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Geek by profession, thinker/writer/artist by passion. Part-time blogger,social media enthusiast and a tramp by nature :) A Man Of Mud


Sunday, December 26, 2010

None Brutus, None

Posted by: danish Ahmed 3:48 AM

Came across this interesting article in HT by @bdutt on some of the paradoxes of the Indian society. Initially I intended to drop a comment there but decided otherwise looking at the slugfest in progress. The derogatory comments actually vindicate the writer's opinion that public discourse in India is losing 'complexity of thought that is so crucial to an enlightened democracy.'  The mood of the Indian public seems to oscillate between extremes- ecstatic self-celebration and masochistic self-criticism, hero-worshiping and witch-hunting, living in imagined past and fictional future. Its the typical herd behavior inherited from our primitive ancestors but with subtle differences, it is driven by pseudo-intellectualism and given direction by orators/street anchors with the maximum brownie points.   

Posted By danish Ahmed 3:48 AM

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Embassy Cables Reveal How Cold Start Doctrine Has Been Subverted

Posted by: danish Ahmed 8:46 PM

US Embassy Cables, released by WikiLeaks, reveal how India's "Cold Start Doctrine" has been subverted by the Pakistani Army. Cold Start policy refers to a contingency plan drawn by the Indian Army to keep small,agile units ready to penetrate Pakistani territory and carry out swift retaliatory strikes (on terrorist training camps most likely) within 72 hours of a Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attack on India. The policy was introduced by the Vajpayee government after the Parliament attack and military stand-off between the two nuclear weapon yielding arch-rivals.

It seems elements within the Pakistani establishment took the plan and turned it on its head. If small,agile group carrying out a swift devastating attack was an important factor in Cold Start policy,the Mumbai terror attack seems to resemble it. Of course,the essence is lost, India intended to launch the strike in retaliation and the target wouldn't have been civilians. In fact that is the fundamental difference between a military operation and a terrorist attack.

Posted By danish Ahmed 8:46 PM

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Trial By Social Media

Television Journalism is a funny business indeed, it pays even when you are being burnt at the stake. NDTV might have gained a record TRP tonight as Barkha Dutt hosted a debate on the Radia Tapes controversy in which she herself is at the center and which also explains why it has been dubbed/hashed #barkhagate!

Lately, I have been bit preoccupied to keep track of the latest buzz on the social web. But I must admit to having listened to the audio tapes on Youtube yet being the simpleton that I am, I couldn't see the connection of the conversation with the scam. I presumed there was more and I was simply unaware...may be I am still ignorant because I still don't see the connection. Of course, I don't mean to say that Barkha Dutt is absolutely innocent, but at the same time it would be wrong on my part to go on a condemnation spree simply because everyone else is. I do want to criticize and deride every person who is in that tape but I am also looking for a reason to fully justify it! Despite my best mental efforts I was unable to link these people with the current telecom scam and other cases of corruption.  

Posted By danish Ahmed 1:26 AM

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

India Needs A New World View

 Barack Obama's recent visit to India may looked upon as the most significant visit of an American President to India. Now this statement might sound a bit immature considering the fact that despite numerous efforts, Obama did not make any statement on India's security concern vis.a.vis Pakistan and China, both of which are important for the USA as they are for India. But before he even left for India, Obama had made it clear that trade and commerce would be the main agenda of the visit and he stayed true to it. However, he did offer the long-aspired support for India's bid for a permanent seat at the UNSC but it would do well to remember that the UNSC reforms are not happening any time soon and when they do take place in the future, India would still have to compete with other aspirants and keep veto-power holder,China in good humor. t is not very clear what a permanent member seat in a reformed and an expanded UNSC actually means. Will India and other new members be vested with the same  powers that the Big 5 possess,including the power to veto any resolution ? Finally, given the role UNO has played in conflict resolution,especially in the last two decades, would India's empowerment in any way help India fight off its demons?

Posted By danish Ahmed 2:44 AM

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Age of Cyber Warfare : The Advent of Cyber Weapon

In last few years there have been some major cyber-attacks involving nation states such as China  and Russia but the latest Stuxnet worm attack, takes cyber warfare to another level, where the damage may not be confined to digital assets but also to the physical world. Most security experts believe that the Stuxnet worm's design and perceived objectives indicates that the was aimed to disrupt Iranian nuclear program and most likely it was successful too.

