Author: Ashish Shukla

It’s in China’s interest to keep India in good humour and here’s why

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

We could all look at clues emanating from a two-hour meeting between India’s foreign minister S. Jaishankar with Wang Yi, his Chinese counterpart, in Moscow on Thursday. Or trust the redoubtable Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to have hefted his weight in making them shake hands. But frankly, it’s in China’s interests to keep India in good humour.

As the two troops square up within a punch’s distance in Ladakh, where even a guttural breath could spark off World War III, analysts have a meltdown that India could be facing a multi-pronged war on its borders, none more so than on its eastern, northern and western ones from two heavily nuclear-armed enemies—China and Pakistan. Most are failing to connect the dots that it’s China which presently is more encircled and it’s India which is the centrepiece in the coordinated move.

Agreed, India hosting the QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) later this year doesn’t sound menacing at first glance. But the enormity of the moment won’t be lost on pros who know that India now has military logistical agreement with all three other members of the grouping: the United States, Australia and Japan. The one with the US (LEMOA) has been operational since 2016. The one with Australia was signed in June. Now, on Thursday, India and Japan, riding on the visible warmth between Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his outgoing Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, have inked a similar military logistical deal. Who said nothing moved during the Corona?

Even as I write this, French defence minister Florence Parly would’ve left Indian shores after overseeing the official induction of 5 Rafale jets in the Indian Air Force in Ambala on Thursday. Don’t go by the innocent press releases marking the moment. In geopolitical and military sense, it carried a grave message for Beijing.

Quietly in the background, India and France have grown akin to blood brothers. It hasn’t happened overnight. As soon as the Cold War ended last century, India and France had signed a “strategic partnership.” Everyone talks of 36 Rafale jets but it isn’t much in public domain that Indian navy has already commissioned 2 of 6 Scorpene submarines being build in our own Malegaon dockyards. The third one is undergoing sea trials. India had signed a military logistics pact with France in 2018 itself. France was one of the few countries which had backed India’s decision to nuclear-test in 1998.

And this is all because like other members of QUAD, France too needs India badly for its considerable stakes in the Indian Ocean. The two countries could sign a secure communications agreement too which would allow the two navies to share maritime domain awareness. Even before Parly arrived in India, the two countries, along with Australia, had held their a trilateral foreign-secretary level dialogue on Wednesday. Surely, India-France are welcoming the likeminded in fold.

The domino effect of this all must not be lost on observers. LEMOA with the US has extended Indian navy’s reach in southwestern Indian Ocean due to French bases in Reunion island near Madagascar and Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. The logistical arrangement with Australia has bolstered Indian warships in southern Indian Ocean and the western Pacific.

There are two other logistical pacts—besides the US, Australia, Japan and France—which India has firmly secured under its belt. One is with South Korea, the other one is with Singapore. Now Indian officials are openly touting two more in near future—with the UK and Russia, the latter one possibly by the end of this year itself. Yes, Russia—you have heard it right.

And now comes something which completely has rattled the command of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). India, Japan and Australia have launched a “Resilient Supply Chain Initiative” amongst themselves. In simpler terms, it means the three countries are looking for alternatives to China in terms of relocating industries and supply chains in Indo-Pacific.

Japan, which has considerable industrial presence in China, unlike India or Australia, is even incentivizing its companies to relocate to, say India and Bangladesh. It has taken badly the recent moves by China to intensify dispute in East China Sea. Australia is badly stung by the trade spats with China. The repatriation of Australian journalists by Beijing hasn’t helped matters. India of course has a war at door.

In essence, there is an attempt to disengage supply chains in strategic areas such as telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, semiconductors etc from China. This has potential to fundamentally alter the geographical shape of cross-border industrial network in the region. It would hurt China where it hurts most.

India and China could point fingers at each other, and not just Finger 3 or 4, for the downturn of ties between two of world’s most populous nations. China could claim that it has had enough of India’s “running with the hare and hunting with the hound” attitude. India could do likewise. After all, China backs Pakistan both on its terrorism and hostility in Kashmir. But these are no better than academic discourse. The truth is India has moved firmly on its Act East Policy. And China has to look after its back. Like Doklam, this face-off ftoo is likely to end with a loss of face for the Dragon.

 

 

 

“Haramkhor” Sanjay Raut: Here’s listing all those who fit the description

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Sanjay Raut. Wait, wait. This isn’t a voice which you are hearing from behind Kangana Ranaut’s skirt. This man can fill up your nostrils all on his own. He is always in your face like the ones who knock at your car panels on red lights. Ranaut is only the latest excuse.

Raut is a leashed presence at the feet, a prototype all leaders keep only to be released in time. Some act suave, like Pavan Varma and Derek O’ Brien and some are cast in his inimitable mould such as Azam Khan and Sanjay Singh, if you may. Congress has too many which this piece is too short to do justice to. So, Randeep Surjewalas and Navjot Sidhus and Digvijay Singhs could relax.

