January 13, 2007

ULFA threatens to kill Cong leaders in Assam

Times of India

GUWAHATI: The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) has threatened to kill ruling Congress party leaders in Assam, even as the army said that a 30-member rebel group involved in the massacre of Hindi-speaking migrants may have gone underground.

"If any Assamese youth is killed in the ongoing army operations, ULFA's 28th battalion would target and eliminate Congress leaders working at the grassroots and also state-level politicians," ULFA commander Prabal Neog was quoted as saying by language newspapers on Saturday.

The rebel threat comes in the wake of a massive crackdown by the army, paramilitary and police in the state following a terrible weekend that left over 60 poor workers from Bihar and about 10 others dead.

"The army operations against us will fail to yield any results," the ULFA leader said.

Authorities have asked Congress workers and leaders to be on guard against possible attacks by the outlawed ULFA.

"Security has been tightened across the state with many Congress leaders now being provided police escorts," an Assam police official said.

In recent days, hundreds of soldiers were airlifted to the jungles of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to crack down on ULFA.

"The idea of the operation is to uproot bases, eliminate rebels or capture them," an army commander said. "So far we have killed five ULFA rebels and captured at least six."

The army official said the latest killings were carried out by a 30-member group of handpicked ULFA guerrillas from ULFA's so-called 28th battalion.

"About 30 ULFA separatists armed with assault rifles and other sophisticated weapons actually carried out the massacres in eastern Assam after splitting into smaller groups," the commander said.

The orgy of violence spread over four days left 73 people dead - 61 Hindi-speaking workers, five policemen and two government officials besides five ULFA rebels shot dead in separate gun battles.

"Probably they dumped their weapons and by now have moved out of the region or possibly mingled with the locals, making the task of security forces difficult,"
the army official said.

ULFA has bases in Arunachal Pradesh besides training camps in Myanmar's northern Sagaing Division.

"The 30 rebels were specifically chosen by the ULFA brass to carry out the attacks on Hindi-speaking workers," the commander said. After unleashing a reign of terror, the hit squads dispersed.


January 12, 2007

Creating a northeastern Bhindranwala, playing footsie with Ulfa

Playing footsie with Ulfa



UPA politicians have been shedding TV-compatible tears over the serial killings of Biharis in Assam. Government bigwigs have been queuing to hop onto brand new Embraers for flying for an on-the-spot assessment of the security situation in the state. And there have been a chorus "we-will-not-allow-this-carnage-to-continue" pledges from the government's top leaders.

But the killings in Assam — 69 murders in three days — have shown that the government leadership and its internal security managers remain both clueless and senseless in tackling one of the biggest problems in recent years. After the Naxalite fiasco, this is the second time that the Manmohan Singh government has failed to live up to its constitutional duty to provide for the security of its citizens.

The men in uniform cannot be faulted for the current mess as a series of efforts were underway in recent months to undo the good work done by the forces. While cynical political calculations prompted the Congress to get the support of Ulfa in the last Lok Sabha elections, its internal security managers have allowed themselves to be led by cop-hating NGOs, who never uttered a word against the perpetrators of violence, for finding a solution to the menace.

Even ardent admirers of the Congress would admit that the two approaches converged just when the forces were on the threshold of liquidating Ulfa. They had not just managed to decrease the cadre strength and stop fresh recruitment, its leaders were forced to leave the country and seek asylum in the terror factories of Bangladesh.

But the forces did not get the go ahead for the final strike as the government leadership here decided to wave the white flag and allowed themselves to be led by the fantasies of the "dialogue and reconciliation" crowd in the NGOs.

The government leaders and the IAS bosses claim that sprinkling a few hundred more policemen in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts will shore up the situation.

But can it? The recent activities of Ulfa and the support that it is getting from Pakistan and Bangladesh show that this assessment is outlandish and fanciful. Pakistan and Bangladesh have been backing Ulfa for fomenting trouble in Assam for the past several years. The government itself had recently conceded that some of Ulfa's top operatives received training in the terror camps of Bangladesh and Pak-occupied Kashmir.

The two countries have also been facilitating illegal migration to the state. And current estimates show that Muslims constitute over 32% of the state's population. A governor's report lying with the President had stated that the attempt of the two countries is to make Assam a Muslim-dominated state.

The targeted killings of Biharis suggest that it was aimed at ensuring sufficient space for the Bangladeshi immigrants. The Ulfa has been asking "Indians" living in Assam to pay a "tax" to the outfit. But no such claim was made on the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, the country that provides shelter for the outfit's leadership. Its recent activities clearly demonstrate that Ulfa has ceased to be an Assamese movement, but a full-scale auxiliary of the jehadis wanting to dismember India.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi's own police say that at least half a dozen jehadi outfits are active in the state. Among them are the Muslim Liberation Tigers of Assam, the Independent Liberation Army of Assam, the People's United Liberation Front, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami.

The activities of these outfits are being handled by Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) of Bangladesh. The Ulfa has now close connections with HUM. Surely, this is not a problem that should be left for Indira Goswami and her friends to handle.
The government, which agreed to hold talks with the deadly menace Ulfa, had been defending it by terming it as a harmless outreach.

Really? Anyone who has a fleeting acquaintance with reports from Assam would say that talks with Ulfa were part of a pre-election deal, which Congress leaders signed with the secessionists. That it has not learnt any lesson is evident from the fact that the Congress is persisting with its attempts at "social engineering" and promises of special treatment for politically crucial constituencies.

The societal divisions have become sharper in Assam after the Congress dispensation gave in to the demands from hardline community elements. The Supreme Court had to intervene twice in the past 12 months for preventing a sellout of national security for votes when the government attempted to bring the scrapped IMDT through the backdoor.

