EUROPEAN COUNTRIES NEED TO REMOVE FENCES XENOPHOBIC SENTIMENTS

‘Europe’s Fascination with Fences’ is an interesting title for an article on refugee crisis spilling over in Europe now. The article especially pulled my attention by its title, like of many others, when I saw it in the list of chosen articles on Magzter.

Irrespective of ‘what, why and how’ in the article, the world, yes the world now, is looking at the crisis in a different light after the image of the body of a Syrian toddler washed out on a beach in Turkey went viral. The boy was from a family of four from Syria trying to migrate to Europe through Greece – the second most popular route as the article says.

Barack Obama just declared that the US will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees this year. Germany is leading the access in Europe and the toddler’s image has forced countries so far reluctant like the United Kingdom to come forward. The day the image got out David Cameron said Britain would accept 20,000 more refugees.

Before it, Britain was in a state of ‘xenophobia’ on intensifying refugee crisis.

The image has drawn global attention and outrage over the way European countries have been handling the biggest refugee crisis since the World War II.

Because the world ‘rightly’ doesn’t expect anything of that sort from rich Arab and Middle-East monarchies.

People from the war torn countries of Middle-East and Africa are increasingly joining the way out to save their lives. Somehow escaping the guns in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria and other countries, people are heading to the countries in Europe or other nearby countries in ever increasing numbers as the war in Syria rages and as the Islamic State continues with its barbarity in Iraq and Syria – finding allies in Boko Haram in Nigeria or Al-Shabab in Somalia and so on.

It is true that there would be some economic migrants but the majority is from the lot displaced from their homes, localities, cities and countries and it is the responsibility of the humanity to open its doors for the them. After all, some one million (or even two million) cannot put strain on the wealthiest continent on Earth with around 750 million people.

They, in fact, can prove quite useful for the European countries which are facing crisis of manpower to serve their populace. Migrants (or refugees in this case), by the their ‘disconnectedness from the roots’ have noting more to lose and they, in fact, prove out to be industrious and better managed when given opportunities. Prosperous Jews are its most common example.

Fences may be a practical requirement to check illegal crossings but the European population and countries need to remove the fences that xenophobic sentiments can create/are creating in this humanitarian crisis. And as, the refugees, are responsibility of all of us, we all must reach out to them with helping hands – as the US has decided to do.

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

INDIA SHEDDING ITS ‘PAKISTAN OBSESSION’: PAKISTAN DESPERATELY TRYING TO PROVOKE INDIA

“Narendra Modi contested elections on anti-Pakistan platform and now wants to dictate terms for the dialogue with Pakistan but we will never accept this and we have already conveyed it to New Delhi.” He said Kashmir will be part and parcel of any agenda of talks with India and that the international community has accepted Pakistan’s point of view in this regard. Aziz said that no one could dare to launch any attack inside Pakistan and if anyone did so, he would get a befitting response. He said that Pakistan would not be pressured by Indian threats of an attack at any time, adding that if India even thought of attacking, Pakistan would provide a befitting response.

Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s National Security Advisor, Dawn, September 8, 2014

“If the enemy (read India) ever resorts to any misadventure, regardless of its size and scale – short or long – it will have to pay an unbearable cost.”

“Enduring peace is not possible without a just resolution of Kashmir. The issue can no longer be put on the backburner.”

Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s Army Chief, September 6, 2015

“Undoubtedly Pakistan is a responsible and peaceful nuclear power. Though, we are fully aware of the conspiracies and tactics of the enemies (read India), we desire to have good and peaceful relations with all our neighbours on the basis of sovereign equality. I wish to make it clear that we will protect the sovereignty and security of Pakistan at all cost.”

“Today we are celebrating the golden jubilee of those memorable events, when our brave armed forces not only successfully defended its frontiers but also thwarted the nefarious designs of the enemy (read India).”

Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, while speaking on 50th anniversary of 1965 war between India and Pakistan – September 6, 2015

“September 6 is the day of aggression for India and the Day of Defence for Pakistan and with the Grace of Allah, it became the day of victory for Pakistan and the day of defeat for India.”

