Thursday, October 30, 2008

How Indians could have saved the financial system

Three reports including a brilliant piece by E. Ramachandran on how Indians could have saved Lehman from bankruptcy.

The issues are these:
1. All attempts seem to be to bail out institutions such as commercial banks and investment banks
2. Little attempts are being made to work out an index beyond ‘consumer spending’ and measures other than promoting ‘spending’ by consumers
The most incisive comment relates to the concept of GDP itself as a measure of wealth.

To what extent is the mother’s contribution worked into the GDP? Zero, zilch. In the Indian tradition, she is the tutor, guru who moulds a child and equips her child to realize his or her full potential. Every child is a prospective contributor to the wealth of nations. Unfortunately, economists, nerds and quarks (the so-called winners of economics nobel prizes) have no clue to measure this contribution of the mother.

Unless the financial system comes to grip with dharma detailed by Kautilya in his Arthashastra, this fetishism of money will continue to yield bizarre, recurring recessions. Governments have no clue, no solutions beyond palliatives such as bailing out banks of a number of money varieties. P. Chidambaram for example is the promoter of Participatory Notes which have substantially spelt the doom of the Indian stock prices while making some Indians rich through hawala transactions which are endemic in this Participatory Note act of treason, trying to loot the nation’s wealth.

The next President of USA may have to establish an international commission including Nanubhai from India to start eating khaman dhokla and enjoy life. Life is a lot more pleasurable when various forms of money are ignored and varieties of dhokla are tasted and enjoyed.


Banks borrow record amount from Fed (The Hindu, Oct. 30, 2008)

WASHINGTON (AP) : Banks borrowed in record amounts from the Federal Reserve's emergency lending programme over the past week, while investment banks drew loans at a slower pace.

The Fed's report, released Thursday, showed commercial banks averaged a record $111.9 billion in daily borrowing over the past week. That surpassed the old record, a daily average of $105.8 billion, from the prior week.

For the week ending Wednesday, investment firms drew $87.4 billion. That was down from $111.3 billion in the previous week. This category was recently broadened to include any loans that were made to the U.S. and London-based broker-dealer subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch.

The Fed report also showed that its net holdings of ``commercial paper'' came to $144.8 billion on Wednesday. The Fed created a first-of-its kind program, which started Monday, to buy mounds of this crucial short-term debt that companies use to pay everyday expenses.

Squeezed banks and investment firms are borrowing from the Fed because they can't get money elsewhere. Investors have cut them off, moving their money into safer Treasury securities. Financial institutions are hoarding whatever cash they have, rather than lend it to each other or customers. The lockup in lending has contributed to a sharp slowing in the overall economy.

Investment houses in March were given similar, emergency-loan privileges as commercial banks after a run on Bear Stearns pushed what was the fifth-largest U.S. investment bank to the brink of bankruptcy.

The identities of commercial banks and investment houses that borrow are not released. Commercial banks and investment companies now pay 1.25 percent in interest for the emergency loans.

Since the Bear Stearns debacle in March, the Fed has taken a series of unprecedented steps to get lending _ the economy's oxygen _ flowing more freely again. The central bank has repeatedly tapped its Depression-era authority to be a lender of last resort not only to financial institutions, but also to other types of companies.
Critics worry the Fed's actions could put billions of taxpayers' dollars at risk.

How Indians would have saved Lehman Brothers
E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I happened to run in to Nanubhaion Dalal Street. He was eating Khaman Dhokla in a farsan shop.
“Khem cho, Nanubhai?”
“Saru che.”
He was looking glum but gestured me to join him.
As I bit into the tasty dhokla with tangy chutney on the Friday afternoon, which was fast turning into a ‘Manic Friday’ as per Dalal Street lingo, he was staring at the bull near the entrance, which overnight had become a Russian bear hugging everybody that passed the Street.
Nanubhai is a well-respected Dalal Street dada with an answer to every shareholder’s query.
“What went wrong with Lehman Brothers?” I asked.
“Lots of things. If the founder brothers, Henry, Emanuel andMayer were alive this wouldn’t have happened. Lehman Brothers were more than a 150-year-old company. But yet, it had no Lehman in the company. Such a situation can never happen in India.”
“Are you trying to tell me an Indian would have handled this differently?”
“Bilkul. If it was an Indian firm, Lehman Brothers would have fought as soon as their father died and divided in to three companies. They would have diversified into clothing, polystyrene, petrochemicals, vegetables, movie making, telecom, drilling oil, mobile phones, retailing, books, spectacles, gyms, wellness. In short, anything and everything under the sun. They would have made money for themselves and their shareholders.”
“But when there is massive failure there would be no option but to file for bankruptcy?”
“Fail-wail chance hi nahin! Even if they encounter tough times, they would have friends like Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh to bail them out. They could finish off competition by befriending the finance minister and getting duties levied on the imports of competition. They would fund and befriend ruling parties. Unfortunately for Lehman Brothers in 2008, without a Lehman on the board or some Indian business brothers at the top, they couldn’t open the survival kit to stay afloat.”
As we were sipping double khadak chai, I asked: “Did anybody anticipate this global meltdown?”
“Anticipate? Mazak chodo! I will tell you something. America has some 45 Nobel laureates in economics from 1970. From 2000 alone there are 15 Nobel laureates in econometrics sitting on company boards, treasury benches and in places like Harvard, Stanfordetc. Kisiko kuch patha nahin tha! How come none of these had any inkling to the disaster awaiting the banking circles all over the world? Even the finance ministers of G-7 talked of strong “fundamentals” of world economy around this time last year! Two months back the only topic they were discussing was the rise in oil prices.”
“What will happen if it goes all on like this?”
“Some American economist will study this, write a new a theory and get Nobel Prize next year, dekhna. Seriously, they forgot things like control, double check, systems-in-place etc and brought in vague words like Subprimes to give loans left, right and centre.”
“What will happen to the Indian market?”
“It’s already having the Lehman Brothers’ effect. Our finance minister seems to like the figure 60,000. While presenting the budget earlier in the year he pledged Rs 60,000 crore to write off loans given to farmers. Now he is pumping Rs 60,000 crore to help out the banks! I don’t know what he will do next. He is again from Harvard!”
“What is the lesson to be learnt from the Lehman Brothers’ episode?” I asked as we were leaving.
Nanubhai took a spoonful of saunf and said: “You know, we have an old elementary rule for keeping hisab-kithab. Divide a page into ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ with a line in the middle to denote Debit and Credit. In case of LB, as somebody said, nothing was right in the ‘Left’ and nothing was left in the ‘Right’,” concluded Nanubhai.

Whoever captures the White House seems certain to inherit a starkly challenging economic picture. Thursday’s government report showed that consumer spending — which makes up more than 70 percent of American economy activity — dipped at 3.1 percent annual rate between July and September, after growing at a 1.2 percent annual rate in the previous three months.
OCTOBER 30, 2008, 12:41 PM
Alternatives to the G.D.P.
In response to our coverage of today’s gross domestic product estimate, a reader who goes by the name “TheBookkeeper” writes:
Has the time come to consider a better way to measure our economic state than to use consumer spending? Bookkeeping is a science that measure equity. Equity is the efficiency with which a business entity is operating, be that business a person, a household, or an industry. Doing more walking and less driving helps my equity account and hurts the economist’s consumer spending account. Is my walking a good thing or a bad thing?
Consumer spending is the largest component of G.D.P., and was a primary driver in G.D.P. decline in the third quarter. But it is far from the only component of G.D.P., which also includes investment, government spending and net exports.
So, to answer TheBookkeeper’s question, the preferred “way to measure our economic state” is usually G.D.P., which covers areas of growth other than consumer spending. But that does not mean G.D.P. is the best way to measure the health of an economy.
G.D.P. measures the total market value of final goods and services produced in a country during a given period. Ithas long come under fire, though, for not measuring “that which makes life worthwhile,” as Robert F. Kennedy put it 40 years ago.
G.D.P. does not take into account some of the negative effects of economic growth, like pollution. It does not factor in leisure time, or parts of the “informal economy” (like parents’ unpaid care for their own children) that have value but not necessarily measurable, marketable value. It does not give any sense of how equitably distributed a country’s wealth is; a country could theoretically have both the world’s highest G.D.P. and the world’s highest poverty rate simultaneously. It also does not reflect quality of life or happiness in any given country.
Along the years, economists have suggested alternative ways to measure a country’s economic health, most of which focus on measures of well-being. China has recently tried to use a measure known as “green G.D.P.,” an index of economic growth that factors in environmental consequences. The United States Congress has alsocommissioned research on “green accounting” measures.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has studied its own G.D.P. alternatives that take into account leisure. Others have proposed the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, which factors in both pollution and income distribution, and the Genuine Progress Indicator, which tries to determine if economic growth has improved a country’s welfare. Alternative efforts try to supplement or supplant traditional income-based measures with happiness-based measures. These include the Happy Planet Index, a Gross National Happiness measure and work on National Well-Being Accounts, which our Daily Economist Alan Krueger has studied extensively.
It is not clear that any one of these competing measures of economic and societal health will replace G.D.P. anytime soon.
But while TheBookkeeper and the rest of us wait for a new consensus on how to measure economic health, we can also experiment with how these measures would apply to our own lives. The Happy Planet Index lets you measure your own personal happiness level according to the H.P.I. metric. this site allows you to create your own I.S.E.W. (for Britain only), depending on how you weigh different measures of well-being and economic growth, and see how it compares to G.D.P.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pushing Hindus into a corner -- Tarun Vijay

Pushing Hindus into a corner

Tarun Vijay | October 27, 2008 | 14:14 IST

One Diwali the highly revered monk of Hindus, Swami Jayendra Saraswati, was arrested while performing puja. The secular world celebrated it as a victory of law and constitutional propriety. When nothing was proved, all the chargesheets turned bunkum, the Supreme Court gave a verdict favouring theswami's release on bail, but no one retracted the strong, often abusive words used for the Hindu monk. It was met with silence as if nothing important had happened.

One Krishna Janmashtami night, another ochre-robed reformist monk, Swami Lakshmanananda, was murdered along with an aged Hindu nun, Ma Bhaktimoyee, in his ashram. Secularists tried to direct and guide the entire investigation till the arrested murderers confessed that swami's work among tribals made prosylitisation difficult and hence they took the violent way.

The media linked the violence post-Lakshmanananda's murder to various Hindu organisations and completely ignored the brutal killing of the sanyasi and the lady monk.

This Diwali, Hindus were labelled as 'terrorists'.

There is a university in Delhi which gets a large amount of Saudi grants, and which thought it appropriate to honour a Muslim painter whose nudes of Hindu gods and goddesses and Mother India were opposed by Hindus, with a Doctor of Philosophy degree, honoris causa. The same university's vice chancellor, in a display of public affection for those students arrested for treason by a Congress government, declared that he will fund their 'struggle' as they are his 'children' and they would be considered innocent till proved guilty.
The secular world applauded his decision as bold and highly moral.
A Hindu sadhvi has been arrested for her alleged involvement in the Malegaon blasts. But not a single Hindu organisation came out in her support saying she remains a member of the global Hindu fraternity and would be considered innocent till proved guilty and hence shall provide all the financial assistance to her.

I was thinking, suppose I start a 'support Pragya fund' how any Hindu saints and ashrams and mutts and leaders would come out in support?Doesn't she deserve help and support till proved innocent?

