Tuesday, April 9, 2013

EDITOR'S COLUMN


Friends

We are well into the new financial year. Both, Railway Budget and Union Budget are already out and life appears to be moving gingerly ahead without any radical shift of fortune, except that the anticipated share market revival has not taken place.

Summer months are round the corner hence the mercury is steadily going up. Also going up is the political heat. With developments of different nature, political parties are taking diverse stands which can affect political permutations and combinations. There is unease in New Delhi’s corridors of power. There is speculation that there could be election to the Lok Sabha earlier than 2014. Election to the Karnataka Assembly has already been announced for next month. Atmosphere is really hot but uncertain. Incumbent party may have to pay for incumbency factors. Who will come to power at Bangalore is difficult question to answer. It looks co-alition is going to return to state politics. In any case, let’s hope that there is deliverance to the harassed people of Karnataka.

There was a very pleasant surprise when we received a feedback from a young lady, as young as, all of 16 years. A 10th Std. CBSE student, the youngest to respond, in a language far beyond her age. Meghna Achar has really made our day with her incisive observation. We are indeed touched. Hope she continues to read I & C and regularly reverts with her valued feedback.

International Women’s Day, is an annual feature on 8th of March every year. We have taken up the issue under Focus for the importance it deserved. However, how politician and police joined to-gether to hijack the feminine movement, despite the loud positive noises of the political class is something known, but not discussed. We have tried to combine both issues for its relevance. Hope readers will find it interesting and worth your time. Do revert as usual with your considered inputs. Rest as usual.



MONTH IN PERSPECTIVE


KARNATAKA: A recent drubbing BJP received in the elections to Municipal Councils and Corporations is a fair indictment of the party for its failure to remain a coherent political outfit. For far too long, the bickerings within the party, corruption scandals and of course unfriendly media all contributed to the decline of the party in Karnataka. Yediyurappa factor may have influenced to some extent the outcome, since BSY and his coterie of Dhananjay Kumar & others are vengeful to settle political scores. There cannot be any comparison between BJP and KJP. KJP simply cannot replace BJP, forget about becoming a political force in Karnataka. Most people, if not all, are only there in KJP for power and its crumbs, and certainly not to serve the cause of people and democracy. While BJP has to address its internal problems to the liking of general public, if they have to improve their share of votes in the hustings. KJP should stop dreaming that they have arrived. Of course Congress got it because of the anti-incumbency factor, not because they will be better than the losing side. But there is a perception in public domain that BJP administration has been more corrupt and that outfits like Bajrang Dal has only helped it in denting its image. Hence all appears to be negative rejection rather than positive development. Hope at least the result would lead to some pro-people development. 

TAMIL NADU: For long, we at I & C had envisioned how a cycle can be modified for varieties of application, not merely for its near nil maintenance, but also for its low initial investment. We had designed a tricycle with potential for many self employment opportunities. The local educational institution, the NITK Surathkal, being a deemed university had funds available to nurture community initiatives, informs a source. But when approached, a former director simply brushed aside and appeared unhelpful in even having a talk. This was a typical bureaucratic approach. 
Now comes this news from Chennai “Where bicycle helps reap a harvest”. It was heartening to note that a marginal farmer Gopal Bhise of Jalgaon in Maharashtra could develop an inexpensive contraption to plough farms in place of bullocks or tractor. And it costs only ` 1200/- . Of course, it was case of “necessity becoming mother of invention”. Costing only ` 1200/-, it is a boon to some 200 farmers already. This innovation which won him the National Innovation Award must be nationally developed by government agencies, not only to make him better off for his invention but also to make it available across the country for all those who are in need of such help. Otherwise, how do you serve the aam aadmi? Only by talking to the galleries?

GUJARAT: We all recognise that 2002 sectarian flare-up in Gujarat, post Godhra torching of the train, is an experience we all want to put behind and go on with life. It will help nobody, least of all those who suffered, to keep the memory alive of the horrendous cruelty of man to man in the name of religion. But we are all privy to the fact that there are those, whose job is only to fish in the troubled water to keep cooking their daily meals and occasional biriyaani. Everybody is aware that there have been failures on the part of administration to prevent and stop the gory happenings. Was it planned or spontaneous or both in parts, are questions not completely answered despite effort to fix responsibility. In the meanwhile time is making its inroads to the lives of people of Gujarat to look forward with renewed hope. However, it is pertinent to note with concern, how some of the so-called social workers with their NGOs are not welcome anymore to the places of residence of those who suffered. Reportedly, residents of Gulberg society in Ahmedabad have urged police commissioner to ban the entry of NGOs and their men and women, to their residential enclave. According to society residents, the 2002 riots are used by NGOs and others who visit the enclave every year on 28th Feb to show 'solidarity' with the victims and use it for their narrow ends. It is true that some NGOs have collected huge funds from both national and international sources, ostensibly to help victims of 2002 horror, and made all kinds of promises under media glare. But residents are deeply disappointed that these NGOs only used them and did nothing at all for their welfare. Echoing deep bitterness towards this exploitation by NGOs, they have ended their letter to the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner, saying “We are living peacefully and we do not want any support from these NGOs, who have done nothing for us.” Yes, somewhere along the line, all of us have to take the call, who in the ultimate analysis keep the society divided?

PUNJAB: The way Shikhar Dhawan, the latest with the test cap, announced his arrival on 16th March at Mohali with a classic 185 not out, he proved two things. One, Virendra Sehwag who was earlier dropped due to poor form, would have real difficulty in making his comeback to the Indian test side. The second is more important one, and might as well be a poor commentary on the selection committee in particular and cricket administration in general. He had earned the player of the series recognition of under 19 matches in 2004. So it took almost 10 years to make a decision on this very promising young man. There are players waiting in the wings-not one but may be a dozen-very deserving to be called to the Indian test side, but for some unexplained reasons, they are left in lurch, always hoping against hope. This brings the cricket administrators to this sorry state of affairs. If you could drop Sehwag, why is Sachin Tendulkar a holy cow? How many times he had failed and this BCCI left the decision to retire to Tendulkar himself! Ganguli left on his own, so did Dravid, so was VVS Laxman, so what is stopping Tendulkar from calling it quits? He is touching 40, the oldest in the team. If he is not going gracefully he should be asked to go. Sad part is, except, Saurav Ganguly, none had the guts to ask for his scalp, besides that of Dhoni too. 
There has to be an open debate on this, both in the media and on public platform. Tendulkar is making himself very cheap, and BCCI is playing with the future of many talented youth by their inaction and indecisiveness. It is a truth staring at them.

