Sunday, January 30, 2005

White Weekend

It snowed in this weekend.Had nothing to do other than take pics from my apartment.

Let it snow

Artist at work

Who said it's cold?.

White birds on a old

My neighbours having fun.


Dude where is my car?
white rails

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy and the Bomb

"Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy and the Bomb" is a book by strobe talbott the former united states deputy secretary of state. It’s his recollection of the talks United States conducted with India and pakistan after Pokaran 2.

The United states team headed by strobe and the indian team headed by jaswanth singh met fourteen times between june 98 and sep 2000.Strobe goes through all the meetings and the environment surrounding with necessary background details.Like the Narashima Rao govt's effort on testing the nuclear device and how US stopped it etc. He is not using any hard language, he is not blaming or accusing anyone, he is not praising a lot either (jaswanth being the exception), he is just describing what he felt at that time. The narration was, hmmm.. How should i put it, very DIPLOMATIC.

He definitely has a favorable opinion about india and high regards for jaswanth singh.He states that clearly at the start itself.
As one of the architects of the Indian strategy, Jaswant Singh came closer to achieving his objective in the dialogue than I did to achieving mine. Insofar as what follows is that story, it stands as an exception to Dean Acheson’s maxim that the author of a memorandum of conversation never comes out second best.
Apart from revelations like the famous "George fernandes strip search".The book gives lot of insight into different personalities, the strategies of different teams and diplomacy itself.

I was surprised by the congress/sonia contribution on these tasks. The US team which wanted india to sign the CTBT, thought they can can put pressure on the government through the opposition which was headed by sonia gandhi that time. Here are some excerpts on this regard

Strobe meets sonia first time after pokaran 2.She hears all his talks on india signing CTBT, but never gives him an opinion on what is congress's stand on the issue. He leaves the meeting with these thoughts
I found myself thinking about the few glimpse i'd had of her mother-in-law indira gandhi,who started it all with pokran I, back in 1974.Sonia was an altogether softer -seeming figure,But on the issue of indian bomb, they were very much in sync with each other, and with vajpayee as well.

Strobe after second meeting with sonia
Even more than in my first meeting with her six months before sonia gandhi made clear that Congress party wasn't going to allow the appearance of any daylight between itself and the BJP on the nuclear issue. Previously she had been merely diffident and evasive on the subject, this time she was steely-or, as i remarked to Dick, 'almost Indira -like'.

Clinton during his presidential visit meets sonia gandhi to press the CTBT issue. After the meeting clinton talks to strobe

For someone who smiles a lot and has gentlest of manners, that's one tough lady. she never said 'no' but she made mighty clear she wasn't saying 'yes' to anything that will get in the way of playing hardball with vajpayee.

A very intresting incident in the book.Strobe after being exposed to long hours of cold at the "Beating Retreat" function in New Delhi goes back to the hotel fearing he is going to be sick the next day.
Fortunately i was attended by the liveried 21 yr old personal butler named arun, who came with the VIP suite in Mayura sheraton. Dressed in his white tie, stretched collar and tie. He was quick to clean and press my own considerably less classy wardrobe.
Later as a footnote he says
About the time i left govt in early 2001,I got an email out of the blues from arun wishing me well and updating me on his career. He had made his way to california and despite the slump in silicon valley had found a job in high tech.
Like the character that comes in the movie for a few minutes, but impresses us more than the hero. Charismatic clinton impressed me in the very few pages about him.The US govt ties india signing the CTBT as a precondition for the presidential visit to India.But later when india refuses to sign the CTBT,Clinton still decides to go ahead with his presidential trip. When Strobe reminds Clinton that waiving all the preconditions that he had made would be stared down and would be devaluing american power. For that clinton says
Listen we can't be too hung up about any suggestion that someone else is pushing us around. We’re dealing with people here, who think we are the one's who have been pushing them around. They think we're always laying down the law and telling them what they have to do. Sometimes being big and powerful means recognizing that you can afford to roll with a punch. we can take the occasional bump in the road as long as we are moving along the right road.It is easier for us than anybody since we are so strong and everyone knows it.
Right before clinton's visit a group of advisors advice him not to visit pakistan as 1.Musharaff govt was not doing anything to rein Al Qeda and taliban 2.His visit there would be approving the military dictatorship of musharaff and 3.he would loose some of the ground that he gained in india if he visited pakistan on the same trip.on hearing the 3rd point clinton blews his top, and expresses his annoyance at the indians for acting as if they had a veto over where else he went in the neighborhood.
Those guys owe me something, and they've got to cut me a little slack. Iam not going to pakistan for my health,for God's sake!.Iam going to try to keep us in the play there - both for what happens inside the country and for getting them to cut out the bad stuff they're doing in the region, and that means kashmir as well as afghanistan.
The US Secret service makes a direct appeal to clinton advising him not to take the trip to pakistan because of the danger of assassination. Clinton puts his feet down and goes ahead with his pakistan trip.

