The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Though Pakistan's new army chief Gen Bajwa, after taking the charge yesterday, said the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan would be normal soon, indicating a softer approach than his predecessor, developments say otherwise.

The day, when Lt. Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa took baton from the outgoing Pakistan army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif, 7 Indian soldiers including two officials were martyred in a terror attack on an army unit near Jammu.

The attack that began early morning, lasted for some 14 hours, saw fierce gunbattle and a hostage like situation with terrorists targeting army officials' mess and residential units in Nagrota, near Indian Army's 16 Corps Headquarters.

As expected, ugly politics over the issue has pitched in. Political goalposting has started. Debates and opinions are raging on 'whys and hows' of this attack that is clearly an intelligence failure but, at the outset, it is clear that it will be linked with Gen. Raheel Sharif's parting warning to India and Gen. Bajwa ascendance to the throne.

While transferring power to Gen. Bajwa, Raheel Sharif warned India of its stand on Kashmir, comparing it with 'increased terrorism and aggression'. He said, "India should know that mistaking our policy of patience for weakness would be dangerous."

We all know that is an empty rhetoric, especially after the fact that the all powerful army of Pakistan had no other option left but to deny the highly successful surgical strike by India deep inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. The Pakistan Army could not have accepted the Indian surgical strike as it would undermine the numero-uno position it enjoys in Pakistan, presenting its weaker character before everyone – whereas Raheel Sharif had curated a ‘hero sort of image’ for himself – riding high on anti-India acts and rhetoric.

Also, doing so, as the Pakistani civilian leadership had done initially, accepting India's claim till the army told them to toe the its line of shameless denial, would have put tremendous pressure on the Pakistani army to reply back to India with similar force, that it was simply not capable of.

But what presents a clear face of danger is Pakistan's proxy war in India. Almost all terror attacks in any part of India are found to have Pakistani links. If Jammu & Kashmir, that was once considered heaven on earth, has become a living hell, it is because of Pakistan's proxy war only.

It is this proxy war that Pakistan has adopted as the mainstay of its policy. Raheel Sharif actively extended that tradition.  And whatever Pakistan’s military does, its civilian government has to follow that – willingly or unwillingly.

So, even if we were yet to hear a word about India from its next army chief, Pakistan’s spin doctors, its politicians, were already on the job. So Sartaj Aziz had said that any dialogue process cannot go ahead with India unless Kashmir is on the table, a prospect that India has officially denied, saying if there has to be India-Pakistan dialogue, it will be on terror only. So Pakistan’s defence minister Khawaja Asif had said there will be no change in Pakistan’s military policy on Indian border under Gen. Bajwa.

Even if Pakistan’s new army chief Gen. Bajwa is yet to speak on his thoughts on India. Whatever little he spoke yesterday didn’t give much – but at least, from that little - we can give him the benefit of doubt – this that  cowardly act, targeting residential units of an Indian army base, was a parting shot by a frustrated Raheel Sharif, who, despite all his tall claims and boastings, would have to live forever with the fact that it was during his tenure only that India conducted a surgical strike and owned it before the world.  


Tuesday, 29 November 2016


Here it is a bit modified and extended.

Russia has rubbished Pakistan's claims that it has requested to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

According to the Russian news agency TASS, the Russian Foreign Ministry has not initiated any negotiation on joining CPEC, the $46 billion mega project that Pakistan sees as the next big thing in the nation's history that will transform it into a hub a regional and economic activity in this part of Asia.

In a flat denial that highlighted 'secret talks', the Russian Foreign Ministry said, "Reports on the ‘secret talks’ between Russia and Pakistan on implementing the projects within the framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that have appeared in the Pakistani media are not true. The TASS report added that any possibility of Russia’s involvement to this initiative has not been discussed with Islamabad.

Pakistan recently accepted Russia's request to use Gwadar port for its exports. And today's clarification by Russia says it was limited to the use of Gwadar port as a strategic trade stopover only. That means all the big talks in the Pakistani establishment and media about Russia joining CPEC were nothing but cooked up propaganda stories.

