Saturday, July 7, 2012

SCROLL OF HONOUR

This is the reproduction of the SCROLL OF HONOUR (Sanmaana Patra) by the Govt. Composite High School, Angaragundi, Bykampadi, Mangalore. This was given to J.Shriyan for his involvement in the school, which according to the school, greatly helped all its 10th Std. students (33) pass, by securing 100% for the first time.

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends

So the monsoon is here, some time plenty, some times scanty. It is giving a kind of signal, monsoon may not be normal this season. No wonder Meteorological Deptt has reportedly remarked that it has reversed the forecast for the season from 99% to 96% of normal rainfall. It is a matter of concern especially, the increasing pressure on demand for water both from increasing population and increasing industrial and infrastructural need. Recently a team of those involved in farming and agriculture had gone to Israel on a study tour and to take part in an exhibition. They have learnt, despite Israel not being a water abundant country, it has managed its water resources very well. According to these visitors, who have returned to India, despite this water constraint, their production per acre is higher and they feel there is enough to learn from Israel. It is true our officialdom will do well to take note of this and take some long term steps to manage this increasingly decreasing natural resources.

Our Reach-out initiative in a local school culminated with students being honoured with flowers and the Rs: 1000/- award per student as announced by us. In a pleasant development, the School Development & Management Committee (SDMC), honoured the undersigned.

It was memorable for the emotions expressed by both teachers and students. Show of goodwill was overwhelming with all other parapharnelia of such events, a scroll of hounour was read out and presented. We have reproduced the scroll in this issue.

Month-in-Perspective, as usual, did go into some of the happenings of the month to come up with its own take.

The election of Dimple Yadav, wife of Akhilesh Yadav, who quit the Loksabha to become the Chief Minister of UP has exposed the machination in our so-called democracy. It was not only hegemonistic of some influential families but also a joke of the whole electoral politics. She was elected unopposed. That was incredible in an India, where there is no dearth of capable candidates. Democracy in India is in continuing dismal mode for its increasingly one-sided promotion of those who are already in power and are enjoying its perks. We have taken up the issue under Focus. Hope our readers will find it interesting. Do kindly revert with your thoughts.



Month-In-Perspective

Andhra Pradesh: Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, the ambitious son of Y S R Reddy, the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, is becoming a bit of hot potato for the Congress leadership. It could as well be a case of chicken coming back home to roost. When father Reddy was alive, not only father but also the son were allowed free hand by the Congress high command, ostensibly because it was serving the party interest. But when he died and son staked his claim for CMs gaddi, he was only doing what was Congress culture, the "Father to Son" politics. Now in their wisdom, may be even very right, the party denied the prodigal son, his claim to the gaddi. But he has come back to haunt them.

He is young and has the advantage of money power, earned rightly or wrongly, he was a ‘bit of Sanjay Gandhi’ and had developed youth coterie during his father’s reign, which had helped him in his Loksabha victory earlier. Clearly his shenanigans were not welcome in the corridors of the high command. What they feared is not clear, but they tried the time tested trick of using CBI against him to investigate “the disproportionate asset case (DAC)”. How many politicians are there in India who could be justifiably qualified to be investigated under this DAC? There could be hundreds if not thousands. There would be, similarly, hundreds of bureaucrats who too are qualified under DAC. But is this Convenient Bureau of Investigation (CBI) being used against all of them? Answer we all know. This selective approach in chasing the crime and hopefully the truth, has been the bane of Indian politics. We are not honest. We take recourse to the law when it suites us.

In the event, son Reddy, and his YSR Congress party, has humbled the ‘Mother Congress’ in the recently held by-election. He walked away with 18 seats. He announced his arrival in the AP political scene blowing the proverbial conch. Surely there will be no looking back for YSR Congress. Jagan Reddy and his party managers successfully exploited this CBI arrest just before the by election, as political vendetta, to their advantage.

But the question before the country is, can the electorates in A.P. be oblivious to the wrongs committed by Jagan Reddy in amassing assets of hundreds of crores of nations resources for him and his family? They could have rejected both Mother Congress and YSR Congress. The former for exploiting the system to fix Jagan, and YSR Congress for unethical and blatant exploitation of power. Electorates had a very good option in going for Loksatta of Dr Jayaprakash Narayan, who unfortunately drew blank. It is a sad day for Andhra and the nation.

That Andhra Pradesh High Court has struck down the recent reservation of 4.5% for minorities in jobs and educational seats out of the 27% OBC Quota is not the issue, it is only a news. The court had ruled the latest reservation as unconstitutional.

Doesn’t the government at Delhi or in any state, know the constitution and its provision? They do know it pretty well, inside-out. They have enough of legal luminaries, both among members of legislative assemblies and parliaments, but also on the government regular pay rolls. These legal eagles always give them sound advise at all occasions and on all issues. But the intention to tinker with the constitutional provisions, to fit into its political agendas has always been an ongoing activity all political parties have tried at different times. They are either hoping against hope that such blatant acts of legislation will pass the muster, if the courts do not intervene, or at the most court will throw it out as it happened now. These political parties are only trying to tell their vote bank that they have tried but court didn’t allow, and in the process they are trying to get some mileage. Such acts by elected governments not only fools the target group but also is wasting time and public money to advance its own survival agenda. Something all govts should refrain from doing, since it is prima facie a dishonest act.


MAHARASHTRA: ‘Satyameva Jayathe’ of Amir Khan is having its ripple effect after all. It was Rajasthan government, which acted fast after Amir Khan spoke to the Chief Minister Gehlot. Rajasthan govt had reportedly suspended some 15 ultra sound sonography clinics conducting sex determination tests. Khan had exposed some of the practitioners in Rajasthan through his T.V. show.

Close on its heels comes the news of Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) has reportedly suspended 5 doctors and some 20 others have been sent notice for female foeticides resulting from sex determination tests.

Skewed sex ratio-Male to Female-has been our national bane. In their eagerness to have male progeny, Indians from different social strata cutting across religious divide have been, truly speaking, murdering these small little babies in the womb itself. In the process medical profession has been very mean, in enriching itself. Reportedly in Mumbai, some of these doctors were even feeding aborted female feotuses to dogs to destroy evidence of foeticides. And we called doctors are like gods, haven’t we?!

Understably doctors were up in arms after ‘Satyameva Jayate’ of Amir Khan exposed the medical fraternity of its malpractices.

Reportedly an umbrella body of some 21 medical associations have demanded that Amir Khan apologise for what he showed and accused doctors of malpractices.

Of course Amir Khan has rejected the demand outright. While it is true that there are many, may be even overwhelming majority of medical practitioners who are good and are concerned about the state of health of people and the practices in the profession, it is also true that there are many, for whom, helplessness of a patient is their capital. There are doctors and hospitals who do indulge in blatant exploitation of the ignorance of people, especially poor and ignorant.

The stories of exploitation and loot are many and profession has indeed been rendered naked by some very unscrupulous and mean professional brothers and sisters. That is the truth. So the medical men and women surely need to look inward, how it can improve its records.

There was this interesting case of Mumbai University (MU) teachers, who are assigned the work of assessing BCom answer sheets, going to court. ABVP or the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a student political wing had gone to court to pressure these MU teachers to spend extra time to assess the BCom answer sheets so that they can complete the assessment earlier. It is very obvious, these ABVP leaders, who have petitioned the Bombay High Court has their brain in the wrong place or else how could they ask the assessing teachers who have already worked on these papers for the stipulated full day and probably on the verge of fatigue to assess more papers, when it is very likely that they can make mistakes in assessment due to overwork?

No wonder the court, as if it threw the ABVP out of window, rejected the petition. The court observed “If professors are asked to check papers for additional hours, injustice will be caused to the students. It is not mechanical or clerical work, it requires concentration”. Hope these student politicians use their head for better things, so that they become better and responsible citizens.

There was this Mumbai datelined report “11 months after death ATS gives clean chit to Usmani”. Title of the news itself is a tragic commentary on the way our police work. Post 13/7 blast in Central Mumbai – Oper House, Zaweri Bazar & Dadar – Mumbai Crime Branch picked up Faiz Usmani from his grocery shop in Govandi, the following day. They had absolutely no ground to zero-in on this guy, except his brother Afzal Usmani was allegedly involved in 2008 Gujarat blast and was part of the Indian Mujahiddeen. Whether they interrogated or not is unknown, but he died the next day in custody, probably the fear overtook him and his heart succumbed. May be police didn’t harm him, which is difficult to believe. But the very detention only on suspicion is primarily a human rights violation. And our police across the country have been ham-handed in handling people only on suspicion, especially Muslims.

The latest report by Tata Institute of Social Sciences has emphatically remarked, reporting on Muslim prisoners in Maharashtra, “Most of prisoners in Maharashtra jails are victims of prejudice”. Accusing the police of acute bias for arresting most of them who have no connection with any criminal gangs, is a reflection of deep seated prejudice with communal overtone. This is a sad certificate for a country that boasts of secularism, and the government in Maharashtra is by the so-called secular party of Congress and NCP. This trend has got to be reversed.

