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Jyoti Kamal
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sikhs refuse to forget Operation Blue Star

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Four copies of a "top secret and personal" letter go out from the London office of a Principal Private Secretary of the British Government on February 6, 1984. It refers to the first inklings of a military operation being planned 8300 kilometres away in the former colonial capital of New Delhi that would three months later be known as Operation Blue Star. On being declassified 30 years later, it leads to an eruption of anger among Sikhs, a community 27 million strong worldwide. Over the years, Operation Blue Star and incidents that preceded and followed it has become a controversy that refuses to fade. If anything, it flares up with a disturbing periodicity. A turbulent phase in the history of Punjab, it is an issue characterized by a boiling cauldron of emotions. Punjab today is prosperous, progressive, harmonious and peaceful. Other than the usual....

Friday , May 18, 2012

Restrain social media! Are you crazy??

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Haven't we always talked about things with people we know and sometimes with people we don't know that well? Isn't that what being human is all about? Isn't that what has propelled civilisation forward - by allowing millions and billions of us to exchange thoughts, views, opinions, gossip and conversation? Isn't that what has been the next brilliant paradigm of evolution after the marvel of instinctual learning and behaviour? Should what you talk with your friends be monitored? Should what you think about any person, idea, thought or feeling be something that you cannot talk about with someone you choose to? Should what you want to share with your parents, your friends, your children or for that matter anyone you care to have a conversation with, be censored? Or, should you be told to stop communicating? That we humans can converse and process thoughts and ideas in our....

Sunday , November 08, 2009

Trumpeting Elephant vs Hissing Dragon

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Myanmar/Burma was once a part of British India. Does that make it ours again? Tibet once extended dominion over parts of China. Does that make China a part of Tibet today? Tibet once controlled parts of Arunachal Pradesh, albeit tenaciously and China today rules Tibet by force. Does that make parts of Arunachal Pradesh a part of China? Well, China indeed does think so. Logical? Yes and No. No for the simple reason that such extrapolations and corollaries would confuse an already confused world. Logical, yes, because China is pricking India. Not just in Arunachal Pradesh , but elsewhere too. It is known to be stoking Maoist uprisings in Nepal--our neighbor. It is known to have supplied nuclear technology to Pakistan--our neighbor. It is supportive of the military Junta in Myanmar - our neighbor. It has close defence ties with Bangladesh, our neighbor. It is encircling India with a....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


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This Sunday had northern Chandigarh awash in the uniform of Haryana's Jatland - white and not-so-white kurta pyjamas with sneakers. Throngs descended at Governor Paharia's residence to attend the swearing-in of Bhupinder Singh Hooda. So much so that a mild cane charge had to be ordered outside the Governor's house to push back the sea of sweating, panting, humanity struggling to get past the big black gates with the Ashoka Pillars of brass. Democracy at work, I thought, wondering at the motivation driving these guys to come all the way from Rohtak and Narwana and Jind and Sirsa to catch a glimpse of their leader in a pushing, jostling, maddening crowd of supporters. The swearing-in ceremony is a surprisingly brief affair and when it is just the CM then it is about a one-minute affair. Yet the crowds. Baffling for sure. Add to it the hopelessly out-of-tune police....

Monday , April 06, 2009

Revolving doors in Punjab

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Captain Amarinder Singh and his party did a first at the Chandigarh Press Club recently. Rated as the country's best Press Club, it is a rather superior watering hole. The club had allowed 100 Congress supporters to be present for a so-called Press Conference with Capt Amarinder Singh. On the day, as I arrived at the club, I found that the Press Club looked a little different. A huge political rally-type crowd streamed towards it.It was then that we discovered that it was in fact a rally and not a press conference at all. For heaven's sake, a Congress rally at the Chandigarh Press Club! Journos were astounded and poor Press Club officials sheepishly explained that they did not know this was the Congress' plan. Anyway we tried to push ahead through the crowd to be able to see and hear Capt Amarinder Singh, sitting at the centre....

