Friday, March 31, 2006

Spare a thought

I often wonder how history lovers in the coming years will react to the prejudice of our times.

End of march 2006: A democratically-elected Hamas takes office in the Palestinian areas. As if by sheer coincidence, in Isreal, Kadima wins the elections and is currently deliberating upon to form a new government. How time changes! Both the hawkish Likud and an incompetent Fatah are relegated to shadows. The power equations have changed in the world's powder keg -- the middle-east. Both the Palestinian Legislative Council and Knesset in Isreal have new leaders who are expected to steer the course of their region to peace. Sadly, this is where all similarities end and the bedlam begins.

Isreal has put in place a shameful travel ban between Gaza and the West bank. Ergo, several elected Hamas ministers could not make it to the Gaza Strip and the swearing-in ceremony had to be held through a video-conference link. I couldn't help draw a tiny smile as I watched the surreal spectacle on my TV. It must be hard to be a Palestinian in real terms. Here you have their elected leaders, staring at a screen hanging on a forlorn wall, because the big bully Isreal says you cannot walk in your own land.

The international community -- euphemism for the US -- wants Hamas to recognise Isreal. Now the whole issue of legitimizing Isreal is so very diametrical and complex. I guess holding a gun to Ismael Haniya -- the Palestinian PM -- on the very day he assumes power is a little unjust. Western nations, led by Canada and the US moved quick to cut off funding to the Palestinians, triggering an immediate financial crisis that might delay March salary payments to more than 140,000 public employees next week while almost one in four Palestinians remains unemployed, and 43% live below the poverty line. The Palestinian Authority gets a large part of its $1.9 billion annual budget from overseas sources because Isreal still controls its borders and does not allow it to conduct free trade with other nations.

Most experts agree that the downturn in economic activity has been largely the result of Israeli closure policies -- the imposition of generalized border closures -- which has now disrupted the previously established labor and commodity market relationships between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS).

This amounts to a gruesome and abject blackmailing of myriad innocent people who have been reeling under occupation for the better part of their collective memories. Isreal has already cut the tax money it levies for whatever the Palestinians contrive to produce. The taxes amount to hundreds of millions of dollars and rightfully belongs to the Palestinians.

My simple guess is that Palestinians will live through this. They have been witness to unimaginable attrocities inflicted upon them. Once the most affluent of the Arab people, these folks have been rendered penniless through years of systematic oppression. No amount of UN resolutions against Isreal -- asking it to stop the racist discrimination -- could do any good. The US looked the other way. It still does!

I think the Palestinian valor will save them this time also. They have always been a proud nation. On a more pargamatic note, perhaps the Arab league -- ever frightful of the US -- bails them out. Or may be every member of the Palestinian diaspora contibutes a ten dolar bill to her homeland. Or may be all of us who empathise with them!

Sameer Bhat
Israeli military measures in Palestinian Authority areas have resulted in the destruction of much capital plant and administrative structure, widespread business closures, and a sharp drop in GDP. [GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $800 in the West Bank (2002 est.) $600 in the Gaza Strip (2003 est.)] The most serious negative social effect of this downturn has been the emergence of chronic unemployment and average unemployment rates. (UN estimates )

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A very Special Drink

There was something about the drink
it felt lemony as it sank
Billions of sparkles on my cheek
it was tingling as it rose

It was little but it was sharp
it felt bitter-sweet within
I don't always plim like this
but couldn't resist the yank


My fav economist!

There are a great variety of identities to which we simultaneously belong. I can be, at the same time, an Asian, an Indian citizen, a Bengali with Bangladeshi ancestry, an American or British resident, an economist, a dabbler in philosophy, an author, a Sanskritist, a strong believer in secularism and democracy, a man, a feminist, a heterosexual, a defender of gay and lesbian rights, with a non-religious lifestyle; from a Hindu background, a non-Brahmin, and a non-believer in after-life.

Dr Amartya Sen, speaking in New Delhi on Tuesday March 28, 2006.

