Thursday, May 25, 2017

Counter-terrorism is not terrorism

There is a lot of hullabaloo over a soldier of the Indian army tying a stonepelter in the bonnet of his vehicle with a view to ensuring safe passage for officials on poll duty. The army is facing a tough situation when it is called upon to maintain law and order which the terrorists are on a crusade to destroy.

An army man cannot be denied the right to protect himself and law-abiding citizens. If agitators can pelt stones and subject soldiers to all kinds of insults, the army cannot turn pacific. So-called liberal media will be well advised to shed its misplaced empathy for those out to terrorise the nation. It is not expected of the media to align itself with terrorists.

Lord Ganapathi and Sage Vyasa

Lord Brahma was sought by Sage Vyasa to suggest how to convert his thoughts which formed the Mahabharata into writing. Brahma told him to approach Lord Ganapathi whose blessings are sought for any new venture.

Vyasa prayed to Ganapathi who consented to write the entire epic for Vyasa subject to one condition. Vyasa should narrate without interruption so that Ganapathi would never need to wait. Lord Ganapathi was a speed writer. So Vyasa planned a ruse and requested the Lord he must write any verse only after understanding it. Ganapathi agreed.

Whenever Vyasa needed rest, he would come up with a verse difficult to comprehend. Thus, Vyasa would gain some breathing time. There are 8,800 such difficult verses which even today pose a challenge to scholars for interpretation.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Justices Katju and Karnan

Any comparison between Justice Karnan and Justice Katju is likely to be dismissed in limine as absurd. But there is a stark similarity between the two.

Both have an obsessive longing to be noticed by the public. Just like a child would throw a tantrum just to attract the attention of its parents, these honourable judges come up with bizarre statements which cannot be ignored by the public.

There is of course a noticeable difference. Katju's legal acumen is far sharper. So he tends to raise subtle points of law, give them a twist and await people's anger or approbation. Karnan unfortunately seems to be deficient in legal expertise and therefore adopts a different course. He raises issues of probity of individual judges and tries to draw the attention of PM or the President.

There may be truth in Karnan's allegations but he is unable to follow it up properly like the Bhushans because of his legal knowledge deficit. The attention-seeking behaviour of both of them, though infantile, provides huge entertainment.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


BJP has not crowned itself with glory in the issue relating to aadhaar. While in opposition, BJP was anti-aadhaar. In power, they are its crusaders.

On one hand, the government makes PAN Card invalid if it is not linked to aadhaar by June 30th. On the other hand, they also claim June 30 is not a deadline. The Supreme Court has repeatedly expressed its view that aadhaar should not be mandatory till the pending case is disposed of. Government does not seem to care.

Poor people cannot avail social subsidies in the absence of aadhaar number. But aadhaar is not compulsory. Strange are the utterances of the government.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Triple Talaq

The Supreme Court is now hearing various legal luminaries on legality or otherwise of the Islamic practice of triple talaq. The central question is whether it is a religious practice and if so is it an essential religious practice.

Kapil Sibal is bending over backwards to prove that it is both. The argument as reported in The Hindu runs on these lines:

"Triple talaq is a matter of faith for Muslims similar to how it is a matter of faith for Hindus that Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Why is the Centre so keen to raise doubts about the constitutional morality of Muslims' faith in the 1400-year-old practice of triple talaq when no such doubts have been raised about the Hindus' faith that Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram? Who is the government to say that triple talaq, evolved through social and family norms, is “un-Islamic”? senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for AIMPLB, asked a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar."

It is absurd to equate a matter of belief with a matter of practice. The belief that someone was born in a place does not jeopardise anyone. But a practice that impinges on one's right is capable of landing a person in deep trouble. Triple talaq is something that is practised and some claim that it is unilaterally deleterious to the interests of affected women. It is accepted that it is not the only way of divorce. Therefore, if the court is convinced that it is repugnant to gender-justice, it has to be outlawed.

Kapil Sibal further argues:
"“For example, the husband is cruel and a drunk. The woman is fed up and wants instant triple talaq, but the husband refuses it to torture her further. She has no money to go to the courts. She is left to live her life in utter despair. If the society intervenes and her husband gives her instant talaq, you will call it illegal. So, there are many complexities, which the Supreme Court cannot go into in a matter of just six days. Personal law relates to personal relationships,” he argued."

