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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hindus in Pakistan: The nowhere people

November 29, 2011

Tarun Vijay visits a tent camp in New Delhi where Hindu refugees from Pakistan try and start a new life.

Pakistan doesn't send just terrorists like Ajmal Kasab. They send Hindus too -- forcing them to flee if they want to save their honour and their lives.

The common Hindu is a mute spectator to the changing times and the Abbotabad, Haqqani and ISI phenomenon.

He cannot comment on the political situation of his country. He cannot vote as freely as a common Muslim Pakistani. He is constitutionally directed to vote only for the Hindu candidates in their designated constituencies.

A country that might have taken birth in 1947, but the land belonged to his ancestors for centuries. He is as much the owner of the land of the 'pure' as any other religionist. But while the 'other' religionist is free to vote and shout for his rights and participate in the mainstream activities, he for just being a Hindu is asked to live in a cocoon.

Hindu women do not display the bindi or mangalsutra out of fear. Most of the Hindu temples (except a few I saw in Karachi) have posters and calendars in place of stone images of gods and goddesses. Their kids have to learn, compulsorily Islamiyat in schools.

Even in areas like Sindh and Hyderabad, where Hindu concentration is comparatively larger, no school is allowed for minorities to teach their children their religious books and cultural values. They have to do it silently in their homes.

Hindu priests too wear half skullcaps to look like everybody else around. Identity shouldn't be disclosed, is the first step to survive.

One evening my friend and renowned human rights activist Rajesh Gogna took me to meet some of the Pakistanis who had to leave the land of their ancestors in search of dignity and freedom.

They were in tents and their kids were playing in the dirt. But their faces looked glowing with confidence and assured safety. They were smiling.

Freedom makes even the refugee souls happy.

They are all from Sindh Hyderabad, Pakistan -- 28 families, 151 persons, including women, kids and the old men.

Arjun Das, their more vocal leader says, "We tried for seven years to get visas from the Indian embassy. Every year we returned with denials. It had become an annual ritual for us to travel to Islamabad, as India has no consulate in Karachi. We would wait for hours and days outside the Indian High Commission for our turn to come. And then they would say -- visa nahin milega (you won't get a visa)."

"This year, fortunately we got the visa and silently came out of Sindh, Hyderabad. We too the train to Lahore and then to the Attari border by bus. We had visa permission to visit Delhi and Hardwar, so reached here in the ashram of our Guru Baba Ghunni Das Maharaj."

Lacchmi is in her early seventies. She was playing with her grandson and said, when I asked why she chose to come to India, she said: "We have had a life full of misery and ghulami. I didn't want that for my grandchildren. They must get a chance to live as Hindus and study. It's nothing but Islamiyat teachings in schools and the entire atmosphere pushed our kids either to convert to Islam or live a rotten life worse than animals."

I met Jeevan, a 14-year-old boy. He says, "I was stopped from wearing a hanuman locket by my teachers in school. They taught Islamiyat and teased me for having a tuft. They would always use sarcastic words to belittle me before my friends, for no reason."

Abusing and cracking jokes on Hindus is a common practice. Even in their movies and plays, often Hindus are shown as lecherous, ready to do any dirty thing for money, and as spineless banias.

Sobha Ram, 65, says, "If you have money, you may survive by giving donations to Islamic organisations. But what do we have? Our honour is always at stake. We can't go to the higher authorities. We don't have any resources. We work in the farms of Muslim landlords and make a small living. But our daughters and sisters are always victims of the lust of landlords. They are forcibly converted, nikahs are solemnised without our consent and then there is nothing but darkness for us."

"Even in death they humiliate us," says Sobha Ram, "often they don't allow us to cremate our dead. Our cremation grounds are encroached upon and they tell us to bury our dead as the cremations leave a 'bad odour' that they dislike."

So far Gogna's Human Rights Defence India organisation has helped these hapless refugees from Pakistan.

Some other organisations are also chipping in.

They too are trying to make a living by selling mobile phone covers and small toys in the Old Delhi area.

They want citizenship, a place to live and start a new life.

Do we have time and a political will to hear their woes and help? Certainly there are well meaning Pakistanis, columnists and human rights activists in Islamabad and Karachi, who feel for them, write for their rights and take up their cause in Islamabad, braving the Talibnanised atmosphere.

Hats off to their efforts.

But they can just write and have such incidents mentioned. The help at ground level demands state government's intervention and a political will in Islamabad.

Tarun Vijay is a Rajya Sabha MP and national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Times of India--- Malaysian MPs seek BJP's help against discrimination

IANS | Nov 28, 2011, 10.03PM IST

Picture shows (above) Shri Shri Shrigopal Vyas, Hon'ble MP, Rajya Sabha and Shri Tarun Vijay welcoming the distinguished MPS from Malaysia Hon'ble M Manogaran and S Ramakrishnan.

NEW DELHI: MPs from Malaysia's opposition Democratic Action Party Monday urged the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership to raise issues of "discrimination" against Malayasian Hindus in their bilateral meetings with the authorities of their country.
MPs M Manogaran and S Ramakrishnan said they had a cultural and civilisational bond with India and want it to provide "leadership on issues concerning human rights".

