Wednesday, September 30, 2009

China now claims J&K is not part of India

Put 2 and 2 together. It is obvious what China is gunning for. China does not see any reason to be pretentious about its intentions towards India. We still have useful idiots like Ananth Krishnan telling us about peaceful intentions of China.

The Hindu : Front Page : Delhi upset over separate Chinese visas for Kashmiris
In a move that has puzzled and annoyed South Block, the Chinese embassy in New Delhi has begun issuing visas to Indian passport holders from Jammu and Kashmir on a separate sheet of paper rather than stamping them in their passports as is the norm with other Indian citizens.
The Hindu : Front Page : Visa standoff leaves Kashmiri students in limbo
But the absence of an official seal in a passport also helps one country with a territorial claim or dispute on another from extending legal recognition to the latter’s possession of the territory under question.

Chindu bats a blind eye to Bofors turn - Q set free

In what is modern India's most recent blatant and high profile Govt. intrusion into the process of justice, Ottavio Quattrocchi, an accused in the Rs. 64-crore Bofors case has been set free.
Chindu lead with a shining example of investigative journalism in this issue (props to Chitra Subramaniam and you-know-who). Due to political pressure from the Congress, both Chindu and IE were forced to give up on the investigation and the frequent change in political power made progress in this case difficult.
Now Quattrochi one of the key accused, friend of the Gandhi family, friend of Mata Sonia has been set free after the court ruled that the significant evidence against him was not enough.
Chindu as of today has these articles on the issue:
There has been no response from LiC in his twitter page either. Greatly disappointed with the heavy handed approach to this whole issue and a lackadaisical response by the Indian media.

Fwd: Commericalized religions mirror economic meltdown

this is good news. organized religion is a threat to humanity. it has wrecked more havoc than an individual or any other form of ideology. christianity has already splintered into various factions. the years of terrible factional wars are behind it and christians have moved on to more peaceful ways by discarding christianity and becoming mainstream fundamentals. while christians have adopted the hindu viewpoint of religion, christianity failed to move on after the religious is because it is still stuck in some event that occured 2000 years ago. as years go by, christianity can only get more irrelevant. recession is only accelerating the process.
on islam and reform, the less said the better.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Girish

Organized religion was already in trouble before the fall of 2008. Denominations were stagnating or shrinking, and congregations across faith groups were fretting about their finances.
The Great Recession made things worse.
It's further drained the financial resources of many congregations, seminaries and religious day schools. Some congregations have disappeared and schools have been closed.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Article on Lashkar-e-Taiba

A well written article on the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in the New York Times today with information gleaned from interviews of ISI officials and Lashkar members. Here are some key points it makes. No credible evidence has emerged of Pakistani government involvement in the 26/11 attack but ISI officials knew of its plans and closed their eyes.

“Some people of the I.S.I. knew about the plan and closed their eyes,” said one senior Lashkar operative in Karachi who said he had met some of the gunmen before they left for the Mumbai assault, though he did not know what their mission would be.

Lashkar's membership and funding has grown since the attacks:
Since the Mumbai attacks, “our funds increased and more people wanted to join us,” a senior Lashkar operative in Karachi said in an interview. A midlevel ISI officer told The Times this year that Lashkar’s membership extended to 150,000 people.

More attacks are a certainty:
Even as new details emerge about the Mumbai attacks, senior American military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials express grim certainty that Lashkar is plotting new attacks...If there is one thing on which intelligence agencies on both sides of the border agree, it is that the consequences of a new attack by Lashkar could be devastating.

“We do fear that if something like Mumbai happens in India again, there might be a military reaction from the Indian side and it could trigger into a war,” said a senior intelligence official in Pakistan.

“Right now we cannot guarantee that it will not happen again, because we do not have any control over it.”

There is also a section about details revealed by the Pakistani investigation. Nothing surprising in all this but it is good to hear it from the horse's own mouth. Read the whole thing here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pittsburgh Summit and Beyond: Are the Proposals to Regulate the Financial System Justified?

Leaders at the G-20 summit at Pittsburgh issued a statement endorsing the idea of greater regulation of executive compensation. The idea is that high executive pay not tied to performance was an important reason for the present financial crisis. There is an entire paragraph on this from which I offer a short excerpt here:

Reforming compensation practices to support financial stability: Excessive compensation in the financial sector has both reflected and encouraged excessive risk taking. Reforming compensation policies and practices is an essential part of our effort to increase financial stability....

Another element of reform suggested was strengthening the Basel II Capital Framework. The Hindu appears to editorial has this to say:

Take regulation and risk. If national governments do not implement the excellent recommendations made by the G20 on bankers’ pay, transparent accounting procedures and prudential banking norms, financial markets will once again start indulging in risky behaviour.

I have not studied this issue in a lot of detail but will point to some articles that present a contrary view that appears quite compelling. See this article in the New York Times which draws on two recent studies to explain why there is little evidence to believe that bankers' pay contributed to this problem and suggests that greater risk aversion among bankers might have actually made things worse than they are. Jeff Friedman makes an interesting set of arguments in this post and this article critiquing Posner's recent book on the subject. In the latter, he argues that the skewed incentives created by the regulatory framework based on the Basel Accords were primarily to blame for the crisis.