This is where the learned advocate really bends over backwards. In the process he gives an incredible and utterly unlikely example. When we try to take care of an extremely unlikely event like the far-fetched example provided by Sibal, we are likely to sacrifice the interests of a preponderant majority and this is what happens here.
In any bilateral relationship such as marriage, conferment of right to one party and not to the other party is prima facie perverted and cannot claim legal protection.

Chidambarams in the dock

BJP has sounded the political bugle for the 2019 general elections. Chidambarams and Lalus are easy targets to ignite people's misgivings about UPA.

It is not unusual for sons to tarnish the image of their father. This is exactly what Karti Chidambaram has been doing for a long time. If Modi's government has not taken punitive action against Karthi for three long years, there must be some deliberate purpose behind this. The government is interested not in punishing the culprits but only wants to utilise the shenanigans of these culprits to shower electoral advantage on BJP.

This may be good politics. But it is bad governance. It is an open secret that Karti Chidambaram was a power-broker when his father was the Finance Minister. Chidambaram should not have allowed his fatherly affection to blind his eyes to his son's activities.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

China's OBOR project

China has launched an extremely ambitious infrastructure project costing $ 1 trillion over 4 years spanning 60 countries. This 'One Belt One Road' project is expected to employ millions of Chinese labourers in multiple countries.

China has figured that that it is sitting on the infra tiger and it cannot afford to get off lest its unemployment problem should go out of hand. This biggest infrastructure project ever attempted will certainly pose expected and unexpected problems. If China were a democracy, this would not have taken off.

This is an opportunity for China to offload a part of its huge forex kitty. In the process, many Asian and African countries are also forced to spend large sums of money. Social friction in many nations will be unavoidable. It will be interesting to watch how China executes this massive project.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Impeach Justice Karnan

Justice Karnan has crossed all limits in his egregious insubordination to the Supreme Court. The Hon.Judge is evading arrest ordered by the apex court.
The judge has taken the view that only Parliament can discipline him. This is an opportunity for our worthy parliamentarians to show their solidarity with the judiciary by commencing impeachment proceedings and conclude expeditiously. Will they?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Impossible trinity

Actor Stephen Fry was asked what he might say to God at the gates of heaven. He replied, "I'd say , bone cancer in children? How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault? It's not right.It's utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain?" (quoted from Economic Times, May 11th).

Thirukkural says in chapter 107, stanza 2: "If God has ordained that someone should beg for his living, let Him not exist."

Both Fry and Thiruvalluvar are not atheists, otherwise they would not refer to God. So, any theist will be pained by existence of pervasive and inexplicable injustice. Since God by definition is all-knowing and all-powerful,we expect that He would not let anybody suffer without reason. But in many cases, we are unable to find the reason. This dilemma can be solved in one of two ways. One, we may turn atheistic. Two, we may accept there are reasons unknown to us.

Since most of us would like to retain our faith in God, the second option needs to be explored. If a child is born physically challenged, we may rationalise it saying that it is a consequence of bad deeds in an earlier birth. This leads us to believe in rebirths. If we have faith in God and are puzzled by apparent injustice, the missing element that solves the puzzle is 'rebirth'.

It is therefore reasonable to conclude that 1)faith in God, 2)expectation of justice and 3)disbelief in rebirth cannot all of them exist together simultaneously.

Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor is furious that Arnab Goswami is trying to nail him in the case of unnatural death of his wife, Sunanda Pushkar. From day one, it was evident to everyone who looked at the chronology of events and how political pressure was used to obfuscate the facts that it was a murder, plain and simple.

It is despicable that the police instead of doing their job of investigating played a pliable role. The new tapes put out by Arnab's Republic need to be analysed by the police without any bias if truth is really to be discovered.

Tharoor's conduct in the incident has created a lot of suspicion. Following three tweets from him are only to be expected. He is trying to save his skin. What is the police waiting for? Tharoor claims he has nothing to hide from the police. He has already destroyed any evidence that may implicate him.

