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November 19, 2010

Honour killings: An indepth study

Recently, there have been a spate of honour killings in the country and this has led the government to take a stand on what law can be put in place to stop this heinous crime and also whether the Hindu Marriage Act should be reformed or not.

The latest case of honour killing was reported, when a couple was murdered by the father of the girl, Vimla (20), and a guard named Robin, after they found 28 year old Hari from Jalandhar and Vimla lying in a compromising position in an under construction building in New Friends Colony.

So, what is the definition of honour killing and what leads families to commit this heinous crime so that they can protect their family honour? Is this practice prevalent only in India or is it prevalent in other parts of the world also?
What are the misconceptions regarding honour killing and what are the solutions to stop this crime from spreading? These are the questions that this article seeks to find an answer to.

Honour killing is defined as a death that is awarded to a woman of the family for marrying against the parent’s wishes, having extramarital and premarital relationships, marrying within the same gotra and within the same caste or marrying a cousin from a different caste.

Honour killing is different from the dowry deaths that are also a very common practice in India as, in the case of dowry deaths, the perpetrators of that action claim that they have not been given enough material rewards for fulfilling the wife to be family’s aspiration of marrying a husband of her choice.

In that case there is a lot of harassment from the in-laws and more times than one, it has been noted that the wife commits suicide rather than being killed by the in-laws, though it has to be said that she has been mentally killed, if not physical killing. We have had a tradition of honour killing.

This tradition was first viewed in its most horrible form during the partition of the country in between the years 1947 and 1950, when many women were forcefully killed so that family honour could be preserved.

During the partition, there were a lot of forced marriages which caused women from India to marry a man from Pakistan and vice versa. And then there was a search operation to hunt down these women who were forced to marry a person from another country and another religion and when they returned ‘home’ they were killed so that the family honour could be preserved and they were not declared social outcastes from their region.

At that time, the influence of religion and social control was much greater and hence there were at least a couple of honour killings a day, if not more. The partition years can be seen to be the beginning of the tradition of honour killing on a large scale. It is worth mentioning here that honour killing is not specifically related to India only. This is a practice that continues to be prevailing in North and South America, Africa, Turkey and many other countries. But the thing that has to be kept in mind is that the number of incidents relating to this crime is very low and there is a very strict punishment for committing this crime in other countries. So, honour killing is not unique to India.

Now, there are various reasons why people or family members decide to kill the daughter to preserve their family honour. The most obvious reason for this practice to continue in India, albeit, at a much faster and almost daily basis, is because of the fact that the caste system continues to be at its rigid best and also because people from the rural areas refuse to change their attitude to marriage.

According to them, if any daughter dares to disobey her parents on the issue of marriage and decides to marry a man of her wish, from another caste or gotra, then they believe that this will bring disrepute to the family honour and hence they decide to give the ultimate sentence, that is death, to the daughter and now as has become the norm, the son-in-law as well.

Sociologists believe that the reason why honour killings continue to take place is because of the continued rigidity of the caste system and hence the fear of losing their caste status through which they gain many benefits makes them commit this heinous crime.

The other reason why honour killings are taking place is because the mentality of people has not changed and they just can’t accept that marriages can take place in the same gotra or caste. The root of the cause for the increase in the number of honour killings is because the government has not been able to reach the rural areas and as a result, these practices continue though it should have been removed by now.

There are various misconceptions regarding the practice of honour killing. The first misconception about honour killing is that this is a practice that is limited to the rural areas. The truth is that it is spread over such a large geographical area that we can’t isolate honour killings to rural areas only, though one has to admit that majority of the killings take place in the rural areas.

But it has also been seen recently that even the metropolitan cities like Delhi and Tamil Nadu are not safe from this crime because five honor killings were reported from Delhi and in Tamil Nadu, a daughter and son-in-law were killed due to marriage into the same gotra. So, it can be seen clearly that honour killing is not isolated to rural areas but also to urban areas and as already pointed out it has very wide geographical spread.

The second misconception regarding honour killing is that it has religious roots. Even if a woman commits adultery, there have to be four male witnesses with good behaviour and reputation to validate the charge. Furthermore, only the state can carry out judicial punishments, but never an individual vigilante. So, we can clearly see that there is no religious backing or religious roots for this heinous crime.

