|Kashmir's physical isolation!|
|Kashmir valley remained cut off during the current winter a number of times. This was due to the closure of the National Highway connecting it with Jammu, the only land route presently available during winter. This is now a routine phenomenon every winter. Even during the time it is open it sometimes becomes very dangerous to travel on it as there are numerous slides. Even though the smaller ones are cleared within few hours or so the large ones take days or even weeks to get cleared. It is a continuous herculean task to keep Kashmir's only lifeline open. This has been possible only through the efforts of the Border Roads Organisations whose men and machines are working round the clock.
A question arises as to why in this modern age of development Kashmiris are physically choked? Before ...|
|Doctor bashing: The new Indian pastime..!|
|Last evening I had a visitor, a young medical student from one of Maharashtra's medical colleges where doctors are getting bashed up with increasing frequency! I had seen her as a child, studious, intelligent, an intensive public speaker, had watched as she'd put heart and soul into her books, finally to win a seat in medicine. She had won. Was overjoyed.
And now fearful.
"I knew the doctor they beat up," she whispered, "He was an excellent teacher, and an insightful physician, now the mob have made him a cripple! Is that what's going to happen to us?"
Yes, is that what is going to happen to some in the medical profession? There have been over two hundred and fifty cases of such thrashing of doctors in Maharashtra alone!
And it's happening all over India.
In the days of old, when an...|
|The Yogi and the believers|
|After Narendra Modi's effortless leap from Gujarat to Delhi in 2014, one thought that nothing would surprise us pseudo-seculars anymore. But how woefully wrong we were! And how little do we know our own country!
Despite the overwhelming victory of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, no one in their wildest dreams ever imagined that it would pick its most rabid face to head the government in the country's largest state.
Liberal sections of Indian media, who still swear by Modi's carefully-cultivated image of the 'development man' and the all-conquering mantra of 'sabka saath sabka vikas' (Development for All) are bending over backwards to justify the choice of the militant monk of Gorakhnath temple, blaming it on the 'political compulsions' and 'arm-twisting' by the hardline elements in the RSS...|
|The wife and my death squad..!|
|'Twas a small argument we'd had the night before, but the wife wasn't looking at me as she read the papers this morning. From the corner of my eye I watched her chuckle then snigger and say, "You should be careful when you write! Otherwise, wham! Wham! Wham! And you'll be gone!"
"Whoa! Whoa!" I said incredulously, "What brought this along?"
She sniggered again and left the room, leaving the paper she had been reading half open. I scuttled over and looked at what had brought out her outburst, then stared fearfully at the headline, "Sri Lanka's Field Marshall Fonseka had testified that 'Death Squads' had targeted journalists!'
I looked furtively out of my window. Was that a branch of a tree or a rifle pointing at me? I walked hastily to my laptop and scanned my previous columns. Had I w...|
|Right To Water|
|Sustainable use critical|
|Whether the third world war will be played over water is unknown, but the growing water scarcity of a burgeoning population has become a reality. Specially important is the rapid growth of Third World countries where water scarcity has already become a major problem. Experts opine that within the next decades, if not earlier, half the world's population could have serious trouble facing enough freshwater for drinking and irrigation.
This is all the more ironic because it was only in November 2002 that water was recognized as a fundamental right. The Covenant on Economic & Cultural Rights (CESCR) ratified by 145 countries compelled to progressively ensure that everyone has access to safe and secure water, equitably without any form of discrimination.
"The human right to water", declared...|
|Playing second fiddle..!|
|Many, many years ago I went to hear a businessman speak. I was young and energetic and like all youngsters all set to conquer the world. I hoped this man would give me a few tips how to go about it:
"To whom do you attribute your success?" asked a girl sitting next to me.
"To my chairman and managing director!" said the businessman.
"But aren't you the chairman and MD?"
"No," said the tough businessman and his face broke into a smile, "God is my Managing Director, I only play second fiddle! But look what music we have performed together!"
