The Acorn corrects Bill Clinton

In the introduction for Madeline Albright’s new book, The Mighty and the Almighty, Bill Clinton wrote:

During my visit to India in 2000, some Hindu militants decided to vent their outrage by murdering thirty-eight Sikhs in cold blood. If I hadn’t made the trip, the victims would probably still be alive. If I hadn’t made the trip because I feared what religious extremists might do, I couldn’t have done my job as president of the United States

This faux pas was spotted by The Acorn. The Times of India carried an article crediting Nitin and now the publisher Harper Collins has acknowledged the error and said that it will deleted from all editions.

Great work Nitin.

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Will Suryanarayana get justice?

Indian Engineer K.Suryanarayana was murdered in Afghanistan by the Taliban. The Acorn wrote

Suryanarayana was a telecom engineer working for a Bahraini company. He was neither a soldier nor an employee of the Indian government. His Taliban kidnappers killed him simply because of his nationality and religion. His kidnapping may have been opportunistic or premeditated.[Send Special Forces to Afghanistan]

Now more damning evidence comes from Afghanistan. In an interview to Afghanistan’s Tolu channel, a Taliban commander claimed that Suryanarayana was beheaded by Mullah Latif, a militiaman working for Maulvi Mohammed Alam Andar, on the orders of the ISI. When such charges are raised, any responsible Govt. would immediately take up the issue with Pakistan.

When the 35 Hindus were murdered in cold blood in Doda, the Manmohan Singh ministry decided that such activities will not deter us from talking to terrorist supporters as Indian lives are meant to be sacrificed in the altar of peace. Due to this divine guiding philosophy and worrying concern that Pakistanis might feel offended, New Delihi has not taken Suryanarayana’s beheading as an issue with Pakistan. The official excuse is that we are waiting for Afghanistan to complete their investigation.

Pakistan meanwhile did not wait for India to make an issue of it and issued a denial. They have the standard denial template and all they had to do was fill in the date and cause and publish it. Now that Pakistan has denied it, there is no reason for us to worry about their involvement.

If the Indian Govt. does not have the guts to pursue this, we should use other sophisticated techniques. We have successfully used other pressure tactics which has brought terrorism to its knees. I am talking about sending the candle holders to Wagah border (after checking to see they have candles with them). But then, suddenly all those folks are missing.

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Subhash Bose: The Report is out

Finally the report by the one man commission on Subhash Chandra Bose’s disappearance has been tabled in the Lok Sabha. The folklore that was told to us was that Bose died in plane crash in Taipei in 1945. One of the commission discoveries is that no such plane crash happened and this has upset some of Netaji’s family members.

“They say that the crash did not happen. On what basis have they said that? There is overwhelming proof that the crash happened,” said Krishna Bose, Netaji’s close relative. [Govt rejects Mukherjee Commission report]

Recently even Pakistan Cricket Board Chief Shaharyar Khan wrote about an eyewitness account of Bose’s death based on the statement of Brigadier Habib-ur-Rehman. The only problem with the story was that according to the Taiwanese there was no air crash in Taipei between August 14 and September 20, 1945. This has been corroborated by the Americans as well.

The second discovery by the commission was that the ashes kept in Renkoji Temple near Tokyo were not that of Subhash Bose.

They found no ashes. There were parts of a human skull, portion of a jaw, some teeth (no gold filling in any of them) and some bone fragments. If, as the Shah Nawaz Khan Committee and GD Khosla Commission claimed, “Netaji’s body” had been “cremated ” for an entire night, no medico-legal expert would adduce that such soft bones would survive. [Subhash Bose: Nehru's Role]

Also, according to the commission, there is no clinching evidence that Bose went to live in Russia. The way the commission investigated this is funny. He went to Russia and asked if there is any information in the archives and they said no. He happily came back. According to some experts, Mitrokhin (of The Mitrokihn Archive fame) knew something about Bose’s Russia connection, but the Commission found none.

At the end, the Commission has no clue on what happened to Bose. The Congress Party and the Govt. both have rejected the findings for they still believe that the plane crash happened and the ashes in Tokyo are those of Bose. What are they trying to protect?

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Eradicating poverty through micro-credits

Micro-credits, pioneered by Grameen Bank in Bangladesh has been an effective way to bring poor people out of poverty, not by depending on politicians, but by allowing people to take control over their destiny. In this program, small loans are provided mainly to women for self-employment projects that generate income. While traditional money lenders charge large interest rates, these micro-credits provide loans at reasonable rates.

Big businesses are also involved in this. While they advertise and market for an urban audience, they are missing the rural population, which forms the majority in India. While there were women availing micro-credits, they needed businesses to run and the companies stepped in.

When executives at Hindustan Lever were plotting how best to reach untouched markets in rural India in 1999, they noticed that dozens of agencies were lending microcredit funds to poor women all over the country. These would-be microentrepreneurs, the company thought, needed businesses to run.

So Hindustan Lever approached the Andhra Pradesh state government in 2000 and asked for access to clients of a state-run microlending program. The government agreed to a small pilot project that quickly grew. The initiative, dubbed Project Shakti (which means strength in Hindi), has expanded to 12 states. Agencies such as CARE India, which oversees one of the subcontinent’s biggest microcredit programs, also have teamed up with the company.

Mrs. Nandyala has repaid her start-up microloan and hasn’t needed to take another one. Today, she sells regularly to about 50 homes, and even serves as a miniwholesaler, stocking tiny shops in outlying villages a short bus ride from her own. She sells about $230 of goods each month, earning about $16 in profit. The rest is used to restock products.

For NGOs, such commercial link-ups have meant shedding distrust of big business. “At first we were unsure about it,” says Vipin Sharma, director of CARE India. “But in the long run, we think the poor will benefit from learning about retailing, distribution and marketing.” [Microcredit helps women entrepreneurs in India]

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The new Argumentative Indian

In his book, Shivaji : Hindu King in Islamic India, James W. Laine presented a non-flattering view of Shivaji.

Shivaji remains a “mountain rat”, a guerrilla of the hills and a narrow-minded fanatic Hindu rebel who, animated by vaulting ambitions and animus, had indulged recklessly in plunder for the gratification of his vanity.[An image that might be disturbing]

This book sparked so much controversy that the publisher withdrew the book from the Indian market. Historian Shrikant Bahulkar, who was thanked by Laine had his face blackened by Shiv Sena folks. Then a group called Sambhaji Brigade attacked Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.

When it comes to controversial books, banning and burning are two activities we do with enthusiasam. Soon after the Satanic Verses was published, India was one of the first countries to ban the book. Similarly exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen’s book Lajja was banned by the West Bengal Govt.

The new controversy is not over a book, but on a movie based on a controversial book – Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Several Catholic groups in India have threatened to shutdown cinema halls showing the movie and All-India Sunni Jamiyat-ul-Ulema has come out in support of the protestors.

“If the government doesn’t do anything, we will try our own ways of stopping the film from being shown,” said Syed Noori, president of Mumbai-based Raza Academy, a Muslim cultural organization that often organizes protests on issues concerning Islam. “We are prepared for violent protests in India if needed.”

Several Indian Christian groups have said they would protest against the film, with one little known Catholic organization even calling on Christians to begin a fast until death.

Last week, small groups of protesters marched in Mumbai and burned a copy of the book. ["Da Vinci" unites Indian Muslims and Christians]

I wonder if Amartya Sen still believes in the Argumentative Indian?

Related Links: Shame on the Catholic Church in India , Banning Da Vinci?, More Catholic Than The Pope, Fragments

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