Vanakkam, Ms Harris

The United States of America, the world’s most powerful nation, goes to the polls in November 2020. Naturally speculations run high- despite the Covid 19 or Wuhan Virus pandemic that is raging around the world- whether the Democrats can wrest power from the sitting President. In 2016, Donald Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton to win the Presidency for the Republicans. Going by his recent speeches, he seems confident of being re-elected later this year. Continue reading “Vanakkam, Ms Harris”

Is The Left Getting Left Out?

When I was in school, we would frequently ask , ” Did you make the football team?” and the reply used to be, “I was left out”! from all those who didn’t. They of course punned  on the common usage those days for the outside-left position amongst the attackers.

In those days, in the ’60s, and for the next few decades the Cold War raged.  The entire world was pretty much split into two blocs : the West  (primarily the US, UK, France) and those who supported their versions of democracy,  and the Communist bloc ( principally the erstwhile USSR with its satellite countries, North Viet Nam, and China). Continue reading “Is The Left Getting Left Out?”

Remembering Field Marshal Manekshaw

A couple of days ago we remembered a true hero, Sam Bahadur on his death anniversary. On June 27, 2008 , Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw passed away, aged 94 in Coonoor in the beautiful Nilgiri Hills. He had settled there on retirement from the Indian Army, close to the military cantonment of Wellington.

Sadly, when India’s first Field Marshal and perhaps greatest soldier passed away, neither the President of India, the Prime Minister or even the Defence Minister A K Antony  attended his funeral . Every one had some excuse or the other. Continue reading “Remembering Field Marshal Manekshaw”

Credibility Is The Name Of The Game

What credibility does Mr Rahul Gandhi, a leading light of the Indian National Congress (INC) and scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family have? At 50, the “youth icon” has never been a Minister in a State or Union Cabinet. But he is a law unto himself! All his power stems from who he is by virtue of his birth. That he ( born in 1970) publicly tore up an ordinance, in 2013 shaming the Congress-led Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ( born in 1932) speaks for itself. Continue reading “Credibility Is The Name Of The Game”

“Looking At Life” My Days At School

Speaking of my school days, you will find a number of posts of my life as a school boy in my old blog, “Looking At Life”. I don’t use that much anymore, having consolidated all my writing and blogging work in this website/blog.

A few recent events flooded my mind with many memories of my days at School.  For us ” School” meant The Lawrence School, Lovedale, where I studied from 1959 to 1967.

The first was the recent passing away of Mr N S Selvapackiam. The second was the return to Facebook of Mr V M Mohanraj. The third was, in these days of Covid19 and Lockdown, the creation of an on-line Virtual School Assembly by some enthusiastic Old Lawrencians like Kartik Raghava Murty and Gul PanagContinue reading ““Looking At Life” My Days At School”

How Kashmiri Pandits Lost Their Azaadi

These days it has become fashionable for protestors in campuses like JNU, Aligarh Muslim University etc India to complain they want  Azaadi or freedom from the Citizenship Amendment Act,(CAA), the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP)  which has a legally elected overwhelming majority in the Centre, etc etc.

The slogan of “Azaadi” came  came into prominence at JNU  in 2016 when it was raised by Kanhaiya Kumar , the then president of the JNU Students Union. (  You may recall that he later stood for the elections for the Lok Sabha from Begusarai supported by the CPI and lost badly, but that is not the subject of this post). In 2019, azaadi as a slogan again came up in different campuses in India. However, many of the youth who are asking for Azaadi may not know the story of the Kashmiri Pandits where an entire community of people literally lost their Azaadi overnight on the night of January 19, 1990Not 100s or 1000s but 100,000s of them fled their ancestral home leaving behind everything tormented by Islamist groups like the JKLF.

Today, 30 years have passed since that fateful night and the saddest part is that not one criminal has been punished. Not a single one. Actually, the problems faced by the Kashmiri Pandits goes back in time. According to reliable reports the problems in the Indian border State of Jammu & Kashmir ( now made an Union Territory) started when elections were rigged in 1987 reportedly by the Congress Government in the Centre headed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, supported by Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference in the State. This alienated a lot of local Muslim population who supported the more militant Muslim United Front (MUF). They felt the local Kashmiri Pandits, who were Hindus unlike them, represented the Indian State. and accordingly could be soft targets.

