Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Recession of Fourth (Real) Estate

Read this article about Dubai. The latest trend is now Dubai-bashing. And they spend their Times on it.

Dubai, no doubt had made severe mistakes in their emirates building. They took everything for granted. They tried to build a castle on loose sand and we all know that such spineless and hollow castles would not last long.

They were betting on all sorts of trading without anything concrete on ground. But compared to other six emirates, Dubai had a humane face. The bustling streets, the marvellous fusion of near, far and wide nationalities, liberal laws safeguarding and respecting human and civil rights, keeping pace with the values of any other modern, democratic, secular country and unlike many of their own brethrens in Saudi and other parts of the region.

But the main flaw was always there as mentioned above. Building a structure without any concrete substructures or firm soil beneath them. It got involved more and more in the business of manipulation and bequeathed their power and vision to the fancies of elite real estate cronies. They were cunningly lured into becoming royal pawns for the developers, builders and their petty real estate agents. Art and ethics of making money by the ancient and conventional way of earning money, or in another words, sweat, was easily forsaked. Doublng money by way of gambling and speculation became the rule of the day. And towards that end, everything followed. The rulers easily forgot that they were playing with the destiny of their state and the trust of millions of it's citizens. But the developers, builders and their networks had nothing on stake, except their own accounts and profits.

And now everything has stumbled upon each other, those who were silent spectators till now have come up. To laugh, mock, and blame. And Times too does its share alongwith other foreign media.

But how does it do it? Or, in another word, how should the media focus and handle these issues? Not definitely the way, Times do.

Times reporting is nothing but a different variety of yellow journalism. Corporate giants like BBC, Guardian and New York Times and authors like Christopher Davidson too reported their pet subject of Dubai Crumbling in the same fasion. The whole international media pounced on their till-now-favourite emirate to paint a grim picture of its 'apocalypse', with nothing but stuff collected from the daily public talk. They were not practicing the right journalism. They were weaving sensational stories. In the case of this specific article of Times, whole article is abound with these generalizations. For eg. Times report that "The large foreign banks that had been financing Dubai's real estate boom have pulled out..". should'nt they have named the foreign banks which have pulled out? Again, "The city's notoriously brutal traffic jams have eased somewhat in recent weeks since the reported exodus of thousands of expatriates, who make up more than 85% of Dubai's populationity..". we, in dubai, doesnt feel that Sir. We know that things are bad, people lose their jobs, many families are returning, many are planning to, pay scale has come down. Yes, all these things are true. But do we need a media like you to repeat these stories which everyone here knows well and experience daily. Was'nt it your duty to come up with real facts and figures and avoid the hear-says?

And to cap all, that hint about the ruler's health. "....The sheik has been rumored to have suffered significant health problems from the strain brought on by the emirate's economic woes...". Wouldnt it have been more sensational to hint that the 'Sheik' had attempted suicide or have lost his mind even?

Rumours always abound everywhere. Especially when it comes about big and mighty. Sheikhs and Sheikhdoms too are not immune to that. But when a newspaper or magazine with the repute of Times and others comes up with such trash and that too to sensationalize things, then they are staining this profession with yellow.

And did any of these 'doom celebrators' have ever in the past cared to warn against these speculative trend of Dubai. They were busy writing about Atlantis and The Towering Dreams, and the the champagene-soaked nightclubs of Dubai and were all praising and cheering the vision of its ruler, not so long back. What were their economists and columnists doing when things were going from bad to worse? Like those Wall Street pundits who were sleeping when the nation was going to dogs.

Newspapers in UAE too do their big share in hiding the facts and painting a bright picture of the Emirates. Even in ordinary times, their journalism was nothing remarkable. They had never dared to speak the entire truth and had all along coated their profession with abstract and a vague language. And as for recession, they had spotted it everywhere except in their own tiny kingdom. They too distort the truth, turns a blind eye on sharp realities all around. Pretty good masters in soft talk and appeasement of authorities.

