Tuesday, December 30, 2008

100th post at the eve of new year!!

It is the last day of a very eventful year, 2008. All TV shows, papers and magazines have their 2008 events list ready this time of the year. Keeping in with the trend , I thought it only apt that kplogs should do an event list of its own. 2008 has been a defining year for India in more than one way. India has had a roller coaster ride in 2008. Nevertheless, 2008 has put India another step closer to the dream of becoming a true superpower. Here is the glimpse of why I believe 2008 will go into history text books in the years to come.
1. 14th Jan 2008 : India shocks the world by surprise as TATA showcases the Nano, the cheapest car in History.
At the auto expo in Delhi, Ratan Tata unveils a 'dream-come-true' for many middle class families. With a mesmerising launch theatrics, Tata announces that the car will actually be sold at Rs 1 lakh. He creates news, world over as he brushes away cynics claiming the highest safety and performance standards for his car at that price.
2. 18th April 2008 :The inaugural 2008 IPL tournament starts in Bangalore
A brain child of Lalit Modi, that saw a revolutionary change in the way cricket was perceived and introduced innovative methods that hooked viewers from at least 25 nations across the world. IPL lasted for 46 days, with 59 matches scheduled, out of which 58 took place and 1 was washed out due to rain.
3. 28th April 2008: India creates history by launching ten satellites in one go.
The Indian Space Research Organisation saw the 230-tonne Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C9) put into orbit an Indian Mini Satellite and eight foreign nano satellites besides the Cartosat-2A remote sensing satellite.
4. 13th May : Bomb blasts rock Jaipur.
Terrorists strike at Jaipur's busiest market, at the busiest hour, leaving 80 killed, and with over 150 injured.
5. 25th , 26th July : A series of seven bomb blasts rock Bangalore and several blasts disrupt Ahmedabad.
Bangalore struck by terrorists with 7 serial blasts killing 2 and injuring 20 and on the next day, a number of bomb blasts in Ahmedabad, kills 45 and injures over 160 people.
6. 11th August : Abhinav Bindra bags India's first Gold Medal in an individual category at the Beiging Olympics
Abhinav Bindra won the Men's 10m Air Rifle final after shooting a total of 700.5. He scored 596 (fourth) in the qualifying round and out-scored all other shooters in the finals with a round of 105.5. In the finals, he started with a shot of 10.7, and none of his shots were below 10.0.
7. 30th September: India signs historic civil nuclear deal with France.
Dr Manmohan Singh persuades France to be the first ever nation to sign a civil nuclear deal with India. This broke the chains that had prevented India to develop nuclear energy solutions for 34 long years.
8. 12th October: Sister Alphonsa Muttathupadathu becomes the first woman of Indian origin to be canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.
The Pope declared Sister Alphonsa a saint, after reading excerpts from the Holy Bible and himself read out the biography of Alphonsa after the ceremony.
9. 15th October: Aravind Adiga wins Booker Prize.
His debut novel "The White Tiger" wins him the prestigious Man Booker Prize, putting him on the list of Indians who have won this honour.
10. 17th October: Sachin Tendulkar becomes leading scorer in Test Cricket.
With 494 runs in 4 tests in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series against Australia, Sachin becomes the leading runs scorer of Test cricket.he also becomes the first batsman to score above 12000 runs.
11. 22nd October : Chandrayan I India's first mission to the moon launched into orbit.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched Chandrayan I into orbit from Satish Dhawan Space Station, Sriharikota.
12. 26th November: Terror Strikes Mumbai.
Ruthless terrorist attacks in Mumbai at Hotel Taj, Oberoi Trident, the Nariman House and Cama Hospital shocks the world, and creates a new wave of anger amongst Indians, seeking for a complete change in the National security policy.
That was 2008. With all its highs and lows, it has taught us a lot. India is certainly in the center stage of action.
kplogs has another reason to celebrate this year end. This post is the 100th post on kplogs. After 1,323 views, 84 clicks from external sites and 226 comments in all it certainly feels like kplogs has come a long way. I want to take a moment to thank all readers of kplogs for the support and the encouragement.
Wish all the readers of kplogs, a prosperous,happy and peaceful new year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Please Give Peace a Chance

