August 04, 2007

Information society, Globalization and The new society paradigm



Information society, Globalization and The new society paradigm

Philippe CLERC
Assemblée des Chambres Françaises de Commerce et d’Industrie
Economic Intelligence, innovation & IT director

Association Française pour le développement de l’intelligence économique
Chairman

Competitive Intelligence Worldwide

JAKARTA, 23 et 24 juin 2004

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The French Way to Globalization through Business Intelligence: public-private Strategies

Philippe CLERC
Assembly of the French Chambers of Commerce and Industries
French Association for The Development of Economic Intelligence
China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong
Shanghai, May 29th, 2007

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Divisions that lie between Sunni and Shia Muslims

This week we look in depth at the divisions that lie between Sunni and Shia Muslims

Foreign Exchange TV , Interview with Vali Nasar

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THE FORGOTTEN ACCORD AND THE UNWANTED WAR

By Col R Hariharan (Retd.)



[Excerpts from this article were included in a presentation made by the author at a symposium 'Twentieth anniversary of Indo-Sri Lanka Accord' organised by the South Asia Peace Institute at Colombo on August 2, 2007.]



The year 2007 has three milestones in Sri Lanka's political history – 50th year of the Banda-Chelva pact, 30th year of founding of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and 20th year of Indo-Sri Lanka Accord. They mark the sequential development of an unattended national issue. Undoubtedly, the most significant of them was the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, signed between Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President JR Jayawardane on July 29, 1987.



The Indian Peace Keeping Force was inducted into Sri Lanka in 1987 with a lot of goodwill to help the implementation of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord. However, their good intentions were not enough when political directions morphed their role from peace keeping to counterinsurgency warfare. Thus the acronym IPKF ended up as a kind of oxymoron after it got embroiled in a bloody war with the LTTE.



The history of IPKF, written in blood, is intertwined with the story of how both India and Sri Lanka mismanaged a golden opportunity the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord offered to usher in peace to Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, during the last two decades both the countries appear to have wished away the Accord and the hard lessons it taught them. For this amnesia Sri Lanka is paying heavily, leaving at least 64,000 people dead since the IPKF sailed off for good from Khoddiyar Bay in 1990. And the benign Indian neighbour watches the situation with seeming indifference.



The signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord was the apogee of India's active involvement in Sri Lanka from 1983 to 90. In this period India tried out all possibilities - supporting the Tamil cause and militancy, helping the Sri Lanka Government and the Tamils across the table to resolve their differences, jointly work with Sri Lanka to help evolve a consensus on devolution for Tamils within a united Sri Lanka, and lastly underwrite an acceptable minimum package for Tamils in Sri Lanka through the signing of the Accord. During these swings of policy, at different times India had courted the antagonism of Sri Lanka Government, Sinhala political opposition, and Tamil separatist segments, notably the LTTE.



So the perceptions of India's role, and as a corollary the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, differ widely. There were a few weaknesses in the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord that made it self defeating. Yet, it opened a new chapter in India Sri Lanka relations with cooperation rather than confrontation as the corner stone of their policy. After 20 years, India's role is better appreciated now by most of the Sri Lankans than in 1987 only because the IPKF men fought and died to uphold the Accord in a country that was not their own. This recognition is a small, but fitting tribute to 1255 Indian soldiers who died in Sri Lankan soil.



Was the IPKF a success? Indian troops operation which started off as a conventional one in 1987 quickly changed into a full fledged counter insurgency operation. In such an environment, how do you measure success? The popular perception of success in wars is in terms of territorial gains and body counts. In insurgency wars these yardsticks are flawed, because the battles are for the mind of the people.If territorial gain and body counts were the only the yardsticks of victory, Americans would be considered victorious in Iraq. However even on this scale the IPKF proved itself. By August 1988 it had LTTE seeking the refuge of Wanni jungles to save itself from the onslaught of IPKF. Within a year after IPKF completed Operation Checkmate-I (Battle of Nithikaikulam) in August 1988, it had restored normal life to the people of northeast. The IPKF, despite some aberrations and limitations imposed by political dispensations, gave them a feeling of security and gained their trust; both of these are absent there to this day. People of Colombo revelled without a conscious thought of the war in the northeast had their good night sleep!



The Accord did fail to fully provide the much vaunted equal rights for Tamils it promised. Though the IPKF reduced LTTE to a spent force, IPKF's ill timed exit before the administration could consolidate itself in the northeast ensured the resurgence of LTTE. So the Accord did not deliver fully. The reason for this was simple; political expediency took over both the countries and warped the goals of the Accord. As a result Sri Lanka did not put its heart and soul in making the Accord a success. India fared no better, with its political priorities clouding its responsibilities in Sri Lanka following a change of rulers in the South Block.



Today with the benefit of hindsight, it would be worthwhile to understand what the half hearted implementation of the Accord, particularly the use of Indian troops in support of the Accord, taught us. These are timely because war hysteria is riding high in Sri Lanka and India is repeatedly called upon to intervene again in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka setting is in a bizarre setting of 'peace-less peace process', with Eelam War IV riding on the shoulders of a desecrated ceasefire agreement. And political expedience is very much alive in both countries.



The Accord



Both India and Sri Lanka implemented the Accord with many compromises giving in to the pulls and pushes of internal political compulsions. These made them forget three cardinal requirements - openness, transparency and inclusiveness –for any public policy to succeed. These were markedly absent in both India and Sri Lanka from the conception to execution of the Accord.



The Accord was conceived to bridge the huge ethnic divide between Tamils and Sinhala communities. However, lack of transparency aggravated the atmosphere of suspicion and distrust about India's intentions among many Sinhalas because earlier India had given refuge and provided training to Tamil militants. In the Accord, India had laid great emphasis on its regional security interests in Sri Lanka along with its concerns for finding an equitable solution to the Tamil issue. Thus many Sri Lankans including the LTTE saw arrival of Indian troops in Sri Lanka as a coercive move through show of force. While this hurt the national pride of sections of Sri Lankans, it provided an excuse for LTTE to denounce the Accord as an instrument to establish Indian hegemony. .



On the other hand, many Tamils nurtured a deep distrust of the Sri Lanka leadership's commitment to the Accord, based on the past history of Sinhala-Tamil relations strewn with broken promises. Some Tamils had high expectations of India delivering a virtual 'Eelam' just as independent Bangladesh was created in 1971 with the help of Indian armed forces in East Pakistan. They were disappointed when this did not happen. Everyone forgot that they have to work hard to make the Accord reach its logical conclusion of permanent peace.



In this charged atmosphere, the style of working of both Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President JR Jayawardane even within their own political ranks was neither participative nor consensual. This resulted in lack of goal clarity and critical analysis of issues among the politicians and bureaucracy. These were passed on down the line. Rajiv Gandhi's lack of political experience, and his new set of advisors lack of complete understanding the complex Sri Lanka situation did not help the matter. The Indian leadership grossly underestimated Prabhakaran's commitment to the cause of Tamil Eelam and his desire to don the mantle of sole arbiter of Tamils.



According to a recent statement of the Chief of the Research and Analysis Wing of that period AK Verma the Indian Prime Minister had ignored the agency's advice against the use of military force to disarm LTTE. It is clear that India did not use its intelligence agencies to fully explore other options to get the LTTE back to the table before going to the war mode. On their part Indian intelligence agencies also probably overestimated their ability to influence Prabhakaran's thought process (which in any case is a mystery in a conundrum, encapsulated in an enigma). .



On the other hand, Indian leadership also perhaps underestimated JR's political acumen in turning the situation to his advantage. I remember the advice of the late Rajendra Duraiswamy, a retired senior civil servant with years of experience under JR Jayawardane, when I met him Jaffna in August 1987. "Don't under estimate JR," he said. "He is going to have Rajiv, a baby in politics, for breakfast and make you fight the LTTE. He has uncanny ability to spot a weak link and take full advantage of it," he added. At that time it sounded absurd because we never thought it would happen. Unfortunately, Rajendra never lived to see his prophecy come true because he was killed in the early stages of Jaffna operation.



We also failed to read the signals in Prabhakaran's speech at Suthumalai on his unhappiness about the formulation of the Accord, particularly regarding the limited devolution and the recognition of other Tamil militant groups. Looking back, LTTE was probably looking for reasons to go to war regardless of India's promises. And excuses for that were coming up fast – Thileepan's fast unto death, suicide of 12 senior LTTE leaders apprehended with arms by Sri Lankan Navy, and so on. I remember the chilling remark Mahathiya, the number two man in the LTTE hierarchy, when he came to collect the dead bodies of 12 of his comrades after they had committed suicide while in Sri Lankan custody. When I told him of the need for reconciliation because India was capable of waging a war for 50 years, he looked at me with contempt. He told his aide "tell the colonel that today we are collecting 12 bodies and he will collect 1200 of Indian bodies before he leaves." (He was right in a way. We suffered 1255 dead before we left Sri Lanka. However, he could not prophecy his shown future as subsequent events proved.)



When democratic societies wage counterinsurgency war, the military strategies will have to be progressed in tandem with a matching political strategy. This requires strong leadership commitment to a vision. This was not there in Sri Lanka and the political opposition, particularly the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) used the stress generated by war in the society to their advantage. The JVP stoked the "revolutionary fires" of opposition to the Accord and created an internal crisis in Sri Lanka. Prime Minister Premadasa, dead set against the Accord, leveraged the same feelings to win the Presidential poll. In India the political opposition played the same game. The new Prime Minister VP Singh's priorities were different. He had neither time nor inclination to tackle Sri Lanka. And thus both the leaders 'killed' the Accord at the altar of political expediency with more deliberation, than it was executed by its creators.



