Tuesday, May 27, 2008

BIAL - Thumbs down??

As Bangaloreans get their first taste of their new airport, most have been dazzled by the glitz and size; and comparisons are being made with the best airports in the world, something that any self respecting business traveller will scoff at.

And if anything, its just a matter of time before people start pulling the wool from their eyes - BIAL staff and Herr Brunner better have an escape plan then, and considering the way the 'completed' airport has been functioning, preferably something that doesn't involve them flying from their own airport.

The closure of HAL is a very very bad idea - the old airport was quite efficient, especially in its upgraded avatar. Entry was a problem, and there wasn't enough space, but it did have enough to easily handle 7 million passengers a year. Why then can the much bigger BIAL handle only 11 million? Where has our 3500 crores gone? Why has the, terminal whose size was only increased by 27%, claim to handle 300% more travellers? The Math on this seems wrong, doesn't it?

I give it a month or two before people start asking whats so great about the new airport. The Cargo terminal is nowhere near ready, ground handling is a mess, and the User Fee is astronomical. And if the problems aren't fixed within a month, there will be trouble in the air, and not just from Kannada activists, who justifiably have asked for the airport to be named after the founder of the city. It won't just be the IT guys, who were idiotic enough to support the great white elephant without reading the fine print (Educated people, Bah!!) and selfish enough to cheer on when their hero, the great Narayana Murthy helped negotiate the agreement that gave Brunner and Co. 150 km of free air, and 80 lakh Bangaloreans a whipping in the behind.

It will be every single traveller, who has to pay 700 for a Taxi, 1000 for the UDF and endure a horrendous airport experience in return. It will be common Bangaloreans, who will lose almost 10,000 crore Rs. because the Cargo terminal isn't ready and the government was a coward to protest. It will be the airlines staff, who don't have offices of their own or toilets or drinking water. And it will be the people who lost their lands and jobs to the new airport and were cheated out of employment because BIAL doesn't care about local sentiments. In short, everyone!

But right now, its still the honeymoon phase, where the passengers can walk through an airport that has no ugly ducts and a central A/C that actually works. Of course, there are a few voices of sense and foreboding in this madness - its a pity that no one in the positions to do something actually listens to them.

Devesh Agarwalji, the head of the Bangalore Chamber of Infrastructure and Commerce, and one of the strident voices of sense has a blog that demolishes any rosy reports in the paper - BIAL is no Changi, and it is far from complete, and nowhere near efficient or excellent. Check it out at http://aviation.deveshagarwal.com.

Lets hope the new BJP Government has some sense in its head, and makes the right decisions. Till then, keep your motorbike well oiled and fuelled, Mr. Brunner - you may need to make a quick dash to HAL airport to catch a chartered flight.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A thousand flowers bloom in West Bengal

Indian Left parties led by CPI (M) have been taking people for granted. After destroying West Bengal and Kerala economies, the Left is sabotaging the state of India at the center. While rest of India watches the current Left supported government in disgust, the common people of West Bengal, the bastion of CPI (M) and Left are set to ditch them.

As a good omen, for the first time during in three decades of continuous rule the red communist CPI-M yesterday suffered a humiliating defeat in the hands of the rural Bengal. The rural areas which hold more of illiterate poor majority were the main vote base of the CPI (M). CPI (M) led government inflicted the worst of atrocities on these helpless people during Nandigram and Singur fertile land acquisition by brutal force for industrial purposes. People were killed and women were raped, perfectly qualifying for a genocide enquiry by the United Nations.

Since, the help from a impotent central government failed to come, the people decided to vote the CPI (M) out.

The areas which have brought a new hope for the oppressed state of West Bengal are Nandigram, the whole of East Midnapore, Singur, South 24-Parganas and North Dinajpur.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A tribute to Narasimha Rao on the 10th anniversary of the nuclear test

Today is the 10th anniversary of the Pokharan II tests or the Shakti nuclear test. India was proclaimed the Nuclear weapons state. Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao was a Visionary, selfless and a tactician. He pulled the country out of the abyss created by his immediate predecessors. The visionary foresaw the changed world and navigated India through the rough years of 1990’s. One of his legacies was the run up to the second nuclear test in Pokharan. The tests did not go through due to various reasons, but, political survival or self interest was not one of them. The national interest was so paramount that he handed over the note to conduct tests to his political opponents when they came in power.

The Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA government wasted no time and it tested the bomb. The NDA government came to power the second time. The first time it came to power was just 13 days. Not minding the fact that there could be adverse implications, they carried out the test. NDA carried on the policies laid down by former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao with ruthless efficiency and zeal. Not minding the self interest, the magnanimous Atal Bihari Vajpayee credited the due to P.V. Narasimha Rao. Such is the leadership that we saw.

Today we have a government which stands as an oxymoron to what P.V. Narasimha Rao’s Congress party stood for. The Congress is huddled together with undesirable parties like the CPI (M) to remain in power. While people are wondering why they are in the power when they cannot take decisions and people go through untold miseries like inflation, bad economic policy and non governance.

Congress is also exhibiting its usual tendencies of not giving the others their due credit even if it means recognizing the genius of its own visionary leader P.V. Narasimha Rao. The Congress led UPA is not celebrating this historic moment of the 10th anniversary of the Shakti nuclear test. A non event like Rajiv Gandhi birthday was celebrated with all pomp and show emptying the tax payers’ money. If that was not enough, they credit Rajiv Gandhi of things he did not do. For example, congress talks about Rajiv gandhi and the IT revolution. A year back, the Indian IT Czar Narayan Murthy had openly credited P.V. Narasimha Rao for the IT revolution.

