Friday, October 31, 2008

Everyone is clueless on Assam

This is a very nice article in written by Sri.B.Raman, Additional Secretary (retired), Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. Here is the original link Everyone Is Clueless on Assam.

Available police statistics of incidents involving explosions and civilian casualties caused by the United Liberation Front of Asom since 2002 are given below:

The figures of civilians killed in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 include civilians killed by explosions as well as in attacks not involving IEDs. The figures for 2006 and 2007 refer to only civilians killed by IEDs. While there was a large number of incidents involving IEDs, the number of civilians killed per incident was low as compared to incidents involving IEDs caused by jihadi terrorists in other parts of India. This could be attributed to the fact that the explosive material used by the ULFA -- much of it procured from Bangladesh -- was of low quality as compared to the material available to the jihadi terrorists, whether procured from Pakistan or Bangladesh. The expertise in the use of IEDs imparted to ULFA in the training camps in Bangladesh was also of inferior quality as compared to the expertise imparted to the jihadi terrorists -- whether in Pakistan or Bangladesh.

A defining characteristic of the incidents involving the use of IEDs targeting civilians in Assam was that many of the incidents specifically targeted non-Assamese civilians while taking care not to target Assamese-speaking civilians and illegal Bangladeshi migrants. Jihadi terrorists in other parts of India make no distinction. They kill civilians indiscriminately -- without worrying about their religion, ethnic or linguistic origin.

Jihadi terrorism, as distinguished from the ethnic terrorism of the ULFA kind, has also started making inroads in Assam. According to the Assam police, the following jihadi organisations are now active in Assam: the Muslim Liberation Tigers of Assam; the Independent Liberation Army of Assam; the People United Liberation Front; the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, whose Pakistani counterpart is a founding member of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front; and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, whose Pakistani counterpart is also a member of the IIF. According to them, the activities of all these organisations are co-ordinated by the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen of Bangladesh, which organised hundreds of simultaneous explosions of crude devices all over Bangladesh on August 17, 2005.

Some HuM cadres, along with two Pakistani nationals, were arrested in August 1999. Forty-two HuM cadres, including some trained in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, surrendered till 2006-end. Four HuJI cadres trained in Bangladesh surrendered in August 2004. One HuJI cadre was arrested in February 2004. Till 2006-end, 370 jihadi terrorists belonging to different organisations had been arrested and 128 had surrendered.

The security forces in Assam have been putting up a determined fight against ULFA, killing 1,128 cadres from 1991 to 2006-end and arresting 11,173 during the same period; 8,465 others surrendered. The result: decrease in cadre strength; erosion of its support base in the population; decrease in recruitment and fund collection; and shortage of arms and ammunition.

In view of these developments, ULFA started following a new modus operandi with the following features: decrease in specific targeted violence; increase in indiscriminate violence directed at soft targets; targeting of vital installations in remote areas; attacks on security forces when and where possible; and use of unconscious third persons not suspected by the police for having the IEDs planted in public places. The use of such unconscious third persons has been increasing.

However, the ULFA still has an estimated hard core of 800 trained cadres and another 1,500 untrained cadres. There are no signs of any weakening of its morale and motivation. Its command and control orchestrated from Bangladesh is intact. Any effective counter-terrorism strategy in Assam has to have the conventional components such as improving intelligence collection, analysis and assessment and co-ordinated follow-up action; improving the capability and resources of the police; strengthened physical security; and a well-tested crisis management drill. In addition, it must have a strong anti-illegal immigration component -- to prevent any further illegal immigration from Bangladesh and the identification, arrests and deportation of those who have already illegally entered India.

Obviously, for electoral reasons, there is a reluctance on the part of the government to deal effectively with illegal immigration. This is likely to prove suicidal. Muslims constitute about 32 per cent of the population of Assam today. If the problem of illegal immigration from Bangladesh is not tackled, there is a real danger that in another 50 years, Assam might turn into a Muslim-majority state.

Pakistan, Bangladesh and China have an interest in keeping Assam destabilised -- each for its own reason. The interest of Pakistan and Bangladesh is in facilitating the emergence of a Muslim majority state and seek its ultimate secession from India. The interest of China is in weakening the Indian capability to protect Arunachal Pradesh in the likelihood of the unresolved border dispute over Arunachal Pradesh one day leading to a confrontation between India and China.

The previous government headed by A B Vajpayee was strong on rhetoric relating to terrorism, but weak in action. Its successor government is weak in rhetoric as well as action. It seems to believe that confidence-building measures with neighbours who are sponsoring terrorism against India and the peace process would pay dividends in improving the terrorism situation on the ground. This is unlikely to happen. Lack of determination to act strongly and in time is already costing us heavily and will cost even more heavily in future.

