Britain’s top judge has expressed concern about the use of pilot-less drones as weapons of war. His comments come at a time when there is a growing international concern about the danger these pose to the civilians.
Drones have become an important weapon against the Taliban in the remote mountainous borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan, reports The Independent. “Last month the US admitted to 26 civilian deaths in a series of drone attacks in May. Afghan officials put the death toll at 140, significantly higher than the US claims.
“Lord Bingham compared drones, which have killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Gaza, with cluster bombs and landmines. Last week Israel was accused of using missile-firing drones to unlawfully kill at least 29 Palestinian civilians during the Gaza Strip war.
“Despite having advanced surveillance equipment, drone operators failed to exercise proper caution ‘as required by the laws of war’ in verifying their targets were combatants, said Human Rights Watch, the New York-based monitoring group.
“International lawyers also argue that air strikes using drones are state-sanctioned assassinations where the targeted suspected terrorist has no opportunity to defend the case against him.
“Last month US drone aircraft killed at least 45 Pakistani Taliban militants in south Waziristan when it fired missiles at the funeral of an insurgent commander who was killed earlier that day.
“Two years ago a Predator fired a missile into a wedding party in Afghanistan, killing at least 30 civilians, including children. But they have proved successful in the war against al-Qai’da and the Taliban, who have both lost high-ranking leaders to the unmanned aircraft.”
Swaraaj Chauhan describes his two-decade-long stint as a full-time journalist as eventful, purposeful, and full of joy and excitement. In 1993 he could foresee a different work culture appearing on the horizon, and decided to devote full time to teaching journalism (also, partly, with a desire to give back to the community from where he had enriched himself so much.)
Alongside, he worked for about a year in 1993 for the US State Department’s SPAN magazine, a nearly five-decade-old art and culture monthly magazine promoting US-India relations. It gave him an excellent opportunity to learn about things American, plus the pleasure of playing tennis in the lavish American embassy compound in the heart of New Delhi.
In !995 he joined WWF-India as a full-time media and environment education consultant and worked there for five years travelling a great deal, including to Husum in Germany as a part of the international team to formulate WWF’s Eco-tourism policy.
He taught journalism to honors students in a college affiliated to the University of Delhi, as also at the prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication where he lectured on “Development Journalism” to mid-career journalists/Information officers from the SAARC, African, East European and Latin American countries, for eight years.
In 2004 the BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST) selected him as a Trainer/Mentor for India under a European Union project. In 2008/09 He completed another European Union-funded project for the BBC WST related to Disaster Management and media coverage in two eastern States in India — West Bengal and Orissa.
Last year, he spent a couple of months in Australia and enjoyed trekking, and also taught for a while at the University of South Australia.
Recently, he was appointed as a Member of the Board of Studies at Chitkara University in Chandigarh, a beautiful city in North India designed by the famous Swiss/French architect Le Corbusier. He also teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students there.
He loves trekking, especially in the hills, and never misses an opportunity to play a game of tennis. The Western and Indian classical music are always within his reach for instant relaxation.
And last, but not least, is his firm belief in the power of the positive thought to heal oneself and others.