This Paradoxical World

The former actress and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalitha, ruled this wonderful state for more than 15 years, before her untimely and mysterious death a few months ago on 6th December, 2016. A lot of people in Tamil Nadu love her and that is why she was elected over four times. She was a queen and an iron lady who bowed to know one. She kept the right-wing fanatics at bay and cemented her position as the “supreme leader.”

She sounds cool, doesn’t she? She was cool….. except for the fact that she was also corrupt and she allowed corrupt people to flourish under her rule. Of course, prior to her rule the corruption was at a grander scale. So I guess we, the people of Tamil Nadu, should be happy that corruption happened at a lesser scale during her rule. I never voted for her party when she was alive and I never will vote in the future. The woman was corrupt. But I cried like a child when she passed away. I sat in front of the TV for a whole day and watched her funeral procession, her body being lowered into her grave, all her old speeches, and I cried and cried and cried. I even sat with my grandmother, who was her big fan, and watched Jayalalitha’s old movies and songs from the 1960s and 70s. In fact, I just discovered a Facebook page in dedication to her and my eyes were filled with tears when I went through her photos and her quotes. I don’t quite understand this. What is this new-found love that I have for this lady? I agree that I did have a soft corner for her even when she was alive because I always admired her boldness, and her leadership qualities. But still, how come my eyes moisten when I think about her even now?

My mind goes back to the Facebook post that I wrote a few weeks after the lady’s death. I wrote that what happened was for the good of this state’s people. I believe that the two cyclones that damaged this state in 2015 and 16, and this death has united the people more than ever. This unity led to the popular Jallikattu uprising. If those two cyclones and Jayalalitha’s death hadn’t happened, the Jallikattu protests would never have occurred. People learned how to use Facebook and Whatsapp to unite when those cyclones struck, and the protests were organised from the lessons that were learned. And the “Iron Lady” of Tamil Nadu would have crushed those protests if she had been alive. “Not on my watch,” she would have said. But then, people wouldn’t have protested in the first place if she was alive. We took matter into our own hands because we have this feeling of insecurity after her death. There is this great power struggle happening to consolidate power, and the dormant right-wing fanatics have started wagging their tails in her absence. All this makes us even more insecure. We have always been having this feeling of insecurity about the safety of our language and culture and this feeling has only been heightened now. But I believe everything is interconnected. All of this happened for  a reason.

What is it that is happening to us humans? I am not sure. Ours is a strange existence with a paradoxical history and we have tried to comprehend it  by giving it various meanings. But what is the truth behind it all? Only time will tell. But there is no guarantee that we will live to see it.

 

The Paradoxical Paradox (or I just realised I like the word paradox):

In Tamil, there is a saying — “Yellam Nanmaikkey!” This could be roughly translated as: Everything that happens is for good or Everything happens for a good reason. Or something like that. This leads us to some very interesting questions and thoughts. I mean, think about  all the tragedies that have happened on this planet so far. Are you telling me that all of that happened for good? I am not an atheist, so this allows me to think further about this question. Of course, we are yet to understand the human mind completely, we can neither understand God’s mind nor his plans. Do we even possess the kind of mind that it takes to understand God’s mind? No. We can only guess. So what is it that I am guessing here?

I think that that saying is true, everything that happens is for a good reason. This is going to offend a lot of people. Maybe even the British occupation of India happened for a good reason? It did result in the death of a lot of people, our wealth being plundered, and other injustices, but still, maybe it is for the good. What about the horrendous caste system? That too happened for the good? The caste system has caused and is still causing a lot of injustices in this country. It should never have happened, and if I could travel back in time I would travel back to stop it from happening. But, what good has the caste system caused in this society? I could think of nothing. A lot of people in India have managed to preserve their “pure” blood lines. Is that any good? I don’t know. The holocaust happened for a good reason too? The US butchering the middle east in the name of freedom and democracy is good too? If we want to believe that “Everything that happens is for good,” then we should also be ready to believe that all these injustices happened for a good reason as well. Maybe we will see the good at a later point in time. Will we? Or maybe we never will, but our grandchildren will see it one day, I guess. Life is so unfair, isn’t it? I don’t understand life, I don’t even understand myself at times. Things seem so strange, and meaningless.

