My World Through My Words

June 9, 2010

20,000+ dead, 26 year trial, 2 year sentence : The Number Game

Filed under: Current Affairs,Politics,Uncategorized — ashwinvk84 @ 3:35 am

One of the most forlorn stories in Indian history finally came to a very disappointing end. The Bhopal gas tragedy is a nightmare which will continue to haunt us forever. The sheer scale of incompetence and gross negligence on the part of Union Carbide India is hard to fathom. The gas leak which went on for close to 6 hours took out more than 2000 people on the first few days itself and by the end of the week nearly 8000 lives were lost. The accurate figure was never established. Even after 26 long years the open wound that is this tragedy refuses to heal. The long-term effect of this disaster is still being felt across the nation, ranging from respiratory problems and cardiac failure to birth defects in children. The scenes one can still see are right out of an Armageddon movie, dead blotted animals, dead trees without leaves and entire villages of people massacred. The negligence on the governments part is also clearly visible, taking them nearly two days to start providing proper aid and relief; and also the compensation for those killed were so badly handled that eventually when all the compensation claims are dealt with (sadly they are still being given out) an amount in the region of 10 billion rupees will remain.

Now can someone please tell me what the crime here is, killing 20,000+ people, 26 years for the investigation and subsequent trial or the measly 2 years imprisonment given to those convicted. Well killing one person itself is seen as the most atrocious crime, so killing 20,000 doesn’t even begin to compare; and also the long-term effects on the children, health of survivors, the land and the economics of the region is too big to calculate. All this because of Union Carbides clear flaunting of safety rules and regulations for making a quick buck. This tragedy cannot be described as an accident; it was a ticking time bomb and there were several warning especially from the employees unions who complained that they were severely understaffed and no proper safety training was given to majority of the workers. Also most of the equipment needed to prevent such a tragedy was not in working condition or just not turned on to reduce expenditure. Also the plant was handling more volume than it was designed to handle. Mostly, for the mere fact that the company initially refused to admit about the leak and also subsequently failed to inform the authorities about the type and amounts of gas released into the surrounding areas. The sheer quantity of people it affected was such that, all the hospitals ran out of medicines and beds to accommodate the victims within hours of the tragedy.

But, I feel though the above issue was indeed a grave injustice, the mockery that was the investigation by the CBI and government committees cannot go unnoticed. For sheer shock value the entire judicial process took 26 long years. For Indians this may not be such a shock because it is a known fact that the Indian judicial process is as slow as an old and dying snail. But the absolute magnitude of the whole situation one might think that there would have been some kind of urgency from the government; and today they reconstituted the committee to look into the whole disaster. Does it take so long to right a wrong? I mean there were committees back then too but incompetence of the then ministers of the same government cannot be forgiven. Even the then committee head Arjun Singh who was also the Chief Minister of the Madhya Pradesh during the incident has some tough questions to answer; from how the prime accused Warren Anderson the CEO of Union Carbide during the time was allowed to post bail and then use Mr. Singh’s personal plane to fly out of Madhya Pradesh and subsequently out of the country. Mr. Anderson is still absconding and today the government also announced that they are looking into ways to extradite the 90 something senile old man for the crimes committed nearly 2 decades before. If this kind of enthusiasm was shown closer to the incident the victims and survivors could have felt some kind of fairness.

End of the day, the biggest joke which in no way is humorous was that all the accused was sentenced to 2 measly year’s .The sense of injustice is clearly off the scale. I mean, first the trial takes 26 long years and then the sentence is so insignificant that the 26 year wait for the accused seemed more appropriate than the actual sentence. June 7th 2010 had been a serious black flag day for the Indian judiciary as well as the public; a day when the system clearly failed. I think the Indian judicial system needed an overhaul a couple of decades back; we still have laws pertaining to the pre-independence era. Like all good systems the judiciary must look to continuously evolve and adapt to changing times. It must cut down on the red tape involved in the entire process, streamline it and then fast track cases according to priorities. The regional courts must be given more flexibility and also more judges. As this case is not a one of incident, the Liberhan Commission took 17 years to submit its report, which was clearly inconclusive with no people held accountable. The Judiciary needs to take a hard long look at itself. Even though the judiciary at its core is still very strong in our country the judicial process has become outdated, slow (understatement of the year), and at times corrupt. If our country needs to move forward the Judiciary must regain the high pedestal we put it on, where it is even higher than the government itself, and also the regain the position of the most respected institution in the country.

