In trying to evolve, to improve the quality of the periodical, we have decided on a major departure. We have travelled 11 long years and had our share of accolades and brickbats. Most of our readers did approve our long editorial and have been generous in their approbation. However, there have been those who felt, it is too long, and that nowhere in the world, one can find such long editorial. Perhaps that is the uniqueness of I & C. Thus, from this month we shall make two parts to the editorial take, on the current and the recurrent events of the month that we just left behind. We will have a half page of a general nature with the raison d’être of the Focus and other as ‘Month in Perspective’, with distinctive highlights. Hope all will find this an interesting departure. As usual do revert with your inputs.
The media has been under attack from different quarters. With Supreme Court retired Justice Markandey Katju taking over as new Press Council Chairman debate on the 4th estate has come alive. Hence we have taken it up in Focus, the ISSUES & CONCERNS relating to the media. As normal your response is welcome.
KARNATAKA: "Find the fittest one for Lokayukta" was one of the Bangalore datelined news report quoting Karnataka Governor HR Bhardwaj. Of course there should not be any doubt on the integrity of Lokayukta, but what is the moral high ground of Governor Bhardawaj? Was he a model Governor? Isn’t he the most controversial when it came to the dignity of the office of a state Governor, unlike any of his predecessors? As a Governor, who should be a facilitator in the overall functioning of the state, HR Bhardwaj, a lawyer and a former minister at the centre, representing a political party, indulged in crass politics, which certainly undermine the dignity of this office. Of course the state government unfortunately, do not seem to learn its lessons in being above board, in its actions of commissions and omissions. There was this report "Tainted official gets plum post" and another "Bankruptcy of Morality". If the former report was on the appointment of Venkatashiva Reddy as Director of Escoms (Electricity Supply Companies) and KPTCL, the later was the comment by former Lokayukta Justice Hegde. Lokayukta police had reportedly registered a case of unaccounted assets of Rs: 12.2 crores against this Reddy. Commenting on the bankruptcy of morality in the government, Justice Hegde had asked "Could they not find any honest official for such a post? "
Somehow H.E. Hans Raj Bhardwaj, the Karnataka Governor, has an uncanny way of getting into controversy. His running battle with the BJP government at Bangalore is well known to all. He seemed to have a one point programme of ousting B S Yeddyurappa from CM’s gaddi. Now that BSY has resigned, he tried his hand at influencing an out of turn promotion for one KCV Mane, his ADC. He wanted Mane to be promoted to IPS, although ineligible. Reportedly he has tried it even earlier, when BSY was still CM. But both the time D G Police at Bangalore had rejected the recommendation on the ground of ineligibility. Why is this HRB like this? We have not read any such news of from other gubernatorial office. The report was titled as "Karnataka GUV in soup over ADC’s promotion".
The metro-in Bangalore need to be celebrated, but the media is already saying the ‘Euphoria fading’. No marks for intelligence. Everything new and novel shall have its days in the sun. But it can’t be there all the while. But this metro shall be one of the best things to have happened to the cyber city. Surely nobody can think of break-even in matter of weeks. It may take even years. There were lot of people who wrote the obituary of ‘Namma Metro’, even before it started operating.
Its only a small distance, the Metro is covering at present. But when it is completed, it will revolutionalise the whole public transportation of Bangalore. Of course, the mind set of an average 4 wheel or two wheel driver has to change, to be little more accommodative to the change that is happening. If the private vehicle users pocket their ego of not using their vehicle and are prepared for some little discomfort of being one with the rest, surely the utilization of metro will increase sizeably. There was this interesting story in London’s ‘Daily Mail’. An Indian lady Sanyogitha Mayer was travelling in the London Underground with her husband, a handsome English gentleman got in at Westminster and admired greatly their 3 month old child saying "your baby is really beautiful". But this lady while thanking the gentleman, who stood next to her, didn’t know, that it was Mr David Cameron, the British Prime Minister travelling by the London Underground to save time. She had to ask her husband, who told her so. Then she gets little closure to Mr Cameron and asks this ignorant question "Excuse me, are you the Prime Minister?" So if British Prime Minister can travel by the English version of metro, surely lesser mortals of Bangalore can do it as well.
