Archive for December, 2018

Viet Nam War – Tunnels to Victory …

Posted on December 31, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career |

In order to combat better-supplied American and South Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War, Communist guerrilla troops known as Viet Cong (VC) dug tens of thousands of miles of tunnels, including an extensive network running underneath the Cu Chi district northwest of Saigon.

Soldiers used these underground routes to house troops, transport communications and supplies, lay booby traps and mount surprise attacks, after which they could disappear underground to safety.

The tunnels of Cu Chi were built over a period of 25 years that began sometime in the late 1940s. They were the improvised response of a poorly equipped peasant army to its enemy’s high-tech ordnance, helicopters, artillery, bombers and chemical weapons.

Cu Chi tunnels grew to house entire underground villages, in effect, with living quarters, kitchens, ordnance factories, hospitals and bomb shelters.

In some areas there were even large theatres and music halls to provide diversion for the troops (many of them peasants) and their supporters.

Soldiers cooked, ate, slept, worked, and even went to school in these tunnels as conflict raged above. Believe it or not, every important facility was built into this extraordinary tunnel system. Cu Chi was also used as a base for sabotage teams and intelligence agents to infiltrate Saigon.

Earlier in 1954, they had tunnelled to Victory at Dien Bien Phu against the French ….

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2018 – Wire’s Most Widely Read …

Posted on December 31, 2018. Filed under: Uncategorized |

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2018 – Year of Frauds …

Posted on December 31, 2018. Filed under: Indian Thought |

Sharp Increase in Fraud Cost Indian Banks Rs 42,167 Crore in 2017-18, Says RBI
Nirav Mody

Despite “stringent monitoring and vigilance,” data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) reveals that fraudsters have looted India banking institutions of Rs 42,167 crore in 2017-18.

This is a sharp increase of 72% from Rs 23,933 crore from the previous year, according to the Indian Express.

And another –

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Swatch Bharat …

Posted on December 31, 2018. Filed under: Indian Thought |

According to a 2015 study on the costs of poor sanitation authored jointly by the LIXIL Group Corporation, Water Aid and Oxford Economics, poor sanitation cost the world $222 billion in 2015. India accounted for almost half of that cost at $106 billion, or 5.2% of the country’s GDP. 

Kabir Agarwal’s series on open defecation in Uttar Pradesh stood out for me. Kabir has a knack for making the reader feel like they are embedded in the story, which he does here as well through his extensive reporting. The three-part series brings out the issues with the crucial Swachh Bharat Mission, with evocative narratives of false government claims and the daily struggles of people on the ground.

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Bond? No – Its Sherlock …

Posted on December 30, 2018. Filed under: Light plus Weighty |

The Case of the Missing Aircraft

My notes indicate that it was on a certain wintry December afternoon of the year ’18 that I found myself once more in front of our old barsati at b122, Bekar Street, the starting point of so many remarkable adventures I have had in the company of my friend Mr ‘Chalak’ Om.

I find it recorded in my scribbled memo that I was having difficulty breathing that day on account of Delhi’s polluted air. (I find the same thing recorded also for every other day of the year. In a year or two after that, we learnt to stop breathing in order to cope with the situation.)

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India China in Perspective …

Posted on December 30, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career |

At the strategic level, joint-ness strengthens political will since the Commander-in-Chief, Xi Jinping, understands the war escalation ladder – or the spectrum between credible deterrence and military coercion.

Without robust political will, the chances of a nation succumbing to military coercion increase exponentially. A case in point is April 2018’s Wuhan informal summit, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought peace with President Xi Jinping following the 2017 Doklam crisis.

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What Makes a Country Great …

Posted on December 29, 2018. Filed under: Books, Roman Thought |

“The Republic of Rome provides those who go into public life with everything they need,” …………. Reputation was far more important to this Roman – and This is what make a People Great.

