Friday, November 03, 2006

The naming....

As Rajesh said it, we humans are so much into categorizing. It makes life so very simple and easy for us to understand. But then all this naming and categorizing takes away from the simple joys of life...
Just as it has done in case of Sidharth. The doctor who diagnosed him for autism did not want to label him and at that time I did not realise the importance of this. But now over the years as I see my six year old son being viewed differently and now I have begun to understand what Dr Vinay Malhotra actually meant four years back.
Looking at Sid, he is just as normal as any child and yet as abnormal as any other child. It is just the way we want to see him. Yes by calling him autistic we have taken away from him his right to a normal life. It is my endeavour to restore this right to him, this is the least I could do for him being his mother.
Just today morning I met Viren. Viren is Sid's new class mate and he lives very close to our place. Viren has some brain complication, a too long scientific name which I could not understand as his mother rattled it out. All I could piece together was that there was lack of oxygen in some part of Viren's brain. Today morning as he came to the bus stop, Viren greeted me. A smile lit up his face and he made my day.
Coming back to Viren's so called abnormality how many of us wear spectacles for our eyes are weak, how many of us carry blood pressure tablets for our BP keeps fluctuation, how many of us carry tablets along with us each day just because our heart would not beat correctly. I could go on. Are we also special children just like Viren, Siddharth, Vandit, Minrashah, Jessica.......

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Journey

It is strange and tiring and I am at least for my self have begun to show the signs of fatigue.

I always thought that my journey for and of life began with that of Sid and in this search I came upon friends who became my short cuts. They smoothened the path when I found it difficult to walk upon....they helped me go on and on when I felt I could not walk a step more.

But now I feel there are no shortcuts in ones journey. My privileges have now become my lack of ability to combat life. And what all along with my own self forget at time is that I am a born fighter .....

So once again I begin my walk search to find a place under the Sun for Sid and myself.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sid joins normal children

This is what I have been hoping of and striving for all these years.................

Sid finally gets to join a class of normal children. As per the Indian system of Education, Sid is now in UKG. Children of his age are in a year ahead of him. But then fine for me and more than that for Sid- my Lil Buddha.

The amazing fact about Sid is that he has this huge capacity to learn and remember. He picks up the spelling in a day and so does the mathematical sums. His short term recall memory is slightly bad but then over the time he is improving a lot.

The issue that troubles me with him is that he is too much into repetitive behaviour. He can ask one question ten times and that too in one go. This behaviour for others is annoying specially for the ones who do not know or can not judge that Sid is autistic

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Siddharth : Well let me introduce you to my six year old son Siddharth. Since this boy was two years old, he opened a new world for me. How? Sid, as we love to call him in short, is autistic. Till the time he was born, July 15, 2000, and more precisely till the day the diagnosis came, I was living life in a limbo - trying my best to be a good daughter, a good daughter in law and a good wife. With Sid, I made my choice, I just want to be a good human and in each day of my life to date, this six year old, who has a problem settling in the so called life of the normals, help me just do that, be a good human being, live life with sensitivity.

But then at the end of it all, it's just Siddharth who is important. Let me trace his life for myself. Siddharth did not speak for almost the two and a half years of his life. This is the point where my introduction with autism began. At this time Sid has no contact with the outside world. He had no words and no eye contact. As a mother I never could make out these things. A friend of mine, Jatinder Preet (JP) , who spent a day with Sid made this first diagnosis for me and from the visits to docs began. Finally the diagnosis came and I just did not know what to do as nothing in the name of help was there for me. Two people helped me make a contact with Sid, Pooja, Sid's first teacher and JP. Then as it has to happen, Sid was thrown out of each school he went to, two precisely. The reason at all places was same Sid was hyper and did not respond to his teachers the way they wanted him to. So Sid spent eight months at Ashirwaad a special school where Pooja helped Sid learn some of the tricks and trades of this world. From Ashriwaad Sid went to Darpan again a special school for autistic children and now Sid goes to Drishti, another school which is for normal children but then this school takes five handicapped children each year and integrates them with normal children. This is the first picture of my son Sid, more will follow.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The lost self

Hi, I am back. It is so very easy to loose self. The idea of simply shutting off is so very alluring. But then how long can one can do that with so many things happening around. Here is the list :
Medha Patkar of Narbada Bachao Andolan shows the way to make the mighty bend. Against all odds, the frail lady in cotton saree and white hair made sure that 35000 displaced families due to the Narbada Dam get their due rehabilitation. Kudos Medha.

