With a Grain of Piquant Salt column


Column by Bhaskar Dasgupta
A weekly take on odd sod topics, trying to see both ends of a story, argued between a brother and his sister, and having the characteristics of a cactus. - PIQUANCY: 1. Pleasantly pungent or tart in taste; spicy. 2. Appealingly provocative: a piquant wit. 3. Charming, interesting, or attractive: a piquant face. 4. The quality or state of being piquant. (from Old French, present participle of piquer, to prick.)
We can make a difference
Anybody who has been on railway platforms in a reasonably big Indian city might have noticed a surprisingly large number of unaccompanied children. They are the children who have been abandoned, have run away from abusive homes, were orphaned or simp..read on

Malaysia – truly Asia but not fully Asia
It was a very pleasant surprise when I was invited to speak at a conference in Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia. I have been to that neighbourhood so many times, but never to Malaysia. While I have blogged about the conference, this essay is about my impr..read on

RATS!
Are rats cute? Just look at Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. They have an entire carnival of their own and a worldwide business around them! Theme parks galore! We have movies about a rat that turns into the amazing chef in the 2007 film Ratatouille. T..read on

Sisyphus would have complained about the Israeli Palestinian Crisis
Personally, I was happy with the Israeli Palestinian crisis, as it has saved me few quid. You see, using software developed in Israel for counter terrorist purposes, the local council has saved hundreds of thousands of pounds by implementing a lie de..read on

Business White-Collar Corruption, the gentlemanly maggots
We see corruption generally as a third world problem and a problem which is primarily at the governmental level. But far too frequently, we ignore the role played by the major corporations of the world in starting, propagating and yes sheltering the ..read on

Mind the Gap, the generation gap that is…
Have you heard about the greatest generation? This is the generation which was born around the early part of the 20th century and fought in the Second World War. These are the people who fought because it was the right thing to do and went on after t..read on

Recycling ships
Ships are living creatures. Ask any sailor and he will agree and he will further say that ships are feminine. That combination of steel, paint, oil, blood, sweat, tears, sand, sea, wind and waves can be nothing but feminine. But unlike ladies, when s..read on

A just war or a war that is just a war?
The Islamist terror and subsequent Iraq War have let loose a huge debate around what is “Just War”? The Islamists claim that Just War is Jihad and it is perfectly legitimate to fight against oppression by unbelievers. The Iraq Just War claims are bas..read on

A review of the Organisation of Islamic Countries report on Islamophobia
Islamophobia exists and is steadily getting worse. A phobia is a strong irrational or powerful fear and dislikes of something, in this case, the religion of Islam. This phobia has attained such strong levels, that the Organisation of Islamic Countr..read on

The impact of paradigm changing events on legal systems
Countries faced with terrorism are currently struggling with how to establish legal precedents, so that they can handle terrorists. Because there is no clear cut answer, you get situations which range from outright human right abuses of legal systems..read on

Why is Mark to Market vital for democracy and western civilisation?
With a grain of piquant salt Why is Mark to Market vital for democracy and western civilisation? I am seeing articles about how marking positions to market is contributing to the recession and how it should be stopped or amended almost daily in the f..read on

Using refugees for your own purposes
I have already written about refugees before but this time  I want to look at what do the Bangladeshi, Kashmiri, Tamil, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh Refugees in India, Kosovo Albanian Refugees, Palestinian Refugees in various Arab countries, Afghan refug..read on

The PayPal Challenge!
For those who have been living in the Outer Hebrides inside a cave for the past 10 years, this essay does not apply. For most of the other denizens of this country who are connected to the internet, PayPal would be familiar term. In any case, Paypal ..read on

A reformer who died too soon!
With a grain of salt A reformer who died too soon! Once upon a time, when Muslims were restive, worried about having been left very far behind the West in terms of scientific, political, economic and educational levels, when the west was overpowering..read on

The Emperor is wearing Albanian Clothes
Kosovo has declared independence on the 3rd Sunday of February, 2008 and the expectation is that it will be recognised by USA, UK and many other countries immediately. As soon as these western powers do recognise Kosovo as an independent country, it ..read on

Detailed look at the Saudi education system sausage machine
The House of Al Saud is built on land which is criss-crossed with tectonic fault lines which are almost constantly moving. And the al Saud way of handling these fault lines is not to improve the house by making it flexible, open and earthquake proof ..read on

The story of Emperor Augustus
Julius Caesar is very well known in the world, his history, his deeds and wars. The month July was named after him, but how many people know about the Caesar Augustus who had the following month named after him? In many ways, Augustus left a deeper i..read on

