Thursday, May 10, 2012

ISSUES & CONCERNS INITIATIVES

Month-In-Perspective

EDITOR'S COLUMN
Friends


Summer which had already peaked last month continued the mercury spiral. That was only to show that monsoon could be round the corner. Yes rain god didn’t disappoint, at least in some pockets. The perched land was waiting for the heaven to open up. But it was too little to quench the thirst of drought stricken land scape in the interiors of India, especially in Maharashtra and Karnataka. Rain needs to come early and in abundance.

Some time early April, we were rather pleasantly surprised to find a letter from the British Isles. We have a passionate reader from Isle of Wight, an Indian from Kerala, Katyayini Subash. For the last three years she has been reading I & C, and have been regularly renewing it. Two years ago when she sent her renewal for 2 years she also sent a cheque for Rs: 5000/- for our reach out activities, with a note saying ‘Your I & C is a journalism of conscience’. We were bucked up by her generosity. The latest letter came after about 2 years with another 2 years’ renewal subscription with a note “I think that the time for the renewal is due or nearing. I dearly wish to continue”. Her magnanimity truly filled our cup of joy. But what caused the overflow of happiness was the other cheque for Rs: 5000/- for our reach out activities besides the cheque for Rs: 1400/- being subscription for 2 years. Quite frankly, it is not the amount but the concern in words and deeds that was most touching. 'Thank you Ms. Kathyayini Subash. We pray Almighty God to shower his blessings on you'. Its people like Ms Subash, and there are some like her, who keep us going, when we have our 'near and dear', ones who dismiss us remarking, 'stupid magazine', 'you have money', and 'no-time to read', epitaphs.

April has come and gone with its own share of good, bad and ugly. Media has hyped some and underplayed some other as it suited it. We have tried to look in perspective some of the happenings during the month that went by.

Since the Godhra happening and the subsequent blood letting in Gujarat, 10 years have gone by. Gujarat has come a long way since Feb 2002, however scar on both-body and mind-has kept the amber of the tragedy still burning. We have tried to look into the issue in a larger perspective. We have written 'An Open Letter' to the CEO of Gujarat Shri Narendra Modi, for the importance and relevance it has. The write up had a round of reading by some discerning readers. They said it is very balanced. Hope our readers shall find it so and interesting too. It was a newer way of looking at the issue of co-operative co-existence. Do revert with your thoughts.

KERALA: Acting Kerala governor Hansraj Bhardwaj is in the news, of course as usual, for all wrong reasons. He is also the occupant of Raaj Bhavan in Bengalooru.While inaugurating a seminar, the other day, at Gandhi Bhavan in Bengalooru under the auspices of Karnataka Gandhi Memorial Fund and the state government, Deptt. of Culture, he reportedly observed that 'we are only using the name of Mahatma for political gain but do not practice Mahatma’s ideals'. But, “excuse me your Excellency, the Governor, what about your reported demand for an Audi car in your new acting assignment at Thiruvanantapuram costing some Rs: 80 lakhs. Hasn’t Mahatma said about simple living and high thinking!?”


“How do you relate your latest desire with what you reportedly stated in Bengalooru. You are a typical example of speaking to the gallery but practicing the opposite when it suites.” Kerala Govt. is obviously worked up, especially with resource crunch so also with the already available fleet of cars at the local gubernatorial mansion.

According to the media, the locals are up against the acting governor’s expensive demand. So far it was only BJP in Karnataka which was feeling the heat of the lawyer turned Congress politician turned governor. Now let the Congress government in Thiruvananthapuram feel the discomfort of this HB (Hansraj Bhardwaj) factor. There will be better realisation in the Congress High Command when chicken come home to roost. Good luck to Oommen Chandy, the Kerala CM.

There was this strange news from New Delhi “Amid centre’s flip-flop, court lets ship leave” in the front page of a leading English news paper and in the 14th page it informed “Settlement Reached”. The news that “settlement reached” is a saner development and therefore should have been in the first page, and the other news had a sensational dimension to it and hence it became front page headline. This is what we call as ‘ethics’ in journalism.

Both news were about the episode involving Italian ship Enrica, where two Indian fishermen were killed off Kerala coast by the security guards of the ship. There was furore all over. All Indian authorities involved in taking up the issue against the Italian liner, made a strong case. Italians tried their best to get out as easily as possible. First of course the colonial white mentality, ‘how can Italians be seen as helpless against coloured Indians?'. Then perhaps the thought that there is an Italian lady at the helm of affairs of the political party in power, could have nursed Italian thoughts of having an easy course. But, at every level, efforts of Italian authorities were stymied by the forceful presentation by all Indian authorities. All angles of culpability, accountability and the liability for the compensation were all appropriately handled. And this latest front page headline was a shocker. According to report it was Additional Solicitor General (ASG), apparently briefed by somebody-up, took a completely contrary stand favouring the Italian shipping company which had gone to Supreme Court with a Special Leave Petition. While central government is trying to wriggle out of this strange development, by MEA protesting the ASG’s stand, and then Ministry of Shipping issuing a press release that ASG’s stand is without the central government approval. Fortunately the Supreme Court has adjourned the case for further hearing. But the subsequent report informing about the settlement of Rs: 1 crore each to the families of both the deceased is a fair compensation in Indian conditions. Although it is debatable whether under similar circumstances an Italians life could be worth less than Euros 200,000/- which is what the Italians have agreed in this case to pay per person. In any case the families of Indians killed have accepted the offer. This closes one aspect of the case. For the culpability and other offences, only Supreme Court verdict may have to be waited for. Hope ASG will not be there to bungle the case.


KARNATAKA: It had to come in some form, and it came all the same. The report ‘High Court sets aside Bidari’s selection as DGP’ did not come a day too early. The BJP government was within its legal position to appoint AR Infant the senior most IPS as the DGP. They should have risen above partisan politics but they succumbed to some pressure from some where. Now that they got a rap on their knuckle, has unfortunately not chastened them. They have gone to Supreme Court challenging the High Court order.

When will these governments learn lessons in fair play in the larger interest of society? The government had not only reportedly suppressed the reports of human rights violations by Shankar Bidari, as STF head, on Veerappan Mission, but also they superceded the seniority of AR Infant. So for Infant it was a poetic justice.

While human beings are same all over the world, there was always a feeling that, when it comes to preference to male child and the resultant female infanticide, some sections of Indians were better than the other. Preference for male progeny was known to be always present among a section of Hindus and Sikhs if not all Hindus and all Sikhs. But Christians and Muslims, may be even others, are generally not known to have dislike or hatred for female progeny. However the latest news from Bengalooru of such happening in a Muslim family was indeed shocking. One 25 year old Umar Farook has reportedly tried to kill his 3 months old girl child and child died subsequently in a hospital. Reportedly, a violent man, he has been physically violent with his wife from his second marriage, due to which one of the twin had died in the womb itself. Unhappy at the birth of the girl child, Farook has been beating and physically assaulting the child for all the 3 months. After the Child Welfare Committee was alerted by the hospital where the child died, police reportedly arrested this maniac. But what is sadly surprising is why is the fatwa industry quite on such crimes against children, that too female child?

A Bangalore date lined print media news reported that the state government is actively considering increasing the maternity leave from 135 days to 180 days. Can this be called a case of barking up the wrong tree?! While any opposition to this move will be negatively taken by all women employees of the government, what needs to be highlighted is the pathetic condition of female Anganwadi workers, who have reportedly not received their last 3 months’ payments. They not only do not have any governmental benefits and entitlements, their salary of about Rs. 3000/- took some 35 years to reach there. Coupled with this delayed payment the governments all over India is only exploiting these over 10,00,000 women Anganwadi workers and none in the government or the bureaucracy including the political class and not even the parents of those children attending anganwadies, are overtly bothered about their well being. Mental poverty is our national psyche, we only think of our problems, others' problems are not our problems. Besides these government workers, with due respect to all those who work well, a good part of them are only a drain on the exchequer with hardly any productivity, as compared to these harassed but committed Anganwadi workers.


MAHARASHTRA: Violence has never been an answer to another violence. No violence anywhere in the world has solved any problem, except of course mass uprising like it happened in France, Russia or Rumania. China has an authoritarian regime, ironically started by Mao Zedong. Chinese are not allowing democratic forces to succeed by ruthless crackdown. Since the number of people yearning for democratic way of life is not overwhelming, the authorities in China have succeeded in keeping the still-born people’s power, under check. This is partly because, communist China has been able to provide all basic human necessities, thus majority Chinese do not think democracy is a need. Hence in China state violence has succeeded in curbing the democratic movement of its people.

