Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
New Indian Express,07 Nov 2008 12:14:00 AM IST
HISTORIC. Landslide. Popular.
Whichever way you say it, one thing is certain. The much-awaited change has occurred with the spectacular victory of Barack Obama, and the disinherited of the world celebrate his arrival. But should India be elated or worried over the return of a Democrat to the White House? At least in the short run, the bonhomie that marked Indo-US relations under the Bush administration will be missed in New Delhi. Though improvements in bilateral relations began with the visit of President Bill Clinton in March 2000, post-Pokhran India had to invest considerable political and diplomatic capital to overcome bilateral tensions, misgivings and sanctions.
In recent days anti-Bush voices in the US got a new boost: Economy stupid! Naturally the economic meltdown and fears over recession will be the top priority of the new administration.
For India this financial crisis means that its economic clout will be significantly dented.
Given his limited international exposure, foreign policy would be the last thing on Obama’s mind; South Asia far less so. The importance of the region emanates from the travails of Afghanistan and the need to keep the Taliban at bay. So the critical question Obama might ask would be: Who can serve me better, is it India or Pakistan? News on the Kashmir front is also disturbing. Media reports suggest that Obama wants to appoint a special mediator. This would make Pakistanis feel happier especially after Obama’s comments about terrorism and jihadi elements, not India, being the serious threats facing Islamabad at present.
Likewise, the traditional Democrats’ agenda — democracy, human rights and minority treatment— would become vocal and intrusive, causing some unpleasant moments for India. But the overall picture is not bleak. On the critical issue of Iran, New Delhi will heave a sigh of relief. The Bush administration’s anti-Iran obsession will be a thing of the past as the Democrats are eager to open direct talks with the Islamic republic. Even if US-Iran normalisation is not imminent, there will be a lessening of tension between the two erstwhile allies. This should enable India to be more ‘independent’ while dealing with Iran. And anti-American rhetoric within India may be considerably muted and less shrill.
The wider world will be watching the new shifts on Iraq. During the campaign Obama harped on his opposition to the Iraqi invasion. As president he will have to come up with a workable strategy. How does he plan to get the boys home early when regional powers are apprehensive over a post-withdrawal political vacuum in Iraq? American policy on Iraq would remove the enigma surrounding Senator Obama.
Obama’s decisive electoral victory is thus a huge responsibility. Having raised public expectations within and outside the US, he will have to deliver, and swiftly. Otherwise the massive mandate will become a millstone around his neck.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
New Indian Express,
24 Oct 2008 12:36:00 AM IST
The ongoing debate over the police encounter in Batla in New Delhi on September 19 highlights the partisan nature of the Indian polity.
Not just political parties, even mainstream intelligentsia abandoned their responsibilities and took refuge under political correctness. It has become fashionable to treat terrorism as yet another form of violence and belittle its devastating consequences.
Lives are important, rights are important but only that of those accused of terrorism. Victims of terrorism die in vain for they have no such rights. At least that is how mainstream India behaves.
We need to take a second look at this kneejerk trade union mentality. Camaraderie is vital for a society but there are times thismy- member-right-or-wrong attitude needs to change. Rallying around the flag should not be taken to absurd limits.
People holding public offices need to recognise that their responsibility is much wider than their immediate jobs. Social responsibility is larger than their responsibility to a particular institution.
The ongoing debate over terrorism exposes the narrow mindset of the political parties in the country. Moving the goalpost is their mantra. They would demand the banning of Hindutva outfits like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal but take a different stand when it comes to SIMI or vice versa. The Bharatiya Janata Party demands the dismissal of the government of Assam for its failure to curb communal violence but sings a different tune over Karnataka and Orissa.
Thus the demand of the BJP for the resignation of the Vice Chancellor of the Jamia Millia Islamia, Professor Mushirul Hasan, over his stand on the police encounter was accompanied by a deafening silence of its stalwarts over the spat of anti-minority violence that were taking place under their very noses.
