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A Novel Prize for Obama

The Nobel peace prize awarded last week was a surprise. It should read shocking, but then according to me this is not the first time the Nobel committee that selects person, that it thinks competent to receive this award, has done something weird or egregious. I first thought or understood about this, in 1983, when it chose Lech Walesa, for the peace award. I remember wondering why they would choose a person who was essentially striking against a government employer and the associated system, while another person was in prison and was not found worthy, even though he was fighting a curse to humanity. Could it be that one was white and the other black, could it be that one was fighting socialism, and the other just racism. I am referring to Nelson Mandela.

This was not the only place where i think the Nobel committee erred in judgment. It erred again, in the context of the same Nelson Mandela, according him the peace prize, to be shared jointly with the head of a racist government. Earlier too, Henry Kissinger of the US, was selected for the same prize, because he helped negotiate a cease-fire with Vietnam. Ironically this shared prize was rightfully rejected by Le Duc Tho. An equivalent in history would have been Hitler and Stalin being selected for the peace prize for negotiating a non-aggression pact. A casual glance through the list of all winners till date will raise enough eyebrows. In this context, the award of this year’s prize to Obama, should hardly cause a ripple.

Obama, is undoubtedly a star on his own, given that he was able to convince the people of USA, to elect him as the President. His tag line, ‘Audacity of Hope‘, is a good reflection of his thinking and his perseverance against odds. He deserves commendation for all his efforts big and small, after being sworn into office this January; reaching out to people of middle-east and Islam, message to Iranians on Nowruz, closing the prison in Guantanamo Bay, reconciliation with Cuba, his approach and belief in UN, climate change, etc. While he is engineering action and change at home, he has been presenting a different America to the world, and this alone deserves acclamation. For all these, he is held in great esteem by more people outside America, than inside.

Irrespective of all that he has done till date, i dont not think his statements and gestures made for international cooperation and those in particular about reducing nuclear stockpiles, warrant an award. Having said this, i have to conclude that the committee that chooses candidates for these awards have made stranger decisions. It is best for people to realize that this is not an indication of achievement, but more of appeasement by a small group of people. That perception should bring peace to poor souls who fret and fume about these decisions.

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SriLanka – solving the crisis

According to me the first step in solving the crisis that is affecting Sri Lanka today is – dissolving the LTTE, surrender and arrest of its leaders.

LTTE was muddying up the waters, and causing problems for all parties involved in arriving at a solution to the problems of the tamil population. The tamil being an ethinic minority had been subjugated by the sinhala majority, since winning independence from the british in 1948. The Sri Lankan population has close connections with India. The tamils were labourers taken by the british to work on the plantations in the erstwhile Ceylon. The brits have always showcased their ability to disrupt life as they see it. They have consistently exploited the local differences, highlighted or fabricated issues in their colonies to hold on to power. And when they left, they simply packed their bags and left, leaving behind all the problems they created. The tamil problem was one such malevolent gifts to the state of SriLanka.

The sinhalese majority started by isolating and then later abusing the tamil minority. It was but natural for the tamils to start fighting for their rights. Groups like LTTE, ERPLF. TULF, and many more quickly spurted all over the tamil majority areas. But unlike the others the LTTE, and its leader Prabhakaran had an agenda to control the full tamil eelam all by himself. Like most armed uprising, the leaders soon hallucinate about ruling the state they are fighting for, and do not believe in diluting power or in democratic norms. It simple and straightforward, armies do not, can not and must not operate in a democratic fashion. Armies operate under military rule. People leading armed struggles, quickly think they are a general, and the band of people who are sacrificing their lives for this struggle are soldiers and believe that democratic rule later will only result in their importance being diminished.

With this change in behaviour, LTTE soon changed from a force fighting for the tamil cause, to a force fighting the tamil. This also meant they had to hold on to power, and fight the SriLankan army, neighbouring states, their own people, or anyone who would come in the way. This was the main reason for the LTTE to fight the Indian Army and go after the Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. And because of that one reason alone, the LTTE as a force and organization must be eradicated. Because today they are coming in the way, of India helping the tamil cause.

