Development will have to wait

There is one requirement for political parties to be accepted by the 100% literate populate of Kerala – they should have atleast two factions. The nice thing about having two factions is that you don’t need to waste time governing the state. When you have to fight the opponent faction all the time, who has the time to improve the state. Then, what is there to improve in the state? We already rank #1 in suicides and unemployment.

Factionalism is an artform perfected by Karunakaran, former chief minister of Kerala and the only witness to Parasurama throwing the axe ( the act which created Kerala). He wanted his son Muralidharan, famous all around Kerala for being Karunakaran’s son, to be given a good position. Sadly Muralidharan lacked the qualification even to be a road side eve teaser, and hence the Congress party ignored him. Karunakaran, who according to carbon dating is as old as Giant Sequoia tree, got angry. He quit the Congress Party and formed a new party called DIC (K), to remind everyone that it was a fight about “positions”.

After thinking of various way to humiliate the Congress Party, Karunakaran decided to join the Communists. That honeymoon lasted less than the time it takes for Arjun Singh to count the hair on his head. DIC (K) came running back to the Congress camp and decided to contest in 18 seats. Even people who were going to commit suicide forgot their worries for a moment and watched this reunion with excitement. Newspapers covered this news ignoring everything else. In the elections, all 17 DIC (K) candidates lost their deposits.

Now the Communists are in power and the Chief Minister is Achyutanandan, who claims that he too saw Parasurama throwing the axe. First of all the Communists did not want to give him a seat in this elections. Due to pressure exerted by “public”, he was given a seat which he won convincingly. Then there was no other option but to make him the Chief Minister, since he is one of the oldest Marxists. In fact Achyutanandan was a Marxist even before Karl Marx was born.

Since Achyutanandan was named the Chief Minister, cronies of Pinarayi Vijayan, Achuyutanandan’s nemesis, took all other cabinet positions. The aim was to make Achyutanandan a Chief Minister without portfolio. Achyutanandan, who in fact suggested the title The Communist Manifesto to Karl Marx, knew better. He ignored the portfolio list given by the party and gave his own list to the Governor.

It has been less than a week since the new Govt. took over and we already have the build up to a Mahabharata. Newspapers are already drooling at the prospect of this new guerilla warfare between the politburo, party state committee and the new Chief Minister. If anyone in Kerala is hoping for development, they will have to wait. This is more important.

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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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