Amartya Sen teaches Economics and Philosophy at the Harvard university. He bagged the Nobel Prize in Economics in 98 for his phenomenal work on human development theory, welfare economics, and the underlying mechanisms of poverty.

Ps- I am currently reading his latest book 'The Argumentative Indian'.

Wanna hold my hand here!

Mon ami...Je sais que je ne peut pas vous avoir mais je suis béni vous avoir aimé


Monday, March 27, 2006

Why we miss??

Why does one miss? What is that makes us miss someone? How do we miss some and not all? Frankly, the very thought befuddles me. The idea is confusing, I understand.

We miss even when we are physically surrounded. Not many can make out that these are the drab moments of absense that tickle us in our sub-conciousness. The hard pangs. When we miss like hell. Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated.

All of us miss. The strong and the enfeebled. I guess we miss because we care. And because we love. It is such a exquisite human trait. I face it. That deep lump in my throat. Heart skipping doubly fast. The bizarre feeling of desperation. Of helplessness. Of trying to obliterate the distances. Efface what's between us. Can't. Strange worldly affairs. Norms. Decorum. These notions have been strifling human desires for ages.

There are times when I just want to break free. I trust Søren Kierkegaard, the maverick 19th century Danish existentialist when he says, 'It belongs to the imperfection of everything human that man can only attain his desire by passing through its opposite.' Life throws these hard snowballs at me. I hope I have the courage to hold forth and duck and throw bigger balls back at her.

Last night, my eyes turned torpid reading a book. I remember, the last lines I read...If I never met you, I wouldn't like you. If I didn't like you, I wouldn't love you. If I didn't love you, I wouldn't miss you. But I did, I do, and I will.

I vegged out soon after. A lost smile swimming in my thoughts. Only I know its destination!



Everytime the door bell rang
It is you, my sloppy heart sang
Everytime the phone beeped
It is you, my thoughts leaped


Thursday, March 23, 2006

When do I think of you?

I think of you amidst a crowd and the chorus of city sounds
for that is my song, and you are the music
You are my first thought of each new day
and the last image I glimpse,
as my eyes are closed upon a feathered pillow.
In that secret place called sleep, it is you that I search for,
through shades of darkness and clouds of cotton.
And, when the final sleep does come
and if there is thought... it will be of you.

Sponging: Joe


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

To wear or not to wear

The Western world is caught up in a flux. In london, the law lords today overturned a previous court ruling that Muslim teenager Shabina's human rights were violated when she was banned from wearing a Jilbab -- a full gown -- at her school. The French have an open ban against wearing the Hijab. Belgium and Germany are considering doing the same. The Dutch recently introduced strident measures for probable immigrants, failing which they cannot live in The Netherlands.

The European motivation for the ban is draped in references to their secular tradition. Public schools -- they argue -- form a privileged closed universe which emphasizes the values of male-female equality and mutual respect. So no overt symbols of religosity, please! No head-scarves. No body-covering. Point taken, monsieurs.

I think there is something profoundly hypocritical in banning religious symbols in the name of secularism and gender equality -- while the French government continues to subsidize private education for the globally influential misogynist religion -- the Catholic Church -- at a higher rate per pupil than public schools. Wearing the hijab is "a sort of aggression" Jacques Chiraq, the lank French Prez says. An aggression by choice, I surmise.

The choice to don a scarf or wear a beard or put on a cross should be the sole liberty and right of an individual. I -- for instance -- won't like my girl friend to wear a scarf. However, if she wants to wear one, either out of religious reasons or as a matter of choice, I would not mind. I reckon modern states must have no business telling school-children how not to dress. If the Dutch do not feel intimidated by a topless girl walking out of a beach -- I would sure enjoy that -- do they really need to fret at a frail girl covering her hair. The mere comparisons are outrageous.

