Wednesday, October 12, 2011

MONTH THAT WAS

Friends
Come October, it’s a reminder, that we have completed another eventful year. Yes we have just turned 11 years young in the print media. A big THANK YOU to all our readers, patrons, friends & well wishers. Having started in Nov. 2000, it has been an extremely bumpy ride with its own highs and lows. During all these 11 summers, winters and monsoons and an occasional tsunami thrown in, we had our share of disappointments and feelings of exhilaration. It was in Nov. 2009, that Doordarshan Kendra in Bangalore, CHANDANA, called us for a live interview in their programme BELAGU (meaning the DAWN) after some readers of I & C with the in-depth knowledge of our activities informed the TV channel. Kind souls, who witnessed the interlocution with an extremely competent anchor Dr Chaitra, a practicing dental surgeon, came back with their response “Super”. It made us feel deeply satisfied and goaded us to raise the bar of our own standard of commitment. Of course there were those, who were tight fisted, as is their wont, in their being more open to praise. And such individuals, unfortunately, outnumber those with larger heart, where a kind approbative word also amount to giving. But then this is how the larger world of fact is, take it or leave it. Then we had an invitation early last month to participate in a national seminar on ‘Corruption’ and ‘Vyavastha Parivarthan’ in New Delhi, where we had the honour of meeting intellectuals like Subramaniam Swami, S. Gurumurthy, Arif Mohd Khan, who had famously quit the cabinet of Rajeev Gandhi as a fallout of Shah Bano case. It was indeed an honour, since the invite was directly addressed to the Editor, Issues & Concerns. That was truly a stamp of approval that there are souls who recognise that we have indeed made a difference and hence are to be counted. Such occasions do make us feel better in the otherwise gloomy situation, where paid readership is still way below our brake-even point. Participative readership, which we tried to cultivate by giving complimentary copies to a large number of ‘activist’ readers, did not yield the result that we expected. Of course our expectation, as always, has been tempered by the vision of wanting to ‘make the difference’, whatever little that is possible. It is our undiluted perception that every one of us can leave his or her ‘footprints’ on the shifting sands of time. Thus whether there is increased paid readership or not we shall keep going forward. Of course, growth of paid readership is slow but certainly positive and as Prof B M Hegde, one of our friend, philosopher and guide, had observed last year, and we quote “To-day he commands the attention of quality readership, though the numbers sold do not impress one at the first glance. There has been a steady rise in his readership. If linear laws hold good, we should see this become a journalistic force to reckon with, in this part of the world. He tackles untruth and falsehood head on without fear or favour and has been alive and healthy so far! May his tribe grow” unquote. Such observation and there are many, keeps us alive and kicking, never mind the numbers. Yes, as we complete 11 years, we remember with gratitude Dr M.V. Kamath, the nonagenarian, who stood by us for all these years. His rock like support made our journey less painfull. We at Issues and Concerns wish him good health and longivity as he turned 90.
Month began with the news from Srinagar “Omar plays to the gallery on Afzal”. Politicians playing politics with issues around them to score brownie points is not new. But Omar Abdullah, the grandson of ‘Lion of Kashmir’ Sheikh Abdullah was clearly fishing in the troubled waters as a survival trick. As a sequel to the resolution by the Tamil Nadu assembly requesting the President of India to review the death sentence and instead convert the punishment for Rajeev Gandhi assassins to life imprisonment, the J&K Chief Minister was reacting, on the hanging of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri, convicted for his role in Parliament attack, in Dec 2001, in which many security guards died. In fact, even the resolution of the Tamil Nadu assembly too is a political interference in a law and order issue which caused deaths and mayhem. It was not just Rajeev Gandhi who died, but there were others as well. Of course, political parties can take rallies etc in support but to pass a resolution in the assembly or the Chief Minster of a state making a public statement of an issue of far reaching socio/political ramification is absolutely incorrect and media must take home the truth to people at large. Of course, purely as a consequence of the process of law, it is an open and shut case and law must take it course without recourse. At this point it is very pertinent to inform everybody who matters that there was also a car parked outside the parliament with bombs in it, and Afzal Guru had wondered, according to the jail suptt. “how it failed to explode”, and what could have been the result of such an explosion! It is indeed very difficult to imagine. And comes Wikileaks leaking, the mood of the moderate Huriyat Conference who don’t mind if Afzal Guru is hung, if found guilty, but questioned if he was really guilty, informs Assange.
The news that, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari is out of Lokpal panel need not be a news. In fact people like this Tiwari are a disgrace to any political outfit. Not only he thinks he is too intelligent, he is also arrogant with his bombastic linguistic skills. Like Palaniappan Chidambaram, the other ‘highly intelligent Yale University lawyer’, who had reportedly remarked to the PAC chairman Dr Joshi that ‘certain issues are beyond your level of intelligence’, this Tiwari too suffers from a serious superiority complex. In a democratic polity like that of India, they are misfits like a round peg in a square hole.
A New York date lined report had a divergent information. At one place ‘hijab clad women were barred from some rides at an amusement park’, and in the same report, in a box, informed about ‘Sikhs being allowed to wear turban and to grow beard’ and made into a law, by the New York city corporation. While signing it as a law, the city Mayor Michael Bloomberg had reportedly stated that employers must make a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s religious practices, unless following it causes ‘undue hardship’. While, the hijab could be at times security risk, there may not be such risks in the wearing of turban or growing beard. But in any case all three practices are not being adhered to by a vast section of both Sikhs and Muslims for its irrelevance. It is more important to get along life as good human beings rather than as practitioners of diktats of religious fundamentalism.
For one book sensation Arundati Roy ‘grapes are always sour’. She had reportedly stated that “Jan Lokpal Bill ‘is a regressive piece of legislation’ and Anna Hazare has been ‘used as a prop by foreign funded NGOs”. After having won the Booker’s prize for her book ‘God of Small Things’ Arundhati thought that she can emerge as a ‘big time activist’ with the help of her media friends. She tried to fish in the troubled waters of Narmada, she tried her hand with Kashmiri separatists as if she is the only champion of human rights. In both she failed to corner the glory, since her involvement was not because she was concerned, but because she was only trying to promote herself. In Narmada Bachao Andolan, she tried to upstage Medha Patkar, a truly concerned individual, hence couldn’t bask in the sun-shine she tried to usurp from Ms. Patkar. And her utterances in Kashmir was highly controversial due to which after a while even media dumped her. Again media tried to help her rehabilitate in presenting her views on Anna movement – ‘I would rather not be Anna’, but there were few buyers. For an activist, the honesty of purpose and sincerity are the only bench marks, and Arundhati Roy is neither honest nor sincere. It is time even media should ignore her. But will the sensation hungry media oblige?
So, it was politics over sports. Everybody, especially politicians, like their fiefdom, however small, to continue. The Sports Development Bill aimed at regulating Sports Federations and giving central government a hold over the BCCI had to, per se, fail. In India everything is politicised. Everybody is promoting himself and his friends and cronies. Nobody has the interest of the sports, sportsmen or the country. Despite Prime Minister and Home Minister supporting the bill, it couldn’t muster enough support. It was pure and simple, a blatant case of conflict of interest of these individual ministers that saw the day through ‘Yeh Dil Maange more’ and still more. The 70 years age limit, RTI ambit to sports bodies and even a suggestion of submitting a long term plan for the body were dismissed as interference. Sports minister Maken may have had good intention of doing some good to the Indian sports and sportsmen, and hoped that his Prime Minister would strongly put forth his views in support of the bill. In the event, although the PM wanted the accountability of these bodies, he succumbed, as usual, to the negative pressure of his colleagues in the cabinet. Sharad Pawar, was most vociferous as usual, against the BCCI coming under RTI ambit. Yes, national interest can wait for another day and PM didn’t see anything wrong in pandering to the whims and fancies of his cabinet colleagues. Cabinet agreed that the bill has to be recast without its ‘intrusive elements’. Probably, without consulting anybody PM should call a meeting of like minded ministers and have a brain storming session with prominent sports personalities who have interest of the youth of the country. Especially after the Anna Hazare episode, certain amount of accountability and transparency shall only do good to the government’s bruised standing.