What you should do

What does this mean? Does this mean that you should sit back and watch as life unfolds? Should you silently observe God’s plans regardless of how cruel the events are? Of course, we think it is cruel, but it happens for a good reason, I am sure (I guess). But still…… it doesn’t feel right, does it? I think we should fight back. We should fight against all injustices even if that means us losing our lives. Aren’t we just little dust motes stuck to this bigger dust mote called Earth flinging around recklessly in this dark vacuum? I think at the end of the day, us fighting against all injustices is also part of God’s plan.

 

Why Brexit is a good thing

The Internet, as usual, has reacted in its exaggerated ways, or should I say, the Brexit “broke” the Internet. But let me assure you, all is going to be well. The economy will stabilize and Britain will find its way. This is Great Britain we are talking about. What goes down will come up, that is the way of the world, isn’t it?

European Union. Some say, like the Brexit supporters, that the idea of the Union is outdated and it is doomed to fail. The rest of the world think otherwise. Let me get outside all of this and think for a moment. A union. A union in which countries come together, work towards a common goal, help each other and solve problems in the most democratic way — this sounds good, doesn’t it? I did a quick google and found the following to be the objectives of the European Union:

  • an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers ;
  • an internal market where competition is free and undistorted;
  • sustainable development, based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment;
  • the promotion of scientific and technological advance;
  • the combating of social exclusion and discrimination, and the promotion of social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child;
  • the promotion of economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among Member States.
  • peace;
  • security;
  • sustainable development of the Earth;
  • solidarity and mutual respect among peoples;
  • free and fair trade;
  • eradication of poverty;
  • protection of human rights (in particular the rights of the child);
  • development of international law (respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter).

As you can understand, the very idea of countries coming together to sort things out in a peaceful manner, and work towards growth and all of the above is certainly good. But alas, the European Union is not as good as it sounds! I hope it crumbles and falls apart. Why in the wide world would I have such a strong opinion? Read on.

The European Union is under the malign influence of the USA. America, when it wants to impose its will on a country, when it wants to sanction a country, it unleashes the EU as its chief attack dog. Not everyone in the Union is happy about this; most oblige as they have a lot to profit from the US, and some do it very grudgingly — they have no other choice. The world does not need this kind of an attack dog. It must go. Britain has always been the leader of this pack — coercing and influencing the rest of the pack to its master’s will. But this attack-dog-in-chief has shown its master that it has a mind of its own (much to the annoyance of the British elites and corrupt politicians) and I am very, very happy about it. The USA is a such a great country with such great people, but the country’s politicians are such a despicable lot. Unless a drastic change happens in US politics, things like Brexit should continue.

Let the games begin.

Oh, I almost forgot. The Scots. Those spineless people don’t deserve independence. You’ve had your chance and you gave it up for what?

Vladimir Putin — A Master Strategist

As most of the Western media churns out lie after lie about America’s intentions in the middle-east and about Russia and Vladimir Putin, occasionally, a few truths do come out. Daily Mail has been anti-Russia for a long time now, but the following assessment by John R. Bradley was fantastic and explains the brilliance of the master tactician Vladimir Putin.

As a craven West caves in to Putin, this could be the biggest shift in power since Suez, writes JOHN R. BRADLEY

The White House was caught off-guard by Russia’s shock announcement that it was declaring victory on its own terms in Syria. Remarkably, President Barack Obama, along with his Nato allies, only learned of this dramatic development in what is the world’s most strategically important war zone from an impromptu television appearance by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Perhaps we should not be surprised — both by Obama’s weakness and Putin’s fox-like guile. After all, when Putin first ordered his country’s vast military arsenal into combat in Syria five months ago, Western leaders (and their much-vaunted, network of intelligence agencies) were likewise caught napping.

