Buying Pakistan’s Nukes!

Check out this article in the WSJ. The author has an interesting proposal. He says “Buy Pakistan’s nukes!”

While President-elect Obama has talked about “taking out” identified targets if the Pak government was not willing to act, India has shown signs of flexing its muscles, and President Zardari has supposedly clamped down on terrorist groups, there appears to be no conclusive long term solution. The author does have an interesting and possibly workable solution.

The government of Pakistan would verifiably eliminate its entire nuclear stockpile and the industrial base that sustains it. In exchange, the U.S. and other Western donors would agree to a $100 billion economic package, administered by an independent authority and disbursed over 10 years, on condition that Pakistan remain a democratic and secular state (no military rulers; no Sharia law). It would supplement that package with military aid similar to what the U.S. provides Israel: F-35 fighters, M-1 tanks, Apache helicopters. The U.S. would also extend its nuclear umbrella to Pakistan, just as Hillary Clinton now proposes to do for Israel.

A deal such as this or a similar deal is probably the most viable suggestion seen in the media lately. It will  hasten the peace in Kashmir as well and cut down on the growth of terrorism in Pakistan.

Bye-Bye Net Neutrality?

Saw this article in the WSJ today which talks about how Google (one of the big proponents of net neutrality) is striking deals with network providers!That’s quite a U-turn for Google.

Google Inc. has approached major cable and phone companies that carry Internet traffic with a proposal to create a fast lane for its own content, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

It will be interesting to see the approach of the Obama administration in this regard considering his pro-net neutrality stance prior to the election. For now, it certainly appears as though net neutrality is doomed.

“The Internet is perhaps the most open network in history, and we have to keep it that way,” he told Google employees a year ago at the company’s Mountain View, Calif., campus. “I will take a back seat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality.”

Arundhati Roy Weighs in On The Mumbai Attack

Check out Arundhati Roy’s article on the recent tragedy is Mumbai.

If there is a controversy around can Arundhati Roy be far behind?  The article is very long but as always brilliantly written so you could read easily without ever feeling that the author is rambling.

Arundhati Roy’s eternal anti-establishment radar is firmly in tact. So as expected she blames India and its religious Hindu-right. However, if you read the entire article, towards the end you will notice that she is partly responding to a tirade against her on TV.

While the Sangh Parivar does not seem to have come to a final decision over whether or not it is anti-national and suicidal to question the police, Arnab Goswami, anchorperson of Times Now television, has stepped up to the plate. He has taken to naming, demonising and openly heckling people who have dared to question the integrity of the police and armed forces. My name and the name of the well-known lawyer Prashant Bhushan have come up several times. At one point, while interviewing a former police officer, Arnab Goswami turned to camera: “Arundhati Roy and Prashant Bhushan,” he said, “I hope you are watching this. We think you are disgusting.” For a TV anchor to do this in an atmosphere as charged and as frenzied as the one that prevails today, amounts to incitement as well as threat, and would probably in different circumstances have cost a journalist his or her job.

Apart from this part of the article which is clearly in defense of the personal attack against her, the rest of the article brilliantly captures all aspects of the recent Mumbai attacks and its aftermath as well as the larger context with specific reference to past events. Definitely worth reading!

Yahoo’s CEO Hunt

Check out this listing of potential ideas for who should lead Yahoo from Ex-Yahoos.

I think the most interesting idea I got from all the many former Yahoos I spoke to was that Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs swoop in and buy Yahoo.

This a wild card idea. Nevertheless a really cool one. Jobs clearly resurrected Apple and turned it once again int an exciting company. Considering that there are rumors about his health and the fact that Apple has its own share of challenges, this would be a huge stretch. Yahoo surely needs a savior, and a really big savior. Its not surprising in the least bit that someone thought of Steve Jobs.

Two Indias: Probably Here to Stay

There is an interesting article in the Washington Post about the outrage expressed in India over the recent attacks. Unlike attacks in the past when the rich where unaffected for the most part, this attack specifically targeted the rich and famous.

“For the train bombings, the outrage was there, but it was never really heard,” Ronel said, his hands black from shoe polish. “More people died in the train bombings, but they were ordinary Indians, not high-society industrialists or foreigners or film industry people. Where were the protest marches after the train attacks?”

While its hard to disagree with this sentiment, the protests and concern expressed are a good place to start. It was heartening to hear that for the first time Muslim communities have come forward to in sizable numbers to condemn the attacks.

“The hard reality of this country is that we are living in two Indias. One is for the rich, who matter, and one is for the poor, who are invisible,” said Ashok Agarwal, a lawyer who runs Social Jurist, a group that litigates education cases on behalf of the marginalized sections of society. “In India, you can use the poor for your benefit. He should cook your meals, wash your utensils, scrub your clothes, but when it comes to doing justice for the victims of other bombings, there wasn’t this level of outrage. When poor people were attacked, the country wasn’t suddenly insecure. This is a fundamental injustice, and it has led to authorities ignoring attacks.”

One can only hope that in future (god forbid if there are other attacks) the level of concern and cries for accountability will be heard again.

The opposition BJP took a “soft on terror” line of attack against the Congress in the recent assembly poolls and it didn’t quite pay the desired results. So its a sign that the outrage felt in Mumbai hasn’t really carried to the rest of the country.  If this is to be believed, the two Indias are here to stay for the forseeable futre.

