Saturday, September 15, 2012

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends
One more independence day has come and gone into the history. 15th Aug was a holiday, as usual, as the Sun set in the western horizon, it was yet another day like the remaining 364 days. Did the day make any difference to the 1200+million Indians? was a question stared at us. We, like our systemic confusion, were groping for answers. After 65 years, while as a nation, we have progressed, both socially and economically, to an extent, the unfinished agenda is nowhere near complete. We have had only political freedom on 15th Aug 1947, what about freedom from hunger, freedom from child labour, freedom from malnutrition, freedom from sickness, freedom from homelessness, freedom of sanitary privacy, freedom from half nakedness, freedom of equal opportunities, freedom from discrimination and persecution on ethnic, religious and linguistic differences? List of deprivation is long and majority of Indians, of all hues, are struggling to cope with vicissitudes, we call the life. Of course, there is a section who have enjoyed all freedom and continue to enjoy the freedom in all its pervasive forms. Tragedy is, this section does not recognise the shared value of freedom from want. Successive governments have failed to address the issue, while weeping for the poor but siding the rich. “Progress is more plausible judged by the reduction of deprivation than by the further enrichment of the opulent” wrote Amartya Sen, some years ago. Somehow we could never come to grips with the issues plaguing the nation for all these years. It was indeed a massive failure of Governance.
However, another reflection of an evolving India, La Annas, La Ramdevs and of course our literate voters who had always ignored to vote thus helping wrong candidates to win. In the Focus we have discussed whether it is the educated who truly let India down. Hope our readers shall find it interesting and revert with their feedback.
Yes, a very important and significant news is that this is our 150th edition, since we started some 12 years ago. Looking back, we have every right to feel happy and satisfied the way ISSUES & CONCERNS has evolved. While there have been flood of goodwill and congratulatory statements, the sad truth is our circulation has not kept pace the sentiments of our valued readers. Our Guru, Guide and mentor Dr MV Kamath, has been very kind and highly approbative of our attempts at keeping the periodical in good health both in appearance and contents. Good people always have good thing to say. So he has been very kind in legitimising our efforts. As a humble practitioner of print journalism, we humbly bow in reverence to his warm feelings. To you Sir, “Guruve Thasmai Namaha”. We at I & C promise to keep his trust and confidence intact in coming days

 

MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE



KARNATAKA: It was almost the repeat of ‘Amnesia’ pub attack in Mangalore few years ago. For a sensation hungry media, waiting to pounce on the BJP government in Karnataka it was almost divine intervention. For days  together all local news papers have been covering with thousands of words to tell the sensation hungry readers and viewers that it was a bit of a national catastrophe, a bit of media bonanza. Yes, the 'Morning Mist' Home Stay, the epicenter of the 'earth shattering' news, a mini party hot-spot, was attacked by allegedly a Hindu outfit.
A group of youth were birthday partying, reportedly with beer and music in this private house owned by some NRIs, but rented only for parties-probably on 24 hours basis, which means if anybody wants to spend night after the party, its covered. It is true that the allowance for extended night stay does give room to all kinds of interpretations. In this case, it is alleged that the house was rented for 2 days week end. So, it was planned for 2 days, when birthday is only for one day.
But then, it was  purely a private affair, and there was no scope for anybody to interfere, as long as it was not a law and order issue. For law and order there is police, which means moral police, or this Hindu outfit who are ostensibly ‘outraged’ at the Indian culture being denigrated, had simply no roles. If details are to be believed these goons of this moral police were most indecent with girls, which have to be condemned and dealt with utmost toughness. If the media is to be believed, reportedly the government in Bangalore has taken it very seriously. Hope, they mean business and show the place to these moral police outfits. Only request with the media is to have some sense of proportion in its coverage. It does no good to the media.

JHARKHAND: If Karnataka’s moral police or culture vultures, in Mangalore, have been bad, in Ranchi it was worst. One Jharkhand Mukthi Sangh, has put out posters threatening acid attacks, if girls do not wear dupatta or wear jeans. Reportedly as per these posters ban will start from 20/8/2012, and attack will start immediately thereafter should anybody be found wearing jeans or without dupatta. It appears, there is a competition between Talibans and Indian moral police, who will go one up, in going down. Suddenly why this streak is becoming more pronounced? No, there cannot be a let up in the police crackdown on these groups, who are not only using violence as a form of protest, but also creating unease by their utterances and actions. These aberrations have to be nipped in the bud.

GUJARAT: 2014 is not far away, less than two years for the Lok Sabha elections. So, the political parties calculating their plus and minus, combinations and permutations, is the done thing. Surely, the high profile BJP face of Narendra Modi is no different. For Modi, even the state election due late this year is also a matter of concern. It is this election that shall decide his future role in national politics. If he romps home with ease and majority, then his claim for a larger role becomes more assured. Hence the news that “Modi bid to rebuild bridges with Muslims” should not surprise any. After all he too is a politician, may be, reportedly incorruptible. He has credentials which can catapult him for bigger national roles. But he is not acceptable to a significant section of electorates, cutting across socio/religious divide. He probably realises, that the ghost of 2002, is still haunting the Gujarat landscape. Time and economic development has pushed the harrowing memories to the background. There is an element of hope in the air. But bitterness among those who suffered shall linger, of course with much less degree. Time heals and economic improvement heals it further. But it is politics, which shall always try to keep the memory of those dark days alive. Media plays its own vested interest cards. But Narendra Modi need to recognise that, it is not bread & butter alone that influence peoples’ psyche. A comforting, well meaning and sincere approach to reach the aggrieved shall not only improve his personal stock among those aggrieved, even those liberals who have not suffered, but would like to go with an incorrupt leader shall have won over. Reportedly he has steadfastly refused to apologise for the 2002 suffering of Gujarat’s public. Nothing so far, has indicted him personally, but in the interest of the society-at-large, an apology can go a very long way, as leader of the state, in mending the crack, which may not be wide but visible all the same. In fact, this will stump the entire opposition to him, in tracks, and bloom harmony and social bonhomie not seen anywhere in India. ‘Hang me if Guilty’, is a mere rhetoric, which will only please his Hindu hardliners, and they do not constitute India, not even Gujarat.

HARYANA: It has become an Indian bane, that those who are powerful can, not only buy the system, they can unmistakably influence the course of law. If you are a son of a senior police officer, or a senior police officer involved in punishable crime, it is not only, not ‘easy’ for police to find him, or fix him, but when under public pressure, even if they are ‘caught’ or  made to ‘surrender’ they jump the bail at the drop of a hat. Sometime they even vanish, as the son of the former DGP of Orissa, never to be ‘found’. Same is the case of Haryana’s former Minister Gopal Kanda, who is accused of abetting the suicide of his former female employee. Despite police in Delhi acting on the suicide note, where the victim clearly accused the minister and his aide one Aruna Chaddha and asking the minister to appear before the DCP P.Karunakaran, even after 10 days he is not ‘traceable’. During the period of dilly dallying by the police, when the minister was giving interview on the issue, the minister ‘managed to vanish’ with or without the help of powers that be. Of course, court has denied the minister anticipatory bail on technical ground that it has been applied by a third party and hence application being untenable. But fact of the matter is, in India, law is a football, for those with money and power. If victims and their families cannot fight, there shall be no case. Police will be more than happy to close the case. This is indeed a tragedy of people who are vulnerable as we celebrate 65 years of our independence.                                                                                                                                                  

