• 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Media In India/elsewhere

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Miracle that's India, yet we demonise it

Vivek Gumaste (A Reader)
Posted online: Saturday, May 07, 2005 at 1102 hours IST
Updated: Saturday, May 07, 2005 at 1105 hours IST

Growing up in the southern city of Bangalore in the early 70’s, I was appalled to see differing political factions of Iranian students indulging in open street fights. What an uncultured group these people are, I thought to myself. It was a classic example of washing one’s dirty linen in public in a different country. It evoked a sense of disgust in me. It is the same feeling that I sense, here in New York, when I view the local desi scene in the context of the denial of an US visa to Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

I do not wish to dwell on the pros and cons of the issue at hand but would rather like to analyse what such episodes do to our image as a nation and a people. How does it reflect upon of all of us – the secular groups, the nationalist factions or whatever (I hate these labels for they mislead). Is this the right forum to wash our dirty linen? Does it serve any purpose apart from demoralising us?

We as a nation appear to be excessively obsessed about how we are perceived. What will the world think of us is question that we often ask ourselves and is a mantra that is chanted again and again. Now who or what is this “world” that we keep referring to? Is it the Western governments? Is it the Western media? Or is it the lay public in these countries? And how is this opinion shaped? Does it stem from an independent judgment? Or is it a reflection of how we project ourselves?

During colonial times the British encouraged an unsavoury image of India in order to justify their rule; the natives are unfit to rule themselves was their premise. According to them, snake charmers, emaciated cows on the streets and ubiquitous dirt seemed to embody India, prompting even Mahatma Gandhi to dub such descriptions as nothing more than ‘a drain inspectors report’. Writing in Young India, Mahatma Gandhi said, “Katherine Mayo’s book Mother India is the report of a drain inspector sent out with one purpose of opening and examining the drains of the country to be reported upon… If Miss Mayo had confessed that she had gone to India merely to open out and examine the drains of India, there would be little to complain about her compilation. But she says, in effect, with a certain amount of triumph “the drains are India….”

As these stereotyped images of India conjured during colonial times fade away today, another one, uglier and more repulsive than the previous, is being created. Events are being exaggerated or blown out of proportion in order to sensationalise news items and thereby make them more appealing to a Western audience. However the culprits this time are not the West or Europeans. The detractors are our own homegrown writers enthusiastically misusing a newfound access to the world stage with each one trying to outdo the other in this calumny.

Pankaj Mishra is the author of the novel, the Romantics and is a regular contributor to the New York Times. On the eve of Clinton’s visit to India in March 2000, in a scene that conformed to a Nazi how to manual, 33 Sikhs are rounded up and gunned down in cold blood by Islamic militants. The hideous crime shocks the nation and reverberates throughout the world. But Pankaj Mishra chooses to see it differently. In an article titled, “Pride and Blood in Kashmir”, (NYT, March 22, 2000) he uses this barbaric act, not to castigate the militants for their brutality, but to censure the Indian Government for its highhandedness. He quotes a Border Security Force personnel who tells him, “I don’t believe in this human rights nonsense.” Pankaj Mishra concludes, “The military arms of all-powerful authorities in New Delhi have been used to suppress regional discontent.” In effect he is telling the outside world that Indian democracy is a sham.

In another article (Hinduism’s Political Resurgence, NYT, February 25, 2002), Pankaj Mishra goes one step further preferring Pakistan under the dictator Musharraf to democratic India under the BJP: “While General Musharraf strives toward a secular polity, the ruling politicians of India head in the opposite direction.” Imagine the irony when he surmises: “Oddly, the illiberal tendencies a military dictator seeks to expel, with popular support, from Pakistan seem to be finding a hospitable home in democratic India.”

These writers are at their worst or best (from their perspective) when they report on anything to do with Hindu nationalism. Reproduced below is a paragraph from Pankaj Mishra’s, “The Other Face of Fanaticism” (NYT, Feb 2, 2003). Referring to the Gujarat violence he writes: “The scale of the violence was matched only by its brutality. Women were gang-raped before being killed. Children were burned alive. Grave-diggers at mass burial sites told investigators “that most bodies that had arrived….were burned and butchered beyond recognition. Many were missing body parts-arms, legs and even heads. The elderly and the handicapped were not spared.” Is this the image of India that we wish to project to the outside world? Again am I saying: hush up these evil acts?

No. Use the right forums to seek redress if that is your real intention. Do not sensationalize events to garner personal glory.

A. Ghosh’s report in Time magazine is along the same lines. He speaks of how people boasted of the killings associated with the Gujarat riots and then adds:

“Some, if not all, of this was undoubtedly pure braggadocio. The stories sounded fake, or at least embellished for effect. "It was like a bunch of schoolboys boasting about imaginary achievements," said my friend. "But these so-called achievements were murderous." What was especially scary was the casual, matter-of-fact tone in which this conversation was conducted. "These guys seemed no more agitated than they would have if they were talking about the weather," said my friend. "It was like an everyday discussion."

If Ghosh realises that these incidents are not entirely true (embellished for effect) and suggestive of ‘pure braggadocio’ as he himself puts it, why does he feel the need to document them especially in an international magazine? Apart from netting him a by-line and falsely maligning Indians does it serve any function?

Look how Meenaksi Ganguly writing in Time uses one man’s words to denigrate the Hindus as a whole: “Another man, who claimed to have killed nine Muslims that day, offered this explanation: "I am just a Hindu. That is enough, because I was acting for all Hindus."

Their writing is graphic in a most negative way and is meant to portray the worst of India. Read this excerpt from Shashi Tharoor’s article, paying close attention to the words I have italicised (India’s Past Becomes a Weapon, NYT, March 6, 2002): “In 1992 a howling mob of Hindu extremists tore down the Babri Masjid, which occupied a prominent spot in a town otherwise overflowing with temples. The mosque had been built in the 1520's by India's first Mogul emperor, Babur; the Hindu zealots vowed to replace it with a temple to Ram. In other words, they want to avenge history by undoing the shame of half a millennium ago”. Such writings effectively conjure up an image of a country filled with bloodthirsty religious fanatics.

As these articles indicate, most articles about India appearing in the foreign news media are penned by Indians or people of Indian origin. During the months of March-April 2002, the Washington Post had 12 reports (most of them not complementary) on the Gujarat riots: six were by Rama Lakshmi, 5 by Rajiv Chandrasekaran and 1 by Salman Rushdie.

In the debate about Gujarat, Indian newspapers are extremely fond of referencing an ‘international’ organisation; the New York based Human Rights Watch. But do you know who authored the report on Gujarat put out by HRW? Smitha Narula, a person of Indian origin.

So an objective evaluation reveals that what we perceive as western opinion is really not so. It is in fact a veneer that has been deviously crafted by Indian political groups pursuing a narrow agenda.

What makes these Indian writers depict India in this fashion? There are two reasons for this. One is that the Western public (like the public everywhere) craves for melodrama which these Indian writers are ever willing to provide even at the cost of truth and honesty. In addition, the urge to ‘get published’ in the Western press drives these individuals to dramatise events. Secondly this is the result of an ideological warfare that is being waged by the Indian left against the Hindu right. Unfortunately, the so-called liberal wing in India has a large cadre of well-educated (not intellectuals, mind you) Westernised journalists who are able to interact with their counterparts in the West and thereby propagate their one-sided views.

Compared to the pessimism that pervades the writings of Indian authors, Western writers tend to be more fair and positive about India. Reproduced below is an abstract from an op-ed piece titled, Vote France Off the Island (NYT,Feb 9,2003) by the noted columnist Thomas Friedman: “Sometimes I wish that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council could be chosen like the starting five for the NBA All-Star team — with a vote by the fans. If so, I would certainly vote France off the Council and replace it with India. Then the perm-five would be Russia, China, India, Britain and the United States. That's more like it.

Why replace France with India? Because India is the world's biggest democracy, the world's largest Hindu nation and the world's second-largest Muslim nation, and, quite frankly, India is just so much more serious than France these days. France is so caught up with its need to differentiate itself from America to feel important, it's become silly. India has grown out of that game. India may be ambivalent about war in Iraq, but it comes to its ambivalence honestly. Also, France can't see how the world has changed since the end of the cold war. India can.”

