Saturday, August 13, 2011

MONTH THAT WAS

Friends
Come August, every year, this nation of 1200 million, are looking forward for the 15th of the Month. Especially this year, 2011, this 15th falls on a Monday and surely there will be many planning a long week end. From 12th evening to the 15th evening, its 3 full days of weekend for those working for ESSO group of companies and organisation. For those, who are little confused about this ESSO, besides being an American Oil Company, it is also an acronym for Every Saturday Sunday Off. Thus, there will be thousands of families planning or have already planned to travel out of their routine place of residence. These families would be depriving their school going children to participate in the Independence Day Celebration in their respective schools, since this was the day 64 years ago, our colonial masters, the British, left the Indian shores for good, leaving us to fend for ourselves.
Of course for those who witnessed the historic moment of our tricolour going up on the ramparts of Red Fort it could have been a joy unbound and surely some would have wept. Every Independent Day celebration bring back the memories of the struggle that our elders and forefathers have undergone to achieve this ‘Freedom at Midnight’. Those 347 million Indians who had the singular joy of being free form the colonial yoke of hundreds of years, which began rather innocuously in 1600, in the form of East India Company in the then Calcutta, a trading out-post of England, how are they looking back over the shoulder, the labyrinth that their Mother India has travelled? We need to take stock of the ups and downs that our country has experienced in its experiment of redistributing exercise of our 12 five yearly developmental plans. However, in the meanwhile, we at Issues & Concerns have the honour of wishing all Indians SWATANTR DIWAS KI SHUBH KAAMNAAYE and great year ahead.
There is this English quotation which says “If you are not part of the solution, then you are the problem”. We at I & C have this funny feeling that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is losing grip on himself. Or else how would he ever make this statement to those small select group of five editors, which exposed his ignorance of past precedents and even court rulings! Dr Singh had reportedly stated “It had never been in the past that the CAG has held a press conference or decided to comment on the policy issue. It should limit its role as defined in the constitution”. Reacting to this a journalist wrote from New Delhi “In questioning the propriety and legality of the Comptroller and Auditor General holding a news conference on its 2G scam report, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ignored not only past precedents but also a court ruling upholding the CAG’s right to do so". Journalist was quoting the 2005 Madras High Court ruling where it upheld the right of CAG to brief the media, on the contents of the report submitted to the legislature. This misplaced rebuke of CAG by Dr Singh has unwittingly exposed the unwillingness of the government to seriously tackle the issue of corruption within the corridors of power in New Delhi. It is another matter that he was not ready to take responsibility for all the wrong doing by his ministers, by saying that the decisions that the government took were taken under uncertain conditions and media is only helping to create an atmosphere of cynicism by accusation of corruption which will be counter productive for investment climate. It was a lack luster performance from the Prime Minister that did not win him any new friends nor it influenced anybody.
The judgement on the Neeraj Grower murder case has left many gasping. Stabbed to death and then body chopped to pieces and then disposed off. But court decided it is not murder, only a culpable homicide not amounting to murder. So one gets 10 years imprisonment and the other 3 years for destroying evidence. Chopping the dead body after killing is not murder of most heinous kind! A news paper simply stated “A butcher is not a murderer’. Amanath Grower, the father of Neeraj has reportedly stated “I have lost faith in judiciary. It is very disappointing decision.” You call killing was in a fit of rage, but what about going to the mall to buy a chopper and hack the body into pieces in cold blood! Some thing is seriously wrong. Here the victim, a man, comes to the flat of one of the accused, a lady, and then another man comes into the flat. Both the lady and the new man finish the first man. They plan to dispose the body by cutting it into pieces. The court decides that the lady has only destroyed the evidence, despite the fact that she was an active participant in both killing and disposing the body. Naturally, the other accused, the man, who got 10 years imprisonment is upset and is baying for the blood of his girl friend who got away and is free bird now. The moral of the story is, don’t become partner in any wrong doing, the other person will invariably put you in trouble to save his or her skin. It should surprise nobody that Emile Jerome, the partner of Maria Susairaj in killing Neeraj Grower, shall one day comeback to his former girl friend to settle the issue once and for all. All in all it was a complete miscarriage of justice for the present.
Issue involving Kim Davy, a Danish national, who had escaped from India and presently in Copenhagen is another poor reflection of the way our law enforcing authorities and intelligence agencies are functioning.
It was in Dec. 1995, that Purulia Arms Drop case came to light, when an aircraft without clearance from the Indian authorities entered the Indian airspace and dropped arms consisting of AK 47 rifles, anti tank grenades, rocket launchers and huge quantity of ammunition, some 2500 rounds. And escaped to re-enter again after several days, only to be mistakenly landed in Mumbai’s Sahara International Airport, due to some mistaken order of the Air Traffic Controller. All crews were arrested but Kim Davy managed to give a slip and escaped to Nepal and remained fugitive from the Indian laws, just like Ottavio Quattrochi hoodwinked successive Indian government ‘efforts’, after escaping from the country.
While those arrested were released prior to 2004 due to political intervention of Russia and UK. Kim Davy, assumed to be the king pin, was followed up to get the extradition order from the Danish government. Despite order to expedite, due to court intervention, extradition of Kim Davy was stopped by the Danish High Court, on grounds of poor human rights records and poor condition of Indian jails. In the meanwhile, Kim Davy has accused the Indian intelligence agencies of being fully in the know of the arms drop, ostensibly meant to create law and order problem in West Bengal, a communist ruled state, by the government of PV Narasimha Rao in New Delhi, a charge CBI has denied. Until the last word is said on the matter, it is mysteriously murky.
The high profile sexual assault case involving former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss Kahn is increasingly becoming clear that, it may be closed after all. In the backdrop of the extremely quick action of ejecting Kahn, by the New York police from the Paris bound aircraft, this likely closure of the case is becoming very embarrassing for the police there. The police is really feeling the wretchedness at the ‘pulling a fast one’ by the Guinean house-keeper of the hotel, which led to the quick fix arrest of powerful IMF Chief, who is probably the President of France in waiting. It could turn out to be an extremely avoidable gaffe for the New York police. He is freed from detention and his bail and bond of US $ 6 million are being returned. Reportedly charges against Kahn is being dropped and eventual dismissal 'a certainty'.
Due to several contradictory statements of the house-keeper, the prosecution is coming to terms with the possibility of the defence argument that it was not an assault but a consensual act. “Don’t worry this guy has lot of money. I know what I am doing” was the disclosed phone conversation this Guinean had with a friend in her Fulani dialect, which clearly disclosed her intent of making money out of the rich man by falsely implicating Kahn, who is contesting the forthcoming presidential election in France. The question was, did somebody pull a fast one on Dominique Strauss Kahn to stop him in the track to seek the Elysee Palace!
Ram Gopal Verma is a Hindi film maker. Media informs that he is after publicity, therefore walks into controversy with full knowledge. There is the case involving T.V. executive Neeraj Grover and his killers Emile Jeraome and Maria Susairaj. He wants to make a film on the love-triangle rather than the miscarriage of justice informs print media, and wants to cast this Maria. Among the whole lot of people who got angry with the sensation monger were Shyam Benegal and rightly, even Grover’s parents. Benegal is on record having stated “I don’t like that because I think that the whole thing is terrible. That if anybody can stoop so low simply because you want to cash in on it because of the sensation value of it”. What can we call this, the irresponsible insensitive chicanery!
The undergarment of the Congress is clearly, showing, when it comes to including PM under Lokpal ambit. Their double speak was recently exposed by Prakash Karat of CPI (M) who reminded Pranab Mukherjee, one of the interlocutor from the government side in the Lokpal Bill Panel. In 2001, when NDA was in power, a parliamentary panel headed by Pranab Mukherjee had recommended the bringing of Prime Minister under Lokpal purview. Like most political parties, even Congress too suffers from selective amnesia of convenient politics. Here it is pertinent note that more than 96% Mumbaikars have voted in favour having Prime Minister and Judges under the ambit of Lokpal Bill, according to the referendum conducted between June 26 and July 1 by the India Against Corruption, Mumbai. Thus, the case for PM and Judges inclusion under the ombudsman is overwhelming, whether the UPA likes it or not.
