Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bhopal Notes : 14 : Bhopal tigers

Kerwa tigress
With tigers being sighted every other day in the outskirts of Bhopal I am reminded of Gwalior of the 1940s when I was growing up there. Around sixty odd years ago we would get similar reports from my father’s friends or other acquaintances. Gwalior was a princely state then and all life used to revolve round the Maharaja and Maharani. If the Maharani went to her ladies’ club her local friends, mostly wives of the ministers or other high officials, would also join her. The club used to be on the Jhansi Road outside the town. On their way back, on many a occasion some of the ladies would see a tiger walking away towards the nearby scrubby hills.

 The maharaja’s club, too, was in the outskirts but was nearer the town. Yet, a friend of my father saw several times a tiger padding away towards the hill where the Scindias even now have their deity. Beyond that was what was known as “aam kho” with thick vegetation, perhaps, providing ideal cover for a tiger. The medical college was yet to come up at the foot of the hill. The tract, up to Jhansi Road across the hill, used to a resident tiger or two. Then, I think it was 1943 when Gwalior got on to the front page of the
Wilderness- Wild Cumberland
national newspapers, a rare occasion, when a leopard raided the Madhav Dispensary, the government repository of medicines with the site of hospital OPDs. Things in Gwalior are far different now. While the hills I made a mention of have been colonized, “Aam Kho”, too, has met the same fate. In fact, at a higher point of the hill a former minister of Madhya Pradesh, late Sitla Sahai, had erected a cancer hospital after he lost his son to the disease. The tigers yielded their habitat to man.

In Bhopal too these days one gets the reports of tiger sightings every other day. Close to the town, near Kerwa, a tiger seems to have settled down and is making meals of domestic cattle. There are villages and farms, including dairy farms where it finds easy prey. A few weeks back a report said that the tiger count around Bhopal had risen to 10 – almost the same as that of a smallish regular tiger reserve. There were four of them and of them two tigresses delivered litters of three each. Kerwa, the forests of Samardha and Kathotia are extensions of the neighbouring Ratapani Sanctuary that has been approved for notification as a tiger reserve. Somehow the state government is dragging its feet. The tigers near Bhopal are spilling over from Ratapani where either
Wilderness-Teapot Dome, Pasayten, Washington State
lack of prey or want of fresh territories for those which have attained adulthood is driving them to newer areas. Tigers have always been present in these areas as a dairy farm owner used to mention yearsago hearing a tiger call whenever he would spend the night there. But that was an occasional feature. Actually, humans have been slowly encroaching on the tigers’ territory. A public school, tourism outfits, farms and residential houses, particularly a massive one of a former chief minister and another of a former chief secretary have all come up on land which, essentially, was tiger territory.

Somehow we do not seem to allow wild areas to remain wild. We have not yet developed the concept of declaring undisturbed natural areas as wilderness and maintain them. The area near Bhopal where tigers now roam should have been declared as “wilderness” where human activity should have been restricted to the minimum. Such areas, in fact, are mostly parts of conservation reserves, protected forests, sanctuaries or national parks. That the area near Bhopal, currently inhabited by tigers, is not part of a national park is hardly of any consequence. It can even now be declared as an “area of wilderness” keeping human activities at a low key. It is not for nothing that various countries manage and maintain areas of wilderness. They believe that such areas are important for the survival of certain species, maintenance of biodiversity, conservation, recreation and lovers of solitude who occasionally want to get away from the madding crowd. As somebody has said, “Wilderness is deeply valued for cultural, spiritual, moral and aesthetic reasons.”

Unfortunately, in our mad rush for “vikas” (development) we are hacking down forests, gobbling up farmlands for building newer and newer townships regardless of unavailability of civic amenities or infrastructure dispensing to the inmates a miserable, unhealthy and testing life. The “vikas” that is accomplished only fattens the already fat and does nothing for the common man whom it hardly ever touches.  Thereby, however, hangs another story.   

All photos are taken from the internet                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Friday, September 25, 2015

Orchids of Meghalaya

The one I saw in Shillong
A recent report on the Meghalaya orchids was alarming. Home to more than 1300 species of orchids these exotic varieties of flowering plants are under serious threat due to habitat loss and human exploitation. The report said that many of the orchid species are present in Nokrek Biosphere Reserve in the Garo Hills, four wildlife sanctuaries, reserved forests and 125 sacred groves in the statebut have a grim future.

