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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Memorable UN Moments!

October 24 is the United Nations Day. On this day in 1945 the United Nations came into force when the five permanent members of the Security Council ratified the Charter of the United Nations. The United Nations was born of perceived necessity, as a means of better arbitrating international conflict and negotiating peace to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,...to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights,...to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.

History is rich with memorable orations delivered by the world's leaders as nations convene to discuss the critical issues of the day. From the impassioned to the provocative to the truly bizarre here are some of the most unforgettable remarks to come out of the UN General Assembly speeches in the last sixty years. To me the most unforgettable event at the UN remains the epic filibuster during a debate on Kashmir. Indian U.N. envoy Krishna Menon holds the record for the longest speech in the history of the U.N. Security Council. Noted for his eloquence, brilliance, and forceful, highly abrasive persona, V.K Krishna Menon started delivering a marathon 7 hour 48 minute speech in UN Security Council on Kashmir issue as a reponse to Pakistan Foreign Minsiter's speech a week earlier. In total it lasted over eight hours. Menon actually collapsed from exhaustion partway through and had to be hospitalized. He returned later and continued for another hour while a doctor monitored his blood pressure. This quote from the speech, delivered on January 23, 1957, is still relevant and remains the key to defending India's position and solving the Kashmir issue by the UN:
“Why is that we have never heard voice in connection with the freedom of people under the suppression and tyranny of Pakistan athorities on the other side of the cease-fire line. Why is it that we have not heard here that in ten years these people have not seen a ballot paper? With what voice can either the Security Council or anyone coming before it demand a plebiscite for a people on our side who exercise franchise, who have freedom of speech, who function under a hundred local bodies?”

He is not quite in Menon's league, but Cuban President Fidel Castro's debut speech at the U.N. Locked in at four and a half hours. A famous quote from his speech:
“Were Kennedy not a millionaire, illiterate and ignorant, then he would obviously understand that you cannot revolt against the peasants”

“Mr. President, call that toady of American imperialism to order”.
Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev provided one of the cold war's most iconic moments when, in an attempt to silence a Filipino delegate who was railing against Soviet imperialism, he issued the above epithet, removed his shoe, and began banging it on the table. The gesture has become a classic example of overheated rhetoric, but it shouldn't have been all that surprising coming from the man who coined the phrase, "we will bury you."
The Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman was invited to address the General Assembly for the first time at the request of the non-aligned movement, a coalition of developing countries that has been historically critical of Israel in the U.N., Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat took the stage wearing fatigues and delivered a blistering attack on Zionism. One year later, the notorious "Zionism equals racism" was passed and Israel's relations with the U.N. have been, at best, uneasy ever since. Here is the famous quote from his speech:
"An old world order is crumbling before our eyes, as imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, and racism, whose chief form is Zionism, ineluctably perish."

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega used the platform of the U.N. to assail U.S policy in Central America, particularly the financing of the Contra rebels and supporting the Somoza dictatorship, which Ortega said "bled the Nicaraguan people dry." The angry speech prompted a walkout from the U.S. delegation. "The people of Nicaragua may have to sit and listen to him, but I don't," said then U.S. Ambassador Vernon Walters. A quote from the angry speech:
"Before consulting the hotheads who present various military options such as a military invasion: remember, President Reagan, Rambo only exists in the movies.''

Venezuela's theatrical president, Hugo Chavez, has always loved the spotlight that the General Assembly provides and it was never more in evidence than when, with a flourish, he compared U.S. president, George W. Bush, to Satan. Chavez also began his regular habit of using his speeches to plug books by prominent leftists authors, when he held up a book by U.S. professor Noam Chomsky. A quote from the speech:
"The devil came here yesterday, and it smells of sulfur still."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has regularly used the UN as a platform to rail against Western powers, particularly his arch-enemy Israel. In his 2008 speech he accused "the Zionist entity" of an array of crimes including causing the South Ossetia war. Another notable feature of Ahmadinejad's speech is the heavy use of religious rhetoric and his use of Shiite religious teachings. A quote from the speech:
"The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a minuscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the U.S. in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner."

After 40 years in power, Libyan Leader Muammar al-Qaddafi spoke to the United Nations for the first time at this year's general assembly and certainly made up for the lost time. In his 100 minute speech most of Qaddafi's wrath was reserved for the U.N. Security Council:
It should not be called security council, but it should be called terror council”.

Most recently, it is Malala Yousafzai's speech at the UN that received standing ovation. Here is the most meaningful excerpt from the speech:
So here I stand...    one girl among many.
I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys.
I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.
Those who have fought for their rights:
Their right to live in peace.
Their right to be treated with dignity.
Their right to equality of opportunity.
Their right to be educated.


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