It is about cultures. Hijab is to many muslims what a turban is to a religious sikh. Take a hat away from a cowboy. Take a yarmukle off a jewish head. Take a kimono from a Jap. Baloney! Globalisation was supposed to blur these distinctions. So we see western tunics being worn in public schools in my homeland India and elsewhere. If wearing denims is okey and I believe it is, so must be the Hijab. We can't claim to be liberal while go about banning cultural symbols.

It is about race. The Europeans have practiced it. The Brits, the French especially. When the français needed their erstwhile subjects to lay train roads or dig tunnels for them back in the 1940's and 50's they got them to work like mules. The immigrants significantly contributed towards french nation building*. Only when their second generation grows up in Paris suburbs and starts attending schools, you go cold in your feet. It smacks of racism.

The Europeans practice an absurd, extreme form of secularism which has indeed come to rubbish everything that secularism stands for. We seem to be at such a point in history where we care too much about the rights of birds, beatles, trans-sexuals and squirrels. When governments enmasse abolish something that is central to the belief of so many people, the cherished human rights go up in flames. Like Jeanne d'Arc. That was 1431. This is 2006.

sameer bhat

* As the major colonial power after Britain, France could call on a potential workforce from what is called the Maghreb (North-West Africa: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia), certain countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (Senegal), Indochina (South-East Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos) and the DOM-TOM (Départements d'outre-mer and Térritoires d'outre-mer) like Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guyana (in the Caribbean) and Reunion Island (in the Indian Ocean).
The vast majority of these were from Algeria, the jewel in the crown of the French colonial empire.
(Source: The University of Sunderland)
Former President Jimmy Carter builds a home in Africa.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Never too late!

An excellent piece by the former US Prez Jimmy Carter in The Guardian. (My fav US politician and fav broadsheet)

Israel should withdraw from the occupied territories, and its right to exist must be recognised by all Arabs

Jimmy Carter
Monday March 20, 2006
The Guardian

For more than a quarter of a century, Israeli policy has been in conflict with that of the US and the international community. Israel's occupation of Palestine has obstructed a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land - regardless of whether Palestinians had no formal government, one headed by Yasser Arafat, or one with Mahmoud Abbas as president and Hamas controlling the parliament and the cabinet.The unwavering US position since Dwight Eisenhower's administration has been that Israel's borders coincide with those established in 1949, and, since 1967, the universally adopted UN resolution 242 has mandated Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories. As part of the Quartet, including Russia, the UN and the EU, George Bush has endorsed a "road map" for peace. But Israel has officially rejected its basic premises.

With Israel's approval, the Carter Centre has monitored all three Palestinian elections. They have all been honest and peaceful, with the results accepted by winners and losers. Hamas will control the cabinet and prime minister's office, but Abbas retains all authority exercised by Arafat. Abbas still heads the PLO, the only Palestinian entity recognised by Israel. He has unequivocally endorsed the Quartet's road map. Post-election polls show that 80% of Palestinians still want a peace agreement with Israel and nearly 70% support Abbas as president.

Israel has announced a policy of destabilising the new government (perhaps joined by the US). The elected officials will be denied travel permits, and every effort is being made to block funds to Palestinians. In the short run, the best approach is to give the dust a chance to settle and await the outcome of Israel's election this month. Hamas now wishes to consolidate its political gains, maintain domestic order and stability, and refrain from contacts with Israel. It will be a tragedy if it promotes or condones terrorism.

The pre-eminent obstacle to peace is Israel's colonisation of Palestine. There were just a few hundred settlers in the West Bank and Gaza when I became president, but the Likud government expanded settlement activity after I left office. Although President Bill Clinton made strong efforts to promote peace, a massive increase of settlers occurred during his administration, to 225,000 [not including East Jerusalem], mostly while Ehud Barak was prime minister. Their best official offer to the Palestinians was to withdraw 20% of them, leaving 180,000 in 209 settlements, covering about 5% of the occupied land.

The 5% figure is grossly misleading, with surrounding areas earmarked for expansion, roadways joining settlements with each other and to Jerusalem, and wide arterial swaths providing water, sewerage, electricity and communications. This intricate honeycomb divides the West Bank into fragments, often uninhabitable or even unreachable.

