Immigration Rally

Today, I witnessed the biggest rally ever held in chicago where over 400,000 people marched against the new proposed immigration bill which proposed deportation of the millions of undocumented aliens. I have been trying not to take a stand on this thorny issue for a while now, but luckily I dont really have to please my political constituency.

One of the basic demands of the rally was to provide amnesty for all. If this is accepted, it will put all laws passed in this land to be invalid. An amnesty would also set a wrong example for all the people who are trying to take the longer route and legally gain citizenship.

The immigration bill to deport the over 11 million undocumented workers is also plain silly. America does not have the resource to manage to complete the task, to man the borders to stop further illegal nor is the economy strong enough to sustain the loss of low paid workers. Deporting people and breaking up families is against any humanitarian values and concerns as well.

America is a capitalist country and every capitalist country needs to take advantage of a lower class to survive and thrive.

John Kenneth Galbraith, who recently passed away, summed up socities as, ‘Under capitalism man exploits man, under communism its the other way around’

India Freedom of Speech – Is it really free?

Yeh sab hum sab ke andar hai, hindu mussalman sikh. Hum sab haramzaade hai, hum sab janwaar hai (This is all within us, hindu muslim sikh. We are all bastards, We are all animals)

I’ve been meaning to see a few of Deepa Mehta’s movies and I managed to see two this week, ‘Water’ and ‘1947 Earth’. These two along with ‘Fire’ complete her highly controversial trilogy.

Fire was the first movie released based on love between lesbians. When the movie released, the Shiv Sena party (the fascist moral policemen of Bombay) burnt a couple of theatres in Bombay which were screening the movie on the pretext of it showing Indian society and Hinduism in a bad light. After the initial acts of vandalism the film was never screened again in India. Their judgement was final, obviating any need for a government or a censor board.

1947 Earth the second movie in the series is a very touching story based in Lahore (current day Pakistan) during Independence and Partition. This movie really brings out all human emotions exposing the basic frailty of human nature. There is one scene which was a very sobering experience for me. Amir Khan, one of the leads playing a muslim, is observing the riots from the top of his building. When a mob of Muslims starts killing Hindus in lahore, without realizing it, his mind is suddenly filled with a kinship towards Muslims and hate towards Hindus. On expressing these thoughts in front of his hindu friend he suddenly realizes the effect of mob mentality.

Water (released 2006) is based on India sixty years ago and depicts the life of a socially ostracized widow. This movie, inspite of having all clearances from state and central government, was still vandalized during filming by people of the ruling BJP party, RSS and VHP. They caused extensive damages to the set and crew based on the charge that the movie was showing hinduism in a wrong light (as they felt with the previous two movies).

Deepa Mehta in her short journey of just 3 films may have realized that India is a democracy just on paper. The rule of political power and goondaism is all pervasive.

India has freedom of speech, but there is always going to be a price to be paid.

Selective Democracy

A few days back in the year 1959, a monk called Tenzin Gyatso, crossed the himalayas after a 15 day trek taking refuge in India. His flight against Chinese oppression would have gone unnoticed, if he wasn’t the Dalai Lama who had to flee after the Chinese Red Army invaded Tibet.

2003, America invades Iraq with the promise of bringing democracy in Iraq and the middle east. With more than 30,000 civilian deaths iraq is no closer to democracy with the real chance of internal civil war.

1994, Jean Bertrand Aristide the president was overthrown in a coup allegedly supported by the CIA (like Pinochet and various other dictators). The election which Aristide won with a two-third majority was called the most honest election ever conducted in Haiti.

2006, Hamas wins elections in Palestine. Several United Nations observers testified it to be a fair election, however most of the western world has refused to recognize hamas as the ruling party.

There is no question that it is now a uni-polar world with America calling most of the shots, but it is surprising on how losely democracy is used and promoted based on need or usefulness.

I had visited McLeodGanj where the Dalai Lama and the tibetan monks are currently living in exile (missed meeting him by a day unfortunately), and though my definition of democracy doesnt seem to match with the policy makers in DC, but after 45 years, has Tibet earned the right to practice democracy?

