February 24, 2009

Steps to tackle Terrorism

Finally, Pakistan has agreed that it’s ‘soil was used’ in planning the Mumbai attack. I’m sure they will ultimately agree that it was planned and executed from Pakistan. Absolving itself from the terrorist attack was stupid in the first place. It is like farting in a swimming pool and denying it, though you may not agree, the evidence is there for all to see. 

Notwithstanding the wishes of many nations around the world, Pakistan cannot be asked to stop all its terrorism related activities at once. For Terrorism contributes significantly to Pakistan’s GDP. Under the ‘Terrorism sector’ come some vital components such as – foreign exchange earnt through illegal export of technology (nuclear and other), foreign exchange through Al-qaeda’s operations in its western border, money earnt through illegal sale of opium trade by Taliban which has its new base in NWFP(North West Frontier Province in Pakistan), remittances from Pakistani terrorists abroad etc.

 Managing the international border with such a neighbour is no joke. A clever tactic needs to be employed by our politicians and diplomats. War is definitely not the solution – not just because it leads to collateral damage, but such a threat would fail to scare them. War mongers don’t get scared by a threat of war, in fact they become happy. If they can plan the ‘Mumbai attack’ before finding the assassins of their ex-prime minister, what else are they?

I didn’t intend to make this post sound sarcastic, but I couldn’t help it. We (Indians) are anguished by the Mumbai terror attack. The kind of public response that followed must have convinced everyone that Indians hadn’t forgotten to unite at the time of crisis –something our grandfathers learnt while fighting the British. The public response was spontaneous, widespread, and included all sections of the society. By the way, it also ended the careers of some politicians in the country

Pakistan of today poses a big threat to the peace and tranquility of all nations around the world. The state has accepted the Taliban’s hold in the swat valley and has given them the control of judiciary. From now, terrorists will dispense justice to people, instead of the government. Ever heard of such a thing? Why does Pakistan want our Kashmir valley, so that they can convert it to another swat valley?

If we have to examine why Pakistan has reached where it has, we have to go back to the pre-independence era to analyse the circumstances that justified its creation. Pakistan was conceptualized on a false premise that the political and economic interests of Hindus and Muslims were separate. This notion is unscientific because religion cannot be the basis of political and economic interests or of political groupings.

Mohammed Ali jinnah in his maiden presidential address to the constituent assembly of Pakistan said …If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be on end to the progress you will make.” Basically, he was trying to put back the genie into the bottle, which he had helped to let out earlier. It was the same man who had earlier remarked “I alone with the help of my secretary and type-writer won Pakistan for Muslims”.

India has the 3rd largest Muslim population in the world – after Indonesia and Pakistan. I can say with confidence that Muslims in India are much more secure (we don’t attack our girls attending schools with acid) and prosperous than the citizens of Pakistan. It is ironical because Pakistan was founded to further the interests of Muslims, as it was felt that it could not be done in a Hindu majority country.  

In India, we have always hailed our citizens for their good work –without any bias for their religion. Many of our citizens who happen to be Muslims have reached highest constitutional positions in our country. Examples are plenty, from Maulana abul kalam azad (our noted education minister) to APJ Abdul kalam (our ex-president). At the time of composing this post, entire India is jubilant and in a celebration mode for the oscar award that our musician AR Rahman has won. In fact even in a fanatic sport like cricket, we have had many Muslim cricketers who have led India – such as Mansoor ali khan pataudi, Mohammed Azharuddin. 

How does Pakistan treat its minorities (Hindus in Pakistan)? The percentage of minorities has been declining in Pakistan since its independence, as they are being forcibly converted to the state religion of Islam. On the other hand, in India the percentage of Hindus (the majority religion) has been declining. This clearly shows that Indian society is much more liberal and tolerant than that of Pakistan. Indians are free to convert and profess any religion they want.

However critics may point out the Babri masjid demolition as an example of religious intolerance in India. No doubt, demolition of the Masjid is a black mark on the Hindu-Muslim unity in India. I really hope some government in the future constructs a new mosque in the site. However it is also true that destruction of temples in Pakistan is an every-day event. The destruction of Ramna kali mandir and Dhakeswari temple are glaring examples. In 2006, a hindu temple in Lahore was demolished to make way for a multi-storied commercial building. As far as religious intolerance is concerned, what is exception in India is the norm in Pakistan.

Having said all this, I still consider Pakistanis as my brothers who had severed their relations with us because of some misunderstanding. Indians can equate themselves more with Pakistanis than with the British or Americans even today. Our lives had evolved together since the times of Indus valley civilization, Mughal rule, and continued till the occupation of the British. It was the clever “divide and rule” policy of the British that we succumbed to. We had been na├»ve not to have understood the implications of certain poisonous acts of the British -such as the Partition of Begal in 1905 which created a Muslims majority province of East Bengal, and the Morley-Minto Act of 1909 which provided separate electorates for Muslims. I dream of the day when India and Pakistan would again become one-nation. That day, with our combined strength, we will crush our common enemies. We could make Taliban-juice and fertilise our dry lands. 

