EDITOR’S NOTE: I visited Sri Lanka as my very first of 10 countries during a 6 month world tour in 2012.
It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. In light of the horrible attacks on Sri Lanka today, I want to remind the world what a great place with great people this is, despite the senseless violence you hear about. Tragically, one of the bomb blasts targeted a hotel many friends and I stayed in and thoroughly enjoyed in Colombo, the Cinnamon Grand. We can hope the cowards who perpetrated this horror will be brought to justice soon.
I would like to dedicate this blog entry to my pal Krishna and his new bride Neesha, to the extent that one can dedicate a blog entry to anyone. The fabulous wedding hosted by the couple and their families in Colombo was four days of joyous celebration for a big group of us college buddies and spouses from abroad, and this mini-reunion was the first bookend of my 2012 tour. For more than 10 years I had vowed to make it to Colombo to witness Krish getting betrothed whenever it might happen. As floor mates, roommates, or housemates, through four years in college we were never very far apart- generally with him barely talking, and me talking too much (shocking). I wouldn’t have missed this important moment.
I touched down in the capital city of Colombo (more big town than small city) on January 25th and was pleasantly surprised to find many differences from the urban India I know. The contrast in temperature was overwhelming- in New York there was heavy snow on the ground as the plane took off from JFK, and Colombo was sunny and low 90’s- a body-shocking 60 degree swing. I was expecting to find a mini-India vibe with similar landscapes, food, and culture but in fact Sri Lanka is unlike anywhere else in South Asia. The people are thoroughly laid-back in the classic island sense, which is good when it comes to relaxing near the beach, but not so good if you are trying to get through immigration at the international airport and the requisite duty officer is sleeping at his desk (true story). Along the road from the airport to the city visitors can observe large Buddha statues, colorful Jesus statues, and Hindu shrines all intermingled in the suburban centers- which were an excellent sign of religious and ethnic tolerance. After two decades of brutal civil war only just ended in recent memory between the Tamil Tiger separatists and the Singhalese-majority government, after blood-curdling atrocities committed by both sides over many years, I was glad to see numerous outward signs of harmony in Colombo, Kandy (the country’s second city), and some of the rural areas that I visited.
There is much positive to say about the Ceylonese folks. Commerce seems to be moving along, tourism is growing rapidly now that it’s safer to travel the small country’s various parts, plenty of new infrastructure construction is underway, and on a related note foreign powers such as China and Malaysia appear to be investing heavily here. Global NGOs have substantial operations performing good work. I was surprised at how clean and organized Colombo was, how nobody was urinating on the streets, how white foreigners weren’t being ogled by everyone as they would be in India. Well-maintained gardens and roads spread through the town. I did not see much of the Sri Lankan beaches but my understanding is that they are comparable in quality to other Asian destinations with the benefit of lower cost for holidays.
To follow the larger theme we’re finding throughout Asia, Sri Lanka is clearly going someplace, forging ahead for the better especially in urban centers, where a thriving middle class is apparent and people are starting to enjoy a higher standard of living, as evidenced by shopping malls, theaters, electronic equipment stores, and fast-food restaurants being frequented by a burgeoning demographic profile. Whether this lifestyle and modernity in general will seep into the heartlands and lift up the rural poor is still an open question, like it is for India, China, and others. I am not so sure and the local elites I spoke with were not definitive, either. The next question is whether Western culture and the local culture can coexist harmoniously- a dilemma for all of Asia.
In Colombo, Team Georgetown stayed at a nice resort called the Cinnamon Grand. While we took advantage of the standard amenities- gym, spa, pool, tennis courts, shopping center, and poolside bar- for me the hotel’s food was most memorable. On the first day I reached the hotel very early in the morning, well before sunrise, and was on my own for a while. When the elaborate breakfast buffet opened up at Taprobane, the in-house Sri Lankan restaurant, I was floored. Here was the bright sun rising over the resort’s shiny goldfish-laden lagoon. What commenced next was a non-stop tour of food consumption featuring both Western and Eastern breakfast treats: an omelet made to order with extra chilies, string hoppers, hoppers, three different kinds of spicy and delicious sambals, sambar, and chicken curry. A wide selection of breads, pastries, and fruit were sampled along with a cup or two of very tasty coffee. The meal was awesome in every respect except one: I was quite sad to find my belly was filling up and there was no more room to eat more breakfast morsels. The heart was saying yes, but the stomach was saying no! There were, however, four more mornings of breakfast buffet to have, these times with company.
But that was nothing. At a different part of the hotel lies the restaurant Lagoon, where several of us agreed we had found that most precious of edible treasures, literally the best seafood I’ve ever eaten anywhere. I can happily say this without an ounce of exaggeration. Customers come by, pick the specific fish, prawns, lobster, squid, or crab they want to eat from the front counter, all incredibly fresh or still alive, and then pick the type of preparation and sauce they prefer. The chefs prepare each item to order right then behind the dining area. Recommendations are given on request, and after sampling 7 or 8 different dishes over two different evenings, every single one divinely fresh, delicate and perfectly seasoned, several of us came to the consensus about what a highlight this place was. Beer and lobster thermidor, dude!
Among the more interesting things I did in Colombo away from the wedding was to shadow my friend who works at an American money management firm as he went to a series of meetings with local company CEOs and CFOs for the better part of a day. At each meeting all of the classic problems with doing business in South Asian countries became painfully apparent: high levels of political meddling in industry by certain individuals, opacity, and the strange propensity for companies to conglomerate into half a dozen unrelated industries under one corporate umbrella. For example, a beverage bottling business might also invest in real estate, telecommunications, and agriculture. The executives were very nice, but also exceedingly casual; none of the meetings started on time, and the staff at the securities firm that set up the meetings often had no idea which room we were supposed to go in, resulting in unexpectedly long tours of buildings. While the war is over, tourism booms and the economic outlook is looking up, without naming names I would suspect that overall corporate management will need to reach for higher standards before they can expect to become world-beaters.
The wedding ceremonies were lively, colorful, loud, and plenty of fun and in that they are similar to weddings in India. The main wedding event was on Saturday during the day at a large Hindu temple in Colombo. Other receptions and parties, all with grand meals served, took place on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday to make it a solid four day affair.
The day I reached, unable to fall sleep due to jet lag, I jumped right into things. As I arrived on Wednesday, I got the chance to spend some quality time at Krishna’s family home during the day, and it was a bustling hive of activity. Workers, maids, delivery people, and numerous relatives were busily moving in and out of the house. I watched Krish make at least 20 phone calls to go over logistics for events and guests traveling from around the world. It was quite hectic, but this surreal tableau was all part of the experience for me, as I was still trying to get over the fact I had been trudging in dirty snow just the day before.
