Nov 29, 2008

Books - Freud on Terrorists' Mindset


How can you begin to fathom what is going through the mind of a man, who in the name of God and without warning sets out to blow himself up and as many of his fellow citizens as he can? It is hard to see anything more than sheer hatred-that the desire to achieve martyrdom is added to the desire to kill. It may reveal an intensity of feeling, deranged as it might be, but how does this explanation help to get inside the terrorist’s mindset or help in curbing the scourge? Mark Edmundson’s The Death of Sigmund Freud: Fascism, Psychoanalysis and the Rise of Fundamentalism (Bloomsbury paperback, Special Indian Price, Rs 499) turns to a Freudian analysis of a terrorist’s psyche and what makes him discard all scruples in the choice of means to achieve the ends: “No pity for anything on earth, including themselves and death enlisted for good in the service of humanity.”

Because the book has been spun out of a series of BBC radio broadcasts, it is addressed to the common reader—simple and direct without the paraphernalia of academic scholarship which renders a work either boring or incomprehensible, or both. Against the historical background of the rise of Hitler and fascism, Edmundson uses Freudian analysis to reach into the minds of would-be terrorists.

At the center of Freud's work was a fundamental perception: Human beings were not unified creatures. Our psyches were not whole but divided into parts and those parts were usually in conflict with each other, “in tension that bordered on civil war.” One the one hand, the ego “wants what it wants and does not take no easily for an answer;” on the other, the “superego, the internal agent of authority, often looks upon the id and its manifold wants rather harshly.” Hence the perpetual conflict, but individuals are often unaware of the tensions because they lie in the unconscious mind.

Human beings have come up with different solutions to the problems of internal conflict and the pain it inevitably brings. Many of these solutions could be described as forms of intoxication. What these intoxications did was to soften the superego, make it milder and less harsh in its judgments, and so more bearable. The most common intoxicant, and the one often resorted to because it was the easiest to access, was alcohol. If we have a glass or two of wine, it relaxes the demands of the superego because of the toxicity of alcohol. But this doesn’t mean that the tension that is inherent in an individual has been banished forever; it reasserts itself once the toxicity is diluted.

The weakness of intellectual ability, the lack of emotional restraint and the incapacity for moderation and delay makes the individual look for a higher authority that would provide a sense of order. It follows that when the world seems to be most disordered, incoherent, and inconsistent, when “the world is drowning in its own confusion,” the need for order and the need for indulgence is especially sharp. Edmundson uses this paradigm to explain the rise of Hitler, fascism and the rise of fundamentalism. Pre-war Germany that saw the rapid rise of Hitler is described in the Marxist phrase, “all that was once solid had melted into air.”

Freud tells us that we all long for inner peace. At one point in The Ego and the Id, he says that one of the reasons we need to withdraw regularly to sleep is that the work of maintaining tensions, between various agencies of the psyche, is so taxing. We need diversions but more importantly, a strong man with a simple doctrine that would account for our sufferings or to indulge in our desires with the best conscience.

Edmundson’s analysis may not help to curb terrorism-that is essentially a policing and intelligence job-but it would help to get a cue on the minds of terrorists who lead empty lives on the margins of society.

India - Failures at the top

T N Ninan

The quote that stands out from the last three days is of the soldier who escorted to safety guests who had been herded into a salon in the Taj Mahal Hotel. “Don’t worry, the first bullet will hit me,” he said as he asked his frightened flock to follow him. That remark showed this unnamed hero's awareness that a wry sense of humour can help break the tension, it showed that he was not looking to his own safety, and it showed a confidence in his ability to manage the situation: he knew what he was doing. The question is, did the country’s leaders?

Think of Kargil. It was the soldiers who went willingly on suicide missions up steel mountain slopes as the enemy fired on them from above, paying with their lives for the failures of their generals. Or, to come back to the hotels under attack, every hotel guest who went through the ordeal has spoken of staff who kept their cool as they worked out options, were unfailingly courteous, looked to their guests’ comfort in every possible way, and even telephoned some guests to warn them not to come near the hotel because there was trouble. India has good luxury hotels with a high standard of service, but it would be hard to beat this demonstration of grace under pressure.

Do our politicians come off quite so well? It is impossible to not think of the relentless campaign mounted by the BJP and the Sangh Parivar against the officers of the anti-terrorist squad of the Mumbai police, for following the leads they had in the Malegaon case. All manner of accusations were made. So what do the critics have to say now, after Mr Karkare and Mr Kale have laid down their lives? Were these the kind of people who would have been playing political or communal games, or were they simply officers who did not shrink from doing their duty?

It was a great sight to see the professionalism of the commandos who shimmied down ropes from a helicopter onto building rooftops in order to storm into the floors below. But did Shivraj Patil cover himself in glory by revealing the time when the National Security Guard would reach Mumbai? And has he cared to admit his mistake publicly, or apologise to his forces? Or just resign?

The same pattern is repeated in different contexts and situations: the guys in the frontline do themselves credit, the chaps at the top fail at their jobs—and the poor sods lower down the food chain as well as innocent citizens pay the price. Among the people in the dock are those at the helm of government, for being unable to stop the steady stream of terrorist outrages month after relentless month, and for not finding a way to respond to 25 years of sustained low-grade warfare by Pakistan; the intelligence agencies for either not providing intelligence or not acting on them even when the terrorist operation involved is such a massive one (can we have a three-level warning system for the public as they do in the US: green, orange and red?); all those on the crisis management group who could not coordinate even a proper media briefing (or why would there be separate media briefings by the Mumbai police, the NSG, the army and so on?); and, to complete the list, hotel managements who should have thought of proper security, especially after what happened to the Marriott in Islamabad (why don’t our best hotels have even two-decade-old technology like access control swipe facilities inside elevators, so that only guests can access the rooms above?). Our failures are the failures of our leaders. But none of them ever pays the price. Or offers his head.

India - Mumbai;Insurance cos ready to clear claims

Shilpy Sinha

Insurance industry is gearing up to clear claims from the attack on Mumbai even as many of the injured are finding it tough to produce the required documents.

Sources at Life Insurance Corporation said most of the top cops who died fighting terrorists over the last two days were insured by it and it was ready with cheques, including those for the next of kin of Hemant Karkare, the former anti-terror squad chief, additional commissioner Ashok Kamte and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar.

“We will hand over the cheques within 24 hours of filing of a claim with a confirmation of death by the police. Death certificate is also not required in such cases and other conditions such as a copy of the post-mortem report are also being dispensed with,” said an LIC executive.

“The claimant’s name on the deceased list prepared by the municipal body or any public authority is enough for anyone to seek a claim,” said Max New York Life’s Sanjeev Moga, adding that the claims would be cleared within two to three days.

Though it is still early for insurers to gauge the extent of damage and the claims arising out of the terror strikes, companies are not expecting the claims to be significant.

To process the claims, the companies have set up help desks in Mumbai. ICICI Lombard, for instance, has sent its call centre number through SMS to all its customers. “This has less implication compared to the July 26 deluge. We will look at each case with utmost sensitivity and urgency. Out of the 500 injured, some will be covered under corporate claims, some under group insurance and others under personal accident,” said ICICI Lombard Managing Director and CEO Sanjeev Bakshi.

Some of the injured, who have health insurance covers, however, said that they may find it tough to get their claims. Many of the injured were discharged by the hospitals in less than 24 hours as the medical staff found it tough to handle the flow of people. Also, those who were not seriously injured were often shifted from one hospital to another and do not have proper records. The friend of a man injured in the Leopold attack on Wednesday said that the police had not filed a first information report (FIR) and was not sure if the insurer will clear the bills.

An executive at state-owned United India Insurance General, however, said that the company would not insist on the 24-hour hospitalisation clause as prescribed in most medical insurance covers. “Fine print is something we are not going to use,” said an executive with a private company.

As for the lack of documents, Bakshi said, “Those who could not register their name at the company’s call centre can later collect claim under reimbursement and cash list facility (instead of the cashless claim settlement process though third-party administrators).”

Business - Q&A;Chairman,Europe - Microsoft Corp

Narayani Ganesh

Jan Muehlfeit, chairman Europe, Microsoft Corporation, is responsible for engaging with European governments and policy makers, academics and other societal stakeholders in Brussels and across EU member states. He believes that the current global financial crisis of recession is essentially a crisis of governance. It is now more than ever important to take our corporate social responsibilities seriously, he said at the international business and leadership symposium on business and ethics at the EU capital convened by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s International Association for Human Values:

Hemmed in by global recession, how can businesses be talked to today about the need to be more socially responsible?

Doing business is not only about making money; it is also about creating value and connecting people. Adam Smith wrote 200 years ago in his Wealth of Nations that the first thing people do is to take care of themselves. I believe profit and care should go together. Profit gives only money. Emotional connection with others gives more value. Technology in the next ten years will play an unprecedented role in society and will even more dramatically influence further globalisation.

People, organisations and states will mainly compete through their ability to use technology in innovation, creativity and design. It is our ability and potential to balance profit with care — and the way we use technology to do that — that will really count as a long-term competitive advantage for individuals, companies and countries. What Bill Gates is doing through his Foundation is creating a good balance between success and happiness.

Gates is able to do this now because earlier he routed competition to make Microsoft the undisputed software leader.
Gates is competitive because we’re in a competitive industry but we have also gone through a learning process. In Davos recently Gates talked of creative capitalism and how to make it work for large numbers of people.

He talked of the benefits of micro-financing that helps people at the bottom of the pyramid to move up. Technology is helping people do this in Africa with greater telephonic connectivity where none existed earlier. India and China in the 21st century are going to be very successful. Africa too should be part of inclusive globalisation.

Education is important for jobs. A study conducted in Europe revealed that 97% of children in kindergarten said they would like to be entrepreneurs when they grow up. The percentage dropped to 17% when they reached university and plunged to 4% after that. So we need to unlock human potential and talent not through encouraging memorisation and mnemonic learning but through appreciation of innovative and creative ideas.

How can technology help businesses ride out the recession?

