Monday, July 11, 2011

EDITORIAL



Friends
The month began with Lokpal Bill and Baba Ramdev hogging the media limelight. In fact more than Lokpal Bill, the government appeared more worried about the Ramdev factor. That was how four ministers had gone to receive him or meet him at the airport itself. It was an unprecedented move. This importance that the UPA government at Delhi gave to Baba Ramdev was the one that led to all problems. Baba thought he can play difficult. As events unfolded, the fast that Baba Ramdev undertook ended in a fiasco he will never be able to repeat. Of course the share of the blame has to be shared equally by both sides. Yes the whole of India is privy to what happened from 2nd June to midnight of 5th June. Both sides exposed themselves to a complete lack of pragmatism.
To begin with, the threat of fast by Baba Ramdev itself was wrong. Black money as an issue, it was, it is, and it will continue to be in the public domain for a long time. It is also very much true that this government led by Congress is not very keen to act fast and decisively. They have been making some right noises at different times. But they were only noises without any seriousness to follow it up. We all know Hassan Ali case. It has been there for many years in the public domain. Pranab Mukherjee even included the I.T. dues from him, of Rs: 100,000 crores, in 2009/10 budget. But why no action followed until skeleton started falling from the cupboard? Pranab Mukherjee is the senior most politician in the present dispensation. He served Indira Gandhi, he served Rajeev Gandhi, he is serving now Manmohan Singh government. He is privy to everything and is the real stumbling block for any serious piece of action. He will continue to mouth inanities of legal hurdles and all that crap. So there has to be public pressure of serious nature. Baba Ramdev with his large following had the wherewithal to force the issue. But he bungled it royally. First of all he should not have gone on fast in such a teething hurry, just after Anna Hazare’s fast. He could have given the list of demand to the government and a time, of say 3 months, to comeback with their action plan. His problem was, if Anna Hazare, a penniless aged social worker, can force the issue and the media singing paeans about him, why not me, a jet set multi million $ worth yoga guru, still fairly young, with a huge fan club? So it was his ego that was his undoing and drove his movement to an abrupt end. Besides, the list of his demands was pretty long. His advisers failed him here too. It is a simple logic, if issues are many then focus is lost. He should have kept himself to his core issues of Black money, Land acquisition and better price for farmers. Surely even government of Manmohan Singh would have felt constrained to address them, for its sheer validity. Unfortunately both sides turned out clever by half, with police snooping on sleeping crowd in the midnight and Baba trying to escape in salwar kameez. In the event, BJP, the political adversary of the UPA can exploit the situation for their advantage. Of course BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful Sushma Swaraj reduced herself and the party to be laughed at by her dancing at Rajghat. It was a completely avoidable intelligence that went awry.
Yes the Lokpal Bill is continuing to experience serious delivery pangs with the possibility of an IUD (Intra Uterine Death). Both parties are sticking to their respective points of view. There appears to be an impasse. But the government side as usual do not want Prime Minister and higher Judiciary to be covered under Lokpal Bill, with their usual stand that they will be under pressure to discharge their duties freely. It is a plain hog wash. But may be this is one way, how to derail the Lokpal Bill and the Civil Society panel. It was for the first time that a panel was created from among the elected representatives and civil society members to discuss and draft a legislation. This initiative from Anna Hazare, Bhushan duo, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Swami Agnivesh need too be commended. In the overall interest of the country, the political managers should seize the initiative to give to the nation a Bill that whole nation can feel comfortable with. If the idea of a Lokpal is the honest delivery of the national resources to all citizens pari passu, why should there be any problems? Only politicians know, what is good for the country? But they have taken 63 long years, and India, a Super Power in the making, is still groping in uncertain waters. Why? Why?
So, Mamata Banerjee, who engineered the biggest political upset and therefore a monumental change in the body politic of West Bengal, how is she settling down with her newest and the most challenging opportunity of her political life? Report in the print media has informed that she began with a bang. To begin with 10am-5pm culture, out of the window, for all ministers, Saturdays are working days. For first couple of days its past midnight at Writers Building. Yes you heard it right. She refused bullet proof car, declined the privilege of free passage, informed the police that she would stop her vehicle – a black Santro – like all else, at the signals. In fact she even walked the kilometer long route from Raj Bhavan to the Writers Building just to meet the-over 2 lakh-people assembled to see her after her historic win. Of course, she is in great hurry to reach out to her people to keep her promises. Chances of slipping is high. She is honest, sincere and committed and there is no doubt that she is pretty tall among the political dwarfs that are replete all around. Of course she has been more than civil to her opponents. But she needs to be equally pragmatic. Will she be? is a question only coming months shall answer. Yes the ordinance she tried to promulgate on Singur land has back-fired and she quickly backtracked. She can’t take away anything from the Assembly, what is due to it, whether she likes it or not. Coming to selection of ministers, despite her desire to keep it small, it became the biggest of all time with some 44 ministers, with some 10 of them being crorepatis. And her own worth, as per her nomination details, was a mere Rs: 4.73 lakhs, with no house and no car. She is-both seen and known to be-sparten, a model not many shall be able to emulate.
Nitish Kumar deserves to be congratulated for enacting Bihar Special Courts Act, 2009, which empowers the government to confiscate the property of corrupt public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act. There is no such law anywhere in India, yet High Court in Patna upheld the validity of the law and Supreme Court refused to stay the operation of the law. What is debatable is the power, given to the authorised officer under the law, to confiscate the property, if he is convinced that the property was indeed acquired through ill gotten money. While it is true that the law gives the state, represented by the officer, sweeping powers to reduce the alleged accused into penury, the fact that both High Court as well as Supreme Court decided not to play the ball, has certainly strengthened the hands of Bihar government. Surely, before taking a stand, courts could have applied itself. Such a law was indeed needed to curb the proliferation of sleaze. Hope and wish, the law is not misused to check politically inconvenient opponents.
It was in Sept 2010, that the celluloid actor Salman Khan had mouthed inanities of over-smartness while giving his infamous interview to a Pak Channel. He had then, reportedly told the Channel that “Everyone and the world knows the truth that Pakistani government was not behind the Mumbai terror attack,” and added “It is also a fact that the terrorist strike took place because our Indian intelligence and security failed miserably”. Now is he going to eat his words or swallow it? The story of Dawood Gilani urf David Headley – a Pakistani - Muslim convert Christian – unfolded to the world via the Chicago Court, has unmistakably exposed the Pakistan’s sinister role in spreading mayhem in India. It was not just the complicity, it was the active participation that this David Headley spoke, which comprehensively exposed the lie, that this Islamic Republic of Pakistan was continuously indulging in, to harm India and Indians. And for this juvenile and uncalled for statement, whom was this Salman Khan trying to impress? Some of his friends & admirers in Pakistan? In the first place who is Salman Khan after all, to comment on such a serious issue as terrorist attack, what is his locus standi? He is only a film actor. Being an actor, he is nobody. He should keep his talents to gyrations and chasing girls in the cine films and deliver those dialogues which somebody else has written for him and his ilk. Giving opinions on issues like terrorism is simply not his cup of tea. And 26/11 wasn’t just a terror attack, it was a war on India.
That Pakistan’s ISI involvement was a forgone conclusion, was never in doubt. But for the home Minister and the Prime Minister to say only that “nothing new has come, we already know it” after the David Headley exposure in Chicago, was to be less than serious. They should have hyped the decibel to a much higher level to make the world sit up and take note. Is it another dimension of our being soft? At this point it is very pertinent to point out, that Al-Qaeda would have beheaded this Dawood Gilani when he became David Headley. But the truth is he became a Christian only to hide his identity to carry on his nefarious activities. For all you know, he could still be visiting Mosques on Fridays, if not all days.