The killings of Bihari labourers is yet another reminder that expeditious corner cutting and novel "problem solving" methods could lead to more catastrophes. The Congress which created Bhindranwala with horrific consequences ought to have known better

NDTV hung its head in shame

1/12/2007 4:55:50 AM B.R.Haran

‘N’ation ‘D’amaging ‘T’ele ‘V’ision (NDTV) hangs its head in shame

DAY / DATE : Thursday the 11th of January 2007.
TIME : 8.30 pm.
PROGRAM : 'Verdict' – India 60 minutes.
TOPIC : Makara Jyothi in Sabari Mala.

HIDDEN AGENDA: To insult Aiyappa Devotees; To ridicule Hindu faith; To hurt Hindus' religious sentiments.

PANEL : 1. Shri. G. Sudhagaran, Devaswom Minister,Government of Kerala.

2. Shri. Ananthraman, Guru Swamy from Bangalore.

3. Shri. Rajan Gurukkal, School of Social Sciences, MG University.

ANCHOR : Ms. Nidi Razdan.

QUESTION : Is "Makara Jyohthi" (Divine Light) a miracle or State's set up?


1981 – Mr. Karunakaran Nair of KSEB (Kerala State Electricity Board) along with the help of his driver Gopinathan Nair set up an 'artificial' jyothi by lighting 2Kgs of camphor.

1986 – Officials of Devaswom Board set up an artificial Jyothi with the protection of the Kerala Police.

The correspondent of NDTV showed a concrete platform like structure from where the artificial light was allegedly set up by the 'state'. He also said that the setting up of the 'Jyothi' is an open secret, but the devotees are not bothered.


Mr. G.Sudhagaran:- The 'Makara Jyothi' cannot be termed as a State's set up. The government has never involved in such things. The government respects the 'faith' of all religions and all religions have many such faiths, which should not be questioned or debated, as it will hurt their religious sentiments.

Mr. Anantharaman, Guruswamy:- As devotees of Swami Aiyappa, we believe in Makara Jyothi and that is why millions of devotees are thronging the Sabarimala every year. We have steadfast faith in Lord.Aiyappa, which should not be debated.

Mr. Rajan Gurukkal:- Such a farce has resulted in many stampedes and unfortunate deaths. It is condemnable that the government itself is involved in such set ups.

The channel showed the result of the SMS poll as 100% for state's set up and 0% for miracle, along with support comments from only three viewers, just for a few seconds and withdrew the figures & comments. Suddenly the anchor thanked the panelists and closed the program and shifted to sports news. The whole program lasted only for 5 to 6 minutes, while normally such 'verdict' debates are conducted for 30 to 40 minutes.

What happened behind the scenes? Why the program was abruptly closed?

The answer is left to our guessing.

RESULT:- The embarrassed Anchor Nidi Razdan cut a sorry figure and NDTV hung its head in shame.


Why was the set up done only in 1981 & 1986?

Is the Jyothi state-managed every year?

The devotees (including me) have been witnessing the Makara Jyothi for ages (I was told by my elders that during their days the Jyothi used to be there for even 5 to 10 minutes) and has it been 'managed' since then?

If it is set up on a concrete platform, how come it moves on air?

If the alleged 'set up' is true, why have the governments involved in such a 'farce' to fool the devotees?

Who is bloody NDTV to question the faith of Hindus?


"Christian funded channels like you have no business to ridicule Hindu faiths. Were you eating '@#%$' when that 'rascal' Benny Hinn was cheating millions in Bangalore? Don't hurt our religious sentiments damn it! Change your topic of debate." – B.R.Haran, Chennai.

I feel many such messages would have reached the channel forcing it to close the program abruptly. Let us not allow these anti-Hindu channels to telecast such programs in future also.

January 11, 2007

Terrorism as an Export

Terrorism as an Export


January 11, 2007: Pakistan has a bigger problem with terrorism than does India. Last year, India, with a population of 1.08 billion, had 2.56 terror related deaths per million population. Pakistan, with 166 million people, had 5.46 dead per million. As in India, not all the Pakistani terror activities were connected with Islamic radicalism. Tribal separatism in Baluchistan led to 31 percent of the deaths. Nearly all the remaining deaths were related to Taliban activities along the Afghan border, or fighting between different religious sects (particularly Sunni and Shia zealots) throughout the country. Pakistan also exports a lot of Islamic terror to Indian Kashmir and Afghanistan. There were 1,552 terrorism related arrests in Pakistan (70 percent of them Taliban, three percent al Qaeda, 13 percent other Islamic militants, and 14 percent separatists.)

In northwest India, separatists and security forces have been fighting for nearly a week, with over sixty dead, most of them rebels and civilians. The separatists have been attacking migrant workers, and thousand of these workers have, with their families, fled back into non-tribal India.

In Bangladesh, political violence, mainly party partisans fighting it out in the streets, has left over fifty dead in the last ten weeks. The main dispute is over the honesty of upcoming elections.

The Belarusian Crisis: An Opportunity for Germany


By Peter Zeihan

Picture this scenario: After months of acrimonious negotiations over energy prices, Russian leaders put their foot down and inform the government of a former Soviet republic that the gravy train has screeched to a halt -- no more subsidized energy supplies. At the dawn of a new year, Moscow ratchets up prices by orders of magnitude, the former vassal state begins siphoning off Russian exports destined for customers in Europe and the Europeans complain vociferously about interruptions to their supplies.

If this sounds familiar, it's because just such a sequence of events occurred in early January 2006, in a spat between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas supplies.

