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America’s Secret Police: Who’s in control of CIA? Anyone here …

Can the CIA simply tell the American Secretary of State, that their position and authority is irrelevant – if it clashes with CIA-operations..

Over the last 40 years, the mantle of Spook King has passed on from Hoover's FBI to Director-CIA  |  Cartoonist Christopher Weyant in 2007 on CIA

Over the last 40 years, the mantle of Spook King has passed on from Hoover’s FBI to Director-CIA | Cartoonist Christopher Weyant in 2007 on CIA

I

f the ISI Chief in Pakistan were to assert his authority over the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, no one will be either shocked or surprised.

Take A Walk …

If the Israeli Mossad were to push their point of view over Israel’s Foreign Minister, it would not raise too many eyebrows.

Can the MI6 in Britain question the authority of the British Foreign Minister? Media reports make it seem unlikely.

Can the head of RAW question the policy and authority of India’s Home Minister or Foreign Minister? Such a situation has never been examined or discussed in public, by the media or polity.

But, the CIA can simply tell the American Secretary of State, that their position and authority is irrelevant – if it clashes with CIA-operations.This is what has been reported by the American newspaper, New York Times.

The perils of this approach were laid bare on March 17, 2011, the day after Davis was released from prison and spirited out of the country. C.I.A. drones attacked a tribal council meeting in the village of Datta Khel, in North Waziristan, killing dozens of men. Ambassador Munter and some at the Pentagon thought the timing of the strike was disastrous, and some American officials suspected that the massive strike was the C.I.A. venting its anger about the Davis episode. More important, however, many American officials believed that the strike was botched, and that dozens of people died who shouldn’t have.

Other American officials came to the C.I.A.’s defense, saying that the tribal gathering was in fact a meeting of senior militants and therefore a legitimate target. But the drone strike unleashed a furious response in Pakistan, and street protests in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar forced the temporary closure of American consulates in those cities.

Munter said he believed that the C.I.A. was being reckless and that his position as ambassador was becoming untenable. His relationship with the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad, already strained because of their disagreements over the handling of the Davis case, deteriorated even further when Munter demanded that the C.I.A. give him the chance to call off specific missile strikes. During one screaming match between the two men, Munter tried to make sure the station chief knew who was in charge, only to be reminded of who really held the power in Pakistan.

“You’re not the ambassador!” Munter shouted.

“You’re right, and I don’t want to be the ambassador,” the station chief replied.

This turf battle spread to Washington, and a month after Bin Laden was killed, President Obama’s top advisers were arguing in a National Security Council meeting over who really was in charge in Pakistan. At the June 2011 meeting, Munter, who participated via secure video link, began making his case that he should have veto power over specific drone strikes.

Panetta cut Munter off, telling him that the C.I.A. had the authority to do what it wanted in Pakistan. It didn’t need to get the ambassador’s approval for anything.

“I don’t work for you,” Panetta told Munter, according to several people at the meeting.

But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came to Munter’s defense. She turned to Panetta and told him that he was wrong to assume he could steamroll the ambassador and launch strikes against his approval.

“No, Hillary,” Panetta said, “it’s you who are flat wrong.”

There was a stunned silence, and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon tried to regain control of the meeting. In the weeks that followed, Donilon brokered a compromise of sorts: Munter would be allowed to object to specific drone strikes, but the C.I.A. could still press its case to the White House and get approval for strikes even over the ambassador’s objections. Obama’s C.I.A. had, in essence, won yet again.

via How Raymond Davis Helped Turn Pakistan Against the United States – NYTimes.com.

How serious is this?

After reading this excerpt, the question that came to my mind was – How important is the US Secretary of State?

Well …

With the Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General, the US Secretary of State are regarded as the four most important members of the US cabinet, headed by the POTUS.

But this history is not surprising.

Looking back …

J Edgar Hoover was probably the most powerful man of 20th century, who no one knew. Founder-Director of FBI, from May 10, 1924, till his death on May 2, 1972, Edgar Hoover ‘persuaded’ twelve US President’s to let him continue as FBI Director.

With a file on everyone, from John Lennon to JFK, Edgar answered to one.

During Hoover’s reign over FBI, the world was regularly fed with sleaze-and-scam about the CIA.

We now have a CIA that ‘approves’ criticism by the media on the US-President. Globally respected newspapers like the nytimes.com submit their stories to CIA for pre-clearance from CIA.

Coming Back To Pakistan

More people are killed due to gun-related violence in the US than in Pakistan.

Christian fidayeen killers roam schools, theaters, shopping malls, killing other Christians – just like in Pakistan.