Unlike the sweet little students of the university's vice chancellor, who were arrested from the area of the Batla House encounter, Pragya was in Surat, giving a religious discourse when the Malegaon blasts occurred in September. Her bike had been sold years before. No one said the blasts were organised to make Hindu law applicable or turn the nation into a Hindu state. No one had quoted Hindu scriptures to justify what would be termed as a ghastly act, inhuman and un-Hindu.

Yet, there was a virtual celebration in the so-called secular camp, they were over-joyous as if they have reached the moon. Got it, they said, what we were saying for years! The usual suspects were on our TV screens, delightedly giving interviews and the media lapped up crispy descriptions like Hindu terror, Hindu bomb, Saffron terrorism. When they quote the Quran, seculars cry don't label them Islamic terrorists, but Hindus being Hindus must be termed as Hindu terrorists to keep a 'balance'. So those who insult the memory of a martyred police officer show their glee over having succeeded in bringing the term 'Hindu terrorism' in vogue. What greater shield could an Islamic terrorist have wished for.

They were itching for this day and they have got it.

Last year too the 2006 Malegaon blasts were blamed on Hindus. Later the agencies proved they were done by SIMI. This year, Union ministers were demanding the ban on SIMI be lifted in spite of truckloads of evidence of the organisation's involvement in deadly blasts and waging war against the State, the most heinous crime in any part of the world. And the investigations, gathering of proof and the hard, difficult investigation, were done by government agencies.
The same honourable members of the Union cabinet demanded banning Hindu organisations, in spite of having no evidence of their involvement in violent activities or working against the Indian State. Those who ignore the Supreme Court's verdict on a terrorist who was accused waging war against the State, demand that Hindu organisations be banned for theirpatriotism.Once they drove out the tricolour folks from the Kashmir Valley, now theyassassinatetheir morale in the rest of the country.

For the sake of Muslim vote-bank, SIMI had to be helped and Hindu organisations needed to be shown as being involved in anti-national activities. The balancing had to be achieved, like the U C Banerjee Commission. Much before the honourable commission could start work on Godhra, leaders were declaring during the Bihar election campaign -- many of whom loved to be seen with an Osama look-alike -- that the Godhra train inferno was a creation of Hindus so that they could get a chance to pounce on Muslims.

So much for their secular credentials!

This time, too, they had tremendous amount of pressure to nurse their vote-banks. Elections are right here, campaigning has begun, chances look very bleak seeing the public mood, and voters seem already restless with high prices, growing inflation and an insecure atmosphere. Hence a communal divide would help. If such considerations can be credited as having instigated the 'creation' of a Hindu or 'Saffron' terrorism, would it be a far-fetched conclusion?
The intelligent people who could create a Bhindranwale, or a Raj Thackeray, to 'defeat' one or the other political opponent, could also be trusted to repeat the feat elsewhere.

So, this time, the police version is not to be distrusted or questioned. The first suspicion about police action is reserved for the Batla House fraternity. Hindu monks do not deserve it.

The term 'Hindu terrorism' looks so attractive to secularists. Proof, evidence, and final acquittal may take year. But the articles, front page edits, condemnations, further isolation, and cornering of the saffron side, would help someone. That's enough for today.
That this way may turn more dangerous tomorrow is not understood by the perpetrators of the secular pogrom of words against the Hindu Right. Every nation has a soul and a colour. India's soul is Hindu civilisation and the colour is saffron. Samuel Huntington described America as a Latin Christian nation, and it doesn't make her any less to give other communities second-class citizenship.

It may be the first time in its four hundred years of democratic history that a Black might be sworn in as President, who would take oath on the Bible. Who would demand that it's an unhealthy tradition, as non-Christians also built America? Traditions, colours and the inner core are always sacred and nations preserve them at all costs. If the same elements are humiliated and turned into icons of shame, nothing remains except a dead, meaningless smoke of rootless words.
India's Hinduness is that essential element to define this nation. We can't be explained through Saudis, Marx or Bethlehem. Or through Arabic or Latin or Persian. India is explained by the Ganga, Krishna, Ram and Gandhi. By Kumbh Mela, Sanskrit chanting, lighting of the lamp, Namaste, the Vedas, Guru Nanak's teachings, Guru Gobind Singh's valour, Buddha's global message of peace and compassion and Mahavir's ahimsa. India is deciphered by Dhammapad, the Gita, the Guru Granth Sahib and a divine love that saw the emergence of Radha and Meera. That fired the imaginations of doyens like Tagore and Vivekananda. Together they make a mutually supportive group of Indian streams of faith that welcomed and accommodated without murmur all other ways of worship brought here through various means.

Every single persecuted community in the world found a respectable space here, while they were brutalised, uprooted, converted and 'museum-ised' in other countries. The legacy of tolerance and plurality is the legacy of the Hindus and all those faiths born and flowered here. It made Taj Mahal possible and Jesus adored by a non-Christian majority. You deny them this place of honour, make them shrink in a defensive shell, and you lose India.

For just a comeback to power? And how!

Ram Sethu becomes a target of destruction, Ram is denied, Ram's history linked with the bridge is mocked at, Sita's persona is caricaturized in public, the shrinking Hindu population and their conversion become victory signposts of the secularists, Hindus driven out of Kashmir are deleted from all lists of secular concern, Hindu temples are taken over by the atheist State and their revenue used on non-Hindu areas, while not a single non-Hindu place of worship is taken over or 'managed' on similar grounds by the governors! More than sixty thousand Hindus have been killed by terrorists in various actions during the last three decades, five lakh have been uprooted and turned refugees, but no one shares their grief or respects their courage, but terms them terrorist in a matter of 24 hours, that too relying on media hype and an election platform?

After centuries Hindus got freedom that should have meant a free space for them to flower their culture, language and traditions. After all, the invaders came to attack and loot them and raze their temples. Wasn't it a matter of logical right that they should have been honoured for exemplary resistance and resilience and showing an extraordinary tolerance towards all those communities whose leaders had been in the forefront to deprive them of basic human rights?
But instead, the victims were portrayed as aggressors and humiliated for their colour and faith. What has changed since Ghauris and Ghaznavis and the inquisitionist Portuguese left?

They killed us but never portrayed Hindus as terrorists. This secular dispensation is celebrating Diwali with that label gifted to Hindus. It will not remain unanswered. Hindus as a mainline faith never never never believed in any kind of cowardice that's the hallmark of terrorism we see today. Killing innocents, shooting at fellow citizens and the dreaded midnight knocks just for the reason they wear a different faith.

If that was the case, the way Islamists quote from religious scriptures and declare their religious intentions while committing ghastly acts of violence, how much ever disapproved of by their co- religionists living and enjoying democratic freedoms, Hindus too would have shown the same streaks immediately after their women were gang-raped and kids murdered in Kashmir. There was no revenge in the rest of the country. Not a single Hindu soul would ever justify any act of terrorism ever (and please don't refer to exceptions to corner Hindus, see the principal stream). Born reformists, they would revolt if anyone did that.

But I am afraid the secular hate-mongers are pushing Hindus into a difficult corner without a space to be heard. Not a single 'mainline' newspaper publishes their views, though any number of assaults on them are a matter of routine. This is creating a grave situation and it's a warning signal that can be ignored only at the peril of the nation's great legacy of pluralitity.

Tarun Vijay is a director of the Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rethinking capitalism

Two insightful articles:

1. Rethink American model of development by Prof. Vaidyanathan
2. Capitalism needs to be rescued: NY Times editorial

How to rethink capitalism?

In my view, the Arthashastra of Kautilya provides the answer. This extraordinary treatise of Kautilya postulates the protection of dharma as the responsibility of everyone, including the state. Dharma is a recognition of the cosmic and consciousness order which upholds everything. The accent has to shift from right to responsibility, from consumption and avarice to sharing.

Economy cannot be boosted by promoting spending by citizens. Economy can be boosted and wealth created by hard work. This means that full employment should be the goal of the polity to unleash the full potential of everyone while leaving the globe in a sustainable state to the future generations. One facet of dharma is abhyudayam, that is, welfare of all. This facet is achievable by discarding, to start with, the evils of fetishism of money.


Rethink required on imitating the American model of development
R Vaidyanathan
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 03:47 IST

Recent events show a failure of many of the model’s basic premises
The evolving crisis in the American financial system is only a symptom and the disease is more deep rooted.

The American model of development is itself in doubt. It is based on many important premises, some of them related to concepts such as “market is always right,” “lower taxation,” “trickledown effect,” the role of the “hidden hand,” issues of “moral hazard” and of course the greatness of “consumption driven society.” It is also stressed that prudential self-regulation will guide the affairs than prescriptive regulations.

The recent crisis has to a large extent shows the king without clothes. The way institutions are bailed out by the government makes us wonder about the role of “moral hazard”. The senior executives who are partly responsible have not been adequately punished, nor their retirement benefits confiscated. The low-saving American household has been rudely made to accept the reality that consumption cannot just be continued with multiple credit cards. The algo traders and swap insurers needed more prudent regulations. The regulator needed more knowledge of the products and the over-the-counter products actually needed more disclosure and clearing mechanisms. But these are symptoms. The basic malaise is deeper. Throughout the seventies and eighties, it was globalisation of product markets and manufacturing facilities.

The anecdotal evidence often told in many a business school classroom used to be something like this: The doors of the Ford car are made in Barcelona, the seat cushions near Budapest, gearbox in the suburbs of Paris, music system in Osaka and the assembly is done at Kula Lumpur, and the car is sold in Shanghai. So, what’s American about it? It is transnational and the geographical boundaries are crumbling. Think global and act local, we were told, and bringing in the term “glocal.”

This was the ultimate in the process of global integration of economic activities through integration of manufacturing facilities to reduce cost, take advantage of specialised skills and pool the resources available in the global market. It was to move manufacturing nearer to material centres or to markets. It also argued about “standardisation” of lifestyles - mostly the American standards - in terms of jeans, processed food and cola drinks; heated food became the in thing and not hot food.

The nineties saw the globalisation of financial markets. If you wanted to set up a facility in Mumbai, you could now think of raising funds from New York stock exchange if the project was attractive enough. Funds were looking for markets and “geographical diversification” became the buzzword. The correlations between stock indices of New York and Timbuktu were constructed to justify that low correlated Timbuktu offer good portfolio possibility along with New York since low or ideally negative correlation implies risk reduction. This whole development was initiated by the USA and sincerely followed by countries like India. It premised on the belief that free financial markets and flow of funds would facilitate faster growth.

Then came the idea of consumption-led growth and greed as the norm. On May 18, 1986, Ivan Boesky gave the commencement address at the University of California at Berkeley’s business school. “I think greed is healthy,” he told his enthusiastic audience. “You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.” A few months later, Boesky was indicted on the charges that would land him in Southern California’s Lompoc Federal Prison, also known as Club Fed West. But greed continued to be the norm rather than the exception. The pure interest rate or the inter-temporal expectations became very large and waiting time became shorter and the so called “get rich quick” attitude took over. To achieve those aims domestic markets were not found to be adequate. Hence the search for “geographical allocation” wherein it was felt that risk should be reduced by spreading it across territories and across product lines. The more financial markets integrated, the less they became attractive for diversification since the correlations were becoming more positive. The earlier idea of geographical diversification is not working since events in New York are impacting Shanghai and Mumbai. Hence we need to closely re-look at the issue of integrated Financial Markets.
May be segmented markets with some tenuous ties might not have created such a global meltdown since contagion effect would have been lesser. Actually, the lower impact on India is to a large extent the lower integration of our markets with those of others, except through the FII and trade routes.

