Saturday, February 22, 2003

We always budge from budget

Swaminthan writes an interesting piece on budget in this article. I feel it’s incomplete since he mentions about budgets in other nations but doesn’t delve fully into how far they stray from their national budgets. I personally don’t think other countries are any holier than India when it comes to not sticking to budget allocations. I know for sure UK doesn’t. A few snippets:

Let me start by asking whether we have a budget at all. People use the word to mean different things. But for a Government, a budget is supposed to fix spending limits for different departments, according to the Government's priorities. In many countries, a department facing Budget cuts has to shed staff or schemes. But not in India. Here jobs are sacred. DA and TA are sacred. No ongoing scheme, no matter how hare-brained, can be axed instantly. In a peculiar Indian inversion of global practice, almost everything is fixed except the budget allocation.

He also goes on to say: I do not know what so many people see in the Budget. But I also do not know what so many people see in Britney Spears, or Bipasha Basu. God works in mysterious ways, and so does the public.

Friday, February 21, 2003

RAW capabilties

A Pakistani columnist Gp Capt SM HALI examines the historical capacity of Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) of India to conduct clandestine operations. You can read the full article here. Below are a few snippets to entice you to read it even though it is quite a long article.
The vision of the Arthashastra, is truly breath taking, its practical utility timeless and the clarity of its exposition unique. The techniques of manipulating public opinion and creating disinformation, propounded by Chanakya anticipated modern intelligence systems by several centuries. No wonder then that the nearly 2500 years old lessons in deceit, guile, hypocrisy, machination, and gore taught by that Master strategist, Chanakya alias Kautilya (literally meaning 'crooked') was adopted in toto by India and its chief intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
While Chanakya presents a highly developed and complicated system of governance including an all-pervasive espionage system, references to it are found in pre-Mauryan literature, too. The Mahabharata refers to a mythological tradition on the origin of the dandaniti and the art of espionage, which was handed down from the past. It expounds 'Brahma, the creator, himself composed a work comprising 1,00,000 chapters relating to dharma (religion), artha (economy), kama (sexual desire) and moksa (spiritual salvation) - the four aspects of life.' Brahma's compilation, according to the Great Epic, included subjects of behaviour towards counsellors, of spies, the indication of princes, of secret agents possessed of diverse means, of envoys, and agents of other kinds, conciliation, fomenting discord, gifts and chastisement; deliberations including counsels for producing disunion; the three kinds of victory, first, that which served righteously, secondly, which was won by wealth, and, thirdly, the one obtained by deceitful ways; chastisement of two kinds, namely, open and secret; the disorder created in the hostile troops; inspiring the enemy with fear; the means of winning over persons residing in the enemy territory; and finally, the chastisement and destruction of those that are strong.'

No other civilization can claim such an antiquity for the techniques of war, diplomacy, intrigue and espionage and on such compulsive terms.

...'the aim of RAW is to keep internal disturbances flaring up and the ISI preoccupied so that Pakistan can lend no worthwhile resistance to Indian designs in the region.' He concludes, 'RAW over the years has admirably fulfilled its task of destabilizing target states through unbridled export for terrorism. The 'Indian Doctrine' spelt out a difficult and onerous role of RAW. It goes to its credit that it has accomplished its assigned objectives. The Indian government spelling out the task for RAW in this regard has stated, 'Pakistan should be so destabilized internally that it could not support the 'Kashmir cause even morally, diplomatically or politically'. Keeping the size of Pakistan in view, the task seems a difficult one for RAW. But it appears, RAW has taken it as a challenge and is working assiduously and speedily to accomplish this task'.

No wonder, with the wily Chanakya as its mentor and the machinations preached in his Arthasastra as their bible, RAW is well equipped to continue waging its war of propaganda, sabotage and subversion. It is for its prime target 'Pakistan' to be wary of its macabre game plan of continuing war by 'other means' and continue exposing RAW's heinous designs against us, which are a blatant, utter and naked violation of all human values.


Thursday, February 20, 2003

History repeats itself?

"I heard a bang, followed by another big bang, and then I saw flames and smoke on the hills," says a villager who witnessed the plane that crashed and killed the commander of Pakistan's air force, Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir, his wife and several senior officers. Reuters story.

Former dictator of Pakistan, Gen Zia Ul Haq, also died under mysterious circumstances. Many theories have been proposed but experts believe that it was most likely a poison gas that knocked out the entire crew. You can read a bit more about it in this article. A similar documentary story was shown on BBC when the Russians used a paralysing gas during the 2002 hostage crisis.
The debate continues...