There was a time when Sanjay Raut wanted to bar Muslims from voting in elections. He came around to stand with them on anti-CAA plank, chumming up to Jamaat-e-Islamic Hind. This change was overnight. It swung with equations of his Shiv Sena vis-à-vis BJP. He once bloated on the upcoming Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial site on the Arabian Sea. He is now drawing daggers at Rani Lakshmi Bai, i.e Kangana Ranaut in a filmi avatar.

So who is the real Sanjay Raut? Nobody. He is just a muckracker in the journalistic tradition of our times. He edits his party’s paper, Saamana, and takes credit for writing a biopic on Balasaheb and would be mistaken as erudite by somebody living in North Pole. Well, after all he has been an “elder” in Rajya Sabha for three terms now. But his calling card, as you would’ve guessed by now, is baring his teeth when his masters want him to.

So, it’s with him now on Kangana Ranaut. It was good he affixed “ladki” with his “haramkhor” adjective. Or somebody would’ve thought he was in a self-appraisal mode. I mean thrice a national award winner, four times of Filmfare, all by the age of 30, doesn’t quite fit the definition of a “haramkhor.”

As you would’ve guessed, the gender-warriors in our newspapers have ducked into their gutters. All your Shobhaa Dees, Mahua Moitras, Priyanka Gandhis, Brinda Karats who bristle at slights on the fairer sex are silent. And we are talking of no ordinary woman here. It’s a prized actress who is picking up the cudgels against the patriarchal Bollywood. Who wants to clean up the filmi stable of drugs and Dubai mafia. Who wants to offer a tomorrow of safety and respect and dignity to a newcomer who is arriving at VT station from Asansol. Who doesn’t want them to meet the fate of a Sushant Singh Rajput. That their young eyes with dreams aren’t closed forever.  A woman who is risking her life, lighting a matchstick on her own career, who if she was to venture into Mumbai today would have an idea how a PoK must feel like.

But not a word from our pen-pushers. Not a clap for the triumph of talent over entitlement. She is not a “Shero” to Barkha Dutt.  Nor she is a Safoora Zargar who gets a cry of outrage from Shekhar Gupta’s ThePrint. A Sagarika Ghose brings out international law in defence of Safoora. A Rajdeep Sardesai tears his heart out on a pregnant woman in jail. Somebody calls Ishrat Jahan a daughter of our own land. Never mind one is charged with inciting riots and the other with a plot to assassinate a chief minister.

Our Bollywood bimbos now can’t find the placard in support of their gender. Against one of their own who they can’t match in range in this lifetime. Why bother if there are couches perfumed for their hinterland preys, ringed by leering louts? That youngsters are no better than playthings for those who happen to be their dads?

All of them—these starlets, muckraking journalists, political clowns—are toxics in our life. They don’t allow us to smell a rose; inhale a breeze, whistle a tune. Once in a while, somebody stands up risking everything one has. And she is “haramkhor” to them.

Aren’t we sick, folks?

 

Bhushan, you must listen to this story: Arundhati you pay heed

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

There was once a mighty kingdom. The King gave his two princes a few years to prove their worth. The first one had only the good of people on mind. He would go on rounds, look at smallest of issues. He also created opportunities for masses. Those with will could reach sky.

The other prince didn’t think much of masses. He felt they were fools. He could win some over with favours. He could use iron fist on others. He made sure the ageing king heard nothing of his machinations. He spent lavishly to control the Ministry of Propaganda.

Somehow, every year, when king wanted his people to come and secretly vote on the princes, the overwhelming majority went with the good prince. The devious prince could only secure a minority. With each passing day, the good prince grew in esteem. The devious prince began losing ground with his father.

The devious one now didn’t have numbers. His gifts and bribes in the Ministry of Propaganda also didn’t bear fruit. Neither people nor propaganda were on his side. He now thought of something novel. He would flood the good prince with wild allegations. If he could hoodwink the Ministry of Truth, the King would have no choice but to give him the throne. People believed the Truth. King dare not go against him if the Truth was by his side.

But the devious prince failed. Ministry of Truth was noble. It always saw through his game. All the issues he raised were thrown out of the window. The devious prince was now fighting for his existence. So he sharpened his knives against the Truth. He would hurt them, insult them, abuse them. His poisoned chalice was Propaganda. It could show the Truth on the wrong.

One fine day, Truth felt he has had enough. He hauled the Propaganda in open court. After all, the Truth had the power to summon anyone, including the king. Truth found Propaganda guilty of slanderous transgressions. He asked Propaganda to apologize. Propaganda won’t do it. If he did, people would know he was lying all along.