Pervaiz Rashid, Pakistan’s Information Minister, September 6

These loud claims cap the prevailing sentiments in Pakistan’s ruling establishment, that is, it’s all powerful military, and a political regime that depends on this military for its survival.

As India is finally shedding its ‘Pakistan obsession’, Pakistan’s ruling elite are getting ever more desperate to look for fodders that words of Indian establishment used to provide to lubricate (incite) the ordinary Pakistani mindsets – an anti-India atmosphere that the Pakistan’s ruling class has exploited since the days of partition.

Irrespective of what Ajit Doval, India’s National Security Advisor meant, India, for decades, practiced the policy of getting engaged in ‘below the belt’ verbal wars with Pakistan. In fact, Pakistan outdid India many times on international platforms while spreading falsities and propaganda about Kashmir – not because Pakistan could do it efficiently – but because India’s sluggishness allowed it do so.

India and Pakistan began their sovereign, independent journeys together. But the similarity ended there. Pakistan is no match for India today. India is a global player while Pakistan is not even a regional power. And it has not happened in a year.

But the realization on Indian part, in the ruling establishment of India, came late.

India should (and should have) dismiss (dismissed) Pakistan as a disturbed nation that is (was) trying to divert attention from its internal problems by targeting India – through words – through wars – and proxy war activities like militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and support to terrorism in other parts of India.

Well, Pakistan has been at it for decades. And has failed to make any significant dent – even after waging many wars – that it all lost – including this one in 1965.

India knows it. The world knows it. Pakistan knows it but doesn’t accept it back home.

India was giving undue attention to Pakistan so far. The time is now to realize and move ahead. The time is now to remain silent and act whenever there is any provocation, as is the policy now – inflicting heavy damage whenever Pakistan violates ceasefire (that it does in routine). Destabilizing India and taking J&K from it are beyond Pakistan’s reach. And a growing global stature of India has made things even more difficult for Pakistan.

As India is shedding its ‘Pakistan obsession’, not rushing to react on war-mongering rhetoric by Pakistan’s leaders while replying Pakistan’s armed provocations with twice the force, Pakistan is finding hard to explain back home the failures that are piling up by the day.

Everyone in Pakistan’s ruling establishment is trying hard to provoke India – but India, it seems, is not going to buy the verbal bravado now – or is not going to be trapped there – in a ‘below the belt’ war of words. For Pakistan’s support to armed militancy in J&K and other parts of India – our internal apparatus is strong enough to mitigate hostile developments.

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

LESS THAN AN HOUR TO GO – HOW THE APPLE EVENT IS TRENDING..

I am not an iPhone fan or an Apple follower. But no communication professional can ignore the massive global appeal that each iPhone launch generates. The extent of coverage that it gets is beyond the organizing capacity of any public relations agency or groups of marketing communication professionals.

What Steve Jobs gave to the world is a must case study for every communication expert to deliberate on ‘how iPhone became a global brand with revenue surpassing overall turnovers of tech companies like Microsoft or IBM’.

Globally or nationally (here in India), the Apple event to launch the next iPhone is going to be trending event of the day. It is already in the top run on many social media sites and a rage on different traditional and online media platforms.

In less than an hour from now, Apple will launch, as the reports say, and as has been the trend preceding this launch, iPhone 6S, new Apple TV and a ‘big’ iPad – probably.

There may be something else in the store as analysts are expecting some surprise given the scale of the event this year – in an auditorium that can accommodate 7000 people. As expected, the online Apple store is down before the start of the launch event with its ‘comeback’ message.

Let’s see how the launch event is trending on Twitter, the global storehouse of #hashtags (and news and opinion) on any ongoing breaking development.

Globally, in worldwide trends, the event with hashtag #AppleEvent is trending at the top. Then there are two other ‘iPhone tags’ are in top 10 – iOS 9 No. 5 and iPhone 6S at No. 6. #AppleEvent is also on top on Twitter’s US page. In United Kingdom trends, it is at No. 3. In Dubai, it is at No. 2 – going by the trends written in English. In Japan, I could not understand as all the trending topics were written in Japanese. In Germany, it is at No. 2 but it is yet to come in top trends on Twitter’s France page.