MAHARASHTRA: The clamour among cine artistes, including Jaya Bachchan an MP and wife of Amitab Bachchan, for clemency for Sanjay Dutt is really amusing. The apex court, although after 20 years, has awarded him a mere 5 years in prison, has gone into the entire gamut of his crime. Infact, even if they had included him under TADA, which was again, justifiable according to some legal eagles, it could have been pretty serious. Arguments put forth by all and sundry, makes it a clear case of preferential application of law for only some. It is only because Sanjay Dutt is a film star with parents who were both film stars and members of parliament, that the film fraternity has come rushing to make a case. Of course, for PCI chairman to appeal to Maharashtra Governor is highly misplaced. Prima facie, he shouldn’t get involved in such things at all. There are enough and more to take up issues on behalf of film stars. As soon as he jumped in, there were many ministers too joined the chorus with only agenda in their mind. Or else, there are thousands of under trials and convicts in the jails across the country many of whom are having far more deserving case than this Sanjay Dutt, and no-body is feeling bad about them. If anything, people like Katju, should take up their case, than asking TV anchor to provide details of prisoners with deserving case, so that he can take up their causes too. In recent past he has been walking in and out of controversies at regular intervals which truly affect the dignity of his office. He must try to control his impulsive nature in the interest of his current office and of his former position as Supreme Court Justice.
It is universally felt and probably even experienced that more often than not it is women themselves who are against women than men. Here it is the case of a lady who suffered sexual harassment in a multinational company and hence helpless fighting the money bag. A Mumbai date lined report “NCW throws out sexual harassment victims plea for help”, has informed that, since the case is in court, NCW cannot interfere. This is patently unfair to a lady fighting a hugely powerful adversary. The case is on since early 2011, and the victim had approached NCW seeking only help in her battle with the MNC. But it slept over it for some 18 months and recently, reportedly closed the file, informing the victim that it is subjudice. These government agencies manned by influence peddlers, getting huge payments from tax payers money, are there, mostly to warm chairs. There has to be accountability for these commissions to justify their useful existence. 'If the protectors of women’s rights become a mute spectator, where will women like me, who show courage to battle against injustice go? Is there nobody who can be held accountable to ensure that women’s interest are protected?' asks the victim. They are good questions and government must answer them.
A Mumbai date lined report informed “RBI rejects money laundering charges against three Pvt. Banks”. Reportedly, one of the deputy governors of RBI, KC Chakrabarthy was reacting to the sting operation conducted by a private TV channel, Head Lines To-day, stating 'there has been no transaction'. Under-cover journos of this channel had met some managers of these banks, HDFC, ICICI & AXIS Bank, with the possibility of cash deposits of some 50 lakhs or so. Apparently they had bitten the bait and had agreed to go along, despite KYC norms being in place. That no transaction took place is no defence at all, since Rs: 50 lakh is not a small amount, which can be organised like pocket money. But the fact that the officials of the bank were ready to play along is enough to establish the intention to act. In fact, the very move by the named banks offering to go into the allegation was good enough to indicate, where the wind was blowing.
Besides, the allegation by Senior Supreme Court Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, which he claims as fool proof, against Veer Bhadra Singh,  a senior politician, of having deposited Rs: 6 crores in Punjab National Bank, a public sector Bank, is a case strangely even media did not follow up. According to Bhushan 12  monthly payments of  ` 50 lakhs were made into the bank. When caught by the I.T., he was allowed to file a new I.T. return to pay tax and declared the money as income from his orchards. Not only nobody made any issue of this allegation, he was made the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. What do we call this? So for RBI to come to the defence of pvt banks is case of acting in haste, which normally lead to repent at leisure.

UTTAR PRADESH: One year into the governance, the Samajwadi Party is in no mood to celebrate, thanks to the logjam of scandals of all kinds. Having come back to power, defeating BSP, promising better Law and Order situation, the government of young Akhilesh Yadav is nowhere near the promised betterment. If any, it has worsened. In fact it lost power on previous occasion to BSP was on deterioration of Law & Order and BSP has also been sent packing on the same issue. So the problem with U.P. perse is law and order, probably, a section of people with money and muscle power have always held the state to ransom, and police have only extended this to their benefits many a time.
Take for instance the case of the brazen killings of DSP Zia-ul-Haque by the goons of the notorious Raghuraj Pratap Singh urf Raja Bhaiya. Although CM Akhilesh Yadav intends better governance, his father Mulayam Singh and his coterie of Azam Khan, Shivpal Yadav & others have managed to hijack the administration. The Chief Minister is only going in circles and has been reduced to be a puppet of these criminal elements. As it appears, the honey moon may be over. BSP may still call the shots, since they had large % of votes despite losing the power, should the election come by.