However, in the Indian context, violence against state cannot succeed for the sheer power of the state, so also the state violence cannot be allowed to go unchecked due to the inbuilt checks and balances. Thus violence is futile, but a small degree of state violence is a helpless evil and cannot be completely eradicated or even avoided by the very nature of the system. Therefore these Naxals or the so-called Maoists have to accept this unpalatable truth.

Round the year we have read in news papers about the violence from both sides. Unfortunately these Naxal groups are making the authorities many time helpless, because of our democratic way of life of accepting dissent in public life. But often they take it too far. Of course governments’ too, many a time, is insensitive. But then two wrongs do not make one right.

Only some weeks ago the blast by Maoists at Gadchiroli caused 13 deaths. In Jharkhand, 8 died in gun battle – 6 Maoists and 2 jawans – in a combing operation. In Orissa they took two Italians as hostages and after lot of interaction they were released. An MLA is still in their custody. Now they have taken a district collector as hostage after killing his two body guards. These are extremely unacceptable actions. Even the interlocutors or mediators suggested by Maoists themselves have backed out disagreeing with the methods adopted by these insurgent groups. While it is true that there are acceptable justifiable demands by the Maoists, these intermittent irritants make things difficult for them. It could be, there are differing views among these groups, under different leaders. There appears to be lack of coherence among these leaders to have a common approach. This movement should not end up as a ‘ride on tiger’, lest tiger eat you up as you try to get down.


GUJARAT: The conviction of 23 in the post Godhra riot case of Gujarat has, to some extent, broughtjustice to the victims of the 2002 violence. The special fast track court in Anand handed life sentence to 18 of them although prosecution had pleaded for death sentence. Other 5 were sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. It was a case of torching of a building taken shelter by Muslim men, women and children fearing mob violence. Earlier police had driven the mob away by lobbing tear gas shells and by firing at them. But a larger crowd that returned later overran the police picket, beat them up and chased them away.

It was a sad reprisal for the Godhra train burning. The land of Mahatma is bleeding incessantly while he is still praying in the astral world ‘Sabko Sanmathi De Bhagwan’.


WEST BENGAL: Mamata Banerjee, on whom lot of expectations were hoped is increasingly doing her best to destroy her democratic image. She is in the news for all wrong reasons. The month started for Kolkattans with a kind of a press muzzle unseen or unheard in India. By a government circular, Mamata’s regime in West Bengal restricted purchase of only 13 newspapers for its libraries all across the state. It excluded those which were probably critical of its actions or inactions. This kind of patronisation is unheard of, in free India. Cutting across party affiliations, politicians all over the state described the move as “most partial and undemocratic”. Responding to the public outcry Congress Party demanded immediate withdrawal of the circular.

Close on its heels was the arrest of Prof. Ambikesh Mahapatra, of Jadavpur University on trumped up charges of defaming the state Chief Minister. Police had even picked up his neighbour for alleged complicity. They were only forwarding an email with a caricature of Mamata, and two Union Railway Ministers-past and present-who are from Trinamool Congress. It was a cartoon version of the Railway Ministry imbroglio involving Mamata Banerjee linking it to a Satyajit Ray master piece ‘Sonar Kella’

Suffering from an insecurity complex Ms. Banerjee took offence and got the professor arrested. The arrest was roundly condemned all over the country. It showed the West Bengal Chief Minister’s very touchy level of intolerance. What compounded the public condemnation of the incident was, that Professor was detained overnight before granting the bail while those who attacked him were let off the same day. This was highly partisan as was evident. Mamata is slowly growing like Maayawathi in autocracy and that will spell her doom. She needs to be more mature. Unfortunately nobody among her party colleagues are in a position to advise her. She is not corrupt hence she should stay in power. But alas, she is so egoistic, and ego has destroyed leaders in the past.



PUNJAB: Yes, this can only happen in India. A lady Cabinet Minister of Punjab, convicted for forcibly aborting the feotus of her daughter, who probably succumbed later and died, was sentenced to 5 years of rigorous imprisonment. The charges were forcible abortion, wrongful confinement, abduction and criminal conspiracy. Forced to quit the cabinet, she was given royal security on her way to prison. First she was taken to Patiala Central Jail by an A.C Toyota Innova luxury car. On reaching, she demanded that she be shifted to Kapoorthala Central Jail, some 200kms away, the district she belongs to.

Acceding to her request promptly, she was transported in the same luxury fashion and driven straight into the Jail complex, where jail officials were waiting to receive her. Shockingly two jail officials, reportedly touched her feet, as soon as she alighted from the car. Yes, the opposition politicians have raised a hue and cry. But nothing seem to happen at least politically. Only court can change things as it has imprisoned her. How she is going to spend the whole of 5 years in this luxury fashion has to be seen.



NEW DELHI: Refuting the privilege charge, that he has lowered the dignity of the parliament by making derogatory statement against members of parliament, Arvind Kejriwal has reiterated that there are 162 MPs with criminal charges against them. He is reported to have read a list at a press conference alleging, 14 MPs are facing murder charges, 20 with attempt to murder, and 13 for kidnapping charges. “Does this not give rise to the suspicion that till such people, with conflict of interest, are in parliament our criminal justice system will not be improved. How can I respect such people?” Kejriwal has reportedly asked. He has many acerbic observations to make. ‘When, the member who complained against me, was tearing the Lokpal Bill on 29th Dec 2011 in the Rajya Sabha, with all members witnessing, was destroying the parliamentary norm, he was not reprimanded by the chair’. ‘when business tycoons enter parliament to push for their agenda, it did not insult the parliament’, ‘Cash-for-vote scam, buying of MPs to save the government’, ‘Passing of bills with hardly any debate’, ‘MLA watching pornography’. These are disturbing issues not disturbing the conscience of policy makers. Quite frankly how many Members of Parliament or Members of Legislatures can truly match Arvind Kejriwal, for his education, his competence, his integrity. Truly speaking, Parliament should honour him for what he has done for the country and what he is capable of doing.

Indian defence forces were in the news these days for all wrong reasons. While the alleged lack of preparedness and a reported ‘cock-a-snoock’ by Indian Express took the cake, there have been many related issues of corruption and administrative bunglings. The age controversy mercifully appears to have died down. But the monster of corruption has suddenly taken the centre stage.

Defence procurement and sleaze are like twins and they do co-exist. It is more a rule than an exception. So, its no wonder that when Gen V.K. Singh let the cat out to run into pigeons, it led to a kind of Pandora ’s Box.

Of course it has been quite sometime since we heard last about the pay offs in the corridors of Rakshana Bhawan.

Big time pay off’s in defence deals started with Bofors, which was forced into oblivion by the political leadership to suite some people without making anybody accountable for Rs. 64 crores the country lost, not a big money by to-day’s standard.

The latest in the murky world of defence purchases is the all-terrain-Tatra- truck, which according to Gen. Singh is substandard. He had alleged that an attempt was made to push through a tranche of 600 of these trucks by offering Rs. 14 crores as bribe and he had named a retired Lt. Gen.

Suddenly, Gen Singh who was a bad boy to Minister Of Defence AK Antony, was welcome. And there have been flurry of activities that led to many skeletons falling off the army cupboards. All related persons like London based NRI Ravi Rishi of Vector group who are the suppliers of these trucks, to BEML Chairman Natarajan are currently under CBI radar for intensive investigation. It certainly looks that Gen Singh would be leaving army headquarters in a blaze of glory by speaking the truth where it mattered, when all his peers in the army had kept quite.

Final arguments, after 28 years, in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case has commenced at a session court here at the behest of CBI. The counsel for CBI has reportedly told the court that “Delhi police had kept their eyes closed to the atrocities committed on Sikhs”. According to Counsel Cheema, despite there being over 150 complaints only 5 FIRs were registered. The case against Sajjan Kumar, a senior Congress leader was registered in 2005, that too on recommendations of Justice Nanavathi Commission, after 21 years. This is indeed a case of ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. Hope a last word is said on one of the darkest spots in the contemporary history of India.