So Chandrapathi, the battling heroine who single handedly took on the Khap Panchayat, despite government’s ineptitude, has won a pyrrhic victory after all. In an unprecedented judgement Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Haryana government to pay a compensation of Rs 3 lakh each, that is Rs 6 lakh to Chandrapathi, the mother of the youth who was killed on the diktat of the Khap Panchayat for marrying a girl belonging to the same gothra, for failing to provide security to the couple despite court order. This is the woman who got five relatives of the girl, death sentence for killing both boy and the girl. However High Court had later commuted the session court sentences to life imprisonment. It is pyrrhic because how can one value a young human life, who was killed in cold blood, for Rs. 3 lakhs. But victory is certainly sweet, and therefore two cheers to Chandrapathi.
The news that National Commission for women, was recently denied permission to hold hearing in the state capital Lucknow is a poor reflection on the state of affairs in U.P. With all the hype, being the first Dalit woman Chief Minister, Mayawathi, has failed to protect both women and Dalit women at that, is a sad development. She came to power on the plank of eradication of lawlessness due to Yadavs’ strong arm socio/political behaviour, but unfortunately has failed to change the situation. There is a general feeling of let down, by Mayawathi and her administration across U.P. There have been series of attack on Dalit women and teenage girls, which police not only failed to stop but also they could not catch the culprits. Thus the feeling of hurt and disappointment is writ large all over the Dalit population. Only saving grace is, ever since Mayawathi has won, the humiliation that these Dalits have been suffering under all previous regimes have come down drastically. They can walk with head held high. But that may not be enough in the long run. The ground reality of making material difference has to happen, for Mayawathi to survive in the election that is due in one year’s time. Hope Mayawathi realises the pitfalls, before it is too late.
When it comes to government action on scam tainted people, its always ‘too little too late’. Whether it is CWG Scam, 2G Spectrum Scam or Black Money laundering, I-T default case of scamster Hassan Ali, the story is always same. On 30th June 2011, Enforcement Directorate reportedly issued a show cause notice for attachment of properties valued at Rs: 50 crores. The print media informs that, the notice include the attachment of property owned by Hassan Ali’s associate Tapuria at Prithviraj Rd. in Delhi. Reportedly this property belonging to Tapuria has been sold, and hence cannot be attached. Shouldn’t we laugh at the finance ministry for making a joke of Enforcement Directorate? The claim of I.T dues of 1,00,000 crores from Hassan Ali was years old, and it took 2 to 3 years even to issue a show cause notice for attachment of property! Surely these high flying, international operators who live mostly by illegal activities are too smart enough not to leave things for authorities, who are eternally in slow motion, to mop only the left overs.
Then the ED notice to show cause, to attach properties, will anyway take its own course of time, to bear fruit if any, since all these possible orders can always be challenged for its own due process. Thus, to recover the estimated due of over 100,000 crores of rupees (it was provided in the budget 2009/10 as Rs: 100,000/- crores due but not recovered) it is beyond any reasonable comprehension to speculate the time needed and whether at all the authorities shall ever recover such a huge due! Besides, what happens to the source of the fund or the income on which this tax is due?! Oh poor Mother India, how long you will continued to be bled!!!
Mamata Banerjee is slowly but surely emerging as the Chief Minister of West Bengal. She has already signed an Autonomous Area agreement with Gorkhaland agitators. The central government played a well wisher with P.Chidambaran participating in the signing ceremony and Rs: 600 crores grant for the hill region development. There was also this news of Ms. Banerjee visiting Lalgarh, the hotbed of Reds. As a paper comments, she has rightly set an example for the Chief Ministers of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, by making overtures to Maoists. She has not only promised jobs, health centres, drinking water, up-gradation of schools and colleges in the troubled areas, but by personally making it to their living room, she is hoping to have a break through in the moribund Maoists heartland. Hope she achieves what others have only made noises.
Jairam Ramesh, the thinking minister of UPA has taken his ministry very seriously. He has already taken the government head-on, on the issue of Land Acquisition Bill. As his style, he has already announced that, he will put on website the proposed bill for public debate shortly, for feedbacks. Land acquisition has, in recent days, become a politically charged issue. Its an issue which needs to be sensibly handled for the compensation involved and the dependency factor on the land by the land owner users. Of course the recommendations by NAC led by Congress President has not found approval by the government. If the government is proposing 160% of market rate, NAC is proposing 600%. Surely it has got to be somewhere in the middle, for the economics and sustenance factors. One of the sensitive factor that Jairam is focusing, is on the livelihood dependences on the land being acquired. Surely his attitude will serve him well. Two cheers to Jairam Ramesh.
We have been reading in the press, since some time now, that U.S forces may be leaving Afghanistan after all, since the annihilation of terrorist fugitive Osama Bin Laden. But how will things shape in Afghanistan and its border with Pakistan is a question that has no ready made answer, with extremely disturbing possibilities. Only the other day President Hamid Karzai’s half brother was killed and so was Afghan Governor attacked enroute to the funeral of Ahmed Karzai. And now comes the news of Kandahar mayor being killed, so, if law abiding average Afghan is worried, it is only but natural. With a section of Taliban being shown as good & possible partner with the administration, once U.S quits, the scene is quite murky, as the latest headline “Taliban kills 19 in Afghanistan” indicates. The news from Washington is, that U.S is bent upon destroying Al Qaeda completely from its roots itself, so that it simply cannot resurrect. Of course, one can never annihilate a movement, one can only weaken it so that its power to strike at will is destroyed. Of course, Al Qaeda is certainly a deadly group, although it was the United States which played mid-wife to it decades ago, in an attempt to get-even with the then USSR. But then Al Qaeda grew as a Frankenstein’s monster to devour its creator. In an evolving world, nothing is permanent. It is not the U.S of the yore, USSR went burst, surely, so would the Al Qaeda. Hope U.S succeeds in its design to show Al Qaeda its place.
Money is honey, my little Sunny, rich man’s joke is always funny. Pawar and power, attract each other. We all know money is power. Look at that fugitive criminal Dawood Ibrahim, he has his money empire, and hence call shots, both in Pakistan and India, and Mr Pawar , the Union Agriculture Minister, is his friend Mr Sharad Pawar, the former Chief Minister, also known as Maratha strong man, and the Nationalistic Congress Party’s President, is a very powerful man and wants to have his foothold everywhere. There was this sms doing its round “Breaking News! Sharad Pawar has started learning Malayalam and is planning to contest the elections for the trustee of Shree Padmanabha Temple in Kerala”. Humour apart, this only goes to show even average thinking Indian realises, how this politician who has declared hardly any property worth the name, in his election declaration, always wants to be in the limelight. How his tentacles has spread, is clearly evident in the press report on his families involvement even in the murky iron are scandal of Karnataka. When Justice Santhosh Hegde, the Karnataka Lokayukta had resigned around a year ago, causa proxima was the disappearance of millions of tons of iron ore at the Belekeri port near Karwar in the Coastal Karnataka. The latest news is that one M/s Metachem Mfg. Pvt. Ltd., where Sharad Pawar and his family members, Ajit Pawar and his brother Jayant Pawar are directors, are involved in the disappearance of this iron ore. But somehow, due to some unknown reasons no action has been taken against either the officials of this company or against any directors of the company. To make a joke of the whole case, it is reported that, only the watchman Shivaprakash has been arrested on behalf of Metachem. This is the justice of the powerful.
And comes the shocker “Maharashtra sold”. Ashish Khetan writes how Maharashtrian politicians have plundered away prime land all across the state. Among the plunderers are Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar, Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule and her husband are prime beneficiaries. So you know, how Sharad is really Pawarful, and there appears to be no government which can take him on.
