Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Who is worse Kashmiri terrorists or politicians?

The case of the Jammu & Kashmiri people is in many ways a story of agony. This is a state which best funded by the Central Government, has an incredible natural beauty with tremendous resources. But on the flip side the twin terrors of terrorism and useless local leaders.
This interview with Mehbooba Mufti of Kashmir by Chindu's village idiot Praveen Swami exposes Chindu's inability to pin an anti-National politician down and exposes Mehbooba's inability to talk about real issues.
But now, even officials say there are only 500 militants. There are hardly any encounters. It is time to give the Army an honourable exit from Kashmir.

Probably with Pak's fight against the Taliban, their hired hands mightv'e gone West, but this statement is ridiculous to say the least. Not a word about how she would influence development of the state or combat terrorism.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fwd: Allocation for space research ridiculous : U R Rao

the bunch of jokers at upa are up to their antics and the media is not even squeaking. the systematic attempt at destroying indigenous endeavors of intellectual excellence is not covert anymore. and mind you, this is just the beginning of the term. not until the end of last term did upa let off Q. with upa getting so brazen even before celebrating 100 days in office, we can brace ourselves for one long painful ride. all those vested with powers to act as checks and balances to government overreach must have long been take care of by congress. for example, harish khare getting a post in govt. in fact, the ELM was all greased up long before it was asked to bend over.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: G

Rs 26 Crores for Cambridge University, Rs 23 Crores for Indian Space Research!
Professor U R Rao, the former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the incumbent chairman of the Governing Council of Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, has called the Rs 23 crore fund allocation for space research in India, as "ridiculous".
He said given the amount of possibilities and the pace at which space research has evolved in the country, "we must provide enough support and allow scientists to work at their pace."

Finally the editorial on Lalgarh

And as expected, N.Ram comes out in support of WB govt actions. That it might serve as no additional deterrent is not the debating point. WB govt has failed to make the (symoblic) gesture that it opposes the Maoists. It would have sent out a strong message to everyone that it indeed is serious about curbing the maoist violence. Alas, it chose to support its ideological partners at the cost of national interest. Habitual communist behaviour. Traitors.

And N.Ram, instead of condemning this in strongest language, hides behind legal subtilities. It is also important to understand that CPI-Maoist political venture is a blotched attempt. It is a political party no more than chindu is a balanced paper. There is no reason why CPI-Maoist should be given any negotiating space through political discussions. Naxalism is officially the biggest national security threat -- all the more reason to deal with it in all seriousness. Has not our official policy been recently updated to not negotiate with terrorists.

The Hindu : Opinion / Editorials : The politics of proscription
Those who read too much into the fact that the West Bengal government has not done this forget that it is already a serious offence under the UAPA for a person to associate or profess himself or herself to be associated with a terrorist organisation (Section 38), to support such an organisation (Section 39), and to raise funds for it (Section 40). Given that the punishments under the UAPA are stringent in each case, it is doubtful whether anything much hinges on an additional proscription under another law.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Readers' Editor's Goodbye

Today featured the final write-up of the Readers' Editor K.Narayan. I quote below what I thought were the key elements in his article:

...As for fairness and balance, my concepts were different from what was practised and I was told the kind of balance I expected was not possible. “Improving the performance of the paper” was a no-go area: it was seen as questioning editorial judgment. [emphasis added]

It was therefore no surprise when the critics concluded that the Readers’ Editor was content with clarifying and correcting errors and was not “the conscience-keeper” of the paper, as some wanted him to be. He was just being a postman conveying readers’ views to those in charge. There were yet others who felt I did not express opinions but merely quoted readers’ letters instead of addressing their complaints. These critics assign to the Readers’ Editor a role and powers he does not have; he is not a Super Editor.

I made it clear at the outset that I was neither an advocate nor an adversary. My aim was good journalism. I did express my opinion and question the editorial judgment when the occasion demanded it — on issues like Tibet, China, Bengal, Orissa and so on. Some might have felt it was understated. But that was my way; I do not believe in screaming and shouting. At times like these, the Editor-in-Chief told me that he disagreed with what I wrote and that I sometimes presented a purely negative picture of the paper. But then it is your column, he added. [emphasis added]

...Finally, does the institution of Readers’ Editor have a future? Yes, it has, if the paper has a set of core values and principles and adheres to it. As long as readers look for ethics, transparency, and quality of information in newspapers, the ombudsman will have a job to do. For a newspaper “its most precious asset (is) the bond with its readers,” as Rupert Murdoch has said. Stephen Pritchard of The Observer and President of the Organisation of News Ombudsmen (ONO) quotes Murdoch as saying: “It takes no special genius to point out that if you are contemptuous of your customers, you are going to have a hard time getting them to buy your product. Newspapers are no exception.” [emphasis added]

