Showing posts from December, 2007

Benazir's assassination: Terror takes a new turn in Pakistan

Till the day before yesterday, we had only 'suicide bomb' attacks. Yesterday, we saw for the first time a 'suicide gun and bomb attack'.

See video of the BBC report on the assassination here.

The game between terrorists and the state is one of improvisation. One tries to outwit the other. As Margret Thatcher said, a terrorist needs to be lucky only once, but others have to be lucky always.

Ever since Benazir Bhutto came back to Pakistan confronting headon explicit terror threat to her life, she has been lucky -- the closest she came to losing it was immediately upon her arrival when a suicide bomber killed scores except Benazir. Yesterday, an attacker improvised the cruel methodology, shot at her during the brief moments she emerged out of her secure van, and set off an explosion. Benazir's luck ran out.

Yesterday evening in my office, when I saw a colleague was rushing to our boss's cabin, I knew there was something major that had happened. "Bhutto has been k…


Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been killed in a presumed suicide attack, a military spokesman has announced on TV. Ms Bhutto had just addressed a pre-election rally in the town of Rawalpindi when the bomb went off.

More here from BBC.

BBC does not use the word 'terrorist'

The BBC as a matter of policy does not use the word terrorist. They choose words very carefully. Day before yesterday, there was a bomb attack on a mosque in Pakistan in which more than 50 people died. In their TV news bulletins, BBC did not use the word terrorist. More than that, they had a sentence: "... search is on for the organisers of the attack."
Read Telegraph story on bomb attack hereRead BBC online report on the bomb attack hereThis is not a new policy. It looks like the decision was taken in the aftermath of the July 7, 2005 London Underground and bus bombings. While the first reports on the BBC website referred to "terrorists" later they changed it to "bombers". BBC's explanation was: they do not want to use words that "carry emotional or value judgements". Read Telegraph report of July 12, 2005, on this hereRead the Criticisms and the BBC's explanation on July 13, 2005 hereRead the BBC's editorial guidelines on "Use …

London Calling: BBC World Service completes 75 years

The British Broadcasting Corporation is arguably the best mass news media organisation in the world. What is most remarkable is that it has kept pace with time, without losing its traditional core values: it hasn't changed, even though it has adapted to modern technology. Not many media organisations can claim that.

Some of the other channels that were quite popular in India were the Voice of America, Radio Australia, Radio Netherlands, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Deutsche Welle etc. I said were because today it's extremely difficult to receive these stations even on a good shortwave radio because of the crowding of the airwaves by other signals like that of mobile phones.

Up to a good 15 years back reception in the morning and evening was so clear, it was a pleasant experience listening to these international radio stations, some of which also have broadcasts in Indian languages like Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Punjabi etc. These vernacular language broadcasts are ver…

Blogger comments using openID & Google's Knol

Two interesting tech-related developments.

Blogger now supports openID

Blogger has fulfilled one of the most persistent demands. It now allow readers to comment by using their blog URL with openID-enabled services like Wordpress, Livejournal etc.

What is openID?

When we visit websites, some of them require us to register with them using a username and password. The problem is for different sites we need to login with (sometimes) a different username and password. Websites that conform to OpenID technology allow us the convenience of logging in using the same username and password for all. Read more about its what, where and how here.

Blogger has chosen a few popular OpenID providers -- like Wordpress, Livejournal, Typekey etc -- to highlight on the comments form. But since the whole technology is literally "open", we can use any URL that we control as our "OpenID URL". Read more what is Blogger is doing about it here.

A competitor for Wikipedia?

The other bit of interesti…

School shootout in India too: now what next?

Ever since yesterday's shooting of a 14-year-old boy in a Gurgaon school I have been speaking to a number of people, children included. After all that, I am more worried than relieved.

This morning, a friend of mine gave me a shocking bit of news. She told me how, last evening, a few boys in the 16-18 age group in her neighbourhood almost justified yesterday's incident. "Probably the boys may have been provoked so much," is what they told my friend. She was so shocked she didn't know how to react.

It's very clear children aren't able to comprehend the gravity of the incident. "What crime a child could have done that needs to be punished by shooting him dead" is not a question a teenager can understand. Leave children, today we are supposed to be progressing to a stage when the crime of even an adult is not worth being punished with death. Reformation, not punishment, is the key. Or, so I thought.

If a teenager has to plan a murder 24 hours in advan…

British Library, Thiruvananthapuram, to close down

"The British Library in Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala, south India) will cease to function on March 31, 2008. All transactions will be terminated on February 29. The library’s stock of books will be redistributed among other British Libraries in the country. These decisions were announced at a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday by British Council’s Minister of Cultural Affairs Rod Pryde," says a report in The Hindu.

Of course, no reasons have been given. But it is obvious: lack of money.

With a presence in 11 cities, the network of British Libraries in India is the largest in the world. The cities are Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune, Thiruvananthapuram. The Bhopal centre will also be closed down.

It's depressing. It's sad that a state like Kerala should lose such a treasure of knowledge. The libraries used to get a lot of support from the British government, but over the years that aide has been…

Malaysian Indians: Resolve the issue

One thought that the situation in Malaysia, where ethnic Malaysian Indians have been carrying out a campaign inter alia for equal rights, would sort itself out. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem so. And, what a bad time for this to happen: Malaysia is celebrating 50 years of its independence from Britain.


One of the underlying causes is the issue of Malays being favoured over other immigrants in Malaysia (Bhoomiputra Policy). Then there is an issue of ethnic Indians seeking compensation from the British for the plight as it was the British who brought them in 19th century from India to Malaysia as indentured labourers.

It all came to a boil on Sunday, November 25, when thousands of Indians gathered, in violation of a court stricture. One of the aims of the rally was to demand the compensation. The rally was broken up by the police. The next day the protesters, who had been charged with sedition, were released since the prosecution could not translated the words purportedly ut…

A filmy reality

The reality for many people is just filmy: as thin as a strip of film: thin and light; hazy and misty; sometimes fine and gauzy.

It has all happened at an amazing pace. Yesterday afternoon, Madhuri Dixit's comeback movie Aaja Naachle hit the screens. By evening, the discusison generally centred around how good the movie is, how well she has performed, how successful has her comeback been, etc. Around midnight news came in that Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati had banned the movie across her state. Reason: a line in a song that is offending to the Dalits, or the backward caste people.

The damage control has been equally fast-paced. Seasoned producer Yash Chopra within hours of the late-night diktat, sent out instructions to get the offending line removed. By today morning, we have had apologies and clarifications pouring in on the lines of "o, we never thought it would hurt people", " we never meant it", "we are really sorry you people are hurt", e…