Recently, Israeli leaders have decided on unilateral actions without involving either the US or the Palestinians, with withdrawal from Gaza as the first step. As presently isolated, without access to the air, sea, or the West Bank, Gaza is a non-viable economic and political entity. The future of the West Bank is equally dismal. Especially troublesome is Israel's construction of huge concrete dividing walls in populated areas and high fences in rural areas. The wall is designed to surround a truncated Palestine completely.

This will never be acceptable either to Palestinians or to the international community, and will inevitably precipitate increased tension within Palestine and stronger resentment from the Arab world against America, which will be held accountable for the plight of the Palestinians.

The acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and others pointed out years ago that Israel's permanent occupation will be increasingly difficult as the relative number of Jewish citizens decreases demographically both within Israel and in Palestine. This is obvious to most Israelis, who also view this dominant role as a distortion of their ancient moral and religious values. Over the years, opinion polls have consistently shown that about 60% of Israelis favour withdrawing from the West Bank in exchange for permanent peace.

Casualties have increased during the past few years as the occupying forces imposed tighter controls. From September 2000 until March 2006, 3,982 Palestinians and 1,084 Israelis were killed in the conflict, and this includes many children: 708 Palestinian and 123 Israeli.
There is little doubt that accommodation with Palestinians can bring full Arab recognition of Israel and its right to live in peace. Any rejectionist policies of Hamas or any terrorist group will be overcome by an Arab commitment to restrain further violence and to promote the wellbeing of the Palestinian people.

Down through the years, I have seen despair evolve into optimism. Even now, we need not give up hope for permanent peace for Israelis and freedom for Palestinians if three basic premises are honoured:

1. Israel's right to exist - and to live in peace - must be recognised and accepted by Palestinians and all other neighbours.
2. The killing of innocent people by suicide bombs or other acts of violence cannot be condoned.
3. Palestinians must live in peace and dignity, and permanent Israeli settlements on their land are a major obstacle to this goal.

James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. (born October 1, 1924) was the 39th President of the United States (1977–1981) and the Nobel Peace laureate in 2002. (With Thanks -- The Guardian)

Friday, March 17, 2006


I think we dream so we don't have to be apart so long. If we're in each others dreams, we can be together all the time.
Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679)
English philosopher and anthropologist.

I dreamt a tiny dream
I stood in a bright vale
Someone crept by my side
I kept looking at the sky

I tugged at the figure
It was standing very quiet
I shouted at the wilderness
The eyes never turned to me

I threw water at the swan
The drops resembled a teardrop
When cobs and pens swing
my whooper swan shall fly

We ran with eyes shut
on a vast emerald field
Wind blew on my face
God! Let this dream go on

Samy -- after a dream!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I am unwell!

There are times when the self becomes too much with you. When you want to lie down and just laze around. When you flip through the TV remote and cruise endless channels. The sameness of TV. Tonelessness. Someone truly called it an idiot box. The incessant commercials. The reruns, the resays, the reshows. You want to read something. Water your grey cells. You don't. You feel sick in your tummy. A moth lifts from your heart, takes a full cricle and sits plumply back again. You think something. Impish, naughty meanderings. You long for solace. It doesn't come.

Many people will never understand you in life. You may be good. In your heart. In your thoughts. It happens often, whenever you want to hear someone, the voices go dim. Whenever you want to express yourself, the feelings don't come. Whenever you want to hug, the distances grow long like shadows towards evening. I guess, we must learn to striddle life as it comes. And it never comes easy!

You love and feel stupid. You don't love and feel empty. You yearn and feel wretched. You don't yearn and feel listless. You miss someone and go bonkers in your head. You don't miss and accuse being called heartless. Strange ways of a sloppy world!

I know I am being Socratic today. He was an ancient Athenian philosopher and teacher to Plato and Xenophon. I am a student of life.