The above data has been extracted from the Chapter titled Assam: Terrorism & 'Silent Unarmed Invasion' in my book Terrorism: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow published by Lancer Publishers in June 2008.

More than 50 persons are feared to have died and more than a hundred injured in over 10 blasts that were simultaneously orchestrated in Guwahati, the capital of Assam, and in the districts of Barpeta and Kokrajhar on October 30. The picture regarding the exact number of explosions and the places where they took place is still confusing. Some reports put the number of explosions as high as 18. At least four of the blasts took place in Guwahati.

The people of Assam are no strangers to serial blasts carried out from time to time by the ULFA and jihadi organisations of Pakistani and Bangladeshi vintage, which have made inroads into the state by taking advantage of the uncontrolled illegal immigration into the state from Bangladesh They have been operating separately of each other when possible and in co-ordination with each other, when necessary.

Assam has been the nerve-centre of a cocktail of terrorist organizations -- ethnic and jihadi -- who have been systematically eating at the vitals of this state, which is key for protecting the integrity of India from the designs of Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. But nobody has had the time to pay attention to the alarming ground situation in this key state -- neither the Congress nor the Bharatiya Janata Party or any other party. Taking advantage of the lack of serious attention from the Government of India and the mainstream political parties, this cocktail of terrorists has been spreading havoc in the state.

"My heart goes out to the people of Assam," said Jawaharlal Nehru in a broadcast to the people of Assam as the Chinese troops were marching in in 1962. He did nothing to protect them before the Chinese invaded. His government and its successors did precious little to protect this right arm of India and its people either from the Chinese in the event of another war or from the terrorist organizations of various hues which have come up in the state since the 1980s. Who is whose surrogate? Who is the surrogate of Pakistan? Who is the surrogate of Bangladesh? Who is the surrogate of China? Is there a joint co-ordination by Pakistan, Bangladesh and China to undermine the control of the Indian state? Nobody knows the answer.

Everyone is clueless -- the intelligence agencies, the police, the security forces, the political class. There is hardly any realization of the seriousness of the situation in Assam. One can understand inadequacies and even incompetence, but one is alarmed by the total disinterest in Delhi in what is going on in Assam.

It is too early to say who was involved in the explosions of October 29 -- ULFA only or ULFA plus? One has to wait for the results of the investigation, but from the large number of casualties and the widespread nature of the attacks, one thing is already clear -- there has been a worrisome increase in the lethality of the explosives available to the terrorists and their ability to use them effectively.

Public opinion has to force the governments at the Centre and in the state and the political class as a whole to act before it is too late.

Mayhem in Assam

After Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat and New Delhi, it is the North Eastern state of Assam which bore the brunt of Islamic terrorist attack.

While initial reports pointed towards United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), the Intelligence Agencies are convinced that it is Bangladesh based Harkat-Ul-Jehadi Islami (HUJI) which has perpetrated this heinous act.

Around 60 people lost their lives and more than 300 injured in the serial blasts that occurred in the state capital, Guwahati (Kamrup District) along with the districts of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Barpeta - more than 30 in Guwahati itself.

Curfew was clamped in the Guwahati following the blasts after angry mobs set fire to several police and fire services vehicles near the blast site at Ganeshguri market and along the arterial Guwahati-Shillong road. The blast site is one kilometer away from the chief minister's office in the state capital complex at Dispur.

Interestingly Prime Minister Manmohan Singh represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha.

Once again the blame falls on our Intelligence Agencies which have no clue on what is going to happen. It is learnt that RDX was used but later found that Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) were used to cause the havoc. The Indian Army is already fighting ULFA since decades and Army's intelligence wing should have been very very strong to detect something like serial blasts.

Serial blasts takes lot of planning and co-ordination which involves lot of people. When lot of people are involved, there is every chance that bits and pieces of information would reach our intelligence agencies through electronic surveillance by eves dropping on the telephonic conversation between known terrorists and also through Human Intelligence. Looks like there is an overall failure.

Our agencies need a thorough revamp of its structure and the way they function. They need to be more pro-active. For that to happen, they need clear political backing. The day they have support from both the Government and opposition, they would have no difficulties and tracking and neutralizing terrorist modules.

Until then, we need to wait for another serial blasts to occur !!

Labels: , , , , ,

Congress Ditching Telangana

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Y.S.Rajasekhar Reddy is trying the show off that he is a Master strategist. During the previous assembly elections, he had an understanding with Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and fought the elections and won the elections. One of the agendas is creation of a separate Telangana - albeit through a second State Re-Organization Committee.(SRC)

Second SRC never came nor any commitment for a separate state. Looks like those who are in power never want to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh. The earlier Telugu Desam Party(TDP) refused the separation point blank and now the same party has ditched its stance and supports a separate state.