In another article captioned, Where Freedom reigns (NYT, August 14, 2002) Friedman concludes: “The more time you spend in India the more you realise that this teeming, multiethnic, multi-religious, multilingual country is one of the world's great wonders -- a miracle with message. And the message is that democracy matters.

This truth hits you from every corner. Consider Bangalore, where the traffic is now congested by all the young Indian techies, many from the lower-middle classes, who have gotten jobs, apartments -- and motor scooters -- by providing the brainpower for the world's biggest corporations. While the software designs of these Indian techies may be rocket science, what made Bangalore what it is today is something very simple: 50 years of Indian democracy and secular education, and 15 years of economic liberalisation, produced all this positive energy.”

Reading this article made my heart well with pride. I made a copy of the article and had my American-born daughters read it again and again. Even when commenting about something unpleasant like the Hindu-Muslim riots of Gujarat, a foreigner like Friedman is willing to analyse the events objectively. His observations are tempered with good sense and good judgment. Though critical of the riots and the Hindu nationalist BJP; he is reluctant to demonise events. His keen journalistic eye observes that the riots did not spread to other parts of India as one would expect.

“No, India is not paradise. Just last February the Hindu nationalist BJP government in the state of Gujarat stirred up a pogrom by Hindus against Muslims that left 600 Muslims, and dozens of Hindus, dead. It was a shameful incident, and in a country with 150 million Muslims -- India has the largest Muslim minority in the world -- it was explosive. And do you know what happened?

Nothing happened.

The rioting didn't spread anywhere.”

So am I saying that violent crimes and brutal injustice should be hushed-up or swept under the rug? Am I suggesting that a foreigner’s view is more important than an Indian’s?

The answer is no on both accounts. My only grouse is with the forum that one uses for this purpose. Such type of exposure on the international front hardly serves any constructive purpose.

The world is not going to shower accolades on us for washing our dirty linen in public. They will only use this information to chastise us and imply obliquely that we are not yet ready to be granted a permanent seat in the UN. Further it tends to strengthen colonial notions of Indians as uncivilized natives incapable of resolving their problems in a sophisticated manner.

All said and done, India still boasts of an infrastructure that works. Our courts do hand out fair judgments. Our newspapers posses a degree of freedom that is unmatched in the world. That this freedom has been blatantly misused in recent times is another story. More importantly, we have a functioning parliament that allows every grievance to be voiced publicly. So if one genuinely desires redress without ulterior motives, these are avenues that can be tapped and should be. Recourse to the world stage is relevant only in cases of suppressed nations which India is not.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the expressindia.com.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Superb article <img src='http://users.pandora.be/eforum/emoticons4u/happy/1074.gif' border='0' alt='user posted image' />
One thing to notice in this article. Sanghvi just drops all pretentions about being neutral etc.. He just goes ahead and claims "my congress". That issue is settled once and for all. Second thing, no matter how much chamchagiri nirupam resorts to he is still an evil hindutva fascist in hardcore psec minds. Third, Sanghvi is BSing, thu and thru. Anybody who lives or has lived in mumbai knows about beer bars. Heck I have been to beer bars 15 years ago. And this is not isolated stuff. Its all over mumbai. And to claim that this is oh-so-forward business where nothing hanky-panky happens is just pure BS. Fourth, maharashtra is a soft-hindutva state. No matter who is in power hindutva always rules. Fifth point, wonder why they dont extend this same courtesy of respecting someone's profession to other professions ? Latrine cleaners for example. Whenever the media talks about them, its always human-rights this and that - oh how they are abused and all this is all because of brahmins blah-blah-blah. Cant we respect that profession instead of being condescending and making victims out of them ???


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Dancing to Shiv Sena's tune
   By: Vir Sanghvi
   May 8, 2005

Have you ever been to a dance bar? It’s okay, you don’t have to answer the question if you are reading this at home. But speaking for myself, I have to say, hand placed firmly on heart, that not only have I never been to a dance bar, I’d never even heard of the bloody things till two years ago.

That was when I was on a flight from Delhi to Bombay and one of the other passengers, a young woman in her 20s, struck up a conversation.

She seemed nice enough, dressed in a style that could be described as Bollywood baroque but spoke no English.

It’s ironic that there is a crack down on a legitimate establishment, while pimps and the organised underworld that run brothels are allowed to go free
My curiosity eventually got the better of me. It was clear that she had money — she said she had flown to Delhi for the weekend to see her parents who lived in South Extension — but it was unclear how this wealth had been generated.

She worked in a beer bar, she told me. Sensing my befuddlement — was she a particularly well-paid waitress, I wondered — she explained patiently that all over North Bombay, many ‘beer bars’ also had little stages on which girls like her danced to Hindi film songs.

She was paid virtually nothing by the bar, she said, but because of her great beauty and bewitching dance style ( I think it is fair to say that she was not a very modest person) customers rushed to the stage and showered her with currency notes.

Obviously, my body language betrayed me — by this stage, I was edging away from her and wondering if all she did was dance — because she rushed to assure me that she was a good girl, that she went home alone at nights and that she had a boyfriend (“but my parents don’t know.”)

I put the encounter down to experience. I knew I’d never run into her again and as for the Arabian Nights world of beer bars, I was startled to find that there existed places where customers threw money at dancers. Obviously Bombay, the city I grew up in, had changed a lot in the decade-and-a-half that I had been away.

Imagine my surprise then to find ‘beer bar’ cropping up in the conversation everywhere I went. You know how it is. You learn a new word or come across a new phenomenon and then suddenly, you run into it again and again over the next few months.

So it was with beer bars. I learnt, from my Bombay friends, that the term ‘dance bars’ was more commonly used; perhaps my co-passenger had thought that beer bars sounded more up-market. I interviewed the actress Tabu who had starred in a film about dance bars called Chandni Bar (though Tabu claimed she hadn’t done much research for the role). And there were dance bar sequences in every Satya-type film set in Bombay.

Even so I had no idea that these dance bars would, one day, become the focus of a major controversy in India’s most cosmopolitan city.

In fact, when I first read about the Bombay police’s ‘crackdown’ on dance bars, my first thought was “way to go, boys! Just what we’ve come to expect of the Bombay police. Let the gangsters go free, and crack down on the dancing girls”.

But only in recent weeks have I realized that it isn’t just the police who object to dance bars. Apparently, the state government — and the Home Minister in particular — has turned the closing down of these bars into a hot political issue.

Despite widespread opposition — from nearly every sensible columnist I have read and one little sardarji who turns up on every TV channel to allege that the police are on the take (wow! No kidding, Sherlock?) — the state government is determined to press ahead with its crusade to close down every dance bar and drive the girls on the streets.

As far as I can tell, the state government’s objections follow predictable lines: alcohol is served at these bars; bad people frequent them; the girls lead men to temptation by causing them to have dirty thoughts; our moral fibre is under attack from swaying hips etc etc.

None of this is very profound or worth arguing about. There was a time in the last decade when my old friend Pramod Navalkar was Puritan-in-Chief for the Shiv Sena government and ran similar campaigns: close bars early, remove offensive posters, ban anything with XXX in its name because this is a reference to hardcore porn ( I kid you not) and lock up your daughters.

There are perfectly good liberal arguments against the Navalkaresque position but I’m not going to insult your intelligence by recycling them yet again.

All I will say is this: isn’t it curious that in a city with what could well be Asia’s largest population of prostitutes (Navalkar’s own estimate) the government is not targeting the pimps or the organized underworld that runs the brothels? Instead, it is out to ban the one activity that is open, legitimate and licensed.

All of this intolerance would be quite understandable if the Shiv Sena–BJP government was still in power. After all, the Sena’s single greatest achievement, while in office, was to destroy the free soul of one of the world’s great cities and to turn Bombay into a puritanical backwater.

But here’s the thing: the Shiv-Sena-BJP lost the election. (Actually, they lost two elections). Poor old Pramod Navalkar is no longer a minister.

Bal Thackeray sits and broods at home. Even Sanjay Nirupam has suddenly discovered secularism, presented a chadar at the Ajmer dargah and become a Congressman. The Shiv Sena is in disarray. The BJP is in disgrace. (I’m not going to explain why, but two words should do it: Pramod Mahajan).

All this absurd intolerance is actually the handiwork of a Congress government.

The party that says it wants to lead young India into the 21st Century is behaving a blurred carbon copy of the discredited Shiv Sena.