All budgets — of corporations and countries — are under severe pressure today. Technology can help by showing us how to save money and be more productive. Technology helps in saving travel budgets by making possible video-conferencing, for example.

Similarly, as far as social problems are concerned, technology can help us find solutions. When you use your credit card anywhere in the world, your credit details are available on tap. Why cannot we use technology to place on tap health details to promote healthcare around the world? E-health has immense potential. Technology is also being helpful as one of the most important solutions to the global environment crisis we’re faced with by helping us to make production and consumption less polluting.

E-waste, a big challenge, is the outcome of technological advancement, isn’t it? So too cyber crime, child safety and phising.

Microsoft doesn’t produce computers (hardware) so it doesn’t generate e-waste. However, we do make software better so that you don’t have to change computers often. Some banks in the US and Germany replace their computers every two years. They can be used in emerging economies provided, of course, those sending it take the responsibility to upgrade them with better microprocessors, etc.

Governments and individuals need to cooperate to tackle cyber crime through vigilance and enforcement agencies. When your child goes to play in a park, you supervise, don’t you? You know who he is playing with or talking to. The same safety measures need to be exercised in cyberspace, in e-chats and so on. As for phising, it cost the world $3 billion in 2007. These problems have to be dealt with.

India - Captured Terrorist speaks

MUMBAI: His swaggering image as he walked around Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus dispensing death was captured by Mumbai Mirror photo editor Sebastian D' souza, and was the first glimpse of the terrorists who have held Mumbai hostage over the last 48 hours.

Now we can also tell you who this man is and how he has become the vital link for investigating agencies to crack the terror plot.

His name is Azam Amir Kasav, he is 21 years old, speaks fluent English, hails from tehsil Gipalpura in Faridkot in Pakistan, and is the only terrorist from this audacious operation to have been captured alive.

An ATS spokesperson confirmed that the man captured was indeed the one photographed by us.

On the night of Wednesday-Thursday Azam and his colleague opened fire at CST before creating havoc at Metro and then moving on to Girgaum Chowpatty in a stolen Skoda, and where they were intercepted by a team from the Gamdevi police station . Azam shot dead assistant police inspector Tukaram Umbale.

But in that encounter Azam's colleague was killed and he himself was injured in the hand. He pretended to be dead giving rise to the news that two terrorists had been killed. However as the 'bodies' were being taken to Nair Hospital, the accompanying cops figured that one of the men was breathing.

According to sources, the casualty ward of Nair hospital was evacuated and the Anti-Terror Squad moved in to interrogate him. Azam who was tight-lipped initially, cracked upon seeing the mutilated body of his colleague and pleaded with the medical staff at Nair to save his life. "I do not want to die," he reportedly said. "Please put me on saline."

Ammunition, a satellite phone and a layout plan of CST was recovered from him. According to sources the young terrorist has given the investigators vital leads including how the chief planner of the Mumbai terror plot had come to the city a month ago, took picture and filmed strategic locations and trained their group and instructed them to "kill till the last breath." Every man was given six to seven magazines with fifty bullets each, eight hand grenades per terrorist with one AK-57 , an automaticloading revolver and a supply of dry fruits.

Azam reportedly disclosed that the group left Karachi in one boat and upon reaching Gujarat they hoisted a white flag on their boat and were intercepted by two officers of the coast guard near Porbandar and while they were being questioned one of the terrorists grappled with one of the officers slit his throat and threw the body in the boat. The other officer was told to help the group reach Mumbai. When they were four nautical miles away from Mumbai there were three speedboats waiting for them where the other coastguard officer was killed. All the ammo was then shifted into these three spedboats they reached Colaba jetty on Wednesday night and the ten men broke up into groups of two each. Four of these men went to the Taj Mahal hotel, two of them to the Trident hotel, two towards Nariman House at Colaba and two of which Azam was one moved to CST.

Azam, who was at Nair hospital for nearly four hours, was taken away by the intelligence agencies in the early hours of Thursday to an unknown location after the hospital authorities had removed the bullet from his hand and declared that his condition stable. But it seems the police grilling was so intense that before he left the hospital for an undisclosed location he pleaded with the police and the medical staff to kill him. "Now , I don't want to live," he said.

Entertainment - MGR to be featured in animated film

Chennai (IANS): Iconic actor and Tamil Nadu's former chief minister M.G. Ramachandran will compete with "current younger heroes" for screen space in a forthcoming animated 3D film "Puratchi Thalaivan"(revolutionary leader), its producer said Friday.

"It involves a Tamil artiste and leader 'Puratchi Thalaivan' who saves the nation by fighting and exposing traitors. The film will help the late leader, popularly known as MGR, compete with 'younger heroes' such as Rajnikant, Kamal (Haasan), Vijaykanth, Ajith and Sarath (Kumar)," producer Sridevi Rao said.

"The venture will present the grace of the evergreen MGR to the new generation with the latest methods of storytelling since his last official movie 'Maduraiyai Meetta Sundarapandiyan' (The handsome Pandiyan who retrieved Madurai) was released in 1978 - three decades back,"publicist Nikhil Murugan said.

The work on the movie is well underway, he added.

"Puratchi Thalaivan"is being directed by Venky Baboo.

Produced under the corporate banner Mayabimbham, the venture's trailer will be released on January 17 to coincide with MGR's 92nd birth anniversary, a press statement added.

MGR was Tamil Nadu's chief minister from 1977 till his death in 1987. He acted in 132 films (including two unfinished ventures which formed part of releases four years after his death) in a career spanning 43 years.

Entertainment - E! Entertainment TV to Air 'El Salvador' Worldwide

For the second consecutive year, El Salvador will make known its tourist options through Sony Pictures, in a simultaneous world-level broadcast of the E! Special EL Salvador ! Impresionante ! program.

The presence of the team from the US firm was once again achieved through the promotional work carried out at international level by the Salvadorean Ministry of Tourism and the Salvadorean Tourism Corporation (CORSATUR). The purpose of this work is to persuade the entire world on the outstanding attractions offered by El Salvador.

Due to last year's success of the E! Special El Salvador Impresionante program, the international firm decided to include it in this year's special programming. For this purpose, the Salvadorean Ministry of Tourism and CORSATUR have invested a total of USD 80,000 to promote the nation abroad through this special television show.

E! Entertainment Television will air the most splendid Salvadorean landscapes, in Spanish for Latin American viewers and in English for the rest of the world.

Argentine model Carola Kirby arrived in San Salvador in August with several company members to work on video takes and presentation issues.

Miss Kirby flew by helicopter over El Salvador's famous beaches. Some of the tourist attractions covered include rafting on the Lempa River, sports fishing at Costa del Sol, scuba diving in Lake Ilopango, surfing, and night-life events.

E! Entertainment TV's previous program showed tourist spots such as Puerto de La Libertad, Suchitoto, the Flower Trail, Lake Coatepeque, Joya de Ceren, restaurants, bars, discos and other attractions from San Salvador.

Entertainment - India;Dead end for 9X shows

If sources are to be believed then most shows on 9X have reached a dead end. The channel which has been facing grave financial losses is the only channel which will not have any fresh content from Monday. Though things have eased out after the strike and the respective parties have smoked the peace pipe, in the case of 9X the impasse still continues. Unconfirmed reports talk of all things not well in the channel. It is no secret that the channel has been looking for a fresh round of funding but has as yet failed to attract investors. And until that happens no new content will go up nor have the existing shows been given the green signal to continue with their shooting. In fact most of their shows are tipped to go off air pre-maturely. It is also reported that the channel is on the verge of collapse because of boring shows which gave way to bad TRPs.

First it was Gajendrra Siingh’s reality show Chak De – Shaher Di Kudiyan Te Galli De Gunde that was axed abruptly and now the latest buzz is that the channel has asked all the production houses to shut down their shows on the channel.

A source from Kissmet Ka Khel informs, “The channel has asked Bonnie Jain, producer Bonnie Jain productions, to shut down his fiction show Kissmet Ka Khel and his other fiction show Ajeeb too ended abruptly. We are pinning down our hopes on the non-fiction show Jalwa 4 2 Ka 1 and we think the channel will air the fresh episodes of Jalwa 4 2 Ka 1 probably from 15th of December. The fate of the show will be decided in the first week of December.”

“Even their dream project, a fiction show based on Indira Gandhi is shelved. The channel is facing a major financial crunch. Even before the strike it was decided by the channel that for a couple of months they would show only re-runs of their shows and thus all the shows which were to start were put on hold,” adds our source.

Bonnie Jain, producer Bonnie Jain Productions, “We have not been communicated by the channel about the fate of our shows as yet. Post the strike I think no shows on 9X have commenced their shooting and I am awaiting further communication from the channel.”

Another well-placed source from the industry tells us, “The channel is approaching production houses to buy time slots. The production houses have been given a notice which states that the channel will communicate to them as to when they are supposed to resume shooting of their shows. One is still awaiting this communication.”

A source from Rubi informs, “I knew this for a month that the show will go off-air but noone had confirmed it to me. But going by the current situation I think the show indeed is going off-air.”

Rajesh Chadha, Head of Operations B.A.G Films, refused to comment on it.

A source from Balaji Telefilms informs, “Both Balaji shows Kya Dill Mein Hai and Mahaabhaarat are on hold as the channel has not asked us to start the shooting of the shows. We have been asked to hold our shows for the next 7 days.”

We do hope that the channel manages to pull itself out of the current mess and viewers get to see better and bigger shows.

Lifestyle - People spend 30 per cent leisure time online: TNS

NEW DELHI: TNS has unveiled its new global survey, ‘Digital World, digital life’ which probed into online behaviours and perspectives.

According to the outcome, people across 16 countries on average spend close to 30 per cent of their leisure time online.

Says TNS Global Interactive managing director Arno Hummerston, “Being online helps people fulfill certain tasks and activities quickly and efficiently. By spending productive time online, we are actually making more time for leisure. With more social and entertainment activities available online, it is also easy to understand why our lives are becoming more digital.”