TAMIL NADU: Kudankulam Nuclear power plant is on stand still, despite everyone who matters, including AJP Abdul Kalam, a missile man, a scientist and a former President of India, telling the agitating, not necessarily agitated, people, that everything is OK with the plant.
Post Fukushima disaster, there is an increased awareness of the possible dangers of Nuclear Power projects. But this awareness is only on the surface. One needs to understand the issue at Fukushima in its totality and depth. In the ultimate analysis, what happened in Chernobyl has not happened in Fukushima. Japanese, unlike anybody else are not the compromising type, when it comes to the safety of its people. It is true that all eventualities, as a fallout of an accident, cannot be foreseen with best of brain and preparation and hence some suffering and damages would have happened which could also be due to human failures. But the fact remains that the loss has been very minimal. Hence in the overall development scene, of a great demand and serious shortage of supply of power, the only choice is Nuclear, as the one possible source with the least amount of risks and environmental damages. Here what needs to be understood and appreciated is the stage is set for the plant to go critical and stopping at this stage is not right at all. There could have been opposition earlier, but has not happened. Why is it happening so late in the day? Are there external factors which is pushing things beyond control? If so, who are they and what is the objective, and agenda if any? And comes the news "TN churches under police scanner", informing that "Catholic priests are being booked for allegedly misusing the place of worship for ‘thought-funding’ the anti-nuke agitation" writes Dravida Thambi from Chennai.
GOA: Governor of Uttarkhand, Margaret Alva, the lady politician with the biggest-‘bindi,’ an Indian cultural sign of a married women, was in the news some weeks ago. While attending a public function in Kochi, she suddenly took ill and was hospitalized. She is known to be a forthright person and had faced difficulties for speaking inconvenient truth in her party forums. Thus the leadership had decided to accommodate her in some gubernatorial post. To rehabilitate all ‘trouble makers’ as Governors is the done thing. It was hunky dory for the lady until this report from Panaji, hit the headline, "Goa land scam: Lens on role of Alva’s sons". Among many political heavyweights who were beneficiaries of this reported land allotment scandal, is the company Meditech Pvt.Ltd of junior Alva duo. A plot of about 67500sq.mtrs was allotted to the duo some 5 years ago, when Maggie was the AICC member incharge of Goa, which has remained unutilised, despite the terms of allotment being prompt utilization. Of course the report does not talk about the amount of money the state has lost, if any. Yes, the mere delay in utilization may not be a big deal, but it could be the inappropriate gratification in terms of low rate per sq. mtr that could be disturbing mom Alva. If it is true, then options are clear, return the land and continue as Governor. She could be an apolitical Governor and therefore should continue.
DELHI: CBI is the creation of Indian Parliament by democratic means of enactment. May be initially it must have worked on some democratic principles. But as time passed, this Central Bureau of Investigation degenerated into Convenient Bureau of Investigation. Or else what is the logic of opposing bail of some and not opposing the bail of some other in the 2G scam case! It was prima facie illogical for CBI to take different stands on different people. They have to perforce treat all accused equally. By not opposing the bail pleas of DMK supremo’s daughter Kanimozhi and for others related to her, CBI has exposed itself. If opposition cries hoarse in the whole episode its only logical and reasonable. That the Supreme Court publicly questioned the CBI rationale and did not grant bail for Kanimozhi and others is an open certificate for its biased and unfair approach to the case. Hope CBI will make honest attempt to save its name and integrity instead proving L K Advani right again and again. "They were only asked to bend, but they crawled," was the famous observation by L K Advani, commenting on emergency excesses by the government agencies during those emergency years.