If you thought Hansraj Bhardwaj is an aberration to the office of Governor, think again. There is one more in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. If Karnataka has a BJP government, Gujarat too has BJP government. If you thought the central government of Manmohan Singh was fully occupied with the crisis management of Anna movement, you are wrong. It did find time to advice Madame Kamla Beniwal, the governor of Gujarat to appoint a hand picked retired former justice R.A Mehta as the Lokayukta of the state without the consent of the state. That it did raise the hackles both in the media as well as that of BJP central leadership is not the point. But, it was a move that smacked of political brinkmanship and constituted an unconstitutional attack on the federal structure of the country, just to create trouble for an opposition ruled state-by using the office of governor, unilaterally. It surely will not win friends for the central government.
All kinds of things happening in India, from bizarre to ridiculous, has allowed the media free run. While it is true that they are undoubtedly doing some service to the people in general to an extent, they do have an unwritten agenda of promoting themselves. Every time, they report about something which a channel or paper thinks as very important or rather sensational, it claims, “the first channel to report”, “Only on this channel”, “our exposure” etc. The latest is the one from THE WEEK. The Sept. 11, 2011, issue of this weekly had this on the cover “EXCLUSIVE – TAMING AL QAEDA” “First Indian magazine to get inside the rehab camp for terrorists in Saudi Arabia.” It would have been quite dignified if it had written “The WEEK gets inside the rehab camp…” Now by crowing, it had reduced itself as all else. It is very evident that they all have an agenda to impress the advertising agencies or advertising managers of the corporates, who have big budget for these ads. So its only for making money, and making more money is the priority, and serving the public or the nation comes second or lower in the order. Also, they do tend to have an agenda of propping political ideologies. Other day some electronic media spent hours to-gether, about the PM candidate from BJP, as if that was the most important news. The election is more than 2 years away in 2014 and we are already hyping a distant mirage. Then there was this boldly printed news “Advani did not talk about Electoral reform when he was in power” in print. In the same news, the freedom fighter speaker also dismissed Anna Hazare for his association with NGO, instead of people. But who will organise meeting for people like Anna, these speakers did not bother to think or speak on. But the news paper highlighted only the negatives on Advani, although he was only in power for 7 years of the 64 years of free India, probably it suited the agenda of the newspaper. So quite frankly they are only serving themselves most of the time. And people, society, nation or values come down in the vertical space.
“Circumstantial evidence enough for conviction” observed Apex Court while dismissing the appeal of one Birender Poddar facing a life term for torturing his wife to death. Birender Poddar took the plea that his conviction was erroneous as his wife died due to jaundice, and that, ‘there was no direct evidence of his crime’.
Contradicting the stand of the accused, appreciating that, it is very difficult to find direct evidence within the matrimonial home where death took place, court reiterated that the case has to rest only on circumstantial evidence. However, it stressed as a matter of abundant caution that “Chain of circumstantial evidence must be complete and conclusive to unmistakably point to the guilt”.
This stand of the Supreme Court is in complete contrast to the enactment that union government recently cleared where it excluded specifically the human rights of female domestic helpers, where the logic was, it is difficult to prove the case of the violation inside the homes of the likely accused masters. Court intervention suo-moto is a welcome development and the proposed enactment can hold out hope for one of the most exploited and vulnerable section of the unorganised female work force.
That a film star with a sizeable name and fame would beat his wife black and blue need not raise the eyebrows. But certainly it would raise hackle. That men, whatever their background can, at times, some time even more often, be cruel to their wives or live-in-partners is no news at all. It becomes a news if media decides it. High profile the man, higher profiled becomes the news. There may be any number of households, across the country, may be even across the world, where violence against women take place, and where those affected, lived life traumatised and in silence. In most places, the issue of violence against women and children remain buried within the four walls of their houses. Sometime it spills into the public domain and becomes a news. Hype depends on the position of the perpetrator and that of the victim, period. There will, at times, even media trials. But the issue at the core, the violence and the brutality towards women and children remain unaddressed. Laws are there, depending upon your position, for redressal. But, for this malaise, of this type of violence to be eliminated, slowly but surely, there has to be a realisation in the social upbringing of children through their medium of curriculum. An awareness has to be created among growing young minds through their social studies text books to appreciate the evils of this wife and child battering. In the present case, in Bangalore, it appears so macabre that the so called producer friends of this Darshan, the perpetrator of violence on his wife and child, without reprimanding him, declaring the other woman, a co-star, out of Kannada films for 3 years, is a kind of khap panchayat diktat, a le Kangaroo court. And how do they expect that his battered wife will again live with him with the image of her husband holding their child by the neck and threatening to throw the child? Yes, in all fairness, this Darshan should be given an extended ‘darshan’ of Bangalore prison instead.
Yes, its already out, the height of insensitiivity of the planning commission of govt of India, when it comes to dealing with poor and poverty. We had always maintained that, it’s a crime to be born poor in India. Believe it or not, even Ripley of ‘Believe it Not’ fame, would be shocked beyond belief, that, if you can spend Rs: 26, a day, in your village or Rs. 33 in your city then you must be rich enough to be called not poor.
In response to an apex court order of May 14, this year, planning commission submitted to the court an affidavit which has reportedly stated that “an individual’s income of just Rs. 25 a day constitutes adequate private expenditure on food, education and health”. Taking Suresh Tendulkar Committee (STC) report, which based its calculation on 2004/05 prices, the commission had fixed its poverty line at Rs. 781 for rural household and at Rs. 965 for urban households. STC report had pegged this figure at Rs. 447 a month or Rs. 15/- a day for rural area and Rs: 600/- or Rs.20/- a day in urban area. In a country where social equity is not a virtue, we have CEOs getting as opulently high as Rs: 70 crores as their annual pay packet and this very same planning commission members getting over Rs: 1 lakh per month, this dichotomy of India being rich and Indians being poor continued unquestioned for all the 64 years of free India. N C Sexana, a member of the National Advisory council, reportedly expressed his feeling while agreeing that Planning Commission ‘could have been more sensitive, despite the NSSO survey statistics’. Yes, for all its redistributive exercise of 12 five year developmental plans, successive governments in India has let down its poor.
Justice Santhosh Hegde, as former Lokayukta of Karnataka has rendered signal service to the country by exposing the politician/mining lobby partnership in looting the nation’s resources. The whole country is now aware of the magnitude of the loot of public money. It is already reverberating in Andhra, now may be the turn of Goa. The Congress leadership of Goa is asking for the scalp of its Chief Minister Digambar Kamath to make him truly ‘Digambar’ (meaning naked) for similar offence of conniving in illegal mining and illegal exports of iron ore. According to report, over 100 million tons of iron ore has been illegally exported. Thus, the loot is exponential in scale and magnitude and these politicians have to be made accountable along with their private sector partners in the national loot. Unless this happens, the nation's wealth will continue to be concentrated in few hands of powerful politicians and their friends in industry and bureaucracy.
There was this news on illegal trafficking in humans in Karnataka. But actually the title trafficking was misleading. It was basically a case of kidnapping and trading in women and children. According to the report there were, on an average, some 4000 women and children reported missing every month, from their places of residences, and were caught in this unfortunate trading of humans. It is an issue of serious concern. The report informs that Karnataka is slowly emerging as a state with highest number of women and children caught in this sorry quagmire, and according to the police it’s a Rs: 25 crore worth business. The question is what is the law enforcing authorities are doing about such a despicable and wanton crime by the well heeled anti-social operators in this trading, except reporting that state has recorded every year 40 to 50 thousand missing women and children. It is an issue the media has to extensively talk and debate to make the society and the administration realise its bounden duty towards weak and vulnerable, and not just report in the middle pages as an innocuous news. But then isn’t this how things concerning poor are treated in Indian media, more as an addendum rather than as a focus?
Responding to the claims of dirty tricks by the Income Tax Deptt. by sending notice of recovery to Arvind Kejriwal, the law minister Salman Khurshid had reportedly remarked “No vendetta, just routine”. But without holding any candle to this Kejriwal of Anna Panel, it can be argued that for all the 4 years after his quitting the Indian Revenue Service, the I.T. deptt. slept. But woke up only recently just around the middle of Anna Panel’s agitation. Besides, notice of recovery of dues by the I.T. deptt., flies on its face, if Kejriwal is right that his Provident Fund dues are still with his employers, that is government of India. There are clearly conflicting claims by both parties to the dispute and deptt. has the responsibility of setting the record strait. But one thing is clear, that whenever there is an element of disagreement with the government of the day, the authorities do have a practice of setting investigating hounds on unsuspecting members of the opposite side. Although it is sinister and patently bad, government do not seem overtly bothered about the immoral aspect of such mud slinging or dirty tricks. It is indeed very unfortunate. But then this is Yeh Mera India.