True to her style Arundhati Roy showed how to live and fight for convictions. The Booker Lady with her NBA protest and arguments proved her mettle.

Amir Khan, some say has found his calling in life but then when he spoke up for the NBAs and the Bhopal Gas tragedy victims, he deserves a standing ovation.

Narender Modi once again proved how shallow, callous and inhuman he is by all the drama he put up for his incomplete 51 hour hunger strike. Shame Modi.

Back home Siddharth now begins his journey into a new school. He is in class upper kindergarten and will now be integrated with normal children.

Relationships continue to fox me and I remain as confused as ever.

Signing off :

Monday, February 20, 2006

My Son Siddharth

When I created this blog even I didn't know why I was doing it. And today I got my answer. This is my space for Siddharth, my son who is an Autistic. I don't plan to get into the details of the clinical prognosis for Siddharth. We both plan to move forward.

Siddharth, will this April, begin to go to a big normal school Drishti. For over an year now Siddharth has been studying in a school for Autistic children called Darpan. Sid has been doing quiet well. But then each time stagnation comes into the development process of this child I panic. Sid who had been thrown out of the last school for his teachers were convinced that he will never be able to write, can now write upto 100, draw a few figures , write his English alphabets big and small and even a few words which have at the most three alphabets.

Siddharth loves to sing and his passion for music is immense. But then this limited to hearing and then singing alone. Sid, as I call him at times, has till time not shown any inclination for any particular musical instrument.
My search now is to introduce Sid to the world where people don't understand him or his state. I take him out to all places I go. But then these are as obvious the known places where no one objects to how Sid behaves. He is not a violent child but he restless, very active and cannot sit in one place for long. He cannot sit through a movie or sit straight in an restaurant. But then he has this immense capacity to connect with people on one to one level. Sid hates crowds and can manage to stand alone in a crowd . This is my first intro to my son and as I discover more of him each day, I will record it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Master of Music: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

"Is enlightenment really possible for the average person? Yes. Big Yes. Enlightenment is very possible for the ordinary individual. Actually it is easier than for some one who thinks that they are special ....whenever someone is ordinary, simple, innocent and natural, that is enlightenment"

'THE day you feel hopeless, horrible, and worse, on that day get out of your room and ask people, What can I do you for you ? that service you have done that day will bring a revolution inside you. It will change your whole gramophone record.

‘LOVE is seeing God in the person next to us, and meditation is seeing God within us.’
‘THE more we open ourselves, the more room we will have for God to fill us’

‘A PRAYER Give me not thirst if you cannot give me water. Give me not hunger if you cannot give me food. Give me not joy if I cannot share. Give me not the skills if I cannot put them to good use.’

‘IN science you have knowledge first, and then FAITH follows. In spirituality, faith comes first, and then Knowledge follows. For example, the knowledge that pesticides and chemical fertilizers are good for plants came through science, and people had faith in it, and all over the world they were used. And then another knowledge came that they were not good and the faith shifted to organic farming. The same with antibiotics. The knowledge brought faith, the knowledge changed, and then faith changed.’

‘ENLIGHTENMENT is the very core of our being; going into the core of our self and living our life from there. We all came into this world gifted with innocence, but gradually, as we became more intelligent, we lost our innocence. We were born with silence, and as we grew up, we lost the silence and were filled with words. We lived in our hearts, and as time passed, we moved into our heads. Now the reversal of this journey is enlightenment.’

IT is the journey from head back to the heart, from words, back to silence; getting back to our innocence in spite of our intelligence. Although very simple, this is a great achievement. Knowledge should lead you to that beautiful point of "I don't know." The purpose of knowledge is ignorance. The completion of knowledge will lead you to amazement and wonder. It makes you aware of this existence. Mysteries are to be lived, not understood. One can live life so fully in its completeness, in its totality.’

‘ ENLIGHTENMENT is that state of being so mature and unshakable by any circumstance. Come what may, nothing can rob the smile from your heart. Not identifying with limited boundaries and feeling "all that exists in this universe belongs to me," this is enlightenment.’

‘OUR breath plays a very important role. The breath is the connecting link between the inner world of the mind and the outer world of body and environment. You see, there are seven levels of existence, body, mind, intellect, memory, ego and being. Meditation works by bringing an effort from the level of being to the mind. With the breath we bring this effect to the physical level as well.’

‘LET it be. If the ego is there, just embrace it, take it.’