There was this news about NCP of Sharad Pawar setting up NYC that is Nationalist Yuvati Congress. There isn’t any Nationalist Yuwa Congress – Guess why? Yes, you guessed it right. Sharad Pawar does not have a son. And what better way to provide a national platform for Supriya Sule than create NYC! In one stroke he ensured a permanent place for his daughter so also championed the cause of women empowerment. Of course he is primarily empowering his own progeny. Yes, democracy, my foot! He could as well have made somebody else, another educated woman, with some political background, but he didn’t, as is the wont of most politicians, and don’t we always harp how democratic we all are? If you are at the receiving end, it has to be democratic but if you are at the giving end it is always autocratic, its my way or the highway!

While having NYC is a unique idea to empower women, it has to be based on democratic principles. With Pawar family can that be expected? It is a big question, which even Pawars cannot answer. We do have tradition among followers, of crawling when only bending is required.


WEST BENGAL: Mamata Didi is in the thick of news for all wrong reasons. In recent days she was everywhere, especially post presidential nominee fiasco. Two regional satraps have dropped a bombshell by proposing Dr Manmohan Singh among the three they listed, abondening outright the Congress nominee Pranab Mukherjee. Suddenly presidential contest became hyper with no value attached to it, since it would be the number that would decide the president not hype.. Given to sudden bursts of hype, Mamata did not realise the pitfalls she is creating for herself. By proposing Dr Singh as a presidential candidate, both Mamata and Mulayam Singh were sending the signal they do not want him as PM, which Congress will never accept. By not supporting Pranab, it would be the end of the road for her association with Congress, also she can be seen as somebody who tried to deny a Bengali becoming the 1st citizen, which Bengali pride may not be happy to accept. Besides, not many are comfortable dealing with her for her mercurial and extremely unpredictable behaviour. As it stands after a week of her announcement she stands isolated since Mulayam Singh has already retraced his steps to Congress camp.

If her stand on presidential election was a lost cause, she also lost a court case on Singur land dispute. Calcutta High Court struck down Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011, terming it unconstitutional and void. The act was made to facilitate the return of land to unwilling farmers who did not want their land to be acquired for Tata Motors Project at Singur. Thus, her credibility is seriously being eroded. She too could be one term sensation like Mayawathi.


Haryana: Little Mahi, the 4 year old child that fell into an open borewell, was brought out after 4 days, dead. It is indeed very sad that a child as small as 4 died a death without reason, except callousness of all. It is the society, the state, and all of us who have killed her.

Stories of small playing children falling into these deadly holes have been there for all these years. Except, curative approach, the level of struggle to get the child out, nothing has changed. The level of concern has no doubt increased to get the little life alive back to light from those dark holes. Every attempt is made from civil society, the govt, the army, all chip in their bit to save this one life. It is a good sign, in an India where life is so cheap otherwise.

There were media editorials what should the govt do, or where govt has failed, or why at all borewells are dug, the water problem etc. But no where the sense of responsibility is driven into the psyche of civil society. Yes, water is essential. Borewells are dug when you don’t get water. Of course some are with permission and some without. But, if no water is found or water is depleted or borewell has dried, how can that be left open? It has to be made mandatory that all such abandoned wells are covered by people who dig it in the first place. If left open, it has to be declared a crime and culprits are jailed, besides all cost of saving the child, which has fallen inside the gaping borewell, has to be recovered from the culprit. This has to be made stringent without bail. Only then will civil society understand their responsibility. Now who will pay for the life of little Mahi and that whopping cost the state has incurred to get hold of her lifeless body?!

New Delhi: Has the Coal Gate opened the flood gate for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh? But Mr PM is not biting the bullet. New Delhi datelined report informed “CBI starts preliminary probe into alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks in 2006-09, but makes it clear that it was not probing the Prime Minister”. Anna Hazare has said “Have lost faith in PM”. Dr Manmohan Singh reportedly claimed innocence. “If the Prime Minister is claiming innocence, why is he afraid of an independent probe” demanded Arvind Kejriwal, an Anna associate. Frankly, it is in the fitness of things that PM Dr Singh must submit himself for an independent investigation. After all he had agreed himself to be covered under Lokpal. So what’s the problem? There is absolutely no point in going to the market by the Congress functionaries and cry hoarse. In fact the very fact of the investigation, if and when ordered, shall blow the wind out of the sail of Anna tirade. Otherwise, you are only running away from the truth and making it more murkier, especially when all Anna associates have suggested that there can be any investigation against any of their members, and they will welcome it.

While all Indians know that Dr Manmohan Singh has not personally enriched himself, but his culpability as minister in charge of coal portfolio is an open ended question. The country has lost huge revenue, and somebody have enriched themselves, and that is the truth. So, for the sake of the nation, Dr Singh has to submit himself to scrutiny, in the larger interest of the nation. “If there is even an iota of truth in the allegations I am willing to give up my public career. I think the public should decide whether this sort of politics should rule the roost in this country” - Dr Manmohan Singh is reported to have stated. We all know, he is a very learned man, an economist of world repute. He is clean and very unassuming in his position as the Prime Minister of the country. His slate is clean. But is he beyond criticism? His problem is, he cannot take criticism. Criticism can be sometime wrong, but can be right too at times just like one can never be right all the time. Some time one can be wrong also. Is Dr Manmohan Singh beyond criticism? If a leader cannot take criticism in right spirit can he be called the leader of world’s largest democracy?

The report of self immolation bid by one Salim Ali, at the fasting venue of Anna Ramdev combine at Jantar Mantar may have had its nuisance value, but he had relevant questions.

Report informed about this Ali being counseled and medically examined, probably to find out if he is mentally alright.

He had come to the venue, armed with questions which obviously disturbed him and certainly disturbed many Indians. “How can Ramdev talk about Bhagat Singh always when he himself had runaway from his protest site in a woman’s clothes? was his question to Baba. “How can Anna support Raj Thackaray who is violently against north Indians working in Mumbai”? was his other question.

Both are very relevant questions and both of them need to answer, their respective question. Just because they are agitating for a corruption free India, they cannot runaway from explaining issues which they have created, to the satisfaction of we general public. They are public figures and hence are under constant public scrutiny. Their bench marks should be higher than most, to be role models. For them escape routes are shut, like it or not.

That our governments react more than act on its own, was more than exemplified by an action of the most pro-active and a very competent technocrat minister Jairam Ramesh recently. We have heard about the stinking toilet controversy in the recent past, involving our BPL decision maker Montek Singh Ahulwalia.

Mr Ahulwalia has exposed himself by spending Rs: 35 Lakhs on renovating two toilets in Yojana Bhavan offices, especially during a time of cost cutting and the infamous cut off income level for BPL at Rs: 27/- and Rs: 32/- per day for rural and urban poor .

As a sequel to the above toilet controversy and smarting under media criticism, union cabinet acting on the proposal from Jairam Ramesh, recently tripled the grant for rural toilets from Rs: 3000/- to Rs: 10000/- bringing it at par with the grant available to urban households.

Rural development ministry under Jairam Ramesh is quietly bringing about a revolution of a kind, needed all the time, but acted only after 64 years of independence. According to the new proposal the rural house hold has to contribute only Rs 900/- and rest to come from different agencies, like centre, state and MGNREGS.

Subhash Agarwal, whose RTI query led to the Planning Commission toilet fiasco being exposed, but also helped the rural poor get a better quality life through quality toilets, must be smiling with satisfaction. Jai ho RTI.

Coming under increasing criticism for fixing income to fix BPL population in the country at ridiculously low levels, UPA govt has set up a new committee under former RBI governor and advisor to PM, C.Rangarajan. As is known, Planning Commission under “austere” Sardar Montek Ahulwalia, had originally fixed Rs: 28.65 per day for urban poor and Rs: 22.42 per day for rural poor as the cut off income level. It is very clear that even to have a decent rice plate in city for one time to one person, it is not possible in Rs: 28.65. So how can a family of minimum 4, (Husband, wife and two school going children) can survive on this amount for a full day. What is the basis and logic for the basis? What is the per day expenditure of Shri Suresh Tendulakar of Tendulkar Committee who decided this amount and that of Sardar Montek Singh of Yojana Bhavan? Media has been agog with the travel expenditure of Sardar M.S. Ahulwalia at over Rs 2,00,000 per day, when he travelled overseas, for valid reason or otherwise.

Naturally across the national media scene, there have been strident criticism of this very very petty amount being fixed, thereby truly insulting the poor and their human dignity.

In the new technical panel headed by C.Rangarajan, there are no doubt eminent economists and sociologists. But two very prominent names of P.Sainath, the Magasaysay awardee and Jean Dreze, of Delhi School of Economics should have been included for the sheer concern and the intellectual honesty and capability they have, so also the respect they command across the socio/economic intellectual spectrum.

Yes our poor need to be treated better. Only concern is our BPL card holders include those who are not truly poor but misusing the system by producing falls certificates obtained for a price at the Tahasildar’s offices across the country.

