Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Jig Saw Puzzle of J & K, getting interesting by the day

The elections in the state of J & K threw in a result that has improved mathematical skills of Politicians. After the result it has emerged that BJP has nearly the same seats as PDP(25 BJP vs 28 PDP). Congress has won nearly same seats as NC (12 of congress vs 15 of NC). Smaller parties won 3 seats with 3 seats going to independents.

It looks that NC and Congress cannot come together as also NC and PDP (Arch opponents) can not see eye to eye. As for BJP & Congress, can they come together? Unlikely and also does not help as, to rule J & K, the combination thus formed needs 44 seats. Can PDP and BJP come with each other and form a government? They are actually as different as Cheese and Chalk or Day and Night but one never knows.

How did the events go? NC offered support to PDP but PDP refused. PDP started seeing virtues in BJP but there are contentious issues between them like Article 370, AFSPA, etc. All the confusion at its best.

Lets look at mathematics. Combo 1 - PDP + BJP = 53. Combo 2 - PDP + NC= 42 (majority needs two more MLAs). Combo 3 - PDP + NC + Independents or smaller parties or both = 45, 45, 48.

If the first combination (BJP + PDP) rules, there will be representation from all the three regions namely, Jammu, Kashmir and Laddakh. However if third combination comes to power Jammu region representation will mostly be in opposition (BJP has won 25 out of 37 seats in the region).

What is likely to happen? Let us look at party aspirations. BJP definite wants to be in power in J & K but it needs a partner. It is their first ever chance to rule this state, even if in coalition. NC and PDP also want to rule and can not do so with out a partner. NC is used to power and finds it hard to let go of it while PDP wants to come back. In this whole game Congress looks 'down and out' but you never know what surprise they may spring.

The history of J  & K is replete with corrupt and inept governments. It is important to remember that the state was mostly ruled by either NC or PDP with sometimes it was congress rule, the congress was, however, in power as coalition partner most of the time. That means they have been rarely out of power.

It is as confusing as it gets. In my opinion the combo 3 has bright chance. That will help both PDP & NC perpetuate their regime, help them keep their deeds (or misdeeds) of many years under wrap, keep them in power and most importantly they can keep a non Muslim BJP out of power. This also will kill their fear of getting a Hindu CM. It may be true that PDP has seen virtues in BJP off late but risks of going with BJP (for PDP) may be more than they can take,

There seems to be no way out for political parties mainly PDP and NC but to bury their past differences and come together else one of them will be out of power, something, they both can ill afford. A rule by BJP in some combination? Looks unlikely but then politics has its second name called 'Possibility'. The last word on government formation in J & K is yet to be spoken.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

We do extraordinary work but lack publicity skills

Our Armed forces do stellar work during aid to nation n neighbours alike during natural calamities and other emergencies. We have done so as far as Lebanon.

What we make up by high quality work is lost by poor media. Our quality of work is seen in many places within India and out side. We have executed rescue missions as far as Lebanon.

What we lack is the necessary media coverage of what we do. Our media is generally busy with covering non issues like conversions and reverse conversions (ghar wapasi)  or things like Sanjay Datt's furlough, etc. Foreign media has its own interests, work by India in general and Armed forces in particular does not figure in their agenda.

In the end it is our stellar work that gets shadowed.

I am happy that one of our own news paper columnists has talked about it in his column.

Read on -http://wap.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/indian-navy-ignored-during-tsunami-for-want-of-media-policy-comment-special-to-ians-114122600609_1.html

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Preeti's tour of the year blog

Dear readers. My daughter Preeti also blogs. God seems to be kind to her  to give her a distinct style of writing. Kindly go through her blog and bless her with your comments on her blog.

Here is the link - http://travel-o-graphy.blogspot.in/2014/12/best-experiences-travel-and-otherwise.html?m=1

Happy reading. 

Does Pak has any shade of Grey?

The death of innocent people particularly children should shake us up. Our inner self should cry with pain for any death in the hands of extremists of any variety.  The  religion of the victims should never come to our mind.

Our Western neighbour is different. If so called non Muslims get killed by extremists any where in that country or outside by terrorists exported by that country,  it is OK for them. It is very easy in that country  to murder people on mere suspection of that person or persons having  insulted the prophet, no appeal no trial. Even under constitutional provisions there, when there is appeal or trial, in any case, penalty laid down is also death. No one seems to be moved by all such incidences that happen there or in neighbouring countries.

When on the name of Jihad the terrorists explode bombs in India or do 26/11 they are hailed as heroes  simply because those who died did not belong to the narrow definition of  'Muslim' as per that country.