Those words have stuck in my mind ever since: Second Fiddle!
Do you know which is the hardest instrument is to play in an orchestra?
All instruments have their own sections; the violins divided into two parts - "first" and "second"...|
|Master-strokes of Yogi|
UP Chief Minister deserves all compliments for asking his ministers and bureaucrats to declare their assets. Such declaration should be made public so that members of public may be able to point out discrepancies, if any, in such declarations. Such declarations should be an annual feature, and should be monitored carefully to check sudden rise in wealth. It is noteworthy that income and assets of ruling politicians usually rise manifolds abnormally as per data released by Association for Democratic Reforms and Election Commission on study made on basis of affidavits filed by ministers while filing nominations for next elections.
Yogi Adityanath also abolished VVIP culture by ordering removal of red beacons from car-tops. But painting party-names and use of party-flags on pr...|
|BETWEEN THE LINE|
|Is the judiciary in peril?|
|Delhi University teacher G.N. Saibaba has been sentenced to life imprisonment for his links with Maoists. With due respect to the Court, I beg to differ with the punishment. Maoists are ultra-Left and most people in India do not like their philosophy. Some who follow them can be criticised, but cannot be imprisoned for their views and that too for life.
It appears that the courts are also getting influenced by the party in power. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) believes in a Hindu Rashtra. Conceded that it is not doing anything in the form of a bill or any order to impose Hindutva, the very fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi supports the cause does carry weight.
The Maoists should be fought on the ideological ground. The BJP should present its case that the Hindu philosophy ...|
|Kim and the art of warfare..!|
|Kim Jong Un, the revolutionary leader of North Korea stood in his wrestling gear in the arena facing the rest of the world. He walked up to one of his still living uncles sitting on the edge of the ring and whispered in his rear, "Just watch, I will go across to where Trump sits and make a monkey face at him! Watch, and learn the art of warfare!"
His uncle clapped and gave him a standing ovation as the bespectacled portly Korean walked over to the other side of the ring, as far away as he could get from the American side, then started making ludicrously ridiculous faces at the Americans.
He walked over to his uncle, "How was that?" he asked, "Did you see the American president cringe with fear?"
"You are the greatest!" said his uncle.
"Greater than my father, Kim Jong Il?" asked Kim J...|
|The two Punjabs|
|LAST month, the government of Indian Punjab asked the central government to negotiate with Pakistan to allow the transportation of exports through Pakistan's land routes. It said this would also improve India's trade with the Commonwealth of States countries.
What is far more significant is that Punjab also wants the centre to invite it to future trade meetings with Pakistan. The centre conceded that this issue would be taken up when trade and economic cooperation are next discussed following a resumption of dialogue.
Fortunately, Amrinder Singh has returned to power as chief minister of Punjab. In his previous tenure, he gave ample evidence of a commitment to good relations with Pakistan. Not very long ago, the chief ministers of both Punjabs met to discuss matters of common interest....|
|There's not a person who isn't whispering into his or her cell phone all the time. I see it all over, and this morning I mischievously wondered what would happen if suddenly all mobile phones went dead:
A husband and wife sit down to lunch. He, glued to his expensive phone looks at his wife in shock as she also holding hers looks back in horror.
"Hello! Hello!" he shouts.
"Hello! Hello!" she also shouts into her cell.
"Dead!" he shouts at her.
"Dead!" she shouts back.
They look at each other then stare at the food on the table. They eat in silence for a while then he looks up, "who are you?" he asks.
"You mean, you are…"
"Oh my God! My husband! How are you David? We haven't spoken to each other in…."
"Three years since I picked up by Nokia, and your...|
|The Rise And Fall Of Populism And Fake News|
|Populists have chosen a bad time to wrest power. The main weapon at the disposal of the populist is the power to turn conjecture into fact. The danger is in the steady march of populists around the world turning conjecture to fact to law. The populist remains agile and formless, shaping opinion according to necessity, the only consideration being a deep rooted conservatismto appeal to the forgotten man and woman.