’FEAR is egocentric. Worship is the only way to let go of the fear. In worship you say, "It's all you, and you, and you.’

‘OUR ego wants to do something that is very difficult. The ego is not ready to accept something simple, something natural, something that is easily available. The nature of the ego is to do difficult things, not simple ones’

‘THE Divine is not an object of the ego. It doesn't demand from you something that is impossible for you. You don't have to do something that you cannot do. No need for that at all.’

’WHEN the ego dissolves, all discomforts go away with the ego. Discomfort is not because of "something;" it is because of ego -- a separated-ness.’

‘THE direction of life is towards one thing: that is love. You be prosperous and have no love, that prosperity has no value. You are on spiritual path but you don't experience, then that spiritual path is no path, it is very dry: it's all up here.’

‘THE secret is hidden somewhere very deep, and that is what we can call the Divine Love -- that love which is so total, which is so complete, and which is so fulfilling.’

’LOVE, the Divine Love, everyone is looking for such a love that never dies. As time goes it seems to be dying out. You see? Love dies out as time goes. But we are looking for some love that stands the time -- the old, ancient, strong, powerful Love.’

‘WHEN we express love too much, then also it disappears, dies out. It's like when you keep the seed on the surface of the soil, not a little deep inside, it doesn't grow.’

‘THE purpose of every practice -- spiritual practice, meditation, breathing techniques, and kriya, all this -- is to uncover something that blocks the expression of Divine Love.

Jai Gurudev,
The folowing Sutras, Compliments of:


Desire for Happiness

Your desire for pleasure or happiness makes you
unhappy. You examine---whenever you are miserable or
unhappy, behind that is your wanting to be happy.

Become Free

Before this earth eats you up, become free---free from
this feverishness that is gripping your mind, free
this craving for happiness.

Unlimited Joy

Your mind is not reasy for limitations. It wants
unlimited joy, unlimited pleasure---which the five
sense cannot give you.

Love Does n't Stay

Everyone loves in this world.Everything loves. But
that love does n't stay too long as love. It
immediately becomes hatred, almost immediately. But
yoga is that skill, that preservative, that maintains
that love as love throughout.

Wrapping Paper

Mind is that cover that is holding the Divine, the
Divinity within us. Once that wrapping paper is
unwrapped, you find, "Oh, this beautiful gift is here
within us!" You know, it's like everyone is given a
Christmas package, a beautiful package, and they live
with the beautiful without even opening it.

Eliminate the Cause

Eliminate the cause, the very root of negativity in
us. Instead of rubbing the mind with a positive
thought, go deep into yourself through the breath,
through meditation, and cleaning the system.


You can't cultivate the "sense of belonging". You drop
the stresses and fear---it comes in. You already
belong to this entire existence. You 're not separate.

Mind is a Field

Mind is not just in one location. Mind is a field,
an electric field. Like an electromagnetic field, it's
present all over.

Garbage Collectors

A master does n't need any favor from you. He just
could take all that anguish and garbage which you
cannot lift by yourself, free you from that. All
enlightened masters on this planet are garbage
collectors. They do nothing other than collect the


Suffering is a product of limited knowledge.

You Think You Know

You think you know the world and "This is it". That is
the biggest problem. This is not just one world; there
are many layers in this world.

Only You

One one lever there are individuals everybody is
different---they 're young, old, intelligent, wise,
dull and all types. One one level we have different
types, but on a deeper level there is only you. Only
you, nothing else.


When you give a space, the longing in you increases,
whether it is for your spouse,or for God, or for
Guru---whatever. And when there is longing, your love
becomes really strong,powerful,unshakeable.

Partial Knowledge

Shadows appear very big, much bigger than you, but
they have no existence. Smaller the light, bigger the
shadow appears. If it is total darkness, then also
there is no shadow. So partial knowledge,a partial
light,partial vision,brings the shadow. And it makes
the shadow appear very huge, very big. But know it is
just a shadow.


Forgiveness shield and protects your mind, your
from being violent.

Just Happening - Surrender

You are a happening in this ocean of consciousness.
Your heart beats by itself; you're not making it beat.
Your breath moves by itself, sleep comes, you feel
hunger, you feel thirsty, you feel good, you feel bad.
All these phenomenon are happening in your life. When
this realization comes, a deep relaxation, a trust, a
feeling of "at home" and fullness arises in you. That
is surrender.

Nothing to lose

What are you afraid of ? What do you think you will
lose ? Just wake up and see you have nothing to lose
in the first place ! And, even if you think you have
something, how long can you hold on to it ?