The survey also concludes that young people under the age of 25 years spend around 36 per cent of their time online. Also, on average, Chinese respondents under the age of 25 years spend 50 per cent of their leisure time online.

In terms of countries, Japan and Korea are the most innovative and pioneering in the online world. In the two countries, as per the surveys respondents currently spend on average around two-fifths of their leisure time online.

While conducting the survey TNS asked people to identify a range of activities in a month. And the result revealed that 81 per cent had used a search engine to find information, while 76 per cent people had looked up the news.

The survey also underlined that mobile handsets are frequently used to connect to the internet.

TNS interviewed 27,522 people between the age of 18 to 55 years online in 16 countries - Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States.

Business - India;Arvind to demerge brands & retail biz into wholly owned subsidiaries

NEW DELHI: Arvind Limited will be demerging its branded apparel and retail business which operates under the MegaMart brand into wholly owned subsidiaries from 1 April 2009.

The decision was taken by the board of directors of Arvind in a meeting held today.

Said Arvind Limited chairman and managing director Sanjay Lalbhai, "We are proposing the demerger of brands and MegaMart business into separate wholly owned subsidiaries to bring enhanced financial focus on these entities and look at possible alternatives for fund raising in these vehicles at an appropriate time in future.”

The branded apparel business which markets Arrow, Flying Machine, Newport , Excalibur and yet to be launched brands like Izod, USPA, Pierre Cardin, Sansabelt and Hart Schaffner Marx, will be demerged into Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited.

The retail business which operates under the banner of MegaMart will be demerged into Arvind Retail Limited. Under the MegaMart banner, Arvind presently has about 150 stores across the country along with the license for world's largest value brand Cherokee.

The transaction is being advised by merchant banker Enam Securities.

Tech - Nokia 5800 Vs iPhone

Has the real competition to Apple iPhone finally arrived with the unveiling of Nokia 5800? Since Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced iPhone in January 2007 MacWorld, there has been a flurry of touchscreen phone launches from almost all mobile phone manufacturers.

However, so far no one has really been able to steal the limelight from Apple despites many devices boasting of far more power in terms of features. In the past few months, the Finnish phone maker has often been criticised for having missed the `touchscreen' bus. Will Nokia 5800 prove the critics wrong? Will Nokia 5800 be able to do to iPhone what no other phone could do? Only time can answer these questions.

Here we bring to you what Nokia 5800 has that its biggest rival Apple 3G iPhone doesn't.

Nokia's first touchscreen phone boasts of a 3.2 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens, 3x digital zoom, auto focus and a dual-LED flash. It also has a second backward facing camera. This compares to Apple 3G iPhone's 2 megapixel camera with no video recording option and no flash support.

Unlike iPhone, Nokia 5800 offers video recording option at up to 640 x 480 pixels and up to 30 fps (frames per second). It offers up to 4x digital video zoom. The phone's front camera supports video calling feature. Nokia 5800 can support video playback up to 5.2 hours, video recording time up to 3.6 hours and video call time up to 3 hours.

No video recording in 3G iPhone also means no video conferencing. iPhone also lacks optical zoom feature.

With Nokia 5800, the world's largest cellphone maker also tries to challenge Apple's dominance in the digital music arena. Beginning next year, the phone will feature Nokia's free one-year subscription for the company's new music service, `Comes With Music'.

Positioned as a music phone, Nokia 5800 comes pre-loaded with a vast range of music collection. Though iPhone users can download music from Apple iTunes, however, the service is not available for free. Apple has neither tailored any download scheme with iPhone.

Nokia's music download package is its first major push into the services business. The company said that all major music labels and most independent labels will offer their tracks as part of Nokia's 'free' music bundle "Comes with Music," raising the total number of tracks to around 5 million.

User's one big disappointment in 3G iPhone was lack of user replaceable battery. Apple reportedly claims that it left out the user-replaceable battery option as it would add weight to the device.

However, interestingly almost all smartphones in the market, even those at the lower-end offer this option. And so does Nokia 5800.

Nokia 5800 battery life is reportedly as much as nine hours (GSM) or five hours (HSDPA), 35 hours for music playback or three hours of video. Nokia claims that the standby time is up to 17 days.

Apple iPhone support talktime of 300 minutes for 3G and 600 minutes for 2G and has a 300 hours standby time.

Nokia 5800 Xpressmusic can sync with stereo Bluetooth or in-car Bluetooth handsfree, which again Apple iPhone cannot.

Nokia's touch phone supports Bluetooth version 2.0 with A2DP and AVRCP. iPhone lacks A2DP on Bluetooth. A2DP audio devices, such as stereo Bluetooth headsets, offer enhances listening quality.

Also, iPhone doesn't support file sharing feature including MP3, images and video files via Bluetooth.

Unlike the iPhone that doesn't allow users to forward text messages as well as MMS messages, Nokia 5800 doesn't have any such bar. The phone supports SMS, multiple SMS deletion, MMS version 1.3, message size up to 600KB and automatic resizing of images for MMS.

In iPhone users can only send text messages or snapshots via email. Also, users can't send a SMS to multiple contacts as iPhone has no option for that either.

iPhone also lacks support for voice-recognition that allows users to dial verbally. Here again Nokia 5800 takes the lead, the phone supports voice commands and dialing feature

According to media reports, Adobe is working on Flash for iPhone. This means user needs to wait as and when it gets launched.

However, no wait for prospective Nokia 5800 buyers, as the Xpressmusic phone already offers Adobe Flash support. Flash is required to power many online video services and websites. This means with no Flash support when users will browse Web pages which require Flash, they will see empty spaces with missing icons on iPhone. Apple claims that Flash may slow down browsing on iPhone.

Incidentally, iPhone supports YouTube which requires Flash. This means users cannot get all YouTube video, but only a few selected ones that have been rolled out for the Apple-favored H.264 video codec.

Nokia 5800 too looks more attractive vis-a-vis 3G iPhone in terms of pricing. Nokia 5800 will be available at an unsubsidised price of 279 euros ($390). When compared to the 3G iPhone, the unsubsidised versions of 8GB model cost 499 euros ($700) in Italy or 350 pounds ($619.19) in UK. Nokia is yet to disclose the operator deals and other details.

It is expected that the phone will hit Indian stores by the end of December. However, in India Nokia so far has never sold its phones tied to any specific operator.

Apple iPhone comes only on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone network in India. So, Nokia 5800 Xpress Music seems all set to give tough competition to Apple iPhone which retails at Rs 31,000 for 8GB and Rs 36,000 for 16GB in India.

For text input Nokia's touchscreen phone has four options: handwriting, mini QWERTY keyboard, full screen QWERTY and alphanumeric keypad. The handwriting and mini QWERTY keyboard are stylus operated.

Apple's iPhone lacks Stylus, which, however, can be added as an accessory. Also, alphanumeric keypad and landscape keyboard is missing

Nokia's touchscreen device comes with 81MB internal memory, 8GB microSD memory card, capable of further expanding up to 16GB.

However, iPhone which comes with storage options of 8GB and 16GB models cannot be further expanded. It has no memory expansion slot. The 2G iPhone was also available with same memory capacity with no further expansion

Health - Only 13.8% mothers follow WHO guidelines

Prasad Kulkarni

PUNE: A study conducted by the Command Hospital and Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune has found an abysmally low rate of exclusive
breastfeeding' among mothers. Even as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued specific guidelines for the same purpose, merely 13.8% mothers follow them due to lack of awareness.

The WHO recommendations clearly mention that breastfeeding to the newborn babies should start within an hour of the birth and should continue exclusively for six months to reduce chances of neonatal mortality. Even the experts discourage the use of artificial feeds and bottles. More awareness and social support is required to ensure rise in percentage of breastfeeding.

While informing about the study, Surgeon Capt Sheila Mathai, neonatologist, AFMC told TOI, "Around 200 mothers from across the city were included in the study. We interacted with them during their visit to our civilian dispensary department. These mothers hail from lower and middle class families." She added that "the study was conducted for three months. It was anchored by Priyanka Aiyyar, a student of AFMC. The mothers were asked questions about breastfeeding and why they don't continue exclusive breast feeding for six months."

Mathai said that many mothers were unaware of the WHO recommendations. "Every breastfeeding mother needed support from her family, workplace and society to ensure that she is successful in giving her baby breast milk." She emphasised on the need to sensitise the society towards these healthy practices.

Highlighting that the present average neonatal mortality rate stands at around 40 (neonatal mortality rate is the number of deaths during the first 28 days per 1,000 live births), Mathai added that the national goal is to bring this down to less than 30/1,000 live births by 2010.

Emphasising on boosting up the neonatal care system, she said that leading causes of death include birth asphyxia, sepsis and low birth weight, and essential care of newborn babies should be taken. This essential care includes clean delivery practices, facilities for neonatal resuscitation, breastfeeding, provision of warmth, prevention of infection and extra care of the low birth weight baby.

"Our study has shown there are many deeply penetrated social problems which lead to lack of awareness among mothers. We should try to inculcate awareness about breast-feeding since school education and try to sensitise the society towards the issue," Mathai opined.

When asked about the reasons due to which mothers prefer artificial feeds and bottles, Joystna Padalkar, president of Breast-Feeding Sub Chapter, Indian Academy of Pediatrics said that, "Many mothers stop breast-feeding due to physical weakness. They start giving supplements to new born babies. Due lack of knowledge some mothers blindly follow other mothers and do what they are doing. If a few mothers follow wrong practices, then all of them end up doing the same."

Lifestyle - Turn veggie to save the world

LONDON: Nobel Prize-winning Indian scientist Rajendra Pachauri and musician Sir Paul McCartney have teamed up to urge people to become vegetarian to
save the planet from the greenhouse gases created by rearing livestock.

According to a letter sent to The Independent, Dr Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and McCartney, who are both vegetarians, blame the worsening global warming on a rise in the number of people who eat meat.

They believe that global food shortages are exacerbated by the planting of cereal crops for animal fodder. A mass switch to a more vegetarian diet will, according to them, help the poorest people in the world.

