October 25, 2008

Kerala youth get inspired by Naxalite Movement

Thallappavu -A Movie on Com Varghese.

Kerala cinema is currently witnessing a deluge of naxalite and maoist inspired movies with some of them even going on to become blockbusters. Thallappavu and Gulmohar are just two of the most recent ones with a naxalite theme..Com Varghese it seems did not shout his last slogan in vain... almost four decades afterhis death "Inquilab Zindabad" is once again reverberating throughout Kerala .
Madhupal makes a dream debut as a director, Prithviraj and Lal give their best performances till date, Babu Janardanan delivers a world class script which will stand its ground in any film festival ,and Azhagappan mesmerises with the Camera. “Thalappavu” is one movie which puts to rest any doubts about the class and scope of malayalam movies. We rank right up there!
“Thalappavu” is a gripping movie, immensely watchable, it doesn’t drag a bit, there is no suspense (starts with the death of the central character), no violence, no comedy, no love lines. Its almost like a Rohinton Mistry novel with tragedy heaped over tragedy, and finally topped with some very sad tragedy. I hate sad movies, and this is not one of them. Its a classic.

In a recent article from the Rupesh Paul-Amal Neerad junta, Rupesh had pointed out that “Story” is not an important part of a movie. While nobody liked his movie, the point remains that, if Cinema is for telling a story then you could as well publish a short story. Making a movie for telling a story is as good as using Google for searching for porn alone, or using your Blackberry for incoming calls alone. Cinema as a medium has immense potential which needs to be tapped. “Thalappavu”, kudos to Madhupal, does exactly that. It uses the medium’s untapped potentials for handing down a classic.

Thalappavu’ (headgear or turban) is a symbol of authority. In many societies, those in the upper social strata wear the turban as a symbol of power and authority. For the working class it provides shade from the hot sun and pelting rain.

The relationship between a hardcore revolutionary and the masses is usually distressing as far as governments are concerned. Everywhere in the world, it is a common practice for the ruling class to fetter one who is ready to sacrifice his life for social causes. The basis of a constitution is that whatever the crime, it is the law of the land that has the right to mete out punishment. The Malayalam movie ‘Thalappavu’ tries to portray that it is the very watchdogs of law who shamelessly violate the rules that they bound to defined

Gulmohar - Malayalam movie on Naxalite Maoist Movement in Kerala.

Once a revolutionary, always a revolutionary' should have been the tagline of Jayaraj's much talked about new Malayalam film Gulmohar. The acting debut of writer-director Ranjith has added to the curiosity value of this endeavour.Scripted by Didi Damodaran (daughter of T Damodaran, the hit script writer of yesteryears) Gulmohar tells the story of a group of friends who were revolutionaries in their younger days. The tale is told from the point of view of Induchoodan (Ranjith), who now is settled as school teacher with his wife, two kids and mother-in-law.

As Induchoodan jogs down the memory lane, we get glimpse of their adventurous existence mostly lived on the edge as they took on the establishment and fought for the voiceless.The script as such is packed with lot of layering.

The current generation ridicules the suffering and the sacrifices their elders made to make the world a better place. Their relatives never empathised or appreciated the zeal with which they followed their heart's calling or even their sense of justice.

Induchoodan was an orphan (maybe it is used as a tool to justify why he is moved by the plight of others, as conveyed in a scene in the beginning where he tackles a complaint against an orphaned boy in the school) with only an elder sister to call his own. A person with a creative bent of mind, he uses his writing skills to propagate his ideas on revolution.

We fear that Induchoodan's character may go overboard any moment as any conventional multi-talented hero's would. But it is discreetly held back at the script level itself.The narrative moves from the past to the present, giving us the story of Induchoodan's past and how his present is made.Ranjith's performance does not look like he was the last minute replacement for the role of Induchoodan (Suresh Gopi was to play the role).

He makes us feel that the part was written with him in the mind. He gives the impression that he has rehearsed well for the part.

Debutant Neenu Mathew is the other performance that impresses us.

Technically too, Gulmohar is in a league of its own, helping Jayaraj to bounce back in form.


Bush’s adventure in Iraq: who has gained from it?