In Canada and Mexico, #AppleEvent is on top while in Brazil, iPhone 6S is on top and iOS 9 is at No.3. Singapore has #AppleEvent at the top while Malaysia has iPhone 6S which is No. 2 in Philippines.

In India too, the event is on top of the minds now – if we go by Twitter. #AppleEvent was trending in top 10 but now, few minutes before the launch event, it is trending at the top.

Almost similar trends are visible on Twitter pages for trending events in different countries.

The fever has built up the aura, like it always happens. And the wait for the millions of iPhone fans are just about to get over with the San Francisco launch event going live in few minutes.

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

Apple-1

Featured Image Courtesy: Screenshot from Apple’s Website on September 9 Event

JANATA DAL: 1988 TO 2015 – THE STORY REMAINS THE SAME

After much downs and few ups, six factions of the erstwhile ‘Janata Dal’ or evergreen ‘Janata Parivar’ came together to save India’s secular fabric – at least that is what they had claim.

And in process, they thought, they could make a front to revive their dwindling political futures.

But they could not or did not deliberate on ‘state Vs national’ aspect of their ‘coming together’.

Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and Janata Dal (United) in Bihar are fighting to win the upcoming elections in their respective states.

An assembly election loss, after a humiliating show in the Lok Sabha polls last year, would be a heavy burden for Samajwadi Party to bear. The party may not recover from it. Losing assembly polls in Bihar, after complete decimation in the Lok Sabha polls, will make Nitish Kumar and Janata Dal (United), irrelevant in national and state politics.

Rashtriya Janata Dal, after Lalu Yadav’s conviction in fodder scam, is fighting a battle that he has already lost. An association with his corruption taint may be detrimental electorally. Samajwadi Janata Party exists only in three words, literally. Janata Dal (Secular) is losing its appeal in Karnataka.

The family head of the family show, Indian National Lok Dal, has been jailed for 10 years in a corruption case and his party failed to make any mark in the Lok Sabha as well as in the assembly polls.

And these six parties came together to form a combined entity together.

But it was an alliance of political opportunism with no political pragmatism.

Primary issues, potent enough to derail the process, like name, symbol and main party office of the new political entity were not worked out. And they remain elusive.

On ground, four of these parties have no or very less political currency left. RJD may work some political miracle given the prominence of ‘caste factor’ in the Bihar polls, but even that is not possible for others of the lot.

SP and JD(U) are restricted to UP and Bihar only – in their respective states. And they are fighting battles of political survival in retaining these states.

So, there is no conflict of interest – at least politically. SP can help JD(U) and RJD in Bihar and these two parties can do the same for SP in UP. But that needs prior understanding, that wasn’t tried to work out before the ‘grand Janata Parivar merger’ was announced.

After he left Congress, Vishwanath Pratap Singh had formed Janata Dal in 1988 to extend his political interests and as there was no ideology behind the move but a political purpose to somehow form the government, the party started witnessing splits fuelled by political ambitions.

It was Chandra Shekhar’s prime-ministerial ambition behind emergence of Samajwadi Janata Party or Mulayam Singh Yadav’s regional ambitions behind SP. Then Nitish Kumar and George Fernandes walked out with Samta Party. Lalu Yadav did his part by forming RJD in 1997. Om Prakash Chautala started his political family with Indian National Lok Dal. Nitish Kumar had one more split when he split Samta Party and formed Janata Dal (United) in 2003. Then there are more.

Since its formation, if Janata Dal has anything constant to talk about, it is its split after split at regular intervals – over a dozen and counting – splits fuelled by political ambitions.

Though Mulayam Singh Yadav has not walked out of the ‘reunited but still unnamed Janata Parivar’, he has clearly left the two parties of the new entity in Bihar. As told, he is feeling insulted and humiliated over the treatment meted out to his party in Bihar – by the political brethren of his ‘reunited Janata Parivar’.

