North Indian temples in Kolkata and Singapore

A temple in Kolkata

I loved this temple in Kolkata. Quiet, well-maintained, it’s a welcome refuge from the world outside. Located on busy Diamond Harbour Road in Kidderpore, it’s an island of tranquillity. There is complete peace as you walk up the long flight of steps from the gate to the interior of the temple.

I was reminded of the Shree Lakshminarayan Temple at Chander Road in Singapore. It is bigger than the Lakshminarayan Temple and the architecture is different too. While the Lakshminarayan Temple is an ordinary-looking house standing on a quiet lane, this temple with its long flight of steps and high dome is clearly a Hindu religious building.

So why did it remind me of the Singapore temple? [Read more...]

The oldest school in Kolkata

St Thomas' School at Kidderpore in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta)

St Thomas’ School is the oldest in Kolkata, says the school website. The school was founded in 1789, just three decades after the British East India Company conquered Muslim-ruled Bengal. The British built the city of Calcutta (now called Kolkata), made it their capital, and extended their rule all across India. It was from Calcutta that Sir Stamford Raffles sailed to Singapore, reaching the island on January 29, 1819. The ship was an East Indiaman named Indiana. [Read more...]

New Year greetings from Kolkata

A lane in Kolkata

Here’s wishing everyone a happy New Year from Kolkata (formerly called Calcutta). Kolkata is a world removed from Singapore though only four and a half hours away by plane. There are still plenty of old buildings in the lanes and streets of Kolkata. Public buses and trains are overcrowded. So people want their own cars. And that adds to the congestion. Home to nearly five million people, Kolkata is almost as populous as Singapore, but with very little greenery, narrow, congested roads, it seems even more overcrowded. [Read more...]

BBC reports what I wrote on my blog

I just heard a BBC correspondent report what I wrote on my blog. Reporting from New Delhi, the BBC correspondent said some analysts and commentators have compared the protests following the death of a Delhi gang-rape victim to the stir over the death of a Tunisian hawker that led to the Arab Spring. I compared the protests in India to what happened in Tunisia.

I wrote that while the 23-year-old medical student gang-raped on a public bus in Delhi was undergoing treatment in a Singapore hospital. I did not know then news analysts and other commentators were also saying the same thing.

In fact, I was so scared after publishing that post that I removed it yesterday.  This is not a political blog. I don’t want to get into hot water. But the protests following the horrific rape, reported across the world, reminded me how the Arab Spring started. And so I wrote it. Now that the BBC has reported others have also drawn the same comparison, I have restored the post. The BBC correspondent must have read others who made that comparison; my blog could not have popped up on the BBC radar.

I have great respect for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the ruling Congress party leader, Sonia Gandhi. But people are naturally appalled by the brutal rape. The Indian armed forces, to their credit, have cancelled New Year’s Eve parties and others in India are also doing the same as a mark of respect to the young woman.

Twitter mourns Delhi gang-rape victim

The young Indian woman gangraped on a public bus in New Delhi died in a Singapore hospital. The news was posted on Twitter by the Straits Times.

Channel NewsAsia’s tweet came out about an hour later. That’s what the timestamps show on Twitter.

The 23-year-old Indian medical student died after organ failure, according to the doctors who were treating her at Mount Elizabeth Hospital. The Indian government, which sent her in an air ambulance to Singapore, is flying her back to New Delhi in a chartered flight with her grieving family.

Here is what people are saying in Singapore and India. [Read more...]

Indian in Singapore to avert Arab Spring?

The young Indian woman gangraped on a public bus in New Delhi is not only fighting for her own life in a Singapore hospital. The doctors who have put her on life support are also fighting for the Manmohan Singh government by proxy.

The Indian authorities flew her from a Delhi hospital to Singapore for better treatment because the protests that rocked the Indian capital after the horrific gang rape reflected the same anger as the Arab Spring. The convulsions that shook the Arab world started with the death of one man.
[Read more...]

Indian economic reforms for a few dollars more?

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s coalition government was reduced to a minority when the feisty West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress decided to pull out of the ruling coalition on September 18.  But the political crisis didn’t spook the market. The benchmark Sensex index of the Bombay Stock Exchange rallied and is on an upward curve.

Sensex Index of Bombay Stock Exchange

Sensex Index of Bombay Stock Exchange

The Indian rupee, too, is rising  against the dollar.

Indian rupee rising against US dollar

Indian rupee rising against US dollar

Is it likely that Manmohan Singh deliberately courted a political crisis to strengthen the Indian rupee and the market? [Read more...]

India gets Twitter to block accounts

The Indian government gets Twitter to block several accounts which were apparently not to its liking. Not all the accounts had anything with the Hindu-Muslim violence which, according to the government, was caused by hate messages on Twitter. Some of the accounts blocked parodied the tweets sent by the Prime Minister’s Office. Here Storified are reports, reactions and tweets from some of the accounts. The New York Times said: “The government, used to exerting significant control over media like newspapers, films and television, has in recent months been frustrated in its effort to extend similar and greater regulations to Web sites, most of which are based in the United States.” [Read more...]

India wants Twitter to block PM parody accounts

The ethnic violence in India has given the government a chance to settle scores with Twitter. It not only wants Twitter to delete the hate messages which led to the violence but also block accounts which spoof the Prime Minister’s office. The Times of India reports:

The sites that got PMO’s goat are parody accounts with similar sounding names like @PM0India (O has been replaced with a zero), @Indian_pm and @PMOIndiaa. Blocking the six accounts is seen as a warning that the government will not allow misrepresentation of a high office like PMO.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office uses the Twitter handle @PMOIndia.

The NDTV news channel reports:

The Prime Minister’s Office wrote to Twitter two months ago, asking that six accounts be blocked.

In other words, the government wanted the parody accounts blocked before the ethnic violence.

The Times of India adds:

A PMO official said the government was not overreacting. “We are fine with parody, even though at times it is in bad taste, and there is criticism of the government. But we cannot allow anyone to misrepresent the PM’s office and tweet nonsense from these accounts,” he said.

“The trigger for the latest move was when one of these accounts recently tweeted communally-sensitive statements aimed at inciting social strife,” said the official. Sources said ISPs have been roped in to block the accounts locally. Incidentally, several months ago, Twitter came out with a tool it claimed would allow it to block tweets or accounts on a country-basis.

A look at the sites shows they lack the finesse or biting humour of a popular takeoff on the PM like @dryumyumsingh, but do not seem to be currently posting vicious material – at least as of now. @dryumyumsingh may be left alone but others like @PM0India could be blocked.

Here Storified is what people are saying on Twitter. [Read more...]