Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

President Obama sends 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan

.. and what are they going to achieve that the existing 70,000 foreign troops did not ? President Obama is giving into the hawks within the US armed forces. The promise of withdrawal in 2011 is merely a way of softening the blow by a man that is about to get a Nobel Price for peace, and one of the most promising Messiah’s of international politics in recent times, who is in affect ramping up the war levels in a foreign country.
Problem with fighting in Afghanistan is that there are no goal posts that could define either victory or achievement. Over two centuries of warfare and imperialists games in Afghanistan has left a people unable to create a comprehensive and consolidated Nation state. To impose a centralized government where both loyalties and power actually lie with Tribal leaders is bound to lead to what looks like a corrupt government to us. Government by who’s authority ? For without the support of the tribal leaders no government in Afghanistan can function, and their support has to bought or fought for.
Al Qaeda (if there is a central organizations by that name any more) would actually welcome the additional force. For their target is not Afghanistan but Pakistan. They see both countries as one territory for them to control. And the greater the number of US forces in Afghanistan, the greater their ’cause’ and the ability to recruit in Pakistan.
It’s Pakistan that needs to be protected now. Their army has ambivalent attitudes, many privately supporting the fundamentalist. And the greater the number of US troops, the greater their support. The fall of Pakistan to fundamental forces has huge implications for India, yes. But also to the whole world. A Pakistan with a democratic state and a healthy economy is the biggest bulwark against fundamentalist threats both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.
As I have said often in this blog. Pakistan could be turning into President Obama’s Vietnam. And e should take a leaf from the post war history of Vietnam. What ultimately led to conflict resolution is trade and economic growth.

Bikram Yoga an Olympic sport ?

Not sure what to make of this one. Apparently Yoga is going competitive in the US, and is being promoted by none other than our own Bikram Chowdhary and his wife. ! But since the essence of Yoga is completely internal, how can you judge a Yogi ? Apparently Mrs Chowdhary knows as she is the judge and the promoter both.
Would you put brain sensors on to see if there are truly alpha waves being emitting (or whichever wave is emitted when the Buddhist Monks are in deep meditation). Or do people see yoga now as form of gymnastics? I would have thought that competition is the antithesis of Yoga

I love Sachin Tendulkar

I love cricket – and the focus, dedication, joy and sheer artistry Sachin has brought to the game is so rare in any sport. Not just in cricket. And I love him for being him. And now I admire him even more for the courage to say what he believes regardless of the consequences.
I agree that Sachin should stay away from politics – why should we see such a pure soul muddied in the dirty waters of our country’s politics ?
So if you support Sachin – just say “Yes to Sachin”.

India going Green or Red ?

I was asked by NDTV to come on a show to argue with our Minister of Environment on the fact that the Himalayan glaciers are NOT receding. I wonder if he has been there ? This is not about statistics, dear minister, ask the local people. Statistics can be manipulated, as we all know. Just go there and look for yourself. Actually statistical data shows that the Himalayan glaciers are receding at the greatest rate than any other in this planet !
And now about India going Red. Naxalites and Maosists. The huge rebellion against oppression and mis-governance – that has led to ambitious armed groups to take advantage of the oppressed people to rebel. While our press and government call it a rebellion against the Indian State and Law and Order, the truth is that these people have never really seen the Indian State and the only Law and Order they have seen is the callous treatment and humiliations they have suffered at the hands of the representative of the Indian Govt or their Law and Order. And they have only felt India’s rise as a global is economic super power by the land grab for the rich resources that lie in their lands.
As the Indian army goes in for a full scale assault against it it’s own people – and this time unable to blame a foreign power, or Islamic fundamentalism – it’s time for us Indians to seriously think about ourselves.
What is it about us that allows the rich and powerful to completely over-ride not only the basic needs of a majority of our people, but oppress them, their families and their women often worse than animals. Does our constitution that gives EVERY Indian citizen the same fundamental rights not mean anything ? Or was the constitution written only for the elite, urban and powerful ?
What a contradiction. While the Indian government is (rightly) talking about Inclusive Growth, it is launching a huge armed offensive against its own people, And in the cross fire who knows how many innocents, women and children will lose their lives.
How did we ever let it get to this stage ?