Posted By danish Ahmed 2:16 AM

Monday, August 16, 2010

Even Mamta Can Set Precedence

Politics is such a funny game,you never know on which side of whose bed you are going to wake up in the morning. A centrist firebrand leader like Mamta Banerjee with a short history of alliance with the Rightist BJP, now seems to be reaching out to the Ultra Leftist militants in a bid to topple the three decade old CPM rule in West Bengal. This does not come as a surprise, Indian politicians are not particularly known for allegiance to their respective ideologies,in fact, leaders of smaller regional parties such as Shibu Soren,Paswan, Mulayam Singh, Kalyan Singh,Deve Gowda et al have given up even the pretension of adhering to  any ideology or ethics.

Posted By danish Ahmed 3:31 AM

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Failed Theater Artistes Make Disastrous State Actors

Posted by: danish Ahmed 2:08 AM

It is really intriguing what went behind closed doors for 6 hours as the media waited impatiently over the outcome of SM Krishna and SM Qureshi meeting. It wouldn't be unreasonable to expect some important announcement coming out when the Indian and the Pakistani Foreign Ministers are huddled for that long period of time. However, what eventually came out was the farce that has lately become the chief characteristic of Indo-Pak bilateral talks. The Indian Foreign Secretary and Foreign Minister say the talks have not been failure, the Pakistani Foreign Minister agrees but Qureshi's statements since then indicates the contrary.In fact Mr Qureshi has gone on to question the credibility of the Indian Foreign Minister, saying that the latter needed to make calls to New Delhi for instructions very frequently during the talks.  I must admit Mr Qureshi has a valid point there.

Posted By danish Ahmed 2:08 AM

Monday, July 12, 2010

Paul Shows The Way To Error-Free 2014

Filled under: ,
Posted by: danish Ahmed 5:29 AM

As the FIFA World Cup 2010 comes to an end, FlFA officials are deliberating on  proposed changes to the rules for 2014 World Cup matches to be held in Brazil. Initially the talks were centered around the use of technology in future games to avoid referee mistakes which have had a considerable effect on the course of the tournament but now the discussions have shifted on the role psychic animals could play in the next World Cup.

Posted By danish Ahmed 5:29 AM

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Anatomy of the Bandh

Posted by: danish Ahmed 4:31 AM

Bandhs have been much talked about in recent days,especially because of the violence that have accompanied them. US Defense Analyst John Robb defines the bandh by naxalite as a form of warfare, a guerrilla tactic that allows the Maoists to increase their control over regions by means of system disruption.

While this definition may be very correct in the context of the naxalites adopting the concept, bandhs can also be defined as extreme forms of political protests. In fact, it is the perversion of the Gandhian concept of civil disobedience or "hartal", a legitimate political tool. However, unlike general strikes, bandhs are not voluntary, the shutdown of all forms of transport,communication and activities are enforced by protesters through coercion or the threat of it. This clearly goes against the rule of law and the Supreme Court of India has already banned it but every political party has been guilty of organizing them and in some instances even the ruling parties have called for bandhs or given tacit approval !

(originally posted in November 2009 )

Posted By danish Ahmed 4:31 AM

Sunday, June 13, 2010

To Bhopal In Smaller Cars And Wider Roads

Posted by: danish Ahmed 12:58 AM

Sick and tired of the necrofest going on in the wake of the verdict given out by the court against those found responsible for the Bhopal gas tragedy.

Media and the civil society have blamed the corporation, politicians,judiciary,police,administrative officials (in that order) for the worst industrial disaster ever. But the culpability must be shared more broadly across the spectrum and include the media,intelligentsia and the entire Indian middle class. The gas leak and its aftermath, up to until this day,is a comprehensive system failure.

Posted By danish Ahmed 12:58 AM

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Privacy is a Right, Sharing a Pregorative

As I write this,the could-be-epochal Privacy Vs Openness Debate is raging on, Zuckerberg and his men are now announcing the changes they have been making to offer users more control over their data. However, I must admit that the whole privacy issue  in context to a social networking site seems a bit confusing,after all, social networks are all about sharing information. In fact, its not just social networks, sharing data is one of the fundamental aspect of the Web 2.0 paradigm.

Posted By danish Ahmed 2:29 AM

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Time travelling with Stephen Hawking |via Mail Online

Stephen Hawking is simply amazing when it comes to explaining highly complex concepts of cosmology and physics to a layman. No wonder, his Brief History of Time was a record-breaking international bestseller. In this Mail Online article he attempts to explain time traveling for those of us with scant knowledge of quantum physics.

Would it really be possible to travel to the past as well as the future ?

Hawking,Einstein,Data and Newton [Image Source: dailymail.co.uk]

Before proceeding further, I would like to ask,given a choice would you like to visit the past or the future ?