This country, our Mother India or Mera Bharath Mahan, suffers from serious pettiness of influential members of civil society, the so-called opinion makers. Whether it was the T.V shows or press conferences or interviewing by journos on the beat, these opinion makers did not contribute positively to the Anna Hazare anti-corruption movements. They always tried to highlight the negative aspects rather than appreciating the positive aspect. The negativity basically stemmed from the small mindedness of these opinion makers. All of India recognizes the endemic corruption that has affected the very vitals of our governance. All believe, it has to be fought, and fought vigorously and with commitment. Anna Hazare has been active since quite sometime in his Ralegan Siddhi. Marathi print media took him to all parts of Maharashtra. His sincerity and commitment was visible and transparent. In a country like India with 25 official languages he had to be lifted on a different platform with languages that would reach all through the technology and other means and to have funds to make things happen. This India Against Corruption which had some 25 core members was responsible to take Anna Hazare on the national level. Of this core committee, 2 members, Arvind Kejriwal (AK) and Kiran Bedi (KB) are the sine quo non for it to remain alive and kicking. Of course the contribution of AK is far greater than KB. He is young, highly educated, intelligent, articulative, technically very savvy and has undoubtedly caught the imagination of the masses. Lot of Indians can easily identify themselves with him for his transparent simplicity. For Anna Hazare to have made common cause with AK and stand by him despite many pinpricks by the politicians and other NGOs is a clear measure of his trust in this young man. Time and again AK has clearly spelt out his desire not to enter the political arena as a contestant. He deserves all the help and support of every right thinking Indian who has only Indians’ betterment in his heart. He is an IRS and so is KB an IPS, both of them are known to have a sound knowledge of law and constitution and hence none could corner either of them in their one point programme of derailing the duo . Besides media and people like Diggy joker, for Swami Agnivesh to question publicly, AK’s financial integrity is to pour oil to the burning fire. It is a measure of the AK’s integrity that the humongous contribution that flowed to the IAC (India Against Corruption) of almost Rs: 3 crores have been meticulously accounted for and put in the public domain as a measure of abundant openness. Of course, in the event, not only both AK and KB have remained unscathed, the opposite side has reduced itself as a bunch of jokers. Yes in the larger national interest both AK & KB must remain with Anna Hazare and his movement for their selfless association with the cause they hold dear to their heart. Hail AH/AK/KB combine.
Lot of people including Justice Santosh Hegde have probably disapproved the 'so-called' political stand of opposing Congress in Hissar by Anna Group, saying why Congress is being pilloried, when all are in the same boat. It, obviously, was a good question. But Arvind Kejriwal (AK) who was at the receiving end for this so-called political stand, had a reasonable and sound explanation which lot of main stream media did not carry. This selective approach is the in thing in the print media. The other day around mid-Nov, Headline Today (HT) was interviewing AK. Among many other questions was this so-called political stand at Hissar. AK’s answers were very clear and sensible. Responding to the anchor he asked whether BJP could get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed (JLB), or whether SP of Mulayam Singh could get the bill passed, or whether BSP of Mayawathi could get this JLB passed, despite being unhappy being counter questioned, the HT anchor admitted ‘NO’, as answer to all three questions. Then AK asked the final question, can Congress get this Jan Lokpal Bill passed, if they wished? Answer was an emphatic ‘Yes’ from the crowd, where he had asked these questions publicly and mainstream media didn’t publicise. Even the HT anchor had to perforce admit that only Congress can pass this bill because of numbers in the Loksabha. Thus, AK continues, if this JLB is passed, then there will be Lokayukta in all states and you can automatically check corruption at all state levels, whether in Hissar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, or any other state, hence it is the Congress which needs to be pressured politically to force them to deliver which was stuck in the pipeline for over 40 years. The explanation was unambiguous and complete. So its Jai Ho Anna Team!
After 16 years of India having granted Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan, the present leadership in Islamabad woke up to the WTO commitment and granted the reciprocal MFN status to India. This move was roundly condemned by Jehadi groups of Pakistan. And our Commerce Minister Anand Sharma says "It will give impetus to trade", and a major newspaper carries the above headline. That MFN status shall improve the trade, even the street corner shopkeeper would know, it does not need a Commerce Minister to say so. As a minister he should articulate long term benefits and improved people to people contact for the overall growth of the region and people. Why our leaders, or more importantly our ministers, are so banal? It is another matter that Jehadi groups have continued to oppose the move.