There is, though, far more at stake here than the reputation of a soporific, lame-duck U.S. President as he staggers through his final months in office. For it is now clear that during those tumultuous five months, the Kremlin ran rings around other world leaders, consolidating its power and influence not only in Syria, but throughout the wider Middle East.

And it pulled off its Syria gambit on the back of its brazen military adventurism in Ukraine — something the international community was also unable, or unwilling, to confront in any meaningful way.
In light of Russia’s withdrawal from Syria, the contrast between decisive Putin and pusillanimous Nato leaders is starker than ever. The latter have merely repeated the tired mantra that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad must step down. They also watched as the biggest refugee crisis since World War II — brought on in no small part by the Syrian war — ironically created an unprecedented crisis of confidence among their own populations in the ability of their leaders to govern.

Especially sobering is that, by any objective measure, Putin’s bold but subtly worded claim that his armed forces have achieved ‘general completion’ of their strategic goals in Syria is a pretty accurate assessment of what has happened. Because at this stage, it seems Putin has managed to pull off his immediate strategic aim: to turn the tide of the civil war in favour of Bashar al-Assad and his brutal but secular regime, and thus guarantee the survival of the only steadfast Russian ally in the Arab world. For Russia has succeeded in helping Syria’s armed forces, who were on the brink of defeat six months ago, to almost see off the so-called moderate Syrian rebels backed by the West and its allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.

According to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, the short campaign managed to cut the supply of resources to these anti-Assad groups and kill more than 2,000 of them.
Syrian troops, meanwhile, liberated more than 400 settlements and more than 6,200 miles of territory, with the support of more than 9,000 sorties conducted by the Russian Air Force.
Russian claims of a limited victory are more credible than the vacuous and hubristic ‘Mission Accomplished’ declarations by our own leaders following the previous overthrow of the secular leaders of Iraq and Libya. Striking, too, is the contrast with our criminal lack of planning for a post-regime reality in those countries, which allowed for the terrifying emergence of Islamist terror outfits and which left our diplomatic standing in the region at a lower point than at any time in living memory.

Of course, our own policy towards Syria, too, looks equally shambolic. The thousands of Russian sorties against Islamic State strongholds over the past few months — which are to continue — brought into humiliating relief Nato’s relatively timid efforts in the country. While Putin’s forces were moving in for the kill against Assad’s enemies, our leaders were pathetically doctoring intelligence briefings in order to ‘sex-up’ our limited military successes while stubbornly sticking to a hare-brained idea of training an entirely new rebel army to topple the Assad regime and defeat the Islamic State. At a cost of billions of dollars, it predictably came to nothing. In contrast, Putin’s no-nonsense approach to Isis has not only weakened the group inside Syria but has also sent a clear message to other Islamic terror groups on Russia’s borders.

Of course, the fact that Russia’s withdrawal was timed to coincide with the new round of peace talks in Geneva is hardly coincidental. The wily Putin is able to cultivate the story of his military ‘success’ in Syria while promoting his own image as an international peacemaker. And in this way, Putin has not only demonstrated that the Russian military is to be reckoned with, but that it also has an indispensable role in determining the future of Syria and other world trouble-spots.

For, even if peace negotiations fail or if the Islamist rebels enjoy a resurgence, Russia has promised to return to the battlefield if necessary. Indeed, Syria’s Hmeimim airbase in Latakia and its Mediterranean port at Tartus will be protected by Russian warships and S-400 missile defence systems — on Europe’s doorstep. Western leaders, via Nato and their undemocratic Gulf allies, have been forced to soften their demands for Assad’s departure.