Tuesday , March 03, 2009

Yo-yo politics at work

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Hove Kakaji di Umar Lameri (may Kakaji live long) crooned Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans. The Kakaji is obviously Sukhbir Badal, Punjab's Akali Deputy Chief Minister. Hans Raj Hans is the Shiromani Akali Dal candidate for the Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat. Now, Hans, an iconic Punjabi singer is not really getting the positive adulation he might have been seeking for putting up a spectacular musical performance at the oath taking ceremony of Sukhbir Badal in Amritsar in January. His going a bit overboard in his welcoming Sukhbir Badal with his songs is not going down well with the singer's community who would rather avoid the tag of being the "royal singer" of the Akalis. But then, when development is a debatable issue, the focus shifts to populism. Enter Hans Raj Hans. Ah well, things are warming up. The weather. So too the politics. Not yet hot. Wait a....

Friday , November 28, 2008

The logic of terror

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It always makes my heart swell with pride when we are called a big Muslim population nation-a fact that many of us sometimes seem to forget. We are the third biggest Muslim nation in the world, far ahead of Iraq or Iran or Afghanistan or Malaysia or Bangladesh or Saudi Arabia. But it is also a fact that scares many. They are the ones who project the infirmities of a few Muslims on to a whole community. A population that is inherently Indian. That is what makes India India, and that is what made India. Talk about terrorism and the modus operandi is simple. The ones who have the larger picture in mind, the ones who are devious and could have any one amongst several objectives in mind: weaken India's economy, slow down India's rise to big power status, get India's democracy to falter, make its people....

Tuesday , August 05, 2008

Jammu: Ground Zero, Danger Ahead

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After we were chased back by the crowds at Kathua, we speed back to Madhopur, a dusty, dirty, muddy water pool area which is the last Punjab outpost. We park along with the lines of trucks on the roadside. After transmitting video footage of the Kathua tension to Noida we go to the Coral River Resort to have a bite and decide what to do next. The resort is a welcome contrast to Madhopur's dullness with open dining next to a winding green canal. We decide we will try and enter Jammu when night falls and people are off the streets. We have heard that the Army has been deployed on the Kathua-Jammu highway and it will be safe to travel. Dusk comes and night falls. We gear up once again. I pick up a walkie talkie from our OB van so we can at least communicate if there....

Sunday , August 03, 2008

Jammu: Ground Zero, Day One

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Ahead of us is our white coloured outdoor broadcast van with its big satellite dish pointing straight ahead, advertising its presence magnificently. On regular broadcast coverage trips I feel comfortable with our OB van in tow because it makes it that much easier to transfer video from the spot location to our studios in Noida, but today I am feeling jittery. The highway from Pathankot in Punjab to Jammu has mobs of Hindu protesters, gathered in groups at random places along the road, but mainly concentrated where there are towns, villages or hamlets. The youth in the mob are clad like youth anywhere in India, but the handkerchiefs covering the faces of many seem a bit eerie. Our cameraman and me are trailing the OB in our Innova, when suddenly up ahead in Kathua, just a few kilometers into J&K territory we spot a huge mob that has....

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Debating a Marshal's death

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India needs to wake up! A Field Marshal, a legend, a father figure, a soldier who could never retire passes away into eternity, and the Home and Defence Ministry squabble over the warrant of precedence? What warrant of precedence? Who other than stodgy government types cares what the warrant says? Respect has to be earned, not demanded. The custodians of the warrants are supposed to be the crème de la crème - The Indian Administrative Service, and surely the least that one expects from the IAS, is an ability to think. And is this what the top officials thought? If the legendary Marshal did not straightaway warrant an amazingly respectful state funeral then who really does? And for what credentials? It is amazing that our great nation is coming down to such a level that it does not have the ability to quickly recognize and salute genuine worthiness,....


More about Jyoti Kamal

Jyoti Kamal has now seen the constant swing of human enterprise and the shifting mosaic of human behavior as a journalist for over 11 years. From print media to electronic media its been a journey seeking answers to an ever increasing number of questions and the quest remains far from being anywhere near fulfilled. On this journey there have been countless incidents where journalism has snapped eyes open wide. From being part of the academic environment at MICA to the beginning of professional journalism with The Times of India, moving on to The Indian Express and then the launch of The Economic Times in Chandigarh and on to the diverse platforms of Network 18 and being a part of the IBN launch team, exposure to information mediation has been intense. Jyoti Kamal is Chief of Bureau at Chandigarh and reports from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh for the Network. He lives in the wonderful city of Chandigarh with his wife Shiv and son Atharv.


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