Well said and well done. It is true, unfortunately, that the Readers' editor is primarily a carrier of letters and his power appears limited to correcting grammatic errors and factual errors only in news reports. News reports can be found in other newspapers, television, etc; what has given The Hindu considerable weight is its editorials and opinions. Here again, The Readers' Editor has no authority to correct factual errors without the permission of the writer even when it involves no special technical knowledge to do so. That leaves the position with only enough power to acknowledge readers' disapproval and dissent and perhaps register a protest against the Editor's actions. Since he was clearly told that the performance of the paper cannot be improved and editorial judgment is not to be questioned, it begs the question why. In any case, as he points out in the end, 'if you are contemptuous of your customers, you are going to have a hard time in getting them to buy your product. Newspapers are no exception'. A good parting shot from a man of humility and integrity.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Push for China

DNA India: India news, World news
Not a swipe-and-smile case. Providing multipurpose ID cards to 1.2 billion Indians and preventing their misuse won't be easy.
At a time when India is embarking on its own, equally ambitious project in UID, N.Ram chose to talk about China's healtcare plans. He then goes on to highlight how India is woefully short of China.
The Hindu : Opinion / Editorials : China’s push for health
‘Health for all’ in a country with 1.33 billion people is a giant challenge. But it also presents a great opportunity, as China is telling the world.

News flash: Google banned in China, Chindu to build new official search engine

When you read the subject it might seem I'm bluffing or joking. But read this article by Ananth Krishnan (replacing the old dame who used to publish the Chinese Xinhua approved trite, I forget her name) you will see the truth :)
Chinese authorities on Thursday accused Internet giant Google of violating the country’s laws even as access to the widely used website remained disrupted for users in China since Wednesday evening.

I'm sure there's some ulterior motive for the ban, probably someone did not give a "gift" or grease some palms. The self righteous posing is simply ridiculous.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang did not comment on whether the disruptions had been caused by the government, but he did accuse the website of spreading “large amounts of vulgar content that is lascivious and pornographic” and of violating Chinese laws.

No wonder Chindu is barking in support of its master's tune.
Coming soon to China new PC's with some safety locks,
Last month, the government announced a controversial plan to install Internet-filtering software on all computers sold in China after July 1. The plan has been widely criticised by many Internet users who see the move as an effort by the government to widen censorship. Access to many websites and blogs, particularly those discussing politically sensitive subjects, is restricted in China.

Thanks to kuttychathan for bringing this up.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How to suck up to any leader - by Natwar Singh

Thanks to T.Chaturvedi for pointing to this editorial.
Mr. Natwar Singh former external affairs minister in this editorial reminisces fondly on old stories about Iran and his association with Ayatollah Khomeini the leader of Iran. In what is an article filled with incidents of how he "adeptly diplomatically managed" relations with the Ayatollah. There are insights like this,
The Iranian political-cum-religious establishment is very powerful, very secretive. Vital decisions are taken behind closed doors. The word of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini cannot be ignored. One may disagree with him in private, but public criticism is not permissible.

He warns those opposing the Ayatollah with,
The Ayatollah is still the supreme leader. The West and Israel would be unwise to take him on.

But Mr. Natwar Singh the Ayatollah you are talking about is dead more than a decade ago! There's a new sheriff(Ayatollah) in town and given your position of ridicule in Indian politics, this statement has little merit. However thanks for you have again proved this blog's point of laughing at the ineptness and ignorance of most Indian politicians and bureaucrats.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CPM doublespeak

Ideology and all that bunkum once again stands exposed. Guys like Karat and his communist folk have repeatedly assaulted the sensibilities of Hindus. Inspite of they repeatedly going overboard, we have done little to counter them.

It is high time we put these guys on the defensive. Here are the basic thumbrules:
All communists are traitors unless proven otherwise.
CPM is a rabidly anti-Hindu, fundamentalist party.
CPI-Maoists / Naxalites are Christian terrorist organizations.

Dont bother about redefining Hindutva or fretting over its connotations. Begin by redefining communism -- especially in the Indian context. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Indian communists have been and are working against national interests.

They indeed have a long history of traitorous behaviour. They were the British stooges during pre-independence. Then they took their salaries from KGB. And now they are the paid agents of China.

They supported China during the 1962 war. They hold that Arunachal Pradesh is part of China. They opposed India's nuclear tests but hailed China's. The list is very long and it just keeps going longer.

We have failed in getting the label "traitor" to stick to the communists. What a failure it is. Everytime the communists shout Hindutva, we should be clearing our throats and shouting back: "traitors". Instead we go back and try to make Hindutva more appealing to these traitors. BS.

The much touted Leftist ideology becomes irrelevant once the tag sticks. A Leftist will first have to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that he has the country's interests foremost in his mind. Does it not automatically make him a "nationalist"?

We have given these Leftists a free ride for too long. It is time we made them play the game on our rules.

CPM doublespeak: It’s right when it is Right and wrong when it is Left
CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat, opposing the ban on the Maoists, said on Monday that his party’s line was to fight them “politically and administratively.” However, such a battle, it seems, is not possible with Right-wing extremists.