Important Political Parties For Telangana:

* Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
* Communist Party of India (CPI)
* Telugu Desam Party (TDP)
* Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)
* Nava Telangana Praja Party - belonging to Devender Goud who split from TDP

Important Political Parties Against Telangana:

* Congress Party
* Communist Party of India (Marxists)
* Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM)

Important Political Parties Who are Neutral or not yet taken a decision:

* Loksatta Party
* Praja Rajyam - belongs to the film actor, Chiranjeevi

Each party has its own stance on the Telangana issue. BJP was the first political party to take a right decision regarding the separation while others jumped into the fray due to other political reasons.

Two days back, the Chief Minister went to New Delhi for a Congress core committee meeting on Telangana issue. He informed the party chief, Sonia Gandhi that Congress is on a strong footing on Telangana. Looks like YSR is day dreaming. The day he says that he is against Telangana, Congress would be routed in entire Telangana region where TDP and TRS have a good following.

YSR is taking the party high command for a ride and he is going to drown the party along with him. When he was in a meeting, he ensured that all the Muslim MP's, MLA's and MLC's from Congress campaign against Telangana.

There is lot of similarity between YSR and Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Jinnah fought for a separate Pakistan saying that Muslims would never be safe in Hindu India. Now, YSR is projecting the same.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chandrayaan Lifts Off

It was truly a historic moment for the entire country. The PSLV-C11, which carries India's first unmanned moon spacecraft Chandrayaan-1, was successfully put into initial orbit from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday morning at around 6.40 am.

At the end of the 49-hour countdown, the 44.4 meter tall four-stage PSLV-C11 blasted off from the second launch pad with the ignition of the core first stage at 6.22 am.

Large crowds had gathered at Sriharikota since early Wednesday morning to witness this historic event. The crowds cheered at the PSLV, which weighs 316 tonnes soared majestically into the skies. However, the thick black clouds played spoil sport for those waiting to watch the PSLV launch into the skies.

People who stood on the terrace of the Brahm Prakash auditorium to witness the launch managed to catch a glimpse of the vehicle only for a brief moment before it disappeared into the clouds.

However, the mood in the Satish Dhawan Space Centre where the entire Indian Space Research Organization team behind the mission was seated was upbeat. They were emotional on seeing that the launch was a success.

ISRO Chairman Madhavan Nair got up from his chair, clapping his hands, and congratulated other scientists who had ensured that the mission's success. This is the 14th flight of ISRO's workhorse PSLV, which has launched 29 satellites into a variety of orbits since 1993.

The launch vehicle uses larger strap-on motors to achieve higher payload capability.

The Chandrayaan-1 is carrying 11 payloads, five entirely designed and developed in India, three from European Space Agency, one from Bulgaria and two from US, which would explore the moon.

In his message soon after the launch, Madhavan Nair said this was a historic moment for India.

"The first leg has gone perfectly and today we have started a remarkable journey to the moon. We have fought all odds which include heavy rains and thunderstorms since the past four days to ensure that this mission is a success. We will complete the journey in the next 15 days."

The other men behind the mission, who were obviously elated by the success of the launch, too spoke after the successful launch. They said phase-1 had been completed successfully and for phase-2, the next team would take over.

"We have spent sleepless nights and today our baby is on the way to the moon. Fifteen days from now, we will reach our destination and for the next two years the Chandrayaan will do its job in exploring the mysteries of the moon. We are ready for many more challenges and we must say that this has been a thrilling experience," he said.

The 1380-kg Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft will first reach a highly elliptical Initial orbit and thereafter the satellite's Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) will be fired at appropriate moments that will finally take it to an orbit at a height of 100 km around the moon around November eight.

Chandrayaan-1 carries 11 payloads (scientific instruments) -- five from India, three from ESA, two from the US and one from Bulgaria. It aims to undertake remote-sensing of the moon in the visible, near infrared, microwave and X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. With this, preparation of a three-dimensional atlas of the lunar surface is envisaged.

"The mission will lead to detailed understanding of the mineralogy of the moon, and (possibility of) abundance of Helium-3 said to be a relatively clean fuel for future nuclear fusion reactors," an ISRO official said.

"It will also throw more light on what appears to be the presence of water ice in the permanently shadowed regions of the moon's polar areas".

Sources: &

Labels: , , ,

Monday, October 20, 2008

500 Hindu Temples Desecrated in Tiny Goa

Very very disturbing news that past couple of years, more than 500 Hindu Temples were desecrated in the tiny state of Goa. A day long strike was called by Hindu outfits which was supported by the Bharatiya Janata party today in Goa.

Here is the link to the original post appeared in Rediff - Bandh stalls life in Goa.

