Category Archives: Outsourced
Tribal women in line to vote.
Today concluded the first of five phases of the Indian election, where 60% of voters turned out to the polls. (Refer to my earlier post for the basics of the Indian political system.) The states where voting began were Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Lakshwadeep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.Â Thousands of troops have been deployed to the states to
With month-long elections in the world’s biggest democracy, it can’t be expected for the process to without a few kinks — or violence. Maoist insurgents in central and eastern India, with landmines and rocket bombs, killed 17 people in 14 attacks at poll stations across India. The Naxalites, the Maoist insurgents, have been battling with the Indian government forever and a day.Â One would think with so many troops deployed, even localized events like this could be avoided.
Currently, it seems as though the current Congress (I) Party and the Bharataya Janata Party will get the majority of votes, while some smaller ethnic and minority parties will take a smaller piece of the pie. Regardless, after the election, new coalitions will have to be stitched together to keep the Indian government in functioning order. The Congress Party, as a reminder, is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s party and India’s explosive economic growth is attributed to them. On another note, the Congress Party has often been criticized for its handling of the 11/26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai last year. BJP, on the other hand, tends to take hardline stances on terrorism, while inciting friction between Indian Muslims and Christians.
With this only being the beginning, it will be interesting to see the elections pan out. (A whole month of election day coverage? Yes! I know you’re pumped!) Have any questions? Field them here! I’ll definitely do some research and incorporate it into any future blog posts.
March 16, 2009: Chaudhry (center) surrounded by celebrating supporters
In the latest news from the South Asian continent, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has finally been reinstated to his bench (for the second time).Â To truly appreciate this news, we have to do a bit of a recap. Former Pakistani President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, first appointed Chaudhry to the bench in 2000. Until he was elevated to Chief Justice in 2005, Iftikhar Chaudhry did not seem to go out of his way to carve an independent path for the judiciary, usually voting with the majority; he even sat on the bench during the case that legitimized Musharraf’s military takeover. Regardless, when Chaudhry became the youngest ever Chief Justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, he really dug in his heels and started work that made him a “symbol of justice” in the eyes of many.
From creating a “separate human rights cell at the court” to forcing Pakistan’s intelligence agencies to admit they were holding people in secret custody, it’s very easy to say that Chaudhry quickly got on the wrong side of the government. In March 2007, Chaudhry was asked to step down but instead refused Musharraf’s reprimands and faced the charges — actions which propelled him to a hero status for thousands of lawyers, who stormed Lahore, Pakistan in protest. Thankfully, in July 2007, Chaudhry was reinstated.
Our democratic BFF in Asia, India, has finally announced the polling dates for the country’s upcoming elections: April 16, April 23, April 30, May 7, and May 13. Why the phased election? Holidays, festivals, possible monsoon weather, harvest season, and most importantly, school examinations. India’s elections will undoubtedly be intense — 714 million eligible voters? 4 million election workers? Oh, it’ll be glorious, you betcha.
Yeah, that’s right. India’s electronic.
As BBC tweeted this news to me, I realized I had no idea how the Indian government is structured. (Shame, isn’t it?) Still, with the Interweb at my fingertips, I decided to compile a little government guide (sans the judicial branch) for my benefit and yours becaues I didn’t want to study. (Yes, yes, I know. An educational blupdate. Exciting!) Read more and get informed!
Taj Hotel — November 26, 2008
The nine [bodies] are the Pakistani Muslim terrorists who went on an utterly senseless killing rampage in Mumbai on 26/11 â€” Indiaâ€™s 9/11 â€” gunning down more than 170 people, including 33 Muslims, scores of Hindus, as well as Christians and Jews. It was killing for killingâ€™s sake. They didnâ€™t even bother to leave a note.
All nine are still in the morgue because the leadership of Indiaâ€™s Muslim community has called them by their real name â€” â€œmurderersâ€ not â€œmartyrsâ€ â€” and is refusing to allow them to be buried in the main Muslim cemetery of Mumbai, the 7.5-acre Bada Kabrastan graveyard, run by the Muslim Jama Masjid Trust. (“No Way, No How, Not Here” –Thomas Friedman)
I regularly read Thomas Friedman’s column in the New York Times. His column from Wednesday — titled No Way, No How, Not Here — is just fabulous, not to mention interesting. It explores the Indian-Muslim reaction after last November’s terrorist attacks. Many generalize all Muslims as the same, but this is broad generalization is far from accurate. â€œIndian Muslims are proud of being both Indian and Muslim, and the Mumbai terrorism was a war against both India and Islam,â€ as one Muslim said, interviewed in the article. Read it now; I genuinely recommend it.
For many companies these days, it’s absolutely natural for them to tap the knowledge base abroad for parts of resource and development (R&D). Why? Students in “first-world” countries are still shying from the technical jobs, whereas in India, there are at least 100, 000 English-speaking engineers graduating a year. Folks in R&D, often unable to find enough engineers here in the West, head over to Asia. R&D is massively competitive, meaning products put out a year late often suffer great losses — as a consequence, the time-to-market pressure put on by the companies abroad also pushes Indians (and Chinese!) to innovate faster and faster. Also, these Asian economies want products suited to them — not just Western hand-me-downs (via BusinessWeek).
