Monday, December 29, 2008

Omar Abdullah to be CM

The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference emerged the single-largest party in crucial elections held in the war-torn state. The JKNC won a total of 28 seats, ahead of its biggest rival, the People's Democratic Pary (PDP). Now, JKNC President Omar Abdullah, who will become the new Chief Minister (and one of the youngest Chief Ministers in India), has to sit down with Congress President Sonia Gandhi, whose party won 17 seats. Together, the INC and the JKNC control a simple majority in the 87-seat assembly.

The elections were held this year after the previous PP-INC Coalition led by Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad collapsed after the Amarnath Controversy. However, that issue seemed to have played to the BJP's favour, which won an amazing 11 seats, up from just 1 seat last time. 

The elections have been described as a 'vote for democracy' by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Chief Election Commissioner of India described it as the most 'credible election' held in the state. The election saw very few incidents of violence and a high turnout. People seem to have voted for better civic amenities and jobs.

Meanwhile, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti appears to be trying to form an alliance with some parties, but it has become quite clear that the JKNC-INC combine will govern the state.

Federal Elections and elections in the states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh next year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

One Year without Benazir Bhutto

December 27, 2008

One year ago, two-time Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in an election rally. Today, a lot has changed in her country.

The military rule has been lifted and a democratic Government is trying to take over all the affairs of the state.

Her son is still studying in the UK, but is slowly learning the ways of politicians.

Her husband has become the President of the country. He has also been accused of flirting with Sarah Palin.

Pakistan's economy has collapsed, and the country now lives on an IMF lifeline.

The Taliban seems so have taken control of SWAT. They have bombed hundreds of schools imparting education to girls.

Benazir Bhutto's killers have still not been brought to book. 

One year on, her dream for Pakistan seems to have faded even further.

Friday, December 26, 2008

AIEEE Link Activated

The link to check the application status for aspirants of the All Indian Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE)-2009 is now active. You can key in your application number and check your application status. To find this link, go to aieee.nic.in.

The Worry of Oil Bonds

In 2008, the Government of India issued oil bond worth billions of dollars to compensate state-run Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) for the huge losses they incurred in subsidising oil sold in India. This system is dangerous and will have major ramifications in the future.

Bonds are a most ingenious financial instrument: they're counted as debt, but only in the future. Bonds need not be mentioned in the current account deficit or as expenditure. This creates an illusion of a Government that is extremely fiscally responsible. Such an illusion if false.

When the time comes for the Government of the day to redeem these oil bonds, the cat will come flying out of the bag. The Government cannot default on these bonds, it has to find some way to get the money to repay them. Now, one way would be to boost exports and use the earnings to pay them back. But with the ever-widening trade deficit, that seems highly unlikely. The other way is to sell off State-owned assets. While that could happen, there will be huge opposition to it, and it will take a very brave (and numerically strong) government indeed to go ahead with it. If the Left ever comes to power, that can be ruled out entirely.

Then there is the option of raising taxes. That seems to be exactly what the Government will be doing. While we drive our fuel-inefficient cars to work, ignoring public transport and our own two feet, we are being bolstered by cheap fuel, all subsidised. What worries me the most is that this indulgence will hurt future generations. They (we) will have to pay more in taxes, consumption will be dragged down and the economy will follow. That's the dangerous future being gifted to us by the UPA.

The solution however, is complex. There is no question of lifting oil subsidies: both from a political and moral point of view, it is wrong. Political, because it would anger the masses who, sadly, think the Government can simply print money without worrying about it. Moral, because most people in India live below the poverty line and cannot afford the Kerosene required to cook. There is however, a middle path: differential subsidies.

The current policy of the Government is to issue blanket subsidies on oil products: that means everyone from the local farmer to Mukesh Ambani use subsidise fuel. While the poor really need it, those earning several lakhs a year do not. And that's where the political courage comes in: to remove subsidies, wholly or in part, to higher income groups. They can afford it, and if they can't, they can at least afford a bus ticket. If they want the luxury of a car, they must be ready to pay for it; that's a basic tenet of capitalism. However, those making just enough money to survive cannot afford even a bus ticket and need subsidies to stay alive. It would be inhuman to lift subsidies on them.

You can play around with everything except the economy. If you try to mess with the economy, it will come back to bite you. The danger of creating too much debt and praying to God to make the next generation pay it off is huge. It will take some visionary steps to correct our course. The Congress in 1991 made such bold decisions. Sadly, the UPA is not the Congress of 1991.

Ghajini Sold Out In Hyderabad

Aamir Khan's latest blockbuster, Ghajini, based on the Tamil movie with the same name, has made waves in Hyderabad. Times perfectly to release on Christmas, a public holiday, the movie saw packed theatres in Hyderabad.

Adlabs in Ameerpet was booked within seconds of starting sale of tickets. In PVR (Hyderabad Central, Panjagutta), the line in front of the ticket counter was as long as the mall itself! And of course, the tickets at Prasads were booked a good week before the movie released. In fact, the infamous black market for tickets in Prasads was active. Very active.

The smaller theatres were not entirely booked, but were still quite full. And it wasn't just Ghajini, SRK-starer Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi also saw full theatres, as people looked to make good the holiday. TV channles report that Ghajini made a new record for advance bookings in India!

And oh, the Christmas tree in Prasads was as beautiful as ever. Reaching all the way up to the top of the first floor, the tree was covered in fake snow and lights. The Santa Claus next to the tree was a neat addition.

Another Christmas goes by in Hyderabad, and the country slowly gets back on its feet after 26/11.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thank You for the Cricket

The English Cricket team might have lost the RBS Cup 1-0, but by simply being there to play with India after 26/11 means lot to all Indians. I must admit that I was worried after the siege; worried that all countries would cancel on us like they've done with Pakistan. 

But then the Government showed its powerful security force that would protect the English team ('commando cricket,' as Kevin Petersen put it) and the ECB eventually agreed. And the series has helped Indians stand up again. IT was thrilling to watch Sachin chase such a high target in Chennai, and the English team putting up a strong offence in Mohali. The matches united Indians once again, and a nation could look towards the future.

It seems ironic that our former imperialist rulers have proven to be our greatest friends in time of crisis. But maybe that's the way the ball rolls. 