In September 1989, a lawyer Tika Lal Taploo was the first Kashmiri Pandit to be openly killed. His killers were never punished and this emboldened the terrorists. They got so bold as to kill serving Indian Air Force officer Sqd Ldr Ravi Khanna and three other IAF personnel. Still they remained unpunished. How can one forget the 1990 murder of Kashmiri Pandit, Girija Tikkoo, who was just a Lab Asst in Jammu?

With these ” victories” behind them, they were ready for the ultimate goal, to push the Kashmiri Pandits out of their homeland. The hapless Pandits were infamously given three choices, “Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive” which means ” either Convert to Islam, Leave the Land, or Die!”  These slogans were blared out of loudspeakers from mosques in the Kashmir Valley. Never in the history of Post Independence India had such a blatant aggression against one community taken place without any provocation.

Even thirty years later, the Kashmiri Pandits find themselves as refugees in their own country. Their tales of sorrow have been documented and need no repetition. Everyone has heard their stories though successive Governments have done little for them. We do hope , however that now that Article 370 has been repealed, the way forward may emerge. How the Kashmiri Pandit saga will end remains to be seen. Only time will tell if they ever go back to their homeland!!

The greatest irony, to my mind, is that political parties like the Congress and the Communist parties in India oppose the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act as they claim it discriminates against Muslims. They don’t spare a thought, ( they haven’t in for the last thirty years, in any case) for the Hindu Kashmiri Pandits, who are refugees in their own country! It’s all very well for students in the exuberance of youth to ask for ” Azaadi” but their story is nothing compared to the sufferings of the Kashmiri Pandits who have truly lost their Azaadi!!

 

An Incredible Cricket World Cup Final

Truly, the finals of the Men’s Cricket World Cup, 2019 played at the hallowed Lord’s two weeks ago was incredible!! England faced New Zealand and the game was far more thrilling than anyone would have imagined. I am not sure if World Cup finals have ever ended as a tie since the Championship started in 1975. I  rather think not.

New Zealand batted first on winning the toss and scored 241 for 8 in their 50 overs. Not a great score, one thought, but a fighting one considering they had successfully defended an even lower score to beat India in the semi-finals. This had brought India’s dreams of winning the World Cup to a crashing halt.

In reply, England looked set to win quite easily. They needed 15 runs from the last over with two wickets in hand. Ben Stokes was batting like a champion. At a crucial juncture, by a stroke of luck, an umpiring error in the eyes of many by Kumar Dharmasena awarded England more runs than they deserved. Then, to everyone’s amazement, England barely managed to tie the game. Both teams had scored 241. The rules provided for the Super Over.

This is where things got crazy for fans all over the world. While millions watched every ball bowled with bated breath, most unexpectedly  the Super Over too ended in a tie. England scored 15/0 and New Zealand 15/1. Much to the displeasure of many, including me, the match and the championship was awarded to England because they had scored more boundaries than New Zealand in the course of the match!! Yes, this may have been in the rules but this rule needs to be changed!

When better run rate is considered for pushing up a team when more than one team has the same number of points, why should boundaries scored be considered, that too with so much at stake?? New Zealand, you might recall, had qualified to the semi-finals in the first place because they had a better run rate than Pakistan who had the same number of points.

It was an incredible match but left fans perplexed on many counts. I, for one, feel that in the 2019 World Cup finals both the teams should have been declared winners.

India’s World Cup Dreams Crash

New Zealand’s opening bowler Matt Henry knew exactly what he had to do. He had to bowl according to their plan. India’s opening batsman Lokesh Rahul, unfortunately for India, did not know what to do. India had already lost their best batsmen Rohit Sharma at 4, and captain Virat Kohli at 5. Between deciding whether to step out and drive the ball, go back and defend it or simply leave it alone, Rahul dangled his bat outside his off stump. There was a faint nick which wicket keeper Latham grabbed with glee and India at 5 for the loss of 3 wickets faced almost certain defeat in the first semi-finals of the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Continue reading “India’s World Cup Dreams Crash”

“Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkaar!” Resounding Victory for Prime Minister Modi

The General Elections in India which seemed at times to be going on forever are finally over. The elections to select members  for the Lower House of Parliament or Lok Sabha were held over 7 phases spread over 39 days from April 11 to May 19. Counting day was on May 23. Thanks to the electronic media, we got virtually a ball by ball account of the results as they came in, as we would in a T20 match in the IPL. The bottom line: a resounding victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP.)