That China is not an easy country to work with is known to all, the world over. Every country has its own priorities but China has its own ways how it can arm twist its way. Countries with communist ideology has not survived anywhere only because it killed the individual in the human beings. But in China it survived because of the brute force the leadership used. They had the advantage of oriental intelligence coupled with the ruthlessness of Mongols. Of course Buddhism did make its inroads in the east Asian countries, but Mongol nature managed to remain one-up. This combination helped it grow from strength to strength both economically and militarily. Despite killing the individual, probably the only country in the world who looked straight into the eyes of uncle Sam and survived on its own terms. Henry Kissinger probably would have something to add to this thinking. In a deeply polarised world, the U.S. Secretary of State under Nixon, had made the first trip by any modern day American to Peking, underlying the clout the Chinese commanded. And now comes the news that Asian Development Bank, may not be funding the ‘Flood Management Project’ after all, in Arunachal Pradesh. Despite the entire board, barring Chinese director having supported the project which India wanted. This was despite the fact that the Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) included in the ADB charter bars the bank from evaluating a project on non-economic criteria. But the truth is, as soon as China objected to the funding of the project saying Arunachal Pradesh is a ‘disputed area’ the ADB was seized of the issue, and had in fact admitted that it was ‘a mistake’ and withdrew the project in 2009 itself, according to Wikileaks. Besides, despite unofficially admitting that ADB was simply not a place for China to raise the issue, it forced its way and nothing could be done about it.
Everything that goes up has to come down that’s the law of the nature. Nothing more could exemply the above truth than the rise and fall of Bellary brothers. If the resignation of Sriramulu, a close associate of Reddy brothers, on Sunday was a climax, the arrest of his mentor Janardhan Reddy by the CBI plunged his world into utter darkness of anti climax. A fellow who would take chopper ride with his family from Bellary to Bangalore, for a dinner is suddenly behind bar in Hyderabad, in one of the worst case of reversal of fortune. For far too long Bellay Brothers, and their cronies were calling the shot not only in and around Bellary but also in Bangalore, making life difficult for state BJP leadership because of their money. Hence, while BJP may overtly complain about witch hunt by centre using CBI, the state leadership under Sadananda Gowda is quietly happy without showing it. In life it pays not to over do.
If Bellary brothers were intoxicated with money and therefore the power that money could buy, Mayawathi is in a class of her own, again drunk with political power, the power that people gave her. A power that she usurped like a dictator that came to her democratically. The latest of the Wikileaks titled “Portrait of a lady” informs that not only she sent a plane, from Lucknow to Mumbai to fetch a pair of her favourite sandal, she was suffering from eccentric paranoia and hence had employed 9 cooks – two to cook – 5 to check and two to taste - , all at government cost. The trip to Mumbai and back for a Rs 1000 sandal cost the exchequer Rs. 10 lakhs. Paranoia about her personal safety is an obsession with her which led to the deployment of not only outsized security apparatus, but she also constructed a private road from her house to the office, which is cleaned immediately after every time she passes that road. When will Indians dump such leaders in the electoral dustbins is a question only making rounds indefinitely. That is indeed sad.
Have you ever heard of an R.T.O. Inspector causing the death of a truck driver for a mere Rs: 500 bribe that driver failed to pay? In UPs Sayyadraza area’s vehicle inspection centre, truck driver Anantlal Gupta was allegedly beaten to death by the RTO official, after the driver could only offer Rs: 500/- as against the demand of Rs: 1000/- as bribe for allowing the allegedly overloaded truck to go. Report informs that Supt. of Police has apparently acknowledged the bizarre incident, after the locals blocked the highway. But the question is how will the police make good the loss of life for a mere Rs: 500/- that too bribe? So there is a double case of demanding bribe with case of murder as well, not just homicide. When will our police be more humane?
The blast that rocked the Delhi High Court complex is an unfortunate reminder that somehow, we as a government cannot contain this scourge. The charge that the terrorist could attack any place of their choice at any time they decide, in the present security set up, is increasingly being felt that it is not misplaced. We the people are sitting ducks, especially when it happens in the heart of the capital city of Delhi. The sad fact is that the authorities claim no inputs and this is despite the alert the terrorists have given in May this year when there was a mild explosion in the same premises. So we have been proved, time and again, that we are poor learners. All the tall claims by the security agencies about the safety of national capital has fallen flat. And this is despite the 99% success claim articulated by Rahul Gandhi about the occurrence of terror attacks. This government must seriously debate the issue of security with all opposition parties without fooling itself and the nation.
That Air India is in trouble is not a news at all. For many years now, whether it was Indian Airlines or the old Air India have always been in the news for all wrong reasons. After the merger of both these government owned carriers it has only become problem 2 (PxP). Whether it is the balooning employee strength, which grew without reference to the cost benefit ratio, or the ministerial shenanigans and their own agenda of awarding lucrative routes to their friends and cronies or giving up altogether such profit making routes in favour of Indian private players, they have only added to the loss these national carriers were incurring. Now this latest acquisition of air crafts has really landed the Maharaja in a mess, that it looks difficult for it to come out. The report “AI acquisition plan a recipe for disaster ab initio: CAG” said it all. Yes despite assertion by Praful Patel, the Civil Aviation Minister, he has got to be probed for all the mess the airline got into during his ministership.
Its CAG everywhere. The constitutional watchdog has got to be given it’s due publicity, at least by the media. It has again struck a lethal blow. This time the machinations by the government. The Director General of Hydrocarbons and Oil Ministry are at the receiving end for causing loss to the nation by favouring Reliance in its high value contracts. So, its everywhere, at the cost of national resources, private players are allowed benefits so that men manning the government machineries are also allowed some big sized crumbs to enrich themselves. It’s the same story of fence eating the crop. Two cheers to CAG for its proactive discharge of its legitimate constitutional duties.
The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh was slated to have far reaching effect on the bilateral relations with our eastern neighbour. While it was not on expected lines, it did manage to have broad agreement on many areas of accommodation and good neighbourliness. Two of the three very important areas were agreed upon. Border was resolved to the satisfaction of both, so was the duty free excess for Bangla textiles into India, despite some resistance from Indian textile industry. Of course the heavily tilted trade imbalance in favour of India was the primary reason for this concession. However the most important of the three, the river water sharing agreement could not be agreed upon, since Mamata Banerjee, the CM of the most affected state vis-à-vis-Indo-Bangla agreements, called off her visit to Dacca, for what she perceived as unfair distribution of river water proposed in the agreement. Sheikh Hasina, the truly mass leader of Bangladesh would have really felt happy if this water sharing would have been agreed upon. Of course it is a very contentious but equally humane issue, and therefore there has to be a respectful agreement from both side to share equitably the nature’s most important bestowal to mankind. Mamata, despite her love for her people should realise that other side too have similar dimension which cannot be bulldozed. In a socio-political situation that India will continue to experience, it is very imperative that we should address the Bangladesh expectation with complete reasonableness, especially when the Sheikh Hasina government has been pro-active and sensitive, unlike all earlier regimes in Dacca, in being truly helpful in containing cross border irritants and intransigencies from Bangla soil. Hope this water sharing agreement too is attended without much delay to the overall satisfaction of both sides of the geographical divide.
Month of October always brings back the memory of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. The anti-corruption campaign by Anna Hazare and company, brought once again the relevance of Mahatma to our drawing rooms. Hence we thought we shall go back in time to the evolution of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi into the Making of Mahatma, to keep the memory of the great soul alive. We have discussed Gandhiji under Focus for its relevance. Surely our readers shall find it interesting. Do revert with your inputs, we do value them. Rest as usual.


