Saturday, June 17, 2006

Highlights 17th June 2006


India's current sparse goodwill towards the U.S. is not set in stone and may not last longer than the current Indian government does. Even some U.S. conservatives are worried for the future. Nor are most Indians likely to view their neighbour Pakistan as anything except a problem, now and in the future. The situation is hardly better in Pakistan, where only 27% approve of the U.S. and 10% of Bush - yet half think Iran becoming a nuclear power would be a good thing. The "balancer" in favor of an alliance with America in Pakistan is the historic authority of the military, something General Musharaff is certainly unwilling to change but that democratic reform movements certainly plan to.......
America's Next Big Foreign Policy Disaster

The situation in the former princely state is far from stable. In 2004, violence in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) diminished somewhat but it is again on the rise, amid concerns that it could reach earlier levels with Pakistani support, particularly since the two countries' priorities remain at odds. Pakistan's military government has urged India to reach a solution on Kashmir; Indian decision-makers instead stress the prior need to create an environment conducive for a stable peace, which would help, in the longer term, to resolve the issue. Should the Pakistani generals, impatient with the pace and directions of the talks, attempt to pressure India through accelerated support for cross-border militancy, the fragile normalisation process could easily collapse. Within Jammu and Kashmir, the relative decline in violence has helped stabilise the economy, and tourism is again flourishing in the valley. With the assistance of international agencies such as the Asian Development Bank, the Indian government is undertaking development projects in the cities. While the human rights situation has improved in urban centres, including J&K's district capitals, it has yet to change in the countryside, fuelling Kashmiri resentment, particularly in the valley. Human rights violations are inevitable so long as there is a heavy presence of security forces. Although India attributes this presence to militant violence, it should reassess and reduce it to prevent the militants from exploiting Kashmiri alienation.....
India, Pakistan and Kashmir: Stabilising a Cold Peace

South Asian Intelligence snapshots this week
Happy Father's Day!

The modern name of the province, Assam, is actually of quite recent origin. It is connected with the Shan invaders who entered the Brahmaputra valley in the beginning of the 13th century A.D., and who were known as Ahoms. The tradition of the Ahoms, themselves, is that the present name is derived from Asama in the sense of `unequalled' or `peerless'. They say that this was the term applied to them at the time of the invasion of their valley by the local tribes, in token of their admiration of the way in which the Ahom king first conquered and then conciliated them. Other origins suggested include the restructuring of the original Tai word, Cham, meaning `to be defeated', with the addition of the Assamese prefix, `a', to mean undefeated, the conquerors. Thus, the word used to describe the conquerors of the land later came to be applied to the very land they conquered. Barua also suggests a possible Bodo derivation. Mr. Ives, born in Britain in 1931, came to Canada to study glaciation. But his travels, which have taken him from from the Himalayas to the Andes, the Rockies and the Arctic, soon became absorbed in the the human impact on mountains. He has come to defend mountain inhabitants, often poor, subsistence farmers and gatherers who have found themselves at the wrong end of tangled political wrangles.In 1979, for example, the World Bank predicted that because of deforestation, there would be no accessible forests left in Nepal by 2000.That prediction has turned out to be wrong. But in recent decades, powerful organizations have tended to exaggerate the impact of human populations -- particularly poor, subsistence populations, said Mr. Ives. Once such claim was that deforestation in the mountains of India and Nepal would spark catastrophic floods in Bangladesh….Deforestation in the mountains of India and Nepal would spark catastrophic floods in Bangladesh.

I however consider the Quran to be a far more modern tome which exposes the reality that the original message, if any, of Jesus was altered. Muhammad was right in his claim Jesus did not claim to be the Son, but it was later invented. Now that the Christian scholarship, at least many among them, is admitting of it openly, Muslims can exploit this to reclaim some honor for their faith. But this fine line requires a level of intelligence that I think many of them lack, busy in their recurring endeavors to stick their backs up in the air to perform prayer five times a day .In the real world the powerful mind is a big arsenal. Most Muslims lack the social setting in which to grow one, away from the ugly hypocrisy and collectivist pressures that are all too common among them. It is indeed a pity, because I see that the opportunity exists for Muslim scholars to step up to the plate. But learning to fight intellectually would presuppose Muslims have developed enough to do so in far larger scale than they have. For most, supporting suicide bombers directly or indirectly seems a far easier route aka delusion of global domination. But one has to be quite stupid regardless of his mastery at spouting Quranic verses, to not see the bigger picture. Opportunity beckons!...
The good ol' History Channel by SMI in Minnesota, US