Amid five years of mutual slaughter, thousands of dead, millions of lives ruined and a war that has no end in sight, US president George W. Bush keeps insisting on his victory in Iraq. George W. seems unable to stare reality in the face.
In reality none of the war's proclaimed goals have been achieved: weapons of mass destruction were nowhere to be found; Iraq, instead of magically transforming itself into a puppet bourgeois democracy after the eviction of Saddam Hussein from power, has totally disintegrated and became a hotbed for international terrorism of all sorts. This is while American soldiers and Iraqi citizens lose their lives on a daily basis.
However, from the shortsighted point of view of the major oil companies, which the Bush family comes from, the war seems to be their greatest victory in recent history.
The fact is that the war was never about protecting the world from weapons of mass destruction or bringing democracy to Iraq. The war was about enforcing the rule of the United States, a declining imperialist power and getting control of oil supplies and establishing some kind of control over the whole of the unstable Middle East.
On 19.6.08, the New York Times reported that 36 years after Saddam Hussein nationalized the Iraqi oil fields, the pro-imperialist puppet government in Iraq has granted concessions to all the major world oil companies to "service" Iraqi oil fields again. After 36 years in the cold, they are back: the oil giants Exxon Mobile, Chevron, Total, British Petroleum and Shell have now returned to plunder the most lucrative oil fields in the world. From their narrow perspective, these measures of the present Iraqi government are a welcome step, and for them it makes all the destruction and bloodshed worth it. From this to actually getting the oil flowing is another question.

The true reasons for fighting Iraq

The major western oil companies suffered a setback after Iraq and other oil producing states had nationalised their oil fields. The US government seriously considered military intervention. The Carter administration even responded by setting up a stationary military force that could intervene in the Middle East at short notice. They even contemplated the possibility of invading parts of Saudi Arabia, that area where the oilfields are concentrated, should the regime fall.
However, in that period, the situation in the Middle East was too delicate for such an intervention. During the Cold War, the American attitude toward the Middle East swayed between two extremes. One was the immense importance of controlling Gulf oil for American capitalism and the military machines and modern weaponry that sustain it. The other was the fear that if America were to become too openly aggressive in defending its interests, the Arab masses could become radicalised and leaders could emerge who might turn to the Soviet Union for help.
We also have to remember that Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party initially received US support, as it removed the pro-Soviet Abd el-Karim Qasim in the 1963 coup. The US knew perfectly well that if they tried to replace Saddam, his successor might turn out to be even worse for them. On top of that, despite his "mischief" in nationalising the oil fields, Saddam had proven himself as a vital force in guaranteeing imperialist interests in the region. They could count on him to slaughter the communists (which he did), block Iran's anti-Western regime, and help to keep oil prices low.
The final argument against invading Iraq was that the oil companies, even after losing the concessions, were still making massive profits from shipping, refining and marketing oil and oil products. In that period, oil supplies were abundant and the price was on the rise. However, all this was about to change.
Since the late 1980s, all the arguments against war in Iraq and to regain direct control over oil had become irrelevant. First, the fall of the Soviet Union changed the balance of forces in the region. With the Soviets out of the way, the US had become the world's only superpower. An intoxicating feeling of omnipotence swept through all the top ranks in Washington. They felt they now owned the world and that they could do anything they wanted.
Second, as demand for oil increased reserves in oil fields around the world started to go down, while new oil discoveries in the Persian Gulf were still increasing. Persian Gulf oil started to become the most lucrative and abundant oil reserves in the world. Controlling the Gulf thus became much more urgent for American imperialism.
Finally, Saddam Hussein had ceased to function as an agent of "stabilisation" in the Gulf. Faced with the bankruptcy of his country after the costly war with Iran, and furious at the US and his regional neighbours for not providing financial help after fighting Iran for them, Saddam decided to occupy Kuwait. After witnessing Kuwait flooding the oil market and thus reducing oil prices, he knew that by conquering it, he would have greater control over oil prices. He naively thought he could reconcile US fury by reducing oil prices. However, he did not take into consideration who was now in charge of the White House - the Bush family and its very close links to the oil giants - the ones who had their eyes on controlling Iraqi oil again after decades.
The accumulation of these conditions paved the way for the first Gulf War. In that war, while the Soviet Union was still in existence, replacing rebellious leaders by means of direct military intervention was not the option of choice for the US government. In such a delicate matter, it usually preferred to intervene indirectly. It encouraged coups by the local opposition using economic sanctions and covert aid from the CIA. That is how Saddam himself came to power in the first place, together with many other contemptible dictators. This is why during the Clinton administration, there were US and UK attempts to destabilize the regime through sanctions and continuous low-level military attacks, but not through the use of direct military means to oust Saddam from power.
As we have seen, during the time of George W. Bush, a feeling of omnipotence flowed through the veins of the American leaders, and with such important goals at stake, the choice was to intervene directly.
The terrorist attacks in 2001 on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were just a pretext for something that had been planned long before. According to a testimony of Mr. Paul O'Neill, the former Secretary of the Treasury, the Bush administration started planning an invasion of Iraq almost immediately after being elected. In fact, it was reported on the BBC in 2005 that US officials had started to look among the Iraqi opposition for a successor to Saddam well before September 11.
The big oil companies started operating in Iraq immediately after the US-led invasion, using their own personnel to direct oil extraction, receiving immunity from the local puppet-government. The recent agreement reported in the New York Times is another important step in assuring American and Western control over the oil fields. It made sure that Russia and China would be kept out of Iraq, thus securing American control over the Gulf region and its oil fields - the greatest treasure in the history of humankind.

