Abduction of Turmeric – Pirates in the garden of India


The war began thus: In May, 1995 the US Patent Office granted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center a patent [#5,401,504] for “Use of Turmeric in Wound Healing.”

Well, well, well. Some discovery, that. Indians grow up with a constant awareness of turmeric. It permeates their life. It is an easy and generous plant [curcurma longa] that grows throughout the sub-continent. The tuber when dried keeps practically forever. Its decoction is a stubborn dye. It is a condiment that adds character to Indian food and helps digestion. Turmeric powder heals open wounds. Drunk with warm milk, it stems coughs, cures colds and comforts throats.

Indians paint doorways with turmeric paste as an insecticide. Women in the south make a depilatory skin cream with it. Add the juice of fresh lime to dry turmeric, let it marinate for three days, dry it in the sun and grind it to a fine powder and voila, you have the brilliant red kunkum that ‘dots’ Indian women’s foreheads and surrounds the gods in the temples. Roots are exchanged between people as a formal symbol of goodwill. Indians place freshly uprooted plants at the altar during Pongal and offer worship .

For Indians turmeric is a benevolent goddess. For sound reasons, it transpires. Indian physicians had always packed their kits with turmeric. Now West’s formal research was confirming many of its virtues. It is now believed to be able to treat dysentery, arthritis, ulcers and even some cancers. It is also found to protect the liver. Turmeric’s grace is stunning cancer researchers. COX-2 inhibitor drugs have been known to block an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 which aggravates arthritis. Dr. Mitch Gaynor at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center, New York uses these drugs in cancer treatment to impede this undesirable enzyme. Turmeric goes one step further: Dr. Chintalapally V. Rao of American Health Foundation, Valhalla, NY believes that while COX-2 inhibitor drugs battle the enzyme, the curcurmin element in turmeric prevents even the formation of the enzyme. Consider the implication of ‘turmeric patent’ #5,401,504. If an expatriate Indian in America sprinkles turmeric powder — just as her ancestors in India have done for centuries– on her child’s scrape, she would in fact be infringing US patent laws and was open to prosecution.

The Wheel of Yoga


Different approaches to God-realization in Hinduism

Types of Yoga

“Hinduism has taken into consideration the fact that people are of different tastes, temperaments, predilections, and bent of mind, and therefore has accepted the need for different paths for different individuals to suit their requirements. Thus four different paths have been laid down: Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and Raja Yoga. Followers of all the four paths have the common goal of merging with the Supreme Reality. While the Jnana Yogin aims at reaching his goal by the realization of his identity with the Supreme Reality, the Bhakti Yogin surrenders his individuality at the feet of the Lord, his beloved; the Karma Yogin realizes his goal by work unattached to the fruits thereof and the Raja Yogin soars ahead by physical and psychic control culminating in ‘merging’ through Samadhi.

1. Jnana Yoga – is the way of wisdom.

The Jnana Yoga is monist. The aim of asceticism is to reach Knowledge and gain access to noumenal truth. The word jnana means “knowledge”, “insight,” or “wisdom”. Jnana-Yoga is virtually identical with the spiritual path of Vedanta, the tradition of nondualism. Jnana Yoga is the path Self-realization through the exercise of understanding, or, to be more precise, the wisdom associated with discerning the Real from the unreal.

The term jnana-yoga is first mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, where Lord Krishna declares to his pupil Prince Arjuna: “Of yore I proclaimed a twofold way of life in this world, o guileless Arjuna – Jnana Yoga for the samkhyas and Karma Yoga for the yogins.” (III.3). Jnana Yoga represents the knowledge of the self in general. Self is present everywhere and all bodies are perishable. The self never perishes. It never dies even though body is killed. The Yoga of knowledge represents the knowledge of the self, and the self is eternal, omnipresent, imperishable and omniscient.

Jnana Yoga is the most arduous way, reserved for an elite and in it the Yogin must go beyond the plane of Maya. Jnana Yoga leads to an integration through knowledge, gnosis. Also, there is dhyana yoga. The Sanskrit dhyana becomes Ch’an in Chinese which becomes Thom in Vietnamese, Son in Korean, Zen in Japanese. This yoga is specifically what gets called the yoga of meditation.  All these constitute the Buddhi yoga of the Bhagavad Gita, that is, the yoga of integrated intelligence and will.

2. Bhakti Yoga – is the way of exclusive devotion to God.

Bhakti Yoga is the supreme devotion to the Lord. Bhakti is intense attachment to God who is the Indweller in all beings, who is the support, solace for all beings. Bhakti yoga is integration through love or devotion. It teaches the rules of love, for it is the science of the higher love; it teaches how to direct and use love and how to give it a new object, how to obtain from it the highest and most glorious result, which is the acquisition of spiritual felicity. The Bhakti Yoga, does not say “abandon” but only love, love the Most High”.

3. Karma Yoga – is the way of selfless work.

To exist is to act. Karma yoga means the discipline of action or integration through activity. Karma Yoga is the Yoga of self-surrendered action. Even an inanimate object such as a rock has movement. And the building blocks of matter, the atoms, are in fact not building blocks at all but incredibly complex patterns of energy in constant motion. Thus, the universe is a vast vibratory expanse. Karma Yoga is selfless service unto humanity. Karma Yoga is the Yoga of action which purifies the heart and prepares the heart and mind for the reception of Divine Light or the attainment of Knowledge of the Self. But this has to be done without attachment or egoism. The karma yoga of The Gita is a unique philosophy of action and it declares that nature has given the right of action to man only and the right of the result of action is under the authority of nature. But the action is a duty of man; therefore he should perform actions without the desire of fruit. Lord Krishna says: “Not by abstention from actions does a man enjoy action-transcendence, nor by renunciation alone does he approach perfection.” (III, 4). Then God Krishna, who communicates these teachings to his pupil Arjuna, points to himself, as the archetypal model of the active person: “For Me, O son of Pritha, there is nothing to be done in the three worlds, nothing ungained to be gained – and yet I engage in action.” (III.22).