Again, a warm thank you to the English team. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mathematics Day

BITSAT Applications Open

WEEK 84 DAY 1


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Dec. 22: The forms for application to the Birla Institutes of Technology and Science Aptitute Test (BITSAT) 2009 are now available on their website www.bitsadmission.com

BITSAT is a prestigious exam taken by thousands of students every year for admission into BITS Pilani/Goa/Hyderabad. (OTFS)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Candlelight is Mightier than the Flame


A silly argument put forward recently is that holding candlelight vigils is absolutely pointless and politicians listen only to guns and violence. Many politicians themselves have said that they don't see the point of such vigils.

The truth is that a candlelight vigil is the most humane as well as the most democratic form of protest or expression of solidarity. It integrates public opinion and sends out a strong weapon. To say that such vigils are pointless would be to negate those ideals for which Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr., among others, stood for. 

Many people thought that silent protest never works. Such thoughts gave birth to Hitler and Raj Thackeray, to name a few. They are wrong. The wonderful thing about democracy is that a small show of solidarity that captures public interest is enough to make representatives move fast. Public opinion is the key: and a silent protest is the most powerful form of protest there is. That's why candlelight vigils are not pointless, they are essential instruments of human conscience. 

'Tis the Season to be Merry

Opinions 24x7 proudly releases its latest logo for the holiday season. This year, Christmas holds a special place in all our hearts. With a global recession hitting families across the world, this will be a quiet Christmas. But remember, Christmas is not about expensive gifts or lavish dinners. It's about family ties and traditional values.

Suze Orman suggest that this year, our families should vow not to give any gifts to each other. Save for a rainy (rainier?) day. But more importantly, enjoy the spirit of Christmas like it should be enjoyed.

As for the New Year, remain optimistic. Hey, it can't get much worse from here! Hope for a better, more prosperous 2009. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bushism No. 1!

"THIS IS A GOODBYE KISS YOU DOG".

Those are the words that Iraqi journalist  Muthathar al Zaidi shouted at US President George W Bush, before throwing his shoes at him. And what a stir it has created online!

A group on Facebook has declared Mr. Zaidi a hero, and asked for Bush to be tried for war crimes! Most people feel the journalist was fully justified in throwing his shoes, in fact, they regretted Bush's reflexes were still so good! People have started to wonder whether they could bid for the shoes and keep it as a memento. The current offer is $25 mn, but it could go up!

Of course, all that is just the nice stuff. A lot of foul language was used, and polls were conducted on what object should have been used (currently, people are voting for his chair). Some rumours have begun to spread that an Egyptian man offered his daughter's hand to the journalist. And of course, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who famously described Bush as 'the devil,' called Mr. Zaidi 'brave.'

Also, a little joke is running in Pakistan that the Pentagon has traced the shoe-thrower to the LeT in Pakistan. According to joke, the man was inspired by a fiery speech and spent two months training in the art of shoe-throwing. The shoes he threw were specially made from the hide of a goat sacrificed during Id ul Adha by the founder of the LeT!

Oh, and i you want to join in on the action, play one of the many 'Bush shoe-throwing' games available online!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Hate You

ARUNDHATI ROY
I also think that you are disgusting.

A No Brainer

The Ministry of External Affairs' decision not to allow the BCCI to send players for the 2009 India-Pakistan Cricket Series is wise and well-timed. The very idea of a 'business as usual' atmosphere between Pakistan and India after 26/11 is disgusting and reprehensible.

I do not doubt President Asif Zardari's sincerity. He seems like a hard-working person who wants a safer Pakistan and South Asia. But the continued flip-slip from Pakistan - sending the ISI Chief, Amir Ajmal's nationality, airspace violations etc. - indicate that he does not call all the shots. The military is involved here, no doubt.

From my point of view, the military is in total control of Indo-Pak policies. While the civilian government is left to control the (crumbling) economy, they are out to alleviate American pressure in the NWFP and FATA. This is an existential danger for Pakistan, and a major security threat to India.

India is not the first country to cancel a cricket tour to Pakistan this year, and it certainly won't be the last. But unless the Government 'settles down' (it seems to be taking forever to do that) and crushes the political side of the military, cricket tours will be the last thing Pakistan will have to worry about.

MESSAGE:
I think Pakistan's GEO TV deserves special praise for its coverage. GEO has come to signify Pakistan's new democracy abroad. Good job!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Great Load of Bollox

In a recent interview to recent to Geo TV, Pakistani lawyer C M Farooque asserted that the terrorist nabbed during the 26/11 siege in Mumbai, Amir Ajmal 'Kasab,' was apprehended by Nepali police in 2006 and handed over to Indian authorities to 'defame Pakistan!' 

He also claimed that he had filed an appeal in Nepal's Supreme Court, but fumbled several times when asked specifics such as the date on which he had filed the appeal. He also claimed that Ajmal and others went to Nepal on a 'business trip,' although multiple media reports have confirmed that he hailed from an impoverished family in Punjab (Pakistan), which would make it highly unlikely that he could afford any 'business trips.'

Now, a senior judge of the Nepal Supreme Court has said that he has no knowledge of any such case. He also said that Nepal had not handed over anybody to Indian authorities. 

A spokesperson for the Nepal Home Ministry categorically denied any such detention and said that the government had never detained or handed over any Pakistani travellers. Just last week, Ajmal's father cried out before a TV channel in Pakistan that Ajmal was his son and media reports showed that Pakistani intelligence officials were trying to cover his tracks.

The assertion by the lawyer seems to be of part of what the Indian Air Force described as 'a massive disinformation campaign being launched in Pakistan.' I fail to understand what India would gain by spending thousands of dollars to bomb its own hotels and kill its own citizens, just to 'defame' Pakistan. If India needed to 'defame' Pakistan, it would be as simple as bringing up the issue of young girls in the North West being buried alive in International fora. Remember that some Pakistani Senators had actually justified the act!

This stupid assertion by the lawyer seems to be a desperate move to avoid more International pressure on Pakistan, by creating more false stories. It will not work. British PM Gordon Brown certainly made that clear.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Morals vs. Professionalism

A very interesting debate is on in legal circles as to what lawyers should do with the case of Ajmal Amir 'Kasab,' the lone terrorist apprehended during the Mumbai 26/11 attack.

While one section believes that it is morally wrong to defend a terrorist in a court of law, another believes that a lawyer is not defending a terrorist but simply allowing the law to take its own course. The faster he gets a lawyer, the faster he will be punished!

