Weekly Letter to President Obama
Copyright © 2010
ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
May 16, 2014
Mr. President: Mr. Modi is going to be the next Prime Minister of India. For his role in
the 2002 massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, where he headed the state government, he
was persona non grata in this country.
In his blog, he talks about having "to single-handedly focus all [his] strength ... on the
task of peace, justice and rehabilitation, burying [his own personal] pain and agony."
Yet like numerous politicians, his actions belie his words. A quarter of the victims still
remain displaced -- afraid to return and reclaim their property.
In an open letter last January, R. B. Sreekumar, a former D.G.P (Director General of
Police or Police Commissioner) appealed to Mr. Modi to stop his state government's
continued harassment of those senior officers who discharged their duties as
intended, to protect innocents from the ravages of organized thugs as evidenced by
India's Tehelka magazine expose'.
As Mr. Sreekumar observed, the violence occurred in the cities of Ahmedabad and
Valodara and 11 other police districts. Of the remaining 19 regions constituting
Gujarat, there was complete prevention in 11 districts and negligible casualties in 6
districts plus the cities of Surat and Rajkot. How could this happen? It was simply
effective neutral policing and a courageous stand by senior officers who refused to be
intimidated by, or collaborate with, the Hindu nationalist agents of Sangh Parivar.
These officers have been silenced by the state government through threats and
punitive treatment. Those like Mr. Rahul Sharma, the police superintendent of
Bhavagar district maintained their courage to testify, have paid dearly. Departmental
proceedings have been pursued against them and continue despite the charges
having been deemed without merit by the Central Administrative Tribunal.
On the other hand, the 7 Indian Administrative Service and 17 Police Service officers
who looked the other way facilitating the massacres, have been rewarded by plum
postings and post-retirement positions.
The least Mr. Modi can do now is to stop harassing the senior police officers who did
their job, in particular R. B. Sreekumar, Rahul Sharma and Sangeev Bhat, and others
whose actions saved hundreds if not thousands of lives. Surely, this is a bare
minimum before any serious dialogue ... unless we too are willing to look the other
On another subject, the Russia-based Genetic Safety Public Association (GSPA) has
conducted a modest, underfunded experiment in which one group of hamsters had
regular soy added to their regular feed while a second group had GMO soy added.
The latter group were unable to procreate a third generation. GSPA is now
assembling a team from the US, UK, France, China and Russia to replicate the
results. Progress will be posted online for anyone to follow. What of GMO foods if
the new expanded test confirms original findings?
At the same time, spurious studies are not uncommon: Among the most notorious is
surgeon Andrew Wakefield's 1998 paper in "The Lancet" claiming a link between the
MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and autism. It is a seriously flawed study
with a very small sample and no one was ever able to replicate the results. Later, Dr.
Wakefield lost his license to practice medicine when it was revealed he had been
hired by a lawyer to find evidence against the vaccine to abet a lawsuit. Yet, some
mothers are still refusing to have their children vaccinated, and measles is seeing a
resurgence. Would a campaign of public interest ads help?