Becoming vegetarian, or at the very least eating less red meat, is "the single most effective act" anyone can take to lessen greenhouse gas emissions, said Dr Pachauri and McCartney.

As well as producing the greenhouse gas methane, the livestock business uses up increasingly scarce sources of fresh water and increases other forms of pollution through its need for agricultural chemicals, they argue.

Dr Pachauri and McCartney cite a 2006 report by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, which stated that livestock are one of the most significant contributors to climate change because 70 per cent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing and livestock now use 30 per cent of the world's land surface.

"Unfortunately, with higher incomes, societies, even in developing countries, are turning to greater consumption of animal protein, which reduces the availability of food grains for direct consumption by impoverished human beings," they said.

"Already 60 per cent of food crop production in North America and western Europe is being diverted for production of meat," they added.

The letter also quoted them as saying, "Citizens across the world often ask what it is that they can do to mitigate emissions. There are several reasons for a shift to a much lower input of meat in human diets if not complete vegetarianism."

"We are writing this letter not because vegetarianism is a fad or an emotional issue, but because it is a very attractive option for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and stabilising the Earth's climate and ensuring global food security," it added.

Dr Pachauri, who accepted a half-share in this year's Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the IPCC, has long advocated vegetarianism as a way of fighting climate change.

He has been a vegetarian for eight years, while Sir Paul stopped eating meat about 30 years ago, largely because of his concerns about the welfare of farm animals.

World - Sex spells trouble;Dalai Lama

LAGOS: The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual and temporal leader, on Friday said sex spelt fleeting satisfaction and trouble later, while
chastity offered a better life and "more freedom."

"Sexual pressure, sexual desire, actually I think is short period satisfaction and often, that leads to more complication," the Dalai Lama told reporters in a Lagos hotel, speaking in English without a translator.

He said conjugal life caused "too much ups and downs. "Naturally as a human being ... some kind of desire for sex comes, but then you use human intelligence to make comprehension that those couples always full of trouble. And in some cases there is suicide, murder cases," the Dalai Lama said.

He said the "consolation" in celibacy is that although "we miss something, but at the same time, compare whole life, it's better, more independence, more freedom."

Considered a Buddhist Master exempt from the religion's wheel of death and reincarnation, the Dalai Lama waxed eloquent on the Buddhist credo of non-attachment.

"Too much attachment towards your children, towards your partner," was "one of the obstacle or hindrance of peace of mind," he said.

Revered by his followers as a god-king, the Dalai Lama arrived in Lagos today on a three-day visit following an invitation from a foundation to attend a conference. He has made no political speeches in the west African country.

He leaves tonight for the Czech Republic and then on to Brussels to address the European Parliament before heading to Poland, where he is due to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

India - Restoring Taj to cost Rs 5bn,take 12 months

NEW DELHI: The restoration of the century-old Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel in downtown Mumbai that was considerably damaged during the terror
siege could take as much as 12 months and cost about Rs 5 billion (Rs 500 crore/$100 million), experts on structural engineering and architecture say.

A sea-facing landmark of India's commercial capital, offering a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea and the majestic Gateway of India, the hotel was built in 1903, with its architecture blending Moorish, Oriental and Florentine styles.

Thus, the restoration, will take that much more time and cost more than conventional restorations, the experts said, adding the services of professional institutions like the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) may also be required.

"The Taj is one of our oldest hotels and a heritage structure. So, any restoration work would take a minimum of a year. It is my estimate that it could cost somewhere around Rs 500 crore," said Pandurang Potnis, vice president of the Indian Institute of Architecture.

"You must understand that restoration work for such structures is a cumbersome process. It involves a detailed assessment of the damage with blueprints. Only then can the damaged structure be strengthened," he added.

"In India, this kind of technology is available with only a handful of institutions like the Archaeological Survey of India," Potnis, who also runs Bangalore-based architecture consultancy firm under his name, told IANS.

Visitors to the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel have come away in awe of its Indian influences, vaulted alabaster ceilings, onyx columns, archways, carpets and chandeliers, as also its collection of art and antique furniture.

Jamsetji N Tata, the legendary founder of India's largest industrial house, built the 565-room hotel much before the Gateway of India was completed in 1928 to commemorate the visit of Britain's King George V and Queen Mary.

The grand property, which will also require some experienced artisans and workers to refurbish and restore, has hosted royalty, heads of states,
corporate honchos and celebrities, among other guests in the past.

A K Nagpal, the head of the civil engineering department at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) here, also said that structural engineering was the trickiest part in restoration of damaged properties.

"We have undertaken such consulting projects in the past and provide advice to even private companies," added Nagpal, who specialises in areas like structural engineering and tall buildings.

Rajesh Thambi, who runs an architectural design firm Saving Catalyst here, said that if it takes a skilled person around five minutes to construct one sq ft of carpeted area, restoration would take anywhere between 45-50 minutes.

"I would say that the cost of restoration - it will take a lot of care while doing so - will be around Rs 1,500-Rs 2,000 per square feet."

The owners of the property, Indian Hotels Ltd., have said that they would take all measures to restore the Mumbai landmark and had an insurance policy against terror attacks.

"We are not just determined, but completely committed, to rebuilding the institution. We will restore it to its fullest glory," said company vice chairman R K Krishna Kumar.

"The loss of life is extremely distressing, as is seeing a building as unique as this destroyed. The entire top floor has gone up in flames, but as soon as the dust settles we will go out there and begin the rebuilding," Krishna Kumar added.

Armed terrorists who had seized the hotel for four days earlier this week had set deliberate parts of it on fire in a bid to damage it. The hotel suffered further damage when commandos had moved against the terrorists Friday-Saturday to wrest it back from them.

Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata visited the property Saturday with his management team to inspect the damage and discuss measures for the hotel's restoration.

India - Taj;No indications of staff involved in terror attack

MUMBAI: Amid reports that one of the terrorists worked as a chef in its hotel, Tata-owned Taj Group said there was no indication that any of its
employees was involved in the attack.

"We are extending our full cooperation to the investigating authorities. We have had no indications from them that any employee or contractual staff of the hotel have been involved as part of this terrorist attack as is being reported by some media outlets," The Indian Hotels Company Ltd CEO and Managing Director Raymond Bickson said in a statement.

There have been reports that one of the terrorists involved in the attack had worked as chef in the hotel for the last 10 months.

Bickson, along with Vice-Chairman of the company Krishna Kumar, accompanied group Chairman Ratan Tata to the devastated heritage hotel, immediately after the commandos gunned downed three terrorists, who were holed up in the hotel since Wednesday.

Columnists - Khushwant Singh;2008-A wind-up chornicle

It is New Year’s Day, 1st of January 2008. It is bitterly cold — one point above freezing point. I sit huddled by the dying embers of my fireplace and turn the pages of my diary of the year about to end. Every other page records a bomb blast in some city or the other with the numbers killed and injured along with wild guesses about organisations which might be responsible for it. Conclusion — spreading lawlessness, outrageous defiances of authority by the Thackeray trio of Mumbai, Bajrang Dal’s attacks on hapless Muslims and Christians with leaders of saffron brigades promptly speaking in their defence without bothering to get the full story. L.K.Advani’s weekly forecasts of the imminent collapse of the Sonia Gandhi — Manmohan Singh led Congress coalition; Prakash Karat’s senseless opposition to a nuclear deal between India and the USA and at the same time warning us of the perils of resurgent Hindu fundamentalism and joining hands with the same fundoos in the hope of toppling the government. All to no avail. Thank God!

Before I go over the balance of the good versus the bad, it would be proper to record the names of eminent people who passed away and therefore beyond bothering about our wretched state of affairs. In February died Russy Karanjiya, editor of the Blitz at 96, Maharish Mahesh Yogi at 91 in Holland; Baba Amte 94, Sheila Bhatia of the National Theatre and Justice H.R.Khanna at 96. In April departed the Sarod maestro Sharan Rani. In May, the Gandhian Nirmala Deshpande at 79. In June, Field marshal Sam Manekshaw at 94. In July, Chief Justice Chandrachud at 86. In August, the Industrial tycoon K.K. Birla. In September, H.Y. Sharda Prasad, life-time personal secretary to Indira Gandhi and Salauddin Qwaisi MP from Hyderabad. In November, film producer B.R.Chopra at 94 and ex-minister Ajit Panja.

Besides these celebrities, there were many others who perished in man-made disasters. In August, a dam burst changed the course of river Kosi which drowned thousands of villages in Bihar. In a stampede in Naina Devi temple in Himachal over 150 were killed. Another stampede in a temple near Jodhpur around 250 lives were lost. We still have to learn how to get off and get in trains — so stampedes are no surprise. The Gujjar agitation cost around 50 lives. The Naxalites continued their depredations across the country attacking police posts in Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. They even shot down a helicopter.

Enough of disasters. We had the mildest May on record and the monsoon arrived 15 days before schedule. Six states went to the polls. The BJP extended its domain by annexing Karnataka. It looks set to win more states. However, it failed to dislodge the Congress coalition at the Centre and the Nuclear deal with America went through with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh winning the vote of confidence with flying colours. Our crowning achievement was to plant the Indian tri-colour carried by Chandrayaan-I on the moon.

Kashmir Valley had its first Railway train. Good show: was one gold and two bronzes. However, Vishwanathan Anand regained his place as the world’s Chess Champion. Jeev Milkha Singh became Asia’s Golf Champion. Our cricketers got the better of the series against Australia, England South Africa and Sri Lanka. Tendulkar became the greatest run scorer in Test cricket, Kumble and Ganguly retired from the Test Cricket. We still have Dhoni, Sehwag (he scored three centuries in one match) Yuvraj, Gambhir, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Irfan and others to keep us happy.

Aravind Adiga won the Booker Prize for his novel The White Tiger. Bhimsen Joshi was awarded the Bharat Ratna. I think this highest honour should be restricted to social workers and creative people like scientists, musicians and artists and never given to retired politicians or civil servants.