But partisanship is not the prerogative of only the politicians. Same is true for a large number of the intelligentsia. Professor Mushirul Hasan, for example, explicitly condemned the New Delhi blasts only after, and not before, the BJP demanded his resignation. Similarly, those who vociferously argued against the ‘demonisation’ of Jamia would refer only to ‘events of 19th September’ and not of 13th September that rocked the streets of New Delhi. This leads to the next question: guilt by association.
No institution, organisation or group should be held responsible for the activities of all its members. Even members of the same family are not accountable for the activities of other members of the family.
By no cannons of law, logic or moral standards, can one hold Jamia responsible for the alleged crimes of three of its members.
Guilt by association will take us back to the Stone Age.
At the same time one cannot ignore a similar situation faced by Saudi Arabia following the September 11 terror attacks on the US. Riyadh could not escape the harsh reality: fifteen out of 19 hijackers who carried the terrorist acts were Saudi nationals.
Many used the terror attack to launch a diatribe against the Gulf state, vilified Saudi society and even sought to demonise Islam.
The Saudi state could not be held responsible for the actions of its citizens yet it could not escape from the negative consequences of their actions.
Despite its initial defences, eventually the House of Saud saw the episode as an opportunity for a serious introspection. It did not settle for ostrich-like self-denial. Much of the ongoing internal debate in Saudi Arabia over Islam, reforms in the education system and even dialogue with other religions initiated by King Abdullah have to be traced directly to the negative repercussion of the September 11 attacks. Likewise, if the Jamia were to escape from the consequences of the alleged actions of his students, it needs serious introspection.This leads to the next question: human rights.Yes, all citizens have equal rights. Those charged with terrorism have rights to a fair trial and to be treated as innocent unless proven otherwise. They have to be provided adequate legal defence and an opportunity to clear their name.Without this the idea of India would disintegrate.
But in their eagerness to defend the rights of those accused of terrorism, mainstream political parties and intelligentsia alike, ignore some larger issues.
While everyone is innocent unless otherwise proven, those who are charged with terrorist violence could not be placed on par with ordinary citizens. They face serious charges of involvement in the slaughter of innocent civilians. Let us not forget that serial blasts in New Delhi, for example, killed 24 ordinary civilians who were going about their daily routine.
Those charged with terrorism have legal defence, political support and even media limelight. But what happened to those whose lives were taken without any rhyme or reason.
Didn’t they have any rights? Let us not vacillate or look for an escape clause. Terrorism is not an impulsive road rage. Nor is it unintended manslaughter.
Terrorism is a cold-blooded, pre-mediated murder of innocent civilians. Just like the rights of the accused, one should also recognise the rights of the victims.We also need to go beyond parochial calculations in speaking out for everyone’s right to live: rights of victims, even if they happened to members of other caste, colour, race, religion and even nationality. One can be a critic of the Congress party and its dynastic politics. But one can still recognise late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s right to life.
His life was cut short by a well-planned, well-organised and well-executed political murder carried out by the LTTE. His children were orphaned for no fault of theirs.
Sadly, unlike the slain Indian leader, Nalini Sriharan enjoyed legal defence and was tried and convicted under due process of law. On ‘humanitarian considerations’ her original death sentence was commuted tolife imprisonment.Now even this is not sufficient, and she and her supporters demand early release. Nalini’s conviction was neither an act of vengeance nor retribution but merely her harvest for her role in the coldblooded murder. Did anyone give a second chance to Rajiv Gandhi? Rather than worrying about rights of terrorists and the need to protect them against draconian laws, responsible people have to recognise a higher value.Victims of terrorism also have rights. They had no opportunity to hear the charges against them. They enjoyed no legal defence. They are not agents of the state and nor are they linked to the supposed ‘injustice’ meted out to those indulging in terrorism.
This is not politically correct. The Indian society should first and foremost recognise the rights of the victims of terrorism.
They also have the right to live, something that the terrorists do not recognise. Yes, even as an ordinary individual, Rajiv Gandhi also had the right to live!