MAHARASHTRA:There were this report datelined Mumbai, “Twenty defaulter builders to be blacklisted”. The report informs that these builders, 20 of them, owe to Mumbai Municipal Corporation some Rs: 650/-  crores. This money is due on the government land developed by these builders and sold it to private individuals. They are supposed to pay 20% of the agreed premium initially before the commencement of the development. 60% on sale and 20% on getting Occupation Certificate (OC). But in all cases its only the 20% that the government is reportedly getting. According to the report, some of the cases are pending since 1996. Thus these cases are already 16 years late and the government is only black-listing them, which means that these defaulters will not get any more land for development, informs Mr Raju Pednekar, Chairman of Law Committees. But, excuse me Sir, these contractors have already vanished with the 80% of the money due to the government, besides the sale proceeds of the property developed and sold. Apparently there is no case registered against these builders to recover the money due to the public exchequer. Not only it is so late in the day, but also no action is taken with the urgency it deserved. ‘WHO’S FATHER’S WHAT GOES’. Government’s money is nobody’s money. Surely things like this happen all across India, not merely in the efficient city like Mumbai. Why are we so apathetic in recovering the legitimate dues of the state? It is our money, the nation’s money, how can it be allowed to let go? Or is there agreement to share the loot? Yes, we do know, we are not quite a banana republic. But how are we better?
Surely this is an absolutely bizarre, out of the world happening. Do we call this a case of supreme inefficiency, height of corruption or an extreme form of greed, or all in one dimension of Yeh Mera India!?
An officer of Indian Navy, retired but not tired, migrated to New Zealand. Took up New Zealand citizenship, after surrendering Indian citizenship, three years ago. Comes back to book a flat in our infamous, South Mumbai’s Colaba housing society – ADARSH. And succeeds in booking the flat in this scam tainted complex, after obtaining, believe it or not, a domicile certificate from the office of Tehsildar in Pune. Capt. Praveen Kumar is now living in Auckland since 2003, after 24 years of service with Indian Navy. He retired in 1996 on turning 60, becomes non-Indian by nationality in 2007 and becomes a New Zealand citizen after surrendering his Indian passport. In 2010, that is, when, Captn. Kumar turned 74 years old, he remembers his Mother India, and arranges to  book a flat going 'cheap',  at up-market Colaba, obviously through his contacts in armed forces.
To help him get this ‘prized’ flat, the power that be, at the back of this housing society, advises him to get a Maharashtra domicile certificate, while he is still in New Zealand, which he is clearly ineligible since he has surrendered his Indian nationality, in favour of a more comfortable and more affluent nation. This is clearly a case of EXTREME SELFISHNESS & GREED. Those who helped get him a flat certainly must have done it for a consideration, whether at the society office or at the Pune Tehsildar’s office. Their action not only smacks of HEIGHT OF CORRUPTION & SUPREME INEFFICIENCY but also anti-national.
Isn’t this Adarsh scandal a saga of evolving India, where rich and powerful want to be richer and still richer, at the cost of a just and fair society? Oh poor Mother India!
Report datelined Mumbai, informed ‘Four prime SEZs spiked’. This is not a good news, but may not be a bad news either. In 2005, when SEZs appeared on the national scene, it was tauted as the harbinger of an economic metamorphosis, with booming employment possibilities to our burgeoning jobless. Expectations were raised to the hilt. By end of 2006, it was all over India with proposals in hundreds in every state. Lot of people, who were honestly worried about the socio/economic impact of such massive private investment saw in SEZ, an ‘Operation Land Grab’.
Looking back after 6 years, it was indeed, at least in many cases, a veritable land grab. Naturally land being in fixed supply had to pose problems of all kinds. While the SEZ promoters wanted the land for a song, since they are bringing in huge capital, the land owners, in many cases agricultural land, either wanted much higher prices or they simply didn’t give the land. Thus land became a rallying point, for many across the country, against SEZ.
The latest report from Mumbai informs that of 233 proposals that Govt of Maharashtra had received 116 were approved, but only 63 were notified and 25 were either withdrawn or denotified, with only 24 SEZs in operation. The above arithmetic has 4 approved SEZs left to have its final status. The latest report informs that even these 4 SEZs have been spiked. They belonged to Mahindra & Mahindra, the auto major, the electronic outfit Videocon and to India Bulls, the turn key financiers and developers. They had to have some 8700 hectares, but they couldn’t fully acquire, due to resistance from land owners. ‘Eminent Domain or no Eminent Domain’, they just didn’t give, and government bent before vox populi, surrendered, to cancel these SEZ proposals. Of course, the ensuing assembly elections in 2014 could have hastened the whole process. In any case it was an unnatural death of these industries, under duress.
That media many a time harps on the wrong tree, was always known, but this was rather little blatant. There was this news from Islamabad that Pakistan’s Home Minister Rehman Malik was suspended by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, over his dual nationality. Without having to go into the details or the merits of the case, it must be pointed out that Indian media hypes such news from across the border with only sensation in mind. But what about our own home grown opportunists, trying to use the system?
Quite some time ago, it was  reported that Supriya Sule the Rajya Sabha MP, so also the daughter of the  powerful Maratha and the Chief of NCP, aligned with the ruling UPA combine, as a crucial supporter, Sharad Pawar, too has this issue  of dual citizenship.
It was alleged in the press some months ago that she had invested in land in Singapore, where only its nationals are allowed to own land. Reportedly she had ‘managed’ it somehow.
But Singapore is very much unlike a banana republic, and in all likely hood must have got all paper works completed to ensure that all land owners do take up their nationality according to its own legal and constitutional provisions. Not like India, where a person of Indian origin, a retired Indian Navy Captain, having New Zealand nationality, managed to own a  flat in the infamous Adarsh housing society in South Mumbai.
Although the story of Supriya Sule is already in public domain, our media like our public, is selectively low key in bringing into open, issues relating to rich and powerful, regularly. So that such issues are consigned slowly into the national amnesia, to remain politically right.
India may have lot of complaints with Pakistan and its systems. But at least its judiciary is active to make their politicians accountable whether powerful or otherwise. It is a lesson India and Indians of all hues need to know and practice, in the interest of larger participative democracy.

UTTAR PRADESH: The ‘Harit Pradesh’ or the green land of Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, a constituent of UPA II, has certainly got Talibanised. Surprisingly former Women & Child Welfare Minister of UPA I, the boisterous Renuka Chaudhary is quite. May be coalition politics.
In an open defiance of Uttar Pradesh government, members of Bhagpat’s village panchayat have not only forcibly released two of their members from police custody, but also beat up two policemen who visited Bhagpat to investigate panchayat diktats and also burnt their motor bykes.
The diktat, reportedly, bans women and girls from using mobile phones, restricts those below 40 years of age going to market unescorted and forbids girls and women of all ages from stepping out of their houses without covering their heads. Love marriages and head phone used by boys in public were also included in the diktat.
This is clearly medieval and stupefyingly backward. Its proximity to cities like Delhi, Meerut or Sonepat in Haryana, has apparently not influenced the wave of modernity that is sweeping across India. It is indeed very serious not only for its violation of human rights but also for violently taking on the investigating police. A clear case of law having broken down. The govt. of inexperienced but educated Akhilesh Yadav must necessarily redeem itself by taking these Khap Panchayat head on, vote bank or no vote bank. Is it the incompetence of the Chief Minister or the Yadav family interests, reportedly Akhilesh Yadav is not asserting himself to deliver a clean, decisive and action oriented administration? In his own elective future, he has to act clean.

ASSAM: Assam violence was waiting to happen. It’s been there since seventies. Assam Gana Parishad came into existence on only a single point of immigrants’ issue. Successive governments both in centre and state played the ball according to the political exigencies. Not only things were not sorted out in time, it was allowed to fester and become bigger in size. It is not a ‘balance of payment’ crisis that can be addressed by some political and economic policy measures. This problem of increasing immigrants cannot be solved unless you stop the illegal immigration with an iron hand, you also need to deport those who are considered illegal. When neither happens, you are only allowing a bomb to keep ticking. Immigrants  have put pressure on land, livelyhood and opportunities. And bomb exploded. But unfortunately it acquired a communal tone due to neighbourhood politics. We need to recognise that these nighbours are usual mischief mongers. Our intelligence need to keep itself abreast, on all schemes of these neighbours, to foment trouble.
If what happened in Kokrajhar was truly waiting to happen, what happened in Mumbai on 11th Aug. was very much unlike Assam, a completely avoidable event. The so-called prayer meeting for the dead in Assam turned absolutely hostile, just intent on making trouble. They just wanted to mock the government that they can cause mayhem at will, which they did right under the police nose.
The rampage was so violent that they burnt some dozen vehicles including 3 police vans, 3 media OB vans, 5 two wheelers, some 25 buses were damaged with wind shield broken. Among the dead were two in police firing besides 55 injured including 45 policemen.
However what is to be noted, is this was patently criminal of those organization who have organised this gathering to have allowed this violence to take place, despite the so-called unconditional apologies expressed by Raza Academy, the main organiser. Question that made its rounds, was the riot preplanned? Probably yes.

NEW DELHI: We may not believe our politicians since most of them are not trustworthy, so are our babus. Over the years both have become, at least a major section of them have become, lumpen with all of them suffering from DAC syndrome. For the uninitiated DAC represents 'Disproportionate Asset Case'. But believe it or not, International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA), an independent, non political, anti-corruption organization has decided to assign India’s Central Vigilance Commission, the role of heading the task force to promote international co-operation in enforcement and prevention of corruption offences.
It is indeed a good news that when it comes to corruption handling, the global perception on the ability of Indian institutions to help the cause of corruption eradication, is credible after all. And our powers that be, in New Delhi, wanted a controversial P.J. Thomas to head it. Under Pradeep Kumar, the present Central Vigilance Commissioner, at least a semblance of global respectability is quietly coming its way without the media fanfare. Keep it up.
Anything overdone always loses its sheen. That is what happened to Anna Team’s latest fasting. That it fizzled out with not much of a people thronging the site of the past, besides the health of its star performer Arvind Kejriwal being in palpably bad condition, is not the news. The news is, after all these protests since over a year now, what have they achieved? Yes they did bring the issue of corruption to the centre stage. An old man, with no money, no property not much of educational qualification could attract some of the best brains towards him by the sheer strength of his character and integrity. This development has certainly given hope to the meandering labyrinth called ‘Indian odyssey’ hopelessly infested with corruption of gargantuan proportion. However, having succeeded in giving a wake-up call to the nation last year, with the huge goodwill they generated, they could have gone on the tour of the country-side to really get the message across, which they didn’t. Instead they went back to protests and fasting in cities. Principle of marginal utility overtook them and they became near irrelevant. Now that they want to fight it politically, it is an interesting development. How they want to go about, may involve massive ground work. It is not impossible, but is a huge task. Team Anna has the capacity, but they have to marshal the resources to get to the nitty-gritty of forming a political party. But one thing which needs to be clearly understood that there indeed is a need for a powerful third alternative. Anna team has the wherewithal to go about it. All right thinking Indians need to join them.
There was this report in the media that Darul Ulloom Deoband Vice Chancellor Maulana Abdul Qasim Nomani, had asked the PM for speedy disposal of terror cases. On the face of it, it is indeed a fair demand. It is true as pointed out by him that police and other security agencies routinely take Muslim youths into custody on suspicion, every time there is a terror attack. But can the security agencies be entirely faulted? The issue at the base is the general perception all over the civilized world, that most terror related incidents have led to the conclusion that Muslim groups have a hand in it. A section of the population with the Muslim background, whether they are the true practitioners of the faith or not, have complaints of all kinds against the Christian West, and a Hindu majority India. How rational these complaints are, something that Maulana Nomani has to sincerely dwell into, while demanding the quick disposal of cases on terror. Besides, violence only will increase violence and those who suffer are the poor people with little or no means. Rich man anywhere in the world will escape. Thus those who perpetrate violence –belonging to all religious hues-should realise it is a crime against humanity, and hence adopt more peaceful means of protest, if there is a complaint. Look at the latest in the series of attacks, the infamous ‘Home stay’ attack in Mangalore.
The group, allegedly a Hindu one, had no business to barge into a questionable ‘partying’ activity, however illegal or allegedly immoral the activity may be. It could make its point audible, if they think there is something wrong going on in the premises, invite the attention of police. So it becomes a law and order problem with no room for a civil society groups like Hindu Jagarana Vedike. Thus, it needs to be understood by all that, in case of violence, the role of police become apparent. Being human, there can be error on the part of police too. But the partial solution in such situations is for police and all law enforcing authorities and judiciary to act fast in the interest of justice and fair play. They perforce have to take the call. Hope PM Dr Singh will act on the plea of Maulana in the larger social context.