4. Raja Yoga  – The Respelendent Yoga of Spiritual Kings

This refers to the Yoga system of Patanjali, is commonly used to distinguish Patanjali’s eight-fold path of meditative introversion from Hatha Yoga. Psycho-physical practices for mind and cure have been part of Hindu medical science in the ancient times and no wonder Dr. freud and other modern psychologists are just the beginners in the field discovering the age-old science. Sri Aurobindo observed: “Indian yoga is experimental psychology. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the Upanishads – these and the Saiva Siddhanta treatises – furnish pioneering examples of experimental psychology.” “In Indian psychology they proceed from the basis of the supremacy of mind over matter and postulate Atman as the ultimate Reality of the universe unification with which is the basic purpose of this yoga.”

Romain Rolland 1866-1944) French Nobel laureate, professor of the history of music at the Sorbonne and thinker. He authored a book Life and Gospel of Vivekananda, calls this yoga as the experimental psycho-physiological method for the direct attainment of Reality which is Brahman. Many serious seekers have successfully tried direct realization of the Supreme through the mind control without waiting for indefinite births to take place. This great methodology was developed by the great classical theorist Rishi Patanjali who sought to attain ultimate knowledge through the control and absolute mastery of the mind thus cutting down the endless path of the soul for perfection through future births. The whole thrust is on the concentration and control of mind after shutting it out of all worldly objects to reach the Ultimate Reality.

“The powers of the mind are like rays of dissipated light; when they are concentrated they illumine. This is the only means of Knowledge. The originality of Indian Raja Yoga lies in the fact that it has been the subject for centuries past of a minutely elaborated experimental science for the conquest of concentration and mastery of the mind. By mind, the Hindu Yogi understands the instrument as well as the object of knowledge, and in what concerns the object, he goes very far, farther than I can follow him.”

Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) was the foremost disciple of Ramakrishna and a world spokesperson for Vedanta. India’s first spiritual and cultural ambassador to the West, said: “The science of Raja Yoga proposes to lay down before humanity a practical and scientifically worked out method for reaching the truth.”

Other Forms of Yoga

There are several other forms of yoga, such as Hatha Yoga, Mantra Yoga, and Laya Yoga. The purpose of Hatha Yoga is to destroy or transform all that which, in man, interferes with his union with the universal Being. It is a “Yoga of strength” which lays particular stress on physical exercises that even permit the adept to perform physiological feats that are normally beyond human capacity.

Once a Yogin has obtained purification by the different disciplines of the Hatha Yoga the Yogin must recite a series of mantras or “prayers” which make up the Mantra Yoga. The aim of Laya Yoga is to direct the mind upon the object of meditation.

All these are branches or subdivisions of the four main divisions of yoga stated above. All branches of yoga have one thing in common, they are concerned with a state of being, or consciousness. “Yoga is ecstasy” says Vyasa’s Yoga-bhashya

25 of 53 Cities Doubtful to Allow Foreign Retailers


As many states including UP and Tamil Nadu raise the red flag against Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, its speculated that nearly half of 53 cities may bang door on global chains.  Going by the 2011 data on Census of India website, 25 out of 46 cities with around 10 lakh population, are doubtful to allow like of Walmart, Carrefour and Tesco to open stores.  However, the government in a statement said 53 cities will benefit from the new policy.

25 of 53 Cities Doubtful to Allow Foreign Retailers

Mayawati, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal CM, Mamta Banerjee, Bihar’s CM Nitish Kumar, all stood up against the latest FDI liberalization move from the UPA. Gujrat’s CM Narendra Modi, is happy and welcomed the opening up.

Congress ruled states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana will welcome foreign retailers, but in Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal has supported the move.

Anand Sharma, Commerce and Industry Minister, said, states like Punjab, Maharashtra and Rajasthan are supporting UPA’s reform move.

Cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Vadodara will put up the closed sign as the retail trade is state’s subject and in order to open the stores, it requires clearances from municipal bodies, registration under the Shops & Establishments Act and the Sales Department apart from support from the district administration.

Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore will have to the face the impact of Jayalalitha’s opposition to multi-brand retails. She said in a statement, “The purported intention of the government of India seems to be to bring more foreign investment into the country to improve market efficiency and bring down double-digit inflation prevailing in the country, mainly due to the series of policy blunders made by the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre. Does our nation lack such resources or the technology to deal with such problems? The central government should realize that constraints on farm products, on the supply side, which is one of the contributory factors to food inflation, cannot be addressed through the FDI route, but only by squarely addressing the infrastructural constraints through appropriate policy support.”

Uttar Pradesh is likely to face the biggest impact as it has seven listed cities like Meerut, Ghaziabad, Agra, Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi and the state has already made it clear that it will stay out of bounds. Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have four states each. Despite the huge prospective that middle class India offers to international chains dealing with decreasing demand in their home markets, the global giants are still going to stay interested. Maharashtra will emerge out as the most attractive destination given the fact that it is a middle class dominated area with cities like Mumbai and Pune. The foreign retailers are likely to open up their stores in 8 towns and cities. The government feels, sooner or later, the states would recognize the huge opportunity that the modern retail format offers with foreign participation.

India, China Battle it Out Over Buddhism


The sudden decision of India and China to drop the meeting of their special representatives only a day before it was scheduled in Beijing has brought a cold war on Buddhism out in the open.

China decided to drop the meeting as New Delhi reportedly turned down its demand to keep the Dalai Lama away from a four-day Global Buddhist Congregation that began in New Delhi Sunday. This glitch automatically puts off the later defence secretary level annual dialogue of Dec 8-9.

