Thursday, March 8, 2012

MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

Month-In-Perspective

EDITOR'S COLUMN


Friends
We are into the month of financial closure. Although calendars have its own significance, it is the month of March, which really signifies the year end. The expected budget presentation was postponed to March 16th, instead of the customary month of February end. State elections have pushed it as per the EC directive, lest the budget freebies, sometime really motivated, influence voters and therefore election results.
Looking back over the last Month-in-Perspective, it has indeed been as usual, a very happening month. We have tried to take up as many issues as were possible.
Releasing The Hunger and Malnutrition (HUNGaMa) Survey Report 2011, by Nandi Foundation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently observed that ‘problem of malnutrition is indeed a matter of national shame’. Despite continuously recording near double digit growth, it is a stark truth that a vast majority of our sections of population, especially children, are highly, chronically and acutely malnourished. We have taken it up in Focus, for the importance it deserved. We have tried to touch the different dimensions of the issue for a greater understanding of the malaise, which has really grown over a period, at an alarming speed and size. Hope we have done justice to the issue in hand, especially the health of our future generation, and our readers do find it worth their time. As usual do revert with your valued thoughts.

NEW DELHI: Month began with a body blow to all corrupt bureaucrats and equally corrupt politicians protected by the government’s unwillingness put these corrupt persons on the guillotine to let them stand trial. The apex court was allowing the petition filed by Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy questioning the modus operandi in the allocation of 2G spectrum. In deciding the petition, apex court held that, the sanctioning authority, to allow prosecution of MPs, ministers and babus, has to give the sanction or otherwise within 3 months, with a proviso for another month, if the authority concerned has to seek the opinion of Attorney General. Court also held that should the competent authority fail to take a decision within the now stipulated period of 4 months, it would be deemed to have been granted the necessary permit.
Now this is a big victory for the common man or any concerned individual who wants to take on the corrupt government functionaries and the so-called people’s representatives, MPs, Ministers etc.
Among the myriad kinds of voices in support of reservation benefits to Christian and Muslim dalits, is the plea of no less a person than the chairman of National Commission for Minorities, the former Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah to grant them Scheduled Caste (SC) status. Of course, when former CIC speaks, it carries lot of weight. But quite frankly, isn’t he muddying the already dirtied water!
While the benefits of SC status is available to Buddhists and Sikhs besides Hindus, the fact remains Buddhists and Sikhs are not the same as Muslims & Christians. They are part of extended Hindu family, as is obviously seen in their living styles and practices, so also they are all of Indian origin, unlike both Christianity and Islam. Besides, except a small portion of upper caste Hindus, most converts, into Islam and Christianity, are from OBC and dalits. They left Hinduism and got converted to these religions, partly because of identity problems of dalit or backward class status, and the long unremitting societal suffering endured by them, besides of course the alleged incentives, so also because at the time of vast majority of conversions, Muslims and Christians were the ruling class. Hence attraction of being part of the ruling class was also a proximate cause. Thus Sikhs and Buddhists are not same as Muslims and Christians hence cannot be equated. Another truth, all proponents of reservation to Muslims & Christians should realise is, reservation for SC/ST came much after the exodus of dalits into the fold of Islam & Christianity.
The report "Delhi Govt. wants no extra teeth for Lokayukta" should surprise no one. After all, it is part of the major partner in the ruling UPA combine. If UPA does not want strong Lokpal, it is automatically construed that since Lokayukta is only an extension of Lokpal into the state apparatus, it too should be subservient to the govt. Not only the Delhi govt. do not want to give the power demanded by the Anna team, it does not want to give even those powers what Karnataka Lokayukta enjoys. To be effective, at least these powers of search and seizure, to prove graft cases against politicians and babus has to be wrested in Lokayukta. Or else it will continue to be toothless and that is what most politicians and babus want.
Cancellation of 122 licences for 2G spectrum by the Supreme Court is by far the biggest blow for any policy decision by any government, anywhere in the world. Will it affect our FDI flow. Probably yes, and probably no. But those who understand the implication of rule of law will take in their stride. It could be, that it did not really shock them. May be little upsetting, yes.
But it was a serious indictment of the government of the day, and to call the allocation of 2G spectrum as ‘wholly arbitrary, capricious and contrary to public interest' the apex court has sent unmistakable message that it means business. The Hindu editorial said it very succinctly. 'For those business houses used to bending or breaking laws to rake in excess profit, (of course undeserving), verdict is a lesson that will forever remain etched in their institutional memory.'
As for the UPA government, it will remain ever chastened, hopefully, that its inability to investigate, despite there being an open and shut case, has exposed it comprehensively in the eyes of the legal eagle. This is despite the respite both PM and the then FM got, for their being let off for any malfeasance personally. But the fact remains, they did not act inspite of the abundance of evidences available in the public domain, CAG or no CAG. Hope, the open rap make the authorities realize their responsibility, especially those who control the nations resources.
Those who have hung the photograph of Mohd. Azharuddin, the cricketer turned Member of Parliament, should think again about this ‘ICONIC’ personality. He was fairly known, or rather badly known for his role in the infamous match fixing case years ago, and the BCCI ban for life. That was rather an anti-national act. Despite this, our premier political party fielded him as a candidate in a predominantly Muslim constituency of U.P. Not realizing or not being sensitive enough to his diabolic role as a match fixer, electorates voted him to victory. So he is a privileged member of the political class. But then habits die hard. If you are basically crooked, you remain one. Now he has graduated into a bigger role. The front page news in ‘The Hindu’(19/02/2012) informed whole of India "Warrant Against Azharuddin", that too, it is non-bailable warrant.
Metropolitan Magistrate Vikrant Vaid has issued this warrant for repeated non-appearance in a cheque bounced case, informs report. This ‘Honourable’ M.P had issued a cheque of Rs: 1.5 crore thrice – in 2008, 2009 and in 2010, and on all three occasions it footballed (bounced).
Isn’t he proving himself as a model politician for young electorates! Is Congress high command smiling at this inimitable record! Come to think of it, he is only trying to pay back-refund-an advance received by him, well before 2008, for a property he didn’t sell, after receiving the advance. So, he is a cricketer who used his position as a captain to fix the match to make his million! Now is he trying to use his position as an M.P., to cheat? It is a clear case of breach of trust. Fortunately the law of the land can assert itself, and is catching up. Long live Indian courts.
MAHARASHTRA:Who is better – Suresh Kalmadi, the CWG hero or Padamsinh Patil, an NCP MP - was the question making rounds of Pune City Corporation. They have quite a few things in common. Both are bigwigs of Pune political landscape. Both have registered crimes against them. Both were jail birds. Padamsinh is still in jail on the charge of murdering his political rival Pawan Raje Nimbalkar, whereas Suresh Kalmadi, a Mangalorean who made Pune his home for decades, was the state guest in Tihar Jail, on charges of massive corruption in CWG, but just out on bail. Problem was Pune Municipal Corporation election. Although NCP and Congress are partners in most places, in Pune they wanted to remain separate due to the personality problems of Ajit Pawar of NCP and Suresh Kalmadi, who are strong adversaries of each other.
Despite the thick corruption taint on Kalmadi, the Congress in Pune reportedly wanted to give him a grand welcome in Pune, on his release and return from Tihar. So much for Congress party’s value system. Naturally NCP raised its ante. Congress hit back saying "You are sleeping with murderers (meaning Padamsinh Patil)".
The fracas reminded of a Hindi movie of the yore. During an election campaign in the then Bombay, posters of party candidates were stuck on building walls along the main roads, without realising a Hindi film poster already there, below these election posters. And the film was "Hum Sub Chor Hai". The above incident just proved that, ‘Kapde ke niche hum sub nange hain’. This is Yeh Mera India.
A Mumbai date lined news "Adnan ‘killers’ walk free" was about the acquittal of alleged killers of a rich man’s son from the Mumbai suburb of Andheri. Teenage crime is increasing by the day, influenced partly by the TV programmes, so also due to the desire for easy money, to live life on fast lane. That teenage crime is on the increase, is very clearly visible across the globe. But Mumbai police, claimed to be second only to the Scotland Yard has shown its ineptness time and again, with less and less number of criminals getting convicted. According to reasonably reliable sources police failed to produce credible evidence to establish the ransom demand, despite the knowledge of the victim’s close circle of friends, who were the alleged plotters in kidnapping and murder. Of course, the father of the victim Aslam Patrawala is on record having said that he will pursue the matter. But, the fact remains, it is a serious indictment of Mumbai police. Of course there were incidents in the past, where powerful people influenced the course of justice. Could this too, is one such?
