Random Bytes - Just some random thoughts

Monday, December 26, 2005

Indo-Bengla Ties

Denial - That seems to be the biggest roadblock facing India-Bangladesh ties today.

"We both have issues with each other, as all neighbours must," says a senior Indian diplomat who has dealt with Bangladesh closely. "But instead of addressing those issues like civilised nations, Dhaka insists on denying all Indian concerns, even when it is backed by irrefutable and solid evidence."

"This," says the diplomat, "makes it almost impossible to engage in normal, civil diplomatic relations with our eastern neighbour."

Apart from the longstanding worry of over massive illegal migration from Bangladesh, the main Indian concerns include:

  • Rebels from northeast Indian states who operate with impunity from Bangladeshi territory

  • The growing influence and activities of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and Al Qaeda in Dhaka.

  • Rapidly rising fundamentalism and anti-India sentiment in Bangladesh

  • Increasing cross-border traffic in drugs, arms, women, children, and cattle

  • The mushrooming madrassas springing up along the border, many funded by Pakistani and Saudi Arabian 'charities'

  • Repeated skirmishes between India's Border Security Force and the Bangladesh Rifles over disputed territory and the latter's attempts to stop the fencing work being undertaken by India

  • Dhaka's perpetual refusal to grant transit rights and permission to Indian companies like Tata to set up shop there.

  • Dhaka meets all these charges with staunch denial. In turn, it accuses India of bullying its smaller neighbour, interfering in its internal affairs, starving it of water and sheltering Bangladeshi criminals.

  • The massive influx of refugees fleeing persecution in East Pakistan -- as Bangladesh was called then -- was one of the reasons for India's decision to assist the Mukti Bahini, which was fighting for liberation from Pakistan.

The value of a Hindu life

Consider the following events that took place involving people from Kerala in dangerous situations in the recent past:
A driver with the Border Roads Organization is kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan, which threatens to kill him within 48 hours. The state and central governments do practically nothing. E Ahamed (the MP from Kerala), in charge of the foreign ministry since Natwar Singh was sacked, does practically nothing. The driver's decapitated body is found by the roadside. http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/nov/23mani.htm

A prisoner is held by the Americans in an army jail in Iraq. The government of Kerala appeals for his release and the central government intervenes. The prisoner is released and reunited with his family.

A migrant worker in Saudi Arabia is sentenced to lose an eye because in a scuffle he had blinded a Saudi in one eye. The Islamic law in Saudi Arabia states literally that an eye for an eye is the punishment for the crime. However, the chief minister of Kerala pleads for clemency. E Ahamed pleads for clemency. There are questions in Parliament. This has become an international cause celebre.

A few years ago, when a person in Iraq was kidnapped by terrorists, the government quickly established contacts with the Iraqi government, sent a member of the Minorities Commission to Iraq, and secured his release.

Here are excerpts from a report in The Pioneer newspaper ('Government could have saved him, says family'), in relation to Cases 1 and 4:

Many people are also angry that the Central and State Governments failed to save Maniappan's life. Anandan and Krishnankutty, Maniappan's uncles and ex-servicemen, blame the State and Central Governments for having failed to save their nephew's life. They wonder why the State Government did not send a minister to New Delhi to strive to secure Maniappan's release.
The family's neighbours Karthikeyan, Gopalan and Sadanandan and a host of others ask with indignation why the Central Government did not try to establish communication with the Taliban via the Afghan Government. A few Congress workers, who were reluctant to reveal their names, blamed Minister for State for External Affairs E Ahamed. Some others blamed it on top bureaucrats in New Delhi who failed to rise to the occasion.
Some recalled how Samkutty, hailing from neighbouring Mavelikkara, was rescued after a terrorist group abducted him in Iraq a few years ago. At that time, New Delhi had acted quickly by establishing contact with the Iraqi government and also sent Minorities Commission member John Joseph to Iraq secure Samkutty's release. The Union Government's persistent efforts paid off, and Samkutty (was) brought home safely. In the case of Maniappan, the Union Government did not act fast and effectively, many feel.

Here is an excerpt from a report in the Pioneer ('Naushad issue echoes in Parliament'), in relation to Case 3:

Rajya Sabha members, especially from Kerala, on Wednesday demanded immediate intervention by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to save an Indian national who is facing the threat of his eye being gouged out as a punishment for injuring a Saudi national in a scuffle.

So what is the difference between Cases 1, 2, 3, and 4, other than the fact that the person in Case 1 died a gruesome death, but the others are safe?
Just this:

Case 1 was a Hindu man, Maniappan Raman Kutty.
Case 2 is a Christian man, Sijo Jose.
Case 3 is a Muslim man, Naushad.
Case 4 is a Christian man, Samkutty.

