May 2, 2009

"Lashkar" by Mukul Deva

It has been a while since i read fiction, and Mukul Deva's Lashkar proved to be a wonderful resumption point. Lashkar is a fast paced and gripping thriller, with a plot based on terrorism and Pakistan. Mukul goes to the heart of the matter touching both how terrorism impacts people at a personal level, and how it needs to be tackled. Took me most of a Saturday to run through it, and be amazed at the fact pace of it.

I grew up reading a lot of war fiction by Alistair McLean, Desmond Bagley, Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth etc. Mukul's military thrillers are clearly in this genre and he easily ranks well in this peer group. Strongly recommend!

May 1, 2009

"Indians Deserve Their Politicians"

Atanu Dey quotes this Financial Times article, and sums up that the Indian people deserve the Congress. An auto walla told me something similar yesterday evening. I was taking an auto rickshaw from Secretariat to Domalguda, hardly 1.5 km distance. Most auto wallas either do not come, or demand Rs 20-30 (way above the usual minimum fare of Rs 12).

This man was an exception, he smiled, and even politely enquired me about the elections. I told him about Loksatta the new party, and how it could win a few seats in Hyderabad. He nodded saying, "Well there are few educated people who will vote for them, especially in the Jubilee Hills constituency". When I suggested most other politicians are crooks, this young man (all of twenty years) concurred but added, "It is the Indian public that is to blame, we vote for them after taking money, we accept their biryani feasts and liquor packets and vote for them. We deserve their rule as we break the rules of civic engagement. We are the bigger thieves!". "Why, the other auto wallas demand Rs 20 for the same ride, isn't that too thievery?", he asked.

I came home feeling good about meeting one man with clarity of thought. He aptly summarised, what took an IIM professor a full book.

"Terrorism in India" & 'Secular' Bogeys

Rediff published an article titled 'Terrorism started because of BJP' and links it to 26/11 Mumbai attacks. I am not a die-hard political supporter of BJP, but still find this article absolutely inane, because it confuses the real reasons behind the rise of terrorism.

Global terrorism traces back to the Cold War political tussle between USA and USSR, when the latter invaded Afghanistan. The US cynically exploited religion to defeat the Soviets, by funding terrorists and the Pakistan Army (which got radicalised thanks to General Zia and created the Taliban). Pakistan has been using both the funding (very cleverly procured and blackmailed, it is now clearly an art) and the terrorists as a weapon against India (since it has no other Raison d'ĂȘtre), leading to attacks such as 26/11. Now this Frankenstein monster is turning against Pakistan and threatens to destabilise the South Asia region. Destabilising effects will likely be more terrorist attacks in India and deeper trouble in Kashmir, as these terrorists and some Pakistani Army elements sort out their immediate issues and refocus on India.

It is ridiculous to see this desperate search for Indian 'equivalents' for the AfPak terrorism patterns, and blame them as the causes, all just to sound more 'secular'.