Friday, September 9, 2011

EDITORIAL

Friends
Yet another Independence Day came and went into the inanimate pages of history as one more event in this country of myriad dimensions. Yes, India has turned 64. How have we Indians, born around - this time 64 year ago - Aug. 1947, look back at the chequered path, the labyrinth our socio-economic and political life has taken us. Indians were less than 350 millions on 15th Aug. 1947, and to-day we are more than 3 folds at 1200 million, competing with China, to dethrone the Asian giant as the country with largest population in the world. But our Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh or the President Pratibha Patil in their long address to the nation, on account of Independence Day celebration did not mention the issue of population explosion the country is experiencing. Prime Minister, in his opening lines itself spoke of “we have to banish poverty and illiteracy from our country. We have to provide the common man with access to improved health-services. We have to provide employment opportunities to each one of our youth”. But my dear Sir, why is the logic that increased number has only added to the number of unemployed men and women, has only added the illiterate and poor people, has been lost to the intelligence of the world’s most educated economist Prime Minister of India? Ghulam Nabhi Azad, a minister under Dr Manmohan Singh, is not an alumni of the famed London School of Economics, yet probably he is the only minister who speaks lucidly on the mother of all problems, the uncontrolled population growth of India.
Barking up the wrong tree has always been the time tested malaise of the socio-economic governance of our country. “Foremost among our tasks is to ensure the welfare of all. It is for this reason that India has adopted inclusive growth as a pillar of its economic edifice and is pro-actively pursuing it. Our task will be complete only when no one sleeps on a hungry stomach, when no one sleeps on the footpath and when every child is in school. Therefore fittingly, education, capacity building, housing, healthcare and nutrition are the priority on the agenda of the government” reiterated President Pratibha Patil in her address from the Rashtrapathi Bhavan. This is the same rhetorics for all the 64 years that have gone into pages of Free India’s history. Of course, we have certainly progressed during this last 6 decades, but it’s the population growth that outstripped even our recent growth story of close to double digit. And sadly it doesn’t seem to ring the alarm bell at all, to all those who are sitting on the decision making process on the outlay of national resources.
Of course both the Chief Executives – one de facto and the other de jure – spoke of different challenges the country is facing and sang peans about the innate ability of our people to overcome the socio-economic and political problems the country is facing. While the president has more or less sedate existence, the Prime Minister, being the de facto ruler could never win over the opposition due to his failure at being a good diplomat. There were many instances of poor management of issues with the main opposition party which could neither win him friends nor influence people. After all if you do not go along, how will you get along?!
Month began with Karnataka strong man B.S. Yeddyurappa, as a sequel to the Lokayukta report, resigning as Chief Minister of Karnataka. As expected he fought until the end with all the power at his command to remain in the CM’s gaddi, but the party’s central leadership had already decided, on the apparent merits of the issue, to change the state leadership. In the event, BSY had his last laugh and succeeded in nominating his own man, in Member of Parliament Sadananda Gowda, taking over as the new CM. A much younger Gowda is expected to usher in a greater transparent administration than his predecessor. Or would he go back to parliament without contesting for Assembly before the expiry of 6 months period, since BSY had thundered as he whimpered that in six months he will be back at Vidhana Saudha as leader of the ruling party? By the way BSY’s beite noire Governor Bhardwaj, is he having a last laugh in the mean while?! He always had his one point programme of ousting the former CM, isn’t it! Or is he unhappy that BJP is still in power!
In India, we have this so-called secularists riling Indian ethos and practices whenever there is a perceived attack on minorities. We have NGO’s, keeping the few-and far between-aberrations, in the socio-political landscape, as a festering wound and try to keep it alive in the public memory. And there are media men and women, who think they are the only guardians of minority interest. But the fact remains that there is no country like India in the entire world who take care of minorities and their sensitivities, as possibly as it can, under the circumstances. Can this be said of any other country including our western neighbour? And we have souls like Mani Shankar Aiyar, who could probably fit, as “Pakistani ambassador to India”. There was this report on 1st Aug. in The Hindu, the daily from Chennai. An Islamabad date lined report headlined as “Hindus struggle for marriage registration in Pakistan”. ‘Without this, they cannot get the computerised National Identity Card,’ the report had informed. It is very pertinent to reproduce a part of what Anita Joshua, a Christian herself, writes in this report, and we quote “Faced with a “double jeopardy” – vigilant attacks and a discriminatory legal framework – this is not the best of times for any minority community in Pakistan to even draw attention to itself, let alone make demands. But fearing that silence would result in more loss of the already negligible space left for any kind of discourse on minority issues, the Hindu community is quietly working with legislators to put in place a mechanism for registration of their marriages.” It is an open secret, not wanting to get persecuted or get killed, how hundreds and thousands of Hindus got Islamised and there are only few thousand families in Pakistan still left as Hindus. According to a poll carried out by Gallup Pakistan, an affiliate of Gallup International, most Pakistanis prefer ‘Islamisation of society'. The intolerance in Pakistan is of such high order that even a temporary elevation of a Hindu judge of the Pak Supreme Court as the Acting Chief Justice of Pakistan was shouted out of office, some years ago. And we have this Mr Iyer harping eloquently on the civil society of Pakistan. Where are they? This much for Indian ‘secularists’ and mud slinging NGOs.
The news that an Indian migrant, to join his wife in the UK, was ‘Denied visa for lack of English skills’ should not surprise anybody. In fact, it must become a law, in the overall interest of all stake holders. “Is the UK a dumping ground for everyone who wants to come in? What benefits are there for the UK if he arrives here? None” Wrote Leicester Mercury. These are good questions and all should take note of. A 57 year old man, married 37 years ago, with six children living in India, should be joined back by his 54 years old wife, presently living in the UK as British subject. This lady who was given British citizenship 6 years ago, reportedly has 10 brothers and sisters living in Leicester, and she has filed the review petition saying this denial has breached her human rights to family life. A case of ‘Oliver Twist’ asking for more. Probably no other country would tolerate this kind of flagrant exploitation of a legal provision on migration. Hope the High Court in London, does not blink, and advises that she will be better off with her husband and ½ a dozen children back in India. Surely it would serve her well so also her alleged human rights breach.
The removal of Maulana Ghulam Mohd. Vastanvi, as the VC of Darul Uloom Deoband, prima facie, is an internal matter of the institute and the community. An outsider, a non-Muslim has no locus-standi to express opinion. However, as a person interested in the social harmony and coherence, it can be confidently stated that, the removal of Vastanvi as VC of Darul Uloom Deoband, represent the most retrograde step the community leaders have taken. His considered call to Muslims in general to move on with life despite Gujarat, was the most positive call by any leader of the community. It was Nelson Mandela, despite the sufferings the white minority inflicted on him and his people had the generosity of offering the ex-rulers of South Africa, a hand of forgive and forget, that helped the country move on with life for the greatest good of greatest number. Yes in similar spirit the Muslim community has to show the sagacity to overcome the moribund status it finds itself in many spheres of public life. This will only take the community, Insha-Allah, to greater heights of socio-economic progress.
Isn’t it funny that the world’s richest country and supposedly world’s largest economy could have defaulted on its commitments! But that’s exactly what could have happened, if the senate was not to approve the raise in the limit of federal borrowing. So, like it or not this could have been rather an innocuous item dealt by the senate, instead it became almost a national catastrophe nudged by the far right Republican senators to push Obama’s Democratic administration to the precipice. Yes, politicians are the same everywhere, but American politicians probably degenerated to the extent of resorting to a dangerous game of one-upmanship. In the event the welfare funding for poor, especially the Medicare, would be scuttled due to the agreement on cuts in federal spending to the tune of $ 2.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Medicare was one of the main plank on which Democrats won the presidency last time round, but ended up compromising the very same promise because of the intense politicisation. That was indeed a sad day for America which is the leader of the capitalist world, when Standard & Poor apparently down graded its financial security from AAA to AA+, one notch down. Yes the agreement between Democrats and Republicans did save the country from possible blues, but the damage was done.
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, despite being already 7 years old at the helm of the Union Government of world’s largest democracy, still manages to mouth statements totally inconsistent with that of any Prime Minister, let alone heading the government of the world’s largest democracy. Speaking to the media in the Parliament House before the monsoon session Dr Singh has reportedly stated, answering a specific query “We are not afraid of discussing issues of corruption. The opposition also has too many skeletons in its cup board”. Prima facie, it is an absolutely uncalled for remark. If the opposition has reacted saying that the remark by the PM was “unwarranted, unprovoked and irresponsible”, they are only being matter of fact. If this is the kind of approach a Prime Minister is going to have, how can he think of building bridges with opposition members? Dr Manmohan Singh certainly needs to rethink on his management style especially with his political adversaries for the parliament to function with a degree of coherence.
In the cacophony leading to the eventual removal of B S Yeddyurappa in the mining scam, the exposure by Lokayukta appointed committee to look into the irregularities and corruption in the PDS has not been highlighted the way it deserved. According to the report by R. Balasubramaniam Committee, the loss is to the tune of about Rs: 1740 crores per year. The report has exposed the apparently huge leakages and a high degree of mismanagement in the Public Distribution System (PDS) of foodgrains in Karnataka and makes a scathing observation “The PDS is essentially not being monitored by the Govt. at all”. While it is true that the gargantuan scale of the operation of PDS from procurement to storage to transportation to the eventual distribution of food grains, in a vast country like India, is certain to have its own set of huge challenges, which in turn can lead to unavoidable and inherent leakages and waste, the greed of the official-dom with the participation of crooked shopkeepers and politicians, to exploit the system, has been the bane of independent India’s welfare schemes of feeding its millions of BPL families. Right enough Dr Balasubramaniam observes that “one of the reasons why such leakages go unplugged is that the entire system is deliberately allowed to be opaque thus leaving huge rooms for manipulative practices at all levels”. The report alleges that for similar reasons, even the computerisation, which was introduced in an attempt to plug the loophole, was “mysteriously suspended”.
The report while complaining about the multiple systemic failures fears and concludes that proposed Food Security Bill will only widen the system of corruption and maladministration unless the leakages are plugged. So its not only the issue of rotting food in FCI godowns and open storage areas, but also the loot by the Trader-Babu-Politician nexus that have contributed to millions of poor Indians going to bed hungry and starved. A sad story despite record grain production.
This man called Manish Tiwari, the ‘bombastic’ Congress spokesman, has really gone out of his head. Like Rajeev Gandhi, late husband of his party president, had once called Ram Jethmalani, as ‘barking dog’, even to this Manish Tiwari, it appears this expletive can be used. Or else, how can he accuse the Jan Lokpal Bill Panel members as ‘unelectable’. Is this country a private property of his father? His irresistible vocal venom did not stop there. Desperate to paint social activist as bad, he accused Anna Hazare in almost a gutter language, “Tum tho khud hi uparse niche thak bhrashtaachaar mein dube ho”. What if he had made this statement in the presence of those thousands of supporters who gathered all over India, in support of Anna Hazare’s movement, what would have happened to him. It is difficult to imagine. Why this party, which claims as the only party that won political freedom for India, is having such a bad mouthing spokesperson?