People in US are proposing that US schools should become Christian madarsas – similar to Taliban proposals in Pakistan.

There have been cases in Pakistan and USA, where differences in political opinion were settled using guns – instead of ideas and words.

Thick wall of currency apart, what is the difference between US and Pakistan?



Wikileaks: Why Pranab was Replaced by Saint Anthony

Power politics is an expensive activity – and I have no clue where in the world we have got that this notion that fund raising in politics is corruption?.

Congress has not won an election on merit after 1980. Rajiv Gandhi's victory in 1984 was a sympathy vote after his mother's assasination.  |  Ajit Ninan cartoon in ToI, Ahmedabad on 10th September 2011

Congress has not won an election on merit after 1980. Rajiv Gandhi’s victory in 1984 was a sympathy vote after his mother’s assasination. | Ajit Ninan cartoon in ToI, Ahmedabad on 10th September 2011

2006 October 26, 13:07 (Thursday)

Classified By: PolCouns Ted Osius for reasons 1.4 (B,D) 1. (U)

In an October 23 cabinet reshuffle, President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam named Former Chief Minister of Kerala A.K. Antony Minister of Defense.

Our sources tell us that Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi and PM Singh needed to get Pranab Mukherjee out of his post as Minister of Defense because he was not sufficiently zealous in raising funds for the party. Mukherjee finally accepted the move after receiving reassurances that he would remain in charge of the many Ministerial Committees that help him maintain his domestic power base. The shift of Mukherjee to External Affairs left open the post of Minister of Defense, which A.K. Antony accepted.

Antony’s opponents question his ability to thrive in this high level, high profile position. His reputation for integrity is expected to slow down pending deals, as Antony learns the ropes and carefully examines all contracts, including pending arms deals with the U.S. Antony will bring much needed probity to defense acquisitions just before a large number of big deals are about to be considered. However, Antony faces a tough challenge since he will be functioning under the shadow of Mukherjee and under pressure from the heads of the army, navy, and air force, all of whom want to replace dated equipment. Managing these personalities will be a challenge for Antony.

via Cable: 06NEWDELHI7358_a.

So, does this mean that Saint Anthony has been more cooperative with Sonia-Singh in fund raising?

Such a silly message. It starts with Pranab not raising enough for the Congress. Was Anthony selected to replace Pranab to further increase difficulty of fund-raising?

Why would a ‘corrupt’ Pranab be less cooperative or Saint Anthony be less committed to fund raising? These are just silly stories, built over time, based more on style of fund-raising rather than corrupt or not corrupt.

Power politics is an expensive activity – and I have no clue where in the world we have got that this notion that fund raising in politics is corruption?

At least by Indian varnashrama dharma, rulers (kshatriyas) were in charge of large treasuries – which had to be emptied periodically with yagnas like Raysuya, Ashwamedha, etc.

These modern political affectations do nothing but raise discontent!


Can The Agriculture System Of The Developed West Feed the World?

Western farmers get more subsidy than the GDP of 125 countries in the world.

Used food tins with overwhelming propaganda branding stacked near the town of Dadaab, Kenya, on Tuesday, July 26, 2011. |  Image source - AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam; courtesy - theatlantic.com

Used food tins with overwhelming propaganda branding stacked near the town of Dadaab, Kenya, on Tuesday, July 26, 2011. | Image source – AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam; courtesy – theatlantic.com

Looking at butter mountains, lakes of wine and milk, in Europe and US after the starvation and famine in Africa, it can be easy to jump to wrong conclusions.

Just 60 years ago, Europe was dependent on food imports – and was on limited rations.

Food aid is frequently a market seeding program to create markets for Western food multinationals. A Somali refugee with a high-energy biscuit at the Ifo refugee camp on July 24, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya.  |  Image source - Oli Scarff/Getty Images; courtesy - theatlantic.com

Food aid is frequently a market seeding program to create markets for Western food multinationals. A Somali refugee with a high-energy biscuit at the Ifo refugee camp on July 24, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya. | Image source – Oli Scarff/Getty Images; courtesy – theatlantic.com

Today the story is different.

The price of a ton of skimmed-milk powder, which in the summer of 2007 was above €3,000, had fallen roughly in half. In Germany it is currently around €1,400.

Farmers had been hit by a slump in demand for commodities caused by the global financial slowdown, and by the strength of the euro.

“We export a lot to Russia in terms of butter, cheese to the United States and milk powder to Africa and Asia, and all these are hit by the strength of the euro”.

Though the EU managed to dispense with its butter stocks in 2007, grain mountains and wine lakes still exist.