Meghalaya is a hiily state in the North-East and comprises Khasi Hills, Jayantiya Hills and Garo
This was shot in Baghmara, Garo Hills
Hills. All are picturesque places with different tribes and their different cultures with medley of colours. While a piece on my experiences in the North-East will follow, the present one relates only to the state’s orchids. The report lamented that there is no conscious effort to protect these exotic plants. It said that the Jowai, Jarain, Tuber, Mukhaialong, Narpuh, and Raliang in East
From the Orchidarium, Shillong
and West Jaintia Hills hills districts and Tura peak, Nokrek, Baghmara and Rongrenggre in the Garo Hills were some of such undisturbed areas providing habitat for wild orchids.

shot in Baghmara Garo Hills
I was posted in the North-East with headquarters in Shillong. I happened to come across a tree with numerous flowers attached to its trunk in the compound of the local Nongthimmai Post office I took some photographs. Later, while on a visit to the Baghmara Post office in the Garo Hills I found two more orchid plants flowering close to the top of the trunk of a tall tree. I could not stand there for long as slowly I realised huge fierce-looking red ants were trying to climb up my legs.

From the Orchidarium, Shillong
I was posted out to Delhi in 1990. Before leaving Shillong I took a trip to the local orchidarium and took some photographs of orchids that were in bloom. It was a great pity to see that orchids were hawked around in the bazaars. A plant, the place of which was in jungles was being wrenched away from its habitat only for a minor benefit to the hawker and to adorn a middle class drawing room. Obviously a market had developed for orchids in Shillong by then. Now, after 25 years, it ought to be a craze and forests are surely being stripped of their orchids. What a pity!

From the Orchidarium

From the Orchidarium

Monday, September 21, 2015


The New City Hall
After a stay of about a month in Switzerland we were ready for a brief tour of Europe. We had bought Eurail passes in India which allowed us 14 days’ unlimited travel over any of the European railways, including the high speed French Train a Grande Vitesse (TGVs), in 1 Class. Unlike today, in 1987 TGV used to run between very few stations. We had a service from Paris to Geneva and back. For other places one had to use reasonably fast inter-city express trains of various countries

Our first target was Munich in Germany – a journey of around 7 hours. We did it in day-time. Interestingly for us the train passed through a place in Switzerland named Winterthur. I was reminded of my second brother who used to have a pen-friend in this town back in mid-1940s. His name was Kurt Senft. The concept of establishing friendships with persons living elsewhere, even abroad, through letters has apparently died down. With the advancement of information technology none probably ever writes letters, particularly hand-written ones. But in those days pen-friendship was promoted not only by parents but
My wife in the trai at Winterthur station
also by schools. And there used to be ads in the newspapers of individuals seeking pen-friends from distant towns and countries. My brother was very good at writing letters and he used to write long ones to Kurt. As luck would have it, a few years later, in 1952-53, he happened to be in Frankfurt when he seems to have nipped across to Winterthur to meet his pen-friend. He described to us his joyous meeting with Kurt in one of his interesting letters.

We reached Munich by late afternoon. It was a pretty big station and plumb in the middle of a huge foyer we came across a large assemblage of Indian-looking men and women. Eventually, it turned out that they were Sri Lankan Tamils who were there to seek
Another view of New City Hall
refuge. Perhaps, the crackdown on LTTE Tamils had started in right earnest and they had fled from Sri Lanka to seek refuge in Germany. Surprisingly, as I write this, Munich has again been forced to accept large number of refugees (called migrants by Europeans), this time, however, from the Middle-East, especially from Syria with the ISIS occupying large parts of the country.

In Munich our lodgings had been fixed in a pension, a term not really heard very much these days. Used generally in the Continent of Europe, pensions are kind of guest houses run by a families in their respective residences, a structure that could be a heritage one or an ordinary one. These also provide breakfast and other meals,
Frauenkirsche, the cathedral dedicated to St. Mary
depending on the requisitions of the guests. They provide an alternative to hotels and other lodgings to cut costs. Our elderly landlady was a little sticky about payment of rent. She wanted the entire amount in advance. Perhaps she had been cheated earlier. Our booking was in a pension in an ordinary house and included breakfast which meant a morning cup of tea/coffee bread and butter with eggs. In England these are known as B&B (bread & breakfast) joints. In our later trips to Europe we found that the frugal breakfasts have yielded place to lavish spreads, almost in as good a scale as those of hotels.

