Friday, December 9, 2011

Month In Perspective

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’ĂȘtre 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.


The other day in Mangalore, we had the pleasure or do we say, displeasure or plainly, an occasion to meet a senior journalist, or at least that is what he claimed non-challently. He had whole lot of complaints against everything Indian. He even said, that Pakistan had motorways and that both Pakistan and Bangladesh are above that of India in Human Development Index (HDI) compiled by United Nations Development Programme. He also told about the problems that he is having with the ‘state BJP and RSS’, but wasn’t clear how and why. Since he had whole lot of complaints, we didn’t bother to know why and how of the Sangh Parivar’s alleged pin pricks. But he appeared very emphatic that secularism in the country is in danger and that Christians are under continuous attack.
Of course, just the other day, to be specific on 4th Nov., print media carried a news item that some miscreants had attacked the St. Alphonsa church in Mangalore. As usual Sangh Pariwar outfits were the whipping boys. And according to a section of the media, the fellow, one Shibu was allegedly involved in this attack. Mind you, only one person was found without his clothes on, but his inside ‘chaddi’, the brief, was of ‘saffron’ colour, informed the print media. Fortunately police did not corroborate that this Shibu’s underwear was of saffron colour. But then it has always been the practice of print media to condemn saffron brigade for all wrong doings on churches and masjids, without batting an eye lid. While I have no way of refuting their accusation, what needs to be highlighted here is, that there was only one person, and reportedly his family had become Christians some 20 years ago. But media didn’t ask, if this Shibhu is a Christian or a Hindu? It was not a group activity. Could it be that, if he has not become a Christian, are there any reasons for this or is he upset that he is different from his people or vice versa. Some in the media even speculated about his being found with no clothes on. These are questions needing appropriate answers. He is a Malayaali settled in Mangalore. Most importantly why was he without any clothes on and that too behind the alter? Media didn’t ask these questions in their haste to fix Sangh Pariwar. Of course this is not to give a clean chit to these Sangh Pariwar outfits. Surely it has its own share of mischief makers. But our media is in great hurry to write the obituary of saffron brigade, just like this senior journalist. He was very upset when we retorted that those reports are distorted. He appeared very upset and said ‘you sound like an ultra RSS’. ‘We have nothing to do with RSS, but the mainstream media is not evenhanded, more often they do not go after the truth. They go after what sells, and sensation is what sells’, we had to interrupt, since he was very vituperative. Of course I am very junior in the profession and did not have his ‘high’ standing, but I had to remind him how biased is the media and how media men do not give a damn to it. I took him straight back in time, 1998 to be precise, to Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh, where reportedly some nuns were physically assaulted (some how I am not comfortable to use the four letters word myself). The first report appeared that men of Sangh Pariwar ‘as usual’ are the perpetrators of the crime and the whole media went 'hammer & tong' to tell the world that India is a bad place for these vulnerable female nuns. Of course, international media, no less sensational, including Amnesty International went ballistic. India was roundly damned, and believe it or not, even Pakistan termed Indians as ‘barbarians’. But what Indian media and by extension international media did not tell the world was the findings of a group of Legislative members from the southern Indian state of Kerala. George Fernandes, one of the tallest of Indians, in the socio-political domain, has lambasted the media for its selective amnesia and dumbness for not publishing the truth of this entire episode, post Kerala politicians’ visit to Jhabua. Mr Fernandes informed that the report of the Kerala team had mentioned about the men of tribal Christians group having committed this heinous crime and the Indian media strangely did not feel bad about the earlier report of lies and whole lies and kept its mouth shut on this report. Strangely our senior journo had nothing to say when I said that George Fernandes is not corrupt and Tehelka had bluffed and couldn’t prove anything against him. But he soon disposed us off not wanting to continue, since he confronted unusual resistance to his many entrenched views, including that of Reservations.
According to his own version, this gentleman is a journalist with over 50 years of being one, and he had conveyed in this brief interaction, which way the wind is blowing. Does this indicate a journalistic mind set, refusing to correct itself?
On returning to office, the first thing we did was to log UNDP rankings in HDI. We knew it very well that although India is poorly placed among low HDI group, we are better than both Pakistan and Bangladesh. That is what we found. In the latest report, India ranked 134 with Pakistan @ 145 followed immediately by Bangladesh. The senior journalist had simply bluffed as most people, who talk to the gallery, indulge. People like these think poorly of their audience. Can we call this arrogance of apparent success?
"Many people, have started saying that the media have become irresponsible and wayward and need to be reined in" was the part of an article "Media and issues of responsibility", purported to be an edited text of a speech by former Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju, who is also the new chairman of the Press Council of India.
The precedence of having a Supreme Court retired justice as the Chairman of Press Council of India may be a good idea for its own sake. But the press and media fraternity are apparently very upset with the no holds barred sweeping observations by the new PCI chairman.
According to Justice Katju, "The Indian media display certain defects. These should ideally be addressed and corrected in a democratic manner. But if the media prove incorrigible, harsh measures may be called for". The fact of the matter is, media does display certain defects and the so-called self correction has failed. When the democratic opportunity to correct itself did not bear fruit and media has ‘proved incorrigible’ as Justice Katju termed it, ‘harsh measures’ as he sees it, may have become imperative.
One of the basic purpose of the media is to provide truthful and objective information to the general public, for them to be of help to form a rational opinion, of things happened and reported, or on issues of relevance to people at large, which is the precondition of any democratic way of life. But, asks Justice Katju "Are the Indian media performing this role properly?" According to him there are some serious defects. Distortion or twisting of facts are routinely carried out without batting an eye lid, only to make it sensational.
Justice Katju gives an example and I quote "Supreme Court judges have to disclose their assets and liabilities. Against the liabilities column, Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra had written ‘two daughters to be married’. Strictly speaking it was not necessary to mention this because liabilities mean legal liabilities, for example housing loan, car loan etc. Justice Mishra’s intention was obviously to say that she would have to spend on her daughters' future marriages. Justice Mishra never said, nor intended to say, that her daughters were liabilities".
"And a leading English news paper published on its front page a photograph of Justice Mishra with the caption ‘Supreme Court judge says that her daughters are liabilities’. This was a distorted and fallacious item of news published with the obvious intention of creating sensation" unquote.