NEW DELHI: Ravindranath Tagore, is a venerated name not just in Bengal but all over India for the iconic influence he had on the Indian psyche, as a thinker and poet of international repute. He had won Nobel Prize for his anthology of poems ‘Geetanjali’ in 1913. His works are translated into all major global languages. But somehow, it remained to be translated to our very own Urdu language, spoken and read by a section of the Indian society, so also by Pakistan.
It is indeed very strange, that proponents of this language took hundred years to appreciate the value of Tagore’s writing. If a far off place like Sweden could smell the flavour of Ravindra Sangeetha, it is a sad commentary on the politics within the ‘family’ in India. After all, Urdu is an Indian language, used in Mughal Darbar and other assorted kingdoms.
While no explanations may be needed, it is important to realise that these manmade mental barriers can really create walls of suspicion and linger to widen the chasm within the social fabric of India. We all need to break such barriers in the larger national interest. Tagore was an universal humanist and therefore welcomed universally. Hence it is little wonder that Bangladesh has made his poem “Amar Sonar Bangla”, as its national anthem.
The latest translation effort shall, hopefully, build bridges within the Indian social mosaic.
Doesn’t this appear little funny! You have a guy, who was in the centre of a major controversy involving huge pay off or something similar. Then he is investigated and sent to jail. Repeatedly he was denied bail, and then one fine day, claiming a precedence, he manages to convince the court and gets bail. So he is a free man, although with dos and donts. He walks upto the inquiry committee of the same controversy and offers to appear before the committee to throw some brighter light to the clouded dark sides of the controversy. In all fairness and therefore logic, it could be a win-win situation to both, if it helps to know at least some truth if not the whole truth.
But, believe it or not, he is not welcome to this inquiry committee. Committee is probably even uncomfortable with the whole idea.
No wonder a newspaper even called JPC, Joint Parliamentary Cover-up, for the reluctance this JPC is showing in allowing A. Raja, the former Telecommunication Minister to present his side of the story.
Reportedly A. Raja, has written to the Lok Sabha Speaker offering to appear before the JPC probing the 2G Scam. But there is a possibility, according to the media, that Raja’s wish may, after all, be denied. The logic or the explanation given, is, he is likely to put the onus of his actions, while as Telecom Minister, on the then Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Besides, if Raja is coming to JPC to depose, the deposition by both FM and PM cannot be denied, as demanded by non-Congress members in the JPC. So is it a catch 22 situation for the chairman of JPC-PC Chacko?!  In any case, JPC will be making a great disservice to the country, if they do not give an opportunity to A. Raja to make a clean breast of himself, or is the Joint Parliamentary Committee is an effort at cover-ups to protect holy cows of the party in power?!
Isn’t it funny that somebody who ‘loves life’ is being accused of committing suicide. And if committing suicide is the only intention, would it take over 12 years to do that, and is still living?
But that is exactly what the government of India is trying to prove. Irom Sharmila, is on fast unto death since 2nd Nov. 2000. So the fast is on its 13th year. She is on fast demanding that Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) be repealed. It was around the same time that Assam Rifle had shot dead some 10 civilians waiting at a bus stop at Malom, Manipur. Application of AFSPA in disturbed areas has been dealing with insurgency. For varieties of reason, AFSPA has not helped solve the problem, instead it has only fanned desalination between the governor and the governed. There is a deep seated sense of helplessness at the arbitrary nature of army personnel’s actions. Unfortunately no government has honestly tried to bridge the growing gulf. Therefore Sharmila’s hunger strike, the most non-violent way of protest against the violence of army and the insensitivity of govt. apparatus, has to be seen. Of course, she has been kept alive by the govt. by force feeding her through nasal tube for over a decade.
But the fact remains, it has been absolutely non-violent. For the government to arrest her on attempted suicide makes a joke of the whole exercise and exposes the tentativeness of the govt.
If the government has to redeem itself, there has to be soul searching in its use of laws, to curb differences among its diverse population. Of course dealing with a kind of population mix India has, it can be an extremely trying exercise, but that is no reason for gross violation of people’s human rights. There has to be a sea change in the way we deal with the disaffection among our people. We must take all on board to bring about an inclusive society. That’s the clarion call.
Former Supreme Court Justice and current PCI Chairman is in the news these days, far too frequently. But, unfortunately, for all wrong reasons. Latest being that of his diktats on educational qualifications to budding journalists. While, it is OK for him to give his impressions, since, as free people, we are entitled to our opinions, to insist and to harp on it, is certainly very unbecoming of his quasi-judicial status. He has certainly belittled both the position.
It may not be appropriate to call Justice Katju as a megalomaniac, he is bit of a nut case, trying only to hog limelight by making controversial statements. Ever since he took over as chairman of PCI he has been making one statement or another, inconsistent with his quasi-judicial position.
His remarks and the so-called fact finding report on Bihar has understandably irked Nitish Kumar, the Bihar CM. He accused Katju of ‘brazenly violating’ his constitutional post and that he has crossed the lines of dignity, that behoves his position. “The incumbent PCI chief has no business to indulge in making biased, motivated, ill-tempered & political comments against other constitutional persons. The PCI chairman must be mindful of facts and must respect the democratic and constitutional institutions all the time”. Nitish Kumar had blasted Katju.
Of course, the most talked about issue was his article on Narendra Modi, attacking him for his alleged 2002 post Godhra riot in Gujarat and his alleged prime ministerial ambition, and then following it up with publishing in a Pakistani news paper Express Tribune. While as PCI Chairman, to write about political figures holding constitutional position, should be a ‘no-no’, his duplicating it in Pak media, only to spite BJP, shows his political meanness. It is absolutely in bad taste. If BJP has asked the president to sack him, it is not an unfair demand. They are only echoing what Nitish Kumar had said.
In independent India, it’s a long held view, that, our official policy has always been to “cry with the poor and side the rich”. This thought crossed the mind when media reported “Anubhuti ticket to cost more than 1st AC in Shatabdi”. The term ‘Anubhuti’ is a Sanskrit connotation describing a situation of higher level of pleasure or enjoyment or can be called peak of happiness. Surely every higher level of pleasure or enjoyment has to have a higher payment of price, hence the title “Anubhuti ticket to cost more than 1st A.C Shatabdi”. Here it is important to note that Shatabdi is a fully A.C. train without general compartment. It has 1st class A.C compartments, AC-2 and AC-3. It is a luxary train, and luxary is differentiated as AC:3, the lowest, with 8 passengers per bay and AC:2 with 6 passengers per bay and only 4 passengers per bay in AC 1st class. These classes have fare tags accordingly. Thus if ‘Anubhuti is going to be more expensive than AC 1st class in Shatabdi, then the issue is very clear, you are targeting only the rich class. Pawan Kumar Bansal, the new Railway Minister in his maiden budget had suggested only 1 coach per train, so that it remains exclusive. You are already having 1st class AC for the rich why this super luxury coach? For minister himself and his entourage? Other important and influential ministers and their families? For senior babus with political connection? Or else, from revenue point, how much will it really help the railway bottom line? So, the system will work for the powerful, influential and the rich. It has always worked that way all these years. But this is a newer way to higher pleasure. Kya baath hai! And we are serving aam aadmi, isn’t it! Yeh Mera India.
Dependent on free lance political outfits like Samajawaadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, the UPA has done the most unthinkable. It appointed the outgoing director of CBI Ashwin Kumar, as Governor of Nagaland. It is well known that the gubernatorial posts are given to the ruling party’s old war horses and its friends in the administration, including high profile babus, as a reward for the so-called good work for the party or the government in power. By this logic, Ashwin Kumar is a friend and well wisher of UPA. Since he was the director of ‘Congress’ Bureau of Investigation, the reward has come about.
CBI, which normally means Criminal Bureau of Investigation is supposedly an independent body, but only supposedly. In reality it played the ball for ruling party. Its record is well known as a hand maiden of the government in power. Most problems in the country and why they sustain and proliferate is only because of this unwritten, but unfortunately accepted, subservience of CBI to the party in power. The Anna Kejriwal combine with media help has continuously crusaded against this blatant subjugation of the agency. But the appointment of Ashwin Kumar has only confirmed this long held view.
The month of International Women’s Day would be over by March end, to be knocking around 12 months later. Lots must have been spoken about. But the kitchen and the women folks who man  this most important part of the household was not spoken about at all.
The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington, had initiated the collation of Global Burden of Disease (GRD) data. This GRD data reportedly had demonstrated, household air pollution as major killer.
In the India specific analysis, it was found that, burning of solid fuel in stoves inside a poorly ventilated kitchen is a major cause of death. This threw two aspects. One is the use of alternative fuel and then having windows in kitchen area of the house. While alternative fuel has different factors influencing its availability, what can be done easily and fast is the opening of cross ventilation windows in the kitchen. It was conclusively found by Chest Research Foundation of Pune that more than smokers, lung infections had affected those with poor ventilation in kitchen leading to accumulation of invisible soot particles getting embedded in lungs leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
While poor people who are used to this kind of health status, may not complain, the Ministery of Health can take the call to address the issue, more as a preventive measure than as a curative approach, which is the general norm. As we approach the Millennium Development Goal (M.D.G.) in 2015, it may be worth an attempt.
Strange are the ways laws are interpreted, acted upon and probably enforced only as per the convenience. In a democracy, this was not expected. But that is exactly what is happening.
Election related laws are funny. Last month centre told Supreme Court that convicted MPs and MLAs cannot be disqualified. According to the explanation by Ministry of Law & Justice any forfeiture of membership would reduce the strength of the house and would accordingly decrease the numbers of members of the political party concerned. It would lead to ‘deleterious’ effect on the functioning of the govt. surviving on razor thin majority.
To know this logic, you don’t need a Law Ministry. But how can the court take it? And now comes the news of MPs or MLAs caught in the excess expenditure tangle. When Election commission receives complaint of excess expenditures the concerned MP/MLA is called upon to explain, but found that the MP/MLA in question has truly exceeded the limit, he cannot be disqualified. So says the affidavit filed by the government on behalf of Ashok Chawan. That is rather very strange. So, why do we have these laws after all?

WORLD: Italians have done what France has done earlier. They are only saying ‘you are third world, you cannot brow beat us into submitting to your laws’. Like France did it, Italians are being ‘smarter’ now, by not returning their two marine security guards facing murder charge in India. These two guards had gone to Italy, ostensibly to vote in the Feb. 24-25 elections. But mandarins in MEA and also the urbane, ‘articulative’ minister didn’t realise that they had just gone to Italy for X’mas and returned and therefore they could vote in their embassy premises, like their embassy staff all over the world, wherever they have their chanceries. It is a practice in vogue. This move could have saved the currently ‘tu-tu-mai-mai’ unpleasant situation. It is true that the government has come out very strongly at the betrayal of the Italian government to honour their commitment to the Supreme Court. Despite diplomatic conventions, there could be force-majeure clause in every international covenant.  Hence the detention of Italian Ambassador, may be the done thing under the circumstances.
Taking Q from J & K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah calling the 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru as Afzal Saab, Pakistanis decided to go little further. For long Pakistan is known to be a state sponsoring terrorism. On 14th March, it confirmed that status, by honouring a terrorist, who was a part of the conspiracy to attack the Indian Parliament. 
Pakistani parliament passed a resolution moved by a fundamentalist political party member, while eulogising Afzal it condemned his hanging, besides, asking the international community to interfere.
Prima facie, it is an act of interference in the affairs of another country. Afzal Guru is an Indian by birth and nationality. His act of being a co-conspirator of attack on parliament is an anti-national terrorist act. He has been tried by all competent legal process. There was no room for any doubt on his diabolic role. He deserved to be punished. The civil society debate was only whether, it should be death penalty or life sentence. Now that the death sentence was awarded and carried out, all this acrimony. The unanimous resolution by the Pakistani senate exposes the political bankruptcy of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Against India, with its Hindu majority, Pakistan would do anything in the name of religion. Only this issue unites the whole nation of Pakistan. After 65 years, they could not get out of this retrograde mind set, and that is sad.
J. Shriyan