WORLD: Only a month or so ago, a Washington date lined news informed “Turbaned Sikhs to serve in Washington Police”, and the report comes from Milwaukee, "White gunman kills six in Wisconsin Gurudwara shooting”. See the dichotomy. On one hand, officially the U.S. govt. is accepting Sikh turban as one of the permitted attire in police force, and on the other, a white supremacist goes berserk without provocation at a place of Sikh worship. While it did cause an international outrage, question rankled was, why U.S., despite its multi-cultural landscape, has still not succeeded in stamping out hate crimes? Hate crime is a malaise, which happens without a rhyme or reason. Yes, it is true, since 9/11, Sikhs were victims of targeted crime. But the larger question is the unbridled gun culture that is prevalent in the U.S. Reportedly Wisconsin, only last year, had passed a legislation which made it easier to obtain firearms. From a single bullet pistol decades ago to a multi bullet loaded gun has transformed the whole scenario of violence among American youth. In this growing gun promoted violence all have become victims, not just migrants of Asian origin. Of course Asian communities’, especially Indians’, growing economic clout, has only helped the hatred to grow, not only from white supremacist politics but by all those who do not work as hard as Asians do, to improve their own standard of living. So it’s the hatred doubled. U.S. with its avowed objectives, of Liberty, Justice & Freedom has to do more than what’s being apparently done. Only non-violent stability can take nations to greater height of growth, prosperity and peace. Hope U.S. administration does more than just mouthing inanimate words.
Problems of minorities in Pakistan is an issue with a long history. S.M.Krishna, India’s Minister of External Affairs, saying that he will take up the issue with that country, is no big deal. There are probably thousands of instances since 1947 itself how Hindus were treated in Pakistan. In a survey that Pakistan conducted in early 50s, if Hindus were shown as close to 30% of its population, it has reportedly come down to less than 2% in 2000, another survey had shown. So where have the 28% vanished?! They were either forcibly converted, killed, jailed for hoisted crimes, or simply left the country for more peaceful life elsewhere.
Same were the problems with other groups like, Christians, Sikhs and even Muslim minority denominations like Ahmediyas and others. The fight between Sunny majority and Shias is an ever existent problem Pakistan could never solve. So the rampant human rights violation is a fact of life as clear as the day light. But as usual, officially they keep denying every charge. But that is unfortunately what Pakistan is, permanently on denial mode.
With Pak court saying that the ‘report of the judicial panel which visited India was not legally tenable and therefore cannot be used against LeTs Zaki ur Rahman Lakhvi and others’, it appears that Pak has closed  the 26/11 case. Of course as usual, the autonomous dynamics of nature has its own way of presenting itself. It came back to haunt Pakistan in the form of Syed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal.
Reportedly he wants to confess, to everything that he has up his sleeve, putting Pak denials in a deeper dock. Denial is a legally fortified and ever encouraged form of quite defence. And Pakistan is a past-master in this craft. Haven’t they said Kasab is not a Pakistani, only to swallow it later. They had even denied Faridkot being in Pakistan, the place Kasab belonged. But surely Pakistan has exposed itself by this kind of self-deception far too often, and the wider world has realised it long ago. It is not for nothing that a former U.S. Secretary of state had coined the sentence “Pakistan is an international migraine,” which impression, men manning Pakistan’s public life, has assiduously cultivated. This is Pakistan, take it or leave it.
A Paris datelined news informed “French govt to hand itself 30% pay cut”. Having promised the French people, “setting an example” the newly elected President Francois Hollande began with a bang. He ordered a salary cut to himself and all his ministers. He was clearly drawing a distintion between himself and his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, who reportedly had his salary increased by a famous 170%.
This gesture, even if symbolic, could show the way for an economy which is showing signs of 'stagflation' all over Europe. It is good for the country, good for Europe. There are lessons for all, especially we Indians, where across the spectrum the salary is seeing a steep rise, especially among ministers, members of parliament and legislatures, babus and government employees. So also senior executives of private companies. Truly speaking, the rise or the increase is required in lower levels, of unorganised sector in India as everywhere else, who live a hand to mouth existence, what with Ahluwalias and Tendulkars with their definition of BPL.
So the Olympics is over. London can breath easy now. What with fear of terrorist attack, real or imagined. Surely Prime Minister David Cameron can give a sigh of relief. Good news for Great Britain is, it won 65 Olympic medals of which 29 are gold, as compared to India which won only 6 and there was no gold. But we are celebrating, since it is the best Olympic show, we ever had. While the Indian Olympic Association can be excused for their feel-good factor, the question is, a country of 1200 million people, on the threshold of becoming a super power, may be little late in the future, how can it compare itself with China, our neighbour, with some 1600 million people, but managed to take home a whopping 87 medals, with 38 Gold, 27 Silver and 22 Bronze? And China stood second in the overall ranking after the US, which had won the highest medals at 104, with Gold being 46, whereas India was No: 55 in a tally of 85 countries. Yet our media goes on and on. The fact is, despite being the 2nd most populous country, we are No:55 in medals tally. What is so big about getting just 6 medals? Of course, we have done better than past, but it is still a very long way to go. Among the 55 countries are those who are otherwise far behind India in almost all para-meters, except Human Development Index. Forget about the 1st world countries, or the communist regimes, where HDI is far better than India, it is the third world countries that have marched far ahead in the promotion of its human potential. Cuba walked away with 14 medals with 5 Gold, Jamaica took home 12 medals with 4 medals in each category. Our BRIC partner Brazil were equally good with 17 medals, so was Belarus, a tiny country with 13 medals. Even Ethiopia, one of the more poor country from Africa managed 3 Gold in their haul of 7 medals, so was Kenya with 11 medals. Thus, there are any number of countries who had a cake walk over India. Hence, is it difficult to surmise that something is seriously wrong with the policies that our sports bodies pursue in the promotion of sports as a means of individual development? Media has a great responsibility in debating this, which as usual, has abdicated its role in its pursuit of greater circulation and TRP, by catering to baser human instincts of titillation and sensation.
Freedom is the most important aspect of human habitation. All want to be free, to think and to act. The whole of western world’s civilisational concept depends on this principle of freedom of individual. But left to itself this freedom can be self destructive, it can make an individual less and less responsible, which also means more and more irresponsible. The gun culture in the U.S. is based on this principle of freedom. And the world is witness, umpteen number of times, how this freedom  led to serious consequences. If this is at one end of the bigger picture, there are non-bloody forms of emotional or psychological violence. West is adapt at this form of irresponsible behaviour as well.
Look at this Californian based shoe manufacturer promoting a range of footwear with pictures of Buddha on shoes. To call it outrageous, is to insult a whole section of humanity in the eastern hemisphere, including India. This is sacrilege of the lowest order. How a white man can fall badly and cheaply in the name of freedom of expression!
Earlier it was Hindu Gods’ images that appeared on lingeries, alcohol bottles, shoes etc. Then cartoon on Mohammed. Now comes the latest on Buddha. What is this idea of freedom that tries to humiliate and insult an outsider, who is not a part of your own socio-religious group? Even authorities in these countries, where such sickening expression of so-called freedom are indulged in, do not act with toughness. But this western world, whose faithfuls are largely Christian, act rather very fast when Christian images are defiled by one of their very own, and complaint is lodged with the neighbourhood police! This is the double standard of whiteman’s concept of freedom.
Is there anything new in the report published by the U.S. Military Academy in New York that the terrorist group Haqqani Network is receiving financial and logistical support from the ISI of Pakistan? This has been an open secret that such an alliance existed since a long time. It works for their mutual benefit. After all Haqqanis are mafia group engaged in extortion, kidnapping and smuggling. Having secured the financial clout it got into legitimate business activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They will do anything for money, hence ISI uses them for their political agenda for a price. Any illegal group gets official protection, if group joins the official agenda, including the burgeoning Jehad Industry. So both Haqqani Network and ISI are scratching each other’s back for mutual benefit. Only newer thing is, when it is officially reported by an American agency, it gets global acceptance. India has been saying many things, many times, in the past. It is like a cry in the wilderness. To that extent, this report by U.S.M.A. shall have its relevance to India. As a matter of fact, not just the report on Haqqani, but just about all terror activities and their associates, India’s informations were based on hard evidence. But Pakistan has routinely denied everything that India has presented for all these past years. In this context, both India and U.S. must develop a credible association for the benefit of both. Unfortunately U.S. sees India only as a commercial destination to serve its economic interest. That both countries have shared values of democracy and human rights, is no reason for U.S. to support India in its fight against terrorism from across its western border. That is rather unfortunate, and U.S. pontificates the world on these values. Don’t they!

