Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Red Hills in Blue Mountains

Emerald Lake - as seen from Red Hills

I’ve always wondered about the origin of the name Nilgiris, which doesn’t sound like a typical Tamil name. For the matter of fact it doesn’t even have any similarity with the names of any of the forests or hills like Madumalai, Wayanad, Makurti, Bandipur etc. in the surrounding areas. In my recent trip to the Red Hills in the Blue Mountains, Nilgiris, my confusion was clarified. There’s a story behind the name ‘Red Hills’ too. Just wait a few moments for that. Let me start with the story of Nilgiris first.

Legend says that long long ago a group of people migrated from the present Rajasthan towards the south. Having stayed in and around the present Mysore in Karnataka for quite some time they started moving further south and finally settled in the present Nilgiris. The first group of people migrated from Mysore some seven hundred years ago and the last phase of migration happened some two hundred years back, during the reign of Tipu Sultan. This group of people, known as the Badagas, is the majority community in Nilgiris. They have been thriving mainly on agriculture. They established an understanding with the Todas, a much older community in the Nilgiris and believed to be the descendants of the Romans who came to India with Alexander in the first century BC but stayed back and eventually migrated to the south and settled in the Nilgiris. The Badagas coexisted peacefully with the Todas for centuries, not trespassing into the latter’s territories and entering into a barter system with them – providing grains and other agricultural products in exchange of milk, butter and other dairy products. Today Badagas have a population of eight lakhs spread across four hundred village. The other tribes which also coexisted along with the Todas and the Badagas are Irulas – the weavers, Kurumbas and the Kothas – the blacksmiths.

Well, enough of the Badagas and the other tribes of the Nilgiris. But how do I know all these and what’s the story behind the name 'Nilgiri'? I learnt all these from Mr. Vijay Kumar, a Badaga, who has, among many other things, a wealth of interesting information about the tribes of Nilgiris. It’s from him that I learned that the Badagas named their new habitat aptly Nilgiris - mesmerized by the blue tinge of the hills when soaked in fog and cloud. They have been speaking a language which is closer to Kannada than Tamil, due to their long association wit Karnataka. Also as they are originally from Rajasthan, their language does have many similarities with the northern languages. That explains the uniqueness of the name “Nil Giri”, or the Blue Mountains.

Well, that’s the story of Nilgiris. But how did I meet Mr. Vijay Kumar?

That’s the next story.

Willie Collins, a planter and hunter, popularly known as Huli Doray - meaning Tiger (Huli) Man (Doray is used to express reverence and respect), by the local Badagas, fell in love with the Nilgiris and started constructing a house near Ithlar, one of the Badaga villages close to a Toda village called Othe-Kal-Mund or the “One Stone Village” – popularly known as Ootacamund by the English people. By 1875 Willie’s house on top of a hill was complete. He named the hill Red Hills because he belonged to Red Hills in England. He stayed in the house for almost sixty years. After his death a Badaga by the name of Muthoor Pillai, a resident of Ithlar village and an affluent planter and potato trader with business interests in Bombay and Calcutta, bought the properties of Willie from his daughter in 1937. All his children were raised in the hosue built by Willie on Red Hills. Mr Vijay Kumar, from whom I’ve learnt so many things about Nilgiris, happens to be the youngest son of Muthoor Pillai. He has inherited this 130 years old house from his father. Over the years the landscape of the surrounding areas underwent huge change. A number of dams were erected in Nilgiris and Vijay’s house now overlooks the beautiful catchment area of the Emerald dam. Out of the 250 acres of tea estate belonging to Vijay’s family he owns about 70 acres. He became a professional tea planter. His tea gardens surround his house. After his mother passed away in 1990 and his children went abroad for studies Vijay and his wife Banu were getting bored at their huge house. That’s when they thought of an innovative idea. They decided to invite tourists to stay with them in their house. This way they would get to meet new people every time and also have some extra work to keep them busy. That’s how the first Home Stay in the Nilgiris started. It’s now called the Red Hills Nature Resort and that’s where I went for the third time during the Christmas of 2008. The undulating hills covered with tea gardens and draped in the clouds and fog, the calm and serene waters of the catchment areas of the dams idling through the curves and cracks all around creating fascinating shapes of water bodies, the cool weather and above all the hospitality of the Vijay Kumars create the perfect ambience and aura for a relaxed vacation. The 130 year old house, almost three fourth of which has been retained and maintained perfectly till now, adds to the excitement of the stay. The natural grandeur all around is so mesmerizing that it attracts me from time to time and that’s why I’ve been to the place already three times in the past four years.

We started from Bangalore on 25th morning, exactly at 5am. We created a perfect cozy bed for Prithu in the back of our Tavera, folding the back seat. We expected that Prithu would sleep for sometime. But he was as excited as we were and never slept in the car. Previously when we visited Red Hills he was just one year old and he barely remembers anything of that trip. We expected the traffic to be heavy, especially because of the long weekend and hence decided to reach Mysore as soon as possible. I zoomed through the Mysore Road and reached Mysore by 7:15am. We headed to our favorite Royal Orchid Metropole Hotel for a breakfast and the morning ablutions. We’re back on road by 8:30. The traffic was not much after Mysore and the NH212 between Mysore and Gundalpet is quite good. After Gundalpet the condition of the highway is quite bad for about 10KMs after which it improves considerably through the Bandipur National Park. The drive through the forest is really very scenic though you shouldn’t expect to see even a stray cow or dog, forget the tiger!! Little after crossing the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border we took the Kalahati Ghat Road through Madumalai National Park, a short cut to Ooty compared to the regular bus route via Gadalur. The Kalahati Ghat Road can be dangerous for novice drivers. It has around thirty six steep hair pin bends between Masinagudi and Ooty. The sorroundings are also quite barren compared to the lush green mountains along the longer route through Gadalur. We reached Ooty by 11:30am. Bypassing the main city we directly reached the Bus Station and turned right into the Avalanche Road just after the Bus Stand. Red Hill is about 25 KM from Ooty. The initial 10 KMs on this road is not good. Keeping the Fern Hill Palace to the right, the Good Shepherd International School to the left and crossing the Ithlar village, from where the Vijay Kumars hail, we reached Emerald, the last town and place to buy necessities before Red Hills. At Emerald we turned right towards Red Hills, which is roughly 7 KM from Emerald. The road skirts around the Emerald and Avalanche lakes through a few scarcely polulated villages and treks up gradually amidst lush green tea gardens. There’s a bridge over a narrow stretch that joins the Emerald and the Avalanche lakes. This spot has a magnificient view with sloping green banks of the reservoirs on both sides of the bridge. It’s a good picnic spot. You can drive your car to some extent on the slopes of the banks quite close to the water when the level is high. The condition of the road deteriorates gradually and you have to drive really carefully if you don’t want the suspension of your car to be damaged severely. When you really start feeling that you’re perhaps lost or the road is never ending you see the board of Red Hills on the left. The seven kilometer journery from Emerald can take near to half an hour. From the board it’s around ½ a kilometer on an untarred road before you finally reach Vijay’s 130 year old house overlooking the blue waters of Emerald Lake. It’s really tough to believe that the house is so old. Vijay Kumars have done a good job in maintaining it.