Generally I am not like this.
Just one of those days.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Love is.....!

love is not a color
love is not a game
love is just a feeling
love is really lame

love will make u smile
love will make u cry
love will make u confused
love will make u ask why

love is really stupid
love makes me wana die
love will come to an end
love will then make u cry


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Love is a Force of Nature

I watched the much awaited flick Brokeback Mountain. It is an unusual movie. It talks about forbidden emotions. It rips open closeted taboos. It blurs that thin rubicon between what is acceptable and what should be unacceptable. The film dwells upon the little secrets that make life worthwhile. Secrets that often go to the grave as we die. Impossible love!

We often lead straight, normal, regular lives. Acceptable and loved. Maverick director Ang Lee touches upon a very sensitive topic -- at a time of extreme rightwingism -- and comes out with amazing results. The film is a powerhouse of emotions. Highly anticipated and told with stunning truthfulness. One word: Intense.

My guess is that the film won't do brisk business in India. It is not your usual hollywood fare. Huge heros. Black hawks. Dazzle. Imagery. Nothing of that sort. The film borders on the offbeat genre. It is European art-house in its overall feel. The silences speak. Audiences in India generally require a big dose of everything. Emotions, melodrama, action -- whatever! Brokeback has subdued, real emotions but nothing appears loud. It is all very very aesthetic. There is nothing for the pedestrian. I reckon, apart from our liberal intellectuals, queer activists and may be a limited brainy lot like it.

Set against the sweeping vistas of Wyoming and Texas, Brokeback Mountain is the story of two handsome young men Ennis del Mar -- quiet and lot of airs -- played by Heath Ledger and Jack Twist -- naughty and optimistic -- played by Jake Gyllenhaal.They meet on a shepherding job on the Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming. The year is 1963. The world which Ennis and jack have been born into is at once changing rapidly and yet scarcely evolving. Both young men seem certain of their set places in the heartland - obtaining steady work, marrying and raising a family - and yet hunger for something beyond what they can articulate. When Aguirre dispatches them to work as shepherds up on the majestic Brokeback Mountain, they gravitate towards camaraderie and then a deeper intimacy. The film beautifully documents their complex and emotional relationship over the next twenty years.

Jack Twist: [looking over at Ennis in the firelight; he has laid back and is looking up at the stars, smiling] Anything interesting up there in heaven?
Ennis Del Mar: [for the first time in a long time, content] I was just sending up a prayer of thanks.
Jack Twist: For what?
Ennis Del Mar: [with a wink and a smile] For you forgettin' to bring that harmonica. I'm enjoyin' the peace and quiet.

I won't spoil the party for those who are yet to catch it.

It is indeed an epic American love story. Career defining performances. Marvellous cinematography. Romantic. 130 minutes of emotive trek. Ridden with obstacles. Alone, private moments. Far from the maddening crowds. Love can be impossible!

The original story ' Brokeback Mountain' has gotten the coverted Pulitzer Prize, the highest prize in literature in the US. At the 78th Academy Awards, the movie bagged the Best Director - Ang Lee, Best Adapted Screenplay (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana) and Best Original Score - (Gustavo Santaolalla). They didn't give it the best film trophy. Love, as they say, isn't so easy!

Whats more ...the film's already grabbed 50 different awards, chiefly:

59th BAFTA Award
Directors Guild of America Award
European Film Award
63rd Golden Globe Award
Independent Spirit Award
Producer's Guild Award
62nd Venice International Film Festival: "Golden Lion" for Best Film
Writers Guild of America Award

sameer bhat

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A date with the Left

Wednesday morning rush hour. My mate, Wassy was taking his usual trot to office when he spotted one of India's most sought after and powerful couples.

Prakash and Brinda Karat.

A quick word and the lovely couple graced Wassy's leather dairy with their famous autographs. They say outside of the establishment only the Karat family is taken seriously.

