Thursday, October 6, 2016

Twenty Fourth Convocation of Pondicherry University, October 4th 2016

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Dr Kiran Bedi Delivering the Convocation Address, 4th Oct 2016
 Pondicherry University celebrated in a grand manner the 24th Convocation on 4th October 2016. Dr Kiran Bedi, the Lt Governor of Pondicherry and the Chief Rector of the University, was invited to deliver the Convocation Address. The Vice Chancellor Dr Anisa Basheer Khan, had made all the arrangements for this spectacular event. Since there had been no commencement ceremony in the UNiversity for the past three years, there was ahuge back log of degrees to be awarded and the University had create a special space for the Convocation to be held. The R G Cricket Stadium was converted into the Convocation Hall by erecting a pandal. Fortunately the rain gods were kind and there was no rain.
The venue of the Convocation caption

The pandal had a seating capacity for over three thousand guests and the Hall was packed with parents, students and faculty. On the whole it was a great success. I was rather apprehensive about the whole affair as the event took the whole day. Dr Kiran Bedi was at the venue right on time and she was her charming best. She spoke to the graduates who received their degree certificates from her and smiled for the photograph. This gesture on the part of the Lt Governor was noted and appreciated by the people.

 The Vice Chancellor, Professor Anisa Khan, who took charge of the University at a very critical time steered the UNivesity through a very challenging time and she brought the Academic Calendar back on track. She gave the Report Card of the University and informed us that the University had risen to the eleventh position in the all India ranking established by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Dr Kiran Bedi was at her eloquent best. She stressed the need to create a Clean Pondicherry and used the occasion to drive home the point that the student community and the UNiversity must strike to make Pondicherry or Puducherry as she insisted on calling it, OD free fromOctober 2nd 2017. She extracted the pledge from the assembled graduating
DR Raju, Dr Reddy and Dr Shetty dressed in the Academic Robes
DR Anisha Khan, the VC delivering the welcome Address

Thursday, September 29, 2016


A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The attack on the Indian Army Base at URI in Kashmir on the night of 25th- 26 September 2016 was a blatant violation of the international border and an aggressive act of provocation. India was shocked and this came at the heels of the attack on Pathankot Army Base and a marked escalation in terrorist related violence in Kashmir. The fact is that Kashmir is careening out of control and with the killing of Byrhan Wani the youth in the valley seem to be completely alienated. It will be quite a challenge to bring the youth, if not to the mainstrean, at least to lower the hostility they bear toward India. Professor Rattan Lal Hangloo who gave a Lecture in Pondicherry University stated clearly that the Government of India had ignored infrastructure and its development in Kashmir since Independence and that was one of the main reasons contributing to the problem. Further he stated that as the Cold War receded, the Pakistani establishment started directing the demobilized jehadis towards Kashmir and the growing Islamic terrorism in Pakistan created a climate conducive for militancy. He seemed to agree with Narendra Modi's call for the liberation of Baluchistan and India taking a lead in raising the "atrocities" perpetrated by the Pakistani Army before the court of global opinion.

The attack was meticulously planned. Satellite imagery of the entire area was obtained and the topography studied with the help of local guides. The soldiers from the Special Operations Unit were made aware of the lay of the land and the launch pads for terrorist activity across the lice of control were identified: Bhimber, Hotspring, Kel and Kepa sectors were the main targets. Around 12:30 the paratroopers were ari dropped over the area and they launched attacks with laser guided missiles on the terrorist training camps. Seven camps were totally destroyed and it is believed that 38 terrorists were killed. The entire operation was over in a couple of hours and the unit returned to base.

What will the the fallout. The strikes were aimed at the domestic audience which was baying for blood and Narendra Modi has shown himself before the people of India that he is decisive aan will not be taken in by nuclear blackmail. He shored up domestic support and obviously like Obama's raid on Bin Laden which gave him the second term, this strike will have an impact on the upcoming elections. All the major powers of the world, including China did not utter a word against the strike as they are all aware of the fact thta Pakistan has become notorious for the export of violence. This mid night attack signals a decisive change in the Rules of Engagement.