Regarding the new draft of UAE's media law, though the media in UAE has taken a divided stand, it had for the first time boldy raised the issue of freedom of expression in proper terms and had made it a public debate. The authorities, as usual have come up in defense of the new draft, but the media world have put forward their concern. But, when it comes to the real work, they are reluctant for any significant change and sets itself and within unlimited self-made barriers.

For their part, they had neither acted as a watchdog of this society, nor helped to focus its core issues. They never bothered to alert the authorities about the potential evils of this speculative economy in which they and others subsisted. When the fradulent realtors had all these years took the whole society for a free ride, they were celebrating the global festivals and Terry Fox Runs and what not. They even acted as the PROs of these real estate manipulators and their sponsors and presented their papers daily, enwrapped in glossy cover sheets of these master manipulators.

In the end, we have different shades of yellow journalism, in and out.

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Thursday, 5 March 2009

Criminal Schooling

It has been in the news for last couple of months. The issue of a school in Dubai, which raised its fee structure to more than 90 percent and the parents' ongoing agitation over it and the various outcry which followed it.

The institution belongs to Sunny Varkey, owner of the GEMS group of schools, which run around 30 schools in UAE alone, including some upcoming ones, apart from multi-speciality hospitals and other things.

They have arbitrarily raised the fees in almost all their schools and raised it to astounding levels in this particular school. And naturally, the parents are agitated. No wonder. The reason cited for the rise is that this school would be relocated to a more spacious location and with more amenities. Education of course implies basic amenities, everywhere, but definitely it is not amenities that count, but rather, education, itself, for which GEMS and its schools were and are always way behind. But in pickpocketing the parents, there were and are in the forefront. This Sunny Varkey, incidentally was one of the recipients of Padmasri, a top civilian honour bestowed by Government of India to, mostly their most favoured pied pipers. Exceptions do occur sometimes.

According to the new structure introduced, over a period of two years starting from 2009, a KG 1 student who presently pays AED 14,094 per annum would end up paying AED 26,770 p.a. and a student who is in his/her matriculation trauma, would have to pay AED 35,920 in place of the present tuition fees of AED 18,908/-.

KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority), the authority supervising the educational policies and matters of Dubai had been acting blind towards GEMS and their schools, for a long period. Even when last year when, KHDA had set 16% fee limit for schools in Dubai, and that too under strict conditions, GEMS had managed to sidestep it under many pretences and the fee hike was initiated by none other than GEMS, noted for their greed and stubborn profit motives. Dubai rulers have a soft corner towards this instituion, as some of them themselves were products of GEMS' parent school long back during 60s, and had gained their education from Varkey's aprents for a humble fees of 25 indian rupees. But that does'nt give a school or anyother institution to bypass law and launch daylight robbery as per one's own whims. Now, yesterday KHDA had come up with a ruling that it " refused an arbitrary increase in tuition fees by Dubai Modern High School if it decided to stay on in the current premises". This method would suit a police justifying or abetting a robber, rather than a state educational authority responsible for the future of children. It would be more better if KHDA stops this educational regulating business once for all and dive into Dubai's more lucrative business, that is real estate, another synonym for utter greed and manipulation. Perhaps KHDA allowed all this mess for the 27 million US$, which Varkey had pledged for Dubai Care programme. Art of favouring each other.

Now, come to parents. I cannot stand with them either. When good education on a much cheaper fees level is available in the Emirates, they chose the most expensive one befitting their own snobbish class character. They wanted their children to be different from others. Of course, no harm in that. Every parent secretly cherish that stupidity. But these parents thought that, paying more money for their education would make them and their kids a different breed. Yes, it would. As misfits. They never bother to learn that expensive education seldom make bright students. Social exclusiveness beget other more awkward things in young minds. If they can afford to pay one hundred thousand dirhams (convert it to our poor rupee) for 2 kids per annum, then why not they pay much more? In return, their kids might get a more hygenic swimming pool or a golf club or a racing course even minus what the one thing what they were sent for.