Indians prevented from celebrating Durga Puja in Rome

For the large part, Indians have been peaceful expatriates in nations around the world. This issue which happened recently in Rome, (ultimately resolved through the efforts of alert netizens like Kanchan Gupta and Rajeev raising the alarm and the efforts of Indian ambassador Mr.Arif Khan) exposes the hypocrisy demonstrated by the Italian Govt.
On the flip side say had Hindus in Karnataka banned Christmas in one village our "secular" media would be gunning after everyone Hindu from the Shankaracharyas to the RSS and every holy cow on how minorities were not given their rights. Other than the Pioneer not much coverage has been given by the other media outlets.
Where is the Indian Govt. and our "First Italian" Sonia when such double standards happens in her birth country?
Unfortunately though Durga Puja symbolizes the victory of good over evil and not the birth of a child from a virgin mother or the victories of a homicidal maniac. Surely our media would find that offensive to support.
More than willing to listen to your thoughts on this.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A One-Sided Story on Iran

Siddharth Varadarajan's report on the Iran issue yesterday was considerably one-sided. To start with, the headline:

"U.S. overshadows G20 summit with Iran nuclear hype"

Whether the Iran nuclear allegation is more prominent news than the G20 summit or not is a matter of opinion, not fact. Since this was supposed to be a news item and not the title of an op-ed, it ought to have been phrased differently.

The text has this to say:

...U.S. officials say Iran had been forced to admit the existence of the new plant because it feared imminent exposure by Western intelligence agencies — an unverifiable claim that has, nevertheless, been dutifully echoed by the American media...

The Pittsburgh announcement was made jointly by the leaders of the US, UK and France (the German Chancellor also apparently associated herself with the remarks: the full text of the remarks may be read here). Firstly, the intelligence agencies of the first three countries have all declared their previous knowledge of this facility. How likely is it that they are all lying? Secondly, the agencies have claimed they have satellite photographs of this facility from as far back as 2006 and it is even less likely that such a specific assertion will be made if such evidence is not being held in the first place. Thirdly, given that Iran's nuclear program has been put in the spotlight in recent years, it should not be all that surprising if Western intelligence agencies have been aware of the existence of this facility for some time. Fourthly, reporters are briefed by government officials all the time and in most cases, the information cannot be cross verified by other means. Do reporters always preface every sentence in such reports saying the claims and assertions are unverifiable (Varadarajan's own recent report on the thermonuclear test is a good example)? Fifthly, governments are more prone to revealing half-truths than outright lies and there may be more to this matter than what the public has been told but that hardly implies that the limited facts released in this instance are wrong.

Next, he makes the argument about its legality. I quote relevant excerpts:

Tehran’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA obliges it only to provide design information “not later than 180 days before the introduction of nuclear material” into a new facility. Indeed, the Iranian government insists it informed the IAEA about the plant in line with its declared intention of being more transparent with the Agency.

The facility is said to be in the preliminary stage of development, with the introduction of uranium still several months away. Any international inspection of the facility could only come after that point, not before. That is why the IAEA never considered the Natanz facility — whose existence was revealed only in 2002 — a violation of Iran’s safeguards agreement.

In 2003, Iran agreed to a modified ‘subsidiary arrangement’ requiring it to inform the IAEA as soon as a decision to construct a new facility was taken. But Tehran withdrew its adherence to the arrangement four years later, in retaliation for U.N. sanctions.

In March 2009, the IAEA’s Legal Adviser was asked by some member governments to qualify in legal terms Iran’s non-implementation of the new disclosure rules. His reply made it clear that there was considerable ambiguity and the matter was not as clear cut as the U.S. and its allies claimed it to be. While Iran could not unilaterally withdraw its adherence to the new arrangement, the Legal Adviser said its actions “should be seen in proper context.” Elaborating, he said that since the old rules had been considered consistent with a country’s safeguards obligations for 22 years, “it is difficult to conclude that providing information in accordance with the earlier formulation in itself constitutes non-compliance with, or breach of, the Safeguards Agreement as such.”

Though Iran may be on a reasonably firm legal ground, the politics of its latest disclosure could swing either way.

All of this is true but it misses the central point of these allegations which ought to have been a vital if not primary element of the story. This facility at Qom was not built in a day. Western agencies have alleged that the construction has been going on at least since 2006, a time when the Iranian government was still bound by the modified subsidiary arrangment it had undertaken to abide by meaning that it ought to have revealed its intent to construct this facility at that time itself. Iran may now claim that its 2003 undertaking was not legally binding but if this allegation is true, it means that Iran violated it before formally withdrawing from it. At the very least, it indicates a serious breach of trust on Iran's part. This element is completely missing from the story.

To many people in India, newspapers are a primary source of their information; they read them to learn what is going on more than to find out additional facts that rebut what they have already learnt elsewhere. This item appears intended not so much to inform an ignorant reader as to present a defense of Iran's position through a one-sided statement of facts.

Question for the weekend

We have some incredible stories in our rich culture, some of them stretching our limits of imagination. Among the several religious, mythological or fictional stories, did you come across any mention of time travel? I hope I dont need to clarify that I am not taking of rebirths here but traveling into the past and future.

I find it incredible that for a civilization that could put in words some thoughts that are for most humans beyond the wildest imagination (in its literal sense), there is hardly any mention of traveling across time. In my opinion, it doesn't take a flash of genius to come up with the idea of time travel. We all have the impulse in us to wish we could go back into the past to change something, or peep into the future. But here we are, with hardly any stories on time travel. Is there a method to the madness?

We do have a fairly well-defined concept of time, don't we.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

On Capital punishment

N.Ram has been fairly consistent in opposing capital punishment. But he fails to make a distinction between a civilised society and one besieged by barbarians and terrorists. (These intellectuals and jholawallas feed on this phony liberalism.) Is N.Ram out of touch with reality to say India is a civilized society. No, he is driven by an urge to display his liberalism hat. There never was and there will never be a civilized society. At best, there may be fleeting moments or grand pretensions of being civilized. Even before a society manages to become civilized, it will have the barbarians knocking on its door. I am with N.Ram that capital punishment should be abolished in a civilized society. For now lets live with the reality and shove that phony liberalism away.

