Posts Tagged ‘India’
Jihadi leader lives openly in Pakistan – no one wants $10 million reward offered by the United States
Lahore, Pakistan — Ten million dollars does not seem to buy much in this bustling Pakistani city. That is the sum the United States is offering for help in convicting Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, perhaps the country’s best-known jihadi leader. Yet Mr. Saeed lives an open, and apparently fearless, life in a middle-class neighborhood here.
“I move about like an ordinary person — that’s my style,” said Mr. Saeed, a burly 64-year-old, reclining on a bolster as he ate a chicken supper. “My fate is in the hands of God, not America.”
Mr. Saeed is the founder, and is still widely believed to be the true leader, of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group that carried out the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, in which more than 160 people, including six Americans, were killed. The United Nations has placed him on a terrorist list and imposed sanctions on his group. But few believe he will face trial any time soon in a country that maintains a perilous ambiguity toward jihadi militancy, casting a benign eye on some groups, even as it battles others that attack the state.
Mr. Saeed’s very public life seems more than just an act of mocking defiance against the Obama administration and its bounty, analysts say. As American troops prepare to leave Afghanistan next door, Lashkar is at a crossroads, and its fighters’ next move — whether to focus on fighting the West, disarm and enter the political process, or return to battle in Kashmir — will depend largely on Mr. Saeed…
His security seemingly ensured, Mr. Saeed has over the past year addressed large public meetings and appeared on prime-time television, and is now even giving interviews to Western news media outlets he had previously eschewed…
Still, he says he has nothing against Americans, and warmly described a visit he made to the United States in 1994, during which he spoke at Islamic centers in Houston, Chicago and Boston. “At that time, I liked it,” he said with a wry smile.
During that stretch, his group was focused on attacking Indian soldiers in the disputed territory of Kashmir — the fight that led the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate to help establish Lashkar-e-Taiba in 1989…
“When there are no Americans in Afghanistan, what will happen?” said Mushtaq Sukhera, a senior officer with the Punjabi police who is running a fledgling demobilization program for Islamist extremists. “It’s an open question.”
A shift could be risky for Mr. Saeed: Some of his fighters have already split from Lashkar in favor of other groups that attack the Pakistani state. And much will depend on the advice of his military sponsors.
For their part, Pakistan’s generals insist they have abandoned their dalliance with jihadi proxy groups. In a striking speech in August, the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said the country’s greatest threat came from domestic extremism. “We as a nation must stand united against this threat,” he said. “No state can afford a parallel system of governance and militias.”
Unfortunately, that last statement by General Kayani although truthful guarantees nothing. No one is confident that Pakistan’s military – and especially the ISI, their answer to the CIA – is at all interested in building anything more than bank vaults filled with looted gold. The blood of their fellow Pakistanis means nothing.
In 2012, India had 925 million mobile phone subscribers. The phones have helped organize protests by middle-class Indians, most recently against the savage rape and slaying of a young woman in Delhi.
They have also starred in one of India’s biggest-ever scandals. The country’s most prominent politicians, journalists and businessmen were incriminated in a rigged auction of 2G spectrum; they were exposed by the secretly taped phone conversations of a corporate lobbyist…
In the early 1990s, when I first started living in a village in the state of Himachal Pradesh, the local post office, which tellingly had a broken clock and a nonfunctional phone, was still the main center of communications.
Like most residents of Mashobra, I had no phone at home — the government’s waiting list for one extended indefinitely into the future. I went often to the bazaar to make calls from a public phone and to pick up my mail at the small post office, where a migrant laborer or two would invariably request I write brief messages on postcards and money-order forms to their loved ones…
My application for a phone was finally approved in 1999; and Daulatram, who had then started to officiate as a priest at weddings and funerals, become one of my Bakelite’s regular users, along with a couple of young men looking for jobs outside the village.
But the prohibitive cost of national and international calls meant that I had to monitor the conversations and put the phone in a padlocked wooden case, lest a reckless talker plunge me into penury.
Mobile phones had arrived by then in India. But they hadn’t reached our village. Doron and Jeffrey date their rapid proliferation to 2000, when the cost of mobile calls per minute collapsed from 16 rupees to 4 rupees (about 36 cents to 9 cents). But I kept scribbling messages in awkward Hindi at the post office until the middle of the decade, when cheap, prepaid connections became widely available and known.
