Thursday, February 9, 2012

Month In Perspective

EDITOR'S COLUMN


Friends
We are well into 2012 with January having gone, and Budget month in the offing. What Union Finance Minister shall offer to the nation has to be seen.
The change that we started from Dec 2011, in the editorial presentation continues to receive responses. We have presented two of them one for and one against. Of course there may be others too, wanting to tell us. We shall continue to present any feed back that would come our way.
Yes, Month in Perspective shall have its usual inputs. India is a vibrant democracy with all kinds of things happening all over the country - good, bad and ugly. We could do justice to only to a part of such happenings in our coverage due to the space constraints. Hope readers will appreciate our limitations. In focus, we have tried to understand the dynamics of the ever evolving relationship between two emerging power centres in the region - India and China. However the Chinese playing difficult had come to head in some areas of differences. This is an issue which needed not just a second look but needed to visit more. We have tried to go into the complexities of the relationship. Hope readers shall find it illuminating. Do revert with your thoughts.


ANDHRA PRADESH: When Andhra Pradesh DGP V. Dinesh Reddy stated that among the causes that leads to physical attack on ladies, scanty clothing by women is one of them, he did not mean that it is the only cause. It should have been taken at that. There is absolutely no doubt that provocative attire of women does attract far more attention than an adequately decently dressed lady. Of course this is not to suggest that burqua is the answer. Every outfit has its limits of extremes. DGP had reportedly stated that even rural girls these days wear churidars or salwar khameez. In fact, short of body hugging, tight fitted tailoring, the salwar khameez is the most decent dress. Sarees are supposedly a dress that gives dignity to women, especially Indian. But then this humble saree can also be very provocatively worn. There are women who wear blouses with back exposed from 2 inches to 12 inches. Similar is the case of sarees with mid exposure of similar length of 2" to 12". Any dress can be provocatively attired, and lets face it, the purpose is to look attractive. These days showing parts of the body probably is indicative of the emancipated modern women. But for our Harvard educated home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram to say that ‘you can’t be going to a cocktail party in a swimwear’ is to stretch the argument too far. P.Chidambaram was responding to DGP’s remark. It is another matter that in India, even for cocktail party, PC would come in his trade-mark Dhoti and Shirt and his wife in Kanjiwaram saari like a dignified lady lawyer, that she is. Obviously he was only talking to the gallery since he was at the receiving end in the media for some time now, with his 2G baggage and Mallaperiyar dam remark, when Vayalar Ravi dubbed his observation as "political immaturity". The long and short of it is, what Shakespeare had said a century ago, in the play 'Hamlet', "Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy. But not expressd in fancy; rich not guady. For the apparel oft proclaims the man" (which includes women as well).
There was this report from Nalgonda in Andhra Pradesh "Anganwadi Workers Protest". The report informed about the demand of these workers (AW) for payment of salary arrears, which is reportedly not sanctioned since last 10 months. Isn’t this horrendous? How can they live without their Rs: 2200/- only pm for AWs and Rs: 1200/- only pm for helpers? As such it is well below the minimum wages, and we are talking about Jaganmohan Reddy’s, the former Andhra’s CM's son, incredibly huge wealth which CBI is investigating, only because he rebelled against the Congress high command. What moral authority this Congress leadership has in talking about poor empowerment of aam aadmi in U.P., when they are bankrupt in A.P. These AWs cannot go on strike due to the fear of summery dismissal. If this is not exploitation of helpless women what else? Besides, the salary in the neighbouring Karnataka is far better at Rs: 3500/- pm to AWs and Rs: 1750/- to helpers. Of course, this too is well below the minimum wages, but certainly better than what Andhra Pradesh pays. Come to think of it that these AWs were the sole responsible cadre for realizing the goals of ICD schemes, which led to better health and better monitoring, the health of expectant mothers and those of pre-school going children, and they are being so shoddily treated by our governments – both in states and centre. Yes, inequity is our national shame, take it or leave it.
KARNATAKA: Port connectivity road was envisioned by late Srinivas Mallya, an iconic socio political personality of coastal Karnataka. Back in the sixties he had thought of having four laned road connecting all the ports from Mangalore to Karwar, and had accordingly got the NHAI earmark the land required all along the coast up to the border with Goa. Due to the economic upswing and Konkan Railway connectivity, the vehicular traffic, both commercial and private, had greatly increased. Hence the two laned road had to be upgraded. Need was felt in late nineties itself. But being union government what it is, it took its own sweet time to decide and act on four laning. First phase of the construction began in 2005, slated for completion in 2007 Dec., a stretch of just 35 kms, but IRCON, the civil construction wing of Indian Railways could not complete the job, even by end 2011, with almost 200% time over -run. Reasons could be many, but the fact remains there have been unscrupulous political interventions which led to litigations and delays combined with the visual governmental ineptitude, apathy and inefficiency. Now comes the news of the entire stretch being four laned from Talapady, bordering Kerala to Karwar bordering Goa, a stretch of 296kms.
If the stretch between Mangalore to Surathkal could hopefully be complete by 7 years instead of 2½ years by the govt owned IRCON, the road between Surathkal and Kundapur has been given on BOT basis to a private construction company. Hence the progress appears good. The latest news of the last phase of 189kms between Kundapur and Karwar, is being tendered on BOT basis. Reportedly some 40 companies have responded. Yes the IRCON experience has chastened the government. It is true that governments learn rather very slowly, but learning all the same. Yes John Kenneth Galbraith, a former U.S ambassador had hit the nail on the head when he had stated, in the sixtees, for the information of posterity, 'India is a Functioning Anarchy'.
A widow at 24 and a mother of 4 children already with no financial support from anywhere including government, and our economist friends and there are others too saying that population is not an issue but an asset. ‘The sad tale of child marriage victims in Heggada Devana Kote’ in Bangalore rural, was the report that hit the headline the other day. It was the story of rampant child marriage in the Beda Community, spread over a small area around Nagarhole Forests and Kabini backwaters. Reportedly community has only around over 1200 with women being more than men, they marry off their girls early at 15 years. But child marriage is a pan India problem and governments all over India have done precious little to address it. One of the reasons of multiplying number of children among poor is the child marriage. So we continuously produce malnourished children who when grow up become mostly unemployable, except as labourer. This kind of a population is a serious drain on our resources. We have hundreds of government schemes all across India to help poor people. But most of them do not address the root cause. Our population policies have always encouraged late marriage. But on ground nothing has changed. The seriousness of the socio-economic problem of the population increase has to be at the centre of our economic planning and we are only making right noises, a case of sound bite that does not bite.
"Convention to discuss steps to improve quality of education" was a news from Davangere. Speaking to press, the minister for Primary and Secondary Education Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri, mentioned about the convention planned for later part of the month. Issues of shortage of teachers, innovative methods of teachings and many other student centric schemes are to be debated. While all these proposals are laudable and hopefully shall be taken up and implemented, the latest proposal of Bhagawad Geetha reading in schools is prima facie shortsighted and smacks of divisive under tones. Of course Bhagawad Geetha on its own, is a sacred text of deep insight into human intricacies. But the introduction of this scripture in schools, where students with multi religious background are there, this can be seen as a regressive measure in line with ideology of the ruling party. Of course, there will be many in BJP, who will favour the inclusion of Geetha, but surprisingly, even our Union Minister K H Muniyappa of the Congress has reportedly favoured the proposal. It will not be surprising that he may be ticked off by Congress high command. There are any number of issues to be addressed in respect of school education, and introduction of Geetha is certainly not a solution to any of them. Government must make schools student centric. In fact socially concerned individuals like Justice Rama Joise should spend time to think how to empower the student community rather than get involved in Geetha as the head of Bhagwad Geetha Abhiyan Committee.