Almost exactly a year later, the scenario has repeated itself, though this time it concerns oil, rather than natural gas, and Belarus, rather than Ukraine. But from a geopolitical standpoint, there are some important differences between the two energy crises. In 2006, Russia used the crisis with Ukraine -- a state crucial to its own national security and territorial integrity -- to drive home a political point to European powers. The point, essentially, was that the ability of everyday Poles, French or Germans to keep warm during the northern European winters was directly tied to their governments' support for Russia on wider geopolitical issues. Recent events involving Belarus, however, might lead to a very different outcome: a foundation for unity among European states and at least a limited assertion of European power.

The Russian Sphere

To understand this, it's important to consider the former Soviet region from Moscow's perspective.

The natural gas cutoffs to Europe last year were all about Russia bringing a post-Orange Revolution Ukraine to heel, and enlisting wider support in its attempts to do so. By ratcheting the price dispute with Kiev into an energy crisis for Europe in the dead of winter, Moscow demonstrated that having a pro-Russian government in Ukraine would mean stable energy supplies for Europe, while the consequences of an anti-Russian government in Ukraine would be economic instability for Europe. Having made that point, Russia spent much of 2006 raking back its influence in Kiev -- a process that culminated in the selection of pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich as prime minister.

For Russia, such events -- like Moscow's defeat in the Orange Revolution before them -- were core considerations. Without Ukraine in its orbit, Russia's economic and strategic coherence frays, making it impossible for Russia to function as a global power.

The Russian calculus concerning Belarus, however, is quite different. Ukraine's geographic location and infrastructure make the state critical to Russia's ability to control the Caucasus, feed its population, field a navy, interact with Europe and defend its heartland. While Belarus is more economically developed than Ukraine, it has less than half the land mass and only a quarter of the population. In fact, Belarus likely would be only a footnote in Moscow's strategic planning, but for the fact that some of Russia's natural gas and oil exports pass through it en route to Europe. The Belarusians are well aware of their position.

The leader of Belarus since shortly after the Soviet breakup has been President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Once a Soviet bureaucrat assigned to the USSR's agricultural cooperatives, Lukashenko cut a deal with the Russians upon attaining power: Support me with Soviet-era subsidies and I will sing your praises -- and curse your rivals -- loudly, reflexively and for all time.

The deal served both parties fine. Russia kept an unflinching ally and Lukashenko maintained his popularity through cheap energy supplies -- which fueled the local economy (both literally and figuratively, as Minsk was able to re-export Russian oil and oil products to the West at market rates). Putting a precise monetary value on the benefits to Belarus is difficult, given the murkiness of Russian accounting, but it certainly comes to much more than the Soviet Union spent annually on Cuba during the Cold War. In 2006, for example, the energy subsidies alone amounted to $5 billion.

There were some ancillary benefits for Lukashenko as well. As the years rolled on, his anti-Western rhetoric was so steadily vitriolic that many of Russia's nationalists privately wished he were one of their own. Some of the more, shall we say, colorful of these nationalists took to leaking "poll results" encouraging him to run for the Russian presidency; talks soon ensued about ways to merge the two states into a new union reminiscent of the USSR. For Lukashenko, this was quite attractive: In such an arrangement, he would undoubtedly become the vice president, and -- considering that then-President Boris Yeltsin was known to have the blood alcohol level of a dry martini -- Lukashenko was certain it would be only a matter of time before a failed quadruple bypass made him the revered premier of a revived Soviet empire.

But things changed sharply in 2000, when (the teetotal and healthy) Vladimir Putin became president of Russia. It did not take long for Putin to decide he cared little for Lukashenko, personally, professionally and politically, and relations between Moscow and Minsk steadily cooled. By the end of 2005, Putin had succeeded in reducing the influence of those Russian officials who enjoyed Lukashenko's sharp-edged rhetoric, replacing them with a new cadre of pragmatic strategists who had little desire to keep a significant "Lukashenko" line item on the accounts payable portion of the Russian budget. The Russians steadily cut back on subsidies: As of Jan. 1, natural gas prices were forcibly doubled (with more price increases in the works), and Belarus was stripped of its rights to cut-rate oil.

Moscow's threats to Minsk gave way to unilateral Belarusian tariff increases on Russian exports, and from thence to siphoning of oil exports and a Russian cutoff, announced Jan. 8. With that, Lukashenko's career as the world's best-paid cheerleader came to an unceremonious end.

From the standpoint of the West, however, Lukashenko is no Ukraine: No one is all that concerned about his fate. Make no mistake, Russia's decision to end energy subsidies for Belarus means that the loyalties of this decently developed state perched on the edge of Europe are indeed in play. In fact, should there be a political opening in Minsk, Belarus would be a slam-dunk destination for foreign investment and could even squeeze itself onto the short list of candidates for EU membership. However, 12 years of Lukashenko haranguing the West has taken a toll. If the Belarusian leader now wishes to plot a course away from Russia, he will be starting at square one.

Crisis Averted?

As to the current imbroglio, the Russians have used their many levers of influence to badger Lukashenko into backing away from a trade war. The Belarusian transit tariff that led the Russians to halt their oil exports to Europe was cancelled Jan. 10, with the Russians recommencing exports within a few hours. But, with the political loyalties of Belarus in play, there is certainly no guarantee that disruptions will not recur -- and that is of no small consequence.

The Soviet-era oil pipeline that carries Russian crude to Europe is the Druzhba (which, ironically in the context of Belarus, translates as "friendship"). At full capacity, the line carries 2.0 million barrels per day to Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Germany and, of course, Belarus.