Lush Green sorroundings of Red Hills

We relaxed for the rest of the day after a sumptuous lunch. Though we’re the first to reach Red Hills on 25th, by afternoon all the eight rooms were full.

The next morning a total of eleven people, including two kids aged ten and six, started for the trek to the Red Hills peak, which shouldn’t take more than three hours to climb up and down. The trek is not very hard but it’s advisable to take a guide. We had Mohan, the manager of the resort and Mobby, the sweetest ever dog of the Vijay Kumars, guiding us. Some part of the trek is through jungle and it’s very easy to get lost because the trail is almost invisible for most part. The trek provides an awesome view of the Emerald and Avalanche lakes and the surrounding hills of the Silent Valley and Makurti National Parks. Vijay Kumar has arrangements for night-stay in tents for six people in the Red Hills Peak. We didn’t know about this but could very well feel the excitement of such an experience.

That same evening we visited the Parsons and the Parthimund Valley and Lake, quite close to Red Hills. We took Mohan with us because otherwise there's every possibility to get lost in the innumerable turns in the Mukurti National Park. Parthimund Valley Lake provides a very good place to watch the sun set. Both the valleys are picture perfect and the lakes serene and tranquil. Each and every place appears to be a picnic spot. The Parsons Valley Dam was the site for the last scene of the film Roja, filmed by Mani Ratnam. It’s a rare spectacle to see so many lakes languishing alongside the hills at a single place.

It’s interesting to learn about the background of all these manmade lakes or rather catchment areas in this part of Nilgiris. Mr. Vijay Kumar provided me with all the information. Many valleys around Ooty have been provided with a number of dams to reserve the waters of Nilgiris and drain all of them into the Bhavani Sagar Reservoir on the river Bhavani which finally drains into Cauvery. All these valleys and the associated catchment areas, at various altitudes, provide spectacular views. Each of these pristine valleys and lakes, surrounded by hills and forests are fantastic and unique tourist spots which are still not that infested with the insensitive and irresponsible tourists. That adds more to the charm of these places. The Western Catchment 1 flows into the Upper Bhavani Reservoir. The Western Catchment 2 & 3 flow into Porthe Mund Valley Lake, which in turn flows into Emerald & Parsons Valley Lakes. Parsons Valley also flows into Emerald which has a Hydel Power Plant. Emerald & Upper Bhavani flow into Avalanche where again there’s a Hydel Power Plant. Avalanche and Emerald Lakes are in same height. They flow into Kunda, where again there’s a Hydel Power Plant. Kunda flows into Piloor, then to Geddai and finally into Bhavani Sagar from the south eastern side. Beyond Porthe Mund is the Mukurti Lake which flows into Pykara Lake, which has Hydel Power Plant. The water from Pykara Lake, off the Ooty-Gadalur-Mysore NH67, flows till Singara, which has an underground turbine, and then into Moyar River, which finally flows into Bhavani Sagar from the western side. Thus almost all water of Nilgiris go into Bhavani Sagar and then finally to Cauvery!! If time permits each of these lakes and valleys is worth visiting. Upper Bhavani requires permission from Forest Department and Electricity Board of Tamil Nadu because it’s the gate-way to the Makurti National Park. Vijay Kumar can take care of the permissions with prior intimation. The trip to Upper Bhavani, which we did the next day, can be clubbed with a Jungle Safari of Mukurti National Park for a half day trip from Red Hills. The Upper Bhavani Lake is the most tranquil and serene out of all the lakes. It skirts the Makurti National Park and is visible for a long time along the Jungle trail. There are several interesting trekking routes in the Makurti National Park. All treks can be organized by Vijay.

The Upper Bhavani Lake is the most tranquil and serene out of all the lakes

I’d decided this time that I’d surely write about the trip in my blog. The last evening I sat with Vijay Kumar to take notes about the history of Red Hills and I ended up gathering a lot of information also about the people and culture of Nilgiris. I learnt some fascinating facts about the Badagas – like their tradition, which they follow still now, of collecting money for any fellow villager who’s ailing, their traditional ritual to make someone free to marry again in the event of death of his or her spouse or their tradition to not take any dowry – to mention a few.

The journey back to Bangalore was not that great, not because of the fact that the traffic was quite heavy, but because of the sadness that had engulfed all of us on leaving the serene Red Hills. No wonder that Red Hills has been featured in Outlook publications like 52 weekends from Bangalore/Madras, 100 Hill Stations of India and 50 Trekking Holidays, 50 Driving Destinations in Autocar India, Go Now, Rave and Lonely Planet!!

Useful Information

  • Distance from Bangalore: Around 300 KM
  • Distance from Ooty: 25 KM
  • Route from Bangalore: NH212 for Mysore-Gundalpet-Bandipur, Kalahati Ghat Road through Masinagudi-Ooty, Avalanche Road from Ooty through Ithlar till Emerald, Right towards Red Hills at Emerald
  • Number of Rooms: 8
  • Tariff: Peak Season 5K per couple and 4K in off season. Price includes accommodation and all meals
  • Places to see (Close by): Parsons Valley Dam/Lake, Parthi Mund Valley Dam/Lake, Avalanche Dam/Lake
  • Day trips: Upper Bhavani (30KM) & Makurti National Forest Jungle Safari and all other places around Ooty-Conoor
  • Treks: Red Hills Peak & multiple routes in Makurti National Park. Refer to this site for more information about Upper Bhavani and treks in Makurti Natinal Park:
  • Contact: Vijay Kumar +919442254755,

Red Hills
(Few snaps courtesy Tathagato)

Emerald Lake from Red Hills Peak, Parsons Valley Lake & Sunset from Parthi Mund Valley Lake

Direction to Red Hills

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Enuff of Talking: Time for some 'Real' Actions

by Sudhir Gandotra,

Dear Fellow Indian Citizen,

The terror act in Mumbai (& the earlier bomb blasts across India) have exposed the world of Violence and its relation to the world of Corruption.
After the Mumbai incident, lakhs of people, from all walks of life have shown their anger with the way things are.
They have shown their opposition to Violence;
They have shown their deep and clear interest in Non-violence as the only way out;
They have demanded Peace through Nonviolence;

People are very clear that Terrorism arises due to Corruption and Violence in the system.

Violence has many expressions.