There could not be a clearer indication of the value of a Hindu man's life. To spell out the obvious -– a Hindu's life is without value as far as politicians and the Government are concerned. But a Christian man's life, and a Muslim man's eye, are of great value. Ah, the wonders of 'secularism; as practiced in India!

This is eerily reminiscent of the Saudi Arabian system of blood money, see the Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_money (or The Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2002): In Saudi Arabia when a person has been killed or caused to die by another, the perpetrator has to pay blood money, or compensation, as follows:

100,000 riyals if the victim is a Muslim man
50,000 riyals if a Muslim woman
50,000 riyals if a Christian man
25,000 riyals if a Christian woman
6,666 riyals if a Hindu man
3,333 riyals if a Hindu woman

This hierarchy is based on the Islamic legal definitions of human rights and is rooted in the Quran and Sharia (Islamic law).

Because of the lure of petro-dollars, everyone accepts this with a shrug, 'That's the way the Saudis are'", although it violates our notions about human rights and egalitarianism.
But it is true that sovereign countries have their laws and they resent outsiders trying to tell them what to do. For instance, Singapore has extremely strict laws about drug smuggling, and those caught trafficking are summarily executed. Just a week or two ago, a Vietnamese-Australian was thus executed, despite pleas for clemency.

Of course, Case 3, regarding Naushad's pending mutilation, is a humanitarian concern. But then, Naushad is a Muslim, Saudi Arabia is the most devoutly Muslim country, and their law is totally based on the Quran and Sharia. In a purely technical and legal sense, is it appropriate for anyone to try and tell the Saudis what to do? Wouldn't that be interference in their internal affairs, and worse, in their religious affairs?

It is interesting to note that India's Muslim leaders, who have on occasion declared that their Sharia courts supersede the normal judicial process -– most recently in the case of a Muslim woman being raped by her father-in-law and then being told to divorce her husband and marry the father-in-law -– are silent about the Naushad case. Where is Shabana Azmi? Where is Teesta Setalvad? Why aren't they loudly supporting the Saudi Sharia courts in this instance? Is their support of Islam selective -– only when it is convenient for them?

There are two lessons to be taken away from these cases, and in comparison, the cases of Rubaiyya Sayeed (1989, Jammu and Kashmir), Tassaduq Dev (1991, Jammu and Kashmir), Nahida Soz (1991, Jammu and Kashmir), and of the hostages in the Indian Airlines flight that was hijacked (1999, Kandahar, Afghanistan).

If you are an upper middle class person or related to a politician, the Indian State will cave in and do whatever it takes to secure your release, including allowing mass-murdering terrorists to go scot-free.An alarming note: Rubaiyya Sayeed is the daughter of the previous chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, and Tassaduq Dev is the brother of the current J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. What does this say about their willingness to resist terrorists?

If you are a Muslim or Christian, you get substantially better treatment from the bureaucracy, politicians and the media than if you are a lower middle-class Hindu with no connections as Maniappan Raman Kutty was.

I suspect that Maniappan Kutty also belonged to a lower caste, since the Marxists did not make any noise about him. Compare this to a CPI-M Politburo member personally chivvying on the relatives of Flight 814 hostages to force the NDA government to cave in to terrorist demands.
But then, one might say that 'minorities' deserve better protection than the 'majority' community. However, this laudable goal breaks down in the case of Pakistan.

A report from Irfan Hussain ('Conversion Losses') in The Dawn http://www.dawn.com/weekly/mazdak/mazdak.htm relates the sad story of a Hindu couple in Karachi, whose three daughters, Reena (21), Usha (19) and Rima (17), vanished without a trace on October 18th.

The next the parents heard about the three girls was via a courier package which had three identical affidavits from the girls saying they had voluntarily converted to Islam and therefore couldn't live with their Hindu parents. It is quite possible that they have been kidnapped, forcibly married, and converted under duress, but as helpless minority people in Muslim-fundamentalist Pakistan, the parents have no hope for justice. But the mullahs have generously offered them, too, the opportunity to convert to Islam.

The kidnapping and forced marriage/conversion of Hindu women is intended in part to humiliate the community by showing them that they cannot protect their valued daughters. In a culture where 'honour' is important -– as seen in the many 'honour killings' of Muslim women who dare to love non-Muslim men, in the UK, for instance -- this is the gravest possible dishonor. And it is an overt threat that Hindus had better convert.

This sort of violence generally befalls only powerless 'minorities' in most places. So this is yet more evidence that in India, it is the Hindus that are the oppressed 'minority', as I have argued before in 'Who is a minority person?'