Day one ended with an organized dance practice as I was inserted into a performance by Krishna’s school friends and cousins representing the boys’ side in a friendly competition at the cocktail party scheduled the next day. Representing your side in song and dance is taken seriously in Hindu weddings, so I was putting my all into it, while offering the group some comic relief during practice as well. And of course, we got rave reviews.
The next four days were a blur of activity- wedding functions, meeting up with old friends, making new ones, eating lots of food, and exploring different corners of Colombo. Fancy lunches, high tea, doubles tennis, swimming, and conversations about careers, relationships, and parenthood abounded. The final event was the Sunday night reception, which featured literally the best bharatanatyam performance I’ve ever seen, with India’s leading mother and daughter dancing duo uniquely fused with local Sri Lankan musicians holding a lively drum beat. With a former President and an ex-Prime Minister of Sri Lanka along with a smattering of High Commissioners in attendance, Sri Lankan Special Forces (see left) were standing guard at the Hilton to prevent an international incident.
After Colombo, the newlyweds and a few others of us joined up at Nuwara Eliya, the world-famous tea estates at the top of some steep hills and about an intensely curvy and climbing 6 hour drive from the capital. The altitude brought some very welcome cool weather and mist. We stayed at a beautiful hill resort called the Heritance Tea Factory, which was in fact a tea processing facility operated by the British for many decades of colonial rule. Almost all of the original architecture and machinery were kept intact in this fascinating building, and if you closed your eyes for a minute it felt like being transported back to the 1800’s during the height of the British Raj.
The tea estates make up just about the entire local economy of the region, with hundreds of workers plying the trade of growing, picking, and processing fine teas for the rest of the world to wake up to. The views of the surrounding hills, lakes, and water bodies are downright breathtaking. Thousands of rows of tea plants and other green vegetation at various heights stretch as far as the eye can see, dotted with women in colorful saris working the land. On the first morning at the estate, a couple of us went on a brisk guided trek through the estates and forestry. We visited a local village to see how the locals lived, while learning about the many species of birds, trees and plants that call this place home.
During the trek I also participated in an engaging political discussion with an elderly British gentleman, a fellow traveler who had traversed the length and breadth of America for work over many years. He has observed town after town in the heartland fall into decay from an outsider’s point of view, and we lamented the current state of affairs in Western civilization. From the heights of the Nuwara Eliya tea estates, we both thoroughly denounced the Tea Party, which brought home that educated people around the world were monitoring the phenomenon with great concern just as many Americans are. He had several memorable quotes: “After World War II during reconstruction: that was your country’s best time, I think,” he said earnestly, which made me rather proud to be American. And at the end, “Isn’t it nice how two people of different ages and from different places can share the same ideas?” Agreed.
On the way back to Colombo, from where I’d fly to Thailand, we stopped for several hours in Kandy, the second city with a sweet name, and at one point the capital of kingdoms of yore. Kandy is famous for the most important Buddha temple in Sri Lanka, and allegedly the home of Buddha’s very tooth. Inside the temple is an illustrated account of how that tooth came to be there- and the great hardships taken on by Buddhist devotees to move the tooth from place to place facing massive obstacles. This temple housed the finest collection of buddha statues and artwork I have ever seen- including gold, marble, precious gems and stones, ceramics, and other materials. Kandy was worth visiting just for this, and it was a good halt in the road trip for lunch as well.
There is much else to do in Sri Lanka, but I only had a week. I’ve heard about the amazing beaches, the ruins of ancient civilizations up north, museums, and other trappings of the British Raj that I missed on this trip. One thing is for certain: I will be back. For now I’m satisfied with having come away with the best bharatanatyam performance and best seafood meal of my life within a week.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
Editor’s Note: This piece was written in 2012 when WikiLeaks and Julian Assange first became famous. Now that Assange has finally been arrested after all these years, I thought it was worth pulling this up now as a primer. This is all a bit complicated and doesn’t fit a neat narrative, including a left/right one…
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
With the recent document dump by the website Wikileaks.org, 25,000 State Department cables that had been previously classified were released into the public domain in one fell swoop. As with most controversial political issues of the day, pundits and public leaders around the world came out by the thousands to comment on this unprecedented event. The latest episode came on the heals of the previous big Wikileaks story: the release of thousands of secret documents regarding the conduct of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, including a military video of a tragic killing in an Iraqi neighborhood by American troops from an Apache helicopter. As with the embassy cables, the war diaries run the gamut from the mundane, which is mostly the case, to quite serious and disturbing. I recommend for all of you to read the fascinating New Yorker account of how this came to pass.
The Wikileaks exposures of sensitive government documents that were not meant for public consumption represent societal conundrums that are yet to be judged in either a court of law, or of public opinion. Is Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a hero, a whistle blower, a criminal, or a terrorist? Is he a force for good or evil? He has been called all of these things. And in an exceedingly rare case of a person entering the world stage in so dramatic and important a way, he cannot be pigeonholed as any one of these. This would be a gross and unjust oversimplification. For Mr. Assange, ladies and gentlemen, is all of these things at once- defying definitions and straining our moral assumptions.
Whatever the outcome of all this, and whatever your opinion of it might be, Wikileaks has helped alter the course of human history by catalyzing a form of rogue journalism that is impossible for governments to prevent or stop. For a change we have someone throwing caution to the wind instead of erring on the side of caution.
Technology has made it possible to run your website piecemeal on servers all over the world in countries with varying laws about censorship and cyber security. Once Wikileaks documents are published on the web, they cannot be easily taken down, and will never disappear from the public eye once documents have gone viral. The documents are already out there, and the backups of the backups have backups. Finances and operations are decentralized and run by shadowy members around the globe. What’s been done can never be undone. This is the largest shift from how secrets were stolen before- a tape, a person, a room, a computer, a camera, or a notebook with sensitive information can be stolen or destroyed even if there are multiples. Document dumps onto the web cannot.
So what now? The future of the website or the copycat movement it will spawn are hard to fathom. We can only conjecture on what has already happened. It’s time for the good, the bad, and the… highly entertaining.
No Page-Turner. After skimming the site and reading numerous accounts of the supposedly juiciest tidbits that Wikileaks has published, I was disappointed by the lack of truly interesting documents. Far from earth-shattering, most exposed documents describe routine matters and few surprises. So diplomats send cables about Libya’s dictator traveling around with a “voluptuous blonde” nurse, or Putin likes to get drunk with Berlusconi? Less interesting than a single page of any Nelson DeMille novel. I was actually pleased to see that diplomats played hardball when trying to convince foreign countries to accept Guantanamo detainees- offering aid here and a meeting with Obama there. That’s awesome- that’s what they’re supposed to be doing, it’s what we pay them for! Reading any given cable to the extent it’s worth it, is less a surprise than an affirmation that many at State were pushing US interests hard. Good.