October 11, 2008

Analysis: What's the big deal on Indo-US Nuclear Agreement?

Now that India and the US have formally inked the 123 civil nuclear cooperation agreement and sealed another pact with France following the Sep 6 waiver by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), it is time to look at the fierce debate on the issue in this country with some detachment.
The debate was not just about the nuclear issue alone. In fact it was about two competing worldviews held by rival groups.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh belongs to the school that argues that after the end of the Cold War, the international system has changed and the bipolar world has yielded place to a balance of power system, comprising six powers - the US, the 27-nation European Union, China, Japan, Russia and India.
The centre of gravity of world economy is shifting from the trans-Atlantic area to Asia. China has grown rapidly and India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa and Mexico are also expected to grow rapidly, thereby reducing the dominance of the US as an economic power in the world.
Since bipolarity has come to an end and the US, the EU, China, India and Russia are independent nuclear weapon powers, there is not likely to be any war among them - a situation new to the world.
On the other hand, terrorism, organised crime, narcotics, religious extremism, pandemics and failed states are likely to pose international threats which these major powers may have to deal with collectively. This situation has developed along with the globalisation of the economy.
While the US will be militarily, economically and technologically pre-eminent it is not in a position to impose its policies on other major countries. The view that the US is trying to attempt to enlist India for military containment of China is totally untenable. The US is China's largest trade partner. China holds hundreds of billions of dollars of US treasury bonds. Their economies are so intertwined that what happens to Dow Jones has an immediate impact on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. It will take many decades for the US to reach with India the level of economic intimacy it has with China. All that the US, the EU, Russia and Japan are interested in promoting is faster growth of India so that there can be greater balance among the powers in Asia and the world.
Such a balance of power involves both competition and cooperation. The US and the EU, the US and Japan, China and Japan are all cooperating and competing economically and technologically at the same time. There will be similar competition and cooperation between China and India, though China has advanced far ahead of India and the latter will have to sustain a high economic growth rate to reduce the gap with China.
India's rise as an economic power has been hailed all over the world as unique. When a major power rises, it generates a sense of threat among other nations.
This is what happened when Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Russia or Communist China rose as major economic powers. But India's emergence is seen as non-threatening by other major powers.
India getting an NSG waiver and being allowed to have a nuclear arsenal in spite of not signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) are signs of India being viewed as a non-threatening balancer in the six-power balance of power system.
Those who oppose the nuclear deal have a different worldview. They are still conditioned by the historical experience of the Cold War era, are not reconciled to globalisation of the international economy and have fears of possible nuclear wars among the major nuclear weapon powers.
Their worldview rejects the economic intimacy of the US and China and regards them as potential adversaries. It considers that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has become unipolar with the US in a commanding position to dominate the world.
Therefore, they like to believe that when the US makes a move to promote India as a balancer, it amounts to the incorporation of India in the hegemonic US strategic system. Since China is the only non-democratic major power and is likely to rise to close the economic gap with the US, this school regards China as a potential adversary of the US.
Second, India has been isolationist from 1947 till 1992 when economic liberalisation started to integrate India with the international economic system. The isolationists have fears about integration with the rest of the world. Fears of the British East India Company coming back and scenarios of multinationals dominating India are being conjured up. Underlying this view is the lack of self-confidence to deal with the world at large economically, technologically, strategically and politically - presumably a colonial legacy.
This school ignores the fact that the term used for India developing relationships with other major powers is not alliance but partnership. In an alliance the leader of the alliance has a decisive say. Partnership is different. Neither the US nor India has any previous experience in partnership.
Therefore, both the countries will have to try hard to cultivate a partnership - a new experience for both. We have seen that in the WTO (World Trade Organisation) issues India and China are on one side and the US and the European Union are ranged on the other. The arguments have been pursued fiercely for months. Those who fear that with nuclear agreements India would lose its autonomy should explain why India is leading the opposition to industrial powers on the WTO issues.
All these differences in perspectives lead to a major contradiction in approach to international trends. While the Manmohan Singh school argues that there are vast opportunities in the present global trends for India to exploit, the second school fears that some of the global trends may prove hostile to Indian interests and security and, therefore, India has to be cautious.
In a sense it is a repeat of the controversy we witnessed in the 1990s when then prime minister PV Narasimha Rao and then finance minister Manmohan Singh launched the economic liberalisation. Not only did Manmohan Singh and Narasimha Rao demonstrate they were right in launching economic liberalisation but their policy led to the comfortable foreign exchange balance in 1998 which enabled India to conduct the nuclear test without too much worry about external pressure.
Such controversies are the pith and substance of the democratic process. If and when the party which loses the argument at present comes to power it will not necessarily give up a successful policy.
It will make some marginal changes and appropriate the policy as its own. This happened in the case of economic liberalisation and may very well happen in respect of our nuclear policy. There were critics of the non-alignment policy who asserted that they would work for genuine non-alignment. They discovered on assuming office that our non-alignment was genuine enough. There were critics of our nuclear tests. Again, on coming to office the critics found that the nuclear weapons were developed by their own leaders. The ongoing debates should, therefore, be treated with a certain amount of scepticism and tolerance.

