Monday, June 11, 2012

KUDOS! MAGNIFICENT SHOW


The above 33 children of 10th std, Government Composite High School, Angaragundi, Bykampadi, Near Mangalore, cleared the milestone without anybody failing. This was the first time that SSLC students have secured 100% pass result. I&C, in its reach-out initiative, had played a small but crucial role in this achievement. I&C Congratulates every student for this magnificent performance, so also the Head Master and teaching staff of the school for their whole hearted involvement.

(Seated are school teachers and Head Master Mr T.G.Gowda with J.Shriyan of I&C)


EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends


Summer continued its inhospitable run. Rain god, who had smiled early last month is playing hide and seek. Meteorological observatories have predicted normal monsoon. Hope Varuna (the rain god in the Hindu pantheon) shall not disappoint us.

In our reach out initiatives, we had radically departed to be more involved in a local school. A school, where students are from the labour class parents with no support at home to pursue studies. The school never had the joy of 100% pass in its SSLC or 10th std, state level public examination. We took up the cause of getting all 33 children in the class to clear the final exams. For two months of Feb & March, all toiled, including teachers and children, Saturdays and Sundays. The result has been extremely heart warming. Students en masse had hit the bulls eye. They pulled off a near impossible 100%. Yes for the first time, Govt. Composite High School, Angaragundi scored a TON. For us at I & C it was a mission fulfilled, a vision it wants to continue in coming years. Hope the students are inspired to keep the 100% result going for good. They have understood their potential.
Month-in-Perspective has tried to relook at some of the events of the past month, within the space available.
1st May being MAY DAY, the focus on labour had to be there. International Labour Day came and gone. But the lot of labour class the world over, especially in India, had brought issues involving working class into sharp focus. Hence we have taken it up for the seriousness of the issue. Hope our readers will find it interesting. Kindly revert with your inputs.



Month-In-Perspective

KARNATAKA: A Bijapur date lined news informed about a government school being used for commercial coaching. Karnataka govt. had continued the mid-day meal for school children in the districts affected by drought. While it was a good gesture form the state govt. the touts wanting to make a fast buck used the occasion to use the premises for coaching, since students would anyway come for food. Of course it was a brilliant idea in time management, but the commercial aspect was rather exploitative. They should have taken the local administration on board and could probably have taken some token payment of say Rs: 100/- a child instead of the Rs: 200 to 400 as reported.

Surely it would have been a happy experience to all. But we have always exploited a situation to benefit only a few, with the school headmaster in the loop for an illegal payment. The crassness of the venture included coaching even LKG and UKG children. Of course all concerned have reportedly promised action. But then how could anybody be so bold to do it so brazenly?

That C.M. Ibrahim, the politician from Karnataka was the villain, who played dirty with Tatas with respect to their Bangalore International Airport proposal was a well known fact since years ago. But he succumbed to the pressure from Jet Airways for a joint venture proposal by Tatas with Singapore airlines is a lesser known truth. M.K. Kaw who has exposed this has done a signal service to the country. It is unlikely that Ibrahim, as Aviation Minister has played the ball for Jet Air without a huge price. Since Tatas didn’t give any bribe for the Airport proposal, it could be that he wanted to fix Tata’s and enrich himself in the process. Yes people like C M Ibrahim are in the politics only for making illegal money and there are many like him in the parliament. Wasn’t Arvind Kejriwal damn right , how can we respect such a parliament, where members tolerate and co-habit with such nasties?


TAMIL NADU: Indians, harken! Mr. Purno Agitok Sangma, the former speaker of Loksabha wants to be the Numero Uno of Federal Republic of India. He wants to be the next occupant of the Viceregal palace, the Rashtrapathi Bhavan. You know why, because he is a tribal, and “its time” according to him “that a tribal becomes the President of India.” Surely nothing wrong in this desire. He has all the qualities, according to Amma from South, the iron lady of Tamil Nadu, Ms. Jayalalitha. And she has endorsed his candidature and got in touch with many political parties to drum up support for him. Mr Sangma has even told TV journalists that he will contest the election, ‘come what may’.

While there is nothing apparently, to deny him the position of the 1st citizen of the country, what is bothering is why is he so ambitious, having done already pretty well for himself and his family?

Most Indians, who are in the know of things, are aware that his daughter Agatha Sangma, is a minister in UPA II, his one son is the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, and another son is a senior cabinet minister in the state, while he himself was the former 1st parliamentarian. How many family in India can boast of such array of heavyweights. And come to think of it, they are all tribal, since they are children of a tribal!

It is all very well to have a tribal as the president, but why Mr P.A. Sangma? Mr. Sangma could propose some other tribal name. Why is he so ambitious that only he wants to be the next president? Is there no limit for one's desire? Are we having only one tribal family? I think its time somebody musters enough courage at the national level to show him his place. Enough is enough. You better propose some other tribal’s name, who you think is as competent and educated as you are. That will at least show a bit of selflessness, or else it is very evident ‘you are being very self centred Mr Sangma'.

Of course, if I have a choice, I would rather go for Mr Hamid Ansari, who is by all accounts a very deserving candidate and is already next in command. For him, to be president of India is a natural elevation. Hope our ‘going in circles’ politicians shall stop somewhere and plump for him.


UTTAR PRADESH: Whatever be the success rate of RTI act, by any stretch of imagination, this is the best piece of legislation that has come from the parliament. For the last couple of years, there have been steady increase in the graceless fall of many men and women from power centres within the corridors of all three estates of the democratic governance. Whether it is from legislatures, the politicians including ministers, or from Executive, the babus and their hangers-on or from judiciary, the judicial & legal luminaries, there have been persons of eminence falling from grace, accused of personal aggrandisement at the cost of nation, courtesy RTI activism.

The latest to be exposed is Maayawathi. The report, datelined Lucknow, informs “For renovation of Maayawathi’s residence Rs: 86 crores”. The details obtained under RTI, informs that this renovation has been a ‘five year plan’ started in 2007 when she became the Chief Minister, on her own, and finished when she had to leave the office in 2012, after the assembly election debacle. It was one year ago that an opposition politician had sought these details, however, it was stonewalled by Maayawathi govt. But now that her opponents have taken up the reins of power, the information was easily made available. Courtesy, of course, partisan politics. According to a senior official, who mustered enough courage to admit that, at least Rs 100 crores were spent on the house. Of course, it was not a case of personal aggrandizement, but a comprehensive misuse of power, all the same. It’s a shame that one could so brazenly spend scarce resources to bolster the ego. It is an irony and quirk of fate that the mansion she so elaborately done up with 2 exclusive 20 ft high statues of herself and that of her political mentor Kanshi Ram, will not be used by her, now that she lost the power and has shifted to Delhi as Rajya Sabha member.


MAHARASHTRA: The print media news, datelined Thane, informs, “Keep off Muslim Personal Law, Islamic Scholars tell govts”. The news or what it tries to convey is not something new in the context of a secular India. A convention on Muslim Personal Law held at Bhiwandi, outside Mumbai had, referring to Supreme Court observation seeking to insist registration of “nikaah”, reportedly stated that “it is an interference and hence this cannot be tolerated”. The report also informed that a scholar, Allama Qamruzzaman Khan Azmi, was commenting on the proposed bill by the Maharashtra government seeking parity for women in the distribution of husband’s property. According to this Azmi ‘the move had hurt the sentiments of Muslims’.

Problem with these organisations and their leaders is the insistence of their point of view. The remark in the earlier paara that ‘this interference cannot be tolerated’ is blatantly assertive and gives the impression of a closed mind. Similarly the later statement ‘the move had hurt the sentiments of Muslims’ appears to be unconcerned about the hurt of Muslim women, but apparently concerned only about the hurt of Muslim men. Equity demands that there should be a penal provision to protect the interests of women in situations where such interests are left to the whims and fancy of only men.

In a democratic polity, mouthing secular socio/political platitudes, debate is the sine quo non of co-operative co-existance. We are a country wedded, at least constitutionally, to the welfare of all, where equity is the basis of all welfare programmes. In such scenarious, abrasive assertions viciate the tranquil social atmosphere. Something, some of these clerics and their leaders, need to understand.

