Friday, July 29, 2016
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
John Masters was a rare breed of Anglo-Indians who wrote about India. He was a man with golden pen. Kushwant Singh the noted India writer says about John Masters ‘EM Forester understood India while John Masters understood Indians’.
John master lived in India and was born here. His father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Indian army and John Masters also followed suite. He was educated at Sandhurst and was commissioned in 1933. John Masters spent a fair amount of time with the Kings Own Gurkha rifles and served with them in the North West frontier. His book Bugles and the Tiger is an account of his life during that period.
Sometimes, I wonder where this beautiful book has been hiding. It is a fabulous account of a young officer attached to a Gurkha regiment in the wild North West frontier where the watch word of the Muslims tribes was Jihad at all times. The Book makes fascinating reading and in my opinion is one of those rare books that one must read.
Masters autobiographical account recounts his passing out from the Military college at Sandhurst and his joining 2/4 Gurkha Rifles on India's Northwest frontier. The strain of the book brings out the love of John Masters for India, the country people and the Gurkhas. It is clear from the book that the Gurkhas loved him as well.
This book creates a vivid picture of a Gurkha regiment and the interaction between the common soldier and the British officer. In fact it gives a rare insight into military life.
I first read this book as a cadet at the Air Force Academy on the recommendation of my Instructor. The book surprised me and I have read it 3 times after that. The book is a joy to read and even if you are not a soldier it makes excellent reading. John Masters is intoxicating and once you have read this book you will want to read his other books. He was a master of prose and all India should be proud of him. John Master passed away in 1983, leaving behind a rich heritage of excellent books.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Erdogan orders arrest of over 50000 Turks in the aftermath of the coup attempt
Turkey is in ferment with the government ordering a massive purge, arrest, suspension of people remotely suspected to be involved in the coup.
Turkey is in a state of ferment in the aftermath of the coup attempt. President Erdogan is taking all steps to ensure those elements which are disloyal or even having a hint of disloyalty to him and the Justice party are removed. In the process, he has unleashed a reign of mass arrests, suspensions and dismissals of nearly 50000 people from soldiers to judges and civil servants to teachers. Erdogan is blaming his political opponent Cleric Gulen of orchestrating this coup. He has asked for his extradition from the USA.
The arrests and suspensions.
The volume of arrests and suspensions is mind boggling.They cover people from all walks of life. In a way, it shows his insecurity as mass arrests and suspensions as well as dismissals have taken place. Erdogan has ordered
Sacking of 15200 teachers and education staff Enforced resignation 1577 university Deans Dismissed 1500 staff of the Finance ministry Dismissed 8777 interior ministry workers Sacked hundreds of workers from the prime minister's office
In addition large number of men from the armed forces and police have beenarrested on charges of treason. He is also contemplating the re-introduction of the death penalty to act as a deterrent and the opportunity to execute the ringleaders of the coup.
The world is perturbed with the actions taken by Erdogan. The removal of large numbers of Turks on mere suspicion has not gone down well in the world community. The President of the EU Martin Shultz has commented that the arrests and suspensions smacked of "revenge" against the opponents. The mass scale purge has been condemned by Gulen.The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has cautioned that any introduction of the death penalty would have an effect on Turkeys application to join the EU. The US has also called for the rule of law to prevail. The situation remains fluid and one can't be sure as to what will happen next.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Saturday, July 16, 2016
The temple in Kanchnaburi was a tourist delight, till animal rights group who had long suspected maltreatment got into the act.
Kanchanaburi is a hallowed name as the infamous bridge on the river Kwai was constructed by the Japanese here. It also has a tiger temple dedicated to Lord Buddha. This temple which came up in 1994, had a mission to integrate wildlife with humans. The temple was initially loaned 2 Bengal tigers, but the temple authorities began a breeding program and their numbers multiplied to 137. The animals were a great tourist attraction and Americans who had never seen anything like this were simply enthralled by tame beasts. Many American tourists also photographed them with tigers. One can see the fascination of American tourists for tigers as none are available in natural habitat in America. The temple earned millions of dollars from tourists and the monks led a lavish life.
