Posts by Verpal Singh

  • OnPoint: D18: Like that garage scene…,

    Keen observations Keith. I am just wondering what would be your reaction if you had to live in Bangalore for, say, a year?!
    Two points re your post:

    1. McAloo Tikki doesn't signify commercialisation of Indian life. "Aloo" is means Potato and "tikki" is patty. It is one of the most common snack foods available even in the smallest towns of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. What McDonalds seems to have done is put that inside a burger bun. Many Indian restraunts/Sweets and Snack food shops in Auckland offer "Aloo Tikki" on their menu. I am just wondering if McDonalds has offered "Smosa burger"?! When I was boarding in the College hostel during my graduation studies, we used to put a smosa between two bread pieces, and eat it like a sandwich. [Just to caution, the smosa I am talking about is quite different from the bite-sized ones I have seen here -- not only in size but taste and texture as well.]

    2. About the shiny upper layer and the smelly underbelly of Indian society, you will be surprised how closely the underbelly is monitored by the elite. If there is one country where it is absolutely impossible for a revolution of the "proletariat kind" to occur, it is India. 10 to 1, the pro-Saddam rally was the handiwork of a political party in opposition at the State government level or the Federal level to embarrass the incumbent political party. The elite has many tools to control those who actually indulge in the Bangalore-style violence. And those who organize this kind of violence do so in an area where the police is headed by "one of our own". That is why you will find that since 1947, when British left a truncated India to its own designs, there have been hundreds of riots but not even a 100 people have been convicted for crimes committed during these riots.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Appeasing Osama,

    One of the stated aims of bin Laden before 9/11 was that he wanted US troops out of Saudi Arabia and he wants "regime change" in the whole of Arab world.

    1. He isn't the first one to seek regime change in the Arab world. The only difference is that all those who previously sought more say for common people in the Arab affairs (since 1950s at least) were ruthlessly put down either by client regimes of US, UK and France or were forced out by coups sponsored by these countries.

    2. Dinesh D'Souza tries to lay the blame for America's problems at the door of what he terms "liberals". That smells of propaganda as much of the hate garnered by the very mention of the word "USA" stems from actions of the "conservative" governments -- utter inhumanity in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Chile, Argentina of Nixon-Kissinger years; Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras of Reagan years; support for persistent coups in resource rich African countries and dictators like Suharto.

    3. "Liberals" haven't exactly painted themselves in white in these areas, but their culpability stems from trying to pull USA out of the disasters that the "conservatives" have deliberately pushed it in to.

    4. "Conservatives" thrive in the knowledge that once a policy has been set, it is virtually impossible to change it. Take for instance the use of Veto in Security Council. Till 1970, USA made it a question of principle not to use its Veto power. But once Kissinger orchestrated the use of American Veto to protect Israeli interests, none of the US governments (whether Republican or Democrat) have been able to change or even modify this policy. In the 36 years of UN's 60 years that US used its veto, more than 90% of the time it has been used to protect Israeli interests. (Of this 90%, nearly 90% of the vetos were exercised by the Republican governments, with the first American veto of an Indian sponsored Security Council resolution critical of Israeli actions in the aftermath of 1967 war, forcing the hand of Egypt and Syria to start the 1973 war, as these country saw the UN door shut in their face.) Effectively, thus, American Veto is actually an Israeli proxy.

    And proxies are always dangerous -- and always for the one acting as the proxy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Yellow Peril: the identity game,

    Being in New Zealand for only three years, I don't think I have enough experience of the land or its people to contribute any insights to this absolutely fascinating discussion. However, my understanding of the issue involved here might help highlight how these understandings evolve as one's attachment grows over a period of time.

    1. Maori feel a spiritual attachment with the land while non-Maori feel a material attachment. A non-Maori whose, say, five generations have lived on the same piece of land might feel a link to that piece of land, but this link will break with the first generation that is born when the material ownership of that land is no longer in the family. From that generation a new link might start developing with the piece of land which is now legally owned.

    2. For the Maori, however, legal ownership of the land is not an issue in feeling connected. The land might be crown-owned or in private hands for a hundred years, or there might be malls built on the land, but the link is still felt.

