Tuesday, 29 December 2015

10 Best Hindi Films Of 2015

10 Best Hindi Films Of 2015

Posted: 25/12/2015 19:01 IST Updated: 28/12/2015 20:55 IST

This has been a good bad year.

I can’t think of another way to describe Bollywood in 2015, which has seen many attempts at better filmmaking and yet still missed the mark. Films like Badlapur,Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, Bombay Velvet, and Dil Dhadakne Do saw stars and some of our best directors attempting something different, even if results varied from ho-hum to downright disastrous.

Perhaps it’s because our expectations are higher than ever, spoilt for choice as we have become with more access to entertainment than ever. You don’t need to watch a movie any more to be entertained — not when there’s an entire world of TV shows, viral videos, and web-series out there.

Add to the fact that we have abysmal theatrical penetration: just 10-12 screens per million people, which is a ridiculously low ratio for a country as obsessed with movies as India. This leads to more avenues for piracy, with people now having the luxury of going to a theatre to watch a movie only if they really want to. Otherwise, why bother paying exorbitant rates at a multiplex when you could watch a movie on your smartphone?

The problem is, studios only want to make movies that bring in profits, which leads to an over-reliance on sure-shot bets that involve big stars and, therefore, a big release. Meanwhile, a growing section of the audience is tired of mediocrity and need not watch a movie to be entertained. This may explain why films like Tevar, Brothers, andSingh Is Bliing didn’t exactly set cash-registers ringing, despite the factory-fitted star power and masala value they arrived with.

Even in this environment, though, there were some Hindi films that stood out from the rest. In July, I’d put out a list of the 5 best Hindi films of the year till the mid-way mark. All of those films have made it to this list as well, aside from a few new ones. Here, in descending order, is my final selection of the 10 best Hindi films of the year:

10. Bajirao Mastani, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Bhansali’s magnum opus about the doomed romance between Maratha warrior Peshwa Bajirao and Rajput-Muslim princess Mastani comes with many flaws — occasionally patchy visuals, lacklustre storytelling, and perhaps too many liberties. But when it works, it does so like a charm, aided by fantastic performances from Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, and Priyanka Chopra. Between Singh’s eccentric take on the Peshwa and the dazzlingly well-shot songs like ‘Deewani Mastani’ — Bhansali’s tribute to ‘Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya’ from Mughal-E-Azam (1960) — this is a film that deserves credit for being committed to its vision.

9. NH10, directed by Navdeep Singh

Even if liberally borrowed from the British film Eden Lake (2008), Singh’s well-calibrated slasher thriller still remains one of the better Hindi films of 2015. Anushka Sharma, who also co-produced it, turned in a career-best performance as a Gurgaon yuppie whose weekend trip turns into a nightmare the minute she enters Jat country i.e. rural Haryana. Contrived in places it may be, but at least NH10 is never guilty of being ineffective or boring.

8. Margarita, With A Straw, directed by Shonali Bose

An easy film to dislike, given its inherent critic-baitiness, but Bose’s sophomore feature deserves its due for tackling difficult subjects — disability and sexuality — with enough sensitivity. Playing the self-centered, cerebral-palsy-afflicted Laila Kapoor, Kalki Koechlin gives it her all and, despite hitting a few bum notes here and there, delivers an admirable performance. The real star of the show, however, is Revathy, who becomes this film’s emotional core and helps make the whole story work.

7. Hunterrr, directed by Harshavardhan Kulkarni

If there’s anything in Hindi cinema that has needed total reinvention for a while, it’s the sex comedy — a genre littered with immature, misogynistic crapfests that provide undeserved career opportunities for the likes of Aftab Shivdasani. Harshavardhan Kulkarni’s debut film, although technically a dramedy about sex, is now the standard to aspire to. A nostalgic, coming-of-age tale focusing on the sexcapades of a clean-cut Maharashtrian boy named Mandar Ponkshe (a superb Gulshan Devaiah), Hunterrrdefies convention by displaying nuance and fleshing out its female characters. Radhika Apte is a treat to watch as the ultimate girl next door and Sai Tamhankar, playing a sexually repressed housewife, steams it up without ever crossing the line into vulgarity.

6. Tamasha, directed by Imtiaz Ali

Perhaps the most polarising movie of the year, Tamasha earned me at least one mock threat of violence from a friend who may never read anything I write again. But I'll stand my ground and say that, barring a few annoying contrivances, there’s a lot to love in Ali’s latest spin on his favourite story: a tortured, sensitive soul searches for and finds the path he/she was always meant to take. Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, whose meet-cute in Corsica is a delight to watch, turn in fine performances but it is Ali’s gentle hold on proceedings that helps make this a warm and memorable story about a boy who love stories.

5. Titli, directed by Kanu Behl

Behl’s debut is, perhaps, the gloomiest film of the year. There’s no hope and little redemption in this desolate portrait of a family so dysfunctional that its eponymous protagonist, a young scrawny boy whose name ironically means ‘butterfly’ (Shashaank Arora), is willing to do whatever it takes to get away from home. Shot on 16 mm film,Titli captures male violence and urban dystopia in all its ugliness — the result, ironically, is almost beautiful. Contrivances and niggling holes in the story let it down somewhat, but sure-handed direction and a fantastic ensemble — led by a rip-roaring Ranvir Shorey — prop this film back up considerably. I can’t wait to watch what Behl does next.

4. Piku, directed by Shoojit Sircar

How fitting that a film based on bowel movements is one of the best films in a year that has seen several cinematic turds. Director Sircar and writer Juhi Chaturvedi team up once again after 2012’s Vicky Donor to deliver a delightfully breezy road movie about relationships by way of gastric problems. Amitabh Bachchan plays a cantankerous old Bengali man with reasonable verisimilitude, while Deepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan have a ball as his often-exasperated travel-mates. In the commercial Hindi film format, it’s rare to see a film like this, which has a lot to say about life, old age, and death even as it deftly side-steps the sand-trap of excessive melodrama.

3. Dum Laga Ke Haisha, directed by Sharat Katariya

This is 2015’s Little Film That Could, starring an atypical debutant named Bhumi Pednekar and Ayushmann Khurrana, whose career got a second lease of life riding on the back of this film after the disastrous Hawaizaada crashed and burned earlier this year. Pednekar plays an overweight young schoolteacher who marries Khurrana, a typically entitled small-town lad who believes he deserves a more attractive wife. The ‘90s Haridwar setting, the tributes to Kumar Sanu, and Anu Malik’s music further contribute to the feel-good magic. But don’t let its fairy-tale romance exterior fool you — Dum Laga Ke Haisha has several astute observations to make about patriarchy and social structures in small-town India, and Katariya’s assured direction helps the film get there.