Off late I have been seeing interesting news about how Iraqi exiles support the war. The surprise (to me) came on Tuesday night in the form of one-hour debate on Channel 5 in UK. The debate was between two women – one an Iraqi exile and the other a current resident of Iraq who is in London for medical treatment. The panel also included two editors of national newspapers and of course the TV anchor (who I must say did a good job to prevent a mini war between the debaters!). I wish I could reproduce the entire conversation but since my memory is limited I am posting here the essence of the debate. The disclaimer is: what is written here is not verbatim. It is all from my memory. I have used PW for pro-war Iraqi exile, AW for anti-war current Iraqi resident, ED for editors, and TV for the anchor. Of course both the lady debaters had a strong Iraqi accent and their English was not grammatically at its best.


TV: Do you support war?

PRO: Absolutely. I think it is time Saddam was removed. I left the country right after the first Gulf war and it was horrendous to see the massacres that Saddam committed in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Kurds were just massacred because they challenged him.

ANTI: I don’t support war. I think in the end it will be hurting us more than Saddam. I don’t like Saddam. Many in my country don’t like him. Even he knows that but he is powerful and will stay there as long as he likes.

ED: Aren’t you afraid that Saddam might punish you or do something bad to you for saying all this?

ANTI: No. We say this everyday in Iraq itself. No I am not afraid. Saddam knows not many people like him. There are few who will die for him but not many. Many of his own soldiers don’t like him but work for him just to earn a living.

ED: So Saddam does not get angry for saying this?

ANTI: No. I don’t know. If he does then he has to be angry with all of Iraq.

TV: Is it true that he executes people who oppose him?

ANTI: Yes he does. But not common people. Only people who pose real threat to his chair. Most executions take place in the army. He is scared of coups. When I left Iraq two days ago he put the Defence Minister under house arrest. This is the person who is his own relative. So you see he is really scared.

TV: What do you think of the million people who marched for peace?

PRO: I think it is stupid of them to march like that without knowing the ground realities. Where were these people when Saddam killed thousands of Kurds? Where were they when he killed his own people? It is time we have democracy in Iraq. Thousands are dying everyday – why is it they go for march only when US wants to liberate people?

ED: You were shaking your head as she spoke. Do you disagree?

ANTI: Yes. I don’t think war will bring peace to my nation. At least I don’t think people will accept US democracy.

TV: Why not?

ANTI: Because there is no one to lead my nation. We do not have confidence in US appointed leader. US is a friend of Israel and they hate Arabs. How can we allow US to install leader and rule us? Saddam is better than having US appointed leader.

PRO: But surely you would want freedom more than Saddam?

ANTI: Yes I do. But I think our people should fight for it.

PRO: But Iraqi’s are not capable of fighting.

ANTI: Who told you so? (angrily). If we are weak today, it is because of America. They have put sanctions on us. Let me ask you one thing (to the editors). Can you fight when you are hungry? No you can’t. We are too hungry to fight. People die of hunger daily. At least Saddam doesn’t kill daily. Lift the sanctions and we will fight. It may not be as quick as bombs but in the end we will have a new leader who we can trust. Today if my son wants a gun to fight, he has to approach Saddam for it.

PRO: Iraqi people can never topple Saddam. After him it will be his son and it will go on like that. Even if million people die in war it will be good for Iraq. Tell me one time when a ruthless person like Saddam has given up power? Such people give up only when they die.

ED: So you oppose...

ANTI: Wait wait (almost getting up out of chair). What about Idi Amin? He was worse than Saddam. But who toppled him? Not US or UK. It was the people. They overthrew him. All I ask is give us a chance.

ED: So you don’t want US or UK to come and liberate you.

ANTI: No I didn’t say that. I don’t mind them coming and taking out Saddam. But it is not easy. Saddam is cunning. He plans to take all pregnant women and put them next to radars. So America has to be careful when it bombs. He has already done survey of all houses to see how many pregnant women there are. But I don’t want America’s leader.

TV: Why not?

ANTI: They are our enemies. They always support Israel and Israel has done us lot of harm.

ED: What if UN appoints a leader?

ANTI: Why should anyone appoint leader? Tell me is there anyone you know who can lead us? Twenty-five years Saddam has ruled. We have had no chance to test other leaders. How do we know the UN leader is not working for US or Israel? America does not have moral right to impose leader on us. Nor does it have right to impose no fly zone.

TV: But surely no fly zone has helped the Kurds?