How can my Congress government be so foolish? I’ve read one of the explanations offered by the media and it makes some sense.

It is Bombay’s continual misfortune that despite contributing so much of India’s Gross National Product, it counts for nothing politically.

Maharashtra will always be run by some guys from the hinterland, who do not understand Bombay and loathe the modernity it represents.

They don’t have to fight elections in Bombay, so they follow the sort of regressive policies that please the voters of the villages and small towns they win their elections from.

This probably explains why the anti-dance Home Minister is trying to drag Bombay back by a century or two. Where he comes from, women don’t dance. And as far as he’s concerned, that’s how it should be all over the world.

But what of Vilasrao Deshmukh, a wise, otherwise modern, man of sophistication and intellect? Why does he go along with this nonsense?

Why is he letting his government — one that has so many genuine problems, including the pathetic electricity supply — be hijacked by a Shiv Sena agenda? What of the central leadership? Is there nobody in Delhi who can stop this foolishness?

I have a theory. I first developed it when the Maharashtra Congress was declaring that Veer Savarkar — the antithesis of a Congress icon — was a great guy and Congressmen were loudly abusing Mani Shankar Aiyar. (In the event, Mani was right to the extent that Savarkar never took off as an election issue.)

And then, as Navalkarism became the party’s credo and its leaders fought Sunil Dutt in their zeal to admit Sanjay Nirupam into the state Congress, I became convinced that my theory was correct.

The Congress in Maharashtra exists in its own universe. It no longer stands for the things that the Congress, at a national level, says it believes in. Instead, it stands for all the things that the Shiv Sena once stood for. (There’s even been a retread of the Sena’s anti-Bangladeshi rhetoric in defence of the dance bar crackdown.)

I don’t know why Maharashtra’s Congress leaders have allowed this to happen. Perhaps they are so much in the shadow of Sharad Pawar that they think that the only way to distinguish themselves from him is to turn into the spiritual heirs of Bal Thackeray.

Whatever the reason, what is happening is crazy. And it if continues, the Congress may retain Maharashtra, but it will lose the heart and mind of India’s greatest city. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
oh no ! Sanghvi will be very disappointed. The central govt (with sonia-ji, no less) is resorting to fascist hindutva policies.. <!--emo&:blink:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/blink.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='blink.gif' /><!--endemo-->


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Govt bans four satellite channels

New Delhi, May 10 (ANI): The Central Government has prohibited transmission or re-transmission of four channels, which had been telecasting objectionable programmes through the Cable Networks and DTH Network in the country.

According to a press release, it had come to the notice of the Government that some cable operators in the country, through their Cable Television Networks, were transmitting/re-transmitting satellite channels i.e. "BlueKiss", "BlueKiss Express", BlueKiss Promo" and "TBL-XXX" which were reportedly telecasting programmes that are against good taste or decency and likely to adversely affect public morality.

An order prohibiting transmission/re-transmission of above television channels has been issued and has been forwarded to India Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and all Cable Operators and MSOs.

Further, this order has also been sent to all the Chief Secretaries, Director-Generals of Police of all States and Union Territories and also to District Magistrates of all Districts of all States and Union Territories, who are 'authorized officers' to implement this decision as per the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.(ANI)<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Spin machine is on !! We are all brothers onlee. Angrez were also our brothers onlee. Why did everybody waste time fighting angrez for so long onlee. Founding fathers wanted democratically elected INDIAN leaders to be in PM position, but hey whats a small thing as INDIAN anyways - down with "rabid" deshbhaktas - long live gori sarkar !! Ok now I am sick .. <!--emo&<_<--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/dry.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='dry.gif' /><!--endemo-->


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Rule Sonia! Is India xenophobic?

Press Trust of India
Posted online: Thursday, May 12, 2005 at 0946 hours IST
Updated: Thursday, May 12, 2005 at 1555 hours IST

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, May 12: In a huge blow to xenophobia the world over, recent years have seen emerge in the US, UK and Canada a rising galaxy of Indian stars on their political horizon - but India is cutting itself in two, riven over the emergence of one foreigner on the national political firmament - Sonia Gandhi.

In fact, so great was the divide in the country when the Congress party came to power (as part of UPA) that the prospect of Sonia donning the mantle of the Prime Minister of India threatened to unleash a virtual civil war in the country.

Although the fire was being fanned by the 2004 General Election losers Bharatiya Janata Party yet it was also true that both in urban and rural areas common citizens were up in arms over the return of a foreigner into power after the fall of the British Empire here in 1947.

The rift was enough to make Sonia renounce her chance at making history by appointing the ever-popular, though political pygmy, Dr Manmohan Singh as the premier. It took the wind out of the sails of the BJP and other parties. The issue died, or has it?

Elsewhere, the victory that threw up Tony Blair as the PM in Britain also churned up 6 Indian-origin triumphs - five from ruling Labour Party and one Conservative. Keith Vaz is a household name there, Bobby Jindal is on top of the world in US and in Canada are Members of Parliament Navdeep Singh Bains, Ruby Dhalla, Gurmant Singh Grewal, Nina Kaur Grewal and Gurbax Singh Malhi, and then there's the ever-popular Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh - all taking themselves and their communities into power. And, we haven't even mentioned Indians at the lower end of the political chain who are taking nascent steps to stardom.

While the rabid nationalists will say these politicos have been elected from areas heavily populated by immigrants, there is no denying the fact that they have managed to get onto the all-religions-and-nationalities bandwagon through hard work and dedication that they bring to their jobs.

Back at home, the fuel for this anti-foreigner bias in India stems from a mix of pride and prejudice. Pride in the fact that Indians value their freedom and would deem it uncomfortable to justify a foreigner at the helm of affairs; prejudice at the fact that India was divided on caste factors for centuries and there is a bias against anyone that is not deemed part of socio-cultural milieu.

This aspect acquires prominence due to the current divisions seen across India on terms of caste and community - Yadavs will vote for Mulayam, Dalits will vote for Mayawati, Mussalmans will vote for Mufti/Farooq, Pandits vill vote for Brahmin, Sikh will vote for a Sikh, etc. etc.

But what is more important is the fact that pogroms like the one seen post-Godhra in Gujarat, massacre of Sikhs post-Indira Gandhi assassination that reinforce the old tendencies for communities to stick together for safety's sake.

Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir are all immersed in politics of the past and it is preventing the economic, political and social progress of the country to happen at a fast pace.

But, speaking for the future, in a more open and well-connected world, any country seeking to ride the train to success in every field of endeavour has to shed any xenophobic feelings and adopt the ones on the lines of Brotherhood of Man.

So, with most Indians unwilling to vote even for a man outside their caste, how can they bring themselves to accept someone who stems from outside the country?

While for India, the Sonia question has been evaded, yet looking at Indian polity the same query is going to be put to in, at the most, five years.

What if the majority again favours Congress?

What if Sonia accepts Prime Ministership of India, instead of demurring.

After all a bahu (the avatar that Sonia has adopted in India) may renounce her rights once, but the next time round she will insist on taking what is rightfully hers.

Will India be mature enough not to stand in the way? Will it be in India's interest to have a foreign premier?

After all, with millions of Indians making great progress in all fields across the globe from Australia, Malaysia, to the West Indies, the chances of their becoming Prime Ministers and Presidents are not bad. Also, already in Fiji there was an Indian-origin Prime Minister, while America is debating whether to pass a bill allowing foreign born nationals to become the President of the US of A.

Therefore, as far as progress and development for India are concerned let the Universal Rights of Man not be constrained by an Earth divided into a political map.

For India and its citizens any considerations, other than legal ones, fall to the wayside when we look at what an election signifies.

The founding fathers of our nation decided that any party that wins a general election is entitled to make one of its leaders the Prime Minister. So, if Sonia can be a citizen of India, become a Member of Parliament, and lead the biggest political party in the country, then Constitutionally speaking there should be no other bigger force to prevent her from making history – for the sake of the world.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
This Lou Dobbs is completely anti-India. Maybe the chinese have paid him off or something. Who knows ? But India does need some paid hacks in US media companies..

xposting post from Sam CS from BR..

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Tonight, there are new questions and mounting concerns about a huge deal that critics say could threaten our national security. The last piece of an American built undersea telecommunications network will be turned over to an Indian company within days, an India company that is paying millions for a multi- billion dollar network. That deal is causing concern because of the buyer's close ties to India's military.