While he talked about combating the extreme Left “politically,” he conveniently forgot the numerous occasions on which his party had demanded ban and action against organisations such as the Bajrang Dal and VHP.
Karat's dual rule: Ban VHP but not Maoists - India - The Times of India
Opposing Centre's decision to put the Maoists on the list of outlawed groups on the ground that they are a terrorist outfit, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said the ban would serve little purpose, and that the extremists should be combated politically and administratively.

"It is important because we have to isolate them from people with whom they have been forging relations, Banning them will hardly serve the purpose, as they will come up with a new name," the CPM boss said.

Karat's opposition was also at odds with the strong pitch that CPM has made for ban on VHP and Bajrang Dal, as well as the fact that the outlawed jihadi outfit SIMI remains a banned outfit also in Marxist-controlled West Bengal.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Coming soon: Analysis of the "Letters to the Editor"

Jagannadhan Ravi has painstakingly compiled "Letters to Editor" over a period of 100 days -- a commendable job, which forced our Reader's editor to finally acknowledge. Before this, Ravi has repeatedly written to the editor but none of his letters saw the light. Now, Ravi has shared the spreadsheet with us. Very soon, we will bring it to you along with the analysis.

In the meantime, here is a partial list of events which , he notes, have not been covered during this 100 day period:
  • China's actions in the NSG
  • China's problems with milk contamination
  • OBC reservation: increase in threshold to 4.5 lakhs PA -- no editorial despite several letters condemning the move
  • China's doubt on Chandrayaan
  • Import of 88,000 kgs of milk-related products, possibly with melamine
  • Increase in the cost of Gorshkov
  • Gehlot/Ramdoss on Pub culture

Monday, June 22, 2009

Home ministry bans CPIM - Chindu does not express surprise

In view of the incidents at Lalgarh, the Home ministry has banned the CPIM after discussions with West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
the Centre acted swiftly, invoking Section 41 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The CPI (Maoist) came into existence following the merger of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), the People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC).

Interestingly while Buddha supports the ban, his party for some vague reason is opposed to it.
Mr. Chidambaram said the Left had taken a view which was not that of the West Bengal government. “I hope distinction between the party and the government is still there in this country. I expect that the Chief Minister will look into the matter,” he said.

Oh and in case you are still confused CPIM in this context refers to the CPI-Maoist party and not the Marxist party which is the bulwark of the Left. Sorry for the disappointment.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Reader's comments to articles

Here are web editions of some of the popular news outlets.
Times of India
Hindustan Times
Indian Express
The New Indian Express
DNA India
IBN Live

One common feature among all these sites, which is missing in our favourite chindu, is this: they allow readers to post comments and/or rate articles. Why does chindu not allow readers to express their opinions about articles? The only available outlet for readers is to write to the editor. We have observed several times in the past that these letters are severely censored.

In communist paradise, free spech is abhorred. The desert cults are known to suppress free thinking.

An analysis of Letters to Editor

I have been thinking of doing a similar analysis of Letters to Editor for some time. Just got a little lazy, may be. ;-) Or may be because we all knew what the graph would like.

Dasu Krishnamoorthy did a similar analysis on chindu "during the period from December 2002 to January 2003, opines that The Hindu gives undue weight to only one side of issues. To prove this, he cites (1)examples of news reports (identifiable by datelines) that opines on the issue reported.[14] (These examples appeared in the paper prior to the editor change of August 2003.) (2)A count of op-ed pieces during the two month period to show that one point of view gets more weightage, while opinions differing from the editorial stance are not adequately represented. His main complaint is that the paper does not adequately reflect majority sentiment."

The Hindu : Opinion / Readers' Editor : Online : Issues of acceptance and accommodation
Jagannadhan Ravi (Toronto, Canada) took a totally different approach. He sent me a big Excel file, a statistical analysis of “Letters to the Editor” published for 100 days, from September 17, 2008 to January 12, 2009. The list includes 1,483 names of letter writers, with a daily tabulation of the number of letters, those in agreement with the paper’s stand and those dissenting. He finds there are 12 to 14 letters daily, with one or a maximum of two (none on some days) disagreeing with the paper. There is a detailed analysis of the contents, leading him to the conclusion that there is lack of professionalism and credibility.

Ravi, who says he has been watching the column for years, argues that it is filled with letters that sing paeans to the paper’s wisdom. Certain names appear often, probably because they agree with the editor always. Such letters, in his view, are self-righteous and strongly expressed, while the very few critical ones are meek, almost apologetic.

Varun Gandhi's Speech Tape

There have been two contradictory news items today on the same question: whether Varun Gandhi's speech tape was doctored. The Hindu only quotes the report of the Forensic Science Laboratory and is emphatic that it was not. IBNLive also provides the other part of the story which is the result of the Chandigarh lab:

Sources in the Chandigarh laboratory say the voice in the CD matches Varun’s but it could have been edited to join sentences and make it look like one continuous speech by the Pilibhit MP .