The formation of Special Investigation Team by the Supreme Court on the Black Money, did not come a day too early. The central government which has been dilly dallying for fat too long with all kinds of excuses was finally publically rapped on its knuckles by the apex court. Print media barb "Dysfunctional government losing to judiciary" said it all. UPA II was really asking for it, due to its absolute lack of seriousness in handling of the black money issue. It is becoming increasingly clear that everywhere it had somebody to save and hence dragged its feet. The issue of black money had been a single most ticklish issue for successive governments to act decisively. Tired by the vacillating tactics of the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and the obvious inaction of his boss the Prime Minister, Supreme Court felt naturally constrained to act. Hope like 2G Scam, the black money too will see the light of the day in India.
The doping fiasco which shook the athletic world in India and has been variously labeled was also called a ‘National Shame’. While it is true that drug should not play its role in the performance on track or field, the way these athletes were publicly castigated by all and sundry is rather bad for the athletics of this country. As such, there are not many in the 1200 million opting for athletics for want of facilities and government support for it. It is nobody’s case that nutritional support which these athletes take, either on their own or supplied by the authorities through the coaches may after all have some performance improving substances. This is so, for all those who take additional vitamins and food supplements. Everybody wants to do better in whatever they are doing or pursuing. It is very normal and they will take all help from all sources which will take them to where they want to go. Therefore instead of blaming the athletes or their coach, we must find out why Indian sports scene is so dismal. Nobody, even the present minister do not seem to think that there is something wrong with our policies of supporting sports in general and athletics in particular. Why year after year, a nation of 1200 million people fare very poorly in international events. Even impoverished Ethiopia does better than us. So instead of searching for who is wrong we must find out what is wrong. Only then probably the authorities will know the true problems and the extent of these problems. Proper provision of infrastructure and financial provision for athlete’s dietary intake should be seriously looked at, to provide a congenial atmosphere for young athletes to bloom.
There were these tweets poking pun at Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabhi Azad for his alleged remark on same sex relation, especially among men. One said “Someone who has both Gulam and Azad in his name should not be complaining about people who swing both ways”. It is true we are living in an evolving society, old order changing to yield place to the new. If Oscar Wilde was jailed during his life time for being gay in 19th century England, in 21st century that country has undergone a sea change. Thus whether we like it or not homosexuality has come to stay. On the face of it, while this gay relationship is not normal it may be difficult not to agree with the Health Minister, who called this aberration a ‘desease’, despite the hullabaloo his off-hand remark raised.
The Supreme Court, as was expected, came down heavily on the Union Government and Government of Chhattisgarh for creating, supporting and funding of Special Police Officers (SPO) like Salwa Judum and Koya Commandos. These SPOs created as a possible bulwark against the naxal menace has been a law unto itself, creating mayhem all over. This instead of improving the situation vis-à-vis naxalism, only worsened. Hence the court directive to stop this practice of arming tribals by the Chhattisgarh government and supported by the centre, by terming the whole deployment of this vigilante group as unconstitutional is the natural corollary under the circumstances of gross human rights violations by this SPOs.
For DMK, it was 2nd wicket down. 2G Scam has taken its second victim. Both Raja, the first victim and Maran, the 2nd victim, are from the southern political force of DMK and for similar wrong doings-enriching self at the cost of nation. After the debacle at the assembly election, this ignominy could have been more painful, especially for Muthuvel Karunanidhi, whose daughter Kanimozhi is in jail without bail. Reverse of fortune, just about everything going bad, especially towards evening of the patriarch’s fading life, could be devastating.
Yes the salaries and perks have been increased only a while ago, so you can’t ask for raise again. So you ask for raise in the milk supply of other milking cow! Effective April 2011 onwards, MPLAD fund was more than doubled from Rs 2 crores to Rs 5 crores. The budget allocation from Rs: 1580 crores was increased as actual allocation to Rs. 3950 crores, an increase of Rs: 2370 was cleared by the Union cabinet, ostensibly as a sequel to the demand made by MPs to increase the allocation. Having seen and heard stories of all kinds, how much of this Rs: 3950 crores would translate itself as productive, is a moot point, but there shall be no doubt about the withdrawal and ‘utilisation’ of the entire amount. Thus at least there will be one item of planned outlay which will be fully expended, both visible and invisible. Thanks largely to the “committed” citizens that our Members of Parliament are!!?
So, its witch hunt time for the Congress. The estranged Congress man , Jagmohan Reddy, the son of Y S Rajashekhar Reddy, is in for dangerous days ahead, courtesy the petition by a Congressman P.Shankar Rao. The petition sought inquiry into the ‘ill gotten’ wealth of Jagan Reddy. Court acted fast to get the central agency CBI to look into these charges of amassing huge wealth and money laundering, and to report back in 2 weeks. Surely there will be skeletons from the cupboard of Jagan Reddy, the ambitious son of late Y S R Reddy, the strong man of Andhra politics, since it is an open secret that father Reddy was a bit of bull-dozer in promoting his political and financial interest. But it is the normal thing for Congress to do, if you don’t fall in line, we will make everything to make you fall.
Coming to Maharashtra politics it is as murky as it possibly can get. With all the problems in Karnataka, it can pride itself of having an effective Lokpal, which the premier State of Maharashtra neither has it or the will to have it. Every politician has his own strength which he does not want to dilute. Whether it is Pawar clan, Chavan clan or Thackaray clan, all are powerful by their own right. They all have created their own brand of dynasty and family estate at the cost of Marathi Manoos. Now Narayan Rane an Ex – Shiv Saink is trying to create his own pressure group. An effective Lokpal can go a long way in controlling, land scams, La Adarsh, La Hiranandani powai, Lavasa and many others. The news that Sharad Pawar was disqualified from contesting the Mumbai Cricket Association was greeted in cricket circles in Mumbai, but he supported another politician Vilasrao Deshmukh who won against Vengsarkar who is a professional cricketer. Here again Karnataka is better than Maharashtra. KCA is having Anil Kumble as president and Javagal Srinath as Secretary which is certainly a model as compared to any state, both are dedicated cricketers. It is indeed sad that Vengsarkar, a well known cricketer could not muster enough support in Mumbai cricket scene, and Mumbai is the Indian Mecca of Cricket. Like Pawar, Deshmukh too is involved in scams of different kind. He is deeply involved in Adarsh Scam.. Reportedly he had cleared Adarsh file having marked ‘tatkaal’ for land clearance. Like Yediyurappa, he too has a ‘trust’ for land grab and donations, and has cleared many slum clearance and rehabilitation projects, without the process of tender. Aren’t we all naked in the bathroom and we are pointing at the other! like the proverbial buffalo in the back making fun of the buffalo in the front “Tumhari gaand dhik rahee hai”. This is Yeh Mera India.
With the Union government getting the Lokpal Bill draft cleared by the cabinet for presentation in the Monsoon session of Parliament, one chapter has closed. A bill has after all been presented. It is another matter that a section of the media called it Jokpal.
A glaring inadequacy in the bill is the constitution of panel to select Lokpal. It is likely to have 9 members, of which 5 will be official nominees and 4 from judiciary. So it is the government which will call the shot. Hazare Panel wanted even opposition leader in Parliament to be its member, with no majority of official nominees. Thus the very basis is wrong. How the UPA will push it through has to be seen. There are many other divergent proposals which could have been incorporated as alternative, at least for the purpose of debate. But in their wisdom, the official nominees with the help of Kapil Sibal’s bull-dozing tactics, decided to ignore the Hazare panel, even to the extent of lampooning them. However the threat of ‘fast’ by Anna Hazare could have been delayed, and instead an all India awareness campaign should have been launched, only thereafter, ‘fast’ should have been the last resort. Hope by 16th Aug 2011, Anna camp shall take its call on an alternative plan for it to make it stronger.
The blast on 13/7 at 3 places in Mumbai has prompted us to think why there is so much violence in society. Is it inherent in the present day society all over the world? We tried to articulate a vision of non-violent society. How difficult it is? The Focus has attempted to see it thru. Hope readers will find it interesting. Do revert with your inputs. Rest are as usual.