Justice Katju was only making some obvious inference on the state of our print media. There are far too many instances of distortion especially when it comes to reporting on attacks on places of worship. Most papers give an impression of promoting a certain kind of divide in the society with truth being the victim. Even-handedness was never their virtue. They pander to a section of the society. They hype some news and underplay some others, without being fair. More often than not, all bomb blasts, have made the media point to a particular section of society, based on their input without waiting for confirmation. This approach have always helped the divide to widen. This is certainly a negative development.
Justice Katju talks about the ‘Paid News’ menace. According to him, ‘in 2009 elections, it was a scandal’. While it is the truth, that during election time, print media is used on a big scale by deploying political friends organizing meetings where candidates are generously spoken about to influence gullible voters with full print media coverage for a price. But the larger truth is, it is not just election related news which are paid for, to cater to a larger reading crowd, but even social events which are generally covered by the reporters on the beat, are having a price tag these days. At least one specific event where I was privy to this happening can be recounted for the benefit of readers. It was the yearly festival of a temple in a Mangalore suburb. It was managed by a retired High School teacher, whom we were enlisting as one of our reader for free. As a policy we give all retired teachers/lecturers, who liked to read, our monthly, free of cost. But this gentleman was insisting that he wants to pay and on our part, we insisted that this is our way of saying ‘thank you for your life long service as a teacher'. Then the phone rings. Other side enquired ‘if the earlier night’s coverage of the events in the temple was good’. The teacher administrator answered affirmatively. Then starts the payment talk, and haggling follows – too much - too less – kind of stuff and settles for an amount. The administrator opens up, on the tele talk, to us saying "I want to pay you and you wouldn’t take, but here they have to cover the event for free, but demand money". It is obvious this money or similar deals are not official, at the lower level this booty is distributed. Some big time moneyed businessmen – social workers, with an agenda to remain in public domain, cultivate reporters by up-front payments and by partying & gifts, so that all events where they are involved, are prominently covered. These are private arrangements with working journalists and the owner of the paper does not become richer. Of course, as is the case with all issues, here too there are some very principled and value based journalists. Unfortunately their number is slowly dwindling. But the rot has set in, like it or not.
And comes another piece of disquiet of high-strung media men. Prof R. Vaidyanathan, of IIM, Bangalore writes "Media Credibility. What is that?" and we quote "There are two recent events pertaining to media which have created some storm in their tea….. sorry, whisky glasses. One is the report on paid news, at last released by the Press Council and generally ignored by the Main Stream Media, both print and electronic. The other is the envelopes distributed among journalists in Satna, to cover Advani’s rally against corruption. There was consternation among some reporters. I do not know if the consternation was for the meagre amount of Rs. 500/- in the said envelopes!" unquote. So, the cat-is-out. Even to cover anti-corruption rally you have to corrupt the 4th estate with a bribe!
Among the 4 defects that Justice Katju spoke of, the ‘Non issues as real issues’ take the cake. In fact this is where mainstream media, whether print or electronic, have comprehensively failed. We reproduce the entire part of what he said on this count. We quote "Media often portray non-issues as real issues, while the real issues are sidelined. The real issues in India are economic, that is, the terrible economic conditions in which 80 per cent of our people are living, the poverty, unemployment, lack of housing and medical care and so on. Instead of addressing these real issues, the media often try to divert the attention of people to non-issues. Such as, that the wife of a film actor has become pregnant, whether she will give birth to a single child or to twins, and so on. Are these the real issues facing the nation?"
"At a Lakme India Fashion Week event, there were 512 accredited journalists covering the event in which models were displaying cotton garments while the men and women who grew that cotton were killing themselves at a distance of an hour’s flight from Nagpur, in the Vidharbha region. Nobody told that story, except one or two journalists, locally."
"Is this a responsible way for the Indian media to function? Should the media turn a Nelson’s eye to the harsh economic realities facing over 75 per cent of our people, and concentrate on some ‘Potemkin villages’ where all is glamour and show biz? Are not the Indian media behaving much like Queen Marie Antoinette, who said that if the people had no bread, they should eat cake?"
"No doubt, sometimes the media mention farmers’ suicides, the rise in the price of essential commodities, and so on, but such coverage is at most 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the total. The bulk of the coverage goes to showing the life of film stars, pop music, fashion parades, cricket and astrology." unquote.
Thus what Justice Katju accuses the media, whether print or electronic, is very real and there is no exaggeration at all. Of course, there are always black sheeps who would not take kindly to any harsh statements of truth. Hence the umbrage, a local daily from New Delhi took, was not surprising, and Justice Katju reportedly gave a fitting repartee, while accepting that ‘not entire media is mischievous’. The newspaper had written "The PCI chairman ought to know that he is dealing with a respected profession, not a bunch of delinquents", and Justice Katju had retorted "Do you not think you should let the public decide whether you are a respected profession or not, instead of putting the badge on yourselves". It is indeed very true, that a majority of scribes think themselves as superior human beings. And believe it no, comes the news that the Indian Broadcast Editors’ Association issued 10 guidelines on how the birth of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s first child should be covered by TV channels. Isn’t this some earth shattering news!! Isn’t media barking up the wrong tree? This is how our TV channels have programes of Amitabh Bachchan’s birthday on 11th Oct., when the greatest Indian after Mahatma Gandhi too was born on the same day. And most Indians do not even know. Courtesy the media, this is the historical perspective we live in. Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) was born on Oct. 11, 1902.
Stories of media going berserk are dime a dozen, all across the country with regional and vernacular language papers taking the cake where sensation mongering is the principal policy of circulation, and titillation hungry readers, lap it up.
So what responsibility are we talking about? In fact a senior journo from Chennai even called the new PCI chairman Justice Katju as of ‘poor intellectual level’. That was the opening remark in the article ‘Musings on the media in the dock’ in The Hindu. That was like telling one’s father that ‘I am an Oxon from Oxford and you are only an ox’. That was indeed in poor taste. That is the kind of freedom our journos are looking for.
Yes, the democratic way of conflict resolution should be the in thing. But the above comment on PCI chairman is a bad beginning. You don’t start with a pre conditioned mind. The fact is Indian media is not in good health. While palliative care is a necessary precondition, antibiotics should be an essential concomitant. Hope there is no impasse and both approach the issue with maturity and open mind.



