Violence in the Middle East

The shock of the Bombay blasts have barely set in and the Middle East has erupted! If the US does not intervene immediately, the situation could easily get out of hand.

This is a great opportunity for President Bush to reach out to the Arab world by pressing Israel to go easy. Another tough call for the President.

Bombay Blasts

The recent bomb blasts in Bombay deserve to be condemned by all and sundry. It was only a matter of time that the terrorists strike again after NY, Spain, and London. What was surprising was that India was the target this time around given that India has been relatively lying low on Iraq, Afghanistan and other issues. So it was a little surprising that India was the target this time around.

In any case, a few post-blast developments deserve to be mentioned.

  • The Govt. Of India has been cautious. They have not come out and blamed their neighbors. At least not yet.
  • LeT and some of the other groups have condemned the attack and said that they were not responsible for them. (I can’t recall where I read this!)

Both of these are positive developments no doubt. One can only hope that there is no retaliation of any sort for these attacks. Such moves by anyone or any group can only worsen an already bad situation. Retaliation of any sort will only perpetuate the cycle of violence.

Pak cricket team and Islam

Interesting article on religion and the Pak cricket team. (Credit to the writer for writing openly and repeatedly on the issue. Its good to see discussion on the issue)

The Pak team might have been united by Islam, but if they continue to look to religion (like they seem to be doing) to unite them, the baggage that comes with religion is likely to rear its ugly head soon. Just look at the religious clashes in Iraq — muslims killing muslims. The bad part about religion is that it tends to divide as much if not more than unite.

Pak has enough muslim diversity to start tensions. Its only a matter of time before there are religious groups formed within the team, the board, the selectors (if they haven’t already). The Sunnis vs Shias vs Ismailis vs Bohras vs ….

Just as the younger players of today’s Pak team are products of an increasingly Islamic Pak so will the officials of tomorrow, as the Inzys and Saeed Anwars graduate to non-playing roles. Those who don’t neccessarily believe in this trend are likely to tow the party line so to speak — possible examples being Shoaib Akthar and Yousuf Youhana.

At a min the Pak board must instruct it players not to publicly display their religious fervor. Its fine to kiss the ground and do whatever when you score a century or pick up a wicket, but group prayers on the ground is a needless display of religion especially when the Kanerias of Pak are still on the team.

Can you imagine an extensive pooja replete with coconut breaking, a fire, priest, bhajans, prasad and what not before a match. Will the Pak officials allow this when India is playing in Pak?

What next? Shoaib Akthar racing into to bowl at Sachin Tendulkar screaming “Allah-o-Akbar” and Sachin in turn smashing it over the fence followed by a chant of “Jai Sriram”.

The Pak board must intervene immediately (subtly to avoid a backlash) before this gets out of hand. If immediate steps are not taken there could be needless tensions especially when featuring teams like India and Pak.

Thankfully, the Indian team has managed to stay away from such issues and the country as a whole deserves credit for this. Its a fine example of India’s secular intent, at least for the most part.

C’mon. Let cricket and religion remain separate. Please.

Movie Review: Crash

Language: English
Oscar winner, must-see.
Starring: Lots of actors (Matt Dillon) and actresses (Sandra Bullock) with no specific lead role. (Don’t know the names of the other actors though many of them appear to be familiar faces).

A brilliantly made film that revolves around events that occur over a period of 36 hours all of which involve several different characters from different ethnic backgrounds living in LA. At the end the story tactfully brings all these characters and events together. Along the way, the director manages to explore each character’s motivations, strengths and weaknesses. Illegal immigrants, gangsters, racism, armed robbery, ethnic stereotyping, politics and political motivations, homicide, you name it –All the present day issues are blended into the story. The editing is excellent so there is no dull moment and its fast-paced.

A fine plot, excellent film-making, great acting, brilliant direction. This film is a “must watch”. Make sure you are alert will watching the film. If not, you are likely to miss the subtleties, and the various linkages in the story.

Setback for India

India has been riding a wave of positive news in global media: outsourcing, economic boom, jobs, nuclear deal with the US etc. The failed satellite launch closely following the missile test failure is quite a serious set back for an emerging economic power. Wonder what caused these failures after years of successful similar efforts? Will this re-set India’s planned trip to the moon? Remains to be seen.