But the Siva Sena today ransacked the office of a lawyer who publicly agreed to take Ajmal Amir's case. This is a dangerous precedent: lawyers should not be told what to do by political parties, unless we want to convert India into a banana republic! Then again, a bar association in Mumbai said that none of its members would defend him.

The issue over whether a lawyer should stick to his professional ideals or listen to his heart is a complex one. Eventually however, Ajmal will need some representation in court. Not even a hundred lawyers can save him, but just one lawyer is needed to punish him. Now, what are they going to do about that?

New Key Model

WEEK 83 DAY 1


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Dec. 15: The colege has adopted a new model for setting the key to all exams for all sections. In the original model, taking from a standard template for EAMCET, the paper-setter would prepare a key beforehand, an it would be circulated to students after the exam.

However, a number of flaws emerged in that mode. In particular, the observation that paper-setters were misusing their powers by changing the key so as to ensure that their students bagged higher ranks. Furthermore, the fact that hostel students distributed the key to their day-scholar friends, who write the exam one day later.

The new model eliminated both problems. Now, a free-float key model will force lecturers to solve the question papers and report their key, after discussing it with their students. A final key would be decided after a conference. Although longer, the system will be a major step forward. (OTFS)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Attack on Democracy

Ms India declared Runner-up at MW

Miss India Parvathy Omanakuttan of the State of Kerala has been crowned runner-up in the Miss World 2008 pageant, just concluded in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her graceful walk, stunning looks and wise answer to similarities between South Africa and India, including the legacies of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, won her the prize.

Indian Navy Arrests Pirates

In yet another major success, the Indian Navy arrested 23 pirates - Somali and Yemeni - who had boarded a vessel in the Gulf of Aden. The vessel was flying an Ethiopian flag.

Pirates, using speedboats, has started firing at the ship, MV Gibe, which then called out for help to the nearest ship, the INS Mysore. The Naval Warship sent a helicopter immediately and rescues the ship, which was later escorted to safety.

The Naval Commandos boarded a pirate ship and found a cache of weapons, including AK-47's and several rounds of ammunition. 12 of the pirates are Somali and 11 Yemeni.

Now, a doubt remains over what to do with the pirates. They will most likely be tried by courts in neighbouring countries. Their capture represents a rare victory in the Battle against piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can't Snap Cultural Ties

On CNN-IBN's Face the Nation, an interesting question was posed to the audience and panelists: Should India snap cultural ties with Pakistan to put pressure on the Government there?

I believe that it is impossible to snap Indo-Pak cultural ties. We have to remember that the two countries have existed as (hostile) neighbours for sixty years: prior to that, it was just one gigantic subcontinent, with its countless kingdoms. A common culture stemmed from this land, the culture of civilisation. To suddenly end millenniums for culture would be both impossible and foolhardy in attempt.

On the programme, singer Abhijeet made a somewhat valid point: the economics of it. While cultural ties such as clothing and food can never be severed, professional acting, singing, dancing and theatre can - and maybe even should? Abhijeet pointed out that while millions of talented professionals in our small cities struggle to find a footing, Pakistani professional cross the border (sans work permit, according to Abhijeet) and make their millions, and pay income tax to the Pakistani Government. The reverse process is strictly banned by Pakistan. How can we allow this one-way trade? Isn't it wrong to put our own people at a disadvantage?

I have no answer to this question posed by Abhijeet. Perhaps he is right: the Indian Industry, one of the largest in the world, should be a platform for Indians, otherwise it would become unjust. Or perhaps the argument that art knows no boundaries should apply.

Whatever be the argument, one thing is for sure: India and Pakistan started the human race in the subcontinent together. Governments can erect boundaries but they cannot erase history.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Congress Wins with 2/3 Majority

It was a clean sweep for the Congress in the tiny North-Eastern state of Mizoram. This state is quite unique among the others whose results were declared today: the BJP didn't win anything. Not surprising: Mizoram was never a BJP state.

The decade-long control of the Mizo National Front (MNF and allies) ended on the back of string anti-incumbency and an aggressive campaign by the Congress. Lalthanhawla is all set to form a Government there, with a powerful majority in the Assembly. He says that his main focus will be development. The outgoing Chief Minister accepted defeat.

Mizoram was the site of powerful campaigning, with Congress leaders such as Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh campaiging there. Clearly, the Congress threw the kitchen sink at the MNF, and it paid off. 

So with Mizoram, the Congress ended an eventful day, keeping Delhi and winning Rajasthan and Mizoram. The race for the Lok Sabha in 2009 just got a lot more interesting!

'Mr. Clean' Does the Trick

The BJP's Chief Minister in Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh, is often called 'Mr. Clean,' mainly because of his transparent conduct and sincere work. That image of his is probably what gave the BJP the magic number to retain the central state. Raman Singh's welfare measures, particularly his rice distribution scheme, proved a hit with voters.

In contrast, the Congress is riddled with factionalism in the state. The PCC has admitted defeat, and says it will introspect.

BJP Wins India's Heart

Simplicity wins the day: and the votes! That's the mantra which saw the BJP rise to retain Madhya Pradesh. CM-designate Shivraj Singh Chouhan has a humble style: he is easily accessible and believes that development and development alone is what people should be concerned about.

In a massive upheavel, former BJP iron-woman Uma Bharti lost her seat in her home turf. Before the elections, she said that she did not want to form a Government, just defeat the BJP. She went on to add that if the BJP won, she would retire from politics. Only time will tell if she remembers her words.

In the meantime, the BJP can take pride in having won this state, although its performance for the day was poor.

Royal Defeat

The Rajasthan verdict proves one thing: God can't win you elections. Particularly not if your CM-candidate thinks she's God. That's the biggest mistake Vasundhara Raje made: she tried to become larger than the party, distancing herself from grassroots workers and more senior members at the same time.

And the verdict was clear. The BJP lost a huge share of seats, and the Congress needs just a few Independents to form the next government. Even more shocking is the fact that a dozen Ministers in Raje's cabinet lost their seats.

The Gujjar-incidents clearly had a role. The BJP won just one seat in the Meena-dominated areas. Meenas are the group that were against reservations for the Gujjars. Sadly for the BJP, the Gujjars just about split their votes between the BJP and the Congress.

The walk to the Governor's residence to submit her resignation will be a long one for Raje: she should think about the importance of being a member of the party and not superseding it (although some people like Narendra Modi can afford to do so). As for the Congress, the Ghelot-led Government has a lot of work ahead.