FOCUS

IN QUEST FOR A NON-VIOLENT SOCIETY
A social worker associated with school children, while talking regarding a handicapped child asked if we could help get some quality used children’s clothes for needy children in village school around her place. Agreeing to join hands with her, in her concerns, we wrote to five local schools, if the parents of children of those schools would come-forward to give away the ‘used but presently unused clothes of their wards’? Visiting one of the five schools, we were saddened to see 3 small children kneeling outside the headmistress’ chamber. They were undergoing punishment for some mischief. Another four grown up boys were waiting to be called in. As we were waiting outside, these four students were called to explain their share of wrong-doings and were all treated by the standard weapon of most teachers. The wooden foot-ruler sternly landed with a slap sound on their extended palm, by turn. Fear was writ large on their face and as they underwent their ignominious retribution at the hands of HM, their eyes were bulging. We could only silently join them in their collective mortification. We felt profoundly sad at the collective helplessness of these children at the mercy of teaching fraternity. Of course, managing ‘wayward’ children was extremely trying experience for these ‘harassed’ teachers, HM claimed. But then, is punishment the only way out! Aren’t we introducing a degree of violence into the childhood little too early!
Violence in childhood, unfortunately is not confined to institutions of learning only. It has its tentacles found in other socio/political institutions as well. There are millions of families where child beating are as routine, as schools. Block headed parents have inflicted grievous physical and psychological trauma to these helpless victims of time. Many times it could be the poverty that took its toll. But then there are many in the socially mobile section of well-to-do, where children have continued to suffer in their helplessness. Then there are police stations where child beating is committed without batting eyelids with insensitivity which can only be called cruel. There are also orphanages and remand-homes where these helpless children are victims of violence of multiple nature.
Society somehow do not realise the seriousness of this attack on the persona of child, as he or she evolves into a grown up man or woman, through the inevitable adolescence. Are we all accountable to these reckless behaviour of grown ups towards the growing children, who are the citizens of to-marrow? Or are we side-tracking the issue saying, that, they didn’t belong to my family, they do not belong to my caste, they do not belong to my faith, or any of the many escape routes that all thinking, self serving men and women have no difficulty in inventing?
After all to evade responsibility or to remain non-responsive to our socio/political environ is a done thing. No questions asked.
Does this violent growing up through schools, homes and society leave its indelible scar on the psyche of these growing children, our citizens of to-marrow, as they step into adulthood?
Then there are other vulnerable section of our society like women, who are subjected to multiple kinds of violence. It starts as early as, Female feoticides. The lunatic Indian mindset for male child has earned notoriety. Unfortunately this is more among educated and well-off class. Not only those in India but also well placed NRIs. In a study conducted by University of California, where reproductive choice is protected by law, of the women who discovered that they were pregnant with a girl child during the interview period, 89% underwent abortion. So violence appears inherent in good number of Indians.
Child marriage too can be called a form of violence on minor girl child. Although child marriage was outlawed in 1860, even to this day it is prevalent in some pockets, that too patronised by elected representatives. Worst was when they became widows. They are condemned to a life of isolation shunned by society with their heads shaved.
Menace of dowry is another problem that trigger violence towards women, who cannot match the greed of their husbands and in-laws. Dowry death, although less these days, they are still not uncommon.
Domestic violence, involving husband is again a common form of violence against women. Although it is more prevalent among lower socio-economic section, the educated and well-to-do too indulge in this dastardly practice. In recent times even unnatural deaths of women have taken place in families of rich and powerful.
Thus the violence within the family environ is a fact of life which cannot be wished away, education or no education.
One of the most despicable form of violence against women in public space is rape or sexual assault. This has been happening at regular intervals. All round the 52 weeks of the year, one can find report in the media of these assaults taking place across the country. Men are becoming increasingly cruel in forcing themselves on unwilling females. Most vulnerable are the minor teenage girls, who cannot protect and defend themselves. Despite there being tough laws, this heinous crime has increased these days. It only show the failure of enforcing authorities in bringing the perpetrators to justice. A sad fact of life in India.
Thus the culture of violence that started in childhood has grown into adulthood to become a social menace. There is indeed a great need for a serious debate on the issue.
All over India, the print media readers are privy to stories of violence of different kind and different degrees only leading to degeneration on a societal scale, of human values that lead to suffering in solitude or in a state of helplessness. Then one day like a breaking of a great dam that burst open and comes out gushing, the power of latent pain of suffering in silence, an equally violent response.
Take the story of some 300 families of Kasturba Nagar slum in Nagpur, Central India. They suffered at the hands of one Akku Yadav and his gang for over a decade, with police not only being quite witness but a supportive party to the atrocities of the gang. Of course the phenomena of action and consequent reaction being an ongoing process, it had to happen someday. One day the women of the slum decided to hit back. Hit back, they did, right in the Nagpur Court premises. Protective police were accompanying this Akku Yadav to the court and the nonchalant way of the criminal, primarily due to over-confidence of police support, done him in. A barb, and the altercation that followed, between the criminal Akku and a woman of the slum was the opportune moment for the women of Kasturba Nagar. They attacked this Yadav from all sides with vegetable knife, chilli powder and stones. Escorting police ran away, and Akku dropped dead on the shining marble floor of the court. This is the story of how a peace loving community had to violently hit back to protect themselves and their growing children at the utter degradation of the police, who are supposed to protect the weak and vulnerable but sided with criminals for their own selfish corrupt aggrandisement by the crumbs thrown by the criminal and their gangs.
Another day, another time, memory raced back to Mumbai. Enemies of humanity struck at an unsuspecting nation. Hatred tried to incite hatred, as a response to perceived hatred. On 13th July or 13/7, as a lexicon that will remain etched in the violent history, of recent times, of the city of Mumbai, in the latest series of explosions in Central Mumbai, some 18 died on the spot, and some more succumbed later to grievous injuries.
Back to the lexicon 27/11, compared to the events of those 3 days of Nov.2008, this 13/7 was small. But innocents, totally unconnected to any reprisals, died unsung like debris of a falling building. Lunacy won the day. Yes, if 27/11 was a kind of war on the Indian state, this was a reminder that we are still a nation of poor learners and therefore an eternal sitting duck. The attacker would come, attack and go. Public will groan and moan, would go back to work the next day and the life is ‘back to normal’. The 24x7 TV channels and Union Home Minster would pay tribute to the ‘resilience of Mumbaikar’, forgetting that there is little choice for most Indians, including Mumbaikars, to get going with life.
After the attack in Dadar, Opera House and Zaveri Bazar in Mumbai, Prime Minister, Home Minister and UPA Chairperson, all came calling and mouthed inanimate clichés, that all sound so familiar that we heard them so many times in the past.
Reportedly, the last, almost a decade, witnessed some 13 terrorist attacks on different places in Maharashtra, where Mumbai is the capital city, the financial nerve centre of the country. Over 500 have paid with their supreme sacrifice at the alter of hatred. Who is the cause of it, is a moot point. But what caused these ruptures that resulted in these horrendous loss of life and property worth thousands of crores of precious wealth of the nation, is a question that defied ready made answers for all these years. The reasons are as complex as this country of over 1200 million people with kaleidoscopic variety of cultures, languages, faiths and a mind boggling diversity that the nation is home to.
Long years ago, I remember to have read some thinking Indian’s, an extremely gratifying hyperbole. “Millions of Indians can co-exist peacefully in one state, A STATE OF HARMONY. Millions of Indians fought for independence in one language, THE LANGUAGE OF FREEDOM. Millions of Indians can worship to-gether with one belief, A BELIEF IN MANKIND”.
They are beautiful sentences with deep meaning and a reverberating message. But where are we now?
Former Prime Minister, Late Indira Gandhi, in her monumental work of brilliance – ETERNAL INDIA – writes “The secret of India’s greatness and resilience is the acceptance of life in all its fullness, the good and the evil, and at the same time, trying to rise above it all. In all the ups and downs of its long and chequered history Indian customs, mores and traditions have been continuously evolving. It has not hesitated to adopt, adapt and absorb new and fresh ideas and issues. And inspite of various foreign influences of over thousand years, the roots of Indianness has remained strong and healthy. The Christianity came to India from outside, so was Islam. Parsees driven away from their homeland, found refuge in India. All of them made India their home and flourished. While others only spoke of secularism, India truly practiced secularism and sustained our scriptured sense of tolerance and compassion”.
But Indira Gandhi, herself became victim of violence, shot and killed by her own body guards who were men. The reason to kill was their sense of ‘deep hurt’, that she ordered the military intervention at their holy shrine, the Golden Temple at Amritsar, which had become a haven for violent separatist elements, who were even called terrorists. So, truly speaking she didn’t do it for her personal benefits. She did it to save the ‘Idea of India’, and had to pay the supreme sacrifice. She was only attending to a law and order problem, when terrorists were holed up in the Golden Temple. Unfortunately these terrorists were being actively supported across the western border, so also from U.K. and from Canada, with huge funding to destroy the ‘Idea of India’ to create a separate country. The western neighbour saw this as an opportunity to pay back, what India did in creating Bangladesh. Again unfortunately even Bangladesh was the product of huge bloodshed. So its bloodshed and violence everywhere. So what is the way out to live in peace without any armed intervention. Why has armed conflict become a necessary exercise ostensibly to secure peace? Is peace possible with violence and bloodshed?
In the current global violent scenario, Jehadi groups like Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Taliban are accused of perpetrating violence in different parts of the world. These acts of violence are variously described were ostensibly because of Palestinians’ unresolved nationhood, U.S. invasion of Iraq or its intervention in Afghanistan, uncertainties in Kashmir, or the ire of Muslim Pakistan which helped create Indian Mujahedeen against Hindu majority India, because of their perceived persecution of Indian Muslims, or Indian terror groups, with Hindu background, wanting to settle score with their attackers. There are many factors, real and imaginary, which have contributed to the violence worldwide.
It is true that every action has reaction some time less than equal, some time for more than equal. Human civilisation is really a history of unremitting violence. Who started it, after all, may be a question of futile exercise. It is the human avarice for power and fortune. That led to violence and more violence, which slowly and surely led to creation of nation states. The identity politics became the order of the day. The theological evolution made the scene more murky and difficult. The organised religions, which were the products of this theological evolution, created more and more walls of suspicion and distrust, among members of human civilisation. The acrimonious debate, as to which of the religious faiths better than the other, became intense.
World is slowly inching towards a time bomb waiting to explode. When will that happen and how will it happen is a question staring at all of us.
Is there an escape, or a reprieve. Yes probably! The question here, who is responsible for the state of world affairs, besides the nature’s autonomous dynamics? It is we humans and humans alone. Without getting into rhetorics, it is as simple as changing one’s mindset! Human knowledge is aware and realise that there are any number of complex issues which have lost its complexity due to some very simple interventions! Theosophist Ruby Lilaowala says “In order to bring change in the society, it is important that you change your thought pattern first.” So if all people in the world had peaceful thoughts then we would have peace in the world.
At a recent Theosophical Conference, a well known speaker tried to explain how consciousness is made up of the assembly of people’s individual and separate thoughts and how each one of us is part of collective human consciousness.
Thus, if your idea is to create world-peace, create peace with your spouse, children, family, friends and even strangers. This is sure to have ripple effect on society when everyone tries to live peacefully. “But for this to happen, you need to achieve peace and inner harmony within your own self” informs Ruby Lilaowala, and asks the question and answers herself “How? By being responsible for the thoughts you have”. Yes like the Mahatma had said long ago “If you want change in the world, be the change, yourself first, before you ask the world to change”. Every long journey has its very first step. To get to anywhere is to start from where you are. So get going looking at the pole star. PEACE IS ONLY AS FAR AS THAT.