FOCUS

INDIA @ 65- OF ANNA, OF RAMDEV & 

OF UNEDUCATED GRADUATES


It was in 2006, sometime in August, former Supreme Court Justice V R Krishna Iyer wrote in the print media “In India, a socialist, secular, democratic republic is over a billion strong, and is perhaps the world’s first in its ancient heritage, second in primitive poverty, third in contemporary crimes, twelfth in total wealth. In the context of institutions and the developmental dynamics desiderated by modern technology, India can be a Kohinoor diamond and can be rich in resources if creatively catalysed. Yet is a frustrated fraction of mankind because of environmental, colonial, corrupt and stultifying contradictions. Our creative statesmen can transform the country if they wished to do. Feudalism, Capitalism and Marxism co-exist in a Bharath, which is plunged in widespread socialist injustice. Perestroika and glasnost, and a do or die struggle for systemic transformation, are the militant urgency of the hour.”
How representative is this statement of, one of our most respected judicial luminaries? Being a celebrated Apex Court judge, he has weighed every word and is certainly illustrative to a great extent the country’s dilemmas and ground realities, even @ 65.
His exhortation about the militant urgency to take on the issues plaguing the nation was a clarion call in all its seriousness. The kind of socio/political divide this country is having always had the problem of uniting our people. There had to be someone like Jayaprakash Narayan, one of the tallest men of his time, to lead the troubled nation of those days. That was in 1976/77. Today, the country is again passing through an unparalleled void in the governance or the lack of it. Corruption is rampant, in every conceivable form, shape and size. Black money, which personifies corruption in its gargantuan form, has taken the centre stage in the national discourse. Suffering of vulnerable and marginalised, women and children has occupied the public space which made the county painfully aware of the shortcomings of the ruling dispensations whether at centre or in states. Factors and reasons could be many. Power that be, spoke of the WHYs and not of WHY NOTs. There is an air of desperation all over, due to the uncertainty of all kinds with no solution visible in the horizon. Something radical had to be done. In the circumstances, people who were inspired to do something, going in circles, not knowing how a national impact can be made, hit upon the idea whose time probably had come. That is probably how Team Anna emerged. As the cliché goes, rest is history.
Team Anna caught the imagination of the nation overnight. Everything that is new has its moments in the Sun. Of course, it was probably the desire of Team Anna to be in the lime light all the while, and who doesn’t like to hog the lime light! That was its undoing. They had served the purpose for which they had come to-gether. Having put the ball in the government’s court, they should have gone back to Ralegaon Siddhi. They could have drawn a newer road map to keep the issue of corruption and allied issues of electoral reforms etc. alive in the public domain. They should have gone around the country, not just big cities, but also the country side. In a country like India, it is the countryside which changes the governments not the city folks.
Instead they harped and harped on politicians and their corruption in cities. They spoke selectively about political parties. Of course, media, has a very important role in influencing the public response and reactions. They too have been selective in their approach. Evenhandedness, unfortunately, was the casualty. Overconfidence of Team Anna coupled with the media being ambivalent in their handling of Team Anna related news, brought about the decreasing participation of general aam aadmi. Suddenly life  came full circle for Team Anna. Was it the overreach that ruined their day in the sun?!
When suddenly Anna Team burst into a huge public reception last August in 2011, the other anti-sleaze crusader Baba Ramdev, a rich guru with a huge fan following also jumped into the arena to fight the same battle. Prima facie it was little too early, immediately, after Team Anna’s successful ‘fasting protest’. Baba could have waited for some more months. But he too was in a great hurry to hog the lime light rather than fighting sleaze. ‘If a man with no bank a/c, could bring the political bosses to their knees, what about me, worth over Rs: 1000 crores!’ was his logic. His ego unfortunately ended up with his attempt to escape in a salwar kameez when police swooped on his protest site. That was indeed a great fall.
Since then, much of the water had flown down the Yamuna. Govt’s ham handed proposal on Lokpal bill did not see the light of the day. The general perception that government is not serious has somehow come to stay. They just reshuffled people and issues and led everybody down the garden path. Entire political class was hopelessly divided. Everybody tried to play it up according to their own agenda, and nation’s interest came a cropper.
But elections do come every five years. Activities of myriad kind occupies the landscape across the country. We do have a functioning democracy, however chaotic, disorganized and group centric it is. Life carries on, despite all the problems highlighted by Justice Krishna Iyer. The struggle for systemic change has to go on.
So both Anna Team and Baba Ramdev are back with their brand of activism. Anna Team may be selfless but things are not very clear. They appear confused as to the future course. That suited the central government. But the intention of Anna Team is honest. They need support of the people especially educated class and ofcourse the media. Both supports are crucial for any movement to succeed.
Team Anna has to go on a country-wide trip. The entire core team has to travel all over India to test the pulse of our people. Only then, they can become acceptable to those without any political affiliation and to those who are fence sitters.
That there is a need for a strong third alternative was never in doubt. The question is what kind of a leadership that this alternative can give. Surely anything that has the blessing of Anna and his team shall be more than welcome in the political landscape of this country.
Coming to Baba Ramdev, like Team Anna, he too tried to refurbish himself after the Salwar Khameez fiasco. Lied low for some time and is back, middle of this month, at Jantar Mantar with his symbolic fasting for 3 days.
Of course, once bitten twice shy, the government in New Delhi didn’t bite the bullet. In the meanwhile, the dirty tricks department of the government was activated to find out, if there is anything hanky-panky in the financials of Baba Ramdev. Of course their ham handed attempt at getting even with Team Anna did not take the govt anywhere. It may not be the same with Baba Ramdev. With his big line of Ayurvedic products, yoga camps and other related activities, it’s a huge financial empire, unlike Anna and his team. Wherever there is large amount being dealt, it is quite possible, there could be areas of commission and omission with or without the intent to deny the government, its legitimate dues. In the event, the tax authorities have come up with claims of tax evasion and other financial misdemeanor. Surely Ramdev will have enough muscle to see thru the case, so also resources to pay up any claims the govt may succeed in imposing on him.
But, it was the sudden activisation of the government apparatus against this Baba, that has raised hackles. He did not run away, he was always there for you to investigate. But only when he became a bit of discomfort and irritation that the govt. decided to let the hound on Baba. That is a sad reflection on the vindictive nature of this government.
So in this emerging India @65, there are these forces led by Anna Team and Baba Ramdev, who if joined to-gether, can become a very formidable challenge to any political arithmetic. This is without any shadow of doubt. They may have to work to-gether to build mutual trust in each other’s leadership. Baba Ramdev, apparently has a tendency, to be a bit overbearing. Same may be the case with Arvind Kejriwal to some extent. Both have their own areas of strength, so also their weaknesses. The more matured ones among them may have to get more involved to a common purpose and a larger goal. Of course, beyond any shadow of doubt, none in these dispensations, so far, has shown any inclination towards personal enrichment at the cost of nation. This is an extremely important factor in a scam tainted Indian socio/political leadership. This integrity alone is the single most important factor that can truly make them attractive across the length and breadth of India.
But then there are these newly educated class of Indians, who truly form a bulk of the voting public, which is a major cause of concern. The literacy that these youngsters have acquired has somehow did not make them responsible and responsive towards their duty and to the country.
We all recognise that civic knowledge is a corner stone of any strong democracy. Lack of the civic knowledge provides ample concern for the future of our democracy, as it has an effect on civic participation and one of the most critical civic acts – voting.
There is a certain degree of dichotomy in the pattern of educated individuals responding to their civic duties, especially voting.
William A Galston, writes in his book “Civic Education and Political Participation’, on the pattern of voting in U.S. election. He grouped his observations under age, education, literacy levels, knowledge of public affairs and income.
According to him, the youth between age of 18 & 24 voted less than half. But those between 55 & 74, almost 75% went to polling booths. In India, those between 18 & 24 may vote in higher numbers, since their right to vote has just begun and therefore are excited about exercising this right. So also those in the higher bracket of 55 & 74 too go for voting in large numbers. But it is the young between 25 & 50 who are a major source of concern.
In the U.S., book informed, that school dropouts voted less and those with advanced degree voted close to 80%, which is unfortunately not so in India. While there is no data or information available on school dropouts, it is for certain that those who are graduates and post graduates, are unfortunately have failed to respond to their civic duty of adult franchise. There is this classic case of a candidate-one Dr Ashwin Mahesh-who stood for election to the Karnataka Legislative Council. He was contesting from the Graduates Constituency in Bangalore. With him were two more candidates. One was the sitting member, Ramachandra Gowda, from the BJP. The other was from JD (S) of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda. Ramachandra Gowda, was MLC for four terms, that is, he was already enjoying the political power and perks. But as usual, when it comes to political offices, you may be very tired but never retired. The lure of serving the ‘aam aadmi’ and of course the country is such, these luminaries never want to lose an opportunity. Even in his political party the BJP, there may be younger party men who have worked tirelessly for the party, but no God Father to push their case. Now coming to this Ashwin Mahesh, he was reportedly contesting on Loksatta ticket. Loksatta is a political party established by Dr Jayaprakash Narayan, a Physician turned IAS, but resigned to float Loksatta to promote clean politics and equally clean politicians. So comes along this Ashwin Mahesh ready to plunge into the electoral politics. An educated, also obviously a man of integrity, this Ashwin Mahesh was reportedly endorsed by no less a person than the former Supreme Court Justice N. Santosh Hegde, who was also the Karnataka Lokayukta and a Anna Team Member. That was a formidable support which electorates simply couldn’t ignore, for the kind of public image Justice Hegde had in the course of his assignment with Karnataka Government. That was the best certificate any prospective candidate could have hoped for. Naturally upbeat Ashwin Mahesh, apparently goes about enlisting the support of graduates from the Bangalore city constituency. In few months, he reportedly manages to register 15000 graduates in his constituency. All that he wanted was about 50% from this group. Of the three candidates, he was the dark horse. Ramachandra Gowda was the sitting member of BJP. Earlier in his term, he was a minister, but had to resign on questionable favouritism, probably involving money changing hands. So he was clearly somebody, who, ethically speaking, should not be voted back. The other candidate supported by JD(S) was also a formidable candidate to turn the table. But Ashwin Mahesh, being young, well educated supported by Justice Santosh Hegde, enlisted 15000 graduates support, clearly had a good chance. But the graduates of Bangalore unfortunately had party affiliations. They got polarised between two established parties. In the event, the tainted former minister was declared elected after a ‘sea-saw’ number uncertainty, a margin of mere 242 votes. Unfortunately for the graduates of Bangalore the integrity and education of Ashwin Mahesh was no big deal. They did not consider him a better candidate with cleaner record, somebody who would have been endorsed by Team Anna. And those who voted for BJP and JD (S) candidates probably thronged Freedom Park, the Hyde Park of Bangalore, in support of Anna Hazare movement. But when the crunch came, they ditched Anna. They plumped for established parties, doesn’t matter the scam taint of the BJP candidate. This election of Ramachandra Gowda was a slap on our social conscience. How can anybody vote for such a man when we have cleaner alternatives?
If a section of graduates have voted for a controversial candidate, neglecting and ignoring a better claimant, those who could have voted for Ashwin Mahesh have also ditched him. As claimed by Ashwin Mahesh, he had enlisted the support of 15000 graduates in and around Bangalore, which was his constituency. Reportedly he could muster only 4349 votes on the day of voting. But over 10000 probably ignored their civic duty to vote and sat at home or more blatantly, since it was a paid holiday and weekend, they took their family for an outing. In both cases they have let down the nation so the question that rankled most thinking Indians, can we trust this uneducated graduates, who are too selfish to know their civic responsibility in nation building? Voting perhaps the most easy form of civic obligation. If our educated, young and old alike, cannot perform even such a simple task, what more can we expect of them. Of course, surely, all graduates are not birds of the same feather. But if they cannot ensure the victory of a better candidate in their exclusive constituency, can they be trusted to guarantee the victory of a good candidate in general constituency in general election? Do we remember Arun Bhatia an IAS activist, who lost, of all people, to Suresh Kalmadi in Pune?
This victory of Ramachandra Gowda and therefore the defeat of Ashwin Mahesh is a very sad reflection on our emerging youth power, who are educated and well networked.
If those faceless graduates did not rise to the occasion to return a good candidate victorious at the hustings, this Ashwin Mahesh too is sending mixed signals, on his commitment to make a difference to the prevailing socio/political scenario. It is true Ashwin Mahesh fought the election to the Karnataka Legislative Council. May be it has cost him some money. His party may not be rich to fund his electioneering. He lost the election, but he could have gained some good will if he was more alive to his environment. Goodwill is something, he has to, perforce, nurture, if he has any desire for public office or public service. Not only media did not make any story on his defeat, even he himself did not serve his cause by even ignoring overtures of concerned individuals. In particular, this periodical made many attempts to speak to him to get his side of the story, his experiences at the recently lost election to the Legislative Council. Deeply disappointed that our silicon valley graduates have let down principled politics, this periodical tried to find out, how to get to this man, so that his story can be told and retold for our educated voters, to make them understand how their indiscretion led to the continuation of a person who was already there for 24 years. This man, who had, according to information in the public domain, had to resign his ministership in disgrace, was allowed to continue for another 6 more years. Now isn’t this bad and sad!
So, this periodical, in its wisdom, thought it fit to make a story on the maiden political debacle of an earnest young educated citizen of our country. But sadly he too did not measure up to our expectations. First he didn’t respond to our mail, after searching him on internet, Facebook & Google. Then we contacted Justice Hegde on email for his mobile number. Perhaps Justice Hegde reprimanded him for his indifference. Within minutes he came on line “My number is ……. Please tell me a little bit about what you want to discuss, and we can then schedule a time”.
We responded, rather a few days later, with purpose.
Dear Dr Mahesh
Sorry! for the delay in responding to your email. It is just that we wanted to make a story in our monthly ISSUES & CONCERNS your attempt to contest the MLC election, and how you went about your campaigning and how you felt disappointed with those graduates whom you had listed, but didn’t come to vote. Shall appreciate your early response.
Pls. see our blog www.issuesandconcern.blogspot.com
Our latest upload: ‘Democracy My Foot!’  – Regards - J. Shriyan
Believe it or not, he neither came on line after that nor did he respond to our repeated calls on his mobile. Then the question that cropped in our mind was, what if he was elected, he too could have been like any other elected member of assembly or parliament! We are all privy to the knowledge and experience how politicians behave before election and after the victory. Before election, on their tour of their constituency, seeking votes, they are embodiment of humility. But after winning, they make you go in circle. We honestly wished Ashwin Mahesh was different. But alas, he did not measure up. Political and Educational philosophers such as Jean Jacques Rousseau and Robert Hutchins have warned in the past that civic apathy may lead to the ultimate death of democracy, or the moral and social decline of the state. Could this be the lot of India @ 65?!

