Monday, October 28, 2002

A South Asian-American's Tribute to Senator Wellstone

The Satya Circle today posts an open letter written by Minnesota State Senator Satveer Chaudhury, to the South Asian Community celebrating the contributions of Senator Wellstone to the South Asian Community.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Protest Against a War in Iraq

I just returned from the anti-war protest sponsored by International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) held today in Washington D.C. against American agression in Iraq. It was, despite the presence of Cynthia McKinney, a really neat event. Finally it seems that Americans are no longer fearing terrorism enough to let that fear suppress dissent. It is not anti-American to have views that differ from the mainstream or our government's policies; And this rally represented. An online People's Anti-War Referendum for those wishing to publicly declare their feelings against action in Iraq can be found here.

It also was a reminder that there were too few people in the American Congress like Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, who along with his wife, daughter, and staffers were killed yesterday in a plane crash. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family members of all of the victims. Whether or not one agreed with Senator Wellstone's politics, he was admired for his steadfastness in his views--regardless of politics. There are too few politicians in this country with the courage and backbone that Senator Wellstone posessed.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Voter Information
As election time approaches, I thought I would include some political links. I don't have any information for similar materials for Pakistani-American causes, but here is a spreadsheet for those Americans who are interested in seeing how certain U.S. congressmen/women vote when it comes to India. Just click on the link that says "Congress: House Reps/Senators contribution to US-India relations," or click here to go directly to the spreadsheet.

Also, I have been informed that a new bipartisan Political Action Committee called USINPAC has been set up recently (September 9, 2002) in Washington DC to provide support to candidates for public office who are proactive in addressing the direct concerns of the Indian American community, including US-India relations.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Indian Doctors
Great story in the Times of India about Desi Doctors in America.

Is the Bush Administration Misleading the Public on Purpose?

The more I think about this upcoming "Preventive" war on Iraq and the situation with North Korea, the more I feel the public is being deceived or misled on purpose by Administration officials. Yesterday, I read a story where Condi Rice, in trying to explain the delay between the public and Congress being informed about the North Korean Nuclear capability, stated that the reason it took 12 days for the news to get out was that Bush wanted to meet with his advisers first. Sure, I think that is acceptable, but why does meeting to hear with advisers take 12 days? Should he not have immediate access to their opinions?

Perhaps if Congressional democrats, or Congress as a whole knew about the North Korean testing, this might have influenced their decision on the Iraq resolution vote. That could not be why the Administration never informed Congress or the Public, could it?

Dana Milbank, in Today's Washington Post, has a great article writing about Bush's "flights of fancy in recent weeks."

Here is some of the article:
"Last month, asked if there were new and conclusive evidence of Hussein's nuclear weapons capabilities, Bush cited a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency saying the Iraqis were "six months away from developing a weapon." And last week, the president said objections by a labor union to having customs officials wear radiation detectors has the potential to delay the policy "for a long period of time."

All three assertions were powerful arguments for the actions Bush sought. And all three statements were dubious, if not wrong. Further information revealed that the aircraft lack the range to reach the United States; there was no such report by the IAEA; and the customs dispute over the detectors was resolved long ago.

As Bush leads the nation toward a confrontation with Iraq and his party into battle in midterm elections, his rhetoric has taken some flights of fancy in recent weeks. Statements on subjects ranging from the economy to Iraq suggest that a president who won election underscoring Al Gore's knack for distortions and exaggerations has been guilty of a few himself."

The problem that I have is that these deceptions seem to be calculated, as if they are political moves to motivate the dumb masses. As Stephen Hess, a Brookings Inst. scholar notes, "Everybody makes mistakes when they open their mouths and we forgive them," Brookings Institution scholar Stephen Hess said. Some of Bush's overstatements appear to be off-the-cuff mistakes. But, Hess said, "what worries me about some of these is they appear to be with foresight. This is about public policy in its grandest sense, about potential wars and who is our enemy, and a president has a special obligation to getting it right."

The White House, while acknowledging that on one occasion the president was "imprecise," said it stands by his words. "The president's statements are well documented and supported by the facts," Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer said. "We reject any allegation to the contrary."

Its too bad the facts don't agree with what Bush is saying.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Shiv Sena--fools leading fools

Suman Palit yesterday reports of Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray exhorting his fellow Hindu's to start suicide brigades "to take on the menace of terrorism."

"If such suicide squads are formed then only we can take on perpetrators of mindless violence", Thackeray said in party mouthpiece Saamna here on Tuesday. Wow is he dumb! Lets form a collective of people who will conduct mindless violence so that we can stop mindless violence. What kind of logic is that? Are people truly represented best by this man?

Thankfully, according to todays TOI, The Maharashtra government on Thursday registered a case against Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray for his statement on Dussehra day exhorting his followers to set up suicide squads to tackle cross-border terrorism.