Congress may sign the beleaguered the Indo- US Nuclear deal at last movement, but, it will be to late for India.

Not withstanding the Congress attitude today is a proud day for every Indian and we thank the visionary P.V. Narasimha Rao for his selflessness.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Pokhran II Anniversary - no cause for celebration?

Very often, new governments refuse to accept or reverse policies instituted by the previous regime. But its probably an India-special that we turn everything 180 degrees. The UPA Government has had a special penchant for this... and where the policies worked, they commandeered them by doing the thing they do best- giving them a Gandhi name. Family first, Patriotism and national welfare comes later.

Now, as we approach a decade of one of the Nation's greatest achievements , the Pokhran-II Nuclear tests (May 11 and 13, 1998), the UPA policy seems to be disgustingly clear - reject it! The UPA government has decided not to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the tests. And to explain why, Minister of State for Defence, Pallam Raju had this to say in an interview with CNN-IBN's Rajdeep Sardesai:

CNN-IBN Report

'Pokhran brought sanctions, so why celebrate it'

The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government conducted five nuclear tests from May 11 to May 13, 1998, in Pokhran and in a few days it will be the 10th anniversary of the tests that announced India's entry into the nuclear weapons club. Many believe that those tests finally led to the Indo-US nuclear deal but the UPA government has decided not to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the tests.

Minister of State for Defence Pallam Raju defended the United Progressive Alliance government's decision of not celebrating the 10th anniversary of Pokhran II nuclear tests.

CNN-IBN: Why would you not do a public celebration or a commemoration of Pokhran II?

Pallam Raju: First of all thank you very much for having me on this programme. I think when we you are talking about India's nuclear programme we have every reason to be proud of what we have achieved. And I think being proud of the programme in itself is a reason for celebration. I don't see any further reason to celebrate a detonation.

CNN-IBN: Mr Raju, you may call it a detonation, but the truth is with the Shakti tests India declared itself a nuclear power. The day has great significance and there is much reason to be proud of Pokhran in India's strategic programme.

Pallam Raju: Let's look at what Pokhran has achieved for India. Of course it has demonstrated the capability India has had. But the detrimental effects - sanctions have affected most of our strategic program that were of importance to the nation. So I don't see any reason why it should be advertise loudly about.

CNN-IBN: Many would say you are speaking this way because of a clear nuclear deal shadow. Many of the clauses in the Indo-US nuclear deal are after all nothing but a result of Pokhran II. And that's why perhaps there is a slight discomfort celebrating it. What would the non-proliferation lobby would say?

Pallam Raju: Looking at policies that India has pursued in terms of being a non-first user, all that speaks about the deterrence policy we follow. And being a very responsible nuclear power and we have not proliferated and India's nuclear record peaks for it's responsible behaviour.

CNN-IBN: Final question, it's not just about Pokhran. It's about the 1971 victory that you celebrate and the Kargil victory, which you don't. The BJP today says they agree Indira Gandhi started it and the NDA took the next step with Pokhran II.

Pallam Raju: We had the bomb ready and the NDA blasted it in 1998. So what has happened after the blast you know the consequences the country had to face? You know the sanctions that were imposed. Every important programme of the country suffered as a consequence. Against this background, is this the reason for celebration? We know what we are, we are conscience of our capabilities, we know the strengths we posses. What is the need to advertise for it and make a celebration of it?

Unfortunately, Sardesai didn't ask the minister the question that he should have asked - Mr Minister, are you saying that the tests were a bad thing? That would have unravelled his dhoti and shown the government's treason.

It was nauseating to see the minister denigrate our scientists and spit on all the positives that the Shakti tests achieved, just so that the Congress wouldn't give away brownie points to the NDA. Why should we celebrate the 1974 tests then?? After all, those sanctions hit us much harder than those after Pokhran-II. Why should we celebrate the creation of Bangladesh - look at the problems we face from that runt nation today?

In fact, when we celebrate so many days for idiotic reasons only because some damn fool was born with the Gandhi surname, why can't we celebrate something of substance, instead of - Sadbhavana Divas (Rajiv Gandhi's Birthday), Children's Day (Nehru's Birthday), National Integration Day (Indira Gandhi's Birthday), National Oathtaking day (Indira Gandhi's Death Anniversary).

The UPA can close its eyes to the truth, but few sensible people will deny that Pokhran-II put us on the world map, brought us to the forefront of the foreign policies of the most powerful nations in the world. The sanctions had almost no effect on our economy, and if we're able to look the world's biggest technological powers in the eye and work with them as equals, it is all thanks to the gains we made by indigenizing our military technology during those years of denial. If the government's flagship Indo-US Nuke Deal is a reality, they have to thank Shakti for that; if India has become a major power today, it is singularly thanks to Pokhran-II ; and if we're talked about as a counter to China, and wooed by all nations as a superpower, it is because of the tests. Till then, we were strong, but no one really cared; but blast a bomb, and the whole world comes running for your good graces.

But I couldn't have expected anything more from a party whose first priority seems to be their Prince Regent's performance in next year's polls. After all, these were the same guys who criticized the tests and spoke for China's interests rather than ours when we conducted them anyway. Shameful!! disgusting!!