The Goa shut down call given by the Hindu right wing organizations evoked a near complete response on Monday, with shops and establishments remaining closed for the day.

The day-long shut down call is in protest of the increasing instances of desecration of idols in temples across the state.

The shut down call given by the Mandir Suraksha Samiti has representation from organizations like the Bajrang Dal and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti in it.

The Bharatiya Janata Party too has extended its support for the bandh, which according to them, is a protest against state's deteriorating law and order situation.

Majority of the offices struck work on Monday and various establishments remained closed as employees did not turn up.

There were also incidents of stone pelting reported where a bus run by Kadamba Transport Corporation was stoned by protesters at Mapusa town. Police confirmed that eight people have been arrested in this connection.

"Now the situation is under control. There were some road blockages which are cleared," superintendent of police (North) Bosco George told PTI.

Goa has witnessed around 500 desecration's so far, mostly in the temples located in isolated rural areas.

The Goa government has declared the bandh illegal and has appealed to the people not to co-operate with it.

Despite government appeals and strong police presence, the bandh remained successful in major parts of Goa including the capital city of Panaji.

Earlier, The Goa church had condemned desecration of idols in the state."It is a matter of serious concern that our state is witnessing an increased number of desecration of Hindu places of worship," Father Francisco Caldeira, director, Diocesan centre for Social Communication Media, Goa church's wing, said.

Father Caldeira said that the desecration is a dangerous trend for the social fabric of Goa, which is known to be a land of religious harmony and amity.

"While we condemn such acts of cowardice and vandalism against religious places, we express our unstinting solidarity with the aggrieved community and we appeal for peace to be maintained at all costs. We call upon the concerned authorities to bring the culprits to book," the church has said.

Madhav Comments:

It is strange that Human right activists and the so called secular parties make a big thing when a Mosque or Church is attacked but they don't say a word when Hindu temples were desecrated. Where are the Lalu's, Mulayam's and Karunadhi's gone ?? One rule for Hindus and another rule for Minorities ?? Is this Secularism ?? No wonder I hate these bastards.

Commies Support Mayawati !!

Indicating further closeness with the Mayawati-led party, the Communist Party of India-Marxist has asked its cadre to vote for "non-Congress secular parties like Bahujan Samaj Party" in the coming state elections where the party and the CPI are not contesting.

In its assessment of the current political situation prevailing in the country, the CPI-M told its cadre to work for ousting The Bharatiya Janata Party from power in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh while keeping the Congress at bay.

"Apart from seats where we or CPI are contesting, we should vote for non-Congress secular parties like the BSP," the Report on Political Developments adopted by the CPI-M central committee said.

Interestingly, the CPI-M had earlier dubbed the BSP as a 'casteist' formation in the political resolution adopted at the XIX party congress held in Coimbatore.

"The BSP has emerged as a strengthened force after the elections in Uttar Pradesh. It has used its base among the Dalits to build a wider coalition of caste politics. This sort of caste based political mobilisation is sought to be introduced in other states by the BSP," the resolution had said. However, the CPI-M resolution at the congress was of the view that BSP will be an "important factor" in states like Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, which are going to polls next month, though it will not ally with any other party for elections.

Though the Report on Political Developments did not hazard a guess on the prospects of BJP in poll-bound states where they are ruling, the party said, it is "widely expected" that the Congress government in Delhi will be ousted from power.

Noting that the BJP is striving its 'utmost' to retain power in Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Rajasthan, the CPI-M said, "in these states, we should call for the defeat of the BJP and the ouster of their governments and also oppose the policies of the Congress....In Delhi, we should oppose both the Congress and the BJP," it said.

The report said the BJP was actively wooing some of the regional parties ahead of the elections and the Asom Gana Parishad and Indian National Lok Dal, which were part of the erstwhile United National Progressive Alliance, has already aligned with the saffron party.

"In Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, the BJP has so far not succeeded in getting any ally with significant support," it said. The report also noted that the image of the UPA government and Congress has "further eroded" in the recent times. The CPI-M said the United Progressive Alliance's handling of the Amarnath land row, terror attacks, rising communal violence and "insensitivity towards minorities, failure to tackle price rise and complete preoccupation with the nuclear deal has dented the image of the Central government."

The CPI-M said the Congress which is hailing the nuclear deal as a historic achievement will make it a "major plank" in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. "This has to be countered by a big campaign exposing the surrender to the US and the harmful consequences of implementing such a deal," the report said. The party said soon after the trust vote, the Congress has been taking steps to gear up the party machinery for facing the impending Lok Sabha elections.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Careless Society

I read this nice article in deploring the carelessness in our society and the value we give for life. Here is the original link - Sonu Did Not Fall Into The Borewell.