Posted By danish Ahmed 6:05 PM

Saturday, May 1, 2010

When #Fail is #Win

Posted by: danish Ahmed 7:49 PM

When @dibyabttb tweeted asking about the origin of Twitter's Fail Whale icon, I knew my reply would require much more than 140 characters,so here is a post on this unusual phenomena of a graphic.

If you are even an average user of Web 2.0 services,you are more than likely to have come across the term Fail Whale which Twitter.com displays to indicate that the server is down due to user overload.

Posted By danish Ahmed 7:49 PM

Monday, April 12, 2010

Social Aggregation Without Unified Social Stream ?

Which is the best Social Aggregator ? There is a lively discussion going on a LinkedIn group over this question in which I have participated but think my thoughts on the topic required a more open and more personal space - this blog. This post in a threaded conversation involving a lot of participants would only disrupt the flow.

So what is a Social Aggregator ?

Posted By danish Ahmed 1:12 AM

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Are we becoming Americans ?

Are we becoming Americans? By "we" I mean the great Indian middle class. If that sounds ambiguous, let me try again. We,the English-educated,urban,upwardly mobile class, with a 9 to 5 job or small business owners,blogging,tweeting or ranting in the coffee-house or a tea-stall on a weekend. But before continuing I should mention that this post is a continuation of my previous one on  "arnabism". Arnabism is an unusual phenomenon in which the media ceases to being non-partisan actor and assumes the role of the self-righteous,digital vigilante.

Posted By danish Ahmed 1:32 AM

Friday, April 9, 2010

Arnabism : An Emerging Trend In The Media

@venkatananth: RT @priyaramani: Arnab goswami would have been a star in the mccarthy era

As is obvious I found this particular tweet quite interesting but I must also say that it got me thinking if we were being unfair to McCarthy. He was after all an American Senator, a politician of the 1950's when Cold War had just begun and the West lived in mortal fear of being taken over by the commies. He was just taking advantage of this fear and trying score political points. Almost all political parties in India have done something similar at one time or the other and continue to do so unabashedly.

What we are witnessing can perhaps be termed as "arnabism".

Posted By danish Ahmed 2:13 AM

Thursday, April 1, 2010

World's Greatest Philanderers Alive

Filled under: ,
Posted by: danish Ahmed 3:38 AM

The grapevine has it that, Manforce may pull off a coup de grace by roping in world famous personalities for its upcoming event WGPA.  Dubbed as the poor man's Viagra, Manforce (owned by Mankind Pharmaceuticals) seems determined to expand its customer base in India as well as abroad. The TV reality shows sponsored by it did manage to grab attention of a segment of viewers but it has now reached a saturation point.

Posted By danish Ahmed 3:38 AM

Monday, March 8, 2010

Afghanistan Gambit

Sherry Rahman's op-ed in Times of India might initially look as yet another "Aman ki Asha" article aimed to generate goodwill among Indian readers towards Pakistan and vice-versa. In fact the title of the article  suggests that but look closer and you may detect an official Pakistani point of view but with renewed confidence and assertiveness. At the same time, India's attitude has been rather passive and lacking confidence.

Posted By danish Ahmed 3:21 AM

Friday, February 26, 2010

Roar On The Web, Tigers Are Dying Out In Jungles

Posted by: danish Ahmed 3:14 AM

There are only 1411 tigers left, what are you going to do to save our national animal from extinction? This question was put to me by a friend of mine who had shown little concern for any social,environmental or wild life conservation cause, as of yet. Quite clearly his question was directed at me solely because he knew that I blog, tweet and facebook and the television commercials of telecom provider Air Cel calls upon viewers to use social media to help save the tigers from extinction. I have done my bit or may be my two-bits ( corresponds to exactly two retweets ) but refuse to be sucked into the media campaign. My problem is that I cant see how we can save a species from extinction by blogging,tweeting, facebooking or using any social media platform ?

Posted By danish Ahmed 3:14 AM

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Battle For Mumbai

The battle for Mumbai is on! No, I am not being melodramatic! It has really turned ugly now that Multiplex owners in Maharashtra are not willing to screen MNIK despite assurances by the state government. Negotiation between the Shiv Sena and producers/distributors of the movie is on but the legitimate government of the day is sitting on the fence. WTF?! This is not Somalia or Afghanistan where warlords wield far more power than the governments, we are talking about Mumbai -the commercial capital of the vibrant democracy called India. A city which best showcases India's pluralistic culture.