He who hath, shall be given
Prof. B. M. Hegde,

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
The Dalai Lama
India has millions starving. Our food stock has been all time high. Most of that precious food is rotting in open storage places, if already not been stolen by greedy business people because the Governments have no storage space. The godowns that they had rented had been returned to their owners. One of the MNC consultants appointed by GOI recently advised that they are not economically viable any more! India has the largest number of Nutritional Immune Deficiency Syndromes (NIDS) among children- more than 67 million in all. This is much higher than all the Sub-Saharan countries put together-their total is about 42 million. Our children die almost daily in thousands. Hardly 50 kilometers away from India’s commercial capital city of Mumbai, in a small Adivasi village of Jamsar, children die every day of starvation. The farmers in many states are committing suicides, thanks to our Government’s new economic policies, formulated by some of the top "professors" from London School and Harvard. They are slowly pushing the country to the consumer society based on the "I-owe-you" economic philosophy. How I wish they had studied the ground realities of true Indian economy of the poor?
Our present economic policies could only be termed as richonomics-economics of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. While funds are flowing like water for building SEZs, Malls, and highways and byways, they have no resources to build food storage warehouses! That is not their priority in their economic policy which works on the principle of "He who hath, shall be given." Thanks to their policies, the rich have become richer and they are also immune to many of the societal rules that govern the poor. While the rich have become richer, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has not only widened, the purchasing capacity of the poor segment has gone down significantly. While the new Industrial tycoons get all kinds of incentives like tax rebate, free power and water etc, the poor farmer has to pay through his nose for his daily needs with the ever decreasing market value for his produce. Poverty, in addition, is a double edged weapon. While poverty is the womb of all diseases, the poor are also robbed of their daily wage earning that keeps their pot boiling when they fall ill. The end result is that the poor pay for their poverty with their own lives.
This is so in every other sector of the richonomics. When one falls ill one has to seek the mercy of our corporate hospitals which also run on richonomics. The failed American so called "Health Insurance," which many of our powers that be think is a great solution to the problem, will only add to the woes of the hapless patients who are not in the rich bracket. When once the hospital realizes that the bakra (the patient) has insurance they use all their gadgets on the patient to get the best possible diagnosis, the latter in itself has become a disease now. The high end, mostly useless, treatments are used to palliate the problems. Scientifically, the disease era has come to an end, almost. Mary Tinnetti and her colleague, Stead, in their recent paper in the American Journal of Medicine, have shown how dangerous is the disease (diagnosis) concept: "The time has come to abandon disease as the focus of medical care. The changed spectrum of health, the complex interplay of biological and non-biological factors, the ageing population, and the inter-individual variability in health priorities render medical care that is centered on the diagnosis and treatment of individual diseases at best out of date and at worst harmful. A primary focus on disease may inadvertently lead to under-treatment, overtreatment, or mistreatment." I get to see the ravages of this system almost daily.
Be that as it may, let us confine ourselves to this insurance monster. I was once an arbitrator between a philanthrope who had insured his whole village at very hefty premium and the company. Most of the claims in the following year were rejected by the company. It was my thankless job to try and find out if the rejections were legal as well as ethical. One case will illustrate the point I am making although one sparrow does not announce the arrival of summer. A poor farmer had a small nick in
his skin of the foot from the plough. When he went to the hospital, they realised that he was insured. He was promptly admitted there and all the tests that they could do were carried out on him ranging from urine analysis to ECG, echo etc. Then they took him to the theatre for skin grafting. The Insurance company branch manager, who happened to be a trained Vet in his previous avatar, rejected the whole claim saying that a skin graft is never done for a fresh small wound! Rightly so. The bill was quite big.
If the farmer had kept quiet the wound, in most cases, would have healed in a week with some conventional old granny’s methods. Maximum, he might have needed a tetanus shot. Even that is of dubious value according to the present science. This is only the tip of the ice berg as the hospital in question was rural and they did not have any other facility. In a larger corporate hospital, the patient would have ended up with a bypass surgery, as most normal (even young) people have coronary artery blocks which keep them healthy. A rare person who does not have a block is given some method to create a block to keep him alive-preconditioning the heart muscle! This is the reason why most American HMOs have gone broke! We have to repeat that here for the sake of our richonomics.
We have the best Laissez Faire global economy here, thanks to our professors. Adam Smith, the Patron Saint of Global economy had this to say. "The vile maxim of all times is to have everything for us and nothing for others. This has been so in all kinds of governments from Royalty, to aristocracy, plutocracy, dictatorship, democracy, communism" and also the type of demonocracy that we have in India. But, he cautions us in the next sentence where he says that no country could ever be happy and prosperous where a large segment of its population does not know where its next meal is coming from. We get our advisors from Oxbridge and Harvard but not from our Indian villages. We have Nobel Laureates to advise us when we have people like Manusukhbhai Prajapathi in a Gujarat Village who has innovated a refrigerator without electricity (mitti cool), pressure cooker, non-stick thava, water filter and, many other useful house hold tools in his own home laboratory after failing to make the grade at 10th class, only from clay, coming as he does from a potter’s family. He is being honored from all countries abroad and his tools are sold all over but not encouraged by our richonomics experts. This village boy should get his FRS, Nobel and what have you. He is the best candidate to head our CSIR. Who cares, though? None of our big laboratories has done any refutative innovative research to date. That very much applies to medical research organizations. They could effectively block good research and thinking using their powerful tool of peer review and linear thinking. Prajapathi has taken knowledge forwards in science and even in technology. Karl Popper would have been too happy to know Prajapathi as he was sure that "knowledge advances NOT by repeating known facts but by REFUTING false dogmas." The filth has spread to all other areas of human endeavour in our country where ethics has been given a go by and truth exists in its absence only. We better change our flag insignia as Anritha meva jayathe: na satyam!
Our time honored economic policies of yester years would suffice to take India forwards. Competing with the west to send man to moon can wait till we are able to feed all our mouths with three square meals a day, a roof on top in place of the star-lit sky, a toilet with sanitary facilities, drinking water and education for their kids and economic empowerment of village women. Rest of the progress will follow in their wake. India will not progress with missiles and rockets. It will progress with healthy and happy Indians who are able to go to their neighbour’s house with a smile in their face instead trying to go to the moon. Healthy India will be strong India and happy India. This kind of freakonomics will only make us poorer by the day while making the rich super rich! May God save the country.
"Character and personal force are the only investments that are worth anything."
Walt Whitman