Shutting down that pipeline, even for a short time, presents the Russians with an atypical problem. Russia produces about 9.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and gas condensates -- a number that has not changed appreciably in the past four years because the state has not invested in additional export routes. Overflow production -- what the pipes cannot handle under normal conditions -- typically is shipped by more expensive rail and river barge networks; but, as this is winter, Russia's rivers are frozen over and the river barge option is temporarily off the table.

Though Russian refineries might be able to take some of the surplus, most of that oil -- at least 1.0 million bpd -- has literally nowhere to go so long as the Druzhba pipeline is suspended. On Jan. 9, Putin directed the government to consult with Russia's oil magnates (some of whom were in the room with him at the time, due to Russia's ongoing efforts to nationalize its energy industry) and explore the possibility of a production cut.

That would be problematic anywhere, but even more so in Russia, where energy reserves are located in regions of extreme cold. When production is halted, starting Russian oil wells back up is neither cheap nor easy; many of the wells will actually freeze solid and will have to be redrilled before production resumes. Under these circumstances, it could take the Russians as long as a year to bring output back to pre-crisis levels.

At this point, an output reduction appears unlikely, since Belarus is in the process of caving to Russian demands -- but there is a larger political question to be considered. Lukashenko has been humiliated and now must do some political math. His options are to kowtow meekly to Moscow, bereft of those once-generous subsidies, and mark time until he loses power -- or attempt to use what energy leverage he has over Russia to make a friend in Brussels and/or Washington. For Lukashenko -- who has demonstrated that his loyalty is for sale -- the options are wide and the consequences are unpredictable.

An Agenda Downstream

With oil deliveries to five European states already having been suspended for three days, the Belarus-Russian spat obviously has implications far beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union.

As could be expected, the mood in Europe has been one of angered panic. Though oil -- which enjoys a robust spot market and can be shipped easily by tanker -- is easier to scrape together in a pinch than natural gas, it is hardly a snap to replace the Druzhba supplies. European leaders have been outspoken, issuing sound bites peppered with phrases like "destroyed trust," "unreliable," "urgent need to diversify" and "unnecessarily vulnerable." The Europeans were particularly put out that the Russians did not send so much as a notification memo that roughly 2 million bpd of crude deliveries were about to be halted.

In sum, political leaders throughout Europe were soundly in agreement on the issue.

This does not happen often.

Throughout its history, continental Europe has been driven by ideological, religious, cultural, geographic and economic divisions. After the Cold War ended, the Europeans attempted to put those differences aside and work toward not just an economic union but also a political one. But the fiction that these diverse states could act in concert on much beyond trade issues largely was ended by their differences over the Iraq war -- including the decision of many to support the U.S. invasion -- and the failure of the EU constitution. This fracture has sapped much of the enthusiasm for the European Union as a concept and is a contributing factor in deepening "enlargement fatigue."

The Belarus issue, however, provides the Europeans with a stellar opportunity. Energy -- Russian energy, in particular -- is a hot-button issue on which the EU states already share similar views. All that remains now is for some enterprising leader to turn those views into a set of policies that can bind Europe together.

The question, of course, is: who?

Considering the domestic situation for most of the traditional European powers (Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has been reduced to attaching confidence votes to legislation simply to force his unwieldy coalition to vote for his policies, and the French and British heads of state are both slated to leave office in a matter of months), there is really only one political heavyweight available: German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Throw in the fact that Germany holds the EU presidency until July 1 and the G-8 chairmanship until the year's end, and it is a foregone conclusion that she is the only leader who can make a serious attempt at forging a new sense of unity.

It has been a long time since the Germans were a serious political player in Europe. The European mantra after World War II was not much more complicated than, "Use the French-led EU to keep the Germans boxed up economically and the American-led NATO to keep them down militarily." During his tenure, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder managed to open a crack in these long-held convictions, but ultimately he did not challenge the idea that European interests would automatically equate to German interests.

Merkel, however, does. For the first time since the Third Reich, Germany has a leader who wants -- and who even, in some ways, is expected by European neighbors -- to stake out a leadership position for the entire continent. And now the Belarus-Russian spat has handed her an issue she can use to make that stick.

The longer-term implications of this are critical. While the Bush administration is a huge fan of "Angie," the United States historically has been wary of German power. The core tenet of U.S. strategic doctrine is to block the rise of any state that potentially could exert control over an entire continent. For all practical purposes, the United States is the only major power that falls into that category, and so long as a rival does not emerge, its hegemonic position is secure.

This is one of the reasons U.S. relations with the European Union as a whole have never been more than lukewarm -- and those with Russia, in truth, have never been more than coolly polite. Both entities retain the potential to become such a continent-spanning rival. And as European history illustrates, whenever the Germans have ended up on top in Europe, the Americans have marched to war.

To be sure, Merkel has plenty of obstacles to overcome if she intends to prove she is the woman to lead Europe as something more than a figurehead:

Germans might like the idea of being back in the game, but that does not mean Merkel enjoys full support at home for the details of what she will need to do. Any EU-wide energy program doubtless will involve at least a re-examination of nuclear power -- which is a point of contention within Merkel's own governing coalition. If she is not able to muscle the center-left Social Democrats into line, new elections likely will result. And even if Merkel were to come out ahead in those polls, her ability to act as a coherent arbiter of European issues would stall during the foregoing campaign.

There is an issue of balance in energy supplies. Most of the roughly 6 million bpd of oil and oil products exported by Russia end up in Europe, and nearly half of Europe's natural gas imports come from Russia as well. Reducing those dependencies will necessitate a wrenching political and economic shift among European states. Tens of billions of dollars in new pipeline infrastructure to places such as Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Algeria and Nigeria would be needed -- not exactly a Who's Who of desirable partners in politically correct Europe.