About the author:
Professor P R Kumaraswamy teaches at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and his co-edited book South Asia: The Spectre of Terrorism is being published by Routledge
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Ithaca has just published my edited volume on Caught in Crossfire: Civilians in Conflicts in the Middle East. It has contributions from Avraham Sela, Meron Medzini, Dalia Gavriely, Samir Khalaf, Stuti Bhatnagar, N. Janardhan, Amira Hass, Girijesh Pant and William Haddad.
For details click here
Monday, September 22, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Is there an Islamic dimension in India’s foreign policy, especially towards the Middle East region? The obvious answer would be elusive. For many, such a question is preposterous and an affront on India’s secular fabric. To suggest that religion played a role in shaping India’s policy towards the citadel of Islam is not merely unacceptable but is nothing short of a rightwing conspiracy.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
The visit not only marked an end to recent tensions in the region but also transformed the very nature of relations between the two Middle East neighbours. Despite some scepticism the visit is truly historic and signals a formal end to Syrian denial of and disregard for Lebanese independence. During the visit Presidents Bashar al-Assad and Suleiman agreed to establish normal diplomatic relations and initiate the process of border demarcation.
Even though Syria and its leadership have to take a lot of concrete measures, a good beginning has been made.
Such historic claims over others are not new to the Middle East. For long, other countries such Egypt, Jordan, Iran and Iraq had coveted their weaker neighbours. What however made the Lebanese case rather unique was the steadfastness with which Damascus maintained its opposition to recognising Lebanon as a sovereign entity .
A modicum of relations with Lebanon would not only enhance Syrian influence in that country but also would increase its regional status.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
For additional details please click here.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
New Indian Express (Chennai), 12 August 2008
While the United States and the erstwhile Soviet Union hogged much of the attention, others were not far behind. Oil-rich countries in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia have been accused of funding extremist Islamic groups in India. Likewise at the height of the Ayodhya controversy, wealthy Indians in the West were charged with transferring funds to Hindutva forces. Indeed at times, ‘foreign agent’ has become a too common refrain in Indian politics.
Unfortunately, most of them remained allegations with little documentary evidence and far little follow up actions. Hence, they were quickly dismissed as nothing more than a political blot or external conspiracy to discredit a particular individual, group or political party.
This however is changing. The end of the Cold War has opened up a wealth of credible archival materials of the bygone era. As part of the Cold War Project, the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Centre is publishing large quantities of declassified Soviet documents. One such document throws some interesting insights into the question of the Soviet financial contribution to the then united Communist Party of India (CPI) just before the 1962 Lok Sabha elections.
On 17 January 1962 the Soviet ambassador in New Delhi I A Benediktov wrote a brief note on his meet earlier that day. It presents a summary of his meeting with Bhupesh Gupta, the Secretary of the National Council of the CPI. The meeting took place on the day the CPI ended its two-day meeting of the Secretariat in New Delhi to chalk out plans for the impending elections to the Lok Sabha.
Gupta was greatly disturbed by the sudden demise of Ajoy Kumar Ghosh. The death of the Secretary General of the CPI could not have come at a worse time because it deprived the party of not only its greatest organiser and orator, but also its important fund-raiser. Bhupesh Gupta had a twin-objective in initiating this meeting with the Soviet envoy. One, to ensure the continuation of close ties between the CPI and the Communist Part of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and two, to work out a mechanism for uninterrupted Soviet financial contribution to the CPI.
According to the Soviet ambassador, Ghosh candidly admitted that the party was suffering from “an acute insufficiency of funds for the pre-election campaign” and was apprehensive that “with the death of Ghosh, the source for receiving means for the communist party” from the CPSU might be closed.
Gupta was also worried about further complications. Until his death, A K Ghosh had singularly handled the financial contributions from Moscow and according to Gupta, the late leader had never consulted other party stalwarts such as E M S Nambudiripad (India’s first communist Chief Minister). They merely assisted in the distribution of funds. Ghosh monopolised funding to such an extent that he withheld this issue “from other leaders of the party and members of the National Council.” Because of this ‘strict secrecy’, Gupta proudly claimed, “not a single report on this question has appeared in the press.”