At the same time, the traditional notions of banks doing banking work and insurance companies doing insurance work, etc were thrown out to embrace universal institutions where anybody can do anything. Insurance companies were active in swap markets, banks in insurance and pension funds in stocks. It was argued that these reduce risks. But it was not so, as the problems of AIG reveal. Its problems did not arise out of insurance, but out of other financial derivative products. Our own private airlines are suffering since they have leased aircraft from a subsidiary of AIG and lease rentals have shot up since they are at floating rates linked to the London Inter Bank Offer Rate. Hence, there is a need to re-look at the universal banking idea.

The issue of trickledown effect seems to be an asymmetrical argument. When the going is good, it is expected to trickle down from business tycoons to the poor labourer. But when the going is tough, it is the poor labourer who is punished first. During bad times, suffering seems to be slowly trickling up. Actually, the senior executives and owner managers should take a huge cut in their pay packets before advocating “pruning” of human sources. Perhaps we should go for the Scandinavian model of high taxation and larger social security net since our business leaders have moved away from dharmic (the right course, as prescribed by religion) methods to asuric (pertaining to demons) ways. It is unimaginable that many of our business owners and executives are flaunting their wealth in an obscene fashion and suggesting tightening of belt to lower level employees.

We need to rethink on integrating our financial markets with global markets since their embrace can be that of vish-kanya (the mythical poison woman whose very touch was lethal). We should re-look at the universal banking model where the contagion could be more stressful. We must re-emphasise the importance of saving and welfare of families rather than just the rights of individuals and a possibility of government rescue. Executive remuneration should be within our own parameters and not based on the “greed is good” policy. If corporates refuse to see the point, then the government must step in to apply the brake. Overall, social stability and harmony are far more important than page-3 obscenities in our context.
The writer is professor of finance, Indian Institute of Management - Bangalore, and can be reached Views are personal.

October 25, 2008
Rescuing Capitalism
It would be fairly easy to dismiss the gleeful boast by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France that American-style capitalism is over, to file it with French critiques of fast food and American pop culture.

Except that the United States government now owns stakes in the nation’s biggest banks. It controls one of the biggest insurance companies in the world. It guarantees more than half the mortgages in the country. Finance — the lifeblood of capitalism — has to a substantial degree been taken over by the state.

Even Alan Greenspan, the high priest of unfettered capitalism and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, conceded this week that he had “found a flaw” in his bedrock belief of “40 years or more” that markets would regulate themselves. “I made a mistake,” he said.

The question is what new direction capitalism should take.In a globally interconnected world, the United States cannot simply march back to the gray flannel capitalism of the 1950s and 1960s when regulations were tough and coddled monopolies dominated the corporate world. Still, the next president will have a chance, not to be missed, to re-evaluate some tenets of the freewheeling, deregulated version of a market economy that has dominated America since the Reagan administration.

Financial deregulation enabled our boom-and-bust dynamic — removing barriers to capital flows, allowing unrestricted trading of abstruse financial products and letting financial institutions take on more and more debt. Cheap money, from China or the Federal Reserve, fueled the fire. But America’s virtually unregulated shadow financial institutions — brokerages, hedge funds and other nonbank banks — played a particularly important role at the center of this process.

The solution will require rethinking the rules of finance. The amount of capital that banks must keep in reserve will have to rise; deregulated financial institutions will have to be regulated. Yet much more will be needed than just putting the bridle back on American banks.

The next government must re-establish some notion of equity of opportunity. Investment is desperately needed in health care, education, infrastructure. The social contract and the government’s role in it should be examined anew. Addressing these challenges will be an enormous task — especially amid the bitter recession that most economists expect over the next year or so. But they must be faced. Fixing finance is merely the start.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

US and India preparing highest battle field of the world, Siachen. Are Hu, Karat squirming?

US and India preparing highest battle field of the world, Siachen. Are Hu, Karat squirming?

US Army chief visits Siachen
Shabir Ibn Yusuf

SRINAGAR, Oct 17: US Army Chief George W. Casey today visited the Siachen glacier, the highest battle field.The US army chief is on a three day visit to India that began on Thursday.

Pakistan has objected to the visit, terming Siachen as a disputed territory and has apprehensions that peace process might get derailed after his visit.

According to a senior army officer from Udhampur based Northern command, Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor accompanied Casey during the visit. “Casey was first flown over the 70 km glacier to have an aerial view and then landed there to acquaint himself about the ground realities,” the army officer said, adding that the Corps commander of Ladakh based 14 Core was already there. “He held an interaction with some army officers presently posted there,” the senior army officer added. The army officer said that his visit is for developing concept and medical aspect of fighting troopers in severe cold conditions and high altitudes, “Siachen is best for such concept developing as it is a unique battle field,” added the army officer.
He said that the US Army is presently dealing with rugged and high altitude terrain in Afghanistan. “US army wants to learn from the Indian army to fight on such inhospitable, rough and rugged terrain,” the army officer added.

Pakistani foreign Office spokesman has said about the visit of US army chief to Siachen “Any such visit to an area which is disputed and which is under discussion between Pakistan and India will certainly cast a shadow on the ongoing composite dialogue between the two neighbours,” a Foreign Office spokesman was quoted saying by the newsmen.

Here it needs to be mentioned that since September 2007, Siachen has opened up mountaineering and trekking expeditions by Indian army to the forbidding glacial heights for civilians. Earlier Israeli Army chief also visited valley and held threadbare discussions about the dealing of counterinsurgency in Jammu and Kashmir with senior army officers in Srinagar.
[Kashmir Times]

US army chief lands at Siachen

Mehboob Jeelani

Srinagar, Oct 17: United States Army Chief of Staff General George William Casey on Friday visited Siachen, the world’s highest battle battle field, army sources said.

Sources said that Casey landed in Ladakh in a US aircraft and had an hour long interaction with the Indian army officials.

After the interaction, Casey alongwith Indian army chief General Deepak Kapoor visited Siachen, world’s highest battle field at an altitude of above 20000 ft above the sea level. “He was first flown over the 70 km glacier to have an aerial view and then landed there to acquaint himself about the ground realities,” sources said.
They said that US army chief was briefed about the situation in the glacier by the local army officials. “Later he conducted geographical inspection of the world’s highest battle field,” they said, adding, “He visited the Siachen for developing concept and medical aspect of fighting in severe cold conditions and high altitudes”.

The US Army has to deal with rugged and high altitude terrain in Afghanistan and "they want to learn from the Indian army to fight on such inhospitable, rough and rugged terrain".
After staying in the glacier for few hours, Casey returned to New Delhi.
Army sources said that US army chief appreciated the role of Indian army for operating in tough weather conditions in Siachen. They said that during the interaction with Indian army officials in Ladakh and Siachen, Casey deliberated upon the need to improve the cooperation between the armies of two countries.

Earlier, few months back, a group of around 20 US army officials visited Kashmir. They later visited Ladakh, where they held deliberations with the Indian army officials.

In September Israel’s Army chief, Major General Avi Mizrahi secretly visited Kashmir and offered training programmes to Indian troops based on counter-insurgency operations.

Siachen is the highest battle field in the world where India and Pakistan have been fighting to claim control over the glacier.

Since September 2007, India has opened up mountaineering and trekking expeditions to the forbidding glacial heights for civilians.
Indian and Pakistani troops regularly traded fire along the Line of Actual Control on Siachen till a ceasefire was put in place along the frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir in late 2003.

However, more troops from both sides have lost their lives due to inclement weather condition than to bullets on Siachen.

[Rising Kashmir]

Ignoring Pak protest, US general visits Siachen
18 Oct 2008, 1304 hrs IST, Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN

WASHINGTON: Washington's response to Pakistan's complaint about the visit to Siachen Glacier in India by the US Army Chief General George Casey? Cold.

Hours after Islamabad loudly remonstrated about General Casey's reported programme to the highest battlefield in the world, which Pakistan considers a disputed territory, a senior US official in Washington confirmed the outing, while pointedly ignoring the Pakistani protest.

"As you all know, Gen Casey is in India and he was up in Siachen today," Evan Feigenbaum, deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asian affairs, told an Indian media round table on Friday on US-India relations. "Exciting things are happening in defense."

The remarks followed an unexpected protest from Islamabad over Casey's journey to the region to study Indian expertise and tactics in high-altitude battlefield conditions which could come in handy for US troops in Afghanistan's front with Pakistan.

A Pakistani foreign office spokesman said on Thursday that "any such visit to an area which is disputed and which is under discussion between Pakistan and India will certainly cast a shadow on the ongoing composite dialogue between the two neighbours."

The Pakistan objection seems to be more pro-forma than a meaningful one considering India has taken several foreign diplomats and generals to Kashmir, and even conducted military exercises in the region. It is now widely accepted in Washington that the boundaries between India and Pakistan, including the Line of Control, will not be redrawn, and any solution to the Kashmir issue will be within the ambit of the current boundaries.

While the Kashmir issue as a "dispute" has gradually receded into the background, saner voices are suggesting that the time is ripe for India and Pakistan to settle the matter broadly along existing lines.

"The Government of India has stated that maps cannot be redrawn. The Government of Pakistan has stated that the status quo is unacceptable. One way to proceed toward a settlement would be to accept both positions and devise new regional bodies that would overlay the current map of a divided Kashmir. These regional bodies could deal with trade, tourism, power generation, pilgrimages, and other matters," the Washington think-tank Stimson Center said in a recent paper on confidence building measures between the two sides.

For a section of the Pakistani establishment though, not redrawing the maps would amount to a status quo. But under pressure from Washington and the international community, Islamabad is being persuaded to move towards a solution on the existing lines, particularly in view of Pakistan's parlous situation that makes continued confrontation with India untenable.

The Stimson paper approvingly noted that a delegation of business leaders from Muzaffarabad recently has crossed the Line of Control dividing Kashmir to discuss the modalities of expanded trade. Pakistan's top peacenik rock band, Junoon, which arguably has a larger fan following in India than in its own home, was allowed by the Indian government to perform at Srinagar in the biggest musical event in the disputed valley in decades.

The objection to Gen Casey's Siachen visit is seen here as part of a series of confused responses from the out-of-kilter Pakistani establishment that seems to be working at cross purposes. While Pakistan's newly elected president Asif Ali Zardari has been pushing for peace with New Delhi, going to the extent of saying India has never been a threat to Pakistan, the military establishment, whose budgets depend on a confrontational posture with India, had been chafing at the bit.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Christist conversion marketing as multinational enterprise -- TH Chowdary

Christist conversion marketing as multinational enterprise -- TH Chowdary

October 7, 2008

The Danger of Hindu-Christian Riots in Andhra Pradesh – TH Chowdary

The weeks-long Hindu Christian riots in Kandhamal District of Orissa and similar incidents in Karnataka are not unlikely to be repeated in Andhra Pradesh very soon. In Orissa and Karnataka the riots are precipitated by the intensive, aggressive, extensive activities of hundreds of missionary organizations with thousands of fulltime, well-paid propagandists and agents. In Kandhamal District, alone there are 350 missionary organizations funded from all quarters of the world. They are engaging lots and lots of unemployed people, to inveigle poor and uneducated Hindus into Christianity by monetary rewards, given in installments related to the number of people that these full-time marketers of Christianity are able to convert. Aiding them are the fifth columns of a number of NGOs with enticing names, all funded by Christian missions from abroad? The fact that in Kandhamal District alone the Christian population has increased from 6 percent in 1970 to 27 percent in 2001, despite an Act enacted by Orissa Legislature in 1967 to prevent conversion shows the intensity of the multinational conversion, [MNC] enterprises marketing and financial clout.