Perhaps, the Pakistani media reports follow the claims of its prime minister and president. Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, during his Turkmenistan visit last week, had claimed that may countries including Russia had shown willingness to join CPEC and he welcomed the Russian initiative. His words were echoed by the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain who said that the Russian interest showed significance of the project. Reiterating the Pakistani establishment's version, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria yesterday said that 'Russia had  shown a keen interest to boost its relations with Pakistan'.

Pakistani media had picked up these clues and had widely reported on Russia joining CPEC. A report in The Nation went on to the extent to claim that Alexander Bogdanov, Federal Security Services chief, had made a secret visit to Pakistan, the first visit by any Russian intelligence chief in 14 years, during which he had forwarded the Russian request to join CPEC. Interestingly, according to The Nation report, the Russian request was accepted and the Gwadar Port permission was given under this only. Geo News in its coverage said that after the Gwadar Port access, Russia also wanted to join the CPEC to 'reap the maximum dividends'.

All those claims, by Pakistani leaders as well as by its media, proved a bunch of lies today. Russia is India's oldest defence partner and was also the largest one, when seen on annual trade figures, until it was overtake by the US in 2014. Now with big defence deals signed between Russia and India during Russian President Vladimir Putin's India visit in October 2016, Russia is there again and it would never want to lose the big opportunity that India's $100 billion defence upgade provides.

India is opposed to CPEC because a part of it passes through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. For strategic reasons also, India doesn't welcome a Chinese presence just across the border in a disputed territory that India considers its own. Prime minister Narendra Modi has conveyed these concerns to Chinese President Xi Jinping. 


Monday, 28 November 2016


Here it is a bit modified and extended.

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry has warned India against the ‘harms’ of its hostile ‘tendencies’ against Pakistan, implying it’s a ‘dangerous’ territory.

According to a report published in The News International, Chaudhry, in a TV programme, said ‘India, with its belligerent attitude, was treading a serious path’.

Pakistan’s new army chief, Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa, is assuming office tomorrow. His predecessor, General Raheel Sharif, has had the notoriety of pushing India-Pak ties to a historically low point with war-like situation prevailing along the border between the two neighbours.

Now it is a well-established fact that Pakistan’s army chief is its most powerful person. Gen. Raheel Sharif is leaving the Pakistan’s most powerful office with anti-India designs, something that reflects in the statements of every Pakistani politician, be it its prime minister or defence minister or foreign affairs minister.

If we take a cue from that, India is going to handle the same, belligerent and backstabbing Pakistan as it was during Raheel Sharif’s time.

Continuing the tradition of anti-India rhetoric, Pakistan FS said ‘Pakistan had very sagaciously reminded it (India) of such dangerous tendencies’.

While emphasizing that India and Pakistan needed to talk, he further added that ‘Pakistan’s defences were fully impregnable and it could not be intimidated with volleys of bragging talks’.

Pakistan’s leadership has been more livid ever since India conducted its surgical strike deep inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in September eliminating dozens of terrorists and terror launch-pads. What has been more humiliating for Pakistan and its military leadership is that they cannot accept on any platform any such military exercise by the Indian army inside the territory of its influence.

And so they are resorting to such ‘volleys of bragging talks’ like Pakistan’s FS has just said or like other ruling elite of Pakistan say about India every other day or like the continued shelling across our border areas ever since the surgical strike.

Ever since the surgical strike on September 29, Pakistan has violated ceasefire over 300 times and brags about how many Indian soldiers it has killed in the cross-border firing to appease concerns of its internal politics. But as the Indian forces have been given a free hand to give befitting reply to any Pakistani misadventure, the scale of damage on the Pakistani side in the Indian counter-firing has been manifold.

Last week we saw a glimpse of it when the Pakistani DGMO had to call his Indian counterpart for talks after India’s retaliatory fire in response to an Indian soldier’s beheading inflicted heavy damage on the Pakistani side. We can gauge the extent of damage by the fact that it was the first time since the surgical strike that the Pakistani DGMO had to speak to the Indian DGMO about bringing normalcy along the LoC.