N.Ram has also advocated stronger laws for combating riots and prosecuting rioters. I am keen to see him campaign with the same kind of vigour against the use of firearms in riot situations. How are rioters ransacking property worse than terrorists targeting lives that the former deserve to be shot at using deadly firearms while the later must be granted mercy? What is required is not abolition but regulation. That is why we have the "UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials" for regulating the use of firearms in riots. And we have the "rarest of rare cases" guiding the Supreme court while delivering capital punishment. To live in utopian world and call for abolishment of capital punishment is a Nehruvian folly.

The Hindu : Opinion / Editorials : Doubly abhorrent
This newspaper has consistently held that capital punishment has no place in a civilised society.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is India's Climate Change Stance Defensive as The Hindu Claims?

Today's lead editorial 'Break the climate deadlock' has a lot of good things to say about what China has done with regard to climate change. There is however little about what India has done; on the other hand, we are adviced to follow China's lead. As developing countries, both have similar interests where climate change negotiations are concerned. There is also nothing inherently wrong in learning from other countries. Rather, the question is whether India is lagging behind China with respect to formulating policies to deal with climate change or in preparation for the upcoming Copenhagen summit. If that is the case, the editorial does not say why or where we ought to catch up.

If China has published its National Climate Change Program in 2007, India released its own National Action Plan on Climate Change last year. Hu Jintao's remarks at the UN were widely covered and can be read here. They are significant for what he did not say but the reader would not guess that reading only the editorial. Here is what The Hindu says:

The first will be a reduction, by the year 2020, of the energy intensity of its GDP growth by a notable margin from 2005 levels. In parallel, China is engaging the United States on climate change with potentially beneficial outcomes for both sides in terms of technology development and preferential assistance. All this should persuade India to abandon its defensive stance.

Hu's actual remarks as relevant here were:

We will endeavor to cut carbon dioxide emissions — (inaudible) — GDP by a notable margin by 2020 from the 2005 level.

Second, we will vigorously develop renewable energy and nuclear energy. We will endeavor to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15 percent by 2020." [ Emphasis added].

In other words, these are self-imposed goals that China will attempt to meet, not a guarantee to the international community to commit his country to those targets. Most of his other promises were either similarly stated as endeavors or were made only in principle with no numbers being offered. Indeed, it was this failure to lay down specific goals that attracted significant attention in other newspapers (see the New York Times editorial here, the Telegraph's take on it here and the Guardian's report here. A US official made the same point as reported in the BBC here).

Jairam Ramesh's statement refusing to accept binding limits imposed by treaty is not inconsistent with what Hu has stated here with respect to China. Just as he announced that China has imposed mandatory national targets, India too is similarly considering imposing unilateral and voluntary curbs on carbon emissions (see here) though in our system, it will naturally take time to consult all the stakeholders before legislation to that effect can be passed (there are many issues regarding the specifics of such a proposal). Hu spoke about the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities embodying the consensus of the international community in accordance with China's climate change program. India's National Action Plan also refers to the same principle (see page 47) and based upon it, concludes that 'developing countries are not required to divert resources from development priorities by implementing projects involving incremental costs – unless these incremental costs are borne by developed countries and the needed technologies are transferred.' The editorial offers no convincing reason to substantiate its view that India's stand is overly defensive as compared to China's.

In the second paragraph, it lists India's problems while claiming that China unlike India has spelt out clear actions to deal with them:

In the Indian context, the poor efficiency of thermal power plants also needs to be addressed. The solar mission, which forms part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change, needs a major push. It is revealing that in 2006, a not-so-sunny Germany produced 2,220 gigawatt-hours of power from solar energy while India’s tally was 19, equalling tiny Luxembourg. To make a credible case at Copenhagen, therefore, a lot of detail needs to go into the eight missions that make up the national plan. The States need to vigorously pursue the green agenda in areas such as sustainable agriculture, water protection, urban planning, and forestry. Here again, China’s policy is on firm ground. President Hu Jintao has spelt out clear actions on renewable energy, greater reliance of non-fossil fuels, and increase in forest cover.

India's plans to improve the efficiency of our thermal power plants and the problems in doing this are dealt with in the Action plan (see page 39). There is also an entire chapter in the plan on the National Solar Mission. The government also announced last month an ambitious solar power plan for the same purpose (though whether it takes off depends on whether western countries are prepared to pay for it and transfer technology for the purpose). Hu may have committed China towards climate friendly policies but how far his country will actually go is far from clear at this time. India has played the game well so far and neither the lack of acknowledgment of some of its steps nor the implied criticism of its stand as 'defensive' are justified.

RSS' Clarification on MoU With China Appears in The Hindu

A truncated version of Shri Ram Madhav's letter denying that it concluded any memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China appeared in the 'Letters to the Editor' section of today's edition of The Hindu under the title 'Incorrect' and may be accessed here.

Asian Union a la European Union? Where do they get these ideas from?