2. In Karnataka, it is plain blasphemy, openly and aggressively indulged in by an MNC enterprise that has led to the Hindu-Christian strife. In Andhra Pradesh, strife is building up and will burst with great fury in not too distant a time. In Village after Village, different denominations of Christians are planting churches, recruiting converts as pastors, paying them handsomely, they are also engaging thousands of unemployed Hindu youth for propagating Christianity and gaining converts. These are being rewarded in installments. Just as the total compensation of company employees is having a fixed and varying components, fixed amount and varying amount related to the number of converts they are able to bring into Christianity.

3 A look at the Table below shows the fantastically numerous places of worship or prayers of Muslims and Christians district-wise in our State it would be seen based upon Christian population is 1.44% as per the census of 2001, there is one place of worship for seven Christians and one place of worship for 39 Muslims and one place of worship for 341 Hindus.

Existing No. of Temples, Mosques and Churches in as on 31st March 2005. (Revenue and Endowment Board of Andhra Pradesh)

District Temples Churches Mosques
Adilabad 12,346 3,347 18,482
Ananthpur 14,008 4,892 9,328
Chittor 26,120 9,098 12,320
Cuddpah 22,982 7,241 14,223
East Godavari 8,220 12,123 9,230
Guntur 9,302 16,388 5,429
Hyderabad 13,144 3,204 15,203
Kakinada 7,203 8,585 5,274
Karimnagar 4,129 1,648 9,714
Khammam 5,210 7,203 5,922
Krishna 8,929 8,462 3,769
Kurnool 6,549 5,203 9,293
Machlipatnam 5,000 8,320 6,493
Mahboobnagar 3,299 3,128 7,235
Medak 6,302 3,203 3,234
Nellore 7,993 6,782 7,323
Nalgonda 6,882 2,412 5,239
Nizamabad 4,638 3,203 9,366
Prakasham 4,255 5,583 4,932
Srikakulam 7,339 9,879 2,140
Warangal 1,393 6,320 1,342
West Godavari 3,293 5,464 2,765
Vishakapatnam 6,430 3,203 4,203
Vizianagaram 3,891 3,100 3,500

TOTAL 198,857 147,991 175,959

4 Where from is the money coming for the large number of Christians' places of worship, if the Christian population is only 1.44%? In contradiction of the census figures, leaders of Christian churches and associations having been asserting that their population is not less 10% to 12% in Andhra Pradesh and therefore every party must put up 10% to 12% candidates of their total number, from Christians. The difference between 1.44% as per GOI's census of 2001 and 10% to 12% claimed by Christians is clear indication of the fraud that the conversion enterprises are indulging in. It appears that they are telling the converts to continue to describe themselves as Hindu Scheduled Castes, so that they continue to get the benefit of reservations meant for Hindu SCs. They withhold the fact of conversion from the government records. At the same time in order to protect themselves from the exposure of fraud and continue to get benefit of reservations, they have launched a movement for get "Christian dalits". The greatest lure to get converts from Hindu Harijans is that in Christianity there are no castes. How come then that there are Dalits among Christians? Another fraud that the converters are indulging in is 70% of the Christians in Andhra Pradesh are former SCs. In the educational Institutions and medical Institutions that Christians are founding and managing, there are no reservations for "dalit Christians". But the churchmen and the converters are asking that in Hindu Institutions, including government and colleges there should be reservations to Christian dalits. 98% of the Bishops in India are from upper castes, while 70% of the Christians are former Scheduled Castes. The caste discrimination continues in Christianity. There are Reddy Christians, Kamma Christians, Brahmin Christians and Dalit Christians. They seldom inter-marry. This is another fraud for selling Christianity.

5 Almost all Hindus are feeling tremendously agitated about the intense activities of the multinational conversion enterprises, their planting of churches in Villages. Families are getting divided, so are Village populations and so will be the entire polity in the state. Wanting to know whether there is anything in the Gospels which promotes this division and strife in the people, I am surprised to find the following in the Gospel according to Luke in the New Testament Chapter 12,

51 "Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.

52 "For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two
New testament of Bible:

53: "Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother.

6 In Andhra Pradesh especially in districts of the Godavari, we are sitting on a time-bomb of Hindu-Christian strife. To prevent this, intelligentsia in the State and newspapers and media men with integrity must bring out the facts, including the conflict between 1.44% Christian population according to government on the one hand and thousands of churches and claims of Christian leaders that their population is 10% and more. Government should also find out where from the money is coming for thousands of full timers and buildings for churches. Income Tax authorities must also swing into action to assess the total cost of all the churches that are built and find out from the church owners, the sources of their funds.

7 Finally, Government of Andhra Pradesh is contributing not a small measure to the building up of strife between Christians and Hindus by subsidizing the pilgrimage of Christians to Jerusalem from the funds of the 'secular' Government of Andhra Pradesh. The 'secular' government is spending tax moneys for the performance of Christians' marriages. Government of Andhra Pradesh is not spending tax moneys for subsidizing the pilgrimage of Hindus or performance of their marriages. The TTD's 'Kalyanamastu' is financed by offerings of Hindus to the Hindu God, Balaji in Tirumala. Government of Andhra Pradesh is also spending tax moneys, performing marriages of Muslims.This way the government is contributing to the heart burning among Hindus and therefore for the building up of potential strife between the various religious communities in the state. It would be proper for any responsible government, especially the government of Andhra Pradesh which claims to be transparent and accountable to come out with a White Paper on the number of conversion enterprises, associated NGOs and finances available to the MNC enterprises to build numerous churches; how many are engaged as full timers for conversion activities and whether the Supreme Court's observation that the right to propagate guaranteed in the Constitution does not confer right to convert is being flouted by the MNC enterprises.. And since the conversion activities are conducted as a business with modern marketing methods, with multinational sources for funds, the constitutionally guaranteed freedom to propagate, profess and practice religion is being misused by the commercial activities of the multinational conversion enterprises. Right to convert oneself to another religion is legal; can such a right to convert extend to MNC enterprises, operating on commercial lines? It would be right and prudent to ban this organized marketing of religions by company-like multinational enterprise conversion missions offering the same product competitively under different brands.

Dr T H Chowdary
* Director : Center for Telecom Management & Studies
Chairman : Pragna Bharati, Andhra Pradesh
Fellow: Tata Consultancy Services & Satyam Computer Services
Former: Information Technology Advisor: Government of Andhra Pradesh
Chairman & Managing Director, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd
Plot No. 8, P&T Colony, Karkhana (Secunderabad), Hyderabad - 500 009.
Phone : +91 (40) 2784-6137,6667-1191 (Off) & 2784-3121 (Res)
Fax : +91 (40) 6667-1111, 2789-6103 (Off)
E-Mail: &

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Seige of Lankan Tamils of Kilinochchi and crocodile tears of Tamil Nadu parties.

Seige of Lankan Tamils of Kilinochchi and crocodile tears of Tamil Nadu parties.

Sadanand Menon: Who speaks on behalf of Lanka's Tamils?


Sadanand Menon / New Delhi October 17, 2008, 0:56 IST

The LTTE, by all accounts, seems to have been lassoed. The dreaded militant outfit fighting for an independent Tamil state within Sri Lanka, is said to be engaged in a last ditch battle from its encircled base in the Vanni region in Jaffna. The Lankan army claims to be a couple of kilometres short of the LTTE’s administrative headquarters in Kilinochchi.

Reporters who have covered the decades-old nationality struggle in the island know that, in Jaffna, being a ‘couple of kilometres’ away really means nothing. The LTTE is the world’s deadliest deployer of World War-II vintage Claymore mines. Almost twenty years ago, the commander of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka, Lt Gen Harkirat Singh, had told reporters that after a 48-hour gun-battle, the IPKF would succeed in flushing a building across the road which had been occupied by LTTE snipers, but that to cross the road and occupy the building could take up to a week or more, as they would have mined every square inch of access to the building.
So the din in Tamil Nadu the past days by political parties, many known to be fronts for the LTTE, for Indian intervention in Sri Lanka to prevent the “genocidal attack on the Tamil race” seem orchestrated by an invisible agency. The Centre has been served two-week’s notice to ensure a ceasefire on the island, failing which the all-party meeting chaired by Chief Minister Karunanidhi on October 14, has threatened that all 39 Lok Sabha MPs from the state would resign their seats.

For at least a quarter of a century, crocodile tears over the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils has irrigated political arterial wells in Tamil Nadu and given heroic legitimacy to a section of its leaders who, otherwise, have no other constituency. MDMK’s Vaiko has, for long, built his political fortune in the name of speaking on behalf of Lanka’s Tamils. That he simultaneously bats for a ruthless and near-fascist organisation like the banned LTTE has not disturbed anyone in particular, as he continues to forge opportunist alliances with more mainstream parties.

So too are the dubious claims to ‘Tamil interest’ expressed by one of the most undemocratic formations in Tamil politics is recent times, the PMK of Anbumani Ramadoss. Through the past twenty years of its growth, it has only exhibited caste sectarianism of the worst kind, so as to disqualify it from ever being able to speak on behalf of ‘Tamils’ as a whole.

One has not come across any of these parties pleading the cause of a genuinely democratic political process in Sri Lanka, especially among the Tamils, which they consider their own undifferentiated constituency. Never once has the brutally militarist and supremacist ideology of the LTTE been questioned. The parties in Tamil Nadu have only obediently echoed what the master ventriloquist across the Palk Strait has made them repeat.

While there can be no two opinions that Sri Lanka is today some sort of a rogue state and should be restrained from assaulting unarmed Tamil civilians, I am personally unable to categorise the move of the parties in Tamil Nadu, and the claims on behalf of Lankan Tamils, as anything but hypocritical, as I have been witness to one of the cruellest chapters in this saga which saw the marginalising, pauperisation and death of the almost 750,000 repatriates (people of Indian origin) from Sri Lanka during the ’70s and the ’80s.

In two phases, under the Shastri-Sirimavo Pact of 1964 and the Indira-Sirimavo Pact of 1974, three-quarter of a million ‘stateless people’ of Sri Lanka — the descendents of the 19th and early 20th century indentured labourers to the tea plantations — were lock-stock-and barrel repatriated to Tamil Nadu in one of the most infamous instances of human engineering in recent times.

The reception they had from fellow-Tamils was less than human. It has been documented that they were rapidly dispossessed of their meagre belongings. A few found ‘jobs’ in the exploitative special ‘rehabilitation’ schemes created by the state government. A conservative estimate by a fact-finding team surmised that at least 25% died within the first three years of landing in India, of starvation.

It is a memory that cannot be erased. The claims now by Tamil Nadu’s parties on behalf of Lankan Tamils, rings hollow.

