Evil that Men Do
New Type PIL
Hired for Days
Speaking in Hindi
The Chinese Way
I write this edition of the Diary on a fateful day – the anniversary of the world’s first atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. And this year the appeal of “never again” of the world’s first atomic bomb attack has gained poignant urgency as North Korea relentlessly moves ever closer to acquiring nuclear weapons which it may be rash enough to unleash.
Many Japanese and others in the region seem resigned to North Korea’s apparent newfound capacity – thanks to their Chinese friends – to launch missiles capable of reaching most of the continental United States. The threat however lends a deeper sense of alarm in Hiroshima, where 140,000 died in that first A–bomb attack, which was followed on August 9, 1945, by another that killed more than 70,000 people in Nagasaki.
“This hell is not a thing of the past,” Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui warned mankind at Sunday’s ceremony. Today, a single bomb can cause even greater damage than the bombs dropped 72 years ago,
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will forever live in the pages of history as two of the most significant turning points in modern history, initiating the world into the much-dreaded nuclear age. The lives destroyed, the torture endured, the repercussions still felt today, haunt not only the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the American psyche as well.
After 1945, much has been written and discussed concerning the atomic bombs and the discovery of nuclear energy, yet very little was written about the fate of the two cities destroyed by the atomic bombs or the suffering of the Japanese people as a result of the atomic bombs.
Evil Men Do
President Ram Nath Kovind’s inaugural speech made mention of the contribution of celebrities like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, B R Ambedkar and Deendayal Upadhyaya. And, deservedly so! But then, lo and behold, he completely omitted to even make a mention, of all the people, of the name and achievements of Jawaharlal Nehru. Shocking indeed!! No wonder the Indian National Congress – aka mother-son party – was shell-shocked. There are reports that they haven’t yet recovered from it.
However, what’s that which prompted President Kovind to leave out Nehru’s name? Wasn’t he the thrice–elected Prime Minister of India and who’s supposed to be the founder of Indian democracy?
Then I recalled Mark Antony
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interrèd with their bones.
So let it be with Caesar.
Nehru indeed made mistakes, some of them monumental indeed like his assessment of China and his pro–Muslim brand of secularism. He also was arrogant, self–opinionated and, above all, prone to be influenced by self–serving sycophants. And, his mistakes, on the whole, perhaps out-weigh his achievements. But should he then be omitted altogether from the list of makers and shakers of modern India?
It’s ironical indeed that history records the wrongs of people in more stringent terms that are long remembered, while their good deeds tend to be forgotten or glossed over altogether,
New Type PIL
The continuing interest of the media, most especially of Republic TV, probing socialite Sunanda Pushkar’s death, makes me feel that that there was most probably much more to her death than what met the eye. This however is nothing new. The lives and living styles of the so-called VIP’s are complicated web of crisscrossed relationships and the lesser they’re probed, the better.
However, the amount of interest some media houses are taking to rake up the dirt under the carpet appears more in Publicity Interest Investigation than Public Interest Litigation. Is it, I wonder, an indication that, all said, most newspaper readers are interested in Blitz-type sensation-mongering than an unbiased narration of the goings-on of the world?
Hired for Days
In three score and four years during which American presidents have appointed national security advisers, nobody lasted less time in the post than Donald Trump’s very first pick: Michael Flynn. Flynn left after just 24 brutal, scandal–ridden days. During the seven decades since Harry Truman made John Steelman the first White House chief of staff, nobody probably had a shorter stint than Reince Priebus, who resigned after just over six months.
Even by these by-no-means-enviable standards, Anthony Scaramucci’s tenure as White House communications director takes the cake. He was fired on his eleventh day in office.
Will you, dear readers, feel excited if summoned as a candidate for a job in the otherwise enviable White House?
The hamburger is at least a hundred years old, possibly much more depending on who you believe – its addicts or its critics. It’s a simple sandwich, a ground beef – in India, chicken – patty between two pieces of bread, plus a slice of cheese if you’re lucky. It doesn’t seem like a product that has room for much improvement, and yet, year after year, hamburgers keep on getting better. How is this possible? How can something with so little complexity continue to get tastier and tastier, year after year?
Every time we seem to have hit a ceiling on burger quality, someone new comes along to show us what fools we were, how we could possibly have stomached those dry, tasteless burgers of yesterday, leading us to wonder what the future holds in store for America’s favorite sandwich and its improvised versions the world over.
Salami slicing refers to a series of many small actions, often performed by clandestine means, that, as an accumulated whole, produces a much larger action or result that would be difficult or unlawful to perform all at once. The term is typically used pejoratively. Although salami slicing is often used to carry out illegal activities, it is only a strategy for gaining an advantage over time by accumulating it in small increments, so it can be used in perfectly legal ways as well.