FOCUS

OCTOBER 2nd - MK GANDHI TO MAHATHMA GANDHI
Sometime in May 1893, the westernised suited booted young lawyer, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was travelling in a train, from Transvaal to Pretoria, in South Africa, on a first class ticket. On the way, in comes a railway ticket checker (TC). Finding the Indian coloured barrister, the white T.C. gives him a sharp stare. Yes he was occupying, the whites only territory. Young Gandhi tells the T.C. ‘I am holding a first class ticket’ while showing the ticket. He had a ‘ration card’ alright, but the cold stare of the T.C. conveyed ‘you are a squatter’. As the Pietermaritzburg station was approaching, a railway constable opened the door of the compartment wherein Gandhi was sitting. As the train pulled up at the station, he was thrown out of the train ‘lock, stock & barrel’, for his refusal to move into 3rd class compartment. It was past midnight.
Sitting on the platform, in the cold shivering night, he wrestled within himself, having endured the insult, whether to return to India or fight back to the bitter end. Before the day broke, he made up his mind. Fortunately for the world, he was determined to play the man. And the man he did play, as no other living being could have ever played. As Albert Einstein would reiterate one day, “Generations to come would scarce believe that such a one as this, in flesh and blood, ever walked upon the earth”. Yes he stood upto the might of British empire, and left for the benefit of posterity, unmistakably indelible mark in the history of human movements, the world over.
Louis Fischer, the American journalist, wrote post 30th Jan. 1948, “He died as a private citizen, without wealth, without property, without official title, yet men with governments and armies behind them paid homage to the little brown man in a loin cloth. The Indian authorities had received 3441 messages of sympathy from foreign countries”. General Douglas McArthur, the Supreme Commander of Allied forces said “In the evolution of civilisation, if it is to survive, all men cannot fail eventually to adopt Gandhi’s belief that the process of mass application of force to resolve contentious issues is fundamentally not only wrong, but contains within itself the germs of self destruction”. “Mahatma Gandhi was the spokesman for the conscience of all mankind” was the take of U.S. Secretary of State, General Marshal.
Yes, Gandhiji was probably a kind of reminder to these men of eminence, of their own inadequacies, when they paid glowing tributes to the uniqueness of the man.
Born on 2nd Oct. in 1869, in Porabunder, young Mohandas grew like all of us. Even late until adulthood, there was hardly any indication of his eventual universal personality. However two of his traits, truthfulness and resistance to authoritarianism, found even during his schooldays, singled him out in his search for an identity that created a unique niche that remained unequalled even to this day.
Social discrimination, - racial, coloured, cultural etc - has a history as long as the human civilization. South Africa was not only not an exception, it was also pretty bad. In the South Africa of 19th century, society was sharply divided by colour, class, religion and profession. Young Gandhi’s experience on the way to Pretoria made him realise the utter helplessness of the coloured people there. He knew, he had to fight and fight to finish.
That he fought his way through, despite heavy odds of all kinds in an alien land is a stuff of incredibly multiple dimension. But what singled him out as a unique human being was his complete lack of hatred. Despite having experienced personal brutalities in the hands of whites in South Africa, he bore no ill will against any of them.
Prof Edward Thompson of Oxford wrote “Gandhi ought to have hated every white face to the end of his life. But Gandhi forgave the whites in Durban who assembled to lynch him and forgave those who mauled and beat him. His soul kept no record of past sins against his body. Instead of prosecuting the guilty, he persued the more creative task of improving the lot of his countrymen.
Thus the question that occupied Gandhi’s mind was “Do you want to punish them or do you want to change them”. To Gandhi addressing the issue of colour prejudices was greater than punishing the guilty.
In the India (of) To-day, we all suffer from fixation syndrome – whether it is the media, the legislature, the executive or even the judiciary. We want to fix somebody and spend our precious time and money in finding out who is wrong or who is at fault. We are conditioned this way only, rather than thinking and debating what is the fault or what is wrong in the system. Our accumulated problems are result of this mind set. Yes we need to overhaul our very approach of managing our issues.
Thus, according to Mahatma, it was the issue that troubled him. It was his concern that inspired him to act. This is the most relevant aspect of Mahatma’s public life.
In 1959, Dr Martin Luther King, a Nobel Laureate, the most celebrated American civil rights activist came calling ‘on a pilgrimage to the land of Mahatma’. After the sojourn of a month, as he was leaving, he was addressing a press conference. A cynical journalist asked a question “WHERE IS GANDHI TO-DAY? WE SEE HIM NO WHERE! His answer completely put at rest any misgivings our ‘very intelligent & smart’ journalistic fraternity would have entertained. We quote “Gandhi is inevitable. If humanity is to progress Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted, inspired by the vision of a humanity evolving towards a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore him only at our own risk” unquote.
Isn’t it sad that we need to quote Dr King, to talk about the relevance of our very own Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi?
However, it was TJS George, a very eminent journalist, who paid a very touching tribute to this great soul, the Mahatma, in his write-up “MAN OF THE MILLENNIUM”. Comparing Gandhi’s contemporaries like, Nehru, Patel and Jinnah, he writes, “Gandhi soared above them all because he dealt essentially with ideas and theories relevant to all mankind. Like Buddhism, Gandhism lost ground in the land out of which it evolved. But, like Buddhism, it has been embraced by distant people who see in its tenets the promise of a meaningful life. It was as though Gandhi’s involvement with India was merely incidental to his larger involvement with what he persistently called Truth. Raja Rao put it pithily when he wrote: ‘For Gandhi India was only the symbol of a universal principle. All countries were, for Gandhi, India.’ When we look at him in this perspective, we realise that it was his universality, the transcendent quality of his life and thought, that made Gandhi, Gandhi.
He will be greater than not just Stalin and Hitler – two characters who are rather too one-dimensional to be contrasted with the vastness that was Gandhi. Gandhi personifies the greatness of the time-honoured proposition that Love is superior to Hatred, that Good is better than Evil. Great personages of history who based their “greatness” on Hatred and Evil, on conquests and oppression, have all gone under. The Byzantines and the Ottomans, the Mongols and the Mughals, the British and Spanish once strode the earth as if they owned it. Today only Britain and Spain survive, and that too as second-class entities confined to Europe. Alexander, the first king in history to be called “The Great,” died a lonely death as a disillusioned and defeated man at the incredible age of 33. Nothing of his greatness remains today even in his native Macedonia which is now but an appendage to the horrible tragedy of Yugoslavia.
Greatness built on murder and acquisition passes. Greatness rising out of compassion and service abides. The Buddha abides. Christ abides. The great unknown thinkers of the Upanishads abide. Gandhi carried that tradition through to our times. He might have been let down by the “Gandhians” who, armed with political power, have turned India into a mess. That too is parallel to the way quarrelling Buddhists, exploitative Christians and lately-intolerant Hindus have been letting down their preceptors. But their smallness does not detract from the true greatness of the sages who opened the path of enlightenment for them and for the world. They abide because they gave without taking. They were not men of arms. They were men of ideas. Parithraanaaya saadhunam, they appear from age to age. They appear to teach us that the world can be conquered, not with force, but with ideas. It was the lesson of this Millennium too – taught by the Man of the Millennium”.
And what were those ideas that Gandiji propounded? In the words of one of our former President R. Venkataraman “Some of Ganhdiji’s ideas have acquired a new relevance in our own days. He was an apostle of non-violence in world in which violence prevailed. He was a great national leader, but equally he was great internationalist. His warnings against ruthless exploitation of nature have been exemplified by the looming ecological disaster that faces the world to-day.” Writing for Bhavan’s journal Dr Dubhashi wrote “Gandhiji must be considered to be the harbinger of the modern movement of environmental preservation. As far back as 1927, he warned against indiscriminate exploitation of the natural resources in the name of raising the material standards of living. For him uncontrolled consumerism is totally unjustified and could not lead to human happiness. Thus Gandhiji must be considered to be the originator of modern concept of sustainable development.” Hasn’t he famously observed that “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not for everyone’s greed”, which is epochal in its sweep.
Ganhdiji believed in political and economic decentralisation. He wanted the village Panchayat to be the basis of the Indian polity. Although constitution makers under Dr Ambedkar ignored it. Within few years, through 73rd amendment Panchayat Raj was given its rightful place, since it was greatly felt that development work in a large country like India should be under taken through village level. Economic decetnalisation through khadi and village industries, Ganhdiji felt can alone generate adequate employment opportunity and sustain village economies. This could have been a good source of eradicating unemployment at village level. Here it needs to be recollected that despite 64 years of planned economic development if our Human Development Index is very low, unemployment and underemployment have been a major factor. Our developmental approaches have never been people centered as Gandhiji envisaged. We went for Nehruvian mass production instead of production by masses.
Thus it is becoming increasingly clear if we had followed the idea of Gandhiji, we could have better Gross National Happiness (GNH) rather than better Gross National Product (GNP) with low level of happiness. So economic managers and policy makers have to decide whether they want more happiness or more productive less happiness. Yes, both need to be combined with a newer approach.
The Non-violent civil disobedience is another of his very powerful idea. If Sept.11, 2011 had been a weird kind of watershed in the contemporary world history, when a new page was written on global terrorism, the Sept. 11, 1906 gave birth to the civil disobedience as an instrument of people’s movement. World has never been the same since then. Replicating his South African action plan in India, on 16th April 1917, Gandhiji attempted to “Cock a Snook” at the British authorities at Champaran in Bihar spearheading the farmers agitation. That was the first attempt at challenging the British in India after 1857 war of independence. The Champaran episode was the turning point for Gandhiji and to Indian freedom struggle. It sent unmistakable signs that we could take on British at our own terms.
“What I did,” he explained "was a very ordinary thing. I declared that British could not order me about in my own country". His logic was, if he could stand upto the British in South Africa, an alien land, in India he was on a more firm ground.
The problem was, English landlords were facing an English barrister of Indian origin for the first time, in place of illiterate farmers, and they didn’t like. Authorities restricted Gandhiji’s movements in the face of swelling crowd. He refused to obey the order and offered himself to be imprisoned. Now this was an odd situation that district administration had never handled. Thus Ganhdiji became a new factor and a force they found difficult to counter. His acts of disobedience and willingness to go jail was a new phenomena. Lt. Govenor of the province ordered the case to be dropped since there was no apparent crime. Thus the civil disobedience for the first time had triumphed in India under British. At one point officials felt powerless without Gandhiji’s co-operation to manage the surging crowd. He helped the authorities regulate the crowd. Hegave British a concrete proof that their might hitherto unquestioned and feared, could be challenged.
So can we live without invoking Mahatma in the day to day life of the nation? He lived all his life truthfully, but our leaders, be they political, social or religious, even trade union leaders and members of the 4th estate live mostly by mouthing lies, whole lies and nothing but lies. History of free India’s 64 years is replete with instances of injustice, exploitation, discrimination, violence and above all fall in moral values represented by corruption, deceit, hunger for power, power broking, killing and many other myriad facets of decadence. All because we forgot Mahatma.
Look at what happened at THE WEEK. It was rather weird that a book reviewer columnist writing for the weekly, even didn’t know that M K Gandhi is same as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. A book on the English publications in the country “HUNDRED YEARS OF ACTIVE WITNESS TO HISTORY – FEEDBACK". It was reviewed by one Murkot Kunhappa, and he writes in THE WEEK “Greatest number of letters to the Times of India appears to have been written by one M.K. Gandhi and he stands first” “he scored his victory on great men like Tilak, Gokhale……”etc. What you call this, amnesia or hybrid!
Fortunately, there were others on the global stage, like Dr King, in the US, and Mr Nelson Mandela in South Africa, or even Lech Walesa of Poland, who tried and succeeded in realising the change in their society just by replicating Mahatma’s ways and means. Thus his relevance is universal.
And comes Anna Hazare, an Indian Army driver, who left the army after seeing dead bodies all around him and comes back to his dusty underdeveloped village – Ralegan Siddhi and transforms the landscape therein adopting Gandhian ways. He has been around for some time in the Marathi news being a ‘soul pricker’ of people in power. No politician, if corrupt, ever liked him. But the humongous and ever growing corruption in our national life catapulted him to national fora. And suddenly he caught the imagination of the entire country, disgusted at the rot that has set into the national socio/political landscape. Suddelnly Mahatma Gandhi reappeared in the drawing rooms of millions of Indians fed up with the goings on in the body politic of the country. Of course Anna Hazare is no barrister from Lincon’s Inn, but fortunately there were young and old, Kejriwals, Bedis, Patkers and Bhushans who gave their best to Anna. How much this revival of Gandhian way of life would translate itself into a national awakening may not be easy to fathom, but the seedling, the Ankur is already there. Hope it is properly watered and nurtured to grow into a Banyan Tree for a rightful place for India in the comity of nations as a beacon of hope for the entire humanity, lest the Apocalypse overtake the world.

J.Shriyan

FEATURE

The business called education.