India has said quite clearly that it is willing to discard the frail framework of SAARC and deal with its neighbors on bilateral terms.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Kiran Bedi launches the Swachch Pakwada in Pondicherry University

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Kiran Bedi, VC and Chief Secretary
The Lt Governor returned to Pondicherry University on the afternoon of September 26thwith the Chief Secretary of the state in tow. This time the agenda was to work out the modalities of the Swachch Pakwada and the strategies through which the student community can be linked to the overall Government achene to create awareness about ODF. After reviewing the minutes of the earlier meeting the Lt Governor Dr Kiran Bedi quickly got down to business. She is delivering the Convocation Address in Pondicherry University on October 4th and has decided to use the occasion to speak of the hazards of OD in Pondicherry. In Kalapet, there is a slum near the beach called Thidir Nagar and here the residents use the beach as one large open air toilet.Changing the habits of people is not easy and it would require all the skills of an energetic Lt Governor and a whole army of students to change the entrenched mind set.

The Lt Governor has created an large number of BGOs and her association with India Against Corruption which had our revered Baba Ramdev as its leading light in recent history. She insisted on the creation of a Whatts App group with the Dean School of Communication as the Administrator. We had given the telephone numbers of all the participants and we hope that a reasonable number will join the group. The students of Pondicherry University will be provided transport by the Government and taken to the place where they will work.

The idea is good and I hope that it succeeds.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Kiran Bedi and her Mission to make Pondicherry Clean

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Dr Kiran Bedi the Lt Gov of Pondicherry, Dr Anisa Basheer Khan, VC Pondicherry University

Dr Kiran Bedi, the Lt. Governor of Pondicherry came to Pondicherry University with her officers in tow: the Director of Higher Education, Dr Reddy and the Director of Local Administration, Mr Mansur. Both were well prepared and spoke of the need to get involved in the Swachch Bharat Campaign. Kiran Bedi was, as usual, full of energy.  She spoke of her mission to make Pondicherry free from ODF by the next calendar year and she is devoting all her energies visiting places, meeting people and exhorting them to build toilets for themselves and their families. Our great Prime Minister, Shri Narendar Modi spoke of this in his first Independence Day Address from the ramparts of the Red Fort. The previous Lt Governor was totally oblivious to this important charge and we are happy that cleanliness is receiving due attention.

Dr Kiran Bedi spoke about her desire to make this the theme of the Convocation Address which she will deliver on October 4th 2016. She requested the Faculty and Students to get involved and the result was overwhelming. She acknowledged the contribution of each member without the patronizing gestures we had come to associate with Congress appointees. She said that liquor shops will be required to have toilet facilities and directed her officers to act on the suggestion immediately. It was great to see a proactive administrator.

The assembled Faculty and Staff all pledged their support to make Pondicherry clean. The strategy to translate this vision into a reality would perhaps involve the use of students to provide the outreach to the Administration. The Vice Chancellor promised to amend the rules and make it possible for students to get credit for their participation in the Campaign.

I hope that this mission succeeds.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The Auditorium was packed and I have not seen such a crowd of students eagerly waiting for a guest like the one that awaited the Lt Governor of Pondicherry, Dr Kiran Bedi.  The moment she waled into the Auditorium one could feel the energy she exuded and it would be no exaggeration to say the she is blessed with a charisma which is natural not cultivated. And she connects very well with the younger generation, a talent that the late A P J Abdul Kalam possessed in ample measure. Maybe there is a future President in Dr Kiran Bedi and we must thank Narendar Modi for having appointed her here. The popularity of Kiran Bedi in Pondicherry is eclipsing the politicians and the Congressmen are livid. She has a very genuine and seemingly natural manner of communicating very very complex ideas and I was really impressed by her message and the effective manner in which she delivered it,

The Vice Chancellor of the UNiversity Professor Anisa Basheer Khan had invited her to declare open the building housing the Electron Microscope which the University purchased during the tenure of Professor J A K Tareen and the costly equipment was lying in crates for more than 5 years. The officiating VC was prompt in securing funds for the building and Dr Kiran Bedi was invited to open it. She took the opportunity to address the students and her message was simple and straight forward. She said that the students was "visualize" their future and must be dedicated to that goal. This she said was the mantra of her life. A few lessons from her own life were recalled to drive home the fact that religious identities are not important and she herself came from a mixed Sikh Hindu background and was educated in a Catholic school. In many ways Dr Kiran represents the inherent diversity of India.