ANTI: Helped them? I don’t think so. That whole place is become a smuggling and gambling area now. Even America uses it for smuggling and other meetings. Look. Iraqi people don’t hate Kurds. Do you hate them? No. Then why should we hate them? Kurds don’t hate us either. Yes some want free country but that we can discuss. I don’t think Iraqi’s and Kurds will go to war on that issue.

PRO: Then why did Saddam gas them?

ANTI: Saddam is not Iraqi leader. He is a dictator. You should ask him that question and not me. When that happened, many Iraqi’s risked their lives to hide Kurds in their house. Do you know that?

ED: What do you think about people saying America wants Iraqi oil?

PRO: I think they will not get it. Iraqi people do not trust American leadership. Even I would not support America appointed leader. I think new leader should be one who has always been in Iraq. He will know our pains. So I don’t think America will get any oil if they are going to war with that in mind.

ED: So you want America to liberate you and leave you alone?

PRO: Of course. I believe that is all they would like to do as well.


Once again the debate is what I recall from my memory. It was an hour programme and many more issues were discussed. The pro-war Iraqi woman is a UK resident who got asylum after the first gulf war. The anti-war Iraqi woman is here in UK for a week trip for medical reasons. She will be going back and for those doubting Thomases, I would like to state that she had no idea she would be asked to join a debate when she left Iraq. The TV crew requested her to participate when she was at the hospital (or so they stated).

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Ok before I put up my post for the day, here is an update. Changed my blog template because the images of TC, Shrek and Gandalf failed to show. I guess Ranchoweb has deleted the image which Suku made for me. I loved the old template and Suku thanks for being sweet enough to make one for me :-) Now I have switched to a template which doesn't rely on any images. Plain and simple :-) I guess most of you will miss the tagboard but I will see if I can squeeze it in somewhere without spoiling the look. I realise it is particularly useful to leave quick notes and also when comments are not working. Now back to my post for the day.

Three lessons for America

A good read from a polciy paper by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

Three lessons emerge from past American experience that President Bush should heed. First, given the overall low rate of success in regime change, a similar operation in the Middle East, a tough geopolitical neighborhood far away from American shores, carries greater risks and has less chance of success. Iraq, with 24 million people and a volatile ethnic mix, would be one of the most ambitious US projects.

Second, the overthrow of the old dictator never guarantees a successful regime change. The critical factor is the occupier's capacity to transform weak state institutions, such as the bureaucracy, courts, and military, into effective instruments of governance. Most outsiders fail in this attempt. Even lengthy commitment does not produce desired results.

Third, unilateralism makes things worse, even though multilateral efforts do not necessarily ensure success. Nearly all of the United States' attempted regime changes in Latin America were unilateral, with high costs both to the American image in the region and Washington's ability to sustain domestic political support for the undertakings.

Iraq should be the last place for the US to repeat the same mistakes.

Here is the link to the full article. It talks about America's previous attempts to have a regime change (18 times to be precise) and how successful it has been.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Time to switch off

Wanted to post something about war today. I spent a large part of the weekend reading about Iraq's past and America's involvement with that country over the ages. I wrote a looonnng post just for today and when I finished the last sentence, I just felt I was wasting my time. Off late I am getting tired talking about war. So I am just going to shut up for a while and enjoy reading others views. And when I find some nice link I will just put it up. Like in this article, K Subrahmanyam Defence analyst and consulting editor, TOI, makes an interesting case of why India should support US in the war. Basically what he states is that Bharat Mata should drop her morals in stark nudity and stand side by side with Americans, because only Uncle Sam is capable of having an erection. I wonder why in my school days we were taught to differentiate between good morals and bad evils if at the end of the day all that counts is being supreme.

Meanwhile I am concentrating on a new blog. It is dedicated to the history of my state - Karnataka. I am going to find all the info there is about Karnataka on the web and put it up in one area - right from pre-historic times to the present. I am already enjoying it since I have learnt much about my state that I had not known. The blog is up but since most of the information is not organised, I am going to delay its launch for a while. Oh how I wish some of my fellow bloggers, who scream for oil.. errr..blood, would delve into history before they took to arms. ;-)

UPDATE: In line with my theme of posting nice links, here is one for Shanti. Mainly coz in one of her comments she asked me to point to one Iraqi who was against war. Salam Pax is an Iraqi blogger and used to blog regularly from Baghdad. He lost access to Blogger at the beginning of the month due to some firewall restrictions and Iraqi government switching off the net access to public. I landed up at his site just days before he shut down but his archives are a good read. Here is his reply to an American (whom he calls as the newest member of the 'shut up and say thank you club') who told him the war would do Iraqi people good.

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