Yet, the fact that theater owners lacking confidence in the potency of the state machinery seems to indicate a war-like situation. Only this time, the war is being fought through newspapers, television, Internet and of course through Twitter too. @iamsrk @kjohar25 and those with vested interest in #MNIK are actors whose role have been taken much beyond the original script. It seems controversy must have been a part of the larger marketing script. The very title of the movie would certainly have offended 'sensibilities' of a few ultras who chose to ignore it keeping in mind the prevalent political mood of the nation. However, it seems, ultras in Gujarat have found a "anti-Hindu conspiracy" in the script. The film was probably made with keeping controversy-will-generate-publicity in mind but to make it sure, SRK went ahead and issued a statement lamenting Pakistani cricketers being left out of IPL bidding even though he himself did not bid for any of them. The script if followed correctly would have led to some SRK-bashing by fringe-group leaders in their 30 seconds slot on television, effigy-burning, sloganeering and before long they would have died down leaving a buzz around the movie. Doesn't it sound like a typical "happy-ending" scene from Karan Johar movie ?

But alas, the script seems to have gone awry and are now heading towards a RGV-style climax. Looking the developments over the past week,it wouldn't be wrong to say that the issue has gone much beyond SRK and his utterances. The brouhaha just cannot be over SRK's statement regarding Pakistani cricketers. If the Shiv Sena really wants us to believe then what does it have to say about P Chidambaram's appeal to IPL to include Pakistani players or those participating in Aman ki Asha or even their very own Bal Thackeray's meetings with Pakistani cricketers ? It is not about SRK's religious identity either, in that case there are lot of Indian Muslims who have been part of Indo-Pak peace initiatives. The Senas have not targetted them either. (IMHO, the era when Indian Muslims' patriotism was 'judged' on the basis of their animosity towards Pakistan, is now over. )

Coming back to the topic, the present controversy has far less to do with SRK's statement and more with the political dynamics. The genesis of this issue lies in the last state electoral results which had two important lessons for the Shiv Sena. The first message was from the people of the state who were sick and tired of the party's sectarian and hateful ideology, the second was the shocker that estranged nephew Raj's MNS had wooed away a large chunk of its traditional supporters. The worse part is that Raj upstaged the parent party by adopting the uncle's parochial ideology but far more aggressively and violently. Whatever be the reason, Raj's electoral success indicated that there was a section of Marathi votes is up for grabs and now all parties want it for themselves.

As I said in the beginning it is not about SRK, every time there is a debate on it,the conversation quickly turns to ownership of Mumbai vis.a.vis Marathi vs non-Marathi. Let us not forget that just few weeks back,it was the Maharashtra CM was on air saying Taxi drivers in Mumbai would be given permit only if they could speak,read, write Marathi. If the ruling Congress could say that, the Shiv Sena had to take a more aggressive stand, it faces existential issue. It is the battle for Mumbai

Posted By danish Ahmed 4:43 AM

Monday, February 8, 2010

EU Delegation's Kandhamal Visit Uncalled For

Posted by: danish Ahmed 12:33 AM

European delegation visiting Odisha to take stock of situation in riot-torn Kandhamal district was uncalled for and has only given the Saffron Brigade an opportunity to step up propaganda on the alleged "conspiracy" between local Christians and their co-religionist "outsiders" to carry on "illegal conversions" using funds transferred for development project. This may not sound as wierd to the Kandh tribals who have been at war with Pana Christians in the untrekkable hinterland. True, the latter have faced fierce persecution in the past and some victims are yet to be rehabilitated but that could be better pursued drawing attention of Indian NGOs already working for rehabilitation of victims in other parts of the country. Going by the way European nations are banning religious symbols,attires and constructions, does the European Union have a moral standing to give India sermons on "religious freedom" ?!!

Posted By danish Ahmed 12:33 AM

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti Needs You

As most of the readers would already know, a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, leaving behind what could perhaps go down as the one of the biggest natural disaster and humanitarian crises in recent history. But  before proceeding further, i should also mention that since i had been traveling the whole week and facing major connectivity issues, i wasn't very aware of the magnitude of the disaster until a couple of days back. However, this fact does not in any way, dilute my sentiments towards the victims or the disaster. In fact, a very few people can, IMHO, relate to the pain and suffering of the victims than those of us who have faced the super-cyclone that devastated Odisha (then Orissa) in 1999. It has been more than 10 years now, and i have still not been able to find words to express the experience. In nutshell, it was a nightmare..those of us who survived were mainly because we were relatively better off economically, socio-politically. Neither the government nor the media were able to capture the extent of damage.