External violence manifests as :
Physical Violence (Mumbai like incidents, physical violation of a victim, war, killings etc.);

Economic Violence (Poverty, Unemployment, Exploitation etc.)

Religious Violence (when people are divided and discriminated as per their religious beliefs and incited to fight and kill each other)

Racial Violence ((when people are divided and discriminated as per their caste/race and incited to fight and kill each other)

Gender Violence (Violence and discrimination against women)

Psychological Violence (spreading fear, negative values and controlling people through that)

Moral Violence (Those who do nothing against the violence become an accomplice)

Internal Violence manifests as :Our fears, hatred, frustrations, insecurity, enmity, resentments, etc. negative feelings.

A person having Internal Violence is likely to committ external violence;
External violence causes Internal violence in the victim.

Internal & External violence are connected with each other. Both need to be overcome simultaneously and as a process that keeps going on over a period of time.

The time has come for the common citizens to say "Enough is Enough" and take charge of the society.
Criminalisation of the Politics by Corrupt people has vitiated the atmosphere and the result is ever-increasing violence for common people. There is no safety-security of life. there is no education, no jobs, no health, no transportation,not even toilet facility for more than 80% of the population, Inspite of so much talk of so much work being done for last 60 years.

Humanists believe that Human being has stopped evolving as Human. Most of the people are after money either as their ever-increasing-hunger or to secure the next meal which is not certain in today's conditions for most people.

Free Education for all, that is the aim of our Constitution is not met;
Jobs for all is not possible today;
Free Health facilities for all are not on the horizon;
Housing for all is not even a distant dream.

What is going on ? Where is the India that was dreamt by Gandhi, Bose, Bhagat and thousands of others who laid their lives for the positive future of Millions of Indiana ? What are we ding for it ? What do we need to do about it ?

Its time, we pause, think and take the next step.

Humanists believe that if Honest, common citizens come to power, things can change. If Politics can be raised to the level of the best social work, things can change.
For this, the Humanists have taken the mission to cleanse politics and provide a Government consisting of ordinary citizens who are honest, who are not criminals, who are not industrialists' controlled persons, who are not belonging to any particular family, religion or caste, but people who are just plain simple Indians and Human beings.
The Humanist Party of India, formed in 1984 by such Humanists has been working at grass-roots, organising and clarifying people on the Humanist possibilities of India is now organising itself to field candidates across India and invites common people to come together and work to manage the country by themselves.

Humanists believe that we can have the following aims (some of the points of Humanist Manifesto) met within a period of 5 years, by diverting less than 15% of the armament budget :

1. Free and Uniform Education for all, atleast upto Class XII;

2. Free Health facility for all through AIIMS like hospitals built in every district, linked to a functioning primary health centre everywhere;

3. Housing for all;

4. Job for all and a reasonable unemployment pay to those who cannot be given jobs immediately;

5. Profit to all Farmers on their produce and Comprehensive Crop-insurance;

6. Transportation and Communication to be given to 100% of population with comfort and on affordable rates on no-profit basis by the Government.

7. Upper age-limit for all Elected Political posts (President, Prime Minister, Minister, Chief Minister, etc.) to be maximum 70 years.

8. No one can occupy an elected political post (President, Prime Minister, Minister, Chief Minister, etc.) more than twice.

9. Referendum by people on every major policy before a final decision can be taken.

10. Every Elected member will be re-confirmed by the voters every 6 months.

11. Voters will have right to recall their elected representative at any time.
(Technology to conduct such quick votes exists at very cheap rates today and will be used for this purpose, thus bringing in Direct & Real Democracy in practice.)

12. Unbiased discussion with all arms-using group and separatists tendencies to ensure that all citizens of India will get dignified life immediately, thus bringing them all to mainstream of life and socio-political activity.

13. Respect for all cultures and religions without making them the point of differences and discrimination.

14. Comprehensive Peace agreements with all neighbouring countries and proportionate disarmament of conventional as well as nuclear arms with a time-frame target.

This way, we are building the Humanist Manifesto for the country with wide consultation of people. Such a manifesto, becoming the basis of next Government will end the menace of Cast-religion differences, highlighted further by reservations. Reservations will become null & void if education, health and jobs are secured for all, ensuring quality of life and giving them equal opportunities of growth.

The most important thing is for common-honest citizens to come forward to run and manage their own country, treating it as their own family affair, giving it the utmost priority.

It is time we take the next step.

We invite you to begin a new life, not just for yourself but also for the whole nation.
Take the pledge for Nonviolence and begin contributing in the noble task of nation-building as an active participant of the mission.

Let's get in touch and begin working together.

Visit our website and you will see the next steps to be taken, starting with the pledge and then after 21 Dec and you can choose the action that you wish to participate in.

We look forward to working together for our country, our world and build the new Universal Human Nation for all.

Humanist principal of giving the highest value to Human being is expressed as :
"Nothing above the Human Being, No Human below another"

Our contact information :

website :


Please bring the following text of the pledge with you :

Bapu, Today, on 21 Dec 2008, I pledge to begin recognising violence within me and around me.
I pledge to begin working to overcome this violence from within me and helping others to do the same, thereby reducing and finally overcoming violence form society.
I assure you my sincere efforts to work to build the India of your dreams, the India of my dreams, the Nonviolent India that will become the beacon for the world, to build the new Universal Human Nation.

Please forward this mail to others. Let's spread the word.

With best wishes for a wonderful India for all of us!

Sudhir Gandotra

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's address in acceptance of an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Civil Law from the University of Oxford

July 8, 2005

This is an emotional moment for me. Oxford brings back many fond memories I cherish. For this reason, as much as for the intrinsic value of the honour you bestow upon me, I am truly overwhelmed. There can be nothing more valuable than receiving an honorary degree from one's own alma mater. To be so honoured by a university where one has burnt the proverbial midnight oil to earn a regular degree is a most fulfilling experience.

New India, new hope

The world has changed beyond recognition since I was a student here. Yet, some age-old problems endure. Developing countries have found a new voice, a new status, and have acquired a new sense of confidence over the last few decades. As an Indian, I see a new sense of hope and purpose. This new optimism gives us Indians a new sense of self-confidence and it shapes our world view today. It would be no exaggeration to suggest that the success of hundreds of young Indian students and professionals in Universities like Oxford, and elsewhere across the world, has contributed to this renewed self-confidence of a new India.

The economics we learnt at Oxford in the 1950s was also marked by optimism about the economic prospects for the post-War and post-colonial world. But in the 1960s and 1970s, much of the focus of development economics shifted to concerns about the limits to growth. There was considerable doubt about the benefits of international trade for developing countries. I must confess that when I returned home to India, I was struck by the deep distrust of the world displayed by many of my countrymen. We were overwhelmed by the legacy of our immediate past. Not just by the perceived negative consequences of British imperial rule, but also by the sense that we were left out in the cold by the Cold War.