J.Shriyan

SERIAL : 35

GANG LEADER FOR A DAY
The Hustler and the Hustled
One sultry summer day not long after my fiasco with the hustlers, I attended the funeral of Catrina, Ms. Bailey’s dutiful assistant. On the printed announcement, her full name was rendered as Catrina Eugenia Washington. But I knew this was not her real name.
Catrina had once told me that her father had sexually abused her when she was a teenager, so she ran away from home. She wound up living in Robert Taylor with a distant relative. She changed her name so her father wouldn’t find her and enrolled in a GED program at DuSable High School. She took a few part-time jobs to help pay for rent and groceries. She was also saving money to go to community college; she was trying to start over. I never did find out her real name.
As a kid she had wanted to study math. But her father, she told me, said that higher education was impropriate for a young black woman. He advised her instead jus to get married and have children.
Catrina had a love of knowledge and would participate in a discussion about nearly anything. I enjoyed talking with her about science, African-American history, and Chicago politics. She always wore a studious look, intense and focused. Working as Ms. Bailey’s assistant, she received just a few dollars a week. But, far more significant, she was receiving an apprenticeship in Chicago politics. “I will do something important one day,” she liked to tell me, in her most serious voice. “Like Ms. Bailey, I will make a difference for black people. Especially black women.”
By this Catrina had been living in Robert Taylor for a few years. But over the July Fourth holiday, she decided to visit her siblings in Chicago’s South suburbs, an area increasingly populated with African-American families who’d made it out of the ghetto. From what I was told, her father heard that she was visiting and tracked her down. A skirmish followed. Catrina got caught between her brother, who was protecting her, and her angry father. A gun went off, and the bullet hit Catrina, killing her instantly. No one around Robert Taylor knew if either the brother or the father had been arrested.
The funeral was held in the back room of a large African Methodist Episcopal church on the grounds of Robert Taylor. The hot air was stifling, the sun streaming in shafts through dusty windows. There were perhaps fifty people in attendance, mostly women from Ms. Bailey’s building. A few members of Catrina’s family were also there, but they came surreptitiously because they didn’t want her father to hear about the funeral. Ms. Bailey stationed herself at the room’s entrance, welcoming the mourners. She looked as if she were presiding over a tenant meeting: upright, authoritarian, refusing to cry while consoling those who were. She had the air of someone who did this regularly, who mourned for someone every week.
Sitting in a corner up front was T-Bone, his head down, still as stone. He and Catrina had been seeing each other for a few months. Although, T-bone had a steady girlfriend-it wasn’t uncommon for gang members, or practically any other young man in the projects, to have multiple girlfriends-he and Catrina had stuck up a friendship and, overtime, become lovers. I sometimes came upon the two of them studying together at a local diner. T-Bone was about to leave his girlfriend for Catrina when she was killed.
Any loss of life is mourned in the projects, but there are degrees. Young men and women who choose a life of drugs and street gangs may, understandably, not be long for this world. When one of them dies, he or she is certainly mourned, but without any great sense of shock; there is a general feeling that death was always a good possibility. But for someone like Catrina, who had refused to follow such a path, death came with a deep sense of shock and disbelief. She was one of thousands of young people who had escaped the attention of social workers, the police, and just about everyone else. Adults in the projects pile up their hopes on people like Catrina, young men and women who take a sincere interest in education, work, and self betterment. And I guess I did, too. Her death left me with a sting that would never fade.
The essays that Catrina used to write covered the difficulties of family life in the projects, the need for women to be independent, the stereotypes about poor people. Writing seemed to provide Catrina a sense of relief, as though she were finally acknowledging the hurdles of her own past; it also helped her develop a strong, assertive voice, not unlike that of her hero, Ms. Bailey.
In tribute to Catrina, I thought I’d try to broaden this idea by starting workshop for young women in the building who were interested in going back to school. I brought up the possibility with Ms. Bailey. “Good idea,” she said, “but take it slow, especially when you’re dealing with these young women.”


FEATURE

How to save an 800gm @ birth
Swapna Majumdar
Prematurely born, little Babu weighed just 800 grams at birth. Considering that over three-fourth of neonatal deaths occur among infants who are born with low birth weight - weighing less than 2.5 kilo at birth - and that the state of Bihar, his birthplace, sees about 250 neonates die everyday, his chances of survival were bleak. Neither his mother, Kajal Devi, a resident of Vaishali district, nor her family, thought he would make it. In fact, his case was a big challenge for Dr Martin Parvez and the team of nurses at the sick newborn care unit (SNCU) in Vaishali.
Baby Babu, however, beat all the odds. Severely anemic, he had to be given blood transfusion twice, his body was too frail for the ventilator so he had to be given ambubag care with oxygen round the clock. In ambubag care self-reinflating bag is used during the resuscitation for artificial ventilation.
Call him a regular little fighter or a miracle child, but Babu was lucky enough to get timely specialised care that saw him through the tough times. “The chance of survival of a child who is less than one kilogram is very poor. He (Babu) was lucky that there is SNCU in Vaishali and he was able to come here,” says Dr Parvez.
What’s so special about the SNCU? For starters, it’s a facility that is not affected by power cuts because there is back up in the form of generator. And the biggest advantage, according to Dr Parvez, is that it has oxygen concentrator that make oxygen directly from the atmosphere. So there is no need to wait for the refilling of oxygen cylinders. “This is why we could also keep Babu in the SNCU for one-and-half months till he gained weight and was healthy enough to go home,” he adds.
So had it not been for the SNCU at the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Unit in Hajipur, Vaishali, Babu would have become another statistic in Bihar’s high neonatal mortality – or the probability of dying in the first month of life. Around 90,000 children die every year within the first month of their birth in the state.
Because the maternal and child care facilities have been abysmal – contributing to the state’s high mortality rate – the SNCU, that is part of the Comprehensive Newborn Care Initiative (CNCI) developed by the Bihar government with technical support from UNICEF and the National Neonatology Forum, has been set up.
And the SNCUs have proved to be a boon for critically sick newborns. The number of children in the age group 0-2 months, admitted in these units has almost doubled from 53,987 in 2009 to 90,236 in 2010. While the number of SNCUs in the state has gone up from four to eight, the number of neonatal deaths declined in the corresponding period.
In Hijapur, where the first SNCU was set up as a pilot project, the number of admissions to the unit rose from 1,200 in 2008 to 2,500 in 2010. There has also been a small drop in the percentage of newborn deaths from 10 percent in 2009 to nine percent in 2010.
According to Dr Parvez, in Vaishali this has been possible because of people like Parbati Devi, a ‘dai’ (midwife). Surprised? Don’t be, because Parbati helps the nurses at this SNCU and keeps a hawk’s eye on all the newborns admitted. She is always around to ensure every child is breathing properly and, if something is wrong, she calls the nurse or doctor immediately. Parbati’s contribution may be invaluable but she is modest about her role, “I feel very bad when I see these babies struggling for life. I don’t think I am doing anything special by looking after them. After all, I am mother too”.
According to Patna-based Sanjay Kumar, Executive Director, State Health Society (SHS), the SNCUs have contributed towards a decline in state’s infant mortality rate (IMR). Bihar has reduced IMR from 56 per 1,000 births in 2008 to 52 per 1,000 in 2009 (SRS 2009) and is now only two points below the national average of 50 per 1,000 live births.
Moreover, Kumar contends that the CNCI has the potential to save up to 60,000 newborn lives every year as it provides for newborn care at every level. The initiative adopts the integrated management of neonatal and childhood illnesses (IMNCI) approach comprising a newborn and child health package of preventive, promotive and curative interventions.
Now, all newborns in Bihar receive home visits, thanks to IMNCI, in the 24 IMNCI districts. In fact, Bihar is the first state in India to integrate the facility based care package with the IMNCI to manage referred sick children in hospitals. A pool of 76 facilitators has been created and 400 MOs (Medical Officers) trained so far.