Mr. Ehud Olmert,
The Office of the Prime Minister,
The Knesset,

Dear Mr Prime Minister,
I thought of writing to you much later. But the recent Israeli air strikes against the Hamas has put into me a sense of urgency and I thought it much relevant to write to you now. Firstly let me introduce myself. I am a perfectly balanced unbiased citizen of a country that proudly boasts of being a nation that has provided refuge to millions of races cultures and ideologies for more than 5000 years. I am an Indian.
I come from the same place where a frail old man who could not stand on his feet without the help of aides, taught the world that the only way to really win a war is through peace. We call him the Father of our nation. He is remembered world over (thanks to Attenborough and Sanjay Dutt) for having invented a very important and the only successful method of fighting against oppression. The theory of non violence.
We Indians have suffered attacks by terrorists all through out our History. Barbaric kings, emperors, the mughals, the colonists and a whole gamut of terrorists have plundered our lands. History has taught us something very important. Here is a gist of it.
Since the beginning of mankind, Man has been in war. It was first against fellow hunters and later against nomadic groups. He fought for his lands and his women. He later fought fought gold, and wealth and money. He fought to rule over the world. He fought for nations. He fought for nuclear supremacy. Then came the age of the World Wars and the Cold war. Each war led to another. Each aggression created a new one. When groups were trained to fight a war against Russians in Afghanistan, after the war these groups formed the LET,and the Al Khaeda. Some days back India was attacked by terrorists again.
History has ample evidence to show, that military aggression has no end. One leads to another. Sure, it can appear dominating or even brave. But History has taught us that every aggression can kill people at the best, innocent civilians women and children. Aggression can never kill War.
Some people in my country often tell me that India should be like Israel , tough on terror. Some people even think that the air strikes you carried out was the best action against terrorists like Hamas or even LET. I want to tell all these people just as much as I want to tell you that with all your great tough stand on terror, your highly specialised military forces, your non -negotiation and aggression policies, you have been an utter failure.
You are brave and even tough but you have been waging a war for nearly 2 decades now. Several times have you struck terrorist camps and celebrated. Several times you have fought ruthlessly and have killed hundreds. But I am afraid your problem is still not solved, it is just as bad as it was in 1988. If you think you have sent a strong message against terrorism I am afraid that your message was only an invitation for revenge. A revenge which will see more terrorist attacks and more deaths of innocent people all over the world.
I wish you could just learn from history, just as much as I wish that my country will stand up to the reputation of being the birth place of Gandhi. I wish you could have enough sense to see no air strikes or bombs can kill terrorism. I wish to remind you that now more than ever, the only thing that can save the world is peace. Peace at all costs. Even against terrorism. Resort to dialogue. Resort to non violent opposition.
I may sound out of fashion, to suggest that peace can win over ruthless terrorism. Please listen to the lessons of history. Even if we win a violent victory against terrorism, it will be no victory at all. For war can kill some people , leave other people wounded at heart. War will create more hatred. We need to stop this.
Peace may not look brave. But it the only chance for my children to see a beautiful world. Please give peace a chance!!
Yours sincerely
Innocent Civilian

Sunday, December 28, 2008

You can't cure Terrorism with ASPIRIN !

When I looked up the Wiki link for 'Ajmal Amir Kasab' the only sole surviving terrorist of the 26/11 attacks, who has been reportedly singing like a bird to the Indian authorities (and the FBI??) I was revealed to a new dimension of his personality. I wish to present two interesting aspects that he has supposedly revealed during interrogations.
1. The first excerpt from the wiki page Ajmal Amir had but a limited understanding of jihad, based on the statements he made to authorities. He told interrogators "it is about killing and getting killed and becoming famous." "Come, kill and die after a killing spree. By this one will become famous and will also make Allah proud," is what the suspect said when police asked him what he understood about jihad.[78]........"When we asked whether he knew any verses from the Quran that described jihad, Ajmal Amir said he did not," police said. "In fact he did not know much about Islam or its tenets," according to a police source.[78]
2. The second excerpt from the same page He shocked police through his readiness to switch loyalties now that he was apprehended.[78]...."If you give me regular meals and money I will do the same for you that I did for them," he said.[78]
These reports seem to suggest that although Ajmal was a terrorist he wasn't a religious extremist. Till recently the two personality traits of being a terrorist and that of being a religious extremist has been juxtaposed in many minds, often equating the two. 26/11 has seemed to suggest a possible de-linking of the two. This looks to be a silver lining in the otherwise dark cloud of terrorism. Its easier to handle and curb terrorism, if the roots are political, economical or even ideological. The job gets difficult if the desire to perpetuate terrorism stems from a religious cause.
Whether we curb terrorism or not , the first consequence of this de-linking, will be an increased tolerance towards people who may share a religious identity with those who perpetuate terror. After 9/11, the world over has seen the development of a social polarisation on the lines of religion. People who had completely contrary ideals to those of Al Khaeda, but still shared first names or sacred texts with the members of the infamous organisation, have been at the receiving end of a serious social discrimination. The statements of Ajmal should necessarily reverse this trend.
Terrorism has caused profound damage to lives and property of innocent individuals world over. But it has also shocked he world with its seemingly inexplicable ways of taking 'normal-seeming' people into its folds. With unexpected arrest of a MNC employee in Bangalore, accused of having links with the world of terror, and with similar such incidents world over, the rationale of thinking behind these well educated, financially satisfied minds have been in question. It has puzzled many a people that religious sentiments could be such a strong motive for individuals to walk the board and kill innocent lives.
The statements of Ajmal on the contrary are more comforting. It is nice to see that terrorists like Ajmal are willing to switch loyalties in return for socio-economic benefits . One can only hope that Ajmal is a good representation of the average terrorist from a poor family in Faridkot or any other impoverished part of the world.
I want to conclude with a very old but relevant piece of writing by Zaigham Ali Mirza in the Khaleej Times dated December 2005 (Read: Religious extremism to be major concern). It says that the real concern for the nations of the world in the next 10 or 20 years will not really be terrorism, but religious extremism. it is worth observing that terrorism is merely a symptom and not a disease . The real disease could be poverty, social discrimination, ideological difference or religious extremism.
Stringent security establishments, increased intelligence and air strikes over terrorist camps are merely attacking the symptom. It is like eating aspirin for a headache. But the headache could be caused by something as small as a viral infection or something as serious as a brain tumour. Our real problem is the brain tumour, not the headache by itself.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