The latest figures show that 717,810 tons of cereals is piling up, along with 41,422 tons of sugar and 2.3 million hectoliters of wine, according to the European Commission.

via EU’s butter mountain is back – The New York Times.

Graphic source & courtesy - economist.com on Jul 1st 2010

Graphic source & courtesy – economist.com on Jul 1st 2010

Currently, there is belief that food shortages in the West were an exception – maybe even an aberration.

This confidence and belief has grown to the extent that the West seriously asks itself.

“But can we feed the world this way?”

following World War II, with the onset of the “Green Revolution,” feeding the world became a national mantra. It was a ubiquitous “good” that handily justified the discovery that the petrochemicals used in warfare could find postwar applications if dumped on our food supply.

However, 75 or 100 years ago, such a question would never have entered into our dialogue. To ask a local farmer or homesteader how his or her production methods were going to feed the world would have been absurd. The local producer’s job was to support the family, the community, and his or her bioregion–not the world.

Feeding the world” was the background tune playing in the bank, on the car radio of the seed salesman, in the office of the accountant as farmers were counseled to “get big or get out,” to expand their production and change their growing practices to participate in a global food supply, rather than a regional one.

Can the local, sustainable food movement in the United States feed the world? Hell, no. Nor can the industrial agricultural paradigm. No one can feed the world. One country cannot do it, nor can any specific model of production.

Thus, I leave you with one question: What can you do today that will enable the world to feed itself?

via The Downside of Expecting America’s Agriculture System to Feed the World | Alternet.

As Europe & US play out a charade of negotiations, it is Africa and Asia which is suffering from food shortages. | Cartoon by Peter Nicholson; on July 5, 2005; source & courtesy - nicholsoncartoons.com

As Europe & US play out a charade of negotiations, it is Africa and Asia which is suffering from food shortages. | Cartoon by Peter Nicholson; on July 5, 2005; source & courtesy – nicholsoncartoons.com

Truthfully?

Forget about the world. Forget about pollution, environment, green-planet, ecology, rain forests et al.

Think of yourself.

Between the US and the EU, the agricultural system gets close to US$100 billion dollars. Western farmers get more subsidy than the GDP of 125 countries in the world.

Western governments subsidize their farmers by a sum greater than the GDP of countries like Morocco, Oman, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Kenya, Libya, Tanzania among many others.

The West can afford this subsidy regime for now. One more crisis like the ongoing Great Recession – and these subsidies will have to go. When agricultural subsidies to Western farmers go, food from dinner tables across the West will also vanish. As subsidies decline, Western consumers may see food shortages and nearly 50% increase in food prices.

Go.

Worry about that.

Levels of total farm income and total subsidy over the years in the US

Levels of total farm income and total subsidy over the years in the US


Rage, Anxiety In The West: BRICS Must Be Doing Something Right

April 2, 2013 2 comments

If corruption is all about cornering wealth, power and resources, look at concentration of power.

Is the West assuming leadership of the global financial system, so that they can pervert the system like this?  |  Tom Toles, in washingtonpost.com on 18 Mar 2010

Is the West assuming leadership of the global financial system, so that they can pervert the system like this? | Tom Toles, in washingtonpost.com on 18 Mar 2010

The day-after BRICS announced their plan to start a BRICS Development Bank in New Delhi last year, reactions in Western media barely concealed anger at the BRICS proposal.

Sample this.

Outside endemic corruption, uncertain or wholly absent rule of law, and relatively low per capita income and life expectancy, there wouldn’t appear to be much that unites this disparate collection of nations. But there are at least two things that do – high growth and trade.

via Why a Brics-built bank to rival the IMF is doomed to fail – Telegraph.

See this statement in wider context.

Rule of Law

On the rule of law, I would agree.The is West is truly the land of law.

Between the US and EU, on a population base of little over 80 crores, the West has about 27 lakh (2.7 million) prisoners – EU (total pop. 50 cr.; prison pop. – 6.07 lakh) and the USA (total pop. 31 cr.; prison pop. 21 lakh). With 27 lakh prisoners, the West is a world leader in imprisonment. Coincidentally, the West labels itself as the Free World.

Graphic source and courtesy – economist.com.

Graphic source and courtesy – economist.com.

Exclude children, the old and women from the population ‘eligible’ for imprisonment, we are left with around 27 crore adult males. This would mean that one out of every hundred Western males is in prison.

Comparably, in India, with an overall population of 120 crores, the numbers in prison is around 3 lakhs. Of the nearly 30 crore males, India has just 3 lakhs in prison. Just one in thousand, adult Indian male is in prison.

