The Worm sees nuke salesmen crawling all over India!

A free-wheeling look at current events without an editor to hinder me!

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Will the dragon slay St George?

Poor George Fernandes! Just when his friends in Bihar led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar looked at his ailing frame last year and wrote his obituary, ol' George bounced back. The glow in his face returned as did the spring in his step. And as he did for the past 30 years the khadi-clad polyglot rolled up his sleeves to stitch together another coalition in a bid to stay relevant in politics.

Okay, it was time to say goodbye to Bihar. The past three decades had been one long journey through the badlands of the blighted state which George made his home after having frittered away his base in Bombay long ago in the 1970s. The past three decades had seen some caste chieftain or the other open his doors for George to hunker down. Nitish was the last of his hosts in Bihar and suddenly like the Catholic missionary his parents intended him to be, George saw a sign - from Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh.

The UP phase would have been another of George's pauses between political wheeling-dealing at the Centre but for Sonia Gandhi's deep antipathy to the Yadav Don Quixote and his Sancho Panza Amar Singh. You can't sup with the two and live, decrees Mama Mia! Amitabh Bachchan discovered this the hard way when he was forced out of the royal court. Anil Ambani is busy completing his penance for having sinned. The RBI's watchdogs are still baying for `Saharashri' Subroto Roy's blood.

So George's feet must be fed to the fire for stepping across the Laxman Rekha. And there has been plenty of ammo to arm his detractors. George's track record as India's Defense Minister was not exactly glorious. The Kargil fiasco happened under his watch. The coffingate scandal could be traced to his own office. His closest associate Jaya Jaitley was allegedly caught taking money in a sting operation by Tehelka. George was accused of overruling his army officers to permit gun-runners have a free run on the Indo-Burma border.

Were it not for his role as Prime Minister Vajpayee's main trouble shooter in keeping the NDA government afloat, George Fernandes would have been sacked and tried for treason long ago.

Now this cat's nine lives seem to have run out. The CBI under the Sonia Gandhi dispensation seems to have done its homework before filing the FIR against George for allegedly taking kickbacks in the purchase of Barak missiles from Israel.

Documents signed by President Kalam as head of the DRDO opposing the purchase have already been released to pro-Congress media outlets. Naval officers who expressed dissent over the purchase of Barak missiles are being paraded around to discredit George.

As speculation mounts about George's interrogation at the hands of the CBI and his possible arrest, support for the man remains muted. BJP, which heads the tattered NDA of which George is still the convenor, has a few soothing words on offer. As are Nitish Kumar and Mulayam. But none will go out of their way to risk their careers for George.

The road seems lonely for the man who can't even win a municipal election on his own. Suddenly George's mask has been ripped off to reveal the political fixer he has allowed himself to degenerate into. And with ignominy comes the status of pariahdom. Poor George Fernandes - dhobi ka kutta na ghar ka na ghat ka!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Will Windows Vista compromise India's national security?

Its time India's security establishment sat up and took notice of the Windows Vista Operating System that launches early next year. Of particular concern should be the anti-piracy features that Microsoft is building inside Windows Vista.

Lines of code embedded in new the OS will allow Microsoft to peer into each and every computer so that machines with pirated versions of WV and other licensed software can be blitzed automatically. In other words all data inside a computer with WV installed is liable to be dissected for examination by techno-snoops in the US and other sites where Microsoft has its servers.

While the impact of WV technology on the privacy of the ordinary computer user is still being debated, the portents are more ominous for government establishments.

At present nearly all computers in Central government offices including those in the Defence and Home ministries have Windows installed in them. Not all of them are licensed either! Should these be upgraded to Windows Vista, every single byte of data flitting through wires of the Indian establishment would be rendered vulnerable.

If Microsoft can read the data, then so can the CIA. Microsoft's cosy relationship with the CIA came out in the open when techies from the secretariat of the National Security Council who sold sensitive data to the American spy agency found jobs with the company in exchange.

Banks, financial institutions, technological and educational institutions like IIT, Research and Development labs, patent other words anyone concerned with espionage should steer clear of Windows Vista. Never mind what the sweet talking executives of Microsoft tell the babus if Bill Gates can see your data so can Uncle Sam. And their interests do not always coincide with India's interests.

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