So, what can we do to prevent such a thing from happening sometime later? Firstly, the mentality of the people has to change, and when we say that the mentality has to change, we mean to say that parents should accept their children’s wishes regarding marriage as it is they who have to lead a life with their life partner and if they are not satisfied with their life partner then they will lead a horrible married life which might end with suicide.

Secondly, we need to have a more strict law to tackle these kinds of killings as this is a crime which can’t be pardoned because it meant that you lose your caste status or gotra.

RTI rules for all institutions, states should be similar

IT REFERS to Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi rightly exercising the power granted to him under section 25(5) of Right To Information Act to direct Delhi High Court to modify RTI rules for Delhi district courts in tune with spirit of RTI Act.

Similar directions were earlier given by Central Information Commission (CIC) to Allahabad High Court also to frame its rules according to basic spirit of RTI Act. But such ambiguity in RTI rules by several other high courts and some states still exists. CIC should direct all such public-authorities and states to rectify their rules in conformity with provisions of RTI Act, without waiting for any petition coming before the CIC.
Central Information Commission should take up the matter with Department of Personnel and Training to repeal sections 27 and 28 of RTI Act which give undue powers to states and public-authorities to frame their own rules. ‘One nation one act’ motto should be there so that rules and fees may be exactly same and alike for all states and public-authorities throughout the country for implementation of RTI Act exactly as passed by the Parliament.

RTI petitions should be accepted at all post offices

INDIAN POSTS Department offers a noble service at selected post-offices to receive RTI petitions for any public-authority on submission of RTI fees of ten rupees thus saving postal-expenses and postal-order commission for users of RTI Act.

But this service is neither popular nor available at all post-offices. Facility to receive RTI petitions for any public-authority only on payment of RTI fees of rupees ten should be made available at all post-offices throughout the country. Since every post-office, however small it may be, is attached/connected to a bigger post-office, RTI petitions thus received at smaller post-offices can be sent to big post-offices for being processed further.

In the meanwhile Indian Posts Department should issue special commission-free RTI postal-orders of rupees ten payable at all post-offices at par with payee’s name endorsed as “Accounts Officer” requiring a petitioner to write just name and address of the sender. Best is to issue RTI stamp of rupees ten to eliminate all difficulties in remitting RTI fees.

Otherwise also, Indian Posts Department should give a new modern look to postal-orders besides having a convenient sale-system. With modernised clearing-operation, it is needless to provide space for payable Post-Office. These should be payable at par at all post-offices.

Presently postal-orders are available only at select post-offices that too in restricted timings of just two hours. These should be available at all post offices during their complete working hours like postage-stamps are sold. Postal-orders should also be available for frequent users in convenient booklet-forms with ten postal-orders. Denominations for postal-orders presently are rupees 1, 2, 5, 7, 10, 20, 50 and 100.

But postal-orders of rupees 1, 2 and 7 are hardly available or even of any considerable use.

Even if postal-orders of these denominations are available, they are very old and not handle-able. Considering high cost of printing and handling of postal-orders, postal-orders should be of minimum 10-rupees denomination. Instead new denominations of rupees 200 and 500 can be added.

RTI procedures should be tightened for public authorities

MANY CIVIC authorities especially like Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) are not adopting correct practices in responding to RTI petitions making the petitioners utterly confused and harassed.

MCD neither mentions date of RTI petition nor complete name and other details of responding Public Information Officer (PIO).

Every civic authority must compulsorily mention dates of RTI petition and its receipt together with complete name, designation, address, telephone-number and e-mail ID of responding PIO together with similar details about Appellate Authority as required under section 7(8) of RTI Act.

Appellate Authority at Supreme Court does not follow basics of legal principles and RTI Act. Appellate Authority there orders charging of cost for documents not provided by PIO within 30 days of receipt of RTI petition in contradiction of section 7(6) of RTI Act.

File-notes reveal that Appellate Authority at Supreme Court even endorses PIO’s reply while Appellate Authority, Ramesh Abhishek at Department of Justice follows healthy tradition of refusing any such endorsement because an Appellate Authority should not be a part of decision-making process!

Central Information Commission should issue necessary directives in this regard so that the entire process is transparent and adheres to the basic protocol of Right To Information.

Wake up Naveen Babu, keep Vedanta in Odisha

WITH ODISHA High Court declaring land acquired for the Vedanta University, a Stanford-kind university ‘illegal’, the Anil Agrawal Foundation’s mega project has virtually come to a standstill. The ruling has created mixed reactions both at the political and intellectual circles as future of the state is at stake.

The Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government, which enjoys political hegemony in the state in the absence of a strong and well organized opposition party, has once again come under furious attack from all quarters for giving green signal to the UK-based group by passing the Vedanta University Bill in the assembly in July 2009 and subsequently helping them to acquire 4500 acres of proposed 6892 acres of land on Puri-Konark marine drive.

Tough-speaking Naveen known for his hyper dream of taking the state tothe top of industrial map in the country did a very good PR exercise when he faced media after the HC ruling. His reaction was normal as if the order had no ramifications. He just said his government would study the order before taking any decision. He must take prompt decision and right action, otherwise Odisha may face the same fate as the Tata Nano-West Bengal row.

Vedanta, which is facing the public resents in Odisha in the wake of serious revelations by various ministries over its mining project in Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi district, hinted that the university project may go to other states like Andhra Pradesh or Karnataka. Karnataka has already sent feelers to Vedanta chief Anil Agarwal assuring him all support if he decided to relocate the project to the state.

For all good reasons, the Vedanta University project is vital for the development of the state. It is not because of the fact that it would be one of the largest universities in the world and glorify the state at the international level or attract foreign tourists, or provide job opportunities to the locals. It is question of foreign direct investment. It is the matter of rapid industrialization through private companies.

With much-needed efforts, the state has managed to attract national and foreign companies such as POSCO, Vedanta, Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), Pradhan Steel and Power Private Limited, Atha Mines Private Limited and Tecton Ispat Private Limited , Isagro Asia Agro Chemical Private Limited, a fully owned subsidiary of Isagro SpA of Italy , Kolkata-based Shyam Group, Sahara Group, Aditya Birla Group , Jindal Stainless Ltd (JSL) and Arcelor Mittal.


These companies are yet to start their operations in the eastern region - the region has its dubious distinction of poverty, malnutrition and starvation deaths. These projects are significant for the all-round development of the state, whose destiny has been sleeping over the decades. More than 40 percent of the state’s population is in BPL list, which is highest in India. The per capita income of the state is Rs 5,747 against the national average of Rs 11,013. The average monthly per capita consumer expenditure is Rs 399 in rural areas and Rs 757 in urban areas, compared with Rs 558 and Rs 1,052 at the national level, respectively. Ironically, most of the projects, most notably POSCO and Vedanta (mining project) are struggling to gain momentum, mainly due to political differences between state and centre.

Coming back to the Vedanta University project, the government should not overlook the concerns raised by the social and environmental stakeholders as it affects a larger section of the society. At the same time, it should not allow the project move out the state. The need of the hour is to bring a striking balance between industrial development and environmental sustainability.
For those reasons, the Naveen government should wake up and find an alternative, maybe in form of reducing the size of land or shifting the project to some other parts of the state for the benefit of all.

November 16, 2010

The Facebook Movie: It is about you


DISCERNIBLE ENOUGH, every mind craves for recognition and every head implores for crown. This is what serves as the spine of this masterpiece, by David Fincher. How would it be if a young boy with all the gray matter in the world becomes the richest acceptance seeker- exactly defines Mark Zuckenberg? Mark is a Harvard product, looking for ways to get into the ‘finals club’ that is the tag over almost all the big names in the university. Mark tries weirdest possible ways for which you can appreciate his brain, but unfortunately, he ends up with zilch in hands.

Mark is craving to get into the ‘final club’ that he thinks is a prestige issue and unfortunately, this idea makes his girlfriend dump him. Just after this, he creates a social networking site called facemash.com with an exclusive application on which you can rate the hottest girls in Harvard. The site turns out as a big success, so big that it crashes Harvard’s server. Moreover, rather than appreciation, it comes out as a curse to Mark, as he ends up with a black image in front of girls and their boyfriend start threatening him for the same. This surely gains him some attention as the Winklevoss twins; tall, blonde, rich and popular people call him for a partnership in creation of a networking site that would work within Harvard. Even after accepting the idea, he does not get entry in the club, which he thinks would have been his chance to meet all the upper class people. He feels disrespected and reforms the idea, paving the path to his facebook.com. This was no doubt, a billion dollar idea. For the financial support, he asks his best friend Eduardo to do a partnership as the owner of facebook.com.

