Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Unrestrained Killing in Iraq

The US war effort in Iraq is undermined by the very savagery of its sometimes unrestrained killing. Of course, in a war zone the forces are at liberty to shoot and shoot to kill if need be, but it appears that gratuitous acts of great violence are being carried out without any tactical advantage or objective.
On July 12, 2007 an employees of Reuters, Baghdad,Namir Noor-Eldeem who was all of 22 years old was killed by a deadly burst of 30 millimetre M230 chain guns mounted on AH-64D Apache helicopters which have become the backbone of the US military for decades now. Sometimes called the Black Hawk because of its predatory shilloutte this war machine is etched in American consciousness due to another unfortunate incident in Somalia several years back. Namir Noor and his colleague were killed on the spot even though both of them were neither terrorists nor were they armed. In fact both men took extreme precaution not to send wrong signals as the site of their killing has witnessed sectarian strife. What is shocking is that the US military did not even acknowledge that such an act had taken place and tried to cover up for the error in judgement. It is not any one's case that the pilots were seeking out innocent targets and were getting their kicks by killing innocents. We are saying that the US military in its field operations has given far too much leeway to its soldiers and all damage justified under the label "collateral damage".
This incident would have been forgotten but for a happenstance. The video footage of this particular attack was loaded on to a little known site called Wiki leaks. It is obvious that someone from within the US military establishment has had the courage to leak the footage either to embarrass the military or to assuage the conscience. Either way the damaging video soon became one of the most watched videos even on you-tube where it is presently hosted.
The video has to be watched for one to understand the absolute cold bloodiness of the soldiers in the helicopter. The gunmen in the helicopter open fire on the Small group of unarmed men and kill all of them. Not content at this massacre they wait for the relief van to pull up and in the video one hears a voice with a mid-western accent: Come on, let us shoot.
When the US military was done with its deed 8 men and children lay dead and not one was armed or even remotely associated with insurgency.
This is only to bring home the horror of what is unfolding in Iraq.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tharoor, Tweets and Twats: A Long Day's Journey into Night

I remember Sashi Tharoor as a student in Delhi University sitting in the CH (Coffee House for the uninitiated) with Swapan Das Gupta and Chandan Mitra and a bevy of girls from Miranda House. I still remember Tharoor with long side burns a kurta and faded blue jeans with an air of total nonchalance about him. I went on to earn a Ph D in History from a good State University in the US and Sashi Tahroor went to Fletcher School of Diplomacy to earn his. The Ph D dissertation was published by Vikas under the title Reasons of State and till this day remains the only full length study of the process of Indian foreign policy decision making. I hold no brief for Congressmen and their brand of dynastic fascism and yet I will say that I find it impossible to believe that Sashi Tharoor has used his position to make money. We have the like of Laloo Prasad Yadava and Papu Yadava, crimianls to the core,being included in the India political spectrum and Tharoor certainly is not cut from the same cloth.
Tharoor broke a few rules of the political game. First, unlike N D Tiwari, Tharoor flaunted his penchant for pretty women. When that Bharka woman from NDTV was inteviewing Tharoor on NDTV a few days back, I thought that Dutt would just sidle up to Tahroor. Such is the force he exudes. We have chief minister of one southern state with more wives than he even cares to remember and his children from different women are fighting for his political legacy even as the old man like King Lear is still technically alive and kicking. No one says anything. The First Prime Minister, Jawarhar Lal Nehru accepted the Partition of India as suggested by Mountbatten because Lady Mountbatten was his lover and we keep that singular fact under the carpet. Tahroor openly associated with a PRETTY WOMAN AND THAT was his first major mistake. He took her to official parties and made it clear to all that she was his love interest. Indians being a hypocritical people do not appreciate an honest relationship. Had Taroor kept Sunanda Pushkar (the pun is unintended) no one would have objected. But he was honest and that was his undoing.
SaSHI Tharoor is a serial offender as far as women are concerned and that is a personality disorder not a crime. The Tiger Woods syndrome affects even successful writers. Tharoor is the author of an outstanding novel, The Great Indian Novel and is still regarded as an outstanding piece of post-colonial literature. His short stories collected in Five Dollar Smile and essays in Book less in Baghdad are well written.
The first rule of Indian politics is that keep your twats under wraps and do not flaunt them. Tharoor paid no heed to that. The second rule of Indian politics is bow and scrape and do not ask questions. Tharoor was tweeting away even on extremely sensitive issues. I have a blog in this site on his "cattle class" remark. I think that the Indian Media too does not know how to deal with a highly educated and accomplished man and was complicit in undermining Tharror.
The most important mistake that Tharoor made was to associate with low brow convicts like the IPL commissioner, Lalith Modi. This convicted drug dealer is not from the same class or status group of Tharoor and Sashi must not have been seen associating with such muck. And he will pay for that.