Of course when it is BJP inspired news item, it has become a practice to take note of it with a pinch of salt. But what right media has, to either reject it or ignore it, just because it is from BJP? There was this delegation of BJP members who called on President Pratibha Patil to complain against Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal in an alleged case of land grabbing. Citing an order of May 2010 by the Rajasthan Co-operative registrar on grabbing government land worth Rs 1000 crores by some influential persons, which included the name of Kamla Beniwal among others. Of course BJP has asked President to sack Beniwal as is the norm of all political parties as per their opposition programme. Kamla Beniwal, on her part, has neither resigned nor issued any clarification. Thus the issue is very much there.

As compared to that there is Suresh Kumar, an efficient, competent and known to be a clean minister in Karnataka govt has resigned, a day after an RTI activist accused him of getting a house site allotted under CM’s discretionary quota, which he is not entitled to. Print media from Karnataka has gone over board when it published “Suresh Kumar is the 9th minister to resign”. They were also very obliging in publishing the story promptly and prominently, and Suresh Kumar was equally obliging in quitting his ministership. Although he says he has not done anything illegal. Truth is till to be known fully.

Thus unfortunately media is never evenhanded. Issues in the media get the tint according to the whims, fancies, likes and dislikes of some of the members of the 4th estate. That is sad.

WORLD: In the ongoing cacophony of uncertainties in Pakistan by declaring Yousuf Raza Gilani, the PM, disqualified, by the Supreme Court and the election of the new PM, comes the disturbing news from Washington.

Foreign Policy journal published from US has been rather uncharitable in declaring it a failed state. Clubbing Pakistan at 101.6 points, along with Sudan which got 109.4 points was the most serious observation by the journal. It has placed Pakistan at No: 13, while Sudan is placed No: 3. Between these are Chad, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yemen, Iraq and other central African countries. Of course it is better than last year’s position of 12th place and reportedly it had 10th place in 2009. According to the Journal, the obsession of Pakistan has been the arming of its forces, especially targeting India. To this end it has spent heavily on defence preparedness. Whatever revenue that govt collects is swallowed by the civilian govt. alleges the journal, so also there is a general apathy to pay government due by the public.

Commenting harshly, it has observed that whole of Pakistan lacks power for about 20 hours a day on an average. Many areas never experience literacy. Male dominated tribal areas have a long history of violent existence, besides many other negative attributes.

Of course Pakistan has rebutted these negative portrayal in the 'Failed States Index' of the Foreign Policy Journal. Its press attache in the U.S had gone to great length to contradict these observations.

Truly, no country likes to be negatively portrayed. Fact of the matter is both are right, but there is great deal that need to be done by Pakistan to improve its overall image. A truth Pakistani leadership must accept.

Rise and fall of Rajat gupta, the corporate America’s poster boy, is a story of Hollywood potboiler. A friend and confidant of our very own Dr Manmohan Singh, Rajath Gupta recently hit the headline for a very wrong reason-insider trading. Mr Gupta, who was sitting on some of the most prestigious Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs, Proctor & Gamble and AMR, the parent of American Airlines, let down his clients, who trusted him with all their confidential information they shared with him in their board rooms, so that he could advise and counsel for the benefit of their share holders. Instead he helped his business associate and friend Rajarathnam to reap enormous profit, in his quest for more money for his own investment with his friend. It was the greed of more money, when you already have enough and more, that led to his fall from grace. But it was a steep fall. In the words of Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern Distt. of New York and part of the case, “Rajat Gupta once stood at the apex of the international business community. To-day he stands convicted of securities fraud, having fallen from respected insider to convicted inside trader. Gupta has now exchanged his lofty board room for the prospect of a lowly jail cell”. That was indeed a steep fall. This is how a law should take its course, fast, fair and clear, no matter, how powerful or moneyed you are. Can we Indians hope to have such high profile trial, finished quickly, before the amber has died out, with a devastating punch, however mighty you are? How many corporate fraud cases we have with the economic offences wing of our investigating agencies dragging in the court, years on, for varieties of reasons?

The report datelined Baghdad informed “65 dead as car bomb target Shias in Iraq”. Earlier US was blamed for all the problems in Iraq. Now US forces have vacated this land of Saddam. Now those who are in Iraq are all its nationals, and all Muslims. Yes, they are Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. What is the problem for these co-religionist to co-habit in peace? It is their own government, of their own people. We are told, it’s the Sunni militants who target frequently Shias, who are responsible for this killing as well. Report also informed that there were killings in Kurdish north as well so also near the office premises of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani who is a Kurd. Of course we are informed, most of the terror groups within the Muslim community are from Sunni denomination. But why is this differences so deep that it leads to bloody killing at regular intervals? Is there nobody among the global Muslim leadership to tell these divided groups to live without blood letting? Doesn’t the community owes it to itself the promotion of co-operative co-existence for its own sake, and not for the benefit of the world at large?

There is absolutely no doubt that Barack Obama is a true leader. A leader who can take an unpopular decision in the name of fairness and national interest. Of course it may be easier for an outsider to agree with him, because it suites that way. The news “US wont deport talented young immigrants”, did resonant across the globe with positive vibe for the sheer logic of the argument. Faced with unemployment problem in his own backyard, for Obama to make a policy pronouncement on immigrants, Republicans were naturally outraged. Of course the course correction, not amnesty, is available as a temporary measure to ensure continuity to the life of those who have grown, educated and are now ready to be usefully occupied in the United States, without the ‘Sword of Damocles’ of deportation hanging over their head. This is a very rational, logical, democratic and humane decision. This will certainly become a bench mark in the years to follow. Two cheers to Barack Hussain Obama. “In the run up to the ensuing election to the White House, its wishing you the best”.

Syria is increasingly becoming an international diplomatic football arena, while large number of deaths are taking place everyday. It is like a civil war, between the ruler and the ruled. It is a situation where no-body is winning, all Syrians are losing. Fact is Bashar Assad who became president after the death of his father is thinking Syria is his family property, which his people do not accept. Even Arab neighbours are unhappy with Bashar. Most countries favour the change, but Russia and China are not agreeing. Of course it is the people of Syria who should decide their fate. Kofi Annan’s mediation efforts too have failed. Even he fears, “Future is likely to be brutal repression, massacres, sectarian violence, even all-out civil war”. Russia and China had backed Annan proposals. It appears it is an unrelenting fight for Assad to go. People will eventually win. Without the people, the president is zero. It is in the interest of both himself and Syrians to climb down and quit. He may end up as Nicholas of Romania, if he does not quit.

When there is an uprising of people, its always the people who won it. May be in the short run, ruler may gain or win. But in the end it is always peoples power. It is either democracy or rule by proletariat. There is no third alternative. Assad Jr. must realize, he is fighting a losing battle. Better he leaves early, not only deaths/killing will stop, may be he can have an escape rout to live another day. Options are very limited.

J.Shriyan

FOCUS

Democracy! My Foot

Machendranath, is an old student of our college in Mumbai. Every time he gets wild, he would blurt “You, my left foot”, indignance writ large on his face. So whenever you have something, to convey of displeasure, “its like Machendra’s left foot”. In the college this was in vogue for quite sometime. Then of course, relentlessness of life takes all tolls. This too was forgotten. Years having passed, we have no idea whatever has happened to our Machendranath.

Of course Machendranath or no Machendranath, ‘my foot’ as a harsh remark to indicate outright rejection has come to stay and is prevalent in the routine discourse among homosapiens the world over.

We Indians, claim ourselves to be the largest democracy in the world. But frankly what constitutes democracy anyway?

Word democracy comes from words-demo and cracy. Demo meaning people and cracy meaning rule or governance. So it is rule by people. Thus, it is regularly quoted as, democracy is a form of government, of the people, by the people and for the people. Oxford dictionary defines democratic, as related to please masses of the people. It infers favouring and practicing social equality.

Thus, it is absolutely clear that democracy means the empowerment of people, the ordinary masses, the faceless multitudes by a form of political government.

Of course, it is impossible that whole of a nation’s population can take part in the legislation that is required to make a nation run. It has to be through the people’s representatives, who are elected through the adult franchise, in vogue in all democratically formed public administrations called governments. And governments are both in federal as well as lower levels called states. Of course it does percolate down to villages, passing through, jilla panchayats, taluk panchayats and village panchayats. So democracy per se touches the entire people of the country.

So, in India, for all the 64 years of its post independence, it has been a democratic system of government, except those emergency interlude of some 21 months, when all democratic functioning were suspended.

Yes, we do breath democracy, at least apparently. Every five years, or as the exigencies arise, we do go to polls to elect our legislators, who include parliamentarians, who make our laws. These laws decide the future course of socio-political and economic life of the nation.

While the system has worked well for all these years, except that brief cessation in the seventies, HAS IT BEEN FAIR TO ALL OF US! IT IS INDEED A DEAFENING NO!

It is very true, that it has greatly failed in favouring and practicing of social equality, which is truly the corner stone of any democracy.

Go back in time, see how larger interest of the masses was compromised at the alter of family interest. These families, who wielded power either by accident of birth or by design of manipulation, used the system to their advantage to perpetuate their hold over the political power and hence the resources of the country.

Abraham Lincoln who coined the definition, ‘government, of the, by the and for the people,’ must be feeling bad wherever his soul is wandering. In India it has been the government of some people, by some people and mostly for some people.

