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Persia Reawakens

When Iranian President Hasan Rouhani began to speak at the media summit in Tehran where I was invited to speak, I pleasantly realized that I could get a drift of his speech. There were so many words like “hefazat” ( protection) and “Vajood” ( existence), “ Nizamay Islamiya” ( Islamic paramountcy), “azaadi”  and many more such words that flowed so effortlessly from him in his long speech that I understood due to my understanding of Urdu- which is almost 80 percent Persian. He spoke on why freedom of the press had to be protected and the importance for job security for journalists.

Faking it with impunity

At the site of the encounter in Bhopal where eight alleged SIMI terrorists were killed in cold blood, there were scores of people with smartphones recording the grisly happenings. The images, accompanied by the frenetic voices, establish to ordinary senses the crime of a fake encounter or extra-judicial killings. Interestingly, there was not just one but different videos shot from all kinds of angles. And all of them told the same story. Why does it not worry the perpetrators – the police – that for this crime they could be punished?

Biryani in the time of Fafdas

My recent trip to Gujarat was largely uneventful except for all the fafdas (some crazy shaped puffs made of gram flour) that I had during my road journey to Surat from Ahmedabad. Every time I would tell my driver Ratanbhai that I wanted to have tea and a little bite - he would park the car at the nearest fafda place. I wanted to have an omelette and told him so, but I could not have committed a bigger blasphemy in his eyes. He made a dirty face and told me that it was not available on this highway and its consumption was generally not encouraged!

Paradigm Shift Needed

For many years, the Indian economy has been called a ‘gamble with the monsoon’. This means that if the monsoon fails then with it the Indian economy tanks as well.  For the past two years, precipitation has been precariously low in many parts of the country; reservoirs have dried up, and images of parched and cracked lands have been flooding TV screens. Just before this year's monsoons lived up to the Indian Metrological Department (IMD) prediction of more than normal rain, there was a long list of people who had committed suicide in different parts of the country.

Borderline Baptism

“When you see the Jordan river don’t go too close to it or do anything outrageous that provokes the Israeli soldiers,” cautioned our guide, Salaheddin Abunaffaa, as we headed towards the site where John the Baptist baptised Jesus into the Christian faith.