As I write this, a few weeks of 2008 remain unknown. Another six states are going to the polls. Next to cricket, we are prone to election fever. How Obama won the US Presidency without our vote, was a miracle. Next year we will have our general election. I look forward to the emergence of new leaders — young men and women with a vision of the future. I put my money on two, Rahul Gandhi and Omar Abdullah

Lifestyle - Kings of the Jungle;Taj Safaris

Sumana Mukherjee

If there’s one name that wildlife junkies and conscientious tourism promoters quote with respect in the context of travel to Africa, it is CC Africa. In India, under its new name &Beyond, they have tied up with Taj Safaris to launch two new properties in Madhya Pradesh—after Mahua Kothi in Bandhavgarh, and Baghvan in Pench—at Banjaar Tola in Kanha, and Pashan Garh in Panna

The accommodation at Banjaar Tola comprises nine tented suites set on raised structures that are supported by just seven points on the ground.
Despite the minimally invasive construction, each suite has its own private deck, tribal-influenced décor and what they call eco-friendly air conditioning. At Pashan Garh, guests stay in 12 cottages atop a small hill which have been inspired by the local dry-stone construction technique. Each cottage has magnificent views of the forests and a nearby watering hole. Khajuraho is an hour away.
At both lodges, you can expect the services of &Beyond-trained naturalists, travel in specially designed 4x4 safari vehicles, watch birds and a rich diversity of wildlife. Prices during the high season (till 15 April) are Rs30,000 per person per night on a sharing basis; in low season (16 April-30 June), they drop to Rs18,000.
The rates cover accommodation, all scheduled safaris and meals, alcohol, laundry, emergency medical evacuation and park fees and government taxes. Visit for more information.

Lifestyle - India;Whisky Live coming to Delhi

Rachana Nakra

Come January, hundreds of whisky lovers, business heads and CEOs will congregate in New Delhi. The occasion? Whisky Live, the premier platform for whisky connoisseurs, where more than 150 variants of the best whisky brands from Scotland, Ireland, Japan, US and Canada will be on offer. More importantly, it will give whisky lovers in India a chance to mingle, while sampling—if you can manage it—every one of those 150 varieties (at least 20,000 glasses are used at most events).

New Delhi follows in a line of cities such as Paris, Tokyo and Glasgow, where brands such as Glenmorangie, Laphroaig, Moët Hennessy, Glenfiddich, Chivas Regal, Whyte and Mackay and dozens of others get a chance to exhibit their best tipple.
The man responsible, Sandeep Arora, is a long-time whisky aficionado, having introduced to India rare whiskies such as the Glenfiddich 50 (a single peg of which costs about Rs70,000), as well as representing Whisky Magazine in the country. “Imagine entering the venue as someone who may or may not know much about whisky. You’ll have the best resources around you. Stalls set up by the biggest brands, informed tastings by them, so much to see and learn, all under one roof,” Arora says.
Entry is by invitation only, and the guest list for the 31 January event at Leela Kempinski, Gurgaon, includes names such as Vijay Mallya, who was named Whisky Ambassador at the Whisky Awards earlier this year, Damian Riley Smith, publisher, Whisky Magazine, and Gavin Hewitt, CEO, Scotch Whisky Association. In addition to schmoozing with like-minded souls, guests can attend master classes, tastings, learn about whisky cocktails and, more importantly, how to pair it with coffee, chocolate and food. It will be a revelation for those who want to “go beyond Black Label and butter chicken”, Arora says.

Visit for more information.

Lifestyle - India;Jewels from the crown

Margot Cohen / The Wall Street Journal

At Bharany’s, a family-run jewellery company in New Delhi’s upscale Sunder Nagar neighbourhood, a client came in recently with a 70-year-old turban pin—typically worn by a groom on his wedding day— studded with white sapphires and small emeralds.
Called a kalgi, after the Persian word for a heron’s plume, the feather-shaped ornament was crafted in Rajasthan in a style harking back to the Mughal court’s princely custom of sporting impressive gems on its turbans. The client’s request: Find some new use for the inherited pin, which had been languishing in a bank safe-deposit box for the past 20 years.
In the hands of 45-year-old jeweller Mahesh Bharany, the pin was turned upside down and reborn for modern dinner-party wear as a woman’s pendant suspended on three strands of pearls and emeralds.

Women in India “want more things they can wear today and make a statement. Something that will make them stand out”, says Bharany, who adds that similar requests to remodel inherited jewellery are coming his way these days.
India boasts a trove of inherited jewellery. It’s the natural legacy of a land rich in gemstones and a culture that’s infused with an enduring dowry tradition, a deep-rooted passion for gold, and age-old beliefs in the protective powers of certain jewels, according to Usha Balakrishnan, author of Indian Jewellery— Dance of the Peacock, an illustrated history of 5,000 years of Indian jewellery.
Of course, fashions change. To keep up, some members of India’s royal families didn’t shy away from updating centuries-old pieces in their efforts to reach the pinnacle of style. In the 1920s and 1930s, for example, the country’s gem-besotted maharajas made a beeline for Europe and called on leading jewellers such as Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels to reset their heirloom pieces

Today, with new wealth pumping up India’s party circuit, more super rich, rich and even middle-class people who have inherited or purchased select pieces are updating their traditional jewels. Many of these pieces aren’t the exceedingly rare, pricey antiques from previous centuries, though these kinds of ornaments are occasionally getting retooled as well. Rather, most are 30 to 90-year-old traditional pieces—turban pins dripping with diamonds, nose rings laden with pearls and hair ornaments studded with rubies. These outmoded pieces, which typically hibernate in storage except for the occasional wear at weddings, are being transformed into more practical, wearable accessories.

Women “want to use whatever they have”, says Arjun Jain of Padma Gems, a 150-year-old high-end jeweller in New Delhi whose clients typically wait three months for a refashioned item and pay between $1,000 (around Rs50,000) and $2,000.
In most cases, these reconstructions aren’t a mad dash to melt down all the gold, pluck out the precious stones and order an entirely modern accessory.
Thanks to a renewed appreciation of the style of India’s heritage jewellery, many women and their daughters are choosing careful modifications.
Take, for instance, Asha Bansal, a 52-year-old Delhi-based fashion designer whose father was a jewellery buff. Last November, Bansal converted a thick bracelet laden with Colombian emeralds, which she describes as a century-old piece her father obtained at an auction from a royal family in Rajasthan. The 30 emeralds, all eight-carat baguettes, were “wasted in a bracelet”, says Bansal, who thought “something closer to my face would be more eye-catching”.
Her jeweller sketched five options, most of them ornate designs that required additional jewels and a platinum setting. In the end, Bansal opted for a design of a more delicate oval necklace with the emeralds encircled by diamonds that reflected the gemstones’ royal history. The diamonds came from another piece from her father’s collection—a 50-year-old pair of diamond and emerald earrings that she deemed “too traditional to get any mileage out of”.
Bansal has since worn the necklace to a cocktail party where she says she could be sure of running into guests who would recognize the quality of the piece. She also wore it to a wedding. “I chose something that I could wear with trousers, or a sari,” she explains. The eight-month project—from sketches to finished piece—cost about $5,000.
Some of the most intriguing innovations involve a change in function. Antique women’s bangles become luxury handbag handles; smaller children’s bangles are recycled as decorative necklace clasps. “Many pieces originally made for men are now worn by women, sometimes necessitating modifications,” says Amin Jaffer, international director of Asian art at Christie’s, London. For example, male armbands are retooled as women’s chokers.
Above all, practicality takes precedence. A ruby hair ornament, for instance, served ladies of southern India for years, enhancing the sheen of long, plaited hair. Now that styles have changed—for hair as well as for jewellery—Chetan G.R., the owner of jewellery store Arnav in Bangalore, often transforms old pieces into more wearable pendants or necklaces set in gold.
“As a piece of jewellery, a hair ornament was useless. Gold alone is mundane. Once you fuse the two together, there is value,” says Chetan, who charges between $100 and $500 and takes up to four weeks to complete a piece.
Sometimes Chetan directs the redesigns; other times, the customers set the tone. At the insistence of one client, for instance, Chetan says a heavy, gold waist belt—usually worn by a bride on her wedding day—was transformed into a choker, an idea, he says, that struck him as rather garish.

Such conversions account for 40% of Arnav’s business. Chetan, 35, comes from a long line of jewellers who settled near Mysore. “Jewellery has a lot of sentiment and history that I would like to pass on to the next generation,” he says. “I don’t want it to wither away with our changing lifestyles, changing trends and changing preferences.”
What’s less acceptable in some quarters is to trade inherited jewellery for cash. Many Indians believe that jewellery absorbs the spirit of its wearer; and bad vibes—should there be any— could be passed along. At C. Krishniah Chetty and Sons, one of Bangalore’s most venerable jewellers, “we would not encourage distress sales”, says C. Ganesh Narayan, a fifth-generation scion who serves as executive director of the company. The shop’s loyal customers are urged to remodel their inherited pieces rather than sell them.
Not everyone is eager to modify old jewellery. Sniffs one Delhi entrepreneur: “It’s like turning your castle into a series of flats.” Actor Shabana Azmi, who is known to favour antique jewellery, says an old traditional piece is “beautiful because it belongs to that time. To tamper with it is sacrilegious”.
As India’s wedding season shifts into high gear, some jewellers are busy with orders to alter inherited jewellery for those fabled trousseaus. Problems sometimes arise between generations when the jewellery is promised for wear on nuptial day, but isn’t legally bestowed on the bride, says Bharany. “Old people never like to change things,” he explains. In Bharany’s experience, there’s “always a tussle” that the grandmother usually wins, with the pieces remaining untouched “unless the child actually inherited the jewellery”.

World - Iran;Eye-for-eye justice

Robert Tait

A man who blinded a woman in an acid attack after she spurned his marriage proposals has been sentenced to the same punishment, in a literal application of Iran’s sharia eye-for-an-eye laws.