Merkel's existing plans also could hamper her ability to capitalize on the opportunity afforded by Belarus. Before the Russian oil cutoff, she outlined a dozen major issues she planned to address during her EU presidency -- all of them time-consuming and controversial. The sheer size of her agenda, and pledges of attention to the failed EU constitution, have placed her at risk of squandering her leadership opportunity by biting off more than she can chew.

That said, there is now an issue that poses a clear and immediate danger to the union, involving a matter on which member states already share common views. All that remains is for Merkel, as EU president, to set aside her existing to-do list and translate those agreements into a common policy. And this seems to be the direction she is leaning.

As she stated on Jan. 9 as the Belarusian crisis deepened, "For us, energy is what coal and steel used to be." This direct reference to the European Coal and Steel Community -- which provided the early glue for the forebears of today's European Union -- is an excellent signal of just how ambitious the chancellor is.

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By B. Raman

(To be read in continuation of my earlier paper dated November 23, 2006, and titled WAKE-UP CALL FROM WEST BENGAL AND ASSAM available at Click )

In 13 different incidents reported since January 5, 2007, from the districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar and Dhemaji, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) is reported to have mowed down in cold blood about 60 poor workers from Bihar who had gone to Assam to earn their living as milk vendors, workers in brick-kilns etc. These workers---all Hindi speakers--- were allegedly separated from Assamese speaking workers living in the same area and were shot dead at point blank range with hand-held weapons.

2. This is not the first time that the ULFA had indulged in such brutal tactics to intimidate people from other parts of India living in Assam and force them to leave. It had done so in 2000 and 2003 mowing down about 150 Hindi-speaking poor workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

3. The leaders of the ULFA are all Hindus, but speaking the Assamese language. It often tends to be forgotten that in the 1980s they started their movement mainly to drive out the millions of illegal Muslim migrants from Bangladesh. As they became dependent on the intelligence agencies of Bangladesh and Pakistan for money, training, arms and sanctuaries, these agencies intelligently manipulated them to give up their campaign against the illegal Muslim migrants from Bangladesh and turn it instead against the Hindus from other parts of India, who had settled down in Assam in order to earn their living. Many of the Hindu leaders of the ULFA, who enjoy the hospitality of the Bangladeshi intelligence in Bangladeshi territory, have reportedly Muslim mistresses provided to them by the Bangladeshi intelligence.

4. They have now become pure Hindu mercenaries, who are letting themselves be used by the intelligence agencies of two Muslim countries, who are India's ill-wishers---Bangladesh and Pakistan--- in order to fulfill their agenda of making Hindus kill Hindus for no other reason than that they speak different languages and come from different parts of India. The extent to which they have come under the influence of the Bangladeshi intelligence would be evident from the fact that while they target Hindus from other parts of India, force them to pay taxes and kill them, they never target the Bengali-speaking Muslims from Bangladesh.

5. In an editorial on November 9, 2006, the "Sentinel", a daily newspaper published from Guwahati, wrote as follows while commenting on the targeting of Hindi-speaking civilians from other parts of India living and working in Assam:: " Striking terror in the hearts of Hindi-speaking people of Asom is precisely what the jihadi elements of Bangladesh and the ISI (Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence) want for two reasons. In the first place, their identification with India is stronger than many others disillusioned by the Centre's neglect of Asom. Secondly, the Hindi-speaking people control the economy of Asom both as businessmen and as skilled manual workers. The forces inimical to the State want the economic vaccum that has stoked the illegal influx from Bangladesh to be intensified. However, none of this is unexpected. For over two decades, the "Sentinel" has constantly harped on the fact that it does not take long for a silent, unarmed invasion (My comment: of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh) to turn into a violent armed invasion. We are beginning to see this happening. Over the years, the Asom Government and the Centre chose to pay no attention. They are now about to reap as they have sown."

6. I wrote in my previous article cited above: "Many non-governmental organisations have refrained from condemning the ULFA's targeted killings of innocent civilians. Instead, the focus of their campaign has been against the Security Forces. After the two explosions in Guwahati on November 5, 2006, these NGOs remained conspicuously silent on the brutal killing of the civilians, but instead blamed the Government and the security forces for calling off the cessation of operations against the ULFA on September 23, 2006. The cessation had been announced on August 13, 2006, to facilitate peace talks with the ULFA. Since there were indications that the ULFA was exploiting this cessation to step up its fund collection drive through extortions and other activities and did not respond seriously to the Government's offer of peace talks, the cessation was called off. Some of these NGOs had organised a public meeting at Jorhat on November 7, 2006, under the auspices of the People's Committee for Peace Initiatives in Asom. At this meeting, there was hardly any criticism of the brutal murder of the civilians by the ULFA on November 5. Instead, allegations were made that the security forces were committing atrocities against the civilians. Some of the points made by the Hindi-speaking residents of Assam in their letters to the local newspapers are disturbing. One such letter published by the "Assam Tribune" on November 7, 2006, said: "Some people (in the PCG) even acted as co-ordinators in the ULFA dictat that all "Indians" living in Asom must pay tax, an euphemism for extortion. But the same ULFA never utters a word about the millions of Bangladeshis illegally living in Asom in fear of displeasing their foreign masters. In other words, "Indians" living in Asom must pay "tax" or face bullets, but Bangladeshis can stay without any such fear." (Citation ends) PCG stands for People's Consultative Group, a front organisation of the ULFA.

7. Since the ULFA resumed its acts of terrorism in September last year after the collapse of the peace talks, it had stepped up its use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The media in other parts of India failed to highlight the fact that many of these IEDs were planted in areas where Hindi-speaking people live in order to create panic among them. The December 2006 issue of "Swadhinata" (Freedom), an electronic newsletter of the ULFA, had alleged that "outsiders" had set up "mini Bihars", "mini Rajasthans" and "mini Bengals" in different Districts of Assam, and called for their ouster.

