In this blog, I intend to write my thoughts on things happening around me, the news I see in the TV, something I read or anything that captures my attention. I will try to avoid the effect of everyday ups and downs of my personal life on the contents of the blog.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Indian Navy destroys Somali pirate ship

A job well done by the Indian Navy frigate INS Tabar in quashing an, no, 2 immediate attempts by the Somalian pirates on the merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden. The Somalian pirates are having a kill. Here is a little attempt to the understand the situation.

No one who could access internet and reach till this blog would need any introduction to the Somalian economy maybe a little bit help on geography. Somalia is located in the Horn of Africa with the Gulf of Aden to the north and the Indian Ocean to the east. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, and Kenya to the southwest. Somalia has the longest coastline on the continent. A weak economy and government and a good strategic access to the Gulf of Aden which is at the mouth of the Red Sea leading to the Suez Canal - the gateway linking the east to the west has given opportunities to petty criminals to take merchant ships by surprise and get away with a quick loot.
The Somalian pirates are not expert long term sea farers or the glamorus characters we would imagine of the medeival european age. They are petty thugs who are natives of the coastland and natural fishermen who don't see any prosepect for fishing anymore. They work for richer war lords.
Not all ships captured are used for claiming ransom money, some of the ships captured from China and Taiwan which are old and of lesser value are used for subsequent missions to venture deeper into the sea and returned to the crew once the bigger fish is caught.
A gunman on a pirate ship typically earns between $10,000 and $30,000 for a year's work - a fortune in Somalia. With an exchange rate of 1425 SOS (Somalian shilling) to 1 USD a small bunch of pirates making somewhere from $2 million to $5 million of ransom money per vessel taken as hostage is a lifetime earning. They are becoming more organized which they were not when it began. The money is typically divided this way: 20 percent for their bosses, 20 percent for future missions (to cover essentials like guns, fuel and cigarettes), 30 percent for the gunmen on the ship and 30 percent for government officials. Yes, I don't doubt the last one. With so much money involved it would not be possible for this nuisance to go on for so long without without the government turning a blind eye, for a fat-fee.
It has gone to an extent where being a pirate in the town of Boosaso is a cool thing to do. They are the sudden super rich who could buy any luxury around. Women there seek the company of such successful pirates. The fresh money has in fact grown a new town called new-Boosaso.

It is good to see that Indian Navy is actively taking care of the situation there and a welcome decision by UN giving official permission to continue the great work to make sure the maritime waters are safe for merchant vessels. India has done something that richer economies didn't try to even when their ships were taken hostage. The international laws needs to be re-done to ensure safety and punishing pirates. Many a times the captured pirates are held for a few days and dumped on the nearest shore later due to lack of proper laws to handle them.

In a world economic crisis it will be worth spending a little gun powder by the 'super powers' to keep such menace under check saving time, resources and ransom money than camping for years in countries and spending money chasing mountain rats with little success.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

US must re-build railways

At the beginning of the 20th century USA had a fairly good railway system which if left to grow would have given a good balance of trasportation options to the nation. Like many other capitalistic strategies the railways was bough and deliberately left to rot to death by the automobile masterminds. (http://www.culturechange.org/issue10/taken-for-a-ride.htm)

The death of railways and rapid growth of auto industry provided good employment opportunities and an excellent highway system. This also led to the dependency of the county on petroleum. Now it is in a state where without petroleum the country will come to a grinding halt and it will be chaos. Except for the big cities which has commuter railways the whole country runs on gas. Almost every person has a car without which it is next to impossible for anyone to go to work, school, go to buy grocery, etc. Even transportation of freight is much dependant on roadways than the rudimentary railway network. It's very late in the game that this nation has woken up from its ignorance on fuel efficiency and environmental pollution. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transportation_in_the_United_States, http://www.lovearth.net/gmdeliberatelydestroyed.htm)

For different reasons the U.S. has not tapped its fuel deposits instead worked extra time on importing oil from other countries. With their great dependance on oil they are forced to go to any lenght to get oil into their country.

It is high time they must think of rebuilding their railway system and providing an alternative to the fuel guzzling automobiles used extensively across. It's apalling to see the most advanced and powerful nation have such a slim railway network.

It's never too late to change for the better...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Olympic torch relay - Is it worth ?

The olympic torch relay is considered to be a prestigious event for all the athletes and participating nations. The once in four year event, the biggest sports event of the planet is indeed a remanant of a great civilization. It is very well maintained and evolves smoothly through the ages. The flame and the Cauldron(the big fire that burns throught the competition) is a very important and popular symbol. I personally watch only the opening and closing ceremonies of Olympics and keep a tab on the medals tally which pretty much is predictable and for this year I predict the chinese to finish first in te medals tally. It is not because they are the host but it is because of how much they took this event serious and worked for it for more than 5 years.

Getting back to the relay. A fire permanently burned on the altar of Hestia in Olympia, Greece. During the Olympic Games, which honored Zeus, additional fires were lit at his temple and that of his wife, Hera. The modern Olympic flame is ignited at the site where the temple of Hera used to stand. The relay was not a original Greek Olympic tradition. Neither were the five rings.

The rings symbolizing the 5 continents and the motto Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for "Swifter, Higher, Stronger" was proposed by Pierre de Coubertin on the creation of the International Olympic Committee in 1894. The rings and flag was officially adopted in 1920 Belgium Olympics. The motto was introduced in the 1924 Paris Olympics.

The olympic flame was re-introduced in 1928 Olympics at Amsterdam. Interestingly, the first olympic flame relay was introduced by Adolf hitler in Berlin Olympics 1936. He used this event as a propaganda medium for his rule.