BJP govt. in Bangalore is again at Lokayukta throat. The separate investigation, on top of Lokayukta report, by DCP V.S. D’Souza, on instruction from Home Ministry, has reportedly absolved over 190 police officers. The DCP has reported that there is not enough evidence to fix these policemen. As a senior police man he is certainly thorough in his investigation and reporting. But since this very investigation was ordered by the affected political government, it certainly raised questions of intent. Hence in all fairness DCP could have made a common cause with the Lokayukta, to get to the real truth. Of course Lokayukta need not be 100% right all the time, hence both could have co-operated. But this one sided negation by the Home department, prima facie, is certainly without conviction, . Is the undergarment of the govt at Bangalore showing?
The news about the Pakistani flag being hoisted on the Tahasildar’s office in Sindagi town in Bijapur has to be condemned and strict action taken against the culprits. As usual, the initial response has been that some anti-national elements have done that. And it was the invitation for trouble. Some youth organizations naturally demonstrated. But did they have the knowledge who did it? In the past there were such incidents and a section of the society was held responsible. But the police in Bijapur wasn’t sure this time, who can be held responsible? Surely it was the work of some anti-social elements. Despite groups like Sri Ram Sene and BJP activists staging demonstration, police kept their cool to arrest one Rakesh Siddaramaiah Math, the local president of Sri Ram Sene and six of his associates in the Sene. That was indeed a very serious development, with clear intent to whip up tension in and around Sindagi town. That Sene is a trouble making organization is a documented truth. It is only besmirching the name of Lord Rama aka Maryaada Purushottam. Not withstanding the denial of this Pramod Muthalik, who has no credibility anyway, they have to be severely dealt with by the Govt. of BJP in Bangalore. In their wisdom they should leave the matter to the local law and order agency, the police, to deal with it effectively, to show Sene its place.
RAJASTHAN: Salman Rushdie dimension in the Jaipur Literature Festival travelled from sublime to ridiculous. For days to-gether, it occupied print media space and 24x7 electronic media had a field day for days on. But who is this Salman Rushdie, an Indian immigrant in UK, writing in queen’s language. He has many books to his credit, but arguably not really a great writer. He hit the media high for his book ‘Satanic Verses’. Since this book was banned by the then government when it was published some two decades ago, ostensibly because it contained blasphemous reference to Prophet Mohammed. Of course, fanaticism in any form is indefensible. There were fatwas to kill him. But thanks to U.K police, he somehow survived for all these years. While fatwas and violent demonstrations are an absolute ‘no’, everyone has a right to protest, just as the writer has his right to write and express. They have got to be necessarily on the same wave length. In fact being a writer, he necessarily has to carry the burden of responsibility of being sensitive to his readers, especially in matters of faith. But Salman Rushdie, just like MF Hussain before him have been contemptuous of the feelings of faithfuls. Doesn’t matter which faith. If there is a protest, there has to be apology and matter is closed. If the exercise of your right of writing your thoughts voluntarily has caused any discomfort or pain, you are duti bound to say "I am sorry". Controversy sustains only when both sides take an arrogant stand about the rights only. However, while there should not be two opinions about the freedom and responsibility going to-gether, our media and men from the so-called intellectual writers, take ambivalent stand some time and deafeningly clear stand depending on who are the affected and protesting crowd. Chetan Bhagat, the writer, has gone on record "Banned authors are not heroes, they have hurt Muslims", commenting on the Salman Rushdie controversy. But when MF Hussain non-challently vilified gods and goddesses in his paintings, Chetan Bhagat or any of his ilk were not heard mouthing inanities. They condemned the protestors as communalists and that the painter’s freedom of expression was at stake. This is our intellectual writers, take it or leave it.
MAHARASHTRA:Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB) of Mumbai has gone on record saying that it is worried about the poor conviction rate in the cases of corruption against government officials. But then it is the sad truth across the nation. And our policy makers from the portals of parliament have just thrown the spanner to get a strong Lokpal Bill passed. At one side, it was the incumbent government who lacked transparent seriousness in giving to the country an unencumbered ombudsman and opposition parties, divided as they are, had their own agenda. Yes, it is evident, Lokpal may not come after all with the requisite teeth as desired by Team Anna. Going back to ACB, it informs that all across the government spectrum employees demand bribe from Rs: 100 to over Rs: 15 lakh from all those who want to have anything to do with the govt. Yet, ACB Mumbai informs, despite only 235 cases registered against these employees of different departments, conviction rate was not even 40% at 81. And this was for 4 years from 2007/8 to 2010/11. As such 235 cases for 4 years itself was very low, and conviction at 35% to be exact, too was still lower. Here again only those who could not influence the course of events get convicted. Then you have those delaying tactics by lawyers make the cases Chaltaa Rahey – Chaltaa Rahey – like that plywood ad. That is the sad state of our Mother India.
What happened in Mulgaon village in the outskirts of Karad town, the home town of Maharashtra Chief Minister, has sent shock waves across the state. It reminded of the Bhotmange family’s barbaric molestation and murder, in Nagpur some years ago. This time mercifully, there was no murder. But a dalit woman was stripped, beaten for hours and paraded naked. Her fault was that her son had eloped with the daughter of an upper cast family. And police refused to entertain the compliant, saying that "such incidents keep happening in your community and we cannot help you". This is happening as India is completing 62 years as a democratic sovereign republic. Isn’t it a shame that such a thing is happening in the most progressive and prosperous state of Maharashtra. Probably Maharashtra government is saying, even in atrocities toward dalits we are ahead of others! And comes another news "Dalit worker burnt to death", reportedly for not paying the loan of Rs: 5000/- by a Maratha land owner Vashisht Dhake in Chinchole village in Beed district of Maharashtra. Come to think of it that family of the deceased, a dalit landless labourer, neither got any job under MNREGS nor shockingly, are they covered under BPL. "If they don’t, who does?" asks the D.C., Shivanand Taksale. This is Yeh Mera India.
NEW DELHI: With leaked news, from Finance Ministry officials, making its rounds that there may be an Amnesty Scheme for all those who want to bring back their ill gotten money stashed away in tax havens, it is becoming increasingly clearer that there is little seriousness from the Central government of the day to tackle black money. It was always known that Pranab Mukherjee, the incumbent Central Finance Minister, is the strong votary for Amnesty scheme. If memory serves right, in the 2010 Budget he had provided, reportedly an escape rout for the notorious Hassan Ali who is facing the Rs 100,000 crores claim from the Income Tax Deptt, an indirect proposal of this nature.
And comes the news that a staggering $128bn capital illegally flowed out of India in a decade ending in 2009. According to Global Financial Integrity (GFI) study India is the 15th largest victim of illicit financial outflow that cost developing countries $: 903bn in 2009.
This is indeed a very large amount of money. In rupee terms it is more than Rs: 6,70,000 crores. This is the kind of money, flying out of the country, to land in tax havens. This study report of GFI must serve as a wake up call to the managers of the country’s dwindling resources. This report comes in the close heels of the report on wrong figures being dished out by ministry of commerce regarding the export of the country for 2010/11 being far in excess of the actual.
So, its not only that the country has failed to arrest the illegal flight of money, but also gave wrong picture of export earnings to pat itself in the back. So it is a 'Double Whammy'. A recurrent face of governance.
Sometime ago there was a news report making its round that Nitin Gadkari, the pot bellied president of BJP had ruled himself out as a probable BJP candidate, to the position of PM, in the event of BJP alliance making it to the Parliament. Of course, on the face of it, the proposal itself was laughable. What quality anybody found in this Gadkari is unknown. But the recent controversy of admitting those ministers of UP govt dropped by Maaya, has exposed the ethical standard of this Gadkari. His smart-alec move of not only making them members of the party but of offering them party tickets have invited a huge uproar even among party members. Earlier, when his daughter got married, the extravagance was reportedly funded by B SYediyurappa, the former CM of Karnataka. People like Nitin Gadkari will only hasten the fall of the party, which is anyway not doing too well either.