But Truth won’t budge: You apologize or we punish you. Propaganda still defied. He said all the right homilies—my freedom, my conscience, my integrity, my voice. Propaganda of course was bluffing. He thought Truth would succumb to his noise. Masses would love him as a holy sage. If Truth punished him, Propaganda thought, the masses would hate Truth. And what is Truth if nobody loves him?

Truth now brought out the velvet glove which hid his iron hand. He asked Propaganda to pay just Rs 1 and go scot free. Or face a three-year imprisonment and three-year banishment out of his chambers. Propaganda realized his game was up. If he didn’t pay even Rs 1, the masses would think he is a mean, vindictive entity. If he did, he had accepted his crime. He would be shown the charlatan that he is. He lost either way.

xxx

It’s easy for you readers to identity Ministry of Truth and Ministry of Propaganda in today’s context. The first one is Supreme Court. The other one is Prashant Bhushan who in the guise of morality is just a tool in the hand of a devious prince. The devious prince of course is Left-Liberal gang. The good prince is masses’ darling which in India’s context is Narendra Modi.

All these weeks of grandstanding, projecting himself as another Mahatma Gandhi, failed. Bhushan has fallen flat on his face.  He was found guilty, served a monetary punishment and he paid up to avoid imprisonment. His “conscience” was worth only one rupee. The masses would only have “contempt” for him now.

For too long, Supreme Court has been hauled through the coals by this gang. They would ascribe motives, bring sexual misconduct charges against the Honourables and even move impeachment motion against them. They would prod the minority to defy the body which upholds the Constitution of the country. Supreme Court was shown to be sharing the bed with the rulers–the essence of Bhushan’s “contempt” tweets.

Supreme Court has now drawn a line in the sand. It’s an arbiter of Truth and won’t be swayed by mob at its door. Bhushan would serve as an example to others, such as Arundhati Roy and Yogendra Yadav. Kapil Sibal anyway is on the mend. The enormity of this moment shouldn’t be lost on us. Judiciary won’t be browbeaten and could hold Propaganda by the throat. The next step is to stop millions of Petitions which chokes it. And for god’s sake, don’t beg to Shaheen Bagh next time.

 

 

 

 

 

Trump’s words on Biden are a chilling reminder to India of dangers ahead

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Joe Biden didn’t speak about China in his address after accepting to be Democrat’s choice for presidential elections. President Donald Trump made sure nobody missed the import of his rival’s hedging.

“China was never mentioned in any way, shape, or form. China will own our country if he gets elected…You’ve seen the intelligence reports. China very much wants Joe Biden to win,” thundered Trump in his response in double-quick time.

The US media, which hates Trump, would lose little time in terming his reaction as another instance of “fake news.” Didn’t Biden call Xi Jinping a “thug” for keeping a million Uyghurs in reconstruction (concentration) camps? Hasn’t he vowed to prohibit US companies for supporting a “surveillance state”? Wasn’t he quick to congratulate Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen on her re-election in almost real time?

Those with long memory know better. Biden has long been a champion of the US engagement—and not confrontational–policy with China. He has always preferred an ambiguity on Taiwan. He has been a vice-president in the past and spent decades in Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A leopard doesn’t change its spots.

Only last May, when Trump was involved in a trade war with China, Biden had questioned if China was going to “eat our lunch”. He had asserted that China was no competition for the United States. Democrats support alliances, investments and multilateral approach. They prefer Chinese cooperation on climate change and non-proliferation deal. Biden hasn’t been any different. It’s only the approaching elections, and that latent anger against China on Coronavirus pandemic amongst voters, not to say China’s iron hand on Hong Kong, which has made Biden sing a different tune.

Let’s look at the Team Biden which would get rolling if he was to become the new US president. Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan worked closely with Biden as his national security staff while he was in the White House. They are his senior advisers now.  Then there are Samantha Power and Tom Donilon.

Like their boss, all of them are genetically Democrats. They prefer “One China” policy where no heat is blown on Taiwan lest it upsets Beijing.  These days Samantha Power claims she is “very worried” about China yet adds for good measure she remembers their exemplary handling of Ebola outbreak in Africa; Blinken is grave in stating that China poses a “series of new challenges” but wants to work in tandem with them on global issues; Donilon isn’t keen on raising tariffs against China.

The truth is globalization is the genetic makeup of Democrats. In the name of free trade and liberal values—the cloak which hides the dagger of Leftists too—all they aim is to empower the 1% against 99% of humanity.  Behind the flag of “free world” is a military-industrial complex where wars are waged and common man has no future. From academia to media, everyone does their bidding. Profit and power is all that matters to them. They prefer governments which are servile and not like one in India where a prime minister is seeking to empower masses. A nationalist government, that too in India with its numbers and growing economic and political clout, is a grave threat to them.