There are politicians like Mani Shankar Iyer and there are media members like The Hindu, who for whatever reasons give an impression of being soft towards Pakistan and Pakistanis. Of course, there should be no doubt that we must cultivate friendly relations with our neighbours. But quite frankly haven’t Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have all been very unfriendly towards India? If Pakistan has been busy causing ‘thousand cuts’ in different forms, both Nepal and Bangladesh have helped them deliver these ‘cuts’ to India from their respective soil, be it as a transit points for terrorists into India, or allowing training camps, or harbouring fugitives from Indian laws or pushing counterfeit Indian currency notes into India, printed in Pakistan. Of course in recent times, the Bangla govt. of Sheikh Hasina has expressly spoken and have indeed acted in Indian interest on different occasions. They are indeed friendly acts. Our politicians, which include people like Mr Iyer and media must necessarily push such acts forward into the larger public domain in the greater national interest. The latest act of unfriendliness is the arrest of one Sheikh Mohd. Fahim, a Pakistani national from Karachi with huge catch of fake Indian currency notes. A Kathmandu datelined print media news has informed us that this Pakistani was arrested on 11th Aug. from a Hotel in Kathmandu’s prime tourist location, was found with some 55 lakhs worth of fake Indian money, with his Nepalese contact Sushil Kumar Singh. In May, one Syed Sardar Husain, another Pakistani, was arrested with some 30 lakhs in fake Indian notes. In 2010, reportedly there were 10 of them having been arrested with Indian currency, most of them being Pakistanis. The common feature of all these seizures and arrests was the Karachi printing of these currency notes. Thus, in this loud talking of these so-called Confidence Building Measures (CBM) between India and Pakistan, there appears to be no attention being given to this aspect of unfriendly act of Pakistan. In fact, the cascading effect of mass circulation of these fake money could be very debilitating to the economy of India as a whole, besides the alleged terror funding by fake money. And where is Dr Manmohan Singh, another vociferous votary of dialogue with unfriendly Pakistan, are you listening Mr Prime Minister?
When George Fernandes of NDA was the Union Defence Minister, he had reportedly asked an officer to be sent to Siachen mountain top as punishment transfer where Indian troops were living in inhospitable weather conditions. The allegation was that this particular officer was sitting on an urgent procurement file without action and army personnel stationed in Siachen were greatly suffering. And now comes this report from Public Accounts Committee of similar charge and has questioned the ministry’s lapses, in procuring special clothing and mountaineering gears, impacting the operational capabilities of troops in Siachen sector. It is indeed a matter of serious concern why babudom do not take seriously, the issue involving national interest involving both men and money. The PAC Chairman Dr Murli Manohar Joshi reportedly pointed out serious delays at every level of decision making and asked the minister to fix responsibility on concerned official and make them accountable, and expressed dismay why a country which can make missiles and launch satellites into orbit is still importing and not manufacturing these high altitude used socks, jackets, boots and other gears for the troops posted in mountain areas! Commenting on the financial imprudence at the MOD, Dr Joshi observed that the defence estate, which is spread over some 17 lakh acres all over the country is not making the money which it should be making. The leases to various public and private sector companies at different places have expired and neither they are renewed nor any rent demand raised on them, besides other lapses where many expensive radars and other equipments in a state of disrepair for want of parts and lack of attention being given to the operational aspects of these equipments. It is indeed a sad state of affairs under a very honest minister, but is not known to be a very effective manager of men & money, and defence probably has the highest budget allocation.
So, now the all weather friendship between China and Pakistan is having trouble. Your enemy and my enemy – is same, and therefore we are friends. Unfortunately, this is the only basis of friendship, between Pakistan and China. They have a common adversary India. So it’s the principle of convenience that helped bloom this strange relationship. There was nothing common, social, economic or political, but plain and simple dislike and hatred. Now that China has learnt the hard way that they are having a honeymoon with a 'friend' who harbour all kinds of terror outfits. And for the first time China accused Pakistan for the terror attack in Xinjiang province, which left at least 20 dead. Yes ISI chief has air dashed to Beijing to repair the apparent rupture. But Chinese are far more intelligent but not necessarily straight forward, to fall for the Pak diplomacy. They already know whom are they dealing with. Bad luck for Pakistan. And comes another revelation that Pakistan is the production center of British Passports. “Since British citizens are not required to obtain visas to travel to many countries, a terrorist could use one of these fraudulent passports to travel to many countries without further background checks” informs a report presented to the U.S Congress by the Govt. Accountability Office, quoting an unnamed former Pak immigration official. Reportedly some 40,000 have criss-crossed the globe on forged or stolen travel documents in 2010, according to Interpol. So this is Pakistan for their Indian friends.
“4 die as trigger happy cops fire on farmers” was a sad headline from Pune, just before 5 days of 64th Independence Day. Is this the freedom that our forefathers fought for where these farmers only asked their legitimate right for water which authorities diverted to the city of Pune’s industrial suburbs, and instead of water they got bullets? It was true that they had blocked the Mumbai Pune Highway. But then, the power that be, take note, only when people are put to inconvenience. So, at such places instead of police, political leaders must come to talk to them. When police comes, unfortunately what happened, is true of most cases. There are instances of police ruthlessness and deaths caused by the crowd running helter skelter due to massive and sudden police intervention, sometime even without notice. Past examples are there in Maharashtra. So it is the failure of the political class first and foremost, as it can be seen that nobody came to see victims of the firing. Leaders like Ajith Pawar, the Dy. C.M. of Maharashtra were seen mouthing inanities of developmental politics etc. After all he is the nephew of the Maharashtra strong man Sharad Pawar, and his writ has to run, right or wrong, that’s the bottom line.
News that “Small states outperform others in MNREGA front” is no surprise at all. So also that “Chhattisgarh provided maximum days of Employment” is another compliment to smaller states. While all those states need to be commended and congratulated for the good job done, not merely for its reach to the intended target but also for the proper deployment of financial resources without any pilferage. It is indeed to the credit of Chhattisgarh that it could provide full 100 days employment to almost 28000 families. But what needs to be appreciated in this context as the title of the news informs “small states outperform” and that is the bottom line. Basically it is the better management that boils down, patently because states are smaller. Why HDI is much above the national averages in Goa and Kerala is for similar reasons. Even Chhattisgarh is having better HDI in different parameters, above the national averages. So the central government should apply itself in creating smaller states if there are demands from the locals, like the one for Telengana or Vidharbha and the likes. This shall be good for the people and therefore good for the country.
There was this strange news from Geneva, titled “Swiss Banks owe Indian a/c holders over $2.5 billion”. So According to the country which harbours global illicit money and have enjoyed its fruits for decades, the Indian crooks have deposited in their banks a mere Rs.11,000 crores. Can anybody take this on the face value? For far too long Indians of all hues have been hankering the amount being $ 1.5 trillion. The amount Swiss authorities are saying is less than 17% so 83%, according to them is 'gas'. But one thing is certainly true that there have been massive flight of this stolen money from Swiss Banks, because of public outcry and the precious nothing our government has done, only to drag its feet to give these marauders an opportunity to cover their tracks. And it looks fairly clear that, crooks being faster than authorities, the vested interest have acted and thus there may be huge depletion of this sleaze money held by these banks. Of course it may still look ridiculous to believe the preposterous figure as suggested by Swiss authorities. After all these hullabaloo and the noise that Pranab Mukherjee is making probably with a purpose – ‘I have already told you’ kind of thing – to caution and warn these crooks to take note and act, there may after all nothing will be left.
Mumbai Police needs to be congratulated for the work done, which was truly the work of Mumbai Municipal Corporation. Mumbai is the biggest Indian city. Believe it or not Mumbai Police have counted potholes – one by one – on 315 roads in the entire city including suburbs! And again, an extremely commendable job by the police, that they completed the entire job in flat 15 days and submitted a detailed report. The report informs that there are 2352 potholes in the city, and segregated it into 25 areas to say that the Kalbadevi area – which is both commercial and residential – has the maximum number of potholes at 510 with next Vakola at 277 potholes, and 19 areas with less than 100. It also suggests when the repair work can be done – best day & time – and how traffic can be diverted to ensure least problem to the road users. Now this is a fantastic job by the police but believe it or not, no media, print or electronic 24x7, singing peans of this commendable and exemplary job by the Mumbai Traffic Police. This becomes all the more commendable and exemplary since this is not the job of police but that of Municipal Corporation officials, which was unable to do despite repeated demands by the Corporators. Reportedly, Municipal Commissioner, Asim Gupta, an IAS, had stated “The BMC cannot count the number of potholes. We always count number of potholes locations”. Some lessons in governance!
The business of unseaworthy merchant ship strolling into Indian sea waters and reaching Mumbai shores undetected is becoming a regular feature. They are by any stretch of logic are security lapses and cannot be condoned. The latest to enter is M.V. PAVIT drifting to Juhu beach in Mumbai. Believe it or not it has breached 3 tier security built around the city of Mumbai after 26/11 terror attack, by Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and Marine Police. And our honourable Union Home Minister had observed after the Mumbai attack on 13th July 2011 that ‘our security measures have improved since 26/11 and terrorists have stuck after 31 months’. He was so sure about it. But this security breach took place after 2 weeks of the latest Mumbai blast which killed around 30 people in 3 places with hundreds having injured. And what if this ship had carried the so-called “stateless terrorist’? We are just fooling ourselves. And our Coast Guards are patting their own back for recovering the cost of operations to salvage the ship and its crews. Where do we go from here Mr Defence Minister and Mr Home Minister?
CAG as usual is riding high. The constitutional body meant to go into government projects has again come up with the accusation that there have been massive miscarriage of appropriateness in the spending and awarding of contract in the Rs: 70000 crores Common Wealth Games. It has squarely indicted Suresh Kalmadi, the Organising Committee Chairman, who is already in jail, besides Sheila Dixit and PMO. Entire opposition demanded that Ms. Dixit, the Delhi CM should quit. CAG report has exposed that there have been deliberate attempt at go-slow in the initial stages only to rush thru’ in the later stage so that all tender norms can be given a go-by in order to give orders/contract to favoured ones. Naturally this has led to huge losses “Eliminating competition led to huge avoidable extra burden on the exchequer”. It is reliably gathered that both the Delhi CM and PM may have lot to explain. However what is sad is the Congress accusation that CAG is exceeding its limit and its bombastic spokesman Manish Tiwari called it only ‘an auditing body and that it cannot comment on any policy decision’. It seem to think only offence is the best form of defence.
“Bloodbath in Syria, at least 120 killed”, was report from Damascus, “Afghan Police Head Quarters hit by car bomb, 13 dead” was Kandahar datelined report, and the third one comes from Beijing. “14 killed in violent attacks in China’s Xinjiang province” – why there is so much violence in this geographic belt? Is there a common factor linking it all? Or isn’t there a common factor? World and all those concerned should take note of these happenings. Where are we going and what are the objectives that are driving these mayhems?
As is the norm, September, every year, we highlighted the year that went by, on 15th Aug. So is this year under Focus, we took up India @ 64. All the year round, there was one scam or the other surfaced and tumbled out of the proverbial cupboard of the government. We could write on some of them only, since the number of scams were too many even for a single year. We have, as usual, published some thoughts from our valued readers, their take on India @ 64. Hope readers shall find them an interesting journey down memory lane. Do revert with your response. Rest are as usual.