Here is the article written by Mr.Mahesh Vijapurkar:

Poor little Sonu! He did not fall into an open borewell when playing, as is generally being made out by the news media, in Leharkapura village in Uttar Pradesh's Shamshabad district, near Agra .

His fall was facilitated, yes, facilitated, by an uncaring society including, of course, the UP Jal Nigam which was digging the well. It is as if we just willed him to fall into it.

Please don't look at it as one of those one-off events on which the visual media feasts. Perhaps one has to realise that had the media not feasted on these incidents, no efforts may have ever been made to save them using everything at the disposal of the authorities. Yes, there is a positive side to this as well.

Look at it this way: suppose a person dies at work in a factory, who is held responsible under law? The owner of the factory, in this case the managing director of the company owning the factory.

The worker would have been trained, the minimum being safety even if unskilled, but the onus is on the MD.

Likewise, the onus here is on UP Jal Nigam and the society, including all residents of the Leharkapura along with the panchayat. Heads have to roll, maybe one for every hour the child has been in there -- scared, scarred, not even knowing what has happened.

Simple precautions like a fence, a watchman who is alert, would have been adequate to avoid these so-called accidents which they are not. It would have been cheaper too, compared to the manpower and machinery deployed.

To say anything to the contrary, to say that the boy was playing and accidentally fell in when playing, would be to shift the onus on to the innocent boy. He was, after all, just two-and-a-half-year old innocent.

Of course, then there is the question. Were the parents stupid enough to let a child wander off and play near an open bore well that was 150 feet deep? Yes, Karan Singh and his family have a lot of explaining to do but that does not let off the panchayat and the Jal Nigam from their complicity by neglect. You can't let a child wander off like that, unattended.

This, however, is not the first time that we have had such cases. There was this case recently of Vandana, a girl of the same age, slipping into a well that needed a 26-hour rescue operation including the final move by the army.

Much before that, in July 2006, we had seen Prince spending two days in a borewell in Kurukshektra, Haryana.

In July 2007, a six-year-old boy, Suraj, fell into a 180 ft deep borewell at Mudia Ramsar near Jaipur .

I bet they were not the only children who paid a big price. Before the TV cameras found these by now routine incidents a big eye-ball catcher, several may have suffered worse. We just don't know.

Forty years ago in Hyderabad, my cousin, playing near his home, next to which was a construction site, fell into an open sump. He died of fright even before he hit the water. He was some four years old then.

Now, why do such events come to pass? Because, we are plain stupid and careless. For us, the anxiety, the rush and the prayers come after the incident and not before.

It is because we think a tragedy would not befall us and life would be as usual till it strikes.

Here are a few more examples of carelessness. Don't we all allow our children to play in the drive of the buildings we live in, the other residents just rolling in to park their cars without realising that their own children are at grave risk? This, in cities. You can imagine what it would be like in villages.

I have seen polythene bags being handled by infants because after unpacking the groceries, the parent has left it around. Toy-makers make items which have jagged edges and pointed protrusions which just invite the child to get injured.

How many toys have been pulled off the shelves in India because they have high lead content injurious to the child? Even after Americans recalled them and stopped buying from Chinese manufacturers, we Indians did not bat an eyelid. We find them in homes.

Don't we all have switches and plug points just two feet above the ground in homes where children too live and the infants, in their first bout of curiosity, poke anything, including their own fingers into the plug points? Parents keep a watch but how many even bother to at least tape them over?

Haven't we seen children dart across the road to pick up a tennis ball hit far too hard by a boy from a building's drive when playing cricket? That's also because we live in societies which do not provide for proper playgrounds.

Haven't we seen children running along recklessly chasing kites that float down after being cut from its string?

Or, packing school children, ten or more to an auto rickshaw, to be delivered in school and then brought back? Some of them precariously hang on to the sides, some poke their heads out of the window at the rear.

Just look around and we see potential disasters. We can't blame Sonu, Vandana and Prince for this. It is we who say we love children -- don't we produce them by the millions every year? -- are to blame, utterly lacking in safety consciousness.

TV cables and electric wires in towns and villages hang any which way, ready to snap and hurt a person but do we care?

We know wearing seat belts helps save lives in accidents but we ride cars without doing so. Using a mobile phone while driving can endanger our lives but we continue to do so, notwithstanding the fines by the traffic police. The police have to tell us to wear helmets and yet we don't.

At least a thousand people die every year, run over by suburban trains in Mumbai and its suburbs because people cross the tracks and not use the foot over-bridges at stations.

Would we change? I expect not. Because, sab chalega, kya karenge, koi sunta hi nahi.

But we should. Don't you think so?