The speech given by Dr Kiran Bedi was rich in detail about her life both as the first woman police officer, as a tennis player and as a public figure. Indeed, when I was a student in the University of Delhi way back in the 1970s, she had earned a place for herself in Delhi folklore by the courage with which she faced the political class. There is a famous incident in whcih she and her sub Inspector Naresh Yadava towed away the car of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. In those pre Mandal days India was more civilized and the young Superintendent of Chanakya Puri did not come to grief. Her life was full of challenges and she faced them with fortitude. She has had her moments of frustration as the days following the Lathi charge on the layers at Tis Hazari Court. There is no doubt in my mind that she is a brave woman with a deeply ingrained sense of public service.

The picture I have place on the left shows the eager crowd waiting for her. The only time I have seen such a huge crowd was when Dr A P J Abdul Kalam visited the Campus several years ago and on the day when the team from MHRD arrived early in August 2015 to study the situation on Campus in the waning days of Chandra Krishnamurthi's regime. Kiran Bedi connected with the students and her message resonated when she said that they must remain focused on their goals. She said that when she was preparing for the UPSC examinations she used to study/work atleast 17 hours a day. And she made a forceful plea for gender equality.

Later she met the senior faculty in a separate meetiong in the EC Hall of the UNiversity. She took questions from several of the Deans and Heads assembled there.

The day was also celebrated as Sanskrit Day and the well know scholar Dr Kutumbha Shastri, the former Vice Chancellor of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan gave an address in which he high lighted the contemporary relevance of Sanskrit. He rightly drew the attention of themfact that there is great deal of scientific literature available in the language. The presence of Dr Kiran Bedi added luster to the gathering. I hope that she continues in public service for years to come. Undoubtedly, Kiran Bedi is an inspiration for the youth.

Friday, July 8, 2016

From Orlando to Dallas and Back: Race, Religion and Violence in America Today

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Anyone reading the Newspaper today will come to the conclusion that an apocalyptic race war is unfolding in USA. Of course, this is an exaggeration. However, the events at they are unfolding before our eyes thanks largely to cell phone footage and  all day TV coverage is bringing home, as never before, the fact that the election of Barack Hussein Obama has made the situation far far worse for the African American (I do not like the term black). And Obama standing on the steps of Air Force one at Warsaw Airport, made things worse with a grin that cynically conveyed to the world that he has successfully created a chasm in American society that will last generations. White America could seriously consider itself cleansed of the original sin of Atlantic Slavery by electing an African American as President. The fact is that on both the shooting at Orlando and at Dallas, the President felt that the issue was Gun Control and tried to score political points at the expense of Mr Donald Trump. That has now horribly backfired.

The shootings at Saint Paul, Minnesota and Falcon Heights are eerily similar. Anton Sterling was shown struggling with a white Police Officer who pulled out a gun from his right and shot the man thrice. In the case of Philando Castile the live video streaming of his encounter with the police officer who shot the young man was both graphic and disturbing. In Orlando, a Moslem immigrant from Afghanistan shot 49 people in a Night Club and the motive as determined by the AFT and the FBI is domestic radicalization. Mr Miach Xavier Johnson who is allegedly the sniper who killed 5 police officer in Dallas was a decorated veteran of the US Army and had served in Afghanistan. One conclusion is obvious: America's senseless  wars both in Iraq and Afghanistan  are  now causing hurt in USA, just as I predicted in a blog I wrote on the Iraq engagement way back in 2005.