FOCUS


Politician    Police Partnership &  
International Women’s Day


Like all other annual ritual is this IWD or International Women’s Day. 8th March comes and goes into amnesia like remaining days round the year. It’s the same sun and same moon. Except that, the fairer sex – you mean men are unfairer sex! – take the centre stage at least on that day, to tell the world that they exist, that they too have an identity, so please do not take us for granted, that men, rather the world of homo sapiens, cannot exist without we women, as a mother, as a daughter, as a sister or as a wife or even just as a friend. Yes come to think of it, if women are not there, nothing can happen in this world of men and matters. The whole world recognises, whether its on IWD or any other of the 364 days of the year, that women are indeed an integral part of this earthly life. Yet we have witnessed for all these hundreds of years that man being more masculine has always been aggressive and assertive to the lady, in all her worldly roles. May be that is why, man is an unfair sex and by default woman is a fairer sex.
In recent days we have witnessed in the media, horrendous details of how women of all ages, especially young ones, have been subjected to violent and atrocious attacks by men and police. There are any number of stories, if you go back only one calendar year from 2012, March 8th to 2013, March 8th. Not even one day, the print media has missed a story, in some part of our mother India, that someone, somewhere from the opposite sex has been brutally attacked and physically violated. It could be a child as small as 6 months, brutes among men were worse than wolf or hyena in assaulting her persona.
The recent attack on a para-medical student in New Delhi, by six men, all in their youths with one being juvenile, some months less for 18 years, has brought into sharp focus, the issue of vulnerability of women and cruelty of men. The media attention and the coverage given to the episode by the 24x7 electronic media, did manage to galvanize public opinion across the country. Cutting across the age divide, both men and women remonstrated all over India, especially on the streets of New Delhi, which is not only the administrative capital of the country, but also has been branded with the sobriquet “Rape capital of India”. 
Its not for nothing that New Delhi has earned this notoriety. There are enough and more to justify this adjective.
However, the disease of four lettered attack on the feminine persona is an all India phenomena. Just about all states are in the dock when it comes to this heinous occurrence.  And these occurrences are not confined to only cities, but also a regular feature of semi urban and rural areas. 
In cities they are at least reported, but in rural areas, due to lack of media coverage and varieties of factors like the helplessness of victims these crimes do not become public knowledge or media reportage. What is also a matter of deep concern is the increased attack on small children. On 8th Feb., a Mumbai based paper reported “6 month old baby sexually assaulted”, another report from Goa informed “7 yr old raped in Goa School”. There were other reports from the recent past months, like “Play School owner’s husband drugs and rapes 3 year old”, “School student raped”, “5 year old sexually abused in school”, “Man rapes 6 year old, smashes her face with bricks”, “Cops accused of raping woman in custody”, “7 year old raped in Delhi civic school”, under the caption CAPITAL SHAME, “4 rapes a day in Delhi in 2013” are some of the reports appeared in the print media during Feb/March this year.
These stories of atrocities against women have been there in the public space since the recorded history, all over the world. According to some informed sources, quoting United Nations, one in every three woman is raped or beaten somewhere in the world every day. Thus violation of woman’s body has a long and a global history, not just India alone. However in India, what is a matter of deep concern and seriousness, is the failure of the police machinery across the country, to adequately provide protection to the vulnerable women folks. This phenomenon is unfortunately compounded by the nexus between police and politicians.
Take for instance the Suryanelli rape case involving Rajya Sabha deputy chairman P.J. Kurien. It is a case of, as far back as, 1996. And we are in 2013. A girl of 16, from Suryanelli in Idukki district was abducted by a bus conductor and taken to Kumily Panchayat Guest House, also in Idukki district. Allegedly, she was kept there for 40 days and was raped by 42 men. Although the names of all those rapists are not available in the public domain, P.J. Kurien, who was an union minister in the Narasimha Rao government in 1996 when incident occurred, was an accused then. He managed, allegedly, to remain without being accused, allegedly with the help of police. He is being accused again after 17 years, by the victim who is now 33 years of age, and is a 4th grade state govt. employee at present.
The victim is insisting in her accusation that he was certainly one of the 42 men who abused her. Reportedly she recognized him when she saw his photograph in the news paper, condemning the rape, and had told the police investigating team about PJK being one of the 42 men. However, when PJK’s name was not found in the list of the accused, her family filed a private complaint in the Peermade Magistrate’s court, which found Kurien prima facie guilty. Kerala High Court, however, discharged him saying that case was hoisted against him since police contradicted the evidence of the victim. But the LDF government of EK Nayanar strangely did not proceed against Kurien, after the then DGP Siby Mathews, and Advocate General, M K Damodaran reported that there was no evidence against Kurien despite special prosecutor Janarardhan Kurup pressuring EKN to include Kurien in the list of accused.
What is more strange is when the LDF govt headed by V S Achutanandan challenged the High Court acquittal of Kurien, in the Supreme Court, the appeal was dismissed on technical ground, observing, that in a private complaint, state had no role! Is Supreme Court  the ultimate arbiter of justice or looking for alibis to save the accused? At least it could have gone into the details. But that was not to be. The victim was poor and therefore powerless and moneyless, and hence can be dispensed with. Yes indeed, it is a sin to be a poor and a woman in India.
At the end of it all, the authorities could nail only one accused, advocate Dharmarajan. He was given a jail term of 5 years’ rigorous imprisonment. Out on parole, he absconded to reappear recently to tell a TV channel that Kurien is indeed an accused in the serial-rape case. It was on 19 Feb, 1996, he claimed, that he took Kurien in his car from Vendiperiyar to the Kumili Guest House, where the victim was lodged. According to the convict Dharmarajan, “Kurien went straight into the room where the girl was lodged. He spent half-an-hour with her in the room”.
Women’s Rights Activists fighting for justice for the Suryanelli victim, accuse the former DGP Siby Mathews, of concocting facts to twist the evidence. According to them “DSP K K Joshwa, who probed the case, has revealed that the then DGP Siby Mathews, who headed the SIT that probed the case, had twisted facts to save Kurien and concocted the story of Kurien being at Tiruvalla, some 160kms from Kumily, at the time of rape”. No wonder Siby Mathews was rewarded with the position of State Chief Information Commissioner.
