Loaded dictators & other monsters

In a week when Libya seems set for a regime change, there have been calls in the United Kingdom to freeze the assets and bank accounts of both Col. Muammar Gaddafi and former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who are known to have invested in property and to hold bank accounts in the UK. Mr Mubarak’s overall wealth is

said to be worth more than $70 billion. It may be too late to touch his assets, so the attention has shifted to Col. Gaddafi. While Switzerland has now said that it will freeze Col. Gaddafi’s bank accounts, the UK has not found this as simple to do. It now appears that these accounts can only be frozen if there is a request from the Libyan government or through a UN Security Council resolution. This means that there is every chance the money could be transferred to some safe haven. Sounds like a familiar story? Apart from bank accounts, the Gaddafis also own millions of pounds worth of real estate and shares in various companies, in the UK. It remains to be seen if, at least, these can be eventually sold and the money repatriated to the people of Libya where it belongs.
Perhaps learning a lesson from the fast-moving scent of the Jasmine Revolution, a desperate King Abdullah has unveiled benefits worth $37 billion, which are specifically targeted towards lower- and middle-income groups, including pay rises, unemployment benefits and affordable homes. Now we have to see whether the March 11 Facebook call for a day of rage actually happens or have people been bought off?

Meanwhile, sometimes the timing of a film or a play seems spot on. After watching Col. Gaddafi’s wild ranting on television my thoughts turned to the play Frankenstein which has just opened at the Olivier Theatre in London.
The similarity between the two creatures was fascinating. I don’t know which one is more frightening or repulsive.
And yes, it is Danny Boyle who is directing it. The man is incorrigible! Apart from the excellent timing, the play has also got wonderful reviews. Nick Dear has adapted it from Mary Shelley’s book, written almost 200 years ago. The story in which a scientist creates a creature for the greater good, only to find that it eventually murders him and rapes his wife apparently can still draw packed houses!
It might sound amazing, but it is difficult to get a ticket for a play which has been repackaged and sold over and over again in various mediums.
The first production of the play was in 1823, attended by Mary Shelley herself in which women shrieked and fainted with fright, and critics sagely advised that wives and daughters should not see it. But the credit for the success of the present production lies both with Dear’s interpretation of Frankenstein and with the production quality itself. A further twist has been added by the director’s decision to interchange the two lead actors on alternate nights. Thus both Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller (Angelina Jolie’s ex-husband) get to play Frankenstein as well as the Creature.
But at a more philosophical level, the play which Shelley referred to as her “hideous progeny” resonates very well with today’s scientific discoveries which continue to tamper with the creation of life. To think she wrote it when she was barely 18…

And so, in recognition of brilliant women everywhere, some great news! After Davos, UK companies are also being given a reality check regarding the number of women they have in their top echelons.
It is no secret, alas, that company boards are usually women-free zones. This old boy’s network has dominated British business for a long time, but now Lord Davies has been specially appointed to examine the paucity of women board members and directors and how to push for a fairer representation.
He has suggested a system of quotas: an aggressive policy of the inclusion of, at least, 20 per cent women on the board of companies right now — which should increase to 25 per cent by 2015. Naturally this rather radical policy has met with enormous resistance —with most of the companies shying away from the suggestion. Only 11 per cent were in favour.
But the fact that developed countries are taking the existence of a glass ceiling for women very seriously is something to be welcomed.
There can be no equitable progress in a country where women are left behind. Therefore, along with a quota, it has also been suggested that there should be an annual report by companies on the number of women they employ, including those in the top jobs.
It is a controversial idea but something that should be urgently implemented even India. Instead of caste-based reservations, we should have gender-based reservations and quotas at every level, right from school. It will transform Indian society completely. The time has come to give women a helping hand.
But there may be a strict message in all this for the UK top firms. To begin with, the quota could be voluntary — and if it is not implemented then there would be a legislation to enforce it. In some countries it already exists: Norway has a 40 per cent quota, while Germany, France and Spain are coming on board with legislations.
The European Union is also planning to enforce quotas on the largest companies to create more women directors.
Of course, the usual arguments against quotas are being trotted out — but, at least, it may mean that yet another generation of women might not go unrepresented at the pinnacles of power.
However, Lord Davies has a tough battle ahead; there will be many clones of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav waiting in the bushes out here too, to trip him up, just as they have constantly wrecked the final passage of the Women’s Representation Bill in Indian Parliament.
Another familiar story!