Earliest family to have tasted political power, has been that of Nehru’s. No wonder the family is called ‘the grandest political dynasty of India’. It was not the fault of the Congress party that Nehru belonged to it. But sadly, even after both Nehrus (Motilal and Jawaharlal) were out of the scene, the monolithic political party of India sustained this family culture at the cost of democratic principles. Truly speaking, it is this oldest political party of India, that really killed Indian democratic institutions.

Although Motilal Nehru did not live to be part of the ruling elite post 1947, his son and heir apparent Jawaharlal Nehru became Prime Minister in 1947 soon after independence. He remained there until his death, in 1964. So continuously for 4th term he remained the most powerful politician in the country. Of course he was, prima facie, elected and selected democratically. But, the so-called very democratic Nehru, did not demit the office of Prime Minister, in favour of any of his second-in-commander. It is true that he did not groom his daughter to take over. But the Congress leaders adapt by now, in trying to please the first political family of India, promoted Indira Gandhi, Nehru’s daughter, on the sudden and extremely untimely demise of Lal Bahadur Shastri. Here, it needs to be reiterated that Lal Bahadur Shastri was the cleanest and the most transparent Prime Minister, India ever had. Neither did he promote any of his progeny, nor had he left any money for the family. He was a true servant of people in every sense of the term, and therefore a true democrat. It was indeed a national loss that he died so early within just two years as Prime Minister.

Indira Gandhi remained in power for 12 years from 1966 to 1977, and lost it to Sampoorna Kranti of J.P., to come back again in 1980 and ruled up to 1984, when she was killed by her own body guards. That brought Rajeev Gandhi, the reluctant politician into mainstream national politics. Rajeev remained Prime Minister for a full term from 1984 to 1989 and lost to V P Singh wave, post Bofors scandal.

V P Singh did not promote any of his family members but Rajeev Gandhi and his media friends, like M J Akbar, planted stories of now infamous ‘St. Kitts case’, in an innocuous Kuwaiti paper to discredit V P Singh. Of course nothing came of it. However he was Prime Minister only for one year, Dec. 1989 to Nov.1990. Before he could stage a comeback, Rajiv Gandhi was killed by Sri Lankan Tamil terrorists. In the election that followed Congress managed to cobble up enough support to form govt. at the centre with P.V. Narasimha Rao as P.M. He ruled a full term, the only non Nehru/Gandhi family member to complete the term as PM. He managed to keep the distance from 10 Janpath, the Gandhi residence. Congress men could have rallied round PVN to truly usher democracy into the party. But that was not to be. For the distance PVN tried to create between the govt and the 10 Janpath, he was unceremoniously dumped. An intellectual by his own right, he died a sad man. Congress party remained powerless until 2004, and Sonia Gandhi, the wife of Rajiv Gandhi came back to power to be the de jure head of the state. As was their culture Congress party only promoted the family loyalty. In the process, Congressmen completely forgot the ‘aam aadmi’, whose cause they never fail to make noises about, was left in the lurch.

Then there were other Nehru’s who used the name for political exploitation. Uma Nehru, a cousin of Indira Gandhi was an M.P. Arun Nehru, the nephew of Uma Nehru, was an M.P. and a Minister. Then we cannot forget Vijay Laxmi Pandit, a sister of Jawaharlal Nehru, an M.P. and a diplomat. Unfortunately for Congressmen, using Gandhi name, you have now Rahul Gandhi, an M.P., Priyanka Gandhi waiting in the wings. Besides, two other Gandhis, Maneka, M.P. and a former minister in NDA and Varun Gandhi, an M.P. are in BJP, courtesy, of course, the Gandhi surname.

So Rahul Gandhi, who is aspiring to be the Prime Minister of India, had his father a former Prime Minister, had his grand mother, a former Prime Minister and of course there is the towering personality of Jawaharlal Nehru, the great grand father of Rahul Gandhi, the P.M. in waiting.

So you can imagine, how one family usurped the power to rule and reduced the word democracy into a huge farce.

If Nehru-Gandhi family exploited the political system to their advantage, there were many others who heaped similar indignities on Indians, by taking our great public for granted.

You have this Mishra family from Bihar. Lalit Narayan Mishra (LNM) was a Railway Minister under Indira Gandhi, but had died rather mysteriously. His wife contested for the 7th Loksabha. Vijay Kumar Mishra, the son of LNM, is a BJP-MLA in Bihar was an MP and MLC. Brother of LNM, Jagannath Mishra was Bihar CM so also Union Cabinet Minister. His son Nitesh Mishra, is an MLA and Minister in Bihar. Then you have Gauri Shankar Rajhans, husband of LNM’s niece. He was an M.P.

You have Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family. Laloo has been in active politics for over 4 decades. Has been Chief Minister of Bihar for 3 terms. Under ‘Chaara Ghotala’ scam he resigned and made his illiterate wife Rabri Devi, the Chief Minister of Bihar. Sadhu Yadav and Subash Yadav, both Rabri’s brothers are members of Parliament. Hoisting an illiterate woman as Chief Minister of a state is perhaps the most humiliating insult of Indian democracy.

Karunanidhi family from Tamil Naadu, ruled Tamil Nadu as their personal fiefdom. The DMK, the political party, is run on whims and fancy of octogenarian Muthuvel Karunanidhi. His sons M K Stalin and M K Azhagiri are fighting it out to be the boss of DMK. Stalin was Deputy CM under his father and Azhagiri, was Union Minister in UPA govt. He never attended the parliament since he could not speak any language other than Tamil. Karunanidhi’s daughter is a Rajya Sabha MP. Karunanidhi’s sister’s son Murasoli Maran was a former Union Minister in NDA govt. Dayanidhi Maran, son of Murasoli, was a cabinet minister in UPA until recently.

The Abdullah family of Jammu & Kashmir (J & K), had Sheikh Abdullah, as the first Chief Minister of J & K. His wife Begum Akbar Jahan Abdullah, was an M.P. Son Farooq Abdullah and son-in law G.M. Shah, were both Chief Ministers at different times. Currently Farooq Abdullah is a union Minister with UPA govt., and his son Omar is the CM of J & K. Both father and son were earlier part of NDA and were ministers. Abdullahs never failed to harp on democracy, but they continuously promoted their own family members.

Another Yadav family of Mulayam Singh, he was the Minister in Janata government, was CM of Uttar Pradesh. His nephew Dharmendra Yadav is an MP. His cousin Ram Gopal Yadav is a Rajya Sabha M.P. Son Akhilesh Yadav is now the Chief Minister of UP and his wife Dimple has been elected unopposed to parliament only weeks ago to the seat vacated by her husband. That she was elected unopposed to the Loksabha is truly a joke of our electoral politics.

Scindia family of Gwalior had Rajmatha Vijayraje, a BJP MP. Her son Madhavrao Scindia was the former Union Minister in Rajeev Gandhi govt. His son Jyothiraditya is a Minister in UPA. Rajmatha’s daughter Vasundhara Raje was the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, her sister Yashodhara is an M.P.

Then you have this story of 3 Lal families of Haryana, Devi, Bhajan and Bansi. Devi Lal family, had him as Deputy PM of India. His son Om Prakash Chautala was the Haryana C.M. and both his sons are MLAs. Not lagging behind is Bhajan Lal, who was ex-CM of Haryana. His son Kuldeep Bishanoi is an MP from Hissar. Kuldeep’s wife Renuka is an MLA in Haryana assembly. Chandra Mohan, another son of Bhajan Lal was deputy CM of Haryana. Became infamous for his second marriage by converting to Islam. Bansi Lal family was equally ‘democratic’ in pushing its family members and their interest. He was an ex-CM. His son Surinder Singh was an M.P from Bhivani. His daughter-in-law is an MLA. His grand daughter Shruthi is an M.P. from Mahendragarh. His another son Ranbir Singh Mahendra is an Ex-MLA so also was ex-president of BCCI.

We cannot forget our tribal leader from the north east. He was the Loksabha Speaker. His daughter Agatha Sangma is a minister in UPA govt. One son is CM of Meghalaya and another son a minister. Now Purno Agitok Sangma is hankering to be the 1st citizen, the president of the country, because he is a ‘tribal’. Surely he prides himself as a democrat, but ‘unfortunately’ did not find any other tribal good enough to replace him as a presidential candidate. May be he want to be the ‘greatest’ servant of India and its people. And mind you, nobody is complaining.

Thus there are close to 100 families for whom Indian democracy has been a very fertile ground to profligate and plunder, all in the name of serving the nation and its people.

Theory of political economy, reliably, suggests that ‘Sons & Relatives Pvt. Ltd.’ or dynasticism, should be economically harmful, arguing that, a less competitive political space is likely to deliver less efficient use of public resources. In other words, a writer insists, ‘dynastic politicians who treat their country or state as a family fiefdom are more likely to use public office to enrich themselves rather than promote public good’. More subtly, the stranglehold of a few families on political offices might deter capable members of public from entering politics fearing "No chance" of making it in the hustings.

Commenting on the study-‘The Impact of Dynastic Politics in the Philippines’, Prof Ronald Mendonza had reportedly observed “Political inequality is the mirror image of economic & income inequality.” Mr Mendonza, reportedly notes that ‘political inequality generally and dynastic politics in particular is ‘pernicious’ in so far as it retards a democracy’s ability to respond to its citizens’ needs and people’s empowerment in general.’