The controversy involving Army Chief, General V.K. Singh, on the date of his possible retirement has raised uncomfortable questions regarding the civil service culpability in matters of general importance. Gen Singh who is slated to retire on 31st May 2012, is reportedly unhappy that he is actually retiring before really attaining superannuation. Of course, as per the records available with the MoD, Gen Singh is attaining retirement on the above date. However according to the SSLC certificate, his birthday is 10 month later on 10th May 1951. In all cases of birth date recording, in official documents, SSLC certificate is the basic proof. Hence for whatever reasons, it has been recorded otherwise wrongly, could have been corrected. To this effect, reportedly the General has made written representation, but the ministry officials who decide on things like personnel matters of the army did not apparently entertain his representation. And unfortunately for Gen Singh even the Defence Minister has gone with the ministry’s decision. Of course there were issues like who will succeed Gen Singh. Reportedly there were 3 claimants due to three possibilities. If 31st May 2012 is the day, then A would have got the job. If April 2013 would have been the date, as desired by Gen Singh, then there could be B who could take over. But the 3rd possibility could have been if Gen Singh had resigned and go to court to press his case. So there are machinations at work, it is alleged, by all the three claimants and babus in the ministry are probably taking sides. If this is true then it is sad and bad. But we all know entrenched babudom in the corridors of power will not tolerate anybody encroaching their turf. This is Yeh Mera India. As we are going to the press, the issue is in the Apex Court and reportedly the union govt. has toughened its stand. Things are getting murkier.
It was CAG earlier, and now its PAC (Public Accts Committee) which blasted the army’s Canteen Stores Deptt. (CSD), managing its ration supplies. The report "Army ration supply practices rotten: PAC" said it all. There was this TV debate on the Army Chief's birth day fracas. Many former Army top brass took all kinds of stands, about the dignity and rights of the Army General V K Singh. But at no time any of them have gone on record about the sorry and pathetic state of the supply practices within the organization of the army. Of course they need not be blamed. The sensation mongering 24x7 electronic media didn’t bother much. Story of date expired grocery supplies had hit the print media on many earlier occasions through CAG reports. Some as old as 28 months beyond the expiry date. And none in the army top brass thought to respond, since it was only the jawans, the sentries, who were denied their basic need to have quality food. This aspect was highlighted by I & C on earlier occasions. But then eddies cannot create tidal waves. Yes, it is only when the main stream media take it up, the issues see brighter light of the day. Our jawans who are living in trying conditions in difficult geographical terrain need better treatment and deserved to be better looked after. Do you harken Mr. Antony?
In a situation of Chaltaa Rahey-Chalta Rahey syndrome, and increasing pending cases in courts across the country, the news that in 2011, Supreme Court has cleared 79000 cases is indeed good. Under the stewardship of the Chief Justice of India, SH Kapadia, scene is quitely but significantly changing. Of course, even the law ministry under former minister Veerappa Moily too had its own share of initiatives in taking measures to dispose of cases as quickly as possible. Judicial reforms, especially the timings of the courts, elimination of holidays and week end offs, are thought to be of far reaching consequences, but still not been deliberated and agreed upon. Once, the sitting time of judges are increased with greater number of judges being appointed, the pressure can ease greatly. Hope this is taken up and implemented in the larger interest of the harassed litigant.
There was this report from New Delhi attributed to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) about employing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), hired from Israel, which will take pictures through clouds, fog and darkness. These UAVs are to send real time pictures while remaining unseen and unheard from the ground. These are to be deployed in naxal infested jungles in Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Expected to be deployed from March, the pictures from UAV are to be used by Central Reserve Police Force helicopters to carry out raid on ultra hide outs. Now this is a plan of MHA. As a plan, it is reasonably felt that they should be known to as few people at the top as possible. Certainly not for public consumption, especially while dealing with ultras. How the Harvard educated, lawyer turned politician Palniappan Chidambaram did not think so? Certainly this knowledge is not likely to make the general public wiser, but ultras, who have their ears all over, shall surely think of plans to foil the efforts of authorities to nab them, or will make it as difficult as possible. We are yet to experience the efficiency of such operation. Hence discretion is certainly a better part of the valour while dealing with ultras, who have proved themselves better than police many a time.
WORLD: The skeleton from ISI cupboard is falling off at regular intervals. The latest is the Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai episode. Reportedly this U.S. based Pakistani has pleaded guilty of spying for ISI. We are given to understand that he is a Kashmiri separatist. He was organizing seminars and conferences on issues relating to Kashmir. Besides inviting Pakistani speakers, he was inviting Indians, which included people like Kuldip Nayar, Dileep Padgoankar, and others who have an ambivalent stand on Kashmir. Reportedly it was the ISI which would clear names of Indians to be invited. Indian electronic media in the past had questioned the participation by Indian journalists on the ethics of attending such fully paid trip with all hospitality and even expensive mementoes. As usual it was naïve explanations which left everybody dissatisfied. But the latest exposure by the U.S prosecutors at Distt. Court of Virginia has confirmed that "for the last 20 years Fai secretly took millions of dollars from Pakistani intelligence and lied about it to the U.S government. As a paid operative of ISI he did the bidding of his handlers in Pakistan while he met with U.S. elected officials, funded high profile conferences and promoted the Kashmiri cause to decision makers in Washington. He was running an NGO-Kashmir American Council. Yes Dilip Padgoankar, the high profile Kashmir Interlocutor & Co has a lot to explain.
That Taliban receiving Pakistan military equipment is a long held and confirmed view. That U.S military’s investigation reveals this truth is not a surprise. The probe led by Brigadier Gen Stephen Clark, into the Nov 25 U.S Air force strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers had exposed the convergence of area of co-operation between Pakistani Army and Taliban. 3000 Pakistan military issue rifle rounds packed into bandoleers, Pak Military issue binoculars and multiple sets of salwar kameez clothing made from Pakistani military uniforms were confirmed to have been found. The report, which mainly focused on the circumstances that led to the U.S strike that killed Pak soldiers has also revealed the deep suspicions of both U.S and Afghan troops on the trustworthyness of Pakistan as an ally in fighting terror. The report also spoke of insurgent training facility, command and control logistic hub was overlooked by Pak army posts, obviously finger pointing at elements in Pak army as those helping Taliban. This belief was always held by India for a long time, but U.S for its own sake and interest preferred to ignore, yes sometime chicken do come home to roost. But then damage is already done by then.
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar was in India on a tour, attending Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas celebration in Jaipur, as Chief Guest. Like most persons of Indian origin, she called on her roots in Bihar’s non descript village of Bhelupur. It was from here that her ancestors, her grandfather in particular, had left Bihar to the Caribbean archipelago, as an indentured labour, probably forced by the then colonial masters, Britishers. As Mr.Bharat Jagdev, the then President of British Guyana had come to Nawawa village of Bihar in 2008, also in search of his roots, these were superbly success stories of Indian migrants doing extremely well in the development of human potential. As is visibly clear, those from their families, left behind in India are caught in a time warp that they still remained illiterate and poor landless labourers for all the 100+ years that have gone by. A sad commentary on the Indian governance of 64 years. Yes our successive governments of Free India-both federal and state-have failed to create an atmosphere of growth for all its citizens. In this context what Prime Minister Kamla Persad had said need to echo in the portals of Indian parliament. She had reportedly said "Let your children get education. This is the only passport out of poverty… the only way to lift the nation". Do you harken Dr Manmohan Singh, the most learned Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy? Yes it was only 3 years ago that an RTE was passed to make all Indians literate. But, when shall the deliverance come?
Giving unmistakable signs of fairness to the litigant irrespective of cast, creed, religion and even nationality, the Supreme Court of India has ‘quashed the death sentence awarded to a Pakistani’. Short of setting the accused at liberty, due to a split verdict, the apex court at New Delhi requested the Chief Justice of India to constitute another bench to have a last word on the case. Mohd. Hussain was found guilty of involvement in the Delhi blast that killed 4 and injured 24, was awarded death sentence by the Delhi High Court. Apex Court observed that 'prima facie it was not fair trial since there was no lawyer with the accused to defend him, hence a fresh trial is in order'. However, possibility of the alleged accused being freed appeared more since the intervention of the CJI is invoked, because he has already undergone 7 years of imprisonment on death row. The judgement truly reflected the IDEA OF INDIA. No wonder Suhail Seth, a political commentator had recently remarked in a T.V interaction "I am amazed at the Supreme Court.". Some lessons for the Pakistani Supreme Court?!
J. Shriyan