If the government agencies cannot save those who are working for the agencies, how are they going to save general public? is a question being asked in the corridors of Mumbai’s only TB Hospital in Sewri in Central Mumbai. The news report that ‘Of the 60 infected, 26 workers died in TB hospital,’ has underlined the seriousness of the malaise within the system. There is malaise in the administration of malaise itself. And come to think of it, this is Asia’s largest TB facility, and the civic administration was planning a course of upgradation of its facilities. The real scourge in the issue of infection is the use of N-95 mask used apparently to protect the workers from being infected, which has been criticised by health experts as being of no use. According to them, it can only prevent the wearer from infecting others rather than vice versa. These experts dismiss these N-95 masks as only ‘a piece of cloth on the face attached to ears by rubber bands!’ Hence the hospital/civic administration must take a serious preventive approach to take care of those who are sick, or else hospital may not attract any new staff and existing one’s may leave for safer and better pastures.
Speaking at International Research Conference in Mumbai RBI governor Dr Subbarao, cautioned "If the government borrows and squanders money away on unproductive current expenditure, both fiscal sustainability and growth would be jeopardised". Being the Chief of the Central Bank of the country Mr Subbarao has been in the thick of policy making for the financial management of the economy and in an uncertain global economic scenario, his wisdom and leadership stood the test of time. So when he says, "Cap the deficit – the receipt - expenditure gap. Excessive borrowing is bad" it carries conviction and our economist prime minister should take note of. But will he? Fiscal deficit, budgeted at Rs: 4.20 lakh crores is expected to increase by close to another 1 lakh crore by March 2012. Unfortunately despite an economist from London School of Economics, being our Prime Minister, our expenditure is less on capital formation, like merit goods, public goods, expenditure on human and social capital so also on physical infrastructure, instead it is more on unproductive expenditures like populist measures. Because expenditure of Rs: 520,000 crores in excess of receipt is an extremely dicey situation. Hope the Finance Minister takes note of this and takes steps to contain this fiscal deficit in his budget proposals for 2012-13 due sometime in March.
KARNATAKA: The print media from Bangalore informed – The Chairman Emeritus of Bangalore headquartered IT Major – Infosys Technologies Ltd – listed on NASDAQ, software icon N R Narayana Murthy reportedly asked ‘Aren’t India’s corrupt and dishonest becoming role models for youngsters of the country?"
Releasing a book ‘Upwardly mobile" by Ranjini Manian, Mr Murthy reportedly remarked "The number of role models that our youngsters can look up to is decreasing. How many people in our public life can be proud of, for honesty, courage, commitment and hard work? And that number is dwindling. Can the youth be blamed if they look up to corrupt as models of success since these corrupt are financially successful?"
The observations are right and questions are good. Mr Murthy is certainly a model India can justifiably be proud of. Not only he worked and earned his way to the top in a largely, then, uncharted IT sector. His Infosys foundation has done lot of difference to the society around them. He and his activities along with his wife Sudha Murthy are certainly a class apart. They deserve all the accolades. But being public figures they are bound to be scrutinised. Of course first and foremost we are all humans, and therefore could have differences of perception. A small time awareness journal had requested them, if they could write in the journal. They had flatly said no, citing lack of time. A couple had requested via-email, if they could call on then, while visiting Bangalore – at a time and place of their choice. They didn’t respond, and couple were not looking for any assistance. They just wanted to meet an iconic couple, just for the joy of meeting two wonderful human beings. The journal requested via-email if one of them partake in its decennial function in Bangalore. No response came by. Two proposals were sent to Mr Murthy, when he started his venture capital funding, no response came by. There was one common factor in all the above efforts. The same person was making overtures. Being such fine people, what made them not to respond! The question remained, for all the years, unanswered. May be even icons have their own limitations of being just another human?!
"Minister caught watching porn in State Assembly", "No moral police here, so watch blue films!", "Holy Horror", "House porn Hour", "It was documentary: BJP" "BJP has lost 7 members to sex, porn, scam".
These were all the print media reports from different news papers, emanating from the IT capital of India-Bangalore. Yes, every paper berated these three ministers in the only BJP govt. in the South. The party with a difference, was again proving itself to be different? ‘No’. All over India these politicians and their political class, at least a lumpen section of it, has indulged in crass activities bordering on extreme uncivility and irresponsibility and BJP ministers are no exception. Yes for once they have proved very clearly that they are like all else, when it comes to dirtier aspect of political life. Of course, media, most of which is anyway anti-BJP, especially in Karnataka, had a field day, ridiculing and poking pun at them. It is another matter that these BJP luminaries deserved it all. But the fact remains that this mental sickness is across the political spectrum and in its sweep covers Pan-India. Kashmir to Kerala, from Maharashtra to Meghalaya, one can find such nasties. Just the other day, a Thiruvananthapuram date lined print media report informed "Probe report on Kerala sex scandal submitted". It was the 16 year old "Ice cream parlour sex scandal" involving the then minister Kunhalikutti of Muslim League. The case involves sexploitation of minor girls employed in the Ice Cream parlour in Kozhikode in 1995. So we should know, a section of Indian politicians are like this only. Unfortunately only some get caught and they become fodder to the sensation hungry media men and women. But these 3 ministers were clearly on the wrong, when they took their mobile phones to the assembly, when it was clearly disallowed. If they have to face the music, it was they themselves, who composed it.
Our sensation hungry 24x7 electronic media had no time for such real worthies as B.S. Munir Ahmed, a meat merchant of Bangalore. Strangely, even the Bangalore based print media did not carry his story. But what is his story? We have heard of fatwas being issued by all and sundry on myriad issues, and most of us thought negatively about this edict from the Islamic clergy. The recent one against Salman Rushdie is still fresh in our memory.
Shivajinagar is a bustling suburb of Bangalore. According to Munir Ahmed, in Shivaji Nagar, there is hardly any footpath left for pedestrians to walk, due to the hawker menace. Even roads have been encroached left-right and centre. Munir Ahmed recognises that it is the members of his own community who are the culprits.
The problem in Shivajinagar has to be seen to be believed. All efforts by police failed, including the Apex Court order which said encroachment of public space is illegal. An accident involving 2 pedestrians run-over by the local KSRTC bus was the proverbial 'last straw' for Munir Ahmed. He approached Darul-uloom-Deoband for a fatwa and surprisingly they obliged. "Roads and pavements are for the people and they are not meant for carrying out trade. Encroachment of roads and pavements is against the Quran’s beliefs. Everyman rich or poor should respect law and remove encroachments, which cause inconvenience to others" and put their official seal. Yes the police have found it easy, as Munir Ahmed is going around with the copy of the fatwa. "But" says Munir Ahmed "my community looks at me as a villain, as I have got fatwa issued against their interest. It is a fact 99% of Shivajinagar hawkers are Muslims who flout all rules" he avers. By hindsight, it is clear that more than fatwa, it is people like Munir Ahmed who need to be publicly recognised for what he admitted and acted upon. He is indeed a good citizen. Two cheers for him.
KERALA: On 15th Feb. 2012, fishing vessel St. Antony from Ambalapuzza in Kerala, was fired upon by the personnel of Italian flagged tanker Enrica Lexie. Two crew of St. Antony, Indian nationals, Valentine and Pinku were killed by the firing. Reportedly it happened when the Indian fishing vessel was within 14 nautical miles off Indian shore. Authorities in Kerala termed the killing as murder. Response from both sides overshadowed the pain of the families of the victims. Italy is one of the more arrogant of European countries. The fact of an Italian national by birth, Indianised by marriage, calling shots at national politics, was anything to do with the, hammer and tong, attitude of Italian government, in approaching this whole episode involving this killing, is not clear. Legalities apart, the killing, apparently wrong, has not elicited any feelings of remorse from the Italian government and not even from Vatican. However, reportedly Vatican jumped in, on behalf of the two Italian Christian personnel of the Italian ship who were arrested by the police at Kochi. And strangely even the clergy in Kerala took up the gauntlet on behalf of Vatican to opt for a mediatory course in this sorry episode. Now this is a law and order situation happened within the Indian waters involving two Indians, and where does the question of them being Christian comes? Strangely Indian media didn’t voice its disapproval. Even Vatican’s intervention was not called as communal and racial by our press. Strange are the ways of the world.