Ayman Al-Zawahiri who took over the mantle of Al Qaeda, has vowed to continue jihad against America saying “Man who terrified America in his life will continue to terrify it after his death” is nothing new. Violence has been the core of Al Qaeda philosophy, and violence will only lead to violence and more violence. But how will this solve the problem between Al Qaeda and the rest of the world? This is a question neither Al Zawahiri or the U. S. would answer. It is true that in the past, U.S. has been the initiator of violence to force their point of view, but they do retrace their steps. It is possible for the civilized world to pressure the U.S. to fall in line, a semblance of democracy still exists. But with Al Qaeda’s secretive existence and equally secretive operation makes it an extremely difficult customer to handle. Should this Al Qaeda abjure violence and raise the peace banner, it can be 100% wagered to believe that U.S. under Barrack Obama shall be more than willing to talk and draw a road map for global peace and to address all problems affecting not just the Islam, or those Muslim countries, but the entire world. Isn’t this prospect worth dreaming? It is indeed eminently possible that such a scenario is not far fetched but within the realm of human endevour. As Obama had rightly observed long ago in his seminal writing “Audacity of Hope”, that we have more things that unite us than those that divide us. Yes, people like Al Zawahiri, who is a medical doctor, needs to think out of the box, to play his role as a responsible leader of a section of humanity for the larger good of the world in general and for the good of his own people in particular. Or else time will run out for him so also for those ideas for which he and his ilk live on.
Although most of the candidates selected from Rahul brigade of young and energetic couldn’t make it in the hustings, the case of P.K. Jayalaxmi, a 29 year old tribal deserves special mention. She is not only the youngest elected representative of Kerala, but also now made a minister. Being very young and tribal makes it special. Being a graduate in Communicative English, her job is cutout to take her Ministry for Welfare of Scheduled Tribes and Youth Affairs in Oomen Chandy ministry to a higher level. At least there will be one from Rahul’s selection, who will take the cause of women, places. She is from the tribe who are archers and is a state silver medalist in archery. She has already done away with her police protection saying “No way, we are warrior clan you see”. So the change is coming, although very slowly. Lets wish her god speed.
Coming to women’s empowerment, there is also a good news from Jammu & Kashmir where highly educated women have entered the political scene as never before. Both National Conference and PDP have encouraged women to take to politics. There are law and economics graduates entering the largely men’s domain of Kashmir politics and making their mark. It is good for women, and good for the society and the country. Some lessons for Congress and BJP, who only talk about women empowerment but does very little on the ground?!
When it comes to senior leaders accused of corruption, all parties appear, at least Congress and BJP, same, in some-how protecting them. Going, going, not gone is the story of Kripa Shankar Singh, the Mumbai Congress Chief, who was facing serious corruption charges, after all is not going. For months the issue of his ouster was in the air, but somehow nobody, including the powerful Congress President, strangely, did not take the call. Now, how these Congressmen can accuse the BJP leadership for not asking the Karnataka CM, B.S. Yediyurappa to take a walk? To do a thing, the wrong way, there are hundreds ways. But to do a thing, the correct way, there is only one way, the correct way. As usual it is politicking of the useless kind.
Among the high decibel fasting of both Hazare and Ramdev, the quite but dignified fast of Medha Patkar, did not elicit the, media and civil society, response it deserved. However it is to the credit of Maharashtra Government that, before Medha could fall badly ill, they acted. She was fasting against the demolition of slum colony of Ganesh Kripa Housing Society by the government. Yes, she was fasting for aam aadmi, a non-issue for both media and high strung civil society. Similar was the case of the young 34 year old Nigamananda swami who died fasting, over the government’s refusal to ban mining on the banks of the River Ganga, near Haridwar. In fact it became a national issue when the swami died. And suddenly Ministry of Environment is coming alive to address the problem. Isn’t it a sad reflection of our society, our administration, our 24x7 media, that how easily we lose our sense of proportion, if there is no accompanying hype to our movement, despite issues being so fundamental? It was only because electronic media ignored them, it went out of sight for the society as well as administration. A sad aspect of our tryst with destiny. Here it is important to highlight that the Chief Minister of Uttarkhand, where the young swami succumbed to his fasting, found time to visit Ramdev in Haridwar, but had no time for the swami. You make big noise, you are heard, or else you are damned.
“Govt. constitutes Task Force to oversee the RTI implementation” informed a press report. A Special Task Force, ostensibly to ensure effective implementation of the Act, so also to bring about more transparency in governance. Section 4 of the Act informs that a public authority, like ministries, government departments, public sector companies are duty bound to maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed and put it in public domain. Besides there are so many do’s and don’ts which union government has not seriously looked into, in making RTI as a tool of people’s empowerment, complain RTI activists.
“The Special Task Force will finalise its recommendation by 31st July” the Deptt of Personnel and Training of the Union government maintained while responding to the complaints. On the other hand the cabinet decided to exclude CBI from the ambit of the RTI. Isn’t it strange?
The idea of keeping CBI out of bounds for activists was probably an afterthought, after an activist was provided with the info by Central Information Commissioner (CIC). CIC had earlier provided an applicant, information on expenditure on the infamous Italian fugitive Quattrocchi case. The information had exploded on the face of CBI, which claimed the expenditure to be Rs: 250 crores and hence asked the court to permit CBI to close the case. But according to CIC, it was only Rs. 5 crores that the CBI had spent. So suddenly, it appears, some powerful vested interest, got alerted and decided to influence the UPA government to get the CBI excluded from the RTI net. So on one hand they are keeping CBI out and on the other they are constituting STF to promote RTI implementation. That is UPA govt for you.
Issue of ‘Maran must go’ has gained momentum with BJP and Jayalalitha making concerted noises. The fact of Maran’s brother owned Sun TV getting Rs: 600 crores as investment as a quid-pro-quo from the Malaysian Maxis group for allotment of telecom licences for 14 circles when Maran was the Telecom Minister in UPA-I is already in the public domain. Luckily for Maran, his wrong doing came to light much later than that of A. Raja of his party, the DMK. The investment of Rs: 200 crore in Kalaingar TV of Karunanidhi family is 1/3 of what Maran did for his brothers company Sun TV, and yet both Raja, the then Telecom Minister in UPA-II and Kanimozhi, M.P. and Karunannidhi’s daughter, are in jail. But Maran is still moving freely, although the possible arrest is in the air. But strangely our most honest Prime Minister is indecisive on Dayanidhi Maran. Is he waiting for it to be blown on his face? Another scam gaining credibility is the story of personal telephone exchange for Maran’s residence in Chennai with 323 lines from BSNL linked to Sun TV. Reportedly, in one month alone, usage by this 323 lines to Sun TV cost the exchequer some whopping Rs. 440 crores.
So its not just bribery, but also fraud, on the nation by Maran. So there is enough room for PM to act. The question is, what is stopping him to sack Maran, the present Textile Minister in UPA-II?
Mouthing inanities has become a kind of past-time for this joker of Diggi Raaja. From calling Baba Ramdev a Thug, and stating that Ramdev’s movement is backed by RSS and Sangh Parivar, and that he should only concentrate on Yoga and Ayurveda and not meddle in politics of corruption, he has become a kind of spokesman for Congress High Command’s unstated agenda.
He confirmed it, when he openly floated the idea that Congress Yuvaraj Rahul Gandhi is ready to take over the reins of Prime Minstership of the country. While everybody is entitled to dream, should this coterie politics push Rahul as PM, that will be a greater disservice Congress shall be doing on the country and can cause serious problems to the body politic of the country.
Refusal of Karnataka government, the “World Heritage Site” tag of UNESCO, displays the short-sightedness of Yediyurappa government. The reason cited for the refusal was that it would hinder developmental activities. Normally, one would think that such a tag would be a matter of honour for the state, but the wooly eyed state leadership does not think that way. For them development really means that of themselves and that of their industrial friends, who cannot exploit the Ghats once UNESCO tag comes. Of course, it is to the credit of Jairam Ramesh, the activist MoEF, who has declined to accept the refusal of the state govt. Why BJP governments all over the country are becoming environment unfriendly, is a question that needs to be addressed.