Sunday, 27 November 2016


Where do we call home.
Where do we seek life.
Where do we come from.
Where do we sing life.
Where do we go.
What do we live for.
When do we take sides.
What do we die for.
A name was given to you.
A name you became.
A man was thought about.
A man you became.
Where is the home.
What became of life.
Where is the name.
What became of the guide.
Where do we come from.
Where do we go.
When do we dance.
When life sings.
When do we seek.
When do we give.
When do we cry.
Where do we go to cry.
Where do we belong.
Where questions cease.
Where answers speak.
There we call home.
Where we belong.
When life is a song.
When it can't go wrong.
There we call home.
Its where we come from.


Saturday, 26 November 2016









Friday, 25 November 2016


Mamata Banerjee is very active on Twitter (@MamataOfficial) and basically tweets in English and sometimes in Bangla. But she is using Hindi as well, and strategically, in order to reach a wider cross section of people on the demonetization issue which she is vehemently opposed to. A scroll down her Twitter feed will show that increasingly most of her tweets on demonetization are in both languages. She has tried to emerge as a central figure of the anti-demonetization front and her outburst began on Twitter only when she termed the Modi government decision 'a financial chaos and disaster let loose on the common people of India' after Narendra Modi finished his address to the nation announcing the decision that has kept India hooked since then.

Her Hindi tweets also indicate that she is now looking for a wider canvas politically, something that the ensuing chaos in the aftermath of the demonetization drive can give her. She has hit Delhi streets and has held meetings and parleys against demonetization since the Parliament's winter session began on November 16.

Now that the opposition parties have decided to launch a pan-India anti-demonetization protest with 'Aakrosh Diwas' on November 28, they all will try to mobilize masses as much as possible and Mamata's use of Hindi to reach out and appeal to people, along with her image and streets-smart style politics of ‘Ma-Mati-Manush (Mother-Motherland-People)’ will come in handy here. Demonetization pangs have affected people across the country and speaking in a language that reaches out to the maximum number of people is certainly a logical idea. Also, now that TMC is a national level political party, speaking and tweeting in Hindi makes sense when the heart of India's political landscape, Uttar Pradesh, a Hindi speaking state, is going to polls in the next few months. 


Thursday, 24 November 2016


Facebook is reportedly working on a software that will sift the content hostile to the interests of the Chinese government in order to gain entry in the world’s largest base of active telecom and internet users. Facebook was blocked by China in 2009 for allegedly contributing to Xinxiang’s race riots.

China has around 700 million digital population, largest in the world – and Chinese internet companies like WeChat, Weibo and Baidu have grown manifold, aided by a protectionist Chinese government and by the absence of global internet giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

And it seems Mark Zuckerberg wants a share of that digital population to fuel his organization’s further growth even if it comes at the cost of the founding principle of Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg had written about information flow on Facebook in an open letter on September 8, 2006 that is available on Facebook. The open letter was basically about how apologetic Mark Zuckerberg felt after Facebook had a messy launch of its News Feed. The open letter was basically about the ‘free flow of information the Internet’.

Zuckerberg writes in the initial lines of his open letter, “When I made Facebook two years ago my goal was to help people understand what was going on in their world a little better. I wanted to create an environment where people could share whatever information they wanted, but also have control over whom they shared that information with. I think a lot of the success we’ve seen is because of these basic principles.”

Zuckerberg further writes in the letter about creating a group ‘Free Flow of Information on the Internet’ because this is what he believes in as he says. The open letter has hyperlinked text to redirect to the group but when the link is clicked it says “sorry, this content isn’t available right now.”

From that motto of ‘free flow of information on the internet’, Facebook is now reportedly developing tailored tools to serve propaganda of the autocratic regimes like China.

Facebook was founded in 2004. In 2006, it was still a small business with valuation around $500 million. But 10 years later, its market cap is now over $350 billion – in ivy league with companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google and Exxon. Industry analysts say Facebook’s profit has the potential to grow 32% annually for some next years and its market cap may touch $1 trillion. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is already among the wealthiest people in the world and that if it happens so it will make him the richest person on the planet.