WEST BENGAL: So ‘intolerance’ is on roll? The news from Kolkata was, that ‘Official release of Taslima’s Book cancelled’. Close on the heels of Salman Rushdi controversy, the book ‘Nirbasan’ slated to be released at the 36th International Book Fair was cancelled due to the withdrawal of permission by the police. Police were reacting to some fundamentalist group’s threat to disrupt the function. It is indeed very unfortunate that a small minority of people can hold the country for ransoms. It is equally sad that authorities are buckling under perceived pressure. Somewhere along the line, surely authority must assert itself. Yes, the protesters have a right to protest, but ‘please no violence at all’. All violence has to be dealt with, as only law and order issue without mixing it with party affiliations. But it looks as if all political parties have lost the will to act, making it look like an act of appeasement. This will only encourage fundamentalist groups to defy every govt, and that’s a disturbing development. No wonder even a mere seminar on Rushdie was cancelled in Hyderabad, the same day, on police advice. Ironically the seminar was organized by Fathima Shahnaz and her India Peace Organisation, reportedly to promote non-violence. This is Yeh Mera India.
UTTAR PRADESH: The way political parties, whether Congress, the BSP, the SP and even BJP fighting out in UP elections, it is only confirming the long held view that UP decides national politics. For the sheer number of seats, every political party with a national stake will surely fight of the largest possible share of the electoral pie of U.P. While all parties have their own way of battling it out, Rahul Gandhi, the PM in waiting has been pleading with voters "Give Congress 5 years". And how during the last 20+ years of non-Congress governments, how the state has been reduced to what it is. Well, point taken. ‘But young man, before this past 22 years, it was your father, your grand mother and before that your great grand father who ruled Uttar Pradesh. If they were all to do what you are saying that you will do in the next 5 years, surely these political parties would never have come into the scene. It is only because, all of them failed to do, what they could have done, left the space for BJP, SP, and now BSP. Your forefathers had all the time and opportunity, but they squandered. Yes, you do sound sincere, but then your father too had sounded sincere, and he had 400+ seats in the Lokasabha but failed to keep them next time round! Of course there are Indians who do not mind dynastic rule of one family. So all the very best. However we at I & C wish that India wins at the end, doesn’t matter the party.
"My life’s aim is to construct a grand Ram temple" a press statement attributed to Lal Krishna Advani has only made him relevant to a small section of Indians. For most Indians the issue of Temple in Ayodhya is inextricably tied with the Masjid. Of course there may be supporters for the construction of Temple on either side of the divide. But the fact remains, a conciliatory approach by both side not to insist either for Temple or for Masjid can go a long way in settling the issue for ever. A memorial to the Idea of India where all Indians can congregate to celebrate the essential spirit of oneness of mankind shall be a fitting tribute to the Indianness which global community recognises. Hope there is a change of heart in Advaniji to promote such an India. Surely he will go down as one of the great Indian of contemporary political scenario.
WORLD: Is Australia undergoing some kind of transformation? History informs us that long years ago when England colonised Australia, the men of Queen of England were banishing criminals and crooks to this unexplored land mass, as a punishment. If the latest report is to be believed, crime graph is appearing to be on the ascent on this land mass. According to ‘The Herald Sun’ of Melbourne, crime by minors is soaring in Australia as close to 290 children under 10 years have been charged with offences like rape and arson. The paper informs quoting reports, police in Victoria kept hidden from public domain, some over 300 serious offences involving 288 children. The crime, reportedly included burglary, car theft, drugs, weapons and explosives. Due to the juvenile nature of the crime, with legal provisions not to charge these children, police have termed these rising child criminals as "The Untouchables". The statistics, according to the paper, showed that 254 boys and 34 girls aged 9 and under, were processed for 11 sex crimes including rape, 36 burglaries, 5 motor vehicle theft, 3 drug usage & possession and 3 for being armed with weapons including explosives. Yes, there is apparently no reason to disbelieve the story. It is indeed a sad story of evolving Australia. What could probably be the reason for this steep juvenile crime rate? Failed parentage? Collapsing social order? Or deteriorating educational standard? And still, strangely aren’t some Indian students rushing there for some educational degrees!
So now its official "Chindia trade hits all time high of $ 74 bn". But the catch is, the deficit in favour of China is also on an all time high at $ 27 billion. While it is true that bilateral trade increased from $ 61.7 bn & in 2010 to $ 73.9 billion, the trade deficit in favour of China rose to $ 27.07 bn. It is indeed a matter of serious concern, which the government in Delhi must take note of, to address and redress, slowly but surely, since there are many items of inessential nature which are being dumped to kill Indian industries. But the Indian trader, selfish that he is, wanting to buy cheap and sell dear, to make a fast buck from gullible Indian buyers, need to be reined in.
Whitewash in England and now in Australia, has exposed the vulnerability of Indian cricket or more importantly Indian cricketers. Media, as usual hypes and underplays unrealistically, every victory and every loss. This was no different. While most batsmen including the captain, failed to impress or come good under trying conditions, it was the seniors who had to take the brunt. But this was natural. You had the famed ‘wall’ that could not withstand, the sure-bat from Hyderabad was predominantly unsure. And the expected centurion of centuries failed to make his dream come true, although he proved better of all these three seniors.
Yes, Dravid and Laxman were a complete let down. Tendulkar too did not measure upto his usual high performance. In the event, new comers, not surprisingly, did not come up with pleasant surprises. Coming to the senior trio, it is indeed time that they quit all forms of cricket. Of course Dravid and Laxman are only in Test squad. They should leave for younger players to make into the test team. Fortunately for India, when it comes to cricket there is an abundant talent and maximum number of youngsters should make it to the national team. Of course IPL did provide the arena to display their cricketing skill besides making some solid money for themselves. Coming to Tendulkar, it is time he should make up his mind. The country is greater than his individual ambition of making his 100th hundred. In recent times, his goal appears to be only that. It is better he leaves with dignity at the height of his glory. Imran Khan a former Pakistan Cricket Captain has stated on record "Sachin should have retired after World Cup victory by India." "You don’t want to go having lost to Australia 4-0. If he had gone after the world cup, that would have been the ultimate high". But a sportsman need not be a sport. That’s the tragedy of human avarice.
There was this small report coming from Melbourne, Australia, "Lankan players to play despite no pay". The report informs that Sri Lankan cricketers are owed lot of money by their cricket board, over $ 4 million. And their skipper Jayawardene while admitting that some of the players do need money to keep their body and soul to-gether, he has reportedly stated, ‘they need not worry, the money will eventually come. Until then just move on and get on with cricket’. That’s being really sportsman-like and patriotic. Would the Indian cricketers do the same? They are probably the best paid and paid in advance. Sri Lankan cricketers definitely give their best on the field for their country, the same cannot be said about Indian cricketers, despite being looked after so well. Some of whom are only after personal records.
There were two press reports datelined Rome & Vatican City. One said "Church receives order from God, says Pope". The other "Abuse scandals have cost a bomb for Vatican". While the former report is purely a matter of faith, since most faithfuls belonging to any religious denomination express similar sentiments. But what about this expensive damage control exercise which did cost the city state over 2 billion $ in settlement of clerical abuse scandals! And this is over and above the discreet settlements by some of the dioceses. Is there a role for the God in these sorry episodes?
‘Only ‘Quality’ migrants are welcome, asserts UK,’ was a news in the print media. And why not? It is their country, why should it be charitable to those who are looking for handouts! There are lots of immigrants the world over, especially from Africa, Indian sub-continent and Latin America. It is true that Common Wealth of Nations is in fact the looted wealth of nations. It’s OK if they pay back a part of it to immigrants from those countries. But it has been so, for decades. Now UK appears to be tired of ‘importing economic dependency on the state’.
Yes, every country must look after its own interest first and charitable later.