But the real reason lies in securing the regional power centers first. The leverage that the combined entity can give in national politics comes later. If there is no regional political currency left, thinking of being a force at the national level will be nothing more than daydreaming.

UP being SP’s only power corridor, it needs to save it first, pooling and exhausting all resources to fight the wave of huge anti-incumbency to win the 2017 assembly polls. And it would avoid embarrassing and electorally sensitive elements like aligning with Lalu Yadav and Congress, the party that is its opponent in the state.

So, it was a ‘decision as per the political norms’ when he decided to walk out of the alliance in Bihar. In fact, by doing so, he can reap the benefit in a better way. SP has always been non-existent in Bihar. So, it doesn’t take the state seriously. Now, if the election returns, somehow, with better results this time, with the party again fighting on all seats, it would be a talking point for the UP assembly polls. After all, Mulayam can think of cornering some of Yadav and Muslim votes there – with increasing political isolation of Lalu Yadav (and Nitish would not like to see a politically stronger Mulayam Singh Yadav in Bihar).

Now, it is to be seen whether Sharad Yadav and Lalu Yadav become successful in brining Mulayam back into the alliance – as they are claiming.

But the development has clearly indicated one thing – and again – that Janata Dal was a loose amalgamation of different political groups which had come together to get into the power corridors and it had no ideology of its own – and every ‘satrap’ kept his political interests before the interest of combined entity. That led to its premature or early death.

In 1988, it was in the name of opposing Congress. In 2015, it is in the name of stopping BJP. In 1988, it had a combined identity, a name and symbol. In 2015, the ‘merged’ parties are still fighting elections as separate parties. In 1988, there was no political ideology to back the formation of Janata Dal. In 2015, the story remains the same.

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

WHY MULAYAM SINGH YADAV WALKED OUT OF ALLIANCE IN BIHAR?

Samajwadi Party has no stake in the upcoming Bihar assembly polls. It is politically non-existent in the state.

Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal have no grounds in Uttar Pradesh where assembly elections are due in April-May 2017.

Samajwadi Party is in government in Uttar Pradesh where the party won complete majority in 2012 assembly polls and Akhilesh Yadav became state’s chief minister. But the party had humiliating loss in the last year Lok Sabha elections where it failed to win any seats outside the ruling Yadav family and had to restrict to just five seats – all won in SP’s strongholds.

Bihar has Nitish Kumar from JD (U) as its chief minister. When he had fought the last assembly elections in 2010, he was in alliance with BJP. The ruling coalition had got a thumping majority. But due to some reason (read Nitish Kumar’s ego clash with Narendra Modi, the prime-ministerial candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)), he broke the alliance and fought the Lok Sabha polls alone. His party met with a big loss and was decimated to only two seats. Nitish Kumar took its moral responsibility and resigned, installing Jitan Ram Manji, a Mahadalit, as the CM. But Manjhi didn’t turn out to be the sort of puppet he was thought to be. He soon started speaking a language of his own political ambitions – giving indications of even aligning with BJP. That made Nitish uncomfortable. And finally, when Manjhi openly rebelled and declined to toe the line, the party sacked him and Nitish became the CM again – in a scramble to gain victory in the upcoming assembly polls.

In UP, it’s SP Vs them (including Congress).

In Bihar, it’s JD(U) + RJD + Congress Vs them.

And in both states, BJP is the principal opposition. It won 73 seats in UP (with allies, 2 seats) out of 80 and 31 in Bihar (with allies, 9 seats) out of 40 in the last parliamentary elections. And the party is putting its all efforts to replicate the show in the upcoming assembly polls in both states – next month in Bihar and in 20 months in UP.

These two states together share 120 of 543 parliamentary seats in India and are the heartland of Indian politics.

For BJP, winning these states would further strengthen its pan-India appeal and would provide legitimacy to its claims of being the largest political party with a nationwide acceptance. Without having strong political grounds in UP and Bihar, BJP cannot claim so – given the fact that is has been in government in both these states.

SP, JD(U) or RJD are regional parties. In spite of best of their efforts, they have failed to go out of the state they belong to. And their political sanctity and existence lie in securing that home citadel first. Yes, if the citadels are like UP and Bihar, the political nerve centres in India, its gives a big leverage in the national politics.