FOCUS

Hindee-Chinee Bye Bye!
It was way back in 1998, former Defence Minister in the NDA government who had famously observed that "China was India’s potential enemy No: 1. Some were shocked, some were surprised, and some smiled and probably muttered "Buddha smiled". Mostly these reactions were ideologically and politically motivated. Since then George Fernandese (GF) was, as the cliché goes "in the eye of the storm". Fernandese was always on the opposite side of Chinese since the days of Chinese annexation of Tibet in 1949. GF was in PSP (Praja Socialist Party) then, and PSP always looked at China as a danger. Somehow Chinese leadership from Mao down to the current leadership did not make things better by either words or actions to change this perception. In fact they did the reverse and sustained a veiled reference to it as "China has an aggressive strategic culture".
As for Tibet, the whole world is aware what China is doing to Tibet and Tibetans. It is the same attitude of aggression that led to the border issues that China raised with India, especially the Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as part of Tibet. Here it is very pertinent to reproduce what the TIME had to say in its Special Issue: ‘2011 in Brief’. Under the caption UNTOLD STORIES, it said, ‘Tibet is rarely in the news these days, possibly because Chinese occupation of the country has entered its 7th decade. But at least 6 Tibetan monks, nuns and former clerics – 2 of them teenagers – burned themselves to death this year to protest Chinese rule. Self immolation’s emergence among Buddhist monks in Tibet illustrates a "new nihilistic desperation that has descended on the Tibetan plateau." Chinese authorities quickly disposed of the bodies, but the images of their suicides couldn’t be erased’. And Chinese do not give a damn to world opinion.
What really got into the head of Chinese leadership is, not only its geographical size but the economic clout it acquired since last 2 decades. It is undeniable that China is indeed an economic power house, and it started using this newly acquired power to browbeat its immediate neighbours, especially India. It was in this context we have to see, "why Niruapma Rao was summoned past midnight by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, to register its concern over alleged breach of security at the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi". Any other country would have possibly waited for the day break. It was indeed a very high handed behaviour especially when the national envoy of the country is a lady. But what was indeed very sad, our leaders buckled and did not oppose the timing of the call.
If some of these direct responses are in the nature of pin pricks, there were many others with far reaching geo-political implications. China as a big brother in the region rode roughshod on just about everybody with impunity. In the name of development partnership, they ensured that these countries which received the largesse of development assistance acted exactly in accordance with their wishes. The greatest and the most irritable thorn in the Chinese flesh is the Dalai Lama, the Spiritual Head of Tibetans in exile. India is the only country which to some extent asserted without being openly combative. And India is the only country which has issues to be resolved, especially the border issue in Arunachal Pradesh, and the area occupied by China in the north eastern part of Jammu & Kashmir, post 1962 war, after Dalai Lama fled Tibet and took shelter in India. Although, the shelter given to Dalai Lama was perfectly in tune with our national ethoes, it cost us a huge price in terms of Chinese belligerence and their intent to teach us a lesson, ‘not to antagonize a country of the size of China’.
Globalisation of trade, commerce and industry has been a boon for both China and India. But China achieved a runaway success unlike India. India too, did very well, during these past twenty plus years, but the democratic system and parliamentary democracy did not allow it to grow as fast as China. Unlike India, China’s industrial clearances are far faster and easier, since system of questioning the authoritative decisions are missing. Cheap labour contributed enormously to the growth of industries, and finished products in the international markets couldn’t stand the Chinese price advantage due to this cheap labour cost. The increased national revenue helped the infrastructure to be developed quantitatively and qualitatively. These infrastructural improvements made FDI welcome and easy. Thus China acquired, due to the gloablisation of trade and industry, unparalleled economic clout. They were slowly and inexorably inching towards their publicly unstated vision of being world No: 1, and has made its intention very clear without verbose, only action. (See box).
Since China had issues with India to be sorted out, they probably decided to be more friendly with those countries with which India had issues to be settled. Pakistan had for sometime tried to fish in the troubled water, between India and China, and were successful, on the principle of enemy’s enemy is a friend. China rewarded Pakistan with the development of Gwadhar port in Sindh ostensibly to help China’s imports and exports. But then they also developed Hambanthota in Sri Lanka, to wean Sri Lanka away from India. Their infrastructural assistance to Bangladesh and Burma too are ostensibly to ensure smooth flow of its import and exports. Of course there is no way India can match China’s economic power so also its military fire power, acquired largely due to the booming economy of last over twenty years.
But more serious is the issue of huge trade imbalance in favour of China. Indian businessmen, not overtly bothered about the national interest have somehow succumbed to the cheap but low quality stuff from China, in their eagerness to make fast buck. And China’s unscrupulous traders and manufacturers have produced and sold world-wide, including India, duplicates of Indian popular products. Reportedly Delhi police have seized and confiscated counterfeited products of popular Indian brands. Importers in India of these products should be very seriously dealt with. But somehow our approach to these offences lack both seriousness and commitment. Look at the way our famed Minister of Home Affairs and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who exhorts Indians to match the Chinese with competiveness. Do we compete with those who are cheats and crooked? It was over a year ago that authorities in Nigeria had seized a consignment of pharma products written ‘made in India’ on its packing but consignment had travelled from main land China. The recent exposure of poor quality drug coming from bulk drug suppliers from China is a case in point. As is known, Indian traders are not the one’s to be worried about the quality. Their worry is primarily the quantum of profit that they would make, either in their exports or their imports. So what, if they are even life saving drugs! Reportedly India is the largest importer of Chinese bulk drugs, as close to 50% of bulk drug exporters registered in India are from China. It was the inspection by the Drug Controller General of India, that exposed the poor quality drugs. Reportedly they have listed some 11 units of such drug manufacturing facilities. Although inspection of exporting company’s manufacturing facility is allowed under WTO trade regulations, an inspection by Central Drug Standard Control Organisation, from India, was not allowed by the Chinese company, during May 2011. So, the fair practices by China is only to be desired. Similarly cases involving sub-standard HIV test kits from suppliers from Zhejiang province are some cases in point. This is the same province where Yiwu city is located, where 2 Indian’s were detained and tortured for the fault of their Yemini master.
Commenting on what happened to two Indian staff of a Yemani businessman in Yiwu city, Mr MV Kamath, former Prasar Bharathi Chairman, had asked "Is China a nation of barbarians?" Reportedly two Indians were detained, since their Yemani master had fled China without paying his creditors, to the tune of about 1.6 million $. Chinese creditors caught these two Indian staff, Deepak Raheja and Shyam Sundar Agarwal, and tortured and allegedly forced them to eat human excreta, with local government doing nothing to save the situation. Now this is a cruelty of the most despicable kind with official connivance. Whatever difference a country may have with another country, same can be treated as a bilateral issue and be attended to it as per normal international convention. But this kind of treatment is beyond rapproache. The treatment of our diplomat by Chinese court was another dimension of their basic insensitive leadership. Our diplomat, a diabetic, attending the court on behalf of those two Indian staff, providing them with consular assistance, collapsed in the court, when he was not allowed to leave the court to take his food and medicine, and he had to be hospitalized. What, if it had become fatal due to hypoglycemia? This kind of behaviour, with official inaction is totally unacceptable.
It was only when the issue became explosive on international media then the Chinese officials at appropriate level responded and the two Indians were let out of the detention. Their case is still being heard. And suddenly the overtures started coming from China. Reportedly an Assistant Foreign Minister had made some right noises to the state run Xinhua News Agency, that "China was willing to make joint efforts with India to enhance strategic mutual trust and properly handle issues concerning the bilateral relationship. China hopes that the two sides will support each other for better and faster development of Sino Indian co-operative partnership and make concerted efforts to improve relation with India in 2012".
"Lets seize ‘golden period’ for relations" was another news that appeared in the print media quoting the Chinese Special Representative on boundary negotiations, Dai Bingguo.
Of course, this entire turn around had been, due to the totally insensitive handling of trade disputes involving two Indians and the treatment meted out to Indian diplomat being exposed in the media, and the advisory by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs "not to do business with Yiwu". And mind you there has been no official regret or any assuaging statements from the official sources. Unfortunately nobody in our government in New Delhi has even remotely demanded an explanation on the whole issue. So if Chinese authorities are taking liberty at arm twisting India and Indians, can they be blamed? We have been accused of being a soft state, and there is nothing emerging officially to prove this accusation wrong.
Going back to these ‘feel good’ responses from some senior Chinese officials, is not a guarantee at all that things would be back on an even keel. It is true that Mr Dai Bingguo, in a detailed address to Indian officials at the inauguration of India’s new embassy building in Beijing, sounded sensible. Reportedly, he laid out a four-pronged approach to improve ties with India, while acknowledging that gaps in understanding persisted between the two countries. While recognising the importance China is apparently attaching to the Indo-China relationship, Indian Ambassador Jaishankar has reportedly warned that ‘both countries needed to remain continuously sensitive to mutual concerns’. However the stress of Mr Dai Bingguo was primarily on the resolution of border issues.
Hence, in our own interest, India should take note of the development in and around our border with Tibet. The Chinese plan to expand its railway net work in Tibet, especially linking to the town of Nyingchi lying on the border very close to Arunachal Pradesh is a matter to serious concern. Of course, India is developing an airfield for quicker mobilisation close to the border. And its recent agreement with Vietnam to develop oil field in the South China sea, despite Chinese opposition, is a move in the right direction. India should also upgrade its relationship from all fronts with the Japanese, who are uncomfortable with the Chinese big brother attitude.
India should take all Chinese overtures on its face value, but at the same time we must develop our own checks and balances in trying to be even with them. Despite appropriate noises, China may not give up its claims after all on the Arunachal Pradesh, and continue to hold the Aksai Chin area. No doubt India should continue to have highly prioritised relationship with China. But it must try to reduce imports from them to match our exports, especially with the very unethical practices of Chinese suppliers and equally unethical practice of Indian traders. Trade balancing should be taken up on priority, to start with. Sharing of information on terrorism from across the border can be another very important issue of mutual concern. With uncertainty looming large on Pakistan’s political landscape, China may be forced to have a relook at India-China relationship, that aspect has to be given due importance. In the end, what Philippine president Beniguo Aquino III said, while answering question on the relationship with China on its dispute in the South China Sea, should hold the candle. "Nobody is really interested in going to a violent conflict to try to resolve the dispute. I hope they understand that. I am duty bound to protect the interest of my country, just as they are protecting theirs" he has reportedly stated. Indian leadership should recognize this and act accordingly.

J.Shriyan

China’s Buy List
While much of the world is in austerity mode, China will be spending. During the downturn in 2009, it upped purchases of coal, copper and iron ore, capitalizing on low prices. Its outbound foreign direct investment is still tiny, but talk that it is looking for alternatives to U.S. Treasury bonds to park its money have sparked speculation as to what China will buy next. Here are some possibilities:
Real estate: Wealthy investors are putting their money in places like Australia, Singapore and Canada and even U.S.
Energy and raw materials: China buys 65% of the world’s iron-ore exports and 40% of its copper and aluminum. It has opened mines everywhere from Zambia to Peru; drills for oil in countries such as Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Sudan; and has invested in natural-gas projects in Australia and Turkey. China is even in the market for coal, because it’s large domestic supply is of low quality. It is putting a greater emphasis on North American projects, wary perhaps of the political risks and accusations of neocolonialism that its extensive projects in Africa face.
Food: With memories of 20th century famines not forgotten, China’s state planers have long tried to minimize reliance on grain imports. But income growth is driving up demand for meat. That in turn drives demand for corn as feed. Despite a record harvest in 2011, in October, China made its largest purchase ever of U.S. corn, and imports are expected to grow in 2012. Likewise, China is now the world’s largest soyabean importer.
Your country: In November the government of Iceland rejected a bid by Chinese tycoon Huang Nubo to buy 115 sq. mi. (298sqkm) of land to build a golf course and resort. The offer generated fears that China would use the land as a base for shipping, mining and drilling opportunities in the Arctic that open up via climate change. Huang said he planned to renew the bid and was considering options elsewhere in Scandinavia and Greenland.
Your movies, magazines and television: The Chinese government worries its story isn’t being told fairly by the western press, leaving it at a serious disadvantage in the realm of soft power. So it’s spending billions to expand China’s media reach. The official China Central Television now broadcasts in English, French, Russian and Arabic in addition to Chinese. The state–run Xinhua news service has moved its New York bureau from Queens to Times Square, and has launched an English-language international television channel, CNC World,
Ageing star athletes: China is one upping oil-rich Middle East teams by jumping into the market for soccer and basketball talent. Former NBA star Stephon Marbury-or Mabuli, as he is known in China-is the biggest crossover. He now plays for the Beijing Ducks. This year he was joined in the Chinese Basketball Association by free agents Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler. In soccer, Chelsea’s French striker Nicolas Anelka joining the Shanghai Shenhua in early 2012. His former Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba is also rumoured to be looking to China.
Aircraft carriers: Two Chinese tycoons bid in 2011 for the retired British aircraft carrier Ark Royal. It’s the latest in a series of used aircraft carriers that China has snapped up; previous buys were from Russia, Ukraine and Australia. Some have been used as tourist attractions, like the ex-Soviet carrier Minsk, on display in Shenzhen, and the Kiev, at a theme park in Tianjin. But a third vessel from the former Soviet fleet, the Varyag, has been refurbished into China’s first active aircraft carrier. China is still in the market for retired ships.