In a highly unusual judgment, Tehran province criminal court ordered Majid Movahedi, 27, to be blinded in both eyes from drops of acid in response to a plea from his victim, Ameneh Bahrami. The punishment is legal under the sharia code of qisas, which allows retribution for violent crimes. The court also ordered Movahedi to pay compensation to the victim. Bahrami was left horrifically disfigured after Movahedi threw a jar of acid in her face as she walked home from work in a busy Tehran neighbourhood in October 2004. She had previously complained to police about being threatened and harassed by Movahedi, who she had known while they were both university students, but had been told no action could be taken.

Since the attack, Bahrami has undergone 17 operations, some by surgeons in Spain, in a vain attempt to reconstruct her face. Her injuries led to the loss of one eye and left her blind in the other.

— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2008

India - Strategic deafness & the massacre in Mumbai

Praveen Swami

Had our political establishment acted on intelligence warnings, at least 127 people who made the mistake of being in Mumbai on November 26 would still have been alive.

Last month, the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s supreme religious and political head, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, made a signal speech to top functionaries: “The only language India understands is that of force, and that is the language it must be talked to in.”

Had India’s strategic establishment listened, at least 127 people who made the mistake of being in Mumbai on November 26 would still have been alive. If more carnage is to be prevented, it is imperative to understand the culture of strategic deafness that facilitated the murderous attacks.

From the testimony of the arrested fidayeen Ajmal Amin Kamal, the Maharashtra police have got their first insight into the role of Lahore and Karachi-based Lashkar commanders in organising the attacks. Both the Maharashtra police and other intelligence services of the nation seem confident that they will succeed in demonstrating that the guns in the hands of Kamal and his terror squad were directed by commanders in Pakistan.

Comparison with U.S.

But even as India debates what the authorship of the attacks will mean to Pakistan-India relations, commentators have been scrambling to contrast India’s responses to terror with that of the United States. While the U.S. has succeeded in blocking successive attempts to execute attacks on its soil since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the argument goes, India’s failure has been dismal.

Politicians have been quick to agree, blaming India’s intelligence services for failing to predict the Mumbai terror attack. In fact, the available evidence suggests that the boot is on the other foot: despite credible intelligence that terrorists were planning attacks in Mumbai and elsewhere, India’s political leadership failed to act.

Back in 2002, Indian intelligence informants began reporting that Lashkar operatives were being trained in marine commando techniques along the Mangla Dam, which straddles the border between Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the province of Punjab. It soon became clear that the Lashkar, which found it increasingly difficult to penetrate India’s Line of Control defences, was hoping to open new routes across the Indian Ocean — routes which would give it easy access to key cities like Mumbai.

In 2006, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil was disturbed enough by what India’s covert services were telling him to make a specific mention of the need to step up counter-terrorism defences. Among the intelligence that Mr. Patil based his speech on was the evolving story of Faisal Haroun, a top Lashkar operative who commanded the terror group’s India-focussed operations out of Bangladesh. In September 2006, Haroun was briefly held by Bangladesh authorities before he was quietly deported. But a west European covert service obtained transcripts of his questioning by Bangladesh’s Directorate-General of Field Intelligence — evidence which shook up even India’s Home Minister.

Haroun, it turned out, had been using a complex shipping network, and merchant ships and small fishing boats, to move explosives to the Lashkar units operating in India. Among the end-users of these supplies was Ghulam Yazdani, a Hyderabad resident who commanded a series of attacks, including the assassination of Gujarat pogrom-complicit former Home Minister Haren Pandya and the June 2005 bombing of the Delhi-Patna Shramjeevi Express. Investigators probing the Haroun story determined that his network had helped to land a giant consignment of explosives and assault rifles on the Maharashtra coast for an abortive 2006 Lashkar-led attempt to bomb Gujarat.

India’s intelligence services determined that Haroun had been attempting to set up an Indian Ocean base for the Lashkar. Along with a Male-based Maldives resident, Ali Assham, Haroun had studied the prospect of using a deserted island for building a Lashkar storehouse, from where weapons and explosives could be moved to Kerala and then to the rest of India. In 2007, when evidence emerged of heightened Islamist activity in Maldives — including the bombing of tourists in Male’s Sultan Park and the setting up of a Sharia-run mini-state on the Island of Himandhoo — the seriousness of the threat to India’s western seaboard became even more evident.

Last year, the Lashkar’s maritime capabilities were underlined once again, when a group of eight fidayeen landed off Mumbai’s coast. On that occasion, a superbly crafted intelligence operation enabled Coast Guard ships to track the landing. Police in Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir, acting on information provided by the Intelligence Bureau, arrested the fidayeen. However, it was clear that the networks Haroun was able to build were up and running.

Based on these warnings, New Delhi moved to step up coastal counter-infiltration measures. In its 2007-2008 Annual Report, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs detailed the measures put in place for “strengthening coastal security arrangements, to check infiltration.” In liaison with the nine coastal States and Union Territories, it said, funds had been earmarked to set up “73 coastal police stations which will be equipped with 204 boats, 153 jeeps and 312 motorcycles for mobility on coast and in close coastal waters. The coastal police stations will also have a marine police with personnel trained in maritime activities.”

Painfully slow

Precise figures are unavailable, but officials in three States told The Hindu that progress in realising the scheme was painfully slow. Both Maharashtra and Gujarat inaugurated over a dozen coastal police stations over the last year, but neither State set up a trained marine police. Fewer than a dozen new boats were made available to the two police forces. Without sophisticated surveillance equipment fitted on board, their use for counter-infiltration work was at best rudimentary. And while the Intelligence Bureau received sanction for hiring small numbers of new personnel to man new costal surveillance stations last year, it got neither boats nor observation equipment.

Despite credible intelligence of an imminent fidayeen assault, emerging from the interrogation of Lashkar operative Fahim Ansari, hotels and businesses failed to enhance their internal security systems. Neither the Trident Hotel nor the Taj Mahal Hotel, for example, had access control systems or a system to deal with a terrorist attack or bombing. For weeks before the attacks, police sources told The Hindu, Maharashtra police officials met with top corporate security heads, attempting to convince them of the need to invest in defending their facilities. Nothing was done.

Less than a week before the attacks, additional security stationed in south Mumbai was withdrawn. Maharashtra — which at just 147 policemen for every 1,00,000 population or, expressed another way, 49.9 to guard every 100 square kilometres, falls well short of global norms — simply did not have the resources to keep men tied up to guard every potential target.

Even if police personnel had been stationed near the terrorist targets, it is improbable that they could have intervened effectively. Mumbai, unlike any western city of scale, had no specially-trained emergency response team or a crisis-management centre with an established drill to deal with a catastrophic terrorist assault. In this, it was not exceptional: no Indian city has any crisis management protocol in place. “People contrast the United States’ post-9/11 successes with our failures,” notes a Maharashtra police officer, “but they should also be contrasting the billions spent by that country with the peanuts we have invested in our own security.”

“The whole system is premised on the assumption that our Intelligence Services will get a hundred per cent heads-up on the precise timing of a terrorist attack,” one intelligence official says, “but nowhere in the world does this happen. Intelligence is only an aid to on-ground policing, not a substitute”.

India’s strategic responses were no better. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his foreign policy advisers failed to read the sign that the jihadist groups in Pakistan were sharpening their swords.

In Saeed’s October 19 speech, delivered before an audience of key Lashkar leaders including Maulana Amir Hamza, Qari Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh and Muhammad Yahya Mujahid at the organisation’s headquarters in Lahore, he made it clear that he saw India as an existential threat. India, he claimed, was building dams in Jammu and Kashmir to choke Pakistan’s water supplies and cripple its agriculture.

‘Ongoing war’

Earlier, in an October 6 speech, Saeed claimed that India had “made a deal with the United States to send 1,50,000 Indian troops to Afghanistan,” and that it agreed to support the U.S. in an existential war against Islam. Finally, in a sermon to a congregation at the Jamia Masjid al-Qudsia in Lahore at the end of October, Saeed proclaimed that there was an “ongoing war in the world between Islam and its enemies.” He claimed “that crusaders of the east and west have united in a cohesive onslaught against Muslims.”

India has learnt that not all terrorism stems from Pakistan: the country has faced attacks from Indian Islamists, Hindutva groups, and ethnic-chauvinist organisations in the northeast. Each form of hate has fed and legitimised the other. But this circle of hate has been driven by organisations based in Pakistan too — jihadist groups which have demonstrated that while they are friends of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, they are enemies of the people of Pakistan. In his recent address to the nation, Prime Minister Singh warned that he intends to “raise the costs” for those waging war against India. He could start by demanding that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari act against such groups — and then consider what can be done, if need be, to compel him to do so.

World - Pakistan & IMF

Despite the bad news that usually comes with an International Monetary Fund loan in the form of attached strings, Pakistan had no choice but to go to the lender of last resort. Its economic crisis is of a different order from the meltdown being experienced in the rest of the world. It began much earlier — triggered by high global energy prices, terrorist strikes, and political instability. The resultant flight of capital led to a dangerous reduction in foreign exchange reserves, and Pakistan risked defaulting on its debts. The low credibility of the rulers combined with the global financial crisis put paid to the country’s hopes of easier bailouts from friends such as Saudi Arabia and China. Going to the IMF was the only course available. In return for the $7.6 billion loan that the Fund approved earlier this week, Pakistan is required to reduce its budget deficit through a number of measures: implement taxation reforms that will include bringing agriculture into the tax net; slash subsidies on fuel and electricity; and cut government spending. As the withdrawal of the fuel subsidy has already shown, these measures will be unpopular. The government is also required to stop using public funds indiscriminately, for instance, to keep the stock exchange propped up. It is expected that by curbing wasteful expenditure, Pakistan will be able to put in place some social safety nets to offset the impact of the reforms on the poor.