That Reliance Industries Ltd., mostly owned by Ambani family, when father Ambani was alive, was calling the shots in the corridors of power, was never in doubt. But the case involving the seizer of Loksabha and central government documents from the drawers of general managers belonging to RIL way back in Oct 1998, was still not acted upon by the government for all these years is a matter of shame and concern. It is a well known fact that there were, and probably there still are, some government officials who are on the regular pay roll of RIL or for that matter all Ambani group of companies. But how can the government be so badly sold off, that it could not proceed against those caught with classified government documents, even after over 13 long years?

The recent order by a Delhi session court to ‘frame charges against RIL and their three lobbyist executives’ expressed its surprise that prosecution was silent on who supplied these documents to RIL executives. This shows the duplicity of the government.

Former Prime Minister late P.V. Narasimha Rao, had perfected the art of ambivalence by categorically stating on record that inaction too is a kind of action, or rather inaction itself is action. Thus, when Hashimpura massacre committed by the commandant of U.P. Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) Surinder Pal Singh on May 22, 1987, some 25 years ago, remained without any semblance of justice being done to the victims and their families, it was an action decidedly not to act. Both the state and central government agencies intervened only half heartedly on behalf of those 42 Muslim youths’ extra judicial killing by the PAC in Meerut’s Hashimpura area. It was only when media, Human Rights Organisations voiced their outrage, government set up a committee to investigate but nothing happened until 1995, when victims moved Allahabad High Court. In June 1995, 37 men of PAC were recommended for prosecution. Between 1995 and 2000, 23 times bailable warrants were issued and 17 times non-bailable warrants were issued. But none appeared in the court.

It was only in May 2007, when families of the victims filed applications under RTI, it was revealed that all accused are still in service and there was no mention of the crime in their Annual Confidential Report. Reportedly this is the oldest pending case in the sessions court in Tis Hazari Complex in Delhi.

Better late than never, the crusader par-excellence Subramanian Swamy has taken up the case and threatened Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to act, to book the perpetrators of this horrific targeted killing, or else he will approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) under the relevant article of the law governing ICJ. This is indeed a welcome development. Everybody, without exception, has to be legally tried for any crime against humanity and made accountable. Only then democracy shall have its appropriate meaning.

Fatwas, Fatwas and more Fatwas, its raining Fatwas. Darul Uloom Deoband (DUD) seems to have no other job than issuing decrees. There was this diktat “Talaq given in a state of drunkenness is valid”, validating a recent instance of triple talaq uttered in a drunken state by a Muslim man. It was as if one drunken man supporting another drunken man, or else how could one overturn what, supposedly viewed by Hazrat Usman, the third Caliph of Islam, that ‘talaq under the influence of liquor was not valid because of the incapacity of the drunken person to exercise reason’. According to A. Faizur Rehman, the Secretary General of the Islamic Forum for the Promotion of Moderate thought, ‘this fatwa by DUD is bad in law’.

And comes the latest “Muslim woman cannot run beauty parlours”. Some Muslim members of the fairer sex reportedly reacted rather sharply to this latest diktat. They reportedly feel that ‘it is not a debate of relevance in this day and age'. Reacting to the Fatwa, Seema Mohsin, the first lady member of the Karnatak Wakf Board has reportedly said “It is unfortunate that the Ulemas, who are supposed to be guardians of faith, are using their intellect on issuing such silly fatwas”

Here the question is doesn’t these fatwas cripple your freedom of thought and action? Aren’t these fatwas archaic relics of the past, just like burqua, which was recommended for an age and day when it was unsafe for any woman to walk in the street or in public place without covering her face. Probably women of all background were unsafe in open space some centuries ago, which is not the case in 21st century. This fact, these men of DUD, need to understand for the larger coherence in society.

WORLD: “Cuba Honours Pope’s wish” was a positive development as reported from Havana. Not because, Cuba granted holiday to Cubans on Good Friday, a Christian holy day, but because, Cuban leadership displayed its openness to a proposal. Whether it is right or not is for the people of Cuba to decide. President Raul Castro was responding to the request by Pope Benedict when he visited the island recently. It was in 1998, Cuban government of Fidel Castro had granted similar wish by Pope John Paul, when it declared Christmas as a national holiday and has kept it so ever since. Hope this time round too Good Friday shall continue as a national holiday for islanders. Such small but significant changes in a moribund political atmosphere do lead to peace and tranquility in the turmoil ridden world.

The announcement of bounty on terrorist chief Hafiz Saeed by the U.S. is a strange development. Who is Hafiz Saeed and what he is doing is well known to all who are in the business of intelligence gathering the world over. How is the world wiser with this announcement except our Minister of External Affairs who appeared slightly stirred by it. The CIA, the global intelligence arm of the U.S. is in the thick of its association with its old alley, the Pak. So they have dossier on just about all. Hence except that, it is a piece of news, nothing more need be seen, unless U.S. has plans to pursue this aberration called Hafiz Saeed. Isn’t he the one who had reportedly stated years ago that “He will not rest until India becomes part of Pakistan”. Of course, it is another matter that it will not happen.

U.S. always knew what this Saeed has been doing, but as was usual it looked the other way, if it suited its interest. With all the breast beating about the democratic fraternity between U.S and India, U.S. never, I mean never, took a position to favour India against Pakistan. It is only now that U.S wants to distance itself from Pak that these kinds of visible overtures are extended towards India. What value it will be of, has to be seen only if it does something like a La Osama Navy seal operation, which seems very unlikely for obvious reasons. So let not our External Affairs Minister SM Krishna delude himself with statements like “US decision reflected the strengthened counter terrorism co-operation.” No such thing is happening. At least so far it has not happened. Lets hope U.S. takes India more seriously with some action plan rather than mouthing inanities like this bounty announcement, which will not take us any farther.

Its indeed a funny world, when it comes to justice to weak people or weak states. World is privy to the fact that Palestinian people are wronged and there’s nobody, indeed nobody, who stand by them when the crunch comes. They just exist, more on the mercy of its difficult neighbour and occupant, Israel. The media reported early April that International Criminal Court (ICC) has rejected the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) complaint of war crimes against Israel, saying it is not an independent state. After 64 years it is still struggling to get recognised as a state in their own land. Of course, rightly or wrongly, in Nov. 1947 when the bifurcation of Palestine, was proposed by the UN, Jews accepted the proposal since they were only gaining with nothing to lose. But Arabs, the dominant stakeholders, refused to accept it, since they were the sole losers. Of course, in 1947 it appeared proper to refuse, although in perspective the opposite could have been the right move. But then, in the game of international chess, smaller states do end up suffering. Sadly for Palestine, the suffering has been continuous and unremitting.

The latest refusal of ICC to entertain the criminal complaint against Israel, who, truly speaking, usurped their land and enjoying the status of a nation state, is the most telling, in its humiliation. International community need to understand the cruelty of the situation to address the genuine grievance of a complaint where Israeli forces killed some 1200 civilian Palestinians using phosphorous bombs in Dec 2008. It is true that Amnesty International and Human Rights watch have made some right noises. But as usual they are only noises, which cannot have even decibel effect. But its the U.S., which is the true thorn in the flesh for Palestine, of course, courtesy the Jews business lobby in the U.S. May be Obama, if gets elected to the White House for the 2nd time, give a parting gift of Palestine nation hood. Hope it happens.

Of course Pakistan cannot take China’s demands for granted as it takes India. For all 65 years, Pakistan never took India seriously, although it lost all wars with India. But China, it is holding on to, as a possible saviour in the event U.S. ditches it. The news that ‘Pakistan asked to hand over Uighur terror suspect’ by China shall surely give sleepless nights to Pakistani officials. They are between devil and deep sea. If they help those Chinese (Uighur) terror suspects who are in Pak sanctuaries, but also trained in Pak, to be caught and given over to China, there will be retaliation by local Muslim terror groups, for them being Muslim is more important than being Pakistanis. So Pak authorities may have to handle it with extreme care.






FOCUS

An Open letter to Narendra Modi Shri Narendra Bhai



Jai Shree Krishna, Khemcho? Majaama!

Hope this finds you hale, hearty and in good spirits amidst all your multifarious socio-development activities and those issues of statecraft occupying the media space.

I am not sure if this is the first open letter that has come your way. Surely, it will not be the last, as in our Mera Bharath Mahaan nobody, I mean nobody, has been written about with such endearing verbose as well as hatred, like you have been. How much of these writings are right or wrong, is not very easy to conclude. Public opinion, like media hyperbole is never even-handed. They are mostly subjective since the vision is stymied by the prism with which we try to see things, and prism is never the same.