For them all this happening to others is OK and the good terrorists need to be fated and protected. They will have all the comforts in jail and can even father a child while in jail. That nation, in its quest for purity (pun intended) finds  nothing unusual in all those being killed in such incidences as they weren't Muslims as per the narrow definition conveniently coined in that country.

When others get killed,  including their own citizens, adults and children alike, Hazaras,  Ahmadias, Shias,  Christian and Hindus,  there is   no worthwhile reaction. At the best some meek noise condemning the incidence. That is the White end of the spectrum.

On the Black end, when their own snakes created  and nurtured in their own backyard to bite others (borrowed from Hillary Clinton) turn around and bite the creator, all the hell breaks loose. It is only when these homegrown terrorists  kill children, about 141, few days ago at Peshawar, that the black end of the spectrum comes into play. The Army action intensifies.  Some militants are hanged and many more are to be hanged.

Does that nation has any shades of Grey like calibrated response, systemic correction in criminal justice system, detoxifying the text books to remove all the venom, etc? The tragic death of children is most condemnable but if there were shades of gray in that nation's behaviour, things would not have  reached this level.

Even if they had any intermediate response and could gather some sanity, the time has proved that they will get back to their demonstrated obnoxious behaviour sooner than later..They will not change.

The signs are already there to see. Despite such a massive tragedy hitting that nation from which they should have learnt proper lessons, the typical Pak style statements of India being behind the attack ,that they must continue to recognize good and bad Taliban and support good terrorists (how and when a terrorist qualifies to be good terrorist?),  etc have already started emanating.

Anyone dying in the hands of terrorists is unfortunate, children dying, even worst but our Western neighbour have not drawn any lessons from this tragic incidence. Their responses are as sick as they have been. We can only wish them luck and pray that good sense returns to them.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Power of One More Attempt

Yesterday when my son tried to start our car,  an Indigo LS Diesel car,  it did not start. The 'Check Engine Lamp' continued to glow a long after the engine some how was started. The car could not be used by him.

So I had a job today morning, to get the car problem resolved.

First option was to either call a local mechanic or phone Tata's on road assistance. Second option was,  what is my most favourite option,  give yet another try to something that is not budging.

Invariably, whenever  I have faced such as situation in personal life and professional one,  I have used this option. The statistics
is, 60% of times it gave me positive results.

In the case of my car too,  I  exercised option two, try yet again. Knowing that it is Peak winter in Delhi,  I choose to use engine heating coil about 4 times (switch on ignition, let engine heating coil lamp burn it's course and go off,  switch off ignition  and repeat the process 4 times).

After that when I gave a start,  the car started smoothly. Great trouble averted,  car available for use and no money had to be paid to mechanic.

The readers must have faced similar situations .Did they give one more try before calling help for repair? Even otherwise in life,  when we try to do some thing and don't succeed, most give up but I give atleast one more try. I am sure many of you also do it but if not,  try doing it. 60% success rate is really a good motivator to adopt this technique.

Next time try doing it, अच्छा लगता है.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Army's War + in Kashmir

Nitin Gokhale wrote a nice post on his blog NewsWarrior (http://nitinagokhale.blogspot.in/) that the Army is fighting a War in Kashmir and not terrorism (http://nitinagokhale.blogspot.in/2014/12/army-is-fighting-war-and-not-terrorism.html). I enjoyed reading it but then there were few questions in my mind.

The question that troubled me was, is Army fighting a War in J & K?  I know they are but is it a war, less than a war or something more than a war. That is what needs to be analysed?

In a war, there are stages. In the first place there will be hectic diplomatic activity between nations. If these activities are not giving any outcome and tensions keep increasing then these nations go to precautionary stage. War is the last stage of the process. It is always intense though the tempo may oscillate.

There is a clear distinction between own and the enemy. The war is defined by Malinowski in an article published in American Journal of Sociology, titled "An anthropological analysis of war" as "an armed contest between two independent political units, by means of organized military force, in pursuit of a tribal or national policy".  It is therefore a contest between two nations by their respective state actors with a sanctioned armed action  to attain the desired objective . All other conditions are generally classified as Operations Other Than War (OOTH).

Moot question is, is our army fighting a war, more than a war  or is it OOTH ?

To my mind, our Army faces extreme uncertainty in J & K about the situation on the ground and likely hood of it turning worst. who is our Own and who is enemy is very fuzzy. Army has to be alert 24 x 7 across the same territory and it has been in that alert state for many years, year after year but terrorists can choose the time and place of next action in the same vast territory.

