Category Archives: Current Affairs

1200 Israelis dead …

This month my church has been having a series of sermons on racial equity and reconciliation. Dwelling on the fact that Jesus’ message cut across all nations, class and race, even 2000 years back. I know a lot has been achieved in the last half a century towards a goal of equity for everyone, but there is definitely a lot more distance to be covered. If there is one thing we have learnt above all else in these years of trying to attain equality for all men – be it their race, gender or caste- it is that the society plays a bigger role than laws.

So why am I rambling on about equality when the heading talks about 1200 Israelis being dead? Firstly, the heading is false, if there were that many dead Israelis you would have seen it on network TV 24 hours a day. Secondly this statement is true for the stateless Palestinians (the death toll was higher), but they do not warrant the same amount of network coverage or people time. No, I am neither an Israeli basher nor a Palestinian supporter. Also I am not fond of watching people die or hearing sad tales of loss. What made me think about it was that it seemed a double standard that one group of people dying would sound more terrible than another group of people.

This lethargy is not just confined to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You can see it manifest most frequently in the African nations. The fact that the western world thought that Saddam Hussain was more “bad” or “cruel” than some of the ethnic-cleansing, genocidal and baseborn dictators in the third world speaks volumes.

Closer to home I have been following the conflict in Sri Lanka, between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils, with whom I share my ancestry. This conflict has been going on for decades with no solution in sight. Infact the LTTE (Liberation tigers of Tamil Elam), which is the largest armed tamil group, have the distinction of being the originators of suicide bombings. The struggle started peaceful enough with the minority Tamils wanting equal rights in all aspects of life. Soon it spread to armed struggle that got out of hand. Most people including yours truly have labeled the LTTE as terrorists – they got me on board by killing one of India’s most beloved leaders in a suicide attack. I am not likely to withdraw that label, since they killed him in my home state of Tamil Nadu(country). Lately though I have come to realise that if this were a Tamil majority and Sinhalese minority conflict the roles would have been reversed and the Sinhalese resistance group would have been called terrorists.

At the end what it all boils down to is the fact that we are all prejudiced against people who don’t look like us, don’t talk like us or even eat like us. Until we change from the inside to believe that all men are born equal and not similar, we are going to have to keep paying in blood.

I personally believe that once you have Jesus in your heart, it becomes easier to overcome such prejudices.


The case for war

Its finally time that I get into the war debate, four years after it began. I see that the rhetoric has shifted too and the momentum has clearly swung the anti-war way, atleast most of the noice is coming from the anti-war lobby. What an oppurtunate time for me to defend it

It’s often been said, and rightly so, that for evil to prosper good men do nothing. I have read and heard about the Sheehans, the Moores, the Clooneys and others of the ink who seem to think a little to highly of themselves then they ought too, while sneering down on plebeians like us for not seeing their point of view. Before I dwell deeply into it, I think a little background – from my viewpoint – is needed.

Iraq is this country formerly part of the region called Mesopotamia and it has tons of oil. The westerns, namely the British, the French, the Americans and the Russians, try to overrun it for the oil with a mixed success rate. And there is this guy called Saddam who rises up in Iraq and takes over the ruling party that had previously deposed the King and becomes “the President” with 100% of all eligible votes (It was just a ballot with his name on it). So like any dictator, he had absolute control of the country with no open opposition (Even closed opposition had to be outside the border) also modeling the South African style, he was part of the minority community. A very mitigating factor in his favor was that he had a neighbor that the west hated more than they hated him, and so they fought with his authoritarian rule against the totalitarian rule, helping him with biological and chemical weapons.

Once that war got boring, the west (America), lost focus which normally happens here with a change of COC*, and forgot about the tons of biological and chemical weapons! And then Hussein probably committed his biggest and only mistake, he got greedy and decided for whatever weird reason that he was Nebuchadnezzar and wanted to rule another country. Unfortunately for him, it was the end of the cold war which left Bush Sr. with a ton of old arsenal. So they bombed him back to his city and then chickened out before they could get the job done (just like some people are trying to now). The regime changed and America’s sometimes flawed foreign policy was in full affect, the new COC was more interested in a certain Ms. Lewsenski than in an old guy who fished using grenades. Then 9/11 happened and people wanted blood, Bush Jr. saw his opportunity to leave behind a legacy. Afghanistan was easy, but then it was not enough, the next logical choice was between doing something in Sudan, Iraq, Iran or North Korea. Sudan only had its deserts as a prize ditto for North Korea, albeit it had more forest cover. Iran was too powerful to take on while Iraq seemed much easier, with Sadam’s regime in taters due to a decade of sanctions. The administration knew they could use the chemical and biological weapons as an excuse, after all wasn’t it the US that provided it. It was a win-win situation, American’s largest and most powerful lobby (the gun lobby) could make a ton of money for replenishing the arsenal and the second most powerful lobby (Read the oil lobby) could finally get control of the second largest oil reserves in the world.