FOCUS

INDIA @ 64 - The Year of Scams
“Over 6 lakh teachers failed in qualifying exam held by CBSE”, was headline of a small piece of news reported in the left hand corner of the 9th page of a Mumbai based English daily. The report stated that, the first-ever Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) was held in Nagpur to be a bench mark for new teacher appointments for CBSE schools. The results, however, were shockingly dismal with 86% candidates failing the test across the country. Reportedly close to 7,10,000 candidates appeared for the exam but not even 98000 managed to pass, which is not even 14%.
This CTET was probably held some time in July 2011. So for 64 years, we had teachers teaching in Central Board of Secondary Education who were dismally incompetent and patently unqualified to be teachers. And CBSE schools are believed to be better than vernacular medium government or municipal or panchayat run schools. But all these schools were manned by apparently qualified teachers and they were all getting good government salaries. How were they being recruited without competency and the necessary IQ required for a teacher?
We are all privy to the fact of life that all government appointments command a high premium. If there is the required qualification, and if you have the influence with appointing authorities, you make it to the list of appointees. Then there are those without influence, then it is only the power of money, political contacts, with or without the help of brokers, that would see thru the appointment. Thus a teacher who is qualified all right, but probably incompetent, but paid for the job that she got as a teacher, wouldn’t be giving her best to the students. No wonder most students whether from CBSE schools or those lakhs of government, municipal or panchayat run schools, end up in some coaching institutes probably with the help of very same teachers. And those who couldn’t afford tuition fees would end up as drop outs or do miserably at the end of their academic life. Aren’t there stories that a 5th std. child couldn’t do a 2nd std. sum! Isn’t it true that India has a huge unemployable literate population? Isn’t this one way how corruption got into the life of ordinary Indians without really realising how corruption ruined their life? Besides, if children need tuitions because of poor teaching, the family’s living cost is higher! It is another dimension of inflation.
The 64th year began with Comptroller& Auditor General of India opening of can of worms on the Common Wealth Games. While government spokesperson tried to belittle the constitutional body, CAG, for its legitimate pro-active role in bringing to light the shady underhand deals within the organistional hierarchy of the government, the expose has unmistakably proved the wrong doings of Kalmadi & Co. A news paper wrote “it is incontrovertible that Suresh Kalmadi looted and plundered the national exchequer, and Dr Manmohan Singh played the role of proverbial three monkeys – see nothing, hear nothing and do nothing”. All Indians are privy to the fact that two sports ministers who were the concerned individuals in this whole issue of plunder, late Sunil Dutt and Mani Shankar Iyer, wrote to the Prime Minister to remove Suresh Kalmadi from the CWG. Apparently Dutt wrote to PM questioning the very appointment as Organising Committee Chairman, while Iyer wrote to PM and told in no-uncertain terms that a broad day light robbery was underway in the name of CWG. But our cleanest Prime Minister had no time to respond and ignored the considered pleas of both of his cabinet colleagues.
Of course it is another matter that Suresh Kalmadi is in jail for all the act of omission and commission, but Sheila Dixit, the administrative head of the government responsible for the whole Common Wealth Games is somehow not been made accountable, so also PM can be accused of inaction in the face of extreme provocation to act.
Another scam that truly overtook the anxiety of the nation is the 2G spectrum case involving Ministry of Telecommunication. Although the possible loss of revenue to the national exchequer was being bandied about in 2008, PM was reportedly casual about the whole thing saying these kinds of notional losses do happen, there is nothing to really feel worried about it. In 2008 opposition parties, especially LEFT parties, had charged that in 2G Spectrum allocations some Rs. 60,000 crores the country lost. But as usual Dr Manmohan Singh seems to act only when the house is on fire. Thus when the CAG came up with their finding to inform the Parliament that country could have lost some Rs: 176000 crores, and Supreme Court intervened, ruling party and their leader suddenly took note. Month that followed saw the Minister of Telecom Raja quit and CBI made a case of illegal gratification against him and he landed in Tihar jail, followed by his party MP Kanimozhi and another minister Dayanidhi Maran too found himself in deep waters and quit. All these happened not because the government of the day acted. If anything, they were left with no choice, except to let the law take its course. For once, the ruling dispensation did not interfere with the CBI shenanigans.
Around the same time, this government forced on an unsuspecting nation, Central Vigilance Commissioner, despite the differences in the selection process to the contrary. It was an arrogance which unfortunately the government of Dr Manmohan Singh had to, perforce, swallow. In particular for both Dr Manmohan Singh and his deputy P. Chidambaram, the Home Minister the questionable appointment of P.J. Thomas as CVC, it blew up on their face. However, what is sad is, they do not seem to learn from their ham handling first and then being rapped on the knuckles by the circumstantial developments beyond their control.
Now look at this La Anna Affair, or even Baba Ramdev Affair. After having spent some, reportedly 100 hours, government dumped Anna Panel, thinking all is hunky dory, and Anna and his draft box-filed. But wily Anna is not the one to give up and he gave a call to the nation to fight against corruption. The unprecedented response the Anna movement received was simply breath taking. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his ministers ran helter skeleter for cover. As is the wont, when you are on a weaker wicket, you try to exploit the perceived weakness of the opponent. The government tried to find out about his days in Army, his organization in the village . Stooped too low. Even when you attack your adversary you have to maintain a standard of decorum, at least to protect your own dignity. In the event Tiwari became too cheap. He addressed the septuagenarian hero of the masses as ‘Tum’ and not ‘Aap’. He is reported to have said “Tum tho upar sey niche thak bhrashtaachaar mein dube ho”. It is to the credit of Anna Hazare that he didn’t hit back. But it was conclusively proved that the government is indeed nervous and their undergarments were showing. However, it is to the credit of all, civil society, youth, media and of course the government, all rose to the occasion to say ‘yes’ to Anna’s proposal, and Anna called off his 12 days old fast.
Prior to this, the handling of Baba Ramdev showed the chinks in the government armoury. First you go to the airport to receive him and then let the police on him and his supporters, past midnight. Fortunately for the government, their bungling was evenly matched by Baba’s bungling. In the event, it is true that Baba cannot come back with any of his histrionics, the next time. Of course this Baba bungling emboldened the Kapil Sibal & Co to ignore Anna Hazare and his panel. But, unlike Baba, Anna Panels sincerity was palpable and commitment to the cause was very transparent. And Kapil Sibal’s arrogance put paid to the governments plan of upstaging the Civil Society Panel. Thus, at every level, or rather most instances, the government interlocutors do not seem to learn and on top mouth inanities like ‘unelected and unelectable’ members of faceless public. Big mouth may score brownie points at times but they cannot win meaningful and purposeful debate.
Then there is this Adarsh Housing Society Scam on prime defence land on the South Mumbai’s Cuffe Parade seafront. Reportedly the land was meant for a residential building for Kargil war veterans. On this 31 storey, 103 flats building, except, for 3 Kargil war veterans, rest were all babus, politicians, their relatives and some serving and retired officers of armed forces. Reportedly all those ministers and influential MLAs besides important babus broke every law of the land to hurry through the process. Construction was complete more than 75%, when it hit the road block. Ashok Chavan, the then Chief Minister – whose family reportedly owned 3 flats – had to resign in disgrace. But the CAG report has slammed two more Chief Ministers, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde, both are Union Cabinet ministers and have not resigned. According to CAG report “Adarsh scam is a classic example of fence eating the crop with no parallel, where all concerned agencies pooled their strength not for a common national cause but for personal benefit”. Coming down heavily on the administration the report described the scam “as an example of how a powerful elite could collude to subvert rules and regulations”.
‘Maharashtra Sold' was a cover expose of Tehelka. On the cover itself they had published the names of Sharad Pawar, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Ashok Chavan, Supriya Sule and Ajit Pawar. What they had missed was Narayan Rane another high profile Maharashtra politician. They are all involved in large scale land grabbing and have converted the state as a private property. Vilasrao Deshmukh was further exposed by The WEEK. Under the 'Big Mumbai Loot' it had published stories of how prime land was given to builders lobby, floating all rules. Gigantic Lavasa Hill Station development project, a HCC venture of Kilachand, had the involvement of Sharad Pawar's family. Thus the who’s who of Maharashtra had their hands on all these loot of exchequer.
Stories of massive corruption are many and seems an unending loot of the nations resources by the political class, the bureaucracy and the private enterprise. Can Anna save this country?