Talking to reporters at the residence of BJP MP Tarun Vijay, the two MPs said there had been incidents of attacks on Hindu groups but their complaints had not been addressed.

The MPs, who have met BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, are also intending to meet senior party leader L.K. Advani.
They said they did not want India to interfere in their country's domestic affairs and were not seeking any physical help.

Vijay said the MPs wanted to make people in India "aware about the discriminatory policies against the Malaysian Hindus".
He said BJP hoped the government will take up their concerns as India is a signatory to universal declaration on human rights.

अधिनियम का आधार


तरुण विजय

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Wal-Mart You Don't Know


The giant retailer's low prices often come with a high cost. Wal-Mart's relentless pressure can crush the companies it does business with and force them to send jobs overseas. Are we shopping our way straight to the unemployment line?

A gallon-sized jar of whole pickles is something to behold. The jar is the size of a small aquarium. The fat green pickles, floating in swampy juice, look reptilian, their shapes exaggerated by the glass. It weighs 12 pounds, too big to carry with one hand. The gallon jar of pickles is a display of abundance and excess; it is entrancing, and also vaguely unsettling. This is the product that Wal-Mart fell in love with: Vlasic's gallon jar of pickles.

Wal-Mart priced it at $2.97--a year's supply of pickles for less than $3! "They were using it as a 'statement' item," says Pat Hunn, who calls himself the "mad scientist" of Vlasic's gallon jar. "Wal-Mart was putting it before consumers, saying, This represents what Wal-Mart's about. You can buy a stinkin' gallon of pickles for $2.97. And it's the nation's number-one brand."

Therein lies the basic conundrum of doing business with the world's largest retailer. By selling a gallon of kosher dills for less than most grocers sell a quart, Wal-Mart may have provided a ser-vice for its customers. But what did it do for Vlasic? The pickle maker had spent decades convincing customers that they should pay a premium for its brand. Now Wal-Mart was practically giving them away. And the fevered buying spree that resulted distorted every aspect of Vlasic's operations, from farm field to factory to financial statement.

Indeed, as Vlasic discovered, the real story of Wal-Mart, the story that never gets told, is the story of the pressure the biggest retailer relentlessly applies to its suppliers in the name of bringing us "every day low prices." It's the story of what that pressure does to the companies Wal-Mart does business with, to U.S. manufacturing, and to the economy as a whole. That story can be found floating in a gallon jar of pickles at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is not just the world's largest retailer. It's the world's largest company--bigger than ExxonMobil, General Motors, and General Electric. The scale can be hard to absorb. Wal-Mart sold $244.5 billion worth of goods last year. It sells in three months what

number-two retailer Home Depot sells in a year. And in its own category of general merchandise and groceries, Wal-Mart no longer has any real rivals. It does more business than Target, Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Safeway, and Kroger combined. "Clearly," says Edward Fox, head of Southern Methodist University's J.C. Penney Center for Retailing Excellence, "Wal-Mart is more powerful than any retailer has ever been." It is, in fact, so big and so furtively powerful as to have become an entirely different order of corporate being.

Wal-Mart wields its power for just one purpose: to bring the lowest possible prices to its customers. At Wal-Mart, that goal is never reached. The retailer has a clear policy for suppliers: On basic products that don't change, the price Wal-Mart will pay, and will charge shoppers, must drop year after year. But what almost no one outside the world of Wal-Mart and its 21,000 suppliers knows is the high cost of those low prices. Wal-Mart has the power to squeeze profit-killing concessions from vendors. To survive in the face of its pricing demands, makers of everything from bras to bicycles to blue jeans have had to lay off employees and close U.S. plants in favor of outsourcing products from overseas.

Of course, U.S. companies have been moving jobs offshore for decades, long before Wal-Mart was a retailing power. But there is no question that the chain is helping accelerate the loss of American jobs to low-wage countries such as China. Wal-Mart, which in the late 1980s and early 1990s trumpeted its claim to "Buy American," has doubled its imports from China in the past five years alone, buying some $12 billion in merchandise in 2002. That's nearly 10% of all Chinese exports to the United States.

One way to think of Wal-Mart is as a vast pipeline that gives non-U.S. companies direct access to the American market. "One of the things that limits or slows the growth of imports is the cost of establishing connections and networks," says Paul Krugman, the Princeton University economist. "Wal-Mart is so big and so centralized that it can all at once hook Chinese and other suppliers into its digital system. So--wham!--you have a large switch to overseas sourcing in a period quicker than under the old rules of retailing."

Steve Dobbins has been bearing the brunt of that switch. He's president and CEO of Carolina Mills, a 75-year-old North Carolina company that supplies thread, yarn, and textile finishing to apparel makers--half of which supply Wal-Mart. Carolina Mills grew steadily until 2000. But in the past three years, as its customers have gone either overseas or out of business, it has shrunk from 17 factories to 7, and from 2,600 employees to 1,200. Dobbins's customers have begun to face imported clothing sold so cheaply to Wal-Mart that they could not compete even if they paid their workers nothing.