Sheila Dikshit makes History

Sheila Dikshit is old: let's face it. But that's only by age! According to Delhi's voters, she's young at heart. That would explain how she managed to win over young voters when Delhi voted.

In a major setback for the BJP, the Congress won 42 seats in the 69-member assembly, just short os a two-thirds majority. Moreover, this gives Dikshit a third term, taking her into the ranks of Narendra Modi and NT Rama Rao. So what gave her the win? Well, her media-savvy image definitely helped her to connect with voters (the BJP's VK Malhotra was the diametric opposite). And more importantly, she has genuinely contributed to Delhi's development over the past decade.

More roads, better public transport and better infrastructure: she did it all, and more. Now, that's a winning formula if I've ever seen one.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Greatest Crime of All

Genos, Greek for race, and cide, Latin for killing. The two words were put together to form a word to describe Nazism: genocide, the mass murder of an entire race of people.

Scream Bloody Murder, an aptly-titled presentation on CNN, looked into the history of genocide, and how successive governments around the world refused to do anything about it. The show was presented by Christiane Amanpour, CNN Chief International Correspondent.

Starting with the genocide of Christian Armenians in Turkey, the programme explored the Holocaust and spoke to survivors. It then moved on to other genocides: in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, in Rwanda, in Iraq by Saddam Hussain (this included a short description of the Gulf Wars), in Bosnia and finally, in Darfur. 

Each story was different, more gruesome than the last. But there was always something common: a person, or a group, who would not take it sitting down. They would stand up and scream, 'Bloody Murder!' And each time, powerful governments failed to listen, until it was too late.

Amanpour finished off the show with a sign of hope: the Internet, and its mass reach. She expressed hope that a mass movement of all people of the world would end the genocide in Darfur, the first of the 21st Century. Maybe then we could really say, never again.

Stateless Zones?

The assertion by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari that the perpetrators behind Mumbai's 26/11 Attack were "stateless actors" leaves a lot to be questioned.

One such significant question was brought up in an editorial in The Hindu (dated Dec. 6, 2008). It questioned whether the idea of "stateless actors" could be extended to "stateless zones," where the civilian government has no control. 

In case of existence of such zones, would it be valid for a foreign military establishment to attack those zones, since they are stateless? If such stateless zones were responsible for inhuman acts around the world, would the world be justified in attacking them, since they were, after all, "stateless"?

These are hard questions which Mr. Zardari will have to ponder over. I doubt he can more than ponder: by no means will the Army allow him to touch the free-for-all-death-to-all terrorist camps in PoK. 

In Mr. Zardari wishes to absolve his country, his Government and himself of the 10 terrorists (at least one of whom is a Pakistani citizen from Punjab) who bruised Mumbai, then he must be ready to pay the price. As US SoS Rice said, if Pakistan cannot act, then the US (and in extension, other countries) will. 

The End of the World

It's December 6, 2008. A little under a year ago, I was writing about how the new year would be challenging, the most difficult year ever for me. Indeed, it seems to have lived up to its expectations, even going beyond. 

2008 has been the worst year of my life. I have bartered two years for something I have never wanted, I have lost two years of my teenage life to a fruit that tastes like water to me. 

And now, it's almost over. After being reduced to taking Vitamin-B pills just to stay awake and gulping down chyavanprash to avoid overpowering fevers, my life is almost set to go back to normal. Even though I know, in my heart, that my life has changed forever. 

Undoubtedly, I will be reading the Bhagvad Gita after all this is over. I feel a spiritual void, an emptiness. I feel shame and pride, both at the same time. I fear looking into the mirror, because I would see the ravages of the present and recent past. Countless times I have wanted to end it all in one stroke, in the most inhuman way possible. 

And each time, I was saved. And I will be saved again, and again. April 12, April 26. And peace be upon us all.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Armyman Trained Terrorists


The New York Times, quoting unnamed officials from The Pentagon, has claimed that the terrorists who attacked Mumbai on 26/11 were trained in pakistan by a retired officer of the Pakistani Army. The report also claimed that Pakistan's powerful spy agency, the Directorate of Inter-services Intelligence, or the ISI, had a direct role in the attack. 

However, the report said that no links had been established between the Pakistani Government and the terrorists. 

The report comes amidst other reports that American and Indian Inetligence have pinned a Pakistani role in the attack. 

The Global Government

min_exter

THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

Headed by PRANAB MUKHERJEE

(Formerly NATWAR SINGH and MANMOHAN SINGH)

 

 

 

 

The UPA Government's busiest Ministry has undoubtedly been that of External Affairs. From a landmark Civilian Nuclear Agreement with America to the Nepal Crisis, the MoEA has been at the helm of affairs. Of course, it has come with some controversy: Natwar Singh, the original Minister, was thrown out following the Volcker Report. PM Manmohan Singh took charge for a brief period, but eventually the workload became too much and protocols too strict. Eventually, ace-troubleshooter for the Congress, Pranab Mukherjee, took over.

 

We discuss, in brief, the Government's performance in various regions.

 

South Asia

In South Asia, the Ministry has done a good job in creating democracy in Nepal. The talks between Nepali Leaders and Maoists in New Delhi led to the end of a bloody civil war and the establishment of a secular democracy. The same is with Bhutan: the Government stood with the tiny neighbour as it became a democratic nation with a constitutional monarchy. In Afghanistan, the entire Government has done a lot for the war-torn nation's reconstruction efforts.

 

However, the Ministry has not looked properly into human rights violations in Sri Lanka. According to the South Asian Human Rights Commission, Sri Lanka is the worst performer in the region as far as human rights go. However, keeping the ban on the LTTE in place is a good thing.

 

Lastly, Pakistan. The Indo-Pak relationship has grown well under the UPA, although it is marked by periods of tensions. The newly-elected democratic regime in Pakistan has embraced the Indian Government, and a better future can be expected.

 

Asia-Pacific

India's relationship with Oman and Qatar grew tremendously under the UPA. So have our ties with Central Asia, Kazakhstan in particular. With Japan, India has signed a rare military treaty, while Australia and India have come closer to stronger ties, minus nuclear cooperation. These represent a number of successes of the UPA. However, the distancing of Russia from India in the face of our new ally, the US, has been disturbing. Even Russian media acknowledged that Indo-Russia ties were growing weak. Still, Russia remains India's top provider of military hardware. India's quiet diplomacy with Myanmar and its handling of the Asian Tsunami were exemplary.