TED conference

I am at the TED conference, at the huge Infosys campus in Mysore. There are some incredible speakers here and the conference has been of great value. TED needs to be applauded for what it is doing. Every speaker I heard had something to say and life experience, information and wisdom to share. It has been worth every moment of the two days of being here.
One note of dissent though. TED is encouraging the speakers to be evoke the audience into immediate reactivity. 18 minutes of emotion and laughter. While a lot of that time limitation encourages points being driven home in more direct (and often honest) manner, it also encourages a sense of melodrama that could preclude talks that lead to contemplation, more questions than answers, and a struggle with those questions later.
But that is a small voice of dissent in a huge wave of applause for TED

Delhi descends into savagery : a personal experience

Hi Shekhar,
I was in West Delhi at that time and was around 6years old. Although I was very young at that time, I can almost clearly remember everything that happened.
I was suffering from chicken pox and my little brother was only 4 years old. My dad had an accident earlier and had a plastered leg. My mom was the only person who was taking care of my dad in bed, myself and my little brother. My little brother wore patka and we also had a ‘Khanda’ outside our house. My mom didn’t know what to do and just hung a sheet outside to cover it. She could hear the crowd going to each street one by one and doing the killings and loots. She could see our local Gurdwara on fire from the roof. Since my dad was always in the front room…she moved him to the back of the house along with us, without thinking that once they are in the house, we can easily be found at the back too.
I remember vaguely seeing her rushing up on the roof to see what was going on and to come and try to take care of us. The loud noises could be hear and she could see smoke and fire around us in different streets.
It was lucky for us that once the mob got to our street they decided to go to the other streets first which had more Sikh houses and leave our street for last, as we only had a couple of houses where Sikhs lived. As they went further up, there was a family where one of their relative, who was visiting from US, had a pistol. And as he fired in the air the mob ran away. Due to that one person, my family was left unharmed. I do not know who that was, but wherever he is, I would like to take this opportunity to thank him from the bottom of my heart.
Lot of lives changed after that incident! I went back to school and found my friends crying all the time as there families were killed, and the horror stories I heard and the people I saw, when I visited my doctor, will stay with me forever!
Just thought I would share my experience on this day!
My prayers are with all those families that suffered losses during the riots in 1984.
P.S. I would also like to add that one thing I noticed after the riots was that all the Sikhs who suffered during the riots, lost there business there families, have come out to be even more successful and have been flourishing even more. Which shows that history repeats once again…every time an attack has been made on Sikhs they have come out of it even more stronger and flourishing!

Delhi descends into savagery

2nd November 1984
I am editing my film. My assistant keenly looking over my shoulder. Gentle boy, who was shy and spoke so softly. Sensitive and very diligent and caring. Another assistant walks in. Whispers in the boy’s ears, and the boy looks a little startled and walks out. Unusual, as he would have normally asked for permission to go, or at least excuse himself. 20 minutes later I walk out to get some fresh air. The editing room was in Pali Hill in what used to be Nasir Hussain’s bungalow. Raj was sitting on a parapet with a completely blank look on his face. The other assistant staring at me helplessly.
Raj has been told that most of his extended family had just died. Killed in the riots following the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Not just killed, the women dragged out and forced to watch the men folk being burned alive, and then the women and children slaughtered. Raj just sat there. Non comprehending. There was no words of solace or comfort you could give. As my other assistant described the events, I just sat their disbelieving,
For how does a city descend into savagery ? A city I was brought up in – my own Sikh friends hiding with their families in safe houses to save themselves from the mad slaughter frenzy that was spreading so fast through the city. And the police and the government stood by either helplessly or completely complicit in the gruesome killing. I have to keep reminding myself this was 1984 – not a moment in bygone history.
So as we remember 25 years since Indira Gandhi – we must remember the aftermath and ask – how is it that civilization reveals such an ugly side so quickly ? Are we basically savages living behind a veneer of controlled social behavior ? Is this not the same savagery that we descended into in Gujarat ?
I read today the following account by a very respected journalist called Rahul Bedi and the memories flooded back. Please brace yourself before reading it, and if any of you have memories of that event, please write in. It’s important we remember …..