That makes Facebook a pure business interest for Mark Zuckerberg and with that comes the pressure growth. And he is already facing the heat. The pressure to grow its market has effectively put a break on Mark Zuckerberg’s goal of ‘free flow of information on the internet’. The ‘unavailability’ of the group Mark writes about in his open letter can be seen as a testimony to that. There has been a flurry of cases around the world on how Facebook uses the data or it violates personal privacy norms. It has unsuccessfully tried introducing controversial platforms like Free Basics in India, essentially a marketing tie-up with some companies that provides free basic internet to the users but with selected content.

To maintain its hold as the primary and most preferred social networking site, Facebook has tried to increase its reach, acquiring new platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram and focusing on markets with enormous potential like China and India. Facebook’s mammoth acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014 was seen as a desperate attempt to maintain that lead.

Facebook is slowing down in its main market – America and Canada – that it counts as one – and it needs to expand. China and India are the world’s biggest telecom markets in terms active users. As Facebook India MD Umang Bedi puts it, and as Mark Zuckerberg says, India is the most critical and strategic market for Facebook. But there is a big catch. India may a be a future market for Facebook but its contribution in Facebook’s overall revenue at the moment is negligible. Facebook earns Rs. 630 per user in the US whereas in India, it is still less than Rs. 9 while the global average is around Rs. 270. That is a huge gap to fill.

Also, Facebook has set a norm for itself that how many ads it can show in its news feed and it will hit the threshold in 2017. So, it needs many more users and markets outside the US to fuel its miraculous growth story. And China can be the solution Zuckerberg will have in mind.

And he is trying to woo China like anything. He has had multiple visits to China. Though Facebook is blocked in China, he opened his sales office there in 2014. He has learned Mandarin. Like Narendra Modi, he has also met with the Chinese President Xi Jinping and has given those events ample publicity. Narendra Modi even visited Facebook headquarters during his US visit in September 2015 but that luck has not smiled on Facebook when it comes to Xi Jinping.


Wednesday, 23 November 2016


If we go by the results of the bye-elections announced yesterday, we get it straight - that demonetization is just a political issue which has not those social contours as is being projected by its opponents.

Bye-elections were held in four parliamentary constituencies and ten assembly constituencies spread across six states - Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Tripura - and in the union territory Puducherry.

Going by the charges that the political opposition is levelling against the NDA government led by prime minister Narendra Modi, there could have been just one possible outcome of these bye-elections - the BJP facing a humiliating electoral loss.

But that didn't happen.

The results announced show the public has gone ahead with the status quo prevailing - and going by the geographical spread - Assam (Northeast), Arunachal Pradesh (Northeast), Madhya Pradesh (Central), West Bengal (East), Tamil Nadu (South), Tripura (Northeast) and Puducherry (South) - certainly a wide cross-section of the country - we can say it is not a localized reaction of a certain pocket.

The BJP, in fact, has fared well, and at cost of those who are vehemently opposing the demonetization move - like Congress or the Left front.

The BJP won parliamentary and assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh comfortably, came second in the Coochbehar PC in West Bengal and came second in one seat in Tripura. That shows demonetization didn't work against the BJP even if the bypolls were held 10 days after the sudden policy change announced by Narendra Modi on November 10.

What can we read into it? Are all the stories of people thronging banks and ATMs day in, day out and in night and people dying in queues are nothing?

To continue..  


Tuesday, 22 November 2016


The whole country is trapped into the demonetization debate.

For its proponents, it is discourse. For its opponents, it is an illegitimate force.

Like always, there are many who are caught in the grey zone.

The trial and error juggernaut is marching ahead and it has been a mixed report for the government so far - in giving people their hard-earned money - in new notes and in old notes.

And this trial and error nature of it has given the political opposition a golden chance to score some brownie political (and electoral points in the season of state assembly elections) points by trying to corner the government. For them it is an illegitimate force and they have left no stone unturned in spreading this notion.

And what about people - commoners like you and me?