June 7, 2010

Politicized Fiction : Fictionalized Politics

Filed under: Politics,Uncategorized — ashwinvk84 @ 3:33 am

The word ‘fiction’ is not present in the Indian vocabulary. We should and must believe any and every written word. If it is written that a man can carry a mountain and fly across the country it must be true, it is also true old kings had a hundred children from a single mother, building a bridge that floats is so easy even monkeys can do it. And according to the Indian National Congress party a fictionalized book on their supreme leader can not be published in India because it may be true. Oh COME ON people, is it not the 21st century, or do we still live in an age were we have to bonk our mate in the head and take her to the cave to make her ours. El Sari Rojo or The Red Sari by Spanish writer Javier Moro has the Congress party in such bad mood; they have completely forgotten about the issues affecting the Indian people like price rise, the maoist problems, corruption etc…etc. But an author thousands of miles away can bring them out in force even in a non election year to burn copies of the book downloaded from the internet and in turn encourage piracy (as long as you burn the books you read after illegally downloading from the net its okay). It is a novel based on actual events, so I don’t know what their problem is other than thinking everything written becomes true. Obviously, as in any fiction there is going to be exaggerations and some inaccuracies and at the end of the day one must see it as what it is, a story nothing more nothing less. But as the author never had access to Sonia Gandhi, her children, her relatives or close associates he had to base his story on public records, old friends, classmates, college mates, neighbors and whatever reliable source he could find. So the inner most thoughts and emotions of Sonia Gandhi had to contrived from all the materials available to him. But is that not the reason why the book is categorized as fiction and not as an unofficial autobiography. According to the author he has tried to verify every detail in the book through meticulous research.

Javier Moro is a lucky man, if he had simply published the book without any of the controversies; I feel the book wouldn’t have reached even quarter of the Indian book reading public. Now it’s going to top every best seller chart in India and also do extremely well in international charts too. There is no publicity like free publicity even if it is negative publicity. The Congress would have been better of keeping quiet and not creating any of the ruckus. Now the media got wind of it and the whole of India will be wanting for a copy. Even if the book is not allowed to be published in India, the author should just get it published in some other country and put it up on amazon.com or some other literature site or just simply export it to India. There will be a whole host of us ready to buy a copy to find out what all the fuss is about. It is basic human psychology were the more someone tells us don’t do something the more it pushes us to do the same. In hindsight the Congress party will feel like kicking themselves in the rear end.

But the saddest thing of all this fuss is that the biggest headache for the present government comes from an author on the other side of the world and not its opposition parties. The state of the opposition in India is so bad that you get the feeling that the Congress has a clear run in this five-year rule without any major speed bumps in its way. The opposition is in such disarray they couldn’t unite against any of the major issues like price rise, maoist killings, phone tapping incidents etc; but they are struggling with infighting, ego clashes, and a disappearance of unity among other problems. The BJP looks like a rudderless ship without a clear leader, Yes Nitin Gadkari has been elected as the leader but one gets the feeling he wasn’t the popular choice and other senior party leaders had been overlooked. They are having major problems with their allies in the state levels the most recent being the absurdity that is the JMM, which made a mockery of the BJP not once but twice in the space of a few days, first with supporting the UPA in the cut motion and after apologizing and getting back together but then refusing to give up the Chief Ministers post after it was promised to the BJP as a compromise to the earlier betrayal. Then the Left parties who are facing the possibility of losing their only two bastions in India at the same time; the states of Kerala and West Bengal. Kerala because its voters follow a rotational governance policy with the one party ruling for five years followed by the opposition, and now it’s the time of the Congress which is coming plus there has been severe infighting between the senior leaders of the parties. In West Bengal, the left stronghold seems to be crumbling under the onslaught known as Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress, and the Left looks like a deer caught in front of a headlight with Mamata Banerjee calling for early by-elections after sweeping every minor election held in the state in the recent past. And the question it seems is not if the Trinamool will win but when it will. Another worrying trend for both the parties is that its allies and potential allies seem not averse to forming a government with the Congress if given half the chance. The Congress meanwhile looks healthy with popular leaders a clear path for the future and less of infighting, an unusual show of unity, and a host of allies to choose from who themselves are doing well.Without any opposition at least for the time being the Congress looks comfortable in their high perch. In a bizarre way right now the situation of Indian politics is in a state of fiction more than reality.