If there are these families which are ruling the roost at all levels of political management, there are others, who think they are the only one’s who are born to serve the people, and do not think others too deserve a break.

Long time ago, some 10 years may be, I was sharing the dias with an MLA from coastal Karnataka. He was speaking as one of the guests of honour at a function in Kaapu, near Udupi. In his usual flourish as a politician he said ‘I have already won 6 times, this shall be my 7th attempt to get into the assembly.’ Sadly he took pride in saying so. When my turn came, I posed a question, “While I congratulate our honourable MLA, for all his victories, what about the political future of all those faceless party workers who toiled, day in and day out, to return him victorious to the assembly time and again? When will their turn come to become MLAs?

Of course, it is another matter, MLA was visibly incensed at my chicanery for such an ‘outlandish’ suggestion.

And he is not alone, there are easily hundreds of MLAs, MLCs and MPs of both Loksabha and Rajya Sabha, who are there warming the seats interminably in assemblies, councils across the country and both houses of parliament.

Mr. George Fernandes, a respected name in the political life of the country, too did not think of democratising his political aspirations. He too is an MP for the 8th time. Presently he is very unwell. He has not been in good health since many years. Yet he contested and lost, and courtesy Nitish Kumar, he is made a member of the Rajya Sabha. To-day he is past 82 years, why this hankering for, even to serve the country? When there are younger people, who are mentally alert, physically fit, and equally morally committed, and are waiting in the wings to serve Mother India and her citizens?

Recently, there was this election to Legislative Council of Karnataka. At least 2 of them were contesting for the 5th time. One of them won comfortably, one of them with lot of hick-ups. Both are in their 70’s. They were elected from the graduates constituency. Contesting with one of them was Ashwini Mahesh, a young and qualified technocrat. He had reportedly enlisted some 15000 graduates in his constituency. All that he wanted was 50% of this list to win the seat. But only 4000 plus came and voted. So whom do we blame? If there is rot in the system, it is everybody’s baby. If graduates have failed to vote after registering very freshly, by a competent young candidate, endorsed by no less a person than Justice Santosh Hegde, of Anna Hazare team, where is the hope for young democratic India?

Incidentally one of the above two, who contested from Bangalore Graduates Constituency, who won for the 5th time, had to resign as a minister in BJP government, due to his alleged involvement in the irregularities (read illegal gratification!) in the appointments of faculty members to medical colleges.

Recently one Anshuman Mishra, a Rajya Sabha aspirant wrote a letter to Shri Lal Krishna Advani, the octogenarian BJP leader. He writes, “It is time for you and Dr Murli Manohar Joshi to hang the boot, read books and spend time with your grand kids”. Referring to Shri Advani’s remark that film actor AK Hangal came back to movies at 97, this Mishra countered “Country is not keen on having Hangal but Amir Khan or Ranbir Kapoor, accept this fact and move on”. It is harsh, but is it wrong?

Yes, whether we like it or not, it is time that opportunities should be available politically to a larger section than those who have been tasting it and enjoying it for decades on, without let or hindrance.

Looking back over the 6 decades plus journey of India as a Sovereign Democratic Republic, committed to secure socio-economic & political justice, and ensure equality of opportunity, it is a profoundly mixed feeling of a vast section of our population remaining dependent on the whims and fancy of elected representatives, bureaucracy and sometime even judiciary, making democracy irrelevant. The jinx need to be broken in the overall interest of the nation and the better empowerment of our people, so that the justice enshrined in the constitution becomes a reality.

J. Shriyan

MUSING

We Will Rise………


……When we believe in ourselves.

Thomas Alva Edison. The inventor of the light bulb, was told by his teacher that he was not smart enough to learn anything.

……When our driving force is to leave a legacy for future generation.
Vincent Van Gogh, sold only one painting during his lifetime. But his paintings now adorn the walls of the biggest museums the world over.

……When we move forward despite facing numerous rejections.
J K Rowling. Her manuscripts were rejected by twelve publishers before the hugely successful Harry Potter franchise.

……When we don’t let things that are out of our control defeat us.
Sunil Mittal, was out of business over night due to a govt. policy change. But now he is worth over 9 billion US $.

……When we think outside the box.
Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse and Disney World creator. He was fired by a newspaper editor for lacking great ideas saying mouse has no potential. Went bankrupt many times.

……When we believe in ourselves.
Dhirubhai Ambani was not highly educated, however the company he created was a great financial success.

……When our inner strength doesn’t fail us despite the setback we face.
Abraham Lincoln was defeated number of times for public office. Became the most respected president of United States of America.

……When we persevere despite the odds.
Michael Jordan, was dropped from his High School Team for being not good enough. But became one of the greatest Basket Ball hero of his time.

……When we do not get disheartened by past failures.
Bill Gates, a college drop out. Failed badly in his first venture. But became a legend in his life time with Microsoft.

…..When we settle for nothing less than excellence
Steve Jobs. Was fired from Apple, the company he founded. But came back very powerfully to revolutionise the computer and cellphone industry, besides developing Animation.

…..When we realise that the past will affect the future only if we let it affect.
Albert Einstein. Couldn’t read until nine years of age. Failed in college entrance exam. Went on to win Nobel Prize in Quantum Physics.

….. When we get up taller & stronger no matter how many times we fall.
Amitabh Bachchan. A case of success tattering at the peak. ABCL collapses and a near bankruptcy. Made a great comeback with KBC. Never say die.

MEDICAL FRONTIERS

Musical pacifier for premature babies

New Delhi: Many premature babies enter the world with a mountain of challenges. Even after they overcome any life threatening issues, they face ongoing, and typically unpleasant, medical procedures, long hospital stays and increased chances of chronic health issues throughout their lives.


To help address one of their biggest problems – learning how to suck and feed – Florida State University has announced the availability of the Pacifier Activated Lullaby (PAL) device to hospitals around the world.

The innovative PAL device, which uses musical lullabies to help infants quickly learn the muscle movements needed to suck, and ultimately feed, is being sold through a partnership with Powers Device Technologies Inc. Research studies have shown that PAL can reduce the length of a premature infant’s hospital stay by an average of five days.

“Unlike full-term infants, very premature babies come into the world lacking the neurologic ability to coordinate a suck/swallow/breathe response for oral feeding,” said Jayne Standley, a distinguished Professor of Music Therapy and inventor of the PAL. “The longer it takes them to learn this essential skill, the further behind in the growth process they fall. PAL uses musical lullaby reinforcement to speed this process up, helping them feed sooner and leave the hospital sooner.”

PAL sees a specially wired pacifier and speaker to provide musical reinforcement every time a baby sucks on it correctly. The musical lullabies are gentle and pleasant to the baby making them want to continue the sucking motion so they can hear more of the lullaby.

Clinical studies have shown that infants will increase their sucking rates up to 2.5 times more than infants not exposed to the musical reinforcement.

“It’s amazing to watch how much quicker our babies are able to learn the sucking motion after they have used PAL,” said Terry Stevens, a neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU) nurse at TMH.

In addition to helping premature babies learn to feed quicker, PAL also provides parents with a welcome chance to connect with their babies during this crucial stage of the development process.

PAL provides a chance for parents who have lost a lot of control in the birth process to come in and work directly with their baby as they receive the music therapy. They can begin to have that control back again and really be an active part of the recovery, healing and development of their little one.

Originally envisioned by Standley more than a decade ago, PAL has undergone extensive testing received a US patent and been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Recognising the significant health and economic benefits of PAL, Powers Device Technologies obtained the distribution and marketing rights and has launched a worldwide sales initiative.

“After years of research and clinical studies to prove how effective this technology is at solving developmental issues in preterm infants, we are thrilled to be working with Florida State University to bring PAL to market,” said P. Kathleen Lovell, president and CEO of Powers Device Technologies.

As premature birth rates continue to rise, PAL demonstrates how the power of music is being harnessed to help premature infants overcome their developmental challenges. “Many of these babies undergo daily medical procedures that, while necessary, result in added stress, pain and anxiety for the infant,” Standley said. “Using a device that actually gives them comfort while they learn an essential life skill is a valuable complement to NICU care.”

OF HUMAN BONDAGE

38 years on, KEM refuses to give up on Aruna

As soon as the morning staff assumed duty at the busy KEM hospital, they cut a cake and sang ‘Happy Birthday’. KEM hospital’s former staff nurse Aruna Shanbaug had turned 64. When she was made to taste a bit of cream from her birthday cake, her pursed lips broke out into a faint hint of smile. A huge colourful greeting card was later brought to Shanbaug’s bedside, on which there were scribbled good wishes.


Aruna is paralysed. She’s been this way ever since she was raped.

Thirty-eight years ago, Shanbaug who was then working as a staff nurse in the hospital, was brutally assaulted on the neck with a dog chain by a ward boy over a scuffle that had ensued between them the previous day. The entire night after the assault occurred she lay bleeding in the basement of the old hospital building. She had suffered a grievous brain injury.