The physical costs of these operations may not be as high as actual war, the psychological and human costs are many times higher then the war. The tempo of operations is nearly constant. The fatigue is a constant companion and not a phenomenon limited by time. Also the Wars lasts for a finite period (even if it happens to be eight years as was the case with Iran - Iraq war). It is easy (relatively) to sustain the effort knowing fully well that one way or the other it will come to an end. There is no such possibility  in the operations being carried out by the Army in J & K though there is a hope of peace returning at a distant future.

The enemy is not a mere non-state actor having meager resources. In this case enemy is a state actor by another name or proxy of a state actor, well armed (except heavier weapons like tanks or big guns) and even better brain washed (Karl Marx said, religion is the opium of masses) to carry out their action.

It must be evident that this is neither  OOTH nor a simple war. This is actually a War+  which being fought by our Army in various dimensions namely military, psychological, physical, material and so on.

Army has been and is capable of continuing this battle in present and escalated form. It is us, citizens of India ,who must understand  that our Army is fighting not just a war but actually a War+ in J & K. We should and must   provide our unstinted support to our Army.

Are we doing it? May not be, it is us who let down the Army on many occasions. We surely need to change.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Accident between Train and School Van in Mau UP. Who is to blame?

A very tragic accident happened near Mau in UP yesterday in which a train hit a school van on a unmanned Level Crossing. This resulted in loss of life of at least Six school children. Unfortunate it is but there is a need to look at the whole issue in proper perspective.

News papers and TV channels are going whole hog shouting Train rammed in to School bus. TOI said, "At least six children were killed while 16 others suffered serious injuries when a speeding train (as if Express trains are not supposed to be doing designated speed) rammed into a school van at an unmanned crossing in Mau district near Varanasi on Thursday morning."(http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/6-children-killed-as-school-bus-collides-with-train-in-UP/articleshow/45369250.cms) and India Today, "But then came a jolt - a passenger train had rammed into a school van at an unmanned railway crossing in Mau district in Uttar Pradesh and five school children had been killed." (http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/suresh-prabhu-railway-minister-death-of-school-children/1/405216.html).

These headlines commented as if the train left its track and rammed in to a School Bus on road. Or that the School bus was supposed to be on the unmanned crossing on tracks and the train was a defaulter and an intruder who rammed into it. All of the papers and channels say that the blame must be shared by the railways for not converting Unmanned crossings to Manned crossings. I agree to a small extent.

Let us first understand that unmanned crossings are not only in India (some of us may have that feeling thinking that Indian Railways are callous). Unmanned crossings exist in most of the countries. Why they are there? If there is a need for a road (already existing or new) to cross a track, proper Level (ed) Crossing is required else except for cycles no vehicle can cross the track. If the road is a busy road where traffic density is high, Railways man that crossing round the clock because it has a potential of huge loss of life if kept unmanned. However, when a road at remote location is supposed to cross a line, unmanned crossing with adequate warning signs on both ends is provided primarily because very few vehicles pass over the crossing.

If the unmanned crossings are not provided by Railways for the roads to cross, the road travel distances will be excessive because the road alignment then would have to perforce pass through a manned crossing taking a long detour. India has over 11000 unmanned crossings but all of them have adequate warning signs on both sides and I have seen many such level crossings during my numerous road journeys. Are we the only ones to have unmanned crossings? Not really, almost all countries have such unmanned crossings. There are accidents in those countries too (See Wikipedia article " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_crossing") because of errant drivers.

The main question being overlooked by our media is, was the train driver supposed to take action to avoid accidents on unmanned crossing? I would quote from the article of Wikipedia mentioned above, "Railroad (Railway) trains have a much larger mass relative to their braking capability, and thus a far longer stopping distance than road vehicles. In general, trains do not stop at level crossings but rely on vehicles and pedestrians to clear the tracks in advance."

It is evident even without this quote that while a vehicle may take few seconds to cross a Level crossing (unless it accidentally gets stuck or stalls) the train doing 60 kmph will take over few minutes to come to a stop. Also if the train driver applies emergency breaks (the time to stop may become half) there is a chance that some train coaches may jump out of the track resulting in a major loss of life.

It is innocents who lose their lives in such tragic accidents. It is innocents who are unnecessarily blamed (the Train Driver, in Mau case also villagers stopped the train for few hours as if the train driver was at fault whereas the poor man had just witnessed a tragic accident due to callousness of a stupid Van driver), The only blameworthy person is the vehicle driver who was supposed to stop before crossing, get down, see on both sides if any train is coming and if and only if there is no train coming he is to board his vehicle and drive on. These are the precise instructions a driver is supposed to know before  a driving license is issued to a driver.

Rather than asking for stricter control over issuance of driving licenses, asking for accountability of schools or parents for hiring unqualified drivers of public / school vehicles, every newspaper and TV channel is busy blaming railways for not converting every unmanned level crossing to manned one.