India, China Battle it Out Over Buddhism

Both sides have publicly downplayed the issue but there is far more behind the scene than what meets the public eye.

The Chinese leadership is determined to make China the supreme Buddhist power. The sudden love affair with Buddhism arises more from anxieties related to the Tibetan spiritual ruler Dalai Lama, than a change in heart on religion.

China’s Communist rulers are focused at building up enough credibility in the international Buddhist community to have their way on the selection of the Dalai Lama’s new incarnation before he dies. The Chinese believe that a friendly Dalai Lama will solve their Tibet knot that has found frequent expression through public uprisings and self-immolation sprees since 1951.

It was the unexpected Tibetan uprising of 1989 that made Chinese leaders realise that a Tibetan generation who had never seen the Dalai Lama and who grew on daily staple of Communist propaganda was to blame. Following a serious review at the third ‘Tibet Work Forum’ in 1991, China adopted a new policy in Tibet which accepts religion as a tool of winning hearts.

As part of this strategy, Chinese Communists have selected at least two top ranking lama incarnations of Karma Pa and Panchen Lama in 1993 and 1995 respectively. Gedhun Choeky Nyima, the six-year-old who was recognized by the Dalia Lama as the ‘real’ Panchen Lama, still remains under Chinese custody 18 years later.

While Chinese candidate Giancin Norbu has yet to be accepted by Tibetan masses, the Karma Pa escaped to India to join the Dalia Lama on the eve of New Year of 2000.

To the supporters of the Dalai Lama, the selection of these two senior incarnate lamas are dress rehearsals for China to impose a baby of its own choice as the Dalai Lama once the incumbent is no more.

Leaving behind Mao’s distaste for religion, Beijing hosted the first World Buddhist Forum in 2006 in Zhejian province and the second in March 2009 in Wuxi. The latter attracted over 1,700 delegates from 50 countries. In both meetings, Giancin Norbu was paraded as the senior most representative of Buddhism in the world.

This aggressive marketing by China as the real Buddhist powerhouse of the world has not gone down well with India, where the Buddha attained enlightenment. New Delhi too has launched its own Buddhist conferences in Singapore, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. There will be similar shows in Nepal and Vietnam.

While the current posturing by New Delhi and Beijing over border dialogue shows where their real concerns lie, the new religious theatre is bound to lead to new fireworks.

48 cities to be developed as solar cities


The ministry of new and renewable energy has given in-principle approval to develop 48 cities as solar cities, parliament was informed Friday.The criteria for selecting the cities is that they should have a population of between 50,000 and 50 lakh, New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

“So far, Rs.17.23 crore has been sanctioned for 37 cities, of which Rs. 2.75 crore has been released for utilisation by the concerned state nodal agencies/municipal corporations,” he said.So far, the master plans for seven cities — Agra and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, Thane and Kalyan-Dombivli in Maharashtra, Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Kohima in Nagaland and Aizawl in Mizoram — have been finalised and the development of projects is in progress.

Chidambaram wants Nilekani to log out


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is getting a lot of mail these days. It was the turn of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to take up the protest pen on November 11, 2011, to raise serious security concerns about Nandan Nilekani’s Unique Identification Authority of India’s ‘Aadhar’ cards project. In his note, Chidambaram has also accused Nilekani of dangerously encroaching on the legally mandated enrolment work being conducted by the Registrar General of India, which is in the Home Ministry’s domain.

Reflecting the shadow war between him and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Chidambaram’s note suggests that its not only Nilekani who is encroaching on the Home Ministry’s territory. “The UIDAI was allowed to get enrolments of 10 crore residents through multiple registrars up to 31 March 2011.

This was raised to an additional 10 crore residents up to March 2012 by the Ministry of Finance (subject to post facto ratification by the CC-UIDAD. This was approved as interim measure.)”Nilekani’s reporting structure is unprecedented in history; he reports directly to the Prime Minister, thus bypassing all checks and balances in government. The Planning Commission had shot off two letters to the Finance Ministry and the Home Ministry protesting the UIDAI’s handling of finances. Its chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia suggested the UIDAI to be “financially self-contained with its own financial advisor entrusted with clearing expenditure within their approved budget while observing relevant government rules.”

After Nilekani bypassed Montek and requested the Finance Minister to grant him additional funds of `15,000 crore over and above the `2,000-crore plan allocation and `1,000 crore from the non-plan head, the Plan Panel was furious. “UIDAI’s present system represents a major departure from government procedures and removes all inbuilt checks and balances. We need a relook at the UIDAI’s administrative structure.” It can be inferred from Chidambaram’s note that Nilekani being unaccountable to the system is setting a dangerous precedent. Chidambaram writes the decision to register all citizens and issue identity cards to them precedes the formation of the UIDAI. The legal provisions were put in place way back in 2003. “The enrolments were to be done only by the Registrar General of India (RGI),’’ the note stresses, adding that “the primary role of UIDAI was clearly laid down: generate and assign UID to residents’’.

Chidambaram notes that despite the advice given to him by the PM to consult the Attorney-General to amend the legal provisions so as to render UIDAI data “acceptable’’, he was constrained to point out that “the NPR project has been conceived by the MHA based on its appreciation of internal security in the country.’’ Chidambaram writes while “the MHA is to carry out enrolment (biographic and biometric), the UIDAI is to carry out de-duplication and issue Aadhar numbers.’’

Could This Man’s Warnings Have Prevented the Mumbai Attacks?


It wasn’t until after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that much of the world recognized the threat of Lashkar-i-Taiba. But in France, a renowned judge had been warning about the Pakistan-based militant group’s international ambitions for years.