Seeing SM Krishna on TV screen briefing media, makes a very sorry picture. Is it his age, or his ill preparation or lack of guidance from Foreign Secretary, the picture he presents of himself and therefore of India, is pathetic. In a five minutes briefing, he looks down on the paper more than 25 times. If it is age, that is causing the problems to concentrate and grasp, he must quit and gracefully call it a day. Why suffer ignominy? In comparison look at the young lady foreign minister of Pakistan, she is not only sharp and crisp but also carries herself with elan. In fact all those Pakistani ministers, who come on TV shows, which are seen in India, they all look youthful. Something Indians need to think, we have far too many geriatric club members, both in Parliament and ministries.
India is a funny place when it comes to what money, power and connections can do. Here is a killer in cold blood, given life sentence, comes out on 30 days parole to see his ailing mother. While he was caught by the police misbehaving in a bar in Delhi’s Ashoka Hotel, his ‘ailing’ mother was seen on camera hosting cricket matches. This was in 2009. Now this killer convict, the infamous Manu Sharma, believe it or not, is again out on parole, reportedly to attend the wedding of his brother. Delhi police cleared it with a rider, not to visit night clubs!!! And the court didn’t blink. Indian jails must be full of people convicted or otherwise, how many really get a parole? Surely all of them would have mothers, who could be ailing at times, and family marriages. How do they cope?
Decision of the government of India in re-activating the Arunachal Air Base is in right perspective. In the circumstances of Chinese intransigencies of misplaced assertiveness, sneaky intrusions and making unexpected noises on border issues, this is an appropriate development. Located at the tri junction of India, China and Myanmar in the Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh, Vijaynagar Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) shall help in quick mobilisation of men and materials. In international conflict resolution, the response time is of paramount importance. Hence all at military head quarters have to be complimented for this important move to send relevant message to our high strung neighbour. No wonder, Chinese media has attributed to ‘increased boldness’ on the part of India in dealing with China, especially after the refusal of India not to reschedule the Buddhist conference in New Delhi where Dalai Lama is expected to take part. For Chinese discomfort, the date of the visit of Chinese special representative on border talk also happened to be in the same week as the conference, and they accuse India of purposely keeping it to-gether.
MAHARASHTRA: Like everything that government in India does, whether state or federal, there is an element of discrimination between rich and poor, powerful and powerless, well connected and otherwise. Go to any police station across India, you would realise. Here comes another sample and the print media head line tells it all "Haj VIP quota is bad religious practice: SC".
Supreme Court judges were hearing the Central Govt. petition challenging an earlier Bombay High Court order. In 2011, India was allocated a quota of 170,491 for Haj. Out of this 118239 were allotted to Haj Committee, 45491 to Private Tour Operators (PTO) and Central Govt retained a quota of 6761 pilgrims.
We all know, it is the discretionary power of the government as one of the serious source of corruption. So even in religious matters, they wanted to retain that power. After distributing these seats to their friends in the corridors of power they had a balance of 800 seats. These 800 seats could have gone waste and PTOs approached the government and having denied they sought Bombay High Court help, who ordered to release these seats to PTOs, and as usual the govt. challenged the order in Supreme Court and got the rap. Apex Court not only called the government quota ‘a bad religious practice’ it even questioned the very grounds for having government quota. While saying "it is not really Haj", Apex Court also said "it would oversee the Haj policy for 2012". Our governments do not seem to learn lessons despite repeated court interventions on many issues.
