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Nic Freeman

Mist-veiled, ancient and peacefully picturesque, Scotland’s Isle of Skye is like a mystical forgotten land, chronicled in a dusty, leather-bound book. It is clear that nature rules there: stern peaks plunge into deep lochs with mighty authority; mist and cloud hover like a defensive old sage; and the wind whispers tales of the ages. It is place to revere, and a place where reflection comes easily as you stare out to the horizon.

Rainbow morning -  Isle of Skye, Scotland

We arrived in the afternoon after a slow drive through the aubergine moors and rocky slopes of the Scottish highlands. While the roads were narrow and winding, we welcomed time to admire the brute beauty around us.

Eilean Donan - castle - near Isle of Skye, Scotland

I was charmed by the sudden view of Eilean Donan, the famous Scottish castle perched at the junction of three steely grey lochs, like a tired queen on her watery throne. Somehow my castle-radar had missed her on the map…

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Questions for General V.K. Singh, COAS Indian Army

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The saga of the Chief of the Indian Army and his issues with the Government have become the one of the most hotly debated topics in the drawing rooms of India. Without going into much detail, as its probably one of the most popular topics in the media now a days, I would have loved to ask the Chief a few questions about his statements –

Q1 – In regards to your age row why did it become such a public issue even before it reached the Supreme Court ? Couldn’t you have just refused to discuss it with the media or with any retired officers of the Army who would then go an blurt out on your behalf in the print and electronic media ?

Q2- Why did you not give the full facts of the alleged bribe offered to you when you gave an interview ? Why did you give only half of the information ?

Q3 – Why did you give consent to General Suhag to become an Army Commander if you doubted his integrity ?

Q4 – Why did you accuse General Tejinder Singh of offering you a bribe and then not file a FIR against him ? Aren’t you a Government Servant ? Why did you have to accuse him in the media rather than in a Police Station ?

Q5 – Do you think your efforts to change the army and civil-military relations in the blaze of media attention rather than behind closed doors will make people more resistant to change and if no, why not ?

Q6 – Having publicly accussed previous Chief’s, Retired and Serving Generals aren’t you risking cementing factions within the army which is detremintal to the Unity of the Officer Corps of the Indian Army ?

Q7 – Do you agree with General VP Malik, former COAS’s assertion, that Generals should be very sensitive on how they deal with the media as it could be “double edged sword” ? If yes do you think you adhered to that thinking ?

Thank You,

Yours Sincerely

Gurvir Singh Dhillon

Governance Please – Jaswant Singh

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Governance Please – Jaswant Singh

An excellent article on the shenanigans of the Defence Minister and the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. Jaswant Singh is a retired Capitan as well as the ex Foreign Minister of the Indian Republic.

Death Penalty for Political Terrorists

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A lot of people in India especially the English Language Media are demanding to know why the Rajoana, Beant Singh’s assassins’s partner in crime, is not going to be executed on the 31st. They are demanding to know whether as per the sentence given would he be executed and if not is it because of politics of a particular state ?

I would like them to go nearly a century back in world history to the 1916 Easter uprising in Dublin. Till then a lot of Irish Catholics did not support the IRA. Most of the Irish Catholics supported the British State in the sense they wanted home rule with loose connections to London similar to the relationship which Australia, NZ, Canada had with the U.K. They supported the British Army as a lot of their brothers and sons were dying on the battlefields of France and Belgium for Queen and Country. So what changed their opinion ? After the uprising was put down a lot of Catholics still felt that the IRA were bunch of idiots raking up trouble when there was a World War on. However they started the process of changing their opinion within hours when the ringleaders were executed by firing squad. This was then exploited by the Republicans to generate more support for the Irish Republic.

So what does the Irish/British experience have to do with India ? Well if you inflame passions in Punjab by hanging Rajoana, or in Kashmir by hanging Afzal Guru you will give political space to the opponents of the Indian Union to exploit people’s opinion on such an issue and heighten a chance of further rebellion in these states. Thus if you want to preserve the Union of India in the long run you must pray that the government does not hang this lot.

Ale – My Dear Ale

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Like countryside and England, as per me, Beer and England are synonyms. The type of beer which is local to the British Isles is ale. Ale is brewed from malted barley using a warm fermentation or top fermentation process. There is a huge misconception that ales are warm beer. In reality this type of beer  is supposed to be served at cellar temperature i.e. the temperature at which the beer was fermented. Luckily for me i spent my 15 months in the ale capital of England i.e. Yorkshire. I got a chance to taste some excellent cask ales and here are some of my favourite ones.

1. York Brewery’s Guzzler – A lighter pale ale (ABV 3.6%) which is well balanced. York Brewery from the City of York, county town of the Historical Shire of Yorkshire , had not at that point hit the imagination of most of the traditional ale drinkers. However in my view this brewery is as good as, if not better, than the traditional ale powerhouses such as Black Sheep and Timothy Taylors.

2. Yorkshire Terrier – A traditional bitter from York Brewery. ABV 4.2 %. I personally would consider this as one of the best bitters available in Yorkshire. If i had to choose between bitters this would always be on the top of my mind.

3. Ilkley’s Lotus IPA – Indian Pale Ales were created so that beers could be transported to India during the colonial days and thus had to be hopped heavily. Traditionally IPA’s are strong but i have come across some weak one’s. This specific IPA has an ABV strength of 5.6% however is golden in colour and has got a fine citrus smell to it. As per their website its a seasonal beer. I had it only once, when it was a guest ale, at the Roundhay Fox, Leeds, in September or October of last year. That one time still holds a special place in my beer drinking heart. The brewery is located in the market town of Ilkley, a 25-30 minute train ride from the city of Leeds, which is itself worth a visit.

4. Leeds Best – The strength of this beer is 4.3 %. This is a traditional Yorkshire bitter with a hoppy finish. As the only remaining brewer in Leeds, due to Carlsberg making the “wise” decision to move the production of the iconic Tetley’s Cask Ale out of Leeds, it has the opportunity to become the drink of choice for the next generation of real ale drinkers in Leeds. I have never heard of anyone crib about this drink ever. Everyone who tastes it enjoys it !!!

5. Leeds Pale Ale – A light ale with a pale ale look it has a strength of 3.8%. A great sessions drink. In my honest opinion, if you are trying to convert someone from lager to ale or are trying out ale for the first time, this is the drink to choose. Its a great cross-over drink.

6. Timmy Taylor’s Golden Best – Timothy Taylor along with Black Sheep are two icons of the ale industry in  Yorkshire,  and as the best ale is from Yorkshire , i would suggest are also icons in the whole of England. The Golden Best is great sessions drink and has the creaminess of a regular bitter. Advertised as the last of the “true Pennine light milds” i have put this as my favourite from the Timmy Taylor’s stable, even above the iconic Landlord, as it has a unique taste. You get loads of good bitters and best bitters in Yorkshire but i cant think of anything which tastes like this one especially when its ABV is 3.5% only.

7. Black Sheep Best Bitter – As an icon of the brewing industry it has great offerings from the traditional Yorkshire Bitters to Best Bitters to Golden Ale’s. So what makes their Best Bitter better than their other offerings ? Well if you are in the mood of having a traditional strength hoppy bitter then you can go for a regular bitter and if you want something light then you may want to go in for their Golden Best. However if you want something which is hoppy but is more of a sessions drink this is the one to go for. Its ABV is just 3.8% but due to its hoppiness you may think its a wee bit stronger than that.

8. Theakston’s Mild Ale – A mild ale is beer which is malty. It uses different type of malts such as pale malt, crystal malt and black for body, flavour, taste and texture. This mild is dark in colour and is a great beer to enjoy after some rambling. Like the Lotus i have only had this once and it remains a powerful memory and is probably the best dark mild i have ever had.ABV is 3.5%.

9. Tetley’s Cask Ale: A lot of critics consider this to be ” a boring ale” with no complicated tastes.Well i don’t care. If you are in Leeds and don’t go through the Tetley’s experience then there is the River Aire for you. If you want to be a Leeds Man or a Woman you must try this drink. I can assure the readers that at one point of time i had more of this in my veins than my own blood. However it is important that it is served properly and its your responsibility to find a pub which serves a good pint of Tetley’s. The Highlands at Cavendish Street, between the casino and the students halls, is a great place to try a pint.

10. Double Maxim ( from the Double Maxim Beer Company) – This is a brown ale i.e. made from brown malts. A strong and malty beer its the only one on my list which is not from Yorkshire. This one is from Sunderland and unlike the Newcastle one is served as a Cask Ale. Its strong and yet is balanced and is a great drink for the months of October/November. The website states that it is 4.7% but why am i convinced it seemed more than that ?

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Sweet Mother

The below is a list of what happens in my brain for the next 31 minutes after I hit “publish” each and everyday.  Note:  I only have about 1 original thought per minute, the other thoughts within that minute are variations of the original-thesis thought for that correpsonding minute.

 

Min 1:  “Did my post suck today?  It’s been a minute and there is only one “like”.  Maybe it sucked.”

 

Min 2:  “It’s Sunday, people don’t read very many blogs on Sunday, that’s a low-views day according to my stats.”

 

Min 3:  “Oh, wait, it’s Monday.  Okay, that is also a low-views day – so is Tuesday and Wednesday and hold on…”

 

Min 4:  “I should’ve written about my Mom.  People like it when I write about my Mom or my Wifesy.”

 

Min 5:  “I don’t think I should’ve capitalized Mom in that last minute…

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Indo-Sri Lanka Ties

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A lot of critics have stated that India’s support for US sponsored resolution on the alleged war crimes was against India’s Strategic Interests.

http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/india-votes-against-lanka-un-resolution-on-war-crimes-adopted-188871 ( Link to the story)

Their main points of concern are :

1) India has lost the strategic space to China in Sri Lanka as it would be deemed as a closer and more trusted ally by Colombo. Thus domestic political constraints i.e Tamil politicians were considered more important than the larger national interest.

2) India traditionally has never voted in favour of country specific resolutions. This might come back to bite us on issues such as Kashmir,North East or the Maoist infested areas in Central,Eastern and Southern India.

3) We have stopped having an independent foreign policy and have given into the demands of the US.

I completely disagree with these points:

1) We cannot divorce local politics and ethnic kinship from our strategic aims. The fact is that Tamil Nadu State is the home base for the world’s Tamil population. They have concerns on the happenings to their kin in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka. Riding roughshod over their feelings could come back and bite India as they could feel that a majority of Indians especially the establishment does not understand their concerns about the situation. Thus it could lead to another ethnicity of India feeling alienated with the Indian Union. Smart and tactful diplomacy can ensure that we still retain influence in Colombo while trying to improve the lot of the Sri Lankan Tamils.

2) The concept of using principles in international relations, in my opinion, is a bit of bull. Diplomacy is based upon pragmatism. In spite of voting for country specific resolutions we can still ensure, due  to our increasing economic importance, that no anti-India resolution is passed. Secondly we need to improve our own Human rights records. Remember that persecution only increases support and if you don’t persecute people they will support you.

3) We still have an independent foreign policy. Voting for the US on a few issues does not mean that we have surrendered our sovereignty.

In conclusion, we voted the right way, not because it was the right thing to do ( there is no concept of right or wrong in International Affairs), but because it was in our own national interest to ensure that feelings of the Tamils are understood and taken care of.

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