Christine Romans is here tonight and has the report -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, this deal has barreled through the government review process with hardly any resistance. After cries that turning over this valuable communications system to a foreign company would leave no secure U.S. owned bandwidth, VSNL, the company, promised it will do nothing to hurt U.S. national security.

But tonight serious questions about how well this company keeps its promises.


ROMANS (voice-over): VSNL stands accused of breach of contract in a billion and a half dollar lawsuit from rival telecom company Polargrid. Polargrid wants to build an Arctic network, and it dropped out of the bidding for Tyco's undersea cable system when VSNL said it would partner with Polargrid on that Arctic network. Then VSNL won the bidding for Tyco Global Network, and Polargrid says it broke its promise.

JIM HICKMAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, POLARGRID: We would raise a serious question about how well they honor their promises. And certainly in the deal that is about to be completed, they've made very serious promises to the U.S. government about how they will act in the security area.

I believe that we need similar promises in the economic area. Even then, would he have to look seriously at whether or not they're a reliable partner and a trustworthy partner.

ROMANS: Yet the government has put this deal on the fast track. The Federal Communications Commission swiftly approved it. No resistance from the Treasury Department, defense, or homeland security.

Even though a group of U.S. senators, led by Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, worried the sale to VSNL would give, quote, "the Indian government control over a significant portion of the world's submarine cable network" and said that VSNL has acted, quote, "in a fashion demonstrably hostile to U.S. military and commercial interests."


ROMANS: Particular in the early 1990s, VSNL refused to allow another carrier access to a landing point at Diego Garcia, which houses a U.S. military base. Despite these concerns, the United States government believes that VSNL will not hurt American national security. VSNL has said it has no intention to monopolize that bandwidth. And in court filings, it denied Polargrid's breach of contract charges, Lou.

DOBBS: There is something on its face that is troubling. The United States government is resting the national interest on, quote unquote, "promises" from a foreign company that is paying literally less than $200 million for an investment of three point -- was it four billion dollars for this grid, with all of its implications for national security, its importance to national security communications. It's remarkable.

ROMANS: To a person, national security experts and telecom experts in this country say in 20 years the United States government will likely regret this.

DOBBS: Well, we still have a few days in which the U.S. government could change what seems to be the direction of its decision making. Christine, thanks. Christine Romans.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. The question is: do you think our economic and national security are at risk with the sale of the last piece of American built telecom infrastructure? Yes or no? Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
From AP..

Do they have a legislation that prohibits under age girls from getting laid (and pregnant) ? Why such bullcr@p about India then ? Reality is, hundreds of young girls get laid and pregnant and also end up abandoning their babies in dumpsters.. And there is no law that punishes her parents for getting laid and pregnant.


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Hundreds of Children Marry in India

RAJGARH, India (AP) -

Ignoring laws that ban child marriages, hundreds of children, some as young as seven years old, were married this week in a centuries-old custom across central and western India.

Held to coincide with "Akkha Teej," a summer festival believed to be auspicious for weddings, the marriages took place mostly in small towns and villages, where the laws have little effect and officials could do little more than record the names of the children being married.

Hundreds of children were married this week in Rajgarh, about 65 miles northwest of Bhopal, the capital of the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

"The law to stop child marriage is not powerful enough," Girija Mewada, a police constable posted at a Hindu temple in Rajgarh, said Wednesday, as she noted down the names of young couples who went to the temple for wedding blessings.

India law prohibits marriage for women younger than 18 and men under age 21, and parents who break the law - nearly all such marriages are arranged by parents - can be jailed for up to three months.

But while the practice is dying out among urban, educated people, child marriages remain common in rural areas. There, it is seen as being beneficial for both families: The bride's parents don't have to support her for very long, and the groom's family gains an unpaid servant, often treated as virtual slave, who usually brings a dowry.

The children remain in their parents' houses, though, until the girl reaches puberty, after which she is brought to the groom's home with great ceremony and the marriage is consummated.

On Wednesday, 11-year-old Soram Singh peeked shyly from behind her veil a couple of hours after her marriage to Bheeram Singh, 16, a student in the nearby government school. Singh is a common surname in the town, and the two are not related.

Dressed in a new blue-colored polyester sari and weighed down with heavy silver jewelry, Soram said she was angry with her parents for marrying her to Bheeram, whom she met for the first time that day.

Something of a tomboy, she loves playing tug-of-war and regularly picks fights with boys, whom she believes to be quarrelsome.

"I know what happens after marriage," she said angrily.

Her new husband, though, was defiant.

"I have got married, I haven't committed any crime," Bheeram said.

Police and social welfare department officials say they are helpless to prevent such marriages. India's Child Marriage Restraint law passed in 1978 tightened earlier legislation aimed at stopping child marriages, but does not empower police to make arrests without warrants or magistrates' orders.

It can also be dangerous to challenge such weddings, which are deeply rooted in many villages' traditions.

Earlier this week, a welfare officer underwent 18 hours of surgery to reattach her arms, which were hacked off by an angry father with whom she had argued. She had urged him not to marry off his young daughter to a teenage boy.

Political leaders in Madhya Pradesh say a sustained campaign is needed to persuade people to give up their age-old customs.

"Nobody should expect the evil of child marriage to be eradicated overnight or just by launching an awareness drive," said Archana Chitnis, state minister for women and child development. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Why is this nut going cute over this rascal ? What is the proof this freak is Indian ? Why not ask the pakis to accept this moron ? He can be a mullah's honey.. <!--emo&:angry:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/mad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='mad.gif' /><!--endemo-->


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Australia refuses to relent over detention of Indian asylum-seeker
By Kathy Marks in Sydney

13 May 2005

Peter Qasim turns 31 tomorrow, but it will not be an occasion for celebration. It will be the seventh birthday that the Kashmiri asylum-seeker has marked behind razor wire. Trapped in a nightmarish no man's land, he is the forgotten victim of Australia's refugee policy.

Mr Qasim has committed no crime and is no threat to society. But Australia will not release him from the prison where he spends his days gazing into space. India, meanwhile, refuses to acknowledge him as a citizen. And so he whiles away year after year behind bars. "I am like a dead body," he said yesterday, in the monotone that is his sole vocal expression.

Australia incarcerates all asylum-seekers, be they genuine refugees or desperate families seeking a brighter future. Adults are locked up alongside children. Mr Qasim, from the Indian-claimed region of Kashmir, has the dubious distinction of being the longest-serving detainee: six years, eight months so far, and counting.

Mr Qasim's father, a separatist activist, was murdered by Indian security forces when he was a small child. He himself was arrested and tortured at the age of 17: beaten with guns, batons and a belt. He spent several years in hiding, fled to Pakistan, then made his way to Australia via Singapore and Papua New Guinea.

He expected a compassionate reception when he arrived, aged 24. Instead, he has spent the precious years of his youth being shunted between five different detention centres, all grim prisons in remote parts of the country. Now home for him is Baxter, a forbidding compound in the South Australian desert.

During that period Mr Qasim's application for refugee status was rejected and he exhausted every avenue of appeal. In 2003 he gave up and offered to be repatriated. But India spurned him, claiming he had failed to verify his identity. Fifty other countries have declined to take him. He is, officially, stateless.

Now black clouds of depression have overtaken him. He is listless, withdrawn, sleeps late, communicates little. Speaking by telephone from Baxter, he said: "I have forgotten about hope. I have forgotten about the world outside. I am like a robot."

Recently a ray of hope appeared on the horizon, but it offered a false promise. The government, in a rare softening of its policy, announced that unsuccessful asylum-seekers would be released into the community until they could return home. But it appears that Mr Qasim will not be one of the beneficiaries.

A spokesman for the Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, said Mr Qasim was not eligible because he was "not co-operating with efforts to establish his identity". Officials had been unable to substantiate information provided about his background, he said.

India, meanwhile, says Mr Qasim has not produced documents or witnesses to back his claim to be from the village of Gopalla, in the Rajouri district of Kashmir. Unmoved by the fact that he has passed three language tests, it is refusing to give him a passport.