"People ask, 'How can it be bad for things to come into the U.S. cheaply? How can it be bad to have a bargain at Wal-Mart?' Sure, it's held inflation down, and it's great to have bargains," says Dobbins. "But you can't buy anything if you're not employed. We are shopping ourselves out of jobs."

Hazards of FDI in retail by Pankaj Gupta

The much-awaited go-ahead for FDI in multi-brand retail has raised fears not only of unemployment -- as Union Minister Dinesh Trivedi observed -- but of creation of monopolies in the food sector.

The government has sought to sweeten the deal by restricting the entry of Walmart, Carrefour et al to 37 urban centres with a population of one million or more -- but this is no hardship for the multinationals, as it is unlikely that smaller centres figure in their initial rollout plan in any case.

The rationale for the decision is ostensibly to control food prices, as suggested by the Inter-Ministerial Group, IMG, on inflation. Permitting farm-to-fork retail is seen as a means of containing food inflation. India being apparently too resource-poor to achieve this, the retail sector had to be opened to FDI.

FDI enthusiasts say the entry of Wal-Mart and its ilk will ensure that the producer gets a better price, the consumer gets cheaper products (as the company purchases directly from the farmgate, there is no middleman) and jobs and infrastructure are created.

This rosy picture must be taken with a pinch of salt. To begin with, the FDI proposal was initiated long before food inflation became an issue, so clearly it has been pushed through because of considerations other than rising prices.

Essentially, a vertical integration of the food supply chain is proposed on the assumption that it will have a positive impact on all the stakeholders. The caveat that 50 per cent of investment must be in the rural sector is meaningless; building a supply chain from farmgate to shelf would naturally entail investment in storage and transportation infrastructure in rural areas wherever the supply bases are located.

The primary producers are expected to get better prices. But nowhere in the world have the farmers who supply goods to big retail chains benefitted. It is difficult to understand how they would benefit, when players like Wal-Mart look for the cheapest possible suppliers. To sell cheap, they buy even cheaper. To begin with, they might offer better remuneration, but that would be only until traditional channels like ahratiyas are eliminated and the farmers have no choice but to sell to Big Retail -- at any price. In his book Stuffed & Starved,.

The contention that FDI will create jobs is also open to question, as it is more likely to create large-scale unemployment. The unorganised retail trade in India accounts for over 40 million jobs and 98 per cent of the total trade. This includes pansaaris, kirana shops, hardware stores, convenience stores, weekly haats, paan and tobacco shops, as well as a whole range of teh-bazaari (pavement vendors). It is informal, with credit traditionally extended on trust and based on an intricate web of relationships.

The majority of consumers, who buy essentials from their neighbourhood stores on credit and pay bills on a monthly basis, will also suffer with the disruption of the traditional system.

Hundreds of thousands of people who earn their livelihood from the 12 million existing retail outlets may be put out of business by Big Retail. Some may find employment with Big Retail although this is doubtful given their lack of language skills or education -- the minimum requirement for staff at any sizeable store is a command of English. Even if they did, there would not be enough jobs to go around.

Global retail giants are highly capital intensive and create fewer jobs. A single Wal-Mart store could put tens of thousands of mom and pop stores out of business -- as it did in the US -- while generating perhaps 3,000 jobs.

Traditional retail will struggle with the likes of Wal-Mart and lose, because Big Retail with its deep pockets, would resort to predatory pricing. Nor should we expect ethical practices from multinational players.

In a highly publicised case, the Punjab excise and taxation department raided 'Best Price,' a joint venture between Bharti and Wal-Mart. The company was only licensed for wholesale cash-and-carry trading, in which 100 per cent FDI is allowed. According to press reports, it was found to be carrying out retail trade through the issue of membership cards to those who did not have a valid VAT number.

Drawbacks to allowing FDI in retail were pointed out by the Standing Committee of Parliament in June 2009. In the absence of a level playing field between Indian retail and the MNCs, it suggested comprehensive steps to strengthen the former before opening the gates to FDI. Otherwise, it said, the economy would suffer and widespread unemployment would lead to social unrest.

The third great myth about FDI in retail is that it will improve infrastructure by attracting investment in storage and transportation. Why Indian companies in the retail sector have not invested in the back-end along with the front-end is yet to be explained.

Indian economy was dominated by the services sector, accounting for 58 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and it was not ready for FDI in the retail sector.

1. There will be monopoly of big retails houses and small shops will be squeezed.

2. Farmer will have to supply at the price these retails so demand as a small farmers will have no bargaining power.

3. Threat to food security of the nation.

4. Will kill more than 40 crore jobs.

5. Craving of luxury and unnecessary items will increase causing less inclination for savings.

6. Lower of savings will lead to problems such as faced by west.

7. Chinese model is not best suited to india because they are manufacturing economy while we are a service base economy.

8. No guarantee that best practices will be followed by large retail houses.

9. Lots of dotcoms will have to close shop since Amazon and others will kill such marginal players.

10. Small states will suffer the most in the long run(states such as Uttrakhand).

11. Lead to greater corruption and other unethical practices. as larger players know how to bend the rules in their favor.