Public Service?. Government agencies got a horrific wakeup call that was desperately needed- and of little surprise to most astute observers. For this reason, and the fact that little if anything truly dangerous leaked out yet, Americans should be highly grateful to Wikileaks. If the US Army or the State Department could allow disgruntled runts to simply waltz out of the office with thousands of sensitive documents capable of causing such an international stir, security measures are woefully lacking. There are far too many people with high-level clearances, too many sensitive documents floating around, and too little control of the flow of information we are told is so goddam critical to national security. If this stuff was so critical, it should have been guarded far more jealously. The current situation is unacceptable. President Obama should call an immediate review of US government agencies’ information security practices. Governors and Mayors across the nation need to do the same. This isn’t just for the Pentagon or State; other agencies one wouldn’t usually expect to need worry about such as the Department of Agriculture, Social Security Administration, or the state DMV all harbor documents we wouldn’t want in the wrong hands and certainly not out in public.
The Danger Zone. This brings us to why Wikileaks is potentially a big threat. It demonstrates how a small group of determined individuals seeking to perform chaos can probably manage to do some serious harm, using a small network of inside informants and tech savvy hackers in key places. They could release documents that could get people killed if terrorists or foreign governments got a hold of them. This in itself should worry us. Although there is something fair and even democratic in the end product being seen by website visitors- government documents in their original form for one to judge for himself or herself, something traditional journalism does not give us- Wikileaks self-selects what documents get released and when. The site decides on the sources to use, and they are not made public. However socially responsible their goals may be, and however noble a goal it is to investigate how taxpayer money is really being spent, it is dangerous to wield this power to decide who and what makes the cut. You cannot shine a light from a dark place over a long period of time. It carries the type of potential for abuse of power that Wikileaks is supposed to be against.
Should it be Shut? There is much talk of shutting down the site, arresting its principals, and making an example of them. Clearly a number of U.S. laws have been broken regarding release of classified information. However, Assange and most of his team are not U.S. citizens, and in fact many of them are not known. The information was leaked from the inside of government first, and in the case of State it’s not clear which runt(s) were responsible. While the Wikileaks team could be considered accomplices to the initial crimes of stealing, the unique nature of what the website has done so far will never be stopped. In fact, imprisoning Assange could make him a sort of martyr, which could be exactly what he wants in order to accelerate the movement exponentially.
Spreading Democracy? Although the American media is largely missing this point, closed and corrupt governments such as those in China, Russia, North Korea, Burma, and Iran are much less concerned with what US diplomats are saying about them than what Wikileaks could say about them. In this sense, Wikileaks has done Western governments and people the most important service of all. Autocrats trying to keep things close to the vest are probably pretty worried right now.
At its best, Wikileaks could expose things to the global public that journalists, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement cannot or are unable to. It could even help bring down or alter regimes more easily than a superpower can. If it stays open, I hope Wikileaks does so. And if a byproduct of this is some more accountability at home, then so be it. Those who follow the rules generally have less to worry about.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
Those of us familiar with Indian television shows are accustomed to a certain look and feel. In much of it there is something missing, if you are spoiled by Hollywood standards. Rarely will you find the elusive combination of high-quality screenwriting, acting, direction, editing, lighting and film technology to call an Indian TV series world-class. In an interview Bollywood actor Prashantt Guptha told me that screenwriting in India is the weakest link in the chain.
This is especially disappointing because in so many ways, India is a more interesting setting for film than most places in the world. With cultural, religious, ethnic, and breathtaking landscape diversity both rural and urban, the ancient and ultramodern juxtaposed bizarrely, and humans and their problems literally overflowing onto the streets with fantastic food everywhere. The music and the clothes are as intense as the food. Add a potent crush of political and societal issues such as #MeToo and gang rape always in the background, and India is ripe for a global television audience. Netflix’s Delhi Crime is a must-watch television drama based on true events, that exhibits the awesome potential of mating Western technology and expertise with Indian artistes and an Indian city as itself the main character in the show.
I was not expecting much from Delhi Crime when I began watching it- expecting some hackneyed themes from the Indian true crime police procedural, especially because Bollywood has done tons and tons of police film. Yet Delhi Crime is a true masterpiece and stands not as a great Indian show, but a great show period. Too many times I have seen Indian actors mailing it in while the story drags on and broods on its own wannabe profundity- such as Netflix’s first Indian offering, the less watchable Sacred Games, which wasted the talents of a number of fine actors. I don’t even remember what this show was supposed to be about after watching most of the season with a now-crushed desire to review it on this site.
Delhi Crime is on the other hand hard to stop watching from beginning to end. It’s not just binge-worthy. It is the best Indian television I have ever seen. We start with a gruesome crime in the nation’s capital, much worse than just a run of the mill gang rape, with highly realistic and honest portrayals of the involved Delhi police officers and officials- heroism, incompetence, workaholism, corruption, warts, and all. The political overlords were not lionized or demonized. The show is much more raw than most Indian cinema with its escapism and desire to paint everything in black and white: the cop as either hero or devil, without nuance. In this the show reminded me favorably of HBO’s classic, The Wire: criminals and cops alike are shown as complex individuals with troubled but relatable personal lives and pasts. With the wide array of philosophical differences between the various characters, the show provides a competent bird’s eye view of the Nirbhaya case which stained India permanently. As the icing on the cake, the music is fitting, and the food looks so good at times I was salivating.
Shefali Shah acted so well in the lead role, I almost thought that she was the real life Delhi Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the investigation- in turns managing the team brilliantly and misfiring easy decisions. The bad guys were so greasy and disgusting, I thought they just may have pulled the real life villains out of prison to be on the show. The actress who played the victim Abhilasha Singh had a small but memorable stint. Overall, none of the acting was bad. This is just about a first for Indian TV in my experience.
There are only two facets I choose to criticize in the show. There are shockingly piss-poor translations between the spoken Hindi dialogue, the overdubs, and the subtitles. Secondly, the storyline of the DCP’s troubled daughter is trite, unnecessary, distracting and poorly executed.
Most of all, kudos to Canadian-American director and co-creator Richie Mehta. Let’s hope Netflix, Amazon, and other Western based studios will continue their deep dive into Indian film. There is much that is worth watching in modern India, a misunderstood rising superpower whose welfare has increasingly critical ramifications for the rest of the world. Put this one at the top of your queue, or better yet- turn it on now!
It’s about time that we updated this hallowed document that has formed the basis for laws, constitutions, and general morality for centuries. Clearly the original one is pointedly outdated. Drafted here are the new (Spray) Tan Commandments in modern America thanks to Pervert Orangutan. Now THIS is the roadmap for how you MAGA.