You better do not feel sympathetic towards Mark. It may come as a surprise to you that when Eudardo becomes a member of the club, getting something that Mark craves for, he starts making things difficult and apposite for him without even giving a second thought on this. Mark proves to be a selfish, stubborn character suffering from superiority complex. You may identify it to be a psychological dish. Here destiny conspires to make it worse for Mark only. Even after becoming a billionaire, he can’t really taste the pleasure. He stands amidst two lawsuits and hence the creation of the most successful and popular networking site becomes one of the biggest controversial name games. Upsetting part is that one of these comes from his own friend, Eudardo who wants to sue him. Second one, no doubt from the Winklevoss twins who have this case where they say that mark stole their idea for the site.

The plot and script deserves hats off. In every movie things become predictable but here neither can you foretell the next nor do you get any space to blink your eye. You will hold your breath with every expression and sarcasm that crosses the silverscreen. It is totally Aaron Sorkin’s script that you can connect with the movie so well. C’mon, it is part of you day to day life. You actually relate to the story, after all everybody looks for acceptance and feels desperate for things that have direct connection with fame. Therefore, it will not be wrong to say that after watching this you feel a Mark somewhere inside you. How far can your desire drag you?

Mooting upon the technical side of the movie, you will awe at the lighting in every frame and shot. Few movies bring it this decent and precise that no matter if the second shot of Mark behind the door with Eudardo in serious conversation is in light, the practical part is that in the first his other side was in complete shadow maintaining the practical and aesthetic balance, tough task. Movie begins with long and lengthy follow shots that make it suspicious. Never seen such smooth shots, without a single jerk in any of the cranes or pans. Not to mention the shift focus the glass with some formulae written over it. How perfectly can you put in your creativity into simple things and serve them as one of their kind? You start watching a movie with a long conversation in the beginning itself and you are still not bored. Rather, you can’t move your eyes.

One of the best given by Eisenberg. This movie surely pays off well.

November 11, 2010

Congress Secular Hindu Forum opposes Obama's visit

THE CONGRESS Secular Hindu Forum (CSHF) strongly believes that the present state visit of the United States of America President Barack Obama to India is detrimental to the interests of the Indian farmers and youth. In a statement issued, CSHF national general secretary K Ravi Kumar alleged that Obama’s main purpose of the visit was to exploit India with active collusion of Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to cover up his failures in his own country.

CSHF reminded that Obama is visiting India at a time when his popularity is very low in his home country following his failure to convince a lot of Americans about his efficacy of corporate bailouts and economic stimulates in reviving the economy and his country is facing grim employment situation.

In order to save the failing agricultural economy in his country, CSHF alleged that Obama is brining pressure on Indian government to adopt corporate farming and US companies’ domination in seeds supply to our farmers. This would turn Indian farmers into agricultural labourer in their own fields and Indian agriculture would be completely surrenders to US economy for its very survival.

CSHF also strongly objected to India’s readiness to buy fighter aircrafts from this US, worth 12 billion dollar (Rs 5,400 crore), as at presently India is not facing any major war-threat. Ravi Kumar lamented that this deal would save Obama’s position in USA by enabling him to create employment to one lakh youth permanently and making India’s defense at the mercy of US.

According to CSHF, the urgent need for India’s defense is strengthening its ordinance factories, modernise its infrastructure and attract more and more talent into the army with attractive incentives, rather importing critical equipments from US.

It felt, Congress is aware about USA’s expansionism and exploitive tendencies since the times of Nehru, who promoted Non-Aligned Movement by joining hands with Nasser of Egypt and Joseph Tito of Yugoslavia, opposing the hegemony of USA in world politics. Since then, USA waged proxy war against India by creating trouble in Kashmir through its CIA, later in Punjab, North East and in recent times all over the country with active collusion of Pakistan’s ISI.

All the national leaders from Nehru to Indira Gandhi and P V Narasimha Rao kept USA away form interfering into our internal affairs. But unfortunately, the United Progressive Alliance government led by Dr Manmohan Singh colluding with USA determining to the interests of Indian people.