26/11, apart from having created numerous ripples in the Indian psyche, has probably brought to the forefront a very important concern regarding the nature of Indian TV journalism and the motives that propel its imaginations. Post Satellite television boom, a whole diaspora of news channels have found viewers hooked on to them 24X7. While the very quantity of news reporting might seem to suggest, that the viewers have a better choice, that the common man can be better informed or even that the plethora of 'news material' is on a way to making the democracy more mature, the content of today's news has led to a serious doubt that this may not be true.
Gone are the days when people after a tiring day's work, switched on their TV sets at 8:30 PM for a 30 minutes of daily news, (in Hindi, or English or sometimes in a regional language). Males of the family had to 'Shhh' their kids if they asked a question or even throw a stern glance if any interruptions happened during those 30 minutes . These 30 minutes defined the world . In quantity or content, those minutes were the final say. You did not choose what you wanted to hear, you did not complain if a certain coverage did not last more than 30 seconds.
It was a welcome change when colour TVs and Satellite television joined the family tree. Gradually but certainly the media gurus smelt gold in the news distribution market. 'Lo behold' and you turn on your TV today, and find news , analysis, debates and dramatisation all at the flick of a button on your remote. The gurus threw in advertisements for their sponsors. They worked hard to make their news reporting the fastest, the most colorful and the most popular. Female news readers got rid of their boring sarees and chose more attractive designer wear. The rickshaw wallah after having had a hell of a day on the busy streets now turns on to watch the newsreaders if not the news. 'Breaking news' and 'Flash news' crept into the bottom of your TV screens capturing the attention of a mindless TV surfer. Everybody got happy. Nobody saw the catch.
While News has become more and more colorful, it has also become audience conscious. The news channel with the highest viewership, (or TRP in media language) calls the bucks. A very uncomfortable situation I should say. Unlike most other professions,news journalism can get very nasty if it goes all out to satisfy its customers. There is a very good possibility that viewer oriented TV journalism is nothing short of the proverbial 'playing to the gallery.' Here's a simple test, if your favourite news channel is continuously and consistently reporting what you like to hear, chances are that you have fallen prey. Lets face it . 'Truth is bitter' , but if you are finding your news too sweet all the time, chances are that you are not listening to the truth at all.
I am afraid that somehow news reporting is increasingly getting mixed up with opinion making. News Channels in India are increasingly becoming judgemental commentaries than fact journals. No doubt, the human mind likes suggested opinions than dry facts. No doubt, that intended debates sound more exciting than evidence based realities. What is lost however, is the idea of news reporting being a free democracy's method of bringing 'facts' to the common man, and enabling him make informed opinions. Opinions are thrown on the common man today. If you don't like the opinion , change your channel.

Even as I write this, a hysteria of a possible war between India and Pakistan looms large. God forbid,but if any military aggression ensues, the world would be in a very bad situation. I wouldn't be far from the truth if I stated that the main culprit for any aggression , is not really the terrorists or even the inability of any Governmental diplomacy but that it is the 'Freedom of the media' . Unconfirmed pieces of news and ridiculous conclusions have made their rounds on the television sets all over the world after 26/11. The news channels have managed to get Indians mad at Pakistanis, and the Pakistanis mad at the Indians. Meaningless interpretations of innocent statements have created utter chaos in the mindset of both Governments. Heated debates have given opportunities to irrelevant personalities to make their points. The viewers have had no need to think. The (unconfirmed) facts, their interpretations, conclusions and opinions have all been given to the common man in a single package. The Breaking News.
In all this , it is very difficult for sense to prevail. Responsible reporting can be very bad of the News channel's TRP. But is absolutely necessary. Its paramount that we realise this much before it gets too late.