Monthly Archives: March 2011

Libya looks set for a long war

Two defectors in two days, rebels coming under heavy attack, NATO taking on the command and the ever defiant Colonel Muammar Gaddafi- Libya looks set for a long raging war.

Within 24 hours of former Libyan foreign ministerMoussa Koussa defecting to UK via Tunisia, another former foreign minister Ali Abdel-Salam al-Treki is said to have put his resignation. The western leadership looks at it as the weakening of the Gaddafi regimen, which it is. But despite the UN led forces trying their best to impose the ‘no fly zone’ (NFZ) and bombing the settlements they don’t seem like having any major impact on the regimen.

BBC reports on Thursday mentioned that the rebels were fast losing ground and that they were under attack from Gaddafi’s forces.

Foreign secretary William Hauge mentioned that Koussa was offered no immunity and was operating under no pressure, but on will. Koussa who might also face questioning by Scottish prosecutors over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing will try to bargain some security in lieu of trading inner secrets of Gaddafi.

People higher in the ranks and close to the regimen leaving Gaddafi indeed will add pressure on the regimen, but with the west not offering any immunity or security to such leaders, the move will curtail number of defectors.

On the other hand despite being bombed by NATO, which officially took charge of the UN forces on Thursday ‘brother leader’ doesn’t look down and out by any account. It’s been two weeks that NFZ has been sanctioned against Gaddafi who isn’t giving up.

This signal at the failure of international forces which still look out of strategy to end the stalemate, though David Cameron still doesn’t rule out supplying arms to rebels. But the step is still far-fetched and the battle looks likely to go long.

Hauge has said, “Gaddafi must be asking himself who will be the next to go.” Should the West also not be asking itself, how long will this go?


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Media mayhem ahead of India – Pakistan semi final

News channel Times Now dishes out series How to demolish Team Pakistan.

CNEB declares that the second semi final match is fixed and that India will lose the semi finals.

CNN-IBN debates on whether or not India-Pakistan matches can be fixed or not.

At NDTV the anchor of a top prime time show says, “looks like there is no news other than Cricket”.

All reputed news channels and all treading the same line.

The way in which Indian broadcast and print media have gone in frenzy after the 100 over game scheduled on Wednesday makes one wonder whether or not anything else is happening in the country? We have 28 states, which were churning out decent bit of news till 72 hours back.

Debating on cricket diplomacy and mixing politics with sports media organisations have left the basics miles behind.

Can’t understand someone in as senior editorial position say ‘looks like no other news’, sir it’s for people like you to take a call on what is news and what people should see.

Show after show one clip being from a show being used in other, repetition or ‘byte optimisation’ at its best how many times will the cricket diplomacy be debated.

For how long do respected editors stress even after getting a simple answer.

The CNN-IBN show ended with  the note lets not pressurise players by raising the ghost of fixing without any evidence. This stand came only after debating the issue and raising it for sufficient  period of time.

Don’t the news editors get bored with the same stuff?

I am sure there is more happening in the country that deserves mention; at times even the guests have got miffed answering the same question.

Was amazed to see the series titled How to demolish Team Pakistan on Times Now, is it the channel from the same group which started the ‘Aman ki Asha’ initiative.

The anchor begins by saying its war minus shooting….we are on a mission how to demolish Pakistan.. is that a newsman’s language?

News to my limited understanding is all about putting facts to people. Since when have advice and opinion become news? And listening to the anchor it looks like watching English version of sensation ridden hindi channels.

Times Now don’t mind what they are saying about team India’s prospect and are reporting even basics of training session like ‘Tendulkar hammering his bat’ as if this is for the first time he is doing so especially for this game.

But when Pakistan Captain Shahid  Afridi says something about Pak bashing to a Pakistani TV channel they take offence. At least their reporting sounds like that.

Given the people’s sentiments, excitement the Indo-Pak ODI’s generate and dash of diplomacy the game does deserve prominence in news space but that should not mean it hijack the news agenda.

Agrees jingoism sells, but news is all about fair and just reporting as in reporting.

All the channels who flaunt the glorious taglines should at least give them some thought at the end of the day.

In doing so for many viewers, instead of adding to the excitement the overkill destroys the fun of the game.

Let there be some gentlemanly spirit in the gentleman’s game.

This it seems is wishful thinking, for Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN tweeted couple of days back, “After watching most of our news channels, feel we want to make it out to be World War 3. Jingoism ‘sells’. Sad.

Sad even after acknowledging it, editors seems to have no better way out.

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India-Pakistan:Against and with each other, tale of two games

Calling India taking on Pakistan in the semi finals of the Cricket World cup on Wednesday an important knock out match will be termed as understatement.

Though it is the right statement, it will be understatement.

For India and Pakistan when pitted against each other are always a mouth-watering prospect.

Frenzy has been built up around this clash between arch rivals that adds on to the hysteria that surrounds the game.