A.K. Antony, honest and transparent that he is, sitting over a huge defence budget, decided to spend some part of it, a big one at that, on his home state. Is he doing anything wrong? Of course non-Keralite Indians may have reason to complain. Truth is Keralites are, all over the world, in search of employment, because there is no new industry being set up. Thanks to the red flag culture of trade unionised communist politics, nobody from across the world-including India-want to venture into the Gods Own Country with private investment to set up industry. Now that Antony is the Union Defence Minister, reportedly, he has blessed the state with some seven defence projects since his becoming the Minister in Oct. 2006. Seven is indeed one-too-many. Latest being the Coast Guard Academy at Azhikkal, while just 20km away is the Indian Naval Academy Ezimalla inaugurated only 2 years ago. Then there is National Instt. for Research & Development in ship building near Kozhikode. So also the strategic electronic unit at Kasargod of HAL Bangalore is another major activity that graced the Kerala landscape. Then there are companies like BHEL and BEL setting up their defence related units in Palalkkad and Kochi. Thus the list is pretty long. Good thing is Antony does not have a personal agenda, and he was hand picked for the job only because of his personal impeccable integrity. He is doing something for his people. Look at Mamata’s tenure as Railway Minister. All are privy to the knowledge how many railway development projects she brought to West Bengal. But there are any number of politicians, who only mouth clichés of crafty politics, including those from Karnataka. Minister of State for Railways Muniappa, not only could not do much for Karnataka, where he got elected from, he could not save the only train from Mangalore to Bangalore from being extended to Kannur in Kerala by the Malayalee lobby headed by E.Ahmed, the other state minister at Railway Bhavan. Now it is Yashwantpur/Kannur xpress, via Mangalore although there is another train starting from Yashwantpur to Kannur only 35 minutes before this train, but going via different route directly to Kannur. This train reaches Kannur much before the train that goes via Mangalore. Hence the crowd from Mangalore to Kannur is not even 100 in the train. A huge waste, by any stretch of imagination. But it is Kerala politics that prevailed and Karnataka MPs could do precious nothing. Even when it comes to other projects, Karnataka MPs are not a force to reckon with.
Power of tainted money is such that, now a larger part of the world is worked up to make the black money, banked in tax havens, as a national priority to bring it back to where it truly belongs. According to reports coming from Organisation for Economic Co—operation and Development (OECD), global bodies are putting enormous pressure, including threat of sanctions on tax havens like Switzerland and Luxembourg to change its non transparent laws and share information.
OECD, a group of 34 developed countries, who account for some 80% of the world trade, is exerting pressure by adopting a set of criteria for black listing tax havens if they refuse to co-operate. Switzerland, Luxembourg and Austria are member countries of OECD working closely with the G 20 (Group of 20 countries). Jeffry Owens, one of the directors of OECD has reportedly stated that “at the G 20 Cannes Summit in Nov. 2011, OECD would recommend tough actions against tax havens, should these countries play difficult”. At least for the Indian aam aadmi it is a good development. Hope this coloured money, estimated between $ 450 bn to $ 1400 bn, does come back to India to make a difference to the man on the street. Only then the Super Power status dream may become relevant, when nobody goes to bed hungry.
This must be the real first, anywhere in the world, that a father, who happened to be the executive head of a state could have written a poem on his daughter to be included in the school text book of the state. Muthuvelu Karunanidhi, who is a professional film script writer, who became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu did exactly that. One of the first thing that J.Jayalalitha did was to appoint a committee to go into the school curriculum, where poems and passages in praise of M. Karunanidhi and his daughter Kanimozhi were snuggled in. Come to think of it that a subject of poetic adulation, instead of being on a high pedestal, in the socio-political domain, is actually in the jail on corruption charges, could be a bit of tragi-comedy, for the students of Tamil Nadu government schools. It could be true that the arrogance of power of the DMK patriarch had corrupted him so completely that he did not think twice to include himself, his daughter and his political party, approvingly to the utter disdain of all and sundry, except may be his sycophantic boneless wonders called partymen. In the event things went so bad for both party and Kanimozhi, not only because of the drubbing the party suffered at the hustings, but also because of the 2G spectrum corruption charge and the consequent jail term to Kanimozhi. The order of the Apex Court to examine the curriculum and to delete those objectionable portion is indeed a relief for both the students and Kani/DMK combine, or it can also be hugely embarrassing for the lady and her father, the party supremo.
With the Adarsh Society scandal in the South Mumbai becoming murkier by the day, with files of all kinds missing, Ministry of Environment has a herculean task in its hands, how to get going with Maharashtra politicians & babus who are ‘professional machinists’. Machination is their wont, as can be seen in the statement of Prathviraj Chavan, the Maharashtra CM. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function, Chavan was reported to have stated “Lavasa too important to be scuttled” despite the centre directing the state government to act against the Lavasa developmental norms. While it is true that huge amounts have been spent on Lavasa, the usual arrogance of the industry that they can buy up anything and everybody needs to be contained, to fall in line. While Chavan indicated that being such a big project for Maharashtra, government will regularise the project may be by penalising the company both on record and off the record. So it is always the ‘Paise ka bol baala’, when money speaks, all goes quite. Poor Jairam Ramesh.
Amidst the cacophony of ruling politicians and so-called intellectuals berating the civil society panel members for supposedly usurping the role of parliament or the power of elected members comes the refreshing news from Canada. There was this news in the print media titled “Shocking protest stunt against Canada PM!”. A 21 year old Brigette DePape, as if a bolt from the blue, raised a banner inside the parliament “Stop Harper” disrupting the speech of Governor General to open the first session of the new parliament in early June, around the same time New Delhi was witnessing the anti corruption rallies. She was reportedly protesting the agenda of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on environment, defence, tax and other issues. Stating that Prime Minister’s agenda is ‘extremely harmful’ for Canada, she stressed “We need to challenge the assumption that democracy happens only once every four years. Real democracy happens in our everyday lives and in everyday actions.” Supporting her unprecedented action was Oscar winning documentary maker Michael Moore, who reportedly signed off saying “It is only through these unconventional actions that we can challenge the status quo”. Something our so-called law makers have to know and learn. Yes the question is why should the changes come only once in 5 years? If people have given you the power, they have the power to question you and your action. Isn’t is so true what Anna Hazare had said “Sevak Maalik ban gaya hai, ye hamara daurbhagya hai”. Yes, issue indeed needs to be forced, whether Kapil Sibal & Company like it or not.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appears to be in trouble of some kind. Across the media spectrum, he is being portrayed as a “lame duck” Prime Minister. No other Prime Minister, anywhere in the world must have been written about, as Dr Manmohan Singh, the economist bureaucrat. As World Bank Director, as Finance Secretary, as RBI governor, as adviser to ministries and Finance Minister to PV Narasimha Rao, and since last seven years as Prime Minister, lot of black has gone on to the white. From variously described as the most educated, to most honest, to cleanest to weakest to most helpless, most laid back, Dr Singh unfortunately gives an impression of all these. It is true that he avoids limelight, but he also avoids domestic press. But he is comfortable with foreign press, since they can be handled better with their uncomfortable questions, if any, and has a tendency to blame opposition parties for the problems of the country. Ever since the 2G spectrum became staple diet of the media and public space, Dr Singh has come under greater scrutiny for his commissions and omissions of actions, took place or did not take place. Whether, it was the Ottavio Quattrochi's flight from Indian justice system, or the quick response to de-sealing of his a/c in London, or delay in action on A. Raja, the former Telecom Minister, or on the role of Dayanidhi Maran, another former Telecom Minister, but currently Textile Minister in UPA II and action thereon, Dr Singh has come under criticism. Latest is the Reliance Industries and the ministry of Petroleum partnership in causing national loss. He is accused mainly by media and opposition leaders, besides the so-called experts and intellectuals who take part in T.V. programmes, as ineffective and has failed to assert the Prime Ministerial authority. This accusation is not without reasoning and hence got stuck. In his latest interaction with a small group of editors, he criticised CAG for being pro-active that has rather gone down badly with the media. CAG is a watch dog and is doing its role effectively. If 2G was exposed to the level, that it is, the major credit goes to CAG. Now they are out with a draft report on RIL/Murli Deora involvement in price fixing to the benefit of Mukesh Ambani, and PM says this activism will discourage entrepreneurs. That’s plain nonsense. This type of criticism will not take him anywhere, except that, looters of the national wealth shall only be happy. Yes, things are not hunky-dory for the Prime Minister. If he does not assert himself, the accusation that he is 'lame duck' will remain. If it is difficult to face up to the Congress President who made him the Prime Minister, it will help him if goes along with the reports of constitutional bodies, like CAG, PAC, etc. so that a hope that we have a performing Prime Minister, shall come about. Hope it happens in the larger interest of the country.
For the kind of problems that Karnataka governor created for the state government, we have debated in the Focus the relevance of the constitutional post of governor to states. Hope readers find it interesting, and shall revert with their response. Rest of the issues are as usual.

