Archive for the ‘India’ Category
Posted March 20, 2011on:
Official links from India Today Conclave:
One thing must be made clear at the outset if this blog post. The venue and context of Sarah Palin’s speech in India were significant. Let that not be diminished. This was no mere campaign rally, or stump speech. The ideas might have sounded familiar to some, but the phrasing and presentation were quite creative and well-crafted.
Short of an address to a joint session of the Indian Parliament, with both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha present, the India Conclave was the most distinguished panel of political, civic and business leaders, honorable men and women of India, world guests (and yes, a few agitators) that could be assembled in one place for a dinner-lecture. Specially so, considering that the whole point of the exercise was to open a window that’s seldom seen through: an out of office Republican in India.
A lot was asked of the speech, in terms of the goals to be achieved: her own self-introduction; her sense of self in the America of today; the obligatory praise of hosts and host nation; the essential acknowledgement of bilateral values; distinguish herself from others of her (political) class and intent; the framing of her theme; exposition and justification of her ideas. That was a tall order for the tail end of any conclave. It was made even more challenging for Sarah Palin by her status as an individual citizen. All things considered, she did remarkably well. (A part of me can’t help compare this speech to the phony, manufactured, ceremonial gilt-edging of a candidate in 2008 going to Berlin to get stamped for a ‘foreign policy speech’ specially after deigning to speak at the Brandenburg gate no less! Sarah Palin’s objective here was much more humble and result proportionately better-rewarded)
What Sarah Palin represents today:
It is important to put Sarah Palin of today in the proper, larger American context first. In her experiences we see an inkling of the passions that raged about in this country. In her sufferance and successes, we find evidence of what America has been like, these past few years. Her life bears witness to the beauties and blisters of the American soul, circa 2008. In the decades to come, it will be said that Sarah Palin, even more than Barack Obama, is verily the palimpsest of the American psyche in the new millennium. That is no exaggeration! She has been at once both the outlet to, and the target of, the American angst. In short, she has been marked by America. This point is critical and needs to be undestood in depth.
The visible personae and public interactions of Sarah Palin reflect to a certain extent the play of subterranean social and political impulses of American electorate of a particular time. In her life we see: how Americans look at their leaders (or chose not to); how Americans respect their women candidates (or wantonly disregard all norms of civil public behavior); the blunt expression of a tempestuous electorate (or, its incisive effect of slash and bleed); finally, the power of our changeable culture to move people aloft (or tear them down without mercy) – all with no regard to the essential value, virtue or worth of candidate of issue in question. The raw brutality of democracy in action left its indelible imprint on Sarah Palin, like on none another in living memory.
But how did this happen at all?
Sisyphean challenge Sarah Palin had been up against:
The new millennium brought considerable psychosis to America’s collective consciousness. First there was the tumult of Bush Vs Gore and its rancid aftertaste. Then came the trauma of WTC attacks, followed by two frustrating wars. Finally, and along the way, blossomed violent and vitriolic Bush-hatred which burned with the fuel of ‘truthers’ (at one time 10% Americans thought it was an inside job). The final blow was the pied piper psychosis of the children of Hamelin led away from reality by a charismatic leader, aided and abetted by the media, further fueled by sexism, misogyny and hatred of a (Hillary) Clinton. It all served to create a culture of incubation for the ‘nattering nabobs of negativism’ the ‘blame America first crowd’ and the uneasy commingling of the sacred and the profane in American electoral ethos. Sarah found herself in this context, now she had to catch a break with an audience willing to giver her a break. Did she help herself?
Some amazing points from Sarah Palin’s speech:
— She highlighted Energy security right away. Drill baby drill became a nuanced phrase of ‘bridge fuels that will lead someday to renewable sources of energy’. An extraordinary subtlety that nearly flies past noticing.
– -She found an elegant way of equating the quest for freedom of the two countries, going beyond the usual platitudes, by making this wonderful comparison between the Boston Tea Party and Gandhi’s Dandi Salt March. Both were pivotal events in rousing the conscience and consciousness of the involved adversaries. It’s true, nothing warms the hearts of Indians than be reminded of the Mahatma’s brilliant activism.
— She pointed out that Alaska is half the size of India. When you stop to think about it, an absolutely astounding factoid. Yet without getting lost in the inevitable easy digressions, she uses that sheer size idea to illuminate her personality, lifestyle, value system etc. A product of my land is who I am, she seems to say.
