have been told by believers that these rituals work. Rituals that involve burning Taviz( holy relic) and the like. It’s uncanny and no science can explain this phenomena. I myself have met the Pir a number of times and his uncanny power has been a source of wonder. This is the mystery of the east and in the field of spiritualism India is way ahead of the west.
Last month Pir Mohammed Nasiruddin Badshamiya Nakshbandi( His full and complete Title) passed away. Everybody is mortal and so was the Pir. His passing away is a matter of great sorrow. As I have written this is a hereditary Pirship, which has been going on for many centuries. Now his position is taken by his elder son Pir Raza.
I have met Pir Raza and I am unable to explain how Pir Raza also has Extra Sensory Powers. I will however confess that his father had greater spiritual acumne. Perhaps Pir Raza will also mature with age. He must be about 40 years old.
People like the Pir are the wonder of India

Assessing ManMohan Singh: Picture of a Failed Prime Minister

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.

Unbridled Corruption

- 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.

Sikh Killings

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.

Last Word

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

On Road to Dimapur from Jorhat * 74

Land of Wonders
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.
Dimapur is the biggest city of Nagaland and it was in the news lately after a rapist was lynched to death here a few weeks back. I travelled to Dimapur by the Provost jeep of the assistant Provost marshal. The distance  is 110 km and passes through thick pristine forests, where herds of elephants roam.
Elephant herds
I was a little wary of the trip when I heard about the elephant herds. I was told they often converge on the road. But I was also assured that these herds have never harmed a vehicle and generally all you have to do is to stop and after some time the herd goes away. However there is a catch, as the elephants expect 'tribute' in the forms of clusters of bananas.  these are put on the road and the elephants will come and take them away and let the vehicle pass. How lovely !
The Journey
We started at about 9 in the morning as the drive would take about 3 hours. We passed virgin forests, so dense that you just could not see inside the thick foilage. In addition we carried a dozen large clusters of bananas.  After about an hour we saw a tusker standing in the centre of the road. We stopped and one of the airmen put 3/4 banana bunches on the road. We backed off and waited. Lo and behold, some more elephants emerged from the bushes and they came and carried the bananas away. It was a lovely sight.  They cleared the road and we pressed ahead.
We had 2 more encounters with the herds and they were a lovely sight. They took their tribute and let us move ahead.  we reached Dima pur after an exhilerating drive. i was delighted at the conduct of the elephants , so wise and intelligent. We dined at a sardar's dhaba and pressed on to the area Headquarters. This is one trip I will never forget.
Last word
The return journey next day was equally exciting, except that only one herd accosted us. What a wonder of nature. it's something that can be relived a hundred times. One hopes these pristine forests don't vanish as well as the elephants. This  is what makes India so special.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Dead Parsi ** 90

Parsi Disposal of Their Dead: Tower of Silence in Mumbai
See all 2 photos
Tower of Silence
See all 2 photos
Mumbai Tower of Silence
Parsi's and Death Rituals.
The Parsi temple and place of disposal of the dead is often referred to as the Tower of Silence. One of the most significant Tower of Silence is in Mumbai. It is situated on prime land at Malabar hill. The man responsible for coining the word ‘Tower of Silence’ goes to a Britishers named Robert Murphy. He coined the word in 1832. It is a translation of a similar meaning word Dakhma from the language of the Parsis Avesta.
Zoroaster (Parsi) tradition has a unique system of disposal of the human body after death. To keep the body pure after death Zoarsterism enjoins its believers to leave the body in the open exposed to nature. In real fact most of these towers of silence are vast open spaces with a temple at the entrance. The vast open spaces are home to vultures which eat the flesh of the dead.
The tower of silence will have a perimeter wall which encloses the place where the bodies are kept. Inside there are 3 concentric circles. The bodies of the men are arranged on the outer circle and the women in the middle circle and children are placed in the innermost circle. Nobody is allowed to enter the sacred burial place and only special pall bearers are allowed inside.
The Parsi tower of silence in Mumbai is a landmark of the city. It is almost hidden in a maze of dense trees and bushes. The Mumbai tower of silence has a bleak look and one can easily recognize it with the vultures hovering over it.
The Parsi towers of silence date from the earliest times. It was brought with them to India by the Parsis who escaped from Iran to save themselves from conversion and persecution. But in the Tower of silence in Mumbai there is now a dearth of vultures and many Parsis would like their bodies to be buried instead of being left in the open to elements of nature.
The principle behind this leaving of the dead body to nature and birds is supposed to be the last act of charity of a Parsi, where in he donates his body to birds for food. The body of the dead Parsi is brought in a coffin to the Tower of silence and after a ceremony is taken inside by the special pall bearers. The body is then left in the open. Nobody can visit the body again once it is committed to the Parsi Tower of silence.
Most of the Towers of silence are only in India. Thus Parsis abroad have perforce to opt for a burial. In India the Parsi towers of silence have gained an iconic image and die hard Parsis will only follow this method of disposal of the body after death.

