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Mumbai (2013-04-08): Flashing headlines across the world declaring India as the world’s rape capital is making many of us cringe. The government insists it’s not all that bad and tourism hasn’t got hit, but industry says there is a 25 per cent drop in foreign tourist traffic and a 35 per cent drop in female travelers coming to India.Some hotels think that complementary spa treatment for women would increase female tourist traffic! Err…maybe a panic button in the room is more realistic?

Mumbai (2013-04-01): Blame it on Spring fever, or old men in a hurry, or too long a period of stability. There is a rapid movement towards the formation of a Third Front, an alternative to the BJP and the Congress. It was in these very pages that this columnist had written last year of the expeditious coming together of regional satraps frustrated at waiting on the sidelines and not getting their due in Delhi.

Mumbai (2013-03-25): All it took was for the Indian Prime Minister to thunder (well almost) in Parliament that “there will be consequences” unless Italy returns the two marines charged with the murder of two Kerala fishermen, that the signal went out to the European nation that India means business. That and some frenzied diplomatic activity. Rome’s unbecoming decision to go back on its word given to the Indian Supreme Court was a huge embarrassment for the Congress-led UPA government and a violation of every diplomatic treatise. The marines arrived before the deadline and though they may not be housed in the Tihar jail (where rape undertrials commit suicide) or in the Yerawada prison (where Sanjay Dutt might soon be imprisoned), the fact is that they are back and will be tried in an Indian court.

Mumbai (2013-03-18): Another house comes crumbling down. A real estate developer is bringing down a 40-year old house next to my home. With each bang, a wall disintegrates and the painstakingly constructed home of the Lekhis takes its last breaths. The House of Lekhis is not named thus, but in our family that is what we called it. Ramneek Lekhi was a photojournalist employed with CBS News in the sixties. He was very keen to travel abroad and waited anxiously for a foreign assignment. A father to three young sons, he promised them toy-cars if he indeed went abroad.

Mumbai (2013-03-11): Some say there is a leadership crisis in the country while others aver that there is a plethora of ‘electable’ (a word used in Pakistan) politicians who are our leaders. The truth precariously stands somewhere in between. As the current term of the Congress-led coalition comes to a close, the leadership battle is heating up. The heir apparent of the single largest party in the country today says, “The prime minister’s post is not my priority. I believe in long-term politics.” Rahul Gandhi has ruled himself out as the leader of the next government, if his party wins the 2014 elections. But as we have seen in the past, leaders can be ‘persuaded’ by persistent supporters to take up the mantle of leadership.

Mumbai (2013-03-04): The genocide in Bangladesh took place more than 40 years ago but it is only now that the enforced stupor of its people is ending, as the War Crimes Tribunal delivers its verdicts. Bangladesh is undergoing a historic catharsis that is being ignored by the world and even by its neighbours. On February 28, the War Crimes Tribunal delivered its third verdict: capital punishment for Delawar Hossain Sayeedi, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, for the murder, abduction, rape and torture of his countrymen during the Liberation War of 1971.

Mumbai (2013-02-25): Hidden from international and regional attention, ethnic cleansing to the point of genocide of sorts is going on in Pakistan. The Hazara community in Pakistan’s largest province, Balochistan, is being systematically annihilated by mass murder, while law enforcement agencies look on, either helplessly or in connivance. Cries of ‘Shia Shia, Kafir Shia’ rend the air, pamphlets threatening elimination of the entire race of Hazaras are distributed right under the nose of the Pakistani military and intelligence services in the garrison town of Quetta, yet nobody does anything to stop this business of hate and murders.

Mumbai (2013-02-18): 21st February is celebrated as International Mother Language Day. If you are a Calcuttan (or Kolkattan), you couldn’t miss it as the day is observed as Bhasha Dibosh in solidarity with the former East Pakistanis who wanted Bangla/Bengali to be declared the official language, long before the birth of Bangladesh.

Mumbai (2013-02-11): It began as an interview of a film director-cum-author-cum-poet, a Bengali artiste who has won many national and international awards and whose popularity transcends geographical and political borders.

Mumbai (2013-02-04): In the name of God, just go! Like a pimple that just doesn’t go away, General Musharraf reappears with exasperating frequency.

Mumbai (2013-01-28): Justice JS Verma, after submitting the report recommending changes in laws related to sexual crime, said that he was shocked over the seemingly unsympathetic attitude of the administration to the public outpouring of grief, and their resultant frustrated anger should serve as an eye-opener to our leaders. Since governments don’t take people’s reactions seriously one presumes they will take commissions and committees they appoint seriously.

In Republic we trust 2013  1  21

Mumbai (2013-01-21): Accomplished actress Chitrangada Singh recently said, “This Republic Day, I am in no mood to celebrate. We should mourn, introspect and hang our heads in shame.” She is just one among thousands of young Indians on social media and at candle light vigils in cities and towns who have voiced similar sentiments, shaken as they are, after the brutal gang rape of a paramedical student in Delhi and the insensitive remarks of our politicians thereafter.

Mumbai (2013-01-14): How does one wage peace when conflict turns macabre and public opinion favours revenge? Logically, policies are not formulated due to pressures of knee jerk public opinion. However, disregarding public opinion too is political suicide.




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I am the Editor News, at Asian News International (ANI), Indiaís leading Multimedia News Agency and the India Correspondent for Channel News Asia, a Singapore based broadcaster.
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