What A Bird!

Photo courtesy - NDTV

Among the millions of things that I track, Indian defence industry is one of the more important I must say and yesterday was a good day for fledgling indigenous armament industry. After waiting for four-five months, yesterday the first flight of the Indian gunship helicopter, Light Combat Helicopter took place, and am elated that it finally took off. I have been closely following any news on this project and LCA project for 2-3 years now and I am glad that the LCH program is off the air.. literally!! and the product is looking extremely nice in its first iteration itself. Tandem seating, helmet mounted sight and ability to fly in Siachen/Kargil heights. It's absence was felt in Kargil conflict, where modified M-17 gunships were sitting ducks, while huge M-24 could not operate at those icy heights. Well, what to say! what a bird! and kudos to everyone involved!

1984 v/s Brave New World

I am these days reading Huxley's "Brave New World", I found that there are unmistakable similarities with Orwell's 1984, in the sense of stark and futuristic London, where there is an all powerful and all knowing authority and everyone else is just a empty face walking down the street or working in the offices. But yet the two books are so so different in the way they showcase this alienation.. while 1984 had all its frugality, the Brave New World instead was full of unbridled excesses.. while 1984 was about rewriting the truth.. in Brave New World there was no truth, it's all make belief. in 1984 it is oppression that makes people forgo rights, in other it is pleasure that makes them do it. in 1984 there is an all engrossing pessimism, the other has a overwhelming consumerist nihilism.

This is from Wikipedia about the differences between these two seminal work of dystopian literature.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture. In 1984, people are controlled by inflicting pain.In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.

Just so that you know, 1984 is my favorite book.

Alan Moore : The Watchmen (Summary)

I have been reading the comic novel "The Watchmen" after watching the movie, which for all practical purposes I found to be an utter waste of time. The novel on the other hand has been quite a revelation not only with its storyline and the novelty of the idea but also the context. And the context here defines the story. It is seventies and tension is high between US and Soviet Union and both on trigger alert for nuclear weapon. In this all engrossing pessimism, the book captures the story of costumed super heroes out there to save the world, but in the end they manage to save the peace, only to lose themselves in the utter grotesque of violence and madness and insanity. The mood is set in New York, with all its malice of the congested city life where no one looks out for one another and crime. These heroes, fighting to save the city from crime, but themselves are a disoriented bunch. Never before, have we seen super heroes fail, or go mad or become a hired mercenary, but this novel captures the baser instincts of lust, of power and propensity for violence and makes a case against vigilantism. Also remarkable is the imagery and the subtle meaning of symbols that have been used multiple times, like the doomsday clock. Also the storyline is non-linear and jumps to different space, time, context and even stories. In the end, the heroes lose without having to fight the villains as there were none, the context and their inner dreads being their enemy.

Interwoven with the main story, is another totally different and gory tale about a pirate ship and and a survivor who in his lust for revenge, is blinded by the all consuming hate. Nietzsche was right with his observation "He who fights with monsters should be careful least he thereby becomes a monster. When you stare at the abyss, the abyss stares back at you." - One who starts knowing things about matters that are very different from what he is, he takes back a piece of it with himself and that piece changes him. so goddamn true.

Just so that know, "The Watchmen" is the the only comic novel that is included in the Time.com list of 100 best novels of 20th century.

Iraq War : Seven Years

Today marks the completion of seven years of US second invasion of Iraq. It was today in 2003 that American Abrams rolled into the Iraq, and lot of water has flown down Tigris by now. So an obvious question is was Iraq worth seven years of American blood, dollars and time (not belittling the contribution of the "Coalition of the Willing"). The answer is not that easy as you may think so. To see the picture in totality, you need a bigger construct. American ambition (call it Bush' ambition, it doesn't matter) in middle east was shaped by that fateful morning in mid-town Manhattan. After that US wore a tinted glasses with cross hairs where everything seemed to be a moving target & a potential threat. Iraq seemed to be an obvious target. There was history for it as well. Plus the CIA did a really good job(?) in flunking up intelligence of illicit uranium linked to Iraq. It was not that only Bush wanted war, when marines entered Baghdad, Bush's approval rating were record high, denoting widespread approval of his job in Iraq. At that time, the war seemed to be worth fighting for, even if there was collateral damage for America.

The problem started when America rammed into the driver's seat & not knowing how to drive. There were colossal failures in dealing with former Baathist & disbanded Iraqi armed forces. Plan B was not a choice then, because there was not even Plan A. All America had were newly painted humvees that they rolled that into the capital thinking they will be welcomed & indeed they were welcomed initially. But as the days passed by, a visible chaos in urban settlements, the disbanded Sunni majority armed forces become a freelancing mercenary carving out their areas of influence. When these areas began to intersect with Shiite areas of fiefdom, what followed was a carnage, where America took it on the chin & Al Queda (AQ) had all the prime footage. Then the coalition 'surge' followed which has brought a little semblance of sanity to Baghdad & other urban areas. I must give it to Bush that he has achieved some success in restoring order to those killing suburbs of Baghdad like Sadr City. Even I was sceptical if the surge would work especially in the desert expanse of Al Anbar, but it worked partly due to more boots on ground, Sunni tribe joining the fight against AQ, and alienation of Sunni masses with AQ besides Shiite factions backing down. Since the summer of 2007, the violence has been on the downward trend and the number of American soldiers have dropped to there lowest numbers since 2003 with complete with drawl by 2011. The elections had just been completed and they seems to be by and large peaceful, giving hope that this freckled country can still find its feet and prosper. But the Iraqi landscape is still deeply fragmented & this draw down of forces could hold ominous potent. Firstly the ability of AQ to still do mischief through a shock-and-awe campaign. Secondly the critical question of Kurdish areas and the fate of Kirkuk. Thirdly the criminalization of the Iraqi society. Forth, Iran. Fifth is the schism between Shiite factions. Sixth, is alienation of Sunni's with the Shiite led government.

Still all are are hopeful that the worst is over for Iraq and challenges going forward are not going to be as existential as they were before. I am hooting for optimism this time, after failing miserably on my misgivings on the effectiveness of the "surge".

WTF Picture Of The Day

Come to think of it, this is all tax payers money. my money, your money and our money. and recall ten days ago, the same people said that they don't have money in government coffers to pay for the victims of the stampede in the temple. now you get the picture, where that all money went. what to say, it's all sad.

Each ring of this garland has 45 notes of 1000 denomination, i.e 45,000 rupees. Each centimetre has got five such rings. 5 x 45,000 is Rs 2,25,000. This garland is 10 meters long i.e. 1000 cm. So 2,25,000 x 1000 becomes Rs 22,50,00000.

That is hell lot of money, i am sure they will have this dismantled before the enforcement authority get a hand on it. even if the numbers are inflated by a factor of 10, it is still a lot of dough. what is sickening is couple of things, in fact three things.

firstly, why is taxpayers money being used for such utter and shameless self-fulfilment. secondly, why this government can't even do even little bit for hapless citizens even after say it spends eighty percent on itself. It still can spend twenty percent on those great unwashed masses, is it too much to ask. and thirdly why does this government always have to hark back on injustices done to her community in the past to justify their shamelessness. isn't what they are doing now injustice to millions. I am filled with disgust.