J.Shriyan


INDIA@64
Venkatesh Shriyan
India at 64 is now witnessing a huge wave of protest against corruption led by a veteran Gandhian at 74, Shri Anna Hazare. The Jan Lokpal Bill which he fiercely advocates has been propagated by Team Anna led by Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Shanti and Prashant Bhushan and Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde. Amongst the many things which the Jan Lokpal Bill intends to incorporate, it also intends to bring the Politicians, Judges and Beaurocrats in its ambit. The mass hysteria for the Bill is gaining momentum by the day and is now led by the Media to its hype.
I have no reservations as far as the Jan Lokpal Bill, but the method the entire propaganda is orchestrated. Though the main theme of getting rid of Corruption in the daily life is welcome, I strongly feel a section of big wig has been conspicuously been left out. That is the MEDIA. Why have Shri Anna Hazare and its team has left out the MEDIA Barons from its ambit of Corruption. I am sure if MEDIA was included in the ambit of Lokpal Bill such hype and media hysteria would not have at all been present.
We are aware of how the 80-year-old Rupert Murdoch, the world’s most powerful media mogul, was involved in the phone hacking scandal which had engulfed not just Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation, but also Britain’s political and law-enforcement elite. The power the MEDIA Barons possess is a matter of great concern and it just defies my logic why Team Anna Hazare has left out them from its ambit.
MEDIA usually sells stories which bring in Air Time and mass viewing. But a struggle to get the Justice for the denied, discriminated Bank Employees, is an issue not at all touched by the Media. The blatant violation of the Pension Regulations 1995 in the recently concluded 2nd Pension Option for the Bank Employees has deprived lakhs of Bank Employees of its rightful pension, besides collecting enormous money illegally from many Bank Employees to join the Pension Scheme. There are 7 writ petitions filed in Bengaluru High Court only. At Mumbai High Court a PIL was filed. There are more than 30 writs filed across the Country. The affected are knocking the doors of Justice but very few will survive when they see the light of Justice.
To expedite the process of the Justice the Petitioners of the Mumbai and Karnataka PF Optees Forum have now filed a transfer petition to expeditiously hear the matter which we feel is of great concern. The Transfer Petition number 901-914 of 2011 will come on board of Supreme Court most likely on 23.08.2011. We at the PF Optees Forum, strongly wish that Media which has been silent on this burning issue will please highlight in days to come.
To highlight not only corruption but also prevent violation of the Statute Provisions by the monied, muscled MEDAI should also be included in the ambit of Jan Lokpal Bill. Lest the genuine voices of protest will never be heard.

Author is a Sr. Bank Manager from Mumbai.

Miles to go before we sleep
64 years of Independence –where are we headed?

Our country is moving up the global ladder of progress and development at quite a fast pace, then why is
Today the world is in flames. Everywhere people are searching for something for something that would work. Never has a generation called upon to experience so much suffering, such intense heart aches than ours. Psychologically we are frustrated with everything around us. Sociologically we are cut off from all the old moorings that made our life comfortable. The problem with the present day society is that the old values are dead and new ones are not yet born. This period of transition has created a void everywhere.
Yes there is a serious crisis of values in the modern society.
Since then India underwent tremendous changes covering all its spheres be it industrial, social, economic, cultural, information technology. But in spite of this something here have remained unchanged rather they have outgrown further. India is trapped in the shackles of social evils, injustice, poverty, famine, malnutrition, out casting of autocratic corruption, pollution, violation of laws, inequality of gender, child labor , unemployment, dowry, inflation etc. what else is left still the list goes on to continue.
Freedom can be felt only when this era of dictatorship and autocracy will end and when the smoke of social evils will disappear.
Freedom is in living it in every moment not in preaching it.
I must also say that the Indian government should also work urgently to introduce some kind of happiness index to measure the true wellbeing of its people. A blundering government has to be virtually brought to its knees. Prosperity has meaning when there is happiness and common welfare built into the system. There is a lack of role models and inspiring examples at the highest levels. Also lack of stringent laws and effective enforcement of existing laws and gender corruption at all levels.
The younger generation has to resolve to save the country. They have the power, the desire to excel the inner strength. The youth need to believe that it is possible. Let’s work towards building a free frank and fearless nation. Despite the dark patches India with all its problems still survives as a single state with strong democratic character. Let us join hands to serve our country and gift the next generation a secure, healthy, developed and prosperous India.
Ah, but they say we prefer to be like that only. Is this so?!
Author is Principal of LN College of Com & Science, Mumbai.

India at 64
India can boast of several achievements after it attained Independence, in several fields – in medical, engineering, space technology, telecom, transport, banking, food production, etc. However, we awfully lack world-standard institutions in the educational sector. Only one institute, i.e. our Indian Institute of Science is ranked among the 301-400 among the top 500 universities in the world, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ACWU) prepared by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Not only that, the standard of education in our universities has declined over the years and the teaching faculty do not evince adequate interest in research, and whatever research has been undertaken by them has contributed very little to the well-being of the society /nation. It is true that the number of PhD holders has increased but their research studies do not find mention at the global level.
As far as engineering education is concerned, we have thousands of engineering colleges that produce graduates mainly to cater to the IT sector that has thrived in the past decade. It is a sad irony that only 25% of engineering graduates coming out of these institutions are employable, according to industry sources.
Over the years, the standard of living of the urban households has increased considerably. We have big cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, New Delhi, Bangalore, etc that have grown manifold as far as infrastructure is concerned, but they are also notorious for the slums where the poor live in sub-human conditions. The gap between the rich and poor has widened and the poor find it hard to have two square meals a day. Crime rates too in cities have gone up due to the prevalence of poverty and unemployment. No doubt, the governments at the State level ensure that our youth are provided education but not employment avenues or unemployment allowance.
As far as banking is concerned, there has been a steep increase in the number of bank branches across the country and ATMs have sprung up everywhere that ensure availability of money to the public day and night to meet emergency cash requirements. However, the number of post offices in rural/urban centres has not multiplied and this has affected the postal services in both urban and rural areas. It is felt that postal department must introduce new technology so that customers are provided with quick and efficient service. It is a very positive development that government is considering introducing banking services through post offices.
The most disturbing feature after Independence is the institutionalisation of corruption in different government departments. Most of the politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists are engaged in corruption and their victims are both educated and illiterate masses. Besides, there is red tape, inefficiency, and harassment in government departments and the general public are the worst sufferers. It is sad to note that accountability and transparency have been given a go-by by the politicians and officials in their dealings and that even when large-scale corruption cases surface in newspapers and through the electronic media, every effort is made to push them under the carpet instead of punishing the traitors involved in such cases.
There is a saying that as is the leader, so are the followers. As our politicians, in general, are corrupt so are bureaucrats and lower – rung officials. What is a common knowledge now is that India lacks able, committed, upright, and efficient leadership that can uplift and galvanise the whole country. It is time we had more number of Anna Hazares who are committed to the welfare of masses and the progress of the nation at this critical juncture. Long live India’s Independence!
Author is a retired bank executive. Presently a visiting resource person on leadership training, personality development & HRD.




