Khushwant, the man whose obit was written 31 years ago

"He was known nationally as a celebrated lecher but for the past thirty years at least it was a hot-water-bottle that warmed his bed," author Dhiren Bhagat wrote in a mock obit of Khushwant Singh in 1983, a full 31-years before he died. But the "victim", as it were, had the last laugh!

"Contradictions surrounded Khushwant at every stage of his life. He strove to give the impression that he was a drunken slob yet he was one of the most hard-working and punctual men I knew. He professed agnosticism and yet enjoyed kirtan as only few can and do," Bhagat, who died in a road accident in 1988, wrote in The Sunday Observer on Feb 13, 1983.

"He made a profession of living off his friends' important names and yet worked single-handedly to diminish that very importance. Empty vessels make the most noise but Khushwant was always full of the Scotch he had cadged off others....

"Khushwant was always a great raconteur so it is difficult to know what to believe (about him)....

"In '55 he shot to fame when a novel of his won a large cash award set by an American publishing house in order to attract manuscripts. It was a mediocre Partition quickie called 'Mano Majra' (later published as 'Train to Pakistan').

"Years passed. Khushwant kept writing books, on the Jupji, on the Sikhs, on India, stories, translations: many of them provocatively titled and indicative of his deepest desires, 'I Shall Rape the Nightingale', 'I Take This Woman" etc. Some of these attempts were successful.

"But success and cosmopolitan living did not spoil the earthiness of the robust Jat. He continued to down his Scotch with a ferocity that made his hosts nervous. He continued to tell stories that revealed his deep obsession with the anal. He had a theory that all anger was a result of an upset stomach and instructed his son to ask his mother if her stomach walls troubled her whenever she scolded him. In his more smug moments he attributed his own iconoclastic calm to the severe constipation from which he had suffered since childhood.

"In 1969 Khushwant took over the Illustrated Weekly and embarked on the most controversial phase of his career. On the editor's page Mario drew a bulb and Khushwant sat in it, along with his Scotch and dirty pictures. Sitting in that cross-legged position Khushwant took the ailing magazine from success to success, all along illuminating millions of readers on the more outre aspects of the world's brothels. Once in a while he tore into a friend's reputation. So great was our prurience that he became a household name in a short while. Fame he had, honour he sought....

"Then came the Emergency. Khushwant's friends and admirers were very troubled by his stand: Mrs Gandhi was Durga incarnate, Sanjay the New Messiah and the highways of the land were clogged with smoothly running Marutis. Many explanations have been offered for his position but I believe I am the only person to know the right one. (Khushwant in an unguarded whisky-sodden moment once opened up to me and told all.) And since it is only in obituaries that it is proper to disclose the little-known details of a man's personal life I shall come out with it now.

"Impotence had claimed Khushwant back in the fifties. At first he had been sorely troubled by this condition (most Jats are) and had tried several remedies, mostly indigenous. This accounted for his immense knowledge of jaree-bootees and his disillusionment with quacks. When he had finally given up all hope of lighting the wick he had turned to other pleasures with a vengeance. (Exposing his friends' affairs was a favourite pleasure: it was envy compounded with righteousness.) It must be remembered that Khushwant's lechery was of the mildest order: he as a voyeur, he could do nothing. Scotch was a palliative, but in the end even that failed to make up the loss.

"It was Sanjay's power that finally did the trick. So great was the vicarious pleasure the ageing Sardar felt that it went to his head. And after Sanjay's death Khushwant lost his vitality, his vigour. He grew listless. And then the quiet end. A lively man all in all. Even as I write this I am sure Khushwant is busy looking up the angels' skirts. And since angels are constitutionally condemned to celibacy that should suit
Khushwant fine," Bhagat concluded.

Over to Khushwant Singh. He wrote Bhagat's obituary in December 1988.

"The score was more than settled in my favour as I, 40 years older than him, am alive: Dhiren had met his end in a car accident a month earlier in November," Khushwant Singh recalled in India Today December 31, 1990 in a review of "The Contemporary Conservative: Selected Writings of Dhiren Bhagat. Edited by Salman Khurshid".

"I have yet a score unsettled," he wrote of the Rs.20,000 he had persuaded Penguin India editor David Davidar to give Bhagat as advance royalty for a book on the Punjab - which never got written.

"It was the first and the last time we gave an advance to any of our authors. Perhaps the sales of his posthumous collection of articles, short stories and poems may compensate for our loss. But nothing will compensate for the loss that Indian journalism suffered on the death of this bright, erudite, but unpredictable young man in the prime of his life.