Known in German as Munchen, Munich is the capital of the province of Bavaria and is the third biggest city of Germany after Berlin and Hamburg. Located on the banks of River Isar it is a more than a millennium old city. Deriving its name from monks, Munich had been a centre of Counter-Reformation movements. It
At the Nymphenburg Palace
has been a centre of arts, culture and science since the 19th Century as well. Later, it became a place of prominence as the Nazi Party was founded here. There is much in the city for those who are interested in the city’s recent history. Around 80% of it was destroyed in the air attacks during World War II. Lots of tourists come to compare various parts of the city with the old photographs and figure out the changes. All that was not possible for us in our 48 hours stay besides the shoe-string that we were tied to.

It was a dark and murky evening when we set off for Marienplatz – a square that has been named after St. Mary. It is the main square in the city that has been in existence since the 12th Century. It is dominated by the New City Hall (neues Rathaus) and huge grounds
The Palace gardens
in front of it has mostly tourist milling around to see and hear the musical tower clock. It was built between 1867 and 1908. Built in Gothic Revival Architectural Style it is a massive construction of around 10000 square metres with about 400 rooms. The basement has a restaurant and the ground floor has some business houses and tourist information Centre. The tower – all of its 85 metres – can be accessed by an elevator. The clock on the tower plays music at specific timings with what is known as Rathaus-Glockenspiel. At those times the concentration of tourists on the open spaces is to be seen to be believed. The grounds in front were used centuries beck to host sporting tournaments. A Marian Column, erected in 17th Century is located in the Centre. It was erected in commemoration of end of the Swedish occupation in the 17th Century.

Another beautiful structure in Marienplatz is the church that is known as Frauenkirche – the Cathedral of Our Dear Lady. It serves as the cathedral of Archdiocese of Munich. It is no less a landmark
One more view of  New City Hall
than the New City Hall. With its 99 metres tall twin towers, or more appropriately the spires, it is visible from practically all locations in Munich. It was built in 20 years from 1468 to 1488. Though a gothic structure, the towers are, however, not in the same style. Scarcity of funds did not allow Gothic embellishments and eventually they were capped by the two domes, modelled on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

A few miles away from where we were located is the Nymphenburg Palace. A palace built by the members of the House of Savoy who ruled over Bavaria, Nymphenburg Palace (palace of the nymphs) is so extensive that it is impossible to cover it in a day. The attractive baroque architecture along with extensive well-laid out gardens, parks and lakes with fountains, it is indeed kind of a paradise – fit indeed for
Two of us on the Palace grounds
nymphs. The Palace and several pavilions were designed by Italian architects over a few decades as and when additions were made to the original structure. There is so much to see especially of the affluent and opulent Duchy which never seems to have shrunk from displaying its wealth. It is a veritable feast for the eyes.   

 Munich is known for its museums, especially the Deutsches Museum which is reputed to be the world’s largest of science and technology. But we just didn’t have time as we had to leave for our next stop, Vienna 

Bhopal Notes - 13 :: The National Green Tribunal, Bhopal


It was reported yesterday that the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started removing copra and gravel from the Kaliyasot River banks. A case had been filed with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) about it by a public spirited individual who had alleged that the builders’ lobby was encroaching on the river for their illegal gains by extending the river banks and reducing the width of the river. Even the Bhopal Development Authority – a government agency – was also involved in the matter. Having found the allegations true after a proper verification the NGT ordered removal of the extraneous matter from the River. It has fallen on the BMC’s lot to remove the muck as it was its apathy or negligence or even its corrupt ways that facilitated interference with the natural course of the river waters. A massive effort is now underway which indicates the degree or extent of encroachment on the river by the greedy and self-serving builders’ lobby and the corrupt municipal officials. However, action against the guilty builders seems to be still some way off.

Sometimes I wonder what would have been the fate of our iconic lake and several other water bodies had a bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) not been established here. In around five years’ time it has relentlessly strived to protect the environment and several water bodies, the most important of which is the scenic Upper Lake which is also the lifeline for a substantial proportion of the city’s population. Through obfuscations, misleading statements, sometimes verging on utter lies and chronic procrastinations – mostly willful – of the state government and its several agencies including the local civic body, the NGT is meticulously and tenaciously plowing its way through the numerous environmental cases filed by a few public spirited people. Such a serious attempt was perhaps never made to ensure protection of the environment of the city, largely with a view to ensuring a healthy and happy posterity. It must be added that all this is despite the existence of a department dedicated to the cause of protection of the environment not only of the city but of the entire state which seems to be in deep perennial slumber.