So which one is it? And why did The Hindu not mention this at all?

Differences in coverage of post electoral party meetings

Over a few posts we have discussed how Chindu covers the happenings within the various parties post 2009 elections. In what is worthy of an Ekta Kapoor mega serial by itself, the Chindu covers the sob story which according to it is the BJP's post electoral meeting. From Jaswant Singh crying to Maneka Gandhi accusing to Arun Shourie defending, this article has all the gory details of a post electoral bitch fest.
While this coverage appears to be a frank, but in some ways mean, coverage of the BJP's state of denial of losing, it still does not even coverage as it gave the CPM a more favorable coverage when it was hammered in the polls in the 2 states it contested.
Oh and this article was by a CBCNN favorite writer Neena Vyas.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Is the Left capable of real action?

Apparently Buddadeb thinks that the Maoists (aka Christian extremists) are a serious threat to national security and some action is needed.
Home Minister P. Chidamabaram advised me to ban this organisation. We have to give it a serious thought. We have started thinking what to do

Friday, June 19, 2009

Harish Khare gets his gruel

At last, years of sucking up to Madam Maino has paid off. Harish Khare is MMS's new "media advisor". Harish first caught my eye with this nauseating tribute to a pedestrian speech in 2003. Ever since he has steadily "raised the bar" and is now perching pretty as the PM's media advisor. Rest assured that the Siddhart Varadarajans ,the Neena Vyass and the Vidya Subramaniyans will be mightily motivated to emulate Harish. And there is no reason for me to believe that the self proclaimed, loud mouthed, half brain "intellectuals" on TV will be far behind

The Congress is to politics what Reliance is to corporate India. Both squeeze their workers and handsomely reward their "friends". Padma awards, constitutional posts, acquittals from massive corruption cases.. the Congress is indeed generous.

Welcome to the jungle - Islamic Republic of Iran

Azadeh Moaveni is an acclaimed writer of "Lipstick Jihad" and contributes to various magazines including Time about her experiences as an Iranian woman. To read her opinions on the Chindu about the Iranian crisis was a pleasant surprise.
The entire piece is a pretty good summary of how life is like in Iran under the current regime. Keep in mind here, Iran is far more modern its society than other Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia. But some of the actions by the government in the guise of imposing religious righteousness among its people are truly scary.
Late that summer, authorities launched a full-scale campaign of intimidation against young people they accused of un-Islamic appearance. Within a few short weeks, police detained 150,000 people, and all the women in my life went out to buy the shapeless, long coats that we had worn back in the late 1990s. Though the campaign targeted young men as well, authorities singled out women with particular brutality. The government’s disdain for women increased by the day. Though Iranians fretted about the impact of western sanctions, the government turned its attention to a bill that would facilitate polygamy.

Please note here that this is exactly what the Ayatollah's revolution which was supported by The Chindu promised. This is a great example of what the imposition of Islamic law as deemed by a bunch of old geezers is about. Any media outlet which remotely thinks of supporting the Govt. and its morality police should be ashamed of itself.
The silver lining in this whole incident is that the most oppressed of Islamic society in Iran, the women are finally fighting back. More power to them.
Iranian women emerge from university armed with career expectations and modern attitudes toward their role in family and society. They have patiently petitioned the state to grant them more equitable rights before the law. But at each opportunity, they have been treated with contempt. Their vibrant presence in these protests is signalling to the government that they will not tolerate its discrimination and disdain any longer.

Chindu - Kolkata edition launched

LiC announced the launch of the Kolkata edition.
The new edition printed and published in Kolkata is a first for West Bengal and the whole region. This edition is largely the one that was earlier printed in Delhi for readers in the eastern and northeastern region. There are, of course, appropriate changes on Page 1 and the Sports pages.

One thing which was not mentioned was that all local news would be reviewed by the Ganashakti editor :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Contrasting editorials on Maoist violence

posting this from the comments section.

in the case of jehanabad, n.ram cried foul over opposition to maoist violence. he termed ranvir sena, which was formed to fight naxal menace, as opposition to dalits! maoists were projected as saviours.

in lalgarh, maoists who are fighting along with tribals are only indulging in political violence, acccording to n.ram.

btw, is law and order not a state issue? i remember reading n.ram's editorial advocating that the center should leave matters to the state.

apart from superficially scraping the surface and reading out cpm press releases, we are yet to hear from chindu why there is a conflict in lalgarh. political violence of this scale is hard to fathom unless there is simmering social unrest.

do any of our readers know about the real reasons behind lalgarh unrest.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Compare And Contrast These Two Editorials!!