— You could never go wrong with an Indian audience by casting a wary eye on China. Indians can never forget the brutal Chinese invasion of Tibet (driving out the Dalai Lama to India), or the malicious invasion of India in the early Sixties, just months after signing a peace and friendship treaty. Indians are actually terrified of China, specially because of the underhanded nuclear and missile technology transfer from China to Pakistan, and Chinese influence in Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and Indian Northeast. Palin was perfect in wondering out loud about Chinese growing military might. She phrased it just perfectly.
— She handled the idea of her being pro-life (read anti-abortion) very subtly. By using Indians’ own respect for Mother Theresa, via a reference to her own home and large family, Sarah Palin deftly equated her own pro-life stance with the Indian (Hindu) reverence for ‘the sanctity of life’.
— On foreign policy, Sarah Palin proved quite astute in talking about the de-hyphenation in the US-India-Pakistan relationship. Indians are eternally sore, the public more than the politicians, that US sees India and Pakistan as two sides of a coin. This equivalency, and the attendant moral outrage, is a sore point with Indians. Indians wish to be dealt with on their own terms. Sarah did right to use the right verbiage here.
— Most Indians I am sure died (pleasantly) when Sarah Palin said This is as true in Alaska, as in Andhra Pradesh. The choice went beyond verbal book-ends, AP in India is the hotbed of entrepreneurship, much courted by foreign investors, and very forward looking. And, Sarah pronounces Andhra Pradesh perfectly. Even better than Mrs… Sonia Gandhi.
— Who amongst us is not chauvinistic, and who amongst us does not love to bask in the reflected glory of all those we can connect with. Sarah is hip to that, and nicely mentions Nikki Haley, a descendent of India. And what a nifty way of doing so, by paying tribute to Indian acceptance of female leaders. (Sorry, Bobby Jindal)
Finally, its important to frame this speech against similar others, and those that happen at cattle calls (CPAC) and pilgrimage sites (IA, NH), in advance of tossing the ring. True to her style and agenda, Sarah Palin’s actions have generally been ends in themselves, while being a means to an end eventually. So too this speech. It stands by itself, but it could be part of a larger play. The game has many many more such plays. And, Sarah is playing them out in public. That’s her genius.
More than any other ‘opposition leader’ the world over (and politicians travel abroad all the time), Sarah Palin conducted herself with dignity, grace, wit and forbearance as the keynote speaker. She gave a darn good account of herself, and even a better accounting of her vision of America without diminishing America of today, (this last item seems to be lost on the current occupant of WH).
[A word of advise to Sarah Palin – do more such speeches.
In Israel, Australia, West Africa, South America. And yes, do go to a country that predominantly or substantially Islamic. Not the gulf area, though.]
A late observation:
It’s amazing how perfectly Sarah Palin pronounced the name of the southern Indian state Andhra Pradesh.
And, why did she mention that state, after all, she was only looking to make a point of geographical bookends! Did she do it to show off, to hint her awareness of Telangana headlines, acknowledge the value of Cyberabad to US economy, or is she foreshadowing future for Andhra Pradesh in a Sarah Palin administration? All very intriguing items…
The Q and A session just started.
Sarah scores hugely with Indians when she sounds alarm about China. Historical negative relations, China’s big brother approach to Asian countries, aggression against India — all cause Sarah’s China comments to be warmly received by Indians. Sorry Americans, forget the cheap crap you buy.
“I am not going to sit back and take it..”
Her comments on mainstream media gets a loud applause …
Thank you Rediff for livestreaming – we love our governor!
First things first.
The haters are out in full strength, with their usual vapid gusto and vitriol.
It behooves the followers of Sarah Palin to get into the act, and answer them jab for jab.
Go here to listen, get on facebook and twiiter. Support the lady!
“Alaska is huge, almost as big as half of India”
“It is false, that we don’t need to drill for new oil in America”
“My vision for America — boldly engages in leadership”
“India’s strong women leaders..”
“Mother Theresa’s message of the sanctity of live”
“Our two democracies understand the hunger for freedom”
Sarah Palin compares The Boston Teaparty with The Dandi Salt March — awesome, extraordinary and original feat of rhetoric .. Bravo Sarah!
The greatest terrorist threat is? “Nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorist groups”
President Obama often gets praise for pronouncing Paaakisthaan so well, will Sarah Palin get praise for pronouncing Ahmedinejad right?
She scores again!!
