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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


Monday, December 28, 2015

Star Wars : The Force Awakens | Review (Spoiler free)

(Courtesy: Wikimedia)
A long time ago in a galaxy... well in our own galaxy and our very own planet Earth, George Lucas wrote and directed an epic space opera film called Star Wars which grew into a hugely popular franchise and a global pop cultural phenomenon with a cult following spanning generations. The first movie was released more than 32 years back and it's been 27 years since release of the last installment of the original trilogy (Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)  which is indeed "a long time ago" as sequels and prequels go, even the last installment of the much less appreciated prequel trilogy (Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) came out 10 years back but Star Wars franchise continued to command huge fan following. The announcement of the release of Episode VII: The Force Awakens and the huge marketing campaign made it one of the most anticipated movie releases in recent times if not of all times. However, one of the issues eager fans had to deal with was avoiding exposure to spoilers and leaks proliferating on the Internet. I assiduously avoided every piece of information that had anything to do with  Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so my review of the movie includes NO SPOILERS, or so I hope.

Posted By danish Ahmed 2:11 AM

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Decoding The Chaotic Syrian Civil War

  Diagram of Syrian theater of chaos
A rough diagram of all state and non-state actors participating in Syrian Civil War and the dynamics between  the actors in this theater of chaos (click on the image for larger view) .
Just as we thought that terror attacks in Paris, Beirut and the alleged bombing of Russian passenger plane over Egypt would bring about the global alliance against ISIS closer, the shooting down of Russian fighter by Turkey and Russian President Putin's strong statement including a warning of retaliation in some form has turned the tide towards an unfavorable direction. Yet, it was not wholly unexpected. Given the chaotic theater of conflict in Syria with numerous states and non-state entities fighting each other and a common enemy, such developments are not beyond realms of expectation. Turkey shooting down Russian fighter plane for straying into its air space for 17 seconds hardly seems a spontaneous response, especially when the Turkish President Erdogan says the order came from him. Turkey and its NATO allies have all along been alleging that Russia is not really targeting ISIS positions but anti-Assad rebels supported by them and there is every reason to believe them since it is apparent that Russia has intervened in Syria to primarily ensure that Putin's closest ally in the middle east, Bashar al-Assad remains in power.

It has also been reported that Assad and ISIS have been able to cooperate with each other in limited terms which is not the case with the other rebels whose only objective is to remove Assad from power. What makes Turkey's shooting down of Russian fighter seem as a premeditated action is the fact that the militants holding the region that the Russian fighter was targeting was not held by ISIS at all but by Turkmen rebels whom Turkey is not only supporting but considers them part of its ethnicity. Since Russia is unlikely to militarily engage a NATO ally, Putin's threat of revenge is most likely to be, as an immediate response, relentless attack on this particular group of militants also responsible for killing one of the two pilots and a Russian marine involved in the rescue operation of the downed pilots along with sanctions it has already imposed.

Posted By danish Ahmed 1:00 AM

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Salman Khan And Talwars

Posted by: danish Ahmed 3:10 AM

The recent acquittal of Salman Khan in 2002 drunken driving and running over five people,killing one of them and injuring four others has the media and social media talking about the judgement incessantly. While his massive fan following is celebrating the acquittal, a lot of people have been sorely disappointed with the proceedings and even the Judge pointed out the shoddy investigation carried out by the prosecution. In Salman Khan's case, not including Kamaal Khan, the other eyewitness and one of the persons inside the vehicle during the incidence as a witness before the court seems too callous. There are other lapses on part of the prosecution too but I don't intend to do an autopsy of this case, which the media has been conducting anyway. However I must confess that being a fan of Salman Khan I am not at all unhappy that he has been acquitted, besides I am not the kind of person who seeks personal gratification in punishment of individuals. Punishment through due process of law is a necessity to uphold the rule of law and dispense justice but I don't see any role of individual or collective passion in it (except in rare cases). At the same time, the idea that people can be subjected to rigorous punishment as a result of similar shoddy investigation is highly disturbing.

Posted By danish Ahmed 3:10 AM

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Is Modi's Solar Alliance At COP21 The Real Deal

(Image Courtesy: UNFCCC )
Quite recently I heard an eminent academic speak on the need for PM Narendra Modi to improve his relationship with the press. I think it was the economist Jagdish Bhagwati, a known Modi supporter but I could be wrong. Anyway, a recent event did make me think that perhaps he is right, by not directly engaging with the mainstream media, Modi is not only allowing his image being transformed to that of an opaque personality but also some of his real achievements get ignored and completely sidelined in the nation discourse.  But before that I must confess that though I see Modi the politician as a product of the RSS ideology, Modi the Prime Minister seems be too ambitious to be restrained by ideological shackles especially when it conflicts with his attempts to create his own legacy. This twin personas were especially evident when he was on election campaign in Bihar, his rhetoric being aggressive and almost uncouth and then his statesman like oration in the Parliament at onset of the Winter session which was way mature. However what really surprised me was the lack of adequate reportage by media as well as support from his own  supporters on social media on his successful launch of International Solar Alliance of 120 countries along with French President Fran├žois Hollande during the Paris COP21 climate summit.

Posted By danish Ahmed 8:30 AM