Saturday, 17 April 2010

An Open Letter to the Editor's Guild - Coverage of a Natural Disaster

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Anand Bala balasubramanyan [at]
Date: Sat, Apr 17, 2010 at 9:43 PM
Subject: An Open Letter to the Editor's Guild - Coverage of a Natural Disaster
To: rajdeep.sardesai [at], rajdeep.sardesai [at]
Cc: editor [at]

Dear Rajdeep

I write to you in your capacity as an office bearer of the Editor’s Guild.

Has there been a collective decision by the mainstream media to ignore the devastation that killed 120 people in West Bengal? Over 100,000 people are left homeless and the coverage is conspicuous by it’s absence. Even the BBC devoted more space and time to it than our national dailies and news channels.

Do the lives of the victims of the storm not merit a report from the ground, or a question to a spokesperson of a national party or even an update on the number of homeless, missing and dead?

I am not asking you to stop covering the skeletons of the IPL and entertainment. I am asking why a natural disaster of such magnitude cannot get a fraction of the same bandwidth.

Citizens have been let down completely by the media. We don’t even know the status of rescue operations and what relief is required and how much has reached citizens. As a reader and a viewer I am pained but not surprised. This must be a new low. 

I don’t know if the Editor’s Guild has the will to do something about it. I hope they do. Your readers and viewers deserve better.

Anand Bala
तूने बोया पेड़ बबूल का, फिर आम कहाँ से खाए?
- Sant Kabir

UPDATE 1: A rather candid and short response received from Rajdeep

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rajdeep Sardesai
Date: Sat, Apr 17, 2010 at 11:38 PM
Subject: RE: An Open Letter to the Editor's Guild - Coverage of a Natural D isaster
To: Anand Bala
Cc: editor - The Hoot

U raise an issue of impt and national interest. I agree we have failed. Will definitely try and stir some consciousness on it within the editor community. Tks


UPDATE 2: This letter and it's response is all available on the website here. Please post any comments that you may have over there

Monday, 12 April 2010

Man Kunto Maula | मन कुन्तो मौला | Qawwal Ghous Muhammad Nasir & Party

Song: Man Kunto Maula | मन कुन्तो मौला

Artist: Qawwal Ghous Muhammad Nasir & Party

Lyrics: Hazrat Amir Khusro Dehalwi | अबुल हसन यमीनुद्दीन ख़ुसरौ

Album: The Great Sufi Qawwals (Super Series Company, Charminar, Hyderabad)

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Operation Sitting Duck and trying to move forward

  • Folks calling for war, are the least likely to be called to take up arms in the forests of Dandakaranya
  • The Indian Government and Maoists have one thing in common. They are both equally foolish. Only fools of the lowest order think that they can win a war (any war). 
  • Tribals and Jawans are sitting ducks in Operation Greenhunt. 
  • Nobody and I mean nobody is talking peace. Particularly in parliament. (If they are, they are not visible).
  • The Jawans killed were sacrificial lamb.Just like the people of Kalinganagar.
  • Why can folks not condemn violence on both sides without having to qualify, rationalize or justify violence?
  • If there is a revolt, only the government can be blamed. 
  • You take a jaw for tooth. Very mature. What next?
  • By asking for people who want a halt to green-hunt to be "locked-up", the media (like the maoists and the Home Minister) has completely lost the plot.

  • Government's Confidence Building Measures
    Complete and total moratorium on ALL mines
    • That are less than 5 years old
    • All future mining projects
  • Create a negotiation team
    • A group of 7-10 people
    • No present or past bureaucrats/para-military/maoists/high profile politicos
    • Should have corporate, tribal, academic and civil liberties representatives
    • Group mandated to bring both sides to the negotiation table by any means other than physical force.
    • Immiediate goals
      • Paramilitary forces remain in the red corridor, halt all engagement and retain their current strength
      • Maoists call an immediate and complete halt to all violence and cadre movements.
  • Start moves to create local tribal councils that
    • Has purview over all land acquisition and related compensation (no project of tribal land can happen without their explicit consent and participation)
    • Council should have a LARGE number of elected members from tribal communities
    • Decides on whether specific mines should be nationalized or localized or privatized
    • Need for constitutional provision and democratic mechanism to make this work.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Discovered a CD Shop in Bangalore (for die hard Sufi and Qawali Fans)

If you are a die hard Qawali fan in Bangalore and are looking for a place to buy some music, head towards Dargah Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan on OTC road and near Chikpet.