LTTE was clearly a gainer in this 'democratic exercise'. The change of leadership in midstream in both countries made it difficult for the IPKF to meaningfully operate in the absence of a clear political agenda. And LTTE took full advantage of President Premadasa's antipathy to the Indian dispensation that made him to supply arms to LTTE even as India was fighting his war with LTTE! This was not a new phenomenon. LTTE had used Indian public sentiments after 1983 to gain arms and funds from India, but did not hesitate to fight India to preserve its turf. So it was not surprising when it turned against Premadasa after using him to its advantage. What is not amusing is that the LTTE has continued to use 'democratic political aberrations' in Sri Lanka and India to its advantage to this day.



The Indo-Sri Lanka Accord clearly redefined India's role:

1. As the largest power in South Asia, India has a role in ensuring stability and security of the region. India would like to play this role in partnership with Sri Lanka.

2. The two countries can evolve formulations to achieve a win-win situation. In handling complex issues. However, there were limitations of enforcing such formulations evolved without political consensus.

3. While India sympathises with the Tamil struggle for equal rights, it will not accept separatism in Sri Lanka. On its part as a united and democratic nation Sri Lanka has to treat its Tamil citizens equitably to ensure stability in the neighbourhood. If necessary, India will not hesitate to use its armed forces to help achieve these objectives.

4. India felt the Accord provided a workable framework for Tamils to gain a measure of autonomy. However, the failure of successive Sri Lanka governments to implement the Accord, showed a lack of faith in the Accord. Thus it will now be for Sri Lanka to evolve its own methodology to resolve the problem peacefully. India will always be ready to assist this process.

5. India has a large Tamil population with strong political and economic clout in the national scene. As they have living links with Sri Lanka Tamils, the political and military shocks of Sri Lanka situation will echo in Tamil Nadu. And to certain extent it will condition Indian attitudes towards Sri Lanka. This is inevitable in democratic polity, and has to be factored in building relations between the two countries. It is in the national interest of both the countries not to allow parochial considerations to overtake rational judgement.



Conduct of military operations



Indian army is perhaps the only force in the world that had been involved in fighting insurgents for nearly six decades. Yet immediately after the Accord was signed, the Army Headquarters had sent a hastily constituted ad-hoc force to Sri Lanka, rather than its reserve formation. This showed that it had anticipated a policing function rather than full scale military operation in Sri Lanka. So when the war against LTTE was launched, troops were hastily pulled out from various formations and put into battle with little or no briefing. This was the reason for Indian troop's high casualties in Jaffna operations. This it is grossly unfair to label their intent as 'aggressive.' Of course, this was perhaps a flaw in military planning as the political agenda was murky.



When the Army made up its mind for a quick 'surgical operation' it seemed to have ignored its own vast experience in handling insurgencies. Before the operation commenced, the commander of Indian forces (IPKF had not come into full form at that time) had advised against getting embroiled in fighting LTTE. Before the operation, in my MI assessment I had estimated a three-year campaign to reduce LTTE to manageable proportion. (Actually, we did better.) Apparently, the Army had already made up its mind to launch the operation to look at these assessments.



However, the IPKF initiated a number of visible developments to show its concern for the ordinary citizen. The telephone exchange was once again buzzing in Jaffna. Power supply was stabilized with serviceable generators. There was a breakthrough in restoring train services and the Yaul Express was once again running from Jaffna to Colombo. Electric supply was restored in full. Many buildings were repaired or reconstructed. An interface to attend to grievance of the population was created though they did not directly fall within the IPKF ambit. These measures helped us in getting along smoothly.



There were a few human rights violations which I felt needed better attention and follow up action. Unfortunately, at that point of time human rights was not a priority on the military agenda. There is no agency within the army solely tasked to address this important issue. Unless there was an operational or disciplinary impact, generally armies the world over do not pay adequate attention to human rights violations. That is why wars continue to be amoral.



Globally, we have reached a higher level of human rights consciousness than ever before. Therefore armies need to do more than pay lip service to human rights and humanitarian issues during operations. It is not enough if troops are put through training sessions on human rights. As most of the troops come from societies where human rights violations are common place and often condoned, it is difficult for them to understand the its importance. Commanders should be exemplary in their own conduct and take transparent action in handling such violations. It is heartening to see Indian army is taking steps to set this right. Some important court-martials have been thrown open to the public to create greater confidence in military justice system. Such actions will also result in greater accountability down the line and tone up discipline within the armed forces. Summary powers given to security forces over large areas for long periods under special enactments are often misused. There is no doubt these are needed in combating violent insurgency; but they need to be applied with accountability in specific areas for a specific period to avoid their misuse. This is an important aspect very relevant to Sri Lanka now.



Takeaways



Both India and Sri Lanka have sidelined the Accord, and the political and international security environment in the region has changed. Considering these realities, it will not be practical to reactivate the Accord in its original form. However, the Accord had provided three points of concurrence between the stakeholders: providing an equitable devolution of power to Tamils within a united Sri Lanka, India's continuing support in finding such a solution through a peaceful process, and recognition of northeast province as an area of traditional inhabitation of Tamils. These assets accrued after considerable effort should not be sacrificed for short term political gain.



The Accord and its aftermath have created better understanding of the Tamil issue among Sri Lankans, particularly Sinhalas more than ever before. There is a strong constituency in Sri Lankan who would like the issue to be settled peacefully. They should be encouraged rather than looked upon with suspicion to build a national consensus and vision for a united Sir Lanka where citizen feels he has a stake. The policies and actions of government need to reflect its concern for creating security and trust in the government. To achieve this, quality of governance including law and order, security of life and property must be ensured through rule of law.



Structuring the decision making process and governance thorough transparency, inclusiveness and public participation rather than horse trading and backroom politicking at all levels should be encouraged.



Time bound action should be taken to finalise a devolution formulation that is acceptable to most of the political constituencies. In the meanwhile development projects should be taken up in north and east to show visible results of peace.



Ensure greater accountability among law enforcing and security agencies and re-establish rule of law. Take visible action to improve human rights and handle humanitarian issues with sympathy, compassion and consideration.



The political process to bring the Tamils to support peace has to go in tandem. There is a great deal of global support and sympathy for Sri Lanka and its problem. This is manifest in the increasing pressure they are bring upon LTTE to make it more profitable for them to talk peace than progress war. Sri Lanka should not take their goodwill for granted because they would like Sri Lanka to conduct itself in an exemplary way in issues related to good governance and human rights.



India has clearly shown it stands for a united Sri Lanka. However, its actions will always be conditioned by its national interests. So both Sri Lanka and India will have to ensure that their policy perceptions and actions foster greater bonds between the two countries and help Sri Lanka achieve stability and peace. Sri Lanka should understand that with India's foreign policy horizon widening as it gains more economic clout, there are limitations to its intervention in Sri Lanka.



Sri Lanka has shown it can handle LTTE militarily on its own terms. Military effort alone is not going to defeat the ideas that LTTE represents, even if it produces operational victories. However, the political process so essential to consolidate the military gains in tandem is still a non-starter. This is linked to evolving a political consensus which would probably never fully meet the aspirations any one section of society. However, time is an irreplaceable resource and if Sri Lanka dithers any further more lives will be lost. Already nearly 10 percent of the population is living as refugees in their own country and it will hurt the nation if more are added to their ranks because of inaction.



(Col. R Hariharan, an intelligence specialist on South Asia, is a retired Military Intelligence officer. He served as the head of intelligence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka 1987-90. E-mail: colhari@yahoo.com )

The big plot to denigrate India : FIRST TIME AN INDIAN REBUTTAL TO WESTERN BIAS

http://www.organiser.org/

FIRST TIME AN INDIAN REBUTTAL TO WESTERN BIAS
By R. Balashankar

Can perversity get lower than this? In the name of religious studies, a syndicate of scholars in America is spewing muck on Hinduism.

Religions In South Asia (RISA), a department under the American Academy of Religion (AAR), has been sponsoring studies for years now to deride Hinduism. Our gods and goddesses like Ganesha, Shiva, Parvati, Laxmi and Kali, our rituals like Upanayana our saints like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and scriptures, Mahabharata, Ramayana and Gita all have come under such distasteful sexual connotation and nauseating voyeurism that one begins to wonder if it can at all be called academics.

And for the first time ever, the Hindus are replying them in an organised, cohesive manner. A recently published book Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America has documented the Hindu response to this academic distortion. Edited by Dr. Krishnan Ramaswamy, a scientist, Dr. Antonio T. de Nicolas, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York, Stony Brook and Aditi Banerjee, a practicing attorney in New York, the book opens our eyes to the way the western mind perceives us.

The book exposes how and why the image of India as a culture of series of abuses like sati, dowry, caste conflicts and worship of grotesque deities has persisted. This is not the result of mere personal prejudices but is the result of a sustained, well-entrenched institutional mechanism. “Starting in well-respected, ostensibly ‘research based’ but culturally parochial halls of American and western academe, these images filter down into mainstream western culture where they acquire an incredible force in shaping how India is seen.” (p 2, Why this book is important).

While the American business schools view India as a nation throbbing with creativity, the academia views it as chaotic, backward looking and negative. Organiser cannot and will not repeat what the American scholars on Hinduism have said for which they received Ph.Ds and awards because they are lewd, below the dignity of any self-respecting Hindu to read.

In this scheme of the westerners, the Indian scholars are carefully recruited into, in the lure of foreign scholarships, degrees and placements. The Indians into the club are chosen carefully. They are the traditional looking ones—women in saree and big bindi and men in the traditional dhoti and kurta.

