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Showing posts from July, 2006

Do Innocent Lives Matter ?

Over 54 people including 37 children (United Nation figures) died early this morning when Israeli air strikes leveled a building in Qana, in southern Lebanon. The Middle East has been in flames ever since the Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and the Israelis retaliated, 19 days ago. Since then, both have been raining rockets on each other. The Israelis say the Hezbollah is launching rockets from civilian areas, like Qana. It now accepts this morning's strike was a mistake.

From all appearances, the Hezbollah, an `extra-constitutional' authority in Lebanon is guilty of drawing first blood. But the point here is not the genesis of the conflict or where its headed. Nor is it about how this morning's air strike and the casualties thereof has caused the Lebanese to go ballistic. Not just in Lebanon but all over the world. Mind you, its not just the Lebanese, there is support in the rest of the Arab world as well.

And its not about the support either. Its just about how th…

26/7: A Memorial For The Mumbai Citizen We Never Mourn

On a low wall between the recently spruced up area where tickets are sold and platform No 1 at Mumbai’s Mahim railway station is an embedded granite plaque, visible to those walking in through the main entrance.

Written in the Devnagiri script and gold letterings are the words “Shradhanjali”, meaning In Memoriam. Just below in equal prominence is inscribed the name of President APJ Abdul Kalam. The plaque notes the bomb blasts that ripped through seven Mumbai local trains on July 11, and records the President’s homage to the victims on behalf of the nation.

In India, loss of public life is rarely mourned in a manner that represents an organised attempt at grief and remembrance. Not that we are a stoic society. Politicians and perhaps others who have commanded public memory are paid generous homage. While for ordinary citizens, remembrance is mostly a private affair, in homes and sometimes institutions.

Human Lives Are Precious

To be fair, there have been memorials erected after natura…

Blocking Of Blogs..What Are We Protesting !

People are up in arms over the Indian government's decision to block `objectionable' sites and blogs. And rightfully so. However in doing so, I think many of us are missing the point by miles. To address the issue, you've got to define it. My sense is that many have failed to do so. Let me try !

The 20 Sites/Blogs Or Something Else ?

What are we protesting ? Are we saying there is a freedom of speech/expression issue because 20 sites have been blocked ? In which case, we should protest when Da Vinci Code gets banned in some states, books like Satanic Verses get banned or for that matter Shivaji's biography. Or MF Hussain's painting. Of course there are many more books, paintings and movies which have been banned and not just because they are harmful to minors.

My point is you can't keep quiet for one form of content and get all roiled just because it gets delivered digitally. A digital delivery (if you ask me) does not make it any less `bannable', at least in …

Resilience, Immunity and Kindness in Mumbai

Some bloggers asked why I am not angry at the administration's failure over the city's serial train blasts. Why not take the Government on, first, for not seeing this coming and second, for not being in a position to help its citizens who were in dire need of medical and other assitance ?

I agree I should express my anger. I intend to do that and put my thoughts down on two other points on as well. Sure, the authorities (police, fire) should have resopnded and in large or larger numbers. But as I have argued in the past, we are a shining example of utter mismanagement of governance. Does it make sense attacking it again ? Maybe. But the sources of mismanagement must be addressed first.

The second and the larger issue is that we don't have enough hands devoted to protecting us. That is a fundamental problem. There are not enough cops, whether within the railway system or out of it. There are not enough traffic cops and there are not enough ambulances or people to man all of…

Terror In Mumbai: Life Must Go On

Two people I know were on trains which were the target of powerful bomb blasts which ripped through seven crowded commuter trains between 6 pm and 6.30 pm on Wednesday evening. The toll as of now is 163 dead and over 400 injured.

Both were headed to their homes in north Mumbai and only by pure providence did not get into the northern first class compartment which they well might have. For those who came in late, Mumbai’s trains have either nine or 12 coaches and two or three first class sections within those coaches. Women travellers have a dedicated section as well.

The bomb exploded as the train had just begun leaving Jogeshwari, a north Mumbai train station. And came to a halt immediately. My friend says commuters standing on the crowded platform were hit as well, by the force of the blast as well as by flying iron sharpnel. The second friend was on the train which halted between Bandra and Khar stations (a little north). He says the blasts were so powerful his ears were ringing eve…

Shiv Sena Goes On A Rampage And The Party Ends

It’s a little difficult to fathom. Some miscreant/s desecrated Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s late wife’s statue in Shivaji Park in central Bombay (Mumbai) on Sunday morning. Shiv Sainiks go on a rampage burning buses, stoning cars, heckling citizens and smashing store fronts in Nashik, Pune and Aurangabad, towns several hours away from the commercial capital.

Shiv Sena leaders emerge from their houses to challenge the ruling state Congress-NCP government to find the culprits within 24 hours or else..its not clear what the hanging threat means. It surely does not mean that the Shiv Sena will go to the High Court with a Public Interest Litigation. Its evening and I've stayed at home this Sunday. Not out of choice.

Bombay is under siege again, albeit for just half a day. Its restless, frustrated and angry populace is out on the streets. Some seem genuinely angry at the defacement of the statue. Mrs Thackeray was like a mother to them, they say. But it seems difficult to believe their…

What Is Bombay Really Scared About ?

In my previous post, I wrote about the palpable fear that most Bombayites feel today when stepping out, the shudder that accompanies every sighting of a waterlogged road. Reading some of the posts that followed and the references to media, I am a little confused.

What are people fearing here ? Is it the feeling of being caught inside a car with the water level rising (I came close yesterday and on 26/7) or falling into a manhole whilst crossing the road OR is it television/news reports of the possibility of this happening ?

I admit, you do experience a sense of alarm watching television or seeing the large pictures on the front pages of newspapers. But are you scared into submission ? I really wonder. Before TV came in, the newspapers were putting the same pictures on page one. As they should. TV turned much of this into real time dissemination.

Ridiculous Proposition

So are we saying we are quaking in fear because of what we see on TV ? I think that's a ridiculous proposition. I don…

Fear And Submission In Bombay

Sitting in office, after having driven my car through a few minor lakes getting here, I am wondering why the roads were mostly empty at 11.00 am in the morning on a weekday. Outside, as I write, the rains are pounding the city of Bombay (Mumbai). Trains have stopped, flights are being diverted, schools and colleges have shut. And those who did make it to their offices are planning their trek back.

Now, the roads were not completely deserted, of course there was traffic. But very little. One reason is most of the smaller roads in and around residential areas in Mumbai's suburbs are flooded. So, even if the arterial roads are okay, you can't get out of your lane. For me, getting out of my immediate area was a greater challenge. Actually, so was the road which leads to my office in Worli, in central Bombay.

Did folks heed the BMC (civic authority) Commissioner's warnings yesterday ? Which said that heavy rains were expected in the next 48 hours. Quite possible. But, we've h…

Why Aren't We REALLY Paranoid ?

Newsweek's latest cover asks "Can America Compete ?" It leads with an article written by Fareed Zakaaria which starts out by saying that the United States is still the dominant force in technology, innovation, productivity and profits. "But Americans don't quite realise how fast the rest of the world is catching up," it says.

Zakaria frowns upon what he diagnoses as a larger cultural decay in the nation. "A country that once adhered to a Puritan ethic of delayed gratification has become one that revels in instant pleasures...America is becoming a post-industrialised society that specialises in consumption and leisure, he says.

He concludes with a firm note of paranoia. "First, be scared, be very scared. The United States has a history of worrying that it is losing its edge..but America's problem right now is that it is not really that scared. Mainstream America is still unconcerned.." And so on.

Do We Have Stuff To Be Paranoid About ?