Sri Lanka steps up air strikes on rebels, food convoy blocked

9 hours ago (17 Oct. 2008)

COLOMBO (AFP) — Sri Lanka's military on Thursday stepped up attacks against suspected Tamil Tiger positions in the island's north and accused the rebels of blocking a UN-escorted food convoy.

The UN's World Food Programme was escorting a convoy of trucks taking essentials for hundreds of thousands of people in rebel-held areas on Thursday when it fell victim to a roadside bomb attack, the defence ministry said.

"Reports state the LTTE has also launched an artillery attack at these unarmed lorries," the ministry said, referring to the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
No one was hurt and the convoy returned to the government-held town of Vavuniya, the ministry said.

The UN office in Colombo said separately "that a major food convoy into the north of the island has been forced to turn back due to fighting," without explaining the nature of the problem.

The UN office said it would immediately seek "renewed security assurances from the two sides" before attempting to send the 50-truck convoy carrying 750 tonnes of supplies.
Earlier Thursday, the rebels accused the military of bombing bridges in rebel-held areas in a bid to block food reaching civilians.

Most international aid agencies have quit the troubled region after a government order, leaving only the International Committee of the Red Cross. The WFP's action was a one-off, and they no longer have a presence in the area.

Meanwhile, the military said it had used jets to bomb an arms store and an LTTE command centre in the north, the ministry said.

It gave no details of any new casualties.

The latest air strikes by government forces came as ground troops were battling to capture the rebel political capital of Kilinochchi, 330 kilometres (210 miles) north of the capital Colombo.

Security forces say they are on the outskirts of the town.

Troops have killed 7,553 rebels since Sri Lanka pulled out of a Norwegian-backed truce in January, according to the ministry. During the same period, 748 soldiers have been killed in combat.

The figures cannot be independently verified.

Forces march to final victory with strong political backing
Daily News, Colombo, 17 Oct. 2008 Ranil Wijayapala, Defence Column

Troops are at the peak of their morale as they brave the adverse weather conditions and stiff resistance from the LTTE while observing the sucesses of their months-long effort to weaken the LTTE to their lowest ebb.

The months long efforts of the LTTE to stop the advance of the troops into their strongholds in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu are now becoming futile, with all their huge earth bunds falling to the Security Forces in all three major battlefronts in the Wanni, compelling the LTTE to give serious thoughts about their existence in the remaining areas they control in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts.
What is left for the LTTE is to engage in delaying tactics, to delay the certain defeat they are going to face in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu in the final battle now on in the Wanni.

That was why the LTTE is trying to hang on to the Tamil Nadu politicians who are trying to score out of the Sri Lankan situation to strengthen their Tamil vote base for the upcoming general elections in India, to come out of the situation.

Though it seems that South Indian politicians are pressurizing the Centre to urge Sri Lanka to stop the military thrust on the LTTE in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, at a time certain defeat is looming for the LTTE, the same type of pressure is also there on the Indian Government not to bow down to the politicians backing LTTE terrorism which had a major impact on the Indian politics during the past two decades. As President Mahinda Rajapaksa very clearly stated in his recent media interviews, military offensives are not at all aimed at the Tamils but against the LTTE which had become an obstacle for ethnic amity and the development of the country.

He has also communicated to the Indian Government that all precautionary measures have been taken to ensure the safety of the Tamil civilians entrapped in the Wanni and also urging the Indian Government to urge the LTTE to enter into mainstream politics as all avenues are now open for them to settle for a political solution.

The type of pressure to the Central Government of India by disgruntled politicians in Tamil Nadu can be understood once we go through the ground realities in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu battlefronts.

The LTTE is confronting a situation akin to the situation they faced during the Vadamarachchi operation in 1987 in which the LTTE was about to crushed by the Security Forces on all fronts. The Indian intervention in the North East conflict in 1987 came amidst such a situation.

But things have changed so fast under the present context as for the first time the Government has taken steps to restore democracy in the Eastern province with the establishment of the Eastern Provincial Council which saw the election of militant turned politician Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan as Chief Minister.

Apart form that one time militant renegade LTTE Eastern commander Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman has also been appointed as a Member of Parliament representing the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance Government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has also invited Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran to lay down arms and join the democratic path at the All Party Conference held on Saturday, focusing on finding a political solution to the North East conflict.
So, on the part of the Government a conducive atmosphere has been set to go for a political solution to the North East conflict with all avenues open for the LTTE to enter into the democratic path giving up violence and without sacrificing more cadres to the battlefront in the face of certain defeat.

The pressure should be exerted on the LTTE but not the Government of Sri Lanka as it is engaged in eliminating one of most ruthless terror outfits which is ready to use its cadres as human bombs violating the basic human rights of the Tamil community which they represent.

What the international community and the Indian Government should understand at this juncture is that the LTTE is ‘concerned’ about the plight of the Tamil civilians entrapped in Wanni and exerting pressure on Tamil Nadu politicians to raise their voice about the civilians as there is no other way for them to escape certain defeat.
On the other hand they have been isolated internationally with all Governments extending their support towards the Lankan Government’s efforts to eradicate terrorism.

The Government of Russia also extended their fullest cooperation to the Government’s effort to eradicate terrorism when a Sri Lankan defence delegation lead by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa visited Russia last week.

The Sri Lankan Defence delegation met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Deputy Defence Minister General Nikolai Makarou and the Russian Intelligence Chief during this visit.

The discussions had focused on sharing military intelligence and military training and the implementation of existing defence cooperation agreements.

The Sri Lankan delegation has explained the current situation in the country and the Russian Government has given an assurance that they will stand by the Sri Lankan Government in their efforts to eliminate terrorism from Sri Lanka.

The Australian Government has indicated that they are also seriously considering banning the LTTE as a terror organisation when Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama met his Australian counterpart this week.

Amidst the LTTE losing its international support except for a few elements which had been misled by the LTTE, it is also now on the verge of facing certain defeat in the Wanni with troops advancing from all three fronts to crush them in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts.

The Task Force -I or the 58 Division under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva made a major breakthrough on the Nachchikuda front in the west of Kilinochchi district. The efforts the LTTE had taken for the past few months creating huge earth bunds to delay the troops have become futile with the capture of the Earth bund from Pandiveddikulam to Vannerikulam.

Following the break of the earth bund from the Karambakulam area a few weeks back the troops attached to the 583 Brigade under the command of Colonel Suraj Banshajaya have now advanced nearly four and half Kilometres northwards from the massive earth bund in Karmabkulam.

Task Force-I or the 58 Division captured 5.5 Kilometres of the Nachchikuda Akkarayankulam Kokavil road from Pandiveddikulam to Vannerikulam. It was from that stretch the troops attached to the 583 Brigade had advanced northwards.
With the capture of this relatively high ground connecting Pandiveddikulam to Vannerikulam troops are now in control of tactically important locations to control Tiger movements in Kilinochchi West.

The advancing troops have captured Mannikulam village which is a five way junction four Kilometres north of Karambakulam area. Mannikulam is a vital LTTE location from which the LTTE could control many areas in the Western flank of Kilinochchi.
The five roads leading from Mannikulam connect to the A-32 road 11th and 12th mile posts and to the Pooneryn - Paranthan road from the North and to the Akkarayankulam road from the South.

With these advances, the LTTE is making desperate attempts to defend this territory by inducting their well trained cadres into the front using all their resources. Two vehicles bringing such Imran Pandyan cadres have been targeted by the troops operating in the Mannikulam area last Saturday on two occasions killing 18 cadres.

The LTTE had moved in without knowing that troops have moved into the area.

Apart from this the troops have also advanced towards Jayapuram village located west of Pandiveddikulam reaching close to the A-32 road from the north of Nachchikuda.
Troops attached to the 58 Division are poised to cut off the A-32 Mannar Pooneryn road from north of Nachchikuda to isolate the Nachchikuda Sea Tiger base.

With these developments the Tigers now entrapped in Nachchikuda are apparently withdrawing removing all their positions. Intelligence reports indicate a hive of activities in the Nachchikuda area within the past few days.

They have been confused as many Tiger movements along the A-32 road north of Nachchikuda have been targeted by commando troops last week. Once the Military gains the A-32 road the LTTE automatically loses Nachchikuda which has been defended by them for months having constructed huge earth bunds.

Once troops hit the A-32 road from the North of Nachchikuda the LTTE will be left with only Valaipadu and Palavi jungle areas. Once troops move into the jungle patch in Palavi they can easily control the Tiger activities and also Sea Tiger activities in the Valaipadu Sea Tiger base from which the LTTE had unloaded a consignment of arms and weapons to be transported to the Kilinochchi side.

Therefore, the LTTE is now undergoing a confusing situation as they cannot take control of the troops movement in the western part of the Kilinochchi district as gateways has already been opened for the troops to march towards Pooneryn direction.
This move has become vital at this decisive moment in which the LTTE is trying to get the maximum political pressure on the Government through the volatile political situation in Tamil Nadu as such a move will enable them to control supplies from the South Indian side to the north western coast.

These developments on the battlefront have compelled the LTTE to seriously consider their defence system as more than 10 of their earth bunds so far have been captured by the 58 Division during their operations in the Mannar Rice Bowl area and in Viddathalthivu, Iluppakadavai, Vellankulam and Mulangavil.

Even in Kilinochchi south west the LTTE is trying to delay the troops advance by constructing a huge earth bund. But troops are now in control of the section of this earth bund in the south west of Kilinochchi and frequently confronting the LTTE there.
By this time the LTTE is once again trying to save their well trained cadres having inducted junior cadres without proper training to the Kilinochchi south front. But this proved futile as many of these cadres have started to flee the Tiger forward defences in Kilinochchi south without obeying orders of senior Tiger cadres.

It was a clear signal that the LTTE is fast losing control over their cadres and also the civilian population as they are well aware that the LTTE trying to exploit their lives for an unwinnable war at this stage.

Amidst this situation the troops operating in the South of Kilinochchi are making progress though they have not shown a rapid progress within the past few days. The troops are now preparing for the final stage of the battle as they are moving towards a built-up area in the Kilinochchi town after passing jungle terrain.

The 574 and 573 Brigades under the command of Lt. Colonel Senaka Wijesuriya and Lt. Colonel Prathap Thillekeratne are overlooking the LTTE movements on the A-9 road. They have been able to control LTTE movements along the A-9 road as they have taken the stretch of A-9 road from Mankulam to Murikandi.

For the past one week the troops have been able to attack eight Tiger Tractors moving along this stretch of A-9 road.

The troops attached to the 59 Division too are making steady progress towards Mullaitivu having captured half of the area coming under Nayaru lagoon and a huge earth bund constructed encircling the Kumulamunai and Alampil areas.

Air Force fighter jets and gunship helicopters are providing close assistance to ground troops taking on to LTTE logistics and military bases frequently. One such Tiger facility where the LTTE had a large number of their earth moving equipment came under attack of SLAF fighter jets.

Therefore troops, with the strong backing of the political leadership who are firmly standing behind their action without succumbing to local and international pressure, are now in a strong position to face the final battle to crush the LTTE on Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu fronts to see an end to the two and half decade long conflict in the country. Is the Eelam dream over? Sheela Bhatt.