There is no doubt that our grievances against the British Empire had a sound basis. As the painstaking statistical work of the Cambridge historian Angus Maddison has shown, India's share of world income collapsed from 22.6 per cent in 1700, almost equal to Europe's share of 23.3 per cent at that time, to as low as 3.8 per cent in 1952.

Indeed, at the beginning of the 20th Century, "the brightest jewel in the British Crown" was the poorest country in the world in terms of per capita income. However, what is significant about the Indo-British relationship is the fact that despite the economic impact of colonial rule, the relationship between individual Indians and Britons, even at the time of our Independence, was relaxed and, I may even say, benign.

Mahatma and empire

This was best exemplified by the exchange Mahatma Gandhi had here at Oxford in 1931 when he met members of the Raleigh Club and the Indian Majlis. The Mahatma was in England then for the Round Table Conference and during its recess, he spent two weekends at the home of A.D. Lindsay, the Master of Balliol. At this meeting, the Mahatma was asked: "How far would you cut India off from the Empire?" His reply was precise: "From the Empire, entirely; from the British nation not at all, if I want India to gain and not to grieve." He added: "The British Empire is an Empire only because of India. The Emperorship must go and I should love to be an equal partner with Britain, sharing her joys and sorrows. But it must be a partnership on equal terms." This remarkable statement by the Mahatma has defined the basis of our relationship with Britain.

Jawaharlal Nehru echoed this sentiment when he urged the Indian Constituent Assembly in 1949 to vote in favour of India's membership of the Commonwealth. Nehru set the tone for independent India's relations with its former master when he intervened in the Constituent Assembly's debate on India joining the Commonwealth and said:

"I wanted the world to see that India did not lack faith in herself, and that India was prepared to co-operate even with those with whom she had been fighting in the past provided the basis of the cooperation today was honourable, that it was a free basis, a basis which would lead to the good not only of ourselves, but of the world also. That is to say, we would not deny that cooperation simply because in the past we had fought and thus carry on the trail of our past karma along with us. We have to wash out the past with all its evil."

India, Britain as partners

India and Britain set an example to the rest of the world in the way they sought to relate to each other, thanks to the wisdom and foresight of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. When I became the Finance Minister of India in 1991, our Government launched the Indo-British Partnership Initiative. Our relationship had by then evolved to a stage where we had come to regard each other as partners. Today, there is no doubt in my mind that Britain and India are indeed partners and have much in common in their approach to a wide range of global issues.

What impelled the Mahatma to take such a positive view of Britain and the British people even as he challenged the Empire and colonial rule? It was, undoubtedly, his recognition of the elements of fair play that characterised so much of the ways of the British in India. Consider the fact that an important slogan of India's struggle for freedom was that "Self Government is more precious than Good Government." That, of course, is the essence of democracy. But the slogan suggests that even at the height of our campaign for freedom from colonial rule, we did not entirely reject the British claim to good governance. We merely asserted our natural right to self-governance.

Today, with the balance and perspective offered by the passage of time and the benefit of hindsight, it is possible for an Indian Prime Minister to assert that India's experience with Britain had its beneficial consequences too. Our notions of the rule of law, of a constitutional government, of a free press, of a professional civil service, of modern universities and research laboratories have all been fashioned in the crucible where an age-old civilisation met the dominant Empire of the day. These are all elements which we still value and cherish. Our judiciary, our legal system, our bureaucracy, and our police are all great institutions, derived from British-Indian administration and they have served the country well.

Legacies of the Raj

Of all the legacies of the Raj, none is more important than the English language and the modern school system. That is, if you leave out cricket! Of course, people here may not recognise the language we speak, but let me assure you that it is English. In indigenising English, as so many people have done in so many nations across the world, we have made the language our own. Our choice of prepositions may not always be the Queen's English; we might occasionally split the infinitive; and we may drop an article here and add an extra one there. I am sure everyone will agree, however, that English has been enriched by Indian creativity as well and we have given you R.K. Narayan and Salman Rushdie. Today, English in India is seen as just another Indian language.

The idea of India as enshrined in our Constitution, with its emphasis on the principles of secularism, democracy, the rule of law, and, above all, the equality of all human beings irrespective of caste, community, language or ethnicity, has deep roots in India's ancient civilisation. However, it is undeniable that the founding fathers of our republic were also greatly influenced by the ideas associated with the age of enlightenment in Europe. Our Constitution remains a testimony to the enduring interplay between what is essentially Indian and what is very British in our intellectual heritage.

The idea of India as an inclusive and plural society draws on both these traditions. The success of our experiment of building a democracy within the framework of a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-religious society will encourage all societies to walk the path we have trodden. In this journey, both Britain and India have learnt from each other and have much to teach the world. This is perhaps the most enduring aspect of the Indo-British encounter.

It used to be said that the sun never sets on the British Empire. I am afraid we were partly responsible for sending that adage out of fashion. But if there is one phenomenon on which the sun cannot set, it is the world of the English-speaking people, in which the people of Indian origin are the single largest component.

`Give and take'

No Indian has paid a more poetic and generous tribute to Britain for this inheritance than Rabindranath Tagore. In the opening lines of his Gitanjali, Gurudev says:

"The West has today opened its door,

There are treasures for us to take,

We will take and we will also give,

From the open shores of India's immense humanity."

To see the India-British relationship as one of `give and take' at the time he first did was an act of courage and statesmanship. It was, however, also an act of great foresight. As we look back and also look ahead, it is clear the Indo-British relationship is one of `give and take.' The challenge before us today is to see how we can take this mutually beneficial relationship forward in an increasingly inter-dependent world.

My alma mater

I wish to end by returning to my alma mater. Oxford, since the 19th century, has been a centre for Sanskrit learning and the study of Indian culture. The Boden professorship in Sanskrit, and the Spalding professorship in Eastern Religions and Ethics stand testimony to the university's commitment to India and Indian culture. I recall with pride the fact that the Spalding professorship was held by two very distinguished Indians: Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, who later became the President of India, and by Dr. Bimal Krishna Matilal. In the context of the study and preservation of Indian culture, I also wish to recall the contribution of another Oxonian, Lord Curzon, about whose project to preserve and restore Indian monuments, Jawaharlal Nehru said:

"After every other Viceroy has been forgotten, Curzon will be remembered because he restored all that was beautiful in India."

Oxford has sent out many men to rule India. Some stayed behind to become India's friends. Men like Edward Thompson, Verrier Elwin, and many others are remembered in India for their contribution to our life and society.

I always come back to the city of dreaming spires and of lost causes as a student. I am here this time in all humility as the representative of a great nation and a great people.

Are Money and Power the root causes of all terrorism?