Hilary Clinton accuses Pakistan Army of supporting Taliban, but where’s Bin Laden ?

Pratima asked : Shekhar, What are your thoughts on the Pak-bashing that Hillary Clinton did today?.
Imagine a war that has continued for 9 years, with 20,000 foreign troops, that has killed tens of thousands of people, many of them innocent men women and children, and plunged two countries into chaos that will take years to come out of – all in search of one man called Bin Laden that nobody mentions any more !!
I believe the American Policy in the region suffers from a clear lack of goals. How would they be able to declare victory, when they don’t really know what they want ? I have already argued that the Islamic form of democracy is not something the West understands or is willing to accept, while the western form of democracy will never succeed in Afghanistan.
So Hilary Clinton’s frustration is showing. She effectively got as close to saying that the Pakistan Army secretly supports the Taliban as a visiting senior politician of the US can say within Pakistan. She said that is ‘not possible that the Pakistan’s Govt does not know where the Taliban hide outs and centres in Pakistan are”.
Partly of course there is a growing frustration within President Obama’s administration over their inability to control the Taliban either in Pakistan or in Afghanistan. And in the meantime billions of dollar worth of military aid is pouring into Pakistan from the US, and they are not even sure how much of that is actually landing up in Taliban hands. And as more US troops die in the region, Obama has to show tangible results if he to send more troops. Not only that, each day of terrorist activity pushes Pakistan to the brink of economic collapse, and the closer the terrorist organizations are to their goal of throwing a nuclear state into complete chaos, and take power. That is the scenario that the US fears, and the whole world should fear.
What the US must understand that the borders between Pakistan, Baluchistan and Afghanistan were created by the Colonial powers and are very porous. The lines created left families and cultures divided, but who have never really accepted or respected these borders. That is true about Iraq and Israel and Palestine and the Gaza strip too. Borders created by the colonists are the last but probably most devastating legacy of their colonization. And in this area community, family and tribal bonds are very strong. So many of the officers and soldiers in the Pakistan Army have family, community and friends across the border, and probably feel a greater affinity to them than many of their own army. So the Taliban is bound to have strong sympathizers and support in the Pakistan Army and the rugged tribal areas at the border. A support that grows everyday as American troops and government encourage the Pakistan Army to launch an offensive against their own kith and kin. Just as would happen to the Latino troops of Mexican origin in the US army if the US went to war on the borders with Mexico.
Somehow everyone has forgotten that the American troops went into Afghanistan and then into the the border areas of Pakistan in search of Bin Laden. No one talks about him anymore and the scope of the war seems to has just widened with no definite goal in mind. It’s becoming more and more indefinite, with consequences that are more and more dangerous to us.

India’s shameful Legacy

The legacy that left 1 million dead and 10 million displaced from their ancestral homes. The partition of India.The folowing comment from Abdul Munim is such resonance on the day we are remembering Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi :
I am a Muslim for 1400 years….
A Punjabi for 2500 years…
A Pakistani only for 55 years…
I am an Indian since last 3300 years…
Where should my loyalties lie?
With Islam?Punjab?PAKISTAN? Or INDIA?
Partition is India’s legacy of shame, a wound that never heals, an event so scarring that it will never truly be removed until every Hindu and Muslim accepts it as a “COLLECTIVE FAILURE” and a “COLLECTIVE SHAME”….

World Habitat Day

Liza Peiffer, On behalf of Habitat for Humanity writes in to inform about the World Habitat Day on October 05, 2009 as chosen by United Nations.
World Habitat Day is a day for everyone to stand up and let it be known that affordable, adequate housing should be a priority everywhere.
What can you do for the World Habitat Day?
Advocate, Educate & Donate. For more information, photos and videos, you can visit