The G 20 talks will fail,

I was traveling with my producer in the US who was expressing real concern on the environment. ” What is going to happen to global warming when every Chinese has a car ?”. He is a caring intelligent man, who completely missed the contradiction. We were traveling in his gas guzzling Rolls Royce. It’s like a concerned King who is trying to fix the financial problems in his Kingdom, without realizing that the base problem lies in the system that made him King.
The G 20 summit is made up of people committed to current financial/political systems, for that is how they came to power. They will tweak the financial system, but not accept that the political systems are interlinked with the problem. The economic system is embroiled in an unfair political system, not suited to a Global economy. The Global leaders constantly talk about free movements of goods, services, free markets and free access investment opportunities globally. So I have one question to them :
Why don’t you allow free access to jobs world wide ? How about taking away all immigration restrictions world wide ? Not till that happens will we have a truly Global economy.

Afganistan will be Obama’s Vietnam

No one has a won in Afghanistan. For there is nothing to win. The country has been ravaged by a centuries of invasions and attempts to control the irrepressible tribes. All there is left is the fierce pride of the people. And the British, the Russians, the Americans have all failed to control that sense of pride and independence. All that the US will achieve by sending more troops to Afghanistan (as Obama has promised) is to embroil Pakistan into the regions violence. And then for the next decade the war will go on. President Obama says that “the US cannot allow breeding grounds for terrorists to stay free to attack the US”. But this military intervention will cause the region and Pakistan too to become an even more fertile breeding ground for younger terrorists. The motivations are completely unclear as Osama Bin Laden after 9 years of 9/11 is more a myth than an enemy. Is it worth destroying the social structures of a whole region to search for one man ? What needs to happen for the US to have completed its objective ? What is the objective ? The Taliban will live as an idea after you have killed the last standing man in Afghanistan, and will explode again unless the young men of Afghanistan have hope of better and more prosperous lives. For at this moment the only way to earn a living in Afghanistan is to either pick up a gun on behalf of the highest bidder, or grow poppy. The wealth generated from drugs is one thing that keeps the generals of Pakistan Army and the Taliban tied together, not just fundamentalism.
The Talibanization of Pakistan is going to be one of the biggest problems facing India over the next decade. The shifting of the IPL to a foreign country is just a sign of things to come. We will have a Vietnam on our doorstep and we will get embroiled in the conflict.

Is there a new idea for India ?

After all India was formed out an idea. An idea of freedom from the British. India now needs a new idea. Having been formed, what could keep it going ? Democracy was a great idea, but after over 60 years of independence 80% of India’s population does not have any of the basic fundamental rights that our constitutions promised them. Democracy on its own is obviously not working.
India needs social change. A non violent revolution. It stands on the brink of greatness, but is completely brought down by its political system. So do not expect change to be brought our by these elections. India need a leader that can lead the people from outside the political system. For that it needs a new idea. An idea that does not destroy the basic ideas of democracy, but creates a front which ensures that democracy works within our culture, where the promises made in our constitution to the citizens of India are kept.
I had this discussion with my friend Shashi Tharoor, who almost became the Secy Gen of the United Nations. But thankfully he did not, for instead of that he is back in India about to contest elections from Kerala. Hope he wins, for he is a brilliant thinker/writer/administrator and would be a great addition to our Parliament. But will he be more effective outside the Parliament ?
We need a new leader. Like Gandhi, this new leader should be able to motivate our people to change their own lives. Where the motivation comes for the good of the collective, combining all castes and religions.
But what could that singular new idea be ?

Why does Obama always raise the bogey of India and China ?

We in Asia have always suffered because our best minds left our shores to take jobs in the US and the West. The ‘brain drain’ as we called it was a big problem for the growth of our economies. Now that our economies are growing faster than the rest of the world, and there is a new found optimism in our own culture, the brain drain is reversing. Indian and China stand on the brink of creating new technologies, new international brands and we dream of coming at par with the West economically. It is time therefore for the West to welcome this new dream as part of the new world order. For in a Global world your neighbour’s prosperity is as important to you as for them. Not only is a prosperous trading partner good for your own economy, but poverty leads to social unrest wich can lead to global terrorism as we have seen.
But in the west the old thinking continues. They still see the rest of the world only in context of themselves. President Obama has yet again warned that if the US does not pull of it’s socks, Indians and Chinese people will take away their jobs. Why do all US politicians constantly raise the bogey of their people loosing their jobs to Indians and Chinese ? Like the West has a right to keep all the best jobs to themselves and Indian and China only deserve the jobs that the West decides to give them ???
It is the minds and the enterprise of the Indian and Chinese technologists who migrated to the US that have held together the US economy in the last two decades. The US medical system has been held together by the Indian and Chinese immigrants. And the only jobs that have been transferred outside from the US to India and China are jobs that we do cheaper. And most of the product goes back to the US in any case. The US gradually made India and China their outsourcing base, transferring polluting Industrial jobs (and therefore pollution) to China and back office low end work to India.
President Obama, of all people, must realize that the aspirations and enterprise of the Asian people are going to begin to take fruit. He of all people must stop looking at the growing prosperity of Asia with fear. The days of Western economic colonization are over and there is a far better and fairer world economic order that is emerging. The economic downturn and the rise in global terrorism are vital signs of a world that is on the brink of collapse because of extremes of wealth and poverty.
A fairer world is a more stable world. And President Obama must recognize that wealth, prosperity, and stability lies in a willingness to share.