On the face of it, there need not be any particular reason to pointedly refer to Kurien by the victim. She appears to be telling the truth. But this politician-police nexus got the better of the system and a hapless victim is being bandied about as a child prostitute and therefore is of low morals and thus cannot be trusted. But the way PJ Kurien is reacting, the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha is clearly nervous. Strangely Congress President inexplicably not coming to the defence of the victim, despite appeal by the victim’s mother. May be party interest is greater. And can you believe, in the height of this controversy this Kurien and his family are going to Vatican to represent India at the papal anointment. Isn’t it a cruel joke by both the government and the church!
The nexus between Politician & Police has been seen in other cases as well in Kerala. The infamous Ice cream parlour case involving Kunhalikutti, a former Kerala minister is another example of this nefarious association between Police and Politician.
It was way back in 1997, the infamous “Ice Cream Parlour Case” that burst into public scrutiny, after Anweshi, an NGO complained to the police about the goings on in the parlour. According to reports, more than Ice cream vending it was a brothel and meeting place of high and mighty. Some even suggested it was owned by politicians.
It was also alleged that police and members of Kerala legislature combined to stall the investigation to protect themselves and their relatives and friends.
The bigger fish that allegedly escaped the net, due to this PPP, was P.K Kunhalikutty (PKK) of Indian Union of Muslim League, a coalition partner in the then government. It was only due to the persistence of V.S. Achuthanandan (VSA), the then opposition leader, that case was kept alive. However, it was one K.A Rauf, co-brother of Kunhalikutty who turned hostile. On Jan. 28, 2011, he disclosed at a press conference that the minister PKK had in fact influenced several key witnesses in the sex scandal to turn hostile, for money. Kerala police was constrained to register a fresh case on the insistence of VSA, who, in the meanwhile, was the LDF Chief Minister. But the change of government in May 2011, brought back PKK as minister again in the UDF ruled state government. Govt sat over it, with no further progress, just like what they did to Suryanelli rape victim, by rejecting her complaint against PJ Kurien outright.
Thus the PPP continues to play havoc with women, IWD or no IWD.
Recent arrest of Bittihotra Mohanty or Bitti is another case in point. Bitty Mohanty is the son of former Director General of Police of Orissa, was arrested sometime in early 2006, for raping a German National in a hostel in Alwar, Rajasthan. He was convicted, and jailed in March 2006, for 7 years, but was released on parole in Nov. the same year. He vanished from public view with the help of his police father and other political contacts.  He was arrested early this month, after almost 7 years. During this intervening years, he completely forged his recorded identity to masquerade as Raghav Rajan and fooled all and sundry. From changing school certificate, to getting admission to MBA and then working as a Probationary Officer in SBT (State Bank of Travancore) all on the basis of forged documents, is a saga of incredible dimensions. This is what Police Politician Partnership (PPP) can really do, given the opportunity to do. Of course, autonomous dynamics of nature has its own way of expressing itself. One can’t cheat all the people all the time, PPP or no PPP. 
Recently Supreme Court has taken a suo-moto note of media reports on the thrashing of a Dalit woman and her father by the Punjab Police, so also lathi charging of teachers by Bihar police in Patna. They have issued notice to the Chief Secretary of both states. The case of Dalit woman and her father is bizarre. All that she has done was to go to the police to complaint about a truck driver who harassed her sexually. Instead of booking the driver, the police beat up the woman and her father. Similar was the case of teachers in Patna, who were peacefully agitating for regularisation of their services, but instead they got police lathies. Although it is not a case of PPP, it was the police atrocity for no rhyme or reason and political class did nothing to rectify the wrong. Hopefully the Apex Court intervention should lead to some quick and positive development for these suffering women.
Of course there have been cases of women standing up to both police, and politicians, besides thugs. One such case is that of Usha Narayane of Nagpur’s Kasturba Nagar slum.
Reportedly one Akku Yadav with his band of killers, rapists and extortionists was operating his gang’s activities in and around the Nagpur slums, including Kasturba Nagar. Slum was the habitat for Dalits. For almost 15 years he was reportedly lording it over the destinies of these slum dwellers. With Police and help from petty politicians, he managed to keep the slum dwellers suffer in silence. Until one day, he warned a young and educated lady in the slum, who was neighbour to one of his victims, not to complain to the police. It was end of July 2004 and Akku Yadav had no idea what he had bargained. On complaining to the police, the goon came calling to settle the score, with some 40 men, and surrounded Usha’s house. Undaunted, Usha turned the table completely on Akku and his men, by threatening to explode a gas cylinder which would kill her anyway, but cripple all of them too. The gang retreated. The word of Usha’s heroics went around. They took up cudgels under her leadership, and on 6th Aug. 2004, hundreds of slum dwellers marched to this Akku Yadav’s house and burnt it. Sensing the mood of the slum dwellers, Akku surrendered to police, more as an arrangement with police for protection. On 13th Aug. when police brought him to the court, some 200 slum dwellers had already gathered in the court premises, with all kinds of missiles, kitchen knife, chilli powder and stones. As his wont, AkkuYadav showed his non-challance to gathered women folk by saying to one of them, that 'as soon as he is out, he will do it again to her'. Enraged, as if she was waiting for it, she pounced on the goon, with a shriek “its me or you, now or never”. It was like a war cry for the beleaguered womenfolk of Kasturba Nagar. Akku Yadav was attacked from all sides, right inside the court premises. Two terrified police men, guarding him, ran away. In 15 minutes flat, it was all over. The notorious goonda dropped dead on the floor of Nagpur district court.
Usha Narayane, could have had a role in galvanising and organising women of Kasturba Nagar. She was not part of the mob that lynched the goon. But police always looked for a easy way out. They arrested her. Reportedly, case never came up for trial. Here again, despite PPP, how an individual with courage and initiative got the better of the difficult situation to emerge victorious.
Yes, these are the stories that IWD has to publicise and celebrate to send the message that Hum Bhi Kuch Kam Nahee.
As we wind-up, it is pertinent to note that, this PPP is not limited to only those relating to abuse of women, but on multiple areas, where both politicians and police are benefited socially, politically and financially. They are too numerous to detail. May be even a book can be written about. Indian cinemas in all languages have chronicled them for larger audience. In the interest of all this nexus should break. Will it happen?