NGT was established in 2010 by an act of Parliament with the principal bench at New Delhi and four other benches at various places, including Bhopal, to cover all the regions of the country. The enactment came rather late though in several international conferences from 1972 onwards in which India had also participated it was resolved that all participating powers provide adequate judicial relief for protection of environment, forests and other natural resources. Besides, the right to a healthy environment has been construed in India as part of Right to Life under article 21 of the Constitution. The Tribunal is to function as a civil court and is mandated to dispose of cases filed before it within a period of six months.

 Since then it has done yeoman’s job in protecting the forests around Bhopal and its water bodies – especially the city’s iconic Upper Lake. Everyone knows how polluted it is and yet the powers-that-be in the government and the local municipality, its custodian, have tried their best to thwart all efforts to maintain its spread and improve its water quality. Multi-crore projects with international cooperation with money and expertise were rendered failures because of their lackadaisical ways. Even the report of the Centre for Protection of Environment and Technology of Ahmedabad for the Lake’s conservation has been suppressed and kept under wraps by the state government, most probably, because it does not suit builders friendly with the government.

 And yet, with its no-nonsense attitude it has been able to impose a ban on the functioning of the so-called marriage gardens situated on the banks of the Lake and discharging their effluents into the Lake. Despite orders of the courts the municipal officials contrived to neutralise them and made piles of money by allowing them to function all these years. Lately, the NGT intervened again to prevent encroachment on the Lake, this time by the Municipal Corporation itself which was trying to construct a bi-cycle track, a pedestrian path-way and a food court on the opposite bank of the present Boat Club. For this purpose it even erected a wall right inside the Lake which was overrun by water during the recent heavy rains. All the time, it claimed before the NGT that it was a people friendly project and would not pollute the Lake waters. It is such an obstinate organization that it continued construction felling some trees (planted under Bhoj Wetland Project) despite orders to the contrary by the NGT. Perhaps, there was a lot of money involved in the project. The matter now rests with the Mayor who is reportedly investigating it.

 In this environment of corruption, bull-headedness and negativity the Tribunal has rendered admirable service to the people of this town. But for it the Lake would have rapidly deteriorated and rendered useless as a drinking water source in another few years. Nonetheless, what has so far been achieved is nothing in comparison to what still needs to be done. When the government and its agencies are out to kill the Lake the NGT has been bravely soldiering on in collaboration with a few committed individuals and lawyers. It needs all our unqualified support to dismantle the evil that is within the system harming the city’s environment and poisoning its natural resources like air and water.    

Friday, September 11, 2015

Bhopal Notes - 12:: Modi's jam

A section of yesterday's jam
My wife and I had a horrid time yesterday. Aiming to get to an office-furniture shop we came out on the Sultania Road and, lo and behold, there was a jam. We did some stop-and-crawl and by the time we got to the Royal Market tri-junction we knew it was impossible to get to the Peer Gate area. Apparently a rehearsal was on for the PM’s cavalcade next day and the VIP Road had been closed to traffic. Hence, all the peak time traffic had spilled on to the Sultania Road. Worse, the road leading up to Imami Gate was blocked and we had to turn left and attempted going to Bairagarh.

 As we got on to the Sultania Road it was again a jam-like situation and later as we approached Lal Ghati everything came to a halt. While the down lane was stuck the up lane was crawling. Some enterprising drivers got on to the BRTS lanes and sped away. Never knew we had so many vehicles in this town. It was only 3 to 4 kilometres stretch and a few thousand vehicles were labouring up and down the two carriageways. Yes, it is the main artery that takes you to the newer areas from the airport but there are other roads as well which would have been suffering jams right at that time. My hunch to this effect was right as newspapers reported this morning.

