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Indonesians being carted away for trial.

By Tania Bhattacharya

Throughout the Cold War, the two opposing power blocs of the Soviet Union and the United States, had sought to expand their spheres of influence through direct and proxy methods with a view to bringing as much of humanity as possible, under their respective wings. The Soviet Union’s meddling may have been as annoying as the US’, however, the Russians tried to offset their deleterious manoeuvrings by making constructive contributions to the nations they were targeting. Had it not been for Soviet and Cuban influence and military aid, many colonized countries in sub-Saharan Africa may have never lived a day under national sovereignty. Well-documented accounts exist of Cuban-Soviet contributions in the decolonizing of Angola, Congo, and Namibia. Fighting against the prevailing odds, in circumstances where American-backed apartheid regimes in South Africa and Zaire were attempting to restrain self-determination in subjugated African colonies, Congo, Angola, and Namibia, had rid themselves of their west European colonial masters.

The resurgence of a saffron wave in India may have bolstered the underlying anti-Left sentiments of the Indian populace; but it remains a historical fact, that the man responsible for moving the motion for India’s independence from Great Britain, Prime Minister Clement Attlee, was someone who was a leading figure of the British Labour Party, an organization with a Leftist outlook on political and social affairs.

Most of us can associate the US administration with Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, and Iraq, where the country fought conventional wars with the locals. Few though can do so pertaining to Syria, Indonesia, and Guatemala.


In 1967, in a BBC interview, CIA agent Miles Copeland admitted, that the organization had been attempting regime change in Syria, for a long time. The balkanization of the country and indeed the entire Middle East, was a policy goal of the United States, whose beneficiaries would be the US and its West Asian ally, Israel. By creating social unrest and civil war in West Asian societies, which were peaceful, if not content, under self-rule; America could then prop up its own puppet premiers to rule the disparate entities that would have emerged from the disintegration of the mother state. With this aim in mind, regressive Islamist political outfits like the Muslim Brotherhood, were patronized and funded by the CIA.

Miles Copeland in the BBC interview where he owned up.

Copeland tells us, that Husni al Zaim, a Syrian army commander, had sought US help in dismantling the stable Syrian regime of Shukri Quwaiti, who had been the Syrian head-of-state, following the liberation of that country from French rule. King Abdullah of Jordan, has been a long-time, trusted ally of the CIA. Whenever the latter has wanted to ship arms to the forces it shores up, Jordan volunteers for the onus of routing those arms. Once Muammar Gaddafi – the West’s bete noir – had been removed from power in 2011, the US Secret Service transferred the arms found in the late dictator’s arsenal, to Syria. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has reported on the US administration’s dealings with Islamist forces in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar; which were instrumental in funnelling weapons to the Islamist anti-Assad forces inside Syria.

Recruits have poured in from far-flung places like Afghanistan, and even Europe, not to mention Turkey, which despite being a NATO ally, has an Islamist President – Erdogan – at the helm. American neo-Conservative Senator John McCain, had successfully attempted the feat of entering Syria without a passport to meet the CIA aided rebels who were furthering the American cause. Aleppo’s FSA – Free Syrian Army – under the garb of ‘democratizing’ their motherland, had been recruiting foreign Jihadists to fight for the cause of toppling Assad. It is now known, that by 2012, the CIA had firmly established a base of operations in Turkey, from where they could access Syrian rebels, by using Turkey’s border with Syria.

McCain with Syrian rebels of the FSA in Aleppo.

The CIA has set up an intelligence service for the FSA and has been providing them with satellite imagery of the movement of Syrian troops. US interest in the balkanization of Syria, began way back in the late 1940s, after the democratically elected Syrian parliament, refused American suggestions of opening oil pipelines in their country. According to an official US government document released in 2012, Islamist forces like the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda, are at the forefront of deposing Assad, with the intention of effecting a Salafist regime in Syria, which will, undoubtedly, be helped to power, by the ‘benevolence’ of the United States.