Let’s recap. Last month in Mangalore, India, a Hindu right-wing party — the Sri Ram Sena — descended upon a bar and chased out any women who were drinking.Â This incident, involving many male members of the Ram Sena kicking the escaping women, was video-taped and spread like wild-fire across the nation. Though the Mangalore situation caused much outcry, the leader of the group, on bail, still maintains that it “is not acceptable for Indian women to go into bars” (BBC South Asia).
In retaliation, women (and men!) across the country have formed the “The Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women.” With over 5,000 members, the Consortium has revealed its Valentine’s Day plan of protest. Not only are women encouraged to hit up the bars, but they are also encouraged to mail-in a pair of pink “chaddis” that will be sent en-masse to the Ram Sena. To clarify:
A spokeswoman for the group, Nisha Susan, told the BBC it was giving chaddis (Hindi colloquial for underwear) as they alluded to a prominent Hindu right-wing group whose khaki-shorts-wearing cadres were often derisively called “chaddi wallahs” (chaddi wearers).
The Hindu Nationalist BJP government of Karnataka (the state where Mangalore is located) has distanced itself from the Ram Sena, of course. Without a doubt, it is certainly a very interesting way to protest such massive idiocy (really, beating women for drinking?). The problem is though thirty people were arrested, I am sure a majority of them got away without a very harsh penalty. (Because that’s how India tends to work.)Â Thankfully, many women’s groups, as well as women in the government, have spoken out.Â They need to keep speaking out and keep women’s rights in the forefront.Â There has been much progress in this arena, but still so much more ground to cover — a lot of India, especially rural areas, are stuck in the past.Â Truly, I hope the Ram Sena appreciates the gift as they are not going to get much other love on Valentine’s Day.
Sure, you can live here!
IBM, through its program Project Match, is offering up jobs to laid-off, domestic workers in places like India, Brazil, and China.Â Perks? Awesome food and cheap living — and IBM off-sets most costs related to moving. Downside? The wages aren’t so hot, with this program. Of course, critics are booing the program vehemently. “Those are not U.S. jobs!” they cry, shaking their fists angrily at Big Blue. (Information Week)
Granted, that’s true, but IBM isn’t the first company to offer such a program. If anyone recalls, Delphi was sliding downhill a few years ago, but still had fairly successful offices abroad at the time. One of our family friends, in example, took such an offer to work in Bangalore for two years.Â Their lovely, gated-community bungalow was company-paid and the wages were comparable to when he was in the United States. His children attended a good international school, and there were many other perks involved.Â Clearly, this example isn’t completely comparable to IBM’s Project Match, but working abroad still isn’t that bad. Think of the cultural experience! Honestly, if I was laid-off and no other options were coming up, I’d give it a shot myself…
The Tamil Tigers have been in the news lately, and not gonna lie, my knowledge about them and the civil war going on in Sri Lanka is woefully inadequate. All I knew was that M.I.A.’s father, upon returning to Sri Lanka, became a political activist under the name “Arular” (also the name of her first album). Back in Sri Lanka, he became involved in the movement for the creation of a Tamil Eelam. Eelam, as I just found out, is the Tamil name for Sri Lanka.Â Here’s a summary of what I learned.
Implementing ambitious legislation without the support of all the states isn’t always the most fabulous idea — especially in India. Case in point? The Anti-Smoking laws (officially in place since October 2, 2008), forbidding smoking in public. Really difficult to enforce in such a large country, especially when the larger states like West Bengal and Maharashtra ignore the Health Ministry’s repeated reminders (India.com). Thankfully, four major states have aggressively begun the campaign, after realizing how much money they can make when fining these offenders. The problem, however, still remains: this thing isn’t going to work unless all the states are active participants. A major flaw in the Health Ministry’s plans is that they placed the responsibility on the the state health departments, many of which are dragging their feet on even implementing the basic structure of the program. If the Indian federal government wants to see results, it must take a more forceful stance.
Welcome back to Outsourced, your every-so-often dose of South Asian current events.
While many of us are looking eagerly ahead and counting down the days to the Inauguration of our President-Elect, India’s massive cinema industry is giving a last farewell to dear Dubya. (After all, post- Bush’s visit to India in 2006, we now import Indian mangoes. Really, Indian-Americans across the nation rejoiced at that one. And oh!Â There might be something about a nuclear deal… and massive rioting across the subcontinent at his visit.)
Mr.Â Sippy [producer of the film] says the film is not a dig at Mr Bush but does contain some of “his foibles”. (BBC News)
The President is Coming, adapted from the play by the same and directed by debut directer Kunaal Roy Kapoor, follows six young adults competing to be that young person under 30 whose hand Bush will shake. Flimsy sounding premise, maybe, but many a film have been made from a lot less. “And though political satire is not new to Indian theatre, it is only now that films like these are being made” (BBC South Asia). The film even includes footage from Dubya’s actual visit in 2006. Just released, this comedy has thus far been receiving fairly good reviews.
Shernaz Patel, one of the movie’s actresses, put it quite well: “I think we are going to miss [George W. Bush] because he provided so much fodder.”