Cold statistics tell the story of this dramatic transformation much more vividly. Subscribers grew from 45 million in 2002 to almost a billion in 2012.
Pankaj Mishra is the author of much more than articles for Bloomberg. That doesn’t diminish the information, the feeling of what this truly disruptive technology is beginning to mean to life in India.
RTFA and enjoy his descriptive color, experience. Learn more and more about the changes, good and bad, brought by a device small anough to fit in your pocket – and give you access to the whole world.
A new study of DNA has found that Indian people may have come to Australia around 4000 years ago, an event possibly linked to the first appearance of the dingo.
Australia was first populated around 40,000 years ago and it was once thought Aboriginal Australians had limited contact with the outside world until the arrival of Europeans.
However, an international research team examining genotyping data from Aboriginal Australians, New Guineans, island Southeast Asians and Indians found ancient association between Australia, New Guinea, and the Mamanwa group from the Philippines.
“We also detect a signal indicative of substantial gene flow between the Indian populations and Australia well before European contact, contrary to the prevailing view that there was no contact between Australia and the rest of the world. We estimate this gene flow to have occurred during the Holocene, 4,230 years ago,” the researchers said…
“This is also approximately when changes in tool technology, food processing, and the dingo appear in the Australian archaeological record, suggesting that these may be related to the migration from India…”
Professor Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide, said the research team’s discovery of “a previously unsuspected episode of gene flow with populations from mainland India, estimated to take place around 4,200 years ago… coincides with significant changes in the Aboriginal archaeological record, around 4000 to 5000 years ago.”
“It does not necessarily indicate direct contact with mainland India. For example it could be via populations elsewhere whose original source was mainland India,” said Professor Cooper, who was not involved in the research…
“Australian people were, for tens of thousands of years, a part of the human population of the world exchanging both genes and cultural information with their neighbours.”
Our species has always been carriers of that awesome trait – curiosity. We always want to know what’s around the next bend in the road, over the next hill.
Manohar Lal Sharma – is this the most disreputable lawyer in India?
The lawyer representing three of the men charged with the gang rape and murder of a medical student aboard a moving bus in New Delhi has blamed the victims for the assault, saying he has never heard of a “respected lady” being raped in India.
Manohar Lal Sharma’s comments come as Indians have reacted with outrage to the opinions of politicians and a religious preacher who have accused westernized women of inviting sexual assaults. Sharma said the male companion of the murdered 23- year-old was “wholly responsible” for the incident as the unmarried couple should not have been on the streets at night.
“Until today I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady,” Sharma said in an interview at a cafe outside the Supreme Court in India’s capital. “Even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect.”
Sharma’s comments highlight frequently aired attitudes toward women in India. Activists say reporting of sex crimes and police investigations of rape are hindered by a tendency to blame the victim for not following the traditional, conservative social roles ascribed to women.
“This is the mentality which most Indian men are suffering from unfortunately,” said Ranjana Kumari, director for the New Delhi-based Centre for Social Research. “That is the mindset that has been perpetrating this crime because they justify it indirectly, you asked for it so it is your responsibility.”
A spiritual guru, Asharam, sparked an outcry earlier this week when he said the New Delhi victim was equally responsible and should have “chanted God’s name and fallen at the feet of the attackers” to stop the assault.
Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the pro-Hindu Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh that underpins the country’s main opposition political party, said rapes only occur in Indian cities, not in its villages, because women there adopt western lifestyles…
The defendants were brought into court today protected by more than 20 police for a brief hearing. Sharma said the court was adjourned after he had filed an application requesting the charge sheet be given to the men in Hindi rather than English…
The gang rape of the woman on Dec. 16 provoked a sustained and charged debate about the safety of women in the world’s biggest democracy. The brutality of the crime and allegations by the male friend of the victim that it took police 45 minutes to respond to calls outraged the nation.
Advocates for the worst of reactionary culture in India, gurus like Asharom, scumbag lawyers like Manohar Lal Sharma are engaged in a race to the very bottom of a backwards lifestyle. It is absurd to call India a democracy when the safety of women has no guarantee from the police or the state. Half the population has no rights.
The government says it is investigating ways and means of speeding justice for women. I’d be amazed if this pursuit has anymore effect than the annual pantomime investigations of corruption – which lead only to changing partners in the dance of deceit in Indian politics.