Sitting cooped up in my compact vehicle I was wondering if only Modi-ji could be shown a video of the jam that was wrought in this town because of his mere four-hour visit for inaugurating the World Hindi Sammelan which is less of a Sammelan and more of a jamboree. Nine such Sammelans have already been held but they have done precious little for promotion of the Hindi language. Such conclaves can hardly promote a language. All that is, however, beside the point. The point is that crores of rupees are being spent in an effort that may not fructify but at the same time is inconveniencing hundreds and thousands of people who have nothing to do with it and may never be able to get anywhere near the  highly sanitised venue. Thousand of litres petrol and diesel were burnt, no not for the conclave alone, but by the vehicles idling on the roads in jams fouling up the environment. Most of our half literate drivers do not know that one needs to switch off the engine if the halt is of more than a minute.

Talking of jams, recently, the newspapers had published a photograph of a jam on the Delhi-Gurgaon 6 to 8 lanes expressway. It was unbelievable. In such conditions one wonders as to why people should travel at all unless it is for an emergency. Apparently, barring the new metro there is no public transport and commuters rely on their personal vehicles. In the North, however,there is also a tendency to show off and using public transport is, kind of, infra dig. Most cities in India have too many personal four-wheelers and commuters are prone to getting stuck in jams. The governments all over have failed in making available decent and dependable public transport. With rising incomes cars have become both, a necessity and a luxury – luxury in the sense that numerous families now have multiple cars, sometime having no space for them at home. Residential areas are clogged by parked vehicles. In the area where I live parked Honda City cars on the streets along with a few Mercedes and an occasional BMW is a common sight.

Coming back to the jam that we got stuck in, it occurred to me that our traffic policemen are pretty prompt in blocking roads for the convenienceof VIPs. It somehow does not occur to them that they need to be sensitive about the conveniences of the commuting public as well. It never occurs to them when a road is blocked the on-coming commuters need to be advised at all preceding junctions about the blockage ahead to enable them to take alternative routes saving for them inconvenience, time and gas. But this is what the traffic people always slip on. Their primary aim is to enable unhindered supersonic ride for the VIPs through the roads rendered empty by the blocked traffic.

Photo: from the Internet

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Wars - Social Darwinism at play

Indian forces in World War I
The last one hundred years were full of international strifes and wars during which two world wars were fought involving most of the countries of the world. Apart from them there were smaller regional wars or ethnic movements for independence. Barring Australia – a single country continent – no continent was spared the luxury of peace and tranquility. Humans are, after all, animals and most of them have the genes that promote them to dominate over others, either singly or collectively. International conflicts are a result of this undesirable inheritance among humans. This century in the new millennium most of the countries are commemorating wars that were won or lost during the last 100 years but, apparently, no lessons have been learnt. Each country is on a high alert, so to say.

Last year the world commemorated the Centenary of World War I that raged from 1914 to 1918 and was fought between the Central Powers, i.e. the German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman Empires with Japan and the Allies, i.e. France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy and the US. It was a bitterly fought war which saw extreme carnage that ranked it amongst the deadliest of wars, sacrificing as many as 10 million military personnel and 7 million civilians. The extreme physical and mental distress of the military personnel during the War provoked now famous novelist, an ex-German soldier Eric Maria Remarque, to write “All Quiet on the Western Front” –a masterpiece. I got to read it almost 60 years ago and it left me wondering how men could think of going to war after having read it. It was compelling and gripping reading as it sensitively described the extreme human distress.

 The War was also described by the famous commentator and science fiction writer HG Wells as “The war to end war” to which the then US President Woodrow Wilson added “to make the world safe for democracy”. After four long years of conflict among major powers that spread its adverse ramifications world over a peace treaty was negotiated at the Paris Peace Conference. The very reasons that gave rise to the huge conflict, however, persisted even after peace was negotiated that made Field Marshal Earl Wavell to comment “after war to end war” ”making peace to end peace”. Clearly, the reasons that led to the Great War – imperialism, mutually antagonistic alliances, militarism and nationalism – did in no way dissipate. The countries which fought the War started to re-build their respective armies in a bid to dominate others or to prevent others from dominating over them. A new peaceful, more equitable and just world order that was sought to be created through the good offices of a world body the “League of Nations” proved elusive. Gaining nothing, the Great War, however, proved to be a watershed in the sense that it extinguished as many as three authoritarian empires – hangover from a gone-by feudal era.  Another emperor, The Czar of Russia, was toppled by the October Revolution in 1917 even as the War continued to rage in most parts of the world.