Much of the American intelligence community before November 2008 viewed Lashkar as a regional threat focused exclusively on fighting a proxy war with India over Kashmir. But Jean-Louis Bruguière, who earned a reputation as a relentless terrorist hunter in his 30 years as one of France’s powerful “investigative judges,” knew from his own investigations that the group had for several years been carefully training Western recruits to carry out plots in the West.

Just a year before the Mumbai attacks, Bruguière successfully convicted a French citizen who had been deployed by Lashkar on an international mission. In the video below, Bruguière tells ProPublica reporter and FRONTLINE correspondent Sebastian Rotella how Lashkar’s threat became clear during the course of his investigation.

It was this French Lashkar operative, Willie Brigitte, who sparked Bruguière’s pursuit of the terrorist group. After being caught, Brigitte had confessed to involvement in a foiled bomb plot in Australia in 2003.

Brigitte was already affiliated with Al Qaeda-linked extremists in Europe when he traveled to Pakistan in September 2001 on a quest to wage jihad in Afghanistan. Attracted by the group’s sharp English-language propaganda, he was one of dozens of Westerners, including four militants from the suburbs of Virginia, who trained with Lashkar shortly after 9/11.

According to Brigitte’s testimony, their handler was a chief in Lashkar’s foreign operations wing whom they knew as Sajid Mir. But Mir decided not to send them to Afghanistan, telling Brigitte the U.S. operation there was ending and the border was closed to foreign fighters. Mir, Brigitte said, instead asked him to return to France from Afghanistan to act as the group’s “sector chief” there.

In May 2003, Mir sent Brigitte to Australia to join a cell planning a bomb plot in Sydney. There, Brigitte collected maps and gathered intelligence on targets, including a nuclear facility near Sydney. But French agents who had already been hunting him in a broader investigation tipped off Australian intelligence. He was arrested and deported back to France that October.

When Bruguière questioned Brigitte, the links between Lashkar-i-Taiba, Sajid Mir and Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, began to unravel. Bruguière told Rotella that Brigitte’s case revealed not only that Sajid Mir was a Lashkar operative, but that he belonged to the ISI. Pakistani officials deny these charges.

In three years investigating Mir, Bruguière learned that he was connected to plots in Virginia, Britain and Austrailia. Soon enough, Bruguière had built a case arguing Mir was a Lashkar chief with ties to the Pakistani military and the ISI, and had been leading terrorist plots across four continents.

In October 2006, Bruguière issued an arrest warrant for Mir. It was met with silence in Pakistan. But, because French laws allowed Bruguière to pursue terrorist plots across borders, Mir was charged in absentia in a Paris court in 2007 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Brigitte was convicted at the same time and sentenced to nine years.  His trial testimony was some of the strongest evidence at the time of Lashkar’s international threat.

That same year, Bruguière, who has extensive contacts with international intelligence agencies, says he met with a high-level Bush administration security adviser to discuss Lashkar’s threat and Pakistan’s double game. He says the official, whom he declines to name publicly, was unconvinced.

More than a year after his French conviction, Sajid Mir, from his perch in Pakistan, directed the 10 gunmen who over the course of three days in late November 2008 laid siege to Mumbai. They expressly targeted Westerners — looking for individuals with British or American passports at the Taj and Oberoi hotels — as well Jews, attacking Chabad House, a synagogue and hostel run by an American rabbi and his wife.  The slaughter left 166 dead. Twenty-two of them were Westerners, six of them Americans.

“There should have been a recognition that Lashkar had the desire and the potential to attack the West and that we needed to get up to speed on this group,” Charles Faddis, a former CIA counterterrorist chief, told Rotella. “It was a mistake to dismiss it as just a threat to India.”

Today, U.S. counterterrorism agencies have a stronger grasp of Laskhar’s threat. Mir and three others were indicted by federal prosecutors in Chicago last April for their roles in the Mumbai attacks, but remain at large.

Pakistan’s failure to crack down on Lashkar operatives, or arrest Sajid Mir, has been an irritant in relations with the United States, which has supplied the Pakistani military with billions of dollars as an ally in the war against terrorism.

“Today Pakistan is the heart of the terrorist threat,” Bruguière, now a French envoy working with the European Union on counter-terror issues, told Rotella. “And it may be too late to do anything about it.”

26/11 Attacks: 3 Years on, Survivors Await Kasab’s Execution


Three years after Ajmal Amir Kasab and his accomplices convulsed the country’s financial capital, the survivors of 26/11terror attacks are still waiting for the day when the convicted Pakistani gunman will be hanged.

26/11 Attacks: 3 Years on, Survivors Await Kasab's Execution

“Why is Kasab not hanged yet? What are we waiting for, another 26/11 type horrific attack? Kasab and his accomplices went on a rampage and shook every one of us. Why the government is not doing enough. Whenever I read anything about Kasab it just annoys me,” 13-year-old Devika Rotwan, told PTI.

On the ill-fated night of November 26, 2008 Devika’s father Natwarlal was waiting at the Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) here with his daughter and son Akash for a train, when two terrorists opened fire at the railway station.
“I am fine today but still I face difficulty while walking. My studies are going good. But in the last three years, we have shifted our house four times as neighbours often complain and fear for their lives due to our presence,” the eighth grade girl, said.
Jewish couple–Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and Rivika’s cook Qazi Zakir Hussain alias Jackie, a Muslim, who was there at the Chabad House, when two terrorists pulverised the Jewish centre mourns the death of his employers even as he wonders why Kasab is still around.

“The fantastic thing about our country is that good people like my employers – Rabbi and Rivika get killed and the evil ones like Kasab are having a good time in jail at the expense of the common man,” Jackie said.