After parting ways with BJP, Nitish is trying hard to find the way that could win the electoral game for him. Likewise, Lalu Yadav’s compulsion to survive politically saw an ally in Nitish and they both came together. Though Congress has become politically irrelevant in Bihar, to manage caste equations, it was also taken in the alliance. And in the name of reuniting the factions of the ‘Janata Parivar’, SP also joined the bandwagon.

Even if the political realties had the potential to go the other way.

And it seems they are going the other way.

And that has made for another flip-flop by Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Nitish Kumar may win the Bihar polls but his alliance with Lalu Yadav’s party may derail the show. Lalu’s corruption taint has the potential to sully his chances. And it may threaten SP’s chances in UP as well, where there is already a huge anti-incumbency wave against Akhilesh Yadav’s government.

Also, Congress may be politically irrelevant in Bihar, but in UP, it still matters, where it won 28 seats with around 12% vote share in 2012 assembly polls. If Congress and the SP fight together in Bihar but as political rivals in UP, it would create an embarrassing situation that the party would try to avoid – because there would be no answers.

The priority (political) for SP should be saving UP first in 2017 – and focusing on Bihar, with many contradicting factors, would jeopardize efforts – because, going by UP’s electoral history and the anti-incumbency against the SP government, there are real chances that the party is going to lose the 2017 polls.

We need to see the decision of Mulayam Singh Yadav to walk out of the ‘grand alliance’ in Bihar in this context, irrespective of the reason he is speaking about.

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

JANMASHTAMI IS STILL A COMMUNITY CELEBRATION BUT..

Today, as we know, and as we all must know, is Teachers’ Day – that is on birth anniversary of former President Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan (and former Vice-chancellor of Banaras Hindu University, my alma mater), and is also the death anniversary of great human-saint Mother Teresa.

Therefore, September 5 is always a special day.

But this year, the day has become even more special because the country is celebrating Janmashtami 2015 on this Saturday.

Time changes things and the way we carry out many activities – even if the perspectives and the concepts behind those perspectives remain the same.

The same holds true about how we celebrate our festivals.

In our childhood, and even in teens, Janmashtami happened to be a community celebration where almost each household participated. Jhankis (tableaus) were created in almost every house in our locality. We would start preparing the day well in advance. Everyone in the family would be given or would take some responsibility.

Krishna is a mystical God but then it takes precedence of spiritual elements over ritual practices of religion to feel so, which the ordinary, worldly people seldom realize. Anyway, Krishna Janmashtami, that is celebrated as Krishna’s birthday is never heavy on ritual and is quite flexible.

Krishna is born in every household at midnight – as our scriptures say. And the rituals that we perform during birth of a child in our house are performed then. This part was for family’s elders, especially my mother and father.

But every step leading to celebration of the day was my favourite, topped by creation of different jhankis – depicting Krishna’s birth, Vasudev taking him to Yashoda’s house, various stages in life of Krishna with Kansa and his demons and various other tableaus to depict what my childhood would think about then.

I loved making mountain from black stones that I collected from factories in Varanasi’s industrial area. Krishna’s idol is placed inside a large-sized cucumber and after his birth at midnight and the ritual bath; he is placed in a cradle, adorned with new jewellery and clothes. Then, when we used to spend at least a week preparing to celebrate the birth, we would place branches of Carissa (Karonda), with plenty of leaves and fruits all around then mountain (created from stones) and around the cradle.

We would also run from this saw mill to that saw mill to collect sawdust and wood filings. We would then colour the same in different shades and use them in different tableaus – as the base (or the ground). Normally, one tableau would be separated from the next with small wooden blocks and colour of the sawdust. Sometimes, in some homes, coloured sand was also used, though I never used it.

Many small tableaus of different colours and with different themes together formed the grand ‘jhanki’ of every family. Sometimes, it took two days to start and complete the final decoration with all tableaus conceived and created.

