Saturday, September 30, 2006

7/11 Mumbai blasts - Police update

Well, looks like it will be the police department of a Congress ruled state that will question the Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh's recent peace initiative. The Mumbai police commissioner has today declared that Pakistan's ISI is the brain behind the July 11 train blasts. One can assume that if the police commissioner has called a press conference and announced this, there will certainly be more than a grain of truth in this annoucement. The next logical statement to make in this regard is that since the army is the ruler in Pakistan and the ISI will certainly not do any such planning without the approval of the army, Mr. Musharaff is directly implicated in planning the bomb blasts that killed so many of our fellow Indian citizens. We constantly keep on hearing that we need to keep engaged with him since there is no alternative. How long do we continue to keep engaged with a dictator who engages with theocratic elements and takes no action against them, who has laid down his arms against the Taliban, who has connived in keeping anti-woman laws in place, who is directly responsible for the deaths and injuries to countless Indian citizens ?
Till when do we keep on doing such behaviour. We have almost given Pakistan a good citizen behaviour by agreeing that it is the victim of terror. In effect, with the Havana agreement, Pakistan is being asked to monitor its own supported terror networks. It is like forgiving a mafia don because one of his men turned against him and he is suffering because of that. The last major time the world agreed to do something like this, the example was a resounding disaster. Neville Chamberlain agreed to what Hitler wanted (maybe because he was the ruler of Germany and they had to keep him engaged).
There is a change happening nowadays. Slowly we are accepting that these two nations, burn in blood and hatred can never be friends. We need to calibrate our policies in such a way that Pakistan keeps on feeling pain if it continues on its terrorist path.

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:48 AM    

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sealing case - What does the Govt do ?

Well, the Supreme Case came out with a judgement (again interim) today. They have not yet decided on the actual notifications, but I will go out on a limb and say that the Govt is in for some severe criticism when the notification issued by the Govt actually get decided.
The interim judgement is not something that is making the trading community happy. It is only the small shops providing convenient services that have been spared. Grocers, and others of similar nature have been spared subject to them getting registered. It is the bigger showrooms that have been spared for another month due to the festival season. It seems like the writing is on the wall, they need to plan to move out of the residential colonies where they have their disruptive presence and move to regular demarcated commercial locations. The Supreme Court is showing a humanitarian outlook towards the smaller traders, and being harsh towards the Govt.
The other interesting thing that has happened as a part of this issue is that the Court has told the Govt to lay off from the threatening utterances. The Govt has made a lot of noise that it is the sole law making body, that the Court has no role to play in all this, and if necessary they will amend the constitution to make sure that the court cannot do anything. So today the Court finally categorically re-asserted its authority and told the Govt that it cannot keep on trying to overide the orders of the Court. Further, any measure that the Govt takes should be first placed before the Court. These statements were on expected lines. I never thought that the Court will accept the statements by the Govt lying down.
Now what will the Govt do ? It cannot do anything other than to wait for the Court to decide on the notification and the law passed by Parliament. Now, the traders are finally articulating that the Govt is to blame for all this mess. Such an attitude of questioning wrong policies by the Govt or inaction will eventually lead to the betterment of the Govt functioning. It will eventually lead to a better situation where the Govt does what is right rather than decide its action based on vote bank politics or money contribution based.

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:51 AM    

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Maharashta bomb case - an update ..

The TADA court is going with the verdict part of the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. Even though I argued, and continue to argue, that the case should have been decided much earlier so as to depict justice having been done; a conviction even now is better than none. This is one of the most important cases in the history of terrorism in India, and the verdicts so far seem to portend that nothing untoward is happening in the case. The sentencing phase is still due, and the verdict on Sanjay Dutt is still to happen for some time more (something that most journalists are eager to cover).
However, this case does prove to be a benchmark. Based on successful conclusion of the case, there must be some deterrent value. Terrorists must realize that, no matter when they did the act, they will be caught, convicted and sentenced.
But, the incomplete part of the case really begs out for a proper conclusion - the presence in court of Dawood, Tiger Memom and their supporters in the Pakistani military establishment. No matter how much time has passed, this is a big missing point, and the case will never be successfully completed until these missing folks are brought to Indian justice. Such an event is necessary for the full circle of justice to happen. But, one does not have too much hope that such a thing will happen.