Surrender is Not

Surrender is not an act. It's not again and again
trying to bow down and say, "Oh, I am surrendering,
I am surrendering." Saying that to yourself a hundred
times---that is not surrender.

Surrender Is

Open your hands up---that is surrender. It is your
very nature.

God is Not

God is not the object of sight; you can never see
God. God is not an object of hearing. God is not an
object of smelling or tasting. God cannot be perceived
through your senses, nor through the mind.

God Is

God is the Seer himself. Who sees---that is God.

Seeing God

You can live God. You can be God. But you cannot
"see" God, perceive God as an Object

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Woman and rape

Had a chance to view a play recently. Pali Bhupinder well known theatre personality and playwright was the man and the pen behind this play. The play revolved around the issue of child rape and pain revolving around this issue. Sadly the play turned out be the oft repeated regressive Indian male psyche though the author of the play differs with me till date.
As usual the play had this mentally tormented girl Rose who at a school going age is raped by a much elderly man. To escape the social stigma and pain Rose's family shifts to a new place but Rose grows up to be a complex personality. She is pursued relentlessly by a boy belonging to a rich powerful politician family. Finally Rose relents to the boys request to marry her but on the condition that he be told about her rape. True to a filmy style the boy says it is not her fault but his Mom objects. Suddenly the play turned around with the rapist of Rose turning out to be the boys Father. Both the boy and his mother break their relationship with the rapist man and agree to wed Rose and make her their Bahu.
Brave ending and the play received many a congratulations.
But as a woman I fail to understand two things. How long will we contiue to make rape something much more than physical violation. I personally feel much a problems related to female sexuality can be solved if we women stop attatching so much importance to it. Why in the entire play had Rose to feel ,'shrapit,' condemned through out her life and why does she have to feel redeemed only after another male tells her that Rape is not her fault. All this when in these times we talk of women empowerment. Rose's balance in life comes after she gets married. One male rapes her and another tells her that it is not her fault. Where is Rose in all this and where is her inner strength. Can't Rose empower her own self? Does she need to get married just to prove that being raped is not her fault?

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Master speaks.......

Interaction with OSHO

Student : Fruit falls on the ground when it is ripe. One day, you will leave us, and it will be impossible to have another master in your place.
Osho, when you leave the physical body, will your meditation techniques help our inner growth as they do now

Osho: My approach to your growth is basically to make you independent of me.

Any kind of dependence is a slavery, and spiritual depen-dence is the worst slavery of all. I have been making every effort to make you aware of your individuality, freedom, your absolute capacity to grow without help from anybody.

Your growth is something intrinsic to your being. It does not come from outside; it is not an imposition, it is an unfolding.

All the meditation techniques that I have given you are not dependent on me — my presence or absence will not make any difference — they are dependent on you.

And the lady refuses!

I know, friends this is little late.

On January 17, media was splashed with the news that Arundhatti Roy had refused to accept the Sahitya Akademi Award. True to her style. This action of the writer has created a debate within the literary circles. While one section seconds Roy's decision, the other section claims that she is doing this to attract attention towards her for Sahiyta Akademi has nothing to do with the policies of the Government for it is an autonomous body. This section also goes on to give the name of activists like Mahasweta Devi who have, before Roy, accepted this awards. Well following is the writers explanation on why she took the step. Read and decide.

Celebrated writer Arundhati Roy on Saturday refused to accept the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award in protest against the Indian Government toeing the US line by "violently and ruthlessly pursuing policies of brutalisation of industrial workers, increasing militarisation and economic neo-liberalisation". "I have a great deal of respect for the Sahitya Akademi, for the members of this year's Jury and for many of the writers who have received these awards in the past. But to register my protest and reaffirm my disagreement. Indeed my absolute disgust with these policies of the Indian Government, I must refuse to accept the 2005 Sahtiya Akademi Award", Arundhati said in a statement here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Algebra of Infinite Justice

Arundhati Roy has been awarded the Sahit Akademi Award, (2006) for this collection of essays. Here is one of her esays from the collection 'The Algebra of Infinite Justice'.