I pray to god to grant peace to these little souls who lost their lives for the fault of their Van driver and hope to have no requirement to do so in future. But I know my wish of not having to pray to god for peace for souls of tragic accidents on unmanned crossing is going to last only till the next negligent and rash driver takes such stupid and uncalled for risk. 

Let us stop 'barking up the wrong tree' and 'bark up the right one', the errant drivers generally having a field day on the cost of innocent lives.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Unruly Roads of Mumbai

That the roads have become unruly in Mumbai has been evident to me for many years. During my visits in the past and present and also during my latest stint of two years in 2011-13, it kept becoming more and more evident every time I was there.

The final realization that Mumbai roads have become extremely unruly dawned on me during my recent visit. I was born in Mumbai (not brought up) and always had taken pride in a fact that it has traffic sense and rule of law on the road. But not any more.

Let me elaborate. There was a time the drivers including taxi drivers followed lanes (my brother was once fined for jumping lane at Churchgate on his bike long time ago). None turned without giving signal, hand or flasher. People were careful while taking U turn. What is the state today?

The people seem to have claimed the roads for themselves from Police. There are cars and two wheelers parked every where (can't blame them, if Municipal authorities don't provide adequate parking, where would people park)? Delhi with so much open space has Multi Story automated public parking at many places. If Mumbai has any, I don't know at this time. Kindly educate me if it has.

Turning without indicator seem to have become a norm rather then exception. Worst contributors are Yellow - Black (Kali Peeli) cabs. They are also the ones who take a u-turn where ever they feel like, even in crowded Colaba Causeway.

When it comes to Zebra crossing, drivers in Mumbai seem to think, Zebra crossing, 'Ye Kya Hota Hai'? This is not in terms of stopping for pedestrians on a non signaled zebra crossing, that is 'out of fashion' through out India. I am talking about Zebra Crossing on a Traffic signal being routinely violated in Mumbai. The vehicles don't stop short of it rather they are all over it and much beyond it as close to signal as possible. To my utter surprise, the Zebra Crossings on traffic signals are followed strictly and voluntarily in New Delhi. Can't believe it, drop a remark and I will record and post a video?

Other issues? Yes, I noticed that even before the signal turns yellow and then green (that means even when the signal is red), if the opposing traffic is thinned out, every one is on his way. Red signal be damned.

Another problem which was absent in Mumbai few years ago has become a routine affair. When someone comes on a main road from a lane and needs to go some distance for a u-turn (because there is no cut in median where the driver has come on the main road) and the distance of the cut in median on the opposite side is closure, people routinely go some distance on the wrong side. May be they want to contribute in nation's development by saving little bit of fuel but what about rules of the road and road safety?

The above mentioned problem is more prevalent in suburbs. There could be some more issues of this nature but I will keep my post limited to the issues mentioned above. What is required? Introspection and observance of rules. Unfortunately, in our country, observance is rarely voluntary.

I think now the time has come for Mumbai Traffic Police to reclaim roads from the unruly users and bring some order before it is too late.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Vasai, A Miniature Replica of Goa

Recently I had a occasion to visit Vasai for short duration on two consecutive days. It was a road trip from Nalasopara West to Vasai village in outskirts of Mumbai.

Vasai has a history. It had a Fort of sultan of Cambay  or Khambat. This was cede to Portuguese after a long drawn battle.

This Fort served as seat of Portuguese govt of Northern territory (all areas under control of Portuguese to the north of Goa). There was a vibrant city (by those days standard) outside  the fort.

This fort was won over by Maratha Army under Chimajee Appa, brother of the then Peshwa after a battle of over three years in 1739. It was soon cede to English by Marathas.

Even now Vasai is a close knit social unit. This is despite many locals converting to Christianity during Portuguese regime. Most houses, small or big, are independent houses of one or two stories. Some of the houses are still old styled but most are now modern. Each house habits own garden with coconut, supari,  cashew and mangoes, etc.
The roads are narrow (just two tight lanes)  and winding. The landscape is serene and beautiful.

Most importantly while Goa has lost its lifestyle, at least in goan cities, to tourism,. On the other hand  Vasai seems to have preserved it's old peaceful (and not lazy) life style despite it being so close to Mumbai and almost all working people follow Mumbai's harried life style for work (cuz they work in Mumbai)

I wish that they remain aware of the cultural importance of being what their place is,  Vasai and retain the old world charm around them while adopting to modern with a sense of history.

For Mumbaikar, when you miss Goa and can't go there, go to Vasai. Only request,  don't turn it into present day Goa.