February 11, 2009

Being Gay

After reading the following post, you might conclude that I could have avoided this controversial title. Yet, if you acknowledge the fact that making people visit your blog requires some advertisement, you wouldn’t complain. : - )

This post is about the growing ‘pink slips’ being given to employees of private organization due to the economic recession which is evidenced worldwide. If we were to analyze where the “global meltdown” started, we might point our fingers to the bankruptcy of some of the premier financial institutions, much more fundamental reason would be the sub-prime crisis. These financial institutions failed miserably because they had invested huge sums of money and bought the sub-prime mortgage loans. More concrete than that would be the stupidity of the banks in lending huge sums of money to people who had no means to return them, in the hope of increasing their profits with their money which was lying idle. If we have to sum up all of this and say it in one word, we have to choose “Greed” to describe it rightly.

One of the immediate consequences of an economic slowdown is layoffs. The person who is shown the door may not be responsible for the plight of the company, in most cases like the recent crisis he may not even know the cause completely, yet he is asked to go! What could be the rationale behind the indiscriminate firing adopted by the companies whenever even the slightest of economic troubles crop up? We can accept layoffs as a last minute resort under unavoidable circumstances, but one cannot understand why they are being used as the first method to deal with financial instabilities.

The reason is not hard to find out. These companies don’t think they are dealing with human beings, for them you’re a “human resource”. You’re one of the most dispensable of the resources available to a company, unlike the physical resources like buildings, land etc. The “human resources” in a private company don’t form workers’ union and it becomes so easy to get them out without fearing a backlash. Also, when good times come and if it is required to acquire some of these “resources” to make more money, they are easily available in the market. This is the understanding that the companies have of a warm blooded human being like you and me.

Once hired, maximum ‘throughput’ has to be obtained from the “resource”. This can be done only when the “resource” is engaged for 12-14 hours a day (sometimes even longer). But how does this affect the human being? Bangalore may be the software capital of India, but did you know it is also the divorce capital and the suicide capital of India? The city has got this distinction only after it witnessed the software boom. The work conditions in a private company are not different from the ones that existed in the days of Industrial revolution in Britain. Plainly put, it is extortion. The glittery office cubicles, swimming pools, gym, that these companies show to prove their commitment to the workforce are in reality a clever idea designed in some management book to motivate the “human resources” in order to obtain maximum throughput. It is like playing music to a milch cow to make it yield more milk.

Most software companies in India resorted to “preemptive” firing because they wanted to meet their financial targets for the year set by their board. It is a fact that most of the companies that resorted to layoffs posted profits. What does it indicate? It shows desperation on the part of the companies to keep the investors (share holders) happy. Unless the investors are happy, the share prices will not remain high in the stock exchanges. Thus the companies are ready to keep the unseen and ever-changing investor happy (since the shares change hands frequently) , by resorting to cost cutting by removing the “human resources” who have worked for long hours every day, without complaining and at the cost of their own personal lives. However, the companies know that they have to conceal this opportunism and turn GAY. They fire their resources citing “under performance”, this reason cannot be contested in any court and is highly subjective, which makes it easy for the companies to get rid of an employee. If it is true that suddenly so many “resources” have turned under performers then shouldn’t the HR department be sacked en masse for recruiting them? Was it hatching eggs when the said underperformers were hired, made permanent after the initial period, being given an increment in their salaries, given promotions, given merit certificates appreciating their good work?

This forces us to analyse some philosophical issues. Why do we need development and to whom should it be directed? Is it for giving means to people so that they will be empowered, or is it simply for acquiring more wealth for the sake of wealth? What is the point in making money by pushing people into poverty? It is like winning wars by killing lakhs of men and pushing thousands of families into sorrow. What is the point in denying hundreds of human beings their happiness, and design an electronic gadget that promises its holders exactly the same?

Though many of us feel strongly about these issues, we hold back and don’t express them because of the fear of being prosecuted. We must know the rights guaranteed to us by our constitution. I know that I enjoy the ‘Right to freedom of speech and expression’ guaranteed under Article 19-1(a) of my constitution. If someone asks me to shut up, I know I can directly approach the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, under Article 32, for the infringment of my Fundamental Right. Most of us may be professional graduates, yet when it comes to knowing our rights and fighting the bully, we are no different from the people who were subjugated to slavery. “Our lives begin to end the day, when we remain silent about things that matter” Martin Luther king.

The day we know our rights, we will turn human beings from human resources.