Prof. B. M. Hegde,
hegdebm@gmail.com

With the going rate for a single vote in the show of strength in the Parliament and assemblies by the ruling kichdi at crores, one might wonder where does this kind of money come from in a country where the majority are still below the poverty line and the daily loss of child life due to malnutrition alone is at its peak at 6000 deaths. Each party is blaming the other for horse trading but, for the poor people all parties are the same actors on the political canvas. They all belong to one party-money making and power grabbing party-least bothered about the poor and the less fortunate. Today an honest, conscientious person can never dream of getting elected what with the established actors spending millions of rupees to get votes. No self respecting human being would venture into that arena. It will be like the puny fellow getting into the ring with a sumo wrestler.
I must admit that we have had a quantum jump in our GDP in the last decade or so but, unfortunately, that has been exclusively for the rich and the powerful with the poor still in the same place where they were a decade ago if not at lower level than that. With the inflation running at double digit mark the plight of the poor would really be pathetic.
A sizeable section of the cunning poor have made it to the political arena and have amassed wealth after independence. Even they do not seem to be bothered about their erstwhile fellow travelers. Money makes man lose all his sense of social conscience as also his social consciousness! Our black money economy is much bigger than the white money market. No one seems to be unduly worried, though.
With the governing class and the beurocracy on the same side of the fence who do we depend on to book the culprits? The media is not an exception, either. They pontificate through their media power but, behind the scenes are aligned with one or the other party. We have had some new entrants trying to spy over the corrupt in one party while they seem to have a blind spot when it comes to their own masters. We are left with that sacred fort of the judiciary to lift the country from that bottomless pit into which our leaders have sunk the country’s honour! Recent revelations in the judiciary show a good percentage of black sheep there as well. So we have come up against a stone wall in our struggle against corruption with the all the fences put in to guard the crop by our constitution makers having started eating the crop! Look at the drama of the Lokpal bill meetings!
Our only hope is to depend on society to set things right by playing a proactive role. That said, I must hasten to add that all is not well in that front, either. Many of the “so called NGOs” are political in some sense. They use intelligent language to sell their agenda respectably. This brings me to that beautiful paper by George Orwell in 1946 entitled Politics and the English language wherein he shows how even some of the great writers and leaders had been misleading the public using vague, unintelligible, distorted language to sell their ideas in favour one or the other political party. The one example, among the many, that he gave in that paper is a very long sentence by Professor Harold Laski where he sprinkles many Latin and Greek phrases to confuse the meaning at the end. Our intelligent media masters use the same tactics in India, nay all over the world. Corruption, our tall political masters would proclaim, is a universal phenomenon. It is called lobbying in the US but called dalalgiri in India. These wheelers and dealers abound around the power centres in Delhi and the State capitals. They make hey when the sun shines.
Our last hope is to trace the source of corruption. It is the unscrupulous non-politicians that try and buy those that wield power at any time with their money power. Most of them are in business of one kind or the other. Each of them harbours a couple of dozen powerful politicians, both in the government and opposition at any given time. They are very intelligent that they do not have permanent friends or permanent enemies they only have their permanent interests in mind! At the end of the day it is they that benefit from this kind of confusion. There many areas to audit but, for the purposes of this article, I shall confine my audit to the most thriving business in India today-the business called education. While it is true that a country of India’s size and population density with almost 70% below the age of 20 in the next fifty years, we need a huge investment in education from the primary to the highest level.
No country on earth could do that using only the tax payers’ money. It is but natural that we need private participation here. For those eyeing education as business do so mainly because in India that is the safest industry to invest in. In education business the raw material comes to your door step, there is no need to have an elaborate and expensive marketing department to sell the finished product in many areas. Labour trouble is at it bare minimum. Work force is in plenty. Infrastructure could be manipulated unlike in other industries where the needed machinery is a must. In the field of education there could always be laxity in all those rules of the game. More than all these there is a huge opportunity to both invest and generate black money which, in turn, could be converted into white very, very respectably. Education business gives the owner, in addition to tons of money, social status and respectability of an educationist, with the attendant Padma awards and what have you. Special place is society with commendable influence comes as a bonus. Even the most powerful (may be the PM or the President) might seek favours in getting their wards into the institution when they do not qualify to get in through the right route! Many of them brag about it after a couple of Black label doses!
The powers-that-be have put in place some controlling bodies to set things right and see that nothing untoward happens in this holy area of educating our future generation. Lo and behold, most of them are worse than the politicians referred to earlier in their capacity to earn black money to grant favours to the unscrupulous players in the field. The very purpose is defeated and the field now stinks. To give one example we have the Syndicates in all State Universities to oversee the running of those holy places. Most of them are selected by the politicians in power thereby defeating the very purpose. Even though all of them have the requisite minimum degree most of them are not educated. Education and having a degree are two different things. Private Universities could have their own say in filling those bodies and they couldn’t care less about the ability of the people-they just want people to sign on the dotted lines! So where are we? Recently I was told that in a metropolis a private university was charging upwards of a crore of rupees for a PG seat. Entry criteria and exit rules could all be bent with that rate for entry! The annual hike in that black money quantum seems to overtake our inflation rate.
The only solution is to let higher and professional education to be open and free from all controls and licenses. The buyer should be the only judge of the quality of education with authentic responsible people in society acting as the watchdog bodies to point out the lapses as and when they occur. Let it be the buyers’ market like automobiles now. The institutions could charge their own fees but the monies collected must be publicly audited. In that scenario the institutions will look for true excellence: the latter is competing with oneself. They will also try and get as many foreign students as they can to get more money into the country. Universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Stanford do not need watch dog bodies or political Syndicate members to keep them excellent. They all might charge very hefty fees for those that can afford, but they never dilute their standards or their entry criteria. Even those universities live on foreign students’ income to a great extent! Those that can not afford the fees must be given interest free educational loans by the private universities through banks, if they like.
It will take some time for our institutions to reach those levels but let us not forget that India had “universities of excellence thousands of years ago when people from all over the world flocked there, while Europeans were hunter-gatherers roaming the forests,” wrote Voltaire, the French philosopher. The tax payer’s money could be better used to give the country’ children compulsory good quality primary education. Here again the onus of responsibility could be shared with those private institutions that run profitable higher education institutions. Each of them could be given charge of a certain number of primary schools to be run for the benefit of the poor and the less fortunate with the best standards of education in their vicinity compulsorily.
The Right of Information Act must be used to get all the details of the running of these private higher educational institutions so that they are answerable to society. It might be argued as interference in their private affairs but they are answerable to society which is providing them their livelihood. I am just floating an idea. It is not fool proof shield against graft but is much better than the prevailing scene which is raking in black money dealings with the beneficiaries trying to run the government with their money and influence. This arena is one of the leading generators of black money as of now. This order of things must change. Saying that all higher education must be run by the government with ministers only making money all the time is an archaic idea in 2011. In the new set up genuine educationists could manage the education departments of the governments.


SERIAL : 37

GANG LEADER FOR A DAY
The Hustler and the Hustled
I found it unconscionable that such a regime existed, but I wasn’t going to confront Ms. Bailey either. She was too powerful. And so while the women’s anger turned into despair, my disgust began to morph into bitterness.
The Women’s list of survival techniques went well beyond ten. Keep cigarettes in your apartment so you can pay off a squatter to fix things when they break. Let your child pee in the stairwell to keep prostitutes from congregating there at night. Let the gangs pay you to store drugs and cash in your apartment. (The risk of apprehension, the women concurred, was slim.)
Then there were all the resources to be procured in exchange for sex: groceries from the bodega owner, rent forgiveness from the CHA, assistance from a welfare bureaucrat, preferential treatment from a police officer for a jailed relative. The women’s explanation for using sex as currency was consistent and pragmatic: If your child was in danger of going hungry, then you did whatever it took to fix the problem. The women looked pained when they discussed using their bodies to obtain these necessities; it was clear that this wasn’t their first – or even their hundredth-preference.
“Always know somebody at the hospital,” Tanya blurted out. “Always have somebody you can call, because that ambulance never comes. And when you get, you need to pay somebody, or else you’ll be waiting in line forever!”
“Yes, that’s true, and the people at the hospital can give you free baby food,” Sarina said. “Usually you need to meet them in the back alley. And I’d say you should keep a gun or a knife hidden, in case your man starts beating you. Because sometimes you have to do something to get him to stop.”
“You’ve had to use a knife before?” I asked. No one had spoken or written about this yet. “How often?”
“Many times!” Sarina looked at me as if I’d grown up on Mars. “When these men start drinking, you can’t talk to them. You just need to protect yourself-and don’t forget, they’ll beat up the kids, too.”
“Keisha started to cry. She dropped her head into her lap and covered so no one could see. Sarina leaned over and hugged her.
“The easiest time is when they’re asleep,” Tanya said. “They’re lying there, mostly because they’ve passed out drunk. That’s when it runs through your mind. You start thinking, ‘I could end it right here. I could kill the motherfucker, right now. Then he can’t beat me no more.’ I think about it a lot.”
Keisha wiped her eyes. “I stabbed that nigger because I couldn’t take it no more. Wasn’t anybody helping me. Ms. Bailey said she couldn’t do nothing, the police said they couldn’t do nothing. And the man was coming around beating my baby for no reason. I couldn’t think of any other way, couldn’t think of nothing else to do….”
She began to sob again. Sarina escorted her to the bathroom.
“She sent her man to the hospital,” Tanya quietly explained. “Almost killed him. One night he was asleep on the couch-he had already sent her to the hospital a few times, broke her ribs, she got stitches and bruises all over her body. She grabbed that knife and kept putting it in his stomach. He got up and ran out the apartment. I think one of J.T.’s boys took him to the hospital. He’s a BK.”
Because the boyfriend was a senior gang member, Tanya said, J.T. refused to pressure him to stop beating Keisha. She still lived in fear that the man would return.
One day Ms. Bailey called and asked that I come to a building-wide meeting with her tenants. She hadn’t invited me to such a meeting in more than a year, so I figured something important was afoot.
I hadn’t been keeping up with Ms. Bailey’s tenant meetings in part because I’d already amassed sufficient information on these gatherings and also because, in all honesty, I’d grown uncomfortable watching the horse-trading schemes that she and other tenant leaders used to manage the community.
My own life was also starting to evolve. I had moved in with my girlfriend, katchen, and we were thinking about getting married. Visiting our relatives-mine in California and hers in Montana-took time away from my fieldwork, including much of our summers and vacations. My parents were thrilled, and they pushed me to think seriously about starting a family along with a career. Katchen was applying to law school; neither of us was ready for children just yet. And then there was the matter of my dissertation, which I still had to write. I began to meet more regularly with Bill Wilson and other advisers to see whether I could plausibly move toward wrapping up my graduate study.
Ms. Bailey’s office was packed for the meeting when I arrived, with a few dozen people in attendance, all talking excitedly. As usual, most of them were older women, but there were also several men standing in the back. I recognized a couple of them as the partners of women in the building; it was unusual to see these men at a public meeting. Ms. Bailey waved me up front, pointing me to the chair next to hers.
“Okay,” she said, “Sudhir has agreed to come here today so we can clear this up.”
I was taken aback. Clear what up? Everyone was suddenly staring at me, and they didn’t look happy.
“Why are you sleeping with my daughter?” shouted a woman I didn’t recognize. “Tell me, goddamn it! Why are you fucking my baby?”
“Answer the woman!” someone else hollered. I couldn’t tell who was talking, but it didn’t matter: I was in a state of shock.
One man, addressing me as “Arab”, told me I should get out of the neighborhood for good and especially leave alone their young women. Other people joined in:
“Nigger, get out of here!
“Arab, go home!”
“Get the fuck out, Julio!”
Ms. Bailey tried to restore order. Amid the shouting she yelled out that I would explain myself.
I was still confused. “Let Sudhir tell you why he’s meeting them!” Ms. Bailey said, and then I understood: It was the writing workshop. People had seen me picking up the young women and driving away with them. Apparently they thought I was sleeping with them, or maybe pimping them out.
As I tried to explain the writing workshop, I kept getting drowned out. I began to feel scared. I had seen how a mob of tenants nearly tore apart the Middle Eastern shopkeeper who’d slept with Boo-Boo’s daughter.
Ms.Bailey finally made herself heard above the riot. He’s trying to tell you that he’s just helping them with homework!”
That quieted everyone down a little bit. But still, I was stung. Why weren’t any of the women from the workshop in attendance? Why hadn’t anyone come to defend me, to tell the truth?
After a few more minutes, things having calmed down a bit, Ms. Bailey told me to leave. There was other business to take care of, she said, laughing-at me-and clearly enjoying herself at my expense.
Leaving the building that night, I wondered how much more time I could afford to spend in J.T’s territory. It was hard to think of any tenants who weren’t angry with me.