Hindus Fightback

During the 1980's and 1990's I used to read a very common thing in newspapers that "crowds from certain religious place threw stones at Hindu processions carrying the idols of Lord Ganesha or Godess Durga". Why don't the newspapers mention that Muslims attacked Hindus ??

It is a common knowledge of Muslims hatred towards other religions and other beliefs as they consider them as "Kafirs" or Infidels. While Hinduism talked about "Vasudaiva Kutumbam" (the world as a family) other desert and nomadic religions which have sprung up thousands of years after Hinduism have only sown seeds of hatred.

Even though being a Hindu majority country since thousands of years, Hindus have lived under the Buddhists, marauding Muslims and later Christian British. Hindus have lived under persecution from those very people they gave shelter to and those whom Hindus have openly invited.

Oflate, Hindus have started to realize the fact that they are taken for granted and started fighting back as we have seen in Gujarat, Jammu, Orissa, Karnataka and now, other states in the country too.

During the Godess Durga procession in a small town of Bhainsa in Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh, Muslims threw stones on the Hindu procession, as it is common for them. This time round, Hindus fought back killing scores of Muslims.

Muslims and Christians have to learn the art of co-existing. Until they don't do that, they have to be ready to face counter attacks by the Hindus whose mindset is changing.

Canonization of Sister Alphonsa

Sister Alphonsa, a Catholic nun from Kerala, was on Sunday elevated as Saint by Pope Benedict XVI at a solemn function at the Vatican, making her the first Indian woman to be canonised.

Sister Alphonsa is the second person from India to be canonized by the Catholic church, the first being Gonzalo Garcia, a Franciscan monk born to an Indian mother and Portuguese father. While she was alive, people from the sleepy farming village and hamlets around used to call on her and she would pray for them. Some of the miracles attributed to her were said to have happened then.

While the Roman Catholic church has over 10,000 canonized saints, in India this is the first time that someone from its flock has been elevated to full sainthood, church sources say.

The church is spread over Syro Malabar, Malankara and Latin Catholic rites and accounts for about 70 per cent of the Christian population in India.

Giant screens had been put up at Kudamaloor and Bharananganam, the ancestral house and tomb respectively of Sister Alphonsa, to enable the thousands of worshippers who had gathered to see the live telecast.

Union minister Oscar Fernandes led the Indian delegation at the ceremony. Kerala was represented by state PWD minister, Mons Joseph, former minister K M Mani and MP P C Thomas, among others.

Mother General of Franciscan Clarist Congregation, mother Celia, presented the relics of Saint Alphonsa to the Pope.

Former Kerala minister K M Mani and Father Francis Vadakkal, Vice Postulator of the cause of Sister Alphonsa, who led the process of canonisation in India, followed the relics with lighted candles.

Thousands of Indian Christians had gathered at the Vatican to view the ceremony.

"This is a proud moment for the Catholic church", Church spokesperson Father Paul Thelekat said.

The elevation of Sister Alphonsa into sainthood is of special significance to Indian Christians as Alphonsa is a totally 'home grown'person-- born and brought up in the 2000 year-old Syrian Christian traditions of Kerala, considered as the cradle of Indian Christianity with St Thomas apostle preaching the faith by landing at erstwhile Crangannore (Kodungallur), in AD 52.

The process of Alphonsa's canonisation began in 1953 with the church setting up a Diocesan tribunal. After examining the records of her life and works and testifying the witnesses, she was raised to the status of Blessed through the beautification process by late Pope John Paul II when he visited India in 1985.

Pope Benedict made an official announcement of her elevation to sainthood early this year after giving the final stamp of approval to a miracle attributed to her.

No doubt this is a great event for India but why is the Government so forthcoming in supporting such religious issues ?? Have they done the same for Hindu rituals ??

Sametime, Union Commerce Minister, P.Chidambaram had stated that a postal stamp would be unveiled on 19th August, 2009 (100th birth anniversary of Alphonsa). Is such a stamp unveiled for Hindu religious leaders ?? NEVER !!

It would be good if the Governments dont try to politicize religious issues for cheap politics.

It is also highly deplorable that such a person like Pope had to stoop to such a level and comment on things happening in India. He has no right to interfere in our affairs. As a religious leader, he better do his duties well than commenting on other things. Let him put his house in order where Cardinals are caught having sex with kids !!

Labels: ,

Friday, October 10, 2008

Children Trapped in Borewell

I started not reading news where children get trapped in the hole meant to lay a borewell. It has become a common drama played there.

Here are the series of events enacted everytime a child falls into a borewell:

* Child falls in a 150 Feet (sometimes more than that) deep borewell.
* Army is called in as obviously the state government doesn't have the equipment.
* Army digs parallel pits using heavy machinery, boy supplied with water and food.
* Huge Army of media shows live coverage of the entire incident.
* Boy rescued and Army guys flash a victory sign after two days.

