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Shantanu Mukharji
Saturday , January 11, 2014

Remembering Lal Bahadur Shastri

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On January 11, 1966 exactly 48 years ago, my father who was a compulsive listener of All India Radio (AIR), woke me breaking the news of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri's sad demise at Tashkent. The whole nation went into mourning on the loss of such a great leader especially for his dynamic leadership displayed only few months ago leading to a crushing and decisive victory over Pakistan in the famous 1965 conflict. There are very few leaders of that stature who could steer the history in country's favour by not compromising on petty issues and unified the whole nation by cutting across religious party, caste or class lines and emerging victorious. Today, while we commemorate Shastri, so many memories surface as I was only 15 when he led the country so ably to bring us the much deserving victory. Even in the absence of electronic media or pro-active....

Friday , October 11, 2013

Happy Birthday, Big B!

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Amitabh Bachchan (AB) and I have few things in common. We both were born in Allahabad and are proud Allahabadis. Coincidentally, AB lived in a house in Bank road, Allahabad and his house separated the room where I too was born in Prayag Street barely hundred metres away. Only a notional boundary wall was between the two houses. He is eight years elder to me and while in Allahabad, I never heard of him. But his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan was very well known in literary circles. When AB started getting name and fame with successful films in early 70s, people in Allahabad started associating his name that here lived AB, he studied in this school, so and so are his playmates, his sense of humour was too good, his literary skills for reciting his father's poems were par excellence etcetera etcetera. I was also hit by the same....

Thursday , October 03, 2013

The relevance of 2nd October

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Like each year, this year too 2nd October came and passed almost unnoticed. People enjoyed the public holiday . Media too did not engage them. There was some mention in the TV about the Prime Minister visiting Rajghat offering floral tributes to the Father of the Nation and that was all. With the electronic press at its peak and in the thick of cut throat competition to outdo their adversaries on TRP ratings, we looked forward at least to some panel discussions on TV on the relevance of Gandhi or otherwise, some animated debate on Gandhi's life and times and his contribution to the freedom movement . Alas, nothing was on the air or on the screen. The press was dominated with the news of another Gandhi. Yes, Rahul Gandhi on the ordinance issue. Rahul's meeting with the PM and related developments hogged the prime time. So there....

Monday , September 30, 2013

Fighting terror in J&K

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As I post this blog, terrorists are firing at the civilians in Sanatnagar area in Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. This indiscriminate attack comes barely 48 hours after the deadly killings of one Lt Colonel and several others including police personnel of police station Hiranagar. The daring assault at the army armored unit at Samba shows the determination of the Pakistan sponsored terrorists who are on a killing spree, and are going virtually unchecked. Silver lining, however, is the army was able to kill all the terrorists. I salute all those martyred in such bold attacks. Terrorists from across the border forced an auto driver at gun point and moved freely in the town for nearly an hour covering 40 Kms. According to the auto driver, not a single check post was in sight throughout the drive. The terrorists first struck at Hiranagar police station killing policemen. The....

Monday , September 16, 2013

Muzaffarnagar riots: What next?

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After the dust has started settling down, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav visited the riot torn areas in Muzaffarnagar and also met the victims' families. As expected, he was booed and heckled but managed to come out unscathed. Thanks to those menacing looking gun trotting NSG black cat commandos. An inexperienced CM still seems to be struggling to come to terms with his administration's abject failure to contain the communal flare up claiming more than 40 lives. As a corrective measure, Senior Superintendent of Police(SSP) of Muzaffarnagar has been suspended.CM has spared the bigwigs who should also be held to account for their dismal failure to supervise the riot control measures. In a situation, where a congregation of thousands brandishing weapons in utter defiance of law were raising inflammatory slogans, how can only the SSP be held responsible? What about the District Magistrate? And the seniors meant....