Says Rajiv Malhotra, one of the early persons to respond to this academic fraud, that “while Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Korean, Arabs and even the various European cultures such as Irish, Italian and French have actively funded and managed American academic representation of their cultural identities, Indian-Americans have been largely content with building temples, while their cultural portrayal in the education system and in the media has been abandoned to the tender mercies of the dominant western traditions.’

The book extensively quotes from Malhotra’s RISA Lila-1, Wendy’s Child Syndrome an essay that exposed the games that the Religions In South Asia played under the leadership of Wendy Doniger, a past president of the AAR. She is the leader of the syndicate working on the anti-Hinduism campaign and is now the director of a centre in the University of Chicago and is part of the decision making in several academic bodies. She is influential and an “acknowledged” Sanskrit translator. Her translations are relied upon as the main source by many students of religious studies throughout America.

The studies sponsored by and under her have this to say. Ganesha and Shiva were in a war because of jealousy over Parvati. That Ganesha’s tusk represents a limp penis. That ‘tantra’ is a sexual exercise and Devi is a female with male genital, representing extreme sexuality, that Ramakrishna Paramahansa was a pedophile. We now know where M.F. Hussain got his inspiration from.

An allegedly ‘well-researched’ book on Paramahansa, written by Jeffrey Kripal, who stayed at the Ramakrishna Mutt in Calcutta to research for the book, shook the disciples of the mutt so much that they were stunned to silence initially. A student of Doniger, Kripal won an award for his book from the AAR and the Encyclopaedia Britannica listed it as the best reference on Ramakrishna. Swami Tyagananda of the Mutt then wrote a rebuttal to this book and asked Kripal to annex it in his book, for the sake of academic ethics, but he refused. The normal course in which this material should be available—journals, university press, appointment committees, curricula development and conference—are controlled by the Wendy syndicate so that Swami Tyagananda’s rebuttal is not available for either purchase in bookstores or in universities and libraries for reference. (p. 111)

Microsoft’s Encarta encyclopaedia, one of the most widely referred sites by children, had a section on Hinduism, contributed by Doniger. Sankrant Sahu, an independent scholar and a manager in Microsoft pointed out the biases it contained. Finally, Microsoft withdrew the entry and replaced it with a version authored by Arvind Sharma, from McGill University, Montreal.

Stanley Kurtz, an anthropologist in Indian studies, says in his book Vishnu on Freud’s Desk, co-edited incidentally by the infamous Kirpal that the mothers in India do not have “a western-style loving, emotional partnership with their babies.” (p 60)

Islam, however, does not receive this treatment from the western scholars. They in fact struggle to reinterpret Islam and give it an emphasis of higher learning despite resistance from within Islam. “The western academic repacking and facelift of Islam is certainly a good project … Unfortunately, a different standard is being applied in Hinduism, despite the fact that its history and liberty of texts cry out loudly and clearly in favour of multiple layers of meanings and interpretations.” Probably, terror works on academics and Hindus might learn an underlying meaning in this.

In all the distorted writings on Hinduism, the Hindu scholars see the hidden hand and thread of Christianity running. Dr. Balagangadhara, Director of the Research Centre of Comparative Science of Cultures in Ghent University, Belgium, says, “Christianity spreads in two ways: through conversion and through secularization.”

While we in India are directly familiar with the first way, we are also familiar but probably not aware of the latter way. What secularization means he says, “is to de-de-Christianize Christianity… Christian doctrines spread wide and deep (beyond the confines of Christian believers) in the society dressed up in ‘secular’ (that is, not in recognizably ‘Christian’) clothes.” (p 129). That is the reason how we have a whole population of “secular” Hindus.

Any attempt to counter this academic cartel is branded vociferously as ‘Hindutva’, ‘saffron’ and ‘fundamentalism.’

Commenting on the kind of introductory lessons prescribed in courses, the book asks if the reverse is applied to Christianity, for example if we have an introductory lesson on that religion which states that “Catholic churches are notorious for all kinds of extreme practices from rape of children to official protection for the rapists over the decades.” Would a lesson like this ever be allowed in India, though all these can be proved by supporting data? (p 57)

For someone who has made a living out of Hinduism, Wendy Doniger accused the Hindu right in India of “shoving Sanskrit down the throat” of Indians. T. Desai, a student of University of Chicago, relates an anecdote on Wendy. While attending a lecture by her on Mahabharata, he was amazed “how she lectured on Indian politics. I wonder if they also discuss Bush’s funding of faith based organizations in Latin classes … She even described the meeting between Arjuna and Indra, (son and father) when Indra places him in his lap and caresses his arm, as ‘homoerotic.” (p 465)

Martha Nussbaum, one of the so-called scholars of the Wendy team, said this about India in the presence of Amartya Sen, at a conference in Chicago recently, “Thinking about India is instructive to Americans, who in an age of terrorism can easily over-simplify pictures of the forces that threaten democracy…In India, the threat to democratic ideas comes not from a Muslim threat, but from Hindu groups.” (p 3). Could anything be more bizarre than this? Sen is not known to have countered this either at that forum or later.

The book also has a section devoted to how the American media, both the mainstream and the regional, have treated the Hindu stories. How the Indian and Hindu scholars have been left aghast by the twists given in the article, for which quotes were taken from them.

Invading the Sacred gives voice to millions of Hindus world over who have been hearing and suffering the abuse of our religion. The issue is now joined and joined well.

(Invading the Sacred, An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America; Publisher: Rupa & Co. 7/16, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi 110 002; pp 545; price: Rs. 595)

EVENT : Talk on "Hinduism Under Siege, the way out" by Dr. Subramanian Swamy


Topic: "Hinduism Under Siege, the way out"

Speaker: Dr. Subramanian Swamy

Date: Aug 17, 2007

Time: 8:00 - 9:30 pm

Address: Shree Dwarakashish Temple, 717, Washington Rd., Parlin, NJ (near Edison)

Contact: Sunanda - 732-252-6792

email: bharatmat@gmail.com

Website: www.savetemples.org



Bio Data:
Dr. Subramanian Swamy has contributed to India's growth in his various capacities as Member of Parliament, and Cabinet Minister – first as Minister for Commerce, Law and Justice (1990-1991) and later as Chairman of the Commission on International Trade and WTO's labour standards (1994-1996).

He has doctorate in economics from Harvard University . He continues to be a visiting faculty member at Harvard University. A man who has fought fearlessly for his convictions, the causes he has espoused include his heroic struggle against Emergency in India .

As never before, Hinduism is under an invisible multi-dimensional siege; and that the manifestation of this siege can be seen by those alerted to it. Dr. Subramanian Swamy suggests that the siege against Hinduism today is visible in four dimensions:


RELIGIOUS: In the denigration of Hindu icons and colossal scale of looting of Hindu Temples in most parts of India.


PYCHOLOGICAL: in the foisting of a fraudulent version of our history;


PHYSICAL: In the Islamic terrorist-driven ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Kashmir and Bangladesh, and the money-induced conversion of Hindus to Christianity;


CULTURAL: Through globalization of tastes, dress and interpersonal morality that are determined in the West.



Dr. Subramanian Swamy argues that Hindus must collectively acquire a new mind set, to meet the growing challenge from a highly multi-dimensional siege which is international in character- otherwise over the coming millennium, Hindus run the risk of perishing like the ancient Greeks, Egyptians or Babylonians.

Also visit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subramanian_Swamy
http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=159&page=31
http://www.kanchiforum.org/hindus_under_siege/?key=int

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Plan of U.S. and S. Korean Authorities for War Maneuvers under Fire

Pyongyang, August 3 (KCNA) -- The U.S. and south Korean authorities decided to stage "Ulji Focus Lens" joint military exercises, large-scale war exercises targeted against the north, in south Korea from Aug. 20 to 31. This is an unpardonable provocation as they drive the situation on the Korean Peninsula into an extreme phase of showdown.
A spokesman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said this in a statement released on Thursday.

They are trying to cover up the aggressive and provocative nature of the projected war exercises with their hackneyed rhetoric that they would be "annual" and just a "command's drill," but that is nothing but sophism which can convince no one, the statement notes, an goes on:
The reality clearly shows that the U.S. and its allied forces are chiefly to blame for disturbing peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
The U.S. and south Korean authorities can never evade the responsibility for having strained the situation on the Korean Peninsula and deliberately thrown hurdles in the way of solving the nuclear issue and improving the inter-Korean relations in breach of their promises, swimming against the trend of the times.
It is the invariable will and stand of the DPRK to respond to good faith in kind and react to provocations with merciless retaliation.
The army and people in the DPRK will further bolster the war deterrent for self-defence to defend the sovereignty and dignity of the nation in order to cope with the reckless war moves of the U.S. and south Korean warlike forces.
The U.S. and south Korean authorities should face up to the trend of the times and cancel at once their anachronistic plan for reckless war gambles targeted against the north.

China gives the Korean stalemate a happy ending

21:02 | 03/ 08/ 2007
MANILA-MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev) - North Korea and the Philippines have signed a cooperation agreement at the current ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) on security in Manila. Should the world be rubbing its eyes in disbelief?

Imagine this agreement had been signed at the forum in Kuala Lumpur a year ago, when the Korean nuclear problem was the main threat to Pacific security. Even terrorism and natural disasters came second on the agenda to Pyongyang's bomb. Normal relations with North Korea were impossible and it was seen as a pariah state.