Girls for sex and work from Nepal and Bangladesh

Officially the slavetradeis banned in India for that matter all over the world. But the laws thatexiston paper are flouted as the guiding principle is poverty. As withall tradeacommoditysells when buyers are available. It is a classic case of need coupled withsupply and demand. Slave markets haven’t really gone away and they exist in varying degrees from Africa to Asia. In India there is a flourishing slave market for girls from Nepal and Bangladesh. Both these nations are impoverished and thus easy prey to this nefarious trade.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSC2hkbd3xObVjFMvY8OY5As I have pointed out one of the commodities in great demand is young girls from Bangladesh and Nepal. Great poverty in these 2 nations has spawned atradein girls. Nepalese girls fetch a higher price as they are fair and considered better than Bangladesh girls, who are darkish. Given the fetish in the sub continent for fairness, it is obvious that Nepali girls fetch a higher price.
The price of a girl also depends on age and other factors. Virgins are the highest priced. What I write is a fact.The marketfor Nepal girls is at Siliguri in North Bengal. I was able to visit this bazaar where the girls aretraded. Men folk from Nepal actively sell the girls. A BEAUTIFUL Nepali virgin can fetch a very high price. It could touch 50 thousand rupees. Once a girl issold, the buyer can keep her as maid, bed mate, maid or anything. He can also sell her later. Many are forced into prostitution.
Girls from Bangladesh are more in number and cheaper. Generally they are however considered more loyal. Small illegal bazaarsexistclose to Kolkata. Once girl is bought she is fed and clothed by the owner. I remember meeting a man at Kancharapara who was about 50 and had 3 Bangladesh girls working as maids and sleeping with him as well. He boasted all 3 were virgins. The man was a well heeled trader and I met him through a common friend.
A question that must arise is as to what the police do? They try their best, but plenty of black sheep are there. The trade thus goes on merrily.

Gandhi's Sex Life: no Longer Hidden a Gay and a Paedofile

Gandhi was a mass leader, but he is built into a demi god, much above his stature. Much of teh blame for this must go to the ruling Congress party which has ruled India for the greater part of its independence. Gandhi is hyped up  and very little criticism about him is tolerated.  This is a pity for Gandhi had his foibles and as time passes the follies of Gandhi come into greater prominence.

One aspect of Gandhi’s  character which is taboo is sex, but facts that are emerging now show that perhaps Gandhi was bisexual. No many know that Gandhi left his wife in 1908 to be close to a German Bodybuilder named Hermann Kallenbach. This is denied by some but the facts speak other wise. There is a letter available which Gandhi wrote to kallenbach saying’."Your portrait (the only one) stands on my mantelpiece in my bedroom".
Gandhi was close to this man, but one cannot insinuate a gay relationship. But perhaps the facts may never be known as it was something personal between kallenbach and Gandhi. Bu there is no doubt that in a further letter to Kallenbach he mentioned that he (Kallenback) had completely taken possession of his body. He referred to Kallenbach as lower house and himself as upper house. He also made kallenbebach promise not to look at women with lust.
What Gandhi meant is difficult to  decipher , though in his ashram salt was forbidden and sexual intimacy between inmates frowned upon. But Gandhi continued his friendship with Kallenbach till 1914 when Gandhi returned to India. Gandhi wanted his friend to accompany him to India, but with the first war around the corner, The British did not allow Kallenbach to come to India.But Gandhi did mention in a letter that how much Kallenbach had taken possession of his soul and body. During this entire period it is on record in Gandhi’s own admission that he had no sexual relations with his wife and began to refer to her as mother.
With advancing years Gandhi had the privilege of indulging in his desires under the guise of experiments with truth. Thus he started sleeping with his niece, the 17 year old Manu. She was encouraged to sleep in the nude with him. When some inmates of his ashram  objected they were summarily packed off by Gandhi. What Gandhi did is what we refer to as a paedofile. His aim for all purposes was sexula gratification under the guise of "experiments with truth". Suffice that prominent men like Acharya Kriplani and Patel opposed  these experiments of Gandhi.
Gandhi thus was an ordinary human being with all the desires and dreams of an average male. Only he perhaps gave his urges a garb of ‘experiments with truth’.  This is not to pull down  Gandhi, but to try and form an objective assessment about him