"A case under Section 153(a) of IPC has been registered against Thackeray at the Shivaji Park police station," Minister of State for Home Kripashanker Singh said. Action against Thackeray has been initiated since it was felt that the Sena chief's speech could jeopardise communal harmony, Singh said.

Lets hope the Indian justice system can perhaps produce some justice for this man who has spent much of his time in office enflaming communal tensions. The ball is now in the Centre's court.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Arundhati Roy Does it Again

I know. I know. I praise her too much, but she amazes me with her prose. There are not too many people, at least in my opinion, who have the ability to inspire such passion or emotion, the way that Arundhati Roy can. The most recent writing of hers that I found has appeared in the British paper, the Guardian, where she discusses the newest branch of the War on Terror, Iraq. She also writes about other U.S. covert operations including a detailed discussion of the U.S. role in Chile in the seventies. I do have to take some issue with some of her points, but overall, I find her writing straight-up evocative. I shouldn't gush, I know it takes the objectivity away, so I will stop. But I am pasting some of the better passages, as well as some of my criticisms below.

"Now that the initial aim of the war - capturing Osama bin Laden (dead or alive) - seems to have run into bad weather, the goalposts have been moved. It's being made out that the whole point of the war was to topple the Taliban regime and liberate Afghan women from their burqas. We're being asked to believe that the US marines are actually on a feminist mission. (If so, will their next stop be America's military ally Saudi Arabia?) Think of it this way: In India there are some pretty reprehensible social practices, against 'untouchables', against Christians and Muslims, against women. Pakistan and Bangladesh have even worse ways of dealing with minority communities and women. Should they be bombed? Should Delhi, Islamabad, and Dhaka be destroyed? Is it possible to bomb bigotry out of India? Can we bomb our way to a feminist paradise? Is that how women won the vote in the US? Or how slavery was abolished? Can we win redress for the genocide of the millions of native Americans upon whose corpses the US was founded by bombing Santa Fe?"

She later goes on to discuss one of George W. Bush's heroes, Winston Churchill, a favorite leader of many people from South Asia.

"In 1937 Winston Churchill said of the Palestinians: 'I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance that a great wrong has been done to the red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place'. That set the trend for the Israeli state's attitude towards Palestinians. In 1969, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said: 'Palestinians do not exist'. Her successor, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, said: 'What are Palestinians? When I came here [to Palestine] there were 250,000 non-Jews, mainly Arabs and Bedouins. It was desert, more than underdeveloped. Nothing'. Prime Minister Menachem Begin called Palestinians 'two-legged beasts'. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir called them 'grasshoppers' who could be crushed. This is the language of heads of state, not the words of ordinary people."

In efforts to not use bad language, I will not comment on the racist (and stupid) mentality of Winston Churchill, but I think too many give the man too mcuh credit when it comes to international affairs. He was a wannabee cultural imperialist who really did think that the whites of the world were supreme. Many of his policies shoed this, as does his previous statement. The end of this paragraph is also where I think Roy takes a bad turn. It is now en vogue to take up the Palestinian cause, especially at the behest of becoming anti-semitic. While Roy in no way comes close to being anti-semitic, or even anti-Israel, in discussing the poor plight of the Palestinians throughout history, she forgets to place some of the blame on the Palestinians themselves. The mid 1900's saw the Palestinians use terrorism, much like the Israeli's, but as strategy rather than tactic. Terror was used too much, and compromise too little, and thus, the Palestinian state is now what it is. Compromise I feel is a word that too many states, leaders, and people in general are not using now a days. We talk too definitively and too one sidedly as if ours are the only interests that matter. Ours is a world not made of solely white and black. There are indeed gray areas, and for that matter, red, brown and blue areas as well. There are not two sides to choose from anymore, and it is important for ALL leaders around the world to go back to thinking this way.

Anyway, The link provided above should lead to a listing of some of Arundhati Roy's most recent writings. I suggest you check them out.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

The Role of the Underworld in Indian Film

Interesting article in TIME asia about the intertwining roles of the mafia and the Bollywood film Industry. Among the interesting tidbits:

"The top star on Shakeel's speed-dial list is Sanjay Dutt, son of actor-politician Sunil Dutt and the luminous Nargis (the two starred in 1957's Mother India, the Hindi Gone With the Wind). Bollywood's alltime bad boy, Sanjay has a past littered with drugs, a love of guns and implication in a series of bomb blasts in Bombay in 1993. His alleged taped conversation with Shakeel sounds innocuous; it would put anyone but a government eavesdropper to sleep. Dutt asks about a promised mobile phone connection (which he could well afford on his own). He complains about the chronic tardiness of fellow star Govinda, who appeared with Dutt—and Bedi—in the 2001 film Jodi No. 1. The tape is pure verbal gargle, but dicey for Dutt: Shakeel is a wanted criminal who had been sheltered by India's archenemy, Pakistan.