Clinton who was always running late for his engagements in india, was late for his joint parliament address also. He wrote his speech with the assistance on the way from the hotel to the parliament.And was correcting the speech and adding taglines till he stepped on the dias.

As the time period covers kargil also, there is lot of information on kargil and US role in the crisis. During the kargil conflict Nawaz sherif rushes to USA ,the pakistan army which is against it doesn't provide him with an aircraft for his trip to USA. Fearing for his and his family members life, he takes a PIA plane and lands in USA with his whole family as if he is coming there for asylum.Jaswanth's prediction of a coup during kargil becomes true later.

Overall a very interesting book from an insider.

Strobe interview regarding the book on rediff

Read the first chapter of the book here

More interviews about the book

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Politics of Padmashree

PadmaShree Mithun Chakrabarty

My guess turned out right.Padmashree to SRK is a political award.Well they predicted the winner back in december itself.check out the report in statesman.Another great thing that article says is that they were considering mithun for the 4th highest civilian award.Just can't beleive it.

Given the fact that this is a political award.My guess is sitting MP Govinda will be getting the Padmashree very soon and don't be surprised if the movie title "Padmashree Laloo prasad" becomes true.

Clipping from the Statesman

Shahid Pervez in New Delhi
Dec. 23. —The Union defence minister has recommended the nomination of the Bollywood star from Bengal Mithun Chakrabarty for the Padmashree.He recently sent a letter to home minister Mr Shivraj Patil, recommending Mithun’s name, sources said. A recipient of a couple of national awards, Mithun’s career spans over 25 years.

But, interestingly, speculation is rife that Mr Patil is interested in getting the Padmashree for reigning Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. However, this was not confirmed officially.

Shah Rukh is considered close to 10, Janpath. By his own admission, he is a fan of Mrs Sonia Gandhi also. Soon after the Congress’ victory in the Lok Sabha polls, Shah Rukh had called on Mrs Gandhi to “salute her bid to give up the PM’s post”. He enjoys warm relations with the Gandhi siblings also.

It will be interesting to see who wins the Padmashree race — the “current king of box office” or the fading star of yesteryear with proven acting credentials. Mithun is perceived to be a Left Front supporter and has reportedly become close to Mr Mukherjee recently. The Prime Minister and the home minister, sources said, play key roles in finalising the lists for Padmashree and other such distinguished awards.

Padma Shree / Padma Bhushan For Sale

Does Sharukh khan deserve Padma Shree?

This guy is an average actor, who hasn't learned or matured in his acting since the start of his career.He can't express more than two emotions, and here he is, a Padma Shree award winner.

I dont know on what criteria he was given the Padma Shree.The award committee should stop giving awards just for the reason that they have to give it to some one every year and stop disgracing the previous award winners.This is even worse than the Padma Bhushan that was awarded to Rajini kanth.

The only possible reason that i can see is ,he might be joining congress soon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Want Free books??

Check out can leave your book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise. You can check out the site for books that has been released in your city

Only people in Goa and Karnataka seem to freeing the books in india, time to do it in Chennai and all the other cities. HAPPY HUNTING.

Happy R-Day

Searching for Everardo : A Story of Love, War, and the CIA in Guatemala

That is Jeniffer Harbury and Everardo.You think they are an Unlikely pair??.Yes, even Jeniffer accepts that in her book "Searching for Everardo : A Story of Love, War, and the CIA in Guatemala".True story of Jennifer harbury's efforts to find her lost husband.