 

The relationship with China has been one of deep concern. On multiple occasions, authorities on both sides made statements regarding Arunachal Pradesh. The Indian Government's steadfast stand that ArP is an integral part of India, and its strength in now cowing down to China, represent a great success. However, the stronger ties between China and India, the two emerging giants, has led to the creation of a new world order: BRIC.

 

The Middle East and North Africa

Indo-Israel ties grew further under the UPA, with more Israelis visiting India. India's participation in the US-sponsored Middle East peace talk was also an encouraging sign. Furthermore, the visit of the Syrian President to India in 2008 strengthened ties between Syria and India. Sadly, Indo-Iran ties took a colossal beating under the UPA, which voted against Iran twice at the IAEA, apparently under American pressure. Our cooperation in protecting democracy in Iraq has been next to nil.

 

Indo-Egypt ties have been redefined under the UPA, and Egypt remains India's top ally in the region. However, India has not done enough to encourage Egypt to provide humanitarian aid to those locked up in the Gaza Strip by Israel.

 

Africa

India utter negligence of the Darfur genocide has been the UPA's greatest failure. India's relationship with South Africa has grown well, and South Africa went on to support the Indo-US Nuclear Agreement and India's UNSC bid. India's recent Naval deployment, with the help of Oman, to battle pirates off Somalia was a masterstroke, ensuring safer passage for Indian traders. However, India's virtual indifference towards Zimbabwe and Mugabe's banana democracy deserves sharp criticism.

 

Overall, with a landmark Indo-Africa Summit held in New Delhi, India's cooperation with Africa has been the best in the world, second only to perhaps America.

 

The Americas

Indo-US ties grew like never before under the UPA, so much so that it was compared to Sino-US ties many decades ago. The historic 123 Agreement and expansion of Indian Businesses into America began to signal the rise of a new Asian giant. India and the US are now poised to show the world the path to democracy.

 

India's failure to stop pro-Khalistan demonstrations in Canada is just about its only failure in the Region. Indo-Brazil ties grew strongly, with India and Brazil jointly fighting for a UNSC seat. India's FTA with Chile marked the first such agreement India had with the region, and more are expected to follow. Lastly, the UPA's determination to engage Venezuela and Cuba for future trade deserves praise.

 

Europe

India and Europe, particularly Britain, have had some rough times before. Engaging former colonial masters was never easy. But the UPA did exceptionally well, with Manmohan Singh earning praise from top leaders, including Gordon Brown, Sarkozy and Angela Merkel. India's support to the EU, its desire to engage the region for fostering peace and its ability to create a better future in the face of a dark history: these are hallmarks of a successful European policy.

 

But even with smaller countries, India worked closely, if not successfully. The failure to convince the Scandinavian countries to support the 123 Agreement without US intervention is a key pitfall, while the Ministry's decision not to recognise Kosovo was well-timed and wise.

 

Associations

India's membership into important International associations and strengthening of SAARC were strategic successes for the Ministry. Today, India is a member of a number of groupings, including the all-important APEC and ASEAN, where India has an observer statues. India's status as an outreach nation in the G8 and the BRIC Arrangement signaled the beginning of a new world order, and the UPA Government has the rare distinction of leading India to the forefront of it. Lastly, the UPA's desire to foster greater trade among SAARC countries, and provide more assistance to Bangladesh, were achievements for India.

 

Overall, Pranab Mukherjee has proved to be a worthy Minister, politician and statesman. The image of him shaking hands with Condoleezza Rice while signing the 123 Agreement will be one of the defining pictures of the UPA.

 

The Ministry of External Affairs

General Performance: Very Good

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The NSG does not kill hostages!

I was sad and shocked to read that a representative of Israeli Humanitarian Aid group ZAKA had told the Jerusalem Post that he suspected India's NSG of killing some of the hostages in the Chabad Centre, Nariman House, in Mumbai during the 26/11 Attack.

Such insensitive words are quite shocking from a country which itself has faced the heat of Islamic terrorism for many years. Of course, this is not the Israeli Government (or the caretaker government) that has said this. Indeed, foreign minister Tzipi Livni seemed far more clear in her thought.

Random accusations of collateral damage does not do well. The Indian Establishment might as well have let the terrorists kill all the Jews living there. But Indians are not like that: we don't have blind hatred towards Jews. India has welcomed all cultures and civilisations, and Jews, like other groups, are free to obtain education and jobs in India and also practise and propagate their faith.

I don't think the slain Rabbi and his wife would have been very happy had they known such allegations were being made against India's bravest warriors. They preached love and peace, and I respect Jews for that.

Obama: India has right to chase terrorists

CNN reports that US President-Elect Barack Obama has pledged to support India in its war on terror and said that his heart reached out to the victims of the 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attack and their families. The attack has killed 173 lives, not including those of nine terrorists.

In an even greater statement, replying to a question on whether the US would let India attack militant camps in Pakistan without Islamabad's permission, the President-elect said that India, like all sovereign nations, had the right to defend its citizens. This reflects changing equations between the US and South Asia, with India emerging as the new American friend and ally.

Obama also said that South Asia would be his administration's top priority, particularly the war in Afghanistan and hunting down Osama bin Laden. Recently, Margret Albright described Pakistan as 'the perfect recipe for an International migraine.'

Obama made the comments during a ceremony in which he introduced his National Security Team, headed by Secretary of State-nominee Hillary Clinton.

Language Classes Soon?




WEEK 81 DAY 2

Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Dec. 2: Sources have told OTFS that the language lecturers have officially sent a request for language classes to be restarted for a few days so that the syllabus can be completed before the Pongal Holidays in January.

The language classes for S1/ISB were discontinued from August 1 in order to create more time fo an extra track in Chemistry, thanks to which S1 today is the only class to have completed the entire chemistry syllabus.

OTFS has also learned that Mr. Venkatesh, Sanskrit lecturer, has asked for 15 days, so that he could get at least 10. English lecturer Mrs. Latika requires even less than that. Whether the administartion agrees to the request or not is yet to be seen. S1. has not written any language tests since Aug. either.

JP Test
Students interested in writing the JP Mock BITSAT Examination can register themselves by paying Rs. 50 to the college. For those interested in BITSAT, it is a recommended exam. Furthermore, students should hand over their IITJEE forms by this week for mailing. (OTFS)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Clinton nominated Secretary of State

Mr. 'Minor Incident' Quits

Maharashtra Deputy CM RR Patil described the Mumbai 26/11 attack as a 'minor incident.' That set off a wave of anger against him, with online communities wondering how a man who was protected by bodyguards round the clock could be callous enough to say such a thing.