FOCUS

HUNGaMA on Hunger & Malnutrition
– the shame of a ‘Super Power’



(According to Global Hunger Index (GHI), nearly half of all Indian children are undernourished, one of the highest rates in the world, and nearly double the rate of Sub-Saharan Africa. Now, this is indeed a national shame.
The 2011, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has ranked India @134 in a survey of 187 countries. The ranking clearly shows India has done rather badly in ensuring a better quality of life for its citizens, year after year. In fact, when it came to manage hunger, GHI had clocked India at 94, whereas Pakistan at 88 and China at 47, did much better than India. But the saddest commentary was when GHI placed Ethiopia better than India at 93. And neither Pakistan nor Ethiopia were boasting of near double digit growth.
Our planning efforts have seen the growth in agricultural production. This growth has led to procurements of millions of tons of food grains ‘both wheat and rice’. But where did this procured food go? It went into Food Corporation of India’s godowns, all over the country. Some distributed, some rodents ate, some rotted in open, since FCI rented out their premises to Liquor barons to store liquor. Another aspect of Yeh Mera India.)


"I have said earlier on a number of occasions and I repeat, that the problem of malnutrition is a matter of national shame. Despite impressive growth in our GDP, the level of under-nutrition in the country is unacceptably high. We have also not succeeded in reducing this rate fast enough", said Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. He was speaking while releasing the ‘Hunger and Malnutrition Survey Report 2011, a 140 page report prepared by Nandi Foundation, in Mumbai. Not very far from there, in Chennai, development economist, Prof Utsa Patnaik was reacting to what Dr Singh had said earlier. "There is no point in shedding ‘crocodile tears’ as the shameful situation was a self inflicted one, that resulted from flawed policies." She was delivering her inaugural address at the "TG Narayanan Memorial Lecture on Social Deprivation" under the auspices of the Media Development Foundation and the Asian College of Journalism.
This was how two economists saw from their own perspective, this national shame called "HUNGer and MAlnutrition".
"Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him", Mahatma Gandhi had said, many decades ago. We have already crossed 64 years since he was assassinated.
WHAT IS INDEPENDENT INDIA’S RECORD OF HANDLING THE POOREST AND THE WEAKEST AMONG US INDIANS?
Aren’t we still groping for answers after 11 Five yearly development plans?
We have any number of politician thinkers who keep harping that India is the second fastest growing economy in the world, but invariably tend to forget that India continues to be the country with largest number of underfed and therefore undernourished.
Hunger, Roget’s Thesaurus denotes, starvation, empty stomach, craving for food. Malnutrition, represents a dietary condition resulting from lack of adequate food, half starving leading to insufficient nutrition. According to Global Hunger Index (GHI), nearly half of all Indian children are undernourished, one of the highest rates in the world, and nearly double the rate of Sub-Saharan Africa. Now, this is indeed a national shame.
The 2011, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has ranked India @134 in a survey of 187 countries. The ranking clearly shows India has done rather badly in ensuring a better quality of life for its citizens, year after year. In fact, when it came to manage hunger, GHI had clocked India at 94, whereas Pakistan at 88 and China at 47, did much better than India. But the saddest commentary was when GHI placed Ethiopia better than India at 93. And neither Pakistan nor Ethiopia were boasting of near double digit growth.
Why is India like this? Could it be that our planners, were obsessed with growth at the the cost of human development?
In 1947, when India became politically independent, country was bereft of adequate resources to look after its close to 350 million population. Colonial masters had plundered its resources to the maximum extent. Some kind of a state intervention was necessary. Therefore a planned approach to the redistribution of national wealth became imperative, since the overwhelming majority of Indians were poor.
Looking back over the 64 years of free India’s march towards an egalitarian society, it is an extremely mixed feeling of euphoria tempered by a profound sadness. 64 years saw some 11 developmental plans, that has not done exactly well in its redistributive exercise. While it is true that country has seen the creation of hundreds of billionaires, there is a huge chunk of close to 50% of Indians, beyond boulevards, who are still struggling to meet two ends. The dichotomy that ‘India is rich and Indians are poor’ is a classic statement of the reality on the ground.
Poverty alleviation, which is the precursor for both hunger and malnutrition, has been on the national agenda for all the development plans of 64 years. It is true that state interventions have made some difference at different levels. A section of the population have seen upwardly mobile lifestyles backed by increased income and empowerment. But the overall scene is still pretty bad. UNDP ranking of Human Development Index, so also the Global Hunger Index have exposed the underbelly of the ‘Super Power’ in the making.
Our planning efforts have seen the growth in agricultural production. This growth has led to procurements of millions of tons of food grains ‘both wheat and rice’. But where did this procured food go? It went into Food Corporation of India’s godowns, all over the country. Some distributed, some rodents ate, some rotted in open, since FCI rented out their premises to Liquor barons to store liquor. Another aspect of Yeh Mera India.
Way back in Dec. 2002, Shabnam Minwala of Times of India wrote: "If we were to pile up the sacks of grain sitting in Food Corporation of India’s warehouses, they would reach the moon and back again. But not even a handful of these 50 million tons made their way to Murari’s hut in Shahbad, Rajasthan, last September. After weeks of surviving on wild grass and seeds, the agricultural labourer’s mother, father, wife and baby died of starvation."
After 10 years, in 2012, it is just as bad, as is evident from the report just released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. According to this report, prepared by Nandi Foundation, as much as 42% of children under the age of five are underweight, meaning malnourished. 59% are stunted, meaning chronically malnourished and 11% are severely wasted, meaning acutely malnourished.
So, the lack of food is what leads to hunger, which when left with insufficient provision of eatables leads to malnutrition. Long such periods of denial, lead to chronic and acute malnutrition. Thus food is the essential material which body needs for its well being. Good food is indispensable for health at all stages of life and for satisfactory growth during infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Right food in adequate quantity is the key to good health.
Millennium Development Goals have envisioned a hunger free world. Would it be possible? Rich and poor are found in every country all over the world. But rich are rich everywhere. They can live on their own terms. But poor are not same everywhere. They are less poor, more poor, very poor and poor below subsistence level. So the degree of denial is different to different places. A poor in Europe probably not as poor as say Sub Saharan Africa or even India. A poor person in U.S or Europe may not go to bed hungry, but same cannot be true of Africa or India where hunger among poor is lurking all over.
The first five year plan of 1951-56, accepted as the basis of government policy, the principle of "Food for All", since good part of Indians in post past-colonial rule had numberless hungry stomachs, which had to be addressed as a priority. Somehow over the years, the focus kept shifting, to and forth, and reached a stage where a Food Security Bill became the sine quo non, the only enforceable option as a right.
Of course, the increasing population, which different policies – some serious but mostly half baked – failed to curb the growth, has contributed to a great extent to the failure of the well meant, well intentioned measures to support the hungry. These well meant, well intentioned statutes were made to derail or rather to be sabotaged at the alter of selfish babu/politician nexus. This nexus is the single most important factor for the failure of many seriously legislated policies. The most important among them is the Public Distribution System.
Jean Dreze, an European, who made India his home, who is also a Prof at Delhi School of Economics and a member of National Advisory Council writes in the Hindu on this PDS. "The whole system looked like it has been designed to fail. Ration shops were in the hands of corrupt private dealers, who made money by selling PDS grain in the open market. People were powerless to argue with the PDS dealer. Hunger haunted the land". He was writing on his experience in the Sarguja Distt. of Chhattisgarh many years ago. However he feels, 'where there is will, there is a way'. Good intentions behind the policy measures can be translated into extremely satisfying end results. Thus he adds that ‘despite raging multiple negatives achieved by the Chhattisgarh government in different domain, it is to the credit of this government that it succeeded in reviving the PDS very significantly’. Recounting his recent trip to Sarguja, he writes, commending the PDS "what is more, the system is working everywhere we went, we found that people were getting 35 kgs of grain on time, every month. For people who live on the margins of subsistence, this is dream".
Thus, in the quest for hunger eradication and therefore reduction in the number of malnourished children and a section of the population, strengthening the PDS system becomes most important. So that the good intention of successive governments, is translated into a heart warming reality.
The current debate on National Food Security Act which stresses the importance of making the whole system of PDS transparent is a welcome development. While it is true that laudable objectives were always there, but somewhere along the line the human avarice overtook these avowed objectives and usurped the system itself. Therefore the provision in the draft of the bill that all PDS related records are to be placed in the public domain and to be kept open to public scrutiny is a very significant development to address the malaise of hunger.
What is also important is the enforceability of this law. The proposed law is an opportunity to provide accessible administrative and legal remedies for individuals whose right to food is violated. This can certainly serve as a catalyst for action so also give the state enough scope to mandate protection for this right.
However the stipulated guarantee of 25 kgs as proposed by the present legislation is less than the 35 kgs these BPL families were already getting. While it is laudable that enactment of law makes this entitlement as right, the reduction in the quantity of grain has failed to enthuse the Congress leadership under the present UPA chairperson.
Thus a certain degree of ambivalence appears apparent. UPA Chairperson and her NAC wants 35 kgs to be continued with a guarantee of delivery, but the chairman of the drafting committee, the FM: Pranab Mukherjee, commits only 25 kgs. This ambivalence has led to the accusation that despite persisting food insecurity of the bulk of the population and the near emergency with respect to the nutrition of children and other vulnerable groups, the government in New Delhi is still not taking the job of ensuring universal food security with the necessary seriousness.
A print media report informs "FM losing sleep over rising subsidy bill". The report states that the government has said that its subsidy bill is likely to increase by over Rs: 1 lakh crore, over and above the original estimate of Rs: 1.34 lakh crore. The subsidy is on food, fertilizer and petroleum products. "As Finance Minister when I think of the enormity of the subsidies to be provided, I lose my sleep."
As a Finance Minister at the centre, the predicament of Pranab Mukherjee is understable. But that leaves many questions unanswered.
When the UPA II came back to power Prime Minister had declared on the floor of the parliament that "Not a single Indian will be allowed to go hungry" Dr Manmohan Singh was probably serious when he said it. However the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGM) entrusted with the job of drafting the National Food Security Act did neither carry his seriousness nor his conviction to their job. Incidentally it is Finance Minister, who is the Chairman of the EGM.
Economic & Political Weekly commented on this travesty of social justice, deserve reproduction. "The principal concern seems not to ensure food security to all and therefore to ensure nutritional minimum, but to contain the government’s expenditure. After all, meeting the demands of fiscal deficit is more important than putting in place universal rights to as basic a requirement as food. The draft bill as drawn up by the EGM denies the notion of universal rights, keeps entitlements to as little as 25kg a month and even seeks to vary the issue price. Continuing debate within government and outside about how many poor there are in India has come in handy for the ‘cost cutters’. But food security means a right to food and rights cannot be ‘targetted’. They have to be universal. Therefore, the only meaningful legislation on food security is one that covers the entire population." Any incremental cost as a result of 35 kg instead of the 25 kg per household per month shall only be 0.5% of our national GDP, while the economic losses associated with malnutrition are estimated to be around 3% of India’s GDP annually. The question EPW is asking is "Should the government even think of denying the right to food on ‘cost considerations’?"
Here we need to realize that food security is not merely the supply of energy but the adequate nutrition is also at its core. The HUNGaMA report has very dearly shown the shocking levels of malnutrition, especially among children in different parts of our ‘Mera Bharat Mahan’. No wonder EPW is very harsh while saying "It is here that the tragedy of India unfolds. Indeed, serious doubts arise as to the very decency of Indian society".
Executive Summary of Hunger & Malnutrition Survey Report 2011 informs that "Survey shows that positive change for child nutrition in India is happening including in the 100 Focus Districts. However rates of child malnutrition is still unacceptably high particularly in these Focus Districts where 40% of children are underweight and almost 60% are stunted".
Doesn’t this conclusion leads us to some questions not raised at all? Neither by the think-tank of the surveying team nor those who intend to make use of it in policy making and policy decisions, including our economist Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who released the HUNGaMA Survey Report.
In the end looking back in perspective of our well meant intentions of being poor friendly in all our interventions through budgets, it is true that all our 5 yearly development plans have been targeting the poverty and there have been increasing outlays to address the issue. However with all this increase in allocations and spending the issue of hunger and malnutrition persisted. It is well known that leakage and siphoning in the spending did line the pockets of unscrupulous, diabolic and extremely selfish officials, middlemen, senior babus and politicians, which did in fact rendered the well intentioned efforts of successive governments always incomplete. But underlying all the problems is the problem of all problems, the ever growing numbing numbers. The problem of unchecked population growth as an issue, unfortunately became part of the national amnesia. Unless this scourge is recognized and addressed especially among the poorer sections of society, who keep producing children left, right and centre, all Union Finance Ministers-Pranab Mukherjee or no Pranab Mukherjee-shall continue to complain of 'Sleepless Nights' on subsidies. A harsh truth all governments refused to take note of, in their larger agenda of vote bank politics.

FEATURE

The new Science of Modern Medicine-Quantum Physics; the language of Nature.