The three P’s: Public, Press, Politicians want to cash on the most anticipated game in the subcontinent. While the craze among first two is understandable the addition of third one adds (in my view) an uncalled for fourth’ P Pressure to the game.

This hurried move by the Prime Minister’s office to add diplomacy to the game of cricket is a debatable issue. We the people at NDTV raked up the issue: Can cricket diplomacy be effective for India and Pakistan relations. Does symbolism have real value?

It’s not as if this is for the first time cricket has been mixed with diplomacy both the countries have in the past used the move to certain degree of success, but is this the apt time.

It’s the semi finals of the world cup and one of the premiers will walk out unhappy.

Wonder if this will add to easing the atmosphere.

However, at the moment who wants the atmosphere to ease, certainly none of the three P’s.

From Mohali cut to Miami, miles away the same to countries are in action; this time together.

India’s Rohan Bopanna and Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi playing as a doubles team have reached the pre quarter finals of the Miami Masters.

Their win might have made it to couple of columns of the last page in sports section or a couple of paragraphs on news websites.

Termed as Indo-Pak express this duo silently has been trying to show the gesture of unity for some time now. After the initial media euphoria and coining of the term the fizz has settled.

One for the obvious reason that rivalry grabs headlines, peace doesn’t. Also they haven’t been hugely successful so far.

Anyways coming back to gestures was wondering could the premiers have not made a gesture by watching a game of Indo-Pak express in action.

There the tension would have been eliminated as both play together and not against each other.

A tweet on the same generated mixed response, while many retweeted the thought others said they are like ‘Federer-Nadal’ and some said not a bad idea.

But on a practical level that doesn’t ever look likely.

As Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN tweeted, “After watching most of our news channels, feel we want to make it out to be World War 3. Jingoism ‘sells’. Sad.

Perhaps that is the harsh reality, which will take long to change.


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Swaraj steals the show and steers the session

It’s rare of an Indian politician to own being disowned. Doing that makes Sushma Swaraj stand out.

Accepting on national news channels that her view to lay the matter of appointment of CVC chief P J  Thomas to rest ‘after the Prime Minister accepted error of judgement’ was over ruled by BJP president Nitin Gadkari, showed the sign of maturity and explains why Swaraj has been the toast of media over the last fortnight.

Combative yet confident Swaraj stood her ground defying the party line and in the same vein nailed the PM as a person looking for a scapegoat to defend any charges levied against his government.

She said: “It has become a habit for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to blame others for all the wrongs in his government.”

Watching Indian parliament functions and debates taking place is an amazing experience, for walkouts and session suspensions are the order of the day.

Studying in London, watching the Prime ministers questions and other debates in the commons makes me wonder of this is ever possible in India?

Can our politicians ever understand the value of democracy in the real sense of word and debate as mature representatives?

Though we have adopted our parliamentary system from Britain can we ever follow it?

Doubts loom large and when rare events like uninterrupted though shortened session where bills are passed and high-octane debates take place give the atypical glimpse of hope.

Though politics in India is fierce, the ever drawn battle lines inside and outside Parliament overpower the quintessential debates which form the basis of democracy.

Irony that world’s largest democracy, it isn’t the most mature. For politicians and parties alike, democracy is a means of upmanship.

Amidst the high headed brashness, debates are a breath of fresh air and this session was a testimony to it.

Not just debates, eight of the 14 bills introduced in the truncated session were passed, but more than that it was the opposition that made news.

It’s rare of opposition to hog limelight in India, even rarer is the leader of opposition being basking in the glory of a constructive session.

From being tagged politically immature by some section in media and political circles for the infamous comment to shave her head if Sonia Gandhi ever became the Prime Minister of the country to taking the Prime minister head on forcing him and UPA to go on backfoot on CVC issue Swaraj has come a long way.

Wish there are more leaders like her when it comes to raising the debate and fighting them out fair and square. Certainly a point that the over hyped ‘new faces’ of Indian politics across party lines can learn from the street smart veteran.

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Australian era of invincibility ends

Australia won’t be playing in the finals of cricket World Cup 2011.

The second consecutive defeat in the World cup after 34 straight wins brings the invincible Aussie era in the world cup to an end.

A five wicket defeat at the hands of India packs the four-time World champions home, but they went down fighting in a typical Aussie style.

A team sans its usual superstars, Punter and Co. went about the business in typical Australian fashion and made the match out of it.

While reams of print will be consumed celebrating Indian victory and lambasting the Australians, especially Ponting writing them off, former players, journos, commentators should give it a thought that this team has held the coveted trophy more than anyone else.

Ponting is the proud recipient of three world cup medals, a feat which many other greats and so-called greats can only dream of.

On Thursday, OZ were outplayed, sometime had to happen and it happened, ironic for Ponting it happened when he earned the infamous tag of being the only second captain to lose the Ashes thrice.