FOCUS

ARE GOVERNORS SUPERFLUOUS IN INDIA?
Frankly, kind of governors this country is saddled with, they are indeed not needed.
But who are these governors anyway?
It was the Crown of England, centuries ago, started the use of this word, ascribed to an official appointed by the Crown to manage a geographical area, more specifically called ‘a province’. This governor enjoyed enormous power and stature, along with immense prestige, perks and privileges. Free India borrowed this concept from the Government of India Act of 1935, enacted by the British Parliament. Article 155 of the Constitution lays down that ‘The governor of a state shall be appointed by the president by warrant under his hand and seal’. Article 156 provides ‘The governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the president”. But the practice has been that both appointment and dismissal of governor is based on the recommendation of the federal government at New Delhi and term is usually kept at 5 years, and normally the person, so appointed, is not from the same state. Under the Indian constitution governor has both Legislative as well as Executive Powers. Power to call the meeting of the assembly, adjournment of the assembly and the dissolution of the assembly are among the most important powers that a governor enjoys. However the power to dissolve the assembly is the most potent one.
As a representative of the central government, he is, what President of India is to the Union of India, a de jure head of the state. As head of the state, he has to represent the people of the state in their fight to get their due from the federal government rather than vice versa, within the overall national context. The Constitution empowers him to actively interface with the state government to be consulted, to caution and to encourage. His role is that of a ‘friend, philosopher and guide’ to his Council of Ministers with array of discretionary powers.
Of course these are all ideal situations. In reality he is the ear and eye of the central government. And the trouble arises when the federal government is ruled by one party and the state has a government of an opposition party. On many instances, central governments have recommended the recall or dismissal of governor, they are not comfortable with. Although the constitution envisage the appointment of governors by the President and makers of the constitution wanted the governor to be above partisan politics, in practice, especially during and after the Indira Gandhi era, it has always been to reward an old party war-horse or to rehabilitate a retired babu who has been a partner in the past with their political masters in their wheelings and dealings.
The ruling dispensation at the centre, more often than not, used the office of governor as a kind of patronage. It was also the best way to either reward a friend or send a troublesome party leader into political oblivion. Example of Vasant Dada Patil who was the Maharashtra Chief Minister and SM Krishna, the then Karnataka CM, who is at present MEA at centre, are the ones who were banished to Rajasthan and Maharashtra respectively, as governors.
Governors playing politics or appointed to play politics was started during the reign of Indira Gandhi and continued through Rajeev Gandhi to the current outfit at the centre, the UPA, headed by the Congress. So its been always Congress who played dirty forcing Governors to play dirty.
History of governors playing partisan politics in the state under their rule is fairly long. It has reportedly a history of some 53 years of 63 years of India as a free nation.
Over the years, the Raj Bhavans all over the country had become rehabilitation centres of senile political heavy weights of the ruling party at the centre, a kind of ‘Old-Age Homes’. Most of these persons were octogenarians with fragile health, but still looking for easy life of comforts and power without responsibility. The six decades that India has traversed on the Westminster model of political governance, it is fairly well documented, how it has been a hand maiden in the hands of ruling politicians of the day. From Thakur Ram Lal to Sardar Buta Singh, to the latest in this line of trouble making governors, Hans Raj Bhardwaj, all of them are members of Congress party.
Although there are quite a few others who did not act creditably from Raj Bhavan, with some of the state governments ruled by opposition parties, three of them stand out for their acts of brazenness.
Thakur Ramlal, who was an MLA from Himachal Pradesh, elected continuously six times, and was Chief Minister twice, was sent to Andhra Pradesh, where N.T. Rama Rao had become a kind of nemesis of Congress party. N.T. Rama Rao’s Telugu Desam Party had won 203 of the 294 seats in Andhra Assembly, against the 56 seats won by Congress Party, in the Dec. 1983 election. Congress had lost power in Andhra for the first time.
Having started the political party less than a year ago it was a stupendous show for the showman NTR (as N T Rama Rao was known). He had truly humbled the Indian National Congress of which Indira Gandhi was the President as well, besides being the Prime Minister of the country. And Indira Gandhi, the then Indian Prime Minister couldn’t digest the idea of sitting in the opposition. So she sends a professional politician as Governor with ‘instructions’ to see how things can be reversed.
On 15th Aug. 1984, exactly one year after Ramlal came to Hyderabad as Governor, he dismissed the Telugu Desam government, when NTR, the Chief Minister, was on a foreign trip. Ramlal installed a former Congressman, Nadendla Bhaskar Rao as the Chief Minister stating that he had the support of majority, which was not true. This move had the blessings of Indira Gandhi.
On his return NTR mobilised all his supporters and paraded them at Raj Bhavan. An unmoved Ramlal rejected his claim. There was widespread condemnation across the country. Most opposition political parties supported NTR in his fight for restoration of his democratically elected government. In the crisis that remained for almost a month, Indira Gandhi was forced to remove the Governor Ramlal and Shankar Dayal Sharma, who was to become the President of India in later years, was sent to Hyderabad as new Governor, who restored NTR as the Chief Minister in Sept. 1984.
Like Ramlal, so was Sardar Buta Singh. He was sent by the centre to Bihar to try and install the government of its choice, and see that it survives without any hiccups. Unfortunately the figures at the hustings did not add up to the required equation. However, since Governor Buta Singh did not want the opposition to have a fair chance to form the government, using his legislative powers he dissolved the assembly, leaving the opposition NDA in lurch. Thus the Governor Buta Singh not only went against the constitutional propriety but also imposed on an impoverished state, a huge expenditure of crores of rupees for another, completely avoidable, election on the state. Of course as the luck would have it, NDA romped home with a comfortable majority on its own. Both Congress and the Governor were disgraced.
Of course it is indeed very fortuitous that Nitish Kumar got an opportunity to preside over the destiny of Bihar with dedication and commitment and proved a complete nemesis to his beite noire Lalu Yadav and his RJD in the election that followed in 2010.
Besides Bihar, around the same time, there were other 2 attempts by Raj Bhavan, in Goa and Jharkhand, to blatantly interfere with the constitutional provisions and to promote the interest of ruling combine at the center. Like Bihar, even Jharkhand escaped from the viciousness of the gubernatorial excesses and the opposition managed to have its government, despite the centre’s wishes to the contrary.
Here it is important to recount the Supreme Court intervention in the Bihar imbroglio. According to PTI "The apex court has held that Bihar governor Buta Singh’s decision to recommend dissolution of the state assembly under the garb of checking defection was obviously perverse and taken in bad faith,” observed a five judge constitution bench, in a majority verdict. “On facts, the inescapable inference is that the sole object of the governor was to prevent the claim being made to form government and the case would fall under category of bad faith” said the judgement.
Rebutting the contention of the centre that the governor was in the know of the state of affairs in the state which was ‘destroying the very fabric of democracy’, the judgement observed that, “it had not reached that stage and the governors report was intended to forestall any voting and staking of claim to form the government”. The judgement further held that, “There was no material, let alone relevant, with the government, to assume that there was blatant distortion of democracy by induced defection through unethical and unconstitutional means”.
It was a damning indictment of the governor, and exposed the culpability of the central government. The very fact, that it met at midnight to discuss the issue and woke up the President in a foreign country to sign the ordinance to impose President’s Rule smacks of its being more than a willing partner in this rape of democracy.
Looking to the case of former law minister of UPA-I, Mr. Hans Raj Bhardwaj, it is unparalleled in many ways. He was appointed governor of Karnataka on 24th June 2009, replacing Rameshwar Thakur, a Chartered Accountant Congressman. Thakur was transferred despite his term not having been completed. So was there a plan in place in sending Bhardwaj, a lawyer by profession, to the only BJP ruled state in the south? Or at least, an appearance of an agenda is not misplaced. We at ISSUES & CONCERNS have written about his misadventures or his acts of commission or omission, at least, on 9 occasions during his less than two years time in Raj Bhavan in Bangalore.
There was this report in the print media, “with governor’s nod, failed BDS student gets another chance”. It was about a student who had failed, but had an IPS officer for a father, with close intelligence proximity to the Governor. Despite being a lawyer, former Union Law Minister, Bhardwaj as Governor of Karnataka did not blink, before asking the university (RGUHS) to constitute a committee and look into it and report back in a week’s time to re-examine the student. It is another matter that former V.Cs were aghast at this unprecedented gubernatorial intervention. And come to think of it, it was the same governor who had earlier in the month admonished the state government on law and order and other issues. Admonishes, advises and other irritating interventions, the governor Bhardwaj continued and it culminated with Bhardwaj writing to Election Commission to disqualify Reddy brothers, who are ministers in Karnataka government, ostensibly for holding office of profit, in other words, their business interests. Based on a complaint by a Congress MLC, alleging misuse of office by Reddy brothers in furthering their business interest, Governor issued a notice to Reddy brothers, and since they did not respond, wrote to EC to disqualify them. Now, as a Governor, ‘a friend, philosopher and guide’ that he is, could have called up the Chief Minister for a report and then act accordingly. But the Congressman in him, and the lawyer in him, probably prompted him to ‘act’.
Then there is this tasteless and arrogant dressing down Bhardwaj gave to the Vice Chancellor of Mysore University in public. There was widespread condemnation of it in the media and in public space, which described the Governor’s action ‘most uncivilized and autocratic’.
Because of his incessant and no-holds barred missives and irritating interventions he has been described in a section of the media that ‘Bhardwaj is probably the noisiest governor any state in India had’. Some time in September 2010, he returned a bill sent to him for ratification, which was probably anybody anywhere wouldn’t have returned unsigned. The Akrama/Sakrama bill, which is the bill to regularise illegal construction or occupation of government land over a long period of time against some hefty fine and other charges is a normal legislative process any where in India, and all political dispensations, present and past, have done this, rightly or wrongly. Here we have governors like Bhardwaj fishing in troubled waters.
Fortunately for all the agenda of governor Bhardwaj, the B. S. Yediyurappa government in Karnataka, is not an iconic model government, practicing positive principles of governance. It is to the credit of BSY, that he presides over a corrupt government, where he is having a running battle with the state Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde. Media is full of stories of scams involving him and his family members, besides some of his cabinet colleagues. With occasional bouts of blowing hot and cold, Governor Bhardwaj has honed his skill of pricking BSY & Co. over a period. He had gone quite after that ‘Confidence Vote’ fiasco, but got the opportunity to ‘rehab’ himself as the ‘custodian of ethics’ in Bangalore after the land scam involving Yediyurappa & his family members, besides some ministers. Of course, the family of former PM, HD Deve Gowda, had gone on overdrive with their complaint to Lokayukta, and issues were already under investigation, hence there was no role for the governor. But the itch to prick the CM, BSY, governor couldn’t resist. Governor Bhardwaj grants permission to prosecute the Chief Minister. So now its no holds barred. Of course, the mutual accusations between ruling party and opposition is a normal ongoing drama in all states all over India. And Governor could play a more responsible role to have a performing and accountable government without raising hackles. But as was evident, he opted for a course of open confrontation, all along his term of less than two years. The latest being the recommendation of the Governor to impose President’s rule in Karnataka, in the wake of Supreme Court judgement on 16 MLAs of Karnataka assembly reversing their disqualification back in Dec. 2010, by the Karnataka Speaker, and later upheld by Karnataka High Court. Of course whether the judgement is right or not is not the concern of the Governor. But he took a unilateral decision that on the last date of confidence vote in Dec. 2010, the BJP didn’t have the majority since these 16 MLAs were qualified to vote and that they had withdrawn their support. Now this was an interpretation nobody asked for, and although the centre would have wanted to act on the recommendation, they didn’t, knowing fully well the explosive possibilities. No wonder the news papers gave a call “Bhardwaj has to go”. One news paper even called him ‘serial offender’ and hence ‘should be recalled’.
Here it is very pertinent to reproduce what The Hindu editorial said, quote “Unabashedly partisan in his motives and actions, Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj has been for a long time now, a disgrace to the constitutional office he holds. At every available opportunity, he has been abusing the authority of his office to unseat the BJP government of B.S. Yediyurappa” unquote.
The foregone pages have amply demonstrated how the Governor, who is a, “friend, philosopher & guide” has become “foe, selfish and a misguide”, when it came to opposition ruled states. Yes, he was only promoting the interest of his party bosses in New Delhi, and not the President of the Indian Union, who is truly the constitutional head.
Here, we need to ‘appreciate’ the predicament of the ruling party in the centre. Every time when ministry is formed at the centre, there are many aspirants to the ministerial position, but cannot be accommodated, due to co-alition equations. Compulsions of co-alition dynamics forces the hand of the ruling party to yield to the demands of co-alition partners. For this, choices are nil or limited. This leaves many disgruntled elements in the ruling party who need to be accommodated. Some of them end up as state governors, and some would even leave party. Buta Singh is one such. He left Congress for BJP and then again returned to Congress. And since he had some scores to settle with BJP, he was thus sent to Bihar to unsettle Bihar arithmetic. In the event, everything went in favour of opposition, is another matter.
Having discussed the misuse of the constitutional office of governor by the ruling clique at the centre, what is needed to be discussed is the relevance or otherwise of this gubernatorial office.
In a parliamentary democracy, like the President at the centre, Governor in the state is only a constitutional head. Occasionally he is called upon to discharge some of his duties, which are few and far between. He generally acts on cabinet recommendations or the council of ministers. So also for whatever reasons, when Governor is not available or his position remains vacant, the Chief Justice of the state acts as Governor, in case of need. Thus, in terms of involvement in the Governance, it is so few, his absence is never felt. Thus the question, is, in a country like India, ‘ISNT GOVERNOR’S POSITION SUPERFLUOUS?
India has 29 states plus union territories. Can you imagine the recurring expenditure besides the capital expenditure, on this Raj Bhavan and its occupants and the attendant paraphernalia, month after month, year after year, for all these 61 years as Sovereign Republic. It can surely be thousands of crores of rupees. Can’t this money be put to better use than wasting it on men and women in their seventies and eighties, not in their pink of health, only to enjoy in comfort, the state largesse, in a Royal Old-Age Homes called Raj Bhavan, especially when Chief Justices of High Courts can double up, when needed, at no extra cost?