One of the interesting development in the mega buck wheeling dealing cricket world was the allegations of match fixing by a cricketer of yester years, Vinod Kambli (VK). Surprisingly the whole issue died down without making even a ripple instead of the possibility of a typhoon. Because, the man, VK is, to-day, not a huge success in the eyes of the world, not made big money like his childhood friend and cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar. Beginning with Mohd. Azaruddin, who rehabilitated himself as a Member of Parliament because of his Muslim identity, courtesy the biggest political party of the country, everybody damned him. Strangely our 24x7 media, running after sensations, remained quite, after the first 24 hours. May be small people do not speak truth! the whole truth and nothing but truth. Neither do they make news. Media has no time for men of no-importance. In the light of both ICC and BCCI refusing to play the ball, former Pakistani cricketers have stepped into the arena. Among many unsolicited responses, here is the quotable one. Former test player Sarfaraz Nawaz reportedly stated that both ICC and BCCI, after the recent spot fixing trial, where scared that more scandals would come out if they investigated the claims by Kambli. "Don’t forget Kambli is talking about a match where India was captained by a man, Mohd. Azaruddin, who was later banned for life, for match fixing and yet the Indians are not willing to take the issue seriously. It shows their double standards" he had reportedly said, while reiterating that 'why should BCCI/ICC or Sharad Pawar, more particularly worried, to investigate the charge, if there was no hanky-panky in the match'?
Yes, its indeed very strange that even after the union Sports Minister Maken demanded a probe, Sharad Pawar pushed the issue under the carpet, saying the allegations are irresponsible. That brings Sachin Tendulkar, the Bharat Ratna aspirant, to break his silence, and that of his teammate Sanjay Manjrekar. So in India even to tell the truth, or rather to be taken as truth, what you have said, you need to be powerful, by money, or politics or connection. That is indeed so very sad.
Like the Mehsana Court Verdict is the case with the 2006, Malegaon blast accused. After 5 years of incarceration, 7 accused were released on bail. It is indeed a sad situation that many a time investigating police take people into custody based purely on suspicion, but then forget about it for years. Investigating agency, has great responsibility to clear things as quickly as possible. If there is no evidence, disposal of case at least for the purpose of bail has to considered priority. After all they are humans, you shouldn’t detain them for far too long. Look at 2G scam accused, how fast they got the bail, so why 5 years for these Malegaon men had to rot in the prison? Because they are poor and Muslims?
HARYANA: Sometime ago there was this report "Villagers resent non-starting of cricket academy by Sehwag". The report informed that Virendra Sehwag, an Indian cricketer, from Jhajjar in Haryana was allotted some 23 acres of land in the village – Silani Kesho, for building a cricket academy and school. The cricket millionaire built an international school first and academy’s fate is not known. Krishna Drishti Educational Society’s, The Sehwag International School is already operating, from Nursery to Class VII, the report informs. "The school is charging hefty fees and minting money. Where is the benefit to the budding sports talent?" reportedly asked a villager, and lamented commercial interest have taken precedence over sports.
Yes as usual its always one way traffic. How many sportsmen have been benefited by the system? And how many have returned the favour back to the system? In India, there are thousands of sportsmen, past and present, who earned name and fame and big money. What have they given back to the society? is a question that rankles. Of all the sports, cricket created many multi-crorepathi cricketers, but sadly their concern, for those less privileged and needing help, have always remained abysmal. A few do some charities. But it is possible, to make a huge difference, if a group of senior cricketers joined together to make the difference nationally, not just in Silani Kesho.
UTTAR PRADESH: So you have a Sanjiv Bhatt in UP as well! IPS officer Devendra Dutt Mishra, showed gumption to take on the all powerful Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The print media headline "IPS officer-blunt on UP corruption-branded mentally unstable" conveyed the level a govt. can stoop. For the power that be, it is always easier this way, with pliant medical ‘yes’ men, who unfortunately belong to the noblest profession of doctors. And it was the same community certified him alright to go home after few days in mental hospital. After speaking to the press about the corruption in his Fire Deptt., DIG Devendra Dutt Mishra was forcibly taken and admitted to the Trauma Centre of Chatrapathi Shahuji Maharaj Medical University and psychiatrists prepared a report on him giving a certificate ‘Mentally unstable’. So this is what you get for being upright and upfront, and we have jokers everywhere masquerading as ‘Professionals’. A very sad aspect of Indian governance or can we call it ‘mis-governance’.