12. Well increase social disparity and the middle class which has been the motor of our growth will be substantially hit.

The disadvantages of Big Brand retail shops

No, I do not intend to make a socialist case here, which is best left to political parties and activists. Here, I intend to spell the disadvantages that big brand retail shops have for me as a consumer. This is in the back-drop of the Indian government approving 51% foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail or hypermarts, as they are known in the west. This will bring in the big guys like Wal-Mart, Carrefour, etc. The benefits are being touted as big for consumers. They will bring in money, their expertise with supply chain management, etc. to sell goods to consumers at the lowest prices.

But for this, they need infrastructure, which the government would have to provide. Large warehouses would necessitate a smooth supply of electricity, well connected roadways to connect the warehouses to manufacturing centres and the stores, etc. This is woefully missing in India, where outside big cities, a minimum 6-8 hours of load-shedding is considered normal. The success of such retail firms relies big time on the availability of such first class infrastructure. But, whether they succeed or not, they have many disadvantages for consumers.

We may not realise this, but in the quest for selling things at cheaper rates to us, these retail outlets rely more on volumes of business, compared to per unit margins. So, the brand that sells most is the one they will stock. Of course, there are a number of subtle tricks they use to entice us into buying certain brands or products, but then, that is a completely different topic. So, if you like a particular brand and fragrance of incense sticks, you might not find it in the supermarket, because they do not get good volumes on it. And you are stuck to buying from the ones available in the store. So, you tend to lose your favourite brands, if they do not fit in the strategy of the supermarket. The small shopkeeper, though, will keep a fairly diverse number of products. Smaller quantities of the less popular ones may be stocked, but nevertheless, you have a fairly high chance of finding your choice there, than the supermarket.

If a certain product is out-of-stock in the supermarket, you have no way of knowing when it will arrive. The mom-and-pop shopkeeper around the corner, will not only give you an idea of when the product will arrive but also keep it aside for you, once it is in. This personalisation of service is out of question for supermarkets! Their business model just does not have this feature.

Thirdly, the supermarkets stock only big sized products. E.g. shampoos in large bottles, toothpastes are available only in 400 gm. size or detergents in min. 1 kg stocks or buy-3-get-4th-free soaps and many more such things. A very huge number of India's people live on frugal income. For them, to spend Rs. 100 (for a shampoo) in one go is extremely difficult. That is why most of India's FMCG manufacturers have come up with small sized packs (sachets for shampoos, detergents, 50 gm. toothpastes, etc.) which cost very less and are affordable to that population. Such small sizes are not stocked by the supermarkets, as the margin is too low and their rate of sale unpredictable to justify the efforts required to stock them. So, (even if you have a high salaried job but) if you live alone, you won't be able to purchase these things. If staying alone, I wouldn't want to buy a pack of 4 soaps and be stuck with them for 6 odd months. I would rather buy a single cake of soap, which would last for well over a month and be free to choose a different soap every time. Plus, I would be left with liquid cash, free to spend it as I like, instead of being tied up in three soap cakes, which would be useful only after a month.

Such mass stocking of products also hampers the variety available and this is especially visible in the clothing sections. They will not stock premium products. E.g., here in Edmonton, people advise to get winter jackets from special shops, not from Walmart, as it doesn't stock those. These supermarkets won't stock out-of-season stuff too. E.g. no chappals or floaters are available in the supermarkets during winter. For that, you have to look out in the footwear shops only.

This is a very simplistic analysis of what would happen to us as consumers, if big supermarkets are allowed to dominate the retail business scene. Most of it is my personal experience. In India, there is a certain social aspect associated with shopping, which will not be available in supermarkets. The shopkeeper and the shop is where the local news is exchanged. Moreover, the personal relation developed with the shopkeeper help us in many other ways. His/her network helps us access various other services. E.g., some of his relative or acquaintance might be running a travel agency, from where we would be able to rent a car. Or contract a plumber's services at discounted rates. These informal channels will not be available with supermarkets. Economic and social analyses tend to indicate contrary views, but as a consumer, will we get all that we want? I have my doubts. We might end up getting what the supermarket wants to sell to us and when they want to sell it. As consumers, if we would like to have wider choices, I think supermarkets should not have a free run in the Indian economy.

FDI in multi-brand retail in India - A blunt body blow

By Shekar Swamy,

Group CEO, R K SWAMY HANSA and Visiting Faculty, Northwestern University, USA.

The views are personal.

The big boys of global retail must be readying the champagne. The Indian corporate sector with investments in retail is rejoicing at the prospect of the deals they can be doing shortly to shore up their balance sheets. At the time of this writing, the government which has been talking about an ‘inclusive’ agenda for growth is about to deal a body blow to the small traders and the entire retail and distribution chain, by allowing 51% foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail. This will be a huge mistake that the country will pay for over time. For the present, the government can claim that it is on track with its “reforms” agenda and that is all they seemed to be concerned with for now. The manner in which the policy is outlined is itself a dead giveaway that the policy makers are well aware of the pitfalls. They are declaring that this is a policy designed to support big capital and the predatory multinationals in retail. The policy states in action that the government is not concerned about the interests of the small and medium businesses in the millions that will be adversely affected. Let’s look at what has been outlined and what it means.