Ravi Kumar deplored that Obama staring his tour from Mumbai under the guise of offering condolence to the victims of Mumbai blasts, even after it was suspected US’s CIA was colluded with ISI after the revelation that US was aware of the master-mind behind the blasts Headly’s intentions well in advance. As USA opened its Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office in Mumbai, CSHF felt that the terror attack was intended to give scope for USA to expand its intelligence network in India. “How can Obama visit terror attack place without handing over Headly to India for investigation?” he asked.

CSHF accused that USA, which was instrumental in promoting terror network in India, was behind the brutal killing of our great leaders Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. USA’s imperialistic tendencies were known as `Nexus of Devil’ in countries like Palestine, Cuba, Korea, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. No country prospered with liberal assistance from USA, but collapsing completely in all fields, he observed.

CSHF lamented that Obama’s visit was intended to collapse India’s IT industry spread in cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad, threatening USA’s economy with active cooperative from Dr Manmohan Singh under the guise of `outsourcing’ negative policy.

Accusing Obama as anti-India, Ravi Kumar felt it would hard the sentiments of Indians if such a leader is allowed to speak in the Parliament and appealed to conscious Parliament members to boycott his address. He congratulated the Forward Block, which was started by great Congress leader Subash Chandra Bose, to boycott Obama’s address in Parliament, besides organising protests in the country.

But, CSHF wondered that other Left parties remained mute spectators and preferred to attend Obama’s Parliament address, while observing protest outside the Parliament. It seems Left is also surrendered to USA, he added.

CSHF lamented that the main opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party is also colluding with Dr Manmohan Singh in adopting pro-USA policies. Though some times it speaks against USA, in reality it is extending all needful support to UPA government adopting pro-US enactments, he said. This is exposing BJP’s pseudo-Hindu policies by supporting USA President, who is instrumental in encouraging Christian missionaries to promote religious conversations in large scale.

Obama surprises and delivers

On the strategic front -where India thought America will not deliver - Obama proved many, including journalists, common people and the society at large, wrong by actually pledging resolute support to India.


IT IS quite surprising that the entire nation stayed glued on to their TV sets as US President Barack Obama gave his historic speech in the Parliament. The President of United States made unambiguous statements in favor of India’s rise as a global power. While he made no bones about his obvious aim of cashing in on the India’s rising economic prowess, he made it a point to ensure that it was a two-way street, as promised. Proving that he was a man of words, he rose above expectations. And as articulated several times in his speeches here in India, indeed he made it a win-win situation.

On the strategic front –where India thought America will not deliver – Obama proved many, including journalists, common people and the society at large, wrong by actually pledging resolute support to India. By candidly speaking in favor of India’s bid for the UNSC seat, Obama drew applause from all the Ministers in the central hall, and the millions watching on TV.

But the direct recognition and support for India’s aspiration to be on the UNSC as a ‘permanent member’, was indeed momentous. By naming Pakistan as the nation that acts as the breeding ground for terrorists, and by declaring that perpetrators of 26/11 must be brought to book, Obama surpassed hopes and anticipations.

He even mentioned the perilous Afghanistan-Pakistan border while referring to terrorism. Mahatma Gandhi always finds a place in his speeches, but his reference to and quoting of stalwarts from Indian history like Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, and Dr B.R. Ambedkar was matchlessly noteworthy. His oratory was always admirable and stirring but his true intention of befriending India became all too obvious in the speech, wherein he connected directly to the hearts of a billion. His bringing up Indian religious texts and spirituality spoke of his pacifism.

Nonetheless he reminded India of its duties as an international player. Obama, the upright man that he is, directly implied that India had shied away from criticizing human right violation in Burma, something not befitting a global player. This was actually an endorsement of Amartya Sen’s articulation a few months back that India should condemn Myanmar’s tyrannical ways.

As Obama’s speech was beamed live across the world in BBC and other global media networks, along with all Indian channels, a billion hearts cheered Obama for his overly pleasant surprise. He surely is taking much from India this winter but as much sure is the fact that he really hasn’t retreated from genuine bilateralism.

Rathore granted bail by Supreme Court

In the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case, the main accused, former DGP of Police SPS Rathore was granted bail by the Supreme Court today. Is it another case of justice delayed is justice denied?

THE CENTRAL Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed the conclusion reports in two of the three FIRs registered against former Haryana Director General of Police SPS Rathore in the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case stating “the allegations staged in the FIRs could not be confirmed as per the documentary evidence and oral testimony of witnesses.” Today, based on the CBI report, former DGP has been granted bail by the Supreme Court. Now, Rathore will walk free with a bigger smile than before.