SERIAL : 48

GANG LEADER FOR A DAY
The Stay-Together Gang


Dorothy had never been an elected tenant leader, but she was a self-appointed godmother to countless families. She helped squatters find shelter, fed tenants who couldn’t afford to eat, and provided day care for many children, some related by blood and others not. Spurred on now by the demolition, she began to act as a sort of relocation counselor for several families who were determined to live near one another in a new neighborhood. They thought that sticking together was their best, and maybe only, chance for survival. These families became informally known as “the Stay-Together Gang,” and their undisputed ringleader was Dorothy.
I caught up with her one day in her living room as she was looking over a list of the families she most wanted to help.
“Let’s see,” she said, “I got Cherry, three kids. Candy, two kids, Marna, a son and a daughter. Princess, three kids. Carrie, two young girls. And there’s probably a few more. “All these young women were friends who shared baby-sitting, cars, and cooking. Now their mission with Dorothy’s help, was to find a place to live where they could keep their network intact.
“See, here’s the problem,” Dorothy explained. “I know what it’s like out there in the private market. You end up in some apartment, with no one around, no one to help you. And you’re scared. At least if a few people can move with each other, stay together, they can help each other. Lot of people out there don’t like us because we come from the projects. They may not answer the door if we knock for help. So I want to make sure people don’t get stuck in the cold.”
It was important, she said, to start with the most stable family in the network. That was Cherry, who worked thirty hours a week as a fast-food cashier and also went to night school. Dorothy’s plan called for Cherry to find an apartment in a good neighborhood and then bring the other families over.
While this plan seemed pretty straightforward, Dorothy told me that success was hardly guaranteed.  “Things never go as planned,” she said bluntly, “because we’re dealing with poor people.”
Dorothy’s first obstacle was Ms. Reemes, a powerful tenant in her building, who was not elected to any office but had great influence with the CHA and police. Like Ms. Bailey, Ms. Reemes expected families to pay her a fee, anywhere from fifty to two hundred dollars, for smoothing the relocation process. Every family that Dorothy helped meant one less potential bribe for Ms. Reemes. Although the building hadn’t even been singled out yet for demolition, Ms. Reemes was already accepting “deposits” from families who wanted a rent voucher or relocation services.
“She wanted me to give her a cut,” Dorothy said, “and I told her I’m not even getting paid to help these people! So I told her to go to hell. That lady is so selfish.”
As Dorothy told it, Ms. Reemes was so miffed by Dorothy’s refusal to play the payoff game that she went on a harassment campaign. First, Dorothy said, Ms. Reemes put in a bad word about Dorothy with the CHA. Within a week Dorothy’s two grown daughters, both of whom lived in the same building received eviction notices for late payment of rent. This was particularly surprising, since one of her daughter had no income and was therefore excused from paying any rent at all. Dorothy successfully got the eviction notices rescinded. Then a CHA janitor cutoff the electricity in Dorothy’s apartment. But Dorothy paid a squatter to restore it. Ms Reemes then tried to get gangs to harass Dorothy, not realizing that Dorothy’s own son was a senior gang leader. He paid Ms.Reemes a personal visit, and she backed down.
Through a classified ad in the Chicago Sun-Times, Dorothy found a two-bedroom apartment for Cherry’s family in Woodlawn, a poor but stable neighborhood about a two miles away, near Hide Park and the universities. Because Dorothy had a CHA connection who helped Cherry get a $ 500-a –month housing voucher, she had to pay only $ 150 a month out of pocket.
Soon after Cherry moved in with her children and an aunt who would provide day care, Dorothy found a large apartment nearby for Princess and her three children. The only problem was that Princess’s brother and uncle heard about this and decided that they also wanted to move in. If they were found to be living there, Princess would lose her rent voucher on the grounds of illegal tenancy. Worse yet, her brother and uncle were drug dealers who wanted to use Princess’s apartment as a new base of operations. “Princess has put up with those two fools for too long, and it’s hurting her kids,” Dorothy told me. “I wanted her to start over, and now her brother and uncle are going to mess everything up.”
So Dorothy, with Princess in tow, went  to confront the two men at a local bar where they hung out. Princess was worried, since both of them smoked crack and were prone to violence, but Dorothy feared no one. As Princess later described it, Dorothy stormed into the bar and loudly told the two men they’d have her to deal with if they moved in with Princess. The men threatened to beat up Dorothy and then stomped away. They retaliated by calling Princess’s new landlord and, posing as CHA officials, warned the landlord that Princess was a gang member. The landlord promptly called Dorothy. He didn’t necessarily believe that Princess was in a gang, he said, but he wasn’t willing to take the chance. So Princess lost her lease. Dorothy eventually found Princess another apartment, but it was smaller, more expensive, and a few miles away from Cherry.
And then Marna was thrown in jail for six months for stabbing her boyfriend. Dorothy moved Marna’s children around from one apartment to another so that the social workers couldn’t find them and send them to foster care. Soon after, Dorothy heard that Candy had promised J.T. that the Black Kings could stash guns and drugs in the new apartment that Dorothy was helping her rent. Since J.T. was paying Candy for this service, Dorothy had little leverage to persuade her to do otherwise. Within a year Candy would lose her lease (and her rent subsidy) when the landlord called the police, having seen so many people tromping in and out of her apartment.
The most astounding story concerning Dorothy-one that I could never independently verify-also had to do with police. She told me that Ms. Reemes called in Officer Jerry, the rogue cop, who caught her in the lobby, dragged her into a vacant apartment, planted drugs on her, and threatened to arrest her for possession if she didn’t stop competing with Ms. Reems. When Dorothy refused, Officer Jerry arrested her, and threatened to arrest her for possession if she didn’t stop competing with Ms Reems. When Dorothy refused, Officer Jerry arrested her, but she managed to enlist some other police officers, including Officer Reggie, to set her free. According to Dorothy, Officer Jerry returned two weeks later and told Dorothy that if she just paid Ms. Reemes a share of “her cut” – which, Dorothy insisted, didn’t exist-then he would leave her alone.
In the end Dorothy’s list included twelve families chosen for the Stay-Together Gang. Despite her perseverance, she was able to help only four of them move out together, to neighboring apartments in Woodlawn and South Shore. I would spend much of the next decade keeping track of Robert Taylor homes’ former tenants to see how they adapted to life beyond the projects. As it turned out, Dorothy’s success rate was easily as good as that of the various social-services agencies contracted by the CHA, each of which was awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to carry out the job. Dorothy herself would stay in Robert Taylor until it was demolished, and then she joined her daughter, Lee-Lee, in Eaglewood, a high-crime predominantly black neighborhood a few miles away.
Dorothy’s move to Lee-Lee’s house was, unfortunately, a typical outcome for many tenants who left Robert Taylor and other CHA projects. While the goal of  the demolition was to move families to safer, integrated communities, the CHA was so inept that nearly 90 percent of the relocated tenants wound up living in poor black areas that left them badly off as being in the projects, or worse.
In place of the projects, the city began to build market-rate condominiums and town houses, three-story structures tucked cozily together instead of the sixteen-story high-rises separated by vast expanses. Robert Taylor tenants had been promised the right to return to the community once construction was done, but fewer than 10 percent of the units were set aside for public-housing families. It is little wonder that the prevailing wisdom in Chicago is that the Daley administration and the powerful low-income housing, in fact knocked down the projects to initiate a land grab. As of this writing, the new apartments are set to  house mostly middle-and upper-class families.
                                                                                                                                          to be contd....

