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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s closed-neck suit that he wore while receiving Barack Obama was auctioned for Indian Rupees 4,31,00,000 (4.31 crore or 43.1 million; about US$ 700,000). The Blue suit has thin parallel stripes woven with golden thread in endless strings of the words, “Narendra Damodardas Modi’.
Narcism? Of course not. The suit was presented to him as part of a wedding invitation by a diamond mogul, and it cost Indian Rupees 11,00,000 (11 ‘lac’s or 1.1 million). Do Prime Ministers accept such expensive gifts? Well,, after showing off to Obama who can’t afford such luxuries, he auctioned the suit among other gifts he received during his inauguration and promised that the proceeds will go to the endless task of cleaning River Ganges.
A group of people from Mr. Modi’s party in his home state Gujarat have built a temple for Mr. Modi (spectacles and all), and, last heard, conduct regular worship. To be fair, Mr. Modi has expressed shock and said such things are not in keeping with Indian culture. Here he is wrong, abject servility to superiors and anthropolatry are hallmarks of Indian culture –regardless religious affiliations. To prove the point, Mr. Azam Khan, a somewhat infamous member of the Socialist Party of controversial politician Mulayam Singh Yadav wants a temple to built for his leader. In India, it is not unusual for Muslims to demand temples for a human god.
In the meanwhile, “150 to 300 people come to the temple (of Mr. Modi) daily. In the morning, the flow of worshippers is thin, but in the evening, they swell,” Maganbhai Patodia of the Om Yuva (Divine Youth) Group said.
Last heard, the ‘idol’ was forcibly removed by government officials, Isn’t this aggression against the aspirations of Indian youth? You be the judge.
In May last year, Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) won the elections to the Parliament (lower house – Lok Sabha) with a thumping majority. The victory was attributed to what is known as Modi wave. This month, however, the wave had flattened to an abject minority (3 out of 70 seats) in the Delhi state that houses India’s central government. Aam Admi Party (Common Man’s Party), led by Arvind Kejriwal – an ex-Revenue service officer who resigned to join the anti-corruption bandwagon of Mr. Anna Hazare but later formed a political party of his own to his leader’s chagrin – won all the remaining 67 seats. His promise to his electorate is complete elimination of corruption in the state (a tall order), reduced electricity bills and free water supply.
Success has many friends, failure cries alone. Mr. Anna Hazare, the anti-corruption crusader who discarded Kejriwal for the crime of joining politics, has now invited him back to his fold – at least to share stage with him in his demonstration against the proposed new Land Acquisition ordinance issued by the Modi government. The hasty ordinance is designed to please the MNCs who never cease to chant the refrain that “India is difficult to do business with”. What the government Of Mr. Modi should actually go for is plugging bureaucratic resistance to awarding permits till a kickback is in sight.
Last financial year, the GDP had grown by 4.7%. This year it is predicted to grow by 7.4%, going by the fantastic growth during the last quarterly figure – a whopping 8.2%, beating China by a head and a shoulder. How did the Modi Government and his Finance minister Arun Jaitley accomplish that feat in a matter of a few months?
Simple, silly, They changed the equations used to arrive at the GDP figure, probably working backward from the desirable 7.4%.. However, the rest of the world is not impressed. BBCnotes :
“The country’s new way of calculating GDP has baffled analysts since its release last month. India said the new formula is closer to international standards. But analysts say the new data does not correlate with other economic indicators, including industrial and factory production”
Who cares? We love our placebos and palliatives.
As per tradition, Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley is to present the Union budget for the coming financial year on 28th February. The Prime Minister requested the meager opposition to cooperate in passing the budget since the people of the Country are looking forward to it with great hope. After blaming the former Prime Minister, a renowned economist who liberalized India’s economy that led to fantastic growth in the first five years of his government (strictly speaking, till recession struck the world and oil prices went sky-high) for all the economic ills (in the name of inflation) that befell the Country, Mr, Jaitley, a professional lawyer has a lot many promises to keep with this manna of a budget. He has one tremendous advantage – oil prices are down on its knees, to less than fifty percent.
India beat Pakistan in World cup cricket by 76 runs. As if the humiliation was not adequate, West Indies (currently among the under dogs) beat them by 150 runs. On Sunday the 22nd Feb, underdogs India beat the much favoured South Africa by an even more humiliating score of 130 runs. The team folded up long before the end of the innings. Now it is India that is the true contender for the World Cup 2015.
The victory would make Australians scurry to their planning board.