2. Talvar, directed by Meghna Gulzar

One of the year’s more controversial Hindi films is also one of its best. Gulzar takes on the infamous 2008 Noida double murder case with a gripping and well-acted procedural starring fine actors like Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, and Neeraj Kabi. True, its Rashomon-like aspirations are thwarted by Khan’s towering screen presence; despite all claims to the contrary, Khan’s Ashwin Kumar (based on the CBI officer who claimed that the real-life Aarushi Talwar’s parents could not have committed the grisly crimes) comes across as the film’s hero, especially since Vishal Bhardwaj’s smartly-penned script gives him the best lines. No wonder, then, that a petition to reopen the case and free the parents spread like wildfire soon after its release. However, despite the imbalance, Talvar is a fine genre film that works even better if you think of it as pure fiction.

1. Masaan, directed by Neeraj Ghaywan

Ghaywan’s directorial debut, a winner of two awards at Cannes this year, is a surprisingly accomplished film. Set in Varanasi, it touches upon various aspects of small-town life in North India via three concurrent stories. Richa Chadha is fantastic as a young woman who has been shamed for exploring her sexuality, while Vicky Kaushal makes a sensational debut as a young engineering aspirant who spends his nights cremating corpses at the holy city’s ghats. Other solid supporting performances from Sanjay Mishra and Pankaj Tripathi aside, Masaan stands out for its beautiful camerawork (the multi-talented Avinash Arun, whose debut Marathi feature Killaactually outshines every film on this list — too bad this is a list of best Hindi films), Varun Grover’s astute script and evocative lyrics; and the lovely folk-rock score by Indian Ocean.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Doubt on UK readiness for new weather era

Failed flood defences cast doubt on UK readiness for new weather era

An extra 1,000 soldiers are on standby as thousands of people are evacuated amid the threat of more heavy rain to come this week in northern England
Matthew Taylor, Ben Quinnand John Vidal

Monday 28 December 2015 05.13 GMTLast modified on Monday 28 December 201509.59 GMT

Britain’s ability to cope with the “unprecedented” flood crises that hit several urban centres simultaneously over the weekend has been called into question after the failure of key flood defences in the north led to thousands of homes being put at risk.

Three cities - York, Leeds and Manchester - were hit by the severe weather, alongside scores of towns and villages, forcing the evacuation of thousands in what David Cameron described as an unprecedented situation. The prime minister was expected to visit the stricken areas on Monday.
David Cameron: northern England flooding ‘incredibly serious situation’

With more heavy rain predicted for the middle of the week, the situation could worsen and an extra 200 troops have been dispatched to the worst-hit areas to join the 300 already helping communities cope with the flooding.

A Downing Street spokesperson said on Sunday night that a further 1,000 military personnel were on standby “should the situation worsen”.

More rain will batter the north of England on Wednesday with up to 80mm (3in) falling on high ground and as much as 120mm (4.7ins ) in exposed locations.
A motorist drives through the flood waters on Kirkstall Road in central Leeds on 27 December. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

Amid warnings that climate change would lead to more frequent and severe flooding, the state of the large-scale defences was brought into sharp relief after pumping equipment in York was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water.

In a move that apparently sacrificed some areas in order to prevent greater devastation elsewhere, officials decided at the weekend to raise the river Foss flood barrier in order to prevent it from becoming stuck. Hundreds of homes were evacuated and entire streets were submerged. York’s barrier, completed in 1987 following serious flooding in 1982, also experienced problems in 2012 when four of its eight pumps failed due to overheating, resulting in flood warnings for hundreds of householders.

Charlie Croft, from York City Council, confirmed on Monday morning that river waters in the city had peaked, telling the BBC: “We have to say that we are still in the middle of a major incident, though tentative positive news is that the river may now have stopped rising at this point.”

Floods continued to bring chaos to thousands of homes and businesses elsewhere across the north of England. In Leeds, main roads in the city centre remained under water. In Greater Manchester, 7,000 homes were still without power after rivers topped their banks.

A man searches through flood damaged property left in a car park in Rochdale. Photograph: Barbara Cook/Demotix/Corbis

While experts have cautioned that it is too early to give precise figures for the losses caused by Storm Desmond and Storm Eva, the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said that an initial analysis showed that they could run as high as £1.3bn.

Facing questions about Britain’s readiness to cope with severe weather events after cuts to the government’s flood spending over the past five years, the environment secretary Liz Truss pledged that flood defences would be reviewed.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell called for a cross-party consensus to ensure that investment in flood resilience does not fall victim to politics, while a council leader in a flood-hit part of Yorkshire said measures needed to extend beyond spending on major flood defence schemes. Mr McDonnell said he was ready to agree levels of spending on measures to adapt to climate change with chancellor George Osborne to ensure that investment continues whoever wins the next election.

Live UK floods: people told to waterproof homes because of increase in 'unknown extremes' - live
David Cameron to visit stricken areas across north of England as failed defences cast doubt on readiness for new weather era

Calderdale council leader Tim Swift said: “It’s just obvious that the scale of flooding events over the last 10 years has been dramatically greater than anything we’ve had before, and without getting into an argument, even if you put the most generous interpretation on what the government is doing, the level of flood resilience funding hasn’t increased to match that.

“One of the big questions we will be asking is what the most effective response is. We’re pretty clear it needs to be about the whole system. There is still a case for major flood defence schemes, but we also want to look at land management and drainage as well. Calderdale needs a comprehensive solution.

In York, where 3,500 homes were at risk near the rivers Ouse and Foss, there were calls for the state of flood defences and funding to be reviewed. Among the worst affected was the area around Huntingdon Road, close to the city centre, where vehicles and homes were partially submerged.
The clean up process begins in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Photograph: Barbara Cook/Demotix/Corbis

Problems arose at the weekend at the Foss barrier and pumping station, which controls river levels by managing the interaction between the rivers Foss and Ouse. In a model that is commonplace around the country, pumps behind the barrier are supposed to pump the water clear. The station became inundated with floodwater after the volume exceeded the capacity of the pumps and flooded some of the electrics, according to an Environment Agency spokesperson, who said that a helicopter was due to airlift in parts to complete repairs on Monday.

