Sunday, 12 January 2014

Friday, 10 January 2014

Devyani Khobragade gets full diplomatic immunity and on her way to India

Devyani Khobragade gets full diplomatic immunity and on her way to India

Again the big question - what does it mean?

did America drop charges?

did they tender an apology?

These were the demands of all Indians and the Govt.  But if she is indicted by the court on criminal charges but only allowed to go on transfer to India, the acceptance of guilt is no where on the American side either for the sloppy handling of the nanny case or the illegal evacuation of her family.  Wont somebody be made accountable for that? Do we bring back the people who have been evacuated to the US?  And What happens to the alleged violations by US Diplomats in India then? 

We have to wait and watch the response of the MEA.

The saving grace is that the Lady would be back in India.  May God be with her in these troubled times.

Mr Preet Bharara - Enemy of both States?

Mr Preet Bharara may be a great and righteous lawyer fighting for the rights of the under priveleged.

But, history may blame him as the biggest saboteur of a budding Indo-US relationship.

I wonder if Mr Preet Bharara had seen the hollywood movie 'Taken'. The movie tells us that 1000's of US women are missing every year.  We can even see that at www.

If that be the case, why did he pick on a hapless diplomat who reported the matter (of the missing nanny) several times to US authorities (which was even acknowledged by them).  If he was really concerned about such issues, there are enough cases in the US itself which genuinely need the assistance of his high office. Of course, there would be no publicity for taking up those cases!!!  One may even get knocked off,  if the opponents involve organised crime syndicates!!

So is it easier to get on a moral high horse and brandish your sword at soft targets and become famous too?!!

                                                              (ordinary women protesting)
But India has also come of age. It is not just the elite who are protesting in the power corridors against this whimsical act but ordinary men and women have come out on the streets, which makes it extremely difficult for any Govt of the day to ignore it  and therefore this hard stand is likely to continue (and rightly so).

(These are young people and it will not be easy wiping these memories from them)

Picking up the pieces from hereon is not going to be an easy task especially when the trust levels are low. A long process, whenever it starts, but in the meantime there will be several mutual opportunities lost and several jobs missed. All because of one nanny (accused or conspirator?) and one man who thought (alleged) justice for her is more important than Indo-Us relations and thousands of jobs for people!!

Whatever may happen, but History will not be kind to Mr Preet Bharara on this issue.

Devyani Khobragade - Where do we go from here?

Where do we go from here? A country which was touted as a close friend of ours in recent times and which defined our relation ship with them as the most defining one of the 21st century has let us down so badly.  They not only stripped our diplomat's dignity but evacuated citizens of this country making a mockery of our system and our laws and to top it,  there is no sign of any remorse except for some lip service about how important the relation ship with India is.

Even the grant of Diplomatic immunity to Ms Devyani may not have been to oblige us. The litany of cases that would have followed against American diplomats in India, be it for commercial activities or spouses working without permits or non payment of indian taxes may have worked in Ms Devyani's favour.

But the question is - what happens now and how do we go forward with a country which has such utter disregard for a supposed strategic partner.  It is so bizarre that they choose to do it at a time when everything in the relation ship was hunky-dory. 

Are we going to gulp it and say 'business as usual' or are we going to stand up and fight irrespective of any immediate strategic or technological losses?!!

I hope our government of the day chooses the later.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Devyani Khobragade strip search video

The US confirmed that the video is not of Ms Devyani and denounced the video as dangerous & fabricated.

Point taken. The lady in the video is not Ms. Devyani Khobragade.

But, it is still some lady and clearly all her rights have been violated. Being stripped and allowed to lie helplessly in front of so many male and female police officials is outrightly humiliating and it is a shocking depiction of the violation of human rights.

I am sure the US with all the latest gadgets and monitoring systems can very easily identify who the people in the video are and who had uploaded the video.

Frankly, if the video turns out to be a hoax, even we would be relieved, as the world does not expect US officals to behave so insensitively and in such an inhuman manner.

I hope they get to the bottom of this video case and bring the guilty to book.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Devyani Khobragade

14,827 murders                     i.e one every 40 minutes
84,376 rapes                          i.e one every 7 minutes
3,54,520 robberies                i.e one every 90 seconds
760,739 assaults                    i.e one every 45 seconds
89,75,438 property crimes   i.e 17 crimes every second

Which country do you think this is?!!

This is the United States of America!!!! (as listed by FBI for 2012) and this does not even include crime stats of  other law enforcement agencies/ unreported crimes!!!

Now, take a look at Ms Devyani's case in the above context. Prima facie, her offence (even if true) does not fall into any of the above types.  It is not at all serious that she has to be arrested in the manner she was. (Here, I am not writing about that handcuffing/stripping incident anymore because enough has already been written and seen on that). I want to analyse this situation by the reactions of the US state department spokes woman Ms Marie Harf who said the following - 