SERIAL : 36

GANG LEADER FOR A DAY
The Hustler and the Hustled
I was nervous about teaching the workshop, but I was also eager. My relationship with tenants up to this point had largely been a one-way street; after all this time in Robert Taylor, I felt as though I should give something back. On a few occasions, I had managed to solicit donations from my professors, fifty or a hundred dollars, for some kind of program in the neighbourhood. This money might do a great deal of good, but it seemed to me a fairly impersonal way of helping. I was hoping to do something more direct.
In the past I hadn’t been drawn to standard charitable activities like coaching basketball or volunteering at a school, because I wanted to differentiate myself from the people who helped families and ran programs in the community. I had heard many tenants criticize the patronizing attitudes of such volunteers. The writing workshop, however, seemed like a good fit. Having hung out in the community for several years, I believed I could avoid the kind of fate-exclusion, cold stares, condescending responses – that often greeted the people who rode into town to do good.
I was also still reeling from the face that I had alienated so many people around J.T.’s territory. I was feeling guilty, and I needed to get people back on my side again.
Of all the people in the projects, I had the least experience spending time with young women, particularly single mothers. I was a bit nervous, particularly because Ms. Bailey, Ms. Mae, and other older women warned me not to get too close to the young women. They felt that the women would begin looking to me as a source of support.
In the beginning the group convened wherever we could-in someone’s apartment, at a diner, outside under a tree. At first there were five women in the group, and then we grew to roughly a dozen as more people heard about it. The meetings were pretty casual, and attendance could be spotty, since the women had family and work obligations.
From the outset it was an emotional experience. The women wrote and spoke openly about their struggles. Each of them had at least a couple of children, which generally meant at least one “baby daddy” who wasn’t in the picture. Each of them had a man in her life who’d been either jailed or killed. They spoke of in-laws who demanded that the women give up their children to the father’s family, some of whom were willing to use physical force to claim the children.
Their material hardships were overwhelming. Most of them earned no more than ten thousand dollars a year, a combination of welfare payments and food stamps. Some worked part-time, and others took in boarders who paid cash or, nearly as valuable, provided day care so the young women could work, run errands, or just have a little time for themselves.
The most forceful stories were the tales of abuse. Every single woman had been beaten up by a boyfriend (who was usually drunk at the time), some almost fatally. Every one of them had lived in fear for days or weeks, waiting for the same man to return.
One cold autumn evening, we congregated at a local diner. We found a large table in the back, where it was quite. The owner was by now accustomed to our presence, and he didn’t mind that we stayed for hours. If business was particularly good, he’d feed us all night long and then waive the tab. He and I had struck up a friendship-I often came to the dinner to write up my field notes-and he liked the fact that I was trying to help tenants.
The theme of this week’s essay was “How I survive.” Tanya was the first to read from her journal. She was twenty years old, a high school dropout with two children. She’d stayed with her mother after the first child was born but eventually got her own apartment in the same building, then had a second baby. She didn’t know the whereabouts of the first father; the second had died in a gang shooting. In her essay she bragged about how she earned twice her welfare income by taking in boarders.
“But sometimes it doesn’t go so well, Sudhir,” said one of the other women, Sarina, who liked to be the voice of reason. She stared down Tanya as she spoke. Sarina had three children, the fathers of whom were, respectively in jail, dead, and unwilling to pay child support. So, she, too, had taken in boarders. “I remember when my brother came into the house, he started dealing dope and they caught him. Almost took my lease away.”
“Yeah, but that’s just because you didn’t pay the building manager enough money,” Tanya said. “Or I think that it was because you didn’t sleep with him!”
“Well I’m not doing either one of those things,” Sarina said in a moralistic tone, shaking her head.
“You got some nerve,” interrupted Keisha. “Sarina, you put your ass out there for any man who comes looking. “At twenty-six, Keisha was one the oldest woman in the group. Even though she had grown angry with me for sharing information about hustlers with Ms. Bailey, she hadn’t held the grudge for long. She had two daughters and was the best writer in the group, a high-school graduate now planning to apply to Roosevelt College. “Hell, there ain’t no difference between some ho selling her shit and you taking some man in your house for money.”
“Hey, that’s survival!” Tanya said, “I mean, that’s what we’re here to talk about, right?”
“Okay,” I jumped in, trying to establish some orders. “What’s the best way for you to take care of whatever you need to? Give me the top ten ways you survive.”
Sarina began. “Always make sure you know someone at the CHA you can turn to when you can’t make rent. It helps, because you could get evicted.”
“Yeah, and if you have to sleep with a nigger downtown, then you got to do it,” said Keisha. “Because if you don’t, they will put your kids on the street.”
Sarina went on, ignoring Keisha. “You got to make sure you can get-clothes and food and diapers for your kids,” she said. “Even if you don’t have money. So you need to have good relations with stores.”
“Make sure Ms. Bailey always getting some dick!” Keisha shouted, laughing hard.
“You know, one time I had to let her sleep with my man so I wouldn’t get kicked out of the building,” Chantelle said.
“That’s awful,” I said.
“Yeah,” Chantelle said. “And he almost left me, too, when he found out that Ms. Bailey could get him a job and would let him stay up there and eat all her food.” Chantelle was twenty-one. Her son had learning disabilities, so she was struggling to find a school that could help him. She worked part-time at a fast-food restaurant and depended on her mother and grandmother for day care and cash.
Chantelle’s hardship weren’t uncommon in the projects. Unfortunately, neither was her need to appease Ms. Bailey. The thought that a tenant had to let the building president sleep with her partner was alarming to me. But among these women such indignities weren’t rare. To keep your own household intact, they said, you had to keep Ms. Bailey happy and well paid. As I heard more stories similar to Chantelle’s, I found myself growing angry at Ms. Bailey and the other LAC officials. I asked Chantelle and the other women why they didn’t challenge Ms. Bailey. Their answer made perfect sense: When it became obvious that the housing authority supported a management system based on extortion and corruption, the women decided their best option was to shrug their shoulders and accept their fate.


FEATURE

Can an individual be without any representative character?
P. M. Kamath
A common refrain that is heard in Congress circles, while referring to civil society, to undermine their importance, is to refer to them as “four or five self-proclaimed civil society representatives.” This suggests these members of group that is demanding action against corruption and seeking the establishment of Jan Lokpal absolutely have no public support at all. The only elected representative can claim to speak for the general public. My single purpose in this article is to show, how wrong this formulation of the Congress critics of current public demand for a Jan Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas at the state levels.
The Congress refrain reminds me a brief meeting I had with former Prime Minister, late Shri Morarji Desai at his residence in Marine drive. By then having taught subjects like foreign policy, strategy, national security, international politics, American foreign policy, at postgraduate level and also guided several students in these areas, I thought I knew something about nonalignment. Hence, I told our former Prime Minister that “people think that foreign policy of nonalignment has lost its relevance. I would like to discuss some issue relating to it with you.” He flared up in anger and annoyance. He asked me: “Who are you to refer to people’s opinion? Are you an elected representative?” I was simply taken aback at the kind of response I had generated in him!
Today, if he was alive I would have asked him who gave him the mandate even though he was then the Prime Minister (PM) to tell Barbara Walters of ABC in Washington, DC in 1978 that he would “never go in for nuclear weapons even if the entire country is destroyed in their absence.” His question to me then is similar references now made to civil society representatives by some of Congress leaders. Does it mean that just because one is elected by the people, they can make any statement even contrary to the perceived national interest? Does it mean only elected representative can raise issues of public interest?
Congressmen who question legitimacy of the certain policy positions advanced by members of civil society, because as Congress Party spokesman, Shri Manish Tiwari said they are “unelected and unelectable.” But he accused them of being capable of posing a “peril” to Indian democracy. In this sense within the Congress and to that matter in every other political party there are persons who exercise power over public opinion who are never elected or contested elections but lost. Should therefore they be ignored in the party debates or public discourse?
But those who are elected, are they truly representatives of all public on all issues of public interest? Often those who are elected might get elected with as low as ten percent of popular votes! This happens because whenever there are many candidates, in the first pass the post system, lower the percentage of votes required to get elected. In this sense, “four or five” persons of civil society have the backing of crores of thinking people in the country—though it is a support to the ideas advocated by them and not necessarily to them personally.
This does not mean that civil society has conducted itself admirably well. First wrong step they took is in keeping out Baba Ramdeo from drafting committee stating that law-drafting is not a yogic exercise! Instead of taking two from one family of Bhushans, if Baba was inside civil society group government would not have been able even to think of breaking the unity of the civil society. That could also have averted tragic incident of police breaking the peaceful protest at Ram Lila maidan.
There is also the question of frequent threat of going on the fast unto death by Anna Hazare. Such threats only have diminishing returns in public life. Anna Hazare also has shown a most non-democratic approach to public life by stating that his draft be accepted in toto. Democracy means compromise, concessions and developing consensus on acceptable positions. Hence, what is necessary for the civil society is to tour the length and breadth of the country, address the general public and motivate the citizens to write to their elected MPs asking them to support the ideal idea of the Jan Lokpal.
But on one issue, civil society is fully justified, in my opinion. That it is absolutely necessary for the Prime Minister to be within the ambit of Jan Lokpal. To say that it prevents him from acting decisively on national security issues is most ludicrous statement. This reminds me how President Richard Nixon, only US President ever forced to resign on the ground of corrupting the constitution used often the concept of national security to justify his unconstitutional actions. He used concept of national security or concepts of similar meaning 31 times in his March 23, 1973 speech explaining or justifying Watergate Scandal. Mrs. Indira Gandhi also had used the concept of national security to justify imposition of national emergency in June 1975. Hence, if the office of the Prime Minister is transparent, no one would, only for political reason, hurl unfounded allegations of corruption against him. Law can provide deterrent punishment for making frivolous corruption charges against the PM.
But Kapil Sibal has a point when he argues in favour of making Jan Lokpal and Lokayuktas in states accountable by placing them within the ambit of the judiciary. These offices of ombudsman have to be accountable. Judiciary is a constitutional branch of the democratic system of the government and plays a role by itself in securing checks and balances within the government. Whenever, executive and legislature have failed to perform the constitutional functions, it is the higher judiciary to which citizens have increasingly begun to approach. Other independent constitutional authorities like chief election commissioner have also taken help of the judiciary in maintaining its own independent status. Manish Tiwari, incidentally, cannot dismiss superior judicial appointees securing accountability of the Jan Lokpal on the ground they are “unelected and unelectable.”
Crucial issue in every democratic system is: power holders have to be accountable while exercising the powers given to them by the constitution or the law. The PM is no exception. The political philosophy is well stated long back by Federalist paper No 51 which says:…”the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department, the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachment of the others….Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”

(Author is formerly Professor of Politics, University of Mumbai and currently Hon. Director, VPM’s Centre for International Studies, Mumbai & Adjunct Professor at Department of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Manipal.)

Hungry mouths’ day
Prof. B. M. Hegde,
hegdebm@gmail.com

“To see what none has seen before, you must look where none has looked before.”
Anon.

Otherwise called the poverty eradication day it is the only day that the world needs to celebrate every year as poverty is the largest curse on mankind. Not knowing where your next meal comes from has been and will always be the greatest risk factor for all diseases ranging from common cold to cancer, even the killer diseases like heart attack and strokes. While there are just about 39 million people suffering from the so called AIDS (we have the AIDS day) there are 840 million people in this world who live far below the poverty line. 540 million people in this world are severely malnourished for want of food.
India alone has a load of 67 million children suffering from malnutrition that leads to NIDS (Nutritional Immune Deficiency: Syndrome) on an average, 6000 children die daily due to NIDS in India! The world wide figures are staggering. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon laid out this sobering statistic as he kicked off a three-day summit on world food security Monday in Rome. “Today, more than 1 billion people are hungry,” he told the assembled leaders. Six million children die of hunger every year - 17,000 every day, he said.
No one thinks of having a poverty eradication day or simply poverty day or hungry mouth’s day. The reason is not far to seek. While we have heart day, diabetes day, cancer day, mothers’ day, father’s day, and valentine day, we do not have a poverty day. To have a day there must be a sponsor. Who will sponsor poverty day as that does not bring any business? Valentine, fathers’ and mothers’ days bring in billions of dollars business for the greeting card industry while AIDS day is a good business for the retroviral drug industry and so the story goes about diabetes day, heart day etc.
Right from the day of the Yangtze Valley peasants of yore to the present the greatest risk factor for all ills of mankind has been not knowing where one’s next meal comes from. Poverty is the womb of all illnesses. In addition, poverty is a double edged weapon in that the poor victim of illnesses loses his daily bread winning capacity as well making him/her poorer at the end of the day. Poverty and malnourishment lead to weakened immune system that is more deadly than the evanescent HIV virus. While we have so many “do-gooders” who build hospitals for eye, heart, lung, liver diseases, no one ever thinks of preventing all those diseases. Instead of operating on a mature cataract in the fourth decade for a poor man free, one could avoid premature cataract if the poor man is given good food with plenty of zinc and other minerals to postpone cataract to the 8th decade. Similarly, if we could eradicate poverty the largest load of heart surgery is from the simple post-inflammatory valve disease (rheumatic fever like) which is a hundred per cent disease of the poor, will perish.
Poverty and, consequent malnutrition, during the early months of pregnancy (first trimester) is the main cause of poorly formed brain, heart, blood vessels, pancreas and many other organs in those lucky children that survive the intrauterine life leading to poor learning (memory capacity) capacity, premature heart attacks, diabetes, hypertension and all other ills which need costly treatments. That is a good business for doctors and drug companies. Not a single infracaninophile (under dog lover) thinks of eradicating all these dangers very inexpensively by eradicating poverty, the root cause of all ills. Our present day efforts of disease mongering to control diseases, in this back drop, is so hypocritical that the world seems to live for the haves while the have-nots are used to get better the business interests of the former. The real Euclid’s Reductio ad Absurdum!
I was asked to inaugurate a recent AIDS day where I motivated an NGO which, had been the front to celebrate the AIDS day, to take up, instead, (or in addition) the World Hunger Day, at least once a year and explained to them, in great detail, the true need for such an effort. They, mostly young men and women, have taken the pledge to do so. I hope they will keep up their promise. We want this to be a great movement all over the world. Many of my friends after that meeting warned me that this will never succeed as they rightly pointed out that the rich live on the poor all over the world, in the first second and the third world. I was reminded of what happened to Wilberforce in the nineteenth century when started the Anti-Slavery march in the city of Edinburgh. People thought he was mad and advised him to desist from continuing his efforts as, at that time, the world economy depended only on slavery. He pushed on and within the next fifty years he was able to get the House of Commons to pass the famous Anti- Slavery bill! With God’s grace, I hope, we will be able to attract the world attention on this vital issue. The time is ripe now when the world is getting torn because of man’s greed while the bare minimum man’s need for life sustaining food is all but forgotten.

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”
Søren Kierkegaard, 1813 to 1855

PAK'S WEIRD WAYS

Tax Evasion Pak style
Lahore: Pakistan’s cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan has claimed that President Asif Ali Zardari, Chief Ministers of three provinces and 61 percent of MP’s have never paid any taxes, reflecting the widespread corruption in the country.
Khan alleged that Zardari and former Premier Nawaz Sharif were hand in glove. While Sharif had paid only Rs 5,000 as tax. Zardari paid no tax, he claimed.
About 61 percent of Pakistan’s parliamentarians and Chief Ministers of three provinces have also never paid any taxes, he claimed.
Khan appealed to the Supreme Court to open a case filed by former Air Force Chief Asghar Khan so that the nation could know how much money politicians had received from an intelligence agency, which he did not identify.
He also asked Sharif to return 3.5 million that he had allegedly received from an intelligence agency.
“Sharif had convinced me to boycott the 2008 election but then he could not keep his own word and went for the polls,” he said.
“Sharif has wrongly been taking credit for the restoration of deposed Supreme Court judges, as he terminated his march (aimed at reinstating them) at Gujranwala after getting an assurance that the PML-N would be given the government in Punjab,” Khan said.

LeJ chief got stipend from Pak govt while in jail
Islamabad: Malik Ishaq, the chief of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who is accused of plotting the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, received a monthly stipend from the PML-N government in Pakistan’s Punjab province while he was in prison, a media report said.
While in jail, Ishaq, who was freed on bail recently, enjoyed Punjab government’s financial assistance ever since the PML-N came to power in 2008, 'The Express Tribune’ newspaper quoted unnamed officials as saying.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanuallah, who has himself been under a cloud for his alleged links with the Sipah-e-Sahaba terror group, confirmed the disbursement of the stipend to Ishaq. However, he contended the amount was given to Ishaq’s family, and not to him, according to orders of the court.
The daily reported that its own investigation had revealed that there was no court order pertaining to the matter and that no such stipend was paid to Ishaq during the tenure of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Pak Sikhs barred from celebrating festival
Islamabad: The Sikh community in the eastern city of Lahore has been barred form organising a religious celebration at a disputed gurdwara after a religious celebration at a disputed gurdwara after a religious group persuaded authorities that celebrating the Muslim holy day of ‘Shab-e-Barat’ is more important than the Sikh festival.
The musical equipment of the Sikhs was thrown out and their entry to the gurdwara barred due to the efforts of the Dawat-e-Islami, a Barelvi proselytizing group. The Express Tribune newspaper reported. Police were deployed outside the gurdwara to prevent Sikhs from conducting a religious ceremony until after the end of Shab-e-Barat.
The Sikh community wanted to commemorate an eighteenth-century saint at the gurdwara. Gurdwara Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh at Naulakha Bazaar in Lahore was built to honour the memory of a Sikh saint who was executed in 1745 on the orders of the Mughal governor of Punjab, Zakaria Khan. Every July, Sikhs have held religious ceremonies to commemorate his sacrifice. Though the gurdwara was taken over by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) after partition. Sikhs were allowed to continue using it with relatively few restrictions. Four years ago, the Dawat-e-Islami claimed the Gurdwara was located on the site of the grave of a 15the century Muslim saint, Pir Shah Kaku.
The group claimed Kaku was the grandson of Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar, an “implausible claim” since Ganjshankar died in 1280 while it claims that Kaku died almost 200 years later, in 1477, the daily reported.
The Sikh community had approached ETPB, which allowed both communities to observe their religious rituals according to their own beliefs at the gurdwara. The Dawat-e-Islami used it every Thursday for prayer services while Sikhs used it once a year for the anniversary of Taru Singh’s martyrdom. This year, when Sikh men went in to set up their musical instruments, they were thrown out by men from Dawat-e-Isalmi and prevented from re-entering the shrine. Members of the Sikh community, many of whom fear to be identified, said the leader of the group of men, Sohail Butt, claimed that the gurdwara was now a mosque and Sikhs would not be allowed to bring in their musical instruments any longer. But admitted he had prevented Sikhs from performing their ritual, claiming that the gurdwara was inside the courtyard of the mosque.

HEALTH

Super tomatoes that can combat cancer
London: British researchers claim to have developed new “super tomatoes” fortified with minerals which can improve your immune system and help prevent cancer.
The new varieties, which have hit shelves across the UK, have been enriched with selenium, a powerful anti-oxidant which the researchers believe could not only boost the immune system but also help prevent cancer. The mineral, found naturally in foods, such as Brazil nuts, shellfish and liver, is also important for the thyroid gland, which determines how quickly the body uses energy and also produces proteins, the Daily Mail reported.
Food scientists for Marks & Spencer, the company which has developed the new variety, turned their attention to the mineral because it is lacking in UK diets. Low concentrations in farm soil mean little of the mineral finds its way into home-grown foods. There is evidence that a deficiency may lead to heart disease and, while it does not tend to directly cause illnesses, it can make the body more likely to catch infections. Dr Carina Norris, of the Nutrition Society, said the tomatoes were a great way to get the nutrient into our diets. “Selenium plays an important role in supporting the immune system.