To enforce the rule of law, the West has also become a Prisoner Planet. Is that what is missing in BRICS? Brazil and Russia have lower imprisonment rates, compared to the US – but it is still high compared to India.

No, thanks!

Corruption … or Collusion

On the matter of corruption, again he is  right.

After the rule of law, with strict rules about libel and slander, corruption cannot see the light of day. But if corruption is all about cornering wealth, power and resources, look at the

The West-dominated global financial system has pioneered a system that depends on mass-employment, low-entrepreneurial activity, excess production coupled with excess pollution and waste.  |  2003 Cartoon by David Baldinger

The West-dominated global financial system has pioneered a system that depends on mass-employment, low-entrepreneurial activity, excess production coupled with excess pollution and waste. | 2003 Cartoon by David Baldinger

Concentration Of Power

How does one measure concentration of power.

Today the most popular method is the Fortune /Forbes /Businessweek /FT 500 listing of Top corporates.

These listings demonstrate that half the world’s economic output is controlled by about 5000 companies run by about 25,000 individuals. Add another 25,000 politicians and bureaucrats. We have about 50,000 people controlling the lives of 800 billion people of the West – and influencing the lives of non-Western societies.

Between the mega-corporations and State, 60%-75% of the work force is employed or paid for being unemployed.

In some of the inefficient states like India, mega-corporations and the State employ less than 3 crore people – which is less than 5% of the Indian labour force.

Forget Western correspondents, there are quite a few NRI chelas for such Western journalists. Like Hong-Kong based, Venky ‘Chumboo’ Vembu. (Don’t know what Chumboo is? Never mind, Vembu knows what chumboo is).

To get an unprovoked reaction of rage and anger, BRICS must be doing something right.

More power to BRICS.


Land Of Fear, Home To The Cowering

April 1, 2013 10 comments

Can a judicial system work, if lawyers are afraid of criticizing the judges? What use is a lawyer who is afraid of a judge?.

Fear Stalks The Land  |  Emotional Flow Chart By Andy Singer, Politicalcartoons.com  -  5/18/2012 12:00:00 AM

Fear Stalks The Land | Emotional Flow Chart By Andy Singer, Politicalcartoons.com – 5/18/2012 12:00:00 AM

In the last 6 months, two readers of 2ndlook, from the US, on a visit to India, requested for a meeting with me.

Coming in from the cold

One was a young Indian software engineer, in his twenties, just starting off in his career – and confused. The second was a Brown American techpreneur, around fifty years of age.

The young person requested that no details of his visit and meeting should be written – because he was afraid. Afraid of being a 2ndlook reader. Since 2ndlook blogs are ‘anti-West’ this young man was afraid that he could be trouble in the US, for reading 2ndlook.

The Brown American techpreneur, when confronted on why there is constant dribble of drooling criticism on India replied, ‘I cannot criticize America. Let us face it, I am afraid.’

Both of them were discussing what should be done to ‘help’ India. To the first one, was a simple advice. If you are successful, India is successful.

To the Brown American was again simple advice – ‘Don’t worry about India. We will manage. Very well, without your help.’

Fear is the key

Now the common factor in both cases was the fear. Real palpable fear.

2ndlook having been criticized or being anti-Yummrika, I ignored both these incidents. Since, the role of the Big Brother State has been covered extensively in 2ndlook, these fears are not groundless.

Now read this.

Reacting to a speech by SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia,

“That speech … is unimaginably injudicious,” wrote a lawyer in an e-mail to AlterNet who did not want to be named because he appears in federal court.

via Is Scalia the most vile person in Washington? – Salon.com.

Can you imagine any Indian lawyer not wanting his name in the newspaper or appear on TV – while discussing or criticizing a judgement.

Can a judicial system work, if lawyers are afraid of criticizing the judges? What use is a lawyer who is afraid of a judge?

Lawyers are supposed to take on the judges, the prosecutor from the government and make points for his client – without fear or favor.

Something is indeed rotten in the State of …


Elections In Pakistan: What Can, What If, What’s Up?

March 31, 2013 2 comments

Pakistani media and polity seem to be addressing mostly urban issues. How will the rural voter respond?

Phuttt, phutt, phut ...! This is a make or break election for Pakistan. Probably the best organized  |  Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on March 30, 2013; image source & courtesy - tribune.com.pk

Phuttt, phutt, phut …! This is a make or break election for Pakistan. Probably the best organized | Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on March 30, 2013; image source & courtesy – tribune.com.pk

Pakistan attracts stereotypes to the mind like a swarm of flies.

