WILL HEADLEY’S TESTIMONY MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE?

David Coleman Headley, aka Dawood Gilani, deposing in a Mumbai court via video link from an undisclosed location in the United States – is indeed a big news no doubt – but will it make any qualitative difference to the ongoing probe into the 26/11 Mumbai attacks?

I don’t think so.

Seven years ago, in 2008, on November 26, ten Pakistani terrorists had carried out armed strikes at multiple locations in Mumbai killing 166 people of different nationalities (including the US).

It had been established from the day-1 that the terrorists had come from Pakistan via sea route. It had been established that they were being given orders and information from their handlers sitting in Pakistan. Nationalities of those killed mounted an international pressure on Pakistan to act and within months some arrests, including Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, were made. Later on, Hafiz Saeed, the main mastermind, as every Indian believes, was also taken in.

But that was it only. The things ended here. Nothing moved after that. We all now know what Pakistan did, in the name of 26/11 probe, in response to the mounting international pressure, was an eyewash only.

As the international pressure subsided, and as things became routine, in spite of repeated Indian dossiers, in spite of trial and execution of the lone captured terrorist Ajmal Kasab, Pakistan started turning deaf ears to India’s concerns.

Well, Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi and all others were always free in Pakistan – like Masood Azhar is – founder of the terror group Jaish-e-Muhammad, a convicted terrorist in India – who was swapped in the Kandahar hijacking incident in 1999 involving an Indian Airlines flight – the mastermind of the terror attack on Pathankot airbase in Punjab last month – and a respected figure in Pakistan.

Yes, India and Pakistan are trying seriously to mend ties – at least at the political leadership level. But while India’s political leadership represents India, Pakistan’s political leadership is considered secondary to the primacy enjoyed by the Pakistani Army – an institution that feeds on anti-India sentiment in Pakistan and draw validity and sanctity from it.

And it is the Pakistani Army that takes decisions and makes calls whenever anything related to India is to happen including supporting terror groups operating in India.

And that is the reason, David Coleman Headley’s testimony is not going to make any difference – like the Indian dossiers about the perpetrators of the 26/11 attacks failed to make Pakistan move – like the recent set of evidences about Masood Azhar and JeM role in the Pathankot airbase elicited a similar, familiar response from Pakistan.

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE LIGHT AT THAT END

The light at that end
Was so enchanting
That the ride got lyrical
In a vein so existential
I was there, reaching out
Along with me
Feeding on
An aura surreal
Responding to a call
That sounded so mutual
Life is long
And life is short
To ask questions
To ignore propositions
You do what you do
Maybe impulsive
Or reflecting on
Or contemplating
Or even absent-minded
But that is you, isn’t it?
And you are not a question
But an answer to your ifs
A call to your isms
Painting your own canvas
Finding your meanings
As you move along life
And its stopovers
Like the light there
On an evening
When life speaks
And you join the call
Life is too short
To ignore such calls
And life is too long
To be there for long
Feel, live and paint it
Bathe in its illumination
Add to your panorama
Create your sub-stories
And get enamoured
To create your next song
To see the light
At your next stopover
To pick up the threads
Of the journey again
Feel it, live it
And paint your canvas

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AAMIR KHAN, BRAND APPEAL AND RULES OF THE GAME

First November, then January and now February – and in between a demanding, damning December – life has been difficult for Aamir Khan – since he decided to speak his mind about the ongoing ‘tolerance Vs intolerance’ row/debate.

While we can count valid reasons on why the government should have retained Aamir Khan as the brand ambassador for the ‘Incredible India’ campaign, the Snapdeal decision that was reported today sounds a regular fallout of the controversy.

That is simple, straight formula for celebrity brand endorsements. If some company pays a hefty amount for an Amitabh Bachchan or an Aamir Khan, it has every right to ensure everything goes right with its brand – with no probability of that ‘write-off’ scenario when the brand ambassador would start hurting the brand.

Yes, like the ‘Incredible India’ campaign, here, too, nothing is in absolute ‘black and white’ and there is much – like the rough financials of Snapdeal, an e-commerce retailer, and Aamir Khan’s high annual endorsement fee (reportedly Rs. 15 crore) – to read for (in between the lines).

It would have made sense for the government to retain Aamir Khan as the ‘Incredible India’ ambassador because it would have sent a positive message that we, as a nation, were resilient enough to decipher and discern about a viewpoint about something that was threatening to rupture the social weaving of the society.

Yes, we as a nation are resiliently tolerant – and that is why we all are stakeholders into any such development – and that is why we need to speak our minds – and Aamir Khan’s views on ‘rising intolerance’ should be seen in that context.

Yes, being a sensible celebrity with a mass appeal, Aamir Khan did cross the limits here – but given the nature of the ‘Incredible India’ campaign, promoting and selling India as a wholesome package – continuing with Aamir Khan could have proved, in fact, a boon. People would love the concept that India (and its government) was transparent enough to differing views – and was a tolerant society.

