Tag Archives: India

Heirs of hope

15 Aug

Heirs of Hope

Happy Independence Day, my dear readers!

Today, my country shimmers with the bright light of optimism, enlivened by the hues and harmonies of patriotism. More than 70 years ago, the struggle for independence preceded all other struggles. We were a people without a state. In the darkest time, the brightest light emerged from a subject race to cultivate courage, harvest hope, and fight for our place under the sun. It is up to us to carry this narrative of freedom forward to its desired culmination.

Our struggles are different today (fighting  bone-deep corruption, narrow nationalism, casteism, exploitative social and economic structures, and divisive politics), but they still demand a capacious commitment to the country, not indifference and cynicism. Indigence of the spirit serves a poor master. Do away with the deadwood of defeatism and engraft into the body politic the green shoots of constructive attitudes and actions.

To those mocking the celebration of our independence day either out of pessimism or despair at the years of malign neglect of the nation, yes, it is important to celebrate a day that symbolizes the values and sacrifices of the people who passed on to us the torch of freedom. Now it is up to each of us to keep this flame alive all year round.



R.K.Laxman: The Uncommon Man

26 Jan

R.K. Laxman Cartoon

The creator of the “Common Man” was anything but common! In an age of noise, R. K. Laxman could, in the words of William Blake “see the world in a grain of sand” and let his work do the talking, and what a statement it made! Through his cartoons, he stripped bare the hypocrisy of the government and the society with his quiet but observant Common Man becoming the “voice of the nation” (a master stroke of irony) and its conscience keeper. The country owes a huge debt of gratitude to Laxman for giving it a healthy and much needed dose of humour during seemingly hopeless times.

Flexing military muscles without arms

20 Apr

Of Merry Missiles and MAD Men
Graphics: Avijit Das

When the army chief V.K.Singh’s letter bomb to the Prime Minister exploded the myth of India’s military might, few imagined that there would be light at the end of our defective deterrence tunnel. Less than a month later, the God of Fire smiled on us. With the test-firing of  his namesake, the Agni V inter-continental ballistic missile, we were taken out of our defense doldrums and jet-propelled into the elite club of missile super studs.

You would think now that would make the world sit up and give the country its due of fear-induced respect. But oh, no, no! Our Prime Minister has spoiled it for us. Totally taken in by his benign blinking presence, except for a paranoid Pakistan, the rest cannot imagine a belligerent India all set to nuke its neighbours. Poof! There disappears our missile mirage! Wait, not so fast!

As all war is about deception so also is all power about perception.When our pols fall short of projecting it, we can always count on our ‘in battle-mode’ media to do the job.  Keen to not let the country be deprived of  its moment under the sun, our press packed a punch with their headlines predicting everything short of the missile actually hitting the world’s latest hate-crush China.  Unfortunately, while we were ready to celebrate the 5000 km giant leap into mass annihalation, that killjoy called reality intervened.

Bubble-bursting fact 1: Our WMD would have to fly through more testing times before it would be able to enter the country’s dust-gathering armory.  So for those trigger-happy gents ready to air it for use, they would just have to wait for the day when the Chinese would discover their distaste for money and shun a business relationship worth USD 100 billion for the simple pleasure of firing missiles at us. Thus, our flight of fantasy hits a snag when it comes to deterrence as our leaders full of moral vim and no military vigour volunteered for a “no first use policy”.

Bubble-bursting fact 2:  What with the ball being in our frenemy’s court and its  fire power far exceeding our’s-  at least by 7000km- Cold War’s Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine of deterrence has gone cold. The “East Wind” (China’s Dongfeng 41 ICBM) is up to speed, and ready to snuff out our second strike capability.

But what the heck! We got ourselves an ICBM. Woo hoo!

Our army chief might bemoan the fact that our tanks are ready to keel over, that our air defense is in the ICU and that our infantry and specialized forces are far from being fighting fit.   He might ask for a booster shot of Rs. 41000 crore to resuscitate the military and through infusion of further cash, hasten its recovery. He might caution against sweetheart deals that are not too picky over the quality of defense procurement by the world’s largest arms importer. But look at the big picture. Blitzkrieg is so passé ! Who needs ground support when the heaven and the gods are with us!

My colleague at the news bureau, bristling at the studied nonchalance of  the foreign press, exclaimed, ” If we were North Korea, we would have been front page fare. But look! They have given us a few measly lines! They want to pass off India as a mild-mannered grannie! Well you should meet my grannie. Give her a shiny new cane and see her strike fear into the backyard bully!”

The doubters might ask what if her hand is not strong enough to raise the cane and her legs too bent to give chase? Well, our military arms might be weak, but it is the spirit that counts! So start flexing those imagined muscles.  For who knows North Korea might finally get its missile right and then, I guess, we would have to “die another day”.

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