Even today the torch is lit in Greece using reflective mirrors using the sunl light. This fire is backed-up and carried around the world. Recently different mediums are used like radio waves to transmit, under the sea, etc.

Nowadays, this relay is used by many organizations and activists as a good medium to grab the attention of the world. The images seen on television makes me think if it is worth anymore to take the torch around the globe spending tons of money for the security and media arrangements. After all, this is not the original tradition neither does it paint any good picture of freedom when we see more police men running around it than athletes. Finally, the relay event is a great success to any organization that tries to use it more than for the Olympics itself.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Obama or Hillary ?

It's time again to take a wild guess. Now that the contest in the Republican camp is closed the whole of America and according to the Americans the world is watching history happen. A woman and a black muslim contesting and who will America vote to become their president? This is my blog and let me take a dig at this and yes my dig, it happens or not I too have the right to predict.

Firstly, despite being the most powerful country I doubt the maturity of US to choose a black 'muslim'[in quotes] as their ruler if I could say so to stress the responsibility which is forgotten for a while. Skin still does matter. And women, remember the fairer sex started winning their rights much later in a country of a very a long male dominated history.Now the competition as I see is between racism vs gender bias. Time for a big question to get answered, if Obama wins it means US is still male chavinistic and if Hillary makes it, it would prove that racism still survives in the country.

Unless Hillary does really bad or makes a terrible wrong move she will have an edge at the finish line however rough the course gets. She has got a good bunch of influential people and experienced politicians to lift her. Obama, I don't know much about what he stands for and how good he is but to me he looks and carries himself like a President. I am not gender biased, any day I would vote for Margere Thacher for any highest office. Though Obama seems to have an edge as of now I would like to see the competition till the end. Waiting to see if there is any last minute scam or international relationship targeting his religion that is brought out against him that swings the balance.

When everyone is waiting to see if the President will be one among these two we have Mc Cain silently doing the rounds. He is a war veteran, experienced and maybe in the wrong side at wrong moment with two consecutive Rebublican rule and that too post Bush election, it takes a brave man to don his shoes staring failure stright in its eye.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Behind Benazir's death

It is indeed surprising to learn that Benazir's assasination is still a guess work. It is comparable with JFK's but its decades apart. We, especially the only super power USA, the godfather of the Pakistan government(if we can say so) claims of technological and intelligence supermacy but we are all guessing. Here is my guess of it, a story script which is a freeware I give to anyone who wants to make movie out of it.


The story: Behind Bebazir's death

Political situation:

1. A country under military rule for a prolonged duration which is weakening pretty fast

2. The current ruler is well known to flex the books to his advantage for staying in power.

3. 2 exiled pre-PMs : One moderate and one pro-islamist

Bebazir (Moderate) : A girl born to the prime minister of the country. Charismatic and a crowd puller but not well known as a stateswoman. The administartive skills very much criticised as almost 3 of the times she came to power it was dimissed due to corruption and charges of mis-management. A prime contributor for these is seen to be her husband Asif Ali Darbari.

Nabas Sheriff (pro-Islamic) : Though well respected as a leader he is not as charismatic. A thinking man whose strenght which he knows would be the Islamist crowd and if he comes to power will have to walk a tight rope between the west and Islam.

The third - Kamran Khan : A well educated super star of international cricket, former captain who brought the world cup to the country. The achievements gives him an identi not enough for the political mathes.

4. Desperation of the country's military ruler to please the west for survival

5. Mounting western pressure to re-instate democracy

6. A growing problem of extremism in the western border and a booming economy in 2 of the neighbouring countries

The plot

If a fair-election happens soon in the country, it will be just a choice between Nabas and Bebazir for the lack of a strong contender. Bebazir being popular and crowd puller has an edge. If she wins, her government will again come under scanner for corruption and her husband seen as a parasitic pain.

Why stay a parasite, can the parasite take over it's host's position? If planned well, why not?

The parasite strikes, well camouflaged. The blame will go either to the notorious military ruler who would hate to let go his power and Bebazir is seen clearly as his threat. As an instinct, the military ruler will point to terrorism to defend himself. For different reasons the husband can opt not to do an autopsy on his wife's body and cover it up. If there are explosives and crowd people digest it easily with terrorism as the reason. Once convinced, the general sentiment if capitalized immediately will be towards the bereaved family and people in the sub-continent generously bring the family to power with any one at its top preferably a close family member of the victim.

So, Asif makes himself the care taker of the party, by-passing other better eligible people like Bebazir's niece who is a writer and political critic. He puts up his immature student son as the official leader and him his guide and get on to the Prime Minister seat, he no longer has to be a husband frowned upon by others and can directly call the shots. He will test the water for the first few years with the plan that if it works he will continue else stach his pocket for a life time and quit. During the first few years things goes his way. He makes new friends. He tastes power and not surprisingly is addicted.

A car crash, the student son is killed in the country where he is studying.

Asif wins for the second time. Sympathy works for him again. No one suspects a fish, but a watchful jurno writes a column "... Asif sees that if his son gets back from school he will have to transfer things to him sometime as that was the promise which he made as the foundation of his power. This is the reason he planned to eliminate his own son in a different country.." This creates a big debate and is added with a VERY bad move by Asif. The jurno is assasinated in broad daylight, the assasin caught in public who admits to have worked for Asif.

This triggers a chain reaction, the military takes over the country in an overnight coup. The prime minister runs in exile to a neighbouring country. The new dictator seals the borders and moves the troops towards it...THE END