Well, either they don't matter or if the systems looks taking care of them, it is like it is extending some sort of favour.

It is said that the common man is the basic entity of a democracy and the processes of a democratic nation should revolve around him.

But we live in the times and in a society where the common folks - people like you and me - are only given some value or hearing when either there is a massive civil agitation like Vinoba Bhave or Lohia or JP or Anna Hazare could do or when there is some court pressure - as we see from time to time - in enacting pro people laws - in interpreting the existing laws to prevent their misuse - even in bringing erring elitist people or organizations in line - like we are witnessing in the BCCI case.

There are many who are complaining. There are many who are resolutely supporting it. They are commoners like you and me. Like always, they must not be duped by our political establishment because they are supporting this demonetization drive in spite of massive inconvenience it is causing - hoping there will be fundamental changes to their lives after it - once the things start settling down.

And stakes involved here are enormously high - specially after reports of many deaths in bank/ATM queues.

The government needs to answer them - and to them who are complaining - because they own it - and they own the processes on every stage. If they are compromising, the government must also compromise to become sensitive to them.

Demonetization must not end up like just yet another issue to play politics. As the government has promised, it must do the promised cash clean-up to filter out Black Money from our lives.

Cartoon: Ragini Chaubey 

Monday, 21 November 2016


Though the India-Pakistan war of 1971 was fought between December 3 to December 16, 1971, its ground was prepared on November 21.

The day is marked with history defining incidents that completely changed the geopolitics of South Asia. A nation was again divided and a nation was again born in this corner of the world and it gave Pakistan a sore point that it will have to survive with as long as it continues to be ruled (and riled) with the same mindset that its ruling military and political dispensation of the moment has.

We can rule out any change. It doesn't look possible in the foreseeable future because Pakistan's ruling elite including its military and feeble polity derive their sanction from the anti-India propaganda they propagate and hysteria they create.

The Bangladesh Armed Forces (its army, navy and air-force) was formed on November 21, 1971 and Bangladesh celebrates November 21 every year as its Armed Forces Day. It was a more organized form of the Mukti Bahini, the grouping of Bangladesh freedom fighters formed in March 1971.

The Indian Army and the Bangladesh Armed Forces (Mukti Bahini) formed an alliance against Pakistan on the same day, November 21, 1971.

The Indian Army, with the Mukti Bahini, had launched attack on strategically important Garibpur Village 7 Kms deep inside East Pakistan on November 21, 1971. India's 14 Punjab Battalion and Squadron 45 Cavalry tanks faced Pakistan's army and its tanks. And how hollow Pakistan's big claims were can be gauged from the fact that India and the Mukti Bahini conquered the village only in two days, on November 23, while inflicting heavy damage on the Pakistani side. This unmatched bravery of the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini is now known as the 'Battle of Garibpur'.

And the rest - as we all know - is history. The Indian Army that was so far supporting the Mukti Bahini in its freedom struggle openly launched offensive against Pakistan and the whole war affair got over in just 13 days with the declaration of Bangladesh's liberation on December 16, 1971 wiping out East Pakistan from geographical and geopolitical map of the world. The images are inscribed in history - Pakistan's commander Lt. Gen. AA Khan Niazi along with 93000 Pakistani troops and civilians laying down arms and surrendering before India and signing the 'Instrument of Surrender' with India's commander Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora.

That is the reason the final stage of Bangladesh's freedom struggle of 1971, that began on an organized scale in March 1971 with the formation of Mukti Bahini, is known as the India-Pakistan war of 1971. Bangladesh celebrates March 26 as its Independence Day, the day on which it had declared its independence from Pakistan in 1971 while both India and Bangladesh celebrate December 16 as Vijay Diwas (Victory Day) - the day when Bangladesh won its freedom in 1971 - or we can say India won the freedom for Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is celebrating its 45th Independence Day and Victory Day this year and is planning to honour 1971 war veterans from India including the veterans of the 'Battle of Garibpur'. 


Sunday, 20 November 2016


Here it is a bit modified and extended. 

Resigning on moral ground - now that is a rare phenomenon in Indian politics and Indian Railways is its most relevant example at the moment.

