Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Srinagar, the “SMART” Prison!

(Instead of making Srinagar, the city of the Sun into a “Smart” city, it has been turned into a virtual prison!)
Srinagar, the “SMART” Prison!

Sometime back there was talk of declaring some cities all over the country as “Smart” cities for proper development on modern lines. Srinagar was also included in the list of these cities. Incidentally, Srinagar, the City of the Sun is probably one of the oldest cities in the world. The 2000 year old city is something one should have been proud of. Only few decades back Srinagar used to be the capital of “Paradise on Earth” but not now. Description of Srinagar especially its gardens, popular avenues, chinars, the Bund walkway, and the shimmering waters of Dal Lake given in some of the earlier travelogues seems like a dream. A dream now gone sour! It was not a proud moment for a Kashmiri when his capital city, probably one of the oldest in the world was rated as the 4th dirtiest city in India sometime back. Anybody visiting Srinagar at present would definitely ask what is “Smart” about the city.
Dilapidated roads, worst traffic jams, foot paths usurped by vendors, garbage scattered everywhere and mad constructions going at break-neck speed everywhere! The people responsible for orderly development, the Srinagar Development Authority have their office building in the flood basin of the River Jhelum. So, how can they stop constructions going on all over without observation of land use, building bye-laws and so on? The worst ever flood in a century in 2014 instead of teaching any lessons to the people and the rulers have instead made them go haywire in every respect. They say there is a “price” for every violation! How a city can be smart if the people responsible for its upkeep are keener on saving dogs than human beings?
If one wants to write about everything that is wrong in Srinagar from the development side, it will take half a dozen articles. No doubt the city has grown immensely from a population of a couple of hundred thousand people in 1947 to more than a million and a half now but the growth has been haphazard eating away all the open and free areas with trees which were supposed to be the lungs of the city! The water bodies have turned into marshes and the channel which had made outside travellers give it the name of the Venice of the East has been converted into a road! One of the most important contributions to the city in recent times has been the stray dogs! In fact, Kashmir especially Srinagar, in contrast to Kerala known popularly as “God’s Own Country” can be called “Dog’s Own Country”!
In fact, the real Srinagar is what is these days called as the “down town” or Sher-i-Khas. The new areas known as the “Civil Lines” is the area developed by various rulers from time to time to remain undisturbed from the upheavals of the real Srinagar! However, it has been demonstrated by the last flood that the entire civil lines area is dangerously flood prone. All these posh localities of the city were badly ravaged by the last flood. However, the planners and developers of the “new” city have learnt no lessons and have not even honestly carried out any flood prevention measures.
An important development of the City beyond the Urban Development angle has been its conversion into a “Smart” prison by the “Guardians” of law and order! In fact, the original historical city, called the Sher-i-Khas or down town is these days most of the time, a real prison!  The people residing there, the real and original inhabitants of the city of the Sun are at present most of the time leading the life of prisoners. They are facing a double jeopardy from the two contestants! One gives continuous calls for “Shut Downs” while the other imposes “Restrictions” from time to time. “Restrictions” on almost all Fridays is a foregone conclusion. Sometimes people are not able to pray on Fridays in the Srinagar’s Grand Mosque for weeks on end! All movements are restricted; shops, business houses, schools and other commercial and non-commercial institutions remain shut. All business comes to a standstill on both occasions which have caused huge losses to the people. The worst sufferers are sick people who are scared to venture out and cannot go for treatment. 
The entire city is dotted with pill boxes surrounded by concertina wire rolls which are placed on all important intersections on the day of “Restrictions”. In many places one can see the armoured vehicles of the paramilitary forces. In fact, there are many paramilitary camps in hired private houses, some school buildings, cinema halls and other places throughout the city. One fails to understand why are the authorities interested in driving people to a corner? The alienation from the mainland India is now becoming irreversible! This is especially so because of the treatment meted out to Kashmiris all over India especially in the “Cow Belt” of the North. Ironically, the authorities are asking people to “Give” Peace and they will solve all problems! However, the moot point is what is meant by the word “Peace”? Is it the peace of a graveyard or the peace of living and vibrant society? Who is disturbing “Peace”? A handful of “militants” and the stone pelting unarmed civilians prevented from expressing their feelings or the trigger happy troops of the second largest army in the world backed up by umpteen paramilitary and other forces and agencies going totally berserk many times? The authorities themselves have to give “Peace” a chance and not ask the “Prisoners” of the City of the Sun to do it!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Possibility of Indo-Pak War?