“The barrier gate was opened to let the river Foss flow into the river Ouse to prevent very high water levels in the Foss from backing up and creating dangerous levels of flooding, which would have created a serious risk to the public,” the spokesperson added.

Just before Christmas, the government published figures on flood spending levels over the past five years. They tumbled nearly 30% after 2010-11, and have only now picked up thanks to “exceptional” funding as a result of the 2013-14 floods. By 2014-15, capital investment on flood defences had fallen to £228m, supplemented by a further £125m.

Drone footage of flooding in the West Yorkshire towns of Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd.

Innes Thomson, a former flood chief at the Environment Agency who heads the Association of Drainage Authorities, whose job is to manage water levels and keep water flowing, called for more money to be spent on maintenance rather than on big new defence projects.

Flooding in northern England – in pictures

“If we were to spend more just maintaining and managing water levels, it would be money well spent,” he said. “If we spent a slug of money now cleaning up rivers, it would help. All sorts of work needs to be done. We have £22bn of flood risk assets, but [we need to ask] have we got the right standard? Are they in good condition? Should we upgrade our pumps? Do we need to ensure all our embankments are sound? Are our watercourses clear of obstacles? I think we are talking about tens of millions of pounds. Now is an opportunity to reconsider where we spend our money.”

More than 200 flood alerts and warnings were in place for England, Wales and Scotland on Sunday afternoon, including more than 20 severe warnings, indicating danger to life. Among the most seriously affected areas were Pennine towns between Leeds and Manchester that saw rivers hit record levels – up to 5ft above their previous peak in some places.

In Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, hundreds of homes and businesses were flooded, with residents piling sodden furniture, Christmas presents and other belongings in the street. A few miles down the valley in Hebden Bridge, residents were coming to terms with their third devastating flood in the past four years.

Truss told the BBC: “Every single river [in Lancashire] was at a record high,” adding that in Yorkshire, some rivers were a metre higher than ever before. “Clearly in the light of that, we will be reviewing our flood defences.”

Kejriwal and Swamy, a large number of Indians have chosen a wrong hero

Between Kejriwal and Swamy, a large number of Indians have chosen a wrong hero


I had this irresistible urge of writing this article from a long time but I wanted Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to appear in Court first. To be honest, I was pretty sure that the Gandhis will get a bail and will not be stopped from traveling. And that’s exactly what happened. NDTV real-time feed screamed “Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son and deputy Rahul Gandhi were today granted bail in the National Herald case, minutes after they arrived at the Patiala House court.” 

But there were at least three positive things that came out of this case. Firstly the Gandhis were dragged to a court like common criminals, secondly the case hasn’t ended, the next hearing will be on 20th February and thirdly, they have not been freed from further court appearances. 

And “Jail for Gandhis” or not, Subramanian Swamy is the man of the moment but if closely analyze his long history of legal battles, Swamy can very well be called, the man of last 20 years or so. 

But as the title suggests, this article is not just about Swamy, it is also about Arvind Kejriwal. Arvind Kejriwal was once hailed as the giant killer and a man on a mission to eradicate corruption from India. If we look at his history of legal or dharna battles, he has proved to be a damp squib.

Arvind Kejriwal – The Messiah of the Masses, Anti-Corruption Crusader and the Giant Killer

Arvind Kejriwal Vs Robert Vadra: Arvind Kejriwal accused DeshDamaadRobert Vadra and real estate giant DLF of deeply illicit links. He said Mr. Vadra was given an interest free loan from DLF, which also sold him vast amounts of property at hefty bargains in return for favours from the Congress. Arvind Kejriwal also supported whistle blower Ashok Khemka who was pivotal in getting Vadra-DLF deals exposed. After Vadra expose the congress party replaced Ashok Khemka with one Yudhvir Khyalia. Yudhvir allegedly converted all illegal deals of Robert Vadra into legitimate ones reinstated all his licences. He also created a charge sheet against Ashok Khemka.

So what did Arvind Kejriwal do?

AAP gave ticket to Yudhvir. Kejriwal created a case and pursued it till it trended and then he didn’t just toss it aside, he even used it to his advantage.

Link – http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-02-28/news/47774491_1_aap-workers-arvind-kejriwal-yogendra-yadav

Santosh Kohli Murder Case: RTI activist Santosh Kohli, one of Kerjiwal’s oldest colleagues met with an accident and succumbed to her injuries. Arvind Kejriwal immediately created a case out of it. He accused Congress and BJP of killing Kohli. He promised to get justice for Kohli. But when Kejriwal became the CM he never probed, created an enquiry committee or recommend this case for CBI intervention. Worse, he even kept the Post Mortem report with himself and never made it public.


Sheila Dixit Case: I think every AAP fanboy or hater will attest to the fact that Arvind Kejriwal had in his possession, a 370 pages proof against Sheila Dixit. He claimed to have cracked the commonwealth games case where he held Dixit as the prime suspect. But again the same pattern, he became the CM, he never ordered an enquiry and when Dr. Harshwardhan asked him to initiate a probe against Dixit, Arvind Kejriwal said “If Harshwardhan has proofs against Sheila, he should send it to him”.

Here is the video:


Kejriwal Vs Amit Shah: As soon as the news of Muzaffarnagar riots gathered steam, Arvind Kerjiwal planned a war against Amit Shah (Also Modi). AAP Volunteers protested against Shah for his alleged involvement in the riots. The official website of the Aam Aadmi Party published a malicious article that blamed Shah for the riots. Further investigations made it clear that if anyone was guilty, it was Azam Khan. The article was deleted. The volunteers stopped marching and the case was tossed aside again.


Kejriwal Vs Nitin Gadkari: Arvind Kejriwal prepared a list where he legendarily listed all the corrupt politicians of India. 

Unfortunately he mentioned the name of Nitin Gadkari, a man who is not known to take personal insults sportingly. He lodged a defamation case against Kejriwal and unknowingly gave the populist politician another excuse to take out and flash the victim card that he keeps in the front pocket of the loose-fitted shirt that wears. He was chased by the shutterbugs for weeks and had a rockstar march to the Tihar Jail where he famously denied from furnishing the bail bond. 