One of the Cold War’s greatest strategies, was to defame, and decimate, the Communist Party of Indonesia. Indonesia’s President Sukarno, its first Premier after the country was decolonized from French rule, had sworn in Suharto as a cabinet member with no inkling of what was to follow. But why was Indonesia important enough for the United States? John Rossa, who is an Associate Professor of History at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, has written a seminal tome on the significance of Indonesia in the US scheme of things, and why bringing the country into the American orbit, was sought on a war-footing. Indonesia has the world’s fourth largest population. Back in the day, it’s Communist Party or KPI, was the world’s third largest Communist Party, right behind its counterparts in China, and the Soviet Union.

Summary executions in Indonesia’s killing fields of KSI members.

When US pilot Allen Pope had been apprehended by Indonesian security, while he was bombing Indonesian civilians under orders from his government, with the agenda of destabilizing the rule of democratically-elected President Sukarno, the CIA had been forced to cease its operations in the country. But it would resume its untoward activities, there, soon after.

A 1966 New York Times article monikered ‘A Gleam Of Light’ and penned by American journalist James Reston, opined “The savage transformation of Indonesia from a pro-Chinese policy under Sukarno to a defiantly anti-communist policy under General Suharto is the most important of these [hopeful] developments. Washington is being careful not to claim any credit … but this does not mean Washington had nothing to do with it.”

He had been referring to the 1965 purge of the KSI by President Suharto. It is estimated that more than one million Indonesians, including civilians, government officials, and members of the armed forces, had been interned, brutally tortured, and executed, on charges of treason. They were indicted – sometimes falsely – for collusion with the KSI, and imprisoned. Indonesia’s KSI was, unlike the Marxists of Vietnam, a legitimate and peaceful entity, that had developed a following among the people through a hands-on approach to social and economic issues.

President Suharto.

It was only following the KSI mass murders, that President Suharto would assume power in Indonesia, as a US-installed ruler. The Americans must have patted themselves on the back. After all, it was going to be their one and only successful regime change, in East Asia.


Long before the Iran-Contra scandal, and the rise of the Sandinista to power, the South American nation of Guatemala, had deposed its cruel dictator in 1944. The new government was a nationalist one, much like the current Indian administration. Its policy was aimed at self-sufficiency in the economic sector, much as India’s Modi has been advocating his ‘Make In India’ over the past half decade. Guatemala’s self-contained economic success, and rapid advocacy of social reforms, had been found unsettling by the hawks in Washington. US President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Director of Central Intelligence Agency, Allen Dulles were near-hysterical at the progress Guatemala was making. A memorandum produced by the CIA in 1952, stated that what was happening in Guatemala, was “adverse to US interests” because of the “Communist influence…based on militant advocacy of social reforms and nationalistic policies.”

President Sukarno.

Meanwhile, the US Capitalist venture, the United Fruit Company – which continues to carry on under the name of Chiquita Brands International – had virtual monopoly over the banana trade in the Caribbean and Latin America. It’s impact on the politics of the region, gave rise to the axiom of ‘banana republic’. With an eye to protecting US interests in South America, especially the well-performing United Fruit Company – which incidentally had been mistreating its workers – America supported dictatorships in Guatemala, for four decades. These dictators have been responsible for genocide of the indigenous Mayan Native Americans of that country. It is believed that more than two hundred thousand innocent civilians have been murdered, not only in cases where they opposed their US installed leaders, but also when they had little to do with activism. US interference and regime change in the country, has led to Guatemala being called ‘America’s backyard’.

Efraim Montt with President Reagan.


US interest in Guatemala has been documented under the previous section, but what is less discussed, is, its ally and friend, Israel’s, presence in the South American state. Since the 1980s, Israel has provided intelligence and military aid to the ruling dictatorships of Guatemala. This was formally acknowledged by former ruler Efrain Rios Montt. He spoke fondly of the forces that had helped him come to power in 1982. The said military coup had received surreptitious aid from Israeli intelligence. In the book Dangerous Liaisons: The Inside Story Of The US-Israeli Covert Relationship, Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, have quoted Israeli Lieutenant Colonel Amatzai Shuali as saying “I don’t care what the Gentiles do with the arms. The main thing is that the Jews profit.” Shuali was an advisor to the Guatemalan dictatorship.

CIA director Allen Dulles.