The news that the govt. in Mumbai is on track, to set-up 22 new check-posts, with modern technology application, to keep tab on every vehicle entering the state, is a very important development with ramifications of myriad kind. The reported and planned objective of this very good development, however, is rather limited. According to report, it will help in checking tax evasion and corruption in tax and excise duty collection, since these check posts shall be jointly operated by transport, sales tax and excise duty departments. A separate company, Maharashtra Border Check Posts Network Ltd. has been reportedly set up. This makes sense for better accountability. All check posts will have video camera, number plate reader, automatic vehicle counter, classifiers and lane controllers. There will be a Central Control Room monitoring round the clock, the working of all 22 check posts.

This is certainly a state-of the-art arrangement for maximum efficiency and productivity. However, what the report did not inform, or the authorities did not think and therefore did not report, is the crucial input and support these 22 check posts can provide to the managers of internal security apparatus of the country.

This benefit alone can outstrip the entire financial benefit of revenue mopping for the state. What can we call this? Complete lack of imagination!

If it is Vithal Malekudiya in Karnataka, it is Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) members, six of them, in Maharashtra, who have been arrested by the Anti Terrorism Squad for ostensibly aiding Naxals or spreading Naxal ideology. Quite frankly these are desperate measures by the authority. Can anybody who is truly responsible in the state hierarchy tell, how these arrests are going to help solve the Naxal problem or reduce the Naxal menace? If any, it is only going to act negatively towards the resolution of the burning problem. There have been lot of negative publicity to the government crackdown. In Karnataka, lot of thinkers, writers and activists have been agitating for Vithal’s release. Even University of Mangalore were not playing very fair with the examination of Vithal, who has to appear for his P.G. examination in Journalism. Just the other day Prakash Karath of CPI(M) had called on Vithal in Mangalore Sub-Jail, and had promised agitation for the release of the young man, who’s promising career is at stake. In Poona, reportedly eminent citizens have come out openly in support of arrested members of KKM.

Governments all over India are having a muddled approach in handling naxal issues, with problems like state & federalism dimension, the problem has only eluded lasting solution. Of course even Naxals, who seem to have their head stuck in the sand are making things increasingly difficult for themselves and their civil society supporters. There appears to be some leadership crisis among Naxals. However, it is eminently possible for the govts-both central and state-to come up with an imaginative plan of action to combat and to overcome this menace.

BCCI and IPL, both rolling in money shall always provide for juicy stories for the press. We all know that both do not want to come under RTI for obvious reasons. There is big money and hence can lead to bigger scandals, therefore RTI is out. IPL has suddenly exposed the money potential of the participants and of course the earning capacity. Every thing may not be hunky-dory, that is why Kirti Azad, a former cricketer and M.P., has gone public against IPL. Close on heels, the cricket bosses decide to distribute Rs:70 crores to some 170 former cricketers. But since Azad had gone ballistic his name was deleted from the list of beneficiaries.

BCCI/IPL and all former cricketers can be believed to be sportsmen. But nobody, even a single soul, among all the 170 former cricketers, did not think, even for a second, that a fellow cricketer, a sportsman was denied his claim of his share in this booty of Rs:70 crores. That’s the sportsmanship of our Indian cricketers. And did they say they are playing for the country! No Sir, they are just playing for the money therein, period.


WEST BENGAL: Justice Katju is in the news, for all kinds of reasons, because he has the capacity to rake up issues relevant or not for his position as PCI chairman. “Don’t Give Bharat Ratna to Sachin” was one of them. Speaking at a function organized by Kalidas – Ghalib Foundation in Kolkatta he also praised to the sky, the mercurial boss at Writers Building, Mamata Bannerjee. Justice Katju had reportedly heaped praises on the West Bengal Chief Minister, describing her as a ‘person of outstanding quality’ and many other commendable attributes.

Of course we have no quarrel with his statement, India is a free country and can air one’s views freely. But it appears he revels in making sweeping statements. However we should give him marks for his Bharat Ratna statement. There are enough grounds why the cricketer need not be given this national honour. And we have Mamata, who just walked out of an interview recording with CNN-IBN, since the anchor asked questions which she was not comfortable to answer, although they were very relevant. But this is how this ‘very honest and fearless political leader’ reacts. She unfortunately is suffering from a huge sense of self importance, or do we call it ego!

NEW DELHI: Election to the Rashtrapathi Bhawan is already heating up the atmosphere in the capital, with all political parties having visions of self importance of having an ace up their sleeve, although the president is only a de facto head of the state. Like governors in the states, a president too can play politics. Thus what drove all political parties to propose their possible candidate was also with political considerations. One of the earliest to make their choice clear was BJP. Its floor header Sushma Swaraj had, while proposing APJ Abdul Kalam for presidentship exposed her bias by rejecting Vice President Ansari for the No: 1 position. She had reportedly stated, rather shockingly, that Vice President Ansari did not have the stature to be the president. That was indeed in a poor taste. Was she saying those who are in the Vice President’s seat are not the natural claimants for the position of President? If one is good to be a Vice President, he is good to be a President as well. Look at Dr S. Radhakrishnan, or Dr Zakir Hussain, or K.R. Narayanan, they were all very illustrious VPs who later became Presidents. So is Hamid Ansari, a scholar and diplomat. She exposed her sense of prejudice or the possible but unconfirmed role of APJ Kalam in denying the PM’s position to Sonia Gandhi, could have influenced BJP decision to plump for the Mulayam Singh’s proposal of Kalam for a second term?!

MPs are at it again. “We have lost our honour” screamed a cross section of MPs over the purported remark of Yoga man Ramdev. Ramdev had reportedly remarked, that there are “dacoits, murderers and illiterates” among MPs. The remark apparently has incensed lot of Members of Parliament. If one is given a choice to take sides, I would rather go with yoga guru, rather than Members of Parliament. Firstly he has not insulted parliament and he has stated some of the members of the august house are dacoits, murderers and illiterates, which is true. So where is the issue? The issue is quite simply the ego of these members. We talk about freedom of speech but condemn it when we do not like it. It is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that there are “dacoits, murderers and illiterates” in the Parliament. Of course to take the arguments further, we have to perforce make a list of persons who have cases against them on above charges and are sitting in the hallowed precincts of Samsad Bhavan. Arvind Kejriwal has done his home work better than yoga guru. He has released a list to the press, the other day. Since then MPs are quite. Not hankering for Kejriwal’s blood. But media hyperbole, whether it is TIMES NOW, HEADLINES TO-DAY or others, all had a field day interviewing a cross section of so-called opinion makers, for their TRP.

To say that Baba Ramdev, the Yoga businessman, is apolitical, is to make a big mistake. He is every inch a politician. His intentions may be good for the country, but he certainly desires a grand image of himself. If possible he wants to play the role of a ‘King maker’. His advantage is, he has a huge personal wealth, believed to be all accounted, since, the central govt of the day couldn’t, so far, fix him of any financial wrong doing. Even communists have failed to make a case of labour exploitation against him. He had fairly an acceptable image of himself, until the ‘Dharna fiasco’, in Janthar Manthar, where he tried to escape police in female ‘Salwar Khamis’. After staying quite for a while, he is again up and about and shared the dais with some Muslim leaders playing pure politics of ‘quota-khota’. The print media report ‘Ramdev to fight for quota benefits to Dalits among minorities’ said it all. He reportedly announced that ‘he would launch a struggle to support their demand for amending article 341that excludes Muslim and Christian dalits from the ambit of reservation’.

Baba Ramdev need to understand the genesis of reservation so also how, why and when Dalits became Muslims or Christians. In every argument for and against reservation, truth has always been the victim. It was the opportunistic convenience that threw up different ‘truths’ at different points of time, never the “truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth”.