Please Mr. President

President Bush, please stay off Alaska. You’re State of the Union address about ending foreign oil dependency and pursuing alternative energy sources is very inspiring, but I hope that quest does not lead you to Alaska. Any growing economy needs to fulfill its energy needs, but I’m sure we can stay off one of the world’s last natural eco system. I hope we haven’t forgotten the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Fiasco. More than 11 million gallons of crude oil were spilled off the coast of Alaska causing irreparable loss to the environment and animals there.

Amongst the alternative fuel sources I hope you look into nuclear fuel. There hasn’t been major nuclear power plants set up after the Three Mile Island disaster of 1979 (followed shortly by Chernobyl), but I’m sure safe nuclear power can be harnessed. All new nuclear plants can be set up far from humanity – this is a big country. I’m sure there are places in New Mexico, Arizona or Texas which would be ideal (people please don’t send me hate mail – I know Texas is God’s own “country”).

The dependence on gas for cars can be offset by further promoting fuel cell research as well as improved hybrid performances. I’m sure the automotive industry, which pumps in a lot of money for lobbying, can be brought around to accept it. If possible get the Hummer banned off the streets, after all smokers are not allowed to smoke in public in quite a few places.

I’m sure your smart advisors have lots of proposals for clean alternative energy sources which don’t involve drilling for oil in Alaska. Human beings have been a very wasteful species; please do not hasten the demise of this planet.

Please Mr. President, won’t you stay off Alaska.

East is East, West is West and never the twain shall meet.

Would this be a good time to just admit that there will never be harmony in the world. That wouldn’t signify the end of the world, would it? After all every part of the world has their own sense of right and wrong. Who decides on what’s right for the entire world.

The values held in the west are definately what’s followed in the east.

Take for example the news which has split the islamic and non islamic world the past few days. It started with the Danish newspaper printing cartoons depicting a caricature of Prophet Muhammed. This could be taken offensively, but newspapers often take potshots on all religions so there shouldn’t have been much about it.

Well unfortunately, islam frowns upon any depiction of prophet muhammed as it is considered idolatory, not to mention him carrying a bomb on him. So denmark (though the government had nothing to do with a newspaper) bore the brunt of the protests with products being boycotted throughout the middle east amongst the normal stuff happening in that part of the world.

Since Western governments do not generally interfere with Free Speech (Russia is obviously excluded), they seem to be caught between a rock and an increasingly angry muslim population. It’s been taken so seriously, that there has been a procession taken out of Pakistan calling for a death to Denmark and death to France (since a french newspaper reprinted the cartoons).

So that makes it an interesting conundrum. Do the newspapers back down even though they exercised their legal right to free speech while publishing a cartoon, or do muslims back down, try to see it as a joke and not a personal insult to them. This conflict may never end.

As it is humans don’t need too many reasons to kill each other, do we really need to add God (if there is one) to that list.

America and its foreign policy

Haven’t posted in a while, brought to my attention by my friend (Mike thanks for keeping it real, bling bling and all that sort). So thought of posting something about america.

America has always had questionable foreign policy being responsible for supporting coups and installing dictators. It’s association with Saddam Hussein and supporting the mujahideen and Osama bin Laden to fight the Russians is well documented.

Unfortunately the trend doesn’t seem to be changing much. Let’s do a bit of reverse analysis.

Most of the terrorists threatening the western world have at some point or the other passed through the madrassas operating mainly in afghanistan, pakistan and to a lesser extend indonesia. Most of the madrassas teach the extremist Sharia form of Islam . In effect the madrassas became the training centers for jihad. This extreme form of Islam called Wahhabism is rooted in Saudi Arabia and supported to an extent by the house of Saud.

And the major form of revenue for the Saudi royal family and the house of Saud is oil, primarily American Dollars. So in effect the american taxpayer and anyone buying saudi oil is to an extent funding the next stage of extremism.

Yossarian in the Indian Parliament

For those who follow Indian politics and politicians, I’m sure the recent sting operations which filmed Indian MP’s accepting money to raise questions in the parliament, must have come as no surprise.

I was looking into what questions were actually raised in the parliament and a couple of questions stand out showing not only the ingenuity of the journalist as well as the ignorance of the people who represent the largest democracy of the world.

Excerpts from ANIRUDDHA BAHAL article on cobrapost.com:

Q) Whether the Railway Ministry has placed any order for purchase of the Yossarian Electro Diesel engine from Germany? Is the ministry aware that the Tom Wolfe committee report in Germany has halted its induction into the Euro Rail system?