Inviting Images

Among others, civil war, terrorism, bomb blasts, fundamentalist Islam are common stereotypes about Pakistan. Some of these stereotypes are valid – and some are downright irrelevant.

For instance, more people die in the US due to gun-related violence compared to Pakistan. For another, it is worthwhile to remember and understand that Pakistan has never (in its limited election history) elected a fundamentalist party.

The different sides of Pakistani Polity  |  Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on August 25, 2008; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

The different sides of Pakistani Polity | Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on August 25, 2008; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

This will be the first time in Pakistan’s troubled history that an election will pave the way for transfer of power – and not a coup or martial law. For the first time in nearly seventy years, Pakistan has evaded the ritualized murder of Pakistani polity by the Pakistani army.

The short-shrift given by Pakistan’s power centres to orderly elections and transfer of power is not a stereotype.

This Sauce is Different

The three most significant differences in this election, compared to previous elections are in the manner that Pakistan’s polity has acted to protect the poll outcome. It seems unlikely that there will be any significant post-poll dissonance due to three measures.

Who will do the electioneering for PPP - with Bilawal out of the country?  |  Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on March 28, 2013; image source & courtesy - tribune.com.pk

Who will do the electioneering for PPP – with Bilawal out of the country? | Cartoon by Sabir Nazar on March 28, 2013; image source & courtesy – tribune.com.pk

It does seem like this will be an election that Pakistan will be proud of.

One – is the appointment of a non-competitive caretaker administration at national level – headed by retired Justice Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, and at the provincial level in Punjab with the appointment of Najam Sethi.

Two – Voter lists have been rigorously updated. Some 3.5 crore voter records were found invalid and deleted – and some 3.9 crore new voters added.

Three – The centre of debate is Pakistan’s economy. Nawaz Sharif is talking of an economic explosion – unlike the nuclear explosion last time. PPP is depending on an income-support scheme for the poor that they have implemented. Imran Khan’s 6-promises are all about bringing peace back to the nation. It has been speculated that the Iran-Pakistan oil pipeline agreement signed by the ruling-PPParty, is to reassure restive voters that it has a solution for electricity shortages plaguing Pakistan.

Pakistani media and polity seem to be addressing mostly urban issues.  |  Cartoon by Zahoor on February 03, 2010; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

Pakistani media and polity seem to be addressing mostly urban issues. | Cartoon by Zahoor on February 03, 2010; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Is Popularity Enough?

Imran Khan is by far ahead of all other leaders in Pakistan in terms of personal popularity. His first rally after elections were notified, attracted 1-lakh people – closer to 1.5-lakh people according to some other estimates.

Will Imran Khan’s popularity convert into votes?

In India, for decades, election rallies by Nehru-Gandhi family, starting with Indira Gandhi could attract voters for election rallies – but after 1989 elections has not been able to convert voter turnout into votes.

Is Imran facing a similar challenge? Equally, many popular leaders have converted their personal popularity to votes – especially in South India.

Look Who’s Talking

Radio Pakistan seems to be giving good coverage to Imran Khan going by these tweets.

Print media and Pakistan’s huge satire ‘industry’ however is quite dismissive of Imran Khan. Including the like of MajorlyProfound (now probably under the handle of majorlyp).

https://twitter.com/InvincibleHeart/status/317651280866721792

Many from the English-media are quite dismissive of Imran Khan

Apparently, Musharraf has lived up to his earlier threats. He has returned - to what? A nation that cannot imagine a role for him?  |  Cartoon by Zahoor on August 15, 2009; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

Apparently, Musharraf has lived up to his earlier threats. He has returned – to what? A nation that cannot imagine a role for him? | Cartoon by Zahoor on August 15, 2009; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Gear Ratios In A Democracy

PPP may get more women’s votes due to BISP income support scheme. Imran Khan has connected to Pakistan’s youth. Nawaz Sharif is appealing the mature male voter who wants the Pakistan economy to do better. None of these constituencies form a majority.

Finally, the winner may be the party that can get its constituents to come and vote at the polling booth.

The Players

Ex-general Musharraf seems to be n0n-starter and non-entity in Pakistan.

Pakistanis sought to drive home the point that Indians held the former Army chief in greater esteem that his own fellow nationals.

The kind of media coverage his return got in India, and the frequency with which he appears on Indian television channels and gets invited to conclaves organised by the media across the border has raised eyebrows here often enough

via Proud of Kargil operation, says Musharraf – The Hindu.