She uses the magical word, “De-Hyphenation” a code word in diplomacy — India and Pakistan are not equal, equivalent or equivocal in US view — that alone wins her more popularity in India and among Indian-Americans.
Posted March 18, 2011on:
Who can argue with celestial coincidence?
On a day that America’s Mama Grizzly lights up the Indian stage with her long-awaited speech ‘My vision of America’ an enormous, glittery supermoon will light up the evening sky across the globe.
On Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the moon will arrive at its closest point to the Earth in 2011: a distance of 221,565 miles (356,575 kilometers) away. And only 50 minutes earlier, the moon will officially be full.
The Super-Moon will have been closest to the earth in 18 years. It may appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter. Ocean tides will be higher as a result, but rest assured no tsunamis or tidal waves.
Equal to this celestial event will be the terrestrial magic taking place in India. Just hours away, I am quite confident, will be the rousing reception and applause for Sarah Palin’s speech.
The website Space is a great resource, thanks are due to them for this graphic. Visit them for more information, data and links galore.
To participate and interact with like-minded admirers of Sarah Palin, go to C4P chat thread here.
If you are a tweeter, use hash tag #ITConclave to opine. A brief glance reveals a lot of warm support as well as the usual hateful dopes fully on. They need to be replied to!
Enjoy this once in a life time cosmic double play.
Sarah Palin and the Super-Moon, it’s not just a coincidence, it’s a portent.
Keep your eye on this page for an upload of the full video of Sarah’s speech.
(Note: Jai, a Sanskrit word meaning victory is pronounced with the sound of English letter J, rhymes with rye, and is not related to the Spanish sport of jai alai)
I am very excited to visit India, she exulted upon landing.
We await the details of the speech.
Sarah Palin, a billion enterprising, freedom-loving, commonsense-laden business savvy Indians are waiting to love you. Go conquer them!
Here is a lusty, cheery, unabashed note of welcome to India.
The New York Sun, in an article by the Indian analyst Pranay Gupte, offers this contrast with Obama visit a few months back:
Mrs. Palin is certain to be well received [snip]
Indians have traditionally looked favorably at Republicans, with the possible exception of Richard Nixon, during whose presidency Washington openly sided with Pakistan as India assisted the former territory of East Pakistan to gain independence from Islamabad and establish itself as Bangladesh.
Two years after George W. Bush retired from the White House, he’s still held in high regard in New Delhi on account of his unflinching support for the deal under which India has been allowed to buy equipment for its civilian nuclear program. [snip]
The other reason that Mrs. Palin will be warmly received is that Indians like women leaders.
Mrs. Palin is bound to be impressed by how many women legislators there are in India’s national parliament, and in the assemblies of the countries (sic) 28 states and seven federal territories. [snip]
And given her personality, Mrs. Palin most definitely will make friends in India, which has already begun souring on President Obama for his perceived failure to follow through on promises made on his state visit. Happily, Mrs. Palin will be a political tourist; she will have no obligation to make any pledges, other than of accelerating her personal friendships in a land known for its warmth and hospitality.
Indians were less than happy that, however subtly, the president sought to underscore that, in Washington’s view at least, there was parity between an economy of $1.4 trillion, and a neighboring one – Pakistan – whose GDP is $167 billion.
Unlike India, whose democracy is loud and messy, and whose economy is on a trajectory of sustained economic growth, Pakistan, also a nuclear power, is clearly a failed state.
Interestingly, the website IndiaReloadedTV notes that all this Palin hoopla may come to naught in view of Indians being pre-occupied with the furor resulting from wikileaks published in The Hindu the other day. The paper lent support to BJP allegations in parliament that the Congress Party won the no-confidence vote in 2008 via bribery.
Now that’s interesting. Since the issue involved the nuclear deal signed by George Bush, a Republican, how convenient that the wikileaks were published just on the eve of the visit of another potential GOP contender? I mean, first the NYSun publishes a laudatory, optimistic article on Sarah Palin visiting India. And voila, a few days later, among all American media the NYTimes alone highlights The Hindu somehow just timing its publication to suck the oxygen out of the public sphere, and the spotlight off Sarah Palin’s visit, and in the process embarrasses the deal, it’s engineers and the deal makers involved. Makes one go, hmmm..
We certainly hope that Sarah Palin enjoys herself during the visit to India, and then Israel on the way back. We know she will be wearing The pin.
Everyone in Washington is talking about Pakistan, but few understand it. Here is how to dazzle the crowd at your next Georgetown cocktail party.