Cricket: Polly Umrigar, the Palm Tree Hitter

Polly Umrigar is a Parsi cricket player from Mumbai.   His full name was Pahlan Ratanji Umrigar, but he was fondly referred to as ‘Polly’. Before the grant of Independence the Parsi community played a significant role in Indian cricket. Polly was a product from that era and initially played for the Parsis in the Pentangular. He started his career in 1944 at the age of 18 and played his last cricket game in 1968, spanning an era in Indian cricket.

Polly in England

When Polly appeared on the scene the duo of Vijay Hazare and Vijay Merchant were well entrenched in Indian cricket, yet he did make a significant impact.  Umrigar however had a weakness against pace and this came to the fore on the 1952 tour of England. Umrigar totaled 43 runs in 7 innings. Worse he had a phobia against Fred Truman and took guard well outside the leg stump. This is hard to understand as Polly was a powerfully built man who towered over 6 ft.   But it is to his credit that he scored heavily in the county matches with 3 double hundreds against Oxford, Kent and Lancashire. No Indian player after that has been able to hit so many double hundreds in England.
He followed up by hitting two more double hundreds on the 1959 tour with a highest score of 252 not out. The 5 double hundreds that Umrigar hit in county cricket is an Indian record and no Indian batsman including Tendulkar or Gavaskar has been able to emulate this feat. On the 1959 tour Polly made amends for his earlier failures with 118 at the Oval against Truman and Statham. His 252 not out remains the highest score by an Indian in England. A fact that is often overlooked is that despite his failures in the Test Matches, Polly was almost in the run to complete 1000 runs in May during the 1959 tour. Outside the English tours Umrigar was a more than successful batsman.
He is also the first Indian to hit a double century in Test cricket when he hit 223 against New Zealand in 1956 at Hyderabad. Umrigar’s biggest success was against the West Indies. In two tours to the Caribbean islands he endeared himself to the crowds there, with his penchant for hitting sixes and earned the nickname as ‘Palm Tree hitter.’ He reached his hundred in the Trinidad test match with a six of Sonny Ramadhin during the 1953 tour.

Polly  in the West Indies

Polly scored heavily against the West Indies in 2 tours and hit 3 centuries. In the 1953 tour he was able to shake of his stigma as bunny against pace men by hitting 560 runs in the series. He followed up by hitting over 400 runs on the 1962 tour with a magnificent 172 not out in the fourth test. Polly’s success in the West Indies is food for thought and one wonders why he failed in England. Perhaps it was a crisis of confidence. On the 1958-59 West Indies tour of India, Polly faced the superfast Gilchrist and Wes Hall with aplomb and averaged over 44 with 3 fifties.

Polly Against Other Nations

Polly was also a success against Pakistan, against whom he hit 5 centuries. On the 1954-55 tour of Pakistan Polly was the lone centurion from the Indian side with an innings of 108 in the third test. On the 1960-61 tour of India by Pakistan Polly batted regally and hit 3 centuries. He had scores of 115 at Kanpur, 117 at Madras and 117 at Delhi.
Overall Polly played 59 tests for India and averaged 42.22, which is about the same average as Mohinder Amarnath and GR Vishwanath. Thus one can gauge the standard of Polly Umrigar. In all Polly hit 12 test centuries. Polly also scored heavily in the Ranjit trophy where he hit 15 centuries. It is to his credit that he never missed a home outing for Bombay at any  timehe was in India. Polly was also a more than useful off break bowler who helped Jasu Patel rout Australia at Kanpur with a spell of 4/27.
Polly had moderate success against Australia and in 6 outings against the Aussies he could get only 1 fifty. In all Polly hit 3667 runs in test cricket and this remained a record till Sunil Gavaskar over took him in the seventies. He 12 centuries remained a record for over 15 years till Sunil Gavaskar overtook him in the seventies.