1. Foreign retailers will have 51% equity interest. This means they can control the Indian operations and consolidate the financials with the parent company. All kinds of transfer pricing will be possible which will not be transparent in India. Investments can be made without accounting for losses in the parents’ books, in the year incurred (it can be classified as investment in the books for a period of time). This opacity is what big companies seek all over the world. They can lose money for years and decades, and call them “investments”.

2. The minimum amount fixed for foreign investment is $100 mn … over Rs 500 crs at today’s exchange rates. By definition, the policy is designed in favour of the big guys. In reality, the big foreign retailers will invest billions to take over a ready market, as they have done in other countries. With global sales in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and with unlimited access to capital, even the sky is not the limit for what they can invest. The small Indian retailer and wholesaler and trader will simply be swept aside by their money power. Just consider this. As they build scale, the foreign retailer can go into any mandi or market and buy up the entire supply of whatever is available there. All those dependent for a living as participants in the supply chain will be rendered jobless. Money power will enable the big foreign retailer to set the price at which they will buy. It will enable them to hold and sell at any price they want. This will be the exact opposite of what is in place today.

3. The foreign retailer can purchase locally all agricultural produce, including fruits and vegetables, pulses, fresh poultry, fishery and meat products, and sell them unbranded in their stores. They can virtually corner the market and trade in these products. If in a local region in India this trade is served by tens of thousands of small people, they will be replaced by giant retailers with money power. What the small trader will do when his livelihood is taken away appears not to be a concern of the government.

4. The policy says that at least 50% of the investment must be in “back-end infrastructure”. What constitutes “back-end infrastructure” is not defined (not seen in the media so far). Perfect, says the foreign retailer. They will have to invest in infrastructure in any case. They will set up their own warehouses. They will have their own fleet of trucks. In India, lakhs of small truckers and owners of LCVs make a living moving agricultural produce. To the extent the big retailers take this over, this avenue of making a living will be closed.

5. The policy recommendation stipulates at least 30% of the procurement of manufactured and processed products should be sourced from “small industry”. Such a concession is made precisely because policymakers are aware that small industry is under threat. What is lost in this is the fact that Indian retail trade sources far more than 30% currently from small industry. So this is no concession. Small industries will suffer a massive loss of access to the consumer and market.

Further such a stipulation cannot be implemented. The game of the big foreign retailer is one of building scale and fixing large sources of supply. How will the small supplier cater to them? How will the government ensure this happens? There is no clarity on this.

6. All compliance is supposed to be through self certification of the foreign retailers. They are supposed to maintain all records. In reality, what is the method to monitor them? So this process of self certification is touchingly naïve. The Indian government that views all Indian businessmen, companies and traders with a huge dose of distrust is quite happy to repose its trust with a bunch of big foreign retailers who are involved in hundreds of litigation issues all over the world. Why this faith in companies whose track record the world over is hardly clean?

7. The policy states that retail locations should be restricted to cities with one million plus population. This is to protect the smaller cities and rural areas from the predatory practices of the foreign retailers. This shows that the policy makers know and understand the implications. They are sacrificing the small retailers in the cities with full knowledge of the consequences.

8. The government is retaining the first right to procure agricultural produce. This is hardly a policy. Such a right exists with or without stating it. It is an admission that things can go wrong, if foreign retailers end up controlling the nation’s food supply chain. This misses the point to a large extent. Even if the government keeps the right to procurement, but if the distribution channels are controlled by foreign entities over time, the nation’s interest is still in jeopardy.

The government is playing with the lives of millions of small people. It is remarkable that a government that talks the language of “inclusive growth” is sacrificing the aam aadmi to support big foreign capital. As the old observation goes, it is not what they say but what they do that reveals the true colours.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Parliamentarians pay floral tributes to Indira

New Delhi, November 19, 2011

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, opposition leader in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi today led Parliamentarians in paying floral tributes to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her birth anniversary at Parliament House. Besides Mukherjee, Swaraj and Sonia, several Union Ministers and MPs, including Jitin Prasada, RPN Singh and Karan Singh, and BJP spokesperson Tarun Vijay paid their tributes.

Vijay said, "We may have differences with Mrs Gandhi but we want to emphasise that we would not bring any party considerations in paying tributes to country's great leaders." A booklet containing the profile of Gandhi brought out in Hindi and English by Lok Sabha Secretariat was also presented to the dignitaries who attended the function.

अलगाव बढाती उपेक्षा


डेली न्यूज़
तरुण विजय

It's like Clinton frisked at IGI by CISF. Try doing it once

14 November 2011

Tarun Vijay

After the Trident Valley humiliation of seeing Indians radio-tracked by the US authorities and a Chinese ‘shut up’ to an Indian journalist on our soil, we see the news about how our most revered icon of scholarship and a hope of new India, former President Abdul Kalam, was frisked at a US airport and even after he had settled down in Air India’s aircraft, his shoes and jacket were taken away by US Transport Security Agency (TSA) agents to be checked.