To document the religious heritage of Bangladesh, the Bangla Academy in Dhaka has published several books: on Hindu temples [Ratanlal Chaakraborty, Bangladesher Mandir, Bangla Academy, Dhaka, B.S. 1394,] Buddhist stupas and temples, and Muslim mosques and mazars.
In Bangladesh [Bengal] Hindu traditions of local, vedic, non-vedic, tribal, Mongolian along with Buddhist and Islamic, have all merged to give her a distinctive identity. Here the traditions of the Saivaites Saktas and Vaishnavs, (the predominant Hindu groups in Bengal) have merged producing many festivities from worshipping of tulshi plants and baniyan trees to snake goddess Manasa to Gods Kali, Shiv and Sri Krishna. For the convenience of travel and for hotel accommodation, Bangladesh could be divided into six tirtha (pilgrimage) regions. For example, the Dhaka-Narayanganj-Mymansingh region of Central Bangla [Madhya Bangla, the Khulna-Jessore-Kushtia [West central Bengal], Paschim Madhya Bangla, Barisal-Faridpur's Coastal Bengal [Jal Bangla], the Chittagong-Comilla's Southeast Bengal [Dakhin-Purba Bangla], Sylhet and North Bengal [Uttar Bangla].
Bangladesh - The Holy Land of Hindu and Buddhist Pilgrimages

There's an acute lack of philosophy in this land.
Basics haunt us, secure us, insecure us, and rule our cramped identities.
Our fears have gotten bigger than us.
Breakfast at 8, lunch at 2, a cuppa at 5, dinner at 9:
It's as if food's running out on us.
We never skip meals and simply eat because we have
to keep the routine alive.
The routine of routinely complaining about weights
and looks
The routine of routinely blaming Atkins and our
The routine of 'Dhuro' has done us all a great disfavor.
A dog or a cat in a car, a quick trip to the nearest video
A bite at a Korean restaurant nearby,
Kids leaving for school after High School,
All fall under: Routine...
Wake up, Mrs Bangladesh

Dhaka urges Delhi to increase dry season flow of Ganges water
Re: Dhaka urges Delhi to increase dry season flow of Ganges water
Why unabated deforestation?
Corruption and Politics
BDR, BSF trade gunfire
All border posts on alert:Tension mounts as BDR, BSF exchange fire i
UNDP team to study pre-poll environment

The organisation giving the Mother Teresa award to Bangladesh's Leader of the Opposition itself has no legal basis. Chairman of Mother Teresa International Millennium Committee, Anthony Aroon Biswas, himself admits this. It is not a registered organisation. Once the committee had collected huge amount of money to install a statue of Mother Teresa, but at that time also they did not consulted the Sisters of Mother Teresa. Ultimately the venture died half way. Then the committee started nominating top personalities of India and other countries. From Bill Clinton to BJP leader Arjun Munda, many were in their list. There are no records of the many people who the committee nominated for wards every year, some being awarded several times over. Interestingly the committee even did not consult the government, not even the Ministry of External Affairs, before awarding the prize to any foreign dignitaries. But it is mandatory to inform the government with details of the organisation who are giving the awards and is required to seek permission from the state government. It is essential, since the state government has to make necessary arrangements for the person's security. In the case of nominating former Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the state and the central governments were kept in dark. The spokesperson of the Minister of External Affairs clearly said that it had not been consulted by anybody about conferring the award to former Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. They had no idea as to which organisation has invited her. But the West Bengal government only came to know from a letter from the Ministry of External Affairs about Hasina's proposed visit on June 23 and 24 for receiving the award and that has left the West Bengal government in a tizzy.........
Missionaries of Charity disclaim Mother Teresa award:Sheikh Hasina is receiving an award again, though no one is quite sure what it is all about.

This is an amazing story -- and I am not sure if this 'award' that Hashu apa is scheduled to receive is any way 'more important' than the 13 Phd's she has managed to harvest!
Re: Missionaries of Charity disclaim Mother Teresa award:Sheikh Hasina is receiving an award again,


Nearly a million people have been displaced by flood waters in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam. Officials say that incessant rains over the past week have caused two major rivers to flood and several landslides. Ten districts have been affected by the flooding. Rising water levels and breaches in the rivers have cut thousands of people off. Many fled their homes and transport was halted in some areas of the state as water cut off highways and railways.....
Half a million displaced in Assam

The writer and the gunman have never met. But their relationship, forged over bad phone lines and under the watch of Indian intelligence agents, has become the cornerstone of renewed efforts to bring peace to an area that has known little but violence for three decades. Amid a recent surge in militant attacks in Assam that have killed at least eight people and left more than 80 injured, the government is holding its third round of talks June 22 with the "consultative group" which Goswami heads, and which meets with officials on behalf of the militants. So the pressure is on to avoid a stalemate."This is a rare chance for us after so many years," said Goswami, 63, a widow with an avalanche of pitch black hair and a teenager's nervous giggle who for nearly two years has been the main conduit between the government and the ULFA militants, thrusting her into the largest of a cluster of bloody but largely forgotten conflicts that have killed more than 10,000 people in the last 10 years. "I'm keeping my fingers crossed.".....
Assam: Indira Goswami terrorist liaison?