Admitting his own limitations, Gupta disclosed that unlike Ghosh, he would not be able to “single-handedly take on responsibility in questions of assistance” but would involve other leaders such as Nambudiripad. He confided that trade union leader Shripad Amrit Dange once sought exclusive responsibility for “all matters connected with foreign aid.”
Gupta vehemently denied suggestions that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was giving financial assistance to the CPI. Proclaiming that the CCP was not aware of the Soviet aid, he declared that the National Council “has not received, is not receiving and will not receive assistance” from the Chinese Communist Party but admitted that the party was receiving some aid from Sikhs living in England.
In the words of Benediktov, “Gupta repeated several times that the aid is needed precisely now” because the election campaign must be completed by the first week of February 1962. During this campaign, the main task of the CPI would be “to make clear to the population that the Soviet Union is giving selfless aid to India, is its true friend.” After the elections however, “we would like to receive your support in the matter of theoretical preparation of party cadres.”
Gupta held another round of meeting with the Soviet envoy on January 27 and expressed his gratitude for the readiness of the CPSU to assist the CPI. Both documents however are silent about the quantum and modus operandi of the Soviet “financial assistance” to the CPI. Interestingly, the party only marginally improved its tally and won 29 seats as against 27 seats five years earlier.
It is common knowledge that the Soviets had provided more than ideological and theoretical support to the communist movements in various countries including India. Through a host of outlets such as friendship societies, media outlets and cultural associations they befriended influential segments of the public. The rupee-rouble trade was also used to prop-up a pro-Soviet constituency within India. Nonetheless, it is safe to assume that the CPI was not the only Indian recipient of foreign contributions.
Thanks to the end of the Cold War, however, there are documentary evidences to prove that the Communist leadership had sought and received funds from Moscow for its political activities in India. These Soviet documents cannot be dismissed as an imperial conspiracy merely because they were obtained, translated, annotated and published by a Washington-based think tank.
What is the need to address an archaic issue that is more than three decades old, especially when the country is facing more serious problems of today? Likewise, it is too tempting to dismiss the issue as a manifestation of McCarthyism.
However, by definition political parties including the communist parties, shoulder a heavier responsibility than individuals, organisations or lobbying groups that receive foreign financial contributions. Furthermore, the Communist parties often project themselves as role models in the otherwise corrupt Indian political climate.
One cannot expect much from the political parties, partisan scholars or activists. They all will be dismissive and condescending. India still has some non-partisan Sovietologists who should ponder over the central issue: What was the nature of Soviet 'financial assistance' to the Communists?
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The high profiled visit of Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka to Israel in late March underscores the long-standing Sri Lankan dilemma towards the Jewish State. At one level, it wants to benefit from Israel's military and security expertise but strong domestic and regional compulsions drive Colombo in the opposite direction. The need to balance the two became apparent in Wickramanayaka's recent visit to the Middle East, which also took him to the Palestinian areas and Jordan.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Two-day academic conferences on Asian studies would be smack of chutzpah in any country in the Middle East. But not Israel. In the third week of May, the Hebrew University which started functioning in 1925, hosted the Seventh and the largest academic conference on Asia. Devoted to cultural, religious, social and literary aspects of the content, it attracted over a hundred scholarly papers spread over more than two-dozen simultaneous sessions. The result was a mixed bag. Some provocative and some pedestrian.
Though most were in Hebrew, my rudimentary knowledge of the language was good enough to appreciate the big picture. Besides the discussions, I got an opportunity to meet a number of my old friends, former colleagues and intellectual fellow travellers. The Malayalam-fluent Ophira, Raquel who specialises in Japanese energy policy or Sofia who lives in Chinese classical poetry, all under one roof.
One scholar used the troubles facing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and speculation about him receiving hefty envelopes filled with dollar bills to add some lighter moments. The Chinese government was uneasy about its missiles supplied to Iran reaching Hezbollah that used them against Israel during the Second Lebanese war in 2006. During the recent visit of the Israeli Prime Minister Chinese officials highlighted Iran's end-user commitments but the speaker mischievously observed: "I don't know if Olmert was given envelopes by the Chinese."