"1.Exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations&outright lies being broadcast by an unprincipled showman masquerading as a journalst

2.A so-called journalist comes w/an agenda2disrupt the rest of the media in order to create attention for his channel. Not interested in truth
3.Pathetic2see the depths2which some will sink2attract TRPs. I have nothing to hide from the police&the courts but nothing to say2such people."

Monday, May 08, 2017

Macron as French President

Emmanuel Macron will be the President of France from May 14th. Marine Le Pen has been comprehensively defeated and world markets are feeling relieved.

Macron was a socialist and then an independent before he formed his own party in 2016. He was the Finance and Economy minister for a couple of years. Le Pen is relatively more experienced in politics having been in the party started by her father for a longer time. She is anti-immigration and pro-nationalist. Her anti-Euro views are too outspoken.

Despite France's uneasy relationship with immigrants and violent encounters with terrorists, the voters have balked at voting to power Le Pen known for rabble-rousing speeches against foreigners. This means that EU and Euro will be intact at least for some more time and also that terrorists will not come under extreme pressure.

It is too early to celebrate Macron's success. It remains to be seen whether it is success for France also. Though only 39 years old, Macron has the advantage of being advised by his elderly wife who is 24 years older and is an experienced teacher of literature. Being callow in politics, there is a distinct possibility that he may prove to be France's Arvind Kejriwal. The French may repent that.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Is Indian politics irredeemable?

Indians have a lot to worry about. Not a day passes without some terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. The Maoists keep quiet for a long time and then suddenly butcher scores of policemen as if they have to make up for their long inactivity. Actually they are spending their inactive times planning what bloodshed to commit next and how. Drought is staring at us in many parts of south India.

On top of all these miseries, our politics continues to be murky. Lalu Prasad is commanded by a criminal cooling his heels in prison regarding how to manage the police. The 'honest' chief-minister Arvind Kejriwal is alleged to have taken a bribe of Rs.2 crore. This, even if true, is only a pittance by current standards. Election Commission is sought to be bribed for favourable allotment of election symbol. The price was stated to be Rs.50 crore.

Indians would certainly assert that politicians are the least trust-worthy among all professionals. How long are we to put up with this mockery?

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Is Justice Karnan all sound and fury?

Justice Karnan and the Supreme Court are obviously on an undesirable collision course. In an uneven trial of strength such as this, the individual cannot but lose. Karnan has made it appear as if this is a casteist issue which is unfortunate. Among other acts, the judge has written to PM and others quoting "corrupt practices" of twenty judges. This is an issue which should have attracted enquiry from the powers that be. Sadly, this has been lost sight of.

The honourable judge has also named a High Court judge who is alleged to have misbehaved with an intern. This again is a serious issue that merits an enquiry. If these allegations are found to be false, action must be taken against Justice Karnan. If the charges are true, the criminal judges need to be dealt with firmly.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Justice Karnan

On March 10th, in ' SC versus SC', the following was suggested:

"The Supreme Court is agitated that he had chosen to disobey its orders to appear before the court for causing contempt of court. It will be more appropriate to subject him to psychological examination to know if any deep-rooted anxiety is plaguing him. It is worth introducing psychological tests for would-be judges."

It is better late than never that the Supreme Court has now ordered medical examination of Justice Karnan. Karnan is an exemplary character in the Mahabharata. We may wonder how a person with such a glorious name can behave like this. Sometimes the initials are more suggestive. C.S.Karnan wants to turn the Supreme Court (SC) upside down or to reverse its progress. (I am suggesting this in jest knowing fully well that if I am serious about this, I would need to be medically examined !)

Justice Karnan is capable of creating more entertainment. One is reminded of Mr.B.C.Ganguly , former Chairman of Railway Board, who was throwing a  tantrum because of which he had to be dismissed in 1971. He refused to leave a railway bogie in which he had undertaken a tour. We have waited for 46 years for the next part of entertainment from a non-political authority. What is worrying however is that we do not know whether Justice Karnan is an aberration or simply representative of present judiciary. While hoping that it is the former, the Supreme Court and the Collegium owe it to the Constitution that it does not become the latter.