This tag of being the captain, under whom Australia failed to reach a semi final since 1996, is going to add another unwanted tag to Ponting who made the most runs in the match.

Though on a losing side his century after 13 months ensured he lives to the reputation of big match performer.

As they take the flight home and Cricket Australia think tank ponders over the issues, its time they give their domestic cricket serious thinking.

Former Australian cricket Dean Jones pointed out on NDTV that the standards of domestic cricket have fallen for the international players no more play in the Sheffield Trophy. “When I was playing we would play four to five games for our state, which would allow local players to have a go at us and give selectors a chance to spot talent, this is not the case anymore,” says Jones.

At the moment the once reliable Australian middle order is vulnerable, the firepower and variety in their bowling is missing, they still field well but despite all odds the it’s the Aussie attitude of never say die that holds the team.

As the world of cricket gears to welcome new champions, the early break gives the ex champions time to get back to winning ways.

With Ponting not throwing his towel, they have it all to rise from the Ashes.

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Coalition attacks Libya to impose No Fly Zone

The UN coalition forces have launched operation Odyssey Dawn in their bid to end Gaddafi assault on Benghazi.

In a matter of few hours the scenario changed dramatically in Libya.

Backed by the UN approval to adopt all necessary measures authorising No Fly Zone (NFZ) over Libya to protect civilian lives France led the coalition attack over Muammar Gaddafi forces.

Interestingly it is a Euro led attack spearheaded by France aided by UK with US playing the unusual second fiddle.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy has shown a great zeal in bid to uproot Gaddafi, remember France was the first country to recognise rebels as the government.

Sarkozy finds an unusual partner in David Cameron, who backed by the opposition and after serious thinking takes the opportunity as what some sections in media described as his finest hour in politics.

Amidst all this the big brother US which more often than not champions the cause of democracy around the world, took a long long time in a long time to jump the gun.

It was only after the Arab league and gulf nations intervened that President Barack Obama made his mind to intervene in the state of affairs of imposing a no fly zone.

Not discounting the fact that a leader willing to kill his people should not be stopped, but the way things have unfolded over the last one month make for an unusual picture.

Though the ground rules for the NFZ have been established stressing that there won’t be any occupation, what also comes to mind that in bid to secure NFZ and ground Gadaffi human lives will be lost.

Also the way West has reacted to the uprisings does pose a question or two.

While it wasted no time in getting NFZ imposed on Libya the moment Gadaffi announced his forces were coming to Bengazi, there has been no such action towards situation in Bahrain where the troops have already fired at protestors.

In fact they have been aided openly by Saudi and Kuwaiti forces to curb protests but no action in sight so far.

Also it hasn’t been the case that there is a total boycott of Gadaffi regimen, in Tripoli the colonel still has supporters who storm in the face of the media pleading their support for him.

To label him as someone who has lost all the support won’t be just. In this case the step should be towards reforming Libya and not taking merely Gadaffi out.

How things now will turn is beyond anyone’s guess, how long will it last, how many casualties will it result in, and how will it end are questions that remain to be answered.

Nevertheless the 27X7 media interest has made it a spectacle with each broadcaster dishing their perspective of the developments. Add to it the in numerous live tweets from ground zero and world over have turned this crisis into entertainment of sorts.

Amidst this a question posed by a civilian to scribes outside a hospital as aired on Al Jazeera poses an unanswered question to me and questions the interest of west in liberating Libya.

“The Americans, the British and the French over the years gave all these weapons to Gaddafi to rule us and now they are coming and dropping bombs to save us. How is it justified?”, said the civilian.

The answer lies in economics and not politics, but is something which is lost in the spectacle that media has made out of the uprising.


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West grounded on the issue of imposing No fly zone over Libya

No fly zone over Libya continues to make headlines as the battle for control between rebels and pro Muammar Gaddafi forces continue in Libya.

These three letters have been doing rounds creating speculations, making and breaking equations with fluctuating possible outcomes.

As Britain now joins the France and Lebanon in the UN to impose a no flying zone on Libya, it receives opposition from Russia, China and Germany who are against any military intervention in the region. To make things worse the United States of America haven’t made their stand clear.

Empathetic towards the situation of this North African nation the West is undecided on imposing no fly zone.

Having burnt its fingers in the past with Iraq, so far the humanitarian plight trump is not working this time round.

Even as the pros and cons are being valued taking into account the loss of human life in both the cases, for me it’s a futile exercise at this point in time.

Looks like a carrot and stick strategy to tell the world and a section in Libya that they are involved and committed to bringing peace in the region and in turn buy time for the rebellion to run out of steam.

The change of mind by leaders in the west and the state of almost inertia has worsened the crisis and even allowed Gaddafi regimen to win back lost ground.

Everyone seems to be waiting for other to make the first move and keeping an eye on Obama administration to take a definite stand. It all boils down to what the US will do and who will follow suit?

But as this happens it might just be too late to act.


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