What is Polly’s contribution to Indian cricket? In one word one can say ‘immense’. He played at a time when the game had little money in it and was not as professional as today. He was the main stay of Indian batting for over a decade and deserves credit for it. Along with Vijay Manjereker he formed the vanguard of Indian batting. Polly also led India in 8 test matches, but it was not a happy experience and finally he resigned his captaincy during the 1958-59 tour of the West Indies at the onset of the 4th test at Madras. 
Despite his failings as a captain, Polly did yeoman service to Indian cricket.The cricket board has also remembered Umrigar by naming the under 15 school cricket championship after his name. Polly died in 2006, leaving an enduring image of a genial and more than competent batsman.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Analysing the War and Cultural links of Khanda


The Khanda

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

Khanda and its scabbard

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

Handle of baba deep Singhs 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.


Kathakali Dance form with Khanda

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.

The present 3 Chiefs of Staff are Pussy Cats and have let the Soldiers down on OROP

Ever since General Cariappa accepted downgradation of the post of the Cin C to the Chief of army Staff, the Indian chiefs without exception have  just sat in their chairs like pussy cats and gone into oblivion. Such men can only go where they belong - in the dust bin of history.

 The river Ganga is not static and flows and flows and to condemn the past chiefs really leads no where as we all know, they were men of straw. One expects that times change and the present set of 3 chiefs led by General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Admiral Dhawan and Air Chief marshal Raha would have shown some spunk. But the fact is these men have led the the men they command down. I wonder what they must be thinking when they see themselves in the mirror ? They must be seeing  that they are just pussycats and unworthy to lead martial warriors who have a tradition of battle and strife.

Thr 3  service Chiefs must answer some uncomfortable questions

 >  What did they do to support the One Rank One Pension agitation
.>  Why did they sit through the Raksha Mantri's press conference when he mentioned the  early retirement would not get the benefit of OROP
>  What action they took after the RM announcement.
>  Why cannot they stamp their foot down and  ask for OROP. Is it a legitimate demand or not ? if its legitimate why did not they press this case.
>  They are men who have to lead and present the cases of the men  under them and are not mediators. Unfortunately these worthies have at no stage shown they are the main champions of the soldiers and airmen.
>  How come the Chiefs keep sitting warming their chairs  while hundreds of ex servicemen and widows are fasting for OROP. Do these men who claim to be 4 star generals have any shame ?

Obviously all this shows that the men are led by pussy cats and deserve a stick instead of a salute. Its so sad that the Indian general staff has let the men they command down again. Its like history repeating itself.

The Orderly is not a Personal Servant * 67

The British introduced the Articles of war in India and laid the foundation of the modern Indian army. This army over a period of 250 years earned a name for itself as a formidable fighting force. Its prowess is appreciated from China( Boxer rebellion) to the battles of the Second World War and the conquest of East Pakistan.
The British also ingrained into the Indian army the culture of the orderly or in Indian terminology ' Sahayak'. The British left India but the culture of the orderly got more deeply entrenched. The orderly became like a personal servant of the officer and was used for unsoldierly work like taking the dogs for a run, washing clothes, looking after the personal needs of the wife and children as well as cleaning the car and buying vegetables.
The British army did away with the concept of the orderly as in a modern army classes cannot be allowed to exist. I am told even the Pakistan army did away with the concept of the orderly in 2004. In the Indian army however it got more deeply entrenched and the army began to earmark some 30,000 soldiers for orderly duties.
The officers brought up in a feudal atmosphere started enjoying the privilege of the orderly and even used the men for menial tasks. But what was acceptable at the turn of the century is not acceptable now with greater education and aspirations. A modern army cannot have a concept of a colonial or imperial army by creating a class of the 'Burra Sahib'. The men who form a bulk of the fighting force do not accept this sort of class division.
The Indian army thus created two classes. An elitist officer class and a common soldier. The sad part is that even rations for the soldier was different from the officer. Independent India continued with this anomaly.
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.
This is a dangerous portend for a fighting force and with China breathing down the neck, the Indian army can ill afford an officer-men divide. No army can fight in such an environment. it is about time the army woke up and lived up to its traditions of a great fighting force. The culture of the orderly needs to be consigned to the dust bin of history. One wonders with the 21st century on us, whether the army is too late in reacting and the damage may be already irreparable.