Come elections, promises from politicians go sky high. They almost try to give moon when they can’t even replace even a tube light in time when it goes off. At any given time, anywhere in India you will find streets with lamp posts without street light. It is a common sight, besides of course burning street lights well into the day. Of course, good part of India without any electrical connections in the rural villages away from the high-ways is a sad story of our promises not kept, elections after elections. And now comes this impossible promise of BJP president Nitin Gadkari. "BJP will create 50 lakh jobs in UP, says Gadkari", was the report. Why politicians bluff wholesale? If he can create even 5 lakh jobs it will be an achievement worth singing. It is these outlandish promises that have eroded the trust in these political parties and caused irrepairable trust deficit in politicians and their parties.
GUJARAT: Conviction by the Special Court, of those accused of Sardarpura massacre of 2002 is a very positive development. Special court set up at the behest of Apex Court has convicted 31 people for burning 33 person in the aftermath of the post Godhra train torching. It augers well for our polity that justice can be done in cases of mob violence, which more often than not gets diluted due to varieties of reasons like want of sufficient evidence, partly due to the inherent departmental infirmities and police partisanship. It is not always easy to convict group of people. However under the guidance of Supreme Court constituted Special Investigation Team did a commendable job. The judgement is also a serious reflection on the Gujarat Government, which apparently had failed to maintain law and order, due to the political patronage attackers probably enjoyed. Here it needs be noted that the 1984 anti-Sikh riot, probably far bigger in terms of people killed, is yet to have a satisfactory closure, even after 26 years. It certainly reflects the failure of Delhi govt. So also non-intervention of apex court in speedier disposal of cases. Indians of all hues must recognise that violence is no answer to the violence and mob violence of every kind has to be put down with iron hand. There have been cases of riots in Delhi, Bhiwandi, Moradabad, Bhagalpur, Malliana and other places before Sardarpura in 2002. If we are shedding tears, our selective amnesia should not come in the way of genuinely feeling the pang of pain. Idea of India necessarily means oneness in pain. Hope the judgement from Mehsana rekindles the ebbing confidence of justice seekers in our polity.
WORLD: The story that American Sergeant Gibbs had hunted innocent Afghans for sports and had cut their fingers to keep them as souvenir, is not only shocking but also sickening. We thought Idi Amin’s era was over long ago. But these acts of this white man could pale Amin as a barbarian. And come to think of it that this Gibbs called his victims ‘savages’ when he himself was cruelest and deserved capital punishment without mercy. But the military court in Washington gave him a prison term of 10 years with parole eligibility. This is the biggest democracy of the world for you, take it or leave it, and they call themselves leader of the democratic world. So aren’t they only encouraging some radical group to have an a/c to settle with the U.S?
So we are 7,000,000,000 homo sapiens on the earth, in the civilized world, and surely crossed few thousands by the time the sun was set on 1st Nov 2011.
Yes numbing numbers they are. While the numbers will only increase the demand for resources, which are sadly not keeping pace with the rising numbers, there is an urgent need to stabilize this number at least in the short run. The matter of concern is not only the resource crunch, but the pattern of consumption of rich people too, is an issue to be worried about. Of course, population per se, can be viewed from different developmental angles, but from the view of better distribution of national wealth, it is always good to have less numbers for sharing the national pie. It is true that China is facing shortage of employable hands because of its one child policy. But then development can be so designed to cater to the available resources, and this will ensure better human development. Besides, it is always better to be in shortage of human resources rather than suffer the shortage of food, shelter and clothing. Once you have a growing number, you will have only problems in hand, and problems shall only grow. Look at Europe, where Human Development Index are the best in all countries. All countries in the west are in the High Human Development group only because they are experiencing decreasing-population, unlike third world countries, where overwhelming majority are in Low Human Development group like countries of Indian sub continent and Africa, which is experiencing an ever rising population. Therefore reining the galloping number should be seen as a priority in the larger interest of the world, unless you want to provide cheap labour to the rich and powerful.