The Hindu : Opinion / News Analysis : Sharm el Sheikh revisited
Former Foreign Secretary, Salman Haidar, revisits Sharm el Sheikh.
But there is no sound basis for such criticism.
He is quite dismissive of the sharm at Sharm el Sheik without offering any new explanations.
In a spirited address to Parliament, the Prime Minister explained his aim: Pakistan has made a frequent grievance of India’s supposed involvement in Baluchistan, and as this is entirely untrue, there is no need for India to look as if it must avoid talking about it.
It doesn't occur to our former foreign secretary that by including Baluchistan in an official statement, we are giving legitimacy to Pakistan's hallucinations and paranoia. Now, Pakistan can go around witch-hunting for evidence. If it can't find evidence, it can create it. Why even get to evidence, it can be content with propaganda. We all know how propaganda and allegations were enough to justify American invasion of Iraq. Mentioning Baluchistan in the statement is important for its symbolism. For the first time, PM Manmohan Singh has given an opportunity to Pakistan to legitimize a baseless allegation. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of foreign relations knows the importance of this symbolism. I am sure it is not lost on our former foreign secretary, Salman Haidar. But like most authors writing for Chindu, he is indulging in distortions and misinterpretations to suit the agenda of self-destructive liberalism.
The only available modality is dialogue, which can now usefully be resumed, for to remain indefinitely disengaged would yield little and could mean that opportunity would be lost.
This is such a poor justification for dialogue and a gross display of dis-ingenuity. Why wouldn't a little posturing work better than greasing up and bending over? The urgency to rush to the discussion table is foolish. Is it hard for the former foreign secretary, Salman Haidar, to see that India and Pakistan are moving along different trajectories, which will only push India into a better bargaining position? Once again, this turns out to be a rhetorical question. It only points to a case of arguing against national interests by the esteemed former foreign secretary.
Looking further ahead, India needs now to view its neighbourhood relations, especially with Pakistan, in the context of its ever expanding international role.
Talking of looking at our neighbours, it might help the former diplomat to consider how China behaves with India. In case Salman Haidar forgot, China happens to be our neighbour after its occupation of Tibet and China also has an ever expanding international role. Makes me wonder if Mr. Haider thinks foreign relations implies relationship with Pakistan. If he had others in his view, he would have considered that China does not make any sort of conciliatory gestures towards India, leave alone concessions. I am in no position to tell this former Foreign Secretary, but surely he could learn a thing or two from China's foreign relations, especially against India.

We have so many people getting onto the chindu bandwagon and telling us how to behave with Pakistan. Why don't these guys demand from China the same kind of treatment that they expect India to give to Pakistan. Surely, foreign relations is not a one-way street.
Within the Asian region, the demands of a new security architecture have come under serious consideration. Some strategists have envisaged an Asian Union that would eclipse in size and significance the EU and be a dominant global entity for the 21st century.
Our eminent diplomat must have heard of partition and the reason behind it? Seriously, where do these strategists get these ideas from. The term "shadowy" he used earlier to describe strategists applies to those who come up with such ideas. How could some one who has been in foreign policy even do anything but be forthrightly dismissive of it. With the collapse of USSR, EU gained some form in a unipolar world. However, the unifying factor between all the small states within EU is the cultural similarity. That is the reason why the admission of Turkey, which is culturally different from the rest of EU, is being opposed. Cultural difference is also the reason why muslims seceded to form Pakistan.

(No matter what we think of cultural nationalism, it is true that our nation is held together, and may be even defined, by the extraordinarily tolerant culture of Hinduism. Islamic countries have hardly been at peace with themselves, leave
alone their neighbours. Muslim majority areas in Kashmir and, more recently, North
Kerala talk of seceding from India.)

For a foreign secretary to talk of Asian union is a sorry state of affairs for our country. It shows that our system is generating individuals who have a dysfunctional and idiotic view of the world. With writers like these, chindu is now turning into a free speech asylum for the lunatics.

Another former bureaucrat voices illogical opinions on Indo-Pak resolution at Sharm el Sheikh

Reading Chindu's "independent" opinion pieces by former bureaucrats leads one to the conclusion that insanity or dementia is probably a pre-requisite to writing articles in Chindu. Case in point is this article, Sharm el Sheikh revisited by Salman Haidar who is a former Foreign Secretary. His defense of the Indian Government's capitulation at the Sharm el Sheikh discussions with Pak is akin to the lawyer defending the actions of Kasab.
For example the addition of Baluchistan into the final release is pooh-poohed by Salman stating,
But the mere mention of Baluchistan is regarded by some as a blunder and an unwarranted concession. As so often in India-Pakistan affairs, all sorts of implications are attached to relatively straightforward propositions; there is constant second-guessing and excessive analysis, so that we tend to advance further and further into the trees, often losing sight altogether of the wood.

There has been little evidence if any to link India to this issue and adding it to the resolution creates a new railing for Pak to cry about.
More importantly though after the Mumbai attacks Pak has spoken a lot but done little in managing its own little shop of horrors called the ISI and apprehending the culprits. But this is defended by Salman,
At Sharm el Sheikh it was also decided not to bracket composite dialogue with action on terrorism...It is true that Pakistan’s response on this crucial matter has been contradictory and uncertain, at times more open than in the past, at other times rhetorical and unfriendly....The only available modality is dialogue, which can now usefully be resumed, for to remain indefinitely disengaged would yield little and could mean that opportunity would be lost.

What opportunity is lost here if India does not have a dialogue with a Pak envoy who represents a Govt. which cannot control either the ISI or the Army?
India has in the past given Pak enough rope to hang itself and it has done that. Repeating past mistakes of forgiveness and holding pointless discussions with an enemy out to harm its citizens is foolish to say the least. But then again who am I but a mere blogger, in front of opinions of a former Foreign Secretary ;).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Congress Signed MoU with China Last Year

Apparently the Congress party signed an memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Communist Party of China last year. The news link is here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

RSS Clarifies on MoU with China

I thank Mr.Ram Madhav for clarifying the position of the RSS regarding the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China (Mr.Bhadrakumar alleged in the op-ed yesterday that the RSS had signed a MoU with China last year - see previous post). I also thank all our readers who responded to this post. I found no mention of this letter or any clarification to that effect in today's edition of The Hindu. So, for the sake of better clarity, I am posting his full letter here.

 Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh
Member, National Executive


The Editor
The Hindu

Dear Sir

Sub: Mr. Bhadrakumar’s article “Who stands to gain from war hysteria”

Mr. Bhadrakumar’s article with the above heading that has appeared on 21-09-09 in your esteemed daily makes the following comment:

“China concluded a memorandum of understanding with the RSS last year and senior RSS figures were hosted by Beijing”.

This statement is grossly incorrect and there was no memorandum of understanding or whatsoever between the RSS and China at any time. Except some NGO to NGO informal visits in which one RSS functionary participated, there were no visits of any RSS leaders which were hosted by ‘Beijing’, if the writer meant by that to be the Government of China.

I am sorry that Mr. Bhadrakumar, who was introduced as a former diplomat, had such incorrect information which he used without verifying in his article.

The RSS’ position on India-China relations, whether in the context of Arunachal Pradesh or Tibet, is well-known. We consider Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India and hold His Holiness the Dalai Lama in highest esteem. We believe that any solution to Tibetan question is possible only with the complete concurrence of His Holiness and his people.

This position may not be to the liking of China loyalists, including the author of the article, but I would like to reiterate that there is no change in our position on that.


Ram Madhav

Keshav Kunj, Jhandewala, D.B. Gupta Marg, NEW DELHI – 110055
Ph: +91 (11) 23670365, 23538171 Fax: 23679914 Mob: +919910064466 E-mail:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

RSS-China MoU?

Mr.Bhadrakumar claims in the lead op-ed today that China concluded a memorandum with RSS leaders last year and senior RSS figures were hosted by Beijing. Is this true? I have not read anything about this in the mainstream press and a google search turned up nothing today. It seems a little strange though for the Chinese government to be doing such a thing with the RSS. For one thing, I suspect it would have made more news if RSS leaders had been invited to Beijing. Organiser might have been expected to report it (I cannot recall seeing anything about this). Secondly, it seems the Chinese would rather have talked to the BJP leadership which would make more sense since the BJP is the leading opposition party. Thirdly, it is one thing for the Chinese to invite RSS leaders to promote mutual understanding but signing a memorandum? What exactly would they be agreeing to since the RSS is not even officially a political organization? I find this difficult to believe. If anyone knows anything about this, please post a comment.

Lastly, it is quite a stretch and an insult to the integrity and intelligence of RSS leaders if Bhadrakumar is implying here that China has purchased the RSS' silence through an MoU. The RSS ought to respond to this claim and clear the air.

Friday, September 18, 2009

V.R.Krishna Iyer on Judicial Appointments

Yesterday's op-ed by V.R.Krishna Iyer is probably one of the very few in recent times where his views have some merit. Much of what he says is not new and the case for judicial commissions have been pushed by others most prominently Prashant Bhushan who has also been in the forefront of this campaign.

The idea of judicial commissions has been pushed as an alternative to both the existing system of judges appointing other judges as well as the earlier system (which is what the framers originally envisaged) of the executive branch making appointments. The accusation of favoritism has been made in both cases and now, the charges of corruption that we increasingly hear are being laid at the door of the judiciary which devised the present opaque system of appointments. To be sure, charges of judicial corruption have grown enormously in recent years to the point that such charges have been routinely made in the bar long before they started to appear specifically in particular cases in the press.

I write here to address a few of these points some of which no one in the media appears to have written enough about. The first is whether corruption is a feature exclusive to the present set-up. My guess is that it is not. When other instititutions of the state have been corrupted, it was naive of the judiciary to think that it could remain free from the same problem for long. Surely, the same wind would blow its way sooner rather than later and indeed, that is what appears to have happened. So is an alternative set-up such as a national judicial commission likely to solve or mitigate this problem? No one knows but it would be one way to establish a clear process, make it transparent and more accountable. That by itself is not sufficient to resolve the problem but the sigificant political component of such a commission would ensure a greater degree of accountability. That might very well happen even with the present system given the level of public scrutiny but if the collegium chooses to ignore the matter and persist with the appointment, there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it except protest to various authorities (the bar can go on strike but it cannot change the fact).

The second is the question of judicial merit. No one seriously disputes that judges today lack the stature, qualities and performance of their counterparts in the early post-independence era. At that time, a High Court appointment was considered a very prestigious assignment; today in contrast, most lawyers do not want to join the bench and those who do are not particularly skilled at their job. The question though is whether this is due to the present system of appointments. In my view, it is not. Candidates are chosen from amongst the pool available for the office regardless of whether the choice is ultimately made by political leaders or by judges. Most candidates chosen in recent years have had reasonably good credentials even though their performance on the bench may have been below par. Reasons for this have to do with factors other than the appointment system such as the quality of legal education, understanding of the role of the judiciary, case overload, etc. Does this mean that a national judicial commission will not change the kind of judges that we have on the bench?

My guess is that it might very well change the sort of lawyers who are being appointed to the bench but whether that is for the better or worse would depend on how one interprets those terms. Those who are pushing for the national judicial commission such as Prashant Bhushan and Krishna Iyer have their own reasons for dissatisfaction with the present system. Very important amongst these is the failure of present-day judges to espouse the philosophy of judges of the earlier Krishna Iyer/Bhagwati era. Their belief is that a judicial commission which restores the system of political appointments would make it easier for them to aggressively push for judges sharing that worldview. There is a good possibility that this might happen. No political party including the BJP is prepared to confront socialist rhetoric and they are more likely than not to succumb to pressure particularly when a media campaign is launched.