So, the dirty tricks department of central govt. is on overdrive. Reportedly Income Tax deptt. has issued notice to the Trusts belonging to Baba Ramdev for the tax dues of Rs. 58 crores on the income of about Rs. 120 crores during 2009-10. It is well known that Baba Ramdev has three trusts, Patanjali Yoga Peeth, Divya Yoga Mandir and Bharath Swaabhiman Trust. These trusts were enjoying tax excemptions since the beginning. But ever since the Yoga guru has been seen to be a thorn in the flesh of UPA govt in Delhi, the government wanted to have a re-look at these tax exempted activities of the trust. Reportedly the I-T deptt., after ‘investigation’ into the activities of these trusts have classified them as ‘commercial’ and have withdrawn the tax exemptions given earlier and hence slapped a demand notice for tax recovery. Govt has also reportedly ordered Special Audit to find out all financial and banking transactions of these trusts. Clearly it is vindictive driven move and hence may not ‘win friends and influence people’.

For the last, a decade or so, from 2003 and even upto 2009-10, India presented a picture of robust growth. But suddenly it started dragging. Its the same India and same people. Despite European crisis of 2009/11, India didn’t do badly. But it’s the yellow metal, which is truly the villain. The increasingly massive imports of gold has certainly having a telling effect on the overall economy. Suddenly the money saved is not available for circulation, either on bank deposit or any of those investments which lead to growth. But into a dead investment.

In the early 2000s it was just $ 5 billion. In 2011/12 (only 10 months period of April/Jan) the gold import was an alarmingly high $ 50 billion. This is pure and simple definancialisation of savings, which did not flow into productive channels instead it went into unproductive investment in gold. It is an economist's nightmare to visualise the frittering away of such a huge domestic house hold saving.

It is a fact that in Indian economy, household savings contribute the bulk of financial savings. Hence such decline, if it persists will erode the basic strength of the economy. Therefore to funnel the house hold savings into productive channels of different kind, instead into gold buying, there has to be policy shift, to decidedly discourage gold imports, without any delay or else we can get into serious trouble. Finance Minister has to take the call to stem the worsening growth indices, but strangely he does the very reverse of it. He withdraws the duty proposed on gold in the budget. This is how we always worked, act in haste and repent in leisure.

60 years are old enough to be matured, but some people, including Members of Parliament simply do not grow. Parliament has just completed 60 years. ‘Will MPs also grow up?’ asked a Mumbai based news paper. But did they just prove that they will not grow up?

Just on the eve of the 60th anniversary of our elective democracy both houses of parliament created needless ruckus on an innocuous Shankar’s cartoon of some 60 years ago. There was absolutely nothing to portray Ambedkar in poor light. Both Nehru and Ambedkar were trying to coax the snail (which represented Indian constitution) to move faster. But the humour was completely lost on the thick headed leaders of ever floundering Dalit movement.

If these ‘thekedars’ as one paper called them, meaning agent or contractor, of Dalits were bad in reacting so churlishly on the reproduction of this cartoon, merely to embellish the text book on political science by the writers of NCERT, the HRD minister Kapil Sibal was another joker. He wasted no time in ordering the removal of the ‘controversial’ cartoon. In a sense that was the end of democratic dialogue, all because of, as a paper called it, 'ill informed and ill motivated bedlam in parliament'. That was a sad day for the parliament in the cusp of its 60th birthday.

There was this letter in the pres saying “No one is buying Pranab’s excuses”. The writer, one G. Pal accuses the Union Finance Minister that “all that he has to do is to threaten to disclose the names of those black money a/c holders abroad, if they do not deposit their money with I.T deptt”. And not mouth platitudes like resorting to austerity measures.

With, what Mr Pal is saying ispossible or not, it is very well known that Mr Pranab Mukherjee is a person who knows too much, especially about all wheeling-dealing in high places.

He has been variously described as the “best PM India didn’t have or the PM in waiting”, or as Ram Jetmalani saying “Pranab Mukherjee is Prime Minister material”. Whether these adjectives are meant to cause disquiet to Manmohan Singh or not is not known. But the fact is Pranab Mukherjee is a very intelligent person and generally good with people with power and money hence it is believed that he is in the know of lot of crucial information which can upset many apple carts. Hope one day, these informations become useful to the nation. In the interest of the nation, he should come clean.

The Supreme court order did not come a day too early, to phase out Haj subsidy for Muslims to travel to Mecca and Madina. While Hindu organisations opposed it, as was logically expected, it was also opposed by a section of the Muslim community itself.

It was in 1973, ostensibly to mitigate the travel blues of Muslim devotees travelling to Mecca and Madina, the then government of Indira Gandhi decided to partly fund their travel by air after recovering the sea fare. On the face of it, the measure was indeed very noble. But India being a constitutionally secular country, the measure did smack of favouritism, or appeasement as some critics called it. Constitutionally the govt. had absolutely no business to do what it did, of subsidizing travels to holy places, whether Muslims, Hindus or anybody else. Besides, these subsidies, especially Haj pilgrimage, cost the national exchequer enormous amount of money, which country can ill afford. Last year the government spent around Rs: 700 crores, which is certainly not a small sum. Hence for multiple reasons, this practice of funding Haj and other religious activities has to be phased out completely. These practices are unfair, capricious, expensive and eminently against the national ethos of secularism or Sarva Dharma Samabhava.

Yes, Air-India is in the news for all wrong reasons. For far too long this national air carrier has been in the thick of controversies. There were allegations of all kinds with ministers and CEO’s of the airline working against the interest of the airline. There are reports of pilots being unmanageable with all kinds of negative tactics, like, absenteeism, indiscipline by consuming alcohol on duty, working to rule and cause disruption of flights and keep on demanding perks and salaries like Oliver Twist, comparable to international carriers. Stories of quietly surrendering profit making sectors to competitors for personal gain, and thereby causing financial loss to the airline, accusing ministers and senior executives like CMD, ED, G.Ms etc. has been there in public domain.

Thus, the report of problems of all kinds with AI, is not new, but an ongoing 'theatre of the absurd'. For years on, it has been a difficult child of the government with losses mounting every year. Frankly, as one paper puts it, ‘we fail to understand why Air India – the badly bleeding airline – is still in business’. Yes, either they should shut it down or sell it to some private buyers, Indian or foreign. Only then these tantrum infected pilots shall be tamed and take other corrective measures to put the airline back on health.

WORLD: There was this Washington datelined news about an US military course titled ‘Islam is Enemy’ being suspended. The news was rather reflective of the nastier side of the US psyche in the first place. To have a course with such name is the height of intolerance. Islam is a religion practiced by millions the world over. In numbers, Islam is probably the 2nd largest faith. One may have reasons of dislike, disagreement or even hatred for some of the practitioners of the faith. But to say that ‘Islam is Enemy’ is abhorrence in the extreme. Given the choice, why shouldn’t an average human, who practices Islam, hate United States, only because of this particular course?

It is good that sooner than later, somebody down the line decided to stop this optional course in the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk Virginia. “It was an elective course, but what motivated that elective for being part of the curriculum”, was the question that Gen. Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, was reported to have asked. It is a good question and needs to be deeply pondered by the U.S military establishment. After all the entire world has a common destiny and each one of us has the responsibility of protecting this place we call the earth.

Its time for the change in the world’s most powerful address. Later this year, the presidential election to the White House is due. While the current incumbent Barack Hussain Obama, the first coloured president of the United States of America is seeking re-election as Democratic Party candidate, Republicans are yet to decide on their nominee.

It is true that Obama’s innings at the helm of American affairs has not been very satisfying to Americans in general. It is also true that his term in office had problems of all kinds mainly inherited from his Republican predecessor George W Bush (Jr). His ratings had its share of ups and downs. But, he is the most honest and transparent man the White House had in recent times. He means well to his people and to the world at large and therefore deserves to be re-elected. Surely Americans are intelligent enough to appreciate this fact and shall return him for the 2nd term. Hope it happens.

Could it be the end of the road for nuclear power, at least in Japan?! Answer looks, “Chances are it could be”, according to Prof. Andrew Dewit, of Rikyo University in Tokyo.

Sometime early May, authorities in Japan shutdown its last working nuclear power reactor, just over a year after tsunami scared the nation with its apocalyptic devastation. Both psychological and physical scar of its people, forced Japan to go offline nuclear plant.

It will be for the first time since 1970, that the country will go to bed without nuclear power. Summer is on, and if the country survives without any major power shortages, possibilities are, these nuclear plants shall remain closed for good. Besides should authorities manage the peak demand in these summer months then public opposition to nuclear power will become more vocal and pronounced.