Or consider the plight of Bharat Shah, the producer who corralled megastars Shahrukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit for Devdas. Shah has more troubles than a screenwriter could dream up. First, the police claim he was one of Shakeel's long-distance phone chums. Then rival don Abu Salem boasted of his investment in Devdas. Shah was arrested in January 2001, accused of being a front man for the Mob, and was jailed for months before getting bail. Now he's caught between two sets of gangsters. That raises, as they say, loyalty issues; it's like playing the Bosnians against the Serbs. Either group could kill Shah for being a traitor."

I wonder why more is not being done on the Indian police end to stop this. It is almost a "wink wink, nod nod" situation, where everyone knows this is happenning, but nothing is being done to stop it. People like Abu Salem, Chota Shakeel, and Dawood Ibrahim are all wanted in India, yet, they continue to finance movies and be at large. Salem and Ibrahim are both thought to be involved with the 93 blasts, and all three are regularly being blamed for causing chaos through shootouts, extorsion, and murder in Mumbai.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Great documentary...finally, from the BBC. If you are interested in Bhangra, Garage, Drum and Base, RnB, Hip Hop, anything with an Asian face, check this site out on the BBC.

It is interesting, no more is Bhangra or Asian sounds limited to Desi parties. Hearing Panjabi MC's Knight Rider track all over Washington D.C. at sort of mainstream hip hop clubs is just a unique experience.

Just another example of why it is a nice time to be Young and South Asian, or even just South Asian.

Iraq--Some Terminology

I have desperately, the last couple of days, been trying to understand the motivation of George W. Bush and his administration to go to War over Iraq. What I have come up with is a list of, to be quite honest, of reckless, hegemonic, and very dangerous reasons why the U.S. might want to act.

First off, I was thinking that perhaps there has to be some intelligence suggesting there is indeed some imminent threat eminating from Saddam Hussein and Iraq. But with the recent CIA assessments to Congress suggesting that the only way Saddam would consider attacking with Chemical or Biological weapons would be if he was threatened, threatened by a U.S. strike that would endanger both his regime and his life. Although there are only a couple reports available to the public like this, it seems unlikely to me now, that there actually is some credible evidence.

Other thoughts, and I hope this is not the case are as follows
1. Avenge Bush 1's inability to get Saddam (even though that was never the stated goal)
2. America cannot allow the Blacks to have the Bomb. We already have India and Pakistan, another country would be too dangerous
3. The good ol' military industrial complex perhaps could be the kick start needed to boost the sagging American economy
4. Another source of cheap oil?

I have no idea what it is, but I do wish that the President, the media, and anyone in the know would maybe clarify the use of the terms Preemptive war and Preventive War. My understanding is that Preemptive war suggests an attack to stop an imminent threat, something that is happening very soon. According to Preemptive war relates to or constituting a military strike made so as to gain the advantage when an enemy strike is believed to be imminent: a preemptive nuclear attack.

A Preventive war connotates what I think the Bush administration is doing because according to everything publicly known, Iraq does not yet posess nuclear weapons, nor are intending on attacking the U.S. According to, a preventive war is one carried out to deter expected aggression by hostile forces.

As I type, Sen. Daschle and many of our American representatives are voting with the President on Iraq. Are we, the United States, going to war over something that might not happen?

Cuban Missile Crisis... 40 years Later

Today, delegations from the United States, Cuba, and The former Soviet Union will gather in Havana, Cuba to gain a better understanding of who was thinking what and when during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Gathering, which will last until Sunday, will include former CIA and Russian officials, Sec. Robert McNamara, and Fidel Castro himself.

The Conference is significant also because it has been the impetus for the declassification of both Cuban and Soviet documents on the Crisis, which will ideally lead to a better understanding on decision making during the crisis. The conference organizers, The National Security Archive, will also publish on its website, more declassified documents on the Crisis. Press releases on developments that occur during the conference can be found on the Archive website, and the Archive Cuban Missile Crisis Page, which includes declassified photographs from the Crisis as well as tape recordings of the decision-making process.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

JC Penney--It's all inside
My friend, Lisa Bates, sent me an email forward about this Forward Command Post toy that JC Penney is selling in its catalog. Of course it is up to every parent to decide what kind of toys are appropriate for their children to play with, but this toy, way too weird for me.

First Dibs on Everything?

I didn't realize the United States, perhaps as a result of its War on Terror and the 9/11 attacks, had the right of first refusal on anyone suspected to have links to al-Qaeda around the world. Today's TOI has an interesting article by Siddharth Srivastava about the U.S. "thwarting" Indian attempts to extradite mafia don Abu Salem from Portugal.