Nicole Kidman and Slumdog Millionaire

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I tried to keep it quite and hush hush, but it’s all over the news papers today in any case. I am at the Taj Lake Palace Hotel shooting with Nicole Kidman, Arjun Rampal and little Rubina from Slumdog Milionaire. Fascinating cast, even for a commercial !

Paani, the movements begins

Scene from Paani :
” As the little girl running towards camera gets shot from behind, she screams her last words ” Water is our right – it is not for sale” As she falls, through the dust you barely make out the uniform of the man that shot her. He wears a blue helmet that states “UN Water Force”

The truth behind the IPL cricket shift

What no one is saying is that the foreign players have expressed their unwillingness to come to India subsequent to the terrorist attacks in India and in Pakistan. So the IPL organizers and the team owners had no choice, if they are to recoup their investments and make the kind of profits they were hoping for. And please ! could they stop going on and on about how this is not about money but for the good of cricket ?? I loved the IPL tamasha last year, but through the year no one talked about anything but the revenues from advertising, the cost of players etc etc. It is all about money.
But the IPL having to leave India for security reasons is a blow to our credibility. Tourism, for example, that has already gone through a devastating season now stands drop even further. I am surprised at our Home Minister Chidambaram’s statement today in the press that Pakistan is in danger of becoming a failed state, and the Talibanization of Pakistan is a real threat to India.
Has he just woken up ? We have been discussing this on our blog and elsewhere for months now. Which makes it even more important that in the coming elections the security and protection of the people of India is a prime agenda. Can the parties please please for once put the people of India ahead of their own mindless lust for power ? My argument still is that a new leader will arise from outside the political system. Someone not polluted by it.
Is there such a leader ?

Oh no ! IPL leaves India for boring foreign shores

What is IPL without the crowds screaming, howling and cheering ? What is IPL without all the controversies of what the sexy cheerleaders should or should not wear ? Without all that IPL is just … well .. cricket. In India cricket sizzles and IPL was cricket mixed with heady festivities of a pop concert. We will miss the melodrama of it all. I know everyone is making the right statements like ” we are doing this for the good of the country as national elections are coming up”.
National elections are good for the country ? That’s debatable. And does our inability to provide adequate security for the matches mean that there will be a ban on big political rallies for the lack of adequate security cover ? Now that’s a good thought.

The beginings of the social revolution in the US ? Obama now rides the ‘tiger of change’

Panicked by the rising public anger in the US, President Obama and his team have taken an extraordinary step by retroactively taxing almost 95 % of all bonuses received by executives/employees of any corporation that has received government bailouts. Despite that, executives of AIG have asked for private security guards in case the public anger against them turns violent. AIG employees have been advised by the co not to wear anything that could identify them as part of the company. It is easy to forget that we are talking here about the largest insurance company in the US and probably in the world.
And still workers communities, backed by trade unions, are organizing bus tours of expensive real estate properties, for their members to see how the ‘other half lives’ on the ‘tax payers money’. People are hiding expensive cars in the garages, for soon their cars may even be attacked in the streets.
President Obama and his team may not ultimately suceed in this attempt. I am sure that the executives will fight back by tying the government up in extensive law cases, somehting the US is so famous for. But the people have tasted blood. They have recognized they have the political power and will hold Obama to his electoral promises.
Change is upon America as Obama promised, but not in ways he may have imagined. But he now rides the tiger of change and cannot jump off.

Live 8

The dust settled from the whirling of the helicopter blades. A hundred dark gaunt faces, ghost like, cautiously approached the fat machine. Women barely able to carry babies, their stomachs bloated and flies triumphantly gorging whatever little they could find around their oozing eyes and dry lips. No energy even to brush them away.

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