Rudy Giuliani, former Republican Mayor of New York of 9/11 fame, publicly stated in a meeting of bigwigs including state governors that Barack Obama does not love America. “I do not believe, I know it is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the President loves America. He doesn’t love you, and he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this Country.”
Not all Americans are brought up the same way as Giuliani himself was brought up – in an Italian-American neighbourhood, to Italian-American parents. Giuliani ducked military service during the Vietnam War. He earned much glory for the sacrifices of firmen and selfless volunteers after the twin towers crumbled, but managed to promote a security consulting firm as soon as his term as mayor was to expire. The conflict-of-Interest looked the other way, because Giuliani had earned much fame, and later loads of money , from the tragedy. If Obama does not love Giuliani, as the latter grumbled, it must be because he loves America.
The President has not been chanting in public that he loves America. Instead, he (Obama) has been saying that American standard of education must improve, more jobs should be created, outsourcing of jobs must end, there should be improvement in US-Iran and US-Cuba relations, insurance should be available for all, US soldiers should not be sent to fight in Iraq and Syria, there should be gun control Nearly 50% of international arms trade (including the sophisticated arms that the murderous Islamic State groups, Al Qaeda and Taliban employ to kill civilians) takes place from the soil of America. If he loved America, he should go to war in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Egypt like so many America-loving presidents in the past – never mind that they never won a war, only caused destruction. Arms were sold, that’s what mattered. The photo shows the five presidents who got embroiled in the Vietnam war, till the last man, Gerald Ford, made a hasty retreat. US Casualties were 60,000 killed in action, over 150,000 wounded, and some 1,600 missing – not counting war junkies who roamed the streets of America for the next few decades. 3 to 7 million out of a 19 million population perished in the name of America combating Communism (which, in the end, communists won). The president who followed. Jimmy Carter, pronounced : “The destruction was mutual. No regrets.” These were the presidents who loved America.
Giuliani clarified that he was” not racist, because Obama had a white mother”. Meaning, logically, if Obama had a black mother, Giuliani would find it reason enough to be racist.
For what Giuliani thinks, and what he is, I recommend your reading “Lupica: Rudy Giuliani thinks he’s more qualified than Obama at protecting the U.S., but he’s not” in New York Daily News, Feb 22.
President Obama’s initiative to grant work permit to 5 million immigrant workers has been blocked by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas.
This initiative by Obama would not only have given the immigrant a semblance of temporary (five years) legitimacy, a name on the rolls, a face -which would mean right to minimum wages, medical benefits , hospital facilities and other basic human rights. In the United States that lectures the entire world on human rights they prefer to keep these humans working below minimum wages, without their names on their roaster. You have heard that 3000 citizens perished in the 9/11 crash of twin towers. How many illegal immigrants, apart from these recognized 3000 perished. you would never know. Their parents and wives back home would still be hoping that they would come home with loads of dollars some day. Those waiters, drivers, janitors never will – they are among the unaccounted dead – may be fifty, or more possibly five hundred. Republicans and some Democrats want to keep it that way. The President wants to put a spanner in the smoothly running machine. One more reason why Giuliani thinks Obama does not love America.
The Republicans have not asked that the illegal ones be sent home. Only that those basic human rights should not be extended to them by giving them work permits for even a limited period.
John Kerry, US Secretary of State (since 2009, when he replaced Hillary Clinton) has termed Putin ‘Cynical’ and promised more ‘sanctions’ against Russia. You will remember that John Kerry opposed George Bush in the 2005 presidential election and lost it by 35 electoral votes. Kerry had then warned that there was not enough proof that Saddam had weapons of Mass Destruction and that Bush would embroil Iraq in endless crisis by going to war. He was proved right.
Strangely, the more they turn the screw of ‘sanctions’ against the Russians, the more Russians support Putin. My blog tited “Screenplay for a Hollywood Movie” might interest some of you.
US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter assured Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that President Obama is willing to reconsider military pull-out from Afghanistan by 2016, Mr. Ghani and some other political leaders had asked for reconsidering the pull-out schedule in the interest of peace in the country since a resilient Taliban is still actively pursuing its murderous insurgency.
The weather reporter of BBC says that there has been not a single crime reported in New York City for the past twelve days (till Feb 22). Not even a single murder and that no policeman has shot a black man (nor vice versa) is a record. Reason? It is too cold up there in America
On Friday, 2oth Feb, a co-ordinated car bomb attack by an Islamic extremist group supporting ISIL targeted at an Easter n city’s police headquarters, the home of the speaker of Libya’s internationally recognized parliament and a petrol station, The speaker was not present at home. 45 people perished, not counting those who were in injured.