Austin Ramzy

FEATURE

B M Hegde
Education must make healthy minds; not just wealthy careers.
(contd. from last issue...)
Inclusive education for a country like India:
India is a very rich country with the largest world population of the poorest of the poor existing along with the super rich; the former are, of course, in a large majority. Nearly sixty-seven million children in India have a peculiar disease, Nutritional Immune Deficiency Syndrome, (NIDS) which is deadlier than AIDS. While the whole world population of AIDS is just about 33 million about which there seems to be so much interest among the public and the medical profession, NIDS is not even mentioned in textbooks in medical school! Those children die in hundreds daily. The question of their going to school does not arise. Even if they did they would not be able to go any further as they have inherited small hippocampus major, the part of the brain vital for memory, recall, creativity and learning. The reason for that defect is again poverty in their mothers when they were pregnant. Since the first trimester of pregnancy is when all the human organs are formed in the foetus inside the womb, if the mother suffers from malnutrition, organs are poorly made and they produce permanent damage in the offspring later. If we want inclusive education in India we have to tackle poverty at a war footing. Nutritional midday meal for pregnant mothers is a must-much more important than midday meal for the children!
Business called education:
That will also put an end to this pernicious belief among greedy industrial honcho’s that education is a multibillion dollar industry which they think they can grab and make profit along with getting social respectability! Their unhealthy mind is the fruit of our present higher education they received both in India and abroad, especially our new breed of business managers who are the ardent followers of Mandeville. Even in the National Health System of UK the hospital managers seem to have damaged the system so badly that the powers that be are having second thoughts about new NHS reforms. Teaching business management in isolation without teaching social philosophy, social conscience, moral responsibility and business humanism will bring forth a set of unscrupulous greedy sharks who would market unethical business tricks of the trade. While it is true that education is a mind sharpening business it is definitely not a money spinning business.
Down side of elite education:
Let us look at the down side of elite education. I can never do better than this young sharp brain of an associate professor of English at Yale, William Dereswiecz, in his classical paper, Disadvantages of Elite Education, in the journal, American Scholar? He is the victim of such education himself right from day one in elite private schools through two decades in Harvard and Yale and many other Ivy League institutions. William was not talking of the usual "curricula or the culture wars, the closing or opening of the American mind, political correctness, canon formation, or what have you." He was talking about the unspoken and unsaid things in normal educational parlance such as "the private and affluent public "feeder" schools, the ever-growing para-structure of tutors and test-prep courses and enrichment programs, the whole admissions frenzy and everything that leads up to and away from it…Before, after, and around the elite college classroom, a constellation of values is ceaselessly inculcated. As globalization sharpens economic insecurity, we are increasingly committing ourselves—as students, as parents, as a society—to a vast apparatus of educational advantage. With so many resources devoted to the business of elite academics and so many people scrambling for the limited space at the top of the ladder, it is worth asking what exactly it is you get in the end—what it is we all get, because the elite students of today, as their institutions never tire of reminding them, are the leaders of tomorrow."
The glaring disadvantages of elite education are that it removes one from the stark reality of life in this world. The student does not have touch with the most important problem of life-poverty. Students from such schools are uncomfortable in the company of the poor and people coming from non elite schools. The former are fed that they are the best and those institutions especially the Ivy League try and see that their students get the A grade all the time. If one were to audit the average grading, GPA used to be around 2.6 in most institutions. Now most government institutions in the USA have an average of 3 and private ones of 3.6! If a student in a State college gets A grade it is true "A" as s/he has no avenues to make it to A otherwise at any rate, as happens in Ivy League where As could be manipulated. Elite schools create an atmosphere where greed gets generated in the student’s mind. Students are reminded that they are the best and they are the leaders of the future. Many of these leaders are not in touch with reality. One example he quotes are Al Gore and John Kerry from Harvard and Yale. Both are smart, intelligent, and successful but have been miserable failures with the electorate. I can quote the innate electoral wisdom of people like George Bush in the USA or Lallu Prasad Yadav in India, neither of them is from Ivy League.
In life also we try and give A grade to some people in preference to others. One example is the fat pay packets that the top managers of some private companies get. In the industry they are "A" graders. If one had a trained healthy mind during his/her education he/she would have realized that it is unethical, even down right sinful, to receive a pay packet which is more than hundred thousand times the pay of the lowest paid employee of the same organization. Both are born alike and both will die alike. The only difference is the different opportunities they had in their early educational career-one coming from the Ivy League where he got in because of what William describes above, in addition to his affluence in society. This gap between the haves and the "have nots" that has been growing wider by the day, thanks to unhealthy educational system, is at the root of many social ills-Noblesse Oblige.
We have had the IITs created by the brains of an American University Consortium which has helped create a new class of Indians who pride themselves to be superior to others vis-à-vis their pay packets at campus selection lists. It is a shame that even the institutions pride themselves by advertising the offer of pay packets for their alumni as synonymous with the quality of education that they impart. I would be happy to know in which field IITs have taken knowledge forwards in India during their existence. "Knowledge advances not by repeating known facts, but by refuting false dogmas." With that definition of Karl Popper the only research which is worth its salt is refutative research. I know of no such work being done by our IITs which could set River Ganges on fire.
Industry-Academia marriages:
There was a time, a couple of decades ago; when Universities thought that they would be better off getting themselves tagged on to some industry for mutual benefit and for better funding of research etc. Within a very short span of time such arranged marriages ran into rough weather. It was soon realized that the corporate greed started manipulating research activities to such an extent that genuine research flew out of university widows! In the UK many such marriages have ended in agreed divorce without alimony payments, though! The grip of the vested interests on science research is still worrying. They manipulate textbook writing to research grant distribution and research publications in "leading" journals and sexing-up data to suit their business even today! This is worrying to say the least.
Conclusion:
In conclusion, one could take the best of both the worlds and make a new system that incorporates the positives, bereft of the disadvantages of either for future education in India. Foreign Universities will, of course, be most welcome as they would give a tough competition to our Universities to come up to survive in the midst of such healthy competition. But we must not forget that Universities exist ONLY to make healthy minds. Careers are secondary in University education. Career based vocational education at the end of good primary education at High School level must be encouraged to lessen the unnecessary burden on Universities. It is necessary to emphasize that education is not a money spinning business lest all our efforts to give our country a new ethical "healthy mind making" educational system to prepare our youth to be healthy world citizens of tomorrow, should go down the drain as happened in the past.