Well, that's the truth always - all aggressions, all hostilties, all wars fought till date have been for more wealth. India used to be attacked from time to time by foreigners because of the wealth. Even the East India Company started their seize because India's GDP at the beginning of 18th century was almost same as that of entire Europe's.
Well, all understood. But ther are surely exceptions. Do you think Osama Bin Laden lacked wealth or authority? He could have commanded more authority had he spent his intelligence and energy in his business. Doesn't a Warren Buffet or Bill Gates command more authority than any most people of earth? He had Roti, Kapda, Makan, Sadak, Bijli, Pani everything - whatever you say. But still he has been waging war. So I don't think you can generalize aggresson or terrorism. The case of Jinnah's aggression falls exactly into your classification. Had he got the proper space within Congress he won't have gone for Muslim League or for the matter of fact the Two Nation Theory. He wanted more power and authority. He was the last person to talk about Islamic rule, neither was he a true Muslim from any point nor he had any communal or parochial views. But still he went ahead and sowed the seeds of the biggest communal tensions in this subcontinent. Bush's aggression in Iraq also falls into that category.
Somali piracy, ongoing Naxal terrorism in most districts of  India - to some extent, Bajrang Dal's attack on Hussain and his paintings and their most other vandalism, LTTE terrorism, the Kashmir militancy to some extent and many other can be traced back to either some economic deprivation or some urge to grab more power and authority. Had Raj Thakarey been the CM of Maharastra hw won't have given a damn to non-Marathas in Bombay. Had Bajrang Dal occupied some good positions in central or state governments, I'm sure they won't have fought against Hussain. The entie Babri Masjid was planed to gain political power and it's true that BJP won't have emerged as a national level party alongside Congress without that.
But I can't accept that all acts of terrorism is just for more wealth and power. Yes, Kasab won't have come to Bombay just for 1.5 lakh Paistani Rs had he had some better job. Yes,most of the terorists who actually die in the attacks are very very poor. By giving roti, kapda and makan we can surely stop these helpless people from becoming terrorists. But can you stop an Osama Bin Laden.
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed was a professor at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lahore. He is educated, modern, and also not poor. So why did he become a terrorist? Why did the Saudi Sheiks take part in Afghan jihad in various forms? They are anyway among the richest people in the world. They just drained their wealth for something for which they didn't even get the credit (or discredit). So why did they indulge into all these?
There's an attempt to link the Global Jihad to economic benefits for the Muslims round the world and specially the Arab countries, but is it at all an acceptable justification? The British rule drained so much wealth from India in course of 200 years that we're converted from one of the richest to poorest. But did the Indians launch a Jihad against the British people. A very relevant and interesting reference here is Manmohan Singh's speech in Cambridge:

"There is no doubt that our grievances against the British Empire had a sound basis. As the painstaking statistical work of the Cambridge historian Angus Maddison has shown, India's share of world income collapsed from 22.6 per cent in 1700, almost equal to Europe's share of 23.3 per cent at that time, to as low as 3.8 per cent in 1952.

Indeed, at the beginning of the 20th Century, "the brightest jewel in the British Crown" was the poorest country in the world in terms of per capita income. However, what is significant about the Indo-British relationship is the fact that despite the economic impact of colonial rule, the relationship between individual Indians and Britons, even at the time of our Independence, was relaxed and, I may even say, benign."

So here also the hypethesis that economic deprivation always leads to aggression is proved wrong. The Global Jihad, fumed by the Islamic fanaticism is much more complicated than the "Money Hai to Honey Hai" logic. I don't know what's the best way to tackle this. By improving the economic condition in Pakistan and Kashmir might help a bit in controling people getting inducted into militancy for meagre amounts, but the rich and educated fanatics would still remain.

What's the main cause of all terrorism or aggression??

By Mukesh

As I lean more and more towards atheism, I can not understand the hoop la around religion (opium of the masses as described by Karl Marx, but than the party bosses are gods here !). 

Are we so dumb that we really believe that if we cow down or eliminate a certain community all our problems will be solved ? Look at Pakistan which is self destructing between all the tribes (with diversions in India to hit at the Indian economy and detract attention from their problems !), ditto in Afganisthan and in Iraq the Shias/Sunnis and the Kurds are competing between killing the Yankees and themselves !

Closer  home we have outsiders being chased out of Mumbai etc etc. The list goes on. Among a long list, it is  Lingayats vs Vokkaligas in Karnataka (throw in the back ward classes too), Reddys vs kammas in Andhra, Thevars vs god knows who in TN and RSS vs communists in parts of Kerala (to throw in a political twist !) . Have  not lived up north, but from what I read it is the same there. And I am from a community where a brother allegedly (my lawyer part of precaution !)  shot dead a brother over a dispute of few feet of land when they had hundreds of  acres each ! (At least the Ambani brothers limit themselves to filing suits of 10,000 crore rupees J).

Historically, if we see, most of the Indian Muslims would have a hindu lineage (considering the large populaces that were converted by force during the numerous invasions/rules India endured). But some of them tend to be more muslim than ethnic (?) muslims ! why is this so ?

The point is this is all about power and wealth (it is all about the money, honey !).  When someone in any religion wants power and he cannot get it, he will form a separate sect to become da  boss (if he is powerful enough to get enough followers) !  and the religious leaders in turn associate themselves with political leaders (as a certain swami of a mutt in Karnataka who allegedly utilized the funds parked with the mutt by a certain politician !!). Ditto and vice versa with political parties.

And as resources get scarcer we will become a more divisive society (there are already predictions that the next war will be fought over water). Reminds me about the story of Akbar/ Birbal (or was it Tenali Ramakrishna ?), where Birbal tests the love of a mother monkey by putting the monkey and it is baby in a tank of water and starts filling the tank. The mother monkey protects the baby as much as possible but when things get really bad and she realizes that only one of them will get out of the situation alive,  she abandons the baby to save herself !

So it all boils down to ‘roti, kapada, makaan’ moving on to  ‘bijli, sadak, paani’ and…. Oil if  you were US and Saddam Hussain started collecting Euros for his oil instead of the US$ ! (and the real WMDs were ticking away within US itself in the form of bad housing and credit card loans) and we will continue to camouflage it under caste, creed and religion as suitable.

Indian officials, police and commandos must share the blame for mishandling the Bombay attack

By Edward N. Luttwak 
December 5, 2008

Those who live in Tel Aviv, New York or London need not fear a Mumbai episode. If 10 infantry-trained terrorists were to attack those cities, local police with their own hostage-rescue teams would quickly deal with them. 