In between the two forums, a breakthrough was made at the six-party talks in Beijing, where the Korean problem had been debated for years. Now the North Korean foreign minister has changed his image and is a regular participant at the ARF along with his colleagues from ASEAN and their partners: the United States, China, Russia, Japan, Australia and other nations that carry weight in the Pacific.

North Korea will soon take an active part in the regional effort to maintain security. This has substantially changed the regional situation. The issue that was supposed to be given top priority looks different now. Russia and the United States have jointly proposed a resolution on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the region, but it now looks much less urgent than it would have a year ago.

Spokesmen for each of the six participants in the Beijing talks on Korea gathered for a meeting in Manila, an event that was applauded by the forum's other participants. A new round of the six-party talks will resume in Beijing in September. The two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the United States will discuss the procedures for implementing agreements previously reached in Beijing.

The participants in the Manila forum have just started to realize that Asia and the Pacific have changed completely. One example: now, any good news about North Korea is perceived as yet another sign of the consolidation of Chinese power in the region.

Beijing put its reputation on the line when it assumed the lead role at the six-party talks on Korea. But it would have risked even more if it had been passive because the Korean crisis was a real thorn in its side. In the worst-case-scenario - a war - it could have put a stop to China's economic growth and diminished its enhanced role in Asia. The whole region would have been affected.

The ARF forum, held every year in late July-early August, has long been a yardstick for measuring the growth of the influence of China and other regional powers in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Needless to say, China looks much more impressive now than it did a year ago. In Manila, it was represented by new Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who replaced Li Chao-hsing. The new minister spoke about a change of strategy and a new understanding of Asian security. He said that by promoting trade and development projects with Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia, China was contributing to Asia's overall prosperity. His tone was optimistic and confident. China has shown once again that it is vital for Asian security. It is also true that the economic situation in Asia would not look good without China.

China has grown stronger. Who has become weaker, then?

No one. Regional influence is not a pie of a certain size. If one country gets a bigger piece, it doesn't mean that another one will have to settle for less. Russia has also found itself in a good position because China's bigger role in Asia increases Russia's influence there. Beijing feels more confident because it is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on a par with Moscow, and the two are jointly carrying out numerous military-technical cooperation programs. Their security is closely linked.

China's success has not left anyone empty-handed. The settlement of the Korean crisis has resolved a host of problems for South Korea, the United States, Japan and North Korea itself. All these nations are participants in the ARF forum and share common security concerns. This is why they all stood to gain from the resolution of the Korean crisis.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Tapping into space for energy

20:41 | 03/ 08/ 2007

MOSCOW. (Yury Zaitsev for RIA Novosti) - The main source of energy for humankind is still fossil fuels, or hydrocarbons (oil, gas and coal). Their use, however, has a markedly adverse effect on the environment, not to mention their scarcity.

Nuclear power and renewable energy sources (hydro, tidal, geothermal and wind-driven power plants) offer a partial solution. But even they do not address the issue of transport, which uses mostly liquid hydrocarbons. In short, the world has not yet come up with an engineering solution to these energy and environmental problems. Under the circumstances, tapping space for energy may be the best way out.

The Sun is the original source of all energy on this planet. It helped the Earth to accumulate the hydrocarbon reserves which we are now burning away. For the human race to be able to meet its energy requirements, it requires 10 billion tons of fuel equivalent a year. The energy that annually reaches the Earth from the Sun is equivalent to 100 trillion tons of fuel equivalent. By exploiting just one per cent of that amount, i.e. one trillion tons, humanity could solve many of its problems for centuries ahead.

The simplest way to convert solar radiation into electricity is by using the so-called extrinsic photo effect, whereby particles of light "knock out" electrons from a screen put up in their path. Soviet scientists from the Leningrad Physical and Technical Institute were the first to produce an electric current in that fashion in the 1930s. True, the efficiency of the first solar sulfur-helium elements was barely 1%. But starting in 1958, silicon solar batteries became the main source of electric power on spacecraft. By the mid-1970s, their efficiency approached 10%, where it remained for nearly two decades. It was only in the mid-1990s that it went up to 15%, and, by the turn of the new century, it had reached 20%.

This was achieved mainly by improving the technique for producing pure silicon - the basic material for making solar cells - from quartzites. The largest deposits of very pure quartzites are found in Russia, which had vast reserves of them. Recently the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, near Moscow, developed a photo cell with an efficiency of almost 50%. Scientists describe their product as a "star battery." It is an example of how nanotechnology can improve the workings of well-known processes.

They embedded tiny particles of gold into a silicon wafer only 0.5 mm thick. The properties of the material changed so dramatically that while in ordinary cells one electron needs 5 to 6 light photons to be knocked out, in this case it is enough to have two, and it is possible that in the future only one will be required. In practice this means that 1 square meter of solar battery surface can yield 600 watts and later perhaps even 1 kW of electricity. Unlike normal silicon, the new material is sensitive to a wide range of solar radiation, from the ultraviolet to the infrared spectrums.

The Dubna researchers also made a supercapacitor using the same material. A cylinder 3 sm in diameter can store 900 times more power than that contained in a normal car battery. This is important because solar batteries function only during the day, but power is needed round the clock, so enough must be stored for the night.

The first commercial solar power plant was built in 1985 in the U.S.S.R., not far from Shchelkino in the Crimea. It had a peak capacity of 5 MW - as much as the first nuclear reactor. But in the mid-1990s the plant was closed down because its electricity generating costs proved too high, partly because of the low operating efficiency of solar cells on Earth. It was therefore decided to build solar power plants in space.

The idea was first discussed at the Soviet Academy of Sciences soon after Yury Gagarin's pioneering space flight and was found to be worthwhile. In the years that followed, projects for space-based solar plants multiplied like rabbits, especially during the energy crisis of the mid-1970s. But all of them were "hooked" to the geostationary orbit, which was almost filled to capacity with information satellites from many countries. Power plants, if inserted into orbit, could prove a big nuisance for them.

A preferable orbit would be the extended 12-hour sun-synchronous one, or one with similar properties. In that case, the power plant would appear above the horizon twice a day. Its furthest point would be above the North Pole at an altitude of 40,000 kilometers, and at its closest it would come within 500 kilometers of the Earth's surface above the South Pole. One such plant would send power during the 8 hours when it is nearest to the Earth, mostly to the northern regions of the country that are in most need of it. During the remaining 4 hours, storage plants would accumulate power for future needs.

To deliver parts to working orbits, assemble them there and later perform maintenance on the plants, assembly, aerospace and inter-orbit transports systems will have to be developed, which is just as challenging as building the plants themselves. But whatever way you look at them, solar plants in space are a better and less costly option for energy problems on the Earth than flying to the Moon to fetch helium-3 for fusion reactors.

Yury Zaitsev is an expert with the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Russia aims to lay claim to North Pole natural resources

01.08.2007 Source: Pravda.ru

Sunday, July 29th, could go down as a memorable event in terms of Russian oceanology. Two deep-sea submersibles Mir-1 and Mir-2 made an unprecedented test dive in polar waters Sunday, reaching the seabed 47 nautical miles (87 kilometers) north of Russia’s northernmost archipelago, Franz Josef Land in the Barents Sea. The Akademik Fyodorov, the flagship of the expedition “Arktika-2007”, has launched the submersibles, said Vladimir Strugatsky, a vice president of the Association of Russian Polar Explorers, in an interview on Sunday.


The test dive began at 9.15 a.m. with the launch of Mir-1 piloted by Analoly Sagalevech, one of the developers of the submersibles. Mir-2 followed suit fifteen minutes later. The second submersible was piloted by Evgeny Chernyaev, a prominent hydronaut. It took about one hour for the deep-sea vessels to reach the seabed at a depth of 1,311 meters. The Mir-type submersibles entered service 18 years ago. In the past, during a number of missions headed by Academician Sagalevich, the submersibles were capable of diving to record depths of more than 6,000 meters. The hydronauts took part in about 30 expeditions, including on-site research operations after the Komsomolets and Kursk nuclear submarines sank in the tragic accidents in 1989 and 2000, respectively. The submersibles were also actively used during an expedition involving the Oscar-winning director James Cameron.

The latest test dive is only a stage rehearsal being part of a large-scale research of the Arctic region, said Artur Chilingarov, head of the Arktika-2007 expedition, who is also Hero of the Soviet Union and Doctor of Geography. The main dives of the program are slated for July 30th and 31st. The submersibles will be launched to scoop samples at a depth exceeding four kilometers in the vicinity of the Lomonosov Ridge and Gekkel Ridge.

Research is only part of the mission. In a way, the expedition is set to reaching a geopolitical goal too. The hydronauts are planning to carry out work for defining the boundaries of Russia’s continental shelf extending north of the New Siberian Islands to the North Pole. The Soviet Union and, subsequently, Russia had formally owned the above territory since the 1920s. However, Russia called into question its title to the territory by ratifying the 1997 Convention on the Maritime Law, which states that the Russian Federation (one of the countries with territory inside the Arctic Circle) can claim only a 320 kilometer economic zone around its coastline.

Expedition leader Artur Chilingarov hopes that Russia could benefit from findings to be obtained by his team. Pursuant to the norms of the international law, Russia could claim the territory makes part of its continental shelf provided irrefutable evidence is gathered to prove that the Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges, which stretch toward Greenland, are part of the Siberian continental platform. More importantly, Russia would claim its ownership of the rich energy resources under the North Pole. According to some experts, oil and natural gas reserves deposited under the North Pole are estimated at 100 billion tons at the very least. In the meantime, Russian scientists will claim the territory symbolically for Russia by planting the Russian flag on the seabed under the Pole during their mission.