Of course, it is difficult to have the last word, because it is the relativity that decides a course or a course correction.
 
J.Shriyan

FOCUS

CHICAGO IDEA & UNORGANISED INDIAN LABOUR

On 1st May, some 129 years ago in 1884, over 250,000 people had gathered in Chicago to force an issue of justice and fair play. Restive milling crowd had all the foreboding of militancy. But they had a cause, an idea whose time had come.

American Federation of Labour (AFL) adopted a resolution and demanded from the governments of the day in the U.S. and leaders of trade and industry, that labour in the U.S. will not accept anymore, to work, 10 hrs, 12 hrs or 14 hrs a day of work, as day’s work. AFL demanded that from now on, it shall be 8 hrs work per day to be counted as a day’s work.

Having dilly-dallied for two years, AFL had indicated to the employers and the authorities, enough is enough. Realising the possibility of violence and having accepted as a just demand, the International Working People's Association, the government and the employers organisation accepted the idea of 8 hours as normal working hours per day. On this day history was made in the annals of working class movement, the world over.

For the first time the role of Labour was recognised and accepted as an equally important partner in any economic activity. Thus this Chicago Idea enhanced the respectability of an average workmen everywhere.

To remember this historic moment, 1st May was recorded as International Labour Day which on later years came to be known as May Day, for the posterity to trace its footprints to the CHICAGO IDEA.

The victory of labour in the U.S. did not remain there only, soon it spread to wider world. Now, as we all know, 8 hrs work day is a standard all over the world. However this reform did not confine to only 8 hours a day. In the exploitative world of employers, it was 365 days of work. Liberals among employers accepted the concept of weekly offs. So 52 Sundays became non-working paid days. 6 days a week came to stay.

Suddenly strength of collective bargaining became apparent, so too the power of labour unions and improvements in the life of workmen became the happening events of 20th century. Annual paid leave, sick leave, casual leave and other medical and retirement benefits became part of the working condition packages.

All these led to a section of workmen called organised labour. This section bargained for better and better working condition of less work and more pay. Many times it led to impressions of ‘Exploitation on Reverse Gear’. Labour unions, due to the kind of clout they can command in trade, service and industry, many time they forced the hands of employers.

Look at the Air India pilots agitation for example. Despite government sacking many pilots, they are going soft on taking them back. This has led to complete collapse of discipline. Of course the whole gamut of employer and employee relationship has myriad dimension. There is no single solution for the equally myriad problems of ‘Men and Masters’ combine. India unlike any country in the world presents a chaotic picture of the problem.

In recent times organised labour acquired its political affiliations and hence is very capable and competent to look after its own interest. And come to think of it, this organised sector is only 4% of our entire population. Which means 96% of the population has all the unorganised working class.

The term ‘unorganised labour’ denotes those workers who had not been able to organise themselves in pursuit of their common interest due to constraints like impermanent or short term nature of employment, small and scattered size of establishments, ignorance and even illiteracy.

According to National Sample Survey, of recent years, some 370 million people are working in the unorganised sector. That’s a very huge section of the working class. NSS categories them broadly under occupation, service category, nature of employment and specially distressed category. These four categories have around 30 employments or engagements. From farm hands, fishermen, those engaged in animal husbandry, beedi rolling, construction workers, weavers in rural areas, workers in quarries and kilns, and small industries, migrant workers, contract and casual labourers, scavengers, head load carriers, loaders, unloaders, domestic workers, barbers, barbers to vegetable vendors and fruit vendors etc. are all part of the unorganised working class.

While small and marginal farmers, fishermen, weavers, head load carriers, loaders, barbers, vegetable and fruit vendors etc are, truly speaking, self employed people and hence are not exposed, per se, to the exploitation by employers, although the price they get for their produce and services can be beyond their control and therefore may be rendered helpless to accept what market decides. Of course, markets can have the influential factors which can, in the absence of an organised selling, force less price, which in a way is exploitation of the helplessness of this unorganised sector. But again, there is an element of freedom available to these persons to influence the course of happening, to their advantage even marginally. However it is the lack of organised approach which is the true bane of this sector also.

Then there are those who are truly helpless and completely at the mercy of exploitative employers and masters.

Farm labour, beedi rollers, labelers, packers, construction workers, workers in kilns, quarries, small scale industry workers, bonded labourers, migrant workers, contract and casual workers, scavengers, domestic workers, etc. are those who are exploited to the extreme.

Long working hours, lack of weekly offs, lack of medical assistance, lack of leave and other benefits, low wages, all contribute to the demoralisation of this unorganised sector. Their entire life is controlled by somebody else and that makes their life very vulnerable.

While both the above sectors have scope for governmental and systemic assistance, the later is generally in dire need.

There are some legal covers available to these workers in unorganised sector:

a) Payment of Wages Act of 1936.

b) Employees State Insurance Scheme of 1948.

c) Plantation Labour Act of 1951.

d) Maternity Benefit Act of 1961.

e) Payment of Gratuity Act of 1972.

f) Personal injuries (Compensation Insurance) Act 1963.

Although these acts are part of the statutes, it is rarely invoked by any employee or workmen for the reasons of cumbersome procedure in the legal pursuance of one’s right and the inordinate delays caused by judicial procedures. Thus the exploitation continued without any hindrance.

Over the years, successive governments made right noises to address the problems faced by this faceless multitude, but not much has happened to get this unorganised sector under some kind of long term social security net.

Whether it is the farm hands in agro activities, or the unskilled & semiskilled construction workers, or workers in hazardous small scale industries, child labour in difficult work conditions, some of whom can even end up as bonded labourers only due to poverty and hunger.

As we all know, bonded labour is when a person is forced, literally, to mortgage his life and often his posterity, in return for that small loan of a few hundred rupees. Yes, there has been a law since over 35 years, abolishing bonded labour but things leave much to be desired, on the ground.

Looking back over the past 64 years, of free India, how are we in 2012, is a question we need to ponder.

Just the other day, in fact on 2nd May, a day after the MAY DAY, 52 minors were rescued from factories in Byculla, a Mumbai suburb. According to a resident of one Patra Chawl, a dormitory type living rooms, there are about 25 to 30 units employing on an average six children in terrible working conditions. They were made to work for long hours, and confined to the rooms only, for both work, so also to eat and sleep. These children were from UP and Bihar with a Nepalese youngster added. According to the police who arrested some 20 employers, ‘we had raided Patra Chawl quite a few times in the past, but poverty brings them back’ observed DC-Police.

Mannual scavenging is banned sine 1970 in Karnataka, but it is only in statute books. On 7th May a print media report informed ‘Manual scavenging still continues in Tumkur’. Normally these jobs are carried out, reportedly by Dalits who are safai karmacharies of municipalities, to earn some extra money, especially in Tumkur, which still do have housing areas which are not connected to the underground sewer system. A government that is concerned with the welfare of its people, cannot even arrange to upgrade drainage system which is eminently possible. Deaths due to asphyxiation is quite common. Not only these deaths go uncompensated, no remedial work is attended to. This is Yeh Mera India and we are dreaming of becoming Super Power.

Despite there being Minimum Wages Act of 1948, and Inter State Migrant Workmen Act of 1979, in to-day’s Bengalooru, construction workers are reportedly paid, by a company Rs. 50/- per week when it promised Rs: 157/- per day. The company in question, press informs, is B.L. Kashyap & Sons Ltd., building houses for Army Welfare Housing Association. This company, informs the report, having been found guilty of anti labour practices were levied a huge penalty for falsification of documents. There is a court case filed against this company. Despite this they are still in business. This is another dimension of Yeh Mera India.

Yes, there are any number of problems of these unorganised labour. All governments whether central or states, are doing all that they are doing, for the welfare of this exploited section, half heartedly. With corruption being rampant in every walk of life, helpless suffering sections of our Mera Bharath Mahan continue to suffer without much of a fight. That is indeed very sad.

It is very easy to blame somebody else for the unremitting suffering of this exploited section of our society. But the fact of the matter is the apathy of the system, apathy of the civil society and of course, the resignation of the suffering masses to their fatalism, all adds for company’s like Kashyap & Sons to exploit the system to their brazen selfish business practices.