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India vs China n Chess vs Go …

Posted on December 19, 2018. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom, From a Services Career, Indian Thought |


Satellite map of Chumbi Valley, Doklam region. Credit: Scribble Maps

Here are dictums for would be Napoleons —

Talking of Strategy vis a vis Tactics – the Guy said the former is what you do to handle the Mom n the latter is what you do to tackle the Daughter ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………And talking of Plans, this is what he thundered – “If the Enemy does this then your plans must ensure he gete ‘F…..d’ Right Royally but if he does the Alternate, then your plans must ensure that he gets ‘B……d’ – Good and Proper…

And By Jove – if he does what You have not thought of —- then be prepared for him to do Both to You!!!

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Kabir, Akbar, Babur …

Posted on December 14, 2018. Filed under: Personalities |

Kabir was recognised as a ‘Muwahidd’ both in the liberal Muslim circles in medieval India, of which Abu’l Fazl is the most shining symbol as well as in orthodox circles and both emphasised that Kabir’s Muwahidd status went beyond the bounds of Islam and Hinduism.

What did Kabir do to earn this distinction?

He questioned two prevailing orthodoxies: the concept of rival Gods and the need for religious rituals for worshipping Him. In place of Allah and Ishwar he conceptualised a single universal God; in place of denominational religions, he conceptualised a universal religiosity.

Bhai re do jagdis kahan se aaya; kahu kaune bauraya (Brother, where have two gods come from, who has misled you into believing it?),” he asserted. “

Alla, Ram, Karima, Kesav Hari Hajrat naam dharaya (Allah, Ram, Karim, Kesav, Hari, Hajrat – they are all the same identity).” His entire collection of poetry is teeming with this single theme.

He also ridiculed the rituals of going to temples or masjids to worship God, the rituals that Abu’l Fazl refers to and himself endorses giving these up.

Kabir was thus displacing the age-old dichotomy between denominational religions with a remarkably innovative concept, i.e. dichotomy between universal religiosity and denominational religions.

One God for him no longer stood for one community, but for all of humanity. It eliminated rivalry between gods and included them all in a single fold.

And Akbar

Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, who ruled most of India for almost half a century between 1556 and 1605 was totally illiterate. But he had the innate inquisitiveness to question virtually everything and only a convincing reason would satisfy him.

He questioned the use of several letters for the same sound in the Arabic alphabet, the inhumanity of child marriage, the denial of a daughter’s share in her father’s property, the treatment of sexuality as mere pious duty rather than a source of pleasure, but above all, he questioned denominational religion as the basis of legitimacy of the state.

Indeed, he firmly held that “truth inhabited every religion; how was it then that the Muslim community, which was relatively young, less than a millennium old, should receive preference at the expense of others?”

The notion of any religion-based state would necessarily involve discrimination against other religionists. To seek a resolution between his quest of a common truth and religious discrimination,

Akbar established the famous Ibadat Khana (House of Worship) where first the Ulama (Islamic theologians) and soon others – Brahmins, Jesuits, Jains, Zoroastrians – discussed the truth of their respective religions. In the end, Akbar arrived at the concept of sulh-i kul, universal peace, which would be entirely non-discriminatory.

Attributes of a great monarch

It was Akbar’s courtier, historian and counsel, Abu’l Fazl, author of Akbar Nama, who created the conceptual architecture of sulh-i kul. Clearly this was a total alternative to the concept of a religion-based state. Abu’l Fazl elaborates the qualities that mark out a great monarch.

Lineage, collection of wealth, and the assembling of a mob are not essential for this rare dignity, in Abu’l Fazl’s words; “on coming to the throne, if the king did not establish sulh-i kul for all time and did not regard all groups of humanity and all religious sects with the single eye of favour and benevolence and not be the mother to some and step-mother to others, he will not become worthy of the exalted dignity.”

And Babur

Among several other records, Babur could probably be credited with having inspired the largest number of biographies among the long list of emperors of India. Babur: Timurid Prince and Mughal Emperor by Stephen Frederic Dale is one more, one which is brief, crisp and easy on the mind’s eye. This, by an old hand at the study of “Islamic” empires and societies in West and Central Asia, Iran and India. Giving us a biography of Babur is for him not a new enterprise.

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As Good as it Gets – Modi n RBI …

Posted on December 13, 2018. Filed under: Indian Thought |

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