Is money the only difference between journalists and bloggers?
There is this issue which I keep on stumbling over and which seems to be agitating so many people who are in the publishing business. There seem to be two camps, the first camp is the journalist camp and the second seems to be the bloggers camp. And ..read on

For the love of logos
Logophilia is a lovely word. Try to roll it around in your mouth. It is a large word, a complex word, but something that slips out of your mouth easily. You are a bit puzzled as any “philia” is generally considered to be bad and rare, but to be logop..read on

Why Three Million Bengalis killed were not killed in genocide?
I am always curious about one historical anomaly. Why is the Bangladeshi Genocide never considered in the same light as that of Rwanda, Darfur, Southern Sudan, Congo, Cambodia or other genocides? Why does it not even get a fraction of the attention p..read on

Fifteen men on the dead man\'s chest and they need to be taken out!
US Navy ships fired upon pirate boats off the coast of Africa and were engaged in a wide ranging sea battle over long distances. The pirate boats were sunk, but this is just a small episode in a wider war of religion, imperialism, diplomacy and milit..read on

The Eagle has landed again and again and …
Prometheus was sentenced by Zeus to have his liver eaten by a giant eagle (think Garuda), while being chained to a rock. The liver would be eaten, then re-grow, and again be eaten by this eagle. Poor sod, and poor eagle (think about the monotonous di..read on

To keep on doing the same thing while expecting different results is the definition of insanity!
USA’s counter terrorism effort in the Global War against Terror is frankly creating more terrorists than it is stopping. If the objective was to reduce the number of terrorists, then it has failed, because the number of terrorists and terrorist incid..read on

Who’s your daddy?
Recently, I had the privilege of attending an event, which had one of the highest concentrations of international relations intellectual horsepower that I have ever seen.   The luminaries were discussing a very fundamental topic recently aris..read on

US Treasury invites responses on improvements to the US Capital Markets regulation
Financial and economic laws and regulations provide the rules of the game. It is the game of accepting, giving and managing money. And if the rules aren’t good or fit for purpose, then people will take their ball and go play somewhere else where the ..read on

When God is replaced by a terrorist!
With a grain of piquant salt….   When God is replaced by a terrorist! If there is one target which gets policemen, counter terrorism strategists and tacticians, politicians and other assorted terrorism managers very nervous, it is a religious ..read on

Those frogs have a better Middle East foreign policy than the ross-bifs or yanks.
So here we have a country which was considered to be a colonial enterprise in the Middle East, hated with a vengeance, totally imperialistic, only interested in its own culture and shoving its language down the native throats, only interested in the ..read on

Burma Needs To Fight For Its Own Freedom
Everybody is clutching at straws, bellowing at China, India, ASEAN, Japan, Mongolia, and Nicaragua to do something about Burma. But why would they help and what makes them think that the Burmese Generals will even listen to them? I am a simple man wh..read on

War of Independence or the Great Mutiny
The 1857 War of Independence or Great Mutiny has been directly seared into the national psyches of many countries and impacted a great many more countries indirectly.   The Great British Empire, on which the sun never set, arose properly righ..read on

Hope Springs Eternal!
Imagine facing a situation where your darling child has been born and very soon was been diagnosed with an exceedingly rare illness (only sixty patients in the world are known to have it). You are faced with a situation that there is no known cure, n..read on

The Muslim Brotherhood – a force not to be underestimated
The Muslim Brotherhood is a much mis-understood and under-estimated force in today's political climate across the globe. Like the various communist parties globally, drawing sustenance from the same original thinkers such as Marx, Engle, Lenin, Trots..read on

Lies like beauty, depend upon the eye of the beholder – Part I.
Hindu Nationalism has emerged from a rather long history of a feeling of victimhood and discrimination, with roots going back to more than millennia. Ever since new religions and cults have appeared from the imaginary (maya) body of Hinduism or have ..read on

The story of the Islamic Rage boy and other rage boys in the world
Rage is a funny thing in humans, it makes you forget the boundaries of civilised behaviour. You cannot define rage or even what constitutes civilised behaviour. But you know when you see rage and you know when boundaries are breached. We have seen en..read on

If you want independence, then you need to make a better case than a vague and limp “it sounds like
With a grain of piquant salt If you want independence, then you need to make a better case than a vague and limp “it sounds like a good idea”! Self Determination, freedom, independence etc. are very emotive words. The emotions come from the fact that..read on