"All that we see or seem
is but a dream within a dream."
Edgar Allen Poe

"There is no science of man" wrote Nobel Laureate Alexis Carrel in his celebrated book-Man, the Unknown. Modern medicine, even today, nearly 85 years after the death of conventional science following Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, is buried in the linear science of Newtonian Physics which believes that man is made up of matter, which follows certain deterministic predictability patterns. That was before the new awareness in science of the atom having been made up of smaller sub-atomic elements. Even more earth shattering discovery was the discovery that atoms emit various strange energies such as x-rays and radioactivity. Newer discoveries in physics showed that matter and energy are the two faces of the same coin-a duality. (Hans Peter Durr).1 One should read his article for the lay people Matter is not made out of matter to get a better idea. The human body is but the human mind in an illusory solid shape. As the famous Johns Hopkins physicist, Richard Conn Henry, put it in 2005 "this world is immaterial-mental and spiritual." Atoms are made out of invisible energy; not tangible matter. Quantum physics speaks a strange language of "now you see it, now you don’t." Each atom or molecule has its own unique energy signature.
Everything in this world, including you and me, radiates our unique energy signature. This new science, which will be the new science of man, nullifies our idea of organ based diseases, which we started 450 years ago from the time of Vesalius. All organs have their cells and atoms that have their unique energy signature. Human body is a colony of 50 trillion happy individual human cells that did exist as unicellular organisms for millions of years before getting together as this multi-cellular colony, called the human being. Fritz-Albert Popp, a German physicist, has been able to map all our cells using his bio-photon camera where he defines "health as a state where the cells are vibrating in synch with one another; disease is when they fall out of synch!" 2 The latest development of science has now accepted the definition of Whole Person Healing (WPH) for future. (Late Professor Rustum Roy at the IOM meeting in February 2010). Time has come to abandon the disease era of medicine.3 We have to concentrate on the whole human organism for the future management of altered physiologies. The new definition of health is "enthusiasm to work and enthusiasm to be compassionate." 4 This comes close to the definition of health in Ayurveda, a much more scientific healing art, which followed quantum physics from day one long before physicists discovered quantum physics. Durr does write that the concept of Indian advaita is a better understanding of quantum world compared to his definition of a-duality.
Our old model had a linear structure which followed the Ford Motor style assembly line. If biochemical transmission failed between points A and B the precursor chemical could accumulate at point A and point B will be depleted of it. The holistic model is that if there is any such lapse the effect could be felt in multiple areas and systems. One example will clarify this. When you are bitten by a spider you get a severe swelling and itching at the area due to release of the powerful histamine, locally. But if you treat that with an antihistamine the latter will go round everywhere and have dangerous distant effects even in the brain. While histamine increases capillary permeability locally producing swelling, in the brain histamine enhances the neuronal function for better output. In our present thinking we give you antihistamine and your itching stops but the same antihistamine blocks the brain histamine levels and your brain cells function less, making you very drowsy! This tells us why the biggest killer today is Adverse Drug Reaction. (ADR). 5 Further studies have shown that any drug that we give helps only because of the faith that the patient has got in the doctor (placebo) and the drug has only side effects! This earth shaking discovery was made recently in a multi-centric study in the four leading Universities. 6
Biological systems like man are redundant. This redundancy makes the same signal to be used in multiple places in the body to achieve many things economically with varied behavioral functions. This was the fallacy of our old reductionist model where we thought one defect one effect and one drug molecule to rectify it. That is why nature has just given us 25,000 genes. One gene could look after so many functions. In addition, we have trillions of genes that we have acquired from multitude of germs that have become a part of us over millions of years and they live a symbiotic existence, the so called human meta-genome. When we disturb the germs inside us we fall sick! 7 This shows how foolish is our expensive search for genetic modeling and genetic engineering, including stem cell research. In fact, studies have elegantly shown that body cells, if needed, could transform themselves into pluri-potent stem cells. Richard Becker showed way back in 1950s that while a bone fractures, the blood clot seen under the periosteum could make the red blood cells there to gradually acquire a nucleus and then put out pseudopodia to become stem cells to heal the fracture-holistic natural healing!8
Physicists have failed to inform the lay public of the purely mental nature of the universe (man included) and biologists and physicians are yet to understand quantum physics. There is a nice simple book by a Nobel Laureate biologist; Albert-Szent Gyorgyi, Introduction to sub molecular biology. Today bio-chemistry provides the mechanistic foundation for biomedicine. That branch of science is so out dated that our researchers have no understanding of the molecular mechanisms that truly provide for life. The very word animate comes from the proteins in the genetic chain. They twist and bend like a snake to give us mobility at the molecular level right up to our movements! In truth, quantum properties of matter can influence the biochemical reactions as shown above. It is the invisible forces of electromagnetic energy that keep us alive and all those frequencies like cell phones, microwave ovens, radio frequencies and even the scalar energy affect our DNA, RNA and protein synthesis. Similarly the right frequencies of electromagnetic energy could be used for healing any cell in any organ under any circumstance. We are using such frequencies to treat killer diseases like heart attacks, brain attacks and any other damage in the cells of any human organ. Added advantage is that energy signals travel at a phenomenal speed of 1, 86,000 miles per second while chemical transmission is just one centimeter per second!! While drugs take months to get one back on feet after a major illness energy healing takes hours to days only!
Living organisms must receive and interpret environmental signals in order to survive. The signals reach the single cells through their antenna in the cell wall. So our connection with the outside world is through the cell wall, our true brain. The environmental signals are our true saviours, God if you like (Bruce Lipton).9 When this signal dies organism dies only to enter another shell to be reborn! Eastern wisdoms like Ayurveda, Tibetan medicine, Chinese medicine and many other systems had adopted quantum physics eons ago and their ideas of energy channels in the human body are now proving to be highly scientific. W condemned the whole lot of them as unscientific mainly because of the pressures from the drug and instrument lobbies. The Flexner report in 1910, funded by the Carnegie Foundation, was used by the US government to kill all alternate systems. 10 The Chiropractic won a recent Federal Court battle against modern medicine where the judge writes that modern medicine "used unfair methods to kill competition"! Similar was the fate of homeopathy, another energy healing method.
Instead of understanding human physiology properly modern medicine created the monsters of "killer diseases" which are nothing but deviations in physiology and behavior from some hypothetical norm as unique disorders and dysfunctions. The gullible public thinks that they are all killer diseases, thanks to the 24/7 hours advertisements. Let us understand the human being and try and set the deranged cell frequencies by suitable alternatives to get man back on his feet.

-Prof. B.M. Hegde

SERIAL : 42

GANG LEADER FOR A DAY
Black and Blue

Two weeks later my car was broken into. It was parked across the street from the Boys and Girls Club. Curiously, however, neither the lock nor the window was broken; instead the lock had been expertly picked. My backpack and the glove compartment had both been thoroughly rummaged, with some pens, paper, a couple of candy bars, and my gym clothes strewn about. But nothing seemed to be missing. Although I sometimes kept a few notebooks in my backpack, on this occasion I hadn’t.
I went inside to tell Autry. "Let’s call Reggie," he said. "Don’t touch anything."
We waited for Reggie inside the club, where a children’s Christmas party was in progress. The mood was happy, especially since some local stores had donated crates of food for tenant families.
Reggie arrived wearing a Santa hat. He’d been at another Christmas party, passing out toys donated by police officers. When he saw my car, he dropped his head and then peered at Autry.
"Did you talk with him?" he asked Autry.
"I did, but he’s pigheaded. He don’t listen."
I was confused.
"Sudhir, is there any way you could let me know when you’re going to come around here?" Reggie asked. "I mean, maybe you could page me and leave a message."
"What are you talking about? I come over here nearly every day! Can you guys please tell me what’s going on?"
"Let’s go for a walk," Reggie said, grabbing my arm.
It was freezing, and the wind was howling. We walked around the project buildings. The fresh snow made the high-rises look like gravestones sticking up from the ground.
"Sudhir, you’re getting into something you shouldn’t be messing with," Reggie said. "You’ve been reading about the gang busts, right?"
Yes, I told him. The newspapers had been reporting the recent arrests of some of the highest-level drug dealers in Chicago. These arrests were apparently intended to interrupt the trade between the Mexican-American gangs who imported cocaine and the black gangsters who sold crack.
Word on the street was that the FBI and other federal agencies were behind the arrests. Although I hadn’t been in touch with J.T. lately-he was still busy settling into his expanded Black Kings duties-he had told me in the past that federal involvement frightened the gangs. "Once you see the feds, that’s when you worry," he said. "If it’s local, we never worry. As long as you don’t do something stupid, you’ll be okay." Although the recent arrests involved gang leaders more senior than J.T., and not even in his neighborhood, he was habitually concerned that federal officials would work their way down the ladder to him. He also reasoned that the feds would specifically target the Black Kings if possible, considering that the gang ran what was probably the city’s smoothest drug operation.
Reggie now told me that the feds were indeed working Chicago—and hard. They were hoping to indict the drug gangs under the powerful Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which was instituted in 1970 to combat the Mafia and other crime groups that dealt in money laundering, gambling, and union shakedowns. RICO had been so successful in disrupting Italian, Irish, and Jewish crime gangs that the feds were now using it to go after street gangs, claiming that they, too, were organized criminal enterprises.
Reggie explained that he, like most street cops, hated it when federal agents came to town. They were so eager for high-profile indictments, he said, that they’d use allegations of police improprieties to leverage local cops into turning over their gang intelligence. This in turn would disrupt the relationships that cops like Reggie had carefully built up in the community.
"What does all this mean for you?" I asked. "And for me?"
"For me it means I got to do everything by the book. For you it means you have to be very, very careful. I heard from Ms. Bailey that you’re asking a lot of people about us. Now, that doesn’t bother me, like I said before. But there are a lot of folks where I work who think you’re trying to bust them, do you understand?
"Bust them?"
"They think you’re looking for dirt. Looking to find something to hold against them. I wouldn’t worry about your car. Just trust me, it won’t happen again."
After this talk with Reggie, I began to fear the police much more than I had ever feared J.T. and the gangs. As Autry had told me, it was the cops who had the real power. They controlled where and how openly the gang could operate, and, if so inclined, they could put just about anyone in jail. Still, as both Autry and J.T. had told me, the cops rarely arrested gang leaders, since they preferred to know who was in control rather than having to deal with an unpredictable leader or, even worse, a power vacuum when I asked Reggie if this was really true, his response—he dropped his head and asked me not to press him on the issue—seemed to indicate that it was.
Not every cop in the projects was corrupt or abusive, but I had become nervous about getting on the cop’s bad side. I had no desire to get beaten up or be regularly harassed. I’d grown up thinking of cops as people you trusted to help when things went bad, but that wasn’t the way things worked here, even for me. Not that I’d endeared myself to the cops: I came into the projects by befriending a gang leader, after all, and I hung out with a lot of tenants who did illegal things for a living.
Looking back, I think it would have been better to learn more about the neighborhood from the cops’ perspective. But this wouldn’t have been easy. Most tenants probably would have stopped speaking with me if they thought I was even remotely tied to the police. One reason journalists often publish thin stories about the projects is that they typically rely on the police for information, and this reliance makes the tenants turn their backs.
As it was, the best I could do was try to learn a little bit from cops like Reggie. He could be just as creative in his approach to police work as some of the tenants were in their approach to survival. If this meant sharing information with gang members to ensure that their wars didn’t kill innocents, so be it. Rather than arresting young gang members, Reggie and other cops used "scared straight" tactics to try to get them to stop dealing. I also watched many times as the police mediated disputes between hustlers; and even though they weren’t always responsive to domestic-abuse calls, many cops did help Ms. Bailey scare perpetrators so they wouldn’t come into the high-rise again.
It wasn’t until months after my car was broken into that Reggie confirmed it had been the police who did it. Officer Jerry and a few of his friends were apparently concerned about the contents of my notebooks and wanted to find them. Bad Buck, a young man from Robert Taylor whom I’d befriended, had told the police that I kept my notes in my car. Reggie said that Buck had been caught holing a thousand dollars’ worth of cocaine and had surrendered the information about my notes in exchange for not going to jail.

to be contd.....