Thus May Day comes and goes into the history, as just another day. We need to spare our thoughts and actions for those victims of time and circumstances for the larger good of the society around us. We owe it the society we live, in some form or the other. Can we call ourselves civilized, if we cannot protect our weak and vulnerable?

J.Shriyan

SERIAL : 45

GANG LEADER FOR A DAY
The Stay-Together Gang
I attended several of these high-level BK gatherings. Although I didn’t conduct any formal interviews, in just a few months I was able to learn a good bit about the gang leaders and their business by just hanging around. Over time they seemed to forget that I was even there, or maybe they just didn’t care. They rarely spoke openly about drugs, other than to note the death of a supplier or a change in the price of powder cocaine. Most of their talk concerned the burdens of management: how to keep the shorties in line, how to best bribe tenant leaders and police officers, which local businesses were willing to launder their cash.


I did harbor a low-grade fear that I would someday be asked to represent the BKs in a press release or a media interview. But that fear wasn’t enough to prevent me from attending as many parties and poker games as J.T. invited me to. I would joke on occasion with J.T.’s superiors that I really had no skills or services to offer them. They never formally appointed me as their director of communications – or even made such an explicit offer, so I just assumed that no such role really existed.

As a member of the younger set of leaders who had only recently been promoted to these ranks. J.T. was generally a quiet presence. He didn’t speak much with me either. But my presence seemed to provide him with some value. It signaled to the others that J.T. had leadership capacities and unique resources: namely, that he was using his link with a student from a prestigious university to help remake the gang’s image in the wider world. To that end, the gang leaders continued to approach me to discuss the gang’s history and its “community-building” efforts. I took most of this with a grain of salt, as I’d come to consider such claims not only blatantly self-serving but greatly exaggerated.

Watching J.T. operate in this rarefied club, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride in him. By now I had spent about six years hanging out with J.T., and at some level I was pleased that he was winning recognition for his achievements. Such thoughts were usually accompanied by an equally powerful disquietude at the fact that I took so much pleasure in the rise of a drug-dealing gangster.

Now that he’d graduated into the gang’s leadership, J.T. became even more worried about the basic insecurities of gang life – the constant threat of arrest and imprisonment, injury and death. This anxiety had begun to grow in the weeks after Price was wounded in the drive-by shooting. J.T. began asking me to review his life year by year so that I wouldn’t be missing any details for his biography. By this point my dissertation had little to do with J.T., and I believe he knew that, even though I’d been hesitant to say so outright. Still, the arrests were making him nervous, and he wanted to be sure that I was faithfully recording the events of his life. He also became obsessed with saving money for his mother and his children in case something happened to him. He even began selling off some of his cars and expensive jewelry.

At the same time, he started to make more money because of his promotion. Not only were there additional BK sales crews whose earnings J.T. could tax, but, as if in an investment bank or law-firm partnership, he also began receiving a share of the overall BK revenues produced by drug sales, extortion, and taxation. By now he was probably earning at least two hundred thousand dollars a year in cash.

His promotion also carried additional risk. At the suburban meetings I attended, the leaders spoke anxiously about which gang leaders had been named in federal indictments and who was most likely to cooperate with the authorities. I also heard about a young gang member who’d been severely beaten because his bosses thought he had turned snitch.

Amid the beer drinking, gambling, and carousing at these parties, there was a strong undercurrent of paranoia. For me it was a bizarre experience, since the leaders began voicing their fears to me privately, as if I were a confessor of some sort, knowledgeable about their trade but powerless to harm them. Cold Man, a forty-five-year-old teacher who ran the BKs’ operation on the city’s West Side, asked me to step outside for a cigarette so we could talk. He tended to take the long view. “We need to be careful in these times of war,” he told me, alluding to the arrests and their potential to create turncoats within the gang. “Don’t trust nobody, especially your friends. I love these niggers, they’re my family, but now is not the time to go soft.”

Pootchie, a smart thirty-year-old leader who’d recently been promoted along with J.T., one night asked me to sit with him in his car to talk. “I’m not going to do this forever,” he said, “I’m here to make my money and get the fuck out.”

“What will you do next?” I asked.

“I’m a dancer-tap, jazz, all of it. I’d like to get my own place and teach.”

I couldn’t help laughing. Pootchie looked sheepish. “Sorry!” I said. “I don’t mean to laugh, but it’s just surprising.”

“Yeah, my father used to dance, and my mother was a singer. I dropped out of school – stupidest thing I ever did – but I got a business sense about me. I probably saved a few hundred grand. And I ain’t getting arrested. No way. I got bigger things I’m into. Not like some of these jailhouse niggers. I ain’t one of them. I’m an operator.”

I learned that Pootchie’s distinction between “jailhouse niggers” and “operators” was an essential one. These were the two kinds of leaders within the Black Kings. The first was devoted to building solidarity and staying together during difficult times, like the present threat of widespread arrests. These leaders were known as “jailhouse niggers,” since they had learned from prison that you didn’t survive unless you formed alliances and loyalties. These men tended to be the older leaders, in their late thirties or forties, and they tended to speak more of the BK “family” as opposed to the BK “business”. The “operators,” meanwhile, were a more entrepreneurial breed, like Pootchie and J.T. They were usually younger – J.T., was about thirty by now – and saw the gang primarily as a commercial enterprise. J.T. wanted to be a respected “community man,” to be sure, but that was more of a practical gambit than an ideological one.

Riding back to the South Side one night with J.T. from a suburban poker game, I sat quietly in the dark. J.T. was in a sombre mood. As we pulled up to my apartment building, he admitted that the federal indictments were driving everyone a bit mad. “No one trusts nobody,” he said. They’ll shoot you for looking funny.” J.T. shook his head. “I never realized how easy life was when it was just the projects. If they think I’m talking with the cops, I’ll be killed right away. Sometimes I think I should get my money and get out.”

As he said this, I immediately thought. I’d better get my data and get out! But I didn’t. I kept going back to the BK meetings. With the gang’s most senior officers talking to me, I figured I’d better be careful about how I choose to exit the group. As paranoid as everyone was these days, now was not the time for sudden movements.

FEATURE

INDIA STORY - WHERE IS IT?

Dr.K.Shanker Shetty

 


“While all other sciences have advanced, that of government is at a standstill little better understood, little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago”.

 


John Adamns


A cursory glance over political, economic, social, military and technological upheaval in India reveals the unmistakable impression that as a modern state it has no longer anything but rights yet it does not recognize duties of all stakeholders. Indian rulers of the day refuse to change and it is often said that a state without some means of change has neither a present nor a future. Since 1947, Indian governments led the country on the path of ideologically camouflaged policy till it’s economy was ruined. But for the timely action through reforms in 1990s, India would have perennially existed as a ruined state with devastating impact upon the common people. The reform process enabled Indian nation emerge as a strong nation in terms of political, economic and social achievements. However, that golden phase started dissipating. Though greatest asset of any nation is the spirit of its people, it has been misled and mismanaged by the government, lacking leadership, governance and policies. A nation’s greatness resides not in her material resources, but in her will, faith, intelligence and moral force led by able, dynamic and effective leadership. It is needless to say that what makes India great is not primarily its great men, but the stature of its leadership.


Recent events in India stand as testimony that present governing dispensation is devoid of such stature and versatility plunging the nation into economic darkness. India grew at a rate between 8 to 9% in 2008 - 09 as against 3.5% during pre - reform era. Reforms enhanced scope for flow of FDI; savings rose to 35% of GDP, investment by 38% ably assisted by global market environment. India secured its rightful place at the international head - tables. It came out unscathed the economic tempest in S. E. Asia in 1990s and global economic recession in 2008 - 2009.


However, what has happened after 2009 is a matter of grave concern. 'India shining' has receded into the dustbin of economic history of India; `India story’ does not evince any interest in global arena. India as future global power, remains a suspense. Questions are being asked as to why India is on a reverse gear? Why India has descent with depression on its growth story? Why its dreams are shattered? It hardly need extra efforts to find reasons. Apart from lack of reforms, fiscal and current a/c deficits; retrospective tax laws, limitations to monetary policy regime, lack of vision and confusing investment policies have contributed to the downfall of Indian - economy, precipitating reverse flow of capital and investments from our shores, including investment by Indian corporate.


