Monday, March 28, 2011

India-Pakistan World Cup Semi-finals: The Buzz on Twitter is only Growing Louder

Looks like it's Wednesday Fever this week, all over the media. There is expectation in the air - along with anxiety, excitement, and even a thirst for each other's blood! Well, that's what is being made of the India-Pakistan Semi-finals of Cricket World Cup 2011, at the "encounter" at Mohali. Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN tweets: "after watching most of our news channels, feel we want to make it out to be world war 3. jingoism 'sells'. sad.". And features a story that reads: "Nothing is more important than Ind-Pak"!

Yes, this is Big - no doubting that. Anything associated with cricket is Big in India, and anything that has to do
with Pakistan triggers an odd combination of hormones spontaneously in the general public. And this is World Cup Semi-finals, featuring arch rivals India and Pakistan! As another prominent journalist, Barkha Dutt, has tweeted: "India & Pakistan are dysfunctionally fixated with each other. As Bono would say, Cant live with or without you". Now, with the Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani having been formally invited by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the India-Pakistan Semi-finals, there is pressure mounting on not just the players and people of India and Pakistan, but even those involved in organising the event and the security forces, who would be geared up for "World War 3"! 

Chill folks, this is a match. This is definitely THE match, but still, it is just a match. There was a commentator who said on Radio, "Lose the Finals, boys, but Win THIS one"! If you are not from India or Pakistan, you may not be able to actually feel it - but the mood is very much that of two nations all set for War! "India-Pakistan", "Mohali" and "Gilani" are three among the top ten trending topics in India on Twitter. Ever imagined "Gilani" being among top tweets in India? So, how would, or rather, why would people on either side of the border settle for the "this is just a match" theory? 

One has got to admit - this is NOT just another match, going by the popular sentiment that is fed liberally by the media fuel. There was a Tweet by a user: "News networks already going bonkers building up the India/Pakistan match. How can either team afford to lose?". That was, at the time of writing, a "Top Tweet", already Retweeted 12 times! It's getting HOT - and the "war" is still two days away! 

Rajdeep Sardesai tried to put things in perspective: "Pak manager intikhab alam bang on: says its a do or die match for both teams, but it aint war, and no one will be killed.". Well, hopefully so! In any case, Twitter is bound to be abuzz with live updates and do its bit to build it up beyond boiling point. It's not all in the game any more! 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

New Feature - "Clearway Theme"

Starting today, a new Section is introduced - "Clearway Theme", at the Top-right portion of this Blog. It would feature a series of links associated with a chosen theme. It could be a series of blog posts from this blog, it could be a list of web-sites associated with the theme, or it could be any on-line link in line with the chosen theme. 

There are no rules as to how long the theme will stay at Clearway, or how long the list would be. Themes would be chosen arbitrarily and randomly. And the themes would keep changing. For more information, why not check out "Clearway Theme"? 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Terrorism and the Power of Positive Change

What if, let's say, terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Tayiba, had opted for a Positive route instead, to attain their objectives?

Terrorism needs no introduction to mankind, and more so to the current generation of the species that has seen some of the bloodiest exhibitions of the phenomenon all around the world. While records are available for numerous trails of destruction, paved in history and drenched in blood, the latest threat is reported to be a Fidayeen Attack, targeting the most popular event in the world of Cricket, the Finals of Cricket World Cup 2011

It's unfortunate that Sports has always been caught in the firing line, either in the political twisters or in terror threats. But, irrespective of whether the stage set for terrorist attacks is a Sports event, the Parliament House, Mumbai or the World Trade Centre, irrespective of whether these are successful attacks, failed attempts, small-scale damage or large-scale destruction, ultimately, they all reflect the frustration, hatred and pent-up negative emotions in the human mind. Failed aspirations or incidents of perceived injustices faced in an imperfect world result in the almost inevitable and immediately available outlet to the skewed human mind - the negative channel. And there are always people and groups who want to exploit the angry, the ignorant, the deprived and the misled. Ideologies are misinterpreted, youth are misguided, and the confused are plain brain-washed. The results are armed people trained in mindless cruelty and savage brutality, ready to throw away their priceless lives with the sole intention of bringing misery and destruction to members of their own species.  

Terrorism has been on for ages, but the only results of the negative force have always been negative. The fact is, that there can never be a positive result out of a negative force. If the objective is to bring about positive change, it can never be achieved using negative means. However, despite abundant evidence through the ages, there are organisations, like Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Jamaat-e-Ahle-Sunnat, as reported in this particular terrorist threat to the World Cup Cricket Finals, that spill vital human energy into negative channels. What if, let's say, a terrorist organisation like Lashkar-e-Tayiba, had opted for a positive route instead, to attain whatever its objective is? Japan was mutilated in Hiroshima and Nagasaki with permanent marks and scars of massive destruction. What good would it have meant, if Japan had sought to rebuild its capacities and capabilities with the goal of striking back with vengeance? It did re-build, but what was at play was abundant positive energy. And this positive force made the difference that no negativity could have ever made to a nation that was virtually turned to rubble and ash. It is this resilience that springs out of positive force, which gives its people the courage and the determination to stand up to and overcome the current unprecedented contingency of Earthquake, Tsunami and the nasty nuclear leak that nature has imposed on it. 