J.Shriyan

SERIAL : 34

GANG LEADER FOR A DAY
The Hustler and the Hustled
I spent a few days trying to track down J.T., but nobody knew where he was. I couldn’t wait any longer. So I went back to Robert Taylor and found C-Note in the parking lot. He and two other men were working on a car.
“C-Note, please,” I begged, “What did I do? Tell me.”
C-Note stood up and wiped the oil off a wrench. He motioned for the two other men to leave us alone. One of them gave me a nasty look and muttered something that sounded equally nasty, but I couldn’t quite make it out.
“You need to learn to shut your mouth,” C-Note finally said.
“Shut my mouth? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t play with me. All that shit I told you. All them niggers I introduced you to. If you told me you were going to tell J.T., they were making that money, I wouldn’t have told you nothing.”
My heart sank. I thought of my long debriefing with J.T. and Ms. Bailey. I had given them breakdowns on each hustler’s earnings: how much every one of them made, when and where they worked, what they planned for the future. I didn’t hand over my written data, but I’d done the next-best thing.
“J.T. is all over these niggers,” C-Note said. He looked disgusted and spit on the ground. I could tell he was angry but that he wasn’t comfortable expressing it to me. Until now our relationship had been based on trust. I rarely, if ever, spoke to anyone about what I learned from C-Note.
“He’s taxing every one of them now,” he said. “And he beat the shit out of Parnell and his brother because he thought they were hiding what they were doing. They weren’t, but you can’t convince J.T. of nothing. When he gets his mind to something, that’s it. And then he tells Jo-Jo and his guys that they can’t come around no more because they were hiding things form him. Jo-Jo’s daughter lives up in here. So now he can’t see her.” C-Note kept talking, getting angrier as he listed all the people that J.T. was cracking down on. “There’s no way he could’ve found out if you didn’t say nothing.”
There was an awkward silence. I thought about lying, and I began to drum up an excuse. But something came over me. During the years I’d been in this community, people were always telling me that I was different from all the journalists and other outsiders who came by hunting up stories. They didn’t eat dinner with families or hang around at night to share a beer; they typically asked a lot of questions and then left with their story, never to return. I prided myself on this difference.
But now it was time to accept my fate. “I was sitting in Ms. Bailey’s office,” I told C-Note. “She and J.T. always help me, just like you. And I fucked up. I told them things, and I had no idea that they would use that information. Man, I had no idea that it would even be useful to them.”
“That has to be one of the stupidest things I ever heard you say.” C-Note began putting away his tools.
“Honestly, C-Note, I had no idea when I was talking to them-“
“No!” C-Note’s voice grew sharp. “You knew. Yes you did. But you were too busy thinking about your own self. That’s what happened. You got some shit for your professors, and you were getting high on that. I know you ain’t that naïve, man.”
“I am sorry, C-Note. I don’t know what else to say. I fucked up.”
“Yeah, you fucked up. You need to think about why you’re doing your work. You always tell me you want to help us. Well, we ain’t never asked for your help, and we sure don’t need it now.”
C-Note walked away toward the other men. They stood quietly drinking beer and watching me. I headed toward the building. I wanted to see if Ms. Bailey was in her office.
Then an obvious thought hit me: If J.T. had acted on my information to tax the male street hustlers, Ms. Bailey might have started taxing the women I told her about. Worse yet, she might have had some of them evicted for hiding their income. How could I find out what had happened because of my stupidity? As I stood in the grassy expanse, starting up at the high-rise, I tried to think of someone who might help me. I needed a tenant who was relatively independent of Ms. Bailey, someone who might still trust me enough to talk. I thought of Clarisse.
I hustled over to the liquor store and bought a few bottles of Bonne’s Farm wine. Clarisse wasn’t going to talk for free.
I walked quickly through the building lobby and took the stairs up. I didn’t want to get trapped in the elevator with women who might be angry with me for selling them out to Ms. Bailey. Clarisse opened her door and greeted me with a loud burst of laughter.
“Oohh! Boy, you fucked up this time, you surely did”.
“So it’s all over the building? Everyone knows?”
“Sweetheart, ain’t no secret in this place. What did Clarisse tell you when we first met? Shut the fuck up. Don’t tell them nothing about who you are and what you do. Clarisse should have been there with you. You were spying for Ms. Bailey?”
“Spying! No way. I wasn’t spying, I was just doing my research, asking questions and-”
“Sweetheart, it don’t matter what you call it. Ms. Bailey got pissed off and went running up in people’s houses, claiming they owed her money. I mean, you probably doubled her income, just like that. And you’re really not getting any kickbacks? Just a little something from her?”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “How do they know I was the one who gave Ms. Bailey the information?”
“Because, your fool, she told everyone! Even if she didn’t tell them, she was running around saying, ‘you made twenty-five-dollars last month, “You made fifty dollars last week,’ ‘You made ten dollars this week, and you owe me ten percent plus a penalty for not telling me.’ I mean, the only folks we told all this information to was you!”
“But did she charge you, too?”
“No, No! She don’t charge the hos, remember? J.T. already charges us.”
I sat and listened with my head down as Clarisse listed all the women who’d been confronted by Ms. Bailey. I had a sinking feeling that I’d have a hard time coming back to this building to continue my research. I also had to face the small matter of managing to leave here today still in one piece.
Clarisse sensed my anxiety. As she talked-laughing heartily all the while, at my expense-she started massaging my shoulder. “Don’t worry, little baby! You probably never had an ass whuppin’, have you? Well, sometimes that helps clear the air. Just don’t take the stairs when you leave,’ cause if you get caught there, they may never find your body.”
I must have looked truly frightened, for Clarisse stopped laughing and took a sincere tone.
“Folks forgive around here,” she said gently. “We’re all religious people, sweetheart. We have to put up with a lot of shit from our own families, so nothing you did to us will make things much worse.”
At the moment, sitting with Clarisse, I didn’t think that even the Good Lord himself could, or would, help me. It was embarrassing to think that I had been so wrapped up in my desire to obtain good data that I couldn’t anticipate the consequences of my actions. After several years in the projects, I had become attuned to each and every opportunity to get information from the tenants. This obsession was primarily fueled by a desire to make my dissertation stand out and increase my stature in the eyes of my advisers. After I’d talked with C-Note and Clarisse, it was clear to me that other people were paying a price for my success.
I began to feel deeply ambivalent about my own reasons for being in the projects. Would I really advance society with my research, as Bill Wilson had promised I could do if I worked hard? Could I change our stereotypes of the poor by getting so deep inside the lives of the families? I suddenly felt deluged by these kinds of questions.
Looking back, I was probably being a little melodramatic. I had been so naïve up to this point about how others perceived my presence that any sort of shake-up at all was bound to send me reeling.
I couldn’t think of a way to rectify the situation other than to stop coming to Robert Taylor entirely. But I was close to finishing my fieldwork, and I didn’t want to quit prematurely. In the coming weeks, I spoke to Clarisse and Autry a few times for advice. Both suggested that the tenants I had angered would eventually stop being so angry, but they couldn’t promise much more than that. When I asked Autry whether I’d be able to get back to collecting data, he just shrugged and walked off.
I eventually came back to the building to face the tenants. No one declined to speak with me outright, but I didn’t exactly receive a hero’s welcome either. Everyone knew I had J.T.’s support. So it was unlikely that anyone would confront me in a hostile manner. When I went to visit C-Note in the parking lot, he simply nodded at me and then went about his work, talking with customers and singing along with the radio. It felt like people in the building looked at me strangely when I passed by, but I wondered if I was just being paranoid. Perhaps the best indicator of my change in status was that I wasn’t doing much of anything casual-hearing jokes, sharing a beer, loaning someone a dollar.

OPINION


The Right - Who's Prerogative it is ?
Ravindra Shetty K
The war against corruption waged by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev is known to the whole world. However, some politicians for whom corruption is a way of life have been questioning the rights of the two in waging such a war. Their notion is that “ Anna Hazare is a social worker. His duty is to eradicate the evils in the society. There is the Parliament and the Parliamentarians to raise voice against corruption. It is the elected representatives who are to decide on the black money issue. There is no need for social workers to bother about this. Neither have they the right to do so.”
Similar is the view of such politicians on Baba Ramdev’s agitation. According to their view point “Baba Ramdev is after all a Yoga Guru. He has business empire of Ayurveda. Why is he interested in correcting the bend in the government instead of bending his body and teaching Yoga?. Why has he intervened in politics instead of teaching Yoga,” they question the Baba.
Aren’t the politicians saying the right thing ? If that is the case, myself, a journalist will have no right to protest. Even a daily wager, a factory worker, a farmer or a man pursuing any other profession, be it an autorickshaw or bus driver, a software engineer, a doctor or a lecturer, does not have any right to raise voice against corruption. This is what the revered politicians of this nation are trying to convey. In case we do so, then it is ‘treachery.’
There is every reason for this. Don’t we exercise our franchise in the elections held once in five years , sometimes even untimely elections, thanks to the dirty politics of some dirty politicians. Doesn’t our responsibility end then and there itself? Why should we question the politicians ? Once we have handed over the responsibility of ruling this nation to these politicians, is there any need to question them ?
Recently at Rajghat in Delhi, Anna Hazare has given a clarion call to Indians to be prepared for a second freedom struggle. His words are thought provoking. “ Sevak, Maalik Ban Gaya Hey, Ye Daurbhagya Hey.” (Our servant has turned our boss, it’s our misfortune.”)
Here Anna Hazare has reminded us of a fact which we, the civil society, and the politicians who are under the illusion that they have the right to rule us, have coveniently forgotten. In a democracy, the citizen is the king - all the people residing in this land, right from the labourer to those holding top posts including Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare. Then, what does it mean to say that Baba Ramdev or Anna have no right ?
It is because of such an attitude of the government that a ‘servant’ called Janardhan Dwivedi was cautioned by a ‘king’ called Sunil Kumar by taking his slippers in his hands. The result, the ‘servant’ pushed the ‘king’ and even kicked him. This is nothing but a mockery of democracy.
There is none to bother if people like us protest against any government action on our own or by joining hands with a few others. We may have to taste the lathi and land behind bars if we try to resort to a rail roko or rasta roko. The government has failed in its attempts to suppress the Satyagriha of Anna Hazare. Anna Hazare has himself revealed that a supari was given for Rs 40 lakhs to finish him off in Rajghat, but the person who received the supari on knowing about his target, had returned the supari amount saying he did not intend to earn by eliminating a man like Anna Hazare who had nothing. This is suffice to realize the extent to which our politicians who run the government, can stoop low.
What is the real motive of the Congress government which through its mid-night crackdown on Baba Ramdev’s peaceful Satyagriha venue, has put the British who ruled India for over hundred years, to shame? Even the protest of Baba Ramdev was peaceful as that of Anna Hazare. Political pundits now argue that there was a ploy by the Congress behind its midnight operation after it felt embarrassed by the Satyagriha. The Union Government has been successful in projecting this movement famed as the people’s fight against government’s corruption, as a movement of the BJP and Sangh Parivar against the government. The Congress and its agents have been arguing since long that Baba Ramdev was an RSS agent. The Congress was aware that the BJP would take to the streets against the midnight crackdown. This was what the Congress wanted. The movement was labeled as the ‘communal’ agenda of the BJP. It seems the Congress thought that it has succeeded to some extent in reducing the heat of the movement centered around corruption and black money.
Whatever it is, Baba Ramdev should protest within the legal framework of the Constitution. His statement with regard to forming an own army for self-defence, would be a hasty step. This will disturb peace. Neither there was the need for him to jump down the dais and vanish among the thick crowd to escape from the police. It would also be wrong to expect early results in a fight against corruption and black money. On the one hand there is the government which is shielding corruption and corrupt people and on the other there is the question of ethics of those who are in the opposition and are fighting against the government. There needs to be tremendous patience in the fight against corruption. It is impossible to bring about a political change through a sudden uprising in a nation that spread the message of peace to the world. Probably, corruption can be eradicated, if there is a people’s movement against the evil motive of the politicians and if there is scope for the public to choose their representatives.
But corruption is an evil that is deep-rooted in the human society. We cannot forget that it makes its presence felt in different forms and shape on various occasions.

