Friday, October 21, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi Dead, Assad Is Next, and then...

The revolution in Libya has come full circle with the death of Gaddafi.  Only time will tell what will become of this great country with diverse tribal loyalties and great oil wealth.  Post Gaddafi, one can only hope that the Libyans will stand united and take their nation on the path of development.  If they remain divided, they will be exploited by foreign hands.

Only when the benefits are shared by every countryman does a nation rise as a civilization.  Libyans should not  allow their country to become another India... where democracy is a hollow ring... where tokenism and corruption is a daily habit... where every politician is a dirty dictator.

In India, every 2 seconds a child dies somewhere hungry.
India's GDP is $1.8 Trillion.

I truly hope Libya doesn't become another India.

Death to Dicktraitors.

Long Live Revolution.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pain, Pleasure and Revolution - Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen...

(1)  An unpleasant sensation occurring in varying degrees of severity as a consequence of injury, disease, or emotional disorder.
(2)  Suffering or distress.

The state or feeling of being pleased or gratified.

(1)  The overthrow or repudiation of a regime or political system by the governed.
(2)  In Marxist theory, the violent and historically necessary transition from one system of production in a society to the next.

As the epic events in the Arab World unfold before our very eyes, I am filled with a sense of awe... My heart is filled with hope as I witness these great revolutions... Never in my dreams did I imagine that such great events will take place in my lifetime...

(to be continued)

Muammar Gaddafi has turned on his own people.  For the sake of watching private concerts, he has started bombarding the Libyan people - even as the world watches, pretending to care about the common Libyans... as the price of crude heads north...

My question to Muammar Gaddafi:

Do you think you will ever be able to walk the streets of Libya, or be amongst the common Libyan people like a true leader?

(to be continued)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

UPA bites the price hike bullet and the Indian Taxpayer/Voter

On June 25, the UPA government increased the unit price of petrol (Rs.3.50+), diesel (Rs.2+), kerosene (Rs.3+) and cooking gas (Rs.35+ per cylinder).

The unit price of CNG and PNG have also been increased by up to 30%.

The food inflation rate is already above 16%.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee was conspicuous by her absence from the meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, which decided on raising the fuel prices.

Mamata Banerjee claims that she and her party - the Trinamool Congress, are against the fuel price hike as it would hurt the already wounded 'Common Man'. On being asked why she did not attend the EGoM meeting, she replied that her party has a minority stake in the government, so her presence would not have made 'any difference' to the outcome.

One would assume that meetings are the forums where you voice your grievances and concerns. Her disassociation with the fuel price hike decision is seen as tokenism aimed at upcoming elections in West Bengal. It appears that when Mamata Benerjee claims that she is with the 'Common Man', she apparently means the Congress.

India's very own Marie Antoinette - Sharad Pawar, was however present at the meeting, and is believed to have given his blessings to the hike. Not much expected from a politician who said something to the effect - "If the price of sugar is rising, don't eat sugar. It's bad for your health anyway."

I think the UPA wants to drive home the point that it's not just sugar that's bad for our health, but a host of other things too - milk, rice, flour, vegetables, fruits etc etc.

Already suffering under the weight of high prices of everyday commodities, which has upset the budgets of many a middle/lower income households, the UPA feels that our misery hasn't reached nadir. Next in line is the deregulation of diesel!

Now everyone in the UPA government - from Pranab Mukherjee to Manmohan Singh, is talking about biting the bullet. However, when it comes to the salaries, benefits and perks of the politicians, it seems no one wants to come forward and take the bullet. The bullet it seems is only meant for you and me.

It is learnt that the government will pass a bill in the monsoon session to raise five-folds the salaries, benefits and perks of MPs. For the dereliction of their duties, the MPs' salaries will be increased to the tune of Rs 80,000+. In addition to other benefits (monetary, cash, kind, !!!FREE FUEL!!!), MPs will now get 35+ free flights to ensure that they remain in touch with their 'electorate' (Anyone hear the sound of Air India's back breaking - again!).

Electorate here seems to be a euphemism for the MPs loved ones, family and friends, as we all know Politicians never see our faces again, till the next election.

These are luxuries which the common man can only dream of... or maybe hope to enjoy after long years of hard and back breaking work. Our politicians can get these with a simple voice vote, come monsoon session of parliament. These are of course paid for by you and me - the Indian Taxpayer and Voter.

Conclusion: Whenever an A.Raja will make the government lose thousands of crores of rupees, the government will recover the money from the Taxpayers and Voters in the form of higher taxes and price hikes. Politicians will effectively shield themselves from the ill effects of inflation and higher prices by increasing their salaries and benefits manifolds.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hope floats for Palestine

On 30th May 2010, Israeli forces attacked a flotilla of small boats that was carrying basic supplies of humanitarian aid to the choked Palestinian territory of Gaza Strip. When the Israeli forces attacked the Freedom Flotilla, the boats were still in international waters. 19 persons were reportedly killed in the attack and 60+ injured, though the exact figure is still not clear.