Help resolve Lalgarh crisis

Social unrest is known to manifest itself as problems of law and order. But the reverse can also be true: sometimes, politically inspired violence seeks the cover of socio-economic grievances. Maoist outlaws who went on the rampage in the Lalgarh area of West Midnapore district of West Bengal, carrying out murderous attacks on workers of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) and destroying their houses and party offices, were looking to settle political scores in t he guise of protesting 'police atrocities.'


A shocking failure of security

.. there is an urgent need to go beyond law and order concerns and place the State's endemic caste and class violence in a larger socio-economic context. The uprising in the naxal belt of Bihar is a product of the social unrest engendered by decades of upper caste dominance. Stories of bonded labour suffering hardship at the hands of the land-owning upper castes are legion. The advent of the naxalites led to the birth of the warlike Ranvir Sena, a caste army raised by the Bhumihars to decimate the Maoists' support base. Needless to say, the Sena's primary targets were the poor and landless Dalits, who, in turn, looked to the naxals for protection and support. That the Maoists were able to mobilise thousands of their cadre for the jailbreak operation speaks to the extent of their support. It is vital that security is restored in Jehanabad at the earliest. It is equally important that administrators begin to address the long-neglected problems of the people.


Posted by Xinhua Ram to The Chindu at June 18, 2009

Why Mousavi Might Lose

Here. The report suggests that Mousavi's protest may not have much substance and the Guardian Council might therefore not entertain his plea for annulment of the results. We will of course know in the future whether this is going to be the case.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Playing both sides of the Iranian field

The recent (sham) elections in Iran has captured the headlines world wide not by the joke which is the Irananian democratic setup, but rather the creative use of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc. by the Iranian opposition to voice their anger against the injustice meted to them by the mullahs.
Chindu in its usual grandstanding view tries to please both sides.
It sings some paens to the Ayatollah,
Thirty years after momentous events brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to the fore as Iran’s man of destiny, his Islamic revolution has skidded into uncharted territory.

Then Chindu skids randomly across the scene and voices a phony surprise over the election and the recent order of a partial recount.
The cake though is this statement,
Only a free, fair, and credibly monitored fresh election can heal a nation that is treading a thin line between fear of theocratic authoritarianism and hope of genuine reform that is not in conflict with the revolution’s fundamentals.

WTF! The revolution of Iran was aimed at bringing the entire population into Islamic law. It suppressed opinions of more than half the population, brought the economy to its knees with various practices and wars. I'm shocked that a newspaper which talks about liberty and freedoms of minorities within India would openly support a totalitarian rule and the crazed mullahs who run that country.

Thanks kuttychathan for raising this issue.

Reds vs Reds

It just beats me: why are maoists fighting leftists? Are they not on the same left side? Maoists are christian terror groups. And christians have a long history of inter-conflict between denominations. Is the maoist leftist fight a fight between two christian denominations? Nice speculation, but you never know.
Reds vs reds: It's war in Lalgarh
Sporadic gun battles and killings for control of villages in rural Bengal that began after CPM's electoral debacle threaten to erupt into a full-fledged war.
India Maoist violence escalates
Three more workers of the ruling Communist Party are killed by suspected Maoist rebels in West Bengal state, Indian police say.
CPM cadres torch 55 Trinamul homes
Statesman News Service
DURGAPUR/TAMLUK, 16 JUNE: Widespread violence marked the CPI-M's 12-hour bandh in Burdwan today to protest against the murder of a panchayat functionary at Mongalkote yesterday. CPI-M cadres fired in the air in several areas of Kulti, Asansol and set at least 55 houses of Trinamul Congress activists at Mongalkote, Katwa ablaze.
Police scoot, rebels ravage
Lalgarh, June 15: Bengal police today deserted Dharampur, leaving the 30-year bastion of the CPM to the mercy of Maoists who unleashed a rampage apparently in the making at least since 2007.

hat tip: xinhuaram

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When courting a particular vote bank is lauded

In an article titled, Ready for discussion with church leadership: CPI(M) the Chindu virtually lauds the CPM's approach of pacifying the Church leadership after they literally asked Christians to vote for the UPA government in the last elections.
The CPM literally begged the Churches to hold this discussion on the "education sector".
In what is a literal propaganda from a Left manifesto the article writes,
The CPI(M) stood for the welfare of all sections of people including Christians. Communists and Leftists had all along worked to preserve secularism in the country and safeguard minority interests. As such, the party considered it appropriate the Archbishop’s praise for the Left for the sanctuary it had provided for the minorities during the recent Orissa violence. It was not a path of confrontation with the church that the communists were looking forward to, but mutual understanding that would ensure social justice in various fields including the field of education, the CPI(M) State secretariat said.

Contrast this with the vigor with which Chindu would shout, if say the NDA government in Karnataka were to hold discussions with the Udipi Shankaracharya for opening Vedic schools! This level of pandering by the CPI-M should be rightfully condemned by any proper media outlet as votebank politics.