The immediate crisis is over. Yet, going by the history of IMF interventions, it is questionable whether the latest one will lead to long-term economic stability in a country whose all-round health is crucial to regional and international stability. Pakistan has had several tie-ups with the IMF. It is well-documented that successive governments approached the lending organisation only for the short-term objective of tiding over a cash crunch, making marginal changes to the economy to keep the lender satisfied. Usually these hit the poor. At the same time, they avoided putting in place conditions that would hurt the entrenched military-feudal-business aristocracy. The net outcome: an unviable economic situation each time recession, or unemployment or inflation sets in, leading to an abrupt end to the arrangement with the IMF. Except for one stand-by agreement in the early years of the Musharraf regime, Islamabad has never completed an IMF programme. Ultimately, Pakistan’s economic salvation lies in radical measures such as land redistribution and the expansion of its small manufacturing base. The country’s rulers know this but have failed to show the will or the inclination to bring in such reforms.

India - Remembering V.P.Singh

Vishwanath Pratap Singh was Prime Minister for less than a year, to be precise from December 2, 1989 to November 10, 1990. However, the two politically volatile actions he took within this short period — the decision to implement the Mandal Commission recommendations providing for reservation for backward classes, and decisive action against the communally disruptive rath yatra of Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani — became watersheds in the history of independent India. Riding to power on an anti-corruption platform against the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress regime, which lost all legitimacy because of the Bofors scandal, V.P. Singh was at the head of a strange political experiment supported from the outside by the BJP as well as the Left parties. For a while, this Prime Minister theorised about politics being essentially about “managing contradictions.” But to his credit, instead of indulging in endless political compromises like Prime Ministers who came after him, he acted boldly and decisively against the communal politics of the BJP and had Mr. Advani arrested midway through his yatra. In his post-prime ministerial career, Mr. Singh worked tirelessly against the toxic communal politics of the BJP. He worked with the Left and mobilised issue-based support for his former party, the Congress. Mr. Singh was thus seen as a champion of both secularism and social justice, two defining principles of Indian politics.

Born on June 25, 1931, in a family rooted in the landed aristocracy, Mr. Singh climbed up the leadership rungs of the Congress and became Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1980. He won countrywide attention by resigning two years later, accepting responsibility for his government’s failure to control dacoity in the Chambal valley. From then on, Mr. Singh cultivated for himself the image of a conscientious politician who was clean and ever ready to renounce power for a worthy cause. In deciding to implement the Mandal report, which was gathering dust for close to a decade, in the face of opposition from the BJP, Mr. Singh virtually wrote the death warrant for his government. In 1996, he came under pressure to take up the job of Prime Minister at the head of the United Front, an unstable post-election arrangement — and wisely ruled himself out of contention. He now revelled in the role of Citizen Singh. By that time, his health was failing and, in the last stage of his life, he bravely faced the challenges of multiple myeloma and renal failure. He continued to speak out, and on rare occasions act, on issues that mattered. India is poorer for the passing of an unorthodox political leader who gave primacy to democratic principles and progressive social values.

India - Ratan Tata visits Taj

Mumbai: Tata Group Chief Ratan Tata on Saturday visited the Taj Hotel shortly after three terrorists were gunned down by the National Security Guards in the fresh gunbattle early on Saturday morning to take stock of the land-mark building.
He was accompanied by senior officials of the Taj Hotel, including Krishna Kumar, and surveyed the complex that include a heritage block that was devastated by fires at many places set off during the gunbattle between ultras and the security guards.
The 529-room Taj Hotel was the centre of deadly 60-hour long militant attack on the financial capital of India.
After fire erupted from some portions of ground, first and second floors, at least three fire tenders were pushed in to douse the flames.
Many prominent business personalities and corporate executives, including Yes Bank Chairman Ashok Kapur, Sunil Parekh and developer Pankaj Shah, were killed during the terrorist attack at many points at Taj and another luxury hotel Oberoi (Trident).
When contacted, Taj spokesperson said “some representatives of hotel have been allowed to go in but Mr Tata is still outside”.
“We must stand together, shoulder to shoulder as citizens of India, and rebuild what has been destroyed. We must show that we cannot be disabled or destroyed, but that such heinous act will only make us stronger,” he had said after the terrorists hit Mumbai.

India - Guest at Taj Mahal Hotel speaks about his experience

Meera Srinivasan

A. Vaidyanathan , eminent economist and a member of the Central Board of Directors of the Reserve Bank of India, was in his room in the heritage wing of Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace and Towers when the terrorists struck on the night of Wednesday, November 26. After his return to Chennai, he spoke to The Hindu on his experience. Here is his first-person account, given to Meera Srinivasan in Chennai on Friday:

I was there for a meeting on the 26th. The meeting was in the afternoon. They usually put me up at the Taj, so I went there. Some of my friends, whom I normally spend time with, were not in town. So I decided to stay back in the room. I ate in the room and was just watching cricket.

Then at 9.30 p.m., things began popping. My room was in the second floor of the Palace, very close to the stairwell of the central dome. That’s where the thing apparently started. It went padapadapda...single shots and then bursts of fire. I was wondering why they were bursting crackers. There was no particular celebration at that time, there was no festival. And certainly inside the Taj wasn’t the place.

It went on for almost an hour-and-a-half. Around 10.00, I said, ‘Look! Let me check.’ So I called the desk and the duty manager, but nobody picked up the phone. I said [to myself] there was something wrong and later it turned out that they had been really shot. Then I switched on the television and saw that it was close home, downstairs.

You asked me whether I ever thought of walking out. I knew that if this was going on, there was no sense in walking out. That’s why I switched on the television to see if maybe there was anything you’d know. And sure enough, it was happening right there. So I could understand. If something like this had happened, they would not be able to respond. That’s a simple inference.

Anyhow, there was no other news but this firing went on, in bursts, sometimes very close, sometimes a little bit far away. Then around 10.30 or 11 p.m., I got a call from the hotel saying: ‘Look, lock yourself in and don’t go out until we tell you.’ In fact, I took a little while to act on that but I did eventually. Then I put out the lights and went to bed. No other call. I didn’t want to call my wife because she might get worried.

Then around 11.00 p.m., there was one huge explosion. In fact, the building shook. I have a feeling that was the one which blew off the roof-top restaurant. Around 2.00 a.m. there was another big one and then the third one around 3 a.m.

But you see, in between there were bursts of fire. What I heard very close in that corridor of mine – it must’ve been very, very close – was bursts of firing, doors being broken open, people shuffling the debris, including broken glass. It went on. You try and keep calm. When the thing goes... you feel a bit pulled. This went on. Luckily I didn’t panic. I took a – I don’t know what you would call it – philosophical [view]. I am not given to prayers or anything like that. So I said, ’Look, if the chap is going to come to you next, what the hell do you do? Just sit. You think of little things like what defence (laughs)… and so on. But I didn’t panic, I didn’t particularly think of death.

But then, it went on. I had put out the lights and I didn’t even bother to open the curtains or anything like that. I was very cautious not to do anything that might attract attention. Sometimes, I said: ’Look, what the hell? How do I get out of this? Let’s see...let’s wait. Around 2 or 3 [a.m.], I began seeing lights outside. You see, my room was on the road – looking over the sea and the Gateway of India. I saw lots of movement. What I heard fairly early on was faint shouts from below: ‘Don’t panic.’ ‘We are coming to help.’ This was the fire brigade, it turned out subsequently.

At 11 p.m., I [had] looked out, through the translucent curtain, and there was nobody on the road. It was also surprising that I didn’t hear any screams or shouts or panic in the hotel. It’s certainly true that our doors were locked, but you know if there was such fright … none of that. That was the other somewhat eerie thing.

Then at 3.00 a.m., I took some courage and went to the curtain, removed it a bit and saw lots of these fire service cranes and ladders operating. By that time, they had apparently done quite a bit of rescuing. How do I know! (I didn’t know that there was any kind of security.)

Cordite smoke

But my room meanwhile had a lot of cordite smoke. You could smell it. I had switched off the air conditioner because I don’t like it to be too cold. You were breathing that…it’s not difficult, but it’s irritating when you are in a smoky place.

All this was fine. But I was wondering how people were actually facing this. Subsequently there was a chap who told me about the events at Leopold Cafe. What I did was to push aside the curtains and people were all moving around in the cranes. There was a fire service man who was putting powerful lamps and beaming them at the windows. He located me and said: ’Hold on, we’ll come.’

The question was: what do I do, how do I go? The ladder was placed. The fireman came, broke the window, and asked me: ’Are you alone? Do you have much luggage?’ I said, ’Give me a couple of minutes to dress.’ I put on my trousers and shirt. Put on the shoes without the socks, put the clothes in the carry-on bag. I asked the fireman, ’Do you think I can?’ He said, ’Don’t worry. Take the bag,’ and asked me to come. They helped me get on to the ladder. It was not a platform; you had to get on to it. So I got down. It was around 5.30 a.m.

You know one thing which happened? The bullets were obviously very close, but one of the things that happened was when I was leaving, I found that the entire room was flooded with water.

‘Take cover’

And immediately [after I got down] they said: ‘Don’t stay here. Take cover behind the parked fire engines and then keep going.’ Along the side of the Gateway of India, there is a ledge with a sitting place. Everybody was asked to go and sit there – a large number of people.

Next to me was a chap who had a television camera, who apparently was in Leopold Cafe. He described to me the scene. He said this was a backpacking tourist kind of a place; young people go there and have fun. He said they were all eating and suddenly, two fellows broke in, just sauntered in practically, with the guns and systematically, with bursts of fire, shot at random. Sheer carnage, he said, at least 20 people were killed and lots of people injured. This chap even showed me a small brass bullet, which had not detonated or whatever!

What about security?

The other thing I noticed this time - you see, I go there every other month. The last time I went, last month, there was very tight security. You could not get into the [Taj] Palace. There is an entrance there which is closed. At the entrance to the tower, they had two-level security. First, when you enter the open parking, where the cars are parked, you had a very heavy metal frame, your baggage was searched, and then you went. At the entrance of the foyer, there was another metal detector and you were personally searched and so on. This time I noticed it had gone. We could go straight to the Palace.

So that’s how it happened when we got down. In all of this, what you feel is – as I said, I was not panicky, I was fairly calm – the sense that you can’t do very much about it by being excited or angry. You are not going to help anything. This, I suppose, is one of those personal qualities that people have. Some people have it, some people don’t.