M C Singhania, a first secretary at the Indian High Commission in Canberra, said: "Unless there is someone who can vouch for him, we can't accept him as an Indian national." Mr Qasim's personal circumstances mean there is no paper trail linking him with India. Born in a poor rural area, he has no birth certificate. He did not attend a formal school. After being arrested, he went underground. He only had casual work. He has no family in India.

Australian officials visited his village and found no one who knew him. But refugee activists say the friends who helped him when he was in hiding would be unlikely to acknowledge his existence.

So Mr Qasim remains in Baxter, without hope, without a future, utterly institutionalised. He has problems with memory and concentration. "I realise I made a mistake in coming to Australia, but what can I do?" he said. "I don't really care now where I go. I don't know what is my fate. I don't know anything anymore. I feel nothing." <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Although not related to India, this is a good article on how 'NGOs' work and what 'freedom' means, what kind of institutes take part in these kinds of activities and how such actvities are profitable ventures..

KGoan posted this on BR..


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Reporters Without Borders Unmasked


When Robert Menard founded Reporters Without Borders twenty years ago, he gave his group a name which evokes another French organization respected worldwide for its humanitarian work and which maintains a strict neutrality in political conflicts ­ Doctors Without Borders. But RSF (French acronym) has been anything but nonpartisan and objective in its approach to Latin America and to Cuba in particular.

From the beginning, RSF has made Cuba its No. 1 target. Allegedly founded to advocate freedom of the press around the world and to help journalists under attack, the organization has called Cuba "the world's biggest prison for journalists." It even gives the country a lower ranking on its press freedom index than countries where journalists routinely have been killed, such as Colombia, Peru and Mexico. RSF has waged campaigns aimed at discouraging Europeans from vacationing in Cuba and the European Union from doing business there ­ its only campaigns worldwide intended to damage a country's economy.

The above is not a matter of chance because it turns out that RSF is on the payroll of the U.S. State Department and has close ties to Helms-Burton-funded Cuban exile groups.

As a majority of members of Congress work toward normalizing trade and travel with Cuba, the extremist anti-Castro groups that have dictated U.S. Cuba policy for 40 years continue working tirelessly to maintain an economic stranglehold on the island. Their support for RSF is part of this overall strategy.

Havana-based journalist Jean-Guy Allard wrote a book about RSF's leader (El expediente Robert Ménard: Por qué Reporteros sin Fronteras se ensaña con Cuba, Quebec: Lanctôt, 2005) which lays out the pieces of the puzzle regarding Menard's activities, associations and sources of funding in an attempt to explain what he calls Menard's "obsession" with Cuba. On April 27 this year the pieces began to come together: Thierry Meyssan, president of the Paris daily, Red Voltaire, published an article in which he claimed Menard had negotiated a contract with Otto Reich and the Center for a Free Cuba (CFC) in 2001. Reich was a trustee of the center, which receives the bulk of its funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The contract, according to Meyssan, was signed in 2002 around the time Reich was appointed Special Envoy to the Western Hemisphere for the Secretary of State. The initial payment for RSF's services was approximately 24,970 euros in 2002 ($25,000), which went up to 59,201 euros in 2003 ($50,000).

Lucie Morillon, RSF's Washington representative, confirmed in an interview on April 29 that they are indeed receiving payments from the Center for a Free Cuba, and that the contract with Reich requires them to inform Europeans about the repression against journalists in Cuba and to support the families of journalists in prison. Morillon also said they received $50,000 from the CFC in 2004 and that this amount was consistent from year to year. But she denied that the anti-Cuba declarations on radio and television, full-page ads in Parisian dailies, posters, leafletting at airports and an April 2003 occupation of the Cuban tourism office in Paris were aimed at discouraging tourism to the island.

RSF's emphasis on tourism is the key to understanding it's role. After the 1989 fall of the Soviet Union, Eastern bloc support for Cuba's economy soon came to a halt and what Cubans call the "special period" began. Almost all of Cuba's sugar harvest had been sold to the communist bloc throughout the Cold War era and in return the island imported two-thirds of its food supply, nearly all its oil and 80 percent of its machinery and spare parts from the same sources. Suddenly 85 percent of Cuba's foreign trade vanished. Deprived of petroleum, Cuban industries and transportation ground to a halt. For the first time in many years malnutrition on the island began to appear as rations were reduced to little more than rice and beans.

Washington saw the withdrawal of Soviet subsidies in 1989 and subsequent natural disasters that destroyed crops on the island as a chance to deal a deathblow to the Castro regime. The Miami extreme right, led by the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), began to draw up plans to work with sympathetic government agencies toward that end. "Nothing nor no one will make us falter. We do not wish it, but if blood has to flow, it will flow," wrote CANF chair Jorge Mas Canosa (Hernando Calvo Ospina, Bacardi: The Hidden War, London: Pluto Press, 2002).

But Cuba disappointed the plotters by surviving. A centerpiece of the island's economic recovery was the government's decision in 1992 to develop the tourism industry, which has gone a long way to replace the desperately needed foreign exchange the country had lost. Consequently, it came as no surprise that those wishing to see Cuba starve would want to damage its tourism-based economy through every conceivable form of sabotage. On the extreme end, Miami terrorists began to infiltrate the island to attack hotels and other tourist targets. Terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, who recently sought asylum in the U.S., organized a string of bombings of hotels in 1997 in which an Italian tourist died. Not only did Posada admit this to the New York Times in 1998, but he acknowledged that the leaders of CANF had bankrolled his operations and that Mas Canosa was personally in charge of overseeing the flow of funds and logistical support to carry out the operations. Terrorist Orlando Bosch is also suspected of playing a major role in these attacks.

Another project for bringing about the downfall of Cuba's revolution was the 1996 Helms-Burton Act. Title IV allows the U.S. to impose sanctions against foreign investors in Cuba whose investments allegedly involve properties expropriated from people who are now U.S. nationals. This law, which was intended to force foreign companies and countries to refrain from doing business with Cuba, was written by leaders of the CANF, Bacardi lawyers and Otto Reich. Helms-Burton also provided additional funding to support Cuban dissidents with the intent of destabilizing the government ­ an aspect of great interest to exile groups. Organizations outside Cuba would be in charge of these funds, and this has developed into a lucrative business for them. USAID alone has distributed more than $34 million in funds related to Cuba since 1996, including its support of Otto Reich's CFC.

In an interview with Colombian journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina (Calvo and Declercq, The Cuban Exile Movement, Melbourne: Ocean Press, 2000), Menard said his group had been supporting dissidents in Cuba since September 1995 and has always considered Cuba "the priority in Latin America." Coincidentally or not, the Helms-Burton Act was already making its way through Congress in January 1995. After Clinton signed the bill into law in 1996, he sent a special ambassador to Europe to meet with NGOs whose work involved Cuba to propose they support the dissident movement. RSF attended one such meeting in Paris in late 1996. RSF was also represented at a meeting called by Pax Christi Netherlands at the Hague to create a pressure group against the Cuban government and support the dissident movement, according to Calvo.

In September 1998 Menard traveled to Havana to recruit people to write stories for RSF to publish. He later told Calvo in his interview, "we give $50 a month each to around twenty journalists so they can survive and stay in the country." But Menard's first representative in Cuba, veteran journalist Nestor Baguer, disputed that description of the relationship in interviews he gave to Granma after he revealed that he had been working for state security while posing as a dissident. Baguer maintained that RSF would only pay for articles turned in, and that they had to attack the Cuban government. He did not consider most of the so-called independent journalists to be either independent or journalists; few had received any formal training and he was forced to severely edit their copy ­ something he called a "terrible penance."

Baguer recalled the first conversation he had with the RSF head in the back of a rental car: "What he wanted was for it to come straight from here. It seems before he was getting fed from Miami. But he wanted to have his Cuban source so it would be more credible." Noting the small amounts Cubans were paid for their articles, Baguer speculated Menard was doing a "great business" (Allard).

In May 2004 the State Department issued a report to the president by the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. The report recommends $41 million in funding to promote Cuban "civil society" and specifically targets Cuban tourism. In Chapter I, "Hastening Cuba's Transition," part V, headed, "Deny Revenues to the Castro Regime," there is a subheading, "Undermine Regime-sustaining Tourism," which says, "Support efforts by NGOs in selected third countries to highlight human rights abuses in Cuba, as part of a broader effort to discourage tourist travel. This could be modeled after past initiatives, especially those by European NGOs, to boycott tourism to countries where there were broad human rights concerns."