After tremendous pressure and the fear of political death, RR Patil has resigned today, handing over his resignation to NCP President Sharad Pawar. His resignation must now be forwarded to the Governor of Maharashtra.

Next on the dismissal line in the Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who has long been blamed for incompetence. However, public opinion against him is so strong right now that failure to resign might lead to a resounding defeat for the Congress in next year's Federal Elections and also state elections.

Yesterday, Federal Home Minister Shivraj Patil resigned, followed immense pressure from the public and his own allies. Finance Minister P Chidambaram will be taking his place, while Prime Minsuter-economist Manmohan Singh will take up additional charge of the Finance Ministry. Federal elections are just six months away, and failure to act now could be political suicide for the Congress.

Rice to Visit India

US President George W Bush has asked his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to cut short her visit to European capitals and visit New Delhi in the wake of the Mumbai Terror attack, the worst in history since 9/11.

Over the weekend, Rice called up Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and virtually ordered him to do cooperate with Indian investigators, so that they could follow the trail 'to wherever it led.'

Preliminary investigations show that the terrorists were from Pakistan and trained by the LeT, an al Qaeda affiliate that has been blamed for several attacks across Kashmir and the rest of India. There also seems to be a Bangladeshi link to the whole matter.

President-elect Barack Obama also spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said that he wanted to cooperate with India in the investigations. A team from Scotland Yard also arrived in India.

India and the US are stepping up the ante against Pakistan, where some of the world's most advanced anti-West, anti-India and anti-Israel Islamist groups continue to train militants. 

Friday, November 28, 2008

India's GDP Grows by 7.6%





PTI reports that India's GDP for the first half year of this financial year grew by 7.6%, in-line with the Central bank and the Government's estimates. The growth, the second-highest in the world in the face of a major recession, was mainly fueled by strong performance in services and construction. GDP growth in the corresponding period last year was at 9.3%.

Virtually all sectors, from manufacturing to agriculture to mining and electricity, faces a slowdown. Agriculture, which employs 60% of workers in India, grew by a mere 2.7% vs. 4.7% (YoY). However, trade, hotels, transport and communication grew by 10.8% vs. 11% (YoY), which is quite good.

The news is also accompanied by data that shows that WPI inflation fell to 8.84% from a year-high of over 12%. 

With the strong GDP growth and falling inflation, corporate India is hoping for a rate cut from the RBI. On this good news, the SENSEX was in the green today, above the 9,000 mark in spite of the terror siege in Mumbai. Shares of Tata were down.

AP in Financial Trouble

The Hindu reports that the Andhra Pradesh Government is facing a severe cash-crunch due to the global economic meltdown. The YSR Reddy-led Congress Government, which came to power in 2004 and will go into elections next year, strictly followed the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, which is a federal act that mandates that all states must eliminate budget deficits by 2008-09.

The AP Govt. has been extremely successful in this direction, having recorded a budget surplus for the last two years. So confident was the Government in its fiscal abilities that this year, Finance Minister K Rosaiah set a budget of Rs. 1 trillion, historic for an Indian state (the budgets of Bangladesh and Nepal are less that that. However, when it came to funding, the Government was betting on the sale of land worth Rs. 12,000 crore.

Sadly, due to the slowdown, the state has only earned Rs. 3,000 crore, a huge shortfall. Consequently, YSR Reddy went to Delhi to plead with the Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia for a year's exemption from the FRBM Act. This has been accepted as a genuine request from a state that is in trouble.

However, the AP Govt. is looking to raise funds on its own instead of borrowing from the Union Govt. or from the Reserve Bank of India.

Mercury Falling in Hyderabad

Cyclone Nisha, moving along the Tamil Nadu coast, has caused temperatures in Hyderabad to plummet.

Over the past few days, Hyderabadis have been waking up to abnormally cold temperatures, lowered further by chilling winds. According to the MET, cold winds blowing in from the North East have been the main reason for the sudden fall.

The Minimum temperature on Wednesday was as low as 15C (remember that India is a tropical country). To be precise, it was 14.8C. On Thursday, residents woke up to a rainy morning, and strong showers kept lashing the city throughout the day. The showers can be attributed to the Cyclone. The rain caused temperatures to fall further, and people donned sweaters and jackets to beat the cold. The power requirement also fizzled out.

Bang On

In its latest editorial, The Wall Street Journal, which has covered the Mumbai Terrorist Attack in great detail, made a strong and accurate case against the ruling UPA Government.IT accused the Government of having done next to nothing to counter the huge threat of terrorism.

The Journal criticised the political leadership, with the Congress often fighting with its alliance partners on how to tackle terrorism, but doing very little to actually tackle it. It warned that the UPA will pay a huge price at next year's general elections.

In a separate piece, a contributor criticised the Congress for having scrapped POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) and blocking similar legislation in various states, thereby impeding the anti-terror mechanism. Furthermore, India's intelligence agency is ill-equipped, under-staffer and under-funded. That makes India a soft target.

The Journal did miss some more politics though. ALready, Narendra Modi and Vilasrao Deshmukh are behaving like absolute children, playing politics. In AP, the President of the TDP N Chandrababu Naidu has begun blaming the UPA for all the miseries of the world, while the communal MIM has continued to raise its fingers towards the Mumbai ATS Chief (even though he is now a martyr).

That is India and Indian democracy: a stupid, bureaucratic system that has no patriotism and is corrupt from top to bottom. If it wasn't for the people, the country would have never survived.

All About Mumbai

WEEK 80 DAY 5


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Nov. 28: The raging topic of discussion in the college today was the Terrorist Strike in Mumbai, the largest of its kind since Independence and the most well-coordinated since 9/11.

Students in S1 had heated debates about it, from how the terrorists came into the Financial capital to the degree of Pakistani-connection. The students seemed well-informed about the incident, since most of them had spent the entire day glued to news channels.

The lecturers provided information whenever they could. 

Interestingly, 13 people were absent today, including three who left early. This can be attributed to the string rain caused by Cyclone Nisha. (OTFS)

'Another 9/11'


The growing condemnation of the terrorist attack on Mumbai from across the world has seen parallels being drawn between this attack and the 9/11 attack on the WTC in New York and the Pentagon.