That girl, the one without the name. The one just like us. The one whose battered body stood for all the anonymous women in this country whose rapes and deaths are a footnote in the left-hand column of the newspaper.
Sometimes, when we talk about the history of women in India, we speak in shorthand. The Mathura rape case.
Thanks to Om Malik for the link to this thoughtful post
LUCKNOW: The death of the 23-old Delhi gang-rape victim Nirbhaya in Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital triggered a series of protests in Lucknow on Saturday. Thousands of students from various schools and colleges and activists especially women demanded implementation of strict laws related to crimes against women and speedy trial of the rape cases. Most of the protestors demanded death penalty for the accused in the rape cases.
Holding banners and placards, which read ‘Ladki ki nahi, insaniyat ki maut hai’; ‘Delhi ho ya Aashiana, nahi chalega koi bahana’; ‘Kapde nahi, soch badlo’, ‘Prime minister awas ki suraksha kyu badha di gayi- Kyu?? Kya desh ki agli abla Manmohan Singh hai?’, the protestors demanded strict law against rape, as people from different walks of life continued to gather at the Gandhi Memorial till late in the evening to raise their voice against women safety. Candle marches were also carried out in support of rape victims…
…Tahira Hasan, national vice-president of All India Progressive Women Association said that we want to build pressure on the government to call an emergency session of Parliament to form strict law for the crimes against women. She added, “Many politicians from various parties are passing sexually offensive comments. The women member of such parties should condemn their colleagues for passing such comments.”
Young men and boys also gathered at Gandhi memorial to pay condolence to the girl and support the cause. Sudhanshu Bajpai, convenor, All India Student Association said, “Our politician have Z-plus security, while common man is unsafe. We want safety for our citizens.”
India is not alone, of course, in electing politicians to lead who rely only on the past to get re-elected. Working hard, fighting for standards which illuminate the future is beyond the ken of many if not most of the self-centered breed who take up politics as a career.
They ensure the best of everything for themselves while looking down in the idea of law and order, healthcare, safety and justice for ordinary folk. They personify the hypocrisy of the narrow class of nterests they truly represent.
Protests over a recent gang rape quickly gained force over the weekend, tapping into longstanding fury against entrenched corruption and lopsided justice, and leading to clashes with the police.
Seven days of demonstrations peaked Sunday, as thousands of people joined women’s and students’ groups despite a hastily enacted ban on protesting in New Delhi. The crowds taunted the police and attacked the car of a member of Parliament. The police, in turn, fired tear gas and water cannons, beat protesters with bamboo sticks and arrested dozens.
What corrupt, entrenched politicians and their police flunkies call “even-handed”.
“Many students who were protesting peacefully were attacked,” said Jayati Ghosh, a professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who had joined the protest with her daughter. “These are patriotic and respectable citizens. You cannot respond to them in this ham-handed manner.”
Kulsoom Rashid, 27, rubbed her eyes and said she had been tear-gassed. “This is how they are responding,” she said, seething. “Hundreds of rapists are running scot-free, and the entire Delhi police is standing here to stop people like me?”
By late afternoon Sunday, political parties had joined the crowd, increasing the number of confrontations with the authorities…
After several recent, highly publicized rape cases, India has been struggling to come to grips with the scale of the vastly underreported problem. Even when rapes are reported, suspects are rarely found and arrested.
In the most recent case, a 23-year-old medical student who boarded what she thought was a public bus on Dec. 16 was brutally raped and beaten nearly to death by a group of men. Six suspects are in jail.
The rapid reaction has done little to stem public anger. On Sunday, protesters jostled with the police, calling them “cowardly,” “corrupt” and “inept,” as they tried to push through the cordon…
“These people have lost patience with a government that has no sense of justice, no sense of accountability and is totally corrupt at the top,” said Prem Shankar Jha, a former editor of the Hindustan Times.
You can witness the reality of what is called democracy in many countries by how police are allowed to treat peaceful demonstrations. Regular readers will know I hold no brief for anarchists and other loonies. They deserve what they get when they try to burn down London or Seattle. But, I was able to follow the course of these demonstrations quite closely over the weekend – via al Jazeera and CCTV9.
