The Whistleblowers’ Haven Monday, Apr 12 2010 

I posted the The Whistleblowers on Jan 28, ’08. At that time I didn’t know about Wikileaks, a safe haven for whistleblowers worldwide. Nobody mentioned it in their comments to my post either.

I happened to read about Wikileaks here a few days back. It seems that they’re doing a brilliant job against all odds.

What do you think about it? Please share your thoughts.

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The Whistle Blowers Monday, Jan 28 2008 

Is corruption a necessary evil in democracy? Do the public encourage corruption by accepting it as a way of life? Because nothing gets done without bribing the government servants.

Are all government officials in India corrupt?

No. Some people like S. K. Dubey and Manjunathan even risk their lives for being different and trying to expose the network of corrupt practices.

In India, top government job means power, status and easy life. But, there is also another factor- the wealth top bureaucrats can accumulate through bribes. If an official is not corrupt at the start of his/her career, he/she becomes one over the years.

But not all. Here is a brave and committed IAS officer, M.N. Vijayakumar, from Bangalore, who has been fighting corruption all his career spanning 26 years. He’s been very systematic. Unlike the two officials mentioned above, he’s been lucky.

The officer’s pillar of support is his wife. She has turned to blogging last year in order to let the world know in detail about their activities. Wide reach of information will also discourage their enemies, she believes. (Link to her blog).

Since he’s a part of the system, he knows it inside out. One of the methods he’s adopted in his fight against corruption, Right to Information Act (RTI), is a provision in the system itself. 

Now they are compiling the names of clean officials so that people can approach them straight away for getting their work done without bribing.

His wife says they have been successful to a certain extent. She says,

“There are plenty of honest people in government who support us secretly, but they are afraid to speak out; some tell us that they will help us when they retire…Several officers have now pledged in writing that they will no longer accept bribes.” (Link)

Frequent transfers, threats of kidnapping and murder and numerous other kinds of harassment have only emboldened them.

Imitation Gandhis Sunday, Jan 14 2007 

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi 58 years ago, on 30 Jan 1948.

Gandhiji continues to inspire scholars and peace activists worldwide. Gandhiji also interests beggars and mean attention seekers.

In Hyderabad city, every now and then, you come across beggars young and old with tonsured heads, wearing a piece of loincloth and carrying a staff in one hand and a book in the other. All these imitation Gandhis are painted in aluminum colur from head to toe. I don’t know why.

Some of them choose a raised spot in a very busy place and stand motionless like a statue of Gandhiji. Frozen while walking.

The trick attracts attention of the curious public, but I’m not sure whether it fills their begging bowl. But that’s not my point.

No one has ever complained about this practice or tried to stop it. No one feels offended?

But this short video on Gandhiji on You Tube and broadcasted on two Indian TV channels has caused a furore. Congress party activists took to streets carrying placards and shouting slogans.

The video insults Mahatma Gandhi and the Nation, they claim.

The government has condemned the action of the TV channels and demanded a public apology from them.

In the video, Gandhiji resists violence with violence; brandishes a dagger, drives an SUV, goes to a bar in the company of two half-naked women and shoots and kills with a gun.

The video was posted on You Tube by an Indian in the U.S. He’s apologised since.

The poor beggars imitating the great man are seeking to fill their begging bowls, but what does this guy want to gain from it?

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To Saddam With Love Thursday, Jan 4 2007 

When the news of Saddam Hussein’s capture in a dark hole exploded towards the end of 2003, and humiliating images of his bearded deranged face, and of his jaws opening for medical inspection, were beamed on television, another old man far away felt something turn inside his stomach.

Seventy-one-year-old P Sivasankaran Nair, for long in the peace of Palakkad in Kerala, rubbed his chest to console himself

Nair was the chief cook at the Basra International Airport between 1982 and 1987, once a heady place where Saddam Hussein used to come for elaborate dinners.

During that tenure, Nair’s path had crossed the dictator’s when he made a Tamil snack called bonda, a type of batata vada. Nair remembers that Saddam was so enamoured with the bonda that he asked animated questions about it.

Long before that meeting, Nair had considered Saddam a profitable god. “I educated my children, married off my daughter and constructed a house with his money. To be honest, I’m indebted to him for all the comforts that I enjoy today,” Nair says. He lives in a traditional house, that has a cosy purposeful austerity about it, in Kalpati, a Tamil Brahmin village.

His gratitude is so immense that when he opened a provisions store in 1989, upon his return from Iraq, he named it Saddam Stores. He sent some pictures of the shop to Saddam Hussein along with a letter in English.

Dear Supreme Leader,

I’d worked in your country for five years.

I came back to Kerala some two years back. To keep myself busy, today, I opened a small shop at my village. It’s my honour to name the shop after your Supreme Name. Whatever I’m today, it’s because of the salary you paid me. By your blessings, my family is leading a comfortable life. Welfare be with you always.

With profound love and regards,

P S Nair.

