Saturday, February 6

Lawyers refusing to be lawyers

The right to legal representation is a cornerstone of every civilised society. For a legal association to refuse to support an accused is nothing but a breakdown in that country’s civilisation and basic humanity. In other words, the country’s pretensions to be civilised and defend rights is frankly in the toilet. This was brought home to me when i read this story:

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Because of the threats posed by the powerful Lahore Bar Association – an umbrella organization of city lawyers - no Christian or Muslim lawyer is ready to take on the defence in the murder of 12 year-old Shazia Bashir, it was reported yesterday by The Pakistani Christian association that deals with legal assistance.  

The girl, of Christian faith, died on Jan. 23 as a result of violence - even sexual – at the hands of her employer, a wealthy and powerful Muslim lawyer in Lahore. The alleged culprit, Chaudhry Mohammad Naeem, is a former president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association. The girl, just 12 years old, had worked as a maid in the home of Naeem in the last six months.

Now you can draw what conclusions you may from this story. But here are some more examples before you do.

1. This was the legal representation situation with respect to trying Kasab, the sole surviving member of the Pakistani terrorist team which attacked Mumbai. I quote:

The news of providing state legal aid to Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving gunman in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, has stirred profound consternation throughout India. Shiv Sena honcho Bal Thackeray thundered that no trial for Kasab is necessary, that the television news clippings are evidence enough, and that he should be hanged in full public view at the Gateway of India opposite the Taj Palace, which was one of the attack sites.

Thackeray found support from an unexpected quarter, with All-India Milli Council president Iqbal Mohiudeen invoking the shariah: “An eye for an eye, a limb for a limb, and a life for a life.”

The homes and properties belonging to three Mumbai-based lawyers who volunteered to appear for Kasab have been vandalized. A Parsi lawyer was even castigated collectively by his own community through the Bombay Parsi Panchayat.

2. There were terror blasts in Varanasi, Faziabad and Lucknow in the court premises. I quote:

After the terror blasts on 23rd November on court premises in Varanasi, Faizabad and Lucknow in which 15 people, four of them lawyers, were killed and over 80 injured, some bar associations had taken an unprecedented decision not to provide legal assistance to the accused in the blast cases.

The move was condemned as it was against natural justice.

It has to be pointed out that in both these cases in India, the lawyers have been appointed to defend the accused. But the fact that some are denying legal assistance to the accused is a shameful situation. This is directly going against the fundamental rights of all citizens of both countries. Despite the fact that the accused committed horrible crimes, they are presumed to be innocent till found guilty. So to exhibit some kind of weird protest against terrorism or religious participation is criminal. What next? Teachers refusing to teach because the pupil is from a different religion? Doctors refusing to treat patients because they are from another religion? Or how about architects refusing to build houses because the requester is from another religion?

These people are professionals and are supposed to uphold their professional standards. By refusing to do so, they are knuckling under total obscurantists and blithering idiots who are frankly uncivilised. Totally not cricket.

BAe escapes corruption deal – showing Labour is also corrupt

So British Aerospace escapes by just paying £286m in fines to the governments in the USA and UK. There will be no further investigation. There will be nobody who will be charged with actually being corrupt. This British Company went about selling its wares in Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, the Czech Republic, South Africa and Hungary. And all these places, they went and crapped all over normal rule of law, bribed and did illegal things. I dont care that much about USA, they already have got good anti corruption measures, but here? Not even ONE person has been convicted under the prevention of corruption act.

This, to me, shows that Labour is corrupt through and through, otherwise why would it accept this bargain? And I find it extremely stupid of this government to do this. I actually think that the government is illiterate and stupid. Yes, seriously deficient in its thinking. Let me go further. I do not think that the government is merely incompetent, this government is actually stupid and whoever has been taking decisions on this matter (presumably this goes up to Gordon Brown), is actually a moron. Unable to comprehend basics of law enforcement or proper judicial matters. What is the point of fining the company when the fine will end up being paid by either the tax payer (through more expensive defence equipment) or the shareholders (through lesser dividends) or Joe public through lower quality goods. Who were the actual people who committed this crime? The sales guys, the sales directors, the auditors, the directors of the company, the senior managers who signed off this deal? they are walking away with the bonus elements and salaries. So not even one person was found guilty. It was a victimless crime. Ha! Absolutely moronic.

And our international reputation is shot, we are now going to slide even further in the rankings of transparency international. Gordon Brown and his cohorts can send their kids off to other countries, but our kids have to grow up listening to how Gordon Brown has helped in sliding our country down the rankings for total corruption perceptions index. We are 17th off the top in the world and even in Europe, we are 12th from the top. What the hell?