"The Contemporary Conservative fairly represents the maturing of Dhiren Bhagat's talent from infancy to his last days. He started composing rhymed verses at the age of eight, continued doing so in school in Ajmer and college in Oxford. They show that though he may not have flowered into a major poet or a writer, he might well have become one of India's top journalists. He was hardworking, abstemious, a teetotaller who didn't even drink tea or coffee: he was a vegetarian and a non-smoker and ambitious. After a brash start trying to attract attention by writing rude articles about established writers, he soon acquired self-confidence and turned out some memorable pieces. He strove for excellence and achieved it in some measure," Khushwant Singh wrote.

Israel retaliates in Syria after roadside bomb attack against Israeli troops

An Israeli tank stationed near Majdal Shams on the border with Syria, on March 19,2014 in Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israel has warned Syria's government that any aggression against Israeli citizens will be met with force, as a roadside bomb attack which injured Israeli troops prompted airstrikes on Syrian targets.

Addressing a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Israeli strikes on Syrian territory targeted elements "that not only facilitated, but also cooperated with, the attacks on our forces."

He added, "Our policy is very clear: We attack those who attack us."

The government of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is engaged in a long-running civil war which has seen some conflict spill over into neighboring countries.

Four Israeli paratroopers were injured Tuesday when the bomb exploded under their patrol jeep in the Golan Heights, near the frontier between Israel and Syria, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Israeli forces responded to the blast with artillery fire aimed at Syrian military targets across the frontier, it said. This was followed by airstrikes early Wednesday.Before the explosion, Israeli forces had detected suspicious movements near the border, the IDF said.

"We will not tolerate any violation of our sovereignty and attacks against our soldiers and civilians, and we will act unwaveringly and with strength against all those that are acting against us, at every time and every place," said Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.

"We see the Assad regime as responsible for what is going on in its territory, and if it continues to cooperate with terror organizations that are trying to attack Israel, we will continue to extract a heavy price from him, in a way which will make him regret his actions."

A statement from the Syrian army command, broadcast by Syrian state TV, said one soldier was killed and seven others injured in Israeli airstrikes on a checkpoint in the Quneitra area. The Quneitra crossing is the only access point between Syria and Israel and in the past has been fiercely fought over by Syrian rebels and government forces.

Israeli artillery, tank shells and armor-piercing shells directed near the village of Seheit had also caused "material damage," the military statement said.

The Syrian army accused Israel of violating the terms of a 1974 "disengagement agreement" between the two nations, and of seeking to ease pressure on the "terrorists" it blames for the violence in Syria.

"The General Command of the Army and Armed Forces warns that these desperate bids of provocations and escalations by these continuing acts of aggressions can risk the security and the stability of the region and open up all possibilities," it said.

Netanyahu, in his Cabinet remarks, said Israel would continue to do all it could to prevent the movement of weapons into Syria.

The mountainous Golan was captured by Israel in 1967 during the Six-Day War against Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Syria. A peace deal was reached between Israel and Syria in 1974, and a U.N. observer force monitors the cease-fire line. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981.
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NASA-funded study: The way to save Western civilization from collapse is communism

The NASA study uses a Human And Nature DYnamical (HANDY) formula “to provide a general framework that allows carrying out ‘thought experiments’ for the phenomenon of collapse and to test changes that would avoid it.” In other words, the model only takes into account general characteristics of fallen civilizations, and not the specifics.

What did the study find? That collapse is hard to avoid in unequal societies as “[e]lites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society.”

Limits on resources harm the working class, while the wealthy are largely insulated from the problem, meaning resources continue to be used without regard to the cost to society. For example, “an increase in vehicle fuel efficiency technology tends to enable increased per capita vehicle miles driven, heavier cars, and higher average speeds, which then negate the gains from the increased fuel-efficiency.”

The only way to avoid calamity is to adopt egalitarian methods of resource distribution if resource consumption is limited and distributed equally — eerily reminiscent of those who champion population control or communism.

“Collapse can be avoided, and population can reach a steady state at the maximum carrying capacity, if the rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed equitably,” according to the report.

Arguments made in this report are similar to those made by White House science czar John Holdren, who has suggested that government should limit the size of the population in order to keep the Earth from becoming unlivable.

Holdren used to collaborate with fellow scholar Paul Ehrlich, who wrote the controversial 1968 book “The Population Bomb.” One such collaboration resulted in a textbook passage that argued that coercive population control methods could be permissible under the U.S. Constitution.

“Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society,” Holdren and Ehrlich wrote. “Few today consider the situation in the United States serious enough to justify compulsion, however.”

Communist countries have also tried to limit population growth while distributing resources equitably. Most notably, the Chinese government had a one child per family policy to rein in population growth. The program was enforced through birth certificates, mass sterilizations and forced abortions. The New York Times reported that 336 million forced abortions and 222 million sterilizations have been carried out since 1971.

This is on top of the unknown number of baby girls that have been killed or left to die under China’s one child policy and the estimated 60 million people killed under the regime of brutal communist dictator Mao Zedong.

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