Black and Blue
Every so often J.T. sent out an entourage to buy food for people in the building. A few tenants carried on us usual, paying little attention to the Black Kings’ dramatic show of security in the lobby. But except for a couple of stereos and some shouting in the stairwells, the building was eerily quiet. We all baked in the still, hot air.
Occasionally one of J.T.’s more senior members would throw out a plan for retaliation. J.T. listened to every proposal but was non -committal. "We got time for all that," he kept saying. "Let’s just see what happens tonight."
Every half hour Cherise called from the hospital to report on Price’s condition. J.T. looked tense as he took these reports. Price was a friend since high school, one of the few people J.T. allowed in his inner circle.
I was just nodding off to sleep on the floor when J.T. walked over.
"Thanks, man," he said quietly.
"For what?"
"You didn’t have to get mixed up in this shit,"
He must have heard that I’d helped drag Price into the lobby. I didn’t say anything. J.T. slapped my leg, asked if I wanted a Coke, and walked of to the fridge.
There were no more shootings that night, but the tension didn’t let up. I never went home.
Within a few days, once he figured out exactly who was responsible for the attack, J.T. rounded up T-Bone and several other officers and went after the shooters. J.T. personally helped beat them up; the BKs also took their guns and money. Because these young rivals had "no business sense," as J.T. told me later, there was no hope of a compromise. Physical retaliation was the only measure to consider.
Price stayed in the hospital for a few days, but the bullet caused no irreparable damage, and he was soon back in action.
T-Bone called me one day with big news: J.T. was on the verge of receiving another important promotion within the citywide Black Kings organization. If all went according to plan, J.T., T-Bone, and Price would be responsible for taking on even more BK factions, which meant managing a considerably larger drug-trafficking operation. I could hear the excitement in T-Bone’s voice. For him, too, the promotion meant more money as well as a boost in status. "Two years, that’s it," he told me. "Two more years of this shit, and I am getting out of the game." Ever practical, T-Bone was saving for his future --a house, full-time college, and legal job.
J.T. wouldn’t be around Robert Taylor much for the next several weeks, T-Bone told me, since his new assignment required a lot of preparation and legwork. But he had asked T-Bone to give me a message: "J.T. wants you to go with him to the next regional BK meeting. You up for it?"
I had been waiting for this phone call for a few years. I desperately wanted to learn about the gang’s senior leadership, and now that J.T. was one of them, it looked like I’d finally have my chance.
By this point in my research, I still felt guilty sometimes for being as much of a hustler, in my own way, as the other hustlers in the neighborhood. C-Note had called me on it, and C-Note was right. I constantly hustled people for information--stories, data, interviews, facts--anything that might make my research more interesting.
So I was happy whenever I had the chance to give a little bit back. The writing workshop hadn’t worked out as well as I’d wanted, and I was searching for another way to act charitably. An opportunity fell into my lap when the Chicago public-school teachers went on strike. Since BK rules stipulated that each member graduate from high school, J.T. asked Autry to set up a program during the strike so that J.T.’s members could stay off the streets and do some home-work. Autry had set up a similar program at the Boys & Girls Club, but gang boundaries forbade J.T.’s members to go there.
Autry agreed, and he asked me to run a classroom in J.T.s building. I obliged, pretty sure that lecturing high-schoolers on history, politics, and math shouldn’t be too hard.
We met in a dingy, darkened apartment with a bathroom that didn’t work. On a given day, there were anywhere from twenty to fifty teenage gang members on my watch. The air was so foul that I let them to cover the odor. There weren’t enough seats, so the kids forcibly claimed some chairs from neighboring apartments, with no promise of returning them.
On the first day, as the students talked loudly through my lecture on history and politics, J.T. walked in unannounced and shouted at them to pay attention. He ordered Price to take one particularly noisy foot soldier into the hallway and beat him.
Later I asked J.T. not to interrupt again. The kids would never learn
anything, I insisted, if they knew that he was going to be monitoring them. J.T. and Autry both thought I was crazy. They didn’t think I had any chance of controlling the unruly teens without the threat of an occasional visit by J.T.
They were right. Within a day the "classroom" had descended into anarchy. In one corner a few guys were admiring a gun that one of them had just bought. (He was thoughtful enough to remove the bullets during class.) In another corner several teenagers had organized a dice game. The winner would get not only the cash but also the right to rob the homeless people sleeping in a nearby vacant apartment. One kid brought in a radio and improvised a rap song about their "Injun teacher," replete with references to Custer, Geronimo, and "the smelly Ay-Rab." (It never seemed to occur to anyone that "Arab" and "Indian" were not in fact interchangeable; in my case they were equally valuable put downs).The most harmless kids in the room were the ones who patiently waited for their friends to return from the store with some beer.
Things got worse from there. Some of my students started selling marijuana in the classroom; other would casually leave the building to find a prostitute. When I conveyed all this to J.T., he said that as long as the guys showed up, they weren’t hanging out on the street and getting into any real trouble.
Given that they were using my "classroom" to deal drugs, gamble, and play with guns, I wondered exactly what J.T. meant by "real trouble.
My role was quickly downgraded from teacher to baby-sitter. The sessions lasted about two weeks, until news came that the teacher’s strike was being settled. By this time my admiration for Autry’s skill with the neighborhood kids had increased exponentially.