“I think the Kasab case would go the Afzal Guru way. The same process keeps on getting repeating for every accused and even in this case it’s the same. Even though a special fast track court was set up, the fate of Kasab is still hanging.. After Supreme Court, he will approach for mercy petition and this process will go on for years and years,” Bharat said, who owns a chemist shop near Leopold Cafe, one of the first sites to be attacked, lost his brother Subhash on that day. His hope for justice has now stymied.

The state government has fulfilled “majority of the recommendations” of the Ram Pradhan committee instituted after the 26/11 attacks to suggest measures on how to improve the security system in the state, Maharashtra’s Additional Chief Secretary (Home) U C Sarangi said.

“On the lines of the NSG, we have set up a 350 strong elite commando unit called Force one which is well equipped with the latest weapons and trained by Army and foreign experts. Every year, Rs 17 crore is being spent on this unit,” he said.

As part of security measure to protect shores of Mumbai, Maharashtra Government plans to fit transponders in the boats of fishermen along the coast.

However, some problem areas still remain. Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad ATS is grappling with a severe manpower crunch with 283 posts of the total 732 lying vacant, two-and-a-half years after the panel, set up to probe state police’s response to the Mumbai attacks recommended streamlining the force.

Of the sanctioned strength of 732 personnel for the ATS, which was formed in 2004 to counter terrorism and probe terror cases, 283 posts or 38.66 percent of the required manpower are lying vacant as on September 1, 2011, ATS sources said.

Ahead of the 26/11 anniversary, there is no specific threat or input from intelligence agencies but there is always a chance that terror outfits could resort to a “symbolic strike” to mark the third anniversary of the worst terror strike on India, home department sources said. Among the events being held tomorrow to mark the third anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks is unveiling of a memorial for slain policeman Tukaram Ombale.

A bust of Ombale will be unveiled tomorrow at Girgaum Chowpatty. Three years have passed since that fateful night when Assistant Sub Inspector Ombale lost his life while trying to nab terrorist Ajmal Kasab at Girgaum Chowpatty.

The four-feet high bronze statue was fabricated on the basis of approved photographs of Ombale and his uniform, the sculptors said.

On the eve of the terror attacks, memories of that fateful night come rushing back to the braveheart’s wife Tarabai and four daughters.

“My mother is still coming to terms with the loss, but around this time each year she is a little more anxious than usual,” Vaishali, Ombale’s daughter, said describing her mother’s state of mind.

Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan will be laying a wreath at the martyrs memorial situated at Police gymkhana in South Mumbai. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar will be present.

Apart from the remembrance of the victims of the attack and those who died fighting to save Mumbai from terrorists, no other function is planned, Sarangi said.

“The memorial will be thrown open to the public to come and pay their respects,” he said.
The state government run J J Hospital has organised blood donation camps in Mumbai where the city police officials will donate blood, he said.

A Marathi film based on the life of a policeman, witness to the 26/11 attacks, is being released on the eve of the third anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks. Titled “Hello Jai Hind,” the film has noted art director Nitin Desai debuting as an actor and music by Ilayaraja, who is composing for a Marathi film for the first time.”It is about life of the family of a policeman and how the city recovered from the attacks,” said Gajendra Ahire, director of the film. “It is also about how we continue to live in fear of terror attacks.
Kavita Karkare, wife of slain ATS chief Hemant Karkare, said she was shocked at the apathy of the government. “Our leaders had made tall claims that the security system has been strengthened and no such attack will take place again. But the blasts in July this year exposed hollowness of their claims,” she said.

“Even Pakistan has said that Kasab should be hanged, then what are we waiting for”, questioned Jackie.

The next 100 years


Japan and Turkey form an alliance to attack the US. Poland becomes America’s closest ally. Mexico makes a bid for global supremacy, and a third world war takes place in space. Sounds strange? It could all happen. . .

In 1492, Columbus sailed west. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. These two events bracketed the European age. Once, Mayans lived unaware that there were Mongols, who were unaware there were Zulus. From the 15th century onwards, European powers collectively overwhelmed the world, creating the first truly global geopolitical system in human history, to the point where the fate of Australian Aborigines was determined by British policy in Ireland and the price of bread in France turned on the weather in Minnesota.

Europe simultaneously waged a 500-year-long civil war of increasing savagery, until the continent tore itself apart in the 20th century and lost its hold on the world. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was no longer a single European nation that could be considered a global power of the first rank.

Another unprecedented event took place a decade or so earlier. For 500 years, whoever controlled the North Atlantic controlled Europe’s access to the world and, with it, global trade. By 1980, the geography of trade had shifted, so that the Atlantic and Pacific were equally important, and any power that had direct access to both oceans had profound advantages. North America became the pivot of the global system, and whatever power dominated North America became its centre of gravity. That power is, of course, the United States.

It is geography combined with the ability to exploit it that matters. The US is secure from attack on land or sea. It is vulnerable to terrorist attack but, outside of a nuclear exchange, faces no existential threat in the sense that Britain and France did in 1940-41, or Germany and Japan did in 1944-45. Part of its advantage is that, alone among the combatants, the US actually profited from the Second World War, emerging with a thoroughly modernised industrial base. But this itself can be traced to the country’s core geography. The fertility of the land between the Appa­lachians and the Rocky Mountains, and the configuration of the country’s river system, drove an economic system in the 19th century that helped fund an economy which today constitutes between 25 and 30 per cent of global economic activity, depending on how you value the dollar.

Just as important, perhaps, is that while the population density of Japan is about 365 people per square kilometre and that of most European states between 100 and 300 per square kilometre, the US population density, excluding Alaska, is about 34 people per square kilometre. The US has room to grow and it manages immigration well. Its population is not expected to decline. It is the pre-eminent power not because of the morality of the regime, the virtue of its people or the esteem in which it is held, but because of Europe’s failures and changes in global trade patterns.