The letter not only reached Saddam, it also impressed him so much that he released the pictures of Nair’s shop and the flattering epistle to the local media with a statement in Arabic

“So many people come and work in Iraq. But it took one Nair from a distant land to express his gratitude. It’s not religion that matters. But the bond of human love. I’m touched by Nair’s gesture. This is what I call loyalty. This is what I expect from every Iraqi. Insha Allah.”

Nair’s friends in Iraq sent him the clippings. The story didn’t end there. Saddam Hussein sent a personal emissary, Muther Ali, to India who met Nair. And the message was conveyed to Nair that Saddam wanted him to return to Iraq.

But, when Nair cited age-related problems which forced him to remain at home, Saddam welcomed his children to join him at his palace. Unfortunately, none of them were of employable age then. Eldest son Suresh was studying in the tenth standard, second son Murali was in the eighth and Pusha, the youngest child, was in the fifth.

“Saddam conveyed that I was the most loyal citizen of Iraq and the country’s doors would always remain open to me. Ali presented a gold watch and Rs 16,000 in cash,” Nair says, producing the watch from his cupboard’s locker. The timepiece carries Saddam’s picture on the dial.

Nair has removed the watch’s battery to save it from the tedium of being in a working condition. “I’m praying for his welfare. Daily, I do archana in his name at the Shiva temple here. I’m certain he will come out unscathed,” Nair says, throwing his hands towards the heavens.

When he is confronted with the question why he worships a man who is believed to have killed thousands, Nair flashes an angry look. “Who says…?” he thunders. “It’s the US which is harping on this. I don’t believe a bit of it.

Kuwait deserved to be invaded because it didn’t pay what was due to Iraq. Then the killing of Kurds…you should understand Iraq was a military regime. It had its own laws. People who violated the laws also knew the punishment they faced.”

Nair ends his political observations with the conclusion, “It’s Bush who should be hanged.”

(From timesofindia.indiatimes.com, dtd 26 Nov 2006)

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Why So? Thursday, Dec 14 2006 

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday told delegates at
an international conference questioning the Holocaust that Israel’s
days were numbered.Ahmadinejad, who has sparked international
outcry by referring to the killing of 6 million Jews in World War II…

His
words received warm applause from delegates at the Holocaust
conference, who included ultra-Orthodox anti-Israel Jews and European
and American writers who argue the Holocaust was either fabricated or
exaggerated….

Iran
says it organized the conference to shed light on the reasons behind
the formation of the state of Israel after World War II and to allow
researchers from countries where it is a crime to question the
Holocaust
to speak freely….(Link).

I fail to understand why ultra-orthodox Jews are ant-Israel and why it’s a crime in some countries to question Holocaust. Can you please explain?

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Kashmir: The Basics Tuesday, Nov 21 2006 

The basics of Kashmir row are that simple unless you give a spin to them.

It’s on these basics that India and Pakistan have fought three wars and came so close to another all out war during “Kargil War” in 1999.

It’s on these basics that unending bloodshed continues in Kashmir and the terrorists have taken the fight to almost all corners of India targeting innocent people.

It’s on these basics that the two adversaries have been readying for a final showdown in a nuclear battle field.

These basics had been summarized 55 years ago by a lesser known wise Indian, A.D. Gorwala.

Says the Pakistani Government: The bulk of the inhabitants of Kashmir are Muslims. It is a Muslim province. Pakistan is a Muslim State. Kashmir is contiguous to Pakistan. Its people wish to belong to Pakistan. It must belong to Pakistan.

Says the Indian Government: The fact that the majority of Kashmiris are Muslims has nothing to do with the country which Kashmir joins. The ruler of Kashmir acceded to India and the real leaders of the people of Kashmir, Muslims themselves, have clearly stated their desire to remain with India. Kashmir, therefore, must come to India. It is, in fact, a part of India. The part held by Pakistan is wrongly seized by aggression and must be vacated in favour of the real government. Then, we shall have a plebiscite to let the people of Kashmir decide their future.

Says the Pakistan Government: What is the use of such a plebiscite? The result will be a foregone conclusion. For a proper plebiscite, take away your soldiers, remove the government, have a neutral authority in power.

Says the Indian Government: Don’t be silly. Who are you to talk anyway? You let raiders into the land to loot and rape and helped them with your own troops. You are the worst type of aggressor. Get out of Kashmir and stay out. We are not going to let you interfere.

Says the Pakistan Government: But this is absurd. You plotted with the Maharaja. The people you call leaders are really your stooges. There must be a proper plebiscite. Our people are getting very impatient. We clench our fists at you. If you don’t listen and the United Nations don’t make you, we shall seek the arbitrament of war.

Says the Indian Government: Your allegations are false. If you restart fighting in Kashmir, prepare for an attack on Pakistan. In order to show that we are in earnest, we are moving troops very near your borders.

Says the Pakistan Government: This is fantastic. You are preparing for aggression. This is really terrible. Withdraw your troops.

Says the Indian Government: We won’t. It is time you learnt to behave.

Should these arguments be allowed to continue? Haven’t both sides paid dearly for sticking to their respective unrelenting stand? In what terms can we count the cost?