Israel was the first to say that the attack was the worst ever since 9/11. Later through the day, security analysts and intelligence agencies said that the massive scale of coordination, the huge stash of ammunition and the sites of the attacks made it comparable in significance, if not magnitude, to 9/11.

From the Warzone

The NSG and the Army achieved a major success today by eliminating and killing all terrorists in the Hotel Oberoi Trident. Just a few hours ago, the forces also killed terrorists in Nirmal House, amid large crowds that proved difficult to control. Sadly, five Jews were killed there by the violence-embracing terrorists.

However, a raging war continues at the Taj Mahal Hotel, where an unknown number of terrorists are launching grenades and bullets at Indian forces.

All of India and the world have been closely watching the situation as it enters Day 3.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mumbai Attack: Taj Cleared






CNN-IBN reports that the NSG has successfully cleared the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, killing all terrorists and recovering a cell phone with a foreign SIM card. The team inside the hotel faced stiff resistance from the well-armed, well-trained terrorists, who ultimately lost because they were both outnumbered and out-witted. However, parts of the iconic hotel were damaged due to fire.

Meanwhile, the NSG and the Army are still battling it out in the Oberoi Trident Hotel, where a number of 'hostages' have already been freed. They say that they will continue into the night and will not stop until the terrorists are either killed or nabbed.

And lastly, the NSG is all set to take on terrorists at Nariman House, where a small Jewish family is being held hostage.

The Ministry of External Affairs has set up a control room. The phone numbers are: 91-11-23015300, 23012113, 23013537.

The fax number is 91-11-23018158.

Taj helpline numbers: 022 - 66574322, 66574372, 1800111825. Oberoi helpline number: 011-23890606

Mumbai Attacks: Facebook Reacts

The online community on Facebook has come out strongly condemning the terrorist attack on Mumbai. A communities such as We are Against the Terrorists Who Attacked Mumbai on Wednesday, 26/27 Nov.. have come up and membership is growing quickly.

Many angry users have called the terrorists evil forces and have expressed the desire to do something to protect the country. Others have blamed the Government for not doing anything to prevent this. 

Overall, the online community has been swift in responding to the crisis. Countless blogs have turned into realtime news websites, while others have posted details on helpline numbers. Prominent news websites NDTV.com and IBNLive.com sw an explosion of hits.

OTFS also joins the chorus and condemns the blasts. Terrorists will never win in India. They will have to kill all 1 billlion+ people to do that.

MUMBAI FACES TERRORIST WAR







India's economic capital Mumbai paid witness to the most devastating and audacious terrorist attack in Independent India's history. 

About 20-25 heavily armed terrorists, equipped with AK-47 rifles, GPS and credit cards, landed on the shores of Mumbai at the Gateway of India. This happened in the late hours of Wednesday, Nov. 26.

The gunmen started firing indiscriminately and killed several people at Cafe Leopold. They then hijacked a police car and shot bullets at virtually anything. Finally, they entered three buildings: The Taj mahal Hotel, an iconic monument, the Hotel Oberoi Trident and Nariman House, where a small Jewish community lives.

Several shootouts are taking place in the three buildings as we speak. Smoke can be seen billowing from the two hotels, while a Rabi and his family are being held hostage at the third site. According to police reports, 125 people have been killed and over 300 injured. That includes many foreigners, American and British nationals in particular.

Interestingly, the group seemed to have targeted such foreigners as eyewitnesses at the hotels revealed. Many witnesses who locked themselves up in the hotel were released by the Indian Army, but those being held hostage are in serious danger. The Indian Army and the National Security Guards (NSG) are coordinating the assault. The Indian Navy is surveying the adjoining sea and has said that it has captured the boat that carried the terrorists.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the attacks and assured that several steps would be taking to avoid such a situation in the future, including the establishment of a Federal Authority to tackle terrorism and the application of the powerful National Secuirty Act (NSA). He also hinted that 'outsiders' were involved in the incident, a euphemism for Islamic terrorist outfits in Pakistan who have long waged jihad (holy war) against India. Ironically, Pakistan PM YR Gilani condemned the attacks, but the fact that the Pakistani Government has no control over the thousands of Islamist groups functioning in Pakistan is well-established.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's office condemned the attacks, as did British PM Gordon Brown, NATO Secretary-General Scheffer, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Australian PM Kevin Rudd, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, representatives of Israel, Canada, France, Germany, Singapore, Sri Lanka and several other countries. US President-Elect Barack Obama issued a statement expressing deep grief over the attack and faith that Indian democracy would endure all.

NDTV now reports that, according to the Police, the terrorists are all suspected to be from Pakistan. As we speak, the encounter is still taking place and has now entered its second day. This massive attack on Mumbai has shocked the world.

[With inputs from Indian media, CNN International and BBC World]

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

20 Years Ago, A Legend was Born

New Delhi Television Ltd. started out as a small, private media production company, the first of its kind in India. It all began in November, 1988 with The World This Week, the only show on foreign affairs in India, on state-run DD

Then, in the late 90s, NDTV signed a deal with Rupert Murdoch's Star and launched India's first private news channel, Star News. Presenting English news, the channel covered all the important events, including 9/11. However, NDTV and Star discontinued their alliance.

Star News moved to being a Hindi News channel, and NDTV launched two of its own channels: NDTV 24x7, India's #1 English News Channel, and NDTV India, India's top Hindi News Channel. In 2005, it launched NDTV Profit, India's #1 Business News Channel. For a good period after that, the company stuck to news.

Then, it finally broke free from the news segments and launched India's first and best lifestyle channel, NDTV Goodtimes. But before that, the company had already gone International, launching Astro Awani in Indonesia and Malaysia, and NDTV Arabia in the iddle East-North Africa. 

Then, NDTV expanded even further into the non-news segment, launching NDTV Imagine, Imagine Showbiz and NDTV Lumiere. It also launched new ventures such as NDTV Labs. In 2008, NDTV signed a cooperation agreement with NBCU.

NDTV has tracked India from the early 90s onwards, giving an Indian perspective to the world. Today, every major National news channel is somehow associated with NDTV, be it CNN-IBN (Rajdeep Sardesai) or Times Now (Arnab Goswami). The channels has taken many risks, some of them paid off, some didn't. But it's future looks bright.

With great shows such as We, The People, The Big Fight and Documentary 24x7, and the high-quality journalism, NDTV seems all set to embrace the future.

