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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Photo Says More Than Thousand Words

Not really. Context of that Photo is really important - after all it's just a snap shot in time - a very narrow one at that. One doesn't know what happened prior or after the-click moment. And one doesn't know what and who is beyond the visual frame of that photo.

Even then, this photo says a lot...

From The Men Who Killed Gandhi (via PTI/IE)

I am sure M.K. Gandhi was just saying salam after chatting with Jinnah, but historic events can be described simply by looking at this picture and the description of those events won't be too much off the mark.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Good Taliban, Bad Taliban

In an interview in Davos, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai explains why he wants to make a deal with Taliban, at least some of them.

The use of extremism for any purpose is not going to get you that purpose. Therefore, it is going to hurt all of us, as it is now hurting Pakistan. The Taliban in their native form are orthodox, not extremists. They don’t have an ideology of hate against others or using weapons against others. Tali means a student of a religious school — becoming a learned person in religious matters. That is not radicalism. Radicalism is a motivational thing, inspired by a certain belief.

Unfortunately, this radicalism has been used as a tool by others over the past three decades, first by the West in the conflict with the Soviet Union when they supported the radical elements of the mujahideen; then, as Benazir Bhutto referred to, that tool was used for strategic depth. So, it is important to distinguish the two Talibans. For Pakistan and Afghanistan to have a relationship in which each is confident of the other, we have to go beyond this concept of strategic depth and the use of radical elements as agents on behalf of a broader political agenda. Afghanistan will give all it can by the way of assurances and guarantees that a stable, prosperous Afghanistan will be an asset for Pakistan, not somehow at odds with their interests. [War against terror is not in Afghanistan, but Pakistan - The Hindu]

Apparently he is fine with Talibani ideology. One wonder what he was fighting in the 1990s - surely not al-Qaeda, which was not ruling over Afghanistan then. Trying to break up Taliban may be wise strategy to pursue in order to beat it, but if it's ideology is given a pass, it may take over Afghanistan again, repeating the 90s all over again.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Half-Republic Shastipurti

At this moment in history, at least half the time we are a republic - with only one dominating national party controlled by Queen Sonia's party. The other still looks to popular vote, and popular interest and welfare.

It's certainly a good omen to have Nano appear at the cusp of the new cycle of the country's life. Hope there are more truly local innovations yet to come, to change people's life, in the next 60-year cycle.

So, Happy Half-Republic Shastipurti!

Friday, January 11, 2008

A True Global Business Newsmaker

At first I wasn't impressed - I was expecting a Maruti 800 or a smaller version of Indica type car. But the more I saw it, I really like it. I think Nano is beautiful. It's an extraordinary design. It looks a bit like Mercedes Benz's Smart car, but is really in a different design league.

Almost a century after Ford started making Model T, cheap black coloured mass market car, in 1905, which upper-middle class Americans could buy, and almost half a century after VW Beetle, cheap rear-engine fun car, in mid-1960s, which everybody in U.S. and Europe could afford, Nano comes alive. It's going to change everything in Bharat. The way people live, the way people interact, and the way people see themselves. Today is truly a historic day, if Tata can pull off Nano as a viable business, as Sri Ratan Tata says can be done. Every family, other than the really poor, can buy this car. It's great!

2008 started with a bang for Bharatiya business. Although the economy itself is strong and most global companies have interests in India, usually not too much business news of global significance comes out of India. Mittal was it last year - but Mittal is a British company, not an Bharatiya one. The news of Nano, covered extensively by world news agencies, is a great start for 2008 and for the next decade for Indian businesses.