What is to stop these corrupt guys and company from doing it again? Oh! they have setup "an ethics board”. Yes, that would be about as use as a wet paper towel against a missile.

This just confirms my feeling, that the current Labour government is not only corrupt at best, but actually mentally deficient and stupid at worst. Do I want frikking idiots running my country? NO!

Friday, February 5

Terror and academic freedom in the UK

This chap says that study of terrorism in the UK is being blocked. I quote:

Since my arrest under the Terrorism Act in May 2008 at the University of Nottingham for possession of the so-called Al-Qaida Training Manual, I have been following the increasing pressure faced by lecturers regarding the teaching of terrorism. One example is the pressure to submit reading lists to research ethics committees for vetting purposes in case they contain material that may be deemed "illegal" or that "may incite violence".

I found this very strange. Have just submitted my PhD in the area of terrorism studies and have been downloading, storing, researching, analysing, writing about terrorism since I registered at Kings College London, Department of War Studies. And its just not me, there are many other colleagues at the department who are studying this. I have never heard of anybody getting arrested, much less investigated!!!!

there is obviously something else going on.

German Christian Homeschoolers May be Granted USA Political Asylum

This is at par with the white fellow from South Africa who complained about racism and then was given asylum in Canada. You read this story and do a double take at the idea. But it is true, there is definitely racism towards whites at the moment. Yes, you can say that it is restoring ancient wrongs done by the white forefathers, but how do you justify the sins of fathers being visited on the children? One cannot and it is racism pure and simple. Reverse racism if you will.

Now take this example, this German couple fled Germany to the USA because they wanted to home school their children. Now as a libertarian, I am very happy with this. The state has absolutely no right to come between a parent and their child in terms of the schooling. If they want to home school, then they should be allowed to do so. Here’s another detailed report on the story.

Wednesday, February 3

Father forced to support daughter

Basically, this father has been ordered by the court to pay maintenance to his daughter. This story bewildered me on several levels.

  1. The daughter is 32 years of age
  2. the daughter is not living with the father but with the mother
  3. she has been studying philosophy
  4. for the past 8 years
  5. she is trying to make ends meet by trying to work as a dance instructor
  6. her thesis is on the holy grail

You cant make it up, WTF on so many levels…

Monday, February 1

Left and Right in the USA, a schematic


Click on the pic to see a bigger resolution which you can read, pretty good formulation, if a bit simplistic..

Sunday, January 31

1818, the first shots in a casteist war?

I received the following email on new year’s day:






Very impressive. I had never heard of this before, so went looking for more information. Here’s another site where there is more background. Hmmm, fascinating stuff. So if I understood the essence, it was a group of 500 Dalit soldiers who fought approximately 25000 Brahmins. And why is this important? I quote:

First, the British army fought this battle with a minuscule army expecting the worst, especially after their experience of the Pune Regency. Secondly, the battle of Koregaon was one of the most important events which helped tear down the Peshwa Empire and subsequently the Peshwa had to abdicate. Thirdly and most importantly, it was an attempt by the untouchables of Maharashtra to break the shackles of the age-old caste order.

That sort of didnt really jibe with what I had read about the Maratha Wars. So I went to do a bit of poking around.

1. The Maratha Wars:

While I can understand the desire of Dalits to home into that skirmish and claim that to be the be all and end all of all, skirmishes like this have to be grounded in the greater framework. The Maratha Empire brought to life by Shivaji attained its greatest strength by 1760 as shown in the image below.

And I should point out that Shivaji was not a Brahmin. While they claimed Kshyatriya status later on, there are some arguments that he was originally a Dalit, a Shudra to be precise. See here for an overview of this argument. Finally, Shivaji’s army was largely composed of people like him, so it was a Dalit Army anyway which got promoted, so to say. Then comes the first Anglo Maratha War 1777-1783 where first the Maratha’s won and then the British won. In both cases, native soldiers were far too frequently Dalits. Anyway, more land was captured by the Brits and the power of the Maratha’s was further reduced. Peshwa Baji Rao II and his father basically got up to no good. In 1802, BajiRao went and sucked up to the British after being defeated by Holkars in the Battle of Poona. This pissed off the other Maratha warlords and they got into a bit of a fight with the British which ended with more loss of territory for the Marathas. Then comes the crucial 3rd War which our Dalit friends might now appreciate.