14 coaches of Patna-Indore express got derailed near Kanpur around 3 AM today. The death toll has reached at 126 which is expected to go up. There are some 150 injured. This is the most tragic rail accident in the last seven years. Yet we have not heard from anyone in the political establishment who run the Indian Railways tendering or offering his or her resignation on this deadly train accident, even if it has to be a symbolic act.

Current rail minister Suresh Prabhu is India's 43rd rail minister who assumed the office in November 2014. When we chart the trajectory of Indian Railways since the first rail minister Asaf Ali, who was in-charge September 2, 1947 to August 14, 1947, we find just two instances of rail ministers resigning on moral ground after a major train accident.

The first one is the one that is one of the most quoted instances of politics of probity and integrity in the public life. Then Rail Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri had resigned from his post taking moral responsibility of the Ariyalur train accident in Tamil Nadu in November 1956. 142 people were killed in the accident. Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had described Shastri as a man of highest integrity after his resignation. The act had seen Shastri's popularity surging who later on oversaw other ministerial portfolios before becoming India's prime minister.

Though train accidents didn't stop after it, it took a long gap 43 years for a rail minister to show such a courage in the aftermath of a train disaster. Rail minister Nitish Kumar resigned taking moral responsibility of the Gaisal train disaster in Assam in August 1999 that had killed at least 290 people.

A year after that, though rail minister Mamata Banerjee had resigned from her post taking moral responsibility after two train disasters in 2000, then prime minister Atal Bihari had Vajpayee rejected her resignation.

There will always be this debate that why should a rail minister resign after a train accident. But then who will explain that in spite of all the tall claims why Indians continue to lose lives in train disasters? Since 2000-2001, India has seen over 2800 train accidents. Even during Suresh Prabhu's term, who some say is a competent rail minister, the Indian Railways has had at least eight major train accidents. And 87% of all train accidents in India are due to human error/failure. Can they answer why the Indian Railways, our country's life line, is still carrying the burden of the British rule era?






Friday, 18 November 2016


Did you hear it? Did you laugh? After all, this is laughable that America’s next President Donald Trump was born in Pakistan. That Donald Trump who has shown a clear tilt towards India (and has crticised Pakistan severely)! That Donald Trump whose victory has made Pakistan quite uncomfortable! Neo News, a Pakistani broadcaster, had shown a news package last month, before Trump’s election, illuminating us with ‘only in Pakistan’ wisdom that Donald Trump was born in Pakistan.

According to the clip, the Neo News anchor says that Donald Trump is actually a Pakistani and it has added yet another aspect about Donald Trump on social media.

The voice-over then educates us that the Republican nominee Donald Trump was born in Pakistan and not in America. Trump’s original name, who was born on June 14, 1946 in Waziristan, is Dawood Ibrahim Khan. Trump had his initially schooling in a Madrassa. According to the clip Trump’s parents died in a road accident in 1954 and he was taken to London by a British-Indian Army captain in 1955. The Trump family had adopted him in 1955 and in this way Waziristan’s Dawood Ibrahim Khan became Donald Trump of Queens area of New York City.

The voice-over says that they (the Neo News folks) are not saying all this but this is going viral on social media. According to the Neo News package, those curious and diligent information-diggers have also found out Donald Trump’s childhood photographs, his DNA test results and his birth-certificate to prove his Pakistani origins.

Now it is no big deal to make news stories and packages on viral social media content but what is abnormal here that a news broadcaster picked this viral but silly and laughable content without applying any thought (if at all a line of thought exists).

Had it been part of some parody or laughter show we could have got some sense of its use there. But what to say of the Pakistani media that mostly survives on propaganda, especially the anti-India propaganda. Recently, when India had carried out surgical strike deep inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, the whole Pakistani media had (as usual) become a mouth-organ of the Pakistani ruling establishment in telling to the world that the Indian claims of surgical strike was false and how the Pakistani missiles were ready to destroy India. 