If Biden was to win, and carries Kamala Harris to the White House, be sure India would be dis-serviced. They would speak the language of Pakistan and China on Kashmir and CAA-NRC etc. George Soros and his henchmen in India would acquire new teeth. That’s why Trump is right in claiming that China wants Biden to win. And that’s why it won’t be such a good news for India.

 

Why Muslim women are fronting the Islamist agenda? Who’s using them as puppets?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

There is an interesting piece in Swarajyamag. Muslim women are leading the Jihadis. It’s an emerging pattern.

We have this instance in Bengaluru where a woman is on screen, asking for severing of head of anyone who insults the Prophet. Never mind a Social Media outrage is a cyber crime and shouldn’t involve killing people, injuring policemen and destroying property worth crores.

A policeman Rattan Lal was lynched during Delhi riots in February, surrounded by women in burqa as murderers did their job in cover.

Ladeeda Shakhaloon, one of the two shero girl—remember, lionized by Barkha Dutt during the Jamia fracas—openly gives call for Jihad on her Facebook page but is the poster girl of “Azaadi” gang.

I am sure most of us remember Amulya Leona Noronha, the girl who chanted “Pakistan Zindabad” in the presence of Asaduddin Owaisi, in a public rally in Hyderabad.

Let’s cast our eyes in Kashmir. Naseema Bano, mother of Tauseef, is seen holding her son’s rifle with a beatific smile on her face.

Insha Jan was arrested for providing logistical support to bombers who effected Pulwama, killing 40 Indian soldiers travelling in a convoy.

All these incidents I have quoted are of this year.

Let’s for a moment concede the point that it’s no Jihadi agenda. That these womenfolk are moved by a sense of injustice. They have heard, or worse suffered injustice, and decided enough is enough. That they there is no institutional support to them.

Yet a few dots don’t connect. There is an alarming number of women being arrested under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Muslim women are being caught with 20 grenades and 365 bullets (Salma) under the possession. Someone like Nassema was just not posing with gun in company of her terrorist son. She was actively supporting Hizbul in their terror operations.

So, a platform alongside Owaisi is spontaneous? Salma’s anger was good enough to fetch her grenades and bullets from nowhere? All those ammas and dadis in Shaheen Bagh were spontaneous in their outrage? Who didn’t want a solution even as India’s home minister opened his doors and Supreme Court begged? How does one believe in their cause when solution is not on their mind.  What’s it other than holding the Indian state to ransom?

So, if it’s not spontaneous, is it part of a larger design? An agenda of Jihadists? If you think about, it makes complete sense from Islamists perspective. For (a) women and children evoke instant sympathy; (b) it freezes police into inaction; (c) it gives you good press; (d) It dilutes the societal outrage at an anti-India act; (e) it’s impact is worldwide; (f) It drives terror-recruits from young men in families; (g) It legitimizes the violence they harbour in their heart (h) If anything, they want to be a step better than aapas and ammis: If they could be so brave, why can’t I be.

Media is an important tool in this design. Any portrayal of a helpless young daughter, a widowed sister, a doting mother facing state action, is a front-page story. Media could be doing this as an oversight. Or it’s a concerted plan for we never seem to read in their reports on the number of Indian muslim women who are being held under the UAPA today. We would only see more of it in coming days.

As for Indian state, to begin with, they need to track the funding. Follow the money is an old maxim in criminal investigations. And yes, we need more women cops in our system. The rules of the game are changing.

 

 

If anything, Facebook has palpably been a Congress card: Here’s the evidence

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

A report appears in Wall Street Journal (WSJ). It names Ankhi Das, the policy head of Facebook in India as sympathetic to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She is accused of allowing “hate speech” from the party’s leaders or supporters on the Social Media platform. Unnamed Facebook employees have spilled these beans. The Indian parliamentary IT panel, headed by Congress’ Shashi Tharoor, which also has Trinamool Congress’ (TMC) Mohua Moitra, are straining at the leash. The great idealists that they are–never mind they work for parties which are dictatorial—are sleepless at this assault on their professed principles.

Here, certain things don’t add up. The provocation of this report is recent Bengaluru riots. The implication is that the ugly violence was sparked off because Facebook let go a “hate-speech” against Muslims. The WSJ doesn’t name its sources which it claims are from the Facebook India fold itself. However, it has no qualms in naming and shaming the policy head of the Social Media giant.

It’s now known, through a piece by BJP’s IT cell head Amit Malviya, that if anything, Facebook is teeming with anti-BJP voices. It’s managing director is Ajit Mohan, who was a Planning Commission guy during the UPA days. Sidharth Mazumdar of Facebook’s public policy team, was once Sonia Gandhi’s strategist. Manish Khanduri, who headed news alliances for Facebook, had contested the 2019 general elections on a Congress ticket. But Ankhi Das, the policy head, is a BJP sympathizer, never mind her family is “aligned to the Trinamool Congress.” And if these names don’t ring a bell, this one would do: Manish Tewari, Union I&B minister under UPA, is on the board of Atlantic Council, which handles the job of eliminating political propaganda on Facebook.