Ill-treatment of tigers
Animal rights groups were keeping a watch on the temple activities, as reports had come that the animals were ill-treated. The tigers in the temple were the Bengal tigers, who are not native to Thailand. The tigers were reared in the temple by the monks as an example of how animal life and human environment can co-exist with each other. Unfortunately, a police raid revealed the sordid goings-on in the temple. The raid revealed the carcasses of nearly 70 tigers cubs. In addition, nearly 1000 talismans were found which were made of body parts after processing. Obviously, many tigers were killed in the making of these talismans. This was a fit case for action and the police on prodding from animal rights groups had to act.
Removal of the tigers
The police went into action, and all the tigers were rescued and relocated. The tigers could not be set free in the jungles as firstly, they were not native tigers and secondly, the tigers were unable to hunt prey and subsist in the jungle. The monks protested, but their case was weakened by the dead carcasses and the inability to explain how the talismans were made. The goings-on in the temple has dismayed many Thai's. The tourists, mainly Americans who patronized this temple will miss the tigers. There is a good chance that with the loss of earnings, the temple may also close. The temple authorities can also face charges for illegal trade in wildlife and encroachment on forest land. After the removal of the tigers, the temple has become like a normal Buddhist temple with 15 monks left. Despite the removal of the tigers many other animals like horses and bears remain.
The poem has some fact behind it and relates the rape of a young wife Lucretia by Sextus Tarquinius who coveted her immensely.The poem with its explicit descriptions of Lucretia’s body is lovely to read. In particular, the description of her breasts which had known no yoke is simply enthralling.The rape itself is described in flowery verse and shows that Shakespeare was a great poet as well. incidentally, in real life, Lucretia committed suicide after the rape. Something that happens even now. Read the poem with your consort in your arms and you will remember it.
excerpt Her breasts, like ivory globes circled with blue,
A pair of maiden worlds unconquered,
Save of their lord no bearing yoke they knew,
And him by oath they truly honoured.
These worlds in Tarquin new ambition bred;
Who, like a foul ursurper, went about From this fair throne to heave the owner out.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Monday, July 11, 2016
The test of every system or political act is whether it will raise the standard of living of the people.
Many Kashmiris demand Azadi from India. If they can demonstrate that such Azadi will raise the standard of living of Kashmiris their demand may be justified.But Kashmiris never seek to demonstrate that. All they demand is Azadi.
Kashmiris forget that Azadi can only be a means to an end, not an end itself. The end must be raising the standard of living of Kashmiris. But Kashmiris never discuss how that will be achieved in an Azad Kashmir ( assuming it is created ).
Moreover, the pro-Pakistani slogans blared out from loudspeakers of nearly all mosques in Kashmir, and the call to wage jihad, makes one very suspicious as to who is really behind this ' Azadi ' struggle ?
So-called ' freedom struggles ' having a religious color e.g. the Sanyasi Revolt in Bengal in the late 18th century ( which is the historical background of Bankim Chandra's reactionary novel ' Anand Math ' ), Ayatollah Khomeini's movement, Muqtada al Sadr, ISIS, etc. tend to divide and weaken the people.
If azadi is achieved in Kashmir, will the outdated feudal Sharia Law be imposed there ? And if Azadi means azadi from India but joining Pakistan, will the jackboots of the Pakistani army not fall on the necks of Kashmiris ?
Real azadi is azadi from poverty, malnourishment, unemployment, hunger, lack of health care etc. Did Burhan Wani and his comrades ever think of this, and how it will be achieved in an azad Kashmir ? Have the 'brave' JNUSU and Jadavpur University students who supported this demand of azadi for Kashmir ever thought of that ?