The three cases filed by Ashu Girhotra, who is Ruchika’s brother and SC Girhotra, Ruchika’s father in Panchkula court were handed over to the CBI after the intervention of Union Law Ministry. Most allegations by Ruchika’s family could not be proved and some were found completely false during investigation.

The Ruchika case reveals deep infirmities of delivery of justice in our system and our laws. We are all aware of the fact that the ‘higher class’, especially in India is capable of getting away with anything, even murder.

We, as a society, are mute spectators and helpless. Since there are many loopholes in our law, such type of crimes will repeatedly occur in our country unless the Supreme Court will come out with appropriate result.

It is not a question of justice for Ruchika, it is justice for the society. So many similar cases are happening in our country on a daily basis. Media notice only high profile cases and others are silent sufferers due to fear of society or lack of money to challenge the case. Once again, it raises doubts on our judicial system.

Can Prithviraj Chavan do it for Maharashtra?

RECEIVING US President in Mumbai was a political consolation to the outgoing Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan. Departure of Barak Obama was followed by his departure and Prithviraj Chavan was named the 25th Chief Minister of Maharashtra. He will be the 16th person to take the oath of office of this highly prestigious post. His predecessor had this honor twice so did Vilasrao Deshmukh and Shankar Rao Chavan.

Vasantrao Naik, Vasantdada Patil and Sharad Pawar held the coveted position three times each. Vasantrao Naik was the only Chief Minister, who had occupied the office for full five year term (1967-1972) starting from formation of the Vidhan Sabha to dissolution of it. He is also the longest serving Chief Minister of Maharashtra totaling more than 10 years of uninterrupted tenure.

Prithviraj Chavan’s choice as Chief of the Congress legislature party in Maharashtra, even though he was never member of state assembly, signals a long term strategy of the Congress high-command. Maharashtra has become an exception in Sonia Gandhi’s strategy to continue having the CM post under Congress in Maharashtra and other Congress-ruled states.

All these years in politics, Prithviraj Chavan has maintained distance from various state factions and kept himself away from lobbying for anybody for positions in state politics. This has become his edge over other contenders for the top post. While he has acquired considerable experience as administrator in central government, he lacks first hand political knowledge of handling the 24X7 conspirators in Maharashtra Congress.

His selection is also a clear message to the central ministers from Maharashtra, mainly Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde, to concentrate on their incumbent jobs rather than scoring goals in the murky state politics.

As a minister in UPA government since last 6 years and working in the PMO all this while, Prithviraj Chavan is well acquainted with priorities of Manmohan Singh government and its flagship programs. This is an advantage for him in implementing centrally-sponsored schemes in the state.

On the other hand, his ability to grasp the rural and agricultural despair and provide remedy to it will be tested during his tenure. In the last Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections, the loan waiver scheme had boosted the Congress performance significantly.

This may not be the factor four years from now when the state will go for scheduled elections. In spite of the rapid rate of urbanization and emergence of city-centered political forces like MNS, farmers hold the political key in Maharashtra; particularly the agricultural community in Vidarbha and Marathvada region.

These are the least familiar areas for Chavan. Demand for separate statehood not only exists but s getting strengthened in these two regions. This is not good news for the new CM, who is after all an outsider in state politics.

Prithviraj Chavan’s posting in Mumbai is also aimed at countering influence of NCP in its stronghold of western Maharashtra. In rest of Maharashtra, NCP’s strength is limited to certain pockets and is stagnated.

Although Chavan hails from western Maharashtra and thrice elected from family’s pocket borough Karad, of late, he has not been engaging with people in the region. In fact, he was defeated by the newly formed NCP’s candidate in 1999 Lok Sabha election.

NCP’s Sriniwas Patil has recorded three consecutive victories in this constituency since formation of the party by Sharad Pawar. Nonetheless, the NCP has taken up the challenge of Prithviraj Chavan entering the state politics quite seriously.

The first sign of it was Ajit Pawar’s elevation as Deputy Chief Minister. Energetic nephew of Sharad Pawar knows the nitty-gritty of western Maharashtra’s politics and can help the party protect its Maratha vote bank.

However, demotion of Chagan Bhujbal seriously threatens NCP’s credibility as party of all social groupings, particularly among the OBCs in the state.