Birthdays are meant to end on a happy note. Sadly enough, Shanbaug’s birthdays have always been clouded with controversy and heated debate.

Even as social activist Pinki Virani has been fervently arguing for getting Aruna Shanbaug passively euthanized, staff nurses at KEM hospital get agitated at any mention of ‘mercy-killing’ in Aruna Shanbaug’s case. International norms allow passive euthanasia where treatment and feed required for supporting the life of a patient who may be terminally ill is withheld. This would eventually lead to death of the patient. Last year in March, the Supreme Court of India passed this law detailing very minutely the conditions under which this may be carried out.

Though Shanbaug suffers from a condition that has debilitated her for life, the nurses say she is not ‘terminally ill’.

Contrary to popular opinion, Shanbaug even if bed ridden is not in a vegetative state.

“When spoken to, her attention moves towards the speaker. She reacts to old Lata Mangeshkar songs that we play near her bed on the tape recorder. It is inhumane to end some one’s life like that under the pretext of mercy killing,” said KEM hospital’s matron Swati Bhide.

Nurses further point out that in a PIL filed by Virani a few years ago, the Supreme court had rejected her appeal to be declared as Shanbaug’s ‘next best friend.’ Virani is still pressing for the KEM hospital staff to ‘change their mind’ by filing a mercy killing plea for Shanbaug in the Bombay High Court.

The KEM hospital staff, however, is dead against such a step. “The SC has reaffirmed the nurses stand that it is they who are shanbaug’s next best friends from the legal viewpoint, not Virani.

“Aruna is fed every four hours through a naso gastric tube. She is not suffering from any disease. She has not even developed a single bedsore since all these years. How can we let one of us die like this?” questions a staff nurse at KEM hospital.

The nurses however do not take

FEATURE

When society loses its sense of shame!


The release of A Raja, the erstwhile telecom minister accused of corruption on bail and the related news, revealed the depth to which we have descended. He was given a hero’s welcome befitting someone who won an Olympic gold and in the evening of his release, the report suggests that there was gala party with lots of fanfare at his house where hundreds participated. Couple of years before, when the Chairman of Indian Bank was arrested and taken to jail he waved to the crowd as if he is a freedom fighter taken in by the Britishers.

Kalmadi has his posters all over Pune and other accused in several scams are given coverage on television and in print media as if they are icons including their eating habits/reading habits etc.
There has been an explosion of modernism or, to quote a TV anchor, “the sublime assertion of modern thinking” in the last few years. One was the celebration by homosexuals after the Delhi High Court ruled that homosexuality is not a criminal activity. As if society anytime considered it criminal. Society considered it a mental case or perversion, but never criminal.
But the queer crowd had their parades; they re-christened themselves as LGTB (Lesbian-Gay-Trans-Gender and Bi-sexual), dragging in even the bi-sexual as fellow travelers. They claimed to belong to a minority and demanded human rights. Our 24-hour ‘breaking news’ TV mafias and main stream media (MSM) jumped into the fray. Incidentally gays are called MSM, Men having Sex with Men, the same abbreviation for our incredible main stream media.
For a few weeks, it was made to appear that being gay is the most virtuous thing, and if a girl is not lesbian she is missing out on something profound. I do not know how many TV anchors or MSM of the news variety editors would encourage their children to belong to that exalted category of LGTB.
It was bizarre to the core and revealed the slow but sure development of putting shamelessness on a pedestal and worshipping it. Homosexuals were always present in India even before Macaulay made them criminals by Section 377. But who cared? People may giggle but nobody was arrested being gay. Society treated them with the indulgence appropriate to such a category. Shyness prevented society from castigating them. Nor did it punish them. Christopher Isherwood was alleged to have been a homosexual. He was not berated for it. One of his friends in Calcutta reputedly jocularly commented to him not to entice young Bengali boys. Christopher was an erudite scholar associated with the Ramakrishna Mission; his works on the Upanishads are highly rated. The point is that he was neither glorified for his sexual orientation nor berated.
For instance the other MP arrested with A Raja is Kanimozhi who is referred to as daughter of Karunanidhi even though he never married her mother. Strictly speaking in the old world tradition she is illegitimate and so is Rekha who took oath as Rekha Ganesan. Gemini Ganesan never married her mother Pushpavalli. But as they say in USA that illegitimate is new normal.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi was alleged to have indulged in sexual act in his official chamber with an advocate and supposedly promised to make her a judge. He is still a member of Rajya Sabha and only social media like Face Book and Twitter exposed the so-called deviant behaviour while as main line media and other politicians kept quiet.
The second is more bizarre. There was a cartoon pornographic portal which portrayed a lustful and ever sexually indulgent lady called Savita Bhabhi. She was always having sex with assorted groups like door-to-door salesmen to neighbourhood kids to fashion show referees; the site was located in London. Its owner came out from his assumed name of Deshmukh to the real name of Puneet Agarwal. When his real identity became known, his family and community were aghast and he was forced to stop it.
Pritish Nandy, writer and film producer, wrote in a national daily that “Savita Bhabhi is a symbol of freedom, of empowerment, of the sexuality our women can wield if they are allowed to escape the sham world we Indian men trap them in because of our own fears of sexual inadequacy masquerading as machismo.”
Adman and TV commentator Suhel Seth added that “the fact that she was called ‘Bhabhi’ indicates a perverseness that always existed (in India) but we were in denial about.” This is the level of our mental bankruptcy and moronic approach to any social issue. There are many more of this type parading as intellectuals and social activists. These vultures are for the philosophy of anything goes. It is for the TRP and not for any value system.
The family of Puneet Agarwal itself felt that he cannot do just any business just to get a return on investment. That man was shamed by his family and community, but the TRP crowd was in a nauseating brawl with government, regulators and all types of societal values, oblivious that they were shaming themselves.
This trend started with the former Minister of Child Welfare (Renuka Chowdhary) starting a movement to fill up pubs with young girls as some girls were attacked in a pub in Mangalore by some fringe elements. The print media and TV, particularly the MSM variety, made a big issue of it and encouraged young boy and girls to go to pubs and drink. Drinking was made a virtue in the name of freedom and right.
Indian society is accommodative and understands the complex of human nature. It does not insist on linear behaviour. The supercilious have made a grave error of superimposing Western debate on Indian society.
We think that when shamelessness is equated with freedom and modernity, there is a need for transparency and full disclosure. The denizens, anchors, editors, and correspondents who parade such shamelessness as sacred should disclose whether they belong to such category? Whether they are from happily married families or from broken families? Whether they will encourage their wives and Bhabhis to behave in such fashion since it is a symbol of freedom?
They should also disclose their love life, family life and children who go to school and provide information if such “freedoms” are encouraged and provided to them. If not, others will put it in the public domain. These anchors and editors cannot get away from personal responsibility and personal behaviour when they speak of societal norms.
It is high time our social media at least expose these vermin who are out to peddle poison as freedom, and perversion as sacred. Let us understand the importance of shyness in some situations, and appreciate silence in many situations. There are still concepts of virtues, shame and perversions, and let it not be forgotten in the TRP race.
(The author is professor of Finance at IIM Bangalore-Views expressed are personal)


Bedside Medicine- A Forgotten Art.

“One kind word can warm three winter months.”

Japanese saying.


“Art” wrote, Henry David Thoreau, “is that which makes another man’s day”. One kind word on the bedside can cure many ills. The art of medicine is that which should make the patient’s day. In fact, the summit of all efforts in the field of medical care delivery is the coming together of two human beings-the one who is ill or imagines to be ill and the other in whom the first has confidence. This is called medical consultation. All else in medicine should really flow from this summit. “Know your patient better than his disease” was the opinion of the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates. Having worked under some of the giants of clinical medicine both in India and abroad, I feel sorry for the patient as also for the doctors of today who think that the hi-tech investigations give them the diagnosis and management strategies.

Hardly anyone talks with the patients these days. Most of the big bosses make what they call the “chart rounds” in the ward side rooms where all the details of the patients, including the scanners and X-rays, are kept. Little time is spent on the bed side. The present jargon for good medical practice is “euboxic medicine” where all the right boxes should be ticked in the computerised case sheet. Whether the patient feels better or worse is of no consequence. “Patient doing well do not interfere” wrote Sir William Osler, a great clinician of the last Century. “God give me deliverance from-treating suffering human beings as cases, not letting the well alone, and making my interventions worse than his disease,” was the daily prayer of Hutchinson. If you talk to a present day sub-specialist, he/she would say that all those ancient timers didn’t have the array of scopes and scanners that we have today!

Recently a triple blind, computerized, prospective study was undertaken in London by some of the great teachers in different medical schools there-John Mitchell, John Hampton, Michel Harrison and Carol Seymour, to name a few of them- to study the role of listening to the patient and reading the referral letter from the family doctor vis-à-vis examining the patient physically and investigating the patient with all the gadgets including the positron emission tomography, in the diagnosis of medical out-patients. These giants were all students of Lord Platt at the University College Hospital London. Platt had written in 1949 that “if one were to listen to the patient long enough the patient would give away his/her diagnosis.” Platt’s students, who now have access to all hi-tech stuff, wanted to check the veracity of his statement.