She goes on to say how there childhood and life style were a mathematical inverse till they met each other.Jennifer was a connecticut born prep school daughter of an yale professor.she finished law and became a civil right's lawyer, On the other hand Efrain Bamaca Velasquez also know as comandante Everardo was born into a guatemalan peasent family.He lost his mother at an early age, had to bear with the discrimination of his step mother,had to work in the plantations till he joined the resistance. Jennifer Meets Everardo in the guatemalan volcanoes in 1990 ,when she was writing her other book the "Bridge of courage".Everardo is a commander by then.

Knowing that Jennifer likes him,Everardo expresses his love for her.When Jennifer leaves the mountains after her one month stay expires, They exchange mails.when everardo comes to mexico for peace talks, she also goes there and the relationship develops. There relationship ends up in marriage in her texas house in 1991 .Jennifer leaves everardo to attend to her dieing friend in New Hampshire and everardo goes to the jungles again. After a few weeks she gets the message that there was an ambush and everardo just disappeared after the ambush, nobody knew what happened to him.

First jennifer starts searching for everardo without letting the military know that she is his wife. She ask's the guatemalan govt for exhumation.Which is to remove unidentified bodies from the grave to identify. But she never gets the permission from the govt.When she almost gives up on everardo ,a rebel member who was captured, escapes the prison to tell her that he saw everardo alive in the prison.

After many failed attempts she goes public saying that she is his wife and starts asking about everardo.The army says that he was killed in that ambush.She asks persmission for exhumation and goes through the painful process of trying to identify her husband in half decayed bodies.

It is late 1993 and Jennifer still does not know whether everardo, who went missing in early 1992 is alive or not. So she decides to confront the goverment with a fast.The fast to confront the government was unthinkable at that time in guatemala.She goes on fast for 7 days and gets the needed media attention for her case.

But nothing happens and another year goes buy.This time she goes on an indefinite fast in guatemala. Drawing huge media attention.Mike wallace of 60 minutes tells Jennifer that a reliable source in CIA told him that everardo was captured alive.

After 30 days Jennifer's health deteriorates, and the military waits to take her away in the pretext of hospitalization. Knowing the fact that getting out of the country would be hard if she gets hospitalized. Jennifer ends her fast and returns to washington dc.Jennifer meets lot of senators and human rights group for her cause.The govt oficially announces that everardo was captured alive and they don’t know anything else.

when Jennifer presses for more information and files regarding everardo, the US government becomes unresponsive and uses delaying tactics.So jennifer goes on a fast again, this time in Washington DC and it is march 1995.On her 10th day of fasting she gets call from senator torcelli who explains her that he got information from various source that Everardo was captured alive and was killed in 1992 on the orders of
col.julio roberto alpirez who was a paid asset of CIA, ending her search for everardo.

A very intresting book.It is never dull ,it is kind of an indian masala movie.It's got love, women sentiments, villans and violence. The first 100 pages of the book is all love.Jennifer expresses her love in a subtle and poetic way.I felt the romanctic gazes of Barbra Streisand in "The Way we were", in jennifers words.It was very romantic.

Jennifer suddenly switches to second person narration when ever everardo comes into picture. So there is a switch from a dreamy poetic narration to the practical problems that she confronts in finding everardo.
It is hardly a matter of love at first sight, is it,everardo?.You think iam a CIA agent and I, half blinded in the sun, think you are an adolescent standing over there, almost fragile looking in the shadows of the forest.
Jennifer's fast were all aimed at getting media attention. She clearly plans for it.she informs all news people and human rights organization before the fasts. She reads all books to see how she can sustain long periods of fasting. I think that's the reason why Bobby sands who was on fast for 66 days gets mentioned and not thileepan, who didn't even take water and died in 12 days.

The book might have ended with the Information of everardo's death.But Jenniffer's search for truth is still continuing. she caused a stir by taking the CIA to the court,for covering up the truth. She is a human rights activist and she is fighting for various causes mainly in guatemala.

Jennifer home page
Case against CIA
Clinton Apology

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Firefox breaks 20,000,000 downloads!

Firefox the next generation browser breaks 20,000,000 downloads. Unfortunately the lead developer of firefox Ben Goodger just switched to google, fueling the rumour that google is working on its own browser 'Gbrowser'.Firefox on the other hand is planning to take 10% of the browser market by this year end.