It does not take much to figure out which "European NGOs" have been boycotting tourism to Cuba. RSF is mentioned by name in the report in reference to its support for a jailed journalist whose writings it had published.

RSF's patron at the CFC, Otto Reich, has a long history as a U.S. hit-man in Latin America. This includes helping to spring Orlando Bosch from prison in Venezuela while Reich was U.S. ambassador to that country under President Bush Sr. Bosch was in prison for blowing up a Cuban civilian passenger airplane, killing 73. His accomplice, Luis Posada Carriles, had already bribed his way out in 1985 and was working for the CIA in El Salvador, supplying the Contras from the Ilopango air base. Otto Reich was a major figure in the Iran-Contra scandal. Under the current Bush administration, Reich helped coordinate repeated attempts to oust Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He was transferred to the NSC in November 2002, and while there he oversaw the February 2004 coup against Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide ­ an event in which RSF enthusiastically participated with a smear campaign against the Haitian leader.

Although Reporters without Borders' attacks on Castro, Chavez and Aristide are perfectly alligned with the State Department's policies, and though she admitted RSF was receiving money from Reich, Morillon denied that the governmant funding the group receives in any way affects its activities. She pointed out that RSF's $50,000 payments from the CFC and a January grant of $40,000 from the National Endowment for Democracy only constitute a fraction of the organization's budget. This is true, but Menard has other rich rightist friends in Europe and the U.S., including CFC director Manuel Cutillas, head of Bacardi. CFC's executive director is Frank Calzon, a former CIA special agent. Like Cutillas and others at the center, Calzon is a former director of CANF, and it has also been alleged he was a leader of the National Liberation Front of Cuba, which claimed credit for a host of bombings and murders worldwide beginning in 1972 (Hernando Calvo Ospina, Bacardi: The Hidden War, London: Pluto Press, 2002).

According to a January 20, 2004 article in El Nuevo Herald ("Reporters Without Borders Announces Campaign to Democratize Cuba"), Menard visited Miami that week and received a hero's welcome. He was lionized in the press and honored by exile leaders at a dinner at Casa Bacardi. He met with the Cuban Liberty Council (a split-off from the CANF), the editors of The Miami Herald and Mayor Manny Diaz. Menard was also a guest on a Radio Mambí program hosted by government-funded exile leader Nancy Pérez Crespo, director of Nueva Prensa, a website which posts articles phoned in by Cuban dissidents. In the media he announced that RSF would be holding a meeting on March 18 with European political leaders in Brussels, headquarters of the European Union, to promote democratization in Cuba.

"In Brussels we want to propose elementary measures which can be applied to Cuba as a country that violates human rights," Menard said. "Weren't the European bank accounts of terrorists frozen? Why can't that be done in the case of Cuba?" Menard was on a roll. He said the Brussels event would be just the beginning of new campaigns carried out by RSF in the European media to denounce repression in Cuba. Allard alleges Frank Calzon was also present at the meeting in Brussels, but the executive director refused to comment when he was reached by phone at the CFC.

So loyal is Robert Menard to his patrons at the State Department that he wrote an open letter to the European Commissioner for Development, Louis Michel, on the eve of the diplomat's visit to Cuba this March (www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=12411). The European Union had decided to adopt a more constructive position with respect to Cuba, suspending economic sanctions that were imposed in June 2003 at the urging of Bush ally, former Spanish President Jose Maria Asnar. The State Department's Richard Boucher condemned the decision to suspend sanctions on Cuba, as long as "objectives haven't been reached," and in his letter to Michel, Menard likewise urged the European Union to keep the pressure on Cuba.

In addition to its other sources of funding, RSF receives free publicity from Saatchi and Saatchi, the third pillar of the world's fourth-largest marketing and public relations conglomerate, Publicis Groupe. Publicis enjoys a near-monopoly on French advertising and as a result, slick RSF propaganda is featured at no cost to the organization in Parisian dailies and supermarkets. It also enjoys free printing of the books it sells by Vivendi Universal Publishing. All of these services have to be factored into RSF's budget. Although the reason for Publicis Groupe's astounding generosity is not known, it is worth noting that a major Publicis client is Bacardi, whose 2001 advertising budget was just under $50 million.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>Deccan Chronicle buys control of Asian Age</b>
MJ Akbar now history.
Supreme Court Rules in Ohio Prison Case

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->By LINDA GREENHOUSE
WASHINGTON, May 31 - The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Tuesday that a new federal law requiring prison officials to meet inmates' religious needs is a permissible accommodation of religion that does not violate the separation of church and state.

The court rejected arguments by Ohio officials that the law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, violated the Constitution by elevating religion above all other reasons a prisoner might seek special privileges. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Looks fairly innocent, one would say. But see:

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The state had said that by requiring prison officials to cater to the demands of adherents of Satanist or white-supremacist religions, the law would result in attracting new followers to these sects, to the detriment of prison security.

<b>The five Ohio inmates who brought the case belong to nonmainstream religions, including one, Asatru, that preaches that the white race needs to use violence and terrorism to prevail over the "mud races."</b><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>Verdicts on India</b>
By Ramachandra Guha
<i>In early 1967, The Times of London ran a series of articles on `India's Disintegrating Democracy'. In contrast to this gloominess was a more contemporary estimate, this time provided by The Guardian ... . A comparison. </i>
Verdicts on India

By Ramachandra Guha

In early 1967, The Times of London ran a series of articles on `India's Disintegrating Democracy'. In contrast to this gloominess was a more contemporary estimate, this time provided by The Guardian ... . A comparison.


DEEPLY PESSIMISTIC: It was predicted that with the problems then, the ordered structure of society would collapse ... . Here, Madras in 1967.

IN the first weeks of 1967, the Times of London carried a series of articles on "India's Disintegrating Democracy". Written by their Delhi correspondent, Neville Maxwell, these assessed the upcoming General Elections, the fourth held since Independence, and the first since Jawaharlal Nehru's death. The articles were deeply pessimistic about the prospect for democracy in India. As Maxwell wrote, "famine is threatening, the administration is strained and universally believed to be corrupt, the government and the governing party have lost public confidence and belief in themselves as well". These various crises had created an "emotional readiness for the rejection of Parliamentary democracy". The "politically sophisticated Indians" whom Maxwell spoke to expressed "a deep sense of defeat, an alarmed awareness that the future is not only dark but profoundly uncertain".

`Crisis is upon India'

Maxwell's own view was that "the crisis is upon India — he could spy `the already fraying fabric of the nation itself", with the states "already beginning to act like sub-nations". His conclusion was unequivocal: that while Indians would soon vote in "the fourth — and surely last — general election", "the great experiment of developing India within a democratic framework has failed".

The imminent collapse of democracy in India, thought Maxwell, would provoke a frantic search for "an alternative antidote for the society's troubles". Three options presented themselves. The first was represented by the Jan Sangh (forerunner of today's Bharatiya Janata Party). This would play the Hindu card but fail, since it was as corrupt and faction-ridden as the other parties, and because the South would reject its over-zealous promotion of the Hindi language. The second possibility was an army coup, but this too "seems out of the question in India" because of the complex federal system. To succeed, there would have to be 17 simultaneous coups in the States, as well as one in the centre.

`Army coup'

While a straightforward coup was unlikely, Maxwell thought that the army would nonetheless come to rule India through indirect means. As he predicted, "in India, as present trends continue, within the ever-closing vice of food and population, maintenance of an ordered structure of society is going to slip out of reach of an ordered structure of civil government and the army will be the only alternative source of authority and order. That it will be drawn into a civil role seems inevitable, the only doubt is how?"

Maxwell answered his query by suggesting that "a mounting tide of public disorder, fed perhaps by pockets of famine", would lead to calls for a strengthening of the office of the President. The Rashtrapathi would be asked to literally act as the Father of the Nation, "to assert a stabilizing authority over the centre and the country". Backing him would be the army, which would come to exercise "more and more civil authority". In this scenario, the President would become "either the actual source of political authority, or a figure-head for a group composed possibly of army officers and a few politicians ... ".