As the US prepares to wage a new kind of war, Arundhati Roy, challenges the instinct for vengeance

In the aftermath of the unconscionable September 11 suicide attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre, an American newscaster said: "Good and evil rarely manifest themselves as clearly as they did last Tuesday. People who we don't know massacred people who we do. And they did so with contemptuous glee." Then he broke down and wept.
Here's the rub: America is at war against people it doesn't know, because they don't appear much on TV. Before it has properly identified or even begun to comprehend the nature of its enemy, the US government has, in a rush of publicity and embarrassing rhetoric, cobbled together an "international coalition against terror", mobilised its army, its air force, its navy and its media, and committed them to battle.
The trouble is that once Amer ica goes off to war, it can't very well return without having fought one. If it doesn't find its enemy, for the sake of the enraged folks back home, it will have to manufacture one. Once war begins, it will develop a momentum, a logic and a justification of its own, and we'll lose sight of why it's being fought in the first place.
What we're witnessing here is the spectacle of the world's most powerful country reaching reflexively, angrily, for an old instinct to fight a new kind of war. Suddenly, when it comes to defending itself, America's streamlined warships, cruise missiles and F-16 jets look like obsolete, lumbering things. As deterrence, its arsenal of nuclear bombs is no longer worth its weight in scrap. Box-cutters, penknives, and cold anger are the weapons with which the wars of the new century will be waged. Anger is the lock pick. It slips through customs unnoticed. Doesn't show up in baggage checks.
Who is America fighting? On September 20, the FBI said that it had doubts about the identities of some of the hijackers. On the same day President George Bush said, "We know exactly who these people are and which governments are supporting them." It sounds as though the president knows something that the FBI and the American public don't.
In his September 20 address to the US Congress, President Bush called the enemies of America "enemies of freedom". "Americans are asking, 'Why do they hate us?' " he said. "They hate our freedoms - our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other." People are being asked to make two leaps of faith here. First, to assume that The Enemy is who the US government says it is, even though it has no substantial evidence to support that claim. And second, to assume that The Enemy's motives are what the US government says they are, and there's nothing to support that either.
For strategic, military and economic reasons, it is vital for the US government to persuade its public that their commitment to freedom and democracy and the American Way of Life is under attack. In the current atmosphere of grief, outrage and anger, it's an easy notion to peddle. However, if that were true, it's reasonable to wonder why the symbols of America's economic and military dominance - the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon - were chosen as the targets of the attacks. Why not the Statue of Liberty? Could it be that the stygian anger that led to the attacks has its taproot not in American freedom and democracy, but in the US government's record of commitment and support to exactly the opposite things - to military and economic terrorism, insurgency, military dictatorship, religious bigotry and unimaginable genocide (outside America)? It must be hard for ordinary Americans, so recently bereaved, to look up at the world with their eyes full of tears and encounter what might appear to them to be indifference. It isn't indifference. It's just augury. An absence of surprise. The tired wisdom of knowing that what goes around eventually comes around. American people ought to know that it is not them but their government's policies that are so hated. They can't possibly doubt that they themselves, their extraordinary musicians, their writers, their actors, their spectacular sportsmen and their cinema, are universally welcomed. All of us have been moved by the courage and grace shown by firefighters, rescue workers and ordinary office staff in the days since the attacks. America's grief at what happened has been immense and immensely public. It would be grotesque to expect it to calibrate or modulate its anguish. However, it will be a pity if, instead of using this as an opportunity to try to understand why September 11 happened, Americans use it as an opportunity to usurp the whole world's sorrow to mourn and avenge only their own. Because then it falls to the rest of us to ask the hard questions and say the harsh things. And for our pains, for our bad timing, we will be disliked, ignored and perhaps eventually silenced.
The world will probably never know what motivated those particular hijackers who flew planes into those particular American buildings. They were not glory boys. They left no suicide notes, no political messages; no organisation has claimed credit for the attacks. All we know is that their belief in what they were doing outstripped the natural human instinct for survival, or any desire to be remembered. It's almost as though they could not scale down the enormity of their rage to anything smaller than their deeds. And what they did has blown a hole in the world as we knew it. In the absence of information, politicians, political commentators and writers (like myself) will invest the act with their own politics, with their own interpretations. This speculation, this analysis of the political climate in which the attacks took place, can only be a good thing.