Air India officials, meek as they are on a gora land, promptly asked Kalam to give his shoes and the jacket.

It's not just a question of a law abiding Kalam, who, perhaps this time too, will issue a statement that nothing insulting has happened and its OK to be following the law of the aliens when on an alien land.

No sir, this should not be accepted as a polite response to a rowdy behaviuor of a state. And the ‘regrets’ of the US transport police too mean nothing.

US knew who Mr Kalam was.

They track everyone who enters their territory and leaves.

And Kalam is not a an ordinary human being. He is greatness personified and a source of inspiration to many millions and besides he represents the state power and the authority bestowed on him by the billion-plus people's democratic government as a former President.

He is a former president of a democracy, which is greater and bigger than the bullying US.

It's not just a lame excuse but an unpardonable lapse, it at all this comes under that category, that the US showed a carelessness to behave properly and give due respect to our former President.

It's like Bill Clinton visiting us and our CISF jawans frisking him, of course, ‘privately’ and then after he has settled down in his Washington bound aircraft, a sub-inspector of the force climbing up the aircraft and asking him to remove his shoes and the jacket, as the CISF jawan at the private frisking cabin forgot to have these valuables checked as per the required procedure.

Try doing this, at least once.

Because we don’t do it, they don’t understand what it means when they cross the limits of decency and a required protocol to those whom they declare as ‘friends and allies’.

The protests by our government, though it must go to their credit that this time they were prompt and got the US apologies too, but sorry, this is not just enough.

Last time too, when the Trident Valley’s Indian students were radio-tracked, our minister issued this statement: "The Union Minister of External Affairs SM Krishna condemns the act of the US government by issuing students with radio trackers as an unacceptable act and it should be removed. The Indian authorities also conveyed to the US authorities that the students among most of which are victims must be treated fairly and reasonably, and the use of the radio trackers should be removed."

But nothing significant change it brought in the US attitude.

We can understand and appreciate its security concerns and often in Indian media and Parliament, the strictness US authorities show to prevent any other repeat of 9/11 is much praised. But that alacrity and alertness is required to be shown to the strangers and common people.

Will they search Nelson Mandela, another former president, like they searched Kalam, if the US wants us to ‘understand’ their security obligations?

No sir, the issue is not of a Kalam or a Mandela. Have power, get honours, is the mantra for a life with your head held high. Have lollypop governance, get your heroes insulted and frisked, is the harsh reality.

मणिपुर से आया मोशांगरुंग

तरुण विजय

Even Google can err-a glaring proof mistake in its headline

See all 59 sources »

BJP claims flood coordination with Left parties

The Hindu - ‎40 minutes ago‎

The BJP on Monday claimed that there will be floor coordination between the NDA and the Left during the winter session of Parliament, including support to each other's motions on issues like price rise and black money.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Northeast India Conclave 2011 held in Delhi.

Shri Tarun Vijay chaired a session of the North East Conclave recently . Here are some pictures of that event with its news published in Assam Tribune, Guwahati.

NEW DELHI, Nov 13 – For the first time, a conclave exclusively focusing on the Northeastern region was organised in the National Capital. The conclave was named as Northeast India Conclave 2011, a Press release said.

The conclave was inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Water Resource Development Vincent H Pala along with former Director of Intelligence Bureau Ajit Doval.

The conclave started with a condolence prayer for the departed soul of the maestro and balladeer from the North East – Dr Bhupen Hazarika.

The event started with its first interactive session on “Problems of Students Studying in Delhi & Other Cities” which was chaired by Union Minister of State for Rural Development, Agatha Sangma along with Commissioner of Delhi Police Brijesh Kumar Gupta, Sr Advocate, Supreme Court Meenakshi Lekhi and TV Media personality of CNN-IBN, Karma Paljor.

The second session on “North East: Policy, Their Efficacy and Need for Reforms was chaired by MP from Sikkim, Prem Das Rai along with former MP of Arunachal Pradesh Kiren Rijiju, former MP of Nagaland Asungba Sangtam and Prof (Dr) A Bimol Akoijam, from School of Social Sciences, JNU.

The final session on “North East Tourism & Its Impact on Cultural Heritage was chaired by MP and BJP spokesperson Tarun Vijay along with former Tourism Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Tsona Rinpoche and others.

The event was planned by Northeast India Foundation – a non-profit organisation.

Shri Tarun Vijay at the Vichar Manch ( intellectual forum) of Gayatri Pariwar's centenary celebrations.