FEATURE

Why Mumbai cannot be Shanghai
It is aptly said that “Stretch your legs according to the length of blanket” and “Cut your coat according to your cloth”. May it be home or vehicle or other possessions, proper and decent maintenance is as important as possessing them. For some people, pets are considered to be their proud possessions. Unless these possessions are decently maintained, they become public nuisance.
Pollutions Galore: Mumbai is a city, drowned under load of dust pollution, air pollution, noise pollution or any damn pollution you name. Several open drains, human defecations in the open and poorly maintained public urinals and toilets are common sights in many areas in this Financial Capital of India. Common areas in the compound of a building are grabbed by the commercial interests. Footpaths are encroached by hawkers forcing the pedestrians to use roads. Bans on spitting and littering in public places, declaration of non-hawking zones, silence zones and other prohibitive measures are nothing but mockery of law enforcing authorities.
To overcome various pollutions, people who could afford have adopted themselves to bottled water, air-conditioned vehicle / office, use facemask and even earplugs. But the common man is left with no alternative but to get himself immunized to the ever-growing pollutions, thanks to the insensitive law enforcing authorities and the irresponsible citizens who lack civic sense. If the government and the civic body are failing in their duties to make Mumbai a clean city, we Mumbaikars are also equally responsible in adding more and more garbage.
Polluter Pays & Pet Love: For some, Pets are their companions. For some, it is their life. For some, it is fashion. And for some, it is status. Whatever it may be, nothing comes free. One has to pay the price according to his standard. Nobody can make merry at the expense or cost of others’ comfort. Otherwise, the pets, especially the dogs will become owner’s pride but neighbor’s nightmare. Some owners of dogs spend thousands of rupees to take good care of their dogs at home. But they are totally insensitive to their surroundings and care a damn to the civic sense. The dogs are well fed at home. Looked after very well like the owner’s own child with all the comforts viz. warm clothes in winter and air-conditioned atmosphere in the summer. But in the morning, the dogs are promptly taken down on the society compound or road or morning walk strips and are brazenly allowed to pee (urinate) on anything and everything that comes on their way as also to ease itself of droppings on the open public space, totally unmindful of civic cleanliness. Yes, the dogs do need space to walk to keep them fit. But then, Who will Scoop the Poop? Certainly the pet owner.
Civic and Moral Policing: The lack of civic facilities such as public urinals and latrines with inadequate water supply has made public defecation a common scene in some areas. This is the irony that we are still hoping against hopes to see Mumbai as Shanghai. In West Kissing in Public is not an offence but Pissing in Public is serious offence whereas in India, it is other way round. Kissing in Public is serious offence but Pissing in Public is not. This is Yeh Mera India.

Islamic Banking:
An anathema to our civil society

The debate on the practical application of Islamic teachings in a modern world is a vexed one for Muslims. Islamic banking or Islamic finance is central to the enterprise of those who wish to rule the world in the name of Islam. They desire to consolidate the Muslim World around the issue of Muslim bashing. The debate on Islamic Banking is thus one which brings the tension between Islamists and others nakedly to the fore. In this tension, the everyday humiliations that ordinary Muslims face in the modern world help Islamists consolidate their arguments and forces.
This essay deals with the issue of Islamic banking with special reference to the Indian banking system and contemporary social realities. I have used the secular spirit and goals of the Constitution of India as reference points for the discussion. The secular state has always been anathema to religious forces, particularly Islamic ones – that is, those in politics in the name of Islam. Islamic political parties, for decades, have stridently opposed the word “secular”, interpreting it as atheism. This raucous hatred of the word and its proponents was, however, toned down as a strategy in the 1980s when Hindutva forces gained decisive strength and these Islamic forces needed the support of secular voices. The extent to which this marriage of convenience between Islamist and secular forces, particularly the left parties of late, have damaged the cause and fibre of secularism and formation of civil society is a different debate altogether. By forging an alliance with Islamic forces, the secular enterprise has been unable to widen its appeal.
To return to the central theme, levying interest is prohibited by the Qur’an. However, it must be stressed that this applies to the practice of usury and not bank interest, as modern banking did not exist when Islam came into being. The rapacity of usurers and moneylenders in their dealings with borrowers has been recorded throughout history and in all cultures of the world – this was one of the reasons behind the anti-Semitism that was until recently prevalent in the west. Hence the Qur’an’s abhorrence of usury and of any business dealing solely in money.

Idle Dream
In the modern economy, however, financiers and the circulation of money play a very important role. If any Muslim government were to successfully introduce an interest-free economy today, it would certainly lead to a new economic order. As of now, this is an idyllic dream. However, given the Islamist propaganda against modern banking, a majority of Muslims who want to avail themselves of modern banking facilities but do not want to appear to be doing so, deposit their savings in a bank but do not accept interest in the belief that by so doing they are conforming to the dictates of Islam. With changes in Muslim politics, the idea of promoting Islamic banking as a parallel to so-called non-Islamic banking has emerged in recent years and further complicated the issue in the Indian economic system, which is in any case full of contradictions.
Broadly speaking, in the modern Indian banking system, banks are financial institutions that charge and pay interest for business dealings. Besides, modern Indian banking is not just about interest; it is a tool for organising life in many ways and there is no escape from it. In the common civic space, all citizens, including Muslims, are directly or indirectly involved in modern banking.
Interestingly, in Saudi Arabia, banks, as a part of the international economic system, charge and pay interest. Saudi banks, however employ semantics and use the terms “profit sharing” and “loss sharing” instead of “interest”. Since banks in Saudi Arabia, an oil-rich economy, do not usually suffer losses, the depositors share the profits as matter of course, and this is not considered riba (usury). A few years ago, Islamists in Pakistan demanded an end to the interest-paying system of banks. They got the federal Sharia court to pronounce a judgment in their favour but the government did not pass it in the legislature. Later, the judgment was set aside by an appellate bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the matter is still sub judice.

Profit from Backwardness
In Muslim India, conventional and reformist approaches to Islam exist side by side. The reformist approach is, of course, based on the compulsions of modern life. According to Maulana Shibli Nomani, Allama Iqbal and some other eminent Muslim thinkers of the 20th century, bank interest is a profit on investment or a charge on capital when it is not exploitative, it is not riba. But classical Qur’anic commentaries support the conventional approach and their interpretations by those who are opposed to modern banking use the word riba as synonymous with interest. While in the oil-rich economy of Saudi Arabia and even in the ultimate analysis, in Pakistan, a practical approach to the issue of bank interest is the majoritarian one, in India, probably because Muslims are educationally backward, it has become a much-debated and polemical one.
Thus unscrupulous Muslim shylocks, supported by the Mulsim clergy, operate in the country, hoodwinking Muslims in the name of Islamic or non-interest banking. They are supported by those whose only agenda is to oppose everything non-Islamic, even if by doing so they prop up archaic ideas that have no place in the modern world and are contrary to the interests of Muslims. The modus operandi of these Islamic banking organisations is very simple and one can find them in almost every locality where a substantive Muslim population exists. They open accounts in nationalised banks and make huge deposits in them of money collected from poor Muslims in their so-called Islamic banks. They use their knowledge and skills of the banking system vary shrewdly to profit from the interest earned on deposits of the collected money-depositing 80% of it in different fixed deposits, leaving hardly 20% in circulation.
The common investor, who has entrusted his principal amount to the Muslim usurer, gets back his or her original amount when needed, little knowing that the interest from the money has been used for the moneylender’s other businesses. If these poor Muslims need loans, the Islamic bank gives it to them, with their gold ornaments or land held as security or collateral, and charge interest, calling it “service tax”. Thus this system not only makes money for its unscrupulous operators in the name of Islamic banking, but also prevents the Muslim community from becoming a part of the modern economy and availing itself of the benefits of uniform economic programmes. Many Muslims do not take bank loans, believing that giving or taking interest is un-Islamic. So their business do not flourish and they do not progress while others benefit from their money.

Scamming the Poor
Sometimes it gets murkier. Around 15 years ago, a Muslim, who happened to be a lecturer at Jamia Millia Islamia, a central university in New Delhi, began a big scam, calling it a model for Islamic banking. Al Falah, as it was known, had the backing of prominent Muslims (political and religious) and offered returns three to four times higher than other investments. It proclaimed that investors would be partners in the venture, thus avoiding using the word “interest” for whatever they earned on their principal investment. Millions of Muslims deposited money without realising that in a partnership venture they were also liable for loss if the bank did not intelligently invest their money.
Although the venture declared that the depositors were partners in the venture, their opinion was not sought when their money was invested in the share market, a high-risk venture. Being shrewd, the owner of Al-Falah also invested some part of the money in an engineering college and certain other projects run by separate charitable organisations. In two to three years, the scheme collapsed. The mullahs and politicians got their money back, but the common Muslim depositors were left without redress. The “cheat” went to jail and came out after some time on bail. Lengthy legal proceedings are now on and are likely to carry on for the next 50 years or more, given the way the Indian judicial system operates and that money had been collected from all over the country.
The engineering college established with the ill-gotten money gives Al-Falah’s founder returns because it is run under the aegis of a so-called charitable trust set up by exploiting legal loopholes that exist in this country. Not only that, he has opened a college and is planning to apply for it to become a deemed university with minority status. The campus is spread over 56 acres in the national capital region and is worth thousands of crores of rupees. If the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) do not take stern action against this kind of banking, which exists in almost every locality where a considerable Muslim population resides, the shylocks in the community will not allow Muslims to even join the debate on the issue of modern banking, far less avail themselves of its benefits and join the mainstream economy. And the Al-Falah kind of scam will happen again.
A main focus of the tussle between the Muslim world and others are the financial avenues available to the former, particularly oil-rich countries. The debate in India is as vigorous as in any other Muslim country. For recent trends one need only look at reports and other discussions in Muslim newspapers the world over, India being no exception. Arab Times, a leading daily in Saudi Arabia, devoted a page on 27 April 2011 to news related to Islamic finance, with a lead story titled “UK Promotes City as Centre for Global Islamic Finance” by Mushtak Parker. Terry Lacey’s report on the Fifth World Islamic Economic Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia, titled “Islamic Finance in a Changing World”, which was published in the Milli Gazette, New Delhi (16-31 March 2009: 16), was an example of the debate on the subject in an Indian Muslim newspaper. For the campaign against mainstream banking among the masses, a good amount of material is distributed. The propagators turn a blind eye to the so-called Islamic banking prevailing in almost every locality with a substantive Muslim population simply because these banks help Islamists consolidate their constituencies by polarising them in the name of Islamic banking.
Finance institutions in India are commonly categorised as banks and non-banking financial institutions. The definition of banking, according to the Banking Regulation Act of 1949, is “accepting, for the purpose of landing or investment, of deposits of money from the public, repayable on demand or otherwise, and withdrawable by cheque, draft, order or otherwise”. Banks in India are governed by the Banking Regulation Act 1949, the Reserve Bank of India Act 1934, the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881 and the Cooperative Societies Act 1961. The existence of so-called Islamic Banks is not covered under these Acts.
In 2005, the government of India asked the RBI to examine Islamic banking instruments and the RBI constituted a working group in June that year that comprised five members representing the Department of Banking Operations and Development, Foreign Exchange Department, State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and Oman international Bank. This was an informal group and no formal terms of reference were drawn up. In its five meetings, the group concluded that in the current statutory and regulatory framework, it would not be feasible for banks in India to undertake Islamic banking though it made no specific recommendation warranting any action by the RBI. A copy of the report was forwarded to the ministry of finance in July 2007 and no action has been taken so far to the best of public knowledge.