But in India, the reality is that local police cannot be expected to react usefully to a terrorist attack, or indeed any form of armed attack, as they would in many other countries -- for example, sealing off the area and summoning help. Instead, Mumbai and India's other mega-cities are policed by semi-illiterate constables who deal only with petty crime as they make their rounds, drinking free tea in cafes and accepting small gifts from shopkeepers for chasing away intrusive beggars. They hardly ever stop inter-religious or inter-caste violence and are reluctant to engage anyone with a firearm. 

Accordingly, in Mumbai there was no police cordon around the huge Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel nor the quite small Nariman House of the Jewish Chabad-Lubavitch group during the sieges, so that terrorists could have been reinforced or could have escaped.

It's not that India is unfamiliar with terrorism. According to recent data from India's Home Ministry, about 7,000 Indians have been killed in terrorist incidents since 2004 -- mostly but not exclusively by Muslim extremists. Obviously the nation has needed a much better-educated, better-paid, better-trained national anti-terrorist police unit for years, but none has been established. Thus the forces available to fight the terrorists in Mumbai were pathetically inadequate in quantity, quality or both.

That was clearly true of Maharashtra' s state anti-terrorism squad, which is headquartered less than 10 minutes from the sites of the attacks but which had a total of 35 officers -- and fewer than 15 on duty. This, to protect a state population of 96 million, 18 million in Mumbai alone. The squad's commander, Hemant Karkare -- who was killed early in the attacks -- was a 54-year-old investigator, not a fighter even at the level of an ordinary infantryman. 

By contrast, India's National Security Guards, formed in 1985, are well trained. But the guards are a military-style commando assault force, with no real experience in civilian hostage rescue, even though that is one of their official missions. With 7,500 trained men, they could have responded adequately in a military way, if only someone had managed to call enough of them in quickly. 

The first terrorist attack was reported about 9:30 p.m. The strategy for alerting the central government failed, so it was Vilasrao Deshmukh, the chief minister of the Maharashtra state government, who got the call to decide what help was needed. He happened to be on a trip in the state of Kerala, hundreds of miles to the south. For 90 minutes, he did nothing of consequence while receiving calls on his cellphone about the attacks. Finally, at 11 p.m., he called Shivraj Patil, the home minister in charge of the nation's security and law enforcement. (After this colossal security failure, Patil resigned Sunday. It took Deshmukh until Wednesday to do the same.) 

Because Patil had no information of his own -- a very peculiar situation for an interior minister anywhere -- he put the key question to Deshmukh: How many commandos of the National Security Guards were needed? Deshmukh replied 200. That may have been more than enough to fight against 10 or 15 infantry-trained terrorists (they were not ninjas or samurai, after all) but was grossly inadequate to deal with even one target as big as the immense Taj hotel. Patil had no competent staff to intervene to determine the right number, which was at least 1,000.

All the government commandos were in New Delhi, more than 700 miles from Mumbai. Even as the mayhem in Mumbai was being broadcast to the world, no one thought to send the commandos in the fastest way possible --
by commandeering several of the passenger jets at New Delhi's airport with crews ready to fly. Instead, an old and slow Ilyushin Il-76 and its sleeping pilots were summoned from the Chandigarh airport 150 miles away. The transport plane did not arrive in New Delhi until 2 a.m. By the time the commandos arrived in central Mumbai, it was 7 a.m., 9 1/2 hours after the first reports of attacks. 

Even then, they had to act with almost no information -- not even an accurate floor plan of the massive Taj hotel -- and of course in grossly inadequate numbers, given the need to sweep the Taj room by room. As a result, the commandos didn't move on the lowest-priority Nariman House of Chabad, the smallest target by far, until Friday morning, more than 40 hours after it was first entered by the terrorists on Wednesday night. They blasted their way inside, and after an interval -- which could have proved fatal to any captives had any still been alive at that point -- other government commandos rappelled from helicopters, in full view of TV cameras and the uncontained crowd pressing in all around. They were greatly applauded as they left after killing the terrorists and finding the five hostages dead inside.

In the end, the attacks in Mumbai were a revealing confrontation between 10 to 15 trained soldiers willing to fight and die and a hopelessly inadequate security system. But India is a democracy with a free press, and what will happen soon, after all the usual recriminations and resignations, will be the creation of a properly decentralized system, backed by an information network. 
It is unfortunate that the thousands of previous deaths from terrorism didn't suffice to reform the system before the Mumbai tragedy. 

Edward N. Luttwak is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Impact of IIT

Reproduced from Impacting the nation, published under "Inspire Innovate Transform" in Times of India, Bangalore, 11th Dec, with reference to upcoming Pan IIT Meet on 18-20 Dec in IIT Madras

"There have been many myths associated with IIT," begins B Santhanam. "For instance, people believe that there aren't too many IITians becoming entrepreneurs and some who believe that IITians pursue their careers abroad and never return to India. This study was conducted in partnership with the Indian Brand Equity Fund (IBEF) and Zinnov Management Consulting who helped us in both design and management. Through the IIT Alumni Impact Study, we have cleared such misconceptions and delivered an explicit picture with regard to the IIT’s contribution to the nation and the world at large. Through a global web-based survey, the study attempts to map the impact of IITians on the global economy across impact areas like entrepreneurship, scientific and technological achievement as well as social transformation, research and leadership over the last 50 years. From a total of 4,500 responses across seven IITs, there have been many interesting findings and surprising conclusions. Some of the findings are:

  1. IIT alumni in senior positions in the industry and government sector across the world today have budgetary responsibility for over USD 885 billion, that's close to 90% of India's GDP
  2. Prior to 2001, four out of 10 alumni, were managing top leadership roles in corporations, educational institutions, research labs, politics and as entrepreneurial heads of their companies
  3. IIT alumni contribute over USD 450 billion (close to 50% of India's GDP) to the economy.
  4. Seven out of 10 alumni are currently based in India and two out of 10 alumni return to India after their stint in other parts of the world.
  5. 54% of the top 500 Indian companies currently have at least one IIT alumnus on their Board of Directors. That apart, these companies have a cumulative revenue which is ten times greater than other companies that IITians are not a part of.
  6. One in 10 IIT alumni has started their own company, with over 40% of them being serial entrepreneurs and 42% of the senior alumni are in top leadership roles.. Of these, twothirds of the companies founded are in India which again re-affirms the contribution of IITians towards the nation-building process

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No Double Standards: India shouldn't be soft on LTTE sympathesizers