When do Indians learn the art of "Learning from mistakes" ?? Do we give value to our lives at all ? Why do we have to re-enact the same drama every couple of months proving our idiocy in leaving the borewells uncovered so that our unsuspecting children fall into them ?

Here is the one that is unfolding since today morning at a village near Agra:

Efforts are underway on a war footing to rescue a two-year-old boy, who fell into a 150-ft borewell in a village near Agra on Thursday with authorities launching a massive effort to rescue him amid apprehension that the bore was too narrow and water might permeate into it from a nearby pond.

Sonu fell into the borewell around 10 am while playing near his house in Tohra village near Shamsabad town, 26 km from Agra.

Agra SSP Raghubir Lal said the borewell is just one foot in diameter and it's almost impossible for a man to go down into it to bring up the boy, who is also too small to latch to a rope if it is lowered down.

Sonu is stuck below at about 60 feet of the borewell.

Lal said a parallel well is being dug near the borewell so that the rescue team can get to the boy through a tunnel.

He said the boy's voice also could not be heard now nor was there any movement from him though he was found crying some 90 minutes after he fell into it.

Sonu has also not been responding to his mother who was being asked to call him.

Lal said since there was a pond near the site, it was feared that the level of the water in the borewell might increase.

There have been a number of such incidents of children falling into narrow borewells in recent times.

In 2006, a kid named Prince fell into a borewell which was two-and-a-half feet in diameter. He was rescued after over two days of efforts, which were telecast live on almost all television channels.

The rescue team has so far dug up to 42 to 43 feet of the parallel well in an effort to rescue the two-year-old Sonu, said a police official.

A CCTV camera has been inserted in the well, though it could not catch the image of the child yet. Oxygen is also being released in the well through a pipe.

Senior officials along with army and a team of doctors are stationed at the spot, he said.

Labels: ,

Violence in Assam

Violence started by the Indigenous Bodos in the Assamese villages of Udalguri and Darrang rose to 52 within three days.

Ethnic Bodos who are Christian have started attacking Bengali Hindus and Bangladeshi Muslims in an act of ethnic cleansing of the land of outsiders. Hindus and Muslims were killed in the clashes by Christians. More than hundred thousand people are displaced due to this violence perpetrated by tribal Christians.

Now, where are the so called protectors of Secularism looking ?? Have they been sleeping ?? They have been asking to impose President Rule in Orissa. Now, why have they kept their mouths shut ?? What is the Congress Government doing in Assam ? Don't they care for the lives of Indian Hindus ??

We need the teach the Communists and parties like the Samajwadi Party a lesson in the coming elections. We have to take the mask of pseudo-secularism from their faces. These guys have to be taught that Secularism doesn't mean being anti-Hindu and pro-minority.

It has to be noted that Amar Singh, Samajwadi Party General Secretary saying on record that the party would give legal support to the Islamic Militants caught after the blasts. Don't they have social responsibility ? Why are they doing this anti-national activities just for the sake of a few votes ? These guys are proving that they are irresponsible and we must not elect them back.

Since Congress Party banks on parties like Samajwadi Party, Indian Union Muslim League, Majlis-Ittehadul-Muslimeen, we MUST NOT vote to Congress Party too.

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 03, 2008

Pilgrims Die in Stampede

I felt really sad after reading the news about the death of 147 pilgrims in Chamunda Temple at Jodhpur, Rajasthan on 30th September.

I was wondering I wrote so many posts regarding how to tackle terrorism and its affects and how many people are dying due to terrorist acts. We are making a big fuss about terrorism but what about these issues where people are just dying like ants and mosquitoes ?? 147 people just perish for a very small reason that someone slipped and fell which created panic among others who started to rush towards the safer places and in this melee, so many just died !!

This only proves that we Indians don't give a damn to the value of life. Yesterday, I went to the Shankar Mutt Temple at Hyderabad along with family. Looking at the rush, I was only praying the worst doesn't happen.

I read an interesting article in regarding the issue. Here is the original link - why Can't We Be Careful and Change?

Here is the content of the article written by Sri Mahesh Vijapurkar:

When the floor of any five-star hotel -- lobbies, the corridors, the restaurant etc -- is swabbed by the housekeeping staff, they put up signs that say 'caution -- wet floor'. Likewise at airports, malls and some of the better corporate offices, but certainly not in government buildings.

This is because they like to warn the people moving about so they don't slip, fall and break a bone. Secondly, the owner of the floor would like to save himself from liabilities should someone indeed fall.

All, you would say, in good order.