Israel vs Iran: Missed opportunities * 68

Israel Vs Iran: Has Israel Missed the Bus in Not attacking Iran Earlier?
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See all 6 photos
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See all 6 photos
War With Iran
Iran is a Muslim state that has vowed to erase Israel from the map of the Middle East. Despite this statement appearing ludicrous , yet the fact is it cannot be dismissed out of hand as Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
Israel and danger from Iran
Israel is alarmed and one had expected that by now Israel would have struck at Iran's nuclear facilities at least two year back. But it has not happened, mainly because the USA the biggest partner of Israel had perhaps dragged its feet in supporting an attack on Iran. The US has positioned a carrier group of the Iran coast, but it has done precious little other than showing the flag. In the meanwhile Iran is continuing to strengthen itself.
Israel misssed Speed and Surprise.
One of the principles of war as enunciated by Clausewitz is surprise and speed. In both these Israel has faulted. By waiting for over 2 year the Israelis have made their task that much harder. In real terms Turkey and Saudi Arabia will give tacit support and overflight facilities to Israel, but it is Israel that has to bite the bullet. With Obama at the helm of affairs at the moment a US led attack on Iran does to my mind appear remote. In any case by delaying the inevitable the chances of total victory are that much less, with Russia and China backing Iran.
The Fatal Delay
In case Israel has to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, delay is fatal. One fails to realize why it was not done. In the meantime Iran is beefing itself and made bomb proof shelters for its nuclear facilities. Its 4 Kilo class submarines are moving in the strait of Hormuz to sink shipping and block the strait that carries 20% of oil out to the world. It's a messy situation and one wonders what the future will bring., but its not going to be easy.
One thing is clear an attack on Iran won't be a cake walk like in Libya. I have no doubt that Iran will be defeated, but in defeat there may be victory as Israel will be seen as an aggressor and the world will not be the same again.
Hostility of Iran towards Israel
The hostility of Iran will not end and many Muslims will feel that some revenge on Israel is required. It could mean greater terrorist activity and Israel will have to steel itself for another 50 years. That is a long time as Israel, friendless in the Middle East may have no easy way out.
Missed Biting the Bullet
The US with a history of backing the wrong horses may be wondering what to do. This could be a stepping stone towards the eclipse of the USA as a world power. For this the USA has only itself to blame. Fighting useless wars in Iraq and Libya and draining the economy. I envy the Israeli leadership which are sitting on the horns of a dilemma. To bite the bullet or let it go. Both ways there is no respite for Israel
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Possibl Israeli Routes of attack on Iran
The Present Scenario
The victory over large areas of Iraq by the ISIS has queered the pitch for Israel. The ISIS are Sunni and Iran is against them. Thus the primary focus for Iran has shifted to Iraq, where Iran cannot allow a Sunni takeover as Iran is Shia.
This also gives respite to Israel and it can think out of box solutions to resolve the deadly situation in Iraq. In any case an attack by Israel on Iraq will not be an option right now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Muslims in US Military *