Thursday , August 01, 2013

UP: Akhilesh vs bureaucracy

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The recent suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal on charges of fomenting alleged communal tension in Gautam Budh Nagar has shocked one and all. Ms Nagpal is thought to be a brilliant and committed civil servant who had taken up a great challenge in fighting the sand mafia. There are very few officers in the government who, risking their lives and occupation, have the courage to take on the wrongdoers. And the result? Suspension! It's high time the IAS community rose to the occasion and mounted pressure on the government to revoke the suspension order. Civil Societies should also close their ranks and make the government retract from its stand of suspension. Not only an upright and honest officer will be demoralised by such an unjust action, other officials with similar commitment will be deterred from acting against offenders of organised crime. Media can also play a pro-active role....

Thursday , July 25, 2013

On Jim Corbett and his Kenyan connection

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Today (July 25) is Jim Corbett's 138th birthday. Yes the same Jim Corbett, author of 'Man eaters of Kumaon' and world famous conservationist. Born on July 25, 1875, Corbett was brought up in Kaladhungi and Nainital. After his early schooling, he went to Mokameh Ghat, Bihar, and worked in the railways for several years. He saw action during the First World War in France and other places and after the war was over, he settled down in Nainital where he lived till 1947. While living in Nainital, Jim spent most of his time in the jungles saving the locals from leopards and tigers who had turned man eaters. These exploits of shikar are well known to most of us as they are comprehensively featured in well documented books including in Corbett's autobiography. What is perhaps not so well known is Jim Corbett's Kenya connection. Immediately after our....

Monday , July 22, 2013

An incorrigible nation?

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The December 16 sexual assault on Nirbhaya in a moving bus in the capital city had shocked the entire nation and the country rose up in an unprecedented show of unity by organising protests, holding agitations, many a times violent, candle light vigils, animated and angry panel discussions on news channels. It seemed that once again we were united for a cause like the scenes we had witnessed during the Indo-China war of 1962, wars with Pakistan in 1965 and '71. The one voice of the entire nation demanding justice against the offenders of the shameful crime looked never ending. It raised hopes of the billion plus Indians that such heinous acts would never recur. Barely seven months have passed since that dastardly act and we are back to square one. Not a single day passes when we don't see a news item on sexual assaults against women.....

Monday , July 15, 2013

Goodbye telegram

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With a very heavy heart, I bid adieu to Telegram or Tar (Hindi) which has been shut down yesterday after rendering such personalised service for over 163 years. Telegram has been a household name as we grew up in the fifties and sixties. We will never hear the gentle voice 'Telegram' announcing the Tarwallah's arrival to deliver a telegram. A gentle knock on the door will precede his call to alert the inmate. Clad in a khaki uniform with a typical red bordered khaki cap, the Tarwallah will quickly hand over an envelope containing a pink paper, on top of which a white strip of paper carrying a typed message was glued. One could make out from the body language of the Tarwallah if the telegram contained sad news like death of a close relative or friend or someone's illness. If it was a bad news, the Tarwallah would....

Thursday , June 06, 2013

On sixty years of the conquest of Everest

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Barely a week ago, the world observed the diamond jubilee of the conquest of Mount Everest. On May 29, sixty years ago, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay scaled the highest peak of the world. It was a matter of extraordinary joy and pride for us, Indians, as Tenzing was an Indian. Soon after the successful ascent, people started questioning as to who among the two mountaineers was the first to set his foot on the summit. Many had thought that Hillary being a British subject and the expedition being English-sponsored, he would get priority over a simple sherpa and go down in history as the first to achieve this great feat. In this context, I have located an article written by Tenzing on this 'controversy' and relevant excerpts of the same are reproduced below and I am sure readers will find them interesting. ".......later, when we came....


More about Shantanu Mukharji

Shantanu Mukharji joined the police in 1976 and was exposed to handling complex investigations and law and order situations, especially communal disturbances, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. With varied experience, he was deputed to various countries overseas for security related assignments. He was also with the elite SPG for seven years looking after VVIP security. A widely travelled officer with a diverse exposure, Mukharji also served the Cabinet Secretariat and Bureau of Security (MEA) in different capacities. A receipient of Indian Police Medal for Meritorious service and President's Police Medal for distinguished service, Shantanu Mukharji, after retirement from GoI, is now the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. He is a freelance writer in English and Hindi and focusses on topical issues.