This study was published in the British Medical Journal. The study showed, to everyone’s delight, that 80% of the accurate final diagnosis and one hundred per cent of the future management strategies could be arrived at, at the end of listening to the patient and reading the referral letter. This could only be refined 4% more by all the physical examinations and only 8% per cent by all the investigations including the PET scanner! A very strong message there from a very robust study, indeed. This will be a boon to all doctors ready to practice even in a remote village. Unfortunately, all our doctors are trained within the four walls of the five star hospitals where their teachers rely only on the modern gadgets. It is not a surprise that such doctors tomorrow will feel frustrated to practise medicine without those gadgets. The new trend is being propped up by the industry through their indirect advertisements under the guise of scientific data.

Every disease, in a manner of speaking, is “slightly mental”. Diseases start in the human mind and also end there. If one wants to get a grip on the patient’s problems one will have to have an inkling into the patients mind-his worries, his anxieties, his fears, his obsessions, his spirituality, his environment, his family ties and his problems-all of which will have a say in the final outcome. These important aspects of the disease management could only be gauged by listening to the patient. In his beautiful book Talking with Patients, Prof. James Calnan, who was Emeritus professor of Plastic Surgery at the Hammersmith Hospital, London goes to great lengths to show that “talking with” or listening to patients is an art that should be mastered by every medical student. (Calnan J: Talking with patients - a guide to good practice. William Heinemarn Medical Books, London. 1983. 151 pages.)

In our days we were to follow the foot steps of our teachers by observing how they talked to and listened to patients in the out patients as also on the bed side. This is absent in today’s atmosphere. That breed of teachers is almost extinct like the dinosaurs. Even the so called bed-side clinics are now conducted in what they call the ward side teaching rooms where another mini didactic lecture takes place on the patient’s problems! Real beside clinics should happen on the bedside where the patient could be observed carefully even while he is talking. His facial expressions, showing his internal turmoil, could be a pointer sometimes to the final diagnosis. Sir William Osler had a prescription for all doctors to have two great qualities on the bed side-imperturbability and aequanimitas- equanimity and the capacity not be perturbed under any circumstances on the bed side. These two, in their absence, could send wrong signals to an anxious patient.

Some of the important clinical research data in the field of modern medicine have emanated from the bed side. Genuine clinical research is nothing but a question on the bed side and the effort to go as far away from the bed as needed to get an answer! Some of my original works, reported in the prestigious journals abroad, have come from the bed side. Time spent by the students on the bedside will bear fruit in the long run to make them very good humane doctors. Every patient is another human being in distress and needs to be understood with compassion before being treated with drugs or surgery. A good doctor knows how to treat from the books, a better doctor would know when to treat from the books again, but the best doctor knows when not to treat from his bedside experience only. Our present biggest problem is over treatment, resulting in adverse drug reactions and over interventions.

IN conclusion, one could easily say that if one trains himself/herself to be a good bedside clinician one would have achieved great success in dealing with patients. One must learn to listen- a very difficult art, indeed. Medicine is basically an art based on the scientific foundation that seems to be shaky. If doctors have done any good to the suffering humanity that was mainly because of their bed side skills and not based on the faulty science of reductionism. “Cure rarely, comfort mostly, but console always” was the advice of Hippocrates and still remains valid to this day of hi-tech stuff. To practice each one of them the doctor must be a great communicator. Pain and suffering were the problems for our ancestors in medicine and they are our problems today and will remain the problems for the future generation of doctors as well.

So bed side medicine will remain the sheet anchor of medical management for all times to come. Time was when medicine was purely paternalistic where the doctor was considered God and he/she did what he/she wanted. Today it is gradually becoming more of an equal partnership where the patient takes part in his /her management. It is more important today to know one’s patient than it was in the day’s gone by-all the more reason why today’s doctors should be better bedside clinicians and communicators. Long live the fine art of doctoring.

“They also serve who stand and wait.”
John Milton.

to be contnd. in next issue...

YEH MERA INDIA

Techie thieves
Nagpur: As power distribution companies intensify their drive against power theft, pilferers are adopting the latest technology to outsmart them.

Spanco Vigilance officials detected power theft at a hotel on Central Avenue. The device used to tamper with the meter shocked officials, as it was highly sophisticated and even veterans said they had never come across anything like this.
The power pilferage was found at Shivraj Hotel, which had two meters in the name of Jagdish Gupta. The total theft assessment was Rs 7.87 lakh. Spanco officials suspected power theft because power consumption at the hotel had reduced suddenly two years ago.
The most shocking aspect of the device is that it does not leave any evidence of theft. Several cases of power theft using remote controlled devices have come to light of late, but to use the remote you have to install a sensor in the electricity meter by tampering with it. The earlier electrostatic meters could be manipulated even with a magnet, but electronic meters are immune to them.
The device found generated an electrostatic discharge. It was the size of a compass box used by school students. The user could keep it anywhere and only when he wanted to tamper with the meter does he have to fit a wire loop and place the devices and the loop near the meter.
The device has an electronic circuit and a coil, which get activated on pressing a small button. The device produces high voltage and high frequency discharge, which creates a small spark in the meter. The meter gets “hanged” and does not record electricity consumption. When the user wants the meter to function normally, he reactivates it using the same method.

Man acquitted after 20 yrs in jail
Mumbai: A man, who spent two decades in jail serving a life sentence on charges of murdering his son, has been acquitted by the Bombay High Court on the ground that evidence against him “did not inspire confidence and was not at all free from doubt”. Laxman Gangaram Zinna, hailing from Andhra Pradesh, was ordered to be released from Yerwada prison in Pune.
Who will pay for his 20 years lost!

Poor Bengal mom sells her child for Rs 2,000!
Kolkata: Unable to take care of her seven-month-old child due to extreme poverty, a mother in West Bengal’s Nadia district sold her infant to a meat seller for Rs 2,000, reports media.

Rinku Das, a recently widowed mother of two from Krishnanagar in Nadia district which is some 105 km from Kolkata, said she was compelled to sell her second child – a girl – as she found it difficult to take care of her.
“I do not have a livelihood. Whatever I had, is already sold. It had become very difficult for me to feed myself and the children. So, I sold my younger child for Rs 2,000,” said Das.
Das sold the child to Madhav Saha, her neighbourhood and a meat seller. Saha, who is childless, was very happy to accept the child.
“Yes, I bought the baby for Rs 2,000. I do not have a child and I am very happy to get her,” Das said.
Though police have not arrested them, they called both Das and Saha and asked the mother to take back the child.
“It is illegal to sell the baby. We know it is difficult for the mother to take care of the child. But for the welfare of the baby, it is necessary that she stays with her mother,” said an officer of Krishnangar police station.
“Though Das was willing to take back her child, Saha been reluctant and coaxing us to allow him to keep the baby,” the officer added.

“Officer is sold out” – Court shocked
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court while hearing a habeas corpus filed by a grandmother seeking custody of her grandchildren, expressed shock over the callous attitude of the police and the Child Welfare committee (CWC) and reunited five minor children with their guardians after they were kept in a remand home for over two months and ordered an enquiry into the matter saying,” this conduct (of police) indicates that the officer is sold out.”

The petitioner Sushila Jain, alleged in the petition that her stepdaughter, Smita Modi, filed a false trespassing case to first get her and her daughter, Suneeta Sharma, arrested and while they were getting a bail, Modi forcibly took the children to Azad Maidan police station and the police later sent them to Dongri remand home. The six children, Jain’s maternal granddaughter (4), paternal grandson (13), two children of her uncle’s son (12, 10) and two children of her deceased servant (7, 5), had came to Mumbai to celebrate Christmas. Jain said, “They were here on vacation but were snatched from us and we were made to run from pillar to post to produce evidence that they were ours.” Sharma said, “After over a month I could only free my four-year-old biological daughter and they asked me to apply for legal guardianship for all the other children.” The children who had come from Bangalore with Jain’s daughter Suneeta Sharma have been in her custody and care, however not legally adopted.
The division bench of justices V M Kanade and P D Kode remarked, “We don’t believe that policemen can act in such a heartless manner... A lady brings six small children to you, what steps do you take to check the guardian of the children or the intention of the lady?”
The court also rapped the CWC and asked them what authority the police had to send children to CWC without checking for their guardian. Justice Kode remarked, “We are surprised that the CWC representative is still vehemently justifying their stand.” The court said, “How could the police send the kids to a remand home without proper investigation, this is absolute high-handedness. We are going to direct the government to take action against the investigating officer.”

Women power in Mumbai Fire BrigadesMumbai: For the first time in its history of 125 years, the Mumbai Fire Brigade has admitted women officers. These three women officers will not only fight fires but also handle the administration of their respective fire stations.