Under the Carter administration, aid to Guatemala’s ruler was restricted. This was done after several allegations of grave Human Rights violations had surfaced. In the scenario, Israel had found a ripe opportunity to make its presence felt in the South American country, with an eye to fill its own coffers. This was unabashedly stated by Yaakov Meridor, who was the Israeli Economic Minister, in the early 1980s. Wherever the Americans were hesitant to exert their influence through political geography, and weapons technology, Israel was willing to step in. Meridor’s exact words were “We will say to the Americans: Don’t compete with us in Taiwan; don’t compete with us in South Africa; don’t compete with us in the Caribbean or in other places where you cannot sell arms directly. Let us do it … Israel will be your intermediary.”

Yaakov Meridor.

Indeed, Israeli war technology was not being used for the first time, when it helped the Guatemalan dictator retain power. Israel had already displayed what it was capable of doing in terms of proxy damage, during the internecine

Lebanese Civil War, that had lasted from 1975 till 1990. Among the factions that were party to the internal disintegration of Lebanon, was the Christian Phalangists, lead by the Maronite militia commander Bashir Gemayel. Soon after his assassination, the Israeli military had occupied southern Lebanon, in a bid to avenge the murder, a time during which, it actively aided and abetted the infamous Sabra and Shatila massacres of helpless Muslim Palestinians, in downtown Beirut.

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It seems the Guatemalan top brass had been impressed with Israel’s ‘performance’ in war-torn Lebanon. Israel’s liaison with Guatemala dates back to the 1960s. Since then, it has contributed military intelligence, weaponry and political advice to the junta that remained in power in the Latin American nation, treating the beneficiary nation’s Mayan natives, as it treats its Palestinian citizens back home; as vermin, worthy of exploitation, and ultimate creaming. Ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt, otherwise a genocidal war criminal, was one of the beneficiaries. Guatemalan citizens, rightfully harbour a deep resentment for Israel, because they relate it with their own decades old misfortune.

What lesson does the expansionist hubris of the world’s only superpower, and its strategic buddy, Israel, have for India? Of late, India has swerved Right to an extent, where India’s foreign relations with both these powerful nations have made us blind to the pitfalls of courting them, incessantly. The US with its changing global interests, had once been an ally of our north-western neighbour, Pakistan. After 9/11, Pakistan was left in the lurch, and the latter had to find out the hard way, that it was never a wife, but a mere, one-time mistress of the mighty US. India would be advised to avoid such a loss of face. Forging a comradeship between fellow nations with similar interests, like Russia, Iran, and Brazil, would be an intelligent move. As proved time and again, History does not forgive those who ignore its lessons.



The new master plan extends from the Ring Road

The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is setting up industrial corridors along both sides of Lucknow-Faizabad-Gorakhpur four-lane national highway within the 65 km periphery of the Ayodhya Development Authority's (ADA) jurisdiction.

The industry hub, spread over 100 acres, will form part of Ayodhya Master Plan-2031 that is being prepared by the ADA.

According to ADA Vice Chairman Vishal Singh, the master plan is expected to be finalised next month and will be sent for state government's approval.

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The weather department has warned of more rains issuing a red alert

The Singara or Beautiful Chennai turned into Venice with roads waterlogged and several homes getting inundated owing to the heavy rains that poured throughout Friday night and Saturday morning.

The rains and the subsequent inundation have put normal lives out of gear in the city.

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The weather department has warned of more rains issuing a red alert for several districts including Chennai, one of the smart cities.

More than 20 districts in Tamil Nadu experienced continuous rains.

The government has declared a holiday for educational institutions in 23 districts on Saturday.

Several localities in Chennai went under water and subways have been closed for traffic due to flooding.

Traffic has been diverted in several places due to waterlogged roads.

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In the districts, several acres of paddy fields went under water damaging the crops.

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Gods and Ends takes up multiple threads of individual stories to create a larger picture of darkness

Nothing like being curled up on a winter evening with a warm cup of coffee and good read. While there are many books to pick from here's a list of the latest offerings across publication houses.

Gods and Ends by Lindsay Pereira

Gods and Ends by Lindsay Pereira is in the JCB Prize for literature 2021 shortlist. An intriguing debut with Lindsay's biting sense of humour and quirky voice. Part of the attraction lies in its unconventional form and structure. Philomena Sequeira knows what she wants by the time she turns fourteen. Her father wants something else. Life is unyielding for the tenants of the rundown Obrigado Mansion in Orlem, a Roman Catholic parish in suburban Bombay. They grapple with love, loss and sin, surrounded by abused wives and repressed widows, alcoholic husbands and dubious evangelists, angry teenagers and ambivalent priests, all struggling to make sense of circumstances they have no control over.