It might bore you but a couple of sentences must not miss your attention. In the run-up to 2019 General Elections, Congress had engaged Cambridge Analytica. This company was in the business of weaponizing Facebook data and algorithms to influence elections around the world. Documents were submitted in UK parliament by a whistleblower in 2018 that Cambridge Analytica had worked for Congress party in India.  Congress had been caught red-handed.

Doesn’t it beg a question if Facebook is pro-BJP or in fact pro-Congress? Just look at the names who are deleting their Facebook accounts in the last few hours: Nidhi Razdan, Swati Chaturvedi, KC Singh etc. They all are part of Left-Liberals. To me it looks a concerted attack.

Readers, now, let me pose a simple question: If Ankhi Das alone pulls all the strings and is aligned to BJP, how did the Sonia Gandhi go Live on Facebook, where she was on her “aar-ya-paar-ki-ladai” exhortation mode to Muslims, which was followed by Delhi riots killing 59 this February? If Facebook is biased in favour of BJP, how has Asaduddin Owaisi, “the champion of hate-speech” and Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani could whip up thousands of followers on Facebook?

Who do you think is now the policy manager of Facebook? One who has perhaps used the vilest of language against the BJP and the prime minister Narendra Modi. This man is also abusive to Indian army. Does it look to you that Facebook leans towards BJP or Congress? Now we learn that Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is summoning Facebook officials to probe their role in the Delhi riots. Doesn’t it make you appear that a lion (BJP) is being hunted down by wolves?

And please don’t be fooled that Facebook once deleted accounts of Congress sympathizers. Or that Ankhi Das was a proof Facebook was supporting BJP. This is a common mode how you cover your tracks. Arguments which you could always throw at your investigators. You throw a few useless, like Ankhi Das, under the bus to appear pious. Meanwhile, parley with big matrons in the background.

Readers you would now say how does it concern you? It of course concerns you a hell of a lot. You are using Social Media platforms which has banned a strong anti-Left-Liberal voice like Dr Anand Ranganathan on twitter. All for quoting a verse from Quran. Do we need to remind how many times True Indology has been banned on twitter? Do we need to recount the hate posts which were made against Kamlesh Tewari for mentioning the Prophet Muhammad and nothing happened to them?

All this is to let you know that your Social Media platforms are rigged. Nobody knows how their algorithms work. First came the Indian newspapers with monopoly on news and ideas. Then it was democratized with the onset of internet. Now we have same monopolistic roaches, teeming on the floor, which decide who comes in into the kitchen and who stay out. The powers of this world have always wanted to rule the humanity. Whenever masses are empowered, these monsters strike back.

You and I thus stand no chance. The only hope are those who want truth at all costs. It could be you, me or a few of our brave websites. The ones who also hope that one day Indian state and its brightest would work out new Social Media platforms which we could call our own.

Till then, suffer. But fight.

 

 

 

As Bhushan worries on sentence, Lutyens Media gets into overdrive to stop it

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

For SC, two tweets a bid to shake key pillar of democracy”. This is the headline Indian Express has given on Supreme Court holding senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan “guilty” of contempt of court. There is little doubt many in the country would hold a similar opinion. Come on, maan, It isn’t such a big deal.

I have a feeling that many who consider the Supreme Court’s pronouncement as overbearing, if not regressive, don’t recollect the exact tweets which has messed up Prashant Bhushan today, possibly for next six months.

So, let’s get the two “offensive” tweets out of the way first.

In the first tweet, an image of Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde is posted, sitting on a motorcycle. The tweet reads:

“CJI rides a Rs 50 lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan, Nagpur, without a mask or helmet when he keeps the SC in lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access justice.”

In the second tweet, Bhushan pens:

“When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs.”

Both these tweets were posted this year. Both have subsequently been deleted. But you can trust our good old Yogendra Yadav, a wolf in sheep’s clothing to his detractors, keeping them safe for posterity. So, here it is.

Before we look at the two sides of the argument, let’s get the insinuation by Indian Express—“Just two tweets” out of the way.

Tweets of 280 words are actually too many to shake the pillars of society. Three words, uttered to a Muslim woman not long ago, had put millions into a hostage mode for over seven decades. Karl Marx said “Workers of the world unite” and since tens of millions have lost lives to this utopian dream. Galileo Galilei muttered Eppur si muove (Yes, it moves) under his breath when he was forced to recant his belief that it’s the earth which moves around the sun.  Yudhishtir told Guru Dronacharya during the Mahabharat that Ashwasthama is killed, but added almost silently “naro va kunjuru” (whether a man or an elephant). If you are a Hindu, you would believe “dharma” prevailed that day over “adharma”.  If Muslims were not giving a war cry of “Allahu Akbar”, the history of the mankind would’ve been different.

