Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An absolute treasure - Shri Dharampal's works online!


Shri Dharampal has written several illuminating works on Indian history and science and this was the real stuff.

The website above has a bunch of his important works online. Other ones like "The Beautiful Tree" will be online very soon.

Enjoy - it should be an eye-opening read.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Daniel Pipes, MJ Akbar and the T-word

Still Asleep After Mumbai :: Daniel Pipes

Daniel Pipes is a known expert on the Middle East and the Islamic world. In this piece he has chillingly assessed the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage.

This piece caught my attention. (Please read the full piece though, it is as informative as it is alarming).
Nomenclature lays bare this denial. When a sole jihadist strikes, politicians, law enforcement, and media join forces to deny even the fact of terrorism; and when all must concede the terrorist nature of an attack, as in Mumbai, a pedantic establishment twists itself into knots to avoid blaming terrorists.

I documented this avoidance by listing the twenty (!) euphemisms the press unearthed to describe Islamists who attacked a school in Beslan in 2004: activists, assailants, attackers, bombers, captors, commandos, criminals, extremists, fighters, group, guerrillas, gunmen, hostage-takers, insurgents, kidnappers, militants, perpetrators, radicals, rebels, and separatists – anything but terrorists.

The following is exactly what MJ Akbar, the premier journalist, says on his blog ( in a piece called "Biting the BBC bullet". These are the words he wrote to the BBC when they did not use the T-word.
"I am appalled, astonished, livid at your inability to describe the events in Mumbai as the work of terrorists. You have called them 'gunmen', as if they were hired security guards on a night out. When Britain finds a group of men plotting in a home laboratory your government has no hesitation in creating an international storm, and the BBC has no hesitation in calling them terrorists. When nearly two hundred Indian lives are lost, you cannot find a word in your dictionary more persuasive than 'gunmen'. You are not only pathetic, but you have become utterly biased in your reporting…Shame on you and your kind."
Kudos to Akbar for his forthright expression of indignation.

My feeling about the T-word is the same. (My thoughts on this from 2005 can be found here and I have not changed my stance). International pressure builds on the direct and indirect perpetrators of such acts when strong words are used. Pussy-footing is what our government had done earlier by using words like "militants" and "miscreants" to refer to terrorists in Kashmir.

The Indian government has worked itself into a corner. If it refers to certain acts as terrorism, it assumes that it is accusing the minority community. This is basically insinuating that all the minorities in India are anti-national and hence sponsors of terrorism. Minority leaders should actually take exception at the government's not referring to the killers by the T-word.

In the present world, the importance of media presence cannot be over-emphasized. It will do the government a lot of good if it can use its media handlers more effectively to convey the gravity of the situation.

As the acts have become increasingly heinous, the Indian media has finally started using the T-word. Oh wait, not yet. This link from this leftist TV channel still uses the word militant. Militant does give a more harmless connotation and that is why we need to use the strongest possible words to describe the killers. When Pipes takes the international media to task for using "militant", here are our guys - still stuck with militant.

HonestReporting had this to say when castigating AP's treatment of Hamas - militant or terrorist, while commending NY Times for using the right word. And this was in 2006.
The Associated Press actually used the words "terror network." What is surprising is that they use the phrase to label Al-Qaida, while referring to Hamas as a more neutral "militant group".
Can I hope that our media folks will look at such subtle but important distinctions while reporting? MJ Akbar, it looks like nobody from NDTV has looked at your blog or that of Pipes or HonestReporting. Or is it something else with these people?

Concluding this post, I wonder if our esteemed PM Dr. Manmohan Singh gets enough sleep at the thought of poverty in the Indian Muslim community. A recent post by MJ Akbar reports that a whopping zero percent of the money allotted to minority development was spent in Maharashtra. Rather than be too sensitive about perceived slights that a community might take offense to or not, it would be far more useful to uplift and educate minorities and bring them to the national mainstream. But then, who would re-elect these politicians?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Terror in the ministry

UPA proud of my Karkare remark: Antulay

Now that we have terror everywhere, it makes sense to consult the dictionary to understand what the actual meaning of the word is. The Merriam-Webster's online dictionary has this to say:

1 :
a state of intense fear

2 a
: one that inspires fear : scourge
   b: a frightening aspect terrors of invasion>
: a cause of anxiety : worry
   d: an appalling person or thing

Looking at this definition, the perpetrators of the horrific Mumbai carnage were not terrorists to the UPA government as it was neither fear inspiring - given that Rahul Gandhi, the heir-apparent, partied all night when commandos were still engaged at the Taj. It was neither appalling nor a cause of anxiety. Apparently, our honourable PM did not lose sleep over this as much as he lost over the condition of a mother of a bomber. Even if the nation was terrorized, the UPA government was probably not.