But in a week, his news became stale and he stopped trending on Twitter. So he silently furnished the bond and withdrew his case against Gadkari. Do you notice the same pattern again?

Now that we are done analysing the pattern of limelight and media bandwidth hogger Arvind Kejriwal, let us move to Subramanian Swamy

Kejriwal Vs Nitin Gadkari: Arvind Kejriwal erupted as soon as CBI raided his secretary’s office and immediately accused Jaitley of massive corruptions in the DDCA. But he is still to submit a single conclusive evidence against Jaitley. Jaitley on the other hand has lodged a defamation suit against Kerjiwal. I am pretty sure, this case will go nowhere.

Subramanian Swamy – The man who uses our sluggish legal system in an awe-inspiring way

The 2G Spectrum Case: It was the year 2008 when Subramanian Swamy wrote a series of letters to PM on 2G spectrum allocation. In his letters, Dr. Swamy highlighted the inconsistencies in the system of spectrum allocation. Our ex PM Dr. Manmohan Singh chose to remain silent. And he was a pro at it. In the year 2009, the CBI filed a charge sheet in the 2G spectrum allocation but it stayed away from naming anyone. In the year 2010, the Comptroller and Auditor General, in its report on 2G spectrum allocation, highlighted a loss INR 1.76 lakh crore. Soon Radia tapes surfaced and so did other evidences. People hence got to know about this mammoth scam.

Dr. Swamy requested Delhi High Court to instruct the PM to prosecute A Raja for his involvement in 2G scam. Delhi HC denied. Dr. Swamy moved to the SC. Under the mounting pressure, UPA crumbled and A. Raja resigned as Telecom minister. While people were euphoric, Dr. Swamy moved to SC for cancellation of 122 2G licenses. The SC cancelled all 122 licenses allotted by A. Raja and imposed a fine of INR 50 million on Unitech wireless, Swan Telecom and Tata Teleservices.

He initiated a case. He stayed till justice was delivered and he made sure that the guilty are punished.

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) Case: When the EVMs were first introduced, Dr. Swamy had reasonable doubts about the trustworthiness of the device. Also, there was no subtle way for an ordinary voter to know if he pressed the intended button. Dr. Swamy was of the opinion that EVM fraud had a huge role to play in the victory of UPA-2. 

His PIL to investigate the working of EVM was dismissed by the Delhi High Court on 17 January 2012. In January 2013, the Election Commission informed the Supreme Court that it would include Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system after the court agreed with some points raised by Swamy who was the fighting a lone battle against the EVM. 

On 8 October 2013 the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to implement audit trail system in 2014 general election in phases. And in a rare gesture of gratitude thanked Dr. Swamy for his proactiveness and suggestions.

He found a problem. He suggested a solution. He ensured that the issue is resolved.

Swamy Vs Jayalalitha: In 1996, Swamy filed a criminal complaint against Jayalalitha in the disproportionate assets case. Dr. Swamy alleged that while Jayalalitha was the Chief Minister, she contravened the various provisions of law and indulged in some transaction of the property owned by the Government and so on. As always Swamy was loaded with evidences. The case led to her prosecution where she was convicted and sentenced for four years imprisonment.

Again! He initiated a case and made sure that the guilty are punished.

National Herald Case: The Congress party gave an interest-free loan of Rs. 90.21 crore to Associated Journals Limited (AJL) a company which ran National Herald, a newspaper founded by Shri Jawaharlal Nehru himself. 

A company called Young Indian Pvt Ltd bought the bad loan off the Congress for Rs. 50 lakh. AJL couldn’t fork over the loan amount, so it presented all its shares to Young Indian.

This is where the game begins. AJL owns assets worth between Rs 2,500-5,000 crore in many cities which after the share transfer are owned by Young Indian. The Registrar of Companies records suggest that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi jointly own 76% of Young Indian.

On 1 November 2012 Subramanian Swamy alleged that both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have committed fraud and land grabbing to a tune of 20 billion (US$300 million) by acquiring a public limited company called Associated Journals Private Ltd (AJPL) through their owned private company, Young India. And as everyone knows, The Gandhis were dragged to the court like commoners and the case is still not over.

Swamy’s exceptional activism skills and the uncanny ability of pinning the corrupt to the ground on display again.

Likewise, Aircel-Maxis Deal, AirAsia deal, Jet-Etihad deal and Hashimpura massacre attest Swami’s genius again.

Now this brings me to the conclusion of this article:

I see a large number of youngsters fervently supporting Arvind Kejriwal for he is their ordinary, everyday superhero. 

We are a nation that desperately looks forward to its hero to guide them. The rise of Arvind Kejriwal was because of the middle class frustration, in Kejriwal they saw a man who was not afraid to raise his voice against corrupt politicians, corrupt bureaucrats and corrupt system. 

They clapped when he accused Adani and Ambani. They clapped when he accused Congress and BJP. But what they failed to notice was, that as soon as they stopped clapping, Kejriwal stopped shouting too.

Kejriwal is a wrong hero and a wrong idol for the young generation.

Kejriwal and Swamy are both mercurial, but one indulges in theatrics and the other stands for justice

Kejriwal and Swamy have strong penchants for legal battle, but one uses it to hog limelight and the other uses it for justice

Both Kejriwal and Swamy attack ruthlessly but one comes with a victim card and the other comes with dossiers full of evidences

Both Kejriwal and Swamy dislike corruption, one uses it as an electoral pitch, other uses it to attack the corrupt

Both Kejriwal and Swamy have strong academic credentials, one uses it to prove how he left Laakhon ki Naukri to serve the nation and the other shows it in his legal battles

Youngsters of India must understand that choosing a charlatan as their hero is only going to make them like him.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Indian Army's 'Future Soldier Program' will make our soldiers the most feared on the planet

Indian Army's 'Future Soldier Program' will make our soldiers the most feared on the planet
Thursday, December 24, 2015
By: MensXP

Hate it or love it, wars are a reality and the army with the best soldiers prevails. While the American, Russian and Israeli soldier battle-gears are known around the world as the most advanced, the Indian Army’s two-phase ‘Future Soldier’ program, earlier known as F-INSAS (Future Infantry Soldier As A System), will make our soldiers the most fiercely equipped soldiers on the planet.