This relates to the 3rd Anglo Maratha War 1817-1818 or the Pindari War. The Pindari’s were highly mobile cavalry units which were not on the payroll of any ruler but associated with rulers in return for protection and permission to plunder. Guess what? These Pindari’s were low caste, Ladul and also had quite a lot of Muslims (mainly Afghans and Pusthun). Anyway, all this plundering was not good for the British and a really very big army of 120,000 men and 300 artillery pieces was put into gear by Lord Hastings to exterminate these Pindari’s. The attacks happened from the east in Bengal, from the South in the Deccan and from the west from Gujarat and Bombay. Look at the map above and see who is the nut in this 3-way nutcracker? The Marathas.

2. The immediate predecessor to the 1st Jan 1818 Battle of Koregaon.

Once the British invaded Maratha territory to go after the Pindari’s, there were skirmishes between the Peshwa’s forces and the British forces such as the sack of the British Residency in Pune, and then the British routed another Peshwa force at Khirki. Then the main battle was fought in the Battle of Khadki on November 5, 1817 where the Peshwa Baji Rao was routed pretty much comprehensively and then the British took over the Peshwa’s seat at Shaniwarwada by November 17, 1817. The Peshwa, by this time, was running ragged. There was another battle between the Nagpur forces and the British at Sitabalsi on November 27 1817. The next battle to be fought was the Battle of Mahidpur on 20th December where the Holkar’s fought and lost to the British, after being betrayed by one of the Pindari (who killed Tulsibai).

3. The Battle of Koregaon:

A good description of the battle can be found here. This is a book by WC Taylor, A Popular History of British India published in 1847. See page 268-269 for details of the battle. Sounds like a pretty good bash. Taylor says that the Peshwa’s forces numbered about 25,000 although it should be noted that counting was pretty vague at that time. Still, it wasnt 50,000. But here’s the crucial thing, the Peshwa’s forces then retreated not because they were defeated by Captain Francis Staunton’s forces, but because they got to hear that British reinforcements were coming over. The British forces lost 200 soldiers out of 500, and 6 out of 7 British officers. Good defensive battle without food or water at this village. You can see the layout of the land here although there are no records extant of how the battle actually went, the defences and the lay of the land.

4. The soldiers.

The soldiers who did most of the dying were Mahars. And again ironically, they got their start in being soldiers by no other than Shivaji to become scouts and fortress guards. They were highly mobile light infantry, which is the reason why they were in the 2nd Battalion, 1st regiment of ‘Bombay Native Light Infantry’ as part of the Maratha Light Infantry. The Peshwa’s soldiers were also by and large lower caste soldiers including Mahars, in any case, not Brahmins. So the fighting basically was between lower castes, only the people who were ordering them around were the British and the Peshwas. This Mahar Regiment still exists and has provided two of the most brilliant Indian Army Chiefs: Gen (Retd) K V Krishna Rao and Gen (Retd) K Sunderji. Also, there is no caste element to the regiment from 1963 onwards and it is now a fully mixed regiment.

5. The aftermath of the Battle of Koregaon:

There was another fight between the fleeing Peshwa’s forces and the British at Ashti on February 20th 1818 and he remained under pressure till he surrendered to Sir John Malcolm on June 3, 1818 and was given the pension of an annual payment of 8 lakhs rupees. The Battle of Koregaon was celebrated by raising of an Obelix which commemorated this.

So all in all, I am afraid what my research threw up was in sharp variance with the mythology is being provided. It was frankly a small battle / skirmish in a much bigger war, the Peshwa’s forces were not defeated in this skirmish, the British Army did not fight this battle expecting the worst because they had been winning every battle in this war, this battle of Koregaon was not really that important as fighting kept on happening for months after this battle and I am afraid there is absolutely no evidence that any kind of caste based ideology was involved in the fight.

So all in all, good myth but a rather more calm reading of the historical record tells differently. I can also see why the Dalit hotheads want to use this battle to burnish their credentials. After all, all revolutions need their battles. Google for “Battle of Koregaon” to see how this myth is being built up, but I am afraid the reading is slightly different. If they do want to celebrate the success of lower caste soldiers, they should celebrate Shivaji, the Indian Soldier, the bravery that these soldiers showed to whoever paid them. See here for the campaigns that the Maratha Light Infantry got involved in. But to bring this casteism into the Indian Army? Not really cricket, old chaps. But I am very happy to be corrected if I have not referred to any other source or documentation. Happy to learn more.

No man should ever see his dead son

Not an emotional story, very factual, very British. This pained me terribly. This is an account of the testimony by ex Prime Minister Tony Blair written by a British father whose son died in Iraq. Go read it.