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." -Dante Alighieri

SERIAL : 41

GANG LEADER FOR A DAY
Black and Blue
A few weeks later, Reggie invited me to a South Side bar frequented by black cops. "I think you’re getting a real one-sided view of our work," he said.
His offer surprised me. Reggie was a reserved man, and he rarely introduced me to other police officers even if they were standing nearby. He preferred to speak with me behind closed doors – in Ms. Bailey’s office, inside the Boys & Girls Club, or in his car.
We met at the bar on a Saturday afternoon. It was located a few blocks from the precinct and Robert Taylor. It was nondescript on the outside, marked only by some neon beer signs. On either side of it lay fast-food restaurants, liquor stores, and check-cashing shops. Even Reggie didn’t know the bar’s actual name. "I’ve been coming here for fifteen years," he said, and I never even bothered to ask." He and the other cops just called it "the Lounge." The place was just as nondescript inside: a long wooden bar, several tables, dim lighting, some Bears and Bulls posters. It had the feel of a well-worn den in a working-class home. All the patrons were black and at least in their mid-thirties, with a few old-timers nursing an afternoon beer.
Reggie sat us down at a table and introduced me to three of his off-duty colleagues. From the outset they seemed wary of speaking about their work. And since I never liked to question people too much until I got to know them, the conversation was stiff to say the least. In a short time, we covered my ethnic background, the Chicago Bears, and the strange beliefs of the university crowd in Hyde Park. The cops, like most working-class Chicagoans, thought that Hyde Park liberals-myself included, presumably-held quaint, unrealistic view of reality, especially in terms of racial integration. To these men Hyde Park was known as the "why can’t everyone just get along?" part of town.
One of the cops, a man named Jerry, sat staring at me the entire time. I felt sure I’d seen him before. He was quietly drinking whiskey shots with beer chasers. Once in a while, he’d spit out a question: "So you think you know a lot about gangs, huh?" or "What are you going to write about Mr. Professor?" I got a little nervous when he started calling me "Mr. Professor," since that’s how I was known in J.T’s building. Was this just a coincidence?
The more Officer Jerry drank, the more belligerent he became, "You university types like to talk about how much you know, don’t you?" he said. "You like to talk about how you’re going to solve all these problems, don’t you?"
Reggie shot me a glance as if to say that I’d better defend myself. "Well, if you think I don’t know something, why don’t you teach me?" I said. I’d had a few beers myself by now, and I probably sounded more aggressive than I’d intended.
"Motherfucker!" Jerry leaned in hard toward me. "You think I don’t know who you fucking are? You think we all don’t know what you’re doing? If you want to play with us, you better be real careful. If you like watching, you may get caught."
A shiver ran over me when he said "watching." Now I knew exactly where I’d seen him. In J.T.’s buildings Officer Jerry was well known, and by my estimation he was a rogue cop. Some months earlier, I’d been sitting in a stairwell interviewing a few prostitutes and pimps. I heard a commotion in the gallery. The stairwell door was partially open; looking out, I could see three police officers busting open an apartment door. Two of them, one black and one white, ran inside. The third, who was black, stayed outside guarding the door. He didn’t seem to notice us.
A minute later the cops hauled out a man and a teenage boy. Neither of them resisted, and neither seemed very surprised. The teenager was handcuffed, and they forced him to the floor. The mother was screaming, as was the baby in her arms.
Then a fourth cop showed up, swaggering down the hall. It was Officer Jerry. He wore black pants, a black and blue fleece jacket, and a bulletproof vest. He started to beat and kick the father violently. "Where’s the money, nigger?" he shouted. "Where’s the cash?"
I was shocked. I glanced at the folks I’d been talking to in the stairwell. They looked as if they’d seen this before, but they also looked anxious, sitting in silence in the apartment hope that the cops wouldn’t come for them next.
Finally the man relented. He, too, lay on the floor, bloodied. "In the oven," he said, "in the oven."
Officer Jerry went inside and returned with a large brown bag. "Don’t fuck with us," he told the father. "You hear me?"
The father just sat there, dazed. The other cops took the handcuffs off the teenager and let him back into the apartment.
Just as Officer Jerry was leaving, one of the pimps sitting next to me accidentally dropped a beer bottle. Officer Jerry turned looked down the gallery, straight at us. I jumped back, but he stomped into the stairwell. He cast his eye over the lot of us. "Get the fuck out of here!" he said. Then, noticing me, he smirked, as if I were no more significant than a flea.
Once he left, I asked one of the pimps, Timothy, about Officer Jerry. "He gets to come in the building whenever he wants and get a piece of the action," he said. Timothy told me that Sonny, the man that Officer Jerry had just beaten, stole cars for a living but had apparently neglected to pay his regular protection fee to Officer Jerry. "We always joke that whenever officer Jerry runs out of money, he comes in here and beats up a nigger," Timothy said. "He got me once last year. Took two hundred bucks and then my girl had to suck his dick. Asshole."
In the coming months, I learned that Officer Jerry was a notorious presence in the building. I heard dozens of stories from tenants who said they’d suffered all forms of harassment, abuse, and shakedowns at the hands of Officer Jerry. It was hard to corroborate these stories, but based on what I’d seen with m y own eyes, they weren’t hard to believe. And to some degree, it probably didn’t much matter whether all the reports of his abusive behavior were true. In the projects, the "bad cop" story was a myth that residents spread at will out of sheer frustration that they lived in a high-crime area where the police presence was minimal at best, unchecked at worst.
Now, sitting across the table from him at the Lounge, I started to feel extremely nervous. What if he somehow knew that I had recorded all these incidents in my notebooks?
He sat there sputtering with rage, shaking the table. I looked over at Reggie, hoping for some help.
"Jerry, leave him alone," Reggie said quietly, fiddling with his beer. "He’s okay."
"Okay? Are you kidding me? You trust that motherfucking Ay-rab?! Jerry tossed back his shot and grabbed the beer. I thought he might throw the bottle at me. He let out a nasty laugh. "Just tell him to say out of my way."
"Listen, I’m only trying to get a better understanding of what you do," I said. "Maybe I could tell you a little bit about my research."
"Fuck you," Jerry said, staring me down. "You write any of that shit down, and I’ll come after your ass. You got me? I don’t want to talk to you, I don’t want you talking to nobody else, and I don’t want to see you around these motherfucking projects. I know who you are, motherfucker. Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing."
Reggie grabbed my arm and threw a twenty-dollar bill on the table. "Let’s go," he said.
When we got to the car, Reggie started the ignition but didn’t drive away. He began to speak gently but firmly, his tone almost parental. "Sudhir, I brought you here today because these guys wanted to know who you are and what you’re up to. I didn’t want to tell you that, because I knew you’d be nervous. They know you’re watching, they know you’ve seen them in the building, they know you’re going to be writing something. I told them that you were a good person. Jerry was too drunk—I’m sorry about that."
Reggie held his silence for a few minutes, looking out at the busy street.
"I think you have to make decision, Sudhir," he said. "And I can’t make it for you. I never really asked you what you’ll be writing about. I thought you were just helping the club, but then Autry told me last week that you’re writing about life in the projects. You and I have talked about a lot of things. But we never talked about whether you would write what I say. I hope not. I mean, if you are, I’d like you to tell me right now. But that’s not really the problem, because I’m not afraid of what I do or what I am."
Up to this point, Reggie knew that I was interviewing families and others for my graduate research. A few months later, we wound up talking further about my dissertation, and he said it would be okay to include anything he’d told me, but we agreed to change his name so he couldn’t be identified.
At this moment, however, what really concerned me was the reaction of his colleagues. "Reggie, are you telling me I need to worry if I write about cops?"
"Police don’t talk a lot to people like you," he said. "Like Jerry. He doesn’t want people watching what he does. I know you’ve seen him do some stupid shit. I know you’ve seen a lot of people do some stupid shit. But you need to decide: What good does it do to write about what he does? If you want to work around here, maybe you keep some of this out."
I left Reggie that evening not knowing what I should do. If I wanted to write about effective policing—like the good, creative work that Reggie did—I would feel compelled to write about abusive policing as well.
A week later I was talking to Autry about my dilemma. We were having a beer in the South Shore apartment where he lived with his wife and children. South Shore was a stately neighborhood with pockets of low-income apartments that someone like Autry could afford. He had moved there to keep his children away from street gangs.
Autry insisted that I not write about the police. His explanation was revealing. "You need to understand that there are two gangs in the projects," he said. "The police are also a gang, but they really have the power. I mean, these niggers run around with money and cars, but at any moment the cops can get them off the street. They know about you. They’ve been talking with me and I’ve been telling them you’re okay, but they want to know what you’re looking for."
"Why didn’t you tell me this before?" I asked.
"I didn’t want to worry you, and you haven’t done nothing wrong," he said. "But you need to do what I do. Never, never, never piss off the police."
When I pressed Autry on the subject, he wouldn’t say anything more, other than flatly repeating his advice: "Don’t write about them."
to be continued...

YOUTH CORNER

An Open Letter to Anna Hazare
Dear Annaji,
I write to you as someone who has closely monitored your movements in your quest for the Jan-Lokpal bill. I am a twenty something, & a proud Indian not in the context of the times we live in, but also for much of what India has stood for down the ages.
Please don’t claim to say that you represent the voice of more than 120 crore people of India. I am not your fan, nor your supporter in anyway. Along with me, I have my dalit brothers, adivasis & many more religious minorities to whom your movement has turned a blind eye for. We are also included in the Idea of India. No doubt the publicity you got has put the issues of corruption both in high places of government and into lives of common man. But you know what, 65 years later, we have still managed corruption, if not tolerated. There are far too many issues to deal with urgently & the way in which you point a finger at the government and the amount of hurry your team exhibits is unasking for. How can self proclaimed leaders project themselves as messiahs of the masses. I am not sure what kind of deal your team might have done with the main stream news channels, because there were days where they covered just Jan-lokpal as if there was nothing else happening anywhere in india. It is a matter of extreme surprise to me as to how the triad of Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravishankar & yourself realised the need for anti-corruption at the same time? Should I think as mere coincidence? Why don’t you support the right to food issue? Why have you forgotten to extend your support to eradicate communal violence by pointing a finger at the government point blank. That is chalta- hai issue right?
My heart also wishes just like you to wipe out corruption. But when there are hidden motives, I feel its a dangerous attempt. In fact we should also support the cause of Swami Nigmananda & Medha Patkar always. They too fight for a purpose. It affects everyone directly or indirectly. What makes me laugh is the youth of the country who supported you, didn’t know why they were supporting Jan Lok-pal. On asking some of them, the reply came was, its fun to be away from college & school & do time pass on the roads. Moreover, conducting bike-rallies and wasting so much of resources is unbecoming for a movement so very transparent. While everyone from a village level patwari to the prime minister would be answerable to the Lokpal, the Lokpal itself would be answerable to no one at all. Or rather to God. If a movement sets itself above the constitution and challenges democracy, a pillar of the constitution, why should you get support. According to you corruption will put an end to most of India’s problems. But I am afraid it may not. The problems of malnutrition, infant & maternal mortality, Human Development Index & such will not see improvement with the coming of Jan-Lokpal. I am curious to know, how you got this idea of wiping out corruption suddenly. Its better late than never, true to it, I sincerely appreciate your effort. But it would have been much better if you had also remembered the cause of religious minorities, dalits, adivasis. India would have saluted you, if you had given a strategy to elevate Brand India with regard to education, poverty and fought also for peace. However enacting/enforcing a law will still remain a billion dollar question.
Ashoka’s Lion was adopted as a symbol of the Indian state by the makers of the constitution. The signature of India at 65 stands defanged and helpless. When they roar, the vulture laughs. Can we change that?
Yours sincerely
Edmond Fernandes,
Mangalore.
 
(Thanks for the piece that you sent. You have a right to express, and you have expressed. We do believe that, they must be honest and sincere. However your perception of Team Anna’s efforts are not exactly correct. Some aspects you are right and in some other there are explanations you need to find out. But fact remains, that the movement has really made the government act, although reluctantly and ineffectively. It has demonstrated, -'Jana andolan' the power of demonstration. That you wrote itself is a proof. Surely as a Indian you realize that there are hundreds of ISSUES. Corruption is the biggest of it all. Our problems persisted because 85 paise of the rupee got lost-in-transit, with only 15 paise reaching the target. What we need is more such movements. Can you start and lead a movement on issues you raised? We can help muster people.
– Editor)

MEDICAL FRONTIERS

Anti-stress peptide in brain
could help treat alcoholism

Washington: Scientists have highlighted the power of an endogenous anti-stress peptide in the brain to prevent and even reverse some of the cellular effects of acute alcohol and alcohol dependence in animal models. The work by scientists at the Scripps Research Institute could lead to the development of novel drugs to treat alcoholism. Specifically, the study led by Scripps Research Associate Professor Marisa Roberto examined the interaction between two competing agents – one a stress peptide that promotes excessive alcohol drinking the other an anti-stress peptide that opposes it.
The results confirm that drugs derived from the anti-stress peptide nociceptin could play an important role in treating a complex and multi-faceted disease.
Roberto and her team focus on the central nucleus of the amygdala, a region of the brain that has long been implicated in the elevated anxiety and excessive drinking associated with alcohol dependence and withdrawal. In previous animal studies, Roberto and her colleagues demonstrated that a particular stress peptide produced in the amygdala, corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF), plays a key role in the transition from alcohol use to alcohol dependence. They also demonstrated that nociceptin, a peptide that structurally resembles endogenous opioids, can both prevent and reverse some effects of alcohol.
At the behavioural level, nociceptin regulates anxiety and alcohol drinking in rats.