The ‘Future Soldier’ program is divided into two components – the first one being ‘Arming the modern infantry soldier’. Under this, our ‘special forces’ commandos will be loaded with the world’s best under-barrel grenade launcher assault rifles, carbines and hand grenades. They will be protected with equipment such as non-flammable, waterproofed, hard ballistic protected and bulletproof helmets, visors and vests. The new attire will enable commandos to carry extra loads and resist the impact of nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological warfare. The uniforms will also be fitted with external and internal oxygen supply, fire-proof knee and elbow pads and hand gloves and laser eye protection goggles.

The second component is something straight out of a Hollywood movie. Our commandos will be equipped with Palmtop GPS navigation devices, world’s most advanced satellite phones, Integrated Multifunction Sight Device Night Vision Equipment, Thermal Imager, Laser Range-Finder, Colour Charge-Coupled-Device (CCD) Camera, Digital Magnetic Compass, Integrated Electro-Optical Surveillance and Fire Control Systems and advanced GPS receivers. The list of sensors our boys will be carrying is just mind blowing – infrared sensors, thermal sensors, electro optical sensors, spectroscopic sensors, electromagnetic and radio frequency sensors. What’s even better is that this entire kickass technology is weatherproof and all-terrain tested.

The program strongly relies on indigenous DRDO-led development of this technology with massive support from Israel.

Once equipped with tech and advanced weaponry, Indian special forces will be able to operate in virtually any and every sort of battle scenario.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

10 Indian Villages That Set A Worthy Example For The Whole Country

10 Indian Villages That Set A Worthy Example For The Whole Country

India, having an agro-based economy, depends the most on its villages for growth. The gaon always has that distinct nostalgic charm that Indians alone can understand. Sarson ke khet, tea plantations, mud houses, clean air, charpaai, mitti, star-lit sky; these are just some of the happy things that we associate with life in an Indian village.

But unfortunately, that feeling is slowly waning. Poverty, lack of education, lack of sanitation, etc are the first associations that the media paints about Indian villages for our benefit.

Here's a little fact: Gaons aren't a bad place to live. In fact, some of them are way better than any metro. And these exemplary examples prove just that.

1. Mawlynnong - Asia's cleanest village

Mawlynnong, a small village in Meghalaya, was awarded the prestigious tag of 'Cleanest Village in Asia' in 2003 by Discover India Magazine. Located at about 90 kms from Shillong, the village offers a sky walk for you to take in the beauty as you explore it. According to visitors, you cannot find a single cigarette butt/plastic bag lying around there.

2. Punsari - The village with WiFi, CCTVs, AC classrooms and more

Punsari, located in Gujarat, puts most metros to shame. Funded by the Indian government and the village's own funding model, Punsari is no NRI-blessed zone. The village also boasts of a mini-bus commute system and various other facilities. Believe it.

3. Hiware Bazar - The village of 60 millionaires

Hiware Bazar, located in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, has transformed from being a place fraught with issues to being possibly the richest village in India. The sole reason for this fairy-tale change is one man called Popatrao Pawar. He banned all addictive substances to minimize expense and encouraged the villagers to invest in rain-water harvesting, milch cattle, etc.

There are a record 60 millionaires in the village and barely any poor. From 168 Below Poverty Line families in 1995, Hiware Bazar now has just three. The villagers continue to strive to see a day when not one person is poor.

4. Dharnai - First fully solar-powered village

Dharnai, a village in Bihar, beat 30 years of darkness by developing its own solar-powered system for electricity. With the aid of Greenpeace, Dharnai declared itself an enery-independent village in July. Students no long need to limit their studies to the day time, women no longer limit themselves to stepping out in the day in this village of 2400 residents. Now if only cities could do the same, right?

5. Chappar - A village that distributes sweets when a girl is born

Chappar village in Haryana has a woman Sarpanch. But Neelam is no ordinary Sarpanch. She made it her life's mission to change the attitude of the villagers towards women, and she succeeded. Not only do the women of the village not wear the ghunghat anymore, but despite Haryana being the state with the lowest girls ratio (an abysmal 877) in this village every newborn, regardless of his/her sex, is welcomed into the world with sweets and festivities.

6. Kokrebellur - A village that really loves its birds

Kokrebellur, a small village in Karnataka, believes in the conservation of nature. While most other villages consider birds a nuisance because they harm crops, Kokrebellur boasts of rare species of birds that fly around and don't even mind humans much. The villagers treat their winged compatriots as family and have even created an area for wounded birds to rest and heal. Wonderful, isn't it?

7. Ballia - The village that beat arsenic poisoning with an indigenous method 

Ballia village of Uttar Pradesh had an itchy problem to deal with. The water that the villagers were drinking contained arsenic, which causes serious skin problems and even physical deformation. What is arsenic, you ask? A harmless element on its own, but when combined with oxygen or water, it turns toxic.

Ironically, the village faced the problem after the government introduced many hand-pumps in the area for easy water access. The level at which the hand-pumps were dug led to excessive interaction between arsenic and water. When the villagers realised what had happened, instead of waiting for the government to act on it, they (physically) fixed their old wells and went back to an older, safer time. The best part? Even 95-year-old Dhanikram Verma joined in.

8. Pothanikkad - The village with a 100% literacy rate

Unsurprisingly in Kerala, Pothanikkad village was the first in the country to achieve a 100% literacy rate. Not only does the village boast of city-standard high-schools, but it also has primary schools and private schools. Guess the number of people the village has educated? Well, according to the 2001 census there are 17563 residents living in the village. The best part is that it answers the question.

9. Bekkinakeri - The village that rid itself of open defecation by 'greeting' lota-bearers

Bekkinakeri village in Karnataka has redefined the point of wishing someone a 'Good morning'. Frustrated with the practice of open defecation, the village council attempted to curb it by requesting people to not do so. When that didn't work, they stationed themselves early morning near 'popular' defecation sites and wished every perpetrator a very good morning. The trick worked! Too embarrassed to go on with their business, the openly defecating population has now stopped the practice completely.

10. Shani Shingnapur - A village so safe that people don't need doors

Shani Shingnapur, located in Maharashtra, is a village that defies every newspaper report you have ever read. Touted as the safest village in India, this place is known for its lack of doors to houses. Not just that, there is no police station in the village. And no, we are not making this up.

By the way, Shani Shingnapur has 'broken' another interesting record. The village has the country's first lockless bank branch (UCO bank) now.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Why dal prices have doubled

Why dal prices have doubled

Where does a 12% decline translate as 100% increase? In the bizarre world of India's food math. Production of pulses slipped down by 12% in 2014-15 compared to the previous year. 