Assam's continued official isolation from non-Indian territories is a serious security concern for the Indian government, now mostly due to the insurgent problems within the country's borders. In this respect, India's internal order problems are intimately linked with the virtual impossibility of closing off Assam to the traditional channels of human movement – routes that are much older than any state in the region. This problem, of course, seems common-place in today's age of globalisation. While world regions could benefit economically from simpler crossborder connections, communities on opposite sides of international borders would clearly benefit from common attempts to solve trans-border problems. Nonetheless, national political and cultural systems remain committed to strong border defences in the fear of disturbing the coherence of their national traditions. Indeed, the conflict between these two pressing modern needs – territorial openness and closure – seems increasingly difficult to reconcile. ......
Where is Assam?

... this is certainly mind boggling ...and ideally we look at maps for reasons more than just a curios look at the weather... and frankly there are hardly any dissimilarity in the weather here in Bangladesh than it is in "India's North East" -- and Assam from where my parents (they were first cousins) and later my deceased wife (she too was my FIRST COUSIN!) came, varies only in one thing -- the winter spell which is longer and more enjoyable if you are living along the borders with Meghalaya, Nagaland or Bhutan. My village is at the foothills of Nagaland -- and winters there are maybe 5 months of the year?Misuse of maps for political domination or ambitions is as old as Man itself, however the concept of GeOcODE for Risk database management is the new in-thing.....
Re: Where is Assam?

FLASH: BSF sounds alert on border following crackdown by Bangladesh
Assam: ULFA explodes confusions?

Seen in this context, the recent decision of the Government of Assam to `change the name of the state from Assam to Asom', as rather inaccurately perceived even within the State, does not amount to any substantive and material restoration of an old name. Rather, what is being proposed (the required legislative process is yet to begin) is a minor rectification of distortions that have crept in the way the name is transcribed in English, to bring the usage closer to the way it is spelt and written by native writers and speakers of the language. The proposed change corresponds to the change from the old Gauhati to Guwahati. Rather like Bengluru in Kannada being more recognisably known in its English transliteration, orthography and pronunciation as Bangalore, the land known familiarly as Assam (the name is now an `international brand' and so should not be tampered with, according to those who believe above all in the orthodoxy of the `brand') is actually identified and known as Asam - or Asom - by those who claim its history, its material and cultural space, as their own. Other versions of the new transcription, like Oxom, claim to be in closer correspondence with the way the word is pronounced and written in Assamese, some of which may appear obscure to those unfamiliar with the complex nuances of the language as she is spoken - and written..... Assam:In the name of changing names

PM’s Bharat yatra: beneath and beyond the rhetoric
Violence and violation :Atrocities inflicted by militants on two tri
Deforestation in the mountains of India and Nepal would spark catast

In an unprecedented action which has created ripples in the corridors of the external intelligence agency, a team of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) led by an assistant director searched the office and sealed computers of Brigadier U Dasgupta, designated Director (Computers) in the R&AW. The action was confirmed by top Government sources who told The Indian Express,''After the Rabinder Singh espionage scandal, we have started a system of surveillance of sensitive posts in the R&AW and this action is an outcome of that. The officer in question was dealing with computerisation and also in touch with American companies as part of his official duties. Certain things were brought to the Government's attention which are now part of a high-level investigation.''…..
Again RAW officer under cloud, IB searches his office, seals computers


Musharraf's seizure of power was soon followed by a seven-point agenda (or was it five points, or nine?. Who remembers? and more to the point, who cares?). In any case, the programme was soon dumped in the black hole where all political promises are lost for eternity, and its elements no longer resonate in the public consciousness. In proposing it, Musharraf was making the familiar mistake of all military rulers before him (and probably after him): confusing the might of the military with the ability to make things happen outside the barracks.This error of judgment also reveals a potent truth that Pakistan's political class need to understand and register. Political power is a far more elusive thing than the announcement of military orders. To exercise it effectively, a leader must be able to coax and cajole as well as command. The military mind, however, only understands the latter. This is revealed in the natural cycle of dictatorship: in its early days, a policy of "shock and awe" can work, as the opposition is cowed; but when after a while the uniformed rulers are revealed to be just like their civilian counterparts (and less effective to boot), the novelty wears off and the dictator is seen as yet another power-hungry politician…..
Democracy: The state of Pakistan


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