Which political unit is connecting to this Pakistani?  |  Cartoon by Zahoor on March 03, 2006; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

Which political unit is connecting to this Pakistani? | Cartoon by Zahoor on March 03, 2006; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Interestingly, Imran Khan’s campaign is well-funded according to some reports.

They were drawn from all over the country through a well-financed and heavily advertised campaign. But they were also drawn, they said, by a simple yet nebulous message. “We want change,”

via Pakistan: Ex-Cricket Star, Ex-President Kick Off Election Campaign | TIME.com.

Imran  Khan’s acceptance by Pashtuns, FATA, Pakhtunkhwa makes him a rare leader with acceptance across various segments.

There are concerns among some of Khan’s supporters about his attitude to the Pakistani Taliban – wanting to negotiate with them – and the decision to work with the Jamaat-e-Islami, a hard-line religious party. But the mere fact that he represents a political force that hasn’t been compromised by power works in his favor — as does Khan’s celebrity. “He won us the Cricket World Cup,” says Shah, “he built us a cancer hospital, and he’s really good looking.”

via Pakistan: Ex-Cricket Star, Ex-President Kick Off Election Campaign | TIME.com.

Will this man get taken in shiny projects?  |  Cartoon by Zahoor on November 22, 2005; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

Will this man get taken in shiny projects? | Cartoon by Zahoor on November 22, 2005; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Numbers talk you know …

After 2ndlook called the 2009 Indian election correctly, among many other correct calls, encourages 2ndlook make an attempt at reading Pakistan’s election.

Sixty and seven months ago, when Musharraf was on rampage in Pakistan and Imran Khan was no one in Pakistan’s politics, 2ndlook examined the idea of Imran Khan’s rise in Pakistan.

  1. It is worthwhile to remember and understand that Pakistan has never (in its limited election history) elected a fundamentalist party – unlike say, Egypt.
  2. Since none of the three main players are making a fundamentalist Islamic pitch, this factor will affect no one – except some fringe parties.
  3. What if Imran-PTI consolidate the fringe-parties vote banks – and eat into PPP+PMLN? To me this model of voter behaviour, seems more likely than the static vote bank of PPP+PMLN theory.
  4. In this election, the main contenders, as per opinion polls in descending order are Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN (32%), Imran Khan’s PTI (18%) and Zardari’s PPP (14%).
  5. Not many have tried to make a model for opinion polls in Pakistan – which remain unreliable and have limited value. With this caveat made, raw data seems to suggest that PMLN-Nawaz Sharif are in a pole position for this election.
  6. Most of election analysis stops at Pakistan’s urban centres – while 60% of Pakistani voters are rural. Nawaz Sharif’s Lahore Metro Bus implementation in 11-months has made many political parties nervous. But will the rural Pakistani be impressed?
  7. Will PPP’s BISP attract more rural voters than Imran’s tsunami? Remember, how Chandrababu Naidu paid a price for ignoring the rural voter.
  8. After the fresh voter enrollment, nearly half of Pakistani voters now listed, have not voted before. Since most of these young voters are young, they are likely to be drawn towards Imran-PTI.
  9. Will the Lahore Metro make a difference to Nawaz Sharif? Outside Lahore? Seems unlikely.

Keeping the above factors in mind, what are the likely outcomes.

In the name of the poor and dispossessed ... |  Cartoon by Zahoor on September 02, 2008; image source & courtesy - dailytimes.com.pk

In the name of the poor and dispossessed … | Cartoon by Zahoor on September 02, 2008; image source & courtesy – dailytimes.com.pk

Scenario-1

Imran-PTI emerge as the single-largest party, with a thin majority – or miss becoming the single largest party by a few seats. Imran dithers. Announces that he will sit in the opposition, as he does not have a clear mandate. PTI MPs defect or PTI splits. Most likely PPP wins over the defector faction. Makes a claim to form government. Zardari agrees. Protests engulf Pakistan.

Scenario-2

As per opinion polls, PMLN emerges as the single largest party. Wins over MPs from PTI-Imran and others. Forms government.

Scenario-3

Opposite of opinion polls, PPP emerges as the single largest party – riding on women’s vote. Wins over MPs from PTI-Imran, PMLN and others. Forms government.

Senario-4

One of the three main parties gets a parliamentary majority – and forms the government. Seems like the most unlikely scenario.

Seemingly, Imran is preparing for a narrow victory. Most importantly, is Imran preparing for a narrow loss?


Mother Teresa’s Legacy: Under a Cloud

January 31, 2013 5 comments

Why this strange acceptance towards Christian fraud and contempt towards ‘Hindu’ India?