8. The present campaign against the poor migrants from Bihar has come in the wake of this. The lack of a will----in Guwahati as well as in New Delhi--- to act firmly against the ULFA and its sponsors in Bangladesh is creating an extremely dangerous situation in Assam.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-Mail:itschen36@gmail.com)

Heroin Seizures in India - 2006

Source : http://indianmavericks.blogspot.com/

As some of you may have noticed, there was a rapid upsurge in heroin seizures in December 2006. As much as 50 Kg of No. 4 grade heroin was seized from couriers by the BSF and the NCB. To put this number in perspective our total heroin seizures annually are about 200 Kg of white powder. So in one month we picked up about a fourth of our annual capture. The market value of these seizures is a couple of million USD. Heroin usually sells for about 1 Cr rupees per Kg.

The packs containing heroin were marked "Marble Ifaq Factory" of the "Meer Marble Agency of Pakistan Afghanistan Limited". "Pakistan Afghanistan Limited" is allegedly owned by one Bashir Pathan (sometimes also referred to as Mori Gul). Additionally a Canadian NRI was arrested with a substantial quantity of heroin in Punjab and two nigerians were arrested in Delhi with about 18 Kg of white powder by Special Cell. This suggests that the heroin was bound for western markets.

As you all know 2006 has been a tumultous year for drug seizures in India. In addition to the huge haul of Cocaine at Nhava Sheva, there was a stunningly large seizure of Mandax in New Delhi. Earlier in 2006 a network running approximately 42 Million USD worth of heroin each year via Sri Lanka was busted. You are also probably aware that India has been put on a US list as a country of concern due to "leakage" of licit Heroin in India on to the illegal market. Some observers have openly opined that India is emerging as the new hub for narcotics transport in the world and there will soon be considerable pressure on India to disrupt.

The news from South America is particularly interesting, rumours suggest that someone close to President Hugo Chavez is tying Venezuela's oil economy to existing Cocaine economies in the region and this has propelled an anti-American shift in the loyalties of South American Cocaine producers and trafficers. Afghanistan does not present a pretty picture either, opiate production is at record levels. Myanmar is also recording staggering rises in Heroin production. Rumour circulating suggest that heroin and cocaine cartels all over the world are overproducing and driving the prices down. Another idea doing rounds is that a powerful Heroin for Cocaine exchange is building up in Nigeria, and it is rapidly connecting the economies of South America, Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

It is difficult to imagine that drug lords will take kindly to a high rate of interception in India. In other transit countries, narcotics groups have routinely funded terrorist acts when faced with regulatory pressure. The objective of such terrorist acts is to discredit the government of the land publicly and to leverage an end to terror in exhange of a reduction in regulation. A combination of growing domestic demand and changing trafficing patterns will create regulatory pressures in India and this is likely to provide incentive to narcoterrorism.

We are heading for a very difficult time in these matters

Q&A mavericks
(1) The major sources and destinations along with the routes taken between them.
There are two major sources for heroin - burma and Afghanistan-Pakistan. This is where the bulk of the refineries are. The Burmese heroin goes mostly to China. Pak-Afghan heroin comes to India via Punjab, Nepal and the sea. Cocaine is most from South America. It reaches India in "various" ways.

(2) The major players involved in manufacturing at the sources, transport along the routes and distribution at the destination.
No comment
(3) How the narcotics trade interfaces with other interests of the aforementioned players.

Narcotics trade generates revenue , staggering amounts of it. This money has to be invested otherwise it becomes useless. A currency exchange like the BMPE is needed to manipulate the liquidity and a network like Hawala is needed to move the funds around. Whoever can dip his/her hand into the golden pot gets money for whatever they want to do.

(4) The various governments involved in the narcotics trade via their intelligence agencies and their means and reasons for doing so.
Pakistani government allegedly uses Heroin as a currency reserve, much the same way India uses gold. The pricing control structure on the heroin transit trade gives the Pakistanis a huge amount of revenue which some estimate to be equal to the size of the white economy of Pakistan some ~ 40 Bn dollars. That is enough of a motivation for anyone. Means, as many as the mind can create. For a while Pakistani Airforce jets were being used to fly heroin directly into the US. One rumor has it that Gen. Zia ul Haq flew several tons of white powder heroin into the US on a PIA flight.

January 10, 2007

Christian hand behind the California school textbooks issue

Jeniffer Arul is the go between NDTV and the US-based Christian organizations. She is a conduit for the Methodists to set up network in India. Hence her meteoric rise in NDTV. In turn, through the neocon Christian fronts, she is enabling bandwidth space and telecast times for NDTV in their proposed US foray. As you might be aware, the bandwidth in the radio and TV network is limited, and virtually all of them are owned by the Christian right in a consolidation march that started in 1968.

Witzel is likely part of the larger network that involves US Christian right, and the India media salivating for a foray into the US. N.Ram (with his Indian Christian wife - hence the CBCI connection), J.Arul etc are the main focal points that connect the Indian media to the American. Indologists, Social Studies academics, and journalists do the bidding of the Christian right in the hope of getting rewards in return. Just look up how many anti-Hindu sites the Hindustan Lever advertises in, and you will get the picture. These diktats are handed top down. For example, Clinton proposed to a Japanese CEO to extend corporate charity to a set of Christian organizations based in India. It was promptly followed.

We strongly doubt Witzel was given a quicky tenure because he promised to bring funds into Harvard. No matter what, Harvard guys know their finance, and they would not have believed that Witzel can tap into the source of funds. Quite likely, there is a strong Protestant connection.