But that appeal is limited to campaigns like the ‘Incredible India’ series.

The same cannot be expected from profit driven corporate entities – like Snapdeal – or any other company.

Snapdeal, though illogical, was forced to distance from Aamir Khan’s intolerance remark in November and had to discontinue its advertising campaign. Aamir’s observation that his wife had discussed the possibility of leaving India after a raging debate on the growing incidents of intolerance made her concerned for their child’s security infuriated many and Snapdeal faced the brunt in the social media space with many uninstalling the Snapdeal app.

Though some reports say Snapdeal registered a surge in its app rankings in the period, still, any for-profit entity cannot afford a controversy-hit brand ambassador. The business of ‘corporate brand management’ that believes in ‘playing it safe’ doesn’t believe in that.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY DID WE FAIL TO TRAVEL FROM HYDERABAD TO VILLUPURAM? (II)

This time it was another research scholar and another central university. And he was not Dalit.

A research scholar from the Central University of Rajasthan committed suicide because, allegedly, he was under depression by pressure and harassment from his research advisor.

These are allegations – allegations that forced the nation to take note when Rohith Vemula committed suicide – because there were inbuilt elements of Dalit politics – and because, rightly there were elements of caste discrimination.

We have discussed why the Rohith’s case took the nation by storm and why the Villupuram case failed to do so.

Politics dear folks! Politics!

Stay assure that nothing is going to happen in this Central University of Rajasthan case – as nothing concrete in fact happened in Rohith Vemula’s case – in spite of media outrage and the subsequent national grief. No one, including anyone from the University of Hyderabad, has been held responsible in the case.

Suicide by three students of the SVS College of Naturopathy and Yoga in Tamil Nadu’s Villupuam (or spate of student suicides that were reported after Rohith Vemula incident or even this one from the Central University of Rajasthan) is sans scopes of political mileage and so we are not going to hear much about them.

Yes, it was about three girl students, who were Dalit, and they allegedly committed suicide because they were left in a hopeless state – and it happened within a week of Rohith Vemula incident (January 17 to January 23) – so it did get due media exposure. But politicians were not there. Likewise, there will be no outrage or scrutiny of this incident at the Central University of Rajasthan. If it has to get, it will get just routine coverage.

Because these incidents happen in one of those educational institution which are established to dupe and loot incidents. The quality of students (or professionals) who pass out from these outfits is poor. And most of the time, some politicians are found behind the projects – either directly or in patronizing positions.

These institutions are either in small towns or in peripheries of bigger, metro cities (in a clutter of clusters – with no differentiation) – busy in deceiving dreams.

So no one likes to talk about them, including media and society, even if it directly affects many families, sucking up their earnings of whole life – circumstances that force sincere students to the extremes of hopelessness.

Educational institutions in India are run with dictatorial mindset. Government run institutions including central and state universities and most professional colleges are fiefdoms of their administrative heads, teachers and officers. And almost private academic institution are like mercenary banks who operate on ‘no return’ policy.

The first that they do is – they kill the culture of healthy dissent – and in the process sacrifice universal values of humanity.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIAN NAVY: WELL, NO BALANCE HERE..(II)

Continuing from where I left in my last write-up on digital footprints of the Indian Navy (its website and social media extensions), let’s see how the social media extensions of the Indian Navy fare.

And we can say they continue, even extend the poor show by the Indian Navy on this front.

While two of the claimed official websites (www.joinindiannavy.gov.in and http://www.nausena-bharti.nic.in) are silent on the social media extensions of the Indian Navy, the other one, that looks in a sort of ‘abandoned state’, does give away three buttons – tucked on the extreme right of the webpage – for Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.

Let’s first go for the Twitter page:

Indian Navy-2

The Twitter handle of the Indian Navy is @INDIANNAVY1 that is not verified. The page says it has 4638 followers while it is following 55 Twitter accounts. That is simply not done for an organization of the scale of the Indian Navy.

But what leaves us squirming is the content on the page – just one tweet dating back to August 3, 2012 the month the account was created. It seems after creating the account, the Indian Navy thought to dump it – but in that case they, ideally, should have removed it from their website. Okay, it is not on some of their ‘official websites’ but then it is also on their ‘official website’.

Now about its Facebook page. Here is the screenshot of http://www.facebook.com/IndianNavy.

Indian Navy-4

As far as I could go, I saw the first post done on March 8, 2009, so it has some history – before this page, too, was dumped in July 2012 – a month before the Indian Navy’s Twitter handle was created and dumped. Its most recent post goes back to July 16, 2012.