Red wine and chocolate sharpen your mind
London: Red wine and chocolate make for a deadly combination to keep your mind sharp and alert, a study suggests, reports IANS.
Polyphenols, plant chemicals abundant in dark chocolate and wines, dilate blood vessels, speeding the supply of blood to the brain.
This provides it with a rush of oxygen and sugars, making complex calculations easier and quicker. Besides polyphenols are more effective in combination than alone, the Daily Mail reports.
The theory follows two Northumbria University studies into the effects of polyphenols on the mind. In the first, healthy adults were set a series of tests after taking a capsule packed with resveratrol, the ‘wonderful ingredient’ in red wine.
Scans showed a marked increase in blood flow to their brains after taking the supplement.
Greater improvements may be seen in the elderly, said doctoral researcher Emma Wightman from Northumbria, because blood flow to the brain naturally decreases with age.
Unfortunately for wine lovers, the quantities of resveratrol used in the study would equate to drinking crates of the stuff. But it is easy to get the same amounts from supplements sold in health food stores. And with resveratrol credited with abilities from extending life to burning off junk food, Wightman says there is nothing to stop people from stocking up. “There is research showing quite a lot of health benefits and there is nothing to suggest there are any adverse effects. You are not going to come to any harm,” she said

INCREDIBLE INDIA

TMT: buses bought-but no drivers !
Thane: As many as 126 buses of Thane Municipal Transport (TMT) are parked idle in depots due to the shortage of staff to run them, causing a great deal of misery and inconvenience to the residents who accuse the transport undertaking of deficiency in service. Due to the lethargic attitude of authorities, TMT is suffering a daily loss of around Rs 4 lakh. TMT has a total fleet of 444 buses. The authorities had earlier claimed that the commuters’ problems would be eased once buses under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission were received but that didn’t help.
This is another of our national malaise, lack of planning. Waste, budget overshoot are mostly due to such approach of the bureaucracy. Here employing drivers can become an urgent affair. one more opportunity for making illegitimate money in recruitment. - Editor


In CTET over 6 lakh teachers failed
Nagpur: An overwhelming majority of future teachers failed to crack the qualifying exam held by the CBSE. The first-ever Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) was held to be a benchmark for new teacher appointments for CBSE schools. The results, however are dismal with 86% candidates failing the test across the country. About 7.1 lakh candidates appeared for the exam but only 97,901 managed to pass.

Since case pending-aircraft left on the runway
Nagpur: An abandoned plane in the middle of a runway of Nagpur’s Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar International Airport has become a major threat to the flights taking off and landing here. Shockingly, the airport authorities expressed their inability to move the plane of Continental Airlines to a safer location. The plane has been abandoned at the airport due to a case pending in the high court. It poses a grave threat to hundreds of flights arriving and taking off here daily. Senior airport director Vinod Kumar Yadav said, “There should not be any object in the radius of 75 meter of the runway strip."
What is stopping the Airport Authority to approach court and get it cleared? Why it should wait for an accident to happen? Isn't this in line with our curative approach rather than preventive approach of governance? - Editor

Thursday, September 8, 2011

YEH MERA INDIA

Political parties & I.T. returns,not made for each other
New Delhi: A country-wide probe conducted by the Income Tax department has found that close to 300 registered political parties have never filed their tax returns and the Election Commission has now asked the department to issue notices to them.
The probe, conducted after the EC asked the Central Board of Direct-Taxes (CBDT) to ascertain the financial status of these small parties for alleged violation of tax laws and money laundering, has been submitted to the election panel.
A number of parties also do not possess Permanent Account Number (PAN), said the bulky report, prepared by the assessment wing of the CBDT. The EC had sent a list of suspect political parties to CBDT for probe early this year. It was alleged that people are floating such political parties in large numbers to evade taxes as donations to them are exempt from payment of Income Tax.
The EC has asked the department to intensify the probe and serve show-cause notices to these small parties under relevant sections of I-T Act and ascertain the source and end use of the funds they received.
The report has tracked the I-T returns of these small parties in 13 states including Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and those from the North East."The status of such small parties in the remaining states will also be sent to the EC soon,” a senior officer involved in the exercise said.
While national and other major political parties file their I-T returns regularly small and lesser-known parties are under the scanner, the officer said. The I-T department, in its recent report, also probed the donors to these parties who provided more than Rs 20,000
The number of political parties registered with the Commission is almost touching the 1,200 mark. A recent law that exempted donations to political parties from income tax, for both the payers and the payee, has caused a spurt in the formation of new political parties,” Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi had said earlier this year. Quraishi had made a strong pitch for providing tax benefits on donations to only those political parties which prove their strength at the hustings as exemptions on such funds have led to mushrooming of new parties.

Cost of sleaze
New Delhi: The menace of corruption in the country is pegged at Rs 1555 thousand crore in the last decade and majority of it has been laundered out of India using illicit gateways, a recent study has claimed.
According to a first of its kind report on ‘Ascertaining size of corruption in India with respect to money laundering’, an individual spent over Rs 2,000 as a cost of corruption in 2009, which is 260 percent higher than the amount borne by a citizen ten years back, reports PTI.
“In the past decade, money laundered out of India was at least Rs 1886 thousand crores or USD 419 billion. This quantification of the laundering is worked out on the most pessimistic manner and by considering the global parameters,” it said. “If the Gross Domestic Product-based money laundering model is translated to quantify the corruption, then the size of corruption in the last decade is Rs. 1,555 thousand crore or USD 345 billion in India,” the report said. The study was conducted by a Pune-based company Indiaforensic, which has pioneered in fraud examination, security, risk management and forensic accounting research and has been for long helping the country’s investigating agencies like CBI in several high profile cases. It is based on the analysis of scarce data available for measuring money laundering described through three models-property recovery, crime based and GDP based.
“The three models gave details of quantum of money laundering. They are based on the statistics by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB),” said Mayur Joshi, an anti-fraud and money laundering expert and founder member of the firm which had assisted CBI in the multi-crore Satyam scam.

Where there is will there’s a way
Gandhinagar: The initiative of a rural youth of Gujarat in using the Right to Information Act (RTI) has ensured that Gujarat becomes the first state in the country where disclosure of all stocks is compulsory in all fair price shops in the state.
The 18-year-old second year B com student Bhadresh Wamja created history of sorts when he led a virtual crusade against irregularities being indulged in by Fair Price Shops in his area and was delighted when his tenacity bore results. “It has given me a great sense of satisfaction”, he said.
The teenager, who heads a movement called Youth Against Corruption in his area, came to know through newspapers that APL cardholders were entitled to get rations from fair price shops under the Public Distribution (PDS). However, when he went to the fair price shop in his village with his APL card, he was flatly turned down saying no such provision exists and he has to buy his grain and other requirements at prevailing market prices.
Perplexed, he approached the ‘mahiti adhikar’ helpline and was informed that his information was correct and that the Department of Food and Civil Supplies of the Gujarat government indeed sends foodgrain supplies for FPS through PDS for BPL, APL and Antyodaya card-holders regularly.
Buoyed with the information, Bhadresh filed an RTI application on February 11, 2011 seeking details of the stock dispatched and received by the shop. “This caused immense heartburn amongst the local village cartel, involving, among others the PDS shopkeeper and the gramsevak, which constituted the unholy siphoning off the PDS supplies meant for the people. Soon threats to me and my family followed”, said Bhadresh.
Not one to renege, he contacted the whistle-blower helpline of the Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel which helps and guides all such RTI activists. The helpline immediately wrote to the Food and Civil Supplies Department of the state government, RTI chief and the relevant police station. The cops moved and the fair price shopkeeper Paresh Jaiswal was arrested. But as is wont to happen, he was soon out on bail and the vicious circle began all over again. There were attempts at compromise but Bhadresh would not relent.
He again filed an RTI to the Civil Supplies Department on March 1, 2011. This time the wheels of Justice moved fast in the higher echelons of the government and on April 30, 2011, the state government passed on order under Section 4(1) (B), making it compulsory for all fair price shops in the state to disclose all the details about rations received and kept in the shop.
Pankti Jog of the Pahal which channelised the energy and the determination of the youth to seek justice for himself and for others in his village said that Bhadresh’s initiative will act like a beacon for many others to come forward and fight for what is their rightful due.”
He has struck a blow for most others of his ilk proving where there is a will there is a way.

KEEP SMILING

Why do we laugh?
We laugh when we perceive something funny. But most laughter is not a response to jokes or humour, says Robert R. Provine, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Mary land Baltimore County and author of the book Laughter: A Scientific Investigation. In a survey Provine found that only 10 to 20 per cent of laugh were generated by anything similar to a joke.
Laughter is instinctual. It isn’t under our conscious control. We don’t choose to laugh in the same way as we choose to speak. Infants laugh almost from birth and people who are born blind and deaf still laugh; hence it’s not a learned behaviour. Humans are hardwired for laugher, say experts in psychology. Studies on human behaviour suggest that laughter predates speech by perhaps millions of years. Before our human ancestors could talk with each other, laughter was a simpler method of communication.

MONTH THAT WAS

When English thought 'Indian better'
London: A project on ‘Spiritual Healing’, an ancient form of medication, under the aegis of an Indian consultant has bagged 205,000 pounds grant for research and the treatment will soon be offered to British patients, reports PTI.
National Lottery awarded the grant for the two-year study to healing charity, Fresh Winds, which is working with Birmingham University and the National Health Service Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield. Sukhdev Singh, an Indian consultant in gastroenterology who is co-ordinating the research, said he had been encouraged by the results so far, Daily Mail reported. He added: ‘For many of the individuals we see, conventional treatments do not provide the complete answer. By being able to offer healing therapy, we are able to offer complementary methods of treatments which have been showing good results.’
However, critics of this healing form are calling it waste of money pumped into a “voodoo” technique of medication. Simon Singh, the author of Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial, said, “The 200,000 pounds should have been spent on much better causes.
“There is no worthwhile evidence at all that spiritual healing works in any way, shape or form other than the placebo effect - when the patient feels better just because they are getting some attention.”