Shri Tarun Vijay was the main speaker at the Vichar Manch ( intellectual forum) of Gayatri Pariwar's Centenary celebrations on 7th November 2011.Here are some pics of that event along with a report sent to us by Gayatri Pariwar Organisation. On the left side, seated on the dias are (l to r) renowned writer Shri Rajiv Malhotra, environmentalist Padmashri Anil Joshi and Swami ji

तरूण विजय ने की आचार्यश्री की किताबों का विमोचन

हरिद्वार, 7 नवंबर। राज्य सभा सांसद व जाने-माने पत्रकार तरूण विजय ने आज गायत्री महाकंुभ में चार भाषाओं में अनुवाद की गई श्रीराम शर्मा आचार्य की 28 किताबों का विमोचन किया। वे यहां विचार मंच पर आयोजित एक कार्यक्रम में शिरकत करने आए थे। उन्होंने इस मौके पर कहा कि विचार क्रांति के जरिये ही भारत के महान गौरव को दोबारा स्थापित किया जा सकता है।

उन्होंने आगे कहा कि भारत पिछले सौ वर्षों में क्षेत्रफल में आधा रहा गया है जबकि चीन अपने आकार का दोगुना हेा गया है। भारत बिडंबनाओं के दौर से गुजर रहा है, जब यहां भारतीयता और संस्कृति की बात की जाती है तो सेक्यूलरवाद का राग अलापा जाने लगता है। विचारों में सैकड़ों बमों के बराबर ताकत होती है।

आतंकवाद के प्रति चिंता वक्त करते हुए उन्होंने कहा कि अंहिसा के सिद्धांत का प्रतिपादन करने वाले देश के पूर्वोत्तर भाग अलगवाद से झुलस रहा है। इन सब चीजों से जूझने के लिए मजूबत राजनैतिक इच्छाशक्ति की आवश्यकता है। आचार्यश्रीे के प्रति श्रद्धांजलि प्रकट करते हुए उन्होंने कहा कि आचार्यश्री एक विचार थे, जो पूरे विश्व की सामाजिक व आर्थिक परिस्थितियों को बदलने की शक्ति रखते हैं। गायत्री परिवार विश्व भर में भारतीय संस्कृति को स्थापित करने के लिए अद्वितीय काम कर रहा है। कार्यक्रम में विभिन्न संस्थाओं से आए मनीषीयों ने भी अपने विचार रखते हुए आचार्यश्री को श्रद्धांजलि दी। इस अवसर पर वीरेश्वर उपाध्याय, पर्यावरणविद अनिल जोशी, स्वामी निसर्ग, डाॅ चंद्रशेखर प्राण, आइवी वासावारेड्डी, डाॅ एनएन खन्ना, सांईश्री मोहनलाल, डाॅ एसपी सिंह मौजूद रहे।

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Murder of four Hindu doctors- a well presented Pakistani view-BAAGHI: Pakistan fights back in Shikarpur —Marvi Sirmed

Shikarpur was to the old Sindh what Karachi is today to Pakistan. Having trade links with Central Asia, from Qandahar to Uzbekistan to Moscow, Shikarpur was the gateway of Sindh to the world

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan saw yet another moment of national shame right on the day of Eid-ul-Azha when four Hindus, including three doctors, were brutally killed in broad daylight. Conflicting media messages and false claims about the motive are but an ugly attempt to justify the crime. According to the story given out to the media, the murders took place after a boy from the Hindu community sexually assaulted a girl from the Muslim Bhayo tribe. Bhayo is the third most influential tribes of Shikarpur after the Jatois and Mahars in Chak town of Shikarpur. Hindus make around 6,000 out of the total 40,000 people in Chak town and are the predominant contributors to Sindh’s economy through trade and other professions. In the local politics of the area, the Hindu community has never been as muted as it is now, after the advent of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), working openly through their unmarked offices and representatives since at least a decade.

One was appalled listening to the people of the town about the immunity with which the SSP operates in Shikarpur in cahoots with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan-Fazl (JUI-F) and with the support of local tribal chiefs and state machinery, especially the police. The accused Bhayo tribe has its members in not only the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (the main accused Babul Khan Bhayo is district head of the PPP), but also in pro-Taliban JUI-F and proscribed militant extremist organisation, the SSP.

According to the details gathered from the local communities, a young girl from Bhayo community went to see her Hindu friend on Diwali night. The girl was seen entering the autaq (sitting area used by males), which was unusual in the local culture. Discovering the boy and the girl together, community elders (Hindus) reportedly beat the boy and sent the girl back to her home. The event triggered the ‘honour’ of the Bhayo tribe. What made things worse was the boy’s religion. The Bhayos felt doubly humiliated.

The Bhayo members of the SSP and the JUI-F started threatening the entire Hindu community since that day. The community requested the police for security after which the police established a small picket near the Hindu neighbourhood. But two hours before the incident, policemen vanished from the scene only to come back half an hour after the ambush. Just when the police pretended to start searching for the culprits, SSP and JUI-F workers gathered around the police station and amid the slogans of Allah-o-Akbar (God is Great) and Jihad Fi Sabilillah (war in the cause of God), they intimidated the police staff and asked to close the case. Resultantly, the FIR could only be registered around 36 hours after the crime. The victims’ family does not agree with the facts described in the state-registered complaint.