- Cheat on AND rape your first wife.
- Cheat on your second wife who you met while cheating on your first wife.
- Cheat on your third wife, especially during the childbirth of your son, with a porn star and Playboy bunny, then cover up and lie about the affairs with your mushroom shaped penis.
- Cheat on your taxes, take $415 million from Daddy, and tell your fans that he only gave you $1 million to explain how you lost it all.
- Create a charity and campaign for president just to embezzle even more money.
- Start a fake university and rob millions of dollars from poor people.
- Wherever possible, Grab Them by the Pu$$y.
- Rip off your contractors, hire illegal aliens, and have Daddy buy casino chips to keep your sinking casino afloat.
- Foment racism and white supremacy by claiming America’s first black president and last real president wasn’t born in America.
- Conspire with and aspire to join the league of dick taters.
Truth is stranger than fiction. If we were to write a movie about the Donald Trump criminal empire, one could not hope to do a better job of casting the film than with the real-life goons, perverts, traitors, gangsters, mercenaries, puppet masters, wife-beaters, drunks, pedophiles, fraudsters, shysters, hucksters, con men, hookers, porn stars, madams, gold-diggers, lowlifes, and yes, heroes of the true story.
Every single one of these people is out of central casting. They embody the spirit of this time so well. It would be a marvel to get all of these characters to play themselves. It’s just all so damn perfect exactly as is.
THE GODFATHER. In a virtual graveyard of losers, there is only one winner standing, grinning and shirtless in all this mess, and that is Vladimir Putin. The diabolical puppet master played Obama, Hillary, Donald Trump, the American people, and all the rest of us for fools. Successfully. Donald Trump and his criminal family enterprise will end up going down, yet Putin will remain standing when this is all over, more powerful than before. I’m a bit ashamed to admit I admire the evil genius of this man, who pulled all the strings just so perfectly. Americans will forever disagree on what happened in 2016, and hate each other over it, which is exactly what Putin wanted. Christ, American families have fallen apart over 2016! He wanted to be caught and even left digital footprints on purpose, according to the most intelligent narratives out of the CIA. Well done, Vlad the Impaler!
THE DESERT KINGDOM BUTCHER. A correction is in order. There is a second winner, on Vlad’s coat tails. Saudi Arabia is a fascinating place where I spent some of the best years of my life in childhood. The royal family has for decades managed to ingratiate themselves in the halls of American power, with administrations of both parties, turning off and on the gushing spigots of oil, money, blood, and oil blood money. The brash young Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) not only purged his own royal family, Shiite clerics, and journalists such as American resident Jamal Khashoggi of the Washington Post; America blessed these actions because he bought and paid for the Trump family, especially Jared Kushner. Not only does the White House remain in omerta over the royal rogue’s butchery; they have amazingly KNOWN ABOUT and SUPPORTED MBS hijinks. How far America has fallen to become a doormat for the mud and blood on the bottom of dictators’ shoes!
THE LAST BOY SCOUT. If you choose to believe in God and that God cares about the fate of America, look no further for evidence- as evidence is appropriately the name of the game in 2019. There is a reason that a portrait of the courageous war hero and law enforcement polymath Robert Mueller hangs on the wall of my office about three feet from my heart during business hours. The slayer of Enron and the Mafia, the guarantor of the Constitution, and the protector of law and order is manifest in one man. Every day in my executive government career I strive to reach the integrity, purpose, discipline, good works, public service, and iron will of the most important man in US government. Against astounding odds and the power of the White House and an entire political party apparatus obstructing him day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, this modern day stoic warrior-poet has lifted the nation’s soul every day toward our better angels. Without uttering a single word. Letting his actions do the talking. With a singularly American hero like Mueller stalking the halls of Washington, embattled in the most important war of our lifetimes, America will have many great days to yet come!
THE BLOND BOMBSHELL. I am a huge fan of Stormy Daniels. Not her “work” in the area of pornography- she is honestly not my type at all- but her legal efforts with Michael Avenatti to help unravel the Cohen-presidential election mischief. Laws were broken, lives were changed, and there must be consequences to pay. Like Mueller, Stormy will come to be seen by history as a hero, though she did sleep with #FatNixon right after his wife gave birth. On that front I assign more blame to him than her- she did it to get on his reality TV show, which is a lie he dangled in front of her. Shocking, this man lies! Including about this affair.
BELTWAY BARBIE BAGHDAD BOB. They say the apple does not fall far from the tree. In the case of Sarah Colonel Huckabilly Sanders, she has inherited all of the aw-shucks bible-humping piss and vinegar of her Daddy, paired with a conscience-free ability to lie to the American people every single day with a straight face. Baghdad Bob himself would be so proud of this dictator’s mouthpiece. I am a mere mortal, with human emotions I cannot deny to my dear reader. I shall drink and dance and revel and debauch myself when this particular traitor goes down!
BAGHDAD BOB BELTWAY BARBIE. Not to be confused with Colonel Sanders, sister-in-crime Kellyanne Conway is a buffoonish cartoon villain straight out of a Disney movie. I have no doubt she goes home at night and slowly burns kittens and puppies in her fireplace. The only thing she has done right is marry a man with a conscience. The ease with which she lies and cheats when presented with inconvenient truths is astounding. No wonder this is the evil woman who coined “alternative facts”!
THE BROKE-ASS FIXER. Once in a while I reflect upon whether to feel sorry for Michael Cohen, Trump’s lead goon on a team full of goons. As Trump’s lawyer and fixer, the man was asked to do some nasty things, which he is at least man enough to own up to. Finally he is telling the truth to the American people about his dirty deeds, done dirt cheap. Yes, this tragic figure is going to jail. This guy looks the part, acts the part, and sounds the part of a New York shylock. No, I don’t feel sorry for you after all you schmuck!
THE EASTERN EUROPEAN FEMBOT. La Femme Melania is straight out of central casting. She escaped from the wrong side of the Iron Curtain only to enable fascist dictatorship here in America. One cannot find a more perfect fit upon scouring this earth. The only thing you need to know about her is that she CHOSE to marry the clown-ostensibly without a gun to her head, but who knows with this crowd. She is the perfect combination of a cynical gold-digger who desperately wants to be seen as a great person, with zero talent. Her means are unconventional at best: she uses her normally idle hands to troll others. Plagiarizing Michelle Obama and throwing her staffer under the bus was her grand introduction to America. Remember “Be Best?” So is she trolling all of us? Trolling her husband? Or “I Don’t Care Do U?” Let me tell you what I don’t care about. I don’t care who she is trolling- it needs to end!