Padmasri crooks gets away with their daily plunder, fat-salaried snobberies wail over their minor losses and authorities look the other way. A global festival scenario for us, the Dubaites. Meanwhile the great questions of social responsbility of education, governments duties, deplorable mis-ethics of building-up two type of future citizens and etc. remain unanswered, uncared.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Trial of a celebrity slumdog

Binayak Sen's trial has started. We dont know whether he would be acquitted or charged. But, considering the criminal nexus which binds the country's executive and legislative systems, it is natural if one fear that the judiciary too would easily be forced to toe the same line.

This is one of the state (alongwith Jharkhand, Andhra and tohers) which is being showcased by the Indian elite as infested by the naxalites (read, the terrorists). This is one of the state which possess immense natural wealth in the form of minerals. This is one of the states targetted by some of the most greedy multinational as well as domestic corporates for their unrelenting plunder. This is one of the state, which, despite its underground wealth, remains also an underdeveloped and malnourished one. This is one of the state where tribals are in majority and are continuously bullied and made subservient to the 'babus'.

Such a state cannot be expected without having its own share of subaltern uprisings. And that is what exactly happens in there. And then our Indian elite and media showcase this state (alongwith a few others like Jharkhand, Andhra and Madhya Pradesh) as infested by naxalites (read, the terrorists). For them, Salwa Judum is not terror. But Naxalites and Maoists are. And anybody who is suspected of having some or other connection with them are put behind bars and justice denied to them. Binayak is going through that fate. Unlike us, he had made it clear that he has trust in the system. Don't know where it comes from. And unlike us all, he was not wasting his time. He was serving up among tribals. He is a celebrity known all over. He is a dedicated health practitioner. State and judiciary openly spits on the face of democratic and human rights. Of course, we have all the right to tell United States to go to hell, when they preach about human right violations in our country. Their record is definitely a thousand fold worse than us. But let us not compete with them for that record.

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Sunday, 24 February 2008

The Sold-outs

And they made it indeed a big news.

The sold-out players. Dhoni bagging 6 crores and even the little known ones bagging and ending up with 2 crores or 1. And how many thousands make up one million? Zeros add up and simply make it big. Newspapers celebrate it. Orgasm of patriotism and sportsmanship. All combined in one. And who pays? Who sucks commission? No questions asked. It is all big game boy. Big games, and big players. Big actors and show-big enchantresses. A fusion music.

The players. Dhoni onwards down to the insignificant ones. All up for sale. Life-time slaves to the highest bidder.

What charisma and glamour would be theirs to have SOLD OUT on their photos and displayed all over the media! Now try wooing their family members too. Probably You might get them too, and probably at a cheaper price. Who can say?

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Binayak Sen

The Third National Convention of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace expresses its deep sense of anguish and outrage at the continued detention of Dr.Binayak Sen by the State of Chhattisgarh under draconian laws, which deprive its victims of the basic rights enshrined in the Constitution of India. Dr.Sen is the General Secretary of Peoples' Union for Civil Rights, Chhattisgarh, a member of the Medico Friends Circle, and one of those who has played a leading role in founding the CNDP. Dr.Sen, a medical doctor by profession, has not only dedicated his professional life to serve the medical needs of the poor and the needy in one of the most backward areas of the country but also is one with inexhaustible energy and enthusiasm for all the other causes to which he has expressed his commitment. Dr.Sen has been an unrelenting champion of human rights, a crusader against economic & social exploitation of the tribal population, a steadfast campaigner against bureaucratic corruption, and a staunch opponent of communalism. Above all, Dr.Sen is an unswerving activist for the cause of disarmament and peace.

Dr.Sen graduated with distinction from the prestigious Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, and later completed his MD there in 1974. In recognition of his outstanding contribution to society, in 2004, Dr.Sen received the Paul Harrison award for lifetime work of medical care in the service of humanity, an award given annually by the CMC to one of its alumni. It is this medical professional and social activist, who has been recognised as "a role model for the students and staff of CMC", who was arrested on 14 May 2007 allegedly for "unlawful activities", which were supposedly "threatening public security". Dr.Sen has been detained since then on utterly infounded charges. In wilful violation of the basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India, the State of Chhatisgarh is hell bent on detaining Dr.Sen by hook or by crook because it is terribly fearful of Dr.Sen's persistent activities, which would have totally exposed the misdeeds and misdemeanours of the State Government and its hangers-on.