CRAZY INDIANS


Don Bosco dorm head held for abusing 10-year-old boy
Behrampore: The police arrested the dormitory superintendent of Manigram Don Bosco School in Murshidaba (Central West Bengal) on charges of sexually abusing a Class 5 hosteller of the institution. 
James Soren, the hostel head and a bachelor, allegedly committed the abuse during the night in his (Soren’s) room and had been on the run ever since a complaint was lodged against him. “He was returning on some personal work. Acting on a tipoff my officers nabbed him,” said Murshidabad superintendent of police Humayun Kabir. 
A senior officer of the district police told: “Soren took shelter in Krishnanagar (a town in adjoining Nadia district) after committing the crime. But the Don Bosco authorities compelled him to surrender before the police (when he returned).”
Soren had summoned the student to his room after dinner. There he reportedly tried to strip the boy and touch his private parts. 
Kabir said: “We have come to know that the guardians of another boy who used to study in the same school took his transfer in February after he was sexually abused by someone at the school. We are sending a police team to the student’s house.”

47 kids caned for demanding food
A primary teacher of a government-run school in Vadodara district was granted bail by a local court after she was arrested for having caned 47 students over a mid-day meal issue. 
The students had complained about “inadequate supplies” of the mid-day meal served at the institution. “We have  ordered the suspension of the teacher and launched an inquiry into it,” Vadodara district development officer Rakesh Shankar told, adding most of the children had received minor injuries, for which they were treated at the community health centre.

When astrologer was a villain 
Bangalore: In another case of gender-specific killing, a man allegedly killed his 20-day-old daughter by feeding her with donkey’s milk laced with poison. The incident took place at his in-laws’ house at Haadihosahalli village in Nelamangala taluk of Bangalore Rural district.
On a complaint from his wife Savitha and the mother of the child, the police arrested Nandish. According to the police, an astrologer had told Nandish that he would die within two months, as his daughter was born during an inauspicious moment. The astrologer is reported to have told Nandish that he would live only if his daughter died.
Shocked and upset by the prediction, Nandish went to his wife ‘s village armed with a plastic bottle filled with donkey’s milk with a poisonous substance mixed in it.
He told his in-laws that he wanted to feed his daughter as donkey’s milk has medicinal values.
Minutes later, the child began to froth at the mouth and was rushed to a local hospital. But when her condition worsened, she was rushed to a government hospital where she died.
Savitha accused her husband of killing her daughter as he did not want a baby girl. But Nandish told the police that he did not want to kill the girl and claimed that the bottle might have been contaminated. The police have sent the bottle for tests.

CONSUMER AWARENESS


Adani compelled to supply power at Rs 2.35/unit
Electrifying cost 
The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL), Delhi, has directed Adani Power Ltd (APL) to continue electricity supply to Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) at Rs 2.35 per unit. In February 2007 both parties had signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) wherein APL agreed to supply 1000 MW of power to the GUVNL at Rs 2.35 per unit for 25 years without any price escalation. In January 2009, however, the APL informed the GUVNL, that it could not supply power at the price mentioned using imported coal and therefore wanted to terminate the PPA.
The GUVNL filed a petition before the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC). CERS filed an application to join this petition as ‘intervenor’ to protect the interest of electricity consumers of Gujarat. CERS mentioned that the PPA did not mandate the procurement of fuel from a particular supplier so APL was bound to supply 1000 MW at the price mentioned by using fuel procured from any supplier. After a number of hearings, the commission directed the APL to implement the PPA.
Adani power challenged the order before APTEL which dismissed the appeal. Meanwhile, Adani has filed this matter before Supreme Court of India.
Consumer’s intervention

Broke Bond Red Label Natural Care Tea
Making uncertain claims 
Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), the owner of ‘Broke Bond’ tea brand, advertised its ayurvedic recipe of immunity and health and claimed that its ‘Red Label Natural Care Tea’ helps to protect you and your family from cold, cough and flu.  Drinking three cup of the tea daily helps enhance one’s immunity, it added. The claims were impressive, but CERS was not satisfied. They wrote to the advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). 
ASCI upheld their complaint as the ad contravened Chapter I.1 of the ASCI Code. The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI concluded that the claims of Broke Bond Red Label Natural Care Tea were not sustained adequately. Meanwhile, the HUL has assured ASCI that the ad has been suspended and it will be modified appropriately.
Immunity factor didn’t work

Arsenic in drinking water raises safety concerns
Also, protect the unborn child 
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), water containing 10 parts per billion (PPB) of arsenic is safe. However, a study conducted at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts found that arsenic in drinking water is linked to serious health problems. Researchers gave water containing 10ppb arsenic to pregnant and lactating mice then monitored the development of their pups. It was found that the pups grew more slowly than the ones whose mothers were given arsenic free water.
Humans and mice show significantly different responses to arsenic, but the results are still important because the adverse health effects observed here do raise serious concerns according to another researcher at University of Manchester, UK.
Is your drinking water safe?

Food safety tribunal in Gujarat soon
Foodie check
Ahmedabad will soon have the State’s first food safety tribunal which will help food safety inspectors to keep quality checks on food sold in the city. It will also pin down the defaulters who make false claims about the nutritional value of their products. The tribunal has become mandatory with the Food Safety and Standards Rules, 2011 being implemented.
The tribunal will look into cases where defaulters are caught selling food that is not of the nature or substance or quality as demanded. It will also hear cases of substandard and misbranded food and misleading advertisements. Some other areas which the tribunal will look into include food adulterants, unsanitary processing or manufacturing of food, offences by companies and compensation in case of injury or death of consumer.
The Tribunal will comprise presiding officer, chaired by a retired district judge and six other members.
Cheap, yet healthy 



FEATURE


  The New Power Centres of the Global Economy:  
A Study on the BRIC countries with special reference to India
                                                                                     
                                                                                                    * Prof. Dr. G.R Krishnamurthy
                                                                                                    ** Prof. Dr. Norbert Koubek
The world economies are going through the most adverse global recession in the post world war history.  However, Asian renaissance economies of China & India & South East Asia are fast pacing!
   According to the Asian Development Bank report, recently released, “Asia will play a very important role in the global economy domination reform”.  In addition to Asian giants, China & India, Russia, in Euro-Asia, & the Brazil in Latin America is poised to lead a new world order, for which “G-20” becomes a steering committee.  
Yes, BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India & China) are leading the Global recovery.  
The BRIC, we would like to rechrision as CIRB (China, India, Russia & Brazil) in their order of importance, for their pace and speed of economic growth and volume of trade & business.  In other words The BRIC/ CIRB are going to be levers of world economic growth in the cold war II era.
     In short 3 economic growth centres appear to be emerging:
The USA, with its unique leverages and with her designs of economic imperialism world over, still remains the major economic power.  On the other, the China with her incomparable fast pace of growth is emerging as the second largest economic growth centre.
India is equally poised (though with some limitations & constraints) to emerge as the 3rd largest economy by 2050.  Thus 3 economic-growth-centres nay-nodal growth centres will be the USA, China & India.  Goldman Sach (2006) predicts that by 2050, these 3 will be the largest economies most probably replacing the European Union and Japan, where India will be first followed by China and U.S.A.
     In this scenario of tumultous economic change in the world, the BRIC countries are going to play a crucial role in the recovery of world economy.  

The BRIC countries Comparison:  The Basic Facts:
 China with a landmass of roughly 9500 milsqm habitates around 133 crore population, while India with hardly 1/3rd of landmass of China (3288 mil sq m) has a population of 115 crores.  Brazil with 8500 milsqm has hardly 19 crore population.  However, Russia with a landmass of 17,000 milsqm, has around 15 crore population.
Both China and India show around 10% growth in 2010 while Brazil registered 7.5% growth.  Russia’s growth was only 4%.

Changing Realities and Emerging Trends:

Foreign Direct Investment 2010:
 The Glaring Index of China’s upsurging economy is her FDI amounting to more than 1,00,000 billion USD while Russia has done fairly well attracting FDI of more 75,000 billion USD.  Also, both Brazil and India have done well by attracting around 40,000 billion USD each.

The ‘U’ turn trends:
 OECD study shows that the share of global GDP was 70% to 80% from emerging economies (like China and India) upto year 1000 AD.  This trend continued more or less upto year 1820 AD.  However, strangely and dramatically, Asian economies share in the global GDP declined to about 40% by year 1930 AD, while European economies, or today’s developed economies share rose up to 60% in the same year.  Also, this trend continued upto 1950.  By 2005 the share of global GDP was 50:50 both of emerging economies and developed economies.