Legs - vital clues in heart failure

London: Doctors tend to treat heart muscles when the organ reels under an attack, over-looking the condition of the legs, which could provide vital clues in treating the condition, new research says.
Heart failure causes breathlessness and fatigue that severely limits normal daily activities such as walking.
A University of Leeds research team, shown that leg muscle dysfunction is related to the severity of symptoms in heart failure patients, the Journal of Applied Physiology reports. "Many chronic heart failure patients complain of leg fatigue during exercise and this can prevent them from being active," says Harry Rossiter, of the Faculty of Biological Sciences at the University.
"Our study shows that by warming up properly, patients can improve the oxygenation and performance of their leg muscles, which is beneficial in promoting exercise tolerance," he adds.
In a series of experiments with chronic heart failure patients, the research team measured responses of the heart, lungs and leg muscles following a moderate exercise warm-up, according to a statement from the university. Using a near-infrared laser to measure the oxygenation of the leg muscles, they found that warm-up- exercise increased the activity of skeletal muscle enzymes that control energy production.

Want to live 100 years! Do 7 things
London: People can live up to 100 years if they take care of seven simple things in everyday life, a leading cardiologist has claimed.
Clyde Yancy, a Canadian cardiologist, says changes to lifestyle such as keeping a healthy weight, not smoking and controlling your cholesterol levels are an easy way to add an extra decade or more to your life span, the Daily Mail reported.
Yancy says 90 percent of people can live to the age of 90 and even reach 100 by following his advice. The other steps include regulating blood pressure, managing diabetes, eating a healthy diet and being active.
"Achieving these seven simple lifestyle factors gives people a 90 percent chance of living to the age of 90 or 100, free of not only heart disease and stroke but from a number of other chronic illnesses including cancer, "Yancy is all set to tell experts from around the world at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.
"By following these steps, we can compress Life-threatening disease into the final stages of life and maintain quality of life for the longest possible time," he says.
There are nearly 2.7m people living with heart disease in the UK. It kills one in five men and one in seven women – equivalent to 250 deaths everyday.
Around 200,000 people die each year from conditions related to circulation, including strokes, heart disease, costing the NHS 30 billion pounds a year.
The risks of all these could be reduced by controlling high blood pressure, which is known as the ‘silent killer’ because it has no symptoms.


Can this be called another kind of looting !!
Mumbai: The probe into the multicrore Adarsh housing scam might have visibly slowed down but the lawyers assigned to assist the commission unearth the various aspects of the scam and bring out the truth are making merry. Fees charged by the lawyers is one of the single largest expense incurred by the costly inquiry commission that is still a long way away from any conclusive report on the scam.
An RTI query has revealed that the commission’s senior counsel Dipan Merchant is richer by more than Rs 35 lakh since the commission began proceedings on April 18, earlier this year.
Merchant charges Rs 40,000 per day for his services. His junior advocate Bharat Zaveri has charged nearly Rs 5 lakh so far. His daily fee is Rs 5,000.
The state government’s legal team charges even more. Senior council for the state Anil Sakhare Charges Rs 1.15 lakh for a day’s hearing. He is assisted by two juniors --R M Vasudev and U B Nigot -- who are paid Rs 25,000 each per day.
If advocate Sakhare attends the court, but there is no hearing, he is paid a retainer fee of Rs 55,000. A chamber meeting to discuss the case is Rs 7,000 per day.
And it doesn’t end here; the Defense Ministry too has a team of advocates to represent its case. AJ Rana, senior counsel for the Defence Ministry who has reportedly quit his job over non-payment of fees charged Rs 50,000 per day. Apart from Rana, the Defence Ministry is represented by two junior counsels, Aniket Nikam and Karan vyas.
And it’s not just the lawyers who are part of the slow and costly probe, the commission itself is a massive money guzzler costing the state government around Rs 8 lakh per month.
Plain operating expenses of the commission have amounted to around Rs 53 lakh till August this year while stationery and telephone charges have cost Rs 1 lakh. With documents running into lakhs of pages and hundreds of affidavits submitted, photocopying alone has cost the commission more than Rs 1 lakh. The commission has been assigned a massive staff of 24 persons, of which around 4 posts are vacant, the highest assigned to any commission in recent times. According to the reply to the RTI query, around six staff members (including clerks and peons) are given monthly salary to just ‘look after files’. Apart from their remuneration, the chairman of the commission justice (retd.) JA Patil and member P. Subramanyam, former state chief secretary are given a monthly salary of Rs 1.60 lakh each.
The commission, which has examined just 17 witnesses, has worked for around 160 days so far. However, after being set up on January 7, 2011 it began proceedings only on April 18 since allotment of office space and staff took time. Only around 90 days of actual court sittings have taken place.
The commission was initially asked to give its report in three months but later given an extension of another three months till July 7.
But since the slow pace of proceedings had not revealed anything conclusive, it was granted yet another extension till January 7, 2012.
With statements of high-profile former chief ministers along with several other key witnesses yet to be recorded, the cash –strapped state government will only have to shell out more money for the ‘costly’ probe.

Public healthcare system function on sub-standard equipment
New Delhi: Fundamental flaws in procurement procedure and lack of standards in supply of medical equipment for maternal and neo-natal care is resulting in entry of "unsafe, non-standard equipment" into the market, the AIIMS has told the Central Information Commission.
The prestigious institute said high quality medical equipment lose to cheaper alternatives during bidding process resulting in accidents like babies getting killed in short-circuits in incubators. "There are no standards for such equipments and no regulation barring entry of unsafe, non-standard equipment into the market. Faulty equipment can end up burning itself and the baby it holds. There are fundamental flaws in these procurement procedures," Dr Vinod Paul, representing Director AIIMS told the CIC during a hearing.
He said there was a Medical Devices Regulatory Authority bill circulated in 2006, but there has not been much movement in this regard. Taking serious note of it, Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi directed the Health secretary to ensure that purchase and maintenance details of medical equipment costing over one lakh and neo-natal warmers and incubators, purchased after April 1, 2007 should be posted on the Health Ministry website. The case relates to a complaint filed by an RTI applicant Anushree Jain who said Health Ministry should publish these details on its websites as per obligations of suo-moto disclosure under the provisions of the Right to Information Act.
During the hearing, Jain contended that there have been a large number of cases where due to poor maintenance of equipment used for neo-natal care infants had died due to equipment failure.
Hearing the arguments of both sides, Gandhi opined, "It is accepted that there are widespread issues, putting up information in the public domain would perhaps create a pressure on the concerned authorities". "The idea of the Commission being that the information published would get the citizens at large to view the same and inform the concerned superior authorities in case of any mismanagement etc." Gandhi pointed out.