Pig’s heart valve saves life of vegetarian woman
London: A vegetarian in Scotland was saved from a serious heart ailment after being fitted with a pig’s heart valve, in a life or death surgery. Robyn Carnie, then 18, had a difficult decision to make when she had to be fitted with a pig’s valve after being diagnosed with a rare heart disease aortic stenosis and regurgitation. Her body’s largest artery had narrowed, allowing blood to flow back into the heart –a condition that affects just two per cent of the population. She was told that, as a matter of life and death, she needed a complex surgery to replace her own failing heart valve with an animal valve. Surgeons fitted Carnie with a pig valve, which should last around 20 years, in an operation at the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank in 2009. Carnie also admits that after the surgery she is now fitter and stronger than ever, and can continue to pursue her dreams of becoming a sports therapist.

HEALTH

Broccoli, sprouts prevent cancer

Washington: Scientists have found how a substance, which is produced when eating broccoli and Brussels sprouts, can block the proliferation of cancer cells. Researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solve Research Institute (OSUCCC-James) have found compelling evidence indicating that the substance, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), may have anticancer effects and other health benefits. These findings show how I3C affects cancer cells and normal cells. The laboratory and animal study discovered a connection between I3C and a molecule called Cdc25A, which is essential for cell division and proliferation.
The research showed that I3C causes the destruction of that molecule and thereby blocks the growth of breast cancer cells.
"Cdc25A is present at abnormally high levels in about half of breast cancer cases, and it is associated with a poor prognosis," said study leader Xianghong Zou, assistant professor of pathology at the Ohio State University Medical Center. The molecule also occurs at abnormally high levels in cancers of the breast, prostate, liver, oesophagus, endometrium and colon, and in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and in other diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, he said. "For this reason, a number of anti-Cdc25 agents have been identified, but they have not been successful for cancer prevention or treatment due to concerns about their safety or efficacy," said Zou. "I3C can have striking effects on cancer cells," he explains, "and a better understanding of this mechanism may lead to the use of this dietary supplement as an effective and safe strategy for treating a variety of cancers and other human diseases associated with the over-expression of Cdc25A," he added.
For the study, the researchers exposed three breast cancer cell lines to I3C. These experiments revealed that the substance caused the destruction of Cdc25A.
They also pinpointed a specific location on that molecule that made it susceptible to I3C, showing that if that location is altered (because of a gene mutation), I3C no longer causes the molecule’s destruction. In the end, the investigators tested the effectiveness of I3C in breast tumours in a mouse model.
When the substance was given orally to the mice, it reduced tumour size by up to 65 percent. They also showed that I3C had no affect on breast-cell tumours in which the Cdc25A molecule had a mutation in that key location.
The study was published online in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.



How to Do It Yourself?


From ouch to aaahhh!
If you are injured and clutch the painful area of the body, your perception of the acute pain reduces. But it does not work if someone else touches the injury. Touching is an important way of sending a picture of our body to our brain and the way the body is represented in the brain is key to reducing perceptions of acute pain, says Current Biology, quoting the findings of a research team at University College London (UCL).
A researcher explained: "We showed that levels of acute pain depend not just on the signals sent to the brain, but also on how the brain integrates these signals into a coherent representation of the body as a whole".
A holistic perception?



An egg a day keeps unwanted calories at bay


London: While an apple a day is known for keeping the doctor away, researchers suggest going to work on an egg everyday could be the best way to start the day. For, they say, it can also keep unwanted intake of calories at bay. According to a Surrey University study, the first of its kind in Britain, eating eggs for breakfast can help slash the calories eaten at lunch and dinner. They keep us fuller for longer compared with other common breakfast foods.
The researchers suggest eggs are also better for people who want to resist afternoon snacks on biscuits, cake or chocolate.
The study tested three typical breakfasts with the same level of calories – eggs on toast, cornflakes with milk and toast, or a croissant and orange juice.
Adding to the growing body of evidence to support eggs as a key ingredient of weight-loss diets, the Surrey team found volunteers felt fuller for longer and had a lower desire to eat after the egg breakfast compared with the other ones.
The egg breakfast also led to a significantly lower intake of energy at lunch and evening meals compared with the other common breakfasts.


YEH MERA INDIA

Son acts & mother pays

Hyderabad: Upset with RTI queries seeking information on its funding, a city school terminated the services of a teacher whose son had filed the applications. KN Saikumar, a 20-year-old BSc student of Osmania University had sought information using RTI from the district education officer (DEP) about the school where his mother was working for the past one and a half years. The two queries filed with the department, however, angered the management that asked the teacher to leave.
Saikumar had filed two RTI applications on July 15 and October 10, 2011 regarding Bharatha Abhyudaya High School, Jiyaguda, a government aided school run by Bharatha Abhyudaya Siksha Samithi Trust. In his queries, he sought details about the functioning of the school, which included funds utilized and received, number of teaching and non-teaching staff, their salaries, student strength, number of sanctioned and unsanctioned posts among others. The school management first warned Saikumar and his mother, K Rukminibhai to stop insisting on these details. Finally, on January 2, 2012, she was dismissed from service. No notice or reason was given. "What I have done is legal under the RTI Act," said Saikumar. Currently, the case is pending at the AP Information Commission as the school had failed to give any information on the two RTIs filed.
According to Saikumar, trouble started soon after he had filed the RTI application with the deputy educational officer, Golconda zone. "Soon after the school management realized that it was me who was seeking details, they started harassing my mother. I was called to the office and warned against filing such queries. After my mother was dismissed, I went to the school management to ask the reason and they said they would take her back if I stopped insisting on details," he said.
Saikumar met the Hyderabad collector on January 9 in this regard and is now planning to move the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) soon.
The school authorities refused to comment. "It is none of your concern to know about this issue and we do not want to disclose or talk about it," said a member of the management of the school.
M Somi Reddy, DEO, Hyderabad district, said that he was aware of the incident and would probe the matter soon and take necessary action on it.

Kashmiri children soak in the Idea of India


Hyderabad: Born and raised amid the sound of bullets, a bunch of children from Jammu and Kashmir are living the time of their life more than 2,000 km away from home.
Breathing in the balmy winter air here, Jaanu Choudhary, from Kalal, the last village in Naushera sector of Rajouri district along the LoC was awestruck on discovering a world beyond the fields of his villages and his government school.
Mohd. Zannaidh, from Dabbar Potha village in Rajouri, was short of breath, though not running short of words, as he tried describing the maiden train journey in his 14-year life.
The Deccan Chronicle interacted with the batch of 25 children from different villages in the militancy-hit Naushera sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
Making the first ever trip outside their small terror-haunted world, these children visited Delhi Public School, Secunderabad, besides taking a tour of other places in the city. All courtesy 33 Rashtriya Rifles in Rajouri, which undertook this initiative to acquaint these children with the rest of India, while dispelling some myths.
That the Army has earned respect is seen in Class XI students Riaz Ahmed and Altaf. Both coming from Chak Zarda and eldest in the group, they are now gunning for admission in the NDA.
The kids were exited by the train journey.
Rajesh Choudhary, the physical training teacher from Kalal is accompanying the group. Major Rakesh Khatkar of 33 RR accompanying these kids from Rajouri expressed the need for exposure of the young generation to the feeling of patriotism and camaraderie of the nation.


Cops terrorise RTI activist


Hyderabad: Days after chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy wished to see every police station in the state work like a corporate office and the complainant received warmly, a Right to Information (RTI) activist was nearly subjected to the third degree treatment by inspector K Srinivas Rao after he walked into Kukatpally police station, and only timely intervention by higher-ups saved him from being arrested and slapped with false cases.
Human Rights and Consumer Protection cell (HRCP) activist Thakur Raj Kumar Singh said he had lodged a complaint with the Kukatpally police on Dec 5, 2011, regarding the encroachment of a piece of land in Kukatpally by land grabbers. When he went to the police station to enquire about the status of the complaint, Thakur said, he was told by inspector Srinivas that it had been thrown into the dustbin. In response, Thakur presented an RTI application to the inspector seeking to know what action the police had taken on the complaint given by him. Srinivas, however, refused to accept the RTI application.
Thakur was then taken into the inspector’s chamber where three persons in civil clothes were present. According to him, one of the three linked him to an encounter in Dhoolpet area and charged him with being a member of a criminal gang that carried out the killing. However, Thakur had alerted his activist colleagues, who in turn contacted the ACP of Balanagar. The ACP called up Srinivas upon which Thakur was let off.
HRCP activists suspect that the unknown persons, who claimed to be retired policemen, were actually land grabbers and that Srinivas was in collusion with them to protect their interests. Thakur lodged complaints with the Cyberabad police commissioner, State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and chief information commissioner against the high-handed behavior of the Kulkatpally inspector and demanded action against him. `
However, until evening, no action was forthcoming. When contacted, Cyberabad police commissioner Ch Dwaraka Tirumala Rao told STOI that the complaint lodged by Thakur in his office had still not been brought to his notice and suggested that Madhapur DCP T Yoganand be contacted. However, the DCP too feigned ignorance about the complaint.
The RTI activists charged that atrocities and excesses by the police in the city and surrounding areas had been increasing by the day. "No wonder the common man dreads to enter a police station. The chief minister’s call to the cops to become people-and-complainant-friendly is a farce and nothing is likely to be accomplished by his directive to the cops," said one activist.