  • As you approach the Dargah from Chikpet you will see HTM Cassette Centre a few meters before the Dargah.
  • The shop also serves a clinic for Unani Medicine - SO you might get a bit confused with the signboard.

The HTM Cassette Centre - Don't Get confused by the Sign Board

  • Inside you will get an interesting collection of Qawali/Sufi CDs - If you can be specific about what you are looking for - Aleem who manages the shop will be able pull out some gems from behind the shelf.
The Best ones are hidden in the back
  •  I picked up some amazing Aziz Mian and Fariduddin Ayaz and a some CDs of other performers who I had never heard of. 
  • I have uploaded a snippet from one of the three Aziz Mian CDs (see below) (Bhala Hua Kabira Bhala Hua)
  •  There are other shops along the lane. By the time Aleem Mia lined me up - I had no money left. Will be headed there again soon to figure out what the other shops have.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Dear Ranbir - (for your Youngistan challenge) | #pepsithegame |

Dear Ranbir

My challenge to you is -

  • Get Pepsi Co, it subsidiaries and partners to stop extracting ground water in bottling plants anywhere in South Asia
  • Reference - | NDTV | Kerala: Cola giant Pepsi exploiting ground water? | Dated - Thursday March 18  2010, Raw Link :  
    Many folks have taken on this challenge and success has been difficult to find. I hope you enjoy the challenge!

    UPDATE: Link above seems to be disappear every once in a while.  Just in case link not working here is a .pdf version 

    UPDATE 2: It comes as no surprise that this entry to the #PepsiTheGame contest got rejected.  I don't blame Indiblogger, they have a business to run. I will however, still object to the beverage companies profiteering from our groundwater.

    UPDATE 3: Have written a post for @mohanbn's blog about Pepsi's Games.  Do read and comment. There is an interesting debate brewing.


    Sunday, 4 April 2010

    |Press Release| The Nuclear Liability Bill is in our National Interests

    It has been proven that Global Warming was a liberal conspiracy to screw us over. Out of every 1000 pages of scientific reports published on global warming you will find two complete sentences that quote an inappropriate source! After such monumental oversight, the urban Naxals now want to deny us a right to nuclear energy by criminalizing industrial accidents incidents. Why should we let them have their way?