It is not clear whether the bombers said Aslaam Aleikum (peace be upon you) before bombing innocent civilians. The bombing is claimed to be in revenge of Egypt (not Libya) joining the fight against ISIS after 45 Christians were burnt alive by the Islamic State
On Feb 20, the US-Iran talks over convincing elimination of nuclear bomb-making facilities have begun on Feb 20. . Success in talks will lead to near-normalisation of relations between the US and Iran, and relaxing of sanctions against Iran. Saudi Arabia’s extremist Sunni government does not like a prosperous Shiite Iran. Nor does Israel like a large and powerful enemy in its neighbourhood. Saudi Arabia and Israel are supposed to be the best bet that the US has in the Middle East. Sauds have given them air bases; the Jewish lobby in the US are too powerful to ignore. To Giuliani and his Republican friends, this olive branch being shown to the country (Iran) that George Bush named the third element in the Axis of Evil, is another proof that Obama does not love America.
If this be a setback, IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) chief had earlier reported that “Tehran was continuing to withhold full cooperation in two areas of a long-running IAEA investigation that it had committed to giving by August last year.“
A biased report to please Americans? Iran badly needs the sanctions to be lifted; its president Hassan Rouhani was the first show the white flag despite scathing criticism back home, and that the President has sent his brother to the negotiating table this time.
Going by GDP figures, Greek economy is the 43rd largest in the world. (India is the 3rd, taking into consideration purchasing power parity). Since 2007, Greece had fallen into a debt crisis, worsened by the recession in 2009. By 2012, debt-to GDP ratio rose to nearly 180%. A bailout package by the ”Troika” comprising European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank were tied to several stringent conditions, including selling 50% of government assets and drastic austerity measures (which enlarged unemployment of those below 25 – the most vocal group – to more than 50%). That after much
internal crisis and changes in government, the one led by Alexis Tsipas of the leftist Syriza party promised to relax or remove the austerity measures had made matters worse.
Recent negotiations dragged on for several days of little hope until the Greek Government buckled. A new agreement has been reached this Friday, (20th Feb).
For details, I quote an Al Jazeera report:
“Greece and its Eurozone creditors reached an agreement Friday to extend emergency funding for a further four months, staving off the immediate risk of Athens being forced to exit the Euro.
The deal follows days of an often bitter standoff between the new leftist Greek administration — seeking to ditch some of the austerity measures imposed on the country as part of a bailout package — and sceptical Eurozone nations, led by Germany, who had accused Athens of trying to shirk its responsibilities.
It also removes the immediate threat of Greece running out of money next month and possibly being forced out of the single currency area. It also provides a breathing space for Athens to try to negotiate better terms relating to longer-term debt relief.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Eurozone’s top official, said the development “was a first step” in the rebuilding of trust between Greece and its Eurozone creditors.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis welcomed the deal, calling it “a small step in the right direction.”
“We have avoided a choking deadline,” he told reporters after the meeting in Brussels. “The weekend will be one of joy and creativity. We are writing our own reforms,” he said.
In the run up to Friday’s talks, Greece had already conceded considerable ground. Crucially, it accepted that any extension would be monitored by the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, a climb-down by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who had vowed to end cooperation with the “troika” inspectors accused of inflicting economic and social damage on Greece.
Athens also said that it would recognize the existing EU/International Monetary Fund program as the legally binding framework and refrain from unilateral action that would undermine fiscal targets.
But even so, Germany demanded more, saying early Friday that “significant improvements” in reform commitments by Athens was needed if an extension were to be granted.
Greek negotiators later pledged not to initiate any “unilateral” measures that would affect the country’s budget targets. It also agreed to present a list of reforms based on the current bailout program by Monday.
Officials said an outline deal was reached in preparatory talks involving the Greek and German finance ministers, as well as the managing director of the IMF. It was then agreed by the full 19-member Eurogroup, ending weeks of uncertainty.”
In the meanwhile, Angela Merkel, who insisted on stringent austerity measures has become pretty unpopular in Greece. Protesters chanted “We are not Merkel’s colony”. No, you are not, but you need German money. I haven’t read about much protest against the agreement. Not yet.
BBC describes the background of the Ukrainian crisis thus::
“The Ukraine crisis began in November 2013 when pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych’s government abandoned the EU agreement in favour of stronger ties with Russia – prompting mass protests that eventually led to his downfall.