(NDTV20 Series Concluded)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Those Days... of India



Amidst hatred, strife and blood, a nation was born. A nation built on democracy and pluralism. It shook, it faltered but it stood. But one day, the nation ended. Vikram, born into another generation, can still see the scars of those days. Those days... of India.

THIS IS PURELY A WORK OF FICTION






I hate funerals. They're long and sad. And the women cry a lot.

So why did I come to attend this one? Two reasons. One, I have to. That's the law in Gujarat: the King says so. Two, this was not any other relative, it was my grandfather. Not that I was very close to him - come now, how many of you can say you really loved all your relatives. But Kishan dadaji was different: he would always tell me stories. Stories of lands far away, of noisy cars and inspiring speeches.

"Oh, Vikram, you lazy boy! Don't just sit there, your aunt needs to drink some tea. Go and buy some milk, hurry!" You've probably guessed by now that that was my mother. I always do the chores, yet I'm the 'lazy boy.'

I always disliked walking on the streets of my grandfather's village, Surendranagar. I preferred the roads in Gandhinagar, where I lived. But of course, I really had no choice but to find some milk. Another problem with villages in the Kingdom of Gujarat is that you can never find a shop that sells anything, although if you search long and hard, you'll eventually find one.

Surendranagar is a strange village: it has strange, seemingly useless objects littered all around. No one ever cleans the place, so you can find pieces of old newspaper flying about in the wind. My grandfather used to collect old newspapers, and he left his entire collection of The Times of India (an old, out-of-business newspaper that I never read) to me. I might be able to make a quick buck off it, I suppose. 

It had been quite some time since I last visited the village, but it still looked the same. There were old banners strewn about some shops - all with Indian National Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party written on them. My grandfather told me about them once: they were these groups of people who held 'parties' and asked other people to kill their neighbours. He mentioned something about an 'Assembly' but I never saw such a thing.

Splat! A rotten newspaper just hit my face! The headline caught my attention though: INDIA DIVIDED AMONG MONARCHS, dated November, 2047. Oh, what an ancient date, I wonder why anybody would care for such old news!

"Oh, Vikram beta? So nice to see you again." It was Shakuntalaben, the village spinster and gossip-machine. She knew everything, or at least everything worth knowing. "Hello, Shakuntalaben, I'm here for dadaji's funeral."

"Oh, of course, how sad of him to die, that too just a day before he received the package he had been waiting for. Would you deliver it to your dadiji, please?" Curious, I took the package, sure to open it before handing it over. 

In Surendranagar, you have to be careful while walking, because some of the roads have collapsed statues of dead, unknown people. They were built decades ago, when the Kingdom was controlled by some people called MPs and MLAs. My grandfather told me about them: they would instigate violence among people and yet declare that all people were one. How strange! After many years of living under their cruel, tyrannical rule in the Kingdom of India (they called it a 'Republic'), the Kingdoms broke away and that's how Gujarat, my homeland, was born.

There are still some very old people in the village who lived under that cruel rule. For some reason, they seem to miss it and sing a particular song on 26 January every year. It goes something like 'Jana Gana...' I dislike it somewhat: we should be proud of our Kingdom and our King, not reminisce about some foregone state that seemed to be deeply divided anyway.

I finally found a shop that sold Tiranga Milk, the only brand my grandmother would drink (I have no idea why). Next to it was Lakhanbhai's antique shop. It was a long time since I last dropped by, so I decided to visit Lakhanbhai.

"Oh, how are you, Vikram? It's been a long time."

"Yes, bhaiya, it has. I'm doing quite well, I'm here to attend grandfather's funeral. Kingdom Laws and Customs and all, you know. So how has your business been doing? Any new artifacts?"

"Yes, have a look at this beauty. A granite pillar, carved with four lions and a chakra. Isn't it beautiful? I just hope it's a Hindu object, you know how the King dislikes objects of other religions."

"It's beautiful, I'm sure even the King would try to get hold of it! I'll met you later bhaiya, they're waiting for me back in dadiji's house."

On the way back home, I decided to take a shortcut. I wish I hadn't, because the shortcut passed by a wall that was covered in blood. Such sights are fairly common in Gujarat, they are scars of our Freedom Movement. Only after countless people were killed did we become an Independent Kingdom.

Once I reached back home, my mother was livid because I was late. But she hurried away to boil the milk. Meanwhile, I opened grandfather's secret package. It was a large tapestry, probably meant to be hung in his room. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to do that, though. For one, it was black-and-white, two colours that died out centuries ago. And second, it just had a picture of two men, whom I had never seen before.

The caption below it read - 'Mahatma Gandhi with Nehru, August 15, 1947.' My grandfather always had a taste for strange things.

Hillary Accepts?

The New York Times reports that Senator Hillary Clinton, one-time foe of President-elect Barack Obama, has accepted the post of Secretary of State after her finances and those of her husband's were scrutinised to make sure there is nothing questionabel in them.

Media reports over the last few days have indicated that Obama's transition team has been considering giving her the post, given her vast foreign policy experience and International stature.

The Secretary of State (currently Condoleezza Rice) heads of the Department of State, which handles all foreign affairs and dealings of the United States Government. 

Coup de Grand

WEEK 79 DAY 6


Sri Chaitanya IIT Academy, SR Nagar, Hyderabad, Nov. 22: In a monumental change of policy, the college administration has shaked up the balance of power in the IIT Academy. After a series of discussions, the post of Principal has been elevated to that of 'dean.' 

Each campus now has a Principal and a Vice Principal. In the IIT Academy, after a lot of heated debating, Maths lecturers Mr. Vara Prasad has been appointed the Principal while Mrs. Jhansi constinues to act as the Vice Principal. Effectively, they will have to share powers between themselves, with the Principal handling academic affairs and the VP taking care of administrative affairs. For her, it is a major fall from grace as students are no longer fully accountable to her.

Students were overjoyed at hearing the news, hoping that some much-needed change would be introduced. The shake-up ends years of one-person reign and brings to power a person who is deeply respected and loved by most students. Already, all of SI (ISB) has put its weight behind him. He will however, continue to teach.

How long the system will last before it becomes unstable is unclear as of now.

IITJEE Forms
The college has acquired forms for writing IITJEE-09. The forms and brochure, some of which have already been distributed in S1, are availbale in the Library and every students has to buy one. Each one costs Rs. 1000 (for boys) and Rs. 500 (for girls), plus Rs. 100 for postage. The brochure is of great importance and contains everything one needs to know.