This is a geopolitical reading of history. Geo­politics argues that it is geography which defines power, and that military, economic and political power are different parts of a single system. Geopolitics tends not to take policies or politicians very seriously, seeing them as trapped in reality. The finest statesman ruling Iceland will not dominate the world; the stupidest ruling ancient Rome could not undermine its power.

Economists talk about an invisible hand – a concept, if not a term, they have borrowed from Machiavelli. Geopolitics applies the concept of the invisible hand to the behaviour of nations and other international actors. Geopolitics and economics both hold that the players are rational and will pursue their self-interest, if not flawlessly, then at least not randomly.

Think of a chess game. On the surface, it appears that each player has 20 potential opening moves. In fact, there are many fewer, because most of these moves are so bad that they would quickly lead to defeat. The better you are at chess, the more clearly you see your options, and the fewer moves you regard as being available: the better the player, the more predictable the move. The grandmaster plays with absolute predictable precision – until that one brilliant, unexpected stroke.

Geopolitics assumes two things: first, that human beings organise themselves into units larger than families and that they have a natural loyalty to the things they were born into, the people and the places; second, that the character of a nation is determined to a great extent by geography, as is the relationship between nations. We use the term “geography” broadly. It includes the physical characteristics of a location, but it goes beyond that to look at the effects of a place on individuals and communities. These are the foundation of geopolitical forecasting.

Opinion and reputation have little to do with national power. Whether the US president is loathed or admired is of some minor immediate import, but the fundamentals of power are overarching. Nor do passing events have much to do with national power, no matter how significant they appear at that moment. The recent financial crisis mattered, but it did not change the basic geometry of international power. The concept of American decline is casually tossed about, but for America to decline, some other power must surpass it. There are no candidates.

Consider China, most often mentioned as the challenger to the US. Han China is surrounded by four buffer states, Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet. Without these buffers, the borders of China move inward and China becomes vulnerable. With these four buffers in place, China is secure – but as a landlocked island, bounded by mountainous jungle, the Himalayas, the steppes of central Asia and the Siberian wasteland. China is blocked in all directions but the sea.

The vast majority of China’s population lives within a thousand miles of the Pacific coast. Beyond this line, water supply will not support large populations. Most industrial development has taken place within a hundred miles of the coast. Consider the following numbers, culled from official Chinese statistics. About 65 million Chinese people live in households with more than $20,000 a year in income. Around 165 million make between $2,000 and $20,000 a year. Most of these live within 100 miles of the coast. About 400 million Chinese have household ­incomes between $1,000 and $2,000 a year, while about 670 million have household incomes of less than $1,000 a year. China is a land of extra­ordinary poverty. Mao made the Long March to raise an army of desperate peasants to rectify this sort of extreme imbalance. The imbalance is there again, a volcano beneath the current regime.

China would have to triple the size of its economy – and the US would have to stand still – if China were to pull even with the US in GDP. Militarily, China is impotent. Its army is a domestic security force, its ability to project power blocked by natural barriers. Its navy exists mostly on paper and could not possibly pose a serious threat to the US. Casual assertions of China surpassing the US geopolitically ignore fundamental, overwhelming realities. China could conceivably overcome its problems, but it would require most of the century to overcome problems of this magnitude.

Europe, if it ever coalesced into a unified economic and military power, could certainly challenge the US. However, as we have seen during the recent financial crisis, nationalism continues to divide the continent, even if exhaustion has made that nationalism less virulent. The idea of Europe becoming a multinational state with a truly integrated economic decision-making system – and with a global military force under joint command – is as distant a dream as that of China becoming a global power.

This is not an Americentric view of the world. The world is Americentric. The US marshals the economic resources of North America, controls the world’s oceans and space, projects force where it wishes – wisely or not. The US is to the world what Britain once was to Europe. Both nations depended on control of the sea to secure their interests. Both nations understood that the best way to retain control of the sea was to prevent other nations from building navies. Both understood that the best way to do that was to maintain a balance of power in which potential challengers spent their resources fighting each other on land, rather than building fleets that could challenge their control of the sea.

The US is doing this globally. Its primary goal is always to prevent the emergence of a single power that can dominate Eurasia and the European peninsula. With the Soviet Union’s collapse, China’s limits and the EU’s divisions, there is currently no threat of this. So the US has moved to a secondary goal, which is to block the emergence of any regional hegemon that could, in the long term, grow into something more dangerous. The US does what it can to disrupt the re-emergence of Russian national power while building relations with bordering countries such as Poland and Turkey. It encourages unrest in China’s border regions, using the ideology of human rights as justification. It conducts direct or surrogate wars on a seemingly random basis, from Somalia to Serbia, from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Many of these wars appear to go badly. However, success is measured not by the pacification of a country, but by its disruption. To the extent that the Eurasian land mass is disrupted, to the extent that there is perpetual unrest and disunion from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the US has carried out its mission. Iraq is paradigmatic. The US intervention resulted in a civil war. What appeared to be a failure was, in fact, a satisfactory outcome. Subjectively, we would think George W Bush and his critics were unaware of this. But that is the point of geopolitics. The imperatives generate ideologies (a democratic Iraq) and misconceptions (weapons of mass destruction). These, however, are shadows on the wall. It is the geopolitical imperatives, not the rhetoric, that must be understood in order to make sense of what is going on.

Thus, the question is how these geopolitical and strategic realities shape the rest of the century. Eurasia, broadly understood, is being hollowed out. China is far weaker than it appears and is threatened with internal instability. The Europeans are divided by old national patterns that prevent them from moving in a uniform direction. Russia is using the window of opportunity presented by the US absorption in disrupting the Islamic world to reclaim its sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union, but its underlying weakness will reassert itself over the next generation.

New powers will emerge. In the 19th century, Germany, Italy and Japan began to emerge as great powers, while in the 20th century global powers such as Britain and France declined to secondary status. Each century, a new constellation of powers forms that might strike observers at the beginning of the century as unthinkable. Let us therefore think about the unthinkable.