Quite Careless:

Now cut to the Chamunda temple in Jodhpur's Mehrangad Fort. Close to 160 people died and scores injured in stampede at the start of the Navratri festival because they were victims of a narrow, slippery passage. The devotees had to negotiate that for the darshan. And what do we have from BJP leader and former defence and external affairs minister Jaswant Singh who is also a trustee of the temple?

He has been quoted in newspapers as having said it is difficult to "control the situation in such places" and that the path to the temple -- which means also from the temple -- had become slippery on account of water from the coconuts broken by the worshippers. When devotes slipped and fell, it caused a panic and triggered a stampede.

Accounts say that the people were even breaking the coconuts on the passage, not just at a spot near the temple as part of the ritual and made the place wet and therefore dangerous. All very careless.

Much the Same Thing:

Cut to January 26, 2005. Much the same had happened at the Mandhardevi Temple near Wai in Maharashtra's Satara district. Official figures said 251 died in a stampede triggered in much the same circumstances. Coconut water, some oil used for lighting the lamps and blood from goats sacrificed.

A Commission of Inquiry confirmed the cause and the government of Maharashtra ordered correctives. And the subsequent years saw a modicum of crowd control, regulations on how to and where to make the offerings to the deity.

I have two questions: should these reports of the commissions set up by one government be limited for use by only the governments that set them up? Of course, there are instances where these reports are also buried by those who set them up in the first place. Or should not the government of Rajasthan have take a cue from the Mandhardevi temple tragedy and improved things? The trust that runs the temple does have a responsibility and if things remained the same year after year, it was because none was sensitive to the potential disasters every year.

Prevention is never the part managing public events or even issues at public places. In fact, did one need such commissions to tell what should have been normal precautions where crowds gather? Of course, one has to hold even the people who throng the places for the risks they take and the risks they impose on the others. All of us throw caution to the winds and safety is thought of after the disaster.

Simple Steps:

As a people, we lack that sensitivity. We just refuse to even realise that simple steps could avert major disasters and common sense tells me that they we are foolish in waiting for disasters to overtake us before we apply correctives. That is because the authorities are also of the mindset that anything goes as long as they are not caught with their pants down.

We drive along a new road being laid and use that part which has been opened up. We dangerously drive along a stretch that has a sharp dip at one side. No caution, no ropes, no nothing; everything is left by the contractor to the good sense and judgment of the road user. Of curse, in major cities we now have tin sheets being erected to cordon off construction sites on roads but not universally.

Four years ago, driving from Agra to Bharatpur , my wife and I came across a pit big enough to swallow the car were in. It was right in the middle of the road, with not a caution in place warning users. When I got down and asked the people around, they said that the cavity was around for several weeks. If the cars had not fallen into it, it was the alert drivers one had to thank for, not the authorities who let that remain in place.

Footpaths have manhole covers missing and the streets, if at all, are poorly illuminated. This is so even in major cities like Mumbai and its dormitory satellite towns. In villages, we have bore wells dug and left open for playful and curious children to just slip in and suffer. Television cameras are called, the army arrives and the drama is played out. And a similar tragedy waits its turn to unfold in another location.

Can Happen Anywhere:

These tragedies can happen anywhere. In the monsoons, the steps in any railway station are an invitation to a broken leg. Slippery, uneven, even broken, lead to falls, commuters in their hurry to catch the 8.47 local just get up, curse and move on to avoid missing that train.

How many times have you not seen a taxi being driven with the passenger side door open and the cabby not even aware of it? At a turn it could swing open and the passenger topple out or bang another unsuspecting person or vehicle on the road. If it does not happen often enough, then we need to thank our karma.

Karma, Not Care, Caution:

This dependence on the karma alone lets us watch a carpenter who brings his electric cutting tools and drills which have no plug pins on the other end. That, they explain when I ask them, is because the plug points in most places are non-standard and they cannot keep changing them every time they need to use the tools. That's why they are bare, and are kept in place using matchsticks. That is a potential danger we all ignore.

Have you noticed how slippery the mandis are when you go to but vegetables in bulk? And in bigger retail vegetable markets, they sprinkle water to keep the vegetables looking shiny and fresh. One needs to walk gingerly to avoiding slipping. All this, without complaining; it is not genetics to complain.

This list can go on and on but the safety consciousness of the people and the authorities is abysmally low to the extent of being non-existent. Care, caution and concern are always missing. The absence of a sense of safety and the required discipline to secure it in our daily lives is appallingly missing. We keep paying a price for it every now and then. Bigger events we call tragedy, subsuming into it our fatalist attitude. Smaller things we just take in our strides. Not helpful at all.

Oh, why can't we be careful and change?

Perhaps, when the people begin to use the law of torts would the authorities wake up. Soak them for the liabilities. But before that, people too need to be careful, as they should have been in Mandhardevi and Chamunda temples. And elsewhere too.

Labels: , ,