(The fast deteriorating security situation between India and Pakistan has created a sinister possibility of a destructive conflict unless big powers step in to diffuse the situation)
Diffuse the tension
The recent attack on Sujwan Army camp in Jammu coupled with the shelling and firing on the border is an indicator of a fast deteriorating security situation between India and Pakistan. In fact, Tapan Bose, an independent peace activist and an author has written an article in Counter Currents. Org titled, “India Pakistan: The Coming War”. Describing the deteriorating security situation across the line of control and international border in Jammu he feels that the possibility of another destructive war in the sub-continent is real. “The fear that under the BJP rule, India will be increasingly drawn into US imperialism’s game plan for extending its hegemony over this region to counter China’s growing economic and military power is real. The USA has always fought their wars in other people’s territories bringing utter devastation to the people and the economy. That continuous localized military clashes, can lead to large-scale war is an established historic fact. We have become so used to this perpetual cycle of instability and constant confrontations, along the Indo-Pakistan border that we have lost sight of the inherent danger that these confrontations pose to peace in South Asia. As a result, despite our best efforts, the next big war in the Asia-Pacific, like most military conflicts, may come as an apparent surprise when we least expect it. For what is clear is that the current instability in the Asia-Pacific cannot endure indefinitely.”
Last year Arindam De had written an article in, “India-Pakistan nuclear war in the near future is possible”. According to him, the two nuclear armed countries have about 120 to 130 warheads each and enough delivery systems to deploy these warheads. Recently Indian Army Chief spoke about the plan for a fast, localised conventional invasion of parts of Pakistan. He may be thinking of not getting a nuclear strike with a limited operation. However, there is no guarantee that Pakistan will not respond with a nuclear strike against such a limited operation. According to Arindam De, Islamabad could use tactical nuclear weapons in advance or in anticipation of an Indian action. According to him, US may not broker peace as it is using India against China’s expansion in Pakistan.
Arindam says, “Guided by simple logic, if Pakistan must have any chance of winning a war against India, it will use its nuclear weapons — almost all of it. If India wishes to counter it in any way, it has got to be pre-emptive, simply because any n-tipped missile in the subcontinental theatre would take barely 10 minutes to start hitting the targets, irrespective of who launches them. So no side can technically afford to go second. A very scary scenario! Even a limited nuclear exchange between the neighbours would affect some 50 lakh people and kill close to 20 lakh directly and in the famines that may follow”.
However, the estimates of destruction given by other sources during a nuclear exchange between two neighbours put the casualties at more than ten million. The destruction would be so immense that it will take two countries like Hiroshima, more than 40 years or so to recover back to a semblance of normal situation! It would in real sense be an Armageddon for the sub-continent and may also involve other neighbouring countries because of radiation fall out!
Interestingly, such a war has an astrological background also. Mr. Sachin Malhotra, a passionate astrologer and a writer had written an article in August, 2016 in “” about India-Pakistan sliding towards a big war. According to him the conjunctions of Saturn-Mars in Scorpio in 2016 and Saturn-Jupiter in Capricorn in 2020 are dangerous astrological combinations and could bring war in South Asia. According to Sachin the eruption of unrest in Kashmir in July, 2016 had a good possibility of resulting in an Indo-Pak conflict. Sachin has described in detail the foundation charts of India and Pakistan. According to him, various events in the sub-continent may set a stage for a dangerous India-Pakistan war in 2020 when transiting Saturn and Jupiter will be in conjunction in “Makar” Rashi. Sachin says that China will support Pakistan in its war against India. Interestingly, Sachin has also given in detail the Horoscopes of the top BJP leadership. According to him, in their charts the maximum numbers of planets are connected with the 7th house which is the lord of war! Later from October, 2018 to June 2020 the top leadership will be under Moon-Venus combination which indicates danger of war under their leadership. This may suit them for the next election which they plan to hold in 2018 itself. For the new election there can be no better way to generate a wave of religious frenzy than a war with Pakistan. It would be a Dharam Yudh!
Thus, by all indications, the sub-continent has clouds of war hovering around. The only way to defuse this earthly and heavenly shadow of darkness and horror is to defuse the deteriorating security situation through dialogue. In fact, some prominent citizens on the two sides of the border have started a joint petition asking the Prime Ministers of the two countries to direct their armies to stop shelling and firing on the Line of Control and start a dialogue to resolve these ongoing tensions once and for all. Let us pray and hope the plea is taken seriously by the two leaders!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Demonizing Kashmiris!