It is not enough to be brave, it is also necessary to have brains, but about this I have my doubts
Sunday, July 3, 2016
Hitler's Command Post During the Battle of France(1940)
Hitler controlled the Western campaign from a command post close to the French border. It consisted of a set of low buildings with a bunker. Called the Falsenenest or Rocky Eyrie it was located at Bad Munstereifel, a place near Aachen. This place is also fairly close to the area of operations.
The Second World War is a long way off. It ended nearly 7 decades back. One battle that heralded the rise of Germany as a super power on the European continent was the battle of France in 1940. This is considered by many historians as the decisive battle of World War II and resulted in total defeat of France. Known as the battle of France it lasted exactly 42 days and led to armistice treaty which was signed at Versailles. The British who were fighting on the side of the French with their Expeditionary Force had to make an ignoble exit. The quantum of the defeat can be gauged from the fact that 1.9 million French soldiers were taken as POWs.
Now historians are aware that Hitler controlled the Western campaign from a command post close to the French border. It consisted of a set of low buildings with a bunker. Called the Falsenenest or Rocky Eyrie it was located at Bad Munstereifel, a place near Aachen. This place is also fairly close to the area of operations.
Hitler’s command post was fairly Spartan and consisted of 4 rooms and was bomb and shell proof with use of special concrete. The war headquarters was inspected by the German army and the Gestapo and cleared for use of Hitler. The leader drove down from Berlin by car in the dead of the night and reached Falsenenest at 3 am. This was an hour earlier from the slated time of assault at 4 am.
He entered the biggest room which had large operational map showing the position of the German army divisions with their commanders. He gave the signal to advance by telephoning Field Marshal Von Rundstedt, the overall commander of the Western front. He also kept himself abreast on the progress of the battle on his operational map and often talked to the field commanders including Rommel, Guderian and Von Manstein.
Hitler’s two advisors from the OKW, Field Marshal Jodl and Keitel were with Hitler.
The invasion commenced at 4 am when the German army moved against France bypassing the Maginot line through the Low Countries. The rest is history as the French sued for an armistice. Hitler controlled and plotted the progress of 10 Panzer divisions and 136 infantry divisions. It was a formidable force.
Hitler never used Falsenenest again and this was its sole use. It will however be always connected with the battle of France.
Ahmadis believe that after Prophet Mohammed there was a Prophet Ghulam Ahmad in the 19th Century. Are they breaking anyone's head or cutting off anyone's limbs by saying this ? Those who believe that Mohammed was the last prophet are entitled to do so, and they may also say that Ahmadis are not Musli...ms ( just as Ahmadis may say the same about them). But what right have they to kill Ahmadis, burn their mosques, and beat up their children ? This is just hooliganism, goondagardi, and jahaalat.
Similarly, when the Shias do not accept the first three Khalifas (Abu Bakr, Omar and Usman) as genuine, and regard them as usurpers, are they breaking anyone's head or cutting off anyone's limbs ? They are not preventing Sunnis from holding that belief. Then what right has anyone to kill them or burn their mosques or beat up their children ? This is simply hooliganism and jahaalat.
Many Muslims of Wahabi thinking believe that going to dargahs is butparasti ( worship of idols), since dargahs have graves of Sufi saints, and such persons believe that going to dargahs is worship of graves, which is idol worship prohibited by Islam.
Such people need not go to dargahs if they do not wish to, but why should they prevent others from doing so, and why should dargahs be bombed ? This is just hooliganism and jahaalat. In fact, 80% Muslims not only in India but also in Pakistan and Bangladesh go to dargahs, and Hindus also go there.
We need tolerance if our country is to survive and prosper, otherwise it will become another Jurassic Park like parts of Pakistan, where 1000 girls are stoned to death every year for alleged adultery, blasphemy laws,abduction, forcible conversion, etc are used to persecute non-Muslims, health workers who give polio drops to children and vaccinate them are killed, human rights activists, journalists, etc are brutally murdered.
In a subcontinent of such diversity as ours only tolerance and secularism can keep us together and take our country forward towards prosperity. But as for fanatics and bigots, no mercy should be shown to them. They must be eradicated like mad dogs