    3. This is not the case with non-Maori. When the land has been sold to a developer, and all old tales replaced with brand-new joinery, the link snaps. However, a person with British or French roots, even after five generations as a New Zealander, might still feel a unique sensation when one stands in front of the lion statue on the battlefield of Waterloo. Or when one stands on the Beaches of Normandy where one's ancestor might have died or got injured or lost the war.

    4. As to the French Vineyards, the link exists because vineyards exist. One does not have to be colonized to feel the melancholy. Replace a vineyard with a skyscraper and the melancholy would set in.

    5. We need to differentiate between a tangible link with the land and a non-tangible one. All of us carry both type of links within our existence. The problem occurs when the State decides to subordinate the spiritual to the material. Or when the spiritual is sought to be encashed in material terms.


    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: The Hollow Men: Initial Impressions,

    One of the intriguing things, in my mind, is the way National's grab for power appears to have consciously mirrored that which worked for so long for the Republicans in the US.

    Terence, that should worry people not only in this country but everywhere in the world.

    Hager book seems to be the equivalent of Nixon's White House recordings and Kissinger's transcripts of his telephonic conversations, becoming public.

    What should be worrying all those who implicitly believe in public's say in running of a country is that:

    1. methods perfected by the American intelligence agencies to destabilize "unfriendly" regimes all over the world are being used by secretive groups with hidden agendas in their own countries.

    2. American intelligence agents were the first to employ manipulation (perfected in Latin American countries) in their own country to install a government (Ronald Reagan's) that works according to Intelligence agency agenda. The fact that National nearly won the last election testifies to the vulnerability of the electoral system -- and the importance that MMP plays in providing some sort of safeguard against this weakness.

    3. Media has increasingly become a tool in the hands of these manipulators. Imagine the "state of awareness" we will be in if there were no blogs and we were fed information only through audio-visual and print media.

    4. This manipulativeness isn't limited only to those working in privately controlled media, but amongst those in public broadcasting too. The example of Paul Henry, TVNZ's Breakfast show host, illustrates this amply. He has brought to TV the attack-"journalism" of talk-back radio where any "hostile" respondent is rudely put-down, or made an example of, so that anyone else who was thinking of disagreeing with the broadcaster would do so by braving the coming insult. For instance, in today's show he interviewed Mathew Hooton (groan!) with kid gloves. At the time of viewer feedback, he read a letter asking why Hooton wasn't asked about Hager's book especially when he is also in it. Henry's sneering reply was that the "interview was on a different topic and we have already talked about Hager's book. So there you go." Interview was on National's current state and today's leadership election. Very different topic.

    I suggest there should be a running ticker that says what the affiliations of those speaking on a topic are -- Mathew Hooton was advisor to Brash and Paul Henry is a former National candidate. Unless of course the journalists are professional enough to maintain their objectivity. A case in point - Mark Sainsbury's "Insight" programme on Rugby Stadium. I am sure Mr Sainsbury votes in elections. But no one could have claimed to know which party he votes for after seeing the programme.

    And that for me is what differentiates a journalist from a propagandist.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Let's be hearing it,

    I never saw him as "honest Don." I saw him as a technocrat lacking in the broad political and community experience required in a party leader. His hierarchical and autocratic corporate background made him ill-equipped to deal with the multi faceted nuances of modern New Zealand and was the source of his constant gaffes.

    Tom that is exactly my impression of Brash. Don Brash was as much responsible for increasing National's seats in the last elections as George Bush II was for winning the 2000 election for Republicans. And that should be a worry for those who want the demos in democracy to retain their primacy in the whole process. The spin doctors, the "political consultants", the divisive "strategists" are increasingly playing the people as pieces on the chess board. It should be instructive that TV One News showed a youngish guy on the street saying, "I think John Key should succeed Don Brash. I don't know why, but he seems to be the right person." (paraphrasing mine)

    John Key is another media creation. A completely untested entity to whom people, led by the media, are ready to entrust a whole country, without knowing why. I found it quite interesting that the moment John Key appeared on the scene, Dr Brash was increasingly referred to in the media as living on borrowed time. The culmination was the statements that John Key is going to replace Brash, the question is when in the next couple of weeks. Just look at the Listner cover (Nov. 10-17?).