Most of India, outside Gujarat, did not know you or about you until you catapulted into the seat of Chief Minister of Gujarat. From then on, there was no choice for media viewers or readers of the print media, to know about you. You were there everywhere, sometime even forcefed.

Of course 2002 post Godhra carnage on 27th Feb. and the mayhem that followed, has perforce kept you at the top of the happening news, unfortunately, mostly for wrong reasons.

Now 2012 Feb 27, has come and gone. Ten years have passed since the torching of train at Godhra, where some 60 have perished, burnt alive, reduced to cinders. Stories that followed the torching suggested some mischief by some of the victims, like drinking tea from the tea stall on the Godhra platform, behaving badly and then not paying for it. If true, they were certainly in poor taste. But the reaction of the mob that set a whole compartment on fire, blocking all escape routes, was most barbaric, by any stretch of imagination. To think that all occupants of the bogie were burnt to death, as a price for some unpaid cups of tea, is a horrendous retribution beyond any human comprehension. Of course people died were Hindus coming from Ayodhya.

One unfortunate, misguided but heinous crime, led to much bigger reaction, equally unthinkable and barbaric, in its scale and vehemence. It was a reaction far in excess of the original action.

Yes, media didn’t have time to react on the first tragedy for its brutality and morbidity. Hence it remained to be understood in its fuller depth. Of course the reaction, the scale of its infliction, and the vividity of its cruelty has only confirmed the long held view, that the rational animal that supposedly man is, probably is the most irrationally beastly in his vindictiveness. Yes, what followed Godhra, and if what is available in the media is to be believed, it was, without doubt, equally most inhuman, as Godhra carnage was.

Looking back in perspective, after 10 years, the phrase ‘mighty trifles’ indeed continue to have its time tested relevance.

It was the assassination of the heir to the Harbsberg throne, Francis Ferdinand at Sarajevo in Bosnia, on 28th June 1914, that triggered the World War I, which lasted for almost 5 years. (1914-18) and involved 14 countries. Estimated combatant loss was close to over 8 million for all the 14 countries that took to war-rightly or wrongly. So, if one person’s killing, may be of some royal origin, could lead to 4 years 3 months’, war and cause the death of over 8 million people and leave double that figure injured, how could this be seen as rational?

Similarly, if the human pettiness, of misbehaving and non paying of few rupees as the cost of some cups of tea, could lead to the devastation of Godhra torching and then the Ahmedabad mayhem, that could cause the death of some 2000 people, isn’t this so terribly senseless! Yes, it does make one think, could there be reasons deeper than seen apparently?!

If Godhra was a prelude to the ugliest sectarian flare up – hardly provoked and barbaric, the reaction was equally barbaric and appeared to be a reflection of a deeper hatred. Karbela Swain, the 3-in-1 M.P (BJP. VHP & RSS) was on record having said “the recent violence in Gujarat was a necessary lesson to the minority community that Hindus, if slapped will retaliate”. Was he articulating a cornered psyche?!

Unfortunately, added to the existing communal divide was the official response to the bloodbath. Senior police officers, instead of giving instructions to police personnel to enforce law and order took the view that ‘lower cadre policemen too shared popular mob sentiment’ and allowed the mob a free hand. This situation is totally and completely inconceivable. Law abiding citizen was up against a wall.

Yes, Gujarat of post 27th Feb. 2002, for the most part, represented complete collapse of law and order, where Muslims of all hues were targeted by the rampaging crowd with the unstated but tacit backing of the state administration. Clearly you have exposed yourself Narendra Bhai, when you announced Rs: 1 lakh compensation per riot victim as compared to the Rs: 2 lakh compensation for the Godhra victim. It was a bias-hither to practiced by Arabs, against non-Arabs and non-Muslims, so also by whites against Non-whites and blacks. A practice clearly unknown in free India of 21st century. It was indeed a fall for India in the eyes of its own citizens.

On April 13, 1919 in the city of Amritsar’s Jalianwala Baug, over 10,000 men, women and children had gathered to listen to political speeches. To put down all kinds of nationalistic movements by Indians, Brig. Gen. Regineld Dyer, commander of the units in Amritsar had forbidden any public meetings and had announced that all mobs would be fired upon. That his men fired at point blank range, caused the death of unarmed 379 men, women and children besides over 1200 wounded, in just 10 minutes, was the lowest point in the British Rule of India. Of course, officially there were wide spread condemnation. Gen. Dyer was court martialled. He told the court of inquiry that “he wanted to create the maximum impact so that Indian would not dare repeat this law breaking”. Did this episode cross your mind, as you allegedly allowed the rampaging crowd to ‘vent out their anger’ as reportedly claimed by IPS Sanjiv Bhat.

Of course, the World War I has come and gone, so has World War II. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the culmination of global estrangement. But the world has moved on. The Americans, who bombarded Japan, became its biggest trading partner, friend and protector. Both have found new meaning to their co-operative co-existence.

Newer ways of socio-political life has emerged in the larger context of live and let live. Democratic way of life, based on adult franchise has come to stay for the larger good of the world at large. Yes, there are the regimes in the Middle East, China, Myanmar, Northern African countries, so also some of the eastern, central and western African nations, who live by coercion. In these countries, laws are meant to be enforced, not to be interpreted.

Everything is controlled under a central authority with no freedom or restricted freedom. The so-called civilized world, with its global bodies like United Nations Organisation, tries to give some meaning to the concept of co-operative living based on unfettered equal human rights to all, irrespective of colour, race, religion, or country, and do take up issues of Human Rights Violations all over the world. But, it is also well known that UNO does not have teeth, rather some of its more powerful members have blunted its teeth and therefore it cannot bite. These powerful members have their own agenda and hence at times made UNO meaningless. Among the members, who have caused problems to UNO are United States of America, Russia and China. All three hold veto powers. But the greatest culprit is the U.S.A. It has double standards most of the time, only to serve its own interest. And they are the biggest democracy in the world! Russia is still not as democratic as U.S and China is authoritarian. It is an oft repeated observation that “there is nothing as a permanent friend or a permanent enemy but only permanent interest”. Therefore all those who are powerful, they are only pursuing those agendas which helps them both politically and economically. In the bargain, it is the weak who pays and also suffers. Arm twisting is the done thing. All talk about fairness is for the gallery. But like it or not, life has to go on, whether for an individual or for a nation. Therefore self reliance, is the best solution, to be counted and respected, in the international fora. During its existence of 64 years-of post colonial era-India has proved, it is no push over. India always had its inherent strength of its people and its natural resources, but it was only post 1991 that its economic forces were unleashed. Suddenly India is a happening place and everybody is taking India seriously.

It is here that complete turnaround in American mentality-vis-à-vis-you Narendra Bhai, has to be seen.

For all 10 years, there have been revelations in the media about the Gujarat violence – post Godhra torching of train. It is true that what happened in Godhra is bad but what followed as a reaction in Ahmadabad was worst. It is allegedly compounded by official inaction, meaning, covert support by the state. There are whole lot of statements from different sources, general public, NGOs, media, politicians who accuse the state, of connivance in the Gujarat pogrom. Of course the state keeps denying these accusations. Truth probably is not what both sides say. Even the judicial intervention has not been very helpful in having a final word.

It is also true that 1984 Delhi riot is another blot on the image of India as a country of Mahatma Gandhi. Even here, somehow, things did not conclude to everybody’s satisfaction. 27 years have gone by. Justice has certainly eluded lot of people who have suffered. But the visible animosity is not there, except in some pockets. Life has gone on. Media somehow did not play it up excessively. Hence, time is slowly making its inroads into the human psyche. It is a positive development.

Similar thing will happen in Gujarat also, if it is not over-played by media and vested interest players. Of course ends of justice has to be met. But for heaven’s sake, we should not mortgage our to-days and to-morrows for the baggage of a distant past.