The largest economies by 2050:
The Goldman Sachs (2006) estimates that by 2050 China is going to have around 50,000 trillion USD, while the US will be somewhere near 40,000 trillion USD.  However, India will be 3rd largest economy with nearly 30,000 trillion USD by 2050.  These 3 will be replacing present day European Union, Japan, Russia and others.
 In this dramatically changing scenario of economic growth and recovery, China leads with a consistent percentage of real GDP, ranging from 10-12% (1992) up to again 10% in 2010.  However, India, starting from 5% in 1980’s, came down to 2.5% in 1992 and strongly rose to 8% to 9% by 2008/2010.  Russia starting at minus 15% in 1992 shot up to 10% by 2000.  However, it fell down in real GDP to minus 5% in 2010.
 Coming to Capital account, FDI outflows show that China has highest, 90 billion USD by 2010.  While India has 12 billion USD FDI outflows in the same year.
The scoreboard of competitiveness shows that the USA still maintains the 1st position from 2006 to 2011 though it slided to 3rd position in 2010.  Ofcourse, UK retains the 20th position in the 2011 from 21st position in 2011.  But however, Germany improved her competitiveness position in 2011 to 10th from 26th in 2006.
China retained 19th position from 2006 to 2011.  However India improved her position form 42 in 2006 to 32 in 2011.  Russia failed badly by standing in 49th position in 2011.
Yes, competitiveness comprising the political structures, management skills, industrial systems, trade-laws, individual and national values, cultural and religious factors determine the competitive position of the country in the world economy.  More than this, they act as levers of economic growth and development, within the countries.
The BRIC countries:  Some Challenges:
The rise of emerging markets in China, India, Brazil and South Africa may pose some new challenges to the world such as:
Rise of EM/BRIC poses new challenges to the world
•Environmental issues reach a new dimension
•Political systems in China and Russia vs Western democracy paradigm
•BRIC/EM trade and financial strength increases protectionist pressures
•Political, regulatory risks become strategic as companies deploy own capital
in EM
• BRIC story captures imagination because it is proxy for shifting world
power centres
• But: Global power shift should not be overestimated
- BRIC’s growth and development trajectories will likely not be linear
- G-3 will retain the lead for a while yet

 Thus, the BRIC countries are emerging as the new centres of economic and political power in the global economy through their improved and hightend competitiveness.  The study also reveals the rise a
and fall of the wealth of nations over the past TEN CENTURIES (SECOND MILLINEUM).

  *A.J. Institute of Management, 
Mangalore,  India.
                                                                                    ** Schumpeter School of Business & Economics,  
                                                                                         University of Wuppertal, Germany.


Dignity, fair wages, justice – 

can we give that to our domestic workers?

“Oh, our housemaid Meena did not come today. She can never understand how difficult it is if she decides to take the day off without informing in advance,” grumbled my former colleague in an international technology firm in Bangalore. Remarks like hers are not uncommon from people belonging to the middle or upper-middle income segments, irrespective of whether they are employed or not. This is primarily because part-time janitors, cooks and child-and-elder-care providers are an integral part of urban Indian households that can pay for such services. Collectively known as domestic workers, they are often women who hail from low-income families and belong to the unorganized workers’ sector.
It is obvious that women like Meena are indispensible to families who utilize their services. “Domestic workers perform chores such as cleaning, babysitting, preparing meals et al on everyday basis in a professional manner. In many houses, the number of tasks they perform sometimes increases without a change in their salary or other benefits,” says Sister Celia, a social worker based in Bangalore who has for over 18 years championed the cause of domestic workers and other women employed in the informal economy. It was Celia who motivated domestic workers in the state to launch the Karnataka Domestic Workers’ Union (KDWU) in the early 1990s. KDWU was formally registered in 2003-04 as a trade union. Presently, it has 2000 members from various areas in east Bangalore, the Cantonment area and towns in the northern parts of the state such as Bijapur and Gulbarga.
KDWU encourages domestic workers to seek dignified treatment at their work places, a living wage proportionate to inflation, a weekly holiday, sick leave and annual vacation without deduction of salary and notice period or a month’s wages for termination of services. In many cases, domestic workers in Karnataka have been successful in making ‘days off with payment’ as a standard employment condition. However, domestic workers tend to be the first suspects and are often penalized when money or other valuables are misplaced or lost. For instance, Kokila, a young worker form Byapannahalli in Bangalore was falsely implicated in a robbery case by her employer of two months. KDWU managed to petition and convince the office of the Labour Commissioner to have the complaint against the woman dropped. Kokila was given three months salary as compensation.
“Domestic workers lack fundamental employee rights as their place of work is more than one; that is, multiple houses, usually. Further, employers fear that granting domestic workers or ‘servants’ (as many people still refer to them) even basic respect or humane treatment could pose a threat to the authority inside the home. Hence, it is tough to define or control our job from outside, unlike in other unorganized sectors,” says Sharanamma, a long-time domestic worker, who in her forties is the KDWU president. The union is initiating efforts to gather information through the RTI Act about how many police stations have pending complaints against domestic workers. Additionally, the women plan to determine the number of colleagues or workers jailed for theft.
Having started as a saving group of around 25 women, KDWU advises members about the importance of pooling money collectively and loaning to a member, if necessary. All members receive identity cards with photographs and relevant information as well as assistance in accessing government benefits and entitlements such as Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana or National Health Insurance Scheme, the Rajiv Awas Yojana or Rajiv Housing Scheme and Social Security for Unorganised Workers Act 2008. Pushed by prolonged demands, the International Labour Organisation finally passed a resolution (C189) to identify domestic work as labour with necessary regulations and provisions, on June 16, 2011. The International Domestic Workers Network, to which many domestic workers’ unions from all over the world are affiliated, proclaimed the day as International Domestic Workers Day to bring the ground realities of the group into focus. It serves as a reminder to everyone about the unheralded contribution of domestic workers to the Gross Domestic Product of a country, in addition to the significance of their occupation.
According to Sashikala, another long-time domestic worker and former head of KDWU, a few years ago the Labour Department in the Government of Karnataka had constituted a Karmikara (Workers) committee and invited representatives of various unorganised professions to be a part of it. For the past three years, she has been one among the 19 worker members of the committee that meets every month with the state minister for labour, bureaucrats and other relevant officers from the government. “Previously I had no courage to talk in the open about our problems. Now I am able to convince other domestic workers to fight for their rights and entitlements,” Sashikala points out.
Unlike trade unions in factories or other organizations and institutions, members of KDWU do not go on strike when their demands are not met. But the women have staged public meetings to create awareness about the challenges they face and to seek support for such campaigns. The activities focus on the need for dignified treatment of domestic workers, fair wages and benefits. Another task that KDWU undertakes is the running of an informal job placement system that usually functions by word of mouth. Members have learnt to negotiate payment and timings in keeping with workload. KDWU has an executive body of 15 elected members who convene on a monthly basis to review the status of ongoing activities and other administrative tasks. Many of the members try to meet every week in their respective neighourhoods to identify and intervene if any local problems such as gender-related harassment arise, and try to mobilize new members. Each quarter, women from all the areas gather to discuss specific issues they encounter and provide feedback on some of the initiatives taken. The union has links with their counterparts in Tamil Nadu as well as international domestic workers and other labour unions and women’s movements which enables them to build solidarity across geographical boundaries. It pays off when they have to struggle against common issues such as gender discrimination and advocate for legislations that impact their lives and livelihoods.
Sejal and Pulkit Parikh, a young couple who lived in Bangalore and were employed in the IT industry in the city before they moved to Delhi two years ago, had sourced their domestic worker through a workers’ union that operates from south Bangalore and a few other towns in Karnataka. Their observation: “The terms set by the union were reasonable, favourable and acceptable to us and the lady who did our household work. We also realized the issues that many domestic workers continue to face, like exploitation and oral and physical abuse from their multiple employers and their own families that typically consist of irresponsible alcoholic husbands.” It is heartening that at least a small percentage of domestic workers get such understanding and supportive employers, some of whom also provide financial assistance for the education of their children or during medical or other emergencies.
                                                                                                                                        -Grassroot 

India: Healthcare needs intervention

Patralekha Chatterjee
A cosmetic dentist from Toronto blogs that stripped of pretence, doctor-prestige and professional posturing, ‘dentists are basically tooth carpenters and dental hygienists are gum gardeners.’ It is an interesting thought. If dentists are nothing but ‘tooth carpenters’ or ‘gum gardeners,’ can carpenters and gardeners be equipped with basic dentistry skills in a country that is woefully short of dentists?
Facetious as it may sound, the argument goes to the heart of a raging debate in India.
The past week provided snapshots of the multiple failures of India’s public health system. Television channels showed us a ward boy (who reportedly doubled up as a janitor) undertaking a surgical procedure in a government hospital in Uttar Pradesh. Barely had that image registered, there were similar reports from other places — a cleaner without surgical gloves assisting in an operation in another UP government hospital; a generator operator treating patients in Bihar and a janitor caught administering sutures to a patient at West Bengal’s largest and eastern India’s premier medical research institute.
In the beginning, it was shock and outrage. Everyone was appalled though there was little in those images that we did not know or suspect. The reactions follow two distinct schools of thought. The first slams the medical establishment for tolerating such a state of affairs and demands action. The second posits that instead of demonising the ward boy and the hospital administrations, we should actually be lauding them because India’s alarming shortage of physicians and health workers means we have to innovatively use whatever human resources that are available.
The two viewpoints may appear to clash. But they can make common cause.
Everyone knows that India’s healthcare system is in shambles and this is partly due to the desperate shortage of human resources. A recent report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry pointed out that in the next 10 years, the number of doctors needs to be doubled from its current figure of 0.75 million; nurses need to be tripled from 3.7 million and paramedics and technician assistants need to be quadrupled from 2.75 million.
Dealing with this problem is not easy but it is not rocket science. States like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have shown how scarcity of medical and health professionals can be handled through better management and innovative steps. Proposed changes in the medical education system will have an impact in the long run. But till then, we have an emergency on hand.
What should be done? First, as the dentist blogger said, we have to start demystifying the medical profession. An MBBS doctor is not vital for every task in every health setting. It is not just the paddy farmers in China, trained to be Barefoot Doctors, who have proved so, there are many indigenous examples. Community workers in the tsunami-ravaged Nicobar Islands who underwent training in Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood illness saved many newborns amid death and destruction.
‘Task shifting’ is an idea whose time has come. My grouse is that we are passing up a valuable opportunity to address the issue seriously. High decibel outrage has led to the shunting out of the Chief Medical Superintendent of the Bulandshahr government hospital and suspension of the ward boy who was carrying out tasks meant for medical personnel. Both are knee-jerk, damage-control measures.
Instead of that, we should be task shifting, especially when there is a shortage of doctors or in an emergency situation. Yet, we must have minimum standards and agree on non-negotiables in a health centre or hospital. We can train people who don’t necessarily have MBBS degrees to do many tasks that doctors traditionally undertake. But such people must first go through a standardised paramedic training course that has a proper syllabus and certification. Shortages and resource constraints notwithstanding, any institution offering healthcare has to maintain minimum standards in critical areas and be open to continuous monitoring. This does not mean we should turn a blind eye to doctor absenteeism.
The Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010, is a step in this direction. But it is being vigorously opposed by various doctors’ bodies. They call it undue interference. Then, there is the hypocrisy from many policymakers and policy commentators — demanding a functioning healthcare system but resenting any attempt to invigorate it through additional funds. So, the circular arguments continue. It’s time to get beyond that. India’s healthcare system needs surgery, medication and stitching up. They do not have to be done by the same set of people.
         The author is a Delhi-based writer. patralekha.chatterjee@gmail.com 