Muslims in the United States Armed Forces: Divided Loyalities
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US Muslim Soldiers Praying
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Major Nidal
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The US Armed forces, A Cohesive Force ?
America is a society at the cross roads. At one end, it is being besieged by Muslim radicals who have vowed to destroy the ‘great Satan’ meaning the USA and at the other end a significant number of blacks and a small number of whites have converted to Islam in the USA itself. This coversion by itself is not that significant, but the fact is that new converts are not loyal enough to the US constitution. Muslims as a percentage are the fastest growing community in the USAand the blacks are converting in increasing numbers to Islam.One is reminded of Cassius Clay who converted to Islam 40 years back , to cock a fist at the white Americans.
Wars with Muslim Nations
The United States is involved in wars against the Muslims all over the globe. Though it is not a war against Islam per se, yet most of the opponents of the USA are Muslim Nations. Thus America is embroiled in a war in Afghanistan and is fighting a terrorist movement in Iraq, after the second Gulf war and ouster of Saddam Hussain. Another factor is a militantIran,Syria andYemen. Even a fringe in Pakistan led by the Haqqani faction is looking for ways to destabilizeAmerica.
Manpower Shortage
In such a scenario there is a need for additional manpower for the US armed forces. With the draft (compulsory military service) a story of the past, the US armed forces are facing a manpower crunch. To tide over these man power problems the United States has opened its doors to all races and religions. The result is that sizeable numbers of Muslims have joined the Armed forces. The going was good so long as theUSA was not involved in wars with Muslim nations, but once that started, the Muslims in theUS armed forces suffered a trauma. They had dual loyalties as Islam is a religion that transcends boundaries.
Muslims in US Armed Forces
After the carnage at Fort Hood where an army Major named Nidal Hussain gunned down 13 of his colleagues as he felt that fighting war against Muslim nations was unjust, theUnited States army has been feeling uneasy. No army can fight a battle if it has an enemy in its own ranks. By that one act the problems in the US army have come to the fore.
There are about 5-7 million Muslims in theUSAand their numbers are increasing. TheUS army has about 10,000 Muslims in its ranks. That’s a minuscule number compared to the overall strength of 1.4 million, but they are enough to create a headache. The army is beset with a problem as some Muslim soldiers detailed for duty in Afghanistanpray as per the Muslim custom want to pray five times a day. In a battle situation that becomes a liability. In addition Muslims want special status during the month of Ramadan. Can the army call a truce and not fight during this period? For that matter can any army do that?
Cases are now coming out that soldiers detailed to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan feel its wrong to fight against their own brothers. Many Muslim soldiers have conscientious objections. There is no solution in sight. An Army sergeant detailed for combat duty in Kuwait against Iraq was so incensed that he threw a grenade and killed 2 officers and injured 14.
These are the cases that have come out, but there are thousands who for a fact are not happy to fight their brethren at all. The US army is in a dilemma. Despite assertions by the Chief of staff, the fact is theUSA while fighting against Muslim nations will have one hand tied behind its back if Muslim soldiers are in combat missions.
The Future
The Muslims were willing recruits once the USA was fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, but that is all history. The new breed of converts is more fanatic and feels a brotherhood and don’t want to kill fellow Muslims. The US Armed Forces will have to tide over this problem on its own. How will they do it ? Can there be a loyalty test ? The freedom enshrined in theUSconstitution will not allow it, asAmericais a free society. Perhaps theUnited States army will in its own way find a solution, but it won’t be easy.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Review of "the Crow Eaters": Novel by a Pakistan Writer

Book review ‘The Crow Eaters’ by Bapsi Sidhwa a Woman Parsi Writer from Islamic Pakistan

MG Singh

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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

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

Last Word

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

The Tantrums of Air Chief Marshal Suri, CAS on OROP

AirChief Marshal N Suri was Chief of Air Staff during the early nineties. I recently read that he was piqued with comments floating around on social media that chiefs of armed forces did nothing for the soldiers and airmen at any stage. I would like to educate the ACM that 99% of the chiefs have just feathered their nests and this outburst on OROP is a logical culmination of their actions. In case OROP is still hanging,then it is entirely due to their own apathy.

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.

IS Johar and " Harry Black and the Tiger: a Hollywood Opus.

Dec 24th, 2011
IS Johar was the first Indain actor who hit the Hollywood screen. His role as 'Bapu' in 'Harry Black....' was a stand out performance

IS Johar was a film star who had a penchant for doing comedy roles on the Mumbai screen. In  fact he was quite a draw as an actor in the fifties and sixties with his slapstick comedy roles. Bu the same Johar acted in some Hollywood films as well and there he did not play the  role of  the buffoon.  