Vremya Novostei

Translated by Guerman Grachev
Pravda.ru

Colombia: An End to ELN Kidnappings and a Greater Focus on FARC

Source: Stratfor
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August 03, 2007 02 00 GMT

Summary

Amid increased attention to the plight of an estimated 3,000 hostages held by Colombia's various militant groups, a National Liberation Army (ELN) spokesman said Aug. 2 the group is reviewing its kidnapping policy and aims to stop using kidnapping as a financing mechanism. This could significantly affect Colombia's security situation -- particularly if the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) feels pressured to make a similar move, or if the ELN's shift frees up more government resources to concentrate on combating FARC.

Analysis

Pablo Beltran, a spokesman for the National Liberation Army (ELN) -- Colombia's second-largest Marxist rebel group -- said Aug. 2 the group is considering abandoning kidnapping for ransom as a primary financing tactic. This gesture could give Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez a chance to improve the security situation in a country he has battled to stabilize over the past five years.

It is possible, though unlikely, that ELN's new stance will pressure Colombia's largest and most notorious Marxist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), to consider making a similar commitment in order to maintain its public legitimacy. If this happened, Colombia would be able to rapidly shed its reputation as the kidnapping capital of the world (which actually now is Mexico). A more likely scenario is that ELN's move will make it easier for the government to reach an understanding with the rebel group and thus spend more of its energy combating and negotiating with FARC.

While ELN and FARC cooperate occasionally to block government raids in adjacent territories -- and they share the purported objective of overthrowing the government -- they generally are at odds with each other. ELN's membership has been cut by more than half, in part by FARC incursions, since its height of about 5,000 members in the late 1990s. FARC, meanwhile, is estimated to have more than 10,000 combatants.

ELN, inspired by the Cuban revolution and joined by a series of liberation theology-inspired Catholic priests, has generally been considered to have more ethical qualms about its tactics than FARC. In fact, it developed kidnapping for ransom into a giant money-making machine in the 1990s as a more palatable alternative to drug trafficking. Aside from kidnappings, ELN currently raises funds through extortion and protection rackets. FARC has its roots in an insurgency that predates Cuba's. It is generally more vicious than the ELN and has more territorial control in the southern jungles, which government forces have trouble infiltrating. This makes FARC less vulnerable to public pressure, and the group is unlikely to abandon either drug trafficking or kidnapping.

Beltran's statement coincides with an unusual increase in publicity for the plight of kidnapping victims in Colombia. (Colombia's various militant and criminal groups are holding an estimated 3,000 hostages. The government says ELN holds 560, though Beltran said he believes the number is much lower; FARC holds many of the other victims.) On Aug. 2, Uribe met with a teacher, Gustavo Moncayo, who had trekked 560 miles from his home city to Bogota with chains on his wrists to demand the government negotiate for his son's release. His son, a soldier, was kidnapped by FARC almost 10 years ago. Uribe received Moncayo cordially but reiterated his hard-line stance that the path to peace is through security, not through negotiations with criminals. In late June, 11 hostages were killed by their FARC captors during a clash with another rebel group in the jungle -- a massacre that has drawn international attention.

These two events might have increased public ire toward kidnapping as a tactic and prompted ELN's re-examination of the pros and cons of kidnapping. Beltran said kidnappings are not convenient, do not provide cumulative benefits and do not give the group legitimacy, and that the group has to find a way out of the kidnapping "business." In the past, the public's attitude toward the rebels was not a strong enough factor to shift the balance of things, but that has changed since Uribe has made progress in improving the security situation and has carefully cultivated leverage to use against the rebel groups. The degree of this change is evident in ELN's statement about giving up kidnapping; in 2004 and 2005, the group refused to cease kidnappings as part of cease-fire negotiations -- talks that collapsed in no small part because of this refusal.

The ELN statement does not necessarily indicate an immediate tactical shift. Follow-through on the idea likely will be tied to progress in the demobilization negotiations the group is intermittently holding with the Colombian government. The sixth round of negotiations ended July 26 in Cuba with no significant progress. Beltran says he will not consider releasing ELN's current hostages until the government releases some of its ELN prisoners. The ultimate goal of the negotiations for ELN is some form of limited amnesty, such as the demobilization agreement the government reached with the paramilitaries.

While still popular, Uribe is politically embattled and his attention is divided among the threat of a re-arming right-wing paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, ELN and FARC. He needs to be able to focus. ELN's recent announcement that it would like to move away from kidnappings could generate public support for the government to cut a deal with the group, without Uribe appearing to waver too far from his hard-line stance. All of this leads to the likelihood that the Colombian government will take negotiations with ELN more seriously when they resume Aug. 20 in an attempt to win a concrete victory before it moves on to face down the FARC.
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Global Market Brief: U.S. Pressure on Foreign Firms and Iran's New Financial Direction

Source: Stratfor
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August 02, 2007 23 00 GMT


The U.S. House of Representatives on July 31 passed legislation amending the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) of 1996, expanding the scope of businesses subject to sanctions for investing in Iran's energy infrastructure. Further threatening Iran's commercial standing, the two largest banks in Europe that are still conducting financial operations in Iran -- Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank -- recently announced plans to halt transactions with private clients in Iran.

Cutting off Iran's access to international finance and business investment is a central part of the U.S. strategy to force Iran to change its behavior regarding Iraq and the nuclear issue. Increased U.S. pressure on Western banks to boycott Iran will force the Islamic republic to do business elsewhere, primarily in Asia. Though the United States has made progress in its efforts to change international banking practices -- mainly in Europe -- regarding Iran, further U.S. moves to restrict European business ties to Iran could complicate the United States' grander strategy of winning political support from Europe against Iran. Furthermore, it will be harder for the United States to get Chinese banks to stop doing business with Iran than it has been for the United States to get European banks to halt such transactions.

Europe and other major economies are not likely to institute formal trade sanctions, given their existing lucrative dealings with Iran, so Washington has asked European banks and other international institutions to comply with the U.S. ban on financial transactions. This aims to make the Iranian elite suffer by being cut off from the world financial system. The U.S. Treasury Department claims that more than 40 financial entities -- including UBS, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Commerzbank -- have either scaled back or terminated business transactions with the Iranian government and/or private Iranian businesses since the United States began its appeal in September 2006.

The July 31 amendment to the ISA bolsters Washington's strategy. The act already barred all U.S. companies from investing in Iran's energy sector; the amendment adds financial institutions, insurers, underwriters, export credit agencies, guarantors and other business organizations to the list of entities that could be subject to sanctions. The amendment also broadens the ISA by redefining "petroleum resources" to include petroleum byproducts. Furthermore, the new legislation holds parent companies liable for foreign subsidiaries' violations of the act. It also requires the Treasury Department to disclose the names of companies with more than $20 million invested in Iran's energy sector and prevents legal action against pension funds that divest such companies.

The United States has used finance to pressure countries in the past. Investment effectively dried up in North Korea in 2006 after the United States revealed Macau's Banco Delta Asia's involvement in North Korean drug and counterfeiting activities. The bank did not want to risk its reputation and froze North Korea's funds. North Korea -- much like Iran -- relied on the international banking network, and this network is significantly reliant on U.S. support and approval. Now, Washington is using this tactic again, claiming that European governments might have facilitated illicit business with Iran and must do more to stop such transactions.

Deutsche Bank informed Iranian clients July 20 of its intention to halt business transactions by Sept. 14. Commerzbank made similar commitments in July. The banks did not indicate that U.S. pressure was the primary cause of their announcements, but they did claim that doing business in Iran had become prohibitively difficult. This indicates that the United States has been somewhat effective in increasing the general risk of doing business and investing in Iran. Deutsche Bank claims that its Iranian business only accounts for 0.1 percent of its total revenues, or roughly $37 million. Though that is no small change, Deutsche Bank likely did a cost-benefit analysis and believes that staying in Iran is not worth the risk of losing out on potentially more lucrative business in the United States.

Because of this growing divestment, Iran is looking elsewhere for support. In 2006, in anticipation of a tightening of finances and threats of sanctions from the European Union, Iran claims it began shifting its assets, withdrawing money from European banks and transferring it to other unnamed banks abroad. Since 2005, Iran's role as an invited observer in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has allowed it to strengthen its relationships with Russia and China.

Iran will increasingly turn to countries such as China, Russia and Venezuela for commercial transactions, which poses a problem for the United States since Washington has relatively little leverage over these countries.

Furthermore, such nations could fund Iranian projects via government loans, which are not subject to international financial pressures. The West's divestment in Iran coincides with a significant surplus in cash held by Russia (gained from its energy wealth), which will be more than willing to help Iran with financial transactions as Moscow seeks stronger political influence in the region. However, neither Venezuela nor Russia has major trade banks, and Iran will depend largely on China for any financial transactions lost from the European Union.

The United States likely will turn to Asia next in its attempt to rein in Iran. While Washington could bring more Western banks into the fold, its influence in pressuring banks and businesses to cut ties with Iran could end at China's borders unless the United States undertakes a serious effort to target Chinese banks. This is unlikely given that the United States, like all countries, has had very limited success in changing Chinese business practices.

There also could be a limit to how far the United States can push Western banks and businesses to divest in Iran. Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress are trying to show the public that they are taking a tough stance on Iran, but punishing foreign companies could damage U.S. multilateral political efforts as those firms complain to their home governments. Thus, there will have to be a certain degree of political will in European countries to tighten the financial reins on Iran. And while the United States might be able to change many European banks' practices, there are still significant European business interests in Iran that will fight government-imposed measures against the country.