Health care system Vs Disease care system. (Peace Vs War)
Prof. B. M. Hegde,
hegdebm@gmail.com

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
William Wordsworth 1770-1850
Health is defined by Richard Smith, the former editor of the British Medical Journal,
as that state where one has “enthusiasm to work and enthusiasm to be compassionate”. This would fit in with the definition of health by Sigmund Freud as “work and love.” The conventional Alma Ata definition, a real utopia, is humanly unattainable. The above definition does take into account the physical, mental, ethical, and spiritual dimensions of health. Spirituality, in essence, is sharing and caring, which, in short, is the enthusiasm to be compassionate. Rest of the definition deals with physical, psychological and ethical dimensions. “It is time” writes Mary Tinnetti, a professor of medicine at Yale, “to abandon the concept of disease in medical care delivery as the present concept with its attendant therapeutic strategies is, at best, inappropriate and, at worst, dangerous.”
This makes sense in the background of my recent visit to the USA. In the last twenty four hours that I have been here, the media, of all hues and colour, was awash with only one news-Obama’s health care reforms bill! While the whole saga is about the various strategies for sharing the booty from human misery, there was nothing about health in that. Health is not just managing illnesses or even absence of disease. Health is much more than those. Health is that state where the human being has enthusiasm to work and be compassionate to others. In that sense the majority in the society, is unhealthy today. Health has very little to do with doctors, hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry; as such it is not covered in the Obama drama. MacFarlane Burnett once said that the concept that doctors and hospitals keep society healthy is plain rubbish. This has been now proven by the 14 industrialised countries’ study which showed that countries like Germany and the US, where the doctor-patient ratio is very high, have the highest disease load and shorter longevity compared to countries like Japan where the ratio is much lower. Of the 14 countries, Japan stood first with highest longevity and lowest disease load. Japan also has very, very few specialists compared to the US where the majority of doctors are specialists. In the past several instances of doctors going on strike decreasing human mortality and morbidity adds credence to this theory.
In this debate about health care most of the stake holders-politicians, doctors, pharmaceutical cartels, medical insurance industry, the media, and Para-medical personnel are involved but the common man is not represented at all. His voice should have been heard first. It is the wearer of the shoe that knows where it pinches and not the seller, the broker or the manufacturer. Let us examine the nitty-gritty of disease care in its present avatar.
Scientific base of modern medicine:
“Science is simply making models, mostly mathematical constructs, which, with verbal jargons, are supposed to work”, wrote Jon von Neumann, an American scientist of Hungarian origin. Modern medicine uses the reductionist, linear, and static mathematical model in a holistic, non-linear, and dynamic human body which naturally becomes a square plug in the round hole. In that sense modern medicine’s scientific foundation is totally flawed. The bench mark of evidence based medicine (EBM), the cliché these days, is the RCT (randomized controlled trial), which is unscientific, to say the least. Archives of Internal Medicine of 26th October, 2009, in a scathing editorial in page 1737 of volume 169, mourns that the adverse events in RCTs are “neglected, restricted, distorted, and silenced”. This is serious charge after my continuous fight against RCTs in the last four decades. Naturally, audits of healing outcomes in modern medicine have been disappointing. Medical fraternity, chemical molecules called drugs, many of the heroic surgeries, with over investigations and over treatment have resulted in the whole establishment being the leading cause of human misery and death followed by cancer and heart attacks in that order of preference!
Statistical science of medicine is its bane. Predicting the unpredictable future of a dynamic system using linear mathematics has been the curse of modern medicine. While time evolution in any dynamic system depends on the total initial knowledge of the organism, the latter is unattainable with the human system. Altering the initial state even slightly might have unexpected catastrophic long term outcomes. No intervention, howsoever hi-tech it exotic zoonotic ones as well. Greening the earth to have more forests to stabilize the weather would also be needed.
Global warming might bring back the black rat into the northern hemisphere to help deadly plague make a come back! Pollution control, population control, reduction in unemployment with poverty alleviation are urgently needed for making the world healthier. Poverty is the mother of all ills of mankind. The poverty pandemic should have been declared by the WHO long back. More than three fourths of the world population suffers from some degree of malnutrition. India alone has a load of 47 million children with severe nutritional immune deficiency syndrome. (NIDS) Disturbed minds of extremists, in every walk of life, are a mighty danger looming large. Tranquility of mind is the need of the hour and we might have to include gurus and mystics to use yoga, meditation, as also many others in those areas. Not knowing where one’s next meal comes from is a great risk factor for killer diseases. Wealth generation and equitable distribution is, therefore, a part of health care. This would make it clear that health care has nothing to do with the medical fraternity or the pharmaceutical industry.
Conclusions:
Just as peace is incompatible with war, is health incompatible with disease. The stake holders for peace and those for war are poles apart. So are the stake holders for health and disease. Knowing the details makes all the difference between life and death. Weapons industry and politicians with disturbed minds are the stake holders for war while authentic, humane, empathetic, and compassionate people hold the brief for peace. Latter are also needed to awaken the sleeping conscience of the well meaning people to see the writing on the wall. Future of mankind depends on a sturdy health care system in the world and not the zillion dollar disease care system that benefits only a handful of rich business houses. If we succeed in putting together a proper health care delivery system we would be able to raise the health expectancy of the new generation. Health expectancy is the number of years a new born child could expect to live without help from doctors and pharmaceutical drugs. Politicians, the media and the common man must know the truth. The knaves in politics and the media help spread the false canard against natural healing methods while there are honest people even in the media who could help to spread the truth. Unfortunately, “truth is bitter and could influence only half a score of men in a century while falsehood and mystery will drag millions by the nose.”
“For I have learned to look on nature, not as in the hour of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes the still, sad music of humanity
William Wordsworth 1770-1850