For, there was an identical tale -– same modus operandi -– of the 'disappearance' and 'conversion' of a Hindu girl in October in Hyderabad, India. This did not get much airplay in the Indian English media, naturally. 21-year-old K Pallavi disappeared, and 'reappeared' as 'Sana Fatima', clad head to toe in a burqa, and suddenly spoke fluent Urdu which she did not know before. Her mother was not allowed to see her without the burqa, or to talk to her alone, and she suspects 'Sana Fatima' is an impostor. The girl was escorted to court, curiously, by an MLA and MP of a Muslim organization.

Here is a quote from the Pioneer editorial:
It is entirely possible that Pallavi, if at all she and 'Sana Fathima' are the same person, has changed her faith in an emotional response to the killing of a young Muslim man, with whom she is said to have been rather friendly, last year. But that does not mitigate the possible social impact of her action that must be judged in the context of realities which cannot be wished away.
Her gender is immaterial to the points that are being raised by those opposed to surreptitious conversion by deceit, if not by coercion or inducement. If Pallavi indeed wanted to embrace Islam as an informed adult, she need not have done so in such a cloak-and-dagger manner; if her action had no political or social bearing, she would not have been provided with political cover of the sort that was witnessed in court on Monday.

So what do you think, gentle reader, is the value of a Hindu's life in India?
Comments welcome at my blog at http://rajeev2004.blogspot.com
Rajeev Srinivasan

Friday, December 16, 2005

A reality we all try to ignore with pain........

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Solitude vs Loneliness

Loneliness is marked by a sense of isolation. Solitude, on the other hand, is a state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to self-awareness.

As the world spins faster and faster -- or maybe it just seems that way when an email can travel around the world in fractions of a second -- we mortals need a variety of ways to cope with the resulting pressures. We need to maintain some semblance of balance and some sense that we are steering the ship of our life.

Otherwise we feel overloaded, overreact to minor annoyances an feel like we can never catch up. As far as I'm concerned, one of the best ways is by seeking, and enjoying, solitude.

That said, there is an important distinction to be established right off the bat. There is a world of difference between solitude and loneliness, though the two terms are often used interchangeably.

From the outside, solitude and loneliness look a lot alike. Both are characterized by solitariness. But all resemblance ends at the surface.

Loneliness is a negative state, marked by a sense of isolation. One feels that something is missing. It is possible to be with people and still feel lonely -- perhaps the most bitter form of loneliness.

Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself. Solitude is desirable, a state of being alone where you provide yourself wonderful and sufficient company.

Solitude is a time that can be used for reflection, inner searching or growth or enjoyment of some kind. Deep reading requires solitude, so does experiencing the beauty of nature. Thinking and creativity usually do too.

Solitude suggests peacefulness stemming from a state of inner richness. It is a means of enjoying the quiet and whatever it brings. that is satisfying and from which we draw sustenance. It is something we cultivate. Solitude is refreshing; an opportunity to renew ourselves. In other words, it replenishes us.

Loneliness is harsh, punishment, a deficiency state, a state of discontent marked by a sense of estrangement, an awareness of excess aloneness.

Solitude is something you choose. Loneliness is imposed on you by others.

We all need periods of solitude, although temperamentally we probably differ in the amount of solitude we need. Some solitude is essential; It gives us time to explore and know ourselves. It is the necessary counterpoint to intimacy, what allows us to have a self worthy of sharing.Solitude gives us a chance to regain perspective. It renews us for the challenges of life. It allows us to get (back) into the position of driving our own lives, rather than having them run by schedules and demands from without.

Solitude restores body and mind. Lonelinesss depletes them.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Finally some sense.....

From the day one at blogger the features that i misssed are:

1. Ablity to moderate the comments before they are published on my site
2. Categories
3. RSS

Well, today saw that the first feature i want is granted - Inablity to moderate the comments before they are published on my site.

So from now on all the comments are gonna be moderated, so keep away spammers :-)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Loooooong URL

Its a dream of everyone who owns a site, to have a short & memorable URL(atleast, i want it that way). And now i have my own URL : "http://www.sreenadh.net/".

To day i just came across a site called "GiganticURL" that gives long URL the thought why not and here i go.....
My long URL:


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Another Diwali

There goes another Diwali. It was pretty nice. Lighted the whole house with over 100 diyas. A humble but pretty nice way to live the Diwali spirit.
Yet i can remember my days at Chennai during the Diwali. Diwali is one of the main festivals for Tamil Nadu. The most amusing part is that, when i was in Chennai for 5 yrs. At the junction near my house, there were 2 shops. One was fruit shop & other was a Book Shop. These two shop, during the normal days they had a very sluggish business. But during the Diwali times, both these shops b'cos full-fledged fireworks shop. Selling all kinds & shapes of fireworks. And once i remember the fruit shop guy telling my uncle that money he gets during Diwali is enough to keep him going for the year. And other days he runs the shop to just keep the place.