Kudos to chindu for publishing this article

I am delighted to read this article on chindu. Subramanian Swamy usually writes on the New Indian Express. I am surprised to see his article in chindu.
The Hindu : Opinion / Op-Ed : Are electronic voting machines tamper-proof?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A welcome note to our new Reader's Editor

Good luck, Mr. K.Narayanan. As someone who followed your progress right from the beginning, I admit that you started off in a promising way until being repeatedly snubbed by the Editor-in-Chief. I am glad you chose to step down after 3 years rather than routinely degrade your ethics and self. If you still have the journalist in you kicking, we would love to have you on our team. :-)

Welcome, Mr. S.Viswanathan. I know the mandarins in chindu follow this blog and you might soon too. We are here with an objective not very different from yours. But thankfully, we don't take our pay cheque from N.Ram or China. Be warned that your new assignment as Reader's Editor can test some of those qualities you have proudly adhered to in the past.

The Hindu : Front Page : S. Viswanathan will be new Readers’ Editor
He brought to his journalism personal integrity, high standards of professionalism, a soft-spoken and modest style, and social commitment.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Scary note for pilgrims

Maybe I'm a bit suspicious of some wrong doing but as per Chindu, apparently something's going wrong with this year's Mansarovar pilgrimage.
One more Indian has died during the Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrimage, taking the number of deaths to eight, Indian Embassy sources said.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

CPM does a self-critical review of electoral debacle

The Hindu : National : CPI(M) State Committee reviews debacle
The reasons behind the reverses suffered by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in West Bengal in last month’s Lok Sabha elections were discussed at a meeting of the party’s State Committee here on Thursday
It is almost a month since the election verdict. N.Ram came out with a few editorials on reasons for Congress' success and BJP's failure. He dared not assess the performance of his favourite party. So, we ignorant proletariat remain ignorant. Let us venture out to hear the verdict analysis from the horse' mouth itself.

Those Writing the Epitaph of the CPI (M) will be Proved Wrong: Prakash Karat | Vote for CPI(M)
What is the meaning of this verdict? How is it to be interpreted?

This is particularly significant since it shows no reversal in the long term decline of the two parties. The non-Congress, non-BJP parties continue to have more than 50 per cent share of the vote.
Always trust the communists to come up with self-contradictory, absurd logic. Later on, Prakash Karat tells us that people rejected Third Front because they chose between the two major parties.
The people have rejected the BJP's claim of providing good governance and defending national security. What they saw in the election campaign was the recurrence of communal rhetoric and the ingrained penchant for communalising all problems including terrorism.
Karat could have written this even before the election results were out. Because no matter what the verdict is, he would have come up with the same explanation. Read Kanchan Gupta's excellent article to understand the politics surrounding BJP's manifesto.
The third point to understand the verdict is that despite the neo-liberal predilections of the Congress-led government, some of the measures adopted have had a positive impact on the people. These are the NREGA ... and some such measures, many of whom were brought under the pressure of the Left parties.
Karat is in a self-congratulatory mood for Congress' victory. What can I say.

The CPI (M) and the Left have suffered a serious setback with the losses in West Bengaland Kerala. ... This calls for a serious examination of the causes for these reverses. We have to conduct a self-critical review to ascertain what are the factors which are responsible for this poor performance.

Both national and state level factors have to be analysed. The electoral-tactical line formulated by the Party at the national level and the national political situation which influenced the Lok Sabha polls must be studied. Alongwith that, the specific state factors in both West Bengal and Kerala must also be taken into account.
Obviously, Karat has no clear answers to reasons for CPM's failure. Every damn thing on earth needs to be analysed now. With Karat not providing any clear direction, our esteemed editor-in-chief and his subservient journalist staff were left to fend for themselves. They chose to wait for instructions rather display great valor through independent analysis.

The serious setback by Third Front is elaborated by Karat and also in an earlier CPM Politburo communique.
The Left parties had allied with certain non-Congress, non-BJP parties in various states. This was required so that a secular electoral alternative emerged. However, these alliances forged in some states on the eve of the elections were not seen by the people as a credible and viable alternative at the national level.
Aah! So it is the people, you see. They just don't understand.

The summary of CPM's election verdict is this:

Congress - Won because of Left policies
BJP         - Lost because of communalism
Left         - Lost because of people

Left gets credit for every success and people get blamed for Left's failure. You can expect more such "self-critical" analysis during the ongoing CPM review of the debacle. You don't even need to be tuned in because Chindu will make sure you can't miss the message.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A Volte-Face on Gubernatorial Power