Pakistani woman issued voter ID
Bikaner: An elderly Pakistani woman, staying in a village here on a long-term visa, has managed to get her name included in the country’s voters’ list leaving officials red-faced. Alabasai, married to a local, has been residing in KJD village in Khajuwala sub-division since 1986 but has not been granted Indian citizenship so far. However, her name was included in the voters’ list in 2008 and when police discovered her origin during a routine review, the district administration was alerted and her voter ID was cancelled last month.

Mumbai needs 63,000 toilets, has only 10,000
Mumbai: The city of dreams, the financial capital of India, the international city Mumbai desperately needs 63,514 toilets. In the last four years only 10,760 were made available. These facts came to light even as the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP combine pushed through a Slum Sanitation Project worth Rs. 76,48,14,828 crore for building 210 more toilet blocks in the city.
The information about lack of toilets came to light in the reply given by the administration to the standing committee. All party councilors wasted a whole 90 minutes emphasising their concerns for the slum dwellers, with an obvious eye on the upcoming elections. The toilet blocks are being built under the on going World Bank Added Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project (MSDP).
Launching a scathing attack on the administration, Sena and MNS councillors were the first to oppose these project stating that the quality of work done is crude and contractors do not complete their work. Congress’ Sameer Desai accused the opposing councillors as being anti-slums, thus beginning a political tug-of-war. NCP’s Niyaz Vanu said that the proposal should be passed. This also prompted a war of words between Chairman Rahul Shewale and Desai.
Rajul Patel later explained, "They (contractors) only use Rs 6 crore if say Rs. 76 crore is sanctioned, produce shoddy work and thus the toilets get damaged within a year.


Liberal Pakistan!

Islamabad: The latest Pakistani song to have gone viral on the internet pokes fun at Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving Mumbai attacker, being treated like a "hero" in his home country and slain Governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassin being treated like a "nawab," PTI reports.
Over the weekend, Lahore-based band Beyghirat Brigade (The Dishonor Brigade) unveiled its first single "Aloo Anday"- a sad commentary on Pakistani politics and the Pakistani psyche. The song’s vedeo starts on an unassuming note with three boys in school uniforms complaining over their mother packing ‘’Aloo Anday" for lunch, but in the following three minutes, the band takes on everyone from Sharif brothers of the PML-N to the "good-looking fundamentalist" Imran Khan.
Sung in Punjabi with subtitles in English, the video features singer Ali Aftab Saeed grumbling about Nobel Prize- wining Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam being forgotten by most while Taseer’s assassin Mumtaz Qadri and Kasab are being hailed as new heroes.
If the clever lyrics were not stinging enough, the band holds up placards to leave no scope for doubt.
Among them are: "Nawaz Sharif, bye bye. Papa Kiyani no likey you"; "Tehreek-i-Insaf = good looking Jammat-e-Islami"; "free Judiciary = Hanged PPP"; "your money + my pocket = we’re still enemies" and "Mullah + Military + Ziaul Yuckee".
Well-known columnist Nadeem F Paracha dedicated his latest article to the video.
On its Face book page, the band describes itself as a "deadly injection for deadly infection" and tells people cheekily - "if you want us killed, like us".
Apart from the stupendous response on the internet, the song has been played on ‘Dawn News’ channel. Comments are piling up on You Tube, where the song has been uploaded, and also on Face book. A fan decided not to eat "aloo anday" for a week to show solidarity to the band.

Ernakulam is the first smoking-free city

Thiruvananthapuram:Ernakulam, the business hub of Kerala, has become India’s first smoking-free tourist destination.
State Excise Minister K Babu declared the port city smoking-free at a function held at Marine Drive. District Panchayat President Eldhose Kunnappillil released "smoke free Ernakulam" balloons on the occasion.
Residents’ associations, Hotel and Restaurants Association, Vyapari Vyavasayi Association, Hotel and Bar Association, and other civil society groups declared their solidarity to the endeavour in ensuring and maintaining smoke-free status of public places.
The achievement culminated 18 months of efforts made by the district administration Health Department, Cochin Corporation and District Panchayat under the ‘Smoke-free’ Ernakualm project. It was aimed at controlling smoking in public places and affective implementation of the Indian Tobacco Control Act.
The project was launched by putting warning signs against public smoking and the people’s right to smoke free air in prominent public places. Later, trading was even to police inspectors, panchayat secretaries, health inspectors in the Health Department and corporation.
District collector Sheik Pareeth said an independent observation study conducted on smoking in public places had found that there was no active smoking in nearly 95 per cent of public places, including liquor bars, cinema halls and restaurants.
The city achieved the feet 12 years after High Court banned smoking in public places through out Kerala for the first time in the country. The city that has several tourists attractions including heritage buildings built by the Dutch, Portuguese, the English and the local kings, is a premier tourism destination in the state.
It has attracted 20 lakh tourists during 2010. This accounted for nearly 23 percent of the total tourists arrivals in the state. The total tourist arrivals, including domestic tourists, during the year were 86 lakhs.
The smoking ban came on a petition filed by a housewife. Monamma Kokkad, a retired English professor at BCM College. Kottayam, moved the court after she was exposed to passive smoking while commuting by train between Kochi and Kottayam.
Kottayam, however, took the smoking ban seriously and strictly implemented it in the whole district. The effort brought it the distinction of being the first district in the country to ‘totally’ ban smoking in a public places in 2008.

Japanese MP passes Fukushima acid test

Tokyo: A Japanese MP became nervous and his hands shook as he drank water collected from near the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant in a bid to prove it was safe, IANS reports. Yasuhiro Sonoda, who works as the cabinet office’s parliamentary spokesman, drank the water taken from puddles under two reactor buildings during a televised news conference after reporters challenged him.
Journalists have repeatedly queried the safety of the water there.
"Just drinking doesn’t mean safety has been confirmed. Presenting data to the public is the best way," Sonoda said. Government officials say they are confident over the plant’s safety, and have invited journalists to visit the site.