The United States conducts an incautious foreign policy. The relative power of the US is such that it has a margin of error far beyond that of the countries it confronts. It also has a strategic disruptive imperative, based on geopolitical interests. This will make the planet an uncomfortable place, particular for rising powers.

There is another dimension built into US foreign policy – using subordinate regional powers as surrogates, exchanging their willingness to incur risks from a major power opposed to the US for substantial benefits. These range from strategic guarantees and support against smaller neighbours to trade advantages and technology transfers. The recovery of West Germany and Japan during the cold war are classic examples of this. There are three nations that are already major or emerging regional powers that will be important to the US in dealing with Russia in the next decade or so: Japan, Turkey and Poland.

Japan is already a great power. It is the world’s second-largest economy, with a far more stable distribution of income and social structure than China. It has east Asia’s largest navy – one that China would like to have – and an army larger than Britain’s (since the Second World War, both Japan’s “army” and “navy” have officially been non-aggressive “self-defence forces”). It has not been a dynamic country, militarily or economically, but dynamism comes and goes. It is the fundamentals of national power, relative to other countries, that matter in the long run.

Turkey is now the world’s 17th-largest economy and the largest Islamic economy. Its military is the most capable in the region and is also probably the strongest in Europe, apart from the British armed forces. Its influence is already felt in the Caucasus, the Balkans, central Asia and the Arab world. Most important, it is historically the leader in the Muslim world, and its bridge to the rest of the world. Over the centuries, when the Muslim world has been united, this has happened under Turkish power; the past century has been the aberration. If Russia weakens, Turkey emerges as the dominant power in the region, including the eastern Mediterranean; Turkey is an established naval power. It has also been historically pragmatic in its foreign policies.

Poland has the 18th-largest economy in the world, the largest among the former Soviet satellites and the eighth-largest in Europe. It is a vital strategic asset for the US. In the emerging competition between the US and Russia, Poland represents the geographical frontier between Europe and Russia and the geographical foundation of any attempt to defend the Baltics. Given the US strategic imperative to block Eurasian hegemons and Europe’s unease with the US, the US-Polish relationship becomes critical. In 2008 the US signed a deal with Poland to instal missiles in the Baltic Sea as part of Washington’s European missile defence shield, ostensibly to protect against “rogue states”. The shield is not about Iran, but about Poland as a US ally – from the American and the Russian points of view.

To gauge what it means for a country to be a strategic asset of a global power, consider the case of South Korea. Any suggestion in 1950 that it would become a major industrial power by the end of the century would have been greeted with disbelief. Yet that is what Korea became. Like Israel, South Korea formed a strategic relationship with the US that was transformative. And both South Korea and Israel started with a much weaker base in 1950 than Poland has today.

Russia cannot survive its economic and demographic problems indefinitely. China must face its endemic social problems. So, imagine an unstable, fragmented Eurasia. On its rim are three powers – Japan to the east, Turkey to the south and Poland to the west. Each will have been a US protégé during the Russian interregnum, but by mid-century the US tendency to turn on allies and make allies of former enemies will be in play, not out of caprice but out of geopolitical necessity.

Two of the three major powers will be maritime powers. By far the most important will be Japan, whose dependence on the importation of virtually all raw materials forces it to secure its sea lanes. Turkey will have a lesser but very real interest in being a naval power in the eastern Mediterranean, and as its power in the Muslim world rises it will develop a relationship with Egypt that will jeopardise the Suez Canal and, beyond it, the Arabian Sea. Poland, locked between Russia and Germany, and far more under US control than the other two, will be a land power.

US strategy considers any great power with significant maritime capabilities a threat; it will have solved one problem – the Russian problem – by generating another. Imagining a Japanese-Turkish alliance is strange but no stranger than a Japanese-German alliance in 1939. Both countries will be under tremendous pressure from the established power. Both will have an interest in overthrowing the global regime the US has imposed. The risk of not acting will be greater than the risk of acting. That is the basis of war.

Imagining the war requires that we extrapolate technology. For the US, space is already the enabler of its military machine. Communications, navigation and intelligence are already space-based. Any great power challenging the US must destroy US space-based assets. That means that, by the middle of the century, the US will have created substantial defences for those assets. But if the US can be rendered deaf, dumb and blind, a coalition of Turkey and Japan could force the US to make strategic concessions.

War depends on surprise, and this surprise will have to focus on the destruction of US space forces. If this sounds preposterous, then imagine how the thought of a thousand bomber raids in the Second World War would have sounded in 1900. The distance travelled technologically between 1900 and 1945 was much greater than the one I am suggesting by 2050. There are no breakthroughs required here, only developments of what already exists.

It is difficult to imagine an American defeat in this war, although not major setbacks. The sheer weight of power that the US and its Polish ally can throw against the Japanese and Turks will be overwhelming. The enemy will be trying to deny the US what it already has, space power, without being able to replace it. The US will win in a war where the stakes will be the world, but the cost will be much less than the bloody slaughters of Europe’s world wars. Space does not contain millions of soldiers in trenches. War becomes more humane.

The ultimate prize is North America. Until the middle of the 19th century, there were two contenders for domination – Washington and Mexico City. After the American conquest of northern Mexico in the 1840s, Washington dominated North America and Mexico City ruled a weak and divided country. It remained this way for 150 years. It will not remain this way for another hundred. Today, Mexico is the world’s 13th-largest economy. It is unstable due to its drug wars, but it is difficult to imagine those wars continuing for the rest of the century. The heirs of today’s gangsters will be on the board of art museums soon enough.