What a tragedy!

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Pesticola War Friday, Aug 18 2006 

The ongoing cola war in India is not the famous battle between the global soft drink giants for outsmarting each other for the domination of the market. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have joined forces in India to fight the public, the press, politicians, state governments and the judiciary.

The two want to challenge the allegation that their soft drinks contain harmful levels of pesticides. They want to prove to all concerned that the testing and quality control procedures for their products follow stringent global standards.

“The Coke you drink in India would be as clean as the Coke you get in Paris,” Coca-Cola Asia group communications director Kenth Kaerhoeg said.

A report published recently by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi, observed that their tests on samples of soft drinks made by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo contained “cocktail of three to five pesticides” exceeding 24 to 140 times the norms set by the Bureau of Indian Standards. They had tested 57 samples from 25 different plants of the two companies.

The report has kicked up a storm of protest which has resulted in six state governments banning Coca -Cola and PepsiCo products in and around Govt buildings and Govt funded schools. The state of kerala has imposed a total ban. The Supreme Court of India has ordered Coca-Cola to divulge its secret formula to Govt investigators.

Though the per capita consumption of carbonated drinks in India is among the lowest in the world, it’s a $ 2 billion market and the two soft drink giants have cornered 80-90% of it.

Can they afford to loose that market lead in a nation of 1 billion plus people?

Links: BusinessWeek Online, Asia Times Online, Time Asia Edition.

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Terrorism and Pakistan Friday, Aug 11 2006 

Since the British Authorities succeeded in unravelling the ‘airline bomb plot’ and arresting the suspected Islamist terrorists in London, Pakistan is painstakingly portraying itself as playing a key role in the operation that averted a huge tragedy.

Pakistan wants to be seen by the international community as a front-line country fighting terror along with other nations and thereby gloss over the fact that its soil is still being used by terror groups.

Two of the arrests made in Pakistan in connection with the ‘airline bomb plot’ are Britons of Pakistani origin. Two of the British Muslims involved in London tube bombings last year had visited Pakistan prior to the bombings. Al Qaeda kingpins are believed to be hiding in Pakistan or on the Pak-Afghan border. Forces fighting Taliban in Afghanistan are aware of the bitter truth that Pakistan is slack in containing the Taliban menace.

And more than anybody else India knows that Pakistan is the breeding ground for Islamist terrorism. Because India is a victim of Pakistan instigated terrorism and has been left alone to fight it without any international support.

The latest major terrorist strike in India was on July 11th (7/11) this year. A series of seven well coordinated and precisely executed explosions in railway stations and on passenger trains that evening killed about two hundred people and injured thousands.

I don’t know whether Mumbai blasts made headlines in the rest of the world as the ‘airline bomb plot’ did.

But Pakistan held a series of press meets to deny its role and lecture India. Pakistan accused India of making baseless allegations and gave Indians some advice!

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Conversion and Punishment Wednesday, Mar 22 2006 

Abdul Rahman, an Afghan, converted to Christianity 14 years ago, but he was arrested last month when his family and relatives reported the matter to the authorities. Rahman is in a prison in Afghanistan awaiting the death penalty for the unforgivable ‘crime’ of denouncing Islam and embracing Christianity.

A convert is considered a traitor, despised and denounced by all and condemned to death by Islamic law (Sharia).

“We will ask him if he has changed his mind about being a Christian,” Presiding judge Ansarullah Mawlazezadah says. “If he has, we will forgive him, because Islam is a religion of tolerance.”(!!!) (Link).

“They want to sentence me to death, and I accept it,” Rahman told reporters last week, “but I am not a deserter and not an infidel.” (Link).

(Photo source).

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Terrorist Attacks in Varanasi Friday, Mar 10 2006 

Varanasi, the holiest city of the Hindus with an unbroken history of thousands of years, became the latest target of Islamic terrorists on Tuesday, 7th March 2006.

The terrorists struck at two places- the first at a temple and the second at a railway station- and triggered three explosions that killed more than 20 innocent people and injured many.

The 400 year old temple was teeming with devotees who had come for evening worship when the first bomb went off. This was the third terrorist attack at a Hindu temple in recent years. Muslim terrorists struck at Akshardham temple in Ahmedabad on 25 September 2002, killing 39 people; a six member suicide squad tried to storm the Ramajanmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya on 5 July 2005 and got killed (a woman devotee who had sustained injuries died later).

The Varanasi blasts once again show how vulnerable India is. Islamic terrorists can strike at a place of their choice at will.

The timing of these latest attacks was calculated to deflate the general mood of self-satisfaction in the Indian establishment prompted by the high profile visit of the U.S. President and the much publicized nuclear deal the two countries have signed.

By targeting devotees inside a revered temple in Hinduism’s most sacred pilgrimage center the terrorists have inflicted another deep wound in the Hindu psyche, which will keep aflame animosity towards Muslims in the collective conscience of the Hindus.

The Islamic terrorists (controlled by their masters in Pakistan) have proven a point and exposed India’s vulnerability once again.

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