Judge who convicted Qadri flees to Saudi

Lahore: The Pakistani judge who gave the death sentence to Governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassin has sought refuge in Saudi Arabia with his family after receiving death threats from religious extremists. Anti-terrorism court Judge Pervez Ali Shah had gone on leave after a group of lawyers ran-sacked his courtroom and several hardline religious groups offered a bounty to anyone who killed him.
"The death threats have forced Shah to leave Pakistan along with his family for Saudi Arabia," Saiful Malook, who served as special prosecutor during Qadri’s trial, told PTI.
Sensing the gravity of the situation, the government had arranged for lodging Shah and his family in Saudi Arabia, Malook said.
"Though security was provided to the judge and his family, the government, acting on reports from intelligence agencies, opted to send him abroad," he said.

E-toilets for Thane

Thane: Adapting the Dubai model of sanitation with the help of modern technology, the Thane Municipal Corporation has come up with an innovative idea to start "e-toilets" in the city which would be based on automated electronic system and would have the facility of smart card. The idea of the "e-toilet", originated in Dubai, has been put forward by the town planning department of the TMC. The civic officials believe that if everything works well then Thane would be the first city in the state to start the "e-toilets". The "e-toilets" have been successfully implemented in Kerala last year, which are automated, pay-and-use with the help of mechanical, electrical inputs. According to TMC sources, in the first phase, the civic body would install around 150 e-toilets.

The Great Wall of China is ‘crumbling due to illegal mining’

Beijing: Parts of China’s famous Great Wall are reportedly being damaged due to illegal mining for minerals. At one wild section in Laiyuan county in North China’s Hebei province, the wall has completely crumbled due to people carrying out night operations to steal reserves of iron, copper, molybdenum and nickel that are buried along a 150 kilometer stretch of the famous landmark, the ‘China Daily’ reports. A survey has revealed that over 80 percent of the Great Wall in Hebei province is in bad shape due to tourism and inappropriate infrastructure, but it is the illegal mining that is causing the most damage to the site. "We have no idea how many enterprises are engaged in the mining along the Great Wall site. The cultural heritage department has no knowledge of the specific information on the passages in the mining, either," the paper quoted an engineer from the Hebei provincial ancient architecture protection institution, as saying.


Witch craft gone crazy

Doctors in eastern Indonesia have removed the last of 28 nails found embedded in a three-year-old girl’s legs and back in a horrific case some residents and officials blamed on witchcraft. Doctors in Makassar on Sulawesi island had already removed more than two dozen 10-centimetere (four-inch) rusty nails, broken syringe needles and aluminium rods from the girl’s legs before removing a nail lodged dangerously close to her spine. "The girl is recovering from the operation and is generally in good condition. She is already playing again," the girl’s surgeon Kamaruddin said. X-rays in September revealed the foreign objects in the girl’s legs and back, prompting suspicions among local residents that they had been inserted magically. The governor of South Sulawesi province, Syahrul Yasin Limpo, visited the victim and said he believed witchcraft was to blame. "Believe it or not, in South Sulawesi it is possible for these sorts of things to happen," Syahrul was quoted as saying by local news portal "We have often heard about people whose heads suddenly go soft, and medics have no idea what the cause is. It’s called magic and it’s explained in the Koran." Doctors said that scars on the girl’s legs showed the nails had been inserted by a person over a six-month period.

Rail travels for 16 km without driver

Islamabad: A railway locomotive travelled 16 km without a driver in Pakistan’s Punjab province, going past four level crossings, though there were no reports of any loss of life or property. The freight train locomotive was at Kundian railway shed for repairs when it suddenly began moving without a driver on board due to a fault in its electrical system, Assistant Traffic Officer Naseer Ahmed Khan told the media. Staff at the railway shed tried to board the engine and stop it but were unable to do so. The locomotive covered 16 km from kundain to Mianwali railway station in an hour at speeds of up 5to 40 km an hour. The engine crossed four level crossings in Mianwali city but there were no reports of loss of life or property, officials said. The locomotive finally came to a halt after staff at Mianwali railway station put it on a dead-end line.

Mother of all scams - Mothers 52 times

Her name: Durgavathi. Her address: Karanpur village, Gussainganj block in Lucknow district.
She figures 52 times on the list of beneficiaries of the Janani Suraksha Yojana, under which each institutional delivery fetches a mother Rs 1,400.
So, whoever thought up the caper has pocketed Rs 72,800 in the name of Durgavathi and her family with 52 kids.
The Centre had launched the programme in 2005 for reducing maternal and neonatal deaths by encouraging women to give birth in a healthy environment.
The official list, oblivious to the biological impossibility, records faithfully that Durgavati, aged 34, gave birth to her first male baby on January 2, 2009, and three other female babies on January 9, January 16 and January 27 and so on. The records also show her husband Mohan Ram as the proud father of the 52 children.
The racketeers lived up to the liar’s motto - stick to half- truths as far as possible. So, they introduced an auxiliary nurse called Sujata Yadav, on whom fell the noble, albeit exhausting, task of bringing Durgavathi over to the community health centre and get rewarded for the labour. Sujata Yadav turned out to be a fictitious name but only by half. The Gussainganj centre does have a health worker called Sujata but her surname is Sachan, not Yadav.
Durgavati is not alone in rewriting biology, as we know it. Neelam, 26, a resident of Tarwa Mahant village of Shravasti district was shown as having delivered babies on three days in a row – October 27, 28 and 29, 2010. The same woman was shown to have delivered a baby earlier on May 18, 2010, as well. The only difference was that her husband’s name was Rajendra in one record and Dinesh in another.
Within a span of 15 days, Ameerun Nisha delivered two children in Bargadhai village, Ikauna block in Shravasti.
Such were the stakes in the racket that the death of at least two senior doctors had been linked to those running the scam. Former director- general (family welfare) SP Ram, during whose tenure the irregularities occurred, said a probe was already under way and at least six officials had been suspended.

And now a shit pot bike

London: A Japanese company has come up with a motorbike, dubbed Toilet Bike Neo, which will leave nothing to waste, as it will be powered by excrement. Japan’s leading toilet manufacturer Tato, is the brainchild behind this curious creation, which uses a modified lavatory and a mobile laboratory for processing. This bizarre invention encourages the rider to use the portaloo as much as possible on every journey as the waste is turned into biofuel , which powers the machine, the Daily Mail reported. The company hopes the travelling toilet, which can reach a maximum speed of 50mp, will help reduce CO2 emissions by 50 per cent in the next six years.

