Showing posts from April, 2009

Who is Baitullah Mehsud?

The Taleban have pushed the security forces out of Waziristan, the vanguard of the struggle against the Soviet invasion. "On my first trip to the area, one of the first landmarks pointed out to me was the site of an ambush over half a century earlier when Mehsud tribesmen surrounded and annihilated a 300-member British force in the last days of the Raj" writes Syed Shoaib Hasan of BBC News referring to Waziristan tribal region in Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan. Baitullah Mehsud heads the Pakistan's of the Tehrik-i-Taliban entered into a ceasefire with Pakistani authorities on 8 February 2005 that ended in July 2005Sirajuddin, son of legendary Jalaluddin Haqqani who defeated the Soviet forces heads the Afghan Taleban's command. Mehsud was offered US$20 million for his cooperation in the ceasefire which he declined and told Pakistani authorities that they should use the pay-out to "compensate families who had suffered during the military operation&q

Secret Bank Accounts

In most recent times I first heard Joseph Stiglitz, currently Chairman, UN Task Force on Global Financial Crisis (set up in November 2008 by President, UN General Assembly) raise the issue of secret back accounts in the presence of Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker, Lok Sabha at Mavlankar Hall, New Delhi while delivering Tenth D T Lakdawala Memorial Lecture titled "Crises Today and the Future of Capitalism" and free market fundamentalism on December 20, 2008. Stiglitz said: “Self-regulation is an oxymoron. Banks said they knew how to manage risk and needed no regulation. What they knew was how to create risk. There is so much of blame to go around that they can all lay claim to it.” What was stated by Stiglitz was articulated in the backdrop of the the global financial crisis and certain European actions. On March, 2008, the 27 Finance Ministers of the European Union (EU) displayed renewed determination to crack down on tax havens that trade in secrecy and facilitate tax dodgin

Opening the veins & arteries of nation states

On April 18, 2009 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez publicly handed President Barack Obama a copy of Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent by Eduardo Galeano, a book on the exploitation of Latin America. Galeano, a Uruguayan journalist, explains how Europe, and later the United States were responsible for the obliteration of indigenous people by Spanish conquistadors to the destructive cycles of foreign debt, investment and capitalism, Galeano lays out the Latin American saga from 1492 to the 20th century. "This brilliant text has set a new standard for historical scholarship of Latin America. It is also an outstanding political economy, a social and cultural narrative of the highest quality, and perhaps the finest description of primitive capital accumulation since Marx", wrote Monthly Review, a widely respected publication since May 1949. "Obama is a centrist Democrat. He never really pretended to be anything else. And he's movi

Politics of English language & Common School System

One was outraged to note that the leader of the opposition chose to address the Lok Sabha and the nation on a crucial issue of national importance such as Indo-US Nuclear deal not in Hindi but in English. Where was the need for the use of English language in the Lok Sabha by the most ardent nationalist leader? It is understandable why a senior politician from UP gets perturbed by the growing trend of unnecessary, inappropriate and uncalled use of English language in our country. Although one disagrees with Samajwadi Party on almost all issues ranging from its support for Indo-US Nuclear deal to its impudent promotion of industrialists like Anil Ambani and its dynastic politics but on the issue of language underlined in its manifesto, one is compelled to agree with it because there is an echo of what was recommended by a Government of India’s high-powered committee under Dr D.S. Kothari, the then chairman of University Grants Commission to frame a national policy which would give shape

Manmohan Singh at G-20 summit

(US President with Indian Prime Minister) PM’s opening statement to the press on the conclusion of the G-20 summit April 2, 2009 London 1. We met in London at a significant moment for the world economy and therefore for the world as a whole. I am grateful to Prime Minister Gordon Brown for the initiative that he has taken to host this second Summit of leaders of the G-20, and for the excellent arrangements that were made for our meetings. 2. The purpose of this Summit meeting was to take forward the search for solutions to the economic crisis facing the global economy today. The world is going though the worst recession since the Great Depression. We have fared much better than others though we are also affected. This is a global crisis requiring global solutions. 3. Earlier today and yesterday evening, we discussed various ways in which the crisis can be addressed. All countries have used monetary policy. An effective fiscal stimulus is also being resorted to by all major econo

Excerpts from the MANIFESTO of Key Political Parties

Excerpts from the MANIFESTO of the CPI (ML) The Government has tightened the stranglehold of MNCs on Indian agriculture, locking farmers into a debt trap, and opened up agriculture, forcing our farmers to compete with heavily subsidised farmers of the West and leaving them at the mercy of global price fluctuations. As a result of the UPA Government’s refusal to reverse these killer policies, farmers in Vidarbha (Maharashtra), Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Wynad (Kerala) continue to reap the harvest of suicides. In spite of Vidarbha suicides being linked with the failure of seed MNC Monsanto’s Bt.cotton, the Indian Government has allowed Monsanto to conduct field trials of GM crops. Clearly the UPA Government is quite willing to risk our health and environment and sacrifice farmers’ lives in order to protect the interests of MNCs. The Manmohan regime’s Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture has signed away India’s own independence in agricultural research. Even as labour laws and

Tragedy of history

Hanna Schmitz in ‘The Reader’ is responsible for the death of hundreds of Jews, but why do we sympathise with her? THOUGH her provocative portrayal of the ex-Schutzstaffel (SS) guard Hanna Schmitz in The Reader won Kate Winslet the Oscar, it is fair to assume that Academy voters also took into account her work in Revolutionary Road. All this speaks volumes about her persistence, warmth and commitment to work. Bernhard Schlink’s novel The Reader (1995), on which the movie is based, tackles the problem of the inability of succeeding generations of Germans to respond to the tragedy of the Holocaust. The ideology of mass murder has a history and a context in all its perversity and evil. Set in 1958, in the city of Heidelberg, the novel/film begins with the short and passionate affair between a 15-year-old schoolboy, Michael, and a 36-year-old tram conductress, Hanna Schmitz, who has him read to her from the classics before making love. She hides from him the fact that she cannot read or