    Perhaps we should be paying more attention to why media finds John Key so fascinating. And let's ask what exactly are John Key's qualifications to be in a position to possibly lead this country. I would vote for a down to earth Bill English any day than for poseur John Key (remember his posing in the Green Room during his appearance on Agenda some time back?!).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Let's be hearing it,


    Yes, we must be living in different worlds. Then again, I don't start screeching 'bias' every time I hear or read something disobliging to the National Party (though I do have to wonder whether some hacks are starting to feel like the cult leader who's been predicting the world will end next Tuesday for years. Make a move, John, and put 'em out of their misery!), or Helen Clark gets through an interview on National Radio without teeth-marks in her throat.

    Gee Craig aintcha techy! I didn't "SCREECH" (oops sorry!) bias. That's your word - just like "snark" (pardon my lack of knowledge of Kiwi slang, though I wonder if you did mean Lewis Carroll's Snark ;-). I meant exactly what I said, "We are living in different worlds -- in your world everyone knows all the facts regardless of spin and obfuscation, while in my world people seem to find it hard to sift through the increasingly dense fog of media manipulation."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Let's be hearing it,

    Anyone who could read? Sorry for the snark, but most people I know of all political persuasions hit the point of information (and spin) overload a while back.

    Hmm we must be living in different worlds. Oh wait, we ARE living in different worlds. Thanks for reminding me ;-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Let's be hearing it,

    So people really do watch Breakfast TV Wow!

    Depends on the job I suppose. I am home nowadays, looking after my daughter; performing my "ablution" before she wakes up :)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Let's be hearing it,

    The blatantly biased way media handled the Labour Party election spending (how many people on the street know that every Party with the exception of Progressives, was guilty of what Labour was accused of?), especially commentators like Paul Henry, Mathew Hooton and Lisa Owen amongst others (Guyon Espiner did try to at least appear objective in his comments), had made me lose faith in media being the fourth estate. Nicky Hager saga will hopefully make an honest journalist out of these personages who didn't think it amiss to obfuscate issues because they "dislike Helen Clark" (or "a woman in power" as Paul Henry put it in yesterday's Breakfast show, with finding it difficult to hold back his derisive laughter at Helen Clark wearing the Vietnamese dress). It was fun watching Mathew Hooton on today's Breakfast being given the chance to discredit Hager. But it would have been more fun if Paul Henry had been asked to interview both Hager and Hooton (and together!).
    Russell Brown & David Slack, why are we seeing less of you on Breakfast these days ?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Bar brawls aren't my thing,

    A few questions:

    1. This isn't the first time Coddington and Cone have exposed themselves as mediocre "journalists" at best. So why do they continue to find space in the media? [Remember Cone's comment made on "Eye To Eye" during discussion on the lock-out of Progressive distribution workers -"I can't understand why the company needs to pay the same wages to those working in Auckland and those in Palmerston North? Obviously Auckland is a more expensive city than Palmerston North." only to be informed by Laila Harre that Auckland workers were being paid LESS than their Palmerston North counterparts! (Paraphrasing is mine)]

    2. What exactly is this "PC Brigade"? Seems to me that those who expose or fight the biases and prejudices of right-wing conservatives are branded "PC" and dismissed out of hand without answering any of the questions raised by them. For instance, would those who claim to oppose "political correctness" please stand up and say what "extraordinary rendition" really is - state-sanctioned kidnappings. Or how about "collateral damage" ? Or "deal with extreme prejudice" ? As Bertrand Russell pointed out, the army of the enemy exists to attack, while "our" army exists to defend - anyone who says otherwise is "unpatriotic" or a traitor. The same is the case with those using ridicule to target that section of a population which advocates an unbiased and unprejudiced language for a public discourse.

    3. Does one need to be "courageous" to pander to a population's biases and prejudices or is the courage needed to stand up and challenge these inclinations ?

    4. Obviously, Coddington or Cone can't be termed "objective" by any stretch, so should they be called journalists? Isn't objectivity the prerequisite for a journalist, just as an unbiased and unprejudiced approach is a prerequisite for a Judge?



    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply