The Case of Judge Loya

Screenshot 2017-12-28 09.46.17

Gleaner column, Nov 30, 2017

In India, a case with potentially sinister undertones has divided media. The death of High Court Judge BH Loya in December 2014 is raising questions about the integrity of the judiciary and the political machinery of the country. If what is suspected is found to be true it implicates the Chief of the ruling party, BJP President, Amit Shah.

On November 26, 2005, a man in his thirties named Sohrabuddin Sheikh was gunned down by a team of police in Gujarat in what is known in India as an ‘encounter’ killing. Essentially a form of extra-judicial killing of people in their custody, Indian police are known to eliminate suspected criminals and gangsters in fake encounters, where they claim the suspect was shooting at the police while attempting to escape and “the gunfire is returned” killing them. Sound familiar?

It later emerged that contrary to the police version of events, Sheikh was travelling in a luxury bus with his wife, along with a friend when all three were abducted from the bus by Gujarat Police, who killed Sheikh on November 26, and his wife on November 29. According to an article in Scroll.In the police would later claim, as they are wont to do, that the individuals killed were dreaded terrorists, with plans to assassinate Modi and other senior leaders, or launch terror strikes, but rarely would there be any convincing evidence to confirm such allegations. No postmortem or statutory magisterial inquiry followed the killings.

The truth was much simpler. After pressure from Sheikh’s brother prompted a court case and a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry it emerged that Sohrabuddin Sheikh was a member of a criminal gang that had been in cahoots with some Gujarat police officers and political leaders, operating an extortion racket in neighbouring Rajasthan. After Sheikh’s gang threatened highly-connected marble businessmen in Udaipur his political and police bosses felt that Sheikh was getting beyond their control, and needed to be eliminated. They could not, however, risk charging him formally, for fear he would expose his powerful partners in crime.

The investigation that followed allegedly pointed at none other than Amit Shah, then Home Minister of Gujarat, as having given the orders to eliminate Sheikh. “According to the CBI charge-sheet, the killing was orchestrated by senior police officers on the orders of Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah and former Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria, who was also a senior BJP leader.” A supplementary charge-sheet filed by CBI on May 6, 2013, alleged that the owner of RK Marbles and the Rajasthan Home Minister conspired to kill Sheikh as he was allegedly trying to extort money from RK Marbles. According to the article “The CBI further charged that the killing was outsourced to the Gujarat Police in consultation with Amit Shah, the Minister of State for Home of Gujarat.”

In May 2013 Amit Shah along with 10 or more other police officers was charged and jailed for the extra-judicial murders and involvement in criminal extortion activities. A year later, however, there was a change of government with Narendra Modi’s party, the BJP, sweeping to power. Suddenly everything changed. The trial continued but Amit Shah now refused to appear in court. The trial judge, JT Utpat, reprimanded Amit Shah on June 6, 2014, for failing to appear in person, ordering him to present himself in court on June 26, 2014.

Mysteriously on June 25, 2014, only a day before this scheduled hearing, Judge Utpat was transferred to a different court, and replaced by Judge BH Loya. When Amit Shah again failed to appear in person at the trial Judge Loya also expressed disapproval, ordering him to appear in court on December 15. In the early hours of December 1, 2014, in circumstances that his family claims were suspicious, Judge Loya, with no history of cardiac problems, suffered a sudden heart attack and died. Among other things, his sister claimed that Mohit Shah, then chief justice of the Bombay high court, had offered her brother Rs 100 crore (approx. US$15 million) to give a “favourable” judgment in the case.

“Within weeks of Judge Loya’s death, on December 30, 2014, the third judge to hear the case, MB Gosavi, discharged Amit Shah from the Sohrabudin Sheikh fake encounter case. Gosavi said he saw no evidence against Shah, and instead said he “found substance” in his main defence that the CBI had framed him “for political reasons”. In so doing, Gosavi ignored crucial pieces of evidence such as police officer Raiger’s categorical statement that Amit Shah had instructed obstruction of the investigation, and his phone records.”

Amit Shah was soon elevated to the post of President of the BJP. Perhaps because of this, despite the sensational nature of these events and their importance to the nation, mainstream media in India steered clear of reporting on or investigating Judge Loya’s untimely passing until a magazine called Caravan undertook to do so two weeks ago. Since then the Indian Express and certain key newspapers have published articles insisting there was nothing suspicious about Judge Loya’s death.

Influential journalists such as Arun Shourie, a former member of the BJP, disagree. “Every media house should have been running to develop that story,” he said a few days after the Caravan story emerged. “It is the end for conventional media—not only because it is being overtaken as a source of news by the new media, but because of its cowardice and greed…There is a Zulu proverb—a dog with a bone in its mouth can’t bark. That is the condition of the mainstream media today.”

#IndianElections2014

Tweets curated on the historic Indian Election of 2014 which saw a seismic shift in power from the Congress Party to the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, the BJP.

Well, after 5 weeks of polling in India the results are in and Narendra Modi and the BJP have swept to victory. Here is a collection of tweets curated from the lead-up to the final day of polling, May 16, that gives a good sense of various reactions to the election results.
For some the victory of the BJP is worrying, almost as if the Boko Haram had taken  elections in Nigeria with an overwhelming majority. Certainly the actions of extremists in the new ruling party have earned it the bad reputation it enjoys and the inaction of the new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the face of such excesses, is why people treat him as if he has horns. Let’s hope the BJP and Modi prove their critics wrong. Ultimately what my Nigerian friend, Olu Oguibe, said on Facebook remains true:

There’s a great deal of weeping and wailing among some today as Narendra Modi and the BJP sweep the stakes in India’s national elections. Yet, who is to blame for their success but the people? Like the ANC, India’s ruling Congress Party takes power for granted and corruption and incompetence as tradition. Worse, still, it saddles itself with a doddering dynasty. And so, the majority of the Indian people have knowingly and willfully cast their lot with Modi and his right wing, religious fundamentalist party. They’ll live with the consequences.

Que sera sera…

  1. Broad, smart, lovely piece by @DalrympleWill on the Indian elections and Narendra Modi. Best primer you’ll ever read.  http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/05/narendra-modi-man-masses 
  2. But a pretty picture! @ajayrdave: They all were waiting for Lotus to bloom.. It has now.. pic.twitter.com/zlmxET2Yph
  3. My @TheDailyShow interview discussing the Indian elections will air today at 9 PM EST which corresponds to 6:30 AM IST tomorrow in India.
  4. Huge celebrations erupt at the BJP headquarters. Didn’t even take an hour of counting that’s how clear it is ! pic.twitter.com/wfFyVAdQlG
  5. Asinine. Who expects pols to canvass by saying “We’re going to lose”? MT @firstpostin Dear Rahul Gandhi EatYourWords. pic.twitter.com/KTPqQK73iJ
  6. “Indians have dreamed collectively, & they have dreamed a man accused of mass murder” Must. Pankaj Mishra on #Modi~  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/16/what-next-india-pankaj-mishra 
  7. Pankaj Mishra has written a terrific, searing, Pankaj Mishra-y piece on Modi & the new India:  http://gu.com/p/3p9tc/tw  via @WomaninHavana
  8. Muslims who condemn us for building bridges will one day realize our role for securing d interests of future generations as equal citizens
  9. Congrats to India for a new government that i will run to the best of my abilities.
  10. Now that it’s all over, and the heat is up, can all those tv panelists chuck the sleeveless Nehru bundis and go back to regular clothes?
  11. .@greatbong In 2009 you said “BJP was outmaneuvered, not destroyed.” You have been proven right. 🙂
  12. Big takeaway from this election result : ruling party shd avoid arrogance, inefficiency, corruption, misgovernance and lack of communication
  13. Extremely short concession speech from Rahul Gandhi taking responsibility. What is there to say?!
  14. conceding defeat: sonia gandhi cool, professional, dignified. rahul gandhi apparently feckless. nobody takes questions.
  15. Democracies everywhere these days seem to lust after toxic, nationalist authoritarian mo-fos. Sign of the times or what?
  16. Someone needs to tell Barkha Dutt another word for ‘decimation/decimated’.
  17. In a forest, close to nature. Glad the cacophony of election results are far away. Congrats Mr. Modi. Hope you’ll prove some of us wrong.
  18. That detached, taciturn press-conference-without-questions sums up the Sonia-Rahul Congress: There is ZERO organic feel for democracy.
  19. Narendra Modi Profile: From tea boy at a railway station to India’s next prime minister  http://aje.me/1nRkEAa  #IndiaElections
  20. A big shout out to the ABSOLUTELY AWESOME fight @smritiirani put up in Amethi!! Rahul is left with no face to show!
  21. Rout as BJP sweeps to power in India RT @OsamaManzar: Congress is looking like beauty spot on Indian map as a result of this election!
  22. Seismic shift underway in India today. Keep watching at  http://nytimes.com .
  23. Rabri Devi defeated.. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Only people from Bihar can understand the pleasure of this news.
  24. Modi Crushes Gandhi in India’s Election Landslide  http://thebea.st/1szCd5z  via @tunkuv [My take on India’s election results for @dailybeast]
  25. All those who think the lack of confidence of some voters in the BJP stems from fear have got it wrong. It’s not fear, it’s moral revulsion.
  26. BREAKING NEWS: People’s verdict is against us: Sonia Gandhi
  27. All those anchoring the coverage since the morning have gone home. Except Arnab Goswami. BECAUSE THE STUDIO IS ARNAB’S HOME.
  28. India’s stock market jumped more than 6% to a record 25,000 points as Modi secures electoral victory. Orgy of joy…  http://fb.me/3fa1LfEDU 
  29. Pankaj Mishra’s long piece on Modi’s India, and on the new India’s canniest artist.  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/16/what-next-india-pankaj-mishra?CMP=twt_gu 
  30. India has always been a nation led with accommodation and consensus. It has chosen a leader with no real record of either. This is huge.
  31. Which is to say, Modi represents a fundamental shift in the political life of India. Should be very interesting to watch.
  32. India has been Jamie Lannistered. That is the hand has been cut off.
  33. Dear Rahul Gandhi, the journalists don’t want you to take responsibility, they want you to take questions.
  34. Those worrying about how India will change would do well to remember how it will change depends on how we, the citizens, change it.
  35. Today, hope won, hate lost. Today, work won,whining lost. Today, my India won, nobody lost. Congrats @narendramodi and BJP for historic win!
  36. The entire Congress baba-brigade who behaved like they were entitled to power & two rule -wiped out by voters
  37. “मैं हार की ज़िम्मेदारी लेता हूँ.” “मैं लेती हूँ.” “नहीं मैं.” “नहीं मैं.” “मैं.” “मैं.” पार्टी बोली,” ठीक है, ठीक है– मैं नहीं, हम.”
  38. Offering a laddoo to my distinguished predecessor A . Charles, the only other Thiruvananthapuram MP to be re-elected pic.twitter.com/UZF9t8tEAF
  39. Who is writing the long form article on the high tech election campaign by the BJP for grassroots reach? Look fwd to it.
  40. UK PM David Cameron extends invitation to Narendra Modi to visit UK on his way to BRICS summit to be held in August 2014 in Brazil
  41. Tech guys lost too! @NandanNilekani & V Balakrishnan MT @manupubby 7 journos lost – Ilmi, Ashutosh, Khaitan, Jarnail, Chandan, Rakhi, Anita
  42. Still very long queues at @BJP4India HQ of supporters trying to get their hands on box of @narendramodi Laddoos. pic.twitter.com/9ErY6r73xb
  43. As Modi prepares for office, here, again, is why we think he’s unfit to be India’s PM  http://econ.st/1hQzDD7  pic.twitter.com/yjFPzKxE5V
  44. #Modi‘s victory speech in Indian elections is remarkable to watch, and worth it just for his theatrical physicality.  http://m.ndtv.com/video/live/channel/ndtv24x7?alternative 
  45. Modi’s win may prove problematic when he has to attend talks in NY or Washington and can’t get in. Man doesn’t have a visa to the US. #India
  46. That’s an interesting point from @narendramodi. He will be the first PM born after independence. #indiadecides2014
  47. “I’ve never taken a vacation, ever” boasts Gujarat CM @narendramodi who will be #India’s next PM.
  48. I will be the hardest working Prime Minister, says @narendramodi. #IndiaDecides2014
    sidin
    Narendra Modi has just overtaken Manmohan Singh’s combined lifelong word count.

    an hour ago

  49. BJP goons already getting on me 4 my previous tweet. That’s really grown up people. I was just making an observation. AND I use my real name
  50. I gather Shinzo Abe sent his congratulations to Modi this afternoon. That is one relationship to watch closely. #HindiJapaniBhaiBhai
  51. Even though Modi/BJP wooed Kerala relentlessly, happy to see that BJP has drawn a blank. God’s Own Country, indeed.

Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), ranks high among elite business schools globally

Memories of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA).

l to r: Samuel Paul, Vasant Mote, Warren Haynes, SC Kuchal, HN Pathak, some of the earliest faculty members at the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA).

Came across the photo above recently on Facebook courtesy Vasant Mote (second from left) on his left is my Dad, Samuel Paul, who would later become director of the Institute. He has no memory of when this photo was taken. IIMA as the Institute was called was set up in collaboration with the Harvard Business School and its campus was designed by the renowned American architect Louis Kahn. I’ve written about this in an earlier post but was minded to do so again today after reading the following article: What makes IIM Ahmedabad among top 39 elite B Schools in the world. Apparently according to the article:

The Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad has found a place in top 39 elite Business Schools in the world named by MBA employers, according to QS Global Business School Report 2013, which also ranked Indian MBA graduates as the world’s most academically distinguished.

It’s one of three Asian business schools to earn this global ranking, the other two being from Singapore.
I remember a group of these early professors deciding to start a South Indian restaurant in Ahmedabad in the 60s, though I can no longer remember what it was called now. Surely if they were teaching management they should be able to run a successful business themselves? Well, not so at all, the restaurant didn’t last a year and proved to be a poor case study. Academics should stick to academia was the chastened conclusion.

Mother Tongues vs English: Language Wars Redux

The politics of language as played out in India and Jamaica

The following headline in an Indian newsmagazine stopped me in my tracks a couple of days ago:

Ban English in the Parliament, says Mulayam Singh Yadav

MPs should be banned from speaking in English in Parliament, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has said.

“There should be a ban on English address in Parliament. Countries which use their mother tongue are more developed. It’s the need of the hour to promote Hindi,” Yadav said in a function here last night.

“The leaders of the country have double character as far as Hindi is concerned. They ask for vote in Hindi but give address in Parliament in English. This should be stopped,” he said, clarifying that he was not against English language per se.

Excellent point I thought recalling that it was only a few months ago that the opposite scenario played itself out in Jamaica:

English only in the Senate, president tells Justice Minister

was the astonishing headline in the Jamaica Gleaner.

President of the Senate Stanley Redwood had interrupted Justice Minister Mark Golding as he used patois (also called Jamaican, and Patwa, the unofficial mother tongue of the land) to thank bondholders and workers. As the article reported:

This morning, Justice Minister Mark Golding, who was in his element was stopped in his track as he thanked bondholders and workers for their role in ensuring that Jamaica fulfills prior actions requirement for an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

“Respec’ due to those patriotic Jamaicans,” Golding said when Senate President Reverend Stanley Redwood broke his strides.

“Sorry to break your flow but the language used in the Senate must be standard English,” Redwood told Golding.

The minister had no choice but to relent, and instead of saying respec’ due, resorted to respect is due.

What a farce! Especially since the esteemed Mr. Redwood migrated to greener pastures within a few weeks of making his startling intervention. To be noted is what the Indian politico said: “Countries which use their mother tongue are more developed.” I firmly believe that half of Jamaica’s problems stem from its linguistic identity crisis, insisting its mother tongue is English when a huge proportion of the population can only speak Patois. As if that weren’t bad enough the mother tongue of the majority is not recognized as an official language in its own country. Meanwhile the airwaves are full of English-speakers gnashing their teeth over the ‘growth and development’ that eludes the country. smh. They don’t seem to realize that there’s a causal relationship at work here. Jamaica needs to be declared the bilingual state it is asap.

In memory of Jyoti aka Nirbhaya…how language facilitates rape

A brief meditation on how language facilitates rape on the first anniversary of the inhumane Delhi gang rape.

nirbhaya_grey1
Nirbhaya image via Deepak’s Lore

There are many reasons I chose the phrase Active Voice for the title of my blog. One of them is simply grammatical. I deplore the tendency to resort to the passive voice and all that it implies. The passive voice dwells on the action not on the actor. You come across it a lot in bad academic writing. “A form was developed and disseminated to collect epidemiological data, including data on health services utilization and costs….Subsequent visits were made to collect the data” etc etc.

But there are far more serious abuses of the passive voice, especially as described in the article quoted below; written in the wake of the horrific Delhi gang rape almost exactly one year ago (December 16)  Tilotamma Shrinivasa notes how the passive voice  can be employed as a blame-shifting device in relation to sex crimes. It’s worth thinking about.

What Grammar Says About Rape
Posted by: ladiesfinger , August 19, 2013

By Tilotamma Shrinivasa

Before we begin, a quick grammar lesson is due. Google for ‘passive voice’ and the very first hit defines it like this:

Passive voice is used when the focus is on the action. It is not important or not known, however, who or what is performing the action.

And adds this:

“Sometimes a statement in passive is more polite than active voice, as the following example shows:
Example: A mistake was made. In this case, I focus on the fact that a mistake was made, but I do not blame anyone (e.g. You have made a mistake.).”

So, saying “Draupadi stole Bheema’s apple” blames Draupadi for stealing, while saying “Bheema’s apple was stolen by Draupadi” focuses on the fact that the apple was stolen. Now if you drop Draupadi from the second sentence, “Bheema’s apple was stolen” conveys the idea that this terrible thing happened to Bheema but doesn’t blame anyone! Or if I use an even worse and a grammatically dodgy form of passive voice: “Bheema had his apple stolen” squarely dumps the responsibility of what happened on Bheema’s head!

Now that you are equipped with the power of grammar, here is a snapshot of Google results for the recent assaults in Gurgaon and Manipal:

scr2

Let’s not even start with the ‘allegedly’ business! Anyway, here is another general snapshot of recent articles:

scr3

For more click here

Goodbye Sachin Tendulkar…

A few tweets and quotes on the occasion of Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement from test cricket.

Photo: India Today
The day dawned with the beginning of Sachin Tendulkar’s final test match in Bombay’s Wankhade Stadium. I present a selection of tweets and quotes from articles as a small tribute to the little giant. Incredible that as the photo below shows his mother was watching her son play in a stadium for the first time. Apparently Tendulkar insisted that his entire family be present for his final test match.
Hindustan Times @htTweets
Mother watches the elegant straight drive for the first time on field. Cant believe this is his last match! #SRT200
Photo: Hindustan Times
Ellen Barry @EllenBarryNYT

Twitter now featuring selfies of Indian desk workers who wish to show that they are watching cricket on their computer monitors.

India Today @IndiaToday

Now only humans will play cricket, say fans with banners #salaamsachin

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 7.34.14 AM

Chris Gayle @henrygayle
Was absolutely a pleasure being apart of history Sachin Tendulkar 200 Test Match. #legends #Lara… instagram.com/p/gxMsp-IeYo/

Nigel Britto @NigelBritto

If you have to rob a bank, murder someone, orchestrate a scam, do it today. No one will bother. Everyone’s watching Sachin. #ThankYouSachin

EnthaHotmess @enthahotness

Bat all you want maccha. Bat for four days straight. Nobody will declare.

Sachin with wife, Anjali

One article I read consisted of an interview with Tendulkar’s British mother-in-law:

Annabel never has quite been able to comprehend it since Tendulkar swept into their lives in 1990 when Anjali, then a paediatrician at a Mumbai hospital, came to pick her up her mum at the airport and, while waiting, met the teenage Tendulkar, who was returning with the Indian team from his breakthrough tour of England, where he had scored the unbeaten Test-saving maiden century at Manchester which captured a nation’s imagination. But not Anjali’s apparently.

“My husband thought it heaven on earth to have a Test cricketer around and I think he was recognised by everyone in India by then – except my daughter,” Annabel says with a laugh. “We’ve come a long way!”

In his farewell speech Sachin left no doubt about the importance of his marriage and Anjali:

in 1991, I met my wife Anjali. I know she was a doctor. When we decided to make it a family, she said, you continue with your cricket and I’ll take care of the family. Without that I think I couldn’t have played so much cricket. Thank you for all that you’ve done and it is the best partnership I’ve had in my life.