Gun Control is a dog whistle for Liberal posturing and does not address the real issues at all. The fact is that African Americans males are incarcerated at a rate hugely disproportionate to their population should be a cause of concern to liberal American scholars whose edgy conscience is hyper active when it comes to India and its myriad social and political issues should reflect and introspect on what is taking place in their own backyard. Kancha Illiah and his breed of pro white Social Scientists even advocated an American model of social engagement for the so called Dalit problems in India. Fortunately this did not happen and India is working out its own solutions. The African American male is seen as a "criminal" and the whites are on the defensive from the world go. The accent, the dress, the social habits and attitudes are all anathema to the dominant whites and the Latino population is imbibing the dominant attitudes. Given the racial democracy that exists in USA, the Democratic Party has perfected the art of crafting a salad bowl of racial and ethnic interest which invariably tip the scales in its favor. Mr Trump has condemned the violence his statement in measured and civil tone addresses the issue in a more honest manner.

The Police Force across USA behaves like an army of occupation and its training is akin to the Military. The tactics used are all military tactics and are actually unsuited for democratic policing. There has been an utter failure on the part of the Department of Justice to prosecute even a single police officer for the use of deadly force and this failure undermines the confidence in the Police. And in Dallas the Police even used an IED to kill the sniper and this itself shows how deep rooted militarization of the police force has become.

USA must retrain its police to act with restraint and behave in a responsible democratic manner. Policing a citizenry is far different from policing a hostile, enemy territory. It will be interesting to compare figures of the use of deadly force by the police during the two decades prior to the Iraq War and the years after. It is my contention that the Police has become too militarized in its training and that has to change and its weaponry needs to be drawn down.

Monday, July 4, 2016


A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

On June 24th 2016, a young, educated girl hailing from a middle class brahmin family was brutally murdered in front of a large crowd on the platform of Nughambakkam Railway station. Shockingly not a single one of the onlookers stirred to help her even as a young man took out a billhook (aruval) from the back back that he was carrying and struck three times at her face neck and upper part of her body. The brutality of the crime was in fact a rerun of a typical ISIS operation:brutal, cruel, quick and in full public display. While the killing of Nirbhaya in December 2012 was an event that brought together a large proportion of civil  society and political parties to bring about change in the legal system, this barbaric attack was largely ignored. Does the fact that the victim of this brutal crime happens to be a brahmin girl  and the accused a dalit have anything to do with the cynical indifference with which this crime has been viewed. I have always said that the position of the brahmins in Tamil society today happens to be akin to that of the Jews in Germany during the Nazi era.

The Dravidian Movement, especially the anti brahmin Self Respect Movement made brahmin bashing, brahmin percecution, brhamin marginalization and exclusion an inherent part of South Indian public life. Like the Jews in Germany, brahmins were excluded from university positions and public office and like the victim of this monstrous attack, they had to take up employment in the soft ware industry or immigrate to USA in order to escape the vicious and untrammeled assaults on person and dignity. The public media both the Press and the Electronic media is conditioned to highlight dalit atrocities and ignore similar attacks on brahmins. Indeed, the condition of both the dalits and brahmins are more or less identical in post colonial Tamil Nadu ad scholars like the late M S S Pandian and others have sought to give legitimacy to upper caste domination by invoking the discredited theories of Cauldwell and others.

The attacker, Thiru P Ramkumar is a resident of Ambedkar Nagear in Meenakshipuram near Tirunelveli in the deep South. He had apparently been stalking the victim since May 2016 and the Tamil movies generally portray stalking as an innocent trivial assertion of male interest. The gross infringement of the rights of the girl/woman is not taken into consideration and the Police generally ignore complaints of such behaviour. Since the attacker happens to be a dalit, public discourse has suddenly gone silent and it is likely that in the days and months the crime will get politicized in the manner in which the murder of Rajiv Gandhi. And dalit poltical parties like the CVK and the PT and also sections of the dravidian parties will also start a chorus in favor of the killer. Who can forget the fact that the killer of the Madurai corporator,a dalit woman was pardoned by Karunanidhi when he was in power. Crime in Tamil Nadu walks hand in hand with political parties.

The world has to awaken to the plight of the barhmins in Tamil Nadu,. Their human rights anre being violated on a daily basis and while attacks on dalits are highlighted by the Media, politcal correctness prevents it from highlighting crimes against brahm,ins.