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Gods and Ends takes up multiple threads of individual stories to create a larger picture of darkness beneath a seemingly placid surface. It is about intersecting lives struggling to accept change as homes turn into prisons. This is a book about invisible people in a city of millions, and the claustrophobia they rarely manage to escape from.

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Pride, Prejudice And Punditry: The Essential Shashi Tharoor

There are ten sections in the book, each devoted to a particular topic. 'In the Company of Giants' looks at some of the most important figures of modern Indian history; 'Into the Maelstrom of Indian Politics' contains work on the Indian political scene; 'Our Unruly World' covers international relations and diplomacy; 'The Hindu Way' examines various aspects of the faith; 'Musings of a Cricket Tragic' includes some of his finest writing on the sport; 'You Cannot Be Serious!' is a light-hearted take on sundry matters; 'Fragments of an Autobiography' has poignant essays about his parents and an evocative look at his Kerala heritage; 'The Spoken Word' is a selection of his most famous speeches; 'The Writerly Life' comprises ruminations on writing and writers; and 'Selected Fiction and Poetry' showcases his masterpieces of fiction and poetry.

This book will give those new to the author's work a panoramic view of the range and depth of his writing. Long-time fans will find fresh material to delight them as also ageless pieces that continue to enchant. Dazzling, inventive, and exuberant, Pride, Prejudice, and Punditry present readers with the essential work of a literary genius.

Publisher: Aleph Book Company

Pivots For Career Success: Unleashing People Power By R. Gopalakrishnan And R. Srinivasan

People relations are the agate mortar on which the pestle of management excellence is ground. There is a liquid part and a solid part in converting metal into gold in alchemy. In management, the solid is the body of explicit knowledge and techniques taught in programs and institutes, while the liquid is about excelling in human relationships.

R. Gopalakrishnan and R. Srinivasan, blood brothers some six years apart, have real experience of what it takes to clamber up the slippery grease poles of corporate careers, having risen in their companies to the CXO suite. Together, this experience represents a cauldron of valuable lessons of experience. In the process, they have developed a distinctive view of business careers and leadership.

In Pivots for Career Success, Gopal and Srini bring together a subaltern view of the subject as also a high-level view from the hot, dusty environment of markets and factories to the dizzying heights of well-carpeted board rooms. They have written separately and independently based on their distinctive experiences but argued and shared thoughts frequently over lively conversations.

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Bound by Love by Nityanand Charan Das

Love is the most mystical feeling. "It makes us laugh, it makes us cry. It showers with nectar, the heart that is dry." And this feeling finds its culmination in the loving yet the esoteric bond between the Supreme Lord and His devotees.

'Bound by Love' explores that bond and takes us through a plethora of emotions. There is love, adventure, drama, suspense, a test of faith, surrender and much more! Above all, it makes us realise the enchanting sweetness of the Supreme, in a world where most people are only enamoured by or aware of His greatness. There are inspiring, true stories of hope, both contemporary and ancient, which more than being just entertaining, will provide solace to our suffering hearts, especially in these troubled times. No matter who we are, at every moment, we are being tested even if we are on a divine path. Sometimes we pass and sometimes we fail, losing ourselves in the process. Grace coupled with effort, humility as against false ego, enthusiasm along faith and patience is what we all need to survive to sail through and survive.

Publisher: Birch Books

Furrows in a Field by Sugata Srinivasaraju

Veteran journalist Sugata Srinivasaraju's Furrows in a Field explores with critical insight and sympathy the exceptional life of H.D. Deve Gowda in regional and national politics. It examines his federal commitment; his deep knowledge of irrigation, agriculture and constitutional law; his secular steadfastness, and unassuming interventions in matters of national importance.