As soon as LTTE is extinguished, SriLanka must be forced to re-introduce the federal structure that was negotiated earlier. The tamil population and states must then participate in democratic elections within the SriLankan constitution. If for some reason, SriLanka decides against this, thinking the defeat of LTTE means the defeat of the tamils, they are wrong. And more importantly, India must step into prove them wrong.

Strike the LTTE

For the past few months, i have been closely watching the progress of the civil war in Sri Lanka. I was drawing immense pleasure from the fact that the LTTE, the terror organization that has been leading the battle against the Sri Lankan government, was being routed from bastion and being reduced to smaller and smaller territory to control. And Prabakaran the leader of LTTE has been running and running. I have been waiting with bated breath for his arrest, death or his suicide. Cynical, but such is the hatred for this man and his organization, which has hijacked the agenda in Sri Lanka. What should have been an organization to safeguard tamil interests had quitely become a massive terror organization, involved in drugs, arms and all other means of raising cash and money for the sake of one man.

I have known of the LTTE and the struggle and sufferings of the tamils in Sri Lanka from the time i started my college. The colleges used to close for about a week as token of sympathy for the tamils, within a month after the summer break. For us kids, it was more fun time to enjoy. But yet, with all that fun, in our minds we used to sympathize with the tamils and LTTE. The LTTE was encouraged and even possibly supported by the Indian Government and TamilNadu state governments. Support for LTTE and a few other tamil leaders and groups were part of the sympathy to the general sufferings of the tamil. All that changed with Rajiv Gandhi, his efforts to maintain peace, his fight with the LTTE and finally his assasination in 1991. LTTE was soon a cursed organization and its leader was a wanted man in India and elsewhere. But we had to wait almost another 20 years before he could be hounded like this.

Today, the party that governs TamilNadu, DMK has called for a general strike in sympathy of the sufferings of the tamil people in Sri Lanka. The sad part is, that today, i hold on such feelings in my heart or mind any more. I am sorry that they have to suffer. It is unfortunate, and hopefully it will be soon over, with the capture and death of Prabhakaran and his LTTE. Because till that is done, i dont see how the Indian government can or should help. Once the LTTE is finished, i think the Indian government must step in again like Rajiv Gandhi did and ensure the Sri Lankan government does not go back to the old days.

The War in Iraq

In what seems to be quite a revelation, the US is slowly admitting that Iraq is not going well. The rumbling Rumsfeld made some comments on the sunday TV, the weekly morning talk show, where the spin of the week is addressed or launched. This comes at a time when yesterday’s attacks in Mosul killed nearly 33 people. A lot of innocent civilian, do and die soldiers and equally stubborn terrorists have been killed in this war. The ratio though is very clearly tilted in favour of the innocent. Let me be very clear here, so that the message is not lost in sarcasm, lot more civilian deaths for every supposedly terrorist killed by the US and the new-Iraqi soldiers. And more US soldiers dead or wounded in line of duty for every such terrorist killed by them. Its hard to blame the soldiers, but the administration that send them to the war, must have some explaining to do.

There must be a sudden reason of this admittance. Could it be that a recent poll conducted by Ipsos-AP indicates that a good number of americans today consider the Iraq war, a mistake. The current US administration had been touting the war and were also elected back into power because of their actions in the war. For sometime, everything seemed to be going in their favour. The army just walked over Iraq, and then the capture of Saddam and then the elections. But all along there was some news that were never making it to the US press. The US press too, typical of its ‘stand by your President at the time of war’, never bothered to look under the rug. The molding rot that was accumulating, is now touching civil war proportions.

Wonder if the neocon theory had actually factored this into their calculations, in their quest for control of Iraq and the oil beneath it. A bloody civil war, will not do good for any US administration, but a limited war, where a few bombs are thrown here and there, will be enough to justify military spending and also keep attention focused on those issues, instead of real ones regarding Iraq.

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