Quite contrary to the expectations of people who thought these elections would be a close finish, the BJP romped home with  a runaway victory. The numbers speak for themselves. Out of the 542 Lok Sabha seats, 303 went to the BJP alone. With his  allies in the National Democratic Alliance ( NDA, ) Prime Minister Modi got as many as 65 % of the Lok Sabha seats 353/542.  The Congress under Rahul Gandhi could win only 52 seats. An improvement of 8 over the 44 they got in the last General elections in 2014. Their alliance the UPA got just 92 seats. Such was the magnitude of the defeat.

BJP’s election slogan of “Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkaar” had come true and how!! Continue reading ““Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkaar!” Resounding Victory for Prime Minister Modi”

Freedom Of Speech

The General Elections are on in India and in the heat of political campaigning, leaders of political parties sometimes get  carried away and say things they ought not to. Yes, we do have the freedom of speech and expression but that does not give an individual an unfettered right to say whatever comes to his mind, more so if it is detrimental to his political opponents .

I am reminded of our lecturer, Mr Clarence Motha who taught us Political Science. He used to tell every batch the same story every year : ” I have the right and freedom to swing my umbrella as I walk,” he would say, ” but that right  and freedom ends where the finely chiseled nose of my young friend here begins!! ”

In the space of the last few weeks, in my view, the Congress President Rahul Gandhi no less, has been guilty of breaking the law with regard to the freedom of speech. He recently implicated the Supreme Court when he suggested that they too supported his political campaign  and endorsed his “Chowkidar Chor Hai” line of attack against Prime Minister Modi. Only a few days ago the highest court of the land was not satisfied with the regret expressed by Mr Gandhi and asked his lawyer to file another affidavit with a proper apology.

If that were not enough, Mr Gandhi in a political rally in Jabalpur, used the expression, “Murder Accused” against Mr  Amit Shah, the President of the Bharatiya Janata Party several times in his speech.  It is no surprise that a defamation suit has been filed against him in an Ahmedabad court as facts indicate that Mr Shah, was acquitted in 2015.

Politicians are guilty of gross exaggeration in their speeches. I was shocked to hear Mr Rahul Gandhi claim that Mahatma Gandhi ( no relation to him whatsoever) had  been in solitary confinement for 15 years during the Freedom Movement. This is untrue. The details of Gandhiji’s imprisonments, first in South Africa and later in India are listed in this comprehensive website about him.  Also, it is widely accepted that unlike the common political prisoner, the British treated Gandhi and Nehru with kid gloves. They were typically kept under arrest in reasonable comfort and not thrown into some dingy cell and made to do hard labour like the convicts depicted in the old Hindi movies.  The Mahatma, for example, was interned in the Aga Khan Palace in Pune in 1942.

In another case, the Savarkar family have filed a case against Mr Rahul Gandhi for casting aspersions on the character of Veer Savarkar, a freedom fighter, while glorifying Gandhi and Nehru.

Mr Gandhi is not the only politician  guilty of this. Mr Arvind Kejriwal, the IIT educated Chief Minister of Delhi was sued in a criminal defamation case for the remarks made by him against the country’s Finance Minister  Mr Arun Jaitley. In that case, he was compelled to render an apology in the Court which was accepted by the complainant.

I believe there has to a salutary punishment for defamation. If the accused is allowed to get away with a written apology, as happened in the case of Delhi Chief Minister following his remarks against Finance Minister Jaitley, what is the deterrent to prevent him from doing such a thing again?

In a recent case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court fined singer and composer Vishal Dadlani and political activist Tehseen Poonawalla, Rs 10 lakhs each for hurting the religious sentiments of a Jain monk Tarunji Sagar through their tweets.

Now, that is a deterrent. I am sure they will be more careful when they tweet next time!