Ofcourse, it is very clear that political system has failed to function; democratic principles have been bartered away by the selfish political class, leadership failed miserably to lead. It is obvious that even as democratic policy paralysis is rampant; disappointing status of governance is frustrating; wide communication gap between the people and the leaders like Prime Minister is pervasive; federalism is under strain, even the opposition proved to be mediocre at times with unprincipled approach by many political parties; there is irrational power hungry approach among UPA, NDA, regional and other political parties pushing the country to a point of disastrous failure. Obviously, whereas, there is a competitive greed for power within the opposition, the ruling congress led UPA has contradictions from within which has stymied the growth story of India, almost into a nullity.


During the last several years, millions go hungry even while millions of tons of foodgrain rots in rain. Credibility gap between government and the governance is widening with a hopelessly ageing leadership. On the otherhand, more wealth, better jobs with high salary, bigger cars and political muscle power by a few taunts the lower strata of the society. Though government announces ceaselessly its intention to tackle corruption, everyday new skeleton of corruption is falling down to the ground with a thud. Black money coffers estimated to be Rs.24 lakh crores still is well - protected in the lockers abroad. Finance minister's brave attempt to introduce a “white paper” on black money on the last day of parliament session is justifiably termed as “a black paper on black money”. Corruption is rampant in every walks of life involving ministers, politicians and bureaucrats without any preventive or remedial actions. A survey reveals that 66% of the population is frustrated, angry and crying for relief. Price rise is pinching their pockets; inflation makes their lives miserable; food security is eluding the needy; Lok Pal bill remains a mirage; reforms are a part of history; poor - rich gap is increasing. Four member family of Mukesh Ambani stays in a 48,780 sq ft building; just 7 K. M away in Dharavi where 2 - 3 families live in a room of 10’ x 10’ dimension; progress under power and energy, infrastructure like roads, railways and ports are far behind the projected targets; lack of planning, execution, lack of vision are the rules of the day. Due to restrictions under the pretext of environmental issues, new industrial projects are prevented and all these and many woes are attributed to the compulsion of coalition politics!


In reality cycle of politics within the precincts of democratic edifice, India suffers potential ignonimity. After 8 years of UPA rule, governance suffers from Policy paralysis said Mr. Kaushik, PM’s economic advisor. How true he is ! Obviously, there is lack of direction over - ruled by political exigencies. Otherwise, how can one explain the regimental approach on foreign investment in retail, provident fund, insurance?


During the year 2012, Fiscal deficit is expected to be 5.1% of GDP; GDP growth at 6.9%; Rupee has been depreciated by 25% against dollar in a year is a matter of serious concern. Inflation is likely to be in double digits; FDI have migrated back to greener pastures; current account deficit has been very high at 4.5%; foreign exchange reserve started dwindling from the high at $350billion; Industrial sector is at a disadvantage with a negative growth rate compared to 2011 - 2012.


In view of the above disappointing scenario, there is an urgent need to sustain high growth; Recent policies on telecom, retrospective tax legislation, must be reviewed as these have created a negative sentiment about India in the global market. GST must be introduced as early as possible. UPA government seems to be aloof, tired, directionless. Capacity and willingness to provide good governance seems found wanting. Miracles cannot happen in the art of state craft. Solutions on issues like Lokpal, NCTC, reservation for women, bills on RBI Act amendment; Mines and minerals, Food security, must be found. People must be taken into account and placed on board. Youth must be offered active role in the task of nation building. Federalism ought to be respected.


Indian governance to revive and reform the economy cannot wait till 2014. The difference between austerity v/s profligacy must be understood properly. Land reform must be taken up without delay. Blackmoney cannot be wished away through amnesty which is an immoral retribution to those criminals who have illicitly and illegally carted national resource abroad for personal benefit. Blackmoney perpetuated mostly by the political, corporate and bureaucratic class, must not be allowed to go scot free with amnesty gift. It is a pity that out of 1110 million Indians only 33 millions pay taxes. Moreover, tax system itself is defective. India can fight the future danger of oil - price hike only if they succeed to bring back the Rs.24 lakh crores worth black money from abroad and penalty proceeds must be used for the growth of the nation. What is more intriguing is that even as the government did not hesitate recently to hike the petrol price by Rs.7.5 a litre at a stroke, it withdrew the budgetary import duty on gold. India imports 1000 tons of gold annually at a high volume of outward flow of foreign exchange involving about Rs.50000 crores subsidy and only 2 ton of domestic production. Government does not hesitate to offer Rs.30000 crore relief to Air India as a reward for its omissions and commissions; Rs.16000 assistance to banking sector through recapitalization. No government has ever dared to tax even rich agriculturists and instead subsidy is extended to them. Government though announces austerity measures, makes no efforts to reduce administrative cost; instead, borrowing has exceeded Rs.1,00,000 crores to meet such costs. It is also a fact that through budgetary proposals even the corporate sector has been extended a series of innovative subsidies to the extent of Rs.86,000 during 2012 - 2013. In short, the policy of the government remains lack lustre, distressing, non - transparent and at times whimsical.


No one can deny the fact that as on date, India as a nation is going down the road to statism. Where we will wind up, no one can forsee. Yet, there is the need for imperative changes through active participation by farmers, workers, manufacturers, lawyers and doctors. In other words, national progress is the sum of individual industry, energy and uprightedness, where as the national delay is the consequence of mismanagement of financial and human resources by the political and bureaucratic classes. Political class must govern by serving the people, not serving their own selfish objectives. If this rule is accepted without exception, India shall grow faster and stronger. Civil service in India has itself become such a spoils system that it refuses to move forward. Our prime minister and the entire gamut of politicians must be aware that the government is itself an art, one of the subtlest of arts. It is neither business, nor technology, nor applied science. It is the art of making men live together in peace, think alike and secure reasonable happiness. Obviously, greatness of India, depends upon the resolution to be taken by all stakeholders, the government, the bureaucracy, politicians and the people at large. However, people in India at present have become the pawn in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats in the chess game of politics. The question is who will save India from its downward move into a dark future and restore the glory of first decade of 21st century, into the great future?


“Future belongs to those who are virile, to whom it is a pleasure to live, to create, to what their intelligence on that of others” - Sir Henry Deterding.


In nutshell, if India has to `shine again’ and `India story’ has to be revived, global situation must not be quoted as the cause for our mismanagement of economy. In this direction policy must be activated as a dynamic weapon to improve our exports in tune with increasing imports as in China; shrinking industrial production must be increased through conducive policies and management practices; high - interest rate regime ought to be tamed by banishing policy paralysis forever; FDI and FDI inflow must be stopped from exiting through appropriate policy formulations and policy flip - flops must be avoided by adopting positive approach to revive sagging capital / stock market; every step must be initiated to pull the rupee back from its present journey towards the brink.


However, all these and many others can be achieved in India only when our leaders determine to `de - politicalise’ the economic and redistributive policies forthwith. But, who will bell the cat? Let it be known that future belongs to those who are virile but with a vision for the future. India has the strength but it’s government lacks will; because action practice always succeed `will’, to perform.

Author is an economist and a former General Manager of Vijaya Bank.

 

Bedside Medicine

Introduction:

Bedside medicine, the very foundation of medical practice, has been given a go by in the west, which is being followed in the east as well, thanks to technology and the attended affluence that accrues by this practice to the practitioners and hospitals, to the sad detriment of the hapless patients. There have been sane voices in the west decrying this new trend but the medical clap trap drowns their pleas preventing the practising doctors from getting to know the great loss that they have suffered in the bargain. Time has come, as Walrus said, to “talk of many things….” about the benefits of clinical bedside medicine to the practice of medicine in general and the anxious patient in particular.