700+ activists were believed to be on board those ships, who were eventually arrested and detained by the Israeli government. The boats and the aid supply were compounded by the Israelis. An Israeli government spokesperson said 'the activists brought this upon themselves'.

The activists came from all walks of life - including journalists, politicians, a Nobel laureate, a Holocaust survivor and even a baby (?); and many nationalities - including Turkish, Greek, German, Irish, Swedish, Lebanese, Palestinian and more... representing 15 different countries.

Why does Israel behave the way it does, almost like a rogue state (e.g. North Korea)?

The answer lies in the moral and logistic support provided by the US to this key ally in West Asia (akin to China's support to North Korea) and the lukewarm actions/reactions of the UN and world community to Israel's excesses.

Fact of the matter is that the US will not scale down its strategic partnership with Israel, unless Israel becomes a liability and the relationship starts jeopardizing US interests in West Asia.

Fat chance of that happening as the rest of the Arab World (barring a few countries) only pays lip service to the Palestinians' cause while actively engaging with both the US and Israel in commerce and/or defence. If the Arab League had imposed some kind of sanctions against the US and Israel, far fetched as this thought maybe, Israel might have by now accepted a just Two State Solution.

What has been encouraging is the World Community's simultaneous condemnation of Israel's violent actions and the emotional outpouring of support for the Palestinian people's cause. The World Community should not let this opportunity go by and raise their concerted voices against the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories and the inhuman subjugation of the Palestinian people.

Due to its recent actions the state of Israel has been called 'pirates' and 'gangsters' by world leaders. It is only fitting that South Africa, which has compared the Israeli occupation to apartheid, has recalled its ambassador to Israel.

While the BBC and the CNN have started reporting 'responsibly' about the Palestinian cause and the violent excesses of the Israeli state, they still have a long way to go before they can claim to call a spade a spade. Just because these propaganda machines seem to be receptive to the plight of the Palestinians, doesn't mean that UK/US position on the issue have shifted significantly. The US continues to point fingers at the Palestinians while advocating the right of Israel to defend itself against aggression. Mr.Obama who was the aggressor here!? This is sickening!

Last I heard Rachel Corrie had been detained. No, not the American activist who while protesting demolition of Palestinian homes was brutally crushed under the wheels of an Israeli tractor, but her namesake boat carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. Since then, four Palestinians have been gunned down by Israeli gunboats, just off the Gaza coast, as they were found wearing diving suits.

Israel continues to subject the native Palestinian population to ghettoized living conditions. For a community that has experienced persecution firsthand, they are expected to be more sensitive.

I am not anti-Semitic/anti-Jew. But these days anyone speaking up for the cause of the Palestinian people is branded one. This absurdity has reached its limits - even Israelites and Jews speaking up for the Palestinians are labelled 'self-haters' or 'Jew-haters'.

As far as geopolitics goes, Israel has good relations with India (esp. in defense), and is a natural ally. But I am wary that Israel's actions will continue to alienate it from the rest of the world.

The human rights of the Palestinians will continue to be trampled upon till then. If the UN wants to stay relevant in this day and age, it has to act! Act it must.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

U.S. and Us, A Dollar to Rupees 50, maybe more...

This entry reflects on the British Petroleum oil rig explosion that took place in April and how US' double standards affect the rest of us.

On 20 April, 2010 BP oil rig Deepwater Horizon (under lease from Transocean) blew up in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to a massive oil spill and continued spewing of crude from the bottom of the sea. This disaster of an accident is expected to cause major damage to the Gulf's ecosystem and economy. Efforts are underway to limit the extent of the damage.

Thankfully, for the US and its Citizens/Taxpayers, the US has in place the Oil Pollution Act (1990). Under the Act, the owner/operator of the facility from which oil is discharged into US waters, shorelines and economic zones, is liable for the cost of restoring, rehabilitating and replacing the equivalent of the damaged natural resources. As BP owned the license to drill at the site, it is liable to pay for the clean-up and any other resulting damages.

This falls in line with the principle of polluter pays.

The polluter pays principle, also known as the extended polluter responsibility (EPR), shifts the burden of dealing with the waste - from the government and the taxpayers to those producing it. As the cost of waste disposal is internalized into the cost of the product, it can be reasonably expected that the manufacturer will make a better product and the operator will practice due diligence in its use.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines EPR as:

A concept where manufacturers and importers of products should bear a significant degree of responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products throughout the product life-cycle. Producers accept their responsibility when designing their products to minimize life-cycle environmental impacts, and when accepting legal, physical or socio-economic responsibility for environmental impacts that cannot be eliminated by design.