Many scholars, including Z. Thundy, M. Baigent, H. Kersten etc have shown that research criticizing Christianity or weakening the faith has effectively dried up in the US campuses. Campuses have been cleansed of professors that dare to speak the truth. A few like J. Tabor or B. Ehrman are being systematically targeted by the right wing, and with a fair amount of success.

Protestants work on two fronts. One front ensures sympathetic Christians research on Christianity and take up tenure. The other front cultivates a group that will help deconstruct other religions, particularly Hinduism. Those leading this crusade need not be believing Christians so long as the turn a blind eye to Christian indoctrination and continue to tarnish Hinduism. This is why every Hindu temple in the US had to face prolonged law suits before getting license to construct. As a Southern Baptist office bearer told matter of fact, "So long as we have one temple for the Devil instead of four, we win." Hindu temples incur 350% cost over run on law suits. This bigger picture is not to be missed.

Witzel belongs to the second group. He has endorsed all biblical myths taught as fiction in CA textbooks. He even justified they were balanced and accurate. That is claims like "Moses saw the bush burning, and heard the voice of God, in 1192 BCE." Most importantly, he and his groups strengthen the soldiers of Christ by singling Hinduism out for attack.

Is there a Christian angle to the recent charges against the Kanchi seer Mutt?

Yes. Just look at the landscape. There have been simultaneous attacks on virtually every Hindu temple and mutt: Kanchi, Sabarimala, Tirupati, Puri etc. In the attack on Puri, an American Hare Krishna, possibly an implant (I know this person well, we have hosted him, and I was shocked to even consider the possibility that he could be an implant), was simultaneously covered by seven TV channels like NDTV, IBN-CNN etc. This requires systematic coordination. A mere Hare
Krishna living in rural Orissa cannot achieve it.

The church has keenly studied the Hindus. They know, except the Sangh, others are merely push overs. Only the Sangh outfits have the potential to counter physical threat. This is why they have been systematically working on drying up funding for the Sangh, while simultaneously launching a final crackdown against Hinduism.

Remember, Korea was effectively Christianized in a decade or so. That is what they are hoping with India now. In all states earmarked, entire families (50-60) of MLA/MP have been resettled in the USA, loans given for businesses, and green cards handed over. This process started rather early, first with Punjab. Effectively, political parties, including BJP, have been bought out. The only remaining force is the Sangh outfits.

Look at the investment made in real estate by the church all over in the last decade. Now, when you consider the bigger picture, you can place the attack on Pejawar in perspective.

How to counter this , here is what a Jewish Rabbi told to me " There is only one way to counter this: do unto them what others have done unto you. Indian politicians should be instigated to Nationalize Churches as they did to your temples. This gives the your corrupt Politicians a good chance to loot billions of US dollars . This will effectively dry up US and German church funding, and destroy church in India."

January 08, 2007

Prof Khwaja Masud on the state of Pakistan

What then must we do?
By Prof Khwaja Masud
The News, January 8, 2007

Iqbal, in his letter to Dr Ghulam Sayyidain, dated 21st June, 1936, wrote: “I suppose you are aware of the educational implications of Leibniz’s monadism. According to him, the monad (the mind of man) is a closed mind incapable of absorbing external forces. My view is that monad is essentially assimilative in its nature. Time is a great blessing. ‘Don’t blame time, time is God’, goes a saying of our Prophet (PBUH). While it kills and destroys, it also expands end brings out the hidden possibilities of things. The possibility of change is the greatest asset of man in his present surroundings.”

Iqbal has answered the question that we have raised, yet when we look around, we face the harsh and stark reality of the deep and bitter schism in our society. This schism is born of the crisis of confidence that haunts every nook and corner of our country.

The crisis of confidence cannot be resolved by wishful thinking, platitudinous statements and tearful prayers. The role of leadership is crucial. Only a leadership which is propelled by commitment and dedication can transform the agonies of our long-suffering country into personal responsibilities.

A sense of common desperation has driven the people to the imperatives of new politics. Gone are the days of Machiavellian politics, history demands new policy of openness and transparency, tolerance and goodwill, compassion and forgiveness.

Unfortunately leaders cling to the concepts and ideas of the era which has since passed away. As Einstein has so well put it, “After the explosion of the atom bomb, everything has changed except thinking of man.”

Here, in our country, our leadership has failed to respond to the challenge posed by history. Both the sense of estrangement and the sense of exclusion have been reinforced by the changes accumulating and intensifying in our society. The velocity of change has never been greater and the momentum of sociological change never faster. As Robert MacNamara writes in his book The Essence of Security: “No age had a thornier bond with relevancy than our own. More changes have been wrought in two decades than in the entire history of mankind.” He made a strong plea for leadership that can command the dynamics of the calculus of relevancy.

Andre Malraux endorsed him, saying: “We are confronted with the greatest revolution history has known. The face of the world and its problems have been transformed in a single generation.”

The velocity of history and the concomitant explosion of knowledge can be gauged from the fact that whereas a third century BC Athenian scholar, a fourth century Byzantine philosopher, a ninth century Baghdad scientist and a fourteenth century Italian scholar in Bologna could carry on a discourse and understand one another, nowadays it is different for a scholar to keep pace with exponentially increasing knowledge in his own subject, much less understand what is going on in other subjects.

The impact of historical acceleration has been most devastating on those countries whose leadership is neither resilient nor adaptive. Thus the fast velocity of history and soaring aspirations of the people come into direct clash with glacial institutions and lack-lustre leadership devoid of wisdom, vision and empathy.