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:23 AM    

Monday, September 25, 2006

Indian Govt vs. highest court

Today the Govt of India and Delhi had another day in the Supreme Court. If it was something else, the resolve and dedication shown by the Govt would be incredible. If the Govt showed some of these slippery properties while advancing its reform agenda in the face of opposition from its allies, then the growth that we have seen would have been much further ahead. Instead, all the effort of the Govt is to push the agenda of something that is patently illegal. Shows the true value of money and vote bank politics in a democracy.
The traders are caught in the middle. Due to the failure of the governing agencies to follow and enforce the law all these years (heaven knows the amount of corruption that this would have lead to), the trader community had got entrenched in their positions. Their stand is simple, we are here, so legalize it. And the Govt nodded its head and said "Yes Sir". Thus you have ministers making statements like "laws we make are not subject to judicial review", "we just have the best interests of people", and the best one "trust us to do the right thing".
So today the Supreme Court did not give an order, they reserved their orders for a few days away. No doubt the Govt is sweating. The Govt will certainly not be the winner in a confrontation with the judiciary. One possible outcome is that the Court will give a severe whip-lashing to the Govt about not following its orders and using the law and order bogey to not take any action. The other likely outcome is that the Court is not going to order uprooting of small establishments, instead going after the bigger fish who end up ruining perfectly quiet and peaceful residential areas. Let us hope that this will be the outcome.

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:09 AM    

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sealings case - Govt vs judiciary

This present Govt is impossible. It believes that it is morally right, and it has the arrogance of righteousness. It is not able to perceive how badly the Govt is being viewed on the sealings issue by a normal citizen. Citizens have been affected badly by the inordinate growth in commerial establishments in every nook and corner of Delhi, including right next to people's home. The impact o this commercialization is hurting the quality of life for everybody in the city.
What is the Govt doing in all this ? When the courts are trying to implement the rule of law, the Govt, instead of supporting this effort is trying to do whatever it can to overturn the orders of the court and quite literally cock a snook at the court.
We have the spectacle of the Hon. Jaipal Reddy, Union Urban Misdevelopment Minister wrongly displaying his knowledge of law. His contention was that it is the role of Govt and parliament to make laws, and the courts have no role to play in this. Well, Mr. Minister, under our constitution, the supreme authority in the country is the consititution of India, and the courts are the interpreters and safe-keepers of the constitution. If the Govt so wishes, it can legalize any illegality. However, it is for the courts to state whether such a law is indeed valid or is ultra vires of the constitution. In the present case, the commercial establishments are patently illegal and are having an impact on the quality of life of normal citizens. But does the Govt really care. All it cares is that the contributions it gets from these people will be impacted. It has essentially given up on being on the right side.
What else does the Govt do ? It passes a law that allows an extra floor to be built for a large section of plots. Can it promise power / water / sewage / extra roads for the more people it is permitting to be in a given area. No, it can't promise this even for the current number of people there. Does it care, I really don't think so. What a disaster this Govt is turning out to be.
What can people do ? You can do a lot, write petitions, take out protest marches, complain to your elected misrepresentative. Write letters to newspapers, show your face in TV cameras and protest against this. Do something before it is too late.

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 9:26 AM    

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Delhi illegal buildings - sealing and so on ..