The result is that the thuggish Putin is viewed in parts of the world as someone who not only manifests diplomatic skills, but has the guts to confront the jihadist scourge come what may: a leader — albeit an autocratic one — who doesn’t show weakness under pressure. This impression has been reinforced by the web of alliances Putin has cleverly forged with other countries during the Syria campaign, further pushing Western leaders to the sidelines as Russia emerges as the new, power broker in the region. Perhaps most worryingly, he has been allowed to do this by Obama’s misguided decision to lift sanctions against Iran (a steadfast ally of Russia and Syria’s President Assad) shortly after Putin entered the Syrian war. There is another area where Putin has caught Western leaders napping. With the Assad regime propped up by the Kremlin and internal terrorist enemies seriously diminished, it seems that Russia’s long-held goal of building a lucrative and politically valuable gas pipeline through Syria to Europe looks like it will be achieved.

In addition, there are the billions of dollars to be made by the Kremlin from reconstructing Syria itself, a massive project that Assad will have little choice but to hand to Russian companies since the Damascus government owes the Kremlin an estimated $100 billion in outstanding debts. Meanwhile, Egypt, the most populous Arab country, has already thrown itself at Russia’s feet, signing arms deals worth billions of dollars and contracting a Russian company to build its first nuclear plant in the coastal city of Alexandria. Putin has even managed to forge diplomatic and military ties with the region’s two arch-enemies: Israel and Hezbollah.  Russia has been fighting alongside Hezbollah in Syria while co-ordinating with the Israeli air force — even, astonishingly, when it was attacking Hezbollah inside Syria.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that what Putin has achieved by helping the survival of Assad would represent the biggest shift in geopolitical influence in the Middle East since the 1956 Suez Crisis. For Assad would be the first Arab leader to survive Western attempts at regime change since Egyptian strongman Gamal Abdul Nasser.
Then, a failed attempt by Britain, France and Israel to seize Egypt’s Suez region — and its vital canal — marked the moment our commanding influence in the world came to an end, and pushed Egypt into the arms of the Soviet Union.
The Syria debacle may come to be seen as the moment the West conceded hegemony in the region to Russia.
It’s clear that in our post-nuclear weapon age, Putin understands that brash and unapologetic deployment of conventional forces is what gives countries military and economic dominance.

— JOHN R. BRADLEY (author of four books on the Middle East).

The original article can be found in this link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3494373/As-craven-West-caves-Putin-biggest-shift-power-Suez-writes-JOHN-R-BRADLEY.html

Putin takes charge, orders Russian troops to Syria after Obama’s plan flops

This is really interesting! Now it’s Russia against the ISIS. I will be following this very closely.

The following article was taken from the Washington Times. The link to the original article (with its stupid unrelated auto-play video that I had to silence four times) is given at the end.

Putin takes charge, orders Russian troops to Syria after Obama’s plan flops

Vladimir Putin views the Syrian army and its Iranian allies as incapable of defeating the Islamic State in Syria, prompting the Russian president to directly intervene in recent weeks by setting up an air base and sending in tanks, artillery and jet fighters, a report to Congress says.

Mr. Putin’s bold yet risky move of putting troops on the ground directly confronting a terrorist group contrasts sharply with the Obama administration’s strategy of an air campaign over Syria but little other military action in that country.

 The Islamic State controls wide sections of territory in Iraq and in Syria, where it has proclaimed a capital of Raqqa in Syria’s east.

Analysts at the Congressional Research Service delivered an assessment to lawmakers Friday that says Mr. Putin is helping his ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, and protecting Russia’s southern flank in the Caucasus, where Islamist fighters congregate and deploy.

Russia’s recent activity in Syria also may be motivated by an assessment that the Syrian military forces are becoming less capable and that Iranian support may be inadequate to preserve the Assad regime,” said the report. “Moscow’s primary intentions may include safeguarding the Assad regime, preserving Russian naval access to Syria, and challenging U.S. policy toward Syria.”

The report added: “Putin’s recent call for an all-out effort against the Islamic State also may stem from the sizable number of jihadist fighters from the North Caucasus fighting in Syria, who may pose a serious problem for Moscow should they return to Russia.”

If Mr. Putin does view the war against the Islamic State as stagnant, he has an ally in Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Dempsey told reporters this month that the war is “tactically stalemated.”