Thirdly, a word about multiple commissions not only for appointment but also to assess performance and to inquire into the assets and liabilities of judges. A commission for appointments is more justifiable than for the other two. For one thing, there is no unique or universally accepted method of assessing judicial performance. It is much easier to lay down quantifiable criteria than qualitative ones but in a judicial system, the latter is no less important than the former. A judge forced to dispose a certain number of cases could end up sacrificing the quality in the bargain (in fact, that may be happening already since case disposal frequency is believed to be one of the considerations in elevation of judges to the Supreme Court; the Sikkim High Court is considered a punishment posting because there are so few cases there and it undermines a judge's chance of elevation to the Supreme court if appointed there). A commission to inquire into assets and liabilities suo motu has its own problems. It is a cardinal principle of law that no individual ought to be investigated without reason. To inquire into assets in the absence of any complaint is to subject judges to undue harassment.

Lastly, a word about a national judicial commission for appointments. One of the concerns with proposed models is a parity of the government and everybody else, i.e., the opposition is also granted a place along with the higher judiciary and possibly other 'eminent' individuals to decide the matter. But in any democracy, an elected government has greater democratic legitimacy than parties that lost the election as well as those who have not contested it. To put them all on the same pedestal will have the effect of undermining the preferences of the electorate. Clearly this is a flaw in the proposed system. One way to resolve it would be to allow the government to make the choice and thus determine the ideological orientation of the appointed judges while guaranteeing a say for everyone else involved in the process in determining whether the individuals exhibit the requisite integrity and qualifications for office.

As Krishna Iyer notes, a constitutional amendment is required for any such change which has so far proven to be elusive. That position is unlikely to change in the immediate future but more episodes such as those of Dinakaran and unsatisfactory answers from the judiciary may provide a push to such efforts.

Mayawati's Statues and the Supreme Court

I was intrigued to read this news item today in The Hindu about the Supreme Court's intervention into Mayawati's statue building project. Here is what Justice B.N.Agrawal said:

“Suppose today the legislature decides that 80 per cent of the budgetary allocation should be spent on such works of memorials and statues, is it not justiciable,” Justice Agrawal asked. “The Cabinet and the legislature have to act within the framework of the Constitution.”

Actually, it is not justiciable. The legislature is at full liberty to decide to spend 100% of budgetary allocation on memorials and statues. There is absolutely nothing in the constitution to prevent it. We are supposed to be a progressive country but what is progress is for society and its leaders to decide. Also, democratic societies are not required to progress owing to any law. They are perfectly entitled to rot.

Mayawati is free to launch an aggressive monument building enterprise and convince people of Uttar Pradesh that it is in their best interest. The people, likewise, are equally free to throw her out in the next election if her explanation does not convince them. Either way, the Supreme Court has no say in the matter and its intervention is entirely unwarranted.

More of peaceful china nonsense

Invasions are driven not by rational strategists but by imperialists. Take the case of Alexandar or Pakistani jihad. They wouldn't have stepped out of their house if they went by the rational strategists. It is a pity that we have such guys formulating our policy. China is fueled by an imperialistic ambition and any failure to recognize this is a Nehruvian blunder (pun?). China's huge investments in the hostile Tibetan terrain to make it more accessible to troops has completely been ignored by this "Harvand-trained economist and China scholar". Or the splashing around on water issues. China's position in Aksai Chin gives it a superiority to neutralize any Indian Air Force superiority.

We all know the purpose of this article - not to provide any objective assessment and inform the reader but to peddle more of that peaceful China nonsense. The only difference is that chindu roped in someone with a "Harvard, China scholar" tag instead of the regulars. Same old stuff, really.

The Hindu : Opinion / Leader Page Articles : Myth and reality in India-China relations
On our borders and contiguous areas, moreover, the Indian Air Force is far superior while the terrain on our side of the border provides a much shorter and friendlier supply chain. China’s is very long and through more hostile terrain. Invasion therefore cannot be in the mind of the rational Chinese strategist.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rahul Gandhi thanks you for paying his trip to Tamil Nadu

Recently Rahul Gandhi made a trip to TN which cost around Rs. 1 crore. Chindu in a mocking tone points this out to its readers.
Apparently Rahul Gandhi made a recent statement,
As a politician, you have a duty to be austere

Guess this was charged back to the Central Government for which you are paying taxes in one form or the other.
Thanks for the help, suckers.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Xinhua's proxy propaganda paper

Here is an example of propaganda: creating legendary heroes in China and celebrating the falling giant in North America. Sounds as if N.Ram is trying to justify his sucking up to the Chinese.
The Hindu : Opinion / Op-Ed : China’s ‘Iron Man’ an undying legend

The Hindu : Opinion / Op-Ed : U.S. power waning: report

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An honest Obituary - lessons for the YSR apologists

Writing a good obituary is an art. There are several unwritten rules like avoiding speaking ill of the dead, the act of selective forgiveness of those who passed away. But the late Hunter S. Thompson broke all those rules when he wrote about the death of Richard Nixon in a piece 'He was a crook' in the Rolling Stone. Some excerpts.
Richard Nixon is gone now, and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing -- a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family.

Another nugget,
If the right people had been in charge of Nixon's funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning.