HITLER YOUTH IN A BOTTLE. This just may be the best one of all. Who knew that 2019 America could manufacture such a model? What can possibly be said about Stephen Miller that already hasn’t been? The White House’s resident Neo-Nazi since the departure of Bannon has been plugging away in the bowels of the White House, concocting one racist policy after the other in exchange for a few pats on the head by the boss periodically. Muslim Ban, the Wall, and various other creepy fascist fantasies have been authored in the dark mind of Miller. America can only hope that these ideas will be thrown into the dustbin of history where they belong!
McTURTLENECK. One of the most depressing and disappointing developments of the #PervertOrangutan era is learning that America could descend into dictatorship with the willing assistance of a huge US political party apparatus. The entire GOP just folded in 2016 even as the establishment was railroaded personally and professionally by an authoritarian movement with white male supremacist fantasy at its very core. Mitch, Paul Ryan, and their minions bent over and took it, Rubles, Riyals, and all in order to stay in power, even if staying in power meant turning America into a Russian vassal state!
THE WORST FIRST FAMILY IN US HISTORY. Melanie, as evil as she is, does not even qualify as the worst member of the criminal family enterprise. She doesn’t sip America’s blood off her silver spoon in Trump Tower the way the Trump kids do.
Don, Jr. welcomed Russian help in winning the election with open arms just as his dad was inviting Russia to hack Hillary. Completely lacking a moral center, his only lament from the affair, which blew up this week, is that the Russians brought no dirt on Hillary to the fateful meeting after all following promises of the same. Like Donald, this man is uglier than he thinks he is, a compulsive liar, a spoiled brat, a tool, and a fool. Perfect material for the president’s namesake!
Ivanka plays this dirty game of pretending to care enough about climate change or women’s issues to take away five minutes from her main life’s work, selling third-rate sweatshop slave made apparel at astronomical prices, to talk about these political issues in Vogue magazine. Only for us to find she has no effect on policy whatsoever as her dad proceeds rapaciously to quicken environmental destruction and dismantle women’s health programs. Ivanka is a poorly made up cover front, smiling and dolling up for the magazines and fooling nobody on the right side of things.
None of this is Ivanka’s worst. She brought in yet another prince of darkness, as if there weren’t enough of those little Fauntleroys sitting around already, in the creepy form of her half-baked husband, Jared Kushner. Shockingly, he might be more incompetent and entitled than his siblings-in-law. He repeatedly lies about everything he does, including on national security paperwork. Barely qualified to run a corner ice cream store, the failed real estate magnate-scion wannabe has been given widespread responsibilities encompassing many aspects of domestic and foreign policy, for which he shows zero aptitude or original thought beyond family loyalty. It is a brazen nepotism play that is highly unethical, if barely legal.
Then we have Eric Trump, the wannabe tough guy big game hunter, who uses charity fundraising as a way to make more money for the Trump organization. This is a perfect metaphor for all the Trumps and how they use the organization for self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement. There was one area where the family lacked any clout, the political, and they descended on the carcass of the Republican party like a pack of hyenas. The rest is history! Easily the worst first family ever!
Pervert Orangutan. Could a Hollywood scriptwriter ever come up with this plot and this antagonist? The answer is, not a chance in the world. None of us could possibly have this much imagination. We are at apex and epitome territory. Racist. Sexist. Hooligan. Anti-immigrant. Sexual predator. Con man. Sociopathic liar. Conscience-less and morals-free. Cheater- on business contracts, on marriages, in elections, in debates, and of any type of rule, law, or regulation. With this man, my friends, the presidency has hit true rock bottom. If we go any lower, we will cease to exist as a democracy!
There are so many others. Perhaps we can do a Part 2 in time.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
One of the worst aspects of the skirmishes going on between India and Pakistan over the last few days has been the severely ugly rhetoric in the media and especially on social media, where commentators and hacks choose to denigrate all of the people of the other country with a broad brush while thumping chests in misplaced nationalism.
Don’t buy the bullshit. As one of the few people on this Earth who has spent time in both Pakistan and India, I can assure you that the common people are strikingly similar to each other. It is the politicians, journalists, and religious figures of each nation- a microscopic minority- who ruin it for the rest of us with their hate and insecurity.
Instead of that noise, focus on this beautiful Pakistani music video, a Coke Studio production which brings together Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad for a gripping classical/pop fusion song that belongs to all humanity and is free on YouTube. I will never forget the day I heard this in Karachi in my friends’ car near the Mazar e Quaid where Jinnah himself lies- and my friend’s wife kindly bought me a copy of the album immediately. Appropriately, Kangna is about a missing bracelet and a poetic and emotional search for it- similar to, say, an Indian Air Force pilot who has thankfully been both lost and found and represents what we hope is a de-escalation of hostilities forever.
Mahanth is Editor of usindiamonitor
Before 2019 the only serious US presidential hopefuls of Indian ancestry in history were unimpressive politicians whose main purpose in life was to hope and pray that you forget that they are even Indian-Americans: Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley. You can read my fascinating opinions about these drawlin’ Dixieland Republicans Bobby here and Nikki here. Those brown folk failed pretty miserably and unceremoniously on the national stage and deservedly so.
Along comes California Senator Kamala Harris, the next viable candidate for President of the United States. Half-Indian and half-black- a cocktail I like to call “Blindian”- Kamala is largely considered by the mainstream media to be black, like Barack Obama, despite an Indian mom who carried her in the womb for 9 months and seems to have instilled many values in her daughter. Kamala has decided to join the oppressively crowded 2020 race, which promises to feature the most Democratic primary candidates in history. No clear frontrunner has emerged so far, and numerous others expect to throw their hats into the already crowded ring soon.
She certainly isn’t the only minority in the field- we have heard announcements from Joaquin Castro and Corey Booker. Kamala isn’t the only woman either, as Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and more are in the game. She also isn’t the best known, or the most liberal- Bernie and Elizabeth got her beat on both those counts. She’s youngish, but not the youngest or most youthful. Like many Democrats, usindiamonitor is struggling to decide who to root for this time around- an unprecedented personal phenomenon. I’ve ALWAYS known who I wanted to win in any given presidential race since 1988. Perhaps one factor matters more than any other in 2020 for me and millions of other voters: can the candidate knock Trump far, far out of the White House if he’s still eating cheeseburgers and tweeting in it? We just may need to wait until the debates begin to suss out the question of electability- and hope the left coalesces in unity around the brawler who emerges from the primary alive.
It’s very early, but Kamala just may be that person who survives the gauntlet. I am not firmly on the Kamala Harris Express, but I’m hanging onto the side out the door, like so many commuter train passengers in India. That’s more than I can say for any other candidate. Here’s why.
