Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Conspiracy Theory About Modi, Ramdev and Gen. V. K. Singh

In March 2012, I equated General V. K. Singh with the infamous Mir Qasim, whose hunger for power made him an ally of the British as they maneuvered to take control of Bengal in the 18th Century.

It seemed to me that Singh's dash to London immediately after losing a graceless bid to stay a year longer in office pointed, at the very least, to involvement in helping Britain land a major arms contract. His subsequent letter to the Prime Minister declaring India scandalously deficient in military preparedness tended to confirm that reading.

It now turns out that Singh was engaged in something much more treasonous.

A military panel that looked into his activities as Chief of Army Staff (2010 to 2012), has reported that he set up an unauthorized surveillance unit in Delhi to spy on the Defence Minister, and that he misused official funds to try and unseat Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in Kashmir. It has recommended a full-blown criminal investigation.

More must be done, for there are clear signs that the matter is not one of individual malfeasance but of high-level and dangerous political conspiracy. Items:

  • The BJP's sudden rush to declare Narendra Modi its Prime Ministerial candidate was patently irrational in the face of serious opposition within the party and concerns about his involvement in the Gujarat killings of 2002. It makes sense only if someone promised an enormous amount of money to buy the 2014 elections and soothe inflated/bruised egos within the BJP.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Making Sense of Syria

Tarzie Vittachi, a Sri Lankan journalist who in his final years was the bemused occupant of a high United Nations office, once summed up with his characteristic terse wit, a central truth about international affairs: “Everything is about something else.”

And the “something else” always varies with the telling.

The Vittachi Conundrum and the Rashomon Effect are vivid at present in the coverage of Syria; no two analysts have quite the same story about what is happening and why.

The mainstream media view of the long-suppressed Sunni majority battling a brutal minority regime of Alawite Sh’iah is undeniable; but it is hardly a black and white picture. Most of the freedom fighters (7 of 9 groups engaged in the civil war), are intolerant Islamists, and some are barbaric; the world will not soon forget the grisly image of a rebel fighter eating the liver of a dead opponent.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Britain & Hinduism 8: Breaking Bad

In 1972, a British national of Pakistani origin, Agha Hasan Abedi, founded what he called a “Third World bank” in London. The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) became a runaway success, expanding from 19 to 108 branches in three years and its assets jumping from $200 million to $1.6 billion. In less than two decades, it had $23 billion in assets and was operating in 73 countries, with offshoots in Luxembourg and Grand Cayman. It became the first foreign bank to open an office in China.

Through its Third World Foundation BCCI handed out awards to luminaries like Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang of China, Nelson and Winnie Mandela, and President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania (with Indira Gandhi making the presentation). As the bank’s senior staff hobnobbed with presidents and prime ministers and the governments of many developing countries gave it their official business, tens of thousands of small depositors in developing countries trusted it with their life savings.

What only a few people knew was that BCCI also held the accounts of Abu Nidal the terrorist, members of the Medellin drug cartel in Colombia, and Lieutenant-General Fazle Haq, the governor of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, who had set up hundreds of heroin processing plants close to the Afghan border and trucked their output to Karachi in military vehicles.