What to wear for the occasion? I was in a dilemma. I remembered an incident involving veteran Israeli diplomat Abba Eban. The Labour Party was still identified with the working class and party stalwarts and members were assembled in Tel Aviv to elect the list for the forthcoming Knesset election. Eban being an outsider could not be more pronounced. Only he came in a bow tie and failed to get his name in a realistic slot on the party list. He soon bowed out the politics.
Representatives from China, Japan and Korea were present during much of the deliberations and partly supported the conference. Seoul's ambassador to Israel Shin Kak-Soo broke off from the original schedule and did a mini presentation comparing the nuclear controversies surrounding North Korea and Iran. A notable absentee was the Indian embassy. With six panels devoted to various aspects of India's diversity, the absence was rather conspicuous and strange.
"Don't bother us with intellectual nonsense." This does not appear to be the attitude of the Israeli foreign office. A number of retired as well as serving diplomats could be noticed through the conference. An uncommon sight in India. They were hopping from one panel to the other but they were there. Some are soon returning to India's neighbourhood.
The UPA government would be extremely happy that the Sachar Committee report is popular not just in India but also among Indologists in Israel. It figured prominently in the panel on Religion, Society and State in India. Though Israel is considered a favourite of the Hindutva brigade, the panelists used the report to highlight the marginalisation of Muslims. The Hindu right came in for some severe treatment. Some on the panel felt Muslims are not protected in India and that 'secularism' is also a sign of the Indian state appropriating the cultural traits of the Hindu majority. An academic from Ben-Gurion University recalled a remark by Syed Shahabuddin who reportedly said: "Muslims in India are like the Jews in Nazi Germany!" The remark did not go unnoticed in a country that remembers the Holocaust.
During the lunch break I took time off and went my old home: the library of the Harry S Truman Institute at the northern corner of the Hebrew University campus. Over looking the far off Dead See, its dilapidated present condition is exemplified by a lonely reader from Europe.
The once lively place hectic with readers, researchers and students is badly in need of a PR to exhibit its hidden treasures. When the University budget shrinks, the library often is the first casualty and Truman Library, which has some of the best collections on Asia in Israel, had seen better days before the late 1990s. I went there to meet my old friend Amnon. Most of my academic sharpness of the complex Arab-Israeli conflict occurred during my daily coffee seasons with him in the café in Frank Sinatra plaza. Amnon still remains cheerful but not the library. It needs a few scholars to utilise its wealth!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Israel at 60: Surviving the odds
With the trauma of the September 11 attacks consuming much of his time and energy, President Bush had little interest in the peace process. His primary attention was devoted to fighting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Subsequently, Iran and its suspected nuclear programme garnered his attention.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Wooing Gulf investments - End of Indian summer over Arabia?
New Indian Express (Chennai), April 30, 2008.
During the last February visit of his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal, both countries agreed to pursue investments in energy, petro-chemical and infrastructure. Mukherjee was also trying to capitalise on the momentum set by the landmark visit of the King as the chief guest at the 2006 Republic Day celebrations.
At the bilateral level, Saudi Arabia has been a major supplier of energy and accounts for about a third of India's total oil imports. With a total trade turnover of just under $ 16 billion, it is India's major trading partner in the Middle East.
Out of an estimated four million Indian workers in the region, at least 1.6 million are gainfully employed in the kingdom. Through their employment and homeward remittances these workers contribute not only to the welfare of their dependent families but also help mitigate India's perennial trade deficit with the region.
However, the manner in which India has approached the political aspects of its relations with Saudi Arabia has been abysmal. The last state visit to Saudi Arabia took place in 1982 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited the kingdom. This was nearly quarter of a century after Jawaharlal Nehru's visit in 1956.
Mukherjee's visit came more than seven years after the visit of Jawant Singh in January 2001. Even the hype over King Abdullah's state visit did not usher in a sense of urgency.
In terms of education cooperation, the New Delhi-based Jamia Millia Islamia has emerged as the principal beneficiary of the Saudi largess. During his visit, King Abdullah was conferred an hon orary doctorate by Jamia for his contribution to peace and promotion of IndoSaudi relations. The Saudi monarch reciprocated this gesture by donating US $ 30 million for the construction of a library and research building.