OPINION

DEFICIT FINANCE Vs POPULIST MEASURES
Will FM take the call?

Historically, budgeting process in India has been treated as a secret affair for no apparent cogent reasons, though such an exercise in most of the Western world is devoid of any shroud of confidentiality. For common man, Indian budget of the government of India is synonymous with tax provisions both direct and indirect. However, there are a few aspects in a budget which affects both the macro and micro phases of national life, which also need to be given due consideration. Deficit financing obviously is one such phenomenon which has far reaching implications for the national economy in general and individual lives in particular.
Defining deficit financing, applicable to all countries at all times is not feasible, though Indian planning commission explains it as equal to the net increase in the purchasing power of the economy arising out of the budgetary operation of the government. Deficit financing is taken as a recourse, whenever, government expenditure exceeds the receipts from the public like taxes, borrowings from the public or fees etc. In such a scenario, till the 1990s government used to print the currency notes to fill the gap. However, since 1997, such practice was replaced by ways and means advance by the Reserve Bank both to the central and state governments. Thus, deficit financing is the actual net credit given to the government sector by the Reserve Bank. In effect, when current expenditure exceeds current revenue government opts for deficit financing.
In a developing country like India deficit financing must be used as an instrument of economic development. In Keynsian "theory of employment" it means to secure full employment, through providing capital. Because, in India due to low levels of income and high propensity to consume, aggregate savings are low, resulting in inadequate investment and lower production. In the circumstances, deficit financing meets the shortage, by creating of new money supply which in turn enhances investments, production and also effective demand to accelerate development process. In India, deficit financing also enables building up of social and economic overheads, increasing employment opportunities and helps to create additional resources.
However, government of India while determining the target for deficit budget in 2012 – 2013, must be conscious that its target of 4.5% of GDP may end up with 6.5% deficit for financial year 2011 – 2012. It must also take precautions that deficit financing is prescribed at moderate doses; take steps to control prices of consumer goods and services; concentrate on quick – yielding projects; food prices must be kept low by imports whenever necessary or inevitable; rise in wages and salaries should be checked lest country may fall into the dangers of vicious cycle; monetary policies are opted by the RBI appropriately to withdraw the excess purchasing power, the excess money supply (though RBI has miserably failed to control the high prices and inflation spiral, despite of hiking of bank rate more than a dozen times in 2011). Failure on the part of government and RBI during 2011 – 12 to control price and inflation is primarily attributed to deficit financing resulting in increased money supply with the public, rise in the level of income reduced production of goods and services and the price level.
Therefore, to minimize the impact of increased dose of deficit financing, budget 2012 – 13 must contemplate measures such as anti – inflationary fiscal and monetary policies, economic controls, proper allocation of resources and developing import surplus. At the sametime, such policies and fiscal implications of ways and means advances must usher into an era of stability in the economy, which is conducive in the long run to enthuse increased savings, enhanced investments, more exports and stable external value of Indian rupee. This calls for fiscal self – discipline on the part of both the centre and states.
Government, must also constantly attune its policies to cut deficits aggressively so as to be conducive to save the productive sectors in the economy. In the recent past, there has been sharp decline in the private investment and simultaneously fiscal deficit has risen beyond the tolerable dimension, because government policies have been more politicalised to invest in unproductive social ventures like NAREGA which ultimately went down the drain due to corruption a – la U.P pattern. Yet, government failed to cut the national deficit which is around 9.5% at present causing inflationary spiral. Low – cost capital, as a result, vanished in the private sector for investment.
It must be noted while formulating the 2012 – 13 budget that the national fiscal deficit (both central and state) including off – budget spending increased from 4.8% of GDP in 2008 to 10% in 2009 and is likely to be much higher in 2012. The government also failed to limit its unproductive non – plan and revenue expenditures due to excess staff, increased subsidies to fertilizer, food, oil and other spheres. The subsidy psychology politicalised, discouraged farming sectors and bad governance at all levels. Subsidies also encouraged to consume more food without corresponding increase in food production. Even disinvestment proceeds out of 2G and 3G licenses did not help to reduce the fiscal deficits which exceeds Rs.1,00,000 crores in 2012. Further, deficits further increased due to revenue loss arising out of duty on import of petroleum products, slowdown in tax collection due to inadequate tax management, failure of government to disinvest the loss making public sector units as contemplated in the 2011 – 12 budgets. Therefore, at a time when the national consolidated fiscal deficit in 2012 is likely to be around 10.5% of GDP, there is an imperative need for the government to reduce its revenue expenditure on establishments and curtail the subsidies. Because, it goes without saying that increasing fiscal deficit burden may directly affect the future growth pattern.
Therefore, it is imperative that 2012 – 13 budget must suggest steps to ensure to cut non - interest revenue expenditure through expenditure reform policies. Privatization of PSUs must be expedited so as to reduce debt burden of the government. However, if the government fails to entail its budgetary provisions related to fiscal deficits into the framework of growth potentials. India may fail to contain inflation and prices, affecting the standard of living of common people. In order to reduce the extent of deficit financing investment prospects by overseas investors including NRIs in spheres like wholesale retailing must be encouraged. It is also imperative that in order to secure fiscal consolidation, the government should target a zero revenue deficit as against 6% at present and reign in national fiscal deficit at 6% as against 9.5% in 2012. At a time when India plans to borrow upto Rs.500 billion ($9.5b) by pledging property and shares to bridge the governments deficit budget in 2012, reducing the fiscal deficit for 2012 – 13 shall remain a big challenge for the FM while presenting his budget in March 2012. Regretfully, cutting the deficit as a function has become more of politics rather than real public finance instrument. Hence, the impending budget must face the challenge to reconfigure spending away from subsidies to growth – boosting investments, if the objective is to reach a growth rate of 9 to 10% during 2012 – 14. This is more imperative at a time when the country has been confronted with economic slowdown, sluggish revenues and rising subsidies. The government estimated that it would procure Rs.40,000cr out of disinvestment did not materialize. Spectrum auction may not materialize. On the contrary, it may have to bear additional expenditure of Rs.45,000 crores towards fuel subsidy due to increasing global pricing enlarging the quantum of deficit.
Therefore, in order government must reduce its public debt – GDP ratio; fiscal discipline must be imposed with an iron hand in terms of Fiscal responsibility and Budget management Act. Fiscal deficit must be brought down to 3 to 3.5% during 2012 – 13. Whereas Keynsian solution is welcome for a country like India, fiscal profligacy shall defeat the very purpose.
In the circumstances, to restrain the deficit financing to the minimum in the budget 2012 – 13, F.M. must enhance plan outlay for social and rural infrastructural sector; all out efforts must be made to improve agriculture output, cutting wastages, increasing food processing, instead of merely raising of budgetary allocations. Funds flow to rural India must help to improve consumption related productive sectors. Finance minister, must also imbibe into the budget credible fiscal consolidation process; reducing subsidies in oil sector, rationalizing excise duties, improving better tax collection management so as to improve the productivity and total receipts, thus helping to bring down the deficit. But, it warrants bold decisions based on fiscal prudence rather than political exigencies on the part of the national exchequer when he presents his budget 2012 – 13, in mid March 2012. Will he or will he not?
Author is Former General Manager of Vijaya BanK.

YEH MERA INDIA

Denied admission Woman delivers & dies on roadside
Kolkata: Denied admission by two government hospitals, a woman died after giving birth to twins on the pavement, bringing the state-run medical setup under the scanner yet again for alleged negligence.
The West Bengal government has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
It was a night of horror for the 40-year-old pregnant woman who was refused admission despite possessing health cards.
The woman met a tragic end in the wee hours of the morning shortly after delivering the second baby on the roadside near the Maidan area after she was made to travel back and forth between the two hospitals with her husband.
The first of the twins born outside Chittaranjan Sevasadan was also with the couple when they approached the Sambhunath Pandit Hospital for help. The second baby was delivered on the pavement outside Sambhunath Hospital 90 minutes after the first child was born.
The Chittaranjan Sevasadan allegedly refused to admit the woman and later the Sambhunath Hospital also turned her away saying she should go to the first hospital where she had visited. An official of one of the hospitals said no case of a woman being denied admission has come to their notice.
West Bengal Health Director Biswaranjan Satpathy said a three-member inquiry committee had been formed to look into why the woman was denied admission to hospitals.
"The patient should have been admitted in the hospital and the incident will be inquired into," he said.
A relative of the woman said she delivered the first baby immediately after developing labour pains around 11-11.30 pm. The second child was delivered 90 minutes later.
Leader of Opposition Suryakanta Mishra, who was Health Minister in the erstwhile Left Front government, condemned the incident and demanded that Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee, who holds the health portfolio, give the responsibility of the department to some other person.

Transgender tests the waters in ‘Ram ki nagri’
Gulshan Bindu alias Bindu ‘kinnar’, as the name suggests, is a transgender who has made life difficult for the candidates in the electoral fray in Ayodhya. It is not known whether Bindu will contest the poll in ‘Ram ki nagri’ but she has certainly emerged as serious contender. Nobody is taking Bindu lightly, least of all the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate, Lallo Singh, who is said to be worried at the prospect of the "kinnar" causing a dent in the Ati Dalit voters who support him. The talk in Ayodhya now is the likely vote tally of Bindu after the first phase of polling. Aware of the strong connection of the temple-town with Lord Rama, Bindu, in her election speeches, has been quoting Rama, who is said to have told the ‘kinnars’ that they will rule in ‘Kalyug’.

Buying votes Goa style
Where there is a will, there is a way! And what better than to celebrate the traditional haldi-kumkum ritual to woo voters, away from the glare of the Election Commission. Self-Help Groups in the state and wives of many political workers are asked to conduct such rituals, whereby they get a chance to sneak in some hard cash to buy votes. The State political grapevine has it that while some tried to distribute Rs 5,000 each to women through tiffin boxes, given as a gift during the ceremony, others went to the extent of bribing woman farmers by giving a sack of chilly seeds containing Rs. 2000 packets in it. Next time you ask for a tender coconut, you never know you may be just lucky to get Moneywala instead of Paniwala!

Police register case of murder after court judgement
Mumbai: Following the judgement of the Bombay High Court, the Bandra police have registered a murder case of a 38-year-old man who had died in April last year. Back then, the Bandra police had registered an accidental death report following which the case was closed.
But, the brother of the deceased was not convinced and moved the High Court stating that his brother was murdered. Bandra police said, on April 12 last year, the deceased Rashid Shaikh was admitted to Bhabha Hospital by his friend after the former collapsed while walking on the road. Rashid died in the hospital while being operated following which his brother Sayyed Shaikh alleged foul play.

Sons & Relatives (Goa) Pvt. Ltd.
Panaji: Five political families from Goa have cornered nearly one-third of Congress tickets for the March 3 Assembly elections. And there’s more to come.
Two kin of Goa’s Cabinet ministers are likely to figure in Congress alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) ticket list, expected to be released.
Three Congress nominations have been given to the Alemao clan, namely Public Works Department Minister Churchill Alemao (Navelim), his brother and Urban Development Minister Joaquim Alemao (Cuncolim) and Churchill’s daughter, a political debutante Valanka (Benaulim).
Sources in the NCP say Joaquim Alemao’s son Yuri, also making his electoral debut, is the top contender for the party to the Sanguem constituency.
Tainted minister Atanasio Monserrate and his wife Jennifer have been granted the slips of paper to contest from St Cruz and Taleigaon constituencies respectively.
Former Chief Minister Pratapsing Rane and his son Vishwajeet will contest elections on the party ticket from Poriem and Valpol constituency respectively, while Home Minister Ravi Naik and his son Ritesh will contest from Ponda and Marcaim.
Ravi’s son Roy is also tipped to get the Mayem Assembly seat from the NCP.
Former transport minister and Congress legislator Pandurang Madkaikar has also been awarded the ticket to contest from Cumbharjua, while his brother Dhaku will contest from Priol.
Currently from 33 seats as per the Congress – NCP seat sharing arrangement the later is entitled to seven seats in the 40 member Assembly allotted, 11 have already been grabbed by the ‘families’, constituting nearly 33.33 percent of the total seats available to the Congress.

MONTH THAT WAS

New India pegs Japanese tsunami at Rs 350cr

New Delhi: Public sector general insurer New India Assurance Company, the only domestic general insurer with presence in Japan, has received claims worth Rs 350 crore due to the earthquake and tsunami in March last year. "We have a liability of around Rs 350 crore due to the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami that took place in Japan last year," a company official told media. Referring to its exposure in Japan, a company official said most of the exposure is retail in nature with only a minor exposure to the risks emanating from Tokyo Electric Power Company which ran the Fukushima nuclear power plant that bore the maximum brunt of the tsunami and was shut down. The company had reported a loss for the first time in its 90-year history at Rs 421 crore in 2010-11, due to the losses incurred form its international operations.


Where there is will there is a way Black Money - US indicts Swiss Bank
Washington: The United States indicted Wegelin, the oldest Swiss private bank, on charges that it enabled wealthy Americans to evade taxes on at least $1.2 billion hidden in offshore bank accounts, the U.S. Justice Department said.
The announcement, by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, represents the first time an overseas bank has been indicted by the United States for enabling tax fraud by U.S. taxpayers.
The indictment said the U.S. government had seized more than $16 million from Wegelin’s correspondent bank, the Swiss giant UBS AG, in Stamford, Connecticut, via a separate civil forfeiture complaint. Because Wegelin has no branches outside Switzerland, it used correspondent banking services, a standard industry practice, to handle money for U.S. –based clients.
The charges against Wegelin, of fraud and conspiracy, provide a rare glimpse into the world of Swiss private banking in the wake of a crackdown on UBS AG. In 2009, UBS paid $780 million and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department over charges it engaged in fraud and conspiracy by enabling scores of Americans to evade taxes through its private bank. The bank later turned over the names of more than 4,500 clients, a watershed in Swiss bank secrecy.
The indictment signals a ramping up of pressure on 10 other Swiss banks under investigation by the Justice Department, including Credit Suisse, Julius Baer and Basler Kantonalbank.
Six days ago, Wegelin-founded in 1741—effectively broke itself up by selling the non-U.S. portion of its business.


US, India win WTO case against China on raw material export
Washington: Led by the US, several countries, including India, Mexico and Brazil, have won their battle against China at the World Trade Organisation on export of raw material. In a ruling, the WTO Appellate Body found China’s export restraints on several industrial raw materials used as key components in the steel, aluminum, and chemicals industries to be inconsistent with China’s WTO obligations. The raw materials at issue include various forms of bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon carbide, silicon metal, yellow phosphorus, and zinc.
Export restraints on these types of industrial products can skew the playing field against the US and other countries in the production and export of numerous steel, aluminum and chemical, and a wide range of other products, the USTR said. They can artificially increase world prices for these raw materials while artificially lowering prices for Chinese producers.


Guantanamo in Baluchistan!
Washington: In view of the seriousness of the law and order situation in Baluchistan, prominent human rights activists have told US lawmakers that it is the Pakistan Army and its spy agency that is running a "reign of terror" inside the restive province, informs media.
"The problem goes back to…is that in many ways Pakistan’s abuse of human rights served our interests, and so we’re kind of coming to this late in the game, that we’re trying to ask the Pakistanis to clean up their act after we have given them literally a blank check for about a decade," Christine Fair, Assistant Professor at Georgetown University, told US lawmakers at a Congressional hearing. The first ever hearing on human rights violation in Baluchistan was organised by Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Ralph Peters, military analyst and author, said that Baluchistan is an occupied territory, whose people never wanted to be part of Pakistan in 1947.
"We look at this occupied territory of Baluchistan specifically, where people who simply yearn for fundamental freedoms for the right to determine that their own future, whether or not they have a battery of qualified teachers ready to go," he said. While expressing admiration for the sacrifices the province people are making against enormous odds in Pakistan, Peters charged the latter of actively supporting terrorists and insurgent movements in Afghanistan.
"What’s happening to Baluch people, it’s the kill-and-dump operation, it’s a terror mechanism that the Pakistani military and the intelligence officers used to terrorise the local population," said T. Kumar of the Amnesty International.
"It may be for a political reason, because some people, or may be a majority of Baluch may be asking for independence," he said, and clarified that Amnesty International, as a human rights organization, does not take position on whether a country is independent or not. Kumar said that the Pakistan army brutalized the population in the region with the aid of US weapons as they wanted some opening in their political aspirations, and asked the lawmakers to ensure that no weapon be used against them.
"Baluchistan presents a hydra-headed conflict situation. There are multiple actors perpetrating violence in there. But the engine of the human rights abuse no doubt is the Pakistani military, paramilitaries and intelligence agencies," Ali Dayan Hassan, Pakistan director of Asia division of Human Rights said.


Men cannot marry without a flat: China
Beijing: Marrying in China seems to have turned a Herculean task for the male fraternity with majority of the women viewing ownership of an apartment as a pre-condition to marriage, a survey has found. In a survey, conducted on the status of marriage and relationships in China, nearly 70 percent of the women interviewed regard having an apartment as a pre-requisite for men to ask for marriage, ‘China Daily’ quoted a media report as saying.


Anti-dumping duty on four items from China extended
New Delhi: In the backdrop of widening trade gap with China, India extended for five years anti-dumping duty on import of four Chinese products, including silk fabrics and a sweetener.
The duty is imposed to protect the domestic industry from cheap imports. Import of certain type of silk fabrics from China will attract anti-dumping duty of $ 1.82 to $ 7.59 per meter, a notification of the Revenue Department said. The duty was first imposed on the fabrics in December 2006 till December 2011.
India had a trade deficit of $ 16 billion against China during 2010-11. It has already crossed $ 20 billion in the first seven months of the current fiscal.
The Directorate General of Anti-Dumping (DGAD) had carried a suo motu sunset review probe in December 2010 to examine whether cessation of the duty would lead to continuation of dumping and injury to the domestic players.
Following the review, the DGAD had recommended continuation and enhancement of the anti-dumping duty.

ABRACADABRA

Brit woman insures bottom for £ 4 million

London: A woman hotel employee in Britain is having her bottom insured for a whopping four million pounds (Rs. 33 crore) after she landed a job to test the softness of beds for hotel guests. Natalie Thomas, 39, will check about 24 beds everyday after being appointed "director of bed bouncing" for hotel chain premier Inn. The chain has around 46,000 beds, the ‘Daily Express’ reported. Thomas was given the job after the bosses were impressed with her ability to feel even the smallest lump or bump in a mattress. She reportedly takes care of her bottom with "regular moisturising" and does not wear materials like denim jeans which lessen sensitivity. The firm would now reportedly insure her bottom for four million pounds.