Reality today

Forty years down the road, we can perhaps say that Maxwell's predictions have been fulfilled in part, modest part. The BJP has been shown to be as corrupt and faction-ridden as (say) the Congress, the army has been called in more often to quell civil disorder, and the President is no longer a complete figure-head. Yet his (Maxwell's) extreme scepticism about parliamentary democracy, his announcement of its imminent demise, has turned out to be very mistaken indeed.

Rather than use the benefit of hindsight, let us contrast to Maxwell's gloominess a more upbeat contemporary estimate. This was provided by an anonymous correspondent of another British journal, The Guardian. His assessment of that election campaign of 1967 began by mentioning how "the Delhi correspondent of a British newspaper whose thundering misjudgments in foreign affairs have become a byword has expressed the view that Indian democracy is disintegrating". Then he added: "My own view after three weeks travelling round the country and talking to all and sundry, is that Indian democracy is now for the first time coming fully alive".

The Guardian man dissented from the patronising assumption that whereas democracy was deeply rooted in the West, "in India it is only a superficial plant". He pointed out that the "immemorial structure of Indian life was shaken to its foundations by the national movement". For "the Indian national leaders, especially Gandhi, saw that India needed to be emancipated not only from the British, but also from what was debilitating in her own tradition". Thus they turned to social reform and democracy, to forces of change that might effectively "challenge the forces of inertia".

India's problems remained huge, said the Guardian correspondent, and "not all of them have been tackled wisely or well. But all of them can best be tackled within the framework of a democratic system which is one of the supreme achievements of modern history and from which we [Britons] ourselves have quite a lot to learn".

Perhaps the praise in this last sentence is somewhat hyperbolic.

Still, corrupt and corroded as it might be, parliamentary democracy in India has so far outwitted (and outlasted) its numerous obituarists.

E-mail: ramguha@vsnl.com
Priyanka's world, now on gloss <!--emo&Rolleyes--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='rolleyes.gif' /><!--endemo-->
(Teesta's Commie Combo rag has competiton <!--emo&:lol:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/laugh.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='laugh.gif' /><!--endemo--> )
[ MONDAY, AUGUST 08, 2005 04:17:03 PM ]

NEW DELHI: Congress president Sonia Gandhi's daughter Priyanka may be fighting shy of active politics but her name has launched a magazine that calls itself a movement against communal forces.

Welcome to "The World of Priyanka" - an intimate and candid look at the younger of the two Gandhi siblings. The Hindi magazine is devoted only to her life and times and calls her a symbol of secularism and communal peace.

The little-known monthly, published by Abhilash Awasthi, who appears to be an unabashed fan, has already celebrated its first anniversary and plans to launch subscriptions soon.

Editor Awasthi launched the magazine in Mumbai on the eve of Priyanka's birthday last year.

"We needed a symbol of secularism to wage a fight against the forces of communalism," said Awasthi from Mumbai. "The production is a bit costly for us but we cannot put a price to our movement."

At the same time, he insists that he is not a Congress member - only a concerned journalist. Produced by a slim staff of 16 with "bureaus" and stringers all over the country, the magazine is apparently sold in select stalls in cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Patna and Gurgaon, for Rs 45 a piece.

Awasthi explains in an editorial why he picked the name - the Nehru-Gandhi family is the only one in the world in which one prime minister played on the lap of another.

This great family sacrificed so much for democracy and secularism. Priyanka is the youngest member of this family. The moment she steps into active politics matching steps with her mother and brother Rahul, she will destroy all communal forces."

Each month's cover has so far featured either Sonia, Rahul or Priyanka. The glossy gush-fest has page after page of photographs of the family in various events or at home and a liberal sprinkling of Congress leaders either praising the family or being praised.

It has published interesting facts. For instance, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly share, besides cricket, an admiration for Priyanka.

And that Priyanka has always thought that her grandmother and late prime minister Indira Gandhi loved her brother Rahul more. When it completed a year of publication in January, the magazine went into raptures over the mother-of-two who indeed bears an uncanny resemblance to her grandmother.

Candid shots of the brother-sister as babies, teenagers and young adults, many taken by their late father, prime minister Rajiv Gandhi (who was a photography enthusiast) also catch the eye as one riffles through reams of sycophantic prattle.

"We collected photographs from sources all over the country," said Awasthi proudly. In one of the articles, Congress MP Rajiv Shukla reveals one of his first impressions of the teenaged Priyanka being very politically aware.

Shukla says that in 1990 Rajiv Gandhi called him to ask whether Devi Lal had resigned as deputy prime minister, news that had not even got to journalists till then. When Shukla confirmed it and asked Rajiv Gandhi how he found out, the latter said Priyanka had learnt it from a friend.

"I asked Rajiv whether Priyanka was interested in politics," Shukla remembers. "He told me 'Yes, Priyanka is very interested in politics'." Are those words prophetic? Priyanka has kept everyone guessing whether she will follow her brother into active politics, but those seeking clues, keep reading "The World of Priyanka". <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->BBC begins study on `global Indians'
Our Bureau
"This is the first time that we are undertaking such a comprehensive survey. In other markets, we have done so in parts."
New Delhi , Aug. 9

INDIA is a key market for broadcasters and BBC World has commenced the new <b>`Global Indian' research to understand the internationally minded Indians who take an active interest in the happenings around the world. </b>

The first phase of the study that looks at understanding international news viewers has revealed that people take interest in the wider world for professional, social and intellectual reasons.

Speaking to Business Line, Mr Jeremy Nye, Head of Research and Planning, BBC World, said, "This is the first time that we are undertaking such a comprehensive survey. In other markets, we have done so in parts."

The first phase has indicated that Indians look for international information to widen their horizons - keep abreast of the latest happenings, for work-related developments as well as for personal reasons. They feel that this helps in decision making and keeps one prepared for the changing scenario.

For instance, changes in the international stock markets influence the domestic stock market.

Along with this, it is perceived that international news channels have an edge over domestic channels for their authentic, in-depth coverage as well as providing an international perspective.

Ms Dezma de Melo, Senior Research Manager - India, BBC World (India), said that the first phase was conducted through qualitative interviews conducted across six cities focused primarily on developing detailed profiles.

The second phase is to be conducted by AC Nielsen and will try to quantify the population of Global Indians and also try to understand their media and consumption patterns.

The third phase will profile the international business traveller - an unexplored affluent sub-group.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Create another brand of pinkoo radio jingoos and divide Indians world wide. Excellent plan and in small scale its working, when we see roy, chatterji and idiots from Lasing and Maryland are running free after telling lies on daily basis
Reaction from other group on above biased reporting by HT link -
via email
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Notice in this article very respectful tone no politicising or subtle bias as in Hindustan times article where Lalit k.Jha writer alluded to 'rightest' Hindu groups.i rung him and really castigated him and told him that we would have campaign against paper.He stated that if they got enough complaints then head bureau in Delhi might consider retraction of political bias and tender apology.<b>Jha also tried to quip and retorted ;hindus are right ,aren;t they?</b> in response to my demand to know why he used this perjorative term rightest? I told him not to take the restive Hindu community as passive bystanders to assault and insult and that <b>we insist on retraction which he refused saying rightest was open to interpretation </b>which i countered that the media propaganda machinery had cemented word permanently to negative and dishonest aggressive references such as saffronization and communal and fundamentlaist acting as hate machinery against hindus.He stated that persons had been contacting him his number at 701 330 2252 and he was directing them to the Hindustan times website to lodge protest complaint.i suggest that we straighten this out right now and direct everyone to website to express disgust and anguish that this newspaper could take a tragedy of an Indian hero such as Akhil's murder and be so contemptous and sully and dishonor his hallowed name by labelling hinm indirectly as a rightest.This is offensive adn should not be toleratedEveryone must lodge strong protest and they will be foreced ot retract and issue open apology.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Below is a message that Dr. Morales sent to ABC News regarding a news piece that appeared Monday, January 10, 2005 on World News Tonight. In it, the reporter, Dan Harris, attempted to report on the effects that the recent tsunami disaster is having on people's faith. While his reports on Islam and Christianity were fair and sympathetic, he decided to lump Hinduism and Buddhism together and create a stereotyped and derogatory image of both religions. It was especially full of inaccuracies about Hinduism, which Dr. Morales comments upon below.


Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005 00:15:35 -0600

To: NETAUDR@abc.com

From: "Dr. Frank Gaetano Morales"


Dear News Director,

On Monday evening, January 10, 2005, ABC News presented a piece on World News Tonight by Mr. Dan Harris purporting to discuss the question of religious faith in the face of the tragic tsunami in South Asia that has recently taken over 165,000 lives.