Yes, you do have a point. Despite the horrors, the government headed by you has been able to lay stress on development and there is a whole lot of approbation from all over, which includes a Modi portrait on the cover of TIME, the leading US weekly in English. For the record, for the alleged Human Rights Violations, Narendra Modi was not allowed entry into the U.S. by successive administrations. Under the circumstances, for the U.S weekly the TIME, to put you on cover is a complete turnaround. Of course Modi baiters in India were rather shocked at this development. But the dynamics of life has its own way of expressing itself. What happened in South Africa, after the release of Nelson Mandela and he was voted to power! He was a statesman enough to forget what his colonial masters have done to him and his people. Instead the constitution of Reconciliation Committee by Mandela was epochal in its intention and meaningfulness. That is the most positive aspect of a human being. He can forgive and probably even forget.

Narendra Bhai, there is no denying of the truth that a section of Gujarat’s citizens have greatly suffered. Whether it is, as alleged, due to the official action of allowing the lawlessness and mayhem to continue or whether there was enough that government has done to restore normalcy as claimed by you, the fact remains what they are. Therefore as head of the state you cannot run away from your responsibility. Yes, you have done well on the development front. Cutting across socio-political divide, it has been recognised that when it comes to development you are a ‘no-nonsense man’, besides being personally incorruptible without any hangers on. Your credentials as a visionary leader are impeccable. There should be no reason why you should not play a bigger role at national level.

However, it is well known, that you are not acceptable to a significant section of Indians, including a large section of people who have suffered in the 2002 violence. And of course, there is this ‘Secularists’ in media and civil society whose only agenda is to fix you. Court cases can go on. Those found guilty shall continue to be punished. But you as a leader can grow in public perception if you reach out where it is needed.

The recent SIT report which has exonerated you of any direct involvement is a development that can help things settle down, although there will be many who will not let that happen.

Way back in 2002 itself, when Shri Atal Behari Vajapayee was the Prime Minister and happened to have visited Gujarat-post Godhra/Ahmedabad mayhem. He had spoken about ‘Raj Dharma’. What it really means may not be very clear. But Raj Dharma or similar terms only means what we have already stated, that your concern, indeed very genuine at that, must necessarily cut across the myriad divide that India is so infamous for. That ‘every one, without any differences of any kind, should have the right of your attention’, should be the golden rule.

However, what is extremely important in this ethereal moment in the history of Gujarat is to remember those immortal words of Vajpayeejee in his poem “Kshamaa Yaachna”. Where he begs Mahatma’s forgiveness for being ‘guilty of breaking the oath, of defiling Rajghat’, and to JP beseeching that ‘please trust us, we shall reknit the broken dream from the amber of the pyre to light the very foundation of the darkness’.

Narendra Bahi, please trust me, should you go to the people of Gujarat, and ask for ‘Kshamaa Yaachana’ from all those who suffered by the action or the inaction of the state administration, rightly or wrongly, whether the state is directly responsible or not, that you as the head of the state take responsibility of their well being, so that Guajaraties of all hues, join in creating a state powerful enough to empower every single individual socially and economically, that there is no repetition of any public display of animosity among the multi ethnic society of Gujarat.

Believe me, if you do that, you will go down as the best that India can have in this contemporary troubled time. Think clearly, first as a human being, then as an Indian, you would have come to the bridge that would link India to its ultimate greatness among the comity of nations.

Yours ever Indian

Jayaram Shriyan



FEATURE

The stethoscope song!



“No God and no religion can survive ridicule. No political church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field, and live.”

Mark Twain

Every new technology has been a great money spinner in medicine and excited lots of doctors and patients alike. Look at the story this week in the British Medical Journal of the “Proton beam therapy might once have seemed like the magic bullet to zap cancer, the state of the art treatment we have all been waiting for. The technology is big and expensive—the world’s “most costly and complicated medical devices; looks and sounds as if a Star Trek scriptwriter might have dreamt it up. England’s health secretary, Andrew Lansley, clearly believes it represents the future of cancer services—his department announced earlier this month that it would spend £250m on two National Health Service centres for proton beam therapy. But where did he get his evidence? The treatment hasn’t been appraised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.” Recently an audit in the USA showed that this new instrument is in no way better than the conventional therapy. The study had 12000 patients.

You will be surprised to know that similar claptrap existed even in the times gone by. History repeats itself. Cicero, the Roman thinker was right when he said that if we do not learn from history we will be condemned to relive history. That is what is happening everywhere. “Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laennec (1781-1826) was a physician at the Salpetriere Hospital and later became the chief of Hospital Necker, which afforded him access to thousands of sick people. Laennec devised the first stethoscope in 1816, the leading tool of this new era of objective signs medicine in Paris until the discovery of the X-rays. The first stethoscope was detailed in a 900 page book by him Traite de l’auscultation mediate (1819)-Treatise of Mediate Auscultation. This was a single ear wooden instrument, 9 inches long and one and half inches in diameter in two pieces that could be screwed together with separate ear and chest pieces. He wrote “none of the symptoms reported by the patient suffices to characterize disease of the heart and so for a certain diagnosis we must recur to mediate auscultation.” One of the leading physicians impressed by this method was William Heberden. Laennec was an expert in interpreting pulmonary signs and could make accurate diagnosis using his stethoscope.”

Bedside medicine, including the use of the stethoscope requires a well trained physician in the first place. The importance of the quality of the material in between the ear pieces of the stethoscope was beautifully brought our in a tongue-in-cheek poem, The stethoscope Song, in 1848, by that great thinker, Oliver Wendell Holmes-an American physician, essayist and poet, who taught anatomy at the Harvard Medical School from 1847 to 1882. He later became a famous poet:

“There was a young man in a Boston town,

He bought him a stethoscope nice and new,

All mounted and finished and polished down,

With an ivory cap and a stopper too.

It happened a spider within did crawl.

And spun him a web of ample size,

Wherein there chanced one day to fall

A couple of very imprudent flies.

Now being from Paris but recently,

This fine young man would show his skill;

And so they gave him, his hand to try,

A hospital patient extremely ill. Then out his stethoscope he took,

And on it placed his curious ear;

Mon Dieu! Said he, with a knowing look,

Why here is a sound that’s mighty queer!

There is empyema beyond a doubt,

We’ll plunge a trocar in his side.

The diagnosis was made out,--

They tapped the patient; so he died.

Then six damsels, slight and frail,

Received this kind young doctor’s cares;

They all were getting slim and pale,

And short of breath on mounting stairs.

They all made rhymes with “sighs” and “skies,

And loathed their puddings and buttered rolls,

And dieted much to their friends’ surprise,”

On pickles and pencils and chalk and coals.

So fast their hearts did bound,

That frightened insects buzzed more;

So over all their chests he found

The rale sifflant and rale sonore.

He shook his head. There’s grave disease,--

I greatly fear you all must die;

A slight postmortem, and if you please,

Surviving friends would gratify.

The six young damsels wept aloud,

Which so prevailed on six young men

That each his honest love avowed,

Whereat they all got well again.

This poor young man was all aghast;

The price of stethoscopes came down;

And so he was reduced at la

To practice in a country town.

Now use your ears, all that you can,

But don’t forget to mind your eyes.

Or you may be cheated, like this young man.

By a couple of silly, abnormal flies.”

What does not change is, of course, a kind doctor’s bed side touch which provokes the immune system to heal any disease. Long live a humane doctor.

“We are the children of a technological age. We have found streamlined ways of doing much of our routine work. Printing is no longer the only way of reproducing books. Reading them, however, has not changed...”
Lawrence Clark Powell

(I have drawn heavily for this piece from my book what Doctors don’t get to study in Medical School? I thank the publishers)



SLICE OF HISTORY

TUKAARAM………….Who!
Travelling in a train from Hyderabad to Bangalore, got to know a young and very learned lady. While conversing on many issues, I happened to ask her “if she has heard the name of Tukaram Ombaley”. She was blank. “No I haven’t heard any such name”, she blurted. “Do you know Kasab, Ajmal Kasab?” was another question that I asked her. “Yes, he is some kind of a terrorist.” “Is he an Indian?” was my another take wanting to check her update. It was incredulous, she blurted “I think he is Indian”. She sounded just dumb. She had earlier told me that she is an MA from London. I asked a teacher in a government school back in Mangalore, the same question. “Have you heard of any body by name Tukaram Ombale?” Answer was a blank ‘No’. You heard of Ajmal Kasab? Was the question that followed. “Yes, he is that Pakistani terrorist”. She was certainly better informed. Yet she didn’t know who was this Tukaram Ombale.


In umpteen places, highly literate to semiliterate to illiterate, their response was same. They have not heard of Tukaram Ombale. Not that it was 100% but over 90% respondents certainly did not have a clue who is this Tukaram Ombale. Surprisingly this 90% included even media men.