Tunku Varadarajan’s NYT article on Tendulkar is more substantial, suggesting that the cricketing god’s career mirrored the glory days of the Indian economy’s relentless rise in the 90s. He doesn’t hesitate to weigh in with a healthy dose of criticism:

When he first played for India — in 1989, at age 16, against the old enemy, Pakistan — the country was adrift economically. National morale hit a nadir in 1991, with India pawning gold reserves to stay afloat. Sachin’s blossoming coincided with the economic liberalization that followed, and his cricketing splendor tracked a healthy, sometimes rollicking, growth rate. In his success, he embodied a new Indian self-image. Other heroes have since emerged: younger, brasher, like the New India itself, but Sachin’s heroism reminds the country of a more vulnerable time, and he is loved the more for that.

At the same time, there is also, remarkably, an unsentimental view of Sachin, which is that he should have retired two years ago (or more), that he has stayed at the wicket much too long.

There is no Indian tradition of graceful retirement. The inherent human vanity of an authority reluctant to cede the public stage is reinforced by a culture of adulation, of shrieking, ululating crowds, of an uncritical elevation of heroes to godlike status by devotees who will not let go. In politics, in cinema, even in corporate business houses, old Indian men do not fade into the sunset. They hobble on and on. And when they die, they are “kept alive” by heirs who succeed them: sons, daughters, wives. Sport, by its very nature, is different: there is no elegant case for heirs on a cricket team, and the body imposes its own laws of retirement.

Yet Sachin and his fans have tried their best to defy those natural laws. After all, idolatry is an Indian art form. Some Indian gods have three heads, or 10 arms. Others have serpents coiled around their torsos, or rivers streaming from their heads. And one, Sachin, wields a sacred cricket bat, heavy, sweet, made of the finest willow.

I don’t know about you but I’d say the tradition of graceful retirement is completely missing in the Caribbean as well where our local giants linger on into their dotage, unwilling to ride off into the sunset when their time comes. In this context Shashi Tharoor’s  BBC article on Sachin’s retirement made an interesting claim:

A weak, insecure nation needs sporting heroes, players larger than life on the cricketing field, who can transcend the limitations of their country and team.

Tendulkar was the diminutive colossus who showed his countrymen that an Indian, too, could be the world’s best. He was elevated to God in the country’s cricketing pantheon.

But the confident India of 2013, with a stronger economy that carries more weight in the world, an India wooed and courted by global leaders, doesn’t need a God to project its capabilities. Mere mortals are good enough to win when winning comes naturally.

 
Here is Sachin walking into Wankhede Stadium on the 2nd day of his final test match:

India’s Mission to Mars…

India launches its Mission to Mars amidst excited tweets and the usual criticism.


Agence France-Presse @AFP
India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, which successfully launched today #infographic pic.twitter.com/3eH0He53m8
13h

Waking up this morning at 5-5.30 am, i checked in with Twitter, as i usually do, to see what the folks on my Indian timeline were talking about. It turned out to be something quite spectacular. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) at Thumba in Kerala (the state I happen to come from :)) had just launched India’s Mission to Mars and all or most of my Indian peeps were still tingling from the excitement of having just watched the liftoff live on their smartphones, tablets and TVs. Of course the occasional naysayer could be heard here and there as well, eg:

Anusha Yadav@anushayadav
Sending a mission to Mars to pretend we are all so first world is like making a swimming pool on slum land and calling it a 5 star hotel.

This is such a predictable wet blanket, one i don’t subscribe to at all. In the first decade after independence in India national leaders decided to set up five Indian Institutes of Technology, state of the art institutions delivering cutting edge technological education. At the time there were many opponents to the new ventures who cited similar reasons for not undertaking such expensive investments. India was poor they claimed, too poor to afford elite educational establishments using such high-powered technologies. Fortunately the naysayers were outnumbered and the IITs became institutions to reckon with, directly spawning what would eventually produce the IT revolution that galvanized the Indian economy30-40 years later. So more power to the Indian scientists who made Mangalyaan, the popular name for the Mars bound spaceship, possible.

The following selection of tweets culled from this morning’s stream reflects the tug-of-war between enthusiasts and naysayers. Fascinatingly it also exposes another schism, that between North and South India. As I mentioned earlier the spaceship was launched from the deep South so to speak–my home state of Kerala–also the most literate state. One person even went so far as to ask if this launch would have taken place had the scientists involved been North Indian. Culturally there are deep differences between North and South with North Indians generally looking down on South Indians (and making fun of their accents) who counter this by flaunting their superior intellectual traditions.