MUSING

IT’S THE MIND SET, STUPID!
- Adv. D.K. Shetty
Cases of state sponsored, covert or overt, Global terrorism is increasing alarmingly day-by-day. Unprecedented security measure has become top priority all over the world, especially in Western Countries. Nobody is spared however big and powerful one may be. Mutual suspicion and mutual distrust have grown so much that even left hand suspects the trustworthiness of right hand.
When we look at the global scenario of security measure, no doubt, Muslims are the worst sufferers. When one member of the family is branded with charges of delinquency, entire family is looked upon with suspicion. Similarly, repeated indulgence of even small section of a particular community in criminal activities and terrorism are brought to the fore, the needle of suspicion unfortunately turns towards entire community. As responsible citizens and members of a decent society, it is our bounden duty to co-operate with the law enforcing authorities to do their job, whether in India or abroad.
Hero worship and sycophancy is practiced and entertained mainly in developing countries and underdeveloped countries. We have plenty of so-called Celebrities and big people who spend generously for the sycophants. Here, bigger the security cover, greater is the status. Developed countries give a damn to these antics. Even the celebrities from Hollywood or top ranking Lawmakers walk freely on the road without a hoard of security personnel laced behind them.
In USA, the security checks at every point and especially the airports, is unique and very strict. It is always advisable for the people who travel to USA and other Western countries to shed their so-called celebrity status and egoistic mindset back home before boarding the flight. Apart from what is screened at Security Checks in Indian airports, screening of shoes, waist belt, jacket, coat, muffler, cap/hat and heavy jewelleries etc. is a must. Slightest unusual beep by the metal detector will attract thorough and intense frisking from head to toe including loosening the trouser. Similarly, if the flyer’s name even vaguely matches with those in the wanted list of security agencies, he is subjected to thorough questioning. There is no reason to get restless or irritated. One will get irritated only at his own peril.
Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan was once detained and questioned by US security at Newark airport in New Jersy. Being a well known cine personality his ego was hurt. Reportedly he made a big fuss and attempted to blow the issue out of proportion. But there were no takers. Different VVIPs were subjected to embarrassing security checks at different places. Former Indian President, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was frisked, Central ministers, Mr. Praful Patel was quizzed, Mr. Pranab Mukerjee had to undergo security checks, Mr. George Fernandes was reportedly strip-searched and a saree-clad Indian envoy, Ms. Shankar had to face pat-down search. Government of India lodged protest. But, nothing happened. Rule-bound airport securities strictly go by the book. Big names like former Vice-President Al Gore, Senator, Late Edward Kennedy, leading business tycoons and sports icons were not spared. There is no special consideration for celebrities. For them VIPs and Celebs are not above the law. There is no point in grudging against US security. Probably, that may be the reason why there was no second 9 / 11 repetetion.
In India, all the accused and suspects are innocent unless proved otherwise whereas in USA, all are equal suspects unless determined otherwise.
In the light of growing security lapses and impending security threat to the nation, it is high time India too concentrate on upgrading security structure at par with Western Countries, and it is advisable to have special and thorough security checks in place for VVIPs themselves without any exceptions. After all it is only the mindset which needs to change.

YEH MERA INDIA

Indian-origin led team makes mosquito cocktail
London: Mosquito bites could soon become a fading memory, thanks to a chemical cocktail made by a team led by an Indian-origin scientist to buzz off the pesky insects.
Scientists, fed by Anandasankar Ray of the University of California-Riverside, have concocted a gas that swamps the mosquito’s senses, making it impossible for them to sniff out human blood. The breakthrough could lead to new repellent lotions and sprays, as well as gadgets designed to keep mosquitoes away from humans, the journal Nature reports. The discovery would also help in providing protection against malaria, and other topical ills such as dengue and yellow fevers, according to the Daily Mail. Mosquitoes transmit deadly diseases to more than half a million people a year and cause millions of deaths around the world.

Who says city students are better?
Thane: Tribal students from the tribal taluks of Thane district including Shahapur, Murbad, Wada and Talasari over came all odds and outperformed their city counterparts in the HSC exams. The overall pass percentage of Thane district stood at 74 with 69,795 students of the total 94,158 including first timers and repeaters clearing the Std XII examination conducted by the state board.
Students from adivasi heartlands demonstrated greater academic excellence despite the lack of basic facilities such a uninterrupted power supply and adequate educational infrastructure.

Office attender clears SSC after 15 attempts
If you fail, try and try again, so said King Soloman. This seems to be the motto of 29-year-old Paresh Jangam, a peon with Saraswati Secondary High School and Junior College who cleared his SSC exam after fifteen years of attempts. Jangam scored 64% in the SSC examination. Jangam who has been working as a peon in the school since 2006 received motivation from the students passing the examination every year. After joining as a peon I could see students passing their class examination and doing well in career. Also, less salary motivated me pursue education and make a mark, he said.

‘Tihar a picnic spot for fraudsters’
New Delhi: In the wake of a media report alleging special treatment being accorded to VIP prisoners at Tihar Jail here, Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said the jail has become “picnic spot” for scamsters.
“Tihar has become a picnic spot for the champions of scams and corruption,” BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters sarcastically.
“The central government is first trying to protect the people who are involved in corruption and scams, and if they are in jail, they are providing all the facilities,” he said.
A newspaper report said that extra liberty was being given to former Commonwealth Games (CWG) Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi and other high profile prisoners at the Tihjar Jail.
It said that during a surprise visit by inspecting trial court judge Brijesh Kumar Garg, Kalmadi was found having tea and snacks with the jail superintendent, while the cells of the 2G scam accused were found unlocked.

EC to introduce EVM and VVPAT system for more transparency
New Delhi: In an effort to ensure more transparent electronic voting, the election commission is planning to introduce EVM and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), whose first field trials would be conducted in simulated elections at selected polling stations. In VVPAT system, when voter presses button for the candidate of his choice in the Electronic Voting Machine, a paper ballot containing the serial number, name of the candidate and poll symbol will be printed, and the voter can verify it, reports PTI. Introducing the new system to the media at the EC headquarters here, deputy Election Commissioner Alok Shukla said “extensive laboratory tests” have been conducted on the prototype of the VVPAT system by the Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL).

World Bank & Madhya Pradesh
Bhopal: World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo Iweala has invited the state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to WB’s headquarters in Washington to share the experience of development schemes implemented for women and children in the state. Inviting Chouhan, WB was underlined its intention to expand engagement in a wide range of sectors in Madhya Pradesh, according to a letter written to the Chief Minister by Iweala. “The WB wants to hear MP’s development experience, especially regarding development of women and children,” the letter said. “The WB holds that these innovations and learning needs to be spread,” it added. In the letter, WB MD had mentioned her experience of a field visit to MP’s Raisen district and lauded the welfare schemes being run there, a government statement said. Iweala has also appreciated Chouhan’s vision to end malnourishment among children and empower women, it added. A WB delegation led by Iweala had called on Chouhan on May 15 and praised the state government’s beneficiary schemes. Former Nigerian Finance and Foreign Minister Iweala had said that Madhya Pradesh government’s public services guarantee scheme was a major step to promote good governance. Right now, a slew of beneficial schemes-Ladli Laxmi, Mukhya Mantri Kanyadan, Gaon Ki Beti, Janani Suraksha, besides reservation for women in panchayats and civil bodies, are being implemented with the co-operation of community in MP.

Molestation to be non-bailable
Mumbai: A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice G S Godbole of the Bombay High Court remarked molestation is a serious crime and it should be made a non-bailable offence.
Chief Justice Mohit Shah made this observation while hearing a PIL based on a newspaper report which alleged that Railway Police Force (RPF) had refused to register the complaint of a 25-year-old woman who was molested in a local train in the early hours of June 19.
The report that appeared in a leading newspaper had been converted suo motu into a PIL by the high court, which asked the government and Railways to file their replies.
The report said the victim boarded a train early morning at Nerul station in adjoining Navi Mumbai and was allegedly molested by an unidentified person in the compartment.
The woman managed to get down at the next station. Juinagar, and reported the matter to RPF personnel who asked her whether she had been robbed or raped, to which she replied in the negative.
They then asked her as why she wanted to lodge a complaint, the newspaper report said.
Finally, she went to Vashi police station, which registered a complaint against an unidentified accused on the basis of her statement. The victim has been called to identify the accused from the CCTV footage, it said.




ABRACADABRA

Man keeps hands off money for 22 years
Beed (Maharashtra): Money is what drives the world so say people, but Babanrao Mhaske doesn’t believe in the dictum. The simple villager hasn’t touched currency for over 20 years as he thinks it is root of all evils. A farm labourer from Aadas village of Kaij Tehsil in Beed district, Mhaske took the oath 22 years back, something that he continues to follow till date. “After an incident that took place 22 years back, I realised that money is the only cause behind disputes. It was then that I decided not to touch money till I am alive,” said Mhaske, aged around 58. He said: “I avoid having tea and meals outside my house, as it would compel me to breach my commitment.” Interestingly, Mhaske’s landlord hands over his monthly salary straight to his family. Despite odds, he is committed to keeping his promise, which he has made to himself. “Come what may, but I would keep my promise till the last breath”.