There is a drama that has been playing in Delhi for some time now. You see a city full to the brink, beset by incredible traffic problems, parking problems, and god knows what else. One could argue that the city is already suffering from a collapsing infrastructure; evidenced by power problems, water problems, transport problems, etc.
Delhi is currently an urban sprawl with a mix of commercial and residential establishments everywhere. Any place you go to, any locality you visit, you will see signs and boards every few meters proclaiming some commercial establishment. If you get really lucky, you will see some big shop or bank at the side of the road due to which there will be a number of vehicles jostling for inadequate parking, the perfect recipe for a traffic jam.
This growth of commercial places has been totally due to government apathy. The municipal corporation has the responsibility to ensure that residential areas retain their nature. A look around Delhi reveals the extent of their failure. Over a number of years, the common citizen has had to put up with incredible problems - problems of parking next to their homes, safety problems due to eateries and other such shops being open in residential areas attracting undesirable elements, and so on.
Imagine having a big popular shop next to your house, which is in a residential area and where you would be expecting peace. Instead there is commotion, lots of traffic, and other such things that are very far from a peaceful existence. One can forcefully argue that this situation affects the quality of one's life.The other angle to this is the law abiding shop-keeper who actually took a shop in a properly demarcated market. Such a shop-keeper would feel that he made a mistake by doing the right thing, and one would be assured that the next time he has to setup something, he would just go ahead and set it up a in a residential colony next to his consumers. No more doing the right thing.
And the worst thing of all, the courts are seized of the illegal nature of these commercial establishments and are trying to enforce the rule of law. And who is opposing them, it is our own elected representatives. The number of measures taken by the politicians to try and overturn the efforts of the courts brings shame to our eyes. The politicians who should be supporting the rights of normal citizens are instead fighting tooth and nail to ensure that this illegality continues. They must be really facing the heat from the traders who must have threatened to cut off their funds and this is something that must be really pinching to the politicians.
What can we do ? We should raise our voices to ensure that the efforts of the court to enfore the rule of law should continue and the intentions of the politicians do not succeed.

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:17 AM    

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Maharashtra bomb blasts - the judgement

So the judgement is finally coming in. First the spectacle of the Memom family minus the main accused (Tiger Memom). The other Memom accused have been in jail for around 12 + years now, so there may be a strong chance that they will get minor additional sentences or a few of them may be convicted to time already served and let off. If this happens, it will give a negative signal. For example, if one of them gets convicted to 15 years in prison, he/she will walk out within 2 years. If however, they had convicted them in 1995 in a fast track trial, there would have been a much stronger depiction of the might of the law. There is a lot to be said about concluding trials much faster.
Inspite of all these delays, I think that I would veer around to saying better late than never. There have hardly been any major convictions in terrorist cases. The only news one gets from time to time is that this terrorist who was involved in this incident was either killed or arrested. The legal awarding of justice is something that citizens would really like to see. In that sense, the current trial and delivery of the judgement will atleast serve to depict that people involved in heinous crimes can and will be punished.
If only the other main folks, Dawood, Tiger Memom and sponsors in the Pakistani establishment were also apprehended and punished. If only...
One other news that everyone is waiting for is "What will happen to Sanjay Dutt" ? He was responsible for a crime, what does not seem to be clear is his level of comprehension as to what he was getting involved in. But of course, the law needs to take its own course. No matter how high and mighty you are, there is a consequence of ones actions that needs to be paid for.

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 7:20 AM    

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Maharashtra Bombs circa 1993 - The continuing saga

Finally the wheels of the justice system seem to be moving. One starts to think about all the old sayings about what one desires from the judicial system. People tend to feel that justice should seem to have been done in order to continue to believe in the legal system.
After 13 years (which is a pretty long time frame), the accused in the 1993 Mumbai blasts are being sentenced. This was a high-profile case, and one would have expected that there would have been a fast investigation and an equally fast trial. 13 years is a very very long period of time. If one of the objectives of the legal system is to showcase such cases as deterrents to would be criminals, then that was an objective that has not been achieved. And owing to the fact that we have to give everyone a due process of law (which is actually a good thing), this is not the end. The same case will go to the High Court, and the Supreme Court. I would expect that it would be another decade before the people who have done this crime get their legal punishment. This is a mockery. If it takes 20 years to finally convict (and maybe execute) people who have committed such grave crimes, then we need to do something different.
This case is not a good precedent.