Then all hell broke loose, Sadam was and has been much smarter than they expected in hiding the weapons, or probably he had already used it all up, what with having to put down a plethora of revolts after the first gulf war. The administration had not been prepared for a long drawn out battle, also they had believed their own propaganda that technological superiority was enough on the battlefield. They also failed to understand that a dictator never has the whole country against him; there is always a section of people that have benefited from his patronage, who would feel the heat when he is gone. A prime example is the non-white sympathisers of the British Empire who are now citizens there. They went there as the empire was falling, rather than risk loosing their lives in their home country!

This should be enough of a digression.

So why support a war which has seen its opposition grow exponentially each day? ‘cause once the cacophonous rhetoric from either side is dissected, it will clearly emerge that the issue is more complex and greyer than both sides want us to believe. At the core of the issue as I see it is, not the WMDs but deciding when the issue is internal to a sovereignty or and when it becomes imperative for the world to step in. Don’t know if many of you remember the person called Ahmed Chalabi, he was part of an umbrella Iraqi opposition group that wanted to topple Saddam and took the normal Iraqis’ plight to various governments. Some of his information, which was heavily relied upon by the US government, on WMD have been shown to be false, for which he is in the dock right now. Looking at it from another perspective, the lies could be the sign of a desperate group of people tired of living under a draconian ruler. Indians should be well aware of such feelings, Netaji Subash Chandra Bose allied with the Japanese during to the Second World War to fight the British colonists in India.

The same people who are demanding US withdrawal are also asking for foreign intervention in Darfur! These also are part of the same group of individuals that want the international communities to do something about Iran and North Korea and Tibet and Taiwan and … the list goes on. Is there a double standard here or is there a lack of spine to face difficulties. Is running away at the first sign of trouble the mark of any self-respecting nation? Like dad used to compare certain cribbers to asses that would bite when you stand in front and kick you when stand behind.

Another rhetoric has been the human cost of it, the sacrifices of the soldiers and how they did not sign up for this. If the soldiers and the marines did not sign up for war what did they sign up for, guard duty in a safe place in the middle of America in a air conditioned room? I say this having seen and been with immediate family members in all wings of the Indian military including two active duty members in the navy currently. Some might say that I have not served in the army so I wouldn’t know, all I have to say is that if I joined the army I wouldn’t crib about it neither would I like anybody cribbing for me. To see civilians asking for withdrawal using the causalities as an excuse is not only a grave affront but is also short sighted. Those who have died or have been injured didn’t do what they did for nothing. The people who join the armed forces are not fools who do not know what is expected of them and if they are not ready to stand up then they have no reason to enlist. Like a ship is only useful if it is able to loose sight of land, the armed forces is not an ornament that a country wears but is there for a very specific purpose. The world’s supposedly greatest army does not earn its colours by staying home.

This also fits in well with larger problem of an opportunistic American foreign policy. If we just drop everything and walk out of Iraq right now, there would be anarchy there and it would have been better if we had not tried to help them out. The last sentence probably made a few of you snigger, but that is the truth according to NoViCe! The Iraqis were living under a dictator, and there is no going around it. There are probably a few other more notorious totalitarian regime in the world, but there is no established pecking order that the world can use to dismantle them. The muddle foreign policy was the one that prevented the job from being finished in ’92, which also probably caused the death of thousands of Iraqis who rose up in revolt against Saddam and then were left to die by a weakened American foreign policy that withdrew at the first sign of trouble.

I remember as a kid hearing about the letters that some churches in Indian received from certain extremists’ organizations like RSS and VHP – as the right-wing BJP was gathering a wider foothold in India – threatening them with expulsion from their Indian once they come to power. As absurd as it might sound right now, my immature mind started thinking of what happens when the state turns against its own people. I wondered if any other country would help us or if the rest of the world would even bother. Now that the world has done something about it in a country that needed it, with any number of hidden agendas included, we can only stay the course.

We cannot under any circumstances let the terrorists dictate terms to us, we would not be really free if we are not ready to make any sacrifices whatsoever. The news of the torture and killings that emanate from Iraq and Afghanistan only tend to fortify my opinion that we must stay the course. Would I like to stay in a country where I am told what to wear, eat, think and say or in a country that has high terrorist activity with my freedom intact? It’s like asking if I would like to die once with honour or die everyday of fear.

In every country the views that get the most exposure is not the majority opinion – which more often than not is middle of the road – but the opinion of fringe groups from both extremes that tend to muddy the whole affair.

Until we are able to see above ourselves, our family, our city, our state, our country we would not have really lived. This is the time for action and its either a free world or back to the stoneage!