At the same time, it sowed seeds of future wars as the Russian Revolution put in power communist dictators Lenin and later Stalin. The economic downslide and territories lost in the War made the communists more assertive and aggressive. Likewise, the acute economic hardship following the War in Germany provoked extreme anger among the people. Unhappy with the outcome of the armistice, Germans were out looking for scapegoats – one of them being the Jews. In the prevailing atmosphere, the National Socialist Party or the Nazi Party found a fertile ground to prosper and eventually became the dominant party in the country led by Adolf Hitler. Megalomaniac Hitler not only dominated over the lives of his countrymen, his ambition was to rule over entire Europe, and even the world. He had built up a huge well-disciplined, well-equipped and trained army itching to undo the humiliation inflicted on Germany by the Peace Treaties. With him around, a war had become inevitable as he went about annexing one neighbouring country after another. Soon a war erupted between the Axis Powers – a tripartite alignment among dictators Germany, Italy and Japan who all wanted to satisfy their expansionist desires – and the Western Allies with Russia that had morphed into the Soviet Union after 1918 Revolution.

More deadly than World War I, the new war that later came to be known as World War II (1939-45) lasted all of six years and was instrumental in the deaths of 6o million people and 50 million civilians including the Jews who were gassed in German concentration camps and others charred to death in the nuclear attacks on Japan. Germany, the main protagonist of World War II, was occupied by the Allies, carving out “Zones”, one each for the Allied powers. So devastated was it that the US launched Marshall Plan for its revival. Japan came under American occupation – an utter humiliation for its proud Emperor.  The Axis Powers lost all the territories they had annexed.

This is the 70th year after the end of World War II. It is also the 70th anniversary of the first occasion when nuclear bombs were used in real war situation. The bombs were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan though by then it had become clear that Japan had no way other than accepting defeat. The bombs were the product of new evolving destructive technology and the US decided to drop them over two cities of Japan (curiously, not over Germany) to demonstrate its power and the potential to dominate the world.

 Like after World War I, the United Nations (UN) was established after peace was restored in 1945 replacing the ineffectual League of Nations with the primary objective to save the future generations from the “scourge of war” by promoting international peace and security. The UN, however, mostly failed to act in accordance with its charter. There have been numerous wars since it was established, the most long-lasting, perhaps, was an unique phenomenon, that of “Cold War” between the Western Bloc led by the US and the Eastern Bloc of USSR with its Warsaw Pact allies. Under it a state of unceasing hostilities between the two raged for around four decades till the Soviet Union disintegrated as a country in 1991. The Cold War precipitated two “hot” wars – the Korean and Viet Nam wars. There were other regional wars, largely in Asia and Africa, some of them with the sanction of the UN and others without it. If a much larger conflagration has not taken place during the last 70 years it is not so much because of the presence of the UN, ineffective as it is, but more because of the fear of nuclear holocaust assuring of massive destruction.

This year we, too, are commemorating the 50th year of the second war with Pakistan fought in 1965. This was one in which, according to objective appraisal, neither of the protagonists could score a clear win. Pakistan had, however, thought that Kashmir, with internal dissensions, had become ripe for plucking. But, it was sorely disappointed to find that it was the Kashmiris who helped the Indian forces to get at Pakistani infiltrators. Though troubled almost continuously by Pakistan-inspired proxy war by Pakistani regulars and irregulars with active assistance from Pakistan Army, Kashmir continues to be part of India despite four wars Pakistan waged to wrest it from India.

During the last seventy years since the end of World War II the world is again divided into groups and alliances era that are antagonistic to each other like in pre World War I era. Temperatures rise off and on but a major war has so far not broken out. The most serious threat to peace has, however, emerged from the Middle-East with the rise of the cruel and dreadful Islamic State which flaunts the intentions of dominating the non-Muslim world and eliminating all the “infidels”. Its success so far, thankfully, has been limited to Syria and parts of Iraq. Nonetheless millions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees running away from ISIS terror have swarmed into adjoining countries or are headed towards Europe and England.

With Social Darwinism at play in the jungle of international politics wars seem to be inevitable. Many countries have, therefore, armed themselves to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction. Hopefully, these deadly arms will deter a suicidal confrontation that could, if not checked in time, wipe off humans from the face of this earth.

Photo: from the internet

DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION Rama Chandra Guha, free-thinker, author and historian Ram Chandra Guha, a free-thinker, author and...