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 12:57 AM    

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Maharashtra Bombs - The story continues

There is some further news on the the Maharashtra bombs attack. Refer this news article:
The police claim that they believe that the bombs were not using RDX, instead these were bombs that were made locally. And I believe that that will be the end of the story, any investigation that happens will be on a half-hearted scale. They will arrest a few people, and then a lot of well meaning intellectuals will scream that the police is doing investigations using a religious bias, and that is where the story will end.
These bombs being made locally is a far more serious threat. If the bombs were using RDX, then there is a logistical loop involved in getting the RDX, and that gives the police a further chance to break the chain. If these bombs are made using locally available materials, then there is a strong possibility that the terrorist cell involved in this terrorist activity is more self-contained and far more difficult to detect. It also serves as a role model for wanna-be terrorists looking to emulate these activities.

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:04 AM    

Friday, September 08, 2006

Today there was a major set of blasts in a comunally sensitive area of Mumbai, India. This left around 38 people dead and over 100 injured. Had this happened in other countries, there would have been an incredible amount of soul-searching and action to track down the involved. But it is a misfortune that we have a Government that will be more interested in making time pass so that people forget about this. The current Congress Government has too many things in its head - it has to make sure that its electoral base does not get affected and for this, it cannot afford to investigate this terrorist act too deeply for fear of alienating its base. There have been numerous acts of terrorism and the Government somehow does not lend itself to reassuring citizens that it will be able to overcome the acts being committed against India. What we as citizens need to do is to give a wake up call to the Government to live up to its responsibility and act to prevent such acts of terrorism happening again against the citizens of India.

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:35 AM    

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Telgi bribery scam

Was just reading a story that has been in the news, on and off for some years now:
This scam is a national disgrace. A crook ran a scam using fake stamps, and this has been going on and on for a long time, enough for him to generate thousands of millions of rupees. The interesting part of this was the amount of time it took for him to get caught. Eveybody agrees that this could not have been possible without the active complicity of the police and political class. The biggest problem with this investigation is that it is always there in the back of ones mind that a lot of the people involved will get away scot-free. For once, one hopes that the various people involved get prosecuted and convicted. This will go a long way in enforcing the rule of law in the country.

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:23 AM    

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Much ado about the Vande Matram

There has been a lot of controversy about the singing of the Vande Matram, and this just refuses to die down. Take a look at the following URL from the Times of India: (Note: I am in no way afflicated to the Times of India, it's just one location to read news).
The biggest problem is that this is a lot of controversy that got created without much valid reason. The Govt proposed that school children sings the national song mandatorily as part of centenary celebrations (even though later research showed that there was no centenary as such). A section of the Muslim ulema objected to singing the Vande Matram on religious grounds, and the Govt withdrew the directions. The BJP objected to this backdown on patriotic grounds claiming that the Govt is failing to respect the national song.
The Govt draws criticism due to being perceived as pandering to a section of the religious class and not being able to take a stand which is right. This is its biggest failing.

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 8:58 AM    

Monday, September 04, 2006

Communists and policies in India

For those following the twists and turns of the policies played by the Communist party in India, this one is an absolute twist: The CPM tries to put a control on the Election Comission of India. Refer the following blog entry:
The Election Comission is one of the most respected constitutional bodies in India. One thing that is normally expected from the communists is that they support things that seem right and proper. However, in this case, maybe because of the way that the EC conducted the West Bengal election, they are all riled up. The EC is a body that is respected by most Indians, and few would be willing to tamper with the way it works. Yet, in a move that seems almost paradoxical, the left parties are challenging the EC's functioning. Indians who care for the well being of the country should oppose this in all ways.

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 8:17 AM    

Saturday, September 02, 2006

First One

Just a draft to see whether things are working properly

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:12 PM