Friday, September 19, 2014

We salute our (Punjabi) overlords

After prolonged deliberation the choice for Viceroy has been finally declared. Richard Rahul Verma is a close associate of the next-in-line-to-the-throne Madam President. A master-stroke by Obama no doubt. Now we have an Indian-American under secretary for South Asia (Neha Biswal), an I-A ambassador and all that remains is for Hilary Clinton to declare Dr Ami Bera from California as her choice for V-P.

We are not sure whether to be proud (first time an xx-American has been appointed to an xx country) or parochial (why not a Bong or Mallu ambassador, why do Punjus always get to go first?). Then again we are given to understand that when appointed to important government posts (also university faculty positions) in the USA you have to declare that you have not been knowingly associated with communists. One cannot be too careful these days you know.

Richard Verma remembers the time when he was a little kid, seeing his mom in her sari waiting for a bus to go to work in sub-zero centigrade temperatures in blowing and drifting snow. His father had emigrated from Punjab, arriving in New York City in 1963 with $24 in his pocket, and his mother and siblings had followed a few years later. ...

Honor restored

....Biswas's lawyer Ravi Batra said in a statement to PTI that the "honour" of Biswas, Indian diplomats and India has been has been "vindicated" with the court order. The settlement acknowledged that Biswas was an "honor student" at the time of her "false arrest".... 
As a stereotype this is at least half true, Indian students in the USA (and elsewhere) will be focused on grades and are expected to do well in studies, while Americans will look at high-school and college as more of a life experience.

Indians are likely to be unfamiliar with US harassment laws and zero-tolerance principles and the fact that the criminal justice system will not hesitate to take action against elites (unlike in India where things can be hushed up).

As a daughter of a diplomat Krittika Biswas is not a typical case.  She benefited from strong support from the Indian diplomatic establishment and (we presume) did not lack in financial backing. This will not be true for middle class Indian kids in search of "US degree" who may be wholly destroyed by their own thoughtless actions or malicious behavior forthcoming from fellow (american) students.

We understand the need for emotional closure (and lawyer-ly hyperbole) but we are uncomfortable about all the drum beating about violated honor being restored of Ms Biswas, Indian Foreign Service and India (it is a bit like how Dr Aafia Siddiqui is described by patriots as a daughter of Pakistan....also unfairly targeted by the Americans). It was a false case against a civilian who was not representing India officially, and the "crime" was probably upgraded due to zero-tolerance principles adopted by US schools. 

Still the question remains, why was the student who actually committed the crime not charged? Without any other exculpatory information it does lend credence to the charge that the indictment (and arrest) was driven by "ethnicity" and/or a "tragic rush to accuse."

Naw (55) beats Aye (45)

The British have always loved partition...for other people. In each case the justification was that the sub-nations are unable to co-exist side by side. This is when the British played not an insubstantial role in stoking the communal fires - the (in)famous divide and rule policy.

The two nation theory which is best summarized as "our heroes are their villains" has no doubt been hugely compounding misery of all the communities involved.. The wrongs of the past should have been dealt with a truth and reconciliation commission (just like in South Africa).  

The irony is that separation did not reduce the rancor one iota: Pakistan-India and Israel-Palestine have fought four (official) bitter wars, things are not too much better in Northern Ireland.

But when it comes to Britain herself, the answer was made clear today. Partition is never a solution to the problems, it also makes all of us poor as people. The cultural lines are never clearly drawn and purity is over-rated. Speaking of India specifically, the answer to a prosperous future is to encourage more secularism (and mixed marriages aka love jihad) not to create more ghettos and breed intolerance.

The bad blood that has been created over this partition fight will not (easily) go back into the bottle. The polls are clear on this point: the English now resent the Scots just as much as the Scots look down upon the English. The dividing lines will be sharper once a vote is announced for a Brexit from the European Union. Alex Salmond and Nigel Farage are smart ambitious politicians, they are unlikely to take no for an answer.

All that said we are happy for the Brits. Yes, it is certainly better together.
Scottish voters have rejected independence, deciding to remain part of the United Kingdom after a historic referendum that shook the country to its core.The decision prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to the British political establishment. Scots voted 55 per cent to 45 per cent against independence in a vote that saw an unprecedented turnout.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

An Appeal for Alan

Even if we are a bit too cynical and feel that (a) the appeal for Alan Henning by British Imams and muslim organizations is an exercise in public relations (not in my name etc.) and that (b) the Caliphate folks are unlikely to listen to anyone (heck, even Al Qaeda has requested them to let the hostages go free), the important point still remains that a man is (maybe) alive now, he will certainly be dead later. If it really helped we would recommend sorcery and magic (not really).

It is a terrible time for his family as they live in zero hope from day to day. Our sympathies would be meaningless, so the best we can do is watch and wait in silence.
Henning, a taxi driver, was kidnapped within 30 minutes of crossing from Turkey into Syria. He had volunteered to drive an ambulance full of medical aid as part of a community-funded charity trip organised by volunteers from Bolton, England, and the UK Arab Society.

The UK is Greater India

God save the Queen & her United Kingdom on this momentous day. Niall Ferguson makes a wonderful point that Scotland is AfPak (Afghanistan is the highlands, Pakistan the theocratic lowlands) and England is sort of India. Who knows maybe one days we can re-confederate and Scotland staying demonstrates the precedent, Unity is the principal principle of this new age of mankind.