Slum free nation

on Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In his recent budget speech, FinMin, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee promised a slum free India in upcoming five years and for this very purpose a sum of Rs. 3973 crore has been allocated for various slum clearance schemes. An initiation in this direction was taken way back in 50’s by central government then and states like Tamil Nadu also came forward to shoulder the responsibility with the union govt. But ever since, only the number of slum dwellers has gone high. A slum free city sounds like an unrealistic dream. Govt. should emphasize on replacing the slums with built ‘pakka’ houses rather than evicting slum dwellers. According to 11th five year plan report, to achieve the target of a slum free nation, by the end of 2012, a fund of Rs. 3,60,000 crore is required and the amount allocated this year in the budget is a meager1% of the requirements. The primary issue to be dealt is actually the poverty. Ways should be devised to improve the livelihood of people living below poverty line and reframing of housing is the need of the hour. There are rules for government owned residential lands stating 10% of such land banks is reserved for the economically weaker section of the society. But such rules are not followed in actual practice. Socially responsible real estate practises should be implemented to get the desired result.

Such a short journey

on Tuesday, July 7, 2009

All these years Pakistan's budget never revealed the details of expenditures under defence sector, but last year Pakistan's new government broke all the taboos and presented a budget which gave out more details of defence spending than ever. To add to the surprise, a 2hours debate stirred in the Senate, which was first parliamentary discussion ever on the defence budget. This year again, the episode was repeated and the defence budget was as detailed as last year's except that service-wise breakdown of allocation was not provided.

Pakistan's army suffered image tainting enormously during Musharraf reign. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who succeeded Mr. Musharraf, had this responsibility of repairing Pakistan army's image and he has done the job very well by accomplishing a big part of his mission in mere 2years.

From mid 2006, Pakistan Army suffered one setback aftaer another in terms of public relations under Musharraf regime attributing to his dual role as Army chief and the President. When second emergency was imposed in Pakistan in November 2007, public anger rose to its peak. When General Kayani held the office, his very first move was to recall all the serving officers from civilian government to army duties. During Musharraf's impeachment, army distanced itself from the whole drama. In March 2009, when Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhary was restored, Army backed up the restoration when there were protestors on the street. But the Swat valley operation brought the major attitude change towards army. The apparent sincerity with which the army took on the millitants drastically transformed the army's image.

Mr. Zaidi, on the other hand, said that two or three years down the line, there's a possibility that all these reports of army's role in governance and politics of Pakistan may turn out to be exaggeration. At present it appears that both government and army are working in sync for people's interest.

As for India, the army's image makeover in Pakistan has made things even more complex, as military repositioning in Pakistan is attributed to its ability to articulate more anger against India.

Military Coups and banana republics

on Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Banana Republic, the term was first introduced by Honduras, a small democratic republic in the Central America. Banana republic is a term used for countries that are politically unstable and depend on limited agriculture. Honduras is facing an ongoing political crisis. The President of Honuras was ousted by military from his official residence. Latin America left behind military coups long back which is a big accomplishment. But that doesn’t give the democratic government a blank cheque guarantee to last. There are times when governments just fall apart but the dispute can be resolved by some ways and means. But presidential system in Latin America is a rigid one ans so messiness ensues. This decade alone has witnessed many coups which were rather ’soft coups’. There was this coup against the president of Venezuela in 2002. But the international community including Washington, unanimously condemned the coup.

This coup in Honduras was a harsh one. Eight cabinet members were arrested and a new president was appointed on the same day as ouster of Mr. Zelaya, former president, Honduras. The political crisis that Honduras is in the midst of was triggered by Mr. Zelaya himself. He called for a referendum to make changes to the constitution and the idea was not supported by the army chief which resulted in president sacking him up. Supreme Court also called it unconstitutional.

Mr. Zelaya had the vision to visit Cuba and strengthen ties with Venezuela and have Honduras joined ALBA. This is why president Chavez of Venezuela has deplored the coup. If a political crisis was stirring in Honduras democracy some solution should have been found through a compromise between the government and the opposition.