IN NOT SO LITE VEIN

Absolute Pawar
Recently, the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, the Maratha strongman, not only in politics but also in wealth, acquired rightly or wrongly, had declared his wealth for public consumption. However he didn’t really know what he was getting into, when he declared his assets worth Rs. 12 crore. Response of netizens are to be read to be believed.
Read on-courtesy-Delhi Times

Sharad Pawar saying he has just 12 crores is like Shakti Kapoor in his films saying “All women are my sisters”.
Jhunjunwala
After hearing that Sharad Pawar has only 12 crores, Kim Kadarshian have also declared her assets. 36-24-36 mill microns. #fakingNews. Amaresh80
Sharad Pawar had declared he has only 12 crores. So sad. Maybe we can all send him some money… Bechara nek insaan. Tch tch tch…
Actor_Siddharth
Sharad Pawar declares assets of Rs. 12 crores. Funny. But in a British sort of way. Very understated.
Ramesh Srivats
Raju Srivastava to move priviledge motion against Sharad Pawar for stealing his humor space. #/IamPawar #MaibhiPawar
Coolvihal
Lol. RT “@SunkeyNews: On this Teacher’ s Day, I want to meet the Teacher who taught Mathematics to Sharad Pawar. #iampawar”
Sabitakath
#ReallyHateWhen Sharad Pawar said his assets is ONLY WORTH 12 crores. Dude, you were asked for net assets, not per month’s asset #lamPawar
Kushalshah02
Actually, the whole world got it wrong! Sharad Pawar must have said “I will take 12 crores to declare my assets”
Coolfunnyshirt
If all we netajis declares our actual worth then Bill Gates would be queuing for a BPL card. #IamPawar
Diggyleaks
Ramesh Powar – “Wow! I am trending. So what if they didn’t spell it right.” #IamPawar
GhantaGuy
Pawar corrupts, absolute Pawar corrupts absolutely.
Perkyretweets

Corrupts

Absoutely?

SENSELESS VIOLENCE

Railway stunt boys attack cops with belts
For train commuters, the slight of teenagers pulling off silly stunts on the moving local trains is a common sight. However, both passengers as well as railway cops have been reporting and nabbing such juvenile daredevils.
Not only do these ‘stuntmen’ put their own lives in danger but also pose a hazard for other fellow passengers. And often they are brash and rude to the passengers who try to stop them from performing these crazy stunts. However, one such acrobatic duo went a step further than just being a rude bunch. The two teens attacked a constable on duty with a leather belt giving the official a grievous gash on his head. When a fellow constable attempted to stop the attack, the duo turned on him and rained blows before trying to flee.
The incident took place onboard a CST-bound Thane local. Mohsin Shaikh (19) and Shahrukh Khan (20) were travelling on the CST-bound local and jumping from the gate to the top of the train by using the window for leverage.
“Two constables attached with the Borivli Government Railway police (GRP) Uday Salgaonkar and S Suryavanshi were travelling in the same compartment,” said Shivaji Dhumal, senior inspector of police, Kurla GRP police station.
“When Salgaonkar found the two performing stunts standing on the footboard he reprimanded them and asked them to sit inside,” said Dhumal.
The boys got into a heated argument with the constable and abused him. As the train left Vikhroli station, the duo attacked Salgaonkar with a belt. “When Suryawanshi interfered they attack him with the belt as well. The duo managed to flee at the Ghatkopar station. Salegaonkar suffered injuries to his head,” said Dhumal.
The duo ran towards Pant Nagar in Ghatkopar and Suryawanshi followed suit. An injured Salgaonkar also began to run after them.
“I also ran behind Suryawanshi, and shouted for help. A few locals heard our screams and nabbed the fleeing boys,” said Salgaonkar.
“By the time we reached the Kurla GRP police station my forehead was bleeding profusely,” added Salgoankar.
The police have arrested Shaikh and Khan, both residents of Shivaji Nagar in Govandi. “The two arrested boys are students of N G Acharya and D K Marathe College of Arts, Science and Commerce in Chembur. They have been booked under section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 332 (voluntary causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), and travelling without ticket,” said Dhuaml.

AREN'T PEOPLE SAME EVERYWHERE!

Indonesian escapes Saudi execution; Returns to riches & is hated
Trungtum: An Indonesian maid is beheaded in Saudi Arabia. For a second one on death row, strangers at home rally to her cause and raise tens of thousands of dollars. She not only escapes the sword, she’s now rich. And hated.
Darsem binti Dawud Tawar, 22, shot to fame earlier this year in Indonesia after spending more than three years in a Saudi prison accused of killing a man who allegedly tried to rape her. But when she safely returned to her small fishing village, the public tide swiftly turned against her.
She’s accused of living in luxary, building a fancy house along the dusty track that passes for Main Street, throwing around cash and draping herself in the jewels.
“She acts like a bling-bling celebrity now,” said Siti Patonah, a 32-year-old vendor, scrubbing apples and watermelons at a market as five or six housewives gather. “It’s true,” one says. “Like a nut that forgot its shell.”
The execution in June of a 53-year-old grandmother, Ruyati binti Satubim, sparked mass protests in Indonesia and prompted the government’s first effort to do more to protect the 1.2 million women who flock to Saudi Arabia every year.
But Darsem’s case has stolen the show, sparking fierce debate here on whether she should donate her windfall.
Life’s been anything but easy for Darsem. She dropped out of school before finishing 6th grade and moved to, Jakartha. By 15, she was married and pregnant and mother later she went to the Middle East, first Oman, then UAE and finally Saudi Arabia.
“My husband didn’t have a job, my father was getting old, I thought it was our best chance,” Darsem said. She refuses to talk about what happened next. But according to Saudi media reports, Darsem killed her employer’s relative, who was mentally ill, with a hammer to the head after he attacked her. She then threw his body in a watertank and covered it with concrete.
Darsem spent the next 31/2 years in a Saudi jail. But her luck turned when newspapers and activists on Facebook and twitter championed her cause.
The government scraped together the $500,000 demanded by the family of Darsem’s victim for her release. The public also chipped in, when she finally came home, a TV station handed over $140,000 from its viewers.
That’s a fortune in the predominantly Muslim nation of 240 million. In Trungtum, a struggling, coastal town Darsem may as well be a millionaire.
Everyone has a suggestion as to how she should spend the money, she said. “But why should I give them anything? They did nothing to help my family when I was gone,” she says.

MUSING

Money cannot buy happiness
Washington: Providing people with freedom and personal autonomy appears to be more important than money in giving them good health and happiness, according to a new research, reports ANI.
“Our findings provide new insights into well-being at the societal level, said researchers at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand who conducted the study.
“Providing individual with more autonomy appears to be important for reducing negative psychological tests-altogether, they examined a sample of 420,599 people from 63 countries spanning nearly 40 years.
Fischer and Boer statistically combined the results of the different studies, noting that their analysis was somewhat unusual in that the key variables were collected from different sources and that no single study included the two variables they were considering, i.e., wealth and individualism. (Participants only answered questions regarding one of the dependent variables of general health anxiety or burnout.)
“Across all three studies and four data sets, we observed a very consistent and robust finding that societal values of individualism were the best predicators of wellbeing,” the authors wrote. “Furthermore, if wealth was a significant predictor alone, this effect disappeared when individualism was entered”. In short, they found, money leads to autonomy but it does not add to well-being or happiness.”

OPINION

Fundamentalism, its different facets
J.Shriyan

Some moths ago there was this news item in the print media “Sikh called ‘Osama’ and attacked in U.S”. This was the story of one Jiwan Singh, a 59 year old employee of Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), who was attacked in a moving train, travelling from Richmond Hill to work in Brooklyn, on 30th May, the U.S. Memorial Day. He has been working in the U.S. for over 30 years and fathered some 5 children, all living in the U.S. But despite living in the U.S. for over 3 decades he did not compromise his practices of Sikh code of physical attributes, like turban, flowing beard etc. We have always blamed Muslims for burqua or veil. Of course all face covering veil can be a security risk. However there is a single bottom line that is identifiable by these attributes of religious diktats is the identity politics. Centuries ago when these religious beliefs started, the need for such marks of identification was felt for a particular purpose. Veil, apparently became a necessity to protect women folks from lecherous, barbaric men folks. But we are in 21st century, the world has undergone massive change. Men are better protector of women than women themselves, aberrations apart. So there is, truly speaking, no need for full face covering burquas. Besides even burquas these days are designer made and body hugging. Don’t they become tantalising?! Of course there is whole lot of Muslim women, who simply abhor the veil or burqua, but it is the miniscule minority who create unease in society.
Similarly the Sikh turban and beard or even kirpan. All of them are a relic of the past. There are any number of them who have given up these. You find turbanless, beardless and kirpanless sardars. Here again, it’s the minority who keeps uncut hair of the head, uncut long flowing beard and probably even kirpan. While they are all expected physical attributes as per the diktats, happily there is a great deal of tolerance among Sikhs towards those who do not practice them. However let us see the difficult side of these diktats. To maintain the uncut hair on the head and long flowing beard is a management nightmare, purely from the hygiene point and from the point of time consumption. A head with properly cut hair, like most men and a clean shaven face is certainly a logical option from any angle one sees. Again wearing turban and tying beard with designer finishes also is another part of the management problem. They are time consuming and certainly unhygienic if not properly washed everyday. Besides, the problem these practitioners of Sikh faith face all over the world, especially Europe and the U.S. If only this Jiwan Singh did not have his white long flowing beard, he would have saved his three teeth that he lost. Here it is very pertinent to recollect what happened to his eldest son, 25 year old Jasmir Singh. The son sardar was targeted post WTC attack in 2009 and knifed, because of his traditional turban and beard. Of course, the police will attend to the law and order issue and probably succeed in booking these attackers, but the issue remains. So how does the affected community takes upon itself, at self help, to improve law and order, especially when we are in an alien land? So isn’t there lesson, within the acceptable limits of decency and good look, for the good of all.