Today's lead editorial was quite amusing to read. The language has been carefully chosen to only make insinuations against the Kerala governor R.S.Gavai without offering any reasons why his decision to allow the prosecution of Pinarayi Vijayan was wrong. It starts off thus:
Something is clearly amiss in the motivation, manner, and timing of Governor R.S. Gavai’s grant of sanction to the Central Bureau of Investigation to prosecute Communist Party of India (Marxist) Kerala State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in a corruption case. The State Cabinet, acting on the basis of the views expressed by the Advocate General, advised against giving permission for prosecution in the case. But the Governor chose to ignore the advice and gave the go-ahea d to the investigating agency in the long-pending SNC-Lavalin case. Independent of the issue of whether or not he was bound to go wholly by the Cabinet’s advice in granting permission for the prosecution of public servants, the Governor should have shown scrupulous caution and less discretion, given the twists and turns of the case in keeping with the changes in the political landscape of Kerala. Instead of accepting or rejecting the CBI’s request on the basis of the material originally submitted by it, Mr. Gavai went out of his way to obtain additional material as evidence in order to buttress his own decision to grant sanction in the face of government’s advice to the contrary. The hidden political hand at work is that of the Congress, which heads the government at the Centre and is the main opposition party in Kerala.

First of all, we are told that something is amiss in the 'motivation, manner and timing' of the decision. As for the timing, the governor has done so only after the election and so, cannot be accused of trying to influence the polls. Indeed, that fact might have actually benefited the CPI(M).

Regarding the manner, the editorial insists that he made two mistakes: firstly that he rejected the considered advice of the Cabinet and secondly that he sought additional material from the CBI 'in order to buttress his own decision to grant sanction in the face of the government's advice to the contrary'. With regard to the first point, it does not explicitly claim that he acted illegally, only that 'he should have shown scrupulous caution and less discretion'. As for 'scrupulous caution', that is precisely what he showed by seeking additional clarifications from the CBI regarding the material it had earlier presented to him. But that again is held against him by claiming that he was doing so only to buttress a predetermined conclusion, an allegation about which zero evidence is presented. The implied meaning is therefore quite clear: any decision the Governor made contrary to the advice of the cabinet would be indicative of a lack of scrupulous caution and an act involving unwarranted discretion.

That brings me to the next and related question. Did the governor have the legal authority to override the advice of the State Cabinet? The editorial carefully sidesteps this question only noting thus: 'Independent of the issue of whether or not [the Governor] was bound to go wholly by the Cabinet's advice in granting permission for the prosecution of public servants...'. Two out of the three letters to the Editor that have been printed (the majority of which, I have generally observed, reflect support for the editorial position) also ask the same question quite innocently. In reality, the question was settled five years ago by a constitution bench of the Supreme Court in Madhya Pradesh Special Police Establishment v. State of Madhya Pradesh and Others where it ruled clearly that the Governor had the authority to independently examine whether a prima facie case existed (or not) and was not bound to go by the advice of the cabinet. That case was very similar to the present one: it concerned two ministers of the Digvijay Singh government who faced charges of involvement in a land scam but the Congress government had refused sanction. Notwithstanding this, the NDA-appointed governor at the time had granted sanction for their prosecution and the matter ended up in the courts whereupon the Supreme Court held in favor of the Governor.

What is relevant here is not the merits of that judgment but what the Chief Editor thought of it at the time. Indeed not only was he fully aware of it but he considered it important enough to dedicate an editorial to it wherein he wrote the following (I quote excerpts):
The Supreme Court's judgment on the powers of Governors to sanction the prosecution of State-level Ministers is significant in at least two ways. First, by upholding the right of a Governor to override the Council of Ministers in according such sanction, the Constitution Bench has broadened the discretionary powers of heads of States in a substantial and far-reaching way. Secondly, the Court, through its compact and tightly argued 25-page judgment, has clearly defined the limits of a Governor's power in according sanction to prosecute — an issue over which hung a cloud of legal confusion...[emphasis added]

In upholding the Governor's order — and thereby setting aside two judgments of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, which held that a Governor cannot exercise the function of sanctioning prosecution "in his discretion" — the apex court has signaled that politicians in Ministerial office can no longer break the law with impunity in the knowledge that they will not be prosecuted. Provisions in the law that prevent courts from taking cognisance of charges against public servants without prior approval of the appropriate authority (such as Section 197 of the CrPC and Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988) are ostensibly intended to shield this class of people from unnecessary harassment and vexatious litigation. The so-called immunity clauses, however, are often relied upon to abort the very process of justice. In the Madhya Pradesh case, the office of the Lok Ayukta, occupied by a former High Court judge, had conducted a detailed inquiry before concluding there were prima facie sufficient grounds to prosecute the two Ministers. Given this background, it is certainly suspicious that the State's Council of Ministers rejected sanction for prosecution on the ground that there was "not an iota of material" against the two Ministers. As the Supreme Court observed, "there would be a complete breakdown of the rule of law" if a Governor could not act on his own discretion in such circumstances.

The Court's judgment makes it clear that Governors do not enjoy powers to accord prosecution sanctions suo motu; they may act only when the Council of Ministers behaves in a way that "disables or dis-entitles itself." In other words, it is "on those rare occasions where, on the facts, the bias becomes apparent and/or the decision of [the] Council of Ministers is shown to be irrational... [that] the Governor would be right ... to act in his own discretion and grant sanction."