It is not uncommon for foreign firms to provide sub-standard or even fake products at very high costs. At times the products fail to do even the basic jobs required of them. Case in point is the selling of thousands of fake explosives-detectors (ADE 651) by a British firm to Afghanistan, Iraq and some 20 other countries (I do not know if India is one of them). As Iraq was struggling with suicide bombings on an almost daily basis, in desperation it apparently paid $40,000 for each device and a total of $85 million for this useless piece of crap. God only knows how many lives have been lost due to the 'use' of this device at several checkpoints in Iraq.

Against this backdrop, the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill 2010 which caps the compensation for a nuclear accident at just Rs.500 crore is plain ridiculous and a stab in the back of the Indian Citizens / Tax Payers. A nuclear accident/disaster will bring greater destruction than any oil spill to both human lives and the environment for generation to come. The decontamination/containment costs alone could be so high as to use up the entire the Rs.500 crore in a matter of months. It's unthinkable that in the event of a nuclear accident/disaster any meaningful rehabilitation can be worked out within this amount.

Furthermore, the wordings of the Bill are such that the burden of compensation and restoration will fall on the Indian government and hence the Indian Tax Payers. The US manufacturers of the nuclear plant and the 'fly by night' operators will alone benefit due to the shifting of the liability. It will be like giving licenses to US firms to make bigger and even more expensive ADE 651s, costing billions of dollars, which the Indian government will buy at the cost of its citizens' future and lives. Each Indian politician will receive hefty kickbacks/favors of course, in one form or the other.

Have we forgotten Chernobyl, Bhopal and Union Carbide!?

It does not take a genius to figure out that if you lift accountability off a person or firm, he/she/they will sell you to the dogs... our politician and bureaucrats are the biggest examples in front of us!

Mr/Ms Politician, with your millions you might be able to eat and drink imported food stuff and water, but you will still breathe the same air as the rest of us. And that air will be filled with nuclear radiation and the stench of the blood of innocent victims. It will affect you too!

The US and our politicians have mastered the art of serving their self interests - which includes the interests of Mega-Corporations. It is only natural for the US administration to squeeze as many concessions out of the Indian administration as possible for safeguarding the interests of its Corporations - human tragedy can go to hell as far they are concerned. However, it seems the Indian government of the day is light years behind in securing the interests of its citizens.

Just like the exchange rate, a US citizen's life must be worth more than the lives of 50 Indians... maybe even more if our government could have its way.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

26/11/2008 to 3/05/2010 - Kasab, Home Minister and the IJS

Home Minister: "The judgement is a message to Pakistan that they should not export terror to India. If they do and if the terrorists are apprehended, we will be able to bring them to justice and give them exemplary punishment."

Translation: "The judgement is a clear message to Pakistan that as long as the USA continues to back Pakistan both financially and militarily they can attack the Indian people at will via proxy war and continue to export terrorism without fear of reprisal from India (oh well if you want to be a party pooper by counting 'no dialogue stance' as a worthy sanction, go ahead).

If they do, which they are doing any way - as shown by their resilience on the border and evidenced by the German Bakery bomb blast - and if (and that's a BIG IF) we somehow get lucky and catch a surviving terrorist(s), we will lavishly accommodate him/her in the Indian Judicial System at the Indian Tax Payers expense. I am sure the Indian Tax Payers are minting money as easily as the rest of us politicians are, so they will not complain.

After a needlessly prolonged trial with many trivial twists and turns, the terrorist(s) will be handed down a just punishment, which will look good only on paper but will never be implemented, as you can see by our past record.

Meanwhile we will wait for your (Pakistan's) next batch of terrorists to pick a soft Indian target, in order to gain the release of the captured terrorist, who will be provided exclusive treatment during his/her stay, lest the Human Rights people raise a hue and cry due to their misplaced sympathies. Rest assured that in the ensuing bargain the captured terrorist will be flown Executive Class to an airbase of your choice with hefty foreign exchange thrown in (we are talking millions here).

Alternatively you can seek the custody of the said terrorist(s) for trial in your kangaroo courts and do with him as you please - acquit him in a sham trial and release him/her in the public to become a celebrated figure, pension him/her off to anonymity, stage his/her dramatic release by the extremists, remove him/her from the face of this earth or whatever else you fancy. However, this option is open only if the USA nudges us into submission (they are bullies them Americans).

Needless to say that the said terrorist(s) will be the safest individual on Indian soil during his/her stay."