June 2, 2010

UPA 2.2 : The Review

Filed under: Politics,Uncategorized — ashwinvk84 @ 3:07 am

Watched Manmohan Singh deliver the UPA governments 2nd report card, got to say they have held their own…nothing spectacular but they also haven’t blown it completely ….Lets look at a few key ministries and the PM…

Home ministry runs by the impervious P.Chidambaram, according to me he done a decent enough job, come on we haven’t had a serious terror threat since Mumbai (Touch wood)….….so he must be doing something right. It should be also said that the Maoist are really pushing their luck…. If the army gets involved a lot of them are going to get killed….

Finance led by the chief problem solver of the UPA Pranab Mukherjee has done a terrific job keeping the economy under control and inflation in check…Only sore note is the price rise which I don’t think can be fully blamed on the FM…. lot of external factors involved

S. M. Krishna has done fair job in External Affairs….he has been under the radar most of the time while keeping India’s foreign policies in the limelight, has helped improve diplomatic ties with China and Pakistan. He also took a stern stand against the racist attacks in Australia.

Defense ministry has been very different from previous avatars, the quiet and efficient taskmaster A. K. Anthony has brought a sense of urgency to long protracted modernization program of the armed forces. The nuclear submarine, indigenous aircraft carrier, attack helicopter, stealth frigates etc… But the recent findings of the kargil war can lead to serious headaches.

Kapil Sibal seem to be a man possessed, he is on a one man mission to fix all the problems of the Indian education system, kudos to you and also best of luck. Though, it’s at the least decade too late.

Mamata Banerjee & Sharad Pawar are the ministers who have to pull up their socks. Mamata seems to be more concerned with running the Left parties out of West Bengal.
And Pawar has his hands full with the BCCI and all the rotten food grains in Punjab, while the prices sky rocket, and looks like he won’t have the monsoons to blame this time as it seems to be on time this year.

Finally, the PM who has surprised the most I always felt that he was just keeping the seat warm for certain Rahul Gandhi. But he turned out to be a genuine leader. He even had serious disagreements with Sonia Gandhi over RTI act, who would have thought of such a thing when he was put in the hot seat. And he even started answering back in the parliament. But alas all good things must come to an end. I get the feeling Rahul Gandhi is ready to takeover and if he can deliver UP in the next elections there will be no doubt about that fact.

The government has a tough year ahead of them…..the maoist are increasingly attacking innocent civilians; it may force the governments hand and bring the armed forces into the fight. Which according to me is the wrong move because the armed forces is not a good mix with civilians, just look at J&K and the north east.
The price rise has been a huge issue that has to be bought under control. And also keep internal politics in check, especially in Andhra Pradesh where it looks both the congress high command and Jagan Mohan Reddy looks like a ticking time bomb. And also foreign policies are going to be under severe scrutiny with talks with Pakistan coming up. The women’s reservation bills, the Telgana question, the census with caste are few of the stumbling blocks I can foresee in the coming year.

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