Russia’s military commitment to Syria sent the Obama administration scrabbling to adjust a policy battered by both Democrats and Republicans. The administration’s plan to put ground troops in Syria in the form of moderate rebels has basically failed. Fewer than a half-dozen fighters remain in the country after a number of their colleagues were killed.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Friday that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter spoke by phone with his counterpart, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, to ensure that each side understands the other’s intentions in Syria. The call effectively unfroze contact between the two militaries.

Mr. Carter has been the most outspoken critic of Russian actions in Europe. He said in August that Mr. Putin’s regime, which annexed Crimea and invaded Ukraine, is now an “antagonist” — something it had not been for decades.

But Russia’s move in Syria is more complicated because Mr. Putin says he shares the same goal as the U.S. — defeating the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS.

While Mr. Carter has been a harsh critic, Secretary of State John F. Kerry has taken the lead in talking with the Russians. Mr. Kerry’s recent statements on Syria seem to be shifting as he adjusts to the fact thatRussia has become a much bigger player in Syria.

He spoke Tuesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Afterward, the State Department press office issued a statement: “Secretary Kerry also reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to fight ISIL with a coalition of more than 60 countries, of which Assad could never be a credible member, and emphasized the U.S. would welcome a constructive Russian role in counter-ISIL efforts. The Secretary stressed that there is no military solution to the overall conflict in Syria, which can only be resolved by a political transition away from Assad.”

In London on Saturday for talks with the British foreign secretary, Mr. Kerry suggested that Mr. Assad’s exit is opened-ended.

“We have said that Assad has to go. But how long, what the modality is — that’s a decision that has to be made in the context of the Geneva process and negotiations,” Mr. Kerry said.

Russia has a long history of supporting the Assad family dynasty, which granted it a naval base and gives Moscow an avenue for significant influence in the Middle East and a way to maintain economic and military ties with Iran.

Why Russia would commit troops to prop up Mr. Assad and then agree to his removal is unclear.

“If Russian officials continue to reject the premise of Assad’s ouster as a precondition for a transition or counterterrorism cooperation, U.S. officials may confront a more lasting proxy conflict scenario,” the Congressional Research Service report said.

It was written by analysts Carla E. Humud, Steven Woehrel, Derek E. Mix and Christopher M. Blanchard.

James Russell, a former Pentagon official and now an instructor at the Naval Postgraduate School, said Mr Putin “seeks to punch his weight.”

“I don’t believe he cares a whit about the survival of his client, Assad,” he said. “But he does see some tactical advantage that may accrue to scaring us all into believing that Russia can somehow succeed where we in the West have failed in Iraq and Afghanistan in propping up a failing regime. Putin is seeking any vehicle open to him to try and create the sense that Russia is powerbroker on the global stage.”

Ken Allard, a retired Army intelligence officer, said Mr. Putin views the breakup of the Soviet Union as an historical mistake by Russia.

“The Syrian deployment now brings Russian influence, arms and troops, to bear at a key geographic linchpin, between the Med and Israel’s entire northwestern frontier,” he said.

Link to the original article: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/20/vladimir-putin-orders-ground-troops-to-syria-after/?page=all#pagebreak

Do you wish to redraft the Constitutional laws of India? I do

Let’s imagine that for some strange insane reason, democracy is abolished in India and again for some strange insane reason I am crowned as the King of India.  Now as the King, the first thing that I wish to do is redraft the nation’s Constitution. Heck, I don’t know what that even means. But hey, I’ve got Google. And hey, Google launched something new this Monday.

Google has launched this new website called Constitute. You can explore the constitutions of about a 160 countries either by topics or by countries. The constitution of an entire nation could be downloaded as a PDF.

google constitute

Click on the Browse Topics button and choose any of the topics that you’re interested in. This lists the screen with the names of the 160 countries – choose any country and learn about that particular topic. It is as simple as that. Or, you can browse the Constitutions by country.

google constitute

So as the King of India, I might want to compare the constitutions of the various countries across the World to get a better understanding. That’s a nifty tool, thanks Google.

Hmmm…..this could come in handy when I am King.