Beyond Fukushima & Jaitapur is the Catastrophe Awaiting Planet Earth
Prof. Bengre Narayana Karkera
Certain death of the planet earth is waiting beyond the nuclear tragedy at Fukushima in Japan and the public opposition at the proposed Jaitapur nuclear facility in Maharashtra, India. The planet earth is the only known ‘Living-Planet’, existing for the last 4.5 billion years in the 100 billion year old universe. This lonely ‘Living-Planet’ is the home of 5,000 year recent human civilization; which is just 0.1 second in 24 hour cosmic clock, representing 4.5 billion years of earth’s existence. In this extremely small fraction of cosmic time frame, we humans have punctured its extremely thin protective atmospheric cover resulting in its drift towards certain death by becoming a lifeless red-planet. We humans have ill-managed the exponentially growing power needs of modernizing civilization by spewing trillions of tones of ozone depletion gases to upper atmosphere.
Catastrophe:
* Curdling of the milk cannot be interrupted, once the curdling is initiated.
* Destruction by a mountain boulder rolling down a hill, cannot be interrupted, once initiated.
* Wiping out of a village en-route an avalanche cannot be avoided, once initiated.
* Similarly, wiping-out of the protective ozone layer cannot be interrupted, once it is initiated. A punctured hole is seen in the year 2005 satellite image of Antarctic. Hole allows the cosmic ray to burn all the planet life forms. We have to keep our fingers crossed and hope to reverse this puncturing before it initiates the wiping-out of the protective ozone layer.
Sizeable chunk of the civilization is in India, emitting 638,000,000 tonnes of CO2 yearly with NTPC in Centre for Global Development’s (CGD’s) “red alert” category for spewing out the deadly gases. We have a huge projected power demand of 1,200 GWe till the year 2050. Civilization should not be power-starved; but should be prevented from annihilation by reversing the impending catastrophe. Renewable energy cannot meet this need. A 1 GWe coal-burning power plant could release as much as 5.2 tons/year of uranium (containing 34 kg of uranium-235) and 12.8 tons/year of thorium in addition to 530 pounds of mercury. Being ‘intelligent’ humans, we Indians have learnt from our past mistakes and are leading the march-forward to reverse this catastrophic drift towards certain death by opting for economical green-nuclear-power. To meet the above power need, we have opted for 650 GWe green-nuclear-power till 2050. At present, India is operating & building 12.28 GWe nuclear power reactors in 7 nuclear power stations. The proposed eighth nuclear facility at Jaitapur is being opposed in the light of the nuclear tragedy at Fukushima in Japan.
We have addressed simultaneously the issues of survival of very life on the planet earth and concerns of common man as: [1] The consequences of thermal power generation; [2] The drawbacks of renewable energy sources and resulting option for nuclear energy; [3] How we could in parallel, reduce thermal power generation & increase nuclear power generation; [4] To clear the public’s worst nightmares on nuclear energy, Nuclear waste and radiation-exposure minimization.
We have defined the source of ultimate clean energy as nuclear to arrest the catastrophic drift. Further, we should reverse the catastrophic drift by steadily phasing out coal & gas based thermal power stations by upgrading them as green-nuclear-power stations. Engineers are the destroyers of planet earth through coal & gas based power generation. Also, they will be the saviors of planet earth by arresting and reversing the above catastrophic drift through nuclear power generation. We Indians should recommend the following 4 actions to prevent this global catastrophe: (i) We should changeover to nuclear power in totality through the next 3 steps; (ii) We should slow down thermal power plants’ proliferation by heavy carbon-credit taxation; (iii) As the next step, we should stop thermal power plants’, proliferation by heavy carbon-credit penalty and political isolation; (iv) Eventually we should modify & upgrade the existing thermal power stations for nuclear power generation.
The most debated safety issues raised by environmental groups and answered well by BARC are:
a. Radiation effects on people due to reactor accidents caused by unintentional or intentional (terrorist inflicted) malfunctions
b. Intentional diversions and modifications of nuclear fuel to make nuclear weapons
c. The disposal of radioactive waste can be carried out safely
d. All nuclear sectors in India are permitted under the strict regulation of AERB
e. Spent-fuel transported in a collision roof casket
f. The heavy steel caskets are designed to tolerate external bomb blasts. It would take a casket piercing missile with high explosives to vaporize a fuel element into radio-active aerosols
g. Overall probability of a harmful radiation exposure due to the movement of radioactive materials is less than 10-9 per transport
h. Overall risk that a person may get cancer from drinking contaminated water near a nuclear storage site is on the order of 10-7 in 100 years or 10-9 per year
i. This compares with a chance of 10-4 per day for an automobilist to have a collision and a probability of 10-7 per flight to be in a plane-crash for air travelers
j. The only public deaths due to a nuclear power plant accident occurred in1986 at Chernobyl in the Ukraine and now at Fukushima.
k. After 107 MWe-years of worldwide nuclear power that was generated over the past thirty years, the observed risk of causing a human fatality in the public due to a reactor meltdown is 5 × 10-6 per MWe per year
l. For a typical 1000 MW reactor the worldwide risk of causing a human death would then be 5 × 10-3 fatalities per year (one death in 200 years)
m. The worldwide risk for underground mining is more than one fatality per year per mine
n. After the Chernobyl accident, many new sophisticated accident prevention techniques and public safety measures were introduced at all nuclear power plants in the world. Now, the Fukushima-disaster related design issues are being studied. At Fukushima, the nuclear fatality is less than 1 % of the net fatality.
o. For a modern water-moderated 1000 MW(e) power reactor with a properly designed containment vessel (absent at Chernobyl), the probability of public exposure to particulate fall-out radiation after a reactor core meltdown or destruction (by earthquakes, plane crash strike, or a suicide terrorist), is estimated to be less than 10-6 per year
p. The probability for a terrorist group to make a nuclear weapon is extremely remote unless they are aided by a sovereign nation
q. The theft of a completely functional nuclear weapon from a heavily guarded military facility is also very unlikely
r. Only an independent country could design, build, and test a nuclear weapon at great expense (over $ 1 billion) if its government wants to do so
s. Avoidance of building future nuclear power plants will not prevent any determined nation from developing nuclear weapons
t. Weapons proliferation is a separate issue
u. It would be as senseless to halt nuclear power plant development as it is to stop making jet aircraft or bulldozers or kitchen knife because the latter could be converted into military fighter planes and tanks, or because their materials of construction can be diverted to making bombs, or can be used for stabbing someone to death.
v. Comparing safety in mining of coal versus uranium shows that many more accidents with loss of life occur in coal mines
w. Daily railroad transportation of kilotons of coal is more accident-prone than monthly uranium transports of kilograms of uranium yellow-cake with a few trucks
x. Radioactive waste cannot explode and is absolutely non-fissionable
y. Annual Individual Radiation Exposure, as percentage of total :
i. From Nature : Radom Radiation: - 48.4 %
ii. From Nature : Earth Crest : - 17.1 %
iii. From Nature : Cosmic Radiation : -- 14.5 %
iv. From Nature : Internal from own body : - 8.6 %
v. Human Made : Medical : - - 11.2 %
vi. Others, including Nuclear : - 0.2 %
z. Radiation - a fact of life :
i. Chest X-Ray (one film) : - - 20 to 25 mR
ii. Dental X-Ray (whole mouth) - 200 mR
iii. Breast Mammography (one film) - 1,500 mR
iv. Heart Catheterization before bypass surgery : 45,000mR, which is the 9 year allowance for a radiation worker

Author is a Ex. Head MDPDS, BARC & IAEA Fellow, currently attached to NITK, Surathkal as Adjunct Faculty, can be contacted on email: karkerabn@gmail.com