Organized Religion, Organized Charity is Organized Fraud  |  Jeff Koterba Cartoon on August 30, 2010

Organized Religion, Organized Charity is Organized Fraud | Jeff Koterba Cartoon on August 30, 2010

Mother Teresa raised millions, if not billions in the name of Kolkatta’s poorest – and India’s poor.

From this exhibition of India’s poor and poverty, less than 7% of the total ‘take’ was spent on people in whose name this money was raised.

If any Muslim ‘missionary’ had done this, wonder what level of outrage this country would have felt.

But Indians have developed a strange acceptance towards this kind of Christian fraud and contempt towards ‘Hindu’ India.

Mother Teresa (Cartoon by John Spooner; Cartoon courtesy - http://www.chrysalis.com.au)

Mother Teresa (Cartoon by John Spooner; Cartoon courtesy – http://www.chrysalis.com.au)

For years now, there has been a malignant growth of Christian-Western NGO funding – known and documented for the last 8 years – at least.

Coming back to Mother Teresa.

Social workers all around the world have drawn inspiration from her work and commitment to her cause. Yet, today in her centennial year, her legacy has lost its shine and is in disrepair. Located in one of the lanes of Taltala, home to lower class workers in west Kolkata, it is calm and pious, a world away from the cacophony outside on the busy A.J.C. Bose road.

But the cacophony is threatening to spill inside the Missionaries. Followers and volunteers are questioning the quality of service given in the care centres. They feel the Missionaries’ care centres are allergic to using modern-day therapy and technology to care for the inhabitants. Often untrained volunteers are given tasks that would normally require one to be trained in medicine and therapy. Missionaries has always kept change at bay. But in a world where it is very difficult to hide behind secrecy, the number of disillusioned followers is increasing. Missionaries doesn’t keep a tab on the financial transactions that take place. No one other than the sisters knows where the money that is donated is spent. Donations continue to pour in but people are asking for transparency on how the money is used.

The discord is most pronounced in the first home that Mother Teresa set up in 1952 — Nirmal Hriday, the Home for Dying Destitutes. A former rest house for followers from the nearby temple of Goddess Kali, the Home is a perfect picture for the work that Missionaries is known for. Disabled, disfigured and homeless men and women, many of whom are living their last days, find shelter here. It presently has 99 inmates, served by six sisters and dozens of volunteers, mostly young foreigners. The poor are bathed, clothed and fed until they recover and leave, or die. “Over the years, 86,170 people have been admitted. Of which 34,815 died,” says Sister Glenda, the head of Nirmal Hriday. It was Mother’s favourite home.

It is the kind of work that inspired Hemley Gonzalez, who lived on the other side of the world in Miami, United States. A migrant from Cuba, Gonzalez had grown up in a poor neighbourhood and was inspired after reading a biography of Mother Teresa. Gonzales, who runs a real estate business in Miami, reached Kolkata in December 2008 and stayed for two months.

“I was shocked to see the negligence. Needles were washed in cold water and reused and expired medicines were given to the inmates. There were people who had chance to live if given proper care,” says Hemley. He narrates incidents of an untrained volunteer wrongly feeding a paralysed inmate, who choked to his death; and another where an infected toe of an inmate was cut without anesthesia. “I have decided to go back to Kolkata to start a charity that will be called ‘Responsible Charity.’ Each donation will be made public and professional medical help will be given,” says Hemley, who now runs a campaign on Facebook called ‘Stop Missionaries of Charity,’ and has over 2,000 members.

“We should remember that Mother Teresa was clear that Missionaries of Charity was not operating a hospital. The homes are to serve the poor and give them the basic needs,” says Sunita Kumar, wife of former India Davis Cup coach Naresh Kumar and one who has been working with Missionaries’ sisters for over four decades.

