I was always told by our MEA chaps that the best protocol in the business was the American state department. I had first knowledge of their clock work precision, they ensured VIP movement by the second and I mean by the second. The secret service was not to be outdone by any means; I was a part of the delegation of the Indian president in the mid nineties that was travelling to Brazil. We had a stopover in New York city. The entire Indian delegation was put up in the Waldorf with the president, who by any standards was a terrific human being; erudite, sophisticated and spectacularly down to earth. It was therefore a pleasure and privilege to accompany Mr Narayanan in his foreign travels. I have let me confess a poor traveller. But during the Waldorf stay I desperately wanted to trace a child hood mate. Satindar Sood had played for the Indian school boys cricket team, and had been a kind of chaperone when I was a kid. He tried his best to make me take up cricket but my heart form the beginning was always in long distance running, but I did not mind playing for the school cricket team. I do know a little about cricket, but have always tried keep my eyes on the ball, be it a doosra or a googly, that are thrown at you by the dozens each day in current India. That evening in the Waldorf all I remembered was Satindar’s residence, which I provided those big secret service guys. True to form one big guy got back to me in less than 15 minutes with confirmation that my mate was rocking in New Jersey along with his telephone number. I most certainly was impressed by the secret service dude who probably had some inflated impression of my status, Look I was merely Mr Narayan’s cardiologist. I mention this incident because I have witnessed the precision of American protocol, to be a part of the motorcade from the Waldorf to the airport without a single hitch cannot be described, let me underline that unlike the Delhi police there was not a single road block, and yet the motorcade arrived on the tarmac on time without a second’s delay. Why do I remember those times? It’s because of Mr Imran Khan’ visit to the US this week. I am a full blooded Indian without any emotional baggage for Pakistan whatsoever. Yet I am filled with a tinge of sorrow that the prime minister of a sovereign nation travelled to the US as an ordinary passenger in a foreign airline only to be welcomed by not a single US state department official. From the aircraft the honourable prime minister was compelled to take a shuttle till the airport building. Thats taking matters to an unimpressive extreme. Obviously the Donald is more than annoyed with our neighbour, He has already blocked the billion dollar annual military aid, and now this. While Mr Trump in his unrehearsed speech declared he would if he wanted decimate the entire region of Afghanistan in a mere 10 days, an almost shrunken Mr Imran Khan sat in stoic silence. He almost looked both terrified and exceedingly helpless because he basically had come for some badly financial aid. He dis not then in Mr Trump’s presence or any time later till today expressed any discomfort.But then he primarily gone for some badly needed financial assistance. Pakistan is an a dire state of affairs, but yet Mr Khan had to have his “Something Stupid “. Originally a song best known by Frank and Nancy Sinatra. Its a great song that I strongly recommend you listen to. However Mr Khan’s “something stupid “ moment was not that “ I love you” but that incorrigible “K” word in public. Yes the retired cricketer could not refrain from Kashmir. Here he is almost pleading for money from any and every quarter but the bedrock of all his country’s woes is Kashmir. 50% of Pakistani children are stunted, polio stays endemic but all that Mr Khan can focus on is Kashmir and building a champion cricket team for the next world cup. It is obvious that his excellency is missing the wood for the trees, our rather for the fiscal bailout. Whats with these cricketers active or retired?
Then we have this manifestly little educated retired spinner who tweets about flags with moons and moons with flags. You cannot get more boorish or graceless than this clown. These puny mavericks are making a terrific pitch at persisting in public space whilst pronouncing they are now ready for a Lok Sabha or a Rajya Sabha ticket. Why would you talk about a moon landing while the spaceship is still in the earth’s orbit. Someone has to tell this doosra genius that there are far more slips in this trajectory than in an IPL cricket match. Chandryaan 2 still to travel to the moon’s gravitational field and finally descend on its south pole; that the last 15 minutes will be nail biting for the brilliant scientists of ISRO, who mercifully carry on with the mission minus the slightest hint of idiocy, it is probity, diligence, and hard work all the way. The descent is more than a breath taking month away. The celebrations should by all logic kept in abeyance till then. All of us must pray for the success of the mission with all our might.
Even as I write there are thousands of hospital emergencies in this country being maned by the most junior doctors, who right now must be saving thousands of lives by treating a compound fracture, a heart attack, a heart failure, an epileptic fit, a traffic accident victim and so on. Remember that young doctor saves not only a breadwinner, but without being conscious of it prevents some one becoming a widow or an orphan. The best “cover drive”, or the “ball of the century” or the most humongous six cannot match a single life salvaged. So get a grip dear readers, begin confronting reality, continuously question all that is hurled around and at you.