I got down, but still it was obviously a tense kind of experience. I got down and went to the place [the ledge with the sitting place along the side of the Gateway of India]. Then you found you were sort of exhausted – physically and emotionally – and you feel a bit wobbly. So I sat there and after a while the Taj people came and said that they would take care of me. I also contacted my colleagues in the Reserve Bank and they said that they would [make suitable arrangements for me]… By the way, my friends in the Reserve Bank called around midnight to find out whether I was all right. In the meantime apparently, they also contacted the security people. They said, ‘Yes, he is in his room.’ So they were a bit reassured, but they were not sure what would happen in the morning.

I was already booked on the 9 a.m. flight. So I was able to go the airport in time, have a wash on the way, and that’s how it ended.

Now when you then see the visuals, you begin to wonder. The reason why there was no noise at all during all of this – of people screaming and shouting. I think most people decided they would lock themselves in. The places where you would have had screams are in the banquet halls, the dining halls, and restaurants. These are on the other floors. You wouldn’t really hear about them on the second floor. That is probably why there was this apparently eerie silence.

But my God! The carnage you see on this [television screen]… one wondered what the sense of all of this was. I don’t think there is any point in trying to make sense out of all of this. It is despicable and it also tells you how just a few very determined people with perverse motivation but still strong motivation and technology, they can create such havoc in such a short time! It also occurred to me that it is not possible to have preventive kind of action. After all, it takes just two people or five. They merge in the crowd, they can do all kinds of things.

Look at the force that you have to deploy to neutralise them without harming the large number of people who are around. I think tightening the law is not going to help. The point is: people should understand that this is something that you can’t really plan against. All you have to do is to look at the root of this – now that is a bigger problem. We don’t have any solution to this. But when people say that it is because of this negligence and that, it is a bit too simplistic. Laws can’t prevent this unless you become a police state. In fact, even police states have terrorism. So it is absurd to think we should sacrifice open societies for this purpose.

Anyhow, that is the kind of adlibbing I can do about what I felt. I can’t really say anything about an eye witness account. Mostly earshot account, if you like. But it tells you how close it was. If I had gone to the restaurant, I don’t know; but no point thinking about such contingent situations. Anyway, nothing happened. The fire brigade was superb. The kind of rescue operation they did. I was also lucky to be on the sea side. If I had been on the other side, I probably would have come back only today, when they cleared the thing up. So it’s all right. Some people will say providence…I would say one of those lotteries in life.

Not in Kolkata

You see, my wife was under the mistaken impression that I was away in Kolkata. She did not see the television at night. So she did not know what was happening. And my daughters were also under the impression I was away in Kolkata. But then, in the morning, the first thing I did when I got down was to call her and say: ’Look, I am in one piece. And this is what happened.’ She was a bit puzzled. I said ’Go see the television. You’ll see what has happened.’

Columnists - Nandan Nilekani;Running out of time

When I attempted to chart the ideas and policies India needs to ensure stable, long-term growth, I was keenly aware that we have always responded best in crisis. Indian economists and policy analysts remarked to me time and again, of our lethargy unless we are faced with economic disaster. Our 1991 reforms were pushed through as the country teetered at bankruptcy, and after we had mortgaged our family jewels – our gold reserves – for emergency loans.

Since the global financial meltdown that began in September this year, there has certainly been a keen sense of urgency to frame better, smarter policy and regulation – an urgency that is visible both globally and in India. I am not happy about the meltdown – the world is almost certainly headed for a rocky, tumultuous period. But this now widespread sense of urgency might be the one silver lining during these turbulent times .

For India, this does not come a moment too soon. Our reluctance to push a reform agenda of expanding access has resulted in large and growing disparities when it comes to the opportunities available in India’s economy. Good education for example, is only accessible to the children whose families can afford private schools, and coaching classes to get into the top institutes. Public-funded education that the rest of India’s children rely on, on the other hand, is a miserable failure, with dropout rates over 90% despite initiatives such as the mid - day meal and the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The result of this are children and teenagers who make their living as street hawkers, construction workers and factory labour. The unfairness of this is overwhelming.

Such disparities in access are all too visible across the country, and have greatly limited class and income mobility across India. While infrastructure in urban India has begun to show tentative progress, farmers lacking roads connecting them from their villages to markets have to rely on corrupt networks of middlemen to sell their crops. Transporting their produce across vast distances without cold chains means that they lose over a third of what they grow due to spoilage. Across rural India, caste relationships still hold sway, limiting the opportunities for backward castes and Dalits to own land and start businesses – to date, India has not seen a single major Dalit entrepreneur. Migrants who leave these harsh livelihoods and come into cities find that finding a home is a distant dream outside the slums that form urban India’s fringes, its messy and chaotic boundaries. Most of the poor in both the slums and in rural India lack reliable electricity and water supply, and the people who can afford it resort to private solutions in the face of such shortages – they buy their own generators, live in gated communities with private security, and use private sources for water.

When our markets seem ineffective in terms of providing widespread access, people turn to other solutions. As a result, India’s markets exist alongside a complicated structure of subsidies, loan waivers, hand-outs, tax exemptions and government sponsored jobs and reservations. And people who have watched the economic boom from the sidelines, see these concessions as their best options, and are hostile towards markets.

In fact, the global financial crisis that has erupted underlines why our issues of access may be our most critical challenge. Across countries, we have seen a populist backlash against markets when they have failed to address crises around access – such as in Europe during the 1920s and 1930s, and more recently in large parts of Latin America. Even the US, a country that supposedly holds the values of the free market close to its heart, is seeing a new rhetoric and anger against big business as income inequalities and unemployment rise across the country. It shows how easily a country’s economic mood can change – since the financial crisis has required over one trillion dollars of US taxpayer money to bail out American banks even as millions of houses across the US are foreclosed, even the staunchest free-market believers are expressing hostility against Wall Street. Governments clearly ignore such challenges of inequality at their peril. Without more reforms to create access, India’s entire progress will totter. For those Indian leaders ambivalent about reforms and who believe that they have only led to creating rich businessmen, now is the time to catch the bull by the horns and promote the reforms that drastically expand access to opportunity in education, jobs, incomes and markets for all.

Columnists - Nandan Nilekani;Aganist fear

I have never felt unsafe in an Indian city, including Mumbai, despite its traumatic past. It may have something to do with our democracy – as citizens, we feel despite such unrest, that we have a semblance of control over the systems that govern and protect us. But as I watched the live feed on Mumbai’s carnage on television, I considered how fragile this sense of control and security can be. And once citizens lose this collective faith that they have some power and that they are secure, the demand for change is resounding.

The consequences of this were immediately clear – political calculations were fast-changing in the glare of the television cameras and in the hours of the standoff. Several states are up for elections, and most of the ads I witnessed as I recently travelled about the country centred on inflation or spiralling costs – one opposition ad was a cartoon that showed the state government playing the flute while the ‘snake of inflation’ rose and danced. I guess that after this week, these ads have lost a bit of their sting. The focus has turned dramatically to security.

What does that mean for us? In the past seventy-two hours, we witnessed an event that has transformed the psyche of a nation. Since the bomb blasts that ripped through our cities and towns three months ago, there have been familiar remarks of how stoic our urban citizens are – echoes of comments Mumbaikars received after the train explosions in July 2006 and the bomb blasts in 1993.

Again, as the day waned and the situation began to stabilise, there were comments on our ability to move past disaster, and how people would simply pick up the pieces and go on with their lives. But this time around, these statements have a hollow feel – we have been struck so many times that one must eventually wonder if what we see in the aftermath is stoicism or helplessness.

Unfortunately though, the actions governments take during times of fear are often not ideal ones. Indian politicians have since the blasts in July, mostly debated bringing back draconian laws resembling the repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. The BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu noted that ‘an extraordinary situation needs an extraordinary law,’ an opinion that the UPA government has come around to holding themselves. This recent attack will likely speed the passage of such a law.

We’ve seen the impact such laws can have in the US and Britain, following the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq war. Massive powers of detention and interrogation that such laws allow cast the net too far and wide – what you end up with is a disproportionate amount of false positives and captured innocents, which muddies the efforts against terrorism. The record of POTA and TADA in India has been dismal – they have been used to target particular communities, and as tools for revenge. The violations of human rights that result are unacceptable. These laws become all the more dangerous when we consider the terrorists who led the recent bombings. These were not easily identifiable men. They looked like us— like any of the millions of young men in our cities, dressed in jeans and t-shirts, yuppie-like down to their hair-cuts and their glasses. And such laws make democracies less so, and by hurting innocent civilians, serve as powerful recruiting tools for terrorists.

There is no question that we face dangerous times, and our governments are going to react in ways that will demonstrate to the public, concrete action and strict enforcement. Our impulses will be to strike back with force, and with hard, draconian measures. But our weaknesses unfortunately, lie not in the lack of a terrorism law, but within the core of our institutions – our police forces, the effectiveness of our intelligence agencies, the surveillance work we carry out. Since the 1970s, all these once reputable institutions have become deeply politicised, to the point that they have not been allowed to work without interference. Today, the frozen systems of our judiciary ensure that nearly half a million people are languishing in our jails without trials. Our cities are weak and ineffectual, unable to deal with any crisis. Unfortunately, given our talent for workarounds, these are issues that governments will shy away from. But without facing these challenges boldly, the prevention of terror attacks will be elusive, and we will continue to be vulnerable.

Calm – that emotion that seems so distant and unnecessary in such moments of crisis, will be critical to get us through this difficult time. The danger of thoughtless retaliation comes not just from our governments, but also from our citizens. Our country has large numbers of minority religious communities, and there will be enough demagogues eager to whip up anger against convenient targets. We can choose at this critical moment to let divides like religion dominate and frighten us, sidelining our real concerns, or we can adopt the reforms and policy ideas we need to win the battle against militants. Terrorism is fundamentally about igniting terror – about overwhelming us with fear. We have to resist this fear rather than be subjugated by it