But war is looming large. Whatever remains to be said must be said quickly. Before America places itself at the helm of the "international coalition against terror", before it invites (and coerces) countries to actively participate in its almost godlike mission - called Operation Infinite Justice until it was pointed out that this could be seen as an insult to Muslims, who believe that only Allah can mete out infinite justice, and was renamed Operation Enduring Freedom- it would help if some small clarifications are made. For example, Infinite Justice/Enduring Freedom for whom? Is this America's war against terror in America or against terror in general? What exactly is being avenged here? Is it the tragic loss of almost 7,000 lives, the gutting of five million square feet of office space in Manhattan, the destruction of a section of the Pentagon, the loss of several hundreds of thousands of jobs, the bankruptcy of some airline companies and the dip in the New York Stock Exchange? Or is it more than that? In 1996, Madeleine Albright, then the US secretary of state, was asked on national television what she felt about the fact that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of US economic sanctions. She replied that it was "a very hard choice", but that, all things considered, "we think the price is worth it". Albright never lost her job for saying this. She continued to travel the world representing the views and aspirations of the US government. More pertinently, the sanctions against Iraq remain in place. Children continue to die.
So here we have it. The equivocating distinction between civilisation and savagery, between the "massacre of innocent people" or, if you like, "a clash of civilisations" and "collateral damage". The sophistry and fastidious algebra of infinite justice. How many dead Iraqis will it take to make the world a better place? How many dead Afghans for every dead American? How many dead women and children for every dead man? How many dead mojahedin for each dead investment banker? As we watch mesmerised, Operation Enduring Freedom unfolds on TV monitors across the world. A coalition of the world's superpowers is closing in on Afghanistan, one of the poorest, most ravaged, war-torn countries in the world, whose ruling Taliban government is sheltering Osama bin Laden, the man being held responsible for the September 11 attacks.
The only thing in Afghanistan that could possibly count as collateral value is its citizenry. (Among them, half a million maimed orphans.There are accounts of hobbling stampedes that occur when artificial limbs are airdropped into remote, inaccessible villages.) Afghanistan's economy is in a shambles. In fact, the problem for an invading army is that Afghanistan has no conventional coordinates or signposts to plot on a military map - no big cities, no highways, no industrial complexes, no water treatment plants. Farms have been turned into mass graves. The countryside is littered with land mines - 10 million is the most recent estimate. The American army would first have to clear the mines and build roads in order to take its soldiers in.
Fearing an attack from America, one million citizens have fled from their homes and arrived at the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The UN estimates that there are eight million Afghan citizens who need emergency aid. As supplies run out - food and aid agencies have been asked to leave - the BBC reports that one of the worst humanitarian disasters of recent times has begun to unfold. Witness the infinite justice of the new century. Civilians starving to death while they're waiting to be killed.
In America there has been rough talk of "bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age". Someone please break the news that Afghanistan is already there. And if it's any consolation, America played no small part in helping it on its way. The American people may be a little fuzzy about where exactly Afghanistan is (we hear reports that there's a run on maps of the country), but the US government and Afghanistan are old friends.
In 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA and Pakistan's ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) launched the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA. Their purpose was to harness the energy of Afghan resistance to the Soviets and expand it into a holy war, an Islamic jihad, which would turn Muslim countries within the Soviet Union against the communist regime and eventually destabilise it. When it began, it was meant to be the Soviet Union's Vietnam. It turned out to be much more than that. Over the years, through the ISI, the CIA funded and recruited almost 100,000 radical mojahedin from 40 Islamic countries as soldiers for America's proxy war. The rank and file of the mojahedin were unaware that their jihad was actually being fought on behalf of Uncle Sam. (The irony is that America was equally unaware that it was financing a future war against itself.)
In 1989, after being bloodied by 10 years of relentless conflict, the Russians withdrew, leaving behind a civilisation reduced to rubble.
Civil war in Afghanistan raged on. The jihad spread to Chechnya, Kosovo and eventually to Kashmir. The CIA continued to pour in money and military equipment, but the overheads had become immense, and more money was needed. The mojahedin ordered farmers to plant opium as a "revolutionary tax". The ISI set up hundreds of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. Within two years of the CIA's arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland had become the biggest producer of heroin in the world, and the single biggest source of the heroin on American streets. The annual profits, said to be between $100bn and $200bn, were ploughed back into training and arming militants.