Do read Mr Kulkarni’s piece on Gandhiji’s sacrifice for muslims and Pakistan in todays Dawn; he also dilates on Mr Jinnah’s love for the city of Bombay and the house he built there. Of the 14 meetings that Gandhiji and Mr Jinnah had to try to avoid the great partition; all to no avail as matters turned out. The thrust of the article is that we should pay heed to these 2 titans of the subcontinent. My take at the risk mom being lynched is quite different. For how long will we look back for pure common sense. Two countries with around 2500 miles of common border; for how long more will be at each others throat? For how much longer will we mistrust one another and hurl abuses at each other. Maybe the status quo suits many parties, which includes politicians, bureaucrats and the military. It is imperative that we stop looking for guidance and light from people, however noble and exalted, of the past. If we have the brains to launch we should be able to tackle this monstrous animosity that serves absolutely no purpose.
Is it not ironical that the Americans have finally ended the billion dollar war and murder pocket money to the Pakistanis while they winked and looked the other for decades whilst Pakistan accumulated hundreds of nuclear bombs pointed at New Delhi. I doubt if any major Western newspaper was startled enough to take up the “Deception” seriously. No one whispered a single voice of alarm as the Pakistanis merrily enriched uranium for their missiles and bombs. The works is constantly changing before our very eyes. Populist leaders are taking over with a vengeance. The US has the Donald, who shall win the next election too, the Tories have elected a bluster of a man with a trail of disasters behind him as the prime minister of the United Kingdom, a man with total disdain for integrity, and Brazil has Bolsonaro.
The United States is indeed an incredible country by whichever angle you look. But for heavens sake keep them out from Kashmir. Little does Mr Khan know that for years apart from permitting his country to weaponise itself to the very lethal brim, American scientists were for decades also weaponising any insect they could get their hands on. They would inject mosquitoes, fleas and even ticks with every imaginable bacteria or virus to deliberately spread disease in what was considered enemy population. Kennedy did not flinch from dropping thousands and thousands of insects carrying incapacitating bacteria over Cuba. Plum Island in New York was one such centre where a corkscrew shaped bacteria was probably injected into ticks, the ticks would bite a human and introduce the corkscrew shaped bacteria in the persons blood system. Initially there would be flu like symptoms accompanied by a rash on the body that in many cases appeared like a bulls eye target. There would be joint pains for months that could be crippling and in 10 to 15% cases there could even be heart disease such as heart blocks or neurological disease such a nerve paralysis and meningitis. The chronic form may be due to lingering molecule in the bacterial cel wall eliciting an immune response ( Proc of National Academy sciences USA jury 2, 2019).The disease was called “Lyme’ because it was recognised first in the township of Lyme, and the first scientist to discover the bacteria was Willy Burgdorfer ( Swiss American) in the early nineteen eighties. Burgdorfer became a celebrated and much applauded scientist who gathered numerous International awards. But towards the end of his life he revealed that he along with other scientists had worked for years in developing the technique of infecting ticks with the Borrelia burgdorfer bacteria ( this is on video record). That the bacteria was not a natural occurring one, nor an off shoot of environmental change, but specifically engineered in a secret military bioweapons lab for the specific aim of incapacitating humans. Today almost 400,000 suffer from Lyme disease in the US alone accounting for huge burden of morbidity. Antibiotics are effective but treatment for the chronic version is yet to be established. This bioweapon programme and Burgdorfer’s role is described in riveting detail in Kris Newby’s book “Bitten; The Secret History of Lyme disease and Biological Weapons.” The book has been taken seriously by the American House of Representatives to call for an investigation by the department of defence whether such a sector program existed in the fifties to the seventies and whether the disease was sparked by accident release of weaponised ticks or deliberately. Interestingly a series of cases of Lyme diesel were reported from Haryana in the “Indian journal of dermatology, venereology and leprology in 2014; 80:320-323.” The authors wondered as to how and where did the disease suddenly appear in Haryana.
I cannot emphasise enough that winning the ODI World Cup should be considered a far greater achievement than beating Pakistan( about that some other day), but a life saved by one junior doctor in the Emergency is still far far better. Moreover I am sure it is time to end 70 years of toxic albeit needless hostilities; quoting Gandhiji or Mr Jinnah in essays printed in the dailies of the subcontinent are now quite redundant, as Mao would have said actions and not words or essays are infinitely more effective.So dear readers we ought to begin becoming discerning at the earliest, the world is not what it seems by any means. The responsibility lies with us, not with jingoistic superpatriotism but a calibrated and sensible approach. As for the Yanks, they can, when it suits them weaponise ticks or Pakistani missiles aimed at New Delhi. Also currently they do not seem to be too impressed by cricketers. There is no inswinger nor an outswiger any longer, everything is slowly but surely swinging to right, so keep both your eyes on the ball and play with a straight bat.