But this reasoning that has evoked harsh reactions. “What stops them from starting a hospital? Surely, money is not a problem,” asks Aroup Chatterjee, a London-based critic of Missionaries of Charity. Chatterjee wrote a controversial book Mother Teresa – The Final Verdict in 2002 and collaborated with British writer and well known Mother Teresa-critic Christopher Hitchens to produce a documentary called Hell’s Angel for Channel 4.
Apart from the hospital, volunteers also cite the need for a well-planned rehabilitation for the sick who go back to the streets once they recover. “Some were sent back to the streets of their own will, but some against it,” says a European volunteer who has been coming to Nirmal Hriday since 2006. She cites the example of an “old lady” suffering from diabetes and incapable of walking. “We were told she was sent to another centre outside Kolkata but just few days later someone saw her on the street close to our centre… We were worried but could not do much.”
Sister Glenda clarifies that professional help is never avoided. “Look at Buddhni Bakshi,” she says pointing to a bald teenage girl sleeping on a stretcher. “She was abandoned by her parents because the wound in her head used to stink badly. When she came here, we did tests at a local hospital that showed a tumour in her head. We spent Rs. 4 lakh for the surgery and now she is fine,” adds Sister Glenda. The initiative to get professional help, say former volunteers, is a change.
Gonzalez questions why money can’t be used to improve the service at the homes run by the sisters. “Even the inmates soiled and infected clothes are washed by hands. Why can’t they buy a washing machine?” he asks.
It has become a sensitive issue since 2005 when a British television crew filmed children at Daya Dan, a care centre, tied to their beds. Questions arouse about the “primitive practices and lack of using modern methods of teaching.” The incident forced Mother House to release a statement saying, “We value constructive criticism and admit that there is always room for improvement.” Volunteers, who come in dozens from countries like Spain and Italy, have separately narrated incidents about sisters resorting to “shaking violently” or “beating” to discipline the challenged children.
Recent developments though indicate a fresh thinking. “Hygiene has been an issue but has improved as sisters opened to better standard through volunteers from Western countries,” says Father Robin Gomes who has been working with the Missionaries of Charity for more than 20 years. At Daya Dan, which also runs a dispensary for the poor twice a week, sisters in apron and gloves (a change from earlier days) go about like trained nurses.
A bigger change at the centre is in the way the 60 mentally and physically challenged children are taken care of. “We now have speech therapists and physiotherapists coming in regularly who look after the children,” says Sister Karina, a Mexican nun who has been heading Daya Dan for one year. The therapists also help train sisters and volunteers and a few of them are sent to training institutes for week-long classes.
It is good news about some of the changes. Unfortunately, we are still in the dark when it comes to their financial records,” says Gonzalez. The donation issue first came up in the early 1990s when it was revealed that Charles Keating, an American banker known for the infamous “saving and loan scandal,” had donated up to $1.25 million to Missionaries of Charity. Amidst calls to return the money, Mother Teresa controversially chose to remain silent, an incident that is still sited by her critics who demand transparency.
In early 2000, Susan Shields, a former Missionaries sister who left the organisation “unhappy”, created a furore by saying she herself had “written receipts of $50,000” in donation but there was no sign of the “flood of money.” Forbes India talked to a volunteer in the Los Angeles office of Missionaries of Charity who admitted that “even when bread was over at the soup kitchens, none was bought unless donated.” A report in German magazine Stern, revealed that in 1991 only seven percent of the donation received at Missionaries of Charity was used for charity.
Former volunteers and people close to the Mother House revealed that the Vatican, home to the Pope, has control over the “monetary matters” ever since Missionaries of Charity came under its fold in 1965. The control got stronger after Mother Teresa died in 1997.  When asked about how much money the Charity gets annually, the then superior general Sister Nirmala in a rare media interview a few years ago remarked “Countless.” When asked how much it was, she answered, “God knows. He is our banker.” Forbes India’s request for details was turned down at the Mother House. Sister Mary Prema, the present superior general, did not agree to a meeting.

“To quote the Bible, she was “as cunning as a serpent and as innocent as a dove,’” says Father Gomes. “Like all organisations that were headed by famous people and suffer after they leave, Missionaries of Charity has a void. At the same time, the sisters at Missionaries of Charity continue the work that she had done. Every time you see the blue bordered sari, your remember Mother Teresa,” he adds.The association has worked well for Missionaries of Charity. The number of homes and sisters, despite a drop in those coming from India, has increased since 1997. Realising the importance early, the late Pope John Paul VI made sure that a council of sisters was formed before Mother Teresa died. That council, consisting of senior sisters, now runs the organisation and also recommends amongst itself the next head. This is then cleared by the Vatican. In its last meeting in March 2009, the council elected Sister Mary Prema as the new superior general of Missionaries of Charity. A German native, Sister Prema has been seldom seen publicly and few know her outside the Mother House. This, say observers, while keeping intact Mother Teresa as the face of the organisation even after her death, has also led to the disconnect with the local people. One indicator of this disconnect might be the almost complete absence of Indians among the volunteers.After her beatification, after which she is officially called Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, the process is on now in the Vatican to bestow Mother Teresa with sainthood. In a 1989 interview with Time magazine, when asked about the future of the Order, Mother Teresa had replied that it was Jesus’ concern.Now would be the right time for God to take a closer look.

via Forbes India Magazine – Mother Teresa’s Legacy is Under a Cloud.


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