However, the Indo-Saudi relations cannot be studied only through the energyeconomic prism. The desire of King Abdullah (since his earlier days as Crown Prince before ascending to the thrown in 2005), to reframe the traditional Saudi ties with the US through ‘Look East' policy also has security implications. Saudi Arabia would expect greater Indian transparency in dealing with the Gulf.
For example, did Mukherjee inform the King about the impending visit of Iranian President Ahmadinejad?
Furthermore, both are on a learning curve. The Saudi brand of Wahhabi Islam and Indian secularism are anti-thetical. Yet, geo-strategic compulsions and hardcore realism will force both to reexamine their past perception of one another. The ‘Look East' policy of Saudi Arabia fits well within the Indian desire for greater economic cooperation with the energy giant. While fundamental dif ferences would not be overcome suddenly both countries would have to make se , rious and concerted effort towards mutual understanding.
India has been extremely accommodative of some of Saudi sensitivities. During his State visit King Abdullah skipped the customary visit to the Rajghat. For the Saudi ruler, laying wreath on Mahatma Gandhi's memorial symbolised idol worship, something impermissible under the Wahhabi Islam.
Indeed, the Indian indifference is not particular to Saudi Arabia. Ever since Manmohan Singh became Prime Minister a host of rulers from the region including Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan were in India. The top leadership of the country could not find time or inclination to organise reciprocal visits. Indeed this neglect of the Middle East comes against the backdrop of highsounding rhetoric about energy security .
If once excludes the recent visit of Vice President M H Ansari, even the energy rich Central Asia had not figured in the radar screen of senior Indian leaders.
The lack of sustained follow-up after King Abdullah's visit has to be located in the absence of a foreign minister who can devote his attention and energy exclusively to external affairs. From the days of Nehru, prime ministers often doubled as foreign ministers, thereby imposing organisational limitations on follow-up measures.
Mukherjee, however, faces different problems. Besides his own prime ministerial ambitions, he is the principal firefighter in the government. He heads scores of committees of Group of Ministers and countless number of official panels and party responsibilities. Of late, mediating with the cantankerous Left parties over the nuclear deal has become his principal function.
With a powerful section of the Congress party now rooting for Rahul Gandhi as the next Prime Minister, Mukherjee perhaps will find more time and energy to the external area. Time has come for him to use his rich political acumen to provide a much needed but a long absent leadership to the South Block. Will he now the play the role Manmohan Singh played when heading the North Block in the 1990s?
Sunday, April 27, 2008
As he touches down in New Delhi on Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be having the last laugh. Not long ago Prime Minister Manmohan Singh skipped a summit meeting just to avoid being seen with the Iranian leader. What began as a stopover en route from Sri Lanka has blossomed into a hectic State visit.
The visit marks an interesting phase in India's foreign policy. This is the first formal meeting between the mercurial Iranian leader and Prime Minister Singh. Ever since he was elected President in July 2005, Ahmadinejad has been trying to consolidate his stature and international acceptance. With Western criticisms and disapprovals getting louder, he needed to be seen in different parts of the world and courted by prominent world leaders.�He visited all major non-Western powers such as China, Russia and of course Venezuela, which has emerged as the torchbearer of growing anti-Americanism in the Third World.
Ahmadinejad is literally antithetical to both these leaders. Not only he is moving the country back to radicalism, but has adopted stands that unnerve a number of Iran's Arab and non-Arab neighbours. His periodic Holocaust denials have displeased even Khatami who publicly rebuked the Iranian President.
Six, though they could never say it in public due to geo-political compulsions, the Arab countries are equally worried about Iran. Even without the nuclear genie, Iran has not hesitated to be a regional bully and ready to play the Shia card whenever necessary. Many Iranian officials are gleeful about the failure of American policy in Iraq and the resultant Shia crescent that extends from Bahrain to Bekaa valley in Lebanon.
Monday, April 14, 2008
New Indian Express (Chennai), Monday April 14 2008 16:39 IST