The appeal of fake news is in its reinforcement of beliefs - beliefs that are born out of disenfranchisement. The forgotten man and woman need to believe that they are the underdogs left behind by globalization, that perhaps wealth and power haven't been distributed quite as equitably as they should have.
Indeed, the reinforcement of the belief that one is an underdog is an ent...|
|Old Age Youngsters..!|
|The other day after Mr. Brahmachari won the marathon in the Joggers Park races, another friend drew up and asked Mr. Brahmachari his age.
"Guess?" asked Mr. Brahmachari with a twinkle in his eyes.
"Fifty five," said my other friend.
"Seventy three!" said Mr. Brahmachari as he walked even faster and we gave up keeping pace with him.
The old are getting younger there's no doubt about that and with this in mind I thought it wouldn't do any harm pulling their leg a bit today:
In England, an old man was asked by a friend.
"Now that you've retired what do you do?"
"I have a good routine," said the old gent. "Every morning, my man brings me a cup of tea and The Times. I drink the tea, read the obituary column, and if I'm not in the obituaries, I get up!"
Two ninety old men in a retiremen...|
|The empty nesters|
|When children were born, we imagined what they'll be like when they grow up. What we didn't imagine was what we'd be like when they do. As our twenty-something son flew over his (Cuckoo's) nest, we're suddenly woken up to the stark realization of being hurled as 'Empty Nesters'. Realising that the clan must carry on successfully, I understand that it requires equipping children with the necessary skills to get on with their lives effectively and competently and if possible even let them fly the coop of their own. But then at times, I get to the question mark, 'was it right to have allowed our children to fly away?' When the children irrevocably move to a place like the USA, the pain of separation is simply overpowering.
'Empty-Nesters' are growing in number at a geometric progression. Y...|
|"Behold my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we should soon see the results of their love!" said Sitting Bull. Sure, this springtime sun-earth love - pure divine eternal - has and will ever result in love reborn and reinvigorated throughout Kingdoms Plantalia and Animalia.
Spring's love permeating, Kingdom Plantalia now very generally will quietly slowly steadily put on bewitching robes of leafy green openly messaging love and peace and inwardly manufacturing and getting stored foods not for itself alone but almost all that live on earth. And soon the Kingdom will bloom forth mesmerising flowers and inflorescences messaging out the ultimate in love and continuation of the species, for all posterity.
Spring's love again, King...|
|UP is not the end of the world|
|The spectacular show of the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh polls this week has set the cat among the pigeons. For the struggling opposition and the state's nearly 20 percent Muslim population, it seems even more defining and daunting than the 2014 General Elections.
In many ways, it indeed is. The saffron party's margin of victory in the battle for India's largest state has been highest since its inception. The party did not manage such numbers - 312+13 out of 403 seats -- even at the height of its Ayodhya agitation.
The credit for this landslide victory goes to Narendra Modi and his doppelganger, BJP chief Amit Shah. But does this represent a success of his rather charming and facetious mantra of 'sab ka saath, sab ka vikas' (together with all, development for all)?
What explains the BJ...|
|Brick and Mortar..!|
|Over a half century and a little more ago, somewhere in Brooklyn, a little boy looked up at his dad and grinned, "Liked your speech dad!" he said, "Liked how you talked about brick and mortar!"
"Dem be the only things I know about son! And brick and mortar will also be the only thing you'll know about one day sonny!"
"But dad you talked 'bout love and marriage, and all them strange things today?"
"Everything to do with brick and mortar sonny. That's sometin' you need to learn in life; always talk 'bout what you know! They asked me to talk about love today, so I talked brick and mortar marriage foundation. People ask you 'bout gun control, you speak on shelter and safety! It's the same thing!"
"Gee dad thanks!"
"We're builders son, we talk only what we know well! Right?"