We have heard of the idiom “Out of sight is out of mind”. While this is fairly true, also true is, out of media will render even a celebrity out of circulation and as usual media can make or break a person. But here the point is why and how we can forget an incident and therefore a person, merely because, it has been reported only a few times, even if the incident is an extremely rare happening, resulting in the supreme sacrifice of an unsung lowly placed individual in the social & administrative hierarchy.

Of course when it happened, lot of press coverage was given, he was remembered in some public places and public functions. Then it was life as usual. Most forgot him, if not all. The memory of the valour of this small, unlettered hero faded into the world of national amnesia, except those who have been reading or hearing Marathi news bulletin, since this unsung soul belonged to Maharashtra as the name suggests.

For the information of those souls, who do not know or do not remember having heard the name of this Tukaram Ombale, he is the one who’s unparalleled valour and the supreme sacrifice led to the capture of the only Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab, who was caught alive. India would have had no case if this Ajmal Kasab was killed in action like other terrorists. Again for those who do not know the details of this unsung hero’s valour should know that this Tukaram Ombale was an Assistant Sub-Inspector, who was not authorised to have a revolver and thus had only a baton, as opposed to the AK 47 of terrorist Kasab. Having responded to the security alert and during the beat, coming face to face with the AK 47 wielding Kasab, what chance Tukaram Ombale had of surviving an AK 47 assault. In the event, without losing a moment, fully cognizant of the certain death in the hands of the terrorist, with the only intention of catching the terrorist alive, Tukaram embraced tightly this terrorist Kasab. Of course, despite Kasab emptying the bullets from his AK 47, into his bare abdomen, Tukaram held on until other policemen with him managed to over-power Kasab to be captured alive. Minutes later Tukaram dropped dead after giving the country a SOUVENIR, unparalleled in the annals of modern Indian history.

He is a hero, who should be made a part of the Indian folklore. He should be included in the history and social studies books of school children. Our younger generation need to know of this brave soul and feel inspired and humbled. To remember him and to remind the nation that there existed one like ASI Tukaram Ombale, and to make him part of, not just the oral history but to make the life story of this exemplary Indian, into the pages of history books of our motherland, not merely for the information of posterity but for it to live in the heart of every young child, as an inspirational beacon of light.

Assistant Sub Inspector Tukaram Ombale is probably the finest thing that has happened to contemporary India. Born poor, placed poorly by the system, that passes for governance, but when occasion came by, ASI Tukaram Ombale rose like a meteor, unmatched in 61 years before him, not likely to be matched by any of his senior most colleagues. In the line of duty there is nothing that can even remotely match his supreme sacrifice, not by accident but by embracing it with full knowledge.

What do you call him? if not,
CONTEMPORARY INDIA 'S GREATEST HERO.

J.Shriyan

YEH MERA INDIA

Toilets given to schools that do not need them
Bangalore: “Our school has three toilets. But the Education Department is giving us money to build three more, which we don’t want,” said Putte Gowda, a member of the School Development and Monitoring Committee from K.R. Nagar, pointing the mismatch between school’s needs and the facilities thrust upon the school by the authorities. He was one of the several SDMC members who spoke to an event organized here by Civic and Karnataka Child Rights Observatory to review the SDMC functioning. Political interference in the functioning of SDMCs figured in the discussion.


Revenue & police competing for top corruption honours
Mumbai: You may think it’s the Police and the Municipal Corporation officials that are most corrupt.


But if statistics complied by the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) are to be believed, it’s the Revenue department that saw the most cases of corruption in 2011, while the Police department followed a close second. A total of 105 cases of corruption were registered by the ACB concerning officials, from the Revenue department, and 129 persons were trapped and arrested.

In the same period, 103 cases were registered by the ACB from the Police department, where 126 cops were arrested. “Several important offices like that of the Collector part of the Revenue department. Whether you want to make a change in your land record or get your caste certificate it’s the Revenue department that you have to deal with.” “Right from the Talathi to the Tehsildar to the Collector, it’s the Revenue department that deals with the people and so there is more scope of demanding bribes,” said a former bureaucrat. Municipal Corporations and Councils follow with 32 trap cases and 51 arrests. The ACB registered a total of 479 trap cases in 2011 and arrested 631 officials, including class IV officials and private persons.

Interestingly, low profile department like Ground Water Surveys, Film, Stage and Cultural Development Annabhau Sathe Backward Class Development Board and the Department of Prisons also saw corruption cases.

Apart from the trap cases and arrests, the ACB registered 24 cases of Disproportionate Assets (DPA) and 82 cases of criminal misconduct. However in spite of registering cases, several cases are pending with the government and various authorities for sanction to prosecute those accused. According to statistics available with the ACB, over 200 such graft cases are waiting for prosecution sanction and most of these involve politicians and top bureaucrats.

The oldest case awaiting prosecution dates back to 2001. 22 proposals for open inquiry involving Class I and II officers are pending with the government in Mumbai alone, while the statewide figure stands at 45. Apart from these cases, 154 proposals are pending for sanction orders from ‘competent authorities’.

The figure for proposals awaiting sanction orders from the government involving class I and II officers stands at 85.

TMC diktat: No teaching jobs for CPM activists
Kolkata: Taking their crackdown on CPM sympathisers a step further, student wing of the Trinamool Congress, the Chhatra Parishad (TMCCP), said professors in colleges across West Bengal should desert the Left parties to continue teaching.


Addressing a rally in support of Arabul Islam, the Trinamool legislator accused of assaulting a lady teacher of Bhangar College, TMCCP state president Shankudeb Panda said: “If you want to teach in colleges you will have to leave the CPM. Under the pretext of teaching in colleges you will work for political organisations. We won’t allow this,” Panda said.

Alleging the colleges in the state are breeding grounds for CPM cadre, Panda said TMC is committed to “depoliticise” education in Bengal. “If you want to do politics, go and do it, no need to teach,” he said.

Reacting to the diktat, state education minister Bratya Basu said: “I have no information on this. I will have to find out”. Basu however clarified that it is not the party’s policy.

Despite Basu’s befuddled reaction, it was apparent that both Panda and Islam had the party’s support. “Many professors are working for CPM in the name of teaching. Time has come to think about it,” said Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee.


Besides, the TMC has sought academic audit of professors in colleges across West Bengal, starting from Jadhavpur University, a known CPM bastion.

Demanding that the audit should be initiated in seven days, the Chhatra Parishad urged the education minister to focus on scrutinising Phd dissertations.

CPM member Md Selim, taking a potshot at Banerjee who claimed to have a Phd from East Georgia University (it was later found that no such university exists) said: “Their top leader started her political career with a fake doctorate degree, and many of the leaders followed suit. It is natural they would suspect foul play behind every Phd degree.”

There are 14 state universities and about 420 government and government – aided colleges in West Bengal.

Why we cannot produce employable students....
Mysore: A mere 4.49 per cent of candidates passed the Karnataka State Entrance Test (K-SET) conducted by the University of Mysore in October last.


Of the 40,093 who appeared for the test, only 1,838 cleared it to get eligibility for lectureship. No one cleared the test in mathematical science.

Vice-Chancellor V.G. Talawar told presspersons that 53,181 candidates had applied for the test and 40,903 wrote it. A total of 13,343 candidates passed in Paper I and II. Among these, 1,838 candidates, including 1,194 male candidates (64.96 per cent) and 644 women candidates (35.04 per cent), passed in Paper III.

The results have been uploaded on the website-http:/kset.uni-mysore.ac.in

The question paper pattern for all three papers was per the UGC-NET pattern.

The test was held to determine the eligibility for lectureship in universities, colleges and institutions of higher education in Karnataka.

The university is the nodal agency of the State government for conducting the test.

The test was conducted in 26 subjects at 11 centres across the State.

Of 1,038 candidates who wrote the test in mathematical science, no one cleared it. The result was poor in physical science, life science, chemical science, commerce, economics, computer science and library science.

The number of candidates who passed in physical science and chemical science was two and four respectively. In Kannada, 448 candidates of the 5,949 passed the test and 171 of 3,991 candidates in history got the eligibility.

Expressing concern over poor results in subjects which have scope for employment, he said: “Evaluators told us that the performance of candidates was poor in subjects such as physical science and life science. The syllabus for the test was from pre-university to postgraduation level.”