Noteworthy is the fact that the victims were not even remotely related to the Hindu boy accused by the Bhayo tribes of being ‘karo’ (accused boy). According to a much-criticised tradition, when an unmarried couple is caught together, they are murdered after the Panchayat is informed. The accused girl (kari) is usually murdered before or with the accused boy (karo). According to the tribal code, karo can only be the one directly involved in the ‘illicit’ relations with the kari. In this case, even the principles of this tradition (unapproved by educated Sindhis), karo-kari (honour killing), were not followed. It is a case of simple and direct targeting of the Hindu community, which remains an endangered one after the religious extremists were installed in the area for running the madrassas.

Madrassa tradition in Shikarpur is almost 40 years old, which is the age of the oldest madrassa here. According to the locals, Pashto speaking Niazis from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjabis from south Punjab were brought in over a decade ago. Totally alien to the local culture and traditions, they tried to impose strict Islamic code, which initially did not work. But after more than a decade, an entire generation has been out of these madrassas in the social life of Shikarpur. When I spoke to over a dozen people from the local Muslim community, I found them extremely opposed to and fearful of the Islamisation being brought to Sindh, which they saw as a part of the larger design of ruining the Sindhi culture.

The fact that the common people still value local pluralistic culture is evident from the fact that over the last few days, people — mainly Muslims — are coming out in the streets every day in almost 500-600 villages and towns of rural Sindh against this incident. It was heartening to know that not only thousands (6,000 according to a conservative estimate by a member of the local Press Club) of Muslims participated in the funeral of their four fellow citizens; hundreds of them have taken upon themselves to ensure the security of the frightened Hindu community. They stay day and night at the entrance of the Hindu neighbourhood. These common people, one Hindu resident of the area said, are not only from the influential Mahar and Jatoi communities but also some Bhayos are seen among them.

When asked how the SSP and JUI-F guys got such an influence in an otherwise sufi and secular culture of this city, the people proudly said that the fact that these extremists need political backing, support of the tribal influentials and police machinery, is enough evidence of their weakness. Had they had a popular support, they would not have needed any of these tactics. A local rights’ activist (Muslim), who is a key organiser of a protest rally today (Monday) at 12 noon in Hyderabad, wanted me to tell the world that Pakistanis would fight extremism till the last drop of their blood.

This is Pakistan! Those in the charge of things must realise that the people of Pakistan are committed to their pluralistic values ingrained in their sufi culture. Any effort to dismantle plural and secular social base would be met with fierce resistance. The ones who believe that we, the ‘liberal fascists’, are few in number and are irrelevant, should see how this battle is being fought by a common citizen in Sindh, original home to a wonderful Hindu community who made Shikarpur mercantile hub of Sindh before the Talpurs came in. Shikarpur was to the old Sindh what Karachi is today to Pakistan. Having trade links with Central Asia, from Qandahar to Uzbekistan to Moscow, Shikarpur was the gateway of Sindh to the world. And in Shikarpur, it was our Hindu trader community that started the system of payments through cheques. Home to poets like Sheikh Ayaz, this city has produced seers and litterateurs alongside professionals of the highest quality. Today Shikarpur is determined to fight extremism more than ever.

It is encouraging to know that Sherry Rehman moved an Adjournment Motion in the National Assembly on this issue that called for immediate action on the case and reactivation of the Commission on Minorities. However, there is something simpler that can be immediately done. Babul Khan Bhayo, the main accused and PPP district president, should be immediately suspended from the party and arrested. An independent inquiry should be commissioned along with completely removing the presence of proscribed organisations working in the area under whatever name. This is the bare minimum that even the most ardent supporters of the PPP would expect from the party and especially from Sherry Rehman to pursue it.

The writer is an Islamabad-based commentator on counterterrorism, social and political issues. She can be reached at and tweets at

Kalam's shoes and jacket were searched even after he had settled in the air craft-MEA protests to US over Kalam frisking-official statement

Security screening of former President Kalam at New York airport

In response to a question on a report in a national daily the Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said,

“ Former President Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, who is a regular visitor to USA, was to return home on September 29 by an Air India flight from New York. US authorities have explained to us that under existing US regulation, former President Abdul Kalam does not fall into the category of persons exempt from security screening. However, US authorities extended usual courtesies to him at the airport, including escort and private screening.

After former President Kalam had entered the aircraft, US Transport Security Agency (TSA) agents requested Air India staff for President Kalam's jacket and shoes, reportedly as these had not been checked according to the prescribed procedure during the private screening. Air India staff then sought former the consent of former President Kalam, who had by then removed his jacket and shoes and settled in his seat, to hand over the jacket and the shoes to TSA authorities. These personal belongings of former President Kalam were returned shortly thereafter.

MEA had immediately lodged a protest over this incident with the US side. The US Government has promptly written to former President Kalam express its deep regret over the incident and has assured us that it is taking corrective steps to prevent recurrence of such incidents in the future. The two governments are also planning to hold discussions to explore appropriate mechanisms for facilitating airport procedures for dignitaries, in accordance with national regulations."

New Delhi

13 November 2011