Others focused on the relatively low budget India had managed to pull off this great achievement with. Basically for the cost of four blockbuster Bollywood films we had managed to put a spaceship in orbit. Early indicators are that China is green with envy. Enjoy the tweets below and the article after that giving details about India’s exciting new space initiative.

Ashok @krishashok
I just saw India launch a rocket to Mars on my phone over 3G. I know we have problems to fix but we have sure come a long way
Details

Shivam Vij @DilliDurAst
Hmm. “@rupasubramanya: The successful launch to Mars today is a great moment for South Indians. We should be proud.”
15h

Mihir Sharma @mihirssharma
No photographic angle available that includes cow in foreground, rocket launch in background? #GrauniadIsDisappointed
16h

Saugato Datta @sd268
@mihirssharma Ideally, cow chewing garbage next to defecating child in front of ancient monument. #HavingItAll
15h

Manreet S Someshwar @manreetss
For all the naysayers on #Mangalyaan, here’s Wilde for you: We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
16h

Sidin Studukut @sidin
Good morning. Any major achievements today by non-Malayalis?
16h

Nitin Pai @acorn
Pavan Srinath wrote this post about ISRO a few months ago. http://pragati.nationalinterest.in/2013/07/not-quite-over-the-moon/
16h

Vimal Sapiens @vimalg2
I’m a big fan of creative people doing amazing things with frugal infrastructure. #ISRO  #jugaad #givesYouWings
16h

aby @abytharakan
RT @srini091: An ISRO Scientist transporting a nose cone of a rocket on a cycle. Thumba, Kerala, 1968. pic.twitter.com/VuClBM1KPC
16h

Sonia Faleiro @soniafaleiro
The Chinese seem rather put out by India’s #MarsMission: globaltimes.cn/content/822493… Via @akannampilly
16h

Surekha Pillai @surekhapillai
osum. RT @smitaprakash: Only South Indian accents so far…at Mission Control Room ISRO. 🙂 (yes yes you can send me hate tweets for this)
16h

Surekha Pillai @surekhapillai
i’m a bit of both. worship me. MT @samar11 Q: Would there be a credible Indian Space programme without all those Tamilians and Keralites? 😉
17h

Mahendra Palsule @Palsule
Folks watching launch live on phones/tablets/webcasts, sharing excitement on Twitter…who would’ve thought of this 5-10 yrs back?!
17h

Gautam John @gkjohn
Space fight! RT @sumenrai79: #Mangalyaan will reach Mars in September 2014, around the same time as #NASA’s #MAVEN.
17h

Firstpost @firstpostin
Mars Orbiter Mangalyaan crosses 3,000 km Live updates: bit.ly/1dJRz23
17h

Overrated Outcast @over_rated
At the cost of four and a half Salman Khan movies, ISRO sent a rocket into the orbit of Mars.
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Chetan Bhagat @chetan_bhagat
You know how they say in offices when someone doesn’t get it “It’s not rocket science you know.” Wonder what they say in ISRO.
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For more details read this NDTV article:

Mangalyaan, which means “Mars craft” in Hindi, is the size of a small car. It is golden in colour and will be carried by a rocket much smaller than American or Russian equivalents.

About 1000 scientists spent Diwali at work and also did not sleep last night, many of them performing last-minute health checks on the rocket that is now fully-fuelled and ready to go.

Lacking the power to fly directly, the 350-tonne launch vehicle will orbit Earth for nearly a month, building up the necessary velocity to break free from our planet’s gravitational pull.

Only then will it begin the second stage of its nine-month journey which will test India’s scientists to the full, five years after they sent a probe called Chandrayaan to the moon.

More than half of all Mars projects have failed, including China’s in 2011 and Japan’s in 2003. Only the United States, Russia and the European Union have successfully reached there.

The total cost of the project is 450 crores, one sixth of the cost of a Mars probe set to be launched by NASA in 13 days. (India’s mission to Mars: 10 facts)

The 1,350-kilogram unmanned orbiter must travel 485 million miles over 300 days to reach the red planet next September.

“This is a technology demonstration project, a mission that will announce to the world India has the capability to reach as far away as Mars,” said K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space and Research Organization.