Ultimately, this is a delicate matter that the U.S. administration must handle carefully -- balancing its policy of pressuring foreign companies and institutions to divest in Iran with consideration for EU business interests. Until now, the administration has used persuasion rather than legal enforcement to get its way, often not enforcing provisions of the original ISA. By listing more foreign companies doing business in Iran and protecting pension funds from lawsuits, the new ISA amendment makes it easier for activist shareholders and political groups to influence business involvement in Iran through market campaigns. Washington will prefer this to taking legal action against foreign firms, as it lessens the role the U.S. government plays in altering foreign business practices.

CHINA: The People's Bank of China (PBoC) purchased a 0.46 percent stake in British Gas (BG), the United Kingdom's third-largest natural gas producer, Bloomberg reported July 31, citing Fred Lucas, an analyst at the brokerage firm Cazenove. A BG spokeswoman confirmed to Bloomberg the same day that PBoC is a BG shareholder, while a PBoC spokesman suggested that the purchase (valued at approximately $245 million) had been made by the central bank as an indirect investment on behalf of a state investment fund. The setup for this BG purchase was similar to that which PBoC used to buy a 10 percent stake in U.S. equity fund Blackstone Group, part of China's plan to invest a significant portion of its $1.3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves in higher-return equity investments.

ARGENTINA/SPAIN: Argentine President Nestor Kirchner and Spanish businessmen traded barbs following a rocky visit to Spain by presidential candidate Cristina Kirchner on July 23-26. The businessmen were disappointed by her intended economic policies. In particular, investors in utilities hoped Cristina would accept the need for a relaxation of price controls, given the current energy crisis in the country. Instead, she indicated continuity with her husband's policies and lectured some Spanish businessmen on the sensibility of maintaining a close relationship with Venezuela. When the Spanish investors indicated they were less than reassured by Cristina's visit, the president retorted that the Spanish are shameless lobbyists. The Kirchners could yet change some of their economic policies by necessity after the October election, but there could be less of a break with the past than has been expected.

KAZAKHSTAN: Kazakh state oil company KazMunaiGaz has announced its intention to raise its 8.33 percent share in the giant Kashagan oil field to 40 percent. The field is currently run by a foreign consortium led by Italian oil company ENI. Should KazMunaiGaz increase its participation that significantly, it could make the project unprofitable for the consortium and perhaps even force the consortium out. Russia, Europe and China have shown interest in dipping into Kazakhstan's giant untapped reserves, but much of the discussion has depended on the Kashagan field coming on line. Unless Kazakhstan can boost its oil output via Kashagan, there will be little to fill new pipelines, locking the country into its current pipeline infrastructure. Despite attempts to diversify its export markets, Kazakhstan is most closely tied to Russia, and without new pipelines it would be locked into Russia's orbit.

RUSSIA/BELARUS: Russian state-controlled natural gas firm Gazprom will cut natural gas supplies to Belarus by 45 percent Aug. 3, as the latest consequence of Minsk's failure to pay off its $456 million debt to Gazprom by July 23. Belarus accrued the debt by continuing to pay $55 per 1,000 cubic meters for natural gas from Russia after the price increased to $100 per 1,000 cubic meters in January. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said Russia will approve a loan to Belarus to pay off the debt as soon as Belarus agrees to certain concessions, such as allowing Gazprom more control over Belarusian energy assets. At this point, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has two options: He can give Gazprom full access to Belarus' energy infrastructure or, based on common energy concerns and/or the potential for economic and political reform, ask Europe to pay the debt. However, in the past, Lukashenko's paranoia about a West-incited color revolution has led him to return to Russia's fold.

NIGER: As uranium and oil prices rise worldwide and Niger expands production, the country is taking steps to restrict French domination of mineral (particularly uranium) extraction operations and give more influence to the Chinese. This situation would be mostly business except for concerns about a determined rebel group active in northern Niger, precisely where uranium deposits are located. The Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) has attacked Nigerien military forces and kidnapped, then later released unharmed, a manager for Chinese mining firm Sino-U. The MNJ is particularly opposed to the Chinese presence in Niger, accusing China of giving the Niger government more advanced weapons than it would otherwise be able to obtain. More Chinese companies and staff are likely to result in additional confrontations. However, the Chinese are prepared to do what it takes to secure access to energy sources to feed skyrocketing demand.

IRAQ: Iraq's Oil Ministry said Aug. 1 in a letter that none of its agencies and departments will deal with the country's oil unions. The letter addresses state firms throughout the country and research, development and training centers based in Baghdad, Baiji, Basra and Kirkuk. The unions are at odds with the government over the draft oil law, which the unions say would give foreign companies control over Iraq's oil resources. The unions, which enjoy a great deal of support in southern Iraq, are calling for the resignation or removal of Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani. This move is part of the Iraqi Shiite establishment's efforts (backed by Iran) to establish its writ over the country's Shiite majority. This requires complete control over matters pertaining to energy revenues. The establishment also will target renegade regional, tribal, political, social, militant and religious forces. These groups are likely to put up tough resistance, which could lead to a major struggle among the Shia.

TURKEY/EU: European countries are talking to Turkey about purchasing Iranian natural gas, Dunya Online reported Aug. 1, citing Iranian Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh. Turkey is in negotiations over a series of pipelines going to Europe, including the Turkey-Greece Interconnector and the Nabucco pipeline. He also said there is no natural gas project competing with the Turkey-Iran deal, alluding to Russia's Gazprom and Italy's ENI, which are considered potential competitors. Tehran is considering not only cooperating with Turkey geopolitically to counter U.S. moves to contain Iran but also working with Ankara to indirectly conduct energy-related international business. Vaziri-Hamaneh's comments notwithstanding, the Iran-Turkey proposal to export natural gas to the European market could harm Iranian-Russian relations. Furthermore, Turkey's move to engage the Iranians is a fairly recent development and it remains to be seen whether the Turks will finalize the deal.

KUWAIT: The privatization of Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPC) has been postponed until the Kuwaiti National Assembly passes a privatization law, the Kuwait News Agency reported July 28, citing KPC CEO Saad al-Shuwayib. Al-Shuwayib also said his company was following instructions from the Higher Petroleum Council, and that the KPC privatization will require more coordination and consolidation between company leaders and its large workforce. Al-Shuwayib said KPC is looking to develop Kuwait's northern oil field, building a fourth refinery and engaging in oil deals with China. Over the past several years, Kuwait's parliament has grown more assertive in terms of oversight over energy-related projects (among other matters). With the problems between the rival factions within the royal family and parliament gaining strength as a result, the Kuwaitis would not want to take actions that could elicit opposition from the legislature

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August 03, 2007

Baloch Nationalists under fire by Pakistan sponsored Islamic Mullas

By Nagesh Bhushan

Pakistani Intelligence ISI in collaboration with Iranian intelligence crafted a unique strategy to fight Baloch nationalists who are waging a deadly guerilla warfare against Pakistani Army in the Balochistan province - Islamize youth and kill Nationalists - according to sources in Balochistan . Baloch Nationalists have alerted Western Governments and think tanks abroad about this new development; witnessed by locals, widely circulated in baloch forums, that a promotional gathering of Tabligi was orchestrated under the watchful eyes of ISI on July 31 in Gawadar, the costal city Balochistan. One Mr.Archen Baloch said "Fanatic mullahism is been promoted proactively in collaboration with insignificant, discarded local mullahs against the Baloch nationalism which seeks the restoration of its national sovereignty over Balochistan. “. This phenomenon suggests that Pakistani intelligence is adding a new dimension to its Counter insurgence strategy to contain Baloch nationalists- who are regarded as secular, unlike other groups. IntelliBriefs sources in Pakistan say such events are "taking place in all over Balochistan, and this phenomenon suggest a new conspiracy against Baloch nationalist" and is also considered as "second force of Pakistani government after its armed force”.

While one need not be surprised about strong alliance between ISI and Islamic groups ,it is believed that ISI has activated its network of Mullahs to counter Baloch Nationalists after the failure of Pakistani army to crush the Baloch Resistance . Now Pakistan " wants dilute the intensity of Baloch nationalism by mobilizing the religious elements in our society" said Archen Baloch . All these activities are funded by ISI and spearheaded by Mr.Mulana Sherani ,member of Pakistan national assembly and he heads JUI in Balochistan .

On Iranian side of Balochistan ,Abdolmalik Rigi's open revolt against Iran has forced Iranians to use Mullahs as weapons against Baloch Nationalists . Iranian officials are spending sleepless nights over the unrest in its Sistan Balochistan Province which shares border with Pakistani side of Balochistan . Sources say Baloch are facing harassment by Iranian officials at the border who visit their relatives on the other side of the border in the Iran . They say "we have to go through harsh security by Pasdarane Inqalab, the Revolutionary Guard." . IntelliBriefs learned that those who want to participate in religious gathering in Pakistani held Balochistan face no restrictions, they can pass the boarder without any document or "Rahdari" permit .

Former Indian Intelligence official Mr.B.Raman who writes for (South Asia Analysis Group SAAG.ORG) predicted this long back ,that Pakistan will use Islamic fundamentalists aggressively against Baloch Nationalists, at some point when military option fail or when situation arises . Probably the time has come to watch closely, how Islamists are used by Pakistani Intelligence against Baloch and how Baloch Nationalists react to this new phenomenon . Military force has its own limitations which is always subject to intense scrutiny by Human Rights groups ,however no one is held accountable when Islamists unleash their terror as it was done in the past against Shias in Gilgit , Pakistan administered Kashmir . This is what Pakistani government wants - contract the dirty job to radical mullahs , project clean image before the world . For now Balochis around the world are using their PR fronts to educate Governments, law makers and think tanks about this latest trend .