(The greatest achievement of the present central government has been demonizing of Kashmiris throughout India!)
Demonizing Kashmiris!
  1. The incidents of beating Kashmiri students in different institutions in India have been spreading like an epidemic. Every second day or so one hears about the students being roughed up in one or the other institution, in buses, in trains and so on. In fact, even some elder people returning in their own vehicles with their families through Punjab and Haryana have been manhandled by the local Police. In recent years, the Hindutva vigilante outfits have been regularly targeting Muslims all over India. The anti-Muslim wave started with the so called cow protection forays when even people just transporting cows were not spared. People were lynched on the mere suspicion of having beef in their refrigerators. The instant case being of Ikhlaq Ahmad, the father of an Indian Air Force officer who was killed on the mere suspicion of having beef in his house. The attacks became widespread in Utter Pradesh after the BJP government took office there. The vigilantes not only got government patronage but were even supported by the law and order machinery!

  2. However, in this widespread terrorizing of people, thanks to some biased media channels, Kashmiris were turned into real “demons”! They were first labelled paid “Stone Pelters” and subsequently labelled “Stone Pelting Pakistani Terrorists”! Every stone pelter in Kashmir was made out to be a paid Pakistani terrorist. Stone pelting became a new form of terrorism. The world’s second largest Army was given the task of eliminating these “Stone Pelting Terrorists” and they have been doing an excellent job. They are now shooting these so called “terrorists” like pigeons and ducks! There is not a single day when one or the other young stone pelter is killed in cold blood. Kashmir has been practically bleeding! The depth of the anti-Kashmiri feeling can be judged from the statements of the Army Chief. He wishes the stone pelters had guns in their hands so that he could deal with them in a way he prefers! As if presently they are dealing with them very leniently! In contrast, General Hooda and General Panang have always been giving very constructive suggestions for solving the problem in Kashmir! Incidentally, there is no history of any stone pelting mob being dealt in a way Kashmiris are being dealt in any other part of the country. In fact, some of the mobs in Haryana and Utter Pradesh have indulged in the worst type of violence yet no one has opened fire on them!

  3. This demonizing of Kashmiris with a Pakistani touch suits the promoters of Hindutva ideology perfectly and it would be a great help in ushering in the Hindu Rashtra, which has been Sadasihiv Golwalkar’s dream! However, the realization of that dream may be far off but there is an urgent task which needs to be finalized at all costs. That is the creation of Hindutva frenzy for the next Parliament election which may even be preponed? The last election was won by showing the utopian dream of “Vikas” (Development) which has miserably failed. All those big slogans of “Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas” seem to have evaporated. Economy is in doldrums. On the day of the presentation of the budget in the Parliament, most of the markets crashed. Demonetization dealt a body blow to the poor people. It was topped up by GST and the digitization of the entire existence through the Aadhaar Card managed by the Silicon Valley in USA! In view of this, the development slogans are not going to sell now. The only alternative is Karl Marx’s “Opium of the poor!” That is precisely the reason for the new Hindutva wave starting in Kasganj and many other places. The real show will begin with the starting of the construction of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya! In a recent video, even a DG of the Police was shown swearing that he will take part in the construction of the temple regardless of the fact that the case is still pending before the Supreme Court of India. The additional boost will be clashes across the Line of Control in Kashmir. The so called imaginary “Surgical Strikes” which may go beyond the surgical form. Unfortunately, the country seems to be in for some catastrophe!

  4. Colonel Noel Elli wrote an article in the Citizen, titled, “May Day May Day, India Adrift”.  The excerpts from the article sum up everything, “I am not a sailor but when I peep out of the Porthole, all I see is beti jalao not bachao, bus jalao not chalao, dukan aur makan jalao not banao, if nothing else is left then burn tyres and effigies of all and sundry. Nothing seems to be hunky dory on this voyage on a ship called India”. “Which way is India going? We can cause mayhem and destruction for a movie or a baba. Hold a city to ransom for reservations. Ignite communal violence for beef, throw petrol bombs on trains and blame it on hurting public sentiment. If I put it the other way around, are we not hurting the national sentiment? It is time for an SOS!”

  5. Well, coming to our State the irony is that it is the Kashmir based part of the BJP coalition government which has been made totally impotent by the bear hug of the 56 inch chest! At least they could protest vehemently for all these excesses! Forget healing, they are virtually giving a bleeding wound every day. They should have thrown their hat in the ring long time back. Probably, they feel they have crossed the “Ghar Wapsi” threshold! In that case, God help them!