On the day of Janmashtami, in the evening, we would go to every house to see how the other fellow has done – that how his jhanki was better or dull than ours – that what he had done that we also could have done – that what was his scale relative to ours – a childhood mind primarily thinks in these terms after all.

But we would always come back in time for Krishna’s birth – that was the main attraction – with all the rituals in place and with all the ‘prasads’ that would follow. Krishna’s birth, like any child’s birth, has celebrations with lavish food preparations.

The ‘ritual part’ and ‘prasads’ that follow are still there but the part (or the parts) and took many days of preparation, in creating many tableaus for a grand ‘jhanki’, slowly and gradually went out of individual families. I don’t remember when we stopped doing it, but I know that probably no house in my locality does it so. I have heard similar echoes while conversing with people on similar lines.

Janmashtami is still a community celebration and is still worshipped individually in almost every Hindu house, but the community nature of its celebration through individual houses, through jhankis, slowly and gradually, stopped being there.

Janmashtami 2015-6

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

#KIYIYAVURANINSANLIK: I DID NOT WANT TO SHARE THIS BUT..

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Image Courtesy: Reuters

Yes, this one is a photograph that ‘humanity’ or the human-beings left with the conscience of ‘being human’ would desperately wish would not be there – with the reason behind it.

Yes, this one is a photograph that left me in great dilemma before I decided to share it on my website – trying to find the one with a frame composition that would look less offensive to our identities but I can say I failed in doing so.

Photographs like this deafen our souls, incinerate our whole existences and devastate the whole civilizational journey of humanity – just with a mere look at them.

We live in a world that has always been plagued with ‘humanity killing developments’ like wars, crusades, religious wars, ethnic cleansings and the Holocaust, yet this image, once again, has left us thoughtless, speechless, soulless and lifeless.

The photograph says all. Its backdrop becomes hauntingly clear just by a look at it. The photograph makes our lives beyond redemption. It puts us all, the combined human masses of the world, in the dock over a crime, once again, that humanity can never get rid of.

It rightly negates our claims of being the citizens of a civilized world.

I faced extremely troubled moments while looking at this photograph. I had to make serious efforts with my soul to draw some courage to look at it. But I knew I had to look at it. In fact, all of us need to look at it, and other images that remind us of human depravity – that how debased we have become.

European leaders say the ongoing refugee crisis is threatening the ‘idea of Europe’ but can they deflect the questions that this photograph raises?

The photograph, or the different frames of it or the video of it, is so shocking and depressing that it takes the courage of a lifetime to compose yourself to look at it – and compose yourself again after you have looked at it.

I am sharing it here because it would remind me – again and again – that it spite of all our civilized claims, multitudes of us still reek of raw animal instincts – when it comes to treating people who are not from our family – from our locality – from our community – from our region – or from our country.

I am crying and I want to cry. It is not that humanity died its first death today – but the horror that this image forces us to face cannot be explained in words.

Yes, the world, unfortunately, has layers of refugee crisis problems – in North Korea, in Syria, in Iraq, in Libya, in Myanmar – in many other countries scattered across the different continents. People from these crisis hotbeds are forced to risk their lives to buy a safe life for their families.

The image sums up the horrifying situation tens of thousands of human-beings are forced to be in, seeking the shore to fix their lives, a shore that is increasingly becoming elusive.

Reports say ‘Turkish coastguards have rescued some 50000 people in Aegean Sea’, the asylum seekers in Europe, this year alone. Reports say ‘Europe is facing the biggest migrant crisis since the World War II’.

Here is an image of the three year old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi with his elder brother Ghalip shared by their aunt, Tima Kurdi, on her Facebook page. Tima is settled in Canada for long and Aylan’s family, too, was trying to move there. Aylan, Ghalip and their mother, a family from the strife-torn town Kobane in Syria, were among the 12 people who lost their lives while trying to migrate to Greece through sea-route. Later, Aylan Kurdi’s was found lifeless, lying face down, on a Turkish beach. Migrants arriving in Turkey from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria and many others try to cross the Mediterranean to reach Greece that serves as the gateway for them to the European Union countries.

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Image Courtesy: Tima Kurdi’s Facebook Page

©SantoshChaubey