Happy Diwali

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Another definition for love.....

I define love as a four letter word with over 4 trillion definitions.

And here i found another definition:
True love is when you see the flaws;
overlook the imperfection;
understand the weaknesses;
and still; can't live without it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Happy B'day - Sandil

Well, 17th October was the birthday of Sandil.

And i only came to know about it just now.

Well, for those who don't know Sandil. All i can say is that he a friend of mine who is carzy about music, photography,table tennis & computers(sorry if i forgot any).
He is even an amature Keyboard & gutair player(he is pretty good).

In computers, he is far more experienced than me & i keep bugging him frequently when ever i need some help.

Well, if to decribe him in detail. Its gonna be a long story and i am really busy.

So all i want to do is wish Sandil all the best.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Outsourcing Hurts Indians, too

Its a very well know fact that one of the most booming form of business in India is outsourcing. And of that, Call Centers are popularly know mainly for 2 reasons:
  1. In India, its consider as one of the best jobs among youngsters because the only qualification is required for the job is the ability to speak in English which is a piece of cake for the Indians.
  2. In US, UK & other countries were the jobs are outsourced to India. The whole thing is considered as a bane as the people in that country are going out of job.
Well, i guess there is a 3rd additional reason to the above . Read on..............

IT Sweatshops Breaking Indians

Outsourcing tech jobs to India has caused turmoil for workers in the United States and Europe. But it seems it's causing turmoil for Indians, as well.

An estimated 50,000 young English-speaking Indians who work in call centers here are exposed to a host of health problems. They are usually in their early 20s, just out of college and up all night answering tech calls.

Because of the time difference between India and the United States, the work day for these workers starts late in the evening and extends until dawn. Such odd work hours have brought on a host of health problems including digestive diseases, hair loss, back pain and stress.

"Two call center workers have suffered miscarriages," said Gurvinder Singh Bindra, a senior-level manager at Indus Teleservices, which employs about 250 workers earning $160 to $300 per month. "Some girls develop menstrual problems. Orthopedic problems and sharp increase in smoking are common features. I would also attribute extramarital affairs in call centers to the odd working hours, though it's my personal observation. When the husband comes home the wife is asleep. When the wife comes home the husband is asleep."

Some even claim assuming a foreign accent for long periods causes sore throats.

"We do try to make life better for the workers by buying specially designed chairs and improving the overall work environment," said Nirupama Hukku, who used to work at Indus Teleservices as a training consultant. "But there is no alternative to a good night's sleep.

"I don't feel fresh even after eight to 10 hours of sleep in the day. It makes you some kind of recluse at times, creating issues in relationships. You are never awake when others are, so no one can talk to you."

Laxmikant Purohit, a 34-year-old services manager at SoftTel Information Services who works from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., says he suffers from constipation and acid stomach. In the past eight months he has put on 29 pounds, he said.

"It's difficult to have a positive outlook toward life because everything seems dark and gloomy when you work at ungodly hours," he said. "It's the first month that is the most terrible. One or two weeks after joining, new recruits throw up in the middle of work."

At Infowavz, absenteeism on some days is as high as 8 percent. "On an average it is 5 percent," said the call center facility's President Vineet Mittal. Infowavz has introduced concepts like a "fun officer," whose job is to spot employees who look a bit down and try to entertain them with jokes.

"I believe call centers should do all they can to improve the lives of those who work there," Mittal said. That's why even though 10 out of 12 Infowavz clients are American, the firm never demanded that its workers perfect their American accents.

"Some call centers ask their agents, as the floor workers are called, to practice speaking English with a marble placed below the tongue to imitate the American accent better," Mittal said.

Apart from the health hazards, there is a minor social embarrassment attached to a distinct American accent slipping out of an Indian mouth. Some call center workers are so consumed by the accent they employ at work that they accidentally take it home, only to be ridiculed by their near and dear. Manish Raut, 26, who works at Transworks, said he takes great care to return to his normal Indian English accent with friends.

"But I cannot do anything about the fact that I fall ill for one or two days on a regular basis. Since I work from 10:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., my whole biological system has gone for a toss. I have a proper meal just once a day. If I eat well at night I feel sleepy. And in the day I am fast asleep."

Not surprisingly, the attrition rate is high in the call center business. Thirty to 40 percent of the workers quit in a year. But they are quickly replaced because there are enough English-speaking youngsters in India available for jobs that pay $160 to $300 per month.

They will learn not to call it easy money.