Electability. At this time it’s a most dangerous game to guess at how voters will act in 2020. In fact, I often lament the sheer length of presidential campaigns that waste our time, money, and attention for over 2 years each cycle- a truly barbarian practice for both candidates and citizenry, when just 3 months would suffice as in most civilized nations. But Americans live (and die) for the horse race, hardly caring to learn about which candidate favors what policies. Many a meal ticket are stamped over these months too in the nests of political operatives, pollsters, journalists like yours truly, hookers, and event managers to name a few. To this atmosphere of Idiocracy reality, Kamala brings a strong combination of intelligence, calm demeanor, attractiveness, elocution skills, optimism, energy, and charisma to excite voters. We have already established she isn’t the candidate who stands out for her race, youth, leftist credentials, name recognition, or gender. She isn’t the frontrunner for big money donors or establishment Democrat support. She isn’t the Senator who has been on the forefront or spotlight in the vanguards of battle. I also believe that she truly fumbled during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, inflicting no lasting damage on the drunken brute. But if you line her up on each criteria and add up the scores, she would do rather well indeed.
Policy. The first Indian-American Senator in US history grew up in the prosecutorial ranks, eventually climbing up to the role of San Francisco Attorney General and California Attorney General. It’s appropriate that the liberal bastion state and HQ of the Resistance produced Kamala Harris.
The chief criticisms of her record on the left come from her tough reputation for putting criminals away for long periods of time- or “jamming them up” in prosecutors’ parlance. As per the Kamala Harris official website:
Over the course of her nearly two terms in office, Kamala won a $25-billion settlement for California homeowners hit by the foreclosure crisis, defended California’s landmark climate change law, protected the Affordable Care Act, helped win marriage equality for all Californians, and prosecuted transnational gangs that trafficked in guns, drugs, and human beings.
We can add voting rights, childcare expansion, and raising wages to the progressive list of her priorities. As far as bona fides go, that’s pretty good. She is strong on climate change, the existential threat of our time, and healthcare expansion. We have yet to see how well this will all play beyond California though.
Personal History. Like Obama in the 2008 election cycle, Harris is a first-term Senator with a thin record. This has its advantages and disadvantages. A light Senate resume makes it harder for opponents to pin her down and label her for positions taken, while policy wonks like Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown will rightly point to the national battles they have fought that Kamala hasn’t. Kamala doesn’t have as many scars, for better or worse.
Meanwhile, we will find out if Kamala’s status as a married woman will help her or even matter in the modern age. Corey Booker’s distinction as an unmarried bachelor would certainly have damaged his candidacy in any race up till 2016 under endless discussions of “family values,” whatever that means. Not having a spouse or kids should not disqualify a candidate, but voters seem to connect better with those who have an active family life that they can flaunt in magazine features.
In conclusion, the field is crowded and growing. Usindiamonitor does not claim unbridled excitement about any of the candidates yet. But if the election were held today, I’d pull the lever for Kamala Harris. She would make for a good president- measured, calm, capable, and progressive. Kamala represents the future, while many candidates are dug deep in their past. She’ll certainly be better than the current occupier of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and just maybe the campaign will prove her to be the best of the 2020 parade.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
Decency and integrity are two items which appear to be in short supply in modern America. There is no other way to comprehend how we have a GOP controlled Senate and a Fat Nixon in the White House, one who is far worse than the original Nixon who resigned from office in disgrace in 1974. Fortunately, I believe 2019 will be the year this charade of a shambolic government ends.
The rest of us who possess any modicum of decency and integrity have shown a great deal of disgust and dismay at our current predicament of having a president who is a crook entirely unfit for office. The man has damaged government institutions, raped the environment, grabbed the pussies, enriched himself off the office, emboldened violent lunatics and pea-brained racists, obstructed justice at every turn, damaged America’s standing in the world, ruined the institution of the presidency, and perhaps worst of all, cheated with our enemies to steal the 2016 election.
But mark my words: in a short span of time we will all be thanking our very stars for bringing us Fat Nixon. Bear with me here. Yes, America, we are facing an unprecedented stress test with democracy itself at stake here and around the world. But soon America will show the world, and Fat Nixon’s master Putin the stuff we are made of. There are positive consequences we aren’t thinking about enough yet. Here is why we should be grateful this mess happened:
This is What the Last Gasp of American White Male Supremacy Looks Like. I wrote about this in great detail before Pervert Orangutan won, but here is the gist of it: 2016 brought all of the racist termites in the log of America out into the light, so that we can see what we are dealing with, deal with it, and admit to ourselves how racist America really is- and has been throughout. This is the first step toward progress. Many, myself included, were fooling ourselves by thinking maybe, just maybe, the Obama presidency would usher in a post-racial world. We were optimistically idiotic.
Fortunately for us, we are at the apex of racist thought. Fat Nixon’s downfall will be devastating for the bad guys. As I wrote in 2016, “The white supremacist is today, instead of working to advance himself, educate himself, and acquire the requisite skills that will make him more competitive in the new global environment full of opportunity, watching Fox News and waiting for Donald Trump’s teeny little magic wand to make everything better for him. If Trump loses in November, at least the fantasy of these simple, uninformed people will come to an end for good, and the tandem of Trump and Clinton will have done us all a favor. If Trump wins, the fairy tale reverie will simply continue until the unfulfillable hopes of the white supremacist are much more cruelly dragged along and dashed into the ground. The reckoning comes either way.”
Women Rising: The Fat Nixon administration has turbocharged women to get involved in politics and gain political power. Just look at how women, many without rich donors, powerful families, or political experience wiped so many good old GOP boys off the map in November 2018. The 2018 class looks like Rush Limbo’s worst nightmare! Women of color. Women of different religions. Native women. Lesbian and transgender women. The current Congress represents America at a much more granular level than the presidential races, which for centuries depended on an outdated, nonsensical, and corrupt electoral college system and antiquated ideas such as superdelegates. There are more women in Congress than ever before. This is awesome news.
Many conservative Neanderthals lament the ascension of women toward power careers and political muscle. What is wrong with you people? Let’s do a quick survey of why women MUST be in the halls of American power:
- Women rape, molest, or sexually harass people less than men, including at the workplace
- Women get into bar fights less than men
- Women shoot and stab people less than men
- Women start less wars than men
- Women are less likely to be terrorists or Neo-Nazis than men
- Women are less likely to be addicted to alcohol or drugs than men
- Women are less likely to drink and drive than men
- Women are more likely to find solutions using empathy than men
- Women GIVE BIRTH, among the most difficult challenges faced by our species.
This isn’t just about the apex of power, such as in Congress. It’s about the soccer moms and grandmas and middle school girls who are knocking on doors to support political campaigns, and the Women’s Marches, and the housewives running for school board or County Treasurer for the first time. It’s about black women becoming judges in droves in Kentucky and Texas for the first time- shaping jurisprudence in those areas for decades to come.