The Pashtun time bomb

By Selig S. Harrison

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The alarming growth of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Pashtun tribal region of northwest Pakistan and southern Afghanistan is usually attributed to the popularity of their messianic brand of Islam and to covert help from Pakistani intelligence agencies.

But another, more ominous reason also explains their success: their symbiotic relationship with a simmering Pashtun separatist movement that could lead to the unification of the estimated 41 million Pashtuns on both sides of the border, the breakup of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the emergence of a new national entity, "Pashtunistan," under radical Islamist leadership.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are fragile, multiethnic states. Ironically, by ignoring ethnic factors and defining the struggle with jihadists mainly in military terms, the United States is inadvertently helping Al Qaeda and the Taliban capture the leadership of Pashtun nationalism.

In Pakistan, where the military regime of Pervez Musharraf is dominated by the Punjabi ethnic majority, the Pashtun mountain tribes have resisted Punjabi domination for centuries and have fiercely guarded their semiautonomous status.

Yet the United States is pushing Musharraf to bring the autonomous tribal areas under central government rule and is threatening unilateral airstrikes against suspected Al Qaeda hideouts unless Pakistan takes more aggressive military action on its own.

Musharraf is understandably resisting U.S. demands. His military assault on the Red Mosque, where many of the madrassa students were Pashtuns, has touched off Pashtun anger not only in the tribal areas but among his Pashtun generals.

In Afghanistan, where the Pashtuns are the largest single ethnic group, they bitterly resent the disproportionate influence enjoyed by the Tajik ethnic minority in the regime of Hamid Karzai, a legacy of U.S. collaboration with Tajik militias in overthrowing the Taliban.

More important, it is the Pashtuns who have been the main victims of U.S.-NATO bombing attacks on the Taliban, who are largely Pashtuns and operate almost entirely in Pashtun territory. In one authoritative estimate, civilian casualties have numbered nearly 5,000 since 2001.

Under pressure from Washington for action against suspected Qaeda sanctuaries, Pakistan launched operations with gunships and heavy artillery in early 2004 that displaced some 50,000 people, inflicting heavy civilian casualties. The International Crisis Group reported "the use of indiscriminate and excessive force alienated the local populace," and a Pashtun former law minister reported "seething anger" throughout the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the mountainous, 10,510-square mile border region.

To pacify his Pashtun generals, Musharraf later authorized peace agreements with tribal leaders, bitterly criticized by the Bush administration, under which Pakistani forces suspended military operations in return for pledges by tribal leaders to prevent the use of the FATA by the Taliban as a staging area for Afghan operations. But the damage was done. The FATA population had been politicized and polarized as never before.

The peace agreements were subverted in many areas by aroused Islamist and Pashtun nationalist groups, and have now broken down completely in the angry aftermath of the assault on the Red Mosque.

The radicalization of the Pashtun areas has intensified both Islamist zealotry and Pashtun nationalism.

In the conventional wisdom, either Islamist or Pashtun identity will triumph, but a more plausible possibility is that the result could be what the former Pakistani diplomat Hussain Haqqani has called an "Islamic Pashtunistan."

At a Washington seminar March 1, convened by the Pakistan Embassy, the Pakistani ambassador, Mahmud Ali Durrani, a Pashtun, commented that "I hope the Taliban and Pashtun nationalism don't merge. If that happens, we've had it, and we're on the verge of that."

What should the United States do to defuse the "Pashtunistan" time bomb?

First, in both Afghanistan and the FATA, minimize airstrikes that risk civilian casualties, relying to a greater extent on commandos and special forces.

Second, encourage Karzai to put leading Pashtuns from the large Ghilzai tribes into key security posts in Kabul, replacing minority Tajiks. Ghilzais dominate the Taliban.

Third, press for a civilian government in Pakistan that will implement the 1973 constitution, which gives provincial autonomy to the Pashtun, Baluch and Sindhi minorities. To offset Punjabi domination, Pashtuns want a consolidated Pashtun state that would link the FATA with the Pashtun-majority areas of the Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan. The FATA could then participate in Pakistani politics and secular Pashtun forces led by the National Awami Party would be strengthened.

The administration's proposed $750 million aid program for the FATA would be a colossal boondoggle. Economic aid would be desirable, but aid administered by the hated Punjabi regime would polarize tribal factions, strengthening separatist leaders who would brand anyone accepting the aid as a collaborator with the enemy.

Democracy, in short, is the precondition not only for combating the jihadist forces in Pakistan more effectively, but also for the long-term survival of multiethnic Pakistan in its present form.

Selig S. Harrison is director of the Asia program at the Center for International Policy and author of "In Afghanistan's Shadow." This article first appeared in The Boston Globe.

QUOTE OF THE DAY : Judge P D Kode

"I must say for every citizen, laws of the nation shall be respected. If you don't, I don't expect you to be called a moral person," Special TADA court of Judge P D Kode , appointed for 1993 Mumbai Serial Blasts

12 blasts
257 dead
713 injured
123 arrested and tried
686 witnesses testify
35,000 pages of evidence submitted
13 years to reach verdicts

Actor Sanjay Dutt Jailed for receiving weapons from Terrorists

Indian Minister , Terror Supporter and Tragedy of India


Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt was sentenced on Tuesday to six years "rigorous imprisonment" for possessing illegal weapons that he received from plotters of the 1993 Mumbai blasts which killed 257 people

Parliamentary and Information and Broadcasting Minister (Click to see Biodata) Priyaranjan Dasmunsi Mr. Dasmunsi told PTI “I will go to jail with a garland when Dutt will be released,”

NO ONE IS ABOVE LAW

Here is stupid Indian public and Indian MEDIA :

SMS polls by television channels after his sentencing showed nine out of 10 respondents believe the 48-year-old actor should have been pardoned.

Viewers wept. And that’s why it’s time to realise that Sanjay Dutt is extremely lucky — a blessed man. Men unknown to anyone but their families and friends go to prison for offences lighter than Dutt’s. Many of these men are even perhaps innocent, found guilty due to some strange combination of circumstances or the indifference of their court-appointed lawyers. Their stories will remain unheard, their fathers’ grief anonymous, and tales about the rakhi gifts they scrounged for, possibly laughed at. Sandipan Deb , Editor Financial Express

What does the media brouhaha say about us reporters? Did we really have to tell the world that Sanjay Dutt slept in his own clothes during his first night in jail, or that he had a banana and a cup of tea for breakfast the next morning? Did listeners really need to be told precisely which barrack of the Arthur Road jail had the honour of hosting the actor? And while television reporters were only too keen to shove a microphone under the nose of anyone from the film fraternity, did you see any channel interviewing anyone who had lost a friend or relative in the Bombay Serial Blasts? (TVR SHENOY)




Parliamentary and Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi
“I will go to jail with a garland when Dutt will be released,” Mr. Dasmunsi told PTI

Bollywood gangster "Deadly Dutt" goes down
Posted: 03 August 2007 1414 hrs


Photos 1 of 1

Indian actor Sanjay Dutt sits in a police van in Mumbai.



NEW DELHI - Bollywood tough guy Sanjay Dutt has often been in prison in "reel life." Now the celluloid icon with leathery hangdog looks has to get used to prison for real.

He was sentenced on Tuesday to six years "rigorous imprisonment" for possessing illegal weapons that he received from plotters of the 1993 Mumbai blasts which killed 257 people.

Dutt's downfall has left producers holding a clutch of unfinished movies, with Bollywood analysts estimating losses at more than half a billion rupees (12 million dollars), a massive sum in India.

And it has also touched off a round of soul-searching about whether the sentence was too stiff for a man who many said was misguided but not dangerous.

SMS polls by television channels after his sentencing showed nine out of 10 respondents believe the 48-year-old actor should have been pardoned.

Bollywood figures have protested that Dutt is a good man.

"Even the gods pardon someone who makes a mistake," said veteran Bollywood actress Saira Banu. "He has been punished enough for the last 14 years and he tried his best to be a good citizen," said director Subhash Ghai.

India has "looked at him as a wayward child, given to getting into trouble but good at heart and always wanting to mend his ways," wrote commentator Sandipan Deb in the Indian Express on Thursday.

The melodramatic life of the action hero, who mumbled tearfully to the judge sentencing him that "I made a mistake", reads like a Bollywood script.

His adored mother Nargis, a Muslim, was the reigning queen of Bollywood in the 1950s, starring in the epic film Mother India. His father, Sunil Dutt, a Hindu, played her son in the movie and even rescued her from flames on the set. The pair wed shortly after.

Many say the pressure-cooker life of growing up with superstar parents led him astray. He became a drug addict and his problems were aggravated when his mother died of cancer in 1981 when he was 22 and just days before his first movie's release.

"That was it for nine years of my life," he once said in an interview, referring to his cocaine and heroin addiction.

He attended rehab in the United States where he met his future wife, Richa Sharma. The couple had a child, but Sharma died of a brain tumour and Dutt lost custody of his daughter in a bitter battle with his in-laws.

A second marriage ended in divorce.

Known as "Deadly Dutt" for his macho image and portrayal of gangsters and anti-hero roles, he was arrested in 1994 on charges of illegally buying guns and involvement with terrorists who set off the serial blasts in Mumbai.

The "Black Friday" bombings were allegedly staged by Mumbai's Muslim-dominated mafia in retaliation for deadly 1993 Hindu-Muslim clashes.

Dutt said he bought the guns to protect his family from Hindu zealots who wanted to wreak revenge for his father's help to Muslim victims of the riots.