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Fruits could help make ‘green’ cars!
Washington: Scientists have developed a new way to use fibres from bananas, pineapples and other fruits to make a new generation of green vehicles. Nano-cellulose material from bananas, pineapples and other fruit can be used to make strong, light-weight, and more sustainable motor vehicle parts, the researchers found. “The properties of these plastics are incredible”, said study lead author Alcides Leao, Sao Paulo State University College of Agriculture Sciences, Sao Paulo, Brazil. “They are light, but very strong – 30% lighter and 3 to 4 times stronger than the materials used today. We believe that lot of car parts including dashboards, bumpers, side panels, will be made of nano-sized fruit fibres in the future. “For one thing, they will help reduce the weight of the cars and that will improve fuel economy. They also will help us make more sturdy vehicles”, Leao added.

Researchers find possible drug target for PTSD
Chicago: People with post-traumatic stress disorder appear to have lower levels of a specific kind of brain chemical known as serotonin IB, and targeting this with drugs could lead to the first treatments specifically targeting the disorder, researchers said. Currently, doctors use antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs to treat PTSD, but these are largely ineffective and were never specifically developed to treat the disorder, in which trauma victims suffer from recurrent memories of trauma, intense guilt or worry, angry outbursts and bad dreams.

Cancer drug from cells’ communication
Washington: Cells chat with one another, ‘discussing’ what kind they will become – a neuron or a hair, bone or muscle. This breakthrough opens the way to develop cancer drugs that target these transactions and halt production of cancer cells. Because cells continuously multiply, it’s easy to imagine a cacophony of communication. But David Sprinzak, Tel Aviv University molecular biologist at the George Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, suggests cells know when to chat and when to shut up and let other cells carry on. Sprinzak, working with California Institute of Technology (Caltech) researchers, has uncovered the mechanism that allows cells to switch from sender to receiver mode or vice versa, the journal ‘Public Library of Science Computational Biology’ reports IANS.

Regeneration of Zebrafish holds hope for deafness
Washington: Loud noise is known to irreversibly damage hair cells within the inner ear of mammals and cause deafness, but the ability of Zebrafish to regrow these cells holds hope, new research says. Researchers from Western Kentucky University and University of Louisville worked together to see which genes were switched on or off after outside acoustic trauma, according to the BMC journal ‘Neuroscience’.



YEH MERA INDIA

CAG raps MEA for Paris project
New Delhi: Rapping the Ministry of External Affairs for delaying work in Indian Chancery in Paris, the Comptroller and Auditor General said it has blocked capital of Rs 18 crore for the past five years apart from the Mission incurring a recurring liability of Rs 26 lakh per year. “Delay in implementation of project has blocked the capital of 18 crore on purchase of new building which has been lying unused since 2006. The mission has also been forced to incur a recurring liability of Rs 26 lakh per annum on rent of the Space Wing which was envisaged to be relocated in the new building after renovation”, the CAG said in its report. Despite audit findings reported earlier and assurances given by the Ministry of Public Accounts Committee, it was noticed during audit of the Mission at Paris that it took more than four years to complete the formalities in awarding the contract for renovation work, it said.

Agent helped locals steal power
Thane: A power theft racket was busted by the officials of MSEDCL who found to their horror that an agent helped locals to steal power. It recovered Rs. 7 lakh and took action against 14 people. According to sources, the Bhandup division o MSEDC took action after the officials learnt that Navdurga apartment on Ghodbunder Road indulged in power theft with the help of an agent. Officials claim that Manjit Singh Arora, who pretends himself as agent for MSEDC, had visited their Patlipada office and threatened the staff, “With the help of Arora they continued to get the power supply by illegal means. As per MSEDC officials, the entire matter came to light when the Kolshet division came to know about this theft and therefore sent a letter informing dues of Rs 3.78 lakh to the locals. Their overdues increased to Rs 7.45 lakh and accordingly, we took action against them,” the locals said. However the officials claim that the locals failed to pay the dues and hence their connection was discontinued.

No hospital, but Rs 25 lakh already spent
The government’s auditor has lambasted the Public Works Department (PWD) for its wasteful expenditure of Rs 25.62 lakh on a hospital project in Dwaraka which did not take off even 14 years after its conception. What’s more shocking, the civic agency has blocked funds worth Rs 14.2 crore on the project.
Last month, PWD came under CAG’s fire over irregularities in several infrastructure projects linked to the Commonwealth Games.
On the last day of the monsoon session, the CAG report for March 2010 was tabled in the House. The report mentions lapses in several projects and blasts the agency for lack of proper planning, delays and mismanagement of funds.
The reporters states that due to inadequate planning, the project to construct a hospital at Dwaraka conceived 14 years back could not materialize even after incurring funds to tune of Rs 14.62 lakh. The government is still not clear whether the project will be implemented by PWD or by public-private partnership.
In another case involving construction of an orthopedic block at LNJP Hospital, the report cites irregularities by PWD awarding of contracts. This led to wasteful expenditure of Rs 5.15 crore, which was paid to two other agencies. In addition, an interest of Rs 26.57 lakh was paid by PWD.
This not only bled the coffers, but also prolonged the scheduled completion of the hospital building which was scheduled to be completed by July 2010. Instead, it was only handed over in December 2010, resulting in denial of healthcare.
In another case, the auditor mentions irregular awarding of contract leading to excess expenditure of Rs. 1.27 crore.
“PWD awarded the work to a contractor over and above 10% of justified cost, in violation of the provisions of CPWD. This resulted in undue benefit of Rs 1.27 crore to the contractor,” the CAG report says.

Politics of liquor trade
Mumbai: It’s not just politicians from the cow belt dominating the liquor trade in Mumbai. A former railway employee is learnt to own some 27 retail liquor shops in the city.
The man, who 15 years ago, smuggled liquor from Daman to Maumbai by train while on duty, sold it to specific retail shops and is supposedly close to a powerful politician from Vidarbha.
In fact, this politician has also bailed out former railway employee when a truckload of liquor was seized at the Dahisar check naka while being smuggled into the city from Daman some 5 years ago.
His political clout gave him immunity against penal action, according to a state excise official. The excise official disclosed that a large amount of liquor is smuggled into the city from Daman through road and is offloaded into the retail outlets and godowns owned by this ex-railway official, which are located in various parts of the city. There is a strong suspicion that politicians are laundering tainted money in the liquor trade through this ex-railway employee who wields considerable clout in the retail liquor business in Mumbai.
Also, politicians from the cow belt of India who are believed to have taken over nearly around 50% of the liquor trade in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane, in the last 10 years, are threatening to take over nearly 90 per cent of the trade in these cities. While one of the politicians is from Uttar Pradesh, another is from Bihar. Interestingly, though both the politicians who are currently in the opposition in their respective state, they reportedly enjoy a close rapport with powerful politicians control approximately 80% of the liquor distributorship trade and 50% of the retail business in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai.
Currently, about 80 licences have been purchased in Mumbai and its neighbouring towns by the front company managed by the UP politician’s close aide who originally hails from Etawah and 40% licences by the front company floated by the Bihar politician’s business aide operating out of Mumbai.
In all, about Rs 300 crore of tainted funds is estimated to have been invested in the liquor trade by the UP politician since 2001, while the Bihar politician is believed to have pumped in more than Rs 350 crore of his family’s ill-gotten wealth in these cities.
It is learnt the UP politician had invested money through his frontman who handles the finance through a distributorship firm floated in 2001 and the Bihar politician too followed him into the business of laundering scam-tainted money. Frontmen of these politicians entered the liquor market when the Vialsrao Deshmukh government introduced a hike in the annual licence fee between Rs 200-400 crore for various categories of liquor.
A number of retail shop owners sold their licenses and a few others even disposed of their outlets at throwaway prices in suburban Mumbai and parts of Thane and Navi Mumbai. Many of these original licence holders were unable to afford paying the massive hike in the fee and sales too had dropped sizably, according to sources in the Excise department.
It was only following the state government lowering the ceiling on the annual fee, in June 2003, that there was a trickle in the sale of licence and retail shop premises. However, the front company continued its takeover plan even though the numbers of retail licence holders selling their licenses dropped. Since the Prithiviraj Chavan government is not open to introducing a liberalised excise policy, the front companies’ plan to take over 90% of the entire liquor trade industry in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai, has not materalised.

Banks sitting on Rs 1,723 crore of unclaimed deposits: Pranab
New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee informed the Parliament that around Rs 1,723.24 crore of depositors’ money is lying as unclaimed with commercial banks. On the total amount, he said, Rs 1,467 crore is lying as unclaimed deposits with the public sector banks and rest is with private and foreign banks. Private banks are sitting on unclaimed amount of Rs 195.9 crore and foreign banks have around Rs 60 crore till December, 2010, he said. Minister of State for finance S.S. Palanimanickam said the Finance Ministry has detected over 11 lakh duplicate permanent account numbers (PANs) till date. As on March 31, there were over 12 crore PAN numbers in existence, the minister said. The number of income tax returns filed in the 2010-11 were close to 3.5 crore.