There were such bizarre/funny/ridiculous claims on the Pakistani prime time that you can only laugh – like this one that due to the ongoing hostilities and war-like situation between India and Pakistan, some 40,000 Indian soldiers had applied for sick leave fearing the wrath of the Pakistani army.  

Anyway let’s be clear that the US rules don’t allow a person to become the US President who is not born in America. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Hollywood legend, who was the Governor of California, can never become the US President because he was born in Austria. Even Barack Obama, the outgoing US President, had to show his birth certificate to clear the air that he was born in America (Hawaii) and Donald Trump who will replace Obama, had actively contributed to such conspiracy theories. 


Thursday, 17 November 2016


Suddenly 'Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai' has started spilling its content from the margins of social media and has started trending on media and, therefore, is subsequently  finding increasing number of takers. People and other platforms are writing about it and it is becoming a public sphere chatter. Demonetization jokes on these Facebook pages have given it an added shot.

And we should be worried about it. Its growing number of likes should not mislead us that it is becoming popular. Rather we should go by the version that it is getting more and more notoriety with each passing day. For me, it is vitriolic face of social media (and Facebook). Stories are emerging that how different avatars of this 'Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai' Facebook pages are creating embarrassing and harassing situations for girls with the same name. They are being targeted by social media trolls and for many of them it has gone beyond the limit to ignore it.

Facebook should take cognizance here and should block such pages immediately. But will Facebook do so - in a market like India where the government and its regulatory agencies either don't notice such content or simply ignore them?

It is well established that many multinational corporations adopt double standards for developed and developing markets. Products of similar brands will have superior specifications in a developed market like America while it will have many shortcomings, even defying the standard benchmarking, when it comes to developing markets like India - whether it was the Coca Cola and Pepsi controversy where their products were found to high levels of pesticides or the recent case of Maggi ban for not following the norms. Such cases happen even if India is a big market for all these companies. Insensitive Double standards!

It seems this holds true for Facebook as well. Facebook's second largest user base is India where its annual growth rate is faster than the US, its largest market (but stagnating) market, as well as than the global average. So, the whole game here is about adding more and more users. That is the hard currency for social media sites - users and traffic - and content like 'Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai' helps in that.

Even if it is in bad taste.

But it is the Facebook content only that is giving sleepless nights to Facebook founder and promoter Mark Zuckerberg who is busy clarifying to the whole America these days that the content on Facebook is genuine and even if some fake content is there, it is less than 1%.

According to a piece in the New York Times, 44% Americans get their daily dose of news through Facebook. That means a lot of traffic and (the eyeballs that come with it).

Now the allegations are being levelled against Facebook that many fake news reports were shared on Facebook that were, in turn, shared millions of times (reaching to millions of people/voters) and helped prepare an atmosphere in favour of Donald Trump, putting Hillary Clinton in a negative light.

There were fake reports like Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump or the FBI officer under cloud for leaking Hillary Clinton's emails was found dead or Hollywood's star and a respectable name Denzel Washington had praised Donald Trump. These all and many other such reports were totally fake but given the reach of Facebook, it would have certainly helped Donald Trump, even if Mark Zuckerberg is on a drive to rebut such claims.

So, on one side, there is America where the founder himself has to come forward to defend Facebook - whereas in India, its second largest market - where there is fake content, where there is unethical extensions like 'Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai', where there are fake and anonymous accounts - and where these are spreading fast - there is no one to take care of it - neither in Facebook - nor in our society.

On Monday (November 14), in the aftermath of the raging controversy in the US, Facebook decided to include 'fake news' in the banned category on its advertising platforms. But what about the fake content that lies scattered here and there on Facebook - waiting for its 'Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai' moment? Humour and satire are the essential parts of our social ecosystems but obscenity and tawdriness can never be accepted  in their name.


Wednesday, 16 November 2016


The move which the BJP sees as a masterstroke – the move which threatens prime minister Narendra Modi’s life as he said in an emotional speech – the move behind which the whole BJP government stands united and is trying every possible measure to make it a success – the move for which the whole nation has stood painstakingly (or painfully) in queues day in and day out – the BJP’s ally and its partner in the Maharashtra government, the Shiv Sena, is seen standing with Mamata Banerjee opposing that very move – against that masterstroke and is going to corner the government on the demonetization issue along with the larger opposition.