The writer can be contacted at kishwardesai@yahoo.com

Post new comment

<form action="/comment/reply/59768" accept-charset="UTF-8" method="post" id="comment-form"> <div><div class="form-item" id="edit-name-wrapper"> <label for="edit-name">Your name: <span class="form-required" title="This field is required.">*</span></label> <input type="text" maxlength="60" name="name" id="edit-name" size="30" value="Reader" class="form-text required" /> </div> <div class="form-item" id="edit-mail-wrapper"> <label for="edit-mail">E-Mail Address: <span class="form-required" title="This field is required.">*</span></label> <input type="text" maxlength="64" name="mail" id="edit-mail" size="30" value="" class="form-text required" /> <div class="description">The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.</div> </div> <div class="form-item" id="edit-comment-wrapper"> <label for="edit-comment">Comment: <span class="form-required" title="This field is required.">*</span></label> <textarea cols="60" rows="15" name="comment" id="edit-comment" class="form-textarea resizable required"></textarea> </div> <fieldset class=" collapsible collapsed"><legend>Input format</legend><div class="form-item" id="edit-format-1-wrapper"> <label class="option" for="edit-format-1"><input type="radio" id="edit-format-1" name="format" value="1" class="form-radio" /> Filtered HTML</label> <div class="description"><ul class="tips"><li>Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.</li><li>Allowed HTML tags: &lt;a&gt; &lt;em&gt; &lt;strong&gt; &lt;cite&gt; &lt;code&gt; &lt;ul&gt; &lt;ol&gt; &lt;li&gt; &lt;dl&gt; &lt;dt&gt; &lt;dd&gt;</li><li>Lines and paragraphs break automatically.</li></ul></div> </div> <div class="form-item" id="edit-format-2-wrapper"> <label class="option" for="edit-format-2"><input type="radio" id="edit-format-2" name="format" value="2" checked="checked" class="form-radio" /> Full HTML</label> <div class="description"><ul class="tips"><li>Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.</li><li>Lines and paragraphs break automatically.</li></ul></div> </div> </fieldset> <input type="hidden" name="form_build_id" id="form-64db51a14b32ed251f8a24e023fc44c0" value="form-64db51a14b32ed251f8a24e023fc44c0" /> <input type="hidden" name="form_id" id="edit-comment-form" value="comment_form" /> <fieldset class="captcha"><legend>CAPTCHA</legend><div class="description">This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.</div><input type="hidden" name="captcha_sid" id="edit-captcha-sid" value="81180345" /> <input type="hidden" name="captcha_response" id="edit-captcha-response" value="NLPCaptcha" /> <div class="form-item"> <div id="nlpcaptcha_ajax_api_container"><script type="text/javascript"> var NLPOptions = {key:'c4823cf77a2526b0fba265e2af75c1b5'};</script><script type="text/javascript" src="http://call.nlpcaptcha.in/js/captcha.js" ></script></div> </div> </fieldset> <span class="btn-left"><span class="btn-right"><input type="submit" name="op" id="edit-submit" value="Save" class="form-submit" /></span></span> </div></form>

No Articles Found

No Articles Found

No Articles Found

I want to begin with a little story that was told to me by a leading executive at Aptech. He was exercising in a gym with a lot of younger people.

Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen didn’t make the cut. Neither did Shaji Karun’s Piravi, which bagged 31 international awards.