Two historic forces are operating simultaneously in the world: the centripetal forces shrinking the world into a global village, where everything is transparent and interacting and the electronic highway is demolishing all geographical and ideological frontiers ruthlessly; and, the centrifugal forces which are splitting apart countries and societies, confirming the Yeatsian dictum: things fall apart, the centre does not hold.

We are caught in the whirlpool of these centrifugal and centripetal forces. The crisis of confidence has led to the crisis of identity and an all-pervading anomie i.e. the lack of moral standards.

Ill-gotten money through evasion of taxes, black-marketing, smuggling, heroin-production and ubiquitous corruption have corroded the moral fibre of all strata of society. These who been denied the benefit of the bonanza, suffer from an acute sense of frustration, cynicism, and anarchism. While the bonanza confirms the estranged groups in their estrangement, it holds out to the excluded groups tantalising images of affluence which is nothing more than a mirage. These marginalised groups are becoming ever more importunate, as they are crushed under the burden of the ever-rising spiral of inflation.

In this context, history is nothing if it is not prise de conscience (the torturing and tortuous process of self-awareness). We must learn from history, otherwise we are bound to repeat it.

We have still to disentangle ourselves from the straitjacket of medievalism, intolerance, fanaticism, dogmatism, traditionalism and conformism. The end of colonialism has not brought about the end of colonial attitudes and mores. The feudalists, the tribal chiefs, and the nouveau riche are ruling the roost. Their values of vulgar ostentatiousness, philistinism, opportunism and hypocrisy dominate social values.

The Muslim world has known but one revolution — the revolution for national liberation to throw off the yoke of imperialism. The logic of history demands that it must be accompanied by social emancipation to break the shackles of absolutism and feudalism. We must bring about a cultural renaissance by casting off feudal norms and traditions. The cultural renaissance must be accompanied by reformation to break the stranglehold of medieval priests.

We are living in a period of transition. Human life is reduced to real suffering when two ages overlap. As Shelley says in Prometheus Unbound, “To hope till hope creates from its own wreck the thing that it contemplates.” Let us always remember: Ideals do not die. Dreams do not fade. Values are eternal.

The writer is a former principal of Gordon College, Rawalpindi. Email: khmasud22@yahoo.com

January 07, 2007



Recent developments suggest that academic Indology may be in danger of becoming irrelevant.

N.S. Rajaram

Within the past year, the Sanskrit Department at Cambridge University and the Berlin Institute of Indology, two of the oldest and most prestigious Indology centers in the West have shut their doors. The reason cited is lack of interest. At Cambridge , not a single student had enrolled this year for its Sanskrit or Hindi course. Other universities in Europe and America are facing similar problems. The Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium , long a leader in Oriental Studies, is drastically cutting down its programs.

Coming at a time when worldwide interest in India is the highest in memory, it points to structural problems in Indology and related fields like Indo-European Studies. Also, the scale of the problem suggests that the problems are fundamental and just not a transient phenomenon. What is striking is the contrast between this gloomy academic scene and the outside world. During my lecture tours in Europe, Australia and the United States , I found no lack of interest, especially among the youth. Only they are getting what they want from programs outside academic departments, in cultural centers like the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, temples and short courses and seminars conducted by visiting lecturers (like this writer).

This means the demand is there, but academic departments are being bypassed. Even for Sanskrit, there are now innovative programs like those offered by Samskrita Bharati that teach in ten intensive yet lively sessions more than what students learn in a semester of dry lectures. The same is true of other topics related to India — history, yoga, philosophy and others. And this interest is by no means limited to persons of Indian origin. What has gone wrong with academic Indology, and what is to be done?

To understand the problem today it is necessary to visit its peculiar origins. Indology began with Sir William Jones’s observation in 1784 that Sanskrit and European languages were related. Jones was a capable linguist but he was also responsible for interpreting Indian law and customs to his employers, the British East India Company. This dual role of Indologists as scholars as well as interpreters of India continued well into the twentieth century. Many Indologists, including such eminent figures as H.H. Wilson and F. Max Müller enjoyed the support and sponsorship of the ruling powers.

Indologists’ role as interpreters of India ended with independence in 1947, but many Indologists, especially in the West failed to see it. They continued to get students from India , which seems to have lulled them into believing that it would be business as usual. But today, six decades later, Indian immigrants and persons of Indian origin occupy influential positions in business, industry and now the government in the United States and Britain . They are now part of the establishment in their adopted lands. No one in the West today looks to Indology departments for advice on matters relating to India when they can get it from their next door neighbor or an office colleague.

This means the Indologists’ position as interpreters of India to the West, and sometimes even to Indians, is gone for good. But this alone cannot explain why their Sanskrit and related programs are also folding. To understand this we need to look further and recognize that new scientific discoveries are impacting Indology in ways that could not be imagined even twenty years ago. This is nothing new. For more than fifty years, the foundation of Indology had been linguistics, particularly Sanskrit and Indo-European languages. Archaeological discoveries of the Harappan civilization forced Indologists to take this hard data also into their discipline.

Today, there is a similar revolution in the offing, brought on by discoveries in natural history and population genetics based on DNA analysis. Natural history tells us that we need to take into account sea level changes at the end of the last Ice Age. This led to major developments in land based civilizations when coastal populations were forced to move to the interior. Genetics has also thrown up surprises like the close kinship between Indian and Southeast Asian populations as well as their flora and fauna.

These are exciting developments that scholars can ill afford to ignore. The questions though go beyond Indology. Sanskrit is the foundation of Indo-European Studies. If Sanskrit departments close, what will take its place? Will these departments now teach Icelandic, Old Norse or reconstructed Proto Indo-European? Will they attract students? Can Indo-European Studies survive without Sanskrit? These are questions that Indologists and fellow scholars must now face.