As a result, prices of this essential item have zoomed up by more than 100% across the country. The government is scrambling to retrieve the situation, especially because an important election is being fought in Bihar and the festive season is just beginning. It's a kind of an onion moment - where merciless spikes in onion prices in the past led to political upheavals.

But why are pulses on fire? Here are the basics: India consumes around 23 million metric tons (MMT) of pulses. This is an aggregate of a variety of pulses including gram (chana), tur or arhar, mung, masur and urad. Pulses are the main source of protein for a very large number of people in the country - each 100 grams contains about 32 grams of proteins and several amino acids not made by the body. So, it is an essential part of Indian meals. Naturally, India is the largest producer and consumer of pulses in the world.

But India's production of pulses has stagnated at around 18-19 MMT for several years now. The shortfall between production and consumption is made up by imports, mainly from Canada, Myanmar and some African countries.

This balance has been maintained at a huge cost to the people. A population growing at the rate of about 2% per year in the past decade should have quickly overtaken the pulses rate of growth which was less than half of that. This has not happened because the amount of pulses consumed per person has relentlessly declined over the past several decades. From about 61 grams per person per day in 1951 to about 42 grams in 2013.

This year the balance has been rudely and dramatically upset. In 2014-15, production of pulses was clocked in at 17.4 MMT - a decline of 2.4 MMT or 12% over the previous year. This was caused by various factors including unseasonal rains, pests, and unprofitable prices for offered to farmers even as import duties were waived.

This decline appears to have been seized as an opportunity to make a quick killing by traders - both domestic and global. There are reports of pulses stocks lying in warehouses at ports as traders wait it out and allow shortages to pump up prices even more. And, exporters in touch with producers from Canada (mainly lentil or masur), Myanmar (mainly tur) and Australia (mainly chickpeas or Kabuli chana) have hiked up the rates because India is the biggest player in the pulses import market.

So, in 2014-15, India has imported 4.6 MMT pulses, up 31% compared to the previous year. International prices have risen in tandem from Rs 32 per kg to Rs 50 for chana, from Rs 56 to Rs 75 for lentil, from Rs 40 to Rs 90 for tur, and from Rs 50 to Rs 77 for urad between October 2014 and August 2015 according to the latest agriculture ministry profile.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Jesus before he became a white man

  • Retired medical artist recreated the face of a man, living at the same time and place as Jesus, using forensic techniques and passages from the Bible
  • Portrait shows the Son of God with a wide face, hazel eyes and a beard 
  • He is also depicted as having short curly hair and a tanned complexion 
  • The ‘reconstruction’ was based on three Semite skulls found in Israel
He may be shown as a Caucasian man with long, flowing light brown hair in many religious artworks, but Jesus would have likely had a darker complexion and short, dark, curly hair, a forensic expert claims.

Retired medical artist Richard Neave has recreated the face of ‘Jesus’ by studying Semite skulls using modern-day forensic techniques.

His portrait shows the Son of God may have had a wide face, dark eyes, a bushy beard and short curly hair, as well as a tanned complexion.

These features would likely have been typical of Middle Eastern Jews in the Galilee area of northern Israel.

Dr Neave stressed the portrait is that of an adult man living at the same time and place as Jesus, but some experts say his depiction is still likely far more accurate than paintings by the great masters.

Without a skeleton or remains that can be categorically confirmed as Jesus, and a lack of physical descriptions in the New Testament, many previous images have been based either on the society in which the painter or sculptor lived, or hearsay.

With this in mind, Dr Neave, formerly from the University of Manchester, used a technique called forensic anthropology as well as fragments of information from the Bible, to create the portrait that may resemble the religious figure, Popular Mechanics reported.

RBI wants banks to quickly and effectively pass on the reduction in RBI's key rates time to time to the end-consumer, which hasn’t been happening so far.

New base rate regime is a firm message from Rajan to banks: No more tricks on common man

The message from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) with the latest revision in the base rate methodology is very clear.
The central bank, under Raghuram Rajan, doesn’t want banks to play hide and seek any more when it comes to the transmission of policy signals infirm the banking system. In other words, the RBI wants banks to quickly and effectively pass on the reduction in RBI's key rates time to time to the end-consumer, which hasn’t been happening so far.
Raghuram Rajan. PTI
Raghuram Rajan. PTI
The central bank has cut its key lending rate by 125 basis points (bps) so far but banks haven’t passed on beyond 60-70 basis points. One bps is one hundredth of a percentage point.
The base rate system was introduced in July 2010 replacing the erstwhile benchmark prime lending rate (BPLR). Before this, banks were lending almost 70 percent of their loans below BPLR that raised questions on the very relevance of this benchmark.
Under the base rate regime, banks were not allowed to lend below the base rate. That brought in more transparency but didn’t solve the problem of lack of monetary transmission in the banking system. Base rates still didn’t reflect the intended signals from the RBI on interest rates, since banks still found a way to manipulate the final lending rate.
The main reason for this was banks were using their average cost of funds. This created distortions since the longer maturity deposits did not easily reflect the changes at the short end and hence banks were unable to pass on RBI rate cuts to the borrower using the average cost system. This is one reason even those banks with lower deposit rates were unable to cut their lending rates to the extent which the RBI has. Also, different banks used different buckets of deposits to calculate base rate.
This is where the RBI has now acted. It has directed banks to switch to marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR) under which, banks will have to calculate their base rate based on their marginal cost of funds as the name suggests. Marginal cost is calculated based on the latest rate payable on the current and savings deposits. But the final lending rate will include other components of spread to MCLR, which include the tenor premium of the particular loan.
The central bank is hopeful that the new system would make the RBI rate signals a meaningful action for the end-borrower. It should. As per the RBI’s plan, banks will review their base rates according to the new methodology and publicise it frequently. While the new borrowers will certainly benefit from the lower rates, even the existing borrowers too will have the option to move to this new base rate regime at the time of resetting the loan.
Does this mean any significant relief for home and auto loan buyers? Not really. As Firstpost has highlighted before, the overall decline in the home/auto loan EMIs will be a few hundred rupees even if the base rate moves a quarter basis points lower. Also, so far banks have been playing with the spread above the actual base rate to arrive at the final lending rate. But later, the RBI insisted that banks need to have board-approved policy to decide the components of spread.
Nevertheless, the central bank has sent a strong signal to the industry to instil transparency in the system.
Constant nudging
In the last one year, the RBI has been trying hard to convince the banks to substantially pass on the benefit of lending rate cuts to the customer by nudging them, even listing the need for effective monetary transmission as a prerequisite for further rate cuts. Banks did pass on part of the lower rates but not significantly.
In fact, in April this year, Rajan came down heavily on banks for not lowering their lending rates despite the RBI cutting its key rate substantially, citing that cost of funds have come down and banks’ argument for not lowering rate is non-sense. “Banks are sitting on money," Rajan said. "Their marginal cost of funds has fallen. The notion that it hasn't fallen is nonsense."
To be sure, banks’ reluctance to cut their lending rates was also due the high share of bad loans in their books, poor demand from corporate borrowers and their inability to lower their deposit rates on account of stiff competition from small savings schemes offered by the government.
While bad loans and poor demand continue, the government has promised to bring down the rate of small savings schemes to enable banks pare their deposit rates. With all banks moving to marginal cost of funds to decide base rate, this shouldn’t be much of a problem now for not lowering lending rate.
Rajan has had a tough time convincing banks to cut their lending rates taking the central bank’s rate signals. While the earlier belief that market competition will eventually force banks to lower lending rates didn’t work well, the RBI has now moved to use its last remaining tools to force banks follow the suit.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Why Washington Really Wants Assad to Go