I have rarely seen any newspaper go to this length to report the moment. After all, Bhushan is just a lawyer, howsoever in public eye.  Beginning as lead, the story runs for nearly 1500 words. Then there is a lead editorial in disapproval over the Supreme Court’s ruling.  And, of course, there is Faizan Mustafa, “from the Indian Express panel of specialists” giving his gyaan on the matter, dominating Page 17 of the Delhi edition.

If I was an individual who was object of this derision in Bhushan’s tweets, I would find it insinuating that (a) I am shown hand in gloves with the BJP—riding a motorcycle of a BJP leader in Raj Bhavan”. Clearly two narrative are being pushed here: One, Raj Bhavan in Maharashtra is presently occupied by a BJP Governor; (2) The bike belongs to a BJP leader; and thus Bobde is comfortable enough in the environment to astride it.

The second tweet is a frontal attack. It says that in the last six years, democracy has been destroyed in India and the Supreme Court has played a key role in its destruction.

These are not just two tweets. These are two DAMNING tweets. Besides accusations, these are factually wrong too, as Supreme Court elaborated in its judgement on Thursday, in response to Bhushan’s assertion that SC in a lockdown mode was denying citizens their fundamental right to access justice.  Said SC:

“From 23.3.2020 to 4.8.2020, various benches of the Court have been sitting regularly and discharging their duties through video conferencing. The total number of sittings that the various benches had from 23.3.2020 to 4.8.2020 is 879. During this period, the Court has heart 12748 matters…

“…(Bhushan) has made such a scandalous and malicious statement having himself availed the right of an access to justice during the said period, not only as a lawyer but also as a litigant.”

The thrust of Supreme Court’s view was that such wanton conduct could lower the image and credibility of judiciary in the eyes of the common man for whom Courts alone are a mechanism where he could get justice.

Over the next few days, expect the pressure on judiciary to mount on this matter. The apex court is to announce the quantum of Bhushan’s punishment on August 20.  You would see a concerted campaign to ensure that Prashant Bhushan gets off lightly for his crime. If he gets the maximum of six months of jail, it would send the chill down the spine of those who are in the business of targeting judiciary regularly. It would thin the ranks of axe-wielders on judicial banyan tree. It would upset the entire agenda of a certain set.

We all would see whether the Supreme Court makes an example out of Prashant Bhushan or lets him go lightly, coerced by the media pressure.  Just scan your newspapers closely for next few days. I promise you a lot of fun.

 

A geopolitical tsunami has hit Middle East: It’s music to Modi’s India

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

A geopolitical tsunami has hit Middle East and it has the potential to change the contours and politics of the region for decades.

Israel and United Arab Emirates signed a peace deal in early hours of Friday (Indian Standard Time) which would split open the Middle East into camps of “future” and “past.”

“Future” belongs to those Islamic states who are bound to follow the example of UAE and drop the cloak of hostility of decades against the Jewish state. “Past” is those regressive actors of the region who prefer bloodshed to keep nurturing the blood-soaked tree of hatred and enmity.

First the bare facts. The United States president Donald Trump has announced that Israel and the UAE have reached a diplomatic agreement. In exchange, Israel would suspend the annexation of occupied West Bank territory.

Israel’s embattled prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, assailed by corruption charges, had announced that he would annex 30 percent of West Bank which has Jewish settlers and leave the remaining 70% in the hands of the Palestinian authority.

This was an improvement on the previous plan drawn by Jared Kushner, a senior advisor to his father-in-law Trump, which had outlined a negotiated settlement between the two: West Bank being divided between Israel (30% annexation) and Palestinian Authority (70%) who could set up an independent state. Palestinians lost little time in rejecting the plan.

A peeved Netanyahu then announced that he would annex the 30 percent of West Bank he had in mind for the Jewish state anyway by July 1. It set off a storm of words and finger-wagging. Egypt, Jordan and a host of other Arab states warned of consequences. The Jewish settlers in West Bank were unhappy too.

What happened next was a masterstroke. Israel turned this non-starter into something magical. Netanyahu somehow convinced Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE, nudged of course by Donald Trump, to shake hands and announce a formal deal of peace and prosperity between two sworn enemies. In return, Israel suspended its plan to annex part of West Bank.

Netanyahu could thus show his people that if he hasn’t fulfilled his plans in West Bank, he has been able to strike a historic deal with a traditional enemy. Zayed could tell his people that he was able to stop the annexation of West Bank.

It’s not just a win-win situation for both these nations. Other Gulf sheikhdoms like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman would lose little time in making open what they have been doing secretly with Israel behind public glare. They would hate for the UAE to offer its financial paradise in exchange for Israel’s technological prowess—be it in agriculture, health care or in cyberspace.