The Incomparable Festival by Mir Yar Ali Khan 'Jan Sahib'

The Incomparable Festival (Musaddas Tahniyat-e-Jashn-e-Benazir) by Mir Yar Ali (whose pen name was Jan Sahib) is a little known but sumptuous masterpiece of Indo-Islamic literary culture, presented here for the first time in English translation. The long poem, written in rhyming sestet stanzas, is about the royal festival popularly called jashn-e-benazir (the incomparable festival), inaugurated in 1866 by the Nawab Kalb-e-Ali Khan (r. 1865-87) with the aim of promoting art, culture and trade in his kingdom at Rampur in northern India. The task of commemorating the sights and wonders of the festival was given to the hugely popular writer of rekhti verse, the tart and playful sub-genre of the ghazal, reflecting popular women's speech, of which Jan Sahib is one of the last practitioners.

Structured as an ode to the nawab, the poem is a world album depicting various classes on the cusp of social upheaval. They include the elite, distinguished artists and commoners, brought together at the festivities, blurring the distinction between poetry, history and biography, and between poetic convention and social description. The book is a veritable archive of the legendary khayal singers, percussionists, and instrumentalists, courtesans, boy-dancers, poets, storytellers (dastango) and reciters of elegies (marsiyago). But, above all, the poem gives voice to the 'lowest' denizens of the marketplace by bringing to light their culinary tastes, artisanal products, religious rituals and beliefs, and savoury idioms, thereby focusing on identities of caste and gender in early modern society.

This Penguin Classics edition will be of interest not just to the Urdu and Hindi literary historian, but to specialists and readers interested in the histories of music, dance, and the performative arts, as well as scholars of gender and sexuality in South Asia. Lovers of Urdu poetry will find in it a forgotten masterpiece.

Publisher: Penguin Random House

3 & The Emerald Stone of Irene by Vinod Raman

A legend for many, a bedtime story for a child; but the Occult Stone that Empress Irene gifted Harun-al-Rashid during his conquest of Byzantium in 782 AD, the stone with the light of fortune, referred in history as Noor-e-Abbasid, lies deep-buried at an ancient, unearthed desert city Al-Rafika.

With every common man pushing Al-Rafika as one of the stories from the Scheherazade's Arabian Nights, the legend reaches a flashpoint, when 3 high profile assassinations sweep the world. The only common link between the killings was a glittering golden arrow found near them. The Order of the Nine Angles, a dangerous neo-Nazi Satanic Organization, has set itself in the quest of the stone, to accomplish its greatest dream - The New World Order.

As the dark horses of terror start riding across the world, an adventurer, a historian and a spy come together to unearth a deadly macabre of events. Battling the Berbers of Tunisia, to the cryptic and perilous Caucasus Mountains, through the necropolis of Turkey, to the mystics of the Tigra, and then finally to Al-Rafika, the '3' follow the deadly trait unravelling the marvels of the glorious Islamic Caliphate, to stop the dark lord, Nergal, and his mission of a Global Ragnarok.

Vipassana by Shonali Sabherwal

Do you wish to sharpen your awareness? Train your mind to observe your thoughts and emotions Bestselling author Shonali Sabherwal's latest book is for anyone looking to start meditating. With a detailed guide and a focus on Vipassna, it shows you how to control the highs and lows in life and take charge of your happiness. It teaches you how to occupy a state of equanimity and be present in the moment through an ancient technique used by the Buddha for enlightenment. Lift yourself up on this journey from misery to happiness, from defilement to purity, from bondage to liberation and from ignorance to enlightenment. Turn your life around through Vipassana.

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Second Meals by Celebrity Chef Davinder Kumar

All the recipes in this book have been written in a manner that makes it easy to follow. Each recipe has been tried out personally to ensure that it is accurate and perfect. To make preparation simple/easy, the ingredients in this book have been listed in the order in which they are to be used. All weights are net, not gross. If the recipe says 100 gms chicken it implies the weights of the ingredients after clearing and deboning. Similarly, any vegetable that is required should be weighed after clearing, washing and cutting.

Each recipe yields one portion and is sufficient to be served as a main course or single dish besides accompaniments, i.e. salad, chutney. A full portion can be easily shared by more persons depending upon the menu.

Each preparation has its own distinctive taste, not only because of the different textures of the meat but also because of the varying fragrances of different combinations of spices in the marination. The quantities are mentioned in gross, tablespoon, teaspoon, and cups.

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