'Calling Bajrang Dal's action as terrorism is utter nonsense'

'Calling Bajrang Dal's action as terrorism is utter nonsense'

October 16, 2008 | 13:59 IST

If there is one issue that has replaced terrorism and the slumping markets that is the attacks on the Christians which, according to Hindutva activists, is sparked off by forcible conversions. It all started in Orissa and then gradually spread to Karnataka and now even Tamil Nadu.

The issue has become a hot political potato with the United Progressive Alliance considering a ban on the Bajrang Dal for its reign of terror and the saffron brigade daring it to go ahead with the ban.

In an interview with Special Correspondent Vicky Nanjappa, D N Murthy, general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, talks about religious conversions, the violence that it sparked off, and also the allegations of terrorism being made against some Hindutva activists.

The issue has spiralled out of control. So much violence and no solution in sight. The Union government and the international community have reacted very sharply to the violence in Orissa and Karnataka. Being a very senior man in the VHP, what are your views on this?

You call the incidents in Karnataka as violence. A few glass panes were broken and you call that terrorism. In Karnataka not a single person was injured. What are these people talking about? It is ridiculous. Glass panes of cinema theatres are broken due to certain disputes. Can you call this terrorism? Did the Union government react in this manner? The people are just protesting against those indulging in forcible conversion. That is all.

The Bajrang Dal is being seen as the perpetrator of this violence. The government came very close to banning it. What do you have to say about banning the Bajrang Dal?
Ask the Congress this question. All right, tell me something. They planned to ban it but were they able to? What allegations are they making against the Bajrang Dal? There is no consensus even among the allies of the Congress on this issue.

An act of terror does not necessarily have to limit itself to bomb blasts. Violence and destruction in any form is also terrorism. Since the Bajrang Dal has indulged in violent acts don't you think it classifies as terrorism?

Bajrang Dal and terrorism? Whoever says this has no common sense. There are so many terror attacks in the country in which so many innocent lives have been lost. The security agencies are unable to nab the real culprits who always manage to give the slip. As I said earlier, in Karnataka not a single person was injured and you call the Bajrang Dal's actions as terrorism. It is utter nonsense.

What about Orissa? People were killed and raped over there.

In Orissa the people were just reacting to forcible conversions. Over there forcible conversions have damaged the lives of thousands of people and there were protests against it.

But Orissa or Karnataka, violence is violence. Are you saying the VHP justifies the violence in Orissa or even in Karnataka?

We do not believe in violence. I am aware that nothing can be achieved by violence. The Bajrang Dal is protesting against conversions. But get this clearly into your head. Our direction to the Bajrang Dal is simple and straight-forward. It is Seva (service), Samskara (culture)and Suraksha (security). They have been asked to follow these three points.

If you do not approve of the violence and your message to the Bajrang Dal is that of peace and protection, then who is behind the madness that has claimed so many lives?
Yes, there were protests against conversions. If there were instances of horrific violence then it was due to personal scuffles in some areas. If one of two persons have indulged in acts of serious violence can you blame the entire organisation? The police force is meant to protect but there are some policemen who misbehave. Does that mean you brand the entire organisation and brand the entire police force as rotten?
But what about those one or two people? They were also part of the Bajrang Dal and they too know about Seva, Samskara, and Suraksha. Will the VHP keep quiet and not do anything about them?

Did I say we will keep quiet? We will surely act against them.

The state convener of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Professor M B Puranik, told me in an interview recently that once a Hindu converts his loyalties shift. Do you agree with that?

Yes, the loyalties do shift. But I would also like to add that everyone has a right to practice a religion. But nobody has the right to convert. If a conversion is based on an ideological acceptance of a new way of life, it is fine. But conversions in large numbers or mass conversions are deplorable. I can understand when an educated man converts. He can think and decide for himself what each religion has to offer. Why are missionaries targeting slum-dwellers and tribals? What can these people understand?
Do you have proof that conversions are really taking place? If yes please give me figures.

I cannot give you the figures off-hand. But, yes, the census says it all. The number of Christians has gone up all of a sudden in the past few years. Looking at the census I could easily say that the rise in population is just not proportionate. It is really hard to tell the difference between a Hindu and a Hindu who has converted.

The missionaries have found a way of duping the people. The women who have been converted continue to wear saris, bangles, and bindis, and this is not different when compared to the way a Hindu woman dresses. Even if these persons are found in a �church during mass, the missionaries claim they have just come there for prayers. This is the way in which they dupe the people.

How much of the problem has been solved after these sudden outbursts? Or let me put it this way. Will the problem ever be solved?

The problem surely will not be solved unless and until both Christians and Muslims agree that all other religions are great too and their path is not the only path to reach God. In India our practice is to welcome all great thoughts. We believe that all religions' ways are towards God. The problem is that both Christians and Muslims think it is only their way which takes people ultimately to God. They say theirs is the right path and the only way to attain salvation. The problem will be solved only if Muslims and Christians agree that all religions are great and have the same goal.
Many have said it is unfair that while Muslims get blamed for terror strikes, Hindu activists who indulge in bomb blasts as in Nanded and Kanpur get away. What is your reaction to this?

If they think Hindu activists are involved in terror activities then let them probe. Nobody is stopping them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Evangelicals blaspheme Hinduism. Media abetting the crime -- HAF response to media.

Evangelicals blaspheme Hinduism. Media abetting the crime – HAF responses to media

“Violence in India is fueled by religious and economic divide,” by Hari Kumar and Heather Timmons (Asia Pacific, September 3)

The Hindu American Foundation wrote this letter to the New York Times in response to an article that presented a skewed and inaccurate detailing of the murder/assasination of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and the riots that subsequently ensued between Christian and Hindu tribal communities. The original article was published on September 3.

To the Editor:

"Violence in India Is Fueled by Religious and Economic Divide," by Hari Kumar and Heather Timmons (Asia Pacific, September 3), is dually disturbing: in the depiction of tragic killings and for its glaring omissions and errors. In labeling a Hindu ascetic and reformer a "radical," while failing to acknowledge his varied social services, the Times alarmingly seems to justify a brutal assassination. Independent reports that the Hindu and Christian convert riots are actually the brutal endgame resulting from inter-tribal rivalries intensified by the pursuit of ludicrously complex affirmative action benefits was also ignored in the report.

One can only wonder why the Times sought to present a story of Christian victimization by "radical" Hindus, when the sordid events playing out in India are the obvious results of unethical religious conversions that polarize families and communities and aggravate long-standing social conflicts.

Aseem R. Shukla, M.D.
Member, Board of Directors
Hindu American Foundation

"Hindu Threat to Christians: Convert or Flee," by Somini Sengupta,October 13, 2008.

Dear Editor, New York Times:

Re: "Hindu Threat to Christians: Convert or Flee," by Somini Sengupta,October 13, 2008.

As Hindu Americans, we unequivocally condemn and repudiate all of the violence consuming Orissa today. That the New York Times would engage in blatant, inflammatory race-baiting with the front-page headline above is shocking. If the intention is to spuriously allege that marauding Hindus across India are contemporary actors emulating the Crusades or the Islamic conquests--then mission accomplished!

Telling are the omissions in Sengupta's reporting, that a) four others were brutally killed with Swami Laxmananda, including a female monk; b) Swami Laxmananda was more than a "preacher"--he was a Hindu social worker devoted to social upliftment in a neglected region; and c) all of the ostensibly Maoist assassins arrested in the killings of the Swami and his aides were Christian converts.

The tragedy unfolding in Orissa state results from the venomousamalgam of the Swami's murder, and Hindu radicals in the area inflamed by evangelicals blaspheming Hinduism as they seek to meet quotas of new converts in a wild west battle for souls. Pluralism and respect for the tribals' indigenous Hindu traditions became the first casualty that opened the door to the madness seen today.

Are Pakistan's nuclear warheads safe? -- Gurmeet Kanwal.

Are Pakistan's nuclear warheads safe?

Gurmeet Kanwal | October 14, 2008 | 12:16 IST

Pakistan is facing a grave internal security crisis as radical extremists are gradually gaining ground. The crisis is attributable to a large extent to the resurgence of Islamist fundamentalist forces and the army's inability to fight them effectively. Consequently, the spectre of Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorist organisations has once again come to the fore. Western commentators are calling for contingency plans to physically secure or destroy the nuclear warheads in the event of a meltdown in the country.

The possession of nuclear weapons by Islamist fundamentalist terrorists will pose a grave danger to international security. The Al Qaeda has declared war on the United States and it allies, and Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri are known to have made attempts to buy nuclear warheads. Whether the Al Qaeda leadership will actually detonate nuclear warheads over civilian targets or plan to use them for coercion is not known; however, given their predilection for senseless terrorist strikes, they are unlikely to be averse to actually exploding a bomb or two to achieve their nefarious goals.
Among Pakistan's neighbouring countries, India will be particularly vulnerable if Islamist terrorists and their Al Qaeda and Taliban brothers ever lay their hands on Pakistan's nuclear warheads as it is one of the nations that the Al Qaeda has named as an enemy. Being a contiguous land neighbour, it is also easier to target even if sophisticated delivery systems like ballistic missiles are not available.

Islamist terrorists can gain possession of nuclear warheads by physically breaching the security ring around them, by subverting the personnel on guard duty or if they succeed in overthrowing the regime in power in Islamabad through a coup. The Pakistani military authorities are extremely concerned about such eventualities and have made elaborate arrangements to ensure that all their nuclear warheads are stored safely. They claim that carefully formulated personnel reliability policies and electronic safety mechanisms have been developed and incorporated by Pakistan's Nuclear Command Authority.
General Musharraf and his lieutenants have reiterated several times that Pakistan's nuclear warheads are safe and are in no danger of falling into the hands of radical extremists. The Pakistani ministry of foreign affairs said in a recent statement: 'As a responsible nuclear weapon state Pakistan has always attached great significance to the security of its strategic assets. These assets are completely safe and secure under multi-layered security and Command and Control structures that are fully indigenous.'

Pakistan's nuclear warheads (about 30 to 50 in number) are reported to be stored at up to six separate locations. The warheads are stored separately from the launchers so as to guard against accidents and unauthorised use. Luongo and Salik have written that the warheads are equipped with electronic locks (Permissive Action Links). A three-tier security system has been instituted for the physical protection of the various components of the warheads.
The fissionable atomic core made of highly enriched uranium and the high explosive trigger assembly are handled only by the respective agencies and are in their custody. These are stored in fortified underground storage sites. Entry and exit into these "bunkers" is controlled by armed and well-equipped specially selected and meticulously trained personnel of the Security Division of the Strategic Plans Division who form the second tier. As part of the Personnel Reliability Programme, these personnel are screened carefully before induction, are kept under constant surveillance and are frequently rotated.

The third tier comprises a well-guarded and fortified perimeter fence with strictly controlled entry. Most of these sites have air defence assets allotted to them to defend against attacks from the air. Personnel selected for the security of the outer perimeter are reported to belong to elite infantry battalions of the Pakistani army. The possibility of any of these personnel being subverted is guarded against by counter-intelligence teams. Military regimes have very strong survival instincts and the Musharraf regime has ensured that hard-line radical elements are ruthlessly weeded out from the nuclear security detail. Hence, it can be concluded that if some rogue elements were to try to gain control over the nuclear warheads, they would have to be prepared to fight their way through several layers of highly motivated personnel who are armed to the teeth.