Panel: Prof. Talawar said the committee appointed by UGC to supervise the K-SET, had expressed appreciation over the manner in which it was conducted, and the result was better compared to the average result of UGC-NET. “The pass percentage of UGC-NET hovers around 3 to 3.5 per cent,” he said.

Admitting a delay in the K-SET results, Prof. Talawar said: “It took time to get subject experts (professors) for evaluating the answer scripts because we had to select experts in Kannada as the test was also conducted in Kannada medium. We did not take experts who had prepared the K-SET question paper, for evaluation”.

He said each paper was evaluated by two experts. The services of over 400 experts, including those from other State, was sought to evaluate the scripts.

Prof. Talawar said a decision had been taken to conduct K-SET once a year.

C. Srikantappa, coordinator, UGC-SET Centre, University of Mysore said 2.5 percent candidates had passed in K-SET conducted by Kuvempu University in 2005.
Teachers were not employable.



MONTH THAT WAS

Death for bribe
A 60-year-old former political adviser in a Chinese province was sentenced to death for taking around $2 million in bribes and sanctioning projects in return. This was the second death sentence for taking bribes in the country announced in a week.


Song Chenguang, former senior political advisor of eastern Jiangxi province, was sentenced to death with two years of probation by a people’s court in Tai’an city of Shandong province, Xinhua reported.

Song, the former vice chairman of the Jiangxi Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), was convicted of taking over 12 million Yuan (around $ 2 million) in bribes from 1998 to 2010.

In exchange, he favoured 18 companies and individuals in getting projects, gaining sales permission and getting promotions, the court said.

Given the amount of money he accepted as bribe, Song must receive severe punishment, the court said. But the two-year probation was granted because he confessed to his crimes.

Song was expelled from the Communist Party of China and removed from the office in July last year.

SC appoints bureaucrat to monitor PDS
inated a secretary-level officer in the Centre to monitor the effective implementation of government’s food programme for the poor as a report suggested that computerization of the entire Public Distribution System to stop pilferage and corruption has not made “substantial” progress, reports PTI. The apex court appointed Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, to coordinate with states and union territories for distribution of foodgrains under the targeted PDS which is a massive operation undertaken by the government to provide food to poor in the country. A bench comprising justices Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak misra said the report of the justice D P Wadhwa committee, which has been examining the working of PDS, has categorically said “no substantial work” on digitalisation and computerisation of PDS has taken place and bogus ration cards are being made.
 
Bannu Central Jail in Peshawar stormed

Islamabad: Close to 400 prisoners – including some “very dangerous” insurgents – managed to escape a prison in the north-western province of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa after heavily-armed Pakistani Taliban terrorists stormed the premises in a pre-dawn attack.


According to the police, “militants,” armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades, attacked the Bannu Central Jail in the early hours.

They broke through the main gate and engaged prison guards in a two-hour-long gun battle that reportedly ended when the latter ran out of ammunition.

Though it was not clear whether the terrorists had come to release anyone specific, the prisoners made good the opportunity and fled the premises after the locks of their cells were broken.

One of the prisoners who escaped was apparently Adnan Rashid, would-be assassin of the former President, Pervez Musharraf.

Unanswered questions
Daring as the attack was, it has also left a number of unanswered questions. The police claim that the prison guards and security personnel manning the outer limits of the jail were grossly out-numbered has raised the question as to how so many terrorists had managed to group near the premises without being noticed. This was particularly since security was tight in Bannu as it borders North Waziristan.

Focusing on the damage done to the prison premises by the attackers, television channels were questioning the absence of blood in view of the claim that the two sides were engaged in a gun battle for nearly two hours.

The primary question was whether the attackers had inside help; both within the jail and outside in view of the ease with which they seem to have staged the attack.

Cop held for youth’s murder
Mumbai: Five men, including a constable, Prakash Sawade, attached to the MRA Marg police station, were arrested by the Cuffe Parade police for their role in the murder of a 25-year-old man. Two others are not traceable, the police said.


The deceased, Aamir Shaikh, worked as part-time photographer and guide at the Gateway of India and lived in Gita Nagar colony in Cuffe Parade. The police said that he was murdered by his neighbours, the Sawades, with whom his family had a long-standing dispute. The police are facing accusations from the victim’s family for ignoring a complaint they filed against the accused hours before Shaikh was murdered.

The incident took place early when Aamir was accosted by seven members of the Sawade family near a bathroom. He was stabbed several times and his uncle was also attacked. The murder was preceded by a violent fight between the two parties the night before.

Aamir got into an argument with the accused which ended in a brawl. Assistant commissioner of police, Iqbal Shaikh (Colaba division) said that Aamir along with three others from his family assaulted one person from the Sawade family. “He had to get stitches on his head. We registered a case of assault against the deceased but could not arrest him since he had fled the scene. The murder would not have taken place had he turned himself in at that point,” said Shaikh.

“We felt that Sawade would come back to attack us, which is why we decided to spend the night in my brother’s house. However, at about 3 am, we were told that they had broken into our house,” said Bashir Shaikh. Bashir said they went home to discover their house had been ransacked and looted.

“When we went to file a complaint with the police, they threatened to put us in the lock-up and refused to file an FIR,” he said. Iqbal Shaikh denied the charges, saying the police were trying to resolve the matter all night and had shown complete impartiality. “These two families have had problems with each other for many years. The fight broke out that night over a small issue and ended in this. We have arrested two people and are looking for two others,” he said.

Former Karnataka speaker asked to return land
Bangalore: The National Committee for Protection of Natural Resources (NCPNR) has urged the former Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly K.R. Ramesh Kumar to return 61 acres of land allegedly encroached upon by him in the Jangalagunte forest area in Rayalpadu hobli of Srinivasapura taluk.


Founder president of NCPNR S.R. Hiremath told presspersons here that the Conservator of Forests, Bangalore Circle, in his March 31, 2012 order, had directed Mr. Kumar to evacuate the land encroached upon by him. “We urge Mr. Kumar to hand over the land and set a precedent for others to follow”, Mr Hiremath said.

The land is part of the nearly 2,400 acres of gomala (community grazing land) land in the border village of Rayalpadu that was notified as forest land in 1937.

In 2007, U.V. Singh, the then Conservator of Forests, inspected the land following complaints, and an order was passed asking Mr. Kumar to vacate it in a month.

According to records, a forest offence case was registered against Mr. Kumar for encroaching upon an area of 61 acres in 2006.

The Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) of the then Chintamani sub-division had issued eviction order against Mr. Kumar on March 13, 2007. Mr. Kumar appealed to the Conservator of Forests, Bangalore Circle on April 11, 2007 against the orders of the ACF.

The Task Force for Protection of Government Land headed by the former Additional Chief Secretary to the government V. Balasubrahamanian inspected the encroached forest area and conducted primary enquiry. The Conservator of Forests, Bangalore Circle issued orders after conducting elaborate proceedings as per the provisions of the Karnataka Forests Act.

The Deputy Conservator of Forests, Kolar Division, issued a fresh notice on September 29, 2010 and Mr. Kumar filed a writ petition questioning the notice of the DCF. The High Court ordered a fresh joint survey and the DCF Kolar passed orders on June 24, 2011 summarily evicting the appellant from 64.24 acres of land.

Mr. Ramesh Kumar filed an appeal with the Conservator of Forests, Bangalore Circle on July 23, 2011 against the DCF’s orders.

Disposing of the appeal, the Conservator of Forests, Bangalore Circle, in the order dated March 31, 2012, ordered Mr. Kumar to evict the encroached land.

‘Stalled many times’

V. Balasubrahamanian told presspersons that Mr Kumar had stalled the proceedings several times.

The joint survey was stalled twice though he himself had requested it.






ABRACADABRA

16 million Chinese women married to gay men
Beijing: Sixteen million women in China are married to homosexual men, an expert claimed. Due to traditional family values in China, about 90 percent of homosexual men get married to women, said Zhang Bei-chuan, an HIV/AIDS expert at Qingdao University. “Their wives are struggling to cope and their plight should be recognized,” ‘China Daily’ quoted Zhang as saying. Twenty-nine-year-old Xiao Yao, a magazine editor in Xi’an, Shaanxi province divorced her gay husband in 2008. “Most gay men’s wives I’ve known are silently suffering at the hands of husbands who could never love them, and like me, some even got abused by husbands who were also under great pressure,” Xiao said. She now runs a website called “Homeland of gays’ wives”, which has 1,200 registered users and provides support and advice.