Four months ago, women had already broken into the fire brigade, when six women cleared the rigorous physical and theoretical tests to become entry-level, firemen.
The appointment of these female officers, though, marks the entry of women into the men-only, macho officers’ club.
Assistant Station Fire Officers Shwetambari Jadhav (24), Sunita Patil (25) and Shubhangi Mandale (24) received their postings in April this year.
The three proud female officers credit their families for encouraging them on their difficult journey. Shwetambari Jadhav and Sunita Patil of Nerul are the first from their respective families to work in firefighting, but Shubhangi Mandale has an uncle working in the field.
These officers have gone through six months of training. The training was conducted from 7 am to 5 pm at the fire brigade facilities in Wadala. From their faraway residences, commuting to the training grounds in the early hours must have been almost as grueling as the physical training. The women recruits learned how to climb down in ladder with a wounded colleague on their shoulders, how to douse a fire with standard equipment, and how to keep themselves fit with daily exercise.
The women officers received the same training given to their male counterparts, said Krishna Yadav, Station Fire Officer, Byculla, presently their boss.

12-yr-old boy clears XII after cracking IIT-JEE!
Patna : After cracking the highly competitive Indian Institute of Technology-Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE), Satyam Kumar, the 12-and-half-year-old boy from Bihar has now passed Class 12 with 85 percent marks, reports media. WE ARE LIKE THIS ONLY

Satyam has become the youngest in the country to clear the Class 12 Central Board of secondary Education (CBSE) examination, family sources claimed.
Satyam, a resident of Bakhorapur village in Bhojpur district, cleared IIT-JEE from the Mumbai zone with an all-India rank of 8,137. He has been the youngest yet to crack what is considered to be the toughest qualifying exam in the country.
Satyam is currently studying in Rajasthan’s Kota town, well known for its IIT-JEE coaching centres. He stays with his younger brother and uncle. Satyam had also done his Class 10 from Modern School in Kota.
“We are happy and celebrating his rare success. After all, it is a matter of pride for the family, village and the state,” Satyam’s uncle Rampukar Singh told media over telephone.
Singh said, “’CBSE officials informed us that Satyam is the youngest to clear Class 12. The entire village is upbeat because he has become a role model for others.”
The village celebrated his success by bursting firecrackers and consuming sweets when he cracked IIT-JEE on May 18.
Satyam is busy preparing for next year’s IIT-JEE. After cracking IIT-JEE this year, he made it clear that he would not join IIT because of his poor rank. He will attempt next year for a better rank.
Kumar’s father, Sidhnath Singh, a farmer, is proud of him. He said his son was intelligent since early childhood.


Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority or MHADA has been in the news for a long time for its lottery draw to allot flats it has built for citizens in and around Mumbai. It has, reportedly, 2517 flats in different locations, for different income groups. Income groups are, Higher known as HIG, Middle known as MIG and Lower known as LIG. Reportedly it is a very transparent process of allotment based on specific qualifications like number of years of stay in Maharashtra and of course, the income stipulation. In its attempts to be transparent, MHADA had reportedly uploaded the list of all eligible applicants on its website. That certainly eliminates influence peddling. But as usual had left a little window ajar. No reference to the receipt number was given to locate the applicants' details. Since there were reportedly, 140,868 candidates applied and eligible, it would be indeed very herculean to go through it, except by down loading the details and taking a printout, which also could be a huge effort.

However, what is interesting is the eventual elimination and rejection of 11,179 applications. Surely, it must have been quite a task for MHADA officials to screen this over 1.50 lakh applications to arrive at this staggering number of rejection.
Very interesting dimension of this exercise has been the reasons for rejection of these applications. Details published by MHADA shows the usual mindset of most Indians, if not all. Applications were rejected on following grounds. There were 6385 applications who applied under different income groups. The idea is to hit the jackpot, any one is fine, since these MHADA houses are less costly as compared to private builders or developers. Then there were 3995 applicants, with different names but with same bank account numbers. PAN was another detail in 177 applications, where it was repeated. Also 688 candidates had more than one application in same category. Of course there were 4 genuine applicants rejected because the names in Demand Draft and application were not same.
Of course for the record, these obvious discrepancies are supposedly criminal offenses to be persued against applicants. Reportedly MHADA soft pedelled the criminal angle for the sheer size of rejected applications.
Thus it was an Indian psyche on display, dishonesty writ large. Why are we like this or is it we are like this only?                                                                                                                                   - J Shriyan


MONTH THAT WAS

Man spits on Putin’s portrait - Jailed
Moscow: A man in Russia has been sentenced for 15 days in prison for spitting on President Vladimir Putin’s portrait, RIA Novosti reported. Dmitry Karuyev, an opposition activist who is a member of the Other Russia movement, was detained as he staged one-man protest outside the offices of the ruling United Russia party in Cheboksary city on the eve of Putin’s May 7 inauguration for a third term.

Police said Karuyev’s actions could have triggered disorder. “He did indeed spit on it, but it was just his way of expressing his views,” Karuyev’s lawyer Alexei Glukhov said. “You cannot punish people for that.”

‘Kidney stone belt’ - Bore wells to blame?
Mumbai : Areas adjoining Latur, Ahmedpur, Kej, Kalamb and Ambajogai in Marathwada are fast becoming the “kidney stone belt” region, a leading urologist has said. “There has been a drastic increase in kidney stone patients from these areas, specially during the last month, “Latur-based urologist Dr Hansraj Baheti told. The gravity of the situation is so serious that on a single day, the Baheti hospital in Latur received 22 cases of kidney stone, he said. Baheti Hospital, along with social organisations Madyam and Samaj Bharati, have distributed over 50,000 pamphlets in these areas, mentioning the precautions to be taken to avoid sunstroke and kidney stones. “Drink plenty of water is what we tell people,” Baheti said. During the scorching summer heat, people should drink large amount of water at regular intervals, he added. A major reason for formation of kidney stones is dehydration. Drinking bore well water is also a key contributor to these cases, Bheti said.


At 86, Queen works more than British MPs
London: In what should be a wakeup call for British parliamentarians, 86-year-old Queen Elizabeth II has worked far more days this year than any member of parliament, the Daily Express reported. Diamond Jubilee pageant on the Thames River was her 80th day of official engagements in 2012.

MPs, in contrast, have been in Westminster for only 72 days. The British daily reported that in the middle of a two-week half-term break, MPs have had 38 weekdays off so far this year-almost double the holiday allowance for most people in the country.
By the end of this year, according to the parliamentary calendar, MPs will have been at Westminster for 151 days and have had 110 weekdays and bank holidays off.

11 cement majors guilty of price cartelisation - CCI fines 
New Delhi: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is believed to have slapped penalty of about Rs.3,000 crore on 11 big cement manufacturers, found guilty of being involved in price cartel, a high-level source said.

“The CCI has found 11 cement firms guilty of cartelisation. A penalty of eight percent of their three-year’s average turnover will be imposed on them,” he said. The cumulative turnover of these companies is around Rs. 37,500 crore.
Most top cement firms have been indicted by the CCI. Cement companies, however, declined to comment, saying that they have not seen the order.
The CCI was probing the cartelisation charges based on complaints from realtors’ body, Builders Association of India (BAI), which alleged that the retail prices fixed by cement manufacturers were almost similar.
The highest penalty prescribed is the Competition Act, 2002, is 10 percent of three-year’s average turnover.

Kidney transplant ring exposed in China
Beijing: A kidney trafficking gang has been busted in a Chinese city and its ringleader, who was housing kidney-sellers in a residential complex, has been arrested. Police rescued all the 28 individuals who were staying in the residential complex in Hangzhou city, Shanghai Daily, reported. The gang found sellers at railway stations, took them to a hospital for physical examination and provided them accommodations as they waited for kidney-removal surgery.

53 mts of road caves in
Mumbai: Nearly 53 meters of Old Nagardas Road in Andheri (East) caved in. The huge damage resulted in a big crater of about 20 feet in length. Much to the chagrin of commuters, the vehicular movement was affected very badly in the area due to the sudden collapse of the road which was built on Mogara Nullah. One auto-rickshaw and a two-wheeler fell into the crater and consequently five persons got trapped in it.

However, the local people were generous enough to help in rescuing those trapped. The victims were immediately rushed to the nearby hospitals. No major injuries have been reported.
“The houses located across the nullah have been affected. Some walls have developed cracks and some even collapsed. The injured were treated in the hospital and discharged by evening as the injuries were minor. I am trying to find out whether the contractor concerned had used any third grade material to construct the road. If the contactor is found guilty I will appeal to BMC to award compensation to the victims,” said corporator Sandhya Yadav.

Bihar bans gutka and paan masala

Patna: The Bihar government imposed a ban on the manufacture, sale and storage of gutka and paan masala in the state. Officials in the chief minister’s office said the health department had issued a notification to this effect, reports media. Bihar has become the third state after Kerala and Madhya Pradesh to ban paan and gutka products.


143 children die due to encephalitis strain in Bihar
Patna: fourteen more children died of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar, taking the toll due to the disease since May to 143, an official said. The toll in the outbreak of the AES stood at 143 till date while 73 others were undergoing treatment at various hospitals in the state, Additional Secretary (Health) R P Ojha told reporters.

The highest number of 86 children have died in Muazzafarpur while the toll in the Patna Medical College and Hospital stood at 46, the health official said.
The AES cases have stabilised Gaya district where 11 children have died and 20 patients were undergoing treatment at the Anugrah Narayan Magadh College and hospital, Ojha said. Altogether 10 districts have been declared as sensitive in the wake of concentration of the disease and special monitoring being carried out to contain the disease, he said.