Sashi Tharoor fell for a woman who for all her looks and glamour did finally show some character. When the sweat equity of 70 crores became an issue she did surrender the equity hoping therby to pull her beau out of the crisis. Sunanda Pushkar husband Menon committed suicide in New Delhi two years back according to the latest Outlook and now see the mess Tharoor has landed in. The moral of the story: Keep your twats strictly out of public glare and scrutiny.

Friday, April 9, 2010

It was such a pleasure meeting this poet

Obviously I cannot name him But recently I got the opportunity of a lifetime to meet a poet lyricist and screen play writer as the Universit or which I work decided to ive him an honorary doctorate. I think that theUniversiy honoured itself by giving this outstanding poet a degree honoris causa.

The speech that he gave after acceptiong the award was both generous in the sentiments expressed and inspiring to a large number of faculty and students who had attended the Convocation.
One thing that this great poet said struck me. On the road from Chennai Airport we got talking and he said that we in India can never relate to each other as "equals". We understand only two tyes of relationships one of "master" the other of "servant". As a nation it seems we have not learnt treat people as equals.
The large crowd that ad gathered to get his autograph shows that the tounger generation does take its cultural icons seriously. As for me I emerged richer for the experience and meeting this poet marked the high point of my long association with the University where I teach.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dr Srinivas Siras and the Alighar Muslim University

The suicide or murder of Dr Srinivas Siras, a Reader in Marathi at Alighar Muslim University, shows how intolerant and fascist the higher university system has become. Suspending a teacher on the basis of avideo probaly shot with the connivance of the AMU Administration particularly the Proctor's office shows very clearly the Dr Siras was targetted by the Administration. The Deli High Court has already decriminalised homosextuality and therefore there is nothing illegal or contrary to law to have consensual sex with a person of the same gender. In any event the fact that Dr Siras has a defferent sexual orientation is no reason for placing him under suspension. The University must form a high level inquiry to find out who had participated in the sting operation and whether the Local Intelligence Unit of the Vice Chancellor had any hand in it. It is so shocking that a man can be driven to his death is a so-called University by goons who have a free run of central universities all across the land. I am myself familiar with the criminal deed of A Gnanam and his Registrar S G Bhat when the former waas the VC of Pondicherry University and the later the Registrar. In fact the man even forged his daughter's attendence certificate and got her enrolled in the Dentist Council of India. The MInistry of Human Resources Development cannot plead ignorance because I myself sent the documents to the Visitor.
Kapil Sibal came to my University the other day and delivered a splendid convocation address. Though I have little patience for congressmen, I must admid that Kapil Sibal's address was both scholarly and inspiring. I wish he takes time off to see the horrible service conditions of teacher's in Central Universities. Unlike bureaucrats, teachers do not have a CAT and have to approach the civil courts and hence the Universities convert all disputes and grievances into disciplinary cases by misusing the so called autonomy. The murder/suicide of Sr Siras proves my point.
I am shocked at the incident and I pray that his soul finds eternal peace.