His immediate and future accommodation in NCP’s hierarchy will have long term effect on NCP’s attempts to increase its support base in the state.

Chavan’s appointment is also a result of political negation wherein rest of his competitors became
ineligible due to some sort of allegation of corruption against them; the main reason of leadership change merely a year after last assembly elections.

However, many corrupt faces will continue to hold portfolios in the Prithviraj Chavan’s ministry; making it tough for him to provide clean administration.

Years of deliberate neglect of corrupt activities of state leaders has resulted into a situation where in the state government has become hostage to lobbies of industrialists, mining mafias, real estate dealers, educational czars, liquor barons and co-operative supremos.

They are the real power bearers no matter, who the Chief Minister is or whoever is his deputy. Neither Chavan nor the Congress has any program to break the stranglehold of these powerful lobbies to provide relief to common man. The new CM, in all probability, will provide stable government since equally corrupt and inept political opposition in the state pose no threat to the ruling alliance.

Fight against corruption cannot be won by rhetoric and symbolism but by people oriented policies and clear priorities. Interestingly, Chavan has not uttered a word so far against high level corruption; instead he is seeking co-operation from everyone, including the tainted politicians.

Thus, political and administrative challenges before the new CM are enormous. Only sky is the limit for performance. Can he? Will he? These are the key questions in the minds of people in the state, who are desperately seeking positive answers.

November 07, 2010

Deals between Indo-U.S firms to create 50,000 jobs: Obama

THE UNITED States President, Barack Obama, on Saturday announced conclusion of 20 deals worth 10 billion dollars by the US and Indian Business firms while stating that it would create over 50,000 jobs in the US and job opportunities in India as well.

Allaying fears of small businessmen in India while addressing the US India Business Council (USIBC) meet at the Trident hotel here, Obama asserted that bilateral partnership holds an enormous potential, adding that deals between business firms of both the countries were not just creating only wealth but huge job opportunities in both countries.

During his speech, President Obama said “increased commerce is win-win situation for both the countries,” adding that the “U.S. and India will engage in healthy competition.”

“Trade between both the countries will create jobs in both the countries,” he said.

In his speech, the U.S. President also announced that High tech trade will go up indicating easing of restrictions.

He also asked India to remove trade barriers and promised to reciprocate.

Obama informed that several landmark deals have been done including Boeing selling dozens of planes to India and General Electric selling hundreds of Electric engines. “The increased commerce between the two countries will be a win-win situation.”

The U.S. President, referring to the enormous unexplored potential in bilateral trade, said that India can be America''s top trading partner.

He said due to the liberal economic policies pursued by India, tens of millions of people were taken out of poverty and now India enjoys the status of having the largest middle class population in the world.

The economic growth in India in the last two decades is “one of the stunning achievements in human history.”

“U.S.-India relations will be the defining partnership of the 21st century,” said Obama.

BJP justified in criticising Obama for not mentioning Pakistan

INDIA'S MAIN Opposition Party BJP has rightly and very timely criticised US President Brack Obama for deliberately avoiding naming Pakistan for the terror-attacks on India including the infamous 26/11 Mumbai episode. Instant criticism by India’s main opposition party will give opportunity to US President to understand the sentiments of the majority of people in India, who consider the neighbouring country as hotbed of terrorist-activities.

USA has an unfair policy of having a tilt in favour of Pakistan and it never stops financial and military aid to Pakistan despite clear role of Pakistan authorities in patronising terrorist elements disturbing peaceful living of Indian citizens.

US has always avoided direct help to India in its fight against Pakistan-sponsored terror-attacks on India. If US would have sincerely and practically helped India in its tackling with IC-814 hijack at Kandhar, perhaps fundamentalist-elements would not have dared to destroy US World-Trade-Tower at New York in infamous 9/11 attack.
It is important that United States should understand that it would be dangerous for the world and the US itself to allow Pakistan to continue with the policy of supporting the terrorists even as it publicly denounces terrorism.

Obama visit: Less to give, more to take?


AS PRESIDENT Obama and accompanying American CEOs'' reached Mumbai on Saturday, it was quite evident why he chose India''s financial capital as his first stop.

Unlike his predecessor - George W Bush - who offered India a historic civil nuclear deal in 2005, Obama is more likely to take than give to India.