J.Shriyan

FEATURE

Medicine is too much with us.


Prof. B. M. Hegde,
hegdebm@gmail.com


I get a weekly dose of happiness from the British Medical Journal these days. This week, the last of February 2013, is something that gives me lots of joy as I have been saying this for now well over 45 years. The first article that I published-How to avoid modern medicine and survive-almost cost me my job in the medical school. I survived by the skin of my teeth. This week’s BMJ says just what I said then-Too much medicine. 
I was reminded of this little poem by that Romantic British poet, William Wordsworth, who in the year 1802 criticised the world for the First Industrial Revolution where he thought that we had lost ourselves in materialism to the exclusion of nature! How true it could be said today about modern medicine and its ravages?

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon”.

Every word that he wrote there could aptly be said about modern medicine and our obsession with the philosophy of a pill for every ill.

Medicine is too much with us; late and soon,
Diagnosing and drugging, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in nature that is curative medicine,
We have given our hearts away to the drug barons, a sordid boon.”

Call me a therapeutic nihilist, if you will-I couldn’t care less. I shall give you an idea as to what we are doing at the moment. Just as the industrial revolution did a lot of damage and is still doing, drugs and irrational modern medicine will do the same if left unchecked. For most of us it is safer and profitable to go with the flow but if you have the good of the common man at heart it pains to know the truth in modern medicine-a Golem, indeed!
The first five years of the Iraq War cost USA a total of 4200 soldiers dead. In the first three months of 2008 alone 4800 patients died because of prescription medicines. Every year 700,000 people in the USA need emergency out-patient hospital care following an adverse reaction to a prescription drug. Of these, 16 per cent are admitted to hospital for surveillance. (JAMA 2006; 296: 1858-1866) That's according to a new analysis by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a watchdog group that compiled reports from FDA’s own statistics.
More than a quarter of a million Adverse Drug Reactions a year, costing the NHS Sterling pounds 466 million (BMJ 2004; 329: 15-19.) come from common drugs like aspirin, diuretics, warfarin, pain killers and many such drugs which could have easily been avoided. The indirect deaths due to antibiotics, various blockers and statins are not recorded.  From these data the researchers extrapolated the data for the whole of UK to be 250,000 per year deaths due to prescription drugs alone. One could imagine the death load for a vast country like India of 1.2 billion population, which could be mind boggling. I dare say the greatest weapons of mass destruction are the prescription drugs! May be we in India also get another benefit. They are a useful tool for population control, in addition!
A Dutch study published in the European Heart Journal a few years ago gave the statistics of all deaths between 1995 and 2003 in a population of half a million people from 150 general practices with perfect record keeping systems. Those who had sudden cardiac deaths were compared to matched controls.  The analysis showed that people using a range of drugs known to affect the heart were nearly three times more likely to die suddenly. All those drugs were known to prolong the QT interval in the ECG. One example was Cisapride, commonly given for heart burn. There are many others. In short, there is nothing called the fully safe drug!, Antibiotics, antipsychotic drugs and those used to treat nausea and vomiting may all be involved because they have the ability to interfere with the electrical activity that controls the heartbeat.
Barbara Starfield of Johns Hopkins alerted the USA about this sordid boon in the year 2000 in her article in the  (JAMA 2000; 284: 483) She showed from the IOM data that the medical establishment was one of the leading causes of death in that country. She also quoted the 14  industrialized countries’ study which showed that with minimum medical effort Japan stood on top and USA with top heavy medical system came last but one with Germany at the bottom! 
Gary Null and his colleagues, using the same data five years later, showed that the medical profession topped the list of cause of death followed by cancer and heart attack in that order of preference! Doctors going on strike in different countries at different times in the last twenty five years consistently showed death and disability rates falling down sharply only to level again when they come back! (BMJ 2000; 320: 1561.1) All this and more show that all in not well and needs immediate change for the better. Wake up, arise, and sleep not until we set our house in order for the good of the common man.

Author is the former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University & a recipient of Padma Bhushan.


            









YEH MERA INDIA

3years & 75000 children still untraced: Govt


New Delhi: Around 75,000 children have gone missing in the last three years in the country and are still untraced, the Rajya Sabha was informed. Of the about 2.36 lakh children who went missing in the last three years, 1,61,800 have been traced, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Paban Singh Ghatowar said during the Question Hour. "Unfortunately about 75,000 are still untraced," he said. The Centre, he said, has issued advisories to states to appoint nodal officers at all police stations to deal with such cases and make registration of FIRs mandatory. The advisories followed two interim orders of Supreme Court in January 2013, he said. The Supreme Court had ordered mandatory recording of FIR with regard to missing children and formation of special Juvenile Police units in different states.

4 rapes a day in Delhi in 2013

New Delhi: Four rapes have been reported in Delhi every day till the middle of February, almost double the number of sexual assault cases reported for the same period last year. 181 rapes were reported in Delhi between January and February 15. Delhi's shameful reputation as the "rape capital" of India has been in focus since a young medical student was fatally gang-raped on a moving bus in Delhi after being battered with an iron rod.

'Own-a-Goat’ & Goat herd goes missing


Bhayandar : Now a “ Own-a-Goat” scam has emerged in the Naya Nagar area of Mira Road. The police are on the lookout of two brothers who fled after duping gullible investors – especially members from the Muslim community under the pretext of hefty returns on investments made for rearing goats.
According to the police, the brother duo identified as Mohd. Ismail Khan and Mohd. Nazir Khan, floated a company GWD Investments near Razzaz Theater in Mira Road. Claiming to have large goat-rearing farms in various parts of the country, the duo floated advertisements in Urdu newspapers, soliciting an investment of Rs 30,000 each from members of the Muslim community, promising a monthly return of Rs 1,000 and doubling the money in less that 3 years.
The scheme initially attracted a large number of gullible people and worked as long as it drew in more investors. Early birds were paid their assured monthly returns, however the scheme floundered and the duo went absconding. Following a complaint registered by Mira Road resident, Shakeel Shaik, the police registered an offence under section 420 of the IPC against the duo. “As of now we have received more than 100 complaints who have fallen prey to the fraud. Bank accounts with a balance of more than Rs 1.80 crore have been frozen and a SUV-Ford Endeavour has been seized.” said investigating officer, PSI, Aslam Khateeb, who added that the judiciary has also directed the police department to auction the 176 goats that have been recovered from a Shahpur farm.

2012: 41 pilots found tipsy

New Delhi: Forty six pilots were found to have violated aviation safety norms last year and 41 tested positive for alcohol during pre-flight medical examination, the Lok Sabha was told.
“41 pilots tested alcohol positive during the pre-flight breath analyser test, of which two found positive for the second time and were suspended for five years,” K C Venugopal, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, said.
The DGCA has taken stern action against the tipsy pilots and suspended 39 of them from flying duties for three months.
Of the 41 pilots, 15 were of Jet Airways (11) and JetLite (4) combined, followed by IndiGo’s eight, six each of Air India and SpiceJet and three each of  GoAir and now grounded Kingfisher Airlines, the minister said.
One of the pilots of Jet Airways and one of GoAir were suspended from flying duties for five years after being found guilty for the second time, he added.

'Date of birth on Wedding invite' - Rajasthan

Jaipur : To curb child marriages that are rampant in Rajasthan’s rural areas, the state government has issued a directive that the date of birth of the bride and groom be printed on wedding invitation cards, officials said, reports media.
All district collectors and superintendents of police (SP) have already been asked to ensure strict enforcement of the directives, likely to be enforced across the state soon.
A senior woman and child welfare department officer told IANS: “All printing press owners will have to secure a date of birth certificate from the families of the bride as well as the groom before printing the wedding cards.”
The officer said that if the printing press owner finds either the bride or the groom or both are not of the legal age for marriage, he would turn down the print order. “He may even have to report the proposed wedding to the district administration, so that it can be prevented,” the officer said.
Printing press owners found flouting the orders would face arrest and six months’ imprisonment, and also have to cough up a fine of Rs.1,000. The project was launched on a pilot basis at Bharatpur district in April last year. “The results are great. About 50 child marriages were prevented in the past one year. Now, it has been implemented across the state,” the officer said.
“Since wedding invitation cards are commonly printed to invite guests, we have directed printing press owners to follow these orders. They have been asked to submit a copy of the invitation card for each wedding taking place in the respective district administration. These wedding cards will be scanned,” the officer said.
Child marriages are rampant in the state, especially in the rural areas, on Akha Teej or Akshaya Tritiya, a day considered auspicious for weddings. This year, Akha Teej falls in May.

Afzal  is 'sahib'!!

Jammu:  Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah described Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, who was hanged to death on Feb 9, in respectful terms in the state legislative assembly suffixing his name with “sahib”. The suffix “sahib” is usually reserved for men held in respect. Afzal Guru was convicted and sentenced to death by the Supreme Court for plotting the December 2001 attack on Parliament.

Jharkhand legislator holds kangaroo court

Ranchi : A Jharkhand legislator held a kangaroo court and punished a man after his wife’s complaint over ill-treatment by her alcoholic husband.
Jagannath Mahto, a Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) legislator, held the ‘Jan Adalat’ on the  complaint of Jitendra Chaudhary’s wife at Bhandarida village situated in Bokaro district, around 140 Km from Ranchi. 
The legislator asked his supporters to tie Chaudhary, in his early 30s, with a tree.
“He will be kept tied till he promises to quit drinking and lead a good life with the family members,” Mahto told reporters. 
The legislator said Chaudhary was an alcoholic and his family members were suffering due to his bad habit. 
According to villagers, Chaudhary frequently thrashed his wife after drinking alcohol and also sold off her jewellery. 
After the “punishment” awarded at the court held by the legislator, Jitendra told reporters: “I will quit drinking.” 