"The US government is more comfortable with Salem in Portugal given the mesh of bureaucratic hassles as well as media attention that Salem will attract if brought to India, said the CBI official. The official said: "They want the first right over him. Once they are done with him, then only we will get our chance."
The three-member CBI team that went to Lisbon were surprised at the sudden change of attitude of Portuguese authorities, who till then had been co-operating with the Indian government, the official said. The US realised that it would not be diplomatically right to seek Salem's extradition as India has publicly declared interest in him," says the official. "Therefore, while the US desisted from exerting pressure on the Portuguese authorities to help India in Salem's extradition or deportation, there was a well-orchestrated behind-the-scene insistence of the FBI that Salem should remain in Portugal. Hence, the attitude of the Portuguese authorities changed overnight."

Srivastava also points out that part of the blame for the lack of U.S. pressure lies on the Indian government's strong declarations that Salem has ties to al-Qaeda, and lack of emphasis on Salem's role in the Mumbai bomb blasts. It is always interesting to see Indian officials try and exaggerate to get America's attention, and then of course, the exaggerations come back to the bight the GOI in the ass. India should realize that it is a state like any other and does not need the U.S., the UK, or anyone elses approval to act. Its funny, I think, that India can go it alone when it comes to issues of grave danger like nuclear proliferation, yet fails to act independently with such a small issue comparatively like the extradition of Abu Salem, a person who is suspected of causing great harm in Mumbai.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

India-Pakistan Political Cartoons

Sorry for my lack of posts--I feel like I am in this perpetual world of being busy with school, articles, work, and just trying to figure things out. Anyway, while doing some schoolwork, I came across this great page on Slate with links to political cartoons about the India-Pakistan standoff, posturing, craziness. It never ceases to amaze me how two countries, with so much intellectual capital, can waste billions of dollars on weapons and nuclear posturing, while not having enough money to cover the basic needs of the majority of their populace, including the jailing of drunk drivers/Bollywood stars who hit and kill innocent bystanders and then flee the scene.

Cynthia McKinney--Who is She Kidding?

When the Indian-American political lobby actually does something, results often follow. A recent story by Chidhu Rajghatta in the TOI and one also in the Atlanta Journal Constitution cites the Indian-American community in Georgia as playing a large role in the defeat of MS. McKinney in the democratic primary. Many Indian Americans see McKinney as very anti-India and pro-Pakistan and Khalistan. As a result, Indian-Americans got the word out and ,although not singlehandedly, indeed contributed greatly to Ms. McKinney's defeat.

It seems, now that the "lame-duck" (can you use that word to describe congresswomen?) Congresswoman has entered into the record her feeling that the Indian government was behind her defeat. She entered into the Congressional Record this statement

"Ms. McKINNEY. Mr. Speaker, as you know, I recently suffered a setback
in my bid for reelection. I am beginning to get over the disappointment
that I will no longer be able to serve the people of Georgia in the
next Congress. I will miss serving.
However, there were some alarming things about the campaign to defeat
me that I think my colleagues of both parties should look out for. I am
not talking about the Republicans who crossed over to vote for my
opponent, but the heavy involvement of Indians in the primary. I am one
of the Members of Congress who has tried to get out the truth about
South Asia, and I am proud of that. Earlier this year, I was one of 42
Members of Congress who wrote to President Bush to urge the release of
Sikh and other political prisoners in India.
Apparently, this irritated the Indians because the newspaper article
I am inserting in the Record along with this statement shows that they
admitted that they invested heavily in the effort to defeat me. To my
colleagues of both parties who have also been involved in the effort to
expose India's brutal record, I say: Watch out; they are coming after
you, too.
India has a record of illegal interference in U.S. elections. Former
Ambassador S.S. Ray publicly urged the reelection of former Senator
Larry Pressler and in opposition to now Senator Robert Torricelli. An
Indian American immigration lawyer named Lalit Gadhia funneled money
from the Indian Embassy to Congressional candidates, according to the
Baltimore Sun. Most of the candidates were of my party, people I am
proud to have had as my colleagues during my service in Congress. But
it is still illegal and wrong for India to funnel Embassy money to
these Members' campaigns.
Now I have become the latest political officeholder in India's cross
hairs. I won't be the last unless their activities are exposed. Mr.
Speaker, whether I am in office or not, I don't intend to let a foreign
power determine the results of American elections if I can help it.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to insert the article showing Indian
involvement in my primary into the Record to help expose their

Following the statement, she entered the TOI article into the record as well. Perhaps Ms. McKinney shouldn't be in office anyway, not because of her anti-India bias, but rather, because she can't read. Nowhere in the story does it say anything about the Indian government. It does however cite Indian-AMERICANS as being involved.

Thanks to Instapundit for keeping up on this story.

The complete insertion into the Congressional Record can be found here.