This is Why Washington Really Wants Assad to Go
In this Sunday, July 26, 2015, file photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad delivers a speech in Damascus, Syria.

A ceasefire followed by a democratic (and internationally supervised) presidential election might seem like the best way to bring peace to Syria. Damascus and Moscow see it this way, but not Washington, investigative journalist Robert Parry asserted.

The US political establishment, particularly hardliners from both parties, does not want to see democracy in action in Syria since popular voting is unpredictable, meaning that there is a chance people will keep Bashar al-Assad in power.
Publicly, Barack Obama maintains that Assad has zero chances of being reelected but privately he might have reservations. At any rate, this is not a risk Washington is willing to take. "The US position is to bar Assad from the ballot, thus ensuring 'regime change' in Syria, a long-held goal of Official Washington's neoconservatives," the analyst noted.
This position is deeply engrained in Washington's psyche.  
"A key problem appears to be that the Obama administration has so demonized Assad and so bought into the neocon goal of 'regime change' that Obama doesn't feel that he can back down on his 'Assad must go!' mantra," Parry assumed.
In other words, the US president denies Syria's right to democracy because it does not suit Washington's needs.
"Democracy – supposedly one of the US government's goals for Middle East countries – can be the answer to the problem. However, since democracy can be an unpredictable process, it might not guarantee 'regime change' which apparently makes democracy an unsuitable solution for Syria," Parry lamented.
If this is indeed the case, then Washington has only two options when it comes to Syria: continue supporting rebels, who are fighting to overthrow al-Assad, or send ground troops to the war-torn country.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20151215/1031761936/us-syria-assad-democracy-elections.html#ixzz3uamedsEP

Monday, 14 December 2015

Bashar Al-Assad Has More Popular Support than the Western-Backed “Opposition”

Bashar Al-Assad Has More Popular Support than the Western-Backed “Opposition”: Poll
By Stephen Gowans
Global Research, December 14, 2015
What's Left 11 December 2015

Url of this article:

In the view of Syrians, the country’s president, Bashar al Assad, and his ally, Iran, have more support than do the forces arrayed against him, according to a public opinion poll taken last summer by a research firm that is working with the US and British governments. [1]

The poll’s findings challenge the idea that Assad has lost legitimacy and that the opposition has broad support.

The survey, conducted by ORB International, a company which specializes in public opinion research in fragile and conflict environments, [2] found that 47 percent of Syrians believe that Assad has a positive influence in Syria, compared to only 35 percent for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and 26 percent for the Syrian Opposition Coalition.

At the same time, more see Assad’s ally, Iran, as having a favorable influence (43%) than view the Arab Gulf States—which back the external opposition, including Al Nusra and ISIS—as affecting Syria favorably (37%).

The two Arab Gulf State-backed Al-Qaeda linked organizations command some degree of support in Syria, according to the poll. One-third believe Al-Nusra is having a positive influence, compared to one-fifth for ISIS, lower than the proportion of Syrians who see Assad’s influence in a positive light.

According to the poll, Assad has majority support in seven of 14 Syrian regions, and has approximately as much support in one, Aleppo, as do Al-Nusra and the FSA. ISIS has majority support in only one region, Al Raqua, the capital of its caliphate. Al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda franchise in Syria, has majority support in Idlip and Al Quneitra as well as in Al Raqua. Support for the FSA is strong in Idlip, Al Quneitra and Daraa.

An in-country face-to-face ORB poll conducted in May 2014 arrived at similar conclusions. That poll found that more Syrians believe the Assad government best represents their interests and aspirations than believe the same about any of the opposition groups. [3]

The poll found that 35 percent of Syrians saw the Assad government as best representing them (20% chose the current government and 15% chose Bashar al-Assad). By comparison, the level of the support for the opposition forces was substantially weaker:

• Al-Nusra, 9%
• FSA, 9%
• “Genuine” rebels, 6%
• ISIS, 4%
• National Coalition/transitional government, 3%

The sum of support for the opposition forces, 31 percent, was less than the total support for Assad and his government.

Of significance is the weak support for the FSA and the “genuine” rebels, the alleged “moderates” of which British prime minister David Cameron has improbably claimed number as many 70,000 militants. 

Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk has pointed out that if the ranks of the moderates were this large, the Syrian Arab Army, which has lost 60,000 soldiers, mainly to ISIS and Al-Nusra, could hardly survive. 

Fisk estimates generously that “there are 700 active ‘moderate’ foot soldiers in Syria,” and concludes that “the figure may be nearer 70,” closer to their low level of popular support. [4]

Sixteen percent of Syrians polled said that Moaz Al Khateeb best represented their aspirations and interests, a level of support on par with that for Assad. 

Khateeb, a former president of the National Coalition for Syrian and Revolutionary Forces—which some Western powers unilaterally designated as the legitimate government of Syria—called on Western powers to arm the FSA and opposed the designation of Al-Nusra as a terrorist group. The so-called “moderate” Islamist, who favors the replacement of secular rule with Sharia law, is no longer active in the Coalition or a force in Syrian politics.