Rs 30 crore recovered from clerk’s residence in MP


Bhopal: The Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of the Madhya Pradesh Police conducted raids on three properties belonging to a government clerk and unearthed assets of more than Rs 30 crore, officials said.
During the raids in Indore, the police team recovered documents of several properties of the clerk, Raman Dhuldhoye, including 49 acres of land on the Indore-Kandwa Road, four plots in the Sagar district, eight cars, gold and silver ornaments, several bank accounts and lockers.
The clerk, who works in the Road Transport Office (RTO) has a personal assistant named Rupesh Kaushal, reports IANS. The police team also raided Kaushal’s house and found documents related to Raman’s properties there.
"The farmhouse land, which also comprises a huge bungalow, was purchased at the cost of Rs 12 crore a few years back. It is situated in one of Indore’s prime locations.
Hence now, its cost would have multiplied several times," said Superintendent of Police, Manoj Singh from the EOW team.

MONTH THAT WAS

SEC permits eunuchs to contest civic polls

Nagpur: In a major decision, the state election commission has permitted hundreds of eunuchs residing in the city to enter the fray in the civic elections as per their gender listed in voters’ list or in the open category. In a letter to the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), SEC’s additional secretary DM Kaned stated that eunuchs are demanding reservation in the civic elections. The SEC received many letters in this regard. There is no provision in the Act to reserve any ward for eunuchs. They may contest the elections as per their gender listed in the voters’ list or in the wards reserved as open for all, the letter said. SEC issued the letter to all collectors and municipal commissioners. Accordingly, NMC also issued a press release to make the SEC communication known to citizens. "If a eunuch has listed the gender as male in voters list then he can contest in the wards open for men. Almost all eunuchs register their gender as male. Besides, they can also contest from open wards. They have the opportunity to contest from many wards," said an official.


School principals to get course in management

New Delhi: Principals and headmasters of government schools across the country will soon get a course in management studies to evolve leadership qualities in them.
The Human Resource Development Ministry has decided to ask vice chancellors of central universities to create specialized management courses for principals and headmasters and enroll heads of all schools located near their campuses.
A brainchild of Union HRD minister Kapil sibal, the move is expected to help schools overcome several shortcomings and ensure better school system by improving quality leadership at the top. The proposal is expected to be put forth at the next meeting of vice chancellors of central universities. Sources stated that once the proposal is cleared by the vice chancellors, the HRD ministry hopes to put it into place in the next academic year.
The HRD Ministry is also expected to seek the help of IIMs in the creation of a specialized management and leadership programme for principals.
The programme is expected to aid the principals and headmasters of government schools in better management of human and financial resources. The principals are also expected to be taught new-age management techniques and to help them evolve ideas for development of their schools.


Jaya doles out freebies to check school dropouts

Chennai: In a bid to increase enrolment and check dropouts at school level, particularly in villages, the Tamil Nadu government announced a slew of measures, including free footwear and bags to students, and allocated about Rs 491 crore for the purpose.
Students of Class 1 to 8 would receive two more sets of uniforms in addition to the existing two sets from the coming academic year, Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha said.
Besides, nearly 92 lakh students would also receive school bags, geometry boxes and colour pencil boxes, she said.


To pay tuition fees Brits turn to ?

London: Rising tuition fees have forced British students into the sex industry. IANS reports quoting an article in the ‘Daily Telegraph’.
The National Union of Students said students were taking on the "dangerous" work to cope with the cost of going to university, with fees going up to 9,000 pounds from 2012, the ‘Daily Telegraph’ reported.
The union said many others turned to gambling or were taking part in medical experiments to earn money.
"In an economic climate where there are very few jobs, where student support has been massively cut, people are taking more work in the informal economy such as sex work," the union’s national women’s officer Estelle Hart told BBC Radio 5.
Government reforms have also meant the education – maintenance allowance (EMA), which offered bursaries to 16 to 19-years-olds, has been scrapped.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and skills told ‘Daily Telegraph’. Under the current university funding system, no student has to pay in advance for tuition and there is a generous package of financial support to help with living costs in the form of loans and non-repayable grants.
"Our reforms will make the system even fairer, with more financial support and lower monthly repayments once you are in well-paid work."
A Department for Education spokesman said: "We are targeting £ 180 million a year financial support at the most vulnerable 16 to 19-year-olds to help them continue their studies – with transitional funding for the students who were getting the top rate of EMA and part-way through their studies.
"It is down to schools and colleges themselves to award bursaries to young people who need the most help.
"If students are really struggling financially, they need to speak directly to their tutors."

Israel UAVs track naxals in Bastar

Raipur: The Israel-made unmanned Aerial vehicle (UAV) Heron is proving effective in tracking down movements of Naxals in Bastar jungles, leading to sharp decline in Maoist violence in the past three months in Chhattisgarh, sources in CRPF, which is in charge of its operation said. The UAV, which has been on trial operations in Bastar since October, has sent live pictures showing Naxal movements in some parts of south Bastar.


Metro Man rides into the sunset!

New Delhi: After 15 years of eventful tenure as Delhi Metro chief, E Sreedharan handed over the baton to his colleague Mangu Singh, who oversaw the 31st Dec.2011 construction of the swanky Airport Express Metro Line. The 79-year-old Sreedharan, who joined the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in 1997, formally handed over the charge to Singh, a civil engineer, at a brief ceremony at the Metro Bhawan at Barakhamba Road here. "Singh, 56, a civil engineer from Roorkee University, will assume charge as the new DMRC chief" a DMRC spokesman said. Singh was selected by a three-member panel consisting of union Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna, Delhi Chief Secretary P K Tripathi and outgoing DMRC chief Sreedharan.



ABRACADABRA

Rs 2 crore worth study - US to tell how India can improve its politicians

Washington: The US is funding a study-worth more than Rs 2 crores – on how local politicians in India can improve as elected officials through better communications, which a key American Senator has determined as a waste of taxpayers’ money, PTI reports.
"With record-low approval ratings for US lawmakers, it is unclear why taxpayers are paying for this type of project in another country", says the report "Wastebook 2011: A Guide to Some of the Most Wasteful and Low Priority Government Spending of 2011," released by the Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn.
In April last year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded USD 425,642 to research the effects of providing information to citizens on the performance record of local lawmakers.
The investigators will follow citizens and officials in Delhi for two years, seeking to measure how much of an impact the dissemination of information among the citizens has on the decisions and performance of local officials.
"It is unclear, however, why India, one of largest nations in the world, would be interested in taking instructions from the US on how to improve its political culture," the report said.
India is the world’s fifth-largest economy, and is accumulating wealth at one the fastest rates in the world.
Some reports estimate India’s economy will overtake the US by mid-century.
"It is also unclear why the US is paying for research on a country that owns USD 40 billion of our national debt, making them one of the major foreign holders of US Treasury securities," it said.
"Strangely, India is also a significant beneficiary of US foreign aid, receiving over USD 126 million in health, economic, and security assistance last year," it said.
The report has listed some 100 such wasteful expenditures by the US Government. This project of the NSF on India is ranked 80.
"This report details 100 of the countless unnecessary, duplicative, or just plain stupid projects spread throughout the federal government and paid for with your tax dollars this year that highlight the out-of control and shortsighted spending excesses in Washington," Coburn said.


Pen works despite being in woman’s stomach for 25 years!

London: It seems the pen is mightier than the stomach also. A woman who swallowed a pen 25-years-ago has it removed – and it still works. In fact, the surprising find only came to light after the woman, now 76, visited her doctor suffering from weight loss and diarrhoea. An urgent investigation revealed areas of her large intestine had become inflamed, which was causing the abdominal pain. Doctors at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Foundation Trust then took a CT scan of her abdomen where they were amazed to find a "linear object" that looked much like a pen, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported. When questioned, the patient remembered that 25 years before she had used a felt-tip pen to poke her tonsils while looking at them in a mirror. However, she had then fallen forward off a step and swallowed the pen by accident. The doctors performed a gastroscopy, which confirmed there was a plastic felt-tip pen sitting in the lumen of the women’s stomach, it hadn’t caused her any gastric damage, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported. The medical team decided that they should remove the pen as there was a small risk it could perforate her stomach lining. It was removed under general anesthetic and amazingly the doctors found the pen was still in working order. Reporting the case in the ‘British Medical Journal’ Case Reports, the team led by Dr Oliver Waters, concluded: "Occasionally it may be worth believing the patient’s account however unlikely it may be."

Yoga, work of the devil: Gabriel Gaffe

London: The ancient Indian practice of Yoga that helps in attaining physical and spiritual discipline has been termed a "work of the devil" by a top Vatican priest.
Vatican’s 85-year-old chief exorcist Gabriel Amorth also warned of Satanic influences in the Harry Potter books, The Sun reported.
The priest, who has carried out over 70,000 exorcisms in 25 years, said: "Both seem innocuous but they deal with magic and that leads to evil."
"Yoga is the devil’s work. You think you are doing it to stretch your mind and body. But it leads to oriental religions based on the false belief of reincarnation," he said.
"In Harry Potter, the devil uses his powers of magic and evil," Amorth said at a conference in Terni, Italy.
The Italian Yoga Association termed his claims "outrageous". "Yoga is not a religion but a spiritual discipline," it said.


British kids will get failed teachers

London: Hundreds of new schoolteachers in Britain are going to teach pupils in their classrooms despite having struggled themselves up to 39 attempts to clear even basic literacy and numeracy tests. Trainee teachers are required to pass the online tests to qualify for their chosen profession. But many of them are joining schools despite having repeatedly failed straightforward online tests of their basic skills, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.
Eight percent of the candidates needed to take three or more re-sits before they passed the literacy test, a number that increases to 10 percent for the numeracy test. According to figures released by the department of education, some teachers took more than 10 attempts before finally passing. One teacher sat the literacy test a total of 36 times before finally passing, while another candidate had 39 attempts at the numeracy test, it has been revealed.