Pay-up and Collect Your US Senate Seat!

Illinois Governor, Blagojevich was willing to trade the US Senate seat to replace President-elect Obama for cash and other favors. Check out some excerpts from the  “Blagojevich tapes“.

Giving the Governor the authority to appoint a Senator is way too much power and its not surprising that there are those who choose to misuse this power. It remains to be see what the fallout of this scandal is going to be and whether Mr. Obama himself or any of his high powered team are going to be drawn into this in some form given that the President-elect and some of his associates are themselves products of the infamous world of “Chicago Politics”. Finally, the Republicans have something to smile about and go to town with!

Zardari Takes a Few Nervous Steps

Gotta feel for President Zardari. He lost his wife to a terrorist attack. He inherited a messy, bankrupt country packed with terrorists, and an unstable Afghanistan and a thriving arch-enemy India as its neighbors. And now following the despicable act of violence by Pakistani nationals who travelled to Mumbai Zardari now has to face the wrath of India. Under pressure from the US government Zardari seems to have relented and cracked down on the LeT. Now India wants the terrorists handed over. Many in Pakistan are bound to be upset with recent raids on the LeT. The terrorists are probably planning their revenge for these attacks, while the border states with Afghanistan are under severe threat of being run over by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Check out President Zardari’s piece in the NY Times. He says that the Pakistani Government has nothing to do with these “non-state actors” when its widely believed that these groups have thrived with support from the ISI.

Pakistan is committed to the pursuit, arrest, trial and punishment of anyone involved in these heinous attacks. But we caution against hasty judgments and inflammatory statements. As was demonstrated in Sunday’s raids, which resulted in the arrest of militants, Pakistan will take action against the non-state actors found within our territory, treating them as criminals, terrorists and murderers. Not only are the terrorists not linked to the government of Pakistan in any way, we are their targets and we continue to be their victims.

Then, he takes a “we are in this together” stance though he won’t possibly hand over any of the wanted terrorists to India. Begs the question, if Pakistan can share intelligence then can’t they turn over criminals too?

Terrorism is a regional as well as a global threat, and it needs to be battled collectively. We understand the domestic political considerations in India in the aftermath of Mumbai. Nevertheless, accusations of complicity on Pakistan’s part only complicate the already complex situation.

Nevertheless, a well-written article. A sign that Pakistan’s PR engine is alive and well. Besides Zardari deserves credit for attempting to reign in the LeT. If he can sustain this while continuing to remain in-charge (not to mention remain alive!), by keeping the Pak army at bay, and the ISI in-check, it will go a long way in improving relations with India. On the other hand, the general public in Pakistan would do well to openly condemn the attack on Mumbai like some Muslims in India.

Will Mr. Chidambaram respond with the Indian view?

p.s: Meanwhile, here is another very interesting piece on Pakistan’s struggles.

Movie Review: Outsourced

Title: Outsourced

Starring: Josh Hamilton, Ayesha Dharker

This is one of the many movies based on the topic of outsourcing. In hindsight it would perhaps have been more timely to release this film now (in the midst of the meltdown) rather than in 2006. An American firm dealing with novelty products shuts down a department and starts an operation in India. One of the Managers is shipped out to India to train the staff there. 

There are plenty of funny scenes as the American Manager gets exposure to India both at the workplace and outside. A needless romance is thrown into the film but completely lacks any conviction. It is very obvious that this is a rather low budget film. The overall script is weak and despite the fairly realistic portrayal of India, the film fails to sustain its momentum. Josh Hamilton and Ayesha Dharker as the lead pair deliver decent performances. 

 If you haven’t seen any film on the topic of outsourcing, then this might be worth a few laughs.

Desperately Seeking: Bush Legacy

9/11, Iraq War, Katrina, the Financial meltdown….the list goes on. In the final days of his Presidency, Mr. Bush and his team are desperately attempting to shape public opinion with regards to his obviously awful legacy. The latest spin seems to be “At least Bush kept us safe”. Conservative columnist, Peggy Noonan of the WSJ went one step ahead and took a pre-emptive strike at the Obama presidency by saying “Democrats will not want tacked onto the end of that sentence, “unlike Obama.” thereby setting the stage for the next line of Republican attack, god-forbid there be another terrorist attack on the US.

President Bush spent the last eight years making Americans believe that they are terribly unsafe while simultaneously antagonizing the rest of the world and giving them plenty of reasons to retaliate against Americans. Thankfully, the Wall Street meltdown forced Americans (at least 54%) to stop deluding themselves about the importance of safety and focusing instead on their pocket books.  President-elect Obama would be doing Americans (and the world!) a great service if he were to dispel this myth that “we live in a dangerous world” in four years and give other nations less reasons to hate Americans.

For the moment, the love for Obama seems to be virtually endless. When the likes of Karl Rove are “reassured” you gotta really feel the luv! Here is another positive article on Obama’s cabinet picks in the WSJ of all places. President-elect Obama has made a strong start with a virtual “dream team” for his cabinet and little opposition in the media (barring a nervous left). It remains to be seen how he can translate this all round love to some definitive results. Meanwhile, the man on the way out has an outside chance to add, “I saved GM” to his otherwise guaranteed woeful legacy.