Dutt, who served an initial term of 18 months before being freed on bail in 1995, was convicted last year of buying guns but was cleared of the more serious charge of conspiracy in connection with the attacks.

On top of the gun charges, he was probed in 2001 for alleged money laundering deals between the underworld and Bollywood.

Now after living a superstar's life in a ritzy apartment with a fleet of luxury cars, he was set to serve his sentence in the prison where Indian independence icon Mahatma Gandhi was incarcerated during British colonial rule.

Ironically, he recently played the role of a wisecracking mobster in the hugely popular movie "Carry on Munnabhai" in which he meets Gandhi's ghost, who steers Dutt's character onto the path of righteousness and true love.

Despite the guilty verdict, Dutt has retained public support and sympathy as a man dogged by a troubled past.

Even Judge Pramod Kode who sentenced him seemed smitten by his charm.

"I don't want you to lose faith in yourself," he told Dutt. "You are number one in your field. - AFP/fa





TVR Shenoy
REDIFF
August 02, 2007


Oil has hit 78 dollars a barrel in the global market. Some independent analysts are saying that inflation in food prices has crossed the 10 per cent mark. So, what does the Indian media choose to honour with headlines? Sanjay Dutt [Images] of course!

Does the beleaguered actor deserve the outpouring of sympathy? Is Judge P D Kode's decision to hand down a sentence of six years of rigorous imprisonment too harsh? Is Union Information and Broadcasting Minister P R Dasmunsi right in saying that he feels that Dutt has 'suffered enough?' My answer to all three questions is the same: No!

A common joke doing the SMS rounds goes that Sanjay Dutt is a 'Munna' but is certainly not a 'Bhai.' A stranger reading this would be left with the impression that the actor is an innocent little lamb among the big bad wolves of the Hindi film industry. This is simply rubbish.

Sanjay Dutt was born in 1959. That means he was well into his thirty-fourth year when he was arrested in 1993. A man that hasn't gained a modicum of common sense by that age is certainly not a man that can be trusted with any kind of firearms, leave alone an AK-56.

Incidentally, for the benefit of all those arguing that Sanjay Dutt is being 'penalised' because of his celebrity status, I would like to point out that the actor has already got a huge break by being charged under the Arms Act rather than under TADA's draconian provisions. (Not that the Arms Act, in any case, permits a private citizen to own an assault rifle such as the AK-56!) That said, I think the judge was right in ruling that it would be unfair to describe the actor as a terrorist. But the whole episode throws light on the gray area between anti-terrorist legislation and the Arms Act that was designed for a more innocent age.

It also underlines the leisurely pace of justice in India. Sanjay Dutt was arrested in 1993. Why has it taken 14 years to pronounce sentence? Small wonder then that Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam confesses that the sentencing felt like freedom for him since he could finally lay down the burden of the case with a clear conscience.

Incidentally, did you hear anybody express any sympathy for Nikam, who has been receiving threats for the better part of the past decade? Or do Sanjay Dutt's supporters believe that 'mental torture' and 'stress' are conditions that afflict only their pal?

What, by the way, were the factors that 'stressed' Sanjay Dutt?

Literally millions of people are forced to deal with the consequences of a family member suffering from cancer or other life-threatening disease. That does not drive them to drink or drugs. Come to that, even Sanjay Dutt's sisters, both of whom are younger than him, responded with greater dignity and responsibility after their mother's death.

Even imprisonment does not seem to have shoved a modicum of common sense into Sanjay Dutt's skull. In November 2000 the police allegedly taped him talking to the notorious Chhota Shakeel. The release of those tapes' transcripts proved too much even for Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray (who had stood by him when his father's Congress colleagues were dropping out of sight in 1993).

This conversation reputedly came within days of Sanjay Dutt receiving exemption from appearing in the special court for two months; at such a time he had no business talking to any suspect acquaintance, even if the conversation were confined to inanities about the weather.

The actor was subsequently asked to confirm whether he had indeed spoken to Chhota Shakeel on the night of November 14, 2000 as the tapes indicated. Sanjay Dutt then told Judge A P Bhangale that he could not remember anything much from that evening because of all the liquor that he had consumed. Full points for honesty perhaps, but after all this it is utter nonsense to claim that this man is any kind of a role model for youth.

Finally, what does the media brouhaha say about us reporters? Did we really have to tell the world that Sanjay Dutt slept in his own clothes during his first night in jail, or that he had a banana and a cup of tea for breakfast the next morning? Did listeners really need to be told precisely which barrack of the Arthur Road jail had the honour of hosting the actor? And while television reporters were only too keen to shove a microphone under the nose of anyone from the film fraternity, did you see any channel interviewing anyone who had lost a friend or relative in the Bombay Serial Blasts?

Actors are fond of flaunting their credentials as social activists. Perhaps the greatest social service that Sanjay Dutt could perform in his troubled life would be in ramming home the twin messages that actions have consequences and that nobody is above the law.



Poor, privileged boy

Sandipan Deb
Posted online: Thursday, August 02, 2007 at 0000 hrs IST

http://www.indianexpress.com/printerFriendly/208030.html

It was inevitable, but a lot of Indians — perhaps a majority of them — preferred to believe it wasn’t. Even after the verdict was passed and Sanjay Dutt had been escorted to the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, SMS polls conducted by television channels showed that 9 out of 10 respondents believed he should have been pardoned. Film industry people, disoriented and shocked, kept protesting that Dutt was a good man and that six years in prison was a punishment totally disproportionate to the crime he had committed. Some pointed to the fact that the judge himself had said — in the slightly off-kilter English that our judges are prone to — that whatever Dutt had done was not “anti-social, ghastly, inhuman, immoral or pre-planned” and did not cause any harm to the general public. So why this awful retribution?
The core fact of being a celebrity, and much more so if you have also been born to celebrity parents, is that millions of people have seen you as you grew older, made your mistakes, turned your new leaves over, matured (or not), had children, changed your views — millions of people have seen you go through life. Millions of people have believed that they have known, if not you, then at least bits of you; they have invested in you their emotions, their moral judgements, and when it comes to Sanjay Dutt’s impossibly tumultuous life, their vast powers of forgiveness. We have seen him lose his mother, an iconic filmstar, at a young age, read about his drug abuse problems, commiserated with his father — another filmstar and to all accounts an exceptionally upright and admirable man — as he nursed Sanjay through his anti-addiction regimes, cheered as he grew in stature as an actor, culminating in that extraordinary turn in a film that brought Gandhi and his ideas back to awed recognition, if not fashion.
Every love affair of his has been painstakingly documented, as has been the death of his first wife, his bitter custody battle for his US-born daughter, and his second marriage and its breakdown. Much of middle-class India disapproved when his lady love of the time forsook him when he was sent to jail for the first time as much as they saw his 16 months in prison as an unfair and malicious fallout of the political establishment in Delhi wanting to teach Sanjay’s father a lesson. Throughout the 26 years Sanjay Dutt has been acting in films, the media has steadfastly maintained that in spite of all his built-in design flaws, he is a wonderful human being — gracious, generous, humble and uncomplicated.

There is no reason to doubt that reading. Anyone who has watched Sanjay Dutt’s interviews on television would agree that the man comes through as someone who is a simple happy-go-lucky spirit, though perhaps not particularly stacked in the cranium department. No wonder India looked at him as a wayward child, given to getting into trouble, but good at heart and always wanting to mend his ways. Naturally, he garnered immense amounts of affection — most people can’t but look at such a man without feeling motherly, brotherly (whether elder or younger), or motherly-masquerading-as-lustful.

On Monday night, a television channel was rerunning a years-old talk show featuring Sanjay, his father and his sisters. Sunil Dutt spoke of his son’s childhood pranks and drug addiction and his bruised but unwavering faith in Sanjay. It was touching — the rare dignity with which the father spoke, the way the son tried to fight back his tears. Sanjay’s sister Priya showed a bunch of two rupee coupons that he had saved up for his sisters as a rakhi gift because, in prison, there was nothing else he could get his hands on.

Viewers wept. And that’s why it’s time to realise that Sanjay Dutt is extremely lucky — a blessed man. Men unknown to anyone but their families and friends go to prison for offences lighter than Dutt’s. Many of these men are even perhaps innocent, found guilty due to some strange combination of circumstances or the indifference of their court-appointed lawyers. Their stories will remain unheard, their fathers’ grief anonymous, and tales about the rakhi gifts they scrounged for, possibly laughed at.

These men did not have the benefit of an exalted family, substantial wealth or access to a top-class education. They were not born famous and rich or with the power to bend their destinies at their will much more than the vast majority of humanity can dream of. Above all, they did not have millions of people following them on big screen and small, in print and on radio, with all these people thinking they know them, and setting aside a little corner of their hearts for these guilty or innocent men to reside in.

There is nothing wrong with feeling sad for Sanjay Dutt, in empathising with his family or grieving for his daughter, who has seen her father little but loved him a lot. But we need to temper this sadness with the knowledge that he had good fortune bestowed on him as a birthright while hapless thousands are facing every day the same fate that looks him in the eye today. There is no one to listen to their tales, no one allowed to hug them as they walk away through the prison gates. In his bumbling way, Dutt has collected more love and sympathy than any other man in his place, and he quite possibly knows that.

However long he spends behind bars, his place as a legend in Indian film history is now assured, and there is no reason why, when he serves out his term (whenever that may be), he will not return even more popular, his star potential at an even higher acme. One should not grudge him that, yet doing so without recognising the privileges that inherently define him will be a great injustice to all the people you didn’t see on screen.

The writer is editor, The Financial Express