Prakash Karat is a leading intellectual and the chief of Indian commies. Smart, well-educated and fiery, Prakash is an almuni of the prestigeous University of Edinburgh where he was rusticated for anti-apartheid protests but taken back on good behaviour. Low-profile, articulate and widely respected for his sustained work for the under-priviledged.

Brinda Karat is the ultimate activitist. A rajya sabha member of parl, she is the first woman to be a member of the CPI(M) Politburo. Her father Sooraj Das was the head of the British engineering firm Stuarts and Llyods based in Calcutta. Brinda was educated at the elite Welham Girl's School in Dehradun and is a rank-holder from the illustrious Miranda House, Delhi. While working for Air-India in London, she campaigned against the mandatory wearing of skirts in the airlines. When she came back to India, Brinda worked for the people. Beautiful, savvy and a raspy voice!

(With thanks to Wassy for allowing me to reproduce the auto-graphs)

Nature, I love thee!

Shall we gather at the river
Where bright angel feet have trod;
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?


Friday, March 03, 2006

Deconstructing Dubya

They misunderestimated me — George Bush, Bentonville, Arkansas, 6 November 2000
One of Dubya's countless Bushisms

You may hate him or love him but you cannot afford to ignore George W. Bush. He is the world's most powerful man and singularly responsible for much of world's present mayhem.

Frankly, I don't like him. I have a bagful of reasons to despise Bush. He sounds arrogant and stupid. Many Indian diplomats I spoke to seemed mighty pleased with Bush's charm but that can only pass as the presidential hangover. Aren't we bowled over by almost every foreign dignitary who comes visiting. Remember Clinton.

First things first. This straight-talking cowboy misled the entire world into believing that Iraq possessed deadly weapons of mass destruction, when there were actually none. He soon turned into a war-monger -- thanks to his hawk-team -- and invaded two sovereign nations -- one after another -- in his first presidential term. Innumerable innocent people lost their lives in Bush's unjust wars. He continues to recklessly fiddle with the world order.

Bush thrives on controversy. He began with controversy. The Florida recount issue -- that brought him into power back in 2000 -- was invalid because it violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment in the US constitution -- as different counties used different methods for determining voter intent. Bush had infact lost Florida by at least several hundred verifiable, legal votes. In a 5-4 decision, the U. S. Supreme Court put an end to the recounting of presidential votes in Florida, handing over the presidency to George on a platter.

He continued with controversy. 9/11 gave him a pretext to go marauding. He used every dirty trick to do that. There were attempts to impeach him in the US for misleading the nation. His blokes in the White house got indicted on felony counts for lying. He junked the Kyoto protocol, rubbished the International Court of Justice and often considers UN irrelevant. Intellectuals of the free world have no love lost for him. Chomsky to Finkelstein. Arundhati Roy to Harold Pinter.

He is -- however -- the golden boy of the right-wing club. He has a conservative mind and thinks like any Ayatollah of Iran.

However, despite himself, there is something about this man that calls for attention, if not admiration. True, he might lack the aura of Bill Clinton or the intellectual breadth of Al-Gore, Bush is no simpleton. I am sure, his policies and legacy will have a profound impact on the modern world. Politics to Economics.

Reverberations that may be difficult to snuff out very soon!

The man may appear bluffing to the world or to his beloved US but again he is always true to himself. He sticks his neck out everytime there is a crisis and stands by what he says. No wonder he often means business. That is one reason he appeals to many.

I am happy Bush gave India the best gift -- the civilian nuclear pact -- we could have ever anticipated. The move is likely to raise tempers back home in the US but as they say -- the man, lives off controversy! Loves it.

Thank you, mate!

sameer bhat

Thursday, March 02, 2006

They knew it!

They knew it was in the coming. The strife in Iraq. The killings. The reprisal attacks. The civil war. The ghastly face of terrorism. As Bush warms upto India -- its newest friend in a unilateral world -- reports that U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned the White House, starting in 2003, 'that the insurgency in Iraq had deep local roots, was likely to worsen and could lead to civil war'.

