|The Bug of Espionage|
|One bug which has bitten both India and Pakistan and now Bangladesh is the espionage issue. Anyone who visits from the neighbouring country is considered a spy until proved otherwise. It really depends on the External and Home Ministries whether a particular person would be let off freely. In other words, the police force is an arbiter. And it goes without saying that the sentence awarded to the person would be life-time imprisonment or death.
Normally, the court decides. However, the case in Pakistan is different because it is ruled by the military. Still the civil courts have their role depending upon local military commanders. They in fact have the last word. Even the death sentence is awarded by them. The question of evidence arises but it again depends on local military commanders.
|Drove into a petrol station the other day and was startled to see a flurry of activity all around. Attendants who generally hung around like wall paper and who acted as if they were doing you a favour topping up your car, were suddenly walking around briskly, filling in gas as if they were working on an oil rig, making out receipts at a spectacular speed and even giving a smile to the surprised motorists.
"Must be a change of management," I told my driver. He didn't say anything, just pointed out a small dapper looking man to me.
"Who's that?" I asked.
"Their boss," said my driver. "He owns the petrol bunk. Because he was watching, everybody worked.
We drove away and as I reclined at the back, I wondered how each one of us would behave if we knew we were being watched
Would the husba...|
|Modi and the unmaking of India|
|It seems nothing will now stop the juggernaut called Narendra Modi. After the recent electoral successes, most notably, in Uttar Pradesh, the Prime Minister looks totally unassailable, the lord of all he surveys. Even his worst critics like Aakar Patel and Rajdeep Sardesai have concluded that Modi is the most powerful politician and Prime Minister India has ever had. Not a small feat for someone who had long been haunted by the infamous Gujarat 2002 pogrom and remained an international pariah for years.
Modi's meteoric rise and rise would serve as a fascinating case study for all students of politics and history. How an RSS pracharak with little formal education and political experience and parachuted by the BJP as the Gujarat chief minister ripped the rule book to succeed.
|Guidelines for fliers..!|
|With airline passenger, Dr David Dao, being dragged out of an aircraft and severely beaten up by the crew of United, an American airline, the World Fliers Association realizing that the safety of passengers is at stake has issued a set of guidelines that they hope will help see others do not get the same unfortunate treatment the poor doctor was subjected to.
Guideline One: While shopping in duty free, before entering the aircraft, pick up a small gift for the crew. Find out how many crew members there are and include the captain and co-pilot too, as surly pilots have been known to give their passengers bumpy rides and frightful landings.
Guideline Two: Do not carry any hand baggage onto the aircraft. Baggage of any kind irritates the crew, and immediately puts them in a bad mood, even ...|
|Kashmir needs a healing touch today|
|What is the meaning of victory of Farooq Abdullah from the Srinagar constituency where not even seven per cent votes were polled? In many of the booths merely two per cent votes were polled. I know there are past precedences of such a situation in at least three Indian States when people boycotted and the government determinedly went for polls and was áble to form ministries. But when the world is watching and we claim to be the biggest democracy of the world, shouldn't it be a matter of deep concern? Can any democracy legitimise seven per cent votes cast? Farooq Abdullah may enjoy the Lutyens housing complex as a senior leader but the credibility of the political parties is at an all-time low in Kashmir. You may win elections but you are losing the people. How to win over the people? Has...|
|So much for the populist wave|
|In his victory speech on Sunday night Emmanuel Macron, the next president of France, said: "I want to become...the president of the patriots in the face of the threat from the nationalists." The distinction would be lost on most Trump supporters in the United States and on the "Little Englanders" who voted for Brexit in Britain, but it's absolutely clear to the French, and indeed to most Europeans.
In the United States the preferred word is "patriot", but it usually just means "nationalist", with flags flaunted and slogans chanted. "America First" says Trump, and the crowd replies "USA all the way!"
You can't imagine a British election rally doing that - the United Kingdom is too close to mainland Europe, where that sort of thing ended very badly - but the English nationalism behind Bre...|
|An overjoyed builders association..!|
|The world president of the International Builders Association smiled as he received a standing ovation from his members as soon as he entered the hall and walked up to the podium. The clapping and applause continued and as he looked at the happy members, he reflected how different it had been a year ago, when he'd nearly been thrown out of the board for his failed policies and how the association had almost shut down.
A year ago, most of the builders had been facing bankruptcy and somehow they had blamed him for their dismal state of affairs.
How things had changed!
"He continued walking up to make his speech and the cheering went on unabated. He allowed it to go on for a while, then raised his hands asking for quiet. "Dear Members, thank you!"
The applause was deafening, but died do...|
|BSF jawan dismissal|
|Don't shoot the messenger|
|Dismissal of a BSF constable for complaining about bad food on the social media normally should not be economic news. But it is hard economy. The constable was only trying to respond to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to speak up against corruption, which is ruining the Indian economy.