Of Mice and Men and their Wars and Businesses
While reading a book Every Man a Tiger by Tom Clancy (ISBN-10: 0399144935) on General Horner, the Air Component Commander of during Operation Desert Storm, I came across this statement: “When a general goes to war, he needs a staff function. And if h..read on

Mayor of London! Surely eccentricity has its limits?
When I was knee high to a pea plant, I started getting interested in politics (in a vain hope to sound intelligent when trying to pick up birds). My mother told me a quote which still sticks to my mind, she said: "Son, you will be torn between two fe..read on

With a grain of piquant salt: Ancient Assyrians Alive!
I nearly fell out of my chair when I stumbled over a tiny piece of news about the fact that August 7th is declared as the Memorial Day for Assyrian Martyrs. Assyrians? Surely somebody is pulling my leg or its April fool’s day. Assyrians as a people d..read on

The future of Iraq: fly apart at the seams or will the seams hold?
Predicting the future of a nation is comparatively easy when the country has a democracy with stable institutions, but it is considerably more difficult when the country’s reins are forcefully held by an individual or party. In situations like this, ..read on

Doctors – Gods representatives on Earth
The United Kingdom was attacked recently by a group of terrorists. Ho-Hum, you say, so what’s new? Well, the new angle was that most of the terrorists were doctors. Terrorism is shocking anyway. Then the gruesome and incendiary images of two men in a..read on

Talk to Hamas, Israel
Ever since its birth, Israel always had an existential problem. And I do mean existential problem. In the past sixty odd years of its independence, it has always faced a threat to its own existence. In all cases, it has resorted to the military optio..read on

How you judge reform depends upon where you are standing
The use of Islam as a terrorist ideology or even a political ideology is causing governments, as well as liberal / progressive Muslims themselves, to explore, support, develop and push for reform. But Islam always had reformers, starting from almost ..read on

When you run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, all you manage is to stumble!
Tariq Ramadan is a well known person in European circles. He is somebody, who is controversial to say the least. On one hand, he hobnobs with the great and good in the government circles, talking about how to get the European Muslim minority integr..read on

The vulture appreciation society is now in session!
Vulture funds are in the news these days. These funds purchase bad debt, the sort of debt which has long given up its ghost. In other words, there is no chance of getting any money back on this debt. So, the vulture funds purchase this stuff, and the..read on

Stay out of the Sudanese bear pit, Prime Minister.
Recently, we saw a spate of globally coordinated demonstrations about the requirement for people to do something about Darfur. There are no questions about the situation in Darfur. The Sudanese rulers sitting in Khartoum are essentially conducting ge..read on

Everybody loves and supports democratic reform revolutions, yes? NO!
One recent correspondence that I received about Saudi Arabia made me go: "hmmm". As it so happens, this bunch of guys apparently got together and raised a petition to the King asking for reform. Typically, they were immediately rounded up and thrown ..read on

With a grain of piquant salt - High Inflation – the silent killer
Suddenly, people are starting to wake up to the disaster happening in Zimbabwe. Southern African leaders are gathering to find ways to address the issues. ZANU-PF, the main goon party of Zimbabwe is meeting to figure out what to do with President Mug..read on

With a grain of piquant salt: Its media, Jim, but not as we know it.
  So many times we have heard about how people are turning away from traditional media, The requiem for the traditional radio, TV and newspapers has been written many times. So, is the death of traditional media vastly exaggerated? No, I am afr..read on

The future of British Armed Forces
So, what does a medium-ranking power that is still trying to establish its final place in the world do about the last vestiges of its great power status and colonial hang-ups? I am talking about the United Kingdom, a country which has punched above i..read on

Pakistan trapped, surrounded, quarantined or just reading too much into it?
  I was generally browsing the newspapers kept in the lobby of The Economist, while waiting to be interviewed, when I caught a news item about how Iran is building a concrete wall to fence off Pakistan. And then, while returning from the interv..read on

The Great Satan, the wounded snake?
As usual, the idea for this essay was borne, when several aspects came together. The first was when I heard on the Sky News channel that the Americans were complaining about the fact that several Iraqi road side bombs were either designed in or actua..read on

The Promised Land – As Promised in the Three Holy Books
In a recent essay, I talked about a rather interesting, obscure point raised by a number of people, about how Allah actually promised Israel to the Jews. As it so happened, an email was floating around about how a Dr. Salim Mansur in Canada created a..read on

Hated Without a Cause or Is There a Cause?
One thing I find quite fascinating is how Israel and the Jews have such a strong grip on the Muslim intelligentsia on the internet and media. I mean, after spending the past few years generally trying to understand more about the Middle East, I am co..read on




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