It is when Congress, Left and Arvind Kejriwal decided not to join the anti-demonetization march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan by Mamata Banerjee on the issue.

The Shiv Sena has criticised the Narendra Modi government on withdrawing Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes. Its 21 parliamentarians marched along with the TMC’s 44 MPs and others including Omar Abdullah and AAP’s Bhagwant Mann. The Shiv Sena says demonetization has gone beyond the politics of government and its rivals and the party believes that this step is anti-people and has trapped the common man’s life in a tight spot.

To continue..


Tuesday, 15 November 2016


Donald Trump has attributed social media as a 'key element' in his win. He said in CBS' 60 Minutes, "The fact that I have such power in terms of numbers with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.,”, I think it helped me win all of these races where they’re spending much more money than I spent.”

When we see it in composite numbers, Republican Donald Trump is way ahead of Democrat Hillary Clinton. While writing this, Donald Trump, the US President Elect, has a combined Facebook-Twitter-Instagram following of 33.7 million that is a huge 9.5 million more than Hillary Clinton's. Following is the split of their followers base for these three social media platforms.

Donald Trump
Facebook: 14.7 M
Twitter: 15.1 M
Instagram: 3.9 M

Hillary Clinton
Facebook: 9.5 M
Twitter: 11.1 M
Instagram: 3.6 M

These figures say Donald Trump is significantly ahead of Hillary Clinton in terms of Facebook and Twitter followers - two of the three most talked about social media platforms that along with YouTube help shaping public opinion on issues - like we saw in the case of the Arab Spring - a multi-country revolution in the beginning of this decade that is attributed to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. He is having a slight edge even on Instagram, the junior brethren of these two.

And when Donald Trump says that 'he thinks that social media has more power than the money they (Hillary's campaign) spent', he makes a perfect sense.

America is a connected country with firsts in telecom and internet revolutions. According to Statistica, the US has around 190 million Facebook users, 67 million Twitter users and 67 million Instagram users. That means a lot in a developed society of 320 million residents.

So even if Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is busy clarifying that the Facebook content is authentic and just less than 1% of it can be termed fake and he is terming the 'criticism of Facebook for spreading fake news' as crazy,  we have reasons to believe when Donald Trump says social media helped him win or when Hillary Clinton blames FBI director James Comey for her defeat who reopened the Hillary's role into the classified emails probe days before the polls, on October 28.

Okay, Hillary doesn't say anything about social media here. But it is social media only that can shape opinion so rapidly - in a week - something that has potential to decide the  electoral outcomes - at least in a connected society like the US - in a society where even many Democrats and states/regions who had voted for Barack Obama in the previous two polls, went on to vote Donald Trump - in a society that stands bitterly divided after Donald Trump's victory - a fact that also tells us that there are very limited chances of some surge or drop in the followers base of Trump or Hillary post the election result.

Just to sum up, a February 2013 observation by Adweek says, "Social media takes up a lot of time, and internet users are happy to get stuck in. This leads to the use of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter becoming second-nature, forming habits that influence their lives, both on and offline."

When it was so four years ago, imagine it now - when social media platforms have made rapid strides including new platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat - that are taking the world by storm. 


Monday, 14 November 2016


The sky is lit with countless lamps
Souls, bathed in light, shine bright
On the Ganga ghats and its ramps
The water breathes the eternal light

With multitudes, the Ganga flows
And the panorama weaves a night
Slowly, the evening bloom grows
Getting younger, holding us tight

It’s the day when Gods descend
And we all pray in aesthetic accent
Practising initially on a silent note
To go spirited then on a singing rote

It's always an experience of a lifetime
With glowing diyas and their rhyme
Come and be there in Shiva’s Varanasi
Don't worry
Gods lead us on the Ghats of Kashi

It’s again that annual Dev Diwali night
Infusing in us a transcending delight
As the water and air get heavenly
And as the identities are lit blissfully