Medical consultation, which is the summit of all medical care, consists of two human beings coming together-one who is ill or imagines being ill and, the other in whom the former has confidence. This will remain so for all times to come. Man’s greatest enemy is pain which was so in the past and will remain so in the future as well. Any ill person needs another human being, the physician, to help him get well. The physician can never be replaced by technology and robots. Recent scientific research has thrown up a new concept that explains the consultation very scientifically, if ever that was needed. Expectation Effect (EE) is the latest mantra in science circles. It is this effect that stimulates the immune system that ultimately results in healing. The drugs and interventions are only tools in that process. Expectation effect depends on that confidence, mentioned earlier, in the context of medical consultation. Even from the scientific point of view bedside medicine takes the cake.

With the advent of the first clinic and then the hospitals, bedside medicine started a long journey to almost oblivion today with the onslaught of technology and the attendant claptrap. The pitfalls of the latter have now made people to sit up and think that it is necessary to go back to the basics of bed side medicine for good patient care. After all, patient care is just caring for the patient. The first meeting between the patient and her/his chosen doctor is the most important one for the former to develop that confidence that is vital for healing. Logically a humane doctor would fit the bill very well in this scenario. Let us, before we go further, define the ingredients that go to make a humane good doctor. Doctor should be able to smile at some one naturally, should be able to pat some one on the back comfortably, and should have an insight into others’ problems! It is not at all a tall order. If one possesses those qualities of head and heart one becomes naturally a good doctor, placebo doctor. It will be difficult to be a natural good doctor if one is not made that way. Life then becomes a distress to practise medicine.

Nocebo doctors, that do not command the respect and faith of their patients, might end up with poor treatment outcomes. This explains why individual treatment outcomes differ significantly although, in the midst of our statistical assessments, these differences get blunted. However, this shows very clearly in surgical outcomes measured these days for individual surgeons in the UK. Every doctor should try and become a placebo doctor sooner than later as the modern medical outfit is on the threshold for being run over by many alternative systems that offer compassion in large measure in addition to their craft. Many of those systems also have many scientifically authenticated management strategies backed by long standing experience in the field. Some of them are more ancient compared to modern medicine that started around 5000 years ago on the Nile Valley as sorcery, mumbo-jumbo and witchcraft gradually transforming itself en route from there to the west via Arabia and Greece. The journey of modern medicine had transformed medicine with influence from many sources. What has not changed, though, is the compassion that goes with the practice of medicine. Every doctor should remember that while a patient could survive without the help of a doctor; a doctor, on the contrary, can not survive without patients!

This book will go through the whole gamut of bedside medicine, starting with the most important part of talking with the patient through systems review and gives, at the end, a logical plan to arrive at a bedside clinical diagnosis. Clinical diagnosis is very important lest the patient should be put through unwanted investigations resulting in the patient (or any payer) wasting precious money. It could also expose the hapless patient to the dangers of some of those tests. Bedside clinical diagnosis with reasonable differential diagnoses is our goal in training the young minds to become good doctors through the best practice of clinical bedside methods. Line diagrams and photographs, where needed, are an added attraction here. One picture might spare a thousand words of description. Good doctors with a conscience are the need of the hour today as there are thousands of patients that can not access modern medicine for want of financial support.

Poverty being the mother of all illnesses and not knowing where one’s next meal comes from being the greatest risk factor for major killer diseases, we doctors have a duty to the poor. The gravity of the problem could be guessed if one knows that there are well over 824 million people below the poverty line and around 540 million people are severely malnourished. Poverty with the consequent undernourishment depletes the immune guard of our body to the invasion by germs that otherwise coexist with us in this universe. Poor immune guard also assists the major killer diseases. Even heart attacks are seen to be commoner among the poorer sections of the society even in the industrialized west! Bedside good medicine could be one of the ways of taking modern medicine to the poorest of the poor to do most good to most people most of the time, the very basic ethical tenet of a modern medical doctor.

“A man’s vanity tells him what honour is; a man’s conscience tells him what justice is.”

Walter Savage Landor.

to be contnd. in next issue...

 

YEH MERA INDIA

Free coaching for tribal students

Mumbai: The results of UPSC, MPSC exams, conducted by the Public Service Commission so far have highlighted one fact time and again students from tribal region often lag behind their peers. In order to improve this situation, the government has taken an initiative to provide free coaching to 500 students every year.

“We have taken this decision because we want to bring tribal students into mainstream; career in public service commission could turn around their life, hence could transform this community into a well educated one,” said Rajendra Gavit, State Minister of Tribal Development.

The coaching programme will be implemented from June onwards. The government will provide accommodation and food to selected candidates, that too, free of cast. The government is expected to invest Rs 5 crore in this scheme.


The saviour called RTI

Mumbai: In an interesting matrimonial dispute, a husband had to go through the procedures under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to get the information that his wife has got married with someone else and thus expose her before the High Court. Finally, the High Court vacated the stay on the family court order and granted divorce to the couple.

Vinod and Seema had tied the knot in 2005. Later on, problems cropped up which led to their separation.

The Family Court had granted divorce to the couple. Seema approached the High Court seeking a stay on the divorce granted by the Family Court. The High Court, however, stayed the Family court order.

Aggrieved Vinod filed an appeal before the court stating that since there is a stay granted against the decree of the Family Court, he is unable to remarry, and also, he has come to know that Seema has either married or has been staying with somebody and out of the said relationship she has delivered a child.

The learned counsel, appearing for Vinod, submitted the information, got through RTI Act application from a primary school where Seema is employed as a teacher, that she had obtained maternity leave for certain period from her employment. It was also pointed out that she had delivered a baby girl.

Advocate, appearing for Seema, submitted that he got an instruction from her father that his daughter has run away. He also tried to get instruction from Seema but has not received any.

While dealing with the case, a division bench headed by Justice P B Majumdar observed, “In view of the prima facie evidence, which forms part of this civil application, it is clear that the respondent had taken maternity leave from her employment.

Considering the said aspect, in our view, the stay granted by this court regarding staying the family decree of divorce deserves to be vacated, in view of the subsequent development.”

73 cr worth projects cleared in one go
Bhayandar: The civic administration has approved developmental work proposals worth more than Rs 73 crore which includes projects under the first phase of the Ekatmik Nullah Project.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator, Gilbert Mendonca, has listed around 100 proposals after an extensive survey carried out in the twin-city along with Municipal Commissioner, Vikram Kumar. There are altogether 75 work projects approved by the MBMC. Apart from approving works related to upgrading facilities at the Bhayandar-based, Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Municipal stadium and installation of traffic signals at strategic locations on the Western Express Highway, majority of the listed proposals are regarding construction of roads, gutters and cross drainage systems.

“This is a part of our mission to strengthen the infrastructural base in Mira Bhayandar and I have been in constant touch with the local populace, after which the list of developmental was presented for approval before the administration in the first week of April, I am happy that the civic chief sensed the importance of the work and gave his sanction.” Mendonca said.

While tenders of most of the work proposals have been floated, tender process was on in other civic related works, officials said.

 

Educated convicts: UP tops

Chennai: It is well known that Uttar Pradesh is among the few educationally backward States that sends several persons with a criminal background to the Parliament and Legislative Assembly.

What comes as a surprise though is that the country’s largest State also has the highest number of graduates and postgraduates who are in jail for criminal offences.

A perusal of the data presented in the latest Prison Statistics India (PSI 2010) Report, released by the National Crime Records Bureau, shows that as many as 1,248 convicts lodged in UP’s jails were graduates - the highest number across India. Not just that, UP’s jails also house the highest number of postgraduate convicts – 321.

During 2010, Punjab had the second highest number of graduates (602) in jail as convicts, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 383 graduate-convicts.

Even among under trials, UP boasted of the highest number of prisoners who were graduates or postgraduates.

Incidentally, a demographic analysis published in the PSI 2010 Report revealed that 30.2 percent of the convicts who were in jail during 2010 were illiterates. In terms of numbers, this figure translates to 37,994 illiterate convicts out of the 1,25,789 convicts lodged in various jails in the country. “As many as 56,264 convicts were educated below class X,” the report said. The Matriculates and illiterate convicts together accounted for 74.9 per cent of the total convicts that year.

Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, UP and West Bengal jointly contributed to 51 per cent of the total illiterate convicts.

Also, 72.9 per cent were Hindus and 18 per cent Muslims. Nearly 56.8 per cent of Muslim convicts were lodged in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, UP and West Bengal.