Coming to the main topic, the passing of YSR. Most major media outlets sang praises of this corrupt leader who put petty sectarian politics ahead of state priorities, a leader who ran the state treasuries to the ground to serve personal interests, a leader who was a puppet of the Christian missionaries to abuse state authority, machinery and coffers on an agenda of conversion. Good riddance of this asshole. The country is better of the departure of YSR.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Has Ramzan made Pakistan insane?

Apparently all the fasting for Ramzan has made Pakistan insane.
Pakistan, once again, reminded India on Monday of the agreement at Sharm-el-Sheikh to share “actionable” intelligence to prevent future terrorist attacks, and urged re-activation of the joint anti-terror mechanism and composite dialogue for “pragmatic co-operation” in dealing with terrorism.

WTF! India should nuke the sh!t out of Pak just for making idiotic statements like these.

Reader's voices

Here are some thoughts from our readers,
Kuttychathan said
I was expecting a story about how the jehadis are going to celebrate the coming Ramadan. Perhaps, the fall in circulation has begun to pinch...

In response Xinhua Ram said,
Fall in circulation, Kuttychatan? That can only be good for India, ain't it?

Bhagiratha is concerned about Chinese aggression and land grabbing tactics. Unfortunately this would not be covered by Chindu unless it was a Chinese rebuttal.
And lastly an Anonymous reader points out a Supreme Court ruling asking the Kerala Government to start paying the teachers for 17 years.
Long live the Left and Congress and their bankrupt policies.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal objected by the Chinese

What happens when one of China's main antagonists visits a place it thinks to be part of its country?

We firmly oppose Dalai visiting the so-called 'Arunachal Pradesh'," Jiang Yu, the spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry, told Reuters.

Indian Govt. snubbed the Chinese saying they had not control of where the Lama visits within India.
No comment from LiC, perhaps some one should tweet him about this :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Social media and the fight against ELM

Sanglia, Miraj riots: Muslims hoist their flag on Indian police vehicles, break Hindu festive pandals/idols

Considering asymmetric warfare situation Hindus are in, it is important that social media be used more effectively to counter the ELM menace. The above amateur video is such a powerful message. Any amount of paper or editorial posturing cannot alter the message conveyed so powerfully by the image of a muslim rioter standing atop a jeep and waving the muslim flag, with the police inspector standing helplessly infront of him. This helplessness is not because of the numbers in the mob but due to the muslims being beyond the reach of the executive wing -- both law and justice. Any action against muslims will immediately be declared as police brutality by the jhollawallas, media and the sickular parties. And then, there are the numerous committees that invariably come to the same conclusion of muslim infallibility, a more recent instance being the Ishrat Jahan case.

But here is social media providing a level-paying field -- just the right opportunity for us to fight for our survival. There is also the power bestowed by anonymity in case you need it to fight against the powerful adversary. If you are protected by the free speech laws (tip: doesn't include India), without the fear of law suit, you can rightly say, for example, that Barkha has blood on her hands. Facts dont fall prey to power, position, reputation or interpretation.

Nowadays, most forms of online content creation and management systems have some form of social networking built around them. A social media, a network formed around online journalism, can build rapidly through user participation and creation of original content including opinion and analysis. Interestingly, the size of the network doesn't change the rules of balance and fairness. Reputations built over long periods can vanish with a single click. For example, just this article by Ananth Krishnan is enough for me to turn off my subscription to his blog feed (if he has one). Or an article could be highlighted through a viral marketing or a social bookmarking site to severely tarnish the author's image. As in newspapers, the wider the audience the greater the need to maintain balance. But the crucial differences are in accountability, freedom and the participatory effect.

In newspapers, reader response, which comes in the form of letters to editor, could be and is often always regulated by the editor him/herself. It is really a case of take of leave it, with little power in the hands of the reader. This is the reason why we have the current endemic corruption in ELM. In case of social network, the reader's response is swift and almost instant. Except foul language, reader's views are generally accommodated. In those instances where comments are severely regulated, the discussions eventually move to another site providing a fair opportunity for meaningful discussion. This means, no matter where the original content is posted, ultimately opinions formed through an open and logical discussion tend to hold longer. Entities that value their reputation understand this. For example, if you had a bad experience with a reputed hotel, post an honest review on a not-so-obscure social website. You are more than likely to invite a response from the hotel. This level of accountability does not exist in traditional media. It is truly empowering in online journalism built around social networking.

I have briefly touched upon the point of freedom in my previous example. I will elaborate it a little more here. Social media also has the ability to regain its freedom from any form of control that attempts to regulate opinion. This is another crucial difference which must make us all jump to social media. In the case of chindu, we have all seen how the newspaper moved from a quality newspaper to a red rag of yellow journalism when N.Ram became the editor. Editorial judgments in newspapers are susceptible to change in editors, management, investors, etc. But social media is more likely than not to retain its freedom from oppressive control. Let me give a couple of examples.

Take the case of wikipedia. Making changes in wiki can be a fairly tedious process. It is now more or less controlled by a bunch of individuals who are sitting up the hierarchy in a graded system. While it is by no means losing out on its popularity, its growth rate is definitely slowing down. People who have spent enough time on the wiki know that it is not the best source for certain types of information. Wiki is probably a very generic example but it still shows that when people do not get an opportunity to express their opinions, they are bound to react and react quickly in the online world.

Sulekha was popular with a fairly large community -- both as a news aggregator and opinions outlet -- until it decided to regulate free speech. Eventually, it fell out of way with a large part of the Indian diaspora. It probably still has some following but articles by authors like Rajiv Malhotra and Sankranth Sahu generated some discussion.

There are two main reasons why social media is likely to retain its fairness. One, it is not possible to regulate speech on internet. China is trying it and it failed even before it started. Second, the vast majority of us like to believe and demostrate that we are fair and that our opinions are based on sound judgment.