The jewel in the good guys’ crown (and thorn in Fat Nixon’s side) is Nancy Pelosi, who I believe will become president by default in 2019 after Fat Nixon and his lunatic bible humping lapdog Pence are taken down. Sorry Hillary, Kamala, Tulsi and Elizabeth: Nancy will beat you all there without even running for it.
Minority Report. I mentioned a whole lot of diversity when it comes to women. But there’s diversity of all types on the up and up thanks to Fat Nixon. Comedians like Hasan Minhaj and Aziz Ansari, who are Indian Muslims, are thriving in the age of Pervert Orangutan, partly by beating the crap out of him with humor and raising awareness of their backgrounds as a mechanism to enlighten and entertain. Pro athletes such as LeBron James are way beyond woke right now, and using their influence to do good while epically taking down the president. They aren’t shying away from political conversations. We are seeing the Deep South, of all places, cultivate powerhouse black politicians like Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams in towns where Scarlett O’Hara’s ghost still roams from ball to ball with her house slaves in tow. And someone like Kamala Harris, a most unlikely presidential hopeful, now seems like a top tier candidate as an antidote specifically to the historic trash heap of Fat Nixon.
The High School Revolution. High school kids are more woke than at any time in the last four decades. Some of them are putting down their Pokemon Go long enough to march in the thousands hand in hand with the Parkland students, who are my heroes. Young people are engaged and energized, and there is no question that they are animated by the corruption they see projected by Fat Nixon and his goons.
Of course, this cuts both ways. Dipshits like the smirking Nathan Phillips and his classless Covington High Kavanaughs seem to be feeling frisky these days with their boy in the White House too. But that’s better than the apathy that has defined generations of high school kids when it came to politics. Whether it’s for love or hate, the 16 year olds seem to have a fire lit under them.
Cities and States Step to the Plate. I say this more as a citizen than as a City government official: the resistance has resulted in awesome leadership by mayors and governors, and the cities and states they represent. Look at how New York state shut down the corrupt Trump Foundation and is giving the Trump spawn’s finances a long-overdue colonoscopy. California state has created a blueprint for our environmental future, and will be Ground Zero for the new “Green New Deal” which is coming. Over 400 mayors have signed on to a pledge to battle climate change together with electric vehicles. When the federal government is deadlocked and led by an autocrat, the other wheels of democracy can still turn.
The Only Wall Going Up will be Around the Presidency. Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of letting president run amok, and some serious guardrails are called for. Presidential power has been swelling beyond the levels anticipated by the founders of the United States of America. Nobody thinks of the judicial and legislative branches as co-equal anymore. That’s because their power has been steadily eroded over time in relation to the executive branch. The White House has too much power to commit acts of war, acts of treason, or unilaterally dismantle the will of Congress and the people on specific policies.
Here are just a few recent examples of executive over-reach:
- Fat Nixon has refused to administer sanctions against Russia for months after Congress had voted to implement them- simply to protect himself. This should be part of the articles of impeachment in itself.
- The threat to declare a national emergency to fund a border wall, which has nothing to do with any sort of emergency, while deploying 10,000 troops there over the holidays, using specious arguments
- Brett Kavanaugh corruptly embedding himself in the White House for days of confirmation fight drama as a judicial nominee, as if he was an executive branch employee
- Three consecutive administrations (W. Bush, Obama, and Fat Nixon) have decided that extra-judicial assassinations, often resulting in civilian collateral damage, can take place by remotely piloted drones anywhere in the world the president pleases.
- Fat Nixon on one hand decides to bomb Syria, and on the other hand decides to withdraw from Syria, without any Congressional debate or a national conversation. The American people should NEVER allow these decisions to be made unilaterally.
Too many of the guard rails around the presidency are currently “norms” rather than “laws.” That needs to change. The good news is, change is coming in this area, and it will protect both conservatives and liberals from being subject to a wannabe dictator again- so that Fat Nixon will be the last of his kind.
Presidential candidates must release their tax returns or drop off the ballot, by law. The emoluments clauses around the presidency must be beefed up so that a president’s business interests around the world may no longer subjugate America’s national security for Rubles or Riyals. Nepotism laws should be strengthened so that a president’s daughter and son-in-law can never again receive a security clearance so obviously at the nation’s peril. Cabinet Secretaries should be immediately terminated for $50,000 desks or use of a government plane for vacation. Executive orders and other forms of unilateral action that can harm the country must be shut down once and for all. It’s not about benefitting Democrats or Republicans, but strengthening our democracy.
Rejoice, Americans. We have witnessed a dark period indeed in US history, and at times I lament my fate in having to see kids in cages, separated from their parents in response to racist fears and cruel hearts, all paid for with my hard earned tax deductions. The dark period will soon come to an end, and from what we can see so far, what comes next shall be glorious.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
With so many serious things going on in the world today I thought it was time to cover something on the lighter, more brainless side. For some years I have thought that certain Bollywood actors and Hollywood actors look remarkably similar to one another. In this column you will find the ones I consider to be the TOP 5 dopplegangers in #BollywoodHollywood. While I am NOT the first to make up any of these connections, this top 5 ranking is brought to you by usindiamonitor.
How awesome would it be if these guys actually met and we could see pictures of them shoulder to shoulder?
5) SAIF ALI KHAN & CHARLIE DAY. I’m not sure that either actor would appreciate being compared with the other on looks. After all, Charlie Day is a pure slapstick comedian who gets pushed around and ruthlessly made fun of in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or movies he appears in. Meanwhile Khan has attempted to be a serious actor, landing parts such as in Netflix’s Sacred Games where he is an unsmiling, brooding cop. No matter. These guys look so eerily similar, when I did image searches of one I wondered whether it was the other.
4) KATRINA KAIF & COBIE SMULDERS. By no coincidence, I have a huge crush on both of these ladies. They are most notably different in skin tone, but otherwise they could practically be sisters. Why are my hands shaking as I type this???
3) HRITHIK ROSHAN & BRADLEY COOPER. Shout out to my fellow Georgetown alum Bradley Cooper, who has some smarts and even singing chops to go along with those good looks and awesome acting. There can be no question that Hrithik is just as much of a heartthrob for Indian women everywhere. My Indian bias notwithstanding, I think Hrithik wins by a… hair.
2) PARIS HILTON & KAREENA KAPOOR. This unlikely pair have similar features through and through. Their sultry lips are practically interchangeable. The resemblance is undeniable, which gets these ladies into the #2 spot. I really do wonder what Kareena thinks about this…
- AAMIR KHAN & TOM HANKS. I think it’s only fair that the top honors should go to the best actors in the entire group. Aamir is easily the best Bollywood actor on this list with a long and illustrious career. Not to be outdone, Tom Hanks has been killing it in Hollywood for many decades as well.