That a Nation that has repeatedly borne the brunt of devastation has risen and will keep rebuilding its capabilities by the sheer force of positive energy, is sufficient evidence for an entire community of people, suffering from the pathetic disease of self-pity, deprivation and hatred, to renounce their path of self-destruction and channelise their mind powers into positive forces. If Jamaat-e-Ahle-Sunnat does comprise of scholars and people of religious knowledge, why would it want to be relegated to mere providing justifications for self-defeating violence, rather than lead and team up with other organisations with similar motives, and bring about the very positive change that it is elusively searching for, rather than through destructive means that are meant to be doomed by the very definition of Terrorism? 

It is the destiny of the human mind that the first, natural course that it takes when faced with resistance, is predominantly negative. The mind lacks the strength to resist and make its way through inevitable obstructions. But those who have a culture of channelising their energies positively and creating value from what was destroyed ruthlessly, like the Japanese, have reaped rewards time and again. Success becomes a winning habit and a positive culture thrives amidst the gravest adversity. Will the terrorist organisations learn from the likes of Japan to organise themselves positively? Positive change lies right behind them, but would they turn back and recognise change?      

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Allies Pound Libya: War and Objective - Who's in Control?

In over 6 years of talking of current affairs and in discussing matters that matter in India and, occasionally, around the world, this is the 150th Blog Post at Clearway. From its first post in October 2005, Clearway has travelled a while, and there is a possibility that it might have evolved over the years as well! Over time, with 150 discussions and commentaries, this blog has increasingly embraced an international tone, while the focus remained on India. And that, I believe, would be the way Clearway would continue to express itself, appreciating the good, reprimanding the bad, and cruising along at its own leisurely pace. 

Incidentally, this blog post does have an international flavour to it, where the world is watching Libya unfold, with Muammar Gaddafi in spotlight. It is international, given the host of nations that have been firing cruise missiles into locations that are considered strategic in Libya. And it is international, because this "war", unlike the War on Iraq, has its official stamp of recognition from the United Nations with the UN Resolution 1973. However, being international has its own problems, especially given the broad scope of the UN Resolution in this case.

The allies are free to take all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya from the grotesque forces and measures taken by the Libyan Leader, Muammar Gaddafi, to bomb and massacre his own people. The problem in this case, has to do with the objective. What do the measures encompass? What is the ultimate motive? Going to war with the idea of protecting civilians looks noble, but how is the motive to be achieved? Is Gaddafi himself a legitimate target? How would the allies know that the war has ended? Would it be brought to end with the overthrowing of Gaddafi, or does he have to be prosecuted or plain eliminated? Obama has stated that ground troops would not be deployed, and all attacks would be coordinated from the air and sea. So, how accurate are the targets that are being fired upon? There are reports that people out there in Libya themselves are not clear as to who the Loyalists are and who the Rebels are! How would the coalition know who is to be targeted? Reports show a clear division among Libyan people as pro-Gaddadfi supporters and the opponents. With a cohort of allies firing from the air and from sub-marines at targets that may not be clear-cut in the first place, is Libya heading towards a perennial Civil War, in yet another long drawn campaign by the West in Middle East Asia? How many civilian casualties are to be expected out of the attacks, and how many would be within "tolerable limits"? And who is to blame for collateral damage? 

The Wikileaks video "Collateral Murder" was a graphic portrayal of how civilians could fall prey, caught in the cross-fire and being wrongly identified as terrorists by impatient snipers on the prowl. Where does the accountability in an attack by a coalition lie? Who is in control, when the US says it would transfer authority to NATO after an initial phase of attacks? And how would the allies know that the mission has been accomplished, when there is confusion with regard to the very mission that has been under way rather swiftly, immediately after the UN Resolution was passed?

There may not be much room for illegitimacy in the allies' decision to act, given the gravity of the situation that has been depicted of in Libya. But the issue lies with the execution of a rather hazy objective that even people in responsible positions involved in the execution do not seem to be very clear about. Firing thousands of missiles from hundreds of miles away with no back-up on the ground to do reconnaissance activities and guide them on to the right targets doesn't sound like sound strategy from the outset. And given the state of the economy that the West find themselves in now, winding up in Iraq, re-building Afghanistan and starting afresh in Libya is bound to be a strain, even if the nations involved are among the most affluent in the world. The BBC report, titled "Each Missile Costs a Million" may not be happy reading for the Exchequer, when the missiles keep cruising without knowing whom they're going to kiss! 

The questions are definitely not exhaustive. And clearly, given the ambiguous scope of the exercise, the wider repercussions for the entire region, the uncertainty and the risks involved in the operations, and given the budget commitments for the Western economies that are still limping back from recession, there are enormous  costs involved, both in terms of finances and collateral damage. Still, action had to be taken - and it's war again!