It was bad "dal" that his video clips allege. None has apparently denied it. This means the meal was indeed bad. This also means that the jawans are not treated with the care and concern that is promised. And implies that the nation is taking less care to make them battle ready. It translates into spending thousands of crore at the cost of deprivation of the targeted people.
The jawans deserve good and healthy food. It is their right. The food is part of their necessary perk in remote areas for defend...|
|Cost of a miracle|
|Sadly, as we grow older, we lose the childlike faith we had in everything. We lose trust for our parents, sometimes love for our friends and faith in our God.
I remember the story of little Tess. She went over to a shop to buy something.
In the shop, little Tess twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. Nothing happened.. She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster No good. Finally she took a quarter dollar from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did it!
And what do you want?" the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. "Well, I want to talk to you about my brother," Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. "He's really, really sick…and I want to buy a miracle."
"I beg your pardon?" said the pharmacist.
"He has something bad growing...|
|VIEW FROM THE GALLERY|
|Mainstream politics becoming irrelevant in Kashmir|
|One hopes that those who matter in national capital will pay heed to the fears and apprehensions expressed by Tassaduq Mufti, younger brother of Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti and PDP candidate for Lok Sabha seat from Anantnag in Kashmir which has been postponed. His remarks that mainstream politics was becoming irrelevant in Kashmir and unless immediate steps are taken situation may slip into anarchy from which there would be no turning back.
These are strong words and not spoken by a politician looking for political space, but by a young professional reluctant to enter politics on basis of what he felt and understood which seeking votes in disturbed South Kashmir. He saw stark reality on ground which forced him to advise reluctant supporters of his party to give p...|
|For better, for worse..!|
|A couple was celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. Their domestic tranquility had long been the talk of the town. "What a peaceful and loving couple" they are everybody said. A local newspaper reporter was inquiring as to the secret of their long and happy marriage.
"Well, it dates back to our honeymoon," explained the man." We visited the Grand Canyon and took a trip down to the bottom of the canyon by horse. We hadn't gone too far when my wife's horse stumbled. My wife quietly said, "That's once". We proceeded a little further and the horse stumbled again. Once more my wife quietly said, 'That's twice."
"We hadn't gone a half-mile when the horse stumbled the third time. My wife quietly removed a revolver from her purse and shot the horse dead. "I started an angry protest over ...|
|The French election|
|Here's how the French presidential election is going to work. This Sunday's vote will pick the leading two candidates, who will then have another two weeks to campaign for the run-off vote. But the leading four candidates are now bunched together so closely in the polls that any two of them could make it through to the second round. Including a couple of quite worrisome people.
The permutations and combinations are mind-bendingly complex. One reporter interpreted the pollsters' latest attempt to predict the second-round outcome as follows: "Macron would win the run-off against any opponent, while Le Pen would lose. Melencthon would defeat everyone except Macron and Fillon would lose to all except Le Pen."
The point, however, is that nobody knows which two will actually be in the second ...|
|Controlling our food|
|The Corporate Atlas 2017 highlights how the development of the food industry is affecting everyone. It also shows that the weakest links in the supply chain are hit hardest because farmers and farm workers in emerging markets and developing countries are entirely at the mercy of corporate powers. The report was published in mid-January by Heinrich Böll Foundation, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND - Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz), Germanwatch, Oxfam and Le Monde Diplomatique.
All along the supply chain, companies are getting larger. Since 2015, 12 mega-mergers have occurred in the food and agriculture industry. Today, seven corporations are controlling the production of seeds and pesticides worldwide, but their number is likely to shrink to merely four by th...|
|To the army: Any gentlemen left please?|
|The company commander implicated in the human shield case has come up with an innovative defence. He claims to have used the human shield tactics to make his way out of a tight spot, along with a group of paramilitary men and voting officials. This has been taken as an instance of innovative quick thinking on his part that has saved lives, in that had he shot his way out of trouble instead, some stone pelters might have died. That would have put the army in a bigger spot than its current one of embarrassment at best. So instead of censure for violating the letter of the humanitarian law, he should be commended if not awarded for his bold, if unorthodox, action.
Media reported some in the brass as willing to overlook his crime, even as the army quickly went into crisis management mode by ...|
|Fooling the poor..!|
|"We need to write a new script," said white beard to black beard as they sat, looking at the map of India, "A script which will make me the most popular leader this country has ever had!"
"Your religious policies have got you a twenty-five percent base!" said black beard with streaks of grey.
"Not enough!" said white beard, "I need a huger following, something like an eighty percent base!"
"Eighty percent! You must be joking," said black beard, with streaks of grey. "The only people who form such a large majority are our poor!"
"That is going to be my voter base!" said white beard grinning.
"But to do so, you will have to lift them up. You will need populist measures!"
"No!" grinned whitebeard.
"No?" asked black beard with streaks of grey.
"I will not lift them up, but will prete...|