"...... we don't want this (incident) to define our relationship going forward and don't think that it will........ if you look throughout the region, if you look at Afghanistan, if you look at energy issues, economic issues, we have a whole host of things we work together on........And those are very important and shouldn't be derailed by this incident. And that's why, again, we are putting the process forward. We're setting that aside..........the relationship with India is incredibly important.....It's vital, and that's what we're focused on ........There's a lot of business we have to get done together, a lot of issues we work very closely on economically, diplomatically, and that's what's important to us and that's what's important to do moving forward, and I have no reason to think that that won't be the case."  Very Well said, Ms Harf, you echo the sentiments of over a billion indians and we truly like to believe what you say. If that be so, then why are you trying to scuttle it all, by sticking to a fraudulent visa charge against a career diplomat? Are you trying to say that the United States is 'holier than thou' and that there is no crime in your country?! if you have any such notions please have a look at your own crime stats on top.  This is without even mentioning the violation of various Indian rules by your Diplomats in India!!! It is rather bizarre that you are trying to put an end to a relationship which had taken years to fructify over something as silly as 'underpaying a nanny (which itself is not proven yet)', in the course of which you have grossly ill treated a woman diplomat and deliberately airlifted indian citizens against whom cases are pending in the Indian courts!!!  How do you expect us to trust you and treat you as our partner?  Do you think protecting the rights of one nanny (if at all she is the victim) is larger than saving thousands of jobs (from the defence/other deals india is ordering)?   Either you have no care for what India thinks or someone is deliberately trying to sabotage this budding relationship  Anyway, to really take this relation ship forward, you need to cut down on the rhetoric of how important ties with India are and do some actual work on ground i.e grant of her accreditation  and offer an unconditional apology.                

Prashant Bhushan and AAP

AAP had scored a fantastic victory in Delhi which everyone had already acknowledged.  I followed Mr Kejriwal from the time of Anna Hajare's fast when he was on all the TV channels.I was pleasantly shocked to hear his audacious demands for calling of Anna Hazare's fast. For some time i even wondered if this man was sane.  Because, in times of  rampant corruption, here was a guy proposing school boy ideals and even more amazing was his expectation of all political parties to heed to them. A bit of Naivette, I thought. There was also a guy who fervently used to wave the National Flag in the back ground. I was always amazed by his dedication and his 100% belief in the cause even when things weren't exactly in their favour.  The (then) audacious thoughts of Mr Kejriwal and dedication & self belief of the flag waver (whom i learnt later as Mr Kumar Vishwas) never ceased to amaze me since then and it is quite befitting that they got a winning mandate from the people.  Many of the voters may not have voted for AAP thinking they dont have a chance but considering the present results, I think if there is a re-election, AAP may have a land slide win. But, I am sure all the political pundits are already aware of it. My point in writing this post is not about the virtues of AAP but is rather about some disturbing utterances from the party.

Another stalwart of the movement, Mr Prashant Bhushan was very articulate & elaborate in explaining the ideals of the Anna Hazare movement on all TV channels and had been a pillar of strength both to the Anna Hazare movement and to Mr Kejriwal. He is a respected lawyer and I am sure he has a big role to play in the future activities of AAP.  But, he and AAP need to acknowledge & respect that certain issues are taboo in our country - the key one being the 'K' word and with all due regards to AAP - I think AAP carried out only dedicated research on eradicating corruption in this country and may not have done enough research on other issues especially about 'K'.

As a fan of their thoughts n deeds, my sincere advice to AAP would be - Focus on your core strength (which is anti-corruption) for which the people have voted for you and deliver on your promises.  We believe every word you say in this area, buy if you venture into other tricky areas without much research, then we become confused as to what is your stand on those issues and whether such a stand is in the interest of our country (especially when it happens second time around).  Such confusion among the common man would become ammunition for everyone to target you.

We all want you to succeed because you have brought about a refreshing change (bringing power to the aam aadmi) which other political parties are also trying to emulate. If that happens ultimately, you would have done your job for this country (irrespective of whether you win or not), but don't lose focus enroute.

Wish you all the very best!!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Youth and Liquor

The youth have taken to drinking like fish to water!! You can see it all around you, with so many youngsters drunk on the streets.  I often wondered why the governments aren't educating these youngsters not to drink at such an early age. A little bit of digging on the subject showed me startling results.

Liquor is contributing 15-20000 crores of many of the states revenues. considering that the total revenue of my state is about 80,000 crores, this means that revenue from liquor is about 25% of the total revenue. Now, that is a big number.  This naturally puts us in a  dilemna especially when we know that the state is already in a deficit.

If there are dedicated movements to educate the youngsters and curb their drinking, the overall revenues will fall further increasing the deficit. This will naturally lead to a cut in various government welfare schemes and subsidies to the poor.  

On the other hand, If we promote liquor sales - We all are aware of its social problems i.e eve teasing, rash driving, rape, murders, wife beating etc without even mentioning the ill effects on the medical health of the individual.  Couple this with the free availability of porn on the internet and the unabashed depiction of women in bollywood (and other regional) movies, we have the recipe for a social disaster, the signs of which are already omni present.

So, it may be time to think if the sale of liquor can be brought down and simultaneously prune down certain welfare schemes also to balance the deficit.

Though pruning down welfare schemes may be easier said than done, that may be the right way forward and could be hastened by educating the people especially the youngsters. After all, they are paying for atleast part of their own welfare scheme!!! (An individual drinking everyday contributes about 50 rs by way of taxes. multiply that by 30 days we have 1500 rupees. so he is partly paying for his own subsidy.  In addition the people who don't qualify for subsidies for their own self contribute their share to  other's subsidy).  Effectively, people are paying themselves for most of the subsidies and quite obviously so, because the government has no other sources of income than the taxes  paid by the people (apart from profits from few govt companies).  If people continue to expect welfare schemes and subsidies, govt's have to fall back on revenue generating schemes.

I am aware that there can be no quick fix solution to this and a holistic solution encompassing all the issues needs to be worked out by someone in the Government who has the power and ability to do so. To facilitate that, we must begin by stopping to look for freebies from the Govt and be prepared to pay a  bit more on the other fronts ( for example - to offset the revenue loss from liquor an increase in other taxes may be planned. I am not getting into the 'stop corruption and save govt money' rhetoric here as that would be a never ending discussion)  Maybe paying a higher % of other taxes may help secure the future of our next generation by saving their exposure to liqour at an early age.

Happy New Year