MONTH THAT WAS


Wipro among world’s most ethical firms


Bangalore : IT bellwether Wipro Ltd has been recognised for the second year as one of the world’s most ethical firms by leading business ethics think-tank Ethisphere Institute, the company said.
“The recognition is for our commitment to ethical leadership, compliance practices and corporate citizenship,” the global software major said in a statement.
As a leading US-based international organisation dedicated to creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, governance and anti-corruption and sustainability, the institute selects global firms that embrace ethical business practice and demonstrate industry leadership, forcing peers to follow them.
“Integrity and ethics have always been a core part of how we think and act. Our endeavour is to keep raising the bar with our stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers and investors,” Wipro chief sustainability officer Anurag Behar said in the statement.
According to Ethisphere executive director Alex Brigham, more companies had applied this year than in the past for the recognition, affirming that ethical activity was an important part of their business models. Companies from 100 countries across 36 industry verticals applied for the recognition this year.



Egyptian student wins trip to India

Cairo: Ahmed Aba Ya Zeed, a university student, has won a trip to India, thanks to a poster competition organised here. Prizes have been distributed to the winners and participants of the poster competition themed "Did you sense the spirit of Gandhi in Tahrir Square?" organised jointly by the Embassy of India in Cairo and the Artistic Creativity Centre.

‘Disabled’ boy wins science talent award


Mumbai : A boy who was hounded out of a Panvel school for being “dim-witted” has won a gold medal in the prestigious Dr Homi Bhabha Bal Vaigyanik Science Talent Search Competition.
 In fact, his parents pulled him out of the school because he was “mentally and physically tortured”, not only by his classmates but “also by his teachers”. Some other Panvel schools too rejected him as “disabled”, said his mother.
All that was wrong with the boy, Jatin Patil, was that he is autistic. Now a Std. IX student of Vashi’s Fr Agnel Multipurpose school, Jatin won the award for his project on Organic Pesticides and their effect on Aphid insects.
The Homi Bhabha Bal Vaigyanik competition is conducted to assess the aptitude for science among high school children. “It is a three-tier examination and clearing the three levels is no mean task,” said a proud Fr S Almeida, long-time principal of the school, who now heads the Fr Agnel Technical Education Complex.
In fact, Jatin’s story has several parallels with the Aamir Khan film, Taare Zamin Par, which is on autism, a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior.
In the initial written round, Jatin stood first in the Thane Division and sailed into the second practical examination round where only 7.5% of the candidates make the grade. In the third and final Project and Interview round, he chose Organic Pesticides and their effect on Aphid insects.
According to his mother Archana, he chose this because he noticed aphids spoiling their rose and shoe flower plants. He made a concoction of ginger, garlic and chilies as a bio-pesticide, which gave him 70 % results.
He began work on this project in December and visited farms from Karjat to Badlapur. After an interview by a panel of eminent scientists, Jatin was awarded the prestigious gold medal.
The Homi Bhabha Bal Vaigyanik gold medal is just one of Jatin’s impressive list of academic achievements. He stood sixth in the Maharashtra State Scholarship Exams, ninth in the National Talent Search scholarship exam and was ranked 93 in the International Maths Olympiad.A voracious reader, Jatin is tutored by his mother, a pathologist, and regularly tops his class. Asked what he wants to become, the boy unhesitatingly says, `scientist’.


L&T approaches govt to surrender SEZ, 16 cos seek more time




Reflecting lack of enthusiasm for special economic zones, 16 developers including Cognizant Technology Solutions and Parsvnath SEZ have sought more time from the government for implementing their projects.
Besides, four developers, including L&T Chennai Projects and Welspun Anjar, have approached the Commerce Ministry to surrender their IT and textile zones respectively.
"These proposals will be taken up by the Board of Approval (BoA) headed by Commerce Secretary S R Rao on March 15," an official said.
L&T Chennai Projects Pvt Ltd, has requested for de-notification of the SEZ on the grounds of global recession in IT/ITES sector, general slowdown in macroeconomic scenario and introduction of minimum alternate tax and dividend distribution tax, the official said.
The other developers, which have sought more time to implement their projects, include Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation, Cochin Port Trust and Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority.



Bundle of clothes derail train

Mumbai : In a bizarre case, a CST-bound local train was derailed near Wadala station by a bundle of clothes. So says the Central Railway.
The first coach went off the rails, leading to an hour-long delay on the Vashi-CST section of the Harbour Line. No one was hurt though in the mishap that happened at 4.23 P.M.  According to a CR spokesperson, a woman hawker threw two bundles of clothes out of the train as it approached the station. One of the bundles bounced off the wall and landed under the wheels, derailing the train.
The woman, identified as Lalita Tuljaram Bhore (42), has been arrested under the Railways Act 150 (Maliciously wrecking or attempting to wreck a train) and 151 (Damage to or destruction of certain railway properties.) Lalita ran away after she realised what had happened but came back after a while to collect the bundle. The GRP officers who had been alerted were on the scene when the woman returned.
“She returned to the spot and confessed that the bundle was hers,” said senior police inspector Jitendra Rathod. “The woman was asking for the bundle and said that it was her only source of income,” he added.

US Court fines Swiss Bank for tax evasion

Washington : A New York court has ordered private Swiss bank, Wegelin & Co, to pay $58 million on charges of hiding $1.5 billion in secret accounts and the income generated in those accounts from the US government.
This is for the first time that a foreign bank in the US has been indicted for facilitating tax evasion by US taxpayers and the first guilty plea and sentencing of such a bank.         
With the April 2012 forfeiture of more than $ 16.2 million from the US correspondent bank account of Wegelin & Co – a Swiss private bank and the oldest in the country- the US has recovered $ 74 million.
In January, Wegelin had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud Internal Revenue Service, filing false federal income tax returns and evading federal income taxes before US District Judge Jed S Rakoff.      
 “Wegelin has now paid a steep price for aiding and abetting tax fraud that should be heeded by other banks, bankers, and advisers who engage in the same conduct,” US Attorney Preet Bharara said.              




ABRACADABRA


Lions, bears in gangster's property !

Bucharest (Romania): Authorities have removed 4 lions and 2 bears from the estate of Ion Balint, a Romanian gangster, who used them to threaten his victims.


US landlord whips late-paying tenant

Waynesville: A US landlord is accused of whipping a tenant with a belt on his bare buttocks for falling behind on his rent. Ron Kronenberger, 53, was charged with assault for the January 22 encounter in his office, police said. They said the 29-year-old tenant was late with a USD 2800 rent payment. “If you’re going to act like a child, I’m going to treat  you like one,” Kronenberger was quoted in the report as saying before striking the tenant four times with a belt.


Boy fools security & flies without ticket

London: A 12-year-old Belgian boy managed to sneak into the international departure zone of the Brussels airport and boarded a plane to Spain without a ticket. 
Belgium's RTBF broadcaster said the boy, whose name was not disclosed, was spotted by a police officer in the airport of the southern Spanish city of Malaga. 
Asked where his parents were, the child answered in French that they were registering for a flight. It turned out, however, that the boy arrived in Malaga on a Jet Air flight without a boarding pass or ID.