However, the current event is terror inspiring to the UPA. Abdul Rahman Antulay is a terror not only to his party comrades, but also to his co-religionists and all Indians.

By his parrot-like repetition of an ill-conceived conspiracy theory the likes of which are often repeated (recall the canard of a CIA-Zionist plot of 9/11 that is claimed as gospel truth in a large part of the Muslim world), Abdul Rahman might have endeared himself to Islamist fanatics and the sensationalizing aspect of Pakistani media - but has become a political hot potato now.

His wayward comment about Karkare's death not being at the hands of terrorists is not only irresponsible but also downright malicious. In an exercise that Goebbels would have been proud of, a Pakistani channel and Abdul Rahman mutually reinforced one another. Now each will have the other's word as evidence. How convenient!

If we look back at the events that transpired, we had a few people, incidentally Hindus, investigated in the Malegaon blasts. The fact that the Indian media took this up with undisguised glee and projected this as the Hindu counterpart of the global threat of Islamic terrorism is indeed deplorable.

When the Mumbai events unfolded, the world saw the unprecedented horror occurring before it. Even so, Somini Sengupta in the New York Times in her report of the Mumbai events had to have a footnote on "Hindu Terrorism" - which, even if this Sadhvi character is proved to have committed, would amount to less than a drop in the whole Arabian sea.

I read somewhere that India now is a dubious statistic of being the second worst terror-affected country after Iraq (which is under civil war!) in the last five years. How much of this loss is due to "Hindu" terror?

When I read Somini Sengupta's piece that mentioned this "Hindu" terror in the same piece in her Mumbai report - as the events were transpiring - I squirmed in my seat. What blatantly misleading information was being fed here! Luckily, due to more sensible media houses in the west - who were on the ground and not dependent on their Indian agencies, the extent of the damage as well as clear information on the origin of the perpetrators was conveyed to the world.

The public has a short term memory. Three weeks later, people are just normal - of course - we don't want people to continue to be terrorized. Politicians are back to their quibbling ways. However, several common people have been really shaken by the events and they are taking to the streets in protest.

There are welcome changes occurring too - though I don't know how many of these will be effective in the long run. The first one is the refusal of the Waqf body to conduct an Islamic burial for the slain terrorists. Till now, all slain terrorists, be it in Akshardham or in J&K were apparently handed over to some Islamic body which would then bury them in Indian soil. Now this will not happen. I am so glad that the Muslim community has come out in strong protest.

The second one - in smaller measure - is the red gun salute given by Naxalites in memory of the Mumbai victims. This was unprecedented. If the trained Naxalites were to fight the LeT-types... I continue to dream.

The third one is the support - diplomatic and logistic - that India is getting (finally!) from the US, UK and Israel. Not that this was not done earlier - but there is a feeling of increased solidarity against terror.

Fourth, new guidelines about crisis coverage have been instituted by the news broadcast association. This should hopefully trickle down to lessened sensationalism in other spheres as well.

Fifth, a national body to counter terror, curiously labeled NIA (they liked the CIA acronym?) has been set up. This should hopefully increase intelligence dissemination among government agencies.

Coming back to Antulay and the UPA, I would at least hope that the UPA has enough sense to boot him out of the party and make him a political pariah. But this could be a double-game by the UPA. By retaining Antulay, it can retain the vote bank of insecure minorities while pandering to the majority at large by effecting ineffective changes such as mere legislations and ministerial resignations. Why am I such a cynic?

Whatever happens, I hope the haunting images of smoke billowing out of the Taj and of that gun-toting criminal walking through the CST looking for his next kill never fail to awaken righteous indignation amongst all Indians.