President Lula of Brazil says they would not acknowledge any Honduran president except Mr. Zelaya. Chile is taking the same line as Brazil. Various International political cooperation mechanisms like the Rio group, the South American Community of Nations have come forward to denounce the coup. President Barack Obama has also condemned it. Honduras is a part of Central American Market and if it is excluded from it, its products would have a hard time competing in US markets.

If Mr. Zelaya gets back in his office, as a result of international pressure, it would show a new measure of hemispheric cooperation and committment of the community towards democratic stability and continuity. However, if the coup in Honduras is not reverted back, the political progress seen in this region will be undone.

Dare to dream

on Friday, June 26, 2009

Stand up tall,

And face the world.
O dear butterfly,
Just take my word.
Leave the cocoon,
And come out of the shell.
The world is beautiful,
Put all your fears on a quell.
Don't be shy,
Dare to dream.
And once you dream,
Make sure your anxieties are creamed.
Don't confine,
Break the shackles.
Courage, my dear
Is the key to all miracles.
Look at the crab,
It stays within its shell.
But to witness light,
Even it has to move out of the pall.
The efforts you make,
Will help you shine.
The wings fully grown
Will take you to cloud nine.
So put all your worries aside,
It's time to take that first stride.
Take your big leap,
Abandon the sheath.
For those beautiful wings,
Are hidden beneath.
O dear, remember the heed,
Only those who act, get the lead.
Even the most beautiful painting,
Was once white.
It took the artist numerous strokes
To turn it into a beautiful sight.

Five F.R.I.E.N.D.S. you must have

on Wednesday, April 29, 2009


"We cannot choose our family, but we can choose our friends," a wise man once said.

Your friends make your world and are -- in a manner of speaking -- a reflection of who you are. While you may not necessarily be known by the friends you keep, the right friends can make or break the way you feel about yourself and the things you do.

Think friends and what comes to mind is the life and times of those six

F.R.I.E.N.D.S., who entertained us for a decade.

We're sure you too draw similarities and parallels to what happened to Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Joey.

If you see yourself as one among the six, you need five friends, who will stand by you through thick and thin.

I know that sounds clich├ęd, but mark our words, with friends like these, you can't go wrong. So, here is our list of 5 friends everyone must have…

The positron (a.k.a enthu-cutlet)

The one friend who has never heard of the word no! Tell him/her you plan to quit your job and most likely answer is, "Go right ahead."

No questions asked; no explanations needed. He/she believes in you, no matter what!

The hard-hitter

This is the one who is always referred to as the hard-nosed dude. Nothing moves them, or so it seems. Guess what, you could do with more friends like these.

They may say an awful lot of things that hurt, but more often than not they will say it as is -- with love and without malice.

The man/girl friday

This one is a meddler and a compulsive one at that. But when all is said and done, you cannot do without them, you must have a friend like this one. This is the one who makes sure your wardrobe is in place for that important third date. If you are lucky, he/she may even offer to drive you so you don't have to take the train. 'Interference' is their middle name, but it is for your good. Honest.

The partner in crime

They are as bad as they come. From drinking and driving (which we don't endorse, by the way) to one night stands, this one is all for it. Yet, when it comes to being there, he/she is the 'wall'.

Your partner in crime is the one gets you drunk on your birthday or throws you a party when your divorce finally comes through. Frivolous to some, he/she is your rock when the going gets tough.

The unexpected friend

This one is the old (or middle-aged) piece of prehistory living next door, disapproves of your late nights and your loud music that blares all day. You can never be friends, or so you thought. After all he/she is much older than you, has never travelled abroad or even had a career!

Yet, their opinion counts and you know they will lend you a patient ear when things go wrong. And yes, a dabba is always ready for you when you are not well too!

Well, there you have it then. Five friends every woman must have. Love them, hate them, ignore them, but you cannot do without them!

Sketch I made

on Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My favourite nursery rhymes

on Friday, April 10, 2009


Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When there's nothing shining upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, through the night.

In the dark blue sky so deep
Through my curtains often peep
For you never close your eyes
’Til the morning sun does rise
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are!


Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Up Jack got and home did trot
As fast as he could caper;
And went to bed to mend his head
With vinegar and brown paper.

Jill came in and she did grin
To see his paper plaster;
Mother vexed did whip her next
For causing Jack's disaster.