Don’t let this humorous invite fool you. This is a very informative article about a very dangerous place in the world. Have no doubt, Pakistan is far more a tinder box than the West Bank, Iran, North Korea or Indonesia. Unlike these other places, Pakistan flies under the radar, simmers just under the surface, while all the time stewing in a melange of hate, fear, opportunism, tribalism and ancient anathemas. From the moment and the manner of its birth, the long, agonizing, divisive, rancorous fratricidal feuding that preceded its splitting off from the British Raj, and animosity against the independent, secular, democratic India – that is, since birth – Pakistan has been at war with itself. It has in turn been itself divided, with Eastern Pakistan becoming Bangladesh (see the post, Godfather to Bangladesh). Today, Pakistan is at the brink looking into the abyss. Who will pull it back, or push it over the edge?
“The Idiot’s Guide to Pakistan” lives up to it’s title. This article in Foreign Policy was authored by Nicholas Schmidle of New America Foundation. You don’t need to agree or disagree with their ideas to appreciate this article. With wit and light touch, it gives essential facts and concepts of the Pakistani situation. It is neither dark nor dense, just enough to give some context to the nightly news and the headlines.
I am glad I stumbled upon it, and quite glad to pass it on to readers of this blog. I know that you all, like rest of Americans, have a keen interest in Pakistan, what happens there, and how our men and women in uniform do in that part of the world.
A very highly recommended article. I urge you to read the entire article here.
For those who can’t wait to get there, here are some snippets with the original headings:
1. The Troubled Tribals.
First off, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas are not part of the North-West Frontier Province. The two are separate entities in almost every sense of the word. While the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) is, well, a province with an elected assembly, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are geographically separate areas governed through “political agents” who are appointed by the president and supported by the governor of NWFP (who is also a presidential appointee). […]
Sharmajee says: The phrase Northwest Frontier is a misnomer in the current geographic scale of Pakistan. It was more suitable to the enormous area of the erstwhile British Raj, when Northwest referred to a corner of the entire subcontinent. The bulk of British India bordered the Persian West Asia along what is now the NWFP, a term leftover from the colonial days. It’s a telling sign of a new nation that never adopted its own terminology; just as it never got over its infantile hatred of all things modern, democratic and secular.
Foreigners are prohibited from entering FATA without government permission. If you see a newspaper dateline from a town inside FATA, chances are that the Pakistani Army organized a field trip for reporters. Those traveling unaccompanied into, say, South Waziristan have either a death wish or a really good rapport with the Taliban, who effectively run North and South Waziristan and large portions of the other agencies and frontier regions. The recalcitrance of the tribesmen is hardly something new. In the words of Lord Curzon, the former viceroy of India: “No patchwork scheme — and all our present recent schemes, blockade, allowances, etc., are mere patchwork — will settle the Waziristan problem. Not until the military steamroller has passed over the country from end to end, will there be peace. But I do not want to be the person to start that machine.”
2. A Taliban Who’s Who.
In December 2007, the smattering of bearded, black-turbaned, AK-47-toting gangs in FATA and NWFP announced that they would now answer to a single name, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban Movement. For decades, Pakistani jihadists have used such fancy names to declare splinter groups (many of which go unnoticed), but some analysts latched onto the TTP as gospel and postulated that, overnight, the Talibs had become disciplined and united. In the process, such analysts have overlooked important distinctions and divisions within the pro-Taliban groups operating in Pakistan. […]
In Swat Valley, where Islamabad recently signed a peace treaty with the Taliban, the fissures among the militants are more generational. Swat, unlike South Waziristan, is part of NWFP and shares no border with Afghanistan. In the late 1980s, a group calling itself the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, TNSM or the Movement for the Establishment of the Law of Mohammed, launched a drive to impose Islamic law in Swat and its environs. They resorted to violence against the state in the 1990s on numerous occasions, including once taking over the local airport and blocking the main road connecting Pakistan to China. […]
So far, the treaty has held, unless you count the soldiers who were killed by Fazlullah’s Talibs for not “informing the Taliban of their movements.”
3. Kiss My Lashkar
In Arabic, the language of Islam, a lashkar describes an irregular tribal militia. Say you’re a tribesman in South Waziristan who has beef with a member of a rival tribe. You need a posse. So you raise a lashkar.