A cursory look at the page’s timeline tells it indeed served as the official Facebook page though the page now says that it is a ‘community page about Indian Navy’. Interestingly, on its ‘about page’, it still says that it is the ‘official Facebook page of the Indian Navy’. And likewise, it has many entries that kill its aesthetics – like it redirects us to the Indian Navy’s website through a wrong link (www.nausenabharti.nic.in) – that never opens.

Find here the screenshot.

Indian Navy-5

And about the Google Plus extension – well, there isn’t any official Google Plus page of the Indian Navy. Instead, the link redirects us a Google Plus news feed about content related to the Indian Navy.

Indian Navy-12

True, the organization that cannot maintain a Twitter handle or a Facebook page cannot be expected to create a Google Plus page – even if ‘Digital India’ is expects them all to do so.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIAN NAVY: WELL, NO BALANCE HERE..(I)

It was a random pick during a search online for something else when I came across this – different websites of the Indian Navy – and its social media extensions – most notably the Twitter handle and the Facebook page – the presence of which looks totally absent-minded – if I have the liberty to use the term.

Now, when you key in ‘Indian Navy’ on Google search page – the first link that the page returns is with – http://www.joinindiannavy.gov.in. Since it is a ‘gov.in’ domain name, we should have no doubt that it is an official page.

Screenshot of the webpage is:

Indian Navy-7

The website here doesn’t show any link to the social media extensions of the Indian Navy.

The second link is about its Twitter handle but clicking on it redirects to a Twitter search page is. Its screen grab is here:

Indian Navy-8

The third link redirects us to an NIC site – http://www.indiannavy.nic.in. Since it is again a government of India owned domain name (nic.in – National Informatics Centre), we have no reasons to doubt even here. Here is its screenshot:

Indian Navy-3

Here, in the screenshot of this website, on this link (www.indiannavy.nic.in), we can see links to social media extensions (Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus). But clicking on them takes us to another sorry story that will come next.

Here it is about the ‘official websites of the Indian Navy’.

The fourth link is about the Wikipedia page on the Indian Navy. Then there are some links on news stories on the Indian Navy.

The fifth, sixth, seventh and eight links are again ‘nic.in’ links – so the officials ones only. The fifth link – http://www.nausena-bharti.nic.in/forthcomingOfficer.php – says it is the official website on career and opportunities in the Indian Navy (but poorly written here – Official Website Indian Navy Career and Opportunity). The other links follow the suit. So, you can say it is the ‘career and opportunity’ extension of the website of the Indian Navy.

Its screenshot is:

Indian Navy-9

Now here is the first catch.

When you simply try to open – http://www.nausena-bharti.nic.in – you are redirected to the webpage on http://www.joinindiannavy.gov.in. Here is the screen grab.

Indian Navy-6

And the absurdities don’t end here. In fact, they aggravate on digging further.

Postscript:

The screenshots of the Google Search page with search phase – Indian Navy.

Indian Navy-10 Indian Navy-11

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

CORRUPTION TAX

Now, that is the news of the day – in fact a human-connect story deserving special mention.

Justice Arun Chaudhari of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court today observed that ‘corruption is a hydra-headed monster’ while hearing a fund embezzlement case. He said that time had arrived that we stop paying taxes if the government failed to curb corruption.

This observation is important – even if it is not going to be far reaching – because on the ground nothing is going to change.

Corruption is a malaise that has become chronic in our society – has become a way of life – so much so that we keep on hearing occasional debates on ‘legalizing convenience fee of bets’.

Yes, one way or the other, we all are corrupt, and we all are victims of corruption – but what is basic difference here – between a person who is habitually/chronically corrupt and someone who is forced to be corrupt/who is occasionally corrupt.

Well, most of us are occasional corrupts. We are forced to be part of the wheel based on circumstances and even then most of us don’t go beyond petty, harmless corrupt practices.

But those all of us do something serious that we don’t realize by doing so.

By doing so, we harden even more the souls of those who are chronic corrupts, those for whom corruption has become a way of life, a habitual necessity, a compulsive draw in.

Those some millions, who feed of hundreds of millions of us.

That is the basic difference – of conscience.

While we feel bad in doing something corrupt or unethical, those are hardened souls, enjoy indulging in all, butchery, all savagery, all trickery.

Observation by the High Court judge is important in that context that for the first time a high level member of a constitutional pillar of India has remarked so.

That, in a way, reflect the way our thinking is going – something that was reflected in the unprecedented support to the civil society movement of 2011 that was launched to force the government to take some concrete action on corruption – starting from the Jan Lokpal Bill – to establish an anti-corruption ombudsman.

That shows, hundreds of millions of us, who are forced/occasional corrupts, can take the corrective path based on our conscience – based on flow the society takes. The judge said according to a media report, “The miasma (unholy atmosphere) of corruption can be beaten if all work together. If it continues, taxpayers’ should refuse to pay taxes through a non-cooperation movement.”