MONTH THAT WAS

Over 37,000 villages have no mobile phones
Over 37,000 villages in the country have not got mobile phone connectivity till March 2011, according to data from the telecom department. Minister of State for communications and IT Milind Deora said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha that “37,184 villages in the country are yet to be connected with mobile connectivity as on March 2011”. The minister also said that till July 31, the stat-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has covered all district headquarters and 33,620 cities with GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) based cellular services. About 579, 486 villages, over 97 percent of the census 2001 inhabited revenue villages, have been covered with telephone connectivity through village public telephones. Shared mobile infrastructure scheme has been launched by universal service obligation fund to provide subsidy support for setting up and managing 7,353 towers in 500 districts and over 27 states.

KTCL buses for disabled
Panjim: The Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited launched two buses for persons with disability on Sept. 7, at 10.30 am at KTC bus stand, Panjim, Chief Minister, Digambar Kamat, inaugurated the buses in presence of Minister for Transport, Sudin Dhavilkar, and MLA Priol and Chairman KTCL, Deepak Dhavilkar.

Somalia & Muslim World
Nairobi: Famine has spread to six out of eight regions in southern Somalia, with 750,000 people facing imminent starvation, and hundreds of people are dying each day despite a ramping up of aid relief, the United Nations said.
“The entire Bay region has now been declared a famine area,” said Mark Bowden, the United Nations’ Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.
Bay is the sixth region of Somalia to slip into famine since the United Nations’ initial declaration of famine in the war-torn country in July that has left 4 million Somalis, or 53% of the population, unable to meet their food needs.
Hundreds of people are dying each day and at least half of them are children, the United Nation’s Grainne Moloney said, adding she expected the remaining regions of Southern Somalia to slip into famine by the end of the year.
Aid agencies are only able to get food aid to 1 million of those in need because the al-Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab rebel group, which controls much of the south, will not allow food shipments in.
“The rate of malnutrition in Bay region is 58%. This is a record rate of acute malnutrition." said Moloney.

Mormugao MLA donates portable morgue
Vasco: Mormugao MLA Milind Naik donated a portable morgue for the benefit of the people from Mormugao taluka. The portable morgue could be used free of cost by the people residing in four constituencies of Mormugao taluka - Mormugao, Vasco, Dabolim and Cortalim. The launching ceremony of the portable morgue was held at the office of Mormugao MLA Naik in the presence of Our Lady of Candelaria Church Samosollem-Baina Parish Priest Fr Vital Miranda, councilors and others. Speaking on the occasion, Naik said the purpose of launching and providing portable morgue is to keep the body fresh and to avoid inconvenience. “People irrespective of caste and creed can use the portable morgue at any time by contacting the BJP or BJP workers in Mormguao and Vasco,” said Naik.

Buffet to US: Tax me and my super-rich friends
Washington: Billionaire investor Warren Buffett urged US lawmakers to raise taxes on wealthier Americans to cut Washington’s huge budget deficit, saying the move would not dampen investments or jobs. In a New York Times opinion article, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway proposed a tax increase on Americans who make at least $ 1 million per year and an additional increase on those making $ 10 million or more.
“Our leaders have asked for ‘shared sacrifice’. But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched,” Buffett wrote.
“While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks.” The man known as the “Oracle of Omaha” said his federal tax rate was 17.4 per cent last year, while some investment managers were taxed just 15 per cent on income reaching into the billions. He then noted that the middle class is taxed up to 25 percent in its income bracket, along with “heavy” payroll taxes. In contrast Buffett recalled “far higher” taxes rates for the rich in the 1980s and 1990s, and yet nearly 40 million jobs were added from 1980 to 2000. “You know what’s happened since then, lower tax rates and far lower job creation,” he said.
“People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off.”
Americans are losing faith with congress’s ability to tackle the country’s financial woes, Buffett warned, calling for “immediate, real and very substantial” action.
A protracted partisan battle between lawmakers culminated in a last minute deal on August 2 to raise the USD 14.3 trillion US debit ceiling and narrowly avoid a US default.
“My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress,” he added. “It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

Lockerbie bomber & the British bluff
Edinburgh (Scotland): A Libyan man convicted of murdering 270 people by blowing up a passenger jet could live for several more years, a leading cancer specialist said two years after the terminally ill bomber was freed on compassionate grounds because he was close to death.
Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was released from a Scotish jail and flown back to Libya on August 20, 2009, two years ago, after prison doctors estimated he had only three months to live.
His survival has made him a propaganda asset for embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and an embarrassment for British authorities, who are facing calls to return al-Megrahi to prison if Gaddafi’s regime falls.
Al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of killing 270 people, most of them American, when New York-bound Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988.
Scottish authorities have come under attack from around the world for the decision to release him on compassionate grounds after he had served eight years of a 27-year sentence.
At the time, medical experts advising the Scottish prison service said he was close to death.
But Prof. Roger Kirby, a London prostate cancer specialist, said 59-year-old al-Megrahi is likely taking a cutting-edge hormone treatment and “could live much longer, for several more years because of this drug.”
Kirby, a consultant urologist at the Prostate Cancer Center in London, said doctors in Scotland would have been unaware of the new hormone-based therapy abiraterone, which was recently approved by the US food and Drug Administration and is still not available in Europe.

ABRACADABRA

Brits waste 9 million hours a year talking about holidays
London: Britons waste up to nine million hours a year telling workmates about their holiday experiences once they get back to work after a break, a study has found, PTI reports.
Interestingly, 17 per cent of people lie to make the stories more interesting, according to the study across nine countries by travel website 'lastminute.com'.
The Irish were the worst culprits when it came to holiday blarney, the report said.
They spent an average of 26 minutes re-living their holiday adventures and 29 percent admitted that they exaggerated their stories.
They were followed by the Germans who gave their colleagues the holiday lowdown for 25 minutes, and the Swedish who went on and on for 23 minutes, the study found.
Mark Maddock, managing director of ‘lastminute.com', was quoted by the ‘Daily Mail’ as saying, “Describing our summer holidays is a great way to re-live the experience and best the post-holiday blues. Sometimes you just can’t resist telling that story by the water cooler.”

11-yr-old girl commits suicide over cake
Rajkot: An 11-year-old girl committed suicide after her mother did not immediately entertain her demand for a cake and asked her to wait till her father returned home, the police said.
Dhruvi sampat, a class V student, hung herself from a ceiling fan using a thin bedsheet in Morbi town of Rajkot district. After the maid found her, her parents took her to the hospital where she died.
“Dhruvi was taken to a private hospital in a serious condition, where she died. Post-mortem report revealed suffocation as cause of the death,” the police said.
Preliminary investigation revealed that Dhruvi participated in the Teachers’ Day celebration in school, where she won a prize in the dance competition. The police said after she returned home, Dhruvi wanted a treat.
“Her mother did not say no to her wish. She only asked her to wait till her father comes home, Dhruvi reportedly went upstairs to her room and hanged herself.”
In another such incident in the region in August, 10-year-old Vijay Rathod from Rajkot had committed suicide by consuming pesticide tablets, apparently after his father turned down his wish for a new school uniform on the day he wanted it.


Outsourcing break-ups
Beijing: In a bid to avoid the pain of ending a relationship, some Chinese have now reportedly resorted to a unique way of breaking-up, outsourcing the responsibility to a middleman, PTI reports.
At least 40 such “break-up agents” now advertise their skills in gently splitting couples on Taobao, China’s answer to Ebay. ‘The Daily Telegraph’ online reported.
“Get rid of a difficult partner!” advertises one agent.
“Keep damage to a minimum,” assures another.
For roughly 300 Yuan, the equivalent of around 30 pounds, the relationship killers offer everything from a soft let-down by phone or an email to an active attempt to drive a wedge between lovers.
And, for those customers who opt for a “platinum” service, an agent will show up in person, perhaps with a small gift to ease the pain.
One agent, based in Zhejiang province, said he had helped around 10 couples end their romance. “We have a 100 per cent success rate or your money back,” he said.
In some cases, he added that he had managed to “apply some small techniques to create misunderstanding, or conflict between a couple and just let that seed grow slowly and naturally until there was a voluntary break-up on both sides.”
The agent said this was a 20-day package. “We create the conflict in 10 days, propose a break-up in 15 and complete the deal in 20. Some people say I have no morals but I don’t think this is a moral issue. I am not using any dirty tactics and this is just business.”
For the broken-hearted, there is consolation elsewhere on the Chinese internet, in the shape of websites such as Kaixin Fenshou Wang, or Happy Break-up, which offer forums for up to 1,000 users at any one time to share their misery the report said.

Child left alone inschool bus, dies
Beijing: A three year-old girl died of heat stroke in China as the driver and teacher didn’t notice she was still on the school bus and locked it up. The driver and a teacher were detained in Anqing city after the girl, Zhu Yan, died after being locked in the school bus for eight hours. The girl didn’t get off the school bus after the bus reached the kindergarten. The teacher and driver didn’t notice her and locked the vehicle unintentionally, reported ‘Shanghai Daily’ citing ‘Oriental Morning Post’. Zhu had passed out by the time she was found at the end of school hours.

Americans wasted 101,000 years of time on Facebook in May 2011
Washington: A newly released report has revealed that Americans spend more time than ever on Facebook. According to Nielsen, the media research and rating company, Americans spend a lot of time pursuing social networks and blogs. “Americans spend more time on Facebook than any other site,” Live Science quoted the report as saying.
According to the statistics for the month of May, the most recent month for which data had been collected, Americans spent 53.5 billion total minutes on Facebook – roughly 101,720 years and there were 140 million unique visitors to the site that month, with the average user spent 382 minutes, or 6.4 hours, browsing Facebook in May. Based on the profile of the type of Internet user who is most likely to use Facebook by the Nielsen report, the person in an Asian-American female between the age of 18 and 34, lives in New England, makes less than 50,000 dollars per year, and has at least a bachelor’s degree.