The losers of course would be Iran, Turkey, Yemen, Syria and all their proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthis etc who could find themselves out in cold. The Palestinian Authority has also been dealt a body blow. It’s all Arab and Gulf allies would no longer be by its side. It is in this background that one has to view the deadly Israeli cyberattack on Iran in recent months, undeniably bolstered by its growing footprints in the enemy’s camps.

Certain expected reactions are already flowing in. The Palestinian ambassador to the UAE is being recalled over. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has described the deal as “treason.” Hamas has called it “stabbing in the back of our people.”

Netanyahu meanwhile has announced his commitment to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. This is only for the consumption of his domestic audience. It won’t happen soon. Netanyahu would hope this deal with UAE would secure his place in history, like it did for Richard Nixon, battling Watergate, by opening the doors of China for the world.

It’s a marvellous news for Indian ears. India has grown astonishingly close to Saudi Arabia and UAE during Modi government’s two tenure at the helm. It had been concerned about its deteriorating ties with Iran and has watched it with alarm that the latter has fallen into the lap of China. India has also been upset by Turkey’s hostility, its president Recep Tayyip Erdogan using his acerbic tongue like a Wild West desperado does by shooting from its hips.

Better still, this deal will hurt Pakistan big time. It would force them to come out in open, in support or against the deal. It’s given it won’t support the Israel-UAE deal. It would thus only push them into more regressive elements of Islamic world. A Sunni Pakistan in bed with a Shia Iran is a delicious prospect we shall await.

Bengaluru burns and a Muslim names his son “Krishna” on Janmashtami: What’s the connection?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

The news from Bengaluru is disturbing. A facebook post on the Prophet Muhammad enraged a mob of Muslims; they went on a rampage; hundreds of vehicles were burnt; dozens of policemen injured; houses put to torch; people killed. Alongside are stories of how Muslims formed a human chain to protect a Hindu temple from being vandalized; how a Muslim father named his son as “Krishna” as he was born on Krishna Janmashtami.

Bear with me for a couple of minutes as I build the background for you to connect the dots. In the hope that you would become a careful consumer of news and not one who just swallows any vomit by our newspapers.

I not only consume but also create news so know where my objectivity ends and bias begins. It’s true for most. We won’t disagree too that Muslims by and large don’t favour BJP. Or that your Sikh cousins—intermarriages are common, my mom was a Sikhni—would greet you on Holi and Deepawali but try telling them that Sikhs have emerged from the Hindus. Or that Sikhs are required to this day to register their marriage as Hindus.

I also notice a practice which if you are not careful enough would pass you by. Whenever Muslims as a religious minority do something which alarms the nation, by causing riots, killing civilians or soldiers, stories would start doing rounds in newspapers about how a few Muslims are reaching out to Hindus and shielding them from arsonists, how a few Muslims are upholding the ganga-jamuni tehzeeb, how a few were exemplary citizens before the state turned them into monsters.

Barkha Dutt made sure that the nation never forgets Burhan Wani was the son of a school teacher even if he happened to be the poster boy of Hizbul Mujahideen; that another top Hizbul commander Riaz Naikoo was a math teacher; and so on and so on. Who would forget the Indian Express headline: “And they hanged Yakub Memon”? It’s a classic news report which should be a matter of eternal shame for the newspaper. Please read it.

If somebody was reading the story today, he wouldn’t have a clue what Memon did for which he was hanged. There is no mention at all of why the State deemed Memon to have done a crime grave enough to be hanged. NO MENTION AT ALL. All you have is a poignant report of a man preparing for his final moment; fresh white kurta pyjama, letters exchanged in English with his family etc. Oh, I must tell you Memon had been found guilty in 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts which had left 257 killed.

Why do you think this happens? Why the innocent killing of civilians, threat to national security, incalculable damage to assets fades into the background and the image of an innocent, lovable kid in the neighbourhood, one whose only affair was with books and academics, is kept in your face? Why no sooner Pulwama happens, which leaves 46 of our soldiers martyred, you find stories in our newspapers that Kashmiri students all over the country are being beaten in hostels, in streets, and that they are fleeing and railways stations are filling up? Why a sympathetic narrative is spun alongside a grave crime?

On matters of Kashmir Valley or Punjab insurgency, it’s simply to cast in stone the image of a carefree youngster who was alienated enough by the Indian state to turn into a terrorist. Remember, movie “Maachis”? The chief protagonist only loafs around with his friends when police frames them and puts them on the run, seeking revenge against the system.

Now let’s return to today. Let’s look closely at the Muslim man who has named his “Krishna” on Janmashtami. Aziz Khan belongs to Indore in Madhya Pradesh. India Abroad News Service (IANS) informs us that “the doctor Praveen Jadia asked for the baby’s name to be filled in for the form. I immediately named our boy as Krishna, as the day was Janmashtami.