In 1995, the Taliban - then a marginal sect of dangerous, hardline fundamentalists - fought its way to power in Afghanistan. It was funded by the ISI, that old cohort of the CIA, and supported by many political parties in Pakistan. The Taliban unleashed a regime of terror. Its first victims were its own people, particularly women. It closed down girls' schools, dismissed women from government jobs, and enforced sharia laws under which women deemed to be "immoral" are stoned to death, and widows guilty of being adulterous are buried alive. Given the Taliban government's human rights track record, it seems unlikely that it will in any way be intimidated or swerved from its purpose by the prospect of war, or the threat to the lives of its civilians.
After all that has happened, can there be anything more ironic than Russia and America joining hands to re-destroy Afghanistan? The question is, can you destroy destruction? Dropping more bombs on Afghanistan will only shuffle the rubble, scramble some old graves and disturb the dead.
The desolate landscape of Afghanistan was the burial ground of Soviet communism and the springboard of a unipolar world dominated by America. It made the space for neocapitalism and corporate globalisation, again dominated by America. And now Afghanistan is poised to become the graveyard for the unlikely soldiers who fought and won this war for America.
And what of America's trusted ally? Pakistan too has suffered enormously. The US government has not been shy of supporting military dictators who have blocked the idea of democracy from taking root in the country. Before the CIA arrived, there was a small rural market for opium in Pakistan. Between 1979 and 1985, the number of heroin addicts grew from zero to one-and-a-half million. Even before September 11, there were three million Afghan refugees living in tented camps along the border. Pakistan's economy is crumbling. Sectarian violence, globalisation's structural adjustment programmes and drug lords are tearing the country to pieces. Set up to fight the Soviets, the terrorist training centres and madrasahs, sown like dragon's teeth across the country, produced fundamentalists with tremendous popular appeal within Pakistan itself. The Taliban, which the Pakistan government has sup ported, funded and propped up for years, has material and strategic alliances with Pakistan's own political parties.
Now the US government is asking (asking?) Pakistan to garotte the pet it has hand-reared in its backyard for so many years. President Musharraf, having pledged his support to the US, could well find he has something resembling civil war on his hands.
India, thanks in part to its geography, and in part to the vision of its former leaders, has so far been fortunate enough to be left out of this Great Game. Had it been drawn in, it's more than likely that our democracy, such as it is, would not have survived. Today, as some of us watch in horror, the Indian government is furiously gyrating its hips, begging the US to set up its base in India rather than Pakistan. Having had this ringside view of Pakistan's sordid fate, it isn't just odd, it's unthinkable, that India should want to do this. Any third world country with a fragile economy and a complex social base should know by now that to invite a superpower such as America in (whether it says it's staying or just passing through) would be like inviting a brick to drop through your windscreen.
Operation Enduring Freedom is ostensibly being fought to uphold the American Way of Life. It'll probably end up undermining it completely. It will spawn more anger and more terror across the world. For ordinary people in America, it will mean lives lived in a climate of sickening uncertainty: will my child be safe in school? Will there be nerve gas in the subway? A bomb in the cinema hall? Will my love come home tonight? There have been warnings about the possibility of biological warfare - smallpox, bubonic plague, anthrax - the deadly payload of innocuous crop-duster aircraft. Being picked off a few at a time may end up being worse than being annihilated all at once by a nuclear bomb.
The US government, and no doubt governments all over the world, will use the climate of war as an excuse to curtail civil liberties, deny free speech, lay off workers, harass ethnic and religious minorities, cut back on public spending and divert huge amounts of money to the defence industry. To what purpose? President Bush can no more "rid the world of evil-doers" than he can stock it with saints. It's absurd for the US government to even toy with the notion that it can stamp out terrorism with more violence and oppression. Terrorism is the symptom, not the disease. Terrorism has no country. It's transnational, as global an enterprise as Coke or Pepsi or Nike. At the first sign of trouble, terrorists can pull up stakes and move their "factories" from country to country in search of a better deal. Just like the multi-nationals.
Terrorism as a phenomenon may never go away. But if it is to be contained, the first step is for America to at least acknowledge that it shares the planet with other nations, with other human beings who, even if they are not on TV, have loves and griefs and stories and songs and sorrows and, for heaven's sake, rights. Instead, when Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, was asked what he would call a victory in America's new war, he said that if he could convince the world that Americans must be allowed to continue with their way of life, he would consider it a victory.
The September 11 attacks were a monstrous calling card from a world gone horribly wrong. The message may have been written by Bin Laden (who knows?) and delivered by his couriers, but it could well have been signed by the ghosts of the victims of America's old wars. The millions killed in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia, the 17,500 killed when Israel - backed by the US - invaded Lebanon in 1982, the 200,000 Iraqis killed in Operation Desert Storm, the thousands of Palestinians who have died fighting Israel's occupation of the West Bank. And the millions who died, in Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama, at the hands of all the terrorists, dictators and genocidists whom the American government supported, trained, bankrolled and supplied with arms. And this is far from being a comprehensive list.