A caste wise analysis of convicts in the country other than those lodged in Delhi prisons, revealed that 41,784 belonged to Other Category (OC). 36,170 were OBCs, 27,355 Scheduled Caste and 17,729 belonged to the Scheduled Tribes.

Storage constraints: centre to export wheat

New Delhi: The government is examining possibilities of wheat exports from government godowns to create storage space for new crop estimated at a record 90.23 million tonnes this year. The government godowns are overflowing with grains and the Centre could face a serious storage problem as it is targeted to purchase nearly 32 million tonnes of wheat this year. “We are looking at export of wheat from our stocks. There are some countries like Uganda, some Gulf nations, Afghanistan and Pakistan, who need wheat,” Thomas told reporters here on the sidelines of workshop on public distribution system (PDS).


Mumbai: The Bombay High Court directed the State government to file a reply in response to a petition challenging the validity of the amendment to the RTI Act made by it and which restricts the contents of the application to 150 words and one subject.

On January 16, 2012, the State government published a notification and inserted Rule 3A in the RTI act, which imposes restriction on the number of words and subject of the application. The petitioner, Shivaji Kshirasagar, has filed a PIL and prayed to the court to set aside the amendment saying it provides weapons to the public information officers to reject the application.

According to the petition, the impugned notification is against the objectives of the RTI Act, principle of natural justice and also violates the fundamental rights. It is inconsistent with the parent act, unconstitutional and against the law. The petitioner argued that this amendment is made only to deprive the citizens of information. It is against the freedom of expression as it restricts the contents of the application to 150 words and one subject only. However, the court has not agreed with the argument and said that the amendment has been made for the convenience and object of the Act is to provide information only. The court said that if you want more information you could file two applications. Following a suggestion sought by the court the state government asked time for the reply. The matter was further posted on July 13 for hearing.


Amendments to RTI challenged in HC

MONTH THAT WAS

Bihar food poisoning kills one

At least nine labourers died after consuming poisonous ‘sattu’ a variety of gram flour, in Bihar’s Jehanabad district, police said.

Angry over the death of nine labourers, residents blocked roads and demanded the arrest of the shopkeeper who sold the contaminated ‘sattu’ to them, reports media.

“A police team raided the shop from where the labourers purchased ‘sattu’, but the shopkeeper ran away and is missing,” a police official said. Four laboureres were in hospital in a critical condition. .The labourers purchased ‘sattu’ from a shop in a village and ate it that afternoon, he said.

The district administration has ordered an inquiry into the incident. The compensation of Rs 1 lakh each for the kin of the victims was announced by the state government.

Bio-toilets to be fitted in Mumbai-Varanasi Exp

Mumbai: A long distance train between Mumbai and Varanasi will soon be equipped with bio-toilets based on DRDO technology.

The Mumbai-Varanasi Mahanagari Express along with four other trains on other railway zones will be equipped with such toilets soon.

Unlike traditional toilets in trains wherein the waste is discharged on tracks, the new system will treat the same inside a tank with the help of a bacteria, which will convert it into harmless gas and water. This will not only help improving the environment but will also prevent corrosion on tracks.

Trial for the same will start on CR now. The railways had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for development of bio-toilets for rail coaches. Rail tracks get corroded because of the discharge from toilets and the new design green toilets would prevent the damage to the tracks.

Some coaches with bio-toilets will be brought to Mumbai for trial. Trials will be held in Mahalaxmi after which these will be fitted in the Mumbai-Varanasi Mahanagari Express.

The anaerobic bacteria inside the toilets consume waste materials and convert it into water and gas in the bio-toilet system. The water passing through chlorine tank is discharged as clean water and the gas generated evaporates into the atmosphere.

Crack down on sonography centres

Jaipur: The Rajasthan government cancelled license of six sonography centres here and issued notices to 24 others for their suspected involvement in female foetcide and for violating laws, officials said.

The action seems another impact of Bollywood actor Aamir Khan’s debut TV show “Satyamev Jayate”, as the action came a day after the superstar met state Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

“Chief Minister had met state officials to know more about the extent of the problem immediately after the show was aired. As per the instructions issued directly from him, we have started cracking down on faulty sonography centres where illegal sex determination tests were conducted,” a senior medical and health department officer told media, preferring anonymity.

Additional tax to private hospitals who refuse to treat poor patients
Thane: The state government may authorize the civic bodies to slap additional tax on private and charitable hospitals that refuse to treat poor patients. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said that, once the tax is imposed, these hospitals would no longer be required to treat poor patients at concessional rates. Pawar hinted at the possibility while addressing the meeting of elected representatives. “Several hospitals reap the benefits extended by the government and the corporation, but refuse to treat poor patients. We have repeatedly received complaints so I have come to the conclusion that these hospitals should be asked to pay additional tax to the civic body. This money will be used in civic hospitals to give better medical facilities to the poor”. “In Mumbai, we told hospitals to pay the tax. The state is now using this money for government hospitals,” said Pawar.

Cannot buy car without parking space

Beijing: To tackle the rising menace of parking, the authorities in China’s Shanghai city are going to ban residents from buying cars in future if they failed to secure a parking space in advance. According to the Shanghai police, the new policy will require people to prove to the government that "they already acquired a car space" to purchase a vehicle. "Shanghai Daily" reported. It means that potential car buyers would have to rent or buy a car park space first, as a pre-condition to buy a vehicle. Details and the timetable for the new rule are still being discussed. The government hopes to use the new strategy to control the city’s deteriorating parking lot shortage. According to traffic police, in some cities abroad between 5 to 10 percent of urban parking capacity comes from dedicated garbage buildings, which offer big parking capacity. But in Shanghai, the percentage is only one percent.

In 15 days e-ticket refund

CR has implemented Advance Coaching Refund System (ACRS) recently to reduce the time taken for e-ticket refunds.

In this system, all e-tickets data are uploaded directly from IRCTC server to ACRS directly and dealt by refund section in the Chief Commercial Manager’s office, CR.

“In cases wherein amount is sanctioned, the refund is transferred to IRCTC through pay order for payment to the party and pay orders are made manually. This has reduced the transaction time from 30 to 15 days.

All e-ticket refund cases will be disposed off within a period of 15 days,” said CR spokesperson.

“Out of total refund cases, 60% are of e-tickets at present, which constitutes about 2,500 cases per month. CR is one of the few railways where advance Coaching Refund System is implemented,” spokesperson added.

NRHM Scam – Former principal secretary held

Lucknow: Senior IAS officer Pradeep Shukla, a former principal secretary in the Uttar Pradesh health department, was detained by officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from the Lucknow airport as shukla was about to leave for New Delhi.

Shukla’s name had been figuring prominently in the ongoing investigations in the multi-crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam but the agency had for some reason not arrested him so far. Shukla’s luck ran out as the CBI apparently got the go-ahead from its top brass to nab Shukla after it was pulled up by Allahabad High Court for not touching big names in the FIR lodged in connection with the scam. He was later brought to Delhi and would be produced before a designated court in Ghaziabad.

Ever since the scam came to light the name of Pradeep Shukla had been making rounds as being one of the key figures in the huge swindle of government funds. Shukla’s name figured in three FIRs filed by the CBI in this connection and he had been summoned for interrogation several times.

His arrest was on the cards after arrest of Dr A K Shukla, the chief medical officer of Lucknow. The arrested CMO was understood to have revealed crucial information suggesting the deep involvement of the senior IAS officer. CBI sources said Shukla was responsible for clearing payments to number of fictitious firms that were created to supply various goods required under the NRHM programme. Specifically, Shukla faces the charge of alleged bungling in upgradation of 89 district hospitals under National Rural Health Mission programme causing a loss of nearly Rs 22.5 crore to the exchequer.

He is the 15th accused to be arrested by the CBI so far. The 14 other accused arrested are contractors or junior level officers. The only big fish nabbed is former family welfare minister Babu Singh Kushwaha but no chargesheet has been filed against him by the CBI.


Mumbai: Now you can get your Central Railway (CR) train-e-ticket cancellation refunds in 15 days instead of the 30 days earlier.