Subsequent unrest in Ukraine’s peninsula of Crimea led to its annexation by Russia – which is accused by the West of stoking further conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces in the east of the country.”
21st February marked the first anniversary of the coup that ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. This eventually led to a plebiscite in Crimea, which the United States and the NATO termed illegal. That Crimea that always has had Russian ethnic majority and was earlier conceded to Ukraine by a dismantling USSR, is now separated and has virtually become a part of Russia is a fait accompli.
This led to some of the citizens in Donetsk and Luhansk in Eastern parts of Ukraine wanting to separate as well. The ethnic Russians are said to be only 38% or so in these parts. Hence it is conceived that the fight for separation is being engineered by Russians led by President Putin.
The ‘rebels’ are well armed, have superior weapons as compared to the regular Ukrainian army. Putin denies involvement in the war, claiming that any Russian fighters found among the rebel army are purely volunteers.
The casualty has exceeded 5,000 men and women thus far. Donetsk airport and many parts of the city are in ruins. A Malaysian airliner, MH 17 with 283 passengers and 15 crew was diverted by the air traffic control in Kiev to fly over the crisis-ridden Eastern territory to avoid bad weather in the regular air route. The aircraft was shot down near Donetsk. Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of the crime of shooting down a civilian aircraft filled with passengers
United States announced several sanctions against Russia to ‘punish’ Putin. Putin, in turn, diverted gas flow through Ukraine, offering to supply it to western Europe by an alternative pipe line. The sanctions, combined with the sudden fall in oil prices have affected Russian economy badly. Value of Rouble has fallen to less than 50% in the international market. Moody’s, the international credit rating organization rates Russian credit at junk value. However, Putin has been unrelenting, and generally enjoys the support of ordinary Russians.”
Since last Sunday (15th February), a shaky truce between the rebels and Ukraine army has come to force thanks to repeated efforts by Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany and Francois Hollande, President of France to meet Putin repeatedly in person as well as by phone.”
That said and agreed, the question remains : who shot down Malaysia’s MH 17 on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala lumpur? The plane with 183 passengers and 15 crew was flying its normal route along the South edges of Ukraine when the air traffic control asked its pilot to take a detour Northwards over the crisis –ridden Eastern Ukraine area. The plane was shot down precisely over that area. All – a good majority of them Dutch holiday seekers – perished. The black boxes have been found, but nobody tells you what story the recordings within them reveal.
This week three British Muslim girls slipped out of their homes under various pretexts and went for fighting for Islamic State in Syria. They have not been traced yet. You may never find them. They will be sent to heaven by the Islamic State cowards by wrapping suicide bombs around their waists and sending them to destroy schools, hospitals, or any facility sacred to normal human beings.
You wonder how these people risk their lives to shoot, rape and cut throats? The answer lies in a Fatwa:
“Shaykh al-Islam ibn Taymiyaah رحمه الله said;
“And whoever his sins are plenty, then his greatest remedy is Jihad”
[Majmou’ Al-Fatawa 28/421]”
The picture alongside is of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the self-styled “Emir” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.
Journalist Imran Khan writes in Al Jazeera columns how Islamic State is franchising cowardly killing across the world:
“The Libyans want an arms embargo lifted so they can secure the weaponry needed to fight the group, which has brutally murdered Egypt’s Coptic Christians working in Libya and travels with impunity in Libyan territory in large convoys.
|Without understanding how they operate it’s unlikely they’ll be defeated.|
“In Nigeria, Boko Haram have managed to delay elections and have increasingly publicly come closer to ISIL, developing a media campaign that’s closer to ISIL’s in execution, and referring to themselves as the Islamic State in West Africa.
In Egypt, the group Ansar al-Beit al-Maqdis has also changed its name, going now by the moniker ‘Sinai Province’ and has pledged allegiance to ISIL.
In Pakistan some factions of the Pakistani Taliban have declared they are backing ISIL and share its goals.
On the surface, ISIL is developing into a global outfit with a reach far beyond its self-declared and internationally unrecognised borders in Iraq and Syria.”
(Italics and bold lettering mine).
Watch out. An armed coward or a female idiot with belt fitted out with bombs could soon be lurking outside your door or creeping into a community meeting or school to kill and maim innocents close to your heart.
My friend Aziz said : “They have no airplanes, no drones, no nuclear bombs. Yet see how the largest of nations fear them”.
“True” , I answered : “Mosquitoes are far too small, dead to a single swat, yet see how the whole world is afraid of them”.