Bedside Medicine

                                                                                                         Prof. B. M. Hegde,
                                                                                                         hegdebm@gmail.com
Examination of the cardiovascular system:
Although for the convenience of learning and teaching single system diseases are discussed separately the student should remember that no system could work independently in the dynamic human system that works in tandem with the human mind and its environment.
Cardiovascualr system diseases that manifest predominantly with signs in the system have certain presenting features that need to be specially elicited in the course of talking with the patients.
They are:
• Pain in the chest.
• Shortness of breath.
• Oedema of the ankles,
• Dizziness
• Palpitations
• Syncope
• Fatigue
Pain in the chest:
• Where is the pain-exact location?
• How severe is the pain?
• Can you describe the pain in your own words? This gives the examiner an opportunity to asses its severity as well as its significance.
• Does the pain radiate any where else?
• Is the pain associated with any heaviness, tightness or a feeling a rope being tied round your chest?  Significant angina pain is preceded by wall motion abnormality resulting in transitory pulmonary oedema giving rise to these symptoms. They make the diagnosis of angina certain
• How long did the pain last? Any chest pain lasting longer than half an hour is unlikely to be simple angina.
• How did the pain get better? Did you take any medicine? Exertional stable angina could get better on its own at rest. Relief of chest pain after taking nitrates indicates the diagnosis of cardiac ischaemic pain.
• Was the pain related to (deep) breathing? If yes, it is likely to be plural pain and not angina.
• Did the pain come at rest? This denotes many of the intermediate coronary syndromes.
• Was the pain coming on only on exertion-usual or unusual?
• Was the pain related to emotional upsets?
• Did the pain get relieved by rest or change of position? Angina decubitous.
• How long did it take for the pain to ease after taking rest? Long standing non stop pains are not likely to be cardiac in origin.
• Was the pain associated with nausea? Possible stimulation of the autonomic nervous system, more likely to be a myocardial infarction rather than angina.
• Was there profuse sweating? Another of the above signs.
• Was there a sense of impending doom with the pain coming on?
• While there are plenty of causes for casual pain in the chest, 
• The pain of myocardial ischaemia has certain characteristic features that the patient would be able to give the details of the pain when probed. The student should take care not to lead the patient in any particular direction having prejudged the diagnosis. The pain could vary in its severity from very mild to the most severe unbearable pain. Although it is usually central chest pain, it could occasionally dominantly be felt in the left hand, upper abdomen, and pinna of the ears, lower jaw and, even in the back of the chest. However, mild pain is always present in the central chest region along with other distributions just described.
The tell tale feature of cardiac myocardial ischaemic pain is the tightness in the chest invariably associated with the pain. The pain fibres are only present in the pericardium and not inside the myocardium. As such a significant wall motion abnormality resulting from ischaemia produces sheer stress stretching of the pericardium giving rise to pain in the chest. The wall motion abnormality produces increased end diastolic left ventricular pressure which in turn gets transmitted to the lungs producing transitory pulmonary oedema giving rise to the tight feeling or even shortness of breath along with the pain. This is very characteristic of chest pain due to cardiac ischaemia. 
Anginal pain does not last more than half an hour and gets relieved on its own. Any prolonged pain suggests either intermediate coronary syndrome (unstable angina) or a full blown myocardial infarction.
Shortness of breath:
Another very important symptom of a compromised heart function. Classically, it is on unusual exertion gradually progressing to breathlessness on less and less exertion to eventually settle down to breathlessness at rest if untreated. Rarely one could become suddenly breathless if there has been a massive myocardial infarction resulting in a large chunk of the heart muscle getting damaged suddenly or if there is a sudden large mitral leak due to the same cause as above or a sudden large ventricular septal defect.
Shortness of breath of varying grades is a sine-quo-non of any genuine myocardial ischaemic (angina) pain. Chest pain without this added symptom is of doubtful origin and might not be true ischaemic pain that needs further evaluation. Any significant area of myocardial ischaemia does produce wall motion abnormalities of the left ventricle resulting in acute temporary pulmonary oedema.
Shortness of breath and its severity bears a close parallel with the seriousness of the underlying cause and gives a clue to its progress either way. Instead of having artificial classification of breathlessness as is usually done it is better to record individual patient’s exertional capacity top keep a tab on the progress of the disease or its regression after treatment. Breathlessness is very individualistic as it also depends on the person’s previous exercise tolerance.
Shortness of breath:
• What do you mean by breathlessness? Psychological breathlessness could be differentiated by this story. Most of the time it is just sighing and not true breathlessness.
• How long have you been having this breathing difficulty?
• Has it been getting worse over a period of time? Suggests seriousness of the present episode.
• Is it related to exertion and if so what type of exertion? Depending on the answer one could classify shortness of breath into four New York Classification.
• Do you get breathless while going about your normal daily chores?
• Does the breathlessness restrict your activities?
• Is the breathlessness associated with chest pain?
• Are you breathless at rest?
• Can you sleep comfortably at night? To find out if paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnoea is present or not.
• How many pillows do you use at night?
• Did you ever have to get up with acute shortness of breath wanting to have some fresh air? Classical description of paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnoea.
• Was the breathlessness preceded by dry cough for days or weeks? Evidence of early transitory pulmonary oedema.
• Does emotional upset bring on breathlessness?
• Do you have palpitations associated with breathlessness attacks? Suggests cardiac arrhythmias.
• Do you get relieved after taking rest?
Oedema of ankles:
Dependent oedema is not unusual in those obese patients especially if they also have varicose veins. But in others who are otherwise healthy conspicuous oedema around the ankles and feet is a sign that all is not well either with the heart or the kidneys. To make the distinction the following questions would help.
• How long have you been having this swelling?
• Does it disappear in the mornings when you get up from bed? Early heart failures.
• Is it associated with any swelling of your lower eyelids? When present it might suggest renal origin of the oedema.
• Do you pass enough urine as before?
• Do you get sharp pain in the calf muscles when you dorsiflex your feet? A sign of deep vein thrombosis, but it is usually unilateral.
• Is the swelling gradually increasing in severity?
• Do you feel any fullness in the tummy? To look for ascites.
• Has this ankle swelling been associated with shortness of breath on exertion?
Dizziness:
• Dizziness means different things to different people. It is helpful to ask the patient to explain what s/he means by dizziness. The following questions then will make sense.
• Do you have this feeling when you get up from a sitting or lying position? Rule out positional vertigo.
• Is the feeling related to change in the position of your neck and head?
• Does it get better on its own? 
• Do you go round in circles or does the world goes round around you?
• Have you ever fallen down with sudden dizziness?
• Do you feel dizzy on exertion only-usual or unusual?
• Do you feel dizzy when you suddenly get up from the chair after sitting for a long time or getting up from the bed? This could happen in elderly people because of decreased autonomic control, it could happen in people on large doses of anti-hypertensive drug therapy, or in the elderly after a large meal, or in diabetics with advanced neuropathy.
Palpitations:
In the true sense of the word palpitation means that the patient is aware of his heart beating. Anxiety is probably the cause of palpitations in the vast majority of patients. Palpitations due to heart disease are due to either a sudden onset of a new arrhythmia, marked left ventricular hypertrophy, or extreme tachycardia. The following questions will get you the diagnosis.
• How did the palpitation start? A sudden start and an abrupt cessation is a very good sign of PAT-paroxysmal atrial tachycardia. It is otherwise called alarm clock palpitations.
• Does it start gradually and then taper off also gradually. Most of the time anxiety related.
• Can you tap on my table to denote how you felt the palpitation? This tells the examiner if the arrhythmia is regular or irregular when the patient taps on the table top with his finger tips.
• Did you ever have sweating, dizziness, and profuse urine output after an attack of sudden palpitation? Typical of atrial tachycardia.
• Is the palpitation related to emotional upset?
Syncope:
Syncopal attacks are very difficult to decipher unless there has been good eye witness evidence. One might have to resort to Holter monitoring to finally decide. However, majority of syncopal attacks could be deciphered on the bedside.
• How did you know that something had happened to you? Was there an eye witness? If yes, it would help to interrogate the eye witness as well.
• Did you have any premonition of the impending attack of syncope?
• Do you think you had a fit? Did you have any froth in the mouth when you came to your senses or did you hurt yourself in any way?
• Is there is any special circumstance that brought on the attack or did it come like a bolt from the blue?
• Did you have any unusual exertion preceding the attack? Syncopal attacks due to obstructive cardiomyopathy could be preceded by exertion but arrhythmic attacks do not have any such need. Most of the time intermittent complete heart block produces the Stokes Adams attacks, but runs of tachy-arrhythmias come do the same.
• Rarely do people, especially hypochondriacs, might feign a syncopal attack and might derail the doctor’s enquiry into the episode.
• A detailed drug history is very important here. Large doses of cardio-selective beta-blockers might be one of the causes of syncopal attacks due to heart blocks or extreme bradycardia.
Contd. in next issue......