"The deal has been done at the cost of the country's sovereignty and nuclear independence,"
India already has committed to buy equipment to produce a minimum of 10,000 megawatts of power from the American nuclear industry, "which has not received any new order for the last 30 years," said Prakash Karat.

October 05, 2008

CERN - Experiment of Universal secret

Located in the salubrious suburbs of Geneva on the Franco-Swiss border is the world's largest particle physics laboratory. CERN, or the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of leading centres for scientific research. It was founded in 1954 and now has 20 members.
CERN is mainly trying to find out what the Universe is made of, and how it works. At CERN, the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments, including those from India, are used to study the basic constituents of matter -- the fundamental particles.
The most well-known scientific instrument at CERN is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It is a particle accelerator that the physicists are currently using to study the smallest known particles.
The experiment being conducted now involves using the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams at very high energy. It is still not sure what will result from these collisions, but what's sure is that human understanding about the working of Universe will be enhanced by the experiment.
The essential idea is that the universe has expanded from a primordial hot and dense initial condition at some finite time in the past and continues to expand to this day. The CERN is trying to create the big bang in a lab using LHC.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator complex, intended to collide opposing beams of protons charged with approximately 7 TeV of energy. Its main purpose is to explore the validity and limitations of the Standard Model, the current theoretical picture for particle physics. It is theorized that the collider will produce the Higgs boson, the observation of which could confirm the predictions and missing links in the Standard Model, and could explain how other elementary particles acquire properties such as mass.

The LHC has been in construction for some 13 years. According to BBC:
Scientists have hailed a successful switch-on for an enormous experiment which will recreate the conditions a few moments after the Big Bang.

They have now fired two beams of particles called protons around the 27km-long tunnel which houses the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
The first beams were circulated through the collider on 10 September 2008, and the first high-energy collisions are planned to take place after the LHC is officially unveiled on 21 October 2008.

October 04, 2008

India's First Mission to the Moon Unveiled!

According to the Indian space agency, India's first mission to the moon is to be launched sometime around October 22-26, 2008 from the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It will be lofted up using the Indian Space Research Organization's (ISRO) workhorse rocket the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and the mission is likely to cost Rupees 386 crores. Chandrayaan-I is an unmanned scientific mission designed to map the resources of the moon and would undertake the most intense search for water on the moon surface.

Dr Alex said that the main objective of this mission was to understand the origin of the moon. Apart from conducting tests on the surface of the moon, the mission also intends to conduct tests on the poles of the moon. Scientists are planning to land a rover on the moon to carry out chemical analysis of the lunar surface.
Chandrayan, which is being launched at a total cost of Rs 386 crore, is also scheduled to carry 11 payloads, which would include those from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Sweden, Japan, Germany and Bulgaria. Dr Alex further pointed out that the technology used for the Chandrayan mission is ten times better than other countries. Moreover, ISRO excels in remote sensing and imaging and hence the moon can be photographed from a close range of five metres from the ground

The mission aims to cover the entire moon and gather as much information as possible. Currently, Chandrayan is going through crucial tests in Bengaluru. It still has to undergo the vibration and acoustic tests. The spacecraft will be subject to heavy vibration first and then the sound of four jet planes will be put together to check its endurance.