Anyway, coming back to Haiti, the visuals,news reports coming in are more than just nightmarish! Haiti has has been devastated and its likely to take a lot of time and effort to get the Caribbean nation back on its feet. On the brighter side, this epic disaster has also shown how useful social media can be, in responding to major catastrophes as quickly as possible. Twitter in particular has not only been the main source of  getting the getting news and images from the ravaged country, it is also helping in coordinating rescue teams.  

If the sight of such human suffering depresses us, it is also heartening to find people all over the world extending their hands for the rehabilitation of the quake victims. Google has pledged $1 million for relief work and has also put up a special page, Google Crisis Response page with links and information on how you can do your own bit. You can Donate via Google Checkout or you can find links to donate to organizations like UNICEF , Care, Red Cross ,
Doctors Without Borders , Habitat for Humanity  and other organizations working to help the victim rebuild their lives and communities.

Mashable has put up a list of trusted organizations that you could donate to without having the nagging doubt if your money did reach the victims. However, if you wish to do more or feel you cant donate enough, there are ways you could help directly. For instance, you could Help map Haiti or help find missing people through Person Finder: Haiti Earthquake  or help identify missing people by comparing and matching photos. Let me assure you, you dont have to spend more time or resources than most of us already do in Farmville or Mafia Wars but the difference we could make is huge.

Posted By danish Ahmed 5:53 PM

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Yet Another Tharoor controversy Or Yellow Journalism

Well, my blog is not supposed to be a running commentary on Shashi Tharoor! My admiration for him doesn't go beyond the ordinary, and it is shared with contemporary politicians such as Vajpayee, Navin Patnaik and more recently N.D. Tiwari :P However, every time Mr. Tharoor runs into a controversy, i feel compelled to express my opinion too. It is a bit strange considering the fact that i have at least three posts in various stages in the drafts but this one is a spontaneous post since i couldn't find the option to add a comment on Tharoor's website. It is a bit surprising that the website of a minister who is now known as Twitter Minister for his almost-religious participation in a promiscuously interactive platform such as Twitter, doesn't have much interactivity. Hope this message reaches him, his aides or whomsoever it may concern :D

Anyway, back to the controversy and thank GOD this time Twitter has no relevance unlike in previous controversies where a few semi-literate "writers" (wateva that means!) almost presented Twitter as a sort of a shady nook whose motley crowd and radical approach to communication, "spoilt" a good orthodox Congressman like Tharoor and led him to commit heresies. For once it is obvious that people will say what they have to say and journos would represent them as they want to, irrespective of the medium of communication.

Now, to the actual controversy, the lines in question are,

“That Indian foreign policy drew from our sense of civilisation, and the extraordinary contribution by Mahatma Gandhi and Nehruji’s articulation of our civilisational heritage, both enhanced India’s standing in the world but also earned us the negative reputation of running a moralistic commentary on world affairs—that has come through very clearly in your speech.” [emphasis mine] [Source]

(Pssst.. all wannabe journalists, when you quote somebody, you mark the text explicitly,attribute to the actual source and mention changes you make. )

If you take a look at the last line, it is very obvious that Mr. Tharoor was actually summing up the points made by Lord Bhikhu Parekh's speech in the Indian Council of World Affairs seminar. Ignoring this aspect while reporting cannot be anything but malicious. If a newspaper of Times of India's stature indulges in tactics which wouldnt even qualify as yellow journalism, there is reason to worry.

However, i would like to go further and ask what was wrong with the lines as such even if we were to disregard the above fact and especially hen it was said in an academic seminar?

What is wrong with just stating the obvious ?

The movement that shaped the Indian national identity of the late 1800s and 1900s, itself has grown from our sense of civilizational heritage as percieved and articulated by our founding fathers, could the foreign policy be any different ? Further, the moralistic lines Nehru followed was not perfect but getting caught in the cross-fire of the two great Cold-War rivals , the USA and the USSR was the last thing the infant Indian state should have wanted to get caught up in. Pakistan is the perfect example of how bad things could have gone if India did not take a neutral position during the Cold War.A moralistic approach put India in the non-aligned block's leadership, and gave it a much bigger role in global affairs. But it also earned the ridicule of the Western bloc, especially the USA which has always viewed its foe as the supreme evil that other free societies should help them defeat. But the same point of view is not tenable in India.

Anyway, the term "negative influence" refered to should be taken in a lighter context, and not always as criticism, one must not remember the context in which the statements are made. In this case it clearly seems to be an adulation in the same manner as one would say "brutally honest" .

Well, to be brutally honest, i must tell Mr. Shashi Tharoor that it seems he is trapped between the two Indias. The first one seeks, transparency, openness, progressive thought and the other orthodoxy,conservatism and propriety....

Posted By danish Ahmed 8:06 PM