December 10, 2008

United Holdings of America Capital Partners???

Came across this interesting copy on the auto bailouts. At the pace at which things are going the US should change its name from 'United States of America' to 'United Holdings of America Capital Partners LLC' or something of that sort

Whats in a name ...

... A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. Maybe not. (Scroll to the bottom of the page)

December 6, 2008

... and politicians across the Board put their foot in their mouth

One of the positives in the gloom of last week is the mass public outrage at anyone of political ilk. I was at a public rally on Wednesday to show solidarity and for the first time in my life I saw Indian civilians with blood in their eyes. More than 100,000 people thronged the streets of South Mumbai shouting slogans against Pakistan and vilifying politicians.

It has not just been inaction of the government machinery that has stoked public anger but the foot-in-mouth statements made by politicians in the wake of the terror attacks, which spanned from inept to rude and from insensitive to shocking. Some creative minds have channelized this energy into some interesting posters which have been photographed by an anonymous person and which found their way to my inbox.

The Communists fell first. Comrade Achutanandan, the Kerala Chief Minister, was asked by slain soldier Maj. Unnikrishnan’s father to vacate his premises. Clearly not used to such snubs, our Comrade challenged a dog to visit the martyrs house had it not been for his sacrifice. To which our friends at the rally had this to say –
For my non-Hindi speaking / reading / understanding friends reading this blog, the breaking up of some of the syllables in the Comrades name, especially the part in between the two ‘a’s refers to a certain part of the female anatomy. Comrade still refused to apologise despite being criticised from all quarters. Finally Prakash Karat, the CPI supremo did the apologising.
Others (below) indicated that they prefer the canine.
Next caught with his pants down was Maharashtra Chief Minister, the Hon. Vilasrao Deshmukh, who invited Ram Gopal Verma (RGV), a Bollywood film-maker and his actor son, Ritiesh Deshmukh in his official entourage to survey the damage done to the Taj. RGV has in the past made movies like RGV ki Aag which you can review here. (Note - RGV ki Aag flopped at the Box Office). The move surprised even Bollywood. That resulted in this response –

And then from a respectable name, the meaning of which is analogous to ‘landlord’ his name was adapted, with a few nifty changes, and captured in the font of RGV’s previous movie posters, a name that means ‘a national fool!’

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the BJP Vice-President, had probably never interacted with the urban, educated and presentable woman before. When he saw some of them in media coverage deriding politicians he ejaculated (pun intended) ‘Some women wearing powder and lipstick have taken to the streets of Mumbai …” No specific interesting poster on this, but the remark drew the ire of women parliamentarians, some even from his own party.
The poster above summaries most of the blunders made by Indian politicians in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. It includes RR Patil, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra saying that such things happen in big cities. In bizarre logic he justified the statement by indirectly saying that he had saved 4,800 people (They came to kill 5,000 we contained the damage to 200).
And this man was conspicuous by his absence – Raj Thakeray of the MNS did not mind as the NSG, which had North Indian representation, including the slain Gajendra Singh - who lost his life in the operation - protected our nation. But then stooping low as their wont, the MNS put up a poster outside Malad railway station clearly mentioning that three ‘Marathi’ top cops, Karkare, Kamte and Salaskar had gave up their life to protect outsiders and foreigners.
All the gentlemen above are however left far behind by the Hon. Shivraj Patil, who has been in stellar form, wearing his incompetence on his sleeve. In what can only be described as shocking, the Home Minister gaily announced the size and time of arrival of the assault team. Later, in an interview after his visit to Mumbai, Mr Patil told the media that the terrorists had left Cama Hospital and the railway station (both terror targets) before he had reached the site. Dear Shivraj, what were you smoking? Did you expect to have tea with the terrorists? Maybe you wanted meaningful intercourse as you indicated when you took charge of the Home Ministry.

December 4, 2008

Of root causes and a change of perception ...

It was 10 pm on 26th November. I was at my office, working on the business plan of an opportunity we are currently evaluating. For some reason the financials were not stacking up. Frustrated I decided to call it a day. I was to travel early next morning and had to pack. I plugged my earphones and listening to some of my favorite tracks, made my way to Churchgate station.

Minutes earlier, not too far away CST, Leopold Café and the Taj Hotel were attacked. For a good five minutes I was on one of the two roads that connect these locations to the Oberoi-Trident. A few minutes later the Oberoi was under siege. In hindsight, there was a good probability of the terrorists using the road since it has relatively less traffic. It gives me shivers to think that the walk could have been my last. I was of course, oblivious to the developments.

A lot has changed for me when I reached home and took in the full impact of the attacks. I have never been prejudiced towards Pakistan and have always attributed the misgivings between India and Pakistan to a narrow minded leadership way back in 1947-48. When two men who both wanted to become Prime Minister of a young republic resorted to religion to resolve their issues. Events, however strong, in other parts of the country did not change that. OK, Kargil veered me a bit to the other side but I was optimistic that things could be worked out. But last week was the last straw. The scale and impact of the attack has been horrific. The thought that I could have been a target has been unnerving. And the heap of evidence against Pak has been too hard to ignore.

In a thought that surprised me as well, I don’t think war is a bad option. It is a sad day when the educated and the objective crowd start thinking of war. It means that solutions are extremely limited and that the inevitable is necessary. Apart from just plain evidence, this time a long time Pakistan ally, the US has made statements like ‘India has the sovereign right to protect itself’ and ‘Pakistan is an international migraine’. Strong statements if you look at the past US-Pak relations.

It also makes me wonder why does most of world terror have an Islamic face? What makes Islam a favorite exploitation ground for religious extremists? Why is this religion repeatedly and consistently used out of context compared to other religions? I have Muslim friends and they are good and righteous people. If their faith had conflicting ideas with them being good human beings they would not be Muslim; which says that it’s definitely not the religion. Is it the method of delivery? Are there too many middle men subverting the message of the Prophet and mixing it with economic and political themes? Other causes do not seem to fit in – Education? There are poorly educated nations in South America and Africa as well. Resourcefulness? Prominent sponsors of the Middle East are so wealthy it stinks. Economic well-being? Ditto.

Which brings us back to political agendas. Though it seems the most plausible, it will be interesting to know.