Pills for teens: Britain
Pilot programmes are being launched across Britain where teenaged girls – as young as 13 – are being given contraceptive pills by pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription or parental permission, report agencies from London.Health authorities have held pilot schemes which cut out doctors when providing the pill. They argue it s a good way to reduce teenage pregnancy.

In the Isle of Wight, 10 community pharmacies are providing the pill to any girl aged 13 or over, as part of a plan to cut the region’s high teenage pregnancy rate. Those under 16, however, must have an appointment with a specially trained nurse, who will ask if the girl has discussed the matter with her parents.

The health experts have recommended that such schemes should be rolled out across the country, and have got support from the government, the Telegraph reported.

The department of health said pharmacies should be able to supply contraceptive pills to girl under 16 if proper safeguards were in place.

Similar schemes have been launched in Manchester and Croydon.

'Teens-Do anything, but not babies': 21st Century United Kingdom.

Brilliant US desi student triggers a Harvard probe
Washington: A complaint from an Indian-American student who was near the top of his high school but was rejected by both Harvard and Princeton universities has triggered an investigation by the US Education Department, media reports.

The unnamed Indian American student in California complained that the two universities discriminate against Asian-American to undergraduate admissions, according to a ‘Bloomberg’ report.

According to the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights the complaint was received on August 22 and the allegations “accepted for investigation” on January 11.

The complaint alleges “discrimination against Asian-American on the basis of race/national origin with respect to the university’s admission process.”

A Harvard spokesman was cited as saying the institution does not discriminate. Asian-Americans make up 16 percent of Harvard undergraduates.

But ‘Bloomberg’ said there’s plenty of research to suggest that Asian-American applicants must bring higher test scores and GPAs than whites, Hispanics or Blacks to gain entry.

There are 14.7 million Americans of Asian descent only, plus 2.6 million who are multiracial including Asian, according to the 2010 US census.

Traffic cop & bird watching!
 Evangelina Paredes, Chicago, is suing police officer Chris Collins, Stickney (Illinois), alleging he violated her privacy by searching motor vehicle records for her address and then leaving her a handwritten note on her car windshield asking for a date.

Earlier, Collins had issued a $ 132 ticket to her for speeding. He said in the note that the least he could do was to buy her dinner for costing her so much money. It said: “It’s Chris…that ugly bald Stickney cop who gave you that ticket. I know this may seem crazy and you’re probably right, but truth is I have not stopped thinking about you since. I don’t expect a girl as attractive as you to… even go for a guy like me, but I’m taking a shot anyways.”


Over 100 paedophiles chemically castrated

Around 100 paedophiles have been chemically castrated under a British government programme.

According to the Daily Mail, the sex offenders volunteered to take the drugs designed to lower their libido in a pilot experiment at the prison in Whatton, Nottinghamshire.

A single course of the leuprorelin drug reduces testosterone levels to that of a pre-pubescent boy.

Chemical castration involves a man taking hormones which suppress the production of testosterone, leading to a decreased sex drive. Poland introduced mandatory chemical castration for sex offenders in 2009 and Russia recently introduced similar legislation.

It was introduced in South Korea in September last year. Germany and the Czech Republic, however, reportedly use voluntary surgical castration to treat sex offenders.





 

THE LAST PAGE

Any hope for Indo-Pak good relations?
Now that Pakistan President Asaf Ali Zardari and his team of officials have come and gone, there is widespread speculation as to whether Indo-Pak relations will take a new turn. Questions are being asked: Can zardari really make policy for Pakistan? Is he free to do so, even if he wants to? What would be the role of the Pakistan Army leadership in any future talks between Zardari and India’s Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who has said in so many plain words that for any durable peace between India and Pakistan, the latter must clean out its own stables. Dr Singh’s expected reciprocal visit to Pakistan is almost conditional. Islam must remove the shadow of Hafiz Saeed from falling on any future talks and that, he surely must be knowing, is not likely to happen, considering that Saeed is the Pakistan Army’s front man, who it can hardly afford to betray, notwithstanding the $ 10 million bounty that the U.S. has laid on Saeed’s life. That would mean that the U.S may some day do an Osama bin Laden on Saeed, no matter what the cost would be. But that would be a self-appointed task for Washington. Zardari himself makes noises about Kashmir being the ‘core’ problem when he should know that it is not acceptable to India. So, then, do we go back to square one? We are told that P.M-Zardari talks were "constructive", that there are chances of Dr Singh visiting Pakistan in November, of a breakthrough over Sir Creek, scaling down of troops presence in Siachen, and of likely re-opening of more traditional trade routes. Should we say: Hurray! To expect any major success in high level talks between the two countries would be unrealistic. As a former Pakistani diplomat Karamatullah K. Ghori noted, following the Zardari visit the legacy of mistrust between the two countries demands that "the healing process ought to be slow, deliberate and well-calibrated" and "there is little room in it for quick fixes and spectacular feats". Another diplomat, India’s Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai has also made a similar point, saying that both Dr Singh and Mr Zardari feel "that they need to move forward step-by step". According to Ambassador Ghori "the sentiment to normalise relations with India and put them on a healthy process has been gaining momentum in Pakistan" – surely, a healthy development. In India, the Supreme Court has granted bail to an 80 year old Pakistani scientist convicted of murder in 1992 and sentenced to a life term of imprisonment and has been released on Zardari’s plea. At the same time, Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Delhi, Sahid Malik is reported to have said that his country and India are working towards "a liberalized visa regime for businessmen that may see the two countries issuing one-year, multi-entry and non-reporting visas to businessmen of either country. That is sensible. The Kashmir issue can wait. Trade and Development cannot. Presently official trade between India and Pakistan is around $ 2.7 billion – most of it exports from India to Pakistan, and it is a pittance, considering India’s total merchandise trade is worth a walloping $ 700 billion. Much of the trade between the two countries is illegal and is routed through Dubai and consists of items such as medicines and pharmaceuticals, clothes tyres, cigarettes and dry fruits. A recent CII report puts potential India-Pakistan trade at $ 25 billion, ten times its current values. With the status of a Most Favoured Nation it should be possible for trade between India and Pakistan to multiply not tenfold but a hundred fold, to mutual benefit. And the more the trade, the less the support to terrorism. And even less respect for the Armed Forces which do not figure very much in the news today. As in Myanmar, so it will be in Pakistan in due course, the Army’s irrelevance which presently is in its weakest position in decades. And this trend will follow as night follows the day. What is interesting to note is that even China, for whatever reason, is voicing its “happiness” over the alleged improvement of relations between India and Pakistan “through dialogue and cooperation”. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told the media in Beijing that “both India and Pakistan are major countries in South Asia playing an important role for peace and stability in the region”. Seven decades is a long time for Indo-Pakistan relations to wallow in the mud. It has benefited neither. The Pakistan Army’s ISI has done all that it can to destabilise India with “a thousand cuts”. India has not only survived, but it is marching forward to become the third largest economic power in the world, next only to the U.S and China. What has Pakistan gained? A bloodied nose, that’s what. And internal dissension and growing terrorism that is hard to contain. And Zardari is only too well aware of it. And Indians visiting Pakistan are reporting changes within Pakistani society that are revelatory. According to Kuldip Nayar who is a regular visitor to Pakistan, when he went there this year he writes: “I have never seen before the surge of friendship (towards India) which exists today in Pakistan”. He quotes “many leading people” (un-named, though) as saying: “We have wasted last 65 years in animosity. Let us not waste any more time”. According to him “trade with India is awaited with abated breath”. Is all this so much hype? When he was having lunch with zardari, Dr Singh is supposed to have asked the former to pray for better ties with India. Indeed, that is supposedly what Zardari did at Ajmer Sharif. Reports from Pakistan indicate that Zardari’s visit to India has found “Large-scale” appreciation in the country, with many maintaining that the visit was more than just a private pilgrimage. Note was taken of the fact that just prior to his departure to India Zardari received Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. So, are things moving for the better? God alone knows. One might as well keep one’s fingers crossed. Dr Singh is supposed to have told Prime Minister Gilani last month that he would visit Pakistan if there was “something to celebrate”. Between April and November, it is going to be a long, long wait. And everything can happen.