The United States is still recovering from recession and its unemployment rate is hovering above the nine percent mark, which is adjacent to India''s growth rate. A drubbing in the mid-term poll earlier this week, clearly reflects that Obama''s economic policies have failed to captivate the American imagination.

The US recognizes that India can play a big role in bailing the country out of recession. Recent Indian acquisitions have created and saved 65,000 jobs in the US. Indian companies invested 5.5 billion dollars in American Greenfield projects between 2004-09. In mergers and acquisition of companies in the US, Indian companies have invested 20 billion dollars in the last five years.

India has emerged as the second-fastest growing investor in the United States, after the United Arab Emirates, said FICCI and Ernst and Young in a joint report. However, almost 60 percent of investments made by Indian firms in US is in pharmaceuticals and the IT sector.

A recession-hit US would certainly like to enlarge the basket by relaxing the export of high technology and dramatically jack up Indian investments, especially in defence and space technologies. President Obama has centered his India visit on business and job creation and had even indicated that Washington is considering a lifting of ban on dual use high technology.

The export ban has remained, despite the passage of the Indo-US nuclear deal in March 2008, mainly because of India''s refusal to sign Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

New Delhi believes that dual-use sanctions had no place in the burgeoning partnership and views it as anachronistic. Overall, total exports of advanced technology products exported from the U.S. to India have increased from 1.3 billion dollars in 2003 to over four billion dollars in 2009, despite the global economic slowdown.

The US administration expects business deals worth over 10 billion dollars across several sectors to be signed during Obama''s visit.India also need US support in getting a entry in key non-proliferation-related groups like the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group (dealing with chemical and biological weapons) and the Waassenaar Group (export controls for conventional arms).

President Obama: Yes, still you can!


“Yes, we can!” ; “No, you can’t!”

IT IS a reminder of pathos we face every day. People love to abandon a goal when they face adversity. No one would choose a sinking ship. No one wants to do friendship with a man, who is down with his luck. It doesn’t matter if it is of our own making or circumstances have heaped upon us. The difference between an ordinary man / woman and a statesman is the way we react.

A great statesman would never allow himself to be the victim of circumstances for too long. He would gather up his strengths and turn the direction of winds. President Obama is a victim of his own rhetoric, machinations of Zionists and Right Wingers of the United States politics. Today, Obama is a very lonely man. Though he is yet not shorn of all incumbent powers of a President but his admirers are abandoning his sinking ship in droves. Even his closest admirers are saying: “This president feels flat — and somehow not quite genuine.”

What is happening to this great hero of 21 century? Is he under a spell or caught in a deadly political slumber? What has happened to his electrifying magic?

Today, it brings an instant smirk on everyone’s face at the mention of Obama. His admirers are wondering and feel let down and betrayed.
Republicans, Neocons and recently burgeoned Tea Partiers, who have been going for his skin since he entered the White House from front door are rejoicing at his misfortunes.

They don’t hesitate even to call him dyed-in-the-wool Muslim. In fact, they have put him in the dock for their own sins. The corporations and big banks and vultures of the Wall Street are turning against him - the worst show of rank ingratitude. Today, they are cursing the same man, who had bailed them out with the hundreds of billions of tax payers’ money.

There is no love lost between Obama and the Muslim world either. They are disillusioned with his message of hope and promise of change. Once he had fascinated and endeared himself to the Arabs and Muslims in his inaugural address in Ankara and Cairo with his idea of new relationship. He talked about the permanent stop of illegal Israeli settlement on Palestinian lands. His abject failure to push Israel toward peace despite his ostensibly sincere efforts has brought frustration, cynicism and despair in Muslim masses. He is failing on Iraq and Afghanistan fronts.

He could have stepped back from the mess left behind by Bushes and Republicans to make a fresh start. He can still stand up and fight for the ideals and values he once championed. It is not too late and all is not lost. His ‘health-care reforms’ offering medical insurance to tens of millions of poor Americans has great promise for every optimists. He can ask for a revisit by his countrymen at his stimulus package that has saved the US economy from a total free fall.

Americans would we willing to reconsider that the mess on economic front is a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also. Call back the American Forces from Middle East and save the tax-payers’ money. Oil would be available even from Iran if American Foreign Policy follows a more humanitarian and just approach.

Dear President, we believe your heart is in the right place. Show courage to follow your convictions. There is nothing to fear! A day of honest glory is better than the victory of next election!