It is a crying shame that one of India's most dedicated and committed medical practitioner and social activist should be languishing in jail in solitary confinement for the past several months and denied basic rights that are otherwise available to political prisoners. Dr.Sen has not only been denied the opportunity to use his professional expertise to treat other co-prisoners in the overcrowded jail � who have little access to adequate medical needs � but also he has no way of preventing deterioration of his professional skills due to prolonged disuse. What is equally worse is the fact that Dr.Sen has been denied adequate access to everyday news and information, which are vital to an intellectual of his stature and calibre in this age of information.

The Third National Convention of the CNDP, hereby, calls upon all concerned citizens of this country to join us in seeking the immediate release of Dr.Binayak Sen, who is a victim of gross injustice. If we fail to vehemently contest and vociferously oppose the arbitrary violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India and fail to put an end to such blatant violations without further delay, we would be guilty of slowly and surely aiding and abetting the destruction of democracy in this country.

The CNDP wishes to take this opportunity to express its wholehearted solidarity and support to Dr.Sen's partner, Dr.Ilina Sen � a member of the National Co-ordination Committee, CNDP � and their two daughters in this hour of trial and pledges to do all it can to rally wider support to ensure the immediate release of the honourable and respected Dr.Binayak Sen.

Peace is doable.

(This resolution was passed at the Third National Convention of Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) during 1-3 February 2008 in Nagpur, India)

For more reading on this, please click here


Sunday, 3 February 2008

Save Pervez

British daily, The Independent had come up with an updated news on Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, a 23 year old journalism student, who had been sentenced to death, by the pseudo-secular Karzai government of Afghanistan, under severe pressure from the fundamentalists.

Click here for extract of news and endorse your support in the online petition for the immediate release of Pervez.

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Saturday, 2 February 2008

The World of Layla Anwar

Dear Layla,

Even while sitting at a safe distance, I still feel inside a deep awe towards you.

Why is it so?

You, an Iraqi, a young lady and for you, life and writings are nothing but the pain of your bleeding nation.

For me, a middle-aged Indian, it is a pastime, relaxed in an easy-chair of a self-imposed exile and done at my own leisure. Is it because of that distance that I feel that awe?

I am sure that you cannot abuse me in the public, nor you can deprive me of my own trifle pleasures. No way. Still I feel the awe. It is so because, you are experiencing the trauma of a deep and great suffering. And myself and my people, just enacting and wailing on our own silly miseries.

Mostly, it is always the other way round. Those on stage enact and the spectator goes through the experiences unfolded on the stage, right? Here, right on the stage, you are the one experiencing these hard times, and we, the unsympathazing spectators, sit in the crystallized silence in the dark togetherness. You and your people are the characters in this unmerciful story. Nay, You are the story itself. We, the inhuman audience.

Maybe, at some other age, a more sensitive generation might come and replace us, I am sure. And they would be definitely asking me and my people, why did we abandon you and your people to the merciless claws of history, and I am sure that we would not have a single reply for them. Perhaps I may blurt out an easy confession, that, dear,it all happened so or something like that.

From you too, they will demand, as to how come that we, your contemporaries, become such miserable eunechs to have left you (and your people) alone on the street of history to fight it out yourself. And to which, you might as well reply in that inimitable style of your own "Tell them to fuck off, it is enough that we have ourselves to fight it out, that is more than enough". I am sure that you will say that.

Next time some personality development evangelists drop in somewhere here - one or other of those nuts always throng this City, Layla (by the way, we call this city, City that Cares) - I will ask them about ways to get rid of this self humiliation. Even if I have to pay more for that, no problem. I can at least have my own bit of peace of mind. So far, so good.


To read and know more of Layla, please visit here

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