Sponging: But the term 'civil war', chillingly familiar from Lebanon in the 1970s or Algeria in the 1990s, is too neat: Iraq is embroiled in a war of all against all, supercharged mayhem in which Shia militias fight each other; the Kurds have a fully-fledged army; al-Qaida and foreign fighters work with Ba'athists and armed criminals run rackets. The road ahead leads to warlordism and anarchy, as The Guardian puts it.

Wayne White, a veteran State Department intelligence analyst, wrote recently that when it became clear that the 2003 report would forecast grim prospects for tamping down the insurgency, a senior official exclaimed rhetorically, 'How can I take this upstairs -- to CIA Director George Tenet?'

Was the caveat deliberately ignored? Was it another blip?

There were lives at stake. Poor Iraqi's at each other's thoats now and ofcourse the US military who find themsleves deeply sucked in the Iraq ruckus. How could such a significant report be overlooked?

Meanwhile, Bush rejoices in India. Dick perfects his bad shots. Rummy is busy addressing anti-commie speeches in true Truman-era style. No one seems to notice the small news-report that -- had it been acted upon -- might have saved the world a little more innocent blood.

sameer bhat

Lakeside Sentinel

Alone I dream of you,
Alone I hope and pray,
to God who is oh so merciful and powerful
to let me find my way.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bush Baby Go Home

Here, an interesting write-up by Arundhati Roy in The Guardian, London

(Thats my fav Newspaper and fav writer)

Arundhati Roy
Wednesday March 1, 2006
The Guardian

On his triumphalist tour of this part of the world, where he hopes to wave imperiously at people he considers potential subjects, President Bush's itinerary is getting curiouser and curiouser. For his March 2 pit stop in New Delhi, the Indian government tried very hard to have him address our Parliament. A not inconsequential number of MPs threatened to heckle him, so Plan One was hastily shelved. Plan Two was that he address the masses from the ramparts of the magnificent Red Fort where the Indian prime minister traditionally delivers his Independence Day address. But the Red Fort, surrounded as it is by the predominantly Muslim population of Old Delhi, was considered a security nightmare. So now we're into Plan Three: President George Bush speaks from Purana Qila, the Old Fort.

Ironic, isn't it, that the only safe public space for a man who has recently been so enthusiastic about India's modernity should be a crumbling medieval fort?Since the Purana Qila also houses the Delhi zoo - George Bush's audience will be a few hundred caged animals and an approved list of caged human beings who in India go under the category of "eminent persons". They're mostly rich folk who live in our poor country like captive animals, incarcerated by their own wealth, locked and barred in their gilded cages, protecting themselves from the threat of the vulgar and unruly multitudes whom they have systematically dispossessed over the centuries.

So what's going to happen to George W Bush? Will the gorillas cheer him on? Will the gibbons curl their lips? Will the brow-antlered deer sneer? Will the chimps make rude noises? Will the owls hoot? Will the lions yawn and the giraffes bat their beautiful eyelashes? Will the crocs recognise a kindred soul? Will the quails give thanks that Bush isn't travelling with Dick Cheney, his hunting partner with the notoriously bad aim? Will the CEOs agree?

Oh, and on March 2 Bush will be taken to visit Gandhi's memorial in Rajghat. He's by no means the only war criminal who has been invited by the Indian government to lay flowers at Rajghat. (Only recently we had the Burmese dictator General Than Shwe, no shrinking violet himself.) But when George Bush places flowers on that famous slab of highly polished stone, millions of Indians will wince. It will be as though he has poured a pint of blood on the memory of Gandhi.
We really would prefer that he didn't.

It is not in our power stop Bush's visit. It is in our power to protest it, and we will. The government, the police and the corporate press will do everything they can to minimise the extent of our outrage. Nothing the Happy-news Papers say can change the fact that all over India, from the biggest cities to the smallest villages, in public places and private homes, George W Bush, incumbent president of the United States of America, world nightmare incarnate, is just not welcome.

(With Thanks, The Guardian)