Q) Whether the Government has given sanction for the seed trial of Salinger Cotton of Monsanto? If so, has a report been prepared on Catch 22 cotton so far?

AB- And now, that I have paid homage to Yossarian, I am a little upset that Major Major and Milo Mindbinder got left out. But I am happy that the Yossarian brand name has infiltrated the German market in spite of strong opposition from Tom Wolfe thanks to the foresightedness of the Indian parliamentarians. As for the Catch 22 and Salinger cotton strains I hope they are tremendously profitable for farmers”

I’m sure Joseph Heller never thought that his book catch 22 would be creating such havoc in the indian parliament … Our parliamentarians have done us proud

And the chasm widens

Australia’s image of a multicultural and multiracial society seems to be in tatters. Three nights of racial riots in Sydney with no signs of stopping have left local residents terrified with innocent bystanders being targeted as well.

The riots seem to be have started on rumors of two lebanese youths who were believed to have attacked a lifeguard. Around 5000 white people patrolled the streets looking for soft targets who looked of an arabic descent. This seems to have escallated beyond proportions a sad reflection of how mob mentality has become a bane of our society.

Australia along with the Paris riots recently seem to have shown how the deep routed disconcent amongst different communities has grown, looking for a spark to bring to the fore. The clash between cultures and believes just looks to be starting.

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from the spanish government headed by “zapatero”. Madrid which was a target for al-qa’ida bombings and later pulled out of iraq as a result seems to have pursued a policy of inclusion of all instead of targetting based on racial and religious profiling. This seems to have done wonders for the psyche of people who feel welcomed and not discriminated against(though only time may tell).

This is in stark contrast to the policy followed in France (and possible future policy in Australia), which would probably increase the chasm of divide between people of different cultures. It will be interesting (in a dispassionate view) to see how the clash between cultures turns out.

Muriel Degauque – belgian suicide bomber

In November, among the normal run of the mill suicide bomb attacks on US troops in Iraq, one stood out. The suicide bomber was female which isn’t very surprising considering the attacks in Jordan and Israel and their use by the LTTE of Sri Lanka, but she is arguably the first white female european suicide bomber.

The belgian press which covered the story, has put forward brainwashing by her husband as the major motivation for the act. What kind of brainwashing would be required for a woman to disregard a natural tendency for survival and travel half a world away and blow themselves up for an almost alien cause.

This act has characterized the steady shift from regional ties to religious ones and the growing chasm between knowledge of the cultures.

The coolest effigy burning party ever

Did you attend the latest effigy burning party? no …. oh you are soooo not hip

The latest holier than thou episode doesn’t seem to be nearing an end. It all started by South Indian actress Khushboo who said that pre-marital sex was ok but protection should be used at all times. Indian tennis star Sania Mirza who supported Khusboo’s views is now under fire because she seems to have an opinion on this issue.

Sania Mirza tch tch tch tch …. now what can we advice you, how could you dream of having an opinion on anything. Did you forget the fatwa issued against you for wearing a skirt, I mean come on how can you think about wearing a skirt, did you even consider the latest fashion trends in salwaar kameez and saris on the bombay ramps. A decent Indian girl (not to mention the additional responsible of your Islamic heritage) would never ever be caught dead in a skirt.

I mean notwithstanding the fact that we are soon on our way to becoming the most populous nation and on the verge of having a full blown AIDS epidemic which would make Africa’s problem seem like a minor flu, but to even think and have an opinion about safe sex is a strict no no.

VHP leader Acharya Dharmendra sums up the emotion filled in our outraged indian minds “she is trying to destroy the institutions like marriage and other social institutions by saying certain things which are beyond imagination. Her supporting film actress Khushboo by saying it is not important to have sex before or after marriage rather what is important is that there should be safe sex is also highly objectionable” Kudos to you sir, we could not have said it better.

A group calling itself the ‘Priyanka-Rahul Gandhi’ brigade (Could a group having such an illustrious name and possible linkages to our glorious Congress party ever do any wrong) took to protests and burnt an effigy of our latest tennis star. By far one of coolest bonfires around, a postively must attend by our Page 3 regulars. Sania Mirza and Khushboo, I hope this is a lesson well learned, please stick to our Indian traditions of not thinking and definately not sharing your opinion … oh and another thing …. GET THE FOOD READY!