Yeti exists, claim Russian officials

London: Yeti, an ape-like cryptid said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal, India and Tibet, has long been regarded as a legend, given the lack of conclusive evidence of its existence, reports PTI.
But, Russian officials at the Kemerovo region have now claimed that they have found "indisputable evidence" that yetis exist-and are even living in Siberia. They say that an expedition to track down the Abominable Snowman in the Mount Shoria area came closer to catching one of the creatures, and also found coarse hair of Yetis in a remote cave, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported. During the expedition to the Azasskaya cave, indisputable proof was gathered by the expedition members that the Shoria mountains are inhabited by the Snow Man, the Kemerovo region administration has claimed. "They (researchers) found his footprints, his supposed bed and various markers with which the Yeti uses to denote his territory," the administration said. However, doubt has already been cast on the "find"– as – the team has no convincing photographic or DNA evidence. Their claim appears to be based on bent branches, a single unclear footprint and a small sample of grey "hair", found in a cave.


Finding new sources of energy

Dr. M. V. Kamath

Following the controversy over the Kudankulam nuclear plant and the mess it has needlessly created, thoughts flow towards prospects of using alternative sources of energies. In the past it has been India’s compulsion to import oil, gas and coal for its energy requirements and roughly they cost over $ 100 billion a year of which imports of coal alone cost $ 5 billion. This it is claimed, may rise to $ 45 billion by 2020, no small amount for a fast-growing economy. Surely, there are alternate sources of energy that India can tap? It is not India alone that is facing this problem. Practically all industrial nations face the same predicament. Indeed, the use of wind power all over the world is growing at the rate of 30 per cent annually with a world-wide installed capacity of 198 Gigawatts (GW) in 2010. In India, the development of wind power began in 1990 and it has significantly increased in the last few years. It may come as a surprise to many, but although a relative newcomer to the wind industry in comparison with some European countries and the United States, India now has the fifth largest installed wind power capacity in the world! Indeed, in 2009-2010, India’s growth rate was highest among the other top four countries. Within India itself, Tamil Nadu tops highest in most wind generating capacity of 6007 MW (megawatts), Maharashtra with 2310.70 MW capacity coming second, Gujarat, third (2175 MW), Karnataka fourth (1730.10 MW ) and Rajasthan fifth (1524.70MW). According to experts, on the basis of current growth trends, India should achieve 99 per cent of its technical wind-energy potential by 2030. But two points need to be remembered here. One is, electricity generated by wind power is still more expensive than power obtained from conventional power plants. The other is the seasonal and diurnal variations of wind force. Situating wind plants at appropriate places is in itself a factor needing consideration. One has to be fairly sure that wind flow is sufficiently strong and also round-the-clock for making a power plant viable. The other problem is availability of land. The task of objectively assessing these issues has been allotted by the government to too many agencies like the Ministry of Power and the Ministry of Non- Conventional Energy Sources (MNES). In Karnataka there are surprisingly many small wind farms, making it one of the states which has a high number of windmill farms. Chitradurga alone reportedly has over 20,000 wind turbines. Active in Karnataka is a government enterprise known as Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd, the object of which is to promote projects for harnessing energy needs from wind, small-hydro, biomass and the sun(solar), not to mention wastes from which energy can be recovered! The vision is admirable but progress seems halting. Interestingly, solar thermal power does not seem to have made much headway. For one thing, like wind power, solar power needs a lot of land, if one wants to go in for a commercially viable project.
According to one estimate, even a pilot project of 100 MW may require anything between 600 to 1000 acres of land and a commercially planned project for production of 1,000 MW would need ten times that number of acres! Just the 3 MW plant inaugurated in Yelesandra, Kolar is spread over 15 acres. Where is one to get that much land—and at what cost? The Yelesandra project cost Rs 59 crores according to KPCL officials. In the circumstances, production of energy from solar source seems practically unviable. Yet, the National Solar
Mission (NSM) has set a target of 20,000 MW of solar electricity by 2020! According to one estimate, on a nano,-basis (using roof-top photo- voltaic panels and other application), solar power can yet be acquired but could cost between 9 and Rs 10 per unit. One understands that as many as 150 companies in India have evinced interest in developing large solar photo-voltaic projects of up to 20 MW including Tatas, Reliance, Lanco and Moser Daer. The Mahindra Group, it is reported, is set to commission a 5 MW solar power plant in Gujarat by December 2011 and apparently it has committed itself to set up a total of 75 MW power generation; plants in the entire country within two years. With so many companies now interested in solar projects, the market for investment in it has a potential of $ 110 billion. The National Solar Mission has already created a $ 19 billion industry. What is significant is that expansion of the solar power sector alone has the capacity to replace up to 30 per cent of imported coal in the next decade. It is also well to remember that one MW of solar power is enough to meet the needs of about 200 homes or about 1,000 people. The Yelesandra solar plant is expected to light up 20 villages. Innovation is the name of the game and Indian scientists seem to have caught on to solar lighting. Indeed, an Indian scientist, Harish Hande, a Kharagpur IIT graduate with a doctorate from Massachusetts University won the coveted Raman Magsaysay Award 2011 for his pioneering efforts to provide solar-based lighting solutions to rural India. Hande set up a Solar Electric light Company in 1995 with the sole desire to electrify rural India using innovative solar power technologies. It is claimed that in the last few years the programme has caught on and now more than 125,000 households in the states of Karnataka, Gujarat and Kerala have benefited by it. Selco makes solar lamps available at about Rs 1,500 each and reportedly these are bought by organizations like the Rotary Club of Bangalore to be donated to schools for the use of students. Students from homes without electricity are given a fully-charged lantern for use at night. The idea is reportedly catching up with support from the likes of the IIT-Kharagpur Alumni Association. Surely, the same idea can be replicated all across the country to provide an incentive to poor students to continue their studies even in the midst of grinding poverty? For all one knows solar batteries soon come into use to run motor bikes, if not cars. Research, apparently, is well on its way.