Yes, it may seem farfetched but this ‘not paying taxes if the government fails to curb corruption’ is a good thought this sort of ‘corruption tax’ should be taken further.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

377: WE CAN EXPECT SOMETHING POSITIVE THIS TIME.

I don’t how true it is but it is great – that today was only the fourth time when the Supreme Court reopened a curative petition – against its own order.

Gay rights activists say so claiming that they are now quite hopeful with the development that saw the Supreme Court forming a five-member constitutional bench to look into legality/criminality of the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (377 of IPC) – that there would now be a positive outcome – based on their demand of decriminalizing 377 again – based on related developments the world over including in the conservative Catholic Ireland that legalized gay marriages last year – based on their just demand to finally give expression to gay rights in India.

If homosexuality has been a taboo – it is basically for political reasons that have decided how societies orient and reorient their structures – that how societies have been orienting and reorienting their layers in every stage of civilizational graduation – and homosexuality has always been there – discriminated and persecuted – for something that is so personal, so intimate that should have no concern about it.

The Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code – that criminalizes gay sex says – “Unnatural offences.—Whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with 1 [imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation.—Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.”

Well, that is a lot – in fact a loadfull of stuff for complete harassment.

Who am to decided what is natural or unnatural for someone else’s sexual preference – an activity so intimate – so if anything is unnatural in all this – it is banning gay sex or homosexuality.

Hope, with today’s development in the Supreme Court and with yesterday’s development in the Madras High Court where a judge observed that it is the high time that we legalize homosexuality in India, the road ahead will see going back to the days which began after the Delhi High Court decision in July 2009 that decriminalized 377.

The four years, between the 2009 decision by the Delhi High Court and the 2013 decision by the Supreme Court, did much positives for the gay people with the LGBT community coming out in the open to open assert their sexual preference. Yes for the whole LGBT community – we, as a society, need to accept the fact that alternative sexual preferences have always been there in our society, and that that is also a way of life.

The two years since the SC decision in December 2013 have been a downhill journey, especially persecuting for those who had started breathing free in that four-year period with arrests and humiliations.

Scrapping 377 could be an opportunity for politicians after the apex court put the ball in politicians’ court observing ‘Parliament was the appropriate place to repeal the IPC section’. But as expected, our conservative politicians didn’t make any move in the last two years.

Today, the Supreme Court could have taken the route the Delhi High Court had taken, decriminalizing 377 and issuing directives to the government in this regard. But even this one, constituting a constitutional bench shows there has been a serious mindset change since December 2013 and we can expect something positive this time.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

377: WOULD TOMORROW BE THE DAY WHEN WE WILL BE ABLE TO UNDO A SOCIAL WRONG?

It is going to be an important day tomorrow and could well be a landmark one if the Supreme Court (of India) accepts the demand by activists (and by the ‘logically thinking’ people) and delivers a verdict overturning its December 2013 verdict recriminalizing Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), that, in turn, overturned a Delhi High Court order of July 2009 decriminalizing 377.

Section 377 dates back to our colonial times, to 1860, and legally bars ‘sexual activities between persons of same sex’.

It is simply draconian. Criminalizing such activities through 377 was wrong even then – back in 1860 – because it was simply against the nature of ‘nature’ – was against the natural flow of the right to privacy in each individual’s life.

Like in matters of worship and religion (or even food habits), sexual preferences of an individual is a private, intimate matter and others should not poke in their nose there. Okay, it was a different society and social values back then in 1860 – in India and across the world. But that is now some 160 years back.

Much has changed in these days. The world has seen a sea change in its appearance. The worlds of 1860 and 2016 are entirely different.

So why not upheld that ‘fundamental law of nature of not interfering in private lives of others’ now?

Is enough still not enough for terms like LGBT discrimination and 377 misuse?

And even the Supreme Court, while recriminalizing the Section 377 again, observed that the ‘Parliament was the appropriate place to repeal the IPC section’. So, in a way, it was not a direct denial. But then, decriminalizing 377 was always a sensitive political issue in our country and therefore was never a guarantee. So it was better if the court did it.

Then, now could be the time – that tomorrow could be the day when we will be able to undo a social wrong that is centuries old – and has been used and misused consistently?

Can we sense what can be in store tomorrow with an important observation by the Madras High Court today on homosexuality? According to a report, a judge of the Madras High Court observed, “Why not the central government amend marriage laws to include the homosexuality as valid ground for divorce, as gays and lesbians cannot exhibit interest on the opposite sex which is required for consummation of marriage?”

The judge further said, “More than 30 countries, including a conservative nation like Ireland, have decriminalised homosexuality and legalised gay marriage by way of referendum.

And then he questioned, “Could LGBT be considered as offenders merely for having exhibited their natural sexual orientation and their sexual acts, which are different?”

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/