Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Trouble continues for Iranian President.

The President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has constantly been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. He had earlier been accused of high subsidies on fuel and immense domestic pressure. International sanctions have also dealt a heavy blow to the country’s economy.

                                                                    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

A nuclear scientist was killed on 29 November in Tehran by ‘terrorists’. The scientist killed has been named as Majid Shahriari. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused "Western governments" and Israel of the killing.

President Ahmadinejad said, some of the centrifuges used in its uranium enrichment programme were sabotaged, raising suspicions that they were targeted by the Stuxnet computer worm. Experts say the worm, which Iran said in September had attacked its computers, has been specially configured to damage motors commonly used in uranium-enrichment centrifuges by sending them spinning out of control. The computer bug is a form of customized code, written to attack a precise target. The President accused Israel and the West. The President is known to blame Israel and the West for any incident that occurs in the country and this accusation comes as no surprise.

                                     Ahmadinejad in The Tehran Nuclear Power Plant.
On 1 December, Iran declared a two-day public holiday in Tehran due to air pollution - the second such shutdown in a week. Iran’s population has increased considerably during the last few years and so has the number of cars. Most of the cars are old and therefore generate a lot of smoke. Iranian health experts say that thousands of deaths every year are caused by heart attacks and respiratory illnesses brought on by smog. This is a serious cause for concern for Ahmadinejad.

The same day Iran witnessed the execution of the mistress of a prominent footballer for the 2002 murder of his wife. Shahla Jahed, 40, was hanged in Tehran for stabbing to death the wife of 1980s football star Nasser Mohammadkhani, the woman's lawyer told Irna news agency. International human rights groups had campaigned for her release since she was jailed more than eight years ago. The Council of Europe said the execution showed that Iran's government had "little respect for human rights".

In Iran, lack of respect for human rights is reflected in the form of harsh punishments and executions are part of everyday life. The government of Iran is criticized for punishments such as torture, rape, and killing of political prisoners. Under the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s human rights record "has deteriorated markedly" according to the group Human Rights Watch.

       Ahmadinejad with The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
The latest round of disclosures by WikiLeaks has also bought the Iranian president under the scanner. US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said they underline the broader world's concern about Iran's nuclear program. "Any of the comments that are being reported on, allegedly from the cables confirm the fact that Iran poses a very serious threat in the eyes of many of her neighbours and a serious concern far beyond her region." Ahmadinejad dismissed the WikiLeaks documents as "worthless" and "mischief" which he insisted would not affect Tehran's relations with its Arab neighbours.

Ahmadinejad is walking a tightrope, surrounded by mammoth problems. He can continue to stay in power till he has the support of The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. He is not a popular president but Iran is not exactly in a position to elect another one right now.

Fiercely Outspoken - Arundhati Roy.

Arundhati Roy is an Indian writer-activist who deals with issues related to social justice and economic inequality. She won the prestigious Booker Prize in 1997, for her novel ‘God of Small Things’. She has however, been controversy’s favourite child for her outrageous remarks on a variety of issues.

                                                                      Arundhati Roy

In an interview with Times of India published in August 2008, Arundhati Roy expressed her support for the independence of Kashmir from India. She was criticized by Indian National Congress (INC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for her remarks. She responded by saying, “When I was in Kashmir.. what broke my heart on the street of Srinagar was when people say "Nanga Bhukha Hindustan, Jaan se Pyara Pakistan" (India is naked and hungry yet we adore Pakistan). The situation in Kashmir has been volatile since 1989 and the issue cannot be solved till one side (either India or Pakistan) decides to give up. Arundhati Roy feels for the people in Kashmir and wants their ‘azadi’ (freedom). This was reflected in her statements when she said “You have to look beyond stone pelting and how the state is using people. ...You have to know your enemy and you have to be able to respond by aligning tactically, intelligently, locally or internationally.”

Arundhati Roy visited Kashmir in October 2010 for a seminar and re- iterated these sentiments along with Geelani. There was widespread discontent in the country regarding her statements. There were demands that she be charged on grounds of sedition. However this did not happen. She reacted by saying, “Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds.” She believes that what ordinary citizens face everyday in Kashmir is nothing less than torture. Through her statements she echoed the demand for ‘azadi’ (freedom) that every individual in Kashmir wants. It is the unspoken truth that she bought to the forefront.

                                                              Arundhati Roy With Geelani

Roy has criticized Government's armed actions against the Naxalite-Maoist insurgents in India, calling it "war on the poorest people in the country". According to her, the Government has "abdicated its responsibility to the people. This statement sparked yet another controversy. In other statements, she has described Naxalites as "patriot of a kind" who are "fighting to implement the Constitution, (while) the government is vandalizing it".

Arundhati Roy has been accused of romanticizing Naxalism. Her heart bleeds if a Naxalite dies but when State Officials and innocent civilians are killed; she terms the Maoists as ‘Gandhians with Guns’. ‘If the tribals have taken up arms, they have done so because a government which has given them nothing but violence and neglect now wants to snatch away the last thing they have—their land.” The government hasn’t tried to negotiate with the Maoists and even when it has, the effort has proved to be futile. Roy is standing at the crossroads of a very complex problem which will only get solved when the Government and the Maoists decide to resolve it. Roy’s hysteria and glorification of the Maoists will not provide solutions.

                                                      Arundhati Roy with The Maoists.

India is a democracy, where we have freedom of expression but Roy decides to take on the role of a moral police and tries to offer solutions to problems that are much more complex than they look at the outset. Manu Joseph in Open magazine describes Arundhati Roy in an article has said, “She is the creation of the very system she wants to dismantle; she is the anomaly that completes the system.”