For a country involved in so much warfare and conflict, the American people have been extremely fortunate. The strikes on September 11 were only the second on American soil in over a century. The first was Pearl Harbour. The reprisal for this took a long route, but ended with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This time the world waits with bated breath for the horrors to come.
Someone recently said that if Osama bin Laden didn't exist, America would have had to invent him. But, in a way, America did invent him. He was among the jihadis who moved to Afghanistan in 1979 when the CIA commenced its operations there. Bin Laden has the distinction of being created by the CIA and wanted by the FBI. In the course of a fortnight he has been promoted from suspect to prime suspect and then, despite the lack of any real evidence, straight up the charts to being "wanted dead or alive".
From all accounts, it will be impossible to produce evidence (of the sort that would stand scrutiny in a court of law) to link Bin Laden to the September 11 attacks. So far, it appears that the most incriminating piece of evidence against him is the fact that he has not condemned them.
From what is known about the location of Bin Laden and the living conditions in which he operates, it's entirely possible that he did not personally plan and carry out the attacks - that he is the inspirational figure, "the CEO of the holding company". The Taliban's response to US demands for the extradition of Bin Laden has been uncharacteristically reasonable: produce the evidence, then we'll hand him over. President Bush's response is that the demand is "non-negotiable".
(While talks are on for the extradition of CEOs - can India put in a side request for the extradition of Warren Anderson of the US? He was the chairman of Union Carbide, responsible for the Bhopal gas leak that killed 16,000 people in 1984. We have collated the necessary evidence. It's all in the files. Could we have him, please?)
But who is Osama bin Laden really? Let me rephrase that. What is Osama bin Laden? He's America's family secret. He is the American president's dark doppelgänger. The savage twin of all that purports to be beautiful and civilised. He has been sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid to waste by America's foreign policy: its gunboat diplomacy, its nuclear arsenal, its vulgarly stated policy of "full-spectrum dominance", its chilling disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous military interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes, its merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies of poor countries like a cloud of locusts. Its marauding multinationals who are taking over the air we breathe, the ground we stand on, the water we drink, the thoughts we think. Now that the family secret has been spilled, the twins are blurring into one another and gradually becoming interchangeable. Their guns, bombs, money and drugs have been going around in the loop for a while. (The Stinger missiles that will greet US helicopters were supplied by the CIA. The heroin used by America's drug addicts comes from Afghanistan. The Bush administration recently gave Afghanistan a $43m subsidy for a "war on drugs"....)
Now Bush and Bin Laden have even begun to borrow each other's rhetoric. Each refers to the other as "the head of the snake". Both invoke God and use the loose millenarian currency of good and evil as their terms of reference. Both are engaged in unequivocal political crimes. Both are dangerously armed - one with the nuclear arsenal of the obscenely powerful, the other with the incandescent, destructive power of the utterly hopeless. The fireball and the ice pick. The bludgeon and the axe. The important thing to keep in mind is that neither is an acceptable alternative to the other.
President Bush's ultimatum to the people of the world - "If you're not with us, you're against us" - is a piece of presumptuous arrogance. It's not a choice that people want to, need to, or should have to make.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Siddharth,Jaypee n me with Sandeep Panday

April 8, 2005
Punjab Agricultural University,


Today is January 8, the day when I put down my first thoughts. This is my intro to my space, blog is too technical a word. It is bitterly cold here in Ludhiana which is recording some of its all time low temperatures and amidst this cold some old memories engulf me. Some warn some chilling, memories none the less. It is nearly two years now that I am living separate along with my five year old son Siddharth and in these two years I have wittnessed a transformation in me from a housewife to a mother. Yes we all do not become parents simply when children are born to us. This state of parenthood is a progression and is as per me highest state of love, selfless if we can make it to be.
My progression came from the fact that I have an autistic son. Doctors categorise him as a border line case, but Siddharth is autistic. For me he is my Guru. Aren't Gurus supposed to show you the way to live a fruitful life. Then Siddharth has just done the same. He has taught me the simple sensitivities of life which I had forgotten, totally erased from my system. Siddharth has introduced me with myself after so many years. And here comes another dear friend Jaypee who has shown me Siddharth.
Autism can be taken as a development disorder but look at this way why look at this way Autism is this way. It is a way of life these children prefer to lead their life by and they force us to follow their lifestyles and not vice cersa. Believe me sooner or later we all fall in line.

Friday, January 06, 2006


My Son
pic by jaypee