Many American soldiers served and died in the various bloody theaters of World War II. They were called upon by the people of America and the wider family of civilized nations around the world to defeat burgeoning, horrific threats to the global order. They enjoined what history has widely judged to be a just and necessary war. Hundreds of thousands of these heroes’ remains were duly brought back home to be buried by their families and friends in somber funeral ceremonies across the 50 states. While those war dead represented the greatest possible sacrifice to country at a critical moment in history, and also a tragic loss for countless communities, at least upon paying the terrible price they received the proper honor they deserved in a final resting place chosen by those who loved them the most after earning victory. In the 1940s and beyond their headstones would be adorned with inspiring inscriptions, soaring monuments, and beautiful flowers, or they could lie next to their brothers in arms in dignified venues such as Arlington Cemetery, their heroism to be cherished by the generations to come and most importantly, never, ever forgotten.
Yet the remains of too many of these brave souls unceremoniously languish even today under remote corners of Indian stone and soil, in the incongruously scenic mountains and fields of Arunachal Pradesh, a Northeastern state riven by contentious territorial disputes between the rising superpowers, China and India.
They were US Airmen whose planes crashed in the heat of battle, and the Great War is still not over for them at all. We have a good idea of exactly who they are and where they lie, but the descendants and friends of approximately 400 men have been innocent victims squarely caught in the crossfire of endless bureaucratic disputes between nations- *nations whose soldiers fought alongside them as allies in WW II, no less.* Government bureaucracies are preventing even basic access to the sites where these men lie, forever young. Meanwhile, challenging and complex as the solutions may be, the United States government has not fought hard enough for a clean resolution, which should disturb all Americans who still benefit from the fruits of the MIA soldiers’ ultimate sacrifice.
As an Indian-American in particular, I feel the pain and helplessness suffered by the wives, siblings, and children who are living and over time, dying without the simple satisfaction of closure that society owes them.
What will it take to right this injustice? Previous editorials in this space by Gary Zaetz, the leader of Families and Supporters of America’s Arunachal Missing in Action paint a picture of tireless efforts, promising breakthroughs, productive archaeological surveys and digging expeditions, and minor victories on the rare occasion where a limited expedition turns up a small fraction of a soldier’s strewn body parts over 70 years after World War II ended.
The Pentagon has even sponsored a few ceremonies for a few of them. Many journalists, government leaders, and concerned citizens around the world have encouragingly offered support for the cause. But what sticks out most cruelly are the reams of red tape thrown forward by the halls of power in Washington, New Delhi, and Beijing which are stifling progress. Please read these moving editorials by Gary Zaetz here with critical updates to the story published here and here. Please take a few moments to scan the photos of the pilots and crew members, and look straight into the eyes of these young men and their families.
So what are the main challenges today? The key roadblock is the fact that China and India disagree about who the land belongs to, along with thousands of other miles of far-flung border lands throughout the Himalayan Mountain region. The two nations themselves have fought major wars in the 20th century over various little pieces of this turf in tragic pissing matches, with China defeating India badly, along with numerous smaller skirmishes that continue to this day. None of these have served to permanently settle the disputes over territory between these two nuclear weapon-tipped rivals. Hundreds of thousands of troops from both sides uneasily patrol the disputed regions in an ugly stalemate. The United Nations and the international community have been helpless in helping settle the disputes. Under the current postures of the involved nations, China will not allow peaceful expeditions to search for the remains safely behind a security cordon. India, viewing its role in the matter as subservient to wider engagement priorities in dialogue with China, has been unwilling to support the expeditions despite claiming outright that the territory is Indian. Perhaps understandably under the harsh realities, neither China nor India have decided to lead the discovery of American bodies. More vexingly, successive United States governments under administration after administration both Democrat and Republican have not taken full accountability for their own war dead either.
This should not stand. In fact, there is a duly appointed Pentagon office called Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) whose entire mission and reason for being is to find, recover, and repatriate the US military’s MIAs around the world. Unlike MIAs in Vietnam and elsewhere, where it may seem like finding them is sort of a “cold case,” there is more accurate information as to where to look in the case of Arunachal’s MIA soldiers. However, since 2004 communications and efforts of the Families and Supporters for Arunachal’s Missing in Action with the DPAA has resulted in limited progress.
The group has also earnestly reached out to US Senators, Representatives, State Department officials such as multiple US Ambassadors to India over time, senior Indian government officials such as retired Indian military officers, the Chinese Embassy in Washington, media groups, and others. Unfortunately, these communications have largely resulted in finger pointing about who is responsible for the lack of accountability in leading the long-overdue MIA discoveries. Over the last several years I have felt increasingly hapless due to the sea of red tape that has risen up.
We can certainly do better! I have contemplated what simple actions can be taken by concerned readers, regardless of where you live in the world, your politics, culture, or your religious background in the face of what seem like insurmountable challenges as large as the Himalaya mountains themselves. After all, this is purely a humanitarian issue with a potential solution in sight, a light at the end of the tunnel. You can join in by doing the following:
1) Join the Facebook page for the latest updates and offer your support in any way you can to this nonprofit organization, including financial.
2) Reach out with targeted messaging to the relevant government authorities individually, or as part of an organization you belong to such as local VFW or American Legion posts. Feel free to use the content from this editorial or others we have shared here as a guide, such as copying and pasting into emails, letters, or social media:
* The US Embassy to India https://in.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/new-delhi/
* The Indian Embassy to the United States https://www.indianembassy.org/
* The White House https://www.whitehouse.gov/
* Your Senator and Congressperson
3) Publish these letters and emails in local newspapers, newsletters, or social media outlets that you have access to.
4) If you can, set up meetings with government leaders who may have the power to assist in finding and bringing home the MIAs of Arunachal Pradesh.
5) Communicate any fresh ideas you might have to usindiamonitor or to Gary Zaetz, as you may think of new angles not yet considered for achieving elusive progress.
If enough people join this fight, the Arunachal Pradesh expeditions can continue apace once again with the approvals of all the relevant authorities- a long and hard slog in its own right so far led by a team including Clayton Kuhles, despite the government resistance. Indian-Americans, other NRIs, or Indians residing in India itself can join with this cause in solidarity. But of course, all comers would be most welcome.
The saddest aspect is that the loved ones of the US war dead will themselves be buried without the satisfaction of burying their own hero family members. This suffering is unnecessary and unacceptable, if there is something that can be done about it.
To some I understand that this may all appear to be such a small and unimportant priority from a long bygone era, when there are so many active problems going on in the world of today. To those, I would respond that if we patriots can’t take care of these little things as a society, then how can we possibly hope to tackle the grand global challenges society faces today?
I look forward to hearing from you on this conundrum.