Mexico has become a nation of more than 100 million people with a trillion-dollar economy. When you look at a map of the borderland between the United States and Mexico, you see a huge flow of drug money to the south and the flow of population northward. Many areas of northern Mexico that the US seized are now being repopulated by Mexicans moving northward – US citizens, or legal aliens, or illegal aliens. The political border and the cultural border are diverging.

Until after the middle of the century, the US will not respond. It will have concerns elsewhere and demographic shifts in the US will place a premium on encouraging Mexican migration northward. It will be after the mid-century systemic war that the new reality will emerge. Mexico will be a prosperous, powerful nation with a substantial part of its population living in the American south-west, in territory that Mexicans regard as their own.

The 500 years of European domination of the international system did not guarantee who would be the dominant European power. Nor is there any guarantee who will be the dominant power in North America. One can imagine scenarios in which the US fragments, in which Mexico becomes an equal power, or in which the US retains primacy for centuries, or an outside power makes a play. North America is the prize.

In due course, the geopolitical order will shift again, and the American epoch will end. Perhaps even sooner, the power of the US will wane. But not yet, and not in this century.

Author – George Friedman

George Friedman is the founder of the private intelligence corporation Stratfor. His book The Next 100 Years is published by Allison & Busby (£14.99)

Daring Elephant Rescue


A rescue they will never forget: Baby elephant and its mother

pulled from mud lagoon by conservation workers

This is the dramatic moment that an elephant and its baby were rescued after they got stuck in a mud lagoon.

Conservation workers, who normally have a policy of leaving nature to fend for itself as much as possible, unless the problem was created by humans.

On this occasion, however, they could not sit by and let the mother and calf die in such a horrible way.

The family herd desperately tries to help the stricken mother and calf as they lie in the lagoonThe family herd desperately tries to help the stricken mother and calf as they lie in the lagoon

The mud dries quickly making their mistake harder and the window of time for rescue much shorterThe mud dries quickly making their mistake harder and the window of time for rescue much shorter

Workers managed to slip a rope under the baby before the hard work of pulling him free beginsWorkers managed to slip a rope under the baby before the hard work of pulling him free begins

The team of workers from South Luangwa Conservation Society pulls the calf first, avoiding the mother's thrashing trunkThe team of workers from South Luangwa Conservation Society pulls the calf first, avoiding the mother’s thrashing trunk

Before the rescue by workers from South Luangwa Conservation Society on the flats of the Kapani Lagoon, Zambia, the mother and calf’s herd tries to rescue the pair.

When they are unable to do anything, the team – along with members of the Zambian Wildlife Authority – moves in while the herd waits on the other side of some trees.

With mud in the lagoon drying quickly, the rescue becomes a race against time. Eventually a rope is slipped under the calf’s trunk before the pulling can begin.

A couple of attempts are made to release the youngster but it wants to stay with its mother and goes back, getting stuck once again.

At one point, the calf appears to be calling for help while his mother appears resigned to her fate before the rescue gets under way

The calf appears to be calling for help while his mother appears resigned to her fate before the rescue gets under way

The calf appears to be calling for help while his mother appears resigned to her fate before the rescue gets under way

Some would argue that rescuing the mother and baby meddles with the natural orderSome would argue that rescuing the mother and baby meddles with the natural order

Although the calf appears to be almost free of the drying mud pool, she looks back to her motherAlthough the calf appears to be almost free of the drying mud pool, she looks back to her mother

Shouting and waving frantically, the team tries to deter the youngster from returning to its motherShouting and waving frantically, the team tries to deter the youngster from returning to its mother

A final attempt is made to pull the calf further away from its mother who continues to thrash around in the mudA final attempt is made to pull the calf further away from its mother who continues to thrash around in the mud

Eventually, they pull the calf out further away from what could have been its muddy grave. It hears the cry of a cousin elephant and runs towards it.

Rachel McRobb from the team said: ‘Most conservationists believe that man should not meddle with the natural order and that we should allow nature to run her course however cruel or grim it seems to be. We agree on the whole, unless a wildlife problem has been created by man (for instance in the case of snaring or being trapped in a fence, in which case it’s justifiable to intervene) then nature should be left to her own devices. She has a plan.

‘However – every rule has an exception and the dreadful plight of a baby elephant trapped in the mud of the Kapani Lagoon and her mother, who had also got stuck trying to save her yesterday had us all in a frenzy of activity. We simply could not stand by and watch them struggle and slowly die.’

Once the calf is freed, the team works to help the mother who has become tired after all the thrashing around.

She is tied to a tractor and, inch by inch, she makes her way to freedom. Eventually she is pulled from the mud and runs towards her calf and the waiting family.

Finally there is some joy as the ropes are removed from the calf elephant after it is pulled clearFinally there is some joy as the ropes are removed from the calf elephant after it is pulled clear

A cousin from her herd calls to her and she makes a dash for freedomA cousin from her herd calls to her and she makes a dash for freedom

The focus then turns to the mother elephant who is becoming tired after struggling for so longThe focus then turns to the mother elephant who is becoming tired after struggling for so long

Manpower would not be enough to pull the adult elephant from what would have been a muddy grave

Manpower would not be enough to pull the adult elephant from what would have been a muddy grave

After an inch by inch struggle, she eventually senses freedom and starts to scramble through the mud once more

After an inch by inch struggle, she eventually senses freedom and starts to scramble through the mud once more

She cries out for her baby and the herd who are waiting for her just beyond the trees

She cries out for her baby and the herd who are waiting for her just beyond the trees

A little weak and wobbly, she makes her escape to the delight of everyone who helpedA little weak and wobbly, she makes her escape to the delight of everyone who helped

After the long struggle, the mother makes a dash towards her calf and waiting family

After the long struggle, the mother makes a dash towards her calf and waiting family

By Richard Hartley-parkinson

Previous Older Entries

RSS TOI

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,257 other followers