“Although the doctors and other family members objected to it, but I told them that a father has the right to give any name to his child.”

The IANS further adds: Khan’s mother Yaniki had suggested another name “Kafir” but Aziz did not change it.

What say folks. Teary-eyed. Angry at right-wingers poking fingers at innocent, harried Indian muslims? The violence still on in Bengaluru already faded in your memory? The anger you felt at Muslims taking their reverence to their Prophet to murderous levels already diluted?

So let me disappoint you readers.  This story is a dozen years old. This happened in 2008. Why this story is doing rounds now after 12 years? it’s commendable but what relevance it has to the present situation which would only polarize society, feed the islamist elements and is bad for all of us? Try googling this story and you would see every newspaper, magazine, website swooning over the exemplary Muslim.

That’s why I say folks connect dots. When your respected Tauji forwards a WhatsApp image moved by his proclivity for Narendra Modi or his undying faith in the Gandhi clan, THINK. When your aunt in Pondicherry has just forwarded a map which shows Chinese incursion in the Galwan Valley, PAUSE. I guess now there are more economists in our homes than we had ever suspected. Or the very next day, these economists are ready with their nuanced view on India’s latest defence purchase.  If you, reader, are an evolved consumer of news, it would foil their sinister designs. India only breaks up when its citizens don’t connect what they consume as news.

 

Why China is not bothered at the world screaming in its ears?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

There is a reason why China doesn’t give a damn to retaliatory measures by the United States, Europe, India or anyone else for that matter.

Individuals or nations don’t turn their back on overflowing coffers and even if they make noise, there is little by way of action on the ground—or ocean if you have South China Sea in mind.

The world today is a buyers’ market and China is stuffing yuan in mouths which open up with the honest intention of registering their protests against the Beijing.

The latest trade figures of China in June are breathtaking. When the world is said to be angry at Coronavirus pandemic and neighbours are traumatized by the Middle Kingdom’s bullying, China’s exports have picked up. The biggest shock though is that its imports have risen by 2.7 per cent too, implying that more money is reaching the pockets of distressed economies of the world.

This is not Cold War II—as analysts are fond of saying these days.  Soviet Union was an empire cut off by the liberal or western world. China, in contrast, doesn’t have an empire. It just has found a way to every central bank and command structure of the nations.

This is more than geopolitics. This is geo-economics.

We all had thought that it’s payback time for a boorish China, induced by the pandemic. Well, it imported $167.15 billion worth of goods in June 2020 and made a nonsense of the Bloomberg prediction of a 10 per cent slump. China meanwhile exported $213.6 billion which is a hike of 0.5 per cent.

If China could import as much as it exports—presently some $46.2 billion adrift—it could scoff at punitive actions by the rest of the world as not just economies but the global industrial chain and trade won’t move without its consent.

China’s imports have taken off since their domestic market today is worth 41.2 trillion yuan. It has grown at a breakneck speed in last six years, contributing 57.8 percent to GDP growth during this spell.

Interestingly, its trade surplus hasn’t dropped by much against the United States. In June, it was $29.41 billion compared to $29.91 a year ago at the same stage.

China’s imports of copper concentrate from the United States is its highest in nearly two years. It’s purchase of iron ore has jumped to 35.3 per cent since October 2017. The arrival of soybeans has climbed by 71 per cent. It has imported record meat, including offal, which is nearly 74 per cent up to the same period a year ago.

And this is cutting across all ideologies, without distinction between friends and rivals. For instance, China is about to open its money reserves for beleaguered Iran. Yet, the arch rivals of the Islamic Republic—Saudi Arabia—is the biggest exporter of oil to Beijing. China’s crude oil imports from the Saudi kingdom has risen by 15% in June. This record import is in the shadow of price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s top oil exporters. This is when Moscow, as we know, is said to be the blood-brother of Beijing these days. On top of it, China has also boosted its inflows from Brazil, Norway and Angola.

India of course is a very minor trading partner for China since it imports a mere 3% of China’s overall exports. New Delhi could hurt mega business houses of China, especially the digital kind, but it’s not to say it is bringing beads of sweat on Beijing’s forehead.

India could feel that it has favourable neighbouring relations with the governments in Afghanistan and Bangladesh but China, against it, has brought Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal in its fold. It’s planning to invest $50 billion in Bangladesh over the next couple of years.

China, further, has deployed its military infrastructure around Indian Ocean. It already has eight naval ships in these waters. It has sold 10 submarines to India’s neighbours—8 to Pakistan and 2 to Bangladesh. It has a naval base in Djibouti and a military surveillance capability on Myanmar’s Coco island. It’s offering land exchange to Myanmar.

So even though one keeps hearing the angst of world against China, in effect little is changing on the ground. It would take more than mere rhetoric to keep China honest. So far there is little to suggest that the world is walking the talk.