Born again medicine
Prof. B. M. Hegde,
hegdebm@gmail.com

When a patient comes to consult a doctor s/he has two important questions in mind. What is the problem? And when will s/he be fit again? Modern medicine, sold to the gullible public as very scientific and evidence based has major problems in answering both those basic questions honestly! Science of modern medicine is faulty in that it uses the age old linear mathematical base in a dynamic fully non-linear system but survives by using the most imprecise statistical prop to stand up. Evidence base of modern medicine, where all interventions have to go through the “rigors” of the randomized controlled studies before being let loose on the public, is so porous that most of what doctors do today is based on a foundation of wet sand. Almost all randomized controlled studies (RCTs), which have spent millions of tax payers’ dollars in many advanced countries, have been shown to be fatally flawed in their very structure.
Answering the two vital questions in the patient’s mind, therefore, depends on the doctors’ confidence in his clinical judgment and past experience just as the astrologer predicts the future of his client. Both doctors and astrologers have been predicting the unpredictable future of man! Hard sciences like physics, biology and chemistry do not score over medical science either in this field although physics, after the advent of quantum mechanics, has made a quantum leap in its understanding of the world. Physics now accepts consciousness as a scientific reality while medicine still lives in its hoary past glory of reductionism. In fact, medicine that deals with human beings should have taken consciousness into its fold much before physics did as the latter only deals with inanimate matter. That was not to be as a huge money spinner industry had developed around this statistical science of medicine for interventional quick-fixes both in pills and surgical operations. Now for medical science to take another route of correct science of non-linearity and chaos will be very difficult.
“That may be fine when we’re talking widgets, but when it means more heart surgeries, less time with patients, more collusion with drug companies, and higher prices for less care—well, even Adam Smith would feel a little ill. But believe me, he’d think twice before summoning the ambulance,” writes Maggie Mahar in her excellent book Money Driven Medicine. Medicalisation of life means that more and more of our day today problems in life are added to the list of medical problems needing intervention. There would be no one who could call himself healthy and well after the routine screening of the apparently healthy. Screening is being sold as the panacea for all human ills. The fact, however, is that no illness could benefit from our detecting it in the pre-symptomatic stage to intervene before symptoms develop. Change it must for the good of mankind.
For the sake of this discussion let me label the future new medical science as born again medicine. Every disease gets born in the mind (consciousness) of the individual to grow in the body aided and assisted by the environment in which one lives but is influenced by the genetic constitution. We need a new holistic approach to health and ill health. Health is not then just the absence of physical disease. None of the negative definitions of health take into consideration this new science of holism except the one that we could propose as that state of being where the individual has the enthusiasm to “work and love”. The word love here does not connote lust but the capacity to love humanity at large which is the basic need of this world. Hating others is a kind of disease, in fact.
What would be the science of the born again medicine, other wise called meta-medicine, as it follows after the modern medical science of reductionism? The new science will take into account the total organism in its surrounding into consideration before intervening. David Eddy has come up with an elegant computer model of this new mathematical model of human physiology of holism in his soft ware www.archimedesmodel.com which incorporates more than ten thousand differential equations, the hall mark of non-linear mathematics. In the ancient science of Ayurveda human beings were classified into separate genetico-constitutional groups with major three groups-vaata, pitta ands kapha- and many sub-groups. Patwardhan and his colleagues have come up with studies in these groups to show that they belong to distinct genetic groups using HLA markers. Combined together this would be the ideal set up to study human beings for health and ill health.
When it comes to interventions, except in cases of emergency care for all medical and surgical emergencies and corrections of congenital defects which need modern medical quick-fixes for sure, for the rest, which forms about 90% of the sick population on a given day, one could use the best practices in many other complementary systems in existence for “times out of mind” in this world. The fact that mankind did not become extinct for thousands of years existence without the help of the faulty modern medical science that came into being in the past half a century should make us sit up and take note of the wheat leaving the chaff behind in all those systems of yore in existence for managing the non-emergency situations and chronic degenerative and malignant diseases. The complementary systems need to be rigorously scientifically authenticated before being amalgamated in the born again medical system. The latter effort is going in some centres and a glimpse of that is given hereunder. Prof. Rustum Roy, a great scientist of repute at the Penn State University, has been working in this area for the past several decades and has achieved commendable success in making the world take note through his organisation, the friends of health.
We have been working in this area of authenticating the effect of breathing techniques in the great science of yoga for nearly three decades now. The use of breathing rhythms was known to Indian saints of yore who used Yogic breathing, praanaayaama, for keeping themselves healthy and fit. They even used it to get energy! Our group has been working at it to see if those methods had any scientific basis. In a sophisticated computerized model to test the Heart Rate Variability with praanaayaama, we have come up with exciting data. In addition, we have also used this to manage patients with coronary artery disease as an adjunct to conventional treatment with very good results.
We are now working on a new theory-sono-luminescence-a scientific method to create energy by coalescing and bursting bubbles in liquids to release energy. Using yogic breathing, added to chanting of a mantra, OM, we are trying to see if human vocal cords could convert sound of the mantra into ultra sound to energize the bubbles in the alveoli, (where bubbles remain for a long time without bursting, thanks to a special chemical, surfactant, that gets secreted in the alveolar walls from the 7th month of gestation in the baby), to release energy and convert ADP to ATP. It is premature to discuss the results but the prospects look good. This may also explain how ancient Indian rishis (re-see in contrast to re-search) used to meditate for months together without food.
Many of the methods of managing the sick used in various systems like Siddha, Unani, Arabic and Tibetan medicines, herbal medicines used by aboriginal races, acupuncture, Chinese medicines, chi-gong, praanic healing, energy medicine, nano-particles used in the ancient ayurvedic bhasmas, or in the most recent nano-solutions of silver etc, as also the most potent immune boosters used in the ancient systems need to be urgently authenticated. All these need money and the usual funding agencies are allergic to fund these activities. When the drug industry wakes up to realize the potentials of these complementary systems money will start pouring into this areas as well. As of now, even without proper scientific authentication, the budget of complementary medicines runs into billions of dollars and a few companies have tasted got involved with this area. To keep the science of holism unadulterated by business interests’, money with strings attached should not be accepted for future research. Pharma companies are the most powerful people to fund this area but then the integrity of the researchers must be strictly monitored lest the new system also falls into the same trap of modern medical research.
In conclusion, in all our studies in modern medical sciences today “passion makes some of the best observations but, draws, many times, most wretched conclusions” as noted by John von Neumann years ago. Our research has made some wonderful observations but we have drawn wrong conclusions from those studies. Let us change the science of medicine from the reductionist science of linearity that we discussed above to that of the future science of chaos and holism as was elegantly shown by Professor David Eddy, a former professor of cardiovascular surgery at Stanford converted to a mathematician, to get at the right holistic science for medicine in his ground breaking research work. While patients could survive without doctors, doctors will not be able to survive without patients. Let us change before all patients leave us and go elsewhere for help. Long live medicine for the good of humankind.

(Author is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University)

YEH MERA INDIA

Couple saves student from ending life
Nagpur: A middle-aged Khare couple, who usually earn a few bucks by fishing out bodies of suicide victims from Gandhisagar lake prevented a standard XII student who was poised to jump into Gandhisagar lake soon after the HSC results.
The rescued commerce student, Rupa (name changed) claimed that she had failed in two subjects and hence wanted to end her life. Police said that Rupa saw the result at 1 pm but did not inform her parents about it, and instead went directly to Gandhisagar lake. Surprisingly, even though the date of the HSC results had been declared advance, Ganeshpeth police had failed to put in place extra bandobast at the lake to prevent suicides. Luckily, Jagdish Khare, who is in his forties, was keeping a watch around the lake like he does everyday. According to police at around 2pm, an alert Khare spotted the girl sitting on the parapet of the lake crying incessantly. She was staring at the water and had removed her sandles, said Khare. “Sensing something wrong, I immediately informed Ganeshpeth police. Till the cops reached the spot, I kept her involved in talks,” said Khare. He said that Rupa seemed to be college-going student and was holding a paper with her. “I thought it was the mark sheet and hence guessed that she was going to attempt suicide,” he said.

She overcame handicap to emerge winner
Thane: Despite losing 90 percent vision to a congenital disorder, 17-year-old Mitali Bhaskar Khose from Mulund managed to score 80.33 percent marks in the HSC exam.
Khose’s success hasn’t come easily as this student of Mulund College of Commerce could only read things positioned at up to distance of one ft and that too with only one eye. But, the incessant support from her family and friends, who besides helping her with notes also provided her the much-required encouragement, made it smooth sailing. She is the true champion, said her teachers who are praising her achievements.

'You are Jairam Ramesh, not funny Shankar Aiyer'
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh continues to get brickbats for chiding IITs and IIMs not doing any world class research. The latest fire comes from retired Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS M N Buch, who is now Chairman of the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management (IIITM), Gwalior.
In a 4-page letter he shot out to Jairam, with a copy to the Prime Minister, Buch says IIT Bombay alumnus Ramesh-like many other students-did not go on to pursue research, which is the “real problem.”
He showed a mirror to Ramesh to see that he is himself guilty of what he is accusing others. “You did not continue in IIT Bombay, but preferred to float into politics,” he remarked.
Buch, whose entire family including his wife decorated the IAS cadre, given an advice to Jairam Ramesh not to shoot from the hip and be delightfully indiscreet. “Please remember that you are Jairam Ramesh not funny Shankar Aiyar!!”
The former IAS officer’s sage advice to Jairam in the letter to stop getting onto unintended controversies is: “You look at the time and place of expressing your opinion, then count till 10 and repeat the process before articulating your thoughts. You are one of our few thinking ministers. Why throw it all away by speaking out of turn?” Buch was reported to have stated.

MEA pulled up & fined for callous attitude
New Delhi : The Ministry of External Affairs has been asked by the Delhi High Court to pay Rs 50,000 fine to a Punjab based man who, despite having valid Spanish visa, was not only deported back from Brussels but also prosecuted here on charges of faking travel documents.
“The conduct of respondents (MEA, Foreigner Regional Registration Offices and Regional Passport Officer) in the present case display utter callousness in dealing with the life and liberty of the citizen. The petitioner (Balwinder Singh) had valid travel papers and work permit for employment in Spain,” Justice S Muralidhar said.
Singh, a resident of Jalandhar who was having a valid passport and a working Spanish visa, was not allowed to board a connecting flight for Spain at Brussels in Belgium on February 21 last year during his return journey from Delhi, reports PTI.
He had taken up employment at a firm in Spain during 2007 and had come to India on a short vacation.
The officials at Brussels detained and later deported him saying that he was an “imposter” as he held a “fraudulent” visa and other documents.
Singh’s woes did not end as the officials of FRRO did not bother to verify his documents either with Spanish embassy or with Regional Passport office here and instead prosecuted him, the plea filed by advocate Ajay Kumar Pipaniya said.
“On account of utter negligence and callousness on the part of MEA and others, Singh had to needlessly undergo trauma of a false criminal case against him for over one year and suffer the deprivation of his passport and travel related documents.