Girl steals train, crashes it into building in Sweden



London : In a bizarre incident that seems straight out of a movie, a 20-year-old cleaner girl in Sweden stole an empty commuter train and drove it straight into an apartment building suffering severe injuries.
The young girl appears to have been unable to stop the train once she reached the end of the line in the exclusive suburb of Stockholm. The woman was going at such speed that the train continued for nearly 100 feet off-rail before it smashed into the apartment house where three families were asleep, the Daily Mail reported.
The train-thief was trapped inside the drivers cabin for two hours before emergency services were able to cut her from the wreckage. She was conscious but suffered serious injuries and had to be airlifted to Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm.The train was empty and stationary at the time of the theft and none of the five adults reportedly in the house at the time of the accident were hurt. Train operators Arriva said the woman, who was employed by an external cleaning company, “really put her foot down”.
“The train drove straight through the barrier, so it must have been going a lot faster than these trains normally do,” spokesman for Stockholms Lokaltrafik Fredrik Cavalli-Bjorkman said, adding that at normal speed, the train would have been blocked by the buffer stop.  
Police commander Ulf Lindgren said: “The fact that we’re not dealing with a more serious accident is absolutely unbelievable, both for those who were inside the building and on the train. It’s incredible lucky that the situation is not worse.” It is not clear how the woman got the keys to start the train’s engine, but a rail technician at the scene told Swedish newspaper Expressen that one of his colleagues “lost the keys to this train, is in a bad state and is blaming himself”.


£ 10 million car fails to start



London : It can happen to just about anyone! Queen Elizabeth II was left waiting as her 10 million pound luxury Bentley failed to start after a church service, but the monarch made light of the situation andremained  unfazed.
Standing nearby, the Queen was seen laughing and pointing as her chauffeur tried to coax the motor into action outside St Mary Magdalene church on the Norfolk estate.
The 86-year-old Queen evidently saw the funny side when her state Bentley, said to be worth 10 million pounds, refused to come to life after the church service at Sandringham, The Telegraph reported.

Peeping Tom held for camera in bathroom

Thiruvananthapuram: A 44-year-old electrician has been arrested for allegedly installing a hidden camera in a water heater he had fixed in his neighbour's bathroom. The electrician, identified as Reghunath, installed the miniature camera inside the heater's altometer box to capture images from the bathroom, police said. The house, at Muttada near here, belonged to his long-time neighbour. The camera had a small radio AV transmitter which sent the images from the bathroom to the computer-linked receiver installed at the electrician's house.

Russian takes hostages: settles for a pizza & cold drink

A man in southern Russia took four people hostage for several hours in a bizarre abduction where his only demand was a takeaway pizza and a fizzy drink, police said. Police cordoned off the building and met the man's demands by delivering the requested food and drink, the police added. After the negotiations that lasted several hours, all the hostages were released unharmed.


THE LAST PAGE


Changing face of Indian society

Dr. M. V. Kamath


We are living in turbulent times. We seem to have woken up to the fact only after the events of 16 December 2012 when a 23-year old paramedic travelling with a friend late at night in a bus was molested and murderously raped by over a dozen –fellow travelers. It was a heart-rending happening that came as a shock to every Indian citizen. Since then rape and molestation case of all kinds are making news on a daily basis. Delhi is standing out as a particularly dangerous place for women to stir out at nights. Between March 2012 and March 2013 there has been a 127 per cent increase in rape cases. Additionally some 587 cases of molestation have been registered by the police. The Chief Minister of the city, Sheila Dixit is even quoted as saying that her own daughter feels unsafe in the city. Is this development peculiar only to the capital or can it be presumed that more such incidents are taking place in every state capital and urban centres as well? What is the truth? When a father rapes his own daughter, an uncle his niece and a female child of ten is raped by an elder, isn’t it time to ask what is wrong with our society? And why and how conditions have deteriorated in Indian society? One explanation given is that with the breakup of joint families the security of women has taken a nose-dive; another explanation is that late marriage have left single women unprotected. Yet another explanation is that thanks to access to higher education and thereby to jobs, women have become more noticeable and open targets to physical attacks. One hears of times past when sex-obsessed men had easy access to prostitution; presently with empowerment of women being the order of the day, houses of ill-repute have all but disappeared. In a strange way empowerment of women has created its own set of problems undreamt of in years gone by. The new middle class woman has turned – at least in the eyes of the lower classes – more aggressive and self-assertive that males find it hard to get adjusted to. When India became independent in 1947, the Middle Class averaged around 2.4 percent in a population of around 300 million people. By 2011 this percentage has risen to an astounding 37 percent in a population of 1.2 billion. It is this Middle Class that rules the country and consciously or unconsciously lays down social behaviour, in terms of dress and deportment, man-woman relations, inter-caste marriages and the like arousing envy, jealousy and hatred among the lower castes and classes, which feel frustrated. It is this frustration, one suspects that is the main cause for the kind of violence we see today in everyday life. Unlike western developed nations which are largely mono-cultured, India is sharply divided along caste and class lines each functioning along established and well-laid out rules of social behaviour. It is when such classes co-exist with the Middle Classes literally cheek by jowl, as in Delhi that tension prevails which, in turn ends in violence. Our Middle Classes don’t seem to realise that they are living in a multi-cultured society functioning under different sets of values, often in contradiction to each other. It is a fact that we ignore at our peril. And yet it is a fact that the Middle Classes constantly forget only to be reminded of it when violence takes an ugly turn. Then all hell is let loose. Instances of rape and molestation are not confined to one class or caste. They seem to cut across all social groups. But why?  And how come? A woman accuses her brother-in-law of raping her. A 22-year old woman from Delhi was allegedly raped and dumped in a Faridabad jungle by the driver of a car who had offered her a lift. A report from Gurgaon noted that a 27-year old woman employee claimed that she was gang-raped by two persons, including a colleague, in a moving car. According to Hindustan Times (8 March) a woman in Delhi is “molested or raped every two hours”. What pushes people to commit such crimes? And that, too, not against the very rich or the very poor but against women of the middle class? What is it that warps male minds? Can we blame the media itself? One presumes that Sheila Dixit reads the leading dailies in Delhi which publish the most horrendous pictures of semi-nude females in seductive poses, on a daily basis. Does Mrs Dixit approve of them? If she doesn’t, has she conveyed her views to the editors and publishers of the concerned media? If she hasn’t why hasn’t she? Also, has anybody questioned woman’s organisations in Delhi in this matter? It is time they did. If anyone is guilty of corrupting the minds of the young, the charge is best laid at the English media which is literally allowed to get away with murder. But no one seems willing to face the media. Not even Mr Markandey Katju, chairman of the Press Council. It is a matter of shame. At the same time, can one expect the large and growing class of the educated middle class woman to do some self-introspection? She is seen to be getting westernised in many ways and word is going round that pre-marital sex is no longer considered taboo, nor is late night partying or heavy drinking. One learns, for instance, that there once were some 500 pubs in Mumbai catering exclusively to women. In a country where certain provinces are notorious for “honour  killing” (does not remember the shocking Manoj Babli Honour killing case?) it comes as no surprise that an educated middle class woman who clings to her own values as by right, ends up being a target of aggressive males. The killing of Manoj and Babli was ordered by a Khap panchayat which could not accept Babli marrying a man from another caste. The two were kidnapped and strangled to death and their bodies wrapped in gunny bags dumped in a canal. From what one hears, in certain sections of society, for the average middle class male, an educated, self-reliant and self-confident female is an anathema. Unlike khap which is largely prevalent in the inner regions of north Indian states like Haryana, West Uttar Pradesh, parts of Rajasthan and Punjab, the aggressive middle class mate is a common phenomenon throughout the country. It is for our active women’s organisations to address themselves to societal changes in India and do something constructive. Laws can only lay down rules, they can’t change mind-sets; to achieve the latter should be a matter of immediate concern to our thinkers.