Woman in France marries dead fiancé!
London: A woman in France is so in love with her fiancée that two years after he was killed in a car crash she has married him. Karen Jumeaux, 22, was permitted by an obscure law to wed Anthony Maillot, after she proved that they had already planned the ceremony. They had got engaged after meeting in 2007 and had a baby boy in 2009 – shortly before Maillot died aged 20. Jumeaux, who wore a white dress for the ceremony witnessed by family and friends, held the wedding in Dizy-le-Gros, eastern France, after President Nicolas Sarkozy granted her request. “Anthony was my first and only love and we were together for four years,” the ‘Sun’ quoted her as saying. But a French legal expert said if she ever wanted to remarry, she would have to get a divorce.

Colonial mind set! Rahul to Rob at work in UK!
London: Many call centre employees in India take on western names while interacting with callers, but now a Leicester-based telesales company has been found guilty of race discrimination for forcing Indian-origin employees to adopt English names, PTI reports. Employee Rahul Jain, 28, was made to change his name to Rob Mathews, by the Teachers 2 Parents Company, which offers ‘effortless communication’ between teachers and parents. His white colleagues could retain their original names at work.
The company founded in 2007 is incidentally owned by Indian-origin entrepreneurs, Suresh Patel and Uresh Naik. Rahul Jain complained against the forced change of name, and now an employment tribunal has found the employer guilty of racial discrimination, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.
The tribunal was told that the company “had a number of staff of Indian ethnic origin who adopted anglicised names at work”.
The employers reportedly claimed that English names were easier for customers to spell in emails, and that customers had struggled with Indian names.
The tribunal ruled that the school software company’s policy was not a ‘proportionate’ way to stop emails going astray and that it was enforced on Indian employees while white colleagues were allowed to keep their names.
On his first day, Rohit Jain picked the name Rob but the tribunal was told that he would “have preferred to maintain his birth name at work because he was proud of it, and was unhappy at having to change names”.
After the tribunal hearing, Jain said, “I was the only person in the company to challenge what was happening. They had a policy for all Asian to change their names.”
The tribunal said: “If the firm was serious that the name change was optional it was incumbent to communicate that real choice. The tribunal considers that the respondent’s instruction to the claimant to adopt an anglicised name subjected him to a detriment to which it would not have subjected white colleagues and that occurred because of the claimant’s race.”

Drunk pees into water reservoir & city drains 8 million gallons
Portland (Oregon): Call it the big flush. Because a 21-year-old man was caught on a security camera urinating into a city reservoir, Oregon’s biggest city is sending a million gallons of treated drinking water down the drain.
Portland officials defended the decision, saying they didn’t want to send city residents water laced, however infinitesimally with urine.
Public health officials say, however, that urine is sterile in healthy people and that the urine in the reservoir was so diluted perhaps a half pint in millions of gallons that it posed little risk. Some people in the city, in the suburbs and around the world called the flush an overreaction, especially since animals such as ducks contribute waste routinely and, sometimes, die in the water.
Even so, Shaff said, the yuck factor was the primary reason for the decision to drain the 8 million gallons, at a cost of less than USD 8,000 to treat it as sewage. “Nobody wants to drink pee, and I don’t want to deal with the 100 people who would be unhappy that I’m serving them pee in their water,” he said. Shaff said the security cameras also showed something that’s still unidentified was thrown in the water, heightening concern about potential risks.
City Commissioner Randy Leonard, who is in charge of the water bureau, defended the decision, citing a potential public health risk. He said he worried about the possibility of Chlamydia or AIDS from blood in urine.
“I’m for taking the most conservative approach,” he said.
The young man, Josh Seater, told KATU-TV he’d been drinking, was with friends and thought that the reservoir was a sewage treatment plant. He said he felt guilty instantly, and then security guards arrived.
Besides the sewage charge, Shaff said, the flushed water is worth USD 28,000.





THE LAST PAGE

Vivekananda: India’s need of the hour
Dr. M. V. Kamath
There is still one more year before the country can rightly celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of one of the most astounding men in India’s long cultural history but apparently such is the high respect and affection Swami Vivekananda commands among practically all sane segments of Indian society that he is very much in the news and talked about. By any account he was in a class by himself, blessed by none else than Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. He was born on 12 January 1863, just seven years after the so-called Sepoy Mutiny or India’s first War of independence. As he grew up, memories of the War must have remained fresh in every Indian patriot’s memory. Sri Ramakrishna, his guru-to-be, was born in 1836 and how Narendra Dutta (for that was his given name) came to know him and both got attached to each other in some mysterious way, is history. Narendra was a precocious boy. Romain Rolland, in his biography of this remarkable soul has noted that Vivekananda’s “pre-eminent characteristic was kingliness!” Wrote Rolland: “Nothing escaped the magic of his glance, capable equally of embracing in its irresistible charm of sparkling wit, irony or kindness, of losing itself in ecstasy, or of plunging imperiously to the very depth of consciousness and of withering with its fury. He was a born king and nobody ever came near him either in India or America without paying homage to his majesty.” Indeed India needed such a man in the last quarter of the 19th century. India had lost its independence, it had lost its self-respect and Hinduism as such was at its nadir. What it desperately needed, it got. One remembers that line from the Gita quoting Krishna telling Arjuna: Dharmasamsthaapanarthaaya sambhavaami yugey yugey. He wanted to establish dharma as much in the rest of the world as in India. He stood up to all critics of Hinduism as only he could” in a majestic, unassailable way. He had chosen that as his life’s broad message. And he captured the imagination of millions by his daring and exquisite scholarship. The Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893 established his credentials beyond question or argument. When asked to speak on Hinduism by Prof. John Henry Wright his reply was “But I have no credentials!” Prof. Wright retorted, “To ask you, Swami, for your credentials is like asking the sun about its right to shine!” Wright wrote to a number of important people connected with the Parliament, especially to the chairman of the Committee on Selection of Delegates who was one of his friends saying: “Here is a man more learned than all our learned professors put together!” At that time Vivekananda was barely thirty years old, as old as Sankara was. But he proved Prof. Wright was right! Many people still wonder why it was that an audience of about 4,000 largely Christian men and women, gave him a standing ovation of four minutes when he began his address by saying “Sisters and brothers of America!” The audience was surely taken aback by his sheer openness to life and his open determination to treat individuals as individuals and not, as a Bishop would, as sinners whose souls are to be saved. When he said in the course of his brief first address what the Gita said of religion, it must have touched the thousands to the core of their hearts. As he said: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him. All men are struggling through paths which, in the end, lead to Me”. Commenting on that speech, the New York Herald wrote: “He is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. After hearing him, we feel how foolish it is to send Missionaries to this learned nation”. And Merwin-Marie Snell, President of the Scientific Section of Columbia Exposition which was being held simultaneously with the Parliament, said: “No religious body made so profound an impression upon the Parliament and the American people at large, as did Hinduism”. Re-reading some of the speeches Vivekananda made during his lengthy sojourn in America, one cannot but wonder at the sheer brilliance of the man and the conviction he carried. Our brainless secularists of today will probably call him a communalist for advocating and explaining what Hinduism is all about. The question one has now to ask is: Do we need another Vivekananda presently at a time when Hindus themselves are degrading their ancient way of life in the name of secularism? Mahatma Gandhi who once confessed that he has gone through Vivekananda’s work thoroughly was to say that reading Vivekananda only increased the love he had for India “a thousand fold”. Will Durant, the distinguished American historian wrote: “He (Vivekananda) preached to his countrymen a more virile creed than any Hindu had offered them since Vedic days”. Limitless were Vivekananda’s admirers. Among them was no less a celebrity than Tolstoy. Rabindranath Tagore wrote: “If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive”. He had the courage to criticise God Himself. He had travelled throughout India and seen the pitiable living conditions of the masses and at times been moved to tears. Once he was to remark, with his usual vigour, that a God who could not in this life give a crust of bread was not to be trusted in the next for the kingdom of heaven. Let it be said here and now: Only a true Hindu would have dared to say that. Sri Ramakrishna himself was to say: “Religion is not for an empty stomach”. In a world rampant with corruption, in a world where fake secularism is the ruling ideology, in a world that is dying for upliftment, what is needed is another Vivekananda. The least that the UPA Government can do is to declare 2011-12 as the Year of Vivekananda and make it compulsory for all students from the primary to the post-graduate level aware of what Vivekananda stood for and, in consequence, what every Indian should stand for. Former President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan said it all when he remarked: “If you really believe in the divine spark in man, do not, for a moment hesitate to accept the great tradition which has come to us of which Swami Vivekananda was the greatest exponent”. But who, in the UPA government, will have the courage to listen to Dr Radhakrishnan and live up to his advice?