The delivery systems of Pakistan's Strategic Forces Command, comprising Chinese supplied M-11 and M-9 and the North Korean Nodong and Taepo Dong nuclear-capable surface-to-surface missiles and their launchers, are based at separate locations. These sites or "hides" are well-dispersed to ensure that maximum warheads survive a conventional air attack during war. They are also well defended against possible commando raids.
In the improbable eventuality that radical hard-liners take over Pakistan, their rag-tag fighters will have to fight the elite army guards to the bitter end before they can lay their hands on the delivery systems. A terrorist organisation must get hold of both a nuclear warhead and a launch system and must acquire the expertise to mate the warhead with the launcher. Or, it must smuggle a warhead undetected to the target and somehow break the electronic code to activate it. These are all extremely complex challenges as highly sophisticated expertise is required to test, mate, activate and launch a nuclear warhead.

Soon after General Musharraf's military coup in October 1999, reports of joint US-Israel plans to seize control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons had made headlines the world over. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh of Watergate fame had written in The New Yorker that commandos of Israel's elite Unit 262 and US Special Forces had been rehearsing plans to prevent Pakistan's nuclear warheads from falling into the hands of Islamist fundamentalists within and outside the Pakistan army. It had even been speculated that India would willingly provide logistics support for such a venture.

Similar stories have again been appearing in the media, particularly the Western press. Contingency plans are reported to exist for the Special Forces to "take out" or "secure" Pakistan's nuclear weapons, even though it is acknowledged that it is an unbelievably daunting problem. Thomas E Ricks quotes retired Marine Colonel Gary Anderson as having said ('Calculating the Risks in Pakistan', Washington Post, December 2, 2007): 'The bottom line is, it's the nightmare scenario... It (Pakistan) has loose nukes, hard to find, potentially in the hands of Islamic extremists, and there aren't a lot of good military options.'
Planners in the Pentagon must appreciate that even though Pakistan is bleeding from serious blows struck by the Frankenstein monster of radical extremism, it still has a professionally trained combat-ready army that will fight tooth and nail to defend Pakistan's strategic assets against foreign intervention. Hence, a joint US-Israel commando operation to secure or take out Pakistan's nuclear warheads in the event of a serious crisis is a far-fetched idea that does not have even a remote chance of succeeding.

However, there is a possibility that an Islamist fundamentalist regime might overthrow the unstable civilian government with support from a large faction of the army. In such an eventuality, the US and its allies may justifiably form another 'coalition of the willing' to bomb the nuclear warhead storage sites in Pakistan from the air. The coalition forces could employ cruise missiles and fighter-bombers from stand-off ranges to physically destroy the warheads with deep penetration bombs. Several repeat bombing runs would be required after strike damage assessment and even then there will be no guarantee that all the warheads would be destroyed or rendered ineffective.
In fact, a non-kinetic option that employs high-energy microwaves to "fry" the electronic circuitry of the nuclear warheads may also be considered, either in conjunction with physical destruction of the warheads or as a stand-alone strike. These options presuppose that accurate information of the locations of all the warhead storage sites would be available in advance for targeting. The intelligence fiasco about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein's Iraq and other recent revelations do not generate confidence that this might be so.

Some Pakistani commentators have been scathing in their criticism of Western doubts about the safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear warheads. Adnan Gill has called it mass hysteria and loose talk ('Loose Nukes or Loose Talk?'Asian Tribune, November 23, 2007). However, others like Farah Zahra make out a case for bolstering Pakistan's nuclear safety ('Bolstering Nuclear Safety',The News, October 25, 2007).
Indian political leaders and analysts have shown restraint in commenting on Pakistan's nuclear worries. M K Narayanan, India's national security advisor, has rated the probability of Pakistan's nuclear warheads falling into the hands of extremist elements as remote. Bharat Karnad laments the lack of Indian capability to intervene deep inside Pakistan if it becomes necessary to do so ('Nuclear Commando and Control',�Asian Age, January 17, 2008): The Indian Army has ten Special Forces battalions but lacks the capability to inject commando teams deep into Pakistan via high-altitude air-drop or by helicopters flying extremely fast and low to avoid Pakistani radar. It is a moot point whether a weak coalition government in India will have the political courage to join a coalition of the willing to secure or destroy Pakistan's nuclear warheads.

The clear and present danger, however, and one that continues to be underestimated, is from nuclear terrorism. Terrorist organisations may assemble radiological dispersal devices-- 'dirty bombs' in which high explosives (RDX or TNT) are used to blow up and scatter uranium or other radioactive materials over a densely populated area, or to pollute a major water source. Crude RDDs do not require a very high degree of technological sophistication and can be assembled quite easily. Spent nuclear fuel rods that are stolen and commercial radiation waste from cancer facilities in large hospitals and irradiation centres could be used.
Though such dirty bombs will not cause horrendous casualties initially, they will cause long-term damage from residual nuclear radiation. They will also serve to create a fear psychosis that will add to the paranoia that has already got a deep hold over ordinary people in this age of terrorism. If there is even the slightest suspicion that the terrorist organisation that orchestrated the attack had the backing of a state, it could set into motion a chain of events that may eventually lead to an inter-state conflict. It is imperative that commercial nuclear materials are also stored safely and are fully accounted for at all times.

Another area of concern is that one or more Pakistani nuclear scientists with fundamentalist inclinations may have volunteered to work for the al Qaeda, as has been reported off and on over the last few years. Three Pakistani nuclear scientists were arrested and handed over to US intelligence agencies for questioning in 2001. Two of the three were senior scientists who had set up an NGO called Ummah Tameer-e-Nau (Reconstruction of the Muslim Ummah) in Afghanistan after retirement. This NGO, with its membership comprising mainly nuclear scientists and military officers, is known to have had close links with the Taliban and the Al Qaeda.
It is possible that these scientists may have been actively engaged in assembling rudimentary nuclear weapons for the Afghan terrorists with fissionable material smuggled from the former Soviet states. Other reports have affirmed that at least one Central Asian nuclear weapons expert works for Osama bin Laden. Hence, the possibility that a crude, untested, nuclear warhead may have been developed by bin Laden's Al Qaeda cannot be ruled out.

Finally, contingency plans must be debated, analysed, made, approved, rehearsed and readied for execution to meet unforeseen eventualities, the safety and security of nuclear weapons is best assured by the country to which these belong. Maximum cooperation must be extended by the NWS to Pakistan by way of technology, intelligence and training to help Pakistan to secure its own nuclear warheads. While the world waits with bated breath for the crisis in Pakistan to blow over, the government of Pakistan and the Pakistani army would do well to ensure that all possible measures are adopted to further enhance the safety and security of the country's nuclear warheads and delivery means.

The writer is Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi

Monday, October 13, 2008

Kandhamal: Mischievous, untruthful report in NY Times by Somini Sengupta

The report is mischievous because it reports anecdotes without an understanding of the root of Hindu rage in Kandhamal: assassination of Swami Lakshmananda Sarasvati and 4 of his associates. There is also no reporting of the facts brought out by expert investigators in many reports on the situation created by christists indulging in unlawful activities and in tearing asunder the Hindu community through conversions through allurements and other means.

The fundamental question of who assassinated Swami Lakshmananda remains unanswered by this investigative reporter. It doesn't behove of objectivity of New York Times to allow such flippant reporting to pass muster on its newspaper pages.

Is the US media also in league with the evangelising christists?

To show the nature of the half-truths indulged in by Somini Sengupta, I append the report of Ashok Sahu, former Addl. Director General of Police. New York Times should publish this report of Ashok Sahu in its entirely to demonstrate fairplay in journalistic ethic.

It is time that the readers also know the murderous activities of the Church.


Kandhamal: Mischievous report in NY Times by Somini Sengupta

October 13, 2008

Hindu Threat to Christians: Convert or Flee

By SOMINI SENGUPTA (New York Times 14 Oct. 2008)

BOREPANGA, India — The family of Solomon Digal was summoned by neighbors to what serves as a public square in front of the village tea shop.

They were ordered to get on their knees and bow before the portrait of a Hindu preacher. They were told to turn over their Bibles, hymnals and the two brightly colored calendar images of Christ that hung on their wall. Then, Mr. Digal, 45, a Christian since childhood, was forced to watch his Hindu neighbors set the items on fire.

“ ‘Embrace Hinduism, and your house will not be demolished,’ ” Mr. Digal recalled being told on that Wednesday afternoon in September. “ ‘Otherwise, you will be killed, or you will be thrown out of the village.’ ”

India, the world’s most populous democracy and officially a secular nation, is today haunted by a stark assault on one of its fundamental freedoms. Here in eastern Orissa State, riven by six weeks of religious clashes, Christian families like the Digals say they are being forced to abandon their faith in exchange for their safety.

The forced conversions come amid widening attacks on Christians here and in at least five other states across the country, as India prepares for national elections next spring.

The clash of faiths has cut a wide swath of panic and destruction through these once quiet hamlets fed by paddy fields and jackfruit trees. Here in Kandhamal, the district that has seen the greatest violence, more than 30 people have been killed, 3,000 homes burned and over 130 churches destroyed, including the tin-roofed Baptist prayer hall where the Digals worshiped. Today it is a heap of rubble on an empty field, where cows blithely graze.

Across this ghastly terrain lie the singed remains of mud-and-thatch homes. Christian-owned businesses have been systematically attacked. Orange flags (orange is the sacred color of Hinduism) flutter triumphantly above the rooftops of houses and storefronts.

India is no stranger to religious violence between Christians, who make up about 2 percent of the population, and India’s Hindu-majority of 1.1 billion people. But this most recent spasm is the most intense in years.

It was set off, people here say, by the killing on Aug. 23 of a charismatic Hindu preacher known as Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, who for 40 years had rallied the area’s people to choose Hinduism over Christianity.

The police have blamed Maoist guerrillas for the swami’s killing. But Hindu radicals continue to hold Christians responsible.

In recent weeks, they have plastered these villages with gruesome posters of the swami’s hacked corpse. “Who killed him?” the posters ask. “What is the solution?”

Behind the clashes are long-simmering tensions between equally impoverished groups: the Panas and Kandhas. Both original inhabitants of the land, the two groups for ages worshiped the same gods. Over the past several decades, the Panas for the most part became Christian, as Roman Catholic and Baptist missionaries arrived here more than 60 years ago, followed more recently by Pentecostals, who have proselytized more aggressively.

Meanwhile, the Kandhas, in part through the teachings of Swami Laxmanananda, embraced Hinduism. The men tied the sacred Hindu white thread around their torsos; their wives daubed their foreheads with bright red vermilion. Temples sprouted.

Hate has been fed by economic tensions as well, as the government has categorized each group differently and given them different privileges.

The Kandhas accused the Panas of cheating to obtain coveted quotas for government jobs. The Christian Panas, in turn, say their neighbors have become resentful as they have educated themselves and prospered.

Their grievances have erupted in sporadic clashes over the past 15 years, but they have exploded with a fury since the killing of Swami Laxmanananda.

Two nights after his death, a Hindu mob in the village of Nuagaon dragged a Catholic priest and a nun from their residence, tore off much of their clothing and paraded them through the streets.

The nun told the police that she had been raped by four men, a charge the police say was borne out by a medical examination. Yet no one was arrested in the case until five weeks later, after a storm of media coverage. Today, five men are under arrest in connection with inciting the riots. The police say they are trying to find the nun and bring her back here to identify her attackers.