HC questions Kalmadi,
‘Is the government in crisis for you to be in Parliament?
New Delhi: CWG case accused Suresh Kalmadi was grilled by Delhi High Court over his plea that he be allowed to attend the Monsoon session of Parliament and was asked to produce his attendance record in Lok Sabha for the last five years.
In a rebuke to Kalmadi, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw also asked the jailed Congress MP what was the need for him to attend Parliament unless there is voting on a bill or a motion that could lead to the fall of the government. The Monsoon session commences on August one.
There is nothing important like voting is happening in Parliament or government is going to fall for which your presence is required in the Lok Sabha,” the judge said on the plea by the sacked CWG Organising Committee Chief.

Priest Best at his bestial worst
Sydney: victims of sexual abuse by an Australian priest told a court that he robbed them of their innocence and destroyed their childhood.
He even told one victim: “If you tell anyone what happened, I’ll kill you.”
Robert Charles Best, 70, appeared for a pre-sentence plea hearing for 21offences against eight victims committed between 1969 and 1988 at catholic schools in Ballarat, Geelong and Box Hill, the Herald Sun reported.
The victims told him how sick his serial sex attacks were.
“I stay up at night with the bastard on my mind and his hands on my body,” a victim known only as A.B. told the court.
A.B. said he was a “plaything” for the priest, and said the church’s dogged defence of Best “rubbed salt” into his wounds.
“Being schooled at the Geelong school was disturbing. Make the church reel with a heavy sentence on this sadistic predator,” he told the court.
“He’s a bully and a pervert. His Christianity doesn’t mean a thing. A serious sentence is a much-needed slap in the face of this ignorant and arrogant institution.”
Another victim B.C. said Best called him “dirty” after raping him, which left him with a lifelong complex about cleanliness.
He said the abuse caused him to be aggressive as he grew up, intolerant of authority and with a hatred of the church.
Prosecutor Amanda Forester outlined to the court a horrific series of abuses while Best was a teacher and a school principal.
She said he touched the victims, rubbed their genitals, raped them and terrorised them.
Other priests knew of the abuse and were present when it occurred. On other occasions he forced other boys to take part in the abuse, she said.
Best was charged with sodomy and indecent assault against a male under 16. He pleaded guilty in May to charges involving three boys.

St. Don Bosco relic on pilgrimage
Mumbai: The relic of Don Bosco, which arrived in India in May, arrived in Mumbai on August 11, 2011. The Worldwide Relic Pilgrimage of this Salesian founder came to Resurrection Church, Vihar (E) on Aug. 11. From there it will move to St. James Church, Agashi, Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace, Vasai.
It arrived at Don Bosco, Borivli on Aug. 12 and from there to Our Lady of Dolours Church, Wadala, a day later. From Aug. 13-16 the relic, placed in a casket made of aluminum, bronze and glass, will be kept at the Shrine of Don Bosco, Matunga for devotees throng in thousands, to pay their homage.
Don Bosco was champion of youth, especially the ones on the street.
He took utmost care to polish these rough diamonds, some of who went on to achieve greatness, emulating the one who loved, educated and gave them a reason to live.
Thrown among the wolves, so to speak, in the early 19th century, St. John Bosco, faced umpteen odds in his quest to care for those neglected by society.
He relied solely on the help from our Blessed Mother who appeared in a dream to him when he was just 8 years old.
The Salesians all over India have been preparing for this once in a lifetime event since the past one year. Salesian institutes have been in existence all over India for over a hundred years, and Don Bosco is certainly a much-loved saint in India.

Child born with teeth
Mumbai: Imisha, a 6-year old baby girl is the second child in two weeks, to have been born with two teeth grown already on her lower jaw. This little angel’s teeth, who was born to Bhavya and Sunny Shrimankar on a rainy afternoon of July 23, were noticed by doctors at Vatsalya Hospital in Ghatkopar, when the baby was taken in for her first check up post delivery.
“I was informed by the doctor that my baby has two fetal teeth so we were asked to see a paedodentist to get her teeth removed. I was told that the teeth might be naturally weak and there could be a possibility of the baby swallowing-in the teeth which could lead to choking of the wind or the food pipe,” said Bhavya, Imisha’s mother.
Consulting paedodentist in this case, Dr. Anand revealed that such cases are very rare. “Almost 1 in 3000 occurrences sees a baby born with fetal teeth. Normally root of the tooth is firmed downwards in gum which further leads to growth, however in such cases the root is not firmed and starts growing upward prematurely, hence the teeth are weak and need to be removed,” elaborated Dr. Anand.
He further said, “Milk teeth which usually appear at 1-2 years of age are different from fetal teeth which appear at birth. A baby with fetal teeth will later go on to have normal milk teeth.

ABRACADABRA

Dog bites shark
London: An incredible video on ‘You Tube’ shows the moment a dog rounds on a group of sharks, and even dives under the water and gives one a nip. The film, shot by an unknown Australian, who gives a hilarious running commentary, shows the two dogs as they take a paddle in clear blue waters. But lurking ominously beneath the waters, the spooky silhouettes of several sharks can be seen blocking the mutts’ path to the safety of the shore. Undeterred, one of the dogs rounds on the sharp-toothed marine monsters, dives under the water and with a fierce nip, scares the whole school away, the ‘Daily Mail’ newspaper reported.

Boy kills ex-girlfriend for free meal
London: A schoolboy in Britain is facing life sentence for murdering his former girlfriend – after a friend promised him free breakfast if he did away with her. Joshua Davies, 16, and Rebecca Aylward, 15, split up but she still visited him, hoping they would reconcile. The boy, however, plotted to give her deadly foxgloves (flowers), drown her in a river or throw her off a cliff. Rebecca bought new clothes for a ‘date’, unaware that Davies was telling his friends how easy it would be to kill her, the Daily Mail reported. One of his friends promised to buy him breakfast if he murdered Rebecca.
Even in the U.K., could human life, as young as 15, be as cheap as a breakfast! - Editor

Truck spills 14 million bees, honey on US highway
Washington: Clean-up crews spent hours trying to deal with over 14 million bees and their honey after a delivery truck overturned on a highway in Idaho. Freemont County sheriff deputies said several workers were stung during the first few hours of the clean up.
Some observers saw a strange black cloud and heard a roaring noise above the spill area before realizing it was a massive swarm of bees and called for emergency services, the Daily Mail reported.
Authorities said truck was hauling the bees from California to North Dakota when the driver veered off the shoulder, tipping over 400 hive boxes and honey. Fire crews sprayed the bees with water at first to try and cool them down.
A bee expert then suggested using fire foam to try and kill them so the workers could get near the truck to clean up the mess and recover the vehicle and surviving hives.
The rescue workers were also worried about bears coming for the honey, the paper said.
The bees were estimated to be worth over 250,000 pounds, the paper added.

700,000 Britons now keep hens for eggs
London: Around 700,000 people in Britain now keep hens in a bid to reduce their shopping bills by having eggs produced at home, new figures reveal. The figures released by the British Hen Welfare Trust have helped push the value of the chicken industry to one billion pounds a year, The Sun reported. “We’re seeing a return to 50 years ago, when it was usual to keep half a dozen chickens in the back yard. Over the past few years more Brits have started growing their own fruit and vegetables – and the next step seems to be having their own eggs," Brian Mott, of birdseed suppliers Nature's Grub, was quoted as saying. Sale of poultry hens has nearly doubled since 2008.
A store owner said keeping hens has become a hobby for many people.

Chinese teen sells kidney to buy iPad2
Beijing: A teenager in China’s Anhui province sold his right kidney to buy a new iPad 2, satellite TV channel Dongfang reported. Seventeen-year-old Xiao Zheng had been dreaming of a new iPad 2 for a while, but the price was way beyond his means. Zheng found an agent ready to buy his kidney on the internet and travelled to Hunan Province in central China to undergo surgery in a local hospital. With the 22,000 yen ($3,900) he was paid, Zheng bought a new iPad 2 and iPhone and then returned home.

Your pillow is the breeding ground for diseases
London: You may never want to use them after reading this. Your pillow is the perfect breeding ground for gruesome array of pests and diseases, scientists say.
According to a study by the Barts and the London NHS Trust, up to a third of the weight of your pillow could be made up of bugs, dead skin, dust mites and their faeces. And the condition of pillows in hospitals is even worse as they are the ideal breeding grounds for undesirables ranging from the superbugs MRSA and C.diff to flu, chicken pox and even leprosy, the scientists said.
But the problem of bugs in pillows is not confined to hospitals, said study author Dr Arthur Tucker, a clinical scientist at St Barts and the London Hospitals. While some of the bugs will only be found lurking in hospitals or in tropical climes, others will be making themselves at home in the comfort of your bed, he said. “People put a clean pillow case on and it looks and smell nice and fresh but you are wrapping up something really nasty underneath,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail. Bacteria feast on these and multiply on and inside the pillows, some of which will never be washed, he added.
The warnings came after the researchers studied the “health” of hundreds of pillows used by patients in hospitals run by Barts and the London NHS Trust. They found high levels of “living” contamination on the outside of the pillows. In some cases, rips and tears meant that the germs had found their way into the filling.