It's high time that we stop maintaining double standards with regards to terrorism. When we take serious offense in Pakistan's reluctance to act against the people who have been alleged to plot terror attacks in India, we should also ensure that we come down heavily on people who sympathize with any acts of terrorism elsewhere in the world. It's no secret thatVaiko not only sympathizes with LTTE movement, but also supports the same and speaks vocally to create public support in its favor. In his official site he has declared that "Tamil Eelam has to be the final solution". Also in an interview few years back he had mentioned, "I have met him(Prabhakaran) countless times. He has come to my house and had food with me on many occasions.... I was then with him in the thick jungles and bunkers in Jaffna when the IPKF and Lankan forces attacked the LTTE. I was with Prabhakaran when the war was raging. I was his friend, his companion.They were the best days of life. They were wonderful days". If we get incensed with Pakistan government's open indulgence to someone like Maulana Masood Azhar or Dawood Ibrahim won't the Sri Lankan's also feel the same about Indian's handling of Vaiko? Like Pakistan, we'd also arrested Vaiko twice but never taken any action - something that might happen to Maulana Azhar now that he has been kept under house arrest under intense Indian and international pressure to act against him. Also we've Karunanidhi writing a poem in praise of LTTE's chief of political wing S PTamilselvan, who was killed in November last year. He wrote, "A face always smiling; a heart that broke down all opposition; a youthful man with a heart as strong as the Himalayas; a commander who developed at thefoot steps of Balasingham, the old lion; a noble youth who considered hislife manure for his liberation struggle; one who was like life to us, like a brother to us, oh, Selva, he who etched his fame on every Tamil heart, and every Tamil home, where have you gone?". How would we react if some eminent politician from Pakistan writes similar things about the nineterrorists killed in the Bombay carnage? Isn't it double standards? The people of Sri Lanka is thinking in the same way as we're thinking about Pakistan, whom we hold responsible for all our terror attacks. The anger of Sri Lankans is quite visible in many blog sites frequented by Sri Lankan world wide. With reference to Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Sri Lanka one of the comments in a blog site is, "Basil Rajapakse should go to India and try to defuse the tensions between Pakistan and India.... They are now trying to flex their muscles in the region.....". Another comment says,"Karunanidhi, why don't you come yourself and get the real account fromthe neutral Tamils not the terrorists or their supporter. We will give youthe list of Tamil leaders who were murdered by your friend Prabhakaran from Durayappa to Kadirgamar".
India Government should take a strong stand against such instances ofindulgences and public sympathy towards LTTE. Otherwise it doesn't haveany moral ground to confront Pakistan.

Useful Links:

  1. Vaiko's interview - he has mentioned of his support for Prabhakaran and LTTE
  2. Vaiko's web-site - has detailed backgrounds and history of LTTE movement
  3. Comments by Sri Lankans - about India's handling of LTTE related issues
  4. Official Website of Peace Secretariat of LTTE
  5. Account of LTTE terrorism

Friday, December 5, 2008

How were the past terrorist movements tackled in India?

Just think about it - the only two armed revolutions tackled in India till date are the Punjab insurgency and the Bengal Naxal movement and both were tackled with utter violation of Human Rights. There are million cases of "Hazar Churasi ka Ma". Most colleges didn't have batches between 1971-1973 because majority of the students were just killed. Even the 1972 batch of IIT KGP is missing. Didn't that help in the long run? Does any one now even say of those killings. People have totally forgotten because a greater mishap was avoided in doing so. Ditto in the case of Punjab problem.  You can't talk of Human Rights when tackling terrorism. So history tells me what works and what not. People may argue that doing such things will create many more terrorists. But have you heard of any Bengali terrorist coming out of the ashes of the Naxal killings? Have you ever heard of any Sikh militant after 1985? No. Because such fear was instilled into the minds of Bengalis and Punjabis that even for generations people won't forget that. Every 'para' in Calcutta still bears the burnt of those killings and atrocities. One of our neighbors has been crippled for ever while traying to escape a police killing spree. I've seeing that Kaku like that ever since. Every other family has a  "Hazar Churasi ka Maa". Does anyone blame those police actions now? No, because people learnt the hard way that was the only way to tackle the problem at that time.
So if that worked twice in the past, why shouldn't it work now? Well, everyone knows the reason - they were Hindu and Sikhs and now we're talking about Muslim. C'mon, let's not be hypocrites. I've heard K P S Gill saying innumerable times that he would take just a few months to fix the terrorism for ever if he is given his way. If he was allowed to act in Punjab why won't he be allowed now?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Are the rcenent terrorist attacks different from the Punjab Insurgency or the 70s' Naxal Movement in Bengal?

by Debashish Sarkar

There are major differences between the elements behind the Mumbai attacks and the Naxalites, or for that matter the Sikh problem of the 80s. (1) The problems associated with the naxalites and the Sikhs were primarily internal problems local to certain areas of the country. This one has international roots. And, in some form, claims to speak on behalf of a religion that has the second largest number of world followers. (2) The earlier problems had some form of agenda, or grievance. With this one it is not clear what these people want except to create pandemonium. (3) The people associated with the Sikh or the Naxal movements were not so demented to be willing to give up their lives in spectacular ways for some quirky ideological cause and in the process take innocent civilians with them. Even seasoned guerrillas do not do so. These terrorist outfits, led by some extremely smart well educated leaders, will stoop to anything.

9/11 taught the world several things. Perhaps most importantly it taught that unilateral attacks are useless. You need a backing of allies in todays world. If India plans on attacking a rogue state like Pakistan verbally or by using the military, it will not just need allies supporting its plan, but assisting in the attacks as well, however justified the attacks may be. Also, it showed that targeting groups of people, or profiling them, is a pointless exercise. It is simply impossible to do so in a nationwide sense. In America, the hawkish group that rose to prominence after 9/11 have all gone --- Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Wolfowitz, Bush, Rove and the list goes on and on.

With these terror outfits, we are dealing with perhaps the most significant threat to world peace, if there is any. An emotional passionate response will be woefully inadequate here. In most cases this kind of response will backfire. What is required here is deliberation, thinking, reading and engaging in a dialogue wherever possible that has more questions than answers to even begin chipping at the problem. And that begins not at the Government level, where I am sure the best minds are at work, but with citizens across the world like us.


Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I am a typical mouse from Mumbai. In the local train compartment which has capacity of 100 persons, I travel with 500 more mouse. Mouse at least squeak but we don't even do that.

Today I heard your speech. In which you said 'NO BODY WOULD BE SPARED'. I would like to remind you that fourteen years has passed since serial bomb blast in Mumbai took place. Dawood was the main conspirator. Till today he is not caught. All our bolywood actors, our builders, our Gutka king meets him but your Government can not catch him. Reason is simple; all your ministers are hand in glove with him. If any attempt is made to catch him everybody will be exposed. Your statement 'NOBODY WOULD BE SPARED' is nothing but a cruel joke on this unfortunate people of India.

Enough is enough. As such after seeing terrorist attack carried out by about a dozen young boys I realize that if same thing continues days are not away when terrorist will attack by air, destroy our nuclear reactor and there will be one more Hiroshima.

We the people are left with only one mantra. Womb to Bomb to Tomb. You promised Mumbaikar Shanghai what you have given us is Jalianwala Baug.