While I am sure that ABC News had the best of intentions in reporting on the nature of religious faith in the wake of this tragic event, as an academician in the field of Philosophy of Religion and Hindu Studies, as well as a practicing Hindu, I was highly dismayed by how Mr. Harris chose to portray the theological teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism.

As Mr. Harris correctly reports, the four faiths that were most affected by the tsunami were Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. In reporting on the religious response to the tsumani, however, Mr. Harris makes the mistake of unthinkingly lumping Hinduism and Buddhism into the same category, and reporting upon these two distinct faiths as if they were one. Islam and Christianity, on the other hand, were given the due respect of being reported upon independently.

Though certainly originating in the same geographic area, Hinduism and Buddhism are radically different religions, with very different philosophies, concepts of the Absolute, and approaches to the question of human suffering – a fact that almost any scholar of South Asian religion, or even a common follower of either religion, could have easily confirmed.

While respected religious leaders who actually represent their respective communities are quoted in explaining the Islamic and Christian perspectives, a professor (Dr. Robert Thurman) is used as the "spokesperson" of both Hinduism and Buddhism. Thus actual religious leaders representing these two important world religions were denied the opportunity of explaining their respective faiths from an insider perspective.

Mr. Harris makes several assertions about the beliefs of Hinduism and Buddhism that simply are not factual and that are highly prejudiced in nature. First, Mr. Harris makes the unfounded proclamation that neither religion believes in the concept of one almighty God. While this is arguably true of Buddhism (which is atheistic by self-definition), Hinduism is recognized as a religion that is predicated on the belief in one, omnicompetent divine Being – i.e., God.

Further, Mr. Harris makes the stereotypically derogatory and untrue statement that the concept of karma is based upon a type of "cold logic." To say that this is a simplistic and uninformed description of a highly complex philosophical concept would be putting it quite lightly.

Rather than presenting inaccurate and prejudiced caricatures of Hindu and Buddhist religious principles, Mr. Harris would have done his audience a much better service had he actually spoken to authentic Hindu and Buddhist leaders, and done his research into these two ancient and venerable religions a bit better. Hindus and Buddhists, after all, watch the evening news too. Thank you for your time and your consideration of this letter.

Best Regards,

Dr. Frank Gaetano Morales, Ph.D.
<b>SC asks govt: Adult tag for newspapers</b>?<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->New Delhi, August 18: Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre, Press Council of India, the news agencies and major dailies on a PIL seeking classification of newspapers on the basis of their content to denote whether they were fit to be read universally or by adults only.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Responsible move by SC, <!--emo&:cool--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/specool.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='specool.gif' /><!--endemo--> finally people are filing against these scums.
came via email
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Dear friends,

As you know one of the biggest problems today is that Indian
journalists are not always proud of their own culture and roots and
as result tend to have a very negative outlook on India, which in
turn influences western correspondents posted in India.

It is therefore very important that we train a new generation of
Indian journalists. It is for this purpose that we started a new
school of journalism in Bangalore called the Sri Sri Center
for Media studies.

There, we teach the best of journalistic knowledge, both print and
electronic, along with classes (which I take myself) on Indian
history, the ideal of true journalism and a little bit coaching in
pranayama and meditation these two ancient Indian sciences which
impart a good and intuitive mind.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of competition both within India
as well as Bangalore, and schools such as the Asian school of
journalism, sponsored by the newspaper the Hindu and the BBC, which
form journalists in the old secular/Marxist mould, have much more
students and funds than we do.

Now what we need is students and this is where you can help. For
Indians residing in India, I must emphasize that a journalistic
career is very rewarding not only in view that you get to travel
a lot, meet interesting people, but also that it is one of the
highest seva you can do for India, as journalists today are the
most important people in the world - even the politicians are afraid
of them !

It is time that all of you Indian parents start thinking about
other careers for your children than doctors or software
engineers ! For NRI¹s, we see today that foreign correspondents
based in India are often very hostile to our ideals.

If you could send some of your children, whether they are first,
second or third generation South Africans/Americans/British/ Fijians
etc, to our school, we would coach them and when they go back to
their country of residence, they can enter mainstream newspapers
and after acquiring home experience, they could ask to be posted
to India, having a natural advantage by being of an Indian origin
and hopefully speaking Indian languages.

In a few years time, the entire India coverage abroad could
see a very important shift. At the moment we only offer a
one year post graduation course, but eventually we will have a
three years complete graduate course. Next session is end of
September and we need 35 students to break even and not lose
money as we have done the last three years.

The course fees are one hundred thousand rupees and we will make sure
your children get an internship (or even a job for those who wish) in
mainstream Indian newspapers/TV channels.

For further information You can go on the Website:
http://www.sscms.org/, email me at fgautierATsify.com, or contact the
executive director of SSCMS, Mr radhakrishnan, at sscms@dishnet.in


François Gautier
Correspodendent South Asia Marianne
Manipur rebel challenges India to practice democracy - Reuters

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->By John Ruwitch

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The leader of a rebel group in India's northeast challenged the world's biggest democracy to live up to its name and let the people of the troubled state of Manipur choose for themselves if they want independence.

Sanayaima, chairman of the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), said there was no room for peace talks with New Delhi without U.N. mediation, nor any middle ground short of a plebiscite on the restoration of Manipur's "sovereignty."

The UNLF was established in 1964 and has been waging an armed struggle since 1990 for independence for nearly two million people in the lush valleys and forested hills of Manipur on India's far eastern border with Myanmar.

"Whether we remain with India or whether we become a sovereign, independent nation: let the people decide," Sanayaima told Reuters in his first ever interview with foreign media.

"I think if India is the largest democracy in the world then they should accept the challenge."

<b>The softly spoken underground leader, sporting a goatee and glasses, was speaking on a trip to Hong Kong shrouded in secrecy. Refusing to say how he left Manipur or where he was going next, he requested this story be issued only after he left the city.</b>

"If necessary, we will continue our struggle for another hundred years because it is the very fundamental right that we are fighting for, the national right that we are fighting for, so we cannot afford to get tired," he said.

Sanayaima, who turns 58 next week, said he decided to speak out "to reach out to the outside world, so that this Indian occupation is put to an end."

India's Home (interior) Ministry spokesman was not immediately available to comment on Sanayaima's remarks.

<b>India has stationed around 50,000 soldiers in Manipur, but there is widespread popular resentment against the military's powers to arrest and kill suspects.</b>

The rebel leader said his force would be prepared to lay down arms if the Indian government agreed to a U.N.-monitored plebiscite in Manipur, withdraw its armed forces and allow U.N. peacekeepers into the former princely state.

"For us, without the involvement of any third party, particularly the  United Nations, the peace process cannot be trustworthy," said Sanayaima, who only uses one name.


Late last year the Indian army launched a major operation in Manipur, and said it had inflicted heavy losses on both the UNLF and other rebel groups there. But Sanayaima insisted the UNLF, which he said had around 2,000 armed cadres, was not on the run.

"We are not fighting pitched battles against the <b>invading </b>Indian forces, but that doesn't mean we are running away. If at all we are running away then they should be able to come to our base headquarters. So far they haven't done that," he said.

He said New Delhi had yet to respond to his proposal for a plebiscite, first made in January. Nor has the UNLF responded to the Indian government's overtures for talks, he said.

"The Indian government sent some feelers for talks. So far we have not responded," he said. "The peace talks that the government of India has had with other groups in the region have not produced any satisfactory resolution of the conflicts."

<b>Manipur is one of seven states in India's northeast, home to more than 200 tribes. The remote area, ringed by China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan, has been racked by separatist insurgencies since India gained independence from Britain in 1947. </b>

Sanayaima said India was likely to try another offensive in the coming dry season, in a conflict which has cost more than 10,000 lives.

"There is no middle point where we can meet with India because we were a sovereign independent country before India annexed Manipur in 1949 and we just want to regain that sovereign independence," he said.

"After that we can become a good and friendly country with India. And ... we have many things to learn from India."

<b>Manipuris boast of two thousand years of history as an independent Hindu kingdom until the Maharaja agreed, allegedly under duress, to the state's accession to India in 1949</b>. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)