An example of salami slicing, also known as penny shaving, is the fraudulent practice of stealing money repeatedly in extremely small quantities, usually by taking advantage of rounding to the nearest cent (or other monetary unit) in financial transactions. It would be done by always rounding down, and putting the fractions of a cent into another account. The idea is to make the change small enough that any single transaction will go undetected.
In the fields of information security, a salami attack is a series of minor attacks that together result in a major attack. Computers are ideally suited to automating this type of attack.
In politics, the term salami tactics has been used since the 1940s to refer to a divide and conquer process of threats and alliances used to overcome opposition. And the best practitioner of the art and craft of salami-slicing, today, is – haven’t you guessed it? – China. The stand-off between the soldiers of India and China on the Dokalam area is in fact a part of China’s “salami-slicing” tactics of making “inch-by-inch” changes to the status quo to slowly gain a strategic mile.
China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Dokalam area of the Sikkim sector near the Bhutan tri–junction for nearly a month after a Chinese Army’s construction party attempted to build a road.
China also claims nearly all of the South China Sea, despite partial counter–claims from Taiwan and several Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam. Nonetheless China continues its ‘salami–slicing’ tactics of smaller changes to the status quo, and that over time add up to something strategically significant,
Speaking in Hindi
One of the hallmarks of our notion of modernity in post-Independence India has been to adopt the English language in preference to our mother tongue as vehicle of communication. It’s fun indeed to watch Delhi’s nouveaux riches to discard Hindi or Punjabi in preference to what’s supposedly Queen’s English.
It goes to the credit of Prime Minister Vajpayee to have the courage to address the United Nations in Hindi and popularize our national language as vehicle of communication. Hindi has got its most eloquent champion in Prime Minister Modi During his long–due visit to Israel his host Benjamin Netanyahu sprang a pleasant surprise on him to address him in Hindi.
“Aapka swagat hai, mere dost,” greeted the Israeli Prime Minister on July 4, at the airport. Not only that. “Namaste”. That’s how Netanyahu greeted Prime Minister Modi on July 5, receiving him at his residence.
Modi very cordially greeted Netanyahu with a ‘Namaste’.
“Mere Dost” was the term used unabashedly at the joint press conference.
“Aapki yatra shubh ho”, Netanyahu said to Modi while seeing him off at the airport. “Israel aane ke liye dhanyavad Pradhanmanti Narendra Modi. Jald fir milenge.”
I firmly believe India can learn a great deal from the Israelis. Ingenious water management is just one thing. Far more importantly, we have to learn from Israelis to be proud of our national language, Israel adopted overnight Hebrew – then deemed dead – as their national language on May 14, 1948, the day the long-promised State of Israel came into being. And there has been no looking back.
India’s Vice-President-elect has a penchant for acronyms. I’m sure he’ll be able to enliven the dull proceedings of the Rajya Sabha with his wisecracks and acronym coinage.
His latest is India stands for ‘Integrated National Development Impacting All Indians’. “This is the mission for India,” he said after being felicitated for winning the vice-presidential poll.
A seasoned observer of contemporary history once said that in his life the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz had encountered every kind of hell the 20th century could devise ranging from the fascist to the communist variety. Nonetheless, he also had at times tasted paradise. And, like Dante, he captured both for us.
Milosz witnessed the World War II and the Holocaust, living through the German occupation of Poland and all conceivable miseries that accompanied it. Among his many famous poems is “Campo dei Fiori,” which movingly commemorates the fate of the Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943.
After the war, he spent several years in the United States as a diplomat representing the new, communist–run Poland. While he enjoyed reading Faulkner and translating Auden and Eliot’s poems, he was unable to come to terms with what to his mind was a consumerist, soul–less society. He frequently felt at odds with communism as well as with capitalism and considered joining a Christian farming community in Paraguay.
It was during this period that Milosz produced, in 1953, one of his most famous widely read works, The Captive Mind. In it, he examined why so many intellectuals and artists of the time succumbed to, or pretended to believe in, communism. A successful ideology, he wrote, is comforting, an all-encompassing tool to salve our deepest fears and orient our lives. The book brought him international fame, although as a poet he felt uneasy about being pigeonholed as an analyst of Soviet politics.
Here are a few samples of his poetry –
I have seen the fall of states and the destruction of peoples,
The flight of kings and emperors, the power of tyrants,
I can say now, in this hour,
That I – am, although everything perishes,
That it is better to be a live dog than a dead lion
As Scripture says.
Some take refuge in despair, which is sweet
Like strong tobacco, like a glass of vodka drunk in the hour of annihilation.
Others have the hope of fools, rosy as erotic dreams.
The Chinese Way
South Korea: Can we divide the Yellow Sea by the coastline?
China: No, by the central line!
Japan: The East China Sea by central line too?
China: No, by continental shelf!
Southeast Asian Countries: South China Sea by continental shelf too?
China: No, God Damn You ! South China Sea has been our territory since the ancient time!