Many present day stars are longing to act in Hollywood films, but IS Johar outdid them nearly 4 decades back. One of his more memorable roles was in the movie ' Harry Black and the Tiger'. The film which was shot entirely in India starred  Stewart Granger and Barbara Rush  with Anthony Steele in an important role. but our own IS Johar put in a wonderful performance as the valet and tiger tracker of Stewart Granger. images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRHyAdiUu5WIhmFZ45iiCM The film was made in 1959 and IS Johar essayed the role of 'bapu' a valet to the hero. Johar literally lived the role as the film revolved around the plan to kill a man eating tiger. The shikari is played by Stewart Granger who has lost a leg in a German POW camp during the war. By luck he meets the very man who by cowardice  allowed thisto happen. He is married to the woman who Granger loves.    That is the love angle but basically the film concerns  a tale of a man and a jungle beast. the last scene where Johar and the Hunter enter  a dark cave to kill the tiger are spine tingling.  All credit to Johar who turned in a stupendous performance, that is remembered even now.   
 The film runs for 107 minutes and has 4 track stereo recording for excellent sound effects of the Jungle and the tiger. The director is  Hugo Fergenese and he has captured the essence of India on celluloid.  IS Johar was a nomination for the BAFTA award for the best actor in a supporting role. He lost by one vote.  It was rumored that he lost because he was an Indian. In those days the westerners were averse to giving awards to Indians. It's changed now and 'Slum Dog..' could get a number of Oscars.One can sit back and remember that IS Johar did India proud with this role. A bit of trivia aabout the film is worth knowing. Stewart Granger used his personal rifle for all the shoots in the film

A Hollywood Great and my Favourite *

I will confess that I am an English movie buff who has spent some time in watching films made in Hollywood. I even dug out some of the great classics like ‘gone with the wind’ to get a feel of the stars of that page. Now I think it will be a good idea to showcase the stars from Hollywood are the greatest. As in all such lists personal preference is over-riding and that cannot be denied. My favorite star is Al Pachino. 

Al Pachino

OB-JK157_godfat_D_20100729083448.jpgIn Godfather I
 Born in 1940 this actor is one of my favorites. I first saw him acting the part of Don Corelone inGodfather I.  I was impressed by his acting and the fact that he lived the role of the gangster in the film based on the novel by Mario Puzo. In this film he was frame by frame a match for Marlon Brando. Now Hollywood has recognized Al Pachino as one of the greatest actors of the last 100 years.
Al Pachino was born in East Harlem in New York of Italian parents. Harlem as we know is one of the deprived areas of New York and Pachino grew up in relative poverty. This had a bearing on his life and perhaps was the reason for him acting in serious roles. Al Pachino is best remembered for his Godfather trilogy I, II, III where he literally lived the life of an Italian mobster. Hollywood also recognized him after 7 nominations and finally he won the Oscar for the best actor in Scent of a woman (1992).
He is one actor who has always done justice to his roles and even in the winter of his life has turned in some memorable  films. His last filmWild Salome (2011) has just been premièred at the 68th Venice International festival. In this film he plays the role of King Herod. He also turned in a memorable performance as Shylock in the Merchant of Venice (2004).
Al Pachino has acted in nearly 50 films in a career spanning 42 years. His other memorable roles include Dick Tracy, Justice for all, Serpico, Panic in the needlethe devils advocate, among others.  Al Pachino has carved for himself a special place in the world of cinema. Pachino never married though he had liaisons with a number of women and actresses among whom Tuesday Wells, Marthe Weller, Diana Keaton, Lyndon Hobbs feature.
He had 3 children out-of-wedlock. For Film buffs he is the ultimate star for soft and hard undertone gangster and character riles. One can’t forget his role as the blind Major in scent of a woman.

The Tiger in Kanha National Park: worth a visit

The Tiger in India

The Tiger is a magnificent animal and even when you see it in the zoo it does inspire awe. In India it is the national animal and the only place in the world where this beast is in relative abundance. So in case you want to see the tiger in its natural habitat you will have to come to 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

Visiting Kanha

Visiting Kanha is not difficult. You can get direct flights from Mumbai and New Delhi to Jabalpur, the nearest airport. From Jabalpur the reserve forest of Kanha is about 4/5 hours drive through mountains and thick jungles. The road is fairly good and you traverse and go through the hills and the forests, one will realize the beauty that India offers.

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 jungle at Kanha is the type immortalized by the likes of Jim Corbett the great tiger hunter. The scent, the ambience, the sound, the greenery of this place is awesome. There are almost 30,000 spotted deer in Kanha National Park. These can be seen in large numbers and are the natural prey of the tiger.

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