Terrorist called teacher

Bulandshahr (UP): A class-III student of a private school died after allegedly being thrashed by a teacher in Jahangirbad area of the district, reports media. It was brought to our knowledge that an eight-year-old student of a private primary school had died due to alleged canning and thrashing by a teacher, basic shiksha adhikari Ramesh Chandra Verma said. A departmental team was rushed to the school for investigation, he said, adding that the probe could not be completed as the teacher Ramesh Kumar was absconding. "We are investigating the matter, and our team will soon come up with the truth," he added.


Court kept him in 'Jail without Bail'-"But" says Suresh Kalmadi "I have full faith in the judiciary"

Pune: Surely, he has to have faith in the judiciary, he has little choice. He was talking to the crowd who had gathered to receive him in Pune. Having arrested for CWG alleged wrong doings, he was kept in Tihar jail for good part of a whole year, only because, he had all the abilities to influence the course of justice. People become popular for varieties of reasons and Kalmadi lives in Pune since last, over 35 years, and being protégé of Sharad Pawar, he had nursed his constituency at the government’s largesse. Hence, crowd in Pune probably are being more than nice for their own reasons. Afterall they had rejected one of the cleanest IAS officer Arun Bhatia in the last election. So what’s the big deal that he is welcomed into his old den !



‘Porn in the air’ – Indian court clerk caught red-watching blue

London: Close on the heels of 3 Karnataka ministers resigning over ‘Porn’ in Assembly, an Indian-origin court clerk, who was caught watching pornography right under the nose of a judge during a rape trial, has said he did so ‘because he was bored’.
Debashish Majumder, 54, accessed obscene images of topless women being gagged and couples engaged in sexual acts while the victim gave her harrowing evidence at Inner London Crown Court, the court was told, media reports.
But the judge, who was sitting directly behind him, caught him.Majumder, who had worked at Inner London Crown Court, later admitted routinely watching porn while trials were taking place.
"Majumder was working as a court clerk at Inner London and his conduct constituted a wholesale abuse of his position and the equipment provided in that he viewed porn sites on his court computer whilst the court was engaged in the conduct of a trial on an allegation of rape," ‘The Daily Mail’ quoted a prosecutor, Annabel Darlow, as saying.
"Judge Seed noticed what was taking place. He initially hoped that he had been mistaken or that the behaviour would desist. On Dec. 10, he did take action and drew the attention of the resident judge to the matter," he added.
A police probe into the incident found pornography searches in the history of Majumder’s work computer and child and extreme pornography images on his home computer.He pleaded guilty to one charge of misconduct in public office and five counts of possession of indecent images.
His lawyer Susannah Stevens said her client had suffered a stroke about eight months ago and that could have affected his mental state.


Boy breaks teacher’s leg with karate kick

London: A 10-year-old boy in Britain has broken a leg and kneecap of his schoolteacher by attacking her using karate kick. Diane Whitehead, 53, could be off work for up to 18 months following the brutal assault by the boy at a school exclusion unit, the ‘Daily Express’ reported. The boy is also believed to have head butted a second woman teacher at the school in south-east London. Whitehead, a mother-of-two, is recovering in hospital after surgery to pin her shattered leg back together. It will be at least six weeks before she can walk again and doctors have warned her that she could be off work up to 18 months.


Arabia: Still a man’s world

Dubai: A man in Kuwait who discovered flirtatious message on his sister’s mobile phone shaved off her hair in anger, and had to be stopped by the police before he could completely shave off her head. He reportedly had his doubts about the sister and managed to sift through the contents of her inbox. Upon finding the messages, he confronted her, but she told him that they were classmates. According to Kuwait daily ‘Al Watan’, the infuriated brother was not convinced and he started shaving off her to punish her despite pleas from their worried mother, ‘Gulf News’ reported.


By women for women

London: Women in Saudi Arabia will not be dealing with men anymore while buying undergarments, as the country will soon be enforcing a gender law that will allow only females to work in women’s lingerie and clothing stores. The 2006 law banning men from working in female apparel and cosmetic stores has never been put into effect, partly because of view of hard-liners in the religious establishment, who oppose the whole idea of women working where men and women congregate together, like malls, the ‘Telegraph’ reported. Saudi women have boycotted lingerie stores in a bid to pressure them to employ women.



THE LAST PAGE

The Hypocrisy of our intellectuals
Dr. M. V. Kamath
What on earth is happening in India? Established values are collapsing like a house of cards and all that one heard from our intellectuals is a scream of laughter. The Congress is engulfed in a sea of scandals. The BJP is in no better position, as in Karnataka. And the less said about other parties, the better. No Congress leader in Delhi has deigned to resign, let alone apologise for the picture of Dr Manmohan Singh sitting pretty in his Prime Ministerial chair braving all charges of neglect and indifference to what is going on around him. There is not a word of regret from the DMK or its leader Karunanidhi about the doings of A.Raja. And now three ministers of the Karnataka government have resigned, caught in the act of watching porn clips on their cell phones while attending a session of the Legislative Assembly. In Andhra Pradesh three IAS officers, along with nine others have been charged with criminal breach of trust, misappropriation of government property and cheating the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC). Among the four IAS officers charged, ironically leads the Home Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Government, no less, the very man who supposedly is the administrator of law and order in the state! The charge sheet runs to over 1,000 pages! Actually Home Secretary B.P. Acharya is not the first IAS officer to be arrested. Already in jail is Industries Secretary Y Srilakshmi, also an IAS. The arrested have supposedly rendered the state exchequer poorer by Rs 43.5 crore. In Mumbai, former Army Vice Chief, Lt Gen Noble Thamburaj has been booked by the CBI in a land dispute case, along with a private builder and a Defence Estate Officer on charges of criminal conspiracy and misconduct. Even the Judiciary seems to be slipping. In early February, the Supreme Court took strong exception to the tendency among litigants to attach opinions by former apex court judges during the hearing of a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) in which the petitioner had annexed the opinion or five former Chief Justices in support of his case, apparently despite a disclaimer from the Justices that their opinions are not to be used in any Court Proceedings. Expressing his displeasure, one of the Supreme Court judges is quoted as saying. "In this country no value is attached to the question of the honour of this Court. Everything melts before money."
Then here is another sample of double talk. A report in the media says the Congress in Goa has welcomed into the party a former national secretary of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) who had been arrested for illegal mining of iron ore and released on bail subsequently. Crime obviously pays. Money everywhere flows like flood water. In mid-January, unaccounted money to the tune of Rs 28.53 crore was seized from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, ahead of the election and in Punjab a similar amount (Rs 23.7 crore) was seized by the Income Tax Department, that is chicken feed in the context of Rs 100 crore seized from a U.P. liquor baron reportedly close to Mayavathi who had denied tickets to nearly half of the state’s sitting MLAs for reasons that are easily guessed. It is to this level of degradation that the country has been reduced. It is all very well for the three BJP MLAs in Karnataka to resign on charges of watching obscenity, but what are we doing when Facebook and Google are carrying objectionable content? The Karnataka Ministers were plain stupid but what are these two networking sites doing? According to Press Council Chairman Justice Markandey Katju, those sites should be ready to face legal action on failure to remove objectionable content uploaded on them. As he put it: "I have seen the content on these sites and found them to be highly objectionable, which may disrupt social harmony. If they fail to check these contents, they should be ready to face legal action". According to Katju he totally supports the views of Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on the issue of regulating and putting a check on content of these social sites. The argument put forward by these sites is that it is not possible to remove objectionable content
from being uploaded in huge quantity. The question is: What is objectionable? How much of sex and peripheral subjects is permissible in any website? Or, for the matter, in the print media? A few weeks ago, a Calcutta daily published as many as nineteen pictures of bikini clad and voluptuous girls in one issue. Outlook (Feb.6) carried an ad for condoms-Kohinoor condoms. It shows a man and a woman looking hungrily at each other, sitting on a bed and the copy says: "Your day is long. Now your night will be long too. Take more time. Give more love, presenting Kohinoor Xtra Time condoms. The climax-delay lubricant gives you more time every night. And help you keep your love-going on and on". Very innocent ad, it will be argued. But how will a youngster still in his early teens view it? Or is it part of the sex education that is marked out these days for the young? Instead of focusing on porn clips, would the Ministers have been considered ill-behaved if they were paging through copies of Playboy or Debonair? What needs to be realized is that our society is going through an unprecedented cultural change. In an age of Contract Marriage, Live-ins and pre-marital sex and the like, having a peep at porn clips sounds like child’s play. And may it be remembered that conservatism and so-called hard-core Hindutva exist across parties and are not BJP-specific? One has to live in rural areas to understand it, as I do. The Sri Rama Sene is branded with opposing St Valentine Day and young women having drinks in pubs past midnight. In many parts of north India, parents are opposed to their daughters marrying outside their castes and there are instances reported of killing of the couple. Values in India are undergoing changes which are resented in many sections of our society. A clash, in such circumstances between no-changers and pro-changers is inevitable. Again, with money and power accumulation becoming societal standards, the moral deterioration of people across all segments is getting increasingly noticeable. The Marxist concept of change described in terms of Thesis, anti-Thesis, Synthesis is what we are witnessing. Old values are under siege; a new and settled society is yet to be formed. Sneering at No-changers doesn’t take us anywhere. The process of change is inevitably painful and sometimes repugnant. The three Karnataka Ministers are not exceptional. They are part of the large army of porn-peepers, some of whom can be found in all segments of our society, including the media.