Are you still using Internet explorer??.Try Firefox

Spread FireFox


by Tak Toyoshima

Monday, January 24, 2005

I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala

My mother was kidnapped. She was raped by the commanding officers. They shaved her head and cut off her ears, cut her bit by bit. Disfigured and starved, my mother started to lose consciousness and was in her death throes. They gave her medical treatment and when she was litle better, they started raping her again and when she was at the point of death again. They took her clothes to the town hall to exhibit that she was in there hands and told everyone that she wanted to see her childrens. It was a ploy to get the other family members.
When they saw that none of her children were coming down to collect my mother's clothes, the army took her to a place near the town where it was very hilly. They put her under a tree and left her there, alive but dying. They didn't let my mother turn over, and her face was so disfigured, cut and infected, she could barely make any movement by herself. They left her there dying for four or five days, enduring the sun, the rain and the night. My mother was covered in worms, because in the mountains there is a fly which gets straight into any wound, and if the wound isn't tended in two days, there are worms where the fly has been. Since all my mother's wounds were open, there were worms in all of them. She was still alive. My mother died in terrible agony.

That was Rigoberto's mother. Gruesome wasn't it?.This is just one death story from many such in the book, "I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala". It is set on the backdrop off one of the bloodiest civil war.Rigoberta Menchu Tum is a quiche indian,one of the largest of the 22 ethinic groups of guatemala.She was 22 when she told her story to Elisabeth burgos debray, wife of the Marxist Regis Debray.Debray published her biography in 1983, which catapulted rigoberta into international fame and ultimately to the nobel peace prize in 1992. Making her the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

Rigoberta potraits the whole story in black and white.Good vs evil.where the mayan indians are totally good and the ladino /military is totally bad.The situation at that time was such that you wont live to see the next day if you talk against the government. People just disappear, heck villages disappear. Lawyers, judges, union leaders and any one who talks against the govt will disappear or will be killed in unfortunate accidents. None of the captured rebels survived, they were tortured in the most excruciating manners. massacers, mass graves ,there was nothing to stop the military. Very few Human rights organization were ready to go to operate in guatemala during that time.The blood thirsty military killed around 200,000 of its own people.This was a story that came out when the military was in midst of an ethinic cleansing.

Except for her sisters almost everybody dies in rigoberta's family. Filipie her brother dies in the finca or the coffee/cotton estates they work.
They sprayed the coffee plants with pesticides by plane while we were working , as they usually did, and my brother coudn't stand the fumes and died of intoxication.

Another brother get's kidnapped.Rigoberta's and neighboring villages were commanded to attend a meeting to be held in a nearby town. At the outdoor meeting, many kidnapped indigenous were shown to the crowd in their tortured states - her brother's
head was shaved and slashed. He had no nails. He had no soles to his feet. The earlier wounds were suppurating from infection…" After lecturing the indigenous, the soldiers poured petrol on their prisoners and burnt them all alive.

Rigoberta's father Vincent menchu was an indian leader. They were protesting against the govt in the capital and took refuge inside the spanish embassy thinking that they will be safe inside the embassy. The military burn's down the embassy, burning everyone alive.The spanish ambassador escapes the embassy minutes before the fire.

After all these, rigoberta learns spanish and other mayan languages, becomes a union activist to fight against the oligarchy.This book bought the plight of the indigenous people to the attention of the world. People where outraged, Rigoberta became the international organizor for the resistance movement in guatemala.This book entered the syllabus of lot of american universities.

More than half of the book is about there customs and culture and the rest is the biography of rigoberta menchu. The narration switches back and forth between the poor and simple tribal customs of the indians and rigoberta's life story with the atrocities committed by the military on the indians. It has lot of stories on the atrocities and the torture techniques of the military, which will move anyone who is reading the book.

There was another book released in the late 90's called "Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of all Poor Guatemalans" by david stoll which says that Rigoberta menchu has falsified lot of information about her and that Elisabeth debray has painted the whole story in a marxist narration style.Some people even appealed for the Nobel committee to revoke the prize.But the committee was agains't it.

There are lot of pro and con discussion regarding the validity of what rigoberta said.But none the less those kind of atrocities did happen, if not with menchu with some other indian women. And this book brought the international attention to this beautiful country.

more links

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