But Pakistan’s jihadi groups, to glorify their agendas, have long used the word lashkar in their names. (Other common Arabic names for army include sipah and jaish.) Although Lashkar-e-Taiba is committed to fighting the Indians over Kashmir, Lashkar-e-Janghvi is bent on killing Shiites, and Jaish-e-Mohammed seems ready to attack anyone. The proliferation of these terrorist militias became so bad that in January 2002, Musharraf was obliged to declare, “Our army is the only sipah and lashkar in Pakistan.”
4. Border Guards
The Frontier Corps (FC) are a paramilitary force composed of roughly 80,000 men tasked with border security, law enforcement, and increasingly, counterinsurgency in FATA, NWFP, and Baluchistan. (Rangers fill similar tasks in Punjab and Sindh, the provinces bordering India.) By almost any definition outlining the ideal counterinsurgent, the FC would be it: They are almost all Pashtuns, more familiar with the language, the people, the tribes, and the terrain than any regular Pakistani soldier or U.S. troop could ever be. But their biggest advantage also happens to be their biggest liability, because Pashtuns are renowned for their sense of community; asking one Pashtun to kill another, especially when it’s seen as being done at the bidding of an “outsider,” be it Punjabi or American, would be like your boss telling you to kill your cousin. Not gonna happen, right? […]
there is the problem that, owing to the widespread anger among Pashtuns toward the United States and the Pakistani establishment, no one can say whether the FC won’t simply hand over night-vision goggles and new weapons to the Taliban, especially when oversight by U.S. officials in FATA, parts of NWFP, and Baluchistan is so scarce.
5. Finger on the Trigger.
Mornings are for praying and sleeping; lunches are for buffets; and evenings are for gallons of tea. Not much time for exercise, is there? And mustaches? The thicker, the better. Beards? The longer, the better. Does that mean that the Pakistani Army is composed of Islamic fundamentalists salivating at the opportunity to fire some nukes? Yes and no.[…]
Most Pakistani soldiers consider India to be their mortal enemy and would like nothing more than to incinerate their neighbor. They get that from the grade-school textbooks. And they will usually frame the conflict between them and India as one between Islam and Hinduism. This ground has been pretty well covered by others who write about Pakistan.
But we should realize that anti-Indianism doesn’t translate to Talibanism, […]
The ISI is the intelligence wing of the military. The Army, meanwhile, has its own intelligence wing, confusingly named Military Intelligence (MI). The Interior Ministry has its own: Special Branch. And so on and so forth; there are more intelligence wings in Pakistan than there are varieties of dal. […]
What makes the ISI different is not so much its personnel as its agenda, an agenda that might, on any given day, include ferrying money to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan or training Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters to wage jihad against India in Kashmir.
One final piece of wisdom about Pakistan:
We should know what we are talking about when we talk about Pakistan.
NOTE: Emphasis added in the excerpts above.
The above has been generous excerpts from the original article meant to give you a flavor of it. You should read the entire original, and supplement it with other accounts. As usual, with anything dealing with Pakistan, what you read is not always what you thought you read, specially with news agencies reporting from afar.
Finally, there is this joke among analysts and think tank folks that, most countries have militaries, but in Pakistan the military has a country.
Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the original impetus to this blog and blogger, lives up to her reputation.
The Senator from Punjab proves why she is such a great SecyState, of the order of the great Marshall, Elihu Root, Daniel Webster and Jefferson.
Gift of a silver tongue, keen observation, elegant expression, and astute analysis, not to mention such banal items as a true-heart nuance in nativist empathy and pronunciation – all make her a one of a kind genius-diplomat.
Hillary’s place in history is signed, sealed and delivered.
Imagine the dignity and majesty, how amazing she would have been in the White House. Shame on American sheep, for making a poor choice instead.
Here, students ask Hillary questions:
It does not arise from particular grievances. It is not rooted in ‘despair’ over Palestine. It is not a reaction to the war in Iraq. It is a war waged in the name of Islam against America, Britain, Hindus, Jews and all who refuse to submit to Islamic conquest. The Mumbai atrocities told us very clearly a number of things.
Melanie Phillips, writing in the Spectator assails the commentariat and the pundit class, they just don’t get it, she bemoans. They look everywhere for explanations, or scratch their head, when it is so simple to see:
The Islamists want to murder as many Americans, Brits, Hindus and Jews as possible. That is because they are waging all-out war against civilisation. [sic]
I am in awe of this woman, she articulates with such clarity and fearlessness. Read the entire article, don’t miss the nearly 80 comments!