    Nuclear incidents pose NO threat (e.g. Chernobyl)
    • After the minor leak in Chernobyl, the dirty red communists in Russia used scare tactics to evacuate residents from the area.
    • The real reason for evacuation was not nuclear radiation but faulty Geiger counters produced in socialist factories that showed up vast quantities of radiation when there was actually no radiation. We all know that factories with unions produce faulty goods. 
    • Since all residents were evacuated there is no way to prove that several generations will be affected by the incident. Any genetic mutation amongst animals in the region has to be put down to Darwin’s theory of evolution.
    • More importantly, Chernoby happened before Google (BG) putting it so far in the past that it loses all relevance.
    Nuclear technology is safer than air-travel
    • More people die when travelling to the airport than do people of nuclear radiation. (If there is such a thing as death by Radiation).
    • For the enviro-terrorists reading this – apples and oranges are both fruits. They can and should be compared. By the way..some cancers can be cured and to include them as a potent side-effect is unfair.
    Bhopal is a Red Herring
    • Bhopal remains a vibrant city with great music, art and even a theatre scene.
    • Like in every other Indian city, a few people in Bhopal are blind and few more have cancer.
    • Dow chemicals and Union Carbide have never been convicted with criminal liability in any court and are hence innocent.
    • It’s been 25 years since the disaster, it’s time we admit that Union Carbide has a halo around their heads.
    • The fact that reputable senior lawyers defend Union Carbide vehemently in trial courts in criminal proceedings proves their innocence. Lawyers such as these should be made into spokespeople for the Nuclear Liability bill. They understand how painful criminal proceedings can be for companies that act in India’s National Interests. 
    • Union Carbide may have known that the technology that they used in Bhopal was risky. So what? Every business has risks. Do you want us to become a society where the general public gets to participate in business decisions? Financial business risks have nothing to do with their lives! Only shareholders and management should have a right to opinion in such matters.
    • Business leaders have said that it is unfair to make Dow Chemicals clean up the mess at the Union Carbide plant. We need to put our faith behind such stalwarts who are leading the fight against anti-democratic elements (such as illiterate filthy tribals who don’t want to give up their land for the cause of development). There will be resistance when we need to open up more open-cast Uranium mines and we need to be prepared.
    Why worry about the water table? There are alternatives!
    • We all know that bottled water is the future. So what if we drop a few chemicals into the water table – Beverage companies will be able to give us amazing drinking water from places like Plachimada.
    • Privatizing our water distribution system and giving it to folks like Bechtel can guarantee urban India all the water they need. 
    • Rainwater harvesting is for the communists.
    • E.g. - A recent incident where contaminated heavy after was mixed with drinking water at a nuclear plant was contained very well. Nobody died from drinking heavy water in that incident.QED.
    Seizing the competitive advantage
    • For more than a few years now, the US has not commissioned a new nuclear reactor.
    • This shows their lack of foresight when it comes to growing energy needs. 
    • We need to beat China at everything and at any cost.
    • In case of the highly unlikely event of a nuclear incident, we have the medical skills to cope with things like cleft-lips, genetic deformities and cancers. IF they occur, we can cure them. 
    Let us be democratic about Nuclear Liability
    • When we can’t demand a guarantee from our watermelon vendor, why should we demand a guarantee from the guys who build a nuclear reactor?
    • Democracy is about equality and furthering free enterprise isn’t it? All vendors should be equal in the eyes of the law. 
    It’s about Dharma and Karma
    • Let us for a second assume that Nuclear technology is risky. If there is an incident, we know that vendors will take measures to fix the problem in future power plants. Everybody makes mistakes and can learn from them. Nuclear technology vendors need not be made into criminals for accidental mistakes. 
    • Based on the above assumption, a few people may be exposed to radiation that is supposedly dangerous. If anything like this does happen we must assess the karma of the people who are affected. Dharma demands that people who have bad Karma face the consequences of their actions in previous lives. You can’t blame the vendor for that. Such blame-games would harm the sentiments of the majority. 
    • We all know that opponents to the bill are either violent naxals or enviro terrorists or ISI agents.
    How can you help get the Nuclear Liability Bill passed?
    • Corruption is illegal but lobbying is not!
      Get your MP to stop listening to Indian environment groups and scientists. The EPA is giving grants to people who can work within the system to create civil recourse as opposed to criminal recourse. Please get you parliamentarian to listen to people who have funding from the EPA. After all if they are supported by American EPA, they must have our interests in mind.
    • Direct Action! Talk to your local Resident's Welfare Association, MLA, MP and Corparator. Ask them to set aside land for a Nuclear Reactor in your neighbourhood. We must lead by example! It would be wonderful if the good folks of Koramangala, Banjara Hills and Cuffe Parade show us the way by proving that nuclear reactors are safe for their children.

    • Do not attend any Communist and/or Naxal Events. We need to become a nation of pragmatic realists concerned with National Interests. Urban Naxalities are romanticising the nuclear liability debate. They are doing this by incorrectly focussing attention on the risks associated with the complete nuclear lifecycle. Organizations like the Environment Support Group, The Corporate Accountability Desk and The Alternative Law Forum may organize seminars to discuss the Nuclear Liability issue. Please spread the word about these events and encourage people not to attend.

    Issued in Public National Interest by

    Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Nuclear Technology Vendors

    Note – STPCNTV was Established on April 1 and is an unregistered institution with one member.