Neither is the FSA a significant force in the country’s politics, despite its inclusion in the ORB survey. According to veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn, the FSA “largely collapsed at the end of 2013.” [5] Fisk says that the FSA is “virtually non-existent.” [6]

Assad has repeatedly challenged the notion that he lacks popular support, pointing to the fact that his government has survived nearly five years of war against forces backed by the most powerful states on the planet. It’s impossible to realistically conceive of the government’s survival under these challenging circumstances, he argues, without its having the support of a sizeable part of its population.

In a 11 December 2015 interview with Spanish media, Assad observed:

[I]f…the majority of…Syrians (oppose me) and you have…national and regional countries…against me, and the West, most of the West, the United States, their allies, the strongest countries and the richest countries in the world against me, and…the Syrian people (are opposed to me) how can I be president? It’s not logical. I’m…here after five years—nearly five years—of war, because I have the support of the majority of Syrians. [7]

Assad’s view of his level of support appears to be largely corroborated by the ORB poll.

The persistence of the myth that Assad lacks support calls to mind an article written by Jonathan Steele in the British newspaper the Guardian on 17 January 2012, less than one year into the war. Under a lead titled, “Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know it from western media,” Steele wrote:

Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that most Syrians are in favor of Bashar al-Assad remaining as president, would that not be major news? Especially as the finding would go against the dominant narrative about the Syrian crisis, and the media consider the unexpected more newsworthy than the obvious.

Alas, not in every case. When coverage of an unfolding drama ceases to be fair and turns into a propaganda weapon, inconvenient facts get suppressed. So it is with the results of a recent YouGov Siraj poll…ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go.

Steele reminds us that Assad has had substantial popular support from the beginning of the war, but that this truth, being politically inconvenient, is brushed aside, indeed, suppressed, in favor of falsehoods from US, British and French officials about Assad lacking legitimacy.

Steele’s observation that inconvenient facts about Assad’s level of support have been “ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go,” raises obvious questions about the independence of the Western media. 

Private broadcasters and newspapers are, to be sure, formally independent of Western governments, but they embrace the same ideology as espoused by key figures in Western governments, a state of affairs that arises from the domination of both media and governments by significant corporate and financial interests. 

Major media themselves are major corporations, with a big business point of view, and Western governments are made up of, if not always “in-and-outers” from the corporate world, by those who are sympathetic to big business.

Wall Street and the corporate world manifestly have substantial interests in the Middle East, from securing investment opportunities in the region’s vast energy resources sector, the construction of pipelines to carry natural gas to European markets (cutting out Russia), access to the region’s markets, and the sale of military hardware to its governments. 

Saudi Arabia, for example, a country of only 31 million, has the world’s third largest military budget, ahead of Russia [8], much of its spent buying expensive military equipment from Western arms manufacturers. 

Is it any wonder that Western governments indulge the Riyadh regime, despite its fondness for beheadings and amputations, official misogyny, intolerance of democracy, propagation of the violently sectarian Islamist Wahhabi ideology that inspires Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra and ISIS, military intervention in Bahrain to crush a pro-democracy uprising, and a war of aggression on Yemen?

The research firm also conducted a broadly similar poll in Iraq in July [9]. Of particular interest were the survey’s findings regarding the view of Iraqis on the possible partitioning of their country into ethno-sectarian autonomous regions. 

A number of US politicians, including in 2006 then US senator and now US vice-president Joseph Biden, have floated the idea of carving Iraq into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish states. 

Indeed, US foreign policy has long fostered the deepening of ethno-sectarian cleavages in Iraq, and US government officials have long labored to shape public opinion in the West to the view that Iraqis self-identify on tribal, sectarian, and ethnic grounds, to a far greater degree than they identify as Iraqis. 

If US government officials are to be believed, Iraqis themselves are eager to see their country split into ethno-sectarian mini-states.

But the ORB poll strongly rejects this view. According to the survey, three of four Iraqis oppose the partition of their country into autonomous regions, including majorities in both Sunni and Shiite communities. Only in the north of Iraq, where the Kurds already have an autonomous regional government, is there any degree of support for the proposal, and even there, only a slim majority (54%) is in favor.

Robert F. Worth, in a 26 June 2014 New York Times article [10], pointed to earlier public opinion polling that anticipated these findings. Worth wrote, “For the most part, Iraqis (with the exception of the Kurds) reject the idea of partition, according to recent interviews and opinion polls taken several years ago.”

US foreign policy favors the promotion of centrifugal forces in the Middle East, to split the Arab world into ever smaller—and squabbling—mini-states, as a method of preventing its coalescence into a single powerful Arab union strong enough to take control of its own resources, markets and destiny. 

It is in this goal that the origin of US hostility to the Syrian government, which is Arab nationalist, and to Iraqi unity, can be found. 

US support for Israel—a settler outpost dividing the Asian and African sections of the Arab nation—is also related to the same US foreign policy objective of fostering divisions in the Middle East to facilitate US economic domination of the region.Notes

1. http://www.opinion.co.uk/perch/resources/syriadata.pdf

2. http://www.opinion.co.uk/whoweare.php

3. http://www.opinion.co.uk/perch/resources/syriadatatablesjuly2014.pdf

4. Robert Fisk, “David Cameron, there aren’t 70,000 moderate fighters in Syria—and whosever heard of a moderate with a Kalashnikov anyway?”, The Independent, November 29, 2015

5. Patrick Cockburn, “Syria and Iraq: Why US policy is fraught with danger ,“ The Independent, September 9, 2014

6. Robert Fisk, “Saudi Arabia’s unity summit will only highlight Arab disunity,” The Independent, December 4, 2015

7. “President al-Assad: Russia’s policy towards Syria is based on values and interests, the West is not serious in fighting terrorists,” Syrian Arab News Agency, December 11, 2015, http://sana.sy/en/?p=63857

8. Source is The Military Balance, cited in The Globe and Mail, Report on Business, November 25, 2015

9. http://www.opinion.co.uk/perch/resources/iraqdata.pdf

10. Robert F. Worth, “Redrawn lines seen as no cure in Iraq conflict,” The New York Times, June 26, 2014
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Copyright © Stephen Gowans, Global Research, 2015