The Indian police were merciless in their attacks on peaceful demonstrators, ordinary people, mostly young people, marching because they are fed-up with institutional corruption and injustice. It reminded me of nothing more than early days in our own civil rights movement, North and South.
More than most, you will be missed by your fellow musicians. The spirit of creativity, improvisation, willingness to touch and learn from all cultures.
The International Development Secretary will tell MPs that from today no new aid programmes and contracts will be agreed for financial assistance to India, which is rapidly emerging as one of the world’s most powerful economies.
Existing schemes that have already been agreed will continue until the last of them concludes in 2015, when all UK financial aid to the country will cease…
Officials said Miss Greening was told that the Indian government valued Britain’s “technical assistance” far more than money…
Miss Greening said: “After reviewing the programme and holding discussions with the Government of India this week, we agreed that now is the time to move to a relationship focussing on skills-sharing rather than aid.
“Having visited India I have seen first hand the tremendous progress being made. India is successfully developing and our own bilateral relationship has to keep up with 21st Century India.
The UK’s overall financial contribution to India since the Coalition took office is expected to total more than £1 billion.
After 2015, the contribution of Britain’s technical expertise to development programmes in India will cost an estimated one tenth of the current total aid budget to the country.
As existing grants are phased out, the government expects to save around £200 million over the next three years…
Any discussion – in the UK or India – on how the value of that increase in India’s wealth, power and commercial strength will trickle down to the ordinary people already overlooked by the aid programmes?
A parallel examination of India’s corruption shows no sign of diminishing any time soon.
Photograph: Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images
During the past 10 days, sweaty queues of up to 50 people have formed outside an old colonial building in downtown Mumbai, while a security guard operates a one-in-one-out policy. These hopefuls are not trying to get into an edgy new nightclub or shake hands with a visiting politician. They are waiting for up to an hour to go to Starbucks. “There’s excitement among everyone,” said Akhil Somani, a 27-year-old financial adviser, as he stood in line last weekend. “We have our own coffee brands but this one has had a lot of hype.”
Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee-shop chain, opened its first branch in India on 19 October. Two more branches – including one in Mumbai’s famous Taj Mahal Palace hotel, which has likewise seen dozens of people queuing for a frappuccino – opened last week. With more than 17,600 branches in 61 countries, it is perhaps surprising that the Seattle-based company has only just arrived in India. It entered China in 1999 and has around 600 outlets there.
India is the home of chai, sugary and milky tea ladled into tumblers at street stalls for around five rupees. However, as Indians’ disposable incomes rise, cafes are cropping up in large cities. The country’s cafe sector is worth $230 million, up from $40 million five years ago, according to a report by Technopak, an Indian consultancy. Cafe Coffee Day, a no-frills homegrown chain, dominates the market. The UK’s Costa Coffee and the US’s The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf also have a small presence.
The appearance of Starbucks, whose Mumbai branches offer paneer wraps as well as blueberry muffins, also reflects India’s increasingly international malls and high streets. More western chains are expected to open branches here in the near future, after constraints on foreign investment were loosened this autumn.
India’s coalition government, led by the Congress party, in September relaxed rules on local sourcing for foreign “single-brand retailers” – shops that sell items belonging to one brand. Last November, it scrapped rules stating that such retailers needed to partner with a local company. Following these reforms, Ikea this month applied to open around 25 outlets. Starbucks has entered India through an $80m joint venture with Tata, one of the country’s biggest conglomerates, having worked on this deal before the rules changed…
Opposition parties and independent shopkeepers have held protests in response to the retail reforms. Yet many customers hope foreign brands will result in more choice and better quality, as local businesses will have to fight to retain clients. “More competition is good for the customer,” said Somani as he finally managed to enter Starbucks, only to join another queue for the counter.
Politicians who think they’re doing a nation’s economy a favor by keeping out foreign investment are fools. They may garner a few more votes among superpatriots or business ignoranuses. They restrain expansion from investors bringing something as simple as a new outlook to the economy.
And then there are those who would like to introduce even more barriers to foreign investment. They would enjoy nothing more than dragging our own tawdry economy into a trade war, protect a few personal investments – well, investments made “personal” by lobbyists – in the name of national security. Yup. Our unemployed feel lots more secure when foreign investors are prevented from putting a few bucks into a business in the GOUSA.