Three things may be observed here quite clearly: (1) The Editor approved of the increased gubernatorial discretion granted by the Supreme Court (2) He believed the opinion had 'clearly defined the limits of a governor's power to prosecute' and thereby ended the confusion that prevailed and (3) He also viewed the immunity clauses as an impediment to the process of justice.

Contrast all of these observations with the words from today's editorial: (1) 'Something is clearly amiss in the motivation, manner, and timing of Governor R.S. Gavai’s grant of sanction to the Central Bureau of Investigation to prosecute Communist Party of India (Marxist) Kerala State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in a corruption case...' (2) 'Independent of the issue of whether or not he was bound to go wholly by the Cabinet’s advice in granting permission for the prosecution of public servants, the Governor should have shown scrupulous caution and less discretion, given the twists and turns of the case in keeping with the changes in the political landscape of Kerala.' Note also the absence of any comment on how the immunity clauses obstruct justice. Instead we are treated to a discourse on how Central governments abuse the office of the Governor for partisan ends, something entirely missing from the earlier write-up.

What explains this double standard or change of heart? The only explanation I can think of is that in the present case unlike the previous one, the CPI(M) has an important stake.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Wacky note in analysis of the Australian issue

Check out this article by Gopa Kumar on the Australian issue. There was an odd note here:
Thanks to Hollywood movies, it is said that even criminals fear the Chinese who are thought to be trained in the martial arts, compared to the peace-loving Indians.

Wow I thought Slumdog Millionaire, Ghajini and Singh is King showed exactly the opposite. But I've been wrong before.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Election Outcome, 2009

Today's editorial, along the lines of previous write-ups in The Hindu repeats the argument that the Manmohan Singh government has been 'richly rewarded for eschewing the “India Shining” model and adopting the “aam admi” model — a shift facilitated in no small measure by the support it received from the Left parties'. This has been a recurring theme in Leftist circles for the last several years - that only some government policies are 'pro-people' which by implication means that others are 'anti-people'. The distinction, of course, has no factual or principled basis but be that as it may.

We are now told repeatedly that schemes such as the NREGA and others gave the Congress the edge in these elections. No study has been done so far to examine any correlation between the districts where NREGA was effectively implemented and the success of the Congress in those parts. Secondly, the NREGA was implemented through state governments; thus its success or failure could, in equal part, be attributable to the latter which were not run by the Congress in many of the states where the party has won. In Karnataka, the BJP won both the recently held state elections and the national election whereas in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP won the state election but did not perform as well in the national election. In Orissa, where NREGA corruption was reported, the Biju Patnaik led dispensation won comfortably. Lastly, if the NREGA has been as successful as proclaimed, we would have expected a reasonable victory for the Congress in the UP state election as well since it was implemented much earlier; yet none was evident then as Mayawati coasted to victory which is not the case this time around. All these diverse outcomes cannot be accounted for based on the NREGA or other supposedly 'aam aadmi' policies sponsored by the Center. It is possible that it was one amongst several factors but its impact ought not to be overestimated. Another more suasive reason I came across in Tehelka is that the party, now in power, has been able to successfully restore its patronage networks through which it used to traditionally dispense favors and this fact brought it greater leverage and goodwill than anything government schemes have or have not accomplished.

This point needs to be borne in mind. As for the CPI(M), it has lost heavily in West Bengal but the overall national performance of the CPI(M) has only come down marginally in terms of the popular vote share. The CPI has actually managed to gain in terms of the popular vote share nationally. The BJP's nationwide loss has however been more acute though this might also be owing to the party's overall size which is much larger than that of any of the Left Front members.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Lack of analysis on the issue of assaults on Indians in Australia

The only cause of concern for Indians used to be sledging and bad umpiring when the cricket team visited Down Under. However the recent attacks on students and others of Indian origin in Australia seemingly for purposes of racial profiling deserves more coverage. There are a few articles on Chindu like how the police used force to break up a peaceful demonstration.
Apparently Amitabh Bachchan of all people took a stand by rejecting a honorary doctorate with some really powerful words,
I have been witnessing, with great dismay and shock the recent violent attacks on Indian students in Australia, on the electronic media the entire day...I mean no disrespect to the Institution that honours me, but under the present circumstances, where citizens of my own country are subjected to such acts of inhuman horror, my conscience does not permit me to accept this decoration from a country that perpetrates such indignity to my fellow countrymen.

So far Chindu has not taken a stance on this issue beyond providing the basic news coverage. I for one would like to see some action taken against the perpetrators of the crime. Given that globalization has its tentacles on most major countries, it is likely that the local population gets its jobs taken away by outsiders who work for lesser money(I'm simplifying the economics here). This is a phenomenon that has occurred from Mumbai to Melbourne. What do you think should be done(beyond improving the Law and Order situation)?