Online discussions have a strong participatory effect on the reader. When a reader reads an article in a newspaper and responds to it by writing a letter to the editor, the conversation usually ends there. In an online setting, when the user reacts to an article, the conversation begins. In a discussion with the author and other participants, new facts are brought in and  existing positions are reevaulated. So, by participating, the reader is contributing to the group arriving at a more objective opinion. It pushes the reader from a passive consumer reacting to an article by writing a letter, to an active participant involved in evolving collective consciousness.

We have been demanding for a very long time or we just didn't care enough about media bias by choosing to live with it. In either case, we can't afford to lead our life as second-class citizens and let the media shape public opinion against national interests. Most Hindus have at some point experienced the vulgar display of power by Muslims. But it is to the media's credit that the incidents are always projected as isolated cases. The colonised Hindu mind has failed to recognise the pattern. Until now, we didn't have an opportunity to share/piece this information together.

Social media is a good way to counter the ELM propaganda. With a critical mass, social media changes the equations significantly: ELM's ability to regulate news and opinions diminishes and with it its ability to channel public opinion. The entrenched power centers begin to evaporate. Most important of all, the ELM which enjoys unbridled power will be made accountable to the public. I wish more Hindus drop their lethargy and take some action. Even if the EVM's have been tampered with, there is still hope. Get onto social media.

There are idols and there are sameness(is that what the church calls christian idols?)

Compared to the restraint shown while reporting the Sangli riots(a brief mention of curfew on 7th, and a report on 8th), Chindu looks like it is screaming on top of its voice about the vandalised church.

It hits the front page
The Hindu : Front Page : Church in Hebbagodi vandalised

And there are detailed reports in Karnataka section, with BJP being routinely dragged in as the perpetrator.
The Hindu : Karnataka News : Miscreants vandalise church in Hebbagodi
The Hindu : Karnataka News : Yeddyurappa: church attackers won’t be spared
The Hindu : Karnataka / Bangalore News : BJP workers behind church attack: Congress

And just to make sure you didn't miss it, there is also a photo on the front page article.

Good work, chindu. Indian Christian News Online will be proud of you. Now, only if you could donate some of that Chinese money to them. I am sure you will understand that the parasitic cousin of yours is just as greedy and unscrupulous as you are.

Below is the bit that made me cringe. I felt like I was reading the typical church propaganda material. If only information was not available at fingertips, I would have had to go by the words of the esteemed "special correspondent" who compiled this report.
The Hindu : Front Page : Church in Hebbagodi vandalised
This Catholic church, named after Saint Francis, was established over four decades ago. “We belong to the Missionaries of St. Francis, which has been in existence for nearly 150 years. We are catering to the education, health and other needs of people in rural areas,” Father Aloysius said.
Here is the mission statement from official website of Missionaries of St. Francis: “I want missions.”

Oh, btw, don't be fooled by N.Ram's TamBram descent; he is a christian by injection.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Incompetence galore in the YSR accident saga

The whole YSR accident saga is filled with incidents of incompetence like:
Apparently the home minister of AP is inviting experts from New Delhi.
Think of the irony here, they are having difficulties finding programmers to decode a black box of all places in Hyderabad and have to outsource it to Delhi and potentially US!
If only Chandrababu Naidu was CM :)

YSR saga and its coverage

What are your thoughts on the whole YSR saga and its coverage on Chindu?
Sorry for the lazy post here, but I had been on a break and will continue posting soon.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Should the Government Go for the Real Thing?

The Hindu's editorial position on the Women's reservation bill appears to have hardened over the years in favor of its passage. I quote excerpts from its 2003 editorial on the subject where it notes many drawbacks of this proposal:

Of course, the Bill is not without its infirmities. The provision for rotation of constituencies reserved for women could alienate the elected representatives from the voters when they know their constituency would be reserved or dereserved in the next election. The alternative of permanent reservation of constituencies is equally unattractive, as that would deprive men in a reserved constituency the chance of getting elected for all time. In such a context, the demand for a debate on alternative proposals, including the one that stipulates a quota for women in party nominations, needs to be taken seriously. The shifting of the onus for providing reservation on the political parties holds the added advantage of not requiring a Constitutional Amendment, as an amendment of the Representation of the People Act would do.

It goes on to say that given the repeated stalling, 'it is better to look for consensus on alternative proposals than endlessly repeat the taking up and stalling of the present Bill.' Later editorials in 2005, 2008 and the latest one have insisted on its passage as is. The 2008 editorial explicitly rejected the proposal to provide for a quota in party nominations:

The suggested alternative — that political parties be mandated to nominate women candidates to at least one-third of the seats contested — is equally flawed.

The latest editorial again pushes for its passage simply saying that the benefits of reservation in a profoundly inequitable society such as India's are evident to all. So what happened to all the concerns expressed earlier? Are they no longer valid? Besides, I have seen no systematic studies showing that reservation for women leads to overall gender empowerment. Unlike with education and employment, the purpose of electing representatives is not so much about individual empowerment but that they can and will do things that men are unwilling to do. Empirical reports have shown that women may have priorities different from men but that does not automatically imply superior results. Also, a recent paper showed that a quota for women initially brings them name recognition that can help them win elections later on without it. The trouble though is that these changes, if enacted, are going to become permanent features. Even if women are later able to win on their own in sufficient numbers, reservations are unlikely to go away. Altogether, there are sufficient reasons to doubt the advantages of this bill. The fact that The Hindu has shed its earlier skepticism does not mean that we should.