As Gen Bipin Rawat’s address at the Raisina Dialogue played out before world cameras, there was shock and awe on television

by Pratik Kanjilal

CDS Bipin Rawat: Children being radicalised in J-K, isolate them gradually

New Delhi: IT IS commonly understood that in international affairs, conflict is the last resort, and a chief of defence staff who repeatedly provokes on all sorts of issues must inspire perplexed fascination. Perhaps that is the objective of the exercise. In his address at the Raisina Dialogue, with the world’s cameras on him, Gen Bipin Rawat called for a proactive response to countries that sponsor terrorism — an obvious allusion to Pakistan — in the manner of the US after 9/11. He referred to the US forging a coalition against terrorism, but Washington had also resolved to bomb Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. What might our response be in the region, and would it be practical? The next instalment of this edgy sitcom is awaited.

It is surprising that in the debates on TV and online, people were generally shocked much more by the general’s proposal to set up detox camps for radicalised youth. Admittedly, it is startling, because some of the talk was about children. But on the danger scale, posturing at a location which has been recognised as a nuclear flash point since Pokhran II looks like a more immediate problem.

But what’s new about this? Jaw-jaw about war-war dates back to 1998 when, riding the wave of the Pokhran II nuclear test, home minister LK Advani was all for “hot pursuit”. It had discomfited army commanders who had been pursuing a similar policy all along, sending small teams across the line on the quiet. Making it declared policy had put a spanner in the works, but Pramod Mahajan and Madan Lal Khurana of the BJP had amped up the rhetoric regardless.

And we have a CEO weighing in on the CAA, though Times Now felt that Satya Nadella had “waded into” the question of citizenship differentially based on religion. Addressing editors in New York City, he had said that he “would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant create the next unicorn in India”. Later, Microsoft released an official statement from him: “My hope is for an India where an immigrant can aspire to found a prosperous startup or lead a multinational corporation benefiting Indian society and the economy at large.” An admirably practical aspiration, given that the US, where Nadella heads one of the world’s biggest corporations, gained economic and geopolitical clout on the strength of scientists and mathematicians fleeing Europe during World War II for American campuses and defence research organisations.

Nadella was roundly ticked off for being shaky on the details since, as a beneficiary of the CAA, you would have to be a Bangladeshi Hindu who had fled persecution and somehow founded the next Uber. Technically, that is correct, and the devil in the details is laughing. But no one else is, because the big picture is about the process rather than the product, and it consists of every citizen having to prove his or her right to belong. One wonders if it was the reference to Bangladeshis, who have served as a useful bugaboo for the BJP for decades, which set off the reaction. And one wonders if in high dudgeon, the IT cell will switch to Linux or something, shouting, “to hell with anti-national”

Speaking of IT, Elliot Alderson, popularly known as “the French hacker”, has captured over six lakh tweets on trending issues in India (it’s perfectly legal), made a scatter plot of traffic and identified what he calls “spammy accounts”. These are not necessarily bots, but are certainly machine-assisted, because they tweet at inhuman speed — over 20 times an hour, every hour, with no time set aside for sleep, meals or loo breaks. Twitter has suspended many of the accounts that he has named, but it appears that social media is again failing to keep an eye on what goes on in its backyard.

Unless someone marries an extremophile, nothing more out of this world is expected in the next 350 days than Japanese e-retail fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa’s offer on the streaming service Abema TV’s matrimonial show this week. Maezawa is going on the first commercial trip around the moon on Elon Musk’s Big Falcon Rocket in 2023, and is in search of suitable crew — for the journey and for life. Applications in response to the ad — which is actually a whole documentary on the man — closed yesterday, Tokyo time, and the name of the lucky woman will be announced in March.

Given his bank balance after selling a stake in his business to SoftBank, there’ll be no need for press-ganging here. But why does an internet tycoon have to take so much time thinking it over? Doesn’t he have a superconducting, fully parallel supercomputer running an AI that can choose in nanoseconds from an internet of things? Secretly, we all know that a matrimonial ad only describes a thing, whether it’s a man, a woman or an extremophile.