Given a chance to explain the recent violence, Subash Chauhan, the state’s highest-ranking leader of Bajrang Dal, a Hindu radical group, described much of it as “a spontaneous reaction.”

He said in an interview that the nun had not been raped but had had regular consensual sex.

On Sunday evening, as much of Kandhamal remained under curfew, Mr. Chauhan sat in the hall of a Hindu school in the state capital, Bhubaneshwar, beneath a huge portrait of the swami. A state police officer was assigned to protect him round the clock. He cupped a trilling Blackberry in his hand.

Mr. Chauhan denied that his group was responsible for forced conversions and in turn accused Christian missionaries of luring villagers with incentives of schools and social services.

He was asked repeatedly whether Christians in Orissa should be left free to worship the god of their choice. “Why not?” he finally said, but he warned that it was unrealistic to expect the Kandhas to politely let their Pana enemies live among them as followers of Jesus.

“Who am I to give assurance?” he snapped. “Those who have exploited the Kandhas say they want to live together?”

Besides, he said, “they are Hindus by birth.”

Hindu extremists have held ceremonies in the country’s indigenous belt for the past several years intended to purge tribal communities of Christian influence.

It is impossible to know how many have been reconverted here, in the wake of the latest violence, though a three-day journey through the villages of Kandhamal turned up plenty of anecdotal evidence.

A few steps from where the nun had been attacked in Nuagaon, five men, their heads freshly shorn, emerged from a soggy tent in a relief camp for Christians fleeing their homes.

The men had also been summoned to a village meeting in late August, where hundreds of their neighbors stood with machetes in hand and issued a firm order: Get your heads shaved and bow down before our gods, or leave this place.

Trembling with fear, Daud Nayak, 56, submitted to a shaving, a Hindu sign of sacrifice. He drank, as instructed, a tumbler of diluted cow dung, considered to be purifying.

In the eyes of his neighbors, he reckoned, he became a Hindu.

In his heart, he said, he could not bear it.

All five men said they fled the next day with their families. They refuse to return.

In another village, Birachakka, a man named Balkrishna Digal and his son, Saroj, said they had been summoned to a similar meeting and told by Hindu leaders who came from nearby villages that they, too, would have to convert. In their case, the ceremony was deferred because of rumors of Christian-Hindu clashes nearby.

For the time being, the family had placed an orange flag on their mud home. Their Hindu neighbors promised to protect them.

Here in Borepanga, the family of Solomon Digal was not so lucky. Shortly after they recounted their Sept. 10 Hindu conversion story to a reporter in the dark of night, the Digals were again summoned by their neighbors. They were scolded and fined 501 rupees, or about $12, a pinching sum here.

The next morning, calmly clearing his cauliflower field, Lisura Paricha, one of the Hindu men who had summoned the Digals, confirmed that they had been penalized. Their crime, he said, was to talk to outsiders.

Murder of Mahatma by the Church

By Ashok Sahu, IPS (Retd.),

Former Addl. Director General of Police

On the 23rd August, while doing pooja on Janmasthami, the most sacred day for Hindus, militant Christians entered into the Ashram premises at about 8.00 p.m. and pumped bullets from an AK-47 assault rifle on the frail body of an 84 years old Swamijee (Vedanta Keshari Swami Laxanananda Saraswati) at Jalespata Vanabashi Kanyashram in Kondhmal District of Orissa. After killing him brutally the Christian assailants have cut various parts of Swamijee's body by chisel and axe, it appears. Along with him others who tried to rescue Swamijee got killed are Sadhwi Bhakti Mata who was in over all charge of the Kalyan Ashram, Kishore Baba, Amritanand Baba and a visitor guardian of an inmate of the school. The dead body of Matajee was also defiled by cut injuries which was most brutish and nasty.

Swamijee had received a threatening letter which he could read only the previous evening on his return from routine tour for religious preaching. He had sought security from the local police against imminent danger to his life by a written prayer to the authorities including the District Magistrate on 23rd August. The media had broadcast on apprehensions to his life during morning news bulletins on the very fateful 23rd August.

Hardly one month back, at Tumudibandh, two kilometers from his Jalespata Ashram, there was armed attack by a group of Christians when he was protesting against Cow-slaughter in the area. In the violence one of his disciples Madhu Baba had sustained fatal cut injuries. Following the incident the State Government had deployed one platoon of armed CRPF personnel to guard his Ashram round the clock. Swamijee, in addition to these arrangements, had an armed security person to protect him during his tours who was mysteriously absent at the time of attack.

It may be mentioned that the personal security man Bhubaneswar Jani who was replaced by an emaciated, cowardice constable by the local S.P. only five days prior to the attack, was serving Swamijee for more than 10 months most sincerely jeopadising his own life. During armed attack by militant Christians on the 24th December 2007 at Daringbadi for which he was hospitalized along with Swamijee with fatal injuries. In that connection, though the Police has registered a case vide 83/07 u/s 147/148/353/323/324/307/426/149 IPC the culprits are still at large with impunity. Prior to this there were nine more attacks on Swamijee's life and consistently the assailants were all recently converted Christians in the area. It is evident that the Catholic Church and the Baptist Church by conversion was gradually criminalizing the local youth. Few of them were also encouraged to join the Maoist group of terrorists which was proved by the way Bamunigaon Police Station was attacked and the subsequent raids in non-descript Sikarama village during December violence there, that led to recovery of more than 20 guns in a single tiny village.

What is surprising is that similar raids were not conducted in other villages where there is pillage of fire-arms. More suspicious is the withdrawal of the CRPF from the Ashram and replacing the PSO to the Swamijee only five days prior to the murderous attack on 23rd August. Danger to the life of Swamijee was mounting every day since the abortive attempt on his life in last December.According to reliable sources, there was a secret meeting on 9th August 2008 in the Community Centre at Raikia attended by activists representing Church based NGOs like the World Vision, Jana Kalyan Samiti, NISWAS, ASHA, Sahara, Palli Shree, Jana Vikash etc. who regularly receive huge funds from abroad. It was also attended by Nakul Nayak, former M.P. from the ruling BJD, Krushna Para Seth the former Block Chairman from Tumdibandh, Alfansoe Baliyar Singh a notorious militant Christian from Raikia, advocate Manas Singh who was to bring activists from Bamunigaon and Daringbadi in a vehicle specifically provided by Archbishop C.Raphel. It was resolved in the meeting to eliminate Swamijee who was 'an insurmountable obstacle against conversion and cow-slaughter in the area'.Simultaneously, they felt that by philanthropic activities among the Kondh tribes in the District he was dissuading the vulnerable poor and illiterate tribe and Panas in the area from falling prey to the allurements and fraud by the Church authorities.

Sources reveal that on the 13th August a letter purportedly written by 'Pahadia' group of people was circulated addressed to the Swamijee that his life would not be spared, that too, within a week. Copies were supposed to be sent to the State Chief Minister, DGP, District Magistrate, District S.P. etc. besides the Swamijee and some other targets. A similar closed door meeting was reportedly held on 20th August in the Jana Kalyan Samiti at Jatani (Khurda) attended among others by Father Bijoy Nayak from Baliguda Church and Ajay Singh of Khurda, where it was decided to eliminate Swamijee, come what may. On the 23rd August night they succeeded in killing him as per their planned conspiracy.

The government had clear knowledge and the authorities had detailed information, but instead of reinforcing the security arrangements, it appears that they colluded with the killers. What has failed to convince is the glaring gap in alacrity with which the Orissa Police had rounded up 63 suspects in Graham Staines murder case within 24 hours of the alleged murder and their utter failure to arrest even a single culprit even after four days of the murder of Swamijee.People of Orissa expressed their ire against the government during the dawn to dusk bundh in the most unprecedented manner for the government attributed this murder to the Naxal Maoists within minutes of the incidents. They were reminded of the callousness of the Chief MinisterNaveen Patnaik who had made a similar statement accusing the Maoists when DIG Jasvir Singh was killed but later it was revealed by subsequent investigation that the DIG was killed by his own PSO from Orissa Police.

When there was prior information on danger to life of Swamijee, so much so that, the local TV channels trumpeted the whole day urging the government to save the Swamijee from imminent attack, the government apparently colluded with the killers and in order to prove his self-claimed 'secular credentials' the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is over active to safeguard the Christian minorities from the onslaught by the enraged Hindus whole over the State. Now the question is, why should the government first create a situation by a series of 'omissions and commissions' later in order to prove his 'secular credentials' try to protect the endangered minorities. There can not be a greater embarrassment for the ruling alliance BJP who can not escape the moral responsibility of being a party to these omissions and commissions on the part of the coalition government.

It is a ghastly incident and a challenge to the advocates of pseudo-secularism that the majorities are discriminated against, to keep the minorities appeased. The pseudo secularists have proved more Christian than Pope in upholding Christianity in India. The unprecedented response to the bundh called by Hindu organizations in Orissa indicated the shape of things to come. No government how powerful it may be can function with out the co-operation from the people. Peoples elected representatives in Orissa have legislated for the first time in independent India, the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967 to prevent conversion by fraud, allurements, cheating, bribery and misrepresentation. It was challenged by all the Churches in the country in the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Bench of the apex court upheld its validity and said that right to propagate does not include right to convert.

Swamijee was only insisting that the Act should be strictly followed in the State. He came to Kondhmal District because there was utter poverty and illiteracy in the district with more than 70% of its population as tribals who are below the poverty line. He came there in 1967 and continued till his murder by Christians on 24th in August 2008.

Similarly, Orissa was the first to enact against cow-slaughter in 1964 as per Directive Principles in the Part-IV of the Constitution. Swamijee had made the motto of his life mission to make Orissa free of conversion as well as cow-slaughter. These two Acts legislated by Orissa Assembly reflect the sentiments of Orissa people for implementation by subsequent governments.

So long as these Acts are in the statute book, it is the constitutional responsibility of the government of the day to execute strictly. But the government has miserably failed. The government did not co-operate, rather criminally neglected in saving the life one man who preferred to lay down his life for the common cause.

The Church is supposed to preach The Gospels, ironically criminalizes the youth and with foreign funding indulges in conversion by-passing the law. Hindus in Orissa are not against any particular community or religion. They do not want any other religion to disturb their faith and social harmony by taking advantage of poverty and illiteracy in their society. Irate Hindus when, as a last resort react, at times, with violence; the advocates of 'secularism' cry for protection. Is it not time enough to stop conversion and cow-slaughter as a respect for the majority living in the country as a lasting measure to ensure peace and harmony in the society?

As this brutal murder is directly linked with the series of incidents right from December 2007, until and unless the State Police detects the right culprits and bring them to book with out further loss of time, peoples already shaken trust on the government can not be restored and peace in the civil society can not come back.

Should the government at the centre and the state want a permanent solution to these types of communal repercussions in future, they must concentrate in stopping illegal conversion, put a check on the church based NGOs, stop cow-slaughter strictly in Orissa and manage the forest land and tribal land problems with tribal welfare as the sole yardstick.This would also serve as a fitting tribute to the departed soul of Swamijee who has immortalized himself by laying down his life on the altar of the motherland.

Ashok Sahu, IPS (Retd.)
Former Addl. Director General of Police.