Today only your home minister resigned. What took you so long to kick out this joker? Only reason was that he was loyal to Gandhi family. Loyalty to Gandhi family is more important than blood of innocent people, isn't it?

I am born and bought up in Mumbai for last fifty eight years. Believe me corruption in Maharashtra is worse than that in Bihar. Look at all the politician, Sharad Pawar, Chagan Bhujbal, Narayan Rane, Bal Thackray , Gopinath Munde, Raj Thackray, Vilasrao Deshmukh all are rolling in money.  Vilasrao Deshmukh is one of the worst Chief minister I have seen. His only business is to increase the FSI every other day, make money and send it to Delhi so Congress can fight next election. Now the clown has found new way and will increase FSI for fisherman so they can build concrete house right on sea shore. Next time terrorist can comfortably live in those house , enjoy the beauty of sea and then attack the Mumbai at their will.

Recently I had to purchase house in Mumbai. I met about two dozen builders. Everybody wanted about 30% in black. A common person like me knows this and with all your intelligent agency & CBI you and your finance minister are not aware of it. Where all the black money goes? To the underworld isn't it? Our politicians take help of these goondas to vacate people by force. I myself was victim of it. If you have time please come to me, I will tell you everything.

If this has been land of fools, idiots then I would not have ever cared to write you this letter. Just see the tragedy, on one side we are reaching moon, people are so intelligent and on other side you politician has converted nectar into deadly poison. I am everything Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Schedule caste, OBC, Muslim OBC, Christian Schedule caste, Creamy Schedule caste only what I am not is INDIAN. You politician have raped every part of mother India by your policy of divide and rule.

Take example of former president Abdul Kalam. Such a intelligent person, such a fine human being. You politician didn't even spare him.  Your party along with opposition joined the hands, because politician feels they are supreme and there is no place for good person.

Dear Mr Prime minister you are one of the most intelligent person, most learned person. Just wake up, be a real SARDAR. First and foremost expose all selfish politician. Ask Swiss bank to give name of all Indian account holder. Give reins of CBI to independent agency. Let them find wolf among us. There will be political upheaval but that will better than dance of death which we are witnessing every day.  Just give us ambient where we can work honestly and without fear. Let there be rule of law. Everything else will be taken care of.

Choice is yours Mr. Prime Minister. Do you want to be lead by one person or you want to lead the nation of 100 Crore people?

Prakash B. Bajaj

Bombay Attack: From the Heart of A Fellow IPS Officer

Dear friends,

As I write to my batchmates of business school, I grieve the death of my batchmate of IPS – Ashok Kamte in the terror attack in Mumbai. Kamte was a very bold, professional, sincere cop who was also a National level weightlifter – very brave and handsome. I grieve his death. But the reason I write to all of you is this -

Another Terror attack in Mumbai and I expect the same stereotype stands from the political parties, same response from the media and the same anguish and feeling of helplessness from the public. Rightly so, they ask, what is the Government doing about it? The opposition parties will exploit the situation to say that the Government has been soft on terror, should invoke POTA like legislation to curb terror, should hang Afzal Guru, etc. If legislations stop terror attacks then Maharashtra should have been safe – it has MCOCA in place (MCOCA has all the ingredients of POTA). Even Delhi has DCOCA, but the terror strikes happened here too. If  deterrent strong action of hanging terrorists is an answer, then Punjab terrorism should have being put to an end after hanging the assassins of Indira Gandhi. But it did not. While legislations and awarding deterrent punishments are very essential in our fight against terror, then are by no means sufficient to put an end to terror.

The public at large rightfully ask – if US could stop terror attacks after 9/11, why can't our security system do the same here? Friends, we will continue to have such attacks till we as a nation and as a society do not decide to invest in the police of the country. We expect a first-world police reaction from a third-world police. You will be surprised to know that even today many of our police stations do not have vehicles. As for connectivity amongst police stations, while police stations (PS) have radio communication sets (RT sets), in some States the PS do not have an extra battery to keep the sets working – this means that they switch open their RT sets every two hours to check if there is any event of any consequence!! This is when even the poor in our country can afford mobile sets!!! We still have weapons that are outdated. We have no centralized database to check on identity of person detained. This implies that if I detain a suspicious person in Delhi and he says that he belongs to some village Begumangalam in district Nalgonda in AP, I have no way to immediately verify his identity - unlike the US where a centralized databank will let you check his antecedents in a matter of few seconds. While there is about 1 policeman for every 300 people in US, in India we have one policeman for every 1000 people – and mind you the cop of US is supported with technology, communication and cyber connectivity and vehicles, which increases his capabilities manifolds. Cases take decades to get conviction, unlike the US where it is disposed off in months time. What will a criminal be afraid of, if he is not punished? Police leaders are hardly kept in their places of postings for a significant time so that they can improve situations – I, for example, have been transferred 27 times in 9 years of active policing in UP!!! Political insulation from professional work does not exist. We always talk of Intelligence failure – but what infrastructure we have there is a matter of concern. There are many more issues of manpower, equipment, infrastructure and the like. But we as a society are not bothered – or is it that human life, and more so a life of a policeman, is too cheap? Or is it that we are not aware of the deficiencies in our security systems?

Each political party will make use of another terror attack as an oppurtunity to malign the other and claim that it will improve security situation when it comes back to power. As if POTA or hanging Afzal Guru will! The reaction of the Government is also on the same lines – will legislate a strong anti-terror law, will create a federal agency, will bring in police reforms, etc. Haven't we heard the Governments in power repeat the same after each terror attack, but still nothing happens. All political parties, whether in power or outside, are the same. They misuse the police system to meet their selfish ends. Unfortunately these terror attacks are only 'action events' for the media to keep people hooked on to the TVs. But hardly we have informed and consistent discussions in media to improve the security situation.

Friends, the reason I write this mail is because I feel that you all need to make yourself aware of the realities of the police. Police is hated, to say the least. But because it is hated, you don't keep yourself away from the malaise and refuse to raise a voice to improve it. Police impacts you on a day-to-day basis – your sense of security and dignity depends upon that. But why do we, educated people, not raise enough hue and cry so that the political parties are forced to change the policing system and hence improve your security? Friends, please become aware of the realities of policing and beware of rhetoric of political parties – the solutions they offer are  superficial and will not improve security situation. You can't build an edifice of security organisation with a weak and hollow foundation. 

Excuse me for my outburst and discontinuous thoughts – I kept writing what ever came to my mind. But please make yourself aware and let others know where the lacunae lie and build public opinion so that security systems improve. Else please be prepared for mindless killings and falling policemen (by the way, did you know that the number of policemen who have died in the line of duty over the last 10 years is more than the total Army personnel who were killed in all the wars together since 1947? We lose almost 3 policemen per day!!).